Disclaimer: All rights and characters are the property of Leonard Freeman and CBS.
*This fic is for Hisbabygirl011. Thanks for encouraging me to write my own H5O story!
Long Distance Family
Life, Danny decided as he swiveled in his desk chair, just wasn't the same without Steve around.
Oh sure, it was a lot better for Danny's health –both physically and mentally- and he was ecstatic to finally be driving his own car again, but it wasn't the same. The safe, by-the-book busts that had gone down recently had been a bit boring compared to the out of control danger rides Danny almost always complained about (with the exception of an almost worldwide smallpox disaster). And while it was great to be behind the wheel of his baby every day, it was also horribly quiet while on the road.
Even with his -yes, his- favorite tunes blaring from the speakers. Ozzy, Skynyrd, Aerosmith, AC/DC… none of them could fill the quietness Danny still somehow heard while driving.
Spending time with Chin Ho and Kono wasn't the same, either, because Steve's absence seemed to be more evident when the three of them were together. Their complimentary reserved tables at their favorite hang-outs always came with four chairs, and it was difficult for them to not glance over at the one vacant seat at least once. However, none of them were willing to let the absence affect their ability to do their job despite the fact that it was Danny who now took calls from the Governor and assumed the lead during Five-O's cases. For the three of them, it was simply business as usual.
But it wasn't the same.
A knock at his office door pulled Danny out of his thoughts and he looked up just as Chin Ho poked his head inside. "Hey, you almost ready to get out of here?"
Danny blinked. He hadn't even noticed that the sunlight had just about vanished from the entire interior of headquarters. In fact, he could just barely make out the dark blue shirt and jeans that Chin was wearing.
Some detective you're being today, Danny told himself. Then he rubbed his eyes and replied with, "Yeah, I wasn't doing much anyway, just…thinking."
Chin gave him a knowing look. "Steve?"
"Who else could drive me this bonkers without even being present?"
They both chuckled at that statement and Chin stepped all the way into the room. "Still no word from him, then?"
"Not a damn peep. How 'bout you?"
"Nothing. It's the same for Kono, too." Chin Ho paused. "She's trying hard to be more angry about it than worried, though."
Yeah, Danny knew how that felt. "Then let's take her someplace where she can be angry," he proposed, grabbing his keys and rising from his chair. "You got any suggestions?"
Chin's tone turned playful. "I might. How do you feel about being a practice dummy?"
Danny froze halfway around his desk. "Er, well…"
His office phone rang, effectively cutting off any possible further reply. Not sure if he should be annoyed or relieved, Danny walked back behind his desk, turned on his lamp and then looked down at the phone's caller i.d. screen.
He didn't recognize the number.
"Who is it?" Chin asked as he made his way over.
"Don't know," Danny replied. "You know any number that begins with three zeros?"
Chin Ho leaned toward the phone and studied the screen. Danny watched and waited.
"No," Chin finally answered, "I don't."
The sound of a throat clearing came from the door and both men turned to find Kono there.
"Are either of you planning to get that?" She asked, folding her pink-sleeved arms across her chest. "'Cause you know, it's only on its seventh ring and hey, we're only Five-O, right?"
Danny immediately sat down and reached for the receiver.
No way was he going to be a practice dummy.
MT. FUJI, JAPAN
"Five-O, Detective Danny Williams."
Steve closed his eyes at the voice and tried to picture his partner. Danny was probably sitting in his chair, with the lamp on, dressed in either a white or gray button up shirt. He would probably look tired or maybe even a little sunburned, depending on what the day's events had demanded from the team.
"Hello?" He heard Danny's voice say. "Is anyone out there? Speak, please."
This was a crazy idea and Steve knew it. Now definitely wasn't the place for it and it sure as hell wasn't the time…
"Listen scumbag, I've had my fill of jerks who didn't want to talk today so if you don't open your mouth and speak I'm gonna have to-"
"Hey, Danno," Steve interrupted softly.
Silence. Steve wasn't too surprised by it so he burrowed himself further down into the mud he was using as camouflage and waited.
He didn't have to wait long. "You son of a bitch."
Steve couldn't stop the smile that spread across his mud-masked face. "I miss you, too, Babe. Been thinking about you the whole time."
"You think that's funny? You think skipping out on your whole team and leaving me to deal with the governor's ass only to call with stupid crap like this is- hey, wait!"
Steve heard scuffling on the other end of the phone and then Danny's voice continued with, "Dammit, hang on, Chin, hang on! He deserves to get reamed for this first! Hey, don't!"
Something that sounded suspiciously like a yelp filled Steve's ear and a moment later, Chin Ho's voice replaced it. "Steve?"
"Yeah, it's me."
There was a short pause before Chin said, "Why are you whispering? Are you all right?"
Damn. Steve hesitated and took a quick look around him. Still nothing but a forest of trees and brush. "Yeah, but I don't have that much time to talk. Is Kono there, too? Put me on speaker."
A couple of clicks indicated Chin's obedience and moment later, he said, "You've got all of us, Brah."
"Hi Boss," Kono's voice added. "You ready to come home yet? The waves miss you."
The image of a perfect five-foot breaker assaulted Steve's imagination and he had to take a deep breath. Suddenly, the SAT phone he had stolen from one of his would-be captors felt a lot heavier in his hand. "How have you guys been?"
