Steve went flying backwards, his spine connecting painfully with the wall, the force knocking the breath from his lungs. As he slid to the ground, he wondered if for once in his life, he hadn't bitten off more than he could chew by tackling a blood-sucking vampire with super strength and the powers of mesmerism.
He gasped, struggling to get his breath back, wondering how he'd gone from protecting his country overseas, to defending his beloved state, to fighting a creature that shouldn't exist.
Self-doubt was a rarity for him, and not one he could tolerate. He lurched to his feet, knowing he had to fight back, no matter what the danger or consequences. He had to, for Danny's sake.
~ 48 Hours Earlier ~
Mondays were fine days in Steve's estimation, especially Mondays in Hawaii. The start of the week, beautiful weather, the anticipation of new fascinating cases, and a great team. What more could a man ask for?
Well, not to have that vulture from Internal Affairs John Cage waiting in his office. Steve stopped at the coffee pot, taking his time pouring his black coffee, wishing Chin a good morning.
"Your visitor has been here for a half an hour. I've kept an eye on him," Chin said, not quite able to keep the dislike out of his eyes. Cage had ruined his career and his life, destroying his reputation in his co-workers' eyes and his place among his family, all because of false suspicions.
Steve smiled, the kind of smile he displayed before he threw people into shark tanks. "Thanks. I'm sure he'll be leaving soon." He headed into his office, going to his chair, sitting down and turning on his computer, watching it boot up, deliberately finding the Windows log-on fascinating. "How can I help you, Sergeant?"
"I need to talk to you about one of your people, Commander."
Swiveling his chair, Steve finally looked at him. "If this is another attempt to smear Chin Ho, I'm not interested. I trust him implicitly."
"Not Chin." Cage dropped a handful of photos on Steve's desk, pictures of Danny and another guy, sitting at a bar. "Detective Williams is keeping interesting company."
Steve flipped through the pictures, which were only mediocre quality, indicating this hadn't been a professional surveillance job. He didn't recognize the bar, but it looked like an elegant tourist trap, which was not Danny's normal choice. As much as Danny enjoyed chatting with mainlanders, especially those from New Jersey or anywhere on the East Coast, tourists being overcharged as they gushed about their island vacation drove him batshit insane.
The guy sitting by Danny was decent-looking, though his eyes were a bit large. Brown perhaps, or maybe a dark hazel. It was hard to tell for sure in the bar's dim lighting. His dark hair was short, with a bit of a curl, and his beard and mustache were neatly trimmed. He looked taller than Danny, though that also was hard to tell, as Danny was generally sitting straight up, the better to wave his arms around, and the other guy's shoulders were bowed a bit. Several pictures caught Danny's hands in mid-flail, at his animated best, looking like he was having a good conversation with a buddy. "Who is he?"
"His name is Thomas Stratton. He's rich, English, murky background, lots of investments in different businesses. He's been a person of interest in a number of high-profile international crimes. Jewel thefts, gun running, sex slavery. You name it, he's been involved."
"Person of interest only means he's been suspected of being involved," Steve corrected him, grateful for Danny's constant lectures on proper police language. "Which may mean that he's innocent. Being rich isn't a crime." He was acutely aware that he had to make Cage back off. He wasn't going to let Danny be smeared with the same nasty tar that had already been slathered on Chin. All his team were family to him, but Danny… Danny was more special than Steve wanted to admit. "Who was taking pictures of him and why?"
"The important question is why was Detective Williams having a drink with this guy? Face it, millionaires aren't normally drinking buddies for cops. Not unless the cop is on the take."
"Oh. I get it." Steve waved the pictures at Cage, connecting the dots. "A high-profile person with dubious morals coming to our island is the kind of case the Governor wants us to handle, but someone in HPD is jealous of our status. He starts doing a little investigating on the side, and bingo, he snaps Danny in a position that could be compromising. It must have made his day. And yours."
"I've been compromised? I hope she was hot."
Cage's slight jump made Steve smirk. Perhaps he should have mentioned that Danny was walking toward his office. "He's not bad-looking, I guess." Steve held the pictures out to Danny.
"Detective Williams shouldn't – "
Steve overrode Cage forcefully. "Detective Williams is a part of this conversation and will remain so."
"Whoa, Tommy? Tommy's just a nice guy. I like anyone who doesn't get along with step-Stan." Danny took the pictures from Steve's hand, flicking through them. "Someone was doing his best paparazzi imitation. How many photos did he take?"
"You were there almost two hours. The officer had a lot of opportunity to document your assignation with a criminal."
"Person of interest," Danny corrected him, but the quick weird look of confusion in his eyes concerned Steve. He could tell when Danny was hiding something; the rarity of Danny not being overtly honest made it strikingly noticeable. He only hoped Cage missed it. "And it wasn't an assignation. I was dropping off Gracie at step-Stan's new hotel. Tommy and step-Stan were having a less than polite conversation. Stan's a jerk, but I didn't want Grace to have to hang around and watch him be a jerk, so I cut in. Tommy and I ended up going to a bar for a drink. Maybe he wanted to pump me for information on step-Stan's operations but I can't give him that because I don't know anything except he spends way too much money on Gracie. I bitched a lot about living on the island, was nice enough to point him toward the better local places, and then we parted ways. That was it. No assignation, no bribery, no one on the take. Just you, barking up the wrong tree again. As usual. You're good at that, aren't you?"
"You're very aggressive for someone who hasn't done anything wrong."
"Me?" Danny pointed to himself. "You call this aggressive? Am I being aggressive?" he asked Steve.
"Danny's just being himself and he's been honest about how and why he met Stratton. I think you can leave now."
Cage shot them frustrated looks, and reached for his photos. "This isn't over."
"Yes, it is, and we'll keep the photos," Steve said, standing up and stepping around his deck, placing himself at Danny's side. No one was going to doubt his loyalty. "If Stratton needs to be investigated, that's our jurisdiction and we'll handle it."
"You can keep the photos. I have the computer files." Cage wasn't hiding his unhappiness. Had he really thought he could cow Steve, especially where Danny was concerned?
"Scurry away, little man." Danny made waving gestures at Cage, shooing him from Steve's office. "You were wrong about Meka and you were wrong about Chin Ho. Have you been right about anything?"
That rudeness earned Danny a killer glare from Cage, not that Danny seemed intimidated. "This isn't over," Cage snapped before storming out.
"You said that already!" Danny yelled at Cage's back. "Get some new dialogue!" Chin watched him steadily until Cage was out of the building.
"Okay, talk to me," Steve demanded, as soon as the outer door closed behind Cage. "What was wrong with those pictures?"
"Nothing. Nothing was wrong. Jeez, I hate when you make that face, you know that?"
Steve wasn't sure what face he was making, but he made sure to not change his expression, while amping it up a bit.
Danny sighed, rubbing one hand over his chin. "Okay, look, I would have sworn that I was there 15-20 minutes tops, right? I had one beer. Look at these pictures." He spread them out over Steve's desk. "If these are in order – " he flipped one over, looking at the back – "no time stamp, so that's no help, but look at the level of my beer." Danny pointed to his glass in several pictures. "I had at least two, and it looks like I was starting on my third. I don't drink three when I'm driving."
Steve studied the pictures, both the level of the beer and the loosening of Danny's tie. "So you got buzzed and drank more than you realized. It happens."
"No, it does not happen to me. I do not get too buzzed to know whether I drank one or two or three beers. Admittedly, in my college days or rookie years, I might have gotten confused after four or five beers. I will admit that. Don't tell me you didn't have those experiences in the Navy. But I'm a police detective and the father of an eight-year-old girl now. I monitor how much I'm drinking and I know when to stop."
"So what do you think happened?"
"I don't know, other than something hinky."
"Hinky?" Danny's bluntness and unique way of expressing himself was one of the traits that most attracted Steve. He appreciated someone who called a spade a spade, even if it took him 20 extra words and half a dozen conjunctive phrases to say it.
"Hinky's a perfectly good word and don't give me that 'I'm trying not to mock you' face. I know you're mocking me."
"Maybe," Steve admitted with a smile. The fact that Danny never hesitated to get in his face with another trait that he found endearing, not that he'd ever admit it to him. "So let's investigate."
"What? Are you kidding me?"
"You don't want to investigate?"
