Title: Not Just Going Through the (Hand) Motions
Disclaimer: Not mine.
A/N: This came from a post-ep chat with geminigrl11. While we were lost in effusive squeeing, she pitched a bunny about Steve and Danny talking with their hands. Her effort is far more succinct and poignant than mine, but she took the time to beta my version, so here it is. Besides, there can never be enough Steve and Danny fic out there :) This isn't set after anything in particular, but has references to some aired eps.
Summary: Because Danny used a lot of words, but he said more of what really mattered with his hands. Steve just had to learn to listen.
It was never easy, going home. Steve hadn't been one to visit much, and even though he never would have considered his relationship with his father strained, it had never been one he knew what to do with. It was easier to not call and to limit his visits to once a year.
But being back in his father's house, seeing the crime scene for what it was, Steve was struck by how much he missed the sense of home and how hard it was to think of all the things he'd missed. He could put together the pieces of his father's death, and that was hard enough, but piecing together the elements of his father's life-the years Steve had missed, the memories he hadn't shown up for-was that much harder.
He was so intent on that, that he didn't hear anyone in the house until a second before he saw the movement out of the corner of his eye.
And it didn't matter what the person was saying, but what he was doing. Gun drawn, just that fast, aim pointed and unwavering. Steve watched the hands, one hand never leaving the gun, the other in the air, moving slowly and surely to pull out his badge.
Detective Danny Williams had some kind of mettle, at least. As much as it sucked to get drawn on in his own house, it was sort of nice to know that the guy valued the crime scene enough to do it.
That was about the only bright part of the whole mess. Because Danny started with apologies, hands moving gently in sympathy, but shifted to demands, the jerking motions getting harsher and more animated as the conversation went on. By the time they were done, Danny's hands were all over the place and Steve had to call the governor to get what he wanted, which was not what he had intended at all.
Steve hadn't put a lot of thought into picking a partner. He had spent most of his life on this island, but he hadn't lived there in years. When it came to friends, he had some, but they were mostly spread around the world and actively engaged in service to their country.
Sill, all things considered, some newbie cop from the mainland seemed like a better choice than going it alone. At least Steve knew he had good aim.
Talking Danny into it had been one thing, but driving in the car with him was another.
Steve didn't know what to say. He'd pulled all his punches to get Danny to come along, and had already leveraged all the information about their next lead, but he never did like driving in silence.
"So how long have you been in Hawaii?" he asked, because it seemed like a simple enough question.
Danny scowled, arms tucked tightly across his chest. "Six months," he ground out.
Steve nodded. "So how do you like it?"
Danny looked at him, eyes cold and his arms didn't even move. "It's supposed to be paradise, right?" he asked pointedly.
Steve lifted his eyebrows and focused on the road for the rest of the trip.
Being shot wasn't fun, and the pain almost made him feel guilty for not really seeing how Danny was doing after his encounter. Sure, Steve's bullet wound was more serious and he'd been involved in a smack down, to-the-death altercation, but maybe Danny had a point when he freaked out about getting shot one day in.
The medics were professional, but it was hard to sit on the sidelines while Danny directed HPD around the crime scene.
Steve watched as his partner handled leadership with grace, pointing out things the cops had missed, making sure that all the details were accounted for. He explained what happened in graphic detail, his hands dipping and rolling with the reenactment. When the cop taking his statement nodded, Danny smiled, patting him on the arm before his eyes drifted back to Steve.
Steve held his gaze and smiled imperceptibly back.
Danny glanced around again before making his way over to the ambulance. He nodded politely to the medic before stuffing one hand in his pocket and running the other across his brow. "So how you doing?"
It was a simple question, but the answer couldn't be so easy. Steve hurt and he ached and his father was still dead, but this was the closest to justice he could hope for. "Have they found Hesse's body yet?"
Danny's lips quirked in a smile and he withdrew his hand from his pocket. He crossed one arm across his chest and used the other to gesture ruefully. "Still dragging the water," he said. "But I was really talking about the fact that you took a bullet and look like you just went a few rounds with a heavyweight."
Steve considered that with a shrug. "It's not so bad."
Danny smirked, but nodded. His hands twitched idly, falling to his sides for a moment. "You would think so."
"Are you making sure you get access to all the ship's logs?"
Danny looked a little perturbed by the question. "HPD is taking everything in," he confirmed.
"And you're canvassing the area for witnesses? Talking to the harbor manager?"
Danny pointed out to a group of cops. "Got a few officers on it," he said.
"And the suspects?"
Danny rolled his eyes, using his thumb to point over his shoulder. "Chin and Kono got it covered."
"I'll want to talk to them," Steve said.
"Which is why they're going to hold them until you're done playing over here," he said.
Steve nodded and got to his feet from the back of the ambulance. The medic in the rig behind him started to protest.
