Author's Note: The muse strangled another story out of me. :P

Disclaimer: I merely borrow for entertainment. I own nothing but the arrangement of words in this document.

:Mutual Understanding:

Danny was royally pissed.

He had been in full-rant mode now for approximately twelve minutes, arms gesticulating wildly, sarcasm, concern, and righteous indignation radiating from his posture and punctuating his words' every syllable.

He'd been trying to talk some sense into Steve, who was stuffing a heavy-duty backpack full of ammo and God-only knew what other supplies with laser-like focus.

Steve was set on one of his missions, and he'd be damned if Danny would deter him.

"Are you listening to me?" Danny demanded loudly.

"Not really," Steve said, reaching around the shorter man to grab the flashlight sitting on the bed.

Danny's jaw clenched. He looked away for a second, stuffing his hands in his pockets.

When he finally turned back to look at Steve, his expression was less furious than resigned.

"Alright, you know what? If you go through with this, I'm done. I'll turn in a letter of resignation tomorrow and go back to being a detective with HPD."

That stopped Steve in his tracks.

He turned toward the shorter man, fixing him with a steely glare.

"You're done? What the hell is that, Danny? A threat? Just because I don't agree with you?"

Now Steve was pissed.

Danny's hands came out of his pockets once more, and he pressed his palms together as he spoke, his arms dipping and swaying with each utterance.

"No, see – this is not about you agreeing with me, okay? This is about the fact that I am your partner. Your partner, Steven. And I've been standing here for twenty minutes telling you that this is a bad idea," he flung his arms out in a gesture of exasperation, "and it's like talking to brick wall!"

Steve just snorted at the dramatics, zipping up the backpack in one jerky wrist motion.

"I thought partners were supposed to have each other's backs," he retorted angrily, his tone laced with sarcasm and something of an accusation.

Danny brought a finger up, jabbing the air viciously.

"Hey, I have always – always – had your back. But it goes both ways, babe."

Now it was Steve's turn to throw his arms out, obviously offended.

"When have I ever not had your back, Danny, huh? Name one time."

"Look, this is not about me trusting your capabilities to sufficiently incapacitate bad guys in any given situation; this is about you and me, and whether this partnership even means anything to you."

Seeing the dead-serious and somewhat hurt expression on Danny's face deflated Steve just a bit.

He decided to lower his tone, figuring maybe if he humored the shorter man, he'd back off.

Palms down, he held his arms out in front of him loosely in a gesture of capitulation.

"Okay, I understand that you're upset –"

Danny's eyebrows shot up in disbelief.

"Upset? Upset? I am way beyond upset – I am friggin' livid, alright?"

He flung a hand to the side in frustration and began to pace.

"Hey, I can appreciate that you have this 'my-way-or-the-highway' independent streak in you and a military background that makes you feel like an invincible one-man army. But this – this right here," he gestured in a wide, furious circular motion. "This is not what partners do."

"This is what I do, Danny," Steve shot back, a hand curved inward to thump his chest. "Like it or not, this is who I am, alright? I can't just sit around twiddling my thumbs when there's a real threat out there that needs to be dealt with."

Danny's mouth turned down in a pronounced frown, arms straightened out in front of him, palms up.

"I never suggested we sit around and twiddle our thumbs, but you're trying to go solo here, and that's not how we work."

Steve shook his head.

"I'm the only one who has the right training for this –"

"When will you get it through your head that you are not in the SEALS, anymore!" Danny all-but shouted, his arms bent up at the elbows, forearms slashing forward violently to emphasize his points.

"You. Are a cop. You need to start thinking like one."

"Look. The Governor didn't hire a cop to lead this taskforce, Danny. She hired me. You got a problem with that, maybe you should take it up with her. Otherwise, you need to get the hell out of my way."

Steve slung the heavy backpack on his shoulder, all but ignoring the blonde man.

"Hey, you listen to me – I've already lost one partner since I came to this god-forsaken Island. Now, maybe you don't know what that feels like –"

The former SEAL's head shot up angrily, blue eyes glinting as he cut off the detective's rant.

"The hell I don't know what it feels like!"

Danny stopped, hands dropping to his sides as he knew he'd hit a nerve.

Steve continued, "It's exactly because I know what it's like to lose someone, that I'm doing this. I'm not about to put anyone else at risk because of me, and you know that."

When Danny spoke again, his voice was softer, but no less urgent.

"Losing men in combat is one thing. It sucks, but it's under completely different circumstances. That kind of shit only happens to the tune of 'ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do or die'." His hands came up again in a praying gesture. "Here in the real world, you have choices. And the decisions you make affect the people around you."

Steve cocked his head to the side – a minor concession.

"Okay, fine. I'm choosing to do what needs to be done to get this guy before he kills even more people."

