"I love you, son. I'm sorry I didn't tell you often enough," and Hesse's snarled, "My brother's dead, isn't he? Then so's your father," then a shot and his own voice yelling, "No, no, no!" and more gunfire as everything went to hell. Those words and noises repeated over and over again, endlessly in his mind, trapping him with no way out. So close to the end of his mission, but he'd failed and his dad had paid the price, his dad who said, "I love you, son," before Hesse had snarled…
And then a scent, a scent that wasn't gunfire or death, but… coffee. A male, musky smell, but clean, traces of aftershave and soap. Sweet, greasy malasadas.
Steve latched onto that blended scent, focused, let it carry him away from Korea and the guilt of being responsible for his dad's murder.
"He's been catatonic since his father's death?" the voice associated with the scent said.
"He's a very strong Sentinel, but unbonded. A zone-out in such traumatic circumstances isn't unusual, but the officer working as his Guide was killed in the incident, which compounded the problem. They sent him here in the hopes that he would be well enough for his father's funeral, but we've had extreme difficulty pulling him out. A Guide who specializes in zone-outs is flying in from the Sentinel Center to try to help him."
"There was a Sentinel who worked with the police force in Jersey. It was amazing what she could do, but I never saw one of her zone-outs last longer than a few minutes."
"Most of Commander McGarrett's Sentinel and Navy records are classified, but he appears to be exceptionally powerful, which is unfortunately both a blessing and a curse. His power makes him especially vulnerable."
The scent and the voice came closer and as they did, Steve's sense of smell widened, taking stock of his environment. He was somewhere institutional, medical, the stench of unhealthy bodies imperfectly masked by the noxious intensity of powerful cleaners. A facility for normals then, not Sentinels. Sentinel facilities only used organic cleaners.
The voice/scent was right in front of him now, and Steve's senses refocused. Coffee, aftershave, soap, malasadas, the smell of a gun, unfired since its last cleaning, and something unique, hidden from him by silk and cotton.
"Commander McGarrett, I know you may not understand what I'm saying, but I'm Detective Danny Williams and I'm working on your father's case. I'm going to find Victor Hesse and put him away for the rest of his life. I promise you that."
The scent was powerful, compelling, but the masked undertone drove Steve crazy. He raised his head from where he'd kept it buried in his legs – Jesus, days? Had he really stay curled in a fetal position for days? – and lunged, knocking the man crouched in front of him to the floor. Sprawling on top of Detective Danny Williams, Steve pinned his legs down with his own and tore at the tie circling his throat. He needed that smell.
"Jesus, what is wrong with you? What are you doing? Get off me!"
"Detective!" the doctor spoke sharply. "Please relax. Let him do what he needs to do. He's coming out of his zone-out. This is a major breakthrough."
"Relax? I've got a Neanderthal pawing at me and I'm supposed to relax? How is attacking me a breakthrough?"
Despite his complaining, Danny wasn't fighting, and Steve could feel him relaxing his tense muscles. The acceptance pleased Steve, but made him no less desperate to eliminate the barriers that prevented him from smelling Danny's neck.
"Hey, I'm fond of that tie," Danny said, as Steve tossed it away. "My daughter bought me that tie. Thank you, Doctor, if you could hold onto it. I'll put it back on as soon as this madman releases me."
"Detective, were you tested as a Guide?"
"No, I had tonsillitis when they came to my school. My family's always tested high on the empathy scale, but low on the Guide scale, so my parents didn't worry about taking me to a testing facility. They had five kids to juggle. There wasn't time for pointless errands."
"It appears that you should have been tested. I think the results might have been surprising."
Finally, Steve had enough of the buttons undone that he could bury his head in Danny's neck, finding the exact scent he'd craved without even knowing what it was. It was like nothing else he'd smelled, except it was every smell he associated with comfort and home.
Danny was petting his back, strokes that started awkwardly, but become long, gentling slides of his hand down the length of Steve's spine. "I can't be a Guide. I'm a cop."
"Commander McGarrett?" The doctor knelt by them, keeping a respectful distance. Getting close to a Sentinel and Guide at their first meeting was dangerous. "Steve? Can you talk now?"
Steve was suddenly, acutely conscious that he was dressed in hospital scrubs, and lying on top of someone who regarded him as a stranger. His weakness in zoning-out in a field in Korea and the desperation with which he'd latched onto Danny should have been mortifying, except nothing mattered next to finding his Guide. Finally, after searching for 19 years, and Danny was here, waiting for him in Hawaii. All he needed to do was come home.
He touched his tongue to Danny's skin, wanting to know his taste as well as his smell. "Cops can be Guides. You're my Guide." He lifted his head enough so they could look each other in the eye. His Guide's appearance was attractive, a blue-eyed blond with scruff on his face like he needed to shave twice a day. Not that physical looks mattered much. The connection between Sentinel and Guide was soul-deep.
"I am the detective investigating your father's death, for which let me offer you my sincere condolences. Now can you get off me and let me do my job? I came here hoping to ask about your last conversation with your father."
Though Danny grumbled, he didn't stop petting Steve. Danny was about his age, an adult with no Guide in his family history, or any expectation of being one. Steve's mind was clear enough to realize that Danny's body was responding purely on instinct even as his logical mind denied their connection.
News of his mother's death had brought him online when he was a teenager obsessed with football and surfing. Both events had been shocking, but his uncle and grandfather had been Sentinels, so no one was surprised by Steve's status, only by his continuing failure to find a permanent Guide. His own determination and temporary Guides had allowed him to handle his powers, but he'd always known something was missing. He would never feel fully complete as a Sentinel until he was bonded to his Guide. It was painful to realize that Danny was verbally rejecting him, but Steve also felt a possessive satisfaction that he had never assisted another Sentinel. He would only ever know Steve's imprint.
"Yes, of course. Ask any questions you need." Steve levered himself up, helped Danny stand, but had to catch Danny's hand again as he started to rebutton his shirt. "Leave it open, please." Scent alone wasn't enough, not nearly enough, but it would help Steve stay functioning until Danny would allow a full bonding.
The request didn't please Danny, his face tightening into a grimace, but he conceded without objection, instead pulling a notebook from his back pocket, and started asking questions. Danny's presence made it possible for Steve to safely revisit those last horrifying moments of his father's life, recounting their discussion and confirming that Hesse had been the one to kill his father. The HPD must have been told the basic details by one of the other guys in his unit. Steve realized guiltily that he wasn't even sure who had survived, other than Alan hadn't. His temporary Guide hadn't been one of the people gently shaking him, trying to restore him to sanity.
The doctor learned against the wall by the door, watching them, judging their relationship as Sentinel and Guide.
"Okay, thank you for your information and I'm very happy to have helped with the zone-out thing, though I recommend that next time you need someone's assistance, you try to not knock them over. It's bad form to show your appreciation by giving someone a permanent back injury."
"Detective Williams, I don't think you understand your situation. You seem to be Commander McGarrett's Guide. As such – "
Raising his hand sharply, Steve cut off the doctor's spiel, which he knew would have included, 'You'll be transferred to the Navy after testing, bonding, and more testing.' Steve was operating on full thrusters again, and thinking fast. Though he knew very little about his Guide, he recognized his inherent sense of responsibility, a common characteristic of Sentinels and Guides. Danny hadn't been waiting almost two decades for Steve to appear and rearrange his life. He had goals and an image of himself, which would take time to change. Though Steve was well aware that dominance was one of his most prominent personality traits, his Sentinel nature also made him protective. As much as he could, he would ease Danny into their relationship. "Doctor, the most important thing now is catching my father's murderer and Detective Williams has a job to do. Determining his Guide status can wait." To Danny he added, "I have extensive knowledge regarding Victor Hesse, which I believe would help your investigation. I'd like to tag along with you for a while and assist with the case."
Danny appeared uneasy. "You haven't even been released from the hospital. Shouldn't you rest for a while?"
The doctor was similarly unhappy. "Protocol for a new Sentinel-Guide – "
Pointing a finger at Danny, Steve ordered, "Wait here." He grabbed the doctor's arm, and hustled him out of the room, coming to a stop in the middle of the corridor, ignoring as visitors and patients ebbed and flowed around them. "He is my Guide and I will handle how our pairing develops."
"I have medical responsibilities in a case like this. I am required to report any new Sentinels or Guides to the Sentinel Center for testing and training."
Steve's voice dropped low, dangerous, the intensity in his eyes not allowing the doctor to look away. "There is no case like this. I've waited 19 years for that man, who didn't even know he's a Guide. You will stay out of our relationship."
The doctor's heart rate increased satisfactorily, and a few drops of sweat appeared on his brow, both signaling a fear response. The zone-out hadn't impacted Steve's ability to intimidate, nor his Sentinel senses. "I have to report to the Sentinel Center that you've found your Guide. I can be censured for failure to do so."
