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Title: The Garden of Steven
Author: [livejournal.com profile] kristen999
Pairing: Steve/Danny
Word Count: 2.5k
Rating: PG
Spoilers: None
Summary: If Danny's a little baffled by Steve's notions of R&R, well, he just wasn't expecting this...

Author's Notes Written for [livejournal.com profile] sheafrotherdon. Happy holidays! Prompt at the end.

Thank you to [livejournal.com profile] mischief5 for a wonderful and swift beta! Also a big shout out to my first-readers!



***



Sleeping in is a luxury, like a double mocha with whip cream or a three-day weekend with Grace. Every second should be savored, shared, except sharing requires snuggling up to the warm body that should be next to him, not an empty space.

It's seven in the morning, and Danny wants to pull the sheets over his head, stay in bed, but he can't. Not until he curses out the very person who traded early-morning nuzzles to the neck for a swim in the ocean. Throwing on a t-shirt, he pads downstairs, grumbling under his breath, and opens the French doors leading to the lanai – and freezes.

Steve is in the backyard, wearing a pair of cut-off cargo pants and a white sleeveless shirt, one hand gripping a roll of string and the other a can of spray paint. Danny opens his mouth, wanting to shout, 'what the hell are you doing?' Except Steve's eyebrows are furrowed in concentration, lips pursed together in deep thought as he unrolls a length of string, a string tied to a wooden stake in the middle of the grass.

Danny's curious, and when he's curious, he watches, studying Steve while he walks in a circle, spray-painting a white line as he goes. Not a rectangle or square. No. A circle. A perfect circle; it obviously can't be too oblong. Danny shakes his head in bemusement, secretly loving the way Steve applies geometry to something as mundane as yard work.

And he definitely admires the way Steve's arms stretch when he reaches for a shovel and stabs the pointed end into the ground, the shovel's face swinging sideways like a dozer blade, powered by his thighs.

Danny grips the door handle, grinning, because he likes this, likes watching Steve. His jaw tensed as he gives the shovel one more stomp before pulling it back, digging a trench around the outline, throwing the dirt into a pile in the center of the circle like he's fortifying a defensible position.

Steve's good with his hands and Danny loves the dichotomy they represent. They're fine-tuned instruments able to strip-clean any weapon or offer comfort with a gentle touch. And Danny stands there admiring them as Steve grabs a fifty pound plastic bag like it's nothing, slicing open a corner using one of his knives, pouring a steady stream of soil that kicks up dust everywhere. He crumples the empty bag, tossing it aside, wiping his hands down the front of his t-shirt and down the side of his shorts, spreading dirt all over his clothes.

The sight of Steve all disheveled and dirty sends a wave of heat down Danny's body and he starts walking outside in his bare feet, the grass squishing between his toes.

"It's Sunday morning, Steven. And Sunday mornings are meant for laying around in bed, long hot showers, and pancakes."

Steve looks up at him, lips quirked in a smile. "Really?"

"Yes, blueberry to be precise, with syrup and lots of powdered sugar." Danny comes to a stop within inches of Steve's goofy face. "And I'm talking about real buttermilk pancakes, not that whole wheat crap."

"It's spelt, actually," Steve says, smirking. "Did you really come out here to complain about pancakes?"

Danny doesn't answer right away, completely distracted by a streak of black dirt smudged across Steve's left cheek, at the specs of dirt sprinkled in his hair.

"No, I came out here because when I flipped over, there was big empty spot where you should have been, and instead of enjoying a day off without worrying about an alarm clock, or calls from work, I dragged myself out of bed to discover you...playing in the dirt."

"It's called a garden."

"A garden?"

No one looks at Danny the way Steve does, all warm and fond and cheeky. "Yeah, you know. Where things grow."

But Danny invented playful mocking; he's a master. "I am well aware what a garden is, but gardens involve living things, things that require nurturing, care and..."

"And what?" Steve asks, crossing his arms across his chest.

"Patience, Steven."

"I have patience."

"Um, no. You have zero patience," Danny mocks, curling his pointer finger and thumb into a circle to emphasize his point. "And that is nothing but a large clump of dirt."

