“To hell with whatever the governor said. This is clearly punishment.”
“Yeah, but for what?”
“Pick just about any case, Cuz.”
“Would you three can it. This is not punishment. It’s an inter-agency -- Hey, they’ve even got some Brits and Canadians-- conference for unorthodox and extremely successful teams in a range of military and law enforcement branches.”
As Steve McGarrett finished speaking, he met the incredulous gazes of his three teammates. Danny Williams, Chin Ho Kelly and Kono Kalakuana exchanged significant looks before Danny asked, “You memorized the information packet, didn’t you?”
Caught, Steve shrugged. “I like to be prepared.”
Danny snorted. “Prepared. Yeah. That’s why you seem to have forgotten a jacket. This is February, my friend. In northern New York, which, unlike Hawaii, has real seasons. Have you somehow missed the fact that this winter has been called the Snowpocalypse?”
Though he’d traveled the world as a SEAL, Steve had never voluntarily spent time in cold, snowy places. Chin and Kono looked equally dubious as they peered out at the mounds of white visible through the hotel windows. There had been a scramble at the airport, where, upon feeling the chill leaking in from the outside, the three Native Hawaiians had rifled through their bags, tugging on layer after layer of clothing.
In a display of chivalry, Danny had offered Kono his North Face Jacket, as he seemed strangely able to deal with the 25F temperature in his sweatshirt. She’d accepted it with a smile of thanks, too cold to bother with bravado.
Steve had been further disgruntled when Danny, Kono and Chin had ganged up on him, insisting that Danny, more accustomed to winter road conditions, drive. On the way to the hotel, they’d stopped at a Wal-Mart and a Dick’s Sporting Goods, where boots, coats, hats, gloves, thermals and all manner of winter clothing had been purchased.
The hotel was an old, sprawling lodge type of place nestled at the base of a mountain. It contained a main building of a lobby, offices, a dining hall and conference rooms, with wings of room branching off from there.
It was in the lobby that Danny posited his punishment theory, looking around at a few of their fellow conference goers, who were lingering by the fire, speaking to staff or simply exploring.
A red suited Mountie seemed to be having a conversation with a big, white dog, chastising the animal for allowing life in the big city to erode his wilderness skills. Beside them, a thin blond guy with an…interesting hairstyle was watching as though this was entirely normal.
By a small display of pamphlets, a slim, African American man was pleading with his three companions. “Please, for the love of God, try to at least pretend to be normal police officers. No performance art or shooting anyone! Stop staring, Wade!”
On one of the couches, a blond man and a dark haired woman seemed to be hunched over a pair of fancy phones, texting rapidly. Occasionally, one of them would tip their screen to the other and exchange words, followed by glances around to see if anyone was listening to them too intently. The words Fargo, Death Ray, Deputy Andy and False Alarm had all been uttered in the last minute.
A large man with a thick English accent seemed to be trying to persuade the hotel staff to have a themed movie night. His suggestion was Bad Boys II.
Crossing the lobby, a tall man in an Eisenhower jacket was speaking to his shorter, younger Latina companion. “Now Duby, think of this as an opportunity to learn cutting edge investigative techniques!”
She seemed less enthusiastic, asking, “What, like how to disinfect an entire hotel hallway like that guy on out floor is doing?”
An exasperated man with dark hair an a moustache was standing by an elevator, looking at the man beside him, who was wearing a helmet, crash padding and a bullet proof vest. Mr. Safety Conscious seemed to be having trouble deciding between the elevator and the stairs.
Okay, so maybe Danny had a point about the punishment. But they hadn’t done anything too extreme lately. At least not anything Governor Jameson knew about.
“Oh come on,” Steve protested. “Maybe they’re not even here for the conference at all. They could just be random vacationers.”
Clearly, that theory wasn’t going to hold water and, with a variety of dubious grumbles and glares (Steve was sure he heard Danny mutter, “Shark Cage.”), the others followed him toward a harried looking desk clerk, whose name tag ID‘d her as Aimee.
“Hello,” she said in a strained voice. “Welcome to Valley Peak Lodge. Checking in?”
“Yeah,” Steve said, giving her the smile that usually melted hearts left and right. It had no noticeable effect on Aimee, so he continued. “We’re here for the conference. 5-0 Task Force. I’m Steve McGarrett.”
Her fingers flew across the keyboard and she nodded. “Four of you? Good. You’ll be in the Evergreen Suite. Here are your keys. Would you like help with your bags?”
“We’re good,” he replied, handing three of the keys back to his team, as the phone on the desk rang, making Aimee twitch. “Thanks.”
She nodded, then answered the phone. “Mr. Monk, I assure you, there is no need for you to steam clean the hall carpet…no, you do not need to call the CDC….”
Leaving her to whatever the hell that was, Steve made his way over to where his team was consulting a floor plan of the hotel.
“Evergreen Suite,” Chin said, then tossed a thumb at the elevators. “Top floor, take a left, end of the hall. Not too hard to find.”
“Might as well drop our stuff off,” Danny said resignedly, though he was keeping a wary eye on a middle aged guy who was flailing his arms wildly as he babbled to another man, the latter slumped in a chair, porcupine hairstyle visible over the cushions. Whatever had hands so riled up clearly didn’t worry his friend too much.
“I want to put on my warm clothes,” Kono said, jabbing her cousin in the ribs to get him moving. Not being stupid, Steve and Danny followed. A cranky Kono meant sore ribs for anyone dumb enough to cross her. Girl had seriously pointy elbows.
Their room was nice, a sitting area and small kitchenette, two doors leading off to bedrooms, each containing 2 queen beds and an attached bathroom. Kono made a beeline for one room, while all three men headed for the other, then paused.
Both Steve and Danny gave Chin Ho a look, but he shrugged. “What, I don’t want to room with her.”
“She’s your cousin,” Steve reasoned. “It’d be less awkward for you two to share.”
“But she snores,” Chin hissed, glancing in the direction of Kono’s room. “I’m a light sleeper.”
“Me too,” Steve said quickly, the grinned when Danny huffed and gave them each a sour look.
“Fine,” he grumbled, changing course for the other room. “Not all of us have to have ideal conditions to catch some sleep. Kono, you cool with sharing?”
“You know it, Brah.” Steve could hear the laughter in Kono’s voice. “No midnight tiptoes!”
Danny’s response was a chuckle. “I’ll try to restrain myself.”
Exchanging amused glances, Steve and Chin carried their bags into the second bedroom. In a low voice, Chin asked, “Think I should mention her habit of sleepwalking?”
Steve snorted. They really should say something.
On the other hand, the results could be funny as hell.
“Nah!” Steve said with a grin.
In addition to the professional benefits of this conference, they were here to relax and have fun.
Chin raised a brow and shrugged. “I’m not sharing a bed with him if he comes in here after she scares the hell out of him. Just saying.”
Steve was pretty sure this was going to be fun.