She could smile now. Awhile back, she couldn't. She entered her office with a bounce to her step. They gave her back her gun and her badge. For a while there, it looked as though she could kiss them goodbye, forever. The Delano-Fryer fiasco was behind her. She had been to hell and back. She had walked several miles in Chin Ho's shoes, knowing just what he had been through when he was on the outs with the department, having been considered an outlaw.
Being a part of Five-0 was being extended to her again and she was going to grab it with both hands. She was born to do this job.
It was early. Momentarily, Kono was under the impression that she was the first one here at headquarters. She couldn't wait to sink her teeth into a case. It felt as if she had been gone for ages. She missed the give and take, the rough and tumble of this job. Here goes, she thought, spying Danny walking into the break room. One look told her he was flagging. He went to the coffee machine like he was on automatic pilot.
Kono studied him, seeing how sunken his eyes were, how drawn he looked. "Long time I'm glad to see you," she said, all chipper.
If he had wanted to smile, he would have. "What is it with you disgustingly cheerful morning peeps? What are you on?"
Kono gave him an indulgent look. "Want some?"
Danny looked as if he wanted to punch her. "Maybe... What's on the table?"
"What do you want to be on it?"
The repartee bordered on being a tad constrained. Kono took it in stride. She was glad he was still here instead of on the mainland because he had followed Rachel to be with her and Grace. Danny was a special man and she wanted to make no bones about letting him know that.
He picked up on her gooey vibes, feeling how right it was that she be back where she belonged-with them. His eyes graced her and the symbol of her being reinstated. It was then that he smiled, infusing warmth into his facial expression. His eyes crinkled at their edges. "That looks real good on you." He wondered if she wanted a high five to go with his revived enthusiasm.
Kono filled his arms when he extended them out and open for her. "It feels good too. I enjoyed spending most of my days surfing, but I love being part of this team. I'll have to be carried out lifeless for me to leave again."
Danny strengthened his holding of her, unconcerned about how tightly he gripped her. "Don't even joke about that happening."
Not saying a word, she enjoyed being in his embrace.
. . . . . . . . . . .
Steve liked beaches. He surfed at them, went for long runs on them, had even been known to lounge on them too. Satisfied with the details of the case they'd closed, he decided that his team needed to fraternize. He called them all into his office and announced, "Guys, my place at fourteen hundred hours. Volleyball and beer. Corn on the cob, mac salad and slaw. Oh, and steaks. Who's in?"
"Sounds good, brah." Chin hand gestured a 'hang loose.'
Kono was all for the idea, giving a double thumbs up.
Danny got hit with six pairs of expectant eyes. He wasn't exactly frowning, neither did he look overjoyed. "Volleyball...at the beach?"
"Volleyball being the operative word," Kono emphasized.
Danny gave her a cagey look and sounded a little grumpy. "All I heard was 'beach.'"
"Grace loves the beach, doesn't she?" Kono asked.
"I don't have her this weekend."
"Afraid of having a little fun without her, Danny?" Steve regarded him while steepling his fingers and tapping them against each other lightly.
"No. I have plenty of fun without Monkey."
"Then it must be those high v-ball nets." Chin snuffed his chuckling behind his hand.
Kono shot her teasing cousin a blistering dirty look. There were some things that shouldn't be joked about when it came to the Jersey doll. She saw the momentary hurt look on Danny's face and continued to bristle. "Low blow, Cuz."
"Exactly," Chin goofed.
Kono continued to scald him with her eyes. She balled her hands into fists at her sides.
"Forget you, Super SEAL. You too, Mister Hidey-Ho." Rolling his eyes, but then softening them at Kono, he chilled. "I can play. I'll give you a treat when you watch me smoke your butts with perfect set-ups and..." He raised his voice to make his point. "Spikes!"
"That's the spirit!" Steve was already seeing himself being on Danno's team. McGarrett would be the official spiker, though.
Danny chipped in, "I'll bring Sangria." He looked pointedly at Kono, remembering how much she relished the savory wine punch.
"I'll bring Malia and myself," Chin informed the group of the gist of his intentions.
Steve and Chin were making further plans, not noticing Kono and Danny were giving each other some very appreciative looks. If they had been alone with each other in another setting...
"I'm short, but I really can play a mean game of volleyball."
Nodding, Kono was all too ready to buy that. "I'm on your team then."
"No doubt, babe. You're first choice."