Danny moved forward to, pushing him gently back. "Later," he said. "When you're done playing later." His hands moved out again. "We've got more than enough to hold everyone involved while you get treated. So just...sit there and let the medics do their thing." He accentuated his point by moving his hands forcefully in Steve's direction.
A little chagrined, Steve sat back down, eyeing his partner uneasily. "You got this?"
Danny made a face, throwing his hands up in something resembling indignation. "Believe it or not, I was a cop before you came into my life," he said. He gestured to himself. "I am perfectly capable of securing a scene and processing witnesses."
It wasn't necessarily in Steve's nature to trust other people with important things, but Danny hadn't let him down, and the pain was building slowly, ebbing his energy more with each passing second.
Danny's hands flitted toward him, not quite touching. "Just. Take it easy," he said. He made a sweeping motion back to the crime scene. "I got this, okay?"
Danny's hands were suspended midair, posing the question just as much as his words did.
Steve smiled. "Yeah," he said, because Danny knew what he was doing and even if he didn't, no one would know otherwise until his hands stopped moving. Somehow, there was comfort in the fact that Steve knew that would never stop happening. He nodded, letting himself relax for the first time since being back home, and said, "Okay."
Sometimes, Steve really liked his job. He did enjoy the high profile cases. He liked that he got to chase the worst of the worst and bring them to justice. He liked that he was able to make a difference, to change Hawaii for the better, one low-life criminal at a time.
He even liked the gadgets and the interrogations and the chases. It all worked for him, and there were many times when he just felt like he was made for this job.
And then, there was Danny.
Danny was good at what he did, but his process still defied all logic in Steve's mind. Danny had rules and methods, regulations and procedures. Sometimes he wanted to go off and arrest people only tangentially connected with the case and other times he almost refused to let Steve near a suspect they were all convinced was a home run. Sometimes he seemed to play devil's advocate out of the perverse insistence that someone simply had to play that part.
And that didn't even touch on the way Danny did it all. Always talking, always moving. Complaining, ranting, snarking, raving: Danny was evidence that an object in motion, really did stay in motion.
And just kept going.
Nonstop. All the time. Sometimes all the talking made Steve's head hurt and all the motion made him sick to his stomach.
Like now. Danny was explaining something to him. Steve could only figure it was important, since Danny had spent the last five minutes with it, but all Steve could hear was the rise and fall of Danny's voice and all he could see was the continual motion of his hands.
Up, down. Pointing to himself, pointing to Steve, pointing to nothing at all. Hands out, hands in. One hand flailing, the other scratching his arm.
Danny was conducting his own private symphony, and as far as Steve could tell, it had the most impossible rhythm imaginable.
Then he realized, it had stopped.
Danny was staring at him, mouth closed. Both hands were still in front of him, poised but waiting.
Steve blinked. "I'm sorry, what were you saying?"
Danny made a face, his hands pausing in front of him. "Seriously?"
"Yeah, I just missed that last part," Steve said, trying to buck himself up and wiping absently at his nose.
Danny's hands lifted a little, as if with skepticism. "So you didn't hear me tell you about the lead you wanted me to check up on."
Steve shook his head. "I couldn't hear you."
Danny stared at him blankly. Then he gestured with one hand in front of him. "I was speaking. Perfectly clear English." He motioned to his ear. "You get water up in there from all your free time swimming?"
Steve scowled then shook his head. "No, it's just hard to focus with all hand motions."
Danny stopped, then put his hands out in incredulous surprise. "Hand motions?"
Steve nodded readily. "Yes, all the movement with your hands," Steve pointed out. "You do know you talk with your hands, don't you?"
Danny's nose wrinkled. One hand dropped to his side, the other flitted absently through the air. "No, I talk with my mouth, like every normal person in the world," he said. He shrugged. "The fact that you seem unable to focus on it is entirely your problem."
Steve frowned, thinking of a comeback. But the words were lost in his throat as Danny lifted one hand to scratch the back of his neck before it fiddled with the end of his nose and dropped down again.
Shaking his head, Steve knew it wasn't worth it. "Tell me again what you've got."
Just like that, Danny's hands lifted and his monologue started again.
Steve was used to working under duress-he'd had some some tough missions in the Navy-but this was getting ridiculous.
They'd been on a new case all day, and Danny hadn't stopped talking once. He rambled in the car about the football game on TV last night. He ranted about Steve's choice of how to interrogate a suspect. He raved about Steve's omission of including lunch on the daily routine. He went off about how they really should get a warrant before going to talk to the next person of interest in their case.
It was all so much that by three o'clock, Steve had just about had it.
Danny was telling him about how to apply for a warrant, as if Steve didn't know, when he found a place to park, pulled the car over, and looked at his partner. "Why are you so unhappy?" he demanded.
Danny blinked. His hands were frozen mid-motion. Then his brow furrowed and he lifted his hands in question. "Why do you think I'm unhappy?"
