Title: Starting From Scratch
Disclaimer: Not mine.
A/N: This show completely and totally makes me giddy. This fic was born out of a conversation post ep with gemingrl11, who helped develop it during our squee. A day later, this is what I came up with. Also beta'ed by geminigrl11, who totally understands why this show wins.
Summary: Danny and Steve have a talk after the events of 1.07.
All cases felt good to finish. Steve liked the closure of it all. The sense of accomplishment. And this one felt better than most.
He could understand his father's lifelong commitment to law enforcement, no matter what it cost him. Steve had always been willing to make the same sacrifice, so it was nice when it was worthwhile.
An exonerated veteran. A little girl with the hope for a future. A criminal behind bars. And now, being able to enjoy the spoils with his team.
It really didn't get much better than that.
Kono was overseeing Lily's transition back to social services while Chin was arranging the transfer of the prisoners. Steve knew there was more work to be done, but for now, he was ready for a little time off. Little swims and hostage negotiations were tiring, after all.
Making his way past the crowd, he found the car. He reached into his pocket before he remembered that he didn't have the keys.
Turning around, he scanned the crowd again. It took some effort to spot the blonde head (especially since it was a foot lower than the rest), Inexplicably, Danny looked up and their eyes met.
Steve inclined his head. Danny scowled a little and made his way over.
"So is Aquaman recovered from his underwater venture?" Danny asked.
Steve smiled a little. "Yeah, it was no big deal."
"Oh, so then it went according to plan," Danny said.
Steve shrugged nonchalantly. "Mostly."
Danny seemed to twitch at that. "Mostly," he repeated. He nodded, pursing his lips for a moment. "So getting taking hostage-that was all part of the plan?"
"I wasn't a hostage," Steve said.
Danny's eyebrows raised. "That's not what I heard."
"It was a strategic move."
Danny continued to nod. "Some strategic move," he said.
"I got the job done, didn't I?"
"Oh, so that's our measuring stick?" Danny asked. "Doesn't matter how close it comes as long as it gets the job done."
Steve made a face, trying to comprehend his partner's total lack of logic. "What other measuring stick would you like to use?"
Danny threw his arms out in exasperation. "Oh, I don't know. Maybe doing things by the book. Following procedure. Using proper channels to make sure that we don't get ourselves and everyone around us killed."
Steve shook his head. "No one died."
"You really don't see how lucky you are, do you?"
Steve didn't really believe in luck. "It's called training."
"It's called stupidity," Danny shot back crossly.
Though they had only been partners for a few months, Steve was already well aware of Danny's quirks and breaking points. Instead of arguing semantics, he knew there was a better way to move beyond this sticking point in the conversation. "You know, for someone who is awfully critical, what exactly were you doing?"
Danny's mouth opened, then closed. Then opened again. "What was I doing? What was I doing? I was driving all around the damn island trying to find something to prove your friend innocent so he wouldn't start blowing holes in everyone around him."
Steve nodded. "So while I was swimming under warships, saving hostages, and apprehending unstable perps with guns, you were taking a drive."
"Investigating," Danny insisted. He spread one arm out, as if to prove his point. "It's called investigating."
Steve glanced from Danny to the car, then back to Danny again, wholly unconvinced. "Investigating," he repeated.
"Yes, that little known thing that is essential to solid police work. Not that you would care about that since apparently you're a superhero now. We'll have to get you some tights. Maybe put your underwear outside your pants."
Steve gave Danny a banal smile. "That's funny. Really."
"Hilarious, I'm sure," he said. He squinted back to the scene where Graham was being ushered into a police car. "You think you want to get out of here?"
"Well that was my plan but I was waiting for you."
Danny looked at him, a flat smile spread on his lips. "Thanks for that," he said. "Though seriously, if you're still wet, you're walking. You get water in those seats and it'll smell like wet dog."
Steve frowned, turning toward the car. "You worry about strange things, you know that?"
Danny grunted, moving around toward the driver's side. "I worry about strange things? At least I worry. Have you worried about anything except whether or not to use a pistol or shotgun in your next case?"
"Why not both?" Steve asked, only half joking. Then he stopped, a small glint on the car catching his eye.
"Both, awesome," Danny said. "Remind me to invest in protective head gear on our next bust."
"Most of the gunfire would go over your head anyway," Steve said absently, cocking his head to get a better look at the glint.
