As the commanding Alpha of SLAP 6 (Special Lupine Attack Pack), the most elite combat unit in the U.S. armed forces, Lieutenant Commander Steven J. McGarrett was used to being treated with a certain amount of deference, even awe by civilians and subordinates alike. As an Alpha, it made his wolf preen, more than happy with the status all the ass kissing implied. The human part of him didn’t mind it much either, unless it got in the way of the relentless efficiency with which Steve accomplished his missions.
What he wasn’t expecting was to suddenly have his chops busted on a daily basis by the short, mouthy Jersey cop currently assigned as his temporary partner, who had absolutely no respect for his authority.
It all started when he was called into Alpha Commander White’s office and tersely informed that due to the high public profile that SLAP 6 had recently acquired after brutally taking out the most Wanted terrorist cell on the International Crime List (and half of a city block) that it was imperative that Steve and the team attempt to blend into normal society and show the general public their more ‘human’ side. Also, could Sergeant Alvarez kindly stop flashing fang and hissing at small children in public?
So, he and his pack were to temporarily split up and be assigned to various high profile law enforcement and public service agencies during the day, but allowed to den up together as usual at night. Since Steve was Hawaiian born and SLAP 6 was now temporarily based at Pearl, it made sense that they den up at McGarrett’s spacious house.
When Steve opened his mouth to protest, White gave him a sharp look and informed him that his mother Doris McGarrett, a (semi) retired CIA operative (who knew where all the bodies were buried, probably because she had offed the majority of them herself), suggested the arrangement. Steve’s jaw snapped shut at that and he bit back a growl, keeping his face blank with an effort. After all, everyone on Oahu, both human and were knew that Doris was top bitch (no pun intended) of the Honolulu based CIA office and no one wanted her teeth in their ass. Even the head Yakuza kept a low profile around Doris “Ball Buster” McGarrett.
Steve accepted the folder White slid across the desk along with a sympathetic look with poor grace and slunk out of the office mentally snarling. Even after years in the military Doris still made him feel like a young, untried pup. There was a reason McGarrett senior was MIA (and fully intended to stay that way), Mary spent most of time on the mainland, and Steve had spent most of his adult life far away from home on various missions. He strode down the hall, and his team fell in, trotting at his heels, as he left base to find some decent food and a place to confer about Mission: Make Nice with the Civvies. He was fully aware that this ‘mission’ as it was, was a thinly disguised reward for months of stressful missions with little chance for R&R for his team. Dealing with non-hostile civilians on a daily basis was meant to accustom them all to the slower paced life on the islands and give them a chance to stand down a bit.
The pack congregated at a shrimp truck owned by a whale shifter Steve’s father knew and had once made the mistake of lending money to, and commandeered and shoved together a couple of picnic tables, then proceeded to make Kamekona a very happy man by ordering most of his garlic shrimp inventory and spending the next hour bickering among themselves as they devoured it. Military Weres, did indeed, eat like wolves.
Steve skimmed over the information packet as he ate, pleased at the thrum of lazy contentment that radiated through his pack sense. They might be a mixed military pack, but they all worked well together (even with the rare gato shifters Alvarez and Hicks) and as Alpha, he was happy to feed them something healthier than the ten year old MREs they had often been forced to subsist on in the past (although Steve would never admit even under torture, that he actually liked MREs). A six-month posting in sunny, tropical Hawaii would be good for them all. The last few missions had been grueling and here they could kick back with some quality R&R. He idly wondered if he could order them all to learn to surf. Most of the wolves and both cats loathed water. Steve was the exception. His father had once mused aloud (with a sly glance at Doris) that he often thought Steve was part Seal instead of Wolf.
Across the table combat medic Gina Rodriguez was gently teasing Corporal Hicks, who was blinking sleepily in the bright sunlight as he ate his meal. The entire pack knew he would doze off the first chance he had, because it was a long standing fact that Hicks could nap anytime and anywhere. Steve had once seen him snoozing under a humvee during a mortar attack on an op in Iraq, yet he swore up and down he wasn’t narcoleptic and had the medical clearance to prove it. Since Hicks was one of the best long-range scouts Steve had ever worked with, he could overlook the frequent catnaps since they never interfered with the job.
Steve read down the list of assignments and frowned a bit, as he decided who would go where. Rollins and Rodriguez would be assigned to mingle with security and meet and greet at student orientation and Navy recruitment at the University of Hawaii (he could count on them to not hit on the co-eds and to keep horny frat boys in line), Washington and Hicks could take on the elementary school tours to talk to both the human and shifter kids about (much edited) careers in a military pack—kids adored Leon Washington, man mountain that he was, Ruiz and Hall could fill the vacant slots on the Governor’s security team on her goodwill tour of the islands for re-election, Harper, Fazel and Alvarez would walk a beat and patrol with HPD, while Steve would report to Lieutenant Chin Ho Kelly at the Iolani Palace as part of the Governor’s newly appointed, elite special crimes team, 5-0. He smirked to himself; it was nice to be in command, that way he got the plum job.
For the next six months, they would dutifully fulfill their mission to blend in and make nice with the civilians-- even if it killed them.
Steve was pleased to find that the Chin Ho Kelly now heading the Governor’s task force was indeed, the man whose football records he had broken in high school. His inner wolf chuffed proudly at the memory. Chin greeted him warmly and introduced him to Max Bergman and Charlie Fong from forensics and Kono Kalakaua, who was the rookie of the team and Steve nodded politely. So far, the team came across as competent, though a bit more casual than Steve was used to. There would be a small period of adjustment as he became accustomed to working with a strictly human team.
The trouble started when Kelly introduced him to the man he would be partnered with, a short, blond haole transplant from the mainland who barreled into the office complaining loudly and bitterly about the evidence back-up at the HPD lab, the evil that was his ex-wife, his lack of coffee and for some inexplicable reason, pineapple on pizza.
Steve’s wolf perked up with interest at the sight of him and Steve immediately stepped forward into the smaller man’s personal space to shake his hand, fully intending to assert his dominance over the smaller human as quickly as possible, only to find himself staring down into a pair of wickedly keen blue eyes and inhaling a whiff of fresh citrusy male musk—a delicious, heady scent that had him involuntarily leaning forward towards the man’s throat for a closer sniff.
What he got was a hard finger jabbed in his chest and a scowl from his would be partner.
