Danny and Steve were at Five-0 headquarters when Danny's cell phone rang. From the way Danny reacted to the phone call, Steve could tell that it was not good news. He wondered what it could be — Danny's ex-wife causing trouble again? He hoped nothing was wrong with Grace.
When Danny put down the phone, Steve asked gently: "Bad news?"
"My mother is sick," Danny replied. "It's critical. I have to go back to New Jersey ASAP."
Steve turned to his computer."I'll make the travel arrangements for you," he offered. "Don't worry about a thing. Go home and pack, and when you come back here I'll have everything waiting for you." He figured that his partner was probably worried and preoccupied when he didn't argue but just said, "Thanks," and left.
Steve went online and was about to book a commercial flight for Danny when he had an idea. He picked up the phone and made a few calls. Then he went back to the computer and booked a hotel room.
When Danny got back to headquarters, Steve had an itinerary for him. "There's a Navy flight leaving in an hour. You're on it. It'll take you as far as California — San Francisco. I've got a friend there with a private plane who owes me a favour; he'll take you to New Jersey. I got you what I hope is a decent hotel."
"Wow," said Danny, blinking in surprise. "Thank you." Then he sighed. "I had to say goodbye to Grace on voice mail. Rachel would kill me if I took her out of school for even five minutes. I guess I'll send her an email when I land." He looked at the time. "You said the plane leaves in an hour? I guess I should get going. Try not to kill anyone while I'm gone."
"Send me one too," Steve blurted.
"An email," Steve said. "Send me an email. Let me know how you're doing. If there's anything else I can do to help...."
"Steve, you've done more than enough. Thank you for everything. And I mean it about not killing anyone." Danny hitched his bag on to his shoulder. "I really should get going so that I don't miss that plane. Say goodbye to Chin and Kono for me, willya?"
Steve suddenly had an urge to hug Danny. He settled for holding out his hand for a handshake. "See you, Danno."
Danny accepted the handshake. "Yeah, see you. And, uh, mahalo. That's what they say around here, isn't it?"
Steve grinned at Danny's use of the Hawaiian word and didn't realize at first that he hadn't released his partner's hand. "You're welcome."
"Uh, Steve? Can I have my hand back, please?"
Steve quickly withdrew his hand and watched his partner walk out the door.
That night he received an email from Danny.
Here's the email I promised you. I've arrived safely. The hotel you chose is pretty good. And you know what? The people around here actually wear ties.
Steve quickly sent a return email.
Glad to hear you got there in one piece, tie and all. You never know with Navy pilots, and I can say that, because I was one. How's your mother doing?
Steve waited impatiently for a response until he was finally rewarded with a "new message" notification.
It's too late for me to see her tonight, and her doctor's gone home, so I have to wait for the morning before they'll tell me anything. Have you killed anyone yet?
Steve cursed mentally. He'd forgotten that his partner was now several time zones away. It was probably very late at night in New Jersey, and he felt bad for keeping Danny up.
Sorry, forgot how late it is there. You can go to sleep knowing that I have refrained from killing anyone since you left.
He was about to close his laptop when he got the "new message" notification again.
Goodnight, Steve was all it said. Steve smiled as he sent his response.
The next day was incredibly busy for Steve. Chin and Kono were valuable parts of the team, but Danny was his partner, and he hated not having his partner there. He liked that Danny always spoke his mind, no matter what. Sometimes Steve felt that he actually needed it. When he'd been in the Navy very few people had actually dared speak their minds when he was around, because of his rank.
When he finally arrived home around eight, he saw that he had a few new messages in his email inbox. One was from Danny.
So, have you killed anyone today?
Amazing how that one brief message improved his day tenfold.
Nope. I'm waiting for you to get back before I kill anyone. How's your mother doing? Did you get to talk to her doctor?
He realized that he was calling Danny "Danno," which his partner had professed to hate, but so far he hadn't objected to the nickname. Maybe Danny just had too many other things on his mind to make a fuss over something minor like that. Either that, or he didn't actually dislike the nickname.
A few long minutes went by before a response arrived.
Yeah, I talked to her doctor. Unfortunately, things don't look good. Apparently she's been sick for a while now, but she wouldn't tell me because she didn't want me to worry. Still, while there's life, there's hope, as the saying goes.
Damn. Steve felt sorry for his partner. He remembered his own mother's final illness. He wished he could be there for Danny. He wished Danny wasn't so damn far away.
Sorry to hear that, buddy. I wish I could do something to help. I'll try to avoid killing people if it will make you feel better.
