Between the two of them, Chin and Danny had been working on this for months: back stories and dummy bank accounts, falsified internet search results and carefully planted rumours. Danny was both impressed with what Chin could create on a computer, and a little scared—it was like that cheesy Sandra Bullock movie from the 90s, but in reverse. Instead of making it so that a person didn't exist, Chin had created someone out of thin air: a middling New Jersey mobster who'd recently started moving up the ranks, who was looking to expand into the drug smuggling operations centred on Hawaii, who just happened to look shockingly like one Daniel Michael Williams.
They'd sent out feelers a while ago, bounced through a series of contacts, and finally heard back—an invitation for Daniel Rosso and his plus one to attend some informal get-togethers with several interested parties to be held in Wailea in a couple of weeks time; a suggestion that perhaps the dealers might be interested in doing some business with the up-and-coming Danny Rosso.
“Hey, Kono!” Danny yelled across the office when the invite came in, “You wanna tie the knot?”
Kono looked up from cleaning her gun, flashed him a bright grin, batted her eyelashes. “Gee, Danny, this is all so sudden!”
The governor gave her reluctant blessing, Kono was in, Chin had contingency plans for his emergency procedures. It was all coming together, and the anticipation of a big stakes bust like this was just starting to overcome Danny's dislike of leaving Gracie for two, maybe three, weeks when the inevitable happened. This being Danny's life, and his life being shit, Kono decided to live up to her billing as Steve McGarrett's craziest protégé and took a header off a roof while tackling a jewel thief. She caught the jewel thief, but broke her left leg in two places and the doctors flat-out refused to let her do anything more energetic than paperwork for the next couple months—even when Kono asked them real nice.
So no Kono, no Mrs Claudia Rosso. No Mrs Rosso, no in person backup for Danny should the shit hit the fan, and one rather obvious wrinkle in Chin's carefully concocted cover story.
"All of which," Danny said, leaning back in his desk chair, "leads me to conclude that this bust is over before it even begins. On the downside, this means those bastards get to walk around free for several more months, and this wrecks the nice little case closure tally we've been running up since we established the Five-Oh. On the other hand, it's also probably the only case I've been on here that hasn't involved me getting shot at, so I suppose I'll take that as a win."
Chin snorted into his cup of coffee. "Well, the basic cover story's still in place. We can just get back in touch with them, say that some complications have arisen in New Jersey, and in a little while we—"
Steve shifted his weight to his other leg, made a face like he'd smelled something unpleasant. "So we let the whole cartel keep going for how much longer? They're only together in the islands for a couple of weeks every year. We miss the chance now, it might be next year before we can get to them."
Danny spread his arms wide. "Unless you want to some magic some admissible evidence into existence, McGarrett—"
"—Steve, then I think that's as good as we're going to get. It's frustrating, it's irritating, but welcome to the reality of police work—sometimes, shit does not go our way. Sometimes, things do not blow up! An epiphany for you, no doubt, a brand new concept for your brain to process, but sometimes things cannot be done."
"Maybe." Steve's jaw worked. "You didn't put up anything online about who this Rosso guy is supposed to be married to, right?"
Chin shook his head. "Just that he's been with someone for a while, they've been married a couple of years—I left some gaps in on purpose. Didn't want to make them suspicious."
"You got someone else in mind?" Danny asked. He'd met one or two friends of Steve's from the Navy who'd come through Honolulu on leave—maybe that lieutenant, Catherine, would be willing to step in. Danny didn't think she'd be as fearless with a sniper rifle as Kono, but she was smart, she was attractive, and going by Steve's account, she had a mean right hook—pretty ideal for a job like this.
"Yeah," Steve said, folding his arms across his chest. He had that pre-emptively defensive look on his face, the one he always seemed to get just before informing the governor about a new bomb crater downtown. "Me."
Danny was pretty sure he felt a vessel burst in his head somewhere—maybe one of the ones that supplied blood to the linguistic centre of his brain, because all he could do was open and close his mouth weakly. Chin spluttered coffee across the desk, and then started to laugh so hard he developed a case of the hiccups.
"What?" Steve said. "What?"
"Uh," Chin said when he'd recovered enough to speak. There was a look of pure glee on his face, like all his Christmases had come at once; Danny knew he was never, ever going to live this down. "If you two would just excuse me for a moment, I have to send a quick text message to Kono."
Danny dropped his head back against his chair. "How is this my life?" he asked the ceiling, before he sat back up. "Okay," he said to Steve, "Let me explain this to you in small words. The plan is that I go undercover as an underworld kingpin from New Jersey—that I am a member of the Mafia, La Cosa Nostra, the guys who wave cigars around and speak in ominous euphemism and resolve conflict by shooting people in the kneecaps. I cannot show up there with a husband in tow."
Steve shrugged. "So we say we had a weekend in Massachusetts. Or Iowa. It happens."
Danny boggled. "Iowa?"
"What?" Steve said. "Nice people, good college football team. Make a decent pie."
"Jesus Christ," Danny said. "Shoot me. Shoot me now, because no, no, and no. That is not going to happen."
And that was how Daniel Rosso got hitched to John Smith.
("That is a stupid fucking name," Danny said. "Who the hell names their kid John Smith? No one, that's who."
"It fits with the back story I've created," Steve said, grinning like the unrepentant jackass he was. "I'm Method—have this whole characterisation going in my head."
"I hate you so much," Danny said. "So much."
"This couple's bickering is making me uncomfortable," Chin said. "Such a shame, for newly weds.")
They cleared the Five-O's schedule for the next few weeks. Danny got to feel like a jackass for lying to his kid about why he wouldn't see her, but he was proud of the way Gracie was clearly more than a little suspicious of the fact that Danno and Uncle Steve were just going to make sure that the dolphin populations off the North Shore were okay.
"I feel like a jerk," Danny sighed as he and Steve walked out of headquarters later that evening. "I feel like the world's worst person—here I am, lying to my daughter about where I'm going and what I'm doing, especially when, because you are coming along for the ride, there is a small-to-significant chance that the next time I see Gracie, I'm going to be missing a limb. And then what do I tell her: sorry, monkey, there was this bad-tempered dolphin and it bit off my leg? Because then Grace ends up with a maimed father and a dolphin phobia, and I don't think there's enough therapy in the world to—"
Kono took that opportunity to hobble out from behind a convenient pillar and dump a box of confetti on them. Steve got a couple of flakes on his shoulders which he shrugged off, grinning; Danny, because the universe hated him, got most of it on top of his head, and looked like he'd developed an unfortunate case of multicoloured dandruff. "You lovebirds have fun!" she said, dimpling. "Chin's just finished photoshopping together your wedding photos right now—he's going to upload them to some dummy Facebook accounts. They're adorable."
"I wish to retract my previous statement," Danny said. "I cannot possibly be the world's worst person while Kono is around."
Daniel Rosso was not the kind of person to carry his own bags, so their luggage had been sent on ahead, the tags carefully tampered with to look like they'd originated in Newark. Danny and Steve—"John," Steve corrected him solemnly; Danny was already starting to wish he'd remembered to bring some ibuprofen with him, to counteract the headache he'd no doubt be nursing for the next few days—would follow afterwards, in a private helicopter Chin had chartered to take them to Maui. When they climbed on board Danny was wearing a suit that Kono had helped procure from God knew where, but which he suspected probably cost what he spent on his apartment each month. It was well tailored, with just a hint of flash in the cut of the lapels, the colour of his tie—the suit of a man who'd once been a poor kid, who'd done well and wanted you to know it.
Steve slouched beside him in the helicopter, looking like Johnny Cash's hot, weird, younger cousin—black sunglasses, black pants, black shirt with the sleeves rolled up and with one more button opened than was strictly classy. Danny spent most of the flight watching Steve watch the waves, the sunset, feeling the first shivers of adrenaline through his system. Danny'd done undercover once or twice before back in Jersey, but never anything long term, never anything with stakes this high—busted a couple of chop shops, a pawn shop owner who was doing double duty as a fence for stolen goods—never tried to bring down an international drugs syndicate. And even on those stings, Danny had what felt like half the cops in New Jersey monitoring him, watching his back, ready to jump in if Danny messed up or got made—this time, it was him and whatever smarts he could muster; it was Chin and Kono, brilliant and dependable and a whole island away from him; it was him and crazy Steve McGarrett, who'd offered to pretend to be Danny's husband like it was no big deal.
