Danny didn't say a word. It was perfectly quiet on the docks– apart from an old air vent wheezing in the night. Steve glanced up from checking his weapon to see Danny's blank expression. He braced himself as he turned back to reload his weapon, preparing for the storm – for he knew it would come.
Here we go. Calmly, he adjusted the holster and looked Danny square in the face.
"Don't give me your Ninja-betray-nothing-face," Danny hissed grabbing his own weapon tighter.
Steve raised his eyebrows and turned to move.
"Now wait a minute. You don't want to discuss this? Walk me through? Talk it over? You know that's what partners do when they try not to get each other killed." Danny took a deep breath. "You could just ask to have me transferred –would save you the trouble of trying to kill me on each investigation."
Steve assessed protesting, but decided against it. Waste of energy and he peeked around the corner, and then motioned Danny to follow him.
"We are not going ahead with—." Danny protested pulling Steve back by his Kevlar vest.
Steve signed, counted till…, no forget it. He snapped around. "Why not? It's a straightforward mission. So, let's move."
"This is insane," Danny dug his feet in, "We need back-up."
Steve turned the corner.
"Smoldering hemlocks!" Steve heard Danny's exclamation behind him, but classified it under not life threatening. He moved ahead. It was pitch-black by now. Danny could probably barely make out his shape. So, Steve crouched lower expecting bullets ricocheting and climbed up the stairs to a catwalk. Danny would take the lead on the lower level. He crept along the catwalk into a vast hall. Something swooshed through the air knocking Steve off his feet and the catwalk.
"Steve!" he heard Danny call out. Then he made contact with the cement floor.
"Steve?" He vaguely felt his body being shaken and why was it so hard to breath? It felt like a sandbag was tied to his chest. The sandbag moved. Steve's eyes popped open.
"Thank God," he felt Danny's breath brush his face, but why could he not see him? He shook his head and instantly regretted it as nausea crept up his throat. He dry-swallowed a couple of times to settle his stomach.
"You with me, man?" Danny sounded worried and Steve opened his mouth to reassure him when he felt Danny's hair tickling his lips.
"What the—?" Steve tried to wiggle out of the weight on top of him.
"Whoa, easy Rambo," Danny padded his head against Steve's shoulder. "I don't like this any better than you do, but some sick bastard tied us together and stuffed us in a box or something. I'd move off you if I could, partner." Steve relaxed slightly and tried to take in a deep breath, but there was no air. He gulped, struggling against the binds.
"Easy man," Danny soothed and Steve felt him pull away a bit. "I think you might have a broken rib or two."
Steve mentally kicked himself and focused on this information to divert his mind from his panicked body. He forced his muscles to relax and felt Danny shifting again to give him more room and Steve inhaled a tentative breath.
"There you go," Danny breathed beside him. "In and Out."
Finally, he regulated his breathing and Danny sagged back to his side. "Sorry, man, don't have your Ninja muscle power to hold the position."
"It's okay," Steve pressed out as the pressure on his lung returned.
"Are we underground or why is so dark?" Steve blinked and aimed his head to where he assumed Danny was.
His partner sucked in a breath. "Um, dark? It's bright as in an operating theatre and it smells like one. If it wasn't for the light, I would have thought we were in the morgue, you know, for it sure feels like one."
Steve gingerly tried to shake his head and bumped into the wall, and then he opened his eyes and blinked a couple of times.
"As I said not much space here," Danny apologized. "Don't move too much or you'll hurt yourself more."
"What happened?" Steve swallowed down the dizziness engulfing him.
"You tell me," Danny huffed and Steve could feel Danny's hands moving in the binds. "You had to play superhero again and go after the perp without proper back-up." Danny's angry voice drifted out as Steve's memories floated back. It was a straightforward mission. Go in. Diffuse and extract. Where did it go wrong? How did they end up here? He remembered—.
"You could at least pretend to listen," Danny grumbled into his shoulder.
"Can you describe our prison?" Steve asked, closing his eyes.
