Author's Notes: I wasn't planning on writing this, since I'm still trying to work on two ongoing chapter fics, but after watching Mohai this plot bunny fell into my head and this story basically took over the next 72 hours of my life. Hope you like it!
BTW - I hope this hasn't been done already. If so, I apologize – it's definitely a coincidence. I haven't had much time for reading fics lately, and when I'm writing, I try very hard to avoid anything that sounds like something I'd want to write for that very reason.
***Three Times Steve Yawned ***
It wasn't until the third yawn that things got interesting. Well, Steve didn't actually yawn any of the three times, but he thought about it.
The first time he didn't yawn was shortly after sneaking into Danny's disgusting pit of a hotel room. Steve had entered to find Danny, sitting in a near fetal-position near one end of his couch, arms wrapped around himself, socked-adorned feet pushing up against the edge of the coffee table.
Ignored, Steve sat down on the empty side of the couch. Just as he regularly owned the space he walked in, arms held akimbo, Steve marked his territory that afternoon, propping an ankle up on his knee and stretching an arm across the back of the sofa. It just so happened, that in this case, the edge of the space he claimed included an oblivious Danny Williams.
Danny had been so absorbed in watching Enemy Mine that the hand resting just a few inches away from his shoulder had gone completely unnoticed. Steve recognized the vulnerable, lost-puppy look on Danny's face – the one that always emerged when he was concerned or waxing sentimental about Grace or Rachel.
Still can't believe that alien dude gave birth to a baby, Steve thought.
But before they'd even had a chance to break out a beer, they caught a case and left the rest of the movie unwatched.
*** H 5 0 *** H 5 0 *** H 5 0 ***
The second time was the night after Halloween. After two failed attempts to get to the end of Child's Play with Catherine, Danny and Grace had shown up for a "trick-or-treat" re-do. Grace was her usual adorable self, dressed like a sparkling bumblebee.
And, Danny? Well, Danny's costume was exactly what Steve would have expected. Lame. Some generic and nameless faux superhero dressed in black jeans, a black polo, and a shiny red cape. Danny preened uncharacteristically about something other than his hair, throwing the cape over his pleasantly skin-tight black polo. The short sleeves showed off Danny's buff upper arms in a way that his usual striped button-ups never did, and the ludicrously shiny red satin provided a flamboyant contrast to his "professional" work clothes.
Steve knew that Cath had bonded with Grace earlier in the day when she'd picked her up, and that she felt bad that Grace and Danny had to fight so hard for their time together. So when she invited them to stay and handed him the Notebook DVD, he knew her heart was in the right place. At least it was a better choice than Child's Play.
While Steve got up to swap the DVD, Catherine scooted to the far side of the couch, making room for Grace to join her. Grace had then patted the seat next to her, inviting Danny to take a seat. Danny sat down, crossed his feet on the table, and fluffed his cape.
By the time Steve inserted the DVD and turned around, the scene in front of him was preciously domestic…aside from the fact that the three people in the world that he had any domestically-inclined feelings towards had left him barely any room on the couch. Danny inched over to free up a few more millimeters of space, and smiled cheerfully at Steve, patting on the couch beside him.
Seriously? Steve recalled thinking. So much for a quiet evening for two. But seeing his three favorite people, all happily ensconced on his couch and staring at him expectantly, he threw in the towel and joined them. What else am I gonna do?
Steve was used to his space, not to being confined in the small cubby-hole that they'd left him on the end of his couch. He sat at a diagonal, with legs crossed tightly, his foot dangling away from the couch like on an airplane, and his left shoulder just in front of Danny's. When Danny sat up to get the bowl of popcorn off the coffee table, he bumped Steve's shoulder, and then pinned it down with his own when he leaned back.
Without thinking, Steve raised the arm attached to his pinned shoulder, and stretched it out behind Danny, as he'd done countless times with Catherine and dozens of nameless former dates. Steve thought he might at least get a rise out of Danny, and fully expected him to bat his arm away with some unnecessarily verbose protest. What he didn't expect, though, was for Danny to simply say just, "Okay," as he sat back against Steve's shoulder and offered him the popcorn bowl.
Okay? Steve thought. Okay? This is okay? No one else on the couch appeared to have blinked an eye. Maybe he really was the only one giving a second thought to the partner in his arms. As he adjusted to the feel of Danny's head on his arm, he shrugged to himself. Okay.
Grace fell asleep less than 20 minutes after they'd started the previews, her head drifting into Danny's lap, her legs draped over Catherine. By the time Noah climbed onto the Ferris wheel and dropped trou, Danny's "stalker" alarm had started whining in the back of his head. But feeling Grace's steady, quiet breathing and seeing her thankfully shut eyes, Danny followed suit soon afterwards, grateful he wouldn't have to go into a full-blown red-alert as the movie continued.
With Steve a full couch and two bodies away, Cath soon extracted herself from under the pile, turned out the lights, gave Steve a kiss on the forehead, and let herself out, quietly shutting the door behind her.
After Catherine's departure, it had taken gymnastics worthy of a contortionist to retrieve the remote without disturbing Danny or Grace, but somehow Steve managed it. He tried to concentrate on the local news, but couldn't stop thinking about the surreal scene in which he found himself.
It was just as well that Danny and Grace had fallen asleep. The fact that Grace had enthusiastically said she "loved" The Notebook combined with Danny's apparent lack of familiarity with the film's content meant that they had all managed to dodge an uncomfortable bullet that evening.
In the dim light, the flickering images cast colored shadows across Danny's and Grace's faces. As the sole living, conscious being, Steve watched the movie, alone in his thoughts. He'd never before watched a movie from the perspective of either a 10-year-old girl or an over-protective father. But with Danny out cold, as the provocative romantic scenes had played out before him, Steve found himself wanting to throw a hand in front of Grace's eyes and bury her ears in soundproof headphones, even though he knew she was sound asleep.
