Spoilers: Canon-ish until 'UaHiki Mai Kapalena Pau,' mostly Season One AU, using most of the plot points of the aforementioned episode. This also is about six months after the events of '5 Times Steve saw Danny's Wings and 1 Time He Didn't'
Warnings: language, adult situations, tons of OCs, one side mention of a possible emotional trigger, tiny crossover with NCIS:LA and shirtless Steve.
Disclaimer: Most of the characters belong to the TV station, etc. The OCs are mine. I don't make any money on this.
Danny's relationship with his wife had improved. So much so that when she called in the middle of the day the detective merely looked wary instead of irate. He answered her ring tone with a deceptively quiet, "Hey." Whatever she had to say was enough to make Danny stiffen but not with fury. "Her teacher said what? Are you sure Grace is okay?" Danny asked.
Steve wasted no time: he made an illegal u-turn and sped toward Grace's school. Steve knew he was making the right choice when Danny didn't immediately yell. Steve didn't catch much more of the conversation and then Danny hung up.
He grunted. "You know, this is not technically an emergency."
"It's Gracie," Steve answered. "What happened?"
"They were learning about the Holocaust."
Steve frowned and tried to gauge Grace's age against the horrific period of Earth's history. He also lightened his foot on the gas pedal; she wasn't bleeding. "She's heard of it before, right?"
"In the abstract sense, more like bad people did really bad things to people just because they were different. This was the first time that she's heard of the atrocities in detail."
"What detail upset her?"
"The part where the Nazi built a four-story tower at each of the death camps and pushed the prisoners off it to see if they could fly." At the bottom of each tower, prisons slated to work were given the task of putting the corpses onto a cart and taking them to the incinerator.
Steve had never thought about history in light of Danny (and Grace's) abilities. Obviously, Rachel knew about them if she was calling Danno to take care of it. Normal problems, Rachel dealt with as the custodial parent and (maybe) told Danny after the fact. She must pass all 'wing problems' to Danno. Sometimes Steve wondered if Rachel had moved to Hawaii to take Grace out of Danny's influence. Maybe she thought that if she had separated the father and the daughter for a little while, Gracie's beautiful sparrow wings would become transparent and unsubstantial and 'normal.' Everyone else of Steve's acquaintance had shadows for wings. The whole world had shadows for wings and wanted them real. Rachel's daughter had real wings and Steve was pretty sure Rachel wanted them to be shadows.
Obviously, Rachel had discounted Danny's stubbornness and had underestimated Gracie's genes. Danny followed wherever Grace went.
Steve glanced at Danny and wondered if he should admit that he knew that Danno and his daughter could fly. Every person was born with wings and Danno and Gracie were the only ones with wings solid enough to use them. Sometimes, Steve thought that the witnessed event had been wishful thinking or a dream. In the last six months, Danny had been working with Steve and Chin to make their wings substantial with mixed and often frustrating results. Now both of them could activate their wings into something solid, but if any pressure was applied to the wings, they reverted to their normal shadows. Steve knew better than to try to fly, his wings would never withstand that kind of pressure. Grace, on the other hand, could fly with her father's assistance. Once, Steve had witnessed the event for a split second.
What if Grace had been in that Nazi camp? Yeah, none of the Williams were Jews, but the Williams couldn't keep their mouths shut when they disagreed with bullies. Where other governments since the being of time had experimented with their own people to create a group of people who could fly, none killed so many in the attempt as the Nazis. The Russians came close with their Gulags and China had mysterious numbers of their prison population disappearing every decade or so.
Steve took his eyes off the road a second time to judge Danno's state of mind. Could he ask Danno if he could fly again? Would Danno tell the truth this time? Danno had refused the question previously and Danno hadn't known Steve had been spying when he personally witnessed them flying …
"What?" Danno snapped at the attention.
"What what?" Steve answered. He looked at his partner again to judge his mental state. Chin had just told him this morning that Danny's car was free of electronic bugs, continuing the streak of someone snooping only on Steve and not the rest of 5-O. He wouldn't have to worry about someone listening in.
"What do you mean 'what what'?" Danny was not in the appropriate mood to pry truth from his lips.
Steve McGarrett, big bad SEAL, chickened out. "I just was wondering when we're going to have another BBQ at Chin's." That was code for 'when are you going to make our wings solid again?' Danno's ability to make other peoples' wings solid probably put him more at risk than being able to fly. It also made him worth more alive.
"Now is not the time, Steven."
Steve dropped it because when Danno used his 'Dad Voice' on Steven, it was much too similar to Jack McGarrett's tone. Steve found it amusing that Danno was so good with his 'Dad Voice' since he probably used it more on Steve than Grace.
Steve pulled to a stop in front of Gracie's public school. Danny jumped out of the car before Steve had even put it into park. Steve chased his partner down and found him asking the front secretary, "Grace Williams. Nurse's office?"
The woman nodded. Danny looked back at Steve. "Go on. I'll find out what happened here."
Danny ran off, presumably in the correct direction.
Steve addressed the woman. "So what exactly did happen?"
She hesitated and Steve showed her his 5-O badge. "I'm his partner," he explained. The badge shouldn't get him the answers, but it might be enough to persuade her to offer a discreet explanation.
The secretary opened a file on her desk and flipped it around so that Steve could read it. It was the school's incident report. Yes, Grace had been disturbed by the Nazis' atrocities, but what had really set her off was the reports of what happened to those that had survived the fall. All historians agreed that the survivors of the fall were due to the bodies of the previous victims cushioning the fall, but the Nazis believed that anyone who had survived the fall to have rudimentary control of their wings. They had experimented on those survivors, 'operating' on their backs while the captives had been awake and alive, for example.
Grace had been so upset by the idea that she had thrown up her breakfast and then she couldn't stop. She had been dry-heaving for a while before the nurse and her teacher could calm her down. She had never exposed her own wings during the mishap and Steve was immensely proud of her for that. She was her father's daughter. She was stubborn about the right things even when emotional.
Grace's teacher wrote that she only used this specific example of the Nazi horrors because even children Grace's age knew that no one could fly without a plane and that the Nazis were being stupid for asking their prisoners to use their wings. She also tried to tie into a lesson of 'never, ever try to jump from a high place to see if you can fly.' Steve didn't react at the statement. He wondered how many of those children believed that they would be able to fly with their wings someday. Steve hadn't totally given up hope in the idea until the day his mother had died. He had quit believing in anything impossible that day.
Anything he wanted, Steve would work hard to get. Then he met Danny and made him his partner and created 5-O. The I'ohana/I of 5-O had fallen in his lap. He hadn't had to work hard for that at all.
Steve thanked the secretary and asked for directions to the nurse's office. There he found Grace listening to her father, sitting in his lap. Her tears had dried and she didn't smell too much of vomit.
Father and daughter smiled grimly at Steve as he entered.
"Well, look who's here," Danny told Grace. "You know who that is?"
"That's Uncle Steve."
"No, that's our chauffer. He's going to take us for some shaved ice. What do you think of that?"
"It's a good idea," Grace told the men seriously.
"I'm glad you think so, 'cause I've been working on it for the last five minutes."
Grace grinned at her father's silliness. Steve had to join in. He stepped as if he was in a dress uniform and lined up his heels and straightened his shoulders. "Would m'lady be interested in anything other than shaved ice?"
Grace thought about the question seriously. She looked up at her father. "Will you be there?"
"I will always be there when you need me. I promise."
Grace accepted the vow as truth then turned to address Steve. "Just shaved ice, please."
In the end, Danny and Grace got an unplanned outing and Steve got to bask in the periphery. Rachel looked pleased when Danny finally dropped their daughter off. She even said 'thank you.'
Steve considered that a win. All he had to do was find the man who ordered his parents' murders and all would be right in the world.
Jenna's intelligence was getting them closer and closer to Wo Fat. Steve was chasing the man with every resource available. The governor had let them, not insisting they solve any other cases for the last two weeks. They ran down associate after associate and found the money trail behind every shell company.
Then Jenna found the safe house. She had every indication that it belonged to Wo Fat. Steve sent Kono into the neighborhood with thermal imaging. When she reported that there was only one person in the house and he seemed very comfortable there, Steve set up the assault with HPD SWAT for Friday morning. As focused as he was with explaining to the new help how dangerous Wo Fat really was, he still managed to sideline Jenna. The woman wasn't an agent, merely an analyst and didn't have the training of when to stay out of the way. So he borrowed a pair of handcuffs from a SWAT officer and cuffed Jenna to the nearest car. He wasn't trying to humiliate her in front of the guys; he just wanted to keep her safe. He was pretty sure that no one saw what he had done. If this went wrong, Steve needed her skills to find Wo Fat again.
The op went wrong front the first 'knock.' The front door was rigged to blow. A HPD officer was down and Kono –responsible for the thermal imaging unit- yelled that the man inside was on the move.
Steve made the decision to go in alone. He had experience finding tripwires and other minute signs of improvised explosion devices in high stress situations. He sent the rest of the team to surround the perimeter for surely the guy inside was going to run. Kono transmitted that the man was upstairs and Steve followed.
Steve ended up pointing a gun at Sang Min and Sang Min was just as surprised to see Steve's face as Steve was to see his.
Sang Min turned and jumped out the window.
The escaped felon might not have been Steve's target, but he had information Jenna could add to the pool.
Steve followed and updated his team. (He might have used his wings to soften his landing and was pleased with his control.) He wanted 5-O ready to spot the new target.
Steve lost Sang Min for a moment in the chase, but Danny came through. He reported over the radio Sang Min's new location. Steve led the rest to converge of Danny's spot, three houses down. Steve had arrived on scene, just as Sang Min stole one of the owner's cars and bust out of the closed garage door.
Steve managed not to get run over mostly because Sang Min was trying to escape, he wasn't trying to kill Steve. It was the second time Sang Min could have killed Steve. The first was upstairs when Sang Min had a gun pointed at Steve. Sang Min was not reacting within normal parameters.
Steve put several bullets into the white Cadillac. Kono had been attracted by the noise and came running around the corner. Steve knew Sang Min had too much of a head start to chase him in another car. He relayed the car's make and license plate to Kono, knowing she'd take care of the BOLO. He just made sure she cast as wide a net as possible. She disappeared to do as ordered. Steve wanted Sang Min caught now.
Chin remained. Steve used him as a sounding board. Chin knew better than Steve all the ways to leave the island in a hurry. He'd take care of closing any routes.
Jenna walked up the drive, still wearing the handcuffs, but not where he left her. Her dark grey wings were disappearing as she gathered up her dignity. Steve would have to be more insistent making her stay put next time. She asked about Sang Min and Chin filled her in.
Jenna surmised that Sang Min was staying in the safe house because he was a fugitive.
Steve wasn't so sure about that. He postulated about Sang Min trying to take out Wo Fat himself. He added up the evidence: the front door rigged to blow, plus the general desperation about Sang Min. The man was a loose end but he was also a survivor. He would want to take out Wo Fat before Wo Fat removed his loose end.
All speculation ceased at the sound of the cough.
The team turned to look and immediately knew something was wrong. Very wrong. Danny had his wings out. Out and solid and then transparent. Steve had never once seen Danny's wings transparent. He had assumed it wasn't possible. Danny's wings disappeared and then reappeared solid this time. Danny hid his wings whenever there were strangers about. He didn't mess around with this.
Danny's general appearance could be summarized as 'shit.' He looked horrible. He couldn't stand on his own two feet. He was shaking and sweating. He had been fine five minutes ago at the beginning of the op. What had gone wrong?
Steve rushed to his partner's side, vaguely aware of Chin, Kono and Jenna doing the same. Steve automatically assumed gunshot wound, since Danny had gotten close to Sang Min. Danny denied the wound and claimed he couldn't breath. He was clammy and shaky, sweating and overheating as he tried to take off his Kevlar vest and tie. Jenna checked his vitals and Kono called an ambulance. Whatever had happened, they needed experienced medical personnel Inow./I
Steve asked what happened to gain a perspective on Danny's mental acuity. Danny reported that there was a body inside, no pulse. Steve was so focused on Danny, he only peripherally noticed Jenna crossing between them to enter the house. The movement sparked the need to know in Steve. What had done this to his partner? He assigned Danny's care to Chin and followed her.
Jenna stopped him five feet from the body Danny had mentioned. She was focused on the scene and it was obvious she had completely forgotten about Steve handcuffing her to a car. This was not a power trip. She was concerned. She was the first one to say the word 'biological.' It made sense.
Kono yelled for their attention. Steve left the dead body as he found it and ran to Danny. His partner was in even worse shape than before, his wings flickering in and out of existence, mostly solid. Chin reported convulsing. Normally Steve would have forced Danny to control his wings before letting strangers near but Danny could barely keep conscious. Whatever would result because of the exposure of his wings, would happen. 5-O would deal with it as it happened.
Steve was with Danny every step of the way to the hospital. Danny's wings caused problems in the ambulance, but the medics did a great job working around them. They couldn't keep him strapped to the gurney with normal straps. What was the proper tightness for a man without wings was deadly when the wings just appeared under him. And when they adjusted the straps for the wings, they were useless when the wings vanished and Danny fell back to the gurney with a thump and a moan. The paramedics got inventive and used bungie cords that would keep tight but wouldn't hurt him when his wings suddenly made an appearance. The wings were also getting caught in his shirt, so they cut it off him when the wings had disappeared. Steve held it to keep his hands busy and discovered the carefully hidden Velcro openings in the back of Danno's shirt. For wings. The same wings that were giving the medics fits. Steve had to admire their quick thinking, though. They got the basics out of the way and still had time to insert an IV before arriving at Hawaii Medical Center.
As the doctors heard the medics rattle off the Danny's stats, Steve knew just how serious this was. The fact that Danny had gone this far downhill in thirty minutes was another indicator. He didn't need the doctor telling him to hurry to identify the toxin, because Danny was hanging on by a thread.
The time spent waiting as the doctors fought to give Danny time and his team struggled for clues was the longest of Steve McGarrett's life. Then Jenna called saying that Danny had been exposed to sarin. She backed it up with the symptoms of the victim in the house. It didn't explain what was happening to Danny's wings precisely, but Steve would let the doctors assume that it was an atypical reaction to the nerve agent. Steve ran and informed the doctors that they needed to get Danny on pralidoxime immediately to save Danny's life.
The waiting now was even worse than when they didn't know what was wrong with Danny. Sarin was a known killer. They could have been too late with the drug. Steve paced the hallway. His team arrived as the doctor delivered the good news that Danny was reacting well to the pralidoxime. He was already showing signs of improvement, and the doctors were optimistic that Danny would survive.
5-O spared a moment to be thankful. Steve wanted to be sure to acknowledge Jenna standing on the outskirts of the circle. Her quick identification had saved Danny's life.
Jenna didn't say 'you're welcome' or take credit. She was as focused on Danny as the rest of them. She asked about people who would care about Danny and Steve told her about Rachel and Grace. Chin remembered that Danny had custody starting that day and Steve knew what he had to do. Kono wanted to see Danny, but the doctors wouldn't let that happen until they had moved Danny into a recovery ward. Unfortunately, sarin was bigger than Danny. Steve had to focus 5-O on investigating the nerve agent. He assigned Kono and Chin to preventing any more people from getting sick. He left Jenna in charge of communicating with the CDC and containing the scene. She offered to send off a sample of the nerve agent to a contact and Steve was pleased that she was jumping right in.
Steve thanked Jenna again, not for being helpful on the case, but for saving Danny's life. This time, Jenna accepted the heartfelt appreciation. Steve promised to be available via cell if anything came up that needed him to bulldoze through. He had to go get Grace.
Steve managed to arrive at Grace's school just as the final bell rang. Sang Min called to gloat, but Steve didn't have much attention to spare the felon. He voiced his theory that Sang Min was trying to kill Wo Fat. Sang Min pretty much confirmed it and offered to give Steve the yakuza boss. Steve refused, knowing he couldn't trust Sang Min's information. He hung up on the man and concentrated on the current emergency.
He turned around and Grace was standing on the steps, looking for her father. She was pleased to see a familiar face and Steve got a pretty good hug out of the deal. Her first question was about her father. Steve had to tell Grace that Danno was in the hospital and the girl took the news like a champ.
She asked if Danno would be okay. Steve told her that her father would be fine, because any other alternative was unacceptable. They waited in the hospital hallway for the doctors to allow visitors.
Steve used that time to keep updated on the situation. He was relieved with the report that they couldn't find any more sarin. It wasn't a full-fledged terrorist attack. They had a little room to breathe. It was a mystery, for sure, but one that Kono and Chin could investigate without him hovering. They followed the clues of the homeless man and the caretaker.
By the time that the doctors pointed Steve and Grace to Danny's room, he was groggy but awake. He was breathing better and coherent. He clung to his daughter but kept the conversation light so as not to worry her. His wings were hidden as usual. Yes, Danno was back.
Steve was confident in leaving Danny and Grace together in the hospital. He did quietly assign an HPD officer to keep unnecessary personnel away from the family. He also called up Kamekona. The big guy knew everyone on the island and would know if someone didn't belong. His sheer size could be intimidating. He would make an unintentional wall between Danny and the outside world. Steve tried to feel some remorse for using Kamekona like that, but couldn't. Sooner or later, people were going to start asking questions. Steve wanted Danny fully alert when that time came. If the officer was careful and Kamekona was himself, Danny might never know he had been in protective custody.
Danny did have his daughter to occupy his attention and Steve would return and take Grace home at night when the time came. Danny had nothing to worry about and had some quality time with his Monkey. He would enjoy that even with his 'hangover.'
