Title: "Getting By With a Little Help From My Friends"
Word Count: 4,100
Genre: Gen. Lots and lots of comfort.
Spoilers: None. Takes place in Season One.
Characters: Steve, Danny, Chin, Kono
Summary:When you're a team, you don't need words.
Something sweet to take the edge off the finale!
Thank you to my wonderful beta and always amazing beta everybetty.
Her gloves bounce off leather, the punching bag rebounding violently as Kono attacks it again. No matter the number of blows or how hard the punishment, the bag always wins. But that doesn't stop her determination; alternating fists, adding her knees to the mix, she battles back the swell of anger and pain deep inside.
"You start without me?"
With a final jab, the bag goes flying and Steve grabs a hold of it, keeping it from rocking back.
Heart pounding, Kono rips her gloves off, tossing them onto the bench. "Got here early. Thought I'd warm up."
"You call beating the crap out of a bag warming up?"
"Maybe. Don't you?"
A coy smile reveals more than any words and Kono strides back and forth to keep her muscles limber, coffee and adrenaline trying to one up each other in her blood. He's dressed in a pair of black sweat pants and a sleeveless blue Navy t-shirt revealing the tattoos down his biceps. Steve takes a seat, unlacing his shoes while keeping an eye on her nervous pacing.
She stares at his shirt's insignia, an eagle clutching a trident in one talon, a cocked pistol in the other. The symbols are more telling of the man than the institution they represent. Kono's never asked him about his service and he's never volunteered any information. She's always burned with curiosity about where he's been, what he's done, but has always stopped herself from voicing such thoughts out loud. Perhaps never knowing is a good thing. Not out of fear, but respect. Yet deep inside there's that nagging unease at how easy it is for him to slip in and out of soldier mode.
To go from goofy smiles to a face of chiseled stone.
And it's that duality she seeks to emulate.
"You've earned a black belt in taekwondo," he says, shaking Kono out of her reverie. "But I've noticed some kickboxing elements."
Kono's martial arts experience is listed in her record, but only those she's completed courses in. It shouldn't be a surprise that he's picked up on her style, probably analyzed her moves. "I've been training at a new dojo the last year and a half. I studied taekwondo when I was younger because it kept me in shape for surfing competitions, but after I blew out my knee, I took up judo in preparation for the force."
"Green or blue belt?"
"Purple," she beams with pride.
"Inshō-tekina," he whistles.
Nodding, Steve rolls his neck and shoulders. "We'll go slow the first round. Get used to each other's styles."
This is why she asked him down to the gym. For this. No arguing or telling her to take a few days off to gain a new perspective.
After bowing at each other, Kono drop backs and waits, lets Steve go the offensive. He feigns forward and steps back before prowling in a slow circle. When he finally lashes out, she's ready, wrists rattling against bone.
He grabs her left forearm, starts bending it back, but Kono moves with the motion, twisting free.
"You're holding back," she accuses, frustrated. "Don't take it easy on me, boss. I won't learn."
Like a light turned off, Steve's eyes go dark and flat, his hands all furious motion. Kono weaves and dodges, running out of space as she's forced toward the end of the mat. It's all she can do to block his moves. Suddenly there's nothing but air and she lands on her back, legs swept out from under her.
There's no pausing for breath, no asking for help up and she's back on her feet only to end up on her back again five seconds later. He counters everything she has, seems almost two steps ahead of her.
But next time Steve goes for a take down, they grapple and she spins around. Kono gives him an elbow to the solar plexus, stabs the back of her foot into his knee and flips him over her back.
Panting heavily, she stands over him, chest heaving.
Wetting his lips, he tells her. "Good job."
Except when the bad guy has a hidden gun.
Rubbing her fingers over her breastbone, pressing on the ugly blue and green bruising, she holds her head up high. "I want to learn Krav Maga."
"I can recommend a good instructor."
"I want you to teach me the basics. What I can use in the field."
The day Kono was offered a spot on 5-0 she hacked a peek at Steve's record before accepting a job on a task force headed by someone not formally trained in local law enforcement. Her brain might have short-circuited in awe before the screen went black-but the tease had been enough.
Grabbing a towel, he mops at his sweat soaked face. "There are no rules in Krav Maga, Kono."
