Steve was wondering why Governor Jameson had asked to see him.

"I need you to do an undercover assignment for me, McGarrett," she informed him.

"Me? Not my team?" Steve asked in surprise.

"Just you," the Governor confirmed. "In fact, what I want you to do will involve you breaking from your team, making them think you don't want to be part of Five-0 anymore. You have to make them think you're tired of being restrained by my rules and want to play by your own rules — like your, er, former friend Nick Taylor."

"What is it you want me to do, exactly?"

The Governor filled him in. He was to infiltrate a security company similar to the one Nick had worked for. His time in the SEALS and in Afghanistan would be helpful there. His cover story would be that after having had to protect General Pak, he'd decided he was on the wrong team and that he didn't want to have to do what the government told him anymore.

"You can't let the rest of your team know that you're undercover," the Governor warned him, "because part of your undercover profile is that you've broken away from them. If they get suspicious or ask too many questions, you'll have to be a bit rough. I know they're your friends, but you'll have to act like your friendship with them was just a polite fiction. It's important that you have no ties left to Five-0, or it could harm your cover."

"Can you do me one favour?" Steve asked.

"Depends what it is."

"Put Danny in charge of Five-0 while I'm gone. He's the best one for the job, and if he's busy running Five-0 he'll have less time to try to figure out what I'm doing."

"Done," agreed the Governor. She gave Steve several file folders containing all the information that was currently known of this group. Steve had a lot of studying to do.

He went home that night and read the material. Basically, the group had a strong cover story. They were hired security, like Nick had said he was. Their roster included a lot of ex-military, people who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan and in NATO missions in the former Yugoslav republics and in Somalia. To all appearances they were legitimate, but there were also reports that could be considered suspicious: banks and other companies that had a lot of money or other valuable assets had mysteriously been robbed after the security firm's contracts had ended. The Governor's office had received a report that this particular firm had just won a contract to protect a shipment of diamonds. Steve's job was to find out whether they were planning to steal the diamonds they were supposed to protect.

The next day Steve had to do one of the hardest things he'd ever done. He had to turn his back on the three people who had become the closest friends he'd had in as long as he could remember. It would be hardest with Danny, because he knew that his stubborn partner would not take Steve's story at face value. He would ask questions. He'd investigate. He'd snoop.

Steve would have to pretend that his partner and best friend, someone he'd grown to love in a not-at-all brotherly manner, meant nothing to him. He'd have to make Danny hate him enough that Danny wouldn't care where he went or what he did.

It was tough trying to convince his teammates that he, the one who was supposedly on the side of law and order, was going to go freelance.

"I know it seems sudden," Steve explained, "but I've been thinking about this for awhile. What happened with General Pak really helped cement my decision. We had to protect him, after all that he'd done to his people. Yet there was another group of people who were being paid to assassinate him. Which side would you rather be on?" he asked.

It was a rhetorical question, but Danny answered anyway, "The legal side."

Steve explained that Five-0 wasn't going anywhere. "The Governor will decide who's going to lead the team from now on, but Five-0 will stay on as a unit. I don't know if she wants to find a new fourth member or not. It's got nothing to do with me, not anymore. I wish you guys the best, honestly."

Kono looked close to tears. "I can't believe you're leaving us," she said. "You're our boss. I looked up to you. I thought you wanted to do what was right — catch criminals, terrorists. I didn't think you were in it for money."

"It's not just money, Kono," Steve tried to explain. "I just realized that this isn't what's right for me. You know the kinds of things I do — the shark cages and rooftops and so on. The kinds of things Danny is always getting on my case about. I can't keep doing those things without the risk that one day someone will bring that up in court, and before you know it some government agency will want to look way too closely at the way we do things here. My methods are best suited for — well, for the private sector, you might say." He tried to smile, but it didn't come out very well.

Kono tried to smile too, and she hugged him. "I hope your new job works out," she said. "I hope it makes you happy."

