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Lure me in

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Danny is different. Always has been, always will be.

He is already less-than-ordinary simply because of what he is, but even amongst his own kind, he is still different.

There are a lot of myths and legends about Danny’s kind, some of them dating back centuries, even millennia, back to a time where they still walked openly amongst ordinary humans, scoffing condescendingly at their primitive ways of life.

Of course, it’s different nowadays.

Not only because humans has advanced to a point that the tables have very much turned these days, but also because humanity as a whole has long since forgotten that Danny’s kind even exists. They forgot and then simply decided to take whatever remained of the ancient lore about his kind and started making up stories instead. The ‘supernatural’ as people so like to call it – never mind that Danny’s kind has been around just as long as humans have and that they are just as ‘natural’ to this earth as any other creature – has been romanticized to a degree it honestly makes him cringe most days.

Not to even mention that most of it is also simple nonsense.

There is no such thing as blood-drinking vampires or shape-shifting werewolves or magic-wielding wizards. The only thing out there other than ordinary humans is Danny’s kind.

The Old Bloods, as his kind prefers to refer to themselves in various different languages around the world dating back to ancient times.

These days the stories referring to his kind are a happy mixture of horror movies and romance novels and ancient mythology from all parts of history and from all around the world, but only the Greeks ever came close to describing them even somewhat accurately.

Sirens, is what they used to call Danny’s kind.

The ones that the old Greeks spoke of, merciless hunters of the deep, occasionally luring sailors to their deaths with their voices alone, even if the Song is not nearly as common as those stories made it out to be, but rather a mark of their royal bloodlines, only their royalty able to actually use the Lure to push people into doing their bidding.

Which brings him right back to his own heritage.

Because somehow Danny isn’t only an Old Blood – despite the fact that his family is very much human – but he also managed to inherit the old traits, the Lure, an ability that marks him as something akin to royalty amongst his kind. Which is a complication in his life he could honestly have entirely done without.

He is almost twenty by the time he figures out what he is – by way of accidentally stumbling across another of his kind, who simply tells him, clearly unaware that Danny hadn’t known about his heritage at all – and thankfully by then his parents have long since come clean about Danny being adopted, not their biological son but rather the child of his dad’s closest friend. Not that being adopted ever made much of a difference to him. Family is family, actual blood relation or no.

The point is, finding out he might be a little different than the rest of his family isn’t all that surprising at that point. He just hadn’t expected to inherit an actual fishtail and a literally hypnotic voice from whoever his real parents were.

Which would actually be good information to have seeing as, due to that whole Lure thing, Danny is still ‘special’ even amongst sirens.

The thing is just, while his kind might still be as numerous as ever, their numbers growing right alongside that of ordinary humans inhabiting the planet, the royal bloodlines very much aren’t, the Old Blood royalty almost extinct these days. And it doesn’t take Danny long to figure out that if his kind ever gets wind of his heritage, his abilities, he’d promptly find himself hounded by clans from all around the world vying for his favor.

Which, yeah, no thanks.

The idea of countless strangers showing up at his door to hassle him into an alliance just because he can do something funny with his voice is honestly less than appealing. So, even after learning that he is not quite as human as he had always assumed, he still keeps his additional powers quiet, keeps it entirely under wraps.

Not that it’s particularly hard.

Meeting other sirens on land is entirely fine, but in the water, while shifted, other Old Bloods would easily be able to pick up on royal bloodlines, would immediately hear the Song in his voice. Which is why Danny decided early on to avoid the ocean like the plague.

Don’t get him wrong, that bit in entertainment media about his kind shifting involuntarily just as soon as they get submerged in water is complete bullshit. The transition is always something active, something chosen, done purposely or not at all. Seriously, his kind wouldn’t have managed to stay hidden for this long if every time someone pushed them into a pool they would just, tadaa, resurface covered in scales.

Same for that whole living-in-cities-at-the-bottom-of-the-ocean thing, which, may he just say: Fuck you very much, Hans Christian Andersen.

The way Danny understands it, his kind is some sort of off-branch of homo sapiens who at some point of evolution gained the ability to live in the ocean if they so choose. Or maybe it’s the other way around and humans are an off-branch of his kind but somehow lost the ability to shift at some point in history. Either way, sirens aren’t fish and thus they don’t have gills either. Sure, they can stay underwater for a long time, just like the other mammals living in the oceans, but they still have lungs. They breathe air, not water. And thus they don’t build seashell palaces at the bottom of the oceans either.

Which is another thing all of the stories and texts and lore got wrong about them, the assumption that they would be creatures of the sea who can also live on land under certain circumstances. Quite the opposite. They are as much creatures of the land as they are creatures of the sea. They are both. Which is also where some sirens’ condescending attitudes towards humans come from, due to them being restricted to living only on land.

These days, most sirens even prefer living entirely on land, if only because the comforts of land-life are simply undeniable. You don’t have to hunt for your food, the entertainment media is far superior, and the likelihood of your children being eaten in a random shark attack is rather significantly reduced as well.

But the point is, even amongst his own kind, Danny is still different.

Because on top of the ability to grow scales and fins, he also inherited the old traits, the Lure. And since that shit is hereditary, his daughter will likely get it as well once she hits puberty.

Which is an entirely different can of worms and it’s giving him a headache just thinking about it.

+++

Sirens go through puberty just like ordinary people do, truly aren’t any different from humans in that regard.

Just that with their puberty comes the ability to grow fins and a fishtail without their parents’ aid guiding them along. And, for Danny, it also brings the rather unwelcome ability to talk people into anything he so pleases.

The first time he uses his Song, he is seventeen, has no idea yet that he is anything other than perfectly and ordinarily human, and he is trying to score with Amy Sounders from his class.

They are out by the abandoned factory, an old building where they like to hang out, a whole group of his classmates drinking and laughing and just being stupid teenagers as they are supposed to be at that age.

And he’s been working on Amy for about an hour, hoping to maybe talk her into some making-out and possibly a little more, even thinks he is getting somewhere with her based on the way she keeps leaning in close and giggling at everything he whispers into her ear.

He might not have ever noticed that there was something off at all, if it hadn’t been for a comment from Trent, one of his douchier friends.

“Man, she is out of it,” Trent snorts from where he is sitting on Amy’s other side, leaning closer and appreciatively glancing down her blouse before grinning at Danny. “She is definitely gonna put out like this, man. How much has she had?”

And Danny wants to protest.

They’ve only shared three beers and Danny drank most of it, which is barely enough to get either of them tipsy, much less actually drunk. But when he looks at Amy, he suddenly realizes that her eyes are definitely a little glassy, fixed on him like she can’t make herself look away, pressed close and still giggling, like she doesn’t even notice the way Trent is leaning over her now.

He frowns. Because now that it’s been pointed out to him, she does look kind of out of it.

Which makes no sense unless she has been drinking way more alcohol than he knows of, or unless someone slipped her something, though Danny has no idea how considering they’ve been sharing drinks almost since they got here.

Still, she is clearly not all there and the fierce scowl overtaking Danny’s face at the thought that someone might be planning to take advantage is dark and immediate, even as he reaches out to push Trent away from where he is still ogling down her blouse.

He is all for girls making their own decisions – hoorah for feminism and all that – but he also has two sisters and if anyone ever tried something on them while they weren’t able to defend themselves, he’d tear that fucker to pieces with his bare hands.

So, he just slings an arm around Amy, gets her up from her seat to lead her towards his car, shoulder-checks Trent when the asshole promptly starts wolf-whistling, clearly expecting Danny to take advantage of her in some way.

Instead, he drives her home.

Thankfully, by the time they get to her house, she has clearly recovered from whatever had her so out of it, so he won’t have to try to somehow sneak her inside.

Though, he truly feels bad for how terrified she looks when he tells her she might have been drugged, especially because she apparently didn’t notice anything at all, not before or during, can even recall the entire night in crystal clear detail, and if it weren’t for Danny telling her that she had been acting strangely, as well as remembering how easily she had let herself be led around by him, not to even mention how it took her almost twenty minutes in the car to come back to herself, she’d likely doubt she had ever been drugged at all.

Point is, he gets her back home safely, and the very next day at school she asks him out, convinced he is ‘one of the good ones’ for not taking advantage. Because standards are apparently that low.

Not that he’s complaining.

Because word spreads amongst the girls in his class, and for the rest of his time at high school, getting a date is suddenly far less stressful than it used to be.

 

It isn’t until years later, after he finally figures out what he is, what he can do, that he – in a sudden moment of clarity – realizes that Amy likely wasn’t ever drugged or even drunk, that Danny had simply been luring her without even being aware of that being a thing, much less that he was doing anything of the sort.

Which is terrifying.

The idea that he could unintentionally take another person’s free will away just by talking at them is so abhorrent to him that he instantly swears to himself never to use the Lure – or Song as some of his people like to call it – again.

So, he teaches himself to recognize the signs of whenever the Lure bleeds into his voice, that soft vibration at the back of his throat that has other people’s eyes glaze over slightly after a few minutes, drawn to him like moths to a rather deadly fire. Quite literally. You know, due to the whole sirens-sometimes-feeding-on-humans thing his kind used to indulge in.

Of course, he doesn’t entirely manage to keep to that promise of never using the Song again.

Maybe he might have managed, if only he hadn’t decided to join the police. Once on the force, he only makes it for about a year holding fast to his conviction to never use the Song on anyone for any reason ever.

It lasts right until the day they apprehend a kidnapper, some psychopath who is happy to let the little girl he took a few days before starve to death wherever he is keeping her rather than take the deal they offer him for her safe return. They are quickly running out of time, no leads to go on and no idea how much time the little girl might still have, no clue on where she is being kept or whether the man who took her left her with anything to drink or eat at all. So, Danny – who just became a father for the first time, loves his little girl, his little Gracie, with everything in him, can’t imagine what the parents of the missing child are going through – begs for a chance to interrogate the perp. Alone.

He gets it. And it takes him about ten minutes to lure the information out of the kidnapper. Afterwards, Danny doesn’t know how to feel about the commendation he gets for his part in returning the girl safely to her parents, considering he broke his promise to himself.

Still, he finds himself unable to keep from using it again when faced with a similar situation, the life of innocents on the line and only that promise to himself standing in his way.

It’s not even a year later when they are outside a school, trying to talk to the kid currently holding an entire room of his classmates hostage at gun point. Their hostage negotiator still isn’t on the scene and the kid is getting more and more agitated, so Danny goes inside. He talks the kid down within half an hour, the boy in tears by the end of it.

Then, a couple of months later a perp with enough explosives rigged in his apartment to blow the entire city block sky high, and Danny talks him into handing over the trigger, so the perp has his hands free to call his mother instead.

It becomes a bit of a thing, the entire department knowing that Danny can build some sort of ‘rapport’ with just about any perp put in front of him if given enough incentive, know that if there are hostage negotiations or anything along those lines that Danny will have the best chance at talking things around.

It’s no guarantee, mind you, not like Danny can just open his mouth and order people to do whatever he pleases.

For one, he needs to be there physically, his voice having no effect whatsoever over the phone or even with a megaphone in his hand, and secondly, he needs time for the Lure to work. It’s like weaving an intricate net around another person’s will. Give him anywhere between five to fifteen minutes with most people and he can start pushing them a little, more than that if he has to work against a particularly strong conviction.