"It has no honor code."
Exactly. "Neither do the streets. It's a war zone out there and I need to be better prepared to face them." Steve's not relenting and Kono steps toe-toe with him. "You have to think like a Commando. Exploit a weakness to create maximum damage as quickly as possible. The goal is survival. Because you never know when an attacker might pull a gun, or a knife," she recites practically verbatim of the martial art's doctrine.
"I can teach you to be more aggressive. How to rupture a person's eardrums with a single hit," he tells her, laying the palm of his hand under the tiny bones below her ear. "Or how to strike a person's chin to cause paralysis," he says, resting his hand near her jaw.
Closing her eyes, Kono can still see the muzzle flash, smell the powder burn in the air. Feel the second the bullet impacted her vest.
"What I can't teach you are instincts," Steve tells hers, taking both her shoulders and squeezing them. "Because you already have some of the best."
"But I screwed up," she whispers, yesterday's memory scorched into her mind.
"No. You didn't. Life threw you the world's cruelest sucker punch and you survived."
"If it wasn't for—"
"There are no ifs, Kono. Just what now?Are you going to get up and brush yourself off or lay on the ground waiting for the next blow?" Steve tilts her head up, pulls a strand of hair away from her face. "I think you already know that answer, don't you?"
Wiping away the moisture in her eyes, she nods. "Yeah."
Bending down, Steve kisses her forehead and Kono hugs him in return. "Thanks, boss."
"Don't thank me yet. Meet me here every Tuesday and Thursday. Five in the morning."
Groaning at the ungodly hour, Kono smiles. "With bells on."
Sirens whirr loudly outside, their constant noise and flashing red and blue lights giving Chin a monster headache. A sixth squad car squeals to a stop outside, another officer taping off the block in front of the jewelry store, yellow plastic flapping in the wind. Customers remain huddled in groups off to the side giving statements, some still bawling their eyes out.
Detective Ka'eo scribbles in his notepad, scratching at a mop of silver tinged hair. "So you arrived at the scene and saw suspicious activity through the window?"
"I saw a blur of movement that caught my eye. When I looked, I saw a guy in a ski mask shoving people toward the back of the room."
"Called it in and requested back-up."
"But you still entered the scene?"
"Only after I saw the suspect beating one of the customers."
Ka'eo looks like he'd rather be anywhere but here, counting the days to his retirement based on his sun wrinkled leather face and knobby fingers. "And once you did, you engaged the suspect."
"After the fifth blow to the victim's head. Yes, I did."
There's a commotion nearby and the rest of 5-0 has arrived, HPD officers parting like the Red Sea before being barreled over by the force that is his team. A stick-thin officer with freckles and orange curly hair rolls his eyes at the stampede.
Holding up his hands, Ka'eo lets out a long sigh when Steve comes over like he's storming a beach. "I'm almost done with my interview, gentlemen."
"You okay?" Steve asks Chin.
"I'm good. I had to take out a suspect during a robbery. One of the civilians was pistol whipped, but everything one else is fine."
"Jeesh. We send you out for lunch and you have to make an adventure out of it," Kono teases.
Danny snorts and Ka'eo seems puzzled before his lips curve slightly. "You were picking up take-out at Ba-Le's."
"Best sandwiches on the island," Chin answers with a chuckle.
Steve loses some of that bull in a china shop posturing, giving Chin a pat on the back. "Glad you're okay," and walks off to stand in the corner to look menacing.
This isn't 5-0's case and there's nothing else to really do, so Kono wanders over toward one of the rookies brushing the door for prints. Chin recognizes flirting when he sees it, the young beat cop obviously taking a shine to her interest. They look the same age, were probably in the academy together. Of course being a part of 5-0 is like belonging to a secret shadowy force. Full immunity and means gives them an edge, one that is both admired and looked down upon.
Ka'eo's radio squawks and he pulls it out in annoyance, walking toward a quieter part of the store to hold a conversation.
"Was any jewelry taken? " Danny asks, scanning some of the cases.
"I'm not sure. Looks like he busted open a few cases based on the amount of glass strewn on the floor," Chin says, walking toward a pile of shards.
