- Action Adventure
- Alternate Universe
Walking into Five-0 headquarters with Danny beside him seemed so incredibly right to Steve that he couldn’t quite believe he’d been working without him for so long. Danny kept pace with Steve as they opened the glass doors and entered the offices. Danny was also talking; it was Danny’s default setting. Steve didn’t mind since his Sentinel side basked in hearing the cadence of Danny’s New Jersey accent. Danny also talked with his hands, sharp movements or gentle, but always in motion. Steve thought it was cute.
Steve also thought he was probably being totally obvious about being head over heels about his Guide. He might have been concerned but he could feel the affection and love Danny already felt for him through their bond, so his main thought was that he hoped Danny could feel how much Steve was gone on him too.
Danny nudged him, a brief touch of a hand on his arm as they walked up to the tech table in the centre of the communal office. It was reassurance and comfort. Steve offered a quick smile back before he turned his attention to their gathered team.
Chin stood on the opposite side of the table with Palakiko and Cath either side of him; Kono stood at the top of the table, arms braced on the table itself.
“Good morning,” Chin said, brightly, “on behalf of us all, may I offer my congratulations on your bonding?” He looked calm and assured, without the tell-tale signs of exhaustion that painted lines on the three women waiting with him.
“Thank you everyone, and for stepping in last night,” said Steve. He waved around the table. “I know we didn’t have time for formal introductions last night so..” he smiled softly at Danny, “this is Detective Lieutenant Danny Williams, my Guide.” He turned his gaze back to the team. “Danny, I think you know Chin?”
Danny nodded in Chin’s direction. “Detective Kelly.”
“Chin, please,” Chin said with a smile.
Danny returned the smile and Steve could feel how pleased Danny was at being offered the courtesy of calling Chin by his first name. Danny motioned at himself. “Danny.”
“Officer Kono Kalakaua.” Steve pointed to her and grinned.
“Kono,” Kono raised her hand in a small wave, “it’s good to meet you, Lieutenant.”
“Likewise, Kono,” Danny said. “And call me Danny. I don’t get the vibe this place is overrun with formality.”
“Only when the Governor visits,” Kono quipped with a wide smile.
Steve turned with some trepidation to the remaining member of his team. “Lieutenant Catherine Rollins, Danny Williams. Cath’s on loan from the Navy.”
“Although not for very much longer,” Cath said with a tight smile. She met Steve’s questioning gaze with an even stare of her own. “I reported that you’d found your Guide this morning. I’m expecting transfer orders.”
Steve nodded understandingly, hiding his relief from the team even if the bond meant he and Danny had no secrets. “We’ll miss you on Five-0,” he said calmly. He knew he and Cath needed to talk more, needed to clear the air before she went back to the Navy, but it would wait until they could do so in private – although he didn’t think she would appreciate that his private included having Danny present.
Cath turned her attention to Danny and gave another brief smile. “And please call me Catherine or Cath.”
Danny nodded. “Danny.” He waved a hand at the last person at the table. “Steve, this is Detective Olina Palakiko; Olina, Steve.”
“It’s good to meet you, Commander,” Olina said as she gave a nod to Steve.
Steve nodded back. “Good to meet you, and as Danny said; we don’t stand on too much formality here; call me Steve.”
Olina brightened and nodded.
Danny gestured at the tech table and monitor. “Fancy,” he commented with a whistle.
“Useful,” said Chin, who immediately tapped a folder in the centre of the table. A brief hand movement later and the information was on the monitor. “Max expedited the autopsy. Joe was killed with a SGW to the head. The bullet was retrieved from the crime scene so if we find a gun we could get a ballistics match.”
“Max found a taser burn on Joe’s neck,” added Cath, tapping on the table and sending a photo to the monitor.
“Taser was close to the skin,” noted Danny, gesturing at the photo, “that had to hurt. I got tased once; it gave me a killer headache.”