Steve left and concentrated on the case. The caretaker turned out to be a dead end. The Fallons were presumably the target and not Amoka, but why? Kono found a fingerprint off of the hidden key at the Fallon's home, leading them to the COO and brother-in-law. Steve took Jenna with him to question the new suspect. Kono and Chin were to ask Jeff Fallon about his brother-in-law and his side of their reported contention.
Jenna did a pretty good job questioning Eliot Connor and spotted the lies quicker than Steve did. Steve spared a moment to think that Jenna and Danny would have been fun to watch interrogate someone. They both had the dry humor when they got going and they were good with steering people in the way they wanted the subject to go. Steve spotted the signs of infidelity and pursued it. He wasn't surprised that Eliot Connor's secretary was also his mistress.
Kamekona spared a few moments to call Steve to let him know that Danny had called him into the hospital as well, wanting to hunt up some of Sang Min's contacts. Steve told him to do so to the best of his abilities. He was pleased that Danny was feeling well enough to conduct an investigation from his hospital bed, with his daughter by his side.
Steve focused on tracking down the sarin, letting Danny follow Sang Min. Kono had news about a Russian named Yursky by the time he and Jenna returned to the office. Yursky wasn't in his hotel room and then Kono found him at an ATM. Steve and Chin hurried to the site and chased via car and then on foot. The chase was short lived as Yursky's driving had damaged the sarin. The man died by his own weapon. Steve found several biohazard containers in Yursky's trunk and knew that the case wasn't over yet. Yursky had no reason to want the Fallons dead.
In the midst of Danny being sick and Wo Fat and sarin and Sang Min, IA was the last department Steve wanted to see represented in 5-O's office. They revealed the lie with the serial numbers and that they now had proof that Chin hadn't stole the money originally. IA was going to go forward with their case against Chin's uncle. All of Chin's lies meant nothing. Steve asked for the true origin of the cash that Chin shouldn't have gotten his hands on. Chin admitted to going to the bookie, Markham, and making a deal for his house. Steve ordered Chin to undo it. He was pretty sure the bookie would rather erase the original exchange than to mess with 5-O again. If he didn't, Steve was willing to force him.
Jenna brought their focus back onto the sarin by finding the source of the hazardous storage containers and finding a connection, a set of phone calls, between Yursky and Eliot Connor.
Eliot Connor didn't show any of the previous signs of deception and it wasn't long before they realized that the secretary had been the instigator. She had been trying to get her man, get her man more power with the added bonus of getting a lot of money for herself. In the parking garage, Steve dived out of the way of a second vehicle gunning for him that day. He was more successful stopping this one after the fact. Chloe didn't have Sang Min's driving skills.
Chloe's interrogation was short. She didn't feel any shame for her deeds. The case was solved and within enough time for Steve to return to the hospital to check up on Danny and to take Grace home for the night.
Steve was completely surprised to see Rachel asleep on Danny's shoulder. He couldn't deny the pleased contentment that permeated Danno's whole body. He was surrounded by the girls he loved and would heal quickly. Steve went home alone, but happy.
Things were quiet in the office for a full day. The doctors were reluctant to release Danny and Steve had given Kono and Chin a couple hours off for a job well done. As soon as he got an ETA for Danny's return, he passed it to the rest of the team. Everyone was in attendance.
Steve was momentarily distracted by another returned clue from his father's toolbox but even that paled in comparison to Danny's return.
Danny looked good, not like he had been on death's door a mere thirty hours prior. He was in good spirits and Steve knew that was because of Grace and Rachel. Danny made nice with Jenna and Steve was pleased that the team was united, even the unofficial member.
Steve had to pry about Rachel. He had been a witness through some of the horrible custody disputes and felt invested enough to get an accurate assessment of the situation. Danny was vague but happy enough to tease Steve. Steve delighted in teasing Danny back.
Then Sang Min showed up –how the hell had he gotten into the office without anyone stopping him?- and everything went sideways. Sang Min might be claiming sanctuary, but he was still a double-crossing snake.
Sang Min might get Steve one step closer to capturing Wo Fat. Or Sang Min might get Wo Fat one step closer to Danno and his very special abilities.
Chin checked for bugs when he dropped Danny home that night and Steve wasn't surprised that suddenly the detective was important enough for surveillance.
Danny hated, hated, hated it but he called up Rachel from the current safety of his car and cancelled his next weekend with his daughter. 5-O had a new priority: find who was planting the bugs at Steve and Danny's residences. Kono and Chin managed to match the manufacturer. Whoever was bugging one man was surely bugging the other. Steve wouldn't be surprised if Wo Fat was behind it all.
Steve decided that no one should be alone. He asked Chin if Kono could sleep on his couch and brought the protesting Danny home. He could have Mary's room until they solved the case.
And Steve was sure that they would solve the case. Whoever it was would tip their hand soon. Danno's talents were just too tempting to wait.
It was bound to happen.
Steve had been waiting for this moment since he realized that Danny could fly when the rest of the human population just had wings for decoration. He had been preparing himself, his team and Danny for this moment. Steve had known the clock was winding down ever since Danno had been infected with sarin and lost control of his wings in front of several medical and HPD personal.
Wo Fat had kidnapped Grace.
Danny was a couple stories higher than Steve on the hotel balconies overlooking the bay. They were there because of Sang Min's intelligence and now Danny had a perfect viewpoint. He could see his daughter crying. He could hear his daughter crying.
There were a hundred people, two news crews and a quarter mile of ocean between the father and the daughter and Steve was sure that Danny could hear his Monkey crying for him.
Steve couldn't drive over the ocean and he didn't have a helicopter near enough to land on Wo Fat's boat before his was out of sight. The only way to the boat would be to fly. If Danny exposed himself, he would expose Grace. Wo Fat had to suspect, which was why he had kidnapped Danno's only offspring. If Danno lost the gamble of flying to Wo Fat's ship, he would lose in every way possible and Wo Fat would win. The two would be prisoners their entire lifetime and their bodies would be dissected after death.
Danny was bunching his muscles, because it was a risk worth taking. He was about to surrender to try and free his daughter. The odds were horrible, but that had never stopped Steve (or Danny) before.
"Danno!" he screamed.
Danny glanced down at him. Steve yelled again before he lost his attention. "Fly me over there!"
"I'll do the fighting. You get Grace free."
Danny didn't agree out loud. His 'sparrow' wings appeared. He dove off his balcony and banked at the perfect moment. Steve was waiting for him with his arms stretched up high. Danny caught him up and they were flying. It was both more and less secure than hanging from a helicopter tether. Danny shook off one of his hands and grabbed Steve's belt.
"Open your wings," Danny told him breathlessly. "You're a hell of a lot of dead weight and your wings should help."
Steve shucked off his shirt and let it drop to the ground. (It landed in a palm tree). He opened his wings, felt one of Danny's hands bury deep into the down and could feel the wind rise up beneath them. He was glad that he had added Danny's exercise regimen to his own, keeping his legs parallel to his back worked some muscles that the otherwise wouldn't have been ready for this exertion. He could hear the gasps of the crowd below. He wasn't flying but it was still awesome. He was very shaky at gliding, but anything to make Danny's flight easier. Danny flew out to Wo Fat's ship. They could hear the arms dealer order his men not to kill them but to capture them. That gave Steve a distinct advantage.
He meant to kill them all.
"Three, two," Danny gave him that little bit of warning before dropping him on the deck of Wo Fat's ship. "One." Steve rolled to avoid getting hurt in the fall. He swung his leg around and disabled the nearest attacker within moments. He broke that man's neck, grabbed his gun and began to systematically kill everyone on the ship.
He didn't have to worry about Danny and Grace, 'cause Grace –definitely her father's daughter- had seen her father coming for her and had Ijumped off the ship sailing through shark infested waters./I Her arms had been tied behind her back but since no one (but possibly Danny) knew how to restrain or had a reason to restrain wings, her wings unfurled above the edge of her sundress and she flew straight into her Daddy's arms. Danny gathered her up and she wrapped herself around him like the monkey he called her.
Steve was on his own.
Danny would fly Grace back to the big island and Chin would enact Operation Monkey Preserve. Even if Danny wanted to fly back to give Steve back-up, Chin and Kono wouldn't let him. He needed to stick close to Grace. Chin and Kono would keep Danny and Grace safe. Steve just had to stay alive long enough to join them.
And he had to kill as many of these bastards that he could.
The next time Steve had a non-violent thought in his head, the deck of the ship was empty. He had either killed them all (he wasn't sure on that count, but Wo Fat was definitely dead and he had the body to prove it this time) or they were hiding from him. A helicopter was hovering above and a rope was tossed down to him.
Steve took two steps back and aimed a gun (not his, the fifth one he had acquired and it had four shots remaining in the magazine). Cath waved out the window. Steve relaxed but not totally. He used military sign to ask Isee orders/I. Cath would understand what he wanted, because Chin would have sent the papers to her, probably even before Danny and Steve had made it to Wo Fat's ship. Cath showed him a red folder and then passed the folder to a special ops guy to her left. He was vaguely familiar to Steve, but he wasn't sure of the guy's name.
The ops guy shoved the folder into his rigging and then repelled to the ship's deck. Steve kept his gun trained on the guy, but the other man was careful not to make any threatening moves. He landed twenty feet away, pulled the red folder out of its safe place and jammed it under some rigging to keep it in place. With his hands up, the guy stepped way back, so that Steve could approach. Steve carefully did. He was almost sure of what he would find in the folder, but he had to see.
Cath had written on the inside cover of the folder 'this is real, McGarrett.' The papers themselves, Steve and Chin had typed up nearly six months ago when Danny had started working on their wings. It detailed the agreement 5-0 would have with the American government in exchange for safety of 5-0 and Danny's family. Chin had attached the document to a text to Cath and Cath had sent it up the chain of command. Even knowing that this would happen, Steve still blinked when he saw the President of the United States' signature on the bottom of the last page. These papers were a fax, or a copy of a fax, but someone had had to book to get these papers signed by now. He had honestly been expecting the Secretary of the Navy to authorize it and the President to approve it at a later date.
Steve looked up at the armed messenger. The messenger was keeping a sharp eye on the deck of the ship. His hand was on his own gun and it was pointed away. He was supposed to keep Steve safe without making him nervous. The messenger met his eyes. "Please get on the bird, sir. Let us secure the ship."
Steve nodded, secured his gun and reached for the messenger's rope. Unfortunately, this was his lot for the foreseeable future: he would be the Iprotected/I instead of the Iprotector/I. He could handle it for a year. Could Danno?
"One moment, please," the messenger said. He had unhooked his rigging and offered it to Steve. "No unnecessary chances."
Steve wanted to roll his eyes, but understood. 5-0 and Danny's family were going to be handled with kid gloves for a while. Steve would get tired of this quick, so would the rest of his team. He expertly strapped on the rigging and attached himself to the rope. He was pulled up as a full ops team slid down.
As soon as Steve was secure in the helicopter, the ropes were retrieved and the pilot veered off. The ops team was left to deal with Steve's mess.
Cath handed him a headset and, with an admiring grin, a shirt. Steve put them on and cocked an eyebrow.
Cath rolled her eyes. "When you said that your partner had talents, flying was not what immediately came to mind."
Steve shrugged. "He's also an awesome dad."
"Yeah," Cath smiled with remembrance. "Saw that too."
"Safe with Williams and the rest of your team."
"My team?" Steve asked.
"Settling in on the Enterprise."
"All of them?"
"All of them plus Williams' ex-wife."
"Not Stan?" Steve was slightly confused.
Cath shook her head slowly. "No Stan civilian was brought on-board."
The USS Enterprise came into view and it didn't take Steve long to spot his team on the deck. They were grouped together far away from everyone else. Danny had an arm around Rachel and was holding Grace in his other arm. Danny's wings were hidden; Grace was using her wings to hide her face. Chin and Kono flanked him. Steve had to look twice. Both had their substantial wings out. Chin's Hawaiian Hawk wings were as obvious as his bare chest but Kono's pure white wings were too close to the ethereal, unsubstantial, typical Asian wings to be seen easily. She had been wearing a bikini undercover when the whole thing had blown up in their faces. Danny had been so sure that her wings would darken into a known pattern but they hadn't. With a little bit of research, the team guessed that her wings resembled the endangered 'Akikiki bird of the Kaua'i wetlands. Chin's wings didn't surprise Steve, but Kono's did. She couldn't do it on her own, so someone was helping her. From everything Steve had observed about Danny and his 'wings lessons,' Danny's wings had to be out for him to create long term substance on others.
Steve climbed out of the helicopter and jogged their way. Then Steve tilted his head. Were Grace's fingers buried in Kono's wings? Yet another trait that Danny had given his daughter. No one was going to reveal that.
Danny waited until Steve was two steps away. Steve could see the anger in his face and was glad that his hands were full. Danny slugging Steve on a flight deck would have been a horrible way to start their year.
"What the hell did you sign us up for, McGarrett?" Danny hissed loudly. Steve wasn't too worried about people overhearing because the flight deck was even louder.
"One year of safety and hopefully enough money so that we can take care of ourselves when the year is up."
"So we're going to be lab rats?"
"They're not allowed to touch you unless you sign off on it and they are not allowed to touch your family at all. You're here as a teacher."
Danny wrinkled his eyebrows. "Teaching what?"
"How to make wings substantial."
"I can't do that. I'm not a teacher."
"You did it for us."
"That involves a lot of touching and liking people," Danny complained. "Not to mention the time involved. That's not teaching."
Interesting. "You get to vet everyone who gets on the list. They have to get on the list before they are allowed on board. And the Powers That Be realize that they must take into account time and a possibility of failure involved. It was detailed on the contract."
"Yeah, about the contract, since it was written, oh, a year ago, how come neither of you two yahoos showed it to me?"
"Closer to four months," Steve wanted to correct Danny's exaggeration. "You didn't think we needed it."
"You could have showed it to me after the fact."
Steve debated between diverting the imminent rant and letting Danny get it out of his system. He chose diversion. "Where's Jenna?"
Chin shook his head. "She wasn't answering her cell and no one is picking up at 5-O."
"That's not good," Danny said. He liked the plucky CIA analyst.
"I've got HPD looking for her. As soon as they find her, they're putting her on a helicopter for here," Chin promised.
Steve nodded shortly. "We'll have the flight deck contact us as soon as there is word."
"That's something." Danny brushed Grace's hair out of her face. "Can we get out of the wind?"
"Sure. This way." Steve checked that no jets were landing and then jogged to the nearest side port. They would need to find a ranking officer to show them to their berths.
Danny elbowed. "Don't you relax. I can just hear you thinking in sailor terms."
Steve sniffed. He had no idea what Danny was talking about. His 'ohana followed him across the deck and through the door. Steve slid to a stop when faced with a commander. Steve saluted to the higher rank out of habit. "Sir." Out of the corner of his eye, he was relieved to see that there was just enough space behind him for Danny's family. He didn't see Chin but was sure he was watching their six.
"Lieutenant Commander McGarrett, I was just about to join you on the topdeck."
"Sir, the wind was a bit much for Grace."
The commander softened enough to make Steve suspect that he had daughters of his own. "Understood. I'm Commander Chris Robins, the XO of the Enterprise. I'll be responsible for your welfare during your tour. Unfortunately, we don't have a billet ready for all of you yet." Commander Robins was a barrel-chested man, about Danny's height. He had black hair and olive skin. He was as no nonsense as one'd expect the XO of an aircraft carrier to be.
"Understandable." After all, the Enterprise was filled to capacity with a completely different mission four hours ago.
"We're emptying out the officer quarters for you, and your family," the commander met Danny's eyes. "I'm afraid that the tight quarters will take some adjustment."
"Just so long as we're free to move about."
Robins nodded. "You have no restricted sites aboard. Not even against carrying weapons; if you need more ammunition, please stop by the armory. But for safety's sake, we ask that you have an escort in some areas and obey their directions. Please keep your phones on you at all times. Lt. Rollins will tag them. We'll be tracking you, in case of any unauthorized visitors."
Danny shrugged. It made sense. "Visitor rules. I will need a gun safe wherever I'm sleeping."
Grace's head popped off Danny's shoulder and she looked around the grey metal walls. "Oh, we're inside a… home… visiting?" Her wings disappeared and Danny shifted her around so that he could hold her more comfortably. "Sorry Mommy," she whispered. It must have been one of Rachel's rules.
Rachel smiled shakily at her daughter. She adjusted the sundress up a bit, now that the wings weren't in the way anymore. "It's alright, darling."
"Miss Williams, it is more than okay," Robins told her. "In fact, we hope to see a lot more wings around her soon." He snagged a passing sailor and told him. "Inform the captain that we'll need a gun safe in the cabins." The man nodded and ran off.
"There are more people like us?" Grace asked her father hopefully.
"Not yet," Steve answered her. "We hope your dad can change that."
"Oh." She carefully examined her father's face, seeing the clues of his rioting emotions. She hugged him tight.
Robins continued. "How about a tour? Bring your entire team inside?"
Steve checked with Danny first. He looked like he needed a purpose, something he had to learn for his daughter's sake. "Thank you, sir." Kono opened the door behind them and brought Chin inside. His wings were put away and he was wearing a shirt again.
"Detective Daniel Williams, Lieutenant Commander Steven McGarrett, Officer Chin Ho Kelly, Officer Kono Kalakaua, Mrs. Edwards and Miss Williams, allow me to be the first to welcome you aboard the USS Enterprise," Robins said. "I hope to make this ship as comfortable a stay as possible. If you'll follow me."
Robins worked his way through the ship, first pointing out the mess.
