We All Bleed Red
By: Ridley James
A/N: Just a short Tag to last Sunday's repeat Episode 1.09 "Po'IPU", so slight spoilers. This might have been done many times over since it is an older episode, but I always wonder what could have happened after the screen goes black, and I was curious to see how those beers Steve did not pay for turned out. Someone also asked for a little peek at the boys' first trip to The Hairy Dolphin and last but not least I love this song, and have been looking for an opportunity to use the title. I'm totally convinced that someone talented in the area of fan videos could take this song and shots from the season finale and create a beautiful work, so consider that a challenge. ;-) Also, all mistakes are mine because my lovely beta has been frolicking in Ireland. Reviews are so appreciated.
If we're fighting; we're both losing.
We're just wasting our time
Because my scars,
They are your scars and your world is mine
You and I, we all bleed red
We all taste rain, all fall down, lose our way
We all say words, we regret,
We all cry tears, we all bleed red
Sometimes we're strong, sometimes we're weak,
Sometimes we're hurt and it cuts deep
We live this life, breath to breath,
We're all the same, we all bleed red.
–Ronnie Dunn via Tommy Lee James
Danny should have called it quits after the second round of beers, showed some sense like Chin and high-tailed it out of there after the plates from their spur of the moment steak dinner were cleared. Steve was the silent hold out, Danny was his ride and as much as the detective hated to admit it, he just didn't have it in him to shut Steve down considering the events of the last twenty four hours. Super SEAL or not, putting three slugs in someone you fought side by side with, a man you trusted even if said man was trying to murder you at the time was bound to mess with even the toughest and well-conditioned of psyches. He didn't know what to say or do to begin to make it alright but he could hang out at the Hilton and drink beer until the sun came up if that helped. Danny found himself in a precarious position, a tip-toeing around that he had not encountered with his new partner thus far and it only added to the unease that had seemed to surround them the entire evening.
It had been Steve's idea to turn the proposed drinks he'd suggested after the General's send off into a team-building opportunity. Kono begged off, perhaps women's intuition giving her a leg up on the storm that was brewing, but Chin had shown up along with Kamekona as his impromptu date. The Hilton had great food served in large portions, a lively upbeat atmosphere and expensive beer, all the usual makings that tended to keep a gathering fun, and fairly tame. Danny comforted himself with the fact that it was hard to get slobbering drunk when your belly was stuffed and you were carefully monitoring the tab.
"We should get out of here and go somewhere else."
Steve's suggestion caught Danny by surprise. He put the beer he'd been nursing down, quick to render his earlier mistake of not herding his partner out when Chin wisely evacuated ahead of the impending hurricane, leaving Kamekona to keep up his end of the titillating conversation. "To your place it is. We can drop the big guy on our way."
"I didn't mean home." Steve glanced at his watch, flashing Danny what could only be described as a pouting look. The petulant glower sent another uneasy wake rocking along Danny's highly attuned instincts. "It's early."
"And I know a place, Brah. It's not too far from here." Kamekona broke in with a broad smile, completely unaware that he was doing nothing to aid in Danny's efforts to get Steve home with all mental faculties and defense mechanisms tightly in place. Danny swore to find a way to pay Chin back for tossing him the equivalent of an anchor instead of a life saving ring in his scramble for higher ground.
"I bet you do, Shave Ice." Danny took out his wallet, tossing a roll of ones on the table to cover their tip. Maybe he could still turn the ship around, avoid the massive iceberg lurking beneath the deceptively calm waters they were navigating. "I'm not really in the mood for a trip to the all you can eat midnight buffet at Chicken Wing World."
"Why you got to be like that, Haole?" Kamekona shook his head. "I'm talking about my sister's bar. Booze is cheap, company is discreet. It's a perfect place to let off a little steam, if you know what I mean. First round is on me."
"Sounds great," Steve answered for them before Danny could get a 'Hell no' past his lips. He stood, clasping Danny on the shoulder. "Nothing like a little local color, Danno. It might give you a new appreciation for the islands, a new Manny's or Sal's to call your own."
The only thing the run down, grungy bar gave Danny was a new appreciation for the poor, doomed bastards forced to stay behind on the Titanic. Things were quickly spiraling out of his control and he could practically feel the icy water closing in around them as he climbed out of the driver's seat and allowed Kamekona to squeeze out of the back. "The Hairy Dolphin? What the hell kind of name is that?"
