Author's Note: Hello all! This is my first Hawaii Five-O fic. I hope I did everyone justice; this story is a little different. The idea for it actually came about in an interesting way; I was researching Hawaiian names so I could name my ukulele (pathetic, I know) when I came across a site that had several older names and meanings. I read that the name Kono means "invited" or "guest." Now, whether or not this is true, I have no idea. But it gave me an interesting idea for a story, so I ran with it. This story is set during season two, right after the Evil Kono plot. I never felt like they ever dealt with the aftermath of that; if I was Kono, I'd be ticked that my team treated me like that. And because I feel Kono is vastly under-appreciated... I give you a Kono centered character study!

Disclaimer: I don't own Hawaii Five-O, or any of the characters. Sigh.

The Invited One

Kono Kalakaua sat on the beach, shivering. Usually on the island, the sun was out and everything was bright and warm. Even during the rainy season Hawaii didn't get that cold; you only needed jackets inside, where the air conditioners were always cranked down as low as they could go. But this was a different kind of cold; it was a cold deep in the core of Kono's being. It was so intense it made the sand feel like snow and the spray from the waves feel like sleet. The sky was dark and foreboding, and the sea was gray, as if it had taken on a shade of mourning just for her. Kono wrapped her arms around her knees and huddled in a ball, trying to forget the pain, the whispers, the shouts, the commands, the pleadings, and the ever-present hum of machines. She tried to forget that she was dying, that though in her mind she was on her favorite stretch of the shore, her body was actually in intensive care next to Danny's. That is, if Danny had lived.

It was supposed to be a simple drug bust, really. Something Five-O had done before. They had all the current information and had followed every procedure to the letter; Danny had been in heaven! He kept gushing about how he'd make Steve a real officer of the law yet. What they didn't know was that the drug smuggling operation was just a front for something more terrifying; smuggling biological weaponry.

The "current information" being critically wrong, Five-O found themselves way in over their heads. They found themselves outnumbered and fighting terrorists who were not afraid to die. How they had even managed to get out was a mystery to Kono; her last memory was falling to the ground as a bullet pierced through her vest. A moment later, Danny lay next to her, blood streaming from his chest and mixing with hers on the cement floor. She couldn't remember anything after that, except snatches of shouted orders and worried conversations afterwards.

"Not that any of their worry has been directed toward me," she thought resentfully. Kono tried to push the bitter thought away, but it stuck in her head like a thorn. It had been weeks since her undercover operation with Fryer; life was supposed to have gotten back to normal. But the knowledge that the "team" idea ended when she was fallen from grace with Internal Affairs burned her, and the bitterness left in its wake was growing like a cancer. Kono knew she shouldn't be bitter; Steve had had his own problems to worry about; so had Danny, so had everyone else. But the fact that only Chin Ho had reached out to her had hurt her deeply, as if the Ohana she had chosen had betrayed her at the first test of loyalty.

Worse, now that Lori had joined the team, Kono felt as though she might as well be invisible. Not that she disliked Lori per se. But Lori was hard to talk to; closed off and often uptight. She was intense and impatient, unwilling to learn about the others around her. If Kono had Danny's gift for getting under people's skin, she might be able to reach her. But Kono wasn't Danny, and she didn't have his ability to connect people.

It was hard for Kono to express how she felt; she was a cop to the core, an expert at pushing emotions away and dealing with the here and now. She was a professional, and though her feelings were hurt, she knew she needed to buck up and get the job done. It still cut like a knife, though, every time she saw an Internal Affairs investigator prowl around the building. And it hurt even more when Steve took Lori with him on busts and left Kono to do the paperwork or work the computer or console the victim. Though they were very important jobs and completely necessary, Kono still couldn't help but feel left out. "They are probably even more worried about Danny than me," she thought, though she felt like a petty child the moment the thought crossed her mind. She was worried about Danny herself; armor-piercing bullets were nasty things, and had probably damaged both of them worse than she knew.

