Word Count: 36,974
Characters/Pairings: Steve, Danny, Kono, Chin, Rachel, Grace, OCs; Steve/Danny
Summary: A string of mysterious deaths lead Steve and Danny to the remote forests of the Big Island; the case becomes a fight for survival when they encounter dangers they never expected.
Warnings: Mild action violence, mild supernatural horror, gay man love, what the movies like to call 'adult situations', adult language, character whumpage, the author being boundlessly self-indulgent, UST, and shameless tropes are shameless.
Disclaimer: Steve, Danny, Kono, Chin, Rachel, Grace, Mamo, and Hawaii Five-0 are © CBS Broadcasting Inc. Steve and Danny's depthless love belongs to EVERYONE. All content is fictional and for entertainment purposes only, not for profit.
Author's Notes: For the infinitely fabulous sirona_gs, my fandom bff and very favorite person-I've-never-met. (Yet.) This was meant to be a birthday present... I kiiiiiinda missed the deadline for that by a pretty ridiculous amount... oops? I dearly hope you like your gift anyway. Thank you for being your awesome self, and thank you for being, all unwitting, the goad that kept me going; I am 100% sure that I never would have finished this if I wasn't so determined to write it for you, and that would've been a terrible tragedy.
An endless heap of gratitude goes to my fabulous betas and very dear friends, regonym, look_alive, and dj_fuminshou, all three of whom were insightful, honest, BRUTAL, and just in every way the very best betas a writer could possibly ask for. Thank you so much for giving so generously of your time and energy and your invaluable feedback; this fic is vastly improved for your having vivisected it. YOU GUYS ROCK AND I LOVE YOU. Please enjoy your timeshare ownership of my soul. ♥
Additional thanks are owed to the late Eric Knudsen and the late Glen Grant, and to anyone who ever told me a ghost story; and to my family, who raised me in the woods.
...I am kind of in shock to finally be posting this. When I first started brainstorming for this piece, my goal was to write a story that included everything I'd ever wanted to see in H50 fic (or as much as I could fit in), and possibly to write a story that maybe only I could write. So this happened. This is the most personal story I've ever written, and the longest story I've ever finished. Labor of love couldn't be more accurate; I've put blood, sweat, and tears into this, and I love it like a child. (And let me tell you about the gestation period, no human mother has ever had to put up with this kind of nonsense.)
I started writing this, like, A YEAR AGO, you know, back in Season One, so... this is kind of a Timeline, What Timeline piece. I kept Danny's ties (because... I love the ties. I MISS YOU TIES.) and Danny's shitty apartment, among other things. I did steal a few things from Season Two, but not nearly as many as it stole from me. (Seriously, Halloween Episode, take all my ideas why don't you.) I set the story in December, because. Reasons. So there.
I have tried my best to remain true to the spirit of a culture I love and respect, but I've taken some creative license here and there, and anyway I'm not an expert in everything, so... take this as it is, my personal, fictionalized interpretation of the mythology, and not the gospel truth.
Aaaaand I think I've blathered on enough. Thank you in advance for reading, and I hope you enjoy this at least half as much as I have.
Posted to hawaiifive_0_tv.
This fic also available on AO3.
Pō Pouli ‘A‘aki (A Night So Dark It Bites With the Teeth)
“Is it just me or do those birds not make any sense?” Danny slurred, squinting upward at the black sheet of night sky through the branches of shower trees and coconut palms twinkling with colored lights– Honolulu in December.
“What the hell are you talking about, man?” Steve's voice came from somewhere up ahead and to the left.
“They're not even flying,” Danny complained, “the wind's just sort of– pushing them around!” He waved an indignant hand at the pair floating above him, dipping and weaving in utter silence, keeping pace with him as he walked without moving their wings. The birds looked like tiny, pure white seagulls with sharp black beaks. They seemed to weigh less than their size demanded, tipping dizzily in the slight nighttime breeze with as much substance as soap bubbles or dandelion fluff. The effect was surreal and confusing and made Danny's head hurt. “Why are you even awake?” he demanded, addressing the birds directly. “It's night! Birds are supposed to be asleep!”
“Are you angry at the birds now, Danny, what did they ever do to you?” Steve uttered a laugh that sounded suspiciously similar to a giggle.
Steve McGarrett was a happy drunk.
It had been a long, long week for Five-0, tangled up in an extremely frustrating case. There had been guns, and explosions, and a lot of paperwork, but it was all wrapped up now; score another one for the good guys. Chin, Kono, Steve, and Danny were out celebrating, winding down from the tension and adrenaline; it was Friday night, and the whole team was deeply intoxicated.
Danny's neck was starting to get sore from staring straight up. “They're weird, okay, look at them, it's not natural, they're freaking me out, don't you think they're weir—” The sidewalk gave way abruptly beneath Danny's right foot and he flailed, stumbling off of the curb and into the street, narrowly avoiding both a twisted ankle and a face-plant into asphalt. Regaining his balance, he caught sight of Steve up ahead, one arm slung over Chin's shoulders, listing heavily against the older man as he grinned fuzzily down at his phone and poked at the screen with his thumb. “You're not even looking—!”