"Ha ha, so funny," Danny said, pausing on the other side of the hood. "I'm surprised it took you this long to start in on the height jokes."
Steve was sure there was a brilliant response to that, but instead he focused on a new topic: "Why is there a scratch in the paint?"
For a moment, Danny looked blank. "A scratch in the paint?"
Steve nodded. "On the hood," he confirmed.
Danny squinted at it with mild disdain. "How can you even tell?"
Steven leaned forward, nodding at it. "Right there," he said, pointing. "It's a scratch."
Moving closer, Danny bent over a little to get a better look. "Seriously, you can see that?"
Steve gestured to it again to make his point. "It's right there."
Straightening, Danny shrugged. "Maybe it's from the time you drove it on a boat."
Keeping his eyes on his partner, Steve did not back down. "It's not that old," he said. "And besides, I didn't drive this particular car onto the boat."
Danny averted his gaze, scanning the scene around them once again. "Fine. Then what about when you drove us on a cliff? You did drive us on a cliff in this car."
Steve did not relent. The scratch was only mildly suspicious but his partner's evasive behavior had sparked real curiosity. "I didn't run into anything on the cliff," he pointed out.
Danny waved one hand. "You were still driving recklessly."
"This isn't from that," Steve said. Then his eyes narrowed and he regarded Danny critically. "You did something to the car, didn't you?"
Danny's jaw dropped open, in typical incredulity. "Like you're one to talk!"
The effective display of audacity did nothing to dissuade Steve of his partner's guilt. "What did you do to the car?"
Danny sighed, rolling his eyes. "It was a hot pursuit."
"A hot pursuit," Steve repeated with uncertainty.
"A hot pursuit," Danny affirmed.
"And what did you do?" Steve prodded.
Danny seemed resigned to the admission. His shoulder fell and his voice was tired. "I was chasing Noreen's real killer to help prove your new friend's innocence."
Steve ignored the jibe. "And how did that get the car scratched?"
Danny shifted on his feet. "We may have had to drive through a fence."
Danny looked at him, shrugging. "It wasn't a big deal."
Steve stared. "You drove through a fence."
"The plane was taking off," Danny explained with animation. "Our bad guy was literally leaving the country. I figured stopping him was important."
Steve considered that. "So you drove through a fence," he said, almost thoughtful now.
"Yes, I drove through a fence," Danny confirmed, his exasperation tinged with anger now. "What, that's crossing the line? Driving onto boats, not a problem, but go through a fence, and it's suddenly a big deal?"
Steve looked contemplative. "How did you stop the plane?"
Danny stopped, then blinked. "What?"
"How did you stop the plane?"
Danny's jaw worked. "Does it matter? I stopped the plane," he said with a shrug and his eyes skittered away.
Steve was not about to let it go. Danny was the one trained on classic interrogation techniques but Steve knew when someone was avoiding the truth. "Yeah but what did you do after you drove through the fence?"
"What is this, an interrogation?" Danny asked defensively.
"You damaged state property," Steve pointed out.
"Oh, and now that matters," Danny said irately. "You can damage anything and everything you come into contact with, including partners, but we get a small scratch on the car, and suddenly we're calling in the governor."
"I'm not calling the governor."
Danny would not be placated. "You're just interrogating me!"
"I'm asking a question."
Danny groaned, and his hand went to his head, running through his hair. "Asking a question. Fine. Fine," he said. Then he dropped his hand, just to raise it again and point it at Steve with a glare. "Okay. Mr. I'm-Just-Asking-A-Question, if you really must know, I drove the car onto the runway and parked it in front of the plane."
Steve frowned. "Before it started taxiing? That makes sense."
Danny shifted, the anger on his face flickering for a moment.
Steve inclined his head critically. "What?"
Danny sighed again, in true melodramatic fashion. He flailed one arm helplessly. "I parked in front of the plane while it was taking off."
Steve blinked, and wondered briefly if he had water in his ears from his little swim. That was certainly not an answer he'd been expecting. "It was taking off?"
"Yes, it was taking off," Danny confirmed tersely. Then he began to recreate the incident with his hands as he explained. "I drove through a fence and parked in front of a moving plane and if it had gone even a foot more, there'd be a whole lot more than a scratch on the hood. There, are you happy now?"
Steve just stared. The hand motions were surprisingly accurate and the ultimate image was remarkable. The thought of Danny doing something so obviously reckless didn't just defy Steve's logic but threatened to tip his entire understanding of the world on its axis. Danny was the painfully rational side of this partnership and sometimes Steve found it easier to suggest the most ridiculous things when he knew that Danny's plaint common sense would balance it out.
