McGarrett appeared in her office door. If she was being honest, she had to admit that she'd kind of made it easy, what with her habit of propping the door open. For a while there, there'd been a beautiful silent conspiracy. Everybody but Danny opened the windows and propped their doors open. McGarrett would turn the A/C off and see how long it would take for Danny to crack.
Usually, it didn't take long.
Even once they'd stopped collectively tormenting him that way—and, really, they wouldn't do it if he didn't make it so fucking easy—the habit had stuck. Leaving the glass door propped open. Most of the time it wasn't like she had anything she needed to hide from the team.
And the more she left the door open, the more her boss saw it as some sort of challenge. Like he had a pathological need to sneak up on her. She had a plan, though. She was getting a lot better at, well, hearing him approach might be too generous a description. More like the little hairs on the back of her neck stood on end a few seconds before she saw him. "Yeah, boss?" she asked without looking up from the computer screen.
When several seconds later, she did look up at him, Kono wasn't exactly surprised to see a hint of a smile playing around underneath the mostly blank expression he had on his face. It was a thing. The two of them. Constantly testing the abilities of the other.
Really, it no longer surprised anyone that Steve and Kono had about 18 standing friendly competitions going on. Former Surfing Pros and Annapolis grads were really peas in a pod in the challenge department.
"Kono, given what happened today, I think maybe we should consider making sure Agent Kaye has some more experience."
As she met McGarrett's eyes, Kono raised an eyebrow and waited a beat. When she didn't see any signs he was joking, she rolled her eyes. For someone who was so good at reading certain kinds of intel, Lt. Commander Steve McGarrett could be really spectacularly oblivious some times.
"Boss, I'm going to need you to be slightly more specific. Experience covers a wide range of activities." She used her feet to shove her chair back from the desk as she said it. It's possible she enjoyed the roll and glide a little too much. She also might have added an unnecessary spin like a flourish as she turned to face him. "You thinking about bringing her onto the team full time? You think you can get the governor to exert that kind of pull to get the Agency to retask an analyst to us?"
McGarrett sort of sat/leaned on the corner of Kono's desk. Both she and Steve watched his hands as he let them come to rest on his weapon and then went back to his sides. "Kaye showed a certain amount of initiative the other day. I suspect she's not going to stop showing initiative. Some of that initiative was good when it was directed into areas she's trained for. If she hadn't been on the scene and known about chemical weapons . . . "
Kono took a deep breath and, for a moment, let herself fully feel the possibility that they all knew would have been the likely outcome of events if Kaye had not recognized the Sarin for what it was, and then she shoved those emotions right back into the compartment she kept for them. No time for those now. She rolled closer and reached out and put a hand on Steve's forearm. "But she was here."
As Steve nodded, Kono could practically see him inside his head putting himself back together and squaring his own emotions away in his own lockboxes. "She also managed to hit Sang Min with a police cruiser, and that was after she got out of the handcuffs I used to attach her to the car to keep her out of the fray."
She couldn't help it. She threw her head back and laughed. "I know, brah. You were great. 'Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't there a car attached to you?' She was pretty quick on the uptake too. If you're auditioning her for the team, I vote for someone who can talk on her feet like that."
Shaking his head and smiling, Steve laughed. "Don't remind me. You, Chin, Danny—when you guys do that stuff, I know you can take care of yourself. You've been trained. Kaye, on the other hand—"
"It's like dropping a noob into Pipe, I know."
"So, she sticking around?"
Kono was utterly unsurprised when McGarrett's response was a shrug. "Dunno. She'll be here for the foreseeable future, though, and with things with Wo Fat and Sang Min heating up—"
"You want to start training her for the field?"
McGarrett drew a deep breath and exhaled it before he spoke. "No. I'd like her to stay in the office or safely behind us in the field, but current data suggests that that's not very likely. I assess things based on probability, and the probability that she won't be in the line of fire—through her doing or someone else's—is low. She needs a lot more training before she should be anywhere near the field, but if she's not going to have that time, we might as well get started. Plus when Sang Min came into HQ, she was the only unarmed one. That makes her look like an easier target."