In his head, Steve could easily imagine Danny going apoplectic, exposing his daughter to some of the racier scenes in the movie. Poor Gracie would likely be grounded for life and threatened with permanent blindfolding. Steve bent his head forwards a bit to look for the tell-tale vein in Danny's neck – the one that invariably throbbed visibly whenever he became irate. Steve smiled, knowing that Danny was resting peacefully, blissfully unaware of his daughter's already-under-the-bridge media consumption.
Someone should tell him, Steve thought. Aw, hell. That someone has gotta be me since that's a favor that even Cath wouldn't do for me. Maybe some time when Danny's in a good mood to start with. Which would be…Never? Yeah, and this would certainly ruin any day. So maybe a bad day would be better? Would that be throwing salt on the wound? Damn.
Steve wasn't sure he would ever find a time when Danny would be calm enough to hear that his 10-year-old daughter had been watching movies featuring pretty intense sexual situations. Steve could remember covert ops that were more enjoyable than the thought of being the one to break the news to Danny.
For the short time before Danny fell asleep, they'd sat, quietly watching the movie, their wrists and fingertips brushing against each other as they reached for the popcorn at the same time. With the difference in their heights, Danny had fit comfortably under his arm, his head resting on Steve's shoulder. Steve tried, and he couldn't really remember a time when Danny had been quiet for so long.
The fact that his girlfriend-who's-not-a-girlfriend, and Danny's beloved little girl sat only a few feet away from the cozy duo made things just that much more bizarre.
Everything about this felt at once different and familiar. He was accustomed to Danny inviting himself in and falling asleep to the noise of the TV, catching a whiff of his soap from the far side of the car, and feeling a warm body leaning against his side.
But what his senses weren't prepared for were the additional signals he was receiving – everything was intensified by Danny's closeness – his just cleaned-up-after-work scent, his occasional quiet sleep-mumbles sounding like whispers so near his ear, his muscled physique pressing where he was accustomed to feeling Catherine's softer curves.
Steve remained as still as he could to avoid waking his sleeping companions, his arm remaining possessively curled around Danny's back.
When his fingertips brushed against Danny's shoulders, he was struck by the unfamiliar feel of satin on Danny's sturdy arms – a stark contrast from Cath's long slender arms, whether bedecked in camos or her preferred sleeveless civvies.
As midnight gave way to the wee hours, jumbled thoughts continued to play in his head. I still don't believe I'm sitting here, and he's sitting here. Here. Thisclose. I must be living in some weird Bizarro world and I'm going to wake up to find Danny slugging me in the arm, or myself sitting across the room.
Feeling the numbness that was setting into his shoulder, though, he thought, This feels pretty real. Maybe I should wake him to make sure he's aware he's asleep on my shoulder? Would he mind? Should we talk about this? What if we woke up Grace by mistake? We couldn't really talk about anything then. It's been a long day. He's probably just tired, so then there'd really be nothing to talk about anyways…
Steve eventually gave up looking for answers and just enjoyed the moment. His relationship with Danny defied description, so there was not much point in trying to put words around this unforeseen twist. But the numbness in his shoulder soon threatened to become tingling in his arms, so he took one last look at Danny and Grace before carefully removing his arm and gently pushing Danny up off his shoulder. He gently set Danny down on the seat and made his way up from the couch.
Danny's body left a warm impression on the side of his body and he felt oddly light when he finally stood up. Danny remained peacefully asleep on the couch, his face showing just the hint of a smile, his free arm draped protectively over Grace's shoulder. Steve found Danny's favorite gray striped flannel blanket and tucked it around the two of them, then sat on the ground beside them, watching them contentedly sleeping before he finally turned off the TV and quietly climbed the steps to bed.
*** H 5 0 *** H 5 0 *** H 5 0 ***
A few days after Halloween, Danny had congratulated their stoner-perp for his unbelievably lame cover story with a sarcastic, "Most triumphant, dude." Their suspect turned to look at Danny, surprised at the non sequitur that interrupted the "good cop/bad cop" routine they'd been playing.
When Steve had responded with a distinctly blank look, Danny had replied, "You don't get it, do you?"
"Get what?" Steve asked.
Danny mimed a bird flying over his head, letting Steve know he was being completely clueless. "You are so uncivilized."
"What have I done this time?"
"Let me tell you something, babe," said Danny. "You are grossly lacking in certain aspects of cultural education."
Steve folded his arms and asked, "Is that right?"
"Yes, it is," Danny replied. The bewildered suspect had turned to look at Steve then back at Danny, and continued ping-ponging between the two as they continued to bicker.
"Well then, edify me."
"Yes, edify me," Steve repeated.
"You've never even seen Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, have you?" Danny accused.
"You got me, detective."
"It's a classic!"
"Nothing starring Keanu Reeves is a classic," Steve said.
"Speed, Point Break, River's Edge, the Matrix Trilogy," Danny enumerated. "All classics."
"All right, the Matrix, I'll grant you."
"Don't they let you SEALs watch movies? Or is that classified?"
"It's not classified, Danny. I just never got around to watching it."
"So what have you seen? The Notebook, apparently."
"Unfortunately," Steve replied, rolling his eyes.
"Every Halloween," Steve confirmed.
A voice from the other side of the interrogation room interrupted their discussion. "Hey, Ebert! If you're gonna go through Siskel's entire movie viewing history, can I at least get a popcorn and some Raisinettes while I'm waiting?" Their suspect had been watching the two bicker, his head shifting from one to the other, as if watching a tennis match.
"You, shut up," Danny ordered. He turned to Steve and said, "Can you believe him?"
"No, not really," Steve replied before they re-directed their attention back to their questioning, without skipping a beat.