"Waste our time on some generic rich guy because some ambitious prick in HPD is an idiot? Do you know how much paperwork we have backlogged? We have no cases now. None. We have hopefully an entire day with nothing to do but catch up. This is bliss, this is beautiful. I never had a day like this in New Jersey. Not one single day."
Danny's about-face was disconcerting. "Danny, Cage is going to be looking into this guy. He's going to be looking into you."
"So let him waste his time. Tommy's a nice guy. There won't be anything to find." Danny wagged a finger at Steve, though he knew he didn't like it. "I am not going to waste my time because Cage is an idiot." He turned, leaving Steve's office. "I have paperwork to do!" he called.
Steve stared at his disappearing back, wondering what had just happened. Maybe he wasn't so fond of Mondays.
Over Danny's cranky objections, Steve dispatched Chin to check on Stratton, to see if he could spot the HPD officer following him, and also to investigate what Stratton was doing on the island and his planned length of stay. He set Kono on researching him through the databases. As a sop to Danny's irritation, he retreated to his own office to do his paperwork, weirded out by Danny's, "Do something productive rather than wild goose chases!" yelled after him.
Danny could be contrary, but he knew full well how Chin's reputation had been destroyed by an IA investigation. It seemed oddly foolish of him to be so determined to ignore the issue.
The day passed calmly, all of them focused on their own work. Steve found himself often glancing at Danny, trying not to be observed. He loved watching the detective, the intentness with which he tackled even paperwork, the way he occasionally muttered to himself, griping about the slowness of his computer or the stupidity of police forms.
Kono fed data straight to his computer for his review, and he soon understood why Cage thought Stratton was a crook – the details of early life was extremely sketchy, too many of his deals conveniently came together with competitors backing out for lame reasons, and he was often in cities where major thefts occurred.
"It's like he's got a good luck charm," Chin commented after he had returned and scanned Kono's file. He hadn't seen the HPD officer, who was likely busy with his actual job, though he had found out that Stratton was scheduled to stay at least two weeks, and was exploring the same sort of resort development that step-Stan handled.
Danny grunted from his desk. "Told you. Tommy's a nice guy."
"I can do more research tomorrow," Kono said, shooting Danny a curious look. "Not everything is online, so some things may be harder to dig up."
Giving a sigh, Steve glanced at the clock. It was almost quitting time, not that his crew ever paid attention to punching the clock. Criminals didn't work on a 9 to 5 schedule, so they couldn't either. Most days. "Let's knock it off for now."
"You sure?" Chin asked.
"We don't even know he's a criminal, just that Cage thinks he's one. No point in draining ourselves out now."
"Yeah, because the way our cases go, we'll get a chance to exhaust ourselves tomorrow. On some completely new and unrelated case, because we all know how much Cage barks up the wrong trees." Danny shut off his computer. "I'm outta here. A day with normal hours is very much appreciated."
Chin gave a shrug of agreement. "Enjoy it while we can, I guess."
Steve waited until Danny walked out, seemingly not caring that any of them were closing up shop. The absence of Danny's mother hen tendency to nag them all into leaving together was disturbing. "Kono, I want you to hit the research again tomorrow. See if you can find more about his early years."
"You really do think something is wrong?"
"I think something's wrong with Danny. He can be resistant, but he's not stupid. He knows we can't ignore Cage."
The cousins exchanged glances, and Steve knew that they agreed but hadn't wanted to verbalize it. Sometimes he wondered if they had picked up on his attraction to Danny, but were too tactful to say anything. What could be said anyway? 'Brah, you shouldn't fall for straight guys?' "I'm going to swing by the resort tonight and check on Stratton," Steve added.
"You want back-up?" Chin offered. Kono looked equally willing to assist. Steve loved his team and their unflinching support.
"No, go home. Have a good evening. Relax." Not that Steve was going to follow his own advice.
The resort was one of the most expensive and prestigious on the island. Stratton was staying in one of the bungalows on the grounds, rather than the main hotel area. The amount of space separating each bungalow and the abundant greenery was for the protection of the guests' privacy, but it also made excellent cover for spying, a fact that Steve blessed. He settled himself with a directional microphone and his sniper scope, finding it easy to slip into that almost meditative state that accompanied extreme watchfulness.
An hour passed with little happening. Stratton talked on his cell a lot, occasionally pacing around the room. Business conversations about several different deals, though primarily one he was trying to arrange in Hawaii. He didn't eat or drink, which seemed odd. At this time of night, Steve would have expected him to break something out of the mini-bar.
Then Steve heard the sound of a car pulling up and parking on the other side of the bungalow, though he couldn't see it from his vantage point. He'd had to sacrifice a complete view to get the best sight into the front living area. Danny walked into Stratton's bungalow, his face oddly blank.
"I'm here," he announced, and stood waiting.
"Daniel, my pet."
Steve expected Danny to be enraged at the description, but he wasn't. He didn't react at all. Something was very wrong with him.
"Remove your tie and unbutton your shirt."
As Danny passively obeyed, Steve gripped the scope tighter, restraining the urge to stomp in and pound on Stratton's smug face. How dare he order Danny around? And why the hell was Danny obeying? Anger caused Steve's heartbeat to increase, and he took calming breaths. Now was not the time to react, not until he understood what was happening with Danny.
Stratton pushed Danny's shirt off his shoulders. They were standing almost sideways to Steve's view, so he saw Danny's side rather than the front of his chest. He'd seen Danny half-dressed a few times, changing shirts that had gotten ruined during an investigation. Steve had tried to not look, but he couldn't help noticing how the hair swirled on his chest, and that he was surprisingly ripped. For a man who loved malasadas and mocking Steve's workout regimen, Danny must occupy his lonely evening hours with some hard-core exercising.
Then Stratton tilted his head, his eyes glowing golden, and fuck, fangs had grown in his mouth, two sharp, pointed teeth. His opened mouth descended, latching onto Danny's throat. As Stratton's fangs broke his skin, Danny arched his head back, gasping like he was in pain, or experiencing a really good orgasm. It was a look that Steve had often fantasized about seeing on his face, but not caused by someone else.
The microphone picked up a weird sucking noise. Steve jiggled it and tapped on the earpiece, making sure he was hearing correctly. Stratton really was drinking Danny's blood. The sucking noise ended, followed by a softer sound. Licking? Then Stratton removed his mouth, licking a few drops of blood off his lips. His eyes were no longer golden, but hazel again.
"Delicious," he said, caressing Danny's abdomen with one hand. "You were a very lucky find, my pet. Tasty and useful. You can dress yourself now," he ordered, strolling away from Danny and lounging on the couch. "Did you talk to Edwards for me?"
Danny took a half-step toward the window, allowing Steve to focus the scope on his front, zooming in to see a nasty bruise blemishing the base of his throat, with two puncture wounds in the middle. They were mostly healed. Stratton wasn't a generic rich white guy who was probably a criminal; he truly was a freaking vampire.
Then Danny pulled his shirt into place, hiding the blemish from Steve's view, and began doing the buttons. "Yes."
Yes what? Oh, had Danny talked to Edwards, good old Stanley Edwards, aka step-Stan. Steve zoomed the scope out, watching both of them again.
"And what did you tell him?"
"That I ran you through all the police databases and you came up clean. That you were a nice guy."
"Good. It's always so useful to have a recommendation from local law enforcement."
"Grace – "
"You'll have your daughter back when I'm through with Mr. Edwards."
Danny looked confused more than anything, but there was also a glimmer of despair in his eyes that said he was trying to fight whatever compulsion Stratton was using on him. His movements as he redid his tie were slow, accentuated as if he was having to remember what to do. "Rachel."
"Your ex-wife doesn't interest me."
"She'll be hurt."
Stratton gave an unpleasant bark of laughter. "I almost think you care."
"I do. I do – "
Impossibly fast, Stratton lunged off the couch and crossed the room, moving at a speed that seemed inhuman, and stood in front of Danny, holding his face, staring deep in his eyes. "Are you trying to fight me, Daniel?"
Steve tensed, fearing what Stratton might do, preparing to run in. But rather than take physical action, Stratton kept talking, his voice silky and smooth. Hypnotic.
"You can't fight me. You belong to me now. Your blood is part of me."
"My blood is part of you."
"We have a bond, Daniel. You can't fight me."
"No. I can't fight you." The heartbroken expression on Danny's face made Steve want to punch Stratton, violently and repeatedly. No one should make Danny look so wounded.