“We did a sweep of Joe’s place,” Cath continued, sending more photos onto the monitor, “he was taken outside his hotel room; we found his key card on the floor outside the door.”
“His phone was in his pocket,” Kono jumped in, “Charlie did a download but there wasn’t anything unusual. His last call was from a burner phone which Cath recognised.”
Cath flinched but her gaze snapped to Steve’s almost defiantly. “It beings to your mother.”
Steve sighed but accepted it. He knew Joe and his mother were in contact.
“She confirmed she called Joe about the break-in at her place,” Cath concluded.
“Did you get anything else from Joe’s room?” Danny asked, shifting the subject from Steve’s mother.
“Laptop,” Kono informed him, “Charlie’s got it. Same with his car. It was in the hotel’s parking lot.”
“We traced Commander White’s activity for the last couple of days,” Olina said, “there are no unusual expenditure and his behaviour is consistent with previous weeks spent in Hawaii. He spent money at the gun range, bought wings and beers at a couple of small bars near Pearl, and spent a minimal amount on food and personal purchases.”
“Sounds like Joe,” murmured Steve.
Danny inched closer to him surreptitiously and Steve was grateful for the support.
“There was nothing on the hotel surveillance,” added Chin, “whoever did this took it out just before Joe’s take-down.”
“They knew about the cameras and planned for it,” suggested Danny.
Chin nodded. “That would be my guess.” He tapped the table and swept the video file up onto the monitor. “They didn’t know about the camera at Steve’s.”
Steve watched as the screen filled with the video footage from the camera outside his house.
A Silverado truck in the same blue as his own pulled into the driveway; one man got out of the driver’s side. He wore a ballcap pulled down low which obscured his face as he walked up to the door. He also wore cargo pants and a blue t-shirt similar to the outfit Steve wore. He confidently picked the lock and dealt with the security system.
“Professional,” commented Danny.
“Military,” said Steve.
“He’s made himself appear to be you,” Danny said, shooting him a quick up and down look, “same outfit, same truck.”
“We noticed the same thing.” Chin paused the playback and pointed at the screen. “This is the best shot we get of him. We’re running facial recognition but no hits yet, but if he’s military we’ll find him.”
On the screen, the man had the door open and went back to the truck. He opened the passenger side and pulled a semi-conscious Joe White out of the truck. The guy was good, Steve thought. Anyone passing would have assumed it was Steve helping a friend who was worse for wear. The man got Joe into the house.
Chin froze the screen. “Timestamp puts this just after seventeen hundred.” He brought up another video file and set it playing.
The man confidently strode from the house and back to the truck. He got in and left, the truck reversing out.
“Timestamp puts this just before eighteen hundred.” Chin said, freezing the screen again. “Any calls he made to law enforcement were done after he left the house.”
Olina gave a small cough. “We looked at the logs from the Registry, NCIS and here. HPD were alerted through a request for back-up made by Detective Kelly.” She brought up the virtual keyboard on the table and input a couple of commands. Log files filled the screen.
“The calls were made from the same number,” said Danny, reviewing the screen intently.
“Another burner phone but not one anyone recognised,” Cath said. “Our main lead is the truck.” She brought back the paused video and enlarged the area with the truck. Enhancement showed mud smeared over the license plate but there was a rental sticker in the window. “Eight rental agencies with that franchise in Oahu have blue Silverado’s as part of their fleet.”
Steve nodded, glad to have a solid lead which got them out of the office. “Danny and I will take half the list. Chin, Palakiko; take the rest. Kono, follow up with Charlie and see what you can get from Joe’s laptop and GPS. Cath, I want you to stay here coordinate and stay on the facial recognition.”
Danny cleared his throat, drawing their attention. “I assume the programme picks up dead, retired or former military?”
Steve frowned. “You have an idea?”
Danny shrugged. “Maybe.” He pointed at the photo. “It’s personal for this guy which is why he comes after you…but why Joe? Your Mom’s on the island; you have a sister in LA. Both of them arguably give him an easier target than a former SEAL.”
