Danny comes fully prepared to hate it. Hawaii's got all the characteristics of a grade-A tourist trap shithole: sunburned, sand-encrusted, crowded and overpriced, with a language he suspects was invented specifically to make people nervous. Between the morons he deals with here and the headcases he deals with back in Jersey, Danny's this close most days to just saying "fuck it" and grabbing Grace, maybe Mr. Hoppy too, and making off with the three million he's got stashed in a few overseas accounts. They could make a nice life in Morocco, or maybe Rome. Somewhere with tricky extraditions and good food.
He wishes he could say it's loyalty to the family that keeps him on the straight and narrow, but mostly it's the fact that Rachel would find him, drag him home, and make the brief remainder of his life unpleasant and painful. Piss off the Mafia, you're in trouble; piss off an Edwards, you're fucked.
"I told you," Rachel says, irritable, while they discuss the money-laundering scheme they're going to try with some of the local souvenir stands, "Stan didn't order that hit on you last year."
Danny has to roll his eyes. "And I told you I already knew that, just like I know it was you, which, by the way, any time you want to apologize for that, let me know."
"Fine, I'm sorry," she says, but she's smiling, and this is why Danny harangued her and Stan into coming in the first place, despite the ugly divorce and uglier remarriage -- they're good, great together, the best in Jersey and they're so far ahead of the best in Hawaii that it's almost sad.
Besides, Hawaii's got its upsides; when Danny and Grace came off the plane in early January they went from sub-zero Newark to tropical breezes, and Grace was given a lei with purple and orange flowers as soon as she stepped through the arrivals gate. "I'm staying here forever," she decided. After spending every weekend in February at the beach, Danny was ready to agree with her.
It might be different if he'd been dragged here against his will, but the gambling racket is a major score for the family and Danny's lucky to have gotten this break; he feels half-grateful to Hawaii, even though he sweats through his old suits and has to find a tailor in Honolulu who can be trusted to work with summer-weight wools and linens.
So he settles in, gets a nice place far enough away from the ocean so he doesn't feel like any minute a tsunami's going to wash him away. He's not crazy about the house, but Rachel and Stan had put in a bid for it, and Danny's always liked fucking Stan over. "Don't think I can't find a hit man on this island, Daniel," Rachel fumed at him over the phone the night he closed the deal, and he laughed and hung up on her. He loves her, always will, but winning has been always more important. Which, really, probably a good thing they got divorced.
Grace enrolls in some fancy school that costs an arm and a leg and starts playing peewee football, and Danny takes her to the hotel downtown with the dolphins whenever he gets a weekend with her. He likes it, like the people and the weather and the job; he can see himself digging in for a good long time here. So when the family announces that Frank Salvo is coming for a sit-down that fall, making sure the Samoans are keeping their end of the bargain on the gambling racket, Danny looks forward to a quiet night of beautiful people and terrible wine, of maybe showing off his new territory just a little bit.
Then all hell breaks loose, and Danny can't lie, he falls in love right on the spot.
Steve's helping Meka kick the guns away from the three guys who played it smart and hit the ground when his team told them to, while Chin's checking the pulse of the three guys who didn't. Kono is trying to pull Syd to his feet, muttering something about how Aunt Luana is going to kick his ass if he's lost any teeth considering the trouble she went to get him braces back when he was a kid.
It's a salvageable end to a bad night, and Steve's still riding the high of adrenaline as he cuffs the last suspect when suddenly there's a slow clap from the edge of the pool. Steve aims center-mass at a guy in a sharp suit, cufflinks and tiepin flashing.
"Some beautiful work, gentlemen," the guy says, not even blinking at the four guns pointed at him. "And -- my apologies -- ladies," he adds, smiling at Kono.
"Who are you?" Steve demands.
"Who are you?" the guy replies. "Judging by the haircuts, I'm guessing HPD, but I think I would've remembered a crew like yours."
Steve clenches his jaw, but the guy hasn't pulled a gun. "Commander McGarrett, Governor's Task Force."
"Governor's Task Force. This place is just full of surprises, isn't it." The guy rocks back on his heels. He's got a cocky grin, easy and sweet. "So let me ask you, is Frankie dead or just bleeding profusely? I've got some people to call either way."
"You know him?" Chin asks from behind Steve's shoulder, and right, questions. "How?"
The guy shakes his head. "Sorry. You showed me yours, but I'm not really in the mood to show you mine." And he starts backing away into the house. "Maybe later," he adds, grinning at Steve. "If you ask me nice, Commander McGarrett of the Governor's Task Force. Incidentally, that's a mouthful of a name. Hard to shout it at suspects when they're running away."
"Stay there," Steve orders, and the guy laughs.
"My point exactly, babe," he calls back; Steve never tells anyone, but he's pretty sure the guy winks at him right before he disappears.
"Who the hell was that?" Rachel hisses as they climb into the limo. Stan's already inside, tapping away at a laptop that he had hidden God only knows where.
Something different, Danny thinks, but he says, "McGarrett, commander of some kind of government -- no, Governor's task force."
"McGarrett, you said?" Stan asks, not looking up from his screen as the limo pulls out of the driveway away from the party and the growing chaos. "Two 't's?"
"He didn't show me his driver's license, Stanford," Danny snaps.
It's actually the driveway of the neighbor's house; Danny's driver paid the husband and wife a hefty fee for the privilege of sitting nice and quiet in their U-turn unless and until a discreet exit was needed. It was Kamekona's idea, and Danny's never been more smug about hiring the guy than he is at this moment. He might be the size of three of Danny's regular guys, but he's five times smarter than any of them.
"Yeah," Danny tells Stan, then twists around say to Kamekona, "Hey, nicely done, Shamu."
"It's why you pay me the big bucks, Danno," he replies cheerfully. "You want me rolling up?"
"Unless you want to scratch out that plausible deniability part of your contract," Danny agrees, and the divider goes up between the driver's area and the back.
"I'm getting a Jack McGarrett, sixty-eight--"
"Definitely not," says Danny, "Unless they've got the Fountain of Youth hanging out around here."
Rachel tucks her hair behind her ear as she leans over her husband's shoulder. "Can't be him anyway," she says, pointing at something on the screen. "He's dead, killed a month ago."
"Murdered," Stan adds.
"Murdered sounds interesting," Danny says.
"You always think murder is interesting," Rachel sighs.
"Hey, as long as I'm not the -er or the -ee, it always is."
"Got it," Stan interrupts, and Danny grins, because he learned a long time ago that the best way to get Stan to move fast was to start bickering with Rachel. "Steven, with a v, McGarrett, two t's. Born February eleventh, nineteen seventy-six in Honolulu. Annapolis, Naval Intelligence, Navy SEAL--"
"Oh, I like this," Danny purrs, and Rachel rolls her eyes at him.
"Stop being so cheerfully slutty," she chides. "Your military fetish porn star just killed Salvo."
"Which saves us having to do it," Danny says, spreading his hands. "It was the Samoans' party; we were told to stay out of all the planning, all the prep, because Frankie was a paranoid SOB who thought we'd plot to have him eliminated while he was vacationing down here."
"Which we were," Rachel points out.
"Which maybe we were," Danny admits. "Fortunately, we've got airtight alibis in the indisputable fact that Steven-with-a-v shot him pretty hard in the face."
"You didn't get any blood on you, did you?" Rachel frets as they pull into hers and Stan's driveway. "You know how much bloodstains upset Grace."
"I was all the way on the other side of the pool, I got bloodstains on me how exactly?"
She sighs and climbs out the door as it's opened by one of the staff. "You've always had a talent."
Stan slides out after her, leaning back in to say, "I think that means you have to say goodnight to Grace," like ten years being married to her hasn't made Danny fluent in Rachelese.
Danny rubs his face, because saying goodnight to Grace is going to turn into arguing for five hours with Rachel, Stan, and whoever they can wake up in Jersey over how to deal with the situation. The Salvo family's pretty psychotic, but Frankie was bad even for them, and chances are good the only people upset about this will be people who wanted at crack at him themselves. Still, negotiating anything with the families is a headache, even with five thousand miles of America between them.
He gets out and knocks on Kamekona's window. "Ten'll get you twenty I'm bunking in the guest room tonight anyway," he tells him. "Get home. I'll call you tomorrow morning."
"Right, Danno. Hey, though, word of advice about McGarrett."
Danny sighs. "What did I say about plausible deniability, Kamekona?"
"Brah, not my fault you were slow on rolling up," Kamekona replies defensively. "But listen, I know a couple of people on that bright and shiny new team of his. Actually met him a few weeks ago at the shave ice stand. And let me tell you, man, he's crazy. Crazier than you. You be careful, all right?"
"Crazier than me, huh. Good to know."
Kamekona drives off, window rolled down and his hand making some gesture Danny's still not sure isn't some kind of Hawaii insult thing, but Grace's told him it's harmless. He goes inside, turning Commander Steve McGarrett over and over again in his mind.
The guy in the suit turns into Danny Williams -- Danno, the most courteous and terrifying of the Jersey Mafia mid-level bosses, climbing fast up the food chain and here in Hawai'i for the specific purpose of driving Steve out of his mind. He's clearly got big plans for the island, which translates into overtime for HPD and for the newly-named Five-0 task force.
The gambling racket that Salvo was orchestrating doesn't go away; it goes underground, fast and hard, and nobody can dig it back up. There are only whispers of what's going on, but it's obvious that Williams is now calling the shots, easing the Samoans out with none of the bloodshed that everyone expected. It's good news in that no new bodies have been sent to the morgue. Bad news in that the Governor's making faces at Steve every week.
Steve uses any and all available resources to hunt down Williams, but he's exponentially harder to find than the latest gambling house. Williams has a daughter, maybe, an ex-wife, possibly, but who and where they are is a mystery. There are rumors that Williams is often seen with a beautiful woman, or a good-looking man, and Steve ends up having to go to the dentist to do something about his new habit of grinding his teeth.
But Five-0 has other successes, big cases that keep the Governor happy and the team working hard. He's proud of these people, of the work they do, even though Chin and Meka have to shove him along the exasperating path of due process at every turn. It's hard -- Steve's fresh from a world that has no laws, or no laws that anyone followed, where you used your own sense of right and wrong to feel your way forward. Here, though, he's surrounded by the law, half-smothered by it.
It's hard, and it should be, and maybe that's why looking for Danny Williams feels a little bit like fun.
"Sorry Danno," Vince says, the phone's mouthpiece clamped in his giant paw. "Joey says ixnay on the Updike ID, too. Somebody flagged him on Interpol and--" Vince pauses, listening to whatever Joey's telling him, and blinks. "Wow, this guy's fuckin' mean. He put Updike on the sex offender registry."
"Steve McGarrett, what did I ever do to you," Danny mutters, tossing the Nebraska driver's license -- Harry Updike, 37, five-six, with Danny's face looking as happy as he ever looks on a driver's license photo -- into the pile. "All right, what else we got? I've got a meeting tonight."
As if she's got the place wired so she can make the perfect entrance (and Danny doesn't put it past her), Rachel strolls in. "It's rude to keep a lady waiting," she says. She's wearing some kind of dark purple thing that ought to look trashy and looks stunning, instead.
"I'm doing my hair," Danny says, "Just give me a second to get beautiful."
Rachel lifts an eyebrow. "You're going to run out of IDs well before then. How does he keep finding them out? Do you call him in the middle of the night to whisper sweet nothings in his ear?"
Vince coughs, and Danny points a finger at him. "Not a peep out of you. Ask Joey if the Bobby Flanders one is still an option."
"Danny, we're going to be late."
"Rachel, nagging isn't going to make me go any faster," Danny replies in the same sing-song tone she's using. "You want to be useful, find out where I can get some new stuff. It's getting harder and harder to make up solid credit history these days."
"All my contacts live in either London or New York," Rachel says. She sits down in one of the leather chairs in front of his desk. "We should see if we can import anyone."
"Great, just what this operation needs, another -- what do they call 'em? Haole. I love that word, haole. Same way my grandma used 'shiksa.'"
"Yes, I recall her using it often on me," Rachel says wryly.
"What about that kid, the, uh, the ATM kid from a few months ago," Danny says. "Something, Donut or Breadbasket. We managed to make that thing go away. He ever thank us?"
"Toast?" Rachel supplies, crossing her legs. Danny wonders if he's still allowed to appreciate it when she does that; seems like one of those things that doesn't change just because you've gotten divorced.
"Right. Let's give him a call."
"Just make sure it's during the forty-two minutes he's actually on this plane of reality," she says, but she pulls out her phone, so Danny counts it a win.
Steve lets himself into his house, the groan of sore muscles making his hands clumsy on the locks and the doorknob. Mary's relentless one-woman campaign to get Steve to her friend's yoga studio came to a head today, and Steve spent forty-five minutes tangled into the most undignified poses known to mankind. He still can't turn his neck all the way to the left. Lila said that was normal for people "like you," which, Steve isn't sure how to take that.
And it didn't even work; Steve's still tense, wound too tight in his skin, only now he's faced with crippling injury on top of it. So it takes him an additional thirty seconds to realize that something's wrong.
His unit thought it was creepy, the way he could tell when they were about to be ambushed or outflanked; he got his fair share of ESP and sixth sense jokes. But it had gotten them -- gotten him -- out of enough tight spots that he listens to it when it sends alarm bells shrilling. He doesn't turn on the lights; he knows the layout of the house by heart even in the pitch-black, and he skirts around the furniture and knickknacks that Mom bought decades ago and Dad never got rid of. There's nothing disturbed, nothing to prove he's right, but he's right. There's someone here.
"I had you pegged all wrong, Commander," a voice echoes in the darkness. Steve flings himself into the kitchen doorway, rolling to his feet and scrambling for the piece he keeps under the sink--
Kept under the sink.
"Looking for something?"
Steve braces himself against the counter and turns around. Danny Williams grins at him from the doorway, waggling a gun in his hand. "How'd you know where it was?" Steve demands.
"That's not a very interesting question," Williams says, coming in. He's got a suit on, jacket and everything, like he's at a nice restaurant or a gallery opening, a silver tie snug against his throat. The high today was eighty-five degrees.
Steve realizes his hands are curled into fists. He forces them to relax. "It's not an interesting question?"
"Well," Williams makes a prevaricating gesture with his free hand. "It's got a boring answer, because you, my friend, are kind of a boring guy. Keeping your spare gun under the sink? Although that's not as bad as the gun I found in the couch cushion -- my uncle Gino does that, and he's what, seventy-five?"
"What line of work is your uncle in?"
"How did you get the nickname Smooth Dog, anyway?" Williams laughs, holding out the sidearm. "I took the liberty of removing the mag," he says. "Please do me a favor and don't try to pistol-whip me. I don't like that, it hurts."
"How did you know what my nickname--" Steve doesn't even have to finish. "Let me guess, boring question."
"He can be taught, ladies and gentlemen," Williams says, and makes a take it motion with the gun.
Steve reaches out and takes it; it's warm from where Williams was holding it, and their fingers brush. "What are you doing here?" Steve says.
"At last, a good one," Williams murmurs, stepping closer -- but he's already too close. Steve can smell expensive cologne, invasive. "Couple-three reasons. One, I'd like you to know that you've officially bothered me with all this stalking. There's easier ways to ask a girl out, you don't need to tap my phone and have my maid followed."
"Did you just call yourself a girl?" Steve has to ask, because he's not copping to the phonetap or the tail and Williams is still too close.
"Hey, I've got a baby girl, don't tell me you're one of those guys stuck in the twentieth century who thinks 'pussy' is some kind of insult," Williams lobs back. "I'm just saying, if you wanted to see me, you just had to ask."
"And you'd just turn yourself in?" Steve asks skeptically.
Williams shrugs. "I learned a long time ago that it always pays to cooperate with the authorities. Plus, you look like you'd be fun to cooperate with."
Steve blinks, because it's taken this long but he's finally understanding -- Williams is flirting with him. It's another weird adrenaline surge, makes him twitch a little to one side. Williams tracks the movement and smiles. "So what's the other reason?" Steve says, wishing his voice didn't sound so hoarse; clearing his throat is out of the question.
If Williams is thinking of trying anything, he doesn't show it; he gives another one of his expansive shrugs and says, "It's important to keep sharp."
"So you picked my house to practice your B&E skills."
"Hey, I B'ed nothing, babe," Williams says. "You look around and find one thing that's been B'ed, I dare you."
He's probably telling the truth, which doesn't make a difference in the law but somehow makes a difference anyway. "I could arrest you," he says, more to say it than anything else.
"You could," Williams murmurs. "But you're having too much fun for that."
"Am not," which is such a third-grade answer that Steve winces.
Williams laughs again. "So this is the part where I make some kind of vague threat or really, really vague bribe offer," he sighs, "But you're a little too Captain America for that, I'm guessing. Besides, breaking into a guy's house tends to send a certain message no matter how it's intended."
"You intended this not to be a threat?" Steve says. Anger is a comfortable heat at the back of his neck.
"I intended it to be a first move, Steve," Williams says. "Next move's yours." He backs off and turns, heading toward the back door.
In a flash Steve has the spare mag he grabbed from beneath the sink slammed into his gun, pointed right at Williams's chest. "Stop right there," he orders.
But Williams just opens the door and leans against it, holding the frame and resting his cheek against it. "Not the kind of move I had in mind. I was afraid you'd try something like that. Should've taken that extra mag." He nods at Steve. "Look down," he advises. "The US government isn't the only organization that can afford to put a couple of snipers on retainer."
Steve glances down, expecting to see the telltale red dot on his chest. But there's nothing there, and by the time he looks up, Williams is gone.
"Danno, pleeeeease," Grace says, hauling out the big guns -- eyes like saucer plates, and a lower lip that quivers just a little. Knowing she's practiced this look in front of a mirror doesn't diminish its effectiveness as much as it probably should. "I want you to see me play."
"And I would like to, too, Monkey," he says, hoisting her up onto his good knee, "But your mom and I, you know it's a little tricky for us to be out and about right now, you get that, right?"
"Tricky" is the understatement of the year; between the gambling, the money-laundering, and the new protection racket that they're working up, Danny's probably the most wanted man in Hawaii right about now. Rachel, always better at covering her tracks, still passes for normal to anyone who doesn't look too hard, but Danny only comes out for events and for conversations with business associates, these days. Anything else gets him noticed by a certain tall, dark and constipated who apparently doesn't like getting winked at. Although it maybe the the housebreaking that really got up his nose.
"I know," Grace says. "But Coach Steve says I'm getting better, and I just wanted you to see me -- I can tackle people now, Daddy!"
"Hon, I'm very proud." Danny frowns. "Coach Steve? Who's Coach Steve? I thought your coach was Mamo."
"Coach Steve's his friend," Grace says. "He used to be a sailor."
"Babe," Danny says, slowly, "What does Coach Steve look like?"
"He's really tall, and he's really funny," which to Grace is a physical descriptor, "And he's got the -- like Uncle Matt has, on his arms." She makes a vague gesture, but Danny knows what she's talking about; he may or may not have some high-resolution sniper pics of McGarrett, taken right after what's apparently a daily pre-dawn swim, the psycho, and this is looking more and more like a bad romantic comedy.
Danny weighs his options, but it's not like he's ever been good at resisting temptation. "Tell you what, how about I take you to practice today? I think I'd like to meet this Coach Steve guy myself."
Steve can't get out for every practice -- despite what Mamo and Mary seem to think, cases don't actually run to a set clock and there are times he needs to be out chasing leads. But he makes the ones he can, because Mary had threatened him with a swirly if he didn't get out of the house and Mamo had talked wistfully about how all his sons had moved off the island, leaving him with no one to help run the peewee football practice, and Steve's always been a soft touch.
It hasn't been bad, anyway; the Kahike Kangaroos make up in enthusiasm what they might lack in coordination, and at some point Mamo sweet-talked Kukui High into letting them practice on the actual football field. Some of the kids have been playing since they could walk, and they tend to mow over the newer kids at first, which results in a lot of conversations about what's fair to hit and what's not.
"I definitely understand that," Steve tells one little girl, who's squinting up at him from underneath a comically oversized helmet. She's got eyeblack on, except hers is dark purple, matching her fingernails. "But the thing is, when you knee a boy in the crotch, it's called foul play and you can get in trouble for that."
"But I said I was sorry," Grace points out, which is true. She's got the best manners on the whole team; you can always tell where she is during a play by the "Sorry! Are you okay?" as one kid after another goes down.
"And that's really good," Steve says. "Just, you know, in future, stay away from anything below the belt."
Grace nods, the helmet wiggling off-tempo with her head, and Steve sends her back into the scrimmage. He's about to call out another play when he feels -- something. He stiffens, scanning the stadium.
"What is it?" Mamo says, frowning at him.
"Nothing, just -- can you take over for a minute?" Steve asks, squinting at the bleachers. There's the usual scattering of parents, chatting with each other or reading or (very occasionally) watching the game. It's all perfectly normal.
Except for two guys on the other side of the stadium, sitting at opposite ends of the bleachers. They've got on sunglasses and ugly patterned shirts and the relaxed slouch of someone who's armed and who knows he can get his gun out in less than a second. Thugs, too beefy to be anything but hired muscle, and Steve's already up in the bleachers and heading for one of them when he looks up and freezes in his tracks.
