"This is disgusting," Danny said, staring down at the plate the waitress had just put in front of him. Never again would he hang back to finish up a call, waving Steve and Kono in to the diner ahead of him with a cavalier eh, just order for me, expecting a burger or a salad or even a simple sandwich. Having reasonable expectations around these two—that way lay madness, clearly. “How is this supposed to be lunch?"
"Are you mocking my people's culture, haole?" Kono said, waggling a fork at him. "Because this is a treasured part of my heritage."
"There is nothing cultural about this," Danny said. "Nothing." Gingerly, he poked at his meal. Danny had no objection to any of the ingredients individually—indeed, he was probably something of a connoisseur of well-made brown gravy. He just had something of a philosophical objection to said gravy being poured generously over a mound composed of two greasy fried eggs, a thick hamburger patty, and a pound or two of rice. As a meal, it looked like something Danny’s roommate in freshman year would have concocted and called a hangover cure, only Tommy would probably have gone the last step and covered everything in tabasco sauce. "What is this thing?"
"It's called loco moco," Steve said around a mouthful of rice, because he had all the table manners of a hungry Labrador retriever. "'S'good." He scooped up more on his fork while he chewed.
Danny stared at the two of them—both were working their way through their lunch with every evidence of enjoyment—and then back down at his plate. "Loco moco."
"Yeah?" Steve said slowly, as if he thought Danny were backwards or something. There was a spot of gravy on his chin; Danny watched Steve swipe at it with his thumb, lick it clean.
"You want me"—Danny pointed the tines of the fork at himself—"to eat this"—gesturing back at the plate—"a foodstuff the name of which translates from Spanish as crazy snot?"
"If you don't want it," Kono said, "I'll eat it."
"Of course you would," Danny said, "are you kidding me, you're like a walking trash compactor. I know where all those malasadas disappear to." He drew his plate a little closer to him—not because he was any more enthusiastic at the thoughts of eating this mess, but because the instincts honed by years of living with four sisters warned him to keep his food away from others. Danny secretly harboured a suspicion that his reluctance to use a fork as a defensive anti-sibling weapon at mealtimes had stunted his growth, no matter how many peppermint patties he confiscated from Steve’s kitchen in an attempt to catch up.
"You could put some pineapple on it," Steve suggested, grinning. “Tasty.”
"You," Danny said, "are the very definition of an asshole." Tentatively, he shovelled some of the gloop onto his fork; gravy and egg yolk dripped off the tines. Once again he sent up a silent prayer of thanks that he'd thought to update his will before he'd moved to Hawaii; he was being exposed to peril on a daily basis, here. He raised the fork to his mouth, then paused when he saw Steve twitch. "What?" he said, "What? Am I eating it the wrong way? Do Hawaiians have this thing where they have to stand up and turn around three times before they—"
Steve shook his head once, short and sharp, gestured a little for quiet. He was staring out of the diner's window at a car parked across the street—a nondescript sedan, Danny saw, silver paint work, recent model, ding on the front passenger door. Someone in the driver seat, someone in the back, and both of them were staring right back at Danny, Steve and Kono. Given recent events, Danny wondered for a moment if they were Yakuza, back for another attempt—but neither of them looked the part, not to mention that people who didn’t have a problem with engaging in a shoot-out on a public beach weren’t generally given to quiet observation.
"Boss?" Kono said. Danny had to admire her—rookie or not, she could make the switch from goofing around to professionalism like nobody's business.
"Not sure," Steve said. Danny could see his hand slowly moving towards the gun at his hip; his gaze never wavered from the two men in the car. He had that look on his face, the one that always made Danny pause to remember if he really had paid his most recent insurance premium. "You got your gun?"
Danny looked from Steve to Kono, then out to the car. "Really? Right now? What did I do that I don’t even get to eat my bowl of Crazy Snot without you deciding no, oh no, that leaves Danny on too much of an even keel—"
"Danny," Steve said through clenched teeth. He’d developed a full-blown case of the crazy eyes now. "Shut up."
"You are not helping your case," Danny said, and then the diner's window blew inwards.
Danny put his arm up to shield his face, felt the sting of dozens of tiny shards of glass peppering his arm through his shirt. He went for his gun, ducked down behind the table, automatically looked to see where the shots were coming from. Around them, the diner was in chaos—kids screaming, high and shrill; glass crunching underfoot as people ran for cover; the panicked voice of the waitress calling 911—and Danny could feel something warm trickling down his face. At first he thought it was blood; then he realised it was the gravy from the goddamned loco moco. He swiped at it irritably.
"Third shooter," Kono said. "Bank roof." Peering over the top of the table, Danny could just about make out the silhouette of the shooter, dark against the blue Hawaiian sky; the sight of the two others climbing out of the car, their weapons already drawn. Another bullet buried itself into the tabletop, barely three or four inches from Danny's head, and he quickly ducked back down, his heart racing.
"What the fuck is going on?" he snapped. "Did we start World War Three here and nobody told me?"
Steve pulled out a knife from an ankle holster; brandished it in his left hand, his gun in his right, like he was John Rambo or some shit, Danny didn't even know. "I'm going out," Steve said. "Cover me."
"Are you fucking nuts?" Danny said, "We are waiting for backup. You are not going out in that, you don't even have a vest, you crazy son of a bitch."
Steve, of course, took that as an open invitation to leap through the blown-out window, gun firing, flinging his knife at one of the attackers so that its point embedded itself deep in the guy's right shoulder.
"Jesus Christ," Danny said, “have you ever heard of compromise?”, and of course this meant that he and Kono had no choice but to follow. They piled out of the window after Steve, taking refuge behind a parked Honda Civic; Danny hoped the owner had an understanding insurance company. Kono pulled out her cell, put a call through to Chin.
"Already on the way, cuz," Danny could hear him shout. "Dispatch got the call from the diner, HPD's sending backup. What's going on?"
"Boss is recreating the OK Corral," Kono said. She leaned out from behind the bumper, got a shot off, ducked back in. "Three shooters at least, maybe more. Not familiar faces."
There was a pop as one of the Honda's tires went. Shots thudded into the diner’s window frame, into the body of the car, and it was just Danny’s brand of shitty luck that he was having to face off with a bunch of deranged people shooting wild. "This is ridiculous," Danny said, and stood. Steve had commandeered a shave ice cart as shelter, and had already dropped one of the shooters—the guy with the knife in his shoulder now also had what looked like a bullet to the abdomen and was lying in the middle of the street, groaning and shivering. The other guy had retreated behind their car and he and Steve were duking it out, with the shooter on the roof providing added drama, though seriously, no way these guys were trained professionals. The only reason Steve hadn’t taken them all out by now had to be sheer luck. There was no precision to their shots, not to mention that this was probably one of the worst streets on the island to try for an ambush—Five-O might not be able to retreat, but it would also make for a tough getaway afterwards, unless these guys had signed up to be kamikaze goons or something.
"This is what happens when I let you take me out to lunch!" Danny yelled at Steve, because he needed to yell at someone right now, his heart was thudding in his chest, and he had a feeling the shooters wouldn't be so receptive.
"Now is not the time, Danny," Steve yelled back. Somehow he'd managed to acquire a gash on his forehead; he was swiping the blood impatiently with his free hand so that he could still see to fire.
"Irresponsible!" Danny yelled as Kono stood up beside him too, started trading shots with the sniper on the roof. "Delinquent, trouble magnet—"
"Can you guys stop bickering for one minute?" Kono said. "I get enough of this from my parents," then staggered back and fell, hit in the upper arm.
Danny dropped down beside her. It looked like a through and through, but what did he know, he wasn’t a medic. He tugged off his tie, wrapped it around her arm. The grey silk quickly stained dark with Kono’s blood. "Just a scratch," he told her with cheerful mendacity, making himself grin at her, "stick a band aid on there and you'll be fine." Her face was already paler than Danny liked, her smile wobbly. In the distance, he heard the first wail of an approaching siren, and he'd rarely been so happy to hear that sound.
"She okay?" Steve shouted over.
"Just fine!" Danny said—and then the shooter took out the Honda's windows. The force sent shards of glass flying, embedding themselves in the wooden walls of the diner, into the shave ice cart, and one long, wicked piece into the small of Steve's back. Danny curved himself over Kono’s body, shielding her from the worst of it, and heard the grunt Steve gave, loud and startled, before he slumped forward onto the cart—still firing at the gunmen, of course, because Steve was fucked in the head.
“Shit,” Danny swore, “shit,” because that was all he fucking needed—and then with superb timing, Chin rounded the corner, breaking the speed limit on his bike. Right behind him was a fleet of cop cars, lights flashing, with what looked like half the HPD along for the ride.
"Hands in the air!" came a chorus of voices as the cars screeched to a halt. "Weapons on the ground or we'll shoot!" The gunmen stopped firing. For a moment, they looked at one another, like they were trying to come to some decision, and Danny braced himself for some last stand; some Hollywood-inspired, testosterone-filled bullshit. A couple feet away, Steve made a horrible wet, gasping sound and Danny got ready to move, use up the last of his clip trying to take these fuckers down before he lost Kono or Steve. One of the gunmen pulled out another clip, turned and looked at Danny and grinned, like this was fun, and took aim at the HPD. They managed to get one cop in the knee, bust up a couple of patrol cars pretty good, before they crumpled to the ground. It looked like the one Steve had shot had already bled out, asphalt around him sticky and dark with blood.
Shotgun at the ready, Chin ran over to Danny and Kono, long legs eating up the ground easily. "What just happened here?" he said, falling to his knees beside Kono. The medics followed him, bearing stretchers and bags of equipment—stooping over Kono and Steve, shaking their heads over the two corpses that lay in the street—and Danny scootched back a little to let them work.
He looked around him—mayhem and destruction, the diner shot to hell and the surrounding cars scarcely less; three dead bodies, two of his team mates bleeding; the sky overhead blue and clear and Danny's stomach growling because he still hadn't had lunch. "Honestly?" Danny said, resting his arms on his knees, feeling suddenly bone weary, "Not a fucking clue."
There wasn't an EMT on the island who wasn't familiar with the Five-O by now—hell, they probably used Steve as a cautionary tale in EMT School by now—so this crew just stoically ignored Steve's attempts at being an exsanguinating idiot, bundled him onto a stretcher and sped off to the hospital with lights flashing. Kono travelled in a second ambulance, Chin with her, holding her hand, and Danny was left to make something of the hellscape which downtown Honolulu had become—there were an awful lot of detectives with a hell of a lot of questions for him, and Danny had exactly zero answers. Eventually he managed to make his escape—left Flores to calm down the hyperventilating diner owner, the crime scene techs to make sense of the bullet holes and the corpses—and headed for the hospital.
Danny found Kono first, in a curtained-off cubicle in the ER, a nurse cleaning and stitching the wound in her arm. Chin was talking to Kono's mother on the phone—well, Danny said talking, it was more like Chin was holding the phone about two inches from his ear and saying "Yes, Auntie; sure, Auntie" every few seconds or so. Kono seemed kind of sanguine about the whole thing, though it was hard to tell if that was a product of the painkillers or not.
"You okay?" Danny asked her, swatting away the nurse who tried to take a look at the scratches on his arm. None of the glass that’d hit him had gone deep—he’d get home, he’d slap some antiseptic on them, he’d be fine.
"I'm good, Other Boss!" Kono said, beaming at him and clumsily patting his hand. "Wasn't my shootin' arm, I'm good to go!"
Danny sighed because seriously, it might be the morphine but it really might not—Kono and Steve had both clearly imbibed insanity with their mothers' milk. Speaking of. "Where'd they put Steve?"
Chin hung up on his aunt, stuck his phone back in his jeans pocket. "They took a CT and wheeled him into surgery already."
"How bad is it?" Danny said, folding his arms, a fresh flood of adrenaline making his stomach churn. It was never good news when Chin looked like that—solemn, his face creased not with laughter lines but with tension.
"Doctors didn't say, but it was a big piece, went deep. We'll know more in a little bit."
"Right," Danny said, "because my time here on this delightful island has really helped me hone my patience. Especially where Steven Jackass McGarrett is concerned." He kicked hard at the plastic chair beside Kono's bed and then flopped down on it.