“Joe’s a man though, right?” Kono questioned hesitantly. “If our guy is trying to replicate the murder of Steve’s father, choosing a man would make sense.”
“Yeah, but what came first?” asked Danny, rocking back and pushing his hands into his pockets – a move which drew his shirt taut over his shoulders.
“You mean did he choose Joe because he wanted to echo John’s death to hurt Steve,” Chin expanded, his experience getting him there quicker than the others, “or did he choose Joe because he wanted to hurt Joe and hurting Steve was a bonus – or the equivalent of downing two birds with one stone.” His expression turned considering.
Danny shrugged again. “Something to think about.”
It was a good thought and Steve felt a moment’s pride in his Guide’s competence.
“I’ll expand the search parameters,” agreed Cath, tucking a stray strand of brown hair behind an ear.
Steve tapped the table. “Let’s move.”
It took them some time to organise.
They geared up with vests and extra armaments. If their suspect was former military Steve wasn’t taking any chances. He’d learned his lesson with the fiasco with Nick Taylor. They had a brief and spirited argument about grenades and Steve conceded that keeping grenades in the car where Grace might find them wasn’t a good idea. Finally, they were back in the Camaro and on their way to check out their half of the list.
Danny sat quietly beside him a pensive look on his face and Steve could almost hear his brain ticking through their bond.
“What?” asked Steve, unable to keep silent any longer.
Danny sighed and turned to face him. “Did you and White do any joint missions?”
Steve glanced over at him before turning his attention back to the road. “Nothing I can talk about.”
“How many?” asked Danny.
“Three,” said Steve. He considered the angle Danny was pursuing and frowned.
It wasn’t a bad angle but…two missions had been rescues of SEALs pinned down in enemy territory, and the third…the third had been an assassination of a drug warlord on the Afghan border. In the rescue ops they’d lost one of the SEALs, but they’d brought his body home; they’d lost two men in the op on the drug warlord. There had been family members who’d been upset at their losses but…
The SEAL Team Lead had been furious at the loss of his team-mate in the rescue op and had made an official complaint against Joe and Steve afterwards. An internal investigation had cleared them but…Bailer was the right height and build; he had a high clearance – maybe enough to read the report on what had happened with Hesse.
“What’s this face? You have Aneurysm face.” Danny circled a finger in Steve’s direction. “I did not know that was a face.”
“I don’t have a face,” Steve denied.
“You have a face,” Danny insisted, “and that face tells me you thought of someone who just went to the top of the suspect list.”
“My face told you that, huh?” questioned Steve dryly.
“Well, that and the rage which hit our bond a moment ago,” conceded Danny with a sly grin.
Steve shot him a fond look. “I might have thought of someone.” He called Cath and gave her Bailer’s name to follow-up. He finished with the call and turned to Danny at the next set of lights to ask the question bugging him. “What made you think of my missions with Joe being relevant?”
Danny shrugged. “It’s not that hard a leap if you accept the guy was after White as much as he was after hurting you.”
“Although I kind of worked it backwards,” admitted Danny. “When you told me you and White put together that counter-ambush this morning I just…” he gestured obliquely, “started to think what if it was something like that which triggered our guy into targeting White and you.” He pointed at Steve just as the lights turned green. “Did you count any times since the Navy when you did your review?”
Steve shook his head. Joe had gone with him on a couple of cases – notably the SEAL 9 and the Griffin murders but it was unlikely that either case would lead someone to target himself or Joe. He said as much to Danny.
Danny hummed. “What about the counter-ambush thing?”
“What do you mean?” asked Steve. “Apart from Jenna everyone got back safe and sound from that op.”
“Apart from Jenna,” Danny reiterated. He gestured at Steve. “Did you ever find that fiancé of hers? The ex-Army Ranger?”
Steve’s frown deepened. “No,” he said slowly, “there wasn’t anyone else at the compound I was taken to so…we all assumed Wo Fat tricked Jenna and her fiancé was already dead.”