The officer with curly orange hair walks past Danny, snorting, "Maybe you should check your partner's pockets."
"Excuse me?" Danny whirls around.
Chin wants to tell him to leave it alone, but you don't tell Danny what to do when he gets all riled up.
"Nuthin', forget it," the officer mumbles.
"No, see I have something called ears and a brain. The latter I think you're severely lacking. If I heard correctly, you just insinuated that my partner might be carrying stolen merchandise. Because clearly in the middle of risking his life to save someone from a vicious beating, he took the time to grab some bling."
"I said forget it."
"Forget it?" Danny echoes, cheeks flushing red, looking like he'd love to rip the guy's head off and toss it in the nearest trashcan. "Do you expect me to have some type of spontaneous amnesia or I don't know, give you a high-five for insulting one of my teammates?"
The officer rubs at the sweat dripping down his nose with his shirtsleeve. The whole place has gone silent, but Danny doesn't care and no one is safe when he's got his sights set.
"It was a dumb joke."
"Really? Let me ask you officer—"
"Officer Bailey. How many collars did you have last month?"
"Six? Wow that's great. My partner Chin Kelly had thirteen last month and ten the month before. Sounds like helluva a job, doesn't it?"
"Perhaps, just maybe, it's because he's a great detective?"
"Yes, it does."
"Guess that makes you feel like an asshole, doesn't it?"
Clearing his throat, Bailey grumbles an apology with all his fellow officers staring at him. Chin doesn't feel much satisfaction in the display, but he notices how Steve's borne silent witness, pride etched into his features. And Kono gives Chin a look of satisfaction before continuing with her flirting.
"Bailey," Ka'eo barks, ambling his way over. "Be useful and fetch us all some coffee. You take cream and sugar?" he asks Chin.
"Black is fine," Chin answers. "And a dozen malasadas for Detective Williams."
"Are you trying to clog my arteries?" Danny complains, already salivating.
Chin laughs. "Wouldn't think of it. Mahalo, brother."
"Don't mention it," Danny answers.
His day begins by oversleeping, the alarm set for 6PM and not 6AM. Then there'd been the meeting with the liaison to the governor's office regarding an insurmountable number of destruction of property insurance claims, thanks to a certain insane leader who thinks sidewalks count as a third lane of a highway. And for the cherry on top of his craptastic day, Danny wrenches his bad knee by tripping on an invisible crack in the parking lot.
His cell buzzes again and he glances at the third text message, this time from Kono.
Where you at? We're waiting.
Which begs the question of why he agreed to meet everyone at O'Shea's, a really horrible wannabe Irish pub, when all he wanted was to go home to an icepack and a couple of Advil? Hobbling toward the door, he checks his watch, giving himself exactly half an hour to have a drink and make a speedy exit. Preferably before Steve gets another hankering to play darts because really, how is it fair to compete against a guy who probably learned to throw knives blindfolded?
A blast of air conditioning hits him in the face as he enters and it takes a few seconds for his eyes to adjust to the darkness, "Wanted Dead or Alive" blasting from the speakers.
"Welcome, brah," Kamekona greets him, crushing Danny in a massive bear hug. "Happy Birthday."
When Danny is finally able to breathe, he stares at Kamekona in confusion. "But it's not my birthday."
"It's not? Then what are we celebrating?"
Danny doesn't have a clue, but he's suddenly surrounded by his teammates.
"Since when do we need an excuse for a party?" Steve says, shoving a frosty bottle in his face.
Grabbing the drink, he takes a swallow, his taste buds doing a double take at the familiar ale. "Is this a bottle of Flying Fish?" Staring down the label, Danny can't believe his eyes. "It is! But how?'
"It's called shopping online," Chin grins, clutching his own amber bottle and taking a sip. "Not bad."
"Not bad? You're talking about one of the best local pale ales in all the five boroughs."
"The pizza's pretty good, too," Kono says, munching on a slice, getting red sauce on her chin.