"Of all the peewee football leagues on all the islands in all the world," Williams tells him. "Et cetera." He saunters down the steps, hands in his pockets. He's out of the suit this time, although his shirt probably costs more than Steve's entire wardrobe put together. He's not armed. He doesn't have to be. "You've got good form out there. Let me guess, high school varsity team? Runningback?"
"Quarterback." Steve keeps his hands still at his sides and tries to watch both the bodyguards at once.
Williams grins. "Of course, how silly of me. Quarterback, calls the shots. I can appreciate that."
There are already too many levels to this conversation. "What are you doing here?"
"What are you doing here?"
"You ever notice you have a habit of answering questions with questions?"
"If I answer that with a question, you gonna get mad?" Williams replies, grinning wide. But Steve's still casing the exits, watching the goons and trying to figure out how to get fifteen eight-year-olds out of the range of fire. It must show on his face, because Williams's smile fades and he says, "Hey, hey," in a soft voice, the way you soothe a spooked animal, "I'm not here for -- okay you, my friend, need to stop watching gangster movies. I'm not here for a shakedown or or knee-capping or whatever it is you're thinking."
"Then what--" He hears footsteps, small and light, a child's, racing up the bleachers behind him. A second later little Grace barrels past and flings herself at Williams.
"Danno! Did you see? I totally took down Tommy and Al," she says, and Danny laughs and holds her close.
"Yeah, and then you apologized," he replies, "Which makes you the politest outside linebacker in the history of the world." He gives her another hug and sets her down. "Are you done with practice?" Grace nods. "All right, get your stuff and we'll skidaddle."
She runs back onto the field, pigtails streaming, and Steve's feeling a little slow on the uptake. "You're Gracie's -- Gracie's your--" Steve wonders how many times he's going to have to say it before it starts making sense.
"Yes, I'm Gracie's," Danny says, "And Gracie's my. We're chock full of possessives." He takes a seat on a bleacher, gesturing for Steve to sit down. He stays where he is, and Danny rolls his eyes. "I'm here because she asked me to come see her play in a practice, since I can't make the games. As you might guess, I haven't had the easiest time getting around these days. There's a guy on my ass, real pain."
This time, Steve can't help smiling, just a little. "Sorry if I've messed up your social schedule," he replies. "I've got this thing where I like to see criminals off the streets."
"Criminal, I see how it is," Danny says. "You say these hurtful things, Steven, I'm going to start thinking you don't really care."
"So you're not a criminal?"
Danny shakes his head. "Just a good family man," he replies, and gets to his feet. "I'll be seeing you. Oh," he adds, "And pardon me, but I just have to check."
Before Steve's fifteen years of combat training can kick in, Danny slips in, standing one step above Steve so their eyes are more or less level (though Steve's still taller, and it's hard not to feel petty about that). Danny's right hand slides behind his back, low on his waist, and Steve barely has time to feel his face flush before Danny is there, just inches away, palm warm through his shirt.
Then Steve remembers what he's got tucked in his belt under his shirt, and Danny's smile gets that much sharper. "M and P? Very nice," he murmurs, fingers tracing the outline of the semiautomatic. "Do me a favor, though, get an ankle holster. I'd rather have you not accidentally shoot your ass off if some kid decides to blindside you in a tackle."
"It'd make your life easier," Steve says. Danny's still too close. Last week Steve flagged the ID of one Miss Stephanie Josephine McGarrett, 34 years old and 6'1"; whoever made the ID listed the eye color as "Stormy Sea." Clearly, Steve is dealing with a Grade A dickhead.
"Maybe," Danny admits, and pulls away, letting his hand drag against Steve's hip. "But I'm thinking I've got a vested interest in that ass."
So it's a dumb thing to do. Danny's been working for the family -- his family -- since Uncle Carmine first handed him a gun, and he knows that you keep your dick out of two places: the competition, and the cops. Contrary to what the movies tell you, there aren't a lot of hard and fast rules, but those come the closest to iron-clad. It's bad for business, and reckless as all hell.
But Danny's always been good at dumb and fantastic at reckless. Dumb and reckless is the best kind of rush, and Danny's getting it just from watching the way Steve McGarrett scowls whenever he sees Danny on the sidelines. So he goes, once or twice a month -- whenever it's his day for Grace and Rachel isn't likely to ask too many questions about where he's going -- and leans back on the uncomfortable bleachers, loosens his tie a little. He gets acquainted with the moms and drinks the spare cartons of apple juice that they bring for their kids and commiserates over the crazy amount of homework being sent home for kids in third grade, can you believe they're teaching them algebra?
It's pleasant, above and beyond the beautiful glares he gets from the Assistant Coach (who it looks like did get an ankle holster, if the way he's running is any indication). Danny just waggles his fingers, and the moms giggle and nudge him in the ribs.
"I don't know what you're talking about," Danny says, stealing another cookie from the bag Georgia brought.
"Uh-huh," Billie says, staring out at the field as Steve jogs by. "You honestly think we're all here because we love our kids or something?"
There's a murmur of agreement and Danny laughs. Billie reaches over him to steal her own cookie. "Via con Dios, Danny," she says.
"I always do," he tells her.
Besides, coming out to the practices offers the rest of Five-0 wonderful opportunities, and Danny's not a man to squander that kind of entertainment. He catches them not once, but three separate times, breaking into his house.
"Guys," Danny says, pinching his nose as Meka Hanamoa tries to wriggle out from underneath Paulie, "Isn't this just getting awkward? For all of us?"
He's not really mad -- he's got to admit, the rest of the team is almost as cute as Steve. Certainly Chin Ho Kelly's got the endearing scowl down pat. Miss Kalakaua just slumps back in the armchair where Vince put her after taking her gun and her taser away. "Sorry," she says. "Boss was sure you'd stick around for the end of practice -- he was going to let the entire team tackle him at the same time."
Danny doesn't mention that he's got four separate alarm systems, and that they only disabled three of them this time. Still -- "I missed that? Man, I hope somebody recorded it."
"I think Holly Anderson was going to," Meka comments, and Danny remembers that his son plays for the next-younger team. "Hey, you think your friend might let me up any time soon?" Danny gives Paulie the nod, and he gets up and extends Meka a hand. "Thanks," Meka says.
"Seriously, though," Danny says, "You guys need to work on this. I mean I applaud your efforts, I really do. It's just -- I don't know that you're cut out for stealth."
"That's true," Miss Kalakaua pipes up. "Covert ops is more McGarrett's specialty than ours." Chin Ho gives her a look, but she says, "What? He's the Navy SEAL, I bet he did this kind of thing all the--"
"Yeah, we're going," Chin Ho says. "Unless you'd like to file a report?"
Just, so cute. Danny resists the impulse to give them all a hug. "Nah. But listen, I'm having a big party here in a couple weeks, why don't you all come over then? There'll be a lot of distractions, security'll be spread pretty thin. You might get something."
Meka squints at him. "Is this is how mice feel?" he asks Miss Kalakaua, who's sliding past Vince on her way out the door. "When cats are playing with them?"
"Not that many mice have immunity and means from the Governor," Danny reminds him. "Or guns."
The Pleasure of your Company is Requested
at the Home of Daniel Williams
for Fine Dining
Followed by Discussion and Entertainment
Black Tie Invited
There's an RSVP card, and a pre-stamped return envelope. The stationery is heavy and smooth against his fingers, a very unobtrusive "100% Recycled Materials" in the bottom left-hand corner. Steve stares at it for a few seconds.
"So," Kono says from the doorway. She's got her own cream-colored envelope in her hand. "I guess it wasn't a joke?"
"What the hell is 'Black Tie Invited'?" Steve demands.
Meka, who's come up behind Kono, snorts laughing.
The night starts off promising enough; everybody shows up, from Noshimuri to the mom brigade, awkward-looking husbands in tow (Danny had made a big show of bringing all the invites to practice, since knowing their home address, family income, and where they like to have brunch is the kind of thing people get twitchy about). There's mingling and laughter and quiet music, and the caterers are already panicking about having enough booze, which is a sure sign that things are going well.
Danny greets everyone at the door, aided and abetted by Grace in her brand new princess dress. She shakes hands very seriously and tries to beg her way into staying up late; fortunately Rachel shows up in time to back Danny's play, and at eight o'clock she trudges upstairs, craning her neck over the railing.
"Coach Steve isn't even here yet," she tries one last time as Danny all but drags her into her room.
He isn't, and Danny's trying hard not to take it personally. "I'll let you watch the surveillance footage with Harry tomorrow morning, okay? That way if Coach Steve arrives after you're asleep, you can still see him."
Grace accepts this, which, Danny's aware that this isn't a normal kind of compromise. Still, whatever works.
"How much did that dress cost?" Rachel murmurs when he comes back down from tucking Grace in.
Danny shrugs. "Cheap at twice the price," he says, and Rachel just shakes her head.
"You're a wonderful father," she sighs, like she's irritated about it.
"Don't ask what I'm letting her do tomorrow morning, then," he says. "Go on up -- she wants you to say goodnight."
"Very well." She futzes with his collar, leaning close. "Your exercise in poor judgement came in a few minutes ago," she tells him. "Along with a rather ravishing brunette."
"You're lying just to hurt my feelings," he accuses.
"Why would I do that when the truth can do the same thing? She's taller than you," she adds as she climbs the stairs.
"Fuck my life," Danny mutters.
The tall, ravishing brunette is Catherine Rollins, a sailor from her head to her practical heels. "It's a pleasure to meet you," she says, shaking his hand firmly. Behind her, Steve fidgets in his mouth-watering uniform. He's probably casing the exits.
"The pleasure's all mine," he says, and turns to Steve. "I hope Miss Kalakaua will be here soon? I heard Mr. Kelly and Mr. Hanamoa wouldn't be coming. Real shame."
Steve looks about five seconds away from having a stroke. "They couldn't make it," he grits out.
"Steven," Danny chides, "You didn't make them both sit in the van this time, did you?"
Miss Rollins coughs and looks away. "You, uh, have a lovely home," she says, like she's reciting something off a flashcard.
"You make it lovelier," he replies. She laughs, delighted.
"Very smooth, Mr. Williams."
"Please, call me Danny," he insists. Steve snorts. "Something you want to add, Steven?"
Steve all but shoves his hands in his pockets and kicks at the ground. "No," he says shortly. This time Miss Rollins snorts.
Danny's saved from getting in the middle of whatever domestic is about to kick off between these two by the arrival of Miss Kalakaua, arm-in-arm with her plus-one. The other woman looks vaguely familiar, and when she catches sight of Steve she waves, almost knocking over a flower arrangement. "Steve!" she calls, and cuts through the crowd toward them. "Guess who had a spare invitation?" she says when she gets close enough. Miss Kalakaua, following behind, winces.
Steve looks even more constipated. "What are you -- Kono," he hisses, and Jesus, there's going to be a domestic one way or another tonight, Danny can just feel it. He's got guests to look after and rivals to make sure don't try to poach any of his people; he abandons the quartet to its fate and looks for Stan, who will know who the other woman is.
"Mary McGarrett," Stan says when Danny runs into him a few minutes later, before he's even asked the question. "Steve McGarrett's younger and only sister. Thirty-one, half a dozen arrests for everything from loitering to possession to disabling a smoke alarm in the bathroom of an airplane. Dropped out of Brown and Columbia, travelled around Europe and India for several years before landing in Los Angeles, where she had a mild-to-medium drug problem, since kicked. A hundred twenty pounds, five feet five inches, and no, that's not her real hair color."
Danny blinks. "She tried to disable a smoke alarm?"
"She didn't try," Stan corrects. "I doubt she'd be interested in an offer, though."
"Too bad," although Danny hadn't been considering it until Stan said that. "We could use a few more techies."
"From what I can tell," Stan says, and that's a scary sentence coming out of his mouth -- Stan's got a way with forensic accounting that's frankly creepy -- "From what I can tell, she's shtupping the rookie."
"Hey, hey," Danny says, "Don't go using Yiddish like that, all right? My grandmother would roll right over in her grave if she heard a shiksa like you misusing her language."
Stan stares at him flatly. "You just called me a non-Jewish woman."
"If it's a good enough insult for your wife, it's a good enough insult for you," Danny says.
The dinner is full of loud conversations and more wine than even Danny believed possible; his people keep an eye on Five-0, but mostly he's busy dealing with the wheelers and dealers who've come to see who this Danno Williams really is. Rachel and Stan keep up a running sotto voce commentary on who he needs to talk to, what he needs to say, and not for the first time Danny worries about the inevitable day when they both realize they're wasted as consiglieres. He really doesn't want to explain that to Grace.
By the time people finish eating and take their after-dinner drinks outside, Danny's got a throbbing headache but a half-dozen appointments made and more than a dozen new connections. He wanders out onto the balcony and watches the crowd murmur below him, feeling as close as he ever does to peaceful.
"Nice view," says a voice behind him; Danny tenses, slides a hand under his jacket, but when he turns around it's Mary McGarrett, clearly unarmed. She smiles. "Very Roman Emperor looking down on his subjects."
Danny likes her immediately. "I'm always very paranoid around March fifteenth. Danny Williams." He holds out his hand.
She shakes it, palm facing just that little bit downward. "I'm Mary," she says. "Steve McGarrett's sister."
Now that he knows, he can see it; they look nothing alike, but they carry themselves the same way, braced against the world. "I'm looking at Miss Kalakaua with a whole new respect."
"Oh," she replies, and Christ, she blushes pretty. Danny's half-distracted by it for a minute. "Uh, no. We're just friends. Like you and Steve."
Danny laughs. "You know somewhere in this house, Steve just twitched a little."
"Probably," Mary agrees. She looks hard at him. "I pretty much twisted Kono's arm until it wouldn't go any further," she says after a minute. "Steve talks a lot about you."
"Does he," Danny says.
Mary nods. "Most of it's not flattering," she warns.
"But that must mean that some of it is," he counters, and she's got the same twinkle in her eye as her brother, all mischief.
"So far he's bitched about your cars, your ties, your shoes," she says, ticking them off on her fingers, "Your criminal activities, your criminal connections, your corrupting influence on the people around you, and your overall moral ambiguity."
"That's it?" Danny asks mildly.
"He's not crazy about your hair, either."
"Everyone's a critic, I swear to God," Danny sighs. Mary laughs. "So wait, he doesn't like my cars? What's wrong with them?"
"I think it's that they're too," she makes a dismissive gesture with her hand, "Flashy. He's an off-road SUV kind of guy."
"I'll bet," Danny says. "Or some monster truck with four-wheel drive, tows seventeen tons and has a special attachment for a bulldozer in front."
"So you've seen it?" Mary says, and Danny grins. She's got a bitter edge that he likes; life's treated her bad, and she's survived, but she doesn't owe her brother a thing. What a fascinating family the McGarretts are turning out to be. "I'm with you," she continues. "Give me flashy any day."
"It's a holdover from my dad," Danny admits. "He had a thing for the latest car, the fastest or, I don't know, the shiniest. I remember he had a sixty-eight Mustang when I was a kid, just gorgeous."
"My brother's been trying to fix up our dad's old Mercury," Mary says, leaning against the balcony. "Probably something about reconnecting with his childhood or whatever."
Danny blanks out the image of Steve, grease-streaked and sweaty, since that kind of thing leads to awkwardness in front of family members. "I never understood the point," he says. "I just get 'em new, or pay somebody else to fix 'em."
"Yeah?" Mary says, perking up. "What're you driving now?"
Danny considers her. It's more than likely she's trying a little Nancy Drew, which is commendable in its way. Also possible that either Steve or Miss Kalakaua put her up to getting Danny out of the house for a minute, or getting access to his cars.
And just barely possible that she's honestly curious. Danny says, "Come on, I'll show you."
Which is how the Five-0 team ends up tracking them down in the garage, Steve brandishing a gun Paulie swore he couldn't have and yelling for Mary in a crazy tone of voice.
"Oh my God," Mary groans, climbing out of the driver's seat of Danny's Tesla, "Did you put the whole place on lockdown or something?"
Steve doesn't answer, but the expressions on Miss Kalakaua's face says enough. "You locked down my party?" Danny demands. "My house?"
"I couldn't find my sister," Steve says, mulish.
Danny's this close to decking the guy. "So you assumed I had her held hostage or something?"
"It was a pretty good bet," Steve snaps back.
"Oh, oh, I see," Danny says -- shouts, more like, because after all the time and energy Steve's spent trying to push his buttons, he's finally succeeded. "Because that's just what I'd do, on a random Saturday evening. Kidnap a, by the way, very nice young lady because -- what, because it's in my nature? You think I just can't help myself?"
"Oh, forgive me for assuming the worst about a mob boss!" Steve yells right back.
"You come into my home and you -- you know what, you're done," Danny decides. He nods to Vince and Paulie, with whom he's going to have a lot of strong words later. "Please escort the team from the premises. If you can find Miss Rollins, let her know her date is leaving."
"Danny," Mary says, her arms wrapped around herself, hunched in. "I'm--"
"You can stay if you'd like," he tells her. "But it sounds like I'll be facing felony charges if you don't go with your brother."
She shakes her head and walks out the door, head down. Paulie and Vince shift their stances just that couple inches. Miss Kalakaua says softly, "Boss. We should go."
Steve hasn't moved, hasn't looked away from Danny this whole time, even while his sister brushed past him. "You stay away from her," he says.
"I don't do well with jumped-up little pricks telling me what to do in my own house," Danny says, stepping right into Steve's space. It's probably a symptom of some terrible disease in Danny's brain, but Steve's still gorgeous like this, enraged and helpless. Danny can't help savoring it, just a little, even while his own fury is simmering in his gut. "Now get out."
And Steve opens his mouth, not like he's going to say something but like he's taking a breath, and even with Vince and Paulie and Miss Kalakaua standing around, Danny thinks that maybe, possibly--
"Boss," Miss Kalakaua says again, and by the time Danny gets his heart back under control, they're gone.
"So that was stupid," is the first thing Mary says to him that next weekend.
Steve takes a deep breath, puts down the gun he'd grabbed from the nightside stand when he'd heard someone rummaging around the kitchen. "Hey, so you're talking to me again, awesome."
Mary rolls her eyes. She looks like Mom when she does it, but Steve's never figured out a way to tell her that without it sounding weird. "I wasn't not talking to you, you doofus," she says, grabbing another mug out of the cupboard absently. Steve sits down at the kitchen table and watches her move around, grabbing sugar from the old tin and milk from the fridge. It's been almost twenty years since either of them have lived in this house, but everything's still familiar, and something about watching her move around is a little like getting back home all over again.
"Oh, my mistake," Steve says, holding out his own mug when she brandishes the coffee pot at him in inquiry. "I figured, after I called you like seven times and you didn't call me back, that was not talking to me."
"Nah," Mary says offhandedly. "That was just me having better things to do than listen to you bitch and moan about how Danny's wrecking your life and all. He's really not that bad."
"Please don't start dating him," Steve pleads.
"No, seriously, you're broken," Mary tells him. "I just meant he was nice."
"He's a gangster."
"But a really nice one." She leans against the counter, dumping three spoonfuls of sugar into her coffee. "So yeah, getting back to you being a dumbass."
"Right, how could I forget," Steve says.
"I'm just saying, you could've called my cell phone before you'd gone freaking Ninja Assassin on the guy."
"You know, your lady friend has already lectured me about this," Steve points out. Kono had been a lot nicer, too, although that was probably the effect of being his subordinate and not being able to call Steve a dumbass to his face. Yet; Meka does it on a pretty regular basis, and Chin is constitutionally incapable of swearing but he has a "you're a dumbass" glare that he uses pretty regularly.
"Good, then I don't have to rehash," she says. "So. Let's talk about what you're doing on Dad's case."
Steve groans, because letting Mary in on the Champ box was probably the worst decision he's ever made. "Can we go back to yelling at me?" he asks.
"Don't be such a pussy," Mary advises, and hauls him to his feet.
Danny stays away from practice for a few weeks; it's not that he's still mad, it's more that he knows he'll get mad if he has to deal with Five-0 at all. Grace doesn't push the issue, bless her heart. She doesn't even ask to see the surveillance footage -- which in retrospect is a mixed blessing.
"How long has it been here?" he asks Toast softly. They're bent over a very, very pretty little bug nestled in one of the curliques of the bannister. Danny's run his hand along it at least a half-dozen times a day, up and down the stairs, and never noticed.
Toast puts his finger to his lips and nods toward the office. Once in there, he flips a switch on some Rube Goldberg device he's got hanging from his belt. Nothing seems to happen, but Toast breathes a sigh of a relief after a minute.
"Man, this stuff is -- intense, you know?" He looks a little more strung out than usual, even though Toast's baseline is all fucked up from the five pounds of pot he smokes a day. "Wow. Like, that's a bug, a real live bug, it's like, wow, something out of Die Hard or--"
"Toast," Danny says, clearly and slowly, "I need you to focus. How long, whose bug, and are there any others?"
"Oh," Toast says, dismissive, "It's definitely government. Good work, high-end, but it's got that smell. And there aren't any more -- Betsy can sniff 'em out a mile away, it's how we found that one." He pats the weird thing on his belt the way a football player pats his teammate's ass. "As for how long," and he shrugs, which, it's good that nobody else is in the office because Danny doesn't like to encourage this kind of laissez-faire attitude in his staff.
"That's not an answer, Toast," Danny says. "A shrug doesn't help me."
