Authors: delicatale and somehowunbroken
Word Count: 8,327
Notes: Cowritten with delicatale , because she had an awesome plot bunny and I jumped in :) Beta read by stjarna1984 .
Summary: Danny has been back in Jersey for a year, living with Rachel and his kids. When Steve finally gets out of prison, Kono calls, and things don't quite turn out like he thought they would.
It's three in the morning when Danny pads into the living-room, Julian in his arms. Rachel's here, hair slightly mussed, in that way Danny has always found more endearing than her usual slick do; he likes her better when she doesn't remind him so much of their difference in status. She's got a glass of milk in her hand and she looks young, but tired, lines around her eyes that didn’t use to be there. She's still so beautiful, and Danny clenches his jaw at the sharp punch it sends through his gut, how she's still this beautiful and yet she's not what he wants anymore.
"Sorry I woke you up."
"It's fine. He's okay?" Rachel asks.
"Yes,” Danny assures her. “He's more of an ogre than Grace ever was."
"Takes after his father, I guess."
She smiles, and it's a little defeated. Danny watches her eyes sweep over their living-room from the chair she's sitting on, and she pulls her legs underneath her when her eyes rake over the throw blanket and pillows. Danny's been sleeping on the couch for two weeks now.
It’s already over; for all that it’s not going down in a ball of flames this time. It’s just – it was comfortable, familiar, that’s why they’d fallen back into it. Danny still loves her and Rachel still loves him, but they’re not in love, not like they had been, and they both know it’s pretty much just a matter of time until they go their separate ways.
“I don’t understand why you left Hawaii,” Rachel murmurs out of nowhere, and Danny would have jumped at the statement if it wasn’t for the fact that Julian is finally, finally asleep against his chest.
“You were leaving,” Danny says, as if that’s the answer to everything. “You and Grace, Julian, you were all coming back to Jersey. What was left in Hawaii for me if you weren’t there?”
Rachel just smiles again, that sad little twitch of her lips, and doesn’t say anything.
Danny bites his lip and runs his tongue over his top teeth as all the things Rachel isn't saying assault him. He's made a decision, the choice was his - when there was nothing else he could do for Steve, when the team disintegrated under his feet, leaving him to free fall, Rachel had been the only stable thing he could hold on to, the only person keeping him sane. He spent months of looking for hard evidence that was hidden behind walls too high for Danny’s detective status to climb, and the defeat he still feels now echoes with the failure of his relationship with Rachel. It'd been so easy though, at the time, and then it'd been so easy for the whole thing to break down too, piece by piece, and no amount of love they share for their children can glue the pieces back together.
Rachel stands, all long graceful limbs barely covered by the small silk robe she's wearing - a leftover of a life with Stan that still manages to make Danny's stomach clench painfully. She walks to him, leaning in to kiss Julian's forehead, her fingers threading through Danny's hair at the back of his head. When she leans up, she kisses his temple, and he can't mistake the dull ache in her eyes.
"I'm going back to bed. Don't stay up too late."
Danny’s cell rings as he’s shutting the door to Julian’s room, and he answers it before registering the ringtone. “Williams.”
“Danny,” Kono says, and her voice sounds bright, sounds like the size and shape of the hole in Danny’s chest. “Steve’s out.”
Danny’s not sure what to do when he hangs up the phone. He made his choice, okay, and it was hard and messy and hurt like a bitch, but they’d found a place easily enough, rooms for Grace and the baby and him and Rachel. They made their family, mended Rachel’s ties with Danny’s sisters and parents, and now he’s got an infant son with Rachel’s eyes and his hair, Grace is happy in school, he got his place with the police department in Weehawken back like he never left, and things – things are good.
Good, except he’s never been great at lying to himself, and his kids are here so that makes it where he wants to be, but it doesn’t make it home.
The memories associated with this very scene make Danny feel a little sick. Last time, Rachel and Grace hadn't been there, and last time, it was the other way around. He almost feels like he's running away from them, even if he's not. He's coming back; he's just going to Honolulu for a few days, because Kono wants him to and because she thinks Steve wants him to. He's not too sure about that one; he recalls their last goodbye, Steve telling him to go, leave, be with his family, because what good would it be for Danny to stay here and regret not seeing his second kid grow up? He remembers how cold the glass pane was when he pressed his hand against it, hanging up the phone as Steve pressed his knuckles to it on the other side. It was the worst kind of farewell, and it still makes Danny grit his teeth now.
Rachel lets go of his hand when they get to the security checkpoint, and Danny turns to Grace, lets her fly into his arms. He lifts her up, letting out reassuring sounds as she buries her face in his neck.
"Hey, I'm coming back, Monkey. Don't cry."
"Will you say hi to Uncle Steve for me?"
“Will I say hi – of course I will say hi to Uncle Steve for you. In fact,” he tells her, shifting her weight so she’s sitting on his hip and looking him in the eye, “in fact, I’ll have him call you while I’m there, how’s that sound?”
Grace’s face breaks into a smile and he hugs her tightly, kisses her forehead, and scoops Julian from Rachel’s arms.
