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FIC: You take me by the heart when you take me by the fin (Steve/Danny, PG-13)

Title: You take me by the heart when you take me by the fin
Author: tailoredshirt
Recipient: ratherastory
Summary: Danny wakes one night to find that a baby seal has wandered into his apartment. And it doesn't want to leave.
Pairing/characters: Danny, Grace [+Steve/Danny]
Rating: PG-13
Warnings/content: Language. And, as you can probably tell from the title, the whole thing is a little silly.
Word Count: ~6k
A/N: Written for ratherastory for h50_holidayswap. ratherastory, I was writing a completely different fic for you but then sirona_gs linked to this adorable news article about a baby seal who wandered into a woman's home and made itself comfortable on her couch, and suddenly I had to write this fic for you instead. I hope you enjoy it!

Also, I'm not an expert on seals or animal rescues or anything of the kind. I got some help from wikipedia, youtube, and google and made up the rest. I'm certain the protocol for dealing with this situation would be very different in real life, but then I wouldn't have this story! Please forgive any errors.

Thanks very much to shes_gone for reading all of my drafts and helping me brainstorm, and to alba17 for the last minute beta. ♥

You take me by the heart when you take me by the fin
~♥~


Danny thinks he's hallucinating.

It's 3AM and he's standing in his living room, which is a wreck, his SIG in one hand. The rickety end table next to the couch has been overturned, and it must have tipped over the box of Grace's art supplies on the way down because there are beads, markers, and colored papers scattered all over the floor. A couple of couch pillows have been knocked against the coffee table, and there's a baby seal curled up on the couch in a pile of laundry.

A baby seal.

Danny's still staring at it, too shocked to move, when Grace comes out of her bedroom rubbing sleep from her eyes.

"Daddy, what was that noise?" She surveys the living room, squinting against the light Danny'd flipped on, and her eyes widen when they settle on the couch.

Not a hallucination then.

"Don't get too close," he tells her, his paternal instincts cutting through the shock. He puts his arm around her shoulder and pulls her against his side.

They both stare at it for a moment in silence before Grace whispers, "Is that a baby seal?"

It's no more than three, maybe three-and-a-half feet long, about the size of an overgrown wiener dog. Its coat is almost black, a bit mottled on its fins and neck. It squirms to get comfortable, rests its head on Danny's Yankees t-shirt, and closes its eyes. "I think so."

"You're not going to shoot it, are you?" Grace asks, and Danny realizes he's still holding his gun. "Danno, please don't. It's just a baby."

"I'm not--" Danny sighs. "Baby, I'm not going to shoot it." He removes the magazine, which he slips into the pocket of his shorts, and sets the SIG on the dining room table. "But we can't touch it, okay? I know it looks cute, but seals are dangerous."

It doesn't look dangerous at all, sighing in its sleep, but Grace nods solemnly.

"Just stay back over here, okay?" he says, dialing information. "I'm going to call for someone to come pick it up and take it back to the ocean."

"Uncle Steve?"

"No, not Uncle Steve. Uncle Steve went to California to surprise his sister for her birthday." Danny can't decide if he wishes Steve was around for this or not. On one hand, he'd probably know exactly what to do. On the other hand, the last conversation they'd had was awkward as hell and he's not sure how Steve would react if Danny called him in the middle of the night asking for advice on lost baby seals.

Grace watches the seal sleep as Danny is patched through to the SPCA's emergency line.

The guy on the other end of the line - Harry - laughs when Danny tells him about the seal, and it takes Danny sending the guy a photo from Grace's cell phone to convince him that he's not drunk.

"It must have come in through the cat door," says Danny.

Harry warns him to keep his distance and not offer it any food, which sounds really fucking obvious but Danny's seen a grown man try to feed Twizzlers to a tiger at the zoo, so he just agrees not to feed it and gives Harry his address.

"They'll be there in about half an hour," Harry tells him, and someone starts yelling in the background, but it's muted, like it's from a television or radio.

"That the Philadelphia game?" Danny asks.

"Yeah yeah, don't tell me anything," Harry says quickly, and the yelling stops for a moment like he's paused the video. "I'm only halfway through the second quarter."