"Well, when's the last time you had cops or feds or whatever in here?" Toast shoots back, rummaging in one of his pockets and pulling out a Laffy Taffy. "My guess is around about then."
"I haven't--" and then Danny knows when and who and how. The only question now is where he's going to dump the body. "That son of a bitch."
"This is why you don't fall for the hotties, boss," Toast says, sounding apologetic about it. "They'll just break your heart."
Danny squints at him. "You've got to stop thinking Jimmy Soul was some kind of a relationship guru."
"Go from my personal point of view--" Toast starts singing, laughing when Danny claps his hands over his ears.
"Christ, your voice could take paint off a wall," he complains.
"You want me to, like, dispose of the evidence?" Toast says, waggling his eyebrows and hooking a thumb over his shoulder.
"Yeah -- wait, no," Danny says. "What's the range on it?"
Toast shrugs. "It probably picked up most things in the foyer," he says, and Danny notices that he pronounces it to rhyme with "lawyer," "Maybe some stuff from the upstairs corridor."
"So you bring it in here, it'll pick up everything," Danny says.
Toast looks alarmed. "Boss, whenever you get that look in your eye, I'm casing ATMs for getaway cash in case you get nabbed."
"Your faith is touching," Danny says. "Bring it in here."
Toast does, but he's not happy about it. He comes back about five minutes later, carrying a glass of water in one hand and his other hand cupped around the bug, walking cautiously. Danny lifts his eyebrows, and Toast mimics dropping the bug into the glass. "What?" he mouths when Danny just stares at him.
Danny waves him out and cradles the bug in his palm -- it feels like it might go off any second, blow up or electrocute him or do something he hasn't even dreamed up yet. It even looks dangerous, for all that it's smaller than Grace's little pinkie nail.
"You know, Steve," he says, closing his eyes and imagining Steve hunched over the wiretap, maybe wearing some of those stupid headphones you see them wear in the movies. Of course, Steve won't be the only one listening. This is evidence, part of a case with the intent to take Daniel Williams down. Cops and district attorneys and hell, one day a judge and jury's going to hear this.
But really, it's like Steve is asking for it.
"You know, I've been thinking about you a lot. I mean, aside from this whole, right-versus-wrong, epic battle of wills that you and me are doing. You've got that lantern-jawed, steely-eyed righteousness that a guy like me either wants to fight or fuck, right off the bat. I mean, you're good looking, sure," he continues, and Christ, but Miss Kalakaua's going to laugh for a month when she listens to this, maybe make a copy for Mary to listen to, "But I think what I fell for was that constipated do-gooder expression you've got on your face all the time. You're being a good person like you're checking things off your to-do list. Maybe it's just you need to get laid. No, scratch that. I think you need to get fucked. Tied up, held down, and begging for it."
Danny leans back, gets comfortable in his chair. He's working up a nice little hum of arousal, low in his stomach. "Don't get me wrong," he adds, "I'm not impugning any sexual arrangements you may or may not have going at the present. And I'm sure it's very satisfactory -- I'll bet you make her feel all kinds of good by the time you're done. Probably a point of pride, isn't it? You get her to come first, come twice. I'm trying to decide if you do it with your mouth or your fingers. I'm guessing mouth. You're a generous guy.
"But it's so controlled, isn't it? Aren't you. I'm thinking you count strokes under your breath, careful, one, two, three, four. And you make sure that nobody gets the upper hand, gets in your space and takes you down.
"Because I bet you'd break, babe. I bet you'd break just gorgeous."
He wants to clear his throat, but instead he drops the bug into the glass of water, watching the muted spark as it dies.
It's not easy to find Kono's place; even though he knows real estate prices on Oahu as well as anybody, Steve half-expected some beach house in Lanikai; Kono's got money from ten years on the circuit, something she likes to remind the team whenever she buys them a round at the bar and mocks them all for being poors.
Instead she's in a walk-up off of Kaau Street, with a couple of battered SUVs in the parking lot beside Kono's red sedan. Steve passes her cruiser bike, too, leaning against the stairs with a chain tied sloppily around the front wheel. He climbs up to the third story and walks along the balcony until he gets to 3E.
Kono opens the door when he knocks, her brow furrowed. "Hey, boss."
"How's it," he says, and realizes he's run out of things to say. He holds up the six-pack.
She laughs at that, at him, but it's okay, she's opening the door wider and letting him in. "Did you guys draw straws or play rock-paper-scissors?" she asks.
Steve's too busy taking in her place to reply. It's just as tiny as he'd figured, a studio with a kitchen on one side and what looks like the same bed she had as a teenager on the other. But it's nice, almost girly, painted a warm yellow and with a baby-blue color scheme that Steve never would've guessed but makes total sense. The only thing that looks a little out of place is the professional surf rack on one wall, holding about a dozen different sticks of every possible size and style.
He plunks the beer down on the kitchen table. "No straws, no rock-paper-scissors," he promises. "I just -- today was bad, I thought you could use some, I don't know. Company."
She'd been smiling before, but it fades now and she pushes past him, rummaging in a drawer for a bottle opener. "It's fine," she says. "I mean, I'm fine."
"Meka told me you and him talked," Steve says. "And Chin said you and Ian were close. He was like a second father."
"He was..." Kono trails off as she keeps looking around for the bottle opener. She seems to give up and grabs one of the bottles, wedging the cap against the table and hitting her wrist hard. The cap pops off and she hands the bottle to him. "He was someone you could instantly trust, you know?" She knocks the cap off her own bottle and takes a long pull. "My family's really noisy, really -- just, a lot of feelings, and every single one has to be talked about to death. Sometimes I think Chin's kind of relieved he doesn't have to talk to some of those people anymore. They just never know when to shut up, you know?"
Steve nods. She quirks a quick smile and jerks her head over to the french doors past the surfboards. Out on the tiny deck is a pair of battered rattan chairs and a table that looks like its top was taken from the bottom half of a door, doorknob and everything.
"Ian was good at silence," she continues, sitting down. "He wasn't shy or snobby or anything, he just didn't see the point of a lot of talk. It was nice." She glances at him. "I heard your dad was the same way."
"My dad?" Steve shrugs. "He wasn't much of a talker. I remember the last time I talked to him before -- before, I think the whole thing lasted about five minutes. He asked if I had enough socks." Steve smiles, though; in terms of McGarrett family conversations, it had actually been pretty good. "But he wasn't as much of a surfer as Ian."
Kono laughs. "Nobody is, was, or ever will be as much of a surfer as Ian. He breathed it, you know? You meet people in the world who live inside what they do, for better or worse, and if they stopped doing it maybe they wouldn't be themselves anymore." She picks at the label of her bottle. "I grew up thinking I wanted to be just like that, just like him."
"What changed your mind?"
"I asked him once," she says, "About why he was so devoted to it, why he was out on the waves every day and never let anything get in the way of it. And he told me he lost his guy."
"So," Kono clears her throat but her eyes are too bright, "So I asked him what he meant, and he said that people like him need a guy, somebody to tell them when to come inside and when to remember to eat and when to slow down. He said when you're a kid, it's your mom or dad, but when you grow up, most people have to learn to do it for themselves. Except for some people, they need a guy, you know? Somebody who loves you more than you love whatever it is, surfing I guess. And he told me he found his guy, but then--" She clears her throat again. "I think it must've been Ben's mom. And when he lost her he didn't -- anyway.
"I guess it scared me a little. When I blew out my knee I felt almost relieved that I wouldn't end up like Ian."
"Yeah," Steve says, "But now you might end up like Meka. Or Chin."
"Or you," she shoots back, and he squints at her. "He would've liked you, though. The whole team. He was proud of me."
"Of course he was," Steve says.
They watch the sun set for a while, and Steve slowly realizes why Kono picked this place; here at the inland edge of the city, the trees unroll beneath them under the waning light, looking for all the world like green waves.
"Tell me about your dad," Kono says.
Steve lifts an eyebrow. "I'm going to need more beers than I brought," he warns.
Kono laughs, bright and loud and beautiful. "Boss-man, I'm a cop and a surfer," she says. "I've got more booze than food in my fridge."
"Oh, well in that case," Steve grumbles, but gets up and follows her back inside to argue over what kind of pizza they should order.
After that, Danny figures he and Steve are pretty even, and he attends Grace's next practice even though it's not his day. The moms greet him, delighted and relieved -- apparently there'd been bets placed on if he'd run off with somebody from the party or died in a tragic hit and run.
"You didn't just ask my daughter if I was okay?" he asks, settling between Billie and Roma.
"Oh we tried," Billie says. "She said she pled the fifth. Which made us even more nervous."
Danny can't lie that he's got conflicted feelings about raising a daughter in the life he leads, but she's one hell of a quick study, that's fore sure. "Well, never fear," Danny says. "Just been busy."
"Uh-huh," Roma says. "Coach Steve hasn't been here, either."
"Maybe he was the one in the hit-and-run," Danny says, but he feels a faint prick of worry. Grace hadn't said anything. He watches her take a boy half again her size and roll to her feet, jumping up and down in excitement and making crazy circles around Coach Mamo. Maybe she just hadn't noticed.
"So you two haven't been," Billie says, leadingly, trying not to laugh as she gazes at Danny innocently.
"Your questions are shockingly improper, ma'am," Danny says.
The practice is still fun to watch, even without Steve to provide handy distraction; Grace's skill level has gone from "I'm-just-happy-she's-having-a-good-time" to Danny being honestly concerned about the welfare of kids who crossed her, and it's a pleasure to see her mow down the opposition on every play. Part of him can't help but worry, with her one of the only girls and definitely the smallest, but it's hard not to be pleased.
"It's physics, brah," Mamo tells him after practice wraps up. "Force equals mass times velocity. Your little spitfire, she might not have the mass, but there's nothing faster on two legs on this island than Gracie Williams when she spots a target."
"You made her sound like a heat-seeking missile," Danny observes.
"I sure did," Mamo says, and claps him lightly on the shoulder; he only staggers instead of falling over.
He collects Grace and Rachel's limo driver is waiting in the parking lot when a slight, wan woman bundled up in a cardigan says, "Uh. Mr. Williams?"
Danny pushes Grace back that few inches, tenses and does a once over -- no weapon in hands or on holsters, not enough muscle mass to be any kind of expert in unarmed combat, not carrying herself like she means to be any threat. Then he looks at her face and recognizes the photo.
"Mrs. Hanamoa," he says.
The woman pauses. "I guess -- I shouldn't be surprised you know my name," she says awkwardly. "I, uh. I mean, I know yours, so."
"Hazards of the kind of world we live in," he agrees. Grace looks up at him and he shakes his head slightly. "What can I do for you?" he asks Mrs. Hanamoa.
She rubs at her face -- she's been crying. "I was hoping to talk to you. If you had a second."
"Is there -- I hope your husband's all right?" Danny asks, because despite everything, he's worried. No Steve at practice, and now this, whatever this is.
Mrs. Hanamoa nods, but she doesn't look like all right covers it. Danny leans down and tells Grace, "Monkey, why don't you go on home, I'll see you this weekend, okay?"
Grace shoots him a look that's at least twenty years too old for her face and Danny would swear to God that she's about to ask if he's okay being alone with this lady, but she just reaches up for a quick hug before running for the limo.
He turns back to Mrs. Hanamoa. "What happened," he says, pitching it the way he talks to his employees, an order that's got to be followed.
Which works; she clears her throat and says in a pretty steady voice, "He's in the hospital. Someone tried to shoot him last night. There was -- it was -- he's been under investigation. For taking bribes. Steve -- Commander McGarrett had to ask for his badge a few days ago, and then last night, there was -- somebody came to our house, and the IA guy won't tell us anything, and it's a mess."
It sounds like it. Danny hasn't heard about any of this, which irritates him, but the Internal Affairs department has been a hard nut to crack. "I'm sorry to hear that."
For some reason, that seems to make her smile. "I'm sure you are. I'm -- you're wondering what I'm doing, telling you about all this?" She fumbles in her pocket and pulls out a wad of unused tissues, blotting at her face with them.
"The question crossed my mind," Danny admits.
"Meka talks about you sometimes," she says. "About -- not about, you know, what you do. But Grace and Billy are in the same music class, and he heard about how you come here to the practices." She waves her hand around the stadium. "He said once that he's never met such a good criminal who was such a good guy."
"That's very nice of him," Danny replies. "I think."
It gets him another smile, at least. "Look," she says, talking fast, as though she's got a time limit going all of a sudden, "I know that you -- know things. Or know people who know things. The only thing I've been able to figure out -- since he won't tell me anything -- is that he's been working on something for a few months, since before he got into Five-0. Something about a drug ring that's coming into Hawai'i." She takes a deep breath. "And if it's -- if it's your, uh. People. If you know who the inside person is at HPD. I don't know, I'm just asking if you could, maybe, please, just tell them it's not Meka, you don't have to tell them who it is, but if the bullet doesn't kill him, this will, he's... please, Mr. Williams, I just, please." She's crying again, although she doesn't know it; the tears are falling down her face and she's just looking at him with the desperation of someone who's stupid in love.
This is the exact same way he got into trouble that one time in Newark, but what the hell.
"We're not in that business," he says, but holds up a hand when she opens her mouth. "We're not, but you're right, I know some people. There's some who might be able to help us out."
"Help us -- then you'll help?" she asks, reaching out to touch his arm and then shrinking back. "I -- really?"
He takes her hand; she's cold, even wrapped in a sweater in eighty-degree weather. "Tell your husband he's a good guy, and a good cop, okay? And that's an even weirder combination, believe me."
It's been a long week, full of paperwork and interviews and arguments. Steve's never been patient, he knows that, and this case has been one exercise in Zen after another. It's starting to piss him off. What makes him crazier is that Meka's stranded at home recovering, useless and crabby and crazy while the rest of Five-0 runs around trying to prove that all the Cayman accounts and suspicious phone calls are bogus -- that Meka's been set up, is still being set up. Amy calls him three times a day, reporting on the state of the backyard that Meka's apparently decided to attack in lieu of hitting Cage with a heavy bat. "Steve," she hissed into the phone at one point this morning, "He's trimming hedges, you've got to do something."
So when Steve gets the call from Chin, he's about five seconds away from pointing his truck straight into the ocean even before he hears, "Hey Steve, guess who's come in for a chat."
"Unless it's the Governor or Jesus or Danny Goddamn Williams turning himself in, I don't even want to hear it," Steve says.
Chin's quiet on the other end, and Steve stares out at the ocean, just a few feet away, with longing.
"It's Danny, isn't it."
Chin sounds embarrassed. "He said he brought us a present?"
By the time Steve gets back to HQ, Danny's been cooling his heels for the better part of an hour in Interrogation. "He say why he's here?" Steve asks Chin.
"Nope," Chin replies, "But he's been pretty chatty, otherwise." He nods to the one-way mirror, where Kono is sipping coffee with Danny like they're on a date. Danny's leaning forward, waving his hands around and almost spilling all over the table. Steve hits the monitor switch to listen in.
"--gotta remember that it's not an open-and-shut thing, you know?" Danny's saying. "It's not, the guy dies, you feel sad, boom, then you're better. It takes time. The important thing, the thing you've got to know, is that it wasn't your fault."
"I was right there, though," Kono replies, and Steve resists the impulse to thunk his head against the glass. Under normal circumstances, he'd get in there, haul Kono out and rake her over the coals for getting personal with a suspect, but Danny's already the exception to almost every rule. Besides, she's looking straight at him, frowning as though she's listening to what he's saying. God help them all if Danny Williams is playing shrink for Five-0.
Chin clears his throat. "Uh," he says.
"Right," Steve says, and turns off the switch. "So what's this present you were talking about?"
"This," Chin says. He heaves a big briefcase with a three-digit combination lock onto the table.
"I don't suppose he gave us the combination," Steve mutters, wondering if he can pry it open somehow. It's expensive, he can tell just by the feel of the leather, and something about him wants to smash it to pieces.
"Eight-five-zero," Chin says, mouth quirking in a smile when Steve looks up at him.
"Eight -- 'H' is the eighth letter in the alphabet. H-five-oh. Cute." Steve spins the lock.
An hour or so later -- Miss Kalakaua's long gone, along with that amazing French press coffee she'd given him -- the door opens and Chin Ho Kelly comes in. "McGarrett's having a rage blackout," he says. "He sends his regrets."
"I'm sorry if I ever gave you the impression that I don't find you just as personable and attractive as your commanding officer."
It only gets him a raised eyebrow, though, which is why this game's so much more fun with Steve, who would've flushed and scowled and threatened to throw him off a bridge or something. "So you really do hit on everyone and everything," he observes. "And here Steve was thinking he was special. He's going to be crushed."
Danny can't help laughing. "Jesus, Kelly, he's going to have your balls for that."
"Nah," Chin dismisses. "The whole team's too busy looking over the... evidence that you brought in."
"I don't like the doubtful little pause you put in there," Danny says.
"Now, me," Chin continues, "I'm wondering how much of it we're going to be able to use, in the end."
"It's all going to check out," Danny says, and gets another eyebrow for his trouble. "It will. This is--" Danny shrugs. "It's our thing, you know? Corruption, it always smells. And Meka's clean as a baby's ass."
"I don't think that's the right metaphor," Chin says, and looks like he's going to say something else. But he doesn't, and the silence draws tight in the small room. "Mr. Williams--"
"Danny," he says. "Danny's a better name to use when you're asking for favors."
Chin stares at him, head tilted away as though he doesn't want to face Danny straight on. "I'm not asking any favors," he says.
Danny says, "Then it's a good name anyway."
Chin nods. "Danny, then." He blows out a breath and glances up at the two-way mirror.
"Steve doesn't know you're in here, does he," Danny realizes, and Chin's start is confirmation enough. "You want to know why I brought all that stuff on Meka and nothing on you."
"It crossed my mind to wonder," Chin says slowly. "But I'm not sure I'm going to like the answer."
Danny can sympathize. "I did find some things," he says. "But then I figured out that you could've cleared yourself a long time ago just by telling the truth. And you didn't. So I've got to respect that."
"Of course I do. I was raised not to meddle, you know? Let people decide for themselves if they want help."
"Are you saying Meka came to you?" Chin asks, unable to keep the surprise out of his voice.
"What, I come here and get insulted the whole time," Danny sighs. "No, Amy Hanamoa. And before you go telling on her," Danny adds, "Remember that Meka's going to be cleared and you're going to put a dirty cop behind bars today."
"On the word of a gangster?"
"On information received," Danny says. "Besides, whatever else I've done, I've never lied to you guys."
"Don't let McGarrett hear you say that," Chin says.
"Guess I'll just have to hope you keep this conversation discreet," Danny says.
Chin nods. "I -- thank you," he says, getting up. "For Meka. And for me."
Danny cocks his head to one side. "You moving in?"
Steve remembers what his dentist said about his enamel and stops grinding his teeth. He's standing at Danny's very ugly front door, where he spent five very long minutes watching the very expensive grounds being tended by very suspicious gardeners while the very amused butler fetched Danny. Steve's never felt so downmarket in his life. "I need a favor," he says.
"I am -- hold up, I gotta find a recorder, I want to save this moment for posterity," Danny says, looking smug. He snaps his fingers. "Hey, you got another bug on you?"
"That's funny," Steve says.
"I'm hilarious, babe," Danny agrees, and steps back from the doorway. "Come on in. That looks heavy."
"It's fine." The surveillance equipment weighs a ton and a half, but he keeps hold of it once he's inside.
"So," Danny says, once the door's closed. From here Steve can spot two bodyguards and the butler, who's got the movements of someone who was in one of the Armed Forces, all watching him. "What brings you, and what looks like a few hundred thousand dollars of Hawaii state property, to come visit?"
"There's a group of people living next to you," Steve says, gesturing toward the hedges that separate Danny's place from the triathletes. "They're planning a big heist tomorrow during the Ironman, and I'd like to set up a surveillance detail and see if I can figure out what they're... uh. Trying to steal." Saying it aloud makes it sound even dumber, and it had sounded dumb when Meka had suggested it an hour ago.
Danny smiles at him. "You know, if you want to know if I like you, you could just pass me a note. Do you like me, check yes or no--"
"They killed two armored car guards and the third's in critical condition," Steve interrupts. "If that makes any difference."
"So you're saying that my next-door neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Fittinski--"
"Those aren't their--"
"I know it's not their names, Steve, I just meant they're in better shape than you. And I know how hard that must be," Danny gives him a friendly sort of leer, which before he'd met Danny, Steve would swear wasn't possible. "And you're saying they just happen to be world-class... heist-doers. Heisters? What would the word be for that? Anyway," he continues, waving all that aside. "You're asking me if you can spy on them from my bedroom."
"Your bedroom overlooks their place?" Of course it does.
"Oh yeah," Danny grins. "Here, come on with me, I'll show you." He makes for the staircase, then stops and turns. "Incidentally, Steve, you make any moves to bug my house, I'm going to be very disappointed. And I've got someone on the payroll who can make your life hell."
"You're really threatening to have someone beat me up?" Steve asks, honestly sort of entertained.
"Don't be ridiculous, he's a tech nerd. He'll change all your bank account numbers and yank your driver's license, I don't know. Just, don't make me use my powers for evil."
"You do use your powers for evil," Steve points out. They pass a half-open door; the pink flowers on the bedspread indicate it's Grace's room. "Is today one of your days with Grace?" he asks.
