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Brothers beyond blood

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McGarrett pulled away from Thomas at the sound of someone knocking on his front door. “It’s my weekend off, it’s our weekend off.”

Magnum smiled. “We know it’s not Danny, Rick or T.C.”

“Correct, because none of them would knock, they would just walk right in.”

“Friends,” Thomas replied with a roll of his eyes. “Go and answer that, I’ll get the coffee.” He leaned in and gave Steve a quick kiss before he moved away.

Steve grinned. “Good idea.” He made his way through and opened the door. “This better be good.”

“Commander.” Junior stood in the door.

“You okay?” Steve asked, concerned. He stepped back and let his young teammate enter the house.

“I’m okay, Boss. I’m sorry to bother you on your weekend off but I wouldn’t have if it wasn’t important.”

“What is it, Junior? Is it your family? Tani, is she okay?” Steve inquired.

“They are all fine, I promise. This is something different.”

Thomas entered the living room with three mugs of steaming coffee. “When I heard it was Junior, I made him some as well.”

He handed a mug to Steve and handed the other to Junior. “You all right, kid?”

“Thanks, Commander.”

Steve sighed and rolled his eyes. “You know before you came into the picture Junior only called me commander.”

Thomas smiled. “I’ve told him more than once to call me Thomas, or Magnum.”

“It’s a sign of respect, Sir.” Junior bit down on his bottom lip.

“We both know that, Junior. I’m just pulling your leg.” Steve took a seat next to Magnum and both men waited for Junior to sit down as well.

“Something has got you worried.” Magnum remarked.

Junior nodded. He took a deep breath. “Do either of you remember Ashland Spenser?”

“Senior Chief Spenser. I remember. Huge ego. Not a bad SEAL. Got himself PNGed due to his book,” Steve answered.

“Yes.” Junior nodded. “Well, he’s got a son.”

“Ash Spenser? He couldn’t be a father to a rock never mind a living human being.” Magnum added.

Junior smiled but became somber again. “Clay will agree with you on that.”

“Clay is the son I gather?” Steve asked.

“Yip. And he is a SEAL, just much better than his old man. He’s DEVGRU and is running with Bravo team.”

“Jason Hayes’ team?” Steve sounded impressed.

Junior nodded. “Clay has been their rookie for over two years now. He’s been groomed by Jason himself to take over Bravo when Jason retires. Clay has been described as a true believer, Boss. He would do everything for his team and his country.”

“Even if it is said that true believers get themselves killed.” Magnum eyed Steve.

“Don’t look at me, I’m still alive.” Steve responded. “And by the way, the same has been said about you as well, White Knight.

“I’m just grateful both of you are alive, because I need your help.” Junior interrupted.

“Sorry.” Steve held up his hand. “What can we help with?”

“Has it got something to do with Ash’s kid, Clay?” Magnum inquired.

Junior nodded. “I met Clay when I was doing BUDs. He was this skinny kid with too long hair, bleached white from the sun and these blue eyes that stared into your soul. He hadn’t been in the States for long since he returned from Liberia after the death of his maternal grandparents.”

“Wait? Are you saying he was raised in Africa?”

Junior nodded at Steve’s question. “He didn’t tell me on that day, hell, it took weeks before he spoke a word to me. The long and the short of part of the story is that he was shipped to Liberia at the age of six where his grandparents did missionary work. He was raised by them and just after his seventeenth birthday, a group of rebels attacked the missionary and killed everyone on site. Clay and his best friend were at the river and survived. Clay was shipped here and got placed back in Ash’s care.”

“What about his mother?”

“Not worth the ink that was used to write her name on Clay’s birth certificate.” Junior sounded angry.

Steve cringed at Junior’s words. When Thomas reached out and squeezed his hand, he returned the gesture.

“In any case, Clay turned eighteen, signed up for BUDs, qualified, got selected and ended at the top of his class. While he was working his ass off, he had to deal with the issue of Ash, whose book had just been published at that time. Clay weathered the storm, got drafted into Team 3, ended up leading the team and signed up for Green Team training.”

“Which he also aced, if he ended up on Bravo.”

“Correct. Ended up in a three-way tie for the top position but was seen as the top candidate. It didn’t hurt his cause that he got to run with Bravo on an op prior to the final selection.”