"Not much to see," Danny started and Steve felt him twist his head towards him. "Why don't you open your eyes and see for yourself? Maybe your SEAL eyes will see something I overlooked."
Steve concentrated on breathing which suddenly felt like a hard chore again as Danny's weight pushed onto his ribs.
"What can't?" Danny wiggled away from his side again. "You open your eyes and you'll see. Hey, you should try it sometime…"
"I can't see."
"Cause your eyelids are still closed," Danny chuckled disbelievingly beside him. "That's what eyelids are for. Once you lift them, light falls on your retina and you'll see."
"Already tried." Steve forced the words out.
"And the result?" Danny asked tentatively.
Danny pulled back sharply, counterweighing the ties, cutting into his broken ribs. Steve sucked in a breath.
"You can't see?"
"Affirmative." Steve concentrated on breathing, as it was getting hard.
"Open your eyes." Danny ordered and Steve humored him.
"Could you twist your head a bit to the left?"
Steve turned towards Danny's voice.
"Mmm – they look clear to me," Danny said, tensing beside him. "You see nothing?"
"Not even a shade?" Danny added hopeful.
"No, " Steve closed his eyes again to not waste more energy.
"You hit your head pretty hard," Danny explained, sinking back to Steve's side. "I thought you split your stubborn head right open on the cement."
"You wish," Steve hissed, trying to light the situation.
"Funny," commented Danny, but he relaxed against Steve's side. "Maybe your retina is separated. You know, that happened to a third cousin of a friend of mine. Mark and he—."
"Are we sealed in?" Steve interrupted, struggling for air.
"No, I feel a breeze," Danny lifted his head from Steve's shoulder. "There is also a big gap on the door. It doesn't close properly."
There was no air. Steve wheezed.
"Slow down," Danny twisted back to give him more room, but it didn't help. He couldn't breathe.
"Concentrate on taking one breath at a time. IN. Good. OUT now. No. Don't hold it. Out. Out! Or no air can get in."
Steve fought hard relying on his training to control his body functions, but the lack of air was too strong.
"Steve." Danny's voice was so far away. His consciousness slipped away.
Danny sounded scared. Why? Steve wondered confused as his body took over.
Air pushed into his lungs with great force. Steve gagged, fighting his way back to consciousness. He tried to open his eyes, but couldn't see a thing. All was dark.
"Don't you touch him!" he heard Danny scream and "What are you injecting him?"
"Something to help him breath," hissed a voice with a heavy Asian singsong.
"He is conscious," a deep voice beside Steve called out and he tried to move away.
"How nice of you to join us, Commander McGarrett." the Asian sang while he padded his face.
Steve tried to pull away. "Who are you?" He mustered to say against the pressure in his chest.
"The one who has kept you alive, for now," the voice sang then tapped Steve's ribs.
He sucked in a breath.
"Take your hands off him, " Danny rattled against something metal.
"Can you look at me?" The sing-song voice demanded and Steve turned his head obediently.
"Follow the light."
Steve starred at what he hoped was straight ahead.
"Do as he says," the dark voice thundered and pummeled Steve's head.
"Leave him," Singsong ordered. "His eyes are damaged as we assumed already."
Dark Voice grumbled. "Brings down the value."
"His body has enough other parts to offer," Singsong said and Steve heard metal clank on metal. "We bandaged you up right now, Commander. Can't damage the merchandise further, would bring down the profit if you die now."
"Don't you dare!" Danny rattled against something.
"Don't worry, Detective. You will be next," Singsong called over Steve's head.
"Tie him to the table. He is in no shape to escape."
"Where are you going?" Dark Voice asked, pulling at Steve's hands.
"To meet the customers."
"Your orders are not to go alone." Dark Voice protested.
"Hurry up, then," Singsong snapped impatient. "They will arrive any minute."
Steve felt rough hands on his arms and legs tightening restrains. Then a door opened and he felt the sound wave wash over him as it fell into its hinges.
"Steve?" Danny called softly.
"I'm here," Steve whispered back.
"You scared the living day light out me when you stopped breathing." Danny accused, raising his voice slightly.
"I'm am now."