Kono raised an eyebrow. She did that a lot around McGarrett. "You don't think it's dangerous to—"
Steve got to his feet and took about three paces away. "No, I, I know it's dangerous to send a half-trained operator of any kind into the field. But if she's going to send herself out there—which precedent says she is—or if the field is going to come into HQ—which precedent also suggests is only more likely to happen in the future than it already is now, in this one case, some training might be better than no training."
"You want me to take her out to the range, then?"
Steve nodded. "Getting her up to speed in CQB is going to take longer than firearms. So, yeah."
"You got a preference about which guns we work with?"
McGarrett turned to face her. "What do we have in the locker? Anything you like as a possibility there?"
Kono felt her smile turn wolfish. "You turning me loose in the firearms locker, boss?"
She watched as McGarrett rubbed his hand across his forehead. "Just keep it under the radar, okay? The only—and I do mean only—upside to having Danny out of commission was not having to listen to him rant about my Rambo tendencies. He's still off his game enough that he hasn’t worked back up to full strength rants just yet. I'm okay with a decrease in rant, and I'm pretty sure if he knew you were loose in the firearms locker—"
Kono threw her head back and laughed again then got up from her chair. "You got a point, boss. Also you're more Chief Urgayle than Rambo. For the record. Once we get this thing with the drug traffickers locked down, I'll take her out to the range. And I'll do my best to make sure no neurotic HPD detective transplants are harmed in the process."
As McGarrett walked away, she swore she heard him mutter something along the lines of her boss saying that he wouldn't go quite that far.
If she smiled as she contemplated the many, many reasons that her boss so enjoyed riling Danny up, it certainly wasn't to distract her from other things. Nope. Not at all.
Kono was standing behind Kaye, who currently had her arms extended in front of her in the classic firing stance. Kono's arms were wrapped around the outside of Kaye's as she adjusted the agent's stance. Clearly, she'd had some training with firearms before. Kaye had picked the .22 up carefully and kept it aimed at the ground. She had known enough to pull the slide back and check to see if there was a bullet in the chamber before she effortlessly slid the magazine of ammo into place. But when it came to firing, Kaye was far less comfortable. Any previous training in that seemed like it was a long time ago or hadn't quite taken.
"You done much of this before?" Kono asked, desperately trying to keep her own thoughts from wandering into double entendre territory . . . and failing rather spectacularly. In her defense, she did have the front of her body pressed flush against the back of Kaye's. There were limits to everything, and hey, she was only human. And Kaye was clearly nervous—breathing a little faster than normal, her skin flush with sweat that was all out of proportion from the actual temperature at an indoor, air-conditioned firing range.
Kono pulled her mind back before it started picturing Kaye outside in the sun because that led to thinking about her on a beach, and that led to . . . places Kono wasn't supposed to let her mind go at work. With a gun between her hands. Even if there was also a hot woman between her legs.
"Little bit. Long time ago. But I've never felt comfortable with it. The guns, I mean." Kaye's voice pulled her back to the present.
Kono pulled back a bit and looked closely at Kaye's stance, trying to figure out whether shifting something slightly might make it more comfortable. Truthfully, it didn't need much adjustment. If Kono was honest, Kaye wasn't half bad. She had good instincts, good timing, and great aim. What she lacked was confidence and comfort. Kono was hopeful that if she could find a pistol that Kaye liked, Kaye would be field ready a lot sooner than any of them had any right to expect. She stepped close and shifted the position of Kaye's left hand slightly, settling the gun a bit more solidly into Kaye's palm. Should steady the grip a bit. Then she slid her hands up Kaye's arms and let her hands rest on Kaye's shoulders. She hoped the weight and pressure would get those shoulders down from so close to Kaye's ears.
