Disclaimer: I don't own Hawaii (the show, although I don't own the state either), nor do I make claim to any of the characters/settings/storylines from the show. This is a non-profit fan work that is not intended to infringe on any copyright. Please don't copy, post, distribute, or sue without the express permission of the author.

Rated: NC-17 for sex and language; Chris/Danny slash written for Yuletide 2004.

Process of Illumination
by Katie

Chris eyed his partner across the seat of the truck, biting back a grin at the red eyes and hint of a round bruise just below Danny's collar.  Gulping his coffee like he was drinking water after a long day in the desert, Danny kept his eyes glued on the house they were staking out.  Chris could tell from the way his knee was jiggling that he knew Chris was watching him.  Chris let his grin grow into a smirk.

"Weren't you wearing those clothes yesterday?" he asked as innocently as he could.

Danny grunted around the lid of his coffee cup.

"Did you get any sleep last night at all?  Because we're kind of supposed to be paying attention, and that's a little hard to do if you're falling asleep over there."

"Shut up."

"I hope she was at least worth it, bruddah, 'cause you look like what the cat wouldn't bother to drag in."

Danny's lips curved upwards.  "Believe me, she was."

Chris crushed an irrational flicker of jealousy and reached over to steal Danny's cup.

"Hey!  I need that."

"Should've brought me one, too, then."  Draining the cup, Chris handed it back with a sweet smile.  "Besides, too much caffeine makes you jittery."

"There's no such thing as too much caffeine.  How am I supposed to stay awake now?"

Chris shrugged.  "If you'd gone to bed at a decent hour like I did--"

"I'd just prove I had no life."  Danny's smile was sweeter than Chris's.  "Like someone I know and might just be sharing a truck with.  You need to get out more, Gaines.  Live a little."

"I'm more likely to live if I don't fall asleep on the job."

"That's what I had coffee for, until you stole it."  Danny frowned, his attention snapping back the street.  "Hey, is that our guy?"

Chris studied the man--in his forties, medium-height with Asian features, walking down the street toward the bungalow-style house they'd been watching--and finally shook his head as the man walked on to the nearly identical house next door.

"That's the neighbor."

Danny slumped back in the seat.  "Great.  We're going to be here all day."

Chris almost asked if he had better plans but stopped.  Knowing Danny, it was possible that he did.  If so, Chris would be happier not knowing about them.  His relationship with Danny was based on partnership and friendship and the occasional buddy-fuck.  There were no expectations of anything more, no grounds for jealousy.  He'd lost count of the number of times he'd told himself that.

"Seriously," Danny continued, "who was the last person you went out with?  Who isn't," he added as Chris was about to answer, "anyone in this truck?"

When he put it that way . . .

"When was Sumaka suppose to get here?"

"He always drops in for a quickie before she has to be at work at noon, and don't change the subject."

Chris sighed.  "You remember Gary?"

"The one with the weapon fetish?  He wanted you to stick your gun--"

"Yeah."  Chris shuddered.  "That one."

Shifting uncomfortably in his seat, Danny grimaced.  "Okay, so I can see why that would put you off your game, but that's one bad experience out of--"

"Before him was Robert," Chris interrupted.  "He was the one that spent an hour telling me how all cops were fascist pigs.  And before him was Kale, who wanted to record everything we did.  I'm still waiting to find out there's porn out there with my body in it."

Danny snorted.  "Imagine explaining that one to Harada."

The thought made Chris's head throb.  

"I'm a whack-job magnet," he said glumly.  "You're the closest I've had to normal sex in over a year, and look at <I>you</I>."


"Look, isn't that Sumaka?"

Fortunately for Chris, this time it was.  Sumaka proved to be surprisingly athletic for a paunchy, middle-aged man.  Ten blocks, four privacy fences, and a yard full of guard dogs later, Sumaka was in custody and Danny seemed to have forgotten about the whole conversation.

Chris hadn't.  Because when Danny had called Chris's love life "short and pathetic," he had been telling the truth.  The only thing more pitiful than his tiny string of lousy relationships was the feeling he had for Danny, which the last modicum of his pride just barely prevented from turning into love.  Sure, Danny was almost what he wanted in a man: someone he could be friends with, someone he could trust with everything except the last slice of double pepperoni and pineapple pizza, someone with no freaky habits as long as Chris didn't count his obsession with his car.  And Danny was undeniably hot.  Sex with him was a mixture of comfortable and heart-stoppingly intense.  Chris had felt one or the other before during sex, but Danny was the first person to give him both.  

The problem was that Danny always had a reason why he couldn't stay until morning.  He didn't sneak off--there had been times when he'd woken Chris up from a dead sleep to say he was going--but he always left.  If that wasn't enough of a tip-off, then the fact that he rarely went out with the same person more than two or three times and the way his eyes got white around the edges whenever the idea of any commitment more permanent than a movie rental came up was a clue Chris couldn't miss.  

Falling in love with someone like that would be masochistic, and Chris prided himself in having some sense of self-preservation.  But, he thought two nights later as he was lying in bed watching Danny pull on his jeans and hunt for his keys, just because he couldn't have what he really wanted didn't mean there weren't other possibilities out there.  Not every single gay man on the island could be a nutcase or a wannabe porn king, and at least one or two of them had to be the type to stick around until morning.  Maybe Danny was right and he just hadn't looked hard enough.

Maybe he should do something about that.

Danny liked a good bust.  The kind where the perp sold the drugs on camera and tripped over a crack in the sidewalk when he tried to run.  The kind where he and Chris were back at the station before noon, filling out their reports and arguing about whose fault it was the perp had been given a chance to run in the first place.

