Content Rating: Mature
Warnings: Soul Bonds, Soul Marks, #GFY, Sexual Situations
They’re called Fairy Kisses, Angel Kisses, Soul Scars, Fortune Marks, Love Scars. They’re also called Devil Scars and Mischief Marks. Because for every story of Two Souls mating and Forever Love, there are stories of Love Gone Wrong: of two souls finding each other in the worst possible way.
Daniel Williams had an aunt who was Favoured. Who always told the tale of how she met her Mate and how wonderful their lives were. When Danny manifested his Scar, he knew what it meant. But he didn’t know what to do. How was he supposed to meet his Favoured Mate? And when he fell in love and eventually married, he never complained that the earth never moved for him when he was with Rachel. He was lucky to find love and he was lucky to have the family he had. Until he didn’t have them anymore, and luck moved him far from his support system.
And when he finally did feel the earth move? Well, it’s only Danny’s business if he doesn’t tell anyone about it, isn’t it?
But only fools ignore the Marks, and Danny isn’t a fool, is he?
A Marked Interest
(A Hawaii Five-0 AU)
Prologue: The Story
Long ago, when life was first forming and the world was new, the plants and animals lived in harmony. The thinking animals—humans—lived in small, close tribes, often large distances apart. The gods were happy with this arrangement. There was food enough for human and animal; the plants were plenty, the waters were filled with life, and the earth provided shelter for all. There were, of course, the “Favoured Ones”, the humans that seemed to be blessed by the gods. These were proficient hunters, or lucky fishers. These humans could cultivate smaller plants for private family gardens, or could always find clear water after the long storms. Sometimes humans would find themselves at odd with the animals they shared the land with, for the beasts could be vicious and dangerous, but the Favoured Ones were left untouched and unsavaged. When hunting parties encountered other, unknown humans, the Favoured Ones could reach bargains, thus the humans could share the bounty of the hunt without strife.
For there was strife.
In many of the tribes, there were no Favored Ones. These tribes often suffered drought, or flood, or the ravages of the beasts. Healthy plants often would not grow, and the tribes would be forced to eat scant foods that would leave them ill. Hunting parties could find and kill, but losses during the hunt were high. The fishers would find themselves at odds with the rivers or the seas, and because the humans could not mind-bond with the fishes, they could not swim and fishers would risk drowning as they sought to feed the tribes.
Because of these difficulties, Favoured Ones were sought after and fought over.
And the distant tribes came to know war.
Instead of blending with the plants and beasts in nature, the humans built walls of tree and stone, and kept the Favoured Ones apart from nature. The Favoured Ones were sequestered and sheltered, and the hunts and gardens suffered, for the Favoured Ones were needed to blend with nature for the good of the tribes.
So, the gods drew down among the humans, and laid mark upon the Favoured.
And they spoke their Word unto the humans that the Favoured, who were so marked, would bring luck and happiness to the tribes, but only when they were permitted to blend with nature, and only when they were permitted to bond with each other.
The gods never chose the Favoured from birth. That wasn’t the way they worked. Rather, they watched over the tribes and saw how some could be bettered, how a few could be raised above simple, everyday difficulties. Favoured Marks would develop in childhood, before the first flush of adulthood was bloomed. A Scar of sorts, on an arm, or shoulder, or hand; a Mark to show the blessings of the gods. A Mark that would bestow blessings onto a tribe.
And the marks set the Favoured apart, but brought the tribes together.
No single mark was unique; each had a partner, a mirror image.
And when the mirrors were brought together, the fortune of the tribe increased.
And wars ceased, as tribes negotiated with each other to trade marked Favoured Ones to each other so that the matches could be made.
That was the story everyone was told, all through their childhoods. The Story of Creation told about the Marked, and why they were marked, and the purpose of the mark. Sort of. The Story of Creation did not tell why the Favored Ones became so rare. Like one-in-four-million rare. And the Story of Creation did not tell why some of the marks were so darned hard to read. Everyone knew that to ignore the marks meant mis-fortune. But the marks weren’t always clear. Or easy to see. Or easy to read. And nobody wanted to EVER forget what happened during the Belasco Wars. Ever. That story was told right along with the Story of Creation, so that all of the people knew not to ignore the marks.
Stavros Belasco was ruler of a large kingdom near the Sea of Altair. His kingdom was wealthy, rich in minerals and water- and animal-life. His people were mostly happy, but strife was settling in as the long winter approached. Stavros Belasco had two fine sons and four beautiful daughters. But beauty did not bring kindness, and the daughters of Belasco were known to taunt potential suitors into death battles, and the sons were known to harass the house-maids into tears. The people of the village complained long and loudly to Stavros Belasco, and with the advice of his counselors he decided to settle his troublesome children into marriages in the hopes of calming their demeanors.
Stavros sent letters of Courtship and Intent to all of his allies along the Coast of Altair and three letters returned favorably.
Gunter Halstead, from the North Sea Wall, had a daughter fair of face and demeanor who was willing to enter courtship with the eldest Belasco son, who was known for his intelligence and cunning.
Mallor Windemeare, from Altair Fords, had a strong second son—known to be a scholar and gardener (and who was renowned for creating many hardy wheat strains)—who was amenable to meet and possibly court the youngest Belasco daughter.
Stephen Herren, from Whiting Rocks, had both a son and daughter—twins—who were eager to leave their father’s manor and see the world, and were willing to enter courtships if travel and discovery were included in the marriage contracts.
Stavros Belasco was pleased, and invited all of the families to his kingdom, so that his children could meet and possibly bond with their newly intended mates. The Belasco children were less than thrilled, for the daughters so enjoyed forcing suitors to fight over them, and the sons so enjoyed their debauchery—although they were always sure to remain chaste in body, if not in mind, for that was the way of the gods and the people.
And then came all of the families together. And the Belasco children did come to see favour in their father’s plan, because the Herren twins were vivacious and healthy and intelligent, and the Windemeare son was fair of face as well as mind and could easily bring health to the fields of the kingdom, and the Halstead daughter had an easy laugh and infectious smile and the people of the kingdom could easily love her the most of all. And so the courtships began, and the contracts were written, and the alliances were strengthened.
But the Halstead daughter had a secret: a scar upon her shoulder shaped like a crescent moon within a circle. It was a small scar; no bigger than her thumbnail, but it was clearly (to those few who had seen it) the mark of the Favoured. Halstead’s wife knew of the mark, but as ten years had passed with no mirrored mark appearing in the neighboring villages and manor-holds, she told no one, and so the daughter kept the secrets as well.
And so the Herren Twins were the first to be bonded in marriage, to the younger Belasco son and third Belasco daughter, and the foursome were sent off on a wonderful adventure so that they would see the world and learn about their mates, and become happy in their bondings.
And so the Windemeare son was next married to the youngest Belasco daughter, and he went about encouraging her to learn about her kingdom home and the land that housed her, and she happily set up her own family home with a large plot of farmland so she could be taught to mix and mingle healthy plants to feed the kingdom.
And so came the day of the wedding of the Belasco Heir, bold and dashing and haughty and imposing, to the Halstead daughter, kind and caring and intelligent and beautiful. The day dawned clear and bright, with no clouds to mar the sky. The scent of roses filled the air around the Manor, and the scent of lavender filled the hallways inside the chapel, and the scent of the sea mingled all together to give blessing to the union. And the bridegroom stood at the altar proudly, and the bride’s father and new father-in-law escorted her toward her future.
And the gods reached out to the couple and decreed that the match would not be made.
For the young priest to the gods bore a small scar, no bigger than his thumbnail, on his wrist—a scar shaped like a crescent moon within a circle. And once the Halstead daughter drew near the altar, the very air inside the chapel felt charged with lightning and brimstone. And she met the eyes of the priest, and she knew. And she looked at her father on her right side, and she told him that she could not honour the contract, for she was a Favoured, and her Favoured mate was before her at last.
And so Belasco demanded that the contract be honoured, gods be damned.
He said it in the chapel.
He said it in front of the altar.
He said it with voice clear and loud.
And the gods answered.
That was the flowery way the teachers and priests always told it. In the history books, there is detailed mention of the war between the Belasco kingdom and the Halstead kingdom. It lasted almost twenty years, and cost many lives. All because someone wanted a Favoured One to ignore the Mark.
The Sea of Altair became known as the Tyrrhenian Sea. The North Sea Wall became France, Altair Fords became Spain, Whiting Rocks became Austria, and the home of the doomed Belasco Family became known as Italy.
The Belasco Family ceased to exist altogether.
So, yeah, ignoring the Mark is bad. The very rare few who were Marked, and everyone looks for Marks everywhere on their bodies, always had photos and drawing made of the marks. That way, there was clear documentation of what the Mark looks like. They always look like a scar, but not a normal scar. There are no jagged edges, or raised ridges. There are geometric shapes, one or two or three, connected with small waved lines. The Marks developed between the ages of six and sixteen. If you weren’t Marked by your mid-teens, you never would be. The scars are small—the largest recorded mark was only two inches long—and in an obvious place. They were never hidden on backs or hineys or the bottoms of feet. And they were white, not pink. If you were dark-skinned, they really stood out. If you were pale, trying to find one turned into a family affair. They could be covered, but never completely hidden. Injuries could not disfigure the Marks, and mankind could never completely replicate the Marks, though some few tribes tried with inks and dyes. Because being Favoured was a boon to the entire family. It brought prestige. It brought luck. It brought happiness.
And it could also bring headaches.
Because those Marks were hard to see sometimes, and harder to recognize—sometimes. And sometimes, people thought they saw their mirror-mark where it didn’t really exist. Wishful thinking, maybe. We see what we want. Or don’t see what we don’t want.
They’re called Fairy Kisses, Angel Kisses, Fortune Marks, Love Scars, Soul Scars.
They’re also called Devil Scars and Mischief Marks.
Because for every story of True Love and Forever Mating, there is a story of a Love-Gone-Wrong; of two souls finding each other in the worst possible way.
Not everyone has a mark, so when a Mark is found, that person is usually revered.
In the far distant past of Human History, two Marked Souls had a very good chance of finding each other. When people lived in Tribes, messengers and riders were sent from territory to territory carrying drawings of the Marks so that Proper Matches could be made. After Tribes joined to become cities, towns, and counties–and then countries—Matches were not so eagerly sought. “Civilization” forced mankind to become insular. Travel to other countries for anything other than trade or war was almost unheard of.
The human race became more proficient at mastering the world, and technology replaced Hunters and Fishers and Gardeners. Populations boomed and cities expanded, and the Favoured Ones became more and more rare. Humans became Doctors and Teachers and Soldiers and Scientists. And they travelled a lot more over time. New Countries formed, land was explored, and the rare Favoured Ones were found—but possibly not mated. The stories were still told, and the people still believed. In the last four hundred years, more Favoured Ones had been paired, often by chance alone. Governments had discussed registering Marks, so the Pairs could be more easily made. With each new technological advance, the registry question would arise.
And it would be again stricken down.
Perhaps it was the romanticism, but the populace seemed to want the meetings and matings to continue to be by chance. Immigration often made the meeting seem impossible, so when they did happen they were a cause for celebration. Until 1965, the Matings often made international newsfeeds. With the rise of Communism, Marxism, Socialism, natural disaster, and social disorder, news of Favoured Ones meeting and joining kept the spirits of the people high. These stories even eclipsed two World Wars, multiple Social Revolutions, Religious upheaval, and medical advancement. The whole-world mourning of Kennedy, King, and Malcolm X, as well as the burgeoning Space Race in the mid-1960s, took over news of the most rare of Favoured meetings.
But the stories were still told.
And the stories were still believed.
(From “The Fortunate Favoured”, eighth-grade essay by Daniel Williams)
Chapter 1: Danny
Daniel Edward Williams was born on Monday, March 21, 1977, at 3:14pm, in Newark, New Jersey. His parents, Clara and Edward Williams, already parents of two-year-old Joy, were thrilled to have a son.
Danny was not a happy baby.
He was not fussy, or colicky, but he cried. All the time. From the moment he entered the world, until he passed out from exhaustion—even during feedings—he cried. The crying was not particularly loud, but it was constant. Clara worried her boy was horribly sick. Edward worried that he would never sleep again. Joy wanted to return the weepy baby to where-ever he came from. The doctors assured Clara that there was nothing wrong with Danny, although they did not know why he cried. The tears were not violent, and the baby did not scream. He just seemed genuinely unhappy.
At 2:05pm on April 9, three weeks after his birth, Daniel Williams stopped crying. From that point on, Danny Williams was a most agreeable child. He greeted his mother and father each morning with a smile and a kiss. He allowed his older sister to dress him up and put make-up on him. He doted on the younger brother that was born when he was three-years-old.
When Danny was eight-years-old, he broke his left arm in a skate-boarding accident. He sported a cast for eight long weeks. And he developed a scar on his wrist. It was small, not quite an inch in length, and white against his pale skin.
An elongated, house-shaped pentagon connected by wavy lines to three stars.
Danny was too young to understand the scar, but Clara and Edward knew: Danny was Favoured.
Clara had an aunt who was Favoured, and she gloried in telling of how she met and Mated her True Love after finishing nursing school. Clara’s aunt had a white scar on her left shoulder, small and geometric, just like Danny. Clara and Edward decided not to worry their child with the stories while he was too young to understand. There would be time enough when he was older.
Danny was told the story of the Favoured Ones when he was twelve-years-old. Clara then told Danny about his own scar. Then Great-Aunt Maggie told her own story. To say that Danny was thrilled would be a gross overstatement. Danny didn’t really like girls, not yet. And while he did maybe want to get married and have a family some day, he thought it would be nice if he could pick his own wife when the time came. But still, he listened to the stories. And he learned from them. The family decided to keep the Mark a close secret. There were ways to fake a mark—at least physically. “White Tattoos” using white or pale ink, coupled with certain drugs, could appear to be Favoured Marks, although the truth always fell out. The year Danny was born, the heir to the Vanderbilt family was almost scammed out of his entire fortune by a slick conman with a white tattoo and a bag of “magic dust” that confounded the man’s senses. So Danny’s family took measures to protect their Favoured Son. Danny’s parents and grand-parents knew, and of course Aunt Maggie, but his siblings never were told. This was a good thing, because Danny’s brother Matthew could never keep a secret. As a part disguise/part twelfth-birthday gift, Danny’s Grandfather Williams gifted him with a large, old-fashioned wrist-watch, the face of which neatly covered his Scar. He wore his “adult” watch every day of his life, and never spoke of his Mark, even if he secretly hoped to meet his Favoured Mate one day.
In 1995, Danny Williams graduated high school and decided to attend the Police Academy. He had always known he wanted to serve the People. His father was a fireman—the Chief of the local fire department. He had firemen and police officers all through his family lines. They were noble professions, and Danny wanted to be part of that legacy. He entered the Newark Police Department at the age of twenty, and began taking night classes at Rutgers University to obtain a degree in Criminal Justice. He may have wanted to be a police officer, but he didn’t intend to stay a beat cop forever.
In 1998, Officer Daniel Williams performed a routine traffic stop, and cited Ms. Rachel Danvers for driving the wrong way on a one-way street and colliding with a parked police car. (It was actually his parked police car, but that was beside the point.) He issued a ticket and she asked for driving lessons. He was smitten.
Rachel was not his Favoured Mate. Danny knew this. He often asked Aunt Maggie what it felt like when she met Auntie Charlotte. Maggie described ionic charge, like lightning in a room. Rachel’s smile made Danny’s stomach quiver, but it definitely wasn’t lightning in a room. But still, he fell in love. He knew he shouldn’t ignore the Mark. Nothing good ever came from ignoring the Marks. But he couldn’t know if he would ever meet his Favoured Mate, and Rachel was right there and she loved him as well. Before he proposed, Danny took off his grandfather’s watch and showed Rachel his Mark. He explained that never in his life had he felt what he felt for Rachel, and he loved her truly even though she was not his Favoured Mate. She said that she understood and that she also truly loved him and would stand by him for all time. They married after a year, and in 2000 his daughter Grace was born, and Danny felt truly blessed.
Danny advanced in his career, and he and Rachel raised Grace with love. She was a most pleasant child. But the strain of being a police officer’s wife wore Rachel down. She tried to escape the stress through her work, but reports of duty-related officer injury—even death—haunted her badly. She also feared that one day, Danny would meet his Favoured Mate through work, just like he met her, and her insecurities grew. Through work, Rachel met another man, and she informed Danny that she was going to leave. And she was going to take Grace with her.
Danny felt his world fall apart.
Rachel tried to blame the end of their marriage on Danny’s status as a Favoured One, but Danny countered with the fact that he had never met his Mate and was trying to hold his family together. Rachel tried to sue for complete custody of Grace because Danny had such a dangerous job, but their divorce judge saw through that argument as well and ruled for joint custody. Rachel had decided to marry Stan Edwards, and she was sure that he would be a better father to Grace. Again, the judge disagreed.
Then Stan relocated to Hawaii, and Rachel packed up her things and her daughter and moved.
In 2008 Danny proved his worth as a father and moved to Hawaii—far from his life and family and support—so that he could remain part of his daughter’s life. He joined the Honolulu Police Department as a detective based on high recommendations from his former commanding officer. He settled into a crappy apartment and dealt with endless humidity. He struggled with fellow officers who refused to trust a mainlander. And he proved his worth as a good officer by closing case after case and never complaining about shoddy treatment from coworkers or late back-up or “lost” reports. He never revealed his Favoured status, because he felt cheated and did not want to share with these people who held him in contempt.
Danny tried to keep with his visitation schedule, but Rachel would often call his commanding officer for his work schedule, and then she’d use the information to out-schedule Danny. Soon, Danny was fighting tennis lessons and horse-back riding lessons and swim lessons for time to see the light of his life.
So, he visited with his daughter whenever he was allowed. She was the brightest part of his day. Every year on his birthday, his baby-girl would gift him with a new, wide leather watch-band, which he treasured and never took off. Only Danny and Rachel held that secret, and Grace was too young to understand anyway.
Danny Williams often wondered what his life would be like if he had ever managed to meet his Favoured Mate. After falling in love once so completely, he wondered what “lightning in a room” felt like.
In 2010, Danny Williams finally found out.
Chapter 1: Steve
Steven James McGarrett was born on Saturday, April 9, 1977, at 8:05am in Honolulu Hawaii. His parents Doris and John McGarrett named their first born child after John’s father, who was killed on the USS Arizona during the Pearl Harbor attack.
Steve was an exceptionally serene child.
When Steve was eight years old, he crashed badly in a surfing accident, and broke his right arm in three places. He ended up in a cast from wrist to shoulder for eight weeks, and in a sling for six more. He also developed a scar on his right shoulder. A white, geometric scar, not quite an inch long. An elongated, house-shaped pentagon connected to three stars. A Soul Scar.
In Hawaii, matters of spirituality are taken very seriously. Children are told the old stories at home, in the churches and temples, and in school. When Steve’s father noticed the scar, Steve was taken to a tribal elder, Mamo Kahike, to be instructed in the legends of the Favoured Ones. Mamo would become one of Steve’s most trusted friends and advisors. Mamo had a daughter who was a Favoured One, but she never found her Mate.
When Steve was seven years old, his sister, Mary Ann, was born. Steve was a devoted and protective older brother.
In 1993, while Steve and Mary Ann were preparing dinner, Doris’ car was struck in an intersection and she was killed. Steve’s father was devastated. In his grief, John McGarrett sent his two children to the mainland proper to live with relatives, ultimately splitting them up. Mary Ann went to California to live with John’s sister Deb, and Steve went to Maryland to live with an old friend of Doris, Joe White.
In 1995, Steve entered the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland with plans to join the Navy. He studied hard, to show his father how good he could be, and in 1999, an opportunity to train for the elite SEALS came to him, and Steve joined the training class. He became the ideal candidate. The intense training strengthened his mind and body, but distanced him from his family further. He wrote frequently to his sister and aunt in California, but only occasionally to his father.
In 2005, Steve began training with Naval Intelligence. While serving on board the USS John Kennedy, he met Lt. Catherine Rollins, a fellow Intelligence Officer. When her eyes met his, Steve felt a jolt of shock. It was slight feeling, nowhere near as powerful as he was led to believe what he would feel upon meeting his Favoured Mate, but Steve allowed that perhaps the old stories could have exaggerated. The attraction was very mutual.
Steve and Catherine began a very intimate relationship. While he wasn’t certain he was in love, he cared deeply for Catherine. He never did, however, find a corresponding scar on her body. And he never pointed out his own. While in Japan, on assignment, Steve took the opportunity to have a tattoo placed on his shoulder, nearly covering his Scar. The Mystic Eye distracted, but did not quite cover the Scar. Soul Scars could never be covered or destroyed completely. Still, Catherine never took the time to look closely enough to see it, or if she did she never mentioned it.
In 2010, while Steve and his team were rounding up a terrorist group in Afghanistan, the brother of a man in his custody killed Steve’s father while Steve listened over a satellite phone connection. It was an act of personal terrorism and revenge, and Steve vowed to bring that man to justice in any way he could. Steve returned to Hawaii for his father’s funeral, and ran afoul of the detective who was investigating his father’s death.
Steve didn’t understand the heavy feeling of tension upon first meeting Detective Daniel Williams, but he put it to frustration about lack of progress in the case. For his own part, Williams looked rather shell-shocked at coming face to face with the son of the victim at the crime scene. Williams also looked shell-shocked when Steve called the Governor and took reins of a new Task Force, and removed Williams from the case.
Still, Steve couldn’t quite understand why he felt itchy when in the presence of the detective. He needed Williams for his knowledge of his father’s case, but proximity to the man was an irritant to Steve. Perhaps it was just a personality conflict.
Chapter 2: Danny
Danny Williams was pissed.
Deeply and truly pissed.
He had wasted three days to get approval for a warrant on a person of interest in his latest homicide case, all because a few of his “fellow” officers mis-filed some of his paperwork. Just trying to “help”, he was sure. So he couldn’t serve the warrant until the next day, at the soonest.
He just didn’t understand. The deceased was a former police officer in the same department that Danny now served. One would think that those officers would want to solve this case. Were they upset that a mainlander was assigned? Or was there something deeper? By all accounts, John McGarrett was a good cop. He had a high solve-rate. He was well-liked in the community. Well, at least in his neighborhood. There was some evidence that in the final years of his service McGarrett was acting shifty. If he was working a case, no-one at the department knew about it.
Danny decided to take another look around the crime scene. The funeral was earlier that day. Danny didn’t attend. Conflict of interest and besides— Danny didn’t know the man. So, Danny pulled his car into the drive at McGarrett’s house and made to walk into the house.
The crime scene tape was broken.
Danny stopped and listened. He heard movement and voices coming from the garage. Pulling his weapon from its holster, Danny approached cautiously, and confronted a tall, dark-haired man carrying a red toolbox.
And lightning filled the room.
Danny shook, then recovered quickly. Now was not the time.
“Put your hands up!” Danny leveled his gun at the man, who raised a weapon of his own.
“Who are you?”
“Who am I?”
“Yeah, who are you?” responded the Dark-haired man.
“I’m the police. That’s who I am. Put the gun down and drop the toolbox.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“I don’t care. Put the gun and the toolbox down, and put your hands up.”
“Let me see your ID.”
“How about you put down your gun and show me your ID.”
“How about the same time,” says Dark-hair.
“What, like on the count of three or something?”
“Yeah. Count of three.”
Danny reached behind him for his ID placket, but kept his gun leveled at Dark-hair. The strange man lowered the toolbox and reached into his own pocket. Danny flipped open the placket and showed a shiny badge and photo identification.
“Detective Daniel Williams, HPD. This is my crime scene.”
Dark-hair lowered his gun. “Lt. Commander Steve McGarrett. This is my father’s home.”
Danny lowered his own gun. “Look, man, I’m sorry for your loss. But this is an active crime scene, and I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”
“It doesn’t look that active to me.”
Danny sighed. He had never considered meeting the family of the victim he was investigating, and now he was in the worst possible way. Not good.
“I know how things look, but I can assure you that I am doing my level best to find who killed your father. So, please, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”
“Okay,” says Dark-hair—Steve. And he picked up the toolbox again. “I’ll be on my way then, and leave you to it.”
“Um, no. You’re going to have to leave the toolbox.”
“This? This is mine.”
“No. That is evidence. I can see where the dust was displaced when you picked it up. It’s part of my crime scene, and you have to leave it here.”
“Just a moment.”
And Danny stood and watched as Steve McGarrett calmly pulled his phone from his pocket and dialed.
And proceeded to again shock Danny.
Steve took over his crime scene as part of some Governor’s Task Force.
Again, Danny’s head was swimming. His Scar was throbbing, though that was probably only in his mind. Danny walked out of the garage and toward his own car. The further away he got from Steve McGarrett, the more clearly he could think. Of course, now that he finally met who could possibly be his Favoured Mate, the further away he got from the man, the more bereft Danny felt.
From lightning-in-a-room to hollow-and-empty in less than five minutes. He shook his head as he climbed into his car. This was not the way Aunt Maggie told him it worked. They were supposed to feel instantly connected. They were supposed to feel like their missing pieces were found.
Danny drove first to the precinct to tell his captain that he was officially off the case, then to his apartment for a much-needed beer or three. But first, he called Grace. He needed to hear her voice.
“Danno? Why are you calling me? We’re still having dinner tomorrow, right?”
“Yeah, Monkey, we are. I just had a really hard day, and I needed to cheer up for a bit. You’re the best way to do that.”
Danny’s time in Hawaii wasn’t easy by any means. He was far from his family. He didn’t have his daughter every day. His wife was married to someone else.
Danny still loved his work, but sometimes the stress got to him.
The stress had gotten to his daughter as well.
Grace was now in therapy. Sometimes Danny and Rachel would have to attend sessions with her, but mostly Grace needed a safe place to talk about how the divorce was affecting her.
Danny hated it.
Not the therapy, just the need for it.
During the divorce proceedings, Danny tried to keep things civil. But Rachel tried to tell the judge that her marriage was built on a lie—because Danny was Favoured—and that he really didn’t mean to stay committed to her or their child. She twisted their courtship around and flat-out made up lies, and all Danny could do was insist that he did love Rachel when they wed, and that he’d always love Grace.
And he proved that at least when he moved thousands of miles away from his life so that he could spend time with Grace when time permitted.
And how did Rachel repay his loyalty? By over-scheduling his daughter with after-school activities and tutoring sessions, and taking his precious little time with Grace away.
Grace started lying about attending the lessons. She began running away to Danny when she should have been at the Country Club. She became quite the accomplished forger, and had a pile of “signed” permission slips for her tutors so that they would allow her to leave. Danny was livid when he found out. Rachel was even more so. So Danny went back to the courts, and pled his case that he needed more time with Grace, and that too much time apart was only hurting his child.
Surprisingly, Stan Edwards, Grace’s step-father, was on Danny’s side. So, Grace went into therapy, and Danny got more time with his daughter.
Lots more time, now that he was off the McGarrett case.
Instead of drinking his misery away, Danny enjoyed a long chat with his daughter, strengthening the promise of dinner together the following evening. Then he called his Aunt Maggie. Because seriously he needed to talk about what happened, and regardless of the time difference he knew she would listen and would understand.
And after his talk, Danny pulled out his sofa bed and lay down. Rain had begun to pour down, and the soft sound against his window lulled him to sleep.
Chapter 2: Steve
Lt. Commander Steven McGarrett’s life imploded with the sound of a single gunshot echoing over a phone connection.
Since his teens, Steve had not been close to his father, but he had always tried to reach out. Hearing his father’s voice; hearing his father calling him “Champ” and telling him not to give in to terrorists—Steve was all but wrecked. In that one moment, he knew his life had changed irreversibly. He now had a new mission: Avenge John McGarrett and bring to justice Victor Hesse.
Meeting the Governor of Hawaii at his father’s funeral was a mild surprise. John and Doris were never, to Steve’s knowledge, political beings. Still, John was a decorated police officer, so it made sense that the Governor would know of him at least. Her offer of a job ridding “her” island of criminal terrorists was more of a surprise. Still, as much as he knew he was going to hunt down Hesse, Steve informed her that once that was done he would be returning to the Navy and his position with the SEALs.
Meeting Chin Ho Kelly, his father’s old police partner was also a surprise. Especially since Kelly seemed to be not with the Honolulu Police Department any longer. Still Steve was glad to have made contact with the man. It was one more connection to his father that Steve would cherish.
After the funeral, Steve made the decision to go to his father’s house to see if he could find trace of Hesse and possible clues to the man’s whereabouts. Steve understood that the police were investigating. The Governor told him as much, as well as assuring him that the best officer was on the job, but Steve knew Hesse best. He had been chasing the Hesse brothers across the globe for years.
And also, Steve had heard Victor Hesse kill his father.
Steve needed to see the place where his father died. He needed that closure. He needed to see if he could find what the police might miss.
Like that old rusty toolbox with the word “Champ” barely painted in black on top.
Steve’s father never called him anything other than “Steve”. Nicknames were not a McGarrett thing. So Steve got lost searching the toolbox and listening to the recorder that was hidden within, and he totally didn’t hear another person enter the garage until he heard “Put your hands up!”
Perhaps it was his grief that caused the tightening in his chest.
Could also have been his frustration in lack of progress in his father’s case.
Steve turned, drawing his own weapon, and faced a very irritated blond man, and he.
His chest burned, like he couldn’t get air, and he saw red a bit as he faced the police officer who claimed to be handling his father’s case.
“The crime scene doesn’t look too active to me,” he said to the blond. Danny Williams.
Not from Hawaii, obviously. Who wears a tie in Hawaii?
And the man was mad enough to chew iron and spit nails—although, yes, Steve was technically trespassing on a crime scene. But the non-action was irritating.
The blond man was irritating.
Irritating enough that Steve pulled out his phone and called the Governor, swearing-in over the phone line, and found himself the new “leader” of the Governor’s own personal Major Crime Taskforce.