"Now what?" Danny haltered in his tirade.
"Well, that is a relief," Danny remarked dryly making a sound as if he plunked against something metal. "Since you are prime ribs and I am just the pork chops."
Steve smirked. "Naturally."
"Oh, don't get me started," hissed Danny before he turned serious. "How are your eyes? See anything?"
"Nope," Steve replied, fighting to not let his fast breathing betray him. "You still in the box?
"Yep. Chilled to perfection."
"Where am I?" Steve tried to feel his surroundings with his tied-up hands.
"On an operating table," Danny sighed and Steve heard him rumble in the box. "Can you lose your binds?"
"Working on it," Steve pulled forcing his head up from the effort.
"To your left is an operation tablet," Danny said before a thumping noise cut him off.
"You okay man?" Steve tried to crank his neck cursing his inability to see.
"All's swell, just bumped my head," Danny grumbled. "If you lean to the left you might reach a scalpel."
Steve shuffled his body to the left and wiggled the restraints. His breathing rattled.
"Be careful man. You still have two broken ribs," Danny pointed out the obvious.
"Won't matter if they cut me open for spare parts," Steve muttered and pushed against the restraints.
"A bit more down—," Danny sounded hopeful and gave Steve the strength to push on. His fingers felt cold metal and a sharp edge as it cut into his fingertips. He bit his lips to stifle a cry and lunged forward. His ribs protested and the movement nearly pulled his right shoulder out of its socket as the restrains held him back.
Something fell down with a clank and Steve slumped back onto the table, panting.
"No big deal," Danny called softly. "There're tons of other sharp things on the table."
Steve contracted his muscles and lunged to the left. With a soft pop, the restraints on his right arm came loose. Caught off guard and with the force of the momentum, he plunged into the tray and onto the ground.
"Steve!" He could hear Danny call out as the pain ebbed through his body. Gingerly, he sat up to ease the pressure on his still bound left hand. His right hand searched for something sharp and he grabbed the first thing he felt. He stabbed violently at the binds straining his ears for any sound from the kidnappers.
"Careful man," Danny hissed, rummaging in his prison. "Don't chop off your hand."
"Likely," snorted Steve and pulled free. He rubbed his wrist as he jumped up.
"Over here. Turn to three o'clock," Danny whispered excitedly.
Steve turned, one hand trailing the operation table and the other stretched out to feel for the box.
"You are bleeding all over the place, man." Danny observed. "Did you cut yourself?"
"Just a scratch," Steve reached the cooler door and pulled the handle.
"It's locked," informed Danny trying to be helpful. "I already tried that."
Steve let his finger explore the mechanism. "It's only a padlock," Steve rummaged deep in his pockets and extracted a tiny leatherman.
"They didn't take that away?" Danny asked, incredulously.
Steve smirked. "It was hidden." He fumbled with the lock and grumbled under his breath for being so slow. Danny's constant chatter didn't help with hearing the lock spring, but finally it did give and Steve pulled the door open.
"Thanks, man!" Danny exclaimed and Steve stepped aside to let him jump out.
A noise from the corridor made Steve turn. "Is there somewhere to hide?"
"Nope," Danny took Steve's outreached hand and guided him to the door. "It's us against them."
"I take the big one and you the other," Steve ordered and Danny laughed joylessly. "You can't even see."
"I hit first and you do the rest," Steve said without hesitation.
The door swung open and Steve lunged forward smacking the guy into the wall as Danny moved onto the other. Something metal fell to the floor.
"In you come," Steve heard Danny say. "You too! Steve, you can let go of him. I got a gun."
The second man slumped onto the ground.
"Cell phones? Spit them out." Danny ordered and Steve heard the sound of fabric being padded down.
"Into the cooler. Off you go," Danny seemed to be starting to enjoy himself. "So, where are your bosses?"
"These are not the same guys?" Steve asked hauling the second guy up, but buckled over as his ribs protested.
"You okay, man?" Danny was at his side.
"Fine," Steve pressed out. "Lock them up.
"You heard the man. Hop-hop, Chop, chop."