Kono looked out toward the sea, the water glimmering on the horizon. A part of her longed for it to be over, longed for whatever came next. It was hard to continue on as if nothing had happened; it was hard continuing on when daily you had to convince yourself of your own value and hope no one else noticed. Kono was an expert at hiding by now.

Something seemed to shift; she felt a change come over the beach. The colors, vividly locked away in Kono's memory, began to gray, getting colorless and colder till the sand became ice and Kono felt as though she was frozen. She heard, as if from far away, the sounds of shouts and the clamor of machines, but it sounded odd and out of place, and the breeze blew the sound away.

The sky over the ocean was growing ever darker, and the sight filled Kono with a sense of foreboding despite her sorrow. Death was coming; she could feel it. The clouds billowed in closer, as if to suffocate her, and the sea grew eerily silent. Then, in the distance, Kono saw a figure coming toward her.

oOo

Kono struggled to stand, biting her lip against the fear and planting each foot firmly on the ground a shoulder-length apart. If she was going to die, she would meet Death standing. But the figure coming toward her didn't look that imposing; in fact, as he got nearer, Kono felt her anxiety fade. The sun had returned with the presence of the man, and as the light finally poked through the clouds she recognized the face of her cousin, Chin Ho Kelly.

"Hey cos, how's it?" he asked Kono casually.

Kono stared at him for a moment, not sure what to say. For certain, Chin was only in her mind, yet there he stood, smiling his casual smile and looking at her with eyes full of kindness. Kono, unsure of what was happening, reached out to touch his shoulder. She nearly jumped out of her skin when she felt soft cotton fabric, and below that, bone and muscle beneath her fingers. She stepped back and looked up at her cousin.

"Chin, you're actually here!" she exclaimed.

"Why would I not be, cos?" he asked gently. "You are my family; I care a great deal for you. Of course I would be here, supporting you any way I can. And actually, I came for another reason."

"What's that?" asked Kono, suddenly wary.

Chin held out his hand. "Come with me, and I'll show you," Chin said simply.

Kono hesitated a second, then reached out and grasped Chin's hand. In a moment, the beach around them faded, and they were standing in one of Kono's aunt's homes. A big party seemed to be going on; there was pineapple cake and streamers. Adults stood around chatting happily, while the kids ran about in a pack laughing. Though the sight was familiar from Kono's childhood, she didn't remember the particular occasion. Before she could ask, though, Chin explained.

"This was at cousin Kaikala's birthday party," he said. "You were only four months old then, so you don't remember. This is the day I got to meet you... for the first time."

Kono watched as a gangly eleven-year-old came clomping in from outside. She recognized it was Chin right away, though it felt odd to see him so young (he had, of course, always been like Kono's older brother). Still, even as an eleven-year-old, he seemed to carry a weight most kids didn't have. He was ever the responsible one.

Kono's mom was standing in a group of aunts, Kono in her arms, looking pleased and young and happy. Her mother noticed that Chin was watching them, and she said, "Chin, would you like to hold Kono for a while?"

Eleven-year-old Chin nodded and stepped forward to take the baby girl into his arms. Being one of the older cousins, he'd had a lot of practice with this, and Kono gurgled and snuggled into his arms.

"Why did you name her Kono?" criticized Alani, an older aunt with a sour demeanor no one liked very much. "It's an odd name."

Chin bit his lip and looked at his aunt, Kono's mother, in apprehension. Names were very important in Hawaiian culture. Often, a person was not named until the elders approved. Usually, the name was sent to them in a dream, or was found in the way the child acted in the first few days of the child's life. Characteristic names were often used, such as "sea and the sun" or "orange tree." A name could shape your life; you did not choose it flippantly, as Aunt Alani was suggesting.

