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*****

Danny spots her immediately at the bar. She's leaning in and talking with the bartender, her short blond hair swinging as she nods her head. Danny hesitates for a moment, then smooths his hair back, shoves his hands into his pockets and makes his way through the room.

"Hi, Kathy," he says as he slides into the bar stool beside her. He feels like a bit of a goof, nervous and uncertain.

She greets him with a broad smile. "Hiya, Danny, how are you?"

She must have been out in the sun today, since the freckles sprinkled across her nose are standing out particularly well. It's adorable. She's adorable.

"Sorry I'm late, things got a little busy--" Danny lifts his hands apologetically.

"No, no, I understand." She dismisses Danny's concern with a wave of her hand. "I'm just glad you could make it."

"Right." Danny laughs. "I wouldn't miss it for the world."

It's Danny's first genuine date in, oh, a million years and he wouldn't have missed it for anything short of a gunshot wound.

The bartender sets a beer down in front of Kathy and Danny orders the same for himself. "So how's Gracie doing?" Kathy asks.

They had met at the park where Danny takes Gracie to play. Another haole, someone who understands how ridiculous life is on the islands. She was friendly and funny and awfully cute and Danny could barely believe his good fortune when she suggested they meet for drinks.

"She is doing wonderful. Traveling with her mother at moment, and I miss her like you wouldn't believe," Danny says with a sigh.

"Oh, that stinks." Kathy pats his arm sympathetically.

"We talked on the phone earlier, though. She is still determined to get me to eat more vegetables. Now she's extolling the virtues of broccoli to me. Broccoli." Danny shakes his head. "I mean, the stuff's not bad, but it's not a steak, you know?"

Kathy laughs. "Broccoli can be pretty good, depending on how you prepare it."

"I don't know about that." Danny shrugs and sips his beer. "Its still broccoli."

They chat for a while, discussing idle nonsense such as the weather and the beaches and how palm trees aren't really trees at all, not with that ridiculous long trunk and total lack of real branches.

Danny takes in the surroundings as they talk--it's a habit and he can't help himself. It's a nice bar, one that Kathy had suggested, small and not too noisy. It's filled with a mixture of locals and tourists, all relaxed and having a good time and eventually Danny begins to relax, too. He's never been all that good at dating in the first place, and it's been a long time since he's been on one--even after the divorce, his heart was never in it. He had always held out hope that he and Rachel would get back together, which was maybe the worst idea he had ever had. But at least now he's truly over Rachel and ready to move on.

He's just not sure which direction to go in.

But Kathy is pretty and she looks like sunshine and blue skies in her sleeveless blouse and skirt. She's fidgeting a bit as she talks, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear, toying with a drink napkin, running her finger over the condensation on her beer glass. She seems nervous and Danny finds it charming.

"So," Danny says, "the thing that's really crazy--"

He's interrupted by a loud thud behind him, the sound of a chair being knocked back. "Hey, hey shut up, motherfucker," someone shouts.

Danny turns, his hand going for the gun that isn't there. Two guys, maybe in their twenties, are standing by the tables arguing loudly. They sound drunk and when one leans in toward the other, hands clenched into fists, Danny groans in dismay. Nothing says romance like a bar fight. He's about to head over to try and calm them down but the tall, square-shouldered waiter gets there first. After a quiet conversation (and threats of calling the cops, if Danny can read their expressions correctly), the waiter escorts them to the door.

Relieved, Danny turns back to Kathy. "Some people just don't know how to relax and have a good time, huh?"

"Honestly." Kathy shakes her head. She lifts her nearly empty beer glass and taps it against Danny's. "Drink up, round two is on me." She swallows down the last of her beer and Danny raises his eyebrows, then follows suit, draining his half glass in one gulp.

He's starting to really like her.

"So as I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, my partner, he's kind of dangerous. Something like that?" Danny points to where the two men had been arguing. "He would have dragged them out and dangled them over a cliff. Or maybe thrown them into a shark cage."

Danny leans back and a man at the other end of the bar in brightly colored Hawaiian shirt catches his eye. The guy isn't doing anything, he's merely sitting with a full glass of beer in his hand, watching the crowd but there's something in the way he's holding himself that prickles the hair on the back of Danny's neck. He's too alert. Wary, almost.

"Oh, come on, he wouldn't actually do that, would he?" Kathy is asking.

"Hmm? My partner?" Danny swivels around to face Kathy. "Oh yeah. He would. But only if he gets to drive like a reckless maniac first. I swear, the way he drives, he's taken ten years off my life."

The fresh beers arrive in front of him and Danny takes a sip. He's feeling tipsy already, which is odd, but he did drink his first beer on an empty stomach and maybe the nerves had something to do with it and why is he constantly talking about Steve when he's on a date? The whole point of this dating business was to forget about Steve. For a little while, at least.

Kathy drinks her beer then grins at him. She's more relaxed now--apparently Danny has managed to put her at ease. "I don't know, sounds like it might be fun."

"Fun? Fun? No, it's not fun. This--this right here is fun. Having a drink, having a nice conversation with a pretty girl. That's fun." He's gratified when Kathy's cheeks flush pink. "But my partner, he is not fun. He's scary."

"But I'll bet Steve's a good guy to have at your back, right?"

Danny blinks. "Right," he says. "Right. That might be true."

Uneasy now, he takes a quick drink of his beer, his mind racing. He's sure he's never mentioned Steve by name during their afternoon chats at the park, although Grace--maybe Grace did? No, she was usually off playing when Kathy approached him.

Maybe he's just being paranoid. Hazard of the job and all. He's being ridiculous and clearly, he's been hanging around Steve too long. Not everything is a threat. Especially pretty girls with freckles and short blonde hair and sleeveless shirts.

Except when he turns his head, his vision swims. As if he'd been doing shots of tequila and that's not right. That's not right at all. Kathy is going on about surfing with a friend, something about jellyfish--the thought of which is enough to make Danny never want to go near the ocean again--and he's having trouble staying focused on her words.

Mr. Hawaiian shirt has moved to a seat at a nearby table and is staring directly at him.

What the hell?

Alarmed, Danny takes a deep breath and casually places a hand on Kathy's arm. "Listen, I need to hit the little boy's room. Be right back, okay?"

"Okay, sure." She won't look him in the eye, instead she's back to fiddling with the drink napkin.

She set him up. Danny's sure of it now.

He doesn't say anything. Instead he plays it cool, sliding off the bar stool, managing to somehow hold himself steady as the floor shifts dangerously under his feet. As he strolls to the back of the bar, he eases a hand into his pocket and palms his phone. A quick look over his shoulder to make sure he's sure he's blocked from Hawaiian shirt guy's view and he pulls the phone out. "Pick up, Steve, please pick up," he mutters as he scrolls to Steve's number and dials.

With the way the room is spinning, he's suspects it won't be long until he's completely incapacitated.

Phone pressed against his ear, he can barely hear ringing as the line connects. The bar is too noisy, he needs a quiet spot so he bypasses the restrooms, unsteady on his feet as he hurries to the door marked "Employees". He slips past the door into an empty hallway just as Steve picks up.

"Steve--Steve listen to me," Danny slurs.

"Danny? You okay?" Steve asks, surprise clear in his voice. "You sound drunk."

"I'm not--I think she drugged me." It's warm in the hallway, too warm. Danny leans against the wall and rubs his forehead, trying to focus his thoughts.

"What? Danny, what's going on? Where are you?"

"I'm at Smitty's Bar, on Queen Street. Something's not right here--there's a guy, and he's--there was an argument and I think she slipped something in my drink and I'm not feeling so great right now."

"Okay, just sit tight, I'm on my way. I'll--"

The room lurches and Danny drops his arm, trying to keep his balance. He should run, try to get away but he can't even figure out which way back into the bar, never mind find the parking lot and his car. All he can see is the scuffed gray walls of the hallway and then the door next to him swings open.

It's Hawaiian shirt man. Of course. And a friend, one of the men who was arguing. "Hi guys," Danny says with a bright false grin. He slips the phone back in his pocket, leaving it on, hoping the connection with Steve is still live.

"Come on, Detective Williams," Hawaiian shirt guy says. "We're going for a little ride. There's someone who would like to speak with you." He doesn't sound like he's from the islands, and his skin is too pale to have been here for any amount of time.

"No, no, no, I don't think so," Danny says, backing away from them. "My mother told me never to get into a car with strange men."

The man who was arguing, a tall guy who at least has the good taste to be wearing a plain t-shirt with a button down over it, lifts his shirt to display the gun tucked into the waistband of his pants. "Did your mother ever tell you not to argue with guys who have guns?"

"That one I figured out on my own." Danny holds both his hands up. "Listen, there's no reason to get all excited."

"Grab him," Hawaiian shirt man says.

Before Danny can even form the thought of running, the taller guy has him by the arm. "Whoa," Danny mutters. The drug is slowing him down, making him feel like he is wading through molasses. "Who are you? You at least got a name?"

He stumbles, resisting the tugging on his arm and next thing he knows, he's pushed face-first against the wall, arm twisted painfully behind his back. "Don't even think of giving us any trouble," the man warns, mouth close to his ear.

"Okay. No trouble," Danny agrees. It's hard to talk now, his tongue feels too big for his mouth.

They pull him down the hallway, Danny staggering along willingly because, ow, that hurt, having his arm twisted like that. When they get outside the cool night air clears Danny's head, if only briefly. Steve is on his way, thank god, probably driving like a maniac and Danny needs to stall. If he gets into the car with these guys, he's as good as dead.

"Okay, okay. Just tell me who you are--or at least where the hell we're going," Danny asks.

"We're going to visit a friend," Hawaiian shirt guy says. "Who would like to have a word with you."

"Why doesn't he just call me on the phone?" Danny pleads. "I'm a chatty kind of guy. I like to talk. I'll talk all day."

They're on the side of the building, heading toward a path leading out toward the street. A noisy group leaves the bar and Danny is yanked back into the shadows to wait as they pass. "Hey hey, stop with the pulling and pushing, okay?"

"Yeah, right." The man twists Danny's arm and pain shoots up into Danny shoulder.

"Ow, would you quit that?" Danny exclaims. "You are a sick, sick man, and speaking of sick, I'm not feeling so good."

The man snickers. "Had a little too much to drink?" He tries to drag Danny back out onto the lit pathway, but Danny holds back.

"Seriously. I think I'm going to puke," Danny says, which is a lie. Although now that he thinks about it, his stomach is feeling a bit iffy. "Have I told you that I haven't puked since 1996? If I break that record now, I'm going to be pissed. I'm just saying."

"Come on, asshole," Hawaiian shirt man insists, pulling harder on Danny's arm.

Danny hangs his head and takes a deep breath. "Oh jeeze." He groans dramatically.

It has the desired effect. The men stop pulling him and Danny hears a muttered how much did she give him and not in the back of my fucking car. Danny slaps a hand over his mouth, covering up a grin. As far as kidnappers go, these guys are amateurs.

Another loud moan and Danny lets his knees buckle, slumping against the taller guy. With a sharp twist Danny yanks his arm from the man's grasp and goes for the gun, pulling it free just as he loses his balance and tumbles down onto the ground.

