lovely_ambition: (happy seals are good ones: by nuv0le_rap)
[personal profile] lovely_ambition


Since Five-0 began two years ago, they had never exactly been calm, but the task force wasn’t usually filled with the insanity that Steve was dealing with today. It wasn’t all work, even, but between correspondences from HPD, new tasks, finishing missions, and his father saying he had something to show him, work was definitely in the mix. It just didn’t help that suddenly his personal life was flooded with activity, either.

“Steve!” Danny sharply said, prying him from his thoughts. “Are you going to Grace’s interview or am I?”

“Why would the teacher want to see me?” Steve asked as he pulled a face.

“Gee, I don’t know, you’ve been a pretty important fixture in her life for the last eight years of it,” Danny said sarcastically. “Why would Grace’s third grade teacher want to see you?”

“It’s about English, Danny. You help her with her English homework,” Steve protested.

“Do you just not want to go?” Danny asked. He was perched on the edge of Steve’s desk and was opening the daily mail for Five-0. “I’ll go if you’re suddenly having performance anxiety issues.”

Steve made another face, much different than the one before, but no less displeased. Danny always said that his face was made of putty when he wanted it to be. “I am not having...” He swatted at Danny’s ass. “Go make sure Meka and Chin have that paperwork finished on that drug-bust.”

“Yessir,” Danny said, saluting Steve and heading off.

Beyond the normal work, the Governor was on Steve’s case to get Kono Kalakaua sworn in as soon as he could. She had just graduated from the Academy and was waiting in the lobby for her interview. Steve waved her in as he put aside some reports of gun-running and slid the newspaper under a pile of papers so he wouldn’t have to stare at the seemingly-accusatory main page’s news.

Today’s news was eager to report that civil unions were now legal in Hawaii. That was on the heels of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell being repealed and suddenly, Steve’s head was spinning with all the possibilities that had opened up before him.

He put those thoughts aside, too, the moment Kono opened the door that separated his office from the calamity outside (where Danny and Meka were getting into an argument about something about the paperwork, as usual). “Lieutenant, thank you for meeting with me,” Kono said with a bright grin.

“Since when am I Lieutenant to you?” Steve asked dubiously, pushing away from the desk so he could wrap her up in a tight hug. “It’s Steve. It’s always been Steve. Come on in and have a seat. This is really only a formality, since it’s been decided you’re on the team, but for HR reasons, we need to have this interview.”

If Steve was glowing at the goodness of his life of late, then Kono was practically a supernova.

“Interview away, boss,” Kono said.

Steve wished that Danny hadn’t managed to establish that nickname so firmly, but in the two and a half years since Five-0 had been created, several things were entrenched in their culture: Steve often did things in ways that were less than strictly sane, Danny was Head of Paperwork, and Steve McGarrett was to be called ‘boss’. There were other things in there, like how Steve always got to drive Danny’s car, but for some reason, Danny didn’t like sharing that around.

They wound up chatting casually for about an hour. Steve asked some of the questions on the interview guide, but it was more friends talking than anything else and, by the end, they’d wound their way to personal matters.

“So,” Kono said with a gleeful expression on her face that Steve found extremely dangerous. Rightly so, because when she continued, the first words out of her mouth were, “I saw today’s paper.”

“Why do they print that stuff?” Steve mumbled his complaint.

“So? Are you going to ask?”

“Am I going to ask what?” Steve responded, choosing to be deliberately obnoxious.

“Come on, you and Danny have been together for years. You started dating before I even graduated high school. You proposing is just a formality, but I won’t lie,” Kono said, holding up her hand in the air like he was about to swear her in. “I’d love to have a reason to buy a sexy new dress and put my dancing shoes on.”

“How about we get you set up on payroll and you can grill Danny about this?” Steve suggested.

“He’s gonna ask?”

“No, no one is asking, Kono,” Steve said with a suppressed sigh. “Look, just drop it. We’re really busy right now and we could use all hands on deck. Chin’s working on a case that I’d like to place you on. It’ll be a good way to introduce you to the kind of work we do here while getting fresh eyes on the case. We just wrapped up a drug bust and now there’s an old player rearing his head again. His name’s Doran and he’s got some pretty serious attachments to some very nasty guys. I want you on that.”

With Kono, Chin, and Meka working on the Doran investigation and Danny making sure everything was in order with the papers (and staying busy by acting as Steve’s partner in more than just their personal lives), Steve had time to go out and grab lunch at the shrimp truck with his father.

“Danny,” Steve said, popping into his office in order to bend down and press a lingering kiss to his lips, really taking his time. “Hey, we’ll both go to the conference,” he murmured, not bothering to go very far, seeing as one kiss from Danny never really did the trick. He leaned in to claim another, then one more, and he intended to go for a third if not for Danny stopping him with an effusive laugh. “What?” Steve asked defensively.

