Their latest number, a Mr. Mikhail Anatoli, escapes them thanks in no small part to HR, Carter’s new goddamned rookie, a smoke grenade, and a syringe full of elephant tranquilizers. When John and Shaw can see again the number is gone and Harold is on the comms in John’s ear, voice urgent as it only is when he fears he’s sent them into harm’s way in a more drastic way than usual.
“We’re fine, Harold,” John says. “Anatoli got away, though. I don’t see Bear. Bear,” he calls. “ Hier ”
“Told you I should have shot the guy,” Shaw says. She’s got her teeth gritted, but John knows better than to ask her if she needs medical attention: she’ll see to it herself, and she won’t compromise the op unless he forces her hand by pushing.
“We don’t shoot people, Miss Shaw,” Harold says. It’s a familiar refrain by now, and John feels his adrenaline beginning to subside, falling into familiar patterns of sorting out what to do next. The next step is finding Bear, and he has a bad feeling about that one.
“We shoot people all the time,” Shaw argues. “Just because John has a kneecap kink –“
John sees movement out of the corner of his eye and has his handgun drawn and pointing that direction before Carter’s HR-suborned rookie peeks around a cornice, hands up and empty.
“Message for you” he says. He looks even unhappier than the last time John saw him, which is saying something indeed. “He's heading to Hawaii, on a ten-o-five flight, with a dog. She said that’d be all you needed to know.”
Shaw stares at the rookie, expression as blank as she can make it, and John fights down a smirk at how quickly the kid’s expression sours. If he were any greener, he’d be pissing himself.
“Shoo,” Shaw says, when the moment has drawn out as long as she wants it to. The kid all but runs when she flaps her hand in his direction. Admittedly she is still holding a pretty mean-looking knife. John's not sure he wants to know where it came from.
“That wasn’t very nice, Shaw,” John observes, but even he can hear the amusement in his own tone.
“You don’t pay me to be nice,” she retorts.
“I don’t pay you at all,” he replies easily enough. “Harold,” he says. “Did you get that?”
“Yes, Mr. Reese,” Harold says, and there’s the sound of typing. “It appears that our Mr. Anatoli will be on an Alaska Airlines flight departing from LaGuardia at ten-o-five pm tonight.”
John looks at his watch and does some mental math.
“We can cut him off at the airport,” he offers. “Or have Carter or Fusco put out an APB. He's connecting through, what, LAX?”
“I’m afraid that won’t be possible. He has a hostage,” Harold says. John’s phone beeps, and there’s a picture of Bear on it, with their number smiling in the background. Bear is limp and muzzled, wearing a service dog’s vest.
“Sonofabitch,” Shaw swears. “Now I’m really going to shoot him.”
Her attachment to Bear is one of the things that make her bearable: anyone who loves an animal that much hasn’t been completely broken by their line of work. John doesn’t want to think about what she’ll be like if they lose Bear. Genrika may have said Shaw has feelings, turned way down low, but John thinks losing Bear might turn them off entirely.
“Come back to the library as soon as you can,” Harold says. “Pack suitably for Hawaii, first, if you please.”
Shaw stares at John, who just shrugs.
“I'm not the boss,” he says, deadpan. “I hear it’s nice this time of year.”
* * *
The flight is uneventful, as private charter flights go. Shaw sleeps, stretched out across a bank of chairs whose seatbelts are really just a polite suggestion. Harold sits in a plush chair at something that’s almost actually a desk with a laptop open and wifi whose origin John can’t begin to fathom, typing furiously and with single-minded focus. Finally he sits back with a grimace.
Harold's back must be bothering him: flying isn’t good for old injuries, even flying in style like this. John bites back the urge to offer help. Harold wouldn’t appreciate it, and John knows better than to ask for things he can’t possibly have.
They refuel at a private airstrip somewhere in California. John keeps an eye on the airfield attendants from the plane; Shaw stretches her legs and scares the hell out of them, looking dangerous even with the huge earmuffs on.
When they're back in the air, Shaw looks like she's about to go back to sleep.
"Before you go back to sleep, Miss Shaw," Harold says. "We have a meeting when we arrive. The governor of Hawaii instituted a special task force some time ago. They deal with issues like this.”
“And you got us on their calendar?” Reese asks, raising an eyebrow.
“I got Harold Kingfisher on their calendar, yes,” Harold says. “You’ll be going in as John Rogers, I think, and Miss Shaw–”
“– will be Shaw,” Shaw interrupts. “No need to make it complicated.”
“You are legally dead, Miss Shaw,” Harold points out.
“I didn’t say I’d be using my old ID,” she says. “I’m just saying, there’s no need to go putting on new names every time we talk to someone.”
John would have thought she had a point, back before he knew about the Machine, about Root, about Decima and the people who hired Kara Stanton, who want to take over Harold’s work. Now he figures a few extra IDs won’t hurt him.
“What’s the story?” John asks.
“Harold Kingfisher is a white-hat hacker,” Harold admits. “You’ll be my bodyguards. Kingfisher is notoriously paranoid.”
“Don’t strain yourself, Harold,” Shaw quips.
“Yes, well,” Harold says. “Kingfisher was actually responsible for identifying several security flaws in software used by the NSA and other US government agencies, so there are in fact several nation-states and less than reputable hacking groups who have rather a grudge against him.”
John turns this over in his mind.
“Doesn’t explain how you got the meeting,” he says, finally. "With – who are they again?"
“Five-O,” Harold looks like he’s bitten a lemon, which doesn't make sense. He has nothing in particular against cops in general, just dirty cops. John must look confused, because Harold continues. “The governor’s task force: Hawaii Five-O. They have contacts in the local hacking community, including a rather brilliant young man named Adam. I arranged for him to introduce us and vouch for Kingfisher's credentials.”
“What did that take?” Shaw asks. She’s clearly still thinking in terms of blackmail, of leverage, of pressure points and waving guns or knives at people.
“Approximately ten dollars worth of European candy and a promise to show him a minor exploit I developed more than a decade ago,” Harold says. “He’s also quite likely to be stoned out of his mind. Do try not to alarm the poor boy, Miss Shaw.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it, Harold,” she says, which is such an obvious lie that John doesn’t bother to call her on it before she rolls over to go back to sleep.
John reads up on the publicly available information on Hawaii Five-O for the rest of the flight, as well as several encrypted files that Harold sends to his phone. Their head is an ex-Navy-SEAL gone spec ops, which Harold seems to think will give John some measure of trust in the man’s ability to help them retrieve both Bear and their number.
But Steve McGarrett wasn’t ever a spy: he was the artillery. His style is brash and loud, firepower and long guns and hand grenades. John certainly doesn’t object to grenades, or even grenade launchers, but there’s a time and a place. He gets the impression that McGarrett thinks that just about everything could be improved by simply adding more explosives. John’s been flying under the radar too long to think that way anymore, if he ever really did. Even before Kara and Mark and CIA operations on US soil, John was already inclined to take the quiet way out of a mess if there was one.
So John’s already got a bad feeling about things by the time they land: seeing Adam bracketed by Commander Steve McGarrett and Detective Daniel Williams really doesn’t help first impressions. The young man looks nervous enough to cry despite his obvious self-medication with cannabis.
“Uh, hi,” Adam says, waving in their general direction. John is carrying the bags, except for Harold’s laptop. Shaw isn’t even trying to look polite, or like anything other than very dangerous hired muscle. Sometimes John wonders if she does that on purpose: sometimes he doesn't bother to wonder.
“Hello, Adam,” Harold says, and steps forward to shake his hand. McGarrett almost ostentatiously doesn’t move a muscle when Harold approaches. It's a military fuck you, a way of showing how little threat Harold presents. John resists the urge to bare his teeth at the man.
“Toast,” Detective Williams says, looking at their contact. “This the guy?” The way Williams' pants leg clings around one of his knees makes it clear he's wearing a brace: probably one of the ones that's designed to remind you not to use the leg, but doesn't actually do much for support. John notes the point of weakness automatically.
Adam stares quizzically at Harold, who holds up his smart phone with a text file on the screen. Commander McGarrett blinks as he reads over Adam's shoulder and Adam’s face lights up.
“Dude,” he says, reaching for the phone. “You have got to show me how you managed to get it to iterate that way.”
“Toast, focus,” Williams says, clapping a hand on his shoulder and giving him a little shake. “This is the guy?”
Adam – Toast – nods, craning his neck to look at whatever code Harold has showed him.
“I am, yes,” Harold says, and holds out a hand to shake. “Harold Kingfisher. These are my associates, Mr. Rogers and Ms. Shaw.”
Williams looks John up and down. “Little tall to be Mr. Rogers,” he observes. “So. You want to be my neighbor?”
John blinks at him. Shaw cracks a grin, sharp-edged and slightly mean, and Adam quails just a bit at the look on her face, but Williams doesn't budge.
“As delightful as this is,” Harold says, and it obviously didn't occur to him that this might be a problem with John's cover identity: John wonders if Harold was ever exposed to children's television programming. “Might we retire to somewhere a bit more private? I hardly think we’ll do anyone any good standing in an airport.”
There’s a black SUV waiting for them, driven by Kono Kalakaua, who is the closest thing Five-O has to a rookie. She’s smaller than she looked from her files: John immediately assumes that will make her twice as dangerous. Shaw slides into the front seat next to her, and John piles their bags in the trunk. McGarrett climbs in next to Harold, and John resists the urge to strangle him, instead sitting in the back row where he can reach McGarrett to snap his neck if it becomes necessary.
“Great,” Williams says. “I’ll just meet you back at HQ.” He pats his pockets down. “Goddammit, Steve,” he says, and his tone is resigned and pissy at the same time. “You’ve still got my car keys.”
McGarrett fishes a set of keys out of his cargo pockets and tosses them to Williams, who takes off grumbling about control freak partners with too many pockets.
McGarrett looks perfectly comfortable in cargo pants and a t-shirt, and not at all like someone who runs the most successful anti-organized-crime enterprise in the Pacific. And sure, John understands blending in: being a white man in a suit makes him all but invisible in New York City. But cargo pants and a t-shirt don’t leave much room to hide a gun. Then again, McGarrett is official law enforcement: he probably doesn’t need to carry more guns around his person than John can already see strapped to his hip. Knives are another matter: John’s never met a Navy SEAL who wasn’t festooned with them like ornaments on a Christmas tree.
“So, Harold,” McGarrett says, as Adam climbs in. He looks disappointed not to be sitting next to Harold. “Toast tells us you’re a hacker. What brings you to Hawaii?”