"Fine, report it, but let them know that any communication with Danny goes through me."
Without waiting for a response, Steve yanked Danny's tie from the doctor's hand and returned to the room, where Danny stood hesitantly waiting.
"Look, I gotta go – "
"No, wait a second. I can help you with Hesse." He handed the tie to Danny, who took it and started to loop it around his neck. "Please, leave it off." With a sigh, Danny folded it nicely and tucked it into his back pocket. Satisfied with Danny's obedience, Steve opened the top drawer on the dresser, discovering that someone must have sent his clothes along with him. The Navy always took good care of their Sentinels. He stripped off the hospital scrubs, noting that Danny averted his eyes as he rapidly dressed in a plain t-shirt and cargo pants, forgoing his uniform. No matter. After their physical bonding, Danny would be comfortable with his body. His duffel bag was by the dresser, and Steve dumped all his clothes in it, finding his toiletry bag in the bathroom and adding it too. His cell phone and holster were present, but no gun, which wasn't surprising. He'd have to check in later, make sure that it had been properly returned to the armory. "Thirty more seconds," he said, sitting on the bed to put on socks and shoes.
"Don't you need to check out?"
"Sentinels get a few special privileges and one of them is being allowed to move fast when we're on a mission."
Danny gave Steve a look like maybe he thought he was crazy, why would anyone rush out of the hospital and into a homicide investigation, but didn't argue. "Okay. Let's go."
Amy had been the brightest of the five Williams siblings, the straight A student and class valedictorian, but Danny wasn't a slouch in the brains department, and he wasn't ignorant. Sentinels and Guides were a small percentage of the population, but they were considered incredibly important and highly-respected, and Steve would be even more so as a Navy SEAL. The relationships between Sentinels and their Guides had been fodder for countless tabloid stories, a few dozen books, and even a movie or two. The tales always seemed exaggerated, and the Sentinel Center refused to provide detailed information, emphasizing the need to respect the privacy of the Sentinels and their Guides. However, a consistent theme was that Sentinels weren't able to function without their Guides, and a Guide's life was considered secondary to fulfilling a Sentinel's needs.
Danny had moved to Hawaii to be with his daughter. He couldn't, wouldn't, become a Guide for a Naval Intelligence officer, someone who could be posted anywhere in the world. He should have slugged Steve for invading his space, tossed him off, and scrammed, removing himself from what promised to be an impossible situation. Williams didn't normally do denial, but desperate times called for desperate measures.
Instead, he'd let Steve rest on him, partially undress him, breathe on him, even touch the tip of his tongue to Danny's skin. And what he done in response to these presumptuous liberties? Petted him, while wondering if they'd been able to feed him during the catatonia, or if he was normally that gaunt in appearance. Surely, somewhere between Korea and Hawaii, they'd at least hooked up an IV for nutrition?
The only thing he'd managed to not do was watch Steve undress and redress, though keeping his eyes studying the floor had been ridiculously difficult. He'd wanted to look. Steve's hospital scrubs had started to come off and Danny had wondered about the extent of his body hair, whether his muscles looked as good as they felt, and the full design of the tattoos on his shoulders. Jesus, even whether he was cut, a fact about which Danny had never cared or considered his business.
What made Steve so special? Made Danny so interested in him? Was this the bond Sentinels and Guides were supposed to share?
Damn it, they weren't going to share a bond because Danny's bond with Gracie was sacred, special, and came first, from the moment of her birth until the day he died.
"Bad news?" Danny asked abruptly as he drove down the street, glancing over at Steve sitting in the passenger seat. He was thumbing through text messages on his phone, his face set in hard lines.
"Messages from the guys in my unit who survived the attack by Hesse's gunship and a list of the people who didn't."
"That's tough news, especially just after getting out of the hospital." Maybe he should return Steve to the hospital and let him be fully evaluated. And then run away, really quickly.
"I saw most of them go down. This is only confirmation."
His voice sounded as hard as his face looked, like he was accustomed to dealing with bad news, but Danny sensed he was hiding a deep hurt at the thought of losing his team members. "I'm sorry," he said simply, because he guessed Steve wasn't the kind of guy who would want a lot of gushing sympathy, but Danny couldn't ignore someone's loss. "Are you hungry?" he asked, to change the subject. "You look skinny."
"You don't like how I look?"
"Did I say that? I did not say I don't like how you look."
"You said I was skinny and wanted to feed me. That implies you don't like how I look." Steve sounded exceedingly growly for someone reacting like a teenage girl.
"No, it only implies that you've been in the hospital for several days and hospitals have crappy food. Is this what you're like, you go straight from catatonia to argumentia?"
"Argumentia isn't a word."
"I know that. I was rhyming catatonia. Do you want to eat or not? No, never mind. That's not a question. We're eating."
"You're stopping here? This is a tourist trap." The last place Steve needed to be right now was near the memorial to Pearl Harbor, commemorating where his paternal grandfather was buried under the sea. Not so soon after coming out of a major zone-out and finding his Guide.
"The food's decent and I usually get to hear east coast accents. Come on, let's eat. You need to eat."
Danny's insistence on Steve's physical condition was heartwarming, a hopeful sign that his Guide protectiveness toward his Sentinel kicking in. Steve let himself be herded out of the car and toward the cafeteria, dutifully ordering a teriyaki burger and fries, letting Danny pay since he didn't have any American money in his wallet.
"Pineapple on a burger is just wrong," Danny commented, wolfing down his chicken sandwich.
"You don't like pineapple?"
"I like pineapple okay for a fruit. But fruit is not supposed to be on a burger."
"Tomatoes are a fruit."
"Tomatoes are special. Everyone thinks they're a vegetable."
If there was anything Steve had expected of his Guide, it was not the joy he'd get from bantering with him. So much for the stereotype that Sentinels and Guides were always harmonious. "So ignorance makes a combination of food acceptable?"
Steve glanced at the man standing by their table. Asian, good-looking, a little older than him, wearing a shirt with the insignia of a private security force. "Chin Ho Kelly?"
Chin smiled at the recognition. "You remember me."
"You were my dad's partner. And a great football player."
They shook hands, Steve pleased to see someone from his youth, but surprised to see him working at this tourist trap. Second job? Hawaii could be an expensive place to live, and a cop's salary wasn't extravagant. Not his business to ask though, as he gestured to his Guide, who was already offering his hand.
"Detective Danny Williams, HPD."
Chin froze momentarily before recovering his façade of politeness, Steve noted automatically. Something had happened between him and the HPD, something bad that made him hesitate before talking to someone who should be regarded as his colleague.
"You two been friends for a long time?" Chin asked casually. "I've seen a lot of old married couples and you argue just like one."
Even as he guessed that the remark on their relationship was meant as a distraction, Steve cherished that he and his Guide appeared to be close, even if inclined to bickering. "Actually, we just met."
Comprehension crossed Chin's face as he looked at Danny. "You're the detective investigating Jack's death. I'd heard it was a - mainlander."
'Haole,' he'd meant to say, but even switching to the less offensive 'mainlander' hadn't covered his surprise at Danny's assignment.
"You say that like it's a bad thing," Danny said, bristling. Steve stifled a smile at his Guide's quick temper. Conventional wisdom said that the best Sentinel-Guide pairings had both complementary and contradictory personality traits. He'd always been slow to get mad, but he guessed both of them were relentless when angered.
"It surprised me, that's all," Chin admitted. "Jack was one of the Force's most respected officers. I expected an entire taskforce, not one guy."
"Sometimes you only need the right guy," Steve defended Danny's selection, though he knew Chin was right. Assigning only one detective, and a newcomer to the island, implied HPD thought finding Victor Hesse was a lost cause. "And I'm helping him now. I'm the foremost expert on Hesse."
"I hope you find him quickly. Jack's killer should be behind bars." Someone called his name, and Chin glanced at the girl behind the cash register, who looked like she needed help with an obnoxious tourist. "I have to go, but if there's anything I can do to help, let me know."
As Chin walked over to the counter and inserted himself smoothly into the dispute, Steve made a mental note to explore his circumstances. Any partner of his dad's working as a rubber gun had to be a waste of resources.
Leaving the cafeteria, Steve took a second to stare out at the ocean, realizing that being near the site of his grandfather's sacrifice hadn't crossed his mind once while they were eating, his thoughts too occupied with his Guide.
Watching Steve prowl through his family home was enlightening and disturbingly hot. And prowl was indeed the right verb, Danny decided, as the man moved with the intensity and stealth of a big jungle cat on the hunt.
Did he have a spirit animal or whatever it was called? That seemed to be a big part of popular Sentinel mythology. A large cat would certainly be appropriate.