The chopper started to descend, coming in for a landing on a helipad at the main airport on Maui. Steve looked over at him and smiled—not the overly-bright grin he sported most of the time, the one that spoke of probable issues with stability and common sense and not keeping a spare hand grenade in the glove compartment of Danny's car—but the oddly generous, open smile that Danny sometimes saw Steve direct at him, the one Danny still couldn't quite work out. "Okay, Danno?" Steve asked him over the roar of the engines.
"Super!" Danny said, and really, he was screwed so many ways from Sunday he didn't think he could count them all.
They were met at the airport by a tall, skinny driver who was holding up a sign that said "The Rosso's" in large lettering.
Danny winced when he saw it. "See that, that kills me right there," he said without thinking, gesturing at the sign, "Incorrect use of apostrophes; the outright abuse of plural nouns."
"Sorry, Mr Rosso," the driver said, and Danny didn't miss the flicker of fear in his eyes. It made him feel a little bad—he didn't mean anything by it; he wasn't going to get physical with the poor guy over something like grammar—but at least it told him that the rumours Chin had started to spread had found their target. Daniel Rosso was a mean son of a bitch, the kind of guy who wouldn't think anything of taking his temper out on whomever happened to be standing by.
Daniel Rosso was also not a genial sort of guy, so Danny didn't ask for the driver's name, say hi, how you doing, just let him lead them outside to where a sleek grey limo was waiting. Danny and Steve slid into the back, which was so opulent it made Steve slouch even more, and Danny feel like he shouldn't touch anything for fear of leaving fingerprints. The driver kept the privacy screen up, but Danny didn't feel like it was safe to talk—who knew, this thing might be bugged—so he settled for raising his eyebrows at Steve, a gesture which meant do you believe this?
Steve scrunched up his face in response, which Danny guessed meant something like no, but they're clearly trying to impress you, to get you on board; let's go with it, or maybe I'm hungry. Sometimes, with Steve, it was hard to tell.
They were driven to a beach-front estate on the southern end of Wailea, the kind of place that only the criminally wealthy could afford. The limo pulled in through private gates and lush greenery, rounding a corner to reveal a low, plantation-style house with a lanai that wrapped around all four sides; beyond it stretched the purpling evening sky. "The house has been reserved for the duration of your stay here, with Mr Sorensen's compliments," the driver said. "Your luggage has been left in, uh, your bedroom." Danny had to give credit to the kid—he'd only given one quick, nervous glance at Steve when he'd said that, and it was hard to tell if it was caused by a nasty little streak of homophobia, or if he'd just picked up on Steve's general ambient aura of freakery. Steve didn't react, just looked blank-faced and stoic behind his sunglasses.
Danny made a show of looking at the exterior of the house, then shrugging, deliberately blasé. "It'll do." He pulled out his wallet, took out a hundred dollar bill and tossed it at the driver, hoping like hell that he'd be able to finagle that as a business expense if and when he ever got around to writing up the paperwork for this case. Cops were not the kind of people who got to live large. "We'll see your boss tomorrow morning, huh?"
"Yes sir, Mr Rosso, the car will be here for you at nine," and if you couldn't quite make a high-speed getaway in a limo, the driver sure made a damned good attempt.
Danny waited until the taillights had vanished down the driveway, then turned to Steve and said, "Can you fucking believe this?" They walked around the house to the beach side, and were greeted with a scene out of the Decadence of the Month Club or something, Danny didn't even know—there was a deck with a fire pit, a hot tub, an outdoor kitchen, what looked like a lounge area with an honest to god bed, a pool so big you could hold Olympic trials in it. Danny gaped, and then gaped a little more when they went into the actual house. Each of the four bedrooms was bigger than the last, the living room had a cathedral ceiling and the largest flat screen TV Danny had ever seen in his life, and the shower in the master bathroom was easily as big as Danny's whole apartment. The kitchen was all stainless steel and imported granite, and looked like it could cater for a small platoon if required.
"Well," Steve said, "looks like they're trying to woo you."
"Consider me wooed and won, my friend," Danny said, looking down at the floor and wondering if it really was imported Italian marble, "wooed and won."
"I feel so slighted," Steve said wryly, "and on our honeymoon, too."
Steve pulled out the little gadget Chin had given them, with patient instructions on how to use it and very explicit warnings that these things were expensive and could Steve please not crush it, thanks. He used it to sweep the house for listening devices or any other kind of bugs, but came up clean—Sorensen and Associates apparently weren't that particular kind of crooked, though Danny wasn't going to rely on being able to speak with any kind of freedom on their home turf. Reassured that they weren't being monitored, Steve put in a quick call to Chin, let him and Kono know they were okay so far, then stuck the phone back in his pocket.
"So," Steve said.
Danny looked at the microwave clock. It was just past eight in the evening, and now it seemed like they had nothing to do before the next morning, at the earliest. "Kind of anti-climactic, huh?"
One corner of Steve's mouth curled upward, sly. "I always worried this was how our married life would end up."
Danny's stomach rumbled, so he shrugged out of his suit jacket and wandered over to inspect the fridge. He was hoping for maybe some frozen pizza, maybe a welcoming fruit basket or two. Instead— "Holy shit. Is that Kobe beef?"
Forget about just being big enough to serve a platoon, the kitchen clearly had enough food to do it. The fridge looked like a farmer's market had exploded inside it—fruits and vegetables Danny didn't even think he knew the names of, couple of different cuts of steak, high-end beers—and there was a little part of Danny that was starting to think he was in the wrong profession. He snagged a package of steaks, and smacked at the back of Steve's hand when he reached for a beer. "Not on a job, genius," Danny said, which made Steve pout, which meant that Danny didn't have it in him to refuse when Steve's fallback option turned out to be iced tea.
They went outside and grilled the meat until it had just about stopped mooing—Danny's preference—and ate while the sky faded to black. Danny talked about what they were likely to experience tomorrow morning, knew he was chattering, but figured it was a better way to work off the nerves than going and finding something convenient to shoot, or calling Rachel and goading her into an argument for old time's sake. Steve said little, but there was a certain quality—a certain je ne sais quoi, if you would—to the way he squinted down at his food that said that he was feeling a little on edge, too.
"I could get used to this," Danny said when he was finally full. He poked at his belly with one finger. He was pretty sure that he had one of those distended stomach things going on, like snakes got when they ate a whole gazelle in one sitting and then had to lapse into a coma for a couple of days in order to recover—and that thought, right there, told him that he had to stop letting Gracie and Kono trick him into watching really horrifying nature documentaries on the Discovery Channel. It was definitely time to turn in—"You do need your beauty sleep," Steve said solemnly, and Christ, sometimes punching Steve in the side was like hitting a wall—and they ambled back into the house, dumped the plates in the dishwasher, went in search of the bedrooms.
"Hey," Danny said, feeling generous. All the beds were stupidly huge, but Steve was the one who was unnecessarily tall, and the main bed had to be at least two, three acres across. "Why don't you take the master? This one across the hall here is fine for me, I can just—"
Steve's forehead collapsed into a frown. "I don't know if that's such a good idea."
"What," Danny said, spreading his arms wide, "I can't be the bigger person here for once? Metaphorically, McGarrett, do not make that dumb crack that I know you're going to make."
Steve made Aneurysm Face. "It's not that, Danno. Just, you know—a place this size, kept this well-stocked? There's gotta be staff. They find out that a second bed's been slept in, our cover's blown."
Danny blinked at him. "You're suggesting we should share the bed in there?"
Steve shrugged, stuck his hands in his pockets, looked vaguely unsure of himself for a reason Danny couldn't quite figure. "It's smarter. Plus, they've put both our luggage in there, and it'll be easier for us to get dressed in the morning. And this shower's the awesome one, with all the jets."
Danny considered for a moment, then said, "Sure, okay, fine," because what Steve was saying made actual rational sense for once, and that should always be encouraged. Besides, you could probably play football on that bed—there'd definitely be enough room for the two of them. "Just as long as you don't snore."
"No snoring, I promise," Steve said, holding up his hands in mock surrender—and there was a little something there that niggled at the back of Danny's consciousness, something about the way Steve had switched so quickly from nervous tension to a tentative smile, but it was getting late and Danny was tired, so he settled for getting ready for bed.
