By Darth Stitch
DISCLAIMER: Not mine. Belongs to CBS, Peter Lenkov, the Powers that Be that run this wonderful show. Various other fandoms are referenced here, belonging to J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, Joss Whedon, Mario Puzo, the creators of the animes Rurouni Kenshin and Bleach. There's a "blink and you'll miss it" reference to Highlander too. Will be careful and put the toys back in the box when I'm done. The characterizations of "Morrie" and "Fred" were by the lovely Murasaki99 in her wonderful fan fic "Blue Notes." Murasaki99 was kind enough to lend the boys out to me for all of the Club Denial stories.
DISCLAIMER TO SAVE MY SOUL FROM GOING TO HELL IN A HANDBASKET: Slash of the Steve/Danny variety. Run if it's not your cup of tea. Also, I have a yen for crack crossovers and I have officially now lost all shame of that. You have been warned.
I was wrong, I was wrong,
Thinking my heart can be my own.
I was strong, I was strong,
When I had a reason to hold on.
Let me fall, let me fall for you.
Let me fall for you.
Don't look down, don't look down, It's almost over,
By now it's too late to take it slow.
Turn around, turn around,
Give me a reason to let go.
Let me fall, let me fall for you,
Let me fall for you.
I'm hanging by a thread.
With all the words you never said
I'm going under,
So tell me what to do.
I've got nothing to hold on to.
Let me fall for you.
It's almost over,
- Sunlight, by David Cook from the album"This Loud Morning"
Danny Williams is the father of a little girl, the son closest to his mother, long-suffering big brother to several sisters and was, however briefly, married to a woman.
He doesn't claim to be an expert on women – God knew that was just asking for trouble. But he did pride himself and his detective skills on knowing when something was up with the womenfolk in his life. It was a survival skill, one that he really needed to teach to Steve, who was, God bless him, again making Sheer Obliviousness into an art form.
Of course, Danny first picks up the warning signs from Grace. He'd like to blame Steve for Grace loving scary stories, but the truth is, his little girl loves the spooky stories her grandfather told her and was only too pleased to find out that Steve was much the same and had his own stories to share. Of course, Danny can point to Rachel's love of campy supernatural TV shows and movies as well.
Danny is still firmly in denial over his little girl's baby crush on that Winchester guy.
"Vampires are not supposed to be sparkly," Grace says severely, while deep in discussion on the subject with Kono and the newbie, Spooky.
It was the end of the day and Grace was again at the station on one of their Paperwork Days. Danny's not sure how Rachel manages to figure when they all had "Paperwork Days" but he's happy to have his baby girl with him whenever possible. Grace also loved doing her homework there and Danny was infinitely grateful that Steve was a very patient teacher.
Danny can see them outside the window of his office and stifles a chuckle. Spooky, the new girl, is sitting next to Grace. With her black hair in those ridiculous-looking twin buns, which, combined with her height and slight build, made her look even younger than Kono, Spooky looks just like another little girl instead of the adult she actually is. Add a few sleeping bags, some popcorn and candy and it was going to be a regular slumber party out there.
"Twilight should only be read by any girl who retains enough common sense to not look for creepy, stalker-y, sparkly Edward Cullens of their very own?" Spooky offers sheepishly. "You gotta admit, Twilight is sweet…. you just have to make sure you regulate your daily dose of sugary reading!"
Danny snorts. He really shouldn't be listening – he's trying to get his paperwork done. But he can't help but overhear the conversation and give silent thanks to God and all His Saints for Gracie evidently inheriting the common sense from the Williams' side of the family.
"Edward Cullen is not cute," Grace opines. "He looks like a Neanderthal! A sparkly one!"
Kono and Spooky giggle. Danny himself is trying not to laugh.
"A sparkly Neanderthal – nice one, Gracie-girl!" Kono cheers. Danny can see her and Grace exchanging high-fives.
"Okay, so who gets your vote for cool, non-sparkly, good-looking vampire, Kono?" Spooky asks.
"Mick St. John," Kono answers promptly.
"Moonlight!" Spooky squeals in evident recognition. Danny is going to have to check his eardrums soon. He's only thankful that Steve, lucky bastard, is again out on a food run for the rest of the team. Chin, of course, has had enough sense to barricade himself in his own office and had a set of earphones with him when he did. The man is probably zoned out to music at this point, happily content in his little universe of Zen.
"Mommy loves that show too!" Grace volunteers. Danny snorts again. That explains everything.
"It was too bad it got cancelled after one season," Kono says wistfully. "But Mick gets my vote. I mean, just look at him." Evidently, Kono is using the office computer to browse for pictures of whoever this Mick guy is online. Not that Danny's going to say anything about that – he, Chin and Steve are known to indulge in a few games of HALO and Call of Duty.
Spooky starts laughing. "Oh. My. God. Kono, Grace… he looks like…."
This from Kono, who has burst into laughter as well. "No way!"
"He does too! Mick's just got the emo hair and the whole no-tan thing going on but look at him!"
"Ohmigod, you're right…"
Grace giggles. "Now we know what we're going to ask Uncle Steve to dress up as on Halloween!"
Uh-oh. This did not sound good. Danny should really do what all good partners would be doing at this point – stride outside, join the conversation and nip his baby girl's newest plan of mischief in the bud. Then again, Danny Williams is also a sane, sensible man, who's at least somewhat wise in the ways of women.
The choice is easy to make, right?
Steve is terribly cute when he's bewildered.
He adores Grace too much to give her a Death Glare but he's not above using it on Kono, who's already immune or Spooky, who's doing a poor job of looking suitably intimidated.
"I'm going as a what for Halloween?"
"Not a what, but a who, Uncle Steve," Grace corrects him primly. "You can go as Mick St. John. He's a vampire and he looks an awful lot like you!"