Chin raised his eyebrows. "No need to shoot the messenger, brah."
Danny let out a breath, closed his eyes, fought for calm. "Yeah, I know, I—sorry. I just."
"Coffee?" Chin offered.
"Black, two sugars, biggest receptacle you can find," Danny said, and was glad for the way Chin clapped him on the shoulder before heading off in the direction of the cafeteria. In another life, Danny was pretty sure Chin would have ended up a psychiatrist, a psychologist, something like that—he felt it would be a good outlet for Chin's particular combination of zen calm and ass-kicking.
It was late in the afternoon by the time the surgeon came out to talk to them. Kono had passed out in her hospital bed, drooling into her pillow, and Danny had already had to field two phone calls from Grace wondering why Steve didn't want to talk to her about cartoons. The surgeon was shorter than Danny, cranky as all get out, and threw around words like 'seven centimetres of glass near the sacral vertebrae' and 'no evidence of damage to retroperitoneal structures' and 'minor laminectomy' and 'extremely lucky that the dura wasn't lacerated more severely.'
Danny's brain seized on the 'lucky' part. "He's going to be okay?"
"I've heard all about your McGarrett," the surgeon said, flipping through a chart, "so who the hell knows. But if he lets the nurses do their job and look after him, he'll be about of here in four or five days and can go back to work in three weeks or so."
"Ah," Danny said, because this was Steve—that was a big if.
"And if he doesn't?" Chin asked.
"Well," the surgeon said, "Five words for you: Internal bleeding. Spinal cord trauma."
"Oh god," Danny said, scrubbing his hands through his hair. "He's going to be impossible to live with."
Chin sighed. "You know, I've got some leave worked up. Maybe I should just take that. Starting now."
"Nuh uh," Danny said, "you do not leave a man wounded. And by that, I do not mean Steve, oh no, I mean me. I like still being mostly sane."
They were let in to the recovery ward to see Steve a little later. He was propped up against pillows, hooked up to an IV drip and a couple different monitors. Beneath his tan, he looked a little too pale for Danny’s comfort, but the nurse who passed them in the doorway rolled her eyes when they asked for Commander McGarrett. Danny figured things couldn’t be too bad, if Steve had the energy to be obnoxious.
"Hey," Steve said when they reached his bedside, and oh, would you look at the size of his pupils. He was clearly on enough tranquillisers to drop an elephant. "Heyyyy, Chin, hey, Danno. Guys, guys. Hey. Guess what? I have glass. In my ass." He giggled, which was so disturbing that Danny didn’t really have the words for it.
Danny sighed, stuck his hands in his pockets, regarding the knucklehead in the bed with all the fond benevolence he could summon. "The doc said three weeks?"
"No, seriously," Chin said, "I'm going to Europe."
Steve’s recommended four days of post-op turned into two and a half, after he whined and bitched so much that Dr Wei stood in the middle of the ward and roared, "Get out of my hospital!" at him.
Danny couldn't say he hadn't anticipated that, so he'd already made sure to order some pizza and some chocolates for the nurses’ station as a combined thank you for services rendered, apologies for suffering inflicted, tacit acknowledgement that they’d probably be meeting again in the not so distant future. He’d asked Chin to stocked up the normally empty cupboards in Steve's kitchen, and made sure there were enough cushions in the Camaro to ease Steve's ride home—and also that there was one of those inflatable anti-haemorrhoid cushions sitting innocuously on the passenger seat.
"You are a petty little man," Steve said, tossing the inflatable cushion into the back seat, and then obviously, stoically trying to repress a wince as he lowered himself into the car. It was a lost cause; the man had a near constant case of hamster face.
"Just looking out for you, my friend," Danny said cheerfully as he turned the key in the ignition. So he hadn't had a lot of sleep in the past few days; so he'd had several screaming fights with Rachel on the topic of 'Trouble, you're a magnet for it, Danny Williams, and why are you making me explain to our daughter that your friend got hurt'—there was something very soothing about being back in undisputed control of his car for a little while.
Steve muttered something inaudible, then said, "Okay, first thing when we get back to headquarters is—"
"Oh no," Danny said, holding up a hand. "You can stop with that train of thought right there, because there is no work for you for three weeks. Signed, sealed and delivered by three separate medical professionals on a piece of paper which I got right here. Dr Wei was nice enough to underline things—isn’t that nice?" He dug the paper out of his pocket, flapped it in the air just out of Steve's reach.
Steve pursed his lips a little, rolling his eyes. His facial expressions would have been a lot more impressive if it hadn’t been obvious to Danny that they came as much from physical pain as from Steve’s deep-seated emotional whatever. "Yeah, and that would be a lot more convincing if I wasn't your boss, so we're going to—"
"Technically!" Danny said, shoving the paper back into his pocket, signalling for the right turn that would take them back towards Steve's house. "That is a technicality, but if you are going to get into technicalities here, that is dangerous territory for you, know why?"
Steve heaved a long-suffering sigh. "Why?"
"Because I know strategy, Steve, and I have some—limited, I grant you, but some—understanding of how your brain works." Danny picked up his phone, dialled his voice-mail, put it on speaker. I, Governor Pat Jameson, hereby place Commander Steven McGarrett on convalescent leave from the Five-O task force for no less than 21 days, effective immediately. He is to be replaced as head of the aforementioned task force by Detective Chin Ho Kelly—
"Are you fucking kidding me?" Steve spat. "Danny, give me that phone, I'm going to—"
—and I would like to take this opportunity to point out to Commander McGarrett that should he call me to argue with me on this matter, I will extend his leave to 28 days—
Steve opened his mouth, gleam in his eye like he'd spotted a loophole.
—and that if he tries to work this case independently while on convalescent leave, or unpaid leave, or by trying to resign his commission, he will be the first American citizen to be deported from the State of Hawaii.
Steve looked so put upon, so thoroughly mulish, that Danny couldn't help it—he laughed all the rest of the way to Steve's house.
Five-O headquarters was a lot quieter without Steve—or at least it was once Danny turned off his phone and Kono called to threaten Steve with something that Danny didn't follow, what with the not speaking Pidgin and all, but it made Chin flinch.
"You're ruthless, cuz," he told her when she hung up.
"Worked, didn't it?" Kono said with a sunny grin, and there was a reason why Danny had that mental Post It note permanently affixed to his consciousness: never get on Kono Kalakaua's bad side.
HPD had started the investigation, but now that three quarters of Five-O were back and itching to make some headway, they’d turned over the files to Chin—albeit with some pointed distaste, like they thought Five-O had brought it on themselves or something. Which was a dick move, no doubt, but Danny had to admit they had some kind of point, hidden in among all the middle school behaviour. For all that life in Honolulu had gotten a little crazier since Steve McGarrett moved back to town, full-on gun battles in the middle of the street were still something of a rarity. It was difficult to get an immediate fix on a motive—the three of them poured over the collected evidence, looking for some angle that would help them out. None of the three gunmen had carried any ID; their fingerprints were not on file with any US law enforcement agency, and they were still being run through Interpol. All three were white, so it probably wasn’t Noshimuri ordering a hit by the Yakuza from behind bars; no gang tats at all, according to Max. The guy who’d gone down first did have some ink, but it was of a large sea turtle on his lower back. Danny didn’t even know what that could mean, maybe other than that goons could get sentimental when they were drunk and in a tattoo shop.
No witnesses had come forward to ID them, despite all the local news networks running a series of police sketches. The car the shooters had used to get downtown had no plates, and someone had clumsily tried to remove all the VIN numbers, but Chin worked his usual brand of technical magic. He was able to pull up a number, which sent Danny and Kono out to the airport, which got them a little interview with the manager of one of the car rental places. The guy—a little weasel-faced man with a toothbrush moustache and a tie that even Danny had to object to—confirmed the car was theirs with a nervous bob of his head. He printed off the info on the most recent rental; tried to offer them tea, coffee, a soda; brought out the employee who had actually rented the car. Darlene was helpful, polite, had a nervous tic that made her blink almost constantly; it had been busy the other evening, and while she thought that the man from the third police sketch may have been the one to rent the car, she honestly couldn't be sure. He'd handed over his credit card, signed the paperwork, hadn't made any small talk that she could remember.
"That was super helpful," Danny said as he stomped back out of the terminal into the too-bright Hawaiian sun. "We got confirmation of something we already knew, we got someone who thinks maybe she saw someone, we got a credit card number that—correct me if I'm wrong here—is probably, maybe, definitely going to turn out stolen. I feel so productive."
Kono shrugged, climbing into the passenger side of the Camaro. "We know one of them was most likely out here two days ago—that's enough to get us the surveillance footage from the airport. And you never know, we might get lucky with the credit cards."
Honolulu Airport had dozens, hundreds, of cameras, and by the time Danny and Kono got back to HQ, they’d given Chin access to the server on which hundreds of hours of footage were stored. Danny would ordinarily have lauded its devotion to the security of its passengers, but there was something very daunting at the thought of going through so much grainy footage in the hopes of seeing a non-descript guy—all three shooters were white, 5"10 to 6”1, brown hair, average build, forgettable faces—approaching a rental desk. Danny had no idea how Chin spent most of his days sitting at a computer doing stuff like this, though it probably explained the shotgun—Danny would have bought a shotgun too, if he had to spend hour after hour staring at low res footage. "You deserve a raise," Danny said, passing a fresh cup of coffee over to him, "for serious."
"As your temporary boss," Chin said, raising both eyebrows and fighting back a grin, "I'll take that under advisement."
Kono came up with something usable first. "I ran the card number—definitely stolen, like you thought," she said, flopping down into a chair next to Danny. "Mr Eduardo Jackson is not our guy. The card's only been used once since it was stolen, for the rental car."
"But?" Chin said.
"I got in touch with the police department where Mr Jackson reported the card theft. It was physically lifted during a home invasion in a small town just outside of San Francisco—so was Mrs Jackson’s purse. Her credit card was also used here, at a Home Depot to buy wire, bolt cutters, rope and some utility knives, before it was cancelled. So we can't use the credit cards to track them any further, but we know that those purchases are kind of a red flag. The officer I spoke to said that the purse also contained a lot of other forms of ID—Social Security, driver's license, student ID, debit cards..."
Danny sent up a silent prayer of thanks for people who would obviously have been too stupid to survive in Jersey. There was something to be said for social Darwinism, maybe. "So we hope that they used some of that ID to book a hotel or rent a house or something on the island."
"Exactly," Kono said, beaming. "It'll take a lot of phone calls, but at least we have a place to start."
Danny stayed on at work until he was way past tired and too ripe to stand himself any more. He swung past the place with the really good Thai takeout on the way home, putting in a call to Grace while he waited for his pad thai—what the hell, make it two, because no matter that Chin had stocked Steve's kitchen with enough food to feed an army, Steve was probably sulking on the couch with reheated mac and cheese from a box. He put in a few charming moments on the phone with Rachel, before giving in to her demands with as much dignity as the woman would let him muster, and headed for Steve's.
Steve was, as Danny expected, slouched on his couch, glaring at his TV like the football game he was watching was personally offensive to him. He'd changed out of the clothes he'd worn home from the hospital, shaved, and there was a cup of tea on the coffee table, but otherwise he looked like he might have been vegetating on the couch for days. Danny glanced at the screen—winced a little and jeez, maybe with a score that lopsided Steve did have a right to be offended—before turning it off.
"I was watching that!" Steve snapped.
"Sure you were, princess," Danny said, dropping the paper bags of take out on the coffee table before foraging in the kitchen for plates and silverware. Just because Steve was comfortable living in a tree for three days, eating raccoons with his bare hands or what have you, didn't mean Danny wasn't inclined to do things the civilised way. "But now you and me, we are going to eat dinner like normal people."
Steve ducked his head into the paper bag, muttering something darkly.
"I heard that!" Danny said—not that he had, but he was an old hand at translating McGarrettese by now, he took the insults as understood—snagging the bottle of soy sauce from the cupboard and ambling back over to the living room. "Now shut up, eat that, it's got vegetables in it, vitamins, minerals, what have you. Your poor deprived nutritional system will thank me later."
