Honolulu International was its usual mass of people and luggage with the post-9/11 addition of cops and TSA staff as Steve pulled the Camaro up to the passenger unloading area. He climbed out of the car at the same time Danny did and walked around to the trunk, opening it so the other man could grab his suitcase and drag it out.
"Hey," Danny said as he straightened, "don’t go getting yourself shot while I’m gone, okay?"
"I’ll do my best. Don’t go asking for your old job back." It wasn’t that Steve was worried that Danny would; after all Grace was here, but still, going back to Jersey to testify in a trial could bring back the homesickness in the other man that had seemed more muted lately.
"Nah, after working with you, anything else would be boring. Better for my health, but boring," Danny laughed as he stepped up onto the curb beside his bag and hoisted the strap to his laptop case onto his shoulder.
"That’s why you love coming to work," Steve pointed out before chuckling at Danny’s pained expression.
"I’d list the ways your ‘not boring’ has gotten me injured, but then I’d miss my flight. Suffice to say I’ll be back; I have reasons."
"I know Grace will be glad to see you when you get back."
"I said reasons," Danny called over his shoulder as he headed for the doors, soon vanishing in the midst of the crowds of tourists. Steve watched him go, his eyebrows arched in dark bows of curiosity, before turning and walking around the car, clearing the curb before security came over to move him along.
That word stayed with Steve through the weekend, nibbled at the edges of his thoughts as he sat on his board at Ala Moana, waiting for his wave to carry him toward shore. The rush of the water around him, the active act of balance and power needed to stay upright cleared his thoughts, but the word resurfaced later in the day as he sat by the water, enjoying a beer and the sunset.
What the hell did Danny mean by reasons? He had Grace and work – well, he supposed those were two things, enough to count for the ‘s’, but there was more to it, of that he was sure.
It was with something like relief that he headed into work Monday morning, but even that didn’t feel right. There was a Danny-sized hole in the place, and he felt self-conscious for noticing it – at least until he saw both Chin and Kono looking toward the empty office every so often.
They caught a case chasing down a crew of heroin addicts who had decided that doing home invasions on the island’s wealthy was a good way to finance their habits. It took three days, but eventually they brought the tweekers in, Steve starting to say ‘Book ‘em Danno,’ before it registered that his partner wasn’t there, that he hadn’t been there with a smart ass remark regarding Steve’s lack of concern for their safety or police procedure in general, and damned if he didn’t miss the guy.
Steve paused, letting Chin and Kono shove the quartet toward the waiting police van, his eyes widening as the thought drove home. He missed Danny, really missed him in more than just a ‘damn this would be easier if my partner was here’ kind of way.
After the paperwork was done, he headed home and took a six-pack out to the beach, leaning back in the chair and watching the waves turn blood red then black as the sun sank below the ocean’s edge. He missed Danny; that was a fact. He was happier when Danny was around; that was another fact. Half the population of Honolulu seemed to think that the two of them were married based on their interactions - fact three. Catherine had called during the week, wanting to get together, and he’d blown her off - fact four.
"Fuck, I want my partner." Saying the words aloud made them real but didn’t stop the sick thrill that roiled in his gut as they were spoken. It had been a long time since he’d felt this way about another man, and he had no clue if Danny felt the same, but maybe, just maybe, he would find out when the other man got back.
Nodding to himself, Steve started to plan.
The air when Danny changed flights in Atlanta was chilly, the breeze in the jetway cutting through the fog of lack of sleep caused by an uncomfortable seat. It was early morning on the east coast, and he waited an hour for his connector before boarding the flight to Newark, swigging coffee all the way up the coast and watching the grey, desolate land skimming by beneath the plane’s wing.
A blast of frigid air greeted him as he walked off the plane, peppering the side of his face with tiny spears of ice that had him wincing and wondering if a year in Hawaii had really made him that soft.
The concourse was crowded with travelers, and he sidestepped a family, the father pushing a double stroller while the mother wrangled a slightly older pair than the toddlers who were sleeping in their seats. The sight of the kids caused the place inside him that always missed Grace when they weren’t together to ache, and he reached for his phone before remembering the five—hour time difference. Dealing with a pissed off Rachel at 2:30 a.m. her time was not something a wise man would do, so he refrained from calling – he defied death enough by dealing with his partner, thank you.
His parents met him at the exit, his mother’s enfolding hug and his father’s gruff greeting reminding him of just how much he had missed them as well, missed all of his family in fact. Stepping back, he noticed that in the eight months that had passed since he moved to Honolulu they looked older; not in any major ways that you would notice if you saw them regularly, but to him the changes were there, and they momentarily sobered him – at least until his mother tucked her arm into the crook of his elbow and demanded to know how he was doing, how Grace was doing, and just what this new job of his was.
By the time they reached the house, Danny was feeling the definite drag of jetlag, but there was no time for it as his brother and sister and their families were on their way over, and the rest of the day was spent catching up with them and the horde of aunts, uncles and cousins who showed up as well.
