"What did your mom say when she saw it?" Steve was asking with an indulgent smile when they returned from their lunch run. Danny was walking next to him, his hands filled with the sandwiches and sides they had gotten from the sub shop just down the road, his responsibility to the lunches all that was preventing him from illustrating the story with his usual exuberant hand signals.
"That I should have stopped her," Danny said, laughing.
"Why did she even have scissors?" Steve asked, following Danny into the conference room. Steve sat in his customary place at the head of the table as Danny distributed the sandwiches, placing each one along with the appropriate side item in their proper position for when the other two members of the team arrived.
"They were Donald Duck scissors. I didn't think they were sharp enough to cut my hair. And I was only nine. What did I know?" Danny said with a shrug.
"So did your mom yell?"
"Nah. She wasn't a yeller. Not with 5 kids. She was more the live-and-live type. If there was no blood, fever, or broken bones, she took it in stride. Meaning she pretty much ignored it," Danny said, leaving the conference room to give the alert that lunch had arrived. Chin and Kono happily went to join Steve as Danny got the plates and other necessitates from the break room.
Chin and Kono had already started their sandwiches when Danny got back, giving them all the bottled water. They grunted their thanks, not stopping from eating long enough to talk.
"Do you see? This is why we shouldn't wait until 2:30 to have lunch, Steven. Do you see now?" Danny demanded, gesturing to the other two as further proof of the insanity that was one Steven J. McGarrett.
"They weren't complaining. Were you?" he asked Chin and Kono who shook their heads in unison. "You were the only one complaining."
"I wasn't complaining for myself. Weneeded to eat. Even if you can live on air, tree bark, and the occasional granola nugget, the rest of the civilized world of which you are not a part eats lunch at noon. Noon."
"I'll make a note," Steve claimed as he consumed approximately one-third of his sandwich in one go.
"No one is planning to steal your sandwich," Danny scolded before handing him another napkin. "You don't need to inhale it."
"I'm not," Steve said, setting it down to drink from his water. "Did you have any luck with the bank accounts in the Anderson case?" he asked Kono when she put down her own sandwich.
"Not yet. We're still running them through all the databases," Kono said, delicately sipping from her water bottle.
"All right," Steve said with a nod. "Chin, when you're finished, try tracing the cell again."
"I'm on it," Chin agreed.
"Whoa. Wait just a minute. We are at lunch. What most people would call break. We'll be good little soldiers when we finish eating. Right now, it's lunch break, Steven," Danny said with a minimum of hand waving to emphasize his points.
"Sailors," Kono piped up, her grin dimpling her cheeks.
"Right," Chin agreed. "Navy, Danny."
"Don't you start with me. Either of you," Danny threatened. But it was ruined by the twinkle in the blue of his eyes.
"When can I talk about work? Once we finish eating?" Steve asked, all innocent and wounded.
Danny snorted at him and turned his attention to Kono instead. "Is that a new blouse? It's a great color on you."
She smiled in response, looking down at the rich red shirt she had on. "Yeah. I got it last weekend. It was on sale. You like it?"
"Very much," Danny said. "Has Charlie seen it?"
"Why would I care?" Kono asked, not convincing anyone of her nonchalance.
"He'll care, cuz," Chin told her with a wink.
"Maybe there are some test results I need to fetch from the lab this afternoon," she decided, not looking at the men as she said it.
"I think so," Danny agreed. "Did you and Malia decide about the house?"
"Not yet. I still think it's a lot of money. But she loves it. So…." Chin shrugged. It wasn't that he minded that Malia made twice what he did. But the house they had been considering was really expensive. Almost in the price range of the one where Rachel and Stan lived.
"It's an investment," Danny reminded him. "And it is beautiful. Don't you think so?"
"I do," Kono agreed. "It will be a great place for family reunions."
"That may be a good reason notto buy it," Chin joked.
"Could be," Kono laughed. "What do you think, Boss?"
"I don't think we get a vote," Steve said with a shrug.
"That's a cop-out," Kono scolded cheerfully. "He loves it. He just doesn't want to admit it."
"I'll take that under advisement," Chin said.
