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Before Your Love

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Ever since we met, Danny and I have been tap dancing around an attraction to each other and now that Don't Ask Don't Tell has been repealed I've decided to make my move at his New Year's Eve party. The traditional midnight kiss will be the perfect time to let him know just how I feel.

Once I've made my decision, I begin looking forward to the party. To spending time relaxing with my ohana and celebrating the coming year.

But the closer the day comes, the more anxious I get and then New Year's Eve arrives and I spend the day obsessively cleaning my house in between bouts of swimming in the cove. I'm a huge bundle of nerves by the time I finish dressing. I don't remember taking this much care with my appearance before a date when I was a teen, but then again I don't recall very many of my dates and the ones I do were nowhere near as important to me as this one night at Danny's house.

When I catch myself checking my hair in the rearview mirror after turning off the ignition when I arrive at Danny's new apartment, I grumble under my breath, "Get over yourself, McGarrett." Grabbing the two six packs of beer I brought, I climb down from the truck and head to the door. Despite helping Danny move in, this is the first time I've actually seen it since he finished unpacking.

A quick rap of my knuckles has the door swinging open to reveal a smiling Kono acting as hostess. My heart plummets as I jump to the conclusion that Danny and Kono have gotten closer during my recovery from my brief stay in North Korea while enjoying the hospitality of Wo Fat.

"Boss!" she exclaims a bit too loud, making me wonder if she's on her way to being drunk. "You made it."

I step inside, letting her close the door behind me. "Not exactly late." And I'm not. Not really. Even though the small apartment is full of people the party's only been going on for less than thirty minutes. "I brought beer," I say, raising my arms and showing her the two six packs I have in my hands. "Not that we need any more, right?"

She giggles and takes them from me. "Always need more beer."

Taking a casual look around, pretending I'm not looking for Danny even though I really am, I ask, "So, where's Danno?"

Her grin gets even wider, making my cheeks hurt in sympathy, and I know that I am now officially no longer fooling anyone. "In his bedroom with Grace. There was some kind of catastrophe."

"You know what kind?" She shakes her head and wanders off with the beer I brought in hand before I can say anything else. I make my way through the crush of people until I can get to the short hall that leads to the bedrooms. Danny's room is at the end of the hall. I stop in front of his door and knock lightly. "Danny? Is everything okay? Kono said there was a disaster with Grace?"

"Uncle Steve." Grace's voice is so pitiful that I have to fight the urge to kick the door down.

"It's open, Steve." Danny sounds like he's at the end of his rope and isn't sure which way's up anymore.

Turning the knob, I push the door open just far enough so I can step over the threshold before closing it behind me. "Is everything alright?" I ask again, taking in the father and daughter sitting on the end of the bed.

"It'll be okay, Monkey," Danny whispers, tightening his arm around her shoulders.

"Uncle Steve," Grace says softly, holding up something for me to see. "Can you fix it?"

I step closer until I can make out the headless body of a doll in one of her hands and the missing head in the other. "I don't know. What happened?" I kneel down in front of where they're sitting and accept the doll and head from her.

"Some of Auntie Kono and Uncle Chin's little cousins were playing with her and it turned into a fight and before I knew it they'd pulled her head off!" She sniffles loudly and wipes her nose on the back of her hand. "So can you fix it?"

"Hm," I hum, turning the doll's head over to look at where it would connect to the neck. I expect it to be hollow like Mary's Barbies but it's not. Dolphin Trainer Annie is obviously one of those dolls that have a solid connection between the head and the neck. While this makes it more difficult for the head to be removed, it also makes it impossible to put it back once it has been. I'm not sure how the head was removed but it caused considerable damage to the point that Annie now has a large crack cutting her neck cleanly in two.

Looking up at Danny I try and find a delicate way of telling Grace that Annie is a goner. With a deep sigh I say, "I hate to inform you of this, Miss Williams, but we did all we could. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough."

Her lower lip trembles. "Danno!" she wails, burying her face in his side.

"It's okay, Monkey," he coos, running one hand down her hair.

"Gracie?" I tap her on the knee to get her attention. When she raises her face and looks at me with her watery eyes, my heart clenches in my chest. "How about I take you to Toys-R-Us tomorrow and get you a new Dolphin Trainer Annie, as well as her boyfriend Lifeguard Mark and a new play set?"

"But it's New Year's!" she protests.

"So? I can guarantee they're gonna be open. Even if just for a few hours."

"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Danny interjects, holding his hands up. "I am not going into a toy store on a Sunday and most definitely not one that's also a holiday."

"But, Danno!" Grace sounds shocked that her father doesn't want to go replace her Annie doll.

"Really, Danno. It's just a store."

"On a weekend day and a holiday. You have any idea how crowded that place is gonna be, huh? Well, do you, Steven?"

Hiding a smile, I shrug one shoulder. "What difference does it make? It's not like it's Black Friday. Besides, we're just going in for a couple of things."

"A couple of-" Danny throws his hands up in the air and makes a sound of frustration low in his throat. "You, my friend, have obviously never stepped foot inside a toy store on a normal day, much less a holiday."

Sitting back on my heels and blinking in the face of his frustration, I try and placate him. "Fine. I'll take Gracie by myself."

He gives a bark of humorless laughter. "You wouldn't survive one second by yourself, SEAL or not."

"So,-" I clap my hands and stand up, holding out one hand for Grace to take. "-it's settled. We'll head out around 10 or 11. But first, we have a New Year to ring in."

Grace jumps from the bed and grabs my hand, then turns to hold the other out to Danny. "C'mon, Danno. It's party time!"

Apparently Danny's not as immune to Gracie's charm as he likes to think because his face softens and the smile that only Grace gets spreads across his face. "Okay, Monkey. Let's go be the perfect hosts and make sure our guests are comfortable and having a good time." He takes her tiny hand in his much larger one and lets her lead him from the room.

While Danny's new apartment is much larger than the one he was living in when we met, it's still much too small for the number of people attending the party. All the doors and windows end up being thrown open to try and combat the heat that so many bodies give off, but it doesn't work and soon everyone has a sheen of sweat on their faces and sweat stains on their clothes. But they're all having too good a time to care.

Grace, Danny and I end up getting separated and I spend most of the evening trying to find him again, while not appearing to be. Unfortunately I'm not successful, so I begin looking for Grace.

About ten minutes till midnight, I find her draped across Chin, Malia and Kono's legs looking for all the world like she just collapsed where she was sitting and the adults lowered her unconscious body into a more comfortable position. "I'll put her to bed," I yell into Chin's ear, reaching out for Grace's boneless body.

"Don't worry about it, Brah." Chin smiles affectionately down at the small body draped over his lap and waves me away. "She's fine where she is."

"If you're sure?" I was looking for an excuse to get out of the main crush of people and now feel slightly panicked at the prospect of not being able to make good my escape when Chin just nods.

Backing slowly away, I return his nod before turning and making a beeline for the patio door. For some reason this one door has remained shut and I manage to slip through and out into the fresh night air. Taking huge gulps of it, I lean my hands on the railing and stare out at the rather limited view of the ocean that Danny's new apartment boasts.

Some minutes later, the sounds from the party increase for a moment when the door behind me slides open and then dim again when it closes. I don't have to turn around to know who has joined me.

"Everything okay, Babe?" Danny asks, laying one hand lightly on my lower back.

I just barely repress the slight shiver that threatens at the heat from his palm. "Yeah, just needed some air." I'm proud of how my voice doesn't even waver. I know I came here tonight determined to show him just how I feel about him but I can feel my resolve crumbling with each second that passes. I know that I jumped to a ridiculous conclusion when Kono answered the door; the chances that she just happened to be closest when I knocked are greater than that her and Danny have become a couple, especially since he's showing signs of still harboring a thing for Rachel, but my heart doesn't seem to care.

"If that's the case, then why are you trying to strangle the railing?" He chuckles softly and rubs his hand in a small circle before removing it. I blink down at my hands to discover that I am indeed white knuckling the railing. I have no answer for his question so I just shrug and stand up straight, crossing my arms over my chest. "It's almost time. You sure you don't want to come back inside and watch?" He turns so that he can prop his hips against the railing and cross one ankle over the other as well as imitating my posture with his arms crossed over his chest.

I take a look from the corner of my eye and instantly wish I hadn’t. He looks incredible in a faded Newark PD tee and jeans so old they've molded to his muscled legs, the cuffs so frayed I can tell he wears them a lot while bare footed, like now. Licking suddenly dry lips and swallowing around a lump in my throat I shake my head. "It's getting to be too hot in there."

"Too hot-?" He gapes at me. "I'm sorry, did you just complain about the temperature in my apartment, Mr. I have no idea what air conditioning is?"

My lips begin twitching and I try to keep the smile, and laugh bubbling up in my throat, at bay. "Fine, there's too many people in there. Happy, now?"

"Really? This from a man used to being in tight quarters with three thousand other Army men?"

"Navy, Daniel. I'm in the Navy. Do I need to tattoo it on your forehead?"

"Navy, Army,-" He waves one hand absentmindedly. "-same difference."

My jaw drops open and my eyes bulge. "Please tell me you did not just say that."

He lifts his eyebrows. "Well, I could, but then I'd be lying and my ma raised me to be an honest man."

This time I can't stop the laughter from escaping, the conversation is just too absurd. But it fulfilled its intended purpose: it put me in a better mood. "But seriously, why is it so hard for you to remember I'm in the Navy?"

"Who says I don't remember?" He shrugs one shoulder. "Just because I keep saying 'Army'?" He cuts his eyes at me before rolling them. "Pfft. I do it because it yanks your chain."

"Oh," I mumble. I knew that but for some reason that simple piece of logic failed me just now.

"You got a problem with it?"

Tucking my hands in my front pockets, I rock back on my heels. "Nope. I like it. Do it every day."

He blinks at me for a moment before recognition hits and then he laughs, shaking a finger in my face. "I hate you, you know that, right?"

I nod, chuckling with him. "Yeah, I know. The feeling's mutual."

He rolls his eyes, again. "Of course it is."

We fall into a comfortable silence for several minutes and then he shifts a touch closer so that our arms are almost touching. "Twenty-twelve is going to be even better than twenty-eleven," he says with a sigh that leaves me wondering if he's making a prediction or saying a prayer.

"Yeah? How so?"