"Obey me and you will be rewarded. Edwards will be gone, and you will be reunited with your daughter full-time."
"Yes." Danny's expression was settling into passivity. He certainly didn't appear ecstatic about Stratton's rewards. No matter how much Danny craved to have Grace back in his life full-time, he'd never want to hurt anyone to achieve that goal. Stratton's promise would be anathema to him.
"Now." Stratton ran his open palm slowly downward over Danny's face. "You will forget we had this conversation. You will go home and sleep well. If Edwards asks more questions about me, you will vouch for me. Always remember I'm a nice guy. Return tomorrow night."
Danny's eyes were shut when Stratton stepped away, his face peaceful. He nodded once, and walked out, back on autopilot.
Steve carefully tucked the scope and mic in their case, familiar motions giving him time to think. He'd survived a lot of screwed up situations in his days in the Navy, and seen too many things that could be characterized as fucked up shit, but a vampire sucking the blood out of his partner had to be the worst.
He squeezed the case, wishing it was Stratton's neck in his hands. That the man had decided to control, to use his Danno –
Bushes rustled, and Steve stepped out of his hiding place, looking for the source of the sound. A person was moving quickly away, slim, tall, long dark hair. "Detective," Steve said loudly, on a wild guess, and the figure paused, turning to face him.
"Who are you?"
"Lieutenant Commander Steve McGarrett, Five-O. And your name?"
She walked toward him, her posture a little less tense now that he had identified himself. "Nancy Wong, HPD. Your partner is digging himself into deep trouble, having a sexual relationship with a suspected criminal."
They'd misjudged the sex of the detective following Stratton. Well, no reason that a woman couldn't be ambitious. She must have been close enough to see Stratton sucking at Danny's neck, but without a scope, couldn't have realized that actual blood-drinking had occurred. "I'd advise you to stay out of this."
"Yes, I'm sure you would. Everyone knows you're protecting one dirty cop. Isn't two a little much?"
The slam at Chin made Steve angry, but he kept the hostility out of his tone, even as he took a few half-steps closer to her. "Chin isn't dirty. He's a good man."
"You don't know what happened. You weren't even on the island then. His own family turned against him."
Another quiet half-step brought him almost within lunging distance. "His family was wrong."
She took a sudden step back, then another. "Don't get close to me."
So she was ambitious but not stupid. "Did you take pictures tonight?"
"Of your boy getting a hickey from his criminal friend? Isn't that a little high school? What if I did?"
"You couldn't have got good pictures with a point and click," he said, because she wasn't carrying a purse, so her camera must be in a pants pocket. It might even be her cell phone, which would explain why Danny hadn't noticed the picture taking at the bar.
"My camera's good enough. And don't even try to take it from me or I'll have you up on assault charges."
He wanted to, oh how he wanted to reach out and grab her, take away her camera and the evidence which would get Danny deeper in trouble with people who would never accept the existence of a vampire. But he couldn't hurt a police officer, even if she was working outside the scope of her job. "I'll expect to see Sergeant Cage in the morning. Maybe this time you can tell him to bring some malasadas."
She backed away again, his sarcasm alarming her. "I'll do that," she said, before turning away from him and walking rapidly toward the parking lot.
Fuck. Just fuck.
"He was definitely out in the sun yesterday," Chin said, "which means he's not quite a vampire like the legends say."
"But he's fast and he drinks blood and he's controlling Danny, so those things are like the movies." Kono frowned in thought. "Danny must be a human servant, like what was that guy? Renfield?"
"Yeah, Renfield," Steve confirmed, his gaze straying to the door, watching for Danny to arrive. He'd driven past Danny's apartment last night, checking that his car was there, and contemplated trying to talk to him, finally deciding that gathering intel was a wiser course of action than confronting a mind-wiped Danny. Instead, he'd spent half the night surfing the web for vampire lore, trying to figure out what to do, before forcing himself to get some rest. He was grateful that Chin and Kono met him before work without questions, and that though they were skeptical about the existence of vampires, they were trying their best to believe him. Trust of this magnitude was immeasurable. "Let's hope he doesn't start eating cockroaches," he added, trying to keep it light to disguise that he was still fighting the urge to beat Stratton to a pulp.
"So how do we handle a vampire?" Chin asked. "Put a stake through his heart? That's going to lead to some messy questions."
"Stake through the heart, cut the head off, burn him to ashes…" Kono shrugged at Chin's arched eyebrows. "I watched a lot of horror movies as a kid."
Stratton would have to be handled in some way that broke his control over Danny, preferably before he made Danny do anything more serious than lie to step-Stan for him and let him drink his blood. Cage hadn't shown yet, which was worrying. If Nancy called Cage last night, Steve would have expected him to be hounding them first thing in the morning. His lateness most likely meant he was escalating the situation already. Had he gone straight to Danny's home and taken him in for questioning?
The doors opened and Danny walked in, looking tired, and Steve breathed in relief, reassured that he appeared fine, dressed in his customary fashion, complete with a stupid tie. "I'm last to arrive? I brought malasadas." He pointed a finger at Steve. "Eat or don't eat, but do not lecture me. Today is a day for some extra sugar."
Like having a donut after donating at a blood drive. Danny knew what his body needed, even if he didn't remember why. "No lectures," Steve promised. "You got one for me?"
In less dire circumstances, Danny's suspicious doubletake would have been comical. "Yes, of course, for I understand the code from kindergarten, do not bring treats unless you bring for everyone. Which in adult terms means do not piss off your fellow cops by taunting them with freshly baked malasadas." Danny seemed fine, his normal brash self, if a little tired around his eyes. Had Stratton drunk from him two nights in a row? And how much did he take each time?
As Steve reached for the offered bag, he asked, "But you thought I'd decline, didn't you?"
"Okay, yes," Danny admitted. "I was counting on my gesture being refused. But that's okay. It shall be my pleasure to see you indulge in some high-octane unhealthiness for once."
"I just want half." Steve tore off a portion and offered the remainder to Danny, who took it happily. He didn't want a malasada, but he needed any connection with Danny, even sharing food. Danny was his partner, not Stratton's pet.
Steve's phone rang, and Danny waved the malasada at Chin and Kono for emphasis, while offering the bag with the other. "See? What did I tell you? Investigating Stratton was pointless, for today we shall be on the hunt for… Polynesian drug dealers."
"Polynesian drug dealers?" Kono asked, with a bemused smile.
"Hey, I'm sure there are some. There are scum everywhere."
Steve tuned out Danny's increasingly elaborate theories on the varieties of scum and where they could be found, his stomach clenching as he listened to the HPD dispatcher. "Yes, okay. Thank you for informing me."
"Am I right?" Danny asked, wiping sugar off his face with a napkin. "Horrendous case we have to handle that has absolutely nothing to do with Tommy, who is just a nice guy."
"An HPD officer has been killed. Her body was found at the resort where Stratton is saying."
"Oh." Danny looked legitimately shocked, taking a moment to rally. Joking about criminal activity was one thing; hearing about the death of an officer was a completely different matter. And Danny was the one who had more recently lost a fellow officer.
"What officer?" Chin asked. "And any details on how?"
"Her name was Nancy Wong. Cause of death hasn't been determined but appears to have been exsanguination."
"Extreme blood loss? That seems like an unusual way to kill someone," Kono said. Neither Chin or Kono betrayed that they'd been talking to Steve about vampires, letting him take the lead on what to tell Danny.
"That shouldn't be hard to determine." Danny crumpled the top of the bag, dropping the uneaten malasadas on the closest desk. "The huge pool of blood should be an obvious clue."
"There wasn't any blood around the body." He shouldn't have left the resort without seeing her to her car. If he hadn't been so absorbed in thinking about Danny and how to free him from Stratton's control, he might have anticipated what she would do something reckless.
"Then the body was moved. We just have to find the actual crime site."
"It's not our case. That was a courtesy call. The Governor told HPD to keep us informed of major crimes on the island."
Danny spread his hands wide. "And when has that stopped us? Stopped you?"
Was Danny pressing to take over the case because he was a concerned cop and thought they could do a better job than HPD, or was he under a compulsion to protect Stratton, his conditioning nagging him to be on site and involved? "We need to go offer our assistance at least," Steve agreed, because Five-O couldn't ignore the death of a police officer, no matter how much Steve wanted to keep Danny the hell away from Stratton. Maybe being involved would be best, so he could grab her camera before anyone looked at the pictures. "Kono, Chin, start on background research. Her, her cases, anyone who might have a grudge against her. Check out the people staying at the resort. See if any red flags come up."