Steve sputters. "I am not going to play some sparkly emo vampire from Twilight!"
"It's Moonlight!" All three girls chorus.
"And the vampires in Moonlight don't sparkle!" Grace pipes up.
"Still emo, though," Kono offers helpfully.
"The emo thing works for Mick anyway," Spooky adds. "So cute…."
Spooky, Kono and Grace all sigh dreamily.
Steve sends a desperate look at Chin's way but the older man holds his hands up. "Sorry, brah, I'm out of this."
And then, Steve sends Danny a Look that eloquently asks: What the hell were you doing while this was going down?
Danny tries not to let the guilt show. "Babe, they ganged up on me. I was hog-tied, thrown to the ground, outnumbered, overpowered…"
"In other words, you caved like a puss –"
"Language!" All three girls chorus yet again.
"What they said," Danny tells him helpfully.
Swearing in some language Danny's not too familiar with until Spooky snickers, "Really, Bossman, you know Tagalog too?" Steve throws up his hands in surrender and flees for the safety of his office.
Of course, Danny's not going to admit that he ended up thinking that Steve would make a great Mick St. John for Halloween too…
It turns out that Spooky has a knack for cosplay – at least that was how the kids called "dressing up in costumes" these days.
Okay, Danny was a parent – he was entitled to feel like the only adult in this current bout of craziness they were all engaged in.
Spooky's in this odd, Gothic, Alice-in-Wonderland or Victorian-era dress that makes her look like one of those antique dolls that used to belong to Danny's grandmother. In concession to the heat, the material was light and her sleeves and skirt were short and puffy and she had on sensible black lace-up boots. Apparently, Spooky's going as some sort of obscure Japanese cartoon character.
Chin got lucky – the girls had decided he would make a great Asian version of Indiana Jones and thus was perfectly content with his get-up. Danny didn't want to think about where he got the whip though. Of course, Kono went as Lara Croft and looked perfectly kick-ass, if not as generously endowed as Angelina Jolie. Danny was not going to make any comments about that because he liked his balls where they were, thank you very much.
Danny's baby girl was beautiful in her cute little gypsy outfit, decked out in red and black, with costume jewelry sparkling in her hair and bangles clinking on her arms. Naturally, she found kindred spirits in Kono and Spooky who dolled her up, not to mention Rachel, who was pretty enthusiastic about seeing her daughter "look so adorable!"
Since Steve was going as a vampire, the girls all decided that it would be absolutely hilarious if Danny went as Van Helsing – the Hugh Jackman version. They went slightly lighter on the costume, ditching the long leather coat which would have cooked Danny even in the relatively mild weather on the islands. Danny looked more like a classic Western gunslinger and Steve definitely appreciated the look.
Thankfully, Mick St. John was a "modern" vampire so there wasn't any need to break out the Regency-era costumes… though there were a few mournful comments that Steve would've made a dashing-looking Highwayman. Said wistful commentators did not, repeat, not include one Jersey detective. Mick St. John was known to dress well and of course, black was de rigeur for good-looking emo vampires.
So there were a few things that everyone learned about Steve in the course of this foray into madness.
Now, Danny had known that Steve did keep a surprising amount of well-tailored suits in his closet. He didn't look at them too closely since Steve normally eschewed any semblance of formal or business wear and ran around Hawaii in his normal cargo pants and t-shirt, unless they had to go undercover and were required to dress up. That is, unless Steve decided that today was another day ending in "-y" and that meant he had to take his shirt off for some reason. What nobody expected was that Steve definitely knew his labels. Danny goggled at what he'd found – Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci… it was absolutely staggering.
"That's a hell of a lot of hazard pay, Bossman," Kono gaped.
Of course, Danny's giant, good-looking, secret clotheshorse goofball of a boyfriend shrugged it off. Steve had no intention of getting blood and dirt on his good suits, thank you very much.
Also, Danny's boyfriend was something of a hopeless wuss when it came to a certain little girl and the ladies of the team (not that Danny himself was any better), so he reluctantly agreed to grow his hair out a little instead of having to don a wig. Steve's hair grew surprisingly quickly so he actually needed to go for a trim often to keep up to regulation standards.
"Don't get used to this," Steve grumbled to Danny. "I am getting all this hacked off the minute Halloween is over."
"Mm-hmm," Danny said absently, fingers threading through the soft, wavy curls at the back of Steve's neck.
"I mean it!" Steve said, even as he leaned into the touch with a sigh, eyes half-closing.
"Yes, dear, anything you say, dear," Danny said, not stopping the soothing strokes. "This is fun, you realize. I'm getting you to purr, you big ol' kitty, you."
"Mrrr…?" Steve said sleepily, turning his head into Danny's palm and pressing a kiss there.
Of course, Danny decided that the next couple of quiet and private hours they had would be best spent in discovering other ways to make Steve purr.
There was also no such thing as a tanned vampire but it was to Steve's everlasting relief and gratitude that all of them were in agreement that they were not going to allow Steve to run about as a "sparkly" one. So Kono broke out the make-up so that she could get Steve to achieve the requisite pallor.
Then, she and Spooky took one look at Steve's eyes – which were a very dark, almost cobalt blue today and the pale make-up was accentuating the fact that the man had ridiculously long eyelashes – and Kono said: "Eyeliner!"
Spooky clapped her hands with glee. "Mascara!"
Steve balked. "No way in hell!"
"Girls," Danny said mildly. "You realize he's not a live Ken doll you can play dress-up with?"
"Live, anatomically-correct Ken doll to be more precise," Kono snickered. "And thank you, Danny, for giving us permission!"
"Hey!" Steve protested. "Still in the room here! I am not having that stuff put on my eyes."
"Don't move, Bossman!" Spooky pleaded. "You do not want to get poked by that eyeliner pencil!"
"Daddy," Grace asked. "What's anatomically correct?"