Seeing the red lettering of the boxes lined up on the bar, Danny rushes over slack-jawed. "Don't tell me this is from Grimaldi's?" Snagging a slice, he takes a massive bite, mmmming to himself. "This my friends, is how a real pie is made. Cheese first. White mozzarella, not yellow. Then crushed tomatoes and garlic-rimmed crust. Best pizza in Hoboken." He gobbles half a slice before his brain takes over, stopping mid-chew. "Last I checked, even if this was shipped overnight, I might have a good case of food poisoning coming my way."
"Relax," Steve laughs. "After some haggling over the phone I got all the ingredients shipped except the cheese and directions on how to make it. And Chef Elika over there baked it fresh."
At hearing his name, a little old man wiping a rag at the end of the bar gives a small wave.
Steve's slaps Danny on the back hard enough to damage a lung and points at the TV above the bar. "And if you look up, you'll see—"
"The Yankees- Red Sox match up! But it wasn't even on the channel guide, I know because it ticked me off."
"Special pay-per-view package," Steve says haughtily.
The familiar notes to Bruce Springsteen's "My Hometown" softly fill the room and Danny's chest tightens with the familiar pang of emptiness of sitting alone in a tiny apartment, staring out the window, feeling like the tiniest goldfish in the world's largest sea. Sipping his beer, watching his teammates laughing and smiling, he hopes those nights will be just a single page in the scrapbook of his life. O'Shea's doesn't smell like Jersey, but he thinks maybe the salty air and endless warm days could become a comfortable familiarity.
"You know what, partner?" Steve asks, nudging him in the side. "I think there's something missing from this picture."
"If you over-nighted a box of éclairs from Tart's, I might actually go fishing with you without complaining."
"Not éclairs, but something even sweeter," Steve teases.
Kono comes around the corner, holding Grace's hand, his daughter racing into Danny's waiting arms. "Monkey! I didn't think I'd see you until next week!"
"I know, it was a secret! Are you surprised?"
"Yes, honey, I'm very surprised." Hugging his daughter, the dark cloud that had stubbornly floated over him all day rolls away.
"Can I have a slice of pizza?" she asks, pulling out of the embrace and zeroing in on the food.
Running over she grabs a plate, eagerly pulling a piece free. Feeling the collective eyes of his friends, Danny turns around, for once struck
speechless. "Why? I mean," he waves a hand around. "All this is…it's..."
"We know you haven't been back to Jersey for a while so why not bring a little bit of to you?" Leaning on the bar, Chin gestures at the spread of food and drinks. "A little taste of home goes a long way to soothe the soul."
"Plus, you've been a major pain in the ass with your mood swings of late," Steve deadpans.
"Don't let McGarrett fool you. This was his idea," Chin says, earning him a glare from Steve.
Of course this is his partner's idea; it has all the markings of a secret operation. "Are you going through some type of James Bond withdrawal?" Danny jokes.
Watching Kono talking to his daughter, the both of them whispering secrets to each other, Danny can't hide his smile. "Thank you. Really. It means a lot."
Raising his bottle in toast, Steve says, "To family and friends."
"Kealoha," Danny salutes with his drink, surprising both Steve and Chin with knowing the island phrase.
"Kealoha," his friends repeat, their glasses clanking together.
May we create a home that surrounds our family and friends with warmth, laughter and love.
Watching college basketball gets kind of stale and Steve thinks maybe there's some type of marathon on the Military Channel that might be more entertaining. Reaching for the remote, he accidentally bumps it off the sofa instead, the clicker scattering a good meter across the floor.
Eying the remote he drags his gaze toward the pillow propping up his bandaged right ankle and calculates the effort necessary to pick it up. Pushing up onto his elbows, he musters the deepest breath his ribs will allow and pushes himself into a full sitting position. The room does a one-eighty as he inches his right leg toward the floor.
"What the hell do you think you're doing? You lay your ass back down or I'm handcuffing you to the couch," Danny growls, blowing in like the wind. "I swear, I leave you alone for like twenty minutes and you're trying to put yourself in traction."
Chin and Kono follow Danny inside, both disappearing into other rooms like they're on a mission, although Kono might be snickering behind her hand.
Hurricane Williams snags the remote and holds it out of reach. "Should I tie a string to it?"
"No, but you could give it back," Steve grouses, tying to focus on the three images of Danny spinning in a circle.