With a loud clank, Danny closed the freezer door and Steve heard the click of the lock.
"Give me your hand."
"What?" Steve swung around to Danny's voice.
"I want to bandage it up not propose," Danny chuckled and took Steve's hand into his.
"We don't have time for this," Steve tried to pull back.
"We don't have time to leave a blood trail, Hansel." Steve felt gauze being wrapped around his hand. "We don't want the witch to follow us, do we?"
Steve sighed. "Danny, sometimes you make no sense."
"What you don't know 'Hansel and Gretel'? The Grimm's fairy tale?" Danny sounded outraged, but released his hand.
"Let's get out of here," Steve trailed the operating table and marched off.
"I'm all with you on that, man." Danny said with glee. "But—."
"But what?" Steve asked irritated, striding on.
"You're heading the wrong way."
"Let me lead you for once, if I may?" Danny grabbed Steve's arm. Steve grunted and Danny laughed. "Oh, I'll enjoy this."
"Give me a gun." Steve held out his hand.
"Um, need I remind you?" Danny paused, but Steve waived his hand impatiently. "YOU ARE BLIND!"
"So? I can still aim."
"And hit me instead," Danny swatted Steve's hand away and steered him down the hallway. Their footsteps resounded on the wet cement floor.
"We're still close to the docks," Steve whispered.
"How do you—? Forget it, just tell me." Danny pushed Steve's hand onto his shoulder.
"The air tastes salty and there is water on the ground," Steve tried to fall into step with Danny.
"Underground tunnel?" Steve felt Danny turn around.
"Could be. Is it lit?"
"Not much and the walls are rough," Danny continued forward.
"Must be the south end of the dock, then." Steve said with confidence.
"How could you possibly know that?" Danny asked, incredulously.
"We entered from the north and there were no underground entrances, to the west is the water and east is the road. Leaves only—."
"The south side." Steve heard Danny shake his head. "Sometimes your Ninja skills scare me, man."
Danny stopped abruptly and Steve bumped into him. "Ssssh, we're at the end of the tunnel."
"What do you see?" Steve whispered into his ear.
"It's a rough chamber closed off by some steel door," Danny whispered back. "It's clear."
"Not till the door," Danny started, but Steve nudged him. "Let's move then. If it is our only way out."
Danny leaned into Steve. "Yeah, and if the perps sit behind these doors, its back to the organ cooler or table for you." Danny caught him just in time. Gently, he leant Steve against the wall. "You look like death warmed over.
"I'm fine," Steve pressed through tight lips, but his elaborated breathing gave him away.
"You rest and I will peek through the door," Danny pulled his hand back.
"No," Steve heaved. "You're my eyes. We go together." He pushed off the wall swaying slightly. Danny reached out to steady him, but Steve swatted his hand away. "I'm fine."
"Suit yourself," Danny guided Steve's hand back to his shoulder and turned forwards. Steve had all his senses open trying to detect movement or sounds. He paced himself after stepping on Danny's heels a couple of times and heard him suck in his breath and swallow his retort. If Danny remained silent, Steve must look as bad as he felt. How he hated to use Danny as a shield. He could live with him leading, not that he would admit that, but to depend on Danny as his armour made the bile churn in his stomach.
Danny turned to the right and slowed down. "We are at the door. I will position you to the right and I'll open the door and peek through."
"Give me a gun to back you up," Steve insisted, waving his hands.
"And how are you gonna see me so you're not gonna SHOOT me?" Danny hissed heatedly.
"You need back up," Steve said biting his lips for having his thought slip out.
"Exactly my saying," Danny flared up beside him. "And if I remember correctly somebody thought that wasn't necessary."
"Okay. What do you want from me?" Steve shot back. "Fall on my knees and ask for your forgiveness? Or can we just move on?"
Steve could feel Danny fuming beside him.
"I'll open the door now." Danny announced and Steve tensed, his broken ribs screaming in protest.
Shouts and gunfire exploded.
"Danny? Danny!" Steve held out his arms when he heard the door being shut with a bang.