"I'll tell you when you're older, Monkey," Danny said quickly. "Maybe when you're about 30 or so."
"Chin," Steve said desperately. "She's your cousin! Do something!"
"Don't worry about it, brah," said Chin. "I'm just glad she's not playing dress-up with me anymore. I don't look like the Lost guy, no matter what you say, 'cuz!"
The plan was that they would accompany Grace on her trick and treating and then, they would be taking her to the Governor's Halloween Ball, which was being held for all police officers and their families. Stan was hosting a Halloween party for his business associates at his house and while Rachel would have made time for Grace and trick or treating, it was infinitely better to have an active, sugar-high child with her doting and energetic ohana.
It helped that Rachel and Danny were finally settling down as co-parents, which worked remarkably better for them instead of being husband and wife. Danny's ex was now far more open to having Danny share custody of Grace, rather than just have visitation rights. It was Grace herself who wanted more time with her father, Steve and her honorary set of uncles and aunts.
Danny had to admit that Steve looked pretty damn good once the girls were done with him. Spooky had also gotten Steve fangs and the requisite contact lenses. Apparently, the little detective had buddies working in theater and movies. With some urging, Steve did try the things on and proved that he had a flair for the dramatic after all, making for a rather convincing vampire. He'd growled and lunged for Kono first, who promptly squealed and laughing, ran for dear life and then Steve playfully lunged for Grace.
Grace shrieked with glee and hid behind her Danno, crying out, "Save me, Dr. Van Helsing!"
Danny…er… "Van Helsing," proved to be totally cool when confronted with a maniacally grinning vampire Steve. "Don't make me stake you, you non-sparkly fanged Neanderthal."
"Oh noes!" Steve said melodramatically, clutching at his heart. "Killed by Jersey sarcasm. It burns! Oh, the agony! ARGH!"
"Okay, that's it – we're signing him up for acting lessons," Kono decided, nudging Spooky. She paused and took a closer look at the other woman, who'd suddenly gone stark white. "Hey, you okay there?"
Spooky had been staring at Steve and something in her eyes made the hairs on the back of Danny's neck stand on end. After all the teasing and the joking around and the girls swooning over Steve, Spooky's frightened, stricken expression would take anyone by surprise.
"Hey," Danny said. "He may be a dead ringer for that Mick St. John guy but Steve's not that good an actor!"
Spooky blinked and shook her head. "Oh. Jesus. That's not it. Never mind – I'm just letting my imagination get away with me, that's all."
Steve had removed the fangs and the contact lenses and was now regarding her with concern as well. "You feeling all right?"
She managed a smile and waved a hand dismissively. "Eh. It's nothing. Hey, it's time for candy, right, Grace?"
"Yeah!" The little girl cheered.
Interlude: All That Is Gold Does Not Glitter…
Listen. This is the tale as it was told to me.
Once upon a time, there was a Prince and his story was lost and forgotten.
I know, you're asking – if this Prince's story was lost, then how do I know it now? Listen, listen well and you'll understand why I am one of the very few who remember.
And once I'm done, you'll need to remember this too.
The Prince was born in a time of Great Endings and Beginnings. A grand adventure had just ended, a Dark Enemy overthrown and the Prince's father, was one of the heroes of this fine tale. He was a King who had finally stepped up to reclaim his heritage, to take up the crown left by his forefathers and reunite the sundered kingdoms in the land once more under his rule.
The King's bride was the fairest of all Elf-maidens born since Luthien the Nightingale. Their love was true and had endured through many long years of trial and sorrow. Great was everyone's joy when they were wed and greater still when a son was finally born to them.
So you can imagine – a Crown Prince, an heir to the throne of the Reunited Kingdoms. This Prince would grow up to be a fine young man, fairest of all the Princes ever born to his bloodline, for his mother, of course, was the most beautiful lady in all the lands. And of course, he possessed many of his father's graces as well. His parents loved him dearly and raised him to be both good and wise, that he would be worthy of his father's crown.
And he was. He came to the throne in a time of peace and plenty. He tried to rule wisely and well and his subjects loved him dearly.
And perhaps you would think that nothing happened of note during his reign and perhaps that's the reason why there are no thrilling tales, no great stories to be told.
You would be wrong.
Danny was prepared to chalk this year's Halloween as a success in his book.
His baby girl was blissed out on candy and she had managed to score the mother of all candy hauls. Danny noticed that Grace tended to walk away with more candy if Steve was the one standing with her at the door. The math was pretty simple:
Cute Little Girl plus Cute Not-So-Little Boy meant that Resistance Was Futile.
Danny did his level best to manage his daughter's sugar intake. In the meantime, Grace was generous enough to share part of her considerable haul with the rest of the team, with a sizable portion for her Uncle Steve, who was perfectly happy to be the Mysterious Madam Gracie's Faithful Non-Sparkly Vampire Assistant.
Steve on a sugar-high was comedy gold. Danny made sure that he'd taken plenty of pictures of his daughter and partner to share with his family back on the mainland. He'd be holding this over Steve's head for months! Not that Kono and the others were any better.
Well, they all deserved the chance to relax and have some fun for a change. They had been working hard for the better part of the year, overcoming the stigma of being associated with Jameson's dubious administration, Steve's near-disastrous actions over learning her real relationship with Wo Fat and Internal Affairs just lying in wait for all of them to make one more wrong move so they could close in and end Five-0. It didn't help that it took a long time for the new Governor to even come close to warming up to them and only because he had every desire to win the upcoming elections and secure his position.
The Governor had also apparently gone all out for his Halloween ball. The ball was being held at this newly opened club with the odd name of "Club Denial." The club overlooked the beach and they'd put up tents to accommodate the crowd. Somebody had gotten clever and had set things up in such a way that the whole venue looked like a haunted house. The kids loved it and little ones were running all over the place, watched over by the indulgent eyes of the entire Honolulu Police Department, not to mention the Club's staff. The music was pretty good – somebody in a pirate costume was doing a Bon Jovi cover when they'd arrived and wasn't half bad at it.