"Miss Williams, what's your favorite meal. Hamburgers? French fries? Macaroni-n-cheese?"
"That's not good for Danno's cholesterol," she told him seriously.
Robins nodded back just as seriously. "Of course. So should we plan salad and tofu?"
Grace shook her head. "We like salad. Can we have s'ghetti?"
Robins glanced at a cook in the galley who nodded and started setting aside ingredients. "S'ghetti, it is. A chef will be transferred in by tomorrow," he told the adults. He smirked a bit. "As one of the sailors staying aboard, I'm looking forward to it. QOL is going up. Moving on."
Next were sick bay and the engine room. He pointed out the heads –that means bathroom, Miss Williams. They stopped by Cath's 'office' and she had returned to her post already. As promised (or threatened, depending on one's point of view), Cath inserted a computer chip in all of their phones, even Grace's, to track their location. She smiled and winked at Grace and was rewarded with a giggle. Cath told them that if they were ever in danger, or even just thought they were, to text 'kokua,' Hawaiian for 'help,' and she would send security to their location.
With the exception of Cath, sailors stopped and stared at the civilian procession. There were a lot of double-takes as sailors realized that the XO was leading the 'people that had flown on TV, for real.' Steve wasn't surprised that the entire ship could ID them, the scuttlebutt on an enclosed area was faster than the speed of sound, it sometimes seemed. The smarter ones used the excuse of saluting the XO to get an eyeful of the celebrities. Robins' presence insured that they didn't stare for too long. They all had work to do. If they didn't, Robins gave them some. The first sailor to attempt to take a picture of the procession got thrown in the brig. No one else tried. Steve was impressed on how Robins quietly disciplined the petty officer without scaring Grace.
"Next, the bridge. It's a bit adrift," he warned Grace. "Don't mind the noise, Miss Williams."
The bridge was twenty men running in thirty different directions. The captain was directing the mess. "I want them all gone. Don't forget the Binnacle List. If they can't justify the division's existence with our new mission, I want them gone. What's their ETD?"
Someone on the other end of the cacophony answered.
"Not good enough. Tell them to pack up and get topside ASAP."
Robins got in the captain's line of sight and everyone hushed. They were as curious about Danno and his family as the enlisted personnel. The captain strode over to the 5-O team. There was a genuine smile on his face. "Welcome aboard the USS Enterprise. We look forward to being a part of history. The cabins have been emptied and are ready for your presence. The wardroom will be your mess whenever you're hungry. We are clearing out a locker for your offices. Robins will be available to you at any time you need anything. As soon as we have safety procedures in place, there will be drills." The captain looked a bit harassed, "but they haven't been written yet." Now he addressed Robins more than the 5-O team. "We shifted her bearing 5 degrees. Staying on the move. As of yet, word of your location hasn't leaked, but that will change shortly. Hopefully, soon we'll have a chance to share a meal." The captain shook everyone's hand and then the CPO appeared at his elbow.
"If you'll excuse me. I'm leaving you in the best of hands; Robins will take care of all your needs." The captain dived right back into the chaos.
Robins stepped forward. "Let's get you squared away." Steve thought that he would have preferred being in the middle of the chaos, but he'd return soon enough. "This way." It was a short walk to the cabins. "Mrs. Edwards what is your housing preference?"
"I'll stay with Daniel and Grace," Rachel declared. Danny didn't look too surprised –or horrified- at the announcement.
Robins nodded. "Then this will be your billet."
Rachel poked her head inside at the rather Spartan room. The bed was at least big enough for two. A cot was situated in the corner for Grace, or for Danny, depending on Rachel's mood. "Thank you," she told Robins. Steve wondered if she realized that it was the captain's own cabin. She looked questioningly at Danny.
He shook his head. "I want to know where everyone else will be staying first."
There was something in his tone that Rachel understood. Probably because it related to Grace's safety. Danny took that extremely seriously, even if he and Rachel often disagreed with his methods. She decided to trust him in this case.
Grace tried to whisper in his ear. "I need the bathroom."
Danny looked to Rachel and she nodded. Danny set his daughter down for the first time since her kidnapping. Grace reached for her mother's hand immediately. She looked longingly at her father, wanting both of her safety nets in view.
"I'll be right down the hall," he promised.
Grace breathed deep and nodded. "Okay."
"Yell if you need me."
"Okay. Love you, Danno."
"Love you more." He hugged her again.
No one made a comment about him returning in five minutes. The girl had just had her entire world turned upside down and was in shock from her kidnapping. The females disappeared through the door.
Robins called out softly, "Torre?" A woman in a tac vest and armed stood in the doorway behind them. "She's security on this end and their bodyguard if need be. Booker is on the other end. He's solid. No one will get into this passageway without written orders from myself or the captain."
"Good," Danny answered. "I want her file before making her the girls' permanent bodyguard. And Booker's too."
"Of course, sir. I'll also get you the files of their scheduled relief, several alternate personnel files and those suggested as security for the rest of the team."
"If you follow me." Robins skipped the XO's cabin, that Steve bet now housed the captain, and moved lower into the ranks. "This will be Lt. Commander McGarrett's. This will be Officer Kelly's and this next one Officer Kalakaua's billet. Any questions?" They were only a hundred feet away from each other.
"Not at this time," Steve answered for the team.
"I imagine that you have much to discuss. I will leave you to it. If you need anything at all, please do not hesitate to contact me." Robins saluted because of respect not because it was required. "I hope this year is pleasant for you all." He turned on his heel. As soon as he was through the door and second shadow stood in the doorway. It was the other security guard, Booker, keeping the enlisted from getting too adventurous.
Kono walked into her billet and collapsed on the bed, shoes and all. "It's been a long day, brah."
"That it has," Chin agreed. He imitated his cousin in his quarters.
Steve and Danny remained in the semi-privacy of the passageway. Both were intimately aware of the armed person behind them.
"What do you think of the ship?" Steve asked.
"Seeing as it'll be completely different in the morning?" Danny asked back.
Steve huffed a laugh. "That it will. Knock on the door when you want dinner. It's gonna be s'ghetti."
"Don't wanna miss that," Danny quipped. "See you then." He disappeared into the captain's cabin. Steve could hear Gracie's squeal of joy with his arrival.
Steve let himself into his temporary abode. Steve's berth was bigger than his last billet. It would do for a year. He checked the bed. Fresh sheets, perfect corners. It was a nice touch. He checked the mattress and was pleased with its firmness.
"Lieutenant Commander?" Steve turned to look and the petty officer saluted. "The XO would like to see you in the conference room. Right away, sir."
Steve nodded and followed. He was somewhat familiar with the Enterprise now, but he had traveled on many ships and the layout of each one was similar enough and different enough to be confusing.
Robins was waiting for him in the conference room. "This concerns the CIA analyst, Ms. Kaye."
Steve looked at the XO's serious expression and sat down opposite the man. Jenna was dead.
"Her body was found at 5-O HQ. A bullet to the head. Execution style."
"Does HPD have any leads? Who's handling the investigation?"
"NCIS is, but she left a message in the event of her death."
A pit developed in Steve's stomach. Jenna… had been playing two sides of a fence, but which fence? Then Steve realized that there was only one fence and Wo Fat had been on the other side.
Damn it, Jenna.
"I'll leave you to view it in privacy." Robins tilted his head at the monitor and handed Steve the remote. He left the room and closed the door behind him. Steve didn't dally. He pushed play immediately.
Jenna Kaye sat in front of the video camera and Steve knew this was going to be as bad as feared. "Steve," she started. "If you're viewing this, then Wo Fat decided that I was a loose end. I'm sorry. I'm hoping that he had me taken out because you had won against him. I am cheering for you, but he has my fiancé. My fiancé is still alive as long as I feed him information. I am truly sorry and good luck. Anything that I've withheld from you while I was alive is in the same folder as this message. If you didn't get him before I died, I hope you get him after."
The message ended and Steve checked the timestamp. She had recorded it only a couple days after they had 'decided to work together.' Steve now understood that Jenna had been sent to 5-O specifically to gain access to 5-O's inner circle. She had done her job. Steve just hoped that Jenna hadn't been the one to tell Wo Fat about what sarin had done to Danno's wings. He would never tell Danny his suspicions. He didn't want to mar Jenna's memory. There were plenty of medical personnel that had witnessed Danno's wings during the sarin incident; any one of them could have sold the information to Wo Fat. Or gossiped to someone who sold the information to Wo Fat. Steve bet that the entire hospital was buzzing with news about Danny's wings.
Steve tried to forget the conversation he had had with Jenna in the hospital, where she had asked if Danny had any family and Steve had told her about Gracie and Rachel. Or the one later on when Jenna had warned that several physicians were calling 5-O headquarters wanting to know more about Danny's wings.
"She told Wo Fat."
Steve jumped at Danny's sad voice. He hadn't heard his partner's approach. He wondered how long he had been standing there. Who had told Danny where to find Steve? Most likely, the same petty officer that had told Steve. Robins had probably directed him into this conference room. The military as a whole had decided to tell Danny the truth to his every question. They didn't want Danny to get the impression that they were withholding information; Steve had warned against that in the contract. "We don't know that."
"She said that her fiancé was still alive. She had managed to dance to Wo Fat's tune for over a year. I'm betting that a year ago she wouldn't have considered putting a child at risk just because of her principles. And it would have to be the principle of the matter since she had never met Grace. But now, a year later? How much torture had her fiancé endured? How many times had Wo Fat punished the fiancé for Jenna's principles? How much longer could her fiancé endure?"
"She should have known that Wo Fat would never keep his side of the deal."
"At that point, all she had was hope. Hope is strong."
Steve couldn't argue with that. "You aren't mad?"
"I'm furious," Danny countered. "But she's dead. Her fiancé is probably dead and we're alive. I'm in shock. Who am I supposed to yell at?"
It made a little too much sense for Danny. "Did someone slip you a valium?"
"Cute, Steven, real cute."
"You want to find the wardroom? See if they've started serving the garlic bread?" asked Steve.
Danny shrugged. "Why not? I need to pick up the girls first."
That night, Steve and the rest of the transplanted civilians sat in their private mess and caught up. Cath joined them at Danny's invite. None of them wanted to be alone at the moment. The spaghetti dinner had been delicious and picked up by a pair of wide-eyed petty officers. Grace slept between her parents, so everyone spoke softly. The future was too uncertain. So instead of talking about that, they talked about how all of them safely arrived on the Enterprise.
Chin had texted Kamekona and the big native had picked up Rachel as planned. He had gotten Rachel to safety because no one had expected a (wealthy) VIP to be traveling via a shaved ice truck. Kamekona hadn't been told the entire truth but as soon as Grace had been kidnapped, Rachel had known that if there was a chance to escape, Grace would use her wings and expose the secret. So when Kamekona had appeared on her doorstep saying that Chin said that Danny had found 'the kei-kei' and that their reunion had been televised, Rachel had been ready with several bags packed for her and her daughter. Those bags had been unpacked in their cabin before they had been shown their new room. Whatever happened to Step-Stan, Steve would have to glean from Danny later.
Danny had flown Grace to the pre-arranged location in the middle of a state preserve. Danny had planned for their safe place as soon as Grace had been kidnapped. So Kono and Chin had managed to ditch any of the reporters or tourists and meet them in Kono's car. Chin's motorcycle had been abandoned in front of the Hilton. Kono had driven in circles, in the direction of the naval base. They were waiting on the return text from Cath. It was then that Steve found out that with the contract text, Chin had also sent a video of him and Danno flying out to Wo Fat's ship.
Cath had gotten the text right about the time the first news cast had interrupted regular programming. So the ship's entire chain of command was watching as Cath demanded to speak with the captain. The captain hadn't fully read the contract before moving it up to SECNAV who sent it to the President, and told the Enterprise to send Steve a helicopter and to transport the rest of 5-O to safety. By then, the captain (and probably Robins) had poured over the contract and knew what was expected of them. They had to keep 5-O and family safe and happy and in exchange they'd have a chance of having flying soldiers. First, they had to get 5-O somewhere secure, preferably on the Enterprise. Cath had triangulated Chin's phone and the captain sent a helicopter directly to their current location. A sailor had asked for the keys to Kono's car. He promised to drive it to a secure location on base. A second sailor had requested everyone else's keys. He was in charge of securing all other personal property. Steve would have to find out where all their personal belongings were stored.
"What about the rest of your family?" Danny finally asked Kono. "You're related to like half of the islands."
"Most of them are cops," Kono reminded him. "Don't worry about it. HPD is circling around them. We're getting tons of text messages. Everyone is proud that we are part of the impossible. Tourism has already gone up. All the hotels are booked solid. Some people say it must be something in the water that three people are showing up with real wings all at once."
"What? What? No!" Danny was horrified. "This is Inot/I a Hawaii thing. No way is this pineapple-infested island getting credit for a Jersey thing. Nah-uh, no way."
"You really want to attract attention to your family?" Chin Ho asked.
Danny paused for a moment, state pride warring with his need to keep his family safe. It was only a moment before his family's safety won out. "Fine. So how are you taking care of my family in Jersey? Since you bright people thought of everything else."
"Everyone's bunkered down in your father's old fire station until everything dies down. I personally called your father and told him that the secret was out while we were flying out to the meet. I like your da. He understood immediately and kept a calm head."
"Firefighter. The only time I ever saw him flip out was when my mom had passed out. She was pregnant and hadn't known it. He and I came home and found her on the kitchen floor, disoriented. That was the only time."
Chin hmmmed. "I got the impression that he lost a bet."
"Lost a bet," Danny echoed dangerously.
"Hmm-mm, with family members. I think they had a bet on when your secret would spill."
Danny didn't appear to be surprised. "It could be true. Man, I hope not, but the family bets on everything. Even the kids. Everyone puts in a quarter –or in the high stakes kitty, a dollar- and places their bet. When babies are going to born, how big they're goin' to be, especially. What time certain family member will arrive from out of state. Stuff like that."
"We have something like that," Kono jumped in. "The aunties pay in a quarter and whichever one had the biggest grandchild that year gets the kitty."
Danny laughed and the rest of the table joined in. The rest of the night was Danny vs. Kono and Chin telling the most outrageous family story. The rest of them laughed until they hurt. They kept at it past mid-night. Then Steve's memory got a little fuzzy. He thought he might have heard Danny tell Chin that flying was exhausting as shoes and socks were removed and he was being tucked into bed.
But he might have dreamed that.
"We should get to work," Steve said just after breakfast when Rachel looked smothered by Danny's hovering. They had a year to get on each other's nerves. Steve wanted to postpone the tension as long as possible. Grace might be blooming with her father's attention, but something had Rachel on edge. "I was told that we have office space set up and a pile of personnel files to comb through looking for your new students, Danno."
Danny readily agreed. "Let's get this pelagic school started." He was feeling the inactivity already. Steve knocked on Chin's door and wasn't surprised to see Kono lounging on the spare bed answering text messages.
"Time for work," Steve said. He had meant for it to be a question, but the tone was a little demanding.
Danny smirked at him but let it pass. Kono and Chin hopped to and followed Steve who knew the layout of the Enterprise the best. Danny and 5-O walked to their new conference room. They didn't run into a fraction of the people they met in the walkways yesterday.
"Where is everyone?" Danny asked.
"On the flight deck."
"Learning the new rules?" Chin guessed.
Steve answered, "Or getting shipped off."
"Shipped off?" the team echoed.
"Anyone whose job can't be justified on the Enterprise now is getting shipped out. It's only going to be Security, Intelligence-since all of the computers are wired into the ship and can't be moved, Maintenance, Medical and half of Admin. That's what was happening on the bridge," Steve translated all of the naval terms that had been tossed about carelessly.
"And us," Danny said.
"And us," Steve confirmed.
The conference room was much smaller compared to their old offices. The touch screen table now dominated the room. The governor had graciously had most of their equipment moved to the Enterprise and the Navy was pleased to have someone else pay the bill. The governor wanted 5-O to return to their former duties after things calmed down. The screen was carefully leaning against one wall, but no one had had a chance to set it up. It was going to be a tight fit with four desks squeezed around the perimeter.
Chin looked at Kono. "Ready, coz?"
Kono grinned and flexed her arms. "Tell me what to do."
While Chin and Kono were setting up the office electronics, Danny and Steve were seated in a corner, between the desks they had claimed, going through stacks and stacks of personnel files.
Danny sighed. "For once, I am looking forward to having the table up and running. This will be faster if we aren't dealing with paper. I'm afraid if I touch a pile I'll cause an avalanche."
"Part of it's my fault," Steve admitted. "I wrote in the contract that you had to have an informed decision on the applicants. I stipulated that any surprises would automatically disqualify the student from continuing in the school, no matter how far that person had come. Whoever read the contract took it seriously. Your security clearance just went up, way up." He held up a file. "I hadn't previously been cleared to know this op and this is just one file."
"Oh goody, a whole room of super SEALs." Danny tossed his file on top of the pile. He watched the pile slide a little, but hold firm. "This isn't going to work."
"Okay," Steve acknowledged that Danny didn't work the same way as the rest of the world. The wings were just a small part of it. "What would? What would make it easier to choose some people? Keep in mind that you don't have to make final decisions and be stuck with these same people for a year. We'll trade out until you are comfortable with everyone. It won't reflect on their records. So what do you want?"
Danny thought about it. "I want an essay, five hundred words? No more than a thousand. I want to know about them, things that I would never know from reading their jackets. Something important, not state secrets, but their priorities." He nodded decisively. "That would help."
Steve stood. "I'll go tell the XO."
