It was very interesting, Chin thought, how similar Steve and Danny's statements were. Both men had gone to talk to the two men who had wreaked such havoc in the Ilikai. Steve had taken a blow to the head and been knocked out. Danny had managed to get back up in place before he, too, took a blow. If he hadn't done that, the outcome would have been an awful lot less positive. It was fortunate that the bat-wielding man had been too drunk to realise that Steve would be armed, or he might have had a gun as well. He had done more than enough damage with the baseball bat.
When his statement had been taken, Danny had succumbed to pressure from May and had taken something for his pain and was now fighting off sleep. Steve was showing signs of intending to stay at the office, but Danny had no compunction in badgering the older man into getting some rest and when May threatened to call Bergman, Steve capitulated with bad grace. Bergman had not been happy that he insisted on leaving and in truth, his headache was a real problem.
As they were driven home, Steve watched his dozing detective thoughtfully. While Chin was taking Danny's statement, Kono briefed Steve on Danny's actions the night before. Steve wanted to talk to Duke and find out first-hand what Danny had done and said. It appeared that his young detective had had no problem in stepping up to the plate and issuing the necessary orders. It also appeared that nobody had questioned his right to issue those orders. Authority was more than just a badge; it was a state of mind, too. If the person didn't think they had the right to order others around, then they simply couldn't muster the correct tone or body language. It was another point to ponder and Steve had been doing some serious thinking since Danny joined Five-O.
"Take tomorrow off," Steve ordered as he dropped Danny off at his apartment.
"I'll be fine by tomorrow," Danny replied, yawning widely.
"Be that as it may, I want you to take tomorrow off," Steve insisted.
Wide blue eyes fastened on Steve's face. "Are you taking tomorrow off?" he asked.
This was something new for Steve. Chin and Kono seldom challenged him on things like this. They weren't afraid of him, but they did defer to him. So did Danny, but he also was not afraid of challenging Steve and it was disconcerting. "I'll see how I am in the morning," Steve hedged.
Those blue eyes did not waver. "So you are going in," Danny concluded. "Then so am I."
"Danno…" Steve began, irritated, but Danny did not let him finish.
"Steve, I'm not badly hurt, honestly. I'm sore today, but by tomorrow, I'll be feeling a lot better. I've had worse bruises than this from wipeouts and I know how it works. I'm fine to come in tomorrow. You should still be resting, though. A concussion is nothing to mess about with." Danny's concern was obvious.
With a flash of surprise, Steve realised that somewhere in the last few months, he and Danny had become friends. Steve had friends, of course, but he tended to keep a little distance between himself and his colleagues at work. How had Danny managed to slip under that line and become a friend – a friend who was concerned enough about his health to take him to task? It was a warm, pleasant feeling, even if he wasn't too sure about how it would affect the dynamic in the office.
"All right, I'll take tomorrow off and you do the same," Steve bargained. "Does that satisfy you?"
"As long as you rest," Danny agreed. "And no cheating! Rest means rest."
"That applies to you as well," Steve smiled. "Aloha, Danno."
"Sleep well, Steve," Danny replied, smiling. He slipped out of the car and headed to his apartment, pleased he had been able to make Steve see sense – this time.
The next day found both Steve and Danny in the office by late morning, both dressed casually and both professing to be just 'dropping in'. Steve had taken it easy that morning, forgoing his usual jog and lazing around and hated to admit that Danny might have had a point the previous day. He did feel better for resting and so he vowed that this visit to the office would be a short one. He just had to keep his finger on the pulse of what was going on.
Danny had come in for a different reason. He had already been past HPD and spoken briefly to Duke and now he wanted to ask Chin and Kono's opinions about carrying a second weapon. He had been thinking about it quite a lot since Duke brought it up the other night.
"I thought you were taking today off?" Danny said, the accusation clear in his tone.
"I thought you were?" Steve countered.
"Boredom?" Danny suggested, grinning.