“You really think I wanna hear your Dad complaining when you’re late to lunch because you couldn’t keep your hands off me? Think again, Superman. Go have lunch with your Dad and find out what the hell has been keeping him at the office for the kinds of hours he’s putting in,” Danny said. An order was an order, and Steve was good at following them, especially when they came from Danny.

He performed a perfect salute on his way out, calling out his destination to the team and his estimated time of return (mostly so he could listen to how Danny groaned when Steve used that kind of technical language).

John was already waiting when Steve arrived to the Ohana shrimp truck, but there wasn’t any food in front of him. Instead, John was sitting at a picnic table holding several photographs in his hand tightly and possessively, like he was ready to fight just to hold onto them.

“Okay, I’m here,” Steve said, straddling the picnic bench. “I’ve got an hour before I need to be at Grace’s school. What’s going on?”

“I’m ready to show you something, Steve.” John looked at the photographs in his hand and his face was momentarily overcome by a wary expression. It seemed like, just then, he was having second thoughts about telling Steve anything at all. “This is what I’ve spent so long working on.”

Steve could feel the familiar pit in his stomach make a return. No matter how good things went in his life, all you had to do in order to make Steve feel young and helpless was bring back the subject of his mother’s murder and his father’s descent into his paranoid (or maybe it was deserved) investigation.

“Dad, what are these?” Steve asked warily when he was handed the photographs.

At first glance, none of it made any sense. There were photos of keys, postcards, and an array of seemingly frivolous pieces of memorabilia. It looked like someone opened up a photo box and dumped out the contents.

It looked unimportant.

Steve had been expecting so much more than this, especially if this was the result of years of his father’s indifference towards him and Mary in the name of justice. He felt like he was being screwed around. He felt like if this was what Steve’s life had been upended for, then he was owed so much more than just apology.

“Dad,” Steve said, practically growling out the warning.

“This is my investigation. It goes deep, Steve. I think it goes all the way to the top of the Yakuza, but I can’t be sure. I do know that I connected the Hesse brothers to a man named Wo Fat, but I don’t know who Wo Fat is or what he’s done. It’s as though he’s a ghost,” John said. “I’m stuck, Steve. I need help.”

“It’s been eighteen years,” Steve said, forcing himself to use a polite tone rather than the strained and incredulous one he wanted to haul out. “Dad, eighteen years. This all started when I was sixteen and I have a daughter half that age now,” he said. “You want my help now?”

“Steven,” John pleaded.

“I’m not saying I won’t help you,” Steve said, feeling his jaw tense up so badly that he could hear it start to click. “But I really wish that you’d asked me this years ago. Do you have any idea what it’s been like to watch from the outside while you pursue this? Dad, Danny thinks you’re a paranoid nut. The most important person in my life thinks his almost-father-in-law is crazy. Do you know how much that bugs me?”

John remained silent, as if he knew he had no recourse.

Steve sighed and spread the pictures out over the picnic table, trying to look for clues that his father might have missed. Chin Ho wasn’t wrong in saying that the McGarrett family trait was laser focus and he thought that whatever he might find, his father would have already seen. “You need fresh eyes,” he said, when he couldn’t seem to find any connection. “You need my team.”

“Steve, I barely wanted to bring you into this,” John warned.

“What am I going to find that you didn’t, Dad?” Steve asked, getting slightly desperate in his frustration. “At least let me bring it to my team. They’re good, Dad, they can help.”

John paused, and for an endless moment, Steve felt like he’d lost this argument. He sometimes felt like he shouldn’t even bother because he lost every argument he ever had with his father. Then, like a miracle, John nodded. It was just one movement, one small movement, but it was acceptance.

“Yes?” Steve asked warily.

“Brief Danny, at least, let’s see what he has to say about involving the team in this,” John finally assented.

Steve exhaled slowly, closing his eyes as the tension seemed to bleed away from his shoulders. The only problem was that the day was out to get Steve, so of course the moment that his relief washed over him, the tension was secretly on the next wave, ready for attack.

“I saw today’s news,” John said, raising a brow slowly. “I was expecting a phone call, but I’ve yet to hear anything from Danny or you. Does this mean that you haven’t asked?”

Dad!” Steve protested, his brow knit in frustration. “Maybe neither of us wants that!”

“Steven, I know for a fact Danny wants stability and a civil union would only protect your rights when it comes to Grace,” John said. “Try again.”

“Well, maybe I want people to stop bugging me about it. It just got reported today. Even if I have been planning this for a while, it’s not like I’m going to go down on one knee instantly. For one thing, it’s not evening yet, and the reservations I made aren’t until six.”

“So you have a reservation?” John clarified, a proud smile sneaking its way onto his face.

Steve gave a sheepish shrug, casting a glance down at his hands in his lap. He felt strange – a chill sneaking down his spine – and almost like he was being watched. He supposed intense scrutiny would do that to you. Still, he cast a look over his shoulder before turning his attention back to John. “I have reservations for the place we went to when I decided to stay. And I got him a ring with an engraving, but if he wants to change it, I won’t really mind.”

“What does it say?”

