Summary: Danny lost the bet and Steve won't let him maneuver out of paying up. Now what's he supposed to do...
Disclaimer: Yadda, yadda... don't own 'em, no money... you know the drill.
Seated in Steve's car, parked in a lot just a few steps away from a small strip of shady, secluded beach, the 5-0 leader found himself in another playground style war of words with his stubborn partner. To Danny's disgust however, this time nothing he said could chase the joy from Steve's expression.
"Yeah... I do."
"I swear you don't."
"For God's sake, you think I don't know my own mind? I hate water!"
"How can you hate something you know nothing about?"
Danny squinted and scowled, knowing he was about to be played but unable to quite figure out how.
"It's wet, it's freakin' cold and it's full of things that bite and sting and strip the flesh off your bones. That's it, over and out."
"Who won the bet?"
"God almighty, take me now..." the smaller man mumbled under his breath.
"C'mon. Say it, Danno. Who won the bet?"
"It woulda been me, but *you* cheated!"
"Excuse me? How, exactly, did I cheat?"
"You *kissed* me! I couldn't think after that!"
"The kiss was, like, two seconds long! And in case you forgot, it left you enough gray matter to start humming that song and enough common sense to run like your ass was on fire an' your head was catching." Steve countered.
"Yeah, well, I wasn't about to let you pull that stunt again!"
Steve leaned across the car's center console, stared into Danny's eyes from only a few inches away and let his voice go rough and quiet.
"You saying you didn't like it? Hmmm?"
"I... you... but... see, you're doin' it again!"
"Tryin' to shut down my brain so I can't spit out an answer."
"You have one?"
"Yeah... 'course I do. You look at me like that... I just lose track a'where I put it, that's all." Danny responded weakly.
Retreating slowly, Steve smiled, pulled the keys from the ignition and exited the car. While Danny fumbled his way out of the passenger side, his partner strode around to the trunk and retrieved three small items and a canvas shopping bag. Danny peered around the back of the car a few seconds later. "Look... I mean it, McGarrett. I really hate open water."
Steve shut the trunk, locked the car with his remote, shoved the keys in his pocket and turned to the other man, briefly cradling his face with one hand much as he had a day or two before.
"You don't and I can prove it."
Danny swallowed and prayed the sweat suddenly beading on his forehead, not entirely due to the overly warm day, would stop before it dripped into his eyes. True, it would shatter the moment and perhaps free him from whatever deft spell Steve was constructing, but Danny wasn't absolutely sure he wanted that to happen
"Yeah? Seeing is believing Seal boy..." he attempted, though his voice had lost even more of its usual animation. It had, in fact, become quiet and small and Steve adjusted his manner accordingly, sure that Danny would bolt if he didn't.
"Show me some bare feet... and I promise, you'll do both."
"Can't go walking the sand in all that stuff, Danno." Steve told him lightly, slipping out of the sandals he wore and dropping them in the bag. "They'll stay clean in here with mine. You can put 'em back on when we get in the car to go home."
"I guess... yeah, okay."
Danny dropped down to sit on the bumper and gradually shed his footwear. While he was adding his things to the bag, Steve took advantage of his inattention and executed the next part of his plan: stretching a rolled bandanna across Danny's eyes and quickly securing it behind his partner's head. "Hey, whoa! What the hell..."
"Easy, easy. I'm just testing a theory."
"What, if I can't see, is it easier to throw me in? The answer's yes, now get this thing off me!"
Steve gently grasped Danny's wrists and stilled his efforts to remove the cloth.
"Will you please relax? I thought maybe the worst of your problem was looking at the waves." Steve explained as, one at at time, he turned the lower part of Danny's pant legs inside out, pulled them up to his knees and secured each one with a piece of thick twine. "If you've never been out in it and learned how to handle yourself, the surf can be really intimidating. I want you to hear it first... smell it, taste it and feel it. Once you know the ocean through your other senses, seeing it won't freak you out so much."
"I am *not* freaked out." Danny insisted, followed by a discreet sniff.
"Okay, but you aren't exactly laid back either. I need you to trust me, here, Danny. I won't let you get hurt."
"I know... I know that. Maybe I bitch about your driving an' your interrogation techniques an' your tendency to engage in small arms warfare at a moment's notice... but it's just blowin' off steam. I know you got my back."
