by Jane Davitt

Danny woke from a sleep profound enough to make him feel as if waking required an effort similar to climbing a mountain or surfacing from a deep, deep dive. He fought hard to stay asleep and woke fully to find the sheets tangled around him and his body damp with sweat.

The thud of a fist against the door was hard enough, impatient enough that he didn't need to hear his name called out to know that it was Steve on the other side. Now that he thought about it, that hammering and that deep voice had invaded his dream, disrupting it with an uncompromising finality.

With a sigh, he got out of bed before he could slip back under the warm, dark waters of sleep -- fuck, but he was tired -- and tugged on a pair of boxers that belonged in the laundry, not on the floor. Laundry, like sleep, long showers, regular meals, and a day off, didn't exist in his life, hadn't for the last few weeks or so.

His mouth still tasted of toothpaste. He hadn't been asleep for long, then. Not long enough. Yawning and feeling slightly sick, he opened the door and let in some warm, damp air, smelling faintly of sea and flowers, and a pissed-off Steve.

"About fucking time," Steve said, pushing past him, his face tight with annoyance. "You sleep like the dead, anyone ever tell you that?"

"And good morning to you," Danny said to the patch of empty air where Steve had been. "Or do I mean good middle-of-the-night?"

"I took the skin off my knuckles knocking," Steve said, which was a lie. Anyone who punched people as often as Steve could take a door, easy. "What took you so long to answer?"

Danny pushed the door to -- something told him that he'd be using it very soon, so he didn't bother to close it properly. "One, I was waking up after --" He squinted at the clock by the bed. It was Grace's, generously donated to him when she'd grown out of her obsession with Disney Princesses. He turned it away when he was jerking off. Cinderella always looked disapproving. "Oh, wow, look at that. A whole three hours of sleep. And two, I sleep naked. I wasn't sure you could handle the sight of me in all my glory."

As he spoke, he was dressing, pulling on clothes he'd stripped off a few hours earlier. He felt like a movie run in reverse.

Steve snorted. "I could handle you naked just fine."

Danny paused, one sock in his hand, the other on his foot. Steve said shit like this all the time and it was getting more and more difficult to keep it light when he replied. "I'm going to pretend you didn't say that and if I fail, I'm gonna remember that you played football and lived in barracks or something and that's why you're so good at groping naked men."

"What? I didn't say I groped -- you know what? Forget it. Just get a move on. Julius is waiting to spill about the operation and he won't talk to anyone but you."

"And he picks the middle of the night to do it?" Danny said incredulously. "That selfish son of a bitch. Weeks I've been leaning on him, weeks and he decides to rat out Henderson now? Shit."

He sat down on his bed and took his time working the second sock on, smoothing it over his foot with a stubborn attention to detail that the act didn't really merit. "Why are you here, anyway? No need for both of us to be out of bed when we all know I'm his favorite." No need for either of them to be up. Let Julius wait, picking nervously at his nails, chewing them until Danny wanted to slap them away from his mouth.

 He wanted to flop back into the nest of sheets and close his eyes. He was drunk with lack of sleep. If Steve had crawled in next to him, he wouldn't have cared. Might have even made room for him, that's how tired he was.

Steve next to him, all that coiled energy directed into something as peaceful as sleeping…Danny thought -- no, he knew -- that he'd like to see that. Waking up in the middle of the night and hearing soft snores sounded surprisingly good, no matter who was making them. He shook his head. He was losing it here. No sleep, no sex for weeks…he spent most of his time with Steve, overlapping with Chin and Kono for big chunks of it. Less of a team than a family -- except it was disturbing enough thinking about the fallout from sleeping with Steve, bare and long between his sheets, without throwing some fucked up brotherly love into the mix. Disturbing, exciting…there wasn't much difference.

Steve sucked in a sharply impatient breath. "I'm here because Chin couldn't get hold of you and neither could I. I need to be able to get in touch with you, all of you, 24/7, you know that. I don't care if you're in the shower, fast asleep, or balls deep in someone getting your rocks off; when I call, you pick up. Now where's your goddamn phone?"

Danny waved at the bedside table with the hand not occupied in rubbing sleep out of his eyes. "Right there, O Lord and Master. And by the way, bite me. Bite me good. And if I ever turn into the kind of spineless freak who lets you get away with talking to me like that, just shoot me."

"No, it's not and don't tempt me. Thinking about where I'd put the bullet was about all that kept me awake on the way over. In case it's escaped your notice, you're not the only one who's tired."