He looks up at me from the corner of his eye. "Well, I'm hoping to start a new relationship."

My heart skips a beat at his pronouncement before kicking into high gear while at the same time the bottom of my stomach falls out and yet I still manage to sound perfectly normal when I say, "Oh, yeah?"

He nods, lips pursed to try and hide the smile tugging at the corners. "Oh, yeah." This time his sigh is wistful and full of hope.

"Someone I know?" I ask despite knowing deep in my gut that it's Rachel.

The corners of his mouth dip and he tilts his head from side to side. "I'd say you know this person very well."

My brows lower in a frown of confusion. If I know this person very well then it's not Rachel. "Who is it?" I ask just as the people on the other side of the sliding glass door begin counting down from ten.

"Oh my, God. You can't possibly be this oblivious," he mutters just before grabbing a fistful of my shirt and turning me so he can wrap one hand around the back of my neck and pull me down so he can press his lips to mine. He takes me by surprise and that's what I blame for freezing for just a second; until I hear everyone inside his apartment shout "Happy New Year!" The spell is broken and I wrap my arms around his waist, pulling him tighter against me, and deepen the kiss, running my tongue along his bottom lip, urging him to open up.

I lose myself in the wonder of a first kiss; a kiss that is more than just my first with Danny but also my first with another guy. When I was twelve I found myself becoming aroused by my classmates in the showers after gym class and quickly learned how to hide it. Then when my mom was killed and I was sent to the mainland and military school, I learned how to repress and deny; especially once I decided that I wanted to join the Navy.

But then my dad was killed and I came home and met a loud-mouthed cop from Jersey who challenges everything I believe about myself and my sexuality. But now that DADT has been repelled I'm forced to re-examine everything and I've discovered my feelings for Danny go deeper than any I've ever had for anyone, male or female.

Danny starts to respond and someone moans and it looks like this year is going to get off to a better start than last year. Until we're rudely interrupted by the last voice I want to hear right now.

"You do know that everyone can see you, right?"

Danny and I spring apart as if we're doing something wrong. Wiping some spit off my chin with the back of my hand, I turn and face the person who has interrupted us. "Cath? What are you doing here?"

"Celebrating New Year's," she says like it's really that simple.

"I thought you were deployed." Kissing Danny must have addled my brains for me to not make the connection that she obviously got leave.

"I was. Got awarded an early leave." She pulls the sliding door closed behind her and I notice for the first time that everyone is staring out at the three of us.

"Grace?" Danny finally pipes up.

"Still sacked out across Chin, Malia and Kono's legs. Either she was really tired or is an extremely heavy sleeper because everyone yelling didn't even make her so much as stir."

"I should go check on her…" Danny steps around Cath and with a lust-filled look over his shoulder at me, opens the door and enters the apartment, closing the curtains and shielding Cath and I from everyone's curious eyes.

Rubbing one hand down my face, I lean back against the railing and with a sigh say, "That doesn't actually answer my question, Catherine."

"I wanted to surprise you so I stopped at Five-oh. Danny said you had already left and then invited me here."

I duck my head and sheepishly scratch at the back of my neck. "I didn't see you inside."

She laughs. "Little wonder. It's nearly impossible to see anyone in that crush. Especially when you only have eyes for a certain cop from New Jersey."

I can feel the heat of a blush creeping up my neck and say a prayer of thanks that it's too dark out for her to see it. "I don't-" I start to deny, old habits and all that, but stop myself with a chuckle. "Not very subtle, huh?"

"You actually know the definition of that word, Smooth Dog?" She joins me at the railing, bumping my shoulder with hers.

"Um, Cath-" I clear my throat and start again. "About Danny and I-" But she doesn't let me finish this time.

"What? You thought I'd be upset or jealous?" She rolls her eyes. "You obviously don't me all that well, McGarrett. Either that or you've forgotten we never were exclusive. Friends with benefits, I believe you said?"

"But there never was anyone else. At least not for me."

"Seriously? I have no idea how you got your call sign." She turns to lean one hip against the railing so she can poke me in the bicep with her finger. "I never asked you not to. And I know I never said the other, either. But now?" She sighs, wraps one hand around my upper arm and squeezes, her face softening in the glow from the fireworks exploding over the bay. "I've seen you with him, Steve. You never looked at me, or anyone else for that matter, the way you look at him. And from what I hear, the two of you fell into an easy rhythm from the first moment you met."

"Cath…" I seem to be having trouble swallowing. I shake my head because I can't possibly be this transparent.

Before I can figure out where I was going with that thought, and before Cath can say anything else, the drapes move, the door is slid open and Danny steps back out onto the patio. "Everyone's heading out. Want to come say bye?"

Cath and I both nod and follow Danny back inside. We make quick work of our good-byes and before I know it, it's just me, Cath and Danny.

"Well, I guess I should be going, too." Cath leans up to kiss the corner of my mouth and then leans down to kiss Danny's cheek and I notice for the first time that her height puts her in between Danny and me, height wise. I can hear Cath whisper something in Danny's ear to which he just grunts and teasingly growls, "I got it, Lieutenant!" and then she's out the door and it's just me and Danny.

Suddenly, I'm overtaken by nerves. I know I shouldn't be nervous, Danny and I have been alone hundreds of times. Of course none of those times were preceded by us sharing a down and dirty kiss. Plus, Danny's an honorable man. I know he won't try to force me to do anything I'm not comfortable doing. Well, not in the bedroom, that is.

"Stop looking like a virgin on his wedding night." As if reading my thoughts Danny's voice breaks the silence.

"I know I have nothing to worry about-" I begin. "But you're nervous all the same" he finishes for me. I nod, my guts twisted into a huge fucking knot.

"Oh, for crying out loud," he mutters, stepping closer in order to wrap one warm palm around the back of my neck, tugging until I get with the program and lower my head so he can nibble on my lower lip before sealing his mouth to mine and engaging my tongue in a lazy duel.

When I wrap my arms around his waist he goes up on his toes and presses his hips against mine, leaving me in no doubt as to just how much he's into this. Into me.

Slipping one hand into the hair at the back of his head, I hold him still so I can deepen the kiss, doing my level best to find out if he still has his tonsils or not.

With a moan of regret, he breaks the kiss and gentles me with nipping little kisses along my jaw when I whine at the loss. "Not here, Babe," he murmurs. I couldn't agree more. The hall outside Grace's room is not the ideal place for this.

I begin walking him backward toward his room, my lips tracing a line from his chin to his ear. Somehow my hands find their way under his shirt and seem to be obsessed with the thick mat of hair covering his chest and abdomen. When my fingers find, and tweak, a nipple he shudders, his breath escaping on a breathy groan. The sound goes straight to my dick and so my fingers go back again and again in order to make him make that sound again.

We almost tumble to the bed when the back of his knees hit the edge of the mattress. Only my planting my feet keeps us upright.

With the distraction of walking finished, I turn my attention to removing his shirt. While I've seen him undressed before, a communal shower after taking a plunge in a full dumpster, I didn't allow myself to look. Repress and deny is a hard habit to break but now that there is finally no longer a legal obstacle, I allow myself to look my fill once I get him out of the offending article of clothing.

"Like what you see, Babe?" Danny's laughing tone has my cheeks heating as I peek up at him through my lashes.

Encouraged by the fond look on his face I smile at him. The smile falters when his eyes narrow and I realize I've inadvertently used the smile that means I'm about to cost the taxpayers of Hawai'i a lot of money. "Steve…" he warns but I ignore it since I'm not planning on doing anything he'll object to.

With my most innocent face, I keep my eyes locked with his while attacking his fly. Fucking tease that he is, he's wearing button flies. I pop one button at a time, slowly. I can be a tease too. His breath hitches in his throat when the backs of my knuckles brush against his straining erection, serves him right for going commando.

I can't keep the smirk off my face when his pupils dilate with increased passion at the feel of my hand wrapped around him. "Steve…" he hisses, fingernails digging into the skin of my triceps.

Tugging him free from the confines of his jeans, I lick my lower lip and chuckle deep in my throat as the flesh in my hand twitches and his eyes go unfocused. "Yeah?" I lean in and whisper against his lips, figuring that some of the things that work for a woman will work for a man.

"We can't." He swallows thickly. "Not… not yet."

A Danno at a loss for words is a sight to behold. Makes me wonder if he'll be loud and talkative or silent during his climax. "You sure about that?" I give him a squeeze just to watch his eyes flutter closed.

"…slow," he mumbles.

"What's that, Danno? Couldn't understand you. Maybe if you backed up and started the sentence at the beginning…"

"Go slow!" he yelps and jumps when I slide my hand up his length.

"I am going slow."

He growls - actually growls - low in his throat. "No-" His voice breaks when I thumb the piss slit. "We … go slow."

"Still not following, Danno," I breathe against his ear even though I'm fairly certain I know what he's talking about now.

"We. Need. To. Go. Slow," he says each word slowly, as if saying them is causing him physical pain.

I lean back to pout at him. "You sure about that?"

He nods. "I seriously doubt you're ready for the physical side of this."

"What? You afraid I'll have some big gay freak-out, Danno?"

"Please don't call me that while you have your hand on my dick." He licks his lips before sucking the bottom one between his teeth when I twist my hand around the head. "And now that you mention it, yeah. Why aren't you freaking out?"

"I've wanted you since the moment you pulled your gun on me in my father's garage," I answer, leaning in to lick at his lips.

"Steven, please don't," he begs when I begin slowly sliding my hand up and down his length.

"You don't like it?" I put every ounce of fake hurt I can into my voice.

"No, no, I like it, it's just-" A sharp tug has his breath catching in his throat which has the added benefit of stopping the flow of words. "Not with my daughter asleep down the hall." He gets his ability to speak back too quickly for my liking but he does have a point. Now's really not the time. Reluctantly I release him and earn myself a kiss that is full of promises to make it up to me later. After we take Grace back to Rachel.

"So, not even making out?" I ask when he breaks the kiss and slips from my arms.

"Oh, we can do some, and I stress the 'some', but not too much. It's one a.m. and we'll need to be up in five or six hours to beat most of the rush to the store."

I'm still a little disappointed, especially when he drops his jeans in order to pull on a pair of boxers, but when he walks back over to me and pulls me down by my ears so he can lick his way into my mouth, I find I don't really care. Especially if he continues to suck on my tongue like it's a piece of candy.