He still never uses it to simply talk people into confessions or anything that’s simply designed to make his life easier.

But after that third time, Danny resolves that using the Lure in emergency situations, using it to protect people, to save lives, is fine, good even. He thinks that it would even be rather horrendous if he didn’t use every tool at his disposal when lives of little children and innocents are on the line.

However, he swears to himself that he will never use it in his private life.

It’s a promise he doesn’t break. Not once throughout his life.

Not even when his marriage starts falling apart and it would be so easy to win the arguments with his wife if he were to soothe Rachel’s temper a little. Not even when Rachel serves him with divorce papers while Danny had still been convinced they were both trying to work things out. Not even when he realizes that Rachel isn’t planning to petition for shared custody as they’ve discussed but has for some reason decided she wants sole custody of Gracie instead.

In the entire mess around their divorce, it’s that one decision he will never truly forgive her for.

Rachel keeps talking about how she doesn’t want to take Grace away from him, but the fact that she still wants the power to potentially do so if she ever changes her mind, wants to be able to hold it over his head as a threat…

Still, he does not break his vow not to use his Song on her even then, will not use it to make other people give him what he wants. He won’t.

Which doesn’t mean he doesn’t use all other tools at his disposal to be able to keep his little girl.

Even if that means revealing himself to his own kind as what amounts to royalty in their eyes, knowing full well what that will bring. But anything to keep Gracie.

+++

When Rachel leaves him and then takes him to court over Grace’s custody, she clearly expects to be the one to win it all, so very used to always getting her way. Rachel wants and she doesn’t care how much it will cost Danny for her to get it. Like it’s always been. He used to adore that single-minded dedication to getting her way. Though, not so much anymore.

And maybe things might have gone a little differently if Danny hadn’t been taken so entirely by surprise by it all.

Thing is just, Danny honestly hadn’t expected any of it.

His job as a cop means he always has to look out for bullets flying his way, looking for hidden motives of anyone he talks to, to never entirely trust anyone except for his partner, to watch his partner’s back just as they watch his. But that’s work. Danny has always done his absolute best to never bring that mindset home with him, sometimes spends an hour or so just driving around the city after getting off work just to clear his head from all the bullshit he witnesses some days, just so he can keep his home free of that sort of thing.

It never occurs to him that he might have to look out for hidden motives at home as well.

Which is likely the reason why it takes him until he is staring down at the divorce papers Rachel hands him to realize a number of things. Because in hindsight, Danny can see the signs, can kind of pick out when things changed, realizes that Rachel made up her mind about leaving him already weeks before she actually handed him the papers. It doesn’t take him all that long to make the leap to her only having stuck around for a little longer so she could gather evidence to strengthen her cases against him in court.

Thing is just, he never told Rachel that there is more to him than meets the eye, having seen no reason to let her in on something that barely affects his life anyway. Maybe the fact that he never quite trusted her enough to tell her should have been his first clue. But the point is, Rachel doesn’t know what he is, has no clue that Grace inherited it from him. She doesn’t know.

And when Rachel leaves him, she clearly expects to take Grace with her.

Admittedly, he doesn’t realize as much right away.

At first, he simply assumes that they are going to go for shared custody, do it half and half, with both of them equally involved in their daughter’s life. They even sit down to talk it over and agree that the best thing for Gracie would be an amicable agreement between her parents, something everyone would be happy with.

He even believes Rachel.

Until mere days before the actual hearing in the family courts. When he is staring down at yet another set of papers and realizes that all of Rachel’s pretty words until now about them sharing custody have been a smokescreen of false security, so he wouldn’t think it necessary to prepare for the actual fight that is apparently coming.

He admittedly loses his head for a little while then in his panic, furious and terrified at the same time, because he has only a few days to prepare, not enough time to build a good case against his ex-wife, especially considering that she has likely spent the past couple of months making sure her own case is airtight.

Rachel is trying to get sole custody of their daughter and doesn’t even have the decency to give him a fair chance to petition for the same. And that’s just not happening. He won’t let it.

Danny might not have anything to push the odds in his favor, is fully aware that on paper Rachel might even look like the better option for Gracie to stay with, not to even mention that the courts do already have a tendency to favor the mother over the father where custody of children is concenred. But he does have something else.

His status amongst his own kind.

Up until that point he has kept his abilities entirely under wraps, made sure not to give himself away as anything special, never wanted the additional attention it will bring him. But faced with possibly losing his say in his daughter’s life, cashing in on his own status is an absolute no-brainer.

So, he makes a call.

And usually, politics of their kind are stupidly complicated, far more intricate than anything ordinary humans will ever be able to manage in all their history. But all of that instantly disappears when it’s about protecting their own kind against humans, even more so where the raising of their offspring is concerned. And especially if there is also the promise of ingratiating themselves to someone who is literal royalty amongst their kind as much as Danny likes to avoid thinking about that fact.

Point is, he makes a phone call.

And he doesn’t know what exactly happens, doesn’t know what sort of backroom machinery he has kicked loose with that one call. But it’s barely a few hours later until he gets a call from the courts, notifying him that the custody hearing for his daughter has been pushed back due to some unforeseen circumstances. His relief at getting some additional time to prepare a case against Rachel is already immense, but he has barely hung up the phone with the court aide, before there is a knock on his door and a family lawyer – in a suit that looks like it costs more than Danny earns in a month and whose services he definitely couldn’t afford – is standing on his doorstep, offering to take his case pro-bono.

 

In the end, the custody battle goes very differently from what Rachel had clearly been expecting, if you can even call it a ‘battle’ at all.

Rachel gets dragged through the mud a little in the process, the fact that she ‘started’ dating someone else pretty much the day after she handed him the divorce papers, that she moved from their house right to her ‘new’ boyfriend’s house instead, immediately makes her appear far less wholesome than she had clearly been hoping to present herself to the courts. The fact that Danny has at least some proof of them having actually come up with an amicable agreement for shared custody that she agreed to but apparently never intended to stick by. The fact that Grace is still staying with Danny at that point, at their home, weeks after their divorce was finalized and Rachel has long since moved out, and that there have been no problems whatsoever so far, even without her mother’s ‘essential presence’ to make up for Danny’s supposedly workaholic tendencies.

He might even have felt a little bad for how it goes down in the end. But for one, none of what is said about Rachel is a lie. And secondly, he is still far too angry for the crap his ex-wife just tried to pull on him to feel anything other than relief at getting to keep his little girl.

Danny gets sole custody.

The devastation on Rachel’s face when the ruling is announced gives him no satisfaction whatsoever. If it had been up to him, he’d never have gone for sole custody. It had been Rachel’s own decision to go the all-or-nothing route.

But Danny was never going to let her take his little girl.

Sure, he knows that his kind will come knocking just as soon as this is all over, and it’s giving him a headache just thinking about it what exactly that might entail. But it will still have been worth it.

Anything to keep his baby.

+++

Life goes on.

Danny and Grace make the ultimate team. For the first couple of months after the divorce, he even significantly cuts down on his hours, not wanting to make things any harder on Gracie than they need to be and, except for a couple of hiccups along the way, they manage the transition into a two-person household almost effortlessly.

Rachel remarries and Danny keeps his continued suspicions on just how soon after their separation Rachel and Stan supposedly ‘start’ dating to himself. That chapter of his life is over and done with and after how Rachel went about ending their marriage, even the last twinges of nostalgia for what they once had is concerned have simply been wiped away.

But they still make things work.

Grace spends at least one day a weekend with her mom, even spends a couple of weeknights with Rachel and Step-Stan whenever it works out that way. Then again, Danny never intended to cut Rachel out of their Gracie’s life, and he definitely isn’t so shitty a human being he’d make her beg for time with her daughter just because the courts gave him that power.

So, the only thing that really changes about his life is the amount of Old Bloods that start showing up in Newark. All of them coincidentally of course, on business, just passing through. And while they are there anyway, they thought they’d just stop by to say hello, just wanting to be polite, and maybe Danny could show them a good place to eat and why not join them for dinner and also bring his daughter along while he’s at it.

The entire thing drives Danny absolutely batty.

Then again, he knew this was coming the moment he made that call to ensure he himself got custody of his daughter, and he maintains it was absolutely worth it.

Doesn’t mean he has to like it. His kind is just as smugly self-satisfied as he always suspected they were.

And if another of those smug assholes comes up to him to graciously offer that Danny should feel free to show them one of the fancier places to eat and how he doesn’t have to worry about paying for dinner and that they’ll be more than happy to take care of it, Danny thinks he might just punch someone.

+++

“Stan got a job offer in Hawaii,” Rachel says carefully, standing in what used to be their kitchen, having just dropped off Gracie back at Danny’s place from their trip to the zoo.

Things have finally somewhat relaxed between them again, that ever-present tension abating a little.

Ever since the custody battle went so very differently from what she had been expecting, Rachel has lost most of her holier-than-thou attitude towards him, always at least a little cautious in how she talks to him, clearly expecting him to retaliate in some way.

So, Danny is honestly relieved that she seems to finally be realizing that he isn’t going to use their daughter to punish Rachel for how she went about things during the divorce, that he has no interest in cutting Rachel from Gracie’s life, that as far as he is concerned, she is perfectly welcome to take part as much as she pleases. Even if he is never going to forgive her for not at all planning to afford him the same.

But while he won’t ever trust her again and has lost quite a bit of his respect for her due to her underhanded tactics, he still won’t force her out of their daughter’s life. Rachel is Grace’s mother. He has no plans of coming between that.

He tilts his head in response to her rather random announcement. “Okay?”

“I don’t-,” she starts. And then something pleading in her eyes. “I don’t want to leave Grace, but Stan says he has to take the job, that it’s a career maker.”

Danny nods slowly, waits her out. He knows there is more, can read it on her face.

She clears her throat, eyes pleading. “Is there any chance you would consider moving?” she then asks carefully, cautiously.

He blinks, honestly surprised. “To Hawaii?” he asks, can hear the incredulity in his own voice.

“Yes,” she confirms. He can see her hands clench on her thighs, clearly preparing herself for an outright refusal on his part. He can even admit he admires her guts for asking at all.

Asking her ex-husband to trail after her new husband. Never let it be said that his ex-wife doesn’t have guts.

The odd thing is… At the mention of Hawaii, of moving, he doesn’t feel like instantly refusing the idea. For some reason Hawaii doesn’t actually sound so bad.

For one, moving out into the middle of the Pacific, would get him out of Jersey, away from the East Coast and all those ‘coincidental’ drop ins from his own kind still vying for his favor and driving him batty along the way.

And secondly, there is something pinging at the back of his mind at the mention of Hawaii, almost like a little tug, something saying ‘look, look’, calling his attention. Like it’s a good thing. Which is honestly just weird.

“How long is his job for?” he hears himself asking absently, even as he tries to make sense of that odd pinging at the back of his mind. “Because I can tell you now that I’m not going to uproot Grace every two years to follow Stan all around the country. And Hawaii is pretty far away from… well, anywhere. So, if it’s only for a year or so, it’ll likely be easier for us to just stay here and figure something out once you get back.”