"Guess you don't have a Plan B," Danny breathed heavily beside him.
"Are you hurt?" Steve's hands were all over him and Danny brushed him away.
"Don't fumble me. I'm okay – considering."
"What did you see?" Steve sank back to the wall. He had to conserve energy, but breathing was so hard again. "Anything to cover us?"
"A couple of crates," Danny admitted thoughtfully. "It's a big hall and I saw only two perps."
"Give me a gun and we make a run for it."
"How—?" Danny started, but Steve could feel the cold metal being pressed into his hand. Relief and strength flooded through him.
"Let's go," he pushed off the wall.
"Okay, you're following me," Danny admonished. "If I duck, you'll duck!" Steve didn't bother to ask how he was supposed see that when Danny added. "Keep one hand on my shoulder."
"I'm—." Steve objected, but Danny cut him off. "That's the deal. Take it or leave it."
"Tough negotiator, are we?" Steve arched his eyebrow up and heard Danny grind his teeth.
"Okay, we do it your way," Steve held up his hands.
"Whoa there," he felt Danny close by. "You nearly took out my eye."
"Please just don't shoot me in the head. Gracie still needs her Danno," Danny lamented, weakly.
"I have no intention of doing so," Steve objected, "Since I can't see my hearing has picked up the slack."
"Shall we move, then?" Steve could hear Danny's irony dripping through the flourish.
"Lead the way," Steve couldn't suppress a smile.
"Funny. Very funny." Danny turned away from him. "Hand on shoulder."
"Yes sir!" Steve padded his hand down a bit harder than planned but Danny refrained from commenting. Steve could feel him tense.
"On three. One. Two. Three!" Opening the door, the movement pushed Steve back and then Danny's body lunged forward.
Danny's first shout nearly deafened him, but he ducked behind him as they ran.
Bullets ricocheted around him and Steve aimed to the right and away from Danny.
"Down!" Danny shouted and he ducked. He felt Danny pulling him to the ground. "You call this a duck? Why don't you just mark a bull's-eye on your heard?"
Steve felt around. They were behind a crate and bullets flew over them. "Still only two?"
"Yep and they blocked the exit." Danny said between two breaths.
"We have to distract them," Steve tried to rise, but Danny pulled him back. "Are you crazy, man?"
"Do you have a better idea?" Steve leant against the crate.
"Not right now," Danny admitted. "But we do it together or not at all. Remember the deal?"
"We don't have another choice," Steve let his hand run over the gun. "You run out and I cover you.
"No way man," Steve heard Danny protest. "Give me a moment." Steve heard some mumbling and movement beside him before he felt a couple of bullets brushing his hair.
"I said stay down," Danny hissed, hand on Steve's shoulder. "There is another crate to the right. We aim for that."
"Is it on the way to the exit?"
"No, but it will – hopefully –pull them off the exit to follow us," Danny said and Steve felt his hands move in front his face. "Then we circle back and hope the door is not locked."
"Sounds like a plan," Steve agreed and pushed off the crate. "Let's go."
"You just can't handle it to not lead," Danny hissed beside him, but slid Steve's hand back on his shoulder. "It's three o'clock. Ready?" Steve nodded. "Go!" Steve shot out of cover nearly pushing Danny ahead of him as bullets cut the air around them. With a crash, they hit the second crate.
"You okay?" Steve lashed the air.
"Yeah, yeah. Apart from you smashing me into the crate." Danny mumbled and pulled Steve close.
"We make some noise," Danny said with a mischief-filled voice and before Steve could brace himself, the world exploded in sound. He fell to the ground covering his ears till Danny tugged his arm. "You all right? Sorry, I should have warned you."
"I'm good," Steve said fighting the vertigo the noise had created.
Danny pulled him up. "Three o'clock. Run."
Steve obeyed. He sprinted following Danny's lead till he felt a shift of movement and Danny pushed him though something. Fresh air engulfed him and he was greeted by the unified "Freeze!" of Kono and Chin.
"Hold your horses," Danny scolded behind him and Steve felt him sidle in front of him.