And the only member, truth be told, but Steve could fix that later once he had all the files on the open case.
And he hefted his toolbox of clues, and stomped past Williams, walking into the darkening day to begin his own investigation.
Steve would never admit to anyone else, but sometimes his brash, take-no-hostages instincts could be his own worst enemy. He often flew into situations by the seat of his pants, consequences be damned. Mostly he got lucky and things worked out in his favor.
Mainly because he was Marked.
Okay, only because he was Marked.
Luck, as god-given to him, was his main secret weapon, and he used it well.
His team mates in the SEALs just thought themselves talented and lucky. None of them ever knew about his Mark. None of his superior officers knew about it. It was a non-issue, as far as Steve was concerned. He just dove in, got the job done, and got out. And for each success, he added ink to his body. His elaborate tattoos told of a good, successful career.
They did not tell about the headaches, the trials that his actions led to.
Like the headache he had now, looking over the files on his father’s case, as he realized that Detective Daniel Williams really was a good officer, and a great investigator, and he had made much more progress than Steve had thought possible.
And nobody else at HPD had a clue about Williams’ progress, because the man worked alone. So, nobody else at HPD was able to answer Steve’s questions about the new warrant that Williams was getting ready to serve, or why it was important.
Steve would have to go directly to the source.
Well, the Governor told Steve that he would have every advantage and privilege available, including the ability to bring in Taskforce members of his own choosing. Williams was going to be Steve’s new partner, whether he liked it or not.
And Steve had no idea why that idea made him itch.
Steve ran through the rain toward the small apartment building, holding a small pile of files over his head as cover. Under the awning of apartment 2B, Steve pounded on the door, hoping to be heard above the storm. The door swung open, and a confused and disgruntled Danny Williams stood in front of him.
“What do you want?”
Steve shouldered his way into the dingy apartment, and he looked around carefully.
Neat kitchen, tidy living room with a pull-out bed, side-table with a photo of a young girl framed delicately on top. Down a short hall, Steve could see two open doors; one leading to a small bathroom, the other leading to a bedroom. Since the pull-out was obviously in use, Steve assumed the bedroom was for the girl.
He turned to face Danny. “I talked to your captain at HPD. He said you’re like the best officer that he’s seen in a very long time. He told me about your solve-rate, and how fortunate it was that you were the one working on my father’s case. Then he gave me your files.”
The disgruntled blond frowned up at Steve and said, “Yeah, well, it’s your case now, right? That’s what you said?”
“Yes, it is. And I noticed that you were waiting to serve a warrant on some guy named Durant.”
Steve walked over to the side table and picked up the photo frame. “Is this your daughter? She’s very cute.”
“Thank you. Put that down. Why are you here?”
Steve turned to face the blond and again tried to ignore the charge in the air and the itch on his skin. “I need you to tell me about Durant and why he’s important to Victor Hesse. The Governor gave me privilege and means, and I’m making you my partner.”
“Do I get a choice in this?”
Steve smirked. “Nope. I need the best. You are the best. Come on, you drive.”
“Where are we going?” Danny asked, even as he grabbed his wallet and keys.
“We’re going to serve that warrant. On the way, you can get me up to speed on your investigation.”
“This is going to be a disaster, I just know it. You know nothing about proper police procedures.”
“That’s why you’re my partner now, Williams. You get to teach me all you know.”
Serving the Warrant was a disaster. Durant was drugged-up, paranoid, and armed. And he had a hostage. Steve could have tried to claim to be careful, but a cornered, paranoid junkie was dangerous, and Danny got shot. Certain Danny was alive but out of commission, Steve gave chase when Durant ran, and he again cornered the junkie in a crowded market. And again, Durant took a hostage. Just when Steve was sure that nothing good was going to come from this situation, a lone shot rang out, and Durant dropped—releasing the hostage unharmed. Steve looked up from the still but alive suspect and saw a bleeding and irritated Danny Williams stomping his way toward him.
“This is why back-up is important! You idiot! You could have gotten someone killed out here! And you did get me shot! I have dinner plans tonight, and I did not need to get shot!”
Steve glanced at Danny’s bleeding shoulder and smirked. “You only got grazed. And we got the bad guy without anyone else getting hurt. I think we did okay.”
Danny threw up his hands. “Of course you do, you moron. This is not the proper procedure for anything. We should have had back-up.”
“You are the back-up. We make a good team.”
Danny grumbled and turned away. Steve couldn’t understand the frustrated look on the other man’s face. Somehow, Steve thought their partnership was pure genius. He smiled a little bit as he cuffed Durant and dragged him to his feet. His luck was, again, proving true.
While the paramedics were getting ready to transport Durant for patching up and being questioned, Steve and Danny took several police officers to search Durant’s home and property. In a locked storage shed, they were alarmed to find a disheveled and panicky Chinese girl, obviously being held captive and bound. Thanks to Steve’s more-than-rudimentary Mandarin skills, they learned that the girl and her family paid large amounts of money to be transported out of China.
“So,” said Danny, “We know that Durant smuggles guns. And now we know that he smuggles people?”
Steve shook his head. “I doubt Durant has the brain-power to smuggle humans by himself. He possibly bought the girl from the actual smuggler.”
“So, we need to question our pal Durant and find out who that is. If Hesse got his weapon from Durant, then he may be trying to get himself smuggled off the island.”
Durant did, indeed, give over the information about a smuggler, a man named Sang Min. Durant did not know if Hesse had plans with Sang Min; he only knew that Hesse paid him a large amount of money for the gun that he used to shoot and kill John McGarrett.
After such a long and involved day, Steve and Danny parted ways: Steve to find an old contact, and Danny to get cleaned up and re-bandaged for his date.
Steve called ahead and set up a meeting with Chin Ho Kelly, who agreed to stay after his shift as a security guard at the USS Arizona Memorial. For Steve, it was a bittersweet reunion. Steve remembered Kelly as a young police recruit who was training under his father. Now, Chin was out of the police force and watching carefully over one of the island’s most precious landmarks.
“Why exactly did you leave the force, Chin?” Steve asked, curious.
“I was accused of taking a bribe. The rest of the department stood against me. Your father was retired by then, or I think he would have stood up for me.”
“Did he know you were accused?”
Chin nodded. “I told him, because he had a habit of stopping by the precinct to chat with the other officers. I didn’t want him to ask uncomfortable questions.”
“Did you do it? Did you take the money?”
Chin leveled a flat look at Steve. “No, I did not take any money.”
Steve smiled. “Okay. So join me in the new Task Force. I could use someone else with experience.”
Chin shook his head. “I don’t think the Governor will go for that; having a disgraced former cop on her new Task Force.”
“She gave me full support and discretion and means. I get to hire who I want, as long as the job gets done. My father had faith in you. I have faith in you. And clearly you aren’t happy here. Come with me and do the job you trained for.”
Chin laughed lightly. “Okay. I’ll give it a try. What do you have going on now?”
Steve suddenly got serious. “I’m investigating my father’s murder. I know who did it, because I was on the phone with him when he did it. The man’s name is Victor Hesse, and I’ve been hunting him and his brother for terrorism charges for years with my SEAL team. Danny Williams, the officer originally in charge of the investigation, had information that the gun used had come from a gun-runner named Durant. Earlier today, we served warrant on the guy, and found a Chinese slave hidden in a shed on his property. She said that she and her family and others from her village paid a lot of money to be brought to the United States for a fresh start. Danny and I think Hesse is trying to smuggle himself off the island using the same flesh smuggler that brought that girl here. Durant told us the smuggler’s name is Sang Min.”
Chin frowned. “I think I’ve heard of him. He’s into drugs and guns, that I know of. Human trafficking doesn’t really surprise me. What’s the plan?”
“Well, I’d like to send you in undercover with Sang Min, acting like you want to bring family over from China. We need leverage with this guy to find out how Hesse is getting off the island.”
Chin shook his head. “I can’t do it. I’m well known as a cop, even as an ex-cop. Sang Min might not know me on sight, but we can’t risk someone in his outfit knowing me.” Chin hummed for a moment. “I do have a cousin in the police academy. She’s getting ready to graduate, so she’s an unknown. You could probably get her to do it.”
Steve smiled. “So being a cop really is a family thing with you, huh?”
“Yeah, you could say that. My father, uncle, and several cousins. All cops. And I’m the disgraced one. Kono, the one I want you to meet, is going to have a hard time of it with the HPD. Half of my own family doesn’t talk to me anymore because of the allegations against me. Once Kono graduates, she’ll have a hard time getting and keeping a partner, and no one will really trust her, because she is the only one in the family that’s stuck by me.”
“Maybe I’ll have to offer her a job as well, if she’s as good as I remember you being.”
“Why don’t we go and meet her tomorrow. You can see for yourself.”
He got shot!
Danny marveled at the past two days.
He finally got permission to serve a warrant on a gun-runner, and managed to meet and piss-off the son of the victim he was investigating. Then he lost the whole case to said son. Said son, who just may be his Favoured Mate.
Then said son conscripts him into a new Governor’s Task Force, and he’s put back on the same damn case.
And he got shot! On the first day!
So, Danny dragged his tired ass home to shower and change his wound dressing, because he had a big dinner with Grace planned.
The thought of his daughter made him smile. She was doing well now. Therapy was good for her. She had learned to talk to both him and Rachel when things bothered her. Her grades were up again. In fact, she made the honor role this term, which is why Danny was taking her to her favorite restaurant for dinner.
And then he had to tell her about the new job that he had now—sort of a promotion.
The restaurant was not crowded, as it was still early in the week. Grace was wearing a nice skirt and blouse set, and Danny had on a tie that she had given him for Christmas. He had reserved a table with a view, so they could watch the gently-rolling tide while they ate.
Danny smiled at his daughter as she ordered her meal.
“I am so proud of you, Monkey. You’ve worked so hard to make up so much work.”
“Thank you, Danno. How come you’re moving your arm funny?”
“Well, you know that my job has some dangers. Recently, I sort of got promoted to a new Task Force to find the really bad guys. I got hurt today—not too bad, Grace, so don’t cry, okay?”
“You’re going to be okay, right?”
“Honestly, Grace, I’ll probably get into better physical shape. I spent a lot of time running today. But I’m not gonna lie to you: the bad guy had a gun, and I got shot. Not bad. The bullet just brushed my shoulder. It looks like your leg did when you fell and skinned your knee. But this Task Force is a big deal. It’s not gonna be traffic tickets and jaywalkers. I’ll be doing some really good work, I think.”
Grace smiled. “I’m proud of you too, Danno.”
Their food arrived, and they busied themselves with eating. And talking about Grace’s lessons.
“We’re learning about Favoured Ones in school now. We got to see photos of some of the Favoured Marks. One of the kids in my class, Tommy, said he has a Mark on his elbow, and that means he’s Favoured. But I don’t think it’s a real Mark.”
Danny considered his daughter for a moment. She was an intelligent and gentle girl. She was, in fact, shaping up to be one fine young woman. She held her family in high regard, and at the age of ten years she tried to never disappoint. That was why the therapy was so hard on everyone. Danny thought that she was mature enough to handle the truth of his own mark. He carefully scooted his chair closer to hers and removed his watch. He held out his arm to her.
“Does Tommy’s scar look like this?” And Danny showed his daughter the scar he’d been hiding since he was twelve years old.
Grace looked closely, her eyes growing bigger and bigger. “No, Danno, Tommy’s scar is round and bumpy. Is yours real?”
Danny laughed softly. “Yeah, mine is real. It developed when I was eight.”
“Can I tell Tommy you have a real Mark?”
“No, Grace, I’d really rather you didn’t. My family has kind of kept it as a family secret my whole life, waiting until I met my Favoured Mate.”
“But mommy wasn’t yours?”
Danny sighed. He’d have to majorly apologize to Rachel for this. “No, baby. Your mom is not my Favoured Mate.”
Grace looked sharply at him, her thumb still stroking over his scar. “Does mommy know about the Mark?”
“Yes, she knows about it. I could never keep something like this from your mother. I loved her very much, and I wanted to marry her, so I thought it was only fair that I tell her about the Mark. It was a risk, marrying someone who I wasn’t Matched to, but I really loved her. I figured I’d let her make the decision if she wanted to risk it or not, and at the time she decided that we were worth the risk.”
“But you got divorced. Does that mean that getting married was a mistake?”
Danny sighed. “Oh, Gracie Baby, I will never think that getting married to your mom was a mistake. I got you out of that marriage, and you are the best thing I ever did. But things about the marriage were hard on your mom. I’m a cop, and I already explained how dangerous that is. And, yes, me being Favoured was hard on her. I think she kept expecting me to meet my Mate during work, so she kept looking for that. But I had a feeling that I would not meet my Mate while living there, or while I was married, and I didn’t. But the worry was hard on her. I guess I don’t blame her for worrying after a while. All the stories say you shouldn’t ignore the Marks, because nothing good comes of it. I just had a feeling that it wouldn’t be a problem, and I fell in love and hoped that love was enough.”
Grace frowned. “My therapist says love isn’t always enough to keep people happy.”
“No, sometimes it’s not. But Grace, you know that I do love you, and your mom loves you too, and we will do anything for you to keep you happy.”
“I know, Danno. Thank you for sharing your secret. I won’t tell anyone else.”
Danny smiled at his daughter. “You can tell your mom and Step-Stan that I told you, so it won’t be a secret between you.”
“Do you think you’ll find your Favoured Mate in Hawaii?”
Danny swallowed deeply. “We’ll see, Grace. You never know.”
No need to bring all of that up right now. He still had a case pending, and Steve seemed oblivious about the whole thing anyway.
The next day, Danny and Steve met Chin on Oahu’s North Shore so they could meet Chin’s younger cousin. The place was packed with surfers, observers, and surf-junkies, all of which were staring openly at Danny and his neatly tied tie and button-down shirt. Chin directed their attention out toward the large waves, and a lithe brunette in a bold yellow bikini riding high on a large wave until some laughing yahoo rode in front of her and knocked her off her board. Danny and Steve both winced as she went down, and they carefully watched as she swam her board into shore.
Danny noticed that her attention was caught as a deep frown filled her face, and he narrowed his attention toward her to see what she was up to. The thin brunette marched over to a large-muscled man carrying his own surf-board. Danny watched as she yelled something at him, and then gaped in shock as the girl drew back her arm and nailed the surfer with a hard right-hook.
Chin nudged Danny’s shoulder, and Danny turned to find the older man looking at him with disapproval.
“See anything you like?”
Danny laughed and nodded toward the girl, who was approaching them quickly. “I will never in my life be either that graceful or that scary.”
Chin grinned at him, and Danny felt like maybe he just passed some test. Then the surfer-girl reached them and greeted Chin with a wet hug. Chin introduced her as Kono Kalakaua, his cousin who was soon to graduate the police academy. Danny shook her hand and complimented her on her right-hook.
Steve introduced himself, and explained about the Task Force and the assignment that he’d like to give her if she felt up to the task.
She was up to the task, and a plan was formed. Kono would contact Sang Min that day and arrange to meet him that evening, telling him that she wanted to arrange to have family members brought over from China on the down-low. Steve, Chin, and Danny would listen in on the transaction from a forensic van. Kono didn’t look like a cop, so she would be a good bet for the deal. They would be using sonar-listening, so she wouldn’t have to be wired. That would lend her more credibility in case she was searched. They would need to get Sang Min on tape admitting to human trafficking so they would have leverage to get the info on Hesse.
Danny sighed to himself.
This whole thing was going to cause him undue stress. And he had just promised his daughter that he would be safe and careful.
Sang Min sang like a little bird once he figured out that Steve had him dead-to-rights on the human trafficking. He told them that Hesse was going to try to ship out of Hawaii on a freighter bound for China the following morning. Unfortunately, the freighter was Chinese and was legally out of Steve’s jurisdiction. He made a call to the Coast Guard, telling them that there was a wanted man possibly on the ship, but they had no true probable cause to search the vessel. So Steve was on his own.
Well, he had a partner now. And Steve was not going to allow Hesse to get away from him again.
Steve told Chin to keep the Coast Guard on stand-by in case they flushed-out Hesse. Then he grabbed Danny’s keys and told Danny to get in his car. They were headed to the pier to catch the ship before they made it into international waters.
Danny sputtered about not driving his own vehicle, but Steve was on a mission and he was better trained at offensive driving. Plus Danny’s Camero was a sweet ride!
Still, Danny convinced Steve to appropriate a police cruiser from the motor pool, so they would have sirens and lights available to clear traffic on the way to the docks.
But as they got closer to the pier, it became apparent that the ship had already begun to move into open waters. They were several yards away from the docks and moving fast. Steve saw a loading ramp being moved from the edge of the dock, and he turned the car toward it.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!!! What are you doing? You are not going to jump this car!”
“I have this, Danny! I know we can make it! I can’t let Hesse Get away!”
“You may not have a choice, Steve. That ship is moving, and it’s full of Chinese sailors and possible smugglers, and we are not. Going. To. Make. It!”
“The hell we aren’t!”
Steve mashed down the gas pedal, and the car shot forward. They hit the ramp at high velocity and launched into the air, hitting the deck of the freighter hard as they landed. Steve opened his door, and was almost immediately besieged by gun-fire.
He looked over to Danny, who had already drawn his weapon. “I need to find Hesse! Hold them off best that you can!”
As he ran around the car and sidled up to a shipping container, he heard Danny yell something about him being a lunatic.
And maybe he was. But he was dead-set on this mission.
A shot rang out from above him, and a bullet swept past his arm and into the deck. Steve looked up and saw Victor Hesse on top of the shipping container looking down at him. Steve ducked behind the container and looked for the ladder to the top. He had his query in his sights now; Steve wasn’t about to let Hesse go, and he wasn’t going to get shot in the process. As he climbed the metal rungs, Steve heard close gun-fire and he hoped that Danny could keep from getting shot again. As annoying as the smaller man might be, Steve would hate to lose him as a partner now. For some reason, having Danny around gave Steve the feeling that he could do anything, no matter how seemingly impossible.
Another bullet buzzed by Steve’s ear, and he looked up quickly, spying Hesse several containers away, rocking with the motion of the moving vessel. Balancing on his knees, Steve took careful aim and shot, hitting Hesse in the shoulder and knocking him off the container. Steve looked down, and found Danny standing over a fallen gunman. There were several men on the floor around the car, but Danny looked alright. As Steve ran to the farthest container, he saw several Coast Guard boats off the side of the ship. Looking over the edge of the container, Steve saw that Hesse had been knocked into the water and was being removed by Coast Guard officers.
Steve let out a deep sigh.
Hesse was caught.
Hesse was caught, and Steve found himself in charge of a Major Crime Task Force.
He couldn’t quit now, now that he’d given his word. He had a partner now, and two new employees. They were counting on him.
So was the Governor.
As Steve walked slowly back to the car, and to Danny, he resolved to call his commander in the Navy and request to go on Reserves. He could flat-out retire now, if he wanted, but he enjoyed his service.
For now, though, Steve would build up this Task Force and learn about civilian law enforcement. He’d learn from Chin and Danny. He’d watch Kono become a good officer.
And maybe he’d figure out why he itched all over every time he was near Danny.
Chapter 3: Steve
Governor Jameson was so surprised at the actual capture of Victor Hesse that she agreed to defray the cost of the damaged police cruiser. She congratulated Steve on his capture and arrest of the man who killed his father, and on forming such a fine and unique team. She didn’t say one word against Chin, nor did she argue that Kono was too young and inexperienced. She merely gave him keys to a suite in the Alii’olani Hale building and told him it would be outfitted as his new headquarters. Steve made arrangements for the whole team to meet there two-days hence and they went their separate ways to arrange for their new jobs. At the very least, Kono had to make herself ready for her Police Academy graduation.
Steve went back to his hotel and placed a call to his commanding officer, asking to be placed on permanent Reserves. This way, he could still serve in the SEALs in emergency situations, but would remain as the head of the new Task Force.
The New Task Force.
He really needed to find a name for them. They were a team now, and they should have a special designation.
Steve also placed a call to Catherine, who was still at sea onboard the USS Kennedy. She was surprised that he would be staying on in the civilian world, but agreed that it would be easier for them to be together if one of them had a permanent base. She agreed to meet up with him during her next leave.
Then Steve began thinking about his future in Hawaii. He was happy here as a child, until his mother was killed. He thought he could possibly be happy here again. He hadn’t heard from his family in a while. His sister hadn’t come for his father’s funeral. Steve missed her deeply. Despite their age difference, they were close when they were children. Their mother’s death had torn apart their family. Steve’s father went deep into depression and despair. Mary Ann withdrew into herself. Steve threw himself into school, and then into Navy training. He wanted to make his father proud somehow, maybe so he would ask Steve and Mary Ann to come home.
In the end, when Steve spoke to his father for the very last time, Steve knew that his father was proud of him. And perhaps he was sorry to have sent his children so far away. But Steve had the memory of his father telling him that he had done a good job—had grown up so well.
That he was proud.
Steve needed a place to live, and now he co-owned his father’s house with his sister. Mary Ann might never come back to the island, but Steve could at least make the house livable. He would have to clean away the evidence of his father’s murder, but the house would still be in very good shape. Steve’s father was always house-proud. Maybe the appliances could be up-dated, but it could become home again.
Two days later, Steve met with his new team in the large new headquarters they were given. Glass-enclosed offices, and a large meeting space, all filled with boxes and un-crated furniture. Chin, Kono, and Danny were all there, wide-eyed and excited. Well, Kono and Chin at least looked excited. Danny looked….resigned. Like he was waiting for another shoe to drop. Since Steve did sort of hi-jack his life and job, Steve guessed he really couldn’t blame the man. Steve joined the others as they stared at their new high-tech information table, which Chin was almost drooling over.
“Alright, everybody! It looks like everything is labeled so why don’t we pick our offices and get this place set up to our liking!”
Chin looked at him and smiled so wide. “This computer table is the latest thing. I can’t believe we have a command center! I’m claiming this. Nobody else gets to touch it while I’m setting up.”
“Fair enough, since I have no idea how it works. I guess I’ll take the office in the right corner.” Steve gestured toward the office with the windows facing the main street. “The bookshelves will come in handy for me, since I apparently have a lot of learning to do.”
Chin laughed at him. “I’ll bring in some of my old Academy texts. I’m sure Kono will loan you any new information that has come to light since she joined the Academy. Personally, I’m all about putting a desk out here near the tech table, but I can see the advantages of an actual office. If only for questioning or comforting persons of interest. Now, let me show you the wonders of this beautiful table.”
Steve took his place beside Chin as the older man began uploading the police protocol software for their office. The set up was almost as good as what he’d used while working with Naval Intelligence, but he really wasn’t down-playing his own lack of technical knowledge. Steve was more of the ‘physical action’ type, and he was happy leaving computer searches to people like Catherine. He was perfectly able to take the information given to him and make it work to get the job done, but he could barely make e-mail work most of the time by himself.
While Kono and Danny busied themselves with unpacking desk-tops and text books, each having chosen their own spaces, Chin and Steve made themselves familiar with the Tech Table. Steve was relieved to see a manageable keyboard, like a regular computer, so he was confident that he could learn to use it.
Or maybe he’d leave it to Chin.
Chin looked up from an installation guide and grinned. “I’m really not surprised that this whole thing has fallen together so easily.”
“What do you mean?”
“Aren’t Favoured Ones supposed to bring good fortune and luck to their tribes?”
Steve graced Chin with a blank look.
Chin sighed. “Your father told me about your Mark when I first started working with him. He didn’t make a big deal out of it. He just said that I’d have to work really hard to become a good cop, because everything wouldn’t just fall into place for me like it would for you someday.”
Steve sighed and shook his head. “We never made it a secret, Chin, but I don’t really talk about it. According to my Navy medical records, I have a scar on my shoulder, but the records make no mention that it’s a Favoured Mark. The size and shape aren’t even mentioned there. I don’t tell people, because it just didn’t matter.”
“What do you mean, it doesn’t matter? What about finding your Favoured Mate?”
Steve sighed. “I didn’t meet anyone when I was a kid. I never met anyone while in the Naval Academy, or SEAL training. The only person I really felt a connection with is Catherine Rollins, and I only feel sort of comfortable with her.”
“But your father told me about your service record. Don’t look so surprised, Steve. John was so proud of you, and he was sure that good fortune would find you.”
“Fat lot of good the Mark did, then. Dad got killed because of a hunt I was on for the Hesse brothers. Maybe if I had my Mate, then things would have turned out differently.”
Chin leaned back against the Table. “Have you even tried to find your Mate?”
Steve sighed. “Honestly, I wouldn’t know how to go about doing that. Short of taking a photo of my Mark and sending it out on all sorts of questionable dating sites, there is no real way to ‘hunt’ for a Favoured Mate. I’m just supposed to ‘feel’ like I met the right one.”
“And you never have?”
“I felt a little jolt when I met Catherine, but nothing earth-moving. And I never noticed a Mark on her anywhere. And believe me, I did look.”
Chin laughed. “I don’t know enough about them to know how it’s supposed to work, either. I just know the stories: When the Marks match up, you don’t ignore them. And good fortune and luck fall to the tribe, so everyone benefits.”
“Yeah, well, I’ve been all over the world—granted not always in the best circumstances. But, still, you’d figure that I would have had a sign by now. I have Catherine, and that’s enough for me.”
“You’ll have to introduce us to this woman, if she’s wonderful enough for you to give up a Mate Search.”
“Maybe I will, if she shows up for leave sometime soon. Now, let’s get back to this Table. I talked with the Governor the other day, and she’d like us to look into some cold cases from HPD.”
And with that, Chin was off and running, and the topic of Steve’s Favoured Mark was gone. It wasn’t that Steve had never wanted to find his Mate. When he was a teenager, there never seemed to be hurry for it. Then his mother died, and his father sent him away from home, and finding a Mate took a secondary position to his Naval career.
And he did sort of take pains to keep the Mark from other people. Even Catherine was never specifically shown his Mark. Steve got his first tattoo over that area shortly after meeting her, and he had other tattoos by then so one more wasn’t noticed.
Imagine that: A sailor with tattoos. It was practically a rite of passage. So Catherine never mentioned the Mark, even if she had noticed it. And Steve had never personally mentioned it to her because it hadn’t seemed important to their relationship.
And right now, Steve had plenty to keep him occupied. All around him, his new team were settling into their new offices. He had potential new cases to work on, as well as a plethora of procedure to learn. He was sure Danny and Chin would combust if he didn’t learn the art of Back-up soon.
And Danny was also on his mind right now.
Steve still itched when he was near the other man, and he had no idea why. His intuition told him that he could trust Danny. And Danny surely would not try to engage in dangerous pursuits, if only because of his daughter. Steve still hadn’t given a proper apology for getting Danny shot the first day they worked together, and then Steve pulled that stunt with driving a cruiser over a ramp and onto a moving freighter.
Danny might never forgive him.
Which gave Steve a wonderful idea.
Danny decided that he might as well stick with the Task Force for now. If for no other reason than they were all a bunch of misfits, and he might actually get some for-real teamwork going with this group. That alone beat out being ignored or maligned by his own fellow officers at HPD. There were only two officers who really gave Danny any type of regard while he worked there: Duke Lukela, a sergeant in HPD who regularly provided much needed support for Danny while in the field, and Meka Hanamoa, who was Danny’s first temporary partner and (as far as Danny was concerned) the only decent cop Danny worked with.
In fact, Danny was still in regular contact with Meka, because Grace was friends with his son, David.
And, Danny supposed, the new digs were pretty nice. Several floors above City offices and down the road from HPD, they were close enough to be part of the police force, but far enough away to be a separate entity. Still, there were cops in and out of the building all day long, for official business, and none of them had a problem giving both Danny and Chin the stink-eye. Danny needed to know what that was all about.
So, on the second day of ‘unpacking-the-new-office’, Danny asks Chin to do a coffee run with him. Their break-room is Danny’s favorite part of the office. No old, worn-out vending machines here. No, they had a nice fridge system, two microwave ovens, an actual oven/range, and a state-of-the-art coffee machine. And the GOOD coffee. And real cream—none of that powdered stuff. And plain white ceramic mugs or paper travel cups. Danny was going to have to bring in a mug from home as a personal touch. Grace had made him one in art class a few years ago.
As they poured coffee for their team-mates, Danny turned to Chin and spoke the thoughts that he had turning over in his head all day.
“Look, Chin, I don’t want to bring any badness into our new relationship, but…..I gotta know: What is up with you and HPD? I only ask because they seem to hate you more than they hate me, and they hate me a lot.”
Chin regarded Danny closely for a moment before speaking. “They dislike you because you’re Hao’le—an outsider. It’s not a nice word, usually used to mean mainlander interloper. The locals use it a lot in regards to tourists who don’t respect the Islands.”
Danny nodded bitterly. “Yeah, I’ve heard that word. Never knew what it meant, but I knew it wasn’t nice.”
“It’s not. And it’s not really fair, either. I’ve had a peek at your closure record. There is no way you’re that good a cop and you don’t respect the Island and the people here. The cops in HPD don’t like me because of an Internal issue. While I was a regular cop, after Steve’s dad retired, there was an issue of money gone missing. There was a rumor that I had taken a bribe—which I didn’t and it could never be proven otherwise—and that, coupled with missing money, well, let’s say the department decided that I was dirty.”
“With no proof? That’s just wrong, man.”
Chin huffed. “No, what’s wrong is that I have a family full of cops, and they all found it really easy to believe the rumors as well. That’s why I’m glad Kono is here instead of HPD. She’s the only family really—besides her mother—who kept in contact with me after I left the force. Because of that, she never would have been given a fair shake with HPD.”
Danny frowned. “They would have treated her like they treated me. Lost reports, no back-up, missing witness statements. Man, I thought Newark PD was bad. The whole ‘force is a family’ thing isn’t always good, you know?”
“That I do, bruddah!”