Harold turns his upper body to look at McGarrett, visibly unimpressed.
“I assume your team received my files,” he says. “It would be decidedly more efficient to brief everyone at once, wouldn’t you agree?”
Then he turns away, angling his whole upper body to look out the windows. The movement is more exaggerated than it need be, John can tell: Harold is playing up his injuries for some reason.
“Harsh,” Adam says, around a mouthful of Haribo gummi fruits made with European cane sugar, not corn syrup. “Don’t worry, man,” he says, clapping McGarrett on the forearm. “He’s always like that. It’s not just you.”
It is partially just him, John knows, but he’s not going to say it if Harold won’t.
The atmosphere in the car doesn’t particularly warm up while they sit in traffic. John could try to make conversation, but Adam is absorbed in the file Harold handed him, and John is pretty sure McGarrett is silently playing a “who cracks first” game, and will assign himself points if John breaks the ice. John’s had dickbag commanding officers before. He knows how to keep his mouth shut.
Shaw is silent in the front passenger seat, watching Kono out of the corner of her eye with unwavering attention. Harold appears perfectly content to watch the scenery, and John watches their temporary allies for tells until they get to headquarters.
* * *
“Hey, man, nice to meet you,” Chin Ho Kelly says, shaking Harold’s hand with an open, seemingly guileless smile. "Nice suit."
“What?” Williams protests. “You make fun of me for wearing a tie all the time, this guy gets away with a suit?”
Kelly shrugs. “It’s different,” he says.
“Yeah, brah,” Kalakaua agrees. “His look says Rich Guy. Yours just says mainlander, you know?”
Haole , she doesn’t say, outsider-mainlander-white-guy. But John has spent some time in Hawaii before this: he knows what she’s not saying. By his expression, so does Williams. Harold’s expression must look blank to them, but John can tell he’s pleased by this differentiation.
“And what about this guy?” Williams says, jerking a thumb toward John himself.
“Suit, no tie,” Kalakaua says, giving John a thoughtful once-over. “And he doesn’t look like he belongs holding a tray in that getup, yanno?”
Williams’s expression goes murderous, and John guesses they’ve stumbled into the middle of a bit of team history.
“Someone asks you for a drink the one time,” Williams snipes.
McGarrett shoots him a reassuring glance and his hand twitches, like he wants to pat the man on the shoulder, but won’t around people who aren’t his team. John mentally slots that into the profiles he’s building: Steve McGarrett clearly never did wetwork, or much undercover work that involved interpersonal interaction, if he’s still got tells like that. John worked near people with McGarrett’s profile from time to time: the ones who got called in when shit hit the fan, when an op was compromised, or John or his team fucked up their end of things. They were the mallets, the big guns, and Kara and Mark had had nothing but contempt for them.
“For what those suits cost, I should certainly hope you don’t look like waitstaff,” Harold says into John’s earpiece. He’s subvocalizing, and it barely registers as a murmur to their hosts. John smiles. Shaw scoffs.
Chin Ho Kelly ushers them all into a room with a computerized table and shoots them all a serious glance that shuts his team up immediately. Kalakaua straightens up when he looks at her. Interesting, John thinks, settling another piece into his puzzle of power dynamics here in Hawaii Five-O. Harold takes a seat immediately, which means his back is bothering him, or maybe his neck. Or maybe he's still playing things up for their audience. It can be hard to tell sometimes.
“Our target is Mikhail Vladimirovich Anatoli” Kelly says. “He's tied to the Russian mob on the mainland. It’s unclear whether he’s trying to get away from them, or trying to branch out their operations and get in on illegal gambling here in Hawaii the way those guys from Jersey did a few years back.”
John lets the information filter over and around him while he watches the room. Kalakaua is absorbed, clearly taking mental notes. McGarrett looks unsurprised, and like he’s keeping just as clear tabs on John as John is on him. Kelly never turns his back on either John or Harold, and Williams interrupts often, talking as much with his hands as his voice. He’s got objections to just about everything, it seems like, but everyone takes him in stride.
John already knows all of the information Kelly is delivering from Harold’s hacking, but there’s good reason to determine the extent of this team’s intel. All legit government sources, it looks like, databases and court-ordered subpoenas and over-the-table interaction. Some of it is a bit heavy-handed, which Reese supposes the “immunity and means” part must cover.
Still, it means they’re missing big pieces of the puzzle. Anything off the official grid escapes them entirely, because they still have to play by most of the rules. John hasn't had to play by those rules since long before he started working for Harold, and it seems exhausting.
“So,” Kelly says. “We’ve got him flying in this morning and going off the grid. Whatever he’s doing, he’s paying in cash, and he’s not interested in being tracked.”
“If I may?” Harold asks, when it appears the team is at a stand-still. Kelly nods, and Harold opens his laptop and places it on his lap. It syncs with the table immediately, and John discovers that Kelly has a much better poker face than anyone else on his team, because he’s the only one who doesn’t look completely gobsmacked at the very idea of someone getting into their system.
“How did you —“ Kalakaua says, and then she gets distracted in the lines of code scrolling across the table, the windows that are popping open and closed faster than John wants to try to keep up with. He’s not a programmer, and he trusts Harold: that’s good enough. Five-O look scandalized, and impressed, except for Williams, who looks pissy. John wonders if he ever looks anything but some variety of angry. His wife's comments in the divorce papers suggested not.
“There’s a rudimentary security flaw in this manufacturer’s code. It’s never been patched, probably one of the backdoors the NSA is keeping in reserve. Russia uses these devices too,” Harold says absently. It’s obvious to John that he’s really much more absorbed in whatever he’s seeing than in conversation. “Ah, here we go.” A window blooms into view, segments of video strung together one after another. “It would appear that our Mr. Anatoli is now a blond, for one thing. You’ll have to change the APBs.”
McGarrett is watching the video with studied ease. Williams is just staring, and Kelly and Kalakaua look like they want to crawl inside Harold’s skin and put his brain under a microscope.
Shaw stretches. From Williams’s suppressed jump, he’d forgotten she was in the corner. She hasn’t said a word.
“Enough showing off, Harold,” she says. “Where is he, and can I shoot him this time?”
“Sharing information is essential to team interoperability, Miss Shaw,” Harold says, but he sounds a bit snippy. So he was showing off: no doubt some of those windows gave Five-O a look at what he was doing and how he was doing it. “And, no, you may not shoot him this time.”
Shaw gives a shrug, and pulls out a composite handgun, ejects the magazine, and starts disassembling it on the table. The expression on Kalakaua’s face goes instantly rapt, and slightly covetous.
So Five-O has inadequate firepower, John thinks. State government funding, and forms to justify expenditure. He makes a note of this for future reference. He hasn’t had to fill out paperwork in — well, in longer than he cares to think about, really — but he remembers the hassle of it with a distinct lack of fondness.
Harold makes some displeased noises, and shakes his head.
“This would be much easier in New York,” he says, which means there aren’t as many cameras out here as Harold wants. “But I can tell you that he’s operating under an assumed name and appears to have purchased a surfboard with cash near the Pipeline. I can’t tell you where he went from there, the state-issued traffic cameras are simply too far apart.”
He sounds personally offended by this idea. John simply puts Oahu down as a possible place to hide from their enemies, should that become necessary at any point in the future. No doubt one of the smaller islands would be even better, especially away from the cities. Hawaii has enough eccentric recluses that one more wouldn’t provoke notice. It might be a way to keep Harold holed up somewhere safe while John hunts Decima’s agents down, if it comes to that.
“We’re not in New York,” Williams says. He sounds almost personally offended. “And, no offense, but the city’s a crime ridden shit hole, why would you prefer it to here.” His tone is not even trying to pretend like he's trying to avoid giving offense.
“Danno, you like New Jersey ,” McGarrett points out. This sounds like a long-standing debate, from where John is sitting.
“Yeah, Danny,” Kalakaua chimes in. “And they’re from New York City? I may be an island girl, but even I’m pretty sure you’re not going to win on this one.”
Harold looks between them and visibly dismisses the conversation as irrelevant.
“As I was saying,” Harold says, and Williams stiffens, obviously affronted at being ignored. “His trail goes cold at the surf shop.”
“No problem, brother,” Kelly says, and claps Harold on the shoulder so gently that he doesn’t even have to hide a wince. John’s opinion of Kelly goes up another notch. “We’ve got it from here.”
John trails them, because he’s curious, and also because he doesn’t know the lay of the land that well yet: construction has changed things since he was last on Oahu, and he doesn’t like to rely on Control to know where he’s going, even when Harold is Control. The surf shop is apparently a dead end. Finally McGarrett and Kelly go up to a fat man at a street cart, money changes hands, and they walk away with shave ice and — at least in McGarrett’s case — tension humming in their shoulders.
“Harold, they have at least one CI,” John says. “I assume he’s out of camera range, but you might want to look this guy up when you get a chance.”
“Noted,” Harold says. He sounds distracted. “No,” he snaps. “Miss Shaw, I will not have you using anything in Detective Williams’ office for target practice. I don’t care how objectionable that particular tie is, it’s poor manners. Ms. Kalakaua, I’m sure there’s a perfectly adequate shooting range somewhere in the vicinity. If you would be so kind as to show Miss Shaw to it, I would be much obliged.”
“If you insist, Harold,” Shaw drawls, and John knows she’s just gotten exactly what she wants. “I’m bringing her with me, though.”
Harold sighs, which means he’s accepted that he's going to be stuck in a room with the mouthy cop.
“I’m quite sure I’ll manage, Miss Shaw,” he says. “Now if you wouldn’t mind, some of us are not quite as enamored of firearms as you both appear to be.”
“Have it your way,” Shaw says, and cuts her comms. John assumes she’s off to the shooting range with Kono, which is just unfair: she gets to have all the fun.
* * *
McGarrett’s team seems to rely heavily on human sources, rather than the more hands-off approach Harold favors. After they leave the fat man’s cart, John trails them to a run-down stretch of houses, glad Harold made arrangements for John to have access to a motorcycle while they were on the island. McGarrett and Kelly emerge with a skinny man in handcuffs, with bruises blooming across his cheekbones and a broken nose. John is just as glad Harold isn’t here to see this. He always does object to unnecessary violence.
John doesn't have qualms about violence, per se, but he has always preferred the results of Joss Carter’s approach to interrogation to the beat-em-up approach so many ex-military types and cops take. He’s been smacked around a time or two himself, and he can honestly say that having Joss across the table from him was a lot harder than being hit, or even electrocuted or burned.