"Don't act like you don't know my custody schedule as well as I do," Danny says. He opens a door. "It's unbecoming to a gentleman and an officer. Here you go, I'll be right back." And before Steve can object, Danny's down the hall, one of his henchmen coming out from God-knows-where to talk to him. Steve goes inside.
The master bedroom is huge and airy; there are windows on three sides, all open wide with curtains blowing. Steve sets down the equipment near the window that overlooks the other house, which is also closest to the gigantic four-poster bed. He tosses the equipment case onto the bedspread and doesn't think too hard about it.
About halfway through setup, Danny comes back and leans against one of the posts -- it's like he can't stand up without some supporting surface -- and watches Steve, silent. It's more than a little unnerving; Danny doesn't babble, but he's not often quiet like this.
"Okay, what," Steve asks, after everything's up and running. Danny blinks, refocuses his gaze like he was off somewhere else.
"Hmm?" he asks, and standing in Danny's bedroom, Steve has the sudden certainty that that's what Danny sounds like when he's just woken up, soft and still half-asleep against the sheets.
Steve swallows and says, "You're quiet, it's making me nervous."
That makes Danny smile. "I think I like you nervous," he says. "No, I was just thinking."
"Yeah, I do it occasionally, I like to keep in practice."
"What were you thinking about?" Steve means to sound impatient, but Danny treats it like a real question; he sits down at the foot of the bed, sprawling back to rest on his elbows. The curve of his body is -- Steve keeps his eyes on Danny's face.
"I was just thinking," Danny replies, "That it's very interesting, how you come to my place over a big heist going down tomorrow, the perpetrators of said heist are living right next door, and yet you're not asking me if I know anything about it."
Steve shrugs. "There's no evidence tying them to you."
"Yeah, but that's more a point of professional pride than innocence," Danny says. "I mean, if I was involved, you'd never know it."
"They've killed people, Danny," Steve snaps. "I know your style, and this -- isn't it."
Danny's eyes go hard and dark. "Don't make too many assumptions on that front," he warns. "You know my style, so you know what you just said is a bunch of bullshit."
"Innocent people, though? You've--" Steve cuts himself off before he starts reciting Danny's file; somehow it sounds a little weird to admit he knows about the warehouse fire Danny started against a rival family's sweatshop ten years ago; how he'd kept every door unlocked so that the workers were all able to get out, and how all of those workers had been quietly hired by various fronts operated by Danny's people no more than a month later. He's not harmless, but he's not heartless either.
"If you were involved, you'd never let me set up shop in your bedroom," Steve says instead, even though he knows it's going to make him blush.
Sure enough, Danny laughs. "You bet your bootcamp bootstraps I would, babe," he says. "An opportunity like this? I'd give up a lot more than a heist, let me tell you."
Steve's saved from having to respond -- and he's honestly not sure how he would -- by Meka, who calls and says he's finished the witness list and is coming over. "You get eaten alive yet, Boss?" he asks.
"Few close calls," Steve admits.
"Excellent. See you in ten."
Danny lifts his eyebrows in inquiry as Steve gets off the phone. "Uh, Meka's on his way over to help out with the surveillance," he explains.
"And here I was thinking it'd be just the two of us," Danny pouts.
Steve squints at him. "How many people are in this house right now? A dozen or so?"
"I'm just saying, I think the bloom might be off the rose, Steve. You never close your eyes anymore--" he starts singing, and this time Steve grabs the nearest pillow and flings it at his head.
Watching a couple of spooks do a peeper is educational; Danny's lost track of the number of times he's been spied on by one government bureau or another, but it's illuminating to see it from this perspective.
It's also boring as hell. The criminals-to-be just work out for the whole afternoon and evening, which Danny vaguely thinks is weird for people doing a big triathelon the next day, but his is not to question why. Once Meka arrives (with a batch of fudge, which he stiffly explains is a present from Amy), Steve goes into SuperSEAL mode and Danny wanders off after a while to find something more interesting to do.
He finds Stan in his office, sitting at the conference table and splitting his glare between the books and the surveillance cameras, which are at the moment all on Danny's bedroom. "Tell me you don't sit here doing this when I'm having company over," Danny tells him.
"This is the most company you've had since the divorce came through," Stan says tonelessly, and folds his hands together. "I had assumed you were smarter than to start with that," and he nods at the camera.
Danny glances over; Steve is crouched over the equipment while Meka is peering at something through a pair of binoculars. "I've got you and Rachel for smart, don't I?" he says.
"This is exceptionally stupid, though," Rachel says from behind him, and he starts, spinning on one foot.
"You need to stop doing that whole cat-foot thing, or I swear to God I'm belling you," he says.
"I'd like to see you try."
She'd win. "Where's Grace?"
"Over at Leia's for that slumber party that I told you about at least three times," Rachel replies, brushing past him and going over to Stan, pressing a distracted kiss to the top of his head. "What are they doing here?"
"Well, one of them at least is starring in my Harlequin-themed fantasies," Danny says. He crosses over to his desk and logs into his computer. "Although McGarrett's not too bad-looking either."
"Daniel," Rachel sighs.
"You heard anything about a four-man team operating during triathlons?" he asks.
Stan frowns and pulls out his Blackberry. "More," he says, which is the way Stan politely asks for further information.
"At least one of them's a woman," Danny says. "They target big-haul marks. Plus, you know, they're living next door."
"The renters?" Rachel says, the same way you'd say "dog vomit." Rachel doesn't have a lot of class snobbery triggers, but the ones she does have are kind of adorable.
"Yeah, the ones who make me look like an overweight windbag," Danny says, and then points at both of them. "Shut up."
In five minutes Stan has more information than even Five-0 has been able to procure -- and this is a team that doesn't think anything of dunking poor little schmucks like Joey Mancini into a shark tank for info. The group is out of Texas, Sally and Tobias Kemblowski and Maya Jones and Herbert -- "Who names a kid Herbert, it's like they want him to resort to a life of crime," Danny mutters -- Innes. They've had the good luck, or survival instinct, to avoid breaking into any joints affiliated with the families, and their hauls have never broken the million marker, two reasons they're not on anyone's radar. But they're mean, and at least one of them's a sociopath; for this job they've killed two and a half people, and last job they got the blueprints for the bank vault by torturing a guy for seven hours before gutting him.
"Sound body, sound mind, my foot," Rachel says, shaking her head. "Well?"
"Well what?" Danny asks.
"Are you giving this information to your Fabio, or are we going to ask for a cut in exchange for warning the robbers, or what?" She's not really interested in the answer, Danny can tell; it's probably more the thrill of making Danny squirm.
So Danny doesn't squirm. "Or what," he replies. "We know who they are, we know what they can do, and we've got a medium-good idea what they want. So let's give them something more constructive to do with their time."
Steve half-expects Danny to come back and bother them; keeps part of his brain braced against it, even while he's watching Meka slip into the suspects' house through the sliding glass doors. He gets almost nowhere before someone's coming up the drive -- the other couple, he can't believe he didn't think of that -- and Steve's scrambling for the door, only to run face-first into Danny.
"Whoa, where's the fire?"
"I've got to -- do you have any explosives? Anything that'll make a distraction?" Steve demands, dragging Danny down the stairs toward the garage.
"Hold up, babe, it's fine, calm yourself down," Danny says, grabbing Steve's wrist with his free hand. "It's taken care of."
Steve stops short, turns back to stare at him. "What?"
"Your partner," Danny explains. "I've got people on it, don't worry."
Steve changes course and wrenches the front door open, just in time to hear a horrifying crunch from the street. He lets go of Danny. "What did you do?" he hisses.
Danny puts both hands up. "Just a little diversion. I had a feeling Mr. Hanamoa wouldn't like being made in a pantry. Just not a dignified way to go."
"Tell me you didn't just have one of your goons killed in a car crash in order to be your diversion," Steve says. He can hear the murmur of a conversation from the driveway; a woman's voice, slurred and loud and British. "Oh," Steve realizes, "This is so much worse. Danny--"
"Relax," Danny instructs. "Your dentist told you be careful about your teeth."
Steve starts down the driveway, but before he's halfway down the gate opens and a car, its front grille totaled, comes limping in. At the wheel is a lovely young woman who is depressingly easy to identify.
"Whoops, that was so very careless of me," Rachel Edwards says as she climbs out. Her voice is no longer thick with alcohol; she sounds like Margaret Thatcher's granddaughter. "I must have mistakenly turned into the wrong drive. Isn't it embarrassing when that happens?" She beams at Steve as though he's said something nice to her.
The hedges rustle and Meka practically falls out; he's barely three weeks out of the hospital and Steve wonders if he's more concerned about Meka's health or what Amy will do to him if Meka comes home damaged. "Hey Boss," Meka whispers hoarsely, jogging over. "I got the uhhhhhhm," he adds when he sees Danny and Rachel. "Hi?" he tries.
"I see what you mean," Rachel says to Danny.
"What?" Meka asks, frowning.
"Never mind," Danny says, a little faster than he normally talks, "Let's get inside, shall we? Less open air the better."
But Meka touches Steve's arm as the other two head inside. "I think I've got what we came for," he says, low, "And I'm the last guy who's going to impugn Danny Williams's character, but we should probably head out before he starts getting ideas."
"You think he'll try to yank the job out from under the triathletes?" Steve murmurs, watching Danny and Rachel walk ahead, shoulders brushing. He's on good terms with a lot of his exes, but Danny's turned toward Rachel, gesturing broadly with his hands and from here Steve can see the curve of Danny's cheek, the crow's feet of his smile. It's unsettling.
"I don't know," Meka admits, "But I figure, the less temptation he's got, the better. Besides, it's only a few more hours until the start, we should probably go catch forty and meet up with Kono and Chin at the starting line."
"Good plan," Steve agrees, and it is; the fact that the next morning they only catch half the thieves shouldn't grate on Steve's nerves the way it does. Kono and Steve nab their guys but Chin and Meka lose theirs in the press of bodies; all they find are the discarded bikes and helmets near busy intersections. Fortunately, the couple they did catch had the goods, so the Governor still gives them a clap on the back.
Still, when he sees Danny at practice a week later, Danny's wearing a shit-eating grin and Steve's never wanted to cuff someone to the nearest solid object more in his life.
"It's a sound business proposal, Mr. Williams," Noshimuri says, dabbing at the corner of his mouth delicately with the napkin. "I think you and I can do quite a bit of profitable work together."
Danny glances at Stan, who's holding himself perfectly still; they're not out of the woods yet, not by half. "I'm glad to hear it," he says smoothly. "Your support in this means a lot."
It means more than a lot; it means the gambling business can stay in business. Danny made a lot of mistakes when he first came here, thinking that it was a war between the Samoans and the Triads. There are a dozen different gangs, cartels, and syndicates, all fighting each other.
The Yakuza aren't in the war because they've already won it; everyone else is scrambling for second-best, knowing better than to touch the drug highway that flows under the islands like a filthy sewer.
Danny learned fast, though, and Noshimuri's legitimate only if you're looking from a legitimate angle; it was easy to find him, if not so easy to get him at this sit-down. And even then, there was the annoying choreography of who comes, who stays away, who gets a guard detail and who secures the restaurant. Stan threw the world's most refined hissy fit when Rachel said she'd go, which had actually worked for him, the asshole; it'd never worked for Danny in the ten years of their marriage.
So now he's got Stan eating coq au vin and doing mathematical acrobatics in his head and Rachel on a wireless earpiece, offering the occasional useful piece of advice in between bitching about missing the foie gras, trying to decide if the little pipsqueak Noshimuri brought with him is some kind of trophy wife or actually has a brain under that creepy smile.
"How would you quantify 'a lot,' Mr. Williams?" said little pipsqueak says. If this is the Yakuza version of a consigliere, Danny's not impressed.
"Careful," Rachel murmurs. "He's smarter than he looks."
He'd have to be. "I think putting a number on something as clearly qualitative as this can be a tricky proposition, Wo."
Rachel sighs, hissing in his ear. "Don't be petty, Daniel."
The pipsqueak twitches. "I am correctly addressed as Mr. Wo," he says. "That is my family name."
Danny just stares at him, letting the silence spin out, until Noshimuri clears his throat. "I think what my friend is saying is that there is a certain guarantee that makes these partnerships more... stable."
"And what guarantee would you like?" Danny asks. It's much, much too blunt, but Danny's starting to get pissed off.
Stan switches his fork from his left hand to his right, and Danny tries to remember if that's code for stop being a dick or I have to take a leak and don't trust you not to fuck this up without me, don't talk about anything other than double rainbows while I'm gone. Stan doesn't follow the move by getting up, though, so Danny figures it's Door Number One.
"We have heard reports of your... association with Steven McGarrett," Noshimuri says smoothly.
"The head of that task force?" Stan chuckles; he always sounds about ten times more human when he's talking business with strangers. "He's entertaining enough, but I don't see what he's got to do with us."
"He tried to shut down the event you hosted last month," Noshimuri replies. "I was already gone by then, but I heard it was very disruptive."
"You don't need to worry about any disruptions in our business," Stan says. "We can offer that guarantee."
"I don't think that will be necessary," Noshimuri beams. "But it is good to hear you make that offer." His gaze flickers to Danny.
"Why isn't it necessary?" Danny asks, ignoring Rachel's furious instructions that he keep his bloody mouth shut.
"He will be killed later today," the pipsqueak tells him, taking a sip of water.
"That's good news," Stan says, and Danny can't tell if he means it or not. "You have a contract out?"
"Much better," Noshimuri says. "I have a motivated individual."
"So Victor Hesse did survive?" Stan says, and steps on Danny's foot hard at the same time.
"He's a hard man to kill." Noshimuri stands up. "I'll have someone get in touch with you in the next few days," he says. "It's been a pleasure, gentlemen."
Danny watches as they, their bodyguards, and the one guy who'd been pretending to be a waiter with a gun in his waistband all leave through various exits. There's still someone watching, he knows, so he takes care to lean back and look calm, relaxed, even as he says low, "You have to get me info, I need to--"
"No, Danny--" Rachel says, at the same time that Stan shakes his head.
"No, I don't want to hear no right now, did you hear them?" Danny says, turning on the one person who's present and able to take some of this frustration. "And what do you mean 'oh I guess Victor Hesse survived,' I thought he was fish food."
"Noshimuri doubtless has McGarrett's phones tapped," Rachel says. "And any activity on our end will make them think we've got some kind of personal interest in keeping McGarrett alive."
"He's a Navy SEAL," Stan says, "You've got to assume he can take care of himself."
"Screw this," Danny says. He stands up and heads for the door, lets Paulie deal with the check while Stan scrambles to keep up with him. Kamekona's already waiting out front, and they swing out into the street while Danny digs the earpiece out and flicks it across the floor.
Five seconds later Rachel calls his phone. "That was immature," she says.
"Bite me," Danny mutters. "So explain to me exactly why we're going to let Steve McGarrett get himself shot."
"Hesse traditionally prefers blowing people up," Stan says.
Danny scrubs at his face with his free hand. "This guy, Rachel, just, a real catch."
"We cannot afford to let Noshimuri see that we're willing to risk operations for the life of a policeman, Danny. You've got to see that -- it will mean not only the end of our venture here, but possibly our lives and certainly our safety."
Danny argues back and forth with her until they drive into the garage, at which point Danny finally says, "You know what, this isn't up for debate. There's nothing you or anyone else can do to stop me."
"You really have to stop giving me such perfect openings like that," Rachel says, as Stan slides out of the car. Danny leans over and pulls the handle on his side.
Nothing happens, except that Stan slams his door shut. Danny has a surge of adrenaline -- this is how one of his cousins died, five years ago, a hired guy in the driver's seat and the child-proof locks on. "Rachel," he says, trying not to panic.
"Oh, do calm down, honestly," Rachel snaps. "You're not going to die."
"Hey, I've got cause to for concern, here," Danny protests. "You have a history of blowing off steam by trying to kill me."
"I was going through a difficult time," Rachel says. "Anyway, I've decided I'd much rather kill you myself."
"Then why aren't the doors opening?"
"Because you're an idiot and I can't risk you trying to rescue your little damsel in distress. In about thirty seconds, Toast is going to kill your mobile, and you'll be incommunicado until either Hesse or Steve is dead. Is that clear?"
"Tell Toast he's a dead man," Danny growls.
"Nonsense, he's the best we've got, you're not going to give him cement shoes just because he's more terrified of me than you," Rachel says. "Now, I'll tell Grace you said goodnight, and I'll--" the line goes dead.
Danny throws the phone against the divider; it clatters to the ground, apparently unharmed, and Danny hates technology all over again.
Suddenly the divider rolls down an inch. "Hey Danno?" Kamekona says. "Hey, sucks about this."
"Kamekona -- Kamekona, come on, you gotta let me out of here, let's hop to it."
"No can do," Kamekona sounds pretty regretful. "I got orders."
"Orders, what orders, I'm your boss, remember that?"
"I'm real sorry, Danno," Kamekona says. "I know you pay my salary, but Rachel's a scary woman, you know?"
"I will break every bone in your body, I swear to God," Danny promises. "I will sink every one of your stupid boats. And set fire to them."
"Hard to do if you already sank 'em," Kamekona says. He feeds something through the slot. "Here, I'll leave you my iTouch. It's got Angry Birds on it, maybe you can channel some of that vexation you're currently experiencing?"
"Every bone," Danny yells back, "Starting with your feet."
"I'll come and let you out in a few hours, okay? You be safe. Be careful not to drink too much from the bar, I know its' a temptation but trust me, limo hangovers are the worst."
Danny can hear him leave the garage, and he slumps back against the seat. Trapped in this car with an Apple product for company; put in scorpions and it's Hell.
After a while he tries to figure out how to turn on the thing. He doesn't make a habit of carrying stuff like this around; people who need to get in touch are usually the kind of people who he sometimes needs to avoid, and he's found it's a pretty handy eccentricity to have. Still, he manages to figure out the finger-swipe thing in pretty short order and praise God and hallelujah, Kamekona's got an email account and wireless access.
"Hey Boss?" Kono calls, poking her head through the cab's back window. "Thought you should know, Danny's either drunk or the worst speller in the history of the world."
Steve whips his head around; she's grinning that fifth-grade grin she's got, and waggling her phone at him. "What?" he says, baffled. It's so far out of context with the rest of the past twenty-four hours; finding Hesse, losing Sang-Min, Chin and the phone call and watching that line rush up until stepping over it was the only way to stay standing. Now they're barrelling down a dirt road toward Hesse, with nothing except a duffle full of stolen cash in the footwell and Kono crouched in the truck bed. Danny Williams is like another language.
"He just sent me an email," Kono replies.
"What's it say?"
Steve keeps his eyes on the road, but he can practically hear Kono rolling her eyes at him. "It says, 'warn steve--' spelled with a z, don't ask me why-- 'that victle hewwe--' I'm guessing that's Victor Hesse-- 'is still a lobe and plans to koll him todauuu.' And he signs it 'Dunny Wolloamd.'"
"He's a few hours behind," Steve says.
"I told him," says Kono. Over the sound of the road, Steve hears the chirping sound Kono's phone makes whenever she gets a new email. "Oh," she says, and bursts out laughing.
"What," Steve bites. They're still a good fifteen minutes away from the rendezvous, and he knows the last thing Kono needs is to get the yips -- chatting with Danny is a good distraction. But Steve doesn't like being reminded of Danny right now, reminded that he's out there consorting with people like Hesse.
"I asked him why he was using his driver's email address, and apparently," Kono has to take a breath, "Apparently, his people locked him in the limo. He wanted to kidnap you until someone 'took care' of Hesse. And now -- oh, man -- he's trying to figure out how to play Angry Birds."
"What the hell is Angry Birds?" Steve asks.
"Seriously, Boss, you've got an iPhone," Kono says reprovingly, before slinking down into the bed of the truck. Steve wants to tell her to tell Danny something, maybe that he's a pansy for getting locked into his own car, or that he needs to learn how to type on a smartphone, or that they'll be okay, that he knows what Hesse wants and Steve won't let anything happen.
But then Hesse calls and Steve answers the phone.
All Danny hears from Steve for the rest of the day is actually from Kono; she sends him an email about an hour before Rachel lets him out of detention. Everything's fine, she writes. Hesse is in prison and Steve and Chin are both safe.
wait wgqt happded to chin he sends back, and gets a little more of the story -- the part that apparently wasn't interesting enough for Noshimuri to mention. Danny's thinking more and more that he'd like to just whack the guy.
Especially after he gets buzzed by the front gate one harmless Wednesday morning, a few weeks later. "Hey Danno," Vince says. "Got an uninvited at the gate, says she knows you. Mary McGarrett? She came on foot."
Danny presses the intercom. "Yeah, she's fine."
But she isn't, when Vince ushers her into the office a couple minutes later; she's scraped and dirty, a pretty impressive bang on her forehead and a bruise on her cheek from one hell of a left hook. Danny's up and out of his seat and Mary's gaze snaps to him.
"What the hell -- Vince, get the doc, tell him we need some first aid. Are you--" he breaks off, because he remembers having to ask Rachel this once, and it should be easier to ask a near-stranger, but he still feels sick in his gut when forces out, "Did they touch you?"
Mary stares at him for a second, then bursts into hiccuping tears. Danny grabs her as she crumples forward, maneuvering them onto a nearby sofa.