Chin looked very serious; Steve couldn't read his expression. "I was going to wish you the best," Chin said, "but I changed my mind. Let me go on the record as saying that this is a very bad idea. You getting involved as a gun for hire? That's not the Steve McGarrett I know. That's not the man that hired me for this team. I don't know what you're up to, but I don't like it."

"I'm not up to anything," Steve protested. "After what happened to my house when we were looking after General Pak, I started wondering why I was letting this happen, why I was having to defend my home just because some tin-plated dictator with delusions of godhood needed protecting. The reason I was given was that no foreign diplomat has ever been killed on U.S. soil, and the government didn't want General Pak to be the first. Well, the government isn't going to pay to fix my house. I asked them. Did you know that? I asked them, and they told me that I chose to take the General there, so it's my responsibility."

Chin just shook his head. "You said it wasn't about money just now," he pointed out.

Steve realized that he'd just about contradicted himself. "Not just about the money," he clarified. "It's the principle, that this would happen to my house when I was doing what the government told me to do, and they said it was my fault."

Chin said, "Whatever," and left the room. Kono followed with one final glance over her shoulder at Steve.

That left Danny, who didn't say or do anything at first. He just stood in a corner with his arms crossed and stared at his former partner. Steve could tell that Danny wasn't going to buy the act so easily. He would be the toughest one to convince. Not knowing what to say to him, Steve went to clean out his office.

Danny followed Steve to the office and shut the door.

"What do you want?" Steve grumbled as convincingly as he could manage.

"Why don't you tell me what you're really up to?" Danny demanded.

"Like I just told Chin, I'm not up to anything," Steve answered, not looking at him, resisting the impulse to address him as 'Danno.'

"I don't believe you."

"Tough shit," Steve replied.

"You're telling me that after the trouble you went to, to put this team together, you're abandoning it after only a few months."

"I realized that it's not what I want," Steve said. "I gave you my reasons."

"Your reasons are bullshit," Danny replied.

Steve finally turned to face him. "Look, Danny. All the time we've been working together, all you've done is bitch at me. Bitch about my driving. Bitch about my interrogation techniques. Bitch about me not wearing a tie. Bitch about being treated like a haole when you don't make any effort to fit in around here. Bitch about your ex-wife. Bitch about living in the most beautiful place on Earth, which I believe you call a 'pineapple-infested hellhole'. I'm sick of it, and I'm sick of you. Frankly, I'm relieved to finally be getting away from you, and I hope I never have to see you again."

Danny's face turned paler than its already pale natural state. Steve could tell that his words had hurt, and he hated himself for it. Danny turned and walked out of Steve's office, slamming the door behind him.

Steve leaned against the wall for a few minutes, closed his eyes, and tried not to cry. I did it, he thought. I hurt him. I hurt him, just like I intended to. It's better for both of us this way. So why do I hate myself now?

He went home and called Catherine, but she was out at sea, so it wasn't like she could just come to his house. "What's wrong?" she asked him. "You don't sound good."

"Oh, it's just an assignment is rubbing me the wrong way," he said.

"Steve, you've always taken things way too personally. Not every drug dealer or weapons smuggler or whoever you're chasing today has a personal vendetta against you, you know."

He laughed in spite of himself. "You sure about that?"

"Yes, I am sure. Look, I'm sorry I can't be there for you right now. Maybe you should talk to your partner. From what you've told me about him, I'm sure he'd understand what you're going through."

I wish I could, Steve thought but didn't say. "Yeah, I'm sure he would understand." Then he pretended he had another call coming through so that he didn't have to talk to Catherine about Danny any more.

Finally the day came for his so-called job interview. Somehow or other (the Governor hadn't been very clear on this) Steve's credentials had made their way to Aloha Security (really original name, Steve thought) who just happened to have a job opening. This job opening was going to be Steve's way in the door.

"I understand that you've been working for the government," said the company's CEO, Mark Keilani. "Sounds like a pretty cushy job. What made you want to give it up and come work for us?"

