Title: The Weight of Us
Rating: R, mainly for language, M/M kissing
Warnings/Spoilers: Spoilers - general for any aired episodes, although slight.
Summary: Danny looks back at a decision he and Steve made years ago, and has an important conversation with a teenaged Grace. Future fic. Danny/Steve
Author's note: This was a labor of love and would have never come to fruition without the fabulous beta and cheerleading skills of iam_space . There is no way it would have been possible without you, babe.
Disclaimer: Hawaii Five-0 and its characters are property of CBS, et. al. Title (iam_space's idea so thanks again, babe) from the song of the same name by Sanders Bohlke.
He could remember the day like it was yesterday. Standing on the lanai, staring at McGarrett’s back, wanting to go, wanting to stay. Steve’s knuckles had been white where they gripped the railing and it seemed like only the sheer force of Steve’s will kept him facing away, while Danny’s heart broke and bled all around them.
Tell me you’re not going to hate me for this decision, Steve. Tell me we can survive this.
Danny remembered the way his voice had cracked, the way his hand reached of its own accord towards Steve, aching to touch.
It’s my decision too, Danny. We both know it’s the right one. You can’t risk Grace, I won’t be a part of that. Just … go. Now. Please
The broken Please had propelled him away from the lanai, out to the car and on to his apartment, with no memory of how he got from one place to the next.
The case had been a cold and bitter one, out of character in sunny Hawaii. Every lead was a dead end, every trail turned false. There were five young women missing, and they had been too late to save them in the end. Locking up the man responsible had not felt victorious, leaving Kono in tears, and Chin’s eyes so hard they could cut glass. Danny’s rage was all consuming, loud and sharp, flaying everyone and everything in his path.
Steve had absorbed it all, his voice even, his face a mask of self-control, even though the lines around his mouth were deeper every day. Danny was pretty sure Steve had not slept in four days, more than five minutes at a time, and when the bastard they had hunted was finally locked away, Steve had simply inclined his head towards the car and tossed Danny the keys.
The drive to Steve’s was silent and Danny was hoping Steve would go directly inside and shower, eat and sleep - not necessarily in that order. Instead, Steve exited the car and walked straight toward the back yard, never stopping. Danny just watched as he headed onto the beach, knowing as he realized his destination that the pull of the tide and the scrape of the salt would be what Steve needed.
It was funny how he understood these things about Steve, how he knew what Steve needed in order to let go of the horror they had faced. Danny himself had found his balance talking on the phone to Grace before they left headquarters. He would see her in the morning, and that knowledge gave him his footing after a case like this.
Danny just wandered around back, and when he was satisfied that Steve was indeed that dark shape cutting through the water, he walked up to the house and grabbed beer from the fridge. They hadn’t eaten, and two Longboards a piece would likely put them both over the edge into comatose, but maybe they both needed that more than dinner.
Later, Danny would try to blame it on the case or the lack of sleep or hell, his three swigs of beer, but in his more self-aware moments he knew he was just simply tired of resisting. That was why when Steve was suddenly standing there, soaking wet, in nothing but black boxer briefs and all that fucking want in his eyes, Danny had no way to evade or retreat. And that was how he ended up with his hands clawing Steve’s back and Steve’s tongue tangled with his own. For a few long, mind-shattering minutes there was nothing in the world but the way it felt to have Steve’s slippery skin under his hands and Steve’s hard cock pressed against his belly.
It was Danny that tore away with a God, Steve, we can’t and Danny that pressed his fists to his eyes so he couldn’t see what was reflecting back from Steve’s.
Steve started a stuttered apology... Danny, Jesus, I thought you....but Danny didn’t even let him complete the first sentence.
Don’t you dare, Steven, don’t even... I want this okay, fuck do I want this. I’ve never wanted anything - anyone - more.