Steve rolled his eyes but he dumped the pad thai onto his plate with a drawl of yes mom and ate with the kind of appetite Danny rarely saw outside of fifteen year old boys. It was more than a little disgusting, but Danny supposed it was better than the exercise in mastication that had been the now infamous loco moco lunch. Crazy snot, indeed.
"So am I allowed to ask if you've made progress?" Steve said snidely once half his rice was gone.
Danny made a silent resolution to call his mom soon, apologise for being a thankless little shit between the ages of thirteen and twenty-two, and said, "Yes, yes you are. Note how the speaking does not involve physical peril. No jumping off cliffs, no taking a corner on two wheels, no—"
"For the love of god," Steve said, looking hollow-eyed and frustrated and okay, sue him, Danny took pity on the guy.
"We have some leads—nothing concrete yet, so no strapping on your thigh holster, Mr Impetuous. Kono and me, we got maybe a paper trail, but it's going to take a day or two for us to follow it back to the source, okay?"
"Fine," Steve said. There was a silence for a moment while he poked at the food on his plate. Danny braced himself, because with Steve McGarrett, no silence lasted for long. "Can I at least just go into headquarters during the day? I can just sit there, field calls, go through files, help you guys out, something. I’m going crazy here."
Danny threw his hands up in the air, a lump of rice flying off the end of his fork and sticking to the TV screen. "Why are you so fucked in the head? Why? No, don't answer that, do not, shut up, I don't even want to know. What part of 'convalescent leave' don't you understand? And even if you're one of those freaky workaholic people"—here Danny was just going to ignore the fact that 'you're more married to your job right now than you are to me' was one of the top ten reasons why Rachel had dumped his sorry ass—"who can't stay at home for a day without getting the sweats, can I take this opportunity to remind you that the very nice, very scary surgeon lady said that you cannot engage in any serious physical exertion right now? If Chin lets you through the door of Five-O, you're going to start the day filing, but you'll end the day paragliding off a volcano or something. Riding around on the backs of sharks. You do that, you pull your stitches, you tear something that's trying to heal, and boom. You know how fast you can bleed out from an arterial tear, my friend?"
"Yes," Steve said bluntly, jaw working, and okay, Danny wasn't even going to ask how Steve knew that, because being a ninja SEAL robot clearly involved some scary shit which Danny was both respectful of and not inclined to examine too closely. Moving on, moving on. Danny needed a beer.
"So okay then," Danny said, sitting back. "Logic. It's your friend. I'm glad we're recognising it. Aristotle would be proud."
Steve stabbed at a lump of chicken. He had a tight, miserable look on his face. "I just, you know. I want to be doing something, Danny. I don't want to sit around here while you guys are, you know."
"Yeah," Danny said, setting his plate down on the coffee table. "About that." He took a deep breath. "I got this call from Rachel on the way over here. She and Step-Stan have to go to Hong Kong for this thing—some new hotel or something, Stan’s company’s doing a major audit and wants to bring in the big guns."
Steve nodded, a look of understanding on his face even though he’d never seen Rachel wield a profit and loss account like it was an offensive weapon. "Yeah, I can see how Rachel'd be good at that."
"Which means," Danny said, "that Grace's going to need someone to take care of her for a week. Normally I'd just take the time off work, but that's not going to fly this time—this case, I'm going to be working crazy hours, and I need to know that there's someone around who can look after her in case those assholes have buddies who want to try something else with my family."
Danny could see the moment when Steve got where this was going—his eyebrows shot up, his jaw went a little slack. "You want me to take time off work so I can babysit your kid?"
"The correlation here is not causation!" Danny said, holding his hands up. "I merely noticed that you are free, that Gracie is in imminent need of a caretaker—someone to wipe noses and provide PB and J and, you know, effective protection from goons with Uzis. Frankly, it works out very neatly."
Steve stared at him for a long moment. "Babysitting. Grace."
“That is the gist of my request here, yes. What, am I using words of too many syllables here?”
“You don’t even like trusting me with your car! Now you’re asking me to—” Steve’s expression shifted suddenly, from bemusement to something more cautious, like Steve had this new idea in his head, this hypothesis, that he was turning over, examining from half a dozen different angles.
Danny wasn’t sure he wanted to know what that idea was. He picked back up his fork, shovelled up another mound of rice, looked down steadfastly at his plate so that he wouldn't have to meet Steve's eyes. "You, my daughter, the preventing of both your deaths. I do not see how this is a complicated issue."
"I—okay," Steve said, and apparently that was that, decided. They finished eating in silence, and then Steve threw a pillow at Danny and told him he stunk, and wouldn't let him watch the rest of the game on Steve's new and obnoxiously huge high-def TV until Danny grabbed a shower in Steve's bathroom.
"This is ridiculous," Danny said, shuffling back down the stairs into the living room. One of Steve's old USNA t-shirts fit him just fine, but he'd had to roll up the cuffs of the sweatpants a couple of times and he was still in danger of tripping over them. "I look ridiculous."
Somehow, even though Steve was still perched on the couch and Danny was standing up, Steve managed to look down his nose at Danny. Freak. "You're making me work as your unpaid manny for a week. Suck it up, Danno."
"Touché," Danny said, and tossed a cushion at him. "The rapier wit of Steve McGarrett. Also, please never use the term ‘manny’ again, I don’t even want to know how you know it." He flopped down next to Steve on the sofa and they watched in companionable silence as a whole bunch of men earned ridiculous amounts of money for inducing traumatic brain injuries in one another. At the end of the third quarter, Steve made popcorn and they bickered for a little bit about whether or not to add more salt, just for form’s sake—Danny ended up with a couple of kernels down the back of his shirt; Steve got some kernels caught between his teeth, which made him look all kinds of goofy every time he grinned over at Danny—and Danny felt some tight knot in his chest ease for the first time in days. He dozed off right there on the couch, TV turned down low, Steve a warm constant by his side.
The next day, Danny collected Grace from Rachel's at an obscenely early hour. Rachel and Step-Stan were taking the morning flight to Hong Kong, which meant that Danny was handed an armful of semi-comatose, sleep-smelling Gracie on Rachel's doorstep. "Hey, monkey," he crooned, putting her gently into the back seat of the Camaro along with a blanket and her favourite pillow. "Just you and me and Steve this week, kiddo. Fun, huh?"
"Do try not to get up to anything untoward, won't you, Daniel?" Rachel said. She looked sharp and sleek, hair pulled back in a bun, eyes hidden behind a pair of designer sunglasses that probably cost Danny's monthly rent. Stan walked past them and into the waiting car with little more than a grunt for Danny; just the level of familiarity Danny wanted from him. "Though I'm sure Commander McGarrett will be a moderating influence." Her lips quirked slightly upwards.
Danny stared at her.
There was a pile of Grace's things to put in the trunk—clothes, toys, books, a large stuffed monkey called, for reasons Danny was still unclear about, Pig—all of which Steve regarded with utter bemusement when Danny decanted it on his front door step. "That's a lot of stuff," he said, giving Danny the stink eye, "for a week."
Danny spread his arms wide. "Welcome to the real world, my friend," he said, "where people, and especially little kids, need more to clothe, feed, nurture and sustain them than a sharp knife and an ability to cling to trees using prehensile monkey toes."
Steve's eyes went wide. "I don't have monkey toes."
"Your toes are practically identical to those of a monkey," Danny said, carrying Grace inside the house. "Very hairy, far too long to be human. Would cause revulsion in a lesser man than me."
"I hate you," Steve said, but Danny didn't miss the way he winced when he stooped to pick up some of Grace's stuff and carry it inside.
"Have you taken your painkillers yet?" he asked. "No, I forget who I'm asking, a single Ibuprofen is a sign of terminal weakness amongst your people. The other Steve Monkeys would be out there overthrowing their leader at something like that. Do me a favour and take the painkiller the doctor was nice enough to prescribe you, okay, before I am forced to put you in a headlock and ram it down your throat myself."
"Your bedside manner needs some work," was all Steve said, but he obediently made his way into the kitchen, poured a glass of water and swallowed two pills from the bottle on the windowsill.
"Thank you for that gesture," Danny said. "Truly, you are magnanimous; a prince among men. She takes her toast with peanut butter—crunchy, not smooth—apple juice for preference, though she'll have OJ if it's going, and do not, do not let her spend the entire morning eating refined sugar or watching cartoons or, like, learning how to wrestle with an octopus or something. Especially the sugar part—that high fructose crap and Gracie together is bad, bad news. Put something educational into the morning schedule. Culture. You got me?"
Steve blinked at him.
"Excellent," Danny said, stooped to brush a kiss against Grace's forehead where she lay sleeping on the couch, and was gone out the door.
At headquarters, Chin was drinking a cup of coffee so thickly brewed that Danny was surprised it hadn’t melted the spoon. "Rough night?" Danny asked around his mouthful of breakfast burrito, acquired along with some gas at the nearest 7-Eleven.
The corner of Chin's mouth curled up. "Starting to feel glad that Steve's the one who has to deal with the governor on a regular basis, not me."
Danny winced in sympathy. "That bad?"
"Maybe even a little worse," Chin said. "Two am phone calls are not my idea of a fun time. HPD brass are hassling her about this whole mess, saying it's proof the unit should be shut down, and a hassled governor is an unhappy governor."
"Right, yeah," Danny said, flipping the bird in the general direction of the closest police station, "of course, because we invited these guys to come in and start shooting up downtown. Christ almighty." It was way too early for Danny to be drinking, but he was starting to regret that the Governor had cleared out Steve’s beer stash the last time she was here
"If you want to explain it to her, you're more than welcome," Chin said.
"Explain what to her?" Kono said, striding in. With the exception of the bandage on her arm, you'd never know that she'd recently been injured—her hair was bouncy, her eyes bright, and her henley was so crisp-looking it might as well have been starched. Sometimes looking at her made Danny feel ancient.
"You don't even want to know," he said, "politics," which earned him a paperclip, aimed with unerring accuracy at his head.
Danny spent a very frustrating couple hours on the phone with the owners of every two-bit motel on this side of the island. A lot of them didn't even want to talk to him—seemed like a certain member of the Five-O had acquired a nasty habit of kicking in bedroom doors and screwing with people’s insurance—so Danny took to faking a piss-poor Minnesota accent and pretending he was Olaf Sturluson from over in HPD. Things went a little more smoothly after that, and Danny even thought they'd got a solid lead at one point—only the woman staying in Room 249 of the Aloha Inn turned out to be the real Julie Jackson of Kansas City, not the pretend Julianne Jackson of Oakland, California, and boom, right back to square one again.
It was noon before he got his first call from Steve. Even as Steve spoke, Danny could sense an aura of intense McGarrettness, just crackling over the connection. Danny sat back in the chair and grinned. "Steven?"
"Daniel," Steve said, and oh boy, this was going to be a doozy. "Your daughter is painting my toenails."
"Oh," Danny said, putting as much smug satisfaction into his tone as he could possibly muster—and that, he was proud to say, was quite a bit. "I see."
"My toenails," Steve said in a very careful voice, like Danny hadn't heard him loud and clear the first time, "have polish on them."
"Uh huh," Danny said, and gestured at Kono and Chin to come over, put on the speakerphone. "Should I enquire what colour your toes are now?"
"Blue," Steve said, "They are blue, Danny."
Kono stuffed her fist in her mouth to stop herself from giggling out loud. From somewhere, Chin produced a recording device and held it close to Danny's cell phone. Danny really did love Chin.
"I think blue's kind of fetching," Danny said. "Goes with the whole army—"
"—Navy thing, that's what I said the first time."
"I'm going to—"
"Okay," Danny said briskly, half joking and half utterly serious, "I know that whatever you're about to say is not something that should be said in front of my little girl, ever, you hear me? Or I will end you."
He could practically hear the vein popping outwards in Steve's forehead. It was glorious. "Fine."
"I'm glad we had that little chat," Danny said, then, raising his voice a little, "Monkey, you there?"
"Hi Danno!" Grace yelled, at a volume which told him that Steve had in fact not given her peanut butter and toast for breakfast, but one of those cereals that was six different kinds of high fructose corn syrup and colourings. Whatever sympathy Danny may have had for Steve and his pretty blue toenails vanished. "Me'n Steve are having fun!"
"I'm sure you are, monkey," Danny said fondly. God, she was great. Next to him, Kono had started wheezing, had to sit down on a chair and rest her head in her hands. "Hey, do you have that camera that Stan gave you?"