He collapsed into bed in his childhood room and slept for twelve hours straight once everyone left, feeling more human once he woke to a breakfast of pancakes, eggs and bacon, then round two of the family express when everyone came over to watch the Superbowl.
It was comfortable, familiar, but Danny couldn’t help but feel somewhat unsettled as he took a stretch break, grabbing his old coat and walking outside. The bite of the cold caused his knee to ache, and he sighed, his breath ghosting out in front of him as he leaned against the railing around the deck and surveyed the yard.
Frozen snow covered the ground, mounded into heaps over the garden and hanging off the bare branches of the oak tree toward the back of the lot. Everything was stark and colorless, the sky blending in with the ground and the weathered bark of the trees to create an odd feeling of uniformity that felt foreign. The realization hit with a jolt that it felt so odd because he’d grown used to Hawaii, to the brilliant blues of the sky and the ocean, the riot of colors of the plants and the clothing – and yes, he missed it.
"Hey bro, next quarter’s starting," his brother Ken called through the storm door, his form barely visible through the condensation on the thick glass.
"Be right in," Danny promised even as he was processing the fact that hearing ‘bro’ and not ‘brah’ sounded strange to his ears – plus it made him wonder what Chin was doing, and that made him wonder what Steve was doing. No, it was Sunday, no work – unless they had gotten called in on something, and damnit, now he was going to worry about all of them since he wasn’t there to watch their asses.
Grumbling to himself, Danny pulled open the storm door and went back in the house, letting the environment of family surround him even as he shrugged out of his coat and reached for his phone, sending off a quick text then watching the game distractedly until he received an answer that satisfied him.
Monday was full of prep work with one of the ADAs as he reviewed his case files in preparation for his testimony. The case had been one of the last ones he had closed before moving, and while he had spent the majority of it pissed that Grace was already in Hawaii, he had done his job and done it well.
Two gang-bangers had done a drive-by, but instead of their intended target, their bullets had hit a twelve-year-old who had been outside with her five-year-old brother. The sight of those kids lying there on the ground when they should have been playing with friends had torn at his guts even after everything he had seen in his years as a cop, and he had taken distinct pleasure in bringing in the pieces of shit who had shot them and run like the punk bitches they were.
He went around to his old precinct once the ADA was done with him, was met with a raucous round of greetings then dragged out for a round of beers as he was pumped for information on the hotties in Hawaii and if he’d gotten any from them yet.
It was an enjoyable evening, at least until he checked in with Kono and found out that they had picked up a drug case. After that half his attention was on what insane thing Steve was going to do because he wasn’t there to stop him - or at least make him think about stopping before he did it anyway.
He called Grace when he got back to his parents’, passing the phone around to them then saying good night when he got it back even though it was barely four there.
The next day was more prep work, followed by catching up with friends from high school who had stayed in the area and checking in with Chin to see how the case was going. Danny had to admit to himself that maybe he had gotten used to the whole running and shooting thing because sitting around doing nothing was a little boring, but it was boring that would put two scumbags in jail for life, so he’d deal with it.
Most of Wednesday involved sitting in court waiting to testify, which gave him way too much time to worry about what his team, and one member in particular, was doing without him and to wonder just why he was so concerned about what (or who, a small part of his mind muttered) Steve was doing.
Okay, he liked Steve when he didn’t want to kill him, enjoyed working with him – again, when he didn’t want to kill him – and enjoyed having a beer with him, but then he liked doing those things with Chin and Kono too, only with less of the wanting to kill them part.
From the start they’d slammed off each other, butting heads as they clashed over opinions on practically every subject under the sun. Even in the beginning, even when Danny would have sworn (and had) that he hated Steve, there was more there. In some ways the relationship reminded him of how it had been at the start with Rachel: arguing with the gorgeous British woman he had pulled over for speeding and ending up out on a date with her less than a week later – only without the date or the attraction.
Or maybe not.
Okay Danny, you’re in court; tell the truth.
Of course it was at that moment he was called to the stand to testify.
Crowds of arriving passengers streamed out the security doors, some taking a moment to look around the airport, others bee-lining it for the baggage claim area, intent on retrieving their things and going about their business – even if it was pleasure. Steve shook his head as he studied a passing couple who were nose-deep in a guide book; those were the type of people who turned a vacation into work, who had a meltdown if their carefully crafted itinerary didn’t pan out, and he just didn’t get them.
Having a plan was good, but you had to be flexible in order to maximize your chances for success; that was something he was sure of, and it sure as hell was going to be put to the test now.
He hadn’t heard from Danny after that text on Sunday checking in, though he knew both Chin and Kono had talked to him, and that fact nagged at him, especially in the light of what he had discovered about himself during the week.
Spotting a familiar head of slicked-back blond hair when the crowd parted for a moment, Steve pushed off the wall he had been leaning against and started forward, meeting Danny and neatly plucking the laptop bag off his shoulder.
"You look like you’re half asleep," he said in response to Danny’s disgruntled exclamation.
"I hate these fricking time changes; I had just gotten used to Eastern Time again, and now my body feels like it should be midnight."