“Down Rover! What’s with the sniff job anyway, Wolf Boy?”
Steve reeled back, face hot, and immediately tried to bluff his way out of the social faux paux, it was rude to scent mark people he had just met. He crossed his arms, lifted his chin and peered haughtily down his nose at the blond and blurted out,
“Your cologne smells like ass.”
Williams scowled, eyes narrowed dangerously, face flushed and glared up at him, then suddenly gave him a sharp-toothed, white grin that would rival a hungry Lupine Marine,
“Well, you would be an expert on what ass smells like, wouldn’t you, buddy.”
He pivoted and strutted off towards his office and Steve’s jaw dropped at the cheeky response, even as his eyes dropped involuntarily to one of the finest asses he had ever seen, only to guiltily jerk his gaze back up when Chin cleared his throat to regain his attention. He flushed and met the older man’s amused gaze and allowed himself to be towed back to Kelly’s office for a briefing on team policy.
And if he maybe glanced over his shoulder to see where William’s office was and drew an especially deep breath to inhale and memorize the man’s scent, he told himself it was because situational awareness at all times was important. Perhaps if he had known what fresh hell he was descending into partnering with Williams, he would have reconsidered his options.
Their first day working together did not go well.
“You got me shot asshole!”
Steve spent the rest of the day nursing a sore jaw, werewolf healing or not, Williams had a mean right hook and his newly healed jawbone ached for hours afterward while his wolf sulked in the corner of his consciousness.
Neither did the second.
“You do not wolf out and threaten to tear a perp’s throat out with your teeth while dangling him off a roof by the ankle Steven! He pissed himself and now you expect me to transport him in my car? There are proper police procedures to follow!”
Or the third.
“Driving school! You need a refresher course! I will pay for it! My car is not an off road vehicle or a humvee! See if I let you drive again, Wolf Boy! No, shut up and just hang your head out the window. I am not speaking to you right now.”
Or even the fourth.
“Why did you have a grenade in your pocket, Steven? Do you expect Taliban insurgents to pop up out of the shaved ice stand? No, don’t answer that and stop flashing your scary red eyes at me, it makes you look like a string of Christmas tree light bulbs that are about to blow.”
When Steve complained loudly and at length about his new partner at dinner each evening with his team, instead of getting any commiseration or support, he got the distinct impression through the pack sense that his team was laughing at him. That disgruntled impression grew stronger after he absent-mindedly turned down Catherine’s coy invitation for a moonlit stroll along the beach in favor of describing William’s odd tendency to wear totally inappropriate clothing for the climate. (His new partner’s propensity to cover his tanned throat and then collar it with a tie was driving Steve slowly insane.)
After all, would it kill the man to ditch the ties and unbutton those too tight tailored shirts or exchange them for something more comfortable? What if he stroked out in the heat or the slippery soles of his dress shoes caused him to fall and injure himself while they were chasing a perp?
Steve never saw Rodriguez hide her smile at that last indignant observation as she carried her coffee cup into the kitchen for a refill and Harper disguised his snort of amusement as a hasty sneeze. Catherine chuffed out an irritated breath and stalked off to bed. She was acutely aware that it had been weeks since Steve had invited her to share his. She was determined to regain his attention and lifted her lip in a silent snarl at Em’s knowing smirk. The female members of the pack were well aware of Catherine’s true reason for getting assigned as Communications officer to the team.
Meanwhile Steve was also suffering some not so subtle locker room harassment from HPD at the palace, where he kept his spare set of clothes and some workout gear stowed in the communal police locker room. It was the usual human harassment every Were endured and started with the same juvenile crap—flea shampoo in the shower, jerky treats in his mail box, puppy piddle pads in his locker, etc. So, when he found the studded choke collar dangling from a leash in his locker, he wasn’t really surprised, just chuffed in annoyance and ignored the sniggering detectives and patrol cops banging noisily around their lockers nearby, not so subtly watching to see his reaction to their latest pathetic ‘joke’. What he didn’t expect was his partner’s reaction.
Danny strolled around the corner from the showers, wet, blond hair smoothed seal sleek, a towel tucked neatly around his trim waist, humming under his breath. They had stopped at HPD to clean up after a foot chase after a greyhound fast, canine Were suspect had ended with them all in a murky canal, to shower and change.
He took one look at Steve’s blank, averted face, the sniggering assholes near the exit and snatched up the collar from the bench where Steve had tossed it aside and whirled and pounced on the group like a short, blonde tiger. His scent flared, all angry musk laced with adrenaline and ozone, and Steve licked his lips involuntarily and inhaled it deeply as he felt the hair on the nape of his neck rise. His eyes automatically slid down the sleek, muscled back to where the thin towel had slid precariously low to display the pale, delicious curve of a firm ass cheek. Steve forced his canines back and clamped down hard on the sudden urge to bite it.
“What the fuck is this? You think its funny to harass a fellow law enforcement officer? A decorated SLAP Commander, nonetheless? A man who goes after the most dangerous killers in the world? When was the last time you took down a major terrorist cell Makuna? What about you Chong? When was the last time one of you lazy assholes got a medal for being wounded in combat, or a Presidential commendation? Do you know how fucking unprofessional this is? Well, you will after I get done talking to Captain Grover! I will not tolerate any bullshit, juvenile harassment of my partner!”
The men looked surprised, then embarrassed, flushing and dropping their eyes under Williams’ steely glare.
The largest started to scowl and step forward but stopped when Danny was instantly up in his face with a snarl that impressed Steve and his wolf immensely and caused a shiver of pleasure down his spine and his wolf to whine wistfully. Maybe Danny had Were in his bloodlines a few generations back.
Danny thrust the collar under the big cop’s nose (very nearly up his nose, Steve noted with glee) and was nearly standing on his tiptoes practically vibrating with rage, white teeth bared in a snarl that had Steve’s wolf bouncing with pride packourspackmatedefendsusours and growled out a challenge to the much taller man that made Steve very glad that he was already dressed and bent over tying his boots, because his treacherous dick was already at half mast and his skin was tingling with the urge to shift and back up his partner.
“Oh, bring it on Frank! How many more violations do you want on your permanent record?”