“I’ll be back,” he says into Julian’s hair, thick and messy and frizzy all over the place. “Give me a few days. I’ll be back.”
“We’ll be here,” Rachel replies, and when he moves to kiss her goodbye she turns her head, and he ends up pressing his lips to her cheek. She smiles at him, though, and kisses his temple before taking Julian back and reaching for Grace’s hand.
He turns back to look at them when he gets through security. Grace is waving madly and Rachel has Julian’s tiny hand in hers, waving it back and forth. Danny makes himself smile, waves back, and heads to his gate.
He never thought it’d be hard – he feels trapped more often than not in this life, not by the people populating it, but by the ghosts in the shadows, the people missing. But looking over his shoulder as he takes his jacket off and sees his girls and baby boy look back, he realizes that he didn’t think leaving them would be this hard. He doesn’t want to let them go – he can’t let them go.
But when he gets to his seat on the plane, the terribly small space for his legs makes him squirm and he feels his heart start beating faster, knowing that the ghosts will be real once again soon enough. And he can’t wait to see them; to see Kono’s smile, to apologize to Chin, to – to see Steve walk free. There’s a sense of freedom invading his limbs, making him smile despite himself. He’ll miss his family, but he’s going back to his ohana, and fuck if he hasn’t missed them, too. Fuck if he doesn’t miss them, every day.
The flight is long and uncomfortable, Danny’s jeans sticking to the plastic seat, and he can’t sleep, even when he tries. He’ll be jetlagged as fuck but he’s feeling too excited, too elated, and his brain won’t stop, not for a second. And he can’t even find it in himself to feel guilty about it.
He’s got a lot of time to think, cooped up between a man who looks like Mr. Rogers and the wall, so Danny closes his eyes and thinks about Hawaii, about endless stretches of beach and malasadas and water that’s clear as crystal. His mind wanders around his memories, and he lets it go as it will; faces drift past, Amy Hanamoa and the barista at his favorite coffee shop and Tommy the pathological liar. He drifts closer and closer to home, thinking of Chin’s out-and-out laughter as Danny wiped out on his board, Kono’s beaming smile when she and Gracie had done each other’s hair, Kamekona giving them free shave ice because Grace was his new flavor tester, or so he said.
He realizes after a while that his mind’s skirting the edges of that home feeling, and he takes a deep breath and brings up the memory of Steve’s face.
It’s like opening the floodgates; pictures and memories and sounds flicker through his mind. Things like that small, private smile that Danny’s sure few have seen; how Steve had held on for dear life the first time Danny hugged him, the tone of his voice, flat and terrified, when he’d told Danny to go after three months of investigating, just go home, Danno, don’t stay here for me, go back and see Grace and Rachel and your baby, like he was signing his own death warrant. He wouldn’t take no for an answer, though, and the next time Danny tried to visit, he was told that Steve didn’t want to see him.
It had hurt – it still hurts, a phantom pain in his chest and Danny opens his eyes and presses his palm to his heart to rub the pain away.
Danny lets his eyes go unfocused as the memories wash over him and he tries to block them out, refuses to acknowledge the sting in his eyes as the ache in his heart spreads through the whole of him. He tries to concentrate on the good – on the rants and Steve’s fond smiles, beers on the lanai, wet kisses in the dark of night, laughter. The good things don’t push all the dark feelings away, but it makes breathing easier for a while.
When he opens his eyes again he can see the islands appearing underneath him, the ocean so blue and so clear when seen up close. It’s as though Danny can smell it now, feel it all around him, Hawaii engulfing him completely as he watches the slow descent. In a way, he feels as if he’s coming home more than he ever did landing in Jersey nine months ago. He listens to the stewardess rattling on about weather conditions, time differences with Newark, and the things to do and see right away.
Danny’s good knee is bouncing by the time the plane touches ground, and as soon as he walks out the stifling heat suffocates him for a second before he takes a deep breath, letting his hair fly wild around his head. It’s all a blur, the security check and the baggage claim, but everything becomes startlingly clear when he spots Kono, leaning against a row of empty benches, her face brightening up when she sees him.
Kono’s exactly as he remembers, brilliant smile and easy laugh, but there are lines on her face that he doesn’t remember. It doesn’t take a detective to figure out what caused them, and Danny pushes the guilt aside, doesn’t let himself think about how he wasn’t there to help. She chatters at him the entire drive, and Danny lets her voice wash over him. It soothes some of the ache that’s been building since he left, and when Kono pulls into the driveway, Danny can’t stop the smile from building on his face.
“I’ve been taking care of it,” Kono says as they walk up the pathway to Steve’s house. “Cut the grass, got the mail, all that stuff.”
Danny remembers them talking about it, who would take care of things in case it took a while to clear Steve. He would have done it, did for a while, before he left. Danny takes a second to just take a good look at the house, exactly the same as it was, all of it, and he embraces Kono when she leans in to hug him again, her lithe body wrapping around him, offering the kind of comfort Danny is craving, and that isn’t changing anything right now.
“Who’s here? Is he alone?”
“Nah, got some people around. Big barbecue outside, I just snuck out to go and get you.”