Rachel shakes her head, something hopeful in her expression now, likely at realizing that Danny is actually considering moving at all. “No, he said if he takes this job that is it. Like I said, a career maker,” she supplies almost urgently.

Danny nods slowly, can see the hope in her eyes, the relief, clearly not having expected for Danny to so much as think about it, to simply refuse her outright.

“Let me think about it and talk it over with Gracie,” he finally says.

Rachel nods enthusiastically. “Thanks, Danny.”

He holds up a hand. “I’m not promising anything. I really have to think it over and I’d at least have to make a few calls about what a transfer would entail. Who knows how they run things on the islands.”

“Still,” she shakes her head, leans in a little to rest a hand on his arm, expression earnest. “Thank you. For considering it.”

He nods, watches her leave and doesn’t say ‘well, it was never me who was willing to tear our family apart’.

He blinks, and then reaches out to pull his notebook towards him.

Now, for some googling. He honestly knows fuck all about Hawaii beyond that vague image of white beaches and azure oceans in his head. But it goes to reason that actual life there would be a little different from what the travel catalogues so like to promise potential tourists.

+++

The move is surprisingly easy.

Grace had been sold the moment Danny showed her images of beaches and colorful sealife, and by the time they actually move even Danny is honestly looking forward to leaving, if only because things have been getting a little insane in Newark recently.

Hawaii really wouldn’t have been his first choice, but getting out of Jersey is definitely a good thing, because the sheer number of Old Bloods that started seeking him out on a daily basis had gotten plain ridiculous, to the point where it honestly started interfering with his job if only due to the amount of time all of them started taking up by appearing at the station, claiming they had details on a case, but declaring they’d only talk to him. They never have any relevant information but he still can't refuse seeing them without a good reason and they are making use of that fact.

However, he finally drew the line when he realized that Gracie’s new friend at school was actually one of their kind, the boy having been enrolled only weeks prior, and Dannd only realized as much when the parents showed up at his door with their son in tow to say hello, all guileless smiles and isn't-it-such-a-wonderful-coincidence-that-our-children-just-happened-to-make-friends twinkle in their eyes.

Those fuckers were trying to get to him through his daughter, or possibly trying to gain her trust, knowing she'll likely have the same abilities as he has once she gets older.

He about ripped the two Old Bloods daring to involve his daughter in their machinations to pieces right then and there.

Thus, a move had been in order and with him already having checked out Hawaii, Gracie desperately missing her mother who already moved there with Step-Stan a few weeks prior, it really had been a no-brainer. Anything to keep his little girl happy.

Though, he really hopes he won’t be forced to uproot them every couple of months from now on just to escape the insanity that is his own people.

He can even admit that Hawaii itself is nice, as in, it’s exactly what the tourist brochures promise. Paradise on earth. Perfect weather and perfect beaches and perfect people everywhere. Sunshine and white sand and blue ocean.

Danny kind of hates it.

Well, maybe ‘hate’ might be a bit too strong a word, but he certainly doesn’t love it here either. If only because of the sunshine. The constant sunshine. He already misses Jersey despite it having been  barely a couple of months since they got here.

But Gracie is happy, making friends almost instantly, and at least there haven’t been any Old Bloods knocking on his door ever since they got here, the lot of them clearly not having figured out yet just where he took off to, something he is definitely grateful for.

His job is okay, even if he isn’t much of a fan of the HPD, a sentiment they definitely return in full. Turns out, Hawaiians aren’t nearly as welcoming towards people who actually decide to move here, as they are towards tourist who only come here to spend their money. Who knew.

But Danny can deal. Because Grace loves it here, and that’s the only thing that counts in Danny’s eyes anyway.

 

And then everything about his life changes once more when he is assigned a new case, the murder of one of their own, one John McGarrett.

Danny is admittedly getting rather weird vibes off everyone when he is assigned the case, though he has no idea why that is.

Oh well, he thinks, even as he glances at the address listed in the file, already making his way out of the station. Crime scene first.

He can figure out the rest of it as he goes.

Chapter Text

The moment Steve meets Danny Williams, the detective investigating his father’s murder, he knows there is something different about the other man.

It’s nothing overt, nothing that he could even put his finger on, nothing definite he could point to, couldn’t tell you what exactly has him size the man up like a threat, what makes him ping on Steve’s radar.

After everything he’s seen, after traveling around the world to every dark, nasty corner their planet has to offer in pursuit of some of the most abhorrent criminals this earth has to offer, there isn’t much that still pings on his radar as a potential danger these days. So, the way his instincts take notice of one ordinary Jersey cop is admittedly a little strange.

Maybe it’s just the jetlag and the circumstances of his return to a place that was once home but just isn’t anymore that has his senses a little out of whack.

Point is, when Danny Williams steps out of the shadows into his dad’s garage, some primal part of Steve’s lizard brain is suddenly sitting up, attention fully focused on the other man, something careful, possibly cautious, even though not fully wary yet. Which is a good thing. Steve might honestly have simply shot the man if his senses had screamed true danger at him.

Either way, Steve blames that instinctual part of himself for the way he reacts to the other man even after it’s become clear that he truly is a detective and not just some perp. Although, he thinks his reaction to the short detective’s presence in his father’s garage should really be excused considering all that has happened over the past couple of days.

It’s that same instinct that has him send the Jersey detective away, makes him accept the Governor’s offer just so he can take over the case, even if that means he’ll have to start his own taskforce here and will even have to stick around for a while. But, all the better to hunt Hesse with.

The point is, he sends the detective away.

Only to seek him out again mere hours later.

Because there are so many factors to take into consideration and Steve has been gone from the islands too long and he doesn’t know who to trust, especially not with the clues his father left him. Not to even mention that the detective’s notes make it clear that he had actually been getting somewhere with his investigation, found leads where even Steve himself can’t see the connection yet. Which is actually quite the feat, considering Steve has been specifically and extensively trained to see things, clues and breadcrumbs and connections, where everyone else falters.

But it seems an outsider, a fresh pair of eyes, might be exactly what he needs for the exact reasons that first had him pissed off at hearing a cop from Jersey had been put on his father’s case.

So, he ignores that cautious warning still pinging at the back of his mind in Danny’s presence, assumes it’s just a general sense of danger that he gets around some people. It’s not like he hasn’t worked with dangerous people before and some of those had sent his instincts practically screeching in alarm, not just softly pinging like Danny’s presence does.

Most importantly, his gut is telling him that there is nothing crooked about Danny.

So, Steve cheerfully has the man transferred from HPD to his own shiny new taskforce. Without ever asking him.

And once he starts working with Danny, Steve kind of can’t make himself stop.

They butt heads. Constantly. And it becomes clear within hours of them working together that their approach to solving cases couldn’t be more different if they tried. Danny thinks about procedure and making sure everything is done by the book, thinks about legally obtained evidence and Miranda rights and making sure that the prosecutors get nicely wrapped cases for them to pursue and put the bad guys in jail as permanently as they can manage. Steve only cares about getting answers. By whatever means necessary.

Danny makes his objections known – continuously and loudly – while Steve cheerfully ignores him, goes about hunting down bad guys, following leads with single-minded determination.

And Danny follows.

For all his complaining, Danny never falters in being right there, right behind Steve, providing backup, someone to watch his six.

Sure, they grate at each other, especially in the beginning before they find any sort of rhythm, too different to truly get along. But when it comes down to it, when it’s guns-blazing, hail-of-bullets, life-or-death, something just seems to instantly click into place between them, the two of them suddenly moving so very smoothly together, almost instinctually in synch.

Though, Steve maintains the punch Danny lands against his jaw is simply uncalled for, entirely unprovoked. Despite Steve having twisted the other man’s hand seconds before. Right there in front of the man’s former colleagues. Yeah.

The point is, where his choice of new partner is concerned, Steve’s gut is as reliable as ever.

Danny is grumpy and never shuts up, always talking and gesturing and taking up so much damn space despite being rather tiny in stature, and constantly trying to browbeat Steve into following procedure and filling out paperwork. But, damn, if the man isn’t also an excellent detective.

Steve is smug about his find, same for Chin and later Kono rounding out his team.

Sure, Danny keeps grumbling all the while, but Steve thinks he must have noticed it as well, must have felt the way they just click whenever it actually counts, because for all his complaining, Danny never actually tries to get himself transferred back to HPD. Not once.

Leaving the Navy behind to hunt down his father’s killer suddenly doesn’t feel like such a big sacrifice any longer. He thinks he could truly build himself a life here, make his own ohana right here in the place he was forced to leave behind so long ago.

Steve has a team now. A good team.

Over the comingn days, he gets used to that slight twinge of his instincts that sometimes still take notice when Danny gets truly angry at one of the perps they are hunting down, that slight twitch on his radar when Danny throws himself into yet another dangerous situation right alongside Steve, that primal part of him that sounds dangerdangerdanger but at the same time also mine in bold flashing letters whenever Danny grins at him, all crinkled eyes and adrenaline-bright smile.

Although, it isn’t until he gets to see Danny with his daughter, watches Danny on his way out of headquarters a few days into their partnership, watches the man step out onto the parking lot from the window in his office, watches everything about his still rather newly minted partner brightening as the little girl comes sprinting up, having been dropped off by her mother, and simply flings herself at her dad, full of enthusiasm as she chatters the events of her days at him.

It is in that exact moment that Steve practically feels his walls come crumbling down. Or more like, feels his walls move to cheerfully enfold the father-daughter duo right at its center.

Steve should have known right there that he was never going to be able to let this one go again.

+++

Working with Steve is insane.

Utterly and completely insane.

The man doesn’t stop, doesn’t pause, doesn’t second-guess. Always moving forwards, pressing onwards, plowing through any obstacles put in his course like there is nothing standing in his way at all. Like a damn force of nature.

And Danny is helpless to let himself be dragged along, follows right behind his clearly insane boss,  complaining loudly as he does so, tries to temper Steve’s more destructive tendencies while hunting criminals, but always just a step behind him, watching his back.

Well, someone has to do it.

God knows, Steve himself doesn’t know what the word ‘careful’ even means where his own safety is concerned. They are barely days into their partnership and Danny can already tell this man is going to give him grey hair and likely a couple of ulcers along the way.

Still, he can’t help himself.

There is just something about Steve. Something inescapable, almost inevitable, like Danny is supposed to be exactly where he is. Something that just feels right.

He is helpless against that pull, lets himself be drawn in, like a moth to a flame, like a moon caught in its planet’s orbit.

Yeah, he thinks to himself, lips tilting into a somewhat sardonic smile. That’s exactly it.

Steve is like gravity. Inescapable and unavoidable, always there, holding your feet on the ground, keeping the world steady no matter how much the universe might be shifting around you.

+++

Steve thinks going together to the football game was an awesome idea.

It’ll be great for team bonding, if only because getting to know the people you regularly run into hails of bullets with outside life threatening situations is always a good way to build trust.

His good mood might also have something to do with the fact that Danny announced he’d be bringing his daughter along to the game and Steve has admittedly been looking forward to this, to officially meeting Grace, can’t help it with how much Danny talks about her, honestly fascinated with the way his partner just seems to soften at the mere thought of his daughter.

