Title: Plausible Deniability

Disclaimer: Not mine.

A/N: Oh, show, you are so awesome. I adored last night's ep and my only qualm was the lack of Danny in the final scheme. I kept asking myself where he was and this fic was my answer to that. Beta'ed by geminigrl11, who wins almost as much as this show does.

Summary: If being asked to risk his life on a daily basis was annoying, being told he wasn't allowed to risk himself when he was clearly committed to doing so was infuriating. Missing scene to 1.12.


So. In the months since joining 5-0, Danny had gotten shot, been bitten, torn his ACL, and generally endured extreme risk on a daily basis. Even on his days off. Because he was just lucky like that.

And that didn't even get him started on the daily annoyances, like Steve's bad driving. Or Steve's horrible taste in music. Or his partner's frustrating insistence that Danny should try to adapt Hawaiian culture into his life. Or the monumental task of trying to keep their little team of full immunity and means from breaking every law in the Hawaiian legal code.

All things considered, it had been an eventful few months.

Danny had always taken solace, however, in the fact that they hadn't overtly broken the law. Bent it, yes. Gotten creative with it, sure. Possibly infringed upon it somewhat, probably. But not flat out ignored it.

Until now and their brilliant plan to break into a top secret HPD lock up to steal ten million dollars against the governor's explicit orders.

This wasn't just ignoring the law. It was purposefully and willfully obliterating it into a thousand tiny, tiny pieces.

Really, he was more surprised that it'd taken this long than anything. Still, the inevitability of it all didn't provide him much comfort. Even as he tried to assuage his nerves at the thought of stealing from HPD, the gnawing fear of the consequences was digging a pit in his stomach that left him more than a little uneasy and a lot on edge.

But what were they supposed to do? Really, what were they supposed to do? Let Chin die? The governor's grand plan was to not negotiate with terrorists and HPD had done a knock-up job clearing the area so Chin could explode without taking anyone with him.

Danny wasn't about to let that happen. It wasn't in his nature to let a brother in arms die, especially not in such a stupid and senseless way. He couldn't stand that thought, anymore than he could stand the thought of Kono grieving or what it would do to Steve.

So Danny was on board, as much as he could ever be on board with breaking the law and putting his entire career - not to mention his life, again - on the line. He would do this for Chin, for Kono, for Steve, and they all needed him now. Steve almost more than any of them.

Danny knew Steve. The SEAL had a propensity for recklessness, but never quite like this. Steve was clinging his sanity by a shred, and Danny was more than a bit terrified at what would happen if this went any more wrong than it already had. As it was, it was all Danny could do to keep up with Steve's increasing bouts of brashness, and he'd spent the better part of this case trailing after his partner, trying to pick up the pieces and pull the reins when absolutely necessary.

Even now, Steve was completely focused. After finding the blueprints, Steve hadn't looked back, and after a whirlwind planning session, they were ready to go.

As ready as they'd ever be, of course. Danny wasn't sure he could ever feel properly prepared to break the law in this way, but at this point, he was too far in to bother second guessing it anymore.

Eyeing his partner, Danny worked to keep pace. Steve hadn't even bothered to announce that they were leaving, but his steady trajectory out the door had been a pretty clear indication. It was all Danny could do to just keep up because not only were Steve's legs significantly longer than his, but his partner was moving like a freakin' automaton.

But they had the plan. They had the blueprints and they had their cover. A few calls to Kamekona and they even had costumes and transportation. They were ready to do this.

Following Steve out the door, Danny had to say it to himself again: they were ready to do this.

He was so intent on convincing himself of that, that he almost didn't see Steve stopping, coming up short in front of him.

Danny managed stop, flailing a bit. "What, we're stopping now?" he asked. "I thought we were on autopilot and weren't stopping until we crossed go and collected ten million dollars."

Steve looked around widely, brow creased pensively. "Kono will be back with a van any moment."

"I know that," Danny said, letting one had flit in front of him. "I was the one who suggested getting the van."

Steve nodded knowingly, not quite meeting Danny's eyes. "So it's time for you to leave."

Danny blinked, thinking surely he had misheard him. "Um. What?"

Steve drew a breath, looking at Danny finally. "You're leaving."

Danny stared back, hands frozen in front of him. "Yeah. I'm leaving. With you. And Kono. In the van." He shifted his stance, crossing one arm over his chest and using his other hand to scratch his neck. "To fulfill my lifelong fantasy of being a bank robber."