"You need to make sure you finish the insurance claim on your truck," Danny reminded Steve. "Although the shock that you actually drove it may be too much for them to handle."
"It's on the top of the pile," Steve confirmed. "All I need is the current mileage and the copy of the police report and it will be ready."
"Good. I'll check on the report as soon as I'm back at my desk where I spend way too many hours frankly although that is preferable to being shot at or possibly blown up whenever I venture outside these walls," Danny said in one breath before standing up to gather the empty plates. He was still tidying the conference room as the others wandered out, Chin talking to Steve about the lack of concrete evidence on the Anderson case. When the room was back in order to his satisfaction, Danny returned to his own office to sit behind his desk.
He wasn't sure how long he had been steadily working on the pile of reports when he looked up at Kono's knock. "Hi," he greeted her with a smile.
"What are you doing?" she asked, a tiny frown on her face.
"Finishing up some reports. Why?"
"Aren't those Steve's reports?" Kono asked, tilting her head in order to better see what he was doing.
"Steve's. Mine. You know," he said with a sweep of his hand. "What's up?"
"I …uhm…" She bit her lower lip, looking at him in consideration.
"What? What's wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong," she said, shaking her head. "I found the bank records but I'm not sure what they mean. I was wondering if you could look at them for me."
"Of course," Danny agreed, reaching out his hand to accept them. She rounded his desk to stand by him so they could both study the print-outs. "What did Charlie say about your new blouse?"
"He… he wasn't in the lab," Kono said, a small frown marring her face.
"He left for the day? Some people get to keep 'regular' hours?" Danny said, using air quotes to further demonstrate his point.
"They said he left early. Something about a date," Kono said, trying to make it sound like she was completely uninterested in the topic.
"A date?" Danny repeated like it was an unknown concept to him. "That doesn't make sense."
"People date, Danny. Just because you don't, doesn't mean no one else does," Kono teased. Danny laughed at that, shaking his head.
"I'm not doubting the sanity of the rest of the world. Just wondering why Charlie was going out with anyone who isn't you."
"I told you that he and I are friends," Kono said, trying to convince herself even more than Danny.
"I've seen the way he looks at you, Kono. Friends is not what he wants," Danny told her with a warm and gentle tone, one that he generally reserved for Grace.
Kono could only shrug. "He… well… it's hardly important."
"Do you want me to talk to him? Ask some innocent yet pointed questions? I'm a detective, you know. I'll find out what's up."
Kono rewarded him with a laugh. "No, but thank you. I'll let you know if I need your brand of help."
"We could have Steve dangle him from our roof. That would get him to spill the beans," Danny said, his conspiring face on full display.
"Maybe later," Kono laughed, leaning closer to point out the part of the spreadsheet she couldn't understand, having decided that was quite enough talk about her non-existent personal life.
"Danny, I need you to…." Steve's voice was saying as he entered Danny's office. "Hi Kono."
"Boss," Kono said with a twinkle in her eye. "We're checking bank records."
"Did I ask what you were doing?" Steve asked, his arms crossed, his face set.
"No but you were about to," Kono told him. "You need me to leave?"
"No. I was just going to ask Danny to go with me to interview the Andersons' lawyer," Steve said.
"Sure," Danny agreed, standing up to stretch out his back. "Kono and Chin can go to the bank. We got the warrant for the safe deposit box."
"Why didn't you tell me sooner?" Steve demanded.
"It just arrived. It's in my email box, Kono. Print it out, have HPD notarize it, then you two can go."
"Got it," Kono agreed, sitting behind Danny's desk as the two men left his office. She watched them through the glass as Danny explained something to Steve, his hands emphasizing each point he was making. As they made their way to the main office doors, Steve held out his hand and Danny automatically put the keys for the Camaro in his palm without taking a breath, his voice remaining behind as they let the door swing closed behind them.
The next morning, Danny was a few minutes late for work. Steve had arrived his customary half hour early, telling Kono and Chin that Danny was coming separately.
"Had an errand to run, he said," Steve explained as he poured himself a cup of coffee. Chin and Kono joined him for coffee, all of them smiling when Danny came in with a giant box from Lilha's.
"What's the occasion?" Kono asked as Danny sat the box down with a flourish in front of Chin.