Magnum frowned. “How old is he?”

“Twenty-eight.”

Magnum opened his mouth and closed it again.

“He’s the youngest DEVGRU operator in the SEALs history,” Junior explained.

“Seems to me he’s living the perfect life, what problem does he have?”

Junior reached into his pocket and took out a newspaper clipping. He passed it to Steve. “The media made it out as being an attempt from a group of protestors to disrupt the water supply to the region.”

“Let me guess, it was more than that.”

Junior nodded. “Bravo and Alpha teams went in and they stopped a biohazard incident. One that would’ve brought the region to its knees if it succeeded.”

“What happened then?” Steve asked.

“Last week Ash Spenser promoted his newest book on a live newscast and hinted about the incident and said he had inside information from a SEAL who took part in the operation.”

“Shit,” Steve cursed. “Brass saying Clay shared classified information? Did he?”

“Yes they did, and no, he didn’t. Clay will not willingly talk to his dad. In fact, he would rather die than say one word to his old man.”

“His team must believe him? They'll have his back.”

Junior snorted. “You would think so.”

Steve blanched. “What happened?”

“They turned on him. Told him he’s a traitor and kicked him out of the team. He then got attacked by Bravo’s support team and nearly beaten to death.”

“Is he okay?” Magnum asked.

“Should still be in hospital but he signed out AMA, hopped on the first flight over here and is currently sleeping in my bed where Tani is keeping an eye on him.” Junior bowed his head. “He is down on the ropes, Boss. He’s lost all of his trust in his team - his brothers. He really thought they would have his back.” Junior looked up. “The worst part, he already accepted that he’s going to be kicked out of the Navy. And that's just because of his last name.”

“What about Ash? What does he say?”

“He refuses to say who his inside source is. To him it doesn’t matter that his son’s life will be ruined. As long as it means he can sell more books, he doesn’t care.” Junior looked crestfallen. “We have to help him, Commander. We have to clear his name. Please.”

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Steve cringed and Thomas hissed when they first saw the young Petty Officer. His left eye was swollen shut; the right didn’t look much better. He had a large gash above his right eyebrow that was sutured. His right cheekbone was swollen and Steve had a feeling that it might be broken. Clay had a split lip that still oozed blood. His left arm was immobilized in a sling due to a dislocated shoulder. And that was only the injuries they could see. The way the young man carried himself made Steve suspect that he had busted ribs. There was also something wrong with his right leg as he had a noticeable limp. Steve sighed in relief when Clay finally sat down across from them. He then looked at Clay’s hands. It seemed that Clay didn’t go down easily. Not with all those scrapes and bruised knuckles he noticed.

“How are you feeling?” Thomas asked.

“I’m fine, Sir.”

Magnum glared and turned to Steve. “And here I thought I was talking to someone else but it turned out to be a younger you.”

Steve shrugged. He had a feeling Clay Spenser could be on his deathbed and will still insist on being fine.

Junior spoke up. “It stands for Fucked Up, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional.”

“Ah, I see.” Thomas replied. “Then you are at least better than Steve here.”

“Oh no, Magnum, you were right the first time. Clay is just like Steve. Just younger.” Tani spoke up for the first time.

Clay looked chastised and Steve frowned. “Are you saying I’m old, Tani?”

“Not at all.” Tani grinned.

“Good, because I still sign your paycheck each week.”

Tani laughed. “I know, Sir.” She took a seat next to Junior.

“Great, now that we’ve established that Steve is not old, can we focus on the situation.” Danny said where he leaned against the door frame. He had rushed over to Junior’s place when Steve called him. He was not prepared to find a barely living young man and from what Steve had told him, a youngster who was indeed in need of their help. He knew between them and Magnum they would get to the bottom of this mess.

“Yes, Danno.” Steve rolled his eyes at his partner. He grinned when Thomas poked him in the ribs. Steve turned his attention back to Clay.

“Are you guys always this crazy?” Clay looked at the different people gathered around him.

“We’re Ohana.” Steve looked around the room. There was pride in his voice when he stated the fact.

Clay snorted but didn’t comment. He believed he was part of a family and look at what happened to him.

Steve heard the response but didn’t react to it. He understood that the young man felt down in the dumps. “Do you have any idea who would have supplied Ash with that intel?”

