A/N: I have struggled writing this story more so than with any other story I've ever written. I had an idea that was much different than this, but over the course of writing, it changed bit by bit. I've written, re-written, erased, and started over about 3 times, and I'm still not 100% happy with it, but I figured if I waited until I was, it would never be posted. I'm not exactly sure when it's supposed to take place; if you look closely, you'll recognize references from Seasons 1, 2 and 4, but I guess it's set in season 4, before Amber. It's still a work in progress, but I'll post when I can. Please review! They speed up my writing. ;)

Disclaimer: I don't own any part of Hawaii Five-0.

"You know, Steven, I don't think I will ever understand why you think climbing these hideous mountains is good exercise. In my opinion it is strange and unusual punishment. I mean, why don't you just go for a run along the beach like a normal person who lives in Hawaii? You know, white sands, clear blue waters, bare feet in the sand. Get a dog. Take a run. Go for a swim." Huffing heavily, Danny Williams bent over, and placed his hands on his knees, out of breath. He wiped sweat dramatically off his face, and held out his damp hand for Steve Mcgarrett to see as the tall ex-SEAL turned around to wait for his friend; Danny glared at the taller man as he took in his friend's relaxed manner, and calm, even breathing. Even though his gray t-shirt was damp with sweat, Steve wasn't even out of breath, and Danny frowned in annoyance at the man's exasperatingly un-human endurance. "See this? This is unhealthy."

Danny Williams and Steve Mcgarrett were hiking in the Ko'olau Mountain range in O'Ahu; it was one of the rare Saturdays when no cases were tying up all the detectives' free time, and Steve had suggested that they take a climb up the mountain. For once, eager to escape the mounds of paperwork that would no doubt be left to anyone who didn't already have previous engagements, Danny had reluctantly agreed; his decision had been re-inforced after Steve had promised to 'buy' the next time they got food, but now, the short detective was regretting ever agreeing to the escapade. Even in the shade of the tall, towering trees, in the middle of the jungle, the humidity was at 100% and the air was as thick as pea soup. And as usual, Danny was complaining.

"It's not unhealthy, Danno," Steve grinned, taking in his partner's flushed face with a glance, as he used Danny's daughter Gracie's pet name, knowing he would be rewarded with an exasperated look, and a glare. "You know, Gracie has told me that you should eat more salads… her teacher has been going on about how fast-food isn't good for cholesterol, and blood pressure."

"Gracie has been talking to you about my cholesterol?" Danny's face scrunched up in the expression Steve was waiting for, and glared at the SEAL, his voice rising in indignation.

"I didn't say that. No, she only mentioned that she'd talked to her teacher about it." Mcgarrett grinned, chuckling to himself as he saw the annoyance evident on the blond man's face. He knew Danny was particularly touchy where his own business was concerned – and that included everything connected to his daughter, and his health.

"She talked to her—oh this is just great! She talked to her teacher about my cholesterol?" Bending over, and placing his hands on his knees, Danny panted for a moment, trying to catch his breath in the unusually high altitude, before straightening, and gesturing haphazardly to emphasize his exclamation as he met Steve's annoyingly amused glance with a warning glare.

"Danny, calm down, brah," Danny eyed him suspiciously as Steve approached, and clapped him on the shoulder twice before letting his hand fall carelessly to his side, saying, "Gracie is just concerned about you." Steve's lips quivered in mirth at his partner's stormy expression, and he fought to keep his face straight. "I think it's really sweet, actually. You probably should eat more salads, Danny."

"You know what, I don't want to hear anything else about it. And if you mention my eating habits again, I will personally see that you eat nothing but salads for a week."

Steve raised his hands in a submissive gesture, and shook his head, finally letting the concealed smile spread over his lips. "Not a word." He turned away from Danny, and stepped forward confidently, moving with familiar ease along the rocky trail, before turning slightly, and calling over his shoulder, "You know, I've heard iceberg lettuce is unusually delicious..."

"You know what…" Danny's answering scowl held little heat as he muttered a few unintelligible threats, and stomped after his friend, wiping his sweaty hands on his gym shorts in disgust as he tripped over a rock that protruded from the dark soil.

20 minutes later, they reached the spot where Steve had fallen down the cliff while investigating a dead body months ago, and Danny shuddered as he remembered the events that lead up to Steve's injury, and the moment when he'd thought his friend was dead. Of course, SuperSEAL had managed to get hurt; as he always seemed to, in every single situation that held the remotest promise of danger. Steve had broken his arm in the fall, and every now and then, one of his team members would catch him rubbing the same arm with an expression of discomfort, especially after tackling a suspect, and even though Steve always waved off their inquiries, shrugging carelessly, Danny determined to ask him about it as he approached the unforgettable landscape. Now was as good a time as any.