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
"Ko, wow! You look absolutely amazing in that suit." Malia stood alongside Kono as the beauty eyed herself in the full-length mirror in the guest bedroom of McGarrett's house. "On the drool scale of one to ten, you're an eleven. Who's this for? The tall, dark and handsome leader of your fearless band?"
Kono blushed, while hoping to impress an entirely different man. She could have worn a bikini, but this wasn't a surfing setting. The man in question leaned toward the conservative. That suited her just fine. He liked cleavage, very much, but he didn't need it shoved in his face all the time. Kono had donned a pastel blue tankini top. She left the cut-off jeans at home, opting for a pair of beige capris. They were shorter than typical capris pants and a tad tighter too. She slid Malia a preposterous look. "No!"
"Are you sure?"
"Yes. I'm sure." She tried not to frown when she saw Malia doing it. "What's wrong? Is the top too tight?"
Her cousin's wife laughed, taking full stock of her perturbed relative. "That's a gorgeous blue. Like the other two you brought with you and tried on like a 'zilla. He likes blue, does he?"
"Who?" Kono retorted, sounding found out.
"Well, if it's not your boss, then it must be his sidekick."
"Danny's no sidekick," Kono hotly protested.
"He's very cute...and outspoken." Malia gave her a knowing eye, making Kono cringe. "He's caught your eye and...you have caught his. It's no secret. I've noticed the way he looks at you, sista."
Thinking about Danny like that made Kono swoon and her knees go completely weak. Her imagining that she wasn't his type was something she found herself glossing over more and more. She had made him look at her a number of times, but that wasn't such a big deal. When the right stuff got presented to guys, they looked. It was called wiring. She sighed, thinking longingly about when he had been introduced to her, after she had decked that drop-in nuisance, and the blond hadn't been able to tear his eyes away from her bikini-clad body.
Then there was the undercover assignment that had called for some quick thinking in the form of their groping each other like teens in heat while being scrutinized by cold-blooded killers. Kono went weaker in the knees with her heart hammering. That had happened over a year ago. The memory still left her breathless.
"He's my colleague," she insisted with big innocent eyes, which had a distinct glow in them.
"Who has the hots for ya, girl. You know what pyromaniacs say. Where there's smoke, there's fire." Malia's eyes were doing some splendid twinkling. "Go for it, wahine!"
Sounding shaky, but erring on the side of positive, Kono remarked, "If he does, I will."
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
"You're hopeless, man!" Steve howled at Chin.
"You should have set it up better, brah!"
"Danny! Get your ass up off the sand and stay sharp!" Steve was in all-out commando mode. What he wouldn't have given to be blowing a whistle. These were some sorry recruits. All, that is, except Kono. She was a drill sergeant's dream.
The volleyball net was ratty, sagging in too many places. The ball was more concave than convex. Despite the bite of Steve's bark, everybody was having a ball of a good time. It was just Five-0 yelling and screaming their brains out, and the mini riot going on had nothing to do with stopping crime. On Steve's lanai, the atmosphere could have given laid back lessons.
The food was plentiful, cooked perfectly, and the alcohol consumption hadn't gotten out of hand. If Danny had drunk too much, it could be attributed to his working up his nerve to speak to Kono. Tell her what had been pent up inside of him all this time for too long. As it was, his buzz was slight. His nerve was up.
It was just she and he on the lanai now. Chin and Steve had gone inside along with two of Steve's Navy buddies, who had also been invited. That group had said something about catching some type of game on T.V.
Kono and Danny sat on the red-cushioned Cassanova lounger. He sensed that he was not sitting close enough to her, so he slid over. No longer so sweaty, he had put his ribbed black t-shirt back on. He smelled of Axe and strong drink. The co-mingling of those odors was intoxicating. One of his thighs, which was encased in khaki shorts, was up against Kono's bare skin. He pitted his knee against her leg.
She was getting high just breathing him in.
Danny cleared his throat a little. "Having a good time?" He made an expansive gesture with an arm. He glanced up at the sky then as though a bank of clouds passing overhead had called his name. When the sky was shaded in such enchanting shades of pinkish mauve and azure blue, he couldn't stop staring at it. He was reminded of his younger days at the Jersey shore, days of pretty, suntanned girls crushing on him and he walking around like he owned anything he laid eyes on.
Kono craned her neck up in imitation, wondering what he saw.
It was late in the afternoon and the day's heat was starting to wane. Kono wanted to take a walk on the beach with him, but she didn't suggest it, hoping that he would. "A great time. You?"