"Yeah!" Grace yelled into the phone, loud enough that Danny was glad he didn't have it near his ear. He was fond of having eardrums.
“Why don't you use it to take a picture of Uncle Steve's lovely pedicure, huh? I'm sure he wants to remember this experience."
Kono had been reduced to damp little hiccups of glee; Chin was already emailing a sound file to Steve, because half the fun of blackmail material was being able to dangle it over the head of the blackmailee. Eh, Danny thought, ending the call. Sometimes life was pretty good.
Lunch for Danny was a tuna sandwich, mostly eaten in enormous bites during the walk between Danny's desk and the car—a contact of Chin's had called in, saying he'd just rented a small house to a young haole couple out in ʻEwa Beach. The social security number they'd given was the same as the one stolen from the Jacksons and they’d paid for both the deposit and the first month’s rent in cash. "And somehow," Danny said as he started the car, "I don't think the Jacksons decided to go on vacation in Hawaii right after being tied up for five hours while a gang works over their house."
Kono directed him down a series of curving suburban streets, neat little two-storey homes painted in pastel colours with palm trees growing outside. Danny would have been lost inside of five minutes, but Kono knew the island like the back of her hand and was able to say left, left, right, fifth house down. Danny peered at it—nondescript, painted pale yellow, white wood trim. The lawn was neatly mowed. Not the first place he'd have looked for a gang threatening housewives with sawn-off shotguns and targeting cops out of the blue, but maybe that was the whole point here—the dangers of the suburban jungle, et cetera. Still.
"There's a paddling pool on the neighbour's front lawn," Kono said, brow furrowed. "With kids in it. Weird place for a hideout. Lots of people to keep an eye on you coming and going."
"Hrm," Danny said. "C'mon, let's check it out."
No one answered the door, because of course Danny's life was never that easy, delivering up suspects ready to cuff. He and Kono circled around the house, and because—"Aww, geez, no, you can't do that! Seriously, did they teach you nothing about procedure in the academy? This is so illegal, this is... no, fine, I'll come in with you"—because Steve McGarrett was a bad fucking influence on the rookie, Kono picked the lock on the back door and let the two of them into the kitchen.
Inside, it was a pretty standard rental house—looked like a bunch of display rooms from IKEA had been cobbled together, all pre-packaged artwork and flat pack furniture and it was, maybe, just a tad depressing that a criminal hideout was in better shape than the place Danny actually for real lived in. They made sure the house was clear and then, tugging on pairs of gloves, started to work their way through the place methodically, starting with the kitchen. Danny opened some of the cupboards, then frowned, jerked his head at Kono for her to come over and have a look. "This look odd to you?"
Kono shrugged. "Looks pretty good to me."
"Yeah, but... Organic quinoa, organic figs, organic whole-wheat pasta, organic goji berries, whatever the hell they are." Danny pushed some packages to one side, found a whole stack of cans at the back of the cupboard. "Not to mention every kind of lentil known to humanity, jeez. How many criminals have you met that are this concerned with their health?"
"Maybe they're like those triathletes," Kono suggested, looking inside some of the drawers, unearthing silverware and some packages of recycled napkins. "Trying to get themselves all pumped up before they start something. Or really pretentious, crunchy granola robbers."
"Yeah," Danny said, closing the cupboards with a thump, "but it wasn't like the other three were extra athletic or anything." He didn't really know how to get a handle on what had happened. These guys had to be a special kind of arrogant, thinking they could take out a bunch of cops in broad daylight, in the middle of a busy street and survive. Danny had grown up in a pretty bad part of Jersey, so he knew from arrogant and cocky gangsters, but this was something new even for him. "I don't know. Just something about this whole thing is a little off, you know?"
"Yeah," Kono said absently, rummaging through the last drawer. "Yeah, I'm starting to get that feeling too." She pulled out a large, square notebook, which had so many newspaper clippings and bits of scribbled on paper stuffed inside it that it had to be held closed with an elastic band. Danny moved over to take a look.
"What are we dealing with here?"
"I'm not sure," Kono said, flipping carefully through the clippings at the beginnings of the notebook so as not to disturb the order. "There's an awful lot of stuff here. It's hard to get a sense of any kind of order."
There were print outs from Google Maps, both of Hawaii and several places back on the mainland; newspaper articles about museums and technological innovations, puff pieces from the lifestyle section about the rich and famous and their ginormous houses; creased photocopies of building layouts; sketches and schedules in a couple of different hands; a doodle on a scrap of stationery from an Ivy League university. "I have no idea how this is relevant," Danny said, "but I'm willing to bet this is not just an innocuous scrapbooking habit, here."
"Elementary, my dear Williams," Kono said. She dug out a notebook and started to scribble down some of the places mentioned—Philadelphia, Boston, Westchester, Santa Monica, Chicago, Berkeley—together with the university name and a list of dates written on the last page. 3rd, 24th, 19th—Garrett. 19th, 27th, 1st—Sara. Others—next. Back home. NYT.
They put everything back as they had found it and slipped out of the house. Kono frowned over the list as Danny drove back. "I can't make out any real obvious pattern of dates or anything, but the last place on the list here, Berkeley—that's not so far outside of San Francisco, right?"
Danny snapped his fingers; he got where she was going. "Not so far from where the Jacksons were robbed, either."
"Maybe this is a record of their jobs?" Kono suggested.
Danny shrugged. "Your guess is as good as mine—but I think that's a pretty good guess."
Chin, being skilled in all manner of things virtual and cyber and other stuff Danny had never quite understood, was quickly able to take their scattered scraps of information and make a narrative out of them. From Garrett and Sara and the name of the university, he found a list of recent grads. There were Saras aplenty among those who'd graduated in the last three years—but only one Garrett, a grad from last year. Once he had a full name, it took Chin a matter of moments to pull up a Facebook page. Danny groaned. "Are these people trying to drive me crazy?" He hated Facebook—his cousin Anna had talked him into signing up for it back when he'd first moved here, as an easy way of keeping in touch with family, and all it got him was the joy of seeing some really bad old photos of him, up there for the world to see, and unwanted messages from people he'd purposely never seen again after high school.
The page was hidden or locked or squirrelled away, whatever the term was, but Chin did something that was maybe moderately illegal—hey, he was the boss, Danny wasn't going to say anything—and had the full profile on the screen for them in a matter of minutes. "Okay," he said, scrolling down, "let's see what we've got here."
"Looks like your basic profile," Danny said, skimming it. "Birth date, home town, university. Lots of photos. Pretty small group of friends though, for a recent college grad."
"But one of them's a Sara," Kono said, pointing at the screen. Tracking through the profiles, the same names came up over and over again, all of them friends with one another, few of them friends with anyone else—like some kind of weird virtual clique.
Names of possible suspects acquired, Chin set to work gleaning what he could about them from online. Kono, yawning, declared she was going home to take a shower and change the dressing on her arm, maybe lie down for a little while. Danny thought that sounded like an excellent idea. He swung by his apartment to shower and scrape a couple inches of stubble off his face, and drove over to Steve’s rejoicing in the feeling of clean clothes and a freshly knotted tie. When he let himself in the front door, he found Steve standing in the middle of the living room, looking a little shell-shocked. "You okay there, buddy?"
Steve looked over at him, expression wavering between a glare and a smile. "I thought this whole childminding thing was so I wouldn't get injured again."
Danny cocked an eyebrow at him.
"She screams," Steve said, narrowing his eyes. "A lot. And you have to buy me a new bottle of laundry detergent. And there's the... running."
"Williams' lungs," Danny said, feeling proud. "Healthy. This before or after she had her nap?"
"Her nap," Steve said slowly, like this was a concept he was just hearing about for the first time.
Danny sighed. Maybe he should just have hired a very expensive, temporary au pair instead. He'd told Rachel asking Steve to do this was probably a bad idea, no matter how much less emotional upheaval it would inflict on Grace to be looked after by someone she knew. "Yeah, her nap. Kids need naps after a little bit of running around like loons, otherwise it does something to, I don't know, their blood sugar, hormones. Something like that. Like feeding a gremlin after midnight or something. You feed them, you play with them, then you put them down for an hour or so—keeps them happy, keeps you sane, you understand me?"
Steve rubbed at the back of his neck. "Yeah. Maybe."
"Good," Danny said. "Where is she? I thought maybe we could take her out for dinner before I head back to HQ, help Chin out with this lead we have."
"Um." Steve looked shifty. Danny hated it when he looked shifty. "Well, she's asleep now."
"What?" Danny said, throwing his arms wide, because he had an inkling and that inkling was saying he wasn't going to like where this was heading. "What?"
"She kind of, uh. Went to sleep on the trampoline."
"The trampoline," Danny said carefully. "Grace is asleep on the trampoline."
"The toy store delivered," Steve said, like it mattered, like it would make a positive difference. "Even set it up for me. No strain on my lower back at all." The bastard had the nerve to smile, like he thought he’d just done something good for Danny and that was thrilling for him.
"You are—I don't—That's—" Danny flapped his hands, seeking desperately for some way to vocalise the sheer exasperation that was Steven J. McGarrett; a bundle of irritation in too tall, robot ninja form. "They promoted you? They actually gave you rank, some shiny medals, they let you be in charge of people? And a gun?"
"Yes?" Steve said warily, looking at Danny down his nose like he thought maybe this was a trick question. Then his face brightened. "Oh! Knives, too."
Danny took them out for pasta, refused to let Grace have dessert when he heard what Steve had let her eat all day, and then had to put up with dual pouts from across the table. "You are doing terrible things to my appetite with those faces," Danny said, dabbing at a spot of marinara sauce on his tie, "the both of you, seriously." But then Gracie dozed off in his lap again on the ride home, and Steve drove five miles beneath the speed limit the whole way, thanked Danny for dinner with his best Boy Scout manners and a duck of his head, saying that he’d missed having him around today, and okay, well, if people were going to be on their best behaviour here, then maybe Danny wouldn't demand a do-over for the entire day after all.
Danny left Steve on the sofa—handed him the painkillers and a glass of water, watched Steve take them while Danny located a rerun of Die Hard on TV. Movie of champions. "Okay," Danny said, turning the remote over to Steve. "I'm going back to HQ. There's every chance we're going to be working extra late tonight, but Grace should be fine in your guest room once you leave the light on in the hallway. You, sit, watch the movie, try this strange new concept called relaxation and remember—if John McClane does it on screen? Do not do it in real life."
"Sure, Danno," Steve said, mouth quirking, eyes bright, “thanks,” and Danny had the strangest feeling that Steve was thanking him for something that Danny wasn’t quite getting here, so he muttered all the way out of the house and into the car.
Back at the Five-O, Chin had a full list of names waiting. Kono was pouring over them already, making notes on the printouts in her minute, even handwriting. "I think I've found the group we're up against," Chin said. "At least seven, maybe a couple more. All of them are from upper middle class or wealthy backgrounds, and all went to the same elite university on the East Coast. They're all very bright kids, majoring in engineering, physics, pre-med, but none of them seem to have found a job after graduation. It’s like they just slipped off the grid." With a few taps of his fingers, he called up a series of newspaper articles. "And here's a series of high-profile bank robberies, thefts from museums, and burglaries that have occurred over the past few months—all in the places you found on that list, almost all on the dates listed, too. At each one, at least a hundred grand was taken."
Danny whistled. "Still, it's a bit of a leap from a college clique to criminal masterminds, isn't it?"
"It is," Chin agreed, "but take a look at this picture. I found it in Garrett Andersen's Facebook profile." Another tap of the screen, and he called up a picture that looked like it was taken in someone's dorm room—a tiny space filled with people, cheap bottles of wine sitting on a computer desk, clothes kicked into a pile in the corner. Chin named the people who were piled together on the tiny single bed, beaming at the camera.
"Corina Banks, Garrett Andersen, Michael Atkinson, Sara Conn, Harry Waters, Oscar Boland, Jimmy Dubois."
"Hey, hey," Danny said, zeroing in on that last person. "Mr Dubois here, he look familiar to you?"
"Yeah," Kono said. "Our friendly rooftop shooter."
"So we have a solid link between our attackers and this group?" Danny said, staring down at the photos.
