Chapter 2

The Next Day, Danny's Apartment

Danny dropped the wet towel into the whicker hamper next to the shower and looked down at his soaked and miserable looking cat. Poppet, and boy was he going to have to come up with a better name, had not been pleased about the bath at first. So, Danny was thankful the cat had not clawed his arms up trying to get out of the water. Fortunately once Danny had started to work in the shampoo, washing out the oil and grease, the cat had calmed down and just went limp in his arms, making all manner of happy noises as Danny's fingers combed gently through his hair.

Washing the cat Danny had realized that it was also much too light and he could feel the rubs beneath his fingers. He had seen similar back in Newark when he would occasionally go with the SPCA to get animals out of abusive homes. He didn't think Steve's dad was the one who abused Poppet. He couldn't picture the man Meka talked about like he was some kind of Superhero, hurting an innocent animal. No, Danny was of the opinion that John McGarrett had likely rescued his furry new friend and had been murdered before Poppet had put on any decent weight.

Danny sighed, pushing his hands back along the sides of his hair as he watched the bobtailed cat try to curl up near the little spot of sun coming in through the small window. Smiling, Danny grabbed the towel and carefully lifted Poppet up into his arms, gently rubbing the towel over the still wet, shaking body.

"We'll get you dried off and warmed back up. Give it a couple more days and we'll have you fattened back up to a healthy weight."

Poppet mewed and pressed his face into shoulder. Danny smiled again and scratched behind one of Poppet's large ears. Outside the rain was coming down heavy, blocking out the bright Hawaiian sun. These sudden downpours still surprised Danny, even after the months he'd been on the island. He wasn't sure he'd ever get used to it. Shaking his head at the window where it looked like a waterfall was pouring down from the floor above, Danny walked out of the bathroom and headed back to the front room and the pull-out couch.

Settling into the lumpy and battered old couch, Danny finished drying off his cat before leaning back into the couch. Letting out a long breath he stared up at the ceiling and absent-mindedly scratched behind Poppet's ear. "I can't believe that he is actually working for the Governor." Danny scratched the cat under his chin. "Maybe I'll go to the hospital later. Maybe J-"

A loud banging against his flimsy door brought a scowl to Danny's lips. For a moment he thought about ignoring it, but the blinds were open and the windows large enough that anyone looking in would easily be able to see him. Hiding wasn't really going to be an option. Moving Poppet off his lap and onto one of his pillows, Danny got up and took the few short steps to the door, opening it just as the man outside was about to force it open. Scowling at Lt. Commander McGarrett, who was standing there looking like some kind of wet dream, all soaked in water, his shirt clinging to the plains of his body in ways only the wickedest parts of Danny's sexual fantasies would have been allowed to dream up.

"I swung by your precinct, spoke to your captain. He said you requested a wire be put on someone named Fred Doran. Tell me about him." Steve pushed his way past Danny and into the small apartment, looking all around him with greedy eyes that flickered with a hint of disgust and pity as he realized how small the apartment was.

"Come in," Danny replied to McGarrett's back, voice as thick with sarcasm as he could make it and not be told he sounded like a whiny brat.

Steve caught sight of a picture of a smiling little girl on top of a tiny end table beneath one of the large windows. The picture of Grace Danny had taken on his last weekend with her in New Jersey. "This your kid?"

Danny glared and went to grab the photo only to stop when Steve set it back down and moved to another spot in the room. "Yeah. Stunning detective work."

Danny crossed his arms and glared at the other man, who didn't seem the least bit perturbed to be intruding into another man's home without so much as a "how do you do."

"You don't actually let her stay here with you, do you?"

"What are you, huh? Nanny 911?"

Harry who had been curled up on the pillows on the pull-out sofa bed stretched and turned to watch the two men. Amused again by the easy way the fall into orbit around each other. If he had to be stuck as an Ocelot at least he had gotten taken in by Danny. Here with Danny was already much better than with Hesse, and not just because Danny wasn't a gun-smuggling psycho. Danny was giving him food (that wasn't poisoned), clean lodging, and a great deal of entertainment. Still, he would rather be human again and able to stand side-by-side with these two men and help them bring Hesse to justice.

"So, what do you know about this guy? Doran," asked Steve.

"Oh, surely you don't need my help, right?" Danny moved to take a seat on the bed, absent-mindedly scratching behind Harry's ears. Harry purred contentedly, basking in the strong touch and smirking at Steve from half open eyes.

"Enlighten me." Steve crossed his arms and stared at Danny, willing him to answer. If he would have asked, Harry would have told him that tactic wasn't going to be the right one to get what the Navy SEAL really wanted from Danny.