"Yes, it is," Danny contradicted, ignoring what might have been a half-assed apology. "I always leave it there. Always. Not because you might need to get your hands on me, but in case Grace needs me."

"If my hands were on you right now --" Steve shook his head, took out his phone, and stabbed at it a few times with a stiff finger. Jesus, even his fingers looked mad.

"You calling me or the pizza place?" Danny inquired, buttoning his shirt. He'd peeled it off over his head with most of the buttons still fastened so it didn't take long. Tie, tie, where was his fucking tie? He glanced around but failed to spot it draped over something or curled limply on the floor. "It's me, right?"

"Yep." Steve held the phone out so that Danny could hear it ringing. "Do you hear your phone, asshole? No, because it's not in here."

"Huh." Danny frowned and then snapped his fingers, failing to make a crisp click, but getting the message over. "Shit, it was in my jacket and the car was hot, so I took it off and yeah, I guess it's still in there."

Steve's eyes widened. "You did what? Shit, Danny, you just can't do that. Something comes up and I --"

"I get it, okay," Danny said and held out his hand. "Save the lecture, because I know it by heart and it won't happen again. Haul me up, huh?" He really felt incapable of standing under his own power. This was like the days when Grace was a baby and teething. Sleep in snatched moments, her fretful cry rousing him again and again. Rachel had breast-fed, so there wasn't much that he could do if Grace was hungry, but he'd tried to help out with diaper changes and such.

Steve stuck out his lower lip, but not his hand, looking like a pouting baby, as Danny promptly told him. The jolt of annoyance that went through him when Steve crossed his arms was better than espresso. He stood up by himself and was rewarded by a glint of blue half-hidden behind a cushion on his one comfortable chair.

"Okay, I'll just get my tie and then we can --"

"Are you nuts? A tie? It's three in the morning. You don't need a fucking tie."

Danny walked toward his tie, head down and focused, shouldering Steve out of his way. "This is work? This thing you woke me up for? Yes?"

"Yeah, it's work, of course it's fucking work, but --"

"Then I'm wearing my tie."

He'd just gotten to the point where his collar was flipped up and the tie was hanging around his neck when Steve grabbed one end of it and snatched it away. The friction burn was minimal but the outrage he felt was white-hot. "Hey! Give me that back."

"You want it?" Steve challenged him, the strip of faux-silk dangling from his hand. "Come get it, you irresponsible --"

"What?" Danny paused, his anger draining away because that just wasn't fair and the flash of guilt in Steve's eyes told him that Steve knew it "Buddy, I don't know what's eating you but calm down, okay? If we're in that much of a rush, I'll put it on in the car."

"Wrap it round your dick in a bow for all I care," Steve snapped and turned on his heel after tossing the tie at Danny in a hastily formed ball that unspooled mid-flight and fell short of Danny's automatically outstretched hand.

Danny exhaled, bent to pick it up, and shoved it into the pocket of his pants. He was halfway to the car when he realized he'd forgotten his shoes, too busy trying to untangle what had Steve snarled up in a bad temper that went way past unprofessional and into territory that reminded Danny of his marriage, in the bad days. Making Steve wait another forty seconds while he went back for them earned him a glare that would've melted paint.

On the drive, one phrase kept replaying in his head. Balls deep in someone getting your rocks off.

Danny's dick hadn't been in anything but his own hand for so long that he wasn't sure that he remembered what it felt like being naked and sweaty with another warm body. Nice, yeah, but the details were escaping him. He cleared his throat.

"So, were you pissed because you were tired and this case is busting our asses or because you thought I wasn't picking up because I was in bed with someone?"

He should've waited until they were stationary to open his mouth, but silent forbearance really wasn't his strong point. Steve snarled something that he'd better never say when Grace could hear him or Danny would wash his goddamn mouth out with soap, and started to drive really fast on a narrow, dark road.

"I can't take his statement if I'm smeared across the windshield," Danny said levelly. "Slow down, will you? And I'll take that as a yes."

"I didn't think --" Steve broke off and eased back on the gas, bringing his speed from insane to reckless and then to reasonably fast. "Okay, maybe I did. I wondered, anyway."

"Setting aside the fact that I don't have time to flirt with anyone --" Anyone who isn't you, he added silently. "-- let alone fuck them, that's a problem why?" Danny asked, carefully, calmly, ignoring the twist in his gut that told him this was it, this was when he put up or shut up.

Weeks of noticing how Steve acted around him, longer weeks working out what it meant, his eventual epiphany coming when Grace had complained about a boy at school who kept chasing her around the yard, only backing off when Grace stopped running…no more time to think about what he wanted to do when he confronted Steve and ended the chase.