Kono was nodding as she added, "Check out the resort employees, see if anyone working there has a criminal background. We know the drill."
He didn't have to say to make investigating Stratton the main priority. He knew they would. "Good. Danny and I will head to the resort and examine the crime scene, make our offer of assistance to the lead cop."
As he and Danny walked out of the office, Steve dropped a hand on Danny's shoulder, hard bone and muscle covered by his soft white cotton shirt, giving it a squeeze. Danny gave him a 'What?' look and Steve shrugged, letting his hand fall away. No matter what, he was going to protect Danny.
The crime scene was a fair distance away from Stratton's bungalow, but still on the resort grounds, like the bastard was too arrogant to bother hiding the body farther away. Or perhaps too concerned about being seen while moving it. Steve would bet his money on the first possibility though. Stratton had seemed pretty damn smug.
"She was beautiful," Danny said quietly, looking at the body, which had been tucked under bushes. Police tape had been used to pull them away from her, but the scene was otherwise undisturbed.
"She was a rising star in the department. Dedicated, intelligent and thorough. Detective Joseph Natua," the cop said, offering his hand to Steve and then to Danny. "Commander McGarrett, Detective Williams, I recognize you from your publicity."
"We never worked together when I was at HPD, but we talked about cases a few times. She was a good cop."
Commiserations over, Natua almost visibly braced himself. "We appreciate your interest, but this case is ours."
"Yeah, 'cuz you guys did such a good job investigating Meka's?" Danny drawled, his sorrow over the loss of a fellow officer flashing to anger over how another officer had been mistreated by his brethren.
"People thought Meka was dirty."
"People should have investigated the case before deciding they knew the truth. That's what good cops do."
"We made a mistake. We judged too quickly. We're learned from that error."
Steve curled his fingers around Danny's arm, trying to derail another irate retort. "We're going to investigate," he said, making it clear he wasn't allowing further discussion. "We'll run our investigation concurrently with yours and keep you informed."
Natua wasn't happy, but Five-O had built its reputation as a team that always caught the bad guy and had the full backing of the Governor. He would know Steve was offering the best compromise he'd get. If he objected too much, Steve might take the case away entirely. "Very well. We'll share the results of our investigation too," Natua said grudgingly.
"We're just going to look over the crime scene and then we'll let forensics have it."
"Want to bet our information reaches them a lot faster than theirs reaches us?" Danny muttered as they crouched down by the body.
They went through the normal routine, examining the body and talking to the stressed-out tourist who had discovered it. Even in a ritzy resort like this one, a small collection of gawkers had gathered, standing on the walkways, talking among themselves, morbidly trying to get a better view of the corpse. Steve was about to suggest that they leave Natua's men to canvass the gawkers and people in the other bungalows to see if they'd heard anything, when Stratton strolled up. He was standing a little distance from the others, but he was tall, about Steve's height, and easily visible.
In the bright sunlight, when he should be bursting into flames. As Chin had noted, vampire legend was obviously not completely accurate.
"Hey, Stratton's here," Steve said to Danny, waiting to see how he'd react.
Danny gave an, "Hmm?" his head jerking around to where Steve had indicated. He gave Stratton a head tilt in recognition. "So we leave Natua's men to do the canvassing now?" he asked Steve, turning his back on the watching crowd.
"You do realize that this officer is probably the one who took the pictures Cage had, of you and Stratton."
Danny's head did a funny little bob as he considered Steve's suggestion. "Yeah, makes sense. She's convinced Stratton's dirty, so she hangs around his resort. So?"
"Don't you think it's curious that she ends up dead in the resort where Stratton is staying?"
"Yeah, it's certainly coincidental but I'm not dirty and on Stratton's take, even if Stratton needed to have someone on his take, so there wasn't anything for her to find and her little pictures don't have any connection to her murder. Her hanging around must have scared some sicko who thought she was on his trail. Wrong place, wrong time. Can we go now and continue the investigation?"
That would certainly be a possible scenario, if Steve didn't know Stratton was a vampire. "I want to talk to Stratton." Ignoring Danny's huff of frustration, Steve walked over to the vampire, who was dressed in a pale gray suit, with a white shirt and pale blue tie. The ensemble probably cost a month of his pay, and looked ridiculous to Steve. Even Danny had never bothered with a jacket in Hawaii. "Thomas Stratton, I believe."
"You have the advantage of me."
"I'm Lieutenant Commander Steve McGarrett, Five-O." Stratton was in front of him, but Danny remained behind him, instead of standing beside him, which made Steve feel on high alert, like he was surrounded by possible hostiles. Not that he expected Stratton to do anything risky in public, but then he hadn't expected him to be a vampire either.
"It's the name of my team. We're a special task force set up by the Governor to investigate high-profile crimes in Hawaii and keep the islands safe."
"Yes, Daniel did mention he works for an elite branch of the police. He didn't mention the name. Daniel, you should keep me better informed." Stratton reached out, stroking a finger down Steve's t-shirt. "I had rather hoped it was the start of your phone number."
Being hit on by Stratton made Steve almost physically recoil, which obviously amused Stratton, though he dropped his hand.
"Take it as a compliment, Commander. I'm sure you're not unfamiliar with people appreciating your looks. They are so very attractive."
"Steve was a Navy SEAL," Danny said, his tone as dispassionate as it had been last night in the bungalow.
"Yes, I suppose men might have hesitated to approach you then. You're trained to kill, aren't you?"
"Yes, he is," Danny replied.
"Someone killed a police officer here last night." Steve decided to ignore Stratton's advances. They were irrelevant regardless of whether they were sincere or a distraction, because the only reason Steve wanted to touch Stratton was to commit violent mayhem on his body. "Her name was Nancy Wong. Did you see or hear anything suspicious last night?
"Yes, I'd heard that too. The crowd, so thrilled. People do love a good dose of real life murder, don't they?"
"You talk about the death of a police officer like it was a tourist attraction."
"McGarrett! Williams!" Cage barreled up to them, and Steve knew the news of Wong's murder had reached him. "And Mr. Stratton. This is another nail in your coffin, Williams."
"You have the advantage of me," Stratton said. "Daniel?"
"This is Sergeant John Cage. He's with Internal Affairs."
"I can introduce myself, Detective Williams."
Stratton flicked a curious glance between Danny and Cage. "What nail in your coffin, Daniel?"
"The deceased officer took pictures of you and me in the resort bar on Sunday night. Cage thinks I'm on the take."
"Williams!" Cage yelled.
Danny seemed to have no filter. Any question Stratton asked was answered, Danny creepily obeying his directive to keep him informed. Steve didn't know all the protocol involving Internal Affairs investigations, but he was pretty sure officers under review weren't supposed to be announcing that fact in front of suspected criminals. "You brought it up first." He glared at Cage, wanting to hustle Danny away from both of them, but realizing he couldn't leave Cage alone with Stratton, not like he'd left Wong. Stratton couldn't be given an opportunity to harm Cage or get him under his control. "Mr. Stratton, if you'd excuse us."
Cage rebelled when Steve put his hand on his elbow, jerking away. "I don't know what's going on between you three, but if I have to take all of you down, I will."
At least his being mad meant he left, stalking off, his back stiff with indignation, solving one problem for Steve.
"What a disagreeable man." Stratton turned to Danny as Cage walked away. "I didn't know you were having a problem with Internal Affairs."
"You didn't ask," was Danny's bland response, which made Steve want to crow. Danny didn't volunteer information to Stratton, a small measure of satisfaction.
"Of course you didn't know. Danny wasn't having a problem when you saw him at the bar Sunday night, and we haven't discussed it this morning. You haven't seen him any other time."
Stratton smiled, with just one corner of his mouth. "How correct, Commander. I didn't see Danny yesterday. That's our story, isn't it? And how does the saying go? We're sticking to it."
Without a doubt, Stratton knew that Steve knew Danny had been here last night. "I know what you are," Steve said, keeping his voice low.
"An English businessman?" Stratton asked with a look of mock surprise. "That's hardly a secret."
"I won't let you win."
"You know your mistake, Commander?" Stratton's breath was hot in his ear, and how had he gotten so close? "You didn't take him when you had your chance."