"He's a suspected arms dealer. Two years Maui Correctional for weapons possession. Currently a person of interest on an unrelated homicide. The weapon was never found."

"So, what's he got to do with my father's case?"

"When I ran a ballistics comparison of the bullet that your Dad was shot with, I got a hit to the Doran investigation. See I think the first thing that Hesse did when he got on the island was hook up with Doran and get a gun."

Steve looked Danny over again, eyes lingering on his broad shoulders and the hands idly stroking through Harry's fur. "Maybe Doran still knows where he is. So let's go talk to him."

Danny pushed Harry off his lap and stood up, turning to face Steve who was already halfway to the door. "Whoa, whoa, whoa. Excuse me, are you suffering from dementia? This is no longer my case."

Steve turned back to face Danny, a smirk rising the corner of his lips up. "Your captain said you transferred in from New Jersey six months ago. Your eye's are still fresh."

"You know, uh…" Danny brushed off some of Harry's fur from his tie. "I appreciate it, but my psych eval's not for six weeks."

"Fold-out bed, a single cat, no ring on your finger…You obviously moved here to be close to your daughter. Means between your visits, all you got is a cat and your job. And you take pride in the job. That's what I'm looking for."

"Yeah, but you know what? It's guys like you who think they know how to do everything better, that make my job harder."

"You got no choice, Detective. Governor gave me jurisdiction and I'm making you my partner. We're gonna get along great." Steve smirked and turned back to the door, walking out into the rain without hesitation.

Danny ran hands over his face and turned to look at the cat lounging contentedly on his pillow. "Between you and me…this is not going to end well."

Harry sighed as Danny and Steve left, leaving him trapped in the tiny apartment. He wanted to be out there with them. He needed to be with them, to protect them from Hesse and Wo Fat. But they didn't know that. They didn't know he wasn't just a pet and so they left him here. Locked in Danny's tiny apartment, with nothing to entertain himself with but a little girl's doll, a small pile of dirty clothes, a well worn paperback mystery, and a Hello Kitty laptop. Why Danny had a pink laptop with a cartoon cat on it Harry didn't know, (Hell, Harry wished he didn't know who Hello Kitty was, he did have a god daughter though and she loved the stupid cat) but he was guessing it belonged to Danny's daughter.

Yawning he lazily stretched his body out, tail up in the air and chest down before having another long yawn. Stretching out the other direction, head up, tail down, Harry flicked the stress of the day away. Looking about the room he jumped quietly off the sofa-bed to the floor and padded on his little cat feet over to the table that Steve had paused beside. Looking up at it Harry calculated his jump so that he would safely land on the table without knocking over any of Danny's pictures. It wasn't as easy as it looked, but then cats had a talent for making everything look easy for them. So if any of Danny's neighbors had looked in they would have seen a rather large spotted housecat landing smoothly on the small amount of clear space on the side table, only to circle once before sitting down in front of all the framed photos, large green eyes looking over each of them carefully and with a far too intelligent gaze.

Musing over the many pictures Harry realized the little girl in most of them had Danny's smile, but likely looked more like her mother. Although… Harry looked closer at one of the other pictures and then back at the picture of Grace, maybe Grace looked a bit more like the older woman, most likely Danny's mother based on her apparent age, in the other picture behind it. The older woman in that picture had the same cheekbones and eye shape as Danny's little girl. She was a pretty little girl and Harry had to grin because even looking at just a couple of the pictures Danny had set out of her he could guess the girl was a "Daddy's girl" just based on the way she would look at Danny in the photos. Harry found himself most charmed by the picture of Grace hanging off Danny's raised arm and the one next to it of Grace sitting on Danny's shoulders. That one appeared to be the most recent since it looked like they were at one of Hawaii's many beaches.

Feeling a bit more relaxed Harry jumped off the table and spent another twenty minutes pacing out the apartment, mapping out any possible escapes routes he could squeeze through in this form. There were a few spots he should be able to get out through and there was at east one loose wall board he could squeeze through which opened into a bit of space between the walls. It wasn't a comfy fit but it could do as a make-shift hiding spot if needed, and if he really wanted he could probably open a hole into the other side of the wall. But that would put Danny at risk if the neighbor found out.

Hissing at himself, Harry backed out of the wall and looked down at his dusty fur. Instinct was telling him to lick it off, but the human part of his brain did not relish the idea even a little bit. There were far more important things to be doing right now than giving himself a bath. For one, his bladder had a pressing need to be emptied and for another he still had to find some way to help protect Danny and Steve from Victor Hesse. In this form he couldn't cast any major magics, but maybe he could try a blood ward. He didn't know if it would work since he didn't have full access to his magic while trapped in this form, but he supposed he should try. After that he could try to figure out how to get Danny and Steve to understand who he was and how to stop Hesse.