Danny pondered his new team while they carried the coffee back into the main office. One newly graduated rookie with a danger streak, one misplaced Navy SEAL, and two mostly mistrusted veterans.
And while he was nervous working so closely with Steve, he could admit to feeling a Bond forming with the man. It was a distant bond—almost tentative, but it was there. Danny felt more at ease while in the same room as Steve than anywhere else, even his own apartment.
Unfortunately, the same could not be said for Steve.
Danny frowned to himself as he walked into his new office, intent on setting up his own files and computer. Steve seemed to want to be anywhere except where Danny was. When they were in the same room, the usually composed SEAL was uncommonly fidgety. That could not be normal. Danny wanted to find someone, other than his Aunt Maggie, who was more of an expert on Favoured Ones. He had never heard of a pair intentionally disregarding the bond, but he supposed it could happen.
So either Danny was being outright rejected, or Steve was clueless about the bond forming.
Nah—that couldn’t be it. Steve was an intelligent person. He could not have gained the rank and experience with the Navy if he were a stupid person.
Danny set his coffee cup on his desk and sat down, reaching into a box beside the desk for some files he wanted to review. A flash of white on his desk drew his attention, and Danny looked up to find a plain white envelope in the middle of his blotter. He picked it up and opened it, finding inside two passes for the Dolphin Swim at the Kahala Resort.
These were not cheap, nor were they easy to come by as reservations needed to be made very early.
A throat clearing had Danny turning to face his office door, where Steve was leaning against the open door jam.
“I figured I really owed you an apology for getting you shot that first day. The tickets come with an over-night stay and dinner. Take your daughter and have a fun day, on me, as way of apology.”
Danny frowned and brandished the envelope. “If you really want to apologize, and mean it, never put me in that position again. We have badges now. Well, I always had one, but now you do, too. Use the privilege of being an officer of the law, and call for back-up. And wait for said back-up. And then you can reduce the risk of anyone being shot.”
Steve smirked at him!
“I can’t prevent criminals from shooting at us, Danny.”
“No, but more officers can greatly reduce the risk of criminals being that stupid. But, thank you for the tickets. They were unnecessary, but they will be appreciated.”
And Danny watched as Steve began to fidget again. “Are you okay? You seem jittery.”
“No, I’m fine. Just, I guess, anxious to get this team started, you know?”
“Yeah, I get it. But we should use the time between terrorists to get you and Kono up to speed on proper procedures, as well as weapons qualified.”
“I’m a Navy SEAL, Danny; I know how to handle weapons.”
Danny raised one eyebrow sardonically. “You know how to handle weapons the Navy way. Civilian police have different qualifications. Just like they have different driver’s licenses for different vehicle use.”
Steve nodded abruptly. “Right, I’ll get right on that. Um, I wanted to run something by you. I want to move back into my father’s house. I know it needs work right now, but what do you think of maybe working on it as a team-building exercise?”
“What, you mean have your new Task Force do all the dirty work renovating your house? I think it would not be such a bad idea. Make sure the crime lab is finished there, and then call a Scene Clean-up agency to make sure the area where your father died is cleaned really well. There is no way you should have to do that by yourself.”
“Yeah, I can do that. Do you have the number of a good agency?”
“Yeah. It’s a dirty job, but the agency that HPD usually calls in is really good. Want me to call for you, since it was originally my case?”
Steve smiled in relief. “That would be nice, thanks. Sooner the better, so I can get out of the hotel, you know?”
Danny was actually impressed that he hadn’t gone completely around the bend in the month that he was with the Five-0 Task Force.
Yeah—Five-0, for the Fiftieth State of the Union. Something Steve’s dad had come up with long ago that Danny still hadn’t figured out. But they had a name, and shiny new badges with ‘Five-0’ embossed on them.
And now they had a reputation for being completely nuts.
Danny had witnessed Kono being completely bad-ass with a sniper rifle, and Chin perfecting the running-tackle that showed how well he played football back in the day, but Steve was blowing Danny’s mind.
Dangling a suspect off the edge of a roof was a fun move.
Dropping a suspect into a shark cage in the middle of the ocean was another fun move.
But the worst thing.
The really worst thing.
Steve had introduced the team to his lovely Navy Lieutenant girlfriend.
As in, ‘Hey, this is my main girl’ girlfriend.
The woman with whom Steve was romantically entangled.
The lovely Catherine Rollins was ashore for forty-eight hours, most of which Steve spent chasing suspects down winding roads in Danny’s car (and weren’t they going to talk about how Steve wouldn’t let Danny drive his own vehicle), but she did manage to have dinner with the team the night she had to leave.
And as much as Steve fidgets when Danny is in the room, Danny’s skin felt like it was trying to peel off his body when he was near Catherine.
Danny was sure that she was a wonderful person.
She just set his teeth on edge.
And Danny figured it had to be the bond.
The bond that Danny felt to his very soul, but Steve either could not feel or was ignoring.
So, that was last week. And this week, Steve said “Since I let the team meet my important woman, how about you let the team meet your important woman”, and invited Danny and Grace to join the team at a local high school football game.
It was a big deal game, like homecoming, but the two teams had a major rivalry going back for many years so it was going to be crowded.
Grace was going to love it.
Rachel had to be convinced, because it really wasn’t Danny’s weekend to have Grace, but Grace put on her pout and Rachel gave in.
And really, the team knew Danny had a daughter. They saw her photos on his desk. He talked about her all the time.
And he talked to Grace about his team-mates all the time.
So, on this fine Saturday, Danny held tight to Grace’s hand as they negotiated the crowd in the stadium while looking for the section Steve said they would be sitting in. He spotted Kono first, as she was turned toward them while she chatted with someone in the row behind her.
Danny squeezed Grace’s hand and pulled her close. “There they are, Monkey. You ready to meet the people I work with?”
“You bet, Danno!”
And they climbed down the stadium stairs until they reached mid-section. Steve had saved seats in his row, with Chin and Kono behind them.
“Hey, guys! This is my pride, Grace. Grace, this is Kono, and Chin, and this guy is the boss-man, Steve.”
They all shook hands, like well-behaved adults, and Steve said, “It’s nice to meet you Grace. Your father talks about you all the time.”
“Danno talks about you all the time, too.”
Steve raised an eyebrow. “Really?”
Danny smirked. “We commiserate with each other over who drives me more crazy. You top the list.”
And so Danny and Grace sat and cheered and talked with the team until half-time, when Grace asked for nachos. And a drink. And a potty break.
And really, Danny needed to stretch his own legs, and maybe get a bit away from Steve for a bit, because close proximity was making him think cloudy—Danny was beginning to forget, in the moment, that Steve and he weren’t bonded and ‘together’ like Favoured Ones should be.
So he stood, and took Grace’s hand, and headed to the concession stands, hearing shouts from Steve to “not forget my nachos, Danno” as they stalked up the steps.
He was going to regret the fact that Steve ever heard Grace call him ‘Danno’. It was her thing for him, a special thing, and Danny knew Steve would abuse it every chance he got. And it would affect Danny in strange ways, the same as it did when Grace called him that. Almost the same way.
Standing in the long concession line while Grace was in the Ladies Room (“I’m big enough to go by myself, Danno”), a flash of light where it shouldn’t have been caught Danny’s eye. He turned to see three large Samoan men walking toward the field—and one was carrying a concealed firearm. The back of Danny’s mind itched, and he drew out his phone and called Steve.
“Hey, Danno, do you need help carrying everything?”
“No. Steve, listen. I just saw some shady-looking guys headed your way. At least one was carrying. All three were heavily tattooed. I just….it seems like trouble. I’m gonna call HPD back-up from here, because I have Grace. But maybe you and Chin can head these guys off before something stupid happens?”
“Yeah, yeah…I see them. We’re gonna slip in behind them. Keep Grace safe.”
And Danny placed another call, this one to the police that were on site as security. By the time Grace had fought her way through the crowd back to his side, six officers had joined the rest of Five-0, and a small gang war was averted. Danny managed to call Rachel to inform her that a work emergency had come up, and could she pick up Grace from HPD headquarters. Grace was sad to go, but understood that criminals sometimes did not have days off, and so sometimes Danny didn’t either. With a kiss on her forehead, Danny sent his daughter off with an officer—one of the few that knew and respected Danny—to meet with her mother, and he joined his team. At least his ‘Favoured Luck’ was not failing him, even if his Favoured Mate was with another romantically.
The pleasure of finally meeting Danny’s daughter was marred by a gang strike on the football field of his former high school.
The fact that one of the men apprehended was actually an undercover police officer—a cousin of Chin’s—made the whole thing more stressful. For one thing, the man obviously and blatantly hated Chin. For another, it meant that Five-0 found itself in the middle of, and then in charge of, an old investigation.
And Danny took extreme exception to the man’s treatment of Chin. He didn’t want to give any information about the case, not while Chin was in the room.
“If you were any kind of cop, you’d do some of your own investigating instead of believing rumors,” Danny growled at the man. “Especially since the accused is your family! I thought family meant something special on these islands! But it’s not. You’re all just as bigoted here as anywhere. That family honor you all talk about doesn’t exist!”
Steve could have stopped the rant, but he kind of agreed with it. And it had effect: The undercover operative gave up the goods about his operation. The Samoans were trying to out-maneuver the Triads in order to get illegal gambling onto the islands, under the direction of someone named Frank Salvo.
And, to Steve’s dismay, that was a name Danny knew well.
A Jersey mobster who was all sorts of bad news back when Danny was a cop on the mainland.
Steve felt a little bit out of his depth. He knew international terrorists. He understood how they worked. He did not understand the mob, and so he made to stand aside and allow his partner to take charge.
Steve allowed the undercover cop to slide away with his identity intact… and his metaphorical tail between his legs from Danny’s scolding…and he turned to Chin for information.
“We need to find where the gambling ring is going to be. Other than that cousin of yours—who obviously knew nothing—do you have any ideas how we can get that information?”
Chin hummed for a moment. “I think so. There was a confidential informant I used way back—nothing really bad in his jacket, some illegal gun trading and a few bad decisions. But he had connections. He tried to go straight a while ago, and he succeeded pretty well, but he knows people. And people know him. He might be able to help.”
“He” turned out to be a large Hawaiian ex-Sumo wrestler named Kamekona, and he was rather distrustful of Steve and Danny when they showed up to ask questions. Kamekona made them pay a ‘finder’s fee’ for the information, which Steve expected, and stand in front of the man’s Shave Ice stand in very large t-shirts to advertise the shop, which Steve was not expecting. Still, Danny was game for it, and Steve needed the information.
And Danny looked so cute in the shirt that dwarfed him even more than usual.
It made Steve smile, despite the dire circumstance.
“I hope Grace wasn’t too freaked out about what happened at the game?”
Danny looked at Steve and shook his head. “She had no idea that anything had happened. She was in the ladies room when I saw the gun. Before she came out, I had called you and HPD, and Rachel so that she could pick up Grace.”
“So, you got lucky that no panic got started?”
Danny gave him a funny look. “I guess you could call it luck….”
Danny obviously wanted to say something more, but Kamekona came outside after making some calls, and he had the information about a floating casino that would be open that night.
Steve stripped off his overly large shirt and thanked the man. Danny opted to keep his shirt, saying something about how much his daughter would love to have it to sleep in. And with that one sentence, Kamekona dropped all mistrust and became Danny’s new best friend.
Steve just didn’t understand it.
Back at headquarters, it was determined that sending in part of the team undercover would be the best bet. Steve wanted in on it, but Danny decided that Steve’s strength would be in coming in, guns blazing, when the arrest was to be made. Chin couldn’t go, because of his own infamy in the underworld circles. (Once a cop became known as ‘dirty’, every illegal operative in the general area took notice, just in case.) That left Danny and Kono to go undercover as a couple looking to have fun while on vacation. Since Danny still had a tuxedo from his long-ago wedding (“And it still fits, thank you very much!”), Kono got to dip into Five-0 contingency funds for a fancy dress so she would look the part. Steve wasn’t crazy about not going in himself, but he understood the reasons why. Also, Danny would recognize Salvo from his days in the Newark Police, even though Salvo would not know Danny.
Steve and Chin sent requisitions for listening equipment and officer back-up to HPD, and they got their weapons and equipment ready while Danny and Kono got dressed in their respective offices. Chin had also requisitioned knock-off jewelry for both of them, so they would look the part. After wiring both of them for sound and pictures—and wasn’t that tiny tie-tack camera so neat?—Steve sent his partner and his rookie off to join a party and trap a thug.
And Steve really wished he was the one going undercover.
And he didn’t understand that, either.
Danny was sweating bullets, and the humidity of the day had nothing to do with it.
Today is the worst, the absolute worst of all the time that Danny had been on this god-forsaken island.
Give him back his divorce.
Give him back playing body-guard for some ex-Despot.
Give him back having to ask Rachel for help in trapping extortionists.
Danny would willingly answer all of Rachel’s hard questions about whether Steve was his Favoured Mate, rather than dealing with what he had in front of him right now.
Chin Ho, Beaten down, roughed up, and shackled with a fucking BOMB around his neck!
One wrong move—hell, one move at all, and he’s blown to pieces.
How does this even happen?
Well, Danny actually knows how this happened.
When he got Steve’s call that Victor Hesse had somehow escaped from prison, he went on the alert. Hesse had a major hard-on for Steve, so the escape could only mean that Steve would be a target.
Except he wasn’t, not directly.
Turns out, Hesse wanted to hit Steve where it really hurt: In the team.
In the wee hours, after getting far from Halawa Prison, Victor Hesse somehow attacked and kidnapped Chin from his home, and locked a home-made explosive devise around Chin’s neck.
Right after Danny got Steve’s call about the escape, Steve got a call from Duke Lukela about finding Chin positioned on his knees just outside Iolani Palace.
Where, of course, a crowd had gathered.
Chin was holding a burner phone that rang once Five-0 had arrived on scene. This gave indication that Chin was under observation. Over the phone, Hesse gave his terms: Twenty Million Dollars, American and in cash, within five hours, delivered to a specific site outside City central, or Chin gets blown apart.
That gave indication that there was a remote for the bomb, not just a motion sensor.
But, even though Hesse could apparently see them gathered around Chin, he could not hear them.
Danny had always thought well under pressure.
It was a skill borne out of years babysitting a trouble-making younger brother, and later, dealing with Grace while she was teething.
Danny reached into his pocket and thumb-dialed Kamekona. Over a few months, the large, buoyant man had become a trusted friend and dependable source for information on Hawaii’s low-class criminal underground. Danny knew he could trust the man, and Kamekona knew that Five-0 would be happy to help him out of non-illegal binds.
Once the call was answered, Danny put the hidden phone on speaker, and signaled Steve and Kono to pay attention.
“Hey, Shamu, I need a huge favor. This is serious big-big, so no sass. We don’t have time.”
“Okay, Jersey, tell me what you need.”
Danny grinned. Sometimes being a Favoured One was the best.
“Remember introducing me to that counterfeiter who made movie-money for carnivals? The real-looking stuff?”
“Yeah. Mick Waikia. What about him?”
“I need you to contact him. I know he probably has the ability to provide twenty mil, large bills, on really short notice. We have a situation here, and Chin’s life is on the line. Some low-life with large aspirations is trying to blackmail us, but I know we can make it through with no law-breaking. Call him, then text pick-up info to Steve.”
“Alright, Bruddah! I’m on it. Tell Bruddah Blue we got his back.”
Steve looked confused. “Danny, what are you doing?”
Danny shook his head. “Look, Hesse can see, but not hear. And he just basically demanded that you break into Police Evidence Lock-up to steal the drug money in there, but you don’t have to do it. Kamekona introduced me to this guy who counterfeits. Used to have quite a racket back in Vegas, but now he does it for movies or carnivals and charities. Looks real, I checked some of his work. Hesse will be so stressed that he won’t look too closely. You take Kono…”
“No, I want to stay!”
Danny frowned. “Kono, I know you’re Chin’s best friend, but you will be of no use here. You’re too emotional right now, and he needs to be kept calm. I can do that, while you and Steve go and ‘rob’ Evidence Lock-up to meet Hesse’s demands. Kamekona is gonna get the fake money for your drop, and text you where to pick it up. I know Hesse can’t watch us here and watch you there at the same time. I doubt he has anyone helping him.”
Kono looked so sad and pitiful. “Do you think this will work?”
Danny reached out to her. “I know it will. I have to believe it will, so you should too.”
Steve nodded to him, and then grabbed Kono’s hand and they rushed off, ostensibly to break into the Police Evidence room.
And that’s how Danny found himself where he is right now; Sitting calmly in front of Chin, trying to keep the other man calm and still.
Chin, of course, tried to be brave. “You know, Danny, you’re usually babbling away in circumstances like this. Don’t go silent on my account.”
Danny looked up sharply. “I have no idea what to say to you, Chin. How does this even happen?”
“I don’t know, but it did. Given my reputation with HPD, I guess Hesse figures he’ll make Steve and everyone else as dirty as everyone thinks I am.”
Danny snorted. “Yeah, well, you aren’t, so we’re not. And that didn’t sound so good, did it?”
“Tell me something, Danny.”
“Tell you what, Chin? What do you want to know?”
“Anything. If Kono were here, she’d be telling me about surfing this morning as the sun came up, or she’d be rattling off about something her Aunties are up to.”
Danny frowned. “Her Aunties? I thought you two were cousins. Wouldn’t that make them your Aunties as well?”
Chin didn’t exactly shrug, but Danny could tell he wanted to. “Not exactly. We’re cousins by two marriages, so it’s not like my father is her father’s brother. Tell me about Grace.”
Danny’s attitude lightened, as it did every time someone mentioned his daughter. “Well, I talk about Grace all the time. I talked about Grace last night while we filed the last of that General Pak paperwork. Oh, there’s something to talk about—how all those renovations we did to Steve’s house is pointless now that the place got shot up and fire-bombed.”
“Well, we can just do it again then. My cousins at the hardware store will love it.”
Chin gave a heavy sigh, and Danny reached to touch him, but drew back just in time. Chin gave a wry grin. “I thought stuff like this wouldn’t happen anymore, now that Steve is working here full time.”
“What do you mean?”
“Did you know that Steve is Favoured? His father told me. Steve got the mark when he was a kid, and John was so proud.”
Danny shifted uncomfortably. “You know, the luck bit only really works when the Favoured are fully bonded, right?”
Chin sighed again. “I admit that I don’t know much about it. We all took the classes in school, but that was a long time ago. I guess Grace is keeping you informed about what she’s learning, huh?”
“Not….exactly.” Danny sat cross-legged in front of Chin and removed his watch. He raised his right arm so that Chin could see his wrist. “I’m not certain for sure, but I bet that somewhere on Steve’s body, there’s a mark just like this one.”
Chin’s eyes widened in shock. “You haven’t bonded?”
Danny snorted. “Chin, I don’t think Steve even knows bonding is a possibility. The irony is that Rachel was so worried that I would meet my Mate while on the job that she divorced me. Then she re-married, and moved here, where I actually did meet my Mate, and he acts like there is no connection at all. And then there’s his relationship with Catherine. He seems so happy with that—well, I’m not saying anything. Yeah, the team has been lucky for a lot of things, but just because we work together doesn’t mean much.”
“But you feel it, don’t you?”
Danny slumped down. “Yeah, I feel it. I feel so much at home when I’m in the same room with him. For all the bullshit that we go through, I actually do like going to work now. And I love spending time with the team after-hours. But he just acts so uncomfortable when we’re together. Aside from when we’re in my car—which he still won’t let me drive—he doesn’t even like to be in a room alone with me. He always makes sure you or Kono is with us.”
“Don’t you think you should say something?”
Danny shook his head and refastened his watch. “Nah. Look, I have an aunt who is Favoured. All my life, since my Mark showed up, she has been telling me how being Favoured and Bonded works. She has a truly blessed relationship with her Mate. She told me that when two Favoured Mates meet, even for the brief first time, the connection is blatantly noticeable. When I had the misfortune of walking into that garage and seeing Steve in my crime scene, I felt it: Lightning in a Room, just like Aunt Maggie said. I think I stopped breathing for a moment. I feel it every time we’re in a room together. Stronger every day, because it is supposed to build with more constant exposure. If we were bonded, I’d be able to sense his physical and emotional condition, like if he were sick or injured, or if he were sad or angry.”
Danny sat back and folded his arms over his knees. “But ever since we met, he’s only acted like he’d just really rather not be alone with me. He keeps me distant, but he’s never unprofessional. I can’t force a bond, especially on someone who doesn’t seem to even sense that there’s a connection there. I don’t know what to do here, but I’m gonna stick it through because I love my job.”
Chin frowned with him. “That’s rough, man.”
Steve was smart enough to admit that when Danny was right, he was really right.
Kamekona had come through with the counterfeit money with but an hour to spare, delivering bags of realistic cash to a street corner two blocks from the Evidence Lock-up, and Steve and Kono picked it up on the way to the open field where Hesse was waiting.
Then Steve and Kono watched in surprised horror as Hesse dumped the un-opened bags into a barrel fire, burning what he claimed to be Steve’s reputation as well as his ‘little pet Task Force’.
Of course, Hesse wasn’t counting on Steve to make a daring tackle to take Hesse down and retrieve the remote to the explosive around Chin’s neck. Once he disabled the devise, Kono called Danny and told him to remove the collar and relieve her cousin.
Steve took his time in cuffing Hesse, not wanting to be accused of police brutality. When the black and white cruiser pulled into the lot to take Hesse away, Steve gladly handed him over. He grinned widely at Hesse as the man was placed in the back of the car.
“You know,” said Hesse, “I was never your greatest worry. I was only the trigger man. Someone bigger than me is after you. Too bad your reputation is in tatters now.”
Steve scoffed at the imprisoned man. “What? Oh, you mean the counterfeit money you just burned? Yeah, I’ll have to pay out maybe two- , three-hundred for the supplies it took to make that. But my reputation stands as is. And you’re going back to prison, where they will keep better hold on you.”
The look on Victor Hesse’s face as he was driven away should have pleased Steve.
But what he said stuck with him. Someone else, not Hesse, had it in for Steve.
What was that about?
Steve would think on it later. For now, he had to reunite with his team and debrief the Governor on the situation. At the very least, he wanted to make sure she knew that while Steve was expected to rob the Evidence Lock-up, he did not do that, and the drug money that was locked in there until trial and disposal was still there.
Steve stood back and watched as Kono threw herself into Chin’s very tired arms. He was relieved that everyone was okay, even if he did make sure that paramedics looked Chin over top to bottom. As he walked away from the ambulance on his way to talk with the Governor, Steve did wonder at the sad look Chin shot his way. He figured the man must be exhausted, having to kneel all day without moving. At least he had had Danny with him to keep his spirits up.
Steve was nervous. Steve never got nervous.
But today, he was.
His little sister, Mary Ann, was flying in from California.
Steve hadn’t seen her in years. Sure, they wrote letters to each other, but that was infrequent.
Phone calls were more infrequent.
And she didn’t bother to come back home for their father’s funeral.
So, Steve gave himself make-work to keep busy until her flight arrived.
Since catching Hesse, again, Steve had been working on the mysterious contents of that blasted toolbox. The digital recorder gave few clues, and the postcards contained some sort of code that one of Danny’s contacts was helping him decode.
So far, he had uncovered the word ‘Shelbourne’, but he didn’t know if it was part of a name, part of an address, or something else altogether. There were also directional co-ordinates, but Steve could find no map correspondences. Still, it all seemed to come back to a case his father was working on after he retired.
And it came back to the car accident that killed his mother.
From the notes on the digital recorder, Steve made out that John felt that the accident wasn’t so accidental. And John also felt that he couldn’t trust anyone at HPD. This was all around the time that Chin was forced to resign, so Steve began wondering about corruption in the ranks at that time. Danny had never hinted about dirty cops, but then Danny didn’t have the best relationships with his fellow officers. Steve wanted to question officers, but he had no idea who he could possibly trust.
And Hesse’s words to him the day of his final arrest continued to haunt Steve.
“I was never your biggest worry.”
Steve could only deduce that someone else was behind his father’s murder. And that someone else was maybe behind his mother’s accident as well.
Steve was perhaps pre-occupied when his phone rang and it was the airport security department calling to tell him that his sister had been arrested. So, he dropped everything, and ran out of the office, shouting his destination on his way out.
“I’m sorry, sir, but she disabled the smoke detector in the restroom.”
Steve stared through the window at his sister.
She was the daughter of a cop! Surely she knew better.
“Mary Ann! What were you thinking?”
His sister shrugged and pouted at him. “I just wanted a cigarette. It was no big deal, Steve.”
“Apparently, it was a big deal.” Steve turned to the Head of Security. “Can I take her into my custody?”
“Yes, sir. That’s why we called you. If she had been anyone else, the police would be here.”
“Thanks. Come on, Mary. I still have work to do, so I’ll take you to the office.”
“Can’t I just go home?”
“No, not right now. I’m not sure I can trust you alone.”
And when did their relationship turn to this?
Steve really did have to work outside of the office for a few hours, checking on witness statements, so he got Mary Ann to agree to stay in the office and out of trouble until he got back. Then they could go to dinner and catch up.
Of course, she wasn’t there when he got back.
Still, Steve figured he knew where she went, based on the argument they had on the way back from the airport.
Steve drove out to the cemetery, and found Mary sitting by their father’s gravestone. He settled beside her and wrapped his arm around her shoulder.
“I really missed you at the funeral, Mare.”
Mary Ann sniffed. “I couldn’t deal. Aunt Deb couldn’t deal, either. It was so hard, hearing that news.”
“I know. I’m glad you’re here, you know. I’m sorry I yelled earlier today.”
Mary Ann leaned her head onto his shoulder. “I’m sorry I was such a dumbass. I just…I feel so lost sometimes, Steve. I lost mom when I was so young, then I lost you, too. And now dad. I have no idea what I want to do with my life.”
“Well, you’re here now. We’ll figure it out. Let’s go meet my team and go to dinner, huh?”
“Yeah, I’d like that.”
Steve’s life was turning upside down, and he had no idea how to fix it.
Hesse was dead—killed in prison after giving him some sort of a clue as to who was after him.
The name meant nothing to him.
But after Mary Ann was kidnapped (and wasn’t that one hell of a thing) and that toolbox was stolen, bits and pieces were starting to come together about this case his father was working on.
It turns out, John McGarrett had found a connection between corrupt police officers and the Yakuza. And when he started to get close to having proof of the corruption, Doris was killed in a car accident—a hit and run where the other vehicle was never found. All of those clues and codes in the toolbox led back to that. After John retired, he kept searching for the proof that the Yakuza had his wife killed.
He sent his children away to keep them safe, and his on-going investigation led to his own murder.
And when Mary Ann began snooping to curb her boredom, she got kidnapped and almost killed, and the toolbox was gone.
And now, it looked like he couldn’t even trust the Governor.
He was getting used to listening to his intuition in regards to his Mark, and when he mentioned the name Wo Fat in passing, Governor Jameson began acting shifty and suspicious.
Steve didn’t know where to turn for help.
He knew his team would back him, but he didn’t want to risk their careers if his suspicions were wrong.
He called Catherine.
He hated abusing their relationship like this, but she agreed to set up long-distance, satellite surveillance on the Governor’s office. It was so illegal, in so many ways.
She would be abusing her position onboard the Kennedy.
She would be using Naval resources, without permission.
She would be basically bugging the office of the major State Official.
Steve was so going to have to make it up to her, especially if everything panned out.
But she told him that she could do it, and not get caught, and that she would do it because she believed in him.
And….he did manage to catch Governor Jameson talking to someone—a man—about how she allowed herself to become compromised in order to give him an in on the Islands of Hawaii. And how she had McGarrett under control in a way that his father never was, so there was nothing to worry about.
But there really was something to worry about.
There was Steve to worry about.
Because Steve was beginning to see how a corrupt Governor allowed a Chinese gang lord to bring his criminal empire onto the island she had sworn to protect and serve, and proof of such got his father killed.
Steve was seconds away from storming into the Governor’s office to confront the Governor and Wo Fat, when Danny and Chin pulled into the car park beside him. Kono was nowhere in sight, but Steve didn’t doubt that she was nearby.
“What are you doing here?” Steve asked with a frown.
Danny gave a long-suffering sigh. “Providing back-up, you moron! I had a feeling you were going to do something stupid, so I told Chin that we should make sure you at least survive it.”
Just then, a shot rang out, loud in the mostly deserted building. Steve, Danny, and Chin ran toward the office building, only to be intercepted by the police security. Together, Five-0 plus HPD entered the dark office building and saw a dark figure running from the direction of the Governor’s office. Chin took two officers in pursuit, while Steve and Danny took two others into the office, where they found the Governor shot and dying.
Steve ran to her, asking what had happened.
“I’m..sorry, Steve. I thought it was the….way. Your father….was…good man.”
And the only connection Steve had to his father’s death died in his arms.
All things considered, things could be going worse for Danny.
Sure, the Governor that formed the Five-0 Task Force was a corrupt bitch who wanted to profit from allowing the Yakuza and the Chinese Triads to split the islands for their own gain. But the Deputy Governor/Governor pro-tem seemed to see fit to keep the Task Force in place. Which was good, because despite Jameson attempting to use them as her own private police, they did really good work.
And, yes, Danny only saw Grace every Tuesday afternoon and every other weekend, but he got to spend good quality time with her. Steve had even insisted that Danny bring her to his house to use the private beach for swimming, because he understood that Danny was all about Grace’s safety. And Grace was now working on getting Danny to allow surfing lessons, which Kono was willing to provide.
The luck and fortune that was supposed to follow the Favoured Ones seemed to hold true even though Danny and Steve were not bonded.
In fact, other than Chin Ho, Danny was the only one on the entire island who was aware that Steve and Danny should be bonded.
And that part right there? That was killing Danny.
Deep in his soul, Danny had connected with Steve on a primal level.