Kono and Chin clearly had some kind of practice at preparing for stuff like this that Danny didn't want to think about too much. Their suitcases were packed with a selection of clothing—more crisp suits; designer jeans and soft-looking shirts; underwear and thin cotton pyjama pants—all of it looking expensive, all of it carefully arranged so that some pieces looked brand new, others a little worn, one or two of the boxers downright ratty. "You know," Danny said, digging for a pair of pyjama pants that weren't clearly designed to fit Steve—and really, who needed legs that long, it was wasteful—"one of these days, we're going to wake up and find out that Kono's taken over the world while we slept."
"You sure that hasn't happened already?" Steve called over his shoulder as he vanished into the bathroom.
"The man has a valid point," Danny said.
Steve washed up first, then Danny. By the time Danny emerged from the bathroom, feeling a little stunned—and hey, why lie to himself here, maybe even a little turned on—by the jets in the shower, which offered a hundred eighty degree coverage, six different pressure settings, and deep tissue massage, there was already a Steve-shaped lump beneath the covers. Danny clambered in next to him and launched an excavation project to unearth the goose-down pillows from beneath what seemed like a hundred million tiny, pointless cushions.
"Who needs these?" he asked the room at large, "What is the purpose of these things, why do interior designers seem to love them so much, oh my god. They're too small to cushion the head, they provide no lumbar support, they—"
Steve rolled over, cracked open an eyelid, looking grumpy and sleepy, rubbing at the line of stubble on his jaw with one thumb. He smelled, Danny noted, like soap and water. "Danny. Are you ranting to me about cushions? At eleven o'clock at night in the middle of an undercover op?"
Danny opened his mouth, closed it, opened it again. "No?"
"Well good," Steve said dryly, and he was such a smug bastard, "because I would be a little worried about you if you were. Just so you know."
"Go fuck yourself," Danny said.
Steve wriggled down a little further under the covers. "G'night, Danno," he said, closing his eyes, and Danny watched him for a moment or two—the dark fan of lashes on his cheeks, the slackening line of his mouth—before he mumbled "Night, Steve", and fell asleep to the sound of the waves outside, the sounds of Steve breathing gently beside him.
Because Steve was some stupid ninja SEAL robot, he was awake at the ass-crack of dawn, rolling out of bed and padding down the hallway, whistling some horrifyingly cheerful tune. Because Danny was sane, because he needed sleep to function, because he was not a stupid ninja SEAL robot, he rolled over and stuck his head underneath a pillow. Sadly, Steve had some understanding of how best to tempt Danny—he'd rustled up some coffee from somewhere, figured out the space-age machine in the kitchen, and soon the smell of Kona was wafting down the hallway and into the bedroom.
Danny couldn't resist fresh-brewed coffee, and Steve knew it. He pulled the pillow off his head with a sigh, grumbled to himself as he walked down the hallway and into the kitchen, pointed at Steve and said, "I hate you. Give me the coffee."
"Morning, sunshine," Steve said because he was obnoxious and hateful and yet, Danny was forced to concede, could make a pretty fucking good cup of coffee. "That is some superior bed head you've got going on there. Want some waffles?"
"Steve," Danny said, sitting down at the breakfast bar and waving a fork at him, "is there ever a time the answer to that question has been 'no'? Ever? In, like, the whole history of the human race?"
Steve answered by dropping a platter of waffles in front of him, and lit up a little when Danny tried to say, "These are really good" around a full mouthful of food and syrup.
"So how are we going to play this?" Danny said as he drained the last of his coffee, feeling a little more human already. "I mean, depends what Sorensen is like when we meet him, but you want to be good cop, bad cop, what? Clearly I'm the talker in this relationship, but do you—"
Steve raised an eyebrow at him, said, "Why don't we just act the same as always?"
"The same as always," Danny said flatly. "But gay."
Steve flashed an insufferable, shit-eating grin at him, thumped him on the shoulder hard enough that Danny almost coughed his waffles back up—hard enough to make Danny start wondering about some stuff again, because there was a little more force behind that than strictly necessary. "Exactly. That's the spirit," he said. "Now come on, get dressed. Car'll be here soon, and we have to get you all gussied up."
"Gussied, he says," Danny grumbled, trailing back along the corridor behind Steve, watching Steve stretch out his arms and upper back, "like this is 1956 or something."
He consented to Steve picking his clothes for the day. Steve was in all black once more—black cargo pants, tight black t-shirt, black flip-flops—but Danny looked like a guy who'd never heard of the idea of a low-key vacation. The shorts were okay, fine, unexceptional, but he had to wear black socks with his sandals, two signet rings, and a Hawaiian shirt so bright that he almost gave himself a migraine when he caught sight of himself in the mirror. "Even Chin wouldn't wear this," Danny said, tugging at the collar in a vain attempt to make himself look a little more professional. "I cannot believe you are making me wear this. No, what am I saying, you're probably getting off on putting me in something this ridiculous." He longed for a tie—not that it would look at all appropriate with this outfit, but it would make him feel like he was actually out here to do a job. "Also, should I ask," he said as he strapped it on around his wrist, "how the hell Chin got his hands on a Rolex for me to wear."
Steve shrugged. "Don't ask, don't tell."
"Ha ha," Danny said. "A little situational humour, I see."
The limo was outside bang on the stroke of nine and brought them the short distance up the road to Sorensen's estate. If Danny thought the house they were staying in was luxurious, Sorensen's house was palatial—he tried his best not to stare at it as they approached, but it was difficult. There were probably European countries that were smaller than the house, let alone its grounds, and Danny realised all over again just how difficult this bust was going to be—if Sorensen had managed to evade the IRS while living in this, without bothering with any attempt at a legitimate business front, the guy had to be good, or notoriously violent, or both.
The door was opened by an honest-to-god butler dressed up like a penguin, who ushered them through a series of rooms that seemed to have no other function than to convey the fact that Mikael Sorensen had a very enormous penis. Finally they were led out onto a large lanai, where a group of people was already assembled. Danny could ID them all from the prep work he'd done with Chin, from the files they'd retrieved from Interpol—Sorensen himself, in his sixties, cadaverous and with a leathery tan; Cai Wen, tall and model good-looking and reputed to own a good chunk of Hong Kong; Sunitha Rajiv, who'd inherited her husband's business empire after his death, which had apparently come as no surprise to her; Henry Murray, who had a healthy splash of freckles across his much-broken nose and who popped up in the tabloids every now and then, referred to coyly as an “entrepreneur” and dating some C-List Hollywood starlet. There were a handful of guys dotted around the perimeter of the lanai, big guys in jackets that didn't fit their shoulders quite right, who were obviously security; a couple of good-looking women in flimsy sundresses and high heels who had to be girlfriends or something.
Sorensen didn't stand to greet them, but urged them to sit down, had drinks brought, gave off every impression of genial hospitality in a voice that barely had a trace of a Gothenburg accent anymore. "We're glad you could join us for this get-together, Mr Rosso," Sorensen said. "We've heard some interesting things about your business interests on the east coast. As you know, our group is interested in expanding there."
"So I heard," Danny said, and shit, Sorensen was one of those people who spoke in euphemisms. That was going to make it harder to get anything more than circumstantial stuff on tape. He sat back in his chair, thickening his accent, making sure to keep his legs spread wide, his chest puffed out a little bit, his arm gestures as big and expansive as he could make them. He felt a little like he'd walked into a Goodfellas parody, but what the hell—none of them seemed suspicious so far, and Danny'd busted enough small-time mobsters to know that delusions of grandeur were a common trait. "And we're grateful for your hospitality out here—sure beats Hoboken in February, am I right?"
Sorenson and Rajiv did most of the talking, Danny drawing them out with carefully placed details about the kinds of services his people could provide them at the docks. He was never so grateful that his asshole of a father had been Irish—Danny had the genetic gift of plausible bullshit and was working it the best he knew how. Cai Wen looked bored by it all, more interested in the cleavage of the redhead sitting opposite him, but Murray spent most of his time staring fixedly at Steve, like he wanted to bore a hole in his skull with his glare alone. Danny watched Steve out of the corner of his eye as much as he dared, but Steve gave no sign that he'd noticed anything out of the ordinary—just sat sipping at his glass of whiskey, picking at the bowl of cashews on the table in front of them, every now and then leaning in to Danny a little, letting their hands brush.
"So," Murray said, breaking into a partially fictional anecdote Danny was telling about some nuns and a strip club, "you and—" He gestured at Steve without looking at him.