"No," Steve said, ignoring Danny's attempts at biting levity. He took another breath, as if to steel himself. "Danny, you're not coming."

Danny balked, and even if some of his protest was habit, a lot of it was genuine. "I'm not coming? What do you mean I'm not coming?"

Steve's countenance didn't flicker. "I mean you're not coming."

Reining in a sigh, Danny squinted up at him, eyeing him critically. It went against his nature to not rant at this point, but his partner was under a lot of stress, and Danny was capable of restraint when necessary. But only when necessary. "Yeah, that's what you said," he said, as measuredly as he could manage, "but I'm still not quite understanding why."

Steve sighed. His face was pinched and he looked at Danny intently. "You said it yourself, this is a high level of insanity. I'm not going to ask you to do that."

It sounded reasonable enough, which was exactly the problem. Steve was many things, but reasonable was not among them. Especially when it came to this case. So why Danny's partner was choosing now to suddenly throw logic at him, was a little beyond him.

His self control wavered, and unable to contain himself, Danny threw his arms out, incredulous. "And I told you, we'd do what we have to do."

"I know that, and we are," Steve said plaintively. He looked away again, shaking his head, before looking back at Danny. "But I need you to stay with Chin."

Danny opened his mouth and closed it. Leaning back, he tried to make sense of it, but came up with a whole lot of nothing. "I'm your partner," he reminded Steve. His hand went out, supplicating. "We back each other up. No matter what. That's where I'm supposed to be."

Steve chewed his lip. "If we get caught-"

"We won't get caught."

"-if we get caught, we'll do time."

"We won't get caught," Danny insisted, refusing to think otherwise. Because Steve was a freakin' superhero and Danny couldn't doubt that now, even when he really kind of did.

"Real time, Danny," Steve said, as if Danny needed to be reminded of the police code and the consequences of breaking it.

"So, what, it's okay for you to take that risk, but not me?" Danny asked, hackles flaring. "Have the last few months not proven that I go along with your idiocy even when I know I shouldn't?"

"I know you have," Steve snapped. "And I know you would, in a heartbeat, but I can't let you."

If being asked to risk his life on a daily basis was annoying, being told he wasn't allowed to risk himself when he was clearly committed to doing so was infuriating.

Danny blew out a breath, running a hand through his hair. He prided himself on having a firm grip on his temper during this case, and he'd put up with a lot. A lot a lot. He knew Steve was under a lot of pressure - more pressure than anyone should be under - but if his insane partner didn't start making sense soon, Danny was going to have to start pounding his face in to make it work. "You can drag me on dangerous car chases and torture me with horrible music, but this suddenly crosses a line?"

Steve's jaw worked. "I won't let you put yourself at risk like this."

That was laughable. Well and truly laughable. Steve You-Are-The-Backup McGarrett didn't want Danny to put his life on the line needlessly. Situation be damned, Danny could not be expected to have this level of tolerance. "You got me shot on our first day!"

Steve, true to form, was almost entirely unaffected by his outburst. "It's different now."

Danny put his arms out wide, shoulders shrugging. "I'm not seeing much difference except that this time, I'm actually volunteering." He pointed to himself to prove his point.

Steve sighed, scrubbing a hand through his hair. "Yeah, you're volunteering for something that could get you put away. It could cost you your badge."

"Yours, too. And Kono's," Danny pointed out. He moved his hands, punctuating each word. "We're in this together."

Steve wet his lips, shaking his head. "It's almost Christmas," he said.

I'll take Obvious facts for 200, Alex. "Yeah, I know the date," Danny said.

"And you've got six hours with Grace," Steve reminded him with a steady look. He shook his head, gaze flitting away. "My history with Hesse may cost Chin his life, and I'm sure as hell not going to be responsible for taking you away from Grace. If you stay here, you have plausible deniability with everything we're about to do."

"Plausible deniability," Danny repeated, almost surprised Steve knew what the phrase meant.

Steve nodded. "Plausible deniability."

Maybe Steve didn't know what it was. "Do you know what plausible deniability is?"

Steve's face was hard, determined. "It means that Grace gets Christmas with her father, no matter what."

Danny's breath caught, just for a moment. It was hard to think of it like that. Danny liked to separate his life, to compartmentalize, otherwise going to work every morning was almost more than he could take. Grace was always on his mind and staying alive long enough to see her again was a strong motivating factor, but this was not the time or place to think of that.

