Disclaimer: I own nothing you recognize…
A/N: Okay, the thing is that I have like a truckload of McKono ideas and some of them just don't fit the Five-0 environment so I had no choice but going AU. I call it the In another life-'verse, and this is the first installment. I already thought up a second chapter so if you liked this and want more, let me now.
Oh, and I really don't know a lot about the US Armed Forces so lets pretend that what I've written is kinda accurate, okay? Thanks.
Summary: Kono and Steve are two talented marines who have a hard time to stay professional after they start working together.
First Lieutenant Kono Kalakaua is young, driven, frequently sarcastic, and stunningly talented with explosives. She is, also, a woman.
Steve isn't sexist. He's not anything like that. And he knows that Kono is one of the most promising officer on the base, he's seen her enough in the rifle range, or ground fighting in the rain and talked to her a handful of times, so he knows she knows her stuff. If he has to have a new member on his team, and his CO has insisted that he does, Kono is a sound choice. The best choice.
But she's also the kind of good looking that Steve's always had a hard time ignoring. He knows that's his problem, not hers, but that doesn't make it just go away. In the field, the last thing either of them need is him getting distracted by the snug fit of her BDUs, or the way she has dimples when she smiles for real.
It's a stupid reason to think about not putting someone on his team, but Steve is just smart enough to know that sometimes the stupid things are the ones that fuck you up the worst. So he thinks about it, turning the idea around in his head and trying to plan for all the ways it could go very, very, wrong, right up to the moment where his CO says, calmly, that if Steve doesn't want Kono on his team, she'll be assigned to someone else's.
That makes up his mind pretty damn quickly, and he ignores the arched eyebrow he gets, walking out of the room with a heavy weight in his stomach.
They've been through four missions when all of Steve's worries decide to go ahead and come true. The natives had been friendly. In fact, they still are. They're very, very friendly as they cheerfully shove at Steve's shoulders and pull him along, chattering happily amongst themselves the entire time.
Unfortunately, in addition to being friendly, they're completely bat-shit insane. He twists against their hold, and it's amazing how quickly their grip can go from 'pat on the back' to 'Vulcan neck pinch' in seconds like that.
"If you hurt her, I swear to God I will kill you all, I will…" He shouts, yanking at the bonds holding his wrists together against the small of his back.
One of the natives hits Steve hard in the side of the head in the middle of a misplaced gesture towards someone across the crowd. Steve spits out blood, his tongue burning where he bit it, and wonders where the hell the rest of his team is. And then the natives are helpfully lifting Steve under his armpits, dragging him up some stone steps as he kicks out at their legs.
"You're all dead men, every fucking one of you," He spits blood again, promising and they laugh, hitting him in the back of the head and shoving him forward while he's still seeing spots.
Steve's knees hit the hard stone with a heavy thud that sends more pain through his body, and he grunts, feeling the momentum carrying him forward. Hands catch him before he can crash face-first into the stone, pulling him straighter.
"Are you still with us, Major?" A pleasant voice says into his ear and someone hits him across the face just for fun.
Steve shakes his head, blinking away spots, and then grunts, trying to surge up to his feet, throwing his weight forward in an attempt to shrug off the people holding him in place.
They have Kono tied to a goddamn stake, her arms secured above her head, palms out. She's gagged, her boots, BDUs, and Kevlar vest are gone. Her eyes are huge and wild, and she's trying to shout something around the gag that Steve can't make out. There are lines of blood streaking down her arms from where she's twisting against the ropes at her wrists and dark bruises stained into her golden brown skin.
"She will bear you strong sons," Someone says, happy and light hearted, and they're patting him on the shoulders again.
Steve curses all over again that he was stupid enough to stare at her, and that they were crazy enough to catch him and do this about it. He feels like maybe he's not quite inside his own head anymore, angry like there isn't even words for, watching Kono stare at him, her eyes sharp and focused on him. And then she rolls her eyes upward.
