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I lost my head but found the one that I loved


Steve checked his watch as the chopper came in for its landing. In another hour, he would be landing in Waikiki. It was nearly four years exactly since he first came back on the trail of Victor and Anton Hesse. They were still at large somewhere, but every lead the Navy picked up ran cold. Steve suspected that they had help in higher places -- people who were practiced in hiding a trail.

Steve had no proof of that. He could only follow the leads he had, right up until they turned cold.

“What’s the weather like?” Steve asked the pilot above the noise. Normally he’d bring himself in, but his Captain had sent him with an escort as a thank you for the completion of Steve’s last successful mission.

Four months ago, during his last visit, Danny had grilled him constantly on just what it was he did. He tried every torture technique in the Williams book – from cold feet on Steve’s skin to withholding coffee in the morning – but all Steve ever had to say was that it was classified.

“Sunny, sir,” the pilot replied. “Do you have plans?”

“I’m going home,” Steve said with a proud smile. He only had five days this time around, but five days was better than nothing at all. He was working on getting some time off for Grace’s birthday in a couple of months, but it wasn’t official. He was going to keep it under wraps until he had confirmation.

He was living a life that he loved, but it was just shy of being the life he wanted to live given the small amount of time he spent with Danny and Grace. Once he returned to the Navy (as he always inevitably did), he couldn’t even talk about them because that would get him booted out instantly.

There were nights when Steve rolled over in an uncomfortable, cold cot, and thought that it would be worth the dishonourable discharge if it meant going back to a warm bed and someone who wanted him.

Steve’s only doubt remained the knowledge that if you added up the time that Danny and Steve had spent together, it came up just short of four months. Four months wasn’t a lot to build a relationship on.

Steve thanked the pilot profusely when they landed, grabbing his bag and ducking his head to avoid the blades. He could see his father waiting for him at the edge of the tarmac and Steve lifted a hand to acknowledge him, hurrying over as the chopper pulled away.

“Hey, Dad, thanks for picking me up. Matt was working and Danny’s busy with Grace,” Steve said, reaching out to shake his father’s hand the minute he got close enough.

John gave him a pinched look in reply, but didn’t say anything. Steve had no idea what it was he’d done this time, but he was sure he’d find out. He waited for it, and then waited some more, and finally, he couldn’t take it. By then, they were already on their way to Danny’s place.

“Okay, fine, what?”

“I want you to listen to me as a voice of reason,” John began, “and not your father. This isn’t a measure of disapproval, and it’s not to say that I don’t like Danny.”

Steve could already tell that he wasn’t going to like where this was going.

“Dad...”

“And I want you to remember,” John cut him off before Steve could launch his argument, “that I see Danny Williams day in and day out, seven days a week. Keep that in mind for what I’m about to say, but I think it’s reached a point where if I don’t bring it up, I’m not doing my duty as a friend to him.”

“And what about your duty as a father to me?” Steve asked, brows furrowed together.

John shot Steve an impatient look. “We’re having this conversation as equals. Grace is getting older.”

“I know that, Dad, I try to come and see her as much as I can...”

“Steve, let me finish before you talk back,” John said sharply. “Grace is five years old now. She’s a bright young girl with a good heart and she has a devoted father. And then there’s you. You’ve been an unsteady fixture in that young girl’s life. You come and you go without any kind of consistency and you can never promise when you’ll be back. She’s reaching an age where it won’t be so easy to forget you when you’re gone, Steve. I want you to tell me that you’ve thought about the repercussions of your actions.”

Steve glanced over to the driver’s seat, pulling a face. “Oh, I’m sorry, can I talk now?”

“Don’t give me that, Steven.”

“Yes. Yes, I have thought about how my visits affect Grace,” Steve said, gesturing wildly out the window. “And I know that she’s older, but Danny and I are still anything but serious.”

“Steve, in the ten years that you were gone from the island, you never made a point of coming back. You could have,” John said. “But, you didn’t. Since you met Danny and Grace, you’ve been back more times than I ever would have expected. That’s not serious?”

“We haven’t exactly talked about it,” Steve admitted, shifting uncomfortably in his seat as they drove their way down back roads. Steve recognized it as a detour – a way to keep the conversation going without interruption. “But it’s not like Danny’s told me that he loves me and it’s not like we’ve talked about what we are. We’re just dating.”

“Steven,” John said quietly. “If you love that man half as much as I believe he loves you, then you need to make a decision about your future. I see Danny every day. He never lights up so much as he does when he sees Grace or when he hears that you’re coming back to town. On the other hand, I never see him as miserable as he is the day after you leave. Think about that. And then think about how Grace feels when you go. How did you feel when I sent you away to protect you?”

“It’s different,” Steve said, his chest aching at the thought of making Grace feel even remotely close to the turmoil he’d endured at sixteen.

John pulled up to the Williams’ gate and waited patiently. “Is it?”

“Dad, I’m employed by the United States Navy,” Steve said, gritting his teeth as he tried to understand whether he was fighting his father because he disagreed or because he agreed and didn’t know what to do about it. “Being with Danny like that and working are mutually exclusive. It can’t happen.”

