Rating / Warnings: NC-17 for explicit sexual content (at last!). Includes non-graphic references to off-screen violence, including canonical character death; there's also one brief mention of sexual assault, as a general category of crime.

Spoilers: one spoiler from 2x14, but this is mostly AU.

Word count: 9,700 words for this chapter; 56,000 words overall, so far.

Author's notes: apologies for the delayed update – I got sidetracked by writing sequels to two of my previous AUs, Sympathy for the Werewolf and Mamo's Books and Music. Both are currently WIPs, being updated in comment!fic form over on Livejournal; I'll post them here once they're done.

Anyway, thanks for your patience...I hope the wait for this chapter was worth it!

When Danny wakes up on Christmas morning, it's bright daylight outside. Fumbling for his phone, he's shocked to find it's almost 9am. He really didn't expect to nap for over four hours – Meka's sofa is surprisingly comfortable.

Danny immediately thinks about calling his daughter, but then decides against it. Rachel's family tradition is to open presents after a leisurely breakfast, and Danny doesn't want to interrupt that; he'll talk to Grace later.

He sits up, stretching out his arms, and looks across to see Steve sitting at the desk in his own office. Jesus, does the guy ever stop working? Danny's movement must catch Steve's eye, because he gets up and comes over.

"Morning. How'd you sleep?" Steve says, leaning against the doorframe to Meka's office. He's just out of the shower, apparently; his hair is still damp, and his feet are bare. Danny's morning wood stiffens further at the sight of Steve like this, a little vulnerable and more appealing than ever. It's a good thing Danny has a blanket draped across his lap right now.

"Pretty well, actually. You?"

Steve shrugs. "I had too much research to do. Plus, my CIA contact returned my call around 6am and had a lot to say."

"Any of it useful?"

"Yeah; he hadn't worked the Wo Fat case, personally, but he knew enough to fill in some gaps. And he told me about an analyst at Langley who's been tracking Wo Fat for years, both officially and on her own time. She thought she'd pinned him down in Macau, three years ago, and sent an Agency grab team...but it was a trap. They were all killed, including her fiancé."

"Jesus, how awful." That must have been the mission reported by the Washington Post, Danny realizes. "Did you get in touch, see if she can help?"

Steve shakes his head. "Speaking from experience, it's hard enough to get through the holidays when you've lost someone. Having me call and dredge everything up again would only make her Christmas worse. Better to give her a break from it, for just one day."

This depressing conversation has wilted Danny's erection pretty effectively. So it's safe now for him to stand up and stretch out properly, cracking his spine.

Steve takes a step back and says, "Hey, you want some coffee?"

"Fuck, yes," Danny says, making Steve smile briefly before he walks over to Five-0's kitchenette.

Danny heads for the bathroom, where he stares at himself in the mirror: yesterday's crumpled shirt, disheveled hair, pillow crease across his cheek, and dried drool at the corner of his mouth.

"Looking hot there, stud," he mutters, and splashes cold water on his face to wake himself up.

He finds Steve waiting for him outside the bathroom, sipping black coffee and holding out another large cup. Surprised to find it's made just how he likes it, Danny can't help making a low hum of pleasure as the taste floods his mouth. Steve slants him a glance, but refrains from any mocking comments.

"Any news about Hesse?" Danny asks, once they're back in Steve's office.

"Well, he's still alive, at least," Steve tells him. "I called first thing this morning to check. So it's possible that Wo Fat doesn't know we were there."

"Which would seem to rule out the warden being in his pocket," Danny says. "Maybe Wo Fat just bribed or threatened whoever was on the front desk, to let him in, and it didn't go any higher up the food chain."

"Yeah, I think so. I got the current desk guard to check the visitor logs from last night, and Wo Fat is listed under a fake name as Hesse's attorney. It'd be way too risky for him to come back and kill Hesse personally, so I figure he'll arrange for a guard or another prisoner to do it."

Danny nods. "Wo Fat probably didn't think he was under any time pressure – Hesse is pretty much the textbook example of a rat in a cage."

"That's why I have to move fast today, to question him and get him off the island before Wo Fat finds out he talked. I already spoke to District Attorney Ahn, and convinced her that Hesse needs protection in exchange for his intel. She's willing to come to Halawa this morning and negotiate a deal with him."

Steve finishes his coffee, and starts collecting up the print-outs from their night of research. "I also got hold of Judge Fischer, who says he'll sign off on the plea bargain straight afterwards so I can put Hesse on the next plane to the mainland."

"I can't believe you managed all that before 9am on Christmas," Danny says.

"Well, it helps that the DA is Buddhist and the judge is Jewish," Steve explains. "Plus, Karen Ahn handled a lot of Dad's cases back when she was an ADA. And Michael Fischer's daughter was in the Girl Scouts with Mary; his wife and my mom were close friends."

"Thank God for religious diversity." Danny yawns. "And the smallness of this island, too."

"Yeah – it can be a blessing as well as a curse."

"So are you keeping Governor Jameson in the loop on this? Catching Hesse was the reason she set up your taskforce, after all."

"I haven't talked to her since I got the call from Warden Quinn last night," Steve says. "She works hard, and she deserves a day off. I'll let her know what's happened tomorrow."

Steve disappears into Chin's office, and returns with a digital video camera and tripod. "I'm due to meet the DA at Halawa at 10.30 – I'm taking our recording equipment because I don't want to risk using the prison's stuff. You still want to come with me?"

"Sure," Danny says. "I'll need to shower and change first, though."

Steve looks him up and down, reminding Danny of the moment they first saw each other.

"I've got another set of spare clothes in my locker here, but they probably won't fit you. We can swing by your place on the way, and pick up some breakfast too."

"Kai's Coffee near HPD does great food, and I know they were planning to open today," Danny says, as they head downstairs and load everything into Steve's truck. "Plus, I get a discount because I'm dating one of the baristas."

"So is it serious between you two?" Steve asks, glancing over as he pulls out of Five-0's parking lot.

It occurs to Danny that he could lie, and give the impression that he's gotten over his insane attraction to Steve. He wrestles with this for a long moment before admitting, "Nah, we're just casual. Julia's still hung up on her ex, and I'm still...getting myself sorted out, I guess."