So for Danny to drive through a fence and park in front of a moving plane?
Was a little hard to understand. It wasn't so much a question of why there was a scratch on the car anymore but why had his partner deemed it necessary to go to such measures in a case he hadn't even wanted in the first place?
Danny fidgeted. "What?"
"Nothing," Steve said dismissively.
Danny shook his head. "No, that's not nothing. That's not your nothing face."
Steve looked at him with new wonder. "I have a nothing face?"
"It's rare, but I've seen it."
"Then what face is it?"
"It's the look you give when you're asking one question but thinking about another."
The fact that Danny was right was hardly much consolation. "And what am I thinking about?"
"Am I supposed to know?" Danny asked incredulously. "As if I'd even want to know."
Steve shrugged. "I'm just wondering what possessed you to drive through a fence and then get in the way of a moving plane," he said thoughtfully. "I mean, if I had done it..."
Danny snorted. "You would have done it as a first resort," he said. "I only did it because I was out of options."
"Out of options?" Steve asked skeptically.
"Yes, out of options. We had to catch the killer before he left the country or else your little Navy friend would have gone all ape-shit on us, more than he already had."
"You could have just called the tower," Steve pointed out. "Asked them to stop it."
Danny stopped, looking at him. "Okay, that would have been a good idea."
Steve nodded. "Yeah."
"I was under a little pressure."
"You were under pressure?" Steve asked, remembering being on his knees with his hand behind his head, his phone sinking to the bottom of the harbor.
"Well, excuse me," Danny returned critically. "There we were, talking on the phone, and then the next thing I know, you've hung up. Not a goodbye, not a we'll talk later, not even an oh crap send back up, just nothing. I tried calling back, nothing. I called our new friend from the governor's office, and she hasn't heard anything either and she's sending in SWAT and it's all going to hell and as far as I know, you could be dead, and the only leverage we might have left is catching the real killer, so yes, I drove through a fence and got in front of a plane, okay?"
The admission was honest and raw, and it didn't take much investigative work at all to understand what it was all about. Because Steve inherently understood. Some things were par for the course in day to day police work, but when someone on the team was threatened, all bets were off. Steve knew it to be true for himself, and for the first time, he realized that it was true for Danny, too.
Maybe even more true for him.
Because Danny wasn't just his partner. He was the guy who berated him for every reckless move Steve made and then turned around and did all that and more to protect him.
Steve was looking at Danny, and Danny swallowed, his eyes darting away. Feeling equally uncomfortable, Steve turned his attention to the ground, trying to find some way to resolve this conversation that didn't threaten his manhood or Danny's unpredictable boundaries.
Finally, Steve nodded, eyes still down. "Okay," he said, and glanced at his partner furtively.
Danny sniffled, scratching his neck. "Okay."
Another beat passed and Steve looked up again. "You know, you're still paying for the scratch."
Danny just shook his head. "I hate you," he muttered. "I hate you so much."
Steve laughed, short and hard, nodding. "I'm sure," he said. "You want to go get a beer?"
Danny looked at him earnestly then. "You paying?"
"I have to pay?"
"Well, apparently, I'm on the hook for a scratch in the car," Danny said, gesturing widely at the hood.
"Good point," he said. Then he nodded. "I'm paying."
"Then what are we waiting for?" Danny asked. "Let's go."
Steve held out his hand.
Danny paused, cocking his head.
Steve flexed his fingers. "You're certainly not driving."
Danny groaned again, digging the keys out of his pocket. "Like we're really safer when you drive."
"Today you have proved otherwise."
"Just give it a week," Danny muttered, tossing them at Steve.
Steve caught them, grinning. "If that's what you have to tell yourself."
"It's the neverending mantra in my head," Danny muttered as he crossed around toward the passenger's seat.
"So you're saying you can't stop thinking about me?" Steve asked moving toward the driver's side.
Danny shook his head again, climbing in the car. "We're officially not talking now."
Steve opened his own door and slid into the driver's seat. He flashed another winning grin at Danny. "Whatever you say."
"I thought I told you no talking?"
"You're the one talking."
"Because you replied."
"Just drive," Danny said shortly.
"Are you sure?"
Danny grimaced. "Drive," he ordered.
Smile still playing on his lips, Steve started the car and pulled away.