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16 September 2011 @ 06:55 pm
Fic-H50 When the Ocean Meets the Shore (1/3)  
Title: When the Ocean Meets the Shore
Author kristen999
Word Count: 25,000
Warnings/Rating R for language and scenes of violence
Spoilers: Set in season one, but no spoilers.
Genre: Gen. Drama, Action, H/C
Summary:Some cases are personal. Others become an obsession. The death of a friend leads Steve and the team on a collision course with his past, the collateral damage endangering them all.

Thank you to my amazing betas coolbreeze1 andeverybetty for all their hard work. You guys are rock stars and make my words shine!

Special thanks to mischief5 sheafrotherdonand black_raven135for advice.

Notes: I am not in the military, but I did a lot of research and spoke with friends who helped me with aspects of this story. All inaccuracies are my own or for creative license.



***

Water.

The source of life. Its importance transcends religion and philosophy. Wisdom. Power. Purity.

For ancient mariners, it was to be conquered on bamboo and wooden boats.

Steve loved the ocean. It was peace. A place to be alone with his thoughts.

He swam daily, six miles every morning. Seeking freedom and the challenge.

He felt like going ten today. Five out, five to shore. He longed for the rhythm and adrenaline high of endorphins. To push things harder. Feel himself struggle and combat the odds. Farther and farther, with nothing but the sea holding him back.

But like most times of serenity, he gave into reality, returned to shore and the brightness of the world. Water dripped down his chest; salt burned his lips. He sloshed through the lapping waves to the sandy beach and gazed up.

The sky was ablaze in a reddish glow.

A bad storm approached.

Red sky at night, sailor's delight.
Red sky at morning, sailor take warning.


His gut clenched in foreboding.

***

Steve drove the long way to work with one eye on the rear window. Paranoia was a friend, had kept him alive for years. Even with little traffic on the roads, he took a sharp left after a right turn. Satisfied that he wasn't being tailed, he arrived at HQ hours before anyone else.

Catching up on paperwork did little to distract him, his sense of unease increasing by the hour. He went online and surfed the internet for keywords in news stories. As an intelligence officer, he knew how to pick up on signals before major events blew up─ telltale chatter in online forums and blogs, or seemingly benign reports of trouble spots all over the world.

Nothing.

He scanned the most recent HPD bolos next but found nothing there either.

A rap at his door startled him. He pulled out and aimed his Sig in the direction of the noise.

“Whoa.” Danny held up his hands. “What the hell?”

Sighing, Steve holstered his weapon. “Sorry. Didn't hear you.”

“Didn't hear me? I called your name twice.”

“I was distracted.”

“More like trigger-happy. Did you have too much caffeine or what?” Danny stepped closer, eyes narrowing. “Or maybe not enough. Have you slept?”

“I slept,” Steve defended.

For about three hours.

“Right. That's why you're so jumpy,” Danny mocked, crossing his arms and leaning on the doorjamb. “Is something up?”

“Nothing.” Knowing that answer wouldn't satisfy Danny, Steve relented. “I dunno. Just got this bad feeling I can't shake.”

“Okay, I get that, but you being paranoid is nothing new. If you weren't, I'd be worried something was wrong.” Danny moved inside and took a seat in one of the leather chairs. “You've been logging some hefty overtime investigating Wo Fat. Maybe it's catching up to you?”

“It's not that.” Steve rubbed a hand across his jaw. “It's like...” His words fell away. “You know, it's nothing. Forget it.”

“It's not nothing. Especially if it, whatever it is, has you wound up this much. Thought about running it off?”

Steve chuckled, recalling his long morning swim. “Yeah, didn't help.”

“How about indulging in some éclairs? Picked a few up on my way. I’ll share, even though you tried to shoot me earlier.”

“I don't try to shoot people,” Steve declared with a half grin.

Danny rolled his eyes and Steve followed him into his office, snatching one of the pastries off the desk.

“Hey! Ever heard of etiquette?” Danny groused, tucking a napkin into his white shirt collar and handing Steve one.

Steve wrapped it around the éclair much to Danny's annoyance. In four bites, the pastry was gone, and he wiped his hands together, sprinkling powder on the floor instead of his black t-shirt.

“You're cleaning that up later,” Danny pointed at the flakes.

“If you didn't wear such delicate clothes, you wouldn't be so worked up over some crumbs.”

“I'm sorry that my wardrobe doesn't consist of a ten-pack of Hanes tees and cargo pants. I happen to like a little color in my life and appear professional to the public. And this,” Danny waved a hand down his chest, “was a gift from my ex-partner in Jersey. A guy with impeccable taste in ties.”

Steve stared at the blue and red striped thing. “Silk?”

“Of course.”

“It was probably made in China.”

Steve enjoyed the one-upmanship while he could but made a quick getaway. Trading barbs with Danny eased the knot of tension in his belly. Rounding his desk, he pulled out a folder on the Robinson case and leafed through it in preparation for his upcoming testimony.

Chin and Kono arrived and they waved at him as they walked past his office. The morning briefing was in half an hour, but despite arriving early, Steve hadn't gathered his notes on their pending cases. He wasn't in the right headspace today.

His phone vibrated and he snagged it on the second ring. “McGarrett.”

“Commander, this is Lieutenant Chou with HPD.”

“Lieutenant.”

“Listen, we discovered a DB a few hours ago without any ID. We searched his cell's last incoming and outgoing calls and found your named listed as a contact.”

Steve sat straighter. “Do you have a description?”

“African-American male. Early forties. Six two, about one-eighty. Tattoos on his arms and shoulders.”

Chou breathed heavily on the other end while waiting for a reply. Steve white- knuckled the phone. “What's your location?”

“The Motel Eight on Makana and Fourth. Room ten. Do you recognize the description?”