Moving her hands to Kaye's shoulders put a little more distance between the two of them, but it wasn't enough. It wasn't nearly enough. Kono was still so close she couldn't help but inhale the subtleties of Kaye's scent—her shampoo something that was lightly floral but mostly citrus. There was also a hint of detergent from those pairs of shirts Kaye insisted on layering. The fact that Kaye was sweating was activating her deodorant, and that was mixing with the other scents. But woven through it all was an underlying layer of good, honest sweat. Kono was also painfully aware of the tension running through Kaye's body. As Kono pushed slightly forward again and reached her hands to readjust Kaye's hands one more time, the other woman was practically trembling. Nerves, probably. Since Kono was pressed up against Kaye's the long curve of Kaye's body, from the exposed nape of her neck, over the swell of her surprisingly muscular shoulders, into the shelter of her lower back, and then down to the swell of her pert ass and strong thighs, there was no way not to notice it. "Relax," she said, quietly, just above Kaye's right ear. She wondered if she imagined the hint of a shudder moving through Kaye's body at those words. "The best shots are good because of how still the shooter is when she fires. Remember, they train snipers to fire between breaths—between heartbeats."
Her first answer was a short bark of a laugh. "Then I am definitely not sniper material, I don't think."
Kono let her forehead rest on the back of Kaye's head for a split second before she pulled back. Definitely flower-scent free shampoo. And not washed today. A thought which brought up images of Kaye in the shower, and . . . Kono was so determined not to go there, so she pulled back. "I don't know about that, Kaye. You worked intel. That meant a lot of time looking at surveillance data. That's pretty much what snipers do. The shooting part is a tiny percentage of their job. Most of the time, they hang back and watch life through a scope. Report back on what they see. I would think that would be maybe the easiest shooting task for you. You have the patience and the focus for it. For some of us, that comes hard." And, oh God, Kono hadn't meant to phrase it like that.
She felt Kaye pull slightly away from the places they touched, and Kono let her go. No need to push. She could be reading this wrong. Truth was Kono tended to get a little amped up when she smelled gun oil—when she felt the heavy weight of all that metal and coiled energy in her hands. When the hearing protection couldn’t hide the thump of the concussion of a shot being fired somewhere in her chest that felt like adrenaline and power and other good things.
"Clearly, in whatever background checks and random quasi-legal digging you did, you talked to none of my instructors. There's a long history of me having trouble sitting still—"
Kono scoffed. "Only if you're bored, Kaye. I've seen you when you're at work on a problem that has your full attention. Now, relax and focus."
She may have stepped back, but Kono was still close enough to sense the rise and fall of Kaye's body at the other woman tried to follow the directions. "I know that, in my brain, but—"
"This is all about muscle memory, Kaye." She tried to convey calm with her words and her own stance, even as inside, calm wasn't at all what she was feeling. "Act as if you can do it, and you will."
"Jenna. Please. If you're going to watch me suck at something this much, can we be on a first name basis?"
Kono took a step back, her eyes trained on the Ruger Mk III in the other woman's hands. Plenty of experience had taught Kono that some people have a hard time remembering not to point a loaded gun at another person unless they're planning to use it. People who aren't comfortable with guns often forget they're holding a firearm and start waving their hands around while talking with the loaded gun still in those hands. It was a bad idea, but that was the problem. People who did it weren't thinking or were distracted into forgetting about the gun. Kono wasn't sure which way Jenna would break. Kaye's personality could really go either way. Sometimes the woman locked on to problems like a heat-seeking missile, but other times even basic social conversations were awkward for her. Kono could only wait and see which way this shook out. "Jenna, this is not sucking. You're just," she pulled back and moved to Jenna's right side so she knew she was within her field of vision, "up against people who really don't suck. If we'd dropped you into a normal unit that wasn't made up of people who liked to break records daily, you'd be holding your own already on this front. You proved you can outdo us on some fronts." Kono smiled, trying to lighten the mood. "You caught the claymore detail before McGarrett, and don't even try to say that he wouldn't have known the details of that mine."
Jenna rolled her eyes, but Kono knew what those tactics were about. "Now, stop delaying and try the friggin' gun. After you put the headset on. Danny doesn't seem to realize that his tirades about tinnitus are practically loud enough to cause it. And I don't want to hear 'em again, so those go on so I don't get yelled at."
Kono watched as Jenna centered herself and fired ten shots at the paper target. Kono pressed the button next to them and brought the target closer. All ten had hit the page, but only three were in the kill zone. Not bad, but not where Kono had hoped they'd be by the end of the day.
"How's it feel, this one?" she asked, as she pulled her own hearing protection off.