Steve shifted so he could dig out the small velvet pouch from his front pocket. Since he bought the rings six months ago, he didn’t go anywhere without them and always kept them on his person. Both Danny and Grace were too nosy to keep them around the house and Steve didn’t even want to think about the endless taunting he’d get if Matt was the one to find them.

He’d had three words engraved on the inside of the ring intended for Danny, the sunlight glinting off the smooth edges.

‘I know you’,” John read aloud. He nodded and Steve felt good to at least have that kind of approval. “Simple. Nice. Good choice, Steve.”

“I can’t believe how anxious I am. I mean, we live together, we have for ages. He has no reason to say no, but that’s the possibility my mind focuses on. All I can think about when I think of proposing is that he’ll watch me get down on one knee and then reject me.” Steve pocketed the rings again, swallowing past the seemingly enormous lump in his throat. “It’s Danny. I’ve known him for eight years, I know what his answer will be and even the crazy gestures he’ll make when he replies. Except all that is small inside my head and the fear is so big. Did you feel like that when you asked Mom?”

“Your mother was so far out of my league, Steve, I still don’t know why she said yes,” John said with a fond smile. “I guess because, in the end, she loved me.”

“And you were nervous?”

“I dropped the ring,” John admitted. “My palms were sweating so badly that I dropped the ring in the sand. It took us ten minutes to locate it and she was finding granules for an hour after I slid it onto her finger. The important thing was that she said yes. We were happy, Steve, all of us were. Once upon a time...” He seemed to be drifting, but caught himself before he got too far. “I’m glad you’re getting to experience that feeling with Danny, even if I didn’t really expect this to be more than a high school phase...”

“Well, it has been eight years,” Steve said, amused. “If it is a phase, it’s a pretty long one.” He was checking his watch compulsively, looking at the photographs and trying to figure out what his first move was. “I’ll show these to Danny,” he promised. “But I have to get moving, we have a parent-teacher interview at two.”

“Is everything okay?” John asked and Steve had to pause to admire the strangeness of the situation. Years ago, Steve had been bowled over to realize he’d practically inherited a daughter. He couldn’t begin to imagine what John felt like, having Grace in his life and fulfilling the role of granddaughter so unexpectedly.

Steve forced a hopeful smile. “I think so. Danny says it’s just routine parent-teacher conference stuff, and that if I’d ever attended one before this, I’d know. He’s touchy,” Steve said.

“I’d never know,” John deadpanned. “So this is your first conference.”

“I think if I don’t go to this one, Danny might kick me out of the house for a while,” Steve admitted, collecting his things and making sure the photographs were tucked safely away in the document-folder he was carrying around. “I’ll talk to him tomorrow about this stuff, okay? I just want to get through tonight focused on one thing and one thing alone.”

“Steve, you’ll be fine,” John promised, clasping his shoulder and squeezing it firmly.

Steve let out an anxious laugh as he shook his head. “You say that and I know it, but getting the irrational part of me to believe it is the tricky part.” He stood swiftly, papers under his arm, and an anxious look on his face. “Wish me luck.”

“Call me when he says yes,” John said, clearly unwilling to play into any of the theatrics that Steve’s nerves were perpetrating.

Though they’d made great progress in advancing their relationship beyond the awkward space it had once existed in, he’d yet to achieve the kind of relationship with his father where he hugged him to say goodbye or said things like, ‘I love you’. Instead, he nodded and headed off.

Steve’s thoughts were stuck on the photographs the whole of the drive to Grace’s school, but the minute he parked the truck and joined Danny in the foyer, everything else melted away as he gave Grace his full attention.

Most of it, anyway.

“I already checked your schedule, but just in case, clear tonight,” Steve advised as he stood at attention in the third grade classroom. You could try to convince him that he didn’t need to present himself in that manner, but he’d never heard a complaint about going overboard. “I made reservations for six.”

“Is this a good-news dinner or a bad-news dinner?” Danny asked warily. “What did you do with our suspects, Steve?”

“Nothing!”

It was possible that Steve had used nice dinners before as a sort of ‘forgive me?’ tactic with Danny, when he’d committed some of his more offensively-aggressive crimes against their suspects. Still, he didn’t think he’d done it enough to warrant a reputation.

“I just want to have dinner,” Steve said with a scowl, his posture straightening even more. “Is that a crime?”

“No,” Danny said, but he still sounded suspicious. “What should I wear?”

“Honestly, Danno, whatever you want. I mean, I’d prefer you go naked all the time...”

Steve received a sharp elbow in his stomach for the remark.

“Ow,” Steve said, tensing his jaw.

“We are surrounded by children, their parents, and Grace’s teacher,” Danny hissed, sliding his arm into the space between Steve’s arm and chest, holding on idly. “Save that filthy mind of yours for private.” Steve wanted to comment on Danny’s sudden bout of touching, but he was probably doing it to be competitive with the other parents in the classroom – sharing their distracted kisses and small touches.

Danny Williams never did play well with being outdone.