Steve clearly knew the basics of investigation, not surprising since he was in Naval Intelligence. He studied footprints and dust patterns, using supplies at hand and his phone to reveal and capture fingerprints. Danny thought about pointing out he had a fingerprint kit in the trunk of his car, but he liked watching Steve work. The man was clearly intelligent and creative.
"My dad hated computers, but a laptop was here."
"Probably someone working for Hesse, using it to triangulate your cell phone." They'd learned that much from one of the guys in Steve's unit who had survived the attack by the gunship, since Steve hadn't been talking.
"And at least a partial here. Forensics hasn't been out yet?"
"They're backed up and they didn't think it was that urgent, since we know who we're looking for," Danny explained, though privately he wondered if it was another slap at the new mainlander cop. Only his partner Meka had welcomed him, many of the other detectives and staff at the HPD engaging in the kind of annoying, obstructive behavior that was impossible to confront or complain about, as it was too easily excused as normal workflow problems or misunderstandings.
"You don't know who the second man is. Identifying him might be a lead to Hesse's location."
"Do you know who he could be?" Danny asked, his sense of professional pride irked at being questioned. "I only ask, you being the foremost expert on Hesse and all." Why was Danny even letting Steve be here? His experience with Hesse didn't justify allowing a Navy officer to crash jurisdiction straight into a civilian investigation of his own father's death.
"He doesn't have any established contacts we've identified in Hawaii. So someone he brought with him or local talent that he hooked up with."
Danny trailed Steve into the garage, admiring the man's stride. He'd always considered himself heterosexual, but he'd never met anyone who might test that assumption like Steve. But was it Steve's own attractiveness or the Sentinel-Guide connection?
He needed to stop wondering about Steve and instead escape from him before he found himself transferred to the Navy and several countries away from his daughter.
Steve pulled the dust cover off the Mercury, his dad's old car. Its appearance was pristine, black, shiny, and gorgeous, but Steve knew appearances were deceptive. The car hadn't been driven in years, as its engine needed work. He and his sister would have to deal with this house and all his furnishings, including this car. It was theirs now, but it could wait. Danny was more important. "Why do you like to listen to east coast accents?"
"You said you liked to listen to east coast accents. Before lunch. What's wrong with Hawaiian accents?"
"There's nothing wrong with Hawaiian accents. They're fine, I'm sure, for Hawaiians. But I'm from New Jersey. I love New Jersey. I would like to return to New Jersey. So I enjoy listening to east coast accents. It's the best thing about tourist traps, since the food is usually mediocre and overpriced."
"So why are you in Hawaii?"
"Because my ex-wife moved our daughter here, and I love my daughter more than New Jersey."
The open affection in Danny's face as he talked about his daughter was startling. Steve couldn't remember his dad ever being so demonstrably happy about him or Mary. He drifted over to the 'Champion' box, opening it to see bundles of papers and tape recordings, not tools. That explained why his dad had called him Champ. He'd wanted to lead Steve here, to whatever he'd been collecting. Evidence in some sort of investigation? Then why hadn't he left it in the files at HPD when he'd retired? Decisively, Steve shut the box. The house was locked, and there was no reason to think anyone knew of the box's contents. It might be incredibly important, but the dust on the cover indicated it had been undisturbed from a long time. Bonding with Danny and finding Hesse were Steve's priorities.
"You need a screwdriver or something? You didn't zone-out again, did you?"
He'd been staring too long. "No, but I do need a gun." He headed past Danny, and into his dad's study, pulling out drawers in his desk. "Where are you in your investigation?"
"Not too far, frankly. You know Hesse is a careful man. My best lead is that I have a wiretap on a gun dealer named Doran. The bullet that killed your father matched a ballistic test done on another case, where Doran was a suspect. I think Hesse may have got his weapon from Doran."
Steve found his dad's Smith & Wesson in his bottom drawer, along with a box of clips. He held it in his hand for a few moments, feeling its weight, letting the smell of fresh gun oil tell him that his dad had kept it clean and ready for use, before loading a clip in it and sliding it into his holster. Tucking several other clips into his pants pocket, he said, "Let's go talk to Doran."
Everything went fubar at Doran's place, which proved to Danny that he needed to get better control of this situation and stop following Steve around like a puppy. They went to talk to Doran, though they should have called for back-up, and Danny got shot, the force of the bullet skimming his arm sending him crashing him off the porch. He yelled at Steve that he was okay, hearing the other man pounding after Doran as Danny struggled to his feet and followed, in time to see Doran hold a woman hostage, and Steve simply shoot him without hesitation. The woman screamed, lurching away from Doran's falling body, even as Steve ran toward him, holding his dad's gun pointed at Doran's head.
Every muscle in Steve's body was tense, poised to strike as he stood over Doran, his nostrils flaring, and Danny should not find that visual image so incredibly hot. He'd seen plenty of guys in dangerous situations, but none who looked so much like the hero of a big-budget action movie. "Steve! Steven, stop!"
Steve glanced at him, and for a second, Danny didn't think he'd gotten through to him, expecting Steve to fire several more shots into Doran's lifeless body. He had that look of someone at the end of his rope, overloaded with testosterone and aggression, fighting the urge to attack. Then Steve's entire body relaxed and he holstered his gun as he approached Danny. "You were shot, you were shot, you went down," he said, burying his face into Danny's neck like he had in the hospital, one hand curling around Danny's arm, just under the flesh wound.
"You shot my only lead. My only lead, Steven."
"He hurt you."
"It's a flesh wound."
"It could have been more. He could have killed you."
"So what? You'll kill anyone who hurts me?"
Steve raised his head from Danny's neck, looking at him with such a 'Well, yes,' expression that Danny lost his breath. "You're my Guide."
"I need to sit down," Danny said. Steve helped him to the stairs at Doran's place and fussed over him – fussed, like Danny was a little boy and Steve was his mom – until Danny batted his hands away, ordering him to call for back-up and EMTs.
Steve acted like he was the most important person in his world, like nothing else mattered except Danny's health. And Danny liked Steve's caring for him. He liked it a lot.
Screwed. He was so screwed.
Steve was finally able to make himself leave Danny after the EMTs had arrived and members of the HPD were securing the scene. Two priorities, Danny and Hesse, he reminded himself with the drive that had kept him functioning as an unbonded Sentinel, as he searched through Doran's place for any evidence that could lead to Hesse's location, finding instead a young Asian woman.
"Doran's working with human smugglers," he told Danny. "They turned the girl over to Doran as partial payment for his assistance. They must have smuggled Hesse onto the island the same way they bring in people from Asia."
"Which, gee, we could have asked Doran about, if you weren't the shoot first and ask questions later kind of guy," Danny snarked as the EMT discreetly packed up their equipment and scooted away toward the front of their vehicle.
Few people understood the compelling strength of a Sentinel's protective nature, especially when his Guide was involved. It seemed inconceivable that Danny was complaining at him for following his imperative, but Danny had never had the training he would have received if he'd been identified as a potential Guide. "He shot you."
"You were going to shoot him again, weren't you? You were going to put several more bullets in his lifeless corpse, because he hurt me. Did it occur to you that would be at best a waste of bullets and frankly, kinda disturbing?"
Steve stiffened, trying to decipher Danny's tone. Definitely aggressive, but not overtly horrified. "But I didn't," he answered, hoping that would pacify him.
"Jesus," Danny swore. "Is that the girl?" he asked.
Steve looked where Danny was looking, at the Asian girl talking with one of the police officers. He'd known enough Cantonese to reassure her, but the officer was clearly fluent. "Yes, that's her."
"Scumbags. If Gracie – " Danny's words faltered, as Steve's phone rang.
"McGarrett," he answered.
"Commander McGarrett, this is Governor Jameson. I wanted to call earlier to offer my condolences on the loss of your father, but I was told you were unable to take calls."
"I'm on my feet now and out of the hospital. In fact, I'm working with the HPD detective investigating my father's death. We've found a very interesting lead on how my father's murderer might have been smuggled onto the island."
"I'm glad to hear it, Commander." Someone was trying to get the Governor's attention. Steve could hear a man saying that her next appointment had arrived. "I have to go but I'd like to talk more later. Keep me informed."
"I will, Governor." As he hung up, the shrieks from the 'Psycho' soundtrack emerged from Danny's pocket. Danny sighed, giving a grimace and pulling his phone out as Steve put his away.
"Yes, dear," he answered, in a tone that indicated the caller was anything but dear to him. Steve focused his hearing, trying to tell who was talking to Danny, as his voice became higher and more pleasant. "Hey, monkey."
The caller's voice was young, female, but even Steve couldn't distinguish the words, instead listening to Danny's side of the conversation, his happiness at their plans for the weekend. Clearly 'monkey' was his daughter, someone who Steve needed to meet.
"Danno loves you," he finished.