Kono smiled with approval as Kaye kept the barrel pointed away from the both of them and then met Kono's eyes. "Not so great. Better than the revolver we tried first. Is there a safety on this thing? Also, I suck at muscle memory."
Laughing, Kono took the pistol away from Kaye. She tried not to notice the little flutters in her gut that erupted when her hand brushed Kaye's. Not the time or the place in so very many ways. "That's a .22. Most LEOs use 9 mil."
Kaye cocked her head, like she often did when she was thinking. "Why? I mean, I see now why people don't carry revolvers in the field, but why 9 millimeter?"
Kono shrugged. "Dunno, really. I suspect people think it's because if everyone's carrying the same gun, you can swap ammo, but since different guns have different magazines, it's not as practical as the beancounters think. Probably has more to do with contracts with specific gun manufacturers than anything else. Or being able to buy fewer kinds of ammo for the whole force. Lots of people think 9 millimeter ammo is much bigger than .22, but they're not really. More likely it's so nobody puts really big holes in the people they shoot. If everyone managed to avoid friendly fire or collateral damage, the legal teams would probably worry less about how big the exit wound looked. The point in .22 tells you it's a fraction of an inch; 9 millimeter is a metric measurement. Line 'em up, and you'll see. Smaller ammo, though, really means that you're relying on your aim to stop a target."
"It ever bother you?" Kaye asked, as she watched the new paper target Kono had attached to the hander before pushing the button and watching it zip downrange away from them. The paper targets with their concentric circles of black rings and numbers inside a very rough sketch of a human torso were clearly meant to approximate the human body.
"Does what bother me?" Kono had already secured the Ruger and was pulling out the M1911 from the lockbox she'd used for transpo. She had a feeling that this was the gun Kaye was going to like. The conventional wisdom might be that a new shooter preferred a smaller caliber pistol with a less noticeable kick, but Kono suspected that Kaye would to take to gun with a bigger caliber bullet. Maybe that was wishful thinking. Until Kaye's aim got better, Kono would feel better if Kaye had the ability to put bigger holes in the bad guys.
"Dehumanizing them. Calling them targets rather than people."
Kono stopped, the .45 pistol in her hands, its safety still on. "No. And if you can't get past that, Jenna, you cannot go into the field with a gun in your hands."
From the way Jenna's head pulled back slightly, Kono could tell Kaye hadn't expected that response. Kono realized that maybe her voice had come out harsher than she meant.
To her credit, though, Jenna simply asked, "Why not?" No judgment. No moralizing. Just honest curiosity. At that, Kono's estimation of Kaye went up a notch.
"A gun lets us get the bad guys before they get close enough for hand to hand. When the bad guys are carrying guns, you need to use the gun to reach the bad guys so that they can't reach you before you reach them. Don't bring a knife to a gun fight. But in order to use a gun effectively, you need two things: training and commitment. I wasn't kidding about muscle memory. You want to be practiced and trained enough that when you point the gun at someone, you don't have to think; you let the body take over—"
"But wouldn't that be dangerous? I mean, you don't want to go shooting on autopilot, do you?"
Kono sat the gun down and turned to meet Jenna's eyes again. "I'm sorry. I'm not explaining myself very well. Let me try again. If you're going to carry a gun, you need to be sure you're committed to killing the person you point it at before you even pick the gun up. You absolutely have to think—make split second assessments of the particular situation—before you pull the trigger. But since you have to use the limited time you have to make that decision, once you decide, you want your body to take over and fire automatically. If you think you're going to hesitate too long in that moment, then you shouldn't pick up a gun. Because a bad guy will not hesitate to come over and take it right out of your hands and shoot you—or other people—with it. That's why training is important before you go into the field."
Kono watched as Kaye seemed to process that. "Makes sense." There was just a split second of pause before something in Kaye's brain clicked over and moved on. "I didn't like that last pistol so much. It didn't feel—I don't know. It didn't feel like an extension of me. What do you have next?"
"This," Kono said, turning and picking the gun up again, "is the M1911 pistol. For a lot of the 20th century, it was a service weapon for the military, so you'll see a lot of these on the island especially among vets who used them and decided they liked them. It's a .45 caliber, so it's going to have more kick than the last one you fired."
