Characters: Gen; Steve + Danny friendship
Summary: After Steve accidentally comes out to Danny, Danny offers to accompany him to a gay bar and be his wingman.
Rating: PG-13 for language and mentions of sex.
Content/spoilers: Humor, angst, friendship. Allusions to 2x10 but nothing super spoilery.
Warnings: Mentions of homophobia, anxiety about being out.
Word count: ~3700
A/N: I started this ages ago but finally decided to finish it. Thanks very much to imaginarycircus, shinysylver, and shes_gone for all of their help. ♥ I made changes after they looked at it, so all mistakes are mine.
It happens one Saturday morning when Danny is over at Steve's, eating blueberry pancakes and talking about some video he watched on youtube, of a dog who can do a handstand or something. Steve is distracted by a text from Mary and isn't thinking when he agrees to let Danny use his laptop to pull up the video, and it's only when he hears heavy breathing and a stream of obscenities that his heart drops all the way into his stomach and he realizes what a complete and utter idiot he was for not clearing his browser history before he shut down his computer last night.
"Oh," Danny says, blinking at the screen. There's an advertisement playing on the right-hand side of the page, a video of a guy in a jockstrap giving a very enthusiastic blowjob, and the top of the screen identifies the site as Youporngay. Steve is frozen in place, too stunned to react, and before he can even remind himself to breathe Danny clicks on the browser's location bar and types in 'youtube.com' again. Steve can see the browser history suggestions from where he's sitting and realizes what must have happened.
"That was..." Steve swallows as youtube pops up and the moaning stops. "That was an accident. I mean, the other day I clicked the wrong site. I was looking for youtube."
Danny nods slowly. "That happens sometimes."
Steve can tell Danny doesn't believe him, and he feels sick, like maybe he's going to throw up. His heart is beating so fast he can feel it in his ears, his face and the back of his neck hot and prickly.
Danny looks up at him. "Steve, if you like guys, it's okay."
But it's not. He's spent so long hiding this piece of himself that he hates himself for letting anyone see it, even if it is Danny, especially because it's Danny. Fuck, how could he have been so stupid?
"Steve," says Danny. "Seriously, it's okay."
"No, it's not," Steve says, snapping his laptop shut. He looks down at Danny's plate, at the half-eaten pancakes covered in maple syrup, and suddenly feels claustrophobic. He walks into the kitchen and stands at the sink, looking out the window.
A moment later, he hears Danny walk into the kitchen behind him. Steve waits for Danny to say something, but when he doesn't, Steve turns around and leans back against the counter, arms crossed over his chest, staring at the floor.
"It's going to be awkward working together," Steve says finally, not looking at him. "I get it."
"Wait...what exactly do you get?" Danny asks.
"That things will be different," says Steve. "That you're not gonna want to..." He doesn't really know how to finish that sentence. Every part of his life is so full of Danny that he honestly doesn't know what it would look like without him anymore.
"Lemme get this straight," says Danny. "So after a year and a half of working together, after all the shit we've been through with you going to jail and your dad's case and Wo Fat and fucking North Korea, suddenly I'm not going to want to hang out with you because, what, I'm worried about you checkin' me out when I bend over to fix the copy machine?"
Steve still can't look at him. The thing is, he had felt the same way about his teammates when he'd served in the SEALs - men he would have died for without hesitation, men who'd taken bullets for him with the same conviction. But Steve had been careful back then because he knew that some secrets are best kept under wraps, and any relationship - even between people who trust one another with their lives - can turn on a dime. The idea that things would change between them isn't quite as absurd as Danny is making it sound.
Steve swallows. "Danny, just--"
"Because I have a nice ass, okay?" Danny says. "I don't mind you lookin' at it. In fact, I'd be offended if you didn't. I don't get these pants tailored for nothing."
Steve flickers his eyes up to meet Danny's and is surprised to find Danny looking at him with his lips pursed together, his eyes soft and serious. Steve's only seen that expression once, when they were at Mary's house after she'd been kidnapped and Steve had found that tooth in a puddle of blood.
"Look, I am not judging, okay," Danny says, his voice gentler this time. "My sister Deb? Has been married to a very lovely woman for six years. You enjoying the company of other men does not bother me in the least. Not that it even matters what I think, it's your life, but I'm just saying."
Steve looks away, his heart still hammering in his chest. "Okay."
"'Okay'?" Danny echoes. "What does that mean?"