"You know why. I need you to be available --"

"Bullshit," Danny said, surprised at how steady his voice was. Really, this wasn't so bad. He felt the euphoria of inebriation without having drunk anything stronger than cop-brewed coffee, a reckless bravery. He might end up out of a job by the time this discussion was over, but at least he'd be able to sleep if he was fired. And Steve wouldn't be his boss and technically off-limits. Silver linings everywhere. "You just want me available for your dick."

Steve braking hard was almost as scary as Steve going too fast around a sharp bend. Danny felt his seat belt dig into his chest, and clawed at it as it tightened. "Shit! Warn me when you do that, won't you?"

Steve steered the car off the road and into the parking lot for a lookout point over the ocean. Danny would've liked to have been able to believe that Steve had known it was there when he braked, but he didn't think that was the case. Gravel pinged and crunched against the tires and bodywork, as the car came to a halt, but when Steve turned the engine off, the quiet that rushed in was louder still.

"You didn't mean that," Steve said, his voice soft, weary. "I can write it off to you being tired and me being an asshole if you like. Just wipe it out."

"I meant it," Danny said and took off his seat belt so that he could both breathe and turn to face Steve who mirrored his actions. "You're hot for me, God knows why when you could have just about anyone on the island, but you are. I'm tired of waiting for you to make a move so that we can deal with it -- no, cancel that, you can wait as long as you like, but you don't take it out on me, we clear on that? You've been building up to this and I guess it's good it happened without an audience, but --"

Steve's mouth on his was nothing like he'd expected it to be. Clumsy, hot, the kiss bruising his lips, Steve shaking as he pressed in closer for one crowded moment, then easing back when Danny didn't respond.

"Fuck," Steve said quietly. "That wasn't what you wanted, was it?"

Danny touched his wet lips, tingling, burning. "Not right at this moment in time, no. I'm tired -- shit, they need another word for it, because I left exhausted somewhere around Wednesday -- and I'm still fighting the urge to punch you. I happen to think you need punching now and then, just to keep you on track. Maybe I should do it more often. Once a week."

"Can't say that I blame you." Steve tilted his head, offering his face up for Danny's fist. "I'm sorry. Go ahead, you're entitled. Or we'll get out of the car and you can do it properly."

Danny smiled, a brief twitch of his lips, no more. "Get out so I can pound on you for kissing me? God, you're such a chivalrous dick, you know that? I don't have the energy. There's a scum-sucking drug dealer waiting to be interrogated."

"So take a rain check."

"How about I do that," Danny said, nodding. "Just not on the punch, okay, because I never said I wanted to hit you for kissing me, just for waking me up and being all in my face. I'm not a morning person."

Steve was staring at him, intense enough that Danny felt naked enough to shiver. "We need to go."

"Yeah, yeah we do," Danny agreed.

Neither of them moved. Danny wet his lips, trying not to think about Steve's mouth on them because this situation was weird enough already without him getting hard. Harder. "Uh…you're the driver."

"No," Steve said. "You are. Tell me where to go because I'm lost here."

Danny sighed and twisted around, lying back in his seat and staring up at the roof of the car. They clearly weren't going anywhere until they'd thrashed this out.

"You want to know why I'm not freaking? You know why. I'm…interested. Yeah. More than interested. It's just not a good idea. I'm supposed to watch your back, not your ass. Be willing to take a bullet for you but not go to pieces if you're the one getting hurt, because it comes with the job, right?"

"You want to quit the team?" There was enough shock in Steve's voice that Danny's throat closed up.

He swallowed. "Where did you get that? When did I ever -- No. We work well together, all of us. I just don't want to spoil that, change things. We could do this, we could take it where it's been going since day fucking one, and it'd be good, I'm guessing, but would it be good enough to make it worth it if things went wrong?"

He turned his head. Steve was staring out at the darkness, his face set like stone. Hurt. Pissed-off, whatever. Danny wanted to reach out and make him soften up, put a smile on that face, but he knew if he put his hands on Steve right now, they'd be driving without brakes, no way to stop.

After a long moment, Steve nodded, a stiff jerk of his head. "Okay. Got it. Personally, I think it's too late. I feel -- the way I -- it's not something I can turn off. Not having sex with you will just mean I'm distracted and horny and I don't think I am anyway. Distracted, I mean. When it's work, it's work. I'm too busy to think about you as anything but my partner. You're important, sure, but so are Chin and Kono. This thing -- it'd be for the rest of the time, not then. You can't tell me I let it affect the way I work." He sounded genuinely offended beneath a gloss of worry and Danny had to give him points for the way he put the job first. It was reassuring in a way.