Steve resisted the urge to wrestle him to the ground and leave him handcuffed on the side of the road. Instead, he swallowed, dredging up any patience he could find. "You've been talking all day about the things that bother you."
Danny made a face, putting one hand down and leaving the other to gesture aimlessly. "It's called talking."
Steve raised his eyebrows. "Is that what you call it?"
Danny's hands both flitted absently. "Yeah, what do you call it?"
Insanity. Slow torture. Total ridiculousness. Steve swallowed purposefully. "Complaining," he said frankly. "I call it complaining."
Danny actually looked genuinely surprised. His chin went forward, his hands out. "Complaining? You think I'm complaining?"
"Complaining, talking angrily-"
"Again, why do you think I'm angry?" Danny interjected. "Do I look angry?"
Steve was about to say yes, but then he looked at Danny again. Really looked at him. Looked at the plaintive face, the laugh lines around his eyes. He looked at his relaxed posture, his open hands, held out, almost imploring.
Danny didn't look angry.
When Danny was angry, his body was tense and rigid. His continual movements got spastic and jagged, exaggerated and pronounced.
Danny wasn't angry.
Danny was ranting and going on and wouldn't shut up, but he wasn't angry.
Danny lifted his hands higher, his forehead wrinkling, asking the question again.
Steve frowned, and turned his attention back to the car. He put it back into gear.
Danny shrugged more, his hands flailing with the motion. "That's it?" he asked.
Steve gritted his teeth and pulled the car back on the road. "That's it." he ground out.
Because Danny used a lot of words, but he said more of what really mattered with his hands. Steve just had to learn to listen.
Steve wasn't sure when it started happening. It just sort of happened.
There he was. One day, just another case. He and Danny were following up with a witness, and they were waiting. Just waiting, because the suspect was an on-duty lifeguard and apparently she was busy, and they had some time to kill.
Not a big deal.
A few minutes with Danny, though, was always a big deal.
Which was why it bothered Steve so much that Danny was quiet.
He stood in the pool house, hands in his pockets, rocking back and forth on his heels. Watching. Waiting. Quiet. Hands hidden.
Steve shifted from one foot to another, pursing his lips while he assessed his partner.
Danny drew a breath, moving his gaze from one end of the room to another.
Restless, Steve crossed his arms over his chest for a moment before shifting one to scratch behind his ear. "You're quiet," he said. It was an observation, but if it sounded like an accusation, Steve wouldn't be able to deny it.
Danny shrugged, frowning a little. His hands didn't move from their pockets. "So?"
Steve flattened his palms on his cargo pants. "It's just weird."
"Why is that weird?"
Steve put out one hand for a moment then dropped it awkwardly. "It's just not normal, is all."
Danny seemed to track his hand movements, his attention turning solely to Steve with a critical air. He pulled out one hand, using a finger to point absently in the air before stuffing it back in his pocket. He shrugged a little. "And how would you know what's normal?"
Steve paused, then lifted one hand, splaying it in front of him. "I know what's normal."
Danny's eyebrows went up. The same hand came out of his pocket and rubbed at his eyebrow. "You know what's normal?"
Steve gave a half shrug, flipping his hand out in something like supplication. "I know what's normal for you."
Danny seemed to consider that, hands dug deep. Then his expression shifted, and both hands came out, his face lighting up. "You think you know what's normal for me?" he asked, and both his hands were in front of him, poised and ready. One flailed to the side, the other staying put. "You think you know what's normal for me?"
Steve knew he shouldn't, but it was so funny, it was so Danny, and he couldn't help but grin. He held up his hand again, this time a little helplessly. "We have been partners for nearly three months."
One of Danny's hands flew up in the air, the other open in front of him. "Oh, we've been partners for nearly three months," he repeated. The hand in front of him went into the air. "So if we've been partners for three months then why can't you figure out that maybe-just maybe-I don't want to be here right now because this witness is a waste of time."
Both of his hands went wide, before he reined them in parallel to one another in front of him for effect. "We have a suspect in custody. The suspect has information. This witness? Didn't even see anything." He gestured to his eyes then flung his arms wide again. "So maybe I'm quiet because if I talk I might tell you just how ridiculous I think this is!"
It wasn't ridiculous, of course. There was something off in the witness's story, and Steve had a strong suspicion that she had more to do with this, but even if Danny didn't understand Steve's reason, he was pretty sure that his partner could begin to understand what he was saying.
Steve wet his lips, lifting one hand decidedly and directing it at Danny. "She's a lifeguard," he explained and he pointed to the pool. He rotated his hand, circling the pool with it. "They're a dime a dozen on this island. She has no job security." He brought it back holding it out in front of him, almost as if he were begging an answer. "Why does a girl like that who needs the money risk not showing up for work because she slept in?" He gestured to the pool house around him. "Especially for the best paying lifeguarding job within ten miles."
Danny watched his hands, moving from one place to the next.