There is just something about Danny whenever he talks about Grace, something soft and bright and warm and so unashamedly full of love, that has Steve admittedly rather enamored with his reaction to the mere mention of his daughter. Well, Steve also refuses to let himself think about just what his fascination with that particular side of Danny may mean.

Point is, they go to the game and it’s honestly nice to have the team together like this.

Danny and his daughter show up, and Grace is adorable and so clearly a daddy’s girl it’s almost humorous to see how absolutely she has Danny wrapped around her little finger.

“Your daddy talks about you all the time,” Steve happily greets the adorable little girl sitting in the row in front of him, safely ensconced in her seat between Kono and Danny on either side, Chin and Steve at their back. Because you gotta keep the weakest members of your unit safe. And, so what if Steve maybe hasn’t entirely left his SEAL mindset behind yet.

She grins at that, the adorably satisfied smile of a girl who knows she is the very center of her daddy’s world. “He talks about you a lot, too,” she chirps right back at him.

Steve blinks, grin spreading over his face.

Because, man, does the thought of Danny talking about him to his daughter hit Steve in just the right spot. Oh, does it ever.

Kono and Chin are laughing and Grace is smiling mischievously and Danny is grinning as well, tilting his head back slightly so he can better look at Steve, making some joke about commiserating with his daughter about Steve, all the while so very easily leaning into his space, his back just slightly touching against one of Steve’s legs where they are framing Danny’s back.

Yeah, Steve likes everything about this.

+++

They argue.

A lot.

Especially in Danny’s car which Steve has apparently decided is now his to drive. Like Danny being his partner means everything he owns is somehow Steve’s as well.

The man comes strutting into his apartment without knocking, slips into the driver’s seat of his car, calls him Danno, takes him out to dinner but always makes Danny pick up the check, so very easily injects himself into every part of Danny's life.

Like it’s natural. Like it was always supposed to be like this.

And Danny doesn’t know what to make of the fact that he is kind of alright with it all. More than.

But the point is, they argue. Constantly. And about everything.

Sure, mostly it’s Danny complaining about Steve’s methods of chasing down criminals but they bicker about everything else just as much, anything that comes to mind or might be occupying either of their minds at the moment. They argue about pizza toppings and suitable recreational activities for children - and also for grown men who have the brain of a child, like a certain Navy SEAL who shall remain unnamed - with the same intensity as they debate gun control laws or the death penalty.

They argue at headquarters, in the car, during interrogations, while they hunt criminals, on the chase, with explosions going off around them, and sometimes even while Steve is hanging a criminal or two off the roof.

They argue and disagree and bicker and he doesn’t know when arguing with Steve starts feeling like breathing to Danny.

He definitely doesn’t know what to do with that.

Although, as much as they argue, sometimes Danny will also just look at Steve, will have a very specific question or comment in mind and he’ll just look at his partner. And Steve will look back, twitch an eyebrow or tilt down the corner of his mouth, and Danny will simply get everything Steve isn’t saying, understand without a single word spoken between them, an entire conversation passing in a single glance.

And Danny doesn’t know what to do with that either.

+++

“When I say, ‘book’em, Danno,” Steve tries to argue, forever continuing his campaign to be allowed to call Danny by Gracie’s nickname for him. “It’s a term of endearment.”

A pause.

Then, finally, “Okay,” Danny nods, tilts his head, lips quirking into a smile. “Do it every day. I like it.”

The grin spreading over Steve’s face is bright and goofy. Because he is fully aware that only Grace is allowed to call him Danno. Only Grace. And now Steve is as well.

Score, he thinks to himself, feeling rather smugly satisfied with himself right now.

He forcefully pushes down the part of himself asking why being the only other person beside Grace who is allowed to call Danny by that particular nickname matters so much to him.

That’s a thought better considered some other time. Or possibly never.

+++

“How come you don’t swim?” Steve asks him in that incredulous how-are-you-so-weird tone of his he always gets whenever Danny doesn’t behave like Hawaii is the most perfect place to exist on this earth and, surely, everything that is considered normal here must be the norm everywhere else in the world as well.

“I swim,” Danny immediately protests with a huff. “I swim like a fish, actually. Just not as a recreational activity.”

He has to suppress a slight smirk at his own phrasing. Because, boy, isn’t that the absolute truth.

Steve, however, just rolls his eyes, so clearly not believing him.

+++

Another case, another hunt, another chance for Danny to complain about his methods.

“So?” Steve asks, still a little high off the adrenaline of chasing this newest suspect down. “Why are you complaining? It worked!”

“What are you talking about? How did it work?” Danny demands, gestures wildly. “The guy was babbling nonsensically by the end of it, he was so damned terrified.”

“Exactly,” Steve grins, feeling accomplished. “Told us everything.”

“No, you maniac,” Danny refutes. “Not ‘exactly’. People who are scared for their lives tend to babble anything you want to hear just to get you to stop. Why is this so hard for you to understand? Does this truly exceed your mental capacities?”

Steve continues to grin as Danny rants on his way out of the house, not at all bothered by the complaints. You know, seeing as despite his partner once more nagging Steve for his methods, Danny is also roughly dragging the perp they just caught – and who Steve then interrogated rather efficiently right after – along, and Steve is fairly certain there is nothing ‘procedure’ about the way Danny has the guy stumble into the table and two of the chairs, then makes walk straight into a cupboard, and finally makes him hit the doorframe on the way out.

Then again, this guy had been hiding himself behind a couch and almost managed to et a shot off at Steve’s back and Danny tends to get rather pissed off at anyone daring to so much as try to harm any of their team.

Point is, the perp will be bruised black and blue by the time he even makes it to their interrogation room. And it won’t be from Steve’s hands.

He grins. All is right in his world.

+++

Danny sometimes wonders whether there is something wrong with him, with his Old Blood side.

Even now, sitting on Steve’s beach, watching the waves, he doesn’t really feel any particular urge to go in the water, to shift and swim and fully embrace that other part of himself for a while.

Whenever he talks to others of his kind, they keep talking about the pull of ocean and how as soon as they hear the waves or smell the salt or see the endless blue stretching out in front of them, they can’t help but want to shift and dive beneath the waves.

Which isn’t the case for Danny at all.

There is nothing pulling at him coaxing him to get into the water, much less to shift.

Sure, he very much likes being near the ocean, even gets absolutely twitchy if he ever finds himself too far away from the coast, learned very quickly that traveling inland in his own country is a very bad idea.

But it’s only about the proximity to the ocean for him, not about actually swimming in it or transforming to truly become part of the sea.

So, he watches from his chair – and, yes, it’s very much his chair, thank you very much, no matter who might technically own it – as Steve’s form cuts through the waves, all smooth and powerful movement as the other man gets further and further away from the beach, and Danny feels himself smile, relaxing back into his seat, coffee in hand, happy to wait for Steve to get done with his morning swim, so they can go to work.

It honestly doesn’t get much more perfect than this.

+++

Danny is real. In a way that Steve hasn’t seen in a long time, possibly not ever.

It’s not even just the way his partner tends to wear his every emotion on his face, like a bright neon sign flashing above his head announcing his every thought to the entire world around him.

And yet…

Steve knows that most people take one look at Danny and how expressive he is, how he keeps talking and talking and talking and they think they know everything about him.

Which they most certainly don’t.

Because, yes, Danny is loud and so-very-in-your-face. But whenever it comes to the truly important bits he just isn’t, keeps the parts that truly matter entirely to himself. Danny shows everything of himself to the entire world.

Except for the bits that he seems to save just for Steve.

Because, somehow, Steve becomes the exception, finds himself being let in, is allowed glimpses behind those impenetrable walls Danny has built around himself.

He is still surprised by the small pieces of himself Danny shares sometimes, tidbits that seem almost insignificant but still catch Steve right in the gut for how real they are, how important they are to what makes Danny who he is.

It only ever happens when it’s just the two of them, when it’s quiet and they are over-tired but neither of them can sleep, kept awake by whatever case they might be working on, sprawled over the sofa, in each other’s space for no other reason than because they are too exhausted to move apart.

And Steve also kind of adores the proximity, the inherent trust of it, can’t remember the last time he had someone close just for the sake of closeness, no additional goal, no angle to work. Just being right there.

He finds himself returning the favor, sharing parts of himself he hasn’t shared with anyone before, tiny details about his life, almost insignificant compared to the stories he could tell considering his career, but always with Danny’s eyes focused entirely on him, his gaze forever intent and attentive and warm, like even the smallest parts of Steve are everything to him, never judging, just accepting all those pieces, the jagged edges, listens as Steve shares those broken bits of himself that he takes such care to never let anyone see or even realize are there.

Until Danny becomes the glue that holds him together, the one he entrusts with the parts of himself he hasn’t let anyone see ever since his father sent him away as a kid.

Until Danny kind of becomes everything.

Danny and Grace and their team. Steve does his best not to think about how he’d willingly burn down the entire world around them to keep just those precious few safe, how he’d kill anyone who might try to take them away from him.

+++

Steve becomes a part of their lives, slots into place with Danny and Grace like there had always been a space reserved just for him.

It’s football games and Disney movies and splashing in the ocean and trips to the zoo and school projects that involve a ridiculous amount of glitter and Steve sneaking Grace candy before dinner that Danny pretends he knows nothing about.

Grace has the big bad SEAL wrapped right around her tiny little fingers and Danny is kind of okay with that. More than.

If anything, the knowledge that, if anything were ever to happen to Danny, Steve would keep her safe, would move heaven and earth in order to make sure nothing would ever happen to her, lets him breathe easier, like a weight lifted off his shoulders he hadn’t been aware was ever there in the first place. With Steve in her corner, Grace will be safe. Always.

In contrast, Rachel makes no secret of the fact just how less-than-enthused she is about Steve’s presence in his and Grace’s lives, keeps asking pointed questions, making comments, not at all subtle in how much she disapproves. For some reason that Danny honestly couldn’t care less about. Not only because it’s rich for her to be acting all wounded at Danny not taking her opinion on Steve being in Grace’s life into account, considering how much he detested Stan right from the start and she never let that deter that from dating and then marrying the man either.

But also because Steve is his partner, is quickly becoming the person Danny trusts most in this world – might honestly be that already – and nothing short of Gracie herself disliking Steve could ever make Danny send him away.

Which isn't a problem at all. Because Grace adores her Uncle Steve just as much as Steve adores her.

So, their home quickly turns from Grace-and-Danny to Grace-and-Danny-and-Steve, the big bad SEAL slotting right into place with them, some strange but somehow still perfect three-way dynamic that is so much better than anything Danny ever had with Rachel. Never mind that Steve is his work partner. A fact Danny has to remind himself of from time to time with how domestic things sometimes get between the three of them.

It’s all such an effortless, smooth shift in their life - first to include Steve at all, then to include Steve in everything - that Danny simply kind of misses the point where it changes even beyond that.

Sure, Danny has long since started to suspect that his daughter simply sees Steve’s house as an extension of their own apartment, if only because of how she keeps talking about ‘their beach’, despite the fact that their apartment building - as nice as it may be - has nothing of the sort.