Danny was talking to Steve, but his eyes were on the Asian girl. "That was my daughter, Gracie. If someone ever handed her over to a low-life, scumbag – " The lines of his face and his eyes hardened, and Steve knew Danny's resolve would be as dangerous as his own.
"Then you understand why I have to protect you."
"No, no, I don't." Danny stood up from his seat on the back of the ambulance, stabbing one finger at Steve's chest. "For one thing, I am a grown man. I do not need protection." He added a second for emphasis, stabbing both at Steve in a parody of a Boy Scout salute. "And two, we met this morning. This morning."
Steve thought he'd ease Danny into their relationship, but how did he crack through a skull made of concrete? "You're my Guide."
"How old are you? No, you don't have to tell me, because I've seen your driver's license record, and we were born in the same year, which makes us both 34. You're supposed to have found your Guide at least a decade ago. Everyone knows that about Sentinels. You're supposed to bond or you can't function. You have been functioning just fine without me, ergo, I am Not Your Guide!"
Danny was on his toes, almost yelling in Steve's face, his fingers still jabbing on Steve's chest, and Steve's anger at Danny's rejection won out. He grabbed Danny's hand, twisting it behind his back, bringing him almost to his knees in one efficient move.
Almost as quickly, he released Danny and jerked away, twisting to bang his head on the side of the ambulance, breathing deeply. He'd almost attacked his Guide, his own Guide. "Fuck, fuck, fuck." He placed his hands flat on the ambulance's side, feeling cool metal, trying to focus on his tactile sense to calm himself down.
He was a Sentinel with a sense of touch that could determine how much force was necessary to punch through walls, a sense he'd used in many different ways in battle. But most importantly, he could only use his senses if he had control of them and of himself, a control that he'd carefully mastered. The elders at the Center told him he had more control than many Sentinels who had a permanent Guide. He couldn't lose it because his Guide rejected him. He couldn't.
"Jesus, what are you, a Sentinel, a SEAL, and a ninja?"
"God, Danny, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
There was a pause, a long pause, before Danny said, "You can't stand me denying that I'm your Guide."
Danny's hand landed on his back, patting him. Steve wanted Danny's hands on more than his back. He wanted Danny to touch him everywhere, and to be able to touch him every inch of his skin in return. This unresolved state of affairs between him and his Guide was going to drive him crazy. Gathering his nerve, Steve turned to Danny. "You should hit me."
"Are you crazy?"
"A Sentinel doesn't, does not hit his own Guide."
"You didn't hit me."
"I attacked you. I almost put you on your knees. I twisted your arm. I can't make up for that. I can't ask you to forgive me. You should hit me. I don't know what else to suggest. I attacked - " Steve's head reeled as Danny landed a solid punch across his jaw. His Guide might be short, but he was strong.
"You were getting hysterical, you know that? Christ, I do not know how this is my life. Come here." Danny gathered Steve into his arms, curling one hand on his skull, bringing his head down to Danny's throat, to the scent he craved. "See, this is why I cannot be your Guide, not if you need to smell my neck, because you're too tall. You're going to develop a permanent crick in your neck. Does this calm you down?"
Wrapping his arms loosely around Danny's waist, Steve breathed deeply, inhaling Danny's scent into his lungs, feeling like it was becoming part of the oxygen circulating throughout his body. He nodded, his head brushing against Danny's shoulder.
"Hey, there's nothing to see here, move on, okay? Go on, move. Scat."
Steve wasn't sure if Danny was talking to the HPD officers or bystanders, but he didn't care if they were being watched. He would stay here forever if he could.
"You okay now?"
He wasn't, but that was the signal to get his act together. Steve stepped out of Danny's arms, giving him an easy smile. "I'm good."
"Okay, good. We need to put all this to the side and concentrate on Hesse, right? And don't think I missed you telling the Governor that this gave you a big lead, so you'd better figure out something. Because I've solved 86 murders, and I don't even have to solve this one, I just have to find Hesse, and since you seem to have appointed yourself my partner, I expect you to make up for having shot my only lead. Okay?"
"I've got an idea. I know what to do."
"Good. Let's go."
Steve watched Danny stalk off to his Camaro without waiting to make sure Steve was following him. Danny was undoubtedly the most contradictory person he'd ever met, in his face one minute, comforting him the next. But being a Sentinel had rarely been easy for him. Why should handling his Guide be any simpler?
The truth kept trying to smack Danny in the face as hard as he'd smacked Steve. Danny knew it and hated it. Steve had twisted his arm behind his back, taking him almost to his knees and crouching over him, and Danny should have been furious. Part of him had been. But another part had been fascinated by Steve's capable skill and strength, the speed with which he'd taken control of Danny's body, fixating on the mental image of himself, naked, on his knees, Steve, equally naked, over him, bracketing him, not letting him up.
He was so screwed and all he wanted was to be screwed. By Steve. Lieutenant Commander Steven McGarrett, his Sentinel. Damn it.
Steve's big idea turned out to be talking to Chin, and Danny had to admit it was a decent one. A lot of guys in the HPD knew criminal informants, and could theoretically help them find a connection to the human smugglers, except they wouldn't, because they didn't like the pushy mainland cop who didn't like Hawaii. And Steve clearly didn't want to ask them anyway, though whether that was because he was a SEAL or a Sentinel or just wanted to find his dad's murderer himself, Danny didn't know. All three maybe. With Chin's obvious grudge against the HPD for labeling him as a dirty cop, they were a trio made in heaven.
Steve rose, ready to move on. Chin had an informant; they had a loose plan on how to entrap the human smuggler, who would hopefully lead them to Hesse. This seemed to be all the preparation Steve needed. Of all the Sentinels in the world, why did his have to be so inclined to winging it?
"Don't you want to know if I took the money?" Chin asked.
Danny snorted. He didn't think Chin had been dirty, and either way, his possible corruption seemed like a very tiny blip in today's erratic path. "If you did, you weren't very competent about it." He waved his arms, gesturing around the cafeteria. "I'm just saying, as bribes go, they got you cheap."
Chin gave a wry laugh, as if no one else had ever been that blunt, but Steve asked, "Did you?"
"No, I didn't."
"Chin." Steve sat back down. "You were my dad's partner. My dad couldn't have worked that many years with someone who could be dirty. And I'm a Sentinel. You know that, right?"
"Your dad didn't talk about it much. You went online – "
"Yeah, when my mom died." Steve glanced between Chin and Danny, explaining to both of them. "Mary and I always knew it was a possibility that one or both of us might become Sentinels, because mom's dad and brother were Sentinels, but it's not really anything we could prepare for. My senses all expanded, in an instant. Sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing, all of them are exponentially better and more powerful than yours. It was overwhelming at first, but the Sentinel Center sent someone out to keep me sane until after the funeral, and then I went back to Cascade for the full training. I've been developing my skills and my control for 19 years."
His full attention on Chin, Steve continued, "When you say you didn't take the money, I can hear every nuance of tone in your voice. I can hear if your breath and heartbeat change. I can watch your eyes and see if your pupils react. I don't do it all the time because it takes too much effort, but when I'm focusing, it's impossible for someone to lie to me. I know you're a honest man."
So a Sentinel could even hear a heartbeat. That confirmed one rumor Danny had heard. His Sentinel was a walking lie detector. "Wow, every parent of a teenager probably wishes they were Sentinels," he joked, wondering how much he'd unconsciously revealed to Steve as they'd been running around. Maybe more than he realized, because Steve's hand dropped to his knee and squeezed reassuringly.
"Come on," Steve said, standing again. "We've got smugglers to catch."
"I could tell when Rachel was lying," Danny said suddenly.
Steve roused himself. He'd been enjoying leaning against the Camaro, his arm resting against Danny's, appreciating the gentle warmth of the Hawaiian sun on his skin. He could have done without having to wear an extra large t-shirt with Kamekona's face on it, but otherwise it had been nice to take a break from the day's frenetic pace while Chin talked privately with his criminal informant. "Rachel's your ex?"
"Yeah. She didn't understand what a cop's life was like before she married me. It was okay at first, because she got pregnant quickly, and we were both really happy about having a little girl. Only then it was even worse, because she resented having to be Gracie's sole caretaker when I worked late and she started worrying about Gracie growing up without a father."
"You guys fought?" It seemed inconceivable that they wouldn't have fought. Danny wasn't the kind of guy who would have been attracted to a meek woman, or who would let a relationship end without expressing himself forcefully about its problems.
"Like a cat with very sharp claws and a dog with too many teeth. And then we didn't, and I knew she was lying to me. She'd met Stan, the guy she's married to now."
"So what are you saying? That I'm not the only one who can tell when someone's lying?"
Danny shrugged, and Steve liked the way it made the skin on their arms rub together. "Not that I can hear heartbeats or anything like that. But I knew when Rachel was lying because I knew her."