Now he was calling Danny "Buddy"? He wasn't sure where that had come from.
The response from Danny came back almost immediately.
Actually, you are helping. Just having someone to talk to about this helps a lot. Times like this, being an only child kind of sucks. Thanks for the offer to refrain from killing people, by the way. Maybe next you could work on not mortally wounding people.
When he read that Danny liked being able to talk to him, Steve wished he were actually talking to Danny instead of just emailing him. But it was already something like one in the morning in New Jersey, and he didn't want to make Danny stay up any later than he already had.
Looking at the most recent email, Steve realized that Danny had signed himself "Danno." Maybe it was just a typo. Maybe Danny was too preoccupied to notice it.
Steve kind of liked it, though.
While he was pondering this, another email came through.
You still there, Steve?
There it was again — Danno.
Still here, Danno. I hope you're doing okay. You know you can talk to me, or email me, anytime you want to.
Thanks, partner. I may take you up on that offer. Actually, I guess that's what I'm doing now, aren't I? Anyway, I've been here for two days and already I miss Hawaii. Don't tell anyone I said that.
Steve laughed, glad to see that his partner still had a sense of humour.
I don't believe you miss Hawaii. You are obviously still suffering from jet lag, and it's messing with your brain. Get some sleep.
The sound of his email notification was sounding better every time he heard it. The final email was the same as it had been last night.
Steve reluctantly sent the last email for the night.
The next morning when Steve checked his email, there was another message from Danny, with no subject line on it. His heart dropped when he saw it.
My mother passed away early this morning.
This time Steve didn't bother with email. He grabbed the phone and called his partner. When Danny answered, he asked, "Danno, are you all right?"
There was a sigh at the other end of the line. "Not really. I think I'm just stunned at this moment. It hasn't really hit me yet. I have a lot of stuff to take care of — hospital bills, funeral arrangements, stuff like that. I guess I'll be here in Jersey for awhile yet."
"Don't worry about it, partner. Take all the time you need. I know what I had to deal with when my father was killed. And, listen, Danno?"
"When it does hit you, call me, email me — something. I've been there. I'll help you through it."
There was a long pause on the line, and Steve was afraid they'd been disconnected. He was relieved to hear Danny's voice, finally.
"Saying 'thank you' doesn't seem like enough. I owe you big time."
For the second time in just a few days, Steve wanted to hug Danny. "Danno, don't worry about it. Don't think about owing me. Just take care of yourself, and I'll be here when you need me." He didn't say "if" Danno needed him. Somehow he knew that his partner would need him — or, at least, he wanted him to.
The next couple of days went by in a blur. Steve was working round the clock and didn't have time to email Danny. He didn't receive any emails, either. He supposed his partner was just too busy with taking care of everything related to his mother's death.
He was surprised how much he missed the emails, and missed Danny. How had this man gotten under his skin so quickly?
Three days after their phone call, Steve received another email.
I've decided I don't miss Hawaii after all.
Well, at least he was still calling himself 'Danno.'
I knew it. The tie was a dead giveaway.
He decided not to ask about Danny's feelings or whether his mother's death had hit him yet. He knew that when his father had been killed, one thing he'd hated was being constantly asked things like, "How are you holding up?" He'd let Danny broach the subject on his own terms.
The next email arrived.
What I mean is, it's not Hawaii that I miss. It's you. I miss you.
Steve's heart lurched into his throat. He read the email half a dozen times. He didn't know what had prompted Danny to send this message, but there it was, in black and white. Maybe Danny's propensity to speak his mind extended to his emails.
Before he could talk himself out of it, Steve sent his response.
I miss you too, Danno.
Now the ball was in Danny's court. Steve counted the minutes until the email notification popped up again.
Sorry I haven't been in touch for a few days. There was just too much to do. The funeral was today. Suddenly it all seems a lot more real. You really miss me?
Steve was slightly amused by the 'you really miss me' tagged on to the end of the message, but he also found it sweet.
Yeah, I really miss you. I even miss the tie. There isn't anyone else around here that I can bug about wearing ties. Think Chin Ho would wear one if I asked him?
Danny's return message came so quickly Steve wondered exactly how fast his partner could type.
Don't make Chin wear a tie. Kono, maybe. Actually, no. Scratch that. I'm the only one who wears a tie in Five-0. Okay?
Steve was still chuckling to himself at that message when another one came through.
I really miss you.
Steve typed faster than he could ever remember typing.
I really miss you too.