"Just keeping my finger on the pulse," Steve replied and let a smile cross his face. It was hard to admit that he hated to relinquish control. "So what are you doing here?" Steve demanded. "Bored?"
"Asking questions," Danny replied honestly. "Personal research, if you like."
"Have you found any answers?" Steve was enjoying the sparring and he led Danny into his office.
"Yes, but I do want to run it by you before I finally decide." Danny sat on the edge of Steve's desk, not even aware that he was doing so. Steve noticed but found, to his surprise, that he didn't mind the informality at all. "I'm thinking of getting a second gun," Danny explained. "Something small that I can carry when I'm off duty."
"Good idea," Steve nodded. "What do you have in mind?"
Relieved that the idea that Duke had planted was receiving such a positive response, Danny replied, "A .22. I can carry it in an ankle holster."
"That's a good choice," Steve agreed. "I'm seldom unarmed myself."
"Duke suggested it the other night," Danny confessed. "I just wanted to know what everyone thought before I went ahead and did it."
"Can you afford it?" Steve asked, hoping the younger man would not take offence at the nosy question.
"Yes, I can," Danny smiled. "I've paid back the money you leant me, Steve; mahalo for that once more. And since Five-O bought my rifle, I have some savings now. A .22 won't cost anything like what a good rifle would, so I'll still have some money left."
"Go for it then," McGarrett encouraged. "I think it's a good idea. You never know when an edge like that could save your life."
"Thanks, Steve." Danny beamed at him.
"Are you going home now?" Steve asked.
"Are you?" Danny countered and beamed all the harder.
"In a little while," Steve sighed.
"I'll wait for you," Danny offered and Steve had to smile.
"All right, Danno," he laughed. "All right. I'll go home." He got to his feet. "Satisfied?"
"Oh yes," Danny nodded. They left the office together.
Life swiftly returned to what passed for normal over the next few days. Both Steve and Danny made good recoveries from their injuries and they were soon back in the thick of things. A gang of audacious jewel thieves descended on them from the mainland a month or so later, Five-O were soon involved in a cat-and-mouse game with them, foiling a couple of attempted raids, almost catching them another time and finally capturing them with a plan that Danny devised and led. Nobody was injured and all the stolen jewellery – several million dollars' worth – was recovered. Some of the jewellery had already been fenced and Steve was proud that Danny was able to arrest the fences before they were able to break the jewellery up or sell it on.
Gradually, Steve started to shift some of his responsibility onto Danny's shoulders. It was done so gradually and so naturally that it took a few months before Chin and Kono realised that Danny was shouldering all the duties of the second in command, even though he did not officially bear that title.
"Where's Danny?" Kono asked May one morning. It was unusual for the young detective not to be in early, although there had been the odd occasion when he had slept in.
"Steve sent him on a wild goose chase," May replied with a straight face. "He wants to see you and Chin sharp at 8am before Danny realises he's been had."
"Are we gonna give him a surprise party?" Kono demanded, looking pleased at the notion. Steve was not the kind of person who went in for throwing surprise parties, but it was Danny's birthday and he couldn't think of another reason… Well, maybe he could. "Oh," he breathed, as the light dawned.
"Exactly," May agreed in a satisfied tone.
Chin arrived only moments later and they went into the big office and took seats. Steve leaned against the desk. "Gentlemen, I have made a decision that affects all of us and I want your honest opinions." They both nodded. "Chin, you told me you didn't want to be second in command. You said so, too, Kono. Do those decisions still stand?"
"Yeah, boss," Chin nodded.
"Sure, Steve," Kono agreed.
"Thank you. In that case, I intend to offer the promotion to Danno. If you have a problem with this, I'd like you to say so now and I will think again. I know he is young, but he is more than capable and is someone we can all work with. Your thoughts?"
"That's great, boss," Chin beamed.
"What a present for da kaikaina," Kono cheered.
"Present?" Steve echoed, confused by the context of the word, but pleased that the other two detectives did not object to his plans. He hadn't thought there would be a problem, but he had plenty of persuasive arguments at his fingertips and if necessary, he would simply have decreed it from on high, but it was better to have their approbation.
