Danny stares at the screen still not quite sure how he got here. By here he means this website, but the fuzzy part of his brain that has had too many drinks to keep lying points out that “here” is also New Jersey in a hotel room with Rachel and Grace, and “here” feels pretty fucking surreal. Not that his brain is in any condition to judge right now.
But here, this website on the great wide internet. Yeah, Danny’s got nothing. He couldn’t sleep, not after Chin dropped him off at the airport, unsmiling because every dead end had turned deader and Steve was still locked up and Kono’s hearing was hanging over all their heads like an axe ready to fall. Danny got on the plane and never thought he would hate himself so much for that when he was, for all appearances, getting his life back.
Not sleeping turned into a beer turned into three turned into typing “how to get framed partner out of corrupt court system” in the Google search bar. After two depressing youtube videos and a dozen even more demoralizing articles about the United States justice system, he’s here staring at a sleek black page that says simply, “In a tough spot? Have you been threatened or swindled? Are the police ignoring your calls? We might be able to help. Expert advice for your toughest problems.” There’s a text box inviting Danny to share his story. And at two AM, exhausted, feeling ass over tea kettle after a week of the world not making sense, it seems like the sanest idea he’s heard yet. Danny types in the whole messy story, and at five AM when he hits submit he finally feels something loosen in his chest.
He goes back to bed, slides in right beside Rachel without waking her up, and manages not to think about how he last saw Steve, locked up, for the ten seconds it takes to fall asleep. By the time Grace is up jumping on the bed wondering when they’re going to see Grandma and Grandpa, Danny’s pretty sure he dreamed it.
The phone call comes out of left field, or maybe the Twilight Zone, Danny reflects later. But it’s safe to say that he thought it was a joke.
“You’re who?” He’s behind his parents’ house. All his sisters and their kids came over and Danny is frankly hiding from all of them in the shed. He feels like crap and he looks like crap and his mom thinks feeding him will cure him of all of the above. Rachel’s been pursing her lips like she used to in the last months of their marriage when she was stopping herself from saying something in front of Grace, which has given Danny flashbacks all over again because what is he doing here? New Jersey here. Rachel here. That Grace is here is the only “here” that makes sense.
“Nathan Ford,” says the voice on the phone. “You submitted a post on my website at 5:22 this morning, and I think I might be able to help you out.”
Danny takes a second to check the number — blocked. “Is this a scam?”
“No,” says this Ford guy. “But what happened to your partner Steven McGarrett sounds like a railroading job. If what you say is right, this Wo Fat set him up, took him out, and got away clean.”
And now Danny is starting to remember what he wrote on that website and he can’t believe he was that stupid. “Listen, I don’t know who you are, but I don’t think you can help me.”
“I think you’re wrong. I think I’m exactly the person to help you.”
“Did you read the part where Wo Fat is part of the Yakuza? Or the part where we had full immunity from the law and we still couldn’t bring him down?”
“I read the part where the governor you worked for was in on it and two of your people are in trouble. You want to help them or not?”
Danny opens his mouth, closes it. He left Hawaii and flew halfway around the world and all he wants to do is fly back.
“Listen,” says Ford. “I’m sending you a plane ticket. If you’re serious about helping your friends, come meet with me, and we’ll figure this out.” Then he hangs up.
Danny barely has time to stare at his phone before it’s beeping at him that he has mail. In his inbox is a business class e-ticket in his full name from Newark to Boston. It leaves at ten AM tomorrow. Danny calls the airline and the customer service rep confirms that yes his plane is still scheduled to leave tomorrow, the seat is his, and does he want to upgrade? When he ends the call, Danny thinks he must still be drunk.
At ten AM the next morning when he’s boarding the plane he’s upgrading his mental status to crazy. Steve must have rubbed off on him. He hopes some of Steve’s better luck rubbed off too.
Nathan Ford has black curly hair hanging over his ears and a sharp gaze that latches on to Danny the minute he steps through the door of the bar. He’s got a tumbler of something amber and alcoholic in front of him and the first thing he does is ask if Danny wants a drink. It’s just after noon, and the place is empty except for the guy behind the bar who’s mixing something in a mug. Danny passes on alcohol and asks for water.
“I looked you up,” he says once Ford relays his request to the guy at the bar. Danny doesn’t think he’s the bartender. The place screams closed and the guy has been watching him the whole time. Muscle, Danny thinks, and isn’t surprised when the guy sets down Danny’s water and joins them with what smells like chai tea.
He focuses back on Ford. “You’re supposed to be in prison.”
“The conviction was overturned,” says Ford mildly.
“I should arrest you.”
“You could try,” says the muscle in a surprisingly quiet voice. He sips his tea like he doesn’t think Danny will.
And he won’t, Danny realizes, because he is here. Here in Boston about to spill his guts to a pair of criminals, and he’s past crazy now. He scrubs his hands over his face, breathes. The smell of sand and sunshine hasn’t quite worn away from his hands. Or the smell of gunpowder.
Ford and his muscle sit quietly sipping their drinks until Danny’s ready, and when he finally drops his hands, Ford says, “Start at the beginning.”
“Okay,” says Danny, going back past Wo Fat and Steve’s arrest all the way back to Steve’s mom and everything the four of them pieced together of this whole sorry mess. Ford asks questions, the muscle is mostly quiet. Talking it out is both better and worse than writing it out. It gives Danny his professional distance back but brings it right back front and center in his mind. He ends with “So how much is your help going to cost me?”
“Nothing,” says Ford. Danny raises skeptical eyebrows.
“You think we’d charge you anything on a cop’s salary?” the muscle smirks like it’s the stupidest idea he’s ever heard.
“We have an alternate revenue stream,” says Ford, and Danny, who after a year of Steve McGarrett has become an expert at knowing when he doesn’t want to know, doesn’t ask.
