Track down this murderer, he must be found!
Danny got to the door first, tried the knob and it gave under his hand. He kicked it the rest of the way open, gun drawn, only to find…
Hounded out by everyone!
The cousins rushed into the room and flanked him.
Met with hatred everywhere!
Their jaws dropped.
No kind words from anyone!
"Steve?" Chin said tentatively as he stared down at the floor.
No compassion anywhere!
All they saw was a person covered completely by a long, black cape, a black hat off to the side about two feet from bodies one atop the other, and two bare feet poking out from beneath the cape. But the thing that made them take pause was the combination of the handle of a dagger sticking out of the black cape, and the most grotesquely disfigured face turned toward them, eyelids closed, they had ever seen in their lives.
Danny and Kono lunged forward, grabbed the caped body and hauled it off what turned out to be their task force leader.
Take her, forget me, forget all of this…
A man who, at this very moment, was quite naked from the waist on down. Save for the ropes that were cutting into his flesh, the dried blood and the—
Kono gagged and grabbed her shirt to cover up her mouth and nose.
Chin stepped up to catch the left side of the drooping, panting Phantom when Danny unceremoniously let him go and fell to his knees at his partner's side, gun clattering to the floor. "Steve?" he breathed.
Leave me alone, forget all you've seen…
Steve was facing away from them, ass bared for all the world to see. His arms and legs were unnaturally white. He was completely bound by a very rough rope from neck to ankles, and he wasn't moving.
SWAT burst into the room as the Phantom sagged and finally fell completely between the cousins. "Get him outside," Chin ordered. Reeves nodded, gesturing to the three of his men who'd followed him in to pick up the seemingly dead man and haul him away.
Go now! Don't let them find you!
"We got this," Danny said when he turned and looked up to find Reeves was still there.
Take the boat, leave me here, go now, don't wait…
"Yes, sir," Reeves said with a small salute, and then he disappeared out the door.
Just take her and go, before it's too late…
"Is he-?" Kono asked hesitantly.
Danny's fingers were already searching for Steve's pulse on his neck. The sudden slump of his shoulders and exhalation of a held breath told the cousins all they needed to know.
"Thank God," Kono breathed.
GO NOW AND LEAVE ME!
"Somebody shut that goddamn thing off!" Danny hollered as he turned and curled over his partner's prone form. "Steve? Hey, Steve, you with me?"
He got a groan in response.
He'd take it.
Kono turned off the CD player.
"Guys, can one of you get the duffel out of my trunk?" Danny asked, hands resting on Steve's arm. "And anyone got a knife?"
"I've got one," Chin said, pulling a small Swiss Army Knife out of his pocket and pulling out the largest blade. "Here," he said, handing it over. "Come on, Kono," he continued. "Let's go get that bag and see how our real-life Phantom's doing."
"We'll send the medics," Kono said as they exited the room.
Steve swallowed hard and managed to open his eyes. He looked askance to his right, saw Danny leaning over him from behind and managed a small smile. "You said…" he panted. "You said you were coming."
Danny huffed out a half-sob, half-laugh. "Only you could become the heroine in a Hawaiian Phantom remake," he managed to get out without it sounding too choked.
His shirt sopping wet by now, Danny felt sweat trickling down his face but couldn't bring himself to let go of his partner long enough wipe it away. "I'm going to cut you out of this, buddy, but it's going to hurt."
Steve coughed once. "Can't be…worse than…" His voice trailed off.
Danny laid his hand on Steve's bicep. "Stay with me, huh?"
"Said that already," Steve mumbled.
Danny took a deep breath, knife poised to begin cutting through the rope. He very nearly threw up from the stench in the room. It took a moment for him to get his flipping stomach under control. "Talk about ripe," he growled, suppressing his gag reflex as he got another good whiff of his partner while he began to cut.
"What-exactly-is-your point?" Steve panted, obviously in a good deal of pain from whatever it was on his side that had bled through his bright blue tee shirt. Danny's fingertips touched the spot gently, then he returned to cutting the ropes. "He shot me," Steve whispered.
"I can see that," Danny replied as he continued sawing on the rope that was currently slicing into the skin just beneath the sleeve of Steve's shirt. "I never smell this bad." Danny grunted as he made it through that first rope and reached around Steve, holding his breath of course, to pull the rough-feeling rope out from under his back. "You are the ripest fruit by far."
Steve seemed to wake up a little more. "Are you…calling me…a fruit, Danny?"
Danny snorted, then coughed when the stench assaulted his nose and throat. "Hardly." He reconsidered that as he reached over his shoulders, right by Steve's face, to pull at the rope again. "Well, maybe a pineapple."
"I ssssstill say you're the ripessssst fruit," Steve slurred into his partner's armpit. "You ssst—st—stink!" Then Steve gasped and arched backward, tears trickling out of his eyes.
Danny reared back and laid his hand on Steve's cheek. "Hey, stay with me. I've almost got you free, okay?"
Steve's eyelids drooped. He blinked but manage a half-hearted ghost of a smile, so Danny went back to work on the rope, using the knife to continue sawing through the second knot holding his partner's wrists far too tightly at the small of his back.