"I thought -- I wasn't," she hiccups again, then gets a hold of herself a little bit. She straightens up, wiping at her nose. "I thought maybe it was you," she says. "But they didn't touch me, you wouldn't have asked that if you--"
"You McGarretts really think the worst of a guy, don't you," Danny says distractedly. "Who was it that didn't touch you? I mean, obviously they touched you," he revises, gesturing at her face and putting his hands down when she flinches. "You don't get that from a cutting remark, I can tell you."
Mary sniffles again, and Danny looks around for some kleenex. "It was three guys," she says. "They grabbed me around -- I don't know, what time is it?" she asks suddenly.
"It's nine in the morning," he says.
"God, that's so much earlier -- it's barely been eight hours," she laughs. It's not a good sound. "They grabbed me when I got home. I tried to fight them as much as I could, but they wanted--" She stops, bites something back. "I wouldn't talk so they threw me in the trunk of a car, said I'd be useful for something the boss had planned anyway."
"Something the boss had planned anyway -- those were their exact words?"
Mary nods. "I mean, I think so? My Japanese is pretty rusty, and they were speaking kind of half-pidgin, so--"
"Wait, they were speaking Japanese?" Danny feels like he's about five steps behind, but he's gaining fast.
"Yeah. Why? You think--" Mary claps her hand over her mouth, then winces at the pain. "Oh my God. I've got to call my brother."
"Hold on, hold on," Danny says. "Yes, you do have to call your brother, but there's just a few more things, like how the hell did you get away from these guys, and do I need to call up my guard-dogs to secure the perimeter?"
"It... might not be a bad idea," Mary admits. "I'm sorry, I didn't think about it, it's just I managed to pop the trunk and I rolled out when they were at a stop light, I don't think they even noticed. They were blaring this awful, like, death-metal shit and the car kept rocking around anyway," and she makes this hilarious face that reminds Danny of her brother. "And when I figured out where I was, I was like, three blocks away. And I thought what the hell, either you're going to kill me or you're going to give me a drink." She sighs, slouches back on the sofa. "I haven't gotten that drink yet, by the way."
"Doc's probably not going to want you drinking on top of your injuries plus whatever medication he's going to give you."
"Drinking is medication, Danny," Mary tells him sternly.
Danny laughs. "Call your brother," he advises. "And I'll tell you what, if we both survive him, I'll get you a drink."
"... and then Danny told me to call you, and then you flipped your lid," Mary concludes, "Because my brother the ninja didn't even notice I was gone."
It's at least the tenth time she's brought that up. "You live twenty minutes away, it's not like I could've heard them kidnap you from my place."
They're in Steve's office; she'd walked in ten minutes ago, white gauze on her forehead, and Steve's had a ringing in his ears ever since. Mary's a lot more relaxed than he is, although that might have something to do with the flask Kono gave her before taking off with Chin to process her house. "I'm just saying, I totally want a refund on my fail-ninja brother."
"Thanks," Steve says. "So, okay. What were they doing in that neighborhood if they didn't work for Danny?"
Mary shrugs. "Maybe some other big-time criminal lives around there, too," she says, but she's staring down at her coffee and hunching her shoulders over.
"What?" Steve asks.
"Danny thinks they were going to kill me and dump the body on his lawn or something," she says. "I mean, he said it nicer than that, but he said they were trying to send a message to you and take him down at the same time."
"They, who's they?" Steve asks, leaning back in the chair.
"He wouldn't say. But he's going to do something stupid, I just know it."
Steve can't help the rush of affection he feels at that.
Rachel surprises Danny -- surprises everybody -- by being the one in favor of a bloodbath.
"Who the hell do they think they are?" she rages, pacing back and forth in clackety heels, arms folded tight around her chest the way she does when she's so pissed she's afraid she might explode. "What if Grace had seen the body, what if they'd tried to pin it on both of us?"
"That... would've been bad," Danny agrees, "But taking down the Yakuza single-handed is maybe not the best plan, here."
"Why not?" Rachel demands. Stan reaches out to touch her elbow as she paces within range, but she jerks away violently. "Us, the Samoans--"
"We're not really their favorite people," Stan points out.
"In a choice between dealing with us and being gutted like a pig," Rachel replies, "I'm sure they'll understand which is the better option. Even the Triads might help, if we can guarantee the Yakuza are out for good."
"This is -- don't get me wrong, I like this side of you," Danny says. "Reminds me why you're in charge of enforcement out here. But we cannot go in, guns blazing, and start a turf war over this."
"Give me one good reason," Rachel says, but she's stopped pacing and she's actually listening.
Danny grins. "Easy. Why take down the organization when we can just take it over?"
The key to revenge is patience, creativity, and self-control. There are half a dozen ways to get Noshimuri whacked, but he's too well-connected to go down quietly; any plan they come up with will come back to bite them in the ass. So they go forward with the deal, and the gambling racket keeps Rachel busy enough so that she's only coming into Danny's office once or twice a day to rant about putting Noshimuri's head on a pike.
A few weeks later, though, Danny's ready for her. "How do you feel about grand larceny?" he says. "Hawaii state laws put the theft of anything over a million at about twenty years."
"How much is he going to steal?" Rachel demands.
Danny makes a see-saw motion with his hands. "Based on my sources, it's either eighteen or twenty-eight million. What do you think? We've had Mr. and Mrs. Fittinski on ice for long enough, they should start earning their keep."
Rachel considers him for a long moment. "I'll call Stan," she says, in that you'd-better-know-what-you're-doing voice of hers.
"Excellent," Danny says.
It's pouring, and Steve's soaked between the car and the front door, which opens before he's got his hand lifted. Danny's standing there, tie loose around his throat. "Twenty-eight million, five hundred and sixty-seven thousand dollars," Steve says, shaking the water out of his eyes.
Danny leans against the doorway. "Some people start with hello, how are you, all that jazz."
"Twenty-eight million," Steve repeats doggedly, "Five hundred and sixty-seven thousand dollars. Tell me you didn't take it."
"I didn't take it," Danny says easily. "You want a drink?"
Too easily. "You're lying," he accuses as he follows Danny down a hallway he's never seen before.
"Hey," Danny laughs, opening a door into some kind of a den or a library, dark leather chairs and wall-to-wall built-in bookcases. "You ask me to tell you I didn't take it, now you're particular about, what, the tone of my voice, the trustworthiness of my word, what?" He crosses over to the window, where an impressive wet bar is set up. "Make up your mind."
Steve watches him pour two drinks, but he glances up and Steve has to look away, staring at the bookshelves instead. He frowns. There's something off; stepping closer, he realizes they're mostly children's books.
Danny catches his line of sight. "This is me and Grace's room, when she comes to visit," he explains, gesturing at the cabinets below the shelving. "All that's her Polly Pockets, Legos, My Little Ponies. Who'd have thought having a little girl would require all these accessories."
"And a cabinet full of alcohol," Steve points out.
"It's got a lock on it," Danny says, sounding just a little defensive.
Steve doesn't really understand why he takes the drink from Danny's hand. "I'd be surprised if she hasn't figured out the combination already."
"She's a smart cookie."
She is, and Steve has the weird impulse to tell Danny about the play she made at the last game, but he looks down at the brandy in his glass and this isn't what he's here for. He sets it down on a table and wipes his hands on his pants. "What did you do with the money?"
Danny takes a drink and sits down, legs sprawled and comfortable. "What money," he replies, like it's an answer.
"The twenty-eight million--"
"--Five hundred and sixty-seven thousand, right, that money." Danny blows out a breath. "You're not asking the right questions."
"Would you please stop critiquing my interrogation techniques and just--" he takes a step toward the chair, and he's got no idea what he'll do if he gets in range, no idea at all.
Danny's eyebrows go up, but he doesn't look worried. "You've only been a cop a few months, your interrogation techniques need some critiquing if you're going to keep in that line of business." He cradles the glass in his hands, flicks his gaze up at down Steve's body. "If you're wondering, the right technique here is to paint me a picture. Give me some context."
"Context -- you want context? Fine, context. The evidence locker at the HPD was broken into. It had twenty eight--"
"Yeahs, that number's starting to give me a headache, babe," Danny says, spinning his hand around like he wants to speed Steve up. "And somebody stole it?"
"You know they did," Steve snaps. "What did you do?"
"That's not the right--"
Steve wants to shake him, get his hands on him and -- "I swear to God, Danny, if you tell me that's not the right question," he warns.
"Two hours ago we were hip-deep in a tsunami warning," Danny says. "And now here you are, asking me about eighteen million, five hundred and sixty-seven thousand dollars."
Steve wants to throw up. "Twenty-eight million."
Danny smiles, slow and mean. "My mistake. I could've sworn you meant ten million less than that."
There are no more answers to that. Steve wishes he hadn't put down the drink.
"You didn't come all the way over here just so you could drip on my carpet and ask a bunch of questions you're not going to believe the answers to," Danny decides, and he's still just sitting there, just sitting there.
"You're not very believable when it comes to matters of police interest," Steve replies.
Danny spreads his arms out, letting his elbows rest loosely on the arms of the chair. "So ask me something where I'll give you an answer you'll believe."
"When was the money stolen?" Steve asks.
"Steve," Danny says reprovingly.
"I will arrest you right now, in your goddamn library, Danno. Don't mess me around. When did you take it?"
"You called me Danno, I like that," Danny says. "Okay, here's the deal. You, sit. Stop with the threats and the--" he waves his hand at Steve-- "Looming in general. And I'll tell you what questions to ask me, then you can ask them, and that way maybe you learn a little something."
Steve sits down. He's probably going to leave a water stain on the leather.
Danny beams at him, like he's done some kind of neat trick. "So, first I have to ask you a couple questions. Who's in charge of the case?"
"I thought you said--"
"I say a lot of things," Danny replies. "Spill."
"HPD is handling it," Steve bites out.
"And what do they think happened?" Danny says. "That's a question you should ask me, by the way."
Every time Steve thinks this guy can't get to be a bigger pain in his ass, he's proven horribly, horribly wrong. "What do they think happened?"
"They think it was stolen months, maybe years ago. There's no dust void where the stacks of cash were sitting, so it certainly couldn't have happened in the past few weeks. By the way," Danny adds, pointing a finger at him, "That was pretty sloppy work, there. If you're going to do a job, you should take some pride in your work."
"Why did you--"
"Ah," Danny says, "My questions, remember? Okay, next one, next one. How about, how did the HPD find out the money was stolen?"
"I already know that one," Steve protests.
Danny heaves a sigh. "I know, which is why I'm asking you this time. Keep up, Steven."
"Someone tried to steal it, using the fake tsunami warning as a distraction," Steve says. "And at first people thought he did steal it, but like you said, they realized it couldn't have been taken today. So they're looking into it."
"And so are you," Danny observes.
"Just shut up, would you?" Steve gets to his feet. "God, Danny, I'm -- they're going to figure it out. The HPD, they're good cops, they'll find something and it'll come back to you."
"I'm gonna argue with your assumptions, there," Danny says. "One, the HPD might have some good cops, you got Meka from there, but there's more than just a couple on the take and you don't usually go into the force if you've got an overabundance of smarts. Two, they're going to find diddly-nothing, trust me. Three, it's not coming back to me. Or you," he adds.
"Then who's it coming back to?" Steve asks.
"A guy who's got it coming," Danny says calmly.
"Why? Because he's a competitor? Or because it's the same guy who tried to kill Mary and pin it on you?"
"I always forget," Danny says, "What a brain you've got behind that face."
Steve tries to ignore that. "If he did those things, then framing him for grand theft isn't justice. You tell me what I need to know and I can get him for the things he's actually done, I can--"
"You can't, babe," Danny says, sounding tired. "Our thing, remember? This is the closest thing we've got to justice."
"Which is a kind of justice, isn't it?"
And the hell of it is that he's right. Maybe Steve was out on his own too long, chasing terrorists who came in all shapes and sizes and creeds, but he knows there are times when you can't do anything better than kill someone who's killed someone else. What's more, it's usually the better justice; Steve catches these people and takes them to prison and nothing brings back the lives they've taken, nothing repairs what they've broken. Revenge is underrated.
He can still feel the rain on the back of his neck, itching at his collar. "Why are you doing this?" he asks. "This whole thing, it doesn't make any sense unless it's--"
"For me," Danny says.
Steve blinks, thrown off. "What?"
"Your question isn't 'why are you doing this,'" he says, and he's up out of his chair and in Steve's space all over again, like the night in Steve's kitchen, like at practice, too close and unimaginably far away. "Your question is, 'why are you doing this for me.'"
"I don't think--"
"You've been not thinking for months," Danny says. "There's something else going on, something I'm not seeing, and that's fine. God knows I've got things in my life I keep well away from you. But this guy, he's hurt me, he's hurt my family, he's hurt people I love, and that doesn't stand, not ever."
"And you think I'm going to buy that it's all for me?" Steve says, keeping his footing even though he feels like a pendulum on a frayed string.
"No," Danny admits. "If you did, you'd be a chump. And I don't fall for chumps."
The air's too thin, too hot. "That's why you're doing this?"
Danny just smiles. "For you, babe. Don't forget that part."
And Steve can feel himself breaking.
Steve kisses like he does everything else, rushing the defenses and getting what he wants by any means necessary. Danny staggers and falls back into the chair but still Steve's crowding into him, kneeling between his legs, the best possible fantasy. "I ought to do nice things for you more often," Danny says, and he can feel the curl of Steve's smile against his mouth. "God, you're incredible."
"Yeah?" Steve murmurs, threading a hand into Danny's hair. Danny's torn between annoyance over getting his hair messed with and the way it feels, gut pleasure that makes his fucking toes curl.
"Yeah," Danny agrees, trying not to sound too wrecked just yet -- Steve's got his other hand on his thigh, thumb brushing way too casual against the inseam of Danny's pants. "But I'm gonna have to ask you to stop."
Steve doesn't take his hands off, but he blinks and moves back, nose brushing against Danny's cheek. "What?"
And okay, Danny's an asshole, everyone knows this, so he waits a whole half-beat before he has to cave and say, "No, not -- not stop, it's just I'm thinking about sitting in this room next week and Grace's playing with her Legos or whatever and I don't really want to have a flashback to getting jacked off in this chair, you know what I mean?"
Steve grins, and kisses him again, hard and fast. "Fair enough," he says. "You've got another idea?"
"Oh boy, do I."
Vince meets them in the hallway, making a face like someone stuffed a jalapeno up his nose. "Cams are off upstairs, Danno," he says. "So you all can... you know, whatever you gotta do."
"Get an eyefull?" Danny asks sympathetically. He remembers getting blindsided one night on the video feed with Uncle Gino, two hookers, and what looked like some kind of sex swing. Just because someone pays you doesn't mean you should sit through their amateur porn. He can feel Steve behind him, probably blushing so hard he's radioactive.
"Just, maybe stick to hand-holding or a little light humping until you get to the bedroom, okay?" Vince sighs.
Steve waits until Vince is out of earshot before laughing, resting his forehead on Danny's shoulder. "Oh man," he says. "That's -- we don't even need to have sex, nothing could get better than that."
"That sounds like a challenge," Danny says, and drags Steve up the stairs.
"It was," Steve says, catching hold of Danny's hips and pulling him back against his body; Danny can feel the heat of Steve's cock against his ass and he wonders how much humping he can get away in the hallway with before Vince complains.
"Come on, it's like ten more feet, you're seriously that hard up that you can't--"
"I'm choosing to believe that was just a terrible accidental pun and not a terrible intentional pun," Steve says, but they stumble into the bedroom and Danny kicks the door shut.
"Believe whatever you want, I'm still going to blow your mind." He tugs at Steve's shirt.
"And there's another one, this is getting suspicious." But Steve pulls the polo off with this mesmerizing wiggle motion, and finally Danny's got his hands on all that skin.
Danny pushes until Steve's flat on the bed and then crawls up after him, taking his time to nip at his stomach, holding Steve down when he gasps and -- "Did you just giggle?"
Steve rolls his eyes and gets both hands in Danny's hair this time, hauling him up his body. "Shut up," he advises, then makes an uncomfortable face. "Don't take this the wrong way, but I kind of need to do something with my gun. Shut up," he repeats when Danny bursts out laughing.
"Reminds me of that old line, 'This is my rifle, this is my gun; this is for fighting--'"
"'This is for fun,'" Steve finishes with him, "Glad you get your knowledge of the military from crappy movies, now are you going to get up off me or do you need to tell me about your gunplay fetish?"
Danny just sighs deeply and gets up, taking the hand Steve reaches out to him and pulling him to his feet. "This is the most annoying part of my life," he says, bracing his foot up on the bed to undo his ankle holster. He dumps the wallet, switchblade, and the other odds and ends that accumulate in pockets on his nightstand, then turns to see Steve frozen in the act of taking off his holster, staring at him. "What is it this time?"
"You have a butterfly knife in your pocket?"
"Those are illegal," Steve says.
"And here I figured we were already playing cops and robbers, but hey, I bet you've got handcuffs in your back pocket, let's see where the night takes us," Danny says.
Sure enough, Steve pulls out a pair of cuffs along with his wallet, badge, and--
"Steven, what is that?"
"A butterfly knife," Steve admits, tossing everything on the nightstand. He toes off his boots and gets back on the bed, sprawling out on his back, and Danny realizes it's the first time he's ever seen Steve loose like this, relaxed and, hey, pretty fucking horny. Danny practically jumps on top of him, careful to distract Steve from what he's got palmed in his right hand. Steve sighs into the kiss, and as he reaches up, Danny makes his move. Steve blinks down at the cuff on his left wrist. "You did not."
"I did!" Danny crows, feeling victorious even though he's only halfway through his plan. "Furthermore, I'm thinking we try that thing I was talking about a couple months ago, you know--"
"The one where you you want me tied down and begging for it?" Steve says; he probably means to sound exasperated or something, but his eyes are blown black and he's breathing faster. "And by the way, we never had that talk about how you were using police investigations to sexually harass me."
"You can't harass the willing," Danny dismisses. He takes the other end of the cuff and pulls it slowly toward the bedpost, watching Steve watch him. The snap sounds very loud.
"Still got the other hand free," Steve says, not trying to hide how turned on he is anymore as his gaze flicks down to Danny's tie.
"See, we're learning all sorts of things about each other tonight," Danny says, and tugs at the knot, getting it just loose enough to slip over his head. "Our favorite weaponry, our dirty little kinks. Maybe later we'll talk about our favorite food, what kind of music we like--"
"You've got an unhealthy obsession with coco puffs," Steve interrupts, threading his left hand through the loop and swallowing loudly when Danny tightens it around his wrist. "You like Bon Jovi's early stuff, Springsteen's later stuff, and any time Nina Simone ever opened her mouth."
Danny tries to focus on tying the ends of his tie to the other bedpost, but he has to kiss Steve for that, get his hands on Steve's hip and shoulder and press him down into the bed. It shouldn't be such a turn-on -- he's had people on his tail before who knew more about his life than he did. Mostly it was creepy, not to mention a little discouraging. He does his job and he's good at it, but he knows how ugly he is under the microscope.
But Steve has a file somewhere, thick with scribbled notes and observations witness statements. He knows the things Danny's done and he's still here, licking into Danny's mouth, groaning like just this is good enough for him, and Jesus, it's good enough for Danny, too.
"I think I like this idea of yours," Steve admits after a few minutes, hips twisting restlessly.
"I've got a lot of ideas," he murmurs into Steve's mouth, and he's rewarded with another groan when he moves his hand to palm Steve's dick. "You want them in any particular order?"
"Yes -- no -- I don't care," Steve gasps, the muscles in his arms shifting as he pulls against the restraints. "Anything."
"First thing I ever wanted to do," Danny says, "Is bite right here." He presses his teeth against Steve's jugular. "You had that boring black tie and that beautiful suit," he says against Steve's neck, "You looked like some kind of all-American James Bond and I just wanted you."
"You -- the first time we met?" Steve says, blinking up at Danny like he can't process the words. "You wanted--"
"Believe me," Danny says, "If I could've wanted you before that, I'd give it the old college try."
"You never went to college," Steve points out.
"I'm trying to seduce you here, and you're giving me smart-ass," Danny complains, but he can help rocking against Steve's thigh, too many clothes between them but already better than his best idea.
Steve grins, wide and heartbreaking. "I'm tied to your bed," he points out. "You probably don't need to worry too much about seducing me."
"Don't tell me you couldn't get out of that in five point three seconds," Danny shoots back. He kneels up to undo his shirt and clocks the way Steve watches, like he's hungry for it, hands absently wrapped up against the silk and metal.
"Danno," Steve murmurs, like some kind of prayer, and Danny lets the shirt drop off the side of the bed to bend down and kiss him again. He can't get enough of that mouth, the way it's sweet and vicious all at the same time; Steve bites down hard on his lower lip and licks it away the next second, nosing against Danny's cheek until he gets Danny's neck within range and sucking a bruise under his jaw.
It's too much, not enough and he's still wearing his shoes but he doesn't give a shit. He yanks off Steve's pants and boxers and scrabbles at his own belt, getting as naked as he has time for. Steve jerks when Danny wraps his hand around his cock, his hips snapping up to push into Danny's palm.