“Does this mean we’re going to Hawaii?” A blond woman suddenly appears by the bar, a big wide grin on her face.
“I’m in on it all the way,” says Danny before the deal’s done. “It’s a small island and you won’t get anywhere without me. No one’s going to trust a bunch of haoles who just show up asking questions.”
The corners of Ford’s mouth tilt up for the first time, and it’s far from reassuring. “They’ll trust us,” he says as they all stand up.
“It’s what we do,” says the muscle with that irritating smirk.
The blond claps her hands together and squeals. “I can jump off a volcano!” Her grin is blinding. Danny stares at her and vows never to touch beer or the internet ever again.
Ford agrees to let Danny come with them but doesn’t let him sit in on any of their meetings. He shoos him off back to the airport, and says another plane ticket will appear when they’re ready to leave. It takes a week and Danny has a fight with Rachel that he doesn’t remember clearly, but he does remember tucking Grace in that night and fumbling over an explanation until Grace interrupted him with a hug and, “You’re going to help Uncle Steve. I get it.” Danny holds on to her tight, too choked up to say anything.
Danny’s on a later flight than Ford and his team. He calls Kamekona to come pick him up. He’s not expecting the hug or the island gossip but both are welcome and it’s not till the shave ice truck is pulling into the driveway that he realizes Kamekona brought him to his house where his cousins already have the bar-b-cue fired up and start asking after his little girl.
And Danny’s grateful because he still doesn’t know what he’s doing here, hadn’t even thought about where he’d sleep tonight, and fed and pushed onto the couch after everyone’s gone, the crazy doesn’t feel like insanity anymore. It feels a little bit like home.
In the morning, he gets one email from Ford, unsigned, telling him to lie low while they get set up and does he know where a good electronics store is? Danny thinks about calling Chin, but gives him Toast instead.
He hasn’t figured out what to tell Chin yet. It won’t be long before he knows Danny’s back, and Danny has no idea what to say to him. When Chin drove him to the airport a week ago they didn’t speak. Danny doesn’t know what Chin was thinking but his shiny new badge had been conspicuously absent and the silence between them tense. Even with Five-O dead, Danny thought it would be easier, but he doesn’t know how to trust Chin now, doesn’t know the cost of that badge, whether his restored honor has bought his loyalty or if he’s playing it close to the vest. He wants to say he knows but he hadn’t thought the Governor had been working with Wo Fat either.
“Eat up, brah.” Kamekona slaps Danny on the back so hard, he’s almost knocked out of his chair. “You’re gonna get weak and fade away if you keep staring at it.”
Danny smiles faintly and pokes at the grilled spam on his plate. “You expect me to eat this? It’s not even meat.”
“It’s a Hawaii institution,” says Kamekona. But he loves Danny anyway because he has a plate of hotdogs in his other hand.
“Aw, thank you. Now that,” Danny points at the hotdog, “is an American institution, my friend. I don’t know how you can eat that other crap.”
“And you still came back.” The bench groans as Kamekona sits down across from Danny, and like that the little distraction is gone. Kamekona looks at him with a crease between his eyebrows, serious as the heart attack he probably has coming one day. “You come back for Steve?”
Danny’s nodding before he even has a way to say he brought at least three criminals with him to help because of course he came back for Steve. Of course. And the sting in his eyes and maybe his heart are right there, too real. Danny’s tired and still not over the jet lag from leaving Hawaii — and shouldn’t there be a thing where that makes him feel better and not worse, like unspinning yourself when you’re dizzy? — so he doesn’t even try to hide everything that’s written across his face. It’s always been Steve.
Kamekona nods as if that’s exactly what he expected. As if it’s exactly what Danny should be doing - and of course it is - but the tacit acknowledgement grounds Danny.
He lets out a breath and cuts into his hot dogs with the side of his fork, wondering if there’s buns somewhere. “What’s the word on the street?”
“It ain’t good,” says Kamekona. “The islands are all talking about the Governor’s murder. It’s on the news twenty four-seven. Everyone’s talking about Steve.” He gives Danny a careful look. “It ain’t good either.”
Danny just bets it isn’t. He drops his fork, the little appetite he had gone again.
"Any word on Wo Fat?"
Kamekona shrugs. "Above my pay grade, brah," he says.
And Danny wishes it were above his too.
"This Wo Fat is bad news, man. I mean, he's got a finger in everything - smuggling, guns, drugs - all up in the Yakuza with ties to the Triad and the Chinese government. And he's solid, Nate. Legitimate connections everywhere."
"Including the Governor. What's the evidence against McGarrett look like?"
"I got everything Five-0 had on their network, but the evidence, including the stuff from McGarrett Senior's tool box is with the Honolulu police. As far as I can tell it hasn't been processed."
"Slow of them."
"Okay. We can work with that. We're also going to need Wo Fat. Eliot, can you get in?"
"Be easier with an introduction."
"Five-0 had a protected witness."
"That might work. Can you get me intel on who he works with?"
"You mean, like, details? These are not exactly high-profile people, you know."
"Just do it."
"Great. Eliot, you grab the witness. Parker, Hardison, you grab the evidence.
"And what about us? Going to see how far Wo Fat's fingers go?"
"That's where I'm starting, but I have something else in mind for you."
"Do I get to wear my Manolos?"
"If you mean the heels, then yes."
The next morning Danny takes Kamekona's snow cone mobile and heads downtown. He wasn't made for sitting still, and if visitor hours don't start for a few more hours well he can at least go see what he can pester out of HPD.
He gets pretty much what he expected at the front desk: hostile eyes and the cold shoulder. Still a haole and now the partner of a murdering cop.
"No, you listen!" he's just getting warmed up when a sharp "Detective Williams!" cuts across the hall sharp as a blade.