Danny dry-swallows, his heart beating in his stomach, threatening to make him puke in the bushes by the stairs. “Did you tell him I’m coming?”
“Don’t be mad, brah, okay? I think he’ll appreciate the surprise. He’s gotten a bit – tough.” Danny can’t blame him for that; Steve spent a year in prison, and even if he spent ten in the jungle being badass and crazy, things happen to your head when you’re stuck in an eight-by-eight cell for a year. “And I think there aren’t a lot of things that can mellow him out right now, besides. Besides you.”
“Me?” Danny swallows again as he looks into the house, trying to figure out who’s back there. “Why me?”
Kono just smiles and claps him on the back as she walks into the house.
There’s a shout as Danny walks out onto the lanai, and then he’s got two arms full of Mary Ann, who’s waving her arms and still talking to some guy to Danny’s left. There’s a round of general back-slapping and hugging and a glare from Chin that Danny doesn’t want to contemplate, but the one person he’s looking for – the reason he’s here, if he’s honest with himself – is nowhere to be found.
“Hey, where’s Steve?” Danny asks one of the guys he doesn’t know, a sergeant from HPD who had been pretty decent about the whole thing. The guy gives Danny an easy smile and shakes his head.
“Down by the water, if I had to guess,” he replies, gesturing broadly towards the ocean. “Been a little melancholy, you know?”
“Yeah,” Danny says under his breath as he walks towards the water’s edge. “Yeah, I know.”
Danny wants to stop, if only for just a second, to talk to Chin, explain – Chin of all people can understand family, but Danny left him to deal with Steve’s case without giving him much explanation. But there’s Steve, he needs to see Steve, make it real, because even now, even with all these people around, Danny doesn’t feel right, doesn’t feel like he belongs.
Chin stops him on his way, though. He glares for a while longer before his face relaxes slightly, and one of the multiple knots in Danny’s gut loosens.
“Steve told me he asked you to leave.”
“Yeah, yeah, he did. Look, Chin, I’m sorry. I should have told you –”
Chin takes a long breath before shaking his head, pulling Danny in a one-armed hug. Danny finds himself clinging without even wanting to, the relief flooding through his body.
“It’s okay, brah. We missed you around here.”
Danny nods so he doesn’t have to answer, and Chin claps his shoulder before letting him go, pointing towards the water with his thumb. It feels like only a few days passed, not a year, not many months where they didn’t talk. They’re just picking up where they left off, and it feels stupidly easy, so easy that Danny regrets not picking up the phone.
Danny avoids other people as he walks down the beach, taking his shoes and socks off as he nears the shore and spots Steve, looking out to the ocean like he’s planning on diving in.
Danny walks up next to Steve and just stands, hands in his pockets, looking at Steve. He’s just out of Steve’s line of sight – not that he thinks Steve doesn’t know he’s there, but Steve can’t see him, not yet.
“Look, Chin,” Steve says, still staring out over the ocean, “I’m fine, okay? Just – I need to-”
And then he turns and Danny can see the words die on his lips.
“Hey,” Danny says after a minute. “How are you-”
That’s all he gets out, though, because Steve wraps his arms around Danny and squeezes tightly. Danny’s just bringing his arms up to reciprocate when Steve lets go and stumbles back a few steps, and it’s all Danny can do to not follow him. “Danny,” he breathes out, and there’s so much in that one word, in Steve’s expression. Danny takes a small step forward, but Steve backs up again. “How’s, um, how’s Rachel?”
“Good,” Danny replies, stuffing his hands back into his pockets. “She’s – fine. How’s...” He trails off and waves his hand around, because there’s no good way to end that sentence. There’s also no use in apologising for anything, everything, because Steve’s why he left and why he came back, and there’s no need to point out the obvious.
“Yeah,” Steve says. “It’s – good, you know? Good.”
“Good,” Danny repeats, and they stand there for a minute, staring at each other and feeling this tension that they’ve never had to deal with build and build. Steve looks thinner, his cheekbones even more prominent than before, the muscles in his arms showing up even more, his chest narrower. But his eyes shine brightly, and he’s got a smile hanging on his lips, the kind that is a little hopeful but a little cautious, not allowed to be full-on until Danny says the right words.
Danny doesn’t say anything, though. He can’t. Instead, he just steps closer, quickly enough that Steve doesn’t have time to step back before Danny slides his arms around Steve’s waist, pushes his nose into the dip of his collarbone. Steve stays still and tense for a second before he relaxes, slumping against Danny, his nose in Danny’s hair. Danny takes in the smell of recently washed cotton and sweat, Steve’s particular brand of masculinity filling up Danny’s lungs until he can’t breathe anything else, doesn’t want to breathe anything else.
“I’m so fucking glad you’re okay.”
It’s later, after everyone’s drifted away, and it’s just Danny and Steve and a few Longboards. It could be the end of any other case, except it’s not – there’s that tension still, like they’re not sure what to say to each other.
“So Rachel’s doing well,” Steve says after a while, taking a pull from his bottle and staring out across the water.