Danny shook his head a little to clear it, rubbing a fist against his chest in a gesture to ease the remembered ache. He could hear Grace from the kitchen, talking to a friend on the phone while he wiped pollen from the patio chairs. His little girl, not so little anymore. At seventeen she was a beauty, with a quick smile and that loose-limbed elegance that reminded Danny of Rachel when they first met. But Grace was the opposite of Rachel in every other way - full of loud energy and laughter and a recklessness he swore she must have picked up from spending too much time with Steve.
“Hey Danno, where’s Steve?” Grace asked as she walked out onto the lanai with him.
“Gone to pick up a few things from the store he said, Monkey.”
“Just because you’re seventeen doesn’t mean I can’t call you ‘Monkey’ anymore - Monkey.”
“I know, I know,” she replied with a grin. “Just try not to say it in front of any of my dates anymore, ‘kay?”
“I’ll make an effort.”
“You know you guys didn’t have to do a barbecue for me just because I got my acceptance letter. We could have just gone to Kamekona’s or something,” she said as she walked up to him and put her chin on his shoulder, wrapping her arms around him from behind. Danny still could not believe his baby had at least five inches on him. Rachel wasn’t that tall - where the hell did it come from?
“I know honey, but it’s a really big deal, getting into such an awesome school when it’s your first choice. Be thankful I talked McGarrett into only steaks and shrimp with just us - left to his own devices it would have been a 300 person luau.”
“Before Steve gets back, can we talk about something, Danno?”
Something in her voice caused Danny to twist around and face her, and he could see the evidence of her worry in the way she bit her bottom lip.
“What is it, baby girl? What’s wrong? Are you not happy about Stanford? You can always turn them down, the deposit wasn’t that big of a deal - plus it was your mom’s money - so don’t even sweat that.”
Danny had pulled her over to the glider and they sat facing each other, knees touching.
“No Dad, it’s nothing like that. I’m thrilled to go to Stanford. I’ll miss everyone like crazy but it’s where I’ve always wanted to go. It’s not about that … it’s more of a question for you. Something personal.”
Surprised, he just nodded a little and said, “Okay... go ahead then.”
“Danno,” here she stopped and took a deep breath, twisting the hem of her t-shirt, making Danny’s insides twist in rhythm with the soft cloth. It must be something huge for her to look like this.
“AmIthereasonyou’renotwithSteve?” The words came out in a rush, tripping over one another.
“What, sweetheart?” Surely Danny wasn’t hearing her right.
“Am I the reason you’re not with Steve - you know - romantically? Don’t you love him, Danno?” She said the words carefully, measured even, making sure he understood what she was asking.
For a long moment, Danny thought of and discarded denials, and ways of blowing off the question or turning it into a joke. Then he realized, this was Grace - his Grace - and he didn’t lie to his baby girl.
Reaching over he took her hand away from the maligned hem of her shirt and realized she was looking down at her lap and not at him.
“Look at me, Grace. I’ve never lied to you - well about important stuff, anyway. I get a free pass on the Easter Bunny and Santa, right?”
That got a small smirk out of her so he squeezed her hand and continued once she looked up and met the steady blue of his eyes.
“Steve and I aren’t together - romantically - for a lot of reasons. But we’re together in other ways, you know? He’s the person that has my back at work - and I have his - always, and he’s the best friend I’ve ever had, and yeah. Yeah, baby, I love him.” God it felt good to say that to someone.
“Doesn’t he love you back?”
“No one can exactly know another person’s heart, but I think he does. In fact, yeah. I’m pretty sure of it.”
“Haven’t you guys ever talked about it?”
Danny couldn’t help but glance back at that place by the rail where he had stood remembering only moments before. He decided that story was one not to be shared, even with his Grace. So he took a deep breath but merely smiled softly.
“A long time ago we talked about things, and made some decisions we’ve stuck by.”
“But don’t you want to be happy, Danno? And not alone?”
He squeezed her hand again to emphasize his point.