Eventually, they managed to successfully extract the name of the source they needed, tossed the suspect back in a holding cell, and returned to their offices. Shortly thereafter, Danny poked his nose into Steve's office and announced that he would be coming to Steve's house that evening, and he would bring his Bill and Ted DVD. Steve's reply questioning the make-up of Danny's DVD collection prompted another debate which was still raging when Kono and Chin waved goodbye, and departed for dinner without them.
*** H 5 0 *** H 5 0 *** H 5 0 ***
Doris had yet to return from Maui, Grace was home with Stan and Rachel, and Catherine was away on assignment for the week, so Steve had the house to himself. He picked up some prime ground Angus on the way home and was in the kitchen making burgers when Danny let himself in.
"Smells good," Danny smiled, impressed.
"You know it," Steve boasted, flipping them over and smiling at the resulting sizzle. John McGarrett didn't have a lot of variety in his culinary repertoire, but he did make great burgers. It had taken Steve the better part of a year, but after a steady series of attempts, he'd had finally made a decent replica.
"Beer?" Danny asked, holding out an opened bottle.
"Sure, thanks," Steve replied. Danny handed him a Longboard and then opened one for himself.
While Danny swiped French fries from the baking tray that sat on the counter, Steve put the finishing touches on the burgers, melting on slabs of thick-sliced extra-sharp cheddar cheese before moving the best beef patties on the Island onto sesame-seeded Kaiser buns, and topping them with ketchup, whole-grain mustard, heirloom tomato slices, and pickles.
"No onions?" Danny had asked.
"They were out at the store," Steve fibbed.
Grabbing their burgers and beers, they made their way onto the lanai where they settled back into wicker chairs and dove into dinner.
"I will never get sick of these," Danny said admiringly, his words muffled by an over-sized mouthful. "Remind me, when did we have lunch?"
"Ah, that explains the rumbling noise I've been listening to for the last hour. I was thinking that we might be at risk for more seismic activity," Danny replied.
They ate voraciously, with sauces, melted cheese, and burger drippings falling generously on their plates. Between bites, they chatted easily about the day's events, Kono's latest kick-ass take-down and how well she was picking up the ropes, and how Chin was managing without Malia.
After the last fry had mopped up the last drop of ketchup, they made their way back into the kitchen. The sun had started to set, turning into variegated shades of pink and purple. Steve finished cleaning up, while Danny wandered into the living room, casually nosing through the pile of Steve's unopened mail along the way. He inserted the DVD, dimmed the lights, and made himself comfortable on Steve's couch.
"Popcorn?" Steve yelled from the kitchen.
"Sure!" Danny yelled back with enthusiasm. He leaned back, kicked off his loafers, put his feet up on the coffee table, and turned on the TV. "Hey will ya' grab a couple of beers while you're at it?"
"Already got 'em!" came the reply.
After the first four previews, Danny hollered, "Hey, what're you doing back there? Planting the corn? It's about to start!"
Steve entered the living room with a beer in each hand, and a large popcorn bowl balanced between his forearms. He held his arms out and Danny obligingly removed the bowl, allowing Steve enough freedom of movement to place the beers on the coffee table.
"Real popcorn, real butter, real salt," Steve said. "Not that done-in-30-seconds microwave crap you like."
"It takes three minutes," Danny corrected. "But who's counting?" He reached in and scooped up a big handful, feeding himself a few kernels at a time with his free hand.
Steve grabbed a large fistful as well and plopped himself on the couch. He crammed the whole handful into his mouth at once as he nonchalantly stretched his free arm behind Danny's shoulder.
Danny looked at Steve's hand, which rested barely an inch away from the shoulder on the far side of the coach. "Whoa, whoa, whoa! What the hell are you doing?"
"Sitting down," Steve replied. "On my couch. In my living room. In my house."
Noticing that neither the hand nor the arm had moved, Danny scowled and high-tailed it to the far side of the couch. "What's the matter with you?"
"Nothing's the matter with me," Steve replied. "What's the matter with you? You're acting like I got cooties."
"You are in my space," Danny spluttered. "Your arm is seriously in my space!"
"You didn't have a problem with it the other night," Steve said. "And it was a lot closer, then."
"That was different."
"The couch was crowded," Danny rationalized. "There wasn't any place else for you to sit. Besides, there was no chance that…" Danny stopped himself, not sure how to complete his sentence.
"No chance that what?" Steve couldn't resist contributing to Danny's agitation.
"No chance that you would do anything…ridiculous."
"Why? 'Cause Grace and Cath were there to chaperone us?" Steve teased. "What? Are you worried you won't be able to resist the McGarrett charm?"
"McGarrett charm, my ass," Danny retorted. "I'm at greater risk of succumbing to my allergy to lead and gunpowder thanks to the McGarrett reckless-disregard-for-the-value-of-life, than I am to the McGarrett charm."
"Well, I thought it was nice."
Danny's eyebrows flew up in surprise at the admission.
"Aw, come on; admit it. You thought so, too."
Danny pulled himself up to his full height. As the hand-waving began, Steve grabbed another handful of popcorn and settled himself back for a lengthy discourse. "I am a guy," Danny began, pointing at himself with both hands. He opened his hands out to Steve. "Last time I checked, you are a guy —"
"You've been checking me out?" Steve asked, grinning.
Danny ignored him. "I like guy things; you like guy things. I like football and hockey, pizza and beer."
"Everybody likes pizza and beer," Steve interjected.
"You like playing with cars and shooting guns. I like barbecued ribs and not worrying about where my laundry is stashed."
"You like me," Steve said.
"I do not like you. I hate you."
"Then why are you always here at my house after hours?"
Danny opened his mouth to speak but then realized he had no quick witty retort for that one, so he had to take a moment to regroup. Steve smirked triumphantly.