Realizing that he had already started to lick his coat clean while thinking, Harry hissed again and tried to spit the dust and bits of fur off his tongue. Great. He was going to have to deal with a furball at some point now as well. If cats could scowl Harry certainly would be.

Shaking himself Harry made his way over to one of the large windows that Danny had left open a crack. Pushing at the screen, the lose edge opened allowing Harry to sneak out and drop to the ground below. Quickly looking around him, Harry was grateful to find that none of the people he had seen earlier were out and about, but feeling the mud from the flower bed below the window squeezing up between his toes might just be worse than a nosey neighbor spotting him. A neighbor at least would likely see his collar and leave him alone, but mud clung to the fur between his toes which was going to be disgusting to get rid of. Not that he wanted to be spotted, mind you. He was going to have to cut open at least one of his pads to mark out the runes that would cement the blood ward around Danny's apartment and somehow he didn't think even a Muggle would think it normal cat behavior. So maybe being spotted would be worse? He certainly didn't want to end up in the SPCA holding pens.

Glancing about nervously Harry tried to ignore the pressure of his bladder as he began to mentally plan out the wards. Not that, that helped at all. Wincing at the way his bladder squirmed in his belly, making his hips twitch, claws digging into the dirt, Harry hissed and looked back up at the window. He didn't think he could jump to the window and crawl back through the small opening without his bladder going off. Fur puffed up in irritation Harry darted to the cover of the nearest bush to relive himself. The sudden rush of fluids out of his body, reliving the uncomfortable pressure, was nearly orgasmic after trying to hold it in for the last two hours. Purring in relief Harry waited until he felt empty to kick at the beauty bark around him, trying to hide the puddle of liquid.

Harry headed back to the edge of the bush, looking out to spot one of Danny's neighbors leaving her apartment, locking the door and carefully walking to her car. After a couple minutes with no new neighbors walking by, Harry crawled out from his hiding spot and went to the front of Danny's apartment. Glancing down sadly at his paws, Harry gave a long internal sigh. This was going to hurt like a bitch and he didn't have access to any of his healing potions so he would have to wait for Danny to come back and whine until the man bandaged him up. He didn't like that. He was so used to be able to care for himself that having to wait for someone else to be available to bandage one of his wounds just sucked.

He might be stuck here and unable to help them out in the field, but he was still a man, even if he looked like an cat. Once he finished putting up the wards maybe he could sneak back inside and use the laptop computer he saw, or maybe some paper and a pencil and he could try writing out something to help them. He wasn't sure if he'd be able to do it because, really, he needed an actual thumb to write anything, but if he was lucky then maybe he could get the laptop turned on and poke around on he keys to type something a bit more legible up.

Cutting into his main paw pad with one long claw on his other front paw hurt just as much as he had thought it would. Almost as bad as a glass cut. Blood welled up quickly, dripping over the edges of his foot, sticking into his fur for a moment before more blood pooled over and dripped onto the ground at his feet.




Harry watched it form a small pool at his feet. Once it had reached the approximate size of a Galleon he opened his claws on his wounded paw and started to drag it through the blood, tracing out the rune circle he would use. Once the circle was drawn he leaned over it until his nose was almost touching. Closing his eyes he took a deep breath in through his nose and slowly opened his mouth, focusing his magic as best he could before breathing it out over the circle. As his eyes opened he caught sight of the magic dancing over the wet blood, drying it instantly and sinking into the earth.

Satisfied that the first rune layer had come out perfectly, he lifted his injured paw and headed over to the next corner. This corner was actually on the other side of the apartment sharing the wall with Danny's neighbor, but Harry doubted the old lady who lived in the apartment was up to anything nefarious. So he hardly hesitated in bleeding out again and sketching in the second rune.

It took an hour total to layer down the rest of the first layer of wards. By the time he was done he felt more than a little light headed. Swaying a bit as he moved, Harry stumbled back towards the window and his way back inside. He sat in front of the window just staring up at it. He couldn't help but think that the window had moved itself higher up the wall. Surely it hadn't been that long of a drop when he came out of the apartment.

Harry tilted his head from side to side, watching the window to see if it might move itself lower. Months, maybe minutes, or years, passed as he watched the window but eventually it crept down the side of the building until it was low enough for Harry to jump up onto the tiny ledge and tumble through the tear in the screen, dropping to the floor below. Satisfied for now that he had done his duty to Danny for taking him in, at least in part, he wobbled over to the fold out sofa bed, jumping back up onto it and collapsing into a pile of Danny's worn pajama pants.