"Happy anniversary," Danny said, opening the box before distributing plates and napkins.
"Anniversary?" Chin repeated, frowning up at Danny.
"It was exactly 2 years ago today that you got your badge back. That calls for a celebration," Danny explained.
"Seriously, Danno?" Steve said, accepting a cocoa puff. "You keep track of that kind of thing?"
"Of course I do, you big oaf. I'm sure the Army doesn't allow celebrations of anything but stunning and decisive victories. But wecelebrate the important dates in our lives."
"Navy," Steve said automatically before stuffing almost the entire pastry into his mouth.
"God you are a Neanderthal. With the manners of a water buffalo," Danny said, using his napkin to remove the traces of chocolate from Steve's chin.
"Water buffalo?" Steve asked, reaching for another cocoa puff.
"Yes. That's what I said," Danny said. "Now move your gigantor body so I can make more coffee." Steve slid down the counter just far enough to allow Danny to reach the coffee maker, brushing against Steve as he did it. But Danny didn't protest how much room he was taking and Steve stayed exactly where he was, size elevens firmly planted.
"Seriously. Thank you, brah," Chin told Danny, clapping him on the back, a broad smile on his face.
"You are very welcome," Danny assured him with a return smile.
"You sure it's not just an excuse for cocoa puffs?" Steve asked Danny who only snorted. He did smile at Kono's giggle, her laugh infectious at any time.
Their spontaneous celebration was broken up by a visit from the Andersons' investment banker. He had been the one who first alerted the authorities to what he was pretty sure were influxes of cash from less than honest enterprises.
"I thought being a banker was kind of like being a doctor," Kono said as they all stood around the tech table, ostensibly so they could see the records of the questionable transactions. In truth, none of them really understood what they were seeing.
"There was a time," Mr. Hayes said, smiling at Kono. Because who could notsmile at her? "But since the banking meltdown, new regulations have been put into place."
"That makes sense," Danny said with a nod, looking back at the records.
"And you have evidence that the Andersons didn't come by this money honestly?" Steve asked, more to make certain than in doubt of Mr. Hayes' statement.
"How else would they be able to deposit over a million dollars in two days, Steven? Seriously," Danny said, pointing at the deposits.
"They could have sold some real estate. Or found a gold mine," Steve countered.
"Who pays cash for property? Cash. Over a million dollars in honest-to-God paper. Maybe in your world that makes sense, but not in the one the rest of us live in."
"I'm not saying it's all from selling their house on Diamond Head, Danno. But there could be a perfectly reasonable explanation," Steve tried.
"Perfectly reasonable," Danny repeated. "Perfectly reasonable."
"Stop repeating yourself. Or me. It's annoying," Steve said.
"How long have they been married?" Mr. Hayes finally asked Kono, a smile on his face as he watched them bicker.
"A really long time," Kono said, laughing at them. "They only argue out of love."
"I sure hope so," Mr. Hayes said, turning back to the table to show Chin how to trace the other transactions electronically.
By Friday night, they had arrested both the Andersons and their lawyer, the tiny crime ring they had tried to set up busted back to dust. It wasn't a huge win by their usual standards, but it was a success. And no one was shot or blown up. No substantial damage to persons or property which cut down on both the bitching and the paperwork Danny would end up doing.
They all readily agreed with Steve's suggestion of a barbeque on his beach to celebrate the lack of destruction. Well, that was what Danny had called it. He figured Steve would have preferred blowing up the Andersons' house to merely locking it down.
Dinner, as usual, was a success, Steve's skill at charring meat over open flame once again drawing raves from the team. Danny had arrived before Chin and Kono, to make the salad and to ensure that Steve contained the fire to the pit and didn't inadvertently catch all of Oahu on fire.
"I know what I'm doing," Steve said as he left the house with a can of lighter fluid.
"Seriously? A Boy Scout SEAL can't light a fire without chemical assistance?" Danny asked as he chopped up the tomatoes. "Please be careful if you even know the meaning of the word."
Steve ignored him and happily created his conflagration on the beach. Once the flames died down to human proportions, he slapped the steaks over them, accepting the beer that Kono and Chin brought as their contribution.