"We are supposed to do guy things together," Danny continued, "like shooting pool, or playing poker." He mimed a pool break-shot and dealing a hand of cards. "Or watching monster trucks and tractor pulls, or…or…" Danny searched for another item to finish his list and finally settled on "fishing."
Steve rolled his eyes. "Fishing? Yeah, 'cause we all know how well that went."
"It's better than sitting here with you doing what guys do on movie dates," Danny declared.
"So is this a date?" Steve asked.
"Stop changing the subject," Danny said.
Steve shrugged, pretending not to understand.
"You totally did the yawn maneuver," Danny said accusingly.
"Yawn maneuver? I'm sorry. I don't think that's in any tactical manual I've ever seen."
"Really?" Danny asked. "That's what you're gonna go with? Feigned ignorance? What red-blooded, amorous American male hasn't tried the yawn maneuver?"
"So now you think I'm amorous?" By now, Steve was really enjoying Danny's discombobulation. And, Steve mentally noted, despite all Danny's verbal protestations, he was still sitting on the couch, showing no intent to leave.
"No, I don't think you're amorous. I think you're insane," Danny said. "I think you lured me here to watch a movie — "
"First of all," Steve interrupted. "I didn't lure you here. This movie was your idea. And if it were up to me, I would've picked Child's Play. I still haven't had a chance to see the ending…"
"Well, if you keep this up," Danny said, pointing at Steve's arm, "we're never gonna see any of this movie, either."
Steve silently thought, That's the point, but decided he'd best keep that thought to himself. He looked at Danny – who was pressed against the far end of the couch – and asked, "So that's where you're gonna sit for the rest of the night?"
"Yup." Danny nodded exaggeratedly.
"Okay," Steve said, smiling. "Enjoy the movie." He got up and snatched the forgotten bowl of popcorn out of Danny's lap and sat down as far as he could on the other side of the couch, holding the bowl over the far edge.
Danny was about to protest, but then changed his mind and instead just crossed his legs and folded his arms petulantly.
They watched in silence for a while, having missed the better part of the movie's opening 20 minutes.
"So which one's Bill again?" Steve asked, his mouth stuffed full of popcorn.
"He's the blonde," Danny replied. "And it's Bill S. Preston, Esquire."
"What kind of idiot uses 'Bill' with 'esquire?'" Steve asked. "Shouldn't it be William or something?"
"Just shut up and hand me some popcorn."
"Come and get it," Steve sing-songed, waving the popcorn bowl between them.
"I'm not gonna come and get it. You need to learn how to share."
"What? Are you afraid I'll bite?"
The unintended double entendre didn't go unnoticed by either man and it gave them both a moment's pause.
"I'm afraid my daughter's going to move to Las Vegas. I'm afraid an earthquake will send this rock sliding into the Pacific. And I'm afraid you are gonna get me killed some day in the not nearly distant enough future," Danny replied. "But I'm not afraid of you, per se."
Steve raised an eyebrow, unconvinced.
Danny laughed, gesturing to himself. "You think I'm afraid?"
Steve flapped his wings and clucked, then nodded to the seat next to him.
"You're such a moron," Danny replied, picking up his beer and sliding back towards Steve's side of the couch.
Steve flashed Danny a cocky grin before stretching his arm out along the back the couch and handing him the popcorn. Gotcha.
They both turned their attention back to the movie, munching on popcorn in silence.
On their post-Halloween family movie night, when they'd ended up crowded together on the couch by apparent kismet, they'd both accepted their circumstances at face value. But as Wyld Stallyns twanged dissonantly on Steve's TV, neither could avoid acknowledging that they were now sitting in artificially close proximity due to a conscious choice on both their parts. So unlike before, when hands bumped frequently and without notice, each brush of knuckles was now felt with an unanticipated sizzle of electricity.
Steve hadn't been sure if the stars would ever align again to give him a second shot at this, so he had made sure to commit to memory the feel of Danny's body against his. And now, he silently confirmed that, yeah, it did feel as comfortable as he remembered it.
Danny, in the meantime, hadn't thought much of it when Steve had put his arm around his shoulders the other night. The couch had been crowded, and it was much more practical to get to the popcorn with Steve's extra shoulder out of the way and behind his back. Neither Cath nor Grace appeared to have blinked an eye, so he had let it slide.
But after a few minutes, he'd realized that he actually kind of liked the feel of Steve's arm around him. He'd spent his life being a protector – for Matt, for his sisters, for Rachel, and for Grace. There was something comforting about being the protectee for a change, and having the arm of the fearless Lt. Commander Steve McGarrett wrapped around him was reassuring in an unfamiliar way.
What nagged at him, though, was how he could possibly explain this unwelcomed proclivity to Grace, who was at such a naïve and impressionable age. Daddy likes sitting close to Uncle Steve. Really close. Even hearing those words in his head made him feel incestuous on top of uncomfortable in more ways than he could count. But as awkward a conversation as he might have to have with Grace, Danny realized it couldn't be any stickier than one Steve must be due to have with Catherine, who was stuck on the far end of the couch from her date, and well past the age of being naïve and impressionable.
When the popcorn had finally run out, Danny had done the first thing that came to mind to maintain the status quo – he pretended to fall asleep. After all, he reasoned, who can be held responsible for what they do when they're asleep. And with that absolving thought in mind, he had allowed himself to lay back, relax, and enjoy the moment.
Though he couldn't see the scenes playing out before him, Danny could hear the movie's unrestrained gasps and moans and was grateful Grace had already fallen asleep so he wouldn't have to move from his pleasant resting spot to read her the riot act. Early the next morning, however, during the car ride home, Grace had gotten more than an earful about age-appropriate media choices, with Dumbo and Cinderella being held up as acceptable alternatives.
But now, as Rufus appeared on the screen in his time traveling phone booth, Danny was all too aware that Steve had deliberately put his arm around him earlier, and that he had willingly allowed him to do so. What the hell am I doing? Danny tensed up at the thought.