Steve presses his lips together, and keeps his eyes on the road. Danny considers asking about Lieutenant Rollins, in return. But he decides he'd rather not hear how their love spans the oceans, or how the months between her visits to Hawaii drag by like years.

The discordant sound of Rachel's ring tone fills the air, then, and Danny's gratitude for the distraction makes him answer more politely than usual. Still, he's relieved to hear his daughter's voice and not his ex's.

"Happy Christmas, Danno!"

"Hey, monkey – Happy Christmas to you, too. Did Santa stop by last night?"

"I'm not a baby anymore; I know Santa isn't real," she informs him. "But Mommy and Stan and Grandma gave me lots of cool stuff."

"Oh, yeah? What was your favorite present?" he asks, already anticipating the answer.

"A pink surfboard...it's so, so awesome. Can I please learn to surf now, Danno? Mommy says you have to agree before I can start."

Danny's glad that Rachel kept her side of the bargain, allowing him to surprise Grace with the gift certificate later.

"Well, I guess it'd be a waste of that nice pink board of yours, otherwise," he says, mock-thoughtful. "But I'll think it over real hard, all day, and let you know for sure when I see you."

When he ends the call, Danny catches Steve's curious glance and says, "Yes, Grace is getting surfing lessons for Christmas. Kono agreed to teach her, and me as well."

Steve grins. "Good for you. Just mind you do what Kono tells you; she's got a mean right hook."

They pick up breakfast to go from Kai's, Danny getting his usual chocolate croissant and Steve choosing something predictably healthy. As traffic's light today, it's not long before they're at Danny's apartment.

It's weird to let Steve into his private space, but having to sleep out in the living room at least means that all Danny's most personal things – like his sex toys – are carefully hidden away. So he pours Steve a glass of juice, gets him a spoon for his fruit salad, and heads for the shower.

Short on time and with Steve just a thin wall away, Danny doesn't jerk off like he desperately wants to. Instead, he scrubs himself clean and then runs the water cold until he's gasping for breath.

Putting on fresh clothes and fixing his hair completes the wake-up process for Danny. He comes out of the bathroom feeling ready for anything, but stops short when he sees Steve studying the framed photos on the kitchen wall.

There's his parents' wedding picture, in which Ma is visibly pregnant; Pop is beaming at her like a besotted fool, while her own smile is smaller but still fond. Beside it is a formal portrait of eight-year-old Danny with his younger siblings, Lisa just a toddler in his arms. And then there are various candid shots, including one of Danny holding his newborn baby girl, and one Jen's husband took of the whole Williams clan at Grace's birthday last year.

Steve turns around as Danny approaches, and the desolate look on his face makes Danny's heart clench. Now he thinks about it, he can't recall seeing any photos on the walls at Steve's house. Are all those family souvenirs up in the attic, or did Jack get rid of everything that reminded him of the wife he lost and the kids he sent away?

Danny glances at the kitchen clock, and sees they have enough time for him to sit down and eat. Pulling the croissant out of its paper bag, he says casually, "So now you know my deepest, darkest secret."

When Steve tilts his head questioningly, Danny explains, "My hair is naturally wavy. That's why I have to use so much product, to get it to behave."

Steve looks again at the picture of Danny as a child, and turns back to him with a grin. "Yeah, no kidding – you had actual ringlets for a while, there, like a little golden-haired cherub."

With a mouthful of pastry, Danny can only scowl at him rather than retaliate. It's worth it, though, to see Steve smiling. He's pleasantly surprised when Steve grabs the OJ and joins him at the table, topping up his own glass and filling another for Danny.

"Why don't you just wear it short, like I do?"

"Tried that in high school," Danny says. "Turns out being the smallest guy in your class and having bright blond hair is still plenty enough to get you hassled, even without the 'girl curls'. And now I think it looks better slicked back than cut short."

Steve nods, whether in acknowledgement or agreement. Then he sits quietly, sipping his juice, until Danny's done eating.

For a moment, Danny lets himself imagine them as a couple, having breakfast together every morning. They might share this kind of companionable silence as they swapped sections of the newspaper, or maybe get more talkative once the coffee kicked in.

Danny bites his lip, piles their dirty dishes in the sink with more force than is necessary, and says, "Okay, let's go."

They get to Halawa early, and Steve immediately orders the guards to transfer Hesse into the same interrogation room as last night. As the two of them sit waiting for the DA, Danny notices how nice the Christmas tree in the corner looks – far better than the crappy little one he's got at his place. It makes him think of home, yet again, and everything he misses about spending the holiday at Ma and Pop's.

Danny opens his mouth to kvetch to Steve, then closes it. There's a high chance Steve hasn't had a decent family Christmas since his mother died, and Danny's troubles are nothing by comparison.

When Karen Ahn arrives, right on time, Steve makes the introductions. She must be in her late 40s, with no visible grays in her short black hair. Danny only knows the recently-promoted DA by reputation: a powerful courtroom performer, and a tough but fair boss. Steve's taking a risk, letting anyone else know what's really going on, and Danny hopes this woman is worthy of his trust.

They take a few minutes to quietly discuss how they're going to play this. Ms. Ahn outlines the options she can offer Hesse, and reminds Steve of what's legally permissible. In return, Steve warns her how personally hostile this interrogation is likely to be.

She nods. "This island is small, and the cops often have a long personal history with the criminals. I've seen some ugly confrontations, in my time."

And then they're admitted to the room where Hesse is already chained to the table, looking a little less fragile and freaked out than he did 13 hours earlier.

As Danny sets up the video camera, Hesse's cold blue eyes are fixed on Steve. "You look like you got even less sleep than I did, Steve."

Steve shrugs. "Needed to confirm your intel about Wo Fat, and see if it was worth protecting. I decided it was, so I brought along someone with the legal authority to offer you a deal. This is Karen Ahn, District Attorney for Honolulu County."

She nods at Hesse. "You are entitled to have an attorney present during this interrogation. And as an Irish citizen, you may also consult a representative from your embassy."