Anger flowed through Steve's veins as he tried to not picture how Stratton had 'taken' Danny. What did making him a pet require? "Come on, Danny. We have to go." Steve dragged an unresisting Danny away before he surrendered to his violent impulses. Natua and his men were still close; they could see Danny and Steve talking to Stratton and would intervene on Stratton's behalf if Steve attacked him.
And Danny always claimed Steve had no self-control.
"What the hell was that all about?" Danny hissed at Steve when they finally stopped between two of the luxury bungalows, out of sight of anyone else.
"Danny." Steve faced his partner. "Don't you see he's dirty?"
"Tommy? Tommy's a nice guy."
Steve curled his hands around Danny's shoulders, feeling the solid strength of him, wanting to shake some sense into his thick head. But fuck, he had difficulty making Danny agree with him at the best of times, and if this moment wasn't the worst of times, Steve didn't know what more could go wrong. What could break Stratton's control over Danny? Hypnosis? Stratton's death was certainly an appealing prospect. "Okay," he said. "Okay, let's forget about Stratton for now. We have a dead police officer. We work the problem. What's step one?" Investigating her death was likely pointless. Steve doubted that they'd find any evidence that would lead to Stratton, especially since no one believed in the existence of vampires. His main concern was keeping Danny occupied for the day while he figured out what he was going to do about Stratton.
"Step one would be canvassing the scene, looking for potential witnesses, but Natua and his men have that covered. So we look for her car, how she got here. Then we go back to her place, see if she left any clues there. We know she was investigating Stratton, maybe she was looking into others, locals, and one of them didn't like it."
"Good." At least Danny was still thinking like a detective, even if his instincts were completely invalid where Stratton was concerned. Steve hit 'Chin' on the phone, walking toward the parking lot, Danny falling into step beside him. "Hey, can you get me information on Wong's car?"
Chin could, because Chin was good like that, and it wasn't difficult to find her obviously cared for but moderately-priced sedan in the sea of luxury rental cars. "Can you unlock it?" he asked Chin, hoping that he could do his magic remotely.
"Sorry, too old."
"Watch and be astonished," Danny said, taking a small tool out of his pocket, inserting it into the car's lock, and with a little finessing and a serious hip bump, opened the car.
"You know how to break into cars?" Steve asked, bemused at this side of his partner.
Danny gave him a smirk, before bending to search the car. "Youthful hijinks, my friend, only youthful hijinks."
"You never told me why you decided to be a police officer," Steve said, wanting to learn more about Danny. He'd never been all that interested in encouraging reminiscences about Danny's past life in New Jersey, as that inevitably led to comparisons between the perfection of the so-called Garden State and Hawaii, but he felt suddenly desperate to know everything about his partner. *His* partner, not Stratton's pet.
Steve's phone rang, and he watched Danny methodically search the car as Kono reported on basics of Wong's background from the police files and her major cases, which he dutifully repeated to Danny.
"And one detail on Stratton," Kono said, and Steve stepped a pace away from Danny. "He checks out electronically, but the paper files on his background definitely do not match. He wasn't born when and where he claims, but without more to go on, it's going to be hard to find the truth."
If he was even English. The accent could be as fake as the rest of him. "Do what you can," he said, as Danny shook his head, indicating that the search of the car had been fruitless. They fell into step as they walked back to the Camaro to head toward Wong's apartment. Working with Danny wasn't always easy, as they butted heads too often. But it had always been comfortable, like they blended together, Danny's yin to Steve's yang.
Steve wouldn't let Stratton destroy what they'd built together.
The flashing of their badges persuaded the apartment manager to let them in. "She's been a busy little beaver," Danny noted, as he flicked through her neatly organized files. "And wow, she's got the hots for you. Isn't that a surprise," he asked, only his tone indicated that it wasn't.
Steve grimaced, disconcerted at the collection of articles and press releases on their team, several pictures of himself and one of the team pinned on the wall over her desk. He looked around her apartment, which was very clean and neat, only the breakfast dishes on the counter indicating that she'd walked out yesterday morning, fully expecting to return. This was the only part of working with Five-O that he disliked. He'd seen lots of death in the Navy, even caused a fair bit of it himself, but he'd rarely thought about the families of the deceased, about how they'd deal with the loss of their loved one. Enemies needed to be killed, not mourned.
"Looks like she had a married sister and a nephew," Danny noted, picking up some of the pictures on display. "The picture of the parents looks a couple of years old. They may be gone or maybe these are just ones that she really liked."
Families of the dead couldn't be ignored in civilian police procedures. They had to be informed, consoled, and sometimes investigated as possibly the perpetrator. "Chin should be getting that information from HPD."
"Natua should be making the notification by now." Danny grimaced. "I don't mind missing that."
"Yeah. Me neither."
"We should talk to the sister. They look close. Nancy might have talked to her about what she was investigating."
Danny's instincts were always good about family members and who would be the most useful to question. Not that talking to the sister would be beneficial in this case. Nancy hadn't had any suspicion that she was dealing with a vampire. She must have thought that confronting Stratton a good idea. Did she think she could get Stratton to confess Danny was on the take? "Yeah," he agreed anyway. "I want to grab these files too. Check the kitchen. See if you can find a bag or something to carry them in. I'll check the bedroom."
Steve had gotten too accustomed to talking over cases with Danny, he realized. Civilian life differed from the Navy, where conversation wasn't exactly encouraged. Steve had been sent on too many solo missions, known too well when he needed to keep his mouth shut and follow his orders to the letter. With his aggressiveness and powerful right-hand punch, Danny had broken through Steve's reserve immediately, started to make him depend on sharing his thoughts. Silencing himself in Danny's presence was almost painful, but he couldn't count on Danny not reporting to Stratton.
They visited the morgue next, deciding to allow plenty of time for the notification first before talking to her relatives. "Max may not have much of anything yet," Steve said, as they entered the building.
Max was occupied with hanging a framed picture when they arrived. "He looks familiar," Danny said. "A relative of yours?"
Turning away from fussing with the picture's positioning, Max gave Danny a horrified look. "Robert Ito. He starred in the first television series about an Asian coroner. He was my inspiration."
"There was a show about an Asian coroner?" Danny scratched his chin, thinking. "Hey, wasn't that the guy on 'Quincy'?"
Steve leaned against Max's desk, relaxing as the two bantered. He wasn't in any big hurry to go anywhere, and Max was always vaguely amusing and quirky, like his role in life was to provide a spot of comic relief. Maybe working around dead bodies all day brought out a need for humor.
Max beamed at Danny. "Yes, 'Quincy, M.E.' Robert Ito was the star."
"The star was Jack Klugman. This guy was like, what the sidekick?" He turned toward Steve. "You remember that show? One of the many that influenced my belief that solving crimes would be cool."
"Is that why you became a cop? Television?"
"Robert Ito was not a sidekick," Max announced with disdain.
"Do you have the autopsy result?" Steve cut in, pretty sure that this conversation was about to become unhelpful, because Danny was clearly gearing up to be contradictory. "On the police detective?"
"Only the initial results." Max led them to the body, giving a quick rundown of the beginning of his exam, which verified what Steve suspected. There was no bruising or signs of violence on the body, like Wong had simply allowed her body to be drained of all blood, apparently from two small holes in the neck. Max was waiting for the toxicology report, assuming that she'd been drugged, but Steve was sure that would come up clean. Stratton didn't need to use drugs to make people cooperate. "It's a fascinating case," Max concluded. "The lack of restraints or any traces of blood on the outside of the body are not what I would have expected from this type of death."
"No traces of blood at all?" Danny asked.
"A small amount around the wound itself, but none on the clothes. It was very cleanly handled. Almost like a vampire," Max said, with a shrug of his shoulders to indicate he was being ironic.
If he only knew his comment was right on the mark.
Staring down at Wong's face, still and peaceful in death, like she'd simply accepted being drained of her life without any attempt to fight, Steve knew what he had to do.
The rest of the day passed the same as the morning, in the kind of standard police investigation done for any murder. They talked to Wong's distraught sister, who had known Nancy was irritated with Five-O hogging all the high-profile cases, but not aware of any enemies her sister might have had. She gave them names of Nancy's closest friends, who could only confirm the same information. Finally, they returned to their headquarters, reading through her files, Steve pretending he thought there might be some value in them.
Natua called to give Steve a report of what they'd found at the resort, which was nothing very useful, and Steve dutifully provided information in return.