"I told you to go around the side of the gazebo and cut him off," Chris said for the fifth time.

He was squinting at his report, and Danny made a mental note to harass him about needing glasses.

"You said <I>you</I> were going around the gazebo.  I was following him."  Which only made sense; Chris was the faster runner, even though Danny would never admit that to him.  "If you'd stick to the plan--"

Chris rolled his eyes.  "The plan was for you to go around the gazebo.  Which you would have known if you'd listened to me <I>ever</I>."

A loud snort interrupted them as Kaleo stopped by their desks and dropped a folder in front of Danny.  

"You two," he said, shaking his head, "sound just like my parents.  Married more than forty years, and all they do is fuss at each other.  Here's the priors you wanted on that dealer you brought in."

Danny was distracted from his protest that he was a grown man and didn't <I>fuss</I> by the odd look that crossed Chris's face.  Not angry, exactly; more like uncomfortable.  Or sad, and that just didn't make any sense.

"Like I'd marry him," Chris said, the strange expression already replaced by a grin.  "He'd be one of those guys who forgot his wedding anniversary but bought presents for his car."

Danny knew him too well to be fooled.  There was an edge to his voice that said he wasn't entirely joking.  Chris didn't think Danny was worth marrying.  Since Chris was definitely the marrying kind--in fact, Danny suspected that half of the problem Chris had with finding anyone decent to date was that he was always looking for The Perfect Guy, rather than settling for someone to fuck--it was as disturbing as it was ridiculous.  Why wasn't he good enough for Chris?  Granted, they couldn't have been <I>legally</I> married in Hawaii even if Chris had wanted to, and the consequences on the job if they did would be a nightmare.  Even so, it bothered Danny that his partner, his closest friend, the only person he'd had sex with on a regular basis since he'd come to the island, didn't--

He shook his head.  Didn't what?  Love him?  Want to spend the rest of their lives together?  

Since when did Danny want those things?

He didn't.  He wanted to have a good time with as many different people as possible, not settle on one.  And he knew he had Chris's friendship and loyalty; what more could he need?  Danny wasn't even entirely sure he believed anything more existed.  He certainly didn't want it if it did.  And why the hell was he even thinking about this?

"You want to do something tonight?" he asked, ready for a distraction.  "Go shoot some pool or something?"

Chris looked up from his report, frowning slightly.  "I already have plans."

Danny raised an eyebrow.  "You're kidding.  You actually have a date?  A real date?  With a real person?"

He probably deserved the ball of paper Chris threw at him. If not for the comment, then for the sudden, irrational flash of <I>something</I> that made him want Chris to say no, he was going over to some elderly relative's house to fix the plumbing or mow the lawn.  

"My neighbor's cousin just moved over from Maui.  He didn't really know anyone, so--" Chris shrugged.  "We've gone out a few times."

"Why didn't you tell me before?"

Chris shrugged.  "I was kind of waiting to see if he was a member of a terrorist organization or sacrificed small animals or something."  


"So far, he's really normal.  We've had a good time."

"Great," Danny said, not feeling the conviction he tried to put in his voice.  "That's really . . . great."

The murder of Marcus Kennings was only remarkable in that so many different people wanted to kill him.  Between the drug dealer he'd cheated, the ex-wife he'd cheated on, the business partner he was embezzling from, the business rival he'd bamboozled, and the pool guy he was constantly insulting and underpaying, the biggest wonder was that he hadn't been killed sooner.  The fact that his second wife had been killed during the hit as well seemed like a tragic by-product of all the hate directed toward Kennings.

"I say we check on the ex-wife first," Chris said as they were looking over the initial reports.  "This says she was known for threatening to castrate him every time she caught him with another woman."

Danny grinned.  "Maybe she decided to be kind and just put a bullet in his skull instead."

Chris rolled his eyes.  "Yeah, because that's real humane.  It doesn't explain why the new wife is dead, too, though."

"Oh, come on.  Marcus leaves her for a new, pretty, younger wife, and she doesn't hate the other woman?  How likely is that?"

"Maybe she's not the jealous type."

Danny snorted.  "Everyone's the jealous type, Gaines.  Someone else gets what you think is yours, it tends to piss you off.  The only question is, do you get pissed off enough kill?"

"Your faith in human nature never fails to inspire me."  Chris shook his head in mock disgust as he stood up and stretched.  He caught Danny's eyes following the line of his ribs and bit back a smile.  Maybe he'd put aside his thoughts of anything more than friendship with Danny, but it didn't hurt to know Danny still noticed him.  "Who do you want to talk to first?"

Blinking, Danny frowned back down at the folder in front of him.  "How about Kapanui, the dealer?  He's closer.  Then we can swing by the former Mrs. Kennings' house and see if she has any green-eyed monsters in her closet."

It was only about a fifteen-minute drive to the club where Kapanui was known to hang out.  Chris drove, listening with only half his attention to Danny's detailed account of his date the night before.  As far as Chris could tell, it sounded almost identical to the date two nights ago and the two last week and--

"Are you even listening to me?"

Chris jumped, then tried to look attentive.  From Danny's snort, he suspected he hadn't been too successful.


"I asked if you wanted to come over and watch the game tonight.  Got something on your mind, Gaines?"

Chris shrugged.  "Just thinking about the case.  And no, I'm busy tonight."

Danny was quiet long enough that Chris shot him a glance.  He was surprised to find that Danny looked a little disconcerted, like maybe it mattered to him that Chris wasn't coming over.  Maybe there'd been something to the invitation that Chris had missed?  He was almost ready to say never mind, he'd visit Aunt Betty later in the week, but stopped himself just in time.  Watching the game inevitably led to sex, and he didn't want to fall into that trap again.  Not until he was sure he could climb back out without the help of Dr. Phil.