Apparently Danny's typing speed was similarly impressive. No sooner had Steve sent his message than the reply popped up.
I would like to continue this conversation, but I'm dead on my feet and badly need some sleep. Your offer to call you if I need you — does that still stand? After the funeral today I get the feeling I'm going to need to talk to someone fairly soon, but I realize you have a job to do, and I don't want to take you away from it.
Steve didn't need to think twice about his response to that one.
You bet it still stands. Any time, day or night. If I have to miss some sleep, well, that's what coffee's for. Take care of yourself, and get some sleep. And consider yourself hugged.
He couldn't believe he'd just said that. "Consider yourself hugged"? Seriously? He dreaded opening Danny's next message.
What do you mean, "Consider yourself hugged"? Care to explain?
Steve groaned, but he had to be honest with his partner.
What I mean is, right now I really want to hug you. But you're there, and I'm here. So just pretend that I hugged you, okay?
Steve was feeling horrendously embarrassed right now. The next message arrived.
In that case, consider yourself hugged right back. Goodnight, my friend.
With a relieved smile, Steve sent his final message of the night.
Goodnight to you too, my friend.
Steve wasn't terribly surprised when his phone rang during the night. He'd been expecting to hear from Danny. Sure enough, his mother's funeral had been enough to cause all his feelings of grief to come crashing down on him. Steve was glad to know that he was the one Danny turned to in his time of need. They talked for about an hour.
Just before he hung up, Danny said, "By the way, Steve, I meant it when I said I miss you. I do miss you."
"I miss you too, Danno."
"You know, I kind of like it when you call me Danno. It's funny. I used to hate it."
Steve laughed. "Obviously I've grown on you."
"Yeah, like a fungus. Goodnight, Steve."
Steve had had the strangest impulse to end the call by saying, "I love you, Danno."
The next night found Steve impatiently waiting for an email from Danny. He had the feeling that Kono and Chin Ho had been looking at him strangely all day because he'd been compulsively checking his inbox most of the day.
His patience — or impatience, actually — was finally rewarded early that evening.
Do you get the impression that something is going on between us?
Well, that was cryptic enough.
I don't know. What do you mean by 'something'?
I don't know either. That's the problem. All I know is, I can't stop thinking about you. Even when I'm falling asleep here at the computer, I don't want our email exchanges to end for the night. All day I look forward to getting back to my hotel room so I can get in touch with you. I thought that I'd feel at home when I got back to Jersey, but since I've been here I've wanted nothing more than to be back in Hawaii, because that's where you are.
Steve could hardly believe what he was reading. Danny really felt that way about him? He sent his response, but he was afraid that it was worded rather awkwardly, because he really didn't know how to say what he himself was feeling other than "Me, too," and he didn't think that would cut it.
I think I understand what you're saying. What do you propose we do about it?
Danny's response was curt.
Frustrated, Steve banged out his response.
What does it depend on, Danno?
Danny's answer was almost immediate.
It depends on how you feel about me.
When he saw Danny's response, Steve was immediately sorry for his abruptness in his last email. The problem now was that he didn't know quite how to put his feelings into words. He hadn't really taken the time to examine them because, to be quite honest, they scared him to death.
It wasn't like he hadn't been in relationships before. He'd been in plenty. But he'd never let anyone get as close to him as Danny had. Being in the Navy had been convenient that way. He was always going out to sea or being transferred somewhere new, so he had a ready-made excuse for not making any kind of commitment.
Since the Navy rules prevented him from being involved with men, he'd never had to spend any time thinking about his feelings in that regard. He'd just dismissed them. But now he was in Hawaii more or less permanently, and now he had Danny. The strange thing was, he hadn't set out intending to let Danny get that close. It had just happened. Not only that, but it had happened with another man.
Well, he wasn't in the Navy anymore. 'Don't ask, don't tell' didn't apply. Hawaii wasn't too bad a state for same-sex couples; they'd come close to legalizing same-sex marriage a few years ago.
Maybe he and Danny could do this — whatever "this" was. He still hadn't figured that one out.
Steve didn't realize how long he'd been thinking about this until he checked his inbox. There was one more email from Danny.
I guess I was wrong. Oh well. It 's not the first time this has happened. Thanks for being there for me when I needed you. I'll probably be back on the Island in a few days.
Fuck shit piss damn hell. Steve immediately fired an email back.
Don't shut me out, please. I really do think something is happening between us, but I don't know how to explain it. I really want to talk about this with you, but I don't know where to start. Help me out here. I need you.
