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Title: Semantics
Pairing: Steve/Danny, Steve/Catherine
Fandom: Hawaii Five-0
Rating: G
Word Count: 1,103
Summary: Danny wants to know the difference between a "thing" and a "surf buddy."
Notes: From this prompt from [livejournal.com profile] azziria: Danny wants to know if being surf buddies is the same as having a 'thing'. Thanks for the prompt--it was fascinating to play with!



It's a sad fact of life that a quiet Danny Williams is not necessarily a good thing. Steve knows that people often make that mistake after hearing one of Danny's rants, assuming that quiet would be welcome, but they would be wrong. A ranting Danny is usually a somewhat content Danny, all evidence to the contrary aside. Because Danny likes ranting, and when he's got some minor irritant to rant about it generally means the rest of his life is, by and large, not going too badly.

But a quiet Danny is usually thinking about something that will eventually come out, something important to him that he hasn't gotten fed up enough to voice yet. And with each silence lately, there's a growing chance that it'll be something Steve doesn't want to talk about. His mother. His sister. Him and Catherine.

Him and Danny.

They haven't really talked about that, in particular, and Steve's okay with that. He was almost grateful to their boat jacker yesterday that he'd interrupted the conversation with Danny before that topic could come up. Because there's nothing to talk about. No need to say anything. No need at all.

Most days he actually believes that.

So a silent Danny is bad. A silent Danny in the car not complaining when Steve runs three slightly red lights? That's nuclear fallout bad.

Steve pulls into his driveway, searching for words to break the silence. Experience has taught him that if he chooses the wrong topic, Danny will just get more annoyed. They get out of the car and go inside, the front door banging closed loudly in the surrounding quiet.

As he makes a beeline for the kitchen, Steve can feel Danny right behind him. Steve pulls two beers out of the fridge, popping the tops off with the ridiculous shaka bottle opener Danny had bought and placed in the middle of the fridge as a joke. He hands one beer to Danny and looks at him, waiting.

Danny takes a deep breath, opens his mouth, jaw hanging down for a second before it snaps closed. With a tiny shake of his head, he turns on his heel and walks out of the kitchen.

Steve follows, watching from just inside the living room as Danny stops in front of the coffee table. "Catherine get off to sea okay?" Danny asks, the words sudden and clipped.

Steve nods, not sure where this is going. "She left this morning. A week of drills."

"A week." Danny nods, but his tone is anything but agreeable. "And then she's back?"

"Danny--"

"Because I was just wondering," Danny interrupts, "where does a thing rank against surf buddies?"

Shit. "Danny--"
"No, seriously, Steven, I want to know. Is it on the same level?" Danny asks, holding both hands in the air, palms facing down, fingertips of each hand pointing at the other at the same height. "Or is maybe a thing higher on the scale because it's more common?" He lifts his left hand higher, then drops it down for his next comment. "Or is surf buddies higher because it has more words? I'm not sure how these terms are defined in the McGarrett dictionary, so I'm going to need a little clarity here."

He drops his hands and looks at Steve, waiting, but fuck if Steve knows what to say. No, that's not true. He knows what Danny wants to hear. But he can't say it. Not yet. "Danny, I...what do you want me to say?"

It's a total cop out, and Danny's withering look is all it takes to call him on it. "Really, Steve?" He sighs, eyeing Steve for a few seconds before shaking his head. "You know, I'm starting to understand why Rachel hated me so much at the end." He shakes his head again and puts his beer on the table. "Call me if you get your head out of your ass," he adds as he spins round and stalks out of the house, the front door slamming behind him.

Steve sits down carefully on the couch, listening as the Camaro revs to life and squeals its way out of the driveway. He puts his beer on the table next to Danny's, and drops his head into his hands, his elbows digging painfully into his kneecaps.

He's seen this coming since Danny's 'girlfriend' inquisition on the boat yesterday. No, a lot longer, if he's honest. Irony of all ironies that the only one who seems to be able to handle a casual, no-strings, no-relationship relationship is the girl. So much for girls being the clingy ones.

Danny's not the casual type. Steve knew it going in, but he couldn't stop himself. And Danny never asked, never demanded anything. Didn't mean Steve wasn't aware Danny would want it. He just chose to ignore it to get what he wanted instead.

Apparently this is the price.

Cath still hasn't asked. And she won't, he knows that. She's married to the Navy, far more than Steve ever was. It's why they've always worked. She's safe. She's never going to ask for more than he wants to give and she's never going to hurt him, because he's not in love with her.

Danny will ask. Has, just now, just not in so many words. Yet. And Danny hurt him more by walking out two minutes ago than Cath did this morning by leaving for a week with just a peck on his cheek.

He knows what Danny wants. He knows the exact words he'd need to say on the phone. He could pick the phone up right now, call Danny's number, and have Danny back here in under five minutes.

The thought of Danny back here where he belongs warms his heart almost as much as the thought of saying the words freezes it.

It's not that he has a problem giving Cath up. She'll find someone else, they'll still be friends, and very little will change. He knows that, too.

But if he gives her up, he's got nowhere else to hide. With Cath, he's still Steve. Still a separate entity, and no one else can destroy him.

If he chooses only Danny, it'll consume him. He barely knows how to separate himself now. With nowhere left to hide, he'll disappear completely, and if Danny leaves, Steve won't know how to recover.

But Danny's already left. And judging by the empty hole where he knows his heart's supposed to be beating warmly along, Steve thinks it may be too late for him to hide anywhere.

He pulls out his phone and dials.

---
END

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November 2012

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