Spooky squealed when she saw the club's owner. "Uncle Morrie!"
Huh. Apparently, she knew the guy.
The man smiled and walked over to their group. Spooky introduced him as Morris Bauman – apparently, he was handling the hosting duties in the Governor's stead. There was something about Bauman that Danny couldn't put his finger on but he just wasn't sure what that was. Morris Bauman didn't come off as the typical slick, smooth-talking fellow Danny would expect to be running places like this. He was a tall, well-dressed man, possibly in his early 40s, with dark hair, a calm demeanor and a sharp, observant gaze.
A man of respect, Danny thought and abruptly remembered one of his grandfathers. Grandpa Vito Corleone was both well-respected and well-loved in the old neighborhood back in the day, never mind the whispers about "the Family business" which his Uncle Michael handled now. Bauman was something like that, without going straight over into bad Mafia movie territory.
Danny really didn't want to think too closely about Uncle Michael and the business on that side of his large, crazy family.
Bauman greeted them congenially enough although Danny didn't miss the subtle double-take he did when he first saw Steve. Danny didn't miss the look he shot Spooky, either. Or the way his eyes kept flicking back to Steve the entire time they were talking.
"I need a singer tonight, Spooky-girl," Bauman said. "I'd gotten Met—er… I mean, Adam to do the next set but he's running a bit late. You feel up to it?"
"I'll be there with bells on, Morrie," Spooky said cheerfully enough. At the very interested looks from the rest of the team, she blushed and said, "Um – I sing part time?"
"She's done a good job covering for us," Bauman said easily. "Enjoy yourselves – there's a lot of stuff here for the kids right now but we've got something for everyone." He and Spooky excused themselves and walked on over to the stage.
Danny could see what he meant. Most of the kids were sensibly jumping, climbing and running all over the designated play areas – there were a couple of those huge, blow-up castles where kids could slide right into those pits with the rubber balls in them.
Naturally, Grace took one look at them and then Danny was assaulted by three pairs of puppy eyes – Grace, Steve and Kono.
Danny tried, he really did. "Steve, babe, you realize you're not allowed to play in those things right?"
"Silly Danno – Steve and Kono are gonna watch over me!" Grace said indignantly.
"What she said!" Steve said, with his megawatt goofy grin on. "Also, I'm taking pictures."
"Face it, Other-Boss," Kono cackled. "You're outnumbered!"
"Go, go – we grown-ups are gonna grab a drink and enjoy ourselves like sensible people, right, Chin?"
Chin shrugged. "I don't know – the playground looks mighty tempting."
Danny threw up his hands in exasperation. As usual, he was the only sane person in the group.
Danny wandered over to the bar – he wasn't kidding when he said he wanted to get a beer and maybe something to eat that wasn't sugary. He'd be joining the others soon enough; it wasn't as if he could bear to be parted from his Monkey's company for very long. But for the moment, he took some time to check out this club.
Just like its owner, there was something about the place that scratched at Danny's cop instincts. Danny was good with words but for once, he just couldn't find a way to put a name or description on how he felt. It wasn't a sense of danger, obviously – he wouldn't have let Grace get a mile of this place if that were the case.
It was just odd.
There was something about the Club's staff that was just plain weird. Danny knew who the cops were and everyone was in costume. It was kind of funny how many secret geeks were there in the police force – the number of Jedi, Starfleet officers and other fantasy characters wandering about, aside from the traditional spooks, was just staggering.
So Danny checked out this tiny redhead in the samurai gear watching cheerfully over the kids. High ponytail, magenta kimono and those white skirt-like pants, delicate girlish features and unusual violet eyes – Danny would've taken him for a girl. Honestly, what sane guy wears magenta? But he looked closer and no, this one was definitely a man, albeit a very pretty one. The kids loved him – he had this sweet, happy expression that reminded Danny very strongly of Steve and pretty much the same gentle manner with the children.
Also, there was one thing – he was apparently carrying a real, honest-to-god samurai sword. Danny could tell from the way he moved and the way the thing seemed to have weight rather than appear like one of those flimsy movie props.
And then, there were the bouncers.
Again, these were two guys in samurai gear – all black, this time and Danny made a mental note to check if this Morris Bauman character had Yakuza connections. Nothing in Spooky's background made them think she could be a dirty cop but it wasn't unheard of for cops to have their own contacts in the criminal underworld. One of the samurai boys had orange hair, of all the crazy things and what looked like this huge-ass sword from one of those Japanese cartoons or video games. Everyone thought it was a prop and commented on it.
Danny was dead sure it wasn't but hell if he knew how this kid could carry the goddamn thing on his back.
The other guy's sword looked a little closer to normal but he too had red hair set up in a spiky ponytail and an interesting set of tattoos on his forehead. Danny had to hand it to them – they were watching the people and the doors, alert for any sign of trouble.
Danny was suddenly certain that all of the samurai guys weren't in costume at all.
Without realizing it, Danny had drifted towards the end of the long bar and closer to the stage. Spooky was right there in a secluded corner, in the middle of talking to Bauman. Danny didn't mean to eavesdrop but he'd always had sharp ears so it was kind of easy to pick out the conversation.
"Tell me I didn't just see who I think I'm seeing," Bauman was telling the little detective.
"Oh hell," Spooky swore. It was kind of funny to hear her say anything remotely resembling bad language, given as she barely looked old enough to get a drink at a bar. "You couldn't just tell me it was all just my imagination, Morrie?"
Steve – they had to be talking about Steve. Bauman had been looking at Steve that whole time they were all getting acquainted.