But Kono's mother seemed unruffled. "Kono means 'invited,'" she said softly, as she sent a smile toward Chin. "I want my daughter to understand that she is wanted, that she is invited into the hearts of her family and friends. What better way to do that... than with a name?"

Chin smiled and turned his back on the aunts, rocking Kono gently back and forth. Kono laughed happily and reached out to grab his face. Chin smiled as she pulled on his nose (with rather a strong grip for a baby) and said, "Well, Kono, you are invited to hang out with me anytime. I'm cousin Chin, and I'll keep extra care watching you." With that scene, the vision faded, and Kono and adult Chin were standing once again on the beach.

"You doubt your importance, cousin?" asked Chin.

Kono bit her lip in thought. She wanted to admit to Chin everything that she had been going through, but she couldn't bring herself to break Steve McGarrett's number one rule: show no problems. "No, I haven't doubted anything," she replied tersely.

"Yes you have!" Chin barked back. "Kono, I've been watching you lately, and you're scaring me! You're not fighting to stay alive; not nearly as hard as I know you can fight."

"It doesn't matter," Kono snapped back angrily. "I'm just collateral to the team anyway; Five-O would work just as well without me. It did when I was under Fryer; I know it can work that way again."

"That's not the point," Chin sighed. "Kono, Five-O will always be able to function, because it is an organization. It's a police division now; the governor will see it staffed, and when there is no longer any need for it, will see it disbanded. But you are a human being, and are of infinitely more value than any organization. Kono, when I held you for the first time, I invited you into my life. Your name has meaning; you are truly invited into the lives around you! Without you, I'd be missing a piece of my life. In time, I could grow to live without it, but I will never accept it, Kono. And neither will any of the rest of us accept it. We need you in our lives, Kono. You are, after all, invited."

Kono turned away from Chin and faced the sea, pondering over the things he'd said. After a long moment, she turned back to face him, but found herself alone again on the beach in her head.

oOo

Time seemed to stand still. Kono wasn't sure what just happened; whether Chin's presence had been real or some crazy dream in her apparently injured brain. Yet, she couldn't help wonder about the encounter with Chin. Kono had never really given much thought at all to her name; it just was her name, and that was it. She knew it meant invited (or guest), but she didn't really ever think about how her name fit into her daily life. It was an odd thought; one to ponder over. But pondering would have to wait; according to Chin, she was dying. She'd have to fight much harder if she were to live.

No sooner than the thought crossed her mind, another figure appeared on the beach. Kono watched in surprise as the last person she suspected, Max, came walking toward her.

"Max, what are you doing here?" she asked perplexed.

"Well, hello to you too officer Kalakaua. Normal pleasantries aside, I am here to help you fight," Max explained.

Kono's eyes narrowed in suspicion. "Now I know I'm going crazy," Kono said tersely. "I'm imagining you, but if it were real Steve would be the one teaching me how to fight this out."

Max frowned, but undaunted, began to pace around Kono. "Well, actually I would say that this is a pretty good indication that you are NOT, in fact, imagining this. If it all was in your imagination, you would have imagined Steve. But this is not your imagination at work, and I am here because Steve does not have the skills to teach you what I'm about to teach you."

Kono looked at Max skeptically, but she bit back any questions. Out of everyone on the team, she was the one who was most patient with Max and his eccentricities. "Please, take my hand," Max intoned.

Kono sighed and reached out. The moment her hand touched Max's, the beach flew away, and she found herself standing next to Max in the county morgue. But everything seemed... weird. The morgue was bright and filled with color. Now, the morgue had never been a colorful place before, yet as Kono stood in Max's office she realized that she could see every object from desk lamps to paperweights to pens in extreme detail. She was seeing everything at once, and hearing everything too, from the noise of the aircon to the hum of a laptop to the pounding of feet coming down the hall.

"What is going on?!" Kono gasped as the air around her was filled with noise and color.

Max stepped up to the piano and began to play. All of a sudden, Kono began to relax. The colors receded to their normal sizes, and the desk items took their proper places. Max played for a couple of moments, then abruptly turned around to face her.