“Yeah,” Danny agrees; there’s not much more to be said on it, and he doubts Steve wants to hear it anyway.
“She’s good. Asked me to say hi for her.”
There’s a smile on Steve’s lips, like he’s remembering something far away and long ago. “Tell her I said hi back.”
“I said I’d tell you to call her.” Danny shrugs. “Don’t feel pressured.”
“I’ll call in the morning,” Steve says absently, taking what seems like a steadying breath. “And the – the baby?”
“Julian,” Danny says, soft and proud, because he has a son, another perfect beautiful child to love. “Eight pounds, four ounces, February tenth.”
“Congratulations,” Steve says, like he had all those months ago, like he’s saying it because he thinks he should, not because he’s feeling the sentiment.
Danny’s angry all of a sudden, at the situation and himself and Steve and Rachel, everyone he can think to blame, and he stands and dusts off his pants and jerks his head back towards the house. “Look, I flew in this morning, I didn’t sleep on the plane, I’m exhausted, and I don’t want to call Kono and make her drive all the way back over here. Can I just crash on your-”
The words break off suddenly because Steve’s standing in his space, Steve’s grabbing Danny and ducking his head and kissing him hard and messy and desperate, and all Danny can do is hold on and kiss him back. It’s as if Steve cannot help himself, fingers digging into Danny’s shoulder, curling into his shirt, pulling and pushing and driving Danny crazy in two seconds flat.
Everything else flies right out of his head – Steve pushing him away a year ago, Rachel and their family, his life in Jersey – nothing fucking matters right now because he belongs here, arched against Steve as they stumble their way off the beach and inside the house, Danny’s hands framing Steve’s face, feeling contours with his thumbs because he wants to memorize them, keep them engraved in his memory when he’s got to walk away from all of this.
He’d never thought that this thing, this thing he and Steve started doing in the middle of too many funerals and arguments, Danny never thought it’d become so big. He never thought it would fill up the empty spaces Rachel left behind when she left him. He pretended it was nothing and so did Steve, but now, now they’re stuck in two separate lives where nothing fits right. As Danny bites into Steve’s neck, his fingers fumbling with Steve’s shirt, he can’t help it, the thoughts rushing through him like fuel to his actions – he doesn’t want to give this up again.
“Danny, Danny, Danny.” Steve says it like a mantra, kisses Danny again, and there is so much there compared to the void of his relationship with Rachel. Danny’s on fire from head to toe, his eyes catching Steve’s when he pulls away for a second, catching the feelings swirling around Steve’s irises, desperation and more, love. Danny can’t deny it and he doesn’t even want to anymore.
“Missed you so fucking much, Danny.”
Danny lets out a shaky breath, practically climbs over Steve, the two of them falling over on the bed – he doesn’t even know how they managed it to the bedroom. He wants to be angry still, he wants to pry the words out of Steve’s mouth, the apology, the I shouldn’t have pushed you away, but he’ll take what he can get and this is as good an apology as he’ll get.
There’s touching and moving and kissing, lots of kissing, and it sort of feels like Steve’s trying to crawl inside that hollow spot that Danny’s been trying to ignore. His hands frame Danny’s face, holding him just so, and Steve only pulls back to stare in wonder, like he thought he’d never see Danny again, like he thought he’d never have this, and Danny just has to kiss him again every time, because he doesn’t have the words to tell Steve how this is everything all rolled into one.
The thing of it is, he never expected this occasional fuckbuddy thing they’d started to end up meaning anything, not when they’d started, definitely not when things with Rachel had started picking up, because there was getting off with another person and then there was Rachel and Grace and a baby, and the fact that it might be a hard choice to make never crossed his mind. He’d wanted to stay, wanted to help Steve, but when Steve had forced him to leave, Danny hadn’t really fought on the issue.
But then he’d been back in Jersey and he and Rachel had talked, had figured a few things out, and Danny loves her and he loves his kids, but Steve – he’s in love with Steve, and it’s taken him a long goddamn time to pull his head out of the sand and figure that out. But he’s here now, watching his own fingers chase shadows over the planes of Steve’s back, and he realizes that he has no idea of where to go from here. He’s got a life back in Jersey now, responsibilities and people counting on him there, but Steve’s here, and for all he’s figured out Danny hasn’t mastered being in two places at once. It’s not like he can ask Rachel to come back to Hawaii, to have her drop everything and follow him like he’d followed her.
Or maybe he can.
Maybe. It doesn't matter now though, not when he's naked with Steve and Steve's eyes are adoring when he pushes inside Danny, slow and cautious and making Danny almost angry because he wants more, needs more.
He whispers in Steve's ear that he's not going to fucking break, and Steve seems to give up at that point, holding on to Danny like he's his life and the air he breathes, and he moves his hips fast and steady and hard and Danny loses his mind and loses himself in Steve and he doesn't want to find his footing again.
Danny comes with his own hand around his dick and Steve's teeth digging in his shoulder, driving home a mark that Danny will be unable to hide, a mark Danny doesn't want to hide. It's more than physical and he has no idea how he'll explain it to Rachel, but as he holds Steve through his own orgasm, it's another thing he doesn't care about.
