Danny's starting to come down off the adrenaline from that phone call, and he lets out a heavy huff as he sinks down into the chair in Steve's yard. It's not that he's tired so much as just…content, and given the last couple of days he's had, he's enjoying the change.
The governor just left – Danny notices he didn't take his beer with him, and that's just fine – and he takes his seat back, watching the waves roll in and waiting for Steve to get back from showing the governor out.
He kind of wonders how much of that is good manners, and how much of it is Steve making sure he's good and gone.
Whatever the reason, he doesn't have to wait long. Steve comes back out a few seconds later, and he's got what looks like a fresh beer, even though there's still three in the pack by Danny's feet.
Instead of coming to sit down, though, he walks right past the other chair and heads out to the beach, and Danny's really not sure what to do with that. It would be one thing if Steve hadn't been giving him the silent treatment before, but now he's kind of wondering if Steve's starting to come down off a high of his own. It was damn near amazing how quick his mood changed before when he told him that Grace was staying in Hawaii; he lit up like Christmas tree, like he forgot all about his bad mood.
Judging by the hard set of his shoulders against the setting sun – and Jesus, what a picture that is – and the stance he's taken with his feet shoulders-width apart and his arms crossed, Danny thinks he might have remembered. He doesn't even need to see it to know Steve's got his constipated face on.
He sighs. His good mood's starting to slip, which sucks, because he was kind of hoping to ride this high quite a while longer. He was kind of hoping Steve would, too.
Instead, he's standing there doing that 'staring into the ocean' thing that he usually reserves for post-nightmare insomnia and anything of or relating to the emotional clusterfuck that is his family.
The thought that it has something to do with him this time is actually painful.
That settles it, he thinks. He just found out he's getting to keep his daughter, and he'll be damned if he's just gonna sit here and mope.
He pushes himself up from his chair, leaving his beer on the table, and he walks towards the beach. Experience keeps him from walking all the way up to Steve – he still remembers the time he made the mistake of catching him off guard, and had ended up with a mouthful of sand and an unending earful of apologies for his trouble – so he stops about a yard back and crosses his arms.
"You're still mad at me, huh?"
Steve doesn't look at him. "I'm not mad at you." His voice is measured and even. Danny knows that voice, and it sure as hell isn't his happy one.
"Really? Then why do you have your constipated face?"
"You can't even see my face."
"I don't need to," Danny says. He knows him too well. He knows the set of his shoulders, the in and out of his breathing that's just a little too controlled. "I know something's wrong, babe. So would you just tell me what it is, so I can apologize and we can get on with our evening?" He knows he's being crass, but sometimes, he thinks that's the only way to get through to Steve.
But then Steve turns on him, and he thinks that maybe this wasn't one of those times after all, because that look in his eyes…it's…it's intense. Really intense. Danny can see the muscle of his jaw standing out beneath the shadow of the scruff on his cheek, and his nose is flaring, and Danny wonders if maybe he hasn't just made a mistake.
"I'm not mad, Danny," he says almost feverishly. He grabs Danny's shoulders, and Danny's not sure if that's because he's trying to make a point, or if he's trying to ground himself. He's got a sort of manic look in his eyes, and they're boring into Danny's, and damned if Danny doesn't feel his hair stand on end a little. "How can I be?"
Danny's not sure if that's a trick question, but he answers anyway. "I did tell you to let Wo Fat go. I made you choose the congressman over taking out the guy that killed your dad." When he says it out loud, he kind of wonders why Steve isn't screaming at him.
Actually, Steve's looking at him like he's crazy. His brows are furrowed, and he pulls his head back a little bit, like he can't decide if he wants to be affronted or confused. "Made me choose the—?" His eyes set determinedly. "You didn't make me do anything, Danny. And anyway, it wasn't even about the congressman. I didn't choose him."
Danny watches him take a breath, watches a little bit of the tension – not even close to all of it – leave his shoulders. His bright eyes are a little less crazy-looking and a little more…something else that makes his chest swell and his face warm.
"I chose you," he says. "I'll catch Wo Fat; I have to. But not if it means putting you in danger. Not if it means disappointing you."
"I'm not disappointed in you, babe," Danny tells him sharply. That Steve would even think that…Jesus, how would he even go about being disappointed in Steve, after all the amazing things he's done?
"But you would've been. If I'd chased after Wo Fat instead of getting the congressman help, then you would've been disappointed." There's no doubt in his voice, and Danny has to admit that he's probably not wrong.
Danny's not really sure how he feels about that. On the one hand, he feels guilty that Steve gave up a chance to resolve years of conflict for Danny's sake, but on the other…knowing that Steve cares that much, it's enough to make breathing a little hard.
"So, what's this about, then? All the sulking?"
Steve makes a face that's dangerously close to a pout. "I'm not sulking," he retorts. "I'm thinking."
"What are you thinking about, then?"
Steve's brows furrow even deeper, and he drops his gaze for a second.
"Steve?" Danny presses.
Instead of replying, though, Steve lets his hands drop down from Danny's shoulders, and he turns towards the water. He starts towards the beach, one hand running through his hair agitatedly while the other dips into his pocket. He takes a few steps, stops, freezes for a second, and just when Danny's about to say something, he seems to come to a decision, because he turns around and marches right up to Danny.