“Well, then, son. I guess it’s time to ask yourself what you really want,” John said, unlocking the doors and gesturing up to that big house that Steve saw half as much as he wished he could. “Do you want to keep working and be lonely, earning a little girl’s resentment and her father’s broken heart -- or do you want a family?”

“I can’t just choose Danny and Grace and not work,” Steve said.

“There are other options. If you choose family, then you come and talk to me, and I’ll see what I can do about getting you a local job in your neck of the woods,” John said. “I won’t say anything more, because this decision has to be about what you want, not an impulsive and reckless thing.”

Steve stared up at the looming house and then turned back to his father, who looked at him with sympathy etched on his expression.

“What would you do, in my position?” Steve finally asked, retrieving his bag and setting it on his lap.

John smiled, but it didn’t reach his eyes. “Every time, without fail, I choose family. I always have.”

“Even when you sent your kids away?”

“How could I lose you?” John asked. “How could I have consciously kept you here because I was selfish and run the risk of losing you? Steve, I believe that your mother’s death wasn’t a car accident. All these years, I’ve been trying to keep you from that, but if it helps you to understand, then I want you to know. She was murdered, Steve, by people who are still out there. I got too close to something and she died because she took my car that day. I’ve lived with that guilt since you were sixteen. I couldn’t take even the idea of something happening to you or to Mary,” John confessed.

The tension of the conversation and the admission was weighing heavily on Steve and even though he wasn’t sixteen anymore, he felt like a kid facing his father and realizing what was really going on behind the curtain.

“Dad, we could’ve...”

“You were sixteen and Mary was even younger,” John interrupted. “You deserved safety, not a spotlight in the investigation I was running. I chose you and Mary, Steve. I choose my family. I choose to keep you alive and healthy and maybe not at home, but relatively happy, given the circumstances.”

Steve fought the lump in his throat, refusing to give in to the emotion that threatened to overwhelm him. He clutched onto the door-handle tight as he could and thought about his mother and his father. He thought about how his father hadn’t seemed to care and tried to reconcile that man with the one sitting beside him.

“I can’t get her back,” John said, eyes red-rimmed. “How could I have risked losing my children?”

Steve reached over tentatively, searching for his father’s hand and twining their fingers together so he could give it a squeeze. It was half-desperate and tinged with a slight amount of awkwardness. He still didn’t know his father as much as he wanted to, but he was beginning to understand him better.

“If work is what drives you, then go back to the Navy and leave Danny to find someone else,” John advised. “If you want to take a chance, there are always other opportunities for work on the island.”

“Dad...”

“I love you, son,” John said. “I know I don’t say it enough, but I do.”

“I love you, too, Dad,” Steve said. “And I’ll...I’ll think about it. I’ll make a decision.” He relinquished his father’s hand, getting out of the car before the moment could draw out into something heavy and cumbersome. He stood in the driveway and watched John leave.

He let himself settle down before turning to slide his key into the front door. He had keys, now, for the house. He had more than one picture of Grace, he had the security combination to the gate and to the main console, and Danny was number one on his speed-dial. Steve could keep swearing up and down that things weren’t that serious, but he was only lying to himself.

“Danny?” Steve called out, his voice still rough despite his belief that he was okay. “Hey, I’m home.”

It gave him a strange thrill of pleasure to refer to the house as ‘home’, but as soon as Grace came sprinting down the stairs and Danny not far after, he knew he wasn’t wrong. Steve dropped his bag instantly and crouched down to open his arms to Grace. “Hey, come here, you,” he encouraged, only stumbling back slightly when Grace leapt into his arms.

The last time he’d been back was four months ago, and in that time Grace had grown two inches and her hair seemed to have grown four.

“We made you a cake,” Grace said excitedly. “I even put Danno’s favorite on top!”

“Blueberries, huh?” Steve said, peeking upwards at Danny and grinning. “What, no pineapple?”

“This is a pineapple-free house,” Danny said. “And we don’t allow coconuts here, either. Do you know how dangerous those things are? I just finished a case where the vic’s head got knocked in. Death by coconut. Did you know that? Did you know how dangerous those things are? Grace, you are hereby disallowed from going near coconut trees without a helmet, you got that?”

“That’s a little extreme, don’t you think?” Steve said, straightening out the hem of Grace’s skirt as he carried her into the kitchen to see this wonderful cake that had been made. He caught Danny’s eye above Grace’s head. “Do you think you could call Kono to watch her? I’d really like to take you out for a nice dinner.”

“Is there an occasion?”

Steve paused, able to see himself teetering on the edge of a new life, but he couldn’t commit to anything without talking it over with Danny. He wanted Danny’s advice and he needed his input, especially if this was bound to be their first big decision together. “I don’t know. Maybe. Not yet.”

Danny looked suspicious, but he consented with a slow nod, migrating over to the landline. “I’ll call,” he agreed. “Where are we going?”

“Somewhere fancy. Somewhere that you have to put on a suit and tie for,” Steve said, turning to look at Grace adoringly, bowing his head in to press his forehead to hers. “And tomorrow night, we’ll go out for pizza. You, me, and Danno. How’s that sound?”