“Mr. McGarrett? Mr. Williams?” Ms. Iona summoned.

“That’s us,” Steve said with an eager lift of his brow.

Danny pulled him over to the tiny children’s desk, kneeling down to squeeze himself into the little chairs. Steve wasn’t going to have near that kind of luck, and didn’t even bother to try. For all of Steve’s fears that something would be wrong (or that maybe Grace’s teacher would have multiple comments to make regarding her home situation), there was nothing but praise. Grace was an advanced reader, eager to share and make contributions, and had volunteered immediately to be the first-aid marshal of the class.

“Usually, it’s a teacher,” Ms. Iona explained with a soft laugh. “But she was so insistent because her Danno was a cop and her Dad was a Navy-man. She felt it was her duty.”

Steve beamed with absolute pride and a glance at Danny showed his expression wasn’t much different. The interview went easily after that. They discussed areas of opportunity as well as the possibility of putting Grace into some advanced classes to challenge her. Danny seemed to take it all in stride (this wasn’t his first rodeo), but this was new territory for Steve, and he loved every minute of it.

By the time they left, Steve was practically radiating with giddy glee.

“Did you hear that? Advanced classes!” he said, trying to hush his words, as though worried that another set of parents would overhear and grow jealous.

Danny wrapped an arm around Steve’s waist and patted him twice on the hip. “I heard, babe, I heard,” he teased gently. “I’ve been hearing that since she got into elementary school. It’s usually math and English that she gets advanced in. Which, hey, is great news. At this rate, you can be bugging her about her AP classes by the time she’s sixteen.”

That implication carried so many things in it that Steve liked. The best, being, of course, that he would be around for those AP classes. The velvet pouch pressed against his hip, reminding Steve that he still had several hours before he could make that hope a certainty.

“Not you, huh?”

“Well,” Danny drawled out the word. “What can I say? I prefer to be the one of us who makes sure boys run scared of Grace’s two Dads.”

“You?” Steve asked, stopping on the top of the school steps. “You want to be the scary Dad? Danno, I have guns...”

“Yes...?”

“And I was in the Navy and I was a SEAL. I’ve been on enough covert missions that my classification level is higher than anyone else on this island, outside of staff on the naval base. And did I mention I have the guns? And the knives!”

“Okay, okay, Steven, calm yourself,” Danny instructed, winding their fingers together and pulling him down the stairs. “You can scare away all the big scary teenagers that’ll pant after Grace.”

Steve beamed with victory at the solidification of his role in their lives. He just wished he could make it even more solid by having Danny and Grace take his name (or he’d take theirs, he wasn’t picky), but he had to move one step at a time. He dug out the keys to the truck and clasped them tightly in hand. “Six o’clock, Danny. Meet me at our restaurant.”

“Our romantic restaurant or your apology restaurant?” Danny asked warily.

“The rom...of course the romantic one,” Steve sputtered, levelling Danny with a dubious look. “Danny,” he accused. “You’re making this very difficult.”

“Who the hell do you think you’re involved with?” Danny asked, leaning in to press a chaste kiss to Steve’s lips before he headed off in the opposite direction to the Camaro.

Steve checked his watch. He had three hours to prepare himself for the biggest question of his life, not to mention finding a suitable piece of attire so that Danny would approve (he had the feeling khakis weren’t going to cut it) and he had arrangements to make in the hopeful event that Danny said yes. Danny had never been a flowers-and-chocolate kind of guy, but Steve doubted he’d say no to some champagne and maybe a new silk tie.

He set his mind to preparations, keeping an eye on the time. By five, he had things set up in the closet for celebration, and by five-thirty, he was dressed in a black suit and crisp white shirt that was open at the neck.

He was also jittery.

Grace, who had been playing outside, was now standing outside the bedroom door. “Dad,” she said warily, “how come you’re talking to yourself?”

“I’m trying to psych myself up,” he said, staring at his reflection in the mirror. “So I won’t be nervous.”

“It’s just dinner with Danno,” Grace said with a roll of her eyes. “Daddy, you’re silly sometimes.”

“Yeah, I’m something, all right,” Steve exhaled when Grace wandered off to turn her attention to something more important (Hannah Montana or some other trend that Steve could barely keep track of before it was over). He took one last look in the mirror as he grabbed hold of his wallet and gave himself a last check. “You know him,” he told his reflection. “You know Danny. It’s going to be fine. Loud, probably, but fine.”

That was the mantra he kept repeating all the way to the restaurant, grateful that he’d asked Danny to meet him there. Steve had the feeling that if they’d met up at the house, Steve’s resolve would have crumbled and he’d ask Danny the big question while they were half-naked in the bedroom.

It wouldn’t have been the worst proposal the world had ever seen, but it was far from the way Steve wanted to ask.

As it was, he doubted he’d make it very far into dinner before the question made it past his lips thanks to severe impatience. He occupied himself with the repetition of ‘you know him’ quietly on his lips all the way up until he sat down at the little table overlooking the water.