I turn so that I can sit down on the bed, pulling him into my lap as I do. He pulls back to growl, "So not the girl in this, McGarrett!"

I chuckle and slide my hands up the backs of his thighs under the legs of his boxers. "Never said you were. Just got tired of bending down to kiss you. Plus, since you're smaller, it's easier for you to sit on my lap than it is for me to sit on yours."

"We'll see about that," he mutters, tugging on the hem of my shirt. "…off. Take …off." Once again he seems to have lost the ability to speak.

I assist him in removing my shirt, my arms getting caught in the sleeves when he decides he has to lick the tattoo on my right shoulder right the fuck now. "Dan…" I moan when his lips leave a fiery trail from my shoulder to my nipple. A gasp escapes when he bites down a bit harder than I expected.

Shoving my hands in his hair, I encourage him to explore to his heart's content. He's bent nearly double in order to lick at my navel by the time I become aware that he's pushing on my shoulders; that he wants me to lie back.

The second my back hits the mattress, he scoots back until he's sitting more on my knees than my thighs and proceeds to molest my belly button with his tongue. "D…" Now it's my turn to lose the ability to speak so I tug on his hair until he gives up on his goal of making me embarrass myself before he even touches my dick.

His beautiful blue eyes are just a thin ring of blue surrounding pupils blown wide and the animalistic side of me howls at the knowledge that I did - do - that to him. Before I can speak, he surges up to nip at my lips before shoving his tongue down my throat.

Pushing on his shoulders I manage to break the kiss and get him leaning back for enough for me to speak. "If we keep this up, I'm gonna come in my pants like a randy teenager."

His chuckle is pure evil and has a shiver racing down my spine to pool low in my belly. "Then by all means, let's get you out of these pants." He makes quick work of doing just that and before I know it, we're both lying on the bed pressed chest to chest with nothing between us but our boxers.

"I meant it, Steve," he says. "We're gonna take this real slow."

I frown at him because just a moment ago he was trying to remove my tonsils with his tongue. I idly draw patterns on his left hip with the fingers of my right hand. "How slow is 'slow'?"

"Remember how you were with your teenage girlfriends before you decided you were ready to have sexual intercourse?"

One brow climbs my forehead. "That's slow."

He shrugs one shoulder. "Be that as it may, I refuse to fuck this up by going too fast." Well, now, that's unexpected. I had no idea he felt that way about us.

"When you put it that way…" I murmur, closing the distance between us so I can kiss him.

Considering how frantic we were just moments ago, I fully expect the spark to flare to life again and so am surprised when he keeps our kisses slow and almost lazy but no less passion filled for all that.

After several minutes, he abruptly rolls away onto his back. "Danny?" I question, afraid I did something wrong.

"I think it's time to go to sleep," he replies, slipping under the covers and turning his back.

I blink up at the ceiling in the dim room before following his lead and rolling over the other way and closing my eyes since he's giving off a 'don't touch me' vibe.

It takes me way too long to fall asleep and so it is with a grumpy attitude that I wake to "Uncle Steve!" screamed at full volume just seconds before Grace's full weight lands on my back, telling me she launched herself at the bed when she saw me lying in it.

"Grace Elizabeth!" Danny's sharp rebuke sounds from the direction of the bathroom. A quick glance at the bed beside me confirms that Grace and I are the only ones in it.

"It's okay, Danno," I say, rolling over to attack her ticklish sides with my fingers. Her squeals of laughter make the pounding in my head increase, but I don't care. I'll do anything to put off looking at Danny and seeing the regret in his eyes.

"Hey, Grace?" Danny calls for her attention. "Why don't you go get dressed, hm? Uncle Steve and I will be out in a minute, okay?"

"Okay, Danno." With a peck to my cheek she climbs off the bed and skips from the room, closing the door behind her.

"She knows better than to jump on people like that," Danny says once we're alone again.

"Like I said, Danny, It's fine. She didn't hurt me." Not like you, I can't help but think.

"Listen, about last night," he begins but I don't want to let him finish. I can't let him finish that sentence.

"Forget about it. I understand. You got caught up in the heat of the mo-" Danny's hand slaps down on my face, directly over my mouth, cutting off the flow of words.

"No, listen, you fucker!" he hisses. Taking a deep breath he opens his mouth, closes it, rolls his eyes and starts over. "About last night. I wanted - God, how I wanted! - to finish what we started. But not with Grace in the house. I need to explain to her about alternate sexual preferences, first."

I blink at him until he removes his hand with an apologetic grimace. "You have to, what, now?"

He sighs. "I need to explain that I like men, too."

"You don't think she's figured that out?"

"I'll let this pass since you're not a father. I know Grace knows about the different sexualities from TV and her friends' parents but she doesn't know about me."

"And this matters?"

"Yes. No. I don't know! Fuck, Steve. My last relationship with a guy was in college and he was even more in denial than you so we mostly hung out in our room, fucking."

"I see. So you're afraid Grace won't understand about us?"

"No. But I want to explain that we're now a couple. Not to mention I need to tell Rachel."

"How will she react?" I ask, slipping from the bed and pulling on my clothes.

"She should be fine with it. So long as we don't make out in front of Grace."

"She knows you're - you know?"

Danny rolls his eyes so hard my headache throbs in protest. "You can say it. It's not a bad word. Bi-sexual. I'm bi-sexual, Steven. And yes, Rachel knows."

I open my mouth to ask if him and Rachel ever had a threesome, a question that I really don't want the answer to at this time yet find myself unable to stop thinking about, but am saved from embarrassing myself by Grace rushing in again.

"C'mon, Danno, Uncle Steve!" She urges us to move faster by tugging on our hands. "C'mon!"

"Easy, Monkey," Danny says with a chuckle. "We need to have breakfast first."

"Not hungry. You, Uncle Steve?"

Danny and I share a look over her head and I decide to play along with Danny. "I could eat."

"Uncle Steve!" she screeches, making me wince at the renewed throbbing behind my eyes.

Her expression is so full of hurt that I find myself unable to continue tormenting her. "If it's okay with Danno, I'm sure we could grab McDonald's on the way," I say picking her up and tucking her on my hip.

She wraps her arms around my neck and her legs around my waist. Propping her chin on my left shoulder she pouts at Danny. "Can we, Danno?"

I can see Danny roll his eyes in the mirror over the dresser. "Fine. Just this once." She squeals her delight right in my ear and tightens her hold on my neck.

We file out of the apartment, Grace still in my arms and as we step out onto the front stoop, I'm struck by how much I want this. Want a family with Danny. Want to be Grace's step-dad. Want a child of my own who is also Danny's.

After my dad sent me to the mainland after my mom died, I decided to never marry and have kids. In my mind falling in love just lead to heartbreak and having to emotionally hurt your kids in order to protect them. But seeing Danny with Grace and the lengths he'll go to in order keep her safe and happy, and finding myself feeling the same way, has shown me that the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages.

I turn to watch Danny lock the door and decide to just go for it. "Hey, D? We need to have a serious conversation after we drop Baby Girl here at Rachel's."

"We need…" He chuckles and shakes his head. "I do believe I already told you that."

"No, I mean-" I falter to a stop when I realize I have no clue how to express what I'm feeling with words so I settle for something I know he'll understand: I lean forward and press my lips to his, keeping it chaste because of our audience.

"Seriously?" he yelps, pulling back. "Do you have to out me to everyone?"

"If I remember correctly, you kissed me first last night. In front of the patio doors. With the curtains open."

"That's different."

"How so?" His mouth opens and closes like a fish out of water. "No, really, Danno. Tell me, how is it different that you outed me last night? Hm?" I hitch Grace higher on my hip and settle all my weight on the opposite foot. When he continues to flounder for an answer, I roll my eyes and say, "Just as I thought."

Grace has been quiet during the entire exchange, her little head twisting back and forth between us like she's watching a tennis match. "Uncle Steve?" Her voice is soft, almost like she's afraid speaking too loud will cause Danny to start yelling.

"Yeah, Baby Girl?" I hitch her high enough on my hip so I can press my forehead to hers.

"Does this mean you and Danno are boyfriends?"

"I don't know, Grace." I turn to Danny, my best puppy eyes face on and ask. "Are we boyfriends, Danno?"

Danny turns imploring eyes skyward. "Yes, we're boyfriends."

Grace squeals again in my ear and bounces up and down in my arms. "Does this mean you're gonna get married?"

"No, this does not mean we're getting married," Danny answers, reaching out to take Grace from my arms.

"But…why? Don't you love Uncle Steve, Danno?"

"Yeah, Danno,-" I can't help but tease him. "-don't you love me?"

"Love has nothing to do with it. It's not legal for us to get married."

"Maybe not in Hawai'i," Grace is too smart, sometimes.

"Sure we could go to another state, but Hawai'i wouldn't recognize it." I love how he doesn't talk down to Gracie; how he treats her like a little adult.

"Well, that's just stupid," she declares, squirming for Danny to put her down.

"Out of the mouths of babes," I mutter, following the two of them to my truck.

After assisting Grace with her seatbelt, Danny turns to me and holds out one hand. "Keys," he demands, snapping his fingers.

Reactively, I hold them behind my back. "No," I respond, a childish note in my voice.

"What? Don't trust me with your precious truck?"

"No-" I begin but falter to a stop, knowing that he'll see whatever I say for the lie that it is.

"You drive my car all the time. Only fair I get to drive yours."

"I drive your car for work, Daniel, because I'm the boss."

He rolls his eyes. "My partner back in Jersey was above me in rank and I drove because of it. Now give me the damn keys."

"It's my personal vehicle, Danny, and I said no." I know I'm being beyond childish but I don't care. And yes, I also know that it's my control issues that are keeping me from letting him drive today. Or any other day for that matter.

"Steven…" His voice takes on a parental tone, the kind that no matter how old you are or who the parent is, makes you instantly obey.

Only this time I can't give in. This is my truck, the first vehicle I've ever bought with my own money. "Daniel," I counter, using my best commander's voice.

We have a face off for several minutes until Grace, obviously, grows weary of watching us stare at each other and honks the horn, just lays her tiny little hand on it and leans with all her weight.

Danny and I have identical reactions: we jump, clamp our hands over our ears and turn to stare at the once sweet little girl now grinning innocently at us from the driver's seat of my truck. "Time's a' wasting!" she yells, still not letting up on the horn.