“You’re probably right,” Danny conceded, “I was just…”
“Hey, no,” Steve said, “I’m glad you’re raising questions.” He paused as he pulled into the first rental agency and turned the engine off. “You’re a good cop, Danny. The task force is lucky to have you. I’m lucky to have you.”
“You too, babe,” Danny said warmly. “Come on, let’s take our good cop show on the road here.”
Four rental agencies later and Steve blew out a frustrated breath as they got back in the Camaro for the trip back to the palace.
The phone buzzed and Steve hit the reply button.
“Chin,” Steve said hopefully, “tell me you have good news.”
“Sorry, brah,” Chin replied, “nobody’s rented a blue Silverado to any customer.”
“He played us,” Danny said, tapping his fingers restlessly against his thigh, “the tag was probably planted.”
Steve grimaced but couldn’t argue with Danny’s conclusion. “Chin, get in touch with Cath and get her to run all Silverado ownership in Oahu, either commercial or privately owned.”
“Will do,” Chin confirmed.
Steve ended the call and changed lanes to take the next exit.
Danny’s eyebrows rose and he could feel Danny’s curiosity spike over their bond. “I know I haven’t lived here long but aren’t we going in the wrong direction?”
“I need to make another stop,” explained Steve.
“And you feel like you’d rather jump in a pool of sharks than do whatever it is you’re thinking you need to do,” Danny commented bluntly.
It was a good description for how he felt, Steve mused.
He sighed. “I need to speak to my Mom.”
Danny opened his mouth as if to speak and closed it again.
Steve felt a flash of worry and concern over the bond and he glanced over at his Guide questioningly. “What?”
Danny fidgeted, shifting position in his seat. “I just hoped for a little more notice on the whole meet your Mom thing, and you know, maybe bought her flowers or something.”
Steve grimaced in realisation. Danny was right. It was the first meeting between his Mom and his Guide. Danny should have time to prepare – they should have time with each other first. And frankly, just the idea of his Mom being anywhere near Danny was turning his stomach and…
“Babe?” Danny touched his arm gently.
Steve pulled over into a nearby park and stopped. He sat in silence for a long moment.
“I don’t want you to meet my Mom,” Steve admitted.
Danny didn’t speak, he just waited for Steve to continue.
“She’s…she’s done nothing but lie and…” Steve sighed. “Doris is a CIA agent first and a mother second – hell, maybe not even second. She…she operates on her own agenda and I don’t want you anywhere near that. I don’t want to give her someone else to use or to play games with…I don’t want my Guide anywhere near her!”
Danny reached out and clasped the back of Steve’s neck. “Hey.” He rubbed a thumb down Steve’s neck gently. “Take a breath, babe.”
Steve leaned into Danny’s touch.
“The good thing about being a Guide,” Danny said casually, “is that we’re really hard to bullshit.”
He surprised Steve into laughter and tension bled out of his body in a rush.
Steve turned and kissed Danny’s hand.
“Why do you think you need to speak with her?” asked Danny, his hand dropping to Steve’s shoulder, maintaining the contact and keeping Steve grounded.
“I want to make sure Joe’s death isn’t connected to her bullshit.” Steve admitted and shook his head in exasperation. “I don’t think it is but…I need to make sure I’m not missing something just because I don’t want to deal with her.”
“Then we’ll do that,” Danny said.
Steve nodded but he still hated the idea of putting Danny and his mother in the same room, only he couldn’t see a way out of it because he refused to let Danny out of his sight. He blew out a breath. “She just has this way of manipulating people.”
Danny held his gaze patiently waiting for Steve to explain further.
Steve cleared his throat. “When she came back to the island, I had Chin go round to the house to keep an eye on her. She convinced him to bring her into the office.” He crossed his arms over his chest. “I hired an old friend from the service to investigate her movements…”
“You hired someone to spy on your mother?” Danny said incredulously.