"So you think I can't necessarily tell when someone's lying if I don't know them?"
"I'm just saying, it makes a difference, knowing someone."
Steve turned the conversation around in his mind, worrying at it, because if anyone seemed to be normally a plain speaker, it was Danny, but he was being bizarrely oblique. "You want to know what I'm picking up from you."
"Did I say that? I did not say that."
"Danny." Steve turned to face him, resting the fingers of one hand on Danny's cheek, feeling his stubble. "What are you afraid you're giving away?"
Danny's breath quickened, and his eyes widened, pupils expanding. They were already standing in the sun, so not because of any change in light. A reaction caused by Steve's touch? Steve grinned, leaning forward, ready for his first taste of Danny's lips.
"Are you going to kiss him?"
The little girl's question was an unwelcome distraction. Steve stopped moving, and Danny jerked away from him. "Are you boyfriends?" she continued. "You look like you're boyfriends."
"We're colleagues," Danny answered loudly. "Do you know that word? It means we work together. Well, today anyway."
"You don't look like colleagues. You look like boyfriends."
"Here, would you like a bunny?" Danny grabbed the large rabbit out of the back of the Camaro. Steve had noticed it earlier, figuring it was a present for his daughter. "Take a bunny."
The girl accepted the bunny, which was almost as big as her, but looked doubtful. "Mom said I shouldn't take presents from strangers."
If Danny was giving it away so casually, there must be some reason he no longer needed it as a present. Steve made a mental note to ask later what had happened.
"I'm a police officer." Danny waved his badge at her. "That means I'm a good guy, not a stranger."
"Okay," she said, beginning to dart away, before stopping. "Thank you!"
"Guys!" Chin called, walking away from Kamekona's. "Let's roll."
Sliding into the Camaro, Steve regretted the missed opportunity to know the taste of Danny's lips, but was thankful that they'd come so close. He would break through Danny's defenses, and then he'd never be alone again.
There was denial, a state of mind infrequently but occasionally known to a Williams, and then there was flat-out stupidity, which all members of the Williams family tried to avoid. Staring out at the ocean, drinking his Longboard, Danny admitted he'd spent his day sliding from denial to stupidity and it was time to face reality.
Watching Chin's cousin on a surfboard had been the final straw. She was gorgeous, both in face and form, the miniscule scraps of her bikini hiding very little of her perfect body. On any other day since puberty, Danny would have been drooling. But until Chin had warned them about ogling his cousin, Danny had been solely focused on wondering if Steve surfed. He'd like to see Steve riding a wave, his body all wet, damp hair plastered to his skull, grinning with excitement, his muscles both relaxed and tense in that way surfers looked, like they were completely laidback while still using all of their muscles to control their boards.
Hot Asian babe, who cared? He didn't. Not even after she ran out of the ocean and decked the rude surfer who'd stolen her wave, and he'd realized she was a hot Asian babe with spirit and a powerful right hook, which should have made her even more attractive. But he'd consulted his dick, and his dick said no, not really.
Steve stopped by him with a t-shirt in his hands, draping it over one of the deck chairs, before lifting his arms over his head, pulling his shirt with him, every single muscle of his abdomen rippling with the stretch. For the first time, Danny had a clear view of the tattoos on his shoulders. His mouth went dry as he pictured tracing the designs with his tongue. And after that, he'd lick every single line on Steve's six-pack. Steve dropped the shirt but didn't pick up the other one, standing there half-naked.
"Do I need to tell you how much your breath and heartbeat just increased? What your pheromones smell like?"
Danny swore, because if he had to go down, he was going down fighting, ignoring the tiny voice repeating 'resistance is futile' in the back of his brain. "I have a daughter, you get that, right? A daughter I love very much. A daughter I followed from New Jersey, so I can be with her for the one evening a week and every other weekend or whatever my ex decides is most convenient with her plans, because the judge in New Jersey bought into the whole 'cops have dangerous jobs' nonsense, like people with safe jobs never die, and gave my ex full custody."
"I don't see what that has to do with your being unwilling to accept you're my Guide. You're attracted to me and I'm attracted to you. It's a natural part of the Sentinel-Guide bond."
If Steve hadn't looked so genuinely perplexed, Danny might have strangled him for being deliberately dense. Instead, he sighed, and tried to be as succinct as he knew how. "There are few facts that people really understand about Sentinels, which seems to be the way you guys like it, but one thing everyone knows is that the Guide helps the Sentinel, which means the Guide follows the Sentinel. You're a Navy SEAL. The military can post you anywhere they'd like, anywhere in this entire world, for months or years at a time. And then I would be stuck wherever, and not even able to see my daughter for my pathetic one evening a week and every other weekend. I cannot have that, Steven. I cannot. Which means I am very sorry, but I cannot be your Guide."
"Danno." Steve smiled. "Is that what you've been thinking?"
"Is that what I've been thinking? What else can I think? And do not call me Danno. Danno is my daughter's name for me."
"A Sentinel-Guide relationship is a partnership. It's not all for me or under my control. It doesn't work that way. And I told you, I can't hurt you. I have to protect you."
That was… reassuring, even if it contradicted general wisdom and frankly, Danny's observations of Steve himself. "You don't want things under your control? We've been running around all day, following what you wanted to do."
"They were the right things to do for the investigation though, weren't they? Sentinels and Guides, we have a strong instinct to protect and defend. I need to find Victor Hesse, both because I'm a Sentinel and to avenge my father. I can't help that."
"Yes, okay," Danny admitted grudgingly. "We may have been overly speedy for a proper police investigation, because I don't even want to try to explain to my Captain how I have to borrow surveillance equipment so we can hunt down human smugglers for a murder case, but we haven't been completely out-of-line. Not completely."
"We," Steve said, smiling again. "You admit it's been us together."
"This doesn't relieve my very legitimate concerns about my life and my daughter. What about when we find Hesse and put him in jail? What next crazy thing are you going to need to do to satisfy your instinct to protect and defend?"
"I don't know, but I won't take you away from Gracie." Steve raised one hand, holding it in a Boy Scout salute. "I couldn't hurt you."
"You're not in control of your life. The Navy is."
"Danny." Steve gently cupped Danny's chin in his hands, his eyes intense, his touch soft as he brought their lips together for a light kiss. "Trust me. I'm your Sentinel."
Danny groaned hungrily, and caught Steve's head in his hands, bringing their lips together for a real kiss, a kiss where he could devour Steve's lips. The man tasted as good as he looked, and Danny didn't know how he'd been able to resist him all day.
Steve responded, melting against him with a muttered, "Finally," his fingers deft on the buttons of Danny's shirt, even as Danny slid his own hands up the soft expanse of Steve's back. With a last thrust of his tongue in Danny's mouth, Steve separated their mouths, looking down to admire Danny's chest, brushing his fingers over his nipples, which tightened in response. "You feel so good, Danny. So good to my fingers. I'm going to make you feel that good."
Of course he felt good to Steve's fingers, those clever fingers with a Sentinel's extra sense of touch. Giving an incoherent cry, Danny jerked away, buttoning his shirt rapidly, before he could change his mind, his dick straining against his fly in protest. "No, we are not bonding. Not tonight. I want to trust you, Steven, but I can't even think straight."
"Did you consider that we may have to bond before you can think straight? The bonding imperative is powerful."
It didn't take a Sentinel's senses to tell that Steve was consumed with lust, his fists clenched, his body shaking with want, a state that Danny was determined to ignore, no matter how much he shared it. "I don't care. Tomorrow. I have to think this over tonight and I'll decide tomorrow." Danny turned to stride up the beach, stopped by Steve's, "Danny."
"At least stay the night. You can sleep in Mary's room. I promise I'll leave you alone. You brought me out of a zone-out this morning. I need you close."
Without looking back for fear he'd change his mind, Danny nodded before walking toward the house.
The ache in his heart and soul were more painful than the one in his groin. So much for the fantasy that Sentinels and Guides always threw themselves at each other in perfect harmony at first meeting. Steve flung himself into a chair, picking up the Longboard again. At least Danny had stayed and was under his roof.
He checked his cell phone, scrolling through for new text messages. The Guide specialist had arrived in Hawaii, leaving a text of 'understand new guide & bond to confirm. Am on beach. Text when ready,' which made Steve smile. The people at the Center could be unbearably officious, but they were wise enough to never interfere with a Sentinel protecting his Guide. He texted Catherine U awake? His phone rang within a minute.
"Steve, you're okay! They said you were in a zone-out and that a specialist from the Sentinel Center was flying out."
"I found my Guide, Cath. He brought me out. He's a detective with the Honolulu Police Department."
There was barely a pause before Catherine responded with enthusiasm and happiness for him, making Steve appreciate her even more. Cath was a low-level Guide who had never bonded. She'd been able to help him on several occasions, and she would understand how much Steve finding his Guide would permanently alter their relationship.