"Bugger all that," Hesse says firmly. "I just want to confess and get the hell off this island."

Danny raises his eyebrows: last night, Hesse had talked about what he wanted to have happen if he was convicted.

"What made you change your tune?" Steve asks, maintaining a better poker face.

"I've had some time to think. You've got me red-handed on killing your father, and sticking the bomb collar on your man Kelly. That's already a guaranteed life sentence, right there. And almost everything else I've done was on Wo Fat's orders. So if coming clean helps you catch him, it'll be worth it."

Hesse leans closer and adds, "Anyway, this means I get to make you suffer, Steve. I get to tell you every last detail of how your dear old dad suffered, before I finally put a bullet in him."

Danny watches, with sickened fascination, as Hesse and Steve glare at each other. The air feels thick with potential violence.

Ahn is a professional, so she quickly regroups and takes over. "Very well. Here are your options for a plea bargain, Mr. Hesse. First, you can admit to the aforementioned felonies concerning Jack McGarrett and Chin Ho Kelly, and the murders of Luther Magallanes and Dr. Frank Galey, and receive life without parole."

"Next," Hesse says flatly, his lip curled.

"Second: confess to those and any other crimes you've committed on Hawaiian soil, and provide Commander McGarrett with significant and substantial evidence concerning the Chinese national known as Wo Fat. That'd result in a life sentence, but with the chance of parole after 30 years."

"And if McGarrett ever catches Wo Fat alive, and I spill my guts in court?"

"We'd reduce your minimum sentence to 20 years," she tells him. "That's the best deal I can give you, and under the circumstances it's very generous."

Danny knows from their earlier conversation that Steve is far from happy about this. But he's willing to accept the compromise, in the interests of getting his hands on Wo Fat.

"Where would I serve my time?" Hesse asks.

"A private prison in Arizona handles our inmate overflow," Ahn says. "You would be sent there with a new identity, and the Hawaiian government would continue to pay for your maintenance."

Hesse shakes his head. "How many Irishmen do you think are in Arizona prisons? It wouldn't be hard for Wo Fat to find me."

"I know you can fake an American accent," Steve points out. "I heard the audio from that bomb threat you made in Singapore a few years back."

"Sure I can, buddy," Hesse drawls, sounding authentically Californian to Danny's ears. "But that won't stop Wo Fat from hunting me down. If you think he's pissed at me right now, it'll be so much worse once he finds out I've betrayed him."

"The company which owns that Arizona prison has facilities all over the country, and they've worked with us before to secretly transfer our people from state to state," Ahn tells him. "It's like witness protection for inmates. We'll do our utmost to keep you alive, Mr. Hesse, wherever you end up."

"Do I get to be in solitary?" Hesse asks.

"If that's what you want," Ahn says.

That much time alone would drive Danny nuts, but Hesse seems to be looking forward to it. "Okay, fine – where do I sign?"

"First, you talk," Steve orders. "And then we decide if you've given me enough about Wo Fat to justify the shorter sentence."

"Are you sure you don't want an attorney present, to check over the plea agreement?" Ahn asks again.

Hesse shakes his head. "Let's just get this over with."

So Steve switches on the video camera, and the games begin.

First of all, Danny reads Hesse his Miranda rights. He doesn't know if Steve or Kono bothered during the arrest yesterday, and he doesn't know if the guy will survive to trial. But they can't risk having this evidence ruled inadmissible.

"Victor Hesse," Steve says formally, "what do you know of Wo Fat's background in China?"

Danny had expected Steve ask about his father's murder, straight off, and apparently Hesse did too. It's fucking bizarre to see a cold-blooded killer pout, like he's been denied his favorite toy. But Hesse just sighs, and starts to talk.

He sketches Wo Fat's origins within Chinese counter-intelligence, and then outlines the financial and logistical structure of his organization. Danny has to marvel at Hesse's memory as he reels off aliases, bank account numbers, and the names of shell corporations. He also pinpoints the locations of safe-houses and operational bases around the world.

Hesse stays calm, almost robotic, until he gets onto how Wo Fat rules his subordinates.

"Wo Fat's a martial arts master, and I've seen him kill with his bare hands. He rarely shows emotion, but his eyes...God, it feels like he can see right through you." Hesse shakes his head. "I served him for nearly a decade, working my way up through the ranks to become one of his most trusted men. But I never felt totally safe, and I never stopped fearing what he'd do to my brother if I stepped out of line."

Danny feels a tiny surge of sympathy for Hesse, at that: his concern for Anton seems to be his only redeeming characteristic. As a protective older brother himself, Danny can appreciate that. But he thinks of Jack, and Chin, and hardens his heart.

Hesse keeps going, pausing only to sip water. Steve leads the interrogation, with Danny chipping in here and there. The DA sits quietly, and listens.

At Steve's prompting, Hesse names a number of politicians and law enforcement officials Wo Fat has bought off across the world – including, worryingly, some on the US mainland. He also lists the murders Wo Fat has personally committed, along with those he ordered Hesse and others to carry out.

Hesse then admits to his own role in brokering illicit weapons sales across the globe, including to terrorist groups and rogue regimes. It's the kind of intel the CIA would literally kill for, and Danny's sure they'd be delighted to receive a copy of this transcript. Hell, it probably won't be long before the spooks come looking for Hesse in person.

Steve must be thinking along the same lines, because he asks Hesse about the Agency's botched attempt to capture Wo Fat in Macau.

"Oh, we were real proud of that one," Hesse says. "That CIA analyst, Jenna Kaye, was just like you: a little doggy with a bone. It took some doing to lay a convincing trail of breadcrumbs for her, but it worked. Having her fiancé among the victims made it even sweeter."

"Wo Fat has a habit of killing people and creating more enemies for himself," Danny observes, his stomach twisting at Hesse's gloating. "Highly skilled and highly motivated enemies, even. It's gonna bite him in the ass, one day soon."

Hesse shakes his head. "I wouldn't count on Agent Kaye as an ally, if I were you. Wo Fat was planning on telling her that her man survived the massacre, and would be sent home to her alive if she followed orders. He thought she could serve as a Trojan horse...a way to get at Steve sideways."