"Son of a bitch," the guy cries out.

There's a heavy blow to Danny's shoulder and the gun drops from his hand. Not good. It's somewhere in the deep grass and Danny's moving too slow, Hawaiian shirt guy is beating him to it, feeling around in grass as he curses up a storm. Danny struggles to get to his feet but the ground lurches beneath him and he's too sluggish to catch his balance. He falls to his knees and tries again, he needs to get away, to at least get out into the street, where all the lights are--the flashing lights and the sirens, loud and disorienting and oh hey--

Sirens. Squad cars.

Two black and whites pull up in front of the building just as Hawaiian shirt guy grabs him by the collar. Danny is pulled to his feet but then the side of the building comes at him in a rush. He sees stars--literally, which is actually kind of cool--but his forehead throbs with pain as he slides down onto the ground and that, that is not cool. Not at all.

Even so, it feels good. The grass is soft against his cheek and there's no one grabbing and shoving him anymore. It feels so good he could close his eyes and go right to sleep. As a matter of fact, he just might do that.

It's been a long day.

*****

"Danny, Danny." The voice is frantic, and it sounds as if it's far away, too far away for Danny to find but someone grabs his shoulder. Crap. Not again.

"Danny, hey buddy, talk to me."

Danny knows that voice. He opens his eyes and sees an arm reaching for him, an arm with a familiar tattoo peeking out from under a shirtsleeve. Danny's eyes follow the arm up to a shoulder, a neck, and oh, hi there. It's Steve.

Steve stares down at him, eyes wide with worry. "Danny, you okay?"

"Steve," Danny says with happy smile. Steve is his most favorite person in the entire world. "I'm, yeah, I--" He tries to sit up but falters along the way. His head has become very very heavy. Too heavy to hold up.

Steve helps him to his feet and the ground sways alarmingly. Danny falls into him, face pressed against Steve's chest. He takes a deep breath as he leans against Steve, holding onto Steve's shirt for support. Steve smells kind of sweaty and a bit like the ocean and grease from his ridiculous car and it's just so damn comforting and he's really really glad Steve is here with him.

"You smell good," Danny mumbles.

"Uh, okay."

When Danny leans back to look up at him, Steve's got that quizzical look on his face, the one that is really cute. Not that Danny would ever admit it. "Okay what?" Danny asks.

Steve shakes his head and looks even more confused. "Listen, Danny, do you know who tried to grab you? How many were there? And what about this woman, who is she? How long have you known her?"

Danny frowns. It's a lot of questions at once and now Steve's hands are on his waist. Steve has big hands. Big, very strong hands that are holding onto him with a firm grip and Danny kind of likes that. Especially since the ground has begun to shift again. Danny's had enough of falling down at this point.

"Danny? Why don't we go sit down, okay?" Steve is speaking softly now, coaxing.

"Yes. We should," Danny says. "You, with your hands, you're making me dizzy."

With an arm around his waist, Steve leads Danny over to a bench. Danny sighs happily, leaning against Steve as they walk and this is much nicer than getting pushed around by Hawaiian shirt guy and his tall friend.

"Who?" Steve asks.

"Hawaiian shirt guy," Danny explains as they sit on the bench underneath the bright lights. He beams a smile up at Steve. He's so damn happy Steve is here sitting with him, all warm and friendly with his arm wrapped around Danny's waist. "And his buddy. Tall guy, little younger. The one with the gun. Oh, oh, oh--the gun, I tried to grab it, and it went into the grass."

Steve calls out to someone and Danny realizes there are uniformed officers with flashlights searching the area. "Did they get away?" Danny asks. "Please, don't tell me they got away."

"They got away. Went behind the lot, jumped into a car just we got here." Steve says. "Do you know why they tried to grab you?"

Danny shakes his head, which is a bad idea as it makes him dizzy all over again. "Someone wants to talk to me."

"Who?" Steve asks.

"Wouldn't say."

"And this woman?"

"Someone I met in the park. Kathy Brownstone. At least, that's what she called herself." Danny hangs his head down. "Figures, my one real date in ages. She was cute, you know? She was sitting at the bar, but I'm sure she's long gone now."

Steve nods to a uniformed officer, who heads into the bar. "And you're sure she was in on it?"

"She knew your name. I was talking about you--because of course, what else do I do on a date? Talk about my crazy partner." Danny pats Steve's thigh. It's a nice thigh, long and lean. Danny likes Steve's thigh although maybe he should stop petting it or Steve just might notice how much he likes it.

"Really?" Steve says, and he's got that face again, the cute puzzled one. "You do?"

"Uh huh." Danny reluctantly removes his hand from Steve's leg. "I said 'my partner', and she referred to you as 'Steve', even though I never mentioned your name. That, my friend," Danny pokes Steve's chest, "gave her away. Am I a detective, or what?"

"Yes, Danny, you are definitely a detective."

"Plus I was starting to feel woozy. And then this guy in a horrible Hawaiian shirt--really, it was blue and orange and had these hula dancers and tiki men--who wears a shirt like that?" Danny frowns up at Steve.

Steve just shrugs, so Danny continues on. "He looked suspicious, pinged my radar in a big big way. He and his friend confronted me in the back hallway. And I threatened to puke all over them. Out here, not in the hall."

Danny leans back to try and look Steve in the eye, but the motion sets him off again. The ground pulls at him, determined to drag him off the bench and back down into the grass.

"Stay with me, Danny. Come on." Steve grabs him under the arms and hauls him back up on the bench. "Let me get this straight. When did you first meet this Kathy person?"

Danny has a hand on Steve's arm, right on his biceps, right over one of his damned tattoos and he's tracing his thumb over the lower swirl before the realizes what he's doing. "Who?"

"Never mind." Steve shakes his head, and he looks like he's trying not to smile. Which is so not fair. "Just tell me what these guys looked like."

"You think this is funny?" Danny asks, heartily offended.

"No," Steve says reasonably. "Not at all, Danny."

Danny wants to be mad at him, but Steve's eyes are crinkling up at the corners, and his eyelashes are catching the light from above, and honestly, he's so fucking beautiful it makes Danny crazy sometimes.

"Okay," Danny says with a sigh. He goes on to describe his would-be abductors, giving as much detail as he can remember, and even though his thoughts are disjointed--he could do without Steve's leg pressing against his like that--he manages to get it all out, finishing just as the ambulance pulls up.

"Steve, do I have to?" he asks, and to his own ears he sounds an awful like like Grace but he's been in the hospital once already this year, that was enough. He wants to stay here with Steve, just hanging out on the bench and sitting close together.

"Yes, Danny, you do." Steve's voice is gentle. "And look, there's a nice comfy stretcher for you to rest on."

The EMTs are wheeling a stretcher toward him and it does look kind of nice, with the bright white sheets and little pillow.

"I'll get some uniforms to ride with you, then catch up with you at hospital when we're through here," Steve adds as he helps Danny down onto the stretcher. "I'm glad you're all right, buddy." Steve pats Danny's shoulder, and Danny's gratified to see that he really does look relieved.

Turns out the stretcher is actually quite comfortable, and Danny decides it's time for another nice little nap.

*****

Danny is released from the hospital late the following morning. There's a guard outside his room, and Danny is pretty sure Steve is going overboard with all this. Danny can take care of himself, but then again, he apparently can't even go out on a date without getting into trouble so maybe Steve's right.

Danny grimaces at the thought.

Once he's dressed he waits for Steve in his hospital room, sitting on the edge of his bed, clutching his coffee cup and swinging his feet restlessly, eager to leave. He feels like an idiot. He should have been able to avoid getting drugged, should have known Kathy was up to no good. He's a cop, damn it, yet he fell for her, hook, line and sinker. He's pissed and disconcerted and a bit scared and utterly grateful that Grace is safely away in England with Rachel and Stan.

"Danny, hey," Steve says as he bursts into the room, a welcome vision in cargo pants and a dark blue tee-shirt. "How are you feeling? I stopped by last night, but you were sound asleep."

"I'm good. Just have a bit of a headache. And my shoulder is killing me." Danny rolls his shoulders, the sore muscles protesting the movement. There are bruises all over his right shoulder. Apparently he had put up some kind of fight. "The guard, was he actually necessary?"

"Yes." Steve says flatly. He raises his eyebrows, as if daring Danny to argue with him.

"Fine. Come on," Danny says, sliding off the bed. "Lets get to HQ."

"Are you sure you're up to it?" Steve remains in front of the door, blocking Danny's path. His expression grows soft with concern. "You were pretty out of it last night."

"Yes, I am sure of it, Steven." Danny makes shooing motions with his hands, trying to get Steve to move out of his way. "The doctor cleared me to go back to work, but hey, if you want to check with her first, please feel free."

Steve holds his hands up, conceding the point and they pass through the noisy hospital hallways without further conversation. Danny has a thousand questions, but not here.

"So what the hell is going on?" Danny asks as soon as they're in the car.

"I don't know." Steve jaw is firmly set, which is not a good sign. He starts the car and pulls out into the street. "We weren't able to get anything on the girl. The bartender remembers her, said she left shortly after you headed to the back. Did a background check and the name is fake, as you suspected. The guy with the shirt and his friend, no one seems to have gotten a good look at them. They got into a black SUV and took off."

"Damn it. So we've got nothing?"

Steve grins, but it's grim. "We got partials on the plate, and we got the gun. Chin is running it right now, hopefully he'll have something for us when we get there."

"Gun? What gun?"

"The gun you grabbed from the one of the guys. You don't remember?"

Danny closes his eyes and thinks back to the evening, to being pulled out of the building. A gun, one of them had a 45MM tucked into his waistband and Danny has a vague recollection of reaching for it. He must have knocked it out of the guy's hand or something. "Huh. Yeah, I do now. I think that's when the son of a bitch kicked me. Good. At least we have something."

"Do you have any idea who these guys might be? Have you been having problems with anyone?"

Danny laughs, nearly dropping his coffee cup. "You tell me, Steve. Who might I have pissed off in oh, the past year and a half?"

Steve blinks at him. "Okay. You have a point."

"Yeah. In other words, the list of suspects is as long as my arm. Maybe even as long as your arm."

"But the guy went after you, not us both. And you said you're pretty sure the guy was a haole, right?"

Danny shrugs. "That was the vibe I got. The guy reeked of mainland."

"Vibe? You got a vibe?" Steve says, and this time his grin is genuine. "Look who's going all native."

"Shut up. Still doesn't mean I like it here." Steve is still grinning a warm grin so Danny scowls his fiercest scowl back at him, to no avail. As usual. "Okay. Fine. Believe what you want. Anyway, I'm just saying the way he talked, I'd peg him as being from the mid-Atlantic region. Could be Jersey."

"Okay. Good. That's useful. We'll figure this out, Danny," Steve assures him. "But in the meanwhile, I'm assigning you a protective detail."

"What? You're kidding me." Danny shakes his head. "I do not need a protective detail. I am a protective detail, Steve. I can protect myself."

"You did such a good job of it last night, huh?"

"That was because I wasn't aware that I needed to watch out for someone trying to kidnap me. Now that I know--"

"No, that's not how it works--"

"Don't you tell me how it works," Danny says, stabbing a finger in the air toward Steve. "I have been a cop for over ten years, you do not get to tell me how it works."