They drift for a little while, just holding each other, until Danny realizes that the fingers Steve’s running down his back are trembling, and there's this closed-off look on his face that Danny can't figure until he can. It's the face that says that Steve's taking what he can right now, that he's storing up every little touch and moment and breath, because he knows that Danny's leaving him, that he's going back to his family and his home, and Steve's going to be left alone again.
"We're not married," Danny says softly, tracing his fingers over Steve's collarbone, feeling the indentation above his heart where he'd been stabbed and the bone never quite healed right. "Me and Rach. We're living together; it's easier, y'know, with the baby. But we talked about it, and - it's just, we're so bad for each other, really, so bad, and we didn't want to put the kids through it-"
"Okay," Steve says simply, and he's using the dead man's voice, the eerily blankness giving nothing away, which actually gives everything away.
Danny's helpless, for once without the words he needs to make this right, mostly because he wouldn't be able to find right with a compass and a map at this point.
“Steve,” he tries anyway. “Look at me, babe, please.”
Steve sighs before his eyes lift to meet Danny’s, the careful lack of warmth in them telling Danny a lot more than he needs to know. Danny’s fingers meet Steve’s cheekbone, feather light touches down along his cheek to his jaw, feeling it shift under his fingers.
“How long do we have?”
“My plane’s in four days.”
Steve closes his mouth, moves to rest on his back, staring up at the ceiling as if he’s processing the information, but his hand is still moving on Danny’s chest, a point of contact between them that eases the pain. When Steve turns back to look at Danny again, he can read the unsaid things in Steve’s eyes, not hidden anymore, the stay and I don’t want to do this without you. But he doesn’t call Steve on it, just leans in and kisses Steve as if life depends on it – it feels like it does.
Danny wakes up alone, which he was pretty much expecting but kind of dreading. He rolls onto his back and sighs at the ceiling before getting out of bed and padding downstairs. He can probably get a cup of coffee in before Steve gets back from his morning swim.
“Oh, absolutely,” he hears from the living room, and when he peeks in, Steve’s relaxing on the couch in his pajama pants, broad smile on his face as he nods to whomever’s on the other side of the phone. “Way better.”
Danny leans over the back of the couch and presses a kiss to Steve’s temple, and Steve turns his head to meet Danny’s mouth. He tilts the phone away and smiles. “Morning.”
“Morning,” Danny murmurs back. “Who’s got your ear?”
Steve’s smile grows. “Hey,” he says into the phone, “there’s someone here who wants to say hi.”
Danny takes the phone warily. “Hello?”
“Uncle Steve agrees with me, Danno,” Grace’s voice comes over the line, and Danny’s face breaks into a smile to rival Steve’s. “Hannah Montana is better than Justin Bieber.”
“I was not aware that Uncle Steve had opinions on the matter,” Danny says with a sideways glance at Steve as he sits on the couch. “How are you, Monkey?”
He talks to Grace for a while, settling against Steve’s side and enjoying the way they fit together, the way Steve’s arm wraps around his waist, the way Steve’s fingers splay against his hip. Grace talks aimlessly, jumping from topic to topic like she usually does, and Danny listens to the familiar cadence of her voice and closes his eyes, imagining that she’s here, that Julian’s here, that he can have both of the things he’s sure he can’t live without.
"Mommy wants to talk to you, Danno."
"Alright then, put her on. Hey, Monkey?" Danny pauses, smiling to himself when Steve nuzzles his neck. "Danno loves you."
"Love you too!"
She goes and Danny lets his fingers drift into Steve's hair, finding strands curling around the nape of his neck, still damp. So Steve had time for his swim and this - Danny wonders if he slept at all.
"Hi, Rach. Everything okay?"
"Just checking in. Say thanks to Steve for me, will you? Grace is ecstatic."
"Will do. How's Julian?"
"Fine. He misses you. How's Hawaii?"
Danny steals a glance to Steve. He’s not sure if he means his next words for the islands or for Steve.
"Still painstakingly beautiful."
"Grace still misses it a lot."
"She'll grow out of it."
Rachel pauses before answering. "Will you?"
Danny dry-swallows, leaning into the touch when Steve kisses his shoulder, his hand sliding around Danny's hip to rest on his lower stomach.
"I - huh -" Danny knows the answer he has for this question will never be the right one, but suddenly it hits him; he has to ask Rachel to come back to Hawaii. He's made a million and one sacrifices for her - he's tired of letting go of what he wants. Of what he needs.
"No. Probably not. Rachel, look, I'm sorry."
Steve pulls back, apparently surprised by Danny's side of the conversation. The noise Rachel makes, though, is not surprised at all.
"Don't be. I have to go, Daniel."
They spend the day lazily, talking and watching television and making love. Dinner is steaks on the grill, and Danny brings out pictures of Grace and Julian and shows them off proudly while Steve grins at him. They drink Longboards on the lanai and talk about Chin and Kono and Jenna, how Steve’s going to take a leave of absence for a while, how the new governor wants to keep him as the head of Five-0.