Rubbing his head into the soft fabric, breathing in the heady, richly musky scent in the fabric, Harry let himself drift to sleep.

Wailoa Shave Ice, Oahu; Hawaii

Danny and Steve walked away from the shave ice stand where Chin was talking with his informant, an overly large Hawaiian man by the name of Kamekona. As if paying the man most of what was in his pocket wasn't enough, Steve and Danny had been forced to put on the over sized tee-shirts the man had forced them to buy, and stand over by Danny's car, shave ice in hand. It was like the walk of shame, but without any walking or the sex. Neither man was pleased by the whole thing but Steve thought Danny was far too relaxed given the humiliation they were having forced upon them. He would have thought the New Jersey native would have started to rant at Chin and Kamekona as he had ranted at Steve earlier in the day. But instead Danny was happily leaning back against his car, eating a cherry shave ice and watching the people at the beach across the street.

Steve glanced away from Danny to the little girl who was now standing in front of them, watching them.

"Are you a cop," asked the girl.

Steve blinked, startled. "No."

The girl gave him a long look, which made obvious her disbelief of his answer. "Well, you look like a cop."

Steve glanced over at Danny, who smirked at him, before kneeling in front of the little girl. Behind him the smirked slipped off Danny's face as he watched Steve approach the little girl with a curious expression. "You like cotton candy? Find your mom."

The girl glared at him, bottom lip sticking out. "I don't like cotton candy."

Danny tried not to laugh at McGarrett. It was obvious the man had never been around children before. The man had no social skills what so ever. It was like he had been raised by wolves, or maybe wild pigs since this damn island didn't even have wolves.

Deciding to take pity on the little girl, who looked like she was about ready to kick McGarrett in an unmentionable place, Danny stepped in. "I got something you might like, okay?" Danny turned and reached in through his window, pulling out the oversized pink stuffed bunny that he had bought for Grace. "How about-? How about that?"

Danny handed the bunny to the suddenly excited looking little girl. She looked up at him, her eyes widening and a smile stretching her lips as she caught sight of the stuffed animal. "Yeah, thanks!"

Danny smiled, releasing the bunny into her tiny hands. "Your welcome."

The girl smiled warmly up at Danny before running off to show her mother the stuffed animal. Steve looked in shock at Danny, who was smiling softly after the girl.

"What," Danny asked, glaring at Steve for good measure.

Laughing Chin approached them from the other side of the car, taking in the confused look on Steve's face and the amused one on Danny's. Chin smirked at Steve who blushed and glanced away only to meet Danny's smirking gaze.

Growling, Steve turned back to Chin. "You better have a name."

Later That Day, McGarrett House, Oahu

Danny smiled at Poppet as he followed Steve out of the car and back into the house where Danny had found him. Danny was starting to think the cat must have been John McGarrett's pet, rather than a wandering house cat who stumbled upon the crime scene. But as Steve had never mentioned the cat or asked for it back, Danny was left to wonder if Poppet had belonged to John McGarrett after all. So Danny was content to keep him. He was a striking cat, all black fur, with darker black spots, and the most amazingly bright green eyes. Danny wasn't sure what kind of cat he was, but based on the curled ears and bobtail, he was fairly certain it was a designer breed. One of those breeds Rachel would have spent hundreds of dollars on. So Poppet must be missed by his owner, but Danny had checked and no one reported a missing cat with his description. So that brought Danny back to the thought that Poppet belonged to Steve's dad. A little odd for a man he pictured as rather having a large dog for a pet, but sometimes you could never tell.

Of course Poppet seemed like a calm, friendly sort of cat as well, which meant he didn't need to worry about the cat attacking Grace on the weekends she spent with Danny. And surely a cat as cool looking as Poppet was better than any bunny, even with a newly bandaged paw? Speaking of, Danny couldn't help but wonder how the cat hurt himself. Danny couldn't find any bloodstains inside other than a few spots on his pajama pants, where Poppet had been sleeping. Maybe the wound was from before and just reopened?

Danny opened the door, letting Poppet go in first so that he wouldn't trip over the cat. "You," Danny called out as he spotted Steve. "Spoke to Chin, he's setting up the meet with Sang Min."

Steve looked up from his laptop, glancing between Danny and the box he carried to the cat that had preceded him into the house. Poppet jumped up onto the back of the leather recliner and stared at Steve, making Steve shiver a bit. There was something in the cat's eyes that seemed far too intelligent for an animal.