They moved, shifting to face each other. Danny opened his mouth to say something, anything, agreement, argument, he wasn't sure which, and closed it again. Steve blinked. "You're not wearing your tie."

"You seemed to hate it," Danny reminded him. Good, this was good. They were edging back to normal and shit, why hadn't he kissed Steve back? One kiss, one lousy kiss. Even Sleeping Beauty had gotten one. Great. His clock got more romance than he did.

A tug at his pocket and he felt the tie slip free. "If you toss that out of the window, you're buying me a new one."

Steve shook his head and dropped the tie into his lap. "Let me?"

Unresisting, a wave of heat washing over him, liquid, bone-melting, Danny let Steve flip up his collar, slide the tie into place and knot it. It took an endless minute to complete the action, a minute of Steve close enough that Danny could feel his breath on his face, Steve's hands brushing his neck, smoothing over his chest. He was breathing in short, choppy gasps that he tried to keep quiet and under control, his heart beating strongly, a lub-dub as rhythmic as the waves below.

"How's that?" Steve murmured, giving the perfect knot one last tweak.

It was too tight, but that wasn't why Danny reached up to wrap his fingers around the fabric Steve had just been touching. "You were never going to let my answer be 'no', were you?" he said, arousal and temper making his voice shake. "Jesus, come here, you manipulative --"

The kiss was better this time, with both of them working at it. Tongues were involved and a whole lot of spit. Danny heard some whimpers that he hoped were Steve's and took a taste of Steve's throat, where the skin was smooth and hot, before the insistent beep of Steve's cell phone broke them apart.

Steve looked dazed, but he snapped out of it fast. "Chin? Yeah, I found him. We'll be there in ten. Keep Julius sweet and don't let Kono near him. She scares him, can't imagine why he finds her cleaning her gun and glaring at him a problem, and we don't need him spooked, just chatty."

Steve ended the call abruptly, as if he'd used up his ability to speak in that rush of chat and put his hands on the wheel, his fingers curling tightly as if it were the only way to stop him from making another grab for Danny. That was good, but Danny couldn't help wishing they were both a lot less conscientious. Ten minutes to get there didn't leave any time for finishing this off even if a few kisses had brought his dick up hard and full. Steve's hand on it, or, Jesus, the wet heat of his mouth, and Danny would blow like one of the volcanoes on the island, but it might get messy.

"We deal with Julius, then I'm driving you back to my place, okay?" Steve said.

"To have your wicked way with me," Danny said, nodding. It wasn't a question and it'd better be a promise. Steve hadn't gotten rid of all Danny's doubts, but he'd swept enough of them aside that Danny was ready to take a chance. Maybe they could make this work. Maybe if they didn't, the strain would screw things up anyway, so why not go for the fun while they could? "Yeah. Okay. Sure."

"To sleep," Steve said, rolling his eyes as if he hadn't hand his hand on the back of Danny's neck a minute ago, brushing his thumb up and down the strip of skin under Danny's ear until he was shivering with lust. "We can talk this through when we're not brain-dead zombies. That's you, mostly. Me, I feel fine."

"We sleep in the same place, we'll end up doing it," Danny said matter-of-factly as Steve started the car and took off. "You know that, I know that, the lizard thing you just narrowly missed squishing knows that. If you really want us to talk, you should drop me back at my place."

"I would," Steve said, and the snap was back in his voice. "But you still don't have your fucking phone, do you? And I need --"

"To be able to reach out and touch me," Danny said and lost his smirk when Steve took a hand off the wheel to smack him in the chest. "Two hands on the wheel, goddamnit! Kill me before we have sex and I'll come back to haunt you."

Steve smiled and relaxed back against his seat, the tension gone from his face. Something told Danny that their talk, whenever it happened, if it even happened, was going to be a short one.


Danny woke between one breath and the next, a flicked-switch change from there to here. Without opening his eyes, he moved his face against the pillow, enjoying the luxury of waking naturally for once. It was an inch too high for his neck, and smelled of a different detergent, but it also smelled like Steve. The fact that he knew that was deeply worrying on some levels, but he was going to put it down to being an awesome detective, aware of the tiniest detail, not a romantic sap. A detective who'd once borrowed one of Steve's T-shirts, warm off his body, and, to date, not given it back. That wasn't sentimental; he'd just not gotten around to washing it yet and frankly, the mud stains were never going to come off, so he was doing Steve a favor keeping it.