Frank blustered for a few minutes before he wilted and backed down and was tugged away by his partner. To Steve’s surprise, several of the officers stayed long enough to apologize for the lame prank. He could sense that they were truly ashamed and graciously accepted, while secretly basking in his partner’s protective, fierce glower at the miscreants from where he watched narrow eyed, while he briskly donned his clothes, which included a crisp white dress shirt and a (to Steve’s immense displeasure) tightly knotted silk tie.
Steve spoke up as they left the building. “I can take care of myself you know.” He said mildly to his still scowling partner.
Danny snorted and flapped a hand dismissively. “Yeah, yeah. Big bad wolf, I know. Well, partners have each other’s backs. You’ll get used to it, Wolf Man.”
Steve ducked his head to hide his pleased smirk and cheerfully followed his strutting partner to the car. Danny didn’t know it, but Steve would follow him to hell and back if necessary. Not for the first time, he thought Danny would make a magnificent wolf. It was too bad that it was so dangerous for adult humans to take the bite. Eighty-nine percent of those who did died horribly within hours from high fever and severe sepsis.
After that, things changed between them. They still squabbled constantly, but the tone of the bickering became friendlier, almost flirtatious. It was as though Danny, a haole outsider at HPD himself, had suddenly decided to let his guard down around his werewolf partner and just roll with it.
Apparently the only person allowed to insult Steve now with impunity was Danny. He touched him a lot too, constantly up in his space, hands tugging his shirt, clasping his arm or wrist or tapping his chest to make a point. Steve basked in the attention and found himself leaning into every warm touch, hungry for Danny’s attention. He wanted very badly to scent mark Danny and had to settle for the casual placement of a hand on his partner’s back, or briefly draping a long arm over his shoulders (it was bliss to breathe in his scent, nose close to the sleek blond hair), as well as surreptitiously touching the things in his office, sitting on his furniture and practically wallowing in Danny’s car to insure he left a strong pack scent there. (If his wolf maybe irrigated the tires regularly as well, it was no one’s business but his own.) Danny’s small studio apartment just happened to be along one of Steve’s longer jogging routes. It was easy to check on him during a moonlit run (and maybe mark his territory around the building.)
Steve, who had never had anyone stand up for him the way Danny had to his own co-workers, found himself competing for Danny’s attention, his wolf urging him to earn Danny’s trust and approval by proving he could not only run down perps, but adapt to any situation and follow proper police procedure as well and protect and provide for his partner. Packmateloyalours! He spent hours after work studying forensics texts and the HPD police procedure manual telling himself that he was genuinely interested in the job, not just wanting to impress his partner. He was genuinely interested in the job. He had not realized that police work could be as exciting as it was—there was constant work and new things to learn peppered with the thrill of the chase. The many rules to follow were annoying because humans were so fragile, (after all he had only dangled that perp’s head in the shark infested pool at Sea World just long enough to get the information they needed to arrest that arms dealer) but he could work with them.
He read and memorized every fact in Danny’s personnel file. He also stalked Danny on social media and spent a half hour snarling silently at the smiling photos of his ex-wife that had apparently been uploaded on Facebook from her last vacation in London with Gracie. Danny’s daughter was adorable though and although she resembled her mother physically, it was obvious
she got her personality and intelligence from her father. Steve looked forward to meeting her, which surprised him, as he had never had much interest in cubs before.
A couple of weeks later he invited the Five-0 team over to the house for a barbeque and to meet his pack. If he spent several days before hand fussing and scrubbing (and snapping out orders to force his team to help) the already tidy house to insure that his den was clean, and stocking in enough food and delicacies to feed a platoon of lupine marines his pack tactfully refrained from saying anything. They were all dying of curiosity to meet the human who so fascinated their often taciturn and aloof Commander. Steve never noticed how Catherine’s mood shifted from sunny to sullen whenever he mentioned Danny or that Fazel had surreptitiously started a new betting pool.
Danny stood on the lanai of Steve’s beach house, beer in hand, one eye on Grace, who was splashing in the surf with a oversized beach ball, Kono, Ruiz and the big were Washington, and the other on Steve, who was manning the grill, scowling ferociously down at the fat, innocent steaks and skewers of veggies and chicken and shrimp as though he was planning D Day maneuvers.
He felt more than a little out of place among the tall, lithe Were.
All of the men and women on Steve’s team were superbly fit and to Danny’s mind all very good-looking. They had reminded him of puppies when he and Grace first arrived, immediately surging forward and surrounding him and greeting him with broad, friendly smiles and boisterous handshakes and backslaps. Danny had been charmed at the gentleness they showed with Grace, the big men stooping to greet her at her own level and carefully shaking her little hand. The little girl had been delighted at the attention, beaming with pleasure and full of questions about their jobs and what it was like to be able to shift.
Hicks, Fazel and Washington had immediately shifted and brought her a Frisbee to start a game in the back yard. She hadn’t slowed down since and had nearly made Danny dizzy trying to watch her all afternoon. Danny had been forced to gently discourage her from riding Washington like a pony, mindful of insulting the big man. His wolf form was massive.
He turned an appreciative gaze towards the three women of the pack. Gina Rodriguez was gorgeous, with dusky skin and gazelle eyes, full figured with healthy curves, while Emily Hall was her opposite, tall, lanky and raw boned with pale skin and fine, chin length strawberry blonde hair and a cute spackle of golden freckles across her long nose. (Danny was acutely aware that the Were females could probably snap his fragile human bones like kindling.) They had both been as forward and friendly as their male pack members, which was why Danny was mystified at Catherine Rollins downright cold attitude.
She had greeted him with a stiff nod and a curled lip, then immediately turned away to speak to Steve, claiming his attention with one hand on his arm. Danny had thought at first it was his first encounter with the somewhat elitist attitude that many born Were had towards humans, but Rollins had then greeted both Kono and Chin quite warmly. He shrugged mentally. Maybe she just didn’t like mainlanders or felt Danny did not respect her Alpha enough.
Still, the pack fascinated him. He took a pull from his beer bottle and watched with interest as Alvarez, who was sharing the huge hammock strung up on the lanai with a napping Hicks, stealthily tied the laces of the sleeping man’s sneakers together, before leaning back and closing his own eyes after a conspiratorial wink towards Danny and a tiny, satisfied smile.
They seemed to place little value on personal space, although they deferred to Steve as their Alpha, and respectfully kept their casual touching among human guests at a minimum. Gina and Emily lounged gracefully together on a blanket on the beach while Gina smoothed sunscreen onto Em’s pale shoulders and back.