"And if the situation were reversed, and your partner was drugged and nearly abducted?"

Danny huffs and tries to take another drink from his coffee cup, only to find that it's empty. Irritated, he stares out the window at the palm trees passing by. Steve is right, which is even more annoying than when he's wrong.

"Now, I won't take you off the case, Danny," Steve begins.

"Oh thank you."

"Danny--"

"Who is this protective detail going to be?"

"You're sitting in the car with him right now," Steve says.

Danny slaps a hand to his forehead. "Why didn't you tell me that in the first place?"

"I was trying to." Steve's voice is gentler now. "Listen to me. I am not letting you out of my sight until we arrest whoever is behind this. You'll be staying at my house with me tonight. I'll get an unmarked car assigned to watch the place overnight."

"Okay," It sounds reasonable, and Danny's too tired to argue much anyway. "I can do that."

"You can do that?"

Danny nods.

"Good," Steve says. "Glad to hear it."

They've reached HQ and Steve pulls the car into the parking lot. He shifts the gears into park, then hesitates before shutting the car off. "So, Danny," Steve says. "Exactly how much do you remember from last night?"

"Not much," Danny admits. "Even from before I was drugged. I remember calling you when I first started to feel the effects of the drug. Those guys yanked me around for a while, the squad cars showed up, and then you were there. For which I am extremely grateful, by the way. Thank you."

He has a vague recollection of touching Steve, of his hands on Steve's leg, his arm, and something about Steve's chest. His face grows warm at the memory and he hopes he didn't say anything too stupid.

But Steve merely nods. "Glad I was able to help, buddy."

Reassured, Danny gets out of the car and follows Steve into the building.

*****

"Hey, Danny, how are you doing?" Kono greets him as soon as he walks through the door.

Chin is right behind her. "Yeah, brah, what's going on?"

"You tell me," Danny says with a shrug. "I was just trying to have a evening out with a nice young lady. Only she turned out to be not so nice."

Kono shakes her head. "Got to learn to pick your dates better."

"Yeah," Steve says. "She's got a point, Danny. Let me know if you want any help with that."

"You? You?" Danny says, laughing. "You think I'm going to let you pick my dates?"

Steve grins at him. "Something like that."

"Right. Because that's what my dates need. More munitions." Danny turns to Chin. "Find out anything on that gun?"

"Just got the report back--nothing too useful." With a swipe of his hand, Chin transfers images from the smart table to the large screen on the wall. "Aside from your fingerprints, we did get a clean one from the perp. Unfortunately it doesn't match anything in the system."

An image of a thumb print appears on the screen.

"Ballistics show that the gun was used in an unsolved robbery five years ago," Chin continues. "Jewelry shop down on Pensacola Street. Owner was hit in the shoulder. He survived and they recovered the bullet."

"First thing the perps probably did was ditch the weapon," Kono muses.

Danny nods. "Exactly."

"I'd say a visit with Kamekona is in order," Steve says. "He may have a line on who deals in 45MMs. His stand opens in a couple hours. You up to it, Danny?"

"Up to it?" Danny raises his eyebrows. "Of course I'm up to it. I feel fine."

Which is sort of the truth. He's tired and his head hurts but no way is he going to sit on his thumbs while everyone else works the case. And speaking of sitting, it seems like a good idea at the moment. He finds a chair and settles into it as Kono goes over the details of the jewelry store robbery--two suspects, a handful of items recovered from pawn shops--typical small time crooks trying to make a quick buck.

A hand on his shoulder and Danny looks up to see Chin proffering a cup of coffee. "Looked like you could use some."

"Oh god yes." With a grateful nod, Danny takes the cup. "Thank you."

"Rohypnol, right?" Chin asks. "That stuff will mess you up."

"I felt messed up," Danny agrees. He sips his coffee. Maybe he'll make it through the day after all. "What about the SUV? You said you had a partial on the plates?"

Kono nods. "It was a rental. I was able to narrow it down to two offices. One checked out, it was rented to a family staying at the Hilton. The other is a little more interesting. It was rented to a Robert Patron. Who, according to his social security number, died in 2003. Want to guess where he lived?"

Danny curls his fingers tight around his coffee mug. "New Jersey?"

"You got it." Kono smiles proudly.

"Nice work," Steve says. "Looks we're narrowing the field down. "

"So maybe we're looking for an ex-con, recently paroled," Chin suggests. "Someone holding a grudge?"

"Wouldn't that be pretty stupid, though?" Kono asks with a frown. "You do your time, get out of jail and the first thing you do is go after a cop? That will put you back in jail for a long, long time."

Danny shakes his head. "See, Kono, what you have not yet realized is that ninety-nine percent of criminals are truly, painfully stupid."

"Is true, cuz," Chin adds. "And they think they're never going to get caught."

"If it was someone from Danny's time here on the islands," Steve says, "they'd be targeting all of us. I'm not sure any of them would have reason to single out Danny. Plus, Danny's pretty sure at least one of the guys is from the mainland. Chin, can you pull up a list of recent paroles from Danny's cases in New Jersey? We'll start there."

"Wait, wait," Danny says. "It's not like we're just around the corner. The timing will be important--they will have weekly meetings with their parole officer, so if they've say, met with their PO yesterday, they're out of the running."

Chin nods. "They'll need a day or two to get here, and maybe another day or two to set things up--get a gun, find a way to get to Danny."

"So," Kono says, "If they're flagged as missing their PO meeting, they got right to the top of the list."

"Exactly," Danny tells her.

"Danny," Steve says. "Do you think any of this might have to do with Matt?"

His voice is gentle, yet his words still sting. Danny shakes his head. "I have no idea. I can make some calls, see if there's been any activity on his case."

"All right." Steve nods. "We'll get to the bottom of this, Danny."

Danny doesn't feel quite so confident.

 

*****

Danny squints against the bright sunlight as he gets out of the car, pulling his sunglass from his pocket. His head is starting to throb again. The beach is crowded, full of tourists and kids and there are several radios playing in the background, the loud, thumping music blending together to make his head hurt even worse.

"I swear, I have no idea what kids are listening to these days," he complains.

Steve shakes his head. "Yeah. I don't know, either."

"Let's not even start with you and your choice of music." Danny stops short as several kids dash past him--little girls in brightly colored swimsuits, running and laughing and playing. Danny's chest grows tight as he watches them.

"Hey." Steve rests a hand on Danny's shoulder. "You miss Grace, don't you."

Danny nods. "Yeah. I do. But I have to tell you, I'm glad she's out of the country right now. I do not need anyone trying to get to me through her."

"It would be the last mistake they'd ever make," Steve assures Danny, his face grim. "Two more weeks, right?"

"Two more weeks." It feels like an eternity, but at least that gives them time to wrap up the case. And they will wrap it up, Danny tells himself.

He turns to head for the Wailoa Shave Ice stand, but Steve holds him back, hand lightly gripping Danny's upper arm. "Wait."

"What?" Danny is distracted for a moment by Steve's hand, by the way his long fingers encircle his arm. He needs to move on from this thing with Steve, he truly does. Only he's not sure how, especially with Steve being all touchy-feely like this. "You think we're being watched?"

He checks out the crowd again, but sees no one resembling his would-be abductors, no one lingering suspiciously in the shadows. No one even seems to even notice them, they're too intent on enjoying the sunny day.

"I don't think so." Steve turns his head, taking in the street, cars zipping past, pedestrians crowding the sidewalk. "Just want to make sure."

"Come on," Danny says, giving Steve a little shove. "You want to check the bathroom too, next time I have to take a leak?"

He regrets it as soon as the words leave his mouth, because Steve is nodding thoughtfully. "Yeah, that might not be a bad idea."

Danny rolls his eyes.

As they head toward the stand, Kamekona waves an arm in greeting. "Hey, what's up? I hear someone tried to snatch you away. That's not on, my brother. That's not on."

He pulls Danny in for a rough hug and Danny bites back a grunt of pain as his bad shoulder connects with Kamekona's broad chest. "I'm good, I'm good, man," he manages, giving Kamekona a manly yet affectionate slap on the back.

"You make an arrest yet?" he asks Steve.

"Not yet," Steve says. "But you might be able to help."

"Anything to help Danny out, for sure."

Steve pulls out his phone and shows Kamekona several photos of the weapon. "Look familiar to you?"

Kamekona takes the phone from Steve and furrows his brow as he pages through the images again. Then shakes his head. "No, sorry."

"You sure?" Steve asks. "It was used in a jewelry story robbery five years ago, and then turned up again last night on one of the guys who tried to nab Danny. So if you know anything, anything at all--"

"Come on." Kamekona hands the phone back to Steve. "You know I'd help you if I could."

"We know that," Danny assures him. "Listen, can you ask around? We think it would have been purchased recently, maybe in the past week or two."

"I'll see what I can do," Kamekona says with a nod.

"Mahalo," Steve says, pocketing his phone. "We appreciate it. Catch you later, man."

As they turn to leave, Kamekona calls out after them. "Hey, want to try the flavor of the day? Mango-lime, with a hint of chili pepper. Part of my new South of the Border flavor series."

Danny's eyebrows rise in dismay as he turns back to the stand. "Uh, no. No thank you."

"Come on, it's very tasty, I promise you."

Steve backs away from the stand. "We'll take your word for it."

"No, you tell me what you think. I do you a favor, you do me a favor, right?" Kamekona waves a hand to the kid working behind the counter. "One special, for my friends here."

Danny wonders just how and when they became professional shave ice taste testers, but Kamekona had a point. Although honestly, he'd rather slip a fifty into Kamekona's palm. That's how they used to do it.

"Here you go, my friend." Kamekona hands Danny a cup mounded high with bright orange ice with two plastic spoons sticking out of it, then crosses his arms over his chest and waits expectantly. "You be honest with me now."

Steve looks at the cup of ice, then at Danny. "You first," he insists.

*****

"I am never going to get that taste out of my mouth," Danny complains as they push through the double doors leading to the office. "That was a whole world of wrong, right there."

"I don't know," Steve says. "It was different, but not so bad."

"Not bad? Not bad? How was that not bad?"

Chin glances up from the table as they approach. "What was bad?"

"Mango-lime-chili shave ice," Danny tells him.

"I don't know, sounds kind of interesting."

Danny throws his hands in the air. "I give up," he says to the ceiling.

Must be something about all the sunshine. Makes people on the island crazy.

"Don't give up yet, we've got a list of recent parolees for you to go through," Chin says. "I've sent you the the files."

"Thanks." Danny nods to Chin. He stops and pours himself another cup of coffee, then heads for his office.

There are nine files waiting for him. Danny sighs and gets down to work, clicking on the oldest one first. He takes his time reading through them, reacquainting himself with the details of the cases. A couple of them are from long ago, from his rookie days. When he and Rachel were first married. From when life was all about going to work and putting the bad guys in jail, then going home to his wife and baby girl. It was all he had ever wanted out life, really. He'd thought it would last forever.

He had been a bit too cocky back in those days.

He pages through each case, reading and taking notes. Just as he's finishing up, a quiet knock on the door startles him. "Hey, how's it going?" Steve asks.