“I needed answers!” Steve shot back defensively.
“That was never going to end well, babe.”
Steve sighed. “OK, you’re right, it didn’t, because she made him within minutes and then convinced him to date her instead.”
To his credit, Danny didn’t laugh although Steve felt his banked amusement through their bond. Steve found a smile reluctantly pulling at his own lips.
“I guess it wasn’t one of my better ideas,” he conceded.
Danny gave a half-smile. “That’s not the thing that’s bothering you, right?” He looked at Steve with piercing blue eyes; cop’s eyes.
Steve shook his head.
“Cath, right?” prompted Danny gently.
He didn’t want to admit it; didn’t want to say it but Danny was right. “I just don’t get it,” he said, “I don’t get how she convinced Cath to lie to me.”
“She used you,” Danny said, “she used you and Cath’s want to protect you, and Cath fell for it.”
Danny was right.
“And you’re scared she’s going to play me the same way and those promises we made back at the boat will be broken,” Danny continued.
Steve didn’t look at his Guide; he didn’t want to admit that Danny was right about Steve being scared.
“How likely is it that your mother trying to play me in some way will make you feral?” asked Danny.
It was a good question. Steve considered it seriously for a long moment.
He sighed and crossed his arms over his chest. “Likely,” he admitted.
Danny’s squeezed his shoulder in mute sympathy. “We could try a buffer.”
Steve glanced over at him. “Buffering is meant to be intimate.”
Danny shrugged, an easy roll of his broad shoulders. “Our bond’s already giving up most of what we’re feeling.”
Steve knew it was unusual for their bond to be so strong but he was grateful for it, for Danny. Buffering though was Danny placing his shields around Steve’s mind, helping him keep control from within. Steve’s thoughts would be open to Danny if they were loud enough. Danny would have more control over how his thoughts might filter through but it wouldn’t be comfortable for him either.
Danny was right to suggest it though, Steve mused, and he couldn’t deny that the likelihood of his going feral if his mother looked at Danny the wrong way was high. Very high.
The Sentinel part of him though…the Sentinel wanted the buffer because it created another link between him and Danny, between him and his Guide. He was enough of a self-confessed control freak to want that.
“Let’s do it,” declared Steve. “I’m not going to rest before I speak with her and as much as I don’t want her near you, I need you with me.”
“OK, then give me your hand.”
Steve frowned at him. “Don’t we have to get naked to do this?”
“I think we’ll be fine,” Danny said dryly.
“No, seriously,” Steve said, “we should be naked.”
“You need to be naked to strengthen a connection,” Danny said, “we’ll be fine because we already have a strong connection and…” his eyes warned Steve away from interrupting, “if we’re not then we’ll get naked.”
“OK,” said Steve.
Danny reached over and gently grasped Steve’s hand. “Look at me, babe.”
Steve turned and looked into Danny’s eyes; calm blue pools that he could easily get lost in.
“Easy, babe,” Danny said, amusement trickling into his tone, “don’t zone on me here.”
Steve smiled bashfully.
And then Danny opened up their bond.
Steve’s breath caught as he felt their connection bloom fully; the feeling of home.
Danny’s shield slipped around him and he welcomed it as it touched his mind and sank into his being. It felt like Danny was surrounding him; holding him.
“All good?” asked Danny.
“All good,” agreed Steve.
Danny eased away mentally but Steve could still feel him and he drew in a sharp breath of relief.
Steve squeezed Danny’s hand and let go. He felt calm, centred. It was time to go talk to his mother. He gunned the engine and a moment later, the Camaro was speeding out of the parking lot and back on the road.
His mother rented a small house close to a beach. Steve parked outside on the driveway, satisfied to see her car already there. He led the way to the front door and rang the bell.
Danny hovered just behind him, but didn’t make any comment about why Steve didn’t have a key or why he didn’t feel able to just enter, although the thoughts whispered through the buffer.