"No need." Chin waved his cell phone. "I have Robins' cell number. Robins told me to text him with any problems and he'd delegate the solution. Something like Danny's essay question and he'll want to know immediate…" Chin's phone beeped. Chin checked the message and grinned. "Robins said that the essay makes sense. He's already sent out the order for all applicants to e-mail their answers within seventy-two hours."
"That's fast," Danny mused.
"It's not faster because a good portion of the applicants were submitted by their CO's." Chin had obviously had a long talk with Robins about the selection process. "Several applicants were on ops at the time of Danny's contract being signed and more are on tours of duty around the world."
"So they might not know about my little flying yesterday?" Danny asked hopefully.
Kono laughed. "Between the three news cameramen and the thirty-eight YouTube videos uploaded since it happened, even people deep in the jungles of the Congo know about your 'little flying.' Combined, you have the most hits in the history of YouTube. You now have a Wikipedia page."
Danny looked horrified at the notoriety. "How wrong is the Wikipedia page?"
"They have it locked. Only people that can prove a close connection to you are allowed to update it." Kono used her phone to access the site and summarized it as she read. "So far it pretty much says that you were born in New Jersey, was a detective with eighty-seven homicides solved to your credit. You moved to Hawaii and became a member of HPD and then 5-O, the governor's elite task force. And that yesterday you were the first person in the confirmed history of humankind to fly with your natural born wings."
Danny groaned loudly.
"No worries, brah," Kono consoled. "At least they didn't use your driver's license as your profile pic."
"Nope. You remember the picture that was in the paper after Walton Dawkins?"
"The one with me and the cane?"
"I looked like an old man."
"Argh! You know what, until I get some essays, I'm not going to make any decisions. Chin, you need any help?"
Chin looked at the tangle of wires in his hands and then to Danny who was notoriously bad with electronics.
Danny didn't give him a chance to turn down the offer. "Since you obviously have everything under control, I'm going to go spend some more time reassuring my daughter that she's not about to get kidnapped again." He waved at the team and meandered away.
Steve followed him at a safe distance, not sure the civilian could navigate the maze of an aircraft carrier. He was somewhat surprised when Danny didn't make a single wrong turn returning to the officer quarters.
Just as Booker stepped out of the way to their passageway, Danny turned and waved at Steve. "I made it, safe and sound, babe. Now, go do some SEAL stuff and quit hovering."
Steve laughed and walked away. Maybe he'd go find the weight room. He had some leglifts and crunches to do.
They hadn't planned on it, but the 5-O team met up in the enlisters' mess about lunch time. Steve was chatting with the SEAL commander, Alex Grumberger, that had cleared Wo Fat's ship when Danny walked in, hand-in hand with Grace. Many of the conversations hushed, but quickly resumed when Danny glared at them. He helped Grace pick out what she wanted for lunch and then chose a salad that made his daughter beam with approval. There wasn't anyone sitting near Steve, with his back against the wall, and Grumberger kitty-corner to him, so Steve at least wasn't surprised when the Williams joined their table. He was surprised when Danny arranged to sit between Steve and Grace. Steve figured that he would put Grace in the most secure location between the two of them. He did notice Torres standing in the corner watching all of the sailors with an eagle eye.
Completely nonchalant, Danny sat, arranged his plate and silverware the way it wanted it and then tapped Steve's shoulder. It was an old sign for him to open his wings while Danno made them solid. Steve wasted no time in stripping off his shirt and obeying. For some reason, since yesterday Steve hadn't been able to solidify his wings on his own. Danno would need to do this often and while in public, if he was going to get more people flying. Danno's real, 'sparrow' wings appeared through the slits in his shirt and when Danno's left hand tangled in Steve's shadows, his wings changed from shadows to their patterned selves. Steve hid a grin when Grumberger's mouth dropped open. It was one thing to see the YouTube videos, with shaky footage and a moving target a half mile away, and quite another to witness the wings stationary right in front of you. Even intellectually knowing how large they had to be to support a grown man, they were a sight to behold as they arched over their heads and the feathers trailed to the floor. Danno ignored him and shoveled food into his mouth with his right.
Steve continued talking knowing that Danny would not be happy with anyone staring. He already felt like a freak and he didn't want his daughter feeling the same. With a little prompting, Grumberger continued telling Steve about the men he had hadn't killed during his hunt on the ship. Those men had not surrendered to Grumberger's team, but rather forced the SEALs to kill them. Grumberger did a good job not actually saying the word 'dead' or 'kill' in front of Grace.
"So Super-Steve missed a few?" Danny teased as he pushed his empty plate away and stacked Grace's half-empty plate on top. Steve added her lack of appetite to her hollow eyes. She had night terrors over her kidnapping. She climbed into her father's lap, silently listening to the conversation. She felt safe there.
Steve huffed in indignation because it was expected of him. "They evac-ed me before I could clear the ship."
"Excuses," Danny countered.
"Why Steve didn't finish the job?" Chin asked as he sat in Grace's abandoned seat. He handed Grace a cookie, passed Steve an apple and Danny a cup of highly sugared coffee.
"Yep." Danny accepted the coffee. He released his grip on Steve's feathers and used that hand to drink his coffee. Steve shifted so his wing was pressed between his shoulder and Danny's. It was just barely enough contact to keep his wings solid. He didn't know why he was having trouble. Chin was wearing a vest with really large arm holes in the back and slacks. Danny nodded at him and Chin opened his shadow wings. Danny tangled his free hand into the brown feathers.
Though they had done this before, it was the first time they had done so in public. Too busy staring, two sailors dropped their lunch trays and the clatter echoed through the room. A lieutenant commander jumped on them and ordered them to clean it up, double-time. Then he ordered them out of the room for some unpleasant detail.
Steve ignored the noise. "Danny, Chin, this is Alex Grumberger. He's part of security for the Enterprise. He'll be doing the evening watch for the officer quarters. Alex, this is Danny and Grace Williams and Chin Ho Kelly." No one offered to shake hands because they didn't want Danny to stop what he was doing.
Grumberger did a good job making nice and even managed to coax a smile out of the silence Grace. He kept the conversation light talking about sports and cities on the East Coast. Grumberger was a Charleston boy –Vermont, as if there was any other Charleston, dipstick- and would cheerfully argue against Danny to defend his home. Danny could appreciate a loud, ridiculous fight and declared Newark to be better. Steve literally watched Danno's muscles relax the longer the fight continued. As Danno relaxed, so did Grace. Steve looked twice and realized that she had fallen asleep amidst all the arguing.
Kono strode in like she owned the place. In her bikini top and jeans, most of the guys would have given her whatever she wanted. Even Grumberger stopped and stared.
"That is my cousin," Chin told him.
"Sorry," he wiped the drool off his chin.
Kono joined their table and shifted Chin over. "My turn," she declared. She sat between Danny and her cousin and opened her slim wings inside of Chin's sturdy ones. Danny twisted his hand so that it was tangled in both of their wings at the same time. Kono's white wings stood out against Chin's brown patterns.
Danny looked down at his sleeping daughter and then over at Grumberger. "What do your wings look like?"
"They're grey. Just… grey."
"Well, take off your shirt. I figure you have no modesty either?" Danny teased both Steve and Grumberger in the same breath.
Grumberger wasted no time stripping off his shirts.
Steve answered while he was busy. "We work hard and it just so happens that we look good shirtless."
Danno reached across Steve for Grumberger's wings. The wings turned into a distinct grey pattern. "Owl, Great Grey," Danny said succinctly. He released the wing and it instantly returned to its former shadows. "You like the nights?"
"Yes." Grumberger said, unable to hide his awe. Steve knew exactly how he felt. For as long as he lived, he would never forget the first time, how it felt when his shadows had solidified into wings. "I'd sleep all day if I could."
"How did you know?" Steve asked.
"Matty had close to the same wing shape." Danny pressed Grace's head against his chest and covered the other ear, just in case she was faking it. "I think that's when he started to go wrong. He should have planned for a night job. He did awesome trading on the Japanese market but he sucked when he was trading during the day, living in New York and trading on Wall Street." He took his hand off of Grace's ear. "The Great Grey is also known as the Great Grey Ghost and the Phantom of the north, so that's kinda cool."
Grumberger was thrilled with the revelation. Steve was sure he'd look into it as soon as he had access. Though from the scholarly types sitting two tables over, Steve was sure that Grumberger was about to be dragged into the sick bay the minute Danny and Grace were out of the room. Though the United States government was bound by contract to not experiment of the Williams or 5-O, the soldiers and sailors jockeying to be part of the Wing School probably had to sign contracts allowing their bodies to be catalogued and tested, repeatedly. Those two doctors were probably the first researchers hired to find answers, while never allowed to even talk to the primary source. If he was looking for the solutions, he would have been greatly annoyed by the handicap. As the recipient of the space, he was pleased with Chin's forethought for including the clause.
"I'm going to put her to bed," Danny interrupted Steve's thought process. "I'll see you in the wardroom for dinner?"
"Chin, Kono, you want to come with me back to the cabin and tell me everything you've learned about the ship?" Danny would use the time to solidify their wings even more.
Steve wasn't surprised when the cousins took Danny up on his offer. He did laugh when the two scientists cornered Grumberger immediately and ordered him to report to sick bay. There were advantages to being a civilian. Steve looked down at the file he had hidden from Danny. It was official. He was retired. It didn't hurt as much as Steve had feared. The Navy had treated him well, but Steve was definitely moving on to better things.
He stood slowly, but trying to reveal any stiffness. His back was one big knot from his flight to Wo Fat's ship. He didn't want anyone to think that Steve couldn't handle the physical exertion from flying. If Danny could do it easily, Steve sure the hell could train his body to take the abuse too.
The next morning, Steve woke to Danny pounding on his berth door.
"What?" Steve finally called.
Danny opened the door and got an eye full of Steve wrapped around Cath. She had stopped by after her shift, given a suffering Steve a back message and never left. Danny hurried in and closed the door behind him. "Oh! You could have said something!" He was still facing the door.
"You could have waited for a proper invitation," Steve groused.
"So is this going to be a common occurrence? 'Cause we'll need a code."
"Waiting for a simple 'come in' should suffice."
"Nah, I'd never say that to you," Danny argued. "And I don't want you walking in on Rachel and me."
"You and Rachel?" Steve repeated, hoping to get the low down on that very rocky relationship.
"Ahh, Rambo-ette, how do you fit into all this?"
Cath laughed at the nickname. "The captain knows about my relationship with Commander McGarrett."
Danny laughed at that. "Really? You're naked in bed with him and you're calling him 'Commander McGarrett'?"
"Steve," Cath corrected herself. She and Steve were dragging on clothes under the blankets since it was obvious Danny wasn't going to leave without some extreme measures. "So I was told that my standing orders are to keep your secrets unless it compromises the security of the Enterprise. They are expecting Steve to report any breaches, but just in case he's not around, I'm to inform the chain of command."
"Can I turn around yet?" Danny asked.
"Yes," Steve grumbled. "You can also leave."
"No, I can't. I need help."
"I can leave," Cath offered.
"No," Danny waved his hands. "Steve trusts you and you don't know me and won't take my side. Rachel needs someone to listen to her and I'm not sure she'd consider Kono an unbiased party."
"Danno," Steve sat on the edge of the bed. "What's wrong with Rachel?"
"Nothing's wrong, per se, just atrociously bad timing." Danny paused. "Rachel is pregnant and the baby's mine and that, my friend, is going to be painfully apparent with the first ultrasound."
"Oh." Steve couldn't think of anything witty to say. "So Stan is out of the picture on purpose?"
"Yeah. He decided to hide out on his estate in Arizona. But more important people-: Rach and the baby. So she'll need doctors and pre-natal vitamins and I don't want people to treat her like a science experiment."
"How'd you manage it with Grace?"
"My mom had a mid-wife friend who helped with my birth 'cause she was more hippy than not. And it was a good thing too that I was born at home. Don't ask her about it, 'cause she Iwill/I tell you all about unexpected feathers mixed with the blood. But that was before ultrasounds were so common. With Grace, we knew there was a good chance she'd show up special early on, so we went back to Aunt Annie. Sure enough, it was a good thing we did."
"Do you want your Aunt Annie flown out here for the pregnancy?" Cath asked.
Danny stared at her as if that was like asking for the moon.
"Danny, the US government really wants to keep you happy because every other government out there would give you anything you wanted if you were willing to train their students."
Danny sighed. "I'm going to become a spoiled brat."
Steve didn't believe that, but he had reason. Since he had his pants on and his gun holstered to his belt, he charged and manhandled Danny into the hallway, regardless of his loud blustering. Danny managed to get in a few good punches, though at half strength.
"Really Steven? Really?"
Steve grinned at his partner. "Just keeping you humble."
Danny rolled his eyes.
"But seriously, Danno, Aunt Annie?"
Danny shrugged, glancing away to hide sorrow. "I really wish we could, 'cause she had a way with Rachel but she's seventy-two and is fighting stage three cancer."
Steve would have to start asking questions to see just how far the government was willing to go for Danny. Maybe Congress could pick up the bill for better cancer treatments?
"But anymore conversation is going to have to involve Rach. I just wanted to get the ball rolling."
"I'll look into it," Steve promised.
A freckled, redheaded young man was matching single pieces of paper to the personnel files as 5-O walked into their combined offices close to their normal arrival time for work days.
"Who are you?" Danny demanded.
"Petty Officer Crawford, sir. I'm assigned to get you what ever you require. I'm available whenever you need anything." He held up a stack of papers. "The essays you required."
"A coffee maker and a big bag of malasadas for breakfast," Danny answered blearily. Whatever had happened between him and Rachel after the discussion in Steve's berth had wearied him. That relationship was too uncertain for Steve's piece of mind. And to add a second child to the mix? Steve worried that Danny and Rachel would shatter each other in this pressure cooker. "I want good fresh coffee, none of that Navy…" Danny's voice trailed off as he decided how insulting he was going to be.
"There're some Hawaiian brands that he likes," Steve talked over him with a smile. Normally it was his job to be abrasive and Danno's job to smooth things over. The reversal in roles was interesting.
"Of course, sir. Will you need anything?"
Steve answered for the team. "Some civvies from our homes? Are our places secured?" Steve wanted a change of clothes and he knew that Kono and Chin were tired of living in the spares that they had had stashed in the trunk of Kono's car.
"Yes, sir. Yours, Mrs. Williams' and Mr. Chin's houses are." He made eye contact with Danny and Kono. "We have emptied the apartments, let the leases lapse and have brought everything onboard. You can go through it at your leisure."
"There's a good coffee maker in there," Danny offered. "We can use it in our office."
"Of course, sir."
"Hell, if you took everything, there should be some coffee grounds packed up too. I had just gone shopping."
"I'll get right on that, sir."
Danny turned before the petty officer could depart. "Oh, hey Crawford, how will we find you?"
He pointed to the entryway. "A desk is being put in out there for my use. I'm to regulate traffic, even after they get through the bodyguards. Just because they have clearance to see you doesn't mean you have to see them. Only the people you want will be permitted in your office."
"Good." Danny liked the idea. "My wife and daughter are always allowed access to me. Actually, my daughter is if we're not looking at anything gross and some days I'll be hiding from Rachel, but I'll tell you when that happens."
"Yes, sir." Crawford left on his mission.
"Let's see finish up the electronics," Chin told his coz. Kono grinned and the two of them returned to the battle of the wires. Now they were attaching the 5-O table to some internet and electronic connections that had been installed overnight. They would have the access and power to run all of their equipment soon.
Danny sighed and sat down in a corner chair and started reading the essays. It didn't take him long to start separating the piles, two large and one very small in comparison. Steve took the largest pile. "You don't like any of these?"
Danny looked up. "That one is a maybe-later-depending-on-the-lot-I-liked-initially," pointing at the small pile. He switched his finger to the other large pile of folders. "That one is the rejects."
Steve picked up the indicated pile. "You mind if I go through it and put some in the 'maybe later' pile?"
"Knock yourself out."
Steve read through the essays and personnel jackets. Crawford returned with expertly brewed coffee and fresh malasadas. The offerings were eagerly accepted by the group. Steve knew that someone must have taken a helicopter to the Big Island just for Danny's malasadas. Steve judged that it was a simple enough request from a national treasure. Steve handed Crawford pile of personnel rejected by both of the 5-O leaders, but Steve knew some of these other men and women. He thought Danny might like them too if he gave them a chance. After all, Danno didn't like him initially either and look at them now?
Why did Danny like some people and not others? After a while, Steve decided on a new tactic. He read through some of the essays of the accepted personnel. The first one was by an Air Force pilot whose grandfather, a WWII vet, had taught him to fly planes. Joseph Bell loved to fly and always believed that someday, he'd be able to use the shadow wings he had been born with. Ross Holland had been a Recon Marine until an IED had taken both of his legs. Holland was swift on his prosthetics (he was training for a marathon) as he encouraged vets at Bethesda. He wanted to give other disabled vets hope of mobility. It didn't matter how many limbs were missing everyone still had a full set of wings. Steve wondered how many fights Danny would have to keep Holland on the Enterprise. Too many people would consider the training wasted on him. Frankly, Steve was surprised that that Holland's file had made it all the way to Danny in the first place.
Jamal Pella wrote the concise essay of duty and honor that Steve would have written, only with fewer words. Steve was pleased to see a fellow SEAL and friend among those Danno had accepted. Steve double-checked the word count: Pella had written everything in five hundred words exactly, only if hyphenated words counted as two.
Carmen Forbes (Marines) and Lisa Arotin (Navy) were the only women in the pile currently. Both essays were close to a thousand words and were exceptionally well written. They were excellent communicators. Forbes was also a Jujitsu instructor and Arotin was a polyglot. If no one more qualified came through, the Williams might use them as instructors for Grace's education.