Danny glances at the clock above the stove. 3:21AM. "Half an hour, you said?"

"Give or take, yeah."

But even the SPCA must be on Island Time because 4AM comes and goes without a word. Grace takes lots of pictures on her cell phone but keeps her distance as instructed. The seal isn't doing anything interesting, just sleeping, but Grace is enthralled. Danny doesn't even bother recommending that she try to go back to bed, and when 4:30 rolls around he gives up and makes a pot of coffee for himself.

"Danno, look, I took a video," Grace says as he walks over with a mug. "She's making funny noises."

As if on cue, the seal snuffles, whiskers twitching, and Grace giggles.

"Isn't she cute?" she asks.

"Adorable," Danny mutters.

It's 5:15 when the animal control guys finally show up in their ridiculous white uniforms. They tell Danny that the seal is a Hawaiian monk seal, an endangered species. It's probably about a week, no more than two weeks old, and still feeding from its mother. It probably wandered off when she went to forage for food.

One of the officers - his name tag reads Hokeo - seems to be in awe of the entire situation and keeps using the word "crazy."

"Man, I would have freaked out," he informs Danny as one of the other officers takes a photo with his phone. "And you live on the third floor."

Danny nods. "That's true, this is the third floor."

"It had to go up two flights of stairs to get here." Hokeo shakes his head. "That's crazy, brah."

The seal had woken up when animal control first knocked on the door, but as soon as they bring in the crate, it panics.

"Whoa!" Hokeo exclaims as it wiggles off of the couch, barking loudly as it tries to get away. Danny scoops up Grace and backs into the kitchen.

"Is she angry?" Grace asks him, her voice hushed. "Because they woke her up?"

"I don't know," says Danny. The seal is on the floor next to the coffee table, glancing around like it's looking for an escape route. When it looks up and sees Danny, it barks again and tries to slither into the kitchen, only to be blocked by one of the officers. Grace clings to Danny tighter.

"Did you see that?" she says excitedly. "Danno, she looked at us."

Hokeo and the other officers manage to corral the seal into the crate, but it keeps making awful noises, like a pig squealing as it dies. As they carry it out of Danny's apartment, the seal presses its face to the bars of the crate and looks right at Danny and Grace, its big grey eyes visible from the other side of the room.

"She's sad," Grace says, sounding like she might cry. "She didn't want to leave!"

"No, baby, she's fine," Danny says, rubbing her back. "She just misses her mom. They're going to take her to the ocean so they can find each other again."

"What if they don't?" says Grace.

"They will."

By the time animal control is gone, it's nearly 6AM. Danny makes bacon as Grace eats cereal and looks at pictures on her phone.

"I sent mommy a picture of the seal," she tells him through a mouthful of Cheerios.

"Oh, that's...fantastic," says Danny. Rachel and Stan are on the mainland visiting Stan's parents and won't be back until Friday night. Any minute, Danny's going to get a frantic phone call asking why there's a wild animal sleeping on his couch.

God, his couch. It's going to smell like fish.

"I took lots of videos of her sleeping," Grace says. "I'm going to put them on youtube."

"You know how to do that?" he asks, and Grace laughs like it's the funniest thing he's ever said.

Danny's phone rings. He looks at the caller ID, sighs, and answers it.

"Good morning, Rachel."

*****

Rachel's not the only one who got a photo from Grace. Danny gets a text from Chin asking if he got a new cat (apparently the photo was blurry), and his mother calls just as he's pulling into the parking lot at HQ. Danny tells her the entire story, and it isn't until he hears his sister Julie cackling in the background that he realizes he's on speaker phone.

"Tell Gracie the sound isn't working on that video link she sent," his father says, and then someone says something Danny can't make out. "Oh, never mind, the speakers were unplugged. Who unplugged the speakers?"

Even Max finds out somehow, probably from Chin or Lori, because when Danny and Kono stop by to see a body for a new case, Max starts grilling him about it.

"How large was the pup?" Max asks, snapping on a pair of gloves. "Obviously if it was small enough to slip through a cat flap, it's still nursing."

"I have no idea," Danny says, scrubbing a hand over his face. It's mid-afternoon, he's going on four hours of sleep, and a nap sounds pretty amazing right now.