"Enough with the horn, Monkey!" Danny hollers, opening the closest door, which happens to be the passenger door, and climbing in so he can haul her into his lap where they engage in a brief tickle battle before he gets her resettled in the middle of the backseat.

"Do I have to lay on the horn, Steven?" Danny pokes his head out of the door to ask. "Because I will."

The little men with pickaxes in my head have just now gone on break and I don't want them starting up again, so I shake my head and round the truck to climb behind the steering wheel.

"So, to the Army/Navy store, right?" I ask, meeting Grace's eyes in the rearview mirror as I start the engine.

"No, Uncle Steve!" she giggles. "The toy store!"

"Oh! Silly me! I thought we were buying some camping gear."

"You're so silly, Uncle Steve!"

"I know." We share one last smile in the mirror before I turn my attention to backing out of the parking spot and pointing the truck in the direction of the nearest Toys-R-Us.

I'm enjoying the quiet when all of a sudden "Danno and Steve sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Danno with a baby carriage!" issues from the backseat.

Danny tenses at the first note from Grace's mouth and he turns incredulous eyes on me, his mouth hanging open. "She's your daughter," I say with a shrug.

"Why am I the one with the baby carriage?" he demands, turning to mock glare at Grace.

She just grins unrepentantly, the brat, and says in a tone that suggests butter wouldn't melt in her mouth, "'Cause you're smaller than Uncle Steve."

"That does not make me the girl!"

"It's just a song, Danno." Grace's eyes fill with tears and her lower lip begins to quiver.

Danny obviously knows his daughter well because he just rolls his eyes and says, "Please. That no more hurt your feelings than the song hurt mine."

She giggles, one hand pressed to her mouth as if to keep the sound inside and her shoulders hunched up around her ears. "Silly Daddy!"

Danny chuckles with her and turns back around. We share a smile when she begins singing again. "Steven and Danno sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Steven with a baby carriage!" before dissolving into a fit of laughter as if she's told the funniest joke in the history of the world.

Danny and I join her laughter, both shaking our heads at her silliness. The rest of the drive is spent with her planning our wedding for when Hawai'i 'stops being stupid' and allows us to marry legally. I think she just wants to be the flower girl. Not that I don't think she'd be thrilled if I were to be able to marry her dad, just that she's too young to truly understand.

The toy store is in a strip mall with dozens of other stores that families visit in their free time. And as such, the parking lot is so full that we have to park closer to McDonald's, which is at the edge of the lot closest to the street, than I want.

"I warned you, Steven," Danny says as we enter McDonald's and see that the lobby is over packed with families grabbing a quick breakfast.

The screams of the kids in the play area echo through the building and have the little men in my head pounding away at the back of my skull again. "It's not that bad, Danny."

"Not that…" If I didn't know that Danny passed his last physical with flying colors I'd be worried about his blood pressure right about now. "Look around you! This-" He twirls one finger in the air to indicate the whole restaurant. "-is not even half of what you can expect at the toy store."

"Danno?" Grace, bless her, tugs on the hem of Danny's shirt and stops the impending rant.

Danny looks down and father and daughter have one of those silent conversations that only people who know each other well can have. "Thought you were in a hurry to get to the toy store," he says in response to what I can only guess is her silently asking to go play.

"Oh, right." She laughs a little at herself and turns to read the menu board, chewing on her lower lip and holding both our hands.

I see more than a few wistful smiles directed our way and I know people think we're a family. And I'm extremely inclined to let them. Looking down at the little girl I love like she was my own flesh and blood, I feel a rush of emotion I don't want to examine right now so I push it aside. "You decide what you want, yet, Baby Girl?"

"I can't really see the menu. Pick me up." She drops Danny's hand in order to climb me like a tree. Knowing from past experience that trying to help her will only result in her getting huffy, I just brace my feet and make sure she doesn't grab something she shouldn't.

"Does that often, does she?" a pretty girl in her mid-twenties asks with a smile.

"He's taken," Grace tells her with a scowl.

I blink at the hostile note in her voice. "Grace Williams," I scold, doing my best to imitate Danny's tone whenever he has to do the same. "You apologize right this minute!"

She turns a mulish expression to me, crosses her arms and huffs. "Now, young lady, or we'll go home right now." Tears begin to gather in her eyes and I have to fight the urge to give in. She's such a sweet-tempered girl that I've never had to scold her before. I have no idea how Danny does it.

The seconds begin to stretch to a minute. "Grace…" I warn, starting to turn toward Danny to inform him that we're leaving and why.

"It's okay," the woman says. "I saw you with your partner earlier." She ducks her head to make eye contact with Grace. "I know your daddy's taken. I wasn't flirting with him. I swear." Grace unbends, just a little.

"No, it's not okay. She's old enough to know better," I say, turning Grace in my arms so I can look her in the eye. "I'm going to count to three and then we're telling Danno that we're leaving and why. Or rather, you are."

The change in her demeanor is near instantaneous. "I'm sorry, ma'am," she says quickly. "Please, Makuakane, don't tell Danno!"

"You'll behave?" I ask. She nods, very real tears appearing in her eyes for the first time all day. "Okay." I turn back to the woman who is still smiling at us. "I do apologize for her behavior."

"Pfft." She waves my apology away. "Good looking guy like you must get hit on all the time. She's just staking her, what does she call him, Danno?" Grace and I nod. "-her Danno's territory. She's fine. My wife-" She points at a very pregnant woman sitting at a table in the play area wiping ketchup off the face of a toddler. "-sent me to get another Sausage McGriddle."

"You got a good looking family."

She beams. "Yeah, I know. You got a good looking one, too. Little bear like yours must keep you on your toes."

I have no idea what that means so I just nod and say, "Yeah."

She sighs and looks fondly at her family. "This kid seems to love those things," she says, almost to herself as we shuffle forward a couple of steps.

"Well, they are very good."

"Yeah, but she's a vegetarian."

"How's she dealing with that?"

"By telling herself it's for the baby."

"Good luck with that," I say as one of the teenagers behind the counter calls for next in line and Danny steps forward.

"Nice talking to you," the woman calls and I nod back before setting Grace on her feet and resting one hand on her shoulder and the other on the small of Danny's back.

He gives his order, then looks over his shoulder at me. "Where've you been?" he asks like he wasn't standing two feet from me the whole time.

"Grace couldn't see the menu so I picked her up."

He inclines his head in understanding and motions for me to order, pulling out his wallet before I can even twitch a finger in the direction of mine.

We manage to get our food rather quickly considering how busy they are and eat it while walking across the parking lot. Or rather Grace eats hers first while Danny and I take turns holding her drink, then eat ours once she's done.

Danny pauses at the entrance to the store, the back of one hand pressed to my chest to get me to stop next to him. "I'm warning you, Steven. This will be worse than anything you've ever experienced before."

"I've been to war, Daniel. I think I can handle an overcrowded toy store." I roll my eyes because, really? Does he not trust me to know what I can handle?

He sighs. "Don't say I didn't warn you," he mutters before stepping through the automatic doors, Grace skipping along right beside him.

I follow and then come to a halt just a few steps inside. The noise is near deafening, and here I thought the flight deck of an aircraft carrier was loud. There's music blaring from invisible speakers, kids screaming and crying and parents yelling at their kids, each other and the employees.

It takes Danny a few seconds to realize he's lost me but when he does, he comes back, a smug grin tugging the corners of his mouth. "You were saying, GI Joe?" he laughingly asks.

I scowl at him. "Shut up," I say and march past him to where Grace is bouncing in place. I pick her up and deposit her on my shoulders, clamping my hands tight on her ankles.

"She can walk, Steven." Danny's voice sounds like he's positive I've done gone round the bend for sure this time.

"And risk getting lost in this!?" I demand incredulously, shifting one arm to hold both her legs so I can indicate the whole store with the other.

Danny bites his lip to keep what I'm sure would be a very unmanly giggle at bay. "Babe," he chokes out before clearing his throat and trying again. "Babe, she's used to this. She knows to hold my hand like her life depends on it."

I tilt my head back and look down my nose at him. "I don't care. She's too precious to just let roam around."

"Roam…" he starts spluttering, then stops and puts one hand to his head like he caught my headache. "Ya know what? Forget it. Just forget it." He waves one hand regally. "You two go pick out the toys. I'll meet you at the registers." He points over his shoulder at the exit door.

"But, Danno!" Grace whines from her perch on my shoulders.

"I didn't say we were leaving, Monkey. I just refuse to tackle that mob with you. So, go." He waves us off again. "Just remember, McGarrett, that's my daughter on your shoulders. Guard her with your life." As if I don't already.

I give a sharp nod and would have saluted if not for making sure Grace doesn't fall off. "Lead the way, Princess Grace," I say, giving her ankles a squeeze.

She tucks her feet behind my back under my shoulder blades, causing me to shift my grip to her legs just below her knees, and stacks her hands on top of my head. "To the left, Makuakane." Having her call me 'dad', especially in Hawaiian, has something uncurling deep in my gut and makes me realize that deep down I never stopped wanting to be a father.

Turning to my left, I follow her directions. I can feel her squirming and then I'm tightening my hold on her legs to prevent her from falling off as she all but stands up. "Grace!" I say a bit sharper than I intend.

"Just trying to see if they have any left," she says, tears thickening her tone.

"Please, don't. If something was to happen to you…" I don't finish the sentence, knowing she'll understand.

"Sorry," she mumbles, slumping with her arms hanging by my face.

"It's okay. Just… be careful, okay?"

"'Kay," she answers, voice devoid of any of its usual cheer. But then she perks right up. "To the right! This aisle right here!" She pats me on the head with her right hand.

The aisle she wants me to enter is crammed full of parents and kids and just shy of being controlled chaos. "You sure about that, Baby Girl?" I ask, hoping she'll say no but knowing she'll say yes.

"Yes!" She bounces as much as she can without making her perch on my shoulders any more precarious. "About half way down, Makuakane." Taking a deep breath, I cautiously enter the aisle and begin weaving my way around the knots of people examining the toys for sale on the shelves. "There! On the left!" Grace's right hand appears in my line of sight, pointing off to my left while she pats the left side of my head with that hand.

"Not a horse, Grace."