"Why are you warning me?" Steve asks, spreading his hands.

"Don't get me wrong, Steve," Hesse says. "I do want you dead, but I want Wo Fat destroyed more. I think that's why I'm still alive: he couldn't have imagined that I'd turn to you, instead of killing myself or just waiting helplessly for the ax to fall. But the enemy of my enemy is my friend, you know?"

"Oh, I know," Steve says grimly. For a long moment, he and Hesse just look at each other.

This time, it's Danny who intervenes. "Okay, let's move on. Tell us about that arms dealer, Luther Magallanes."

Steve shoots him a quick glance, which Danny reads as grateful.

Hesse confesses to torturing and murdering the longtime rival of Wo Fat's, who'd recently undercut his lucrative contract with the Taliban. Without any visible sign of remorse, he also admits to killing the doctor who saved his life.

Finally, after over two hours of non-stop talking, they get to the elephant in the room: the deaths of Steve's parents.

Steve has been leaning forward, but now he sits ramrod straight. "Before he died, my father Jack McGarrett was conducting a secret investigation into Japanese organized crime. Is there a connection between Hawaii's yakuza branch and Wo Fat?"

"Only in the sense that they're another outpost of his global empire," Hesse says. "Hiro Noshimuri is the oyabun here, the big boss, but he doesn't jump without asking Wo Fat how high."

Danny frowns. There'd been a front page picture, yesterday, of Governor Jameson posing with a prominent businessman named Hiro Noshimuri. He'd donated a truckload of toys to a local charity, and the Governor had been helping him distribute them at a big Christmas party for underprivileged kids.

Maybe it's a common name, here. But then Danny glances over at the DA, and sees that she's biting her lower lip. He makes a mental note to follow up on this Noshimuri guy.

"So if Dad's digging was getting inconvenient," Steve says, "why didn't Hiro kill him?"

"He pretends to be an upstanding member of society, so he tries to keep his hands clean," Hesse tells him. "His brother Koji planted the car bomb that killed your mother, though. Did you know that, Steve? And did you know he was a cop who worked with your father?"

Steve's eyes have widened, but he says nothing. Hesse looks pleased to have scored a direct hit, and Danny's fingers twitch with the urge to slap the smirk off the sadistic bastard's face.

Instead, he asks, "Had Mrs. McGarrett done something to annoy the yakuza, personally, or was it to send a message to her husband?"

Hesse shrugs, wincing a little as the movement jars his shoulder wound. "You know, I'm not quite sure whether they meant to kill her, or if the bomb was intended for him. Either way, it seemed to achieve the goal: Jack McGarrett shut down his anti-yakuza taskforce, and spent the rest of his career doing ordinary detective work."

"That still doesn't answer the question," Steve persists. "Why go after my father again, 18 years later? And why did Wo Fat bring you over here on a slow boat from China, when he could have hired a local or flown a pro killer in from the mainland?"

"I think Wo Fat is starting to doubt Hiro's loyalty; he gave me the job because he trusted me. And because I volunteered to do it, to get you off my back," Hesse says with a slow, cruel smile. Danny desperately wants to throttle him, and he's impressed that Steve hasn't.

Hesse explains how Wo Fat set up Anton's capture in Korea, and it's pretty much what Danny and Steve had worked out for themselves. The emotional angle is new, though.

"Wo Fat wanted to use my brother as bait for you, but also to keep me in line," he tells Steve. "If I didn't play my part well enough, Wo Fat threatened to have one of his goons shoot Anton."

Danny nods. "So what did he want you to ask Jack McGarrett about?"

"Shelburne," Hesse says.

Steve frowns, and Danny doesn't think he's faking his confusion. "What is that: a person, a place, a program codename?"

"Animal, vegetable, mineral?" Hesse mocks. "I have no idea. All I know is that Shelburne had something to do with the death of his father, and that Wo Fat wanted answers."

"So he had you interrogate Jack McGarrett about it?" Danny asks.

"Yeah. But Jack was a tough old man, and he refused to talk even when I got...creative. I imagined he was you, Steve, which made it that much more fun."

The sick, twisted son of a bitch goes on to describe how he tortured Jack, in graphic detail. Under the table, Danny moves his knee so it's touching Steve's – this must be terrible for him to hear. But Steve remains stony-faced.

"Did Dad seem to know the word 'Shelburne'?" he asks, once Hesse has wound down.

"Oh, for sure. His poker face wasn't as good as yours. And he recognized Wo Fat's name, too."

"So...on the phone, when Dad told me not to give you anything? It was because he already knew you'd kill him, no matter what I did."

"He knew his number was up, yeah. But I figured it was worth a try: get you to free Anton, ruin your career in the process, and make Wo Fat happy. Three birds with one bullet, you might say."

"But you failed on pretty much all counts," Steve points out, eyes glittering as he leans across the table. "I put two bullets in your brother, I got a great new job, and now your boss wants you dead."

If looks could kill, Danny thinks, Steve would be lying lifeless on the floor. But Hesse just says, "I still made you bleed, where it really counts."

When Steve doesn't reply, Danny asks, "You got anything else for us, Hesse?"

Slowly, Hesse shakes his head. "I think I've said more than enough."

"Wait," Steve suddenly says. "Last night, you told Wo Fat that I knew too much about Dad's investigation; that I was too close to the truth. What did you mean?"

Another of those mocking smiles spreads across Hesse's face. "Ah, I wondered if you'd pick up on that. Wo Fat ordered me to do one last thing, before leaving Hawaii – find out how far Jack McGarrett had gone with his digging into the yakuza, and if Hiro Noshimuri's cover was blown. So I broke into your house."

This time, Steve can't hide his shock. "When? How'd you get past the alarm?"

"Five days ago, just after I killed Magallanes. And I paid this stoner bloke, a real technical genius, to hack the security company's server. So it would've looked like you entered the code yourself."

"I haven't noticed anything moved or missing."

"I got my start robbing houses at age 11, Steve; I know what I'm doing. But you obviously don't know shit about covering your tracks. A battered, grimy toolbox sitting under a nice antique desk?" Hesse makes a tsking sound, like someone reprimanding a small child. "Very suspect, that."