"It means okay," says Steve.
"Okay okay, or okay you're going to be really weird about this because you think I'm secretly freaked out?"
"Are you freaked out?"
"No!" Danny sighs. "Steve, I'm trying to tell you it's fine. How long has it been since you've dated a guy?"
Steve reaches up to scratch his temple. "Um...I haven't ever really dated a guy."
"Okay, how long since you've..." Danny gestures vaguely.
Steve flushes. "Danny, I don't--"
"Okay," Danny says, putting a hand on his shoulder, briefly. "Okay. We don't have to talk about it. But if you ever want do, it's fine, I promise."
Steve looks away. "Okay...thanks."
"No problem. Now can we please watch this video before my pancakes get cold, because you are going to be amazed, I promise."
Steve's not entirely sure what he expected to happen after Danny found out that he likes guys - except maybe that Danny would pretend everything was cool but he'd still be afraid Steve was going to hit on him, and things would be really awkward - but Danny doesn't act much different from usual. He snipes at Steve about his driving and for using excessive force on a kidnapping suspect, and when Danny actually reaches out and slaps Steve's hand for trying to change the radio while Born in the U.S.A. is playing, Steve thinks maybe it's not going to be that bad.
It doesn't mean he's going to talk about it though. Steve knows that Danny was just being nice when he offered to listen, and it doesn't mean he really wants to hear all the gory details about who Steve has fucked, or wanted to fuck, or thought about fucking. But a few days later they're at Deep End, both of them working on their second round, and suddenly the words are tumbling out of Steve's mouth.
"It's been a while."
"Huh?" Danny says, chewing on a peanut.
"Since I've..." Steve looks down at his beer, catches a drop of condensation with the tip of his finger. "You know, with a guy."
"Ah," says Danny. "How long?"
"Since before I joined the SEALs. About seven years."
Danny lifts his eyebrows. "That's a long time."
"It's fine," Steve says quickly. "I mean, I like women too so it's not like..." He's oversimplifying it a little, but it's important for Danny to know that his thing with Catherine was real.
Danny nods and takes a sip of his beer. Steve worries for a moment that Danny's uncomfortable with the change in subject but then he realizes that Danny is giving him space to take the lead on this conversation. The thing is, it's been so long since Steve's talked about this with anyone that he doesn't even know where to start.
"I'm sorry about the other day," he says.
Danny rolls his eyes. "Believe it or not, that was not the first time I've seen gay porn, and I've been far more traumatized by some straight porn than by two dudes sucking each other off."
"No, I mean--" Steve rubs the tip of his finger against the sticky edge of the bar. "It's not that I thought you'd be...I just didn't know."
Danny nods slowly, and when he speaks again he seems to be choosing his words carefully. "You have a hard time in the service?"
Steve licks his lips, considering his words. "Well, I never told anyone, so." He knows some of the guys probably wouldn't have cared, and maybe some would have surprised him, but still, 'homo' wasn't exactly a term of endearment.
Danny sits up straighter at the bar and grabs another handful of peanuts. "So you thinking you might like to start seeing guys again, now that you're not active?"
Steve scratches the back of his neck. "I don't know."
"I mean, Don't Ask, Don't Tell. That was pretty huge. You have a lot more freedom now."
"Yeah, but it's not like that just suddenly goes away," Steve says, frustrated with Danny's naivete. "It's not like I can just carry around a picture of my boyfriend and everyone would be okay with that. That's not how things work in the Navy, regardless of what the law says."
"Yeah, but you're not in the Navy anymore, Steve," Danny says, looking at him. "You're the head of Five-0. You can carry around as many pictures as you want and no one's going to be able to say doodly squat." He starts to take another sip of his beer but pauses. "Although, if you're going to be carrying around anyone's picture, it better be mine, considering how often I put my life at risk for you."
Steve shakes his head. Danny rolls his eyes.
"Seriously, you've got to get out of that mindset. Relax."
"I'm relaxed," Steve mutters.
"You know what you need to do, don't you?" Danny says, flapping his hand against Steve's bicep. "Go to a gay bar."
"A gay bar?"
"Yes," says Danny. "A gay bar. Rumor has it, that is a good place to meet men who date other men."
"I don't really date guys," says Steve. "I mean, I've never--in the past, I've just..."
"Steve, you barely date women. How many times did you take Catherine to the movies, huh?"