“Perfect!” Grace said with a small bounce in his arms.

While Danny made the calls to Kono and to make reservations for dinner, Steve brought Grace into the den where she showed him her latest drawings. For a five-year-old, she wasn’t an amazing artist, but nothing looked like the blobs that used to adorn her artwork. She rambled on as she colored and told him about Matt’s job, Danny, and then she started talking about her school.

Even though he had been there four months ago, Steve felt like he’d missed a lifetime.

“Hey,” Danny interrupted, leaning over Steve and pressing one hand on each of Steve’s shoulders, leaning down heavily, leaving a kiss to the top of his head. “Kono will be here in an hour if you want to change.”

“Wait!” Grace said desperately, pushing to her feet and presenting him with the drawing.

Steve took the construction paper and studied it with an appraising look. “That’s, what do you think, Danno...?”

“That’s beautiful.”

“It’s genius.”

“I think the Louvre will be calling any minute...”

“I think you’re right,” Steve agreed, beaming away. “Look at that. It’s you and Grace and I’m riding a tube?”

“It’s a shark,” Grace informed him proudly. “Because Danno told me you were a seal once.”

Steve opened his mouth to tell her that it didn’t exactly work that way, but he figured that she’d learn as she got older. He leaned in to press a slow kiss to her hair. “It’s perfect, Gracie, I love it.” He was definitely bringing it back with him -- if he even went back.

He felt in flux, like there were two paths before him and he wasn’t wholly sure which to take.

Steve occupied himself with dressing for the evening, smoothing out his shirt and grabbing a sweater-vest to go atop it. It looked preppy. Steve hadn’t looked preppy in almost a decade, but it was a good change and maybe that was what he needed. He pressed a hand to his stomach to attempt to quell his nerves, staring into the mirror.

He was looking at his reflection when Danny came into the room, in the midst of unbuttoning his shirt. “Grace is busy with her new masterpiece,” Danny mumbled idly.

Steve turned to Danny, grabbing his suit jacket by the lapels before Danny could take it off. He took a moment to rub his thumbs up and down the fabric before starting to undress Danny for him. He took great care in pushing off the jacket, head tipped to the side as he freed Danny’s hands from the cuffs of the shirt. He bit down on his lip when he got in closer, smelling Danny’s cologne and a touch of mint from his toothpaste. Steve inched in closer, pressing his hand to the small of Danny’s back and tugging him closer for the kind of greeting kiss that he hadn’t been able to steal before.

“What’re you gonna wear?” Steve asked, lowering his voice to keep it private between them. “I mean, you’re always in a tie and suit, you’re gonna have to really impress me here.”

“I was thinking, I was thinking I’d ditch the suit jacket and go with a waistcoat,” Danny said with the hint of a giddy grin on his lips. “What do you think?”

Steve’s hands descended to Danny’s waist, tucked-in and narrow compared to his broad shoulders, and cinched there possessively. “I could approve of that,” he said with a thoughtful nod.

Danny reached up to fix the knot of Steve’s tie, pushing past him and stripping off his jeans to start getting dressed.

“Did Grace miss me? While I was gone?” Steve asked Danny while he was in the walk-in closet. He dreaded the answer. He knew it, but asked anyway because he needed to remind himself of the biggest reason why he would stay.

Danny poked his head out from the closet, a pair of pants in his hand. “Of course she missed you,” Danny said with a scoff. “She loves you, Steve. She’s always going to miss you. She wouldn’t stop crying into that damn stuffed dolphin you bought her. It took me, Matt, and three doses of Cinderella to get her to calm down. Does that sate your gigantic insecure ego?”

No. That only made it worse.

Steve didn’t take his eyes off Danny for a second, watching the way he carefully buttoned up the grey waistcoat and slid his belt into the loops of his pants. He watched the way Danny brushed his thumb up and down his socks when he put them on, and thought fondly of how that mimicked the way he touched Steve’s back when they woke up in the morning.

The doorbell distracted him before his thoughts could turn more lewd. He reached over to squeeze Danny’s forearm. “Hey, I’ll get it, you get ready,” he said, running a hand through Danny’s messy hair.

He bounded down the stairs, pulling open the front door. When he saw Kono on the front step, he couldn’t help the insanely proud grin that always seemed to come when he saw her. At twenty, she was settling into her age. She had several books tucked under her arm – police academy, Danny had mentioned during their monthly call, after she blew out her knee.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t call for Kono’s elegant older sister,” Steve joked, trying to hold the smile at bay, but it didn’t work for very long. He grinned and pulled her in for a tight hug. “Hey, Danny and I appreciate this, I know it’s last minute, but...”

Kono swatted at his arm. She was practically glowing and she shifted her books in order to bring him in closer, squeezing tight. Steve had never met anyone who hugged quite as freely or as passionately as the Kelly-Kalakauas and Kono was only proving that fact.

“Hey, it’s no big,” Kono assured him. “I’ve got studying to do anyway and Grace can help me. Policeman’s daughter is the best study-aid, am I right?”