Steve blinks, looking up automatically, watching her ball her hands up into fists and then extend all of her fingers in a sharp, violent movement. Steve looks back down at her face, and she nods before turning her face against her arm and squeezing her eyes shut.
Steve shouts again, imagining that he can feel the air shifting already, and adrenaline gives him the strength to make it to his feet, slamming his body into the people trying to hold him back. It's hard to run with his arms restrained, but he manages, boots loud on the stone under his feet, ignoring the surprised shouts of the natives. Steve reaches her, running into her, and she grunts, mumbling something irritated around the gag.
"How long?" Steve gasps out, demanding, and crowding against her, wishing his hands were free, wishing he knew where the fuck Jax and Harrison were, wishing…
The world goes to nothing but noise and light and he doesn't have time to swear, or shout, or anything. Heat washes over his back, and he buries his face against Kono's hair, pieces of sharp, jagged, something tearing into his shoulders and arms.
It's over as quickly as that, leaving Steve deaf and disoriented so he stays leaning against Kono, breathing hard, feeling sticky, wet, warmth sliding down his spine and fingers. Against him, he can feel her shaking, her breath coming loud and ragged through the gag, her breasts pressing against his chest, the skin of her arm soft against his cheek.
Behind them, somewhere far away, the natives are screaming. They don't sound so friendly now, the fuckers. Steve can't help but laugh, the sound catching in his throat, and feels his knees give. Kono makes a loud, frantic, sound when he slides down, knees hitting the ground about a second before his ass hits his feet.
He slumps forward, forehead pressed against one of her thighs, and stays there, breathing against her soft skin, absently turning his face back and forth. He isn't ready to process anything about this day, not right now, so he doesn't, just letting his mind to be blank while he listens to her make increasingly annoyed sounds until Jax and Harrison finally find them.
There's definitely some noise, and hands pulling on him, and Steve tries to shake them off, but they're too strong. He grunts, pain burning up his arms as the pressure holding his wrists finally lessens. People are shouting and Jax's looking calmly down at Steve, his pale blue eyes worried.
"Kono?" Steve says, because he's feeling dizzy and very sleepy, and wants to make sure she's alright before he goes to sleep.
Then there's a familiar voice, and even if Steve can't quite make out the words he knows the tone. He smiles, rolling his head to the side, watching Harrison hurriedly cut Kono's hands free. There's a smear of blood on her thigh, and he frowns at it, trying to figure out where it came from, and then she's kneeling beside him, her mouth moving so fast, her wrists and hands bloody. Steve smiles some more, reaching up and grabbing her shirt, pulling and she makes a surprised sound against his lips when he kisses her.
"Gonna kill 'em all," Steve promises her in all seriousness and falls down into dreams.
He spends the next few days enjoying the hospitality of the infirmary and the rest of his team hangs around. Even Kono. Steve feels bad when he catches himself staring at her, which is pretty much constantly. He doesn't remember everything about the mission, he still can't quite recall getting hit by the explosion she rigged up in the seconds she had before the natives snatched her, but he remembers kissing her.
They don't talk about it until the day he's released, when she walks him back to his place. She doesn't say a word the entire way, which isn't a surprise and his attention constantly caught by the white bandages around her wrists anyway.
When they reach his doorway he hesitates, looking at her, and for a half-second she looks back and Steve imagines that he sees all kinds of things in her eyes. Then she glances to the side and tilts her chin up.
"I'm not interested in being a notch on anyone's bedpost, Major. Get some rest, and I'd recommend you just forget about what happened out there." She says and walks away without looking back.
Steve feels something go sour in his stomach, thumping a fist against his doorframe.
The thing is, he tries to forget. He really does. He wants to be able to keep working with her, for reasons that are getting frustratingly complicated. He likes talking to her, working with her, just being around her. No one else could replace her on the team.
So he tries to forget, which results in a stunning failure. It seems unfair that of all the things he only has fuzzy memories of about that mission, the one thing he remembers in startling detail is her mouth against his, soft and dry and not even a very good kiss, especially with the salty taste of blood everywhere.