He'd drooled on the pillow recently enough for it to be still damp. Okay, that was gross. With the courtesy his host deserved, he raised his head and flipped the pillow over. Better. It would dry and Steve would never know --

"I saw that."

"I deny it," Danny said without opening his eyes. He breathed in deeply and discovered that he's been woken by a smell. "Is that coffee? Give. Please."

"Kona coffee. Finest kind," Steve confirmed. "Eat your heart out, Starbucks."

"Is it my coffee or are you just taunting me with it?" With Steve, it was all about the details when you asked him questions. He was a man who valued precision.

"It's all yours." Steve sounded amused, relaxed even, a full 180 away from the man who'd practically kicked down Danny's door earlier. "Thought I'd wave it under your nose and see if it could raise the dead. Looks like it can."

"They need to make commercials stressing that point." Danny finally opened his eyes and rolled to his back. Steve was -- barely -- wearing a pair of swim shorts, the elastic gone enough that they were hanging precariously low on his hips. Danny eyed them, wondering if they were held up by willpower. From the evidence in front of him, Steve was bare underneath the shorts, but a good detective checked his theories thoroughly. "Room service. Nice. I'll stay here more often."

"Yeah, that'd be fun," Steve said, leaving a steaming mug of coffee just out of reach on the bedside table. "I love sleepovers. Be even better if you were conscious next time."

"You said you wanted me to sleep," Danny reminded him, fighting to keep his yawn from exposing his tonsils. "God, I feel great. Hungry, need to pee, really need to shower to get the stink of Julius spilling his guts all over me, but apart from that, just peachy." He sat up and caught sight of the clock. "Three o'clock? Seriously? You let me sleep the day away? What are you, nuts? This is my day off! I'm wasting it."

"You got to bed at six this morning," Steve reminded him. "You're sleep-deprived and your body clock's out of whack. You passed out."

"Huh." Danny took a gulp of coffee and then slid out of bed. Steve's gaze moved over him like a sunbeam and then paused. Danny looked down at his dick, half-mast, no more. "That's not because of you standing there looking like you're about to crawl back into bed," he informed Steve.

"I know," Steve said. "If it was for me, I'd want it to be bigger."

Danny grabbed a pillow and hurled it at him, even knowing that Steve would duck and catch it. It was the principal of the thing. He made it as far as the door when Steve caught up to him, long, strong arms slipping around him and pulling him back against what was definitely not just morning wood.

"That's for you," Steve said into his ear, punctuating his words with a lick that brought that side of Danny's body out in goose bumps. "Don't keep me waiting to give it to you."

Danny concentrated on an unremarkable picture hung on the wall because he really did need to get rid of a few pints of used coffee. His cock jerked and filled, his mouth watering at the thought of turning and falling to his knees, Steve's hands guiding him down…

"Hold that thought," he said without looking back over his shoulder. "Hell, hold your dick, too, if you want."

Business taken care of in the bathroom, he washed his face and, as an afterthought, filled his cupped palm with enough water to sluice his dick. The beads of water clung to it, tiny, translucent drops against the blood-darkened, taut skin. He breathed out and stared at his reflection. He looked…he wasn't sure. Hopeful? Aroused? Maybe just tired. His hair stuck up, wildly rumpled, and he used his damp palm to smooth it back without much expectation that it would work. Steve wouldn't care. Steve wouldn't be looking at it.

"Don't screw this up," he told himself and watched his reflection grimace, as if calculating the odds of that happening.

Steve was still wearing those goddamn shorts when Danny walked into the bedroom.

"They're indecent," Danny said, flipping his hand at them. "Tell me you don't walk around like that outside?"

Steve looked perplexed, even hurt. Danny wasn't buying. Nuh-huh. The guy had to know what he was doing wearing them. Jesus, they were riding so low that the grooves at his hips were visible, and the edge of hair framing his dick, curling in a wiry cloud. "I should arrest you," he said, walking forward, drawn to Steve. God, how long had it been? And never with someone like this, a friend, a man whose name he knew.  "Incitement to riot or something."

"Want to borrow my cuffs?"

"You planning on running?"

Steve shook his head.

"That's good," Danny said, nodding his head.  He was talking without meaning, most of his attention on the man in front of him. Steve stood still, inked, muscular arms by his side, his chest rising and falling, slow controlled breathing. Fucking SEAL. Danny wanted to watch Steve lose it, not the way he did when he was interrogating someone who wouldn't play ball, not angry and pissed, but with that raw edge showing, sure. Danny could take it. "Jesus, I want you bad."

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