And he knows it's because of how often he brings his daughter over to Steve’s, for dinner on week nights and for the beach on the weekends - because Gracie loves swimming and Danny feels so much better with her splashing around at Steve’s private beach than between all the tourists crowding Hawaii’s beaches. He is fully aware just how frequently they visit Steve's place and how often they stay until pretty late, sometimes until Grace is falling asleep curled up in Danny's lap, exhausted from a day of playing in the ocean and building sandcastles and, damnit all, but there might just be some truth to that whole 'paradise on earth' thing, after all.

The point is, Danny has been aware of those things, even if he much prefers not to think about it too much.

Because everything about this - about them - just fits so well, is so easy, so effortless, that Danny simply can't make himself even try to change anything about it.

+++

They are having yet another stupid argument about procedure and by-the-books and interrogation techniques and ‘no, Steve, you cannot play Russian roulette with a suspect to coerce him into a confession I don’t care if they told you differently in SEAL school’.

“What if I only pretend to put a bullet in the chamber?” he asks. “You know, to scare them a little.”

And it’s that second of hesitation, like Danny is actually thinking about it, the slight upwards quirk of his lips showing his definite amusement, that Steve so adores about his partner. Because Danny cares about procedure. Until he doesn’t. Until children are involved or one of their team is threatened.

And as much as he complains, he always gives Steve all the leeway he could possibly want.

+++

The first time another Old Blood shows up at 5-0 headquarters Danny just sighs in exasperation. Seems like he’s been found.

It’s been a relaxed couple of months, not a single Old Blood having turned up on his doorstep and Danny would have honestly loved if things could have just stayed that way.

Alas, he knew it couldn’t last forever and now he is right back where he started before he left New Jersey.

Although, to his absolute ire, the clans seem to now have moved on from trying to get his general favor or even a political alliance, to out-right trying to get him to mate into one of their clans.

Which, fuck that.

Danny might not be much into the culture of his own kind where most things are concerned, very much considers himself a land person, thinks of himself as human before he thinks of himself as Old Blood. But mating is different. Mating is instinctual and about compatibility about finding home. And the mere thought of mating anyone for political reasons has his lips curling in utter disgust.

That’s simply not happening.

Problem is just, while he can send anyone trying to gain a political alliance away, declare himself neutral and make them move on, he can’t do the same with anyone declaring mating intentions. That is an insult of a severity that would have him immediately indebted to whatever clan the respective ‘suitor’ comes from. Which is the exact thing Danny has been trying so hard to avoid and might also be exactly what the clans are going for with their current approach.

Either give every mating request the time their customs require him to afford them, meaning he has to at least talk to them one-on-one, or insult them by sending them away, thereby finding himself indebted and forced into a sort-of alliance.

He clenches his teeth.

Gods of old, does he hate politics.

+++

Steve watches as Danny shoos another beautiful woman out of his office.

A woman who had claimed she knew something about their case that she would however only discuss with Danny. And the moment he’d seen her, Danny had huffed, a scowl overtaking his face. Like he knew something about her the rest of the team didn’t, despite promptly asserting he’d never met this woman before when Kono asked him about it.

It’s weird.

Especially, since this keeps happening.

The first time, they assumed it might truly be about a case, maybe the woman had seen Danny on TV or looked him up on their website and she just wanted to make sure that whatever statement she had to give really got to the right person. But then Danny had come stomping out of his office about half an hour later, scowl firmly in place, asserting through clenched teeth that she knew nothing at all. Emphasis on ‘nothing’.

The second time it happened, the team had been a little more doubtful of the woman’s claims to know something crucial about their case but they still thought she might have something.

She didn’t.

By the third and fourth time another stunning woman appeared at HQ, demanding she get to privately talk to Danny, Kono and Chin started betting whether the women are maybe jilted lovers from Danny maybe dating around. The mere thought makes Steve clench his teeth, despite knowing for a fact that Danny quite simply wouldn’t have the time to meet all these women even if he wanted to, considering that he tends to spend all of his time either with Steve or with Gracie or with Steve and Gracie.

Not to even mention that the way Danny reacts to these women every time they appear makes it rather clear that not only does he truly not know them but that he is also absolutely pissed about them continuing to show up.

Still, this is the third woman just this week who has demanded to talk to Danny personally, and by now the team knows that despite her claims she doesn’t know anything about the case, and that Danny will be in an absolutely abysmal mood for hours afterwards. Well, more abysmal than usual.

Steve doesn’t like anything about this entire situation, mostly because he doesn’t get why these women keep showing up at all, much less why Danny keeps giving them the time of day despite so very clearly not being interested in any of them.

And clearly he isn’t alone in his curiosity just what might be going on, because as soon as Danny joins them again at the screens to discuss the case, scowl firmly in place, Kono grins.

“So, you clearly have a type,” Kono she comments cheerfully.

“Type?” Danny frowns at her.

“All these brunettes, man,” Chin supplies.

Danny sighs in exasperation. “No, see, that’s the problem. They think I have a type. Because I was married to a brunette once, so clearly I only like brunettes. Because that’s obviously how it works,” he huffs, gesticulating wildly in his frustration.

Though, what he just said also makes very little sense. Because that almost sounds like Danny is suggesting there is someone picking out women to send to him based on what they think he might like best. Which sounds absurd. And also alarmingly stalkerish.

“Seriously, brah,” Kono continues, though the slight frown on her face making it clear she picked up on Danny’s weird phrasing as well. “Is there a particular reason all these insanely gorgeous women keep seeking you out lately?”

Danny just rolls his eyes. “Emphasis on insane, you mean,” he huffs.

“Wait, why are you complaining about gorgeous ladies seeking you out?” Chin adds on with a grin, though his eyes are intent on Danny, watchful.

“Yeah, right. ‘Ladies’. Sure, let’s call them that,” Danny snorts as he stomps out of the room, apparently wanting to get a move on tracking down the drug dealer they had been talking about earlier, grumbling to himself, “More like artless, conniving, condescending, smug floozies. The entire damn lot of them.”

The team blinks after him.

Okay, that definitely removes their last doubts on whether Danny might be welcoming these women’s advances.

And as he trails after his partner out of the room, Steve doesn’t bother trying to suppress the rather satisfied expression spreading over his face at that thought.

Too right, he thinks. They aren’t good enough for Danno anyway.

+++

“Sure you don’t want to come in as well?” Steve asks with a grin, already standing at the water’s edge, water lapping over his feet as he stretches slightly, admittedly rather smug at the way Danny’s eyes flit over him, catching briefly on Steve's naked chest and arm, a quick glance top to bottom and back, before his eyes find Steve’s again.

Danny clears his throat, blinks once, lips tilting upwards on one side. “Nah, you go ahead, babe. I’ll just wait right here.”

Steve swallows and then proceeds to smoothly fling himself into the water without another word. If only to hide his reaction to Danny calling him babe.

Damn.

It's not even the first time Danny's done it, not at all. But it's one thing when it's said casually while they're on the job - like yesterday, Danny's easy 'After you, babe.' while waving Steve ahead of him into the warehouse they were raiding at the time - but it's so very different when it's said like this, when it's just the two of them on Steve's beach, no one around to hear and Steve already having been trying his hand at flirting a little. 

He hadn’t expected it, hadn’t expected Danny to so easily flip the slight teasing around on him. And he certainly hadn’t expected his own rather visceral reaction to something so simple, catching him by surprise with the ease of it, the implied intimacy. The way Steve wants.

 

It becomes a regular term of endearment between them, just like Steve's use of 'Danno', Danny calls him babe. And every single time he hears it, something warm and content curls in Steve’s chest. He quite simply can’t help it.

And he purposely ignores how that same something also tugs a little painfully at him, because Danny clearly doesn’t quite mean it in the way Steve wants him to. At least, not yet.

He tilts his head slightly in thought. So, maybe I’ll just have to nudge him in the right direction a little bit.

Because Steve wants Danny. Wants him with a ferocity and all-encompassing fierceness that it takes his breath away sometimes. Wants to insert himself in every single part of Danny's life, wants him around always, wants Danny in his home and in his bed and in every nook and cranny of his life.

And by the way Danny reacts to him, the way Steve every once in a while catches him looking, sees the way Danny's eyes linger on him sometimes - when Steve is half-dressed or still flushed from chasing another suspect around Oahu or just sprawled out over his couch or simply with his fingers covered in glitter from helping Gracie with another one of her school projects - Steve is fairly certain he might have an actual shot.

Not to even mention how Danny hasn't really shown an interest in anyone else ever since they met. Which is definitely a good thing, since Steve might just be tempted to drive anyone Danny might be interested in off his island, possibly stick them in a shipping crate to Siberia and not really care whether they ever get there.

Because Danny is his.

Now, Steve only has to figure out how to make Danny realize that little fact as well.

Chapter Text

Danny is stressed. Like, really stressed.

The clans are driving him up the wall with their continued badgering.

Ever since his kind realized where Danny moved to, the number of Old Bloods seeking him out on an almost daily basis seems to be only ever increasing with each passing week. It’s not quite as bad as it was in Jersey before he decided to take Gracie and move states, but it has also become rather damn apparent that there is simply no way all these sirens just happen to be visiting Honolulu.

Back in Jersey, Danny could still somewhat believe the sort-of-coincidence of so many Old Bloods passing through. Maybe not that they’d all truly specifically been visiting Newark as such, but New York and Philly and DC had been less than an hour away, so Danny had put the number of Old Bloods seeking him out down to them having already been living somewhere along the East Coast or possibly visiting for business and then deciding to stop by Newark while they were there. It had seemed like a reasonable explanation at the time.

But for this many Old Bloods to show up in Hawaii?

It’s a holiday destination, too far away from anywhere for all of them to be ‘just passing through’ or to be visiting for business and it’s definitely too far out into the Pacific for them to just coincidentally be swimming by the islands either. There are just too many of them for this to truly be any sort of coincidence at all.

Which means the clans have apparently started flying in Old Bloods from all around the world, specifically to have them join in on the insanity of pestering Danny into some sort of alliance or courtship or whatever else.

It’s ridiculous. And infuriating. And stressful.

You’d think after about the fiftieth rejected courtship, they’d collectively get a clue that Danny simply isn’t interested, no matter who they are or what they might offer.

But apparently not. Every single one of his kind who approaches him seems utterly convinced that Danny only sent ‘the others’ away because they – in contrast to themselves, of course – just weren’t good enough, but that they themselves are and Danny is of course going to accept the courtship if it is them offering.

The ego of these sirens alone is enough to drive Danny around the bend.

There is a reason why he tends to keep a distance from other Old Bloods, actively avoids any situation that would include subjecting himself to the extended company of his own kind. Same race or not, they still just aren’t his kind of people.

Which, however, doesn’t change the fact that Danny is still stuck, that he can’t do anything to prevent the lot of them from bugging him. Their customs forbid it.

As soon as any Old Blood steps in front of him with the traditional courtship gesture, their intention is declared and Danny is stuck hearing them out, despite already knowing that no matter what they say he is going to refuse them.

And, gods of old, is he ever so grateful that there is absolutely nothing in his kind’s customs demanding he accept their courtships or go on dates with them or even do anything about it at all. Thankfully, he only has to listen to their full courtship offers before he can then promptly send them away and no one being able to claim offense at being refused. It’s already annoying enough by itself but at least it’s manageable.