“I don’t know,” Steve shrugs when Danny asks him if he’s going to stay. “I’m not sure I – without-”
Something twists in Danny’s chest, sharp and painful, and he reaches over and taps Steve gently on the shoulder. “You could handle it, babe. That and more.” He smiles when Steve turns a surprised face towards him. “You weren’t a half-bad cop. Crazy, no regard for procedure or due process, but you got results.”
“Thanks,” Steve says quietly, and the smile he gives Danny is warm and open and real as he closes the space between them and kisses him softly. “I – thanks, Danny.”
Danny smiles and cups Steve’s face in his hand. “You’re welcome,” he says, kissing Steve again, and they fuck right there, out in the open, slow and easy and relaxed.
They go out the next day; Kamekona teases Danny with pineapple shave ice until Steve laughs, actually laughs, and Danny shoots the big guy a look of thanks as he takes the cup of cherry he’d originally asked for. Kamekona just smiles and nods, clapping him on the back.
“Good to have you home, brah.”
“Good to be here,” Danny says, and smiles and means it.
Danny lets Steve drag him to a public beach and put their towels right next to each other and curl into him for most of the afternoon, and Danny doesn’t say a word about sand or sunburn or the smell of salt, and when they walk down the beach barefoot as the sun’s going down, he wonders if the day could get any more perfect. It’s a little silly, he knows, but he’s got this feeling that if he cracks open a dictionary to the right page, ‘perfect’ will have a picture of this next to it, the two of them and the sun low on the horizon, spilling color over the water, Steve’s fingers brushing against Danny’s.
They meet with the team the next day and spend time laughing, telling stories about past cases, friends they’d known, and then Kono gets this mischievous look on her face and starts telling stories about Steve and Chin in high school. Danny can’t do anything but laugh at the twin looks of embarrassment and amusement of both of their faces.
They go back to Steve’s just before the sun sets, and they spend all night in bed, naked and sweaty and sated and holding each other and stealing every last second until the sun breaks, and Steve finally closes his eyes.
“When’s your flight?” he asks quietly, and Danny can’t help how his fingers clench against Steve’s shoulder, how he pulls him in a little tighter.
“Eleven,” Danny finally replies. “With stopovers and the distance and everything, it’ll be about five tomorrow morning there when I get back.”
“Stay,” Steve whispers into Danny’s shoulder, and Danny just pulls him in tighter.
“Babe,” Danny says helplessly, and then his phone rings.
He doesn't want to answer. He wants to tell Steve he's staying, that he's never going back to a life without him in it, without his strength and support and the knowledge that he's alive and well and, above all else, happy. But his phone is persistent and Steve rolls away, gives Danny a look, and Danny picks up the phone, Rachel's face smiling up at him as his caller ID shows the picture Grace took.
"Danny, it's me. I, um. We are at the airport."
"You - you are?"
Danny feels his heart climbing up his throat. They haven't slept, he's exhausted to the bone; his muscles are aching nicely, reminders of a few hours earlier when he rode Steve's cock until his thighs trembled. He can feel Steve on him, the ghosts of his touches making Danny ache as he tries to make sense of what he wants and what's going on at the same time.
She sighs, soft and a little broken, and Danny's heart shatters and pulls itself back together at the same time.
"Grace misses Hawaii. You miss Steve. Two unhappy people out of four, Danny? That doesn't say much about me as a mother or as a friend."
“Rachel,” he says, and then she’s laughing at him, a trembling little sound that sounds like the answer to every question racing through his mind. Danny’s hand reaches blindly for Steve’s, and when he finds it he holds on tightly. “Where – you’re there now?”
“We are,” she confirms. “We’ve been travelling for quite a while. Would you be able to give us a ride?”
“God,” he chokes out, and he wonders if Steve can feel how quickly his heart is beating, how his fingers are shaking. “Where to?”
“Well, a hotel, I should think,” Rachel says. “Stan’s moved off the island, and I don’t think I’d be very welcome there now, anyway. I’ve really nowhere else to go while I look for an apartment.”
“Here, you can stay here,” Danny blurts out, ignoring the way Steve’s tugging at his hand. “We’ve got the – there are extra rooms here.”
Rachel laughs at him again, that gentle, teasing laugh. “Just come get us,” she instructs. “We’ll work out the specifics then.”
Danny hangs up and smiles as though his life depends on it, wide and happy enough to break his face in two. When he turns his head to face Steve he feels as if it’s too much, all the emotion he’s keeping in, so he pulls himself up and leans across the space between them and tucks his head into Steve’s shoulder and laughs, giddy and relieved.
“Danny?” Steve asks cautiously, and Danny looks up at his confused expression, and he laughs again as he leans in to kiss it away.
Steve pulls back after allowing Danny to kiss him for a while, and Danny reaches out, brushing his thumb over the creases on Steve's brow, smoothing out the lines of worry there.
"Danny, what is it?"
"We have to go - to the airport. Rachel - Rachel's here. With Grace and Julian."
Steve opens his mouth, closes it. Then he's up in a flash, pulling on his underwear and a t-shirt that is probably not clean at the same time. Danny laughs again, feeling tears in his eyes, and he doesn't know if it's delirium or relief or tiredness but he could sob for hours right now.