"He was never identified as a Guide. He hasn't been trained and he doesn't want the bond."
"Oh, Steve," she said sympathetically, her voice becoming more teasing as she added, "But I'm not worried. No one can resist you for long."
"I don't know, Cath. He's a pretty tough nut to crack."
"I have no doubt that you'll convince him."
"Thanks," Steve said, aware that his voice was rough.
"You want to do some exercises? Did you do any after the zone-out or just rush off into action?"
"Exercises are good."
"Sight," she said briskly. Letting his body relax, Steve focused all his attention on what his eyes could see, describing the details to Catherine. Watching the waves on the ocean and the splash of a fin breaking the surface told him his night vision was still at peak functioning. His Sentinel sight had always been an extra advantage on sniper missions. He looked to the left, telling her about the nearest neighbor's house. It would have been better if she was there, sharing his view with binoculars, but the basic exercise in testing his senses was comforting.
When she said, "Hearing," Steve let his vision decrease to normal human levels and ramped up his hearing, realizing that there was the sound of breathing behind him. He twisted to see Danny standing on the sand, still dressed in his white shirt and dark trousers, but he'd relaxed enough to remove his socks and ridiculous patent loafers.
"Danny's here, Cath. I'll talk to you later."
"Is that what a Guide does? Walk you through exercises?"
"It's one of the basics, but it's only a small part of the Sentinel-Guide interaction."
Danny sat by him, arms resting on his raised knees. "So hearing, right?"
"Hearing," he said, and talked about the sound of the waves, the whisper of the air through the trees, identifying that there were at least three types of birds nearby, though he'd never been interested enough in bird watching to identify the songs. "The neighbors are watching television. A comedy, I think. It's got one of those annoying laugh tracks."
"You can hear the neighbor's television?"
"They play it a little loud. Mr. Morimoto resists wearing his hearing aid."
"Jesus," Danny said, and though Steve was comfortable with his Sentinel senses, he understood how they could be perceived as extreme by others. He remembered being a kid, and so impressed by his grandfather and uncle. "So this is why Korea was so bad for you? You weren't prepared and were overwhelmed?"
"No." Steve shook his head. "I was escorting a prisoner. I'm always prepared in that kind of situation. It was the combination." 'I love you, son,' echoed in his head, and he took a sharp breath, feeling the pull of a potential zone-out, but then Danny's hand rested on top of his own. The touch calmed him, helped him talk of the sound and smell of gunfire and pistols and machine guns, the feel of firing his weapon and the slickness of Hesse's blood on his hands, the sound of his heart and breathe stopping, of the bullet slamming into his father.
He was crying when he stopped talking, for the first time conscious that they were lying on the sand, Danny's arms cradling him. A slow stream of tears leaked from his eyes, landing on Danny's stupid white shirt. "I'm sorry."
"He was your dad," Danny said simply, like he understood loss.
In appreciation, Steve kissed Danny, their lips softly blending, dismayed when Danny pushed him abruptly away, sitting up.
"Are you kidding? With your senses? I haven't brushed my teeth since this morning. I don't even want to know what my mouth tastes like to you."
Danny's obvious concern for Steve's Sentinel senses made him smile. "You're my Guide. You'll always taste perfect to me."
But Danny was withdrawing, throwing up his invisible barriers between them. "I only came out for a clean towel. I'd like to take a shower before bed. My mother always taught me it's polite to ask before rummaging through other people's linen closets."
"Sure." Steve accepted the subtle restoration of the distance between them, rolling to his feet. "I'm going to lock up and head to bed myself. Just turn off the hallway light when you're done." Separate beds wasn't how he'd hoped to end his first day with his Guide, but Danny hadn't fled and seemed to be working toward acceptance of their relationship. Right now, Steve would consider that a win.
Mary's old bed was pleasantly comfortable, especially compared to the piece of junk in his apartment. Danny anticipated that yesterday's revelations might have kept him tossing and turning throughout the night, but he slept like a rock, waking up with the memory of last night's kiss with Steve foremost in his mind.
While Danny was still lying in bed, fuzzily contemplating that Steve had incredibly soft lips for someone with such an obviously hard body, the man himself tapped on the door. "Danny? You want breakfast? I'm making oatmeal."
"Yes!" Danny called, heaving himself out of bed and dressing in yesterday's clothes, though upon reaching the kitchen, he was quick to note that oatmeal was hardly a breakfast to serve guests. "Eggs, bacon, toast. Maybe pancakes. This is the kind of breakfast that one serves to company," he grumbled, sprinkling the brown sugar that he'd made Steve find on his oatmeal.
"Considering your mother wouldn't let you rummage in other people's linen closets for clean towels, I would have thought she'd raised you to appreciate the food that you are served. Coffee?"
"Coffee, please. Definitely. And since my mother always served her company a full breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast, and usually pancakes or maybe even waffles, the horror of a guest contemplating gruel in the morning was never an issue."
"Oatmeal is not gruel."
"I miss my mother's breakfasts," Danny lamented, doctoring his coffee with a healthy amount of sugar and milk, his preferred option when he had time and didn't have to slug his caffeine down. He didn't bother suggesting Steve might find him some cream.
"Oatmeal's better for your cholesterol levels."
"Is the healthy eating a SEAL thing or a Sentinel thing?"
Steve shrugged. "It's a McGarrett thing. We've always eaten oatmeal for breakfast. Even Mary does. Or did, anyway. We haven't had breakfast together in a long time."
"Even on weekends?" Danny asked with horror.
"Sometimes I eat yogurt with granola instead."
"Okay, no, not this weekend, you will not have oatmeal or yogurt this weekend, because the level of your deprivation is horrifying. I have Gracie, so we will bring groceries Saturday morning and we will cook for you. I'm teaching her to cook because it is important for everyone to have basic life skills, and she can't learn the special Williams family recipes from step-Stan's cook. Why are you smiling?"
Because he was; Steve was grinning like a loon. "I would be delighted for you and your pup to cook for me."
"My pup? Gracie is my daughter. She is a little girl, a child. Not a pup."
"Sorry," Steve said. "That's Sentinel language. I would be delighted for you and your daughter to cook for me."
"Yes, and you will appreciate our excellent cooking and clean your plate."
"I hope you don't teach Gracie that she needs to eat everything on her plate. That can establish bad eating habits. Children should be taught to only eat until they're full."
"Do you ever stop?" Danny asked, but he couldn't help half-laughing while he did so.
Steve shrugged, completely unrepentant and smiling too. "I'm a Sentinel and a SEAL. What do you think?"
"I think I'm doomed and I need to stop by my apartment and get clean clothes. And a new tie. Mine's all creased from being in my pocket."
Steve reached out, running his index finger from the side of Danny's neck to under his shirt, lingering on the spot where throat met shoulder, the place that he'd found so compelling yesterday. "Can you go without one again?"
"Doomed," Danny said, spooning the last of his oatmeal into his mouth, trying to not think about why that prospect didn't bother him.
Steve was fully capable of being patient when required, but he hadn't expected HPD to test his resolve. They were waylaid in the parking lot by Danny's old partner, Meka, who felt obligated to let Danny know that he'd been seen talking to a corrupt ex-police officer, and he should keep better company or his reputation would suffer.
"Chin is not corrupt," Steve gritted out. "He never was."
"You've got enough problems, Danny. You don't need more," Meka said, ignoring Steve like he wasn't quite sure why he was even in the conversation. "But you look better without the tie," he added.
"The tie is not a permanent removal, but thanks for the warning, Meka." Danny hustled Steve away. "You need to stay out of business you don't understand."
"Business I don't understand? I understand that they're still slandering Chin."
"Meka wasn't trying to slander Chin; he was just watching my back for me. Come on, I need the Captain's signature to check out this much surveillance equipment."
That conversation went equally rough, the Captain trying to steer Danny toward more conventional methods of locating Hesse.
"Do you know how many years I've chased this man?" Steve asked, planting his hands on the Captain's desk. "Hesse isn't going to get caught with roadblocks. We need more aggressive methods."
"Your methods don't seem all that effective, since it took you years to capture his brother," the Captain responded.
Danny wrapped his fingers around Steve's wrist, and Steve felt a sense of peace, like contact with his Guide made not only his senses easier to manage, but his thought processes. "You're right. My methods haven't been as quick as I would have hoped, and I'm interfering in your conversation with your detective. I will step outside and let you two discuss it. I have been remiss," Steve said, pulling his cell out of his pocket, "in calling the Governor back and updating her on how the search goes for my father's killer. She wanted to be kept informed, since she and my father were friends, and she was very interested in how the Navy and the HPD were working together."