"Was it male or female?" Max asks, and at Danny blank expression says, "Extending up from the rear flippers, males exhibit a ridge leading to a penile opening before reaching the navel. On females, four teats are visible around the navel--"

"You know, Max," says Danny, "I didn't really get a good look at her teats."

Kono raises her eyebrows. "Teats not really doing much for you these days, Danny?" she asks innocently.

Danny smiles at Max. "Can we just talk about the mutilated corpse, please?"

That night, Danny sits in bed and opens a new text message to Steve.

How is L.A.? I've heard the weather is beautiful there.

When did Danny turn into his mother? He deletes the entire message and starts over.

So a baby seal wandered into my apartment last night.

It sounds like the beginning of a terrible joke. Danny clears the screen again.

You said you'd call last night so we could talk. I guess they don't have phones in L.A.

Bitter and passive-aggressive. Maybe he really had turned into his mother. Danny tries one more time.

I wasn't expecting you to say anything in return, if that's what you're worried about. I just wanted you to know.

Danny's thumb hovers over the 'send' button for several seconds before he deletes the entire message and sets his phone on the nightstand.

*****

The next morning, Danny pads into the kitchen, rubbing sleep out of his eyes, and starts a pot of coffee. His neighbors must be cooking eel or some shit because the apartment smells like fish. He makes himself a bowl of cereal, turns around to grab a spoon, and drops the bowl onto the floor.

"Holy shit!"

The seal - now covered in milk and Cheerios - looks up at him, unimpressed. It barks once and shakes itself off like a dog, spraying tiny drops of milk onto the kitchen cabinets.

"Holy shit," says Danny, clutching his spoon in one hand. "Holy shit."

Grace comes running into the room, face lit up expectantly like she just heard Santa Claus drop down the chimney.

"She's back!" she exclaims, dropping down onto the tile floor.

"No no!" Danny shouts, rushing over to scoop her out of the way, but he slips on the spilt milk and ends up flat on his ass.

"I knew you would come back," Grace says as the seal crawls over and starts nuzzling her hand. "Look, Danno, I think she's hungry."

"No, Grace, it's not safe to do that," Danny tells her, picking her up off the floor. The bottom of her nightshirt is wet from the milk. "Remember what I told you?"

Grace looks down at the seal, frowning. "But she doesn't look dangerous."

"I know, but seals aren't like cats and dogs," he tells her. "We have to be careful."

The seal must have rested up because it's a lot more animated this time, slithering all over the apartment as Grace watches and takes more pictures on her phone. It looks like the same seal - same mottled fur on its back and fins, same size and body shape. Danny calls the SPCA again and is connected with Harry, the same guy from the other night.

"And before you ask, no, I haven't been drinking," Danny tells him.

"Huh," Harry says eloquently, pausing the football game playing in the background. "You sure it's the same seal?"

"Well, I didn't ask to check its I.D. but how many other seals are wandering around Honolulu?"

"Huh," Harry says again. "The officers should be able to tell. They'll be there in about half an hour."

"Half an hour?" Danny says flatly.

"Give or take."

Harry and Danny end up talking football for over an hour, and it's nearly 8:00 before the animal control van arrives. Hokeo is back, this time with two officers Danny doesn't recognize. As soon as they walk through the door, the seal flips a shit and high-tails it into Danny's bedroom.

"Do I have to go to school today?" Grace asks him, smoothing the hair away from his forehead. She's standing on one of the dining room chairs, clinging to him as they listen to the animal control officers banging around in his bedroom.

"Yes, you absolutely do."

"We should go to the beach and make sure the seal finds her mommy this time," says Grace. "What if that's why she came back, because she's lost? We have to help her."

There's a crash in his bedroom, like the sound of his bedside lamp toppling over, and Danny sighs. "The nice officers are going to make sure that she finds her mommy for real this time," he tells her.

Grace looks worried. "Are you sure?"

Suddenly the seal comes racing back into the dining room as quickly as its little body will allow, something dangling from its mouth. It makes a beeline toward Danny, who can't move without knocking Grace off the chair, but instead of bowling him over or trying to eat his leg, the seal scurries behind him and starts making terrible keening sounds like it's being tortured.

Grace bursts into tears.