They both are dressed and into Steve's truck in record time, Steve's particular brand of crazy driving not bothering Danny in the slightest right now, but he can't help speaking up anyway, feeling the ease with which he's slipping into their old habits.
"You're following speed limits and red lights when my children are in the car, you hear me? Otherwise I'll go all Jersey on your ass."
Steve grins, not impressed by the threat.
"‘Oh, yeah,’ he asks - have you ever been to New Jersey, Super SEAL? We're scrappy and creative, Steve, you do not know the things I can do."
“I think I’ve got a pretty good idea,” Steve murmurs as he swings the truck into a spot in the short-term parking lot. He catches Danny’s hand before Danny can reach for the door. “This is – they’re here for good?”
“It sounded like it,” Danny replies, grinning at Steve’s smile. “Let’s go find them, huh?”
It’s not hard to do; as soon as they walk into the terminal, there’s a shriek of “Uncle Steve!” from one of the waiting benches, and Danny turns just in time to watch Steve catch Grace in mid-jump. He laughs and hugs her tightly, spinning her in a quick circle before setting her back on the ground. Grace rushes over and throws her arms around Danny’s middle, grinning up at him.
“Mommy says we’re moving back to Hawaii,” she tells him happily. “We get to live in a hotel for a little while and then we’re gonna find a new apartment and I get to paint my room pink!”
“Really,” Danny laughs, brushing her hair out of her face. “Pink, huh?”
“If she wants,” Rachel says, and Danny looks up to find her standing a few feet away, Julian tucked into her arms. She looks uncertain in a way that she very rarely does. “I know you weren’t expecting us,” she goes on. “But I thought – and you sounded so happy on the phone the other day, Danny, I just couldn’t bear-”
Danny takes three steps and hugs her as fiercely as he dares while she’s holding a four-month-old baby. “I don’t even know how to say thanks,” he says. “I thought about asking if you’d – but Rach, I just-”
Rachel smiles at him, and it’s a little sad and a lot affectionate. “You followed us once,” she reminds him, and it’s like she’s echoing his thoughts from the other night. “Now we’re following you.”
Danny hugs her again, burying his nose in the softness of Rachel's hair, the smell a memory both fond and hard to digest at the same time.
He doesn't have anything else to say and he's got a million words at the same time. His thoughts are jumbled and he can't make sense of them right now. Right now it's all drowned out, white noise in the back of his mind as happiness takes center stage. He pulls away and grazes a finger along Julian's cheek, smiling softly down at him.
"You're coming back to Steve's. At least for today, you need some decent sleep and the house is big enough for all of us."
Rachel looks ready to protest, but Danny throws a glance at Steve over his shoulder, making him step forward towards them, Grace settled on his hip. Rachel smiles at him, a little tight, but Danny cannot miss the look in her eyes, the recognition, the relief, the apologies and the thank yous.
Steve smiles, shakes his head as if it's not his title anymore, as if he's not that man anymore. Danny knows better.
"Hey, Rachel," he says, slow and soft, cautious. She reaches out with her free hand, squeezes his wrist. Steve smiles bigger, looser. "We do have enough space. Come on, don't make him beg."
"Can we go back to Uncle Steve's house, Mommy? He has a beach!"
Rachel sighs like she's put upon, but it sounds amused. It makes Danny's heart explode.
"Fine, fine, I'm being ganged up on. I don't think I have a choice!"
They settle Rachel and the kids into the spare rooms at Steve’s house; Grace immediately reclaims Mary’s old room, the one she’d always slept in when Danny had brought her over on his weekends, and asks Steve if she can paint this room pink, too. Steve laughs over Danny’s objections and tells her that she can paint it any color she wants, and she leads him down the stairs, chattering endlessly about the many positive applications of her favorite color. Danny follows them down, watching as Grace deftly navigates Steve’s computer through Home Depot’s website, asking him if he prefers Bubblegum or Carnation.
Steve’s smiling down at her, offering pros and cons to each, and suddenly he hears Rachel laugh from beside him.
“I can see why you fell for him,” she says softly, smiling as Steve points out a different shade of pink on the screen and Grace squints at it. “He’s quite a man, Danny.”
“He is,” Danny agrees. “We should – we should talk.”
“We should,” she says, nodding her head. “Let me just-”
And she walks over to where Steve and Grace are standing, taps Steve on the shoulder, and places Julian deftly into his arms, adjusting his posture until Steve is cradling the baby properly, staring down at him like he’s been handed the keys to the kingdom.
“Let’s talk,” Rachel says to Danny, moving towards the doorway and leaving Steve alone with their children.
Danny can't stop looking at Steve, though, even when he and Rachel move outside. He can see Grace talking to Steve about Julian, her attention switched from the computer to her little brother. And he can see Steve's face, looking down at Danny's son like he's a precious treasure that he's afraid to let go of, to break, some kind of fragile porcelain that Steve is guarding for a few minutes. He looks breathtaking, Julian so small in his arms. Danny's stomach clenches with want and love and stupid, stupid feelings of exhilaration.