Well, it has been so far.

Although, recently the entire situation has honestly started to get a little out of hand, if only due to the sheer number of Old Bloods who keep popping up in Honolulu, wanting to pay their respects to him personally and casually throw in a courtship offer while they’re at it.

At this point, Danny is honestly tempted to just say screw it and send the lot of them away whenever any of them so much as set foot into headquarters.

But.

For one, dealing with the fallout of that, soothing all those ruffled feathers and bruised egos, would likely take up even more time and be even more irritating than the current version of this ridiculousness. And secondly, if he refuses to deal with them while at work, they might just decide to approach him during his time off instead.

Ever since he took Gracie and moved to Hawaii in direct reaction to some of his kind daring to approach his daughter in order to forge a connection to his bloodline, the clans seem to have realized that Danny won’t tolerate any of them coming near Grace without his approval – which very much translates to ‘never’ – and even seem willing to keep their advances entirely away from his private life. For now.

However, that likely wouldn’t hold up for all that long if he decided to collectively send them away while at work as well.

Hence, him being stuck, irritated beyond belief but willing to grit his teeth through his annoyance at having to deal with the lot of them at all, because - as irritating and stressful as he might find the current situation - it is still definitely the lesser-evil version of things.

Now.

If only the Old Bloods showing up at the Palace would deign to be a little more subtle about it all. Because his team has definitely noticed that there is something going on.

Not only because of the ridiculous number of people demanding they get to talk to Danny specifically, but he is fairly sure that his team has also started to pick up on the fact that there is something collectively off about the lot of them.

Well, it’s not like the Old Bloods seeking him out at the Palace are making that bit particularly difficult to figure out, what with their general humans-are-beneath-me attitude and, oh, you know, cheerfully performing the courtship gesture of a very-much-supposed-to-be-a-secret culture right in the middle of headquarters for anyone to see.

The gesture isn’t subtle in the least, isn’t meant to be, and - as much as Danny likes to heckle his team for their lacking detecting skills - there is no way they could possibly have missed the way all these people step up to Danny, immediately tilting their head slightly back and to the side to expose their jugular, while moving both hands in a sweeping gesture in front of them to the side, palms facing upwards. A gesture which, when shifted into their other forms, would turn the spiked fins running along their lower arms – a siren’s main means of defending themselves against their brethren – inwards, thus rendering them sort-of helpless.

It’s a gesture of supplication. Rather obviously so.

And there is no way his team hasn’t noticed it by now. They’d be rather lousy detectives if they missed it.

Danny knows that they’ll all have spent some time scouring the net for clues, about the gesture in general and a potential connection to Danny specifically, what it might mean and where it comes from, trying to figure out how all of these people could possibly be linked to him.

He knows they won’t find anything, at least nothing reliable. Danny’s kind has spent millennia muddying the waters of lore and mythology around the world to the point that distinguishing between facts and fiction of anything written about ‘the supernatural’ is plainly impossible for anyone who isn’t already part of it.

But he also knows his team is tenacious and once they realize they won’t find anything on their own, it’s only a question of time until they decide to go directly to the nearest source. Meaning, Danny.

And let him just say, if at some point in the future his team does end up figuring out that sirens are in fact a thing, then Danny is absolutely blaming all of these Old Bloods who keep seeking him out for being so ludicrously unsubtle about everything.

Although, if he gets a choice then Danny would still very much prefer it if his team didn’t in fact figure it out. Ever.

Not only because of what it might mean for him personally and how they might react to the revelation of him being something other than entirely human, but also because there are laws amongst his kind against normal humans finding out about them. Brutal laws with merciless consequences.

There is a reason his race is still a secret even in the age of technology.

Let’s just say, people who come anywhere near figuring out that some myths might be far less mythical than one might assume, have an… unfortunate tendency to die in shark attacks or freak drowning accidents. Even while living rather far away from larger bodies of water. And to put it plainly, Steve and Kono and Chin spend far too much time in the ocean for Danny to feel in any way comfortable with the idea of an entire race of water-dwelling assholes gunning for them.

That’s simply not happening to his team. It’s not. Danny won’t let it.

As far as Danny is concerned his team is his clan. Them and Gracie. No one gets to touch any of them, them potentially figuring out just what he is or not. Millennia-old secrecy be damned.

The point is, his team noticing that there is something going on, that there is something off about the people who keep seeking him out, is only adding to his current stress levels.

It all comes to a head the day two Old Bloods – just two more bimbos intending to offer him a courtship – show up at the same time and manage to run into each other at Five-0, both of them simpering at him. He knows that he can’t choose either of them to talk to first because that’ll be an insult to the other and he is so entirely done with it all that he simply sends both of them away right there, tells them to get their timing figured out before they dare bother him again, the Lure vibrating darkly at the back of his throat in his irritation.

Which he absolutely abhors. He hasn’t lost control of his Lure since he figured out he had it, since he swore never to use it for personal gain.

Sure, the Song doesn’t have the same effect on his own kind as it does on humans, doesn’t do anything to manipulate a siren’s will at all, more of a status symbol than anything else when used amongst Old Bloods.

But it’s the principle of the thing.

Either way, the two bimbos follow his command, still simpering as they go. But his team isn’t even bothering to hide their staring any longer.

Danny is still frazzled at losing control and Steve keeps throwing him these glances, like he is trying to figure something out, figure him out.

Which sucks.

Because the last thing Danny needs is a trained-for-observation-and-not-nearly-as-dumb-as-he-likes-to-pretend-to-be super-SEAL watching his every move, possibly figuring out that there is not only something off about the people who keep seeking him out. But that there might also be something off about Danny himself.

Shit.

+++

Steve knows there is something going on with Danny.

It’s really rather hard to miss. If only because his partner has been so incredibly tightly wound over the past few weeks that Steve is honestly starting to worry. Same for the rest of the team.

They’ve all picked up on the rather odd dynamics surrounding Danny and these people who keep seeking him out.

It bothers Steve. Mostly because his never-afraid-to-tell-anyone-to-get-lost partner isn’t doing anything to send these women away, despite so very obviously not actually wanting to talk to them. Almost like he doesn’t have a choice in the matter.

Which, yeah. That’s just not okay.

So, when it’s just the two of them in the car, on their way to a crime scene they got called to that afternoon, he throws another glance Danny’s way, figures this is as good a chance as any, to try and figure out what is going on with his partner, whether he can help, and maybe even satisfy his own curiosity about all of the odd things he keeps observing about his Danno recently.

“Those people that keep demanding to talk to you,” he starts casually.

And he hates the way Danny immediately tenses a little in the passenger seat, jaw clenching, hands conversely relaxing, tension radiating off of him. Like he is bracing himself for something.

Thing is, Steve is used to always knowing what is going on in Danny’s life, is used to his partner ranting his frustration and his every complaint at him, used to Danny unwinding by way of venting his irritation, loudly and enthusiastically, by complaining about everything that bugs him and letting Steve know exactly how he supposedly contributed to Danny’s current levels of stress.

He doesn’t like being out of the loop. At all.

Steve quite enjoys poking at Danny and provoking any of those outbursts, enjoys watching his partner animatedly rant his way through various complaints, certainly enjoys contradicting him for no other reason than to stoke his temper and send him off into yet another argument.

So Steve might have a bit of a thing for watching Danny rant. What of it. Danny arguing is quite the sight in his opinion, all energetically expansive hand gestures and dramatically expressive frowns and eloquently colorful language.

And his focus unwaveringly fixed on Steve.

Yeah, he definitely likes that bit in particular.

Point is, Danny still argues, still bickers with him, still complains about pretty much everything. Well, almost everything. Because there is clearly something going on with his partner, something that is bugging Danny, and his partner isn’t talking about it. At all.

The silence between them stretches. He glances over at Danny again, assessing him, sees the exhaustion in him. Screw figuring out what exactly is going on. First he needs to know whether there is anything actually wrong, anything actually messing with his partner. And whether Steve can do anything to fix it.

So, he finally settles on a question different from what he had originally intended to ask, “Are you in trouble, Danny?”

Admittedly, he is bracing himself for an argument, for having to fight against Danny’s apparent stubbornness about sharing whatever is going on with him recently. However, in direct contrast to what he had expected, his question has Danny actually relaxing slightly. Like he had expected a different question. Like he had expected something worse.

“Not in any trouble as such,” Danny replies before Steve can contemplate the implications of his partner’s apparent relief. Then, with a tired sigh, “More like… endlessly annoyed by pompous, self-important twits not leaving me alone even here.”

From the corner of his eye, Steve can see the way Danny immediately presses his lips together, like he said more than he had intended. Something to be filed away to be examined for any clues later.

Instead, he focuses on the more obvious part of that seemingly innocuous statement. “Hm,” he hums, keeping himself relaxed. “If they annoy you so much, why don’t you just tell them to take a hike?” Steve really hopes Danny isn’t going to give him some bullshit excuse about having to talk to them due to their claims about having vital clues for any of their cases.

To his relief, Danny just sighs out tiredly, leaning his head back against the headrest of the passenger seat. “If only I could, babe. If only I could.”

It’s not an answer to his question as such, but at the same time it also tells Steve a lot. Namely, that whatever is making Danny talk to these people - who he so clearly doesn’t want to interact with at all - is apparently beyond his control.

And he wants to dig deeper, wants to badger Danny with questions until he knows everything and can fix whatever is going on. But beside him, Danny is leaning his head back, eyes closed, something so utterly exhausted about him that Steve can’t quite make himself pester him for answers right now.

Thing is, these ‘twits’ as Danny so aptly called them, are clearly determined to talk to Danny, so if Steve were to bar them from entering the Palace, then they might just start seeking his partner out somewhere else, possibly even at his home, and yeah, Danny being without backup around these people who so clearly want something from him, doesn’t sit right with Steve at all.

“I could get rid of them for you,” Steve offers instead, uncertain how the offer is going to be received. “Maybe interrupt a minute or two into their ‘witness statements’ with something supposedly urgent. Kono and Chin will likely be more than happy to join in.”

Steve may have started this conversation fully intent on getting himself some answers. But seeing Danny so exhausted, he kind of just wants to fix this for his partner. He can always worry about getting an explanation later on.

Danny blinks at him, turns his head to face him fully. “Seriously?” he asks, eyebrows raised. A slight pause as he clearly considers it. “That would honestly be fantastic.”

Now it’s Steve’s turn to blink. He hadn’t expected Danny to be quite this enthused by the idea.

Danny is still talking, rambling, seemingly having some sort of discussion with himself. Not that that is anything new where his partner is concerned. “I mean,” he is frowning absently to himself. “They can’t claim offense at me being called away by my boss, but by then they’d have already stated their intent, so I could reject their offers. Maybe a little untraditional but not enough to offend. And once rejected, they couldn’t come back without offending me. Oh, that’s brilliant.” He focuses back on Steve. “Thanks, Steve.”

The grin Danny sends him is bright and open and genuine and it makes something in Steve’s chest tighten, warm and stupidly content. Just because Danny is smiling at him.

Dammit all.