Danny stops. He glares at the desk sergeant and takes deep breath before turning. Chin's at the top of the stairs.
"Lieutenant Kelly." Danny plasters on a smile. When Chin gestures for him to come up, he goes.
Chin takes him to the Chief's office where Danny barely has time to register a tall black man and the blonde woman from Nathan Ford's bar in crumpled suits before Chief Mahaka is saying to him. "I thought you'd be back. Saves us having to subpoena you."
"Excuse me?" says Danny, distracted. One crisis at a time, he thinks, and he has his pick of them.
"Kono's case," says Chin quietly from behind.
"These are FBI," Mahaka gestures toward Ford's people, "Agents Thomas and Hagen."
"Thomas" shakes his hand murmuring pleasantries while "Hagen" has a creepy fake smile and over enthusiastically pumps his hand. Danny can't help glancing at Chin and wondering if he knows, or if Chin's magic background checks has turned up something. But Chin just looks normal disturbed by Hagen and not suspicious disturbed. It still makes sweat prickle the back of Danny's neck and it's like they're stealing the money all over again. Breaking every law in the books only this time it's him by himself, hung out to dry.
Mahaka is still talking about procedures and reporting, and now that the Governor's been murdered, the Feds are taking everything they can get a hand in. Or that's the gist of it anyway. Danny concentrates on not hyperventilating.
"I know you don't want us stepping up all in your business," Thomas is saying when Danny tunes back in. "But we gotta play this right. Especially with your department, if you know what I'm saying?" His eyes flicker to Chin, and Danny feels Chin stiffen.
"Now wait just a minute," comes out of his mouth before he even thinks about it. But Thomas is already raising his hands defensively.
"Hey there, no need to get upset," he says in exactly the tone of voice designed to piss someone off, namely Danny. "We understand you've had an unlucky time here, and the HPD has been swamped. You can't keep up under those circumstances and something falls through the cracks. We understand."
Then it's not just Danny ready to spit nails but Mahaka too at the slight against his department. He goes off and Thomas keeps on being patronizingly polite with Hagen chiming in every once in a while.
"My department is above reproach," says Mahaka.
"I know it is, you know it is. That's why we're here," says Thomas. "We just gotta pop in, check that all the evidence is in order, then we're out of your hair. It's just a box to check for us. And if it were up to me?" Thomas leans close, blocking his partner though still speaking loud enough to be heard. "We wouldn't even bother. But Hagen here is a stickler since she got reprimanded for an incomplete report a month ago."
"It's still fresh in my mind," says Hagen, and Danny can't tell from her voice whether that's supposed to be reassuring or not.
"So we just gotta pop in, and we'll be gone before you guys have finished getting Detective Williams's here statement. Then we'll never darken your door again."
It's over almost as fast as it started, and Danny's a little impressed in spite of himself that Mahaka's so anxious to have them gone, that he lets them through and has Danny shuffled off to an interview room in the next five minutes to get yelled at. By the time Mahaka asks for his badge and gun and he gets a threat not to leave the island, Thomas and Hagen are gone.
Chin isn't. "You dropped this." He hands Danny a folded up five dollar bill that was definitely not in his pocket earlier and walks off.
They meet at the public library and it's not till Danny walks through the doors and sees Jenna that he understands why. She stands and her smile is a mix of nerves and relief. Danny gives her hug.
"I wasn't sure you were coming back," she says into his shoulder.
Danny squeezes her close then let her go. "Yeah." He wasn't so sure about that either until a week ago. "How are you doing?"
Jenna shrugs. "It's a mess. Your old headquarters are sealed off until Steve's arraignment and I don't know where to even start looking for information to help him that won't bring this down on all our heads." She stops abruptly and takes a deep, calming breath. Danny knows how she feels. He thinks of the interrogation he just sat through questioning not only everything he know about Steve but hinted that every rule they've broken on cases is going to come back to haunt them ten-fold. Like a curse.
Chin walks in then, looking tense and unhappy, but he smiles a little when he sees Danny's already found Jenna. Danny desperately hopes he's playing the inside angle because he can't do this on his own. Forget Ford and his FBI agents and whatever else he has planned that can only end in disaster. Danny can't do this without his team.
"Hey," says Chin quietly. "Sorry I couldn't say earlier -- it's good to see you, Danny." And he pulls Danny in.
"You, too." He slaps Chin's back then steps away and hopes no one notices him sniffing away the prickles in his nose and the corner of his eye.
"Rachel and Grace okay?"
"Yeah, yeah," says Danny. "Listen, I got something I need to tell you guys."
"I've got a meeting room reserved," says Jenna and leads them inside.
"I can't stay long," says Chin once they're inside and seated around the plain brown table. "But I wanted to let you know that Kono's bail has been set. The family is," he shakes his head. "Well. It's not quite as bad as when I copped to stealing the money."
"If no one's paying it, I can -"
"Thanks. I talked to Auntie, and it's pretty high, with Steve and everything, but we'll manage."
He falls silent, and Jenna looks back and forth between them. "About that," says Danny, and he tells them about Ford. Jenna thinks he's kidding.
"I'm really not, and I know. I know it's beyond messed up, and I should never have gone to that meet. And you can rest assured I'm never touching alcohol and the internet at the same time again, but something's in motion and I can't stop it, and who knows, maybe it'll help. Give us some space to work." Danny still is not quite sure how Ford railroaded him.
But now Chin's laughing. It the kind of laugh where it's either that or cry, and Lord knows that's where Danny's been for weeks now.
"Do you have any idea what they're going to do?" asks Jenna, and all Danny can do is shake his head.
"But we still gotta do something about Steve. I don't trust them not to sink us with him so we gotta dig up everything, and I mean everything that ties Wo Fat to the Governor. We gotta give him motive. At this point reasonable doubt's our best chance."
"I'll get right on it," Jenna nods.