“They’ve got a suspect in custody,” John says. “Not our guy. A local, Hawaiian, or maybe Polynesian. Skinny, 5’8”, address heading to you now." He drops a GPS pin on his phone, knowing Harold will see it.
“Thank you,” Harold says. There's a sound of typing, and then someone protests in the background.
“I’m quite aware you have immunity and means, Detective,” Harold says. His voice is quite cold, even for him. “I’m simply choosing to employ it in a rather less violent manner than your boss. I do hope you’ll forgive me, but hanging people off the edge of a roof or dropping them in a shark tank has never been my first plan of attack.”
Detective Williams grumbles, but seems to subside. John tails McGarrett and Kelly long enough to determine they’re heading back to headquarters, and then takes a few shortcuts on the bike, letting Harold guide him back faster than they can manage in a car.
Kelly almost looks surprised when he sees John lounging on a couch in Five-O’s office, but he’s still got a damn good poker face. John wonders when Kelly spotted him: when he hung too close in traffic for 90 seconds too long, or when he stood in range of reflective plate-glass windows just after they left HQ? John is more interested in knowing when he was made — during which of the increasingly obvious opportunities he provided — than in pretending he was here the whole time.
“You took your time,” he says, and stretches his arms out over the back of the sofa.
McGarrett ignores him, shoving the skinny man toward John.
“He’s not chatty,” McGarrett warns.
“Well,” John says. “I don’t usually talk to people who slam my face into walls, either.”
McGarrett makes a face.
“You – what ,” Williams demands. He sounds outraged, rather than surprised. “Steve we have had this talk, we do not beat up suspects.” He wheels on Kelly. “Chin, you’re supposed to be reminding him that police procedure is a thing for a reason! What happened to being a good influence on this caveman while I’m in this thing?”
He gestures at the brace on his knee, and the cane he’s not been using particularly often.
Kelly just shrugs. He doesn't look particularly worried about police procedure.
“You know the boss,” he says. “The guy did try to shoot us first.”
“Oh,” Williams snipes. “That makes it all better. Of course he tried to shoot you, Steve probably kicked his door down.” He glares, and McGarrett has the sense to look moderately repentant, though John would bet he doesn’t actually feel bad about it at all. Kicking down the door would be more efficient, if you don't care about noise.
“He would have gone out the back,” McGarrett protests.
“That is what calling for back-up is for, McGarrett,” Williams points out. “You get back up, and then you go in, especially if the suspect is armed!”
John wonders when they’ll remember that the suspect is in the room with them. When he looks over, the man is staring at them with what looks like honest surprise on his face. John steps closer, lowers his voice.
“Quite the show,” he offers. Then he smiles his knife-edge smile, the one that makes everyone, even Shaw, just a little bit nervous.
“I didn’t think the other guys were serious,” the skinny man says. “I mean, everyone says they’re, like, totally married, but —“
John raises an eyebrow. It does seem to have more in common with a domestic than with a workplace fight, now that this guy mentions it.
Harold clears his throat. Williams and McGarrett continue bickering, and John watches their suspect with intentionally flat, level eyes until the man is visibly trying not to shiver. Harold clears his throat again, to no effect. It doesn't look like anything short of a tactical nuke will break the two of them out of their argument, which appears to be well-rehearsed. Kelly is staying out of it.
"If you would be so kind, Mr. Reese," Harold says, in John's ear. "This is getting us nowhere."
John nods, pulls the handgun from the small of his back, and puts it to Kelly's head.
"No hard feelings," he whispers. Kelly freezes, deer-in-headlights, and John wonders at that reaction. Smart to stay still, but there's more fear in Kelly's frame than he'd expected.
McGarrett has a gun trained on him before John has stopped moving, and Williams has him covered a half-heartbeat later, much faster than John would have expected.
"If you would all put those away," Harold says, with obvious distaste. John wonders how Harold expected him to get a SEAL's attention. "I do believe we have better things to do than debate police procedure in front of a potential source of information?"
John locks eyes with McGarrett and the two of them lower their weapons at the same time.
"Danno," McGarrett says, low, warning in his voice. Williams complies.
The suspect chooses that moment to try to flee, which was really quite stupid, with John between him and the door. John has him on his front with a knee in the small of his back and a gun to his temple before he can take two steps.
Williams whistles, long and impressed-sounding.
"Faster than he looks," he says. "Not bad for an old guy."
John ignores him. He's going to age out of his current occupation eventually. It doesn't mean he has to take the bait.
"That wasn't very nice," John says quietly to the suspect. He knows his voice is the kind of pleasant and flat that scares people, doesn't much care. "You might hurt my feelings, running out on us like that. I'm not sure you'd like me if you hurt my feelings."
The suspect goes limp, and John zip-ties his wrists together behind his back. None of the chairs in Williams' office have sturdy enough armrests to be useful, and there's no radiator, since this is a tropical paradise.
"Now," John says, pushing the man – gently, but with no give – to sit down on the sole unoccupied wooden chair. "Why don't you tell me why these nice men felt the need to break down your door and shove your face into a wall, and we can get you away from the crazy people with guns." He smiles.
The kid -- he can't be more than twenty, maybe younger -- is clearly not prepared for this. His tough-guy front evaporates, and he starts babbling, names and places and criminal connections spilling out of him like blood from a nicked femoral artery. Only about half of it is relevant to John's target, but some of it is clearly useful to Five-O if the way Kelly straightens up is any indication.
"Book him, Danno," McGarrett says, when the kid is done babbling.
Williams sighs, but doesn't protest the nickname.
"Cheer up," he says. "You get real handcuffs now, not some hinky plastic tie. It'll be an upgrade."
He escorts the kid out of the room. Harold is about to speak when McGarrett has an arm across John's throat. John lets himself be pinned: McGarrett clearly wants to make some kind of point here.
"Do not threaten my team," McGarrett bites out.
"Do your job, and I won't have to," John says, falsely pleasant. "Harold, what was it you wanted to say earlier? When they were too busy with their domestic dispute?"
He focuses on Harold, ignoring the forearm McGarrett has across his trachea. It's a calculated insult, and a reprieve he wouldn't grant Shaw, but John has a feeling that Shaw could wipe the floor with McGarrett without breaking a sweat, and also that McGarrett draws the line at murder in full sight of his team. John is certain Shaw doesn't draw that line basically anywhere.
"If you don't mind, Commander," Harold says, and his tone is frosty, reminiscent of Mr. Partridge, or Mr. Crane, not the poorly-socialized hacker Harold is supposed to be portraying as Harold Kingfisher. "I would appreciate it if the injunction on bodily harm and threats thereof went both ways."
McGarrett lets John go. He must be smarter than he looks, John thinks, to unravel Harold's request so fast.
"Now," Harold says. "I was trying to tell you that I have a lead on our Mr. Anatoli, which was just corroborated by our suspect's completely inadmissible-in-court confession." He smiles, tight and insincere. "Mr. Anatoli will be meeting a human trafficker to be shipped out to Thailand two days from now. He has made no provisions to bring Mr. Rogers' dog with him."
"His dog," McGarrett's tone is flat.
"He's a Belgian Malinois," John offers.
"Mr. Rogers is particularly attached to him," Harold says. "As is Miss Shaw. Finding Bear does not appear to be on your internally documented priorities list. I've taken the liberty of adding it to your workflow."
Kelly actually laughs. It's the first time he's made a noise since John put a gun to the side of his head, and it sounds honestly amused, rather than bitter or angry. John knew he liked the guy.
"Don't fight it, boss," he says, looking at McGarrett. "This guy can get into any system we're using, easy as anything. He wants the dog, we find the dog. How many Belgian Malinoises are there on the island, anyway?"
"Fourteen documented ones," Harold says, absently. "Fifteen, including Bear. And perhaps some halfbreeds, or similar-looking crosses with German Shepherds or other large dogs, perhaps some crossed with greyhounds for illegal fighting. The kennel club registers the addresses of a half-dozen members, and I've found the other four who are listed in their records. We might start there, I suppose. It seems likely that someone who already owns a dog of this breed might be approached to buy Bear, if Mr. Anatoli doesn't simply plan to shoot him, or abandon him to die."
He sounds pinched to John's ear: Harold has always had a soft spot for cruelty to animals. John wouldn't call Bear innocent, or defenseless, but if he's been dosed with tranquilizers, there's a low probability of him being able to defend himself.
Kelly has walked around to see Harold's screen, which Harold allows. Whatever he sees is clearly impressive, because he whistles.
"Yeah, boss," he says. "Some of these guys are drug lords, kingpins. Guys who keep their hands clean, you know, but they're high up. They'd take on a dog like that in a heartbeat."
McGarrett hasn't seemed very interested in Bear, but the detail about buyers? That gets McGarrett's full attention.
* * *
An hour or so later, Kalakaua and Shaw show up again with food.
"Best loco moco on the island," Kalakaua says brightly, when John gives her a look. Shaw just smiles.
John puts the styrofoam container in front of Harold, who shoots him a quizzical look.
"Local specialty," John says. Who on earth puts a fried egg and hamburger patty on rice and slathers it in gravy, Harold's look says, but he eats it without voicing any objection. Kalakaua looks disappointed, and hands Shaw a twenty.
"Betting again, Miss Shaw?" Harold asks, not looking up from his computer screen.
"You're not a number, Harold," she replies easily. "No rules against that."
"I'm fairly sure there are rules against workplace harassment, and hazing via food would almost certainly fall under them."
"Must have missed that in the contract," Shaw shoots back. "Oh, wait."
John shoots her a look, and she just grins.
"We got you a mix plate," she says and hands John a container full of fried meat and rice with a shit-eating grin.
"Tell me you got malasadas," Williams says from behind Kalakaua. She hands him a bag, and he takes it off her hands with a grin. "Thanks, Kono," he says, and walks off in the direction of McGarrett's office.
"You've got somewhere to stay?" Kalakaua asks. "I'd offer, but–"
"Her apartment makes postage stamps look big," Kelly says. She shrugs, obviously not offended. "I could put you up, or the boss has a spare room."
"Thank you," Harold says. "But I've already made arrangements."
* * *
Their cover doesn't stretch to the kind of hotel Harold would prefer, and it's high tourist season. They have two rooms at a local Hilton, with an adjoining door between the two.
"I'm not sharing," Shaw announces. "You boys can fight over who gets which bed, or whatever you have to do to salvage your fragile masculinity, but I get my own room."
"I can always sleep in the tub," he says. Harold looks pained.