Steve had made sure to arrange for a small private room, glass walls built from floor to ceiling to preserve the ocean views. The table sat just outside of view from the public seating area of the restaurant. Neither Danny nor Steve were fond of public displays of affection, and Steve didn’t enjoy the idea of a whole restaurant staring at them while he did this.

It was a good thing that they were off in private, because when Danny arrived, Steve needed a moment to try and calm his body’s reaction. Danny was wearing a three-piece grey suit and a sleek red tie under the vest. He’d let his hair remain somewhat unstyled, not fully slicked back, but left somewhat looser. It made him look young and more attractive than ever.

Steve was on his feet instantly to pull out Danny’s chair for him, pressing a hand to his back out of a simple need to touch him. He swallowed back a lump in his throat, body practically jittering with anticipation. He’d ordered a good red wine, bread had been delivered to the table, and Steve just wanted to do it.

Danny looked so damn good that if he didn’t get the words out soon, Steve’s body might take over and convince Steve that it was better to have sex in the bathroom before asking Danny to spend their lives together officially - which wasn’t very romantic as far as proposals went.

“What?” Danny joked with a smirk as he folded the napkin over his lap. “Am I on the menu or something? You keep staring.”

“You keep looking good,” Steve said, giving Danny a lingering look, a pleased sound caught low in his throat, superseded by a growl. “God, Danny, you look...”

“Goes both ways.” Danny slid his fingers up the stem of the wine glass, looking over Steve with a slow and obvious onceover. “Seriously, you look... amazing, Steven. I appreciate all the time you put in at the gym and getting those tattoos if this is the result.”

Steve lit up with a grin, bracing his hands on the table in order to lean up and over, darting in to steal a kiss from Danny.

“Danny, listen, there’s something that I wanted to talk about,” Steve said, not quite sitting back down again. Their orders weren’t even in, but they had wine, the sun was going down in the sky, and the mood felt right. They were already solid and Steve didn’t see why he had to wait any longer.

Danny arched his brow. “Yeah?”

“First, and foremost, I want to thank you for taking me in when I wanted to give this a try. You didn’t have to do that. You could have just kicked me to the curb,” Steve admitted, shifting to dig out the velvet pouch from his front pocket. He skirted his way around the table and crouched down until he was bended on one knee in front of Danny.

That was also the moment his phone started to buzz.

“Danny,” Steve said, ignoring the call. “Danny, you’ve been everything in my life. You and Grace showed me that there’s more than just work and that protecting places and people means more when you’re doing it for someone.”

His phone went to message and moments later, it started to buzz again as Steve dug out the ring and clasped it between his fingers. He took a moment to pause and look at Danny, really look at him. He soaked in that look of giddy anticipation and smug glee on Danny’s face, wanting to rush through the rest of his speech to get the ring on Danny’s finger and straddle him, kissing him until Danny was begging to breathe.

Steve lifted the ring just that much higher. “Danny Williams, will you do me the...” He paused when his phone started to vibrate for the third time. Everyone Steve knew was aware of the importance of the evening, so who was calling? “Danny, will you...” He grimaced. “Sorry, it’s my phone,” he explained, when he kept fumbling.

“Seriously? You can’t turn your phone off during a proposal?” Danny teases, but he’s grinning and his eyes are on the ring. “Answer it. I’m sure it’ll be nothing.”

Steve dug out the phone, frowning when the caller display ID’ed the call as ‘DAD’. His father knew the plan for the evening, why would he be calling, and why the hell would he keep calling with such desperation?

Steve shifted, still on one knee, and pressed the phone to his ear.

“Dad, what the hell is going on?”

“Is that any way to talk to your father, McGarrett?”

Instantly, Steve’s blood ran cold. He shoved the ring back in his pocket, reaching out to latch his hand desperately onto Danny’s wrist, trying to find some kind of lifeline as the panic set in. It had been years since even the faintest rumor of the Hesse brothers reached the islands, what were they doing there now?

Steve mouthed ‘Call Chin, HPD’ to Danny, his eyes wide with panic. “What are you doing at my father’s house, Victor? What is this?”

“It couldn’t be enough to call this revenge for Anton?”

“Your brother is still alive,” Steve spat out, finally pushing off his knee. He began to pace around the small area of the restaurant, watching Danny worriedly as he started to make his own phone calls, mobilizing as many people as possible. “I know that much. What do you want?”

“It’s not about what I want,” Victor said snidely. “It’s about the people I work for. John McGarrett has been poking his nose where it doesn’t belong.” Steve closed his eyes, running a hand through his hair and trying to will his imagination to stop thinking of things like the gun pointed at his father, or how much time he had to negotiate anything. “This is a message. You’re just lucky that you were busy with Daniel. It was going to be you. How is he? Do say hello,” Victor said. Steve could practically hear the smirk over the phone.

It made him want to punch through walls.

“Don’t even say his name,” Steve warned. Danny started to send back signals: Chin is on his way, with backup.