Steve’s needs became Danny’s priorities.
Steve’s wants became Danny’s wants.
And Steve wanted to be with Catherine.
It was tearing Danny up.
On the nights and weekends that Danny did not have Grace, Danny could be found slouched in front of his television with a beer in his hand.
Steve kept inviting him over.
Unless it was a full-on team night, Danny always declined.
Spending time alone with Steve felt close to torture.
Even worse were the nights that Catherine would join them.
Kono was under the impression that Danny was dating, and Danny would never disavow her of that idea. He could play his secrets close to his chest when he had to.
Chin knew, and would often send pitying looks his way, but he never said anything.
Sometimes Chin would go out with Danny, just the two of them, and they would bemoan their lack of relationships. Chin had been engaged back when he was with HPD, but he broke it off when he was forced to resign. His fiancée was a doctor, an oncologist, but she had ties to the police department, and Chin did not want his disgrace to color her career. Danny called him eight kinds of idiot for that, but Chin would just shoot him a look and mutter Steve’s name.
Still, Danny was trying to convince Chin to talk to her again. To maybe explain what happened. Surely she still loved Chin. That sort of thing just didn’t die out.
And maybe Chin would give it a try.
So, things could still work out for Chin, but Danny’s life was still in disarray.
But they could be doing much worse.
Steve spent all morning in a meeting with Sam Denning, the former Lieutenant Governor/now Governor Pro-tem of Hawaii. They were hashing out details of keeping the Five-0 Task Force operational. Steve did not have a problem with Denning. Actually, Steve had never really dealt with Denning. All of Steve’s direct orders came from Jameson, and now that he knew how corrupt she was, Steve had major doubts about his work. So, this meeting was incredibly necessary.
“Look, Commander McGarrett, I like what you have put together here. I like the idea of a Major Crimes Task Force, and I know that your group knows what they’re doing. You have closed a number of nasty cases, and your record is clean.”
Steve gave a relieved sigh. “Thank you, sir. You have no idea how worried I was that Five-0 was going to be painted with the same brush as Pat Jameson. I had no idea she was working with the man who had my father killed.”
“No, I imagine you didn’t. Otherwise, you never would have taken her up on the offer of running her private Task Force.”
“No, sir, I would not have. I want you to know that I wanted all along to do what was best for the State of Hawaii. My team are solid police officers, and they make sure I follow the laws as perfectly as I can. We did take the immunity and means that the former Governor gave us, and we used that advantage to make the hard calls, but I don’t think we abused the power we had.”
Denning barked a short laugh. “Well, you came close a few times. But you are a major asset to this office as well as HPD. So I do want to keep you and your team employed. With the caveat that you submit weekly progress reports detailing your activities. The only reason I will accept for missing a report is if there is an ongoing case that you are personally involved in. You will monitor your team’s progress, your team’s weapons qualifications, and your team’s compliance with personal evaluations. I am especially interested in Officer Kelly’s compliance with mental evaluation after being held hostage with a bomb around his neck. Oh, and add Detective Williams to that, as he was sitting close to Kelly during that whole debacle. I want to make sure you all maintain good mental health. I don’t need my Task Force to risk a member going postal on the streets of Oahu.”
Steve nodded in approval. “I’ll make sure every member of the Task Force fills out a weekly report for me, and I’ll compile the lot for you. Do you want hard copy, e-mail, or both?”
“Both, I think. That way I’ll have a back-up copy of everything. You do understand that this is as much for your team as it is for me. I want everybody to be covered in case someone tries to accuse me or the Task Force of malfeasance. I won’t be accused of wrong-doing while holding this Office.”
“On that point, I totally agree. Thank you, Governor Denning. I look forward to working with you.”
When Steve returned to headquarters, he found a nervous team waiting for him. He smiled to himself, thinking at least they were all worried along with him.
“Guys, it’s okay. Governor Denning is going to keep Five-0 going for now. We have a few new concessions, but we’re good to go.”
Kono launched herself into his arms with an astoundingly strong hug, and Chin clapped his shoulder.
Only Danny kept his distance, but there was a relieved smile on the man’s face.
“That’s good to hear, Steve. At least we have job security. And speaking of job security….there’s a young lady waiting for you in your office. I don’t know if it it’s a case, but she seemed really adamant that she talk to you as soon as possible.”
Steve nodded. “Thanks, Danno. You want to join me?”
“Nah, I’ll sit this one out. She made a point of wanting to talk to you privately, and I still have to fill out your reports on this robbery case.”
Steve smirked. “I’m going to have to learn how to fill out reports myself now. That’s one of our conditions; weekly progress reports for the Governor detailing anything out of the ordinary that the Task Force is doing—especially about Chin’s psych evals since the bomb incident. Yours, too, Danno. So I need you both to submit those reports to me. He doesn’t want details, but he wants to make sure you’re both attending mandated counseling, and he wants reassurance that none of us are going to flake out and try to destroy the island.”
Steve walked into his office to find a pretty brunette sitting in front of his desk. She looked up as he entered, her eyes bright and shrewd.
“Hello, I’m Commander Steve McGarrett. What can I do for you?”
The young woman offered her hand in greeting. “Jenna Kaye, and it’s about what I can do for you, Commander. I want to help you track Wo Fat.”
Stunned, Steve sat behind his desk and folded his hands in front of him. “What do you know about Wo Fat? How do you know Wo Fat?”
The woman, Jenna, straightened in her seat. “I’m with the CIA. My fiancée, also with the CIA, recently encountered the terrorist known as Wo Fat during an investigation of drug smuggling out of China. Josh managed to track him to South Korea, before he disappeared totally from our radar. Josh went to the area where Wo Fat was last known to be, and then Josh disappeared as well. I was tracking both of them, gathering information about Wo Fat so that Josh could narrow the field of search. That’s how I became aware of Wo Fat’s dealings here in Hawaii. I know that he was involved with the Governor here, but not what his business was.”
Jenna paused to compose herself, and then continued. “I believe that Josh was about to move on Wo Fat here, soon, when he disappeared. Commander, I believe that Wo Fat killed my fiancée, just like he had your father murdered. I want to catch this man, just like you do. I believe we can help each other.”
Steve considered her for a long moment. She appeared earnest, if a bit distraught. She could be telling the truth, but something about her set his senses on edge.
“I can’t allow you to work from our offices, but I will accept assistance if you can offer it. I assume you are currently with the local CIA offices?”
She shook her head. “Right now, I’m on a leave of absence. I can work from my place here, without pulling the CIA into my investigations. My superiors didn’t take my findings about Wo Fat seriously. They assume that Josh abandoned his post and ran away from me. They’re calling Josh a traitor, and I can’t allow that to happen. I need to bring Wo Fat to justice, and I know you do too.”
“All right, Miss Kaye, I’ll take any information you have under consideration. I have additional sources that I can use. Let’s see if we can’t flush this man out and deal with him. Properly, if at all possible.” Steve stood and offered her his hand, which she shook in agreement.
Steve decided to keep Jenna Kaye’s real purpose secret from his team for the time being. They would only worry about his intent, and might hinder his efforts to find the man who killed his father.
Steve introduces Jenna to his team with a hearty “Hey, guys, this is Jenna Kaye. She’s with the CIA, but she’s temporarily on leave so she can help update our computer programs. We’re going to make sure we have the latest software available for facial recognition and search protocols.”
Everybody seemed to go along with it, but Danny kept a bit of distance.
Steve didn’t really understand his partner.
Danny was a good cop, and a wonderful father. Steve understood that Danny’s first priority was his daughter, and that he wanted to keep the island safe for her. It was a sentiment that Steve could go along with, as that was how his father thought when Steve was younger; be a good cop and protect the family.
Danny got along great with the whole team. He was funny, and cranky, and intelligent, and earnest. He cared deeply, and was careful of everyone’s feelings. That much was obvious when Chin was strapped to that bomb. Danny’s first concern was keeping Chin safe and sane, and that Kono could deal with the stress in a helpful manner. Steve knew Danny attended Chin’s counseling sessions with him, because both of them were in immediate danger from the explosives, but he never asked what was talked about.
Danny and Chin also spent a great deal of time together during their off-time. Tell the truth, Steve was a bit jealous about that. He kept inviting Danny and Grace to spend time at his house, where he had a private beach. Danny would accept the invitations occasionally, usually when the whole team was there for food and fun. Danny had no trouble sharing his daughter with his teammates, and they all acted like family. Grace had even taken to calling him ‘Uncle Steve’, and it made his heart swell with joy.
But Danny rarely came out with just Steve. They would sometimes hit the local cop bar together for a few beers and conversation. Danny would come to Steve’s home occasionally for coffee in the morning before heading to the office, as it made sense for Danny to pick Steve up on the way in. Steve didn’t like driving in alone if they could share gas, and Danny lived farther away from the office than Steve did.
But if Catherine was on short leaves, Danny usually made himself scarce. He was always pleasant, but Steve noticed that Danny tried to avoid being around Catherine. He asked about it once, but Danny only told him that he didn’t want to intrude on Steve’s private time with his lady-friend. When Catherine was around, Danny and Chin seemed to spend a lot of time together.
It didn’t make sense, but Steve was jealous.
When Steve asked Danny about it, Danny deflected with “Of course I spend time with Chin, Steve. I spend time with all of my teammates. You should as well; it’ll make our bonds stronger.”
When Steve asked Chin about it, he got a stern “Danny and I are dealing with stuff right now that I don’t think you’ll understand just yet.”
What the hell did that mean?
Still, his team was tight together. They worked well and sometimes it seemed like they could read each other’s minds. Danny would call that a startling and frightening concern, but they all knew that Danny liked to kid around.
“Hey, guys,” Steve said later as they were leaving for the day. “How about a cook-out at my place this weekend? Catherine is going to be in for a week, so we could do some fun stuff together.”
And Steve totally did not miss the look Chin shot at Danny.
Danny merely shrugged. “I have Grace this weekend, so a cook-out could be fun. But we have serious plans for Sunday, so the cook-out will have to be Saturday.”
“Saturday’s good for me, boss,” said Kono as she grabbed her bag. “I’m gonna hit North Shore in the morning for a few hours. Is late afternoon good?”
“Yeah, late afternoon—say three- or four o’clock? I’ll pick up some steaks if you all bring some sides.”
“I think I can convince Grace to help me make my grandma’s potato salad. I’m gonna go now, because I do need to pick up some stuff at the grocer before I get Grace from her tennis lesson.”
And with that, the team disbursed until the following evening.
Steve went home to throw some laundry in the wash before running to the grocer himself. He’d need to stock the pantry for while Catherine was here. Plus, he’d need some good-quality steaks for the barbeque, and some chicken for Grace.
For all that Danny enjoys working with his team, the one person he’s met since joining Five-0 that he really, really likes is Dr. Max Bergman, the assistant Medical Examiner. Although he does admit to being taken aback upon their first meeting—who plays classical piano in order to calm the mind while performing an autopsy?—Max has a smart-assed sarcasm that reminds Danny of his own siblings back in Jersey, and that made Danny like him all the more.
Max also is a bit of a geek, in the nicest way possible.
What Danny’s teammates do not know about him is that Danny was raised on Star Trek. Original Trek, Next Gen Trek; it didn’t matter. Danny’s father and grandfather loved them, so Danny also loved them. He even enjoyed Voyager and Deep Space Nine, but could never cotton to Enterprise. Danny passed this love of Roddenberry onto Grace from a very young age, and the two of them often marathoned episodes on rainy days when going out was uncomfortable if not impossible.
The fact that Max is a Trekkie (not a Trekker, you lousy goofs!) made their friendship more bearable. Steve is clueless, but Danny and Max could trade quips while waiting for test results to come back.
And Max is a font of information for ‘geeky things to do with Grace’ on the island of Oahu. Or on the other islands, as a matter of fact. Max has facilitated visits to comic conventions (kid friendly, of course) and movie screenings, all of which Grace has embraced enthusiastically. And if Danny can pass the excursions off as educational, then all the better for getting Rachel to allow him extra time with his daughter.
Like this weekend, for example: Max has procured, with Danny’s permission, tickets to the Keck Observatory’s Star Trek Adventure. It’s science, balanced with science fiction, and Grace is going to love it. The flight to the Big Island is short, only fifty minutes or so, and Danny and Grace had made the trip many times for outings. Danny got a small discount for being a state employee, and Grace had a long list of ‘things to do with Danno’ that they were working through. The show was on Sunday, and Grace had chosen her outfit with great care. Danny was amused, because they were going to be spending a long period of time in the dark. Max, of course, was going with them.
As was Chin Ho, who was bringing along a particular Dr. Malia Waincroft—his former fiancée.
At Danny’s urging, after the bomb incident Chin went to speak with Malia—to explain why he pulled away from her during his time of troubles. Chin hadn’t wanted to bother, but Danny had the opportunity to question the good doctor during an investigation, and he noticed that she wore a diamond ring on a chain around her neck. Danny’s a detective. He figured that the ring meant that Malia still cared deeply for Chin, and that she would be amenable to speaking with him.
And Danny was right. Unbeknownst to the rest of Five-0, especially Kono, who thought that Malia dumped Chin instead of the other way ‘round, Chin had been conversing with and dating Malia for a few weeks now. And she was as excited about the Star Trek Adventure as Grace was.
The hard part had been keeping the trip from Steve, who surely would have invited himself—and Catherine—along. Max was fairly vibrating with excitement the last time Danny and Steve had spoken with him in the lab. Fortunately, Steve was oblivious as usual.
Danny had finally broken down and told Grace—and Rachel, during a family therapy session—about finding his Mate on the island. He didn’t mention who, but he did tell them that his Mate seemed to be avoiding the Bond, and Danny was trying to not be hurt by that fact. He didn’t want sympathy or pity, but he did want his daughter to understand why he was holding himself apart sometimes. Rachel was unexpectedly understanding.
So, Danny told Grace about the cook-out at Steve’s, with the whole team, and then they spent the afternoon picking apart their itinerary for the observatory trip.
Okay, so spending time in the presence of Catherine didn’t kill him. But Danny wasn’t exactly happy about it.
Because the whole party started in the late afternoon, Kono and Catherine were in bikinis and enjoying the water. Grace ran to change into her swimsuit so she could join them, and Danny opened a beer and stood with Steve and Chin while Steve busied himself at the grill. They watched the girls swim, Danny keeping a keen eye on Grace despite knowing how safe she was with Kono, and then the food was done and ready to be served.
Everybody settled around a large table, with Steve and Catherine on one side and Danny and Grace on the other, opposite the loving duo.
“You know, Danny,” said Steve, “I still don’t know why you don’t get in the water when you’re here. This private beach is perfect for swimming. Or don’t you know how to swim?”
Danny frowned. “I swim, Steven. I swim for survival. Just because you enjoy stripping down and jumping into the water every chance you get, does not mean everybody else does.”
And wasn’t that a kick in the pants—not long ago, Steve and Kono both stripped down to dive under a dock to look for clues in a robbery. And that was when Danny got to see the tattoo on Steve’s right shoulder—and the Favoured Mark hidden beneath.
Kono giggled. “That’s so not true, Danny. Boss man, I’ll have you know that Danny handles himself very well in the open water.”
Steve’s eyebrow hitched in doubt. “And how do you know that?”
Kono and Grace both shared a giggle and a look. “You do know I’m teaching Grace how to surf, right?”
“Well, Grace decided that surfing was a fine activity that they could do together. So Danny has been taking lessons with Grace.”
Grace brightened at being able to contribute to the conversation. “Yeah, and he’s really good, Uncle Steve! He’s even better than me!”
“Oh, really? I’ll have to see this for myself. If only to see Danny without a tie and button-down.”
Grace frowned a little, and Danny knew what she was thinking. Danny didn’t strip down in front of people if he could avoid it. He swam and surfed with Grace and Kono, but Kono wasn’t very observant and had never noticed the scar on his wrist. The scar that he kept hidden with his wide watch band.
Deciding to relieve his daughter a bit, Danny said, “We’ll see sometime, maybe. I did swim at the shore back in Jersey, you know. The water there is nowhere near as warm as here. But I never took the opportunity to learn to surf when I was a kid. Grace wanted us to do this together, so we are.”
“What else are you doing together this weekend, Danny?” Catherine asked, genuinely interested.
Danny couldn’t really hate her. She was nice enough, and she was helpful often enough when Steve asked for unsanctioned ‘favours’.
“We’re, uh, flying over to the Big Island tomorrow, to attend a special event at the Keck Observatory. It’s a Star Trek thing.”
Catherine looked sceptical. “I didn’t think actual scientists gave any credence to Star Trek?”
And right away, Grace turned away from the conversation—and away from Catherine. Catherine never even noticed, because Grace started telling Kono about the trip, but Kono noticed.
And Chin noticed.
And Chin noticed Steve noticing.
“Actually, Catherine,” said Danny carefully, “a lot of scientific advancement owes a lot to Star Trek. Things like cell phones and transparent aluminum. And later this year, when I take vacation back to Jersey, Grace and I will be attending an exhibit in Washington D.C. at the National Aeronautics Museum called “Through the Wormhole” about space travel. My folks will be going as an anniversary trip.”
Steve looked interested, but Catherine dismissed the whole thing. “Well, I am definitely looking forward to relaxing here with Steve, enjoying the waves without a ship around me.”
And Danny was off the hook about having to invite them along.
The rest of the meal progressed uneventfully, and Danny and Grace left early so they could be rested for the trip. They followed Chin to his motorcycle, and Grace gave the older man a hug before getting into the Camero. Danny hung back for a moment.
“Are you ever going to tell Steve about your matching Scar?” Chin asked quietly.
Danny raised an eyebrow. “Are you ever going to tell Kono that you’re dating Malia again?”
“I think if I couch the admission carefully enough, Kono will understand.”
“And I don’t think Steve will ever understand. Did you ever find someone I could talk to about this? I mean, I can see a Favoured therapist in Jersey next month, but I’d like someone local right away, just to see if anyone has ever heard of this happening.”
“Well, there are a few people in the Old Faith temple that you can speak to. Native Hawaiians take Favoured Ones very seriously. But the one person that knows the most is also a friend of Steve’s. So, talking to him might be a risk to you.”
“You don’t think he can be confidential?” Danny asked hesitantly.
“Oh, I know he can be. But if he sees your Scar, he’ll probably know your Mate is Steve. I mean, he might not have seen Steve’s Scar since Steve was young, but John told me that after the Scar manifested, he took Steve to Mamo so he could learn about his destiny as a Favoured One.”
Danny pressed his lips together tightly. “Right. Well, I’ll think about it and let you know. This whole thing is driving me nuts, you know?”
“I hear ya. So, I’ll see you in the morning at the airport. Malia is really looking forward to this. I’m not sure if it’s a Star Trek thing, or an ‘official date with me’ thing.”
Danny smirked. “It’s probably the date thing.”
Steve lay on his back in his bed, Catherine sleeping quietly next to him.
He should be content right now.
He wasn’t sure if he was in love with Catherine, but he did care for her. They were very close friends before their relationship turned physical, and the sex had always been good.
Catherine was going to be here for a week. Leave depending on the Kennedy resupplying and unloading several officers bound to new duty stations. Steve had said that he had no problem with Catherine staying with him. It would give them some quality time together.
Except, once he picked her up at Pearl, he felt strangely separated from her. She was as affectionate as ever, but he felt disconnected.
And the sex?
Well, Steve could still perform, but it was a near thing. If it hadn’t been a purely physical response to Catherine’s stimulus, well, Steve wasn’t sure what was going on with him.
And it really bothered him that Danny was surfing with Kono and he didn’t know about it. Not that Steve felt that he should be in control of Danny’s life. But he thought they were friends, and didn’t friends tell each other those things?
And the observatory trip? It was something that Grace was looking forward to, and Danny hadn’t mentioned it once. And Danny talks about Grace all the time. So why didn’t Steve know about this?
Catherine sighed in her sleep, and rolled into him, cuddling close.
And Steve felt nothing
Danny was leaving the little bakery around the corner from headquarters when his phone rang with Rachel’s ringtone.
“Yeah, Rach, what’s up?”
“Daniel? Oh, my god, Grace and I were carjacked!”
“What? Are you both okay? Where are you?”
“I have no idea where we are. We’re okay, but this man took my vehicle and left us here in the middle of nowhere! And he said some very disturbing things.”
“Okay, Rachel, calm down. We don’t want Grace anymore upset than she already is. I’m walking into headquarters now. I’ll get Chin to trace your cell and I’ll come to get you.”
Danny ran to the Tech Table, where he briefed Chin on the situation. He was going in alone, but with Kono as back-up. Steve was spending a lot of time with Miss-Jenna-Kaye-of-the-CIA, and he was out of the office today.
“Okay, Chin, where is she?”
Chin pulled up a map on screen, and Kono went to weapons lock-up for her trusty sniper rifle. As far as back-up went, he could do a lot worse.
Two hours later, Danny found his ex-wife and daughter standing alongside a dirt road on the south side of the island. They were hot and a bit dirty, but unharmed. He was so relieved, he hugged them both, startling Rachel.
“You’re both okay? What did this guy want?”
“It’s okay, Daniel. He didn’t hurt us. He pulled a gun and shoved me in the passenger seat. Then he drove us out here and left us. He said ‘Tell him to back off’, whatever that means.”
“Okay, let’s get you back home. Is Stan at your house?”
“No, Stan is on Hawaii for a business meeting. He’s due back tonight.”
“Do you want to go home, or back to headquarters with me?”
Rachel looked at her tired and frightened daughter. “I think we’ll be fine at home. We were taken on a busy street near the school, not near the house. And we have the development security to keep us safe.”
“Okay, I’ll drive you, to make sure you get inside safely. I’m going to have Chin put in a BOLO on your car, to see if we can get prints and find out who took you. I am so sorry that this happened, Rachel.”
“I know, Daniel. For once, I don’t actually think this is your fault. Not directly, anyway.”
Danny was on his way back to headquarters when his phone rang again. This time it was an unknown number.
“Danny? It’s Stan. Can you meet me at the airport?”
“I’m on my way into work right now, is it important?”
“Yes, God, Danny. I think Rachel and Grace might be in danger.”
Danny had never made a quicker U-turn in his life. “I’m on my way, Stan. Rachel and Grace were car-jacked this morning.”
“Are they okay?”
“They’re fine. I took them home. I’ll be at the airport in less than an hour.”
“I’ll be waiting for you.”
Danny called Chin and told him where he was heading, and he hit the lights and sirens to make the trip faster.
When Danny pulled up at the arrivals gate, Stan was waiting, pacing along the sidewalk. When he got in the passenger seat, Danny turned to him.
“What do you know, Stan? I was thinking this might be about a case, but I don’t have anything open at the moment that would call for this stupidity.”
Stan looked frantic. “No, it’s not about you or your work. It’s about my work. I had been working on developing a resort village on Hawaii. My firm was very excited about it. The specs looked good, but the numbers weren’t adding up. I had been making unplanned trips to the building site for flash inspections, and last week I noticed that corners were being cut. Badly. It wasn’t just about the money involved; some of the work was dangerous. I told the contractor that we were going to cut funding and pull his license if repairs and corrections weren’t made.”
“So, what? This contractor took offense? And he took my daughter in retaliation?”
“The contractor is in with some underworld connections. I would never put Grace in any danger, you have to know that.”
Danny took a calming breath. “I do know that, Stan. So what are we going to do?”
“I had planned on contacting you when I found out what was going on at the building site. It’s criminal, what this guy is doing, and it needs to be stopped. You’re the best cop I know, so I had planned on calling you right away.”
“Is there anything on your end that you can do to stop this guy?”
“There’s plenty I can do, but I have to go to the building commission and the Governor’s office to do it. I can’t do that until tomorrow. I have an appointment to see the Governor at ten o’clock tomorrow morning.”
“Okay, so we just have to protect you and our family until then? What is this guy’s name?”
“What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to let this guy know what a bad idea it was to mess with the child of a Five-0 officer, that’s what I’m going to do!”
As it turned out, the building contractor was not mob-connected, but he did have someone from the Building Commission in his pocket. And he did have half a brain, and he was terrified when forced to face a very angry Detective Daniel Williams. The schmuck had no idea that Stan’s wife was Danny’s ex, and that her daughter was his daughter. The guy about wet himself when Danny confronted him, and that encounter gave Stan enough time to meet with the Governor and the head of the Commission. So, that bit of drama was over.
Danny dealt with the whole thing by taking Grace out to dinner at her favorite place that night, while Rachel and Stan re-established their relationship.
Whole-team downtime was rare, so they all took time to enjoy their favorite activities. Chin took time to work on his motorcycle and properly court Malia. Kono spent a lot of the time at the beach. And Steve spent time trying to convince Danny to begin enjoying the islands more.
Thus, the hiking trip to see cave pictures.
“My father would bring me up here to view the petroglyphs all the time. It was our guy-time when I was a kid,” Steve said proudly.
“It’s good that you did that when you were young. My dad took me fishing sometimes.”
The weather was good—clear sky, low humidity, and no insects. Despite his complaints, Danny was enjoying the hike. The exercise was good, and the views were incredible. And the petroglyphs were pretty neat. He was going to have to get Steve to bring him back with Grace some time. She’d get a kick out of it. She’d really get a kick out of the history Steve had with the place.
Of course, they’d find a body up there.
Seriously, what is his life?
Steve walked into headquarters to find Chin staring blankly at the wall in his office. Kono was watching carefully from the lobby, a sad look on her face.
“Hey, Kono. What’s going on in there?”
Kono sighed and turned to Steve. “Chin’s auntie is dying. She wants to see him, to say good-bye.”
Steve frowned. “Let me guess, this is family that isn’t talking to him because of the rumors about him?”
“Yeah. His Uncle Keako was on the Police Force for a lot of years. He retired to take care of his wife when she got sick and needed a kidney transplant. That was around the time Chin was accused of taking stolen money from the police vault. Chin hasn’t really spoken to his Aunt Mele since then. I knew she always believed in Chin. The separation was difficult for Chin. Aunt Mele practically raised Chin when his mother died.”
Steve walked into Chin’s office. “Hey.”
“I just want you to know, if you want to go visit your aunt, I’ll go with you. We all will. Show of support, okay. You shouldn’t be alone, and I know how important it is to say good-bye.”
Chin nodded. “Thanks. I’ll take you up on that, I think. My uncle will not be pleasant, but I really owe it to Auntie to say good-bye.”
Because Steve never really knew how to leave well-enough alone, he decided to dig into Chin’s family life just a bit, and he discovered that the kidney transplant that Chin’s aunt received did not happen because of a donor list. The organ was paid for privately; a large sum that Chin’s uncle should not have been able to afford on a cop’s salary.
The coincidence did not sit well with Steve.
Steve confronted the man shortly after the funeral, and Keako admitted to taking the money and allowing Chin to take the fall. Now that his wife was dead, Keako saw no need to hide his crime. He went to the Governor and admitted what he had done. Chin’s record was cleared officially. It likely wouldn’t change anything in the eyes of HPD’s more prejudiced officers, but Chin retained the promotion he had been due and he proudly allowed himself to be introduced as Lieutenant Chin Ho Kelly of Five-0.
So, when Chin admitted to once again dating Malia Waincroft, Steve was very pleased.
And When Chin admitted that their engagement was once again going strong, Steve felt a tiny bit empty inside.
Jenna had come through with possible new information on Wo Fat. He was traced to an import house that had known dealings with smugglers. While Steve and Kono followed a possible trail to an upscale neighborhood, Danny and Chin entered a suspect’s home and found a man lying unconscious on the floor. Danny knelt to check on the man as Chin chased after a masked assailant, and Steve met Chin at the back gate. Chin was telling Steve that the suspect got away when Danny exited the house and promptly collapsed at the gate.
Steve ran to Danny as Chin called for aid. Steve’s friend was struggling to breathe, and he was growing weaker by the second.
Danny struggled to speak. “Grace….Steve, Grace….”
“I’ll get her, Danno. You hold on, okay buddy? I’ll go pick up Grace, and we’ll meet you at the hospital, okay?”
Steve felt the bottom drop out of his world.
Who the hell has Sarin Gas?!
Danny was going to be okay, but he’d be on desk-duty for a while, while his lungs healed.
Wo Fat got away again.
But the important thing was that Danny was going to be okay.
Grace had been scared when she saw Steve outside of her school. Somehow, cops’ kids always knew when their parents were injured. Still, she allowed him to hug and comfort her, and she calmly called her mother to let her know that she was going to the hospital to see her ‘Danno’.
Steve spoke briefly to Rachel, telling her that, no, Danny had not been shot, and, yes, he was going to be fine.
Grace chattered nervously in the car on the way to the hospital. Did they catch the person who hurt Danno? Did Steve know how long Danno would be in the hospital? Did Steve try to find Danno’s Favoured Mate to let him know Danno was hurt?
Steve watched from the doorway as Grace climbed into Danny’s hospital bed. Despite his suffering, Danny looked relaxed as he held his child. Steve smiled and took the time to carefully look over his partner, trying to find the Scar. There were IV’s and bandages, and the hospital gown, and Steve could see nothing.
And then Kamekona came in carrying bags of not-hospital food, and Danny cheered more.
Steve almost lost his best friend, and he had no idea how to deal with it. He shook Danny’s hand, and told him he’d catch up with him later. Then Steve went home, and called Catherine.
He needed comfort, and he didn’t even know why.
Despite weekly reports and playing more carefully (no more shark cages, no dangling off rooftops), Governor Denning demanded a better system of checks and balances for the Task Force. Enter: Lori Weston, a young profiler from the FBI. She was tasked with making sure Steve’s little team kept by the rules and didn’t cause any major upsets for the Governor’s office.
Logically, Steve understood the move. The election was coming up, and Denning was looking to hold onto the office.
Illogically, Steve saw an interloper who did not know his team or how they worked.