"I thought it sounded like a cushy job too, at first," Steve told him. "But I soon found out that my way of doing things doesn't work too well with government types. I mean, if I need information, I don't care what I have to do to get it. Who cares if a guy gets roughed up a bit? But my partner, the guy they had me working with, he'd get all worked up and yell at me if I so much as looked at somebody wrong.

"But the thing that sent me over the edge, so to speak, was when I had to protect this dictator. Now, okay, a job's a job. That's fine. It's not up to me to judge that kind of thing. But then I found out that a private security firm was getting paid a hell of a lot more than what I was being paid for doing the exact same thing I was doing. I'm like: what the fuck? I'm working for the wrong people."

"So you don't mind doing things that might be a bit questionable, legally?" Mark asked. "For the good of clients, of course."

Steve shrugged. "As long as I do get paid and don't get caught, I don't care much about legality."

There were more questions, mainly about Steve's background and experience in the military. Mark seemed satisfied with the answers, and asked Steve if he had any questions.

Steve couldn't very well ask Mark if he were planning to steal some diamonds, so he asked, "What's a typical job for you guys? What kind of things do you do most often?"

"Well, a typical contract might involve some high-powered CEO who thinks that his company security needs some assistance. Maybe he's travelling someplace where kidnappings of wealthy businessmen are common. He might be receiving threats but he doesn't want to go to the police — or the police aren't taking him seriously.

"Then there are the foreign dignitaries visiting the U.S. and the great state of Hawaii. We quite often provide security for them."

"How much do I get paid?" Steve asked.

Mark laughed. "Depends on the contract. This isn't an hourly wage type of job. When we get paid for a contract, the money is split evenly. So, what do you think? Do you want to work for Aloha Security?"

Steve accepted the offer, and he was told he could start the next day. They had a job ready for him.

The next morning Steve arrived bright and early, ready to do his new pretend job. The latest job that Aloha Security had been contracted for involved a gem importer by the name of Mr. Kehoe. Mr. Kehoe had wanted security when he went to deliver some gems to his customer.

"Can't the customer just come pick up the gems himself?" Steve asked, wondering if this were the case the Governor had told him about.

"Mr. Kehoe prides himself on personalized service," Mark explained. "That includes delivering to the customer directly, in person."

"Which is why he needs security," Steve observed.

"Exactly. That's where we come in," said Mark.

It seemed to be a simple and straightforward operation at first. Then, just when Steve thought all was clear, they were ambushed. There seemed to be men with guns everywhere he looked. Two members of his team were hurt. Steve caught a bullet in his side, but he kept firing his weapon.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, all was clear. Mark caught up with him. "You okay, McGarrett?" he asked.

Steve looked at the wound in his side. "I think I should probably go to the hospital," he said. "Does Aloha Security have a medical plan?"

After he'd been patched up and declared fit for duty, Steve went home. Despite the shooting, his first day on the job seemed to have gone okay. They hadn't actually lost any of the gems, which he supposed was a good thing, but it meant he was no further ahead when it came to finding out whether Aloha Security was dirty.

Steve stretched out with a beer and sighed. He missed his team his real team, Five-0. He missed what he considered to be his real job. And he missed Danny like hell. Right now he was sitting in his living room, staring at the TV and trying to drown his feelings.

He was seriously considering telling Governor Jameson to take this undercover assignment and shove it, except she probably wouldn't let him back into Five-0 if he did that.

Suddenly there was a knock at the door, and there stood Danny.

"What the fuck are you doing here?" Steve demanded, trying desperately to stay in character and not letting on how he was secretly overjoyed to see his (temporarily) former partner.

"I heard you got hurt," Danny answered. "I heard about the attempted jewelry heist. I came to see if you were okay."

"I'm fine," Steve replied curtly. He should have realized that the jewelry heist would have been on the news. He was pleased that Danny cared enough to check on him, but he knew he couldn't show it.

"You sure?" Danny asked, noticing the bandages peeking out from under the hem of Steve's shirt.

"Of course I'm sure."

"You don't look okay," Danny observed.

"I'm fine. Why do you care?" Steve actually wanted to hear the answer to that question.