“Has he said yes? That was a very pretty ring you had,” Anton piped up for the first time all conversation.

Steve’s blood was boiling; he stalked across the restaurant to grab hold of Danny by the wrist, pulling him in protectively closer as though there was a shooter outside (with the Hesse boys, you could never be too sure) and he wanted to keep him close. “You were watching me today, by the shrimp truck.”

“Such a smart boy, Steve,” Victor said, clucking his tongue. “A shame we’re going to have to take your father away from you before your big day with Danny.”

Danny looked up at Steve, mouthing Chin’s almost there and sliding a hand over Steve’s neck, twining his fingers with Steve’s hair tightly as he could while Steve held it together.

Chin would get there soon with Meka and Kono to back him up, and the whole of HPD was on their way. In moments, his father’s house would be crawling with the good guys and no matter how good Anton and Victor Hesse were, no matter how many henchmen they’d brought, there was no escaping that.

Steve just had to buy them a little more time.

“Why? What was he getting close to?” Steve spat out, trying to keep his anger under control.

“I think you’ve got the photographs to explain well enough. Steven, I want you to say goodbye to your father. Have you told him you loved him, recently? You know,” Victor said, clipped, “I don’t think you say it enough.”

“Hesse!” Steve said in a panic. “Hesse! Victor, don’t do this.”

“You know, when I took this job, I did it because you nearly killed my brother,” Victor said, “but I never really stopped to think how much I’d enjoy hearing you beg for your father’s life.”

“I can make some kind of deal, I can get you off the island,” Steve said, his words rapid. Every second counted. If he could stretch them out, he had a better chance of seeing his father through this ordeal. “I have the Governor at my disposal.”

“Steve,” Victor chastised. “It’s not about that. Say goodbye to your father,” he said.

The line crackled and then there was a hush. He could hear heavy breaths on the other end and Steve turned in turmoil on the spot, grabbing at Danny’s hand tighter as a reminder that even though he felt isolated in his helplessness, he had people and he had to have faith in them. The breathing on the line turned to sounds of helplessness and pain.

“Dad?” Steve finally spoke, his breath hitching. “Dad, it’s me, it’s Steve. Danny’s here with me, we’re okay, we’re safe. Just hang tight, Dad, okay? Help is on the way.”

Danny shifted his hand, gripping at Steve’s as he turned it over and held it steady to quell any tremors of adrenaline pushing through him.

“I love you, Champ,” John said, his voice hoarse.

Steve wondered how long Victor and Anton had been at the house – wondered what kind of shape his father was in – and hated that he was all the way downtown at a restaurant, unable to help. He wanted to be there more than anything, to shoot the bastards that put his family through this twice.

“Dad, don’t,” Steve begged, not wanting to give in to hopelessness, but knowing that he would regret it forever if this was...

No, he refused to even think the words.

“Dad, I love you, but you’re going to be okay.”

Steve’s senses sharpened when he heard the sound of a gun making contact with skin and bone. He hadn’t brought any weapons to dinner with him, but instinctively his hand went to where he usually kept his holster, as though instinct prevailed over sense. “Time’s up, Steve,” Victor said, taking back control of the phone.

Steve couldn’t breathe. He sucked in air, but still felt like he was drowning.

He heard two sounds simultaneously – hope and despair at once.

He heard a gunshot and he heard Chin’s voice distantly over the line shouting, ‘Hands in the air, Five-0!’ Steve couldn’t tell which came first, couldn’t tell if Chin got there in time or if he was too late. The sounds could have been at least thirty seconds apart, for all Steve knew, but he was so distressed that his sense of the situation was warped beyond belief.

Steve’s eyes went wide with panic when he turned to Danny, a broken sound stuck in his throat. He tried to get it out, but he couldn’t manage. All he could do was stare at Danny, who pried the phone forcibly from Steve’s hands.

“Hesse!” Danny spat out furiously. “Victor Hesse, you are a goddamn dead man. I hope you know the hell you just condemned you and your brother to. I will hunt you down and I will make you suffer ten times over for anything you’ve done to John McGarrett. I swear, I swear to god,” Danny repeated, his anger weakening for a moment as sheer weariness took over for just a moment. “I swear to god, you’re gonna wish you were never born.”

Steve closed his eyes tightly, gripping the table to help keep him upright.

“Danny,” he croaked out, numbness starting to overtake all his senses. “Danny...”

He looked up to seek out Danny as an anchor, instead finding Danny looking at him with a strange expression on his face. Danny looked almost ... happy.

“Steve, c’mere,” Danny said hurriedly, holding out the phone. “It’s Chin, Steve, take the phone!”

Steve reached out tentatively and took the phone in hand, not sure what was about to happen. He’d been with Five-0 long enough to issue several death notifications and if it had to come from someone, at least it was coming from family. “Chin?” Steve asked when he’d swallowed back another wave of overwhelming grief.

“Steve, I need you to take a couple deep breaths for me,” Chin said, his instructions calm and patient. “Listen to me. Your Dad has been shot, but he’s still breathing. We came in just as Hesse was lining up the shot. It looks like John took a hit to the spleen. The ambulance is on the way.”