"You and John, here. You've been… married for a while?"
"A while," Danny said, "yeah," favouring Murray with the kind of grin that Rachel said had been one of her top ten reasons for divorcing him. Murray had a good ole boy Southern drawl and a look on his face like someone had just taken a dump underneath his nose; he looked like the kind of guy who'd think it was a-okay to sneer at people and call them faggots, and maybe Danny had one or two issues with that. Okay, maybe Danny had a lot of issues with that—and just maybe being Daniel Rosso, the guy who had several former competitors enjoying their eternal rest in the foundations of a number of high-rise buildings in and around Manhattan, wouldn't be so bad when Danny had to be around Henry Murray.
"I see," Murray said, taking another drink of his beer.
"You have a problem with my husband?" Danny said, because what the hell, he was going to push this—Rosso wouldn't be diplomatic.
Murray's eyes flickered over Steve briefly; dismissive. The expression on Steve's face didn't change from blandly polite, but Danny could feel the way the long muscles of Steve's legs tensed up just that little bit, like he was bracing himself for a fight. "I'm sure he's... very nice," Murray said. "But I'm just wondering how much we can rely on two queers from Jersey—"
"Mr Murray," said Rajiv, sounding every inch a disapproving grandmother, looking at him over the tops of her glasses. "This is not appropriate."
"—to be people we want to bring into this association. We got here by being strong, by being effective, not by being some kind of..."
"What?" Danny said, leaning forward, because okay, he was no Steve McGarrett here, not someone who'd rush into the path of any fight just because, but he wasn't one to avoid a fight either. "Some kind of pussy? Some limp-wristed cocksucker, who can't take care of business, is that what you take me for? Pardon my language, Mrs Rajiv, ma'am."
She pursed her lips but said nothing.
"I think," Sorensen said, shifting in his chair, "that we can more profitably use our time by—"
Danny held up a hand. "No, no, if this is what Murray thinks of me, this is something we're going to have to clear up before we go any further. You want me to put my neck on the line for the sake of business, I'm willing to do that. No one's ever said Danny Rosso isn't able to get shit done. But I'm not about to go out there, to risk my people for someone who don't respect me and mine, understood?"
"I think that is reasonable," Sorensen said, steepling his fingers together. If Danny hadn't known for a fact that he had a nasty habit of feeding his opposition to sharks—and not the non-man-eater kind, a la Steve McGarrett—he could easily have mistaken Sorensen for some kind of benevolent preacher. "Henry?"
Murray glared at Danny. Danny grinned back, fantasised about punching him right across his nose, and said, "I don't have to like you to do business with you, Murray. I'm a businessman; I can put the deal first. But I don't got to let you disrespect me or my marital bond, you understand? Besides"—he jerked a thumb in Steve's direction—"have you seen John here? No, really. I don't know what kind of stereotypes you've got floating around up in that excuse for a brain of yours, but we're a progressive state in New Jersey—John works for me, and no one works for me who isn't good at his job. Look at him, look at this thousand yard death stare thing he's got going, understand the fact that he could kill you with his pinkie finger in sixty-six, sixty-seven different ways—all of which I find admirable qualities in a potential life partner, by the way—he seem like some kind of pussy to you?"
Danny sent up a secret prayer to whoever was listening—St Jude, most likely, because if ever Danny had a patron saint—and hoped like hell that Rachel hadn't used that sixth sense of hers to pick up on how often he'd used the word 'pussy' in the last three minutes. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the corner of Steve's mouth twitch, and okay, Danny thought, when they got back to the house, maybe he was going to punch Steve a little, because the son of a bitch thought this was amusing. He was trying not to grin, which was why Danny leaned back, stretched his arm out across the back of the sofa, and said, "Trust me, the rock hard abs are also a bonus."
They left Sorensen's place after lunch with bellies full of a creditable pasta, invitations to return that evening for a party Sorensen's wife was throwing (for no other reason, Danny could see, other than the woman was Xanax'ed up to the eyeballs and bored to death), and enough audio captured on the tiny recording device located on the inside of Steve's sunglasses to get them halfway to a conviction.
"They're so going to offer to make it official," Danny said on the limo ride back to the house, bad leg jittering up and down. He had to put one hand on his knee to stop it from moving, used his other hand to punctuate what he was saying. "Because I am a fucking badass with words, I have skills with negotiating, you and me we are going to do shit that no one else has ever been able to do before, ever, you hear me?"
"Yes, dear," Steve said, arms folded, grinning openly at Danny like he thought Danny was— well, Danny didn't know what, but it was good, it had to be all good.
When they got back inside, they split off—Steve went to call Chin, fill him and Kono in on what was going on and send some of the audio evidence back to Five-O headquarters. Danny wandered into the main bedroom, put a call through to Rachel's place—Gracie would be just about home from school by now.
"Hey, monkey," he said when Rachel handed over the phone to her. "How're you doing? How was your day?"
He lay on his back on the stupidly enormous bed, and listened to Grace spin out an unwieldy narrative about something she'd made today using craft paper and a frankly improbable amount of Elmer's glue. Danny listened avidly, a little overcome like always with just how much he loved her, and in turn spun her an extravagant tale about how well the dolphins were doing, and how Uncle Steve had punched a shark on the nose in order to rescue a baby dolphin.
They talked for ten minutes or so, before Rachel came back to commandeer Grace for dinner and homework. "I love you, Danno! Bye!" Grace said before she went.
"Danno loves you," Danny said, and felt that familiar, tremulous feeling every time he lost her all over again—like he couldn't quite catch his breath.
"I hope you've not been spinning our daughter more fairy stories, Daniel," Rachel said. Her tone was clipped, but Danny could hear a faint undercurrent of amusement. "Dolphins?"
"Absolutely there are dolphins," Danny said, injecting as much wounded pride into his voice as he could. "Vicious ones. I am in peril here."
"Goodbye, Daniel," Rachel said, and hung up; but she did so gently, so Danny figured hey, things were looking up, she wasn't too mad at him.
Danny lay there for a little while, looking up at the gently whirling ceiling fan, before Steve wandered into the room.
"She's fine, she's good, she's the light of my life," Danny said absently. "Also remember, next time you see her, that you are now responsible for having rescued a baby dolphin from a very nasty shark."
Steve blinked down his nose at Danny, paused in rummaging through the suitcase looking for something. "I am?"
"You are," Danny confirmed. "A very small dolphin, about yay big." He lifted his arms up off the bed, indicated the appropriate size. "Shark very large, approximately this big." He stretched out his arms to their full extent.
"It's good to know these things," Steve said, straight-faced.
"Thank you," Danny said. "I'm glad you appreciate the service."
There was silence for a moment while Steve dug some more stuff out of the suitcase and then he said, very matter-of-fact, without turning around, "Grace really is lucky to have you, you know. You shouldn't beat yourself up so much. She knows you love her, she knows her mom loves her—a kid has that, they're pretty lucky."
Danny stared up at the ceiling. His throat felt a little tight all of a sudden. "Thanks, buddy," he said, sitting up.
"'S'nothing," Steve said, but the line of his back was way too straight. Liar. Danny ducked his head and grinned—then looked back up and started to laugh outright when he saw what Steve was holding in his hand.
"What the hell is that supposed to be?"
Steve held up the scrap of bright fabric, his face scrunched up in a moue of distaste. "Swim trunks, apparently."
"Oh my god," Danny said, "oh my god, really? Okay, one of us needs to have words with Kono about her ideas of gay male swimwear, because that's just—she really expected that you would wear that?"
Steve looked over his shoulder, smirking. "Now when did I say that these were my pair?"
Danny's eyes bugged out. "You have got to be kidding me."
Steve tossed them at him, ignored Danny's protests, said, "Come on, hubby, plenty of time for a swim before the party."
"I fucking hate my life," Danny said; and because his life was fucked, because Steve was fucked in the head, because Danny seemed to have lost the ability to make logical decisions when Steve McFucking Garrett was around him—Danny changed into the trunks and followed Steve out to the pool.