Still, Steve just grins back, can’t do anything but, admittedly a little nonplussed at Danny’s enthusiasm at his offer. But it’s the first time in weeks he’s seen Danny look this relaxed.

Because Steve promised to fix it.

He doesn’t even pretend not to preen a little at that little fact.

+++

It’s only about two days later that Steve and Danny get kidnapped, although it has nothing whatsoever to do with Old Bloods, instead it’s just some garden-variety criminals getting up to no good.

Well, maybe not exactly ‘garden-variety’ since this newest attempt on their lives likely has something to do with that international drug trafficking ring that Five-0 has been hunting for the past few weeks, cheerfully interfering with all of their operations on Oahu in an effort to draw out whoever is behind it.

Steve and him are following up on a lead, going to check out some warehouses by the harbor and all Danny can remember is stepping through the door and then the blinding pain of a hit to the back of the head, promptly sending him unconscious.

Because a headache is exactly what he needed on top of everything else.

By the time Danny regains consciousness, they’re tied up and on a boat in the middle of the ocean somewhere.

They’re not even below deck, just haphazardly thrown to the ground at the back of the boat, but thankfully Steve is right next to him, already awake, so Danny at least doesn’t have to worry what fate might have befallen his partner. Not so great is the fact that they’re both tied up and that there are three goons with guns standing guard, beady little eyes focused on them, a rather effective deterrent against the two of them trying anything to escape right that moment.

“Well, isn’t this cozy,” Danny rasps even as he rights himself from where he had been slumped halfway against Steve while unconscious. “Though I gotta say, I could imagine more comfortable places for us to be cuddling, babe. Like the couch. Or the lanai. Or a plain floor of concrete somewhere. Really, anything would be preferable over this whole back-of-the-boat-tied-up-and-bleeding scenario.”

Steve briefly meets his eyes, lips quirking up slightly at the corners in amusement, some of the obvious tension bleeding out of his shoulders now that Danny is conscious as well. Before he goes right back to intently staring at the three goons with guns in front of them, cheerfully unnerving them with his laser focus, making one of them twitch at the thousand-yard stare suddenly pinning him in place. Danny can relate.

Though he himself promptly gets distracted once he spots the not-so-insubstantial trail of blood leading from the back of his partner’s head all the way down his neck and disappearing into his shirt, the collar soaked through with it.

Danny gnashes his teeth, even as his eyes sweep over Steve’s form to check for any other obvious wounds on him. He can’t see anything for now, but with how they are sitting that honestly doesn’t mean all that much. The fact that these guys – whoever they may be – made Steve bleed, possibly even gave him a concussion, makes instant, all-encompassing fury boil through Danny, as it always does whenever anyone dares to put their hands on his partner and immeasurably more so if someone actually manages to injure Steve.

As much as he likes to bitch about Steve’s super-ninja, nothing-scares-me attitude to life, at least to himself Danny is perfectly willing to admit that he finds the fact that his partner is so incredibly hard to take down or to take out by anyone more than a little reassuring. For anyone to mess with that…

He feels his eyes narrowing in fury.

“How’s the head?” Danny asks casually, as he subtly tests the zip ties around his hands and feet for strength, his tone perfectly conversational. Like he is inquiring after the weather and not at all like they are currently tied up, probably being brought to the site of their intended torture and/or execution, cheerfully ignoring the goons in front of them for now.

Steve blinks at him, clearly just as happy to pretend they aren’t being held at gunpoint at the moment. “Still attached,” he responds with an almost-shrug.

“Hm,” Danny hums in reply, eyes squinting against the headache pounding to life from the back of his head. His vision is clear and there is none of the telling fuzziness of a concussion. But the headache still isn’t anything to laugh at either and the bumpy up and down of the boat certainly isn’t helping. “I almost wish it weren’t right now.” he winces slightly. “Man, this headache is going to be bitch to get deal with.”

Which is apparently the limit of chatter their captors are willing to let them get away with.

“Shut up,” one of the goons in front of them hisses, taking a threatening step forwards, scowling darkly in what is likely his attempt at an intimidating-mobster impression. Danny is less than impressed.

But it’s always good to know where the limit of your kidnappers-of-the-week’s patience is and who of your captors has the shortest temper, who’ll be easiest to prod into a reaction in case you need to needle someone into flipping their lid at some point.

Still, he shuts up for now, willing to wait and see what this lot might have planned for him and Steve.

At least it’s only zip ties around their hands and feet, which isn’t going to slow either of them down all that much, so Danny is still rather optimistic about their chances of getting out of this without any real harm. Well, no harm to him and Steve, that is. He can’t make any promises for whoever thought it a good idea to kidnap either - much less both - of them. Together.

Or, he is optimistic right until there are suddenly a couple more goons surrounding them, two guys physically holding Steve down on his knees while another starts tying a heavy-duty chain around him, the kind that is used for anchoring boats and always weighs a shitton.

Fuck.

Looks like for once they haven’t been kidnapped to extract information – which is admittedly always an incredibly stupid idea considering Steve’s general super-SEAL badassery – or to be kept as leverage or anything of the sort. Whoever is behind this apparently intends to simply have them killed right here.

No, seems these guys are planning on dumping Danny and Steve into the ocean while they’re tied up, bleeding, and weighed down with chains. It won’t even matter whether they’ll shoot them first or throw them in alive and just let them drown. Either way, their bodies won’t ever be found. The various ocean creatures will see to that.

Which, yeah, not happening.

 

The moment, the thugs bring out the chain, Steve knows what’s coming.

As does Danny, going by the way his eyes promptly find Steve’s. A slow blink, an entire conversation passing between them with that one glance.

They need to get out. Right now.

But Steve is still bleeding from his head wound, possibly concussed, tied up, held down by two guys, another with the chain, and being held at gun point. He needs an opening, a distraction. Just something, so he can take this lot out or at the very least wrestle himself loose without promptly being shot in the head.

Trust his partner to immediately start working on providing him with just that.

“I think I’m starting to feel a little insulted right now,” Danny comments out loud, tone casual as he glances at the four guys busy keeping Steve down, while there are only two guys on Danny, one a few steps away and not even bothering to actually point his gun at Danny, while the other is a little closer to him but only holding a knife of all things.

It’s rather clear that this lot considers Steve the larger threat between the two of them.

Which, fair enough.

But Danny’s probably-not-entirely-pretended offense still makes Steve’s lips tilt slightly upwards. He is already looking forward to heckling Danny about this later on. Later, when they are both safely back on land and this lot has been taken out with extreme prejudice in retaliation for daring to go after the two of them.

“And also,” Danny adds on incredulously, cheerful mockery in his voice, happy to run his mouth in that tone that never fails to piss people off. “Are you guys seriously going to go for the whole cement-block-on-our-feet-and-sleeping-with-the-fishes thing? I mean, you are using a chain instead of actual cement, so you might get a couple of points for creativity on that. But otherwise? Pretty cliché, if you ask me.”

Steve can’t help but grin at Danny past the one thug’s shoulder, adrenaline pumping through him, muscles loose and ready in preparation for the opening Danny is about to create. Either by needling this lot into a distraction with his commentary or, in case that fails, likely by just jumping at the group holding Steve down, tied up himself or not, to give him that opening.

Then again, Steve has yet to meet the criminal who Danny can’t annoy into an utter fury – or at the very least, into quietly seething anger – with a few well-placed comments.

Listening to Danny smack-talk the perp of the day has long since become one of Steve’s absolute favorite things about his job. His partner just has this way of pissing people off, has turned annoying others into a sort of art form, his skill of irritating people into losing some - or all - of their control on their own tempers truly unparalleled. Sometimes it's in small ways, small lapses of control, like making a perp give away more than they intended during an interrogation. And sometimes it’s in more significant ways.

Like making them turn their attention away from Steve when they really shouldn’t.

Case in point, his commentary gets Danny a prompt punch to the stomach as one of the thugs snarls at him to shut up. But it also does exactly what his partner had been intending, namely distract two of the guys who had been holding Steve down into focusing on Danny instead.

Their holds on him loosen briefly in their distraction. And the guy who is still pointing the gun at Steve glances Danny’s way. Just for a moment.

It’s all Steve needs.

He bursts into action, even tied up as he is, knocks out one of the thugs, manages to push another over the railing into the water. But Steve is tied up, limbs weighed down by the chain already secured around him, and the last two recover too quickly for him to take them out as well. They grapple and manage to unbalance Steve, promptly sending him overboard.

Steve barely has time to gasp in a breath, before the chain still wrapped around him is already dragging him under.

Well, shit.

 

Danny doesn’t hesitate.

The distraction of Steve’s brief struggle is enough of a spectacle to give him just that fraction of a second to rip himself loose, headbutt the guy with the gun, and then leap straight into the ocean right after Steve, only seconds after his partner hit the water.

He’d hoped they might be able to wrestle control of the boat from this lot. But with Steve overboard, it’s suddenly far more about ensuring their immediate survival. They’ll have to figure out how to get back to land later on. Once neither of them is drowning any longer.

Danny instantly dives under, after Steve, further further further down.

Not only because of the hail of bullets that hits the water above him, but also because super-ninja-I’m-not-scared-of-anything training aside Danny is just going to assume that breathing under water is something they don’t teach even at SEAL school.

The few seconds delay of jumping after Steve cost him and by the time Danny is desperately diving to reach him as best he can with his limbs still tied, Steve is already several feet into the water, pretty much right below him but sinking ever-further down, even as he does some rather impressive windy sort of swim movement, kind of reminiscent of an eel swimming, which is definitely slowing Steve’s descent and might likely have even let him swim back to the surface even with his hands and feet bound.

If it weren’t for the heavy chain still wrapped around him dragging him down.

Even through the water and the dwindling light, Danny can see that Steve’s expression is focused, determined, unwilling to give up until the last second, hoping for one of those insane cosmic interventions that the universe so often provides him and that usually end up saving his lunatic of a partner’s life. If only he holds out long enough.

And, well, he isn’t wrong.

Because Danny is diving after him, desperately, needs to reach his partner, to drag him back to the surface before he runs out of air.

But he already knows it won’t be enough.

Steve is sinking deeper, so far below the surface now that even if Danny reaches him, even if he starts dragging Steve upwards right now, he won’t be able to get them to the surface in time. Not as Danny is. Not tied up. Not as a human. Too slow, not strong enough with the weight of Steve and the chain.

Steve will run out of air before Danny will ever manage to get him back to the surface, which isn’t even mentioning the bullets - courtesy of the goons still on lookout - which they’d immediately be greeted with upon resurfacing

Steve won’t make it. And going by the way Steve glances up, meets his eyes as best he can through the water, Danny almost there, having almost reached him, just a couple more arm lengths until he’s got him, Steve knows, knows he won’t make it.

And no. Just no.

This is not how it ends for them. It’s just not.

In the end, Danny doesn’t even hesitate.

He shifts.

He doesn’t even think about it, let’s the change overcome him the moment he realizes that it’s this or losing Steve. And, well, that’s not really a choice at all.

For the first time in… he doesn’t know how long, Danny shifts, changes, his features twisting, legs transforming, scales creeping halfway up his chest, along his sides, over his shoulders, leaving only part of his chest and stomach entirely free of scales, fins fanning out along outside of his lower arms, along the ridge of his spine, up the sides of his neck.