"I wish I could say it was my imagination. But Fred's seen the lad and he's fairly delighted to have one of the family so close by. Bloody Elf's going to be insufferable for months!"
Spooky sighed. "I can't believe I didn't see it before. But I guess the whole modern look threw me off or maybe I wasn't meant to figure it out at that time. And that's what worries me. And I figure it out today, of all days. This is not good, Morrie."
"Now this time you're reading too much into things, little girl," Bauman said wryly. "Don't go begging for trouble. And the lad hasn't even a clue who and what he is. He's also not likely to ever figure that out… if he's lucky."
Spooky smiled wanly. "I hope so. He's got enough on his plate as it is."
Bauman snorted. "The entire family's made up of trouble magnets. The hero thing seems to be embedded in their DNA apparently, all the way to Beren One-Hand himself."
Spooky shrugged. "What can I say? We'll keep him safe anyway."
"We? You're the one who's poised to be in the right place at the right time!"
"Ohana, Morrie – you're part of it now, like it or not!" Spooky said, finally laughing for real.
Okay. What. The. Fuck.
"Oi! Y'want to order a drink anytime soon? Other people are waitin' on ya, cowboy," said the bartender.
Danny was still reeling from that odd conversation and the fact that his internal Weird-O-Meter started pinging like crazy. He was kind of thankful that the bartender brought him back to earth. Just a little bit.
And then, Danny got a really good look at that bartender.
The man looked years younger, spoke with an unmistakable Cockney accent and had god-awful platinum blonde hair that was definitely from a bottle but Danny was prepared to swear up and down that he was talking to Victor Hesse.
The bartender gave him a toothy grin. "Hey, mate, you look like you've seen a ghost, eh?"
Victor Hesse was supposed to be dead. Just how many lives did the son of a bitch have anyway?
"He's not who you think he is," said another young man tending bar. Again, he was definitely English. He looked barely out of adolescence with bright green eyes behind round-rimmed glasses and messy black hair. "Honestly, he's not. He's not the man you're looking for."
"You doin' the Jedi Mind trick there, Harry?" the Victor Hesse clone laughed. "It doesn't look like it's working!"
"Oh bloody hell," Harry sighed. "Go on, scare the Muggle half to death while I try to save your arse, Spike."
"Spike? I refuse to believe your parents actually picked that name out for you," Danny challenged, finally managing to find his voice. "And if you are Victor Hesse and that's your alias – it's the lamest thing I ever heard."
Spike narrowed his eyes. "Mouthy little bugger, aren't ya?"
Harry facepalmed. "He's not this Victor guy – he's Spike. And Spike, don't piss off the copper, for the love of Merlin. If you look like somebody on the Police's Most Wanted list, you don't want to tempt fate, okay?"
"No way," the Victor Hesse clone – Spike? – laughed. "I gotta be better lookin' than my criminal twin!"
Harry glared at him. "How'd you like to spend the rest of Halloween as a bloody ferret, you prat – I'm sure Buffy will thank me for the peace and quiet it'll bring."
"Okay, I am dreaming," Danny interjected. "Somebody put something in the candy or the drink I had and I am dreaming. Except that I haven't even had a piece of candy or a freakin' beer!"
"Have one on the house then," said Spike agreeably, pushing a Longboard in his direction. He slanted Danny a cheeky, genuine grin that went a long way towards soothing Danny's frazzled nerves.
Danny stared at the bottle - which was unopened – and then raised a brow at Spike.
Spike rolled his eyes. "For Chrissakes, it's not poisoned, ok? There are folks here who'd have my head if I wasted a good beer." He handed Danny a bottle opener.
Danny snorted even as he popped off the cap and took a good long swallow. Despite the uncanny resemblance, Danny knew he had to pay attention to the little details. Unlike Hesse, Spike looked years younger and was missing a couple of facial scars – one delivered by Steve himself. He even moved differently and evidently, he was a bit fond of the whole punk rock / Sid Vicious look.
"Bribing an officer's not gonna get you anywhere," Danny quipped.
Spike chuckled even as it was Harry's turn to turn his gaze heavenwards. "For the sake of my co-worker's blood pressure and your own peace of mind, Officer, I been a right proper law-abiding citizen and have been for years. And – oh, bloody hell –"
"Shite," Harry swore. "Gatecrashers."
Danny followed the direction of their gaze. There were a set of vampire wannabes who came in – giggling and evidently punch-drunk. Danny shouldn't have been worried – this was a party full of cops and the two samurai bouncer guys were already stepping in to take care of business.
"Huh, figures the Shinigami boys came in useful after all," Spike observed wryly.
"I dare you to say that again to Ichigo's face," Harry returned. "That's not just an oversized kitchen knife he's carrying, you realize."
But Danny could see one "vampire" break away from the pack and start walking into the club like he owned the place. This vampire had gone for the whole period costume look, decked out in satin and lace, powdered wig and beauty mark on his pale face.
"Somebody overdosed on their Anne Rice," Danny muttered after he took a much-needed drink.
"Christ, I hate those," Spike muttered. "Fucking posers."
Harry's eyes were narrowed, watching the gatecrasher. Unfortunately, the bouncers hadn't noticed that one had gotten away. The "vampire" looked very much like he was deep into his role, working the whole "beautiful, deadly predator" deal for all it was worth.
"What do you think, Spike?" Harry asked.
Spike snorted. "Can't expect me to tell anything from all the bloody people in this Club, can I?"
Danny stared at them both. "What, you two are telling me that he could be dangerous?"
Truth – there was something about the vampire poser that didn't sit right with Danny. Then again, the idiot just walked into a club filled with cops and their families. He was just asking to get his ass handed to him.
Harry looked evasive. "You get those sometimes – blokes who take the whole vampire role-playing thing a bit too far. Pain the arse, really – hate it when we have those."