"Got another date with the neighbor's cousin?" Danny asked, just a little too casually for Chris not to notice.

"Nik?"  Chris sighed.  He wished he had.  The three weeks he'd gone out with Nik had been a lot of fun.  "No, apparently he made up with his ex.  First normal guy I've met in <I>years</I>--"


In spite of the comment, Danny sounded happy again, so Chris didn't ask what had disturbed him in the first place.  He'd ferret out the cause later, when they weren't pulling into the parking lot of the place where their suspect hung out.  It wasn't like Danny was any good at keeping things from him anyway.

The club was about two steps up from a dive.  The barroom was small and poorly lit, opening into a hallway at the back.  Tables and chairs dotted the room in a haphazard fashion, and the line of stools near the bar had seen better days.  The room had a faux Western look to it, with country music blaring from the jukebox.  The restrooms on the back wall were labeled 'Stallions' and 'Fillies,' and Chris half-expected the bartender to say, "Howdy, pardners" as they walked in.

Instead, the bartender gave them the flat, unfriendly look of a man who smelled cops and didn't like the odor.  Chris couldn't help but think it had to be better than the stale smoke and beer scent that clogged the air, but the bartender didn't seem to agree.

"Honolulu P.D.  We're looking for a man named Bill Kapanui," Danny said, flashing his badge.  "You know him?"

Chris pulled out the mug shot he'd brought and held it up.  The bartender, a large, bald white guy who probably doubled as the bouncer, barely glanced at it.

"Don't know him."

"You've never seen this man before?" Chris persisted, leaning on the bar with his friendliest grin.  From that angle, he could see back into the room at the back that seemed to be an office.  As far as he could tell, it was empty.  As he looked, he could feel Danny stepping forward, automatically moving to cover him and keep the bartender's attention.  

"Said no," the bartender snapped.  "You deaf?"

At that moment, the 'Stallions' door opened and Bill Kapanui stepped out.  

He was Chris's height but had Danny's build, and Chris would have thought he was pretty hot if not for the reddish tint to his eyes that suggested he sampled his own wares.  Those eyes took in Chris, Danny, and Danny's badge in a second, and then Kapanui bolted down the hallway to his left.

Chris raced after him, knowing Danny would be a few steps behind.  The hall ended in a door labeled with a yellowed 'Keep Delivery Entrance Clear' sticker that was peeling around the edges.  Chris hesitated, pulling his gun as he waited for Danny to catch up.  At Danny's nod, he dove through the door, coming up against the wall on the far side of the alley.  Danny was just behind him, covering him from the protection of the door.  

The alley appeared empty, aside from a large, overflowing trash bin at the near end and some wooden shipping crates stacked in neat piles next to the club's delivery door.  Unless Kapanui had been training for the Olympics, he couldn't have made it to the far end of the alley before Chris and Danny reached the door.  Glancing at Danny, Chris nodded his head toward the end with the trash bin and started toward it.  

If Kapanui had been stupid enough to hide in the bin, he'd know he was trapped and would most likely come out fighting.  Cautiously, Chris moved up to the side of the bin and reached for the lid.


The hand that knotted into his shirt jerked him backward so hard that he almost fell.  He only managed to stay on his feet by crashing against Danny.


Kapanui, switchblade in hand, was coming out from between the bin and the wall, a space so small Chris wouldn't have thought a grown man could have fit.  If Danny hadn't pulled him back, Chris would have had a blade between his ribs while he was still checking the inside of the bin.

"Freeze," Danny snapped, his gun pointed steadily at Kapanui.  His other fist was still pressed against Chris's back.  "Toss that knife over by the wall, asshole, and get on the ground with your hands out to the sides.  Move it!"

Twenty minutes later, they'd gotten Kapanui cuffed, Mirandized, searched, and sent off in a squad car with the five ounces of coke they'd found taped to his stomach and a ton of protests.  Danny had started to lose that sharp, wild glint in his eye that so often led to Chris explaining to Harada why they'd failed to follow regulations <I>again</I>.  It didn't completely fade, however, until Chris bumped Danny's shoulder with his own as they were walking back to the truck.

"Thanks, bruddah," he said, knowing Danny would understand what he meant.

The look Danny shot him was calmer than it had been a few minutes before, tinged now with amusement.  "You're getting slow, man.  Must be getting old."

"Still faster than you," Chris said comfortably as he climbed in the truck.

Starting the engine, he grinned at Danny's indignant response but didn't argue.  It wasn't important, anyway; Chris <I>was</I> faster, but Danny was quicker at spotting danger and yanking them both out of the way.  Who was better at what was irrelevant.  They balanced each other.  That was all that mattered.

And if it made Chris just a little bit sad that he couldn't find that same balance in his personal life, with Danny or anyone else, it was a small enough regret that he could push it aside for a time.  He and Danny had made a good bust and neither of them was hurt.  He had a lot to be grateful for, and he wasn't going to let anything spoil his mood.

Danny had been on the verge of getting paranoid about Chris avoiding him.  It seemed like every time he'd wanted to hang out away from work, Chris always had other plans.  Sure, he had been seeing Nik-the-neighbor's-cousin for a while there.  Even so, it had sort of seemed like he was going out of his way to find reasons why he couldn't do anything with Danny.  When Chris finally agreed to go out the night that they closed the Kennings case, Danny was just a tiny bit relieved.  Not that he'd ever let Chris know.  