"Delicious as always, Boss," Kono giggled from where she was lounging on one of the beach chairs when the food was all gone.
"Thanks," Steve replied absently, watching the last of the flames.
"I need another beer," Kono announced as she stood somewhat unsteadily, her hands circling her waist. "Boss? Cuz?"
"I think you wantanother one. I'm not sure you need another one," Chin scolded affectionately.
"Don't be a party popper," Kono said. "Anyway, you're driving. What do I care?"
"There is that. I better not have any more," Chin decided. Steve declined as well when Chin asked him directly if he wanted another.
Kono nodded more times than strictly necessary, going up to the house in a meandering path before entering the kitchen. "There you are," she announced joyfully when she saw Danny at the sink elbow-deep in suds.
"Where did you think I was?" Danny asked, watching as she got another beer from the fridge.
"Don't know," she said, shrugging one nearly bare shoulder. "Left?"
"Not likely," Danny laughed, rinsing the plate he had carefully scrubbed.
"Why're you in here? Party's out there." Kono pointed out the window as though Danny may have forgotten which way the beach could be found.
"Just doing the dishes. So Steve doesn't complain about the mess in his kitchen. If it's not up to his precise Army standards, he'll bitch and moan about it."
"Yep. That's him," Kono agreed. "You really are his wife."
"No I'm not," Danny laughed. "He cooked. I clean."
"You do his paperwork. He always drives your car like my dad always does with my mom. You do his dishes. You do his laundry. His wife," she said seriously because she had made this discovery and he wasn't going to persuade her differently.
"I'm not his wife," Danny said slowly, the words ringing hollow in his own ears.
"Yep. You're all our moms. You're mom to all of us. You make sure we eat. You clean up after us. Mom."
Danny was at a loss for words. Which in and of itself rendered him more speechless. Kono's pronouncement hit too close to home. And she was right, damn her. He was the mom. He did do Steve's laundry. Mainly because Steve let him use his washer and dryer instead of going to the laundromat. But did that still mean he should expect Danny to wash, dry, and oh-dear-God, iron his clothes? And Danny did have a tendency to look after the team. It was his nature. Because he was the oldest of the kids in his family. He had bossed them around too, just like… a mom. Oh. He was screwed, totally and completely. And not in a way he enjoyed.
As he was still obsessing over the cosmic truth Kono had revealed to him, Chin came in and dragged Kono out to the car.
"But I don't wanna go home," she was still saying as the front door closed behind them.
Danny finished the last dish, carefully placing it in the rack before drying his hands. When Steve entered the kitchen, Danny intentionally did not turn to face him.
"Thanks for doing the dishes," Steve said, leaning against the counter just a little too close to Danny.
"You cooked," Danny said, putting the towel back exactly where it had been before he used it. "I have to go."
"What?" Steve said, his face morphing into unhappiness. "I thought you were hanging around. To watch the hockey game."
"No. I need to go home. To…." Danny stopped, unable to think up a reasonable explanation for his sudden change of plans. But he did know he couldn't stay. He had some mental sorting and filing to do, to get a handle on the news Kono had accidentally delivered.
"To what?" Steve asked in challenge, studying Danny with unnerving intensity.
"To… you know," Danny said vaguely. "I'll see you Monday." With that, he headed for the front door, hoping the fates were with him and that Steve would let it be.
"Monday? You aren't coming over tomorrow?" Steve asked, ignoring the fates trying their best to intervene on Danny's behalf.
"Why? I thought we had plans."
"Plans?" Danny repeated, not looking up at Steve and not allowing his heart to break a tiny bit more at the lost expression on Steve's face. "I'll do your laundry while you try to get that stupid car to actually run?"
"I thought you were going to do yourlaundry," Steve countered, confused and annoyed equally.
"No," Danny said, his hand on the door knob. "Good night."
"Good night," Steve said softly, watching Danny leave, wondering if the house was always way too quiet and way too big with no Danny to take up the extra space.
Steve was staring through the windows of his office, springing out of his chair at the first indication of Kono's arrival. "Kono," he barked, making her stop and glance over at him, a frown on her face.