"Enough to bring them in for questioning," Kono said.
"We have a little more than that," Chin said, running a hand over his stubbled chin. He looked in need of a full night's sleep—Danny wondered if he'd really slept at all since the attack. "Garrett Andersen used his university email to register for his account on Facebook, but he has a secondary email address listed. I searched for that online, and found it attached to an otherwise anonymous blog."
He called it up in the browser and Kono and Danny read through it. Almost all of the posts consisted of single photographs, a lot of them black and white landscape shots—not stuff that Danny would have paid a lot of mind, if he didn't recognise some of these places. "Let me guess—these are all places that have been hit by this gang?"
Chin nodded. "I don't know if anyone's put it together before now—there's a pretty big distance between all these places, and the MO's are not very similar, but I'd bet that this group carried out all those crimes, and that this is either a way for Andersen to plan ahead—"
"Or a virtual place for him to gloat," Danny finished. "I hate it when they're arrogant. The arrogant ones are always the worse."
Kono scrolled up to the most recent entry, which wasn't a photo but a single line of text. She read it out: "It is in the compelling zest of high adventure and of victory, and in creative action, that man finds his supreme joys."
Danny frowned. "What's that from? Because don't tell me that guy came up with it himself."
Kono entered the phrase into Google. "From the guy who wrote The Little Prince," she said, raising her eyebrows.
"Now see," Danny said, "that just isn't right." He'd read some of that stuff to Gracie; sure, it read like the guy had smoked some slightly illegal stuff, what with the falling in love with a flower and all, but that didn't mean it should be quoted willy-nilly by assholes in order to justify a national crime spree. Hipsters. He looked at Chin, cocked an eyebrow. "What next, boss?"
Chin folded his arms, considering. "We could call in HPD now, arrest them, but we don't have enough evidence to really make any charges stick. We don't know if we've ID'ed all of them, and we don't know what they're planning. If we go in now, we risk spooking them and having them try to go ahead with their plans anyway."
Danny sighed. "Stakeout?" He hated stakeouts. Sure, there was a lot smaller risk of hypothermia doing them in Hawaii than there had been in Jersey, and the coffee was better, but stakeouts were 99% gnawing boredom with a 1% change of adrenaline-fuelled crazy; not to mention that Danny's knee wasn't so crazy at the thought of spending several hours cooped up in a car staring at a house.
"Stakeout," Chin confirmed. "You two have fun."
Chin went off to call a judge to get a warrant to permit listening equipment; to call the governor and let them know that they were making some sort of progress, even if it was more of the "confirming these people are out there and dangerous" kind than the "we've got them safe and sound in custody" kind. Danny, an old hand at these things, ducked into the bathroom and brushed his teeth with the toothbrush he'd kept at the Five-O ever since the incident with him, Kono, and the dumpster behind the sushi restaurant. Who knew when he'd get to brush them again, and Danny liked not having fur on his teeth. He also grabbed an industrial size bottle of ibuprofen, because hey, being able to move his knee would be good, would be great, if he ended up having to chase down a suspect. He sent a quick text to Steve—gnoig staekout w/ knoo will let u knwo if anythnig happpens; Jesus, he hated these fucking smart phones, there was a misnomer if he ever heard one, not to mention his goddamned goofy thumbs—and ignored the text he got in return—why cant i come? im capable of sitting quiet w/ you. grace making me listen to bieber kid.
They parked down the street from the house just after dark—well-equipped, Danny thought, what with the vat of coffee they'd poured into two over-sized travel mugs; the two thick-cut sandwiches sitting on the back-seat in a paper bag; the bottle of ibuprofen, the guns strapped to their hips, the really appalling music Kono had playing softly on the radio.
Danny twitched. "You know, you don't have to take after Steve in all things. Or most things. Anything, really," he told her.
Kono arched an eyebrow at him. "What, the music? This isn't the kind of music Steve listens to. Steve's a Greatest Hits of Mullet Rock kind of guy. If he's drunk and near a bar jukebox, you're going to get the collected works of REO Speedwagon and Journey while he asks the bartender if they think he’s pretty."
"Nuh uh," Danny said, pointing at the stereo. "I've heard the kind of music Steve McGarrett plays in my car and it's all 'Sexy Eyes' and 'When You're in Love with a Beautiful Woman.' It's disco and people with terrible facial hair and flares big enough to house a medium sized family. The man has no auditory shame."
"Hrm," Kono said, taking a contemplative sip of her coffee. "My oldest brother was conceived to that song, my mom says."
"Jesus Christ," Danny said, clapping his hands over his eyes. He’d met Mrs Kalakaua; thinking about her having sex was like imagining Mrs Claus doing the nasty. "Your mom ever heard of the term ‘over sharing’?"
"Pretty sure she invented the concept," Kono said blithely, tearing open two sugar packets and dumping them into the coffee. The things she did to coffee were utterly horrendous, Danny thought, given that she'd been born and raised on an island which even he had to admit was able to produce a world-class cup of joe.
"Yeah," Danny grumbled, settling lower down into his seat, staring across the street at the house where still, nothing was happening. "Her and Steve McGarrett, such is my life. Such is Hawaii."
Kono set her mug down in the cup holder, looked at him with an eye that was way too jaundiced for such a rookie cop. Jeez, the trouble with kid sisters, even of the proxy variety. "Danny," Kono said mildly. "Why does everything come back to Steve with you?"
Danny opened his mouth. He held one finger up in the air by way of punctuation, but he couldn't come up with any answer that wouldn't just raise more questions right now—though whether from Kono or himself, he wasn't quite sure. He closed his mouth.
Kono rolled her eyes, and for a moment, Danny was tempted to blurt out something really stupid—had it on the tip of his tongue to point out that it had been months since his life had revolved around anything other than the twin poles of Gracie and McGarrett, so why wouldn’t Danny be talking about him?— but that was even more uncomfortable to think about. In fact, it had some implications that were downright horrifying. Danny tried to put it out of his mind, squirmed a little in his seat, settled for saying, "Are we conducting a stake out here, or are we just stopping off for a late evening chat and a coffee, hrm?"
The equipment Chin’d given them had a pretty astounding effective range. Frankly, it made Danny a little uncomfortable, knowing that people could listen in to what you were doing and saying so clearly, without you being any the wiser. A car drew up to the house a little after eleven. Kono pulled out a camera with a long lens and snapped a couple of pictures—it definitely looked like some of the suspects, getting out of the car and walking up the path to the front door. Banks, Andersen; either Atkinson or Waters, it was a little hard to tell from behind. Kono sent a text to Chin with the license plate of the car the suspects were driving; Danny switched on the device as the door closed behind him.
Of course, it wasn’t like Danny was expecting them to immediately start talking about their villainous plans as soon as they walked through the door, indulge in a fit of moustache-twirling evil or something, but he had hoped for a little more than exhilarating conversations about flossing and arguments as to whether or not Jersey Shore was a brilliant post-modern experiment in exposing the hypocrisy of public discourse.
“I hate these people,” Danny said, apropos of nothing.
“Uh huh,” Kono said. “Okay, I’m going to sleep first. You call me if they do… something,” and then she dropped off right there in the seat, like this car was as comfy as a bed and she had a pillow at her back. Sometimes Danny really hated not being in his twenties anymore.
“Oh, I’m just going to sleep first, she says,” he grumbled to himself. “Well, that’s… well, fine.” He sighed, rolled his shoulders against the back of the seat, tried to find a position that wasn’t awkward. For some reason, bitching about stuff was a lot less fun when neither Rachel nor Steve were around.
A little after one in the morning, Danny was pulled away from his idle contemplation of the suspects’ house—now in darkness—and his attempt to reconstruct from memory the mix tape he’d made for Emma Giordano in tenth grade, by the feel of his phone vibrating in his pocket. He pulled it out—the glowing screen of his iPhone proclaimed ‘pain in my ass (mobile)’, a picture of Steve’s gurning face above it.
“Got anything?” Steve said, as soon as Danny took the call.
“Glad to hear you observe the social niceties,” Danny said. “Why no, Steven, I’m not too cold or sore, sitting out here in a car on a suburban street in the middle of the night, but thank you for your solicitude. It’s nice to know you care.”
“You’re a very touchy man,” Steve said.
Danny snorted. “Tell me something my divorce lawyer doesn’t know. And in answer to your question, we have little. We have disgustingly little. These people obviously don’t believe in discussing their plans out loud. We’re keeping an eye on them, going to see where they head in the morning, but right now, it looks like these people have two settings—armed showdowns or fighting over Snooki.”
There was a moment of silence on the other end of the line. “A Snooki?” Steve said warily, like the syllables were absolutely foreign in his mouth and he couldn’t quite figure out if this was a strange new method of discussing feelings Danny had invented.
“Long story,” Danny said, “tell you later,” or hopefully never, because he wasn’t that enamoured at the thoughts of explaining Snooki and the intricacies of GTL to anyone. “How’s Grace?”
“She made me watch things,” Steve said. “Weird things.”
That didn’t exactly narrow the field of possibilities down much. Thanks to Grace, Danny had become very familiar with the offerings of Nickelodeon, the Discovery Channel (Danny always hated it when the lions caught the little baby antelope; they couldn’t edit that shit out? It was disturbing), and most infomercials. “Weird how?”
“There was a sponge,” Steve said, “and it lived in an underwater pineapple and wore pants.”
“Ah,” Danny said knowledgeably. He was familiar with the comic oeuvre of Mr Squarepants.
“Freaked me out a little,” Steve admitted. Over the phone line, Danny could hear a faint whistling sound and then the click of a cupboard closing—Steve must be making tea. “Like that time in college I…” He stopped speaking abruptly.
Danny, very nobly, repressed a snicker. “I promise I won’t tell anyone about that one time you ate a mouthful of pot brownie and tripped for a week, Mr All-American Boy Scout.”
“Hey!” Steve said, sounding wounded, affronted. “It was at least half.”
“Sure it was,” Danny said magnanimously. “A whole half of a pot brownie that one time. You take your painkillers?”
“Yes, mom,” Steve said. “I am all doped up, dressing changed.”
“Good,” Danny said, grinning, “I am glad to hear you’re going with the sensible option for a change, babe.”
Next to him, Kono groaned and rolled over. “Jesus Christ,” she mumbled into the headrest. “Don’t you two ever stop?”
“Welcome,” Danny said, with no small amount of smug schadenfreude, “to my world.”
The worst part of a stakeout was always that hour just before dawn, when the sky got perceptibly lighter but there was still no sign of the sun—even in Hawaii, it seemed, that was the time when there was a chill to the air that went bone deep, and when Kono shook Danny awake at 5.15, he had to chafe his hands together to get some feeling back in them.
“You got movement?” he said.
“Picked up some sound on the equipment,” Kono said, gaze fixed on the house. “Coming down the stairs, I think.”
They had maybe a five-minute wait before the three suspects from the night before walked out of the house. They got back into their car, a fuel-efficient Prius thing—and really they were just living the upper middle class stereotype here; the tall one, Atkinson, was squashed into the back seat, his knees practically up around his ears. Danny trailed them at a reasonable distance—back north to the freeway, east around the harbour and through downtown to the docks—while Kono called Chin, updated him on their location and probable destination. None of these so-called criminal masterminds showed the slightest hint of awareness that they might be followed—there was no taking of a circuitous route, no attempt to merge in and out of heavier traffic, to opt for side streets or circle a couple of times.
A short distance from the docks proper, the Prius pulled in on a side street. Danny and Kono drove on, circled back, stopped about a block behind them. Again, it didn’t look like anyone had noticed them—the terrible trio seemed more interested in bickering over a sheaf of papers.
“Seriously,” Danny said, “I hate these people. Can they just piss or get off the pot here already? What sort of self-respecting gangster doesn’t have this sort of thing sorted before they go out on a job?” His stomach growled, his knee twinged. Danny thought longingly of breakfast, proper breakfast, the smell of pancakes and bacon—though the last time he’d had one of those had been at Steve’s house, two weekends ago, when he’d called the whole team over for brunch and seemed to regard it a matter of military pride to stuff them all full of as much maple syrup, waffles and pancakes as possible. That had been good eating; all Danny had right now were the last few bites of a soggy sandwich.