"Would you just relax?" Steve asked.
"I am relaxed," Danny said.
"No, you're not. You are majorly tense, bro. It's not like this is the first time we've been in this position."
"That was different. I was asleep," Danny lied, taking a sip of his beer.
"So, then," Steve suggested, "pretend you're asleep and relax." Danny barely caught himself before he choked on his beer. Does he — ? Nah.
"If I did that, I wouldn't be able to watch the movie," Danny lied again. Truth is, aside from a glimpse here or there, he hadn't really paid any attention to the film since Steve sat down next to him for the first time that night.
Feeling the stiffness in Danny's body, which was bordering on rigor, Steve felt a pang of guilt at having badgered him back into his arms. Maybe this isn't really fair, Steve thought. The poor guy was asleep last time. He's not complaining – well, not like he usually does at least – but still, maybe I should…
"Do you want me to move my arm?" Steve asked quietly. As soon as he'd said it, he regretted making it easy for Danny to back out.
Danny thought for a moment, weighing his options, and studiously avoiding looking Steve in the eye. He took another sip of his beer and stared into the near-empty popcorn bowl before finally shaking his head. "No, it's okay. We're good."
Steve couldn't interpret any emotion in Danny's voice, but took his response as a positive sign. He inwardly breathed a little sigh of relief and murmured a soft "Hmm." He pulled Danny in for a little hug and almost reflexively kissed him on the top of the head, until he remembered that this wasn't Cath or Mary under his arm.
Danny put down his beer and willed himself to relax and enjoy this strangely pleasant and wholly unexpected feeling while it lasted, though questions still continued to play on loop in his mind. Is this like a big joke and I'm the punch line? He can't be serious can he? Is this how we're gonna watch movies from now on? What about when there's no movie? We can't work on cases like this. How are we gonna get anything done? How do we go back to normal after this?
The distraction of his thoughts allowed Danny to forget what his body was doing, and slowly the tension ebbed away. Before he was really aware of what he was doing, he slumped down slightly and leaned his head closer into Steve's shoulder.
The first time he did so, Steve didn't budge. But the second time, Steve took it as an invitation and with a feather-light touch, ran a finger across the top of Danny's ear.
"Hey, hey, hey!" Danny sat upright and turned to face Steve. "Now what're you doing?!"
"What do you mean 'what are you doing?'" asked Steve, sitting up to speak face-to-face.
"You're playing with my hair!" Danny declared. "Leave my hair alone."
"I wouldn't dream of playing with your hair," Steve replied, "I know how weird you are about your hair."
"But," Steve admitted, "I was going for your ear."
"What?" Danny asked, even more incredulously.
"And I was only going for your ear because you were doing that thing with your head."
"What are you talking about?"
"Oh, c'mon, Danny, don't play dumb with me," Steve replied. "You can't tell me you don't know that a lean into the shoulder is the universal sign for 'play with my hair?'"
"I did not lean."
Steve pointed to his upper arm. "Your head started out here." He pointed further towards his shoulder. "It ended up here! Simple geometry says you leaned."
"I did not lean," Danny insisted.
"Okay, you just keep right on pretending," Steve acquiesced. "I may have done the yawn maneuver, but you were doing definitely doing the lean thing." Steve leaned back into the couch and dramatically re-opened his arm to see if Danny would bite.
Danny shook his head in bewilderment and muttered, "I do not believe the situations you get me into," before settling back down on Steve's shoulder.
Steve smiled to himself. He wasn't sure what was next, but he was pretty sure that it would warrant a heart-to-heart with Catherine sooner rather than later. She'd always been a good sport despite Steve's bottomless need for professional favors, and his occasionally unpredictable attention during dates. But wherever this was going – whatever "this" was – he knew he couldn't keep stringing her along.
With the popcorn gone, Danny sat up to put the bowl on the table, resting his head back yet a little closer on the return. Well, maybe he did lean – just a little. It had always worked for Rachel, and he had to admit – it felt pretty good from the other side, too. As his head met resistance from Steve's collarbone, he thought he felt Steve stifling a chuckle. He turned his head back to look, but Steve's face was apparently stoically focused on the movie, so Danny turned his face back to the screen while Steve silently smiled to himself again.
As the movie played on, Steve weighed his options. The last thing he wanted to do was scare Danny off. Danny's relationship with Gabby had proceeded at such a glacial rate that Steve, Kono, and Chin had all missed their over/under bets by months; they'd ended up ditching the bet and splitting the bill since they all agreed that even the "closest" prediction was way too far off to be considered "close."
So, this is it? We sit here for another hour and Danny goes home? What then? Steve had never been very good at waiting, so after biding his time, and making his best assessment of Danny's likelihood to bolt, he made his next move.
The next thing Danny knew, he was aware of a soft breeze on his ear. Danny felt the warm tickling sensation and couldn't decide if he should laugh out loud, protest, run, or enjoy it while he could. He played to form.
"Really, Steven?" He turned to look at Steve. "You're blowing in my ear?"
"Hey, it worked on Jenny Feldman," Steve replied defensively.
"Who the heck is Jenny Feldman?"
"Never mind, it's not important," Steve said. "Look. Are you telling me this has never crossed your mind?" He pointed back and forth between the two of them.
"Nope, never," Danny claimed. In truth, the thought had invaded his thoughts – usually at the most inopportune moments, and with far greater frequency in the last week. It had taken a lot of self-talk, willpower, and hummed verses of "Twinkle Twinkle" to make sure the thought remained just that – a fleeting idea – without a prayer of developing into a full-blown fantasy.
"Really?" Steve asked, only somewhat surprised. He leaned his head so close that their foreheads almost touched. "Never?"
"Never," Danny insisted, a little too vehemently. Steve continued to stare at him disbelievingly.