Chin gets a phone call, despite the signs, and he's already standing to go as he listens. But he stops at the door, turning back, worried.
"Sang Min's been kidnapped."
"He got taken by one guy who knocked out his detail and disappeared. One of them overheard him say he worked for a man named Sing Lao."
"No idea, but what do you want to be he's a buddy of Wo Fat?"
The three of them share a look, wondering just what new wrench has been thrown into their mess.
"Right this way, sir. Can I get you coffee?"
"You've been sloppy."
"Two sugars, black. Where's Johnson?"
"Who are you? How did you get in here?
"He'll be back momentarily. He had to run to the restroom. I'm from Governor Jameson's office and I need to bring you up to speed on a few… delicate matters. If you would, sir. Now. I know you and Governor Jameson didn't always see eye to eye on a number of issues, but some hard necessities exist that I advise you think long and hard about. In particular, there are some people who it is vital you not ignore."
"If you're asking that then Sing Lao was more right than he thought."
"All right. What did you say your name was?"
"… You're not from him."
"Ooh nice. Private beach and everything. I could get used to this."
"Do you think there're sharks out there?"
"You willing to bet your life on that?"
"Jonathan Sparks. And the man you need to pay special attention to is Wo Fat."
Danny can't stop fidgeting. He's been at the jail for twenty minutes now and they still haven't let him in to see Steve. The waiting area's chairs are hard plastic and the guard keeps giving him the evil eye. Even without a badge, they know he's Five-0 and guilty by association. That alone is enough to have him grind his jaw. But he keeps his temper because he wants to see Steve, sits quietly without saying the hundred things that have crossed his mind since he shuffled away from the desk.
Danny tried calling Ford's number earlier. The man told him he'd take care of everything, but the longer the radio silence stretches the more antsy Danny gets. Steve's arraignment is in two days and it's closing in like a noose around Steve's neck.
Finally - finally! - he gets let in to see Steve, and to Danny's surprise he's led into an actual little room where Steve is sitting on one side of the table and a pretty brunette woman in a business skirt and heels arches an eyebrow at him as he comes in.
"Detective Williams," she says cooly with a British accent.
"Danny!" Steve surges to his feet, and Danny's around the table and hugging him before he thinks twice. He's been doing a lot of hugging the past couple of days but this one, feeling Steve solid beneath his hands, is the best. It's over too soon and Danny self-consciously turns to the woman who's watching them with an indulgent curve to her lips.
"Ma'am," he says, looking at Steve for an introduction. Given the room she's probably his lawyer, and okay, Danny's glad to see he's gotten representation, but how does Steve keep scoring the really hot women?
But Steve's looking back at him confused.
"Janice Arlow, Esquire. Memberly Associates." The woman stands smoothly and extends her hand.
"Wait, you don't know each other?" Now Steve's gone from confused to worried though you couldn't tell unless you were Danny and knew the subtle differences. Worried has a lot in common with ready to pound's someone's face in.
"What? I just got here," says Danny, confused now too.
"She said you hired her!"
Steve's bristling and it puts Danny on edge too.
But Janice Arlow doesn't look ruffled at all. She smiles. "Detective Williams spoke with one of my partners when he engaged our services."
"Oh." That sinking feeling in his gut is nothing good. He sits and gets Steve hovering, which is annoying and slightly demoralizing since Steve is the one in prison and all.
"What's going on?" demands Steve. "How much are you charging, because I don't need you if -"
"I assure you Commander McGarrett, that price is not the issue. Detective Williams expressed some doubts about my credentials -"
"Doubts?" Danny chimes in because doubts are about the least of the things he expressed.
"That would perhaps be best not aired considering the … circumstances." Arlow twirls a finger to indicate the room, and yeah, they're still in a prison dealing with authorities that might not scruple to respect lawyer-client privacy. Normally, Danny wouldn't care. Normally, he wouldn't be implicated and Steve's life wouldn't be on the line. Still it takes everything he's got to swallow down the rant he's got building up about cons and thieves not being the best people to dispense justice, because Danny's seen their brand of justice and he doesn't want to be a part of it. No, his mission in life is to stop it.
He takes a deep breath and looks up at his partner. For the first time he really sees him -- the dark bags under his eyes, the way his tan's started to fade and the shadow on his jaw that's a bruise and not stubble. He looks ten years older and ten years old at the same time, and Danny wants to drag him out of here so much his chest hurts with it.
"It's fine. She's fine," he says because for all that he has doubts -- oh, and he has "doubts" all right -- Danny is frozen out of the investigation and Ford and his crew might be his best chance. They can serve as a distraction if nothing else while he figures out the rest. "As long as you're willing to talk about why you're really here."
Arlow meets him stare for stare with a slight huff that he would ever question her motives. "I am here to see that all charges against your very special partner here are dropped."
"By any means necessary," Danny can't help saying.
Arlow leans forward a little while Steve radiates confusion from ten feet above them.
"I am a lawyer," she says.
Danny wants to snarkily ask for her law degree but ends up giving in because, really, what else has he got? Chin under constant watch playing it straight, Kono still in jail, and Jenna on a public library computer trying to single handedly pull together a case against Wo Fat. Danny has seriously dropped the ball on getting Steve's name cleared.
But then, Arlow touches his arm, expression going serious and she looks up at Steve too, including him. "Let us help. You can't work this one from inside the system, trust me on that. We can clear you and Officer Kalakaua. But we need your help."
Danny looks up at Steve. Steve folds his arms across his chest and glares at Arlow.
"Oh, come on," she says practically chirping. "It's not like we haven't been discussing your case for the past twenty minutes. Shall I start?"
And she does. In painful detail that Danny can't help but be impressed with if it weren't creeping him out at the same time. Steve eventually sits back down, though he's still not happy.
