Disclaimer – still don't own Hawaii Five -0 - just toying with their lives for a while. And my lawyer and psychiatrist both agree that I still don't own Steve. Dammit.
Forty-two minutes. Steve sat in a lounge chair on the lanai for forty-two minutes and eighteen seconds, listening to Catherine stomp around her bunk on the Enterprise and rant about the sheer insanity of what he was asking her to do. She had every right to be as angry as she was – angrier, he thought, if truth be told. Every so often he'd glance back into the house and see Jennifer watching him closely. Several times he caught her unconsciously twirling her engagement ring around her finger. He answered Catherine's questions about Shelburne, the Vice President's & Lori's involvement and his relationship with Jennifer as honestly and as carefully as possible. One question in particular, though, crushed his soul like a used paper cup. "I found a ring…" she started quietly, "…in your desk at the house. I was looking for a pen the last time I was there…it's hers, isn't it?"
He leaned his elbows onto his knees and pinched the bridge of his nose with his free hand. "Yes," he answered just as quietly as she'd asked. He heard her swallow a sob. "Cath, I…"
"Don't Steve…" she sighed. "Just…don't. I don't want to hear how sorry you are, or how much these past years have meant to you or whatever other bullshit is going to come out of your mouth. I am angry, I…I am beyond hurt. But I will do what you've asked. Not for you, but for Mary."
"Thank you," he said gratefully.
"I'll call you when everything's in place," she replied shortly before disconnecting the call.
He laid the phone on the small table in front of him and scrubbed his hands over his face. "Didn't go as well as you thought, I take it?" Danny asked from the doorway.
Steve sighed. "Not even a little bit."
"She gonna help us?"
Steve nodded affirmatively. "She hates me."
Danny scratched the side of his face and grinned. "This might not be the right time, but…I feel confident Catherine will get over that feeling. I did. It takes a while, I'm not gonna lie, but I'm happy to tell you I only hate you about 10% of my waking hours now."
Steve scoffed at Danny's attempt at levity, but had to admit his partner had made him feel a tiny bit better. Danny looked back into the living room and sighed. "We better get back in there. We're down to a little more than 2 hours to prep."
"Yeah," Steve agreed, collecting the phone off the table and stepping back into the living room. "Where are we?" he asked as he sank into his recliner.
"Agent Bartholomew is ready at the restaurant," Joe began to explain. "While Cohen is meeting with Bob, Jenny has another team ready to bug the VP's office and residence. Bob will dial my cell just before Cohen sits down, so we'll be able to hear that conversation whether or not Bartholomew is able to successfully bug her."
"I'd rather be there and do the work myself," Jennifer added, "But I trust the guys Tim has on this."
"Ok," Steve answered absent-mindedly.
"Catherine will have eyes on the VP from the time she leaves the restaurant until the time she gets back to the Residence or her office. If Bartholomew is able to bug her, we should have ears on her too," Danny stated.
There was an awkward silence before Joe spoke again. "I'm gonna go find the charger for this phone. Last thing we need is it going dead."
Nancy sprang from the couch. "I'll help."
Steve glared at Danny expectantly. "Wha?" the detective began before clueing in to Steve's expression. "I'm gonna go round up some grub. Don't need anybody passing out while we're working."
"I'm coming with you," Jennifer offered. She shuffled the papers she'd been reading and stood from the couch.
"Jenn," Steve said softly. She spun to face him as Danny left the room. "C'mere," he requested, holding his hand out to her. She stepped around the coffee table and over to him, then crossed her arms over her chest. The tension, her obvious discomfort with what she may have heard him say to Catherine, was palatable. He circled his hands around her waist and pulled her down so that she was sitting on his lap. "I love you," he murmured, using one finger to push Jennifer's auburn hair from the side of her neck. His lips barely brushed the soft skin as he breathed in the smell of her – Mary's leftover lavender body wash combined with a scent that was uniquely, distinctly, Jennifer. His left hand found hers and he intertwined their fingers, running his thumb around the white gold band of the ring on her finger. "It's home, okay?" he whispered. "You're home. Nothing is going to change that."