They went to Waihale, one of the few bars in Honolulu that was frequented by both gays and straights alike.  It was more of a neighborhood bar than a hook-up spot, but Danny had never had any trouble finding someone--female or male--to go home with when he was in the mood.  When he wasn't, there were pool tables at one end of the room and a small, raised dance floor at the other.  The beer was decent, the music good, and the atmosphere laid back.  Usually Danny had a great time at Waihale.

Except that it seemed like Chris was still avoiding him, he thought sourly as he sat at a table, nursing his beer and watching his partner flirt with a pretty, dark-haired surfer-boy by the pool table.  Fifteen minutes ago, it had been a busty blonde in a tight skirt.  That one hadn't bothered Danny as much; Chris went out with women sometimes but preferred men.  Danny hadn't figured the blonde would take up much of Chris's time, but the surfer-boy was another matter.  That one was Chris's type: tall, dark, and athletic, and he kept making Chris laugh.

Of course, Chris had finished off a mug of beer almost as soon as they'd come in.  Given that Chris couldn't hold his liquor worth shit, the Pope probably could have made him laugh.  Danny normally found that funny.  Not tonight.  He found himself eyeing the hand surfer-boy had put on Chris's arm with intense suspicion.  If surfer-boy thought Chris's obvious buzz meant he was getting an easy fuck tonight, Danny would just have to make him see the light.  In the form of stars, preferably.

Danny took a swallow of his beer, frowning as Chris leaned toward surfer-boy.  He wished he knew what was going on with his partner.  He couldn't think of anything he'd done to piss Chris off lately, but the avoidance thing was getting hard to ignore.  Most of the time, when Danny had a problem in a relationship--one of the few that had lasted more than a few dates--he told Chris about it.  Chris was better with people than Danny when it came to personal relationships; he seemed to get things instinctively that Danny had to be whacked over the head with a two-by-four to catch.  He'd tell Danny, "Apologize," or "Dump her, she's psycho," and somehow it always worked out right when Danny took his advice.

It sucked not being able to talk to him about this.  Danny couldn't quite bring himself to do it, though, because if he were wrong, he'd look like more of an idiot than he was willing to admit to being.  Anyway, he was a grown man.  He didn't need his partner paying attention to him every minute of the day to be happy.

Although a couple of hours one night after work didn't seem like too much to ask . . .

"This seat taken?"

Danny looked up, surprised at the voice.  It belonged to a pretty, dark-haired woman who was already sitting down, a confident smile curving her lips.

"Help yourself," Danny said dryly.

"That your boyfriend over there?" she nodded in Chris's direction.  "The one you've been watching all night?"

He frowned.  He hadn't been watching Chris <I>all</I> night.  "No, he's a friend.  We work together."

"Hmm."  She studied him for a minute.  "In that case, how about you buy me a drink?"

Danny liked confident women, and he liked knowing a woman was interested in him.  This one was both attractive and obviously attracted.  But when he turned his attention from Chris, he did it with a reluctance he couldn't entirely explain.

Chris wasn't sure what he'd done to piss Danny off.  It had started the night they'd gone out to celebrate catching the Kennings' murderer.  He didn't think Danny could be upset about the case itself; they had not only figured out that the killer was the new wife's lover, who'd finally figured out she wasn't leaving her husband for him, but also had managed to snag Kapanui on drug charges and assault of a police officer.  It had been a sweet wrap-up.  Even the captain had been happy.

But if Danny wasn't mad about the case, then the only thing Chris could think was that something had happened that night.  Chris just had no idea what.  He had been a little drunk, but not so much that he couldn't remember what had happened.  He'd played some pool and talked with a few people, and Danny had hooked up with a woman, Amanda or Angela or something Chris couldn't quite recall.  Nothing in those events should have left Danny angry.  Even so, he'd been snapping at Chris for a week and denying anything was wrong every time Chris tried to talk to him about it.  

Chris was about fed up.  If he wasn't dealing with Danny's moodiness, he was trying to cope with his own pointless attraction to his partner.  No matter what he did, how much he tried to convince himself he could find someone better, how hard he <I>looked</I> for someone better, his thoughts always went back to Danny.  Who was mad at him for no reason.  He wasn't sure how his life could suck much more than it did right then.

"Hey, you getting out of the car any time today?"

Jerked from his thoughts, Chris looked around to see that they'd stopped at a convenience store.  They were working swing shift this week; he wasn't entirely awake even though it was mid-afternoon.  He'd said something about getting coffee when they'd first left the station, but he hadn't thought Danny was paying any attention.  He looked over at his partner, hoping to find an easing of the irritation that had lived in Danny's eyes for the past week.  All he saw was the back of Danny's head as Danny turned and walked into the store.

Yep.  The suckitude continued.

Danny loved his job.  Even so, there were certain images he had encountered during the course of his work that he would have given anything to forget--or better yet, never to have seen in the first place.  The first time he saw a dead body.  Every time the dead body was a child's.  The devastation in the eyes of a rape victim turning to hopelessness when he had to say there were no leads, her attacker would most likely never be caught.

The black barrel of a handgun pointed at Chris's head.

They'd just stopped for a cup of coffee.  A fucking cup of coffee, because Chris bitched if he didn't get his caffeine and Danny just wasn't in the mood to listen.  So he'd pulled into the parking lot of a convenience store, they'd gone in, and Danny had paused to read the headline on the newspaper that mentioned the prostitute murder case Harrison and Declan had been working.  Chris had walked back toward the coffee machines next to the refrigerated drinks section.  Neither of them had paid any attention to the absence of anyone behind the register.  Neither of them had seen the two men with black ski masks and guns hiding behind the candy aisle.