"A clever one," Kamekona vowed with a knowing nod in Steve's direction. He pointed to the large painted billboard above the dilapidated shack as he made his way around the front of the Camaro. It contained an impressive dolphin leaping out of a breaking wave, a couple of smaller smiling dolphins trailing in its wake. "See the Keikis following their Makuahine. My sister, Mo is the poetic genius in the family."
Danny frowned; unsure he'd heard the big Hawaiian right over the thump of base coming from inside and the crashing of surf somewhere in the darkness beyond them. He doubled checked he'd locked his vehicle. "Come again."
"Baby dolphins are born with mustaches," Steve explained, giving Danny a slightly goofy, glassy-eyed grin that reaffirmed the fact Danny should not have let him kill the rest of his beer before they left the Hilton. "Don't look so doubtful, partner. It's not like a Full Manchu or anything, but a row of hairs around their snouts that help them locate and recognize their mothers when they want to nurse."
"Nothing like a taste of mama's milk when you're thirsty." Kamekona slapped Danny on the back, nearly bowling him over. "My sister is clever I told you."
Danny groaned, resigned to his fate as Kamekona moved to the door and Steve followed at a clip. He wasn't convinced the big guy's sister was brilliant at her metaphors, but she did seem to know how to pull in the clientele. Just as the over-crowded sandy parking lot promised, The Hairy Dolphin was a booming place, packed to the brim with locals surrounding high top tables, standing shoulder to shoulder at the bar and undulating on the make-shift dance floor near the far end of the room which was sandwiched between a pool table and ancient Pac-Man game.
Danny was glad for once that he'd left his tie in the car as all eyes seemed to zero in and lock on them as they made their way to the bar with Kamekona nodding and waving to several people Danny was quite sure he might have recognized from line-ups or past arrests when he was HPD.
"You sure we're welcome here?" Danny kept his eyes on the door as he wedged himself between Kamekona and Steve, who bellied up to the bar and was already waving the bartender over like a VIP patron. Danny didn't get the impression this was the kind of place two cops should kick back and lower their guard, and he felt hyper vigilant as his usually alert partner seemed to have mellowed past the point of no return.
"You're with Ohana," Kamekona assured the Five-O detective. "No one here cares if you're a cop."
Danny frowned at the big Hawaiian as several large men next to them swiveled to look their way. He had learned very quickly that the only thing the locals trusted less than a haole from the mainland, was a haole cop from the mainland. "Still, I'd rather you not broadcast our chosen professions over the loudspeaker if you don't mind."
"Why you bringing Five-O into my place?"
Danny swung his gaze to the woman who had materialized from the crowd to lean over Kamekona's shoulder. She was not quite as tall as the shave ice guru but her dark hair spiraled to a point on top of her head giving her a few added inches and the illusion of being larger. With her imposing stature and considerable girth, Danny had no doubt she was the sister in question.
"McGarrett, Haole, this is my makuahine, Mo." Kamekona seemed nonplussed by the less than enthusiastic greeting.
"Kamekona said his sister was pretty." Steve didn't miss a beat. He claimed his shot from the bar tender, lifting it towards the woman in question with a wink before downing it. "He was holding out on us."
"Cop or not, I hope you don't expect to take advantage of my brother's position. The drinks will not be on the house, no running tabs." She banged her fist on the bar to get her employee's attention, obviously impervious to Steve's batting of eyelashes and blinding smile. Danny found himself wanting to give her a chance if only for the fact she didn't crumble mindlessly beneath the weight of Steve's attempts to be charming. "Cash up front for Five-O and his haole partner."
Danny sighed as those in their immediate vicinity stopped talking to take closer notice of the newcomers. Five-O already had quite the reputation on the island no thanks to Steve's penchant for armed conflict. "Thanks for your generosity, Mo but we won't be here long enough to start a tab."
"Kamekona's buying the first round." Steve slapped the big Hawaiian on the shoulder. "Danno's designated, so I'll take his too. Another whisky, make it a double."
