Title: Interlude 1: First, Seek Wisdom

Author: BuffyAngel68

Rating: FRT possible occurrences of mild language

Summary: Different sources are tapped, but the same reassurance is found

Disclaimer: Not mine, I don't own, made no money here...but I insist they're happier with me. If the next season doesn't make things right, I'm abducting the whole bunch (except for Stan) and transporting them to my private island in an out of the way dimension I bought on sale last week. Jim and Blair, John Doe and a few others are already perfectly happy there, I'm sure the Five-O crew will be, as well...

FOUR DAYS LATER: FIVE-O HQ

"Huh... okay, wait a minute... is it... you mean this?"

"Yeah, right there." Chin confirmed. Danny peered more closely at the screen and then his eyes opened wide as the computer wizardry his friend was showing him finally became clear.

"Oh! Right, okay! I got it. Man, that is beyond cool, my friend, that's frozen solid..."

His phone sounded off with the 'Psycho' shower music and Danny's delighted expression fell. Glaring balefully, he tore it out of his pocket, shut it down with force and returned it. Chin smiled faintly.

"You're not gonna talk to her?"

"Not 'till she makes me.' Danny growled.

"Hey, I know I'm not the bossman, but if you need an ear or a shoulder..."

"What? What's that about? I can talk to you just fine."

"I know, it's just that partners... they develop this thing, you know? Their own verbal shorthand, their own way of thinking, even. They understand each other in a way nobody else does."

"Yeah? I don't know, maybe. I, ah... I never noticed. I'm takin' a break. Just for a minute..." Danny sputtered, moving off to find a cold drink and a place to sit, throwing his response, such as it was, backward over his shoulder as he rattled around in the fridge and scrambled to keep his composure so his secret would remain one. It didn't work nearly as efficiently as he'd hoped. "Only been a few months. Takes more than that to find common ground... then you gotta plant a burning bush. Water, fertilizer, mulch... all takes time. Well, maybe not water, it'd put out the bush, then how're you supposed to communicate? Hold on... *can* you put out a burning bush? I mean, God could, obviously, but he'd use somethin' more flashy than plain water..."

"Danny? Anything you feel like telling me?" Chin asked cautiously, now standing only a foot or two away. Danny finally went still, straightening and turning to face his colleague with hot pink cheeks and a sheepish grin.

"We're outta beer."

Chin smiled lightly, held up both hands and began to back away.

"Hey, no big deal, brah. Your business is your business..."

"Wait. I... you... look, can we sit?"

Both men found chairs and Chin fought to stay silent, his curiosity burning but knowing Danny, a deeply thoughtful man, despite appearances, would speak when he was ready. "Did Steve tell you about the bet we made?"

"Only that you lost. I think it was just so I wouldn't tease you about the lack of your usual neckwear for the rest of the month."

"Yeah... well, the ties are only part of the torture. He's makin' me learn how to swim."

"Glad to hear it. You never know what kinda rescues you might get with this job, so trust me, it's a great idea. How's it going so far?"

"Okay. He managed to get me in the water... showed me the basics. It's not so bad, actually. I'm used to polar-ice-caps water at the beaches out East. Here... it's different. Better. When we got out and back on dry land... thing is, I never meant for... it wasn't what I... what we... Damn, I don't know how to say it."

"You got more than a swimming lesson." Chin intuited, speaking gently.

"That works. Thanks."

"You're welcome."

"You okay with this? I never heard you talk about your feelings on... this subject, so if..."

"I'm fine with it, Danny. I do have a couple of questions."

"Shoot."

"You wanted it? You wanted... whatever it was to happen?"

"Hell, yeah!" Danny shot back, mildly indignant. "He didn't force me into anything. Steve's not that kinda guy. Even with the water, he persuades, he prods, he's snarled a couple times when I made him frustrated... but no forcing. It's always my choice. Second question."

"You ever been in a situation like this before?"

"Nah. Rachel an' me... she wasn't exactly my first, if you know what I mean, but she was my first love. Even with her, though, it was never this intense, this strong. I feel connected to Steve in a way I never have to anybody else."

"Wow. Sounds scary."

Danny looked up in surprise, but after taking a moment to think about it, he realized it was true.

"As your first roller coaster ride."

Chin laughed deeply.

"He is that, definitely."

"I know. God in heaven, do I know..."

"He won't change." Chin warned. "I think balls out and full speed ahead is the only way he knows how to do the job. If you're expecting him to be more careful or let off the gas pedal just because he loves you... the two of you won't last, no matter how powerful your bond is."

Danny nodded slowly, soberly contemplating the painfully honest words Chin had gifted him with.

"Kono bein' your ohana... not the same kinda love, but still..."

"Still. Go ahead."

"How do you handle the thought that every time she goes out solo on an interview, or to back up me or Steve... she might not come home?"

"I trust her brain and her instincts. I trust the training HPD gave her. Yeah, her natural fearlessness makes me crazy sometimes, not to mention she's got McGarrett as an example now... but if I did nothing but sit around and worry about her, I'd be even worse. Knowing you probably won't see your last moments coming... it's a cop's life. Anybody who's strong enough to try and love a cop has to accept that too."

"Rachel couldn't."

"Her loss. What's up with not answering her calls, by the way?"

"She's droppin' hints. I don't wanna hear it."

"Hints? Like what?"

" 'Stan's out of town, why don't we meet for lunch and talk about a summer visitation schedule?' 'I'm on my own, tonight, drop by for a drink why don't you?' Like that."

Chin grimaced.

"Her timing sucks."

"Understatement of the millennium. I can't even picture tellin' her I'm finally ready to love someone else. How the hell do I add in that the someone is not only a guy... it's Steve?"