Steve finally left early to take care of the one preparation he had to make, covertly instructing Kono and Chin to keep an eye on Danny. He wasn't surprised when they reported that Danny had knocked off work on time, eaten dinner by himself in his apartment, and drove out to the resort to see Stratton. He ran through the plan with them quickly on the phone, all of them hoping their assumptions on how vampires worked and their capabilities were correct. Stratton was only one individual though, and they'd gone into more dangerous situations with no plan at all.
Outside of Stratton's bungalow, Steve breathed slow and easy, centering himself, focusing on what he needed to do. He would have liked to know more about Stratton's nature, but he couldn't let him kill anyone else or keep using Danny.
The bungalow was high quality construction, and he doubted he'd be able to kick in the door, so he knocked. Loudly. Steve had never hesitated to use a direct approach. After a brief delay, Stratton opened it.
"We need to talk."
"Commander. I've been expecting you. Daniel and I have been having a most interesting chat. He's quite loquacious when asked direct questions."
"I want you to release him from your control."
Stratton ran a finger down the side of Steve's face, as Steve forced himself not to flinch away. "You really are quite charming, Commander. Strong and handsome, even if you have more balls than brains."
"Let me in. I want to see Danny. I'm not leaving here without him."
Stratton shrugged and walked into the room. Steve palmed a piece of duct tape over the bungalow's magnetic door plate, blessing Stratton's overconfidence, before following him. "Your boss is here, pet. He doesn't know I own you now."
Danny stood in the center of the room, motionless. His tie was gone, several buttons on his shirt undone. Stratton had drunk from him, for the very last time. "Steve. You shouldn't be here."
"See? Even my pet agrees."
"Does he have any choice to disagree? What did you do to him?"
"I needed his cooperation." Stratton lounged on the couch, studying his nails, like he was considering if he needed a manicure, fueling Steve's desire to hit him. "When I realized he was a police officer, I thought I could ask him to vouch for me, but his will is unusually strong. So I turned him into a pet."
Was 'pet' more than a sickening term of endearment? "What does that mean, to be a vampire's pet?"
Stratton laughed, his chuckle surprisingly deep, and fangs glinted in his mouth. "There may actually be a little hope for you, since you've managed to accept the idea of my existence. Most people are too blind to accept reality, and popular entertainment has been so helpful at creating such ridiculous misperceptions."
"I figured Hollywood got a few things wrong when you were out in the sun today."
"Yes, the supposed sun allergy has always been amusing. We tend to feed at night because it's easier to go unnoticed, that's all. And thus a legend was born."
"When you fed on Danny, is that how you changed him into a pet?"
"If it was only feeding, it would be too easy to accidentally create a pet." Stratton smiled affectionately at Danny, like he was a very faithful dog. "Pets are special. He's tied to me forever. He'll live – well, a very long time, though not as long as I have. But primarily you can think of him as my own personal blood bank."
"Since you have Danny to feed on, why did you kill Nancy Wong?"
"The foolish woman thought I'd cooperate with a police investigation. She was obviously going to be a nuisance. I do believe she was fixated on you, Commander." He rose from the couch, still smiling. "And now I think I'll have a nice, large meal, tall and dark, followed by a dessert of short and blond." His tongue ran over his lips, exposing the fangs again. "Delicious."
"I don't think so." Steve pulled out his gun, aiming it at Stratton. "Thomas Stratton, I am placing you under arrest for the murder of Nancy Wong. Put your arms over your head and kneel on the ground."
Stratton's smile grew broader and more unpleasant. "There is one element that the stories always get correct – our strength and speed." He flew at Steve, knocking the gun away, and shoved one hand at his chest.
Steve went flying backwards, his spine connecting painfully with the wall, the force knocking the breath from his lungs. As he slid to the ground, he wondered if for once in his life, he hadn't bitten off more than he could chew by tackling a blood-sucking vampire with super strength and the powers of mesmerism.
He gasped, struggling to get his breath back, wondering how he'd gone from protecting his country overseas, to defending his beloved state, to fighting a creature that shouldn't exist.
Self-doubt was a rarity for him, and not one he could tolerate. He lurched to his feet, knowing he had to fight back, no matter what the danger or consequences. He had to, for Danny's sake.
With a hand on each side of Steve's torso, Stratton picked him up like he was a Barbie doll. "You are quite pretty. It's almost a shame to have to destroy you."
He had to play for time. "Please – at least let Danny go. His daughter – "
"Yes, I've heard quite a lot about the daughter. Perhaps I'll turn her in 15 years or so. I've never had a father and daughter set before."
Danny made a strangled groan, but he didn't move. Stratton bent his head, his fangs sinking into the flesh of Steve's throat. Steve winced from the pain, feeling his blood run into Stratton's mouth. It wasn't quite as bad as being shot, but it was unpleasantly close. "Now!" he yelled, even as he slammed his fist into Stratton's groin, hoping vampires were as vulnerable as humans.
Snarling, Stratton released him, bending over in pain, his eyes glowing like molten gold. Kono and Chin barreled in. Their guns were drawn, ready to shoot, but they hesitated at his closeness to Steve.
"Shoot him!" Steve yelled, dropping to the ground as both fired, multiple bullets hitting Stratton. He didn't go down immediately, beginning to launch himself toward them even as they continued shooting. Chin had popped out his clip and was reloading by the time Stratton fell. Leaping on top of Stratton, Steve flipped him over, making sure his knees were on Stratton's forearms, trapping him. He held his hands toward Kono, who threw him the pack hanging from her shoulder.
Even riddled with bullets, Stratton was still snarling, fighting, his body twisting as Steve placed the tip of the stake that he'd carved out of wood left over from his house repairs on Stratton's chest. Steve pressed harder, bearing down with all his weight and strength, and raised the mallet.
"If you do this, you condemn Daniel."
It was amazing that Stratton could talk with so many bullet holes in him, and blood burbling out of his mouth, but what was even freakier was that the holes appeared to be healing. A bullet had sliced along his cheek, and the skin was visibly knitting back together. Steve knew he didn't have a lot of time. "What do you mean?"
"I told you, he's a pet, not a human servant or fully turned. He's bound to me. He must have an alpha to survive."
"Oh really?" Steve bought the mallet crashing down on the stake, forcing it into Stratton's chest. The vampire gave a bloodcurling scream, Danny keened, and Kono gave a small gasp of surprise. "No one is going to be Danny's alpha but me."
"You're not a vampire!"
"You drank my blood, and now if I drink your blood, then I turn, right?"
There was fear in Stratton's eyes, real fear, and Steve knew he was right. Score one for something in vampire lore being correct. Nothing restrained him from killing Stratton, and both of them knew it. "You don't know anything about being a vampire! You know only legends, stories!"
"I'm a fast learner." Steve swung again, harder this time. Puncturing the human body wasn't that easy, but the ribs had been the main obstacle, and the stake was through them now. He pushed his hand into the blood spurting out of Stratton's chest, bringing it to his mouth and licking it off. He knew the taste of blood, having dealt with too many of his own injuries, but this was different, stronger. How much did he need to drink?
Then it hit his stomach, harder than the first time he'd snuck a shot of his father's whiskey on an empty stomach. He kept lapping at the blood on his skin, until forced to arch his head and yell from the pain. His body was changing, fast, feeling like it was on fire. Fangs were growing in his mouth and his muscles felt heavier, his blood thicker. Becoming a vampire wasn't a gentle transformation.
"Boss, you'd better try to keep it down or someone will hear. The last thing we need is the resort security checking in," Chin said, pulling the blinds shut.
The practicality of the words startled Steve, but he gave Chin a nod. The pain was easing as the changes finished. Steadying the stake again, he swung for a third time, feeling the resistance as the stake slammed into the ground. Stratton's body gave a final shudder. Steve scrambled in the bag for his Dad's machete.
"Are you sure that's necessary?" Kono asked him. "He looks really dead."
"Better safe than sorry. Try to get Danny to quiet down, okay?"
In his peripheral vision, he saw her crouching by Danny, shushing him and stroking his arm. It bothered him to see someone else comforting Danny, but he reminded himself that she was his team, his family, and it was better for her to focus on Danny than watch this grisly task. He'd freshly sharpened the machete that afternoon, but it still took several hacks to separate the head from the body. Maybe it wasn't essential, but like Kono, he'd watched too many horror films as a kid, films where the vampire pulled out the stake and lived again.
