Summary: Five-0 needs to be saved – a Thunderbirds/Hawaii Five-0 (2010) one-shot crossover from Steve McGarrett's point-of-view.
I'd heard the reports of them bursting onto the scene at London Airport a few years ago. But we're so far removed from there, I never gave it much thought.
But now, they're overhead in the largest aircraft I've ever seen. It says THUNDERBIRD 2 on its side; even in this torrential downpour the letters that are at least as tall as the statue of King Kamehameha stand out stark against the thing threatening to kill my entire team.
Danny has the little girl. Chin has the little boy. Kono's managing to keep the mother quiet, and I hold the lifeless body of the dad.
There have been reports through military channels of the incredible feats of engineering that allow this group of men and women to save lives. These people can do things I as a SEAL so many years ago could never have fathomed even trying.
But technology gets you only halfway, and as I look at my soaking wet teammates jockeying to keep themselves from sliding down the muddy cliff, water rushing around all our feet as though its sole intent is to sweep each of us away to our deaths, I know that bravery…valor…guts…those are the things that matter most.
I peer through the rain trying to see what the men who have each of those things and more, flying in that huge machine, are going to do. My fist holds tightly to a Parkia tree root. It's the only thing anchoring me and my breath catches when I hear Danny give a yelp and lose his footing.
That's when the miracle happens, and it's the only way I can even describe it. Out of nowhere, a man dressed all in blue and hanging from a safety harness from the green giant so many feet above us, has Danny in one arm and the little girl he rescued in the other. I see the copper-haired man's lips move, then one of Danny's arms snakes around the man's shoulders while the other reaches across his chest to help hold the little girl to the man's body.
Danny keeps his eyes on me all the way up. Before I know it, a second man, this one blond, is in front of Chin and the little boy he's holding. The boy turns and wraps his arms around the rescuer's neck, and as the wind buffets them away from Chin, I see the root my teammate was holding to pull right out of the ground. Chin is airborne. Chin is going to die.
But he doesn't. The blond rescuer catches him one-armed, mid-air. I don't even realize I'd stopped breathing until my lungs start to burn and I heave a sigh of relief as Chin, the boy and the man who saved their lives are winched back up to the ship.
Down comes the copper-haired man again, this time for Kono and the mother. The woman is sobbing hysterically, reaching up toward the heavens as if she can magically transport herself to her children. She dares a look in my direction and sees her dead husband and begins to scream and scrabble to get five feet away to where I am.
But there are quiet words the man speaks to her as Kono eyes me with a look of fear on her face. I know her fear is for me, not for her, and I smile and wink to reassure her. After all, I'd survived a decade serving my country and nearly two decades leading the Five-0 task force. A little mudslide wasn't going to get me.
She hardly seems reassured, if the look on her face is any indication, but the copper-haired man has calmed the wife and now reaches out to Kono. With one last look at me, she wraps her arms around his neck just like the mother's now done, and my eyes lock with the rescuer's. His seem to be trying to tell me I'll make it.
My grip on the husband is slipping, but I'm determined to bring him back with us. The family has lost their father, but the least I can do for them is make sure they have someone to honor for his heroism in giving his life for that of his son. I suppose Danny's right that I have had father-related issues since I listened to my own die all those years ago. But maybe it's just that I have an understanding of how painful it is to lose your parents way too soon.
Danny's are still alive, though, and they treat me like I'm a Williams, and anymore I don't necessarily go off on a Don Quixote mission just because there's a father or son involved. Not like I used to. Still, there's no reason not to do everything I can to bring this particular father home one more time.
I feel the root I'm clinging to start to give. The more sodden it gets, the looser and more pliant it becomes. I know it won't hold me for much longer and for the first time in a long, long time, I have the fleeting thought that maybe this is the time I'll finally go in the line of duty. Danny would shoot me, and the thought causes me to grin even as the root gives yet another inch. He's always threatening to kill me if I die. It makes sense in only the way he can.
I chance a look up and I see both the blond and copper-haired rescuers on a tandem line. They must have figured the dead man and I would be too difficult for one of them to bring up alone, so they'd come together. It made sound tactical sense and as I watched their communications back and forth, their hand signals as they descended, the way they held themselves…I wondered if these two – or maybe the entirety of International Rescue – have military backgrounds.
