Pairing: Steve/Danny pre-slash or bromance; implied Steve/Catherine
Summary: Grace has questions about love. L.M. Montgomery is to blame. For shoot_the_curl.
Grace is reading Anne of Green Gables, or, rather, she's read Anne of Green Gables all the way through and is now devouring the entire Anne series with gusto. Danny thinks it's garbage, with entirely too much flowery language and dreamy nature appreciation, but Grace says he's "just like Aunt Marilla," whatever that means, and keeps on reading.
And one day she flops on Danny's bed upside down, Anne's House of Dreams pressed to her chest, and says, "Danno, what's it like to be in love?"
Danny drops the laundry he was folding and leaves it a white, crumpled mess on the floor. "What are you talking about? No falling in love for you until you're at least 30. There better not be some boy--"
Grace scoffs. "No boy. Duh. But this book. Oh, my God." She sighs dreamily and clutches the book to her heart. "It's so romantic."
"Let me see this." Danny picks it up from her hands like it's a dirty dishrag. She's dog-eared a page, and he unfolds it to peek underneath at the tight, tiny printing there. Someone named Owen is talking to someone named Leslie in a garden, and he's going on and on about flowers, roses actually, and how the colors mean the colors of love. "White roses are love dead or forsaken," he mutters as he reads aloud, "but the red roses--"
"Love triumphant!" Grace declares, arms outstretched, then swoons on the bed again.
"God, that's so cheesy."
"You used to get red roses for Mom on Valentine's day," Grace points out.
"Yeah, and look how triumphant that love was," Danny grumbles, too low for Grace to hear. Aloud, he says, "Yes, that was a long time ago. Don't you have homework to do?"
"So how did it feel?"
"Being in love."
"You're not supposed to be thinking about this yet."
Grace pouts. "Well, I am," she says, and the haughty, imperial tone is something she learned from her mother, that much is for sure.
Danny sighs and sits on the bed, pulling her up to sit beside him. "Love," he says slowly. "Love is like.. putting your finger over an open flame. It's dangerous, and it could hurt you, but it's also kind of exciting."
"That's stupid," Grace says, making a face. "That's not love."
"Oh, now you're the expert?" Danny shrugs. "All right, genius, you tell me. What is love supposed to be?"
"Well," Grace says, not getting the sarcasm at all and immediately fashioning herself an expert, "when you love somebody, you can't sleep because you want to be with them so, so much. That's why people who are married sleep in the same bed," she offers, wisely, and Danny nods as though he's finally been enlightened as to his own motives over the years. "And you think of them and think of them and think of them some more, and you want to give them red roses, but you can't unless they love you back."
"You are a very smart girl," Danny said, "but riddle me this, Batman, why are you asking me questions if you know it all?"
"I know what it is," Grace says, rolling her eyes. "I don't know how it feels."
"Oh." Danny cocks his head and tries to come up with a good explanation. He can't think of one offhand. He might have to consult an expert.
“That’s so cute." Kono puts a hand over her mouth to stifle her laughter.
Danny’s not amused. “What am I supposed to tell her?"
“You’re the pining loverboy," Chin says as he crosses the room, hauling a boxful of equipment that’s been delivered that morning. “Why can’t you tell her?"
“What am I supposed to tell her?" Danny sighs. “That love feels like having your guts ripped out through your spleen and then eaten in front of your eyes?"
“Love isn’t like that," Kono says reproachfully.
“Little you know."
“She’s right." Chin drops the box and comes back to the central table where Danny’s standing. ‘Love’s not like that. You’re hurting, so you’re not thinking about it straight. But come on, Danny. You remember what it was like. Back when it was new, when you were just starting to see forever together. When you realized having this person by your side, you feel the safest you ever felt." His eyes are starting to go dreamy, and Danny wants to stick two fingers in his mouth and make a gagging noise, but he can’t, because Chin’s so damn genuine when he talks about this stuff, and you can’t help but feel for the guy.
“It’s that feeling like you’re the lucky one, like this person is a saint to put up with you, even if you do a lot of putting up with them, too. Then they do something, just something little, and you think to yourself, this is fate."
“Wait, stop, I better start taking notes," Danny says, but then Steve is coming through the door with an armful of something bright red and stunning, and they’re all three of them lost for words, staring.
Steve realizes he’s being gawked at just short of the inner office’s door. “What?"
“Those for Catherine?" Danny says, reddening, not sure why. “Or from Catherine?"
“I just thought they’d brighten up the office." Steve looks affronted. “What’s that look for? It’s not as though they’re roses or anything. Can’t a guy like flowers?"
Kono stifles a snort of laughter. Chin looks away.
“Sure you can like flowers," Danny says, “it’s just, those-- those are very, very red."
“So’s your face," Steve returns, and Danny’s jaw scrapes the floor. This time both Kono and Chin burst into howls of laughter. Steve squints at them. “Any idea what they think is so damn funny?"
“Not a clue," Danny rejoins easily. “C’mon, I’ll help you get those in some water."
He ambles over, holds out his arms to receive the bouquet of bright tropical flowers as Steve eases away to grab a vase from under the sink. Their fragrance is as piercing and heady as their color, and Danny sniffs at them as he shoulders open the door to the office. Holding them, knowing Steve brought them in just out of nowhere, just to brighten up the place -- it makes him feel something weird. Something that pinches at his heart.
Steve comes through the door with the vase and they start cutting stems in tandem, quiet, arranging the flowers in the vase. They don’t have to talk, though snippets of conversation fade in and out along with the shifting sunshine. It’s comfortable here. Safe.
It’s odd, though. Steve comes in out of nowhere with red flowers, which he’s never done before, just after Danny’s had this whole discussion about red roses and the nature of love. It’s a weird coincidence.
Or maybe it’s fate.
Danny wishes he had actually taken notes on Chin’s definition of love. That, or he wishes he’d never heard it. Either way, he thinks he might have a better answer the next time Grace comes with questions.