"Kono, you are seeing how I see," Max stated. "I am a very observant person; I have been able to see everything around me since I was a little boy. This talent makes me a good examiner. It also can drive me crazy, but only if I let it. Kono, I have learned how to manage that which I cannot control... and I do it with music."

Kono nodded and looked at Max with a new appreciation. She had no idea this was how he went about his daily life; it was amazing he was able to function, she thought. "Why show me this?" she asked after a moment.

Max grinned and rose from the piano bench. "I invited you into my head, Kono, so you'd understand. It's not about fighting for life now. It's about fighting for life... for the rest of your life. When I was younger, I was teased to no end by some and just plain hated by others. I pretended I didn't understand their insults, but of course I did! I had to learn how to see past all that. I learned how to interact with people, and along the way... I made friends. Which I never thought I would have. Kono, I consider you to be one of my friends. So, I am helping you as best as I can. Yes, Five-O left you out in the cold. Yes, Commander McGarrett and Detective Williams betrayed your trust. You took the fall which should have been shared by them. By rights, you should be angry at them! But you were given another chance to be a part of their team, and for that I am truly grateful. Center yourself. Move past the past. When the memories get too bad, surf! When the colors and the sounds get too bad for me, I play music. When you don't feel valued, remember all those you have helped and say of yourself that you can do it again. Fight for your life... your team needs you. Your friends need you. Whether we tell you this or not."

Kono stared at Max, speechless, for what seemed like five minutes. Finally, she sputtered out, "Max, where did you ever... I mean..."

"Figure out how to speak like this?" Max asked cheerfully. "You don't watch endless hours of science fiction television and not at least pick up some level of loquacity, even if it may be a bit on the maudlin side."

Kono shook her head and smiled; that sounded like Max.

"Well, it was nice of you to stop by," Max said brightly, "but now you need to go back to your beach. It's time for you to start fighting."

Kono nodded, though she was still a bit puzzled. Then, it hit her! "Max," she asked, confused. "How did you know what went down in the forfeiture locker? No one else knew about that; just the immediate four of us!"

Max grinned at her, then walked back to the piano. "You knew!" he called out as he began to play. Kono watched as the morgue faded into darkness, and before she knew it, she was once again on the beach.

oOo

The beach looked as it always had; it was no grayer or worse for wear. But it was not any warmer; Kono still shivered from the frigid breeze. She wondered how she was going to get her way back to the land of the living; after all, if she were to start fighting, there needed to be something to fight, right? Then, as if from nowhere, she saw a form beginning to advance toward her. She balled her fists and brought her arms up into a fighting stance, though she wondered if she'd be able to duke it out in a battle with Death.

But yet again, the form turned out not to be Death, but a face she recognized. "Steve!" Kono shouted. Steve kept walking by, as if he did not hear her. He looked terrible; his eyes were baggy from lack of sleep, and his five o'clock shadow made his face look extra gaunt and pale. As he walked by, he did not turn his head to her, and Kono wondered what was going on. Frustrated, she reached out to touch his shoulder... and found herself in Chin's house.

Blinking at the change of scenery, she followed Steve into the dining room. It was flooded with people; cops and civilians alike. All of them were whispering softly, and all were dressed in black. Kono paused for a moment and looked at the mantle; there, two pictures were set up. One of Danny... and one of Kono herself. A shock ran through her system; she was a guest at her own funeral! She watched in horror as Steve and Chin roamed about, accepting condolences and well-meant-but-worthless comforts. After a while, Steve commanded the attention of the room. He spoke about each of them, highlighting "Danno's" love for his family and Kono's zeal for her job. What he said was very kind and meant to be inspiring, but it felt very trite and flat to Kono, and she felt herself getting angry. Didn't Steve have a heart at all? He spoke as if he gave speeches like this every day; it made Kono writhe a little inside. After all, what was the use of being invited to your own funeral if the people you cared about most never said what they really felt?