Danny watched Kamekona toss some cash on the bar, before being led away none too gently by his sister. He sidled closer to Steve, leaning his head in so his friend could hear him. "Maybe you should notch it back to beer, partner, considering I didn't bring my gun and I might need those awesome ninja skills of yours to stay sharp just in case we have to fight our way out of here tonight."
"No worries, Danno. I can take a man down with my pinky, shit faced or not." Steve was trying to be cute, but something in his demeanor shifted and Danny barely caught his partner's next words over the music. "I killed one of my best friends last night; a stranger doesn't stand a chance with me."
The dark cloud rolled through quickly, Steve's smile returning as he turned to get the drink that had just been placed in front of him, but Danny couldn't shake the heaviness that it left behind. Foreboding hung over them, thick and uncomfortable like the Hawaiian air just before a torrential downpour. It made him more determined to dump Kamekona and head back to Steve's place for shelter before the sky opened up.
"Why don't we just get the hell out of here?" Danny knew baling water out of sinking boat didn't do a damn bit of good if you didn't plug the holes, and Mo's was not exactly the kind of place to do any real patchwork.
"We just got here." Steve coughed, the second shot of whiskey not going down as smoothly as the first. He brought the back of his hand to his mouth, wincing slightly when he raised his injured arm. "We haven't even checked out the women, or more importantly the Pac-Man game."
Danny gave the crowd another perusal, noting most of the female clientele looked as merciless and cutthroat as Steve claimed to be. His partner had not proven himself to be the type to take advantage of his gift to attract the fairer sex at any bar they frequented and even Danny wasn't so adventurous or desperate to cast his line in the current pool. Besides he had bigger fish on his mind. He turned to his friend. "One game of Pac-Man, Tough Guy and then we're gone."
"Only if I lose." Steve motioned for another drink, taking the whole bottle from the nice lady when she tried to refill his glass. "I'm not going to lose."
"Says the guy who is heavily under the influence, has a bum arm, and is probably suffering from a concussion." Despite the worry knotting his gut, Danny couldn't help but to be slightly amused. Steve was definitely different when he was drunk and under other circumstances the detective might have relished the chance to explore this unchartered side of his partner. As it was, he would only take slight advantage by destroying him in Pac-Man.
"The medics said nothing about a concussion." Steve waved a hand at the nasty gash on his forehead, hugging the bottle close to him as he led the way through the crowd towards the video game.
Danny caught the jist of what his partner was denying even over the annoying lyrics he recognized as a Lady Gaga song. He kept Steve's back in sight, sidestepping two gyrating half-naked women. "That's because you barely sat through them taking care of your arm, and refused the hospital run they suggested."
"Huh?" Steve cupped his free hand around his ear, giving Danny a 'I didn't hear a word you just said' look that was clearly fake. Danny decided even drunk, Steve retained some of his more irritating qualities like his stubborn, pigheaded, know it all-ness.
"Never mind." Danny stepped around him when they reached the vacant machine, taking out a handful of quarters from his pocket. He had no illusions his friend had any intention of paying for their amusement, considering Danny had sprung for their entire evening thus far. "Just stay out of my way so I can get this over with as quickly as possible."
Steve leaned against the game, bringing the whiskey to his lips for a long drink straight out of the bottle. "Please tell me you don't use that line on all your dates, Danno."
Danny dropped a quarter in the slot, sending a scowl in his partner's direction before taking the controls. "Prepare to be amazed."
Nearly two hours, and Steve's entire bottle of whiskey later, Danny was still trying to win his way out of The Hairy Dolphin. Steve was the only one impressing anybody, proving his point about being able to out perform most lowly humans even with an astronomical blood alcohol level by beating Danny three endless showdowns in a row.
"Five-O has better moves than you, Blue Eyes."
Danny felt like banging his head on the machine as the piteous sound of his last man dying echoed around him. Mo's unsolicited commentary was not helping matters. The woman had warmed to them, at least to Steve who had seemingly won her over with his impressive thumb and wrist action as well as outlandish and prolific flattery. "Isn't it about time for the proprietress of this building to give the last call for alcohol?"
Mo snorted. "Look around, haole. Does a soup kitchen close its doors when throngs of homeless, starving people are milling around inside?"
"Seriously?" Danny looked at her, slightly concerned that her hand was resting on Steve's arm. "You're comparing your services to that of a humanitarian effort? It's almost as disturbing as using a baby dolphin's maternal instincts as a catch phrase for your modern day speak easy."
