Ohana Means No One is Left Behind
Familiar brown eyes peeped round the door, a welcome interruption from Steve's solitude. At his welcoming smile Kono slipped through, taking a seat at the chair beside his bed. Curiously, she quirked an eyebrow at the empty bed in the room.
"No Danny?" she queried, "I brought him malasadas."
"Ah, they let him go outside with the kids for a bit. He'll be back soon," he grinned, "I can take care of those."
She shook her head at the glint in his eyes and put the brown paper bag on Danny's nightstand, far out of McGarrett's currently limited reach.
"Hey listen," McGarrett began after they had exchanged the usual pleasantries regarding terrible hospital food and the state of the task force in McGarrett's absence, "I need to ask you something."
"Sure thing boss," Kono replied, her easy tone belying her internal discomfort, "Ask away."
Steve, being Steve, of course asked the one question that she didn't want to answer.
"What happened that day?"
Reflexively, she checked behind her for any sign of Detective Williams.
"Well..." she hesitated, unsure what to say, and not say, and how much the Commander really wanted to know.
"Kono, come on!" the exasperation was clear in Steve's tone, "All I get from Chin is that he's still pulling his report together, Lou just ignores me and Danny..." he flung out a frustrated arm to indicate the empty bed, "Danny goes to ground or to sleep every time I ask."
And wasn't the thought of the usually verbose detective turning stoically silent, one of life's great turnabouts?
"I don't know all of it..." she cautioned, "You're not the only one Danny isn't talking to."
Steve nodded slowly, a frown of concentration on his face.
"But Danny must have radioed in right?" he pointed out, "I mean, he couldn't have got the plane down otherwise right?"
There is a pause for a long moment as Steve's mind is filled with jumbled recollections of Danny in the plane, a gun to his head, begging Steve to stay awake. There's very little that he remembers but he thinks that the look of utter fear in his partner's eyes will haunt him for a long time.
Likewise, Kono cannot speak for a moment over the lump in her throat as she remembers Danny's broken voice spilling out of her earpiece as she raced to Waikiki Beach.
Finally, she pulled herself together.
"He did," she confirmed. "The plane was in... it was in pretty bad shape boss. The fuel tank was hit and Danny lost both engines just off Diamond Head."
Steve's eyebrows knitted and she knew that he was making some quick and dirty calculations in his head.
"He wouldn't have made the Honolulu runway," he quickly surmised, "there's no way he could have coasted it in that far."
Kono couldn't help but grin at this reassuring glimmer of evidence that her boss might be down, but certainly wasn't out.
"Right," she confirmed, "that's what they told him. So he..."
"He what Kono?"
"Well," she drew the word out, trying to choose her words carefully, "he put it down on a beach instead."
"On a..." the realisation, when it came, was incredulous, "he landed on Waikiki Beach?! What the hell was he thinking?!"
His exasperated shout cut too close to the memories of a terrified Danny coming across the radio, and she couldn't stamp down on the sudden flare of anger that rose through her like lava.
"He didn't have a choice," she explained, teeth clenched with the effort of keeping her voice level.
"He should... They should have told him to ditch it in the ocean, Kono! God, he could have killed people...."
Kono shivered involuntarily.
"They did tell him," she admitted quietly, "They told him to ditch in the water."
"Then why the hell didn't he?" McGarrett shouted in irritation, "God, why does Danno always think that he knows better?"
And suddenly Kono couldn't hold in the irrational anger any more.
"Because of you!" her voice rose to meet his in volume, "They told him to ditch it to save himself, but he knew you would have drowned!"
Steve couldn't have looked more startled if she'd slapped him, but she ignored his reaction to scroll rapidly through her phone to connect to the evidence packet that Honolulu Air Traffic Control had sent through, which included a recording of the radio transmissions made that day.
Without warning, Danny's voice, fractured with fear spilled out into the room.
"Ah... Ah...Alright Control that's not gonna work ok? My, my partner he's unconscious, if I put this thing down on the water I'm not gonna be able to get him out of the plane and he's gonna drown."
Steve closed his eyes under an onslaught of memories. Danny begging him to stay awake. The sound of a gun being cocked and Steve powerless to stop it. The weightlessness in his stomach as the plane plunged inexorably towards the ground.
"You don't have a choice Detective."
Steve knew that Danny didn't, but not in the way that ATC thought. For all that they fought about the stupid stuff, they were 'ohana first. And that meant no-one got left behind.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah I got a choice, I'm gonna put this thing down on the beach ok?"
"Detective we strongly advise against that. I understand your concern for your friend, but consider yourself. The best chance of survival is a water landing."
Again they were so wrong. Because although they knew statistics, Steve knew Danny Williams. The odds of his long-term survival, knowing that he'd left Steve alive in a sinking plane, were somewhere close to zero.