"Good thing you aren’t driving then, isn’t it?" Steve asked mildly.
Danny snorted at that, though the disgruntled expression he had been wearing when he exited the concourse had melted away to an amused smile. "Yeah, well with you driving, I’m sure the adrenaline spike will keep me awake long enough to get home and go see Grace."
"How about I take you to see Grace then get you to your place?" Steve suggested as they headed for the baggage claim area. "In your state of mind, you’d be a menace behind the wheel."
"As if you aren’t one all the time," Danny shot back with a laugh.
Miraculously, the flight’s luggage was sliding onto the carousel when they reached it, and Danny retrieved his suitcase though Steve managed to swap the laptop bag for it before they started for the exit.
"Okay," Danny demanded, "what did you do?"
"What do you mean, what did I do?" Steve’s tone was one of pure innocence though a glance at the shorter man showed Danny wasn’t buying it. "You’re dead on your feet, and I don’t need you tripping and banging up your knee again so, to quote you, ergo I’m taking the suitcase."
Danny opened his mouth and shut it again, a strange look flitting over his expressive features. "You know what?" he asked, raising a hand to punctuate his question. "Go ahead; I don’t have the energy to argue with you right now."
"I’m impressed. So, how’d the trial go?"
"Straightforward, thank God; we had these guys dead to rights. They just wanted me there because I was the lead on the case." Danny’s eyes clouded over as if he was seeing something in the past. "They need to rot in jail."
"And they will; now what you need is to see your daughter." They reached the truck, loaded the luggage and themselves in and headed out, the setting sun painting the sky with a palate of fiery colors.
They didn’t talk much on the way to Stan and Rachel’s house aside from Danny calling ahead to make sure that they were home. Once they got there, Steve climbed out of the car, fighting to keep a stoic expression as he watched the reunion, though that was ruined when Grace noticed him and ran over to give him a hug as well.
"You’ve got a great kid," he commented once Grace was safely locked away behind the estate’s gate and they were on the road again.
"Don’t I know it. So tell me about the case you guys caught this week."
"You’ll be glad to know there were no shark cages or hanging people off buildings involved."
"That means you’re just saving up for something worse," Danny sighed, the words causing Steve to chuckle.
"Something better, you mean."
Discussing the case filled the drive back to Danny’s apartment, and Steve insisted on wheeling his suitcase to the door and inside.
"What is with you?" Danny griped, turning to look at him, and that was when Steve pounced, fisting one hand in Danny’s wrinkled shirt and curving the other one around the back of his neck as he pulled the shorter man in for a kiss.
Warm, wet, passionate, Steve’s kiss caught Danny off-guard, but he quickly regained his bearings, sliding both his hands up Steve’s arms to cup his face as their mouths opened and they tasted each other for the first time. The part of his brain that worried about horrific outcomes wondered if his breath tasted like ass, but it didn’t seem to be bothering Steve, so Danny shoved the thought away as well and concentrated on mapping the contours of the other man’s mouth with his tongue, something Steve seemed very appreciative of.
When they finally broke apart, both gasping for breath, Danny scowled. "Damnit!"
Steve’s expression turned to one of pure incredulousness. "Damnit? What the hell do you mean by that because as far as I can tell, you were a willing participant here, Danno."
"Of course I was!" Danny exclaimed, staring at Steve as if he was insane. "I was planning on doing the same thing to you, but no, you had to go and jump the gun like you always do!"
"So you’re complaining that... I kissed you first?"
"Yes. No. Christ!" Giving up on trying to explain that he was tired because this was what he’s spent most of the flight back thinking about, Danny pulled Steve back in for another kiss, the two of them trading dominance back and forth even as they began to explore each others’ bodies through their clothes, then under them, leaving a trail behind them on the way to Danny’s bed where they drove against each other until they were both sweaty and satiated.
Danny was comfortably sprawled half on top of Steve and half asleep when he felt as much as heard the low question. "So, what were your reasons for knowing you’d be back?"
He picked his head up and blinked owlishly at Steve, who looked like the epitome of relaxation - that was if you discounted the tension ticking in his jaw.
"When you left, you said that you had reasons to come back, not just one of them."
"Oh, that." Danny gave a jaw-cracking yawn and raised a hand to scratch at the back of his neck. "At the time, they were Grace and the job, but while I was in Jersey, I realized that I missed more than Grace; I missed this place, missed Chin and Kono, missed you, and then I had to admit to myself just why that was."
"And that was this?"
"This and the fact that I wanted to come home. I didn’t want it," Danny ignored Steve’s snort of laughter at that, "but there it is."
"If it helps, I figured it out this week as well. I missed working with you, but I missed you more; I almost fell out of my chair when I figured out why that was."
"Tell me about it," Danny chuckled, relaxing back against Steve’s body again.
"So..." At Steve’s tone, Danny lifted his head again, looking at him suspiciously. "If you’ve admitted you’re home, does that mean that there’s going to be no tie on Monday?"
Danny stared at him and started to laugh helplessly, Steve joining him a moment later.
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