“Wait for my team and me to arrive. Has the coroner transported the body?”

“No. He got caught with a double homicide and is on the way. Do you—”

“Don't transport the body until we get there,” Steve ordered and hung up.

The éclair threatened to make a reappearance.

He nearly toppled over the chair as he stood and rushed by his teammates' offices. “We've got something. Let's go.”

Normally Steve wouldn’t hustle them out without explanation, but this wasn't the time for niceties.

“Hot case?” Kono called out.

“Maybe,” Steve answered, not looking back.

When they walked outside pink and red remnants still streaked the sky.

He should have heeded the dawn's warning.

***

Makana and Fourth was a seedy area of town, miles away from tourist dollars and rich neighborhoods. A regular cesspool. Steve gunned the engine the whole drive, peeling into the parking lot twenty minutes later. Danny must have sensed the tension and gave him a wide berth with silence.

“You want to wait for Kono and Chin?” Danny asked, closing the car door. “You might have left them at last Monday.”

“They'll catch up,” Steve answered, walking beyond the yellow tape into the room.

He pushed all emotion to the back of his mind, focused only on the intel in front of him. The smell hit him first- vomit and cheap takeout. The carpet was covered with stains and paint peeled off the walls. A cockroach scurried across the nightstand and under a dirty ashtray.

On the bed lay a familiar body, slightly thinner and older than Steve remembered.

“You knew him.”

It wasn't a question. Danny read Steve too well.

“Yeah,” Steve replied.

“Mind telling me who he was?”

Chou was a middle-aged detective with a head of thick dark hair and a lanky frame. The guy had a high solve rate and his reputation for doing anything to protect it proceeded him.

Danny deployed like a drawbridge and stepped in front of Steve. “How about givin' him a second?”

“I've already waited half an hour for you guys to arrive.”

“Then you can wait a little longer.”

Chou scowled and Danny matched it tenfold.

“His name was Marcus Jackson,” Steve replied. “We served together.”

Danny's expression was a mix of sorrow and dread. His eyes drifted to the shoestring tied around Jackson's right arm and the syringe next to the clock. “You haven't bagged and tagged that yet?” he asked Chou.

“With 5-0 coming down? I didn't want to deal with the hassle.” Chou didn't back down at Danny's aggressive posture. “You guys taking over the scene?”

“Yeah,” Steve spoke. “We'll take it from here.”

“Sorry about your friend,” Chou offered as an afterthought. He gestured for his people to vacate.

The room emptied out, and the world went from white noise to the dripping bathroom faucet and the rattling air conditioner.

“You want me to call Chin? Tell him he doesn't need to come?” Danny asked.

“Why?”

Danny looked from the bed to Steve. “Does this really need the four of us?”

“We have a scene to process,” Steve answered. “Marcus hated cigarettes, but there are butts in the tray. And none of his shoelaces are missing.”

“People's habits change. Or he could have had friends over. Not to mention the paraphernalia on the nightstand.”

Steve circled the bed. “He was allergic to secondhand smoke.”

Danny didn't argue and he nodded at Chin and Kono when they arrived.

“Sorry, we hit every red light,” Chin apologized, pulling out his camera.

Kono slipped on a pair of gloves. “Where do you want us to start?”

This was their crime scene, but it felt like a waking nightmare. Steve hadn't budged an inch, caught in an undercurrent of trying not to react.

“I'll do the sketch,” Danny said. “How about you guys split the entrance and the room. I'll talk to the coroner about transporting the body to Max.”

He heard Danny take charge in the background, but all Steve noticed was the leaky faucet, like rain bouncing off a boonie hat. He rubbed absently at his left shoulder, pressed his fingers over the old scar beneath the collarbone.

Danny cleared his throat, and Steve snapped out of his daze. “I'm fine. And I'm not recusing myself from the case. Not when Chou'll just slam it closed without really looking at it.”

“Then let us investigate.” Danny regarded Steve like he might break into pieces or perhaps go on a shooting spree of revenge. “Maybe you should give yourself some space.”

Steve wasn't a stranger when it came to burying friends. “I've got some calls to make.”

“You going to contact his family?”

“No. He didn't have any. I know a few contacts who might have some answers.”

“When you come back, think you could fill the rest of us in?”

His partner had thrown him some rope to run with.

Aware of Chin and Kono listening in the background, Steve nodded. “I'll talk to you guys when I get back.”

He ignored the worried eyes as he exited the motel room.

A strong breeze was blowing in from the south, and Steve watched the ominous storm clouds gather for a few seconds before climbing into the Camaro. He closed the door as the first drops pelted the windshield and pulled out his cell, scrolling through the call history.

Three weeks ago, Marcus had called him in the middle of the night, but he had never called him back.

The raindrops turned into a steady drizzle, and he stared out the window.

***

May 12, 2002.

Little Creek, Virginia



The men all stood at attention as LTJG Steve McGarrett entered the barracks. “As you were,” he told them.

Six sets of shoulders relaxed, eyes evaluating and dissecting him. All tough-as-nails squids with fresh tridents on their collars. All but one.

He sought out the guy whose body was the most at ease and had the wariest expression. Other than their CO, the rest of the platoon was green as Steve.

Except for the Petty Officer First Class standing at the end of the row.

He was several years older with dark skin and broad shoulders. A quarter inch of hair covered his large head, and brown eyes studied Steve while a square jaw chomped on a piece of gum.

With a quick gesture, the rest of the men quietly dispersed to other parts of the barracks. “McGarrett,” Steve said with an outstretched hand. “Guess we'll be getting to know each over the next eighteen months.”

Giant, calloused fingers squeezed Steve's back. “Jackson. And if you mean, I'll be spending the next eighteen months ensuring you don't get us all killed, then yeah. We'll be like peas in a fucking pod. Sir.”