Clay shook his head. “It could’ve been anyone. We were two teams; our entire support team went with. There were various intel officers as well. That’s excluding the number of upper brass that and their aides that were also there.”

“From what Junior told us is that you don’t have a good relationship with your dad,” Magnum stated.

“Ash is not my dad. He might be the sperm donor but that’s how far his involvement went in my life.” Bitterness laced Clay’s voice. “But you're right. I don’t have a good relationship with him.” He looked down at his feet. “I tried,” he whispered.

“Clay?” Junior asked. It’s been years since he last heard the younger man so despondent.

Clay lifted his head. “Just before this mission he contacted me. I still don’t know why I answered his call. He told me he was sorry. He told me he wanted to try and mend the fences between us. He asked if we could meet up for drinks.” Clay took a deep breath. “We got spun up earlier and we didn’t go for drinks. After we returned, he extended the invite again. He sounded so sincere and I ended up going.”

Thomas and Steve shared a look.

“What happened?” Junior asked.

“We met. Things started off great. But the more he drank the nastier he got. I ended up leaving before I slugged him. That was the last time I saw him.”

“How did you find out about the new book?” Magnum inquired.

“Weeks later I was at the bar waiting for the team when I saw the interview on the TV. The news anchor didn’t even finish the interview when my phone rang and I got summoned back to the base.”

“They accused you of leaking classified intel to Ash?”

Clay shrugged at Steve’s question. “Not in so many words at that stage. I was asked if I did share the details, I said no. I was told there would be a full investigation into the matter and until such time I am on suspension. I should stay off the base and I should have no contact with my team or with Ash. I was told that NCIS would contact me and I was ordered to give my full cooperation.”

“I tried to contact my team, to tell them it wasn’t me. It didn’t matter to me that I was told not to contact them. I had to tell them.” Clay sounded desperate. “I called Jason, Sonny. Hell, I called them all. Not one of them answered my calls. They had already decided I was guilty.”

“Maybe they were also just following orders?”

“Bravo team is many things, following orders - not so much.” Clay shook his head. “They kicked me off the group chat. I then realized they’ve made up their minds. It hurt but I hoped that NCIS would clear things up.” He snorted.

“What happened?”

“The lead agent came to see me. Showed me photos of me and Ash hugging, drinking, laughing. I tried to explain it was only this one time. He didn’t look convinced. I even went as far and told him how the night ended. He merely shrugged and left.” Clay slowly rose to his feet. He shook his head when Junior tried to help him. “The next day I was called back to base. I was informed that NCIS could find no supporting evidence that I shared the intel with Ash and has closed their investigation on me. However, the internal investigation was still ongoing. And since Ash refused to say who his source is, and because of the incriminating photos of me and Ash, they were extending my suspension. All of my past actions would be reviewed to see if there were any similar incidents. I was then dismissed.” Clay slowly paced the room. He continued talking as he walked.

“As I walked out of the briefing room the door to the team room opened. Jason ordered me in.” Clay swallowed. “They all glared at me. When I tried to speak up, Jason talked over me. He told me I was a disgrace to the team. That I was no better than Ash. That it was clear that I could not be trusted. Not with classified intel and not with their lives.” Clay swallowed hard. “Jason ripped off my Bravo insignia and tossed it on the floor. He told me I had an hour to clear out my cage and get out of their lives. No one else said a word to me. They just stood up and left.” A stray tear rolled down his cheek and he wiped it away.

“When were you attacked?”

Clay made his way back to the chair he vacated earlier and gingerly sat down. “After I cleared my cage I headed to my car. The tires were slashed. It took me close to three hours to sort it out and by the time I reached my apartment, it was dark. They attacked me in the parking lot. I did my best to fight back but eight against one is not favorable odds. I recognized some of the voices. A kick to the head left me unconscious and I only woke up in the hospital hours later.”

“Concussed.” Junior added.

“Not my first one.”

“You still dealing with the effects of that?” Thomas asked, concerned.

“Blurry vision is much less blurry. The headache is only bad when I breathe but the nausea has settled down somewhat.”

“You should still be in hospital, brother.”

“Hospitals are for sick people, I am not sick.”

“Just as stubborn,” Magnum grumbled under his breath.