Danny didn't realize they were there until they'd already got their hands on Chris.  They'd made Chris kneel, and the taller one had pointed his gun at Chris's head.  Danny hadn't dared to move closer; the one time he'd tried, the second guy had fired off a shot that went right past Chris's head and shattered the glass cover of the donut bin.  

Danny had tried talking.  He'd tried to figure an angle he could fire at that would let him hit both gunmen before one could shoot Chris.  He'd told the cops surrounding the place to stay the hell out, and he'd tried to tell Chris with his eyes that they'd get out of this all right.  Somehow they'd make it, just like they always did.

He'd tried not to see the expression in Chris's eyes, the devastating knowledge that he was going to die and the forgiveness for Danny's failure.  He'd sworn to himself that he wouldn't fail.

And an hour had passed that way, each minute ticking off on the clock hanging at the back of the store.

"You kill a cop, you're not making it out of here alive," Danny said, not for the first time, fighting to keep his voice patient and calm.  Good negotiators didn't piss off the men holding guns to the hostage's head.  "You let him go, though, and the judge'll take that into account.  I'll put in a good word for you, too.  Make sure the judge knows you made the right choice."

"Shut up," the first man said wearily.  "I told you to shut up, didn't I?  I already said we won't let him go till we get a clear path out of here.  I don't want to hear anything till you can give me that."

Danny sighed.  They'd been around and around with this argument.  He hoped like hell the guys outside were coming up with a plan; he was getting nowhere.

"That's not going to happen," he said.  "You know that.  There're too many cops out there.  But I guarantee you, you shoot him and you'll be dead a second later.  You let him go, and you get to walk out of here in one piece.  You stand a chance that the judge will go light on you because you cooperated.  It's a whole lot better deal than dying, isn't it?"

An hour was a long time.  More than long enough to imagine the damage a close-range bullet could do to a fragile human skull, the emptiness of a desk cleaned out and packed away, the silence of a solitary stakeout.  To consider never having his coffee stolen again, never looking at Chris and seeing his own thought mirrored in his partner's eyes.  Never feeling the tease of Chris's tongue over his lips or the softness of the skin on Chris's belly.

Watching his partner die and doing nothing to stop it.

It was insane to think those kinds of thoughts when he was facing two armed men, but Danny couldn't push them out of his mind.  They played through his head like a horror movie as the endless minutes ticked away and the gunmen refused to surrender and Chris looked at him like he expected to die.  He closed his eyes for a second, little more than a blink, then opened them again.

"You know," Danny said conversationally, and this he hadn't said before, "if you hurt him, I'll kill you.  All those cops out there aren't going to be able to protect you.  The only thing that might save you is putting those guns <I>down</I> and letting my partner go.  <I>Now</I>."

Thank God, Chris understood.  He dove forward just as two members of the S.W.A.T. team shot up from the outer aisles.  Danny had seen them reflected in the glass of the refrigerator doors a moment before; he'd had to take the chance that Chris would catch his meaning and the gunmen wouldn't.

The shots from the S.W.A.T. rifles came so close they sounded like one.  Danny was already moving forward, not shooting because Chris was still in his line of fire.  The gunmen went down, Chris started to stagger up, and Danny grabbed him and held his arm tightly.

"You all right?"

Chris grimaced.  "Feet are asleep."

Danny had to laugh, but he didn't let go of Chris's arm even after Chris could balance on his own.

Chris was supposed to be writing his report.  Harada had told him and Danny both to take the rest of that day and the next off, but there had been deaths, so their reports had to be written first.  Chris had said okay, had said he was fine when Danny and Harada and Declan and Linh and half the damn station had asked.

But he wasn't.  Not fine, and not writing the report, because every time he tried to put the events in order, his stomach and his shoulders got tight and he felt the smooth barrel of a gun against his temple.  It had been cool when it first touched him.

If one more person asked him if he was okay, he was going to pull out his own gun.

He typed two words and stopped again, wondering irritably where Danny was.  Running down a file on one of the gunmen, he'd said, but that was fifteen minutes ago.  He should have been back by now.  Chris wanted to leave, and he knew Danny would be pissed if he didn't tell him that he was going, but he couldn't sit here much longer.  He couldn't pretend he was cool with having to wait helplessly while some asshole convenience store robber decided whether he got to live or die.    His impotence still burned, a fire fed by fear and rage.  By knowing every breath could have been his last, knowing he hadn't done or said everything he needed to.  Knowing Danny was going to have to see him die and wouldn't forgive himself for letting it happen, because Danny couldn't watch someone get hurt and not feel responsible for it.  He couldn't just sit here and calmly compose a report about the fucking </I>facts</I> when the emotions were threatening to erupt through his chest.

Hands shaking slightly, he typed a few more words to finish the sentence he was on and then hit 'save'.  It would have to be good enough.  If the captain objected, he'd fix it later.  And if Danny didn't show up in the next two minutes, Chris was leaving without him.  He needed to be somewhere else.  Anywhere else, as long as he didn't have to be thinking about the feel of metal against skin.

Danny's fist plowed into the punching bag again and again, but it was the gunmen he was seeing in front of him.  The skinny, silent one, and the tall one who'd pressed his gun to Chris's head.  In his mind, he hit them, hurt them like they'd wanted to hurt his partner.

It helped, but not enough.

Killing them would have helped, but he wasn't sure even that would have been enough to ease the rage boiling inside him.  He'd had to watch, helpless, while his partner's life was threatened.  Nothing could fix that.  Even knowing Chris was all right didn't calm him, although it did give him enough self-control to keep it together until he could get back to the station and slip off to the locker room.  The old punching bag hanging in the corner had borne the brunt of his anger on more than one occasion.  Better it, he figured, than the captain or worse, his partner--especially now, when Chris was shaky and doing a crap job of hiding it.  Danny had needed to get himself under control so Chris didn't have to be.