It took a moment, a long moment, but Danny's hands fell. He nodded and shoved them back into his pockets. "I still think it's stupid," he said, lifting his chin with a slim margin of defiance.
With a smirk, Steve crossed his arms over his chest, taking the victory for what it was. Not that he'd convinced Danny of anything, but that he'd made him understand. He nodded. "I still think I'm right."
Danny sniffed a little. "Why doesn't that surprise me?"
Big words, but Danny's hands didn't move, and Steve kept his arms across his chest and just kept grinning.
"So," Steve said and he made a deliberate motion to Danny for effect. "We go inside," he moved his hand upward, "get the high ground," he spread his hands out, palms down, "and take out on threat at a time," he pushed one hand down, "and hopefully can control the scene from above before they can figure out we're there."
Danny was watching him intently, his brow creased. His arms were crossed over his chest.
Steve's hands dropped and he straightened. "Does that make sense?"
Danny blinked. His lifted one hand to his face, rubbing it across the stubble on his chin. "Yeah," he said.
Steve waited for more. "So why are you acting like you don't get it."
Danny's hands lifted, in something of a modified shrug. "No, I get it," he said. "That was really clear. More so than usual."
Steve shook his head, holding one hand out in surrender. "So what's the problem."
"You used hand motions," Danny said.
Steve balked, frowning. Self-consciously, he tucked his hands across his chest. "What?"
Danny nodded. "You used hand gestures to explain your plan."
Steve sighed, his exasperation rising. "Danny, I don't see-"
Danny held his hands out apologetically. "I liked it!" he insisted. His hands flitted, a little shy. "It really helped make your point."
Steve stared at him, looking for some ulterior motive.
Danny's hands went up in the air. "You know, never mind," he said. "You ready?"
Steve nodded. "Yeah, I'm ready."
Danny started moving toward the door. "Then, let's just do this. Securing from above, right?"
"Yeah," Steve said, watching him go, half in wonder, half in disbelief.
Everything went according to plan. They started high, secured the area, and managed to take out the bad guys, most of them still alive. Walking away from a successful scene, somehow Steve knew that his time in the bust hadn't been his only victory that day.
The entire thing went sideways from the beginning. From their lead suspect committing suicide to their best witness suddenly winding up in a coma, nothing had gone their way.
And then things had gotten really bad.
Because Steve had found a second home for their now-dead suspect, and even though Danny had suggested they stop and wait for backup, Steve had been eager to find out what was inside.
There was a lot inside. Evidence and murder weapons and the real mastermind behind the crime.
Of course, Steve didn't figure that out until he got bashed over the head when clearing a bedroom.
He'd been dazed, trying to get his bearings, and he didn't have time to warn Danny about anything when his partner charged in behind him and fell for the exact same trap. Only Danny went down harder, his body limp, and Steve could only stagger drunkenly while his partner was quickly bound with duct tape and dragged unceremoniously out the door.
The fact that Steve had been right about the lead was little recompense for seeing his partner get kidnapped and being too concussed to do anything about it.
Concussion or not, Steve wasn't about to stop until he found his partner. A few roughed-up witnesses, a few more arrests, and they had a name and an address, and this time Steve had Chin and Kono and half the HPD as his backup.
Turned out, he wouldn't need any of them.
He went in hot, taking point, and swept each room. This time when their perp tried to get the drop on him, Steve greeted him with the business end of his pistol. He knew that taking the guy alive might make him more valuable, but one look at Danny, hunched pathetically on the far end of the room, and suddenly the loss of information was worth it.
Danny was sitting, hands behind his back. There was a strip of duct tape over his mouth and dried blood dripping from a gash on his hairline. His blonde hair was hopelessly out of place, and he looked tired and drawn.
Crossing the floor, Danny made short work of the gag. "It's about freakin' time," Danny muttered, still testing his mouth out with various stretches and puckers.
Steve stood back and took a moment to laugh in relief.
Danny craned his head up to glare at him. "This isn't funny."
Steve shook his head, but couldn't stop smiling. "No, it's really not funny," he agreed.
Danny's brow furrowed deeply and his body seemed to twitch with effort. "I've been kidnapped here," he said. "Literally, kidnapped. Taken against my will with force and kept in a secure location. I haven't eaten in hours. I haven't even gone to the bathroom in hours. And you're laughing!"
Danny was right, of course, about everything, but somehow it was hard to make sense of anything he was saying when his hands were still securely taped behind his back.
"It's killing you, isn't it?" Steve quipped, unable to contain himself.
"Getting taken out by the bad guy?" Danny asked sharply. "That was totally your fault. Remember how the whole idea of backup works?"
Steve shook his head. "No, I know that," he said dismissively. "But you're not pissed about that."
Danny made a face. "I'm not pissed about that? I got knocked out, tied up, and held hostage," he said, his voice grating with increasing strength. His hands tugged at the bond ineffectually as his shoulders surged to no avail. "What else could I possibly be pissed about?"