Steve was doing laps by the time Danny got out there, in a pair of sleek, tight black trunks that were quite a bit different to the baggy shorts he normally wore. Danny stood by the side of the pool and watched him for a bit—a long, lean shape that was able to go end to end underwater, twice; dark and fast and sleek when he came up for air. Standing there watching, Danny felt his mouth go a little dry, hated the stupid too-tight swimming trunks just a little bit more, because this was not the time to indulge in an inappropriate physical response to your partner—to the guy who had somehow, inexplicably, become the closest thing you had to a best friend. It wasn’t that Danny had never been attracted to guys before—been there, done that, had the suspicious stains on a t-shirt to prove it—but there were guys, and then there was Steve.
He did the only thing he could think of in response: cannon-balled into the deep end of the pool, relishing the shock of the cool water in the midst of the heat of a Hawaiian afternoon. It was enough to drive all those pesky little thoughts out of his head for a moment or two—all those times over the past few weeks where he'd thought Steve was looking at him a little too long, a little too fond; the idle suspicions sparked by the very fact that Steve had suggested this in the first place; the thoughts occasioned by the fact that Danny knew Steve, and Steve was crazy, and in Steve's world going undercover to take down a crime ring might just count as a couple's getaway. Danny surfaced, gasped for air, dunked his head back under a time or two because these were things he'd been trying not to think about for the past while, because when he was pretending to be a Jersey mobster was the wrong fucking time to be thinking about this—this might not be any more of an appropriate response to what was going on, but fuck it. Steve's brand of crazy not-logic was clearly infectious.
Danny contented himself with bobbing around in the water while Steve ploughed up and down like he was training for a triathlon or something. Maybe he was, crazy bastard; sounded like something he’d think was fun. A little after four, Danny hauled himself out of the pool—time to shower off the chlorine, pull on a suit, make like a good gangster with the rest of the crooks—turned around to tell Steve that it was time to go, and saw that Steve was staring at his ass. It was only for a moment or two, before Steve jerked his gaze away and looked up at Danny, his face schooled into the blank mask that Danny had maybe come to hate a little, but there was no denying what Danny had seen in Steve’s expression. Danny felt his face grow hot a little, heard his voice crack when he told Steve that they needed to get going, but this was like the world’s worst timing. He strode inside, down the hallway to the bedrooms, leaving puddles of chlorinated water all over the no-doubt obscenely expensive hardwood floors, and closed the door gently behind him before punching the wall.
“Shit,” he said, “shit, fuck, fuck, son of a fuck,” because only to him would this happen, only Danny Williams would do something stupid like fall for his partner and not realise it for—for what had it been, months now? “My life,” he said to the empty room, “is a joke,” and then he went to shave and brush his teeth and try to ignore the way his heart wanted to hammer its way out of his chest, because Danny Williams was a cop, and this was what a cop did.
Steve had clearly picked up on Danny’s vibe of not talking about this; not talking about this now, because he didn't say much while the two of them moved around the master suite, getting ready. Danny put on the tux that had been packed for him, and Jesus, he wasn't going to ask how Kono had known his inseam measurement. It was creepy, how well the thing fit him—though of course, that was nothing like how Steve looked when he emerged from the bathroom. Steve's jaw line was still dark with stubble, his shoulders filled out the tux jacket perfectly, and the hair at the nape of his neck, still a little damp, curled a little. He looked like James Bond's wet dream, and Danny ducked his head, fumbled with his bow tie—and really, Kono thought that he was the kind of guy who'd be comfortable with anything other than a pre-tied dickie bow? Plus it wasn't like Daniel Rosso was the kind of guy who'd care that much about whether his bow tie was classy or not. Danny tugged it into an awkward, crumpled knot, swearing under his breath.
"Hey, hey—c'm'ere," Steve said, and when Danny looked up, Steve was right there in his space, pulling the bow tie from around his neck and smoothing it out with long, careful fingers. Quickly, easily, he knotted it perfectly. "There," he said quietly, still so very close, and Danny couldn't quite breathe.
"How'd you get so good at this?" Danny murmured, because it was better to say that than blurt out anything else right now; because this close to Steve, all it would take was for him to tilt his head up just this much, and boom, all Danny's carefully hoarded plausible deniability, gone right out the window.
"Well," Steve said, "practice," and he took a step back, and grinned, and said, "Of course, I have a natural advantage courtesy of my rock hard abs."
"You're such an asshole," Danny told him, jabbing him in the chest with a finger, "seriously, such a pain, I can't even," grinning, because something in Steve's reaction had managed to both kill a lot of Danny's nerves and amp up the tension. They were going to do this, they were really going to do this—had acknowledged the inevitable, tacitly agreed that sooner or later it was going to happen, and okay, so maybe Danny was going to have to walk into one of the more potentially lethal situations of his life with a full-on boner, but he had to admit: he'd done an awful lot worse for the prospect of a lot, lot less.
When they arrived at Sorensen's place, the party had just started: there were four or five cars ahead of them in the driveway, a dozen or so guests milling around in the multiple foyers wearing what were no doubt very expensive outfits—the men in tuxedos, the women in silks and sequins. Luckily this time, no one tried to get Danny to bring them some champagne—the butlers, plural, were all in white tie and tails, bustling around with full trays of drinks and bits of cracker with sticky grey lumps of caviar on the top. Danny didn't find the sight that appetising, but Steve ate about a dozen.
"You are disgusting, you know that?" Danny told him as they milled through the growing crowd, looking for Sorensen or one of the others—they just needed a little more on tape to make the arrest.
"You're just afraid I'm going to lose my girlish figure," Steve said, spraying cracker crumbs everywhere.
"At least we know your ego is a healthy size," Danny said—and then proceeded to make Steve's ego swell, if nothing else, by palming Steve's ass when he noticed that Murray was watching them from across the room.
"Really?" Steve said out of the side of his mouth, "Now?"
"Shut up," Danny said, "I'm working an angle here."
He strutted over to Murray, who tightened his arm around the woman beside him, as if Danny could give him the gay cooties by osmosis or something, heaven forbid, and this poor lady's vagina would help insulate him. "Mr Murray!" he said, all fake bonhomie and good will. The guy had a good couple inches on Danny, but when Danny slapped him on the back in greeting, some of the liquid still sloshed out of the glass he was holding. "How are you doing this evening?"
"Rosso," Murray said curtly. He had a temper on him, Danny noted, but at least he knew how to keep a rein on it most of the time. "The... other Mr Rosso." Most of the time.
Steve took a swig from his champagne glass. "I kept my last name, actually," he said, smile so saccharine it made Danny's teeth hurt just looking at it. "In keeping with my feminist principles. And who's your lovely companion here?" he said to the woman with Murray. "I'm Johnny; so nice to meet you," and really, Danny was going to punch this asshole, he really was, because now was the time that Steve chose to develop an ability to impersonate human social skills?
Steve struck up a conversation with Murray's companion—from what Danny could overhear, her name was Laurie, she was 25, had a Masters in Public Administration from Tennessee State and hoped to make it big in Hollywood; Jesus wept, seriously—and Danny snagged another glass of champagne from a passing server, started to schmooze with Murray and Sorensen and a couple other minor "associates" who'd shown up for the evening. For once, Danny was glad for all those evenings that he'd been dragged along to parties with Rachel in Manhattan—or at least the ones at the beginning, when he'd still shown up more often than not, and had still had the energy to try to be nice to stockbrokers and financial analysts. From them, Danny had learned the finely honed art of not just bullshit, but braggadocio—which maybe was bullshit with a fancier name, but it was appearances that mattered in places like this.
He could tell that only one or two of Sorensen’s gang bought wholesale what he was telling them about the size of his operation, its capacity, but that didn't matter, that was what he was expecting. All Danny needed was for them to think he was exaggerating, not making this up out of whole cloth. Even if they thought he was doubling, quadrupling, his resources in Jersey, he would still have enough to help them make very profitable in-roads into sales of just about anything that could be popped, snorted, injected or smoked in the tri-state area. The champagne made Sorensen expansive, made him talk, and Danny hoped like hell that the tiny camera in the lapel of his jacket was picking up all of this—Sorensen wasn't giving him all the details they'd need to shut down every stage of the operation, but it was probably more than enough to bring Sorensen and the others in the room to trial. Danny let the satisfaction of that leach into his grin, make his stance that little more cocksure—nothing like projecting confidence to make people open up to you.
It was all going well—well enough that Danny was starting to entertain thoughts that they seriously would get out of this in one piece, that he'd get to go back to Honolulu and see his little girl and no one would be sleeping with the fishes or wearing concrete shoes or engaging in any other horrible cliché—and then it all started to go really wrong. Out of the corner of his eye, Danny saw Steve cock his head. "What?" he said—maybe a little too sharply, because Rajiv looked at him out of the corner of her eye. “Honey?"