It took three seconds to be put in his place. Steve may have been a junior lieutenant and the second-highest ranking officer of the platoon, but that didn't mean shit. He was fresh out of BUDs─ an Annapolis grad without real experience except two years in Naval Intelligence.

He sat high on a meaningless totem pole. Jackson was his sensei regardless of the number stripes on their sleeves.

But Steve was here to learn and to lead when the time came. Squaring his shoulders, he nodded. It was his job to take all the shit, and Jackson was the one with the giant shovel.

“I want the men prepared for quarters in ten minutes.”

“Aye, aye, sir,” Jackson replied and like a drill sergeant began barking orders.

***

The heavens opened up and drenched Danny's clothes as he stepped from the car. He sprinted across the lot, dodged puddles, and left a trail of muddy footprints as he entered the office.

“Damn hurricane,” he grumbled, his shoes squeaking with every step.

“More like a tropical storm, brah,” Kono coughed, storing her umbrella.

Chin chuckled behind her, adding his umbrella to the metal bucket in the lobby. “You've lived here, what? Almost two years? Always be prepared for rain, and keep something handy with you in the car.”

“Guess I flunked that whole be-prepared thing in Scouts,” Danny snarled, wringing water from his slacks.

He stomped toward the plasma, typed in the name of their DB, and stole a glance at McGarrett's empty office.

Rapping his fingers impatiently next to the keyboard, he let out a growl of frustration. “We have super computers that could run NORAD and they slow to a crawl when you really need them.”

“Was McGarrett as silent on the ride to the scene as he was in the motel?” Chin inquired.

“He was absolutely chatty at the scene in comparison.” Danny glanced at the vacant office again. “I should have never let him leave the scene.”

“He didn't need to be there,” Chin offered. “If he knows the victim, working the case is bad news.”

They were hollow words. Danny had worked the Meka case, complete with a no-holds-barred attitude. “Yeah,” he said unconvincingly.

The last time Steve had had a run-in with one of his 'old buddies,' it ended with a re-creation of the Alamo at McGarrett's home. After the smoke cleared, Steve's Navy buddy had been wheeled to the morgue, killed by Steve's own hands.

The aftermath was locked away in a secret compartment in Steve's mind as far as Danny could tell. Steve never talked about it. But training or not, things had a way of smoldering, burning away layers of your soul.

The computer beeped. Marcus Jackson's face and record appeared on the plasma.

“Senior Chief Petty Officer Marcus Jackson. Served in the Navy from 1989 until he received an honorable discharge in 2006. Medical,” Kono read out loud. “Says he was a SEAL.”

A heavy silence settled. Great. A SEAL. It was bad enough that the guy was Navy. The military bond was for life, fused with sweat and blood. But a SEAL...it was like they were all part of some secret society. Maybe they were.

Danny wasn't a fool. He got it, but damn it. This meant Steve would be so pigheaded, so tunnel-visioned, there would be no dealing with him, let alone communicating with anything that resembled logic. Or sanity.

“Let's see how long he's lived on the island,” Chin said. His fingers danced over the keys. “He’s been on Oahu the last ten months. Bounced around stateside for the four years before that. Most recent employer was Singer Industries. He was a security consultant.”

“Huh, not surprising,” Danny commented. “Any criminal record?”

“Clean as a whistle...wait a second,” Chin said, tapping away. “He'd been in rehab twice. Last stint was at a clinic in L.A.”

“Coincides with the paraphernalia we saw at the scene.”

“I told Max to put a rush on things; we should hear back on a COD later today,” Kono told Danny. She fidgeted, eyes dropping from the screen to the desk. “Maybe something will turn up in autopsy.”

“You mean something besides heroin? Like speed or meth?” Danny challenged.

Her expression deflated. “I don't know. I just think we shouldn't jump to conclusions for McGarrett's sake.”

“Jump?” Danny laughed mirthlessly. “Don't you mean have a path painted by numbers?”

Chin didn't say a word, which only made Danny feel like the bad guy. Innocent before proven guilty was the letter of the law, but experience told otherwise. He glanced up at the plasma, took in an admirable service record, and tried checking his gut at the door.

All eyes shifted to the sound of footsteps, and Danny's stomach clenched in apprehension.

Steve bounded in with long purposeful strides and a chiseled stone expression. “What have we got?”

“Not much. We found out where Jackson worked the last ten months. Pulled up his service record, which of course, you know more about.” Danny watched the corded muscles in Steve's neck tighten. “Your turn.”

“I talked to a buddy of mine to see if he knew what Marcus was up to on the island, but he hadn't spoken to him in the last couple of years.”

“Probably because he's bounced around a lot,” Chin explained. “He worked as a security advisor for a firm in Denver from 2007 to 2008. Then he spent three months at the Pacific Coast Recovery Center from February to the end of April of 09.”

“Yeah, I know,” Steve admitted. “I'm aware of the other time he spent in rehabilitation, too.”

“He had a history of drug abuse?” Kono asked.

“Prescription painkillers. He was hurt on the job. His addiction started a few months after he finished physical therapy.”

On the job.

The waves of guilt were enough to knock Danny down. If a script was written on a physician’s pad, then it didn't fall under the same stigma of hard drugs.
It was society’s invisible disease.

Steve's barriers were battened down, but that didn't stop Danny. “When was the last time you talked to him?”

“Over a year ago.”

Ouch. Danny knew a thing or two about friendship and the erosion from lack of communication. “Is it possible that he could have moved to street drugs when the legal ones stopped working?”

“No.”

“People change,” Danny tried reasoning. Lord knows, his brother had. “If he was injured badly enough to be discharged, enough to need pains meds to function, it's not a big jump to seek relief wherever you can find it.”

“Not Marcus.”