Kono, screaming with laughter, grabbed Danny's arm and hauled him out of the street before he could get run over. Steve and Chin swung around, somewhat unsteadily, and Steve turned his wide, goofy grin on Danny. “Danno– Danno, you need to chillax—”
Danny gaped, staring at Steve as if he'd grown two heads. “What—”
“They're fairy terns, brah,” Kono said, her head tipped back and her mouth falling slackly open as she weaved down the Waikiki sidewalk, staring up into the sky.
“Manu-o-Kū,” Chin agreed. “They nest in the city.”
“There it is!” shrieked Kono, pointing at a brightly-lit bar up ahead of them. A cluster of people and a bouncing reggae beat hovered around the entrance. Kono skipped backwards, waving the rest of the Five-0 team on impatiently. “Come on, come on, let's go!”
Kono Kalakaua was a loud drunk.
Inside, they managed to claim a corner table. Danny plopped into a chair, looking around. It was pretty standard– cluster of tables, pocket-sized dance floor, a string of Christmas lights and neon advertisements for brands of beer glaring from behind the bar. Loud music blared from a jukebox instead of a DJ booth. Danny grimaced, rubbing a finger into his forehead. “Why is this place better than the other place, again?”
“Brah! Friday night two dollar beer special until eleven! First round's on me!” Kono whooped and headed for the bar, squeezing past a couple of large, heavily-tanned guys in worn and faded tank tops, the kind of locals Danny felt sure would be described to him as 'blalas'. Or was it 'mokes'? He was a bit hazy on the distinction.
Danny leaned back in his chair, letting the ambiance wash over him as he waited for his beer. After a few moments the music from the jukebox trickled into his consciousness, ceasing to be merely background noise. “Well I hooooooope you feel the saaaaaaaaame~!” a male voice crooned, followed by, as far as Danny could tell, complete and utter gibberish. Danny spared a glance at Chin and Steve; following suit with the rest of the bar patrons, his partners wore complacent smiles, heads nodding absentmindedly to the reggae bounce.
Danny frowned. He listened closely, and he tried, he really tried to see the appeal, but the longer he listened the deeper the wrinkle engraved itself in his forehead. He saw Steve look over at him, saw a questioning look flicker over his face, and before he knew it the words were pouring out of him. “What is it with you people and this Jawaiian stuff on this island, huh? What is that? It is literally all I hear on the radio, I mean that, it's inescapable, I have flipped to four different stations and it's all just Jawaiian, back to back to back. Doesn't anybody listen to real music here? You know, guitar, bass, drums, rock and roll? Springsteen? Tom Petty? John Mellencamp? I mean, this stuff, this bull crap it's driving me crazy—”
He'd been ignoring the bug-eyed looks and frantic hand flailing of his partners, merely waving his own hands around with greater vigor, but at this point both Chin and Steve lunged across the table at him, clapping hands over his mouth.
“Danny, shut up, you're going to get us killed,” Steve hissed urgently, but he was, somewhat hysterically, trying hard not to giggle.
“You don't diss the island music, brah,” Chin agreed, looking amused and exasperated at the same time.
Danny swatted their hands off of him indignantly. “I am trying,” he protested, “to introduce some culture to this backwards little rock– mmff!”
Steve's hands were back on his mouth, and he was shushing Danny through his giggles. Chin shook his head, despairing. “Your funeral, malihini. When that tita comes over here to rearrange your ‘ōkole I am not standing in her way.”
Danny glanced around the bar. Several large mokes were indeed frowning at him, and a few were well over six feet tall– no, wait, that one definitely was a woman, yikes. Danny gave Steve a look, and Steve warily withdrew his hand. Danny opened his mouth, closed it again, then turned his eyes on Chin. “You realize only half of that was English, right?” he pointed out. “I swear, one of these days I'm going to make a graph, use of pidgin on one axis, blood alcohol content on the other.”
“Beer's here!” Kono announced, appearing abruptly and clunking four bottles of Primo onto the table. She glanced around at her teammates' faces. “What's going on, guys?”
“Danno's dissing Hawaiian reggae,” Steve told her, slightly breathless around repressed laughter. “Loudly.”
Kono gave Danny a look that was at once amused, horrified, and disparaging. She reached out and smacked the back of his head.
“Oi!!” Danny exclaimed, reaching up to smooth his hair back into place.
“Lōlō,” she told him, then turned toward Chin. “Eh, cuz, watch my beer, yeah?” she asked, then stage-whispered, “I have to go to the lua.” She dimpled and slipped away in the direction of the restrooms.
Danny shook his head, reaching for his beer. “Seriously, I'm going to start keeping a tally.” He took a swig, settling back into his chair; Chin and Steve followed suit. Danny's stomach rumbled. “Hey, you guys wanna get some food after we're done here? I'm starving.”
“Shoots,” Chin said agreeably.
Steve nodded. “Yeah, I could eat.”
“Okay, but we're going to Zippy's,” Danny said, “because it's actually possible to get real food there. Normal food. You know, spaghetti with garlic bread. Chili, even if you people insist on always putting rice under it—”
“Chiliiiiii,” Chin interjected, acquiring a blissed-out look on his face.