"Thought I heard something," Steve said, looking out through the open French doors to the lanai and the sea view beyond it. He was frowning, and it felt like every muscle in Danny's body went tense all at once, because a look like that on Steve's face boded nothing but trouble.
"Oh, that'll be the musicians," Mrs Sorensen said, drifting past them. Her face was set in the vague, pleased smile of the permanently chemically comatose, and she was wearing a dress that looked like Barbara Bush had mated with a meringue. "We hire them every year, you know; wonderful boys, big band music with a sort of native twist, it's really very precious—"
And then the room exploded with the sound of gunfire.
Danny dropped instinctively, seeking cover behind a buffet table still laden down with canapés and what looked like a classier version of pigs in a blanket. He peered over the finger food and saw the lanai lit up with movement—guests stumbling over one another trying to get away, women tripping and falling in their high heels, one man clipped in the elbow by a stray bullet. He could see some of the gunmen—all of them dressed in black, balaclavas over their faces and some seriously large weaponry in their hands, and shit, shit, this had to be a professional hit. The spike of adrenaline was sudden and severe enough to make Danny feel queasy with it, and—where the fuck was Steve?
Danny palmed the gun he'd had in his ankle holster, moved cautiously out around the table and towards the French doors. From behind him, Sorensen yelled something, but Danny ignored him. If this was all going to go to hell right now, then Danny's first priority was his partner, not the op. Out on the lanai, two of the masked gunmen lay on the ground already—one utterly still; one groaning—with one of Sorensen's security people nearby, a bullet through his forehead and his mouth a round 'O' of surprise. Seriously, Danny couldn't bring Steve anywhere, it was getting to be a rule.
Out in the grounds it was darker, the lush greenery and the sinking sun combining to make the lawn shadowy, the shrubbery threatening. Danny blinked his eyes a couple of times, trying to get them to adjust to the darkness, but there was still no sight, no sound of Steve. Then, from the garage a couple hundred yards away came the sound of some very expensive vintage cars blowing up. "Of course," Danny said, "crazy bastard", and against his better judgement and pretty much all of his instincts, ran towards the explosion instead of away from it.
Silhouetted against the flames, there was Steve—cut on his forehead, blood from what was probably an arterial spray across his chest, delivering a roundhouse kick to the face of one of the attackers. Danny spared a second to sigh, because really, he was considering sleeping with this man? Honestly? There was not enough liquor in the world for him to be seriously contemplating this, because of course Steve was the kind of guy who'd indulge in flashy martial arts when you could instead do like Danny—he took aim, exhaled, fired, brought the guy down with a neat shot to the chest.
"What do you think?" Danny said.
Steve stooped down, retrieved the fallen man's weapon and his spare ammo. "Pros—most of them have some military training, but this isn't official." He nodded in the direction of the deck on the far side of the house; Danny jogged along beside him, keeping pace, watching out for any movement in the shrubbery. Every sense felt strained, a feeling with which Danny had grown way too familiar since he'd started to work with Steve, and he tried to keep his breathing steady and even. Inside the house, the lights went out abruptly; it was all suspiciously quiet, and Danny felt the small hairs rise up on the back of his neck.
"Rival gang?" Danny stepped over another one of Sorensen's men, who was lying on the grass with a bullet wound in his thigh; not fatal, but he wouldn't be any help, and Sorensen would likely be revising his recruitment requirements for security sometime in the near future.
"Think so," Steve says, "Makes sense. All Sorensen's group in one place, at one time—take 'em all out at once."
"That," Danny said, "is just peachy," because really, of course he'd pick the weekend to do this when another international drug cartel had already pencilled in 'slaughter all rivals.'
He'd counted four attackers down so far, three of Sorensen's men too. Danny was pretty sure he'd seen at least six men move in towards the lanai from the beach—at least two more to go. They circled the perimeter of the house, saw no one. Danny cocked his head at Steve; Steve nodded. Back inside they padded silently up the steps to the front door. The formerly elegant foyers were now dark. Broken glass crunched underfoot; trays of dropped canapés had been scattered by guests fleeing in a panic. One of the butlers lay on his back on the stairs, four bullet holes in his chest and his white tie outfit slowly turning red. The gunmen clearly didn't give a crap about stealth, about the surgical hit, which made Danny even warier—whoever was hiring these people felt pretty safe from reprisals, maybe even from any investigation, which probably meant bigger fish than even Steve would feel comfortable trying to fry.
But Steve was focused on other things. He held up a hand in warning as they approached the archway that led into the main living room. They crept forward slowly, Danny looking back over his shoulder to check once again that no one was coming up on their six, and then there was the familiar click of a gun being cocked, and Steve was diving out from behind a pillar, shooting once, twice, three times at the gunman standing across the room. The guy got off a couple wild shots, splintering the wood just to the left of Danny, shattering an ugly, shoulder-height vase that was no doubt worth more than Danny's house, car, and complete collection of ties. Danny felt the sharp sting of shards of pottery digging themselves into his skin, but he was okay, he was still moving, he was following Steve into the living room. Steve, the nutcase, was trading shots and punches with a big guy that Danny just knew had to take steroids for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Two more masked gunmen were standing with guns trained on the Sorensens, Murray, Cai Wen, and half dozen other party goers—one whole side of Cai Wen's face was already purpling up in what promised to be a truly glorious bruise, and Murray's date was weeping silently, mascara running in heavy tracks down her face. Danny had a hunch there was a move back to Tennessee in her near future.
The two men made him; one turned to shoot, the other keeping his gun trained on their captives. Danny knew this was the point where Steve would do something crazy like launch himself head first at these people, try to headbutt them into submission, but Danny liked to think he had a little more finesse than that. He fired, got the guy in the shoulder; felt the sudden bursting flare of pain in his left bicep which said he'd been clipped in return. Danny gritted his teeth against the pain, fired again, brought the guy down; swung his gun out to take out the last guy at the same time Steve did. They fired at almost the same time, sending blood spraying into the air and the guy sprawling on his back.
"Got him," Steve said at the same time as Danny.
"You got him?" Danny said, gesturing with the arm that wasn't injured.
"Yeah!" Steve said, "I got him."
"I do not believe you, I do not," Danny said, then looked over at the huddled group watching him and Steve with something like shell-shock. Danny couldn’t blame them; he suspected he’d worn the same expression for a whole week after first making Steve’s acquaintance. "You guys okay?"
"We're fine," Sorensen said. The stress had made his Swedish accent that little bit stronger; he had an arm around his wife, who was staring vacantly at the floor and trembling. "That was—I owe you my thanks, gentlemen."
"Forget about it," Danny said, in a carefully nonchalant way he hoped conveyed that Daniel Rosso regarded this as a favour he could call in at some point. "It was nothing."
Sunitha Rajiv, who'd hidden behind the wet bar, cautiously ventured out from behind it. Her glasses were a little askew, the hem of her sari ripped, but she looked otherwise unharmed. "My thanks, also. That was most impressive," she said, though her attention was mostly held by what Murray was doing—he'd hunkered doing, yanking the balaclavas off the two corpses at his feet. "Vasquez's men?"
Murray nodded, short and sharp. "Yeah, I recognise them. Definitely the Colombians. Should have known those bastards would try something like this," and of course, Danny should have guessed it would turn out to be someone like Felipe Vasquez—the man's yearly income was probably equivalent to the whole Californian economy; probably executed more people than the Californian penal system, too. Murray looked up at Danny and Steve and said, begrudgingly, clearly feeling as if each word caused him physical pain, "Guess you two do know what you're doing," which Danny guessed was ignorant jackass speak for thank you for saving my life.
Steve shrugged, his smile thin and mean. "Eh. We took a class."
They'd left the destruction of the living room behind and moved into Sorensen's private office—the only room in the house, it looked like, not to try to meld the Italian Riviera and Hawaii. Instead, the office was like a lot of ones Rachel's douchier male co-workers had favoured—dark wood panelling, over-sized desk, plush carpet, bookcases filled with fat, leather-bound books that Danny was pretty sure no one had ever read. Cai Wen knew his way around a fuse box, had got the power working again; Sorensen had made some calls on his cell phone, and in less than five minutes, the house was full of medics, security, and clean-up people to cart away the bodies and steam clean the carpets. Danny didn't know how no cops had shown up, no ambulances, given the sustained gun fire and the merry little blaze still taking place out in the garage—clearly, when this was over and done with, Internal Affairs was going to be having a sit down chat with the local PD—but right now he was more invested in sitting down on the over-stuffed couch in the middle of the office. Steve had slapped a bandaid haphazardly over the gash on his forehead, and now he was swabbing at Danny’s arm with a cotton ball soaked in disinfectant.
