Challenge from my Editor: Write a Hawaii Five-O story based on the fact that Navy SEALS never leave a man behind. And thank you to her (Samantha Winchester) for being my beta.

Summary: Steve's been out of jail barely a month when the new Governor of Hawaii reassembles Five-O for a mission worthy of a SEAL team. Spoilers for a handful of episodes including the Season 1 finale.


MAN DOWN


"You haven't been to Kauai before, have you?" Steve asked, genuine curiosity burning in his eyes. Danny shook his head no as Steve marked a line of black at what Danny felt was a random spot on his face with a camo stick.

"I still can't believe you managed to convince me to go with face paint," Danny mumbled, trying to keep his face as still as possible. Steve grinned, completely at odds with his deadly-looking exterior. "It's ridiculous how in-your-element you are."

"You like the streets, I like..." Steve made another line that crossed the cleft of Danny's chin, "this." Steve leaned back, cocking his head from side to side as he studied Danny's face.

"Great, the Rambo Picasso."

Kono laughed out loud next to him. "You look great, Other Boss," she said, nudging him with her elbow. "But I still think Chin looks the best."

Danny and Steve quirked eyebrows across the way where Chin sat looking like he'd rather be sitting on a beach in one of his colorful, loose shirts than the camo green pants, shirt, jacket, TAC vest and black boots he was currently sporting.

They were all dressed the same, the chop-chop of the helicopter blades nearly drowning out their conversation. Chin grimaced and Danny chuckled. "Hey," he said, sparing his friend a rueful look, "I've never played G.I. Joe dress-up before, either."

"It's a good look on you," Steve said, and Danny rolled his eyes.

"All right, team," Steve said, stowing the camo stick in one of his many pants pockets and turning to the twelve by seven map on the floor of the chopper. Chin, Kono and Danny crouched or knelt at three sides with Steve at the fourth. "We'll be landing here at Port Allen," he explained, though they'd gone over the plan five times already in the last ten hours.

"We'll go five point three miles along Kaumualii Highway until we reach the second cane field here, to the north," Steve continued, jabbing his finger at a rectangular area. "From there we just have to get through about two miles of fields before we'll hit the rougher terrain, and I'm expecting Senna will have a couple men on the south side of the jungle but we can take 'em easy."

"Sure, that's what you always say," Danny remarked, carefully keeping the sarcasm out of it.

"We're coming up through this small canyon here," Chin continued, "parallel with Power Line Road, then cutting northeast 'til we're about half a mile from Alexander Reservoir."

"That's where intel says he has to be holding the twins," Kono nodded, eyes glued to the brownish irregular circle on the map.

"I've got the papooses," Danny said, patting the backpack at his feet.

Chin looked across at Danny and smiled. "I can tell you're a father."

"Well, you can't carry two infants through the jungle in the midst of what is sure to be a spectacularly bad firefight without anything to carry them in!"

Kono clapped a hand to his shoulder and Danny wondered for a moment when exactly it was she'd become 'one of the guys' but thanking the Fates nonetheless that she had. Sexy and deadly beautiful or not, she was probably more capable than half of Steve's old SEAL buddies.

Five more minutes of going over the plan in minute detail and then Steve rolled up the map and stuck it in the netting at the base of the bench to his right. He hauled himself up onto it next to Chin, while Danny and Kono took up residence in the other bench. The co-pilot leaned back through the cockpit entry.

"ETA eight minutes!" he bellowed over the chopper's whap-a-whap-a-whap.

Steve gave him the thumbs-up and then sat stoically upright and closed his eyes. Danny watched him intently, knowing he was seeing the transformation of Steve. Sometimes childish, sometimes scary and always so Steve...the man who'd made it into the SEALs on his first try through BUD/s. The man who'd led, participated in and was so many classified things that Danny was never going to be allowed to know.

He watched the laugh lines disappear, the minutia of civilian life all but ghosts now as the face became placid, hard as steel, determined. Jaw squaring, lips tightening into a thin line. Danny's eyes moved to Chin, who was leaning back against the bulkhead staring at his cousin. Looked at Kono next to him, her face set like it always had been when their team of four was headed into the fray. Danny wasn't quite sure what his own face said, but he hoped it wasn't showing too much of the rational concern roiling around in his gut right now.


Four days earlier...

The call came from the new governor not one month after Steve had been released from prison and the IA investigation into Kono's and Steve's activities surrounding the ten million dollars had been laid to rest. None of them knew at that point whether they would ever work together again until Governor Wood's aide had called the four of them individually and asked them to meet at the old Five-O bullpen.

Kono and Chin arrived together. Steve's truck pulled in just behind Danny's Camaro, and they shot each other an I don't know either look as they hustled up the steps of the palace. Then they were in, Chin running the first two fingers of his right hand almost lovingly over the IT table that had stood unused for longer than it ever should have. The four of them exchanged looks of confusion, of barely-concealed hope, and of something else Danny couldn't quite name.

The tap of multiple pairs of shoes grew nearer, audible through the closed doors because nothing was powered up. The electric hum that had always been a soothing background noise was gone, leaving only the echo of times they had all spent there together in pain, in joy and in the surety that they were on the side of right.

The doors opened, one aide on either side of Wood. The men entered. Four pairs of eyes looked at Wood expectantly from where they leaned against their table.

"Gentlemen," he said, "and lady. Thank you for coming."

Danny could tell Steve wanted to say something, but admired the guy for biting his lip to keep from doing so.

Wood began to pace the length of the bullpen and slowly outlined for them why they were all there. The twin sons of Iowa Governor Dan Fraye and his wife, Libby, had been kidnapped from Kapi'olani Medical Center in Honolulu. The Frayes had come to Hawaii in spite of Libby's delicate condition, being seven-and-a-half months pregnant with the twins, for her mother's funeral. She'd gone into premature labor, but in spite of that the boys had been born healthy at around five pounds each, and were scheduled to be released the day after they were taken.

By some coincidence that made Kono and Chin share an amused look and forced Steve and Danny to scowl at each other for a good, long minute, the Frayes had named their sons according to their staunchly Methodist beliefs with Bible names, those being Daniel and Stephen. It obviously hadn't escaped Wood's notice either if the quick looks he gave the former partners as he said it was any indication.

The FBI had been working the case but had only gotten so far as to give a profile of the kidnapper, who hadn't yet made any contact after six whole days. And so now, Wood was doing the only thing he could think of, calling upon the only resource he believed would be able to succeed where the FBI had failed. He was reinstating Five-O, he said, and only temporarily, in order for them to find and save the twins, and return them to their frantic parents.

This would not happen on his soil, he made quite clear, and he was fully versed on the fact that this particular team, while very rarely sticking strictly to police procedure...and that had made Danny, of course, shoot his partner a look which Steve narrowed his eyes at...had a phenomenal success rate solving difficult cases and pulling off the impossible. This track record was not something Wood was willing to ignore in a situation this desperately serious.

And so they were back, and there was even more riding on this than the lives of two innocent newborns, as if that weren't impetus enough for the team to agree. Governor Wood made it crystal clear, in writing no less, that if Five-O were successful in bringing Daniel and Stephen back alive and unharmed to the Frayes, Five-O would become a permanent fixture, there for them as long as they were willing to carry its torch.

Fire burned in Steve's eyes. Hope shone from Kono's glistening ones. Chin's gleamed with pleasure and Danny didn't know what his own eyes said, exactly. But he was pretty sure it was nothing less than a combination of love for having his family back together, determination to succeed, hatred for the scumbag who'd taken the babies and the sudden urge to wrap himself in protective shell of titanium because Steve had just been given a free pass all over again.