"I care because I'm your friend. And as your friend, I would like to know what the hell is going on with you that would make you leave the job that the Governor hand-picked you for to go work for some private security company."

"I told you my reasons. If you can't accept them, too bad. I don't really care what you think." The problem was that Steve cared too much what Danny thought.

"You know, I kind of thought that this friendship thing went two ways," Danny said. "What happened to that?"

"Friends? You and me?" Steve sneered. "How could we be friends? We have absolutely nothing in common. You wear a tie all the time. You complain about everything I do. You're all 'Steve, you can't do this,' and 'Steve, you can't do that' — until, of course, it's something that you want to do. Then suddenly everything flies out the window. You're a hypocrite, Danny, and any friendship you thought we had — it just wasn't real."

"What is wrong with you? You're not acting like yourself."

"Maybe you're just seeing the real me," Steve answered. "I think you should go now, before I disappoint you even more."

Without arguing any further, Danny turned to walk out the door. "This is not the real you," he said softly as he left.

Steve watched from behind the curtains until Danny's car was out of sight. As soon as he was sure he was alone, he allowed the tears to fall.

He didn't have to go to work at Aloha the next day — Mark had encouraged him to take the day off to recuperate — so Steve decided to check in with the Governor.

The first thing Governor Jameson did was complain about Danny. "He won't leave me alone," she said. "He's either in here in person, or he's on the phone. He's always on my case."

"What is he on your case about?" Steve asked.

"You, McGarrett! He keeps pushing me to tell him what you're doing. He won't believe me when I tell him that you've quit Five-0 for good."

"What did you tell him?" Steve wanted to know.

"Like I said, I told him that you had quite Five-0 and that I hadn't heard from you since. I don't think he believes me, though."

"How's he doing as head of Five-0?" Steve had wanted to ask Danny that when Danny had come to see him, but he couldn't risk his cover by getting too personal with his ex-partner.

The Governor shrugged. "He's doing fine. He's a good cop. I'm actually surprised that he hasn't asked me to decide on adding a fourth team member. I guess he's still hoping that you'll come back."

It made Steve very happy to hear that Danny believed in him, believed that he hadn't gone over to the dark side, and that he was hoping Steve would return to Five-0. He didn't know if he deserved the faith that Danny had in him, not after the way he'd treated him, but he mentally promised his partner that he wouldn't disappoint him. That was if Danny was still speaking to him by the time this undercover assignment was done.

Soon it was time to go back to work at Aloha Security. Mr. Kehoe had more deliveries to make, and the firm had also been hired to act as bodyguards for some corporate CEO who apparently thought it would look good to have bodyguards; he didn't actually need them. They provided security for some bank transfers. After a recent armored car robbery that Five-0 had worked on, some of the banks had decided their current level of protection wasn't good enough.

Steve was soon bored out of his skull. He told himself he should be pleased that Aloha Security wasn't dirty. Mark seemed like a nice guy, and his other co-workers were decent people. Some had families to support. Working for Aloha was a good living for them.

A week went by, then two, then three. Steve checked in with the Governor when he had a chance. She kept telling him to stay put. She kept him apprised of what Five-0 was up to, at least. She also told him that Danny was still on her case about what Steve was doing. He appreciated hearing that, but it made him miss Danny and his team even more.

Sometimes when he was on his way home for the day after working for Aloha, Steve would park as close to Iolani Palace as he could without being seen, and he'd look for Chin or Kono or especially Danny to go in or out of the building. After doing that a few times, though, he told himself that he was acting like some sort of creepy stalker and to stop doing it.

He realized that his big problem was loneliness. When he was working for Five-0 he'd had Danny to talk to. Sure, they'd fought, but the fights were never about anything serious. Steve had to admit he actually enjoyed them, and he suspected that Danny did too. He wasn't close enough to anyone at Aloha to talk to them the way he used to talk to Danny.

Steve was just about ready to call the Governor and call it quits on this undercover operation when Mark gave him a new assignment. "I had to wait until you'd been here a while, until I was sure I could trust you," he said to Steve. "Come with me. I have a job for you."