Giving the bag one last, vicious punch, Danny looked at his watch and swore softly.  He'd only intended to be down there ten minutes at the most; almost twenty had passed, and Chris was probably crawling out of his skin by now.

Only Chris wasn't, because Chris was gone.

"Where's Gaines?" Danny asked Kaleo after a quick look in the break room and restroom didn't turn up his partner.

Kaleo shrugged.  "Left about five, ten minutes ago.  Looked like he needed some down time, if you ask me."

"Yeah."  Danny frowned, already heading for the door.  "If anyone asks, I'm gone."

"Sure thing, bruddah."

Chris wasn't at his apartment or Danny's boat or the beach he usually went to, any of the five times Danny checked.  He wasn't answering his cell, and no one Danny talked to had seen him that day.  By the time Danny saw his truck parked in the lot beside Waihale, the sun was starting to go down and Danny was seesawing so quickly between anger and worry that he almost couldn't catch his breath.

Inside, the crowd was still sparse.  Danny spotted Chris easily, seated in one of the booths along the far wall with several beer bottles lined in front of him.  Too many bottles, given that Chris couldn't have been there more than a few hours and even a few beers hit him like a sledgehammer.  It was a wonder he hadn't passed out already.

Although, Danny thought as he slid into the booth across from his partner, that point probably wasn't too far off.  Chris's eyes were glazed and heavy, and it took him several moments to notice that Danny was there.

"Hey," Danny said, but not angrily because that emotion had disappeared when he'd seen his partner.  It was replaced with an overwhelming tiredness and an intense need to erase the haunted expression on Chris's face.  "I've been looking for you."

Picking at the label of the bottle in front of him with one finger, Chris frowned at Danny for a minute.  Danny could almost see the thought trying to come together in his mind.

"Been here," he said finally, hints of a slur around the edges of the words, then added with gloomy satisfaction, "gettin' drunk."

Danny grinned in spite of himself.  

"I can tell."  He studied his partner, fighting against the urge to reach across the table and grab his hand.  The need to touch was almost overpowering, but he wasn't sure Chris would welcome it.  Not here, not with an audience.  "How about we go back to your place and finish the job right?"

Chris blinked at him.  "Huh?"

"Let's go home."

"'m not drunk enough yet."

Danny sighed.  "You've got beer at home."

Chris visibly tried to think that through.  After a minute, he gave up.  "'kay."

Thankfully, Chris could still walk.  Sort of.  As long as Danny didn't let go.  They made it as far as the car, and Danny got Chris buckled in.  By the time he got around to the driver's seat, Chris's eyes had finally closed and his breathing had evened out.

Sighing, Danny let his head drop back on the headrest.  He was achingly tired, bereft of the adrenaline that had pumped through him since the first moment he'd seen a gun pointed at his partner's head.  A chill shot through him at the memory.  Shaking it off, he looked over at Chris and sighed again.

"Such an asshole.  Running off like that..."

Finally he gave in to temptation, reaching over to smooth down a lock of black hair, letting his fingers trail down Chris's cheek.  The faint warmth of Chris's breath caressed his skin.  For several minutes, Danny stayed still, watching his partner, feeling him live, knowing he was safe.

Chris slept through the drive home, but the nap seemed to do him good.  Expecting to have to carry him up to his apartment, Danny was surprised when he not only woke up fairly easily, but managed the walk to his front door more or less under his own power, grumbling the whole way.

"...worked fucking <I>hard</I> getting that drunk..."

Danny let out an exasperated breath as he hunted through his keys for the spare to Chris's front door.  "Pretty damn stupid, too.  What were you planning on doing, driving home?"

Chris leaned against the wall, blinking at him owlishly.  "Figured you'd be along after a while."

As he finally got the door open, Danny shook his head.  "If you'd told me where you were going--"

"Didn't know."  

Pushing past him, Chris walked almost steadily into the apartment and through the living room to the kitchen.  Danny followed and found him standing in front of the open refrigerator, already swigging down another bottle of beer.

"Hey."  With a gentle tug on his hip, Danny pulled Chris around to face him.  "What's going on?"

Chris wriggled free, grabbing onto the counter when the movement upset his uncertain balance.  

"Go home," he said, not meeting Danny's eyes as he took another drink.

Like hell.  Even if Chris hadn't obviously needed company right then, Danny still wasn't ready to let him out of sight yet.


"I can still feel it."  Chris reached up, rubbing distractedly at his temple.  "Still there--"

Danny could still see it, too; it made him sick.  His throat was tight, too tight to say anything, but he cupped Chris's face in his hands and pressed his lips against the spot, tracing it with his tongue, tenderly reclaiming the soft skin.  Chris trembled.  Hips arching forward, he tilted his face up to Danny's, and Danny couldn't have resisted the invitation even if he'd wanted to.  

The sourness of beer mingled with a hint of the familiar essence that was Chris.  Danny chased the elusive taste, his tongue teasing at Chris's.  Arms came around him, fingers digging painfully into his back as Chris moaned.  Danny's cock stiffened as he felt Chris thrust against him again and give that little twist that never failed to make Danny need more.

Except this kiss, this touch had a desperate quality to it, and Chris wasn't nearly as hard as he would be sober.  Soft moans vibrated against Danny's mouth as Chris pressed into him as if he were trying to meld together.  His frantic hands, made clumsy by alcohol, ripped at Danny's shirt.  Danny pulled him into the safety of arms that weren't letting him go, accepting his desperation and matching it with short, hard kisses.