"Mr Reese," he says.
"It's fine, Harold," John says. "I've slept worse places."
Shaw snorts, and goes into her room. John hears her unlock the adjoining door, and then she yells through it: "If you come in without knocking, I'm shooting you, John."
Harold makes a face, which John should probably not find nearly as endearing as he does.
"There are two beds," Harold says. "If you don't mind, Mr. Reese, I'll just –" he gestures toward the bathroom. He comes out fully dressed in old-fashioned pyjamas, and climbs stiffly into the bed closer to the door. John is sitting on the one closer to the window: it's a ground-floor room, and he doesn't want to take any chances. This arrangement puts Shaw between Harold and the hallway, and John between him and the outside world.
Harold sleeps silently, without moving. John wakes to the noises of unfamiliar birds, and each time Harold is in the same position, unmoved, unmoving. John wonders if he can sleep in any other position, how bad the surgical limitations really are. Most people, even people like John and Shaw, shift in their sleep. It takes a lot of pain to make the body unlearn that instinct: John knows that all too well.
* * *
The next day sees John, Harold, and Shaw back at headquarters. Harold sends John and Shaw out to clone a few phones, and by the end of the day, they know who's buying Bear. The name means nothing to John. Harold hacks into his finances, which are too neat and tidy to even possibly be real.
"He's the buyer?" Kelly asks, when he comes into the room and sees the photo up on the computer screen. "If we had probable cause, we could get one of the main drug trafficking rings through him." He whistles. "Nice work."
A few hours later, Harold has created himself a nearly foolproof identity as a low-profile money-laundering real-estate mogul who prefers to stay out of the public eye. Shaw goes shopping with Kalakaua so she can dress up as Harold's date. John is going to be stuck on sniper duty, because their target, Mr. Kei, is too paranoid to allow his guests more than a single plus one.
The house has shitty sight-lines, all topiary and tall non-native trees, which has to be intentional landscaping. John spares a moment to be glad he brought combat blacks, and gestures at McGarrett, who insisted on coming along for the ride. His people aren't inside: they're in a van a few blocks away monitoring the micro-dot bugs Harold is dropping through the house.
McGarrett blinks at him, eyes bright in his blacked-up face, but follows after a moment, not objecting to John taking point, or at least not objecting for the time being. It's been a long time since John worked with anyone military-trained other than Shaw, and it's a little unsettling to realize how quiet McGarrett can be when he's not actively blowing things up.
"Two guards, irregular patrol," John whispers, knowing the earpiece will pick it up. "I'll take the west side, you take the east. We don't go in unless Harold or Shaw gives the signal."
McGarrett nods, and loops off to their right. John heads left, and ducks out of view of a guard almost immediately.
The party is long, and sounds boring, if Shaw's intermittent commentary to Harold is any indication. Harold manages to set himself up in conversation with several people, and to be just blatant enough to get the team conversational evidence, while being discreet enough to avoid getting into trouble. Many of the people invited appear to be in need of someone discreet to launder large sums of cash, mostly from Eastern European dictators or south-east Asian drug lords, and Harold has more than a few offers before he meets Mr. Kei.
It would all have gone to plan, John thinks, if it weren't for Shaw's fondness for Bear, and how badly she spoils him. When Bear is brought in to be shown off by Mr. Anatoli he makes a beeline for Shaw despite the leash and her hissed commands.
To say that Mr. Kei's bodyguards take this reaction by a combat-trained dog badly, John guesses, would be an understatement. He's running as soon as he hears Shaw command Bear to guard Harold, and despite John's instructions to stay back, out of the line of sight, McGarrett chooses that moment to break the skylight and rappel down in a shower of glass shards and bullets.
It's lucky, John thinks, that McGarrett is apparently made of nothing but kevlar, and that his team is accustomed to his brand of crazy. It's lucky that Bear guarded Harold from the bodyguards who tried to use him as a hostage. It's not luck at all that John got there in time to shove himself between Harold and the knife Mr. Anatoli aimed at the back of his neck. That was sprinting and a few head-shots and a long lunge. The luck is that the knife didn't hit John anywhere fatal when he threw himself between the assassin and Harold's unguarded back. The knife does impair his movement, though, and when Mr. Anatoli jumps him, John hits his head on the edge of a granite slab table.
"Mr. Reese," Harold is saying, voice high and pinched. John can hear his voice in stereo, in his earpiece and also in the room with him.
"Rogers," John chokes out in correction. They're still undercover, dammit, Harold. "Harold, why are you still here? Shaw," he barks. "Get him out of here."
"Yeah," Shaw says, and she sounds fine, without the tightness in her voice that he associates with pain or injury. "That's not happening right now, John. Is it, boy?" She asks, and her voice goes soft the way it only does for Bear.
So Shaw and Bear are all right, John catalogs, and Harold is more worried about John than about himself.
"Mr. Kei," he says.
"We got him," Kelly says. "Kono and Danny are watching him, but you took out most of his bodyguards on your way in."
John isn't sure how many people he shot on his way in. There was one man he knocked out with a canapé tray, as well. He thinks he only knocked him out: the tray was sturdier than he was expecting, and there was more of a crunch than John had expected, dismissed in the moment as irrelevant as long as the man was out of his way, no longer between John and Harold.
"They were in the way," John says.
"Yes," Harold says. "So they were. No--" he says, voice going high and fearful when John tries to sit up. "Don't move, John."
He so rarely uses John's name. It might be nice to have it happen in situations other than ones where John is feeling woozy and pained. Now that he's waking up, it's not just his head that hurts, and he can tell there's something wrong with his breathing, and the knife is still embedded in his chest, a sharp, bright, rasping pain with each breath.
"The EMTs are on their way in," Harold says. "You'll go with them, and I'll be right behind."
John grabs his hand.
"The number," he says. He can't recall the man's pseudonym right now. He must have hit his head harder than he thought. "Anatoli."
"In custody," Harold says. "It will be fine, John."
"Stay with Shaw," he says. "They'll have more men."
"Not really," McGarrett says. "We got a trace on his phones, and we've sent the police out to arrest all known associates."
"Shaw," John insists, and then breathing hurts too much. He locks eyes with Shaw, who nods, so John lets himself pass out, secure in the knowledge that Harold is in good hands.
* * *
John wakes gradually. He's slow, and his thoughts are fuzzy, which means there must be some kind of opiate painkiller in the IV he can feel in his arm.
"You've never been stripped by a human trafficker," Kalakaua says into the silence. The room echoes around them: a big room, then. Shaw's ensuing silence speaks volumes, and Kono pauses. "Down to the skin?"
"Checking for bugs," Shaw confirms. "They were –" she might sound discomfited, if she were anyone else. "Very thorough."
"Sucks, huh?" Kalakaua offers.
John leaves them to it, and cracks an eye just enough to see Harold, who is sitting at John's bedside in what appears to be a ridiculously over-furnished private room. John focuses on his body and keeps his heart rate and breathing steady, not wanting a nurse to come in and bother him just yet. He needs to catalog how he's feeling first.
"I'm afraid there's no way I could possibly tell you what I'm doing right now," Harold says to Kelly, who is leaning over his shoulder. "Seeing as you are a sworn officer of the law who would never engage in illegal activities. I do happen to be deeply interested in local worthy charities that accept anonymous donations online. If you'd care to fill me in for – shall we call it academic curiosity?"
Kelly grins, and starts listing local organizations that he's heard good things about, playing along gladly.
Harold finishes transferring Mr. Kei's ill-gotten gains into the coffers of about two dozen local charities before anyone notices John is awake. All of the charities are small, and none of the transactions, John knows, will be traceable or above the legally reportable limits. The rest of the money will almost certainly go into various locked funds that Harold uses to support a variety of other charitable endeavors.
Noise filters down the hallway, and McGarrett walks in, his stride and boot-steps distinctive even on the hospital's floors. He's followed by someone limping – Detective Williams – and a long stream of low-voiced invective.
"--animal," Williams is saying. "I have a daughter, McGarrett, I do not need you dying on me or getting me shot at any more than you usually do -- do you hear me?"
"Yeah, Danno," McGarrett says. "You didn't get shot. You didn't even get shot at this time."
Williams takes a deep breath, clearly winding up for another rant.
"Detective," Harold says. "Commander. If I might have a word? Bear," he says. " Af ."
Bear jumps up on the bed and curls up at John's feet, staring at Harold the whole time. He looks unwilling to let Harold out his line of sight. John approves. He feels the same way: he can still see the knife coming at Harold's unprotected back against the insides of his eyelids.
"Just a moment," Harold says. "John, you can stop pretending to be asleep now."
Shaw snorts, and John opens his eyes.
"You know I appreciate your efforts," Harold says. He sounds like he's biting back something more. "But –" he pauses, and looks like he's visibly trying to re-format his thoughts, like they're a particularly unruly piece of code, something he can make work with enough effort. It doesn't seem to be working very well.
"What Harold's trying to say," Shaw says, not looking up from whatever Kalakaua's showing her on a tablet. "Is that he was a right pain in the ass while you were out, and he doesn't like it when you get stabbed in the lung. Don't be a fucking martyr, John."
John looks between the two of them, then shakes his head.
"They were going to stab Harold," he protests.
"I was right there," Shaw points out. "So was Kono. You don't have to do it all by yourself."
"You were busy," John says. He would move, really he would, but he seems to be in a bit more pain than he expected. Honestly, he's been shot and been in less pain than this before. Lungs are really inconvenient.
Harold just watches them, and Five-O seems not to be sure what's going on.
"I was fine," Shaw says, which is patently false: she was grappling with a man twice her size who had her around the neck. "Kono was fine. You're not Gotham's fucking caped crusader, you weren't even wearing a stab vest."
"Oh my god," Williams blurts out. He sounds like he's just had a realization. "Oh my god, Harold, you have one too, you have a McGarrett."
McGarrett makes a noise, like he's offended by the comparison. John would definitely be offended by the comparison if he had enough energy to muster up for it. He's much quieter, has more finesse. He's a scalpel, not a hammer, as Harold once said.
"What, what?" Williams says, and pokes McGarrett in the chest. "Like you have any room to talk, you neanderthal, rappelling through the skylight like that? Are you literally insane? No," he says, when McGarrett opens his mouth. "Don't answer that, I already know the answer. Yes. You are. You are one hundred percent certifiable, and I don't know why we don't lock you up."
John meets McGarrett's eyes. The man looks pained, but in a resigned kind of way, like he's used to Williams' shit, doesn't really mind. It's how John feels about Leon, sometimes, and sometimes about Shaw. John gives him a little nod, because he can do that, he can be the bigger man, even if he's being compared to someone who breaks skylights for fun.