"Good morning, Boss," she said, studying him like she wasn't entirely sure who he was.
"I need to speak with you," he said. Ordered.
"Sure," she agreed, detouring from her own office to his. His expression was set in stone, disapproval radiating from him like toxic waste. "What's up?" she asked, trying for 'light and breezy' and missing by approximately one astronomical unit.
"You broke Danny."
"What?" she said, her brow furrowing as she looked up at Steve. He was in a defensive posture, the anger buzzing around his head as visible as cartoon exclamation points. "I did what?"
"You broke Danny," Steve said, biting off the words almost before they left his mouth.
"I'm sorry. I don't really know what you are talking about," Kono said, using her best 'this man has seriously gone around the bend and I don't want him taking me along for the ride' tone.
"Danny," Steve said as distinctly as he could. "He was fine until Friday night. You talked to him and he left. Right after you and Chin. He won't answer his phone. He wasn't in his apartment. I was unsuccessfully in establishing contact the entire weekend."
"Maybe he needed some space?"
"Obviously," Steve snapped. "Why? What did you say to him?"
Kono thought about the barbeque Friday night and the strange text message she had gotten from Danny Saturday morning. "Oh," she said, pulling out her phone. She found the text and showed it to Steve, hoping if he bit her head off, it would be as quick and painless as he could make it.
"What? What the hell?" he asked, looking again at her phone.
you were right. went to find my balls. rachel may have an idea where they are.
"Why was he going to see Rachel? Is Grace okay?" Steve asked, pre-Grace-induced-panic clear in his voice.
"Grace is fine," Kono said with a heavy sigh. "You're right, though. I did break him."
"What did you say?" Steve asked, his tone much gentler now that he had a lead to follow. He knew that Kono would never do anything intentionally to hurt any of them.
"I was… I … uhm… I called him our mom," Kono admitted.
"Our mom?" Steve repeated like that couldn't possibly be the problem. Danny watched out for them. That was as universal a truth as the fact that Danny would kill anyone who hurt Grace. Or anyone on his team for that matter.
"Yeah. He was washing dishes and I said that was because he's our mom. You drive his car. He does your dishes. He does your laundry. He remembers our birthdays and anniversaries. I didn't think it would upset him," Kono said, the last in a small, guilt laden voice. "I'll talk to him."
"No," Steve said, laying a warm hand on her shoulder. "I'll take care of it."
"I'm really sorry, Boss. I didn't mean to… I mean… it doesn't mean that… I'm sorry."
"I know, Kono. Don't worry about it. We'll be back… when I've sorted this out," Steve said, picking the keys up off his desk.
"What are you going to do?"
"Drag him out for pancakes. He won't yell as much in public," Steve said with a knowing half-smile.
"He shouldn't yell at you at all. It's my fault," Kono said.
"No. You said it. But you didn't make it that way. Call if you need us," Steve said giving her an awkward pat on the shoulder before leaving. As ironic as he knew it was, he wished Danny was there because he'd know what to say to make Kono feel better.
Steve leaned against his truck for the 13 minutes it took for Danny to arrive. Steve knew he would be precisely on time because that's how Danny operated.
"Don't bother parking," Steve said as he entered the car with Danny.
"Good morning to you too," Danny said, sounding only a little subdued which lifted Steve's spirits more than he wanted to admit.
"I need pancakes. I'm buying," Steve announced, waving out the windshield as though that would cause the car to leave the parking lot.
"Don't we have a little thing called work?" Danny asked. There was no sting in the words and that hurt more than any of the barbs Danny had ever hurled at him.
"We'll be back before anyone misses us. Kono's up there. We'll have breakfast then we'll come back," Steve explained with a great deal of surprising patience.
"Kono," Danny said.
Rather than discuss it in the car, Danny nodded and drove to their favorite pancake place, the one with whole wheat for Steve and chocolate chip for Danny. Bonus fact was that they had some of the best, hottest coffee on the island.
Steve didn't try to fill the unprecedented and awkward silence between them. They would work it out over hot cakes and coffee. And Danny would realize that a) what Kono had said wasn't true and b) even if it were, it was a good thing.