Arlow is all business, and soon she has Steve grudgingly correcting her and Danny chiming in as things come together. Danny doesn't know whether it's a good idea or not, but as she and Steve talk evidence -- what was collected and what is mysteriously missing, and Danny is not asking how she knows what was and wasn't covered up -- it actually sounds like they're putting a case together as if this was real police work. Arlow and her people haven't made all the connections but they have all of Five-0's evidence and then some. Info on Wo Fat's Asian connections, more on his associates. Steve fills in some of the gaps to his father and Governor Jameson. Arlow fleshes out Wo Fat's history in China.
"And a guy named Sing Lao just took one of our informants on Wo Fat that we had in custody. He's probably dead by now. I don't suppose you have any intel on the new guy?" Danny adds as things wind down.
"Sang Min?" Arlow makes a face. "I wouldn't worry about him. Or Sing Lao, he doesn't know what's going on."
"Wait, what? That was you?" Steve, for being stuck in jail, catches on quicker than Danny.
"Well, not me," said Arlow with a touch of impatience. "I was getting through bloody security."
Danny blinks at her, then wants to knock his head against the table and wonders what it will take to get a straight answer from this woman about her gang of however many of them there are.
"Oh, and one last thing," says Arlow before either he or Steve can get a word in to untangle this new mess. "Do you have any recommendations for dinner?"
"Excuse me?" says Steve. "You just told us you kidnapped out witness and now want dinner recommendations?"
"Yes. There's nothing you can do about the other thing. But you can help by giving me the name of a nice high end place for courting business associates."
And that's it, Danny wants a refund for this week. The whiplash is killing him and he just got here.
Between them, he and Steve give her a couple names, and she rises to go. At the door, they hear her say, "And I expect to get a dinner there too, before we leave," to apparently no one. Or everyone.
When they're alone, Danny holds up a finger as soon as Steve opens his mouth. "Don't ask."
"Really, Danny? A lawyer who isn't --" Steve cuts himself off and leans close to hiss in his ear. "She was wired."
"I said, don't ask," says Danny again.
"I think I have every right to ask, since they are messing around with my case."
"I know! But I'd really rather not talk about how much I might have screwed up till after it's definitive it was a terrible idea. I already know it was a bad idea, but it was the only one I had, and in my defense they didn't give me a lot of choice."
"Who was she?" Steve demands anyway. "She knew way too much so I can only assume you told her."
"And they are apparently professionals." Danny should just stop.
"And how many is they?"
Danny gives him the puppy eyes. Maybe it'll stop Steve's jaw from ticking. It doesn't, not right away, but Steve's a stubborn bastard. Only there's not a lot he can do right now, as Arlow or whatever her name is so nicely pointed out, dressed as he is in an orange jumpsuit. And the moment Steve remembers, it's like watching the spark drain right out of him.
"I'm gonna get you out of here," Danny says, "and if they can help…" What passes between them is a silent conversation where Danny promises, cross his heart hope to die, pinky swear, and Steve says please in the only way he can.
When the guard knocks on the door, Danny claps Steve on the shoulder, then goes.
All the talk of evidence leads Danny back to the library to check in with Jenna. He needs to see how much money he has left for Kono's bail fund too. On the way he gets a phone call from the last person he expected or wanted to talk to.
"Stan? What the hell?"
"Danny. I could ask you the same thing."
Danny's got one hand on the wheel and the sudden urge to pull over. Fuck, this is not what he needs right now. On top of everything, the one thing that gave him a small modicum of peace of mind was knowing that Rachel and Grace were safe at his parents house in New Jersey. Stan hadn't even crossed his mind because honestly, while he doesn't want Stan dead exactly, he still hates the man for being what he couldn't be for Rachel.
He sees a sign for coffee and pulls over. He's going to need it to get through this conversation without driving off a cliff.
"Fine. What do you want? And I warn you I am having a shitty week."
"I know, I watch the news." Ah, there's the passive aggressive fucker Danny knows. "Are Rachel and Grace safe?"
"Yes." Danny doesn't think twice about that one, and because he's not completely petty, and he did just steal the man's wife, even if she was his first, he adds, "They're in Jersey with my parents."
"Oh thank God," Stan breathes a heavy sigh of relief into the phone. "I got Rachel's message and haven't heard anything else."
There's not much Danny can say to that so he doesn't. He pulls open the door to the cafe and gets in line. It's late afternoon so the place is a little crowded with tourists and locals both. The tv in the corner doesn't help the noise, but it's all enough of a distraction to displace some of his guilt.
Stan keeps talking. "She's was crying, and I know you two were … talking. I just wish I knew what I did -" Christ, Danny doesn't want to listen to this.
He puts a hand over the speaker, "Coffee, black, and no I don't care about any of that special crap, I just want a coffee," he tells the kid behind the counter, who thankfully gets it.
"Listen, Stan," he says back to his phone as he moves to the other end of the counter. "Did Rachel tell you -" The tv is playing the news previews.
"I can guess," Stan snaps, and yeah, Danny probably deserves that. "You sent her that letter, and the phone calls, and suddenly I was the last person she was talking to. I don't want to know how far it went. I can't… I just… I'm going to fight for her, you understand?"
But Danny's still stuck on, "What letter?"
"The letter! The one you sent a month ago!" Stan's pissed, but Danny's confused and getting less so by the horrifying second.
"What was in the letter?"
"I don't know! She never let me see it. And why are you asking that? She said you sent it."
Danny thinks about all the people he's pissed off in the last year working for Five-0, he thinks about Wo Fat and how he almost got on that plane. Then speak of the devil.
On the tv, the news turns to a long shot of the new governor walking out of a building. On one side is Nathan Ford. On the other is Wo Fat. Trailing them all like a goddamn dog is Ford's muscle.
"It wasn't me," he says into the phone. "Stan, I gotta go."