"Listen, I'm not gonna put it down in the water. I'm gonna put this thing down on the beach, ok? Clear the beach, I'm coming in."
Finally understanding Steve looked up to meet Kono's tear-filled gaze. Only then did he notice the blond man stood in the door way, face pale, hands shaking uncontrollably.
If he could move, he would turn and run, go back to his kids and their smiles, to share cookies in the hospital canteen. But he can't move, can barely breathe, his body pinned in place even as his mind races back to that fateful day. He has only the dim presence of mind to be grateful that Grace isn't here, before he's overwhelmed by images and feelings that he's spent the past few weeks desperately trying to repress.
He doesn't notice, doesn't act to prevent his boneless slide down the walll, he's been consumed by every agonising detail of the final moments of the little Cessna plane.
He feels the death grip one hand maintains on the plane controls, even as he desperately tries to buckle in Steve with the other. He can hear his own pulse as it thrums relentlessly in his head, a counterpoint to the ragged gasps of the man beside him.
Every breath is tainted with the mixed scent of cordite and jet fuel, an inescapable reminded of just how far to Hell this day has already gone. Sweat trickles down his forehead and into his eyes but even that isn't enough to obscure his view of the deep cerulean Pacific as it surges up towards him.
The coppery metallic tang of blood and fear coats his tongue as he sharply, excruciatingly realises that he might have just condemned his kids to growing up without a father because he has no fucking clue how to put a plane down in an FAA approved area let alone one of the tourist hotspots of Honolulu.
"...ny... " slowly, he becomes dimly aware of a voice frantically trying to cut through his flashback, "....on, buddy...."
Desperately, he shakes his head, trying to clear it of the images that haunt him. Small, gentle hands catch his, stilling his movement and he returns the grasp with an iron grip of his own as he attempts to pull himself back to reality.
"Is he ok... ? Kono! Is Danno alright?"
And for a moment, Steve sounds so much like his friend, his brother, rather than the sarcastic, military persona that has become so much more prevalent recently, that Danny can't hold back the sob that tears its way out of his throat.
He looks up to see McGarrett standing on unsteady legs, a look of unmitigated concern on his face. Doing his best to wrestle his emotions under control Danny waved Steve down with a weary sigh.
"I'm alright you big goof... now sit down because poor Kono here can't catch both of us."
Kono lets out a bark of surprised laughter at this before slowly helping her colleague first to his feet, then to his bed with a gentle, sisterly kiss on the cheek that he acknowledges with a squeeze of her hand and an apology that he forestalls before she can even get the words out.
"He was going to find out sooner or later Rookie," he reassures her, "and I was going to have to listen to it sooner or later. Better here than in court."
She ducks her head both repentance and acceptance of the truth of his words.
"Besides," he continues with something that almost resembles his normal grin, "You brought malasadas, so in my eyes you can do no wrong."
She laughs again then, leaning in to give him another hug, before standing, somewhat uncertainly. The atmosphere in the room has changed, its charged in its intensity and although she feels somewhat like she's lobbed a grenade and is now running without a backward glance, years of Danny/Steve subtext reading are telling her that her two colleagues want to talk. Sensing her uncertainty, Steve gives her an out.
"Hey Kono, I heard there's meant to be great surf up on the North Shore tonight, you'd better hit the road if you want to catch those waves."
She smiles gratefully before leaning in for a quick hug. Quickly regaining her equilibrium she flashes a quick shaka before heading out of the door.
Her departure plunges the room into a silent void that neither man seems willing to broach. Finally, painfully, it is Steve that does so.
"You shouldn't have done that..." he begins, tentatively.
Danny sighs, burying his face in his hands.
"I know, alright, I know... I could have killed a lot of people. Do you think I haven't realised that Steve?" as quickly as it appeared, the anger retreats leaving the Detective looking impossibly vulnerable.
"I don't mean that!" Steve's voice is sharp, "I don't care about the people on the beach, Danny! But you've got two kids - you can't leave them without a Dad for me, they're your family."
Flashing cobalt eyes rise to meet his.
"Don't you get it you big ingrate? You're my family, my 'ohana too!" he drags his hand through his already mussed hair trying to choose the right words to make his point, "My kids call you Uncle Steve... and ok, maybe I haven't said it enough recently, but you're my partner, my best friend, I love you and there's no damn way I was leaving you in that damn plane, alright? There's some things a man can't live with..." he pauses, chokes on a sob, "and I wasn't going to... I can't lose another brother, Steve."
There's another long silence.
"Mahalo, kaikua'ana," the words are soft, heartfelt and accompanied by an outstretched hand that is met half way in the space between the two beds.
The quality of the silence changes, it is no longer oppressive, but companiable
"And hey, if you ever need a kidney or whatever...?"
"Already top of my list McGarrett. Wanna watch the game?"
"Sounds good buddy."