When Steve finished, Chin tossed him the bag he'd carried in. "An extra change of clothes was a wise decision."
Standing, Steve took stock of himself. He'd tried to plan for dealing with a vampire, but the extent of the blood splattered on him was unnerving. He glanced down at the glass coffee table, seeing his reflection. His eyes looked almost golden, much brighter than his normal hazel, transformed just like Stratton's. "Yeah."
Steve stripped off his clothes, using his turned-out shirt to wipe the blood off his face, arms and hands, before dressing in the sweats. His body didn't look different, and hopefully the gold in his eyes would dim quickly. Crossing over to Danny, he pulled him away from Kono and into his arms, tipping his head back. Danny looked in agony, trembling, still keening, though quietly under his breath. "I'm your alpha now, do you understand?"
"Stratton – "
"Stratton is dead." He gave Danny a shake. "You're mine now. Mine."
"I don't even know what he did to me. I just feel – I don't know. It's like I'm lost. A part of me is gone. It's gone, Steve."
Words weren't going to help. Hoping his instincts were correct, Steve bent his head forward, nuzzling at the bruise on Danny's neck. His fangs ached with the need to know what Danny tasted like, and he surrendered to the craving. Sweet, so sweet, but full and robust, Danny's blood filled his mouth and soul. Stronger than Stratton's, more like a 30-year-old Scotch malt than the medium-priced liquor his Dad used to drink.
"Boss?" Chin rested a hand on Steve's shoulder, shaking him. "I think that's enough. Boss?"
Chin was family; Chin was helping to protect Danny, not interfere. Steve withdrew his fangs, licking at Danny's skin, feeling the holes shrink. "Danno?"
Danny was pale, but he no longer looked emotionally devastated. "Whatever he did – you filled it."
"Good. Good." Steve gripped Danny's head, leaning down enough that their foreheads met. "You're mine now," he affirmed.
"Yeah," Danny agreed, before rising unsteadily to his feet.
"You guys should get out of here and let us dispose of the body," Chin said. "I brought supplies."
"No." Danny separated from Steve, and shook his head, but his hand found Steve's like he still needed to be touching. "You've been watching too much 'Dexter.'"
"You have a better plan?"
"Yeah, because I know what Steve can do. One of you guys go get a wagon. We take the body to the morgue and call Max in. Tell him he should write up a report saying Stratton died from multiple bullet wounds in the chest and incinerate the body before anyone else can see it. Then Steve and I report that we came to talk to him, that he confessed to the killing and attacked us and we shot him in self-defense. Nice and clean, and most importantly, the HPD doesn't keep investigating Nancy's death and her family has closure that her murderer paid for his crime."
"You think that'll work?" Steve asked cautiously, though he was relieved that Danny seemed to have snapped back to himself.
Danny looked at Steve, and the emotion in Danny's eyes – it was the first time Steve had really thought about what it must have been like for him, floating in and out of knowing he was being controlled. "You may need to practice a bit, but I know that you can tell Max he examined a body with bullet wounds and he'll believe that for the rest of his life."
"Or better yet," Chin suggested, "we could first try explaining the situation to Max and ask him to cooperate. Max is a pretty adaptable guy."
"Oh yeah." Danny waved his hands wide. "Because hi, Max, Steve staked a guy through the heart and cut off his head because he's a vampire. Sure, anyone would believe that story."
"Let's try it that way first," Steve decided, reluctant to start trying to hypnotize someone on his first day of being a vampire.
"I'll get the wagon," Kono said.
It took most of the night to finish dealing with Stratton's body. Max proved to be convincible, and Steve was trying not to speculate whether his soft but intense, "Believe us," had been the deciding factor. Once on board, Max had even been helpful in positioning the body and the detached head for a few carefully taken photos that would help close out the case file. Steve and Danny polished their story of how the confrontation had gone while the others made sure the forensic evidence matched.
Dawn was almost up when Steve drove Danny home, aware that he wanted it to be their home now. He felt bound to the other man, and reluctant to imagine letting Danny leave him at the end of each work day. At first, they could say they were roommates. Steve had inherited an entire house; Danny didn't need to waste money paying rent. Rachel would likely figure out the truth, but hopefully Grace would remain oblivious for a long time.
Still, she seemed a resilient child who coped well with divorced parents. Maybe Daddy having a boyfriend wouldn't freak her out too much. Would they ever be able to tell her the truth of what they were now? What would happen when they didn't age like everyone else? How old had Stratton been?
More to the point, how had Stratton let Danny leave him each day? Had he been so old and jaded that his connection to his pet wasn't this soul-deep need to possess him? Or was that Steve's emotions more than his vampiric nature?
As they walked into the house, Steve shoved the worries aside. Dwelling on the future had never been his strong suit anyway. They would deal with problems as they arose. "We need to shower," he said, which Danny answered, "Jesus, yes."
Reaching the bathroom, Danny said, "I don't suppose – no, never mind." He stripped as he entered, dropping his clothes on the floor. "I'm not going to have any more privacy from you, I can tell that." Steve took off his own clothes and threw everything in the hamper, relieved that Danny seemed to be thinking along the same lines as Steve. Danny stepped into the shower and turned on the water. "I won't ask how hot you like it. You could take anything before; you're going to be insufferable now, aren't you?"
"I thought I've always been insufferable." Steve joined him, picking up the soap and working up a lather.
Danny didn't protest when Steve began washing him. "More insufferable. Freaking Ninja SEAL vampire. You could take over the world if you wanted to."
"I don't want to. I don't ever want to become like Stratton. I just want to take care of you and Grace and Chin and Kono and the islands. And figure out what's happened to us and learn how to deal with it."
"We're a vampire and a vampire's pet, that's what happened to us. I cannot believe this is my life." Despite his grumbling, Danny eyes drifted shut, his face peaceful, his shoulders relaxing with the release of tension, turning his body as Steve's hands moved him.
Steve washed him from face to feet, noting each bruise, reminding himself that he'd killed Stratton already. Danny was tough and resilient, but he seemed vulnerable and defenseless. He could tell they were going to have a whole new topic for argument, as Steve had to balance his dedication to duty, which so often meant dragging Danny into danger, and his growing urge to protect and shelter him. His partner might bitch about occasionally getting shot, but he also wouldn't appreciate being coddled.
"I could try to turn you," Steve offered, even as he hoped Danny declined. Could a vampire even drink from another vampire? And if not, could he give up Danny's blood? He almost wished he'd had more time to interrogate to Stratton, but no. The other vampire needed to be dead.
"Nah. This is freaky enough for now."
Steve breathed a sigh of relief, and spurted some shampoo into his hand, washing Danny's hair. The blond hair was finer than he'd realized, and felt good in his hands.
"You're going to dry me off next and take me to bed and do wicked things to me while you drink my blood, aren't you?"
He wanted to; he needed to know the sensation of Danny closing tight around him, moaning in his arms. All night, using his new vampire strength and stamina, until Danny was utterly limp in his arms. He was getting hard thinking about it. "Probably," he equivocated.
Danny snorted, bumping his ass against Steve's groin, indicating he knew Steve wasn't being fully truthful. "You'd better start buying me a lot of steak. And you're paying." His eyes opened as Steve maneuvered him under the spray, rinsing his hair off. They were beautifully blue, with a shadow of pain, despite the teasing in his words.
Though he sighed, Danny looked at Steve clear and direct, honest as ever. "Look, I'm just going to need some time to adjust. I feel like I was in a fog the last two days, forgetting patches of time, sayings things he told me to say, and now you're here and it's like I can feel you everywhere and it feels good but I don't even know what he did to me. Did he only drink my blood?"
"I don't know. Here," Steve encouraged Danny out of the shower, handing him a towel. "Go ahead and dry off. I'll just be a sec." He finished showering quickly, making sure all the blood was washed off, and grabbed more towels, wrapping one around his hips, and running the other through his hair as he entered the bedroom. Danny was sitting on the edge of the bed, towel wrapped around his hips, his skin dry but his hair still wet and slicked back. Kneeling by his feet, Steve rested his hands on Danny's lower thighs. "Are you sure you want to know what happened?"
"Yeah. I do."
"Then remember, Danny. Remember." He imbued his words with the power he felt, this strange ability to control others. It was unnerving, though he couldn't help but anticipate how much easier it might make questioning suspects. "I'm your alpha. Do what I tell you. You met him at the resort, with Gracie. He was arguing with step-Stan. Picture him. You went with him to the bar. Remember *everything.*"
Danny's eyes went blank, unfocused, and then cleared as he shuddered. "Jesus, that almost made me dizzy. The last two days rushed through my brain in full-blown Technicolor."