"That's right." Danny looked downright pious, and Steve had to stifle his grin at how well Danny followed his lead. "You promised the Governor yesterday that you would keep her informed. You would not want to disappoint a lady."
They got the equipment authorized and were able to roll with plenty of time to meet Chin and Kono.
The next few hours were busy, but Danny was accustomed to compartmentalizing, and kept a little bit of himself detached, watching and analyzing Steve. It was looking more and more like he wasn't going to be able to resist this bond, which meant he'd be around Steve for the rest of his life. Their meeting had been as abrupt as his and Rachel's, but divorce wasn't a possibility for a Sentinel and Guide. He had to figure out how to make this relationship work.
He was surprised at how well Steve worked with a team. Foolish perhaps, since SEALs probably worked regularly in teams, so it was his mistake to think of Steve as a lone wolf guy. Steve was excellent at both taking charge and listening to his teammates. They had the surveillance van up and running in no time, tasks delegated and everyone at their appointed positions as Kono went to meet with the smuggling scumbags.
Things went fubar again, of course, the smuggler suspecting that Kono wasn't being truthful. She was forced to strip for a picture, and someone who was the worst kind of scum, a cop on the take, verified that she was a rookie. Steve stayed calm, and held them off from entering too precipitously, until he drove the surveillance truck through a wall, Danny yelling as he and Chin clung to chairs in the back.
Steve barreled out, taking down the rest of the criminals that Kono hadn't knocked out yet, leaving Danny and Chin on handcuff duty. They searched the smugglers' place and found yet more people locked up. Danny hoped the Captain would be pleased with such tangible results and not irritated that he had now had the headache of coordinating with INS.
Danny missed the interrogation of the head of the smugglers, but he wasn't surprised that Steve made the man reveal Hesse's location. Steve seemed like the kind of guy who would do intimidation well. The fact that Steve called up the Coast Guard and used his naval rank to order them to stop a Chinese freighter from departing the dock was a little more difficult to swallow.
"You could start an international incident!" Danny said loudly, trying to get through Steve's thick skull. There was a difference between chasing someone around the island and stopping a ship flying another country's flag. Or was it boat? He'd have to learn the distinction.
"I'm a SEAL, Danny, and I've been chasing the Hesse brothers for five years. Almost starting international incidents isn't exactly new to me."
Great. Tied to someone who thought creating havoc was standard operating procedure and ate oatmeal for breakfast. Danny threw up his hands and sagged back in the car seat, trying to calm the adrenaline that was still racing through his blood from the first fight of the day. "My daughter calls me Danno because she couldn't say my name when she started talking. Danno is her nickname for me."
Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Steve give him a quizzical look. "That's cute."
"It's a special thing between us. I thought if we end up in a Chinese prison and you zone-out again, this may be the last thing you learn about me."
"We're not going to end up in a Chinese prison," Steve promised, and then he was driving the borrowed cop car onto a Chinese freighter. Danny hung onto his seat belt and prepared for battle.
Being in the midst of a fight always made Steve feel like he was fully using his Sentinel senses. Keeping track of his teammates, or in this case, partner, identifying the location of the bad guys, determining the best angle to shoot, knowing when a member of the enemy was no longer a threat, moving fast and efficiently, all of these things tested his sight and hearing, strength and reflexes.
His Guide would have been an excellent soldier. They both came out of the car shooting, and then separated to cover each other as they fought the bad guys with machine guns on the Chinese freighter, working with a harmony that usually took at least weeks, if not months, to develop.
Hesse revealed himself, and Steve ended up in a hand-to-hand struggle with him on top of a cargo bin. He knew from his years of tracking and researching the Hesse brothers that they were excellent fighters, but he was surprised at the extent of Hesse's skill. Steve had the advantage of his Sentinel heritage and SEAL training, but Hesse fought dirty and viciously, managing to send Steve flying off the bin.
Steve rolled, grabbing his father's gun from where it had fallen and came up shooting, two in Hesse's chest, and a final one straight through his face. "That's for my father," he said, as Hesse fell backwards into the ocean. With one leap, Steve reached the top of the bin, staring down into the ocean, watching Hesse's body float limply on the waves.
Both of the Hesse brothers were gone. His father was avenged, and Steve's mission was over. Even if Hesse had escaped, Steve would have stayed in Hawaii for Danny's sake, but starting a new life would be so much easier now.
Clean-up went efficiently, Danny calling the HPD to arrest the crew members who had attacked them, Steve finding a grappling hook to pull up Hesse's body. He was watching the meat wagon drive off with the corpse when he heard his name called.
The woman who walked up to him with a quick, energetic stride was familiar, mature but attractive, and it took him a moment to place her as Governor Jameson. "Ma'am."
"Commander McGarrett, we spoke on the phone."
"Yes, Ma'am. I promised you an update and I'm sorry I haven't provided you one yet."
"That's all right, Commander. I've been getting updates from different sources. You seem to have been busy, running all over my islands, commandeering equipment from the police and ordering the Coast Guard around. You use your authority as a SEAL and a Sentinel quite freely."
"Yes, ma'am, and I did so to kill the extremely dangerous criminal who murdered my father."
His bluntness took her aback, but she recovered quickly, giving him a pleased smile. "I like you, Commander. You're a lot like your father. I like people willing to do the job that needs to be done, no matter what."
"Then why don't you hire me?" Steve asked, seeing the perfect opportunity to solve the major problem interfering with his bonding. "Give me a taskforce and I'll clean up the islands for you."
"Our minds are on the same wavelength. What do you need?"
He hadn't planned this out, but Steve was used to thinking on his feet. "I need a four-person team. Me, my Guide, two others. An office we can use as a headquarters, equipment, authority to pull cases from HPD, and immunity and means to get things done."
"Your Guide?" The Governor glanced over at Danny, who was waiting by the badly mangled police car. They'd managed to drive it off the freighter, so hopefully it would make it to the HPD headquarters. "I'd always understood from your father that you were unbonded."
"We only just found each other. He has a daughter here, and needs to stay in Hawaii, so I need a new job. It's your choice whether I work for you or start searching the want ads."
"Give me a written proposal by next week and I'll sign it." She held out her hand for him to shake. "Welcome to being an employee of the Hawaiian government, Commander."
Danny strolled up as the Governor walked away, returning to her limousine. "Did you just do what I thought I heard you do?"
"I got us new jobs. In Hawaii."
"What about the SEALs?"
"I'll transfer to the Reserves."
"You're just quitting your military career? For me?"
Dumbfounded was a good look for his Guide, Steve thought. "I told you, Danny. You're my Guide. Protecting you is the most important thing in my life. I couldn't do that if I hurt you by taking you away from your daughter."
Beaming with happiness was an even better look on his Guide.
Tackling emotional issues wasn't generally a problem for Danny. Outspoken and assertive were common traits in the Williams family. Still, he found himself glad that they were having this conversation while Steve was driving to the HPD, so Danny could look forward, at the street, rather than into Steve's eyes. "Theoretically, what does this bonding require?"
"It depends on the type of bond. If our bond is to remain platonic, it requires several hours of meditation and a small amount of my touching and smelling you, to imprint you on my senses."
"I hate meditation. It's always seemed like nonsense that only weirdo Californians take seriously." Danny cleared his throat. "I didn't have the impression you wanted a platonic bond."
"We could have a non-platonic bond, and then we'd only need to have sex. Lots of it," Steve said bluntly. "The emotional connection will form during the physical act."
"That is what you want, right?" It was certainly his preference, but he hadn't expected Steve to even discuss a platonic option.
Steve dropped his right hand from the steering wheel, curling it around Danny's left hand, tangling their fingers together. "Danny. You have got to realize that I would have put you on the hospital bed and fucked you until you screamed as soon as we'd met, except I knew you'd freak out."
That scenario was too easy to imagine, the hospital bed with its pristine white sheets, Steve with the hospital scrubs shoved down his thighs, Danny's clothes half-yanked off… Danny cleared his throat. "I haven't had gay sex," he announced baldly, deciding to get his embarrassment out of the way, like ripping off a band-aid in one go. "I haven't ever even thought about it."
"I have." Steve squeezed Danny's hand reassuringly. "I'll make it good for you, Danny. I promise."
"Jesus." Covering his face with his right hand, Danny gave a sigh. "Do not make it sound like I'm a delicate virgin you have to reassure, okay? I'm not an innocent 15-year-old girl and you're not the bad boy trying to get into my pants."
"Is that a yes?"
"Yes, that's a yes. Yes to bonding, yes to being your partner, yes to being your Guide, yes to you being my boss. Less than two days and you've worn me down from 'hello how to you do' to 'please take over my life'." Danny turned his head to stare at Steve. "How did you do that?"
Steve smiled, a smile that was so very Steve and male and confident and yet adorably sweet that Danny wanted to demand that he drive them home and start the bonding *now.* "I'm your Sentinel, that's how," he said simply.