It's painful to turn his eyes away from them, his family - but he manages, looking at Rachel and the resigned pain in her eyes.
"I would have come back, you know."
"I know. I also know you love him. As I said earlier, you followed me once. I don't want you to be stuck in an unhappy life in Jersey because of me, Danny. I love you - I care for you too much for that."
Danny leans forward and rests his forehead against Rachel's. She closes her eyes.
"I'll always be there for you, Rach, you know that?"
Rachel smiles before she pulls away, dabbing at her eyes a little. “I’ve got a lead on an apartment already. It’s not too far from here – twenty minutes, maybe.”
“We have to go back to Jersey, pack things up, talk to the landlord-”
“Your sisters helped me pack, and they’re taking things to the shipping center for us,” Rachel interrupts. “I’ve put a call in to the landlord, as well. He’s out of the office, but he should call back next week.”
Danny can only stare, speechless. “My sisters-”
“Helped pack and are shipping our things out,” Rachel confirms.
“And my parents-”
“-would probably appreciate a phone call,” she tells him with a smile. “I’m afraid I didn’t give them a very thorough explanation. I figured that was your news to share, not mine.”
Danny draws her in and hugs her. “You’re an incredible person, Rachel.”
“Thank you, Daniel,” she says into his shoulder, but Danny can feel her smile anyway, as if all of this doesn’t really matter. “You’re not so bad yourself.”
He huffs a laugh, kissing her cheek. He cannot believe she put all of this into motion under such a short amount of time, while he - he had no idea, trying to keep as many memories of Steve as he could, sure they would be the last ones.
"Not so bad, huh?"
"Can't let your ego grow much bigger, Danny."
This time he just laughs, open and easy and happy as he holds her, as he looks at his family inside, his heart exploding all over the place. Things will be okay - Rachel will be okay. She can have a life here, even without Stan. Even without Danny being always by her side.
"You'll be okay, yeah?"
Rachel pulls away.
"Yeah. I think it'll do me some good to be alone for a while."
The laughter drifts up from the beach, and Danny glances out the window as he shuts the refrigerator door. Kono’s grinning like she’s proud of herself, and Jenna is doubled over, laughing so hard she’s gasping for breath. He smiles out at them, watching as Jenna points at someone across the lanai. Kono says something else, and Jenna starts laughing again.
“Nice party,” Steve murmurs into his ear, and Danny jumps.
“Your damn SEAL sneakiness is irritating,” he complains, but he settles back into Steve when Steve wraps his arms around Danny’s waist and settles his chin on Danny’s shoulder. “But yes, it’s a very nice party.”
They watch out the window together for a while. Grace has been building sandcastles by the water all day, directing Chin and Kamekona’s placement of careful sand walls and moats and spires, judging each critically before beaming at her uncles and declaring them perfect. She’s sacked out in one of the deck chairs now, curled into a truly atrocious pink blanket that Steve bought her last week.
“Where’s my son?” he asks Steve, who had been outside with the guests while Danny went searching for more cold drinks.
“Malia has him,” Steve laughs. “Chin keeps shooting me these really worried looks when she’s not watching.”
"He's a goof. He would make an amazing dad."
Danny lets go of the drinks to make the most of this small moment of privacy with Steve, watching their friends mingle together. Something clicks in Danny's mind, the knowledge that this all fits, and that he fits in the middle of it all, ohana. He always thought he'd get to go back to Jersey one day, never thought he wouldn't want to go back. But things work out weird sometimes and you have to take it in your stride - Danny is happy to do so when it means he gets to curl up next to Steve every night.
They don't talk about that year apart. Danny refuses to give too much thought to Steve in jail, most of his time in solitary, the rest probably spent plotting how to shiv Hesse while he could. And Steve never asks about Jersey, either, about how it fell apart between Danny and Rachel.
"Grace sleeping here tonight?"
"Might as well, look at her."
“You want to grab her, or should I?”
Danny smiles and turns his head so he can kiss the stubble on Steve’s jaw. “Let her sleep there for a while. She looks fine.”
“Okay,” Steve says, frowning a little, like he’s afraid Grace is going to wake up and throw a fit for some unknown reason, like sleeping on a beach chair is too great an injustice for her to bear.
“She’s fine, babe,” Danny tells him, amused. “Nothing bad is going to happen if we leave her there for another hour.”
“Okay,” Steve repeats, but he sounds a little more convinced this time.
Danny has plenty of words for Steve, plenty of faces and tones and affection right now, because Steve has decided to become involved in every part of Danny's life, and Danny has let him, all too happily allowing Steve to make a shape in his heart and in his life, grow comfortable in it. Danny’s more than happy to offer Steve this - a family like he doesn't have anymore besides Mary.
"Ready to face the music again?"
Steve makes a non-committal noise against Danny's shoulder, nodding at the same time. He lets go of Danny reluctantly, but Danny smiles, turning around to kiss Steve, slow and full of promises. When he pulls away, he drags his thumb over Steve's bottom lip, watching his eyes darken quickly.
"You'll get me alone later. I'm not going anywhere."