Danny bit his lip. “People do crazy things when they're desperate and in pain.”

“Do you think he would be able to hold down high-position jobs or pass random drug tests if he was strung out on something?”

“Do I think that a high-profile corporation would want to look good by hiring a highly trained military vet? A SEAL no less? The last I checked, you guys were pretty smart. Passing a piss test was probably a no-brainer.”

Steve eyes flashed angrily and Danny backed off. “Look. We don't know anything about Marcus Jackson present day. Let's find out more. Talk to his co-workers and neighbors. Go to his house.”

Investigate, Danny wanted to reiterate.

Chin tagged in and steered things back toward the facts of the case. “The night manager of the hotel had already gone home when we arrived. Kono and I will track him down and talk to him. The occupant of the room next to Jackson’s is in between moving apartments. We'll go by his work and see if he saw or heard anything last night.”

“We should have Jackson's financial records by the time we get back, and the lab might have print results from the stuff we collected from the scene,” Kono added.

Hearing how they were dividing and tackling the case eased the stiff set of Steve's shoulders. “Alright.”

Danny's own muscles eased a notch as well. “Then let's go,” he said, downloading Jackson's file onto his phone. “I'll drive.”

***

The skies opened up and a monsoon engulfed the roads. The islands really hated Danny. It took twice as long to navigate and keep the car in a straight line. It would have been easier to charter a boat through the flooded roads. Steve had zoned off, the constant spray bouncing off the windshield hypnotizing him.

Danny let his partner drift away in a haze of memories while he sorted out what little facts they had to go on. Like why had Jackson rented a hotel room when he lived ten minutes from work?

Circle Hills was a modest, older apartment complex, which was a little surprising. He was sure a security contractor beat a cop's salary, not to mention military benefits. He didn't say a word when they got the key from the manager.

Steve walked inside and wordlessly stood in the middle of the spartan living room for a minute before checking out the rest of the apartment. “No ashtrays,” he pointed out after his quick walk around.


“No nothing,” Danny said, searching walls void of pictures or mementos.

A nineteen-inch TV older than Grace sat in the corner opposite an ugly brown sofa that wouldn't be fit for a dorm room. “Did your friend live here or a college student?”

“You see any dust or clutter?” Steve contested as he sat in front of a desk and booted up the laptop there. “Marcus was always about the job. He didn't have a permanent residence when we were deployed.”

“But you guys weren't always on missions.”

“No. Those of us without a wife or kids lived on whatever base we were stationed at. Made it easier to train continuously.”

Danny wasn't sure if he should be impressed or saddened. “Live and breathe being a SEAL twenty-four seven?”

“For some of us.” Steve scrutinized the computer screen. “Someone's copied his hard drive recently. We'll need to take it with us.” He stood. “I'll check out his bedroom.”

There were no signs of a forced entry and not much to search. Danny poked around and realized his apartment wasn't very dissimilar. A home spoke volumes about those who resided there, and he and Jackson didn't actually 'live' in their respective places as much as occupied them.

It was eye-opening.

He walked into the bathroom, found a shiny sink and toilet. The medicine cabinet was filled with amber prescription bottles. God, he hated his job sometimes. He snapped pictures of them with his camera-phone and went back into the tiny living room.

Steve reappeared out of the doorway, carrying a box. “Nothing out of the ordinary in there.”

“What's that?”

“Don't know. Random pictures, some papers, and a notebook. Thought I'd sort through them.”

Danny glanced at the box then back up at Steve who sat on the lumpy sofa like he might take a nap there. “You okay?”

“Yeah.”

“You're a lousy liar.” Danny planted a hip on the armrest of the sofa. “Were you and Jackson really good buddies?”

Steve chuckled. “It was his job to wipe the green off me.”

“In other words, he was the guy from Full Metal Jacket?”

“That was Marine boot camp, and no, it wasn't the same. Not at all. I actually outranked him....”

Danny waited for more, but Steve's thoughts ended there. Danny wouldn't allow the moment to totally slip away, though. “Did you go into the Navy to become a SEAL?”

Steve shook his head. “I graduated from Annapolis and went into Naval Intelligence. After six months, I couldn't stand working in a cubicle, wearing my whites everyday. I was dying for active service.”

Danny couldn't imagine Steve McGarrett as a paper-pusher. “Then you tried out?”

“Yeah. Trained on my own for eight months. Passed all the written tests and the physical.” Steve rolled his eyes. “I was too valuable, so they held me back a year.” He paused and sat up straighter, his body all stark lines. “Then 9/11 happened. I entered BUDs in October. The idea of a SEAL with an intelligence background was considered a great combination. I even went back worked for NI as a SEAL a few years later."

Not to mention proving one's self to the old man, but Danny didn't say that out loud. But just as Danny got his foot in the door, it slammed shut by the ringing of a cell phone.

“McGarrett.” Steve grit his teeth. “We'll be right there.” Ending the call, he looked over at Danny. “That was Max. He's ready to discuss the autopsy results.”

***

Unless a body was in the later stages of decay, the autopsy room wouldn't smell. It was ventilated and pristine. Clinical. Marcus's body was fresh. A white sheet covered his lower half, his chest marred by a large Y incision. Steve had escorted bodies home before. He’d spent hours in a hot, steamy helo, his mind detached from the aftermath of violence around him.

He stood still with his arms by his sides.

Max dove into his report, ever oblivious to the world outside of his environment. “COD was a myocardial infarction due to an overdose of heroin.”

“Were there any other drugs in his system?” Steve asked.

“Toxicology was positive for low levels of Tramadol, a commonly prescribed painkiller. It was negative for any other substances, but the grade of heroin was extremely pure.”

“A hot shot?” Danny asked.

“If you mean that it lacked most other elements?” Max clarified. “Then, yes. It was 64% pure.”