Kono seemed okay with having another female in the group. Chin seemed ambivalent.
Steve couldn’t read Danny at all, but he welcomed Lori to the team with a big smile.
For her part, Lori seemed eager to jump right in, and made herself familiar with their set-up.
Steve found it easy to work with the woman on a professional level, but she seemed too eager to get into his personal space. He would mention running the trail at Diamond Head, and she would show up looking to join him, uninvited. He and Chin talked about spear-fishing one weekend, and they emerged from the water to find Lori chatting with an amused and confused Malia, who was there to meet Chin.
Lori even tried to invite herself as his ‘plus-one’ to the Governor’s Ball. Luckily, Catherine managed to get leave that weekend—on short notice—and he had the out. Since Danny was taking Grace (and she was adorable in her new gown), Lori was stag with Kono.
Steve didn’t mean to shut Lori out, but he was uncomfortable with the attention. And since Danny was such a good detective, he quickly acknowledged Steve’s discomfort.
And Danny started deflecting for Steve as well. Danny took great pains to make sure Lori met with all of their important support staff: Charlie Fong in the Crime Lab and Max Bergman in the Medical Examiner’s Office. Both men would occasionally join Five-0 when they went out for drinks or lunch as a team. Steve wasn’t sure when Danny had become such good friends with Max, but he made sure that Lori and the good doctor spent time together. Lori was just geeky enough to understand Max’s humor, so that friendship kept her out of Steve’s way after a fashion.
And then Chin came to him one sunny day with a proposition.
“So, Steve, I’m wondering if you would be my Best Man?”
Steve broke out into a huge smile. “Of course! I’d be happy to stand up for you, man. When’s the big day?”
“Not for a while. Malia has some stuff with a drug study right now, but there’s a time limit on that. So, when her study is through, we’ll set a final date. I just wanted to make sure you’d be available.”
“For you, I’ll be available.”
“Yeah? Jenna, what’s up?”
“I need to talk to you.”
“Sure, come on in.”
Steve hadn’t heard from Jenna Kaye in a long while. She had used up her leave and had to return to Washington (State, not D.C.). She called infrequently, if she had a lead, but Steve could only help her so much.
“I think I found something big. I think Josh is still alive.”
“I don’t know how, but I have this lead. I think Wo Fat has Josh hidden somewhere in North Korea. I’m going there.”
“What do you mean? How are you going there? It’s not exactly legal to travel there.”
“I quit the CIA. I cashed in my 401-K. I found a bounty-hunter, someone who is willing to get me there. I have to find him, Steve. I have a feeling Josh is there, and I have to find him.”
Steve was stunned. “I can’t help you with this, Jenna. I wish you luck, but I can’t help you.”
“I know, Steve. I just wanted you to know. Thanks for all your help. If I find Wo Fat, I’ll let you know. But I have to go. Oh, but before I go, did you ever figure out that code in the old toolbox?”
“No, it’s a complete mystery. Why, did you have some sort of epiphany?”
“Maybe.” Jenna handed Steve a notebook. “This is a list of CIA ciphers. I’m not supposed to have it, but right now I’m not about the rules. Some of these go back twenty, thirty years, but they may help.”
Steve rose and gave her a hug. “I wish you well, Jenna Kaye.”
Steve stayed up late every night for two weeks, working the ciphers through the codes on the back of the postcards from the toolbox. He doubted very much that he would find anything, but anything that would take his mind off of his normal workday stuff was a good thing.
Lori was still flirting, badly. She just didn’t seem to understand that Steve was not only not interested, but that he was involved with someone.
And then, there was that problem.
Steve thought about her. Often.
But he didn’t find himself…well, Steve didn’t know how he found himself when he thought of Catherine. When their relationship first turned physical, every time Steve thought of her, he found himself excited. Now…not so much.
Of course, Steve hadn’t seen Catherine since the night of the Governor’s Ball.
Maybe that was the problem. Maybe he needed to take some time; go visit Catherine aboard the Kennedy.
And Danny was going to be gone for a week.
He was taking Grace back to New Jersey for his parents’ wedding anniversary.
So, Steve had downtime coming. Because a major player on the Five-0 team was going to be gone for a week, the Governor had decided that, barring a major case, the whole team had earned a small vacation.
Steve was reaching for the phone, when a cipher rang true and a name appeared: Shelbourne.
Well, Steve assumed it was a name. Shelbourne could be a place, or just another code.
But it was a new starting place.
Since the cipher was CIA, Steve needed to speak with someone from that Sector. He didn’t really know anyone who worked with the CIA, but his old mentor, Joe White, might.
Instead of calling Catherine, Steve placed the call to Joe.
“I don’t understand what you’re asking, Danny. Please explain it again.”
Danny sighed. “I think…no, I know I found my Mate, Aunt Maggie. But he doesn’t seem to feel the Bond. Either that or he’s really good at ignoring it. I need to know if that can be a thing.”
“As far as I know, it’s really not. Danny, if you really did find your Mate, and he’s not responding to you, he may not be healthy. I mean, mentally healthy.”
“Yeah, I got what you meant. I may have had a few doubts about his sanity, but that’s only because of his military, take-no-prisoners style of working. Did I mention the shark cage?”
Aunt Maggie huffed. “No, you didn’t . Did he live in one?”
“No, he put a suspect in one to scare him into confessing.”
“I see why you doubt his sanity. Do you really think he’s blocking the bond?”
Danny sighed. “This is why I need to speak to some sort of priest or Favoured-expert psychologist. My Mate…he wasn’t brought up like you and me. He had a major tragedy happen when he was younger, and his father sent him away. If had any emotional back-up, I don’t know about it. And if he had any education about the Favoured Ones beyond the basic school-age information, I don’t know that either. But maybe, somehow what happened made it difficult for him to recognize the Bond.”
Aunt Maggie sat back. “Danny, you need to talk to a Favoured One who is in the military. Your Mate might not recognize the Bond because he’s somehow become desensitized to it.”
“Yeah, that sort of makes sense. How do I find a military Favoured?”
“Oh, honey, I have a large support group here. One of the Temple guards is ex-Army. A Ranger, I think. He may have some insight. I’ll call him for you.”
Danny felt refreshed after spending time with his family. Because of the long flight and air-fare, he could not afford to travel back home very often. In the two years that Danny had lived in Hawaii, he had only been back home once. Grace had enjoyed visiting her grandparents as well. And, of course, the visit to the Smithsonian had been a big hit. Grace made sure to take loads of photos, and to buy duplicates of her souvenirs so she could share with Max.
Then Danny came home to find that Steve was off and running on a name search that might have something to do with his father’s death. Or, at least it had something to do with the case his father was working on when he was killed.
In any case, Danny took advantage of Steve’s distraction to call a number given to him by Aunt Maggie’s ex-Ranger friend.
“Hello, my name is Daniel Williams. I’d like to speak with Captain Arnold Wilkes, please.”
“This is Wilkes. What can I do for you?”
“This is going to sound very strange, but I’m Favoured, and I need to speak to a military-Favoured about a personal matter.”
There was a long, very pregnant pause. Then Danny heard, “Where can we meet, Mr. Williams?”
And so Danny found himself sitting in a secluded part of the Punchbowl—the memorial to those who served aboard the USS Arizona during the Pearl Harbor attack. Since Steve’s grandfather served on this ship, the location seemed fitting.
Danny kept his sights on the parking area, and soon a non-descript dark sedan pulled in, and the driver exited the vehicle. The man’s bearing could only be military, so Danny approached.
“Captain Wilkes? I’m Danny Williams.”
The man returned Danny’s greeting and handshake and the two men began a slow walk around the memorial.
“I hope I’m not being insensitive, but are you Bonded?”
Wilkes laughed. “Yes I am, and my Mate is visiting veterans at the V.A. Hospital this morning.”
“Are you both military?”
“No, my Mate was a civilian nurse when we met. She wanted very little to do with the Navy, so she kept her job in the civilian hospital after we Mate-bonded. We’ve been together over twenty years. I was well established in my military service when I found her.”
Danny nodded. “I have a bit of a quandary. I married young, because I never found my Mate. Then, after a child and a divorce, I ended up here, and I did find my Mate. And I feel the Bond getting stronger on my end, but he doesn’t seem to feel it at all. The only Favoured One that I know personally is my Aunt Maggie. She was the one who suggested that I speak to a military-Favoured One.”
“You think it’s because he’s military that he doesn’t acknowledge the Bond?”
“I don’t know what to think. I know he had troubles in his younger years. And that his father sent him away from home when he was a teenager. I know he’s in a relationship with a woman he served with, and I really don’t want to break that up, but this unfinished Bond is making me nuts.”
Wilkes snorted indelicately. “I would imagine so. When a Favoured One enters military service, every effort is made to find the Bond mate. There are rare cases when the Bond mate is found in enemy service, and then lots of therapy is involved. But the only way he would have been encouraged to become involved with someone who is not Favoured is if he never told anyone about his own status. As you know, Favoured Pairs are sought after because of the good fortune they bring.”
Danny nodded. “He has tattoos. Lots of tattoos. He also has a propensity for taking off his shirts, which is how I managed to find his Scar on his shoulder, covered by a large tattoo.”
Wilkes paused and thought for a moment. “Could it be that he is not aware that he’s Favoured?”
“No way. He knows. I work with someone who knew his father. They spoke about it recently, so he is aware.”
“It’s possible that, like you, he never found his Mate at a younger age, so he decided to move on without. You said you got married. He may have unconsciously turned off that self-awareness. It’s possible that he feels the Bond, but is unsure of what that feeling is.”
“So, do you think I should confront him or bring it up?”
Wilkes inclined his head in thought. “I think you may have to, before the loss of a Bond drives you completely ‘round the bend.”
Danny again shook the man’s hand. “Thanks for the talk and advice.”
“Do me a favour, Williams. Let me know how it turns out.”
When Danny returned to the office, the place was empty. Chin and Kono were, no doubt, at lunch. Danny figured Lori was in a meeting with the Governor. It was her job as watchdog to check in periodically.
Danny walked into his office and spied a plain white envelope on his desk. Remembering the last time he found something like that (dolphin-swim, anyone?), he eagerly opened the envelope and read the contents.
‘Dear Danno: By the time you read this, I’ll be gone. Jenna Kaye left me a message that she’s found the location of Wo Fat. I know you don’t want me to do this on my own, but I need to see this through. Hug Grace for me. I’ll be back as soon as I can.’
The Five-0 team stood huddled around the Tech Table, listening to a garbled recording.
Their leader was missing. No clues, just…gone.
But not too gone. Danny felt in his bones that Steve was still alive. They just didn’t know where he was.
Chin had managed to deflect Lori pretty well, sending her on odd errands outside the office. She wasn’t Five-0, not really, so she had no place here while they tried to find Steve.
Danny had even broken down and called Catherine to ask for help, but Steve hadn’t even let her know of his plans to seek out Wo Fat and deal with him.
All they had was the phone call, garbled and mangled, from Jenna Kaye in an undisclosed location.
“He tricked me. He has Steve. Josh is dead, really dead. I’m so sorry.”
That is all. There are no ambient sounds to identify where she might have been when she made the call.
The only thing that was clear about the message was that Jenna gave Steve false information and lured him away.
Kono was on the verge of tears.
Chin looked like he wanted to punch someone—and Jenna Kaye was high on his list.
Danny was heart-sick.
He hadn’t had time to tell Steve about their Bond; hadn’t been able to make Steve see that ignoring the Bond would lead to bad things.
And bad things happened.
The group didn’t hear the door to their headquarters open, nor did they notice a man enter the lobby behind them—until he spoke, startling them all.
“Excuse me; I’m looking for Steve McGarrett.”
Danny turned to face the man. He was older, near his father’s age, and he held himself like a career military man.
“I’m Danny Williams. Steve isn’t available right now. Can I help you?”
“I’m sorry to hear that. I’m actually here to help Steve. I’m Joe White. I’m an old family friend of the McGarrett’s. Steve called me about a week ago, asking for my help with a puzzle he was working on. I was in the area on business, so I thought I’d offer the answers in person.”
Danny alerted immediately. “What did Steve ask you? Did he give any indication that he would be leaving the state?”
White shook his head. “No, he never told me he was leaving. He had a coded name he wanted my help with.”
Chin nodded. “That must have been about the stuff from John’s old case. Steve had been working on it in his spare time.”
Joe looked interested. “What case of John’s?”
Chin led the man to a seating area where they could get more comfortable. “After John took retirement from HPD, he began looking into his wife’s accident. John became obsessed with the idea that Doris was murdered, and he was trying to prove it. Steve had all the legwork that John left behind; all of these cryptic notes and coded messages. That case was the reason John sent the kids away from the island.”
White looked around at the team. “Did any of you know what the case was about?”
Danny shook his head. “We don’t know the specifics, but a man named Wo Fat was involved. Steve traced him to the Chinese Triads. Wo Fat was working with the former Governor, and between the two of them, they arranged for John to be killed.”
Joe gave a sharp whistle. “And you said Steve left recently, but you have no idea where he went?”
Danny scoffed. “He left me a fucking note stating that he got new information about Wo Fat and his location, and Steve was going to hunt him down. Alone. Without back-up, the bastard!”
White leaned forward in his seat. “When Steve called me, he was asking me to find the identity of something called ‘Shelbourne’. I did some digging and found out it was connected to Steve’s mother. She was, as it turns out, ex-CIA.”
Chin gaped at Joe. “I bet that’s something that John never knew. We all knew Doris as a school teacher.”
Danny nodded. “Jenna Kaye, the person who gave him the latest information, was CIA as well.”
“Have you thought to trace her whereabouts? She may have left a trace of herself.”
Chin stood and walked to the Tech Table. “We have a record of her calling the office six days ago, which jibes with Steve’s departure. I know Steve hadn’t seen her in person in some time. I think he mentioned Korea, but I can’t remember much more about it. She called here this morning, from an untraceable number. The message is garbled, like the connection is weak. She was saying that she was tricked and she was sorry.”
Joe nodded. “So, she obviously sent Steve faulty information, not realizing that she was wrong.”
Danny shook his head. “Maybe she knew she was wrong, but was tricked about something else entirely. When she was here working with Steve, she kept mentioning her fiancé, who was allegedly killed by Wo Fat. What if she was told he was alive, and she had to bring Steve to where ever he was?”
Joe stood. “Let me make a few calls. I have contacts that you do not. I’ll see if I can find records of a young woman making the trip to Asia through less than legitimate means. We’ll find Steve, I promise you.”
Joe White was as good as his word. He used contacts that Danny didn’t want to think about, and connections best left alone, and he managed to find a mercenary who flew Jenna into North Korea—just over the border of South Korea. Then he managed to get satellite confirmation of a location where Steve may have been held. The pictures were grainy and out of focus, but Danny figured that it looked shady enough to be Evil Bad Guy Base number one.
Joe began putting together a team of ex-military soldiers-of-fortune for a rescue mission. He said it was because Steve was like a son to him, and Danny believed it. But Danny demanded to go along for the trip.
“You won’t be safe, Detective. We know what we’re getting into. You don’t.”
“Yeah, well, Steve is my partner and my best friend, and I’m going to bring him back. Then I’m going to give him hell for leaving a note and going off without back-up! And you can’t stop me!”
And with those words, Chin and Kono threw in with Danny, making it a full-on Five-0 mission.
Lori caught up with them at the airfield. Dammit!
“The Governor has no idea what you’re all doing, does he?”
Danny rolled his eyes at her. “What do you think? Look, Steve is the heart of Five-0. There are things you don’t understand, but we have to be the ones to bring him home. Do what you have to do, but we’re going.”
And with that, Danny climbed aboard the plane and left Lori standing on the tarmac as they took off.
Danny hoped that Steve was alive, because when he found Steve, Danny was going to kill him!
Broken and bleeding, half blind with pain, Steve lay on the soil floor of the warehouse.
Wo Fat had beaten him near to death, and had promised to come back and finish the job.
Jenna had tricked him. She was working with Wo Fat the entire time.
And Steve was no closer to knowing the truth about what happened to his mother, or why his father was killed.
A noise drew his attention. The door to his cell scraped open, and in crawled Jenna Kaye.
She was also broken and bloody.
“God, Steve. I’m so sorry!”
“Why, Jenna?” Steve rasped.
“He told me Josh was alive. All I had to do was get you here, and we could go.”
“And was he? Alive? Was it worth it?”
Jenna laughed mirthlessly. “I got to say good-bye. That’s all. Wo Fat tortured him. Probably for months. Josh didn’t even know who I was, in the end.”
“I’m so sorry for your loss.” Steve felt he had the right to be bitter just now.
“Steve, I managed a call. I told your team about you.”
“Did you tell them where I was?”
“No. I don’t even know where we are. But I know they’ll be able to find us.”
“I’m chained to this chair, Jenna. I doubt I’ll be making an escape anytime soon.”
“I can get you out.”
“Josh had knee surgery a year ago. He had a pin put in his leg. I managed….I managed to dig it out. I’ll give it to you, and you can pick your cuffs. We can get out.”
Just then, a noise distracted them. The door pushed open once again, this time admitting Wo Fat himself.
“I see you found a way to say good-bye to McGarrett.”
Jenna began to cry. “Please. I did what you asked. Let me go! Please!”
Wo Fat leveled a gun at her. “I have what I needed from you. You no longer serve a purpose here.” And he shot her, point blank in the forehead. Jenna’s body dropped right in front of Steve, and he noticed that her fist never released.
“I have arrangements to make, McGarrett. I’ll be back for you. Take the time to say good-bye to this traitor.”
And Steve was left alone with the body of Jenna Kaye. She had lied to him all along. What if she was telling the truth now?
Steve managed to tip his chair onto its side, and he groped for Jenna’s hand from behind his body. He managed to open her fisted hand, and inside he did find the metal pin! The angle would be awkward, but he thought he could just manage to pick the lock on the cuffs.
Steve stood on shaky legs and rubbed circulation back into his hands. He looked closely at the door, but the lock was on the outside, and he couldn’t risk opening it anyway, in case there were guards. But the window….
Steve managed to drag his worn body into the back of a covered truck that was out of the way of the building he was being held in. He pulled the tarp covering over the cargo bed, and hid as best as he could behind some crates. Outside, he could hear shouting as it was discovered that he had escaped. If he were truly lucky, Wo Fat would look at the grass- and wooded area around the warehouse, and would skip searching the truck. Moments later, Steve felt the vibrations of the truck as it was started, and then he was in motion. The shouting outside continued, and Steve figured Wo Fat’s men were searching the area for him. Steve could hear distant helicopters, and he guessed that Wo Fat was on the move from some threat or other. He was obviously being left for dead.
And wasn’t that the truth, though?
Nobody knew he was here.
He had no way of getting home.
And once this truck stopped, he would be found and disposed of. He had no weapons to defend himself.
Steve was drifting into unconsciousness.
He never said good-bye to his sister. God! She would never know what had happened to him!
He would never get to stand beside Chin as he got married.
He would never see Danny or Grace again.
For some reason, that hurt most of all.
Steve never knew how long he was unconscious. He came to when the truck stopped moving, and he heard automatic gun fire.
This was it! Whatever was happening now, this was the end for him.
Steve crouched further into the corner of the truck as the tarp was lifted away, and the light flooding in momentarily blinded him.
That was the only reason he had for what he was seeing.
There was Danny. Reaching for him.
“Steve? Are you okay? We’re here to bring you home!”
“Who?” Steve mumbled. “Who is here?”
Danny laughed. “We all are. Five-0. Well, except for Lori. We kinda left her behind to deal with the Governor.”
Steve marveled at his partner. “How did you find me?”
Danny was gently helping Steve out of the truck and into the light of the afternoon. From behind Danny, Steve could see the rest of his team, as well as new faces that he didn’t recognize.
“Your pal, Joe White. I don’t know what mojo he used, but he found you, and he pulled together this rag-tag bunch to rescue you. Now, what do you say? You want to go home?”
Steve had seen better days, that’s for sure. When they found Jenna’s body in the abandoned warehouse, Danny had feared the worst.
He began to hope a little bit when they intercepted the convoy. The firefight was fierce, but he managed to hold his own. He could feel Steve, still alive but weak. That meant he was close. Once the mercs were dealt with, Danny and Kono began to search the vehicles.
Danny’s heart almost stopped when he did finally find Steve.
He couldn’t see Steve’s face for all the blood. But then Steve’s eyes opened, and it was the most wonderful thing Danny had ever seen.
Steve demanded to be handed his own gun for the trip home, because of course he did. Danny was sure that was because he hated being rescued. Didn’t he know that Danny would always come for him?
“Awe, Danny, that’s so sweet!” Kono’s smile was blinding.
Did he say that aloud?
- He could deflect.
“Well, I don’t want to have to face the Governor without Steve’s presence. This is his gig, remember.”
But the whole way home (and wasn’t that ten long hours!), Danny couldn’t look Chin in the eye.
Steve, of course, remained clueless.
He spent the time asking how Joe managed to find his exact location.
“Well, you aren’t the only one who is able to ask certain Naval Intelligence Officers for assistance.”
Danny figured it out when they landed at the small airfield, and Catherine was there to meet the plane.
And Steve, the bastard, went into her arms and allowed her to cart him off to a medical exam with the promise of taking care of him personally.
As for Lori? Well, she just told the Governor that Steve stepped out to help an old friend with a personal issue, so the rest of the team took some time off for personal research.
Danny clapped her shoulder in thanks, and invited her to dinner with the rest of the team (sans Steve).
Chin just gave him a look of sad disappointment.
So, Grace was practically bouncing when Danny arrived to pick her up for their weekend.
“Hey. Monkey! What has you so happy?”
“Mommy promised I could tell you, but she wants you to come inside first.”
Puzzled, Danny agreed, and he allowed his wonderful daughter to drag him into his ex-wife’s house.
Danny had been here a few times. It was a bit ostentatious, in Danny’s opinion, but then he had simple tastes. Rachel was seated in a comfy chair in her lavishly decorated sitting room, and she gestured for Danny to seat himself.
“So, Grace wants to tell me something? Is it bad?”
Rachel smiled. “No, Daniel. It’s not bad.”
“Noooooo! Mommy, you promised!”
“Alright, Grace. You tell him your news.”
“Danno! Guess what! I’m getting a little brother!”
Danny was stunned. He looked to Rachel for conformation, and she just smiled at him.
“Rach! That’s wonderful!” And he stood and dragged his ex-wife into a heartfelt hug. “When did this happen?”
“I figured it happened after the carjacking. Our emotions were rather high, and Stan was so relieved that we were safe.”
“Yeah, we all were relieved. So, what? Life affirming became life creating?”
Rachel laughed. “Something like that!”
The whole weekend, all Grace could talk about was her new baby brother.
Danny was of two minds about the whole thing. He was happy for Rachel and Stan. He knew they were already great parents. He just wished he would get his happy ever after as well.
He still hadn’t managed to speak with Steve about the Bond. And lately, when they weren’t working, Steve was in close company with Joe White looking over possibilities about Shelbourne.
As much as Danny wanted Steve to get the answers he wanted, he felt often bereft from lack of attention.
The Bond felt like it was in danger.
The Bond felt like it was dying.
Between Joe White’s military contacts and Steve’s island contacts, they managed to connect the mysterious ‘Shelbourne’ with the Yakuza.
Unfortunately, Steve had no contacts within Yakuza, so that was practically a dead end.
Until Joe got kidnapped. By the son of the local Yakuza boss.
It seems ‘Shelbourne’ was responsible for the assassination long ago of the Yakuza Head, and Sonny-boy figured Joe to be “Shelbourne’.
And while Adam Noshimuri was willing to admit that he was desperately trying to bring his father’s businesses out from under the criminal organization and into the mainstream, he was still fiercely Japanese and honor-bound to find his father’s killer.
Fortunately, he was willing to listen to reason. Steve managed to convince Noshimuri that he and Joe were searching for Shelbourne in connection to Steve’s own father’s murder. Noshimuri agreed to give over any and all information he has about Shelbourne, in exchange for vengeance for his father.
Joe was able to use his own slightly shady connections to find out two important things:
1) Akihiro Noshimuri was still alive and in hiding in Tokyo, and
2) Shelbourne was also alive and in hiding.
Joe left Hawaii with the earnest vow to find Shelbourne for Steve. He just had no reasonable timeframe for such a thing.
Steve settled back in to bring Five-0 back to fighting strength.
After his return (rescue) from North Korea, the team struggled for normalcy.
Chin’s wedding plans began again in earnest.
Kono began studying for the detective’s exam, even though she was too new to the force to take it yet. Steve was still glad that she was taking her career seriously
Well, Steve didn’t know what to do about Danny.
They drove together more often than not, with Steve commandeering the Camero on official business.
They spent the odd Grace weekend together, if Danny didn’t have anything planned elsewhere.
They talked about cases all the time.
Danny seemed to want to spend time with Steve, but he almost looked like he was in pain when they were in the same room together.
And that rescue! Steve knew that Danny took charge of that, for all that Joe was the one to put it together.
Steve knew that Danny came to get him and bring him home.
Every time Steve was injured, Danny was there for him.
And yet, Danny couldn’t seem to want Steve to be happy.
Steve mentioned the other day that Catherine was thinking about retiring from the Navy and possibly moving to Hawaii to start her civilian life. He was thinking of making more of an effort with his relationship with her.
Danny huffed at him, and walked away, muttering under his breath.
Steve didn’t know how to take that.
And his relationship with Catherine wasn’t all that clear cut, either. Steve cared for her, maybe even loved her a little bit. When he was apart from her, Steve wanted to see her.
When they were together, something inside Steve felt empty.
Mary Ann was back on the island.
She had gotten a job as a flight attendant, and she would be spending a lot of time here because this was going to be her regular route.
Steve was thrilled at the chance to rebuild his relationship with his sister. He offered her her old room at the house, so she could stay there for layovers. Mary declined, saying she was out-growing her childhood home. Instead, she offered to let Steve buy out her share of the house so she could get an apartment nearby. They would still see each other, but she wouldn’t be in his back pocket all the time.
And she wouldn’t be in the way, should he finally get off his ass and find his Favoured Mate.
Mary Ann was the second person—ever—to mention him finding his Favoured Mate. Steve didn’t even consider that a possibility anymore. He had stopped looking forward to the possible meeting when he entered SEAL training. He never mentioned to anyone, not even his doctors, that he was a Favoured One. He began collecting tattoos to cover for the fact that he had never found his Mate and likely would not.
And now, so many years later, first Chin, then Mary, asked him about the possibility of finding his Mate.
What if he couldn’t find her? Or him? Whichever.
And if he did, how would he know?
Steve called Mamo. He needed counsel, and he knew Mamo would not steer him wrong.
Steve entered the Veteran’s Hospital lobby and asked for directions to the Favoured Counseling Office. Every VA unit had one. For some reason, a large number of Favoured Ones found their way into military service. Not as many as became doctors, but it had to do with the drive to protect the tribe. Stories said that if society was still agrarian, more Favoured would work the land than would serve in the military, since providing sustenance would be paramount.
Steve found his room and introduced himself to the older woman sitting at desk inside.
“I’m Commander Steve McGarrett. Mamo Kahike sent me?”
“Ah, yes, Commander. I’m Virginia Wilkes. Please take a seat. My partner will be joining us soon. First I’d like to get some information, if that’s alright?”
“Please. Anything to help, right?”
Nurse Wilkes smiled at him. “I understand from speaking with Mamo that you are struggling with your Bond?”
Steve shook his head. “No, that’s not right. I don’t feel a Bond. With anyone. I just haven’t found my Mate yet, is all.”
“And you think that’s not normal?”
“I think, at my age, I should have by now.”
The door to the office opened, and a strikingly composed man in Naval uniform walked in.
“Sorry I’m late, Commander. I was waylaid in the hall. So, you think you should have found your Mate?”
Steve snorted. “Well, I guess by now, you know. I’d developed the Scar at age eight years. According to the classes at the Temple, I should have been able to find my Mate long before now.”
The man, Captain Wilkes by his insignia, sat beside Steve. “And how do you suppose you were to find your Mate?”
“What do you mean?” Steve was confused. “I’m supposed to ‘feel’ when my Mate is near, right?”
“And what does that feel like?”
Steve shook his head. “I don’t know.”
Captain Wilkes sat back and smiled. “I was in the Navy for fifteen years, mostly on ship and often in heavy combat, when I met my Mate. By that time, I knew what it was like to be shot, to be electrocuted, and even to be hit by a car. That last one occurred while on leave in Wisconsin, by the way, and I do not recommend it. I knew what it was like to fall in love, and what it felt like to lose that love. I knew what it was like to make friends and to lose them. I knew what victory felt like, and defeat.
“But no-one, ever, could have told me what it would feel like to meet my Mate. I’ve heard all the old stereotypical descriptions: Lightning Shock, Air Sucked Out Of The Room, Bottom of Your Stomach Dropping Out. I thought I knew what to expect, so I would be ready. And that just didn’t happen. Believe it or not, getting hit by that car was more noticeable. Instead, one day I was visiting an old classmate in the hospital where he was recovering from surgery, and in walked this nurse—nothing special. Medium-height, slender, dark hair, not at all story-book ravishing. But she looked at me, and I felt like I had known her all my life. Like we were already old friends, and I didn’t even know her name.”
Virginia smirked at them. “And that’s as complimentary as he ever gets about me. We don’t have an epic romance, but we do belong together. I can feel when he hurts—either physically or emotionally. I know when he’s in the same building as I am, or if he’s across town. The earth didn’t move, Commander, not for either of us. We just fit.”
Steve sat back in his chair and ran his hands over his face.
This? He could have used this a long time ago. All his life, he was waiting for…something. Something spectacular. Something noticeable. And what this Favoured Pair described? It was so simple, so easy—and easy to miss. He never felt that.
Or did he?
Steve thought about Catherine. When he met her, he felt attraction. She was a beautiful woman—he would have had to be dead not to feel attraction. But everything they had, they had to work for.