"The plan worked," they say in unison.
"Oh dear lord," Harold says, and sits back in his chair. "I don't believe I anticipated –"
"What," Shaw says, and stretches. "There are two of them? You don't get to keep the SEAL, one badly-trained animal is enough to keep track of."
She reaches over and offers Bear a piece of jerky. John would be offended at the implication, but he's pretty sure that being compared to Bear is a compliment as far as Shaw is concerned.
"You want to keep him?" Williams says. "Sure. Go for it. But you'll wind up with hand grenades in your glove compartment, I have to warn you."
"I don't have a car," Harold says, momentarily distracted. He doesn't' seem to need to own one, John thinks, not with all the livery services in New York that are at his beck and call. "But I've already got an arsenal in my library," Harold muses. He's gone back to typing. "There are quite enough grenades in my life as things stand, thank you very much."
Williams sputters, and McGarrett says something about how he's taped the pins down, at least, isn't Danny happier about that now? John tunes them out, focuses on assessing his state. He's been hurt worse, and been patched up more hastily, but the list of such situations isn't a long one. He's going to be in recovery for a while. He might even have to break out the wheelchair again, if Harold goes full mother-hen on him. Shaw will never let him live that one down.
Shaw goes back to looking at pictures of something with Kalakaua. Kelly drops a comment in every once in a while, and McGarrett and Williams bicker in low voices. John lets the drugs drag him back down for a time.
"I have taken the liberty of compiling a list of Mr. Kei's known associates who have not yet been apprehended," Harold says after some time. John forces himself back to wakefulness. "None of it will be admissible in a court of law, but I assume you have a protocol for anonymous tips?"
McGarrett blinks, stopping mid-sentence with a hand waving in Williams' face.
"Yeah," Williams says, catching on faster than his boss. "Kono or Chin can walk you through it." He's grinning. "What?" He asks McGarrett. "This is gonna be fun. We'll have court-admissible evidence this time and everything, do it by the book. The governor's gonna love it."
McGarrett shakes his head, but John knows that look: he'll go along every step of the way.
"I'm afraid it may take several days to track everything down fully," Harold says. It's bullshit: John can tell he's lying by the way he's clipping his consonants just a bit too much. Shaw doesn't so much as tense an extra muscle, but she can tell, too, these days. "If we might impose on your hospitality a bit longer," Harold continues.
"Not like John's flying anytime soon, anyway," Shaw observes. She stands and stretches. Williams watches her out of the corner of his eye, obvious as anything. "You keep watch here," she says to Kalakaua. "I've got my hands full."
"Kom ," she says, and Bear hops down off the hospital bed. "Come on, Harold," she says. "I'm not letting you sleep in that chair, no matter how much you want to keep watch, or whatever. You can spy on John from the hotel like a civilized person."
Kelly stifles a smile, and John blinks.
"Stay with him," he says. Shaw raises an eyebrow, unimpressed.
"Right now he's in better shape than you are," she observes. But she attaches the lead to Bear's collar and hands it to Harold. "Get some rest, John," she says. "You look like shit."
And she hurries Harold out of the hospital room.
"Great people skills," Williams says, when it's clear that she's definitely out of earshot. Either he's a coward, John thinks, or he knows how to pick his battles. Probably the latter. Maybe.
"She's not so bad," John says. "Good at her job."
"Okay, cuz," Kalakaua says, moving her chair so she has line of sight to both the door and the window, and pulling out a small composite handgun. "I've got first watch. You'll set up a rotation?"
"You don't need –" John starts.
"Don't be stupid, brah," Kalakaua says. "You just locked up one of the drug lords on a small island. You think it'd be hard to find you?" She shrugs. "Besides, we let you get killed, Harold will probably drain our bank accounts."
He wouldn't, John thinks. Probably not: Harold has too many morals for that kind of petty revenge. But the idea of Harold caring enough to want to wage cyber-warfare on his account is still kind of heartwarming. John catches himself smiling, and tucks it back behind a mask. Goddamned drugs.
"Okay, Batman," Kalakaua says, patting him on his unbandaged shoulder. "Get some shut eye."
Kelly is there when John surfaces again, which implies that he and Kalakaua traded places without waking John. That's impressive, and mildly alarming. John decides to trust them, or at least trust that they know Harold is watching both of them, and goes back to sleep.
McGarrett comes in like a storm, crinkling paper and tapping boot heels. He doesn't seem surprised that John is awake.
"You want out, right?" He says. "You'll have to check out AMA, but I've got the paperwork here."
John hasn't been checked into a hospital legally for such a long time that it takes him a moment to remember what "AMA" stands for. He bites back a laugh: most of his life these days could be classified as going against medical advice.
"Thanks," he says, instead. McGarrett is loud, sure, but he seems to understand John's unease in the hospital in a way Kelly, Kalakaua, and Williams really don't.
"Bad lines of sight," McGarrett says, like it's totally normal to comment on the combat conditions of a private hospital room.
John nods, and McGarrett – Steve, John thinks. If the man's helping him break out of the hospital, John can use his first name – Steve hands over the paperwork.
The nurse is a stocky Hawaiian man who looks disapprovingly at Steve and mutters something under his breath about bad influences, from which John infers that Steve also checks himself out AMA as early and often as possible.
"You take it easy," the nurse says, poking a finger toward John's chest. "Actually easy. Sitting still, preferably lying down. And absolutely no flying for at least two weeks, you hear me? Just because the American Medical Association doesn't have strict rules for this doesn't make it a good idea."
John nods and smiles and resolutely does not grab the poking finger and wrap the arm around behind the nurse's back to stop it from getting anywhere near his weak spots. The stab wound on the front of his chest is sore, and he's still pretty drugged up.
"Your boss is at the Hilton," John tells him. When they walk out of the hospital, Detective Williams' Camaro is waiting outside with Detective Williams sitting, irate, in the driver's seat. "I'll drop you there."
John raises an eyebrow, and Detective Williams scrambles out in a flash of barely-restrained angry energy. John is beginning to get the sense that Williams' default state is a barely contained simmering rage, and that everyone around him is simply accustomed to it and lets it boil over whenever it needs to.
"What?" Williams demands, heading straight for Steve. "What part of 'keep an eye on him' meant 'bust him out of the hospital so he can bleed to death away from all the nice doctors and medical equipment'? He just had a perforated lung. He's not some idiot super-SEAL with a death wish. What part of staying in the hospital was too hard for you to understand?"
"Special Forces guys don't like hospitals either," he says, straight-faced, and John wonders what gave him away, because he can tell Steve means the Green Berets, not just any specialized military training. Williams, on the other hand, looks like he's about to fly off the handle.
"Oh my god," he says. "This is going to be hell all over again, all jargon and bullshit abbreviations and The Company. Do I have to remind you what happened the last–" he stops himself when something goes weak and almost haunted for a moment in Steve's expression. "Okay," Williams says, apparently aware he's hit a nerve John doesn't know about. "Okay, fine, you guys are all crazy hooyah types together. Just don't get us blown up, okay?"
"I wasn't a SEAL," John interjects. His voice feels a bit rusty and comes out rougher than he intended, but still quiet.
Williams stares at him, visibly thrown for a loop.
"Hooyah," John clarifies. "That's just the Navy. We didn't say that."
Williams throws his hands in the air, and Steve looks like he's trying – and abjectly failing – to hold back a smile at his partner's antics.
"Okay, tough guy," Williams says. "Fine, you're not a SEAL, you're some other brand of crazy."
He stares at John, whose suit is visibly rumpled and definitely still has a jagged, slightly blood-stained knife hole in it. That's going to drive Harold crazy, John thinks, because he's pretty sure there aren't any tailors up to Harold's specifications on Oahu, and it's not a clean slash through the suiting fabric in any case. The jacket might be a loss, which is a pity. John actually liked this one.
"I'm in the back seat of my own car, aren't I?" Williams says to Steve. It almost doesn't sound like a question, resigned as it is.
"I like to drive," Steve explains to John, holding out a hand for the keys.
Williams heaves an exaggerated sigh and folds himself into the back seat. John just nods, and climbs into the passenger seat. Keeping himself upright for this long has taken more out of him than he expected, and breathing is still a lot harder than he'd anticipated. Who knew you relied so heavily on having two fully functional lungs?
Steve's driving is hair-raising even by John's standards. Williams grabs the back of John's seat and bitches the whole way, and Steve weaves in and out of traffic like the laws don't apply to him. Technically, John supposes, they really don't. Immunity and means go a long way, it would seem.
When they get to the Hilton, John pulls himself out of the car and stays upright by sheer force of will. Steve gives him a small nod, and leads the way. The hotel room this time is on a higher floor: most likely a survivable drop, John catalogs, but too high for ladders without a lot of noise. He'll have to thank Shaw later.
Shaw opens the door and gives John a distinctly unimpressed look before hauling his good arm over her shoulders and dragging him into the room.
"Thanks," she says to Five-O, and shuts the door in their faces without another word.
"That wasn't very polite, Shaw," John chides her, or starts to. All the movement, followed by talking, starts him into a coughing fit.
"Idiot," she says, and lowers him, not ungently, to the bed closer to the center of the room. John would protest, but he's too busy feeling like his lungs are coming up his throat. When he pulls the hand towel Shaw shoved into his hand away from his mouth it's spotted with blood.
"Oh dear," Harold says. He sounds much too close, and much too concerned, which means John didn't manage to hide it from him. Damn.
"Hemoptysis," Shaw says, tone matter-of-fact. He would have liked her as a doctor, John thinks. No bullshit, no hiding from the truth. "He's got to get it out or it'll fuck up his lungs longterm. He'll be fine, Harold."
"Yes, thank you, Miss Shaw," Harold says. It's the I'll thank you not to notice me worrying tone of voice, and Harold busies himself making a veritable nest of pillows and helping ease John back against them.
"He can't fly for at least 48 hours," Shaw says. "You checked out AMA?" She asks, but it's not a question. "I knew getting the SEAL to take a watch was a bad idea. That's some macho bullshit."
"You'd have stayed?" John asks, genuinely curious.
"No," she admits. "But I'd have at least stolen some drugs on my way out. You're going to be in a lot of pain."
John shrugs, or tries to. Shaw is probably right, but he's been in pain before. At least no one's going to be asking him questions this time.