Danny shrugs. "It's going."

He tries to sound nonchalant but Steve comes into his office, slides a hip up on the edge of Danny's desk and leans in close. "What's wrong?"

You, Danny wants to answer. Draping yourself over my desk like that.

"Eh." he waves a hand. "Memories. Old cases, rookie mistakes. It's hard to revisit the past."

Steve nods understandingly. "Don't let yourself get bogged down in it. The past is the past."

"Oh, thank you. And here I thought the past was the present."

"Okay, Okay, I know it sounds trite," Steve concedes. He ducks his head and laughs in a way that Danny finds annoyingly endearing. "But it's true that you can't dwell on the past. You learn from it and move on."

"I hear you," Danny says. "Maybe someday, you know?"

While it's true that he has learned a lot since he was a rookie cop, he'll be damned if he can figure out what he's learned from his past with Rachel. Other than you can't go back again, because you'll screw up things up just as badly the second time around.

"Hey, you must have learned something, since you're a damn good cop, Danny," Steve tells him.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, flattery will get you everywhere," Danny says with a dismissive wave. Still, he appreciates the vote of confidence. "I'm good. Really. It's just weird seeing all these cases again. Plus this thing with Kathy Brownstone. I mean, what the hell happened to my instincts?"

"So you trusted the wrong person." Steve shrugs. "Hey, I let myself get taken in by my old buddy Nick. It happens. Someone once told me it means you're human."

Danny laughs, surprised that Steve remembered what he had said. "I don't know who that was, but I'm pretty sure he was full of shit."

"Most of the time, he is." Steve assures him. "Now come on. You need to eat something. It's after eight o'clock."

Startled, Danny checks the clock. "Whoa. I seriously lost track of time. And now that you mention it, I'm starving." His stomach rumbles ominously.

"I already picked up sandwiches," Steve says. "How does turkey on rye with coleslaw and Russian dressing sound?"

"It sounds like heaven." Danny's heart does a happy little flipflop. "You are my most favorite person in the entire world, do you know that? Aside from Grace, of course."

Steve smiles back at him. "What are you waiting for then? You can present the prime suspects over dinner."

Energized now, Danny scrambles out of his chair and follows Steve into the main conference area, where his sandwich awaits. A short time later, they're settled around the table, sandwiches and chips spread out, bottles of water in hand. Danny sends the pertinent files to their accounts, then loads three mugshots up onto the main screen.

"Okay," Danny says, taking a drink of his water. "I narrowed it down to three likely suspects. I testified in all three trials, so they know my name and face. And all three have reason to blame me for their convictions.

"Contestant number one is Michael Dunn. Paroled a month ago, missed his last meeting with his PO. Whereabouts currently unknown. He was convicted of running an auto theft ring, and also of aggravated assault when he tried to run down the owner of a 2008 BMW 750 that he was in the process of stealing."

"Nice," Chin comments.

"Yeah," Danny agrees. "As if murder would be an improvement over car theft. Not too bright. And has what one might call 'anger issues'--he rammed into my squad car when we tried to arrest him. Then claimed it was an accident. And that he'd 'get me for this'."

"Not too bright, and holding a grudge," Steve says. "Good candidate."

Danny takes a huge bite of his sandwich and Russian dressing spills out the other side of it, directly onto the smart table. He winces, then reaches for the stack of napkins Kono slides over to him. "Thank you," he whispers.

She nods at him, clearly fighting back a grin.

"Contestant number two," he announces. "Alan Churchhill. Released two months ago, missed his last PO meeting. Venture capitalist, convicted of manslaughter in the stabbing of his business partner, who he was convinced had double-crossed him. This is one cold, cold man with a violent past. Has a thing for revenge. Kind of like it's his hobby."

"And contestant number three. Sammy 'The Clipper' Forino. Ran a small-time drug operation." Danny pauses to take another drink of his water.

"The clipper?" Kono asks, nose wrinkling as if she smells something foul. "That doesn't sound good."

"Nah. It's not what you think. His father ran a barber shop. Sammy parlayed it into a drug distribution center. I actually went in undercover as a customer." Danny smooths a hand over his hair, shuddering at the memory. "It was very traumatic."

Steve snickers and Danny resists the urge to throw his dressing-soaked napkins at him.

"Anyway, I got the impression he just wasn't right in the head. Definitely the kind of guy who would hold a grudge."

"Okay," Steve says. "We see what we can find on these guys."

"Hear anything about your brother, Matt?" Kono asks.

"Checked with some guys I know, and they tell me the case has gone cold. No leads, no activity," Danny tells her. He doesn't know whether to be relieved or disappointed.

"We can't rule him out completely, but we'll focus on these guys first," Steve says. "Okay?" His eyes are on Danny, and he looks worried all over again.

Danny shrugs. "Okay."

He finishes his sandwich, trying not to think about the last time he saw Matt.

*****

It's after 10 pm by the time they get to Steve's house. The unmarked car is already out front and Steve takes a moment to go over details of the case with the officers. Danny hangs back, waving a greeting to them. The woman looks vaguely familiar, he's pretty sure they've met before but his brain is sluggish at this point, the long day is catching up to him and all he wants to do is curl up and go to sleep. Maybe right here, on the front lawn.

"Come on, Danny." With a hand to the small of Danny's back, Steve herds him into the house. "You're dead on your feet."

"Says you." Danny yawns, then stumbles over the threshold of the door. "Okay, maybe."

"Do you need anything? Some water?" Steve locks the door behind them and activates the alarm system.

"Nah. I'm good." Danny rubs his eyes. They feel gritty and itchy, as if dust has been blowing into them all day. "Oh, wait--maybe a shirt to sleep in?"

"I'm on it. You go on up." Steve rubs Danny's back all too briefly, then lets his hand slip away.

Danny heads up the stairs and and into the guest room. He considers showering--he's still got that hospital smell all over him--but when he switches the light on in the guest room, the bed is right there in front of him, beckoning with its soft white sheets and fluffy pillows and good god he's ready to crash. The shower can wait.

He's unbuttoning his shirt when Steve taps lightly on the door. "Yeah, come in," Danny says, slipping the shirt off his shoulders.

"In case you get cold during the night," Steve says as he enters the room. He's carrying a neatly folded white quilt with a blue t-shirt resting on top. "A quilt if you need it, and here's a clean shirt."

A frown creases his forehead as he stares at Danny. It takes Danny a moment to realize Steve is looking at the bruises on his shoulder. "It's nothing," Danny assures him, rubbing a hand over the discolored skin. "Doesn't hurt. Much."

Steve places the quilt and shirt on the bed. "Let me see," he insists.

Danny pulls his hand away as Steve moves closer, standing directly in front of him. "Honest, it's fine, Steve."

Reaching out, Steve brushes his fingertips over the bruised skin and Danny breathes in sharply as Steve traces the outline of the bruise. "Looks bad. Did they give you ice for it at the hospital?"

"It's possible." Danny finds himself fascinated by the way Steve bites his lower lip as he examines the bruise. "I, uh, don't remember much."

Steve's gaze sweeps across Danny's chest, lingering over his naked skin and Danny's heart beats faster. It feels dangerous, being half-dressed with Steve standing so close, watching him with that quiet intensity. Dangerous and intriguing and Steve's fingers are still on Danny's shoulder and Danny wonders what would happen if he stepped closer, if he pressed himself up against Steve--

"I'm good," Danny says abruptly. He steps back and Steve's hand drops from his shoulder. "Doesn't hurt. Hell, I don't even remember how it happened."

Steve nods distractedly.

Danny grabs the t-shirt from the bed. "Thanks for this. I'll need to stop and pick up some clean clothes tomorrow. Actually, I dropped a load off at the laundromat last week," he says, well aware that he's babbling now. "They're probably ready, we should maybe stop there too, and--huh. Cute, Steven. Real cute."

The t-shirt has a rainbow striped surfboard emblazoned on the front with rainbow striped palm trees on either side and a logo emblazoned across the top that reads "Born to Surf".

Steve grins proudly. "It was on the top of the pile."

"Right." Danny slips the shirt on over his head, wincing as he struggles to get his arm through the sleeve.

Oh, right. His shoulder.

"Come here," Steve says. "Let me get that." He helps Danny get the t-shirt on, holding Danny's arm steady as he slides it through the sleeve.

"I can dress myself, thank you," Danny grumbles, even though he appreciates the help. And now Steve is standing way too close, yet again, as he adjusts the shirt over Danny's shoulders.

This is what happens when he goes on a date to try and stop thinking about Steve. He ends up with Steve's hands all over him, yet not in the way he wants. It's torture. Sheer torture.

"Looks good on you. So, when do I get to see you surf, huh?" Steve asks.

"When pigs fly. Or, in keeping with the island's wildlife, when wild boars fly." Danny peers at himself in the mirror. The shirt is ridiculous. As is surfing. All it's good for is falling into the water and--

"Oh," he says, suddenly excited. "Surfing."

Steve cocks his head to one side. "Yeah, and?"

"Kathy said something about surfing when we were in the bar. She and a girlfriend were surfing--on Thursday? Or Friday?" Danny frowns, confused. "But there were too many jellyfish and they closed the beach. When was that?"

"It was in the news," Steve says. "It was at Ala Moana Beach Park. We should look through the news footage--maybe she's on it, and if we have a face, we can get an ID on her."

Danny nods. "It's definitely worth a try."

"I'll call the studios first thing in the morning," Steve says. "Meanwhile, try and get some sleep, okay?"

As Steve turns to leave, Danny calls out after him. "Steve, hey. Thanks. For this," he plucks the hem of the worn, soft t-shirt, "and for, uh--everything. I appreciate it."

And he truly does. He's exhausted and frustrated and his head still hurts and he's so fucking grateful that Steve knows what his favorite sandwich is and that he has a great big comfortable guest bed and, yeah. Everything. Even the touching. Maybe even especially the touching.

Another warm smile. "You're welcome, Danny."

Steve leaves the room, closing the door behind him and Danny desperately wants to call him back in, pull him down onto the bed and wallow in all that warmth and affection. Which of course, wouldn't happen. It couldn't happen, not with Steve so instead Danny simply flops down on the bed, pulls quilt up and mashes his face into the pillow.

Within minutes he's deeply, soundly asleep.

*****

It's early in the morning when Danny staggers into the kitchen, yawning as he scratches the back of his neck. There's a full pot of coffee on the counter and Danny makes a beeline for it--maybe this protective detail business isn't so bad after all. He had slept surprisingly well, due in part to sheer exhaustion but also, the bed was amazing and unlike his apartment, there was no one wandering around on the floor above him all hours of the night.

Grabbing a mug, Danny fills it with gloriously aromatic coffee and adds a dash of milk from the fridge before settling into a kitchen chair to enjoy it. It's a quiet morning with the low sun filtering in through the windows and birds chirping merrily in the bushes. It's almost enough to make him forget that someone is out to get him.

He's halfway through his first cup and slipping into a meditative state of mind when Steve strolls in through the back door. "Good morning, sleepyhead."

And Danny's peaceful morning is shattered.