Every relationship outside of family—every lover and every friend—he had to work for.
Steve groaned. “Danno.”
Captain Wilkes shot Steve a look. “What was that?”
“I think I have met my Mate. Danny Williams—he’s my partner on the Task Force. He’s my best friend. We met, and I just itched whenever we were in the same room. I still do, actually. It’s almost a painful itch, but I’ve kind of gotten used to ignoring it. I just…I like spending time with him, but he seems reluctant sometimes.”
Captain Wilkes stared hard at Steve. “The itch can mean a dead or dying Bond. Once Favoured Ones are together, if they don’t encourage the Bond, it’ll struggle. Since you didn’t know he was your Mate, you ignored the forming Bond. And you just admitted to having a serious girlfriend, so you obviously aren’t interested in building the Bond.”
Steve frowned. “No, no, that’s not right. I didn’t know! Danny always has my back, you know. He…he came for me. He’s always there, unless Catherine is around. He shares his child with me; she calls me ‘Uncle Steve’.” Steve was pained. “He came for me, and then he let me go to be with Catherine.”
Steve felt a soft hand on his shoulder, and when he looked, Virginia Wilkes was hugging him.
“Commander, if he thought you were happy, he’d want you to be happy.”
Steve shuddered under such gentleness. “But you’re not supposed to ignore the Marks. Bad things happen when you ignore the Marks. It’s in all the stories.”
Captain Wilkes cleared his throat. “You have been working together, so that would build a Bond. But haven’t bad things happened already?” He shot Steve a knowing look, and Steve knew that, for all that Joe White had kept his trip to and rescue from North Korea under the radar, some people were aware of what happened.
Steve laughed mirthlessly. “God! He told me he would always come for me, and I just brushed it off. And he only pulls away when I talk about Catherine. He looked so lost when Catherine drove me away from the airfield. I am an idiot!”
Wilkes shook his head. “No, Commander, not an idiot. One thing I’ve learned is that military Favoured, if they aren’t Bonded young, have the instinct to Bond trained right out of them. Mainly because it’s a distraction in a war zone. Can’t fight and protect if you’re spending your time looking for a Mate, can you?”
Steve stood. “Thank you both, so much. I need to talk to Danny. I need to talk to Catherine. She wants to retire and move in with me. I can’t do that. Not to her, and not to Danny.”
“Is she aware of your Favoured status?” Wilkes asked gently.
“I doubt it. I’ve never mentioned it. She never mentioned seeing my Mark.”
“Then I hope she’s very understanding when you tell her. After such a long relationship, she may be angry that you held this back from her.”
“I’ll just have to make sure she’s both unarmed and away from Danny.”
Steve did not get to talk to Catherine that day. Or the next. The Kennedy was on radio silence for an extended period, and Steve knew from experience that it would be better to wait for her to contact him.
In the meanwhile, Steve spent time enjoying the company of his sister when her schedule allowed. Since she was still in training, and based in Los Angeles, her time was premium. Still, she knew that he was interested in building a relationship, so she was willing as well.
Steve was still unsure as to how to approach Danny with his new revelation. He was nervous about how Danny would react. Danny could be rather abrasive when situations called for it, and Steve felt he deserved any ire he raised in the other man.
Looking back on their first meeting, in his father’s garage right before Steve took over the murder case and derailed Danny’s life, Steve could clearly see that Danny’s reaction to meeting Steve had less to do with an unknown person invading a Crime Scene and more to do with meeting his Favoured Mate after moving to foreign soil. The fact that Danny seemed to recover so quickly only emphasized how professional the man was.
Steve still issued invitations for Danny to bring Grace to his beach to swim, and Danny complied. Steve had a feeling that had more to do with Grace enjoying the private beach than anything else. So he tried a different tactic.
“Hey, Danno?” Steve called from the doorway to Danny’s office.
Danny looked up from his computer. “I thought I asked you not to call me that!”
“You like it. Do you know anything about advanced vehicle maintenance?”
“And that was a total non sequitur,” Danny muttered. “Why, yes, Steven, I do understand advanced vehicle maintenance. Why do you ask?”
Steve shrugged. “When I was younger, I used to help my dad work on his old Marquis. The damned thing hardly ever ran, and dad was basically rebuilding it on his own. It’s still in the garage, so I thought I’d try my hand at it. I was wondering if you’d like to help.”
Danny stared at him for a long moment before speaking. “You do realize that Chin would be better at this sort of thing, right?”
Steve shrugged. “I do plan on asking him for help, as well. At least with the major engine stuff. But I thought it would be fun for us. Mini-team building. If you want.”
Danny nodded. “Yeah, sure. I could help on some weekends. Maybe after work, if you aren’t busy elsewhere. Grace might like to help as well. It’s never too early to make her comfortable around a car. I don’t want my little girl to be helpless in a vehicle.”
Steve smiled. “Yeah, great. I need to uncover it and tear it apart. I’ve been away from the island since I was sixteen, so I know it’s been a while since I worked on it. I have no idea if dad kept it up or not. I haven’t even lifted the dust cover off of it yet.”
“But it’s a classic, right? Should be a good time to work on, but parts might be a bitch.”
“Danno, that’s what the internet is for!”
“No, no, no, Steven! You do not order car parts off the internet. You waste money and have no control over what you get. I have an uncle who runs a garage and restoration center. I’ll have him set us up. It might cost a bit more, but I can guarantee the parts that way.”
And so the project began. Steve had to build up his friendship first, before he tried to allow the Bond to build. He resolved to tell Danny about his Scar the first weekend they worked on the car. He’d let Danny know that he didn’t understand what was going on, but that he was interested in building something with Danny.
Then he’d follow Danny’s lead.
Steve knew Danny would not hurt him intentionally.
The phone ringing woke Steve from a troubled sleep. He still had nightmares about North Korea—about maybe never being rescued and dying alone and apart from his family and friends.
“Steve? It’s Joe! Are you awake?”
“Yeah, Joe. Sorry. What time is it?”
“Late. Or early. Anyway, I found Shelbourne.”
That woke Steve completely! “You did!? Where are you?”
“I’m in a tiny village near Hakodate, Japan. You have to come here, Steve. I can’t bring Shelbourne to you, not by myself.”
Steve struggled out of bed and grabbed for his pants. “Shit! Okay, I’ll try to get a flight to Tokyo today. Give me a number to reach you. I need to tell the team. I can’t just leave a note like last time. They’ll kill me!”
“Okay, here’s the number.” Joe rattled off a phone number while Steve got dressed. “I’ll meet you in Tokyo and arrange transportation back here for both of us. And Steve, try to prepare yourself. This is going to be a huge shock.”
Danny finally felt like he was getting somewhere with his life. He had a good job that he loved. His co-workers were like a new family for him, and they welcomed Grace among their ranks. He was finally at peace with Rachel, and she and Stan asked him to be godfather to their new baby.
The only hitch was Steve.
Steve remained skittish after coming home from Korea. Granted, he almost died over there, and he was betrayed by someone he considered a friend, so Danny could understand that.
For his part, Danny tried to be a good friend. He stopped complaining when Steve commandeered his car for police business. He started taking Grace swimming at Steve’s beach again. He even initiated the ‘beer after work’ ritual that they had all let slide after a while.
Danny even took Steve to be fitted for a tuxedo for Chin’s wedding, even though Steve stated that he’d rather wear his dress uniform.
But Steve still talked about Catherine, and that just tore Danny up inside.
And Danny still had to watch Lori Weston try, badly, to flirt with Steve while on the job.
And that shit was getting old!
So, Danny hid in his office, patiently translating Steve’s military-speak into English for their reports. Damned Steve never did get around to learning how to fill out civilian reports!
“Hey, Danny? Can we talk?”
Danny looked up from his desk to find Lori standing in his doorway.
“Yeah, sure, come on in. What’s up?”
“Well, I’ve been with the team for a couple of months now, and I think we work okay together.”
“Yes, we do. Having a profiler on the team has been a great asset.”
“So, why do I get the feeling that you don’t like me?”
Danny stared at Lori. “Um….”
“I know I’m only here because the Governor put me on the team to keep you from getting out of control, but I do try to stay part of the team.”
Danny nodded. “Yes, you do.”
“And I know you seem to like having me join you on team nights, or just hanging out during downtime.”
“Yes, that’s true.”
“So why do you want to keep me from my Favoured Mate?”
“What?” Danny gaped.
“Steve. You seem to not want me to be around Steve.”
Danny was dumbfounded. “And you think Steve is your Favoured Mate?”
“I know he is. I felt it in my bones when we first met.”
Danny shifted in his seat, suddenly very uncomfortable.
“You do realize that Steve is involved with Catherine Rollins, right?” And now Danny can drag that relationship out to his own advantage.
Lori scoffed. “That’s only convenience. Once Steve and I Bond, Catherine will be gone for good.”
Danny frowned. “And you’re sure Steve is Favoured?”
“Of course. I overheard Steve and Chin talking about it before Steve ran off to Korea. Once I heard that, I knew he was the one!”
“But you haven’t seen his Mark, or anything, right?”
“I don’t need to see it, Danny. I just know. And I want you to know that even though Steve is meant to be with me, I won’t keep him from being your friend. Friendships are important, and you two are close. But you do understand that Steve and I are meant to be together. So I’d really like you and me to be friends as well.”
Danny frowned. “Alright, Lori. We’ll work on that, okay. I’m sorry I upset you.”
Lori stood and headed for the door. “Thanks, Danny. That’s all I ask.”
Now wasn’t that a hell of a thing?
Danny knew, from all the school and temple classes that children are required to take from age six to age sixteen, that Favoured Ones come in pairs.
Only two. And their Marks are mirror images, usually on the opposite extremity if not in the exact same spot. So, right arm to left arm, or right flank to left abdominal.
Danny carefully removed the watch from his left arm, and rubbed his thumb over the smooth white scar there. House-shaped pentagram, connected to three stars.
Steve had the mirror scar on his right shoulder, barely hiding under a brilliantly-colored tattoo.
Danny knew that Steve had cooled it on his habit of stripping down in public, and hadn’t even removed his shirt in front of people since before Lori joined Five-0, so she really hadn’t seen Steve’s Mark.
So, why did she think she was Steve’s Favoured Mate?
He needed to figure this out, and he needed to do it before Steve returned from Japan. Danny really didn’t want Steve to be blind-sided by Lori’s claim. He needed his team for this, and in order to get the team’s help, he had to show his own Mark.
Chin had already seen it. Kono had not.
Danny looked out into the lobby and noticed Lori heading out the door on her way to the Governor’s office for her weekly meeting. Straightening his files, Danny walked to the Tech Table and motioned Chin and Kono to meet him there.
Danny peered out the main door to make sure Lori was really gone before he faced his other team-mates.
“Guys, we have a problem, and I really need your help.”
Chin and Kono frowned at each other. “What’s up, man? Is it a case?”
“No, but I really wish it was.” Danny held up his bare wrist. “I know Chin has seen this, but now I need to show you.”
Kono looked closely at Danny’s Scar, and made to touch it before pulling back. “Oh, my god! I’ve never seen a Favoured Mark up close before! Wait—who is your Mate, because I know it’s not Rachel?”
Danny sighed. “You can’t really see it, but Steve has the mirror of this on his right shoulder, under that tattoo.”
“But…I don’t understand?” Kono stammered slightly. “You aren’t together? Are you?”
“No, we’re not. Because Steve is a giant goof! But that’s not the problem. I can handle that problem on my own, and I will when he gets home. Right now, there’s something else that I need your help with.”
Chin looked thoughtful. “Okay, what is it?”
Danny sighed. “Just now, Lori was in my office demanding to know why I didn’t like her and was determined to keep her from her Favoured Mate: Steve. She didn’t offer to show me her Mark, if she has one, and she admitted that she has never seen Steve’s. But she insists that she ‘knew’ Steve was the one the moment they met. And once she tells Steve, Catherine will be gone for good.”
Danny ran his hand over his face. “She looked so sincere, like she really believes it. But now I can’t ask her about it. We need to figure out why she believes this, and if she really has a Mark.”
Kono’s eyes widened. “She doesn’t have one! We’ve been surfing, so I’ve seen her in a bikini. She does have a jagged scar on her left shoulder, right in front. Looks like a bullet wound to me, but I didn’t ask.”
Chin looked thoughtful. “I’ll try to look into her background. If she was shot in the line of duty, it’ll be in her records. Any other scars will be listed on her FBI Physical Form, so they have a list in case they need to identify her. They won’t say if it’s a Favoured Mark, but a scar will be listed. That’s how Steve’s is listed in his military records.”
Kono nodded. “I can try to bring it up while surfing this weekend. Tell her one of the younger cousins is learning about Favoured Ones in school this year, so that’s all he talks about. It’s common enough in large families, and she can look up the school curriculum if she wants—it is that time of year for it.”
“Okay, good.” Danny took a breath. “I’m going to go to the Governor. At the very least, he deserves to know that a potential Favoured Pair is on his Special Crimes Task Force. I never felt comfortable enough with Jameson to tell her about it, and Steve was acting in the dark, so it never came up. If he’s smart, Denning will realize how advantageous having a Favoured Pair will be. All that luck and good fortune and stuff.”
Kono gave Danny the side-eye. “I always thought your case-closed record was too good to be real.”
Danny rolled his eyes. “Yeah, well, nobody ever asked. I wasn’t given any help in HPD—stupid back-assed prejudices. So they didn’t need to know, you know.”
Chin nodded. “Steve mentioned that his SEAL team just thought they were regular lucky. He started getting tattoos rather young, and they almost cover the Mark.”
Kono huffed and pouted.
Danny looked at her, amused. “What’s wrong?”
“I was giving you surfing lessons! You were swimming, shirtless and bare-armed, and I never noticed. I need to work on my observational skills.”
Danny pointed at her. “Yeah, you do that. I’m gonna finish my reports and call to make an appointment with the Governor. I can only hope Lori hasn’t mentioned her scar to him yet.”
Danny had just reseated himself when his cell rang with Steve’s ringtone.
“Hey, Babe—how’s Japan?”
“Cold. And wet. We’re just on the Tugaru Straight, so the weather isn’t great. Whoever is hiding here picked a good spot.”
“So, you’re really getting some answers, huh?”
“I hope so. We’re going in tonight. I hope to be home in a day or so. If it takes longer, I’ll call. Anything major going on there?”
Danny sighed. If only he knew! “Nah, we got it covered. Look, I don’t want to add to your stress, but you and I should talk when you get back.”
“I couldn’t agree more. I gotta go, Danno. I’ll talk to you later.”
Danny settled back into his chair. It was good to hear Steve’s voice. It made the Bond settle into his bones.
Now he had to make sure nothing put that Bond to risk.
He picked up his phone and dialed.
“Good afternoon, this is Governor Sam Denning’s office. It’s a great day to be in Hawaii! How can I help you?”
“Hey, Tanya! This is Detective Danny Williams from Five-0.”
“Aloha, Detective! The Governor is in a meeting right now. Would you like to leave a message?”
“No, thank you, Tanya. I would like to know if the Governor is free to meet with me on a confidential matter. Today would be best, but tomorrow at the latest.”
“One moment….Yes! Detective, The Governor had a cancellation for this afternoon at three o’clock. Shall I pencil you in?”
“Yes, thanks. Could you also not tell him about the meeting until way after lunch? Like, after Lori Weston is away from the office? It really is a personal and confidential matter, and I would rather she not ask me about it at the office later.”
“Sure thing, Detective. And how is your daughter doing?”
And Danny was happy to spend a few moments chatting with the Governor’s cheery assistant. As long as she kept his meeting secret—and he knew she would—he’d pass the time for a bit. He was also going to visit the Godiva shop on Ala Moana before he went. Tanya deserved a little treat today.
Sam Denning was a large, boisterous man. In his younger days, he played professional baseball on the mainland before private business brought his wife and him to Hawaii. He was fair and just, and the public trusted him after it was proven, without a doubt, that the corruption of the previous administration was kept far from him.
In fact, Denning went out of his way to publicize his own personal business dealings that were separate from his office, so that the public could keep an eye out and make sure he was clean.
Danny appreciated the fact that Denning didn’t spend a lot of time dragging Five-0 off to take care of his personal friends the way Jameson did. If Denning has a special assignment for them, it was in the State’s best interest, not necessarily Denning’s best interest.
“Detective Williams, what can I do for you?”
Danny reached forward to shake the larger man’s hand. “Thanks for seeing me on short notice. I hate bringing personal stuff out in the open, but I kind of feel like I have to in this case.”
Denning seated himself in an armchair in front of his desk, and gestured Danny to the chair next to him. Danny appreciated that the man didn’t use his desk to put distance between them, as if he know this was going to be a touchy subject.
“Look, I’ll speak plain here. I’m a private person. Commander McGarrett is a very private person. And for reasons I can’t really go into here, we have an issue that we’re going to be working on in the near future. The fact is, I’ve only just revealed something to my team today that may have a major impact on how Five-0 operates, and I want to bring you into the loop now before something ridiculous happens.”
Denning templed his fingers together under his chin and regarded the detective closely. “Alright. I’m listening. You aren’t going to be leaving, are you? Because you rein in McGarrett better than anyone else.”
Danny laughed. “No, not leaving. But this may explain how I can keep McGarrett to heel. Have you ever met a Favoured Pair?”
Danny watched at Denning’s eyes widened at the implication. “You and McGarrett?”
“Yeah. I knew before he did, because his military training retarded his instincts a bit. So, he and I are going to have a lot of work ahead of us as we build our Bond. In the long run, this will be a good thing for the Task Force, this Office, and the State of Hawaii. Right now, it’s a muddled mess.”
“Well, I’m certainly glad you told me. I’ll do anything I can to accommodate the two of you as you work through this.”
“And I thank you for that, but that’s not why I told you.”
“If not that, then why?”
“I called this meeting because this morning Lori Weston confronted me in my office and demanded to know why I didn’t like her, and why I seemed determined to keep her from her Favoured Mate.”
Denning frowned. “And who is her Favoured Mate?”
Danny huffed in annoyance. “She claims that Steve is her Mate.”
Denning seemed to ponder for a moment. “Wait. That’s not possible, is it?”
“It’s really, really not. Look, here’s my Mark.” And Danny once again removed his watch and showed his scar. “Now, under all that glorious ink on Steve’s body, there is a matching Mark on his shoulder. Right near the center of the Mystic Eye. As you know, Favoured Marks can’t be hidden or covered or obliterated. Once the gods Mark you, you stay Marked. Get him to take off his shirt—and that’s not hard to do—and you can see it clear as day; a pale spot in the ink. Lori never alluded to the Mark on Steve’s shoulder, and when I asked, she admitted to never having seen it. I couldn’t just be rude and ask to see hers, and under the circumstances I sure as hell wasn’t going to show mine.
“But mine is an exact match to Steve’s Mark—a perfect mirror image. And Kono reported that she’s been surfing with Lori and has only seen what appears to be a gunshot scar on Lori’s shoulder. And that scar is raised and jagged, from her recollection.”
Denning frowned then stood and paced for a moment. Finally he turned to Danny.
“Is there any reason you can think of why she would lie?”
“No. I mean, who would lie about something like that? Even with the ‘Magic Powder’ and white tattoos, the truth is easy to figure out. Plus, there’s the Bond, which is for all accounts mutual.”
“But you and McGarrett haven’t Bonded. Are you sure it’s mutual?”
Danny sighed. “I’m very sure. You probably didn’t notice in the very beginning, but Steve has always trusted me. Always. Even when we didn’t like each other much, and he was mourning and feeling like I wasn’t doing enough to find his father’s killer, he trusted me Sometimes the Bond is quiet. But it is always mutual. And pardon me for questioning your motives, but you put Lori on our team as a watchdog, and Steve has never fully trusted her. It’s not your fault, nor is it her’s. But Steve plays close to the vest with people he doesn’t trust, and after all this time, he has never fully let her in. That was one of her complaints to me this morning—that we keep her on the outside.”
Denning hummed. “And what you’re saying is that Lori is kept on the outside because McGarrett doesn’t trust her. So the rest of the team follows his lead?”
Danny shrugged. “Pretty much, yeah. We work with her, and we have her back, but she’s not part of us. I don’t think it’s because of her watch dogging us either. I know I’ve tried to reach out to her. Kono is the friendliest of us all, and she says Lori keeps distant. So, no, I don’t know why she would lie. I don’t want to think badly about her, but this unsettles me greatly. Steve is away for another day or so, and when he returns, we’ll be building our Bond. I can’t risk that.”
And, really, Danny hoped he hadn’t just lied to the Governor of Hawaii.
Danny hoped that Steve wanted to meet with him for the same reason that Danny wanted to meet with Steve.
The weather took a turn for the nasty just as Joe pulled the borrowed jeep into a dark driveway. If this weren’t such a serious occasion, Steve would have laughed at the suddenly mood-setting lightning and blasting rain.
Danny would love this; he’d call it major fore-shadowing, or something like it.
Steve turned to face Joe, the mentor he’d know since he was a child. This man put himself in great danger to bring Steve the answers he was searching for, and Steve was thankful.
“Do you know what’s in there, Joe?”
“I have an idea. Are you ready?”
Steve nodded. “I think so.”
“Then, let’s do this!”
Both men jumped from the jeep and ran to the covered doorway. Bracing himself, Steve raised his hand and knocked hard to be heard over the storm. He saw movement through a window, and then the door opened.
And revealed Doris McGarrett.
Danny was firmly becoming of the opinion that the luck and good fortune that followed a Favoured Pair were things of myth and legend.
Steve came back to Hawaii two days after Danny talked to him.
So, of course, Catherine magically appeared to wait for him.
Oh, she said she wasn’t aware that Steve was out of state on a personal matter, but somehow Danny wasn’t quite sure he believed her.
At least Steve looked surprised to see her.
She said that she was only on shore for a few days, but she would really like to spend them with Steve.
Danny managed not to roll his eyes too hard, but he will freely admit that he was pleased and intrigued when Steve told her that he had some major adjustments to make, and that he really needed to pull some heavy time with Five-0, so he wasn’t sure how much time he could spare for Catherine.
Catherine promised to stay at the house, and would welcome Steve when he came home.
Danny was proud of the way he did not slam his head against the wall with that proclamation. Kono shot him a sympathetic look anyway. At least she was on Danny’s side.
Steve called the whole team into their conference/video room for a ‘very important debriefing’. Danny took care to sit as close to Steve as he could, but he winced when Lori sat closely on Steve’s other side. Danny itched with the need to reach out and touch Steve’s hand as the other man spoke. He barely managed not to.
“So, I know I told you that Joe found Shelbourne. At the time, I didn’t know who or what Shelbourne was. I only knew that Dad was investigating Shelbourne in relation to my mother’s accident when I was sixteen.”
“So, Joe managed to track this person down to Japan?” Danny was beginning to wonder just how involved Joe White really was in this whole deal.
“Yeah, Danno. Once we realized that Shelbourne was CIA-related, Joe was able to call in some agency markers. Turns out Shelbourne was the code name for a CIA operative that had retired—or at least tried to—in 1975. The Vietnam War was ending, and shit was starting in Cambodia, and this person had been stationed as spy/assassin in Asia for about ten years at this point.”
Danny frowned. “So, what? Shelbourne left the wet-work field and hid on Oahu?”
Steve scowled. “Something like that. High ranking assets like that were given new identities and hidden in plain sight. It still happens. Shelbourne was decommissioned and placed here so the CIA could still keep tabs, but none of the Asian contacts could find her.”
“Wait,” said Chin, with a sharp look at Steve. “Her? Shelbourne was a ‘her’?”
Steve stood and began to pace around the table. “Code Name: Shelbourne became Doris Richards, English Teacher. It wasn’t much of a stretch. Her cover in Vietnam was as a teacher near established military bases.”
Danny was thunderstruck. “Your mother? Your mother is still alive?”
Steve sat again, and turned to face Danny. “Doris McGarrett nee Richards is still alive. Somehow, the family of one of her targets found her in Hawaii. Her family was threatened. She called her handler to get her off the island so she could protect us, and their solution was to fake a massive car crash so fiery and crushing that bodies could not readily be identified. Then they placed an unidentified body in her car, demolished it in an intersection during a lull in traffic, and let dad think his wife was dead. Doris was moved to a safe house—first in San Antonio, then in Japan. Where she continued to teach English.”
Danny’s mouth twisted in distaste. “At least they got creative with her cover story. So, now what?”
Steve turned back to face the rest of the table. “So, now Doris is wrapping up some loose ends. Then she’s going to move back to Hawaii.”
Kono leaned forward. “Is it safe for her here? Isn’t Wo Fat still looking for her?”
“She said it was past time for her to return.”
Danny frowned at his partner. “And you’re going to trust her, just like that, after she basically abandoned her family?”
“Of course not, Danno. She’s my mother. But she has a lot to answer for. What she did to me and Mary Ann….hell, what she did to dad! None of it is going to be easy to forgive. But I’m at least willing to try.”
Danny reached out and placed his hand over Steve’s. It was the first time they had touched in a long time. Danny felt it deep in his soul. From the softening in his eyes, Steve felt it, too.
“We’ll be here for you, Steve. That’s what family is for, right?”
Danny knocked quickly on Steve’s front door before opening it and entering the house. After reaffirming the team bond over the issue with Steve’s mother, Danny indicated that he would come over for beers later–and for that long-overdue chat.
With all the upheaval that Steve was going through, Danny hoped that knowing for certain that having his Favoured Mate beside him would ease Steve’s mind.
Also, Danny needed desperately to nip the Lori issue in the bud as quickly as possible. Preferably before she got to Steve with her claims. Danny had Chin, Kono, and Governor Denning on his side with this issue, but his main concern was Steve’s well-being. Once they acknowledged the fledgling Bond, Danny was certain that nothing would ever come between them.
“Babe?” Danny called into the house. “You here?”
A rattle of glass in the kitchen drew Danny’s attention, and he kicked off his shoes and headed in that direction, just in time to catch the beer bottle that Steve slid over the counter in his direction.
“You kinda left the office real quick, Steve.”
Steve shrugged and pulled a long drink from his own bottle. “I really didn’t want to stick around after revealing that my own freaking mother may have set up my father’s murder.”
Danny kept his eyes on his partner as he drank slowly from his beer before setting the bottle on the counter and closing the distance between the two men. Emboldened by what he knew to be right, Danny reached out and took Steve’s bottle away before pulling the taller man into a rough hug, allowing his hand to stroke over the place he knew Steve’s Mark was hiding under colorful tattoo ink. Steve shuddered in his arms.
“We’re not going to do much about this,” Danny rasped into Steve’s shoulder, “but I know you feel what’s going on here.”
Steve pulled back slightly and offered a sad half-grin. “I think I do, Danno. And I think I owe you an apology.”
Danny frowned. “Why do you need to apologize to me?”
Steve shrugged and pulled Danny to the kitchen table. “I went to the Favoured Counseling Office at the VA before I went to Japan with Joe. I had a nice chat with a Favoured Pair about Bonds and how the military might have screwed me up in that regard–and about how what I was feeling around you meant that our possible Bond might be dying.”
Danny shot upright in his chair. “Dying? Oh, no! No, no, no! Do not even think that Steven! I will not let this thing between us die!”
Steve sighed happily and reached for Danny’s hand. “I know you won’t, Danny. I’ve always trusted you, even before I had a reason to. I just didn’t know why. I think I always expected to feel…something big, when I met my Favoured Mate, and then I didn’t when I met you–but I felt instantly comfortable around you.”
Danny snorted. “Well, I felt just what I expected when I met you–Lightning in a Room. And you took my breath away, and then you pushed me away.” Danny shook his head in disbelief. “I just could not understand why you wouldn’t want a Favoured Bond.”
Steve squeezed Danny’s fingers. “Oh I wanted. I just never thought I could have it, after so long waiting.” Steve leaned forward and caught Danny’s full attention. “I guess you’ve seen my Mark?”
Danny nodded. “It’s kind of hard to miss, Steven, what with you taking your shirt off all the time. Of course, after feeling the charged air when I met you, I guess I was pretty dedicated to finding that Mark under all that beautiful ink of yours. It’s very distracting, you know?”
“I do know. I started getting the tattoos to keep anyone undesirable from finding my Mark. I knew I had to protect it until I met my Mate. I just didn’t think it would take so long, or that it would come at the end of such a tragedy.”
Danny pulled his hand away from Steve and he fiddled with his watch band. “I guess you want to see my Mark, then, huh?”
“Yeah,” Steve whispered reverently.
Danny undid the clasp and removed his grandfather’s watch, and then he held out his left arm to Steve, who cradled the hand and wrist carefully between both of his own hands.
Steve allowed his thumb to gently caress the house-shaped scar on Danny’s wrist and his grin grew wider. “If only I had seen this months ago!”
Danny shook his head gently. “I don’t think you were really ready months ago. And we did okay, really. We kept doing our job, and we got a lot of bad guys off the streets, and our Luck held true despite the lack of a Bond between us. Of course, that lack of a Bond may have given us a different problem.”
Steve’s face screwed into confusion. “What do you mean, Danno?”
Danny was beyond furious!
Five-0 got called out to Honolulu International Airport to investigate the murder of a United States Marshall on board a plane.
The whole thing should have been routine, as much as murder can be.
But Danny knew the Marshall. Danny had been friends with the man back in Jersey, in fact.
Danny was prepared for that to make the case personal, which put him on edge. He hated when people he knew and loved were targeted for any reason. Being a US Marshall made Dave Collins a target. He had been escorting a prisoner—a petty criminal, coming back to the island for trial.
But a detailed examination of Collins’ phone showed that the man was placing a call to Danny when he had been shot.
And Danny had nothing to do with the criminal case Collins was involved with.
Also, another passenger, James Maguire, was also missing. No one had seen Maguire leave the area after the body was found, and the rest of the passengers were gathered in a lounge inside the airport.