"You act like you're asking me if I've considered having sausage or mushrooms on my pizza instead of pepperoni," said Danny. "That I would consider. But this —" he replicated Steve's motion, waving his hand between the two of them, "— this is like having pineapple and ham on a pizza. It's just so wrong."
"So, you're not even a little curious," Steve said; he phrased it as a statement, but Danny still heard the question in his voice and shook his head untruthfully in reply. As accustomed to reading suspects as he was, Steve instantly caught the glimmer of hesitation in Danny's eyes and Danny knew it.
Steve laid his cards on the table, his voice a husky whisper. "I will go sit somewhere else, and I will never say anything about this again if you can look me in the eye and tell me that this has never crossed your mind."
Danny scrubbed his hand across his face, unable to decide if Steve's words sounded more like a plea or a threat.
Steve leaned in so close that Danny could feel the warmth of his breath against his lips. Danny's heart pounded in his ears as he fought the voice inside him that shouted, This is just another one of Steve's bad ideas. Run. But as always, he was never very good at listening to that voice, and he remained frozen in place.
Hazel eyes searched blue ones as adrenalin coursed through Danny's veins. He felt more nervous than he had before his first kiss – when he finally got up the nerve to kiss Debbie Delucca after babbling for four-and-a-half of the five minutes they were locked in a closet.
Danny unconsciously bit his lip, knowing he wouldn't be able to bluff his way out, not with Steve's eyes boring a virtual hole in his retinas.
"So are you gonna tell me to just relax, you've done this before?" Danny joked weakly, anticipating his fearless partner's typical response.
"Uh-uh," Steve shook his head. "This is as new to me as it is to you."
Steve's frank admission caught Danny by surprise, and it was oddly reassuring. Danny took a deep breath, silently counted to three, then closed his eyes.
Steve, who hadn't realized he had been holding his breath, exhaled deeply. He hardly had to move before his lips lightly brushed against Danny's. They touched for barely a moment before Steve pulled back to gauge Danny's response.
As he lifted his head, Danny instinctively followed, prolonging the kiss for just a microsecond. His eyes flew open in surprise – and more than a hint of disappointment. After all, the thought had crossed his mind before – more than once. That was it? His inelegant face-mash with Debbie Delucca had lasted longer.
Steve leaned further back to look into Danny's eyes, breath ragged, waiting for him to say something, anything. Danny was truly speechless and just sat, staring back, looking slightly dazed, his mouth hanging just barely open – temptingly open, thought Steve – in stunned silence.
A thousand thoughts collided in Danny's head and he was having a hard time picking just one to give voice to. Did that really just happen? Did I miss it? Did I just kiss my partner? Contrary to what he'd been telling himself, kissing his partner did not feel like kissing his brother – not that he'd ever imagined kissing his brother, as that thought was in fact, truly repulsive and had indeed never crossed his mind.
Steve gave him a moment before he came to the realization that Danny really was not going to say anything in the near future.
"So, do you want me to move?" Steve softly asked, nodding his head towards the armchair several feet away.
Danny's eyes betrayed him, straying to Steve's lips without being given permission to do so. He had Steve's undivided attention, so he had no doubt that Steve had noticed. Accepting the fact that he'd been made, Danny shook his head almost imperceptibly.
Steve's eyes darkened and Danny held his breath as Steve closed his eyes and leaned in again. Danny tilted his chin up to provide easier access and closed his own eyes in anticipation. Steve cupped his hand around Danny's jaw and gently pulled himself in to close the distance, pressing their lips together. This time he didn't pull back, lingering instead and giving them both time to enjoy the sensation.
Steve parted his lips just enough to let Danny know he was welcome to explore and Danny soon indulged. Feeling a tentative tongue brushing against his lips, Steve met Danny's tongue with his own.
Danny eventually talked his brain into submission, and allowed himself to pay attention to Steve's gentle assault on his mouth. Steve felt warm, soft, wet, and was systematically devouring Danny's lips, nibble by nibble. Danny could feel Steve's stubble, rough against his lips, and making a soft brushing noise as it rubbed against his own.
Steve tasted like beer and salt and butter. But when the last bit of salt and butter had been licked away, he tasted like Steve. Danny always thought that Gabby tasted like coffee or cosmopolitans, and Rachel tasted like wine or tea, but never beer.
Rachel. As her name crossed his thoughts, Danny panicked and pushed himself away.
"What's wrong?" Steve asked, concerned.
"I can't be doing this," Danny said.
"I'm in the middle of a custody battle."
"I can't be kissing you!" insisted Danny.
"Why not? You dated Gabby. And even as cautious as you were, I suspect you did more than kiss her."
"That was different."
"Seriously, Steve? You have to ask?"
"Yes, seriously," Steve replied. "Pretend I'm a little slow and spell it out for me."
"Well, (A), you are a guy, as in G-U-Y, guy," Danny began. Steve raised then lowered his eyebrows dismissively. "And (B), you're my partner. That's P-A-R-T-N-E-R."
"Danny, we are not living in the Dark Ages," Steve argued. "What you and I do or don't do is none of anyone else's business. No one's gonna care if I'm a guy."
Though Danny admired Steve's devil-may-care attitude, he was systematically unable to subscribe to it himself. He remained skeptical that the rest of society would be fully comfortable with whatever was going on between himself and the ready-for-anything ex-SEAL who was eyeing his lips like a starved wolf. "I doubt that," Danny replied, unconvinced.
"Look, all we're doing is — "Steve searched for the right word and concluded, "— snuggling."
"Snuggling?" Danny asked. "Partners don't snuggle." Danny had barely managed to get his head around the physical peril of being McGarrett's partner and the anxiety that came with being Steve's friend. He wasn't sure he could survive the additional emotional perils likely to come with any deeper involvement.