Steve is apparently went out for an early morning swim, since he is now dressed solely in a pair of wet board shorts which sag low on his hips, leaving a ridiculous amount of smooth, tanned skin exposed. He looks absolutely, unreasonably gorgeous and Danny wants him. Wants to do dirty, filthy things to every inch of him.

"How's the shoulder?" Steve asks as he rubs a towel over his wet hair. He's close enough that Danny could reach out and run a thumb--or a tongue--over the cut of his hipbones.

"Huh?" Danny asks, unable to drag his eyes away. "My what? Shoulder?"

There's line of fine dark hair leading from Steve's navel down to the waistband of his shorts and Danny really, really wants to see where that line of hair leads to.

"Maybe I should let you finish your coffee first?" Steve seems amused as he leans over and peers into Danny's cup and fuck, could he get any closer?

"By the way, I like what you've done with your hair," Steve adds. He's laughing now, the son of a bitch. "On you, it works."

"Shut up, please," Danny finally manages. He runs a hand over his head, which he knows is sticking out in all directions. "You wish you had hair as amazing as mine."

Okay, so maybe he and his hair are not at their best in the morning.

"You keep right on believing that." Steve flashes a bright smile at Danny. He seems completely delighted by Danny's crankiness.

Sometimes, Danny truly worries about Steve's sanity.

A smile still playing on his lips, Steve drops the towel on the counter and heads for the fridge, retrieving a pitcher filled with some kind of frothy green liquid. It looks dreadful.

"I'm not even going to ask what that is," Danny says, grimacing. He drains his cup in one gulp.

"It's a wheatgrass blend with bee pollen. Want some?"

"No, no I do not want some. No human being should be ingesting wheatgrass. We are not cows, Steven. Cows eat grass. Horses eat grass. Humans do not eat grass. Or pollen. Not if they can help it. " Danny shakes his head as he helps himself to another cup of coffee. "And you, you are a freak, I swear. Up at what, six in the morning to swim laps around the island? Who does that?"

"Don't knock it until you've tried it." Steve pours himself a tall glass of the wheatgrass drink. The thick liquid makes a horrid plopping sound as it fills the glass. "It's a great way to wake up. Sure you don't want to taste it?" He offers the glass to Danny.

Danny flinches. "No, please, get that away from me. Let me just say, I can think of far better ways to wake up."

Most of which involve Steve and his board shorts and Danny pulling them down with his teeth.

Steve's smile is unexpectedly sly. "Oh? You want to tell me about them?" He leans against the counter, clearly waiting for Danny to continue.

Danny blinks at Steve. "No, uh, no, I do not." He rises from his chair and heads to the fridge to get milk for his coffee. He does not need this--Steve and his flirty teasing, first thing in the morning.

"No, come on, Danny," Steve's tone turns downright cajoling. "I want to hear it."

"No, no, no, trust me, you do not. And yes, my shoulder is feeling much better," Danny says, deliberately changing the subject.

"That's good." Steve drains his glass, then wipes his mouth with the back of his hand.

"And thank you for the coffee." Danny toasts Steve with his mug before taking a long swallow.

"You had a rough day yesterday. I figured you could use it. Did you sleep okay?"

"Yes. I slept very well, actually, despite the t-shirt." Danny peers down at his shirt. "Damn rainbows are very noisy."

Steve laughs again.

"I'm glad I'm so amusing in the morning, I truly am--"

Danny is interrupted by the sound of his phone ringing and he excitedly pulls it from his pocket. He's the one grinning now. His day is about to get a whole lot better. "Hey, monkey, how are you?" he asks as he answers the phone.

As Grace chatters away in his ear, Danny catches the indulgent smile on Steve's face. "Uncle Steve says hi," Danny tells her. "You'd be proud of him, he's drinking green stuff. It's full of vegetables."

He laughs as this sets her off in a whole other direction. He slides his feet up on a chair and leans back, basking in the sound of his little girl, happy and excited and life isn't so bad at all, not when he has this to enjoy.

*****

Danny closes his eyes and pinches the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger, trying to ward off the headache lurking behind his eyeballs. He takes a deep breath, opens his eyes again and reaches for the control, backing up to view the footage he just missed.

"Any luck?" Kono asks as she passes by.

"Nothing yet," Danny says. The camera pans over the crowd on the beach as they pack up their gear. The next shot is a closeup of several jellyfish washed up on shore, their transparent bodies gleaming in the sun. "Yuck."

"Yeah. I got stung by one once when I was surfing," Kono tells him. "Right on my thigh. Swelled up like a balloon. Hurt like hell."

"Ouch." Danny pauses the playback. "You do realize that this is not exactly encouraging me to take another surfing lesson."

"Come on, it wasn't so bad." Kono laughs. "I've known people who have been surfing nearly every day for their entire lives and haven't gotten stung."

"That's because back in the days they first started surfing," Chin says as he leans out of his office, "jellyfish swarms were a rare thing. Now with pollution and overfishing, they're taking over the seas."

Danny frowns. "That's a depressing thought."

"You got that right. But depressing or no, we still need to eat lunch." Chin waves a menu at Danny. "I was going to order in from Sugoi. Want anything?"

"Oh yeah. I'll have the usual," Danny tells him. "Thanks, man."

"One Teri Beef, got it," Chin says. He and Kono head toward Steve's office and Danny turns back to the screen, hits the play button and watches carefully.

That's when he spots her. Kathy is walking up the beach, carrying a surfboard under her arm and talking to the woman beside her. She's wearing a sweet little red swimsuit and Danny scowls at the screen, still angry over being had.

He hits the pause button on the remote. "Hah, got you."

Kathy had just turned to face the camera as she walked. After backing up a few frames, Danny has a perfectly clear image of her.

"That her?" Chin asks as he and Steve settle in at the table.

"Yup. How do I print from here again?" Danny asks. Damn technology, always changing, just when he thinks he's got it figured out.

Chin leans over the table, taps a few buttons on the touch screen, and Danny hears the hum of their printer starting up. "Thanks," Danny tells him.

Glancing up, Danny sees that Steve has moved closer to the screen, examining the image carefully. "What is it?" Danny asks.

Steve points to her surfboard. "That logo--can you zoom in on that for me?"

Danny looks down at the table, then lifts his hands helplessly. "Uh, I might--"

"Right here." Chin points to a control panel.

"Got it." With a touch of his finger, Danny selects a section of the image, and after a few false starts, finds the zoom feature. "How's that?"

"Perfect," Steve says. "I know where she rented her board."

*****

A quick visit to Surf Bruddahs with Kathy's picture and they've got a name--Linda Reynolds. It doesn't take long for them to figure out that it's yet another alias, but the receipt has a phone number on it for a small motel right outside of town.

The motel is a low rent kind of place, tucked away down a side road, nowhere near the beach. The screen door sags as Steve pulls it open, paint flaking from the frame. The air smells of mildew. With a worn rug, threadbare bedspread and scuffed, dirty walls, it's a motel that has seen better days.

"Makes my place look downright palatial," Danny comments. He finds the trash can, but it's empty. Figures. That would be too easy.

Steve gives him a look. "No, not really."

"It's all relative, okay?" Not that Danny is fond of his tiny living quarters. But it's certainly better than this. "Place looks like it was cleaned out though."

"We'll get the techs in here, maybe they can find something." Steve picks up a pad, eyeing it carefully, holding it so the light could catch any impressions. "Or maybe not." He shakes his head and tosses it aside.

As Steve looks under the bed, Danny opens the dresser drawers, running a hand over the bottom of them, looking for anything, a scrap of paper, a receipt, something that might lead them to Kathy. Or Linda. Whatever. The nice, cute woman with the freckles and blond hair who turned out to be anything but nice.

He heaves a sigh. "All I wanted was a nice night out with a girl. Not a night in the hospital."

Steve pulls the bedspread off, then lifts the thin mattress and peers underneath. "You know how to pick them, Danny."

"Yeah." Danny crouches down and pulls the bottom drawer open. "What, you think you could do better?"

"Uh huh." Steve circles around the bed and checks the other side of the mattress.

Danny closes the drawer and opens the one next to it. Still nothing. "Really?" he scoffs.

"Clearly, it's something you need help with," Steve points out.

"Okay, okay," Danny says. He sits on the edge of the dresser, watching as Steve checks the inside of the closet. Danny folds his arms against his chest and bumps the heel of his foot aimlessly against the face of the drawers. "Pray tell, who do you think I should be dating?"

This ought to be good. As if Steve has ever dated--all he does is spend the occasional night with Catherine. Not exactly a relationship. Steve's only serious relationship is with him--hell, they spend almost all their free time together.

"Well." Steve leans a shoulder against the frame of the closet but then hesitates before continuing. He's watching Danny with an odd expression on his face, one that Danny can't quite figure out.

"Come on, come on, Mr. Know-It-All." Danny's half annoyed, half intrigued. "Enlighten me with your dating wisdom."

"Okay." Steve nods sharply. He points a finger at Danny. "I have it on good authority that you like my thighs."

Danny's foot stops swinging.

"And," Steve continues. "You think I smell nice."

"Oh god." Mortified, Danny covers his face with his hands. "I didn't say all that out loud, did I?"

"You think I'm cute, but sometimes," Steve says, his voice growing soft, with a hint of wonder in his tone. "You think I'm beautiful. And it makes you crazy."

Danny's face burns hot. "You weren't supposed to know any of that, Steve, I--oh fuck."

"Danny," Steve says gently.

Dropping his hands, Danny sees that Steve is smiling at him, a warm, open smile, and there's nothing but affection in his gaze. Danny doesn't know what to say, his heart is beating too fast and there doesn't seem to be any air at all left in the room for him to breathe.

"I know I wasn't supposed to know, Danny. And I wasn't going to say anything, but you, last night, I thought that maybe you wanted to. With me." Steve frowns and scratches the back of his neck. "I should have told you before, but now--"

A car door slams, and Danny jerks his head to the open door of the motel room. A van has pulled up--the HPD evidence technicians are there, with maybe the worst timing ever in the history of bad timing.

Steve flashes him a sheepish grin and turns away, heading toward the door to greet the technicians.

Danny tries to remember how to breathe. It all makes sense now, the way Steve had looked at him last night. He wonders what else he had said while under the influence, what kind of rude suggestions he may have made and Steve, Steve doesn't look upset at all, he seems...happy?

"Danny," Steve calls out. "Come on, let's leave the evidence to the professionals."

Danny nods, sliding off the dresser. He follows Steve out the door and to his car. As soon as he swings the door shut, it's just the two of them in the car, the silence broken only by the low rumble of the engine as Steve accelerates onto the highway. Taking a deep breath, Danny's about to speak when his phone rings.

He grabs it eagerly, glad for the distraction. "Chin," he says, "what's up?" He puts the phone on speaker so Steve can listen as he drives.

"Got more on Forino. There's been no sign of him in Jersey in ten days, since his PO meeting."

"He's sounding more and more like our top suspect," Steve says.

"We've checked all outgoing flights over that period against all his known aliases, but so far, nothing. Not surprising, I'm sure he's gotten a new one since then. NJPD are working on it at their end. By the way, Danny, Detective Lenmar says hi."

Danny snorts. "That schmuck. I'm sure he does."