Danny watches with interest as Steve swallows hard – Hesse must be talking about the cache of evidence Jack left him.

"Did you take anything out of the box?" Steve asks.

"No, but I took photos. They're on the smartphone I was carrying when you arrested me yesterday."

"So you already emailed them to Wo Fat," Danny says, but Hesse shakes his head.

"He's paranoid about electronic communication; it's one reason he's survived this long. I was supposed to sail out of Honolulu later that day, and rendezvous with him in Manila. Right now, all Wo Fat knows for sure about Jack's investigation is what you saw me tell him last night."

Steve nods, and then motions to the DA to step outside with him.

Once he and Danny are alone, Hesse lounges back as far as his chains will allow. "You should really work on your poker face, too, you know. Your schoolgirl crush on Steve is probably visible from space."

Danny forces himself not to react, but inwardly he curses. Jesus, how obvious must he be if a total psychopath like Hesse can see it?

Luckily, Steve and Ahn soon return. "As agreed," she says formally, "your sentence will be cut to 30 years' imprisonment in exchange for the information you have provided, with a further one-third reduction if you testify at Wo Fat's trial."

The DA slides the plea document across the table, and Hesse reads through it carefully before signing. Danny is sitting close enough to Steve that he can feel a little tension ease from his body, now the deal has been done. It's a start, at least.

At Steve's signal, Danny switches off the camera and starts packing the equipment up.

"Arrangements will be made to fly you to Phoenix later today," Ahn tells Hesse. "You'll be accompanied by a security contingent, to protect you and to prevent your escape."

Hesse ignores her, and looks at Steve. "Happy hunting. I hope you and Wo Fat end up killing each other."

"You'll have plenty of time to stare at the walls of your cell and fantasize about that," Steve tells him, and walks out without another word.

Outside the prison gates, the DA glances around and then beckons Steve and Danny closer. "Listen," she says. "If Hiro Noshimuri really is the head of the yakuza here, we've got serious problems. He's a huge investor in Hawaii's economy, and he's a significant campaign contributor to Governor Jameson. A close personal friend of hers, too, from what I've seen."

"She might not know anything about his shadier dealings," Steve points out. "He's obviously good at hiding in plain sight."

"Or she might know everything," Ahn says. "I suggest you be very, very careful what you tell her, about Hesse's confession and about where he's being sent. I know the Governor's your direct boss, but if she's been colluding with the yakuza then there's a chance she's in Wo Fat's pocket too."

Steve's whole posture seems to sag. God almighty, Danny thinks, as if the poor guy didn't already have enough shit to worry about.

Danny looks at his watch and says to Steve, "Hey, I need to get home – Rachel's dropping Grace off in an hour. I know you have to go get Hesse's paperwork signed off, so do you want me to call a cab?"

"Your place is on the way to Judge Fischer's, actually," Steve says. "I'll drive you."

After they've traveled a few miles in silence, Danny asks, "Do you want to talk? Your parents, Wo Fat, maybe the Governor...it's a lot to take in."

Steve shakes his head. "I can't – not yet, anyway. Would you mind doing the talking for a while? Chin says you were pretty good at distracting him, yesterday, and I could use some distraction right now."

"Sure," Danny says, and tells him about Grace and her starring role as a shepherd in the class Nativity play. "It was a step up the showbiz ladder, for sure, because last year she played one of the sheep."

That gets a laugh out of Steve; Danny smiles, and keeps going.

Outside Danny's apartment, Steve cuts the engine and looks over at him. "Thanks again for helping Chin, and for all this stuff with Hesse and Wo Fat too. You really went above and beyond, these past two days."

Danny shakes his head, feeling too tired to pretend anymore. He wants to tell the truth: that there isn't much he wouldn't do if Steve asked, and that he's just as attracted to him as ever.

But Danny really can't lay all that on Steve again, especially not when he seems to be fraying at the edges already. So he just says, "No problem. Get some rest, okay? You look awful."

"Gee, thanks. Anyway, have a good time with Grace today."

As he's unbuckling his seatbelt, Danny pauses. "Hey, listen: I'm glad you know that Jack didn't die because of you. Now maybe you can grieve without all that guilt weighing you down."

Steve tilts his head and looks at him intently, as if through new eyes. "Yeah," he says slowly, "I guess I can."

As soon as Danny's out of the truck, he speeds away.

Danny is very glad he tidied his apartment yesterday, because today he only has enough energy to make himself some coffee and collapse onto the sofa.

Luckily, Grace is in a similarly lethargic state when she arrives, thanks to a formal English-style Christmas lunch. Danny experienced that just the once, years ago, when Rachel's mother visited for the holidays. And at least that was in Jersey, where snow was thick on the ground and all that hot, rich food seemed appropriate.

The two of them unwrap their presents from Danny's parents and siblings, first of all, before he calls Newark. Lisa's already taken little Sophia home to bed, but everyone else is still at the house. Grace gets to talk with her cousins Frankie and Tyler, and Matt tells her jokes until she's groaning from too much laughter.

Then Danny and Grace exchange their own gifts. She likes her new Yankees shirt, and immediately puts it on over the pretty dress she's wearing. But her face lights up when he hands her the certificate for surfing lessons.

"Kono's really going to teach me? You're really gonna surf?"

"Only the best for my girl," Danny says. "And yep, I'm coming along too, so you'll have somebody to feel superior to while you're learning. I bet I'll wipe out way worse than you will, out there."

"You could have told me over the phone that you already decided, instead of making me wait," Grace points out, and he smiles at her.

"But then I'd have missed seeing your face, monkey – and anyway, it's not healthy to get everything you want, all at once. You'd probably have exploded from excitement, just like you're about to explode from all the nice food you ate at lunch."

Grace pulls a face, rubbing her tummy, but perks up as she hands over her gifts. There's a pink picture frame that she decorated in art class, filled with a photo Pop took of Danny and Grace together last Fourth of July. Danny promises to give it pride of place on his desk at the precinct.