"People hunger for different things." Mo glanced at Steve, a flash of her disturbing scorpion tattoo peeking out from folds of skin as she swiveled her neck to check out his ass. "We all have animalistic needs."
"You can say that again." Danny suddenly understood the desperation trapped animals felt when they chewed off their own appendages to free themselves. He gave Steve a pointed look, which was returned with a wink. "We need to get out of here, Steven."
"But I'm still winning." Steve pointed to the screen, sounding entirely too much like Grace. The look he shot Danny was also reminiscent of the detective's eight year old daughter. "I'm top scorer."
"I'm sure you are, Five-O," Mo licked her lips.
"I'm out of quarters," Danny patted his pockets with a look of feigned disappointment. He was amazed the other man was not falling down after the amount of whiskey he had drunk. Danny secretly hoped his friend's tolerance for alcohol wouldn't be superhuman. "Sorry, partner. Time to leave."
"I have one you can borrow, Five-O." Mo stuck her hand down the front of her Mumu, withdrawing a small embroidered change purse dangling from a silver chain. "You can pay me back later."
Danny was afraid to imagine the ways in which Mo might take repayment from his incapacitated partner. Although the prospect of endless black mail material was tempting, he would not be a good partner or wingman if he didn't protect Steve from himself, and his potential for momentary lack of hot hook-up versus horrific next morning reality check radar.
"Don't take that." Danny slapped the SEAL's hand away when he reached for the coins with a sly grin. "You have no idea where it's been."
"I'll be glad to show him."Mo stepped closer and Danny had to back up to make room for the bar owner. In doing so he bumped into one of the many people hanging off the edge of the dance floor. What ensued next played out like any bad bar scene from a wide range of genre movies.
Danny groaned at his luck, having stumbled into the biggest, bad in the place. The man's barrel chest was now dripping with remnants of his spilled beer, a look of fury making interesting shapes out of the long pink scar traversing the side of his face.
"Sorry." Danny raised a hand in apology, perfectly content to let the guy who outweighed him by at least fifty pounds of pure muscle and was toasted out of his mind get away with the string of foul-mouthed insults directed his way. Steve however was not so inclined to be forgiving when the man made the ill-timed decision to return Danny's shove.
Just as his thumb dexterity had been preserved if not actually improved by his inebriated state, Steve's reflexes were just as lighting fast. He seemed to move in a blur, insinuating himself between Danny and the potential threat. "Back off."
"Or what, pig?" Mr. Bad mocked.
"Not good," Danny muttered to himself as the giant of a man actually had the poor sense to poke a finger toward Steve's chest. In a very familiar move, Steve grabbed the man's hand before Danny could utter a protest to the guard dog routine, proceeding to spin the guy around, shoving his elbow up in such a manner that elicited a sickening pop. The goon bent over at the waist his guttural scream echoing over the pounding music.
"Hey!" Danny caught movement out of the corner of his eye, pointing his finger at the moaning man's dance partner. She had flipped her beer bottle, brandishing it like a baton with every intention of going after Steve. "Don't think I won't take a lady out if you make one more move."
"Let him go, Five-O." Mo grumbled. "Before he makes a mess on my dance floor."
"Not until he apologizes," Steve snarled, applying more pressure to his hold so that his prisoner dropped to his knees with another howl and round of swearing.
"For the love of…Let the big bad man go, Steven before we have to wage combat through a swarm of all his friends." Danny waved his hand in front of his partner making sure he had his attention before lowering his voice. "I for one do not feel like ending this night by running a bunch of hopped up hooligans down town and explaining to HPD why Five-O decided a midnight raid of The Hairy Dolphin was a good idea. Do you?"
"Did you just threaten to raid my place?" Mo, who apparently had the ears of a bat, was now the irate one. She raised a fist at Danny, giving it a hard shake. "Nice ass or not, no one threatens my business."
"Maybe you two should take your drinks outside, Bruddah. Get some fresh air." Kamekona magically appeared, brandishing two frosty beers which he waggled in Steve's direction. "Did I mention The Hairy Dolphin has beautiful balcony seating overlooking the ocean?"