He gives the whole forgetting it thing a month, and then gives up the hope of it ever working and decides that he needs a better plan. He doesn't have very much to go on, besides he is sure that she fucking kissed him back, and the knowledge that she apparently thinks he's only interested in fucking her.
Steve was raised to believe that there were certain things a man did when he was interested in a woman. Of course, for most of his life he'd completely ignored them. Then again, the one time he'd made some effort he'd ended up with a five year long almost relationship with Catherine, so he figures that's a pretty good track record. Or not, since it had fallen apart the moment they got stationed at the same place at a speed that he found highly impressive.
Still, he figures that if nothing else it's somewhere to start. He's tired of lying to himself about how much he wants Kono, and the knowledge that she kissed him back, which he's holding onto so hard it's a little embarrassing, gives him the final piece of motivation to pursue this.
He's a little rusty, but he figures it won't really be that hard. Probably it's just like riding a bike.
Obviously, Steve had not been factoring in how Kono had a habit of making every damn thing frustratingly difficult, with or without intention. He thinks that he should be ashamed of himself, because, really, he should have known better.
The single flower that Steve gives her in the middle of a jungle, a huge, almost waxy looking one that has the same color as her beloved ocean, makes her sneeze within seconds. And, adding insult to injury, there's some kind of bee like insect inside the bloom that tries to sting her. The rest of them spend the entire way back to the base getting an impromptu lesson on how to use her EpiPen just in case she got stung out in the field. Steve figures he probably just made a romantic gesture that she had taken as a death threat and wonders how he managed that. He's fairly certain that Jax and Harrison are laughing at him and to make things worse they start to call him Smooth Dog after that just to fuck with him.
Chocolate is almost impossible to find in the middle of the desert, but Steve manages to trade for a few bars. He considers wrapping them, decides that's just overkill, and he is on his way to give them to Kono when they are suddenly under a surprise attack and they spend the next three days crawling around in the sand without getting any sleep. The chocolate ends up not only melted, but melted all over his pants. It takes him forever to get it out.
Steve decides to casually mention the whole incident to Kono, because he thinks the effort only has to earn a gold star or something, right? He goes on believing that right up to the moment he brings it up, eating dinner across from Kono. She goes still in mid-bite, her lips pressed closed around her spoon, and that really shouldn't be as distracting as it is. Finally she swallows, slamming her spoon down and slowly standing.
"I don't know what you think you're doing, but you just stop it right now. Find someone else to play your little games with." She says, leaning over and poking him in the chest.
Steve resists banging his forehead down onto the table after she leaves only by an extreme use of his willpower. He eats the rest of his meal with her spoon, which is not sad, creepy, or pathetic at all, except for how he's sure that it is.
So, obviously, Steve had seriously underestimated the stubborn defenses he would be facing when he embarked on this campaign. He needs to re-evaluate his strategies and fall back to a position he has a chance of holding while he decides on his next offensive deployments.
He is aware that maybe thinking about this in terms of a military attack is slightly odd, but honestly it only makes sense when it comes to dealing with Kono. She's got him outgunned and her defenses are kicking his ass all over the place. But he's stubborn; especially about things he wants as much as he wants her.
He settles in for a long siege, and starts concentrating on entrenching his position, just in case.
Steve settles back into just friendship with Kono. She still looks at him suspiciously sometimes, but he's biding his time. He figures that maybe she needs to be acclimated to him a little more first. He's kind of vaguely hopeful that the more time he spends around her, the more likely she is to suddenly decide that he's awesome.
He is aware that he is possibly suffering from delusions at this point, but the hand-to-hand combat practices are fun, even if she does kick his ass ninety percent of the time because he's distracted by the urge to tear her clothes off and he definitely likes watching her playing with explosives. And, okay, going to the shooting range with her might be a little bit like torture, but at least she only narrows her eyes at him the first few times he adjusts her stance or her grip on the rifle.