"Okay," Danny gasped after a few minutes.  "Not here.  Chris--damn it--"

With a frustrated groan, Chris leaned in again, his eyes dark and slightly unfocused.


"Bed," Danny said firmly.  Fucking on the kitchen floor might occasionally have its appeal, but not tonight.  

He gasped as Chris gave up on his mouth and ran his tongue down Danny's jaw to his collarbone, sucking at that spot near the base of his throat that always made Danny's knees turn to jelly.  Danny whimpered and arched his head back to give Chris better access.  Except he was supposed to be getting them to the bedroom, wasn't he?


"Please.  Danny, please..."

"Okay.  Okay, but in bed, buddy, all right?"  Danny leaned down to capture a quick kiss.  "Come on."

Navigating the apartment with Chris trying to devour him wasn't easy.  Chris's balance was shot, so Danny had to guide them both.  The bruises Danny knew would come from hitting two different door jams and a coffee table were a small price to pay for Chris's soft gasps as he bit and sucked at any part of Danny's skin he could reach.  At last they reached the bedroom, and Danny guided them to the bed.  Pushing Chris down on the blue plaid spread, Danny leaned over him, smiling into his dazed eyes.  Resting one hand on the bed next to his partner's head, Danny teased Chris's lips with his tongue as he worked on the button of his jeans with his free hand.  Groaning, Chris jutted his hips up at Danny's touch, and Danny chuckled.

"Like that, do you?"


Pulling back, Danny trailed his fingers down Chris's ribs--he loved Chris's ribs, the way his skin pulled tight enough to show the outline of bone and muscle when he stretched, the way Chris whimpered whenever he touched them--down to the waistband of his jeans.  A sharp tug freed Chris's hard cock, and Danny pressed a soft kiss to it, smiling faintly as it stiffened.


As he looked up, Danny found himself caught in Chris's gaze.  Passion and alcohol combined had left Chris heavy-eyed and intense, with nothing hidden.  Danny caught his breath.  The fear was gone.  Definitely gone, and replaced by a mixture of need and...


Danny knew Chris, could read his expressions like a book, and he had no trouble recognizing this one.  Nor could he miss his own reaction, the surge of heat that slammed into his cock like a bolt of electricity but eased so gently around the ache that had been lurking in his chest since the convenience store.  Overwhelmed, Danny ducked his head.  He couldn't...he didn't know how to deal with this, hell, with anything that had happened that day.  The only thing he felt sure of was the desire to make it all okay.  To make Chris feel safe and good and comfortable in his own skin again.

Tenderly, he slid his tongue along Chris's cock.  Chris made an inarticulate sound, his hand cupping Danny's head as Danny wrapped his lips around the tip and brushed his tongue over the slit.  Danny's own cock throbbed against his jeans in sympathy, and he couldn't stop himself from flexing his hips to press and rub it against Chris's leg.  

"<I>Danny</I>.  Fuck--"

Danny could have played there for a long time, but from the sound of Chris's voice, he didn't think Chris would last much longer.  With all the beer he'd drunk, it was a wonder he'd gotten this far.  Danny's own cock was tight and full, but not to the point that he was going to come yet.  First he wanted to take care of his partner.

He started to suck, gently and then with more intensity, one hand holding Chris's hips steady while the other went down to cup Chris's balls and hold them the way Chris liked.  Looking up, he could see Chris's eyes shutting as his head arched back.  The hand that wasn't running through Danny's hair was fisted in the bedspread, and the sounds Chris was making sent shivers through Danny's cock.  

"Please...Danny, now, <I>Danny</I>..."

Danny pulled back just in time.  With a low cry, Chris came, his whole body shivering as he collapsed back against the bedspread.  He blinked slowly, his eyes not quite focusing on Danny.


Crawling up the bed, Danny pressed a kiss to his lips.  "Shh.  Go to sleep now.  It's okay."

"...love you..."

Danny kissed him again, slow and gentle, until he felt the subtle relaxation that meant Chris had finally fallen asleep.  He dropped one last, chaste kiss to Chris's temple and pulled back, sighing as he looked at his partner's face.  He knew this man better than anyone on the planet, yet somehow he'd missed the most important thing.

"Don't make things easy, do you?" he whispered, even though he doubted Chris would have woken up if he'd screamed.  He felt odd, though, displaced and vulnerable, and he couldn't bring himself to break the quiet of the room.  

Carefully, he extracted himself from Chris's loose hold and stood.  Stripping his partner took a couple of minutes, but he knew how much Chris hated sleeping in dirty clothes, and it was easier to wash him off and maneuver him under the covers without having to deal with clothing.  

Once Chris was settled, Danny went to the bathroom and turned on the shower.  Glancing at himself in the mirror as he pulled his clothes off, he frowned.  He looked years older than when he'd shaved before work.  It didn't seem possible that that was just a relatively few hours before.  He couldn't remember ever being so tired; if it weren't for the insistent tension in his cock, he would have just dropped down beside Chris and let sleep take him.

Stepping into the shower, he let the warmth of the water trail down his spine for a few minutes, not thinking beyond the sensation of the water and the pressure of his hand around his cock.  It wasn't long before the need to move started growing.  He grabbed Chris's hair conditioner and poured a bit into his hand, leaning up against the wall with one arm and letting the water pound into his back as he slicked his hand down his cock and squeezed just enough.  Fuck, yes, he needed...

His knees nearly buckled a few minutes later as he came.  Gasping, he rested his head against the back of his fist, waiting for the sensation to ease before he tried to move.  God, he was tired.