"I use it to toss unruly customers and scrawny fish back into the sea," Mo growled. "Maybe you and Five-O would like a midnight swim."
"I hate the water, but a change of scenery might be nice." Danny reached out and took the beers from Kamekona, using his free hand to pry Steve's fingers away from the man's distorted wrist. "Some company would be appreciated."
Steve pulled away from Danny once they were outside, stumbling slightly as he made his way to the table at the far side of the deck. The area was spacious, and completely void of customers with wooden tables and chairs occupying the space that was lit by colorful Tiki torches. Danny took his time joining his partner gauging if it was safe to enter the eye of the storm. He took a deep breath of the sea air, stealing himself to make the plunge.
"What the hell was that?" Danny put the drinks on the table, eyeing the black ocean below them. He could just make out the white crests of the waves as they pummeled the beach. "Is this what I have to look forward to every time we're led into a trap by people we trust and are nearly killed in an ambush? You going to get wasted, hook up with really scary women, and pound on civilians? I seriously want to know considering with your track record, I'm quite certain this kind of thing might happen again and I'd like to have a contingency plan in place."
"This won't happen again." Steve's gaze was as dark and tumultuous as the crashing ocean when he turned to face Danny. "I won't make the same mistake."
"What mistake was that?" Danny took one of the beers for himself, keeping both bottles on his side of the table hoping Steve was done for the night. "Because I thought we decided at the air base that you had no way of knowing what Taylor was up to."
"Taylor was under my command."
"In the 'Stan', yeah, but believe it or not his is Hawaii and you had nothing to do with what Taylor did or did not do."
"I trained him."
"I'm guessing you've trained a lot of men." Danny took a drink of his beer, eyeing his friend. Whether it was the rush of adrenaline from the confrontation, freaky metabolism or the muggy night air, Steve appeared almost sober now. "Even the best of teachers are bound to turn out a few bad apples."
"It wasn't like I taught him reading and writing, Danny." Steve pinched the bridge of his nose with a pained grimace. "I gave him all the skills he needed to plan and carry out the assassination plot."
"An assassination plot that you thwarted." Danny put his elbows on the table leaning closer to his partner. Steve looked bad, wrecked in a way he hadn't witnessed. It was unnerving on several levels. "How's the head by the way?"
"Not before I put my entire team and the target in immediate danger." Steve ignored Danny's question, but the way he squinted and furrowed his brow gave the detective his answer. "The sonofabitch would have carried out his threat, killed everyone."
"But he didn't." Danny put his drink down, resolute in his duty to try and erase the 'I have failed to save the day' look. "You stopped him, kicked his ass. Not only did you save your team, and the general, you, Super SEAL saved an entire country."
"I didn't want to kill him even after everything he did." Steve swallowed hard, his eyes taking on a tortured quality that had Danny wishing not for the first time he'd made it outside in time to take the bastard Taylor out himself. "I really thought he was my friend."
"So we've covered, and although I admit it was extremely hard to wrap my mind around the fact that someone actually liked you before I came along, I have grudgingly accepted the fact that Bullfrog and Smooth Dog undoubtedly had a great bromance, filled with special little code words, secret handshakes and the occasional manly hug. Blah, blah, blah." Danny waved a hand in the air. "He used it to his advantage. This was not your fault. End of story."
"I know you don't completely understand this, but it was more than him being my friend, he was a SEAL, Danny-a SEAL. That's always meant something to me, damn it. It's always been black and white, sacred-untouchable. He spit on everything I've believed in, the only thing I've been able to truly count on."
"Whether we like it or not, and I'm not so sure it's the good news I touted it as this morning, SEALs are people, too, Steven." Danny admitted it was daunting, and sometimes downright embarrassing to have to compete with a guy who was much more superhero than Average Joe. He had never felt like a sidekick before being ordered to be Steve's partner. Little boys didn't exactly grow up wanting to be Robin, Boy Wonder. They all wanted to be Bat Man. But along with the revelation that Steve was indeed human and that they were more balanced on the playing field than it often appeared came the knowledge that like Danny, Steve had his weaknesses, and those weaknesses, like most superhero's downfalls although hard to detect, were debilitating and often fatal. Danny found himself preferring Steve remain immortal.