“How are you liking it?”

“It’s not surfing,” Kono said, a smile of regret stuck on her lips. “I’d give anything to go back to before the injury, but it’s the family business. If I can’t be out on the waves, then I’m going to protect this island.”

“I swear, between my Dad, Chin Ho, you, and Danny? This island will be squeaky clean,” Steve said, releasing her from his embrace. “Come on in. Do you want something to eat? Drink? I can get you something before we head out, we still have thirty minutes before our reservations.”

“No, don’t worry about me,” Kono said. “I’m gonna settle in. You guys go ahead, enjoy your dinner.”

“Kono Kalakaua,” Danny said as he descended the stairs slowly. “I thought I smelled rookie in my house.”

“My rookie butt is gonna be saving yours soon enough,” she said with a proud smirk. “Did you hear about that new task force?”

“I did,” Danny agreed with a slow nod of his head. “I have been interviewed for it and told that I will be in consideration and will be telephoned with the verdict by next week. I have yet to decide whether it’s all an elaborate sham to see who’s looking to jump ship.”

Kono rolled her eyes. “If it’s genuine, I’m going for it as soon as I graduate. You think you could help me out? Be a reference?”

“If you keep offering me discounted babysitting services, I’ll go to the moon and back for you,” Danny said, leaning in to kiss Grace’s forehead – she was too involved with her newest sketch to pay much attention to what the adults were saying. “We’re just at the little Italian bistro. Steve, are we gonna be out late?”

“Back by midnight,” Steve said, swiping the car keys from Danny. “Gracie, be good for Miss Kono.”

“I will,” Grace said distractedly, waving her non-crayon-clutching hand. “Bye Danno, bye Dad.”

Steve’s whole world stopped on a dime.

It took Danny corralling him to get him out of the house and onto the front porch, where Steve took a few long, deep breaths, to try and find some kind of way to avoid the big red panic button that was practically flashing in his mind. Was it too soon? Did this prove his father’s point? What the hell kind of father left his kid and went around the world? Yeah, other guys did it, but they didn’t have to hide their relationship and it hadn’t snuck like this, knocking them into silent submission.

Had Steve really stumbled his way into this situation?

“Dad?” he echoed, giving Danny an incredulous look. “How long has this been going on?”

“I was going to warn you at dinner,” Danny said apologetically, rubbing his hand in slow circles against Steve’s back to try and calm the panic. “She started saying it after your last visit. The school did some unit on families and all the ways they can look and ever since then, you went from StepSteve to Dad. I can talk to her, we can talk to her if it freaks you out.” Danny paused, taking the time to look Steve over. “Does it freak you out?”

“Yeah, a little,” Steve admitted, wanting to be honest. “About as much as I like it. I don’t know, I don’t really know if I want her to call me that when I haven’t earned it.”

“She loves you,” Danny said quietly.

“Does her father?” Steve asked, hating that he was being so blunt, but feeling that it was necessary in order to get all the information he needed before he made any decisions. He was waiting on Danny’s input, of course he was, but knowing whether Danny was all-in made a difference.

Danny’s hand stilled against Steve’s back. At the rate they were going, they wouldn’t even make it to the restaurant for their reservations. They lingered on the porch with serious topics floating between them and Steve didn’t have a clue about whether he even wanted to go until he got his answers.

“Steve, that’s a loaded question to be asking the minute you get back,” Danny said in a hush.

“It’s a pretty big one, yeah. But I don’t think it’s undeserved. I can name your favorite song, food, vacation spot. I can tell you how Grace likes to wear her hair. I know,” Steve said, wielding his words like they were weapons, “that the last few visits I had here have been some of the best times of my life, even when we’re just hanging out on your beach or going grocery shopping or doing these mundane and boredom-inducing little things, but I love them anyway. Because I love doing it with you and Grace. Because I love Grace and I love you.”

Steve hadn’t been sure of it when he’d landed, but with time to think about how he much he did love the inanity and the humdrum tasks, he knew that it wasn’t masochism that made him want to keep coming back.

“We need to have a big talk with dinner,” Steve said in fair warning. “And knowing whether you love me matters.”

Danny furrowed his brow and moved his hand down from Steve’s back to clasp at his hand. “Come on, let’s at least have this talk over drinks.”

Nothing. Not even the indication of a possible response.

“Danny, I have no issue standing right here until you give me an answer. It’s a yes or a no question, it’s really not that difficult,” Steve said, his patience running low. Something he’d said didn’t go over well though, because a look of indignation passed over Danny’s face and Steve instantly knew that he was in trouble.

Steve braced himself for impact.

“What?”

“This is not a conversation we’re going to have on my front porch,” Danny said, gripping the house keys tighter and pulling Steve over to the car. “First of all, I thought we established that I fell head over heels for your ass long before you even thought of me as more than a good booty call...”

“Do people even say booty call anymore...?”

“And second, you just got home! You’re springing this on me and you’re gonna leave, what, in two days?”