"We've got a possible ID on Kathy aka Linda's surfing friend, so Kono and I are going to check her out," Chin tells them. "She works in a diner over on Kokee Street."

After updating Chin on their progress, Danny tucks the phone away. It's him and Steve again, alone in the car. Steve is being quiet, too quiet, his eyes set firmly on the road as he drives. Danny shifts in his seat, tugs on his seat belt, drums his fingers on his thigh and god, the silence is killing him but every time he opens his mouth he has no idea what the hell to say.

It's taken a long time for him to get his life back on track since the divorce. His brief affair with Rachel had turned things upside down again, but now that things are good in both his professional and personal life, he's being presented with an opportunity to screw it all up again.

"I might be older, but I'm not really any wiser," Danny says.

"Okay," Steve says. His hands tighten on the steering wheel but his face remains carefully blank as he watches the road.

Danny hates that look. "Pull over," he says. "Over there, in the overlook area."

Steve glances sharply at him. "What, are we being followed or something?"

"No. Just pull over, okay?"

Steve slows the car, then pulls off the highway into the viewing area, a wide expanse overlooking the sea and the islands beyond. It's a breathtaking view, of course, blue skies, clear blue ocean--but Danny's not interested in the view. Not that one, at any rate.

As soon as Steve shifts the car into park, Danny twists around in his seat, unlatches his seat belt, and leans over the center console. "Come here."

He reaches for Steve and Steve doesn't hesitate, he immediately leans in, meeting Danny halfway and then they're kissing. It's a slow, sweet kiss, maybe a bit cautious and yet the way Steve's lips slide over his makes Danny's toes curl. Danny rubs a thumb over Steve's jaw, marveling at the roughness of his beard, the way Steve grunts and tries to get closer. After a moment's fidgeting, Steve murmurs wait, let me just as he unbuckles his seat belt and then he's halfway into Danny's seat, pushing Danny back against the door and the kiss turns messy and little desperate and it's completely, utterly fantastic.

"Please tell me this is a good idea," Danny says, fingers twisting in the collar of Steve's shirt.

Steve nuzzles Danny's neck. "This is a good idea, Danny. A very good idea."

"Right," Danny says as he tries to catch his breath. It certainly feels like a good idea, with the way Steve is nibbling under his chin. Danny tilts his head back and threads his fingers through Steve's hair. "Oh, fuck that's good."

"Jesus, Danny, the things I want to do to you," Steve murmurs against his skin.

Danny shifts in his seat. "I want you to do those things too. I really truly, honestly, do." He kisses any part of Steve that he can reach--his chin, his ear, his forehead. "Come here, you." He lifts Steve's head and kisses his mouth.

When Steve pulls back, he slides a hand down over Danny's chest, thumb gently pressing against a nipple and Danny moans, arching into Steve's touch and it's embarrassing how turned on he is already but Steve is pretty much in the same shape, nuzzling the palm of Danny's hand, eyes half-closed and yeah, there are things Danny wants to do to Steve, too, filthy, dirty, delicious things.

His thoughts are interrupted by an odd chiming sound, and to his great disappointment Steve slips away, falling back into his seat, eyes dazed and unfocused. "My phone," Steve explains.

"Okay." Danny wipes the back of his hand over his mouth. His lips are tingling. He wants to kiss Steve again.

Steve digs a hand into his pocket, pulls his phone out and frowns at the screen. "Damn it. I have a meeting with the governor."

"Now?" Danny scowls.

"Twenty minutes." Steve leans back in his seat and sucks in a deep breath, letting it out slow. "He scheduled it last week. Something about budget allocations."

Danny stares at Steve. Then hoots with laughter. "Lucky you."

Steve's expression turns downright sulky. "I'll drop you off at HQ and head over there. Although," his face brightens, "Maybe you should come with me. Protective detail, right? I'm sure the governor will understand."

"No. No way." Danny shakes his head violently. "I am officially transferring the detail to Chin and Kono until your meeting is finished."

"I don't think you have the authority to do that, Danny."

Danny glares at Steve, glares as hard as he can but the corner of Steve's lips are twitching and Danny can't help but give in and laugh. "You are such a jerk, I swear."

He leans over and kisses Steve right on his smirky lips.

"But you like my thighs," Steve points out.

"Oh god yes," Danny breathes. He slides a hand over Steve's lap, then falls back into his seat. "That I do."

"All right." Steve fastens his seat belt, grimacing. "Budget allocations. If I'm gone for more than an hour, Danny, call me with an emergency. Anything. Just get me the hell out of there."

Danny checks his watch. "You got it."

"And after that," Steve shifts the car into gear, then turns to Danny. "We're going back to my place."

The look he gives Danny is downright incendiary, and Danny feels flushed and warm all over again. "It's a date," Danny says.

*****

Danny hums happily to himself as he settles into his office to review Sammy "The Clipper" Forino's case file and history. It had taken them nearly six months to put their case together, even with the help of their informant, one of Forino's low level guys who was desperate to get out, and was willing to take a chance. Danny can remember how he felt testifying on the stand with Forino staring at him the entire time, narrow-eyed and threatening. It was more than a little disturbing, especially to a rookie.

Now, not so much. Danny relishes the thought of putting him away again.

It takes about a half hour of searching on all known associates for him to pull up a mug shot of one Frank Demaine, a two-bit punk who did time for money laundering in the early '90's. Danny's favorite Hawaiian shirt-wearing man, staring back at him from his computer screen.

"Hah," Danny says, waving a finger at the computer screen. "You are going down, buddy." He punches the "print" command and he leaves his office, heading for the printer.

"Hey, Danny," Kono says as she leans out of her office. "We got a lead on Kathy AKA Linda AKA Susan Forte. She just used a credit card in LA."

"Now that," Danny says, pointing a finger at Kono, "is good news."

"LAPD is following up on it. When is Steve due back?"

Danny checks his watch. "He said if he wasn't back within an hour, to call and tell him it's an emergency. And that was fifteen minutes ago, so--"

Kono grins. "I got it." She pulls out her phone and dials.

Danny retrieves his printout and waves it at Chin. "Got an ID on Hawaiian shirt man," he says. "Frank Demaine, known associate of Sammy "The Clipper" Forino. We've ID'd our man."

He's feeling good--they're going to nail Forino and put him back in jail and Danny is going to get his life back, a life which includes getting naked with Steve and somehow, he's going to make it all work.

He's not a rookie anymore.

"Cool, brah," Chin says. "Now we're getting somewhere." In seconds he has the main screen up and running and searching on Demaine. "Last known address is in Hoboken. No records of any recent flights--have you got a list of aliases?"

"Huh," Kono muses. "Steve's phone went straight to voicemail."

Danny frowns, unsettled. "That's not right. Why would he turn his phone off?"

Chin shakes his head. "He wouldn't."

"Hello, yes," Kono says, phone to her ear. "This is Officer Kalakaua from Five-O. Could you tell me if McGarrett still in with the governor? He--oh, okay, when was that? Thank you." Kono thumbs her phone off, looking concerned now. "He left a half hour ago."

"Shit." Danny scrubs a hand over his face. "They couldn't. Steve? Could these bozos really get the drop on Steve?"

He's trying not to panic, he truly is but it's hard not to, because Sammy and his guys, they're stupid, and stupid criminals are the most dangerous kind. Things go wrong and the next thing you know bullets are flying and Steve is not bullet-proof, no matter what he might believe.

"Anyone can get lucky," Chin says. "Or rather, unlucky."

"Yeah," Kono agrees. "This is Steve we're talking about. They're probably already regretting it."

"Let's hope so," Danny takes a steadying breath. He pulls out his phone and dials Steve's number. No dice--his call also goes straight to voicemail. "Chin, can you access the security camera footage from the governor's mansion?"

"Already on it." Chin is typing away busily on his keyboard. "Listen, why don't we--" He stops, interrupted by the sound of Danny's phone ringing.

Danny pulls out his phone and checks the screen, hoping like hell that it's Steve. "Fuck. Caller name unavailable," he says. Heart beating rapidly, Danny answers the phone and sets it on speaker. "Detective Williams."

"Detective Williams. So good to hear your voice again."

It's Forino, all right. Danny clenches a fist. "I'm sorry," he says as pleasantly as he can manage. "May I ask who is calling?"

"Cut the bullshit, Detective."

"Wait, wait," Danny continues, "I know that voice. Let me see...Forino, right? Why the hell did they ever let a piece of shit like you out of the slammer?"

"Because I'm a model citizen, that's why." Forino laughs.

Danny wants to reach straight through the phone line and strangle him.

"You're a slippery fellow, Detective Williams. So let's get down to business," Forino says. "I got something of yours. You have information I need. There's a warehouse at 1143 Pakela Street. Meet me there in forty-five minutes and we'll make the exchange. And let's not be stupid--don't go bringing any friends, all right?"

"Okay, but you know what? Since I am not stupid, I need to hear from McGarrett before I do anything." Danny's gripping the phone tight now.

There's a rustling in the background and a faint murmur of voices. Then Steve's voice comes through, loud and clear. "Hey Danny, how's it going?"

Steve sounds fine. Better than fine, actually. Almost happy. He's up to something, Danny's sure of it. "Just hang on, Steve, we'll get this all wrapped up in no time."

"Got it, Danny."

Forino's voice returns. "Feel better now? We haven't harmed a hair on his head, even though he could use a trim, quite honestly. Forty-five minutes, Williams. The clock is ticking." Forino cuts the connection.

"God damn it." Danny drops the phone and sinks into the nearest chair. "If Steve does something stupid--what am I saying, he's Steve, of course he's going to do something stupid."

"Well, hopefully he'll wait until we get there," Chin says. He points up at the map displayed on the large screen, overlayed with satellite imagery. "Here's the location of the warehouse. It looks small, probably one one story. I'd say it's a thirty minute drive from here. Parking lot in the front, and there's a small hill around back, with trees and undergrowth on the south side--looks like we've got cover for backup."

"I'll contact the SWAT team and let them know we have a situation," Kono says, phone already in hand.

Danny nods, relieved that both Chin and Kono have already assumed they're doing this by the book. "I want you two working with the SWAT team, positioned outside the warehouse, ready to move in on my call."

Chin nods in agreement, phone in hand. "Give me a minute, let me see if I can locate the plans to the building. SWAT should have them."

It's a rush to get the plan and technologies in place before it's time to leave and Danny doesn't have a chance to think about anything other than the work ahead of him. And then he's in his car, heading down the highway, going over last minute details on the phone. He gets gets to the site with five minutes to spare. Parking a couple hundred feet back, he turns the car off and retrieves his phone from the holder. Kono and Chin are just getting into in place--a quick 'copter ride brought them two miles past the warehouse to a waiting car.

"Danny," Kono says in a soft voice.

Danny holds the phone closer to his ear. "Yeah?"

"I got eyes on Steve. He's in a chair, hands tied behind his back. He seems okay. There are three guys, Forino, Demaine, and someone else--younger guy. Dark curly hair, about six foot."

"Sounds like the guy from the bar. Okay. Hopefully those two guys are the only ones Forino brought with him. Listen, I'm pretty sure Forino isn't planning on letting me and Steve walk away from this--"

"I know. We got your back, Danny."