She giggles. "But I'm riding you like one." Okay, so she has a point.

Stooping down, I lift her from my shoulders. "Which ones do you want?"

She scoops a Dolphin Trainer Annie doll that's identical to the one that was broken from the shelf before moving down a little and picking up a Lifeguard Mark doll. Her head swivels around, her little brow furrowed. "I can't find the play set I want," she grumbles.

"They may be all sold out, Ku`uipo." I try to stop the impending temper tantrum I can see coming.

"No," she whines, tears starting to gather but before a single one can fall, her face brightens. "There! There's one left!" And she's off like a shot for a spot on the other side of the aisle before I can even register what she's said.

"Grace!" I shove my way between people in pursuit of her. "Don't take off like that!"

"It's mine!" Grace's screech has me on even higher alert and with one last person shoved out of the way, I find her in a stand-off with a forty-something woman, both holding on to one end of a Sea World play set.

"I had it first, ya little brat!" the woman snarls, tugging hard enough to pull Grace forward a few steps.

"Excuse me? What's going on here?" I demand stopping behind Grace, standing at my full height with my arms crossed over my chest and my scariest scowl on my face.

"This is none of your business," the woman says without even looking at me. "Where are your parents, haole?"

"That man behind me is my makuakane and he's being deployed again next week. He missed Christmas and this. Is. My. Gift!" Grace says, pulling on her end of the toy with all her might. Either the woman doesn't expect her to pull so hard or what Grace said surprises her because Grace is able to get the toy out of the woman's hands and pass it to me over her head. "Mine!" she says one more time with an emphatic nod.

The woman finally looks at me with shock and embarrassment on her face. "I'm so sorry, Koa! Of course she can have it."

I clench my jaw to keep from telling her that I'm not being deployed. Grace sniffling brings her back to my attention and I kneel down to wrap my arms around her. "It'll be alright, Keiki," I murmur into her hair.

"It's just not right. The government letting you guys come home for such short periods of time before sending you back." The woman obviously thinks Grace's tears are because of my 'deployment'.

"Yeah, well, I'm a SEAL. It's kinda the job description."

"Yes, well, Mahalo for your service." She dips her head, gives me a tight smile and quickly melts away into the crowd.

"I should punish you for lying to that woman," I say, picking Grace and her armful of toys up and carrying her swiftly out of the aisle toward the exit where Danny said he'd be waiting.

"But you're not gonna." Grace's voice is full of confidence. And damn if she isn't right.

"No, I'm not. But I should." I sigh deeply as I realize that she has me wrapped around her little finger and that is so not a good thing.

"mahalo, Makuakane," she says sweetly with a kiss to my cheek.

I roll my eyes and silently berate myself for not being stronger where she's concerned. "Just don't ever do it again, okay?"

"Okay!" She kisses me again since her arms are full and she can't hug me. "There's Danno!" she exclaims, craning her neck to see better.

"I see you survived unscathed," Danny says, eyeing me up and down before taking the toys from Grace's arms when we join him in line.

"Just barely," I mutter, hitching Grace up to get a better grip on her. There's no missing Danny's smirk as he turns to face the front of the line.

"I told you so," he sing-songs, wiggling his shoulders.

"Bite me, Daniel." He grins at me over his shoulder.

"He did real good, Danno," Grace comes to my defense.

"Glad to hear it." Danny looks me up and down again. "You planning on carrying her for the rest of the day?"

"Was thinking of it. What difference does it make?"

"I happen to know just how much she weighs."

"Navy SEAL, Daniel," I say.

"As if that means anything to me."

"It should. The pack I carry on missions weighs nearly twice as much as her. She's fine."

"I don't mind standing, Uncle Steve." I know she's back to calling me 'Uncle Steve' because of Danny but it still hurts. With a kiss to her cheek, I set her on her feet between Danny and me, placing my hands lightly on her shoulders.

The rest of our time in the store is done in silence and before too much longer we're in front of the cashier, paying and then back out in the truck, heading home.

Normally Danny takes Grace back to Rachel around lunch on Sunday but since tomorrow's the last day of Christmas vacation, Rachel agreed that Danny could keep her until dinner. Having the rest of the day to be with her, we stop at Kamekona's for a leisurely lunch of grilled coconut shrimp and then take the scenic route back to Danny's so Grace can play with her new toys.

The sun is beginning its descent in the sky when Danny gets up from his spot next to Grace on the ground, grunting and groaning at the protesting from his knee. "Okay, Monkey," he says, a note of sadness tingeing his tone. "Time to clean up so we can take you back to your mom."

"Do we have to, Daddy?" It's very obvious that father and daughter love each other a lot and truly enjoy spending time together.

"You know we do." Danny leans down and presses a kiss to her hair.

We've just started emptying the water in the play set when a knock sounds on the door. Danny and I share confused looks, then he makes his way to the door. Unexpected visitors really set law enforcement officers' nerves on edge and it's even worse when Grace is around. But even so, Danny doesn't go for his gun, mostly because he doesn't want to scare Grace.

"Who is it?" he stands to the side of the door and asks.

"Rachel." Even from my place on the patio, I can hear Danny grinding his teeth at the answer.

"I still have an hour, Rach." He throws open the door to glare at his ex-wife.

"I know," she replies with a sigh and I can see her visibly bracing herself for an impending rant as she steps over the threshold. "But Stan has clients in town and they have a daughter Grace's age."

"You should have called."

"And given you the chance to say you didn't hear your phone ring?" She knows him so well.

Before Danny can respond, Grace spies her mother and with a "Mommy!" yelled at full volume, throws herself across the room at her mother. "Come see what Uncle Steve bought me!" Grace tugs on Rachel's hand, slowly walking her back across the apartment to the open patio door.

"Steve," Rachel greets with a smile.

"Rachel." I've never not liked Rachel, even before I met her and only had Danny's side of things, but I will always be firmly on Danny's side against her. "How was your New Year's?"

"Good. Relaxing. Yours?"

"Not so much on the relaxing," I say, tipping my head in Grace's direction. "But good."

She laughs. "Yes, well, children tend to prohibit relaxation."

"Eh." I shrug. "She's a good kid. Couldn't love her more if she were my own."

Rachel's eyes take on a hard glint but her smile doesn't so much as falter. "That's nice to hear." Grace's tugging on her hand and pointing at the play set finally gets her attention. "As if you need another Dolphin Trainer Annie doll." The glint in her eyes is now in her voice.

"Considering the other one's broken, I'd say she does." Danny jumps to my defense.

"Along with Lifeguard Mark and a Sea World play set!" Grace pipes up, jumping up and down. "Isn't it neat?"

Rachel eyes her daughter before turning a disapproving frown on Danny. "Just how much sugar has she had?"

"No more than usual. We had McDonald's for breakfast, Kamekona's shrimp for lunch and one of Steve's fruit smoothies just a bit ago for a snack."

"There's no sugar in them is there?" She turns her frown on me.

"Just the natural kind. I used strawberries, bananas, yogurt and ice."

"So she's bouncing off the walls, because…?"

"She's nine?" Danny's snarky comment surprises a snort of laughter out of me which earns me a narrow eyed look from Rachel.

"And been in your company too long." It's obvious that last was directed at me.

"I like playing with Uncle Steve, Mommy." Grace is starting to breathe harder as she continues to jump around us. "He lets me climb on him." And to show just what she means, she starts climbing me just like she did at McDonald's this morning.

"You shouldn't let her do that." Rachel plucks Grace from where she's hanging on my back.

"She's fine, Rachel," Danny says, the eye roll heavy in his voice.

"She needs to act like a lady."

"There are studies that show that roughhousing is good for a child's psyche as well as their confidence." Danny takes Grace from Rachel for one last hug before putting her down and shooing her off to get her stuff. "Especially girls from broken homes who only see their fathers a few days a week."

Rachel bites her lip to keep from encouraging him with a smile. "You are so full of shit, Daniel," she mock scolds.

"It's true. I saw it on the news," he counters.

"And everything on the news is the truth." It's obvious Rachel isn't going to give an inch but she is charmed in spite of herself.

"Before Grace comes back, Steve and I have something to tell you." Danny glances over his shoulder in the direction of Grace's room.

"What is that?" Rachel crosses her arms over her chest and I can tell she's expecting the worst.

"Steve and I… we're…" Danny looks to me for assistance. I just shake my head; she's his ex so it's up to him to tell her. "Steve and I are dating."

She raises her eyebrows. "And?"

Danny and I share a confused look. "What do you mean, 'and'?"

Now it's Rachel's turn to roll her eyes. "Anyone with eyes can see that the two of you have had a 'thing'-" She actually uses the finger quotes. "-since you first laid eyes on each other."

"You're not upset?"

"Upset? Why would I be upset, Daniel? I've known you're bi-sexual for years, remember?"

"Yeah. But you don't seem to like Steve half the time."

"Hey!" I can't just stand by and let them talk about me right in front of me.

"It's true. Ever since we crashed your house to spy on those crooks that were renting the house next door, you've acted like he's a pet you barely tolerate at the best of times."

"That is not true!" She turns to face me. "You have to believe me, Steve."

"Do I?" I ask as it occurs to me just what Danny means.

Rachel sighs. "You have to understand where I'm coming from, Steve. You spend a lot of time with my daughter and you are a trouble magnet."

Anger flares deep in my gut. "Are you going to fight us on this?"

Rachel looks shocked that I'd ask such a question. "Whatever makes you think I'm that petty, Commander?"

Ooo, I must have hit a sore spot for her to use my rank. "Gee, I don't know." I shrug. "The fact that you tried to have Danny's visitation rights revoked after a gang shoot-out erupted at a football game he just happened to be at. Despite the fact that his quick thinking saved countless lives."

"And I do believe the Governor stepped in and threatened Stan's career if I didn't drop the suit."

"She threatened…" Danny turns to me. "Tell me you didn't ask her to do that."

"I told you that I merely mentioned that Stan was in need of some permits for his new hotel." I shrug, refusing to feel guilty for having a hand in making sure Danny didn't lose access to Grace.

"Then how'd she know about the suit, hm, Commander?" Rachel crosses her arms over her chest and taps the toes of one foot.

I cross my arms over my chest as well and stand to my full height. "I may have mentioned that Stan's married to you, Danny's ex, and that there may or may not be an issue with his visitation due to something that was beyond his control."