Christopher Steiger was an Army Ranger and combat engineer. His essay was more of a short story and much longer than a thousand words. He detailed a mission where wings would have been useful to get a civilian family over a river where insurgents had destroyed the bridge. Steve double-checked Steiger's jacket and sure enough the mission was included. Though Steiger hadn't mentioned it in the essay, he had lost half of the family due to enemy fire. Steiger wasn't even hoping for enough strength to fly the family over the danger if the situation ever happened again. No, Steiger wanted to be able to traverse the ravine and secure ropes on the other side so that everyone could move at once. Flying would merely be another tool in Steiger's impressive repertoire. Danny had probably picked him because he hadn't chosen to use the emotional blackmail.
Will Tanner was an Army sniper. His essay was less than three hundred words with multiple homophone mistakes. (A quick glance at his file confirmed that he suffered from dyslexia). Steve held up his file to Danny. "Why this one?"
Danny recognized the name immediately. "His wings are already brown and patterned. He might get them solid faster than the others."
That was a theory worth investigating. Steve put aside the 'accepted' and started filtering the 'to be rated' pile. Any soldier with color in their wings was moved to the top of the pile for Danny to judge. Steve found five with 'abnormal' wings, three of them female.
Steve yelled for Crawford. The man appeared in the doorway as if by magic. He handed the man the 'accepted' files before they could be lost in the towering stacks of personnel jackets. "These are the ones Danny likes. See that they're transferred."
"Immediately, sir," Crawford promised with a grin.
"Oh," Danny leaned around Steve to make eye contact with Crawford. "Make sure that Grumberger is included in the class."
It wasn't long after that Danny threw down his files. "I need a break and Gracie's asked to go flying and Chin needs some air time too. How's that going to go now that we can't drive somewhere secluded?"
"I think I need to talk to Robins and the captain, face to face for that," Steve said. "I can't imagine them saying no. How about the flight deck if no planes are incoming."
"That's fine. I'll get Grace and catch up with you topside," Danny answered. "Chin?"
"I'll be there," he said eagerly. "I just have to stop at my bunk first."
"Captain." Steve stood at attention even though he was technically a civilian, as of twenty-four hours ago.
"McGarrett," the captain acknowledged him between files his subordinates were showing him. "You requested a meeting?"
"The Williams were wondering if there was going to be any incoming traffic this afternoon."
"Traffic?" the captain repeated. "Just the normal comings and goings. I assure you that we are maintaining our high level of security on all ship's visitors, even pilots."
"I am sure that you are, sir. But the Williams were inquiring about the flight deck."
The captain blinked and almost smirked, but that would have been unbecoming for a man of his position. "Getting cooped up, are they?"
"Robins!" the captain called out. "Any incoming aircrafts?"
"No sir, not for four hours."
"The Williams can have the flight deck for three hours, just have someone that can call them in if someone needs an emergency landing."
"I'll be there, sir," Steve promised. He would take a communication headset from the workers of the flight deck.
The captain wasn't ready to dismiss him. "How regular of an occurrence will this be?"
"A couple times a week?" guessed Steve. It wasn't something that Danno liked to discuss, but Steve wanted to give Danny and Grace plenty of time to be up in the air. He wanted to fly again as soon as Danny was willing.
"Hmmm." He addressed his XO. "Robins, see about working the Williams into the flight schedule."
"Aye, sir." The XO looked pleased with the challenge. With the sudden habitation of 5-O and the Williams, the Enterprise had been taken off all patrol rosters. For the next year, the Enterprise was going to be a floating fortress for the 'Wing School,' which meant that many of the regular sailors had been unnecessary and a security risk. Those sailors had been shipped off to active ships and carriers within the first twenty-four hours. No reason to give idle sailors a temptation to sell information about Danny and family. The XO didn't have a lot to do now. Until the military started shipping in the new guys and Danny made more personnel decisions, things would be slow. So far the Enterprise was going in circles, dodging security hazards and being careful with their fuel consumption. As much as they were all military men who lived for the adrenaline of danger and believed in confronting enemies head on, there was a little girl on board depending on them avoiding it.
Steve hurried off the bridge to the topdeck. He wanted to witness Grace flying by herself. He wanted to witness Danny having fun his wings (because, seriously, he could fly!). It would be watching history unfold. Official military cameramen were setting up tripods in the shadows of the Enterprise. They would record these flights for posterity, but they would do so without making Grace self-conscious.
Danny, Grace, Kono and Chin were waiting. Grace was truly grinning for the first time since her kidnapping. She was dressed to use her wings and hopping from one foot to the other. Danny had a firm hold on her hand, so she wouldn't go far, and occasionally tugged on one of her braids to get her attention. Steve grabbed a flight deck headset in case of an emergency landing and jogged over to the group.
"Ready?" he asked.
Grace nodded enthusiastically.
"So we got the all clear?" Danny confirmed.
"The captain said that you can do this a several times a week around the incoming and outgoing jets."
"Yea!" Grace cheered. "Come on, Danno. Let's fly."
"Hold your horses, one more minute." He turned to address Chin. "We'll go around the boat a couple times, checking wind currents –updrafts, downdrafts, air pockets, any problem spots, etc. Then I'll be back and scoop you off the end." Steve was impressed that Grace had improved enough to not only fly solo, but that Danny was willing to occupy his attention with someone else. Then Danny dispelled that idea. "If Gracie gets into trouble though, I'm dropping your ass into the ocean and you'll have to swim back."
"Understandable, brah." Chin's legendary calm was wavering. He was nearly vibrating in place with anticipation. He was doing a grown-up version of Gracie's dancing. Steve couldn't tease him because he was going the exact same thing, hoping that Danny would change his mind and take him up too. Kono was more relaxed about the situation, but then she knew precisely how far she was behind the rest of them. For security concerns, 5-O had decided that they would gain their wings in stages and the rookie was last. Steve bet that Kono was counting how many months she was behind Chin in gaining control of her wings. He would be in the same situation. It would be akin to a child marking off the days on a calendar until Christmas.
"I'll try to give you a fair warning," Danno was still lecturing seriously and it was sobering enough that the adults settled. "It'll be up to you to make your wings disappear before you hit the water. Water and wings do not mix. We clear?"
"As crystal," Steve answered for them both. "And then you'll take me up?"
"No. Chin, you wanna say something?"
Chin lifted the contraption of straps and buckles in his hand. "Will this work? As a kind of harness?"
Steve and Danny looked it over. To Steve, it looked like the harness would distribute the pressure of Danny pulling from above on Chin's body. He wondered if Danny had any clue as to weight distribution verses the human muscles.
"Pretty good," Danny said, sure of his answer. "It's close to Grace's. I'll show you a picture of it when we're done here."
"Danno," Grace whined.
"I'm coming, I'm coming."
The two stood on the edge of the deck and opened their wings. Just for a moment, they basked in the wind tugging on their feathers. Then they grinned at each other, lost in a father-daughter moment that no one could join or intrude on.
"Last one in the air is a rotten egg," Danny called and the two of them dived off the Enterprise, stretched out their wings and glided. Danno flapped his wings, tilted his legs like a rudder and executed a sharp circle around Grace. His daughter didn't have the same abdominal strength and it showed. She actually had to work harder to get wherever she wanted to go because her legs hung down uselessly.
"Have you been doing Danny's leglifts?" Steve asked Chin. "Because Ithat/I stresses your back." Thank goodness for Cath's massage. He was still sore from his flight –glide- but it was nothing that he couldn't work through.
Chin was seeing the same problem that Steve was. "Not enough," he said ruefully.
"I have," Kono gloated. "Everyday, like Steve."
"What about your harness?" Steve motioned to the straps in Chin's hands. "You could set it up so that your body would remain straight."
"I didn't, unfortunately. I'll fix it later."
"Where did you get the harness, anyways? We're going to need more."
Chin stripped off his shirt and stepped into the harness, awkwardly. Obviously, he hadn't practiced putting it on and taking it off. "I had jerry-rigged it based off of climbing rigs. I combined two from the special ops storage."
"Good idea. You think Danno would take me up if I used it after you?"
"Don't know, boss," Kono said thoughtfully. "He won't even consider it right now. Maybe tomorrow?"
Maybe. Steve put on his borrowed headset, one earmuff off, one on and the microphone far away from his mouth. He didn't want to unintentionally transmit information. He judged the chatter to be inconsequential. They were discussing code names for the 'birds' up in the air. Grace was voted 'chickadee,' but no one could agree on what to call Danno.
Danny glided above. "You ready?"
Chin was all strapped in, standing on the edge and gave him two thumbs up. Danny glided past, dived off the end, hit an updraft and with a lot of speed, circled back again, low. He managed to slow down just a bit, his body vertical instead of horizontal but he still body-slammed Chin off the edge of the Enterprise, using the contact to grab hold of Chin's harness. Steve and Kono looked over the edge as Chin's wings stretched out and caught air. Before they hit the ocean, they were gliding. Danny caught the edge of another updraft, flapped his wings and pulled them both up. They were soaring. Chin's legs were slowing them down, but Danny seemed to be expecting that.
Steve and Kono sat on the edge of the deck and watched. Grace was in her element as she flitted about. Danny had a firm hold of Chin and was keeping him in the air. He was telling Chin some things pertaining to flight. It was too bad that Steve couldn't hear the lecture. It was odd seeing Danny talk when he couldn't wave his hands around.
Steve opened his wings and tried to make them solid. It worked for a moment and then they were gone. For some reason, Steve couldn't keep his wings solid like he used to. With the slightest bit of wind speed, they disintegrated from individual feathers to shadows. He worried a bit about back step. Kono was watching him with worried eyes, but then she returned her gaze to the wings above.
"Mind if I join you?"
Steve and Kono looked up. Grumberger looked a bit uncomfortable but eager.
"The scientists finally let you escape?" Steve asked.
Grumberger held up a bandaged arm. "They literally kept me for twelve hours. During which they took nearly half of my blood and… other fluids," he answered ruefully.
Kono patted the deck beside her. "Come join the ranks of the envious."
Grumberger sat down next to Steve and Kono on the topdeck and they watched the three humans soar.
"So I looked up my wings. The Great Grey Owl is rather impressive, though I'm glad I don't share the same face," he started the conversation.
Kono and Steve laughed with him, completely understanding the sentiment.
"Some of the traits I think I share and others, I hope to attain. I gotta ask, what about your birds?"
"I'm an osprey," Steve answered. "Predator of the waters all over the world. I do well both migrating and not."
"I'm an 'akikiki," Kono piped up. "Native Hawaiian wetland bird. Endangered but stubbornly holding on."
"And them," Grumberger waved a hand at those in flight.
"Chin's a Hawaiian Hawk and Danny claims to be a sparrow."
"Claims to be a sparrow?" Grumberger echoed. "Really?"
Kono and Steve looked at each other and then decided to trust the man. "We did some research," said Steve. "We think Danno identified himself rather young and was looking at adult bird wings instead of immature birds. We're pretty sure that his wings are that of the red-tailed hawk. It's harder to identify without the signature tail and it has an immature state and several color morphs. It's a survivor. It has adapted all over. For a bird of prey, it's pretty common."
"That makes more sense than a sparrow." They watched Danno glide and direct Chin in the same patterns. "That's a predator's flight pattern, not a sparrow's."
Grumberger waited a moment and then blurted out. "I've got a good team. Do you think Detective Williams would consider them?"
"We can ask, but it's all on him."
Danny and Chin swooped around. "Coming in for a landing!" Danny announced.
"You were only up there for eight minutes." Steve had been timing him.
"Don't want to do it for too long. Ready, Chin?"
"Yes." Danny glided in low and as slow as he could manage. Chin landed and promptly fell to the ground, holding his knee. "Ow," Chin said, surprised at the pain.
"Yeah," Danny landed as light as a feather two steps to the side. "You better get that looked at. How do you think I really screwed up my knee the first time? You can do a lot of damage with landings." He looked up at Grace still flitting around. "See a doc," he suggested. "I gotta get back up there." He dove off the side of the ship and was back in the air.
"I'll walk him to the infirmary," Grumberger offered. "I now know which doc has the gentlest touch."
"Cuz?" Kono asked.
"I'll be fine. It probably just needs wrapped. You stay and look after Grace and Danny." Chin reached to Grumberger for support and was hauled away.
"You think we could get a cushion out here to land on?" Kono asked.
"We're going to have to ask Danny about practicing landings. I'm sure he did something with Grace before letting her land on her own."
"True." Danny was notorious for being overprotective. Currently, he was circling around his daughter, yelling encouragement and offering helpful hints. They really needed to get Danny wired for sound, so that more than just the person flying with him got to hear the advice. Getting something appropriate from the military would easy compared to convincing Danny to wear it. Well, Steve would requisition something and then work on Danny.
Grumberger returned and reported, "It's just a sprain. They wrapped it and I took him to his berth to put his leg up and ice it." He looked at his wristwatch. "They've been up there a while. I need to report in to the XO before my watch. When should I show up tomorrow?"
"I have no idea," Steve admitted. "I wasn't going to nail Danny down to a time until more people were picked."
"Can I bring my team to your offices, or should I wait for him to come to us?"
"Let's try to meet up in the mess for lunch," since 5-O took breakfast and dinner in the wardroom. "We'll see how it goes from there. Danny won't go for a formal introduction."
"Guessed that. What about Kelly's rig? It looked handy and it wasn't too difficult to take off him, even with the injury. Are we going to make more?"
"Danno said that he and Grace used one and he'd explain the specs to us tonight. I'm planning on making one for me."
"Me too," Kono added.
"Let me know now what the specs are and I'll req the materials for fifty. Otherwise, I'll see you at lunch."
Steve nodded and Grumberger jogged off. Steve and Kono continued watching the two in the air, pointing out observations that they might be able to use to steer if they ever had strong enough wings. The sun was hot and the wind was strong, but nothing short of a hurricane would have chased the two off of the flight deck.
It was amazing, watching Danno and Gracie control the skies. They were flying -Iflying!/I Sometimes, it still felt like a dream because it had been considered impossible for centuries.
Grace and Danny circled closer to the deck. Grace landed first. She lost her balance as the wind grabbed at her wings and she fell on her butt. The adults rushed her, but she held out her hands. "I'm fine. I'm okay."
"You're tired," Danno dictated.
"You're not," Grace answered.
"It's kinda boring up there by myself. Especially when I can be spending time with you down here."
"It doesn't have to be long. Comeon, Danno. Five times around the ship. You know you want to."
"How can I argue with that logic?"
Steve tapped his watch. "We could time you, see how fast you are and keep a record of your times. Maybe you'll improve as well."
"After the day I've had, I'm going to be slow."
Steve grinned and challenged. "You're always slow."
Danny waved both hands at Steve, brushing him off. "You're an idiot."
"Five times, Danno." Steve was not going to surrender on this. He wanted to see Danny soar. "Starting…"
Danny dived off the edge of the ship, wings only extending when he was close to the water. He used gravity to increase his speed then opened his wings and pivoted around. He was halfway around the ship in seconds. This wasn't soaring, this was something much faster. Danny had such control and precision over his body. He knew exactly what he was doing.
One time around.
"Did you see me Uncle Steve? Kono?" Grace was asking.
"Yes!" Kono answered. "And you were wonderful up there."
"It looks like fun."
Two times around.
"Is Danno a good teacher?" Kono asked.
"He's the best," Grace said loyally.
"You're going to have to remind him, 'cause he doesn't think he's good enough to teach the rest of us."
Three times around. Man, Danno was fast when he wanted to be. If someday Steve could be half that fast, he'd be thrilled. Though if Steve was honest with himself, he knew that he would work his ass off to be just as fast as or faster than Danno. It might never happen, but not for lack of trying.
Steve tried to image a world where everyone could fly. It didn't compute. Unfortunately, he foresaw a world of discrimination. It was already happening, but at the moment, it was in their favor. It was always dangerous when one group was given preference over another. They would have to be careful, for the pendulum could always swing against them.
Five times. Danny flew right next to them, up a bit and then the wings disappeared. He dropped into a crouch then stood and brushed his shirt into place like it was nothing out of the ordinary.
The ass. Danno, completely ordinary? Like hell, but now Steve had a flying time to beat.
"Hey Gracie, do you know what happened to your harness?" Danno asked his daughter.
"I don't need it," Grace was quick to point out.
"We know, but Uncle Chin needs a harness and would like to copy yours."
Grace shrugged. "I gave it to Mom a long time ago. I don't know what she did with it."
"Then, we'll have to ask her."
"We better get off the topdeck. This is not a place to stand around and talk," Steve suggested.
Danny nodded. "Let's walk to my cabin and I'll ask Rachel what happened to Gracie's harness." The group hurried to the side port, pausing only long enough for Steve to return the headset.
"So tell us about the best way to land," Kono prompted once they were out of the wind.
"There're a couple different kinds of landings," Danny mused. "You can do Steve's thing of rolling as you drop or you can actually try to land. It needs practice. Lots and lots of practice."
"What's the best way?"
Danny suddenly focused on him. "You think we can get some mats and those big pillowy things for falls? And one of those rigs –the zip line- that the judge's daughter fell from? A lot of times, landings feel like getting off of one of those mid-ride."
"Danno set up a rig for me and we had a bunch of old mattresses underneath the end and that's how I practiced," Grace told them. "We practiced a lot-a lot back in Jersey, even before my wings were strong enough to fly with. It was fun."
"Well then," Steve answered. "I guess we're going to have to requisition the same. How high will we be practicing from?"