"I got that surveillance equipment you asked for."

Steve looked away from the cat and back to Danny. "And a cat too."

Danny rolled his eyes and set the box on the table next to the laptop. "He needed to be fed and God only knows how long we'll be on this case. I couldn't just leave him in the apartment alone all night and day."

Steve looked back at the laptop and the face in the grainy black and white photo on the screen. "You recognize this guy?"

Danny leaned over looking at the screen. "No. Who is it?"

"Jovan Etienne." Steve and Danny both startled and spun to face the cat who was glaring at the screen, hissing, his fur all on end. Raising an eyebrow at Danny, who shrugged just as confused as Steve by the behavior. Deciding to just ignore the cat Steve turned back to the laptop. "File says he worked for the Russians as a computer programmer in the SVR. He was here when my father was murdered. I found his palm prints in the study, partial boot prints in here."

"Wait, how do you know the boot prints didn't belong to Hesse?"

"Hesse wears a Size 11 like me, except double E. The prints I found were smaller. Hesse gets his footwork custom made. Direct-injected polyurethane midsole with a natural all-rubber outsole."

Harry, who had calmed himself down, looked up from where he was licking his back leg, surprised by how well John's son knew Victor Hesse. Harry had been following the man for four years, almost five and he couldn't even spout all that off the top of his head. Although, Harry could tell you Victor's favorite brand of tea, beer and coffee, his favorite restaurants in six different countries and the name of the last two woman (and one man) he had slept with. Still Harry had never really paid much attention to what the man wore for shoes. It hadn't ever seemed that important a fact to focus on, but hearing Steve talk made him realize that Harry had been dismissing a vital bit of information that could have told him so much more about his prey.

"Oh. Your, uh, brain must be a miserable place." Danny shook his head at Steve, shared a look with Poppet, who strangely enough looked almost amused, if an animal could look that way, and wandered back towards the kitchen. "I need a beer."

Steve sighed and watched Danny wander off before glancing back at the cat who was still watching him. The look in the cat's eyes still bothered him a bit but he didn't think Danny would have brought it over if it was likely to attack him out of the blue. Licking his lips nervously, Steve walked out of the room towards the kitchen, his eyes not leaving the cat. He wondered briefly if Danny's cat was the same one who had left bloody paw prints in the house. No, Danny didn't seem like the kind of guy who would bring an animal to the crime scene that could damage evidence.

Danny wasn't in the kitchen when Steve entered but he could hear the man wandering around in the nearby rooms, his voice soft and full of love like it had been in the car while he talked to his daughter. Realizing Danny might be a while Steve grabbed a beer took a long drink and then walked over to his duffle bag which was sitting by the door out to the lanai, right where he had left it earlier. Pulling out a clean, dry tee-shirt, Steve grabbed his beer and headed outside. The sun was setting and he hadn't had a chance to just sit back and watch it go down over the waves of his home in over a decade.

By the time Steve had made it to the sand where a pair of weather roughened wooden chairs were set out, Danny was already walking out of the house, his own bottle of beer in one hand, a bowl of milk in the other and his cat following along behind him like a shadow. Steve shook out his shirt and glanced over at the cat who jumped up onto one of the chairs. Danny set the bowl of milk down on the sand and turned to look over at Steve.

"You gonna stop staring," inquired Danny.

"You ever gonna tell me what Danno means?"

"Yeah, when you tell me what's in the box."

"Truth is I don't know yet." Steve pulled on the navy colored tee and reached for his beer as Danny lifted the cat from the second chair, holding it close to his body. "All I know is that my father wanted me to find it. Right now it's just a puzzle."

Danny looked away from the sunset and back to the man he was starting to think could be a friend given time and opportunity. "Me and Grace, we like puzzles."

"You're a good father."

Danny sighed and sat back into the chair, taking a long drink from his beer before looking back out at the sea, one hand lazily stroking the cat, who was gazing longingly at the bowl of milk at Danny's feet. "Yeah, maybe. I don't know. You know, there's three ways of looking at it. One: I could get myself killed chasing some meth-head scumbag, then what kind of father would I be?"

"I always looked up to my father for that. You know, the sacrifices he made. I'm sure Grace is gonna feel the same."

"Yeah, maybe. Either that or she might think I'm just a selfish son of a bitch. Because the truth is this is all I got. I need this. I wanna do what I'm good at, I wanna be reminded I'm good at what I do. If that means having to put up with your twisted belief that you are never wrong, so be it."

Steve smiled and stretched out his beer to clink against Danny's bottle in a little toast. Danny smiled at him and looked away, nervously twisting the bottle in one hand.