"Whaddya mean 'partners don't snuggle?'" Steve asked. "What about Agent 99 and Maxwell Smart? Mulder and Scully? Remington Steele and whats-her-face? Starsky and Hutch?"
"Starsky and Hutch didn't snuggle," Danny argued. "And those are just TV partners. There's a reason why police departments have rules against fraternization."
"Lucky for you, we're Five-0. And I get to make the rules at Five-0."
"So what Commander McGarrett says, goes?"
"Yeah, basically. You got a problem with that?" Steve challenged.
Now that the ball was rolling, he had a hard time imagining that they could just pretend nothing had happened and go back to being "just partners." Especially not after that last kiss left him breathless and aching for more. Danny ran his hands through his hair, still wary. "What am I supposed to tell Grace?"
"You don't have to tell her anything yet," Steve replied. "Not until you're ready, Danny. As far as I know, you haven't told her about y random woman you've ever kissed."
"First of all, there have not been that many 'random women' since Grace has been around. But more importantly, in case the fact somehow escaped your warped mind, you are not a random woman, and this is not 'just a kiss.'"
Danny's acknowledgement that it wasn't "just a kiss" convinced Steve that whatever was happening between them was more than some late-onset "adolescent" experimentation. So, he replied, already anticipating Danny's answer, "A kiss is just a kiss, Danny. But if it bothers you that much, it won't happen again…unless you want it to."
Steve couldn't interpret the expression that briefly flashed across Danny's eyes before it was masked by the same expression Steve had seen dozens of times before, the one that invariably preceded a lengthy lecture on Steve's unconventional, off-the-book law enforcement tactics. Steve wasn't sure, but for a moment, he thought he might have sensed…disappointment?
Danny was listening to the familiar nagging voice in his head telling him, This is a really bad idea. Meanwhile he felt an unanticipated yearning flickering inside him, reminding him that his toes were still tingling from their last kiss and that he really wanted nothing more than to confirm in his mind that it did indeed feel as good as he remembered it. Go for it, you idiot.
Accustomed to talking through his thoughts out loud, Danny found himself listening to the debate raging inside his head. He silently mouthed his arguments, and unconsciously flicked his lips with his tongue. Steve watched, keenly aware that only a few moments ago, that same tongue had been swirling the salt off his own lips.
"Don't do that," Steve said.
"Don't do what?"
"That. What you just did."
"What did I just do?"
"That thing, with your tongue."
"What is it with you and 'things?' " Danny asked.
"You say I have looks – you've got things," Steve insisted. "And you just did a thing with your tongue."
"You are certifiable, you know that? What the hell are you talking about?"
Steve demonstrated. "This."
"This?" Danny did a grotesque imitation. "I didn't even realize I was doing it."
"Yeah, well don't do it again," Steve replied curtly. "Not unless you want me to kiss you."
Steve eyes never left his face, and Danny finally succumbed to Steve's I'm-on-a-mission, unfaltering death stare. He scrunched up his face and shook his head resignedly. "I don't know how the hell I let you talk me into these things."
Steve practically beamed with glee. "I was hoping you'd say that." This time, he leaned in more confidently, bracing himself with his hand on the couch beside Danny's head before capturing his lips.
Danny intuitively reached up a hand to pull Steve closer – he had always liked women with long hair, and the unfamiliar feel of Steve's crew cut caught him by surprise. The subtle encouragement of Danny's hand was all Steve needed and he shifted his weight to deepen the kiss. Lips met lips with more familiarity this time; limbs entangled, and eager tongues, teeth and hands charted new territory freely.
It took them more than a few tries for them to adjust to the unaccustomed differences in anatomy – squarer hips and waists and fewer soft spots, among other unfamiliar parts – not to mention the difficulty of cramming two Alpha males on the same narrow couch.
More than once, a stray elbow, knee or hand landed on unintended targets. But after Steve caught Danny in the ribs for the third time, Danny reluctantly unsealed his mouth long enough to mumble, "You need a bigger couch. This couch wasn't even big enough for me and the dog."
Steve propped himself up on his elbow. "You are the only person on this planet who actually prefers the couch. I don't need a bigger couch, I already have a perfectly good bed upstairs."
He hadn't meant that to come out like a proposition, but neither man could avoid the obvious connotations of Steve's casual observation and paused for a moment to process the unsaid suggestion.
"Uh, can we just stick with the couch for now?" Danny requested sheepishly.
"Works for me." Steve smiled reassuringly. He leaned back to get a better look at Danny's face. The consternation that had clouded Danny's eyes earlier had faded; in its place, clear blue eyes, bordered by crinkly smile lines, peered back at him. Even the mention of a bed didn't seem to have brought back the earlier anxiety.
"What're you looking at?" Danny asked.
"Well stop it. You're creepin' me out."
"I like seeing you smile, Danny. You don't do it nearly often enough."
"This is not a smile."
"You are such a bad liar, Danny," Steve said, laughing.
Steve was about to continue where they'd left off when the DVD's annoyingly looped menu music finally caught his attention. He reached an arm around and began actively pawing the couch behind Danny's rear.
"Now what the hell are you doing?" Danny asked.
"Looking for the remote," Steve said innocently.
"It's on the coffee table, genius" said Danny. Steve was well aware of the remote's current resting place, as he'd seen it when he glanced at the TV, but he thought it would definitely be more fun to search for a bit.
"You didn't seem to mind."
"Is that a request?" Steve grinned mischievously. Steve eyed Danny's lips, which were already slightly swollen and red around the edges from their recent activities.
Danny's face broke into a full-blown smile. "What, do I need to send out an invitation?"
*** H 5 0 *** H 5 0 *** H 5 0 ***
A few hours later, Steve was awoken by a loud "Ow!" Reflexes kicked in and he sat bolt upright, ready to pounce.