He grins when he opens the other parcel. It's a pair of board shorts, reassuringly plain compared to the garish ones he's seen at the beach. They're exactly his size, and blue to match his eyes. Danny senses Rachel's hand at work, and sends her a text to thank her for the unexpected kindness.

Afterwards, they stretch out on Danny's sofa-bed and watch the same movie as always: The Muppet Christmas Carol. It came out when Danny was a teenager, and Ma bribed him to take his younger sisters. He secretly loved it, though, and eventually bought it on DVD when Grace was little. Rachel had thought the adaptation an insult to a great work of British literature, but Gracie shared his appreciation and it's become a daddy-daughter tradition.

And then, once Grace has regained her appetite, they make like Danny's Jewish friends back home and head to Chinatown for Christmas dinner. It's a fun, relaxing end to a weird and stressful day.

Or it would have been, except that Steve calls Danny again around 10pm. "Hey, can you come over?"

"Something go wrong with Hesse's transfer to Arizona?"

"Not that I know of," Steve says. "I just really need to see you."

Danny hesitates, thinking about saying no. He's already dropped Grace back at Rachel's; now he could really do with some peace and quiet, and a decent night's sleep.

And maybe Danny should put some distance between the two of them, because this level of intense contact isn't helping him get over his futile crush. But a month of barely seeing or speaking to Steve before that hadn't helped much, either.

"Please, Danny?" Steve adds, when he doesn't answer. His voice sounds tight and strained, and Danny simply can't deny him.

"I'll be there in 20 minutes."

There's no wreath on the front door at Steve's place, and no Christmas lights either. Steve opens the door, his face flushed and his feet bare. Jesus, he looks wired, like he still hasn't slept and is just running on caffeine and adrenaline. He steps aside, wordlessly, to let Danny in.

"Hey," Danny says, "what's going –"

But that's as far as he gets, because Steve kicks the front door closed, shoves Danny up against it, and kisses him.

Steve is plastered against his body, hands cupping his face and tongue in his mouth. For a moment, Danny is too shocked to react.

And then, like a switch has been flipped, Danny goes from recipient to participant. He clamps his hands to Steve's hips to pull him even closer, kissing him back with every ounce of pent-up desire. It's good, it's wild, it's exhilarating...it's what Danny has wanted all along.

Steve groans into Danny's mouth and then breaks away to bite at his neck. With the sting of teeth against his skin, Danny wakes up from his daze and realizes two things: Steve's movements aren't quite as coordinated as usual, and Danny could fail a breath alcohol test just from sharing the same air.

"Wait," Danny says, pushing at Steve's chest until he takes a step back. "Just how drunk are you right now?"

"Not very," Steve insists, but he's swaying a little on his feet.

"You smell like you bathed in Scotch."

"You never heard of Dutch courage?"

Keeping his hands pressed flat against the door, to hold himself back, Danny says, "If you have to get this liquored up just to kiss me, something ain't right. And hey: what about Cath?"

Steve shrugs. "We're real casual, like you and Julia. So what's the problem – isn't this what you wanted?"

"I do want you," Danny says, "but I want more than just a drunken one-night stand. If we do this now, you might start hating me as soon as the hangover kicks in."

"I won't," Steve protests.

"Can you at least tell me what changed your mind, then?"

"It's hard to explain. But it's not just the booze, Danny." Steve drops his gaze and says, "I want this, I swear."

He seems so dejected that Danny almost relents. The lizard part of his brain is clamoring for him to take what's on offer, in case the chance disappears. And his body aches to feel Steve against him again, reckless and desperate and so, so hot.

But Steve is exhausted, emotionally overloaded, and drunk. Danny is tired, confused, and – if he's totally honest with himself – in love with Steve.

This is a toxic combination, and a very bad idea. So Danny shakes his head. "Tell me that again in the morning, and I'll believe you."

"You're seriously saying no?" Steve looks bewildered, and Danny guesses he hasn't struck out too often.

"No, I'm saying 'not yet'. If you still want me tomorrow, when you're stone cold sober, then I'm all yours. In the meantime, have you got a spare bed I can borrow?"

Steve sighs, his shoulders slumping. "Yeah, okay. You can sleep in my old room."

He wanders around, checking the locks, while Danny pours himself a big glass of water and presses another into Steve's hands. Steve then leads the way upstairs, and shows Danny to the room next to his.

Nothing's left of the boy who used to live there, no posters or books or trophies, and Danny wonders if that was Jack's doing or if Steve cleaned it all out himself. He also wonders whether this was Jack's or Winston's childhood room, before that.

Danny hesitates, but can't help himself – he reaches out to hug Steve, who clings to him like he's a life preserver in a storm. Danny kisses him on the cheek, soft and sweet. "Happy Christmas, babe," he says.

"Happy Christmas," Steve echoes quietly, almost like he'd forgotten what day it was. Danny lets go, and shuts the door behind him.

In that narrow bed, with its musty but clean sheets, Danny had expected to toss and turn all night. Thankfully, he was wiped enough to drop off pretty much immediately and sleep straight through.

The next morning, he wakes to the sound of footsteps on a wooden staircase and a door closing downstairs. It takes him a moment to figure out where he is, but then memory comes flooding in along with the sunshine through the open curtains.

In the harsh light of day, Danny can't quite believe he turned Steve down. What if Steve's changed his mind overnight? Would it really have been so bad, having Steve one time and then never again? Hell, maybe it would've scratched this itch once and for all, allowing Danny to move on and fall for someone who isn't related to him.

But the thing is, Steve may have been too drunk to make a good decision. Danny's parents had drummed into him the need to be respectful of girls; of boys as well, once he came out. And even if they hadn't, Danny's worked far too many sexual assault cases to ever take someone's consent for granted.

Steve's reasons for saying no, back in November, were strong and pretty fundamental. Danny has to be damn sure Steve had good cause for saying yes, all of a sudden, beyond being worn-out and fucked-up.

There's no point second-guessing his own decision now, so Danny rolls out of bed and goes over to the window. He's not surprised to see Steve down on his private beach, doing warm-up stretches in close-fitting swim trunks. Danny can't help staring intently, aware that he might have talked himself out of the chance for any more than this.