"So, what's the third," asked Steve.

"Well, even if I tell myself that this isn't permanent, this is Grace's home now. Its my job to keep it safe." In his lap, Poppet purred and rubbed his head against Danny's chest. Danny smiled down at the cat, scratching under his chin and smiling even wider as Poppet's eyes closed on a blissful sounding rumble.

Steve's cell phone rang, breaking the spell of peace that the sunset over the water seemed to have brought about. Two minutes later they were running back to the house, grabbing their gear and heading out the door. Harry left forgotten in the house. Again.

Harry sighed and walked into the kitchen. At least Danny left him some cat food this time.

The Emma Karl Cargo Ship; Port of Honolulu, Oahu

Danny grabbed a hold of the 'Oh Shit' bar on the ceiling of the squad car as Steve burnt rubber, darting between freight containers and dock works like some kind of drunken Nascar driver. He had been in a lot of car chases back in New Jersey but now of them made him think he was going to die or piss himself. Of course he was going to be the lucky bastard who got shanghaied into being Steve McGarrett's partner. As they went around yet another almost 90 degree turn, Danny cursed himself and which ever God he had pissed off as the theme from Psycho started to play over the screech of the tires.

Reaching into his pocket Danny pulled out his cell. "Yeah? - Rachel. Rachel! Don't start with me I left you two messages telling you, you needed to pick her up."

Steve glanced away from the road and over to Danny. He couldn't believe the man was going to talk with his wife while they were in the middle of a case! What was that? Who did that?

"Don't tell me he had a change of plans! You send the driver for her half the time anyway. I can't – I can't do that right now. I'm in the middle of something." Danny winced as Steve took another sharp turn. In the distance between the containers he could see the bright blue of the waters ahead of them. "Please stop for a second. Can you just do me one favor? Just tell Gra-"

Steve glanced over at Danny catching the looked of pained anger flash over his features as he paused to catch whatever his ex-wife was saying on the other end of the call.

"Tell Grace Danno loves her, all right," he practically begged. Danny let out a long suffering sigh and ended the call looking out the window and then back towards his new partner who was watching rather than the narrow excuse for a road they were on between cargo. "Okay. Gracie was three. She tried saying my name, and all that she could say was Danno. That's all that came out, Danno, okay?"

"That's it," asked Steve. He had thought it would be something far more embarrassing considering how Danny had acted earlier when he had asked.

"That's it."

Steve shrugged. "It's cute."

"Shut up."

"Why can't I think it's cute?"

"Don't," demanded Danny. "Because I don't need you thinking about it. It's between me and my daughter."

"All right."

Danny winced and grabbed the 'Oh Shit' bar again as they spun into the last turn putting them on the pier attached to the large cargo freighter where Hesse was supposed to be hiding. Just as suddenly as they went into the turn Steve brought the car to a stop, tires still smoking.

"There it is, the Emma Karl," Steve said as if the ship held the answer to every question and every nightmare he'd ever had.

"Taking off," Danny noted. "How do you wanna do this?"

Steve pulled out his gun, cocking it and checking the rounds. Danny glanced at the gun, winced and shook his head. He had barley known Steve McGarrett for a day and already he knew the man's MO was to go in hot, shoot them all and the God (or Danny) to sort out the rest. He could already feel the ulcers forming.


"Hold on." Steve hit the gas, the car spinning slightly before surging forward towards the ramp leading onto the deck of the freighter. Danny silently prayed for his continued existence as the car hit the ramp, bouncing hard enough to send his stomach into his throat.

"All right. All right. All right." There was a sudden hail of gunfire as the guards on the deck spotted them, drawing their automatic rifles and firing as quickly as possible at the car, the speed of their draw not making up for the lack of accuracy, thank any Deity watching.

Danny cursed as the car scratched the containers on the ship, the driver's side mirror breaking off in the face of one of the shooters as the second threw himself to the side, barley avoiding the speeding car. A third man stood in front of them, too shocked to more as McGarrett drove the car right into him, the man's body cracking the windshield as he flew up and over the top of the car to go crashing down behind them.

"Cover me," Steve said, glancing at Danny. "I'm gonna find Hesse."

Danny nodded and popped open his door, gun already in front of his as he rollout of the car onto his feet, body moving forward towards the other shooters coming at them from the other end of the deck. One went down with a quick shot to the chest as another came from the side shooting out the driver's side window, nearly hitting Steve in the throat. Not stopping to even blink over the almost hit, Steve kicked the door open, shot through the broken window and took down the other guy.

"Go! Go," Danny screamed at Steve.