"I can't believe you!" Danny explodes, shoving as hard as he can on my crossed arms.

"Danny?" I'm thoroughly confused. When I told him about my part in getting Rachel to drop the suit back when it happened, he thanked me and now here he is all pissed off.

"You had no right."

"I had every right. You're my partner. I need you at the top of your game and you're not there when your access to Grace is threatened." He seems to actually be thinking about what I've said. "The Governor happened to agree with me. She was a firm believer in that family makes a person stronger."

"Danny may be able to forgive you, but I can't. You interfered with my protecting my daughter." Rachel appears to be building up a good head of steam but Danny steps in and defuses the situation.

"Tell me one time Grace has come to harm while in my care. Just one." He waves a finger in the air in front of her face.

A muscle in Rachel's jaw jumps when she grinds her teeth. "She hasn't. Yet."

"Rachel," Danny says softly. "She's at her safest with me and you know it."

"Plus she makes Danny happy. And he deserves to be happy. Wouldn't you agree?" I know I've backed her into a corner but frankly, I don't fucking care.

She meets my eyes and I know she's aware of what I did. If she says no, which she so desperately wants to if just to be ornery, she comes off as a bitch but if she says yes she basically takes away her ability to manipulate Danny with Grace. "Of course he does which is why I'm happy for the both of you." We give her twin looks of disbelief. "No, really. I am." When we continue to just stare at her she sighs. "Look, I know how difficult it is to find love once, much less twice, so I say grab on with both hands and don't let go. And you, Commander-" She points a finger in my face causing me to go cross-eyed. "-you have the ability to hurt not one but two people I love. So don't fuck it up."

Danny and I share a look, shocked at her use of the F-word. "Yes, ma'am," I mumble, just barely refraining from saluting her.

"That was uncalled for, Rachel," Danny says, frowning.

"No, it wasn't." Rachel steps closer to Danny and kisses his cheek. "I'll always love you and I refuse to let anyone hurt you."

I bite my cheek so hard my mouth is in danger of filling with blood to stop myself from saying, "Except you, huh?"

"Except for you, right?" But Danny has no qualms about mentioning it.

Rachel's face pinches in pain at the reminder. "I thought we'd agreed to never mention that again, Danny."

"You can't tell him he can't hurt me when you've done it. Twice." He shoves two fingers in her face.

"I'm sorry, okay? I was in a bad place last year."

"Just saying. If he's not allowed to hurt me, then neither are you."

"Fine," she huffs.

"So, you're not going to fight us?" I try to get the conversation back on track.

"No. You both seem really happy to be together and Grace loves you, Steve. Speaking of, have you told her or do I get that pleasure?"

"We told her this morning." Danny waves one hand between us.

"Let me guess; she caught you in bed."

"She caught Steve in bed. I'd already gotten up."

"How'd she take it?" Rachel asks with barely contained amusement.

"By squealing so loud my ears are still ringing," I say, sticking a finger in one ear and pretending to try and make the ringing stop.

Rachel chuckles just as Grace comes back, walking like she's headed to the gallows. Setting her bag down with a world weary sigh, she turns a pout on her mother. "Tomorrow's a day off from school. Can't I stay one more night, Mommy?"

"Sorry, Sweetheart. We have company coming." Grace sticks her lower lip out even further but it doesn't change Rachel's mind. "None of that, now. Say good-bye to Uncle Steve and Danno."

"Bye, Uncle Steve, Danno." Grace wraps one arm around each of our necks and squeezes.

"Miss you already," I murmur, kissing her temple. "Be good for your mother, 'kay?"

Danny and Grace share one last tight hug and then she and Rachel are out the door, leaving me alone with Danny. If I thought I was nervous last night it's nothing compared to now. Last night Grace's presence was a near tangible thing and now the lack of it is even more noticeable.

"So, um," I begin, then stop because I have no clue where I'm headed with that sentence.

"We need to talk." Danny finds the words I'm at a loss for.

"Yeah, we do." I have a feeling we don't want to talk about the same thing.

He sits down on the couch, props one elbow on the arm and his head on that hand and crosses one knee over the other. "So." He pauses, almost as if he thinks that'll get me to talk. He must have forgotten that he's the one who puts stock in words where I let my actions speak for themselves.

I spread my hands in supplication and shrug. "What? That whole mess had you all tied up in knots. You needed assistance. I provided that." He just continues to stare at me. "What? I refuse to feel guilty for making sure you didn't lose Grace. That little girl is your world, Danny. I could see how broken up you were over the possibility of never seeing her again. I think the whole island knows how much you love her. Hell, you moved over five thousand miles from your home just to be able to see her more than twice a year."

"You done?" His voice is deceptively soft. A closer look at his face shows he's not even slightly angry and that scares me. A lot.

"Yeah, I guess I am."

"Good." He pats the cushion next to him. "Now get that delectable ass over here."

Warily I abandon my post near the door, the better to bolt should the need arise, and sit down on the opposite end of the couch which puts him between me and the door. He sighs deeply. "I'm not going to hit you, Steven." He pats the cushion again. "You can come closer."

"This isn't a trick, is it?" I ask, inching my way closer while eyeing the door and trying to figure out if I can jump the coffee table and the other couch before he can move.

"No, it's not a trick." He smiles and pats the cushion again. "C'mon. Closer… closer…"

"Danny-" I have to stop to swallow, trying to get moisture back in my mouth. "People know I'm here." He laughs at that, still patting the cushion. "You're scaring me."

"No need to be afraid, Babe." His hand darts out and clamps on my wrist before I'm even aware I've moved into his reach. "Come. Here." He tugs hard enough to over balance me so that I'm leaning against him. "That's better," he purrs, putting the hand he's holding on his thigh real close to the bulge in his crotch.

"Why aren't you yelling at me?"

He sighs, his breath ghosting over my lips. "You're never happy, are you? You bitch when I yell, you bitch when I don't yell. Make up my mind, please."

My gaze drops to his lips. I want to taste them so badly. "It's just… that…" My thoughts are derailed by him licking his lips. "Bastard," I whisper, closing the distance and licking the smirk off his face.

"Why would I be yelling at you, Steven?" he asks when I turn my attention to discovering what his ear lobe tastes like.

"Because I interfered." I pull back to look into his eyes and am surprised to find myself straddling his lap. With a wicked grin, I grind down against the hardness trapped in his jeans.

He groans and drops his head onto the back of the couch. "Son of a bitch!" He thrusts up against me and I must say that I am thoroughly enjoying breaking him apart. "Had… had to… God!" his hands clench on my thighs. "Had to make Rachel think I didn't like you - will you fucking sit still?" He surges up and in a move that leaves me blinking up at him, has me flat on my back on the couch with him leaning over me. "Much better." He grinds his hips down against mine causing my eyes to roll back in my head. "As I was saying-" How in the fuck is he still able to string words together? "-had to make Rachel think I didn't approve of your butting in."

"But-" I can't fucking think with him licking at my Adam's apple.

"Are you seriously wanting to discuss this rightnow?" He punctuates the last two words with nips to my chin.

"N-no." I gasp at the feel of his warm palm on my belly.

"Thought not," he murmurs, turning his attention to removing my shirt.

I try to assist but only manage to get us both tangled up. He stuns me with a deep searching kiss, then quickly tugs the offending cloth off over my head and tosses it over his shoulder. He grins down at me and waggles his eyebrows and then leans down to attack my nipples.

He doesn't start slow, just immediately begins sucking and biting on the right one. I discover that there's a direct line from my nipples to my dick. My pants are quickly becoming even more uncomfortable as it hardens more with each passing second.

Spearing my fingers in his hair, I pull him back. He frowns down at me. "Gonna come if you keep that up." I pant before pulling him down so I can nip at his lower lip.

"We should probably slow down anyway." I whine low in my throat when he pulls back out of my arms. "Shush." He presses two fingers to my lips. "There's no rush." He stands up, readjusts himself and smoothes his hair back down. "I say we go grab something to eat."

I sit up slowly. "I say you're full of shit, Danny."

He tilts his head questioningly. "How so?"

"You can't do this-" I wave a hand between us. "-to me! I have needs, damnit!"

He chuckles and tosses me my shirt. "So do I and I used that line on the first girl I convinced to have sex with me. It's not gonna work on me, Babe. I have this idea in my head and I'm not gonna be swayed from it."

"What's that even mean?" I tug my shirt on with just barely concealed anger and surge to my feet not sure if I want to have this argument now or not.

He steps in close, getting in my personal space. "It means that I want to take this slow. You're always rushing head first into things without thinking. I just want to make sure you're completely with me when we get there." He rests his hands on my hips. "Hey." He ducks his head to make eye contact since I have my head bowed. "You know how much I want you. I refuse to fuck this up by going too fast. Have patience, Babe. Okay?"

I look up at him through my lashes. "No," I say petulantly making him chuckle. "Do I get a say?"

"Of course. But keep in mind, I've done this before. I know that it really shouldn't be rushed."

He has a point. But damned if I'll admit he's right. "I've wanted you for a year and a half, Danny."

"I know, Babe. Me, too. Did you rush into sex with your first girlfriend?"

"No, we'd been dating for almost a year." I shuffle my feet.

"Exactly. But I won't make you wait that long, promise."

"This is different, Danny. We're adults. We know what the emotional consequences are going in."

He steps back and I cross my arms over my chest so I can fist my hands in my sleeves to keep from reaching out and pulling him back. "If you're only here for the sex, you can leave now. I'll think of something to tell Grace and make sure she knows it was me, not you."

Fuck! This is not going according to plan. Planting my feet, lest I give into temptation and force myself on him, I say, "I'm not here just for the sex. If that's all I was looking for I could find it elsewhere." I swallow thickly when I realize I'm going to have to share the epiphany I had a few days ago. "I love you, Danny. I want to build a life with you. And Grace. And one of our own if you want." As soon as the word 'love' leaves my lips he gets this scared look on his face. "It's what I came here last night to tell you. But I can see it's too much too soon. So I'll go. You can tell Grace whatever you want."

I don't get three steps before he's plastered himself to my front. "If you walk out that door, you're a bigger fool than I thought." I can't speak so I just shake my head. I can feel tears pricking my eyes but I refuse to let him see me cry. "You surprised me, is all." He cups one cheek on the palm of his hand. To my horror a tear slips from that eye and catches on his thumb. "I love you, too, ya big goof. I just didn't realize we were there yet."