And then, Spike burst out laughing. "I'll be damned – he's heading for the pretty one, of course."
Harry looked. "Huh. Mick St. John, eh?"
Spike hooted. "You watch that poncy Moonlight show too? Wait till I tell Snapercup that!"
Danny almost choked on his beer. Of course Count Whackula was heading for the one main trouble magnet in the room. "Steve?"
Danny knew perfectly well that Steve was no stranger to getting hit on by women or men. He normally fended that off with a disinterested smile and a polite variation of "Thanks but no thanks." Often, he was pretty nice about it and Danny finally understood why Steve had been christened with the "Smooth Dog" moniker.
Of course, Danny had initially thought that the "Smooth Dog" nickname that Steve apparently went by as a SEAL was some kind of ironic joke. Lord only knew how Steve could be an Epic Fail on his basic mammal to mammal skills. Except that every now and then, Steve could suddenly, inexplicably turn on the charm and people would be falling all over him, rushing to follow his every whim.
It was the smile, Danny knew. It got them every damn time.
Steve was not smiling when the vampire poser approached him.
At that point, Danny started moving, leaving Spike and Harry behind. He just knew that trouble was brewing.
He could read it in the tense set of Steve's shoulders and the fact that instead of the typical calm, polite, disinterested manner he projected towards people trying to flirt with him, Danny could see that he was beginning to show all the classic signs of flight or fight response.
Knowing Steve, he was definitely leaning towards the "fight" part of that equation.
The vampire poser was far too much in Steve's personal space and ignoring the very obvious efforts that Steve was making to keep him at a distance. He was maintaining direct eye contact with Steve and reached up with a hand to stroke Steve's cheek, the large ruby red ring on his finger catching the light. Steve caught him mid-gesture and Danny could hear the growled warning. The vampire poser laughed – apparently he was trying the whole Dracula hypnosis thing, the way he kept on gazing hungrily into Steve's eyes.
Shit, this guy was just overflowing with the clichés, right?
And then, the vampire wannabe went flying, crashing into a nearby table with a satisfying crunch.
Kids screamed. The little redheaded samurai guy who seemed to be playing the Club's playground monitor started herding the little ones away to safety, with some help from the parents who were present. The two bouncers in the black samurai outfits at the door also came running.
And of course, Danny was where he was supposed to be, right next to his partner.
Steve's eyes were very pale, almost the color of those vampire contacts that Spooky had given him though Danny knew he hadn't put them on.
"Book 'im, Danno," Steve snarled. "He was threatening Gracie."
What? Swearing up a storm on his own, Danny didn't need to be told twice and the cops who were sitting at the table the vampire poser had crashed into stood up and had the idiot cuffed immediately. Nobody threatened Danny's baby girl, even as a fucking joke by some Dracula wannabe.
The vampire poser managed a sinister smile, even though he was visibly winded by Steve's punch. "I was only jesting. Arrest me – you'll have no idea what you're unleashing, my lovely one."
He doubled over as Danny socked him right in the stomach. The cops holding the vamp carefully looked away, not bothering to hide the smirks. The guy threatened a kid, one of their own, to boot. Nobody was going to call out Steve or Danny about that.
"Yeah, yeah, keep talking – I'll make sure you get a nice even tan once the sun comes up," Danny told him. "Get this fuckhead out of here!"
The command in that voice was very clear and even the cops hauling the wannabe away found themselves stopping in their tracks. Morris Bauman was striding over, face impassive and cold. He stood in front of the wannabe and lifted the latter's chin up, the better to look him directly in the eye.
They could all see the wannabe jerk and freeze in abject fear.
"I see," Bauman said in a quiet, even voice that was all the more terrifying because of its lack of emotion. "You are not welcome here. Do not darken my doors again. This is your first and last warning." He stepped back and nodded at the cops who dragged the obviously fear-stricken wannabe vampire away.
Bauman turned to them all but he was looking directly at Steve when he spoke next. "This is a safe place. We do not tolerate troublemakers nor will we permit any danger to anyone who comes here. You have my word on that, Commander."
There was something odd, almost formal in the way that Bauman spoke to Steve and for the barest moment, Bauman's eyes gleamed red.
The Great Enemy, Danny thought suddenly and he frowned at himself. Now where the hell did that come from? He found himself blinking as Morris Bauman shot him a wry little smile.
"I'll hold you to that, Mr. Bauman," Steve told the Club's owner.
Bauman shrugged. "It's just Morrie now, Commander. You and your ohana will always be welcome and safe here."
"Then call me Steve," Steve answered. "And thanks for the offer."
Bauman – Morrie – gave him another one of those wry grins. He raised his voice. "Party's not yet over, people! Stick around for the band; I'll be playing tonight!"
Grace came running towards them and Danny scooped her up in his arms, relieved that his baby was safe. She couldn't be anything else, not with Kono right behind her and Chin also on his way. Even Spooky had gone down from the stage and was headed in their direction.
They all knew what was coming. They could hold the vampire guy overnight but unless they turned up anything else on the idiot, they'd have to let him go. And they were going to be very thorough in checking this guy out – nothing and nobody was allowed to threaten Grace.
"Is that your Aneurysm Face, Uncle Steve?" Grace asked, looking at him critically.
Danny snorted. "See, what did I tell you, babe? Even my Monkey sees it!"
He was glad that this last remark made Steve snort out a laugh. He could tell that Steve wanted to hold Grace for a little while and it always warmed him to see how much Steve loved his baby girl. Grace could tell too and whispered in his ear, "Danno, wanna go to Steve."
As Danny handed over his precious daughter, he took the time to ask his partner, "You okay, babe?"
Steve nodded wordlessly even as he mouthed the word Later. Danny was going to hold him to that.
Interlude: Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost…
There is a story about a Sleeping Princess and the Prince who wakes her from her enchanted sleep.