The situation pretty much devolves from there. The officers manage to get the seal in its crate, but it's making such awful noises that Danny's super stops by to see what the hell is going on. Grace doesn't stop crying for twenty minutes. Hokeo declares this the craziest thing he's ever seen and keeps shaking his head in disbelief.

"Are these yours, sir?" one of the officers asks Danny as they're securing the crate. She's holding up his car keys. "They were in the seal's mouth."

"Wow, breaking and entering and attempted grand theft auto," Danny says, taking the keys from her. "She better be glad I'm not pressing charges."

"She?" the officer says, confused.

"Yeah, the seal," Danny says, nodding at the crate. "You know, the baby seal who broke into my house, twice, and tried to steal my car keys. That one."

"Oh, it's not female," the officer tells him. "Did you try to feed it milk?"

"What?" Danny frowns. "No, that was my milk. I mean, my cereal."

She furrows her brow. "You tried to feed it cereal?"

"I dropped the bowl!" Danny exclaims. "You know, when I turned around and saw a baby seal in the middle of my kitchen!"

The seal starts barking again when they haul the crate out of the apartment, and Grace dissolves into fresh tears.

Danny calls them both in sick and takes Grace out for breakfast, and they spend the rest of the day watching Disney movies and making necklaces out of seashells.

*****

When Danny gets to work the next morning, a bunch of people are milling around out front, some of them craning to get a look inside. Danny figures someone had a heart attack or went into labor or something, but there's no ambulance out front. He's about to ask someone what's going on when the crowd parts and two women wearing very familiar white uniforms emerge from the building carrying a very familiar crate. Someone nearby says, "I can't believe a baby seal got this far inland..."

Holy shit.

"Excuse me," he says, pushing through the crowd to get to the van. "Excuse me."

"Sir, please step back," one of the animal control officers tells him, holding up her hands to prevent him from getting any closer to the vehicle. "This is not--"

"I'm a police officer," he tells her, indicating the badge on his hip. "Detective Danny Williams, I work Five-0. Is that a baby seal in that crate? A baby monk seal?" The officer nods. "Can I see it, please?"

Before she can reply, someone says, "Detective Williams?" Danny turns up to see Hokeo walking up to the van. "What are you doing here?" Hokeo asks.

"I work here," Danny says, nodding at the building. "I'm Five-0. Is that...?"

Hokeo nods. "Yeah, it's the same seal. You work here?"

"Yeah, what happened?"

"It got all the way into the lobby before anyone noticed," Hokeo tells him. "It actually made it all the way to the first floor before anyone could detain it." He laughs. "Hey, maybe he knew you work here and came to visit."

Danny doesn't smile back. "First floor, you said?"

"Yep. Hey, Carly, let him see it," Hokeo tells the other officer. "This is the guy I was telling you about, the one who found it in his apartment twice. And he works here, can you believe it?"

Danny crouches down to look into the crate. It's the same seal all right. The instant it sees Danny, it starts barking loudly and squirming in its crate.

"He recognizes you!" Hokeo says, laughing. "Oh man, this is crazy."

Danny sighs as the seal presses its face against the crate door, whiskers twitching. "Yeah, it's something."

*****

The team finds the entire situation infinitely more hilarious than Danny does.

"Need me to help you file a restraining order?" Kono asks, smirking as she seals an evidence bag. They're all crammed into a shitty motel room in Kalihi processing the scene of a double homicide. Danny just pastes a bland smile onto his face and doesn't reply.

"Maybe the seal imprinted on you," Lori offers.

Danny frowns. "What, like a duckling?"

"Or a werewolf," Chin adds, and Lori laughs. "What? They played the first two movies on the flight to Greece!"

"I don't know what that means," says Danny.

"Monk seal pups do not imprint on their mothers," Max informs them as he records the liver temperature in his notebook. "Occasionally a pup will become separated from its mother and will attempt to nurse from another mother seal. Of course, she can only nurse the pup until her own milk stores are depleted."

"That reminds me," Danny says, snapping his fingers. "I've gotta stop at the grocery store on the way home."

Chin grins. "What did Steve say when you told him?"

"I, uh--" Danny turns away and takes a couple of photos of blood splatter on the wall. "He didn't really have anything to say."