For a moment, he almost resented Chris for throwing this on him after all they'd already been through.  Danny wasn't the kind of guy people fell in love with.  He wasn't a relationship guy.  He had people he took out a few times, people he fucked or who fucked him a few times, and Chris--

Chris.  The one he kept coming back to, even though he didn't do relationships.  The one he could talk to, the one whose advice he trusted when it came to people, because Danny sucked at people.  Danny had to be hit over the head by a two-by-four before he saw things about people that Chris saw immediately.

Like when they really cared about him and when they were just using him.


There was a strong possibility he was in love with his partner.  And it was just too much to deal with after watching that same partner almost get his brains blown out.  He'd deal with it in the morning.  Maybe it would all be gone by then.

Except, as Danny started cleaning himself off, he wasn't entirely sure he wanted it to be.

Chris was jolted into wakefulness by the extremely unpleasant realization that if he didn't get up immediately, he was going to do permanent damage to his bladder--and probably his mattress.  Thankfully, the bathroom was where he'd left it, and he didn't have to think much at all around his pounding headache in the time it took to take care of his business and stumble back to the bedroom.  Just enough early morning light was coming in the windows for him to see a glass of water on the nightstand by his bed, and some painful squinting revealed that the little white dots were aspirin.  He dropped down to sit on the side of the bed and gulped both the water and pills gratefully, then collapsed back onto his pillow, already drifting back to sleep.

Just on the edge of consciousness, he wondered vaguely at the arm that came around his waist and pulled him close, but the warmth of the body snuggled up against his was too soothing to disturb him.  He sank backward, sighing contentedly, and slept.

By the time Danny woke up enough that he knew he wasn't getting back to sleep, the clock on Chris's side of the bed said it was after ten.  In the morning, he assumed from the light in the room.  Chris was still sleeping peacefully, spooned in front of Danny.  The water and aspirin Danny had left for him had disappeared at some point, so Danny could only hope he wasn't going to wake up with a huge hangover.  Maybe Danny would go get some coffee ready just in case.

Hesitantly, he reached out to smooth Chris's hair back from his forehead, keeping his touch light.  He wasn't ready to face the talk that he knew was coming.  He needed a few more minutes--and hopefully some caffeine--to get his head in the right place.  With a sigh, he untangled himself and got up, stopping for a minute in the kitchen to start the coffee before heading to the bathroom to brush his teeth.

Later, dressed in a pair of Chris's shorts and a T-shirt, he stood out on the balcony and sipped his coffee.  Chris had an incredible view of the mountains, well worth the extra rent he paid for it.  The majesty of the land caught at a man's soul, making him love it even when he never intended to.

Shying away from the thought, Danny took a drink and let the bitterness of the coffee fill his senses.  It was comforting, familiar, his lifeline on stakeout after stakeout.  He flashed on Chris, grinning as he stole Danny's coffee, his mouth lingering on the cup...

A sound at the balcony door shook him from his thoughts.  Turning, he saw the focus of them watching him a bit warily, coffee cup clutched in one hand.

"Hey," Chris said, stepping over to the ledge to stand by Danny.

"Hey.  How's the head?"

Chris shrugged.  "Could be worse."

"Good."  Danny took another sip, trying to think of something safe to say.  It felt weird, wrong, to be this awkward with his own partner.  "Chris--"

"Danny," Chris said at the same time, then stopped and took a deep breath.  "Listen.  Last night...thanks for..."

Danny grinned.  "Just don't start without me next time, asshole."

Chris rolled his eyes.  "Don't take so long with the paperwork, then."

"If you'd told me you were ready to leave--"  Danny stopped.  This wasn't the conversation they needed to have.  "Not the only thing you weren't telling me."

Chris flinched.  "I was drunk--"


"Why not?  You don't want to hear anything else."

The worst part about that was how much he'd thought that was true right up until Chris tried not to say it.  That, and Chris was looking at him with the same expression he'd worn in the convenience store: fatalism, but also a touch of faith.  He didn't expect to get what he wanted from Danny, but he knew Danny wouldn't destroy him entirely.

How could Danny offer him anything less than the same trust?  

"What if I did?" he asked, gripping his cup hard enough that he was probably going to have burns.  Taking a deep breath, he forced himself to set the cup down on the ledge and look Chris straight in the eye.

Chris flinched again.  "Danny--"

It was like the convenience store again.  Chris waiting for the blow; Danny seeing something Chris couldn't and having to gamble that Chris would hear the meaning he couldn't put into words.

"I suck at this," he said, grabbing for Chris's arm when it looked like Chris was going to turn away.  "You know that.  Chris, please..."

Chris froze, and Danny took the chance to step forward and press his lips against Chris's.  It seemed like forever before Chris relaxed and opened his mouth slightly, accepting the kiss.

But when Chris pulled back, he was still frowning.  "So what happens when you wake up in a couple of days and realize it's the left-over adrenaline talking?"

Danny smacked his shoulder.  "Asshole.  First of all, the adrenaline was long gone by the time I hauled your sorry ass back home last night, and second, that's not going to happen."

"How do you know?"

Danny would have smacked him again, but there was a hint of real fear lurking in his eyes that Danny couldn't stand to see.  

"Because I feel the same today as I did two days ago," he said, his voice somehow gentler than he'd intended.  "The only difference is now I've had it shoved in my face so I can't ignore it anymore."

Chris studied him for a moment, dark eyes as serious as Danny had ever seen them.  "You could."

"I don't want to."

"You sure?"

Danny leaned in and gave him an answer he couldn't argue with.  When they finally came up for air, Chris was grinning.

"So," he said, sliding his hand up under Danny's T-shirt.  "Got any weird habits I don't know about?"