Joking Around

by Jane Davitt

"And then he looks at the stripper and says 'I love you'," Steve says, meeting Danny's eyes as he works his way through a joke that isn't even all that funny when the person telling it doesn't keep stopping to correct themselves. He wishes he could blame his inability to tell a joke on being drunk, but it'd be really unfair if he did.

Danny nods and waves the hand not holding a drink in an encouraging way. He spills some of his cocktail anyway, about a dollar's worth. "Okay."

"He says 'I love you'," Steve repeats doggedly, throwing in a meaningful wiggle of his eyebrows. Get a clue, buddy, please. I'm dying here.

"And?" Danny prompts.

The punch line that he was hoping he wouldn't need to say has gone from his head, wiped clean by panic. He's teetering on the edge here, but he can still step back, save himself from embarrassment and awkwardness on an epic scale. He takes an unwisely large gulp from his beer and chokes on it. It buys him time, but when the table's been dried and Danny's stopped trying to clear his lungs by thumping his back, Steve knows he's going to have to finish this or hate himself in the morning.

Danny's drunk enough to be persistent, just as expected, a dog with a bone except it's all directed at the stupid fucking joke. "So how does it end?"

Steve opens his mouth, stares right at Danny, falling helplessly into the blue of his eyes, not struggling at all during the plummet, and says slowly, distinctly, spacing the words, "I love you, Danny."

Danny frowns, confusion spreading over his face. Even his hair seems to be bemused, a strand of it falling over his forehead in a question mark, the humidity defeating the product he's slathered over it.

"Danny? Danielle, you mean? I thought you said the stripper's name was Roxy?"

He's clearly fallen in love with an idiot. Fucking gorgeous, staunch, loyal, with an ass to die for, but an idiot. Steve inhales, gathering enough oxygen to fuel a final attempt to get his message over, though at this point he's wondering if he shouldn't take the hint from the universe and give up.

He's about to speak when Danny leans over the sticky table and puts his hand over Steve's. "You know what's funny, what's really funny, Steven? Funniest thing ever?"

Yeah. Me for taking one look at you and knowing I can't get enough of you and what we have isn't enough, God, it's not even close, Steve thinks. "No, what?"

"I love you." Danny sits back and spreads his arms wide, his hand narrowly missing a tray loaded with empty glasses. The muttered curse the waiter carrying it gives him is obscene enough to earn him an icy glare from Steve. Danny's his fucking clumsy haole, thank you very much. "How about that for a coincidence? Okay, you can laugh now. Oh, yeah, right, there it is, I can see you smiling. Thought you would. Feel free to mock as well, I can take it. Just don't go all ninja on my ass because I don't want to have to explain a black eye to Grace tomorrow."

Steve can't stop smiling. He hopes that it's possible to kiss someone with a grin, because he doesn't see the smile leaving his face any time soon.

"Come outside with me," he says in what he hopes is a seductive, throaty murmur.

Danny blinks at him. "We're gonna fight over this? Or did you finally remember how the joke ends? I'm confused."

"It ends with me kissing you if you get your ass outside," Steve snaps, giving up on seduction in favor of bluntness.

Danny purses his lips and gives the situation more thought than Steve really thinks it needs.

"Best joke ever," Danny decides and stands up. "But I don't see why I have to wait until we get outside. The door's way over there and you're right here."

Yeah, Danny's most definitely drunk, but so is Steve, so that makes it okay, at least he thinks it does.

This time, Danny knocks the tray -- full glasses -- out of the waiter's hand and gets them kicked out of the bar and banned for the foreseeable future, possibly life. It's the Blue Monkey; they'll probably be safe to come back by Tuesday if they bring Kono with them.  

Steve doesn't care about the exorbitant bill, the paper umbrella that got wedged in his ear, the way that Danny's hair is dripping bright blue liquid over everything. Even if that first kiss had landed on his cheek, sliding messily, wetly over to his nose, he doesn't care.

Danny's kissed him, Danny loves him, and poor forgotten Roxy's just going to have to deal with the man wearing a duck on his head the best way she can.

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