He doesn't even grab his coffee on his way out.
"This is like a scavenger hunt."
"I love scavenger hunts!"
"Will you two hurry up? Some of us are walking on thin ice down here."
"It's Hawai'i, Eliot, there is no ice."
"It's a metaphor, Parker!"
"Dude, chill. We're working as fast as we can here. Old Man McGarrett was a cryptic bastard and our friend Stevie wasn't much better with organizing this stuff. And then the cops got their hands on it."
"Eliot, where are you. I need you and Wo Fat in position in two hours."
"I'm working on it, but this guy does not like me and he isn't exactly known for his patience."
"Keep at it. Sophie?"
"Please tell me that wasn't a cash register I just heard."
"Oh please, as if I would buy anything while on the job, Nate. … Oh, thank you. You shouldn't have. You're such a dear."
"Where are we going?" Jenna braces herself in the passenger seat of the Camaro. Danny had texted her to meet him at the doors and now they're driving at Steve McGarrett speeds on windy roads. He already called Rachel -- and woken her up in the middle of the night on the East coast -- and heard she and Grace were okay. He'd deal with everything else Stan told him later when he had time. When Wo fucking Fat and Nathan fucking Ford weren't hobnobbing with the new governor ready to hang Steve at dawn.
Not that Danny has any idea what they were talking about, but what else can it be.
"To get answers," says Danny. "Did you call Chin?"
"He's posting Kono's bail. If I knew where we were going I could tell him where to meet us."
"Ka'a'awa Valley." He gives her what amounts to an address.
"Toast!" he yells as soon as they pull up within shouting distance. The jungle hut isn't crowded today, in fact no one's around outside at all. Danny doesn't waste too much time worrying about it and instead barges into the main house. It's an open plan room with wicker furniture and pillows everywhere except for a desk decked out with equipment. And what they find instead of Toast has Danny wishing he stopped at his apartment for his back up gun.
The fake FBI agent Thomas startles hard, nearly falling off his chair.
"Oh, man, don't do that! You gave me a heart attack!" he says, righting himself. He dusts his hands on the front of his shirt. "You don't just sneak up on a guy trying to do his work! Haven't you heard of knocking?"
"No. Who are you?"
"Who am I? You're supposed to be keeping clear of us," says Thomas.
"Look, I got zero patience right now, so you better-"
"You got zero patience!" says Thomas with a disbelieving tilt to his head, eyes going wide and indignant. "The best hacker you know lives in the middle of the trees? There's bugs out here, man! I was talking about a five star hotel with room service."
"Where's Toast?" Danny demands, sick of this guy already.
"The dude you said was a hacker? He and his pals went off to get lollipops. You could have warned me he was a pothead."
As he runs his mouth -- is this what Steve means when he says Danny never shuts up -- Danny takes four strides across the room and has Thomas by his t-shirt. "What the hell game are you people playing?" He bends Thomas, already throwing up his hands and protesting, backwards over the desk and gets in his face. "Your man Ford was with Wo Fat and the governor!"
"Hey!" "Danny!" The yelp from Jenna, gets his attention for a split second. Long enough to turn his head and see that the blonde, fake agent Hagen, has Jenna in a headlock and something stuck into the small of her back.
"Let him go!" she says. She is a hair shorter than Jenna but her eyes locked on Danny make her seem twice as tall. Danny lets Thomas go.
"Thank you!" Thomas says loudly and sarcastically. "I'm fine. Thanks for asking. What the hell is the cop doing here anyway?" It takes Danny a second as he backs off, showing Hagen his hands, to realize Thomas is talking to thin air the same way Arlow had.
Hagen slowly lets Jenna go when Danny is on the other side of the room. "He had Hardison," she says, another non-sequitur to an invisible audience.
She doesn't have a gun, and Danny hasn't really calmed down, but Jenna meets his eyes and nods, shaky but okay, so he feels justified to start yelling again. "I want to know, and you people are going to tell me, just what the hell is going on, right now, or I swear to God, I will not be responsible for -" Hagen sidles closer to Hardison as he talks and he is totally not expecting the taser that suddenly seizes up his body in the most painful contortions that Danny has ever experienced before he blessedly passes out.
Danny's chest hurts when he wakes up. He blinks and wonders why he's on the floor. Above him he can hear voices and it takes him a moment to place the palm roof above him, the too bright pillows around him, and the faint smell of marihuana.
"Tracing it now," he hears Thomas -- Hardison -- say. "Okay. Got it, we're good. And you! Can you stop hovering? I can't think within ten feet of a cop."
Danny lifts his head blearily and is surprised to see Chin backing away from Hardison's shoulder. Across the room, Jenna and Kono are behind another computer. The blonde menace is no where to be seen.
"Kono," Danny croaks. Everyone turns to him, smiles breaking out on Chin and Kono's faces as Danny struggles to his elbows. Kono looks exhausted, but glad to see him.
Hardison barely glances at him, and Danny points a finger at him. "You! Don't think I've forgotten." He makes it to his feet in time for Kono to steady him before wrapping her up in a relieved hug.
"Cop's awake," says Hardison to his invisible people.
"Hey, Danny," says Kono.
"Hey. You doing all right?" Danny lets his hands fall to Kono's shoulders when he steps back.
"Yeah, brah. It's all good now. Better anyway. I hear you've been busy."
Danny rolls his eyes. "Busy getting my ass handed to me. I just got here. All this…" He waves a hand to encompass Hardison and everything out of control, and Kono smirks.
"Chin filled me in."
"While this is touching and all, Nate wants us gone in twenty, and I personally want to be out of here in ten," Hardison stands and makes a shooing motion with his hands.
"And who put you in charge, huh?" Danny asks. His joy at seeing Kono gives way for the reason he came up here in the first place looking for Toast.