Steve fought through waves of relief and panic. “Victor? Anton?”

“They’ve been placed under arrest. They tried to run and, well, let’s just say that I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of either Kono’s roundhouse kick or Meka’s elbow.”

Steve took a deep breath and relaxed, his posture loosening as he pressed his elbow to the table and leaned his face onto his hand. “Chin, thank you,” he breathed out. “We’ll meet you at the hospital. Good work. Good work on all of this.” His fingers shook as he hung up, feeling like he was extinguishing a line of contact between him and his father.

He turned to Danny and let out a laugh that was wracked with pain and relief, all at once.

“Babe?” Danny said softly. “Come on, we gotta get to the hospital,” he said, reaching forward to grasp at Steve’s shoulders (his touch lingering), trying to lift him to his feet. He took a moment to pull Steve in flush against his body, tipping his face upwards to press a kiss to Steve’s lips, hand possessive on the small of his back. “It’s gonna be okay, c’mon, breathe,” he coaxed.

Steve leaned heavy into Danny’s weight and let himself be supported out of the restaurant, ignoring the strange looks they received from the other diners once they got into a more public area.

Danny manoeuvred Steve forcibly away from the truck. “Nuh uh, no way, I’m driving,” he said, opening the passenger door of the Camaro for Steve, looking at him expectantly. “Get in.” He practically manhandled Steve into the car, buckling him up, and leaning down to get in his face for one more kiss. “Hey, Steven,” he breathed out.

“What?” Steve asked, running his hand over the seatbelt as he stared up at Danny, whose eyes seemed bluer than ever.

Danny braced his arm on the roof of the car, still leaning inside the Camaro. Even though he smiled, it didn’t exactly reach his eyes; but Steve couldn’t blame him after the last hour. “That was the worst proposal in history. Seriously. I think we should call up Guinness Records when we’re done getting your Dad some get-well flowers, because that? That was bad, babe. That was so bad.”

It was exactly what Steve needed. He couldn’t help his laugh and he could feel his tension slowly breaking apart and flooding away.

“Danny, please, can we just get to the hospital?” Steve asked tiredly. “You can rant on the way, just the way you like.”

“Yeah,” Danny said, rounding the car before sliding into the driver’s seat. He took one last wary look at Steve before getting the car going. “What do you want me to start with? Pineapples, coconuts, or your insane and reckless disregard for your own personal safety?”

With Danny speeding through the streets of Waikiki twenty miles above the speed-limit, sirens on, and a rant about pineapple upside-down cake filling the car, Steve knew that even if he didn’t know what was going to happen a week, a day, or an hour from then, at least he had this.




Three Weeks Later


Steve checked his watch before shielding his gaze from the sun, watching the approach to the little patio-bar. He was sitting in the new rest aurant beside Iolani Palace, waiting for Nick to arrive from whatever classified location he’d flown in from. Nick wouldn’t say much about why he was visiting, but he’d mentioned that he needed to talk to Steve.

Steve’s phone sat on the table, and every few minutes Steve checked it warily. His father was in for his tenth surgery since the shooting. It wasn’t set in stone, but the doctors seemed to think that after this one, John might be able to go home and recuperate from there.

Grace had already forced Danny and Steve to take her over to John’s house so she could start ‘preparing’ his bedroom for optimum healing. Steve might have to apologize heavily to his father, rather than remove the obscene number of stuffed animals dressed up as nurses and doctors from John’s room, because he didn’t want to break Grace’s heart.

Mary was scheduled to land in Honolulu in a week’s time and Steve felt cautiously optimistic. He knew they weren’t out of the woods yet, but everyone seemed to think that John was going to be just fine.

Steve rose to his feet when he saw Nick arriving, setting aside his glass of water. It’d been too long since Steve last saw any of the people he’d served with, and having Nick here was a relief. It was like confirmation that he hadn’t lost a part of his life just because he left it behind. “Bullfrog, hey man,” Steve greeted, extending a hand.

Nick ignored that and pulled him in close for a hug, clapping Steve on the back firmly. “They told me you’d settled down, but I see new scars on that face, and your hand...”

Steve looked sheepishly at his hand. Danny had given him shit for that one for a full week, but after John went in for his second surgery and Steve still couldn’t get any information out of either of the Hesse brothers, he’d lost his patience and put his fist through a window.

Danny had shouted sense into his head, and flat-out told him that they were dropping John’s investigation because there were things more important than work. Steve had argued and fought, until Danny had uttered just one word:

“Grace.”

John had sent Mary and Steve far away to keep them safe from his investigation. Steve wasn’t going to do that, because he felt like he honestly couldn’t bear it. So instead, he caved and agreed with Danny that other people could pursue whoever had hired the Hesse brothers. Steve had Five-0, and they were busy enough without worrying about the people who had sent Victor and Anton to take John out of the picture.