The door opened and his Mom stood there in jeans and a thin white cotton blouse; delicate gold jewellery decorated her neck and ears; her make-up was immaculate and her hair neatly styled.
“Steve,” his Mom said with a surprised lilt to her tone which he knew was affected; she wasn’t surprised at all by his presence, “what are you doing here?” She glanced behind him. “Aren’t you both supposed to be bonding?”
“Can we come in?” asked Steve briskly.
His Mom opened up the door and walked away into the open plan living space. “Can I get you something? Tea? Coffee?”
Steve ushered Danny in and closed the front door. “No, thank you. Mom, this is Danny, my Guide.” He motioned at his mother. “Danny, my mother Doris McGarrett.”
“I’m pleased to meet you, Danny,” his Mom said as she perched on the arm of an overstuffed chair. “Tell me, how did you manage to fly under the radar so long?”
Steve glared at her and he felt the buffer respond to the flash of his anger, soothing him. “We’re not here for you to interrogate my Guide.”
His mother shot him a fake look of shock. “I just want to get to know the man who’ll be sharing your life, Steve. What’s so wrong with that?”
Steve felt the buffer respond again and he breathed in deeply. He checked on Danny with a quick glance and Danny gave a small nod, affection rushing through their bond. Steve turned back to his mother.
“Are you bothered at all about Joe’s death?” asked Steve bluntly, crossing his arms over his chest, feet planted solidly.
His mother – no, Doris glared back at him as she surged to her feet. “Of course I am!”
“Tell me this had nothing to do with you,” Steve said, ploughing on even though she was furious with him, “tell me Joe’s death had nothing to do with your past, with your secrets.”
Doris arched an eyebrow. “Joe’s death has nothing to do with me. If you want to know what killed him perhaps you need to look at your own past!”
The emotional knife slid into him and Steve almost lost his breath.
“Hey!” Danny was suddenly between him and his mother. “That’s enough!”
Doris opened her mouth to speak but Danny slashed his hand across the space in between them and she stilled as though she was an animal recognising the threat of a predator.
“He’s protected now,” said Danny forcefully, fury riding in his every word, “and you’re done treating him like he’s nothing more than asset or a pawn depending on your whim. You want to be his mother, be his mother. But you’re not his handler and not he’s not your mark. Is that clear?”
Steve stood frozen
Doris folded her arms over her chest but she gave a slow nod. “Clear.”
Danny reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone. A couple of taps later and Danny showed her the picture of the killer. “You know this guy?”
Doris frowned at the photo. She glanced across to Steve and back at the photo. “I’ve never met him.”
“But you know who he is,” realised Steve reading her body language and hesitance.
She sighed and sat back down on the arm of her chair. “He’s a CIA asset.”
The hair on Steve’s neck prickled.
“Name,” ordered Danny.
“Joshua Hirsch,” Doris said crisply, “he’s currently disavowed by the CIA, believed dead. He was on a mission to capture Wo Fat and walked into an ambush. It was thought that the entire team was killed.”
Steve’s emotions swirled like a tempest inside him. Joshua Hirsch. Jenna’s Josh. The man who had killed Joe was Jenna’s fiancé.
Danny tugged on his shirt. “Come on, babe. We need to get back to the office, hunt this guy down.”
Steve turned to follow Danny out.
“Steve!” Doris said loudly, claiming his attention.
Steve paused by the door, Danny waiting beside him, shoulder to shoulder. Steve looked back at his mother.
Doris offered a small smile. “For what it’s worth, I do love you.”
She was telling the truth.
His senses told him she was telling the truth.
But he didn’t believe it, didn’t believe her. He loved her with the heart of the boy he’d been; the son she’d raised, but Steve wondered if he would ever believe her.
Danny reached out to draw him away and Steve let him. Steve gave his mother a nod of acknowledgement and followed his Guide out of the house. He focused on the buffer shielding him; the love and protectiveness Danny felt for him. He wasn’t alone anymore, Steve thought as he got back in the car. He had Danny and that was all that mattered.