From inside the house, Malia was watching them with a Cheshire cat smile on her face as she dried a glass. She turned her head and saw that the bottle of Sangria on the kitchen island that the blond haole had brought was half gone.
"The best." Danny was smiling at Kono obliquely. Not making it sound like an afterthought, he confessed, "Since you're here..."
Kono reminded herself that she needed to breathe as the air around them seemed to have grown very still. She liked it when they paired off on investigations. It gave her a chance to pick his brain, revealed how much she had to learn. When Danny commended her for instinctual things she knew, it never went to her head, but it did make her feel like she was on top of the world. A case from two weeks ago came to her mind. The lives of two dozen tourists, visiting the marina, had been saved all because Kono had thought to match up prints that at first were disparate. The would-be mass murderer had a record a mile long. He didn't get to add to his body count.
Danny hadn't been able to stop praising her.
Kono closed her eyes, letting her mind drift. Taking that walk on the beach with him was an idea that was getting better all the time. She kept resisting, but the words were on her lips.
The man of her fixation was watching her like a hawk. "Hey, are you okay?"
"Better than okay. I'm..." She opened her eyes to see Danny's face was inches from hers. His eyes concentrated solely on her. Surprised, but pleased, she inched her face closer to his. "Yeah. I'm good."
Danny scratched his head, looking a little lost and somewhat sleepy. Beer, maybe eating more than he normally did, and downing a good deal of that Sangria were contributors to his lethargy.
Picking up on it, Kono joked, "Need a nap?"
He blinked, but his lazy smile didn't waver. He wasn't even glowering. He feasted his eyes on this luscious, sexy woman. "Nope. What I need is..."
His lips, almost in slow-motion, found their way to Kono's. It was strictly a hands off first encounter and if Kono was swooning moments ago, she was skidding into 'coma-ville' now. For an innocent, sort of 'let's try this on for size buss,' Danny was rocking out the linchpins from her above board world.
Malia dropped her towel, gaping at them. The sound of someone approaching mildly startled her. She turned around, finding her husband standing beside the kitchen island, sporting a sloppy grin. He picked up the bottle of Sangria. "This is all that's left?" He sloshed around the remaining contents. "Ipo?"
"There's still plenty of beer," Malia huffed. Thinking quickly, she deflected Chin, actually guiding him to the fridge.
"What are Kono and Mister New Jersey up to?" he harmlessly asked.
Malia's eyebrows flew up higher on her head. "They're..." In her mind she whispered, Getting better acquainted, Hawaiian style. After he snagged four more bottles of beer, his wife steered him clear so his prying eyes wouldn't see.
"How does that saying go again?" Danny slithered in-between their mouths that had finally parted. "Carpe diem?"
Instead of seizing the day, Kono gently seized his face between her two hands and helped herself to tempting seconds. Naturally, arms began wrapping themselves around bodies, and some exploratory, yet chaste groping was on.
"Babe," Danny exclaimed, feeling Kono responding to his caresses. He mumbled against the side of her nose and mouth, "I don't know how wise this is, but I'm going with..."
"You're stunning," Kono wheezed as his hand tangled with her hand, then her hair.
"Isn't that what I'm supposed to say?"
"Fine. Now it's your turn. Say it..."
"You are stunning," Danny obediently rejoined.
With her face feeling as though it were on fire, Kono giggled, wanting to pinch herself. Was this really happening? Was Danny kissing her like she was destined to be his one and only?
"Thank you," she replied, hoping she wasn't flushed, resulting from all the amorous attention. She was though, deeply, unable to keep her cool under the pressure of Danny's serious advances.
"For what?" He glanced up at the sky again with a smile, spying the lesser luminary. "Flying me to the moon by slingshot?" Chuckling, he invited, "I'm in no hurry to come back. I've been wanting to do this, like forever..."
"Flattery will get you everywhere, brah."
"No, no. I'm not flattering you. I'm serious. You're..." He searched for the right word to do her justice. "Yu-yummy."
"You're not half-bad yourself."
Danny nuzzled the shell of her ear. "Really. Not half-bad."
Kono couldn't suppress the shiver that raced through her as it pricked. His breath tickled. "I need this. It's been awhile."
"Like it hasn't for me?"
"What about? Gabby?"