Fazel ran up and flopped down beside them and was instantly assimilated into the group, Gina reaching out to run soothing fingers through Fazel’s tan fur and Emily lazily scratching his ears. Danny had seen the floor wide nest of huge pillows, futons, rugs and beanbag chairs in the lounge in front of the TV. It was clear that the pack was accustomed to bedding down together, yet there was nothing sexual about it. It seemed more comfortable than anything. It must be a pack thing.
He glanced over to where Grace and Kono were headed inside to shower and change before dinner and smiled fondly at Grace’s excited chatter as she described an upcoming school project to Kono, small hands fluttering in descriptive arcs. At least that little apple had not fallen far from the tree.
Wistfully, he wondered again how he and Rachel had gone so wrong so quickly. Now his wife was happily married to another man, a baby on the way and he was on the sidelines, his hours with his beloved daughter carefully regulated and the time he spent apart from her focused on his job. He tried not to think of himself as lonely, but he was, a loud, brash haole stranded on a island of easy going people who spoke a different language and lived an entirely different lifestyle, who moved at an entirely different pace and as often as not looked at him with a mixture of pity and contempt.
A light touch on his elbow jolted him out of his gloomy thoughts and he looked up into his partner’s concerned ocean blue eyes.
“You okay, Danno?” Steve asked gravely, searching his face for any further signs of distress.
Steve had glanced up from his grill and saw the bleak look cross the blond’s face and caught a whiff of the bitter salt tang of grief. He had shoved his spatula into Chin’s hands and left him and Washington to finish and plate up the food, crossing the yard in a few quick strides to comfort his partner, snagging two fresh beers from the cooler as he went. Now he hovered close enough to touch, not quite sure what to do next. His wolf whined, wanted to comfort, to bump shoulders and nuzzle and scent the strong throat so carelessly revealed by the stretched neck of the worn tee shirt he wore and nip gently at the stubborn, gold stubbled jaw until Danny smiled again.
Steve wanted to tug the smaller man close, and shepherd him away into the cool dimness of the den and hold him tight for comfort and inhale his scent until he smelled like sunshine again. Instead he stood awkwardly and silently offered him a fresh beer, gazing down into clear, sky blue eyes that blinked in surprise up at him. To his delight Danny held his gaze, a slow, sweet smile appearing on his face that crinkled his eyes delightfully and the look deepened as they stared into each other’s eyes, both unaware that they stood so close that there was no personal space between them and that members of both the 5-0 team and the pack were suddenly still and watching avidly.
The intimate moment was shattered when Catherine abruptly called them to come eat and Steve tilted his head and frowned--baffled at her too sharp flash of teeth that the humans mistook for a smile. Then Danny coughed and rubbed the back of neck and stepped away from him, reaching out a hand to take the proffered beverage.
“Yeah, thanks, I could use a fresh one.”
The rest of the evening passed in a blur of color and raucous laughter (started when a cursing, hissing Hicks fell face first out of the hammock when he tried to leap out and his hobbled feet refused to cooperate) and tall tales from both the humans and were. All too soon, Danny was bundling a sleepy Grace up and taking his leave to take her home and Steve watched them go wistfully, big hands flexing, after trailing them to the car, feeling oddly bereft.
After Kono and Chin left much later, he stared Catherine down coolly when she nudged him and tried to kiss his cheek and nuzzle cozily under his arm, stepped away and peeled off his clothes and left them on the sand as he ran and dove into the dark waves, where he knew she would not follow. He hauled himself out miles from his house, shifted and ran long into the night, pausing only to tilt his face to the Moon Mother and loose a plaintive howl. He ignored his pack’s comforting response, preferring solitude for his run.
The months seemed to pass too swiftly after that, and Steve found it harder to believe that his mission was only temporary, that all too soon the pack would be assigned elsewhere. Probably to some war torn, desert shithole on the far side of the world. Hawaii increasingly felt like home territory and Danny and the team like ohana. It would be difficult to leave now.
So he embraced each day feverishly, pounced on criminals with brutal efficiency and bickered happily with his partner. He was delighted that Danny and Grace now spent most of their weekends together at his place. Gracie loved the pack and they adored her. It had been a happy day the whole pack had taken Grace to the zoo, the little girl at the heart of a milling, loving, protective cadre of military wolves. Danny had complained loudly that they were spoiling her and they all just laughed at him. Grace had gone home that day glowing with the sun, an enormous stuffed wolf clutched firmly in her arms. (She had immediately named it Leon, after Sgt. Washington.) The huge, gentle Washington and the shy Hicks were her obvious favorites on the team, after Steve.
A month before SLAP 6 was due to ship out things changed between Danny and Steve. The team had been working on tracking down the source of an arms smuggling operation at the docks. Steve and Danny had been following the thinnest of leads, but Danny had a hunch and he was like a wolf with a bone. One moment they had been turning the corner near a warehouse, arguing over where to get lunch and the next they were under heavy fire from automatic weapons. Somehow they had managed to blindly walk right up on a shipment of Ak-47s being loaded onto a Chinese freighter.
They took cover behind metal shipping containers while Danny called for backup and Steve snarled and wished to hell he had a bit more firepower than two Sig Sauer P226s and a grenade (that Danny did not know about.) Still, they were both better shots than the men attacking them and pissed off as well. Steve took down a burly smuggler with a shot to the shoulder and knelt to swiftly cuff him and confiscate his rifle. He didn’t see the tall, sleek Asian man in the Armani suit that stepped out of the shadows of the warehouse behind them and took aim at his vulnerable back, but Danny did. Danny also saw the gleam of the pure silver clip the man shoved into his Beretta and he knew silver was deadly poison to full blood Weres. (So maybe he has been researching Weres lately. He was a detective and partnered with a crazy military Were so it was important to know these things, right?)
With a warning shout, he barreled into Steve’s side, shouldering him safely behind a shipping container as the smuggler opened fire. Danny was already returning it, not bothering to aim, going on instinct and letting loose with the full clip in his automatic in the man’s direction, even as his momentum caused him to trip over Steve’s long legs and land on the concrete with a grunt at the impact. His blond head bounced off the corner of a crate and he bit his lip hard at the white starburst of pain in his temple, cursing as he sought to maintain consciousness. He felt blood trickle down his cheek and heard a deep, bass roar of pure rage from beside him as Steve realized what was happening and shifted into full wolf.