After a few minutes, the group started their car again, driving slowly another two blocks down and stopping again. No point in Danny and Kono following them—they both knew what business occupied that part of the docks. “Kahala Importers and Distributors,” Kono said. “That's one of the biggest transport companies in the state. They supply most of Honolulu.”
Danny watched as Banks, her blonde hair glinting in the early morning sun, got out of the car and walked over to Kahala’s. She looked furtively left and right over her shoulder in a gesture which pretty much screamed I’m up to something illegal! even while she completely failed to notice the two cops sitting in a car not that far away. “You know,” Danny said, as she dug a pair of bolt cutters out of her shoulder bag, “they’re kind of embarrassingly bad at this. The only thing they’ve been any good at so far is getting themselves hurt.”
“Seriously,” Kono said, “that brand of bolt cutters just isn't up to much. With that diameter chain, you'd need—” Danny stared at her; she shifted awkwardly. “What? I’m just saying, it’s not how I’d go about the whole criminal mastermind thing.”
“Yes,” Danny said with a sigh, “yes, but you’re… we’re just going to go with the term ‘gifted’ here, gifted at anything that has to do with mayhem and destruction because you and Steve McGarrett, you thrive on this sort of stuff, but I would greatly appreciate it if you don’t set your mind to breaking into Fort Knox or instigating a world coup any time soon. I’m kind of fond of living in a democracy, such as it is.”
Kono beamed at him.
One of the others clambered out of the car after Banks, his arms full of something, and headed for Kahala Importers’ neighbour and competitor, Hidaka and Sons. “These people are really, just…” Danny shook his head, watching the kid attach an IED to a main door. He supposed they were lucky that nothing had gone off in the car on the way over here—probably they’d googled how to build a bomb, something stupid like that, maybe bought some plastic explosive online, and Danny wasn’t going to put much faith in their bomb-making abilities. He thought of an IED going off prematurely somewhere in downtown Honolulu, taking out the not just the car it was in but the ones around it and probably anyone on the sidewalk. How no one had caught them before now, he had no idea. “What the hell do they think this is going to get them? I fail to understand their motivations here.”
"Yeah," Kono said, drumming her fingers on the dashboard. "They're obviously looking for something that's coming into the island today, but they don't seem to know if Kahala or Hidaka are handling it. Those warehouses are big. Even if the six of them search…" Her fingers stilled. "Wait. There're three here—we know that there are at least six surviving members of the group, right? So where are the other three? Has to be the airport.”
"Shit,” Danny said. Most stuff that came into Hawaii was imported by ship, sure, but a lot of the more perishable stuff was flown in. So was the more valuable stuff. “Call HPD, tell them to get officers out there right away, many as they can spare.”
“On it,” Kono said.
While she dialled, Danny peered out the windscreen at the… “Oh, you’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” he said. The third one had gotten out of the car too, but instead of making merry with the C4 and the prospect of death and destruction, he was climbing up a fire escape onto the roof of part of the Kahala Imports complex. It seemed like he was looking for a skylight or something to let him in, and Danny was just unimpressed, seriously. “This is all my day needs. Kono,” he said when she’d hung up the phone, “you think you can get the two on the ground? I’ll go after Mr Free Runner here.”
“Sure, boss,” Kono said, grinning toothily. “You have fun.”
Then they were out of the car, guns at the ready, shouting “Police! Police, hands in the air!” and running towards the three of them and okay, Danny had to admit that this was not his least favourite part of the job. Was it fun to have his knees ache and his shirt start to stick to his back with sweat and to have to run up a flight of stairs after a skinny undergrad who looked like he should still be back in high school? Not so much. But there was a certain kind of adrenaline rush you got from stuff like this, one deep and hot enough to hold off the aches and the pains for a little while, because it was good cop and bad guy and it was simple, easy, right.
He pounded up the stairs, metal steps shuddering beneath his feet. Out of the corner of his eye, below him, he could see one of the kids pull a gun on Kono, and only the fact that he needed to see where he was going stopped Danny from rolling his eyes. The safety was still clearly on; however poor the aim and crap the tactics of the first three who’d tried to take them out back on the diner, they’d clearly been chosen because they were this group’s equivalent of military geniuses. How they’d survived as long as they had against Steve McGarrett, Danny had no idea, but he was pretty sure he was going to be mocking Steve about it at some point in the not so distant future.
“You are under arrest,” Danny barked as he made it onto the rooftop. This kid—Andersen, Danny thought; their infamous photographer-blogger—had made no move to pull a weapon of his own, but he’d backed all the way up to the corner of the roof. His jaw was clenched, his eyes were a bright and flat blue; from underneath the arms of his t-shirt—which was a gaudy, ironic advertisement for a brand of weak-as-piss beer Danny hoped he was never desperate enough to drink—two dark patches of sweat were spreading quickly. “C’mon, on your knees, hands behind your head! Now! Now!”
Andersen shook his head, once, sharply. Danny couldn't tell if it was because he was making an attempt at bravado, or if he was arrogant enough to think he could still get out of this, or if behind that fancy degree lurked a strain of terminal idiocy.
“Seriously,” Danny said, his voice slowly rising in pitch, “do I look like I’m talking for the good of my health here? Down on your knees, hand behind your head!” He could see Andersen’s indecision quivering through the long muscles of his legs, the set of his spine—for a moment, he seemed to waver between trying to tackle Danny, take him down before Danny could get a shot off, and running away. The instinct for flight won out; Andersen turned and flung himself off the rooftop.
Danny swore sharply and pelted after him, looked down from the edge of the roof to see, not Andersen’s body lying crumpled in the alleyway below them, but instead Andersen recovering his balance on top of a rust-red shipping container. “Jesus Christ,” Danny said, and felt like he had no choice but to jump after him, even though it was six in the morning and the sun was already coming up hot on the horizon; even though he hadn’t yet had any coffee and somewhere at the back of his mind was floating an image of Steve, smirking at him in a very pointed manner.
Danny took a breath, backed up a step, took a flying leap, tried not to scream like an idiot as he made it across six feet of open air. He rolled on impact, came up on his bad knee and gritted his teeth at the pull and stretch in his ligaments. Much as it hurt now, it was going to hurt like fuck tomorrow, and then he’d have the joy of his physical therapist yelling at him and threatening that he’d not just make her quit her job, she’d quit and she’d have him blacklisted from every other physical therapist on the islands. He’d never incurred the wrath of an entire medical profession back in Jersey, Danny’d tell you that much for nothing. He never thought he'd live to see the day when he'd regard Hoboken as an island of peace and tranquillity. Hauling himself to his feet, he saw Andersen hobbling to the far end of the container—must have twisted his ankle in the jump.
“Really?” Danny said, “You don’t want to end this here? Because it’s getting kind of embarrassing for both of us at this stage. Moriarty and Holmes at that waterfall, we are not.” Danny caught the first sound of approaching police sirens, carried on the breeze; figured Kono must have arrested her two. “The others are in custody, why don’t you just make this easy on the two of us? Or, okay, maybe just on me. Definitely on me, I’m the wrong side of thirty, these things aren’t so smooth for me anymore.”
Andersen gave no sign of having heard him—he ran the final few feet of the container, then launched himself into the air, aiming for the one next to them. The distance of the jump this time had to be smaller than from the roof onto this container, but Andersen stumbled and fell on landing, hit his head on the metal. Danny sighed, walked to the edge of the container, looked across at Andersen. Out cold. It was probably a bad sign that Danny’s first thought was how much easier it would be to read the Miranda rights to someone who had a head injury. “God help me,” he said, tilting his head back so he could look up at the morning sky. “I’m turning into McGarrett.” He’d barely said that aloud when he heard a voice in his head—an echo of Kono’s words from last night.
Why does everything come back to Steve with you?
He was halfway down the ladder when he got it—at which time he cursed, almost lost his footing on the rusty rungs, and ended up having to cling there for dear life while his brain experienced a minor sexual epiphany and his heart turned over a couple times in his chest. He was tired, he was hurting, he was hungry—he just didn’t have it in him to repress anymore. Steve? he asked himself. Seriously?, but apparently the answer his hindbrain was pushing was yes. Steve, he wanted Steve, and Kono had probably been very nice not to just slap him upside the head and tell him, instead of letting him work it out for himself. “Jesus Christ on a bike.” Danny rested his head against the warm metal side of the container, contemplated maybe just hanging out there for a while until the whole world stopped being so very, very fucked in the head.
Of course, that was the point at which Danny heard from below the concerned yet understandably wary voice of Sergeant Nakamura. “Uh. Williams? You okay?”
“I’m good,” Danny said, “I’m fine,” giving into the urge to hit his head once, with moderate force, against the side of the shipping container.
“Okay, brah,” Nakamura said, tone clearly conveying this is so far outside of my pay grade with a chaser of everything I’ve ever heard about the Five-O is true. “Kalakaua’s got one cuffed already; she’s sitting on the other one’s head. She said you were in pursuit of one, too.”
Danny jerked a thumb to his right. “Top of the other container,” he said, before clambering the rest of the way down. “Book ‘em, would you?” And okay, maybe from this side of the equation, it was a fun thing to be able to say.
By the time Danny made it back to the street, having paused to let one of the other officers know they’d need to get the bomb squad down here ASAP, Kono was already bundling the second of her suspect into the back of a police car. It looked like she would have one hell of a bruise on her left cheekbone by the afternoon, but she was grinning and practically bouncing from foot to foot. “You are unnatural, you know that?” Danny said, “But, you know. Good job, you did good.”
Just as Danny was about to call Chin, fill him in one what had just gone down, Chin called him instead. “Where are you?” Chin said. In the background, Danny could hear screams and shouts—some panicked, some authoritative; airport police trying to get people out of the terminal, most likely. He couldn’t hear any gunshots, but now that he knew these people had cobbled together bombs from somewhere, that didn’t mean much. “You’re missing all the fun.” Chin was trying for wry levity, but there was no hiding the note of genuine tension in his voice.
“We’ve got the first three,” Danny said. “Uniforms are taking them to holding, we’re on the way.”
Danny’s knee was distinctly not happy with him, to the point that he'd probably be back using his cane the next day, so he let Kono drive. She had the lights going, sirens flashing, patented Steve McGarrett technique of forgetting it was possible to take your foot off the accelerator, and what should have been a ten, fifteen minute drive from the docks to the airport took them closer to five. Traffic parted around them as Kono drove, becoming sparser as they got closer to the airport and they passed through roadblocks that HPD had set up. Someone—Danny knew the guy’s face but couldn’t remember his name—waved them through and they drove straight for the main terminal.
Chin was there waiting for them, shotgun in hand, phone at his ear. He nodded when he caught sight of them, finished up the phone call. “Hostage negotiators are on the way. SWAT team’s already in position. We got most people out, but the group still got two or three dozen people in there, mostly airport employees. Looks like they were trying to get at something on a flight that's just come in from Tokyo. Security stopped them, but didn't figure on the hostages.” Chin’s mouth twisted as he spoke, like he found the words distasteful just to have on his tongue.
A dull throbbing started up in Danny’s temples. He scrubbed a hand over his face. “The negotiators know these people are not exactly compos mentis, right? Seem to think they're smarter than everyone else.”
“I think that’s in the job description for hostage negotiators,” Kono said wryly.
“Point,” Danny said, “you have a point. Okay, Chin, where d’you want us?”
Chin had plans of the terminal building—showed them where there was a side door they could go in through. “We’re still patched into the security camera feeds,” he said, walking them through the situation so coolly that not for the first time, Danny envied Chin’s ability to reach for calm. “It looks like they’re holed up in the baggage reclaim area, which is down one level. If we go in here, down this set of service stairs, it should bring us in behind them. If we’re lucky, we might be able to take them down before anyone gets hurt. There are five of them altogether, so two we’ve never seen before. One of the travellers who got out reported seeing wires on a vest that one of them was wearing, but we have no independent verification of that.”
“So basically,” Danny said, scratching at his jaw line where stubble was itching at his skin, “we’re relying on Kono’s ability to be a badass with a sniper rifle to stop the building from coming down around our ears?”
“Pretty much,” Chin said, his eyes crinkling up at the corners.
“You guys say the nicest things,” Kono said, patting Danny on the forearm. “Come on, time’s wasting.”