There was another pause, and Steve could just see the looks the three of them were probably sharing in response to his refusal in answering Kono's question. He didn't like making them suspicious or, worse yet, worried, but he hadn't risked a call to his family to just waste it with what could turn out to be false promises or reassurances
Luckily, Chin seemed to pick up on Steve's concern. "We're all good. Behaving ourselves, playing nice with the kids in HPD, you know how it is."
"We also had a huge case last week," Kono said. "This doctor was out threatening the world with a small pox epidemic. We ended up involved in a joint investigation with NCIS in Los Angeles in order to find and stop her. Sam says hello, by the way."
"And that I still owe him a steak dinner, right?" Steve asked, grinning.
"He might have mentioned that at some point, yeah," Chin answered.
Before Steve could reply, Danny's voice suddenly spoke up with, "What happened to your phone?"
The abrupt question caught Steve a little off-guard. "What?"
"Your phone," Danny repeated impatiently. "What happened to it? And just where are you calling us from?"
The questions made Steve look around him again. He still couldn't see or hear anyone through the surrounding trees, but something told him that his luck wasn't going to hold out. The sensible thing to do would be to get out of the mud and keep moving in order to put as much space between himself and his pursuers as possible. An even more sensible thing would be to just hang up. In fact, his survival instincts had been telling him to do that the whole time but…
"Lost it," he told Danny. "But I had already emptied it of its info. I've still got the SIM card on me, though. And I'm calling from a SAT phone that I had to steal."
"That explains why we didn't recognize the number," Chin Ho mused.
"Wait, do I even want to know why you killed your own phone and then had to steal another?" Danny questioned.
"No," Steve told him.
"Of course I don't. What was I thinking?"
Steve's laughter was almost too quiet for the team to hear and Danny shared a look with Kono and Chin. He could tell that they were all thinking the same thing: What was going on and what could they do to help?
But Steve wouldn't cop to anything. That was something else Danny knew they all knew.
A long silence followed. Finally, Steve said, "What else? Chin, how's Malia?"
"She's great," Chin replied, moving to sit on Danny's desk. "We're planning to spend a weekend on Maui for Christmas. It's where we had our first vacation together."
"I remember you telling me. Sounds nice. Kono? Anything new?"
"Nope," she replied quickly. "It's still pretty much just family, work, surfing and food. Same old stuff, Boss."
"What, no ass-kicking?"
She smiled. "I said 'work', didn't I?"
"There may also be a guy she's not mentioning," Chin added, raising his eyebrows at his cousin.
"Chin!" she hissed.
"A guy?" Danny repeated. This was certainly news to him. Unless… "You mean Fong?"
Kono raised both of her hands and took a step back. "I'm not saying anything so drop it, okay?"
"So it is Fong?" Danny pressed.
Kono glared at him. "Drop it, Brah."
This time Danny raised his hands. "Okay, okay, I'm dropping it, see?" He pointed down. "It's on the floor. Dead. Not moving, not breathing, dead."
So did Steve. Then he said, "Don't stop, I'm enjoying this."
"I know you are," Danny grumbled.
That made them all laugh…until Steve abruptly cut his off and became silent.
Chin was the first to notice. "Steve?"
He didn't answer, but the sound of his breathing continued and Danny could tell that it had become a little faster. "Steve, you okay, buddy?"
Again, no answer. Danny glanced at the cousins and was sure that his expression was just as tense and worried as theirs. Then all of a sudden, Steve's voice came back with, "Yeah, I'm fine. Listen, I have to go. And if you talk to Mary before I do…tell her I love her, okay?"
"Tell her yourself when you talk to her," Kono replied. It sounded like an order, but Danny saw her bite her lip out of nervousness. "And stay safe, okay? Because Mary isn't the only one who loves you. We do, too."
"I do," Kono told him firmly before glancing at her cousin. "Chin does, too. Right?"
"Right," Chin replied. "Be careful, Steve. Call if you need anything, okay? We'll be waiting."
"Thanks, Chin." Steve paused, then, "Danno?"
MT. FUJI, JAPAN
The faint sound of footsteps on the ground and breaking through brush was slowly getting closer. Steve remained still for another few seconds before finally moving backward out of his mud hole and then crouching behind a thick tree.
"Danno?" he repeated in a low whisper. "You still with me?"
He needed to hang up. The call signal was how they had found him, just as Steve had suspected it would be. He had to cut the conversation, pocket the phone and keep moving. Simple. Necessary.
But he couldn't. Not yet. Dammit, why wasn't Danny answering him?
Steve moved the phone away from his ear and looked down at the 'End' button. One traitorous finger hovered over it for a moment before he quickly pressed the phone back against the side of his head. "Say hi to Gracie for me. You'll do that, won't you?"
He scouted another tree and quickly made his way over and behind it. The mud had started to dry and was now itching along his face and neck. It wouldn't be too long now before the rest of his body followed suit. Not ideal at all for his current situation.
"I will," Danny's voice said suddenly. Too suddenly, for Steve nearly dropped the phone in surprise. But he made sure to keep a firm grip as Danny continued with, "And like Chin said, call if you need us. We're here."
Steve leaned his head back against the tree. "Thanks, partner."
"Yeah, you're welcome. And Steve?"
"…Danno loves you, too."
Another click sounded and dead air filled Steve's ear.
It took a couple of precious seconds before he gathered himself and hung up. He felt a hell of a lot lighter and much more focused.
Family had a way of doing that to you.
He carefully tucked their preceding conversation into the back of his mind and listened again for the footsteps. Sure enough, they were still getting closer.
Steve took another deep breath and started moving.