A few hours later, he's really rethinking that estimation. Shaw appears to have either made a run by a medical supplies shop, or, more likely, knocked over the hospital storage closet on her way out. She didn't boost any painkillers, though, just things that John is pretty sure could be used as torture devices. And she's definitely asking him questions, and she's damnably persistent.
"Is that all you've got?" Shaw asks. She looks at the notebook-shaped device and the height to which the piston has risen in its tube. "Seriously, your rib cage is how big, and you're drawing that little air?" She turns around to look at Harold. "He's not flying for at least two days," she says. "I need better results from the incentive spirometer before I'll even think about it."
"I'm right here," John protests: or tries to protest. Instead he ends up bent over coughing. Shaw shoves a throw pillow at him.
"Grab," she says, still looking at the plastic device she's been making him breathe into and writing something down in a paper notebook.
John glares at her, but he wraps one arm around the pillow, pressing it close to the stab wound. He's mildly annoyed to find that the pressure against the stitches does seem to help as he coughs. He's definitely disappointed to see that he's still coughing up blood into a hand towel Shaw put beside him last time they did this set of breathing exercises. In the corner of the room, Harold looks as alarmed as he ever did when John had been shot in the gut.
"Okay," Shaw says, when John takes a shaky breath that doesn't result in more coughing. "Well, that sucked. Do it again. Nine to go."
Harold makes a noise that might be protest, and Shaw doesn't turn around.
"He checked himself out AMA," she says. Her tone is matter-of-fact, brooking no protest.. "If he wants to stay here, he's doing ten spirometer tests every hour, or I'm carting him right back in and handcuffing him to the hospital bed."
"Kinky, Shaw," John says.
Harold coughs: it sounds like he's either startled or trying not to laugh. Shaw doesn't so much as blink, which means his attempt at a distraction didn't even begin to work.
"Less talking," she says. "More breathing."
"It would be easier," John starts to say. Shaw interrupts him.
"If you hadn't dived in front of our number's knife and been stabbed in the lung. I know. Think about that next time. Breathe now."
John knows a lost cause when he sees one. Sometimes he'll fight for them: this one, though? This one he'll give to Shaw. Besides, it will probably make Harold feel better if John can make some kind of progress, and get them on a plane to New York City again sooner.
* * *
Around dinnertime, there's a knock on the door. John starts to sit up, and Shaw makes a disgusted noise.
"It's probably the task force," she says, and heads for the door. "Harold," she tosses over her shoulder. "Keep him seated, will you?"
"Mr. Reese," Harold says, looking up from his computer over the rim of his glasses. His voice is the soft one John hears all too infrequently. "I know Miss Shaw's bedside manner leaves something to be desired, but I would appreciate it if you would not attempt to re-injure yourself quite so diligently."
"Aw, Harold," Shaw says, standing before the door, handgun in one hand. "You say the sweetest things."
"I'm quite sure I don't know what you're talking about," Harold shoots back. He shuts his laptop with a click. "Is that Mr. Kelly?"
Shaw looks through the peephole in the door.
"It's all four of them," she says. She opens the door, not bothering to hide her unregistered firearm from the members of law enforcement she's letting into their hotel room. "Don't you guys have a job to do, or something?" Shaw asks.
"Someone just busted a kingpin," she says, wry smile playing around her lips. "Seems like the small-time crooks are keeping a low profile right about now, and your guy's turning state's evidence against the Russian mob, so we're all done but the paperwork."
"Imagine that," Harold murmurs. He drops Bear's leash, and Bear hustles over to Steve, who looks like he's about as fond of spoiling dogs as Shaw is: the man has what looks like half a pet store in a shopping bag over one arm.
Williams rolls his eyes when Steve pulls a huge rawhide bone out of the sack.
"Seriously, were you raised in a barn?" He demands, taking it away from Steve before he can give it to Bear. "You don't just give people's pets things to eat without asking first." He pauses. "That goes double for their kids. I don't care if you have immunity and means, you're not giving kids candy without asking their parents first, you hear me?"
Steve makes an exaggeratedly aggrieved face, then winks at John when his partner's back is turned. John quirks a smile. He'd done something similar with the partner before Kara, once or twice, back when his partner had a sense of humor, and he'd still had the time to indulge it.
"It's quite alright, Detective," Harold says. "I asked Commander McGarrett if he wouldn't mind picking a few things up. Bear gets ideas about chew toys when he isn't appropriately outfitted."
"They're just books, Harold," Shaw says. "How's he supposed to tell they're first editions?"
Kelly's face does something complicated before settling back into impassivity. Kalakaua just laughs.
"So," she says, "Put that away, or let me see it," she demands, stepping into the room around Shaw and pointing at Shaw's handgun.
Shaw shrugs, and hands it over without a word, stepping back to let the whole task force team flow into the room. Kelly shuts the door behind them while Steve kneels to play-tussle with Bear.
"You shoot my boss with my piece, and I'm taking you out," Shaw warns.
"What about your partner?" Kalakaua asks. She sounds distracted, having already unloaded the ammunition clip and round in the chamber so she can look at the trigger mechanism more closely.
"He can get shot on his own time," Shaw says. "He's got more practice."
"I'm hurt, Shaw," John protests, but there's no heat to it.
"I know you are," Shaw points out, glancing pointedly at the spirometer sitting on the hotel bedside table. "So don't make it worse."
"She always this polite?" Williams asks. He sits on the edge of John's bed and stretches out his knee with a mild grimace. John makes a note to have Harold hack into his medical records, see if Williams is actually seeing the best doctor for what must be an ACL injury.
"Nah," John says, not missing a beat. "You got her on a good day. I think she likes Hawaii."
Shaw shoots him a dirty look, and Williams actually does a double-take.
"She's always like this?" He asks.
"Oh, no," Harold says. He sounds almost amused, to John's ear, but it might be hard for anyone else to tell. He probably sounds reserved, almost distant. "She's quite often much more violent," Harold says, and gives a small smile.
"God," he says. "You know what? I don't want to know. You guys show up out of nowhere, you're obviously more than meets the eye, Harold, not to mention your trained ex-military bodyguards, and it's not my job. Don't break any laws where I have to notice them, and we'll call it even for taking down Mr. Kei and whatever you did that gave Chin and Kono those legally-admissible documents." He sighs. "Steve, were you going to wrestle with that poor dog all night, or actually tell these nice people why we're here?"
McGarrett – Steve, John reminds himself – gets to his feet and straightens his t-shirt where Bear was latched onto the hem.
"Figured you all might not want to go out much," he said. "What with the people looking for you. But–" he glares, and Kalakaua jumps in.
"What the boss is trying to say," she says, and shoots him an amused look. "Is that he's got a house with a private stretch of beach and a grill, and you're all invited."
Shaw looks at her, sidelong.
"What's security like?" She asks. John is glad to see she's taking Harold's safety seriously.
"When this idiot remembers to set the alarm, it's just fine," Williams says. "Someone's too much of a macho asshole to set the code very often, but –"
"It's where you sheltered General Pak?" Harold interrupts. "I believe it will do nicely, Miss Shaw. It would be a pity to fly all this way and spend all of our time in a Hilton."
He sounds personally offended by the idea of staying in a hotel he doesn't own, even if it's only one of his cover identities on the paperwork. John bites back a smile.
"What's wrong with the Hilton?" Williams starts, and then visibly reins himself in. "Wait, you know what, with those suits, I don't want to know. You make my ex-wife's new husband look like he's poor, and that's saying something, okay, that's really saying something, because the guy's in real estate..."
John tunes him out, thinking that perhaps this is how Five-O works, by tuning out the background noise. It would drive him crazy, and Shaw would shoot someone inside a week – if she even made it that long – but it does seem to work for them.
"We've got a pair of SUVs out front," Kelly says, when Williams pauses for breath. "Steve already stocked up on food before he remembered that we should probably invite you, you know, see if you wanted to join us."
"If not," Kalakaua says, and shrugs. "More for us."
Shaw holds a hand out for her gun.
"Give that back," she says. "But I'm in. Not turning down food someone else is paying for."
That's a bit rich, John thinks, since Harold pays for all of their food, but she doesn't seem to think about it that way. He's still not sure how they've worked out payment between her and Harold: she outright laughed at the idea of having Harold automatically replenish bank accounts the way he does for John. Maybe she does just get a lump sum in cash for each job, old-fashioned and untraceable if she's careful.
"What she means, I think," Harold says, "is that we'd be delighted to join you. Thank you."
"No," Shaw casually contradicts him, shoving the gun in the back of her jeans in the holster in the small of her back. "What I meant was that I like free food, and don't mind beaches." She looks over at John. "You're staying out of the water, or I'm kneecapping you and letting them stop you from drowning," she warns.
John feels a bit like he's being managed, but he's damn tired.
"I care about you, too, Shaw," he says, dry as he can manage, with the small, insincere smile he knows drives her crazy. Then he hauls himself to his feet.
"Mr R–" Harold cuts himself off. "John, I do wish you'd let us –"
"I'm not using a wheelchair, Harold," John says, because he knows Harold will have arranged for one to be available, just in case. He can walk, it's just going to take a bit more focus than usual. "Draws too much attention, and they're a bitch on sand anyway."
Harold gives him a long look, then nods.
"Great," Kalakaua says, and looks up from where she's letting Bear stand guard over her 'dead' body. Kelly seems to have learned enough Dutch to tell Bear to let her go: if it were someone else, John might be more worried, but Kelly seems like the kind of guy who'd feel bad about making a dog kill someone when he could do it himself. Besides, Bear likes Shaw better.
The walk down to the SUVs at the hotel's entrance is far too exhausting, and John climbs into the middle row of seats, tacitly letting Shaw and Five-O take point on guarding them during the drive. He focuses on breathing, and wishes he'd brought a hand towel or something with him, because he can tell he's going to start coughing again as soon as he stops focusing on repressing it. He may not have the best manners anymore, but John is still pretty sure bleeding in other people's homes is frowned upon.
Harold presses a handkerchief into his hand, and offers him a pained look.
"Miss Shaw did say it's better to get it out of your system," he says. "I'm afraid I didn't smuggle a pillow out with me, though."
The handkerchief is linen, John thinks, fine white and embroidered with a discreet H in one corner. Handy enough for any of Harold's pseudonyms, no second initial to give him away. If wearing bespoke suits has taught John anything, it's that this small square of fabric is probably worth more than he wants to consider.
"I'm fine," he says. He doesn't move to take the handkerchief, though part of him – the part Kara always called a whipped dog – strains to take this small token, this piece of proof that Harold cares more about John than about his linens.