She watched as Jenna's face wrinkled up a bit. "Don't knock it before you try it. Steve and Danny and Chin and I have years of firearms training under our belts. You get a look at the ribbons on Steve's dress uniforms before? He's got several expert firearms ratings from the Navy. I suspect when it came time for him to do Scout Sniper School as part of his SEAL training, he chose the Marine one. He's made too many cracks about bars near that base for it to have been any other one. SEAL teams use more ammo among themselves in training than whole other branches of the military. All their training at that level is live fire—no blanks. Elite level Special Forces guys, when they fire, they know exactly where every bullet is going to go. They don’t start out that way; they get there through practice. Lots and lots of practice. The live fire part is important. Firing on a range and firing in the field when other people are firing back are very different things. It's going to take time for you to get practice, but reality around here suggests you may need to be ready before then. Even though this gun is bigger and has a bigger kick, it's not a so huge I think it'll be uncomfortable in your hands. But it weighs a lot more than the Ruger you just fired. More than twice as much. You'll need practice to be comfortable holding it in a firing stance for long. Given that you shouldn't be in the field, that shouldn't be a problem, right?"
"Office Kalakaua, are you suggesting that I might not listen when I'm told to stay put?"
Kono smiled. "I can't imagine what might make me think that that was a possibility?"
Jenna turned her head and smiled. "You know, a girl liberates herself just once from the police cruiser she was handcuffed to, and people get so very suspicious." The glee in Jenna's eyes did not match the innocence in her voice. It was uncanny how sincere she sounded when it was so clear how insincere she was.
"I can't imagine why. I can't even say that I blame you. Still, McGarrett asked me to tell him when I thought you were ready, and I'm not signing off until I trust you can take perps out reliably."
Jenna gave a small shrug. "Okay, then. Let's try it."
"Yeah?" Kono asked, still holding the gun, its barrel pointed to the ground.
Kono handed the gun over to Jenna whose faced wrinkled up a little when she felt the gun's weight before she handed it back to Kono and reached for her hearing protection, which dangled from her left hand as she spoke. "Why in the movies and on television do they make these things look like they're so light?"
"Why do they always make it so a little pressure from a detective always speeds up the results of lab work in every police procedural?"
Jenna nodded slightly as if conceding the point. Then she put the headphones over her ears and held out her hand to receive the gun. Kono handed it over. It took a lot less time for Jenna to fall back into the firing stance, draw a deep breath, and actually relax her shoulders. Kono might possibly have been irrationally pleased that her instincts seemed to have been right. Whether it was the heavier gun, the shorter muzzle than on the Ruger, or the conversation, Kaye looked more comfortable with this pistol.
Kono put her own ear protection back on and nodded in the direction of the target.
Two mags later, she was really convinced she was right, and Jenna's face had that light flush that suggested she was getting hooked. Even better, the paper targets suggested that Kaye wasn't bad at this. Twenty shots, and only 4 were outside the torso. Eight of them were center body mass. Big improvement.
And even in that state of heightened adrenaline, Kaye never once pointed a loaded gun at Kono. In her book, that was an excellent day.
When Kaye looked good and done, Kono tapped the other woman's shoulder. Frankly, Kono was pleased to see that Jenna automatically brought the weapon down before she turned around. Kono watched as Kaye used her left hand to pull the headphones off. Kono indulged herself a bit and let her hand slide from Jenna's wrist down to the gun.
She watched as Jenna's breathing sped up a notch.
"How'd you feel about this?"
Jenna's eyes dipped briefly just once before she met Kono's. There were only a few inches height difference between them, but Kono felt grateful for it—felt like she needed the extra height to remind her that she was the one running this show. "I liked it. It was comfortable. Exciting. There—there's power there. In your hands."
Kono blinked as she tried to put her game face back on. She had a moment there when she thought Kaye might be flirting with her.
No, it—it couldn't be. Not Kaye, right? Not here.
Before she had a chance to talk herself out of doing something crazy like flirting back, Kono saw Kaye turn away and head for the door to the lockers to gather her stuff.
Kono was left by herself to secure the firearms. And secure herself.