Steve looked to Danny for a translation.

“Jun-” Danny cleared his throat. “Regular addicts don't use the pure stuff. It's too expensive for one, and no dealer would waste profit distributing it.” He peered closely at the body and looked up at Max. “Were there signs of a struggle?”

“No defensive wounds or bruising,” Max answered. “There were also no ligature marks around the ankles or wrists that would be evidence of restraint.”

“Any signs of previous drug abuse?” Steve asked.

He stopped looking at the steel table.

“There's no evidence of needle marks in the arms, between the toes, or the gums. I haven't checked the less obvious areas yet.” Max fished out a PDA for study. “There was inflammation of the liver and kidneys, which is indicative of long-term opiate abuse. Possibly Fentanyl, Morphine, or Oxycontin. Maybe Vicodin—”

“We get the picture,” Danny interrupted.

Max halted his lecture and moved to the other end of the table. He pulled away the sheets covering Marcus's lower half, revealing dozens of jagged scars. “As you can see, he has had approximately eleven surgeries on his left and right legs. From my examination, he suffered─”

“Two shattered tibias, a broken fibula, and a cracked patella,” Steve finished for the ME.

Danny looked horrified, hiding his expression with his hand.

Steve wouldn't allow himself to feel anything at all.

Max glanced up, eyebrows scrunched in curiosity. “From an automatic weapon? I estimated from a strafing direction less than ten meters away.”

“Yeah,” Steve grit out.

“With the amount of scar tissue, it was difficult for me to determine the number of bull─”

“Max, how about moving along?” Danny intervened.

“Oh, um. Why, of course. It was just with the history of drug abuse, I saw the outlying cause and well...” With an awkward glace in Steve's direction, Max pulled up the sheet.

“Was he a smoker?” Danny inquired as an afterthought.

“Not that I could tell. More than likely smokeless tobacco. The inside of his left cheek showed signs of deterioration, as well as his gums.”

Steve had what he needed. He turned around and pushed open the doors to the hall. He heard Danny tell Max thanks, his partner's footsteps catching up.
Steve was outside in seconds. He stood under the alcove by the exit while rain sprayed him in the face from a sharp angle.

“I had an uncle who chewed,” Danny spoke, breaking the heavy silence. “I attributed it to his obsession with the Yankees. He spent more time in the dugout as a high school coach than at home. Was your buddy into baseball? Or was shooting his national past-time?”

“No, he was a Packers fan, I think,” Steve answered, closing his eyes to the raindrops sliding down his face.


***

August 15, 2002


Cleaning his gun was relaxing, a soothing exercise he could do with his eyes closed. Hell, he already knew how to fire any weapon, no matter the make or model, but of all the guns available, the Heckler and Koch was the sexiest. The finest German craftsmanship.

“Nice HK. Prefer the M13.” Jackson slid into the chair across from Steve and slouched down. He pulled out a wad of chewing tobacco. “Thing chucks brass into the next zip code, but the weight's better.”

“I like the sights on the P9S.” Steve fieldstripped the gun, flipping the levers and removing the slide and barrel. He nodded at Jackson. “You like gnawing on that stuff?”

“Yep. Since I was thirteen.”

“Kinda fits with the Lone Ranger,” Steve said, casually referring to Jackson's call sign.

“Had that nickname since I was a kid, too. Father owned four hundred head of steer back on the ranch.”

Jackson spat into the cup he carried. “Cigarettes bother my allergies. Besides, I wouldn't ever let the scent of smoke stick to my skin.”

Smoke had a sharp pungent odor in the middle of places one wasn't supposed to be. Steve was still stuck on one piece of intel. “A ranch?”

“You don't think a brother could grow up on one?”

Great. First time Jackson said anything to Steve beyond, 'That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard, sir,’ and Steve just insulted him.

Jackson burst out laughing. One of those rumbling, full-bellied things. “You white guys. Always so damn skittish.”

Steve snorted. He'd been played. “You're an asshole.”

“I try my best.” Jackson rolled his thick neck. “And yeah, pops owned a ranch. When he retired from the Navy, he took up the cattle business. Guess he missed barkin' orders.”

“Was he a lifer?”

“Yep.”

“Mine, too. Then he became a cop.” Steve tried not dwelling on his bruised past and changed subjects. “Where's home?”

“With my team,” Jackson replied in full conviction. Then for a moment, he let his guard down. “Ranch got sold when pops died. Not long after mom. But since you’re curious, I was born in Montana.”

That was something.

Steve crinkled his eyebrows. “Landlocked Montana?”

“Never grew up around the ocean, but I didn't have to with all the stories pops told. I couldn't wait to reach the sea.” Jackson trailed off, his thoughts elsewhere. A smile actually quirked his normally hardened face. “What about you Jay Gee?”

Steve wiped down the first piece to his weapon with a cloth. “Hawaii. Third generation Navy. I don't really go there much anymore.”

“SEALs don't need a port to call home, sir.”

Steve grabbed the gun oil. “No, we don't.”

***

Rain dripped down his forehead and plastered his hair. He longed for the sea, to swim twenty or thirty miles out. Allow the saltwater to rub his skin raw.

“I know your preferred state of being is wet, but standing there drifting off in space is weird behavior even for you. Get into the car or come back inside before you catch pneumonia.”

“I'm not going to get pneumonia from this,” Steve said, pulling himself together.

“Right, I forgot. You've probably stood outside in the rain for what? Twenty-four hours straight? In the winter. Barefoot.” Danny clamped Steve on the shoulder. “Come on, let's grab some grub.”

“I'm not hungry.”

“Well, I am. And I'd like to eat before dealing with the boys in narcotics.”
Steve's head shot up and Danny smiled ruefully. “Who else has expertise in island trafficking?”