"Can we stop with the macho bullshit please? Cause I can call Parker back in here if you want."
"No, I do not want. What I want," Danny is sick of the run around, "is to know what the hell is going on."
"We're setting up Wo Fat to take the fall for the murder your friend did."
Danny whirls around and sees Hagen who apparently appeared out of thin air. She's wearing black and some sort of harness type thing "You!"
"He was innocent, Parker," Hardison says with the air of a man who has repeated himself a dozen times. "She was guilty," he points at Kono who flushes.
"Danny, they got all the evidence," says Chin, stepping between them, and Danny knows he's diverting his attention and hates a little that it works. "Everything John McGarrett had, everything in Jameson's office, all of it. Plus stuff we didn't have."
"What? Already?" Danny looks from Chin to Hardison and Parker.
"Yes," says Hardison, shutting lap tops and stuffing things into bags. "And we're going to give it to you. As soon as you get in your sweet ride and drive off this godforsaken mountain."
"We're in a valley," says Kono, arms across her chest decidedly not happy. "And you can give it to us now."
Hardison looks like he's going to protest again, but Danny folds his arms and turns toward him too and on the other side, Chin rounds out the line. Hardison shuts his mouth and swallows.
"Nate?" He waits for a moment, listening for orders, then nods. "Okay. This is the deal. We got all the evidence, everything they were going to use against McGarrett, everything that was going to be swept under the rug. I gave Jenna the run down and the usb key." He, of all things, smiles over their shoulders at Jenna who awkwardly waves back. "We put everything, and I mean everything back into police evidence and planted a few seeds with forensics, who are by and large not corrupt. All you gotta do is get to the new governor in," he checks his watch, "the next hour, and you're golden. Can we go now?"
That was too easy, Danny thinks, and Chin says, "What aren't you telling us?"
"That's it! That's the plan! Wo Fat shows up, boom! He's arrested. That's why Nate's with the governor, setting him up to walk right into it!"
Danny glances at Chin and Kono. Both of them are as wary as he is. Something still isn't adding up, but Danny can't put his finger on it. Hell, it could be the mess of a situation they're in, plus the fact that he just got tasered.
Jenna pipes up then and says it looks like the evidence is good, and that'll have to be enough for now. Danny's let these people come this far and they have absolutely no dog in this fight. He can't figure out any angle they might have for going after Steve and Five-0, and for all that they're criminals he still isn't getting a bad vibe off of them.
So they pile into their cars. Hardison and Parker take their van that was pulled around back.
"You think this will work?" Danny asks Jenna as they follow Chin and Kono.
She stares straight ahead out the window. "I think it would have taken us a month to do what they did in a few days," she says.
Danny lets out a breath. Well, he's all in now. This had better work.
"I didn't think I'd hear from you again, Spencer."
"Parker, how's it coming."
"Trust me, I wasn't too happy about it either."
"Working here. This door is stickier than a swollen Kreiger."
"No, don't… well, fine, kick it. See if I care that you attract the attention of every cop in the next room. And uh, Eliot? You might want to wrap things up. Wo Fat just got on the phone and I don't think he's calling his mama."
"I know the accommodations are sparse, but please make yourselves at home. Excuse me….Hardison, how much time do I have?"
"Dammit, Hardison! I'm halfway in the middle of nowhere!"
"Look, I got my own thing happening here. Drive fast or something."
"Just get here, Eliot. Sophie and I will stall."
"That was my contact at the Governor's office. You want Wo Fat, I need your men to come with me now."
Hardison is a lying liar who lies. Danny is honest to god wheezing, he's pounding the pavement so hard, but he's not Steve and he can't catch up with a car speeding away and weaving through traffic.
"Son of a bitch!" He still has no gun, still has no badge, though he's been promised both back, so all he can do is fucking stand there while Wo Fat gets away.
Oh, it had gone just like Hardison said at first. They met the governor -- had an appointment even thanks to Ford who was somehow on his staff -- they made their case for Steve and against Wo Fat, calls were made to the department, reports that Danny was almost a hundred percent certain had not been written yesterday were suddenly in the system. It was all perfect.
And when Wo Fat showed up, an HPD escort was ready for him. Marching him to the car, all hell had broken loose. It happened so fast, the shots fired, the masked men, the getaway. Danny barely had time to regret not having bullets to put in the tires before it was over.
He hears more people running up behind him. It's Kono and Chin jogging over, he sees when he turns around. Chin has his gun out, and they're both out of breath too.
"We have any way to track that car?" Danny demands, heart sinking when Chin just looks at him. They stare at where the car went, and Danny curses that the camaro had been too far away to give chase.
"Don't worry. He won't get far." Nathan Ford saunters up, stopping just out of Danny's reach. Danny could kill him. In fact he's going to, he thinks, as he stalks toward Ford. Chin doesn't bother to stop him. Kono's turning with him, and only Muscles popping up in his face from behind Ford keeps Danny from wringing the scumbag's neck.
Ford, the fucker, only looks mildly surprised that Danny's so upset. Muscles honest to God growls at him till he backs off, and Danny nearly pops him one anyway.
Ford nods down the road after the car. "Wo Fat's rescue is from people he'd probably rather avoid."
"Oh yeah? And just how do you know that? How was that not his network of wildly connected people?"
"Because we called them and told them to come."
Danny lunges, but Muscles grabs him and holds him back, and it would be embarrassing how easily he manhandles Danny except Danny's too pissed off to care.
"Back off, man, it's under control."
Danny gets himself loose enough to take a swing that Muscles blocks easily. Then Chin's there pulling him back, and Kono's saying, "You better explain."
Ford shrugs. "We sent one of Wo Fat's associates in China a message and told him he was being double crossed."
"That's it? You just called up a crime lord and said, hey, would you mind taking this problem off our hands?"