When he hadn't received a response after an hour, he called Danny. His call went straight to voice mail. He left a message. "Danno, please call me back. I really need to talk to you."
He got no response to that, either. He tried calling and emailing several more times, but it appeared that Danny was refusing all communication from him.
Steve didn't get any sleep that night.
The next day at work he spent most of the day compulsively checking his email and voice mail. He continued calling and emailing Danny. If Chin and Kono had any idea what was going on, they didn't say anything. In fact, they were giving him a wide berth. Given his mood, he didn't blame them.
Another couple of days went by. Steve was beginning to wonder if Danny had decided to stay in New Jersey when finally, a message popped up in his email.
I'll be arriving tomorrow at four o'clock — that's 16:00 to you military types. You can meet me, or I can take a cab. It's up to you.
Steve noticed that Danny had dropped the "Danno" moniker and was signing himself "Danny" again. That hurt more than he'd thought it would. But at least his partner was talking to him again.
I'll be there with bells on.
He wasn't sure if he'd get a response, but after about five of the longest minutes ever recorded, another email arrived.
Bells won't be necessary. But feel free to wear them if you feel the need. By the way, I forgot to ask you if you'd killed anyone lately. Have you?
Steve was relieved to see that his partner apparently had his sense of humour back. He refrained from mentioning that he'd felt like killing everyone he'd come in contact with since Danny had stopped emailing him.
No, I haven't killed anyone. Somehow it's just not the same without you here. I'll have to make up for it when you get back.
Steve mostly enjoyed the banter with Danny, but he hated that Danny had so abruptly backed away from the subject of exactly what was going on between them. Unfortunately, he was too scared to bring it up himself.
Then another email arrived.
Do you still need to talk to me?
Steve's fingers flew across the keyboard.
Yes, if you're willing to listen.
P.S. I miss you.
He hit "send" before he could change his mind about the postscript.
Another eternity went by before he received Danny's response.
I guess I'll see you tomorrow, then.
P.S. Me too.
Steve was relieved to see that his partner was signing himself "Danno" again, and the postscript made him hopeful. But he had no idea what tomorrow would bring.
After a night of absolutely no sleep and a day in which he failed to get any work done — thankfully, the team didn't have any assignments at the moment — Steve showed up at the airport to meet his partner. He was more nervous than he could ever remember being. He knew that he needed to talk to Danny, but even though he'd spent his entire sleepless night thinking about it, he still didn't know what to say.
Then suddenly Danny was there, right there, right in front of him, looking at him expectantly. His partner. His Danno.
Suddenly Steve didn't need any words. He'd always believed the old saying about actions speaking louder than words anyway. He threw his arms around Danny and hugged him. Danny seemed a little surprised for a moment, but then he returned the hug with enthusiasm.
When they broke apart, both men were smiling. "I missed you, Danno. It's good to have you back."
"It's good to be back," Danny said. "I don't know anyone in Jersey who would drop a suspect into a shark cage. There aren't any shark cages in Jersey to drop people into, even. It's really a very boring place compared to here."
Steve grabbed Danny's bag. "Come home with me," he said. "I'll cook you dinner, and we can talk."
"If food is being offered, then I am definitely accepting." Danny followed him to the car.
Over dinner they talked about everything but their relationship. Danny talked about seeing his extended family for the first time in years. He and Steve commiserated over all the work that went into settling a parent's estate and how difficult it was to deal with all of that work while also dealing with the loss of a parent.
After dinner was over, Steve got up to do the dishes and clean the kitchen. Danny stopped him with a hand on his arm. "Sit down," he said. "You said you needed to talk to me. Well, here I am. Talk."
Steve sat, pulling his chair closer to Danny's. "Okay. Look, I think there was some kind of misunderstanding between you and me. You asked me how I felt about you, and I didn't answer right away because I couldn't figure out how to put it into words. And I guess I took too long, because suddenly you got all distant and said that you were wrong and 'It's not the first time this has happened.' Then you wouldn't email me or answer my calls. Honestly, Danno, I don't get it. What went wrong?"
Danny sighed and wouldn't meet his partner's eyes. "I'm sorry. I had a kind of flashback, you might call it. You see, before I married Rachel I dated both men and women. Mostly women, but some men too. I think some people called me 'hetero-flexible.'
"I didn't do well when it came to meeting men. Somehow I just kept getting my signals crossed. I made a few straight men very unhappy with me. But worst of all, I screwed up a couple of friendships. When you didn't answer me, all I could think of was that it was happening again, and I couldn't handle it. I didn't read any of your emails or take your calls because I didn't want to know how badly I'd messed up our friendship."