“You never do stop complaining, do you?” Steve asked Danny rhetorically. “So what's your beef with Jawaiian, anyway? I mean, it's cool, you prefer classic rock, I get that. But reggae's laid back, happy, it's got that bounce to it... I dunno, as music goes it seems kinda harmless—”
“Harmless. Harmless? Listen, Steven, harmless is not an adjective one should use to recommend music—”
“OOH!” Steve interrupted. The music had changed, and Steve's entire face lit up. Chin wore a matching grin; glancing around, Danny noted that the song was having a similar effect on the other patrons. He watched, bemused, as Steve took a deep swig of his beer, screwed his eyes shut, and belted out lyrics, singing along loudly with the music. “Who take my lady from the tropical island, who take my lady to the Hollywood scene~?”
Danny burst out laughing.
Steve pouted, which only made Danny laugh harder. “What's so funny? Don't laugh, man, this is a classic,” Steve insisted, and as if to prove his point he resumed singing with renewed gusto. Chin joined in at this point, just as loudly, clutching his beer and bending over the table with eyes squinting shut as he shouted out the lyrics. “Say goodbye to your coconut giiiiirrrlll, hey local boy say goodbyyyyyee~, she's a coconut girl in a high fashion world– uhh!” Steve and Chin beamed at each other, bopping along to the music like lunatics. Danny curled in on himself and laughed and laughed.
It wasn't the music, really, it was Steve. Steve McGarrett, the goof, drunk and happy and singing like this song was the best thing that had ever happened to him; every word, him and Chin both, cheerfully singing out even the falsetto bits. But— “Wait, wait wait wait, I know this one. This is that song from 'Pineapple Express', right?”
Both Chin and Steve made faces like they'd just eaten something sour. “No no no, Danny, let me explain something to you,” Steve said, placing a heavy hand on Danny's shoulder and gesticulating wildly with his beer. “This song is not from any stupid stoner movie, okay, this song is a classic– didn't I tell you this song is a classic?– it's been around in the islands since—”
“Whooooo!!” exclaimed Kono, returning abruptly to the table. “Bruddah Noland, yeeessssss!” She snatched up her beer, taking a few long swallows; then, still clutching the bottle, she began to dance.
...Or something. Danny could see how, while drunk, Kono might confuse the activity she was engaging in with some legitimate form of dance. She was moving her body, yes, and yes, her movements did coincide with the rhythm of the music, but beyond that Danny was completely baffled. Essentially she was skipping in slow motion, only there was a looseness to her limbs, a slouching, downward momentum, a syncopation to the skip-step that matched the distinctive reggae bounce. ...She looked ridiculous. Danny didn't know whether to be horrified or very, very amused.
Before he could decide one way or the other, Steve and Chin pushed themselves up and gleefully joined in, all three of them with their limbs flapping around, grinning like lunatics and singing at the tops of their lungs. Danny put his head down on the table and groaned. “What, just what, what are you doing,” he protested weakly, “what are you doing to me?”
Kono gave him a despairing look. “It's called skanking, Danny. It's a dance!”
Danny raised his head. “You look like idiots,” he pointed out. “Seriously, what are you doing, are you trying to torture me?”
Chin laughed at him. “You need to lighten up, brah.”
“Wait, wait, I have an idea!” Steve announced, his ridiculous, puppy-dog face all lit up; Danny could almost see the lightbulb over his head. “You just wait right there,” he told Danny, grinning, and headed toward the jukebox, fumbling in his wallet for quarters; the man had actually brought his wallet, for once. Danny watched as he made a few selections and, beaming, made his way unsteadily back to the table, looking immensely pleased with himself.
'Coconut Girl' came to an end, and the opening notes of the next song started to play. Danny scrunched up his face and listened, sipping his beer; it wasn't the typical reggae beat, but other than that he wasn't sure what about it was supposed to impress him– and impressed he was clearly meant to be, judging by the way Steve was grinning at him. And yet– there was something familiar about the guitar hook, wasn't there, something– wait. Wait. Oh, no no....
“The Boss? Is nothing sacred to you people? You've taken a perfectly good song, okay, 'Fire', it's a classic, but you couldn't leave it be, could you, you pasted some pineapple all over it, gave it that 'island feel'– and this is supposed to make me happy—?”
“Shut up, Danny,” Steve said easily, in the same fond, exasperated tone of voice he always used when Danny got riled up, but Danny thought he saw a flicker of... something in Steve's eyes, and maybe it seemed like he deflated a bit, just a little.
Danny felt something in his chest squeeze uncomfortably. “I mean, thank you for the thought, McGarrett, honestly, I get it, you're trying to make me feel at home,” he hastened to add. “But... Bruce Springsteen, you people have ruined Springsteen, that shouldn't even be possible and yet—”
“SHUT UP, DANNY,” his partners chorused in unison. Danny threw his head back, chugging several large swallows of his beer; he slammed the bottle back down on the table and, resigned, screwed his eyes shut and began singing at the top of his lungs. When he opened his eyes Steve was grinning again, and Danny supposed it was worth it just for that.
Danny sang the rest of the song word for word, and he didn't make too much of a face when the bridge came in on a reggae bounce, and Steve and Chin and Kono sang it with him, grins on their faces. And Danny thought maybe Steve had a point about island music after all, if it could get Danny's high-strung, SEAL-trained, tangled-up-ball-of-bullets-and-adrenalin
The song wound down and Steve had that far-more-pleased-with-himself-than-he-ha
Danny shoved his fist against his mouth to keep the laughter in. He considered taking out his phone and recording this for posterity, but he decided he'd better not. If he embarrassed Steve too badly he might never unwind this much again, and that, Danny decided, would be a tragedy not worth contemplating. There was something undeniably appealing about Steve McGarrett with his defenses down and his troubles forgotten, his smile as loose and easy as the rest of his body, his long fingers wrapped around a bottle of beer instead of the butt of a pistol, the yards of muscle under smooth skin moving his body to joy rather than to anger or cold determination; Danny found himself staring, unable to look away.