After that things got a bit blurry.
Danny remembered the stuttering of the Ak47’s, then the sudden lack of gunfire and a series of terrified shouts, thuds and screams and the low, guttural snarls of a fighting wolf, then sudden silence followed by Steve’s deep bass howl of triumph.
Before he passed completely out, he pressed a shaky hand to the seeping bullet wound he had just discovered in his bicep and struggled to sit up to access the situation. He managed to prop himself up against the prone, wide-eyed smuggler Steve had cuffed, before a large black wolf nearly knocked him over again in its haste to return to his side. Danny got a worried whine and a cold nose and wet, pink canine tongue to the face for his pains. He thumped weakly at Steve’s furry shoulder and wheezed out “Dog breath, Steven,” and “Put those things away.” as Steve displayed large, glistening incisors and snarled a feral warning in the face of the terrified, cringing smuggler, who probably wished he had stayed home and watched the game today.
The next thing he knew, Danny had an eyeful of sleek, tanned, tattooed skin and a glimpse of Steve’s impressive junk and then he was being cradled close in his partner’s strong arms as Steve shouted over his aching head for a medic. Danny could hear sirens and the crackle of police radios and running footsteps so presumably back up had finally arrived. The world tilted dizzily as Steve stood, but before Danny could give him hell for carrying him like an infant, he passed out.
He woke to the all too familiar scent of antiseptic and the muted beep of hospital monitors and the rumble of low voices. When he finally cracked open sleepy blue eyes, he found his hospital room crammed full of a pack of worried Weres all peering hopefully down at him, with their Alpha no where to be seen.
Steve it turned out, had been dragged reluctantly off to explain the carnage at the docks to the Governor, and why exactly so many of the captured, battered gunrunners had shit their pants in terror. At least he had not killed any of them while in Were shape. That would have required a boatload of forms, which he would have wheedled Danny into doing after making sad puppy eyes at him. He had been persuaded to report in, only after he called in his pack to stay with Danny.
Danny was actually the one who would have a shit load of paper work to file because he had apparently filled the kingpin of the gunrunners, one Wo Fat, full of holes. The man was not expected to survive so many perforations. One thing Danny had in his favor was that Wo Fat was on Interpol’s most wanted list and had been allegedly untraceable and almost impossible to capture. Now with a round the clock Were guard at the hospital, Wo, if he survived, would find it impossible to escape.
After being checked over by the rather intimidated doctor (and who wouldn’t be, with a pack of large military Were standing and peering suspiciously over his shoulder, snarling softly in warning under their breath), Danny was informed that he had a through and through wound in his left bicep, twelve stitches in his head and a moderate concussion. He would be released the next day if all went well and apparently he had more than enough caretakers at home to watch over him and see that he did not strain himself while he recovered. He was on two weeks mandatory leave as of now, as was Steve.
It took the tiny, unstoppable force that was Dr. Malia Waincroft-Kelly to finally chase Steve’s pack out of the room so Danny could actually go back to sleep and get some rest. Still, when he awoke briefly in the middle of the night, it was to find a lean black wolf curled up by his bed, silent and vigilant in the moonlight slanting through the window.
Upon release the next morning Danny was high jacked by Steve upon the grounds that his latest apartment was a health hazard and hauled off to his house to recover despite Danny’s very vocal protests. He found himself undressed and ensconced in bed with a pain pill pressed into his hand almost before he could blink. His strident “You are not my mother, Steven!” simply got a goofy grin in return and he was so busy slapping Steve’s hands away when he tried to tuck the covers up under his chin to notice the rest of the pack hovering at the door with broad grins of their own.
Still, his head was pounding, the sheets of the comfortable bed were cool and soft and smelled of McGarrett’s musky cologne, so he begrudgingly took his medicine, lay back on Steve’s pillows to sulk for a while and inadvertently dozed off while the alpha went downstairs to supervise lunch preparation and boss his pack around.
Steve in the meantime was silently rejoicing at having Danny in his den and tucked safely in his bed (he had neglected to inform Danny that the guest and other bedrooms were already occupied by pack). He sat himself down at the kitchen table so he could keep an eagle eye on Hicks and Alverez as they prepared fish tacos for lunch (Alvarez would poison them all with excess jalapenos and hot sauce if not watched closely) and carefully examined and read all the dire warnings enclosed with Danno’s prescriptions.
Humans were horribly fragile. It was a wonder they survived to adulthood. He was appalled at the list of complications that could occur. Once Rodriguez calmly and repeatedly assured him that yes, these were only standard painkillers, and he was finally satisfied that they would cause no ill side effects for his partner did he turn his attention to his laptop and the stack of paperwork he had brought home to work on.
With his partner sleeping safely nearby, his pack moving in and out of the house on various business, the pack sense hummed with satisfaction and all was right in his world and Steve was content. He didn’t want to think about the fact that his team were already wrapping up their assignments and prepping themselves for the next mission and when Catherine attempted to speculate about it he rather curtly cut her off and changed the subject. For the first time in his career, Steve was not looking forward to a new assignment and moving on.
For the first time in years, Hawaii felt like home.
“Smooth Dog? That’s his code name?”
Danny hooted with laughter at Steve’s scowl at the dissing of his hard won nickname.
“Are you sure its not Bad Dog?”
“Nope, that’s Leon.” Emily chirped, as she pretended to polish Washington’s shiny, shaved head with a napkin, easily dodging his growl, snap of teeth and playful swipe with a laugh, on her way back to the kitchen with a load of plates. It was the Gatos turn for lunch and cleanup and they required supervision before the simple chore of dishwashing became a water fight.
The pack, Danny included, had had a raucous lunch on the lanai and now the air was filled with tall tales, loud curses and very bad jokes as most of the pack sat down to a noisy game of poker, while the others wandered off on other business. At least it looked like poker, but it was played at warp speed and the pile of bets in the center of the table included items such as a wicked sharp Bowie knife, a couple of clips of specialty ammo, a grenade (Steve’s of course) and a thumb drive of what Danny assumed was premium porn.