Steve took a deep breath and got ready to face the music as he slid into the passenger seat of the car. “Actually, Danny, that’s why I wanted to talk. I want to make sure we’re on the same page, but if you love me and I decide that I’m ready to change the way my life looks, my departure date might be...well, permanently delayed.”

Danny stuck the keys in the ignition, but didn’t start the car. He just gaped at Steve. “Are you saying...?”

“I’ve started to consider, very recently mind you, leaving the Navy,” Steve said aloud. He waited a moment, but no lightning struck him down, which was a step better than he’d expected. “Dad and I had a talk and he brought up you and Grace and our situation. He pointed out that maybe I haven’t exactly been fair.”

Danny was suspiciously silent. Which tended to mean that he agreed, but didn’t feel compelled to share that aloud.

“Look, I know that it hasn’t been ideal, but we knew going in that it was supposed to be a short-term thing,” Steve said, glad that Danny had finally started the car to get them to the restaurant. He could practically hear Danny’s indignation before a single word was spoken and so he tried to beat Danny to the punch. “Which, it isn’t. It didn’t turn out that way, I acknowledge that. Tonight, tonight is about you and me figuring out possibilities. My Dad said there’s a work opportunity if I stay, so I wouldn’t be leeching off of you and Matt.”

“You’re family, we wouldn’t mind,” Danny instantly replied. “And if you argue that for a single second, Steven, I will turn this car around and march you right into the house, make you face Grace, and remind you of how highly my daughter thinks of you. Look, Steve, is this what you actually want or is this guilt talking? That’s all I need to know.”

Steve frowned as they pulled up to the restaurant. “But, Danny. There are financials to talk about, not to mention telling Grace and, and, what about work?”

“Steve, that comes later,” Danny said, brushing his palm slowly up the length of his waistcoat, fidgeting and fixing the tie. “All that comes right now is you telling me whether you really do want to stay with us and see what it’s like to live with me every day, instead of just on leave, or whether you feel guilty and you think this is the fix.”

“What if I don’t know?”

“We could be brave idiots and try,” Danny admitted. “Or we could be smart jerks and never see each other again.”

The mere thought of not coming back to Oahu for his next leave (or the one after that) knocked Steve askew, as if he’d stumbled his way into a state of breathless shock. He’d spent years never going anywhere but where his job sent him, but now the thought of not having respite in the midst of that was almost crushing. Danny got out of the car and Steve desperately followed, unable to do anything but chase after Danny.

It took Steve a while to actually say what he was thinking, though.

For all that Steve could screw his courage together to the sticking point, there was a difference between risking his life when he had nothing to come back for, and putting everything on the line when there was so much (too much) to lose.

The waiter had just walked away with the pitcher of water and a wine order to fulfill when Steve could finally say it aloud.

“She really thinks of me as a father,” Steve said, the shock giving way to abject pleasure. “My little Gracie?”

“Yeah, how about that?” Danny agreed, waving around a piece of bread like a kind of weapon. “Your little Gracie. So,” he continued. “You gonna leave her?”

“Your subtlety is astounding, Danno,” Steve said dryly. “Honestly, your reserved nature is by far the most lovable thing about you.”

Danny flashed him a smirk and seemed to be doing everything in his power to keep from giving Steve the finger. “You’re the idiot who fell in love with me,” Danny said idly, slathering butter onto the bun. “I’m still waiting. Yes or no. Am I gonna start setting places for four in the morning? Am I gonna get another vote on important household issues?” Danny made a face. “I swear to god, Matt should not be siding with a five year old, even mine.”

“You have to admit that you were being too strict on the Cookie Jar Annex of 2008,” Steve said with a bright grin. “I mean, two cookies only per day? Danny, what is this?”

“I got spooked by your Dad talking about McGarrett family history. Bad heart health runs in your genes, you know,” Danny said, reaching over with his fork to rap on Steve’s knuckles. “Don’t think I’m not taking that into account as you get older, if I’m still around.”

“You will be,” Steve said instantly, his sureness coming through in his tone.

“Yeah, yeah, you say that now...”

“No, Danny, you will be,” Steve cut him off to say the words again, sterner than before. “Because I’m not going anywhere. I want to give this, us, a real shot. I’ll find work here. I’ll discharge myself from the Navy...”

Apparently Danny was still a brat inside, because he smirked at Steve’s words.

“...stop making that face,” Steve barely hesitated to reprimand him. “And, if you’ll let me, I’ll move the rest of my things in.”

“My closet is already half yours. I keep putting on the wrong shirts, they’re too tight and buttons are starting to pop loose.”

Steve’s eyes widened with jealous indignation and arousal, painting an intimate and thorough mental picture of Danny at work with his arms crossed and his shoulders practically bursting at the seams. “You’re letting other people stare at you?” Steve growled. “Like that? And my father hasn’t done anything about it?”

“I don’t even think he’s aware the kind of caveman you are,” Danny replied. “Jesus, if I weren’t so turned on, I’d be scared right now. Contrary to what you think, Steven, your father and I are not already acting like he’s my father-in-law and I’m his kid. We’re good coworkers, but he’s been pretty respectful in treating me like any other guy. I don’t think he’s aware of where you stand. To be fair, neither was I.”