They were able to sit in their favorite booth watched over by their favorite waitress who brought them coffee without needing to ask. "The usual, boys?" she asked with a saucy wink.
"Yeah, Betty. Thanks," Steve agreed.
"Yes, please," Danny agreed with a nod and a smile that not only failed to reach his eyes, but was never even acquainted with them.
"Kono told me what she said," Steve said, deciding on the 'rip off the band-aid' method. Tap dancing around it wasn't going to do either of them any favors.
"Yeah. I figured," Danny said, sighing and putting down his coffee.
"She wasn't insulting you," Steve tried, wishing Danny would at least meet his eyes instead of staring down at the table.
"I'm sure that's not the way she meant it," Danny hedged. "The worst part is that she's right."
"There's no 'worst part' about that, Danno. You are caring and nurturing by nature," Steve reminded him.
"I'm the one who cleans up everybody's messes. Especially yours. That's all I'm good for, apparently."
"Whoa. Where did that come from?" Steve asked in genuine surprise. "You are a great detective. The best. So what if those skills come packaged with taking care of us? Why is that such a bad thing?"
"No one would ever call you the mom," Danny said in stony anger.
"God. I should hope not for their sake," Steve scoffed before stopping mid-laugh. "Oh God. I just made it worse."
"It's fine for Kono to call me the mom. But you'd kill anyone who said it to you," Danny said. "Of course it's fine with you that she said it about me. I amyour fucking wife."
"No you aren't. I know you get tired of the 'married' jokes. That doesn't mean that I think I'm in charge. Well, I am in charge. But not like that. What do you think our task force would be like if you didn't remember birthdays? And nag us to eat? Would we be ohana?"
"Nag you to eat," Danny repeated slowly.
"I should have let Kono talk to you. I'm just digging the hole deeper with each word."
"You really are a Neanderthal, aren't you?" Danny asked. But there was almost a spark in his eyes when he said it.
"I don't care when you call me names," Steve pointed out.
"Neanderthals killed to survive, Steven. Most moms don't do that."
"Yours would," Steve said.
"Yeah. So would Rachel. But that's not the point."
"What is the point?" Steve asked. He didn't flinch when Danny made an angry face at him. "I'm not kidding. Tell my why you are so angry."
"I'm not angry, exactly," Danny decided. "I'm… I don't know. I feel… like maybe no one takes me seriously?"
"You know that's not true. Kono and Chin both look to you for help, for guidance. Not just with police procedure. God knows I'd be dead a hundred times over if you weren't watching my back. And the fact that you buy Chin cocoa puffs on top of it, well…" Steve shrugged, sipping his coffee.
Danny nodded, staring down at his cup to avoid looking at Steve.
"Did you talk to Rachel?" Steve finally asked.
"No. Yes. I mean, I went over for lunch on Saturday. She could tell something was wrong but she didn't press it. Then Stan and I went golfing." Danny did smile when Steve started chocking on his coffee.
"Yeah, I know. Apparently shooting him has made us best friends," Danny said with a laugh. "Who'd have guessed we'd bond over a gunshot wound."
"That and delivering his baby," Steve added.
"I guess so. He had a golf date and one of his buddies couldn't make it. So he took me to round out one of the two foursomes."
"You don't golf," Steve said.
"I used to. Jersey has public courses regularpeople can afford. I'm not any good at it but I like playing when I have the chance," Danny said.
"So did being around all that testosterone help?" Steve asked, hoping he wasn't making light too soon.
"Lord have mercy," Danny said, shaking his head. "They were really nice guys. But they were like Stan clones. Huge smiles. Inane conversation. They thought I gave out parking tickets."
"No they didn't," Steve said, looking up at Betty when she returned with their pancakes. "Thanks."
She returned his smile before refilling their cups and leaving them alone. She knew from experience that mostly what they wanted was food and to be left to their own company.
"Okay, not parking tickets. One of the guys – Milton if you can believe it – apparently keeps track of all of our arrests. He wanted to know how we found out about the drugs we seized last month." Danny was finally meeting Steve's eyes and shook his head at Steve's change in expression. "He isn't a drug runner, babe. He was awed by your ability to fly the helicopter onto the ship."