Five-O went in through one side door, a SWAT team making their way in through a baggage-loading bay. Danny felt fresh sweat break out along his back, under his arms, as he hurried down the staircase behind Chin, as quickly and as quietly as he could. The SWAT team, whatever, they were trained for this—they’d volunteered to make this their day job, but regardless of the crash course Danny had had in sheer batshit insanity since he’d arrived in Hawaii (and okay, this was going to be his rejoinder to Kono next time she brought it up: sometimes things really did all come back to Steve McGarrett, okay? Legitimately! Not because of any reasons that had to do with Danny’s pants and the contents thereof, thank you very much, end of story), he didn’t feel like he had the skills to stop a scenario like this as quickly and as bloodlessly as possible.
He didn’t feel any more reassured when they moved into the lower level. It looked like one of the hostage takers had become involved in a full-on screaming argument with one of the hostages—a tall, angular woman in a stewardess’ uniform who had her hands on her hips and a strident, carrying voice that Danny’s mother, god bless her, would have envied. Some of the hostages were weeping or huddled down behind desks, but others looked downright pissed, itching for a fight. The little group of Ocean's 11 wannabes looked completely out of depth, and all the angrier for it—which was not so reassuring, given they had submachine guns in their hands that they clearly didn’t have much experience using. At least there was no sign of a bomb strapped to anyone’s chest; panicky over-imagination on the part of the witness, it looked like.
A large advertisement on the wall leading into the reclaim area advertised Hawaii's aloha spirit in shades of red and purple. There wasn't much of that on display right now as far as Danny could see, but at least the argument was distracting the hostage takers for now as he and the others crept slowly along behind one of the baggage carousels. When the handlers had cleared out of the building, they’d obviously forgotten to turn the carousel off, and the bags from the most recent flight in from LAX were still trundling around on it. The noise and the movement gave them some extra camouflage. On the other side of the baggage reclaim area, Danny caught sight of a flash of black fabric which told him that the SWAT team had made it in and were doing the same.
“You can all just shut up! Because none of you are going to leave here,” Danny heard the lone female member of the group say, “not until we've got a plane to bring us out of here.” She was pacing back and forth, looking sweaty and dishevelled, her carefully straightened hair starting to frizz up; looking, Danny thought, a lot like someone who was watching all her carefully hatched, if admittedly somewhat incompetent and incomplete, plans fall apart.
“Do you even hear yourself?” said the angry stewardess. Her dark hair was starting to fall out of its neat bun; her cheeks had a frantic tinge to them. “When the hell does that ever work? Are you basing your plans on really terrible caper movies?”
“Sit down!” one of the men roared, waving his submachine gun in the air. “Shut up! All of you, all of you group together and sit down.”
"You had to do this on the day I start my vacation?" a woman with a broad Boston accent grumbled as the hostages shuffled together into a loose circle in the middle of the room. "You couldn't have waited til I was safely out of the airport and in my hotel room, even? This is my first break from work in six and a half years, and you have to ruin it for me. I bet my insurance doesn't even cover stuff like this."
God, Danny loved mouthy hostages. First, it reminded him a little of being back home, amongst his one true people—nothing people from Jersey loved more than mouthing off like it was a competitive sport. Second, it drew in the hostage takers’ attention. With the exception of one nervy looking redhead who kept his attention focused on the main door leading out of the baggage area, the rest of them were focused on keeping the hostages corralled.
It gave them time to get close, allowed the SWAT team to get into position so that they could do their thing—fanning out into a ring that surrounded the gunmen and their hostages, the Five-O making sure that the doors were secure and there was no escape route for the gunmen. “Drop your weapons, drop your weapons!” the SWAT team roared, loud enough that Danny was almost tempted to let go of his own gun—he wasn’t at all surprised to see most of the hostage takers do so, but of course one of them, the redhead, seemed to have decided he wasn’t going down without a fight. He got off a couple of shots, mostly wild, before a member of the SWAT team took him down—but one bullet hit the control mechanism for one of the baggage carousels, making it shriek to a shuddering halt; the other came perilously close to hitting Danny and he dived out of the way, landing awkwardly on his hip and feeling something give in his back, painful enough to make him swear long and loud.
He managed to flop over awkwardly onto his back, lying supine on the cool tile floor in the hopes that whatever had popped out would pop back in, and stared up at the ceiling while all around him echoed the aftermath. Footsteps, shouts, tears; Chin’s voice, raised as he co-ordinated with the leader of the SWAT team; the recriminations of the group’s members as they were handcuffed and carted off; Kono, soothing someone while she helped them to their feet; the soft whoosh sound of the automatic doors opening and closing as people hurried in and out.
After a little while, a face swam into focus—a woman stooping over him, with neat dark hair in a bob and a habit of blinking nervously. “Detective Williams? I’m Darlene—Darlene Harris-Lopez?”
Danny felt it was only appropriate to blink back up at her.
“I work at the Budget Rent-a-Car upstairs. You and that nice young detective stopped by the other day, asking about the young man who rented a car from us.”
“Uh huh?” Danny said.
She pointed over in the direction of the dead man lying on the floor; Danny turned his head to see that someone had already thrown a tarp over his head and upper torso, though his feet in their Converse were still uncovered, toes pointing in opposite directions. “I’m pretty sure that was him,” Darlene said, in tones of great confidence.
“Well,” Danny said, after a brief pause, “The HPD and I greatly appreciate your assistance, ma’am. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome!” Darlene Harris-Lopez said, blinking and dimpling at him, then vanished from view, leaving Danny lying there, looking back up at the ceiling once more. He lifted up his left arm, looked at his watch. 7.47am, and Danny had already assisted in the foiling of National Lampoon’s Hawaii Crime Spree Vacation, had a sexual epiphany, and put his back out. Maybe, if no one noticed he was here, he could just make himself comfy and have a nap. A nap sounded good right about now; a nap sounded greatness.
Eventually one of the paramedics ambled over in his direction, looked down at him and said, “You okay there, brah?”
Danny sighed up at the ceiling. “You know,” he said, “in a very long day filled with a great deal of stupidity, that is one of the more stupid things I’ve heard. I will, however, be magnanimous, I will overlook this, I will consider your words to be as holy writ, if you can help me up off this floor.”
“Sure thing,” said the paramedic, who turned out to be called Barney, to have a sister who was married and living in North Jersey, and to know a little bit of chiropractic. He put his arms around Danny’s waist from behind, and just as Danny was about to say whoa, hey, you haven’t even bought me dinner yet, a cocktail, a hot dog, something, I don’t put out that easy, he twisted something and the awful pain in Danny’s back faded to a dull ache.
Danny blinked, astonished. “Thank you,” he said. “Wow. I think you even cleared out my sinuses.”
Just as Danny walked outside—and under his own steam no less! A minor miracle—he was greeted by a frustrated-looking Kono.
“Here,” she said, thrusting her phone at Danny. She was holding an icepack up to her cheek, which had already come up a spectacular purple. “You talk to him or I’ll strangle him.”
Danny looked down at the phone, was entirely unsurprised to see that Kono had Steve entered into her phone as ‘Boss.’ Jeez, that explained at least, oh, four or five of Steve’s fifteen million issues. “Yeah, babe?”
“Danny?” Steve said in a voice so full of sweetness and light that Danny was instantly wary.
That was the tone of voice Danny had used on the phone to Rachel in the last few months of their blessed union, whenever Gracie had been around and Danny had clung to the little bit of class which told him that yelling at her mother in front of her was a bad idea. “Yeah?” Danny said again, wincing.
“You mind explaining to me,” Steve said in a very careful voice, “why I’m fixing breakfast for your daughter and watching footage on CNN of a developing armed robbery and hostage situation at Honolulu International Airport?”
“Um,” Danny said, trying to think of the best tack to take with this one. Diplomacy seemed in order here; the skilful choosing of words.
“I can’t believe you had an armed confrontation without me,” Steve hissed, and Danny knew that Steve was damaged, but Jesus, did he have to sound jealous that he’d missed the opportunity to be pelted with bullets by a group of middle class kids who’d smoked a little too much hemp? Danny was just going to ignore the faint but present undertone of worry, the note of fear that said Steve’d been staring at the TV, hoping that his people were okay.
“Oh,” Danny said, “whoops, what’s this, oh, I’m heading into a tunnel, Steve, the reception’s going to go. Yep, definitely driving into a tunnel here.”
“Danno—” Steve began, in a tone of voice that suggested his face was bright red, but really, Danny thought, discretion was the better part of valour. He turned the phone off, tossed it back at Kono.
“C’mon,” he said. “Paperwork later, breakfast first.” All the messy stuff could come later, would have to come later—both hell-raising assholes and Steve which, now that Danny thought about that, could he be entirely sure those were two discrete categories; no, he could not, and yet he still wanted to make with the sexy times with the man; how was this his life, for serious—but first, first, there would be blueberry pancakes. Extra syrup.
It was a little after lunchtime before Danny finally made it back to Steve’s house.
He’d put in a few hours fielding phone calls from the governor, phone calls from journalists, phone calls from Rachel who had of course seen a blurry aerial shot of him on CNN International and thought that the perfect way to express concern for the safety of her ex-husband was to call and harangue him and then to get all clipped and British and say, “I hope you’ve been thoroughly checked out by a doctor, Daniel.”
He’d sat in an interrogation room with Andersen, who somehow looked much more defiant and cocksure now that he’d been captured and had a clear path of resistance—act belligerent to the cops, speak with dripping disdain of how his parents would soon have a lawyer flown in from New York, smirk as he said he really didn't know why Detective Williams thought that he could link a simple case of misdemeanour, a case of youthful hijinks and trespassing, to the distressing events which had apparently occurred at the airport. Danny might have gone to a school that was a hell of a lot less fancy than this kid's, but he could still toss around the multisyllabic words if he wanted to—more than that, he was damn good at putting together evidence, and he wasn't the type to get afraid just because someone's father owned a place on Park Avenue.
Once him and Kono started playing Bad Cop, Cranky Cop, they got Andersen to start confessing to a whole string of crimes—the ones Chin had found and a couple more. It seemed like Andersen and his cohort had felt like the world owed them a living, and they'd graduated at the wrong time for Wall Street to give them one. High stakes crime had seemed like a better option—not, Danny had to admit, like it was maybe ethically that different from going to work at Lehmann Brothers, not until you got to the out-and-out shooting people.
The depressing part was that the group—from the impression Danny got, snobbish, cliquey, impressed with their own intellect and with not a clue how the world really worked—had come up with most of their plans from watching movies and reading books. They'd borrowed techniques from Bond movies, for God's sake, in order to break into a museum in San Francisco, and they'd decided on stealing a collection of priceless gems that was coming into Honolulu solely because one of them had stumbled across a story about the cache in an online news-feed. Andersen even admitted that the reason why they’d targeted the Five-O in the first place was because they’d read a news article in the online edition of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser lauding the unique crime-solving techniques of Steve McGarrett and company. Kono and Steve had nearly died—not even getting into the question of bystanders getting caught in the cross-fire—because some kids with lots of smarts but no sense had thought this was a good way of getting rid of the opposition.
“So what, you thought if you took us out, you’d be able to evade the entirety of the Honolulu Police Department with no problems? Just continue on your merry way?” Danny asked in tones of ringing disbelief. Andersen reverted back to looking like a mulish teenager instead of an amoral twenty-something, folding his arms and staring down at the table in silence; Danny went off to get more ibuprofen for his head and seriously, maybe he should consider buying shares in the company or something, because this was getting ridiculous.
He’d napped for forty minutes at his desk; woken up to find a Post It note from Chin stuck to his forehead saying, “Go home, get some food, some shut-eye and a shower. You’re ripe, brah,” and Danny was forced to admit that maybe he was putting off seeing Steve, just a little bit.
“Son of a fuck,” he said out loud to himself, and kicked at the trashcan by his desk. Kono, walking past the open door, paused and smirked at him and okay, fine, fine, he was going, jeez.
He stopped off at his place, showered, changed; did something about the stubble on his chin even if he couldn’t do something about how his eyes were so bloodshot he looked like he was coming off a four-day bender. Tie knotted with a precision that said he was going into battle, he stopped off at a Starbucks on the way to Steve’s, picked up a triple Americano, straight up, and downed it all while it was still hot enough to scald his tongue.