Steve wades into the shallows and dives under, heading straight out to the horizon. He's a thing of beauty in the water, so powerful and yet graceful too. Danny watches until he's just a dark dot against the wide expanse of blue.

When Danny heads for the bathroom, he finds a neatly-folded towel and a set of clean clothes on a chair outside. He hesitates for a moment: did Steve leave these here for Danny, or are they meant for after his own swim?

But Danny's alternatives are to wear yesterday's clothes, or to wander around in a borrowed bathrobe. So he picks up the pile and goes to take a shower. The water pressure's fantastic, for such an old house. Danny stands for long minutes with his head bowed, letting the pounding heat drain some of the tension from his neck and shoulders.

He dresses in black boxer-briefs that barely fit across his ass – Danny has more junk in the trunk than Steve does – an old SEALs T-shirt, and a pair of gray sweatpants. He has to adjust the leg length to avoid falling flat on his face, but they're soft and comfortable.

Danny goes downstairs, yawning as he makes a beeline for the coffee machine. Luckily it's not too complicated, and soon enough he's sitting on Steve's sofa with a cup of joe and the Sunday paper. The front page is dominated by coverage of Chin's bomb ordeal on Friday, which seems like forever ago, now.

It's maybe a quarter hour before Danny hears the outdoor shower running, and another few minutes before Steve comes inside wearing only a towel.

Judging by the way he freezes when he sees Danny, Steve wasn't expecting him to be awake so early. "Hey," he says, after a long moment.

His roughly-dried hair is shedding droplets of water onto his shoulders and chest. The towel is slung low enough for Danny to see the sharply-defined cut of Steve's hips, and the treasure trail of dark hair leading down from his navel.

Christ, Steve looks like a porn star right now. Inside his borrowed underwear, Danny's cock begins to harden.

Making a conscious effort to focus on Steve's face, Danny says, "There's coffee for you in the pot."

Steve nods, and pads over to the kitchen to pour himself a cup. He leans against the doorframe, facing Danny from across the living room.

"So how are you feeling this morning?" Danny asks.

"A little hung-over," Steve admits, "but going for a swim helped clear my head."

Danny takes a deep breath, and decides to cut to the chase. "And how are you feeling about me, this morning?"

"Same as last night," Steve says, without hesitation. "I'm sorry for how I sprung it on you, Danny, but I meant everything I said."

Relief floods Danny's system, tinged with anticipation. "Good," he says. "I did, too."

Steve puts down his coffee cup, and takes a step closer. "Looks like I was right," he says, staring at the stretch of his faded shirt across Danny's shoulders and the rolled-up cuffs of his pants. "My clothes don't fit you so well."

"So come take them off me, then." When Steve doesn't move, Danny adds, "Or we could just hang out, maybe talk some more."

Steve shakes his head. "I am so damn sick of talking."

He walks towards Danny, expression determined, hungry. He sheds his towel, and Danny's breath catches at the sight of Steve's gorgeous cock and all that golden skin. He can't quite believe this is actually happening.

Instead of sitting down on the sofa, Steve straddles him and settles his bare ass on Danny's thighs. It makes sense that Steve would want to feel in charge, right now, and Danny has no problem with ceding power to him.

So when Steve tugs at the hem of his T-shirt, Danny obediently raises his arms and lets Steve pull it over his head. Then Danny places both hands on Steve's hips and looks up at him, waiting.

"You're the quarterback," he says quietly. "You get to call the plays, here."

Steve makes a low wordless noise, presses Danny back against the sofa, and leans in to kiss him.

He tastes of coffee and the ocean, now, not booze; this kiss is more controlled and cautious than last night's, but still so intense. Danny tightens his grip on Steve, as much to convince himself this is real as to hold him close.

Danny is pretty much trapped, with Steve's mouth covering his, muscular thighs pinning his legs down, one big strong hand planted on either shoulder...and God, he's loving it.

But submitting to Steve doesn't have to mean being totally passive, so Danny starts to touch him wherever he can reach. He runs his hands down Steve's legs, from the curve of his hips to the tips of his toes. On the way back up, he experiments by using his nails a little, and is gratified to feel Steve shudder against him.

Danny hums into Steve's mouth and cups his ass, squeezing just a little, but doesn't go any further than that. Instead, he slides his fingertips up Steve's back, either side of his spine, and slowly scores his nails down again.

With a moan, Steve moves even closer to Danny, bringing his hardening cock into contact with Danny's skin for the first time. Steve's balls are resting against Danny's own erection, through two layers of cotton, and it's all Danny can do to hold still and not thrust up against him. But he promised to let Steve take the lead, and he intends to keep his word.

Steve breaks their kiss and presses his forehead to Danny's, breathing hard.

"You okay?" Danny asks.

"Yeah, just...it's been a long time. I haven't so much as kissed a guy since I was 17 years old."

And that was 17 years ago, Danny realizes. Fuck, no wonder Steve's on edge right now.

"We can take this as slow as you like – no pressure to do anything you don't want to," he says, rubbing Steve's back soothingly, but Steve huffs out an almost-silent laugh.

"That's not the problem, trust me. I want you too much; I want everything."

"Well, you've got me," Danny tells him. "And there's not much I'm not willing to try."

Steve kisses Danny again, harder and deeper this time, like any uncertainty has been overcome by urgency.

Danny curves his hands around Steve's waist, and explores his chest as best he can in the limited space between them. Steve bites Danny's lip when he tugs on his nipples, which isn't exactly a deterrent to doing it again. He also rubs his hard, leaking cock against Danny's belly, more and more insistent, and Danny just can't wait any longer.

He pulls away from Steve's mouth, and kisses along his jaw. "Let me touch you, Steve," Danny murmurs. "I'll make it so good for you."

"Yeah," Steve breathes. "Give me your hand."

Danny lifts his right hand to Steve's mouth, and can't help shivering as Steve gets it nice and wet. Jesus – if having Steve lick his palm and suck his fingers feels this good, getting a blow job from him will probably blow Danny's mind.