"You're decidedly not fine," Harold snaps. "I would appreciate it if you would stop lying to me, John. I can read a spirometer as well as Miss Shaw."
Shaw snorts from the front seat. But really it's the use of his first name that does it. John holds a hand out, and lets Harold press the handkerchief into it with cool fingers. Then John stops rigidly controlling his breathing and coughs up what feels like a mountain of blood specks and mucus while pressing his free hand to the bandaging. The pressure isn't enough, but it's better than nothing.
By the time he's done coughing, they've pulled off onto a side street. John has been keeping track of the turns, or he thought he was, but this was faster than he expected. Real estate around here isn't ostentatious, but is expensive enough to be strange for a cop's salary, even a task force commander.
"It was his father's house," Harold says into John's earpiece, his microphone picking up sub-vocalizations that John can hardly feel vibrating through Harold's arm against his. "I believe you read about it with regards to Victor Hesse."
It's the site of his father's murder, Harold means. John sits a little straighter, and resists the urge to start coughing again.
"Thanks, Harold," he says. It's as much for the information as for the handkerchief, but he wiggles the square of linen in case anyone other than Shaw is listening in. Shaw is, as far as John can tell, always listening in, even when Harold thinks he's cut her out of the loop of their communication. Maybe that would bother someone else, but maybe Harold's constant watchfulness would also bother someone else: John can't tell, because he's only ever been himself.
The house itself is medium in size, unremarkable except for its beachfront position, and Steve mans the grill with the ease of long practice. John settles into a deck chair that's low enough that he doesn't want to leave it for Harold, and Detective Williams settles in next to him, handing him a beer.
"Thanks, Detective," John says.
"Call me Danny," Williams says. "And that's Kono, and Chin. We're off the clock, you know." He takes a pull of his beer. "Probably should have asked if you could drink that first," he says. "But if you're like Steve, you're not taking painkillers, right?"
John clinks the necks of their beers together and takes a sip of the Longboard. It goes down smooth, and John settles back into the chair and watches Shaw, Kono, and Steve compare grilling notes in low voices. Shaw and Kono divest themselves of weapons and spar in the sand while Harold and Chin sit at a small table in straight-backed chairs. Harold is typing something on a small tablet, and Chin leaning over his shoulder, and John can tell that Steve and Danny are on high alert so he lets himself relax a bit and watch the sky change colors as the sun sets against the wide Hawaiian sky.
It's a good evening: loud and quiet in alternating waves. Danny wanders off, and Steve sinks into the chair next to him for a bit. Kono brings him a plate that he's half-sure is hazing and half-sure is a tacit welcome to the family, and John settles back and just watches, at peace in a way he hasn't been in a long time.
It's only when they're back in SUV on the way to the Hilton that John realizes he hadn't thought of Jessica even once all evening, despite the similarity of their surroundings.
"I'm in the next room," Shaw says when they get to their floor. John is amazed all over again at how much being stabbed in the lung sucks: he sat half-upright for several hours and he's still exhausted. "It has an adjoining door. Yell if you're being murdered in your sleep."
And she flashes her keycard and leaves them alone in the hallway. Harold opens the door for John, who paces in, looking at the spare state of the room. The only real sign that someone is checked in is the suits hanging in a neat row in the closet, because of course Harold would never leave electronics unattended in a strange place.
Shaw pokes her head through the door, which John was pretty sure housekeeping would have locked.
"Use the spirometer before bed, John," she says. "You know the drill. Don't fake the numbers, or I'll make you do a full pulmonary function test and they'll readmit you to the hospital."
John nods, and sits down on the bed Harold has already stacked with extra pillows. He hates being a burden, but it's kind of nice to have someone he trusts to have his back do small things like this. It makes it easier to pretend, just for a moment, that Harold might think of him as more than a conveniently biddable employee, a leashable attack dog.
"Quite a targeted threat, Miss Shaw," Harold observes.
She laughs, and shuts the door without a word.
"I won't lie to Miss Shaw," Harold says, when John bends to take off his shoes. He sounds not reproving, exactly, but like he's establishing ground-rules.
"Wouldn't ask you to, Harold," John says. "I'll do the tests. I don't want to end up in the hospital again any more than Shaw wants to take me in."
If that's as much because he knows hospital chairs are hell on Harold's back as because of any concern for his own wellbeing, well, John can keep that to himself. It might make Harold worry about John's survival instincts. It's not that John is suicidal. He's just got priorities that place Harold's safety above his own. John knows his own value, and he's dead certain that in the grand scheme of things he's far less important, even if Decima weren't on the horizon. Shaw can stand in for John: no one can stand in for Harold.
But saying that would just make Harold worry, so John strips down to shorts and an undershirt and goes through the spirometer test all ten times, making notes so Shaw will only make her mildly-disappointed face at him in the morning.
John wakes in the middle of the night when Harold moves in his sleep, shifting in a way he hadn't the first night. Some of the pain was from the flight, John catalogs, and waits for Harold's breathing to even out again before he allows himself to fall back asleep.
The next two days are a parade of Five-O visitors. It seems to be a mix of updates on the cases they have open, and keeping an eye on the three of them, which makes perfect sense to John. He wouldn't want Five-O on his turf unaccompanied any more than Five-O seems to want them here.
Finally Detective Williams - Danny – brings his daughter over after school on Friday to keep John company. She's got a poker face she must have learned from her mother, and beats Shaw at cards twice in a row before Harold steps in and offers to teach her some basic programming to get her off Shaw's back. John could have told him that Shaw has the beginnings of a soft spot for little girls with more smarts than caution, but he figures Shaw can stick up for herself, and Grace definitely can.
"Thanks," Danny says, when he swings by a few hours later. "It's my weekend, and Rachel's out of town. We didn't expect Anatoli's case to run long. Step-Stan gets pissy when I bring her to the office."
"I only taught her basic self-defense the one time," she points out, and Grace swarms into her personal space.
"And it was awesome, Kono," she enthuses. "Will you teach me more? Tommy says it's not really Krav Maga, because I'm not Jewish."
"I'm not Jewish either," Shaw says. "We'll get you sorted, kid."
Danny puts his face in his hands.
"This," he says to the world at large, as if he expects anyone in the room to be listening. "This is why I don't let crazy people babysit my little girl."
"I'm not that little, Danno," Grace protests from over Kono's shoulder, where she's been slung even though she's almost half Kono's size. John knew he was right to pick Kono out as a dangerous person when he first met her.
"Besides," Kono points out. "Kamekona won't babysit for her anymore since she fleeced his friends at poker during the falsified tsunami warning, remember?"
Danny lets out an exaggerated sigh, but he holds up his hand for a high-five.
"Yes, monkey," he says. "You do have an awesome poker face."
"Can we go to Uncle Steve's?" Grace demands. "The sand there is better, and I want to learn more Krav Maga."
John settles back against the pile of pillows Harold constructed for him against the headboard, glad he's not coughing as much, and waits for them to leave so he can take another nap. Shaw has been making relentless fun of him, but she's also been quiet when she thinks he's sleeping, so he figures she's on board with the recovery plan. Harold has been working on code for one of his aliases while they're holed up here, and John would not be the least bit surprised if Harold allowed Grace to write some of it, just to get some more organic errors in the code.
"Well," Kono says. "You guys coming, or what?"
Danny shrugs, and they end up at Steve's house again.
"Boss," Kono yells up the stairs. "We're coming in!"
John notes that Danny knows the code to the security system, and where everything goes in the front hall. Grace seems to know her way around too. Decidedly under three minutes later the shower upstairs stops running, and a moment or two later, Steve jogs down the stairs barefoot, pulling a shirt on over his head as he comes down.
"Oh, sorry," he says, when he sees Harold, John, and Shaw.
"Don't be," Shaw says, and gives him an ostentatious once-over up and down. Steve actually blushes, and Kono laughs.
"Don't mind him," Danny says, propelling Grace into the house with one hand on the small of her back. "He's an exhibitionist."
"Did I look like I minded?" Shaw asks, just as Grace pipes up.
"Danno, what's an exhibitionist?"
Danny glares at Steve, who shrugs, and mouths the words "Your kid," at him over Grace's head.
Steve looks at Danny, who shrugs. That seems to settle it as far as Grace is concerned.
"This way," Grace says, and tugs on Harold's hand more gently than John would have expected for a kid as active as she seems to be. "We can't sit on the lanai, it's too bright, but we can sit in the kitchen." Her voice trails off as they walk away, but John can still hear her through Harold's link. "The study would be better for computery things, but Danno says Uncle Steve doesn't like people to use the study." She pauses. "I think it's because his dad died in there," she says. "But Danno doesn't like to talk about it."
Harold starts to say something in return, but John doesn't catch it, because Danny takes that moment to stare up at him, over at Shaw, and down at Kono. He's really short for a cop, John thinks, not for the first time.
"You can teach her self-defense," he says. "But if she gets suspended from school again, so help me, I'm going to make you regret it, or at least make Kono do all the shit work for at least a week for every hour I have to spend on the phone with my ex."
"You won't make me do case-related paperwork," Kono says, cheerful. "I do it wrong."
"No," Danny says. "I'll make you do house calls on recent widows of gang members to ask about known associates, see if I don't."
John nods, impressed. That's a damnably mean punishment, and one that seems pretty effective, if the look on Kono's face is any indication.
"I don't have leverage on you two," Danny admits. "She's a good kid, don't make me regret trusting you, okay?"
Shaw looks at John. "You're sitting down," she says.
She looks at Danny, and nods. "I'll teach her when to use it," she says. "You want her safe in case of kidnapping, right? She'll need more than a knee to someone's junk if they've got guns."
Danny goes a little white, but Steve nods. That's right, John remembers. Steve's sister was kidnapped not so long ago, bundled into the trunk of a car and nearly killed. If John thinks back, he's pretty sure Danny's ex-wife had her car jacked with Grace in it not too long ago. No wonder he's on board with Grace getting self-defense lessons.
"Yeah, sure," Danny says, but he looks relieved.
Steve goes off to the grocery store in his truck and comes back with Chin in tow on his bike and another man – middling build, Asian, glasses, not very physically fit – named Max carrying bags of groceries. Max turns out to be a pathologist and the chief medical examiner for the police, and very, very odd. John sits on the lanai with a beer and a dish of macadamia nuts and listens to Harold and Max discuss certain message boards that Max frequents while Shaw and Kono demonstrate some very unsafe hold escapes for Grace in the sand. When Grace gets bored, she drags Harold back into the kitchen for more programming, and Shaw takes Harold's seat next to Max.