“I am happy, Gracecakes. Have I ever made you think I wasn’t? You know, except for all those times I said I wanted to go back to Jersey and get away from this pineapple-infested hell-hole?”
They both laughed a little at his favorite epithet against the island that had become their home.
“And I’m not alone, either. I have you and the team, and … Steve,” he continued softly.
Glad to see her smile, he shook her fingers a little and tilted his head speculatively.
“Where’s this coming from? Did someone say something to you about me and Steve?”
“No, I just … I was reading some stuff for school a while back, and it made me start thinking about you guys, and I started wondering, is all.”
Since she was no longer meeting his eyes and was staring out over his left shoulder towards the ocean, Danny had a feeling there was more to it than that.
“Grace … what could you have read that would make you think that you are responsible for decisions made by two rational adults - well, one rational adult and Steve - decisions, I might add, that were made before you were even ten years old?
Honey, Danno’s not going to keep anything from you, I just want to know where it’s coming from.”
“I read about it in a novel,” she whispered.
“I’m sorry - what?”
“I read about it in a novel, you know, a book.”
“For school? A book about me and Steve? What?” Danny was well and truly confused at this point. What on earth sort of education was she getting at that fancy-schmancy private school?
“Not about you and Steve, Danno, just a book. About two men, who fell in love when one of them was already married and no one knew they were gay so they could only be together in secret. And then the other guy - the not married one - he died. It was a very sad book.”
“Okay … sounds very sad,” Danny agreed with a frown, “but why does this book make you think you’re the reason Steve and I aren’t together?”
“Because it made me think about you guys and how I’ve thought for a long time that maybe you loved each other like love, love and how I assumed that you weren’t together because of your jobs or because even without the being gay in the military thing it could mess up Steve’s career but then I realized that technically he’s not your partner anymore and Steve retired two years ago from the Navy - remember that big party we had? - and that’s when I realized that it had to be because of me and maybe Mom not being cool about it and threatening to not let me see you guys … or something.” She finished with her breath rushing out in a huff.
Danny took a moment to decipher what she was saying - Grace had fully inherited his ranting ability and love of the run-on sentence - and finally put all the pieces together.
Reaching over, he took both of her hands in his and squeezed tight, not letting go and making sure that she was looking him right in the face.
“Grace. A long time ago, Steve and I had to make some choices. Choices between our careers - both the Navy and Five-0 - and choices between being together romantically, or making a difference and making Hawaii a safe place for those we love.
And yeah, baby girl, one of the things we had to choose was whether or not I gave your mom a reason to keep you from me. Things are good between your mom and I now, but it wasn’t always this way.
But that was only a small part of what went into the decision we made. And I don’t want you to think for one second that you - you perfect, beautiful you - are the reason Steve and I are not “together” as you say. That’s all on me and Steve.
She was still biting her lip a little, but the smile she gave him when he brushed his fingers across her cheek was real. Danny felt the tight bands around his chest loosen, and he took his first easy breath since the conversation started.
“Yeah, Danno, I get it. I just love you both, you know? I want you to be happy and have each other when I’m gone to California.”
Danny stood, pulling Grace up with him, both of them grinning a little when his knee popped loudly.
“We both love you too, Monkey,” he whispered around the threat of tears in his throat, “and we’ll both miss you dreadfully. And maybe we can figure out how to keep each other from being too sad when you’re gone, yeah?”
He could feel her nod against his shoulder and swallow a few times, but when they parted her eyes were clear and her smile bright.
“Who’s ready for the Famous McGarrett Shrimp and Pineapple Kabobs? Grace, you gonna talk Danno into eating one this time?” Steve was shouting as he walked through the kitchen and out the back door.
“Oh hey, there you are. I thought you might be down on the beach.” Steve stopped abruptly, taking in the scene before him. He could see the emotion on Danny’s face and he caught the quick tremble of Grace’s mouth even as she smiled.