He watched curiously from his nest in an oversized wicker chair, having given up on the book he was trying to read. He felt better after his nap, but both his arm and head were beginning to throb again. Surreptitiously he shifted in his seat, and tried to find a more comfortable position to ease the ache in his arm. Giving up, he levered himself to his feet and took his meds (under Steve’s attentive eagle eyes) then wandered into the den to prop himself on the huge, overstuffed leather sofa and see if there was a game on Steve’s ancient television.
When he dozed off again during half time, it was Steve who slipped silently in and straightened his limbs, removed his shoes, tucked a cushion under his head and gently covered him with the afghan from the back of the couch, taking his time, his gentle touches lingering, reluctant to return to the lanai.
When the time came for SLAP 6 to leave Hawaii for the next deployment it was difficult for both humans and Were. There was a fledgling bond stretched taut between both teams, that of friendship and camaraderie and the hour of separation was painful. Grace had cried unashamedly and nearly had most of the tough, burly male members of the team in sympathetic tears as well, as they all passed her from arm to arm and embraced and nuzzled the little girl and swore solemnly to Skype and email and send her many postcards.
Steve kept his game face on, but it felt like he was being ripped in half as he took leave of the human team he had been a part of for the last six months. His wolf huddled at the back of his mind, unsettled and confused to be leaving matehomepackpup. Danny’s warm, strong, farewell embrace was nearly his undoing and he clung unashamedly to the shorter man, face buried in his strong throat inhaling and memorizing his scent as long as he could without causing a scene. It was almost impossible to release him, blink back tears and square his shoulders and walk away.
Steve prowled the decks of the aircraft carrier. The mission had been a success, his team working perfectly in sync, but he had been restless and uneasy the entire time, his inner wolf mute and restless, endlessly pacing in his mind. The young French physician they had rescued from insurgents had clung to him like glue, infatuated by her handsome rescuer, so it was with great relief that he handed her safely off into Rodriguez’s capable hands. Yes, he had managed to focus on the task at hand and perform his job as exemplarily as always but inside his wolf was restless, itching beneath his skin, eager to get back home back to Danny, back to his…mate.
Steve groaned and grabbed the nearest rail and stared blindly up at the stars, head in the breeze searching for that familiar scent, fighting for control as he felt his shoulders hunch, ears lengthen and prick and his canines slide out to worry his lower lip as he finally acknowledged the truth to himself. He had been nesting in Hawaii, preparing his den for Danny, his mate and Gracie his pup. He wanted to howl his woe at the moon.
He was career Navy! How the hell had he ended up in a budding Mate Bond without even noticing? Especially a bond with a human. A pert, obnoxious, loud mouth of a human who had no respect for the Navy or Steve’s authority and nonetheless had the bluest eyes Steve had ever seen, courage, an iron clad sense of honor and loyalty as well as the finest ass in Hawaii.
Steve groaned and gripped the rail harder, claws flexing as he bent his head and fought to regain his iron control, his head ached fiercely, teeth trying to extend, throbbing with the thwarted bond. Goddammit. He needed to be home, he needed to seek out his mate and seize him and hold him and …
“Steve, are you alright?” Catherine’s sweet, musky scent and a slim hand on his arm brought his head up with a snarl as he flinched, snapped his teeth and shuddered as he shrugged it off, ignoring her small gasp. He was not hers to touch; the light scent of her arousal in his presence no longer flattered and teased, but offended him. He raised his head, eyes glittering a feral scarlet and flashed teeth at her again, a low, guttural snarl warning her out of his personal space. She immediately stepped back, head tilted to bare her throat in submission, wide eyes quickly lowered, her heartbeat thudding with fear.
This from Commander White who had approached on silent feet as well and the familiar steely note of command in the trusted, older Alpha’s voice brought Steve back to himself, although his wolf still raged and paced beneath his skin. He straightened to his full height, shoulders back in parade rest and faced his commanding officer, eyes forward.
White’s eyes softened as he took in McGarrett’s pale, sweaty, pained expression and flickering eyes as he fought for control. He inhaled deeply and automatically cataloged the younger Were’s scent for signs of pain or trauma, well aware of Steve’s capacity to hide trauma and injuries. What he caught scent of surprised him, and he suspected, McGarrett, as well. The sour, raw reek of an overstretched, uncompleted bond filled his sensitive nostrils.
“So, son, you’ve bonded. What the hell are you doing on this mission so far from your den and new mate?” He chided gently, ignoring Rollin’s soft gasp of surprise. He flicked a glance at her.
“You are dismissed Lieutenant.”
She saluted stiffly and strode away, head high and shoulders stiff. The she wolf was bitterly disappointed, he knew. She had deliberately made herself indispensible to the team in a concentrated effort to catch Steve’s eye and entice him to mate. For a while it had appeared the sly tactic was working, being the mate of a elite squad commander had many advantages of rank over being a mere lieutenant in Intelligence.
White knew Steve was attracted to her and had grown fond of her, but the brilliant, young lupa had failed in her plan to lure McGarrett as a mate, and raise her status in the pack and advance in rank. Now he was as far removed from her as the moon itself and there was absolutely nothing she could do to change that fact. A true mate bond allowed no interlopers. She might issue challenge, based on the most tenuous of claims, but it would be unwise of her to do so.
“Sir. I don’t know how… he doesn’t know...he’s human.” Steve’s eyes were dark with pain and a touch of fear, drops of cold sweat beading his hairline, big hands clenching and unclenching at his side, sharp claws snicking out to prick his palms, and drops of blood pattered to the deck.
White narrowed his eyes at the younger man, thinking back to his memory of the 5-0 team bidding Steve a reluctant farewell at Pearl three weeks ago, as they huddled around him, like a small family pack with Steve at their heart. He remembered the short, broad shouldered blond who had released Steve’s hand so reluctantly, only to haul the surprised Were into a fierce, tight farewell hug before he could step away, then jammed his fists in his pockets and turned a furious, icy blue glare on White when Steve reluctantly strode away to rejoin his assembled SLAP team. Joe White smiled reassuringly at the younger Were and clasped his shoulder hard to ground and comfort him with touch.
“I don’t think you’ll have anything to worry about in that department, son. Now, lets get you home so we can get this bond set properly.”