"Not really!" Danny says, gesturing so widely he nearly knocks over his drink. "Besides, it's a bar, it's not speed dating. I'm pretty sure you won't have any problem finding some guys there who are more interested in getting laid than walking down the aisle."
Steve picks at the label of his beer. "Yeah, I don't think so."
Steve shrugs, not sure how to explain. Because there's not much that scares him, but the idea of walking into a room of men who know exactly why he's there is the most terrifying thing he can think of.
"Look, I'll go with you."
Steve looks over at him. "No, you won't."
"I will! I'll find the tightest jeans in my closet and we'll go have a couple of beers, and if anyone asks, I'll tell them you give excellent head."
"Oh god, Danny--"
"Sorry, sorry," Danny says, putting both hands on Steve's arm, "I won't, I promise. But I'll be your wingman. What do wingmen do at gay bars? I'm not sure but I'll find out and I'll be the best wingman ever, okay."
Steve sighs. "I don't know."
Danny nudges him. "You don't have to hide anymore. Have fun for once, will you?"
Steve looks down at his beer, watching a drop of condensation slip down the glass. He can already feel all of those eyes on him, all of those people knowing, and it doesn't sound like fun at all, but he knows he's just being a coward.
"Fine," Steve says, grabbing his beer to take a long swig.
Danny grins. "Okay, good, it's a date."
Steve frowns at him. "I'm not carrying your picture around."
On Saturday night, Steve stands at the window above the kitchen sink, watching the waves crashing onto the shore. He can hear them breaking, one after another, the sound matching the rhythm of his breathing. He grips the countertop so hard that his knuckles turn white and he can feel his pulse pounding under his fingertips.
All day, he's thought about calling Danny and telling him that he can't go out tonight. He's been running it through his head all week: that moment when he first steps into the bar and all heads turn to look at him. It's like one of those dreams where he shows up to school naked, except he's thirty-five years old now and he's spent most of his adult life in combat situations. Of all the things he could possibly be afraid of, this should not be one of them, and he's so angry with himself for letting this get the best of him.
So he doesn't call Danny. It would be too humiliating to admit that he can't do this, and Steve still has his pride even if he's lost some of his dignity. He's never met a challenge that he didn't face head-on and he's not about to let this be the first.
"You're not seriously wearing that, are you?"
Steve looks up to see Danny walking into the kitchen. He's wearing a black t-shirt and jeans, and his hair is slicked back with more hair gel than usual.
"Is this what you usually wear on dates?" Danny continues, gesturing at Steve. "I mean, seriously."
"What's wrong with what I'm wearing?" Steve asks, looking down at himself. He spent an hour getting ready, which is about 55 minutes longer than he usually spends, and finally decided that he was overthinking this.
"Do you literally not own anything except cargo pants and short sleeve button-down shirts?" says Danny. "At least take off the top shirt, please. You look like a goof."
Steve sighs and takes off the button-down so that he's only wearing his khaki cargos and a pale blue t-shirt. "Happy?"
"Why can't you just wear jeans?"
"These are more comfortable."
"Yeah, but they don't really do much for your ass," Danny says, peering around. "I mean, you probably want that to look as nice as possible."
"My ass is fine."
"If you say so."
Steve glares at him. "If I change into some jeans, will you be happy?"
"Hey, you're the one trying to get laid," says Danny, and Steve scowls and goes upstairs to change.
On the way to the bar, Steve's stomach is in knots. Danny is driving, changing the radio every five minutes and telling a story about this one time he went to a lesbian bar with his sister and ended up with a broken nose, but Steve is barely listening.
"God, you look like you're about to parachute into enemy territory," Danny says, looking over at him. "Actually, that probably excites you. You look like you're going to the dentist for a root canal."
"I'm fine," Steve says, but his stomach drops when they pull into the parking lot. There are a few guys hanging around outside, two shadows making out against a car a couple rows in front of them, and for what might be the very first time in his entire life, Steve thinks, I can't do this.
"You don't look fine," says Danny. He's watching him like Steve's a suspect who's about to run, so Steve purses his lips together and tries his best to look annoyed. "You look constipated."
Steve glares at him. "Are you going to be like this all night?"
"I don't know, are you going to look like this all night?"
Steve shakes his head. "I think you're more excited about this than I am."
"I think anyone would be more excited about this than you are. You're setting the bar pretty low."
Steve's not sure where it comes from, this surge of anger so strong it literally clouds his vision, but it has him shoving open the passenger door, stepping out of the car into the humid parking lot that smells like sweat and beer and cologne. "Let's just get this over with," he says before slamming the door shut.