Steve didn't know which was worst, having waited 19 years for someone who didn't even know he needed to be found, or the last two days of craving.
Neither really mattered though, because finally Danny was on board with the whole concept of being his Guide and their bonding. Steve kept his jubilation and relief restrained, trying to not disconcert Danny too much with the strength of his feelings. He'd understand better after the bonding. "Do you want dinner?" he asked, as he pulled the Camaro into the driveway of his family home, feeling obligated to make some attempt to not completely jump Danny's bones.
Getting out of the car, Danny gave Steve a look of utter disbelief. "Are you hungry for food? Now?"
Slamming the door and locking the car, Steve answered, "I'm hungry for you, Danny. I'm trying to not take you on the welcome mat."
"Then perhaps you should open the door, because I'd rather my first time didn't lead to being arrested for public indecency."
Steve obeyed the directive, shivering as Danny brushed by him, heading toward the stairs. "The bedroom's at the end of the hall."
Danny was unbuttoning his shirt as he walked, turning to fling it at Steve's face as he entered the bedroom. "Hurry up, slowpoke."
The sight of Danny's very nice chest was admittedly distracting, but his teasing comment sunk in and Steve accepted the challenge, stripping his clothes off, catching up so they reached nakedness at the same time.
"Nice babe, very nice."
"You too, Danny. You too." Danny started toward him, but Steve held up his hand, signaling him to stay. Though perplexed, Danny obeyed as Steve took his time looking, craving the visual imprint. Danny's body was a work of art - compact but muscular, with an appealing amount of body hair and a thick cock that Steve vowed to take a long time sucking. "Could you?" He waved one finger in a circular motion of 'turn around.'
"Seriously?" Danny groaned as he turned, revealing a backside to match the front.
"I need to see all of you." Sentinels were never given a lot of instruction on how to form a non-platonic bond with their Guides, the Center instructors obviously assuming there were some things people could work out for themselves, but Steve felt a need to ease his senses into knowing Danny. The last thing he wanted to do was be overwhelmed and zone-out in the middle of sex.
"I hope touching all of me comes soon."
Whether Danny's bravado was motivated by desire or nervousness, Steve wasn't sure, but he smiled as reassuringly as he could. "Smelling first."
"Smelling? Okay, that's just – a little bit weird," Danny commented, as Steve stood next to him, sniffing him. The product in Danny's hair was thankfully not too hideously chemical, while his neck emitted the scent of 'home' and 'comfort' that had first attracted Steve. He dropped to his knees, inhaling Danny's groin, almost reeling from the musky scent.
"I think you should skip the feet because it's been a seriously long day. My feet sweat a lot in this heat."
"Touch would be heavenly."
Steve ran his hands over Danny's skin, not particularly trying to arouse him, just letting himself absorb the feel of the different textures, the thickness of the calluses on his gun hand, the softness of the blood-engorged skin on his penis, the hairy whorls on his chest. "You need to wear more sunscreen," he said, sliding his hands up Danny's arms, feeling the sun damage on his lower arms, where he turned up his sleeves.
"Yes, Mom," Danny said with a roll of his eyes.
"I'm not the one who needs – " Danny gasped as Steve licked his tongue over a nipple. "Are you going to lick me everywhere?"
"Everywhere. I have to know everything about you, Danny. Everything."
"Okay, but seriously, not the feet. If you've got some sort of fetish for stinky toes, I think I can wait a few days to know."
Mentally promising himself that he'd give Danny a foot massage tomorrow after they showered, Steve swiped his tongue over the head of Danny's cock, smiling at the gasp the touch elicited.
"Can I participate now?"
"But soon, right? I'm all for foreplay, but this is killing me. Especially since I'm not getting to play."
"Soon," Steve promised. Danny's body tasted delicious, and the sounds Danny made in response were the best kind of music, especially when he licked over his rounded butt. "Okay," he said finally, pushing Danny onto the bed, covering him with his body. "Now."
"Yes, thank you," was all Danny muttered before his hands were in Steve's hair, dragging his head down so they could kiss, and all bets were off. Danny returned Steve's thorough exploration as Steve let all his senses be engulfed, aware of nothing except his Guide.
Danny was so aroused that he didn't even flinch when Steve inserted a lubed finger, instead wantonly spreading his thighs, welcoming Steve's penetration. "Yeah, get to it, babe. I'm all yours."
The simple pledge sent a rush through Steve. His Guide was finally about to be his. "And I'm yours, Danno. Forever." He stretched Danny's opening carefully, reminding himself firmly that he'd sworn to make this good for him. His preparations seemed to have been sufficient, as Danny gave only a small gasp as Steve inserted the head of the cock. "Good?"
"Yes, good." Danny's hands clamped on his butt, squeezing. "Come on, get on with it."
Steve obeyed, but slowly, gentle half-thrusts until he was sure Danny was fully stretched, checking constantly for any signs of discomfort, relieved to find only pleasure. "You feel so good, Danny. I could stay here forever."
Danny gave his butt a smack. "Not without moving, you can't."
His impatience startled a laugh out of Steve, and he let go, allowing his hips to move as they demanded, thrusting hard and deep into Danny, thankful that he'd gone slow at first. Rushing this might have resulted in being overwhelmed by how perfect Danny was for him. Instead he could revel in the dazed look in Danny's eyes, the heady scent of his arousal, every breathy moan he made, the feel of his fingers sliding up and down Steve's back, grasping his shoulders or ass, the strength of his thighs squeezing Steve's hips.
"Come on, Danny," Steve gasped. "Come for me, I want to feel you come."
"So close, Steve. So close. Make me come."
"Yeah." Steve slipped a hand between their bodies, jacking Danny's erect cock. "Come now. I need you to come."
Arching off the bed, Danny did, moaning loudly, his come spilling over Steve's fingers. Steve fell with him, drowning in their shared pleasure, knowing nothing except the sensation of being surrounded by and bound to his Guide.
Really good sex obviously made Danny feel peaceful and perhaps a little slow, as he didn't freak when a sleek, dark head peered over the edge of the bed, lying its whiskered face on the sheet next to his pillow, big dark eyes blinking at him. "Hey, little fellow." Danny reached out lazily, almost feeling like he could touch those whiskers, but the animal retreated, and Danny knew there was no point in rousing himself enough to look over the edge of the bed. "Of course your spirit animal is a seal."
"It's not just a seal. It's a Hawaiian monk seal. It always seemed appropriate to me. Oh." Steve flashed a smile that said 'guilty,' before returning his face to its comfortable position on Danny's chest. "I'll have to teach you how to meditate to discover yours."
"Now you tell me," he grumbled, but he thought he might enjoy meditation if he learned from Steve. Everything was good with his Sentinel, and he had a feeling they would be learning a lot from each other. He ran his fingers through Steve's short hair, enjoying Steve rubbing the side of his face against Danny's left pec. "Are you listening to my heart beat?"
"I like the sound."
"The next time I get indigestion, you are not listening to my stomach gurgle."
"Yes, Danno," Steve said with a smile, nuzzling Danny's nipple.
Danny's fingers smoothed down the nape of Steve's neck, running over his shoulders. He couldn't stop touching him, feeling a sense of wonder that he would have this liberty for the rest of his life. The bond between them felt steady, strong, almost a tangible presence connecting them. "I married Rachel when I was 25. I thought, this is it, this is the woman I'll love until the day I die. When I'm 75, we'll celebrate our 50th anniversary with our kids and grandkids all around us, like my grandparents did, like my parents will. I felt like a total screw-up when we got divorced, like I'd failed everyone in my family, even my dead ancestors."
Steve made a noise like he disagreed, but didn't speak.
"Williams don't do divorce, you know? But now…" Danny's hands paused, like he couldn't move and express the importance of this feeling at the same time. "Thank God, that's all I can say. Or thank fate or destiny or whatever. Because infidelity is even worse. If I had ever been unfaithful to Rachel, I might as well have stabbed my mother in the heart, that's how bad it is. And I could not have survived a platonic bond with you."
Smiling, Steve slithered up Danny's body, kissing his lips gently. "I want to meet your daughter soon. And Rachel. I want to imprint on them – a family imprint – so I'll always be able to find them. Just in case something ever happens."
"Sometimes I wouldn't mind if Rachel got lost."
"She's Gracie's mom. I have to be able to protect her too."
"Yeah, okay. I'll introduce you to them." With a powerful twist of his hips, Danny rolled Steve over, pinning his arms to the bed. This time he was going to take charge. "In a couple of days."
Steve smiled sweetly, agreeably, and Danny captured his lips, claiming that smile with his kiss, feeling completely at peace. He'd accepted what he was, and what Steve was to him.
Sentinel and Guide, forever.
~ the end ~