Steve jumped out of the car running down the now open path where the shooter who had nearly gotten off a lucky shot and killed him was laying in a pool of blood.

Danny glanced over at where Steve had been before holstering his own gun and making a quick dash to the body of one of the other fallen gunmen, grabbing the man's rifle as more voices yelling in Cantonese came up onto the deck, drawn by the sound of all the gunfire. Checking the safety Danny ran off between the steel containers after Steve. This was such a bad idea. Massively bad, really. They were creating a diplomatic incident that could likely start world war III, trapped on a ship with armed gunrunners and if that wasn't bad enough all the shipping containers on the deck had turned the whole thing into some horrific maze of death!

Danny cursed himself and Steve McGarret (again) and darted down another pathway between containers, dropping to his knees and skidding across the deck as a gunman spotted him and took fire, spreading a hail of bullets across the containers just about where Danny's head should have been.

"Shit. Fuck." Danny peaked around the corner, jerking back as the gunman fired at him again. "Fuck my life. Fuck my life!"

Grimacing Danny spun around the edge of the container and fired at where he thought the gunman was, shaking with adrenaline as he watched the man's chest jerked back with the force of the bullet hitting him. "Thank God these guys are stupid enough not to give the minions bullet-proof vests."

Danny darted back the way he had been going, pausing to look around the corner. "And to think I could be home right now drinking a beer and watching the game with my cat."

Danny fired off another round at a lone gunman walking by. "How is this even my life?"

Ahead of him he could hear gunfire and the sound of a struggle. Steve must have found Hesse. Looking around the corner and cursing the timing of the damn minions, Danny darted back as another hail of bullets whizzed by. Ahead the sound of gunfire had stopped. It was too quite. Something must have gone wrong.

Taking a deep breath Danny twisted out from behind his cover screaming as a bullet grazed his already injured arm, his own gun going off, bullets flying. The gunman nearly got him again, but luck was on Danny's side for once and the man went down. Not waiting to see if he was still alive Danny turned and raced towards where the last sounds of Steve and Hesse fighting had come from.

"There's something you show know," came Steve's voice from just a little ahead. "About your brother."

"What about him." The sound of the rifle cocking back made Danny's heart pound harder in his chest. He wasn't going to make. He had to make it!

"He died the same way you did," Steve's voice echoed through the air with a confidence Danny didn't feel.

The sound of two quick shots went off and a moment later Danny heard a body hit the water. Praying he wasn't too late Danny forced his tired, aching muscles to work harder, ignoring the sharp pain that shot up from his knee. Coming out into the open Danny caught sight of Steve standing with his back turned to Danny, one of the injured gunman already struggling to get up and take Steve down while his back was turned. Kicking the man's gun away Danny smashed his hand into the guys back, shoving his face onto the rusty metal deck.

"Put your hands behind your back. Don't make me shoot you again."

Danny pulled a zip-tie out of his pocket, tying the gunman's hands behind his back, one sore knee braced on the small of the struggling man's back.

"Hey," Steve called down. "Get the Coast Guard to find that body."

"What do you want me to do with this one," asked Danny, hoping that the fear and worry that had been rushing through him only seconds before wasn't obvious.

"Book 'em, Danno." Steve grinned down at him, his face alight with the emotions Danny was sure he would refuse to acknowledge he felt tomorrow. Relief. Gratitude. And maybe, just maybe, something more that neither of them were willing to examine too closely just yet.

That Night, McGarrett House, Oahu

Steve stumbled into his house long after the sun had gone down. He had wanted to stay at the docks longer, waiting for the Coast Guard to locate Hesse's body, but Danny could be relentless when he wanted. And he had certainly wanted Steve to go see the EMT's. After that Danny had had no problem dragging Steve back to the Palace where Kono and Chin had already gathered. Still a bit loopy from the drugs he had let Danny shove him into a chair and drop a container of some take away into his hands. Even now, hours later he wasn't sure what Danny had given him to eat. He was too drunk on the success of his team in taking down the man who killed his father, a man a full team of Navy SEALs had been unable to capture. He had done more good in the last 24 hours with this make-shift team of ragtag outcasts than he felt he ever had in the Navy. Maybe that was just because of the personal tie to the mission, or maybe it was that it took place in his home state, or maybe it was just the people. Just Chin Ho, Kono, and Danny.


Danny with the attitude, the hand-waving, and the ties. Danny who was like a walking, talking force of nature.

Yeah. It could be Danny.