Mark took Steve to a storage area. Aloha had many such areas; Mark had told him that sometimes they stored valuables for various people or companies. Steve hadn't had a chance to see what was inside them, aside from a cursory inspection when he'd first arrived and been shown around the place.

Steve soon found out that this particular storage area contained a lot of guns. He tried to hide his surprise. He'd been told to be prepared for a diamond robbery, but this was way too many guns for a diamond robbery.

"Another service we provide here at Aloha Security," Mark said cheerfully. "Transporting somewhat dangerous cargo and making sure it arrives at its intended destination without alerting law enforcement, like your former buddies in Five-0."

"Who's the customer for these?" Steve asked.

Mark shrugged. "Don't know. Don't care. My customers prefer that I know as little about them as possible. It means that if the cops do find out about this little shipment, I can't tell them anything about who these toys belong to. Seriously, all I know is that some guys will pick them up on the North Shore. Who these some guys are, I couldn't tell you, and I couldn't tell the cops, either."

"Where did they come from?" Steve wanted to know.

"Off a ship," Mark answered.

"Let me guess. Some guys unloaded them from the ship and gave them to you to deliver to some more guys."

"You got it," Mark said with a grin.

The plan was for Steve, Mark and a couple of other Aloha employees to deliver the guns to the "guys" on the North Shore on Wednesday at a prearranged drop point and pick up payment from those same guys. It was all very simple, but it posed a problem for Steve. It would be simple enough for him to pass on the information to the Governor, who would then arrange for law enforcement to be there to apprehend the customers and the Aloha employees — Steve included, in order to maintain his cover. That wouldn't be a problem.

The problem would be finding out where Mark had obtained the guns in the first place. Steve doubted Mark would just tell them everything. No, Steve had to find out on his own. He could try breaking into Mark's office after hours, but he had a feeling it wouldn't be that easy. He didn't have the hacking skills to just break into the computer. He sighed. He wished he could call Danny and ask him to ask his friend Toast to do it for him.

Wait a minute. Maybe he could.

The Governor had said when she hired him for Five-0 in the first place that he should feel free to operate by his own rules, do things his own way. Why had he let her dictate the terms of this assignment? Why had he listened to her when she told him to stay away from his team, his friends?

He needed his team. Most of all, he needed Danny.

This wouldn't be easy. Danny had every right to tell him to go to hell. He hoped that Danny's cop instincts would overrule his personal feelings when it came to Steve.

So it was that Steve found himself at his partner's door that night. Danny was obviously surprised to see him, and Steve could tell he was on the defensive. Steve didn't blame him.

"What are you doing here?" Danny asked cautiously.

"I need your help."

"Come in," Danny said, opening the door to let Steve pass. He sat on the edge of his bed, and Steve sat on a chair. He made a mental note to help Danny find a new place to live one of these days. He didn't like the idea of living in his big, empty house while Danny lived in this shoebox of an apartment.

"I'm listening," Danny said, jerking Steve out his thoughts about Danny's living accommodations.

"All right," Steve sighed. "For the past few weeks, since I left Five-0, I've been doing this undercover assignment for the Governor. She told me to do it alone, not to involve you guys, and to pretend like I didn't want to have anything to do with you anymore. She even said to make like you weren't my friends, like I didn't care about any of you."

"You did a good job of that," Danny commented, and Steve thought he sensed bitterness in his partner's voice.

"I know," Steve sighed. "But I finally realized that when she hired me for Five-0, she told me I could play by my own rules, not hers. What I also realized is that I need your help on this case. I can't do it by myself." Steve waited for Danny to make some sarcastic comment about Steve waltzing into his apartment to ask for a favour after the way he'd treated him. He knew he owed Danny a major apology; he just didn't have the time to say everything he needed to say right now. He wanted to give Danny more than a rushed, half-assed apology.

Danny wasn't sarcastic, though. He just asked, "What do you need?" No sarcasm, no yelling. He sounded a little sad, maybe, Steve thought. It was hard to tell. But he didn't have time to explore Danny's feelings. They had work to do.