After the funeral, Steve helped Chin clear everything away, then he got back into his truck and headed home. Kono didn't want to come with him, but the invisible force that tugged her from the beach to everywhere didn't let her stay at Chin's, and so home with Steve she went. She hadn't spoken to him at all, so on the way to his house she decided to try.

"The least you could have done was shed a tear," she snarled. Steve made no indication that he heard, and Kono slumped in the passenger seat. For some reason, this dream was different. Steve couldn't see or hear her. She wondered why.

In a half hours time, they were back at Steve's house by the beach. Steve opened the door quite calmly, and Kono slipped inside. Then, Steve locked the door... and promptly yelled at the top of his lungs!

The sound startled Kono so much she gave out a little cry herself. She watched with wide eyes as her boss, the man she had looked up to so much, walked over to his sofa and sank down on it, crying his eyes out. She had never seen her boss so much as blink; the only time he'd looked nearly less-than-stoic was the time Danny was dying from that Serin stuff. But here he was, sobs wracking his frame, as he did his best to smother them with a pillow.

"Dannno, Kono, I'm so, so sorry," he whispered harshly, in between sobs. "I should have known... I led us all into a trap... I am so sorry!"

Kono bit her lip, regretting already the resentment she'd felt for Steve at her... their... funeral. She felt awkward now, as if she were intruding on a private moment, yet she could not stand to see her friend and mentor lying there, apologizing for something he had no control over. Kono leaned over the edge of the couch and put a tentative hand on Steve's head. "It's alright, Steve," she whispered. "You didn't know what was going to happen."

Steve still made no indication of hearing her, but he continued in a fierce whisper, "Danno, you left behind a little girl, who will now grow up without a father. Kono, you were just beginning your career... we needed you so much."

Again, Kono felt the pang in her heart as Steve mentioned that they needed her. She felt the bitterness she had been holding in her heart give way; the sorrow she felt for her boss having to face each morning knowing he'd lost two good friends melted the bitterness right out of her system. And now, she stood there, knowing what she had to do. What she had been avoiding doing.

"Steve, I forgive you," she whispered, stroking his hair though she knew he couldn't feel it. "I forgive you for turning away from me during the investigation. I know if you had to do things again... you'd do them differently."

"Kono," Steve whispered, and it made Kono jump, even though she knew he couldn't see her. "Kono, if I could live that day over again, I'd step right in front of you and take the bullet myself. It should have been me!"

Kono closed her eyes and shook her head; Steve should not be thinking this way! But when she opened her eyes, she found herself on the beach again, Steve's suffering far away from her and only the faintest echo of "it should have been me" on the wind.

oOo

Kono took a deep breath and looked around the familiar beach, only to jump nearly out of her skin when she saw another familiar form, standing near the shore. "Danny?" she queried.

"Yep," he answered, sounding both irked and relieved, a very Danno trait. "Where have you been; I've been looking everywhere for you!"

"Where have I been?" asked Kono, confused. "Well, where have you been?"

Danny looked confused. "I've been here all the time," he answered back. "I know what I've got to do too, but I don't want to do it."

"What?" Kono asked.

Danny rolled his eyes like he was talking to a four-year-old, though his tone betrayed his panic at the situation. "Listen, you may not know this, but you and I are both in a hospital."

"Old news Danny, I've known that for a while," Kono stated.

Danny frowned. "Well then, you should know what we have to do in order to get back," he said tersely. "We have to swim out there in that ocean... till we wake up."

"What?" Kono asked again, feeling somewhat out of the loop. "We need to swim out there... why? How does that bring us back from... wherever we are?"