"Please, God, Danny, please, please," and he's loud, loud enough that there might be a really embarrassing bust-in any minute, but Danny can't think about that, not with Steve coming apart like this. He twists his wrist, fingers slipping on the shaft and thumb pressing just under the head, probably too much but he can't stop listening to these sounds Steve's making.
"That's it, baby," he murmurs, right against the shell of Steve's ear, and Steve's breath hitches, "Just break for me."
Steve shudders, arches and comes all over his stomach. He's sweat-slick and breathless, chest heaving as he climbs back down, and he's beautiful, perfect. "Christ," he shivers.
"I need," Danny says, and doesn't remember the rest of the sentence. He can't think over the roar of blood in his ears.
"Yeah," Steve says, "Yeah, do it," and it's some miracle Danny can work the coordination to fumble at the bedside stand for lube, although he spills it all over the sheets and Steve's knee when he finally gets the cap off and Steve laughs, and this isn't how Danny thought this would go. Steve spreads his legs and pushes into Danny's touch, opening for him and so hot inside, it's more than Danny should have ever tried to resist.
"You ready?" he says, because he doesn't want to rush this but he can barely put words together at this point. Steve nods and Danny lines them up, pushes as slowly as he can stand.
Steve tenses, every muscle tight, but Danny hangs on by his fingers and waits until finally, finally, Steve relaxes, cants his hips just that much and Danny pushes in until he bottoms out, resting his forehead against Steve's shoulder and mouthing mindlessly at the scar he finds there. Steve hooks a leg over Danny's hip and presses kisses into Danny's temple, "Come on, come on," even while Danny pulls out and thrusts in again, harder, and harder, curling his arms under Steve's shoulders to get leverage and sinking deep inside. He feels Steve's mouth against his ear and a sharp bite on his earlobe and then he's coming, mind white and empty.
He more or less collapses on top of Steve and focuses on getting air in his lungs for the next few minutes. Steve's quiet against him, like he's fallen asleep, but after a minute Danny feels a hand stroking down his back and he manages to heave his head up.
"See, what did I tell you," he says, glancing over at where the tie's hanging in a sad tangle from the bedpost. Steve shrugs, but his hand presses flat against Danny's lower back. "At least you had the decency to stay cuffed," Danny decides.
"Yeah, about that," Steve says. "You mind, uh," and he jangles the cuffs a little.
Danny tries not to pout. "What, you don't trust me?"
Steve lifts an eyebrow at him. "I don't know what trust has to do with the fact that I've got to take a leak," he says mildly.
"The romance is dead," Danny grumbles, but he manages to drag himself off Steve and hunt around the nightstand for the cuff keys. Steve makes a fist a couple times after he's released, then hops off the bed and wanders into the bathroom, pausing to grab his pants and boxers.
Danny lies back against the sheets and listens (against his will, but apparently Steve was raised in a barn and doesn't believe in shutting the door) to the sound of water hitting the toilet and then the sound of the sink. Steve's going to come out and get dressed, give Danny that hard look he has and walk out the door. Danny figures lying here is the best way to keep from hiding Steve's gun and badge and boots. Maybe his shirt, too.
The light from the bathroom flicks off and Steve comes back out, still naked. Danny barely has time to scoot over before Steve lands on what apparently is his side of the bed and wordlessly reaches over and reattaches the cuff to his wrist, yanking it a few times and putting a pillow under his forearm.
Danny gapes at him. "What are you," he manages, but he decides that getting an answer to that question isn't nearly as important as grabbing Steve by the face and kissing him.
"Hey, watch it, I'm not Mr. Fantastic," Steve complains, and sure enough Danny's got him with his arm awkwardly twisted behind him now.
"Oh, I beg to differ," Danny murmurs, and rolls him onto his back.
Steve wakes up slow and kind of resentful about it; there's light in his eyes, and his left hand's completely numb, still half-dangling from the cuff. He flexes his arm to get the circulation back and tries to figure out what time it is. No later than seven, judging by the angle of the sun.
"You're up," Danny rumbles from his other side; Steve twists around and bites down hard on his cheeks, but Danny glares at him anyway. "Yeah, my hair's hilarious, shut up."
"It's just -- very excited to see me," Steve temporizes. "Or something."
"It's not the only one," Danny leers, but the hand he slides across Steve's cheek is gentle, thumb brushing softly against his jaw. "You stayed."
Steve ducks his head, presses an absentminded kiss against the soft skin of Danny's wrist. "I'm cuffed to the bed," he points out.
"Like I said last night, I'm not seeing how that'd ever stop you," Danny says. "What method did you decide on, hmm? In case you did have to get free."
Steve grins, because Danny gets him, isn't afraid of or weirded out by Steve doing escape calculations in his head. "I was thinking I'd probably break the bedpost here," he says, pointing to the narrowest part. "But it'd be pretty significant property damage. Plus it'd be loud."
"You didn't want to wake me up, such a gentleman," Danny says. He turns over and grabs the key from the nightstand, reaches over Steve and unlocks him. For a minute Steve just massages his wrist, watching Danny stare at the raw red skin. But then Danny seems to shake himself out of it and looks back up at Steve. "So," he says, "I guess you've got to go."
Steve nods. "Yeah, I do."
Danny sits up, swinging his legs over and making a half-assed attempt to smooth down his hair. "Yeah, early day."
Steve climbs out the other side and finds his shirt crumpled by the door; he grabs it and gets dressed in the bathroom, splashing cold water on his face.
When he comes back out, Danny's still sitting on the bed; he gives Steve a once-over and smiles, some private joke in his own head. "So I'm guessing I won't be seeing you any time soon," he says.
Steve wants to say yes, wants to say that he'll come by tonight, tomorrow, for as long as Danny wants him around. It's the truth -- but it's not the right answer. "Probably not," he says, bending down to retrieve his boots and socks. "Unless you want to confess to grand theft robbery and give me the name of the guy you were trying to frame." He picks up his keys, his wallet, his cuffs; clips his badge and gun to his belt. He can't tell which knife is his, so he grabs one and stuffs it in his pocket. "In exchange for which, maybe I can get your sentence reduced."
Danny grins like he can't help himself. "And you're going to, what, arrange for a prison that allows conjugal visits? Huh? Don't get me wrong, I look great in orange. It's just that even with reduced sentencing, I'd miss out on things like Grace's high school graduation. And wedding. And probably her retirement party."
Steve can't help it; he's standing too close to Danny but he needs to be closer. He puts one hand flat on Danny's chest and pushes him down, crawling after him and hovering over him, resting on his hands and knees. He can feel the sleep-warm body under him. "I want to," he says, and he's screwing this up but Danny's brushing the back of his knuckles against his cheek so maybe he understands. "I want to, but I can't, okay? Not until I can -- if there's a way, I'll find it, you got me?"
"Yeah," Danny says, but he sounds sad, and his smile doesn't come close to his eyes. "Yeah, Steve, I got you." He leans up and kisses him, then again, like he's storing them up.
Steve slips out of the bedroom and gets as far as the bottom of the stairs when he hears, "Ah, Commander McGarrett. What a lovely surprise." He turns and sees Rachel Edwards coming in from the outside deck. She fucks with his instincts; part of him likes her, likes anyone who could be responsible for Grace, but the other part is wary of getting within range.
"Mrs. Edwards," he says. "I'm sorry, I'm late for work."
"Yes, I'm sure you are," she says. "I didn't hear you come in; you must have arrived very early indeed." She glances up the stairs. "Perhaps for a business breakfast?"
Steve takes a breath. "Is there something I can help you with?"
"I wondered if there was any progress on the theft from the police department's evidence room," she says. "I read in the papers, terrible business. Such an embarrassment for the HPD." She enunciates every letter slowly.
"I can't comment on ongoing investigations," he says. "But you know that already."
"I do," she admits. "Having been married to the target of criminal investigations for ten years, one might say I'm an expert. But I did wonder if you've come to any conclusions. Off the record, naturally."
"Off the record?" Steve doesn't trust this woman any further than he could throw her, but there's something about her that's a lot of fun. "Off the record, I'd like to congratulate you and Danny on a job well done."
"That means a great deal," and give her credit, she actually sounds pleased. "Danny cares very much about your welfare. I hope you understand the significance of what he's done for you."
"I'm not sure I understand what he's done for me yet."
"That sounds so ominous, Steve -- I do hope I can call you Steve?" she adds. "After all, you're very close to both my daughter and my ex-husband. Practically one of the family already."
Steve says, "I wouldn't go that far, Mrs. Edwards."
"I should really go."
"I thought I might offer you some quick advice."
"On Danny, of course," she says mildly. "I thought you'd appreciate an expert opinion."
"I don't know what you're talking about," he says. "Excuse me."
"How will this end?" she asks as he brushes past her.
He stops and turns; she's watching him closely. There's a rumor that she once had a contract out on Danny, along with rumors that she was still fucking him after their divorce. There's the rumor that she's the only woman all five dons will listen to, the rumor that she's nobility, and the rumor that she once personally slit the throat of a dealer she found selling drugs in her daughter's school. Looking at her, Steve can believe all of them.
"I don't know," he says honestly.
She nods, like he's given her some kind of an answer. "My choice wasn't as difficult as you might think," she says. "I attended the London School of Economics, and I can assure you that this enterprise doesn't have a patch on the practices of the financial world. But it was a choice, one that we all make. And not everyone can live with the wrong one."
"I'm a cop," Steve says. He wants to hold out his badge in front of him, like some kind of cross.
"Are you really," she replies. "It was a pleasure seeing you again, Commander."
Danny's all in favor of spending the next couple of days sulking; Rachel just caught two of their craps dealers skimming, the Triads have picked now to get an attitude, and Noshimuri's been making sounds about pulling out of the deal, citing his "current difficulties," which is so much code for, "if I find out you had something to do with this, I will feed you to some of my pet sharks."
Plus, he hasn't heard from Steve in the past day and a half, and he's starting to get discouraged. Whatever he might've heard Steve say, he'd also clocked the look Steve had given him when he walked out the door. But it's been long enough to make Danny doubt the power of his good looks and personality; Steve's not coming back.
So by and large he's having a trying time and punching the world in its face seems like a nice idea. Unfortunately, in his little triumvirate he's apparently been appointed the sane one this week. "Look, I don't know, tell the Samoans to set fire to some of those store trains the Triads are using," he says, thumping his hand against his desk, "But they can't go whacking the Triad boss just because they think maybe he's trying to take over the prostitution ring."
"We're not hall monitors, Danny, it's their decision if they want to kill him," Rachel points out, and she's right, while at the same time being completely wrong.
"Okay, do you want to try to conduct business in the middle of a turf war?" he demands. "Because I don't. Stan doesn't -- do you, Stan?"
Stan looks up from his papers and frowns. "I -- no?"
"See, Stan doesn't. Maybe we take you down to the local shooting range, you get some of this aggression out the old-fashioned way, because this, encouraging the Triads and the Samoans to start going at it again? That's what I call a dumb-fuck plan."
"It's what I call having a set," Rachel shoots back. "Just because you're shtupping a policeman--"
"Okay one, and I can't believe I have to make this rule, but seriously, nobody who didn't have a bar mitzvah gets to use that term, two, this has nothing to do with my love life!"
"You're acting as though you care if they get along! We don't care. In fact, the bigger the war, the weaker they'll be when they're done, and the better chance we have."
"Better chance we have at what?" Danny points out. "We've got all the business you and me and Mr. Abacus here can shake a stick at; we try to extend ourselves much more and I'm going to need to start up that coke habit again just to have enough hours in the day, and believe me, babe, that wasn't a great time in my life."
"I can well imagine," Rachel says. "And I'm not saying it would be solely for us. It's high time we brought in more people and perhaps scaled back our involvement."
Danny blinks. "Wait, the Great Rachel Edwards is saying she wants to, what, go on holiday or something?"
She glares at him. "I'm saying that one reason we came here was to gain a more legitimate authority and reputation, not simply establish a foothold for the family. So far we've given them everything they asked for and we've made little to no progress on gaining any business that will reflect well on us. And I think--"
Just then the intercom from the security room buzzes. "Danno," Paulie says; his voice is louder than normal, fast and clipped, "Danno, I just got an alarm from Vince's car's GPS, it's been in an accident."
Rachel frowns, then puts her hand to her mouth, eyes wide. "Oh, God, he went to pick up Gracie, is she -- it's past three o'clock."
"Call Vince," Stan says, scrambling to his feet and leaning over the intercom "Call him right now--"
"What do you think I've been doing?" Paulie snaps, and Paulie's never interrupted anyone or ever raised his voice, not in the ten years he's been on the payroll. "I've been calling, I got nothing." There's a high-pitched shrilling sound and Paulie mutters, "Oh, Christ -- Danno, Grace just hit her panic button."
For a second Danny and Rachel just stare at each other, because there's nothing -- they've got plans and contingencies and every six months Rachel makes Grace do a drill, but he can't remember any of it now and something's happening to his baby girl right now.
"Call him," Rachel tells Danny, and Danny doesn't have to ask who she means. He almost drops the phone, dialing the number so fast he jams his finger.
"What the hell do you want," it's not Steve, it's Chin, and under normal circumstances Danny would ask about the hostility, not to mention answering Steve's phone.
"Somebody just snatched my daughter, where the hell is Steve, I've got to talk to him right now," he says. He swallows against the bile in his throat waits through the weird silence on the other end. "Hello? Steve McGarrett, I've got to talk to him, put him on the phone."
Another pause, and then Chin says, "Steve's dead, Danny."
It's damp, dark and uncomfortable when Steve finally manages to get his eyes open. He's on the floor in some kind of cell: a door on one side and a too-high, too-small window on the other, and absolutely nothing else. He can hear the ocean but he can't hear any people, no music, no traffic; wherever he is, it's not near civilization.
He spends a few minutes on the perimeter anyway, jumping to see if he can reach the window ledge, running his fingers along the cracks in the wall. Finally he comes to the door; there's a six-by-six barred window at shoulder-height that looks out into a dim hallway. He can see another door like his directly across, and two on either side, about ten feet apart. The hallway floor is concrete, same as his cell, and the only light is from two sources on either end of the hallway, not directly visible but probably bare bulbs.
"Is anybody there?" Steve calls, tamping down on the way his heart beats faster at the noise. He's been taken hostage twice before, and both times he got smacked around for talking. But there's no slamming of doors or quick footsteps, and Steve's about to call again when he hears the worst thing he can imagine.
"Gracie?" He can't see her, and the echoing makes it hard to tell where the voice is coming from. "Gracie honey, where are you?"
From the window of the door opposite, a tiny hand waves. "Hi," she says. "Can you let me out please?"
Steve shuts his eyes. "I'm sorry, I can't. I'm locked in, too."
There's quiet for a second, then Grace says, "That wasn't a good idea, Coach," in the exact same tone he uses on her whenever he's trying to show her how not to make someone cry on the field.
"Look, I don't want you to worry, okay?" He tries to sound calmer and more confident than he feels. "My team is looking for us, and I bet your mom and dad are helping them, They're going to find us really soon."
"I know," she says. "Mom and Dad are going to kill everybody."
What's worse is it's probably true. "Are you okay?" he asks. "Are you hurt or anything?"
"No," she says, sounding distracted. There's a grating sound coming from her cell and before he can ask what's going on, Grace's face pops into view. "You've got mud on your nose," she observes.
Steve swipes at his face. "What're you standing on?"
"The bed," she says. "I dragged it over."
So she has a bed, and from what little he can see she doesn't look like anyone's laid a hand on her. "Do you remember how you got here?"
"Vince picked me up from school, but then a car hit us and Vince got out, and then somebody said I had to get out of the car and then I hit the panic button and then they put a thingy on my head and it was a really long time and then I got here." She rests her chin on the window. "It's boring. There's a rocking horse in here, that's for babies."
"We could play a game," Steve offers, although now that he thinks about it the only thing that comes to mind is Go Fish, and he's pretty sure you need cards for that.
Grace heaves a dramatic sigh. "Can't we just escape?" she asks hopefully.
Steve grins -- she looks so much like her dad, and that's a gut-punch he doesn't need but he says, "Good idea, kid. Can you tell me what's in your room? Maybe we can make something--"
The air in the hallway shifts a second after Steve hears the creak of a door, off to his right. "Quick," he whispers to Grace, "Get your bed back to where it was, and curl up on it, try to pretend you're scared," and in that second he loves her more than he can believe for the way she rolls her eyes, "And don't say anything, okay? Just, everything's going to be fine."
"It's probably my dad," Grace says, but she hops down anyway and she even manages to drag the bed back quietly.
All the while there's the sound of people coming closer. Three men, their voices low but whatever they're speaking, it's not English; two of them have boots on, the third expensive loafers, and there's the faint whiff of cologne.
They come to a stop right between the doors, and unlock Grace's. "Hey -- hey," Steve yells. "You want to talk to someone, you talk to me, all right?"
The two pairs of boots ignore him, but the pair of loafers -- Asian, middle-aged but in good shape, fighting shape -- turns to regard him thoughtfully. One pair of boots steps just inside Grace's cell and looks around, then spots her and--
"Put that gun away or I swear to God I'll kill you," Steve promises.
The pair of loafers actually smiles at this. He says something and for a split second Steve can't understand him, then realizes he's speaking Mandarin. "--not intend any harm, Commander," he's saying. "But I am aware of your reputation to act rashly. Think of this as insurance of your good behavior."
The other pair of boots then opens Steve's door, letting it swing out. Steve wants to rush the boots, maybe kick the loafers in the throat, but he stands perfectly still.
"Very good, Commander, you are quick to understand your position," the pair of loafers says.
"I cannot repeat the observation," Steve says, tripping over the words; he hasn't spoken Mandarin in a while, and it's hard to remember the tonalities, the right emphasis. "I am the head of the special team of the Governor. That little girl is the daughter of a very powerful pair of people. They are looking for us and when they find us, you will be in a lot of trouble. If you have very good luck."
"Oh, but you are wrong, Commander," the pair of loafers replies. "They are looking for her, yes, and we will return her in due time. She is, as you say, the daughter of people I do not wish to annoy overmuch. But no one is looking for you. According to the police report, you died in a car accident this morning. Your body was swept out to sea."
Steve can't remember the word for "truck," so he says, "You destroyed my vehicle?"
"My apologies," the pair of loafers says. "My employer required that the illusion be as convincing as possible."
If this guy ever had an employer, he gutted him at the first opportunity. Steve's talking to the guy running things. But he doesn't know what he's running, and that more than anything keeps him focused. Someone capable of orchestrating all of this -- kidnapping Grace, faking his death -- ought to have showed up on Five-0's radar by now. But Steve has no idea who this guy is.
"What do you want from me?"
The pair of loafers looks surprised. "I don't want anything from you. There is no doubt you have useful information, but your training will render anything you give up, even under duress, unreliable. No, you are nothing more than a message I wish to send."
Which means Steve's probably about to die. "Just like my sister."
"Yes, very good," the pair of loafers says. "At the time I confess I overestimated your importance. You seemed... too close for my employer's comfort. And the Governor promised you--" a word Steve can't understand-- "and means, which seemed significant. But now it is clear that you are nothing but a thug with a badge, easily dealt with. I was able to convince my employer that your death would cause minimal difficulty, and would in fact be very beneficial to us."
"How would it be beneficial?" Steve asks.
"So demanding, even in the face of death. It must be a McGarrett trait."
"If you plan on killing me, why haven't you done it already?" It's probably the stupidest question he's ever asked, but there's something else, something that loafers is working his way up to.
Loafers takes a casual step closer, within striking range. "Because I wanted to confess my misdeeds to you. After all, I have caused your family so much pain. It has weighed heavily on me."
He's lying, Steve knows, but not about what he's done. This man has never thought twice about his misdeeds.
"I understand that you have inherited your father's monomania about your mother's accident," the pair of loafers continues.
"It was not an accident," Steve says.
"I know," loafers replies.
"Because it was I who ordered your father killed, twenty years ago."
Steve focuses on translating the words instead of listening to them; he knows that if he lets himself hear this, he'll kill this guy, even though he has no idea if he's telling the truth -- even though he doesn't even know his name. And then Grace will die.
"In fact," the pair of loafers says, "For many years it was a great shame for me, that the bomb killed your mother instead. It was my first task in my new position, and I was considered a failure. Of course, I quickly realized that your mother's death effectively destroyed him, and no further action needed to be taken. But it was a pleasure to have Hesse shoot him in the head, I can assure you."
Steve doesn't say anything, but the pair of loafers smiles broadly.
"And now you can die with my mind at ease," he says. "A very important thing, I think." He turns to the pair of boots and mutters something, too low and fast for Steve to catch. Whatever answer he gets seems to irritate him. "But unfortunately I will not be here to see it," he says. "Another two hours of life, Commander. I hope your conscience is as clear as mine."
"Two hours is a long time," Steve says. "A lot can happen."
"No," he says, checking his watch. "It is barely any time at all. You will be shot in the head, in front of that child, so that she can go back to her mother and father and tell them what happened to you. And they will know that to play games with me is a very dangerous thing indeed." He nods to the two pairs of boots, and they step out of the cells. "Take this time to comfort the child," he advises. "She will be very traumatized, very soon."
Steve listens to the sound of them walk away, the distant sound of the door shutting.
"They were mean," Grace says. She sounds more subdued, and Steve promises himself that he's going to find the man who pointed his gun in her face.
"Yeah, they were."
"Now can we go?"