"How'd the knife get in his back with you all tied up like this?" Danny asked, genuinely curious.
"Grabbed it and got him…" Steve coughed and pain flashed across his features as he ground out, "With my teeth."
"Your…teeth?" Danny asked. "How can you…I don't even…of course with your teeth." Danny continued working on the ropes. "Only you, Steven. Jesus Christ."
"By the way," Steve said, voice nearly gone by this point, "meant to tell you…"
"You're too old to be a Twink."
Danny's eyes widened. He glared down at Steve, who was smiling as his eyelids fluttered closed. "Damn Kono and her big mouth. You know, for that I should just leave you here to stew in your own...well...juices."
Danny stopped, his earlier self-flagellations coming back to haunt him. But then he just grinned. Because this? This was what they were all about, this…what was it, bantering? Bullshitting? Whatever it was, it felt right. Normal.
And because Steve was alive to banter back, it felt goddamn good.
Steve let out a couple of slow breaths, smile fading a bit as he replied, "C-Can't leave me here, D." His breath came a little faster. "Need a shower."
"No kidding," Danny agreed, returning to saw on the rope. "And one that lasts more than three minutes."
"Gonn—gonna help me?"
The knife finally made it through the rope and Steve couldn't keep from crying out as his arms and shoulders protested their sudden movement. Danny heard cartilage pop and winced sympathetically.
"You wish," Danny whispered, slowly helping Steve sit upright, so careful not to touch his limbs. He looked Steve in the eye and his own eyes crinkled at the corners just to be seeing him alive and in one piece. "And you wonder why people think we're married."
"If thassa proposallll," Steve said, listing forward until Danny's hands landed palm-flat on his chest to keep him upright, "I coulda d-done better."
With that, Steve lost consciousness. Danny barely managed to catch him one-armed to keep him from falling sideways. He shook his head and sighed as Chin came pounding through the door with the duffel bag. "God, you stink," he groused to the unconscious man leaning fully against him. "So the ripest fruit in the room."
Chin rolled his eyes as he handed Danny the bag, then turned and left the room, a broad grin on his face.
The thing of it was, Danny had never smelled something so putrid and yet so wonderful in all his life, and yes, he realized how sick, twisted and wrong that sounded. He pulled a spare pair of Steve's pants out of the bag and finished unwinding the rope from Steve's legs. Then he grunted, sweat just soaking him through and through, as he slid Steve's pants up first one "stupidly long, Jesus Christ" leg and then the other. Yes, Steve needed medical attention. But Steve also needed his dignity, something Danny knew he would be desperate for if their positions were reversed.
As he got the pants pulled up over Steve's hips and all the buttoning and zipping done, Danny made a promise to both of them silently within his mind: he was never letting his partner go anywhere alone ever again.
Except maybe to the bathroom. Because there was only so much a guy could be expected to help even his best friend with, after all.
"Why in the world are you taking me and Grace to Kaneohe?" Steve asked for about the tenth time since Danny, his Camaro and his daughter had picked Steve up from the McGarrett residence.
"Uncle Steve, you're worse than I am!" came a giggling voice from the backseat.
Steve twisted around in the seat, grimacing only a little – a fact which did not go unobserved by his partner, of course – and grinned at the little girl.
"She's right," Danny groused, unable to quite keep the smile from his face. "You are, you overgrown child, now turn back around before you tear those stitches again."
Steve managed a very good pout but dutifully followed orders as they slowed on Kahekili Highway. Danny turned his left blinker on.
"Oh, my God," Steve breathed as they looped around Ala Koolau. "Are you taking me where I think you're taking me?"
Danny glanced sidelong at him. "No, Steven, I'm sorry, I couldn't get tickets to Rambo, The Musical."
Grace laughed out loud from the back while Steve threw Danny the stink-eye.
Cars were lined up, slowly moving forward as one by one a valet helped each vehicle's occupants out, took the wheel and pulled away.
"It's the Paliku Theatre," Steve said, wide-eyed. "I haven't been here since I was a kid."
"I know," Danny said, and Steve's head whipped around to stare at him. "All right, we're up. Come on, Monkey, get out on Uncle Steve's side."
"Okay, Daddy," Grace said, her deep purple velvet dress swishing around her as Steve slowly got his tuxedo-clad self out of the passenger seat, then scooted the seat forward and offered Grace his hand.
Danny watched from the sidewalk as his daughter's small hand disappeared in Steve's. Gracefully she stepped out of the car, her white lace-trimmed socks and black patent leather shoes completing an ensemble which saw her hair long, straight and flowing down past her shoulders and the velvet dress's chest trimmed also with white lace.
"You look beautiful tonight, Miss Grace," Steve said, bowing only just a little and kissing the back of her hand.
Grace giggled, turned very pink indeed and glanced up to find her Danno rolling his eyes. "Come on, you're making more of a spectacle of yourself than usual," he groused, waving his hand toward Steve as he fully righted himself.
"Hey, guys, wait up!" a familiar voice called from down the sidewalk a ways.
Steve turned in surprise. "Mary? What are you doing here?"
"Came in last night," she said, wrapping an arm around Danny's shoulders and giving him a swift kiss on the cheek, "thanks to this guy."