Kono narrows her eyes. "You haven't told him."

"I didn't say that. What are you doing?" Danny asks as she pulls out her phone.

"Telling him about the new guy you're seeing," Kono says, tapping away. "Local guy - dark hair, small build. A little young, but who am I to judge..."

Danny starts to grab the phone out of her hand, but she snatches it out of the way and grins up at him. "Sent!"

Danny starts to remind everyone that his life is not a joke, but that would be a lie.

When Danny picks up Grace from school, he absolutely does not tell her that the seal tried to stalk him at work. He takes her home and makes spaghetti, and Rachel and Stan stop by on the way from the airport to take her back to their house.

That night, Danny dreams he's having brunch with Rachel's mother and his high school baseball coach. Rachel's mother keeps asking him questions in French. His old dog Rusty is there too, sitting next to Danny and eating pieces of bacon from Danny's hand. At some point, Steve shows up, bare-chested and dripping wet, asking if anyone wants to go swimming with him.

"J'ai laissé mon maillot de bain à la maison," says the old bat.

Then Steve turns into Rusty the dog. Danny doesn't see it happen, but he looks over at Rusty and he just knows. Steve the dog starts licking Danny's hand, his whiskers brushing the inside of Danny's wrist.

"Why don't you want to go swimming with me?" Danny asks him. "I'm a really good swimmer."

Steve barks at him, but it's hoarse and terrible, like he's about to hack up a lung. Danny reaches over and pats him on the fin. "It's okay, you don't have to--"

Danny's eyes fly open.

The seal is peeking his head out from under the covers, looking up at Danny with big grey eyes.

"What--" Danny rolls out of bed, trips over a pair of loafers, and flips on the light switch. "What the goddamn fuck!"

The seal barks, probably loud enough to wake the neighbors, and squirms out from under the sheets.

"Why!" Danny yells at him. "Why are you following me? Do I smell like fish? Do I look like your mother?"

The seal cranes its neck towards Danny and barks again, like it's trying to tell him something very important.

"No," says Danny. "No no no no no." He grabs his cell phone and goes into the kitchen, where he calls the SPCA, whose number he'd saved to his phone after the last incident. The sky is mostly dark, but not for long. The clock above his stove reads 5:57AM.

As he's waiting to be connected, the seal makes its way into the kitchen. Danny glares at it.

"SPCA. How can I help you?"

"Hey, Harry," Danny says. "It's Danny Williams. You know, from--"

"Oh, hey, Danny. Did you catch the score on the Jets game? I told you Philadelphia was gonna wipe the floor with them. The field. Whatever."

"Uh, yeah, you were totally right," says Danny. "Listen--"

"What's going on? Don't tell me that seal's back at your apartment." He laughs long and loud, but it dies in his throat when Danny doesn't reply. "Wait, seriously?"

Danny sighs.

"Holy crap, man. What'd you do? Did you feed it? I told you not to feed it--"

"I didn't feed it anything!" Danny exclaims.

"This is super fucking weird. You keep fish in your apartment or something? Seal pheromones?"

Danny frowns. "Where the fuck would I even get something like that, Harry?"

"Black market. They've got, like--"

"You know what," Danny says, closing his eyes. "Just send a van to come get this thing, okay? I think you have my address in your little database by now."

"Yeah, okay," Harry says, turning on his football game again. "They'll be there in about half an hour."

Danny makes himself a bowl of ice cream, turns on a Golden Girls marathon, and ignores the seal, who sits at his feet and stares at him the entire time. Every once in a while it starts honking at him and flapping its fins like it's angry, but Danny pretends he doesn't see or hear anything. His neighbors probably hate him. His landlord's probably going to request a pet deposit. Danny doesn't give a fuck. In fact, he gives negative fucks. He just wants to get a good night's sleep and not wake up to find a wild animal running loose in his home. He wants his apartment to smell like dirty laundry and Chinese take-out again, instead of raw fish and seaweed. He wants Steve to pick up the goddamn phone and call him.

After a while, the seal gives up barking at him and wanders off somewhere. Danny does not follow, even when he hears rustling in his bedroom. He's a few minutes into a new episode when the seal emerges again. The yellow tie Danny had worn to Grace's Christmas pageant last week is dangling from its mouth.