Chin was immediately set to work searching the video feel from Dallas/Fort Worth airport, where this plane had originated. He was going to use facial recognition software to identify Maguire, so they could place a search on the island. Somehow, this missing man was the key to understanding what happened to Collins.
In the middle of the whole thing, Rachel called to find out why Danny had removed Grace from school on one of her Country Club days without calling first.
“I haven’t spoken to Grace since day before yesterday, Rachel. I’ve been on a case at the airport all day.”
“Well, the school just called to make sure I was doing okay and to tell me that they hoped I’d be feeling better soon, and that Grace left safely with the policeman sent by her father.”
Danny flagged down Duke Lukela, who was providing support. “Duke, someone in a police uniform took my daughter from school. I need you to go to the school and review the security video to identify the officer. Rachel, we’ll find out where she is, okay. Don’t panic, you’ll hurt the baby.”
“Danny, I just want Grace home, now!”
“I know. Call Stan and tell him to come home. You need him to be there with you right now. I’ll be in touch once I find anything out, okay?”
“Thank you, Daniel.”
So, yeah, Danny was pissed!
Danny was trying to consol Rachel as best he could while they waited for Stan to return home when Chin called to tell him that facial recognition identified the passenger known as James Maguire and the mystery police officer as the same person. So Danny reluctantly returned to headquarters after promising to call once he had news about Grace.
“Okay, Chin, let’s see it.” Steve stood close to Danny, offering silent support as the rest of the team gathered in front of the video monitor.
Danny stiffened in shock as the mystery man’s photo filled two sides of a split-screen.
“That man is not James Maguire. That’s Rick Peterson. I didn’t know he was out of prison already.”
Steve faced his partner, body tensed with concern. “You know this guy?”
“You could say that. Rick Peterson was one of my training officers in the Newark Police Department. I thought he was a good guy. His record was good, and he had a great reputation in the neighborhood. Turns out, he was taking bribes on big cases involving the local baby mobsters. He tried to get me into it as well. My testimony helped put him away for a long time.”
“So, maybe Marshal Collins recognized him on the plane and tried to call and warn you that Peterson was headed your way.”
“Yeah. And he was killed before the call connected.” Kono opened a police file and displayed the mug shot of the thief Dave Collins was escorting back to Hawaii when he was killed. “We picked up Travis Lohana half an hour ago. He admitted to witnessing this passenger attack and grab Collins’ gun while Collins was placing a call when the plane touched down. Lohana used the confusion of disembarkment to get away, so he was cleared from the airport by the time HPD arrived on the scene.”
Danny leaned heavily against the Tech Table. “The last thing Peterson said to me in that courtroom after his sentencing was that I ruined his life, so he was going to do his best to ruin mine.”
Steve laid his hand on Danny’s shoulder. “We’re going to find Peterson, and we’re going to find Grace. We got this, Danno. So, let’s go get Lohana and see if he led Peterson to a hidey-hole on the island somewhere where he may have put Grace.”
“Yeah, yeah. I’m gonna call Rachel and make sure Stan is with her now. This stress isn’t good for the baby, you know. I’ll meet you at the car.”
But when Danny reached his vehicle, Rick Peterson was waiting in the backseat for him. As the other man was armed and at the advantage, Danny was forced to follow his instructions.
First on the list: Danny had to get into the passenger seat and allow Peterson to drive them away from police headquarters, leaving Steve and the rest of Five-0 behind.
Danny was allowed to call and tell Steve that he was on his way to get Grace, then he had to dump his phone—and its GPS locater—out the window at a busy intersection.
Then Danny was forced to drive around the island, listening to Peterson bitch about how hard life was for him once his career was over. Danny wanted to rant and rave about how all of Peterson’s hardships were a direct result of being a dirty cop, but he had his daughter to think of. He still had no clue where she was being held, or if she was hurt.
“You took my reputation, Williams. Then you had to go and make yourself look good here in Paradise. Well, my family doesn’t talk to me anymore. They’re ashamed of me. They turned their backs on my, the whole lot of them. So, I’m going to make sure your family turns against you, too.”
“What are you going to do, Rick? Right now, we all know you’re the bad guy. I haven’t done anything at all. You, however, have killed a US Marshall and kidnapped a ten-year-old girl. And I still don’t know if you’ve hurt her or not. All of this is on you, not me.”
“I haven’t hurt your kid, Williams. She is very important to my plan. I want her to look at you with the same shame my kid had when he looked at me. I want her to know that you did something horrible, something that wrecked her life.”
“Yeah? And what’s that, Rick.”
“You’re going to kill someone she loves. And she’s going to know you did it.”
What the ever loving fuck?!
“So, you’re going to take this burner phone, and you’re going to call your ex-wife’s new husband. You’re going to tell him to meet you at this address. Nice and public, see. There will be lots of witnesses to see you kill the man that replaced you. And don’t try to be smart about it. No clues, no police.”
And so, Danny called Stan Edwards, and asked him to meet Danny at Ala Moana Beach Park. All he could tell Stan was that he did have information about Grace, but he didn’t want to worry Rachel about it.
Then Danny crossed his fingers a bit and added, “So, could you do me a huge favor and not tell her anything yet.”
Danny hoped that Stan could catch the hint.
“So, what, I shoot Stan in front of the lunch crowd at the park, and then you tell me where my daughter is? Is that how this is going to work?”
“I’ll tell the cops that arrest you where little Gracie is. They can tell her why you were arrested.”
The park was crowded, as was usual for a beautiful afternoon. Peterson parked the car in a busy lot off Ala Moana Park Drive, and they waited until Danny could identify Stan Edwards walking through the greenway toward them.
As Danny made to exit the vehicle, Peterson grabbed his arm. “Just in case you have the idea to run out with Mr. Edwards there, I want to remind you that I have a gun, and I will shoot him if you fail to do so. And then you will never see your daughter again.”
Danny was shaking as he walked toward Stan. He stopped several yards away from Stan, and drew his weapon. Stan stopped in shock at the sight.
“Danny, what’s going on?”
“I have to do this, Stan. Do you understand? Did you pass the message to Rachel?”
“Yes, I told Rachel where I was going as a favor to you. What are you doing?”
Danny swallowed hard. “I have to do this. It’s for Grace. Will you do this for Grace?”
Understanding dawned on Stan’s face. He lowered his arms in compliance. “I’ll do anything for Grace.”
Danny nodded, and fired once. Stan dropped like a stone, prone on the walkway of the busy park. The noise of the gunshot caused the lunch crowd to panic and run, people moving every which way and blocking the view Danny had of Peterson in the car park. Danny quickly lowered his gun and ran to Stan, where the man gazed at him in pained shock.
“Did I do all right, Danny?”
“You did great. I’m gonna make sure you’re all taken care of, okay?”
“Okay. Go get our girl.”
Danny looked up toward the car park, and saw Chin cuffing Peterson beside Danny’s Camero. Kono was on the phone, hopefully calling an ambulance.
And Steve was striding toward him, a look of tense concern on his face. “Danno, are you two okay?”
“No, Steven, I am not okay. Stan is not okay. This whole thing is NOT okay!”
“Actually,” said Stan, breathing deeply, “You’re a great shot, so I’m not too bad.”
Danny looked down at him. “I am so, so sorry, Stan.” Then, to Steve, “Did he give anything away?”
“He had a key to a storage facility in his pocket. Chin thinks he may have placed Grace into a storage unit. All we have to do is run the key code to find which one.”
Danny watched as paramedics loaded Stan into the newly arrived ambulance. He was grateful that Peterson wanted him close to a major attraction for this farce—the emergency vehicles were not far away.
“He wanted Grace to know I had killed Stan and was being arrested, so I think this facility has to be close to here. There shouldn’t be many in this neighborhood.”
Steve clapped him on the shoulder. “Then, let’s go get our girl.”
Grace was fine. She was a little rattled and nervous, and she was probably going to sleep with a nightlight for a long time after being locked in a dark storage locker for most of a day.
Danny made sure she was checked out thoroughly by paramedics before he drove her to the hospital to see Stan. Rachel was there already, as Danny called to tell her what had happened. On the drive to the hospital, Danny explained what happened, and why, and that Danny was a very good shot so he only wounded Stan’s shoulder.
Still, Grace wasn’t angry, but she did want to see for herself.
Danny stood in the doorway of Stan’s hospital room and watched as Grace jumped into Stan’s bed with him and bestowed as careful a hug as she could manage. Rachel stood by their side with a relieved smile. She turned to the doorway and mouthed “Thank you” before hugging Grace herself.
Danny nodded to Stan, and then he told Grace that he had to fill out a lot of paperwork, and that he’d see her later, after they all got some rest.
It didn’t take Steve long to convince his mother that living with him in his house was a bad idea. She tried the tactic that the house was hers, since she was married to his father.
He countered that her rights to the house ended when she ‘died’, and that the estate had been settled. The house went to Steve and Mary Ann, and Mary insisted that Steve buy her out, so the house was wholly Steve’s.
And Steve was working to make the house a perfect home for himself and the person he was hoping to spend the rest of his life with.
Unfortunately, Doris took that to mean Catherine. And she wasn’t hearing that Catherine was not the person Steve was becoming invested in.
In fact, Doris was spending a lot of time with Catherine, who took an extended leave in order to feel out opportunities in Hawaii for when she retired.
Steve had yet to find a time to sit down with Catherine and explain the Favoured Mark that she had never managed to see, or to tell her that he found his Favoured Mate. At his every turn, Catherine was latching on to his arm and dragging him off for romantic dinners, or she was walking around with Doris, apartment hunting. Mostly apartment hunting, because Doris was currently staying in a hotel, and that was getting expensive.
Still, Steve made time to spend with Danny. They worked on John McGarrett’s old Marquis almost every weekend that Danny did not have Grace. Danny, it turned out, was some kind of auto-mechanical savant. He didn’t have a lot of practical experience with working on cars, but he had an instinct about how they worked. And Danny’s uncle was as good as Danny said about getting parts for the classic car.
It was during a test drive that Steve brought up Catherine.
“I’m going to invite her to the house tomorrow. Without Doris present. I’m going to explain things as best I can, and I’m going to show her my Mark. All this time, I’ve been wondering why she has never mentioned it, and the other day while I was talking with Mamo, he helped me figure it out.”
“Okay, lay it on me; why has Catherine never mentioned it?”
“Mamo said that sometimes Favoured Mates never meet because one has died. If that happens, the remaining Favoured One goes on living, just missing part of himself. Or herself. However it goes. I figure Catherine must have seen my Mark, and then decided that I started getting the tattoos because I was in mourning or something.”
“That almost makes sense. Tell me something. Why did you start getting the tattoos?”
“Honestly? I had finished some serious training. Going through SEAL training is a major deal. It’s life-changing, you know? I needed to commemorate that in a life-changing way. A few guys in my graduating class got married; most of the others got tattoos. Since I knew I had a Favoured Mate in the world somewhere, getting tattoos seemed like the better choice. My tattoos started to memorialize major life moments for me. Mostly, I got new ink almost every time I survived a tough mission. My newest ink, I got for my father.”
Danny nodded and smiled. “Okay, I like that. I wish you well with your talk with Catherine. I do not, however, want to be involved in it. I will support you, but I don’t want her attacking me if she gets pissed.”
Catherine didn’t get angry.
She was very calm about the whole thing.
She did admit that she thought Steve was never going to meet his Favoured Mate, and that she was more than willing to join her life to his.
In fact, she didn’t understand why Steve wanted to give up his relationship with her at all.
“Steve, we’ve been together, off and on, for a long time. We’re good together. I don’t see why that has to change.”
Steve frowned. “Catherine, you know that’s not how it works. You don’t ignore the Marks once you find each other. I’m meant to be with someone else. Being with you was fine, but….”
“But what? You were happy with me, I do know that.”
“Lately, it hasn’t been enough,” Steve admitted. “Since I’ve come back to Hawaii, I’ve felt discontent. I know now that it was because my Favoured Mate was here and I wasn’t with him like I should have been.”
Catherine scowled. “Him? Your Favoured Mate is a man? And you’re okay with that?”
“Why wouldn’t I be okay with it? We’re meant to be together. We were made for each other.”
“But he can’t give you what I can, Steve. You can’t possibly think you’ll be happy!”
Steve stood from the table and walked across the room. Suddenly sitting so close to Catherine didn’t feel right.
“Cath, I already feel happier than I have in a very long time. We haven’t really started the Bond, but we’re on our way. He completes me. He’s become my best friend.”
Catherine huffed in frustration. “Danny. Danny is your Mate.”
“Yes, he is.”
“But he was married, Steve. What does that tell you?”
“That tells me that he hadn’t met me yet, and that he has great capacity to love.”
Catherine stood abruptly. “I can’t….I don’t know how to react to this! Have you told Doris?”
“Not yet, no. What does that have to do with anything?”
“She told me that she was happy that I was in your life. That she thought I would make a good partner for you.”
“In any other circumstance, you would make a good partner for me. Catherine, Doris gave birth to me, and she raised me for most of my childhood. She is aware of my Mark. She went with me and dad when I first went to the Temple to learn about my new role in the world. She won’t be surprised when I tell her that I found my Mate.”
“She’ll hate it, Steve! You’re going to be with a man. A man who cannot give you children! Don’t you think Doris would like to be a grandmother?”
“Then perhaps she should have thought about that before she faked her death! Look, I don’t want to argue with you. I wanted to let you know what was going on. I wanted you to understand. I care about you, Catherine.”
“But you don’t love me?”
Steve stared at her in disbelief. “Can you honestly say that you love me? Because I have to think that if you did, you’d want me to be with my Favoured Mate.”
“Maybe I should just go.”
“Yeah, I think that’s best. I wish you well, Catherine, but this is my life now.”
After Catherine left the house, Steve’s own words echoed back to him. This was his life now. So, he finally had a decision to make.
It wasn’t hard.
One phone call later, and Steve had reported his Favoured Status to the Navy Brass, and he was officially retiring to civilian life.
Telling Doris was a much easier prospect.
His mother was hurt that she was losing such a good friend in Catherine, because Catherine did leave without word to anyone. But Doris understood that Steve had a destiny to be with someone, and that nobody else in the world would make him happy.
Steve informed the rest of Five-0 that he was going to actively participate in building the Bond with his Favoured Mate, so group outings were going to be put on hold for a while, while he got his priorities straight.
Chin congratulated Steve on getting is head together and said that he hoped Steve didn’t consider Chin’s wedding to be something to be set aside.
Kono gave him a huge hug, and then she hugged Danny and told them that she wanted to plan a Bonding ceremony after they got more comfortable with each other.
Danny smiled and told him that he was glad that Steve was taking things so well.
“But, um, we have to talk. Right now. Because something serious is going on here, and you’ve been too absent to notice.”
“Okay. Let’s go into my office.”
Steve sat behind his desk while Danny pulled the blinds closed, creating as much privacy as he could in a glass-encased office space.
“Okay, Danny, what’s up?”
“Lori Weston is what’s up.”
“I don’t understand. I thought she was working out okay, even if I wouldn’t have chosen her for the team.”
“Well, having our own profiler is nice and all, but maybe we should send Kono to some FBI profiling courses. I don’t think Lori is going to work out long-term.”
“Why not? Has the Governor said something?”
“No. Lori said something. While you were in Japan dealing with your mother, Lori had a little confrontation with me. She questioned why I was trying to keep her from you.”
“Keep her from me? What do you mean?”
“Lori thinks you are her Favoured Mate. She didn’t offer to show me her Mark or anything—and she admitted that she never saw yours. She said she only heard you and Chin talking about it one day, and that’s when she knew you were her Mate. We’re going to have to tell her that you and I are Bonding. I have no idea how she’s going to take that.”
“Okay. We can deal with this. She’s at the Governor’s office right now, right?”
“Yeah—her regular weekly meeting.”
“Okay, let me make a call.”
Steve dialed his office phone. “Hello, Tanya, this is Commander McGarrett. I know the Governor is in a meeting right now, but can you patch me through? It’s a work emergency. Thank you. Governor Denning, thank you for taking my call. I would like to have a meeting with you and Lori Weston if you can fit me in? Yes, it’s about my Bond Mate. No, he will not be joining us. I want to avoid as much conflict as possible. Yes, I have already informed the rest of the team that I will be actively building the Bond. That’s fine; I’ll see you in a few minutes.”
Danny sat forward in his chair. “You sure you don’t want me to go with you?”
“If you do, she’ll know you were keeping this from her.”
“She’s going to know that anyway, Steve. It’s going to be very obvious.”
“No, not if I don’t start by telling her that you are my Mate. I do possess tact, you know.”
“Uh-huh. Of course you do. I’ll finish up here and meet you at your place after? I’ll pick up some food and beer. I think we’re going to need it.”
Lori looked mildly surprised when Steve walked into the Governor’s office.
She looked positively delighted when Steve announced, “I’ve made it clear to my team, Governor Denning, and so I’m making it clear to you now: I’m a Favoured One, and I’ve recently found my Mate. I’m going to be spending time outside of working hours building the Bond so that we can become the efficient team that we are meant to be.”
Then Lori looked confused when Steve turned to her and said, “So, I need to make sure that you will still be able to work effectively with the Five-0 team while this is going on.”
She gave Steve a puzzled smile. “Of course I will, Steve. How can you ask that?”
Steve sat in the chair the Governor offered. “It has come to my attention, Lori, that you are somehow of the opinion that you are my Favoured Mate.”
“That’s because I am. I felt it when we met. That’s why I was so happy to be working with you.”
Steve glanced at the Governor, who nodded in encouragement.
“Lori, you are not my Favoured Mate.”
“Of course I am.”
“Then, if you are so certain, will you show me your Mark?”
Lori visibly wavered. “My Mark is…gone. It was on my arm, but I got shot during a failed stake-out,”
Steve shook his head. “Lori, Favoured Marks can’t disappear. They can’t be hidden, or disguised, or obliterated. That is one of the first things children are taught when the preparation classes start. That’s how kids know not to be afraid if they injure themselves: no matter what, the Mark will remain.”
Lori raised her head, haughty. “So, then…where’s yours?”
Steve gamely rolled up the short sleeve of his shirt and bared the tattoo on his right shoulder. Through the green and blue ink, a pure white scar was clearly visible.
“My Mark is right here. It’s been here, in plain sight for those who cared to look.”
Lori stared as she shrunk into herself. “And I supposed your friend Catherine has a similar Mark?”
Steve rolled the sleeve back into place. “No, she doesn’t. Danny Williams has the matching mark, on his left wrist. He hides his under the watch he always wears.”
“He never told me. He never said anything at all,” Lori fumed.
“He and I weren’t working on our Bond until recently. I’ve been dealing with stressful situations, what with my father’s murder and moving back to Hawaii, and I didn’t realize who my Mate was. By the time I figured it out, I was dealing with the fact that my mother was actually alive. But we’re settled now, and Danny and I want to work on building the Bond.”
“But I felt like you belonged to me. I felt it!”
“No, Lori. It wasn’t like that for me. You were someone my boss forced me to deal with. At least, at first. Then you became a part of my working team. But I never felt anything like attraction for you. I’m sorry, but the feelings were not there for me. If you can’t work with me and Danny, I’ll understand. After everything else, it’s bound to be hard for you. I’ll leave the two of you to discuss it.”
Steve shook the Governor’s hand. “Thanks for seeing me, Governor.”
“Thank you, Commander, for being forthright.”
Steve tugged at the bow tie around his neck until it came undone. He hated these things, and never could get them tied straight.
“Here, let me. You look really good in that get-up. You should consider buying a tux, instead of renting for certain occasions.”
Danny deftly tied the perfect bow, and then brushed lint from Steve’s lapels.
“I can always wear my dress uniform, Danny. I’m in the tux for Chin. This is his day, not mine.”
Danny laughed. “I’m sure if you ask Malia, it’s her day and Chin’s job is to just show up.”
“I’ll keep that in mind. Where’s Grace?”
“She’s with Kono and Malia, getting pretty-fied.”
“She doesn’t need it. She’s gonna be a heartbreaker when she’s older.”
“Ha! Show’s how much you know. She’s a heartbreaker now. Rachel told me that there’s a boy in her class that follows her around all the time, teasing her. Like, pulling pigtails sort of thing.”
Steve frowned. “And you’re okay with that?”
“I’m okay with the fact that my ten-year-old daughter has more sense than to pay too much attention to the kid. She does complain about him all the time. Apparently the boy tells quite the tall tale when the inspiration strikes. Grace is too smart to fall for it.”
Steve grinned at his partner. “She takes after her father.”
Danny preened. “Yeah, she does.”
It was a perfect day.
The sun was shining. The Sky was clear blue, with not a cloud in sight. The beach was clean and white. Waves crashed softly into the shore. There were no seabirds flying about to muck things up.
Kamekona requested the opportunity to cater the wedding and reception, saying he wanted to do something nice for Five-0 since they had become such good friends. Since the team had taken to eating at the large man’s food truck at least twice a week during working hours, they knew the man knew his food. Still, catering a wedding was something else altogether. But Danny had a good feeling about Kamekona, so Chin gave him the chance.
They were not disappointed.
And Kamekona’s cousins provided the music, at a small fee.
All the guests were having a great time.
Steve stood beside Chin at the makeshift altar, and they waited for the musical cue that signaled the big moment.
Chin didn’t look nervous.
Chin looked excited. Chin looked relieved. Mostly, Chin looked happy, for the first time in a very long time.
Steve stole a look at Danny, sitting between Grace and Max, relaxed and smiling.
Their Bond was moving along, and they were getting closer every day.
They did have snags.
Lori left Five-0, saying it wouldn’t be fair to her to have to see Steve and Danny together every day.
Catherine left the island altogether, refusing to even say good-bye, as if Steve had spurned her out of spite.
Steve’s mother, while understanding that Steve had his destiny, was disapproving that Danny was 1) a man, and 2) divorced with child. Steve would hear that he could do better, if he only tried.
He could have a family of his own, if he had stayed with Catherine.
Danny’s loyalty would always choose his first family over Steve.
Oh—and the clincher: Doris ignored her own Mark, and made a fine family for herself, so Steve should be able to as well.
After that last one, Steve stopped seeking out his mother at all.
Mary Ann—who would have been at the wedding if her schedule had permitted—was more than fine with Steve and Danny being together. She was fond of Danny, and she adored Grace.
And she promised, if Steve and Danny wanted to try for a family, she would gladly serve as a surrogate for them. That way, the child would be borne of both families.
But…today was for Chin and Malia.
The familiar strains of The Wedding March began, and Steve watched as Malia slowly walked toward the altar and her future with Chin.
Steve would never deny that a tear had escaped his eye and Chin took Malia’s hand and pledged to always love and care for her.
This is what Steve wanted with Danny, when the time was right.
After the ceremony, Steve took turns with Danny, dancing with Kono and Grace. Everybody ate, drank, and laughed. Chin danced with Kono, while Steve danced with Malia. She looked positively radiant, all smiles and laughing eyes.
“You know, Steve, Kono has asked me to help plan your Bonding ceremony. I hope you don’t mind.”
“Why would I mind? You’re Ohana. A Bonding should be planned by family. She’s got Grace helping as well, although I think that has more to do with keeping her mind occupied while Rachel waits to give birth.”
“Danny said these last few weeks have been difficult for her.”
“Well, yeah. The baby was actually due this week. She’s worried that Stan won’t be here to see his son born because he’s been spending so much time on the Big Island.”
“I’m sure it will all work out. I never thought this day would come.”
“You look good, Malia. Very happy. I’m sure you and Chin will have a very happy life together.”
Steve and Danny had not been able to spend time together in a while. Rachel was having a difficult final term, and Danny was spending time with her to ease her loneliness. Stan was finishing a hotel project, and his time was spent far from home.
Steve knew that Danny took his responsibility as godfather seriously, so he did not begrudge him the time spent with this part of his family.
Their working relationship flourished as they built the Bond between them. Sometimes it seemed like they could read each other’s mind, the Bond was so clear.
Steve had never had a partnership like it, and the rest of the team benefitted as well. They became much-needed support for HPD during regular cases. And clashes between street gangs became a thing of the past as the Favoured Ones settled.
They were busy updating files when Danny’s personal cell rang, and Danny got all flustered.
“Hello, Rachel? Yeah, yeah, I’m on my way. Did you call Stan? Okay, I’ll call him and you call your doctor.”
Steve was at his side immediately. “It’s time?”
“Yeah. Can you pick up Grace at school? I have to get Rachel and take her to the hospital.”
“Of course. We’ll be there as soon as possible. You’ll have to warn Rachel that Stan might not make it anytime soon. The storm system has grounded flights for the time being.”
Danny squeezed Steve’s hand. “I’ll pass that along. Bye, Guys! I gotta go!”
Danny ran out of the building and Steve called Grace’s school to let them know that he would be picking her up. Since they released her into the custody of an unknown ‘officer’ several weeks ago, Steve and Danny made sure the administration knew to check for identification and called for verification before allowing Grace to leave with anyone not her parent. Steve knew the school authorities were aware that Rachel was soon to be in hospital, so they would call Danny for confirmation after Steve placed his call.
“I guess this is kind of exciting, huh, boss?”
Steve turned to Kono as she spoke. “Yeah, it’s a big deal. I know Danny was honored to be chosen to be godfather. Stan doesn’t have any close family and Rachel’s family is all in London.”
“Are you just a little bit jealous?”
“Of the baby? Or of Rachel?”
Steve shook his head. “I don’t have any reason to be jealous. Danny has a good relationship with Rachel and Stan, and he has a child with Rachel, so they’re going to be part of his life. Danny and I haven’t forged the physical part of our Bond yet. We have a lot of ‘getting to know you’ to get out of the way. But he’s aware that he’s the only one for me now, and he feels the same about me.”
“Did you ever think about having a family?”
“Not really. I made the navy my life. I was a SEAL, and that’s a hardcore assignment. I figured I’d never really settle down. Danny has Grace, and so now do I. That’s good for me. I’d better get to the school. See ya!”
Steve ran into the heavy rain, but felt only sunshine as he thought of Danny. Through the tentative Bond, he could feel Danny keeping Rachel calm as they made it to the hospital.
Later, as he watched Danny send a photo of the baby to Stan’s cell phone, Steve would wonder at how much his life had changed. He had family now.
His life was good.
Just when things started looking good, the gods threw a wrench into his life and everything got stirred up.
As a ‘congratulations for having such a cute godson’ gift, Steve had taken Danny fishing out in deep water. The day started out so well.
The fish were biting.
Steve and Danny had laughed much.
And then they saw the dingy floating free in the water, with the body on board.
Except it wasn’t a body; it was an escaped killer with a gun, and he forced Steve and Danny into the dingy while he stole their boat.
So—stranded in the middle of the ocean.
And when they did find another boat, it was shot-up and disabled. And there was a body on board. A real body. A man shot dead, that is.
By the time Steve and Danny had finally made it back to shore, Danny was beyond cranky and he was almost relieved to have a vengeance-killing solve his case for him
Danny understood grief, but nobody should have murder on their conscience.
There was Doris McGarrett.
Steve had given Danny a key to his house, so that Danny could come over whenever he wanted to, and he could bring Grace over when Steve was working late. Danny was taking the time to move himself in, bit by bit. He and Steve were trying to mesh their personal styles to redecorate the house, so much time was spent with paint and fabric swatches spread on the dining room table.
Several times, when Danny was alone at the house, waiting for Steve, Doris would barge into the house and begin berating Danny for taking Steve away from her.
“He’s my son, Daniel. Surely you know that there should be a close bond between a mother and her son?”
“I know that a mother who cherished that bond would not have faked her own death and missed out on her son’s life.”
“I had very good reasons for that.”
“Uh-huh. I’m sure you think you did. But I do know that I would never abandon my child. She means more to me than anything.”
“Does she mean more than Steve? Would you give him up so you could be with your daughter?”
“Are you threatening my daughter? What, you didn’t get your Mate, so you want to keep Steve from his?”
“You know nothing!”
So, yeah. The days since the wedding haven’t been easy for Danny.
Sometimes it seemed like terrorists just didn’t care that a Favoured Pair was on the island. And this particular terrorist cell was targeting a base where the Secretary of Defense was speaking.
Steve and Danny managed to track down every member but one, so the race was on to find that last guy. Chin managed to find the bomb that was placed at the base, and he had it diffused. Danny spotted the missing terrorist in the crowd pressing in to see the Secretary, and he fired his weapon, killing the man.
But when he stooped to check the man, Danny found that he was strapped with an explosive vest that would go off if Danny moved.
Steve stayed by Danny’s side while they waited for the bomb squad. Danny would have preferred that he leave, in case the bomb blew, but Steve would not leave him
They passed the time talking about the early days of Danny’s career with the Newark Police Department. Danny told Steve that being held by a bomb was far from the worst thing to happen to him.
“Back in 2001, before the Attacks on the Towers, I was in a real bad situation. Me and my partner, Grace Titwell got caught by a couple of punks running a drug operation. I was trapped away from her, and I couldn’t get to her. I watched while they beat her to death before I could get free. I killed them both, but I couldn’t save Grace.”
“That’s who you named your daughter after?”
“Yeah. She was the best partner I ever had, before you. She was so brave. She never gave in, even as she was dying.”
“You’re not going to die, Danno.”
“Of course I’m not. Luck and Good Fortune, right? You and I have a lot of Bonding left to do.”
“And we’re going to get to that Bonding, I promise you.”
“Yeah, before that happens you might want to get your house key from your mother or change your locks.”
“Why? Is she giving you trouble?”
“She wants me to give you up. She said you needed the chance to find happiness on your own.”
“She’s not so smart, Danno. I’ve never been happier than when I’m with you.”
Danny stretched out his legs in front of him as he reclined in the beach chair in Steve’s backyard.
No, in his backyard.