He flexed his hand and rested it in his lap as he took a seat, effectively hiding the cuts. “Let’s just say I had a conversation with a window in which we agreed to disagree.”

“I’m sure the window looks worse,” Nick said evenly as he took the seat opposite Steve. “I’ll make this brief. I know about your reasons for leaving the Navy, but with DADT repealed, there’s a new mission that I’ve been given. I came here to personally extend an invitation to you to join my team and serve your country.”

Steve opened his mouth and closed it without having said anything at all. “I thought you were doing private contract work,” he finally managed when he could form words.

“I tried, but it didn’t take,” Nick said with a shrug. “What can you do?”

“Do you want a drink? I just got here, but I can...”

Nick shook his head. “No, no, I’ve got an appointment to meet with some of the Captains on the base in an hour, but I couldn’t come out here and not do you the courtesy of personally asking you to join my taskforce.”

Instinctively, all Steve could think was, I have my own. If he went back, it would mean leaving Danny and Grace. He would still have a connection to them, but it would be distant and tenuous. He would probably form a family unit amidst Nick’s new task force, but did he really need to go halfway around the world to find that when he already had one right here?

Steve nodded thoughtfully. He’d known Nick for a long time and his offer deserved a moment of consideration. “They really gave you a task force?”

“They practically hand them out these days,” Nick deadpanned. “I heard you got your own, here.”

“Yeah,” Steve said with a grin, ducking his head down to try and mask the sheer emotion on his face. “Yeah, who knows what’s going on with the people in charge these days?” He lifted his head and gave a sharp nod. “Nick, thank you for the offer, but I’m going to have to decline.”

“I had a feeling,” Nick admitted with a shrug. “But I had to try.”

Steve pushed to his feet when Nick got ready to depart, shaking his hand firmly and thanking him for the visit. He felt remembered, if nothing else, and knew that at least his skills were valued, even after all this time. “It was good to see you, Bullfrog,” Steve said. “You’ll call the next time you’re in town?”

“I already have the invitation e-mail,” Nick reminded him. “Congratulations.”

“It’s still touch and go,” Steve said hurriedly, not wanting to jinx it. “We’re waiting for Dad to get better, so, keep your calendar open.”

“Is Catherine going to be there?”

Steve shot Nick an unimpressed look. “You seriously want to beat that dead horse?”

“Hey,” Nick protested. “There’s no harm in a dance or two.”

Steve laughed until his stomach ached, clapping Nick on the back and pushing him off in the direction of the parking lot. “Go, get out of here before you miss your meeting.” He waved one last goodbye to Nick before walking the short distance back to Five-0 Headquarters.

Danny was the only one who knew about the actual reason for him leaving the office in the first place, but it looked like he’d told the others while Steve was gone.

The whole team was assembled in the conference room around the computer, giving Steve apprehensive looks while trying not to look too interested.

“Damn it, Danny!” Steve said with growing frustration. “You have the biggest mouth on the island, you know that?”

“I didn’t hear you complaining last night,” Danny said, smirking.

“So?” Kono asked, sounding worried. “What’s it gonna be, boss?”

“Don’t we have work to do?” Steve asked as he joined his team at the table, crossing his arms over his chest. “I’m sure that we had a group of smugglers running coke, and jewel thieves on the table just yesterday.”

Meka shrugged, holding out his fist for Danny to bump. “Hazard of being the best, Bossman. We already put ‘em away.”

“See, this, this is my heaven, Steven,” Danny said, once he and Meka were done with their elaborate handshake that only the two of them had ever bothered to learn. He reached out to grab hold of Meka’s shoulder, hauling him close. He did the same to Kono on the other side until he was hugging them in tight. “Police officers who follow procedure. Do you know what Kono did the other day? She waited for backup. I wanted to cry, I was so proud.”

“Maybe I can still call Nick and tell him I changed my mind,” Steve said, pretending to dig out his phone. “I mean, if this is the treatment I get...”

A collective groan went up around the rest of the team, but it was Chin who stepped forward to corral Steve by the shoulder and pull him closer. “Does this mean you’re sticking around, brah?”

Steve gave each of his team a momentary look of consideration, spending a little more time looking at Danny than at anyone else. Danny, who already knew his answer. Steve wasn’t a stupid man, and he wasn’t about to make a life-changing decision without talking to Danny first. He took the time to bask in the overwhelming love and trust he had in his team.

“He wanted me to come back and rejoin my family in the Navy,” Steve said. “Thing is, I’ve already found ohana, and it’s right here.”

He was rewarded by a long silence before he had balled-up paper thrown at him from all sides.

“Lame!” Kono said, laughing brightly.

“Really, Bossman?” Meka asked, making a face. “Is this from the sensitivity seminar you were forced to attend last week?”

Danny was laughing loudest of them all, ducking out of the three-way hug he had going on to round the table and slide an arm around Steve’s waist to pull him in close.

“We love you too, Steve,” he said, bowing his forehead to press it to Steve’s temple, “you goof.”

THE END
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