Danny sighed. "A nice lady. Very nice, but not for me. Grace was warming up to her. We went out a few times, but it became all too clear that I just wasn't good enough. Not in her league. I got the memo. When I was with her, I felt like I was back in grade school. Getting lectures on fascinating subjects I had no clue what she was talking about."
"The hell you aren't good enough," Kono assailed while her hand stroked the side of his face which was showing all kinds of resignation. "Her loss, Champ. And if I know what's good for me, I'll keep my mouth shut. "
Danny playfully jostled her. "Aren't you gonna ask me about Lori too?"
"It's none of my business."
"I say I want it to be."
Kono waited for a sign with a nod. Then, she shrugged. "And Lori?"
Danny patted her knee. "Great cop."
"Technically, she was an operative. Special agent, profiler extraordinaire."
"Whatever..." He shrugged a moment later. "If we're being technical, she was kinkier than I ever fantasized she could be. The woman was scary."
"Nah, nah. I'm serious. Seriously, she was all kinds of wild, bizarre surprises. A hellcat with an angelic face. Now, I'm no prude, but I draw the line at-"
"Spare me the gory details. Please. You know I can talk the talk, but I do not, and don't plan on walking the walk." She began shaking her head vehemently. "Beats me how any of that is..." Her eyes took on a precious look then.
Danny got hypnotized, feeling the need to kiss those luminous eyes.
"Appealing," Kono opined.
"Different strokes, for different folks, surfer girl." Dying to tease the life out of this, he angled, "See, yeah. Okay. It's true. I made the first move, but the ways she wanted to top me off were-"
"Dannyyyy!" Kono clapped her hands over her ears. Loudly again, she advised, "Don't finish that statement if you plan on taking me for a short walk on the beach before it gets too dark."
"What happened to that bold girl, typing all that randy trash when we were trying to lure the perp in? Where'd you go?"
"Nowhere. She's right here, being who she really is. Me. I just know stuff that's useful when it's needed. It doesn't mean that I subscribe."
The wise guy made a strangled sound, all for backing away from the seamy subject material since it made Kono uncomfortable. He trailed a torturing finger down the side of her neck. "Are you serious? Did you just ask me to take you on the beach?"
Kono shot up from the lounger. Not to be outdone, Danny did too.
"On the beach. For a walk." She attempted to take his hand.
He offered no struggle as his eyebrows jigged up and down. "Where I'm taking you...and..." He raised his hand to make an oath. "No perverted stuff. I swear. Just straight se-"
"Yo!" Kono upended. "Whoa there! Hold on!"
"Don't think I won't," he jibed.
She was about to change her mind about everything-the walk on the beach, the sweetly passionate kisses they had shared, and certainly anymore talk about their getting it on, period. Whatever happened to having a first date, at least?
"Babe, I'm just kidding. Not about the walk on the beach, but having sex on it. I was just yankin' your chain. Hey, you should know me by now. Big teaser me."
Kono's brusque laugh came out like a snippy bark and she didn't hold back from tempering him with an exacerbated eye roll. "Let's go, Romeo," she ordered, grabbing his hand and tugging him along with her.
"What are we gonna do as we walk on the place I love to avoid?" Danny let slide off his tongue. "Talk some more?"
"And kiss. We're doing a whole lot more of that."
Danny slapped the palm of his hand over his heart. "More being flown to the moon. I'm all over that, Kalakaua, as long as we're a package deal."
"Try leaving me behind, Champ."
Malia had succeeded in getting away from Chin as well as the other absorbed men, who were rooting for the favorite team, in Steve's living room. She was back in McGarrett's kitchen, stationed at the window she'd been observing Kono and Danny from. They weren't kissing, nor were they still seated. They stood now, holding hands. A secret smile, its warmth reaching deeply into Malia's eyes, was on her face.
The corners of Danny's eyes crinkled in sheer delight. Kono and he cleared the berry-bearing bushes separating Steve's house from the beach, heading for the moist sand and purling surf. Hitting the oceanfront, Danny had to admit that where the waters met the shore had its charms. The foremost charm being having this beautiful Hawaiian babe here with him, having her all to himself.
There was no truer meaning of paradise than being with Kono, as he saw it.
Danny firmly, but gently, pulled her close to himself, grinning wide. "Which way do you wanna go, surfer-girl? This way, or that way?" He had used his hands for demonstrating what choices they had.
Looking completely agreeable with those options, she softly began to susurrate close to his ear, "You decide..."
He hugged her waist tightly and thought...I believe I will.
They set off to the left for balmy parts unknown.