"The company I work for, Aloha Security, is running guns to some guys on the North Shore. Delivery is on Wednesday. I need you to ask Toast to hack into Aloha's computers. The boss's name is Mark Keilani. I want to know where he got the guns, and from whom. I'm hoping that information is in his records somewhere, but I don't know how to find it. That's where Toast comes in.

"Second, I need you to contact Kono and Chin. I don't have time to explain my situation to them, and I can't come back to headquarters right now because I'm still supposed to be undercover. I'll let you know the exact time and location of the gun delivery when I can, and the three of you can arrest everyone — me included, because I'm supposed to be one of them."

A little smirk appeared on Danny's face at that last part. Steve figured that Danny would enjoy arresting him. He'd been threatening to do it ever since they'd started working together.

After all the details had been finalized, Steve rose to go. He was just about to step out the door when he stopped and turned to face Danny. "When all this is over, there's a lot I need to say to you," he said. "I owe you a huge apology."

"I'll hold you to that," Danny replied.

Steve reached out and lay his hand on Danny's cheek and then, before he could stop himself, he leaned forward and kissed his partner. Suddenly realizing what he was doing, he moved back and stammered, "I.... I... Um...."

Danny gently removed Steve's hand from his cheek. "We'll talk about it," he said. "Later."

Steve practically fled from Danny's house. What the fuck had he been thinking? He had been attracted to Danny almost since the moment they'd met, and he had to admit to himself that he was falling a little bit in love with his partner. But now was so not the time to be making any moves on him, not when they were in the middle of planning to apprehend some gun runners, not when Steve hadn't yet apologized for all the terrible things he'd said to Danny.

At least Danny hadn't yelled at him or hit him or done any of the myriad of other things Steve could imagine him doing in response to either Steve's insulting him or Steve's kissing him.

Enough. It was also not the time to be contemplating his relationship with Danny. It was time to get some sleep and then prepare for everything related to the gun delivery and, hopefully, the arrest of Mark and the others.

It was hard to act normal at work the next day. Steve couldn't stop thinking about kissing Danny. But he had a job to do — two jobs, actually. He had to carry out his normal duties at Aloha as well as gather all the information he could about the gun delivery.

"You okay, McGarrett?" Mark asked in a teasing manner. "Have a hot date last night?"

Steve tried to look embarrassed. "You could say that. First kiss and all that kind of thing."

Mark grinned. "Well, I haven't had a first kiss in a long time — been married for ten years — but I think I remember what it's like. No wonder you're preoccupied this morning! Want to call her?"

This was the chance that Steve had been hoping for, the chance to call Danny. "Well, if it's all right with you, boss," he said, still trying to act bashful. "I'll need some privacy, though."

"Use my office!" Mark offered. "Guys, we're going to let McGarrett here call his new love. Take a coffee break."

Steve couldn't believe his luck. He was being given access to Mark's office, and being left alone there. He had to call Danny, but he hoped to have the chance to do some snooping around while he was in the office. He got Danny on his cell phone. "Hey, Danno, it's me."

"How's it going? Any problems?" Danny asked.

"No, none so far. Look, I don't have much time. Mark — that's my boss here — is letting me use his office because he thinks I'm calling my new girlfriend. I'm trying to look through as many papers as I can while I'm in here. Did you get anything from Toast?"

"Yeah, I did," Danny answered. "Does the name Kehoe mean anything to you?"

"Kehoe? Yeah, he's a client. He's a jewel merchant. We provide security for his deliveries to his customers."

"Well, apparently he doesn't just deliver jewels. He's the one your friend Mark got the guns from," Danny informed Steve.

As Steve and Danny talked, Steve was looking through all the pieces of paper he could find in and around his boss's desk. Just as he thought he'd found something relating to the gun shipment, and was about to tell Danny, he heard the sound of Mark at the door.

"McGarrett! Are you finished talking to your lady yet?"

Steve thought fast. "Honey," he said, "I think my boss wants me to get off the phone and get back to work."