"Boss," Kono reacted first.
"Hold your fire," Chin bellowed.
Steve felt his body tilt and suddenly hands were all over him.
"Two inside. Armed." He could hear Danny from faraway as the adrenalin rushed out of him. "Steve? Buddy, you still with us?" Steve felt Danny bend over him. Steve wanted to swat him off, but there was just no air. He willed his lungs to inhale, but the air felt too thick to go down.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
His alarm sounded way off. Time to get up and go for a run. Why was his body not responding? His brain so sluggish? Steve tried to move, but his torso felt strapped in. Organ Dealer! His mind snapped into reality and he opened his eyes. All was black! Steve sucked in a breath that went down painfully past his bruised ribs. Right through his eyes. He could feel a fabric covering them and pulled his arms up sharply, surprised to find them not bound.
"Whoa! Easy buddy." Danny's voice waved into his ear. "Or you might ruin the bandages the beautiful nurse took so much care to put on you."
Chin snickered and Kono fake-coughed.
Steve sank back and felt Danny pat his arm. "That's more like it. You're in a hospital and—."
"Safe," Kono's voice floated in.
"By yours truly," Chin added dryly.
"Thank God for backup," Danny chimed in. "Wait. I think that was the reason they created it."
"To save bossman?" Kono asked, amused.
"No for somebody to have some sense and not to go in somewhere alone…"
"All right. All right," Steve mumbled.
"What do my sore ears hear?" Danny perked up. "You admit a—."
Steve held up his hand. "Might have slightly miscalculated." Danny grunted and he heard Kono stifle a laugh. "Still a straightforward approach."
"In the 'Go and in and get the guy' style?" Chin remarked and Steve nodded, instantly regretting it. Nausea washed over him and he gagged.
Danny's hand was on his arm again. "You are not thinking of throwing up on us, are you?" Steve took a deep breath. "Good – cos I'm not cleaning it up," Danny continued squeezing his arm gently. "Done my cleaning up duty with Gracie."
"How did you find us?" Steve forced his body to calm down and relax as air filled his lungs forcing their way past the tight bandages.
"We tried to call," Kono said to his left.
"Then we put a trace on your location, when the neither of you answered." Chin added and a chair squeaked.
"We got a stationary signal from the warehouse," Kono explained, proudly. "Which suddenly dropped."
"Time to call in the troops," Chin added and Steve could have sworn he heard a smirk.
"And not a minute too late," Danny huffed. "Or your pristine Class A organs would have been distributed all over the world."
"How did you stumble into the organ dealer?" Kono's shirt scratched over the wall and Steve turned into her direction.
"We didn't. Yours truly," Danny paused and Steve assumed he was pointing at him. "Was chasing a lead into the building. We didn't expect to discover their operation right in the middle of the docks."
"They must have been delighted at the prospect of your body parts," Chin mused.
"Oh, yeah," Danny grunted. "It was sickening to hear how they ticked off Steve's parts like a meat package and gloated over the profit they expected from them."
"And to know you are next on their menu, "Kono added softly. Danny sucked in a deep breath and for once, he remained silent.
"But how did they catch you?" Chin asked and Danny expelled air like it had offended him.
"Well, superman here went straight ahead and it was pitch black. Don't ask me how he got on the catwalk that fast, but his fall was impressive. Only I didn't know it was him, until I stepped on him. Of course, I was a bit distracted when I realized my partner just made a face dive and his brains might be sprawled on the cement."
"So?" Kono asked sympathetic.
"When I checked on him, somebody conked me over the head," Danny said, shuffling restlessly.
"How did we end in the morgue compartment together?" Steve asked and felt their attention turn to him.
"The meat cooler, you wanted to say?" Danny snorted. "No more clue than you, when I came to I was tied to you."
Chin chuckled. "I think I can shed light on that. That was the last available container. The rest was full—."
"Don't tell me. Human spare parts?" Danny sounded sick.
"Nah, brah," Kono chuckled, "but finest Ribeye and all exotic meats you could think off."
"It must have been a joint-venture that used the operation theater."