"SEALS have an honor code," Steve hissed, unwilling or unable to come to terms with what Danny was so desperately trying to get across.
"So do cops." Danny ran his hands along the sides of his hair. The water was up to his neck now and he felt sink or swim time was upon them. He sure as hell didn't want to let either one of them drown. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "But what I came to realize a long time ago was that even the best cops aren't perfect. They're flesh and blood, they all bleed red. We swear the same oath, walk the same beats and carry the same badge, but police officers do what they do for very, very different reasons. Sometimes they're honorable and sometimes they're not."
Steve looked away, his eyes going back to where the ocean was shrouded in night and Danny nearly panicked feeling his grasp on his friend falter. It was similar to coming out of McGarrett's home last night, making out a body bobbing in the water, another figure standing safely on shore. Danny hadn't been able to tell who was who. "I thought Taylor was one of the good guys."
"Because he was your friend; and regular old human being or not you, McGarrett happen to be one hell of a Litmus test for every other SEAL on the Navy continuum." Danny tapped the table, waited until Steve turned to look at him once more; made certain he had him on the life line. "Just so we're straight on this, the SEALs are not the only thing you can count on. You're a cop now, whether you act like it or not, and I'm your partner. That's sacred- that's untouchable."
Steve stayed silent for a long moment, his eyes never leaving Danny's. Danny stayed still, very aware that even a flinch or blink could cost him his precarious hold; cost him the other man's trust. Finally, Steve's mouth twitched, the strong tide starting to recede. "Did you really think my life began when I met you?"
"I wouldn't go so far as to say began," Danny smirked, happy for the return of some normalcy, to feel the storm lighten and show signs of passing. "Just finally took on some meaning."
"Of course." Steve rolled his eyes. "Believe it or not, I had friends before you, Danno. Friends, besides Nick Taylor."
"Please don't take offense, but after Taylor and his tactical team I'm in no big hurry to meet anymore of your SEAL buddies, Steven. You are the only one from that 'community' that I care to get to know, or give a damn about." Danny crossed his arms, leaning back in his chair. "I mean this as a compliment when I say you're an exception, an anomaly, a freak even by Navy standards."
"Thanks, I think." Steve reached up and touched the gash above his eye with a wince.
Danny arched a brow. "Are you ready to admit your head's hurting despite the copious amounts of liquid painkiller you have consumed?"
Steve sighed, his shoulders slumping in defeat. "My head's hurting."
"Thank God." Danny jumped up from his seat, tossing his beer and the full one in a large metal trashcan beside their table. "You think you feel bad now, just wait until tomorrow when the beers and whiskey get their revenge."
"Is this you being the best friend I've been deprived all my life?" Steve slowly made his way away from the table, coming along Danny's side. "Because I'm not convinced it was worth the wait."
"No, that was when I bought your dinner, allowed you to run up my tab at the Hilton with over-priced alcohol then followed Kamekona into the bowels of Hell, where I let you beat me at Pac-Man and kept Satan's bride from taking advantage of your delicate nature."Danny opened the door, holding it for Steve to go inside. "I most definitely was worth the wait."
"You did not let me win." Steve said loudly to be heard over the music that was now once again blaring around them. "But I will admit my instincts when it comes to picking friends are improving."
"Friend." Danny held up one finger, using it to nudge Steve into the crowd of people so they could track Kamekona down, say their goodbyes and get the hell out of The Hairy Dolphin. He raised his voice, making sure his partner could hear him. "Singular, Steven. I'm your only friend."
"What about Chin and Kono?" Steve countered, shoving his way into the throngs of people. "Have you forgotten them?"
"Do you see the Wonder Twins here?" Danny raised his hands, making a point of sweeping the crowd. "Kono wasn't even swayed with prospects of a free dinner and Chin skipped out after his belly was full, leaving us with their pet monkey. Make note, I'm the only caped crusader standing in your corner, Captain America."
Steve favored him with a knowing grin. "You really are the jealous type aren't you, Danno?"
"Shut up." Danny gave him a shove to keep him moving, but couldn't quite hide his own smile. He felt the last of his worry wash away, the sun peek from behind the dissipating clouds as he matched Steve's stride. "Insecure housewives are jealous, Steven. Partners are extremely territorial. It's completely different."
"Sure it is, Danno. Sure it is."