"Listen, I don't know the semantics of this," Danny said, frustrated, "but Steve spoke with me and told me that's what I need to do. Believe me, I myself don't want to go anywhere near an ocean; I don't care if it's in my mind or not. It kind of freaks me out, because in my mind are sharks, jellyfish, rip tides, and a thousand other cursed dangers of the sea... yet, Steve said it was the only way back. I'm inclined to trust him, even if it is all in my mind, 'cause if I'm just crazy I won't hurt myself even if I drown, right?"

Kono shrugged; she didn't know what to say to this. She didn't even know how she felt about the whole beach in the mind thing. It seemed too fantastic to believe... but everything about today had been fantastical, and Kono was ready to get back normal.

"Kono... would you please swim with me?" Danny asked, sounding unsure, scared, and definitely not himself. Kono smiled; she was being invited somewhere once again! She truly was named well... and she was ready to do whatever it took to get her and Danny home.

The water was not very cold; in fact, it was a sharp contrast to the icy beach. Kono had been pleased to find that her brain had supplied her with a swimsuit; poor Danny had to strip down to his boxers, but he wasn't complaining. He was too eager to get out of there. The two of them began their swim, with Kono pacing Danny. She was surprised to see he was such a good swimmer; she'd expected him to flail around or dog paddle. But he pulled through the water like a champ, and in the end Kono had to speed up just to keep in time. For close to an hour, the sea remained the same, and they struggled to continue. Danny was growing tired; his breath was coming in gasps, and whenever Kono called for a rest he treaded water and did not speak a word. So uncharacteristic were his silences that Kono began to fear he wouldn't make it, and when they were off again she pondered the problem of having to tow him along. Though the surface of the water was warm, Kono felt the cold fingers of the depths rise up to her, and she knew that if either of them got so much as a cramp, it would all be over.

Fortunately, about that time the sea began changing. Kono couldn't pinpoint when she first noticed the change, but the waters they were swimming in became crystal clear and even warmer, as if they were flooded with light. The water rose around them both, but they could breathe in it, and it wrapped around them like blankets. Kono lost sight of Danny then, but she didn't fear for him; she just knew everything would turn out okay. And then, as she looked up through the waters, Kono saw the face of her cousin Chin. He looked haggard, but his smile was a wonderful, welcome sight, and Kono surfaced into consciousness.

oOo

Kono and Danny were lucky. They found out, a few days later, that they had been in the hospital close to two weeks. Apparently, Danny's gunshot wound had been worse than Kono's, for he had had so much internal bleeding he'd needed seven hours of surgery and a transfusion. Kono though had to deal with a concussion as well as a gunshot, which explained away, at least to her, the ordeal she'd gone through in her head. It also explained why all the men on her team were suddenly treating her like a fragile flower; apparently she had coded twice: once at the crime scene, and one time a few days later. Though a part of her resented their attention, the other part of her found it endearing. Her teammates got fidgety, just like anyone else, and being all tough guys they really didn't know how to deal with her.

Steve and Chin apparently took it upon themselves to see that their teammates made a full recovery; Danno was set up in Steve's house for recovery, and Kono in Chin's. They were so diligent in taking care of their wounded members that Kono and Danno shared many a silent joke about their mother hen qualities. But it was good to be out of the hospital.

One day, about a month later, Kono went by herself to her favorite stretch of beach. It looked just like how it had looked in her... (dream, vision?). Except that in reality her beach was alive. The sand was a dusty blonde, the sky a bright blue, the sea an aqua splash framed by the deep green depths and the frothy white foam. The sun was warm on her back, and the breeze coming off the ocean was balmy. At first, Kono had worried that she'd never feel comfortable here again, but the unease faded away the second she put her foot on the sand. It was wonderful to be by the sea again, and as she sat there she thought of each of her teammates that had been there to help her out: Chin, Max, Steve, and Danno. Those were her boys, her brothers. They were not perfect. They did not always make the best decisions, or do what was best. But they were ready to be the best Ohana for her, and Kono was determined to be the best teammate and family member for them. After all, had she not been invited?