He led a pale, stumbling Steve off to his berth and ordered his pack to keep him comfortable while his new orders were processed and transport back to the mainland arranged. He had the ship’s medic administer a mild sedative to the younger man, to soothe his wolf, then made several phone calls to give McGarrett’s new human pack a heads up because the young Were was coming in hot and needy and Williams needed to be prepared both physically and mentally for the mating. He also had to arrange Steve’s immediate leave and transfer to the Navy Reserves and Five-0, so he would have time to settle in with his mate.
White recalled the sizzling, jealous glare the blond had shot him before he departed with the team. He didn’t think Steve had to worry about bond denial in the future, but he would have a medical team on standby with bond severance drugs and sedatives just in case. He also made a call to the Governor because she had just gained a new, permanent military asset for her task force because a newly bonded McGarrett would now find it impossible to leave his den and mate behind to fly halfway across the world on various missions. As much as White hated losing a good Commander, he was happy that Steve had finally found a reason to settle down and enjoy life. The old wolf knew that there was more to life then service and combat and it was past time that Steve had a chance to experience it.
Danny paced the tarmac, glanced at his watch for the thousandth time. He scowled up at the night sky again. Where the hell was that damned cargo plane? It was late. Ten minutes was late, right? What the hell had happened to that much vaulted military efficiency? What if Steve became ill? Was there even a medic on board to take care of him? He had read extensively on the damage an unconsummated mating bond could do to a Were’s psyche and the thought of denying Steve never entered his mind. They felt right together to Danny and that was good enough for the detective. The last few weeks had been hellish without Steve around. Danny had felt as though he was missing a vital limb, left with a phantom ache that would not dissipate.
He threw up his hands and snarled at the sky, not realizing that the Were medics who hovered discretely nearby with a private military van were watching him closely, a sedative in hand in case it became necessary.
He had no idea how his own behavior was paralleling that of an agitated Were separated from his pack and mate. He continued to pace, check his watch and growl under his breath, lifting his head to scent the wind and glare into the dark sky. When the big military plane finally landed and taxied to a stop he forced himself to stand still and wait, fists clenched, for Steve to disembark.
When the familiar lanky figure, sheparded by a burly, attentive medic finally stumbled down the back ramp of the plane, Danny was moving before he knew it, an arrow straight beeline for his partner. They came together hard, Danny gathering Steve close, alarmed by his pallor and the heat of his skin. Steve was shaking in his arms, eyes wide and feverish, as he stared mutely down at the shorter man, almost in disbelief.
“Danno…” he murmured, “Sorry, Danno, Sorry!”
“Hey, hey, you got nothing to be sorry for, you big lug, we’re in this thing together! Partners, yeah?”
Steve shivered gave a choked whine, almost a sob and buried his face in Danny’s throat, inhaling deeply, breathing in the familiar scent that had become as necessary as air to him, finally able to touch like he needed, big hands clutching the back of Danny’s shirt as he tried to burrow closer.
“Mates…Danno.” He slurred, trying hard to articulate and convey the gravity of that fact to the smaller man and give him a final chance to exit. Weres mated for life. He was swaying on his feet, hardly daring to believe that Danny was here, in his arms, holding him tight. The mate bond was beginning to hum between them now, and in the comfort of his partner’s strong arms Steve felt the wretched pain of his endless headache slowly begin to seep away.
Danny caught him as he nearly dropped, holding the unsteady, taller form closer. Steve had clearly been doped to the gills and was at the end of his tether.
“Yeah, yeah, I know. I got you babe, I got you. Lets get out of here, yeah?”
He soothed, sliding under McGarrett’s arm and draping a long arm over his own broad shoulders as he wrapped a strong arm around the lean waist and guided his partner’s, his soon to be mate’s, uncertain feet toward the Navy transport waiting to whisk them away to a private sanctuary where they could complete the bond in peace and security.
When Steve woke later he thought it was a fever dream at first and was surprised not to find himself tucked in his cramped berth aboard the U.S.S. Kentuckiana. Instead he woke in a wide, messy, sunny bed, redolent with their mixed scents, a tropical breeze sweet with the scent of plumeria wafting through the open French doors of the private bungalow.
The daisy chain of bruises and bite marks on his broad shoulders that criss-crossed his torso and meandered along his lean hips soon disbursed him of that notion. Wonderingly he touched his fingers to his bruised mouth, and then gingerly touched the fingertip bruises on his lean hips. After a moment, he reached back and reverently touched the deep, throbbing mating bite on the nape of his neck. Danno had very sharp teeth and no compunction about using them in the bedroom. His ass ached pleasantly when he struggled groggily to a sitting position. His wolf was smug and practically insensible with sexual satiation.
Memories of the previous night flashed through his head, in tight, sensory snapshots. Danny guiding him into the bedroom, opening his mouth for Steve’s hungry kisses, small, strong hands peeling him out of his clothes and combat boots. A heated body, heavy with muscle and delightfully hairy moving under, on and above and in him, filling him with all he ever wanted or needed, a growling voice in his ear assuring him he was both wanted and loved, that he was home and that he was never going to be alone again.
The Were’s fears of hurting his mate with his superior strength quickly vanished under Danny’s determined sensual assault. He was delightfully rough as well as tender in bed and as hungry for Steve’s touch as Steve was for his. They had tussled for dominance in the wide bed, rolled and growled and laughed and shouted with pleasure, each taking turns in submitting to the other’s need. Steve had a crystal clear memory of sinking his sharp incisors in the curve of Danny’s broad shoulder, his cock buried deep in his mate’s hot body, hips snapping helplessly against Danny’s ass, both shuddering through intense orgasms as the Were finally, blissfully, claimed his mate.
He gave a soft purring growl at the memory and flopped back on the bed and wallowed happily in the soft cotton sheets of the wrecked bed that reeked so pleasantly of them and reveled in the fact that his slow to heal love bites and bruises were the unmistakable signs of a true mating. Danno was his for life. Speaking of which, where was he?
A soft snort of amusement answered that question as Danny shouldered his way into the bedroom, a carefully balanced tray in his hands. The blond chuckled in open amusement when his partner sat up, sniffing eagerly at the scent of hot coffee, grilled steak, scrambled eggs and warm, buttered toast.
“You look like a big puppy, right now babe, you know that right? One of those German Shepard pups with the big paws…”
He set the tray on a bedside table and yelped as long arms wrapped around his trim waist and yanked him back down on the bed, while sharp teeth nibbled hungrily at the curve of his throat. The Were clearly had a thing for Danny’s neck, the necklace of love bites obvious evidence of that.