Steve turned with the music and his eyes caught Danny's; his lips moved and sound trickled back into Danny's awareness: saxophone, percussion, words, “I'll be standing naked with nothing but a smile on~.” The image flashed across Danny's mind– dark eyes, lips, skin– and Danny's brain short-circuited.
Naturally, this was when the shooting started.
There were screams. Bottles and glasses shattered as people dove for cover; Chin Ho shouted, sharp and surprised. There was one shooter, handgun, looming in the door of the bar and moving forward, in, aiming for a booth in the back of the room; Danny reached for his sidearm and found it missing, remembered that none of them were armed, they were off-duty and drunk.
Steve was vaulting over a table, springing forward to tackle the shooter, bullets embedding themselves in the ceiling as the two of them hit the floor. Danny was on his feet; a man shoved past him, making for the exit– the target. “Kono! Runner!” Steve shouted, and she was off and after him. Steve's captive groaned and dropped the gun, Steve's fingers digging into his wrist; Danny hastily kicked the gun away. Steve's eyes met Danny's. “Chin,” he said.
Chin was on the ground. He groaned, his face set in a rictus of pain. “My leg.” His clawed fingers dug into his thigh, and oh, shit shit shit, blood—
In an instant Danny was at his side, kneeling, no pain in his knee and as sober as he'd ever been. He checked the injury over quickly: through and through, and judging by the rate of bleeding the bullet had missed any major blood vessels. Danny sagged with relief, digging in the pocket of his slacks for the tie he'd removed earlier in the evening. “Chin, my man, I hate to tell you this, but I think you may have been shot.”
“No worry about me, brah,” Chin gasped, chest heaving. He turned his head, pointing weakly with one hand. “Injured civilians....”
“You first, buddy,” Danny told him, swiftly wrapping the tie over the wound, and damn, that was another tie ruined, a birthday present from Grace, no less. In the background he was aware of Steve's voice as he showed his badge, told the bartender to call 911, read the shooter his rights.
“I no fucking kea',” the man was saying, crying, tears streaming down his face. “He got away. He got away.”
Danny clapped Chin on the shoulder, moving on to the next injury. “Kono,” Steve said, and Danny looked up.
Kono was leaning in the doorway, breathing heavily. She shook her head. “Sorry boss,” she said, “I lost him.”
~ ~ ~
Danny glared blearily at his wristwatch and groaned, tipping more lukewarm coffee down his throat. It was well past four in the morning, his hangover was starting to kick in, and the bleak, fluorescent lights of the hospital were hurting his eyes. He jangled the keys in his pocket as he walked; Officer Kawali‘i had been kind enough to take him to pick up his car once he was sober enough, and the Camaro was now parked, engine cooling, in the Hawaii Medical Center parking lot.
Rounding a corner on a small waiting area, Danny pulled himself to an abrupt stop. Parked in a small plastic chair next to a small plastic Christmas tree was Steve McGarrett, arms crossed and spine ramrod straight but his eyes closed and his head drooping slowly towards his chest. Danny smirked. Steve was fighting valiantly to stay alert, but he'd had twice the beers and half the coffees Danny'd had and exhaustion was taking its toll.
Danny crept toward Steve as silently as he was able, not entirely sure what he was trying to achieve. He never got the chance to find out; Steve's head snapped up and his eyes sprang open, his muscles tense and ready for action until he recognized Danny and relaxed. Danny's smirk turned wry and he held out his cardboard cup. “Coffee?”
Steve nodded his thanks and reached for the cup, taking a long draught of Danny's coffee before wiping a hand over his face wearily. “You just get back?”
Danny nodded. “How's Chin?”
“He'll be fine, but they want to keep him for a few hours since he lost so much blood. Kono's staying with him.”
“Great, then we can get out of here and get some sleep. Ah-ah!” Danny cut in quickly as Steve's mouth opened; his mouth snapped shut again. “Don't even think about saying it! Even ninjas need their sleep. Now come on, we want to be fresh in the morning for when we interrogate the guy who shot up Chin and half a bar, right? Look at you, you're useless, come on, get up, you can crash at my place again, it's closer.” Ignoring Steve's half-hearted protests, Danny liberated his coffee from Steve's clutches and steered him relentlessly through the hospital hallways and down to the car.
Steve was miraculously compliant and quiet for the entirety of the ride to Danny's apartment. Danny wasn't deluded enough to think it would last. While Danny went to dig out the air mattress from his closet, Steve stood in the doorway, fidgeting. “I can take the air mattress,” he offered. “You should sleep in your own bed.”
Danny stared at him like he was a moron. Which he was. “How many times do we have to have this conversation, McGarrett? Every single time? You are not sized like a normal person. You do not fit on the air mattress.”
Steve's mouth twisted. “It can't be very comfortable,” he pointed out, as if this were some kind of argument.