Steve reached the ledge first, and with a grunt, he crouched down, shrugging out of the backpack he had on his shoulders, equipped with snacks and water bottles, and took in the view, his eyes wandering over the smoky landscape with a peaceful gaze so seldom seen on his features. In his life, few things were peaceful, and even fewer were silent; he was surrounded by chaos from morning till night. His job demanded such strict concentration and diligence, it was seldom he was ever able to relax, but up on the mountain, surrounded by towering trees and whispering breaths of wind, it was peaceful; he felt some of the tension that had been building ever since his father died drain out of him as he flicked his eyes casually over the now-familiar landscape, and exhaled deeply.

A moment later, Danny reached his resting place, and stopped beside him, immediately flopping down on the ground, releasing a puff of air from between his lips. "I swear, Steven, you climb a mountain like a forest fire is chasing you," Danny panted, wrinkling his forehead at the unpleasant burning sensation in his lungs; he knew he wasn't as physically fit as the maniac ex-SEAL before him, or as adapt to the harsh landscape of Hawaii, and the thought crossed his mind that Steve only asked him along on the hike to rub it in. Freak.

Steve didn't respond, although Danny knew he was in hearing range, and for a moment, Danny glared at the back of his head, before rolling his eyes in resignation, and leaning back with a deep sigh. Fine. Silence never killed anyone.

Crossing his arms under his head, Danny stared at the sky, eyes drifting half-closed dreamily; clouds chased each other across the vast expanse of blue, and disappeared in the thick branches that stretched out over the edge of the cliff. Raising his head, he said suddenly, "Remember the time you broke your arm up here? It was right here, in fact, on this very cliff." He knew Steve heard him this time, and for a moment, Danny wondered if he would ignore the question, but finally, Steve stirred, and turned his head slightly, acknowledging Danny's question with a grunt of impatience.

"I remember, Danny, of course I remember, I don't have amnesia," Steve unconsciously rubbed his arm, as if feeling the stab of pain again, and then glanced over his shoulder, glaring darkly at the suspiciously innocent expression his partner had pasted on his face. "It's not usually something a person forgets; it's a very painful and embarrassing experience. Or maybe you don't know that."

"Embarrassing? Embarrassing?" Danny smirked, and wagged his eyebrows up and down. "Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't know someone getting hurt in a perfectly logical way was embarrassing. And I didn't think you felt pain. Steven."

"Well, next time you fall off a cliff, and break your arm, you let me know how you feel with people gaping at you, as if you were made of steel, looking surprised that you were actually hurt." Steve kept his head turned to hear Danny's reply, but it was evident his thoughts were clearly elsewhere. "Oh, wait." Steve turned abruptly, and glanced at Danny out of the corner of his eye. "The only reason people are still talking about it, is because you keep bringing it up! Daniel."

"Well, you know, most people think you are more than human, so I think it's only fair that I level the playing field." Letting his head fall back against his arms, Danny hid a smile at the half pleased look that washed over Steve's face.

Steve grunted, and flushed as he caught Danny's smug expression. "Humph." Then, straightening suddenly, Steve turned, and sat down next to Danny, placing his forearms on his knees, and leaning back with a small sigh, before turning to glance at his partner casually. "Hey, where's Gracie today? With Stan?"

"Yeah." Danny sat up, and mirrored Steve's posture, brow darkening at the mention of his ex-wife's husband, but as the image of his daughter came into his mind, his lips curled upwards slightly in a tender smile. "Yeah," he repeated, rubbing his brow; he could feel Steve's gaze on him, and he knew his friend was watching him closely. "She's with Stan today. I think he's taking her surfing."

Although he tried to hide it, Danny had to admit he felt no small amount jealousy when it came to his daughter's relationship with her step-father; he knew Gracie loved him wholeheartedly, but Stan was rich. He bought the little girl things Danny couldn't afford, and although he knew he shouldn't, he almost despised the man. It seemed unfair. The whole situation was unfair… Without realizing it, Danny's face had sunk into a frown, and his brow was wrinkled in deep thought as he glared darkly ahead of him, unseeingly.

Observing the changes of Danny's expression, Steve sighed, and nodded slightly. He knew what the man was thinking, and the frustration and pain was clear on his face – his ex-wife's re-marriage was something Danny had joked about, but Steve knew that it seriously bothered his partner; he also knew that Danny still loved Rachel, but had distanced himself in an attempt to keep things as uncomplicated as possible, now that Rachel was pregnant with Stan's child. It would be hard on any man.