He was momentarily disoriented as his eyes adjusted to the dim light, so he was surprised to see Danny pushing himself up from the floor next to the couch, rubbing his shoulder.
"You kick," Danny complained.
"You talk in your sleep," Steve replied, lying himself back on the couch.
"Yeah, but my talking doesn't result in your getting dumped on the floor."
Steve shrugged, only somewhat repentantly while Danny picked himself up and sat down on the edge of the couch.
"You managed to fall asleep without the TV," Steve said.
"I guess I was otherwise distracted," Danny said, smiling at the memory. He leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees, his chin in his hands, while Steve drew lazy circles on his back with his fingers.
After a few minutes Danny looked back and asked, "So where are we going with this, huh?"
"I dunno," Steve replied. "I probably need to have a talk with Cath, though."
"A talk?" Danny said. "Sounds serious. Was that your plan all along?"
"No, no plan. It just seemed like the right thing to do at the time."
"Do you realize how many lives this could impact? Danny asked. "This changes everything."
"Do you always have to be so melodramatic?"
"Do you always have to act before thinking these things through?" Danny asked.
"Would you have liked it better if I'd done nothing?"
"I'm not saying that, but —"
"Well it's hard for me to imagine how much slower I could have taken it," Steve replied. "And I happen to think things are turning out pretty well, like they always do," Steve said. "Don't you think?"
Danny wasn't sure how to respond. His body and soul were certainly inclined to agree, but his mind was objecting strenuously.
"Why do you always have to overthink everything?" Steve asked. "Just let go, Danny. Let it happen."
"Let it happen?" Danny asked skeptically. "Just like that?"
"Danny, do you trust me?"
Danny nodded. For years he had trusted Steve with his life. Now he realized that he implicitly trusted him with more as well.
"Then I promise you, Danno, you and I – and Grace – we are going to be just fine. Whatever happens."
Steve stretched his arms out and Danny lay back down next to him. Steve wrapped a protective arm around him, and kissed him gently on the neck.
They remained spooned together, fingers interlaced, each replaying the mental images of the last few hours. Only the sound of a distant siren interrupted their reveries.
Danny glanced down at his watch to find that it was nearly 3:00 a.m. "You know, as much as I'm enjoying myself, I should get going," he said, sitting up. "We've got work tomorrow and I gotta catch some shuteye. I'm gonna have a hard enough time falling asleep as it is, and then I really won't be able to think straight."
"Yeah," Danny replied. "If I don't get going, my head's gonna explode."
"I thought you were okay with this?" Steve asked, concerned.
"No, no, no. It's good," Danny reassured him. "At least I think it's good. We're good. But this is beyond the last thing I expected to happen when I left my house this evening, so it's gonna take me awhile to get my head around it. I don't want things to get weird between us, you know? 'Cause then work will be weird, and with everything that's going on with Grace, I can't do weird right now, okay?"
"Yeah, sure, Danny. No problem."
"So what now?"
"Wanna stop by after work tonight and watch Bill and Ted again?"
"Are we actually gonna watch any of it this time?"
"Why, you afraid you won't be able to keep your hands off me?" Steve teased.
"You wish!" Danny retorted.
Steve laughed out loud. "Thanks, now I'm not gonna get any sleep either."
Danny chuckled comfortably and reluctantly got up to leave.
Steve walked him to the door, rested his forearms on Danny's shoulders, and leaned forwards to kiss him goodbye.
"See you at work?" Steve said.
"Oh yeah, that's gonna be fun," Danny droned. "It's gonna be a blast pretending the last 8 hours didn't happen, so I can make it through the day without getting the third degree from Kono and Chin."
"Well, at least we can look forward to tonight, right?"
"Right," Danny said. "'Night, partner." He stretched onto his tiptoes and kissed Steve on the cheek then turned to let himself out.
"'Night, Danno," Steve said, watching Danny walk towards his car before shutting the door behind him.
Although Steve had tried to keep things low key, keeping tabs on his own libido while testing the waters had taken a lot of emotional energy. But it was only after Danny's departure that Steve finally realized how tired he was.
He picked up the empty bottles and popcorn bowl and left them by the kitchen sink. As he walked up the stairs to go to bed, Steve heard the sound of Danny's departing Camaro, smiled contentedly and yawned.
A/N: When I first cottoned on to McDanno as a potential pairing, I believed that they could get together, but I had a hard time envisioning how that might realistically occur. Steve was an easy sell given how comfortable he is in his own skin (and how lukewarm he seems to be about Cath). But I could easily see Danny hesitating. He's joked about being "manly" and clearly has issues with relationships and self-image; I also think he cares what people around him think. So, I always loved the idea of Danny's internal conflict and hoped to find a way to fit it into a "first time" story.
Somehow, I missed Mohai when it aired earlier this season (just caught it on a marathon re-watch). And thank god for that final scene, since otherwise the episode is pretty much unwatchable for me. I loved that they again played it casual – and not because I believe they are already in a relationship, given that Steve and Cath were still trying to find some alone time. The fact that the scene was set to Avalanche City's "Love Love Love" sealed the deal for me and made it the perfect set-up.
At any rate, I digress. I was hoping to convey a realistic slow burn, since that's been much more my life experience than the tear-off-your-clothes kind of first time. I haven't come across many fics that fall into this category (though admittedly I haven't spent that much time looking...yet).
If you liked this, I hope you'll let me know. In the meantime, it's back to the chapter fics for me now...
Thanks for reading!
P.S. Since I hadn't heard of The Notebook either, I read Common Sense Media's review of it when writing this, and I have to say, as a mom of a tweener girl, I cannot believe Catherine suggested it. Danny would SO be apoplectic.
P.P.S. After reading the reviews for this fic, I went out and borrowed The Notebook from my library. Seriously, H50_writers? The Notebook?