“If it makes you feel any better, I can promise you it's not any less comfortable than my fold-out couch. Plus, those sheets are horribly in need of a wash. Happy now? You'll be terribly inconvenienced. Now can we just skip to the part where you thank me and go to sleep?”
“I appreciate it.” Steve's eyes bored into Danny, dark and serious. It made Danny feel hot and uncomfortable under his skin.
“Pay me back in beers,” he said, and Steve smiled.
~ ~ ~
Ten o'clock in the morning and all the coffee in Honolulu couldn't keep Danny's yawns in– or at least, not all the coffee in the offices of Ali‘iolani Hale, and Danny would know; he’d even gone downstairs and moped pathetically until Justice Arakawa's assistant took pity on him and smuggled him some of the justice's favorite light roast. Leaning against his desk, Danny stared vacantly out at the Christmas-colored strings of Chinese lanterns adorning ‘Iolani Palace across the street while Steve brushed his teeth and selected clean clothes from the collection he kept neatly pressed and folded and probably organized by color in a drawer in his desk. So OCD, although Danny supposed it was also pretty sensible considering how frequently Steve came back to the office with blood on his shirt.
After a moment Danny picked up the police report on the bar shooting and flipped through it. He had already been through the report once, but it was a good way to keep himself from glancing over to Steve's office where Steve was blithely removing his clothes, fully visible through the open blinds of the big picture window, all sun-gold skin and lean muscle and broad shoulders. There were things Danny wanted in life and there were things Danny needed, and since he couldn't have everything he wanted, what he needed was to not have the image of Steve in a state of undress stuck in his head for the rest of the day, and to not have his partner catch him eyeing his backside, no matter how incredibly well-formed it was.
Honestly, it was just like Danny’s luck to have a disgusting schoolgirl crush on Steve 'How Many Different Ways Can I Think Of To Use A Grenade Today?' McGarrett. This was not in any way a good idea, this just wasn’t done, you didn’t develop feelings for your partner, for your boss, for your friend. Especially your lady-killer, obviously-very-straight friend. Bad bad bad idea, better just to try to ignore it until it went away. Danny had been trying for months, surely it would start working any day now.
“Danno, you ready to go?” Steve was standing in the doorway looking like he'd slept ten hours in his own bed, and if he'd noticed the way Danny jumped when he spoke he gave no sign.
Danny pulled himself together. “Damn right, let's go talk to this guy,” he said and followed Steve to the interrogation room.
“Kaulike Pihi,” Steve proclaimed, shoving the door open and stalking into the room. Danny shut the door firmly behind them. “Generally, attempted murder and a few GSWs is just a bit below our pay grade, but I made an extra-special request for you to be transferred here. You know why?” Steve leaned in close. “You shot a Five-0 officer, Kaulike.”
Danny cut in. “Commander McGarrett here gets grumpy when members of the team get injured, it makes it harder for him to do his job. So why don't you make things a little easier on everyone and tell us who that was you were shooting at and why you were shooting at him?”
Kaulike Pihi shook his head slowly, eyes fixed stonily on the ground and lips pressed firmly shut. Danny watched him narrowly, taking in the set of his shoulders, the lines of his face. He didn't look stubborn, or angry, or resentful. He looked– broken.
Danny crouched down in front of him, pulling some of the sharpness out of his voice. “Hey. Kaulike. Mr. Pihi.” Kaulike's brown, empty eyes lifted to meet Danny's. “What did that man do to you?”
Kaulike's mouth twisted, anguish showing in his face. For a moment the words seemed stuck in his throat, and then he choked out, “He killed my son.”
Steve traded a glance with Danny, raising his eyebrows; is this guy for real? Danny shrugged. “How did he kill your son?” Steve asked sharply. “When?”
Kaulike just shook his head again, bitterly. “You can't help me.”
Steve frowned. “We can help you. The police can help you. Tell us what happened.”
A bitter laugh. “The police no can help me. A couple haoles sure as hell can't!”
Only the solid grip of Steve's hand on Danny's arm kept him from biting the man's head off. “Why not?” Steve asked patiently.
“You wouldn't understand.”
Kaulike merely shook his head again.
Danny ground his teeth. “Look, Pihi, haoles or not, we're the only chance you've got. If this guy really did kill your son, he deserves to be punished. But here in America the justice system does not take kindly to people taking the law into their own hands. You tried to kill someone. You sent several people to the hospital. You're going to do some time for that. If you want justice for your son, it's gonna be us or nothing. Just....” He took a deep breath, let it out heavily. “Let us at least try. Just give us a name.”
Kaulike clenched his jaw, his eyes shining. He swallowed several times. “...Elika Olokui,” he said, and refused to say anything else.
After a few minutes of trying and failing to get Kaulike to speak again, Steve ushered Danny out of the interrogation room and shut the door. “What do you think?”
Danny chewed on his lip thoughtfully. “Well, he’s clearly upset about something. Could be acting, but he reads to me like a guy who’s lost something, and he seems like he really believes this Olokui character is responsible.”
Steve nodded. “Okay, let’s leave him to cool his heels for a few minutes,” he said. “Let's see what we can dig up on Olokui.”
“All right, you look into Olokui; I'll see if Pihi’s telling the truth about his kid.”