"Sure thing, kiddo."
"So remember that time we were talking," Danny comments idly, "When you were talking about us getting to be more legitimate, maybe a little more law-abiding?"
"I swear to God, Daniel," Rachel mutters. She checks the chamber of her gun. "What do you think, elbow or knee?"
They're standing in the middle of the bosozoku hangout on Pohukaina street; Rachel had gained access by sheer dint of shooting the doorman in the foot and then in the shoulder. Four morons had immediately overreacted, grabbing at various weapons and aiming them at her, which required a lot of shooting. Danny's not a big fan of guns, but they have their uses.
Now the one surviving gang member is up against the wall, hands up, as though that's going to save him. "Elbow, definitely," Danny says.
"I'm not telling you nothing," the guy says; he tries to spit, but it just dribbles down his chin. "You shoot me all you want."
Rachel aims for his crotch, but Danny reaches out and gently points the muzzle to the floor. "Now, see, ordinarily," he says, "I'd say, all right, if that's the way you want to play it. Only I've got a daughter out there somewhere, and your boss took her, and I'm not sure if you're a dad but let me tell you, someone's got your daughter? You go just a little crazy. So I'll make you a deal. You tell us what we want to know, and my ex-wife here will shoot you nice and neat in the limb of your choice. If not, we've got something a lot worse planned."
"Yeah, what?" But he sounds just scared enough, and Danny doesn't bother hiding his smile.
"We don't shoot you. We don't touch a hair on your head, and when we do find our daughter -- and trust me, we will find her -- we'll tell everyone about this fine young gentleman who was so helpful." He cocks his head. "How long do you think he'll last, babe?" he asks Rachel.
"I hardly think he needs to worry as much about his own life as the life of his entire family," Rachel replies thoughtfully. "The yakuza have a rather unsavory reputation in that arena."
Ten minutes later Danny calls Steve's phone. "What did you do?" Chin asks.
"Your suspicious personality, Chin, I don't know where it comes from." Danny shoves the last body down the basement steps. "Rachel and I are on our way over to the abandoned prison over by Makapuu Beach. We've got information says our daughter and 'a tall cop' are being held there, if you'd like to come along."
"A tall cop -- you're saying they're holding Steve there? Steve's alive?" Chin sounds surprised, which in turn surprises Danny. It's hard to believe a car could really kill Steve.
"Unless you're missing some other six-foot police officer, which, hey, HPD can't keep of track of everything."
"We're going to have to arrest you after all this is over," Chin sighs. "Fine, we'll meet you in fifteen minutes."
Rachel drives like she shoots, mean and reckless, and they get there in about ten; still, Kono's already there, dragging a bulletproof vest out of the trunk of her car.
"Took you long enough," she says mildly, handing another vest to Rachel. "Meka and Chin are circling around back. So far I make two guards patrolling the area, look like low-level enforcers."
"Hopefully they've got bad aim, too," Rachel says, and tosses the vest to Danny. Kono blinks at her.
"I'm all out of vests," she says.
"Don't worry, I repel bullets," Rachel tells her breezily. "Although I'd be very grateful if you had a few spare magazines for a forty-four. I seem to be low."
"Chin was right, we're going to have to arrest you a lot," Kono says, but she rummages in the trunk and pulls out two mags. She turns to Danny, eyebrows raised.
"I'm good," he says.
"Debatable," Kono says. "Come on, this way."
"Are you sure this is going to work?" Grace says. She sticks the bedsheet through the bars.
"Right, just like that," Steve says, then adds, "If it doesn't work, we can think of something else."
He's already got about four different plans lined up, but this one has at least a fifty-fifty chance of working, depending on how rusted the hinges are. Based on what he'd seen, they were pretty close to giving entirely. He's managed to break off the top hinge already with the leg of the rocking horse that Grace had obligingly broken for him.
"I bet Mom and Daddy come to rescue us before we even get out," she says, and Steve is almost jealous of that complete faith. Her parents are coming and nothing will stop them; it's as much a fact as gravity.
"I bet you they won't," Steve counters, although part of him hopes she's right. "Besides, won't your mom and dad be proud of you if you get out before they find us? They'll think that's really cool."
He can tell Grace's mulling this. "You think they'll let me have a pony?" she asks.
"Tell you what, I'll buy you a pony myself, okay?" he says. "Now, did you tie the ends of the sheet into a knot?"
"Yes," she says, sticking her arm out with a big sloppy knot in her hand.
"That's great, now toss it to me."
Just like with the rocking horse leg, Grace gets it into his hand the first try, and he absently wonders if he's been wasting her on defense. He re-ties the sheet around the bars on his window and uses the leg to start twisting, increasing the stress on the doors. When he can't get it any tighter, he backs up to the end of the cell, hopes he doesn't get a concussion, and runs.
He slams into the door and it gives slightly, the middle hinge crumbling although the lock is still firmly in place -- typical. Steve tries again; this time the door gives way with a shriek of twisted metal and he's crouched in the hallway, looking and listening for any indication they've been heard.
Nothing; he turns his attention to Grace's door, which is still relatively intact. "Gracie honey?" he says, "Do you think you can twist a spring out of the mattress?"
He hears a tearing sound, and peers in through the little window; Grace's using the jagged edge of the rocking horse's broken head to saw into the mattress. "That's... uh, good job," he says.
"Thanks, Coach," she chirps, and twists out a spring.
Two minutes later he's got the door open and is hauling her out over the mess of sheets and rusted metal. "Okay, so, our bad guys went that way," he says, "So we're going to head this way, okay?" He points to his left, toward another door.
Grace just blinks at him. "Aren't you supposed to be brave and stuff? Daddy said you were in the Army."
"Navy," Steve corrects automatically, then he hears the rest of what she said. "It's not about being brave, Gracie. I need to get you to safety."
"I'm not a baby," she huffs.
"I know, but your dad will be really mad at me if anything happens to you because we went the same way that the bad guys did," Steve tries to explain.
"But Mom and Dad will be where the bad guys are anyway," Grace points out, which is sound logic, really. Before Steve can think up an argument, she ducks under the broken cell door and heads down the hall.
"Gracie -- Gracie," Steve hisses, and runs to catch up. Only he forgot about that super-sonic thing she can do; she breaks out into a run and gets to the door well before him.
"Come on, Coach," she says, and yanks it open, and there's the sound of a gunshot--
"Hey, Monkey," and it's Danny's voice, breathless, and the door opens wide enough to see him bending down to scoop Grace up in one arm. "Boy, am I glad to see you. No, sweetie, you look right at me, okay?"
Steve's finally at the door, and he sees what Danny means; there's a guard, still gurgling through the hole in his neck, and Danny's free hand is holding a nine millimeter.
"Where's Mom?" Grace asks, her face buried in his shoulder.
"She's just upstairs, she can't wait..." and Danny catches sight of Steve. He stares for long seconds, then says, "Get over here, I don't have a free hand, you get over here right now."
Steve grins and puts his hand on Danny's neck, his thumb scraping against the stubble along his jaw. He doesn't kiss him, but Danny grins anyway, rubs his cheek against Steve's palm.
"How's your day been?" Danny asks. He hands Steve his gun and puts Grace down, ripping the velcro tabs off his tac vest. "Here you go, Monkey," he says to Grace, putting it over her head. "It's the newest fashion, bulletproof sundress."
"I'm not a baby," Grace repeats, splitting her glare between Steve and Danny. Steve shrugs and hands Danny back his gun.
"I think it looks great," he tells her. She plucks at it speculatively. Danny chuckles as he pulls another gun out of his waistband.
"I don't have any mags for this, so use those six wisely, got it?" he orders, slapping it into Steve's hand.
"How many do you think are still here?" he says. "Grace and me were making a lot of noise and nobody heard a thing."
Danny grins. "They've been busy. Also, your team keeps telling us how arrested we are, which I think is just plain ungrateful."
"My team's here?"
"And how," Danny confirms. "Let's go, this place is all seaweed-y." He turns to Grace. "Want a piggy-back ride?"
She's still glaring at him. "I told you--"
"Hey hey, grown-ups do it all the time," Danny says.
She doesn't look like she's buying it. "You give Steve piggy-back rides?" she asks.
"I would love nothing more than to give Steve a piggy-back ride, believe you me," Danny says. "Now up and at 'em, and remember to hide your face the whole time, okay? Just hold on to me."
They pass another three bodies before they meet up with Steve's team on the ground floor. They don't look remotely surprised to see Steve. "Hey, you're alive, great," Meka says. He says to Kono, "I guess I owe you that five bucks."
"Everything secure?" Steve asks. He'll choose to ignore the indignity of a) having one of his own teammates bet that he's dead and b) having the other teammate lowball the bet.
Chin nods. "We found two guards on the outside, put them down after they opened fire."
Danny looks around. "Where's Rachel?"
"I'm here, you bloody great idiot--" Rachel comes running in from another connecting hallway. "Grace, are you all right, sweetheart--"
Grace peels herself off her father's back and grabs onto both Rachel and Danny, and for a moment the three of them are huddled together, quiet voices that Steve can't make out. He takes a couple steps back, toward his team.
"There's four dead bodies in the lower two levels," he says to Chin. "They look like Yakuza, from the tattoos I could see. Low-level, probably bosozoku."
"That doesn't make any sense," Chin says. "We haven't had any dealings with them -- why would they want to kidnap you?"
"Because this wasn't about me," Steve admits.
Chin looks at him for a long moment. "Cost you a lot to say that, didn't it Boss?"
"Shut up, the point is, whatever's going on, Danny and Rachel are in it up to their necks, and if we want to get to the bottom of this we've got to find out who they pissed off."
"Whom," Rachel says suddenly, straightening up from where she was leaning over Grace. "It's whom, not who. And I quite agree, if you want to get to the bottom of this you will need our full cooperation."
"What do you mean, 'if'?" Meka demands.
Rachel regards him cooly. "I mean, Mr. Hanamoa, that my ex-husband has constructed an elaborate house of cards, and if it collapses, your team will lose just as much as we will."
Meka and Chin are still frowning, but Kono's a little faster on the uptake. "The eighteen million dollars that's missing," she says. "It was you guys."
"Just so," Rachel says.
Danny says, "Rachel, I don't think we should--"
"You heard them, Danny," Rachel snaps. "As though this was some kind of criminal investigation. As if you're all here representing the law right now." She takes a deep breath.
"Mrs. Edwards," Chin says quietly, "If you don't tell us who did this, it's only going to get worse."
"Worse than this?" Rachel actually laughs. She looks at Danny and they seem to come to some kind of agreement. "You will have our full cooperation, on one condition."
Steve realizes they're all waiting for him to agree. "What is it?"
"We will take you to the man responsible for your kidnapping and Grace's. But only you. Mr. Kelly and Mr. Hanamoa and Miss Kalakaua take Grace home and make sure she's stays safe with my husband until this matter is concluded."
Meka immediately says, "No way, Boss, that's a bad idea."
It is. Danny's watching him, blanked-faced like Steve's never seen before. This is the worst of worlds colliding; business and the law, family and crime and revenge, and Steve has no idea if he can keep anyone out of prison now.
"It's the only one we've got," he says.
"Good evening," the hostess beams, "Three for--"
"We're not here for the food," Danny assures her as Rachel marches past. He can see Noshimuri, sitting at a window table with a handful of movers and shakers -- none of them in his line, but all of them probably vaguely aware of Noshimuri's reputation. It probably adds a certain something to the interactions, and for a second Danny's surprised at the flood of disgust that prompts. He's used that thrill; he's twisted it to his advantage more than once.
Travelling with a cop has its advantages; Danny can hear him muttering something to the hostess about official police business, but most of his attention is on Rachel, who's arrived at the table.
Noshimuri raises his eyebrows. "Mrs. Edwards," he says smoothly. "Such a pleasant surprise."
"Oh, likewise," Rachel purrs. Danny can see Noshimuri's bodyguards, seated a couple tables away, rise to their feet. He pastes a smile on his face and curls an arm around Rachel's shoulder.
"We just wanted to drop by," he says, as jovial as he can. "We're planning on having a nice dinner, maybe just like this one. What do you think?"
But there's something wrong. Noshimuri's confused, not panicked; he seems more worried about his guests than the fact that two of his rivals are confronting him after their daughter's been kidnapped. "I think," he says slowly, and then Steve's coming up and he trails off.
"It's not him," Steve says shortly, squinting down at Noshimuri.
"It's not what?" Rachel demands.
"This isn't the guy I saw, it's not him." Steve looks a little apologetic about it.
"But he's, what's that thing cops say? A person of interest," Danny says. He smiles down and Noshimuri. "I think you should come with us."
The other dinner guests start murmuring at that, but Noshimuri leans back in his chair, relaxed and disdainful. "And why would I do that for a couple of thugs and a gumshoe?"
"Because no one here mentioned he was a cop, for one thing," Danny starts, but just then Steve catches sight of something and lunges toward one of the bodyguards, pinning him down to his tomato soup bowl and dragging out one of the zip ties Kono had given him. "And for another," Danny adds, "It seems like your boys aren't really in a position to stop us."
Sure enough, bodyguard number two makes the classic mistake of getting in range of Steve's hostility. They're both occupied for the moment and Danny figures this is the now-or-never moment.
Rachel, of course, beats him to it. "Mr. Noshimuri," she says, pulling the gun out of her purse, "If you would be so kind."
"I'm arresting you for the kidnapping of myself and Grace Williams," Steve says, or tries to; the guy he recognized as Boots Number Two keeps trying to throw him off. Boots Number One is out cold on the floor, safely ziptied for now.
It's around then that Steve realizes he's surrounded by a bunch of shrieking rich people with no Danny or Rachel in sight. He scrambles to his feet and scans the room, but there's nothing. And the guy they'd been talking to is gone, too.
Ignoring the demands of the maitre d' and a couple of uniforms for hire, Steve shoves his way out the door, dialing Chin. "Tell me the GPS is working," he says.
"In spades, boss," Chin replies. "Good work on planting that. They're heading west on +Beretania."
Steve looks around; the trouble is there are too many Bentleys to choose from. He spots the valet. "Hey," he calls, and she jogs over, weaving slightly. "I'm Five-0, I need you to tell me--" he stops short; the girl is either high or -- no, high, he can smell it from five feet away. "Did you see anything just now?" he asks, just in case.
"There was this dude, right," she says. "You want a car? I've got, like, tons of them."
Steve pinches the bridge of his nose. "Sure, give me the blue one over there."
"The blue one?" Chin asks as Steve settles into the car. He has to lever the seat back about a foot.
"I've never driven an Aston Martin," Steve says, and screeches out of the parking lot.
"They're about a quarter-mile ahead of you."
"Friday afternoon traffic, it's a bitch," Steve says, and drives onto the shoulder. "Is Gracie all right?"
"Yeah, we dropped her off about half an hour ago," Chin says.
"Wait, dropped her off?" Steve says. "Kono and Meka aren't with her?"
"Stan refused police protection," Chin says. "They're staking out the house, but there's not a lot we can do. It's been quiet, though. Nobody in or out."
"Fine," Steve says, then adds, "Good work."
He gains steadily, Chin telling him when to turn until he finally gets the taillights in front of him. They're driving erratically, weaving all over the road ("It's not like you can really complain about reckless driving," Chin points out) and turning at the last possible second. Steve manages to close the distance but the car swerves again, sparks flying up from the fender as it comes to a screeching halt in front of the Straub ER bay.
Steve gets out and braces his gun over the window. He can't let himself think about it, think about what happens when Danny gets out and won't put his gun down, so he keeps his mind blank and waits for the doors to open.
But it's just the driver's side door that opens, and instead of Rachel or Danny, the guy they'd been talking to falls out, crumpling onto the ground; even from here Steve can see the red gush of blood from his stomach. Steve holsters his gun and runs over. "What's your name?" he demands, pulling the guy's shirt open. It's a gut shot, slow and final, and Steve can't believe Rachel or Danny would do this.
"Hiro Noshimuri," the guy bites out. "And you are Steve McGarrett. I have heard about you."
"Wish I could say the same," Steve says distractedly. Nobody's come out -- they're in the middle of the ER bay and no one's even noticed them yet. "Who shot you?"
"He surprised us," Noshimuri says, "Coming out of the restaurant. He is good at surprising people."
"Who, who surprised you?" And finally, someone's seen them; Steve can hear shouting and the clatter of a gurney. He moves away as the doctors and nurses crowd around Noshimuri, but he stays in his eyeline. "Noshimuri, who did this?"
"He said he would kill them too," Noshimuri says, breathing hard. "They told me to drive to a hospital, gave me their keys, they would take care of him. I think he took them in my car," he adds slowly, like he's pissed about it. "But they said they would protect them from him. He thinks I talked, thinks that I said it all already. But I would do much worse than die before letting them come to harm."
"Sir, you need to step back," one of the doctors says, gaze flicking between Steve's bloody hands and the badge that Meka had loaned him clipped to his belt.
Steve ignores her. "Who -- names, I need names."
"My brother," Noshimuri says, "He is a good man, a police officer -- a wife and two daughters. My entire world. They do not deserve to die because of him."
"Because of who? Danny Williams?"
"Wo Fat," Noshimuri gasps out. "Wo Fat, he took your friends. You have to find him, hey? Before he kills them. Before he finds my family."
"He's going into shock," someone announces, "We've got to get him in, lift him on three, one, two--"
Steve gets to his feet and the world goes a little grey. He can't remember the last time he's slept without being knocked unconscious -- no, he can, because Danny had been warm against him and he'd thought there was a lot he'd give up to have this every morning.
He shakes the thought loose and collars one of the nurses. "I need you to contact me when you stabilize him," he tells him. "My name's Steve McGarrett, I'm with the Five-0 task force. This man's a witness and possibly an accomplice to two kidnappings, I need you to get a guard detail on the operating room." The guy looks a little wide-eyed, but nods. Steve gets back to the car and grabs the phone. "Chin, you still there?"
"Yeah, Boss," Chin replies wearily.
"I need you to find information for any cars registered to a Hiro Noshimuri."
"What are you looking for?" Chin asks.
"I'm coming in, I'll let you know as soon as I find out. Be there in ten."
Steve will admit it's mostly luck that he ended up with the team he has; still, it's hard not to feel smug when he rolls in ten minutes later and finds most of Hiro Noshimuri's life laid out in front of him. Lucky or not, he's got Chin and the rest of HPD can suck it. "Tell me the rest later," Steve says, looking around at the boards full of information. "Right now I need the cars. Where are they?"
"Three cars, two of which are in his garage, according to the GPS company," Chin says.
"And the third?"
"Someone disabled it about half an hour ago. Lucky for us, Noshimuri's paranoid and he pays extra for the company to keep logs of everywhere the car goes. Last location was here," he says, calling up a map. "I don't get it," he adds, "He's heading right back into town on a minor road, thinking what, he'll sneak in? It's not like Honolulu has a back door."
Steve frowns at the map, then feels the bottom drop out of his stomach. "He's not coming back into Honolulu, he's taking them to my place," he says. "This guy's going to kill them in my house."
Chin looks up. "Who's 'he'?"
"Noshimuri said a guy named Wo Fat shot him and took his car, took Danny and Rachel hostage," Steve explains. He ducks into his office, grabs his tac vest out of the locker along. "I'll bet you anything he's the one I met earlier. Find me anything you can on him; I think he's been working with Noshimuri, maybe he's part of the Yakuza, I don't know."
Chin frowns. "It's a Chinese name; you sure he could be part of the Yakuza?"
"Right now I'm not sure of anything," Steve says, and jogs out the door. "Keep Kono and Meka in the loop, okay? I'll call you with an update once I get there."
"Oh, it's ugly," Rachel says, sounding disappointed. "I knew your bit of rough was crass, but this is just terrible."
"No talking," Wo Fat says, tense. His goon slams the front door shut and ushers them further inside.
Danny ignores him; might as well die as he lived, bitching at Rachel. "It's mostly his dad's stuff, he's a sentimental guy, what do you want? You think a nice spread out of Ethan Allen would be better?"
"I think it would be best if you had found someone who doesn't think a sports trophy makes a cunning conversation piece," Rachel snaps back, gesturing at the football award planted on a side table.
"You may have a point there," Danny admits.
"I believe I told you to be quiet," Wo says. "Sit down."
"You're not nearly so cool and collected with your puppet missing," Danny says, but he sits, pulling Rachel down and trying to keep as much of himself between her and Wo. "The man behind the curtain wasn't nearly as intimidating as the Great and Mighty Oz, either. I'm trying to figure it out -- you and him, you pretend like he's calling the shots, you're just an adviser or whatever, nobody too important. So if anybody does go after the Yakuza, you've got a way to slip out with nobody noticing. Who's going to notice some bit player's missing? And Noshimuri goes down for the count."
"You're very bad at following instructions," Wo bites out.
"And you're very bad at this whole scheming thing," Danny says, making himself comfortable on the couch. He can feel the bump of Steve's spare gun under his right thigh. God bless the man and his old-fashioned ideas of where to store a piece. "You're going to what, kill us and frame McGarrett? You're getting desperate now. Just throwing evil plots at a wall, hoping some of them stick."
"Allow me to guess," Wo says, and that's bad, he's calmer and more confident now. His goon is circling around to the back of the couch. "You wish to propose some kind of arrangement to our mutual benefit."