"Well, we made Wo Fat his problem first," says Ford with a little smile. "Now," he reaches into his breast pocket and hands a piece of paper to Danny. "It's a little late in the day to pick him up, but tomorrow morning, McGarrett's paperwork should be through the system."
The paper is signed and sealed by the governor and the prosecuting attorney dropping all charges effective immediately. After laying out their case, Danny had no doubt that this would be the outcome, but holding the order in his hands, makes it real all of a sudden. Steve's free. Or will be in the morning.
"Go home, detective," says Ford. "You're going to have a busy day tomorrow." And with that befuddling and totally unhelpful comment, he and Muscles walk off. Back out front, Danny sees Arlow chatting with the governor while HPD clean up the mess on the front lawn.
"Does anyone else feel like they need a cheat sheet for that conversation?" asks Kono.
"Yeah. If they hadn't gotten Steve off…" says Chin. And Danny knows what he means.
"Come on," Danny says. "Let's go figure out what they did."
None of them go home and sleep, and despite their best efforts they can't pin down exactly what Ford and his people did while they were schmoozing with the governor. And no one's seen hide nor hair of Parker and Hardison since they left Toast's. The other three are quick to disappear too.
But that night around eleven an anonymous tip calls in gun shots heard in Ka'a'awa Valley.
They find Wo Fat with a bullet through his head half a mile from the jungle hut. Staring at it in the blaze of the search lights, cops and dogs everywhere, Danny can't help but wonder if Muscles did this. But no, at the house, they find a sheet on floor with a Chinese gang sign that Jenna matches to a man named Sing Lao.
Danny can't think any more. He doesn't know what day it is. Kono couldn't come to the scene, and Chin's outside helping organize the search for any evidence that may be lying around now that they have a murder on their hands. Part of Danny doesn't care if they find any or not.
He goes home. He gets some sleep. In the morning, bright and early he drives to the jail.
The parking lot is big and empty except for one other car with a guy sitting on the hood. When Danny gets close enough he sees it's Muscles and parks next to him.
"I thought you'd be long gone by now," he says conversationally as he gets out of the Camaro. Sleep is an amazing thing. Sleep and the fact that Steve will be walking free any minute now. Ford's crew didn't do anything about Kono, but Danny feels like Five-0 can handle anything now that they're back together. He's feeling generous right now.
"Just had something to drop off for you guys," says Muscles. "Then we're taking Hardison sky diving. Parker's idea since she can't jump off the volcano." He grins suddenly like it's the best idea in the world, and Danny thinks of the guy who hates bugs and the jungle and lied to him and grins too.
He doesn't get a chance to say anything else because just then the gates start opening, and about a minute after that, Steve's walking out. He's in all black but he's grinning.
Danny meets him halfway, and the handshake he offers gets him pulled into a hug, Steve's strong arms wrapped around him for a moment, then a double tap to the back. It's all very manly, and Danny doesn't want to let him go when they part.
"I have to admit, Danno, I wasn't expecting such a quick turn around," says Steve.
"Yeah, well," Danny wishes he could take full credit, "I had help." He never did learn Arlow's real name.
Muscles is still by the cars, only now he's closing the trunk on the camaro -- Danny tells the headache to go away, it's too early.
"Hey, hey, what do you think you're doing?" he shouts. "That's my car!" Beside him Steve has gone still.
"Hey, McGarrett!" Muscles calls with another grin and a wave. "Good to see you're still alive."
"Spencer," says Steve slowly like he's still wrapping his head around seeing the guy, and Danny looks back and forth between them, and yes, that is a Look.
"Wait, you know each other? What?"
But Steve's looking at Danny like he's the one who's crazy here. And yes, Danny will concede that the last, what? two days?, have been insane like nothing he's gone through before meeting McNinja SEAL, but he is not the one that knows the thief, conman, whatever.
"You hired an international hit man to get me out of prison?" says Steve.
"Hey - retrieval specialist, not hit man. I get things not people," says Muscles, leaning on the door to his car, half in half out. He still has half a smirk on his face, and for a second Danny doesn't know where to look.
"He's wanted in a dozen countries!"
"You're welcome!" Muscles shouts. "Good luck, detective." And he gets in his car, honking twice as he peels out.
"I cannot believe I am the voice for breaking the law here, but you're out of prison, Wo Fat's dead, and I don't give a flying fuck about Ford or his people," says Danny. "You're the bright spot in my day so don't go ruining it."
Steve's grin is quick to return. "The bright spot, huh?"
Danny thinks about Kono and Stan and Rachel and all the shit left to deal with that he wants to bury under a spiky pineapple and forget about. But right here with Steve he feels like he can finally breathe again. He shoves Steve in the chest, shaking his head. "Don't let it go to your head."
The laugh that comes out of Steve's throat is deep and happy. Danny grins as he gets in the car to take them home.
It's not till they're back at Headquarters that he remembers that Spencer put something in the trunk. When they pop it open, they find Sang Min, unconscious and tied up with a bow.
"Look at you, brah! You were starting to lose your tan!"
"Heaven forbid he lose his tan!"
"I am so glad to see you. You all okay?"
"After the stunt you pulled?"
"What about you, Kono?"
"What is it, Jenna?"
"Kono's been cleared."
"Look! The forensic accounting came back and the serial numbers on all the bills match the ones on the intake receipt."
"But they don't match. That's how they figured out the money was missing originally and that we took it."
"Looks like the list got… fixed."
"We really need to stop breaking the law."
"That's not all."
"They only checked the list and scanned bills again because all the money in the locker's been stolen."
High above Hawaii, in the bright blue sky, three people throw themselves out of an airplane. Two shriek with joy, one just shrieks, while on the ground the other two members of their crew sip pina coladas on a private beach and pretend they aren't smugly satisfied with the duffle bags at their feet.