Steve smiled to himself and toed off his boots, letting them drop where they lay. He could worry about tripping over them in the morning. Tugging his shirt off over his injured arm, Steve winced at the pain that briefly flared up over the haze of the pain meds and dropped it on the stairs as he went up towards his bedroom. He would have to see if Danny or Chin knew anyone on the island who could come in and clean up the blood stains still covering the study, as well as all those bloody paw prints which seem to have doubled? Maybe that was just a product of his drugged mind though. Why would the bloody paw prints have doubled? Maybe he just missed the ones that had been on the stairs on his first short run through of the house? Yeah, that was most likely it. He had really been focused on the downstairs and the main crime scene to notice anything odd up on the stairs.

Wait. Why was he thinking about blood and paw prints?

Steve's stomach gave a rumble and he glanced down, uninjured hand already rubbing at the exposed flesh. Maybe a sandwich? Mmm…sandwich. Tuna salad? No, too much mayo. He could go out a catch a fish? Maybe grill it?

Steve paused as a little voice sounded in his head telling him he was still too drugged up to safely go swimming without someone to watch over him. Sighing at the loss of freshly grill fish Steve started back up the stairs, promising himself he would have some fish tomorrow.

He stumbled into his childhood room, momentarily frozen as he realized it looked just the same as it had the day he left. There was the cork board above his desk filled to overflowing with photos of his friends, a couple newspaper clippings about his games, and the family portrait his Mother had demanded that last Christmas. His shelf still had some of his chemistry books on it, shoved hastily between sports trophies and old jars of Sex Wax.

There were posters of bands he hadn't listened to in over a decade, torn out pictures from magazines of celebrities he had crushes on as a teen, surfing pictures, and even the old calendar Mary had gotten him that was filled with pictures of famous surfers out at the Pipeline.

The whole room felt like some kind of time capsule, preserving the memory of a boy who had died with his Mother. Steve closed his eyes, body swaying from the force of his emotions. He let out a shaky breath and shook away the memories crowded in on the edges of his sanity. He hadn't slept in what felt like days, weeks maybe and there was a voice that sounded too much like his new partner berating him in his own head, telling him to strip and sleep.

Sleep. Yeah, he would sleep now and worry about everything else tomorrow.

Kicking off his cargos and his boxer briefs, Steve crawled up onto the bed, almost collapsing across it as darkness edged in around him. With a last long sigh sleep welcomed him into her embrace.

Minutes passed slowly into hours. Outside the window the dark veil of night lifted slowly into a rosy dawn.

Steve knew something was wrong even while the dreams slowly disappeared from his mind like a fading morning mist. His chest felt heavy. Something, someone, was there pressing down on him, pressing him into the mattress, stealing his breath from him. Some part of his mind that remembered all the ghost stories his Mother had told him as a child shivered awake inside, remembering the tales of the ghosts that haunted Hawaiian firemen and police, the choking ghost. Panic bubbled up inside him. It felt like there was a grown man sitting on his chest. It was hard to breath. Something else moved through the room, out from whatever was pressing down on his. It moved over his flesh like the touch of ghostly fingers or the shadow of a large serpent, rolling, sliding over and through him.

Eyes snapping open, Steve gasped and jerked himself to the side, tumbling out of the bed and onto the floor. There was a loud yowl followed by a heavy thump on the other side of the bed. Breath still coming in wheezing gasps; Steve quickly let his gaze take in the room, looking for his gun or some other weapon to defend himself from his attacker. Cursing himself Steve glared at the sight of his cargo pants on the other side of the room, by the door. Peaking out from under the torn and stained pants was his gun, too far away to reach.

There was another angry sounding hiss from the other side of the bed. Steve took a deep breath to calm himself down, focusing on the training he had spent years perfecting. His enemy was as of yet unidentified, but they, like him, would have to get up from the floor to get a clear line of sight on him. It gave him a chance. A small window of opportunity that he might be able to use.

Steve scooted back further from the bed, pausing as he felt his hand brush against something heavy. Looking down from the corner of his eyes, he caught sight of one of his old trophies that must have been knocked off one of the shelves at some point and never put back in place. Taking it in hand he slowly got to his knees raising himself into a crouching position just in time to catch sight of a sudden blur of movement from the other side of the bed. Raising his weapon Steve jumped to his feet at the same time the large cat, Danny's cat, landed on the bed. It stood there on his bed staring at him for a moment before it seemed to decide he was of no consequence, sitting down and beginning the process of washing itself, tongue moving in unhurried swipes down it's side, while Steve just stared.

The trophy dropped out of his grasp, thunking heavily on the floor as Steve raised his hands up to press against his eyes, never noticing the way the cat's eyes lingered over his exposed groin.