Steve hated to see how painful that revelation had been for his partner. "What changed?" he asked. "What made you get back in touch?"
"Well, I thought about everything we'd talked about up till then, and I thought that maybe I wasn't wrong. And I decided that even if I was wrong, I had to face it — face you — because I'm not planning on leaving Hawaii as long as Grace is here. So I read your emails, and I listened to your voice mails, and you didn't sound mad. You sounded confused, and you sounded upset, but you didn't sound like you were mad at me. So I decided to send out a feeler and see how you responded."
"I'm glad you did," Steve said. "I was worried that you weren't ever going to speak to me again, and I think I was driving Chin and Kono up the wall with the way I was checking my email every spare moment — and maybe a few that weren't exactly spare."
Danny smiled at that, then he turned serious again. He looked directly into Steve's eyes. "You haven't answered me yet."
"I said that what we do about whatever is happening between us depends on how you feel about me. How do you feel about me, Steve?"
Steve momentarily panicked. This was what he'd been dreading, not because he didn't have strong feelings for his partner, but because he didn't know how to put them into words. Then he remembered his inspiration at the airport, about actions being louder than words. He leaned forward and kissed Danny.
When he was finished the kiss, Steve sat back and asked, "Does that answer your question, Danno?"
"Hang on a minute, buddy," Danny answered. "I need to unscramble my brains after that kiss. Where did you learn to kiss like that, anyway?"
Danny arched a questioning eyebrow at that remark but didn't say anything. Steve made a mental note that he and Danny would need to discuss their respective histories at some point.
"Okay," Danny said, "now that I have my brains unscrambled, the answer to your question, in response to my question, is: sort of." Steve groaned. "What the fuck does that mean?" he demanded. "It means that while I enjoyed that kiss very much, it doesn't show me how you feel about me other than that you're attracted to me. I'm attracted to you, too. But what I need to know is: is this a 'friends with benefits' sort of thing? Is it strictly physical, or is there more to it?"
"Oh, Danno," Steve sighed. "When you were gone, I was.... I was going nuts. Every day I was checking my email every chance I got, hoping to hear from you. Every night when we were emailing each other, I didn't want it to end. I knew that it was a lot later at night for you than it was for me, and I felt bad about that, but at the same time I didn't want to say goodnight.
"It wasn't until you weren't here that I realized.... I think I'm kinda crazy about you, Danno."
In response to his partner's declaration, Danny stood and pulled Steve up with him so that they were standing facing each other. "I know I'm crazy about you, Steve." He put his arms around Steve's neck and kissed him. They stayed like that for several minutes, kissing, touching, enjoying the feeling of each other's bodies. Eventually, though, they had to come up for air.
Steve took Danny's hand and led him to the couch, where they sat as closely as they could without actually being in each other's laps, and he kept hold of Danny's hand. "Uh, I feel like I'm about to throw cold water on us, but I need to know. Where do we go from here?"
Danny shifted slightly so that he could see Steve's face. "What do you mean, where do we go? I don't get what you're saying."
"I know how I feel about you. I know how you feel about me. But I don't know what that means in the — the big picture, I guess. What are we to each other? Are you my boyfriend now, or what? What do we tell Chin and Kono?"
"We're partners, Steve. It just means more now. I think Kono and Chin will figure things out pretty quickly, if they haven't already. The big picture — how about we take that one step at a time? We don't have to rush into anything."
Steve wanted to rush. He wanted to rush out and find someone who could marry him and Danny. He didn't want to let the man out of his sight, never mind out of the state, ever again. "You could move in here," he suggested.
"I'd like that," Danny said. "I'd like that a lot. But not quite yet — okay? Like I said, one step at a time."
"Would you at least stay here tonight? You were gone for so long, and I just got you back. I don't want to let go of you just yet."
Danny groaned, and Steve could tell that his partner was conflicted about the request. "I want to. I want to so much. But not yet. I know," he said when Steve began to protest. "I know how much you want us to be together. I want it just as much as you do. But I'm not ready to take that step tonight. I'll stay here a little while longer, though." He took Steve in his arms again.
It was the wee hours of the morning before Danny finally went home. The two men spent the time alternating between makeout sessions and discussing their relationship.
It took several goodnight kisses before Steve finally let Danny go.
When Steve was getting ready for bed, he heard his computer beep. He had a new email.
Goodnight, Steve. I love you.
Steve sighed happily and sent his reply.
Goodnight, Danno. I love you, too.