The blonde man's index finger rose again, shooting toward Steve accusingly.

"No, you're choosing to do what YOU need to do."

He paused a moment, then took a step toward Steve, lowering his voice to a growl. "You're choosing to go on a suicide mission because of some personal vendetta, and you're not even thinking about the rest of us. You know why? Because you don't respect us – you don't respect me."

Steve rolled his eyes, affronted, and squinted in anger at his counterpart's melodramatics.

"Oh, come on, Danny! Seriously?"

"You bet your ass, I'm serious," Danny volleyed back furiously.

He began to list offenses on his fingers. "You don't respect me enough to consult me before you go on some half-cocked mission, you don't trust me enough to bring me in on it, and you sure as hell don't listen to anything I say. Seems like the only people you do respect are the ones who've earned the same merit badge as you, but we've seen how that turned out, haven't we?"

Steve's eyes narrowed, his lips curling in disgust.

"You were jealous of Taylor, you smug little bastard."

Danny didn't miss a beat.

"Rather a smug little bastard than a selfish son-of-a-bitch."

For a moment both men were rendered speechless, breathing hard from the yelling and the effort to keep the argument from getting physical.

Danny bit down hard on his lower lip, glancing away so as to resist the urge to walk right up to McGarrett and sock him in the jaw. His clenched fists remained trapped tightly within the pockets of his dress pants as he fought for control of his strangling emotions.

Steve closed his eyes and breathed through his nose, trying to control his breathing and release some of the tension in his body. If anyone else were to talk to him this way, the former SEAL wouldn't give them the time of day; he'd just walk out of the room, indifferent. It was exactly because he did respect Danny Williams that he stayed to hash it out.

"I'm sorry I brought up Taylor. That was a low blow," Danny admitted quietly, after a few moments.

"Yeah it was," Steve readily agreed, his tone still sounding angry.

Danny scuffed his shoe against the carpet.

"I'm serious, though, when I say you don't act like you respect me. I mean what, am I only good for taking orders? You told me I was your partner, not your subordinate. I thought we were equals."

Steve sighed. "You are my partner, Danny. And I do respect you."

"Then don't do this."

Danny's tone sounded almost pleading, and something twinged in Steve's gut, his resolve ebbing ever slightly.

He swallowed hard, gaze wandering as he let his guard slip.

"I'm not – I'm not used to trusting people, Danny. I'm not good at it."

Danny smirked, letting out a wry chuckle. "Damn right you're not."

Seeing the forlorn expression in his partner's eyes made him pause.

"Hey look - I understand you got trust issues after everything that happened to your family," Danny said gently, pale blue eyes softening in empathy. "And I know Wo Fat's head games are driving you nuts."

He clasped his hands together, his fingertips forming a steeple. "Believe me when I say I want to catch this bastard as badly as you do. But you can't push me out. Not now - not when we're this close. Not if this partnership is gonna work. Okay? You have got to let go of this soul-swallowing need for revenge, babe. It's like a black hole - it's eating you up inside."

Steve bit the inside of his cheek, taken off guard by the truth in Danny's words. His hands clenched and unclenched at his sides in a gesture of distress.

"I know," he replied, barely above a whisper. "Okay? I just...I just don't know if I can let go that easy."

Danny nodded, eyes crinkling in understanding. "So, what are you saying?"

He was a bit surprised when Steve turned to look him straight in the eye, his expression one of raw, piercing honesty.

"I don't want you to resign."

Danny sighed, a hand coming up to scratch his nose.

"Well – that is good, because I don't want to either. I mean, despite the high level of insanity we manage to encounter on the daily basis," he shrugged. "I like working with you."

Steve grinned at that, and then hid it quickly by clearing his throat.

"So uh –" he moved his hands back and forth in front of his chest, "what are we doing, here?"

The smaller man chuckled, crossing his arms in front of his chest.

"Well, my ex-wife would probably refer to this as 'male bonding,' but I prefer to call it 'coming to a mutual understanding.'"

Steve nodded.

"So what happens now?"

"Now? Now, you drop that backpack, follow me back to headquarters, and you, me, Chin, and Kono will put our heads together – key word, together – and figure out how we can catch this schmuck."

He bit his lip, arm raised with his thumb pointing back over his shoulder, waiting.

Steve sighed, shoulders slumped and looking a little bit lost.


Danny grinned, slapping the taller man on the back as he fell in step next to him.

"We're gonna make you a respectable member of law enforcement yet."

"You willing to bet money on that, partner?" Steve replied easily.

Danny's face fell.


El Fin.

A/N: Thoughts?

On 5/12/11, I made some edits after a couple reviewers pointed out a portion of the dialogue that didn't seem to ring true to McGarrett's character. Hopefully it is fixed. :)

Thanks for reading!