"Then get back to work, and don't call me 'honey'," Danny replied.

"So you know what our plans are for tomorrow?" Steve asked, hoping that Mark still thought he was talking to his girlfriend.

Danny repeated back their plans for the gun dropoff the next day.

"Sounds good, babe," Steve said, thinking as he did so that it was his turn to call Danny 'babe.' "I'll see you tomorrow. I love you. Bye." He wasn't sure what had made him add that last bit, but he hoped it got Danny's attention. He smiled to himself as he imagined Danny staring at the phone, wondering why Steve had said it.

"So how's the girlfriend?" Mark asked.

"Boyfriend, actually," Steve replied. "He's fine. We're getting together tomorrow after that little job you and I are doing."

"Boyfriend, huh? Well, I guess you never can tell from looking. Anyway, about that job tomorrow. Just have a few more details to cover." And Mark went on about the gun deal.

That night, Steve had trouble sleeping. He was looking forward to this undercover job finally being finished, but nervous about facing his Five-0 teammates for the first time since going undercover. Danny had been more understanding than Steve had expected, so he hoped that Kono and Chin would be as forgiving.

First thing the next morning Steve, Mark and a few other trusted Aloha employees took a helicopter to the site where they were to meet the customers who were buying the guns. Five-0 were there, along with a few HPD members for backup. The entire operation went off without a hitch. Danny personally put Steve in handcuffs and didn't release him till they were back at Five-0 headquarters.

"I wasn't sure if I should let you go till you've explained yourself to everyone," Danny commented as Chin Ho and Kono came into the room.

Chin spoke first. "So you were undercover," he commented. "And you couldn't let us know? Why — don't you trust us?"

"It's not that," Steve insisted. "I trust you guys with my life. I was just following Governor's orders. I know, I know," he added to forestall any objections. "I'm supposedly able to follow my own rules, but when she asked..."

"You jumped," Kono said.

"I think she was testing my loyalty," Steve said. "I think she wants to believe she can control me. If she asks me to do anything like that again, I'll refuse. We're a team, the four of us, and I'm sorry that I let you believe that I don't value all of you."

"So you've learned your lesson?" Chin asked mock-sternly.

"I have," Steve assured him.

Chin smiled. "Welcome back," he said.

Kono threw her arms around Steve and hugged him. "That goes for me too, boss."

Steve turned to Danny then. He jerked his head toward his office. "Can we talk?"

Without a word, Danny followed him.

Steve shut the door behind them. "I owe you a huge apology," he said. "Your friendship is important to me, and I'm sorry that I said it wasn't real. The fact that you came to see me when I'd been hurt, even after the way I treated you — that means something. It means a lot. But I made things even worse by denying our friendship.

"Even after all those things I said to you, when I asked for your help you were still there for me. God knows I didn't deserve it. I don't know why you even let me into your apartment after all I'd said and done."

"Because I know you," Danny said.

"Because what?"

"I know you," Danny repeated. "I know you didn't mean what you said. That's not like you. Sure, you blow up at me, and you say things, but you would never say or do anything to deliberately hurt me. You're not like that. So I knew there had to be something going on that you weren't telling me. That's why I kept getting on the Governor's case, to get her to tell me what you were doing."

Shaking his head, Steve said, "Danno, I think you have more faith in me than I do in myself."

Danny grinned. "Come on, let's get out of here. It's been a long day. I'll buy you a beer."

In the congenial atmosphere of the bar, Steve found himself relaxing for the first time since he'd started his undercover assignment. "So how did you like being head of Five-0?"

"It was okay," Danny answered. "But it's not my style. I'm quite happy to hand the reins back to you."

"So fill me in. Tell me what you guys did while I was gone." Steve knew that Danny liked to talk, and he was quite happy to sit and just listen to him talk. He'd been away from Danny for too long, and he'd missed hearing his partner's voice.

Before long, though, Danny stopped talking about Five-0's adventures. "So are you ever going to tell me why you kissed me?" he asked.