My eyes slide closed in relief. He loves me. I didn't fuck up the best thing to ever happen to me. "Then why go slow? I want you, you want me. Whatcha waiting for?"

"Something special," he whispers against my lips. "The wait makes it better, don'tcha think?"

"Not when I've got the worst case of blue balls since BUD/s training."

His grin can only be described as pure evil. "If you promise to not push for a home run, I'll show you just what my mouth is good for, besides talking."

"I think I can do that."

"Yeah?" I nod. "Okay. You want to grab dinner first?" The growling of his stomach answers that question.

I pull him closer when he goes to step away. "How about we order in? Pizza? I'll agree to no pineapple on it at all."

"Sure. Order away." With a kiss to my chin, he slips from my arms. "This is your treat, right? I mean since I got breakfast."

"Yeah, sure." I fish my phone out of my pocket and dial the number of our favorite pizza place, ordering our usual, minus the pineapple. "It'll be here in about thirty," I say, walking up behind him in the kitchen where he's getting plates. I slip my arms around his waist and nuzzle his neck. "Any ideas what we can do until then?"

"I think I can come up with something." He turns in my arms and goes up on his toes so he can seal his mouth to mine.

Sliding my hands down over the curve of his ass, I lift him just enough to align our denim covered erections. He takes it a step further and wraps his arms around my neck to give him the leverage needed to pull himself up enough to wrap his legs around my waist. For someone who gets incensed about being portrayed as 'the girl', he doesn't seem to mind taking on what could be called the girl's role in our make out session. But then again, it could just be that since he is smaller it makes sense for him to wrap himself around me in order to grind his hard cock against mine.

Danny may be smaller than me but that doesn't mean he's not heavy. The man is mostly muscle after all. It quickly becomes apparent that I won't be able to stand here and hold him while making out so I stumble back to the living room where I collapse on one of the couches on top of him.

Our hands seem to have a mind of their own and we let them explore while we share lazy, and not so lazy, kisses. When I slip one hand under his shirt and begin sliding it up his torso he breaks the kiss to laugh. "Ticklish?"

"Not at all. You're acting like you're looking for a pair of tits. Hate to disappoint but my pecs aren't that big."

"Not looking for girl parts, Danny." I nip his chin relishing the gasp he gives at the feel of my teeth. "I seem to have a thing for your chest hair."

"Oh, well, then here." He whips his shirt off and stretches his arms over his head. "Be my guest."

I place my right hand low on his belly; my fingers spread wide and slowly move up his body, fascinated by the contrast of my tanned hand against his paler skin. The hair on his chest is softer than I would have expected and it tickles my palm. Curling my fingers, I comb the fine strands, tugging slightly. His chest is heaving and a glance up shows his pupils blown wide with passion once again and his lower lip caught between his teeth.

"You like that?" He nods. "How about this, then?" I dip my head and tease his left nipple with my teeth. His sharply indrawn breath and the fact that he arches up toward my mouth tell me he likes that too.

I kiss my way across his chest to his other nipple but before I can get there a knock sounds at the door. "Pizza's here!" I vault over the back of the couch and throw open the door. "Hey!" I greet our usual delivery guy, Terry. "Howzit?"

"Good. You?"

"Couldn't be better." I'm sure he's thinking I've lost my mind with the way I'm smiling at him. "How much?"

"Eighteen fifty. Hey isn't this D's new place?"

"Yes." Danny appears at my elbow to take the pizza and salads from Terry so he can take my money.

"Nice digs, D." Terry gives Danny a thumbs up before throwing a Shaka. Danny just rolls his eyes and walks away mumbling under his breath. I don't need to hear the words to know he's griping about 'surfer culture'.

Terry and I share a grin. I hand him a twenty. "Keep the change."

"Mahalo, Brah. Enjoy!" He gives me a two fingered salute before turning and jogging back to his truck.

We decide to eat the pizza straight out of the box and the salads go in the fridge for later. Danny and I have never really had issues with each other's personal space and now that we've decided to become more than friends we can't seem to keep our hands off each other. It makes eating pizza… interesting.

Finally the last bite's gone and we've finished our beers. Danny may be messy most times but for some reason he decides to clean up right away tonight. He glances at me when he bends to pick up the empty pizza box. "You got some sauce," he says, wiping at the corner of his mouth with one finger. "Here, let me." He steps over the coffee table and climbs into my lap so he can lick the sauce into my mouth. I never thought I'd like the feel of stubble catching against mine but I find myself craving the scratch of his against my face as we kiss.

He's grinding his hips against mine and making these little noises deep in his throat that are going straight to my dick. I slide my hands under his shirt and dig my fingers into the muscle on either side of his spine, marveling at the feel of them moving as he shifts in my lap. I haven't made out like this since I was a teenager and I had forgotten just how hot it can be to have another person squirming in my lap. We've mapped each other's mouths enough to know the other's like our own as well as learned the taste of each other's skin. My favorite is the patch of skin behind his left ear. Of course the fact that my nibbling on that spot makes his hips jerk and his breath catch in the back of his throat may have something to do with it.

I freely admit I whine low in my throat when he climbs from my lap. He hushes me and tugs on my hand until I stand up. As soon as I'm upright, he tucks two fingers in my belt loops and uses them to get me to follow him to the bedroom. It takes a few seconds for my brain to catch up, lack of blood and all that, but once it does, I don't even try to stop the leer I know is on my face.

He returns my leer with one of his own before turning around so he can open the door. This has the unwelcome benefit of him letting go of my belt loops and I don't like it so I crowd him against the door while he fumbles with the knob.

"Need help with that, Danno?" I ask, groping him.

He moans, presses his erection into my palm and drops his head back onto my shoulder. "That's not the door knob, Steven."

"Maybe not, but it is a 'knob'." He groans at my pun. "And you do seem to need help with it."

"You're such a pervert, McGarrett."

"Yeah, but you love me anyway. You said so."

"Must have been temporarily insane." I know he's not serious but his words still hurt deep down where the ignored teenager still lives. Finally he gets the door open and we stumble through it.

Now that the time is finally here, I find myself more nervous than the first time I ever had sex. Danny seems to sense my nervousness because he turns in my arms and kisses me until I relax against him and return his kiss with renewed passion.

Breaking the kiss, he pulls back just enough to look into my eyes and cups my face in his hands. "Remember, McGarrett, we're going slow. We can stop anytime you want. Okay?" I nod and lean forward to press my lips to his only to have him pull back. "You have to actually say the words so I know you're here with me."

I blink at him. Where the fuck does he think I am, if not right here with him? And then I realize what he means. He wants to make sure I'm making an informed decision; that I know what I'm consenting to. That I'm not just letting my little brain override my bigger brain. "Okay, Danny. We'll go slow and if I need to stop for any reason, I'll tell you." I slide my hands down to cup his ass. "Can we get back to the making out, now?"

He chuckles and pulls his shirt off over his head. "Yeah, we can get back to the making out, now."

My dick twitches in my pants at the prospect of finally being naked with him. But my body refuses to obey my command to disrobe, intent on watching him. I've seen him naked, showers at work, but never aroused and even though I had my hand on his cock, I didn't look, couldn't tear my gaze away from his. So, I stand there and watch as article of clothing after article of clothing is removed, revealing more and more of his delectable body to my hungry gaze.

Only once he's completely naked does he seem to realize I'm still dressed. "Need some assistance, Babe?" He doesn't wait for my answer, just steps closer and slips his hands under the hem of my shirt. Slowly moving his hands up my torso in a sensual caress, he allows my shirt to catch on his wrists. When he reaches my arm pits, he slides his hands around my back and up my neck, my shirt bunched in his hands. I duck my head and raise my arms so he can pull my shirt off.

After tossing it over his shoulder with no care for where it lands, he steps close again and begins working on my belt and fly. He keeps me distracted with deep kisses designed to buckle my knees and they do. Several times I have to force myself to stand upright again while he's slowly undoing my buckle and fly before even more slowly pushing my pants down my legs. When he gets to my feet he helps me step out of my jeans and it's then that I realize that he didn't remove my boxer briefs.

When he doesn't reach up to remove them right away, I say, "Hey, D? This'll go so much better without these" and wave my hand in front of my crotch to indicate my shorts.

He looks up at me and I'm almost done for right then and there. I've had plenty of women look at me like that but never anyone like Daniel Williams. One brow climbs his forehead. "What part of 'slow' is tripping you up?" I roll my eyes and begin to take matter into my own hands by slipping my thumbs under the waistband only to have him stop me. "Patience, Babe. Really, there's no rush here."

"Says you. I haven't been laid in months."

"Oh, poor baby." His voice is dripping with sarcasm. "It's been longer than Cath's last visit for me."

"I didn't-" I begin to object but he talks over me.

"Please." He gets to his feet, once again pressing his body against mine. "You get all stupid when you've had sex. So it's a good thing tomorrow's a day off."

"I do not-!" I really want to argue his statement but his hand has found its way into my shorts and he's stroking my cock with his fingertips. "Danny…" I seem to have lost the ability to talk.

"See?" Gloating and smug is not a good look for him. "Stupid."

"Can we…just…please?"

"Sure." He removes his hand and I swear the wail that follows did not come from me. "Just as soon as you finish that sentence."

"You…mean…" I decide my method is better than his and yank my shorts down and off before putting my shoulder to his belly and lifting so that I can carry him to the bed where I toss him down before covering his body with mine. Now it's my turn to look smug and his to be left sputtering.

"You cannot…!" he manages to spit out, hitting me on the chest with the side of one fist.

"Oh, but I just did, Babe." I swoop down and seal my mouth to his, effectively stopping the flow of any more words.

The kiss quickly turns messy as we fight for dominance. Wrapping his legs around my waist and his arms around my shoulders, he rolls us so that he's on top.

I freely admit I love women. I love everything about them from the way they smell to their soft curves and plump breasts. But, as I'm currently finding out, I also love having a hard angular, muscular body pressing me into the mattress. Now I know why every woman I've ever taken to bed preferred it when I stretched out completely on top of them.

Cupping his ass in both hands, I squeeze while pressing my erection up against his. We both moan at the feel of all that skin against more skin.