"Lovely," Danny exclaimed.
"You should be honoured," Chin said dryly. "The stuff in there was expensive."
"That really makes my day," Danny shuffled beside Steve.
Laughter filled the room and Steve joined them even if it hurt his ribs like hell. He relaxed deeper in to the cushions. All was well as long as his team made it back safe. In the future, they will have to fight for themselves with a new teamleader given his condition—.
"Okay stop trying to be a fact-facing hardass hero," Danny piped up and Steve mumbled an
"Oh come on you can't pretend, it doesn't faze you," Danny exclaimed theatrically. "You could at least freak out a little."
"What are you talking about?" Steve turned his head to Danny.
"You have to be more specific," Chin reprimanded. "After all he fell on his head."
"You assume permanent damage?" Kono asked interested as if discussing a case. "If bossman is slowed down, we might be able to catch up."
Danny snorted and Steve was sure even Chin chuckled.
"Okay, go ahead and beat the man while he's down," Steve interjected trying to sit up. "I have you know my reaction-processing time is working just fine, but even I can't read Danny's mind. Not at best of times."
That earned him the desired laughter and he felt Danny shifting at his side.
"Enlighten him, Danny." Kono ordered. "Not fair to let him dangle."
"I think that would be a very appropriate punishment." Danny said smugly. Protest exploded around him and Steve could feel Danny move in closer. "Okay under such pressure," Danny succumbed. "We're talking about your eyes, man."
Steve waited, and then shrugged. "Well, you'll have to find a new teamleader." He forced his face into an emotionless mask, hoping to fool his friends. "Any suggestions?"
That got a reaction. All talked at once. Steve's hand moved to his head as it threatened to explode. He felt Danny raising his arm.
"Why should we want a new teamleader?"
Steve sighed. They made him spell it out. "A blind man can't lead a team, can he?"
"Oh, that." Relieved laughter filled the room and slowly Steve was getting angry. Why can't they just accept the facts? Why did they have to make such a fuss about it?
"You will have to make a decision," Steve ordered and felt their stares prickling on his skin.
"No, we won't." Danny stated as if that was decided.
"You're disregarding a direct order?" Steve felt his cheek muscles clamp up.
"If you have to give it such a formal name," Danny sounded amused. "What do you guys think? Do we openly mutiny on our poor blind leader?"
"Oh, Danny – that's low, Bruh." Kono breathed, Steve could hear her fiddling with her hair.
"But that what we do, Cus." Chin affirmed, his chair squeaked in protest as he moved. "You in?"
"I guess so," Kono drawled uneasily.
"Guys, I know you just want to spare my feelings," Steve probed. "But I'll handled it. You have to make a decision."
"Definitely not," chorused his team.
"Then the governor will make the decision for you," Steve tried to reason with them.
"No, he won't!" Danny said with corky confidence.
"He won't?" Steve felt his face slip.
Danny was truly enjoying this, Steve thought, I bet he is even whipping on his heels with glee.
"Should we take a picture of his blank expression for the H50 archives?" Kono asked innocently and Steve heard a CLICK.
"Now, that was low, Cus." Chin protested and his chair protested with him. "Let's see it."
"Good one. Smart thinking, Rookie." Danny chuckled leaning over Steve's legs.
"Oh-kay?" Steve wondered if he should raise his voice to get respect, but Kono's and Chin's laughter threw him off. "What?" He turned to her.
"Tell him, Danny." Chin ordered and his chair protested as he leant back in it.
Steve felt Danny moving closer to him and steeled himself for the answer.
"Your eyes will be fine, buddy." Danny said softly squeezing his shoulder.
Steve's head shot around. "What?"
"The retinas disconnected after your pretty head kissed the cement, but the Docs tuckered it back on with a laser."
Relief washed through Steve. "Oh."
"Yep, buddy." Danny smacked him a bit harder. "You won't get rid of us so easily."
"We don't want a new teamleader." Kono said tenderly.
"No way, Bruh." Chin added with a chuckle. "It wouldn't be half as fun with somebody else."