"You know," Danny says, getting out of the car, "if you have to psych yourself into having a good time, that's not a good sign."
"Let's just--" Steve stiffens as two guys walk right by their car, laughter and cigarette smoke trailing behind them.
"What?" Steve snaps.
"Hey," Danny says. "Hey, look at me."
Steve looks at him.
Danny says, "You're really freaked out, aren't you?"
"I'm not freaked out," Steve says, clenching his jaw.
"What are you thinking about right now?"
Steve stares straight ahead, at the neon lights advertising happy hour, and doesn't say anything. Danny sighs.
"Hey, look..." Danny runs a hand over his hair. "We don't have to go in, okay? Not if you don't want to."
"I said it's fine," Steve says, frustrated. "Besides, you're the one that said I needed to relax. That's what I'm trying to do, I'm trying to relax." He spreads his arms out as if to say, See? but he's not sure what Danny is supposed to be seeing. The fact that he's wearing jeans? That he's not armed?
"Well, I was wrong, okay?" says Danny. "I shouldn't have pushed so hard. I just thought if I went with you that maybe it would be easier."
Steve looks down at his hands. He feels like a coward.
"Have you ever..." Danny walks over to him. "Have you ever told anyone about this? Besides me."
Steve licks his lips. "My mom. And, uh, my dad sort of...found out."
"Didn't go over so well?"
"He found some porn in my room," Steve says, and after all these years the memory still has the power to tie his stomach up in knots and fill him with dread. Sometimes he has to remind himself that he's not fifteen years old anymore. "A couple weeks later my mom died and he sent us away. I always thought..."
"He couldn't handle it," Danny finishes for him, and Steve nods. "At least you know now, right? Why he really did it."
"Yeah," Steve says, but honestly, where his father is concerned, he's not sure about anything these days.
"What'd your mom say?"
"She, uh..." Steve crosses his arms over his chest. He remembers the scent of salt and kelp clinging to her t-shirt after an afternoon teaching Mary how to surf. "She just gave me a hug."
They stand there for a moment in the dark, music pouring out of the bar every time someone goes in or out, and when Steve finally looks over, Danny is watching him.
"What?" Steve blurts, immediately on guard.
Danny opens his arms in a clear invitation, and Steve rolls his eyes.
"Don't make that face," Danny says, pointing at him. "I hate that face. If I never see that face again, it'll be too soon."
"Come on," Danny says, stepping a bit closer. "Come on. That's right, bring it in. There you go." He claps Steve on the back, the other arm tightening around his shoulder when Steve tries to pull away again.
"I didn't almost die or anything," Steve tells him.
"Hugs are not just for near-death experiences," Danny says, practically squeezing him now. "Seriously, maybe I should hug you more often. I think you need the practice."
Steve keeps waiting for Danny to let him go, and Danny keeps not letting go, so Steve just sighs and relaxes against him. He's aware that he's hugging another guy in the parking lot of a gay bar, but it's Danny, and Danny feels safe, and Steve can't really bring himself to worry about what other people are thinking right now.
"That's better," Danny says, clapping him on the back one more time before finally releasing him. "We might finally make a human out of you after all."
"That's funny," says Steve. He does feel better, though. The tightness in his chest is gone.
"Well, I'm a funny guy," Danny says, walking back around to the driver-side door. Steve expects him to lock it or grab his cell phone, but Danny leans his arms against the roof. "Pizza?"
Steve glances over at the bar. "Uh..."
"I'll go to JJ's but I will not go to Ilani's," Danny says, gesturing emphatically with his hands. "They put pineapple juice in their sauce, and don't tell me they don't. So if you don't want JJ's we can grab Chinese or something, but please, no Ilani's."
Steve opens his mouth to reply, then closes it again. He wants to tell Danny that they can go into the bar, that he really can do this, but he sees Danny watching him, eyebrows raised as he waits for Steve's reply, and he thinks that maybe he was wrong. Maybe this isn't something he has to prove, to Danny or to himself.
"They don't put pineapple juice in their sauce," Steve says.
"I swear to god, they do."
"JJ's," Steve says, opening the passenger-side door. "But, uh, I couldn't fit my wallet--"
"Yeah yeah, it's on me," Danny says, rolling his eyes. "But next time I tell you to wear jeans, choose a pair with a little breathing room, yeah?"