It's a tale that has been passed on through the generations and in the way of most tales, details have been changed, twisted or exaggerated. And it's a tale that plays out many, many times in different times and places and with different people.
But the first, the truest story was this.
They found the Sleeping Princess in the ruins of the Necromancer's dungeons in the tenth year of the new King's reign. She was fairer than silver or ivory or pearls. They knew not her name nor her history. There were no records that they could find to explain her presence there in that dark and terrible place.
And it was true, that the young King woke her with a kiss. Of course he would believe that he loved her, fair and beautiful as she was, prisoner of the Necromancer who'd been destroyed long before he was born. And perhaps it could have ended there, when the young King gave her breath and the first taste of life after so many years of living death.
She might have loved him.
She might have been his Queen.
But her need for vengeance was greater.
And she was a Queen – the last Queen of Numenor, Tar-Miriel. She should have been its rightful ruler had she not been forced into marriage by her power-mad cousin. For so many long ages, they had thought her lost, the last to die when Numenor sank beneath the waves of the sea, brought down by the wrath of the One.
But Tar-Miriel had, with her last breath, had forsaken the One and the Valar and gave herself utterly to the Darkness. She swore vengeance upon the world of the living but most especially on the bloodline of Elendil and the Faithful who had escaped Numenor's destruction, leaving her to her fate. So she escaped from the wreck of Numenor in the end, caught between life and death, sustained by her hate and her need for blood.
In the young King, fairest of all of Elendil's bloodline, she thought she finally had her chance for revenge.
Spooky O'Connor was telling a story.
Most people usually forgot what her real name was ("For the nth time, it's Isabel but don't spazz over it, okay?") but she got the nickname for a couple of reasons. The first reason was that she had excellent instincts and was known to act on these weird, out-of-this-world hunches which eventually led her to getting good leads and solving the case. The other reason was that Spooky pretty much was a walking encyclopedia of supernatural minutiae (This from Steve: "Really, Danno? Minutiae?"), which kind of went hand in hand with the cute little Goth girl image she cultivated.
They should've gone home after the unpleasantness with the vampire guy. But Grace was hungry and the food being offered was pretty good, served by these small, round-faced little fellows with curly hair and huge feet.
(Danny had a right to say small – these guys were even shorter than he was!)
So they stayed, mainly because Grace needed to have something in her that wasn't sugar-based and also because Steve was still looking a little bit freaked-out. Grace didn't mind sitting between her father and Steve and it was both funny and touching how Grace somehow managed to do a credible impression of her Grandma Williams and made Steve take more than just a few bites of his food.
"Eat, eat – how you gonna take care of my Danno, you don't eat?" Grace scolded him.
"Aye-aye, Commander Gracie!" Steve said dutifully, lips twitching in an effort not to grin.
"Is it just me or should I be hearing 'how you gonna catch a husband, you don't eat?'" Chin observed wryly.
"Steve's already caught Danny so it's kinda moot, cuz," Kono quipped.
"Damn straight," Danny said smugly.
"You don't ever get tempted to throw him back into the ocean, Bossman?" Kono joked.
Steve smiled goofily. "Never. I'm keeping him!"
"That's so sweet," Spooky giggled.
"Danno's turning pink!" Grace chortled.
It was surprising how the atmosphere in the Club turned warm and welcoming again. As promised, Morris Bauman played the piano with his partner Fred on the coronet. Danny wasn't a huge jazz fan but they were good and Fred was definitely very easy on both the eyes and the ears.
And then, Spooky got dragged into telling the kids a story – the final bit on the programme for them before their grateful parents would take them home. Apparently, the person tasked to play storyteller for Halloween wasn't able to make it so Spooky got tapped.
And she delivered, starting off with one of those short, funny ghost stories that was designed to make kids jump and giggle.
Then, things got strange.
Spooky got this odd, faraway expression and her eyes seemed to glaze over. Her voice took on a lilting, musical quality as she began to recite this story of an ancient Prince from a lost and forgotten kingdom. Danny knew most of the popular myths and legends and this sounded like it came from the legendarium of The Lord of the Rings.
"…This Prince would grow up to be a fine young man, fairest of all the Princes ever born to his bloodline, for his mother, of course, was the most beautiful lady in all the lands. And of course, he possessed many of his father's graces as well. His parents loved him dearly and raised him to be both good and wise, that he would be worthy of his father's crown…"
There were elements of other classic fairy tales in there too – the Prince waking the sleeping princess with a kiss. Except that the Princess was apparently some Queen turned evil sorceress or vampire and was actually out for revenge.
"…But Tar-Miriel had, with her last breath, had forsaken the One and the Valar and gave herself utterly to the Darkness. She swore vengeance upon the world of the living but most especially on the bloodline of Elendil and the Faithful who had escaped Numenor's destruction, leaving her to her fate. So she escaped from the wreck of Numenor in the end, caught between life and death, sustained by her hate and her need for blood. In the young King, fairest of all of Elendil's bloodline, she thought she finally had her chance for revenge…"
For some reason, the hairs on the back of Danny's neck stood straight up and he chanced to glance at Steve, who had been riveted by the story as everyone else in the audience.
Steve had turned stark white and he was actually beginning to shake. He mumbled an excuse and abruptly left their table.
Kono didn't even hesitate. "Go on, Danny – we'll look after Grace."
Of course, Danny found Steve in the restroom, standing in front of the sink with the water running. His face was wet and Danny knew it was only because it would help explain away the suspicious moisture in his eyes. Danny's not fooled though. He didn't like what he was seeing – not one bit. Steve was far too pale and he knew perfectly well that wasn't Kono's expert make-up.
He gently ran a hand over his partner's stiff back. "You okay, babe?"
"Fine," Steve gritted out, wiping his face with a paper towel.