He ignores the way Steve’s eyes have widened, the way he stares utterly stupefied, mouth dropping slightly open in the water, looking absolutely stunned.

And, yes, Danny is perfectly aware that his other form is nothing like the Disney version of his kind.

For one, the half-and-half thing is bullshit, sirens don’t just grow a goldfish tail in some flashy color where their legs are supposed to be and that’s simply it. His tail is much longer, stretched out, more than twice as long as his legs would be, covered in scales the same color as his hair, same for most of his torso, only a small part of his upper chest and his stomach left free of scales, side fins flaring to either side at about waist height, never mind the spikes hidden within the feathery seeming fins. Which isn’t even mentioning the ridges on his face, most prominently along his cheekbones, reaching all the way across his temples and twisting his features into something not entirely human, something more predator, more hunter-of-the-deep.

Danny may be fully human on land but he is something different in the water.

So, yes, he gets Steve’s reaction of stunned surprise.

But they’ll just have to deal with that entire bit later.

Danny easily breaks the zip ties around his wrists, a different sort of strength in his arms whenever he is in this form, the ones around his legs having already broken with the transformation.

Then, a burst of speed, slipping through the water easily, naturally, so much faster in this form, reaches out as soon as he is close enough, winds himself around his partner, easily stops their descent into the ocean’s depth, even as he meets Steve’s eyes, his own vision now perfectly clear under water now.

Steve just stares back, stunned, eyes still wide and so far no reaction beyond utter surprise discernable on his face, no indication of how he is going to ultimately react to this particular revelation.

Gods of old, Danny so desperately hopes that this is going to turn out alright and that - in saving Steve from drowning - he isn’t going to still lose his partner anyway due to having revealed his own inhumanity.

He glances up towards the surface, sees the outline of the boat still hovering above their heads, knows if they resurface straight up they’ll not only get shot at but that there is also a rather good chance the goons might see that there is something off with Danny, the water too clear to truly hide his change. It's been at least a minute, more likely two or three since they hit the water, and Danny has no idea how much of a breath Steve managed before he went under, so he really has no way of knowing how long he'll still be able to hold his breath.

Ah, to hell with it.

Steve just found out that Danny can turn into a mythological creature. Might as well add sharing of breath to that.

Danny leans in, presses his mouth to Steve’s.

To his credit, Steve doesn’t flinch backwards, doesn’t even lean away. Simply lets Danny share his breath. Never let it be said that Steve McGarrett doesn’t roll with the punches of whatever insanity life might decide to throw at him at any given moment.

Sure, they won’t have forever like this, because no matter his changed form, Danny still can’t actually breathe water, insane lung capacity or altered and much more efficient oxygen intake aside. But it at least buys them some time.

With Steve clearly measuring himself, holding his breath for as long as he can, they should have another fifteen or twenty minutes before Danny runs out of reserves. Which should be enough time to get far enough away from the boat for them to resurface without being spotted.

So, Danny just wraps his one arm a little tighter around Steve and easily slips them through the water, quickly gaining speed as he guides them away from the boat. He feels Steve’s arm tighten around him in return but not resisting to being dragged through the water in any way.

Danny slows once they are a sufficient distance away from the boat, finally reaches out to help Steve rid himself of the zip ties and the chain, letting them sink into the ocean’s depth.

The brief pause in the water costs them.

Danny feels the shark coming long before it reaches them, the warning pinging on his senses entirely instinctual, a predator closing in, probably having followed the traces of Steve’s blood in the water.

Danny immediately winds himself further around Steve, snarls at the shark coming from his left, bares rows of sharp teeth, a subvocal snarl vibrating at the back of his throat. A challenge, a threat, signaling a definite willingness to fight.

The shark instantly veers off, darts past them, back into the ocean’s darkness, apparently not hungry enough to want to fight another predator for an already claimed meal.

And yeah, that slithery, liquid, primal part of himself - that he usually keeps buried so very deeply in his subconscious right alongside his transformation itself - coils in utter satisfaction at the thought of Steve already being very much claimed.

Mine, it practically purrs, liquid-smooth and satisfied.

Danny blinks. And absently wonders how long this part of himself – the part that he so very rarely if ever lets to the surface – has considered Steve theirs.

Shit.

Steve is still staring at him.

But seconds later he is tugging at Danny, apparently running out of air, wanting another breath. Danny immediately leans in again.

Steve’s lips are far softer against his than last time, one of his arms curling around Danny’s back, up towards his shoulder, and Steve’s thumb slowly dragging down the base ridge of his spinal fin has Danny’s attention tunnel in on that point of contact in a way that he has to remind himself to keep his mind focused on their current situation, to not let them both drown just because he is getting utterly distracted by the fact that feeling Steve’s lips against his feels right in a way Danny hadn’t even known was a thing.

For all that it mirrors almost everything that would constitute a kiss, it’s not that, not really, their lips not moving, their eyes entirely open and focused on each other.

It’s not a kiss. Instead, it’s somehow even more intimate than a kiss could ever be, the act of sharing breath, of Steve relying on him, trusting him to keep them afloat and save and alive. Entrusting himself to Danny.

Gods above.

When Steve finally pulls back again, Danny actually has to blink a couple of times, has to make himself focus back to the present. He is fairly certain he isn’t imagining the way the corner of Steve’s mouth is curling up smugly just the slightest bit.

Because Steve apparently rather enjoys sharing breath with him.

Huh, Danny thinks. Then somewhat sardonically, Honestly, what a time to be coming to all of these revelations.

Somewhere off in the distance the vibrations of their kidnappers’ boat motor springing to life, tells him the goons apparently think they’ve waited long enough for them to come back up again, deciding to return to shore after a murder well committed.

Which finally reminds Danny to drag the two of them back towards the surface.

So, Steve can breathe on his own. And maybe then Danny will even manage to string a full thought together again.

The moment they surface, Steve moves to keep himself afloat on his own, but only about an arm length or so away from Danny.

Steve’s eyes are darting over his face, now that his view is unobstructed by water, his breathing deep but measured as he gets his breath back.

Danny watches him carefully in return, doesn’t really know what to do with the silence, almost tempted to transform back, return to his human form. But honestly, what good is that going to do now. Gods, he hopes that Steve isn’t going to freak out on him.

He says as much. “Alright,” Danny swallows. “If you could just… not freak out.”

Steve remains silent, still watching him, eyes intent on his face.

“Steve?” he asks.

Still, Steve isn’t saying anything, silent, observing.

“Alright,” Danny repeats carefully. “Just…”

“Don’t freak out,” Steve says slowly, tone somewhere between incredulous and a little dazed, but the look in his eyes sharp and observant. “You said that already.” He blinks once, twice, tilts his head. “You just scared a shark away,” he then not-quite-asserts, something between a question and a statement.

“Yeah,” Danny wants to wince again, suddenly reminded that he already looks not-quite-normal in this form while calm. But when baring his teeth in threat, he barely resembles anything human anymore at all. Although… “Wait, out of everything, that’s the part you focus on?” he asks, honestly incredulous.

Steve somehow manages to shrug, even while calmly treading water in the middle of the ocean. “I’m still trying to figure out whether they injected me with some awesomely powerful hallucinogens without me noticing. Or, whether you just actually turned into a fish. Half-fish.” A pause. Then, his lips are quirking into a grin that is part amusement and part utter incredulity. “Danny, are you a mermaid?”

“Not a mermaid,” Danny grumbles. He hates that term. But he forces himself to answer the question behind that. “The closest descriptor you’d know is probably siren.”

“Siren.” Steve frowns slightly, but his voice still perfectly conversational as his eyes continue darting over Danny’s face. “As in, singing beautiful maidens on top, monsters below? The ones who lure sailors to their death? Or eat them?”

“Again, not a maiden,” Danny emphasizes. Then, he winces. “But, yeah. Kind of. Those were harsher times, though?” he offers.

“And I’m just going to assume that this is why you never go swimming with me,” Steve cheerfully continues, nodding to himself as though they are having an ordinary conversation at work.

And seriously, as happy as Danny is that Steve seems to be taking this revelation about the supernatural being far more real than one would assume relatively well so far, he still thinks his partner is utterly insane for taking all of this simply in stride. It took Danny himself longer to come to terms with even considering the notion that sirens might be a thing despite being shown evidence and being one himself.

“Yeah,” Danny still shrugs, lets some of his usual teasing amusement bleed into his voice. “I mean, I told you I swim very well. Just that I choose not to.”

“Right,” Steve scoffs at him in amusement. “Because obviously I should have taken that to mean you grow a tail in the water. That’s clearly the conclusion I should have come to just based on the fact that you told me you don’t swim, Danno.”

“Hey,” Danny grins, so stupidly relieved that they are simply back to their usual needling of each other and at hearing Steve call him Danno, even though he is never going to admit how incredibly reassuring it is to him. “Not my fault that you can’t think outside the box.”

“Hm,” Steve hums, still watching him, lips quirking up as well. “Just how well can you swim?” he asks. “Well enough to get us back home?”

“Easily,” Danny confirms.

And that self-assuredness finally has true interest lighting Steve’s eyes. “I’m taking that to mean that you’re fast?” he asks, obviously intrigued.

“Yeah,” Danny shrugs, almost tempted to roll his eyes. Because of course that would be the first thing his adrenaline-junkie, speed-freak of a partner would ask about the race of mythological creatures he just discovered.

“Fast enough to outswim a motorboat?” Steve asks, that let’s-get-those-fuckers glint in his eyes that Danny knows so well from countless chases after various criminals around the island.

He can’t help the grin overtaking his own face, rather delighted at the image of how freaked out the goons would be if they got off their boat, only to find themselves greeted at the docks by Steve and Danny who they think died out here somewhere in the middle of the ocean. His grin widens. And he only remembers that his teeth are currently much more numerous and quite a bit sharper than usual, when Steve glances down at his mouth, blinks once at the sight of his teeth showing, but doesn’t really react beyond that.

To the contrary. Steve’s answering grin is bright and goofy, his gaze intent and intrigued as he glances back up to meet Danny’s eyes.

“Oh Danno, are you going to owe me some answers once we get back to land,” he hums cheerfully to himself.

And, yeah, maybe Danny should have known that to Steve ‘I-have-to-know-every-minute-detail-about-everyone’s-business’ McGarrett the revelation that sirens are real would be far more about the inherent puzzle than the fact that mythological creatures are apparently a thing.

Then again, he wouldn’t have his partner any other way.

My partner, that slithery part of himself purrs again smoothly, contently, naturally. Like it’s self-evident, a confirmation, a simple fact.

Like a refrain often repeated, even if Danny himself hadn’t really been aware of it until just moments ago.

And as he reaches out for Steve once more, so he can get them both back home, Danny can’t help but hum slightly in the back of throat, a mixture of curiosity at these newest revelations and satisfaction at the thought itself.

Mine .

Because having been unaware of that primal, lizard part of himself apparently laying claim to Steve or not, now that he knows, now that he feels that ever-present tugging at the back of his mind finally settling into something of a calm, quiet, almost soothing hum, Danny thinks Steve being his might have been the absolute truth right from the start.

It just might have taken him a while a catch on.