"Did you tell him you figured out where it was?" Steve asked, aneurism face derailed by Danny's use of the term babe.They were going to be okay. Steve knew that now.
"He knew I had. It was in the paper. He'd like to come to our offices to meet you, and Kono, and Chin. I said I'd check. He's apparently a friend of Denning so I figured he'd be cleared."
"Sure. Once I run a background check on him," Steve said, making Danny laugh. "So golfing helped?"
"It all helped," Danny said. "It's not that I don't love my mom. You know I do. It's just… well… you're such a…" Danny waved at him as though that explained everything there was to say. And maybe on some level it did.
"I'm sorry," Steve finally said.
"You don't have anything to apologize for," Danny assured him. "Making comparisons only ends up hurting everyone. My mom taught me that," he said with a smile.
"She was right," Steve confirmed. "You do stuff I couldn't ever do. Would never think to do. And you'd never hang a suspect off a roof."
"I guess I was afraid that when Kono called me the mom it was because I'm not…you know … built like a GQ model. I don't have ridiculous tattoos. I can have three days worth of stubble and it barely shows up."
"You think I look like a GQ model?" Steve asked with a sparkle in his ever-changing eyes.
"You own at least one mirror, babe. I've seen it. Your innocent act doesn't play with me," Danny told him as sternly as he could.
Steve gave an adorable shrug, a faint pink painted across his way too prominent cheek bones.
"Between you, Kono, and Chin, I'm not only the mom, I'm the ugly step-sister. Step-mom. Whatever. The three of you shouldn't be allowed in the same room because it raises the temperature at least 20 degrees."
"You don't exactly need to wear a bag over your head there, Danno. I've seen the way women, and men, check you out, head to toe. The ones that get past your very finely sculpted ass come to a screeching halt when they get to your baby-blues."
"You think I have a nice ass?" Danny asked, all serious now. The conversation had taken a turn he did not anticipate. But he was willing to follow it a little further, to see where it led them.
"You also have a mirror," Steve said. "And you can't tell me you don't see how your pants fit. Like they are the gift wrapping just waiting to be opened."
Danny held completely still, nearly unprecedented in his life. He didn't breathe. He barely thought. This. This could be it. "So…." Danny said very carefully.
"So?" Steve prompted, his eyes never leaving Danny's bright blue ones.
"If I suggested, hypothetically, that we call out sick for the rest of the day, what do you think you might say?" Danny asked quietly, afraid of breaking the spell.
"Hypothetically, I'd say we both have more hours of vacation and sick time then we'll ever be able to use in this lifetime. And, hypothetically, if we called out sick, Kono and Chin would cover for us," Steve responded, his voice low and husky.
"So hypothetically we could go to your house and check to see if your mirror is still working."
"Sure. If that's the most important thing you can think of to do," Steve said slowly and carefully.
"Oh no, babe. I can think of a lot more interesting things to do. But I want to be able to come back to see Betty again. If I say any of them out loud, we'll be banned for life."
"That would never do," Steve confirmed, putting a very generous tip on the table before striding with great purpose to the cash register. He knew exactly how much breakfast cost and had it ready for the perky cashier.
"I figured you forgot your wallet," Danny teased as he joined Steve by the register.
"Not this time. Let's go," Steve said. There was a note of almost panic that Danny very much enjoyed hearing.
"Yeah. You can drive. Not because I'm the wife but because you'll get us there much sooner," Danny said, gladly surrendering the keys in this instance.
"You know it," Steve agreed, pulling out to the lot at a strictly illegal speed as Danny called Kono on speaker phone.
"Hey. Steve and I are calling out," he told her.
"Finally– 'bout damn time," Kono said with a laugh.
"Ya think?" Danny responded with a smile.
"Past time. And I really am sorry, Danny," Kono said more seriously.
"Don't be. You didn't say anything you need to apologize for."
"Okay. Thanks. And tell Steve that yes of course we'll call right away if anything comes up. And we'll call back if you don't pick up the first time."
"Thanks," Danny said, smiling at Steve when he had hung up. "Finally."
"Yeah," Steve said, reaching over and taking hold of Danny's hand like he had no intention of ever letting it go. And Danny was just fine with that.