"Jesus Christ," Danny mutters. The seal stares up at him expectantly. Danny reaches down to pull the tie from its mouth, but the seal hangs on tight.

"Okay, you know what," Danny says, falling back onto the couch with his ice cream. "Eat my tie. I don't fucking care. The animal control officers are going to be here any minute, and you're not going to be my problem anymore. You wanna know why? Because I'm going to move. I'm going to pack up all my shit and find a new apartment that doesn't have a fucking goddamn cat flap, and I'm going to keep all of my windows locked at all times. Can you pick a lock?"

The seal stares at him for a long time before it drops the tie and slithers away.

"I didn't think so," Danny says, turning back to the television.

There's a brief clatter when a stack of DVDs falls onto the floor, and then the radio starts blasting from the corner of the room.

"Fuck!" Danny exclaims, leaping up from the couch. The pint of ice cream tumbles to the floor but Danny doesn't bother picking it up. The seal is frantically pushing buttons with its nose, apparently searching for a new station. It flips to a country music station and gets all the way to a station playing Hawaiian music before Danny hits the power button.

"Okay!" says Danny. "Are you actually trying to ruin my life?"

The seal lunges for the radio again and manages to flip it from the Hawaiian station to the station that plays Kenny G and all of the embarrassing smooth jazz from the early 90's. Danny hits the power switch again and covers the tuner knob with his hand.

"Okay, that's it!" Danny yells. "I don't know what your deal is but--"

There's a knock at Danny's door. Both Danny and the seal freeze. Slowly, Danny removes his hand from the tuner button.

"You wanna get that?" Danny asks. "It's for you."

The seal grunts but doesn't move. Danny goes to open the front door and finds three uniformed animal control officers on the other side.

Hokeo shakes his head. "This is so crazy."

Danny nods into the room behind him. "He's in the--"

Marvin Gaye starts blaring from the stereo, growing louder when the seal finds the volume knob.

"--living room," Danny finishes.

It takes the officers several minutes to catch the seal this time. It scurries all over the apartment, barking bloody murder, and tries to hide under Grace's bed. When they finally get it in the crate, the seal looks straight at Danny with big, disappointed eyes.

"What?" he says. "Don't look at me like that. Like this is my fault or something."

The seal doesn't make any noise when they cart it away, which is somehow worse than all of the barking. Danny closes the door and looks around at his apartment, at the spilled DVDs and the ice cream congealing on the carpet, and suddenly feels very alone. He decides that the obvious solution to this problem is to get a little drunk.

A few shots of vodka later, he leans back against his kitchen counter and pulls out his phone.

"Good morning," Danny tells Steve's voicemail. "I hope Los Angeles is just nifty. I hope you're having a great time seeing the sights and not sharing breathing room with me. How convenient for you that I choose to broach awkward subjects mere hours before you're scheduled to leave on vacation! So much easier to avoid my calls when you're thousands of miles away. Not that I would know. See, I don't have that luxury. I haven't been back to New Jersey in six months. You wanna know why? Because I've been stuck here on this little piece of heaven, this island of sunshine and black mold and misery, and the only thing that makes it bearable is Grace. And you. Sometimes."

Danny looks down at the floor. "You know, I didn't expect you to feel the same way, Steve. I'm a grown-up, I know how this works, I'm not that naive. But I thought you'd at least have the nuts to say, 'Hey, sorry, Danny, I don't swing that way' instead of giving me the silent treatment. I mean, I thought I'd give you your space, give you some time to process, but it's been four days now, Steve. Four days and you can't even pick up the phone and call your friend, which I guess you've decided I'm not anymore." Danny sighs, exhausted.

"And on top of everything, I've been dealing with a little situation--" He makes air quotes, even though no one is there to see them. "--if you will. If being stalked by a baby seal counts as a situation, and I think it does. Of course, this is only the latest in long series of fucking situations that I like to call my life." More air quotes. "And it's not like I need this, okay? It's not like I need any of this. I'm already dealing with a lot of shit. I don't need you avoiding my calls because you can't deal with your shit, just like I don't need some baby seal who wakes me up in the middle of the night, and steals my car keys, and bitches about my ties, and has terrible taste in music, and--"

Danny drops the phone onto the floor.