"Behave and I will," Danny sighs, stuffing it between the cushions. "There." When Steve doesn't make a move to channel surf, Danny stands there, examining Steve like a crime scene. "What? You were willing to risk life and limb for it, but now you just want to sulk?"
"I'm waiting for the room to stop spinning."
"Oh, never mind then." And like a stick-shift, he changes gears, his voice softening. "Do you need your pain pills? Though you shouldn't take them on an empty stomach. I'll ask Kono to-"
"Danny. Please," Steve groans, the constant talking adding an auditory component to his dizziness.
The television goes silent, floorboards squeaking with movement, the lights dimming in the room. Danny doesn't have to make things quiet, it's an attack of vertigo, but this is the same guy who charts the times he takes his medication and who buzzes around like a nervous bumble bee. Steve waits for the dizzy spell to ease, his stomach growling loudly at the aroma of something tasty drifting out from the kitchen.
He knows Danny's sitting in the loveseat across the room based on the sound of his breathing and Steve opens his eyes, relieved that everything is finally still. "What smells so good?"
"Kono is making chicken pot pie from scratch. We went to the local market and stocked your empty cupboards. And before you ask, everything she bought was organic and seriously, what's with that? Of course everything's organic, it's not like we harvest artificial vegetables."
Steve's not in the mood to argue right now, simply making agreeing noises. "You guys didn't have to shop for me."
"Right. Because walking around a on a busted ankle is a good idea."
"It's a severe sprain."
"Yes, which requires crutches to hobble around on, but wait a minute, you have two broken ribs, and are prone to passing out thanks to the knock to your skull."
It's going to be a long three weeks until he can actually walk around easily and Steve's not sure he won't murder his partner before then. "I don't pass out. But, I could wear one of those life alerts if that makes you feel better, mom."
"Do you think this is funny?"
"No, but there's nothing to feel guilty about, Danny."
"You pushed me out of the way of a car going forty miles an hour. I heard your bones go crunch and watched your body bounce off the hood."
"You would have done the same for me," Steve tells him.
"Depending on the day of the week, probably. But if I want to make sure you don't break anything else, please don't treat it as some Art of War strategy session that you have to outmaneuver."
Butting heads with Danny is only fun when it amuses Steve and this isn't one of those times. "Fair enough. But now I have to hit the head. You can help me up, but I draw the line at—"
"I'm perfectly fine at standing on the other side of that line."
Steve's body feels like one giant bruise. Danny helps Steve to his feet, hands him the cane he used when his knee was injured. Standing fully upright is out of the question and he's forced to hobble like an old man, making it the six steps to the bathroom. Leaning on the wall for support, he yells at Danny to go sit down so he can finish taking a piss. Sticking his cane on top of the counter, he washes his hands, and splashes water on his face.
It's Chin waiting for him outside the door just in case he's a bit wobbly walking back. Ribs aching, he limps toward the inviting sofa, gingerly lowering himself into the cushions.
"I brought down some of your clothes," Chin tells him, pointing to a stack on the near-by desk. "And out of curiosity, how many cargo pants do you own, bro?"
"I don't keep count. And you didn't need to do that."
"Really? Want to take bets on how many times you can scale up and down those stairs?" Chin challenges.
Steve hadn't really thought of that and he allows Chin to keep smiling smugly at him.
"Here's dinner. Bon appetite," Kono tells Steve, tossing him a napkin.
Staring down at the flaky crust, Steve can't remember the last time someone cooked for him. "It smells wonderful. But seriously guys," he sighs, looking up. "There's no need to-"
"Make sure my lunatic partner doesn't break his other ankle in some daredevil stunt in his own home?"
"Have your back?" Chin adds, daring him to argue.
"Look after a friend like he would for us?" Kono asks.
The McGarrett home hasn't seen this many people inside it in a long time. More than that, Steve hasn't been surrounded by a greater set of friends. Settling his head against the pillow, a homemade meal nestled on his lap, he lets out a contented sigh. "You might have a point."
Snapping his fingers, Danny snarks, "Quick, mark this date down in the calendar. Lt Commander Steven Super Seal McGarrett just agreed I was right."
Steve wants to make a joke about head trauma, but instead he fills his mouth with nuclear hot chicken and peas with a smile on his face.