The two of them worked in silence for a few minutes, Danny idly waggling a pencil between his fingers and Steve frowning thoughtfully at his computer screen. From time to time Danny would glance over to Steve, and each time he did Steve's frown had etched itself deeper. Before Danny could say anything about it, however, the door to Five-0's headquarters swung open.
“Chin!” Steve's eyes lit up with joy and relief as he pushed himself up to meet his wounded comrade-in-arms. Chin hobbled forward, putting his weight on crutches rather than his injured limb, but otherwise walking on his own two feet. Kono hovered at his shoulder, watchful but grinning wide; Danny felt his own cheeks start to hurt but couldn't care less if he tried.
Danny watched as Steve hugged Chin, careful but solid, and stepped forward immediately to have his own turn. “Glad to see you with some color under your skin, my friend.”
Chin's eyes crinkled. “Not any gladder than me, brah.”
“And what are you doing walking around? Chin—” And Steve's eyebrows were down again, stern and concerned. Danny watched with amusement as he wrestled a chair into place and gently herded Chin into it. “Sit, you should be sitting, you'll aggravate your injury—”
Chin took this with good humor. “This is me not mentioning the last five times you were injured, boss. So what's going on? Have you figured out why I got shot yet?”
“Yeah, we're working on that,” replied Danny. “Got the shooter in the box right now. Name's Kaulike Pihi; the intended target was Kono's runner, Elika Olokui. Pihi claims Olokui killed his son. I just went looking and Pihi's son–” a quick glance at the computer screen to confirm that Danny hadn't lost his mind; nope, that really was the kid's name; “–Junior-Boy did pass away three weeks ago; coroner's report says natural causes, some kind of bacterial infection.” Steve was frowning again; Danny raised his eyebrows at him.
Steve huffed out a breath, clearly bothered by something. “Thing is,” he said, “I looked up this Olokui, and his record is–” he pressed his lips together, thought a moment; “–odd. He's been arrested nine times on suspicion of murder but never convicted due to lack of evidence. All the deaths he was associated with came up suspected poisonings or infections, but the tox screens are clean. And he always has an alibi around the time of death.”
Kono's eyebrows went up a little. “Noooo, that's not fishy at all. ...So what do you think, boss?”
Steve stroked at his face, thinking, sharp eyes focused on the middle distance. “...I want to look into this. There's something going on here.”
Chin was already shifting in his seat, leaning over their high-tech computer table and calling up information. “Looks like Olokui just hopped a flight to Kailua-Kona.”
Steve nodded. “He's a Big Island boy, lives in the town of Makapala in North Kohala.” He clapped his hands. “All right. Most of those arrests happened on the Big Island. I want to get over there, talk to some Hawai‘i County cops, see what they know, run some surveillance on Olokui. Chin, you're staying here; rest that leg up, and I want everything you can dig up about this mess. Kono, you stay with Chin; there's a greater chance Olokui might recognize you from the chase you gave him. Danny, pack your bags, you're with me.” He paused when he saw Danny hesitate. “Problem?”
Danny waved a hand. “No problem, I'm ready and with you all the way, you know that.” He shifted his weight, smoothed a hand through his hair, and added, “It's just– how long do you think this is going to take? Only reason I ask is– Christmas is coming up in only eight days and I wanna make sure I'm on O‘ahu....” Steve's eyes went fond and Danny trailed off, fighting a warm, tingly sensation in his stomach.
“Don't worry, Danno,” Steve said, and Danny's heart turned over the way it sometimes did when Steve used the name, “I don't expect this will take us very long. We'll get you back here in time for Christmas with Grace.”
~ ~ ~
Which was how Danny, having said his apologies to Rachel and his good-byes to Gracie, found himself in the shotgun seat of an unmarked police vehicle, driving up the Hāmakua Coast of Hawai‘i Island with Steve behind the wheel.
Steve was driving like a lunatic as usual, but Danny wasn't thinking about that. No, he definitely wasn't concentrating resolutely on the scenery to avoid contemplating certain death at the hands of a tattooed maniac.
“Huh,” he said, leaning forward to peer through the windshield and up-slope. “Snow.”
“Yup,” Steve agreed, and he was wearing a smug smile, that annoying look he always wore when he thought he was offering Danny incontrovertible proof that Hawai‘i really was more awesome than any other spot on the planet. “Snow, Danno. Aloooooha.”
Danny held up a finger. “This does not change the fact that it is December, December, Steven, and it is eighty-four degrees outside, okay, there's no snow down here, I could fry an egg on the hood of this car. That, my friend, is just not right, it is against the natural order of things.”
Steve didn't reply. Steve was ignoring him, craning his neck (not watching the road) to look up at the snow-clad slopes of the mountain above them, and the gleaming telescopes visible from the summit cones. “The first time I ever saw snow,” he said, voice soft with remembering, “was up there on Mauna Kea, when I was eleven. Mom and Dad took me.” Danny gave him a sidelong look, checking for danger, but Steve was smiling, even if his smile had a sad twist to it. “The air's real thin up there, but I couldn't stop running, I was so excited. I'd run until I fell over into a snow bank, and I'd lie there with my head spinning until I got my breath back, and then I'd just get up and run around again.”