"Hey, lighten up, Danno," Smiling slightly, Steve punched his friend in the arm, softening the blow from his usual "hardcore" thump, but Danny still grunted in pain as knuckles collided with flesh. "You're working hard. Even Gracie can see that. Don't sweat it, okay? You're still Gracie's Danno."

"Ow!" Gripping his upper shoulder with his right hand, and rubbing the spot Steve had just thumped, Danny glared at the dark haired man, although his gaze held no heat. "Do you have to be so physical in everything you do? When you played football, if you ever got mad at someone, you probably just tackled them, and pummeled them to dust. Or maybe you still do that, huh? I forgot. That's basically your job, you moron."

Steve rolled his eyes. "You know what, Danny, no. I actually did not do that. And my job is—"

"I know what your job is, okay? It's my job too." Danny split the air with a slashing motion, still rubbing his shoulder with his other hand. "It's a miracle you haven't tackled me yet, in one of our arguments."

"Arguments?" Steve's lips quirked in amusement, and Danny wanted to smack the delighted look off his partner's face. "No wonder people think we're married; 'our arguments'…" Steve echoed Danny's phrase, wrinkling his face with an amused expression, and rolling his eyes dramatically.

"Okay, okay. Whatever, you know what? Just forget it." Shaking his head, Steve chuckled, but to Danny's relief, he dropped the subject with a careless shrug; all this talk of arguments and marriage reminded him of Rachel; old wounds were resurfacing, and he wasn't ready to confront them. Especially not right now.

The two settled into a comfortable silence, and finally, growing impatient, Danny stood up, wincing as pins and needles prickled in his legs from sitting in one position for so long. Steve was still staring over the landscape with a look that Danny recognized; he was thinking of his father, as he unconsciously did whenever he set foot in the mountains. Danny hesitated, unwilling to disturb Steve's musings, but finally impatience overwhelmed his reluctance, and shaking himself, he cleared his throat, and asked testily, "Are you ready to move on? Hello. Steve."

"You know," Steve spoke dreamily, as if he hadn't even heard the impatient note in Danny's voice, "I'll bet Gracie would love these mountains."

Danny sighed, and shifting his weight to one foot, and placing his hands on his hips in annoyance, raised his eyebrows challengingly. "You think Gracie would—Well, you obviously know nothing about my daughter, Steven."

"What?" Steve turned to face his friend, wagging his eyebrows up and down, his expression comically innocent as he grinned at his partner's evident impatience as Danny shifted from one foot to the other. "You don't think she would enjoy traipsing about in these trees, swinging on vine swings, and climbing cliffs?"

"Climbing cliffs… you're out of your mind if you think I would let Gracie do that. See what happened when you decided to climb a cliff? You broke your arm, and I had to rescue you," Danny pointed out logically, his face still twisted in an expression of utter annoyance.

"Well, I solved the case," Steve said, still smirking. "You just walked around smelling like a fishing boat for days." Mcgarrett's face was void of emotion, but Danny saw his lip twitch, and he knew he was holding back a laugh, and shaking his head, Danny groaned, and wrinkled his nose. Just another thing he hated about this god-forsaken pineapple infested hellhole; the overwhelming smell of fish that seemed to hover in the air everywhere he went.

"And your excuse was your broken arm," Steve raised an eyebrow as Danny shook a finger at him. "Next time, I don't care if you're missing an arm. You're doing the dirty work, brah." Anxious to change the subject, Danny glanced at the sky, and then turned back to Steve, squinting darkly at the amused expression his friend immediately concealed behind his usual mask of stoic indifference. "Are you ready to continue up the trail, or what?"

"Are you trying to change the subject, Danny?" Danny raised his eyes to the horizon in annoyance as Steve hesitated, his tone patronizing, and he drew out the last words slowly. "Because if talking about fish makes you uncomfortable…"

"No, I am not changing the subject, Steven," Danny growled stubbornly.

Steve's face was entirely too pleased to Danny's liking, and for the second time in 5 minutes, more than anything, he wanted to smack the smug expression off his partner's face as Steve said, "I think you are. You don't want to talk about it, do you?"

"And what if I don't want to talk about it, do you have a problem with that?"

Steve rolled his eyes. "No, but why are you denying that you're changing—"

"I am not denying anythi—"

"You most certainly are," Steve interrupted, narrowing his eyes threateningly at the blond man.

"I still don't think Gracie would like the woods."

"Jungle, Danny." Steve corrected, shaking his head in quiet amusement at Danny's blunder.