“Food first Steven! Then nookie! You wore me out last night, I need fuel!”
Danny yelled as he wriggled, trying to squirm free of Steve’s octopus arms and scratchy morning whiskers scrapping against his sensitive skin. Admittedly, he wasn’t trying too hard to escape his lover’s arms. It had been years since he had been so happy. He wasn’t so pleased at the surprise high pitched giggle fit that Steve’s scratchy whiskers tickled out of him which so delighted his mate that he spent the next hour or so exploring and taking advantage of every ticklish spot on Danny’s body he could find.
Needless to say, they ended up eating a cold breakfast
Later, Steve lay curled around his dozing mate, lapping gently at the mate mark on Danny’s neck. It would heal nicely and leave a lovely scar, a visible reminder of Steve’s claim. He nuzzled happily into the golden fur on Danny’s broad chest. (His Danno was wonderfully hairy. Steve was convinced there was Were blood in his ancestry somewhere.)
Now if he could just persuade his mate to stop wearing those damned ties.
Six Months Later
Catherine stalked her prey along the narrow strip of beach. Dimly, deep inside she knew she was being irrational, but her brooding, jealous wolf goaded her into action nudged by the full moon over head. She was close enough now that she could hear the music and laughter from the party on Steve’s lanai.
She snarled, sharp teeth lengthening and snagging her soft lips, the taste of her own blood feeding the growing rage inside her. How dare he! How dare her chosen mate desire a puny, male human over her? The wedding invitation had been the last straw to her fraying control. Control she had struggled with months—since Steve was whisked away from her deep in bonding fever. A passing human teen took one look at her glowing eyes and feral face and darted fully dressed into the ocean to avoid her, his survival instinct taking over.
She shook her head angrily, spittle flying as she began to shift in earnest, glittering eyes now locked on the blond head of the man now only twenty or so yards away. Her silky, dark blue dress shredded off her furry shoulders and she kicked her heels off. Instead of her sleek wolf form, her shape was now monstrous, warped, caught between woman and wolf—the final sign of a feral Were. She threw back her head and bayed a hoarse challenge even as she charged her prey, ignoring the warning screams and shouts of the people gathered on the lanai and yard.
The only thing between her and the man she was going to rip apart and devour was a little girl in a spangled pink dress, a flower crown on her head. The child screamed in terror and dimly Catherine heard Steve roar with rage from the lanai, the sheer note of command in her former Alpha’s voice was enough to cause her to falter for a few seconds, enough time for her blond nemesis to push the child aside and meet her head on. Dimly, she realized there was no fear on the man’s face, only a deep primal rage that more than matched her own.
Steve was already moving from the lanai, his heart in his throat at the sight of his mate and child being attacked by his former team member, teeth and claws lengthening as he shifted, aware even as he did that he was going to be too late. He was too far away and Catherine was moving too fast, her golden eyes locked on Danny, distorted jaws wide as she leapt forward to rip his vulnerable human throat out. Danny, courageous as ever, had moved to shield his daughter. Even if he survived the attack, no human ever survived the bite of a rabid Were.
When he saw the feral Were charging down the beach towards Grace, Danny felt something deep inside him shift and he was moving before he realized it. Time seemed to slow as he met the enraged female head on, now close enough that he recognized her as Catherine Rollins, and as he exhaled he realized that the deep, bass roar of denial that he heard came tearing from his own throat. From a detached place in the back of his head he was dimly aware of his dress shirt tearing and bones and muscles shifting as he drew back a fist to punch her. Only his arm was covered with a tawny, golden fur now, and his fist sported a set of massive, razor sharp claws.
Catherine had a few seconds to be astonished when her would be prey suddenly transformed from a diminutive blond human to a broad shouldered, leonine shifter, before a powerful blow from a iron hard clawed fist, literally put her lights out and she slumped unconscious to the sand. When she next opened her eyes she was in human form, securely strapped and chained to a steel gurney, a grim faced Gina Rodriguez standing over her, hypo still in hand. Groggily, she turned her head, mind suddenly clear despite her raging headache and throbbing, healing jaw, seeking a glimpse of the Lion Were who had so easily put her down. Why had no one told her Williams had Felis bloodlines?
Gina quirked a brow and drily answered the unspoken question in her former teammate’s eyes.
“Because no one knew, girl. He’s a latent.”
The medic motioned to the Were EMTs who wheeled Catherine away. She would be evaluated at Tripler, and then incarcerated in a secure facility until she came up for court martial. In all probability she would be stripped of rank and serve time for her crime of attacking an unarmed civilian.
In the mean time a little ways down the beach, far enough from the house for some privacy, Steve McGarrett stood beaming proudly down at his new husband, his lovely, golden furred mate. He was practically strumming with excitement. He knew his Danno had had Were heritage!
His mate, who was glaring pissily back at him and lisping through a mouth full of sharp fangs, clawed hands waving agitatedly in the air as he bitched because he was caught between forms (a common problem with new shifters) and couldn’t change back to save his life, and his lunk head, puppy-eyed husband kept trying to pet his suddenly luxurious mane of golden hair. Danny snarled, spat and whipped his long hair out of his eyes, yet again and tried to calm the fuck down so he could shift back to his normal, civilized form.
Grace’s delighted, awed observation of “You look like a kitty, Danno!” before she was gently herded back to the house for a slice of wedding cake by her grandmother, had not helped the situation.
Neither did the long tail that had ripped the ass out his pants and was now whipping behind him. Danny sighed and lifted a hand to scrub at his face and stopped when he realized he was absently grooming his whiskers. Defeated, he dropped his hands and slumped, huffing out a breath against a broad chest and leaning into Steve as the taller man drew him close in a comforting embrace. He would never hear the end of it now, and he had some strong words to have with his mother who had looked suspiciously guilty as she whisked Gracie away.
“Go ahead. Say it Steven. I know you want to.”
He could feel Steve smiling against the top of his head, and he bit back what felt suspiciously like a purr at the sensation of Steve sneakily running long fingers through his mane, err, hair. It was soothing, okay? He tilted his head back to look up into his mate’s beaming face.
Steve kissed him instead and the embrace grew so heated that it was ten minutes before they realized that Danny had shifted back to human shape.
November 10, 2015