"Don't hold off too long. She finds out on her own there's a good chance you'll end up in court and Grace'll be the one who gets hurt."

"No. Rach... she wouldn't. She'd never..."

"I'm just sayin'." Chin replied as he rose from his chair. "You may have to fight for Steve *and* your little girl if you don't sit Rachel down and explain things. Next time she calls..."

"Pick up... talk. Damn, this is the last thing I wanna do... but you're right, I know you are."

"Hey, there is one big consolation."

"Uh-huh. Speak, oh guru of the Bat Cave, speak."

"Gracie already loves Steve and you said the other day that she's been pestering you about getting on with your life. When she finds out you'll never have to ask for a hug again."

A SMALL PARK SEVERAL MILES AWAY:

"Steve? Hey, are you alright?"

"Hmmm? Yeah... yeah I'm great, Kono. Why?"

"I don't know. Why is most of your lunch still hanging around and why do I have to say your name ten times before I get your attention?"

Steve flushed and grinned.

"Sorry. I'm just not hungry, I guess. Got a lot on my mind."

"I can see that. I may not be Danny, but my ears are in top shape if you wanna get anything off your chest..."

Her companion's face became even redder and his smile momentarily broadened, but he shook his head, rose to his feet and busied himself gathering up the detritus from their meal.

"That's okay. I can handle it. Thanks, anyway."

"No problem." She replied, growing suspicious as she watched him dump the trash in a nearby can. He spoke to her again, but seemed determined to face away as he did so, making her hunch even stronger.

"We, uh... we should get back to work before they send out a search party."

Kono stood up from the picnic table, moved to where Steve was waiting and slid around him so she could see his face. He shifted again, but she moved with him.

"It's only been an hour. I'm sure Chin's not worried yet."

"Probably not. Lunch break's over, though..."

"True. Plus, you know... if we don't get back soon, who knows what trouble he'll get into."

"Chin?"

"Danny."

Color flashed in Steve's face once more and Kono grinned, briefly covered her mouth and danced back a few steps. "Oh... my God. Seriously?"

"What? You gonna let me in on the joke?"

"No appetite, distracted, blushing when I say his name... you and Danny finally did it! Way to go, Boss, it's about time!"

"How did... I swear I never said... Damn it, he's gonna kill me."

"Not a chance. He's alone with my cuz, remember? If Danny's as deep in as you are, he'll be spilling his guts any minute, if he hasn't already. Now I really *do* wanna get back."

"Hold it, hold it... you're not mad? Feeling weird about this?"

"Why would I be mad? Real love is what it is. It has a mind, a schedule and an agenda and when it shows up... you just have to go with it. Trust me, you two were destined to find each other."

"How can you say that? You don't know any better than I do." Steve retorted gruffly, pacing away toward the car, stopping after only a yard or so.

"You're kidding right? We were watching you argue with Danny the other day and Chin joked that you were married in a past life. Maybe more than one. Not that I believe in that stuff, necessarily, but he had the right idea, ya know? You and Danno... you're soul-mates."

"God, Kono..."

"C'mon, Steve. Tell me you don't feel it." she cajoled softly, moving close enough to touch his back. "Tell me there's not... I don't know, *something* about Danny that pulls you and calls to you like nothing you've ever known before. Tell me the deepest parts of you didn't ache with that call the second you first saw him."

Steve's chin slowly drooped toward his chest and he shook his head.

"You're right on every count, but..."

Kono moved around him again and captured his gaze with her own. "but you're scared out of your mind?"

Steve grasped her hand and grinned faintly.

"Okay... you're too damn young to know all this stuff."

"So maybe I'm not talking from experience, but I want love like you and Danny have. I watch you guys, I watch other people... I study how they look at each other, how they talk, how they handle bad situations. I'm telling you what I've seen in the really strong relationships... the ones that've lasted."

"And scared is supposed to be a good thing."

"It means you're thinking about the other person. You care enough to worry if they're getting what they need... if they're happy. I'll bet you Danny's even more terrified than you are right now." Kono chuckled.

"He's been here before, he's got more to lose sleep over."

"No way. It won't believe it was real love with Rachel, at least not on her side. If you love someone you learn to accept who they are. She couldn't deal with the danger of what Danny does, even though she knew how passionate he is about it and how good he is at the job. She lost faith in him, if she ever had any, and she gave up. Strong, lasting love doesn't do that so easily."

"We weren't in her shoes. We can't just assume it wasn't a struggle for Rachel to let Danny go. She has a kid to think about..."

"So did Danny. Look what he did for Grace. Look what he sacrificed to stay in her life."

"I know. I told him as much."

Kono's eyes brightened at the prospect of hearing details without having to plead and sweet-talk and appear even more girly than she already felt.

"When?"

"When we made the bet that got him to stop with the damn ties." Steve replied at half-volume, the rose tint once more making an appearance on his skin.

"So that's why! I though he was just feeling the laid-back vibe, finally. Did you win anything else?"

"I'm showing him how to swim. If I can ever get him within a hundred yards of a board, he's gonna learn to surf, too."

Kono laughed brightly.

"Yeah, good luck with that. So, uh... am I allowed to ask..."

"No."

"Boss..."

"He's a great kisser. I tell you anything else and he *will* find a way to take me out that'll never trace back to him. By the way, when did you go from Super Woman to bein' a researcher for romance novels?"

"I am *not* that bad. I told you, it's research for me. Now that Chin and I know the secret, maybe you and Danny will do more mushy stuff around the office. I can always use more data points for my study. Just how good a kisser is he, anyway?"

"Jeez, go get in the car, will ya?" Steve laughed, using his grip on her hand to propel her forward gently. "We don't get back to work soon, it'll be time for dinner."

THE END