Steve once watched a thousand acres of poppy fields burn. Ignored dozens of dirt-streaked farmers standing by helplessly while their livelihood went with it.

He'd give up the ocean if he could wipe every last poisoned flower from the Earth.

***

Lunch was fish tacos and a salad Danny forced on Steve. He ate while he ran over the case forward and backward. Danny spent the entire time talking then yelling into his phone. His face alternated between various shades of red, and bits of shredded cheese and lettuce dripped onto the napkin draped over his tie.

“I know you're knee deep in a sting, all I need is─” Danny nearly crushed the cell in his hand. It was a surprise it didn't burst into flames from his murderous glare. “Those assholes are more worried about their next bust than giving us the info we need.”

“Who else has their finger on the pulse of island drug operations?” Steve growled.

He snapped his fingers at the same time Danny hit speed dial on his cell.

Kamekona.

***

Nimbostratus clouds were the dark gray ones. They formed in the middle altitude range then subsided into lower elevations during rain. Right now was a lull between downpours. The cumulonimbus clouds would roar in soon, tall, dense, and releasing thunderstorms.

A good sailor knew them all.

Steve wanted some answers before the next squall.

“You know we can't go steamrolling into a business and demand that all the drug dealers inside raise their hands, right?” Danny asked with his usual sarcastic bite.

“I just want to see the ones slinging what they shouldn't.”

“Right. And you plan on doing this how? Ask nicely?”

“Or not so nicely,” Steve said with a pat of his gun.

“No, no, no,” Danny growled, stepping in front of Steve and blocking his path. “Kamekona said this guy has major operations all over the islands. The DEA's been trying to infiltrate his business for years.”

“I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse.”

“Seriously? You're quoting the Godfather now?”

Steve grinned.

Precision Work was one of the best auto detailing chains on Oahu. The perfect front with tons of traffic in and out. Ignoring his partner’s warnings, Steve marched into the parking lot. Ball caps, shaved heads, and dreads all turned and watched them.

Five men strolled out of the glass showroom, hoodlums dressed in cheap suits.
Except for the grease ball in the middle.

“Gentleman. I'm Martin Sabo. How can I help the police today?”

Danny rolled his eyes at the heavy Chicago accent. Sabo was in his early forties with a chest and shoulders bigger than the rest of him. Another gym monkey who bench-pressed too much. His dark hair was slicked back with too much gel and he reeked of cologne.

“Lt. Commander Steve McGarrett. Detective Danny Williams. 5-0,” Steve said with a quick introduction.

Martin smiled like a shark. “What can I do for members of the governor's task force? Make your vehicle shine like a million bucks?”

“No, I want you to tell me which of your scumbags deals in the really pure stuff. If you don't, then my unit's going to tear your outfit apart. We'll camp outside your store, treat every single customer as a possible suspect.” Steve felt all eyes on him and he spoke even louder. “Not only that, we'll rip into your finances. We’ll tail every employee and hound you until we choke any and all activity to a standstill.”

“Wow, I don't know what to say.” Martin waved his hand around. “I run a detailing business. The only thing pure here is the water we use to wash the cars.”

Danny smirked and turned toward Steve. “You know, if I paid top dollar to get my car into pristine condition, I might get pissed if one of the employees left dust everywhere.”

The sky rumbled above. Steve could feel the rain coming in his bones. Enough screwing around.

“All right. Listen up!” he shouted at the employees eavesdropping. “All of you are going to form a straight line for us. Then you'll hold your hands out so we can spray your fingers with a chemical. If your skin's come into contact with even a sprinkle of heroin, it'll turn pink.”

Everyone tensed.

Good.

Danny stood next to him, watching and observing as Steve went on. “The thing is, I don't care if it turns pink. I'm not looking for pink. I'm looking for purple. Because purple means you've come into contact with only the purest grade heroin, and I'm going to take you down for murder.”

Martin started to interrupt him and Steve spun around. “Shut up.” He pulled out his badge and flashed it in the air for all to see. “I'm the head of 5-0. I don't play by the rules. Your skin turns purple, I’ll make sure you spend the rest of your miserable life behind bars.”

Out of the corner of his eye, Steve caught a burst of movement to his left and took off after the guy making a run for it.

There was a fifty-yard gap between them, but Steve zeroed in on the KISS t-shirt and baggy jeans. He tackled the suspect at full steam and they crashed hard onto the pavement. The punk went for a gun and Steve took his wrist and snapped it with a sharp twist.

The guy screamed, his weapon clattering to the ground. Steve pulled his hands behind his back and held him down with a knee while he slapped a pair of handcuffs in place.

“Jesus, Steve!” Danny growled, retrieving the fallen gun.

Steve wrangled the suspect to his feet and released a heavy breath.

It started raining again.

“Nice ruse with the chemical thing,” Danny said, scanning their surroundings for activity. No one had followed them, but he kept his gun out.

Steve spun his suspect around for a face to face. “What's your name?”

“You broke my wrist, asshole!”

“Want me to break the other one?”

“Lanny, man.”

“We've got company,” Danny warned while a posse of employees approached. He pointed his gun at the ground in plain view and moved toward them. “There's nothing to see here. Everyone return to work.”

Danny lifted his Sig higher and whispered to Steve. “You keep walking toward the car. I'll keep an eye on our friends.”

“Keep moving,” Steve ordered, shoving Lanny roughly forward.

Rain soaked through his clothes and splashed under his boots.

He heard the gunning of an engine, and Danny shouting a warning, but Steve was already in motion. He tried shoving the suspect to the ground, but it was too late.

There was the squeal of tires, then shotgun blasts.

Lanny's body jerked and his head exploded. Blood splattered Steve's face, and pain shot through his arm.

Then the world erupted into chaos.