Her voice is soft and reassuring and Danny is impressed. She might be a rookie, but despite Steve's bad influence, she's becoming one hell of a cop. "All right. Good. The mike, it's live, right?"

"Chin says to stop worrying about the mike."

"Okay, okay. I'm heading in." Danny takes one last look in the rear view mirror and confirms that he's still unable to see the miniature microphone tucked away in the knot of his tie. Then he unstraps his weapon and locks it in the glove compartment.

He drives the last few hundred feet to the warehouse, parking in the space just beyond the door. Wiping his sweaty palms on his pants, he takes a steadying breath and squares his shoulders. He knows how to do this. He opens the car door and climbs out. As he slams the car door shut, the warehouse door swings open. It's Demaine, minus the hideous shirt.

"Detective Williams," he says with a nod. "Good to see you again."

"Yeah. I wish I could say the same," Danny says. "Hey, I see you managed to find yourself another weapon." He nods in the direction of the 45MM tucked into Demaine's waistband. "Maybe you'll be able to hang onto that one."

"And maybe, Detective, I'll even get to use this one," Demaine says evenly. "Come on, you know the drill."

Danny raises his arms as Demaine pats him down for weapons. "Hey, hey, watch it there. I'm not that kind of guy, you know?"

Demaine scowls at him as he straightens up. "This way."

He ushers Danny through the door and it takes a few seconds for Danny's eyes to adjust from the bright sunlight to the gloomy interior of the warehouse. He blinks, momentarily disoriented as he breathes in musty, stale air. The main floor of the warehouse stretches out before him, filled with empty metal shelves.

Demaine indicates an aisle and Danny heads down it, all the way to the end. And there they are, in an open office area--Forino, leaning against a large wooden desk, the younger guy standing a few feet to the side, alert and wary. There's a shoulder holster clearly visible under his jacket.

And then there's Steve. Steve is sitting in an office chair, hands tied behind his back, one knee bouncing as he taps his heel against the floor. He nods a greeting to Danny and Danny feels a flood of relief at the sight of him alive and well.

"Steve," Danny says as he approaches. "You okay? This goon treating you right?"

"I'm good, Danny. Real good. How are you doing?" Steve's grin makes the hair on the back of Danny's neck rise. Fuck, he's definitely planning something. Danny fervently hopes it doesn't involve explosives.

"You can shut up now," Demaine says to Steve. Steve raises his eyebrows, but doesn't say anything more.

Danny grows even more worried. He comes to a halt a few feet from Forino, close enough to smell the stink of his lousy aftershave. "All right Forino, I'm here. What do you want to know?"

Forino laughs. He's gone completely gray now, and he's lost weight, no longer the portly crime boss he was ten years ago. But his eyes still burn with the same intensity and his laugh is high-pitched wrong and yeah. Not right in the head. "I want to know all sorts of things, Detective. But you know which particular piece of information I'm after."

"Right. But being that I wasn't born yesterday, what kind of assurance do I have that you're not going to have us both killed the moment I give you the information?" Danny turns to stare pointedly at Demaine. "Because I have to tell you, I don't like this guy very much."

"You're just going to have to trust me," Forino says.

"Trust the word of a convicted felon? How stupid do I look?"

"I don't hold any grudge against you. You were only doing your job. I want to know who ratted me out. And him," Forino jerks his chin toward Demaine, "he does what I tell him to do."

From the look on Demaine's face, Danny's not so sure of that. "I'll make you a deal. You release McGarrett, and I'll tell you everything you want to know."

"We're not making any deals," Demaine interjects. He pulls his weapon, strides over to Steve and presses the muzzle to Steve's knee. "Start talking. Now."

Danny's blood runs cold. "Hey, hey," he barks. "You move that gun before I stuff it down your throat, asshole."

"Frankie," Forino says sharply. "There's no need for that. Put it away."

Steve is glaring at Demaine, jaw clenched, tendons in his neck bulging and if looks could kill, Demaine would be a crumbled heap on the floor right this very moment.

"Fine." Demaine steps back, raising his arms. "Fine."

Danny wonders if it's all staged for his benefit, or if Demaine is that much of a loose cannon. He rubs the back of his neck, turning to casually flick his eyes over to the windows on the west end. There's a dark shadow behind the window--Chin, moving ever so slightly. "All right, we're good now," Danny says softly, as if to himself.

"So come on. Talk to me. It was Bobby, wasn't it?" Forino pushes away from the desk and begins pacing. "Bobby, that son of a bitch--"

It takes Danny a moment to place the name--Bobby Demayo, one of Forino's rivals. Another small time hood. "What makes you think that?"

"He's wanted my territory. He's always after my shit. Ever since I married MaryAnne. He wanted her for himself."

Danny resists the urge to roll his eyes as Forino rants on about Demayo. Then he catches a movement out of the corner of his eye--Steve is shifting in his seat, getting his feet under him, muscles growing tense. He's watching Demaine, who is busy tucking his weapon back into his waistband of his pants, no more than three steps from where Steve is sitting. Steve is now flanked by both Demaine and curly-haired guy. And neither of them are looking at Steve. Always a mistake.

"He wouldn't even come to the wedding," Forino is saying. "You would think a guy like him..."

Steve catches Danny's eye and mouths now.

Before Danny can even register what is happening, Steve is out of his chair, taking curly haired guy down with a single blow to the back of his head, while flattening Demaine with a roundhouse kick to the gut.

Shocked, Danny recovers enough to go for Forino, calling for Chin and Kono to move in. He gets a glimpse of Forino's astonished face--no more astonished than his own, he's sure--as he buries his fist into Forino's solar plexus, then follows up with a knee to his balls, leaving Forino gasping and wheezing on the dirty linoleum floor.

A shot is fired and Danny spins around to see curly haired guy staggering, hand to his shoulder, dark blood oozing from between his fingers. He drops the gun and raises his arms in surrender as Steve closes in on him, armed with Demaine's gun. Chin is slapping cuffs on Demaine and Kono appears out of nowhere to pat down Forino, pulling his arms behind his back to cuff him.

And just like that, it's over.

"Aw, guys, you didn't even need us," Kono says. She sounds disappointed.

"Come on, you know that's not true." Steve grins at her as he pulls the remains of the rope from his wrists.

Danny finally finds his voice. "What the hell was that?" he asks Steve. "Tell me, please, what the hell did you think you were doing?"

Steve's expression turns confused. "Taking these guys down?"

"Taking them down? Taking them down?" Danny shouts. "You were tied to a chair. Tied, Steven. If you are tied to a chair, how am I supposed to know you're going to take them down?"

"I gave you the signal--"

"Yes, you gave me the signal. But you were tied to a chair," Danny says, and he really, really wants to strangle Steve, because that face, Steve is giving him that face that says he has no idea what the issue is here.

"No I wasn't." Steve holds up the cut ropes, cut with god knows what, some super secret knife hidden in his watch band, or maybe with the sheer force of his mind, Danny has no idea.

"But see, I didn't know that, so when you give the signal, I am like, five steps behind you, because I thought that maybe this was my operation, since I was under the assumption you were tied to a chair". Danny accentuates each of the last few words with a poke to Steve's chest.

"Danny," Steve takes Danny's hand by the wrist and pulls it down. "I'm still the team leader--"

Danny yanks his hand free. "Not when you are tied to a chair," he yells.

Steve lifts his hands, placating. Danny turns away, gritting his teeth. He sees Forino being pulled to his feet, still red-face and gasping for breath. "And you, you stupid ass, was this worth it? You finally get your sorry ass out of jail, and now you're going back in when you could have let it go and moved on with your life. For what? For revenge? It wasn't Bobby, you schmuck. You want to know who ratted you out?"

"Danny," Steve says softly. He puts hand on Danny's shoulder, but Danny shrugs him off.

"It was John Clark, the junkie who did the dirty work for you. John wore a wire, he told us everything he knew, and you never once thought some little guy like that would turn on you. And the poor jerk is dead now, died of an overdose three years ago. That's how stupid you are, you are going back to jail for nothing. You got that? Nothing."

Forino looks shocked as they drag him off. The idiot, he had no idea. Danny turns to Demaine, who is being bleeding from his nose. "And, you--I should have puked all over you when I had the chance," Danny tells him.

He thinks he might puke anyway, it's sounding like a pretty good idea right now but after a few deep breaths his stomach settles and the buzzing in his ears quiets down. He leans wearily against the desk and watches the flurry of activity around him. The ambulance has arrived, and they're loading curly haired guy onto a stretcher. He looks like he'll live. Beside him, Chin is going through the desk drawers, gathering up papers and flash drives.

"You okay, buddy?" Chin asks.

Danny nods, even though he still wants to hit someone. Like maybe Demaine. He wants to hit Demaine and break every finger in both his hands so that he never ever presses a gun up against anyone's body again.

"Yeah. I'm good." Danny reaches for the knot of his tie and removes the mike with clumsy fingers, then hands it back to Chin. "Here, I think I'm done with this."

"Bummer. We're not going to get to listen in on you and Steve in the car?" Chin smiles.

A startled laugh, and then Danny scrubs a hand over his face. "That man is going to be the death of me."

"You called it though. You knew he was going to do something," Chin points out.

"Is that supposed to make me feel better?" Danny asks. "Because it doesn't. Not one bit."

Chin laughs and pats Danny's shoulder. "Look at it this way. Case is closed and we're all in one piece. Not a bad day's work."

"You know, I'm almost there," Danny raises a hand, holding his thumb and forefinger an inch apart. "Almost."

"Danny, Chin," Steve calls out. "Come on. Let's get out of here. We can deal with the paperwork tomorrow. Kono--we're done for the day. Let these guys handle it. We can pick it all up tomorrow."

"Sounds good, boss," Kono replies. She unstraps her vest and slips it off.

Chin dumps the flash drives into an evidence bag. "Don't have to tell me twice."

They head out the door. The sun is low in the sky, casting long shadows. A fragrant breeze blows in from the ocean as Danny goes straight for his car, pausing to lean against the driver's side door as the cool evening air washes over him. Steve talks with Chin and Kono as they unload their gear into the department SUV, then gives them each a friendly squeeze to the shoulder and leaves, coming up to Danny with a wary expression.

"Okay," Steve says. "So, you want to drive?"

"Yes. I would like to drive my own car, if that's all right with you," Danny snaps.

He gets in the car, pulls the door shut and starts it up. Steve slides in next to him and in a moment Danny is backing out of the parking spot and heading down the road.

"I didn't mean to step on your operation," Steve says.

Danny manages to resist the urge to bang his head on the steering wheel. "Oh, for god's sake, that not a factor here. I just--I was surprised, and in that kind of situation, I don't like surprises. Surprises and guns, they do not go together. Surprises get people killed. I like having a plan, and sticking with the plan, and not have my crazy partner do a Houdini on me and start beating on the bad guys, okay?" He's yelling again. He doesn't want to yell but he doesn't know what else to do.

"Okay. You have a point," Steve says, his voice calm and quieting.

Danny does not want calm and quieting, either. "Of course I have a point. I am nothing but points, okay? Points."

Steve is silent for a beat. "How does that even make sense?"

"It doesn't. Much like you."