“Literally, I stand right here,” Steve said, choosing to be pedantic. “Sitting. Here, at a restaurant with you, where we’re about to have expensive wine and a dinner that I don’t really want because I’d rather be moving my things in and telling Grace. God, Danny, I want to tell Grace, you have to let me tell her.”

Danny lifted his napkin to his lips and signalled a hand high in the air.

“Yeah, hey, waiter,” Danny said in that infectiously cheerful way that usually pissed off half the people Danny levelled it at. “We’re gonna take dinner to go and the faster you get it to us, the bigger your tip will be.”

Steve couldn’t stop smiling.

He wished that the giddy excitement had lasted the whole of the trip back to the house. When there was roughly a mile left to go, Steve’s eagerness to tell Grace about the new situation turned almost wholly to nerves. What if she didn’t want him around? What if she didn’t think he was good enough for Danny?

What if he was a terrible father?

That thought hit him hardest of all. Steve tried to push it aside, looking up in trepidation to see that they’d arrived. He took a deep breath and stared at the window to Grace’s bedroom where the dim reading light told him that she was still awake and he was definitely doing this tonight.

“Hey,” Danny murmured, reaching over to squeeze Steve’s thigh gently. “I can tell her, if you want.”

“I just want it to be good news,” Steve said, his brow furrowed and his tone fraught with worry. “What if she doesn’t want me around? What if...”

“Steve, I know you,” Danny began mildly, “and so I know that you’re freaking yourself out with the what-ifs in your head right now. March upstairs, sit down, tell that little girl that you’re planning on sticking around and then come to me to fix your eardrums when she breaks them.”

“You think she’ll be happy?” Steve asked hopefully.

“You goofball,” Danny said fondly. “I think she’ll be ecstatic. Go, I’ll park the car and talk to Matt about setting up some accounts and house rules.”

Steve chanced one last look at Danny before a nervous smile broke through on his face. The fear dissipated just enough that he was able to get out of the car and charge up the stairs in a hurry. He opened the door, bursting through, and barely paid Kono any attention. If he did, he might falter and fall back to the nerves.

“Kono, can I talk to Grace?”

“Sure,” Kono said, suspicious. “Is everything okay? Where’s Danny?”

“Danny’s downstairs, everything’s fine, I just need Grace-time,” Steve said, as close as he got to rambling. He found his way to the side of the bed, a hand possessively claiming the storybook and resting it in his lap.

Kono took another look at Steve, but she crept out of the room slowly. It left Grace and Steve alone with big news on the tip of his tongue.

“You look scared,” Grace said, clutching her blankets up to her shoulders. “And happy. I thought you had to be one or the other.”

“You can be both,” Steve said, his voice shaking slightly. “Definitely, you can be both.” He clutched the storybook just a bit tighter. “Gracie, sweetheart, you like it when I’m around, right?”

Grace nodded enthusiastically, her hair bouncing up and down. Steve reached out to smooth it back behind her ear idly. “I love it!” she said. “Danno gets real happy and you always teach me new stuff and...and I love you,” Grace said, being thoughtful with the words like she didn’t want to get them wrong.

“Grace, what would you think if I told you that I was going to be around a lot more?” Steve asked, knowing that the chances of her disapproving were slim, but still possible.

Steve didn’t have to wait long for her answer. Even though she’d been lying on her back with the blankets fully on her a second ago, she was suddenly on her feet, throwing her arms around his neck and squealing as loudly as Steve had ever heard before, pressing kisses up and down his cheeks.

“Really?” she asked, laughing so hard that she had to stop and cough. “Really, really? You’re really staying? You won’t leave again?”

“I’m gonna stay with you and Danno and look for a job here,” Steve agreed, sweeping her up into his arms and raining down kisses on her hair. Instantly, he knew that he had made the right call. “You think that sounds okay?”

“Yeah!” Grace eked out in a decibel that Steve was sure only dogs could hear clearly. “Yes, yes, yes, stay with us, you have to stay, we miss you so much, I miss you so much, Daddy.”

Steve buried his face in her hair, trying to come to terms with the simple utterance of a name he hadn’t earned yet, but wanted so badly. “Grace, can you do me a big favor? A really, really big one,” he murmured, his words muffled by Grace’s hair.

“Okay,” she said breezily. “What is it?”

“Let me tell you a bedtime story?”

“Okay, but not the book,” Grace said, resettling under the covers. She curled up as comfortably as she could, reaching out to claim hold of one of Steve’s hands. “Kono just finished it and it’s my third time through.” A great yawn swallowed up her words, forcing Grace to repeat them. “Can you...can you make up a story?”

And so Steve began to tell the story of the ugly duckling princess, who was cursed to be both a duckling and ugly. He probably would have been better at this had he actually listened to the stories his mother read to Mary when she was a little girl.

As it was, he didn’t think he was doing such a bad job improvising. There were wild fencing fights, dastardly villains, and a handsome prince. He was just getting to the part of the story when the brave knight came along when he was distracted by her sleepy snuffling.