"Stop being such a baby," Steve said when Danny hissed, "it's a through-and-through, didn't even hit the bone," but he worked very gently. His free hand cupped Danny's elbow to keep the arm steady while he worked; his thumb stroked soothing circles into the thin skin there. Danny knew he was shivering a little, part from pain, part from exhaustion; knew there was a danger of him falling asleep right there and then, but what the hell ever; he slumped a little more into Steve's side. One of the butlers came around with a tray of whiskeys—and Danny didn't want to know how much you had to pay help to come through an armed assassination attempt looking stoic and unrumpled and still willing to fix drinks—and Danny snagged one. He felt a little punch drunk already, what was a good Scotch going to hurt, sat back and listened, let Steve take point for a little while.
Because it looked like, what do you know, saving the key members of the cartel from certain death was enough to get you through the second round of interviews, no questions asked, and Daniel Russo and spouse were its newest members. Sorensen and Rajiv were on their fourth, fifth, round of phone calls, and while they may have looked like benevolent grandparents at first glance, just listening to snippets of their conversations was enough to make it very clear why they were one of the leaders in their particular field. There were going to be retaliations soon, and Danny paid careful attention to what details he could overhear—looked like when they got out of here, he was going to be making some calls to his colleagues in Interpol, in Bogotá, in San Diego, in Tijuana.
Somewhere past midnight, the conversation shifted a little—what, Cai Wen said, would this mean for this shipment coming in on the 24th? Schedules were pulled out, names were mentioned, and the only reason Danny didn't whoop in triumph was because Steve gripped his upper thigh once, hard. Mrs Sorensen, who'd come in with a plate of cookies—still in her evening gown, though her face had been scrubbed clean of makeup and the curl had fallen out of her hair—saw the gesture and beamed. Her eyes were glassy, the pupils blown; Danny suspected she'd had a little pick-me-up in the bathroom at the same time she'd washed her face. "You know," she said, "Mikael and I were the same when we first got married—couldn't keep our hands off one another! But then I suppose that's pretty normal for boys like you, isn't it?"
Out of the corner of his eye, Danny saw the muscle in Steve's jaw tighten, and decided it was best to ignore her. This was not exactly a teachable moment; better to get back into conversation with Sorensen, draw him out that little bit more. Danny was pretty sure they already had enough to convict—hell, they probably had enough to convict a hell of a lot of people who weren't even in this room—but it was all icing at this point, it was gravy, and Danny was a good cop, he was going to make sure they got put away for one hell of a long time.
Half an hour later, things finally wound up—Sorensen was clearly starting to nod off a little, Cai Wen in need of better painkillers than a packet of frozen peas held to his face. Danny and Steve stood, refused the offer of a bed in Sorensen's place, insisted they would go back to the rented house. There was no limo to ferry them back—well there was one, technically speaking, but it was smouldering out back—so one of the butlers lent them his car instead. They walked outside, Steve took one look at it and said, "You know, it's been a long night, why don't I let you drive?"
"It's because it's a Volvo, isn't it?" Danny said, taking the keys and sliding into the driver's seat. It would be difficult to drive with his arm banged up like this, but not impossible, especially if he took it slow. "You'll go chase people through lava fields, you'll throw yourself off cliffs, you won't drive a compact car with an impressive safety record and good gas mileage. Your priorities are fucked in the head, my friend. Fucked. In. The head."
Steve squinted at him, made a comical version of Constipation Face. "I think it's time we thought about couple's counselling. Honeymoon's over."
They got back to the house, staggered in the door. Steve made a bee line for the kitchen, put on the kettle for tea—"I do not understand you," Danny said, "Honest to god, hand on my heart, I do not"—and made an outsized cup for them both before he dug out his phone, roused Chin from his beauty sleep and put him on speaker phone so that both Steve and Danny could fill him in on the night's events.
Chin listened patiently, interjecting now and then only with a couple of pertinent questions. "Well," he said when they finished, "On the down side, I owe Kono a hundred bucks. But she owes me a hundred twenty, so I suppose things worked out fine in the end."
Danny made a rude gesture at the phone, which Steve clearly thought was hilarious—he made that weird, honking laugh that always escaped him when he was teaching Grace really awful knock knock jokes that invariably involved farts and sometimes boogers. (There was no way Danny found that weirdly charming; to suggest such a thing was untrue, it was false, what could he say, he was in way over his head where the two of them were concerned.)
A little after 1.30, they were both done, they were so done, and Danny yawned, set the bugging equipment to transmit their files to Chin via satellite, wished Chin a good night or morning or what the hell ever, and dragged Steve down the hallway towards the bedroom. By unspoken agreement, they both peeled off their now ruined tuxedos—grass stains on the hems of the pants, shirts sweat-stained and crumpled, blood on Steve's jacket and a bullet hole piercing the left sleeve of Danny's—and left them lying on the floor, crawled into the big soft bed.
"Mmpfh," Steve said eloquently, stretching out on his right side, a long sprawl of freckled skin, of scrapes and bruises, of tattoos and a tan.
"Yeah," Danny said, "I know," and figured that after that night, that day, the past whole goddamned year, he was entitled to do this—to shift over so that he was curled up behind Steve, his cheek pressed against the warm curve of the nape of Steve's neck, his bum arm draped over Steve's waist; to let himself drift off on the fact that Steve's breathing was a steady counterpoint to his own. With anyone else, after any other day, Danny might have been a little scared of doing this, but what the hell—he'd been jumping off cliffs with Steve McGarrett for almost a year. Why break the habit now?
For a moment, Danny thought it was the sunlight flooding in through the floor-to-ceiling windows which had woken him, and then he realised what it was—just on the edge of his hearing, there was the sound of what had to be a whole fleet of cop cars heading up the road outside, on their way up the hill to Sorensen's estate. Danny grinned to himself—clearly the rest of Five-O was up good and early, putting the gathered evidence to good use, getting a warrant (Danny hoped they'd woken up Hodgson; man was a cranky ass, did Danny's heart good to think he'd been roused from his bed at the crack of dawn and made to do some work) and starting the process of rounding up the cartel. Wouldn't be too long before that group was starting to realise that Daniel Rosso really had been over-representing the extent of his criminal enterprises in Jersey, in a couple of very crucial ways.
The rhythm of Steve's breathing changed—he was awake—and he shifted, stretched the whole over-sized length of him, and rolled over. Neither of them were big fans of the whole personal space thing, but Danny couldn't recall being quite this close to him before—able to see the hazel of his eyes, the burgeoning stubble on his jaw-line, the quality of his smile. "Hey," Steve said, his grin widening, and Danny thought maybe he could get used to this.
"Hey," Danny said, jerking his chin in the direction of the door. "You want me to go up there? Book 'em?"
Steve looked down his nose at him. "I don't know if that would be such a productive use of police time, Danno."
"Oh really?" Danny said, stretching against Steve very deliberately. "Now how come you Army boys—"
"Navy, Danny, I'm in the Navy—"
"—How come you know so much about police procedure?" Danny shifted against him, running his hand the length of Steve's side, wincing a little at the stretch in his bicep. Steve's eyes darkened at that, and he rolled onto his back, tugged so that Danny was sprawled across him and hello, hey, looked like all of Steve was wakening up, here—not that Danny was objecting or anything, he was a sociable person, he was fond of full and eager participation.
Steve raised his head off the pillow, his mouth just brushing against Danny's. "I'm observant."
"Oh, I'm observant, he says. I have observed! Well, let me tell you some stuff I've observed, Mr Navy S—" But it was a little hard to get his point across when Steve was kissing him like that; slow at first, but gradually gaining in intensity, in heat. Danny opened his mouth to it, let Steve bite gently at his lower lip, relished the scrape of Steve's stubbled jaw against his.
When he pulled away a little to catch his breath, to settle himself more fully against the cradle of Steve's hips, Danny said, "So just for paperwork purposes, you understand, I figure I should ask how long you've been observant?"