John lets the conversation – something about specimen jars and pickles – wash over him without paying much attention to the words while he watches the water. He hasn't coughed up blood in nearly twelve hours, and he's feeling better about the chances of Shaw allowing him on a plane tomorrow, but this is a nice break from the insanity of their daily lives in New York City.
Even with the excitement of the attack at Mr. Kei's house, it's been almost a vacation for them. And right now the breeze is warm and the sand looks soft, and the company isn't half bad, even if it is much louder than John would usually prefer. Then again, beside the insanity that is Five-O, no one is giving John or Harold a second thought, and Shaw's only drawing attention because she seems to want to. She and Grace throw a stick for Bear for a while, which he seems to enjoy, and then he goes barreling into the water and comes out and shakes all over the place before rolling in the sand.
"I do hope you know you'll be washing him this time, Miss Shaw," is all Harold says when he sees his dog caked with sand.
"I'm sure Steve has a hose," she says, and tosses another stick for Bear to get out of the shallow surf.
Kono brings him another plate of the same food tonight. John decides he's being welcomed into the family when he sees her give Chin the same thing. Either that or she's hazing her own cousin, which, he thinks, is also quite possible. It doesn't much matter: the food isn't poisoned, and there are enough dangerous people around them who are at least temporarily allied that he can relax a little bit without worrying about Harold's safety.
Even John can see that his breathing is better that evening, when Shaw supervises his spirometer use.
"You can fly," she says. "I mean, it's not a good idea, but we've dicked around here long enough. Carter's getting pissed about handling numbers on top of her day job, and Fusco's being a pain."
John looks at Harold, surprised.
"I do wish you hadn't said that, Miss Shaw," Harold says. "I believe we discussed this while John was still unconscious in the hospital."
"And now he's not," Shaw says. "He can fly, so he's back in the loop." She looks at John. "The numbers don't stop coming," she says. "You know that. We're not on vacation, John. We're AWOL."
That snaps things back into perspective.
"When's our flight?" He asks, and he doesn't even need to suppress the feeling of being about to cough.
"Tomorrow morning," Harold says. "There's nothing available earlier, I'm afraid, and the time difference means we won't get back into New York City until quite late. Detectives Carter and Fusco have been doing quite admirably on their own, Miss Shaw."
"Then I'll see you for breakfast," she says, and disappears into her hotel room.
John tries to turn some of this over in his head, to make sense of things. The feeling of warm wellbeing he'd been nurturing since the first night on Steve's lanai has dissipated like smoke in the air, leaving only the crater of a poorly-aimed shell.
"You said you wouldn't lie to me, Harold," he says, finally. It's what he keeps coming back to.
Harold makes a pained noise, and limps around to place himself in John's line of sight.
"I haven't lied to you," Harold says. "I simply didn't feel the need to worry you. Stress is contraindicated for recovery from major injuries."
"Lies of omission," John rasps out. "You should have told me."
Harold meets his eyes, and nods.
"All right," he says. "When it's related to the numbers, I'll do my best not to withhold necessary information, Mr. Reese."
John thinks about the wording of that.
"Was this necessary?" He asks, finally. "Because that seems like a pretty big loophole, Harold."
Harold sighs, and shakes his head.
"I really did have your best interests at heart," he says. "But I will endeavor to give you the same information as Miss Shaw, if such a circumstance should occur again, and I will not ask her to withhold information from you again."
John nods. He still feels unmoored, but he knew things were too good to be true, that this brief glimpse of an island paradise wasn't his to hold onto. He can build on Harold's promise to keep him informed.
"That will work," John says. Then, because Harold looks uncertain, still, and John hates that, he goes on. "I don't like it," he says. "But I understand what you were trying to do." He pauses. "Don't do it again," he warns. "You said you'd never lie to me, and you haven't yet."
Don't give me reason to distrust you , is what John is really saying. Don't use me up and throw me away the way the CIA did.
Harold puts a hand on his shoulder. His grasp is surprisingly firm, and warm even through John's suit jacket.
"I really am a very private person, Mr. Reese," he says. "But I will tell you if I feel the need to withhold information in the future. Will that be acceptable?"
John nods, and Harold sits in what has become his chair at the small desk in the hotel room and fills John in. Anatoli has turned state's evidence against the Russian mob: it looks like he was trying to get out, rather than to expand their gambling business. John's still mad at him about the whole trying to stab Harold thing.
"I'm really more upset about him stabbing you, Mr. Reese," Harold says. "It's only to be expected that he would panic when he saw the deal going south. It seems he was merely trying to get enough money to maintain his younger brother's safety."
John isn't sure what to make of that admission. It sounds awfully like Harold doesn't think it's strange for someone to want to kill him. He shrugs his good shoulder.
"It's part of the job," he says. Harold frowns, and John continues. "I really am your bodyguard," John says. "I take that seriously, Harold."
Harold nods. And perhaps he wants John to hear it, or perhaps he's distracted, because it comes through loud and clear, as he shuts the bathroom door with an armful of pyjamas.
"I do sometimes wish you would take your own safety more seriously," Harold murmurs.
John has never pretended to be a brave man where his feelings are concerned. By the time Harold emerges from the bathroom, John is doing his level best to pretend to be asleep.
* * *
The whole Five-O team turns out to see them off at a small private airfield where Harold has rented a jet that will take them to California. They even have Adam in tow, looking a bit less awed and a bit less stoned than last time. He's fidgety as they approach.
"Hey, man," Adam says, pulling Harold aside while Steve talks to the pilot and Shaw and Kono talk in low voices. John turns to keep Harold in his peripheral vision, listening through Harold's comm link, because Adam sounds worried. "I just wanted to say – like – there's some bad rumors out there, you know? Some bad shit is gonna be going down, and some of the people the government hired, they're not coming back online." He shakes his head. "You're a good dude," he says. "And these guys," he jerks a thumb at Danny and then at Steve. "They're fine, but, like, the big kahunas?" Adam shakes his head. "It sounds crazy, but maybe steer clear of government work for a while, that's all I'm saying."
Harold makes an affirmative noise.
"That goes for you, too," he says. He pauses, and John thinks he's going to say more, but Harold just shakes his head. "Be safe, Adam," he says. "If anything seems fishy about a job, you know how to reach me."
Adam freezes, obviously surprised.
"You believe me," he blurts out. "Like, you don't think I'm some kind of tin-hat conspiracy theorist just for saying that." He looks at Harold again. "Yeah, man," he says. "I'm doing, like, low-level shit for a while, keeping my head down. I don't need that kind of heat."
Harold hands him something, possibly a USB key, and Adam pockets it.
"We good to go?" Shaw asks, taking Bear's leash from Kelly, who seems to really like having a dog. "Because this flight is going to suck for everyone but me, and I just want to get back to New York. I want decent pizza again, this shit all has pineapple on it."
Danny makes a noise of triumph, and John remembers one of Harold's notes: Detective Williams appears to hate everything about Hawaii, from beaches to pineapple. This is the first sign he's had that any of that is actually the case.
"Yeah, yeah," Steve says. "I heard her. Don't rub it in, Danno."
John shakes everyone's hand, Shaw gives a general wave, and then she herds Bear up the steps into the jet, and John follows Harold, who is moving better than he has been since they got to Hawaii in the first place. Harold takes a seat and pulls out a laptop while the pilot goes through the necessary flight checks. John keeps an ear on the process, just in case.
"Relax," Shaw says. "He's one of Steve's Navy buddies." But she's paying close attention, too.
When they lift off, John's ears don't pop on the way up -- the ascent is more gradual than he would have expected. It's still more painful than he was entirely prepared for. Harold hands him another monogrammed handkerchief, and bends down to pull a hotel pillow out of one of the bags John was carrying. John has no idea how Harold got it in there.
"Cough," Harold advises. "It gets the pressurized air out faster."
"That's debatable," Shaw says, from where she's stretched out on a bank of seats. "But it's not going to hurt worse. Don't re-pneumothorax yourself, John," she says. "I really don't want to deal with that right now."
John doesn't want to deal with it either, but he doesn't have a choice. Harold, thankfully, seems to be able to tell that John doesn't want attention while he bloodies a handkerchief and his eyes tear up with pain. The methodical tapping of Harold's fingers against the keys is somehow grounding, and John manages to nap a little bit after his breathing has steadied out.
All too soon, it's the descent, which makes John feel like his lung is trying to gape open around the stab wound, and more coughing, and then the wheels hit the tarmac and Shaw pokes him in the shoulder.
"Hey," she says. "Hospital?"
She doesn't sound it, but she looks concerned.
"I'm fine," John says. "Nothing tore, it's just not fun."
She raises an eyebrow at that, gives him an evaluating look, and then nods.
"I'm stretching my legs and walking your dog," she says. "You two stay here. Bear," she says. " Kom. "
It might be the first time she's called Bear Harold's dog, and not John. John purses his lips, then decides not to comment on it.
"Mr. Reese," Harold says. He's standing, moving shakily over to where John is sitting. "I must insist, if you're in that much pain –"
"It's fine, Harold," John says. "Just takeoff and landing. Carter'll kill me if we keep her working the numbers any longer."
"Detective Carter can do as she sees fit," Harold says, indignant. "It's not her I'm concerned about, John."
His voice is high and tight, the way it's only been before when John goes silent on the comms after a firefight. John wonders how selfish it is of him to wish that Harold would sound like that – like he cared about John – when he didn't think John's life was in immediate danger. He shakes his head, willing the thought away. No need to chase ghosts, and no point in worrying about what-ifs.
"I'm fine," John repeats. Then, because that's not quite true, he amends his statement. "I will be fine. Shaw wouldn't let me fly if I weren't good to go."
"Yes, well," Harold says. "I'm afraid Miss Shaw has less than a full understanding of how much pain this process might involve. You'll forgive me if I set my bar for empathy rather higher."
That's almost too much to take. John closes his eyes.
"I want to go home, Harold," he says, and wonders if this is it, if this is the line he hasn't crossed before. Harold can see his whole life, listen to every word he says, but John doesn't say all that much, not when it comes to this kind of thing. "I hate hospitals. I just want to go home."
Home means the loft, maybe, but it also means the library, and the people they left behind. Home means New York City's bustle and anonymity and hiding in plain sight, and being the Man in the Suit again. Maybe some of that comes through in John's voice, because Harold lets out a shaky breath, then clasps a hand on John's good shoulder.
"All right, Mr. Reese," he says. "Let's go home."