Steve knew he couldn't avoid talking about it forever. "I'll tell you," he answered, "but not here. Will you come home with me?"

Danny signalled the bartender and paid their tab. "Lead on."

Steve tried to make small talk in the car on the way to his house. He asked about Grace. But most of the trip was spent in silence that made him want to squirm.

He reminded himself that Danny hadn't freaked out at their kiss. He'd definitely been surprised, of course. It's not every day your same-sex boss kisses you out of the blue. But he hadn't seemed particularly upset or anything like that.

When they finally got to Steve's house it was a relief, in a way, but now it meant that he was expected to explain his actions. He headed to the fridge. "Want another Longboard?" he asked.

Danny shook his head. "No, I'd like to be thinking clearly for this conversation."

Hearing that, Steve put the beers back in the fridge. He'd have liked some liquid courage, but he too wanted to be thinking clearly. He sat down facing his partner. He knew Danny expected him to say something, but he had no idea what to say.

"So are you going to talk, or what?" Danny asked.

"I would if I knew what to say." May as well be honest.

"What's so hard about explaining why you kissed me? You must have had a reason."

"I kissed you because I wanted to," Steve blurted. He wished he had a beer after all. Holding the bottle would at least give his hands something to do.

"Why did you want to?"

Steve sighed. "Every time I'm with you, I want to touch you. I want to kiss you. I have a hard time keeping my hands off you."

"So you're attracted to me," Danny observed.

"It's more than that, Danno. I'm falling in love with you."

Danny appeared stunned. The usually talkative man, the one whom Steve couldn't get to shut up, was suddenly silent. He stood up and walked over to the window, his back to Steve, staring into space.

Finally Steve couldn't take it any more. "Danno, please, say something."

"Now it's my turn to not know what to say." Danny turned to face him. "I honestly wasn't expecting this. I could tell that you were attracted to me. I think I knew that you loved me. I didn't know that you, well, loved me."

"I did say 'I love you' when I talked to you on the phone yesterday."

"Yeah, and I thought you were pretending I was your girlfriend."

"Boyfriend, actually," Steve said. "Danno, you are the most important person in my life. If it weren't for you, I'd be completely alone. My parents are both dead. I see my sister once in a blue moon. The woman that I sort of considered to be my girlfriend is sailing off around the world. Admittedly you and I didn't get along that well at first...."

"Yeah, 'cause all great romances start with people pulling guns on each other," Danny interrupted.

"You know how it bugs me when you complain about living here?"

"I kind of noticed that, yeah."

"The reason for that is that I don't want to lose you. One of these days Grace is going to grow up and probably go off to college somewhere. She's the only reason you're here, so what happens when she's not here anymore? Do you go back to Jersey? I know you hate it here, but I don't want you to go."

"Actually," Danny said, "every day that I'm here, I like it a little better."

"Really?" Steve asked hopefully.

Danny walked over to Steve and took his partner in his arms. "Every day that I'm with you, that is." He kissed Steve gently, almost experimentally at first, then harder.

After enthusiastically returning Danny's kiss, Steve asked, "So what does this mean? What about us? Where are we?"

"It means that I love you, too," was Danny's answer. "I wasn't expecting it. It took me completely by surprise. Somehow you became the most important person in my life after Gracie. As for where we are, well, we're in Hawaii, which may not be so much of a pineapple-infested hellhole as I thought. Not as long as you're here."

Steve took the opportunity to kiss Danny some more. Danny happily reciprocated.

"You really can't keep your hands off me, can you?" Danny asked with some amusement.

"Why should I?" Steve asked. "I've been away from you for too long. Now that we're together, I'm going to take every opportunity to touch you, and to keep touching you."

"If you intend to do that," Danny said, "then how about we move this to the bedroom?"

"I'd like that," Steve answered, "except...."

"Except what?"

"Except I've never done this kind of thing with a guy before. I have no idea what to do, where to start."

"I haven't done this either, babe," Danny reassured him. "How about we figure it out together?"

"That's the best offer I've had all week," Steve said with a relieved smile. "Let's go."

END