"Then gimme your hands, too."
Danny sighed quietly and did as Steve had asked. The taller man cautiously led his reluctant friend down a short set of wooden steps and onto the beach. "Okay, hold it right there. Dig your toes in a little, really make contact with the sand... and tell me what you feel."
"Huh. I never... wow, that is so weird..."
"It's warm... and soft. Who thinks of sand as bein' soft?"
"Anybody who grew up here instead of somewhere else. So it feels..."
"Nice. It's really nice."
"Good. Moving on..."
Steve guided him a few feet closer to the shoreline and stopped again. "Open up your ears, Danno. Listen really hard for a minute, then talk to me."
"Jeez... that bird sounds like it's on my shoulder, not up in a tree. A little breeze movin' through the branches. That's one a'my favorite noises, ya know? Reminds me of bein' a kid. I used to play in the park down the street all summer. When I got tired I'd stretch out on the grass, close my eyes... just listen 'till I fell asleep. Wait, wait, wait... there's something else mixed in there. A... a growl that sorta fades in an' out underneath the wind. Is that... no way."
"Yeah, that's the ocean."
"Damn, that's kinda... peaceful. It's actually cool down here. Be nice on a wicked hot day."
"Cool how? How do you sense that?"
"I can feel it on my skin. It's like mist... dampness... but not chilly. Feels good."
"You're doin' awesome, Danny. A couple more steps, okay? Just a couple..."
Soon. Danny felt water lapping over his insteps. Brought up near the perpetually icy waters of the Atlantic, he instinctively recoiled and tried to step back, but Steve held him in place. "Nah, nah... slow down. I know what you're expecting, but feel... feel, Danno."
"It... oh. Okay, it's not... whoa. That's actually decent. Sorry, man, my brain said..."
"No problem, I know. Deep slow breath in through your nose."
"Nnnhh. Stings a little... but not so bad."
"Last one. You remember catching snowflakes in your mouth when you were little?"
"How do you even know about that? Closest you've got is shaved ice with flavored syrup on it..."
"I read books, wise- ass. Stick your tongue out, will ya? Leave it there a few seconds. Good... now pull it back."
Danny made a slight face and licked his lips as if they were mildly dry.
"Salt. Can't believe I could taste that. It's like somebody just put a pinch on there. Pretty cool."
Fighting the urge to touch Danny more than was absolutely necessary, Steve reached over and got a hold on the bandanna.
"I'm gonna take it off now. It's pretty bright out, so close your eyes at first... then open 'em nice and slow. Try and keep everything I showed you in mind, alright?"
"Yeah. Do my best..."
Once Danny's eyes were fully open, Steve could hear and feel the other man's breath speed up, but he didn't think it was fear making it happen this time.
"That thing I said about throwing me in... I think my dad did. I was so little I hardly remember... three years old, four maybe. He laughed. He thought the sight a' me on hands an' knees, pukin' up sea-water was funny..."
"God, Danny... I'm sorry. If I'd..."
"Hell, I barely knew, so there's nothin' to be sorry for. You did right, Steve. You helped. Man... the ocean's really beautiful, huh?"
"I always thought so."
Danny turned toward his partner and gazed solemnly up into his face.
"It's gonna happen again, ain't it?"
"I don't know. I'd love that... but it's your decision."
"Sucks that I'm shorter than you."
"I can fix that." Steve replied, curling his arms around Danny's waist and lifting him off his feet until they were eye to eye. "See? All better."
"Oh, I see, alright. Boy do I see..." Danny murmured, his arms sliding around Steve's neck to help support his weight.
Their second kiss was lingering and deep. Tentative morphed into intense and passionate, how-do-we-do-this gradually became don't-you-dare-stop. After the longest ninety seconds either man had ever experienced, they broke apart at last, both panting for breath. Danny slowly let go and Steve lowered him back onto his feet, never releasing his own frantic grip. This was fortunate, since the minute Danny landed his knees buckled and Steve had to hold him upright until he could stand again.
"That good, huh?" McGarrett joked.
"You have *no* idea..."
"Ready to go get cleaned up and head back?"
"More than ready. Anything else... we'll have to discuss. At length."
"Believe me, I'm with you there. For now let's go get the sand off and talk about dinner."