"Listen, Danny, I'm sorry," Steve says. "I saw an opportunity and took it. But you weren't five steps behind. You were right with me."

"Yeah. Like that makes me feel better. Oh goody, I'm just as insane as Steve now." Danny catches Steve's grin out of the corner of his eye as Steve turns to look out the window. "You think that's funny?"

"Actually, I do." Steve smiles at him, warm and sweet and sincere.

Danny doesn't want to be charmed by that smile, he truly doesn't. He tightens his grip on the steering wheel and focuses on the road ahead, but it's too late. The anger is slipping away, replaced by relief that Steve is all right, that the case is closed, and he no longer has to look over his shoulder as he walks down the street.

They drive on for several minutes in silence, eating up the miles at a rapid pace. "How the hell did they manage to grab you anyway?" Danny asks.

"I stopped for tea after the meeting. They came up on me on a crowded street, kids running all around--I didn't want to take the chance of anyone getting hurt," Steve explains.

Danny nods. "I get that." He turns to Steve, who is still watching him carefully. "I just--I'm glad you're in one piece."

"Does that mean we're good?" Steve asks.

He's so fucking earnest, it makes Danny crazy. "Yeah," Danny says, turning his attention back to the road. "We're good. And now we're going back to your place, where we're going to be even better."

Steve nods solemnly. "It's the right thing to do."

*****

The moment they get through the door, Steve wraps his arms around Danny, pulls him close and kisses him. Then kisses him again, and again until Danny is dizzy from it, dizzy from the heat of Steve's body, from the sly sweep of his tongue, from the firm grip he has on Danny's ass. Danny sways against him--Steve is too damn tall--he's the tallest person Danny's ever kissed and Danny has to stand on his tip toes to relieve the crick in his neck and okay, fine, it's kind of hot and that freaks him out, more than a little.

"Hey, hey," Danny says, breaking off the kiss. He runs a hand down Steve's arm. "Wait. Maybe we should talk about this?"

"You've already told me everything I needed to hear," Steve says.

"That is not fair. I don't even remember what I said." Danny groans, leaning his forehead against Steve's shoulder. "I hope it wasn't too filthy."

"Actually," Steve nuzzles the top of Danny's head, "you were very sweet."

"I was not." Danny draws back, aghast.

"You said you wanted to sit on the bench and cuddle with me all night," Steve tells him with obvious delight. "It was adorable."

Danny is mortified all over again. "Naked. I wanted to cuddle naked with you."

"Maybe," Steve says. "You did grope my thighs pretty thoroughly. Which I enjoyed, by the way."

"Oh god, let's not talk about this anymore. What happened to the kissing? We were kissing, right?" Danny slings an arm around Steve's neck and pulls him in.

"You're the one who wanted to talk." Steve laughs against Danny's cheek.

"Okay. Right. I just want do know--doesn't any of this scare you?" Danny asks. "You and me, doing this? Taking a chance on ruining a great working relationship and yes, it is exactly that, despite your tendency to give me a heart attack on a regular basis."

"No, Danny," Steve says without hesitation. He brushes his lips against Danny's. "This doesn't scare me."

"Of course not." Danny shakes his head. "Look who I'm asking. Nothing scares you, does it?"

"All right," Steve says. "Want to know does scare me? Not doing this. Missing this opportunity, and losing you when you leave the islands to go back home again, because I know this isn't--"

"No, no, no," Danny says, giving Steve a little shake. "No. There is no leaving. This place is my home now, despite the jellyfish and the coconuts and mango-lime-chili shave ice. Why do you think I'm so worried about messing things up?"

Steve is even more beautiful when he smiles. "Oh," he says after a moment.

"Come on, you goof. We're done talking." Danny tugs Steve's arm. "Upstairs. Where's there's a big comfy bed and I won't need a ladder to kiss you."

He leads Steve up the stairs and into the bedroom. They're going to do this, and they're going to do it right. When they reach the bedroom, he tries to kiss Steve, but Steve resists.

"Wait," Steve says, holding up a finger. "I've been dying to do this." He reaches for Danny's tie, carefully loosening the knot.

Danny lifts his chin. "You have a thing against ties, don't you, you weirdo."

Steve pulls the tie free and tosses it on the chair with great satisfaction. "Only when you wear them." He begins to unbutton Danny's shirt.

"You have a thing against my shirts, too?"

"Yes." Steve is intent as he works, batting Danny's hands away when he tries to help.

When the shirt is fully unbuttoned, Steve pushes it off Danny's shoulders and runs his hands over Danny's chest. Big, warm hands, and Danny leans into his touch, reaching out for Steve but then Steve catches sight of the the bruise again. It's darker now, almost purple. He leans down and presses his lips to it with tender, gentle kisses and Danny closes his eyes. He can't help wallowing in it. So much affection, directed his way. He's missed this.

"Does it still hurt?" Steve asks, breath tickling Danny's skin.

"Not any more. Come on," Danny says softly. He tugs Steve down onto the bed and Steve kneels beside him, his arm around Danny's shoulder as he kisses Danny's neck.

Danny tries to pull Steve's shirt off, hands tangling in the hem but Steve is busy mouthing his skin, teeth scraping gently as he sucks a spot right under Danny's ear. Danny groans and squirms, wondering how Steve manages to find the spot that makes him hard in one second flat.

"Could you please?" he asks, tugging on Steve's shirt.

Steve pushes Danny flat on the bed, sliding over him, his heavy, solid body pressing Danny down into the mattress. It makes Danny a little crazy, especially when Steve groans, fitting their hips together perfectly, his hard cock pressing against Danny's thigh.

"Oh my god," Danny says, clutching Steve by the hips. "Get your clothes off, please. This is seriously wrong, you, with your clothes on, now of all times, after the way you wandered around half-naked this morning, you, you shameless hussy, you--"

Steve laughs, face pressed against Danny's chest.

Danny laughs too. He getting giddy at this point, so much want frying his brain but then Steve slides his mouth over a nipple and Danny's laughter turns into a moan. "Jesus, Steve--"

Danny gets his hands on Steve's shoulders, silky skin over hard muscle and all that ink, he wants, wants so much and Steve's hand is on his cock now, pressing down along the length of it through his pants, making Danny even crazier. He pushes into Steve's hand, moaning again and fuck, he's being loud. He can't help it, he's losing control and his arm is still caught in the sleeve of his shirt and he can't reach Steve's ass and he really really needs to get his hands on it, right now.

"Wait, wait," Danny gasps. He's not used to this, to being so completely overwhelmed during sex.

Steve slides off to one side, hand still on Danny's cock. "What?" He's breathless and just as dazed and befuddled. "God, Danny, you feel so good."

Okay, so maybe Danny's not the only one overwhelmed. "We're going to get naked now," he explains to Steve.

Steve nods, laying back to unbutton his pants as Danny finally gets his arm out of his damn shirt. He throws it on the floor, then climbs off the bed to remove his pants, his shoes, his socks, everything. By the time he's finished, Steve is completely naked, stretched out on the bed looking like the best kind of porn, lean body and narrow hips and long, hard cock resting against his stomach. Danny eagerly runs his hands up Steve's legs, over those fantastic thighs, then curls his hand around Steve's cock.

Steve's cock feels good in his hand, a warm, heavy weight resting against his palm. When he squeezes and rubs his thumb over the head, Steve gasps, shifting his hips restlessly. Steve is watching him, lips parted and Danny loves that mouth, loves it so much he has to kiss it again and when he does, Steve pulls him down, laying Danny out over his body.

The skin on skin contact takes Danny's breath away.

Steve gives that breath back with a slow kiss, one leg hooked around Danny's, holding him in place as he rocks up against Danny's hips.

"You want to do it like this?" Danny asks.

Steve nods. "Please," he says, low and desperate.

Danny's good with that, he's too frantic right now to do anything more complicated so he pushes his cock against Steve's hip as he slides a hand under Steve's ass, palming his cheek and pulling their bodies snug against one another. The friction is fantastic, Steve's cock burns hot against his skin and Steve's big hands are on his ass, moving him, pushing and pulling as they kiss.

It's rough and needy and not at all elegant, there's a whole lot of grunting and Danny's sure there's going to be bruises when it's all over. But it's pretty much the best sex he's ever had, especially when Steve gasps into his mouth, shoves hard up and comes. His fingers dig painfully into Danny's skin and he makes the most amazing noises, soft, needy little whimpers as he spills between them and Danny's brain simply shorts out as he grinds against Steve, hand scrabbling for a grip on Steve's sweaty shoulder and oh, fuck--

He comes in one great big shuddering rush, face pressed against Steve's neck and Steve hangs onto him tightly, murmuring encouragement as Danny rides it out.

"Oh, oh, oh, fuck. That's good," Danny gasps as the tremors finally fade. "No, better than good. Amazing."

Steve chuckles weakly. "Yeah."

"We should have sex all the time," Danny tells him. He rolls off to one side and flops on the bed, loose and relaxed and completely wrung out.

"Okay." Steve's grin is just this side of goofy. "I'm good with that."

He's so utterly adorable that Danny has to kiss him. It's a lax, lazy kiss and Danny takes his time, fascinated all over again by Steve's mouth. And by Steve's shoulder, which is right there in front of him so he kisses that too, then moves on to tattoo trailing down Steve's biceps and then he finds it necessary to lick the sweat from Steve's chest and clearly, he has way too much to do.

"I'm going to need food," Danny announces. "Before I tackle all this." He waves a hand over Steve's body.

Steve ruffles Danny's hair. "I think there's some wheatgrass smoothie left--"

"Oh my god, no, do not go there," Danny says. "Do not make me have to explain how we are not ruminants--"

"Ruminants," Steve repeats, grinning.

"Cows are ruminants," Danny explains. "And goats. Goats are ruminants. You are not a goat."

"All right." Steve stretches and grunts. "How about some eggs, then? I can make a couple of omelets."

"Now you're talking." Danny slides out of bed. "You get to cook them. I'll be in charge of toast."

He wipes his stomach clean with the tail of his shirt, and helps himself to one of Steve's clean t-shirts--no surf logo this time. He's zipping up his pants when he realizes Steve is already heading down the stairs, clad only in his underwear. "Are you kidding me?" Danny calls out after him.

Sure enough, Steve cooks the eggs while wearing only his boxer briefs, and Danny explains how this proves Steve is a shameless hussy, all the while sliding his hands down inside Steve's underwear in order to make the point. Danny also takes the opportunity to grope Steve's thighs for old time's sake and when he burns the first batch of toast, he blames Steve, and Steve's thighs, and Steve's hipbones, too, for good measure.

But the eggs are delicious--maybe Steve actually is a little better at cooking them than Danny is--and the toast is perfect, dripping with butter, just the way Danny likes it. They eat sitting at the kitchen table, Steve's bare feet resting on top of Danny's.

Danny sighs a deep contented sigh. When they finish eating, they're going go back to bed, and he's going to explore every inch of Steve's body, and then maybe they'll shower, and then go back to bed again, and tomorrow morning when he wakes up Steve will be right there next to him.

"Just so you know," Danny says, pointing a slice of toast at Steve. "You are officially the best date ever."

Steve ducks his head and laughs and Danny falls in love all over again.