"Today is Danny's birthday," Kono explained. Remembering birthdays, even his own, was not one of Steve's strong points. Danny had already proved that he was up on that detail by organising a beautiful bouquet of flowers for May on her birthday. All Steve had had to do was cough up his share of the cash.
"Ah," Steve nodded sagely. 27, he recalled. "All right, let's get down to business. Chin…"
The door opened and Danny came in. He looked slightly harried and annoyed. "Sorry, Steve, but the Attorney General's office insists they do not have the Gerard file."
"Well, it must be somewhere," Steve said mildly, walking around to rifle through the pile of papers on one side of his neat desk. "It's not…" He trailed off unconvincingly. "Oh, here it is," he concluded lamely.
Exasperated, Danny ran his hand through his hair. He realised from Steve's bad acting and Chin and Kono's amusement that something was going on and he was the patsy. He was on the brink of losing his temper, because he hated being made a fool of and this kind of hazing was something that kids did, in his opinion, not adults and not almost a year into the job.
"Danno, I'm sorry," Steve said, coming around the desk and putting a hand on the younger man's shoulder. "I wanted to talk to Kono and Chin without you here."
Stormy blue eyes met Steve's darker blue eyes and Steve realised how that sounded. He didn't blame the younger man for being annoyed, but he didn't give the explosive temper time to ignite. "I wanted to see how they felt about you becoming second in command." Steve smiled. "Fortunately, they agreed with me. All I need now is your acceptance. Do I have it?"
All the anger drained from Danny's face and he shook his head slightly, as though dazed. His mouth opened, but no sound came out.
"He accepts!" Kono crowed, leaping to his feet and buffeting Danny on the shoulder as he pumped his hand. "Happy birthday, bruddah!"
"I… I…" Danny stuttered.
"Congratulations, Danny," Chin smiled.
Still shocked, Danny looked at Steve, who raised an eyebrow in a question. "Yes," Danny declared firmly, suddenly believing that this was not one huge hoax; that this was real.
"Excellent," Steve nodded. "Happy birthday, Danno."
The office door opened and May came in with a tray bearing coffee and a cake. "Congratulations, Danny," she cried, throwing her arms around his neck and giving him a smacking kiss on the cheek. "Happy birthday!"
Completely overwhelmed, Danny could hardly speak and couldn't stop grinning. May efficiently handed out the cake and coffee and they stood around eating, drinking and talking for a while before Steve finally put a stop to the celebrations. "We can't spend all day eating cake," he declared. "We've got to get some work done. Danno, I'm heading over to speak to the Governor and tell him about your promotion. There will be a public announcement at some point today, I expect. In the meantime, don't you all have work to do?"
May rose and Chin and Kono helped her load up the tray with the remnants of the celebration. Danny helped, but lingered for a few moments as the others left. "Steve – I don't know what to say. Thank you doesn't seem like nearly enough."
"It's more than enough for me," Steve replied gruffly. "You keep doing what you've been doing. That's thanks enough for me." He patted the shorter man on the shoulder before leaving the room. Still feeling slightly dazed, Danny went into his own cubicle.
Leaning around to peer into Chin's space, Kono whispered jubilantly, "Dat's da right stuff, bruddah."
"Sure is," Chin agreed.
The whole office felt brighter and more lively; complete in a way it hadn't for a long time. Steve, while no less intense, seemed more relaxed within himself. Danny had fitted right in and filled a hole that none of them had realised was there. They were somehow more of a team than they had ever been before.
Basking in the day, Danny could not stop smiling. He had dreamed of joining Five-O, but had never believed it would happen. This was a perfect day. Nothing could spoil it.
"Danny," May said, interrupting his musing. "HPD have called for Five-O. There's been a murder…"
Thank you so much to my readers for sticking with this long and sometimes convoluted tale. I really appreciate it and hope that you have enjoyed reading this story as much as I have enjoyed writing it.