Danny walked into Five-0 in an exceptionally good mood. The three months since he had moved into Gabby’s house had been a transitional time – and sometimes that transition had been tough – but they had finally settled into the happy co-existence that make living with someone else so much better than living alone.
Helping himself to a cup of coffee – Boca Jave, the expensive stuff meant Kono was seeing Ben Bass again, which was a damn shame since he showed up only long enough to ruin whatever good relationship she had going and then disappear again – Danny saw Steve already sitting at his desk. That had been something else to get used to: not picking Steve up every morning. Gabby’s house was in the opposite direction from the Palace. Also, now that Catherine was Lt. McGarrett, she wasn’t crazy about having someone, even Danny, walking into her house every morning.
“Morning Danny,” Lori greeted him as she poured her cup of coffee. “Wow, gourmet coffee again. How many times is Kono going to let Bass do this to her?” Lori sounded frustrated on her friend’s behalf.
“It’s easy for us to see,” Danny agreed, “but Kono will have to realize it for herself.”
Lori nodded, glancing over at Steve’s office, “Is something wrong today? Steve looks like he’s in a mood.”
Danny took a real look at Steve and realized Lori was right. Steve was upset about something, “Maybe the Governor rejected his ammunition requisition again?” he suggested.
“Maybe,” Lori smiled over the rim of her coffee mug and headed for her office.
Danny studied Steve for another minute. After being partners and best friends for almost 4 years, he could read every expression McGarrett had and right now he had the same look he’s had that time the gang of female bandits had gotten the jump on them and almost thrown them in a volcano. It was a combination of anger and disbelief, with a touch of fear that this might be the time their luck ran out. Sighing softly as he felt his own good mood slipping away, Danny went to find out what was troubling the former SEAL.
Steve looked up to meet his eyes as Danny entered his office. Danny felt his blood run cold. He had never seen Steve look quite like that, and it scared him.
“Danny, sit down,” Steve sounded hoarse and his complexion had gone grey under his tan, “I don’t have much time and there are things we need to go over.”
“Are you dying?” Danny had wanted to lighten the mood but his words fell like lead between them.
Steve smiled but it was utterly devoid of humor, “No, not dying. The Navy has recalled me to active duty.”
“You’re not going,” Danny said simply, as if nothing else could be true. Seeing the sad smile Steve gave him convinced him this was really happening, “You can’t go!”
“You’ve always known this could happen,” Steve reminded him patiently, “That’s why I have reserve training one weekend a month. I know you’re aware of it, you complain about it enough.”
“What will happen to Five-0?” Danny demanded, “We need you – you’re our fearless leader.”
“I spoke to Governor Denning first thing this morning. You’ll be the Acting Head of Five-0. Your rank will temporarily be raised to Captain. He’s not going to assign anyone new to you, but if the four of you need help, you can pull from HPD.” Steve held his eyes for a long moment, “Keep them safe, Danny.”
There was one more argument Danny could think to make. It was low, but these were desperate times, “How can leave Catherine right now? She’s nine weeks pregnant. She’s going to need you.”
Steve flinched, “I know that!” He took a few deep breathes and, when he spoke again, his voice was even again, “I don’t want to go but I have to. I know that this is a lot to ask – I’m already giving you Five-0 – but do you think you can stop by once in a while, make sure Catherine’s okay?”
“Of course I will,” Danny was angry that Steve thought this was some kind of unwanted obligation, “We’ll all check in on her. The poor woman will get tired of having us underfoot.”
Steve sat back in his chair and let out a deep breath, “Thank you.”
Danny forced himself to ask the question he absolutely did not want the answer to, “When do you leave?”
“I have to report tonight at 6:00,” Steve replied bleakly.
Danny felt like all of the air had been sucked out of the room, “Tonight? You’re leaving tonight?”
Steve nodded slowly, “I got the call just after dinner last night. Cat and I talked, a lot. I came in this morning to tell each of you personally. They gave Catherine the day off. I’m going to go home and just – I don’t know – spend time with her, with them.”
“Can we see you off tonight?” Danny asked tentatively, “Is that allowed? Grace will want to say goodbye.”
“How about if everyone comes by the house about 4:30? That will give us an hour. Then Cat can drive me down to Pearl,” Steve paused, “Then maybe you guys can be there when she get home. So she’s not alone.”
“Of course we’ll be there.” Danny watched Chin head for his own office, envying the other man for his blissful ignorance. Suddenly, Danny had another thought, “How long will you be gone? Chin and Malia are getting married in less than three months. You’re in the wedding party.”
“I know. I don’t know how long I’ll be gone,” Steve looked miserable, “I have to go talk to Chin now.”
Steve started to rise but Danny stopped him with a question, “You know something you’re not telling me, don’t you?”
“I don’t know anything, but,” Steve leaned forward and lowered his voice, “Catherine and I both made some calls last night. The absolute only thing we found out came from Joe. He told me that he has no intel on the mission, but he does know that the Navy is mobilizing every SEAL.”
“Every SEAL,” Danny was stunned, “Isn’t that like 2000 men?”
Steve gave Danny the same look his sometimes gave him when they came to the realization that they were not going to be in time to save a hostage and there was nothing they could do about it. “Something really bad is happening, Danny. I don’t know what it is, but it’s big. I consider you my brother. I need to know that you’ll keep our family safe while I’m gone,” Steve’s voice had become desperate, “Promise me!”
Danny found himself nodding, “I promise.”