He's pretty sure that this is not so much moving slow as it is moving backwards, but apparently it's the best he's going to be able to manage right now, so Steve just grins and bears it. He can do this. It's not like being friendly with her is any hardship, no matter how much he wants more.
He can be patient, when he needs to be.
Steve is protective of his friends. He always has been, and that's, of course, why he reacts the way he does when they walks in on some of the guys in the lockers, discussing his First Lieutenant and for a moment all he can do is listen, frozen in place.
"Shit, yeah she's a bitch. I don't know why the fuck McGarrett puts up with that bullshit." One of them snorts and says, obviously responding to some conversation that he's missed.
"What, are you fucking blind, too? She might be a heartless motherfucker, but you can't tell me you wouldn't fuck her raw if you could, I mean…" The second man says, and Steve grits his teeth together, balling his hands up into fists, not even risking a look at Kono where she's standing right behind his shoulder.
Eventually, he starts to take a step forward, clearing his throat loudly. The young marines in the room go still, before one very slowly turns to look at Steve. The man's eyes are wide, the color draining out of his face, Steve smiles, not nicely, opening his mouth because he's going to tear these little fuckers a new one, anger pounding red hot up through his veins, but Kono beats him to it.
She steps around Steve smoothly, her shoulders tight and tense with anger. Her voice comes out edged with razors, but softly at the same time so the guys have to lean forward a little to hear her.
"Listen to me, you little bitches, because I'm only going to say this once. If I ever - ever - hear you talking like that about me or any women, I will personally put together a nasty little surprise for your cars and the next time you use them your balls aren't going to end up in the same place as the rest of you." The men in the room wince, and then freeze again when she points at one of them, snapping her fingers, her voice icy cold "Except you. You already lack them. Now, get the fuck out of my sight before I change my mind and do it now."
The marines flee, scrambling past the rest of them in the door, looking pale and drawn. Not one of them even looks like they think she couldn't do it. Steve doesn't want to think about whether she could or not. Not with her bracing her hands on her hips and tilting her head down, breathing hard.
"Kono, look, I'm going to…" Steve grimaces but she cuts him off quickly.
"Get out," her voice is flat and tight, and Steve flinches.
He opens his mouth again because she should know that he's not just going to let them get off without any retribution at all, but she shouts, "Get out!" so he goes. He stands outside the door, but she doesn't make any noise so eventually he leaves, because he has some disciplinary matters to take care of.
Steve sends every one of the fuckers that had been in that room to the infirmary, and makes damn sure they understand why.
Somehow, Steve really hadn't expected Kono to show up at his room in the middle of the night. She pounds on his door until he manages to stumble across the room and open it. He's half-asleep, the dreams of her caught up in the forefront of his mind, blinking at her and suffering momentary confusion.
Luckily, she doesn't seem to be expecting him to think right now. She shoves him hard in the middle of his chest, driving him back into his room and pulling his door shut. Steve blinks; lost but cautiously hopeful that he missed something and this situation might be looking up.
"What the hell is wrong with you?" She shoves him again, her voice tight and angry. "I handled it! What, your stupid testosterone filled brain wasn't satisfied? You had to go show them who the boss is, even after I took care of it? I don't want or need your Prince Charming complex, or whatever the hell this is, McGarrett. In case you haven't noticed, I've managed to take care of myself for a while now without needing some big strong man to make sure I'm okay, so next time why don't you just keep your fists to yourself and stay out of my business."
She's almost shaking with anger, her eyes flashing, and he feels all the remains of his sleepiness melting away. He sighs, gritting his teeth and trying to keep his voice calm when he speaks up.
"Look, Kono, those things they were saying, that kind of shit is…"
"The same thing I've been hearing since I won my first surfing competition, you fucking idiot. Since I was fourteen. So just take your archaic little 'protecting the woman' attitude, stow it with your club and your loincloth, and go to hell. I don't need it." She still looks furious, mouth twisted into a frown, cheeks flushed, but Steve is too hung up on her being fourteen and having to hear shit like that to really keep up. After a moment she sighs, crossing her arms and tilting her chin up.