It was all Steve could do to keep from laughing. "Nothing," he said, shaking his head. He moved forward.
Danny's body seemed to convulse again. "Nothing? What the hell kind of face is that? Nothing?"
Steve bit back another laugh, bending over and pulling out his knife. "Just nothing," he said again with bemusement.
"No, not nothing," Danny said, twitching again. His wrists jerked in the tape and Steve had to work hard to keep up with them. "I know nothing, and that is not nothing. That's something. I'm not quite sure what in the world of Steve McGarrett's improper emotions could possibly warrant smiling at a time like this, but it is clearly something."
Steve kept grinning, grasping one of Danny's arms lightly to brace it as he ran his knife through the tape. It came loose easily under his blade.
As Danny's wrists came free, his words stopped coming, and within a second both of his chafed wrists were in front of him. Steve sat back on his heels, watching his partner, who seemed to look at his newly freed hands with no small amount of wonder.
The moment didn't last, though, and before Steve could eve get to his feet, Danny turned to him, his shoulders up and his arms out. "Because I would think," he continue, moving both hands in tandem, just for effect, "that seeing one's partner get knocked out and kidnapped might be a cause for concern." He threw his hands up. "You know, maybe just a bit of genuine worry."
Steve shrugged, trying not to smile. "I was concerned."
Danny's eyes widened and his hands went up in the air. One laced through his disheveled hair, the other went forward in total disbelief. "You were concerned?" Danny repeated. "I was kidnapped and bleeding!"
Steve nodded, as seriously as he could. "But you're okay now."
Danny's mouth opened. His hands hovered for a second, then dropped to his sides. He nodded slowly. "Yeah," he agreed. "I'm okay now."
Steve's face broke into a smile. He patted Danny's shoulder. "Then that's all that matters."
Danny's hands picked up again, in accusation and incredulity, as his rant picked up again.
Steve sighed, and remembered to breathe for the first time in what seemed like a week. His back hurt, the stitches on his forehead throbbed, and he was ready for a nice warm shower and a night on the beach with a couple of beers to soothe his weary body.
The case had been hard. Even in a line of work where most of them were hard, this one was more than most, and he'd been knocked down the stairs to prove it. Now he just had to finish his paperwork and sign off on the file and get the hell out of there.
He was just about done, when he noticed Danny standing in his office door.
It was a quiet entrance, and Danny's lips were pursed, his hands in his pockets. His head was down a little, blonde hair still somewhat askew from their dramatic arrest earlier, but his eyes still looking furtively at Steve.
Steve stopped, pen in hand, and waited.
Danny shifted, shoulders rolling just a little. "So, uh, how's it going?"
It wasn't the most brilliant or insightful question, but this was Danny, so Steve took it for what it was worth. He raised his eyebrows, cocking his head just slightly. "Almost done with the paperwork," he said. "You?"
Danny nodded absently back toward his office, hands still tucked snugly in their pockets. "Filed and ready to go," he reported.
Steve nodded, looking back down and adding his signature to a page. "Good," he said. "Long case."
"Yeah," Danny said. Then one hand tugged against the pocket, but didn't come out. "About that..."
Steve looked up curious.
Danny shrugged a little. "I just wanted to say I'm sorry," he said, and his eyes skittered away, hands fidgeting helplessly in his pockets. "You were right about this case, and if I'd seen it sooner-"
Steve shook his head, lifting one hand with a small wave. "You were just doing your job."
One hand came out of his pocket, extended for a moment in front of him. "No, my job is to have your back," Danny said. The hand lifted, flitting through the air. "I let my bias cloud my judgment and wasn't there to back you up when you needed it."
It was somewhat true. Danny had insisted on checking out another lead, and Steve had insisted it was pointless. It had been Danny who had refused to proceed without crossing the other suspect off the list, but it had been Steve who had blithely suggested they go their separate ways.
A fall down the stairs, a bruised back, five stitches, and an arrest later, Steve was as right as he was wrong. Clearly, while he was hurting, one look at Danny's dejected stance told him he wasn't the only one.
Steve sat up a little, putting his pen down. "I made the call to separate," he reminded him.
Danny nodded a little. Then he stuffed his hand back in his pocket. "I still should have been there," he said, voice quiet. His hands seemed to strain in the pocket, digging in deeply.
Steve couldn't help but smile. He nodded back. "Apology accepted," he said simply.
"Good," Danny said. The tension seemed to drain from Danny, and one hand came out of his pocket again, this time to rub at his neck. "Though the next time you go off and get yourself almost killed by a bad guy, it's going to be your fault. I am tired of feeling guilty for your aptitude for danger."
Steve grinned, rocking back in his chair. "I thought you said this was your fault?"