Danny grinned. Steve looked perplexed as Mary very carefully hugged him and gave him a kiss, too.
"Look at you two in your tuxes, aren't you cute?" she commented and Grace nodded her agreement.
"Cute, she says, swear to God," Danny muttered as Steve fell into step beside him.
"I like your dress, Aunt Mary. I almost wore pink, too, but Mom liked this purple one better."
"Thanks! You look like a princess," Mary replied.
"That she does," Danny nodded.
It was only when they got to the front entry that Steve finally realized what was going on and why they – and a couple hundred other people – were there to begin with.
Danny swallowed hard as Steve took in the black sign with white letters, a single red rose…and a white half-mask that was hung over the theatre's doorway. "Yeah?" Danny finally asked when Steve turned to look at him. He was feeling the fight-or-flight response, so unsure of himself in this handful of seconds.
But words wouldn't come to the man who was only three weeks out of the hospital and still not yet cleared for active duty by his doctors. Mary came up on Steve's left side and grabbed his hand. Grace came up on his right side and did the same, clasping her father's hand on the other side as well. Steve looked at each of ladies, then back at Danny. At last, he nodded.
Danny huffed out a breath he hadn't been aware of holding. "Well, come on, or you'll make us late," he said gruffly, leading the way into the theatre.
"I haven't seen Phantom of the Opera since LA," Steve whispered as Mary and Grace flanked him into the building.
"I know," Mary said softly. "Me too. That's why when Danny called and asked, I said yeah." She stopped as they waited for Danny to hand an usher their tickets. "You okay with this? He was really worried it wasn't the right thing after…you know," she finished with a bob of her head.
Steve nodded. "Yeah, I'm okay with this," he replied.
The usher gestured for them to follow and led them to their seats: second row back from the stage, front and center.
Seated next to each other, Grace and Mary excitedly perused the programs they'd been handed, oohing and aahing over some of the ads and photos of the cast members they found.
Seated beside his daughter, Danny watched like a hawk as Steve gingerly lowered himself into the seat next to him. His right hand was gripping the armrest between them far too hard for Danny's liking. "Maybe it's too soon," Danny leaned over and whispered into Steve's ear.
Steve shook his head no.
"This is the last night of the Hawaii run, I was afraid we'd miss it," Danny continued.
"S'okay, Danny, s'all good," Steve said, taking a slow and deep breath, and then exhaling just as slowly. "I'm good."
They sat in silence until the theatre lights dimmed once…twice. Grace and Mary whispered excitedly, with Mary telling Grace she could hardly remember anything from the last time she'd seen this as a kid, and Grace saying she hoped the Phantom met the same fate in the end as Uncle Steve's had. Well, as far as Grace knew the bad guy was in jail. Danny saw no need to tell her he'd been shipped off to the clinically criminally insane ward of a mainland hospital.
Steve heard Grace's remark and smiled across his partner at the little girl just as the lights went off completely. Then he heard a loud sniff coming from right next to him. "What's the matter with you?" he asked Danny.
"You smell," Danny whispered.
Steve turned and looked at him in the darkness just as the orchestra began to play. "Yeah, like aftershave," he replied, smoothing one hand down the cheek nearest Danny. "Smooth as a baby's—"
Danny's hand clamped tightly over his partner's mouth. "Not in front of my daughter," he hissed, music swelling in the pit two rows behind them. "Okay?"
Steve nodded yes, so Danny removed his hand. "Anyway," Danny said, straightening his jacket and leaning closer so Steve could hear him above the music, "that's not the smell I meant."
Giving him a look that said he knew he was going to regret this, Steve finally leaned over, put his mouth to Danny's ear and said, "Okay, I'll bite. What do I smell like this time?"
Danny flashed him a huge, shit-eating grin at the same time as he shrugged. "An overripe pineapple."
"Danny!" Steve whispered fiercely. And just as the music cut off, continued, "I am not a fruit!"
Every head in the theatre turned their way. Mary started laughing hysterically. Grace facepalmed and sank down as far into her chair as she could.
And for the rest of their days as the infamously famous Five-0 partners (who may or may not have been fruit (ripe or otherwise) and may or may not, according to whichever gossip site you read, have been living together - quite possibly even married, so sayeth The National Enquirer) Danny Williams and Steve McGarrett never did quite live down the incident which came to be known, both on the editorial page of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and in Five-0 Lore, as:
THE 5-0 PINEAPPLE PAIR AND OTHER NATIVE HAWAIIAN FRUITS
Author's Note: Thank you everyone for sticking with me through this! I have no clue where these weird ideas come from, I'm just glad the Five-0 team (and Grace, and Mary) are willing to play along for the sake of my (in)sanity.
Shameless Self-Promotion: I always have to do it at the end, so just skip this part if you already know I have an original novel published, too...so if you like my writing, check it out! It's only $2.99 (US) on both Amazon DOT com and Smashwords DOT com. Just search for Takers Chris Davis and you'll find it. You can download it in many formats, including ones you can read right here from your computer screen like you do my fanfic! Thanks a bunch, and thank you everyone for your continued support!