Steve huffs out an indignant breath. "This happens to be the beginning of a flowerbed. With an equal amount of mushroom compost and organic potting mix to go with the top layer of the native soil."

Despite his annoyance, Danny can't help smirking at the seriousness in which Steve cares about dirt and compost ratios. "Did they teach horticulture in SEAL school?"

Steve rolls his eyes and doesn't answer, bending over to inspect a cornucopia of supplies neatly arranged in piles, his shirt riding up and showing off a strip of tanned skin. Danny has to bite his bottom lip because it's really not fair, because it looks like Steve raided a midnight sale at Home and Garden and he's like a guided missile when it comes to chores.

Steve wanders back over, preoccupied with removing the cap to a bottle something that reeks to high heaven.

"Um...please don't tell me that's some type of high-grade cow mature?" Danny asks, waving a hand over his nose.

"No, it's fish emulsion."

"Oh, even better."

But Steve ignores him, pouring liquefied fish remains over the mound like some giddy kid.

"We have the next four days off. As in a row," Danny reminds him, but Steve grabs a rake and starts dragging it from the center of the bed toward the front. "We're supposed to be relaxing. Governor's orders."

"Uh-huh," Steve says, moving the rake an inch at a time until the whole mound is smooth. "I call this relaxing."

"No, your definition of relaxing is swimming for ten miles or running up a mountain."

Steve chucks the rake to the ground. "Are you going to stand there all day or are you going to help?"

"No," Danny huffs.

Steve moves toward a pile of bricks and starts stacking them around the newly formed flowerbed and Danny mutters under his breath, grabbing several to help. "You are aware that I'm in my bare feet out here?"

"Then don't drop anything on your toes."

Of course, Steve's in flip-flops; Danny's surprised he didn't pull out the big guns for Operation Flower Bed by wearing boots. "I could be under the covers right now," he grumbles, kneeling down on the ground, getting his shorts grimy.

Together they build a retaining wall, Steve checking each brick, assuring they fit perfectly to protect the fledgling soil from spilling out.

By the time they're done, Danny's hot and sticky and he wipes at his forehead with the back of his hand. He glances over, eyes trailing over Steve's dirt-stained shirt, at the sweat dripping down the hollow of his throat, and Danny gets ideas, ideas about steaming water and soap-sudded hands.

He licks his lips. "Well, this was fun. And if we hurry inside, like right now, I was thinking we could conserve water by taking a shower and you know –"

"We need to plant the seedlings."

Steve takes off before Danny can seduce him with promises of back massages and other things. He shakes his head in frustration because Steve has a one-track mind, sensors locked on target, although Danny knows if he really tried, he could easily veer him off-course.

Grabbing one of Steve's water bottles, he takes a sip, surveying the collection of tools, wondering what time Steve got up, because this took predawn planning and he wonders if Steve even slept last night.

The sound of clanking metal interrupts his musings and Steve comes around the corner with a wheel barrel, pushing the thing way too fast, the goof, until bringing it to a stop next to Danny. "Come on, help me unload these."

Danny doesn't bitch about Steve's assumption that he actually wants to work, because as much as he enjoys ranting at him, he likes it more when Steve is happy.

Steve pulls out some of the tiny plants from their plastic containers and curiosity gets the best of Danny. "What kind are these?"

"Bird of Paradise."

But Danny is drawn toward Steve's hands again: hands that can break people's necks are carefully cradling a seedling against his chest.

Danny swallows, his voice only half-pitched normal. "Those the bright blue flowers?"

"Yeah, with orange crests that reassembles a bird."

Danny nods and gestures at the other collection of plants in the wheel barrel. "And those?"

"Hibiscus. I bought ones that should bloom a rose pink; the mix of colors should be really cool." Steve's gaze skips across the fresh mound and goes off into the distance. "You know, something to enjoy after work, when you need to tune the rest of the world out."

Danny can read Steve like an open book and he swallows down a sigh. "Okay, then chop-chop. This garden isn't going to plant itself." Steve glances up at him, a smile tugging on his lips, and Danny waves a hand over the ground. "Is there some super-secret pattern we should use?"