Danny's other hand made an appearance and he gestured wildly in Steve's direction. "Not being there was my fault, but your haphazard police work and arrest technique is completely on you. No one else I know has ever found as much trouble doing simple things as you do. It's like you take a breath, and suddenly every risk within fifty miles is drawn to you. Like a magnet."
"So you're saying I'm a force of nature," Steve quipped easily.
Danny's face scrunched up and he threw one arm wide. "You have issues. You know that, right?"
Steve rocked again and laughed, because at this point, he most certainly did.
More than that, as he watched Danny's arms fly around, he knew he wasn't the only one.
Sometimes there wasn't time for words. When they went in hot, they had to rely on each other in a whole different way, trusting that they knew each other well enough.
Chin and Kono had taken the south end of the building. Steve was leading Danny around to the north, keeping close along the edge, ducking under windows. The bulletproof vest was hot in the Hawaii sun, and Steve kept one hand tight on the gun, even as he slowed to check on Danny over his shoulder.
Danny nodded imperceptibly, and Steve moved them ahead, slower now. As they approached a door, Steve held up a single hand to slow him. Danny pulled up behind him, coming silently to a stop, flattening himself against the wall, his free hand splayed against it.
Steve peeked around the corner, just enough to see. He turned to Danny, making a few motions.
Without a word, Danny slipped across the door, flanking its opposite side.
Steve held up three fingers, then two-
And when he went in, Danny was right at his back.
Gunfire greeted them, and Steve pulled hard to the right, Danny going left. In the hail of bullets, it was all Steve could do to tuck and roll, coming up fast to fire before ducking behind a worn out desk to reload.
He heard cover fire from across the way, and glancing up, he saw Danny taking refuge some twenty feet away. When his clip ran out, he dropped down, and their eyes met.
Together they rose, firing in rapid succession.
It got messy and Steve ran hard to find new cover. Cover fire from the other side of the building joined in, and when it was over, they had three perps ready for ambulances, two for the morgue, and one for questioning.
In the chaos, Steve's heart skipped a beat. Kono was securing the injured with bandages, Chin was calling in for an ambulance. But he couldn't see Danny.
Turning, his heart was stuck in his throat, until he saw his partner putting his gun back on its holster, dusting off his pants.
Steve grinned at him. "Some bust, huh?"
When Danny saw him, he rolled his eyes. He rolled his shoulders, too, as he approached, coming to stop next to Steve. With a simple nod, Danny put his hands in his pockets. He was trying not to show it, but Steve could see the small glint of satisfaction in his partner's eyes. "Yeah," he said, and he rocked on his heels. "Some bust."
Steve's grin widened and he clapped Danny on the shoulder.
Danny shook his head, one hand peeking out to itch his nose briefly, before slipping back inside.
They were supposed to interview a witness. Something simple.
But with Danny, few things were ever simple.
"You know," he said, getting out of the passenger's side of the car. He closed it behind him. "If we would just get a warrant, we could save ourselves the trouble of having to come back later. We have enough probable cause. We know she let the shooter stay with her."
Steve shut his door behind him, shrugging. "She's a good woman," Steve said, starting his way up the walk. Danny fell in step next to him. "No reason to bother with a warrant when we can just ask."
Danny flipped one hand forward in disagreement. "A good woman who harbored a fugitive," he said. He held up two fingers. "Twice."
Steve shook his head with a small wave his hand. "It can't hurt to ask."
Danny snorted a little at that, using one finger to scratch his ear. "With you, it can always hurt."
Steve frowned, climbing the stoop. "People like me."
Danny pulled to a stop, looking at him with a grin. "People?"
Steve looked at him, nodding. "People."
Danny laughed a little, putting both hands forward. "Okay. Name one."
Steve paused, thinking. "You," he said finally.
Danny's laugh was incredulous now. He gestured to himself. "Me?" he asked. "You're using me in an argument against me?"
Steve smiled contently. "It works, I think," he said, with a certain measure of pride.
Danny's hands flapped for a moment, before just giving up. "You're impossible," he said, and he leaned forward to ring the doorbell. He paused, looking at Steve and waggling a finger at him. "You are completely and totally impossible."
Danny rang the doorbell and Steve was about to reply when there was a loud bang and a clatter. The screen door nearly came off its hinges and the blast startled Steve so much that he almost didn't see Danny fall until he was on the ground.
He didn't even have the presence of mind to pull his gun, not even at the sound of footsteps running away inside the house. Instead, his eyes were drawn to Danny, now at the bottom of the stoop. His legs were splayed awkwardly on the steps, head listing to the side on the cement. There was a growing red stain across his shirt, and his tie was flopped over into a small but growing pool of blood.
Steve gaped for a second and tried to understand. Tried to reason that their witness was still harboring a fugitive, that the fugitive was probably getting away. Tried to reason that the fugitive had heard them at the door and decided to take them out instead.
Feeling sick, Steve moved down the stairs, going to his knees at Danny's side. His hands were shaking as they felt for a pulse, his gun hand reaching into his pocket for a phone.