I resolve to ask once we've reached the safety of their ship, because while I remember hearing how secretive they are, I don't suppose asking will hurt. And I just want to know. Are they former Navy? Marines? Air Force, maybe? Former SEALs? I find it ironic as the root gives another inch, that I'm more concerned about whether these men are military brothers to me than I am about whether I'm about to die.
"I'm Gordon!" the copper-haired one shouts over the wind and pelting rain. "He's John!"
I nod. "Steve," I say, getting a nod from both of them. I use one arm to lift the man as high as I can, but my muscles are tired from holding him for so long, and I can't get him very high up at all. It doesn't seem to matter, though, because Gordon gets the man strapped to him fairly easily even without my help.
As soon as the man's out of my grip, I feel a weariness set in that surprises me. I suppose it shouldn't; after all, I'm in my fifties now. Still as fit as I ever was, but even I've noticed that just a fraction of my former days-long endurance for situations like this has left me. Danny teases that I'm getting soft in my old age. Until I remind him what the malasadas started doing to him before I forbade him from ever having more than one bite a week until the day he dies.
I think that was probably my favorite argument of all time. Not just because I won, but because four years later, he thanked me for him not having a soft gut.
The man named John holds his arms out to me, but in the very moment where I'm about to reach my free hand up to his, I feel the Parkia root break clean through. My heart thuds erratically as that hot-cold-tingly feeling I've felt so many times before on missions and in sticky situations whooshes through my body from head to toe. My hair stands on end, my breath leaves me and my stomach flips, seems to fly up into my chest and then slides sickeningly to my feet. Because I'm falling, and there's no way even Grace's Super SEAL can survive a two hundred-foot drop like the one I'm over.
My mind flashes to apologizing to that girl who's not so little anymore. Then to Danny for leaving him behind to run Five-0 – a job I know he doesn't ever want. To Chin, who promised to show me the latest technical marvel that he swears will make our cases easier to solve through voice interface from our cars. To Kono, who hasn't been a rookie for a long, long time, but still loves it when I call her that.
And then I think to my mom and dad, that I'm coming to see them. And wonder when exactly it was I'd started believing in Heaven, or in seeing loved ones in whatever afterlife there might be. I suppose it's fitting, as my foot leaves the last bit of solid ground it was sliding along, that Hawaii itself would kill me. Danny's sure to rant to the empty house for a great many years about that, and the thought almost makes me laugh out loud. He would, and I know it.
Before another thought can come to mind, though, I feel something clutch at the fabric of my long-sleeved open-button shirt. It jerks my arm and shoulder painfully. I grit my teeth against it, not understanding what's happened for a few seconds until I hear a voice shout my name. I look up. It's John. Somehow he's lower than Gordon on the tandem line, and is clutching my shirt with one hand.
Clearly there's not enough leverage for him to haul me up by it. So I swing my left arm up, but our hands miss. I try again and that's when a huge gust of wind buffets the green aircraft above, in turn causing Gordon and John to jerk and sway beneath it. The movement is just enough that I can reach up and cling to John's leg. I pull my right arm out of my sleeve and now have both arms wrapped around his thighs.
He reaches down, puts his forearms under my arms and lifts as my hands grab fistfuls of his uniform on the way up to help my ascent. Just like that, our soaking wet faces, hair plastered down over our foreheads, are nose-to-nose. I grin and he flashes me a smile in return.
I feel the winches start to pull us up. Gordon and John share a look and in that moment I recognize something between them. Recognize it, because I feel it with each and every one of my team. These men are family, whether they're related by blood or not.
And the family that is International Rescue, has just saved my family…my ohana.
I never do ask them about whether they used to be military. In fact, I never even get to thank them. But when Five-0 finally gets to solid ground in the parking lot of a hospital, the four of us meet, put our arms around each other's shoulders, and share a moment with our heads bowed together.
We're silently thanking whatever deities we believe in that we're still alive. We're silently reaffirming to each other that we're still alive. We've done it so many times before over the years. It's just become a way to ground ourselves and put ourselves back together after a harrowing experience.
But this time seems more special somehow. Because I know that there's another ohana out there who are risking their lives to save people they don't…and probably will never…know. It somehow makes us kindred in what we do, although admittedly not in how we do it.
In that moment, when I thought I was going to die, I thought of my family. Now every time I hear about the feats of International Rescue, I'll think of theirs, too.