"Um," Steve said, and Danny found he was unaccountably fascinated by the line of Steve's throat when he tossed his head back like that, by the way his fingers were already starting to tangle in the Egyptian cotton sheets. Danny gave into temptation, leaned down, kissed Steve’s Adam’s apple, the curve of his collarbone. "A little bit. A while. Maybe."
"Such accurate accounting," Danny said, in between attempts to tug off their boxers, and seriously, two grown men with three and a half working arms shouldn't find this so difficult. "I find myself so impressed by the Navy's procedures, here."
"Do you ever stop talking?" Steve asked.
"Yes, no, not so much," Danny said eloquently, "you shut up," and then he stopped talking because the two of them were naked and hard and rubbing off against one another; because this was the culmination of the longest bout of foreplay known to mankind; because Steve had buried his face in Danny's neck and was breathing hot and damp and tremulous against him.
Danny came maybe a little sooner than was strictly flattering to what was left of his sense of dignity, spilling wet against Steve's flat stomach, but it was sort of an ego trip to know that his orgasm was what pushed Steve over the edge—Steve looked down at Danny's cock as he came, groaned low in his throat and thrust upwards, and that was it, he was gone. The two of them lay there panting for a long moment, stuck together by what was probably a distinctly unappetising mixture of old sweat, fresh sweat, and semen. Danny found that, frankly, he didn't give a shit.
"So, just so you know," Danny said, when he had control of his verbal faculties again, "volunteering for a situation in which you have to be fake married to someone is not, in fact, a fool-proof method for making them realise that you are, in fact, harbouring certain things which may be termed feelings for them. It may have made sense in that brain of yours, but may I take this moment to remind you that you have been known to jump a very long way out of planes onto things that are very hard, and god knows what all those concussions have done to your ability to reason logically."
"Uh huh," Steve said, and the man was, okay, so maybe he had his priorities right, because he seemed less interested in talking than he was in kissing Danny. Steve tangled his fingers in the soft hairs at the nape of Danny’s neck and holding him steady while he sucked gently on Danny’s lower lip. Danny found this an entirely admirable use of Steve’s time, decided he was willing to invest some of his own in kissing Steve back. It had been a long time since Danny had done this—lain in bed with someone, legs tangled and bellies pressed close, content with touch and soft sounds of happiness—and his plausible deniability was gone, so gone, because Danny found he couldn’t stop smiling.
Steve, of course, being Steve, had to take it one step further—waited until Danny’s lips were swollen from kissing and then slithered his way down Danny’s body. Danny was about to protest, to say are you kidding me, I’m 35, I’m bruised and I need ibuprofen, you are not a miracle worker, but maybe Steve was. He sucked on Danny's cock until, wonder of wonders, it started to get hard again. Danny lay there on his back, panting at the ceiling and feeling his toes curl as Steve rubbed gentle circles into Danny's hips with his thumbs, as he did frankly illegal things with his tongue. Jesus Christ. Steve's hair was soft beneath Danny's fingers, the little groans he made in the back of his throat fucking amazing, and really, Danny thought as he came: happy goddamned honeymoon to me.
There was every chance that some branch of the IRS or the FBI or something would be swarming all over the house in the next few hours, so sometime around noon, Danny poked Steve in the side until he got out of bed. They showered together, figuring that they should take advantage of the giant shower while they still could (and jeez, where had Steve learned that many jokes about dropping the soap, that's what Danny wanted to know), and got dressed as Danny Williams and Steve McGarrett once more—or at least as close as Danny could get to himself, what with Steve flat-out refusing to let him wear a tie.
They shoved the wrecked sheets into the washer, called a cab to bring them to the airport. There Steve used the badge and his charm and the frankly indecent cant of his hips to talk them onto the mid-afternoon flight back to Honolulu, while Danny called Grace from a payphone and had a long and he felt profitable conversation with her about some of the more intriguing plot decisions in Beauty and the Beast.
Danny had rarely seen Steve look more uncomfortable than he did on that short hop commercial flight. "You're trying to figure out all the escape routes you could jump from, aren't you? Using a parachute you've made from, like, the napkin and the complimentary teeny tiny bag of pretzels? Freak," Danny said, and the worst of it wasn't that that was true, it was that it made him feel all fond of Steve. He really had no clue how this had become his life.
Steve made Hamster Aneurysm Face at him. "Helicopters, I like. Planes, not so much."
"You are a control freak," Danny pointed out, "you have issues, I do not know how you can't see all the issues which you have," and then made some suggestions about the things they could do in the—well, it mightn't be the Mile High Club, exactly. Half a Mile? Couple Hundred Feet? The hot flush looked good on Steve's cheeks, and maybe neither of them were over eager to cram themselves into the tiny airplane toilets, but Steve did lean over at that and kiss him once, hard and fierce, so that Danny lost the feeling in his fingers—just a little—and his teeny tiny complimentary bag of pretzels spilled all over the floor.
The moment they set foot on the Oahu, Steve palpably relaxed, his spine loosening. Danny's, of course, did just the opposite, because being back in Honolulu and heading for Five-O HQ meant getting in a car with Steve, and getting in a car with Steve was just hazardous for anyone's health. "Why do you hate me," Danny said, closing his eyes, "what did I do to you in a past life?"
"Aww, c'mon, Danno," Steve said, and Danny cracked an eye, looked over at him. Steve was full on smiling, that rare, delighted expression he sometimes got that transformed his face entirely. "Don't hate you."
Danny felt his face heat. "Right, well. Good. Okay, then," he managed, and seriously, somewhere up there, St Jude was laughing his goddamn ass off. Patron saint of hopeless cases, pfft.
Steve bounded up the steps into HQ, Danny ambling along behind him. They were greeted at the door by a beaming Chin, who was clearly doing the proud papa routine at the thoughts of someone in his team doing competent police work at last; Danny really couldn't blame him.
Kono was sitting at her desk, leg in its unwieldy cast propped up on a low footstool. "Hey, boss! Hey, Danny, you—" She broke off in mid-sentence, looked from Steve to Danny and back again, raised her eyebrows all the way up to her hairline. "Oh my god, you didn't."
"I have no idea what you're talking about," Steve said, weakly.
"Oh my god, you did," Kono said, and if ever a dictionary needed an illustration for its entry on 'expression of unholy glee', Kono Melia Kalakaua was their woman. "Oh my god, on an undercover op?"
"Jesus Christ," Danny said, and thought long and hard about turning around and walking right back out of the building and into the Pacific Ocean.
"What?" Chin said.
Kono spun around in her chair and beamed at him. "Remember how this morning you said it worked out so I owed you twenty bucks? Well, cuz, it's now a hundred and twenty in my favour."
"Damn," Chin said, and sighed. "I really did think they were going to hold out until Valentine's Day."
Danny sputtered. "Excuse me?"
Chin shrugged. "Just extrapolating from past behaviour—you can be a little sentimental, Danny."
"You too, Steve."
Danny threw his hands up in the air. "I can't believe you two bet on—on—"
Kono leaned forward chin in her hands. "Actually, how far did you two go? Because I have an extra twenty riding on—"
"You see?" Danny said, pointing a finger at Steve, "You talk about Kono ruling the world, this is what ends up happening—hey presto, all hail our evil overlord, all your fault. And, as you are so fond of reminding me on occasions that have anything to do with paperwork or Miranda rights or driving vehicles off cliffs, you're the boss! Your baby to fix."
"Ooh," Kono said, clasping her hands underneath her chin and really, they were never going to hear the end of this, "Are you two thinking of adopting?"
"Grace would love a little brother," Chin said, deadpan.
"I hate you all," Steve said, folding his arms and looking like he was going to drop all pretence at the badass SEAL persona and just pout, right there in the middle of the room.
"Welcome to the club," Danny called over his shoulder, and walked into his office—he needed space to sit down, to put his head in his hands, to laugh helplessly at himself, because God help him, this was his life. This was his crazy, messed-up, awesome life, right here on Hawaii—this was his family, lost and regained and found, telling him exactly who they were before Danny even knew how to hear it. From outside, he could hear the sounds of Kono's filthiest peals of laughter, of Steve protesting something vociferously, of Chin's quiet chuckles—and really, Danny thought, as he opened the top drawer of his desk, pulled out of one his reserve ties, knotted it around his neck, things could be worse. Things could be a hell of a lot worse.