"Are you even listening to me?" She suddenly sounds tired.
"Fourteen?" Steve manages, feeling sick and pissed off all over again.
Kono stares at him, and then shakes her head, throwing one hand up in annoyance.
"I don't want your pity. I don't want your protection. I don't want your anything, are we clear?" She turns sharply then pushing his door open and steps out before he can answer, which is just as well, because he isn't clear at all.
He sits on the side of his bed, staring at his hands, for a long a time. Eventually the sun rises.
Even if Steve had wanted to just forget that he ever heard that filth, he couldn't. It's his job to protect Kono, and more than that, he wants to protect her. He needs to. He gets that she doesn't understand it, that it pisses her off, but he can't just wave it away. He doesn't want to.
Still, he tries to cover it up when she's around, because he doesn't like it when she's pissed off at him. That doesn't stop all her angry accusations that he, Jax, and Harrison treat her differently now. And Steve would argue with her more, but it's true enough.
Steve doesn't know if he believes that it's all about testosterone and their dicks leading them around. After all, as far as he can tell, Jax and Harrison are far more interested in each other than Kono. It's just that she's a part of their team, and so should be protected, whether she likes it or not.
Word gets around that she's not to be fucked with. It doesn't take long on a closed community like theirs. Just to make sure the point is clear, Steve sticks close to her for a few weeks, glaring pointedly whenever anyone comes close. And, just in case there are any residual doubts, Steve gets Jax to beat up a few more people. That should, he thinks, pretty much take care of it.
Of course, that just takes care of it on the base but the missions are a disturbingly different story.
Once, the natives are all positively enchanted by Kono's soft looking skin and whorling dark eyes, and constantly touch her. Steve grits his teeth and tries to bear it. By the time they've been escorted around the village his resolve has crumbled, and he has a hand on Kono's back. She's glaring at him and he just smiles tightly down at her, because he can't help it.
Another time she's working closely with the village's 'mechanic' in an effort to fix their broken generator and Steve walks in on them to find the guy leaning over her, his hands on either side of Kono's hips as she works frantically on something, not even paying attention to the way the guy is staring at her, hungry and dirty. Steve has the guy up against the wall in seconds, snarling.
"What the hell is wrong with you now?" Kono shouts at him, pissed off and loud.
"Just fix the damn thing. We're leaving as soon as you're done," Steve snaps back, glaring down into the other guy's face.
The guy looks surprised, afraid, and Steve's knuckles itch with the urge to hit him. After a moment Kono calls Steve an idiot again before going back to work, still swearing at him, and Steve casually tightens his grip on the other guy's throat, just enough to make his face turn red.
When Kono finishes the sky outside is orange, the generator is working, and she doesn't say a word all the way back to their camp, her arms crossed tight, radiating hostility. Jax looks at Steve, eyebrows raised in question, and Steve just shakes his head, shoving his hand deeper into his pocket, knuckles stinging from the parting blow he'd left the other guy with.
Kono doesn't speak to him for a week. He'd do it again anyway.
One day, after her silent treatment is thankfully over, Steve finds Kono staring at him, head tilted to the side, and he clears his throat, shifting around.
"I don't understand you." She says, still staring hard.
"Yeah, well," He shrugs, rubbing the back of his neck, because sometimes he doesn't understand him either. And just when he thinks he's starting to understand her she goes and does something that he doesn't get at all.
"There has to be someone else out there that would be an easier lay. Is it about the challenge? If I agree to sleep with you will you stop acting like this?" She says, holding his gaze.
For a long moment Steve can only stare at her. Then he shakes his head again, dragging a hand back through his hair and wondering why she chose the mess hall of all places to have this conversation. Still. Beggars can't be choosers.
"No." He shoves his tray to the side, braces his elbows on the table.
For a moment Kono just keeps staring. And then she hums, turning back to her meal. A half second later she's talking about some new experimental explosives she's dying to try and that's the end of it. Steve swallows heavily, pulling his tray back over and picking at his food.