Grace just said “Steve” and flew at him, where - despite his initial surprise - he was able to throw his arms open and catch her in a hug without dropping the pineapple he had been tossing from hand to hand.
“Hey, Gracie, hey sweetheart.”
Danny could hear Steve’s murmur and just shook his head briefly when he caught Steve’s eye and the unspoken question there. He watched Grace and Steve talking softly with their arms around each other in a loose embrace, unable to hear their words but he could easily interpret the mutual love in the gesture. It made his heart ache with love for both of them.
Grace was laughing when she went into the house, and Steve was standing there with a goofy grin on his face watching her walk away.
“What was that all about, Danny? Something going on with Grace?” Steve looked so honestly concerned that Danny had to shove his hands in his pockets so he didn’t launch himself at him much like Grace had done.
“Nah, she’s fine. She’s a little worried about her Danno being left here all alone in the fall, is all.”
“Did you tell her I have so many home improvement projects lined up for you to help me with that you won’t even blink before it’s Thanksgiving?”
“Hmmm, something like that,” was all Danny answered as he moved closer.
“Are you sure everything’s cool, man? You’re being weird.”
“Everything is perfectly fine. Put down the pineapple.”
“Put down the pineapple and come here.”
Steve warily set the pineapple down on the table and peered down at Danny, a frown creasing his brow.
“Danny, what’s going on? First I walk out here and you and Grace look like you’re having a moment and then she hugs the piss out of me and now you’re being all weird and ‘Put down the pineapple’. Answer me: What’s. Going. On?”
Danny still didn’t answer right away, for the first time in his life words were failing him. He wanted to just stand there a moment and stare at this man that had come to mean so much to him. Time had been kind to Steve, still fit and tanned, although the silvery threads of gray that once were only at his temples now spread throughout his close-cropped hair, and those were definitely permanent laugh lines at his eyes.
Running his hands down from Steve’s shoulders to encircle his wrists Danny found his voice.
“Remember that night? Here, after that case with the missing girls?”
Steve looked away, swallowing hard.
“Of course I remember that night,” he answered quietly, his faced turned away from Danny’s gaze. “I’ll never forget that night.”
Danny squeezed Steve’s wrists until he looked back down at him.
“You’re not in the Navy anymore. And I’ve been riding a desk for two years now thanks to this knee, so I’m not really your partner anymore - that dubious honor goes to Kono. Now my little girl is all grown up, reading Brokeback Mountain and drawing parallels and shit.”
“I’m not saying you’re under any obligation, I mean, I’m not holding you to something from a decade ago, I just wanted to tell you that if you want to open that door and see what’s on the other side I’m here with you...”
“And if you’re good the way things are, that’s cool too, I mean-”
Whatever else Danny was going to say was cut off by the press of Steve’s lips to his, and the grasp of Danny’s face in his hands.
“Shut up, Danno. Shut up right now.”
“Okay. Yeah. Shutting up.”
As far as kisses went, it was a little hard and a tad uncoordinated, and not terribly sweet or seductive. The godawful desperation that Danny remembered from their first kiss was blissfully absent though, and - mindful of Grace still in the house - it ended sooner than either were really ready for. Danny had backed into the railing, with Steve’s arms bracketing him on either side and they stayed that way for a long time, foreheads pressed together as they took a moment to breathe the same air and feel the weight of a decade-old heartache melt away.
Danny hated that Steve still looked so fucking grateful, like Danny was a gift he could never say thanks for enough times. If it took the rest of his life, Danny vowed to make Steve believe he deserved to be loved this much.
“Come on, you. Let’s go make some of those famous kabobs, yeah? Only I’ll be having mine, sans pineapple thank you very much. We’ve got the rest of our lives to make out like teenagers,” Danny snarked, ducking under Steve’s arm and heading around him towards the door.
“Rest of our lives, Danno?”
“Every minute and then some, babe.”