When Steve releases Danny's hand and shifts back a little, making room, Danny doesn't make him wait another second. He takes hold of Steve's cock, and begins to stroke it.

"Oh, God," Steve whispers as he watches Danny's hand move. Danny glances down, too...but as hot as it is to touch Steve, it's even hotter to see Steve's expression. That perfect poker face is long gone; his eyes are wide, blown dark with desire, and he's biting his reddened, swollen lips.

It feels almost too intimate, watching Steve like this, knowing that no man has done this to him in nearly two decades. So Danny turns his head to the side and licks Steve's bicep, tracing over the line between green-blue tattoo and golden tan with his tongue.

"Been thinking about getting my hands on your cock since we met," Danny says, lips moving against salt-tinged skin. He kisses a path up Steve's right arm and down the curve of his ribcage, trying not to obstruct Steve's view of the action.

He uses his left hand to caress Steve's balls, rolling them in his palm. Steve growls, deep in his throat, and Danny feels the reverberations everywhere they're touching.

"I dreamed about you," Danny continues, tightening his grip on Steve's erection and speeding up. "How it'd feel to have your body pressed against me – how you'd look, how you'd taste."

Then he sucks Steve's nipple into his mouth and bites down gently, and that's it. Steve groans Danny's name as he comes, coating his hand and belly. Danny stares, transfixed, his heart pounding like he's the one getting off.

Steve slumps forward against Danny, rapid breaths gusting hot on his neck and trembling arms draped over his shoulders. Danny lays his clean hand on the small of Steve's back, holding him up and holding him close.

"Christ," Steve says eventually. "I haven't come that fast since I was a teenager."

He hasn't been with a guy since then, either, and Danny can't help wondering if that's a coincidence.

But he just says, "Hey, it's a total compliment. You can stun me with your stamina next time," and kisses Steve long and slow.

When Steve pulls back, he looks down at where Danny's cock is straining against the front of his sweatpants. "What do you want, Danny?"

What he wants most, right now, is to fuck Steve: it's pretty likely Danny would be the first, and he's feeling a primal urge to lay claim to Steve's ass. But that'll have to be something they work up to nice and easy, if at all.

So Danny says, "Your hand, or your mouth – whatever you choose."

Steve licks his lips. "I really want to blow you. But I should warn you, I've never actually done this before."

Those words send such a rush of heat through Danny that it's a moment before he can speak. "That only makes it hotter, believe me."

With a quick grin, Steve slides off Danny's lap and kneels in front of him. He grabs his discarded towel from the floor and wipes away his come, then tugs his pants down over Danny's thighs. Danny is about to lift his ass off the sofa again, so that his underwear can be similarly dispatched, but Steve goes still at the sight of what Danny's wearing.

"It was either borrow yours, or go commando," Danny explains, uncertain of Steve's reaction. Then Steve meets Danny's eyes, and it's obvious that he's anything but mad. So Danny tilts his hips up, making Steve's boxer-briefs stretch tight over his erection.

"Jesus, Danny," Steve says faintly. Danny's cock hardens even more under Steve's hot gaze, every pulse and twitch clearly visible through the thin black fabric.

When Steve runs his fingertips along the length of it, Danny can't help bucking up into the delicate touch. Steve carefully unbuttons his fly, easing the head of Danny's cock through the opening. Without any further hesitation, he leans forward and wraps his lips around it.

"Oh, yeah," Danny breathes.

Steve looks up at him, eyes wide, and for a moment Danny is afraid that Steve's going to freak out. Maybe the reality of being a cocksucker is too much of a shock, after all this time.

But then Steve gives a long, low moan, closes his eyes, and takes Danny's cock deeper into his mouth.

"God, babe, that's it," Danny says, fighting desperately to hold his hips still – it'd be seriously uncool to choke him on his first attempt. Danny keeps his hands fisted against the sofa, too, to remind himself that Steve's the one in control here.

But Steve is already sucking him in further, of his own free will. The look of concentration and pleasure on his face is incredible to see; Danny thinks he'll remember that as much as the physical sensations, later.

He's been turned on since he first saw Steve in the doorway, so he's already close when Steve wraps his fist around him. The steady movement of Steve's big, strong hand on the shaft of Danny's cock, combined with the way he's licking around the head and across the slit...it's enough to drive Danny out of his goddamn mind.

"Oh, fuck, please don't stop," Danny groans, toes curling and muscles clenching up. And then he's got just enough breath and brainpower left to gasp, "Watch out," before his orgasm hits.

Steve moves back, but not quite out of range. Danny sees the first streak land on Steve's face, and then his eyes fall shut and white-hot pleasure shakes him to the core.

When his head stops spinning, he opens his eyes to see Steve watching him.

"Christ, Steve...that was so, so good," Danny tells him.

There's still a smear of come on Steve's chin. Danny manages to unclench his fists – Jesus, he left nail marks in his palms again – and reaches out to wipe it off. But then Steve ducks his head, and sucks Danny's come-covered fingertip into his mouth.

Danny's breath hitches. "Okay?"

"Yeah." Steve gives him a grin. "Next time, I'll try swallowing."

"You're gonna be the death of me," Danny says. It's meant to be a joke, but Steve's expression turns serious.

"I really might be, you know. It's probably not safe, being with me."

Danny shakes his head. "I already knew you were a trouble magnet, and I'm still here. This is my choice, okay?"

Looking a little reassured, Steve picks up the towel again, cleans Danny up, and tucks his now-soft cock back into his underwear. Just that touch is enough to send jolts of heat echoing through Danny's body, but there's no way he's getting it up again any time soon.

Feeling too shaky to stay upright, he collapses sideways, patting the cushion invitingly. And Steve joins him on the sofa, hooking one long leg over Danny's hips and pillowing his head on Danny's upper arm.

Though Danny's always been a cuddler, he's a little surprised that Steve's willing to go along with it. Then he considers how much Steve has denied himself, all these years: not only sex with guys, but intimacy too.

So Danny holds Steve close, one hand on the nape of his neck and the other smoothing up and down his spine. Slowly, gradually, Steve relaxes into Danny's embrace.