Danny slowly begins to kiss his way down my body forcing me to let go of that luscious ass of his. But I forget all about it when he rolls my right nipple between his teeth. I shove my fingers into his hair to make sure he doesn't try and give up his prize too soon. Eventually, though, he does kiss his way across my chest to my other nipple, giving it the same treatment.

With stinging nips he makes his way further down my torso, stopping to once again molest my navel. With a tug to his hair I stop him before he can reach what I'm sure is his ultimate goal: my cock.

He licks a stripe up my belly while eyeing me questioningly. "Condom." The word comes out rougher than usual and he grins at the knowledge that he has wrecked me so much that my voice is gravely. "Condom," I repeat the word, raising both brows.

Finally, he seems to get it. "You want me to put a condom on you before I blow you?" I nod and he sits back on his heels. "Why?"

"Less mess. More sanitary." Surely he knows this.

"You make every one of your partners use a condom?"

"Yeah. Cath even had a dental dam for me. Although I hardly ever used it."

"So let me get this straight-" He tilts his head to the side. "You've never had sex, not even once, without a condom?"

"Yeah. Why're you finding that difficult to believe?"

"Because I've only used a condom when having actual intercourse. Hand jobs and blowjobs are done sans condom. In fact, the night we 'accidentally'-" He uses air quotes. "-made Grace was the first time I've had sex without one. Learned the hard way that it really does only take once."

"Meanwhile, back in Hornyland, my erection's waning. Think we can get back to third base sometime this year?"

"You've got a one track mind."

"And you have a motor mouth that just won't stop."

"Fine." He stretches across me to the bedside table. "You're just damn lucky I have flavored condoms." I chuckle and cop a feel of his ass while he's rummaging in the drawer. "Stop." He slaps my hand. I pout even though he can't see it. "We're finishing that conversation when we're done here, just so ya know."

"Yes, Dear," I say, sarcasm heavy in my tone.

"I swear, Your Honor, I must have been temporarily insane," he mutters and the abandoned teenager deep inside cringes at the perceived confirmation that he's not lovable.

Having located the box, finally, he returns to his position on my thighs. "Let's see…" He dumps the box out on my chest. "What flavor…?" He tucks one hand under the opposite armpit and taps his chin with one finger from the other hand.

My eyes are nearly crossed with the need to move this along so I pick up a packet at random and shove it into his hand. "This one."

"And what if I'm not in the mood for-" He looks at the wrapper. "-cherry flavored Steve?"

"Oh, my God, Daniel!" I thump both fists and one heel down on the mattress.

His eyes crinkle in the corners like he's smiling, but the corners of his mouth don't move, and his eyes light up with mirth. "Very well." Tearing the packet open, he pulls the latex sheath out and pops it in his mouth.

My eyes widen and I open my mouth to remind him it's a rubber not gum, when he knees my legs apart so he can kneel between them. I swear to God, if he's not about to do what I think he's about to do, I won't be held responsible for my actions. Luckily for him, he is.

With an evil grin around the rubber in his mouth, he slowly lowers his head and takes my erection in his mouth. In the twenty plus years I've been receiving blowjobs, I've never had anyone put a condom on with their mouth. I had never thought about buying flavored condoms, only flavored lube.

Cath doesn't go down on me much, but then again, I don't go down on her much either. Of course, we don't usually have the time. Although I will occasionally surprise her, I have this trick with my tongue that one of my first girlfriends taught me.

It's been so long since my dick's been in anyone's mouth that I almost come the instant his tongue touches the underside of my cock while sliding the condom on.

I reach up and grab the headboard to keep myself from grabbing his head and forcing him to take more of my length but I can't help lifting my hips in a silent plea for him to go faster. He responds by placing one arm across my lower abdomen and pressing down until I still. I get the message: stay still and he'll get where I want him. In his own time.

Several seconds after he first began, his nose touches my pubic hair and I can feel him push the condom the rest of the way down with his lips. Then he's lifting up, his tongue flicking against the vein that's throbbing in time with my racing heart.

When he reaches the head, he makes eye contact with me and his tongue darts out to touch the very tip and I know that if I hadn't insisted on the condom, he would have licked up a bead of pre-come.

"D…" I have no idea what to say, he already knows this is a first for me.

He seems to sense that my nerves have returned because he leans up and presses his lips to mine in a chaste kiss. "Do you need to stop?" I shake my head. I'm sure if he was to stop now, I'd be the first man to ever die from blue balls. "I'll make this one quick, then. Just take the edge off. Okay?"

I nod my head and he dips his to once again take my cock in his mouth. I try to pay attention to what he does, thinking it'll be what he likes but he's too good. I find I can't concentrate on what he's doing while he's doing his level best to suck my brain out through my dick. Before I really want, I'm crying out and spilling into the condom, my vision whiting out at the edges.

It is one of the best orgasms of my life. Second only to the first one Cath got out me, also by sucking my cock, incidentally enough.

When I come back into awareness it's to him licking at my balls and petting my thighs. "Damn," I say, reaching out with one hand and running my fingers through his hair. "Here,-" I tug a bit on the hair in my hand. "-let me."

He kisses my belly. "Thanks but I'm good." I'm confused for a minute until I manage to get a hand between us and feel the sticky evidence of his own orgasm.

"Yeah, you are." We share a chuckle at my lame joke.

He removes the condom and disposes of it before rolling from the bed and heading to the bathroom to clean himself up. "So. We can eat our salads for the energy they provide, then take a nap to rest up for round two. Or we can just take a nap." He shrugs one shoulder and climbs back onto the bed, lying down on his side facing me with his head propped up on one hand.

I open my mouth to suggest having the salads but a huge yawn takes me unawares. "I guess we should take a nap. We can eat after and then go for round two."

"Ah, an option I didn't think of." He pulls the sheet up over us and lies back down on his side with one leg and arm thrown over me. "Nap it is then."

I roll over to my side, facing him and throw my arm over his waist. Kissing the tip of his nose I close my eyes and allow sleep to pull me under.

When we wake from our nap, we eat our salads and head back to bed where we make out some more. As much as I want to return the favor and suck his dick, I find I just can't work up the nerve. Fortunately, he doesn't seem to mind. He doesn't once ask or even hint that he'd like me to.

Over the next several weeks, I slowly work up my nerve, though, and soon I'm showing him that trick with my tongue and, while I'm not nearly as elegant as he is, I do manage to get him off with very little mess in a relatively short amount of time.

I finally nail Danny down on when he thinks we'll take that final step and consummate our relationship. I know he just threw out the first holiday he could think of, but I plan on holding him to it.

Valentine's Day dawns clear and bright and beautiful. I find myself humming under my breath all day, much to the amusement of both Chin and Kono. The only one not present to witness my embarrassing display of elation is Danny due to him being in court all day for a case from his time with the HPD. From before us.

I can't help how good I feel because this is the first Valentine's Day I've had a significant other since before my mom died and definitely the first time I've been with anyone who's made me think of the future instead of just the here and now. And the fact that it's Danny has me smiling even bigger.

Because Danny had to be in court so early this morning we didn't spend the night together last night, a first since New Year's. But we've spoken several times already today and I reminded him that he told me that tonight would be The Night. Yes, with capital letters and quite possibly sparkly hearts.

I find myself grateful to be having a slow day. Wouldn't do to catch a case and have to postpone what I'm positive will be the most erotic night of my life. Finally at three o'clock, I've grown weary of pretending to be working and decide to call it a day.

Kono whoops like a teenager and dashes off, muttering something about catching some surf action. Chin just smiles that smile that usually means I should be really glad I can't read his mind and heads off, presumably to see if he can kidnap Malia from the hospital.

I shoot the Governor an email explaining that I'm shutting the office early, and why, and then text Danny the same, adding that I can't wait to see him tonight.

Whistling the same tune from earlier, I turn off the lights and lock the door before heading to my truck and pointing it in the direction of home. Danny and I decided that I'd cook, something more than steak of course, and then we'd spend the night at my place. Nicer bed, Danny said. Although I really can't tell the difference.

I stop at the entrance to the drive in order to grab the mail and then continue up the drive to the house, my mind already on the meal I'm going to cook as well as contemplating finally having sex with Danny.

I dance my way into the house, tossing the mail on the coffee table to be dealt with later before jogging up the stairs to change out of what I consider my work clothes and into some jeans and a tee shirt.

Before stepping into the shower, I change the sheets, despite having changed them just yesterday morning, taking more care than I have since I last lived on a base. Everything has to be just so for tonight.

As the afternoon stretches on, I can feel the nervous energy building. The same nervous energy I feel before a mission. Soon Danny will be right where I've wanted him for what feels like forever, naked, in my bed and with either my dick in his ass or his dick in mine. I'd rather top for my first time but I won't press the issue, not with Danny.

Showered, dressed and with fresh sheets on the bed, I make sure Danny's present is in my pocket and then head back downstairs, my bare feet slapping against the hard wood treads of the stairs.

I stop at the stereo on my way through the living room to the kitchen to put on some 'romantic' music. Flipping through my CDs I have to wonder how my tastes turned from that of a thirty-something male to that of a nine year old girl. I have what appears to be every one of Kelly Clarkson's CDs, both of Adele's, some Nora Jones, Rob Thomas and some people I've never heard of. I declare it official: my house is now more Gracie's than mine. And that's just fine by me.

I put a different artist in each of the slots of the changer and set it to random, then continue on to the kitchen where I begin putting dinner together.

The chicken breasts have been marinating all day and they smell wonderful as I pull them from the fridge and place them on the baking sheet under the broiler. Then I turn my attention to putting a salad together with various greens, sliced carrots, radishes and cucumbers. After tossing it, I put the large wooden bowl back in the fridge, the croutons and dressing will be added right before I put it on the table. A text from Danny tells me I can turn my attention to making the risotto as he'll be home about the time it's done cooking.

Once the risotto is simmering, I head to the dining room to set the table with my mother's good table cloth, her silver candlesticks and the good china, silverware and crystal glasses. I even open a bottle of chardonnay, but with several bottles of beer in the fridge in case Danny prefers that. I step back to admire my handiwork and suddenly remember the mail. A quick check on the risotto and chicken before I go through to the living room to pick the mail up off the coffee table.

"Bill, junk, bill, junk, bill-" I toss the envelopes into separate piles. "Jun-" My breath catches in my throat at the return address on the next envelope.