He had a job to do. He was a father and a cop and he would do both to the best of his ability but when push came to shove, he knew the risks and he knew the sacrifices of picking one over the other. "We all have something to lose," he said, a little stiffly, keeping the emotions at bay.

"And that's something I have to accept," Steve said, meeting Danny's eyes again. "But even if you're willing to forfeit everything, it's not fair to Grace. I can't let you risk yourself like this. You stay with Chin, and Kono and I will take care of it, and if anyone finds out about it, you have plausible deniability. Either way, I'll call you when the bomb is diffused."

Danny found himself gaping inexplicably, blinking slowly. Plausible deniability. It was almost logical. Sensible. His partner was thinking of his well-being. Taking his point of view into consideration. Protecting him.

The one time Danny was willing and ready to put it all on the line, Steve was ready to take the high road and exercise common sense and real regard for Danny's life situation and simplistic desire to stay alive.

The son of a bitch picked a hell of a time to get a conscience.

Danny shook his head. "I can't just sit back and let you and Kono risk everything. This is my team, too."

"And you'll be there for Chin," Steve said, and he leaned forward just a little, his eyes resolute. "That's where I need you now."

That was where Steve needed him now.

Orders were easy to defy. Military logic was even easier to circumvent. MacGyver tactics were easy to mock.

But simple requests...

They were killers. Like Grace blinking her large brown eyes up, asking for just ten more minutes of TV for bed. Danny was a stubborn man and he took great pride in that, but there were some things that just made him melt. Grace's innocent please, Rachel's coy smile, a fresh slice of honest to God pizza from Jersey.

And, apparently, Steve McGarrett's genuine request.

At the curb, Kono pulled up in a nondescript white van. She didn't say anything and her face was palely drawn in the driver's seat. She was ready to do this, no matter what, but Steve wanted to give him plausible deniability and what else was he supposed to do?

It wasn't the first time he'd asked himself that today, and it wouldn't be last, but damn it all, what else was he supposed to do?

Clenching his jaw closed, Danny frowned. He squared his shoulders, bristling as he shoved his hands in his pockets. "Fine," Danny said. He pulled out one hand, waving a finger at Steve. "But I want it on the record that I was willing to go."

Steve actually looked relieved, the tension draining from his body ever so slightly. "Noted," he said. "Have your phone on."

Danny nodded. "On and waiting. So you better call."

Steve nodded curtly, moving past him toward the van. "I'll call."

Danny took a breath and tried to believe it. "If you have a problem-" he said after him.

Steve looked back from the van door, pausing just long enough to make eye contact. "I'll call," he promised, and he turned back, opening the door and settling inside. He nodded at Kono, who looked gravely out at the road. She inclined her head, fingers tight on the wheel, and neither of them looked back as the van pulled away from the curb and eased into traffic, leaving Danny alone.

If Danny had hated the thought of going on this run, he hated the thought of being here by himself even more. Because from here, there was nothing he could do to help any of them. Knowing his partner was hurting. Knowing that he was willing to risk everything to save Chin's life. Knowing that Steve needed backup, needed someone to hold him together, needed Danny, and that Danny wasn't going to be there?

Was the hardest thing Steve had ever asked of him.

Harder than going on a bust and getting shot. Harder than trusting a scumbag human trafficker. Harder than wearing a lei and getting sand in his shoes.

And he wasn't going to stay for Grace. He wanted to, but that wasn't the reason. He wasn't going to stay for Chin, though he wanted to do that, too. He was going to stay because Steve asked him to, and that's what partners did.

Damn it all, that was what partners did.

They finally figured that much out, and watching Steve's retreating form, Danny could only hope it wouldn't be too late.

With a sigh, he put his head back to look up at the endless Hawaiian sky. Dropping it down again, he rolled his shoulders, and pulled his cell phone out of his pocket. Checking it, he turned the ringer on high, turning on the vibration as well. He wasn't about to miss Steve's call.

Pocketing the phone stiffly, he he made his way back to the HQ to find a car so he could get back to Chin. He fingered the phone in his pocket, one more time. Not because he was scared, of course. Hell no. He was just being diligent. Following orders like Steve asked him.

And if anyone wanted to think differently, they could take a long walk off a real short pier for all Danny cared, because he had plausible deniability on his side.