***

Danny heard the Ford round the corner then saw the barrel poke out the window. He screamed at Steve and ran after it, but by the time he leveled an aim, the shooter got off three rounds. He shouted again and squeezed the trigger. His bullets struck the trunk and shattered the back window, but just as quickly as it had appeared, the vehicle was gone.

He ran full tilt toward Steve and almost lost his lunch at the carnage. Kneeling down, he reached toward his partner, praying he was alive. God, there was so much blood. Hardly anything remained of the suspect’s head.

Steve groaned and that was enough to spur Danny into action. He pulled his cell and called for backup and a bus, then he shifted position and put himself between his fallen partner and any other possible threats.

Before he could check for a pulse, Steve bolted up, swinging his weapon wildly.

“Hey, take it easy,” Danny tried reassuring him.

Steve's eyes went from dazed to laser-focused. They darted from Danny to the remains of the corpse next him, and then they went dark and flat.

“McGarrett?” Danny whispered, still surveying the area for danger. The parking lot was strangely empty. Not even any lookie-loos. “Hey, partner. You might want to lie down. I think you're in shock.”

There was no telling if his friend was badly injured. Most of the suspect's blood had splattered onto Steve, all over his shirt and pants. Half his face was covered with it.

“Those bastards,” Steve snarled.

“What bastards?” Danny asked, ears perking up at the sound of sirens.

Thank goodness, because Steve was acting a little unhinged.

“We were onto something and they took him out.”

“I know. I was standing just a few feet away.”

“Don't you get it? This was an assassination!”

“Yes, I get it! Now calm down!” Danny yelled back.

At this rate, he would need the ambulance, not Steve, but he wasn’t willing to risk Steve bleeding out and being too jacked on adrenaline to notice. He grabbed his partner’s wrist and felt the pulse flutter wildly.

There was no telling if this was a flight-or-fight response. It seemed mainly like fight. Steve went to stand and Danny had to bodily push him down.

“God damn it! Be still!” Danny snapped.

Steve obeyed, his chest heaving like a man about to run into battle. He glanced down at his left arm and cradled it against his chest. Danny quickly ran his hands up and down Steve's torso in search for wounds, pausing when he spotted the various holes in his friend's shirtsleeve.

The squad cars and ambulance finally arrived, and Danny wiped the water out of his hair.

***

His cell wouldn't stop blowing up. Danny paced the ER, coordinating with HPD still at the scene of Precision Work and fielding calls from Chin and Kono. Not to mention the Governor's office. He wanted to ditch the thing in the nearest trashcan.

“Hey, thought you might need this,” a familiar voice said.

The aroma of fresh coffee perked Danny right up. “Chin Ho Kelly, you're my savior.”

“If I knew a cup of joe would get that reaction, I would've brought you some malasadas.” Chin laughed with Danny, his grin disappearing seconds later. He nodded toward the treatment area. “How are things going in there?”

Danny sipped his coffee. “Wouldn't know. A nurse booted my ass out.”

“You know he'd act this way if it was any one of us. McGarrett doesn't give his loyalty easily.”

Oh, Danny knew all right. It made him want this whole thing wrapped up as soon as possible. Steve was strung tighter than a bow during most cases. Add children or heaven forbid a father, and then the blinders came out and Steve was a bull on steroids, china shops be damned.

Steve McGarrett had serious abandonment issues since even before the crushing weight of both his parents' murders. Why else would someone seek solace in an elite military group built on foundations of life and death and trust?

“Despite my earlier reservations, I'm fully on board the McGarrett train of thought on this. Our perp was targeted. He was killed to shut him up.”

“Ballsy move. Not to mention risky as hell,” Chin pondered, shaking his head. “The question's why?”

Danny was about to ask how the questioning at the hotel had gone when the nurse came over. “Detective Williams?”

“Yeah?”

She gestured for him to follow her. “I can take you to where Katie is treating your partner.”

Chin hooked a thumb toward the exit. “I'll go help Kono finish up at the scene. The storm's probably washed away anything useful, but we still need to take witness statements.”

“We're keeping Max busy today,” Danny sighed.

“Good luck,” Chin offered as he left Danny to fend for himself.

***

Danny was escorted to a curtained area and was promptly left there. Steve sat on a gurney without his shirt. He still wore his cargo pants, which were ruined. It was scary to think Steve could be used to wearing clothes covered in other people’s blood.

“Commander, would you please reconsider using a painkiller? It would make things easier,” the nurse asked.

“No, thanks,” Steve grunted.

Danny had an instant affinity for Katie. So naïve and young and unprepared for the hurricane that was Steve. They were two kindred spirits, except she was cute and maybe twenty-two at the most, and she had this whole starry-eyed thing despite his partner acting like a jackass. It had to be the tattoos.

The IV didn't go unnoticed to Danny’s trained eye, nor the nearly empty packet of blood, and it was impossible to miss the dozens of cuts and lacerations that peppered Steve's left bicep and part of his shoulder.

“Are you seriously giving the person digging into your flesh with tweezers a hard time?” he asked, dismayed at the ridiculous stoicism. Steve's face was taut with tension, his face gray. “You're not the Terminator. Having shrapnel pulled out has to hurt even you.”

“I was given a local,” was Steve's reply.

“If you were more relaxed, it would make retrieving the pieces easier,” Katie suggested. She smiled warmly at Steve.

“Listen to the voice of reason,” Danny pleaded. “I would rather not bear witness to this act of barbarism.”

“She's almost done,” Steve bit out around a grimace.

“This might take a while, Commander. There are um...some bone fragments embedded in the muscle, and they're quite tricky to extract.” Katie opened up a fresh suture kit as she spoke.

“Bone fragments?” Danny echoed wide-eyed. “I think I might be sick.”

“Skulls explode. It's like any other bomb. I'll get patched up and go back to work.”