He didn't miss the shallow, shuddering breath she took in before she leaned her face down to his. "I know," she whispered back with a soft smile that in no way reached her jade green eyes. He wisely chose not to push her in that moment, electing instead to finish prepping for Hillman's meeting with Cohen. She rose from the recliner after a quick kiss and beat a hasty retreat into the kitchen to assist Danny. Steve leaned back in his chair and took a moment to contemplate the ridiculous mess his life had become in the past week and a half – his mother was alive and in love with his "second father", he was re-engaged to the love of his life, he'd just broken his girlfriend's heart, and if all of that wasn't enough – his sister was in the hands of an international criminal master-mind and murderer. He refused to allow his thoughts to venture into his torturing at Wo Fat's hands. He had to believe with every fiber of his being that Wo Fat wouldn't torture a completely innocent woman.
Less than two hours later, the group huddled around the cell phone. Danny had plugged it in to a set of speakers and, with Chin's help, muted the microphone so they could talk freely without risking Cohen hearing them through the open line. Lori was seated on the couch, her legs crossed under her, intermittently swiping at tears.
"Madame Vice-President," Hillman said jovially. They heard the scraping of a chair against the hardwood floor below. "Please, join me."
"Thank you, Senator, that's very kind." Lori stifled a sob at hearing her birth mother's voice. "This is a nice coincidence, running into you."
"I agree, Madame Vice-President," Hillman replied. "There is something quite important I need to discuss with you."
"Please, call me Deb. This isn't the time for formalities."
"Ma'am," another voice said quickly. "May I offer you something to drink this morning?"
"That's Tim," Jennifer said quickly. Steve nod a reply.
"Hot tea with honey and lemon, please," Deb replied. "What's so important Bob, that we had to discuss it here instead of my office?"
"Your daughter," Hillman stated quietly.
"Sarah?" Cohen asked curiously. "I don't understand; I spoke to her earlier."
"Your other daughter."
There was an awkward quiet as Tim placed the tea cup on the table. "Thank you," she offered quietly before turning her attention back to the Senator. "What about my other daughter?"
"She's in CIA custody in Hawaii, Deb," Bob said plainly.
"I haven't heard anything about that," she countered. "Homeland Security should have alerted me."
"Not this time," Hillman said, leaning in closer. "We are working completely off the radar at the moment."
"Who is we?" she demanded.
"Were you aware that I was in the CIA, Deb?" Hillman asked. "In 1971, I was assigned to serve as the eyes and ears in the embassy in Quezon City, Philippines. The Agency believed that someone in the Ambassador's staff was leaking information to the Yakuza."
"That's not what your official biography says," Cohen countered, the irritation in her voice obvious.
"Deb, I think you understand better than most that what we tell the world may not tell the entire story of our lives," Hillman replied.
"What about my daughter?" she asked again.
"She was privy to the travel plans of the daughter of a CIA agent, codename Shelburne, and passed this information on to a former Yakuza general named Wo Fat. Wo Fat used this information to kidnap the daughter," he explained. "The team I'm assisting was able to uncover the mole, your daughter Lori, and neutralize the threat."
Deb's voice was shaky when she spoke again. "Neutralize?"
"As I stated previously, she's in CIA custody in Honolulu."
"Why are you telling me all of this, Bob?" she demanded.
Hillman was quiet for a moment. "We have more than enough evidence to charge Agent Lori Weston with treason. Having her birth mother in the second highest office in the world isn't going to get her out of this. But, you can."
"How?" Cohen asked, her voice still trembling.
"You will broker a deal – the agent for her daughter. Shelburne knows her daughter has been kidnapped and is willing to turn herself over to Wo Fat in exchange for the daughter being delivered, safe and unharmed, back to her brother."
"I can't be brokering a deal with a murderer, Bob," she said incredulously. "If it got out, it would ruin my career."
"I never said he was a murderer. And your career…is over, Deb," Hillman said coldly. "I said earlier we have enough evidence to charge your daughter with treason. I neglected to mention, we have enough to charge you as well. We know you've been passing all kinds of classified information to Wo Fat."
"Your daughter must really love you, Deb," he continued. "She contacted Wo Fat on her own – offered to swap Shelburne for your 'debt' to him being paid in full. The only question now is; how much do you love her?"
Hillman dropped some bills onto the table and collected the cell phone from the table. "I'll be in touch," he said. The sound of fabric scratching the microphone as he dropped the phone in his jacket pocket almost masked Cohen's reply.
"Senator?" they heard her call after Hillman. "I'll do it."