Danny felt his lips twitch, and fought the impulse to stretch into a goofy grin at the thought of tiny Steve running around in the snow and falling over, now matter how cute the image was. He glanced at Steve again as the silence stretched out; Steve's smile was fading, the sadness and pensiveness taking over. ...Well, that just couldn't be allowed. “You saw snow for the first time when you were eleven, Steven? See, this is what I mean, that's just not right, that's, like, child abuse. Or, in your case, cruelty to animals,” he jibed, and was gratified to see Steve turn a fondly exasperated smile on him.
Before Steve could say anything in his home state's defense, his phone rang, 'Chin Ho Kelly' popping up against the wallpaper; Steve tapped the screen to put the phone on speaker. “Chin, speak to me.”
“Hey, McGarrett. Kono and I have been working through the files on all of the deaths associated with Olokui, and we picked up an interesting pattern,” Chin said. “All of these guys have criminal records. Mostly drug-related convictions, including Junior-Boy Pihi. They all had connections to the Big Island, too; Junior-Boy lived in Hawi, he was in Honolulu visiting family when he died. There doesn't seem to be anything else connecting the deaths, but we'll keep looking.”
“...Huh,” Steve commented, frowning quizzically. “Anything else?”
“Nah, man, nothing else sticks out. I'll email you the summarized report.”
“Thanks, Chin. I'll be in touch,” Steve said, and hung up the phone.
Danny scratched at his chin. “All criminals, huh? Think they coulda been hits?”
“Maybe,” Steve agreed, frowning more. “I'm gonna take a stab in the dark and say we're not dealing with a vigilante.”
~ ~ ~
“Elika Olokui? Yeah, we know who 'dat is. Everybody know him,” said Glenn Kobayashi, police captain for the North Kohala District. “Suspected possession of crystal meth, nine times suspected of murder, no convictions.”
Steve stared at him, then glanced around the tiny Kapa‘au Police Station; the handful of officers stared right back, not even bothering to pretend not to. He looked at Captain Kobayashi again. “And?”
Kobayashi shook his head. “Bettah leave 'em alone, Commandah.”
Danny's eyebrows went up. He leaned forward a little, as if maybe he'd heard wrong. “Excuse me?”
The officer shook his head. “Don't get me wrong, I'd love to lock da guy up, but no can.”
“And why's that?” Steve asked flatly, as if talking to a moron.
Kobayashi sighed. “He stay one kahuna ‘anā‘anā,” he said.
Steve laughed a little. “That is ridiculous.”
“That is incomprehensible to me,” Danny said.
Steve closed his eyes briefly, shaking his head as if the very idea were painful to him. “According to Hawaiian tradition,” he explained, “a kahuna ‘anā‘anā was... a sorcerer, someone versed in black magic. They were known for death curses... praying people to death.” He turned back to the captain. “You can't seriously believe this guy can kill people with magic.”
“Eh, believe what you like believe, I tell you what is an' what isn't. We tried for arrest dis guy, yeah? Plenny times. Dea is nevah enough evidence fo' one conviction.”
“What about the drugs?” Danny pointed out.
Kobayashi shrugged. “No can get one warrant fo’ search his house.”
“Like I said, people know dis guy. People stay scared. Da judges wen turn us down every time.”
Danny squinted incredulously. “You think he threatened the judges?”
“Maybe. Maybe he no need threaten dem.”
Steve scowled. “All right, you know what? We don't need a warrant. If he's holding ice, we'll get him for possession at least, then we'll see what else holds, yeah?”
Kobayashi sighed. “I'm telling you one last time, brah, bettah leave 'em alone. Dis guy is trouble.” When Steve and Danny didn't look impressed, he shook his head, turning to flip through some files at his desk. “All right, your funeral. I can set you up with a CI, one small-time pakalolo dealah. Da guy live next door to Olokui.”
Steve's eyebrows went up. “Next door? Really?”
A shrug. “Makapala stay one small town.”
“Yeah yeah, all right, what's this guy's name?” asked Danny.
“Maka‘awa‘awa Kilauano-Rice,” said the captain.
Danny gaped. “What? No it isn't, that's ridiculous.”
Despite himself Steve looked amused. “I'm pretty sure Captain Kobayashi here isn't lying to us, Daniel.”
Kobayashi gave the two of them a flat, disbelieving stare. “You haoles goin' die, you know dat, yeah?”
Steve huffed an irritated sigh. “Just tell us what we need to know, okay?”
Kobayashi scribbled on an invoice, handing it over. “Right dea his address. I goin' call fo’ let him know you guys stay comin'. After dat you guys is on your own.”
“Great. Thanks,” Steve ground out, sounding anything but thankful. “You know somewhere we can pick up supplies? Groceries?”
“Get da A Arakaki Store,” Kobayashi said. “Stay right on da highway, no can miss 'em.”
“Right.” Steve nodded sharply, heading for the door. “Come on, Danno.”
Danny trailed after him, taking a last look around the station. Most of the officers were still staring, and some were shaking their heads. He paused at the threshold, making eye contact with one officer who wore a particularly sullen look and glaring right back; after a moment the man's dark eyes slid away. Danny saw him grab his cell phone from his desk and get to his feet, heading towards the break room, and then the front door swung shut between them.
~ ~ ~
“So what are we here to get?” Danny asked as the doors of the A Arakaki Store swished closed behind him.