“Hey, I think she’s out,” Danny said, from the doorway.

Steve craned his neck around, raising a brow. “How long have you been standing there?” he whispered, gently extricating himself from Grace’s grip so he wouldn’t wake her. He tucked her in before creeping his way out of the room, gently shutting her bedroom door.

He followed Danny into the master bedroom, an idiotic grin on his lips that he couldn’t seem to shake.

“Long enough to hear that you have absolutely no idea how fairytales are actually supposed to work,” Danny replied with a bemused smirk. He reached down to grasp Steve’s hand, twining their fingers together, tugging him closer.

Steve noticed that there were several drawers pulled out and the closet was half-empty. Steve cast a curious look to Danny.

“While you were telling Grace bedtime stories, I was making some space so you could move in tomorrow first thing. No use delaying it, right?”

“Right,” Steve agreed, a blissful smile on his face. “I’ll phone my Dad first thing in the morning and find out what this job is that I can apply to.”

Danny had a curious look on his face. Steve had grown well-accustomed to Danny’s expressions and he felt as though he had a fairly good read on the endless array. Right now, this face said: ‘I’m having a thought’. Of course, it could also just be ‘I really wish I’d ordered pepperoni on the pizza’. Steve was still learning.

“What?” Steve asked suspiciously.

“What exactly did your Dad say when he pitched this job to you?”

“He just said it was in my neck of the woods,” Steve said, clueless. “Why?”

“Nothing, it’s just that he’s made a lot of comments about you coming home. He and the Governor, they’re like...” He crossed his fingers together, rubbing his middle finger up and down the index before releasing them. “So, the Governor, she comes to HPD and she asks John whether he wants to join her new task-force. John says no, he’s got enough to do at HPD. So then John recommends me and Chin. We have our interviews and the whole time, your father keeps talking about how you’d be perfect for this.”

“You think that’s it?” Steve asked, trying to picture himself on a local task force. “What exactly is the task force supposed to do?”

“Rid the island of scumbags, keep the peace, do dangerous missions. It’s a political thing so the Governor can help her election chances. I implied that they could use a detective like me amidst their ranks. You know, make sure everything is in order and someone knows how to read Miranda rights.”

Steve watched as Danny started to pull back the sheets. Danny was already in his pyjamas and Steve didn’t want to be far behind. He stripped off his shirt and pants, getting down to his boxers and thinking that was good enough, seeing as his bags were still down in the foyer.

“We could be working together,” Steve said, instantly liking the idea more. He checked the time, reaching a hand out. “Phone, Danny.”

“Jeez, how about a ‘please’ in there somewhere?” Danny mock-whined, but he was grinning. He stretched out over the bed to reach the landline, handing it out to Steve and kicking at the covers until he could loosen them. “What’re you doing?”

“I’m making a call.”

“Yeah, I can see that, Sherlock,” Danny said with a roll of his eyes. “Whom are you calling?”

The phone was already ringing and Steve held up one finger in the air as though it could effectively shush Danny (as if anything could ever do that). Steve straightened his posture, old habits kicking in hard. “Hello?”

His father sounded tired. It wasn’t that late, but Steve worried that maybe he’d woken the man up. “Dad, it’s me. I...” He licked his lips, trying to chase away the dry sensation working its way down his throat. “I’m staying.”

John paused, which just about killed Steve as he waited for the reply. “Are you sure about this, Steve?”

“Yeah. Dad, yeah, I’m sure,” he promised, eyes on Danny – who looked sated and blissful and amazing, sprawled out like that. Steve realized, belatedly, that he’d forgotten to eat and he hoped that Danny had managed to grab something. “I’m gonna stay. I’ll grab my stuff in the morning and move in with Danno. Can you...will you, do you think you could make that phone call about the job?”

There was a long pause on the other end. Steve started to worry that he was never going to be able to please his father, like he could never do anything but disappoint him. Then he heard it, the soft sigh of relief, and Steve knew what decision John had been hoping to hear.

“The Governor’s going to be pleased to hear this,” John said proudly. “She’s been looking for someone to head up her task force. Danny’s just a bit too young and lacks the experience of heading up missions. Chin doesn’t want it.”

“Danny’s on the team?”

That got Danny’s attention. Instantly, he bolted up from the bed and hurried to Steve’s side, pressing in tightly against him and leaning his cheek up against Steve’s to eavesdrop.

“Danny, Chin, a young policeman named Meka, and the Governor has her eye on Kono Kalakaua when she graduates in a year and a half. She needs someone to lead it. I suggested you, she asked if I could guarantee your interest, and I told her I’d find out. Are you sure?” John asked, one last time.

“Yes,” Steve said. “Dad, I’m gonna call you back tomorrow before we drop by. We’ll bring Grace.”

“You’d better,” John said.

When Steve wasn’t around, John had spent his fair time with Grace, and while Grace was developing fatherly affections for Steve, he couldn’t help but wonder what role John had taken in the young girl’s life.

Steve hadn’t really expected to give his father any semblance of grandchildren for a long time. Nothing about the Williams family went predictably, though.