The next time they are at the gym, Kono lets Steve win. He glares at her, mouth open, trying to decide if he should call her on it or not. She's watching him, eyes sharp, curious, and Steve finally reaches out a hand to help her up instead. She blinks, staring up the ceiling before slowly shifting her gaze to him. He stares back, refusing to look away even though his heart is pounding painfully against his ribs. She hums, head tilted to the side, like she's trying to figure out some kind of puzzle.
"Again," She commands, taking his hand and smiling just a little bit at him, dimpled and unsure.
Steve nods. This time she fights normally, watching him out of the corner of her eye when she kicks his leg out and he crashes into the mat loudly. Steve grins, and she looks surprised, but pleasantly.
When they grab their things, ready to leave, she hesitates for a moment and Steve has no idea what exactly was going on with the fight, but she doesn't seem furious with him, so he's taking it as a good sign.
He has no idea what she's doing, though he has a feeling it's some kind of test. He wishes he knew if he were passing or not. Or, hell, what he was even being judged on. Apparently she's not going to tell him.
They stay in this oddly careful place for weeks. Steve still isn't sure exactly what's going on. Kono still snaps, and gets irritated, but then she looks at him afterwards, like she's judging his response. Steve has no idea what the right response here is, so he just sticks to what he's always done. Jax at one point pokes him in the ribs, which either means that Steve is doing alright, or that the other man has given up on trying to help.
Then they are on a leave and Harrison invites them to his hometown, for some kind of mid-summer festival. Steve attempts to get out of it, but apparently Jax and Kono already said yes so he has to go. There are hayrides, which make Kono sneeze, and face painting, which almost results in a rainbow being painted on Steve's forehead but he negotiates himself out of it. There's a hell of a lot of food.
And there's dancing.
At first it appears to be mostly line dancing, and his team end up on the sidelines, laughing as everyone else in the town stomps around to the music. Unfortunately, it's not to last, and couples start breaking off, dancing slow in the circles of each other's arms.
Steve starts tapping his fingers on his leg, cutting a look over at Kono every few seconds, wondering if he dares. He's just opening his mouth, because it might not be a good idea, but that's never stopped Steve before, when someone else is stepping out of the crowd, grabbing Kono's arm and pulling her to her feet, sweeping her off to the dance floor.
Steve jerks to his feet, scowling, pushing his way through the dancers.
"No, you idiot, I don't want to dance with you." Kono's voice manages to rise above the music, irritated and pissed off.
The man that grabbed her either doesn't answer, or just isn't loud enough to be heard over the swell of something that sounds a lot like a fiddle. And then they're right in front of Steve so he shakes the frown off of his face, grabbing the man's shoulder and smiling toothily.
"I'm cutting in," He announces and proceeds to do so.
The man makes a faint, protesting sound, but Steve already has an arm around Kono's waist, moving her into the crowd with the intention of finding Jax and Harrison when she wraps her arm up around his neck.
Steve freezes, blinking down at her. She looks determined, her mouth set and her eyes tense. He automatically pulls her a little closer, and she slides her other arm up around his neck as well, her fingers brushing through the hair at the nape of his neck. Steve shivers, both arms going around her waist and he finds that they're swaying a little back and forth, though he really hadn't been aware of that happening. She's still staring at him, head tilted to the side, a piece of golden hay stuck in her hair.
"I don't understand what you want from me, McGarrett," She says after a moment and Steve thinks that maybe this is them discussing terms of surrender. He's not even sure who's surrendering. He's not sure that it matters.
"Calling me Steve would be a nice start." He shrugs, rubbing his thumb over the soft material of her shirt.
She blinks, looking surprised, and then she smiles at him, really smiles at him, laughing loud and genuine. Steve smiles back, watching her dimples and the way her eyes crinkling up in the corners.
"Steve." She says after a moment like she's testing it out, and then repeats it softer before shifting a little closer to him, sliding her fingers into his hair and pulling him down.
Steve stops breathing, stops thinking, stops everything.
She kisses him.