"Which means Freaked Out, Insecure and Neurotic in McGarret-Speak," Danny said practically. "Look, babe, is this about Count Whackula? Because I promise you, we're gonna sift that guy through and he's not gonna even want to think about looking at another vampire movie once we're done with him."
Steve took a deep, shuddering breath. "It's not that. At least, not really. Spooky's story… I don't know… I don't know how to explain it." He raised his hands helplessly.
If it had been any other time, Danny might have teased Steve about it. Instead, he very gently framed Steve's face with his hands, making the taller man look directly at him. "What is it about Spooky's story that's freaking you out?"
Steve sighed again. His eyes were gray this time and oddly haunted. "It's familiar to me. I don't know how or why. Like a nightmare that I can't wake up from." He shivered. "And everything is so cold and dark…"
Danny drew Steve close, let the taller man bury his face in Danny's neck. He felt Steve press a kiss at the pulse point just beneath his ear and he in turn kissed the other man just beneath the perfect curve of his jaw. At any other time, this might have been the prelude to other, more pleasurable activities but right now Steve just needed the comfort and the warmth. He was actually freezing and Danny knew perfectly well that it wasn't that cold in the Club.
The moment ended all too soon when they heard a knock on the restroom door. "Steve? Danny?"
It's Chin and there's a tone in his voice that they rarely ever hear. Chin actually sounded rattled and Chin is rarely ever shaken out of his Zen-like calm.
"What's wrong, Chin?" Steve asked.
They found Spooky in Morrie Bauman's office, laid out on the couch.
The tiny detective was unconscious. Spooky had finished her story and then, had gone over to the bar when she fainted. Luckily, she was on the other side of the bar when it happened – the rest of the guests didn't see her. Apparently, one of the bartenders brought her to Morrie's office while the other one alerted Chin and Kono.
Danny was going to guess that the one who carried Spooky in was Spike because he was fairly sure that Chin and Kono would have freaked out considerably if the Victor Hesse-lookalike was the one who ended up talking to them. Come to think of it, Spike was nowhere to be seen, which was a blessing since Danny was sure Steve would end up shooting him in his rattled state.
They found Morrie's partner Fred with Spooky. He was apparently trying to revive her.
"Is Spooky going to be all right?" Grace asked in a small voice. She'd immediately latched on to Danny the minute she saw him and didn't look like she would be letting go any time soon.
It was Fred who answered her question, giving the little girl a gentle smile. "Oh, she'll be fine, little one. Look, she's waking up now."
Spooky's eyes fluttered open and they were blank and gray.
"Ónen i-Estel Edain, ú-chebin estel anim."
And she was looking directly at Steve when she said those words.
Danny could hear Steve's sudden intake of breath at that.
"Isabel." Fred said in a sharp, commanding tone.
Spooky blinked and Danny could see those gray eyes return to their normal light blue, focusing first on Fred and then the rest of them. She groaned and held her head in her hands. "Oh. Owww…."
"Spooky, you feeling better?" Kono asked, going over to sit by her side on the couch. "You need us to take you to the ER?"
"No," Spooky whimpered. "Please tell me that you guys managed to book whoever it is that got me."
"Nope – you just keeled over, Spooks," Danny told her.
Fred was slightly more practical. He had just poured something from an exquisite glass pitcher into a shot glass and handed it to her. "Drink this. You need it."
"Oh. Lovely," Spooky said and drank. Color returned to her cheeks and she looked considerably better than when they came into the room.
Steve was evidently waiting for that. "You were acting a bit strange before you fainted, Spooky."
Spooky blinked. "Huh?"
"Ónen i-Estel Edain, ú-chebin estel anim." Steve recited in an uncannily perfect imitation of Spooky's accent and tone. Danny should have remembered that Steve had near-photographic memory. He and Steve were watching Spooky very carefully.
Spooky was good - Danny could see her eyes widen just a bit before she recovered herself and answered, "I said that?"
"You know what it means, Spooks or do you just go around speaking in tongues?" Danny asked.
"It's Sindarin," Spooky said. She shrugged. "I'm a bit of an old dead language geek too. It means: I gave Hope to the Dúnedain; I have kept no hope for myself."
"That's grim," Chin observed.
"It's from an ancient tale – the Elfstone and the Evenstar," Fred supplied helpfully. "It's not so very startling since Spooky here was telling the story of their son."
Spooky gasped. "I was what?"
"Spooky," This time, Kono took over, shooting Danny and Steve a look. "What's the last thing you remember?"
Spooky was saved from answering when Morrie walked into the room. "Officers, I believe we have a bit of a situation."
An HPD detective was standing just outside the office door. "Commander McGarret, Detective Williams – we just got the call right now from one of the officers who took in that gatecrasher a couple of hours ago. The man's dead."
Yes, I know I've officially lost my mind.
My Muses are sneaky so I have no idea how Harry, Spike, Kenshin, Ichigo and Renji snuck in. They probably bribed Uncle Morrie, who's kinda easy that way.
Danny's "Uncle Michael" – oh sweet Ceiling Cat have mercy. THAT came out of nowhere, I swear. For the sake of my own sanity, let's just say that the Corleone Family saga took place a generation or so later, rather than the timeline set in the Mario Puzo novel and Coppola movies and let's just say that things are going on a far happier note for Danny's Uncle Michael.
No, Danny has absolutely nothing to do with the Family business.
Neither does his father (even if he does resemble Uncle Michael's dear older brother who got killed, unfortunately).
At this point, some of you may have guessed who Steve used to be and his connection to the Lord of the Rings universe. If you haven't, stay tuned – we'll get there, eventually. Whee! This Crossover Insanity Handbasket is FUN!
Yes, the fact that Steve McGarrett in this universe resembles *coughcough* the actor who plays Mick St. John in the short-lived cult classic Moonlight has enough irony in it to sink an aircraft carrier. Be warned, the irony will get worse.