Danny hung up the phone for him, tossing it to the nearest chair. He grabbed hold of Steve by the hips, turning him until they were facing each other. The glee on Danny’s face was impossible to miss and Steve nearly commented on it, but Danny didn’t even give him the chance. He leaned in, pressing a slow and heated kiss to his lips.

It was perfect. It felt victorious. It was familiar, and best of all, it wasn’t just one in a short countdown of kisses before Steve had to leave again.

“I got the job,” Danny crowed eagerly. “Steven, I got the job.”

“Yeah, you and me both,” Steve agreed with a laugh of disbelief. He bent down, pressing his forehead to Danny’s and feeling, for the first time, an inexorable sense of relief flooding through him. “Danny, I’m here. I’m staying. I’m home,” he breathed out.

The anxiety fell away. The doubt passed.

He’d made his decision.

tbc

cont'd

Date: 2011-05-28 09:38 pm (UTC)

Date: 2011-05-28 10:02 pm (UTC)
andrealyn: (himym: brotp)
From: [personal profile] andrealyn
♥ Thank you for reading!

Date: 2011-05-28 09:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kitmerlot1213.livejournal.com
This was lovely!

Good for Steve for making the right choice and deciding to stay in Hawaii and start a life with Danny.

I need to ask a question though. “She’s been looking for someone to head up her task force. Danny’s just a bit too young and lacks the experience of heading up missions. Aren't Steve and Danny the same age? Or does Steve's experience in the Navy count for more?

Keep up the great work on this fic :)

Date: 2011-05-28 10:01 pm (UTC)
andrealyn: (h50: i heart you)
From: [personal profile] andrealyn
Thank you for reading! And yes, for your question, even though they're the same age, Danny's age is more comparative in that case to Chin being older. Steve is like a whole other barrel of fish because he's had experience heading up task forces. So, even though they're the same age, Steve has a leg up. That said, if Steve had turned down the job, Danny wouldn't be experienced enough to be taking it.

Date: 2011-05-28 10:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] insanity--inc.livejournal.com
:;does happy dance:: yay!! He's staying!!

Date: 2011-06-04 12:34 am (UTC)
andrealyn: (h50: oahu sun)
From: [personal profile] andrealyn
♥ Thank you for reading!

Date: 2011-05-28 10:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nanichick-5.livejournal.com
OhmyfuckI'mapuddleofgoo...and I love you!!!! *smooshes*

Date: 2011-06-04 12:34 am (UTC)
andrealyn: (h50: bamf onna bike)
From: [personal profile] andrealyn
I'm glad you're enjoying it! Thank you for reading!

Date: 2011-05-29 04:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nini-darko.livejournal.com
this is gorgeous <3 <3 <3

Date: 2011-06-04 12:34 am (UTC)
andrealyn: (h50: whatre you gonna do)
From: [personal profile] andrealyn
Thank you so much for reading!

Date: 2011-05-29 06:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] abbeyrd62561.livejournal.com
I am so glad that finally after so long John finally laid it 0ut for Steve. And if that didn't do it Grace calling him daddy showed something. I'm also glad that Danny finally too, laid things out for Steve.
I love that they will be working together on the task force and Meka will be on it too. So happy Steve is staying. I said this before but I always love reading your stories....can't wait for more this is a story that is just so wonderful.......

Date: 2011-06-04 12:35 am (UTC)
andrealyn: (h50: light up light up)
From: [personal profile] andrealyn
I think of the entire, entire thing, I loved that talk the most because...well, John's just being a father.

Thank you so much for reading!

Date: 2011-05-29 03:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zap99nad.livejournal.com
Yay for Steve finally making the right choice, it took a couple of years, but he got there - luckily his father was able to knock some sense into him. Love how their relationship is growing (John and Steve).

Aw - Danny & Steve & Grace \o/

Really looking forward to the next chapter (but sad that it'll be ending :) )

Date: 2011-06-04 12:35 am (UTC)
andrealyn: (h50: light up light up)
From: [personal profile] andrealyn
♥ Just think, they'll always have a happily-ever-after (sort of).

Thank you for reading!

Date: 2011-05-29 08:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] loki256.livejournal.com
awww, that was so wonderfull! i really love how you have developed these two, i mean, talk about instant chemestry. plus i love how steve cant commit to staying untill he cant bear to go, leave it to steve to turn love into a strategic op (just like on the show XD).
but i am a bit worried for danny, hes glad he got the job now, but he hasnt seen steve on the job yet. just wait till steve starts chucking grenades at bank robbers and he'll be wishing he had fallen for an accountant... naw, that doesnt seem like his style, but he will still rant. im actually lookng forward to this danny's first cargument with steve, especially since this steve can just kiss him quiet if he needs to (tv-steve just wants to but is too chicken (oh god, im such a trope hound...))
great job! looking forward to the next part!

Date: 2011-06-04 12:35 am (UTC)
andrealyn: (h50: come over the hill)
From: [personal profile] andrealyn
Oh, he is totally, totally screwed the moment Steve becomes his actual partner. Poor Danny, indeed.

Thank you for reading!

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