For a second, Danny's confused.
And then Steve drops down on one knee.
Suddenly, Danny's heart can't seem to decide if it wants to leap into his throat or plummet to the soles of his shoes, so it ends up just ricocheting around his chest. He wants to say something, but he doesn't really trust his voice.
Steve's talking, anyway, so Danny does his best to hone in on it. Frankly, he's amazed he can hear him over the thundering of his pulse in his ears.
"I'm an idiot," Steve's saying. "I take stupid risks all the time, I make everything personal—"
But Steve isn't stopping for anything. "Hell, I've probably killed more people than you've met. I have enough issues to put a shrink's great grandchildren through college, and frankly, I'm amazed every time you let me in the same room as your daughter."
That one's news to Danny. It's never even occurred to him to think Steve would put Grace in danger, and the thought of it now would be laughable if it weren't for the look on Steve's face. He's dead serious. He really means that.
So, it's really more heartbreaking than anything.
"But I want you to know that I'd never hurt her. I'd die first." The scary thing is, Danny knows he would. Without a second thought, he knows it. "And the same goes for you. I never want to hurt you, Danny, and I never want to see you get hurt. I love you. Both of you. And this morning, when you said what you'd do if they took Grace away from you…all of it, it scared the hell out of me, because the thought of losing you…" Steve's jaw tightens, and there's this haunted look in his eyes as he says it that tells Danny everything Steve can't seem to say.
He wants to tell Steve that he didn't mean it, that he's sorry for saying in the first place, but he can't. Partly because he's not sure what he would've done, but mostly because he can't bring himself to break whatever momentum Steve's built up.
When Steve speaks again, his voice is rough, and Danny feels his own throat tighten. "In the courtroom, though, you said…you said that Hawaii is your home, now. And I think—I mean, I want…I want that home to be with me."
Danny's painfully aware that he needs to say something, but he can't seem to do much more than blink and stare. Steve's face is distracting, he decides. His eyes are too blue and watery; his face is too flushed and tense. He doesn't know that he's ever seen Steve looking like this when lives weren't on the line. Maybe not even then.
"Would you stand up?" The words tumble out without Danny's permission, but he goes with them. "Please, would you stand up?"
He knows those aren't the words Steve was wanting or expecting to hear, but he stands up nonetheless. "Not good?" he asks, and it's hard to tell if the wince is more for what's already been said, or what he's waiting to hear. "It's just—I realized today what it would be like to lose you." He seems to realize something, then, because he adds quickly, "That's not the only reason. It's not—it's not some post-traumatic life affirmation thing or anything like that."
Danny doesn't think he's ever going to live that down.
He frowns. "Steve."
Steve's on a roll, though. "I mean, I've had the ring for months. I just never asked because I thought—"
"Steve," he tries again, more forcefully.
Nothing doing. "—you know, after Rachel, you weren't too big on the whole marriage…thing. But I'm not like her, Danny. I know who you are and what you do, and I would never—"
That does the trick. Steve couldn't look more surprised if someone slapped him, and his brows furrow over wide eyes.
Danny takes a deep breath. "Finally."
"Finally?" Steve actually looks a little bit offended, cocking his head just so and—oh, there's constipated face, making a comeback.
"Of course," Danny says, rolling his eyes. "You hear that."
"I heard the other thing," Steve protests. Danny gives him a second, and then, sure enough, he sees it start to sink in. "You said…yes." He sounds tentative, thoughtful. A little bit skeptical.
"Yes. Yes I did."
And there it is. It's like a light bulb clicks on in his skull; his whole face lights up with it. "You said yes!"
Danny thinks that if he grins any wider, he will actually break something. But then Steve arms wrap around him and crushes their lips together, and Danny stops thinking. It's overrated, anyway.
It isn't until they're both starved for air and Danny thinks he might have Steve-arm-shaped imprints on his sides – he's definitely not complaining, by the way – that they part, and Danny can barely manage to string words together in his head.
Somehow, though, his mouth is miles ahead of him.
"You mentioned something about a ring?" he says.
Steve jerks back like he's just stuck his finger in a power outlet, and it's all Danny can do not to laugh, because he can't seem to get his hand in his pants fast enough. And Danny thinks it's only fair, because he has to feel like that all the time. It's about time Steve got a taste of his own medicine.
But then Steve's taking his hand, and Danny barely has a chance to react before he's sliding something over Danny's ring finger.
Somehow, Danny's not at all surprised that it fits. Steve probably did some recon beforehand. It's really hard to be bitter, though, when he sees it: a simple silver band, light against the tan of his skin. Steve's still holding his hand as he looks, and it's hard to tell if it's his hand that's shaking, or Danny's. Maybe both.
Soft laughter bubbles in his throat. "I'm sorry," he says after a second. "I didn't get you anything.
Steve looks at him like he's lost his marbles for a second, before a smile cracks his face in half and he swoops in for another kiss.
Behind them, the sun's going down, reflecting splashes of bright reds and oranges and yellows across the bright blue of the ocean. It's beautiful, Danny knows, if you're into that sort of thing. But right now, he doesn't really give a damn about anything but the guy he's hoping to spend the rest of his life with.
And as the sun dips below the horizon, Danny can't help thinking that maybe Smooth Dog wasn't ironic after all.