Steve grabs a trowel and lays it next to the bed. "We should start a row around the perimeter of the bed and stagger the plants toward the inside of the perimeter row, and so on toward the center until the bed is full."

"Then what? Because that sounds too easy and I still see bags of stuff in the wheel barrel."

"Then we'll fertilize."

Danny notices the price printed on the outside of one of the white bags, blinking at the double digits and whistles. "Okay, I could perhaps, maybe, pay that much per pound for a tasty steak, but plant food?"

"Cheap fertilizer is not good and good fertilizer is not cheap," Steve says, holding out a finger in declaration. "This has a combo of Epsom salt, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium content."

"Sounds more like a recipe for a bomb," Danny mumbles. He ignores the gleam in Steve's eyes.

Steve kneels down in the dirt and Danny kneels next to him, ignoring the heat of Steve's skin as their arms brush against each other.

"So where did you learn to garden?"

Steve carefully rests the seedling onto the outside edge of the bed. "When I was in Ramstein."

"You were stationed in Germany?" Danny asks surprised.

"No, but I spent time in a hospital there," Steve says off-highhandedly, tracing a circle in the dirt with his fingertips.

Danny knows every inch of Steve's skin, every scar, but he won't push. "Were you there long?"

"Over a week." Steve splays his fingers, sinking them into the soil. "But I met some other guys there who'd been there a lot longer."

"And you bonded with them over gardening?"

Steve digs a hole with his hand, the trowel abandoned next to his knee. "Yeah. Landstuhl served as a rehabilitation center for those who needed long-term care before being transported to the states. The hospitals had a lot of grounds. Some of the guys were allowed to keep gardens; it was actually encouraged." He finishes the first hole and starts tracing the next circle. "After weeks of staring at sand, all those greens, pinks, purples...they were..."

"Relaxing," Danny says with a smile.

Steve looks up at him, surprised. "Yeah."

Danny doesn't think about the last four days or the case; he blocks it out, tries to move on, but they all have their ways.

"When we're done fertilizing, we're having pancakes and I won't take no for an answer."

"Deal." Steve gives Danny a mischievous smile. "And a shower. A long one."

"Until all the hot water runs out," Danny says, his voice heavy.

Steve's eyes go from swirls of green to a liquid blue; Danny could drown in them.

"But first we need to prepare the roots before planting them," Steve says.

"Oh, yeah?" Danny growls deep in his throat. "Care to demonstrate?"

Steve scoops up his seedling and presses it into Danny's palm, his fingers encompassing Danny's hand. "It's all about loosening the ball and giving the roots room to breathe."

Danny's throat goes dry, his skin tingling from the press of Steve's hand as they lower the seedling into the hole. It's like Steve can't wait and he raises his hands, running soil-greased fingers down Danny's cheeks, pressing his lips against Danny's.

And Danny meets the kiss with vigor, grabbing Steve's shoulders to practically pull him into his lap, outlining the inside of Steve's mouth with his tongue until he gasps for breath.

"You know swimming builds better lung capacity," Steve teases before nibbling Danny's earlobe.

Danny gasps at the sensation of teeth as Steve decides to climb on top of him, never mind that he weighs over a hundred and seventy pounds. Danny stares up into Steve's eager eyes, caressing the outline of his jaw with his finger and over a smudge of dirt.

"So after we plant the seedling, then what?" he asks teasingly.

"We set up a hose system for a drip method," Steve says his cheeks flushed.

"Guess a sprinkler system is too easy?"

"Those are for lawns." Steve leans closer, his breath hot on Danny's face. "Not raised vegetable beds."

"Last I checked, this was a flowerbed, Steven."

"We have four days." Steve gives him with a wicked grin. "We'll plant the vegetables tomorrow."

"Not tomorrow," Danny growls, running a hand over Steve's hip. "Because tomorrow, we're not getting out of bed."

***
Fini-

Prompt: Steve and Danny (or Steve/Danny, your choice!): one of them being super competent at something the other didn't expect, with happy / bantery / potentially making-out-y consequences.
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