*****

Animal control can't give Danny any information on where they took the seal, only that they released it earlier that morning. Danny doesn't press the issue. He drops by Steve's place and finds it exactly how he'd left it four days ago, when he'd stopped by just before Steve was scheduled to leave for the airport. Steve's duffel bag is sitting by the front door, and his keys are on the kitchen counter next to his phone, which is out of battery. There's a half-full mug of coffee next to the sink.

Danny goes back to his apartment and spends the rest of the day on the couch with his laptop balanced on his knees, scouring google and wikipedia for every morsel of information he can find. By 9:00, he's got twelve tabs open and forty-seven others bookmarked.

He's in the middle of a really depressing article about an Irish folk legend when the seal slithers under the cat flap.

Danny and the seal just look at one another for a moment before Danny says, "Finally. What'd you do, stop for snacks?"

The seal pauses like he's not sure if Danny's kidding or not but then he worms its way over to the couch. "Come on, buddy, up you go," Danny says, patting the seat next to him. "The smell was never going to come out anyway."

The seal hops up gracelessly, fins flapping.

"So," Danny tells him, angling the screen so he can see it. "I've been reading all of these articles, about seals and mermaids and dead fishermen and shit. Really uplifting stuff, let me tell you, and not the least bit helpful. I was actually hoping you could shed a little light on the situation, but I'm not sure you're really a position to do much explaining."

The seal looks up at him with big grey eyes and barks.

"Ah, yeah, that clears up everything, thank you."

The seal barks again, more insistently this time, and flaps one of his fins.

"What, are we doing sign language now?" Danny says, mimicking his movements. "Interpretive dance? Should we try Morse code?"

The seal sighs and slumps into the couch cushion.

"So what this is all about, seriously?" Danny says, gesturing at him. "Did you already know about this? Did you do it on purpose? Is this your version of a big gay freak out?"

The seal just stares back at him.

"Yeah, whatever," Danny says, turning back to the screen. The seal hobbles closer and flops against Danny's hip, curling up beside him. Danny glances down as the seal nuzzles Danny's hand, whiskers brushing his knuckles. He makes a little sound at the back of his throat, not at all like he's being tortured, and gently licks at Danny's palm. Danny sighs and strokes the seal's forehead with the pad of his thumb.

"I'm telling you right now," he says, turning back to the laptop, "you are not sleeping in my bed while you still smell like raw fish."

The seal rests his head on Danny's thigh and closes his eyes.

*****

Two days later, Danny is sitting in his office when he gets a text message.

You look happy today. Having Steve back in town wouldn't have anything to do with that, would it?

Danny glances across the hall at Kono's office, but she's adding sugar to her tea and doesn't look up.

I guess it's that extra shot of espresso I added to my latte this morning, he says.

A minute later, he receives her reply: Is that what the kids are calling it these days?

Danny frowns and is about to reply when his phone beeps and another text pops up. But it's not from Kono.

Finally going through my messages...what's this about a new guy you're seeing?

Danny rolls his eyes. he's an idiot, that's what. and he owes me dinner.

A few seconds later: Speaking of, do you think it's normal to still be craving fish like this? I mean, I want it cooked now but still.

there is nothing about this situation that I would classify as normal, Danny says. why don't you call dr. murphy? she's the expert, remember? He sets his phone back on the desk.

He's halfway into an email to Duke at HPD when his phone beeps again.

By the way...I'm glad I'm worth all of the sunshine and misery.

Danny's face flushes with embarrassment. that was before I had to fly a chain-smoking ancient mythology professor in all the way from ireland so she could sit in my living room and bark at you.

She wasn't barking at me. And it's thanks to her that your apartment doesn't smell like fish anymore.

yeah, now it smells like cigarette smoke, says Danny. I'm not sure which is worse.

The phone beeps again. In case you're wondering, you're worth all of the sunshine and misery too.

Danny tries to keep a straight face, but the corners of his mouth are twitching. He hits the reply button and types out his message.

I'll pick up some tuna on the way home.
Tags: fic, fic: h50, pairing: steve/danny
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