He felt the beat, but couldn't find much reassurance. There was already so much blood, and Steve's free hand hovered helplessly as he tried to remember what he should do.
He dialed with one hand, using the other to pull at the buttons on Danny's shirt to get a better look. Danny didn't flinch, his body nothing but dead weight, his hands limp at his sides.
"Come on, Danny," Steve muttered as the line connected. He gave up on the shirt and instead straightened himself, pressing down hard on the open wound as best he could. The phone was ringing, but Steve couldn't take his eyes of Danny's pale face, his too-still body, and his lax hands laying palms up on the ground, limp fingers curled up and motionless in the Hawaii sun.
By the time Steve got to the hospital with Danny, he was shaking. Danny's blood was on his hands and his pants were soaked with it in the knees from kneeling next to him. The ambulance ride was busy and short, and Steve kept himself tucked out of the way while the medic worked with frantic, fluid movements to save Danny's life.
In the bathroom, he washed his hands clean, but he couldn't get the blood from under his nails. By the time he sat down, his pants felt stiff with dried blood, but he couldn't bring himself to go change.
Chin and Kono showed up, found him there. He was seated in a chair, perched on the edge. He was leaned forward, elbows on his knees and hands dangling loosely in front of him.
They asked what happen, but didn't pry. Chin organized a perimeter and promised they'd catch the guy. Kono offered to call Grace, but Steve shook his head.
It was hours before they could see Danny, but none of them left. Steve was still wearing the blood stained cargo pants when the doctor let them into ICU for a special, short visit.
Danny was tucked under a thin blanket, the hospital gown doing little to disguise the pudgy gauze wrapped around Danny's torso. The bullet had torn through Danny's intestines, and it was a messy procedure to fix it, and they won't know how well it worked until it really had a chance to heal.
Steve didn't want to think about it. It was hard enough looking at Danny's pale face without thinking about the thread holding his digestive tract together.
Instead, he stood at Danny's bedside, looking at the still pallet of his face. The color was washed away, the blonde hair still swept back and gelled. He seemed less than alive, like that, no matter what the heart monitor reported in a steady stream. His hands were pressed to his sides, one hooked up to a pair of IVs and the other simply lying prone on the sheet.
Steve had seen Danny hurt before, but not like this. He'd seen Danny angry and upset and happy and annoyed, but not like this.
Never like this.
Never still. Not just choosing not to move, but incapable of movement. Lifeless.
It scared him.
Steve swallowed hard and worked his jaw. He wanted to say something, wanted to do something. But there was nothing he could say. Nothing he could.
So Steve stood, hands by his sides, feeling helpless and defeated.
Minutes turned into hours. Hours into a day. Steve defied the doctors and used his leverage with the governor to have full-time access to his partner's room. He promised the doctors he'd be good-and he was. He sat in the corner and waited.
Waiting long hours was hard, and there was little to pass the time. Chin and Kono stopped by and he took the time to change his pants at Kono's insistence and called Rachel to arrange a meeting with Grace.
But mostly, he waited.
He didn't let himself think about what he could have done differently. He didn't let himself think about what would happen if Danny wasn't okay. He just waited with the dogged belief that they'd figure it out when Danny woke up. Together.
Then, Danny's hand twitched.
Steve blinked, wondering if he'd imagined it. He was tired, having only dozed on and off since Danny had been admitted over a day ago.
But then the fingers curled, releasing ever so slightly.
With a burst of energy, Steve sat up, pulling the chair noisily across the floor to get closer.
In response, Danny's other hand joined the process, and they both moved together, flexing a little and almost lifting before a frown furrowed its way across Danny's brow.
Steve was on his feet, reaching for the call button. He pressed it, then let his hand hover over Danny, wanting to offer support but not knowing how. The doctors were getting more optimistic, but Danny was still weak and running a low grade fever. He was on heavy antibiotics and the breathing tube was still in, just in case.
"Danny, take it easy," he soothed.
Danny, true to form, didn't seem to listen. His breathing hitched, fingers curling on the sheets.
"Hey," Steve said, wetting his lips. He hovered uselessly for another moment. "You just need to relax. You're okay."
Danny's breathing hitched again, but this time his eyes opened. Muddled and confused, they searched for a moment before settling on Steve's face.
Steve smiled. "It's about time you woke up."
Danny blinked, his eyes skittering away. His hands scooted across the sheets, as if searching. He looked back at Steve uncertainly.
"You got shot," he explained simply. "Barrett was at her house. Saw us coming and fired when you rang the bell."
Danny's eyes flickered down Steve's body, one hand motioning toward him weakly.
Steve rolled his eyes. "I'm fine," he said. "Just tired. These chairs aren't made for sleeping."
Danny's brow creased in disapproval, before his eyes widened again. His fingers pulled at the blanket just a little, and Steve understood.