Danny had enough. “Did you hit your head, too?”

“We've had two DBs in less than twenty-four hours. Someone's cleaning up their tracks and we're ten steps behind them.”

“Them. They. Have you listened to yourself lately? Will you be wearing a tinfoil hat next?”

Steve jumped to his feet, scaring the crap out of Katie who dropped the tweezers. He stood toe to toe with Danny, his expression thunderous. “We have a case to work.”

Before Danny could apologize for his partner’s behavior, Steve seemed guilty at his outburst. The sharp angles of his jaw and face softened as he turned to Katie. “I'm sorry. I know you're trying to do your job. I understand that, but I'm just trying to do mine.”

***

Inside, the car was icy cold. Frigid. Steve hadn't spoken a word since he’d tried but was unable to slam the door closed. To be truthful, Danny was glad. His knuckles were white around the wheel and the windshield wipers were loud and fast against the glass.

“It stopped pouring,” Steve mumbled.

“I am well aware of that.”

“Having the wipers at max while it's drizzling is a bit overkill.”

Danny resisted the urge to pound his fist on the dashboard. “You wouldn't know anything about overkill, would you?”

Steve said nothing. He continued staring out the window, all his thoughts trapped inside the steel cage of his mind, the sign on the lock reading 'Keep Out'.

Danny let the wipers stay on max despite the squeaking noise they started to make.

“You missed the turnoff,” Steve pointed out. “Hey─”

“We're not going back to HQ. I'm taking you home. We've got your meds, and I know you have food, so there's no need to pick up your truck. One of us will bring it back tomorrow because you, my friend, are grounded.”

“The last I checked, I'm the head of 5-0.”

“Then consider this a coup for lack of judgment. Have you looked at yourself in the mirror?” Steve was still in those bloodied cargo pants and a scrub top since his shirt had been cut away in the ER. The white bandages around his arm were a stark contrast to the blue sling that cradled it. “You're a mess,” Danny scolded. “It's already late, and if I'm exhausted, then I know you are, even if you won't admit it.”

Despite the fact that Steve had been an ass, Danny knew the man was hurting. Emotionally and physically.

He pulled up the driveway and put the car in park. “I could come in for a while if you wanted to talk?”

“No, I'm fine.” Steve grabbed the white bag of pills and pulled on the door handle. “Thanks for taking me home. I want to get an early start tomorrow, so pick me up at five if you can.”

The car door clicked closed.

Danny rested his forehead against the steering wheel. He ran his hands through his hair and rubbed his aching temples. One day, Steve would let him in, but not today. Danny couldn't force it, so he drove away pissed and worried.

"Part Two"
 
 
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Kathy: McDanno/Camarokitmerlot1213 on September 17th, 2011 02:00 am (UTC)
Steve is truly lucky to have such a good friend in Danny and I hope one day, Steve's able to talk to his friend about his pain.
kristen999: H copcarkristen999 on September 19th, 2011 02:24 pm (UTC)
Steve has been locks to many doors and he's open a few for Danny in the show and I hope we'll see more of him letting Danny in as time goes on.

Thank you :D
sherry57: steve with gunsherry57 on September 17th, 2011 12:06 pm (UTC)
Such joy...your story is here!!!! Happy dancing!! Great first chapter hon....runs off to read the next one....happy dancing on the way!
And three cheers for a great lead up to the start of season 2 on Monday!!
kristen999: H ladderkristen999 on September 19th, 2011 02:25 pm (UTC)
EEeeeeee! Glad you're happy dancing through the chapters :D
Dianediane_c on September 18th, 2011 01:34 pm (UTC)
I got so excited when I saw this long story from you, 'cause I love your writing. :) My first thought was to save this to read on a little mini-vacation I'm taking in 2 weeks, but that resolve lasted about 2 minutes and here I am, at the end of part one. It's excellent!
kristen999kristen999 on September 18th, 2011 06:39 pm (UTC)
Eeeeek. Glad to have broken your resolve...I think :-P

Hope you enjoy the rest!
Tridgettridget on September 29th, 2011 02:12 am (UTC)
Wonderful! Between the writing and the details, the story is completely immersive. The characterization is very rich, too, and the psychological nuances perfect.

There's a great balance here in the story - the investigation of a current case, past issues for Steve and solid friendship between Danny and Steve and it all weaves together so well.

I sense the real storm has only just begun for them.

kristen999: H Steve Gunnedkristen999 on September 29th, 2011 10:48 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much hon!

This was a pretty layered story and I really tried to weave in some subtle details without bogging it down because the key for me was some emotional payoff.

I hope you enjoy the rest :D
Lost and not quite found_thelostcity on September 30th, 2011 03:43 am (UTC)
I'm loving this so far. On to the next parts!

One tiny thing, though. When you first describe Jackson you say "First Class Petty Officer" and it should be "Petty Office First Class".
kristen999: H Steve Climbingkristen999 on September 30th, 2011 01:55 pm (UTC)
Thank you. Hope you enjoy the rest.

One tiny thing, though. When you first describe Jackson you say "First Class Petty Officer" and it should be "Petty Office First Class".

Fixed! Thanks :D
fangirl29fangirl29 on February 23rd, 2012 04:20 am (UTC)
I read your fic over the last couple of days, and I am still reeling! I can't believe how authors like yourself take something that is fictional and give it the painful intensity needed to make it seem so real! Steve's pain and grief is so palpable it hurt to read :( Your knowledge about the weapons, the SEAL training...everything give this a heart-wrenching, heart-racing, edge-of-your-seat intensity! In other words...I LOVED it!
kristen999: H Steve Camokristen999 on February 23rd, 2012 08:59 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad Steve's grief seemed real. I want Jackson's death to mean something and have a profound impact. :D
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )