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Danny looked around the Five-O office. May had hung a banner reading “Welcome back, Danny” on one wall, and the table in the center of the office was laden with food. Standing around it were Five-O, Che Fong and his lab crew, Lt. Kealoha and Gerald Claybairn from HPD, and even the Governor. Danny was happy to be back at work and able to eat real food again, and, even more, was looking forward to that night. Steve had asked him out to dinner, as an actual date.
McGarrett came in from his office and called for everyone’s attention. “Since it looks like the entire Danny Williams fan club is here, and this time also Danny himself,” he said, with a pointed glance at Kono, who looked abashed, “this is a good time to announce that Danny is returning to his duties at Five-O as my partner and second-in-command.” There was general applause and calls of “Danny! Speech!”
Danny said, “First, I’m gratified to know that there’s a ‘Danny Williams Fan Club’” he said, giving Steve a smile. “I want to thank all of you for your support. I hope you haven’t been giving Steve too hard a time, since I also want to thank Steve, for saving my life the other day...and...and for giving me a second chance.” Danny found himself suddenly emotional, and took refuge in drinking from his paper cup of juice.
He accepted congratulations on his recovery from everyone, and hugs from May and Kono. “What did Steve mean by ‘and this time also Danny himself’?” Danny asked him.
“I have no idea, bruddah,” Kono said with an innocent look.
“Sure, sure. Thanks, Kono.” Danny clapped him on the shoulder.
Fortunately, no one seemed to be asking exactly what had happened to cause Danny’s reassignment in the first place. The general assumption seemed to be that he and Steve had argued about something.
Chin Ho said, “Welcome back, Danny.”
“Be good to Steve. This wasn’t easy for him, either. I’m afraid everyone gave him a hard time.”
“The ‘Danny Williams Fan Club’?”
“Yes. It got pretty tense around here. But then when you got shot...Steve can be a hothead sometimes, but I’ve never seen him like that. If it weren’t for Lt. Kealoha holding him back, he would have just run straight down the hall into that gunfire to try and rescue you.”
Claybairn told him, “Danny, I’m so happy for you. But I’ll miss you. You were the best partner I’ve ever had.”
“Hang in there, Claybairn. And stay in touch. I look forward to working with you at our crime scenes,” Danny said.
“Lt. Kealoha,” Danny said. “Thank you for helping get me out of that room. And I hear from Chin that you stopped Steve from getting shot on my behalf, so thanks for that, too.”
“He was really upset. I guess he felt guilty about reassigning you. It must be nice to have a boss who cares so much.”
“Yeah,” Danny said with a secret smile.
The governor came to shake Danny’s hand. “I’m so glad to see you back,” he said. “I told Steve it would be a huge loss to Five-O if he gave up someone who had acquitted himself as well as second-in- command as you have.”
“I appreciate that, Governor,” Danny told him. Poor Steve. He was just trying to do the right thing, and he couldn’t explain it to anyone, even me, Danny thought. He drifted over to where Steve was, oddly enough, talking to Claybairn.
Claybairn was saying, “Danny and I worked the fourth robbery, and I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but while I was in the hospital I was wondering...no one ever found any leads to the getaway car, did they?”
“No. No one saw anything at any of the scenes.”
“So, I was thinking, maybe no one saw them leave in a car because they didn’t have a car, maybe they didn’t even leave!” Claybairn said excitedly. “Danny showed me the reports on the other robberies, and everyone said the robbers were shorter than average.”
“Yes, we wondered if they could be women under those masks,” Danny said, joining the conversation.
“But what if they aren’t women, what if they’re boys?” Claybairn said. “With bicycles, not cars!”
“Steve, he may be onto something!” Danny said. “At that scene, there were a couple of boys on bikes. I talked to one, maybe 14 or 15, he said he hadn’t seen anything. I thought it was a bit late for kids to be out on a school night, but, you know, busy parents...but where would kids get guns? And those service stations were pretty far apart for a bicycle ride.”
McGarrett said, “They could have been toy guns—none of the attendants knew anything much about firearms. But the distance...what if they’re working with an adult? He could have dropped them off from a van some distance away. This could be it. Danny, do you have the name and address of that kid you talked to?”
“Yeah, in my office.” Danny went to get his notebook.
When he returned, McGarrett looked around at the party and said, “I’m sorry, Danny,” with a rueful smile.
“It’s OK, Steve.” Danny smiled.
McGarrett announced, “I’m sorry, everyone, but I have to borrow
the guest of honor. Please stay and enjoy yourselves. Danno, Claybairn,
you’re with me.” They left amid an indignant outcry.
The address they pulled up to in the late afternoon light was a small, run-down two-story apartment building. McGarrett knocked.
“Mrs. Kanapali?” he asked the thin, tired-looking woman in a flowered dress who answered the door.
“McGarrett, Five-O. We’d like to ask your son Henry a few questions.”
Unexpectedly, she burst into tears. “He’s a good kid! He’s only 14, he didn’t want to do it, but he was scared! Last night he told me was happening, he wanted to stop, but the man threatened him!”
“Where is Henry now?” McGarrett asked gently.
“He went off with that man, that ice cream man. I couldn’t stop him!”
“Ice cream man?”
“He drives an ice cream truck around the neighborhood. Henry said he asked him and his friend Doug if they wanted to make some easy money, that it would be fun, like cops and robbers on TV.”
“Mrs. Kanapali, did Henry say where they were going tonight?” McGarrett asked.
“No. The man doesn’t tell them. But it can’t be too far, since he said he’d be home by seven.”
“Can you describe the truck?”
Back in the car McGarrett called central dispatch and put out an APB for the ice cream truck, warning that there were minors inside.
“Let’s take a drive around the service stations in the area,” McGarrett said. They cruised through the city streets in the big, black car, looking out for the truck, until they heard a report on the radio that it had been sighted. They screeched towards the scene, siren blaring. When they reached the pursuit, McGarrett angled his car across the road, trapping the truck between it and the oncoming blue-and-whites. He and Danny jumped out, pointing their guns at the driver and approaching the truck.
McGarrett pulled the driver out, ordering Claybairn around to the back to look for the kids. “Book him, Danno!” McGarrett snapped.
Nice to hear that again, Danny thought.
Claybairn reappeared with Henry Kanapali and another boy of the same age, just as a car pulled up and Chin and Kono got out.
“Detective Claybairn, I leave all this to you,” McGarrett said. “It’s thanks to your observations that we cracked the case.”
“Way to go, Gerald!” Danny congratulated him.
“Chin, can you and Kono handle the Five-O end of things?” Steve asked him quietly, looking at his watch.
“Sure, Steve. You and Danny enjoy your dinner,” Chin told him.
“How do you do it?” Steve asked.
“Twenty years a detective, Boss!”
“Come on, Danny, if we step on it we can still make our
reservation,” Steve said.
In the car on the way to Waikiki Steve glanced over at Danny. He
looks a bit self-conscious. I suppose it is our first date. In honor of the
party Steve had put on his good navy blue suit. Danny was wearing a
slightly shiny brown with a subtle pinstripe. It suits him, Steve thought.
Danny glanced up, and Steve quickly looked away. This is silly. How
many times have we ridden together in this car? For that matter, how
many meals have we shared? But it’s not the same this time.
They were in Duke’s Canoe Club, seated at a table overlooking the beach, with the gentle surge of the ocean providing a pleasant background rhythm. Casting around for a topic of conversation, Steve said, “Your partner...ex-partner,” with a smile, “Detective Claybairn certainly came through. Maybe you rubbed off on him.”
“He’s a good detective. He just needs more confidence in himself. And possibly some more gun safety training.”
“He seemed to have plenty of confidence when he came up to me in the hospital and chewed me out for not appreciating you,” Steve said ruefully. “A lot of nerve coming from someone who got you shot.”
“It wasn’t his fault. It could have happened to anyone,” Danny said.
Steve raised his eyebrows.
“Well, it was probably more likely to happen to him. But he truly is a good detective. Steve...everyone really gave you a hard time about reassigning me, didn’t they?”
“You don’t know the half of it.”
“I’m sorry. It wasn’t your fault. You were just trying to do what was best for Five-O.”
“Yes. I tried to do the right thing, and it got you shot.” Steve speared a bite of fish and looked down at his plate. “And there was something Chin said...that maybe what was best for Five-O could also be what made people happy. That it would be worse for Five-O to lose you.”
“How did Chin know?” Danny asked. “I never knew....”
“He just says that after more than twenty years as a detective, he’s good at observing how people behave, and he can’t stop even when the people are his friends.”
The waitress came to clear their plates. “Excuse me, but you’re Danny Williams, aren’t you? And you’re Steve McGarrett?”
“Guilty as charged,” Danny answered with a smile.
“I thought so! I saw your pictures in the newspaper. You’re heroes!”
“No, really....” Danny denied.
“Dessert is on me tonight,” she said, distributing a flirtatious glance impartially on the two of them.
Danny looked over at Steve and shrugged.
It’s hard to believe Danny isn’t interested in women, he charms them so effortlessly. I suppose it’s those innocent blue eyes. I mean, I always assumed...but I guess I never saw him with a steady girlfriend, except for the whirlwind thing with that poor girl who got killed, Steve thought.
“I should warn you, Danny, I’m the jealous type,” Steve said quietly, leaning across the table with a smile.
“She was looking at you. Besides, she’s not my type,” Danny assured him, smiling back.
“And what is your type?” Steve blinked flirtatiously at him.
“About six-two, dark hair, deep blue eyes....” he turned the innocent look on Steve.
The waitress interrupted with ice cream.
The check arrived. Danny reached for it, but Steve said, “No, I asked you out, it’s on me. And we’re celebrating your recovery.”
They walked out into the warm night. “Care to take a walk down the beach?” Steve asked.
“Sure, why not.”
They strolled along the water line, watching the waves break under the light of a half moon.
“So, Danny, what do like to do on your days off?”
“Besides catching up on the housework, I go surfing with Kono sometimes...I’m not very good, though. Or kayaking, snorkeling...I guess I just like the water. Sometimes I catch a ball game or a movie. What about you, Steve?”
“Sailing, horseback riding...not that I get around to doing anything like that very often these days. The occasional game of golf with the governor....”
“I golfed when I was at UH, but I haven’t kept up with it.”
“Maybe you should take it up again. Golf, fishing, bowling, and watching sports are the things two guys can do together without anyone wondering,” Steve said drily.
“I hadn’t thought of that,” Danny admitted.
“I’m afraid that being with another man, the best you can have is a sort of half-life. Most of your friends don’t know you’re a couple. Vacations, travel, even dinner out you have to be careful not to do too often. No holding hands on the beach. No kiss goodbye at the airport. Always being on your guard. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether it’s worth it,” Steve said seriously, stopping to look at Danny. “The last thing I want to do is scare you away, but I want you to go into this thing with your eyes open.”
”It’s better than the alternative. Going out with women because you feel you’re supposed to...poor Jane, I guess I jumped at the chance to marry someone I liked, at least. I...I hoped that would be enough, but now I don’t think it would have been. She deserved better.” Danny looked down at his feet.
“What happened to her wasn’t your fault, Danny,” Steve said gently, putting his hand on Danny’s shoulder.
“So, is that alright, then?” Danny asked, looking at Steve’s hand.
Steve dropped his hand.
“Steve...I didn’t mean....”
“No, you’re right. We should have...ground rules.”
“We don’t do anything that would look...unusual...unless we’re in my place or yours with the curtains closed. No talking about anything we wouldn’t want overheard at the office—no telling if May ever listens in. We have to be careful what we do together in our time off. As we saw tonight, we’re recognizable to the public.”
“It sounds complicated.”
“Yeah. Is it worth it to you?” Steve asked, looking squarely at Danny, eyebrow raised and jaw slightly outthrust.
“Yes.” Danny said simply, looking squarely back.
God, I wish I could kiss him right now. I guess I should listen to
my own lecture, Steve thought ruefully. “Shall we head back?” he asked.
Steve pulled his car into a space in front of Danny’s building.
“Want to come up for some coffee?” Danny asked.
Danny made coffee in the kitchen while Steve read the spines of the books in his living room.
“Here. I’m afraid it’s instant, but the milk is fresh.”
“Thanks, Danny. Greek Lit, huh?”
“Yeah...I thought of minoring in it, but I figured psych was more useful to a cop.”
“I don’t know if I’d say that...lots of examples of human behavior in these stories.” Lots of men who love other men, too...did he ever think about that, or was it subconscious?
Steve finished his coffee and stood up.
“Thank you for dinner,” Danny said, also standing. “I had a really good time.”
They stood together in front of the door. Danny looked up at Steve. “Kiss me goodnight?” he said lightly, but with a vulnerable look in his eyes.
Steve put his hands on Danny’s shoulders, then leaned down and kissed him gently. He straightened, looking down. Seeing that Danny wasn’t pulling back, he leaned down and kissed him again. He felt Danny open his mouth under his and slipped his tongue in to meet Danny’s. Danny’s arms went around his neck, and Steve moved his hands down to pull him close, kissing him with increasing passion. Cool it, Steve, you told him you’d ‘go slow’, Steve thought, fighting for control.
He stepped back. Danny was looking up him with parted lips and a slightly dazed expression that made Steve want to kiss him again, and much more.
“Steve....” Danny began, stopped to clear his throat, then continued, “Steve, if we don’t have a case come up tomorrow, and you don’t have any other plans...perhaps we could...go fishing?”
“Sounds like fun.” Steve smiled. “I’ll call you in the morning.”
He couldn’t resist giving Danny one last quick kiss on the mouth, then
Danny stood leaning against the door after Steve had left. Wow. Kissing someone has never felt so...amazing...before. It was a bit weird at first, kissing a man. The smell of cologne and Steve instead of perfume, the feeling of his crisp shirt collar and short hair under my hands instead of a woman’s soft neck...but the strength of his arms, and the feeling of his mouth on mine were just...wow. I wonder if he enjoyed it as much as I did? It seemed like it, but then he stopped...I guess he said we’d go slow, but...I don’t know if I want to.
The stuff Steve said on the beach...I suppose I never really thought deeply about what it meant to love Steve, since I figured it was a hopeless fantasy. That it meant I was in love with a man. That I was...a homosexual. That decent people would be horrified if they knew. It was easier for the Greeks, he thought. I wonder if that’s why I like Greek literature? My subconscious trying to tell me something? I always knew none of the women I met did it for me, but I never made that final logical step until I met Steve. Is love enough against all the obstacles? Well, it had better be, because having found it, I can’t bear to give it up.
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