"It's a jungle, you know, the vines, exotic birds, and plants…"

"WHATEVER! Woods, jungle, forest, you know what I mean!" Danny yelled, exasperated at his partner's meticulous correction. "I'm her father, and I say she wouldn't like it." He set his jaw stubbornly, and adopted his usual expression when having a discussion with Steve: he glared.

"See, look, this is an argument," Steve pointed out rationally, referring to their previous conversation. He rose easily to his feet, brushed off his tan cargo pants, and situated the pack on his broad shoulders, rolling his corded muscles to work out the knots. "I'm not tackling you, am I?"

"I didn't say you would tackle me." Danny held up a finger, glad that he had never said those exact words, even though he had—

"You did infer it."

Danny glowered, and vocally denied his previous thought.

"I did no—"

"You did—"

"Steven, I did not." Danny raised his voice, and spoke firmly, but Steve grinned knowingly, his eyes alive with his typical wry humor.

"Fine. Whatever you say, Mr. Has-to-be-right." The SEAL shrugged, his lips set in a provokingly pleased expression, as he turned away.

"Shut up, Steven." Danny knew Steve had seen right through his obvious bluff, and it annoyed him. The man could be exasperatingly dense at times, but when it came to something Danny might, possibly, want to hide, his partner seemed to suddenly be more than usually attentive.

"She's a great a kid, though." Danny raised his head, and glanced at his friend, his mind trying to connect the dots of their previous conversation.


"Gracie," Steve raised an eyebrow, a slight smile touching his lips. "She's a good kid, Danny. You know that, right?"

"Of course I do, she is my daughter, Steven," Danny rolled his eyes, and glanced at the trail, but Steve still hadn't moved. "She's just like her mother…"

"She's quite a kid," Steve said earnestly, his voice serious. "And she has a wicked right hook." Danny glanced at Steve curiously, but genuine admiration was the only thing reflected in the SEAL's eyes.

Danny choked back a laugh. Only Steve Mcgarrett would be impressed by a 11-year-old girl punching a fellow student in the nose. True, Danny had been secretly proud of his daughter, when he learned that the reason she had come home with bruised knuckles and flushed cheeks was the direct result of standing up to bullies, but Steve was openly proud, while Danny tried to hide his fatherly pride with astonished indignation.

"I suppose she does," Danny sighed, worry clouding his brow as he frowned, picturing his daughter's small, honest face. "She's so much like her mother, you know. Rachel punched a boy in high school for tormenting her friend. She was suspended for a week."

"I heard you got in a few scuffles in school as well, Danno," said Steve, putting his thumbs under the straps of the backpack to relieve some of the pressure, and grinning lazily at the blond man.

"True," Danny said sheepishly, rubbing his hands through his hair, his frown darkening. "But I always lost. I made the mistake of standing up to football players, who were at least 6 inches taller than I was, and regularly went to the gym to work out."

Steve shook his head, and turned back the mountainous view. "Isn't it usually the other way around? Bigger guys picking on guys smaller than them?" He glanced over his shoulder at the smaller man and grinned. "I don't think the term "pick on someone your own size" would apply to you, Danny, unless it was in reference to saving your own skin."

"You know—you know what, Steven? Shut up."

Danny knew the ex-SEAL had never had much contact with younger children – there was a sad though understandable lack of children when one spends years in the Navy, and the only child Steve had really spent much time around was his younger sister, Mary whom he doted on.

The native-Jersey's face softened as he thought of the affection Gracie had for her "Uncle Steve". For all the man's cluelessness, he had a natural way with children; if you exclude the time he had nearly scared a little girl and her mother to death in the elevator when he had entered with his gun drawn, chasing a suspect. Danny chuckled as he recalled the expression on Steve's face when he'd told him what happened.

The two men were still for the next few minutes, as they stood in comfortable silence, breathing in the damp, jungle air. Danny knew there was no rushing a man like Steve, and he resigned himself to waiting until the SEAL was ready to leave; he didn't know the way, and he could already picture the resigned-but-secretly-amused expression Steve would have on his annoying stoic face if he went and got himself lost.

Just when Danny thought Steve had fallen asleep standing up, the ex-SEAL sighed, and turning around, took a step forward towards the trail. "Coming?"

"Of course I'm coming, what did you think, I was gonna stand here while you traipse all over the mountain, you Neanderthal animal? You'd probably find the only other available cliff, and jump off of it, just to spite me." Slightly embarrassed by his previous remarks, Danny stomped passed Steve, taking the lead. He would have to let the SEAL catch up and lead the way in a moment; but then again, Steve would have no trouble keeping up. He never did.