Danny told himself that it was the caffeine that made his fingers drum in an ever-quickening tempo against the wheel as he got closer to the house; that okay, maybe that was at best a half-lie; that fine, fine, he was in so far over his head he couldn’t even see daylight. He sat in Steve’s driveway for five minutes and was seriously contemplating hyperventilating a little when he looked up and saw Steve staring at him through the living room window. The man was a freak. Right. Well, there was nothing for it. “I’m going in,” he mumbled to himself, unbuckling his seat belt.
Steve opened the door, wearing an expression on his face that combined the worst aspect of Aneurysm Face and Constipation Face—his brow was furrowed, his jaw was clenched, his nostrils were flared like he was smelling something really foul.
Danny held up a hand in warning, pushing his way into the house even though Steve was doing his best impression of a man mountain, all immoveable muscle and surging testosterone. “It has been a long day! A long day, my friend, and it is not even two in the afternoon, so if you could save the pontificating, the whining, the competitive assholeishness for another day—”
“I spoke with Chin,” Steve said, following Danny into the kitchen. “He filled me in on what happened.”
“Uh huh? That's nice.” Peering through the window into the garden, Danny saw Grace jumping rope. Her hair was in lopsided braids that spoke more of dogged determination than any experience with a little girl’s hair; Danny couldn’t help the instinctive grin when he saw her. “Hey, monkey!” he called, and waved, but she couldn’t hear him.
“Which means I know about the spinal injury,” Steve said, with what Danny thought was an untoward degree of self-righteousness and worry for a man who’d broken as many bones as Steve had.
Danny cocked an eyebrow at him, made a series of hand gestures which he felt adequately conveyed his feelings of what the absolute fuck? “That was not a spinal injury! In what way does tweaking my back for a little bit count as a full-blown spinal injury?”
Steve pointed at him. “If that doesn’t count as a spinal injury, then neither does what happened to me! It never actually penetrated to my spine, so you can just call the governor up, let her know I can go back to work.” Steve actually looked pleased with that feat of illogic, like a puppy that’s just managed to kill the dangerous pair of shoes that was threatening its owner.
“You—I—” Danny gave serious thoughts to throttling him—he might be smaller than Steve, he might lack Steve’s training, but he was wiry, and he’d have the element of surprise. “I do not believe you, I do not understand you, your logic is made of green cheese and aliens. How does ‘Danny slips, suffers a brief and minor twinge in his back’ equate, either objectively or subjectively, to getting two and a half inches of glass propelled into your body, you enormous freak of nature!” Danny was uncomfortably aware he was panting, even more bemused that Steve didn’t seem at all moved by his reasoning.
“Uh huh,” Steve said, “Sure, you just want to set arbitrary standards—”
“Arbitrary?” Danny yelled, flinging his hands in the air. “You had major surgery!”
“This would never happen in the SEALs,” Steve said, like that was some kind of winning rhetorical device or some shit that was going to win him the argument, some kind of epic syllogism, and Danny was just about to start wondering where he could bury the body when Grace ran in from outside.
“Uncle Steve, can I have a sandwich p— Danno!”
“Hey, Gracie baby,” Danny said, hunkering down to hug her instead of picking her up, putting as much weight as possible on his good knee. He appreciated Barney’s assistance, but he wasn’t particularly in favour of getting up close and personal with the guy anytime soon again, either. “Are you having fun with Uncle Steve?”
Grace nodded exuberantly. “We had breakfast, and then we couldn’t go in the ocean because of Uncle Steve’s bandage and he didn’t want to let me go in by myself because that would be an… an…” She screwed up her forehead, finally recalling the phrase: “An unacceptable risk. So we walked along the beach with our shoes off so the water could tickle our toes and I held his hand just like he said and he showed me crabs and starfish and people surfing and clouds!”
“That,” Danny said, “sounds like a very excellent morning.”
“And then…” Grace said, sounding like she was picking up a head of steam, so Danny sat at the kitchen table while Steve piled a plate high with sandwiches, heated up some soup, set some coffee brewing. They sat around the table and ate, Grace chattering away, Danny savouring the slightly giddy feeling of his blood sugar getting back to something close to normal—he was a fair man, a man given to even-handed judgements, so he had to admit that Steve could turn out a creditable grilled cheese sandwich. Grace ended up with a bright red-and-yellow ring of tomato soup and sticky cheese around her mouth, and Danny had to endure the scrunched up face she made at him when he scrubbed her face clean.
“Just because you’re a monkey,” he told her, “doesn’t mean you have to eat like one. You learning bad manners from Uncle Steve?”
“Yes!” Grace said, beaming, which of course meant that Danny had no other choice but to tickle her mercilessly and then break out the first of the Harry Potter books for a reread. It wasn’t like Danny would claim that he could do a convincing British accent—even though he’d been with Rachel for almost ten years, he’d never managed to rise much above the Dick van Dyke level of faux Cockney, and he’d been outright forbidden to visit such indignities on Grace’s favourite characters. Still, he thought he brought a certain something to the role, a certain joie de vivre, if you would—and he’d made it all the way through to Hagrid’s arrival on the scene before Grace dozed off beside him on the sofa.
There followed a hushed battle—conducted through whispers and slapping at one another’s hands—which substituted for reasoned debate as to which of them had the back that could most hold up to carrying a little girl into the guest room. In the end, they agreed to leave her on the couch, burrowed beneath a soft wool blanket that Steve unearthed from somewhere, and the two of them went out on the lanai. From the cooler which was always mysteriously well stocked, even at the times when Steve insisted he was just too busy to find a grocery store, Steve dug out a bottle of beer for Danny and a bottle of iced tea for him.
Danny squinted at the bottle in Steve’s hand. “Seriously?”
“Can’t drink on painkillers, Danno,” Steve said, opening the bottle.
“But… passion fruit?” Danny said. A tea that wasn’t all about the caffeine, Danny didn’t get it—he’d been married to an Englishwoman for too long to think otherwise.
“Antioxidants,” Steve said sagely, like that was going to settle the whole argument right there. His face was perfectly composed, Boy Scout serious.
“Antioxidants,” Danny said flatly, clinking the bottles together. “Okay, sure. Antioxidants. Whatever works for you, my friend. Cheers.”
They drank in silence for a while, looking out at the primary colours of a Hawaiian afternoon. Danny noticed that Steve was barefoot; that he hadn’t removed the nail polish which Grace had applied with more enthusiasm than skill, so that his toe nails were still a vibrant blue. The sight made Danny duck his head and smile, pleased for reasons that even now he didn’t entirely understand.
After a couple of pulls at his bottle, Steve said, “No, really, so when are you going to debrief me?”
“Debrief you?” Danny said. “Okay, this might surprise you, but I didn’t enlist just because you commandeered me onto your little taskforce, babe,” but he dutifully re-enacted the stakeout, the docks, the airport for Steve. Bottles of beer and cans of soda dripped condensation onto the table as they took the place of the various people involved—Danny and Kono were played by bottles of Sam Adams; Chin was some fancy imported French beer—and Gracie’s jump rope helped demarcate boundaries. It took a surprisingly long time to recount it all. Danny was two bottles of beer down and was contemplating his third when the SWAT team—squat cans of cola—bustled in and helped save the day.
“You realise that that was all entirely insane,” Steve said when Danny had finished speaking. He was hunched over the table, staring at the bottles and the jump rope with fierce attention, as if expecting them to launch a little counterassault or something of their own.
Danny squinted at him, poked him in the bicep. “And you realise that coming from you, that observation has absolutely no validity, right? None, Mr Let’s Drive a Tank The Wrong Way Down the Freeway Because That is Good Times For All.”
Steve looked over at him and Danny felt like he was noting a whole host of little things about him for the first time—the fine lines around his eyes and his mouth; the sprinkling of grey hairs at his temples; the way Steve’s eyes turned dark when he was focused on something. “I’m really glad you’re okay, Danno,” he said, and then he smiled—that full-on, dopey grin that Danny was starting to realise he had few to no defences against.
“Well,” Danny said, a little nonplussed. “Me too.”
“And of course,” Steve said, “this means I’m going back to work on Monday.”
“See, no,” Danny said, spreading his hands wide, “no, I do not believe this means that. In what system of logic does ‘the team bands together to save the day’ mean ‘Steve McGarrett must return to work against the advice of doctors, the orders of the governor of the great state of Hawaii, and the pleading of his friends’?”
“Stuff like this doesn’t happen when I’m around,” Steve said.
Danny squinted at him, wondered if he was allowed to laugh at a statement as palpably absurd as that. “If you mean specifically ‘spoiled rich kids try to hijack a plane in order to steal fifty million dollars worth of rubies and shoot up half the city’, then sure, I will grant you, that is not a daily occurrence here in Hawaii. But if you mean crazy stuff in general, if you mean the kind of wackadoodle crap to which I have come accustomed since moving to your fair island, then I’m pretty sure the instances of those things only go up when you’re around. If you’re having trouble following verbal reasoning, Chin could probably do up some graphics for you—a PowerPoint presentation, no less. To wit, a chart with axes labelled ‘Presence of Steve McGarrett in Danny Williams’ life’ and ‘Level of Batshittery’ with a line running pretty much vertically upwards, plateauing out somewhere in crazy towns.”
Steve made a low noise of frustration in the back of his throat.
“You and me both, babe,” Danny said for oh, so many reasons—and then, because he’d had a very long day; because he’d had a longer week; because Steve was looking at him like he was the source of half a dozen problems and the answer to just as many more; because he was running on two beers and little sleep; because he was sitting right next to Steve and, as he was able to prove with science, physical and indeed metaphorical proximity to Steve caused all sorts of crazy in Danny’s life, Danny put his empty bottle down on the coffee table and said "So I was thinking", and then "Oh, screw it", and leaned in and kissed him.
For a moment, Steve made a startled sound, a sound that buzzed and hummed on Danny’s tongue and Danny thought great, he’d gone and succumbed to the one single form of crazy that Steve did not in fact possess—but then something clicked and all of a sudden Steve was right there with him, right there, big hands bracketing Danny’s face, his palms hot and callused. Steve’s stubble scraped against Danny’s cheek, his lips dry and chapped, and Danny felt like every single nerve ending he possessed was lighting up like the fourth of July or something—Presidents’ Day, at the very least. Danny pressed closer, relishing the little moan Steve made, the feeling of Steve’s chest under his hand—the sun-warmed cotton; the steady thump of his heart.
“Um,” Steve said intelligently when Danny pulled away just a little. There was a flush high on his cheekbones; his tongue darted out to swipe at his lower lip. “Okay?”
“I’m glad you’re not fighting me on this one,” Danny murmured against Steve’s mouth.
“When do I ever fight you?” Steve said, slowly scratching at the nape of Danny’s neck, blunt fingernails sending electricity running hot down Danny’s spine. “Been thinking about this for a while. And seriously, I’m going back to work on Monday.”
“See,” Danny said, “I find it charming that you think this is negotiable,” letting his fingers graze just barely beneath the hem of Steve’s t-shirt.
“When it comes to me and you, everything’s negotiable, Danno,” Steve said, doing something with his teeth and Danny’s jaw line that made Danny’s breath catch.
Danny fought for composure, made a show of rolling his eyes. “Why does everything have to come back to you in the end, jeez,” he grumbled, though he knew he was grinning like an idiot, like Steve; knew it was going to be hard to stop.
In a little while, they’d have to get up and go inside, make dinner for Gracie, call Rachel; field calls from the governor, from Kono, from Chin wanting to know why the hell the paperwork wasn’t done yet. But when it was all done, Danny realised, Steve was going to be right there waiting for him—Steve with his tattoos and his weird version of charm; Steve with his unexpected smile and his stupidly huge collection of knives and his fierce affection; Steve who was glad Danny was okay, whose biggest concern was not getting to walk out into the world with his team come morning. What the hell, Danny thought, kissing him again, what the hell. It was all going to be okay, because Steve was kissing him and his kid was safe; because he was bruised and sore but still here; because every time Steve kissed him, Danny realised he was saying not back to me, dumbass—to us, ‘s’back to us.