Danny had finished moving his meager possessions into the house the day before. Now, Steve was upstairs with Mary Ann, going through family mementos to figure what she would want to take with her into her new home. Steve was going to give Mary’s room to Grace, and Mary had offered to help Grace decorate as a way of welcoming her into the family.
Steve’s childhood room was going to become a guest room, so that Mary did have a place to sleep when she visited.
Grace was looking forward to helping paint the walls once she chose the best color. Danny was trying to convince her that pink would not be a good choice for the main color, because she might grow out of it. She was considering pink as an accent color, which was fine, but there were so many pinks to choose from.
For now, Grace was building a sandcastle on the private beach. Stan was with her, supervising in the capacity of building manager.
Danny looked to his left and watched as Rachel fussed over baby Charlie in his covered playpen. That Steve had welcomed her and her child into his home had warmed Danny’s heart. Steve knew that they were always going to be an important part of his life.
“What are you looking at, Daniel?”
“I’m looking at a very happy baby. He reminds me of Grace at that age.”
“Yes, they have much in common. I’m so glad that Steve doesn’t have a problem with us being here.”
“No, Steve knows that you’re my family. I guess since his own is splintered like it is, he wants me to keep mine close.”
Rachel smiled as she sat beside him and took a sip of her iced tea. “Grace keeps yammering on about your Bonding Ceremony. She wants to be a flower girl in the worst way.”
“So we’ll let her be the flower girl. Just because this isn’t a wedding doesn’t mean that she can’t fill that role for us. I’m glad she wants to be part of it, to tell the truth.”
“You’ve changed since moving here, Daniel. I can see it. I know Grace can see it. Since you’ve found Steve and begun to Bond, you’re more at ease. You’re so much happier now than you were with me.”
Danny frowned and reached for her hand. “Rachel, I was not unhappy with you. You know that. If I had never met Steve, I would have happily stayed with you.”
Rachel squeezed his hand. “I know, Danny. But it wasn’t right. I won’t regret our relationship, but I’m so glad you found your Favoured Mate.”
For the first time in his adult life, Steve has felt settled.
He has a home, after basically rebuilding his father’s house from the inside out.
He has a good relationship with his sister, who is living once again in Los Angeles so she can care for their Aunt Deb, who has cancer.
He is dealing with his mother, who has proven to not being completely out of the influence of the CIA.
But most importantly, Steve has Danny. His Favoured Mate.
Steve has thrown himself totally into building the Bond between the two of them.
When Grace got sick with appendicitis, Steve felt Danny’s distress, and he was able to send practiced calm back to Danny along the Bond.
When Steve ran into a burning building to save a trapped family, Steve could feel Danny sending support through to him, and it kept him safe and grounded.
The Governor was pleased with the work that Five-0 was doing, and resolved to never send a monitoring agent to work amongst them again.
Stan and Rachel Edwards offered the use of their large property for Steve and Danny’s Bonding ceremony, and Danny was happy to accept. Steve didn’t much care one way or the other, until Rachel informed him that if he allowed the ceremony to take place there, he wouldn’t have to worry about having a house full of guests when he was ready to consummate with Danny.
So, with location ready, Steve and Danny set about arranging travel for Danny’s family—as many as could make the trip—to attend the ceremony. The Governor offered the official State-issued private plane, so that travel costs could be deferred. Rachel offered the use of guest rooms at her home, since she still got along with her former in-laws. All that really remained was a finalized guest list.
Steve was a bit nervous about meeting Danny’s family. So far he had only managed a few Skype sessions with Danny, so he hadn’t really has a chance to meet his new extended family-to-be. Danny’s parents were coming, of course, as were his Aunt Maggie and Auntie Charlotte, the other Favoured Ones in the family. Danny’s sister, Joy was planning to come, along with her son, Eric, but her husband and daughter could not come.
Danny was hoping his brother Matthew could come, but the other man seemed to be holding a grudge about not knowing of Danny’s Favoured Status.
Danny explained to Steve that his family kept Danny’s status a close secret from childhood, so that Danny could never be exploited. Steve could understand, since forced Bondings were attempted all the time when a Favoured was still under the age of majority. In the Hawaiian Islands, as well as other more distant population areas, the Favoured were seen as sacred. In the larger metropolitan areas, sometimes they were seen as commodities.
Danny never told his siblings about his status when he married Rachel, because it didn’t seem to matter. It mattered even less once Danny divorced and relocated to Hawaii to be near his daughter. But once he met Steve, and they got their acts together to begin the Bond, Danny told everyone he knew so that they could be happy with them.
Sister Joy was thrilled! No, really! She spent weeks telling everyone she knew, from co-workers to the postal carrier, that her younger brother had found his Favoured Mate and they were going to protect Hawaii together. Now that the ceremony date had been set, Joy was on the hook to take as many photos—of the Favoured Ones and of the islands—as she could to share with people back in New Jersey.
Brother Matthew felt that Danny owed it to him to reveal his secret, and that if people knew that Danny had been Favoured all this time, then maybe Matthew could have been offered a better job.
Or a better college scholarship.
Or a better anything.
Matthew was kind of an ass and really thought he should have been able to cash in on Danny’s status.
Steve was frankly stunned at the attitude.
Danny seemed both dumbfounded and disappointed.
“Did he try to gain favoritism because of your Aunt Maggie, too?”
Danny sighed. “No. Aunt Maggie is my mother’s aunt. The relationship isn’t considered close enough to be beneficial. We never considered telling Mattie when we were kids, because he could never keep a secret. He’d blurt out Christmas presents if he knew what was under the wrapper. And that whole Vanderbilt scandal was pretty fresh when I was a kid. Ma and Pop wanted to protect me as much as possible.”
“And your brother wants to take advantage of the situation. I don’t get it, Danny.”
“I don’t get it, either. It’s almost like he thinks the world owes him something. I swear he wasn’t like this when I was still living back there.”
“Maybe he was, and you didn’t know it. Maybe he keeps secrets better than you think.”
“Maybe he does. I’ll tell you what, though: I don’t care if he comes or not. Nothing is going to ruin our day. I want you to meet my family, because they’ll love you, but I don’t want you to feel like you owe them anything.”
Steve squeezed Danny’s hand. “I will only feel grateful that they gave me you. I won’t let your brother’s absence, or presence, bring me down. And your family is going to absolutely love my Aunt Deb!”
Aunt Deb was Steve’s father’s sister, and she raised Mary Ann after the children were sent away.
She was a performer; a nightclub singer from the old days of classy, adult entertainment, and she had performed with the best.
Danny’s family were old-school Italian/Jewish, and they loved Sinatra like everyone from New Jersey and New York.
Sick though she was, Deb planned on travelling to Hawaii for the ceremony, and she hinted that she would sing something special for Steve and his Favoured Mate.
Steve did not, however, feel so good about the attendance of his mother.
Doris had hinted at wanting to meet Danny’s family, but she also spent a lot of time bad-mouthing Danny.
At this point, with the ceremony looming less than a week away, Steve wasn’t sure if he wanted Doris there at all.
“Really, Steven. I only want you to be happy!”
“No, Doris, you want me to be with someone of your choosing. I found my Favoured Mate, after long ago deciding that it probably wasn’t going to happen. I’m not going to let you ruin the Bonding ceremony. It’s the only technicality left of forming our Bond. We’re working together, and living together, and our lives are finally becoming complete.”
“Then what are you worried about?”
“I’m not worried. I’m determined that you will not make Danny’s family uncomfortable by being insulting at their son’s Bonding.”
“I would never insult them, Steven!”
“You insult Danny every day! You may not be aware, but that’s how the Bond works, Doris. I can feel what he feels. Once we consummate, I’ll practically be able to see and hear what he sees and hears. We will act as one. And right now, as incomplete as it is, the Bond allows me to know exactly when you try to drag Danny down. It stops. Now. If you want to be part of my life, then you will respect my life and the choices I have made. I’m sorry you felt the need to turn your back on your own Favoured Mate. I can only imagine what that did to him or her, how it must have torn them apart. But you aren’t splitting up my Bond.”
Doris huffed at Steve, and then stormed out of the building.
For the sanctity of his home, Steve had taken to dealing with his mother solely at headquarters.
So, yeah, that encounter had an audience.
Danny was out of the office, thankfully, questioning a robbery victim, so he missed the whole thing physically. Steve had no doubt that he felt it, though.
Kono came over and gave him a hug. “This sucks, boss.”
“Yeah. But she’s just not right sometimes, you know. I didn’t even know she was a Favoured when I was a kid. She never mentioned it. Dad never mentioned it. Her Mark is smaller than mine, and on the inside of her left elbow, so you don’t ever see it. Who does that? Totally ignores their Mate?”
“Maybe she just never found him or her. Maybe she figured that, with her work with the CIA, it wasn’t worth the risk of finding her Mate.”
Steve frowned. “Maybe she did find her Mate. Maybe her Mate was someone on the opposite side of the war in Vietnam? That’s reason enough to not form a Bond.” Steve sighed. “Well, whatever her reason, she’s not ruining my day, or my Bond.”
Two days before the ceremony, Danny had gone to the airport to pick up his family, Matthew included, and Steve was left in the office with Chin and Kono, filing paperwork and joking around, when his private cell phone rang from a number Steve didn’t recognize.
When he answered, he could clearly hear his mother’s voice, but she wasn’t talking to him. There was another person in the room with Doris, and they were clearly arguing. The words were hard to make out, but he clearly heard “Just put down the gun. You don’t have to do this.”
“Chin, put a trace on this number. I think it’s my mother, but the number isn’t familiar. We need to find where she is.”
Steve kept calm, recognizing that he was on speaker so his mother wouldn’t necessarily be able to hear him. He listened carefully, trying to figure out who she was arguing with and why she felt the need to call him.
Then he clearly heard the other speaker: Wo Fat.
Steve ran cold as he heard the words:
“It took time to find you, Shelbourne. I searched all over. Now that I have you, my revenge will be complete.”
“Steve, “Chin interrupted, “we found the location. It looks like she’s at her apartment.”
“Good that. Call for back-up. Wo Fat has her.”
“Let’s go, then. I’ll drive; you’re too compromised right now. Kono, call SWAT. I’d like to have them just in case.”
“On it, Chin, just go!”
The drive to his mother’s apartment complex was fast and angry. Wo Fat had once again entered his life. First, he had Steve’s father killed. Then he kidnapped and tortured Steve, trying to get information Steve had no way of knowing.
Now, Wo Fat was back on the island just days from Steve’s Bonding ceremony, and he had made contact with Doris.
Since Doris was, in fact, the mysterious ‘Shelbourne’—or had been in another lifetime, Steve knew she was in immediate danger.
The SWAT team had arrived just moments before Steve and Chin, so Steve ordered them to surround the ground-floor unit that housed his mother’s apartment. Steve motioned to Chin.
“I need you to go around the back, to block any possible exit. I’m going in through the front. I’ll open a line on our radio to keep everyone apprised. I will not lose another family member to this maniac.”
Chin nodded in agreement. “Kono’s calling Danny, just to let him know that we have this under control. If he can feel you as clearly as you can feel him, he knows you have a bad situation right now. He can’t do much from where he is, so we need him to stay calm.”
Steve slid around the corner to his mother’s unit and noticed that her door was slightly ajar. He had no clear view into the apartment, so he eased his way toward the center room. The voiced were becoming clearer as he approached where his mother was positioned.”
“I know you’re there, Commander, please join us.” Wo Fat was calm, but then he did have the advantage.
“Why are you here? What do you want from my mother?”
“Steve, it doesn’t matter. Just get out!”
Wo Fat chuckled. “Now, now, we wouldn’t want your son to miss our reunion. Have you not told him why his family has been destroyed?”
“She doesn’t have to tell me that you’re some kind of psychopath. I figured that much out all on my own.”
Steve now had a clear view of the dining room. Doris was seated away from the table with her back to the door. Wo Fat stood over her, a handgun aimed at her heart.
“Mom, are you alright?”
“I’m going to be okay, Steve. You should leave. This is between just the two of us.”
“That’s not going to happen. He had dad killed because dad started looking into your death. I’m not going to lose you the same way.”
“How touching, Commander. Have you never wondered about the connection we all have?”
“We don’t have a connection, Wo Fat. This is all on you.”
“Not quite. This, as you say, is all on your mother. Because of a betrayal she perpetrated long before you were born.”
Doris flinched at the words, and Steve watched as she rubbed a hand over her elbow—over her own ignored Favoured Scar.
“Okay, maybe I was wrong. Maybe I do want to know. What is he talking about?”
“It doesn’t matter, Steve. None of it matters.”
Wo Fat growled in anger. “It matters! It all matters! You destroyed my world! I have come to finish destroying yours!”
Steve leveled his own weapon at Wo Fat. “So, why don’t you tell me? Tell me what she did to destroy your world.”
Wo Fat glanced his way briefly before once again watching Doris, gauging her every motion.
“I was five years old when this woman came into our home. She looked different then. She has had cosmetic surgery since that long ago time, but one thing could never be changed.”
Wo Fat motioned to Doris’ elbow. “I was young, but I recognized the mark on her arm as one matching a scar on my father’s hand. At the time, she called herself Victoria Shelbourne, and she claimed to be a teacher. She came into our home and befriended me and my mother. My mother was no fool, and she saw the matching scar. She knew what that meant for my father. Or rather, what it should have meant.
“This teacher tried so hard to win our trust, and she never said in front of me that she was a match to my father. As my father was not home, the importance of the Mark was negligible. My mother grew to trust the teacher. And then my father returned from Thailand, and my teacher showed her true intentions. She did not know that I was watching, listening. She said she was chosen because of her Mark. My father was funding the army against the United States, and he had to be stopped. My father begged her to honour her Mark, but she said that she had a choice to make, and he was not her choice.”
Wo Fat then looked directly at Steve. “She fired only once, and killed my father without a thought. Then she turned on my mother. My innocent mother. And she shot twice, and killed her, too. Then she turned to me. She bade me come to her, and told me I would be fine now that the evil was lifted from my life. For a year, the woman I knew as Victoria Shelbourne kept me as her own foster child. She cared for me and nurtured me, telling me that I would be a part of her always because she could not have her Mate.”
“But, Commander, I was not fine, and the evil was not away from me. The evil was still with me, reminding me every day of my father. I could see, every day, the Mark on her arm. And then, when I was eight years old, a man came and told Shelbourne that she would have to get rid of me, as well. That keeping me alive was never part of her orders. She hid me away, somehow, and then she left forever. But I never forgot.”
Steve felt cold. “Mom?”
Doris shook her head. “The Marks aren’t law, Steven! I could make a choice, and I did. I made the right choice for me. I was loyal to my country, and I still refused to kill a child. I stayed loyal to myself! It was better that way!”
Wo Fat scoffed at her. “Better that you should kill an entire family, and leave the child to remember? You took everything from me! And now, you will pay!”
Wo Fat raised his weapon, and a single shot rang out.
When Chin and the SWAT members entered the apartment from separate entrances, they found Steve standing over the body of Wo Fat, a single gunshot wound to his head. Steve was standing in front of his mother, anger across his face.
“Chin, call it in. I’ll call the Governor and tell him that I’ll report more fully tomorrow. Right now, I’m going to go meet with Danny and his family. We’re having a get-to-know-you dinner tonight.”
As Steve turned to leave, Doris reached out and grabbed his arm. “Steve, you don’t have to Bond! You can choose to get married like a normal person. I know Catherine still loves you. You can make that choice.”
“Like you did, Doris? I can choose to ignore the Marks? I can choose not to be with the one who completes me? Look at what your choice did for you! Dad loved you, I know he did. And your secret and your choice got him killed. Your choice! You failed your husband, and you ultimately failed your children, all because you failed your Mate. I can’t do that. I can’t be like you.”
And Steve turned and walked out of the apartment, heading toward Danny and his new family.
Danny was enjoying the down-time with his family. Since this was their first visit to Hawaii, he and Grace were having fun telling them all about the cool things to do and see while they were there. Danny’s mother was looking forward to shopping at the World Marketplace, and his father wanted to try golfing in paradise.
And, of course, they all loved Steve.
Joy joked that Danny won the Mate lottery when he got Steve, but Danny kind of agreed. Sure, they had bumps in their relationship, but they worked through them. Steve told Danny’s family that he would still be blessed to have Danny as a best friend even if they weren’t Favoured Mates. Danny believed that as well. Steve was, for all of his difficulties, the best person Danny had ever met.
The day of the Ceremony dawned bright and clear. Danny had almost been afraid, because there was rain the night before. But there was not a cloud in sight on this day.
Since this was not going to be a traditional wedding, Steve and Danny decided to forgo tuxedos and other formal wear. Since Danny refused to wear an ugly Hawaiian shirt, they both chose simple linen shirts and traditional leis. Danny dressed in his cream-colored shirt and black dress slacks, and he frowned at the casual sandals that Grace had chosen for him for the occasion. Steve wanted to wear cheap ‘slippahs’, but Danny refused those as well. He figured the sandals were the lesser of two evils.
Danny looked around the room as he finished dressing. This was going to be his last day in this tiny apartment. Most of his belongings had already been moved into Steve’s—their—house. The few boxes that were left would be moved into Steve’s truck before the Ceremony that morning. Danny certainly wouldn’t miss this crappy place. Grace never complained, but the too tiny space was cramped at the best of times. Grace had the main bedroom in the apartment, but she was really looking forward to her new bedroom at the house.
And Steve was looking forward to having Grace living with them, at least part time. Danny was splitting custody evenly with Rachel, and he also got to spend days with his godson, baby Charlie. Danny’s family was finally becoming complete.
Steve had asked Mamo Kahike to preside over the Ceremony as the man was an old family friend and a local priest. That meant the ceremony would have major old-fashioned Hawaiian overtones, which Danny’s family was looking forward to.
Danny brushed his teeth and packed up his shaving kit. He carried the bag into the main room and placed it into his last storage box. Steve would be driving over this morning to pick him up because Danny had loaned his father the use of the Camero during their stay. Danny would have time off to build the Bond, and Steve had his own vehicle—two actually, since the Marquis was running quite well now—and Danny’s parents wanted a way to get around and see the sights while they were here. Since they didn’t have to pay for plane tickets, they were going to rent a car, but Danny told them they needn’t bother. They could use his vehicle until they left, and they would be in a car that Danny could easily trace in case of emergency. Since the incident with Rick Peterson, Danny and Steve made sure that all Five-0 vehicles had trackers.
The sound of a vehicle pulling up outside of his apartment caught Danny’s attention, and he opened the door to admit Steve, who was wearing a matching cream linen shirt and black slacks. Danny looked down, and saw that Steve was wearing leather sandals just like Danny’s. Now he knew where Grace found them.
Rachel’s garden was truly beautiful. Danny knew that Rachel liked to putter around back here herself, but she had an excellent landscape artist to do most of the work.
Mamo had set up a makeshift altar near blooming Royal Poinciana trees. The bright red flowers were a beautiful contrast to the plain colors worn by priest and participants. Danny and Steve also wore leis made from orchids and white ginger flowers, a traditional wedding lei for a non-traditional ceremony.
Grace walked before Steve and Danny, sprinkling rose petals on the ground for them to walk on. Rachel had dressed the girl in a red-skirted tea dress with a cream bodice and sweetheart neckline. Danny smiled as she walked barefoot through the garden to the altar.
All the other guests in attendance wore casual clothing, as this was more a celebration of the Favoured Ones than a formal occasion. As Steve and Danny stood in front of Mamo, the guests gathered in a loose semi-circle behind them to show support.
Danny looked behind him at his guests—at his family. His mother, father, and siblings stood to his right, next to Rachel and Stan. Grace stood in front of her mother, holding onto the stroller carrying Charlie. Next to Stan, Chin and Malia held hands and leaned into each other, heads together. Kono and Kamekona and Max filled out the rest of the group. Steve’s sister, Mary Ann, and his aunt Deb stood next to Max, but Doris was nowhere to be seen. Steve had wanted to extend an official invitation to the Governor and his wife, but Danny insisted that this be family only. When Steve raised an eyebrow at Kamekona and Max, Danny shrugged.
Mamo raised his hands and called the small group to order.
“In Ancient times, the tribes of man fought hard to survive alongside nature. Man could not communicate with the fish or game; Man could not control the plants or stars or seas. The gods, who wanted the tribes of man to flourish, gifted the tribes with a chosen few, who could bring ease to the tribes.
“Those chosen few were Marked by the gods so all would know them. The Marks would carry good luck and good fortune to the tribes. But the gods never meant for those chosen to walk alone in the world, so they coupled the Marks, so the chosen would walk with a partner.
“Today, we honor the gift of the gods by witnessing the joining of a Favoured Pair. We celebrate the Favoured Ones who have chosen to live among us and bring their good fortune to our lives on this island. Steve McGarrett is a son of the island, who returned to us in tragic circumstance and found his happiness while in the line of duty. Daniel Williams is a stranger to our home, who came to us while seeking to protect his family and found a true home instead.
“Raise your hands with me, and say praise and thanks to the gods for bringing the Favoured Ones together. Raise your voices with me as we wish them well in their union and their Bond.”
The traditional song that played on Kamekona’s portable stereo system was Hawaiian, but Mamo was kind enough to provide song sheets for Danny’s family. The words were simple; the same song sung in temples all over the world when Favoured Ones Bonded. Danny raised his hand and stroked Steve’s cheek. Steve gifted him with a smile.
Two years ago, Danny would never have thought he would be in this position.
Now, Danny was home.
The party was fun. The food was good. Danny’s family and Steve’s family got on like a house on fire.
Hell, Danny’s mother claimed Charlie as another grandchild, and Rachel all but cried at the offer.
Aunt Deb wowed everyone by singing some great old standards, even being joined by Max for a few duets. Who knew the man had tunes?
But now, all Danny wanted to do was finish building his Bond with Steve.
He was a bit nervous. Steve and Danny had become more comfortable with touching hands when they were together. They even hugged often. But they had not gone beyond that.
In order to build a complete Bond, they would have to get very, very physical.
While he didn’t know about Steve’s preparations for the Bond, Danny had begun doing research almost from the moment he knew Steve was his Favoured Mate. Danny’s person laptop had tons of information about Bonding sex, Male-to-Male sensual pleasure, and the requisite gay porn. Danny wanted to be prepared for any eventuality, and he wanted to be sure that he could give Steve a satisfying Bond.
Some of the websites Danny found were downright frightening. He quickly erased any link to the BDSM sites. Steve was fearless, but Danny was sure that being tied up and spanked—no matter how light-hearted the intent—would not be in their sights. And Danny wasn’t exactly eager to try that stuff himself.
But the educational sites—the ones that gave practical information and diagrams and links to testimonials—those became Danny’s personal bibles. And Danny bought toys. Online, of course. Even the second in command of Five-0 couldn’t afford to have his face placed in a sex shop. Danny discovered his prostate, and he swore that if he’d known about that sooner in his life, he’d never have married a woman.
And Danny vowed to make sure Steve enjoyed himself as much as Danny knew he would.
But he also vowed that he would let Steve take the lead. Danny wouldn’t force anything that Steve wasn’t ready for.
He stood in front of Steve in their bedroom. Their bedroom. Not Steve’s, or Steve’s father’s. The bought the bed together, as well as new bedroom furniture. They painted the walls a calm yellow-with-white-trim. They refinished the floors together, using the bedroom as a test before attacking the rest of the house. As much as the walls were the same, the house was theirs now.
Steve wore a bashful grin as Danny reached for him.
“You’re mine, now. I didn’t think you’d ever figure it out, but you’re mine now.”
Danny reached up and touched his lips to Steve’s, and their first kiss was perfect. Steve’s mouth was warm against his, and Danny stroked his tongue softly across Steve’s bottom lip.
Steve groaned in pleasure.
Danny stroked his hands across Steve’s shoulders and down his back. The fit wasn’t natural—Steve was a foot taller than him—but Danny snugged tight against Steve like he was meant to be there.
And really, he was meant to be there.
Danny gently pushed Steve against the bed until the taller man sat down.
Steve laughed up at him. “How do you want to do this, Danny?”
“I don’t really know.”
“Don’t tell me that you haven’t thought about it?”
Danny smirked. “Oh, I’ve thought about it, Steve. I’ve thought a lot about it. I’ve even done research.”
“Oh, yeah, Steven. Research. I didn’t want to be lacking in anything once we finally got together. So, while I know what I like, I’d like to know what you like.”
Steve sat up and shrugged out of his shirt. Then he reached for Danny’s hem and pulled his shirt up and over his head. Steve ran his hand down Danny’s chest, fingers dragging through the thick hair between his pectorals.
“Why don’t you show me what you’ve learned while you were researching? I’m sure that I’ll like whatever you can show me.”
Danny stepped back and reached for the button-fly of his slacks. “You want me to take charge this time?”
Steve nodded and reached for his own fly. “I trust you, Danny. With my body, with my heart, with everything.”
No more words were spoken.
They undressed themselves, each watching the other. While Steve was long and lean, wiry muscles and tattoos, Danny was compact and sturdy. In his youth, he was a boxer and a runner. Danny wasn’t as flashily strong as Steve, but he was no physical slouch. Since he started surfing, Danny’s body had gained more muscle tone. He was proud of the way he looked, even more so now that Steve was watching him like Danny was his last meal.
Danny kissed Steve once again, not so softly this time. Steve reached up and thrust his fingers into Danny hair, but he allowed Danny to control the kiss. Danny pushed Steve backwards until he was reclining on the bed, and then he began kissing and biting his way down Steve’s neck and shoulders. Steve moaned in pleasure as Danny tongued his nipples, kissing his way between them.
Danny’s hands were not still, either. He stroked along Steve’s flanks, and down and across Steve’s thighs. Danny raked his fingernails across Steve’s thighs as he kissed down Steve’s abdomen, dipping his tongue into Steve’s bellybutton. Steve shifted under Danny restlessly, and Danny huffed a breath against Steve’s body.
“God, Danny, you’re killing me! Please….”
“Please? Please what? Please….this?”
Danny reached out to Steve’s hard cock and wrapped his hand firmly around it. Danny licked the head, savoring the taste of his Mate. Danny sucked the head into his mouth, stroking the shaft with his hand. Danny never increased the pressure, and soon Steve was begging loudly. Finally taking pity, Danny swallowed Steve’s length deep into his throat. Steve arched sharply off the bed, and Danny scrambled to grab his hips to hold him steady as he bobbed his head slowly, sucking Steve’s cock with steadily increasing pressure. Danny hollowed his cheeks and swallowed deeply, and Steve came with a sharp shout. Danny tried, but could not swallow every bit, and thin ropes of come ran down Danny’s chin and across Steve’s thigh.
Danny sat back on his heels and wiped his face with the edge of a sheet. He watched as Steve struggled to compose himself, deep breaths rocking his body.
Danny patted Steve’s leg. “Don’t get too relaxed, Steve. I’m not finished with you yet.”
Steve gasped. “I can’t wait!”
Danny walked into the bathroom for a warm, wet cloth, and returned to clean Steve’s body. Steve had climbed more fully onto the bed, and lay against the pillows, smiling as Danny paid small tribute to his body.
“I gotta say, I like what you’ve researched so far.”
Danny smiled and tossed the cloth into the bathroom. “I can’t believe I get to touch you now. You are everything I need, Steve.”
Steve reached for him and drew Danny against his side. “I never knew. If I had known how complete I would feel, I would have looked harder. I would have put a photo of my Mark in newspapers to find you, if I had known how this would feel.”
Danny shook his head. “I think it’s better this way, Steve. What you have done in your life, and what I have done in mine; it made us what we are. We had to work hard to belong to each other now.”
Steve kissed Danny softly. “I can feel you, you know. Now that the Bond is settled, I can feel how happy you are.”
“Yeah? Can you feel how much I want you? Can you feel how empty I am without you?”
“Oh, is that what that feeling is? What do you intend to do about that, then?”
Danny sat up and reached for the nightstand. “I intend, Steven, to ride you into the mattress.”
Danny busied himself with kissing Steve as he used the lube to open himself. He did trust Steve with this part, but Danny wanted to take this first step himself. Danny knew what he liked, and right now he only wanted Steve to enjoy their first time together. Steve was hard again when Danny was open and relaxed enough for penetration. He rose over Steve and reached to position himself over Steve’s cock.
Danny paused. “You ready to rock my world, Steve?”
“Only if you repay the favor, Danny. I love you. I want everything with you.”
Danny lowered himself carefully, slowly. He wanted to enjoy this, not get injured over it. Steve breached his hole slowly, and Danny took a deep breath. Inch by inch, Danny lowered himself until he was fully seated on Steve’s cock. He took a moment to adjust, then began rocking gently back and forth. Steve’s gasps spurred him on, and Danny balanced himself by holding Steve’s shoulders.
Steve began thrusting upwards, rocking counterpoint to Danny. The friction was driving Danny crazy, and when Steve gave a hard thrust, he banged against Danny’s prostate and Danny let loose. Steve grabbed Danny’s thighs and turned them so that Steve was on top, then he penetrated again, wrapping Danny’s legs around his own hips. Steve quickly took control of the situation, kissing and nipping Danny’s throat as they moved together.
The pressure built in Danny’s spine, and he clutched Steve’s shoulders as he came. Steve followed soon after, and collapsed down and to Danny’s left, pulling Danny close to cuddle.
As they lay there, a soft glow filled the room and their Bond settled fully.
Danny was overwhelmed with feeling not his own: sorrow for John McGarrett’s lost life, Hope for Mary Ann, anger over Doris McGarrett’s duplicity and poor choices, pride in the Five-0 Task Force and the work they do every day.
Danny could feel every loss Steve felt in the line of duty, and every victory Steve helped bring to light.
Danny turned his head, and saw that Steve was going through the same thing, feeling Danny’s memories through the Bond.
“Hey, we’re gonna be fine, Steve.”
Steve smiled back at Danny. “Are you kidding? We’re going to be golden!”