Danny spoke as he mused aloud. "We'll start low at a couple of feet, but sometimes the wings might give out a couple stories up. Learning how to read your body and know when you can't take any more is tough. I think the brain has difficulty translating the muscles of something that can disappear in the blink of an eye."
"Is that why you won't let me fly today?" Steve asked directly.
"Yes. You flew too much last time –it took us at least fifteen minutes to get to Wo Fat's ship- and yeah, you normally don't use those muscles so you don't realize it now but they will Iscream/I the next time you try. You have to give them time to heal."
"But I'll be able to fly?"
"Who knows? I don't."
"But there's a chance. I didn't mess up my chances… It was worth it, by the way. I ended my parents' killer and saved Grace. If I don't get to fly again, it was still worth it."
"I think you'll fly," Danny said. "It just might take a little while extra."
"I can't wait to fly with you and Kono," Grace declared.
"And we want to fly with you too," Steve answered for the rest of the team. "You're really good at it."
"Why is that?"
"He's practiced more."
"So are you going to practice all the time now, so that you'll be as good as Danno?"
Grace thought about and grinned up at her father. "Yes. I'm going to be as good as you someday."
"I can't wait. Let me dodge into our place and I'll be right back out," said Danny. "Come on, Gracie. Tell your mom about your flight time and your goal for the end of the year," Danny was saying as he ushered his daughter into their cabin. Steve and Kono could hear the girl's cheerful voice as the door closed behind them.
Steve and Kono had agreed to wait nearby. They would visit Chin in the meantime. He was sitting on his bed, with his leg propped up. He pointed to the crutches in the corner. "The docs suggest that I use those for a couple days, just as a precaution. What did you learn?"
"Danny's fast," Kono said.
"In small zones with obstacles, he's more maneuverable and faster than a helicopter. Especially on lift-off. Though if the race was longer than one hundred yards in a straight line, the 'copter would win."
"Good to know. And Grace?"
"Not as fast, not as maneuverable, but looking to improve."
Five minutes later, Danny stepped into Chin's room alone but with a trophy. "You're not going to believe this, but not only did Rachel keep Gracie's flight harness, she packed it. I guess she didn't want anyone else to get their hands on it after we disappeared."
Grace's harness was bright pink with heart and flower patches sewn over connections as extra padding against pressure points. The stitches were more consistent than anything Steve had seen Danny do. (He remembered the late night Santa tailoring and Danny's astonishment that Steve could sew well.) If Steve were to guess, Rachel had had a hand in creating the harness. "It's not quite what we need here 'cause she never needed help keeping her wings solid. You guys do. So my handles will need to be closer to your wings than Grace's were."
"You know that museum they're talking about building?" Kono asked. Steve blinked at the sudden change in topic.
"What museum?" Danny echoed dangerously. "And define 'they'."
"The governor is floating a suggestion of turning our old 5-O offices into a museum and charging tourists to go through it," Chin informed them. Of course, he knew what his cousin was talking about. "Because when we return to work on the island we are going to need a much more secure HQ. The museum will be about 5-O but mostly about the first humans to fly on record."
"That is so not right," Danny muttered.
Kono plowed ahead. "I think we should donate… or sell Grace's harness to that museum. She's outgrown it –in multiple ways. She'll never need it again and no one else will either. Why not show it off?"
Danny wasn't pleased with the idea. "I'll think about it."
The next morning, Danny and Steve sent Grace off with Kono and a limping Uncle Chin and sat Rachel down. She was instantly suspicious. "What is this about?"
"Doctors. For you and… Grace," Steve answered diplomatically.
Danny had dispensed with diplomacy for the time being. "And the baby."
Rachel wanted to deny the news in front on Steve, but Danny was just too happy with the idea and the feeling was infectious.
"Rachel, we are putting the choice entirely in your hands," Danny told her. "If at any time, any of the docs make you feel like you're an experiment and not a human, they're fish food. You will only be left alone with them when you want to. Whatever you want, babe, it's yours. But we need to make arrangements soon."
Rachel nodded. "I liked Grace's doctor here in the islands. He's good with her… when you're not around."
"No can do, babe," Danny said as non-confrontational as possible. "The man has money problems."
"He does?" Steve and Rachel chorused.
"How do you know?" Rachel added.
"You remember how he was acting at Grace's last appointment? How even you said that was odd?" Danny asked. "He was too nervous. Some people have a guilty conscious and honestly, I don't care about most of them. I do however care when they have authority and power over my daughter. So I asked Chin to look at his financials. Dr. Finn has been able to keep his debts from piling up but just. We pull him in for Gracie and someone will make his debts worse within days." Or hours, depending on the source of his money problems.
"So do you want to pull someone from New Jersey or pick from a list of the most renowned doctors of the world?" asked Steve.
Rachel thought about it. "How is Aunt Annie's latest round of treatments going?"
Danny shook his head. "Not terrific, but if you ask her, Aunt Annie will come here regardless."
"I can handle someone else for the pregnancy, but I'd really like her here for the birth."
"Okay," Steve was glad that a decision had been made. "I'll pass that along. You know, this doesn't have to be an all or nothing scenario. You can have Aunt Annie vet any prospective doctors. She will have to work with them in the end, after all."
"I'd like that," Rachel said gratefully.
"I'll have a list of doctors that pass a stringent security check and their credentials available to you by the end of the day. You'll have your pick of them."
Danny wrapped an arm around Rachel. "Maybe you'll be more sympathetic about my paperwork now."
"Unlikely," Rachel retorted.
"We have a couple more issues to discuss."
Danny squeezed Rachel's shoulder, indicating that whatever coming was a surprise to him too.
"The President of the United States would like to meet you, all of us who are claiming sanctuary. Basically a photo op. Also, the Prime Minister and the Queen of England are claiming priority since Rachel is a citizen of the United Kingdom. Most of the United Nations would like to visit, but we can put everybody else off. It'll be on your schedule, but since we'll exclude Grace from all of the pictures and we don't want to leak the baby's existence, you'll either have to do this before you start showing or after his or her birth."
"You'll think we'll be able to keep the secret that long?" Danny asked.
"From the ship? Not a chance, but they've already off-loaded anyone that might not be able to keep their mouths shut. From the rest of the world? I'm betting that the leak will happen sometime after the military starts approaching pediatricians and OB/GYNs. Right now, only the three of us know."
"Lovely," sighed Rachel.
"Four," Danny said.
Rachel looked at him severely.
He raised his hands in surrender. "I promised you full disclosure. I told Cath at the same time I told Steve 'cause I figured you needed a female sounding board and she has been ordered to keep our secrets. But I haven't told Chin and Kono yet."
"Lovely," she said again. She addressed Steve. "I haven't asked to contact my mother yet, but I will need to do so. In part, to tell her about the little one. You said that there were several issues?"
"Education for Grace. What do you want her learn? We'll make sure she gets tutors for her regular subjects but you can add anything you want on the military's tab. Languages, science, whatever sports interest you."
"Even tennis?" Rachel said with a smirk.
Danny reacted predictably with a rant about tennis not being a sport. Rachel looked as entertained as Steve was.
Steve waited until Danny wound down and then ignored the entire segue. "Make a list and we'll start shipping in teachers." He paused and looked in between Danny and his 'ex'-wife. "Also, Cath now has a single room with extra bunks. It doesn't have as much room as officer quarters, but she's rarely in there…"
"'Specially since she's sleeping in your quarters," Danny teased.
"But, Rachel, she's offering you a key so that you have a sanctuary for whenever you need alone time. No one will bother you there."
"I appreciate that and I accept."
"Cath gets off her shift at 1800hrs. She could swing by then and show you the room."
"That would be lovely."
"I'll let her know," Steve promised. "Make a decision on Gracie's teacher or teachers, subjects and doctors and we'll get them flown aboard immediately. You can change you mind at any time."
"What are we going to do about socialization?" Danny asked sadly. "'Cause any parent volunteering their kids for this school should be drawn and quartered."
Steve shrugged. "We don't know yet, but we're trying to figure something out. Does Grace have any cousins that might be a target already?"
"None on my side," Rachel admitted.
"My sister Katie has two boys. Last I heard neither of them had solid wings, but they were colored. One's older than Grace and one's younger. We'll see how it goes."
"Okay and now for an easier question. Or at least, one of less importance. Danny showed us Gracie's old flight harness and Kono suggested selling it, or donating it to a museum that they're making in our old 5-O offices. Rachel, you were the one who kept it. What do you think of the idea?"
"The baby," was her first protest.
"Will get one fitted to him or her. I'll help you make it myself out of military grade materials. It really isn't all that adjustable to a different form. I'm sure it worked great for Grace, but it's unlikely to suit the baby, especially if it is a different gender."
"It shows so much of her personality," Rachel mused. "I like the idea of people seeing proof that Grace is more than a name and a pair of wings. I'd like to donate it."
"And Grace won't want it?" Steve asked her parents.
Danno laughed. "She wanted to do a ceremonial burning of it as soon as I said that she didn't have to use it anymore. Grace doesn't care for it. You heard her."
Rachel had a better understanding of her daughter's reasoning. "She was so afraid that you'd change your mind and make her wear it for another flying session, or worse yet, a month of them. She wanted it out of your reach so you couldn't go back on your promise."
Steve smiled at the way Grace worked her father. "Then I'll see about getting it sent to the museum. We'll call it a loan, just in case Grace wants it back someday."
There was a pause in the conversation.
"Anything else?" Rachel asked.
"Not that I can think of. Are you having any problems at all?"
"No, not really. Everyone has been very helpful. I haven't ventured much further then the cabin and the wardroom. The cabin is very small."
"But it's the biggest one onboard," Danny finished the thought.
After showing off in the sky the day before, Danny was in a pretty good mood. So Steve took advantage, corralled him in the office and tried to get as many students picked as possible. Charlotte Berigan of the Army had brown wings and a husband, Jeffrey, also Army, that adored her. Danny gave both Berigans the nod. Melody Petrarca, Air Force, and Samantha Laitman, Army, also had brown wings. So in keeping with Danny's current theory of colored wings being part of the way to flying, the women were invited to the ship. Derrell Cassidy, Army Ranger and Doyle Marchiny, Coast Guard, were the two men in the personnel files with brown wings. The rest, Anne Bracy, Army, Mike Hoensheild, Recon Marine, Kurt Schwerin, SEAL, Idana Espinosa, Navy, Samuel Quinn, Army Ranger, Kaoru Okada, Navy, and Vince Delfin, Recon Marine all had essays that caught Danny's eye for one reason or another.
Steve considered thirteen possible students a win and let Danny escape when Grace came to ask for some time with her father.
Steve, Kono and Chin wandered into the mess at eleven-thirty. Grumberger and his SEAL team were already there in uniforms so clean, they were pressed. Chin and Steve were amused at the creases, though from the way that Danny liked to dress in his collared shirts, it might start them on the correct foot.
Steve was quick to realize that they didn't have nearly the family-team dynamics of 5-O. They more individuals that could work together and each one could fill in where the others had weaknesses. They weren't 'ohana , which was good since the military would probably separate them as soon as they could fly. He could see the Navy trying to put one flier on every special ops team, trying to diversify the talents.
Jorge Flores and Philipe Guzman were Hispanic and bi-lingual. Flores listened much and spoke little. He gave no personal information. If his inclusion had been dependent on an essay, Steve was sure that Danny would pass on him. Guzman was easily the smallest SEAL Steve had ever met and had this amusing head-bob thing happening every time someone mentioned 'Danny' and 'wings.' Gil Heselden was Grumberger's second in command from Maine with extremely fair-skin, blue eyes and white-blond hair. He was easy going and more awake than the others. Steve bet that he was excellent at negotiating between the chain of command and the team. Davy Devet was friendly enough. Michael Karg held himself apart from the others. Even in a group of individuals, Karg did not try to fit in with the others.
They didn't have to wait long before Danny and Grace walked into the mess. If the conversation had been stilted before, it was down-right uncomfortable now. Karg was bypassing Danny and trying to exclusively communicate with Grace. Steve wasn't sure if he was indirectly trying to butter up Danny or if he had guessed that all of the crazy exceptions to wings were genetic.
Danny sent Grace off with Chin before too long. Something was making him uncomfortably quiet and Chin understood a father's instincts enough that when Danny said it was time for Grace's math/computer lesson, he didn't even look surprised. He just took the little girl by the hand and led her out.
"Let's get this over with," Danny said. "Let's go someplace with a little space and check out your wings."
"Weight room?" Steve suggested.
"Sure, why not?"
Grumberger's SEALs followed Danny like puppies, tumbling over each other. The walk to the weight room was short and the SEALs stripped off their shirts and lined up. Jorge Flores was first in line. "Long-whiskered Owlet," Danny declared when he grabbed the man's wings. "Small, not much is known about them." Steve thought it was fitting.
Gil Heselden was next. "Northern Hawk-Owl, hunts mostly by day, exceptional hearing, will plunge through snow to capture rodents." Well, that explained why the man was more awake than the rest of his team.
Davy Devet was either the Long-eared Owl or the Tawny Owl since their wings shapes are so similar.
"What's the difference?" he asked.
Danny tilted his head, thinking. "If I remember correctly the Long-eared is found mostly in dense woods and prefers dawn and dusk. The Tawny has excellent vision and is nocturnal."
"Neither one sound horrible."
"We will know for sure if… when you fly. Both have a rather distinctive and… awkward flying pattern."
Devet swore. That did not bode well for him. If his wings belonged to a bird that had trouble flying he was going to have to work even harder to get up in the air.
"I'm betting on the Tawny," Grumberger chimed in.
"Devet always sees the important things first on a mission. And he likes the night hours like most of us."
Philipe Guzman had the wings of a Burrowing Owl.
"That's not a surprise," Devet commented. "He's damn good at camouflage on the ground. Even I have a hard time seeing him if he's still and he's good at being still."
"Any other characteristics?" Grumberger asked.
Danny shrugged. "I'm sure you'll find out more. I just remember that it hunts day or night, is small and bobs its head when agitated. "
The group laughed because Guzman was, at that very moment, doing his head-bob movement.
Michael Karg was last. Danny took a deep breath, grabbed his wings and released them before they could fully solidify. "Absolutely not. No, Nene. I don't like him."
"Hey," Karg protested. He took a step closer to Danny. Steve stood in his way and Grumberger put a warning hand on Karg's shoulder. "You don't know me. You can't make the kind of judgment call."
"'Cept that I can. I want him gone." Danny didn't bother addressing Karg but was making his demands straight to Steve. "I want him off the ship."
"Okay, we'll do it. Will you tell me what is going on?"
"Steven, I'm not joking around here. I don't want that man on the same ship as my daughter." Danny yelled that last sentence to Karg, now being held back by Grumberger.
"There's no truth to those allegations," Karg yelled back.
Steve turned so fast, Danny lost his balance getting out of the way. "There are allegations?" he asked silkily. How could Danny possibly know something by touching his wings? Was Karg really a pedophile? What Steve considered to be truly odd was that the rest of Grumberger's team wasn't standing beside the man. They were standing in the middle, preventing Karg from getting any closer, but none of them were protesting the slur and they were blocking his escape route. If someone had called Chin or Kono a pedophile, Steve would have knocked their block off. No one in Grumberger's team had a vested interest in Karg. Part of Steve was glad that this wasn't devolving into a brawl and the other part of him felt sorry for the guys that didn't have that kind of friendship to depend on.
"We'll get him out of here," Grumberger said. "He'll be put off Enterprise immediately."
"Detain him at the port base. I want to look into his background."
"Aye, sir." Grumberger and his team ushered Karg out of the weight room. Steve knew that they wouldn't see Karg ever again.
"I wonder what kind of wings he had," Kono whispered, but not soft enough.
"Eurasian sparrowhawk," Danny spoke with clipped consonants. "They eat other birds exclusively. A lot of birds prey on other birds if the regular food sources dry up but the sparrowhawk… Males and females both hunt other birds but have different species preferences." He was literally shaking with fury. There was some history there.
"Go hug Grace," Steve suggested. "He's being taken to the brig on the island and Chin, Kono and I will comb through his life and find an allegation that will stick."
"I should help."
"No. I'm a detective. I know what to look for. I'm helping. This is how I protect my daughter." There was no arguing with Danny's stubbornness. This was at the very core of the detective's character. Even though the circumstances had changed, Danny really hadn't.
"Then let's find his victims."
"Okay," Steve started as they circled around their old 5-O table. "I'm going to find the old allegations. See if I can't find a pattern."
Danny stood at Kono's side. "You and I are going to come at this from a different angle. We're cross-referencing missing girls close to Grace's age around any place that Karg was stationed. I don't think he left evidence behind and by that, I mean bodies."
It took four hours of concentrated searching, two of which after Chin finished Grace's math lesson. They found three little girls' suspicious disappearances. The most notable one had happened in South Korea. Steve suspected that Karg had been sloppy there because he had been expecting the Navy to back him up. He had supposed to have been on watch and there was no true evidence that he had left his post, but DNA had been left at the scene. Chin compared that DNA to Karg on file in the military database. It was enough of a match to deep-six Karg's alibi and forward the information to JAG. With the weight of 5-O's reputation behind the e-mail, it was sure to be given top priority. Since Karg was smart enough to know that an American prison was decidedly better than a Korean one, chances were good that he'd cop to the murders of Lucy Ogawa, of Arlington, and Kuni Ti, of Jacksonville.
"Hey you know what?" Danny asked the team at large.
"Context?" Steve asked back.
"Grumberger's team. It's not a SEAL team anymore."
"Yes, it was… is."
"Nope. It's a parliament of owls now."