"Chin and Kono are still handling the case," he said. "Caught Barrett not two miles away. And you were right about Mrs. Monroe. We arrested her on obstruction of justice and she's already lawyered up."
Danny seemed to deflate a little at that, fingers loosening a bit.
"You can rest now," Steve said. "Maybe when you wake up, I can get Grace into see you."
Danny's eyes opened wider, and his fingers seemed to tense.
Steve rolled his eyes a little. "She'll want to see you," he said. "Even like this."
Danny didn't look convinced. His fingers worked at the sheets, flailing a little, but not making it very far.
"Just relax, okay?" Steve encouraged.
Danny's eyes squeezed shut, and his breathing hitched again. His fingers seemed taut, desperate to move even where his strength was lacking. Steve could make out Danny's confusion and frustration, just as readily as his pain.
"I'm not going anywhere," Steve continued, and his hand reached out instinctually, gripping the metal railing on Danny's bed and willing his partner to not just hear, but listen. "I'm right here."
The tension drained from Danny's body, and he opened his eyes again. They were more muddled than before, and when his fingers creased the sheets, it was an almost feeble movement.
Steve smiled again, and let his fingers drop down to Danny's arm, giving his wrist a small squeeze. "I'm right here," he said again.
This time when Danny's eyes drifted closed, they stayed that way, his fingers going lax on the sheets once again. When the nurse showed up, she took Danny's vitals, and told Steve with a smile that the doctor would be in to see them soon.
Settling back in his chair, Steve smiled in thanks, and let his own eyes drift shut as exhaustion took its hold.
Recovery was slow. It was weeks before the doctors cleared Danny to spend any significant time out of bed, and months had passed before he was able to return to desk duty.
All the while, Danny griped and moaned. Complained about the itchy incision site and the less-than-savory dietary restrictions and being stuck in the office all day while everyone else got to do real police work.
Steve worried about him there, with no one to hear him complain. He worried about him more when he went home to his tiny apartment and how he managed to put on a tie and tuck in his shirt without hurting himself.
He took to stopping by unannounced and always ate lunch at the office, and even when Danny rolled his eyes and clucked his tongue, he also seemed eager to have someone to motion to in his conversation, so Steve figured he was doing something right.
When Danny got a clean bill of health for active duty, Steve was reluctant to clear him. He could still remember Danny on the ground, the pool of blood, and his cold, limp hands.
It was hard to forget.
It was hard to let go.
"You sure about this?" Steve asked, standing at the driver's side.
Danny groaned. He braced himself on the side and turned his head toward the sky before looking back at Steve. "The doctor's sure. I'm sure. The governor's sure. Why are you not?"
Steve shrugged, hemming in his worries. "I just want to make sure."
Danny rolled his eyes and stood up straight. He put one hand out to the side. "I passed the shooting test. I passed the physical exam. I can eat all solid foods. I even passed your ridiculous little psych evaluation-"
Steve shook his head. "That's standard procedure," he defended.
Danny threw both hands out in pure indignation. "You had the guy question me for three hours straight. You had him analyze my unhealthy obsession with New Jersey."
Steve nodded. "So it is unhealthy," he concluded.
Danny made a face, leaning forward and extending his arms purposefully. "No, it's not unhealthy. It's called nostalgia. It's called being homesick. It's called not wanting to spend my life in a tourist trap that never gets below 70 degrees."
"You're complaining about warm weather?"
Danny's nose wrinkled and he pointed to himself. "I'm not complaining about anything," he said. He pointed at Steve. "You're the one who's complaining."
Shaking his head, Steve frowned. "I'm not complaining."
Danny nodded readily, finger still shaking at Steve. "You're complaining that the shrink didn't make me sit in the office for another three months." He paused, his stance shifting. "Is that it? You don't want me as a partner anymore?"
Steve's mouth opened in shock.
Danny's eyebrows went up. His hands went into the air. "You don't want to work with me anymore," he said. "I take a bullet on the job with you and it takes me months to get back to duty and you don't even want to work with me anymore." One of his hands ran through his hair, the other going to his hip. "I can't believe it."
It was so ridiculous that it was almost funny. "Danny," Steve said, working with all his strength to keep from laughing. "I want to work with you."
Danny eyed him suspicious, his free hand dropping tentatively to his side. "Are you sure?"
Steve nodded. "I'm sure. I just wanted to be sure that you were sure."
Danny's eyes were dark, but he nodded. "I'm sure."
"Good," Steve said. Then he gestured to the car. "You ready to go?"
Danny kept a keen eye on him, but nodded again. "Yeah," he said, leaning over to open the door. "I'm ready."
Steve smiled, easily pulling his door open. "Then let's go."
He settled into the seat, Danny finding his spot right next to him. As the car rumbled to life, he cast one more look at his partner.
Without a word, Danny gestured to the road ahead.
Grinning, Steve put the car in gear and they started moving, not looking back for a second.