"It crossed our minds," Rachel says. Danny makes a big show of turning to glare at her, letting his hand drop to the cushion.
"You want to make a deal with this guy?" he demands.
"I want to live through this afternoon," she says, and she can see what he's up to; that twinkle in her eyes is what made him fall in love with her, all those years ago. She crosses her arms and pouts, and the goon's busy watching them argue and probably doesn't expect the bullet in his chest.
Wo has his gun up and trained on Rachel -- pretty fast thinking -- as Danny gets to his feet with Steve's gun in his hand. Rachel, for her part, looks unconcerned. "I'm not sure what's more worrisome," she says to Danny, "The fact that Mr. McGarrett has a gun stashed in his couch, or the fact that you knew about it."
"You should be worried about the gun I have," Wo says, but it's not working and he knows it.
"And you," Rachel says, rising up like one of the Furies; there's no more cringing now, no more pretense of fear, "You should be worried about the child you tried to take from me today. You should be worried that death will be the least of the things we'll do to you."
Wo's a smart guy; Danny may have the gun but it's Rachel he watches, eyes just a little too wide. He puts his finger on the trigger. "You think you can get the better of me?"
"I know we will," Rachel promises, "And you'll pay for every second she was afraid and alone."
Just then Danny hears the quiet creak of weight on old wood, and he hears, "She wasn't alone," coming from the stairs. He and Wo both swing their guns around; Steve's coming smoothly down the steps, like he's been upstairs the whole time taking a nap. "I was right there with her, remember?" he adds.
"Do I even want to know what tree you climbed?" Danny asks. He turns his gun back on Wo, who's looking kind of unsure who he should cover.
Steve ignores him. "Wo Fat, you are under arrest for the kidnapping of a minor. Put your gun down and put your hands up." He glances at Danny. "You too, Danny. Drop it."
Steve can't possibly think it'll work, but it doesn't matter; in three steps Rachel's up in Wo's space, grabbing his hair and yanking like the public-school girl she secretly is. Whatever training the guy's had, it doesn't cover chickfights, and she gets his gun with a well-placed knee to the groin.
"Stand up straight," she says. He obeys, slowly, and Rachel looks up at Danny with her brow furrowed. "Danny, may I have your gun please? I've got an idea."
"What are you--" Steve comes clattering down the rest of the steps, still shifting his sights between Wo and Rachel and Danny. "You guys both need to put the guns down."
"Steven, please," Rachel says, and takes Danny's twenty-two, handing him the Smith & Wesson. "This charming naiveté is certainly attractive -- I'm beginning to see what Danny likes about you -- but it's hardly helpful at the present moment."
"You're just going to shoot him?"
"Of course," she says absently. She checks the chamber of the gun and turns to Wo Fat. "Any last words?" she asks.
"You do not have the courage," Wo says. Bad choice -- although not the first time someone's died thinking Rachel wouldn't kill them.
"Come on, Rachel," Steve pleads. "Just, put down the gun. Nobody else has to die today."
"Oh, Steve," Rachel says, sounding almost sad. "I truly am sorry." She backs up a few paces closer to Steve and takes aim, slow and careful. "You can close your eyes, if you'd rather," she tells Wo Fat.
"Rachel put it down," Steve says, and looks over at Danny. "Don't let her do this."
Danny wants to sympathize, but he's going to live with the memory of Grace running into his arms, her dress dirty and torn, mud and crumbling bricks pressing in from all sides. Everyone knows how this ends.
It's a small-caliber gun, so the noise is the most dramatic part; there's no spray of blood, no chunks of skull or brains splattering the walls. Wo just looks surprised as he slumps face-first onto the floor, a hole in the center of his forhead. "Drop the gun!" Steve yells. "Rachel, drop it right now, I'm not asking you again."
She heaves a sigh, and despite everything -- what just happened, and what Danny's going to have to do in a minute -- Danny has to bite down on a grin at the exasperated look she shoots in his direction. "Danny, would you please?"
Danny turns his gun on Steve, taking care to point it at some nonessential part. "You happy now?"
"I'll be happy when it's finished," she replies.
"Both of you," Steve says firmly, "Drop them. Now. You're under arrest for..."
Danny can see the minute where the wheels grind to a halt. "Yeah, this is where you say 'for the execution of the man who kidnapped your daughter,'" Danny says. He keeps his aim steady, or as steady as he can.
"It was necessary," Rachel adds. She puts the gun down on the floor and dusts off her hands. "Now, Steve, try to think this through. You can't arrest us."
Steve glances over at him and for the first time, Danny can't read his expression. "I can't let you go," he says, more to Danny than to Rachel. There's a wobble to it, but it's not lack of conviction, probably.
"I know," Danny says.
Rachel glares at the both of them. "Danny," she hisses.
"Go," he says, jerking his head toward the door.
"Rachel--" Steve's grinding his teeth again, and Danny wonders if he's ever thought about getting a mouth guard for when he sleeps. He's going to have some major problems if this is the start of a life-long habit. Danny wants to tell him that, wants to hustle him out the door and take him to the local drug store to buy one, and it's such a petty thing to want to do, small and meaningless, but the desire knocks him back on his ass.
"We'll be ready," Rachel says. She crosses to the door, carefully, and then she's out the door and safe. He can't say the same for any cops who might be lying in wait outside, but that's not his problem right now.
His problem right now is squinting at him, with his gun pointing at Danny's chest, which is kind of hurtful. "What are you doing, Danny?" he says, then scoffs. "Let me guess, wrong question."
"You're more than just a pretty face," Danny agrees. "I don't care what everybody else says."
"Danny, please," Steve says, not even smiling.
"Please what? Please put my weapon down? Please -- oh, I know, please come quietly. Please get locked away for the next fifty years. Please die in a prison cell. Well," he corrects himself, because tenet nosce and all that jazz, "Please die during one of your many escape attempts."
"You're telling me to just, what, let you go?" Steve probably wants to sound ironic, disbelieving; instead he sounds as close as he can to begging. "Maybe you want me to run away with you. You and Rachel and Stan and Gracie, wherever you're going. And yeah, I figured out what 'we'll be ready' meant."
"So much more than a pretty face," Danny assures him. "So what do you say?"
"You've broken the law, Danny. I can't -- I couldn't -- this is what I do."
"Then do something else," Danny snaps. "You're not a cop, Steve. You can play with your tac vests and your badge all you want, I'm not sold." He points his gun down, takes a step forward. "I know you want to be a good guy, Steve. You don't need a badge for that, you don't need this. Just trust me, this one time. We can do this."
He tries to imagine fleeing the country with Steve in tow, and it's ridiculous, stupid beyond belief -- except for the worse idea of fleeing without him, leaving Steve behind while Hawaii gets smaller and smaller in the distance. Danny can't wrap his head around losing this, so soon after he's gotten it. And "I can't let you go." Maybe Steve meant it, too, because for a second, just a second, there's that wobble again.
Then he hears sirens in the distance, pulling closer. Steve snaps out of whatever it is and says, "Just, put it down, Danny."
Danny shakes his head. "It would've worked out, is the crazy thing," he says, and fires.
Steve hates waking up in civilian hospitals. Military hospitals smell different, dirt and cordite in the air, sometimes blood, but Steve's never minded it. Here, though, he's surrounded by antiseptic and too-bright lights, tacky paper clothes that crinkle every time he moves. He's hooked up to the sound of beeping and hissing, and someone's snoring loudly. He manages to blink his vision back into working order and spots Kono and Mary, asleep in the same chair, Kono's mouth open and drooling gently onto Mary's shoulder.
"Hey," he says, or tries to, only it comes out more like a frog croaking. Kono wakes up, scrubbing her face for a second before turning to see Steve. She scrambles to her feet.
"Ugh, watch it," Mary mumbles, curling up tighter and falling asleep again. Kono reaches out to touch her shoulder.
"It's fine," Steve says. "She once slept through a fire alarm."
Kono leaves her alone. "How're you feeling, Boss?" she says softly.
"Like I've got a paper wedgie," he grins, and she snorts. "Is there any water?"
"Yeah, sure." She fumbles at a plastic pitcher on the nightstand, pouring out some water into a styrofoam cup. Steve takes a drink; it's lukewarm, and Kono probably went to the trouble to get him fresh cold water when she came in to sit.
"So how long was I out?" he asks.
She bites her lip, shoving her hands into her pockets. "Two days."
Two days is too long for a leg wound. "That doesn't make sense."
"The bullet hit a major artery," Kono shrugs, but she's anything but casual. "They said you would've bled out in a few minutes, but somebody put a tourniquet on. Still, it was a lot of blood. Good thing you're type AB."
"He put a tourniquet on?"
"After he shot you," Kono says, "So don't getting too sappy about the whole thing, okay?" She sighs. "Other than that, the Governor is congratulating us on finding and eliminating a major drug trafficker. We did some digging; Wo Fat is a big-name player in the drug and arms trade. Was," she corrects herself. "And since he shot you and you acted in self-defense, it turns out we didn't start an international incident. Score."
"But you just said, about the tourniquet," Steve says, confused.
Kono shrugs again. "Wo Fat's fingerprints were the only ones we found on the gun. According to forensics, you and Wo Fat were the only people in that house."
"Then how did you know?" He realizes that that sounds a little insulting, but he can't help it.
"Meka's actually the one who figured it out," Kono admits. "Something about the half-hitch that no self-respecting military man would ever use." She pauses for a second. "We, uh, didn't put that in our report."
"Oh," Steve says. "So... where are they?" He braces himself for it, for hearing that Danny's in custody or in the morgue, that Grace has been crying for two days straight, that Rachel took down a half-dozen cops that were stupid enough to try to arrest her before being shot.
Kono shakes her head. "Chin called us after you took off and we went to find Stan Edwards and Grace, but their house was empty. Plus, about fifteen minutes after you were shot, a chartered flight took off for Moscow. Physical descriptions match all four of them."
He must still have some kind of drugs in his system; he can't feel his leg, for one thing, and he can't make sense of what Kono's saying for another. "They're -- what?"
"Gone, Boss. They're gone."
Danny expects to like Paris. It's Paris, Paris in the springtime; there's a song about it and everything. Danny's as proud of the U.S. of A. as any red-blooded American, but France does most things better, from cobblestones to food to a language he suspects was invented specifically to hit on people.
It turns out Rachel and Stan have exponentially more money stashed than Danny does; in a dick move that surprises nobody, they outbid Danny on the place he's got his eye on and don't even try not to laugh when Danny has to settle for a three-bedroom a few blocks away.
"You're enjoying this way too much," he accuses them. They're finishing up a late lunch together at the cafe closest to Grace's school. Stan made a big production about paying.
"Quite possibly," Rachel admits. She's taken to wearing flimsy silk handkerchiefs around her neck and drinking tiny coffees; she's gotten a job at an international bank that donates heavily to third-world infrastructure projects. Paris looks good on her.
It looks even better on Grace, who learns French in about three weeks and runs around with two girls, both named Marie, and a boy named Guy but pronounced completely stupid. She's incandescently happy, but Danny's starting to think that might just be her baseline, that her first instinct will always be to smile at everybody and everything.
So he should love it, except he meets people who sigh at his attempts at French and he can't get a decent slice of pizza to save his life. He spends most days wandering the city, restless and lethargic at the same time. He's escaped, he's safe, or safe as he's ever going to get, and he's never got to work another day. This is the dream, he realizes one day, with a kind of sickening lurch. He's accomplished what he's always hoped for, a quiet life.
It's pretty awful.
The family gets in touch after a couple of months; Matt calls him and starts the conversation with, "You couldn't even send Mom a birthday card? What the hell is wrong with you?"
"Hello, what part of 'fugitives from justice' is unclear to you?" Danny snaps, and there's yelling and a few threats and basically, it's not so much that Danny's gone as the fact that he didn't let his mom know.
"It's fine, we've got one of your guys, Kamekona, he's doing the thing," Matt sniffs.
"What, Shamu?" Danny asks. He's kind of delighted; Kamekona was getting bored anyway, and if he's suddenly in charge that means he's got a mean streak that'll come in very useful.
"Trust me, he's a lot better than you," Matty says. "Just, it really would've killed you to just let us know you were okay?"
Danny sighs, because the obvious response is that it might, in fact, have killed him. Besides, Matt would've tracked him down sooner or later. "Sorry," he says instead.
"Yeah, whatever, send me a drop address so I can send Gracie some stuff," Matt says. "Oh, and heads up, there's a few people after you."
"That's the dumbest thing you've ever said, of course there's a few people after me," Danny says. "There's been a few people after me since I was in short pants."
"All your pants are short, boo-yeah," Matt congratulates himself. "No, there's the knuckleheads and the chumps, no news there, but there's this one guy from Hawaii, he's got himself some bugfuck crazy eyes. He actually got as far as me, so you know."
Matt's never been good at innuendo, so that was probably not on purpose. "Steve McGarrett," he says, not really a guess.
"So you talked to him."
"In so far as he busted into my office a couple days ago and tried to staple my face, yeah I talked to him. He's either in love with you or your shot his dog, so -- oh, ohhhh, oh wait a minute," Matt breathes, and Danny conks his head against the nearest wall. "Oh Danny-Mo-Manny, tell me you didn't fall for a fucking cop."
Danny's never, ever been able to lie to his brother. It's a constant fucking burden in his life. "I, uh. Look, it's a little complicated."
"What's complicated? What about the rule 'don't stick it in where it might bite your dick off' is complicated? What, tell me."
"I'm hanging up now," Danny announces. "Tell Mom I'll call her from a secure line, I got her a nice birthday present."
"It better be expensive," Matt warns, and he makes that sucking noise between his teeth the way he always makes when he's got more to say. "Danny, seriously."
"Matthew, seriously. He's not a problem, okay? I'll deal with it."
"That's not what I was going to say, are you psychic now that you can tell what I'm going to say? I was going to say, I'm saying now, I'm dead serious about this thing. If you didn't shoot his dog--"
"I didn't," Danny snaps.
"Then there's only one reason he's trying to find you," Matt concludes. "I mean, try convincing him of that, but he's going to pin you down when he finds you all right. Just you know, in a sex way."
"There it is, there's the terrible metaphor I was waiting for," Danny sighs, and hangs up.
Steve comes back from Jersey in early May, exchanging one sticky heat for another. Mary's there waiting for him at the baggage carousel, even though he didn't have any checked-in baggage; it was the only place they could agree on. "You find him?" she asks.
"No," Steve says, short, hoping Mary won't push. Meeting Matt Williams had been a pretty terrible experience; Steve kept catching glimpses of Danny in the way his hands moved, in the dodge of his head whenever he got irritated. Matt knows where his brother is, but Steve recognized the glower in his eyes, the expression that says you won't get my family, not any piece of them. So he went home, and now he's standing at the airport wishing he were anywhere else, wishing it was a week ago and he still had a chance of finding Danny.
But Dad never believed in wishing things, so Steve asks about Mary's pottery classes and even manages to hug her when she drops him off at the house. "It's okay, Steve," she says, climbing into the Mercury. "Really. Things'll work out."
Dad never believed in that stuff, either.
What he did believe in, though, was work, and Steve is his father's son; he goes in early and stays late, tracking down the gangsters, the dealers, the aspiring terrorists that seem to think Hawaii's ripe for the picking. He testifies at trials and takes witness statements and fills out reports, endless reports, piling paper over every crime. Some distant part of him knows he hates it, but there doesn't seem to be anything else. And it's justice -- at least a kind of justice.
He misses Danny's kind of justice, though. The criminals he sees and fights every day aren't... aren't fun; no one breaks into his house to keep in practice, no one teases him about the fact he wears his old quarterback jersey to practices sometimes. There's nothing pulling him along anymore; he's being pushed, he feels like, pushed every day out of his bed and into his clothes and along the same straight lines.
It comes in the mail on a harmless Thursday, stamped from Newark, which is probably Danny's way of being funny. Steve holds the envelope in his hand for a full minute, reading the careful cursive that reads Steven Josephine McGarrett, with his address written and United States of America at the bottom.
He goes inside and puts the envelope on the kitchen counter. He should take it in to get checked; fingerprints, trace evidence, something. Instead he opens it with his knife.
Dear Steve, written in different, spikier and sloppier handwriting, and Steve realizes that it must have been Grace who wrote the address, It's beautiful here. One thing about tourist traps, I guess; they're tourist traps for a reason. Every girl in town is wearing a skirt, those fluttery things that swing with every step. I thought I'd feel like Maurice Chevalier about it, but you and your cargo pants have ruined the enjoyment for me. Hope you're happy about that, asshole.
Grace's doing well; she picked up the local language faster than she picked up Hawaiian, which considering Hawaiian only has, what, seven letters or something? is pretty good. She's playing outside with some new friends; I guess it's true that kids adapt fast. She asks about you, though, worries if you're okay. I had to tell her about shooting you and she was quiet for a little while. Then she said, not even kidding, "Well, I'm sure you had a good reason." Out of the mouths of babes, I guess.
I did some asking; you've still got a limp? I'm worried too, then. I didn't mean to shoot you that much, I can promise you. Plus, sorry about the jacket I used for the tourniquet. It looked pretty nice. Do me a favor and stick with the PT, even though you're probably just pissed that you can't leap tall buildings in a single bound any more.
The thing that nobody tells you when you're planning your great ride off into the sunset is what happens after. I've spent my whole life dreaming of this, being my own man with my own clock. But it's a loud clock. I'm thinking of starting a private eye business; I think I'd look good in a fedora, what do you think?
I meant what I said.
It's not signed, but there's a press of the pen at the end of the last line, like Danny had sat there for a long time, trying to add something else, before giving up. Steve sets the letter down on the counter carefully, but he bumps the envelope and sends it tumbling to land face-down on the floor. He bends over to pick it up and freezes.
On the other side, Grace's written:
Gracie and Danno
17 Rue des Ecouffes
When he goes into work the next day, he sticks the letter in a desk drawer and tries to convince himself that he's made his decision. It's a quiet day in the office, unfortunately, paperwork piled up from the last three cases, and every time Steve needs that state seal stamp or a new pen he has to open that drawer. He feels like something's tugging at him, but he puts his head down and focuses on the forms that need filling out. By the time it hits lunch, he's got a headache and a papercut on his thumb.
"I'm taking off, Boss," Kono says from the doorway. He looks up; she's got her bag over one shoulder, and he remembers something about the Pipe being in good shape this weekend, Kono asking if she could get out early as long as there were no bad guys to kick.
"Try to remember which way is up this time," Steve warns. The last time she'd been out to the North Shore, Chin had gotten a call from her bragging that she'd been pulled under for almost four minutes, according to the beach bums who'd been watching. Navy SEALs have nothing on big-wave surfers.
"Eh," she says, "Mary'll keep me from swallowing too much." She grins and waggles her eyebrows at him.
Steve groans. "Have fun and if Mary's helping you with anything involving swallowing, just... don't tell me," Steve says.
"You're no fun," Kono says. She makes to leave, then turns around. "Have you heard anything? About Danny."
For a second he can't think beyond a knee-jerk denial, like Kono's his mother catching him with his hand in the cookie jar. But she can't know about the letter, and when he takes another breath he remembers how she always asks, every Friday before she goes home. It's become more a tradition than a status update; putting the cup out for Elijah.
"The angle from the brother dried up," he says, which isn't a lie.
Kono nods like she accepts this, but then she says, "Boss?"
She chews at the inside of her cheek for a minute, staring out the window. "He's your guy, isn't he?" she says.
For a minute Steve doesn't know what she's talking about. But then he remembers that evening at her apartment, beer and pizza and talking about lonely old men. About doing something because nobody's around to tell you to stop.
"He... I think he was."
Kono's mouth quirks in a smile that doesn't reach her eyes. "Maybe," she says. "Maybe he still is. If you ever find him."
Steve glances out the big windows that look out into the main room. Chin and Meka are arguing about something over the computer table, pointing at something. Meka's got plans to take his son out fishing tomorrow; Chin's having dinner with Malia's parents tonight. "It looks like that's a pretty big if now," Steve tells her.
"But if you did," Kono persists, and steps into the room, and this is the problem with having friends, having people who know what you looked like when you were happy, "If you could find him. Would you?"
"You think I should?" he asks, trying for lighthearted. "Just run away from home?"
She shrugs. "I don't think you've been home for five months," she observes.
It's cold as hell, mean, and Steve can't think of any other response than, "Five and a half," although that's not quite right either.
She nods again and lets the silence stretch out. "See you, Boss," she says at last, and walks out the door.
Steve nods stiffly and goes back to the paperwork he should get finished for the weekend. He reads over their latest case's reports and makes notes for what they still need to do; it's a drug bust that took place about a hundred meters into international waters, which means a mountain's worth of memos and cc's and in reference to your last communication. Steve's in the middle of writing on a post-it note reminding himself to let the Coast Guard know about the cocaine found in one of the holds when the tip of his pencil breaks off; he slides his drawer open and pulls out a new one.
Except he doesn't. He looks down and it's Danny's letter in Grace's envelope in his hand, already a little more creased and smudged than it was this morning.
It's not five and a half months. It's five months, two weeks, six days, about twenty hours and fifteen minutes.
The phone rings. "GOV. OFFICE" blinks on the caller ID. Steve stares at it while the sound echoes around and around in his head.
"Chin," he calls, standing up, "Get the phone, would you? I've got somewhere to be."