Kono threw a crumpled up piece of paper at him. Steve socked Danny in the shoulder.
Steve hoped that one day they would be considered normal and not freaks. Danny would always be a freak though. He could do too much. What Steve did do was requisition every accurate bird book written in English. Steve knew his science and chemistry but Danny knew his ornithology.
And yes, a group of owls –as very rare as that was- was called a 'parliament.'
The books arrived so fast –within hours- that Steve was suspicious that Robins had had the same thought and had already ordered the books. Danny begged off studying but did point out what books he preferred in his personal library. It was then that Steve realized that at least half of the books had 'Daniel Williams' written on the inside cover. These were from Danny's apartment. Robins probably had been reading them since they had been transferred to the Enterprise. If Danny was a teacher, then he was the kind that pointed the student in the correct direction and let them figure out the answer for themselves.
"Do you think our wings are a reflection of us?" Kono asked when she looked up from the book of hawks. "What we didn't know about ourselves? What we should learn about ourselves?"
"It's possible," Chin allowed. "Why ask?"
"I was just thinking about Danny and his wings. 'Bout one of the first things you read about Red-tailed Hawks is that they are monogamous."
Chin and Steve considered it, but were silent.
"We don't know what kind of bird Rachel is, but you can bet it's not a Red-tailed Hawk and a lot of avian species are not monogamous." The men shifted uncomfortably, this was a lot of supposition into a friend's life. "So does Danny keep trying for Rachel because the bird part of his brain tells him too? And Rachel's is not?"
Steve saw an easy way to derail the conversation. "Danny has a bird brain?"
"Very complimentary, cuz," Chin chimed in.
Kono flushed. "That's not what I meant."
"Sure sounded like it," Steve said as he returned to his book on ospreys.
"Mr. McGarrett, Detective Williams," Robins said outside the 5-O offices the next morning. "Permission to enter?"
"Granted," Steve answered. "Pull up a chair."
"You want some coffee," Danny offered from where he was pouring his own.
"Please. Crawford reported that your coffee is much better than ours, even to someone who has fried their taste buds."
Steve laughed, glad that the daily dose of coffee delivered to their 'doorman' was appreciated.
"Black," Danny confirmed before passing Robins a mug. He sat next to Steve and said, "Is something wrong, that we merit a personal visit?"
"Not wrong, per se, just some things I'd like to address in person."
"Karg," Danny guessed.
"Yes. As predicted, he admitted to killing all three girls. He told us where to find their bodies. The girls on US soil were retrieved and Karg was immediately discharged dishonorably and imprisoned. JAG is advocating the death penalty. Do you wish to be kept abreast of any developments?"
"Please," Steve answered for the both of them.
Robins nodded. "On to more uplifting news. The equipment you requisitioned as arrived."
Danny groaned and Robins smirked and continued talking. "We emptied out one of the maintenance bays for your use. There should be enough room for everything."
Steve looked from Robins to Danny. "I only ordered a zip line, all associated rigging and an air pillow."
"You might've, but I added a nylon glider and several industrial fans." Danny glared at Robins. "Uplifting, really?"
Robins shrugged. "No one's called me on it before."
"That's because you say the pun before you've told the joke. That's like doubly worse than saying a pun to begin with."
Robins didn't mind being called on it. "What time should I have Grumberger's team report to the bay?"
"It'll take over an hour to get everything set up," Danny mused.
"They're SEALs, use them to get it set up," Robins suggested.
"Sure," Steve accepted the offer. "We'll be there in an hour."
"Very good." Robins drank the last of his steaming coffee and motioned with the cup to Danny. "And very good. Thank you."
5-O tidied up their offices, gave Crawford another mug of coffee and then walked the passageways to the newly claimed bay. Danny tore into the glider because 'he had to fix it.' Kono got the job of setting up the fans to create a crosswind and hunting down extension cords so that the wind could be adjusted.
Steve and Chin set up the zip line and the air pillow across the diagonal of the bay. They wanted as much practice space as possible. Grumberger and his team fetched and carried and generally were helpful with the set-up.
"Not so tight," Danny instructed from across the room.
"That's how you put up a zip line," Steve yelled back.
"What bird have you ever seen come in for a landing as full speed and on a direct course?" he argued.
Well, it was hard to win against that logic. Chin smirked as Steve and Grumberger loosened the zip line to Danny's specifications.
"All right, who's first?" Danny asked.
"You have to ask?" Steve answered. Of course, he was first.
"I thought that you might have learned to let others go first. After all, you have been spending a lot of time with Grace and Rach. Some manners might have been imparted."
"Nope." Steve answered cheerfully. "I'm first in line." He climbed up the crates to the start of the zip line. He ducked under the wing and hooked himself to the glider.
Danny yelled, "No, not like that."
"I know how to use a glider, Danno."
"But that's not a glider, now. It's fake wings." Fair point. "Hook yourself higher into the glider so that the wings are lower on your back."
Steve did so and noticed that it completely changed the balance of the contraption. Soaring down the zip line was rather fun, but he felt awkward and put down his legs as soon as he was over the air pillow. The glider tilted with his legs lowered and over balanced him. Steve swung wildly on the zip line and was thankful for the safety harness Danny had insisted he wear.
"You just have to practice landing. You've been walking around for decades, trusting your feet. Now your instinct is to put your feet down immediately, but you really want to wait as long as possible."
"It's close to a parachute landing."
"If you say so. That's not one of those things that I haven done nor have a desire to do."
"Or should have to do, considering your wings," Kono added.
"True. Once you get used to landing with wings, I'll come back and show you how to land in crosswinds. That's a challenge and sometimes, I still land on my butt." Danny looked at the line to use the zip line and shrugged. "This will keep you busy for a while. I'm going to go find my family. Enjoy."
"Oh, we will."
Steve set up the rules and the schedule for using the zip line. The number one rule was that everyone had to have a spotter. No exceptions. Once they started messing around with the glider and the fans, they were going to have some accidents and the students would need to be rushed to the sickbay immediately. Steve scheduled himself for early every morning. He would either drag Danny down here for personal training or grab one of Grumberger's team as a spotter. Kono and Chin signed up for the hour after him.
Chin was next on the zip line. He was as clumsy as the rest of them. While they were waiting for their turn, the parliament (Grumberger's team and damnit, Danny's got him thinking it too) and 5-O sat around after making their flying harnesses.
Steve tapped on the captain's cabin the next morning with news. "Robins just told me that our stuff has arrived. It's in a larger conference room. One that they use to brief large groups. Do you and Rachel want to go through it now?"
"Yes, please," Rachel answered for the both of them.
"What took so long? My coffee machine has been around since Day One and all my clothes since Day Two."
"Your belongings had priority and were easier to up and move, since you didn't have much in your tiny apartment. They had to check for bugs and trackers. They found several."
"We knew about the ones in Steve's house," Chin reminded them. "Turned out that our stuff was lousy with them."
"Did they exterminate the bugs, Uncle Chin?" Grace asked.
"Yes, they did," he answered seriously. "Even followed most of them home and took out the nests as well."
Good to know. Steve was going to have to ask for those reports. He wanted to know who was after them. He had to know the identities of their enemies.
Danny climbed into the midst of the pile and started dividing up the boxes of what belongs to whom. "Kono, Kono, Kono and Kono. Steve, Steve and Kono and Steve. They have these nicely labeled. Hey babe," he called to Rachel. "I found your things. You're going to have to go through them out here, decide what you want in the cabin and what goes into storage." Chin found his pile and they worked in companionable silence finding their belongings.
It wasn't long until Rachel held up a fitted black dress that wasn't too formal. "I think I'll wear this to meet the president."
Danny paused in his unpacking. His wide eyes met Steve's amused ones. "So we're doing it, babe?"
"Yes, Daniel. It would be rude otherwise."
"I'm cool with rude," he reminded her. He was trying to give her an out.
"Daniel. There is no reason to make everyone wait months. People will get suspicious. We'll do the photo and, hopefully, everything will die down by the time the baby arrives."
"All right," Steve said. "I'll arrange it. Next week?"
"Thank you, Steve. Next week would be lovely."
Danny scratched at his scruff. "I guess I'll have to clean up."
"Yes Daniel, you will. You too, Steve."
"What will we do? Wings in? Wings out?" Danny asked as casually as if they were all going to have their shirts tucked in or not.
"Everyone's going to expect a picture of the wings out," Kono said what they were all thinking.
"I know you have a classy backless shirt, Kono, but what are you guys going to do for that?"
Chin and Steve looked at each other. True, they normally went shirtless during the 'lessons,' but they couldn't be shirtless in a photo with the President. Especially not one that would be on the front page of countless papers over the world.
Rachel took charge. "Both of you, pick a favorite dress shirt and have it delivered to my cabin. I have all the supplies to tailor it to your needs. Danny's mother taught me how."
Steve happened to have a decent shirt in his hands. "Thank you," he told her sincerely. "You should do 5-O's PR officially. Between setting up the photo op and the museum donation, you've got a natural feel for it."
Rachel looked rather suspicious.
"Just think about it?" Steve asked.
"You'd be great at it, babe," Danny chimed in.
"I'll think about it," she promised.
Robins informed 5-O in the wardroom at breakfast that the first students were arriving in a couple hours, along with Grace's new teacher. Steve had enough time to practice on the glider wings, do a little weight lifting and get cleaned up. He stood next to Danny, Chin and Kono and got his first view of the Wing School students.
To Steve, it looked like some of them barely had washed off the combat dust. They were sharp-eyed and excited. They had packed for a non-standard deployment.
Robins conducted the introductions and assigned the rooms and bodyguards. He even asked if any of them were willing or had taught kids and the subjects that they could teach. They had several volunteers. Danny looked like he didn't even want to shake hands, let alone look at wings. He didn't ask to see any and, wisely, no one offered. Steve was insanely curious as to the new students' briefing for this year long tour.
Rachel appeared long enough to meet the teacher she had chosen for Grace for basics. She seemed pleased enough with Ms. Reinfield's qualifications.
Danny didn't look inclined to chat so Robins ushered the lot of them to baseline physicals.
Steve and Grumberger took the new students around to the mess and the landing flight zone and the weight room. They explained that unless approached, to stay away from the Williams family. Steve hoped that most of them understood that ten days ago, 5-O had been living a completely different life. They were still adjusting and Danny had the biggest adjustment to make.
The photo opportunity wasn't as horrible as Danny had verbally feared. Steve had been tasked by Rachel to keep Danny distracted and clean. It turned out that they helped Grace dress for the meetings while Rachel was planning the photo backdrop and met with the photographers. Chin was at her side to reinforce the fact that the photographer was not to take a single picture of Grace.
She was forbidden.
Thankfully the President and the Prime Minister had important things to do elsewhere. They kept their visit short. They basically stopped on the Enterprise, shook hands and thanked 5-O for their loyalty and their attempts to share their talents, took the pictures and flew away. Every Wing School student had a chance to get their picture taken with the President, while their wings were still shadows. He assured each one that he would return for their 'graduation' and take a picture with them with their solid wings. Then entire group were photographed together. Steve was amused as the photographer tried to balance the height and breadth of 5-O's wings to the students crushed together on either side.
Rachel had tea with the Queen and glowed for days after as she basked in the remembrance of the genteel conversation.
Danny had agreed to Steve's suggestion of doing some weight training with his new 'students.' With the exception of Grumberger and 5-O, Danny hadn't asked to see anyone's wings. It was as if after the incident with Karg, Danny had been reminded of some of the downsides of his… powers. He disliked the idea of a school even more than before. Steve had to break through the reticence before someone in the military made a fuss about Danny not holding up his side of the bargain.
The new students were scattered throughout the weight room, doing normal reps. Danny looked around with a frown. "Most of those won't help them get into the air," he muttered.
"Then tell them what will," Steve said, thoroughly exasperated. "You have no problem telling me what to do. You're bossy. Use your bossiness."
Danny glared but charged into the middle of the room, more like the Danno Steve knew. He started instructing those with the free weights to strengthen their shoulder muscles rather than the biceps. Those waiting for equipment were shown how to do the leg lifts, twists and crunches that the 5-O team had been doing for months. The students were eager to follow Danny's suggestions. Danny taught them all something within minutes. He had them in various groups and would tell them to switch before they could hurt themselves. Steve led one of the free weight routines, Chin led the other and Kono directed the leg lifts.
While Danny was overseeing the various groups, he was eyeing the resistance machine. Finally Steve took a break while the students were rotating to a different station and stood at Danny's side.
"You're thinking too hard."
"What are you thinking?" Steve asked directly.
"Would anyone mind if I permanently changed that resistance machine?"
"Absolutely not. Need help?" Danny glared at him and Steve was pretty sure that whatever needed changed was going to be out of Danny's reach. "Or do you need a stepstool?"
Danny was muttering under his breath as he dragged a weight bench over to the resistance machine to stand on. He moved the pulleys for the resistance cords so they were more overhead and he changed the weights that the lifter would be pulling against.
Danny jumped down and put the weight bench back to its original position. Then he stood in the machine to test it. He opened his wings, pulled down on the resistance cables and then pushed the cables out with his wings. The entire room stopped and stared at Danny's powerful wings. His wings were technically lifting the resistance weights. Danny did twelve reps, barely breaking a sweat, and then sighed and released the resistance handles.
"Not bad," Steve goaded.
Danny smirked at him, knowing that he had impressed them all. "I'd offer to help you do it, but it's still going to hurt like hell to even try."
"Don't care," Steve told him. He backed into the resistance machine, opened his wings and waited for Danny to make them solid.
"You're going to pay for this," Danny warned one last time before turning Steve's wings into the real thing.
Steve pulled down on the resistance cables and then tried to apply his wings to the cables like Danno had done. His back twisted up to one huge throbbing pain and white flashed in front of his eyes. When he could breathe again, he realized that he had collapsed to the floor.
"I told you so," Danny teased.
Steve might have been curled up on the gym floor in excruciating pain, but he still managed to swipe a hand in Danny's direction.
Danny jumped back laughing. "So are your muscles screaming, super-SEAL?"
Yes, ohI hell/I yes. He had never hurt this bad in all of his life, including all of his military training and occasional captures/tortures. No wonder Danny had refused to take him up after Chin.
Steve gathered up his pride, breathed deep and stumbled to his feet. Danny took pity on him. "Gracie likes to do this, if you want to go get her."
Steve nodded and walked out the door, trying to regain his dignity and trying to breathe through the pain. The last thing he heard as he walked out the door was Danny warning Chin that if he tried it, he end up in the exact same position. Chin was smart enough to wait.
The pain faded away (mostly) by the time he walked to Grace's classroom. Finding Grace was easy enough and she loved the idea of escaping from Ms. Reinfield's spelling test. She was even more excited when Steve explained what Danny had set up. By the time Steve and Grace returned to the weight room, Danno was giving everyone a chance to try the resistance machine and flex their solid wings for the first time. Danny could look at most of them and have a pretty good guess at to the type.
For Joseph Bell, Danny said, "I'm thinking a Red-breasted Merganser. It's a diving duck and possibly one of the fastest fliers of the birds." Bell cheered.
For Kaoru Okada, of the Navy, Danny guessed, "Spotted Owlet, it lives in small groups and thrives in cities. It's not strictly nocturnal." Okada looked thoughtful and sat next to Espinosa and several others that had already made friends.
Idana Espinosa, of the Navy was declared to be an American Black Swift. "It tends to like heights near water and flying, and always eats in a group."
She grinned. "I hate eating alone."
"There you go."
Carmen Forbes had wings similar to the African Marsh Harrier. Melody Petrarca wings were that of a Hen Harrier. Danny really didn't add any editorial comments for the women because he had seen his daughter.
"Gracie? You ready to show everyone how this machine in supposed to work?" he asked her.
She nodded so hard her ponytails bobbed.
The resistance handles weren't long enough for her to grab as she stood in the machine.
"I could get a stool for her," Steve suggested.
"No need," Danny said.
He lifted her up and she straight-armed the handles, hovering above them like an Olympic gymnast. She balanced for a moment and then opened her wings. Her wings pushed against the resistance cord just like her father's. The more she pushed, her body was raised in connection. Just as slowly, she returned her wings to her back in the rest position before trying again.
"You're doing awesome, Gracie," Danny cheered. "Now do three."
Grace lost her balance for a second, regained it and did her third repetition. She was showing them all up.
"Four," Chin and Kono chorused.
She flashed a quick grin at the cousins. And did her fifth rep.
The entire room chanted, "Five."
"Three more," Danny asked of her.
Grace nodded, took a deep breath and…
"Come on, come on," Danny said. "I know you're getting tired but you can do this."
Grace was sweating and shaking, but she set her jaw and did the last repetition. Danny caught her before she fell.
"You did wonderful, Monkey. Now do you want to go back to Ms. Reinfield?"
She nodded, safe in her father's arms.
Before leaving to escort his daughter back to her classroom, Danno agreed to be in the weight room every afternoon from one until four, directing the exercises. Steve considered that a win. Daily, everyone would have a chance to stretch their wings.
After four every day, the students would rotate through the sick bay for weekly physicals. Steve felt pity for the students but not too much. They whined almost as much as Danny did and weren't nearly as entertaining while doing so.
Dr. Standish, the OB/GYN chosen by Aunt Annie, finally arrived. She settled in a berth not far from 5-O and spent a lot of time chatting with Rachel before suggesting taking the conversation into the sick bay for tests. Danny kicked everyone out of the infirmary and it was just him, Rachel and Dr. Standish.
"How was the appointment?" Steve asked later.
Danny grinned with glee. "Rachel is healthy. IHe/I is healthy. And as frosting on my cake, he has wings."