Steve ignored the comment. “When does the new book get published?”

“I’m unsure.”

“How many missions did you do between that one and when the interview aired?”

“At least six, seven. Why?” Clay wondered.

“Because we need to know what else is in that book,” Steve explained.

“Ash won’t share it. And how will it help?”

“We can cross check what else he has in the book, with who had access to the mission details. And by cross checking we might be able to find a possible suspect,” Thomas answered.

“And how are you planning on getting a copy of the manuscript?”

Thomas grinned. “I’ve got my ways.”

“You can’t steal it.”

Thomas looked shocked at Danny’s statement. “When have I ever stolen anything?”

“Well, there was the time when you stole the Ming Vase from the Chinese Embassy.” Steve grinned.

“I didn’t steal it. I borrowed it.”

“What about the time you took the Faberge egg?” Danny asked.

“Once again, not stolen. I merely relocated it.”

“To Germany,” Steve responded.

“Listen, what can I say? I’m good at my work. I can get a copy of that manuscript.”

“Ash can’t find out. He will know it is me. I won’t put it past him to contact the cops and accuse me of theft,” Clay responded.

“Ash will not know we got a copy, I promise you.” Thomas placed his hand over his heart.

“Thank you.” Clay slowly got to his feet again. He looked at Junior that hovered next to him. “Will it be okay if I laid down for a while?”

“Sure, no problem,” Junior replied. “You okay?”

Clay nodded slowly. “Just tired.”

“Comes from spending over ten hours on an airplane while injured.” Junior gently guided his young brother back to his room where he made sure Clay got comfortable before he turned to leave.

“Junior?”

“Yeah?”

“Thank you.” Clay closed his eyes.

“We’ve got your back here, brother. We will get to the bottom of this. I promise.” Junior pulled the door closed and made his way back to his small living room.

“Is he all right?” Steve asked.

Junior shook his head. “He’s hurting so much and I’m not talking about any physical discomfort he might be experiencing. When he contacted me and told me he got drafted to Bravo I thought he was going to explode. He was ecstatic. To see him like this - I want nothing more than to go over to that base and kick some Bravo team ass.”

“Let’s get to the bottom of this first and then I’ll gladly join you,” Steve replied.

“I’m also in.” Thomas raised his hand. He shrugged when Danny glared at him. “What? He’s a younger brother. He has to be protected.

Danny pointed to Steve and then to Thomas. “You’re supposed to be the sensible one in the relationship.”

“I am.” Thomas nodded. “And it’s the sensible thing to go to the base and kick ass.”

Danny merely stared at him and then smiled. “You’re right. I will go with. Even if it is just to make sure you deck at least each one of those men once.”

“That’s the spirit.” Steve slapped his best friend on the back. “We’ve got to get going. Thomas, you and Blackburn were friendly at one stage? You going to reach out to him?”

“I’m planning to. I also want to contact Robin. I have a feeling he’d get me a copy of that manuscript easily. If he can’t help, I know that Higgy will definitely help.”

“Is she talking to you again?” Danny grinned. In one of Magnum’s last cases the Ferrari ended up with a few bullet holes. To say that Thomas’ business partner was not impressed would be an understatement of the year.

“We’re good.” Thomas rose to his feet. “I’ll touch base later.” He gave Steve a searing kiss and ignored the catcalls from both Danny and Junior and moved out.

After Magnum left, Steve turned to his team. “Did Clay tell NCIS who assaulted him?” He asked Junior.

Junior sighed. “No, he told the agent he didn’t know them.”

“I know they would’ve checked to see if there were any cameras and if the incident was caught on video. Tani, I want you to see if you can find anything.”

“On it, Boss.”

“What are you going to do?” Danny asked Steve.

McGarrett grinned. “Me?” He pointed at his chest. “Well, I’m going to chat with a few SEALs that seem to have forgotten what it is to have your brother’s back.”

Danny groaned. “Please tell me we’re not going over to the mainland and to do it in person?”

“No. Not for this round. I just want a friendly conversation with Master Chief Hayes. But I want to do it at headquarters. Make it a bit more formal.” Steve grinned but his eyes were ice cold. He will find out who Ash Spenser’s mole is and he will make sure Bravo remembers what it is to have your brother’s back.