Steve didn't want to ask, because he'd go crazy if Stratton had taken sexual advantage of Danny, but he had to know. "Did he do anything to you?"
"Other than control me, make me lie, and drink my blood?" Danny stared at Steve. "I don't want to tell you the details. You don't need to know."
"Danny," Steve said, troubled that Danny was keeping secrets from him. "I want to know what he did to you."
"No." Danny shook his head. "Don't ask me, Steve. This isn't about what he did to me. This is about the fact that no one needs to know how to control another person like he could control me. Yeah, you're my alpha and I don't know if that can be broken. I don't want it to be. And you can probably make me tell you. I'm asking you don't."
The temptation was strong. It would be so easy. Tell me, then forget. Forget what he did, forget that you told me. Only he'd be abusing Danny's trust and setting himself up to become a smug, arrogant bastard like Stratton had been. "I promise, Danny. I will never ask you. And if you decide you need to talk about it, I will listen and never use that knowledge. Never." He couldn't imagine feeling this connected to anyone else anyway.
Danny visibly relaxed. "Thank you." He put his hands over Steve's, massaging his fingers. "And can you relax your grip now? You're going to cut off my circulation."
Steve flinched, releasing his hold on Danny's legs. He hadn't even realized that he'd been squeezing so hard. "I'm sorry."
"How much stronger are you?"
Turning his hand over, Steve flexed his fingers, curling them into a fist, watching the muscles of his arm move under his skin. "Strong."
"At least you'll be able to mind whammy information out of perps. No more need to dangle anyone off of buildings."
"As long as they're susceptible. You weren't."
"Yeah." Danny sighed. "Well, if they won't talk, try to not hurt them accidentally, okay?"
"I'll do some workouts this week, make sure I know my limits," Steve promised.
"What else do you think you've got? Strength, mind control, fangs, is that all? Are you going to start flying or turning into a bat? Stratton didn't exactly chat with me. It's too bad real vampires don't sparkle in the sunlight, or he would never have come to Hawaii."
"Sparkle?" Steve asked, amused at the thought.
"You don't want to know."
Steve shrugged, accepting Danny's words. "I don't know what's true and what's not. I promise I'll find out about what's happened to us." There wasn't anyone he'd rather have at his side to help him deal with this transformation. He hoped Danny felt the same.
"We'll both find out," Danny corrected him, sliding his fingers up Steve's arm, curling them into his short, damp hair.
"I should go." Steve stood abruptly. The urge to take Danny, to press him into the bed, was overwhelming, but Steve was bitterly conscious that Stratton hadn't given Danny any choices, and Steve could too easily fall into that pattern. He was Danny's alpha, and he knew that meant he needed to take care of Danny, but the references to Stratton affirmed Steve's determination to not become a tyrant.
"Yeah?" Danny plucked at Steve's towel, pulling it loose. "Leaving is about the worst idea you've ever had. If you've got some crazy idea you need to be noble – "
"You didn't want me before this thing happened between us."
Danny contradicted him. "I didn't show you I wanted you before this thing happened between us, because I'm not normally stupid enough to sleep with my boss. And you're still my boss, but you're a whole lot more now."
"Danny – " Steve stroked his thumb over Danny's wrist, staring at the fine veins under his skin.
"Steve, seriously. Don't be stupid. Unless you don't want me?"
With a groan, Steve succumbed to the inevitable, because there was no way he could let Danny believe he didn't want him. Trust Danny to get in his face over everything, even Steve's need for him. He covered Danny with his body, thrusting his tongue into Danny's mouth as he opened the towel around Danny's waist, baring his body to his touch.
Steve flicked back the covers and urged Danny to lie on the sheets, pulling off his towel. He'd always known Danny was hot, but nothing quite prepared him for how his body and emotions would react to a naked, willing Danny in his bed.
Laying his hands flat on Danny's chest, Steve stroked his ripped abs, feeling the softness of his hair and skin overlaying his powerful torso.
"I'm not glass. Just because you're stronger doesn't mean I'm weak."
"I could… really let go," Steve admitted with reluctance. "I don't want to hurt you."
"Macho boy. Macho ninja SEAL vampire." Danny's voice was fond, as his fingers ran through Steve's short hair. "Come on, stop playing."
The fear that Danny didn't know what he was asking for was powerful, and Steve swore that he would make this enjoyable. Nudging Danny's legs apart, Steve settled between his thighs, bending his head, licking lightly at his half-hard cock. Danny gave a happy moan and Steve looked up at him, making sure the head of Danny's cock rested on his lips. No man could resist the eroticism of lips around his dick, and Danny was no exception.
"Jesus. You've done that before, haven't you?"
Shooting him a 'don't be an idiot' look, Steve filled his mouth with Danny's cock, sucking intensely as he bobbed his head, pausing frequently to lick his tongue over the head, tasting Danny's pre-come.
Pleasure limited Danny to moans and inarticulate mutterings of obscenities. His hips bucked, trying to drive his cock deeper in Steve's mouth, but Steve held his hips in a grip of steel. He was going to love Danny at his own pace.
Not that Danny surrendered easily, instead curling his hands around Steve's skull, trying to force his head down. Steve resisted, blowing him leisurely until Danny relaxed his hands, resting them by his sides, and simply enjoyed, until he made a final strangled sound, half-moan, half-yell, and came.
"You taste good." Steve pressed Danny down with his full body, sharing the flavor that lingered on his lips.
Danny licked at Steve's lips. "That's so pervy."
"I'm going to do everything with you." Steve waited until Danny's eyes met his fully, until he saw acknowledgement and acceptance.
Danny's teeth nipped at Steve's lower lip. "You're not chasing me away, babe."
For that sentiment, Steve had to kiss him more, long, thorough kisses, trying to tell Danny how much he loved him with his lips. How it drove him a little bit crazy to know that Danny was his now, forever and ever. Danny responded fully, gripping Steve as tightly as he was being held. Gentling the kiss, Steve released Danny's lips to fumble in the nightstand, finding his lube and slicking up his fingers. "Have you done this?" Damn, he shouldn't have asked that, because Stratton -
But Danny was already smiling ruefully. "You will be going where no man but my proctologist has gone. And I'm counting on you to make it more enjoyable, because that was embarrassingly awkward and uncomfortable."
Steve laughed, burying his head in Danny's neck, kissing the unmarked side as he opened up Danny, made him slick and stretched, one finger, then two and finally three, teasing the spot that made Danny give little gasps until his hips were restless and twitching, his cock erect, poking into Steve's skin.
"Yeah, here we go." Steve repositioned himself, gripped Danny's hips again, saw Danny flinch and knew with a gut-deep satisfaction that bruises would develop. He thrust in, watching the expressions chase over Danny's face, the initial discomfort before acceptance and then pleasure. Danny panted, his eyelids fluttering as Steve fucked him hard and deep.
He waited until Danny came, his thighs squeezing Steve's hips, before sinking his fangs into Danny's throat, into the holes Stratton had created. Blood rushed into his mouth, sweet and filling as his orgasm hit him, burning hotter than the Hawaiian sun.
Later, after Steve had let Danny rest a while, licked and kissed him all over until they both revived, then taken him again, and Danny was exhausted underneath him, Steve nuzzled at his neck, feeling the hint of fangs. When he was touching Danny, they constantly felt ready to emerge. They descended rapidly whenever he was ready to feed, but thankfully shrunk equally fast.
He hoped the dentist wouldn't notice anything funky at his next visit. Did vampires even need regular dental care?
Danny's fingers laid on the swell of his ass, occasionally twitching, like he didn't have the strength for actually stroking Steve's butt, but didn't want to stop touching him. "Jesus, do not tell me you're ready for a third round."
"Not yet." Soon though, which Danny seemed to understand.
"Freaking Ninja SEAL vampire."
"Look on the bright side."
Danny squinted at him with one eye opened. "The bright side? What, longer life for both of us, greater strength for you, being a daily blood bank for my boss, this weird bond we have?"
Steve smiled, rubbing his thumb over the bruise on the base of Danny's throat, pleased at how the touch made Danny shiver. "I'll never bother you about wearing a tie again."
~ the end ~