"Rachel," Steve addressed the expecting mother. "How did Dr. Standish do? Are you keeping her?"
"Yes. Aunt Annie did an excellent job screening physicians."
Danny was thrilled about the health of the baby and could discuss little else. It was Rachel that told him that the ultrasound technician had been confused with what she had seen on the screen. The shape had worried her and Dr. Standish had started to explain about possible abnormalities. Rachel had had to poke Danny and order him to make the baby's wings disappear. He did as ordered. That was something new: Steve hadn't known that Danny could make wings disappear as easily as (easier than?) making them appear.
Since Danny was in such a good mood due to his wonderful news, he conceded to taking Chin and Steve up flying.
Twelve minutes each.
It was hard, glorious work. He was sore afterwards, but it was the good type of sore, and the new rigs worked well. Steve would adjust it so that it didn't leave bruises next time.
Steve had been in the middle of his extended morning workout, focusing on the leg lifts and crunches that would most help his body maintain straight and controlled aerodynamics. Cath watched, amused.
The knock on the door was a bit of a surprise. Danny shouldn't be awake yet and no one else would bother them unless it was important. Steve and Cath scrambled into something presentable.
Robins was waiting outside the door when Steve finally opened it. "I need to speak with you alone."
"I can go to my berth," Cath offered.
"No. You can't," Robins said. "It's occupied and that's the problem."
"I'll find breakfast in the mess." Cath slid out the door.
Robins entered and firmly closed the door behind him.
"We didn't think it would be a problem if Rachel sometimes bunked in Rollins' berth," Steve explained.
"It wasn't Mrs. Edwards that sought sanctuary there, but Mr. Williams."
Steve didn't need to be told anything else; he could surmise the events. Rachel and Danny had a fight, for any number of reasons, and Danny had to find a couch for the night. He knew that Cath had practically moved into to Steve's cabin, so it was an available room and he had access to the key. "It made a mess of security?" Steve guessed.
"Yes. The security is primarily in place for Williams and his daughter. The rest of you are secondary." That was nothing that Steve didn't already know. "With Detective Williams given free reign of the Enterprise, the security detail didn't realize that he had changed his location for the night until he didn't return after an hour. We scrambled for an extra security team."
"This cannot happen again. If Mrs. Edwards wishes to sleep in a separate room from her… ex-husband, than she must be the one to move. Not him. And he must remain in the same room as his daughter. It is merely extra protection for her."
Steve understood that all too well. "Do you wish for me to inform her, sir?"
"No. I'll be the heavy for Mrs. Edwards. You need to tell Detective Williams that he must consider the cabin to be his and that in the event of any separation, he has primary custody of his daughter."
"Has a judge ruled that?" Steve asked.
Robins eyed him. "Not yet, but it can be officially arranged. Does it need to be?"
"Not yet. I'll talk to Danny, you'll have a word with Rachel and we'll see how it goes. If I see any warning signs, I'll inform you immediately."
"One of the students tried to join Danny last night," Robins informed Steve. "To take advantage of the situation."
Robins just looked at him. Yeah, the class was small enough that it didn't take a detective to narrow down the field.
"Would Williams enjoy it if they had succeeded? He is currently unaware of the situation." What Robins was saying was that the guards could be ordered to let certain people pass and Rachel would never find out. If Danny wanted an affair, Robins would quietly arrange it. He wouldn't even have to look hard for women wanting to be in Danny's bed.
"No. Not now." Steve was sure of it. Danno and Rachel were still trying to make their relationship work. "A subtle marriage counselor would be more appreciated; someone who can double as her personal assistant."
"I'll see what I can do."
"More students?" Danny whined. "We've already got thirty."
"Twenty-six, but only if you count 5-O."
"I don't." Steve opened various files in front of them. "Just look them over. See if any one catches your eye."
Danny pointed to an electronic folder on the touch table. "What's this folder for?"
"NCIS." Steve poked it to open it up and reveal all the personnel files.
"Naval Criminal Investigative Service."
"Navy cops. Why do they get their own pile of folders?"
"I called in a favor with someone I know in LA NCIS to get Mary off the street fast. I had a friend listening to the news, official and otherwise. If 'wings' and 'Hawaii' were mentioned in the same sentence, anywhere and by anyone, then he would make Mary disappear into a safe house. When he did it as agreed, I offered to have him join our little wing class, but once he heard that it would make his wings very identifiable, he turned it down. He does a lot of undercover, so he can't have people getting suspicious."
"Ok. I get that. But why does NCIS get their own pile?"
"Sam Hanna traded his favor to get NCIS in on the lessons. And our contract says that we will be attached to the Agent Afloat during our stay, so that we are involved in any investigation to any crime that happens on the Enterprise. This way, the Agent Afloat is picked by us, will be part of Wing School and we will be included in all investigations. The agent will answer to me."
Danny nodded his head. "It's sad that I'm already looking forward to the first crime."
Steve didn't want to tell him that most of the crimes were going to revolve around the Wing School for a while. "You have to pick one from that folder, at least. Just one more."
The weight room was abandoned this early in the morning. Steve walked straight to the adjusted resistance machines. The Navy had bought three more machines and had jerry-rigged them to Danny's specifications. None but the 5-O tea m could use them without assistance still, but the Navy was hopeful. Steve opened his wings and tried to push against the resistance cables.
His wings collapsed into shadows again and again.
Then, finally, his wings moved the resistance cables two inches in either direction.
Steve stopped at the minute success. He had learned his lesson about working too hard, too fast.
He'd be back tomorrow to try again.
Rachel was not happy about her lack of control.
That was the official conclusion of the marriage counselor. She loved her child (and one on the way) fiercely and understood that their special genes put them in danger, but she was a control freak. Danny understood this even more than Steve did. He handed her a mission: plan for their house.
"Sky's the limit, babe," Danny told her. "I've seen what they're paying me."
Rachel demurred initially, but boredom (and perhaps a little nesting instinct) won out. She started by asking Chin what would be needed on the exterior for security. She made of list of things she would like to have and ways that she could make the security recommendations classy. If anyone could make it happen, it would be Rachel.
She and Danny would each have their separate wings of the house, with the nursery/children's rooms in the center. Steve noticed that Danny's wing had many guest bedrooms. Three were right beside Danny's room with more down the hall. Rachel planned for 5-O to be right there. They would be the last line of defense against intruders.
Once Rachel had a perimeter measured, Steve and Chin began working on a shell that could withstand an attack or a siege. They weren't interested in it looking pretty. They wanted their 'ohana safe. Rachel could add flowers after it was impenetrable.
"Kamekona sent me a text," Chin mentioned over dinner. Cath, Rachel and Grace had joined the evening community meal. "He wants to know why you never tried to help him learn how to fly."
Danny's face contorted as he tried to imagine it.
"Kamekona can't fly," Grace piped up.
Danny wasn't the only one paying attention to her, but he was the one who answered. "Oh. How do you know that?" he asked, just to be silly.
"He has chicken wings!" she giggled. "Chickens can't fly."
Kono, Steve and Cath laughed with the child.
Chin wanted to confirm with Danny. "Kamekona has chicken wings?"
Danny shrugged. "Don't look at me. I haven't checked."
"I peeked last time he babysat me. He fell asleep during Mulan."
Rachel wasn't pleased that Danny had picked a babysitter so irresponsible. Ironically enough, Danny was just as displeased. He glared at Chin and Steve. "You said that he was a good babysitter."
Steve chose to dodge around that landmine. "Let's ask the expert. Grace, is Kamekona a good babysitter."
She nodded, ponytails bouncing. "Yes. He knows all the Hawaiian words the kids say at school and all the places they talk about. Kamekona helps me make friends."
That could easily start an argument between Danny and Rachel, so Steve changed the subject fast. "How are your teachers?"
"Miss Carmen is great," she chirped. "I'm learning tons. Uncle Chin's computer time is fun even if we are doing math. Mr. Ross is easier to learn from than Miss Lisa. Ms. Reinfield is always giving me tests."
Steve was glad that they switched out Forbes for Holland. Lisa Forbes might be fluent in seven different languages but they were all easy to her and she couldn't teach to save her life. She had given it her best shot though, half afraid that she'd only been picked to teach Grace. Danny promised her that languages had just been a bonus; she had been chosen because of her essay, nothing else.
Holland Ross had picked up Arabic and Japanese while recovering from the IED five years ago. So all of the tricks he had used to teach himself were fresh in his mind. He also had nieces and was used to girls. Lisa didn't care for children. She had warmed up to Grace, but was too stiff for either of them to be comfortable or for her teaching to be effective.
Chin was still Grace's math teacher. What had started as a way to extradite the girl from a possibly explosive situation had turned into a five-day-a-week lesson. Chin had ordered the appropriate books and was working his way through them. He was pleased with Grace's progress, sure that she would be ahead of her age group within a month. Ms. Reinfield concurred. Danny and Rachel weren't concerned with reintegrating Grace into her peer group; she would never be allowed to return to a school room setting. There were high-security schools for ambassadors and the like. Perhaps, in time, Grace would be enrolled in the nearest one. They were famous for having extremely high academic standards. The more Grace learned now, the easier her acceptance would be later.
Steve was back in the weight room, alone. This time, it took less than an hour to make the resistance cables move and he moved them a full six inches. He stopped at that victory. It was time for him to take his turn landing the glider and today, Danny was going to show the students the dangers of the crosswinds.
Steve was looking forward to that. Plus, between the landing lessons and the group weight room workout, they were finally going swimming. It was going to be a fun day. He was going to go to bed sore.
There were enough SEALs among the students that it didn't take much lobbying to get the XO to put down a net and let everyone swim in the middle of the ocean, in the shadow of the Enterprise. The net was specially made, out of metal and was more than two miles long in diameter, with buoys to keep it up. The SEALs considered the net to be stupid but command wasn't about to lose any of their soldiers and sailors being trained to sharks. The net was a compromise between not swimming and swimming in the open ocean. Betting was already occurring on the soon-to-happen races. Steve planned on winning all of his heats.
Danno and Grace were sitting in the shade watching the soldiers, sailors and marines jump in. Even Kono and Chin were joining in. Kono's bikini was a huge hit.
"You sure you don't want to join us, sir?" Jamal Pella tried to cajole his teacher.
"Danno don't swim," Steve told his fellow SEAL with a grin.
Danny snorted. "Well, see how well you swim with forty pounds of wet feathers."
Pella paused and Steve did too. They both loved to swim; they wouldn't have become SEALs if they hadn't. "That's not something we'll have to worry about, it is?" Steve voiced their fear.
"No idea, probably not, seeing as you have to think your wings solid. It might never be instinctive." He threw up his hands. "I have no idea. No one has gotten as far as you. You know that. Why are you asking questions when you know the answers?"
"You know more than we do," Steve argued. "Like just now, you knew that getting our wings wet would make swimming difficult."
"No, not difficult, deadly, as in barely survivable and thank God that your father was available to rescue you from the ocean. I don't like anything where I can't touch the bottom." He pointed at Pella. "I'm not sure about you though. You might not have too much of a problem. I think your wings are that of a loon. Something to experiment with when it's not Ia mile to the bottom of the water."/I
"Understood, sir." Pella looked stunned and Steve was stunned with him (and a little jealous). He paused and asked," What kind of loon?"
"I think it might be a red-throated, by how you duck your head when your wings are out. Which would be lucky for you since it's one of the few birds that can take off from small bodies of water and it's relatively fast."
"Awesome," Pella breathed.
"Well, there's a down side," Danny continued. "All loons have a hard time landing. And if your wings become permanent, you'll molt and Red-Throated Loons molt every year, so for one-to-two months out of the year, you won't be able to fly."
Danny quickly covered Grace's ears. "Language!"
"Sorry sir, just wasn't expecting that."
Danny rolled his eyes. "Go. Get out of here. Swim. You'll feel better."
Steve was indecisive. Danny waved him away. "Go, swim. I've got money on you for your races."
Steve grinned and jumped into the water.
Grace was tucked into her father's side. Obviously, she was familiar with the dangers to herself. She would laugh at the antics below, but she showed no interest in joining them. Danny's story explained the firm chorus of 'no' by her parents when Kono had approached them for permission to teach Grace how to surf. Danny had taken a couple lessons, which Steve now realized that he was trying to see if surfing with real wings was doable or a hazard.
Maybe someday (when it wasn't a mile to the bottom of the ocean) Steve could help Danny and Grace gain the confidence to swim without worrying about their wings.
Steve jumped off the edge of the Enterprise. Danny was close enough to catch him before he collapsed into the ocean. He just wanted to try. The wings slowed him down, but they'd been doing that for weeks. He flapped them, using all the muscles that he had been strengthening. They didn't disintegrate into shadows.
They weren't increasing his height either.
Danny grabbed the straps intended for him and lofted them higher.
"Seriously, Steve, seriously?"
"You are supposed to wait until I push you out of the nest. But noooo, SuperSEAL has to jump out before you're ready."
"I flew," Steve argued.
"You had a mostly controlled fall."
"I flew," Steve contradicted. It had been clumsy and mostly controlled by gravity, but applicable for the broadest definition of the word 'flew.'
"It's going to happen."
"Not if you keep pushing it."
Steve and Danny bickered their entire flight. It was easier to relax against the pressure up here in the clear blue sky. Every flight was exhilarating, but this one was fun. Danny started having Steve use his legs as a rudder. His hard work with the crunches and leg lifts paid off. He, not Danny, was controlling their direction. He was driving and Danny was in the passenger's seat, just like old times.
That night, Steve used the resistance machine and managed one repetition, extending his wings fully against the resistance cords.
Melody Petrarca, a pretty blonde, cornered Danny in an almost abandoned passageway. Steve happened on Danny trying to extradite himself from her amorous overtures.
"Look, lady. Not interested."
"I can be your piece on the side," she answered him. "You don't have to leave your wife or Grace."
Danny broke away from her and hurried to put Steve between them. "Not interested." Now, Danny was looking for some protection; Steve tried not to be amused.
"Pack your bags," Steve told her. "You're leaving."
Petrarca was surprised and looked to Danny for confirmation. "Yeah," Danny agreed. "You're leaving now."
Steve used his phone and texted Grumberger, first, for the escort. The man could keep this quiet and would supervise her emptying her berth. Next, he texted Robins. The XO had a helicopter on stand-by for any student that crossed Danny. They were wary of his ability to see the true person.
"You're not surprised," Steve said as they watched the Air Force officer leave in the helicopter.
Danny didn't answer immediately. "Not really."
"Does it matter?"
"Is it because she has the wings of a Hen Harrier?"
"I don't judge based on wings and neither should you."
Danny had a point, but so did Steve. "The Hen Harrier is the only hawk-like bird to practice polygamy. She didn't have a problem with you keeping Rachel. She really wasn't trying to steal you away from your family."
"That might be how she works." Danny's tone was decidedly non-judgmental, "but that's not how I work and it most certainly is not how Rachel works either."
"Are you going to tell Rachel?"
"Nope and neither are you."
Steve wouldn't but he was sure that Robins would tell Rachel. He would point out that just because she wasn't sure if she wanted to keep Danny, that there were many out there who would snatch him up.
Steve looked at the folder detailing Matthew Williams' death. He wondered whether or not to weed out the most disturbing data. Matty had been laundering money for a drug dealer since running from the SEC indictment and the FBI. That drug dealer had apparently decided that Matthew would be of more use if he could fly. Matthew had spent time with Danny. A lot of time with Danny, but not enough: Matty had been tossed off of a ten story building in Tokyo and had died on impact.
The only 'good' thing Steve could gather about the file folder was that that particular drug dealer dealt with all of his sub-par subordinates that way. Matthew Williams had been the seventh 'jumper' connected to that particular drug lord this year. Danny would still feel that it was his fault, but Steve might be able to lessen the guilt.
Steve stopped his line of thought. One, Danny was an adult. Two, he had dealt with worse in his stint as a detective. Three, he had probably been expecting it. And four and most important, Japan was offering the drug king pin and enough evidence to convict him in the US courts. It was a completely unprecedented diplomatic offer. In exchange, they wanted five Japanese of Danny's choice included in Wing School. They'd probably be ecstatic with just one, since even the US was getting only twenty. Though 5-O fully believed in America, they didn't belong to the government the way that the others did. Initiating negotiations with Japan was a decision only Danny could make.
In the end, Steve left the case file where Danny was sure to find it in private.
The governor of Hawaii had sold a large portion of land to Danny for a song. It was right off a cliff, so they would be able to practice flying right out their backdoor. Steve might have preferred a beach, but he understood the safety concerns and it wasn't his house. Danny had visited the site and had declared an awesome updraft up the cliff. It would be an easier liftoff than from the Enterprise.
Rachel's blueprints for the house were mostly finished and construction would begin on the foundation come Monday. The construction team had been thoroughly vetted by the Navy and, more importantly, Chin. Rachel and Danny had been truly communicating for probably the first time since Grace's birth. They had improved their relationship so much that they were both looking forward to living in the same house, albeit different wings. Chin, Kono and Steve couldn't wait to return home to the Big Island. 5-O had much to anticipate.
Finally, finally, IFINALLY/I, it was time to fly solo according to Danny. Steve knew he was ready. He had been practicing and working out constantly. He was rather surprised that Chin was right there with him.
But where Steve was loud and determined to get what he wanted, Chin was quiet and determined. Chin had been working just as hard. They looked at each other, secure in their flying harnesses and grinned.
"Hey you two hooligans," Danny yelled from above. "Pay attention up here. Steve, you first."
Steve jumped off the deck of the Enterprise.
And he flew.