Steve snagged a basket, glancing at the signs above the aisles of the small grocery store. “You know, just... stuff. Food for a couple of days. We have a budget for this sort of thing, and I don't want to eat our CI out of house and home. We could take turns cooking? I could do steaks for dinner. Beef or tuna.”
Danny scratched at his jaw, nodding. “Sounds good to me, babe. I could take care of breakfast. Bacon and eggs?”
Steve made a face. “Soy bacon?”
“Soy– ugh, ew, God no. Turkey bacon, best offer.”
Steve looked doubtful. “Okay, but I'm making the eggs.”
“You're making the– you got a problem with my eggs, McGarrett?”
“You know I have a problem with your eggs. ...Everyone has a problem with your eggs.”
Danny pulled himself up to his full height (damn McGarrett for being freakishly tall) and squared off with his partner. “Hey. I will have you know, my daughter loves my eggs.”
Steve placed a condescending hand on Danny's shoulder. “Your daughter... loves you very, very much, Danno.”
“Hey. Hey. What are you trying to imply here, huh? Are you trying to imply that my little angel would lie to me? Is that it?”
Smirking, Steve backed away, heading for the meat section. “I'm making the eggs. Hey, grab some milk, will you?”
Danny was already turning away, rolling his eyes. “Yes, dear.”
The store was small, and the eggs and dairy section wasn't hard to find. Danny scanned the shelves, snagging a half-gallon of two percent... then reconsidered, thinking of Steve's serious milk habit, and grabbed a gallon instead. He turned and nearly tripped over a small Hawaiian girl. “Whoa, hey there!”
The girl was about Gracie's age, with tan skin and a halo of curls in the red-gold color he'd seen on a few Hawaiians. She stood very still, and didn't speak, and stared at Danny with wide, brown eyes.
Danny glanced around. He didn't see any obvious parents in the vicinity. He glanced back down at the little girl; she hadn't moved, and was still staring. “Hey, sweetheart. Are you lost?” he asked, softening his voice a little.
She stared for another moment, then shook her head. “...You have funny hair.”
“Yeah?” Danny snorted, amused. Most of the people he'd seen in this town– more of a village, really– were Hawaiian or part-Hawaiian; he wondered if maybe she hadn't seen blond hair very often.
The girl bit her lip, still staring with round eyes. “Can I see?”
Danny's amusement increased. Careful of his bum knee, he eased himself to the floor, kneeling and raising his eyebrows at her.
She leaned in close, solemn and silent. Then, quick as snake, her hand darted forward and yanked out a few strands.
“OW, HEY!” Danny roared, going red; the girl turned and fled, disappearing around the corner of the aisle.
Danny struggled to his feet, grumbling and poking gingerly at his temple. “What the hell was that about? Creepy kid,” he muttered. Scowling, he grabbed eggs and bacon– turkey bacon– and cheese and cold cuts for sandwiches. He made a detour to the bread aisle then went looking for Steve and his basket. After a few moments he found him in the produce aisle... leaning down next to the same little Hawaiian girl.
“Hey!!” Danny shouted sharply, picking up his pace; the girl flinched and ran for the door. A woman, very clearly her mother, wrapped her arms around her and, giving Danny a baleful look, ushered her outside.
Steve was getting to his feet. “What was that about?”
“That kid yanked out some of my hair!”
“...Did she?” Steve frowned, turning to look in the direction the pair had disappeared.
“Some of these kids should be on a leash! Who raises a kid to do something like that?! I mean, geez, I've got enough worries about my hair falling out from the stress of this job without some spooky little girl actually pulling it out by the roots!”
“Hmmm,” Steve commented distractedly, then shook his head, clearing it. “Come on, I think we've got enough to tide us over, let's get to Makapala.”
~ ~ ~
Steve and Danny drove nearly to the end of a narrow, potholed road before turning into a driveway that led up to a sprawling house surrounded by fruit trees and thick brush. As they pulled to a stop, a man stepped down from the broad, wrap-around veranda to greet them. He was old and tan and weathered, salt-and-pepper hair pulled back into a ponytail and graying goatee trimmed neatly. He wore a tattered tank-top printed with the emblem of an outrigger club, faded denim cutoffs, rubber slippers, and a kindly look on his face. A number of Hawaiian tattoos darkened his skin.
“Mr. Kilauano-Rice,” Steve said by way of greeting, stepping forward. “I'm Lt. Commander Steve McGarrett; this is Detective Danny Williams.”
The man grinned a white, toothy grin. “Call me Maka,” he said. He gripped Steve's shoulder and leaned in and Danny's heart stuttered a little because he looked like he was going to kiss him, but Maka placed his head against Steve's, forehead to forehead and nose to nose; Steve, for his part, froze and looked bewildered, but allowed the intimacy. After a second Maka released him and smiled, saying, “Aloha.” Then he turned and reached for Danny.
“Uhh—” Danny faltered, flinching back involuntarily.
“It's called honi,” Steve broke in. He looked bemused now. “It's the traditional ancient Hawaiian greeting.” He grinned at Maka. “I don't think anyone's ever done that to me before,” he said, sounding oddly pleased.
Maka caught Danny's eye, holding up his hands disarmingly. “Okay?” he questioned, waiting a moment, then reaching for Danny's shoulder. “Clasp shoulders,” he instructed, and what the hell; Danny did. “Now we touch foreheads, yeah? And breathe in, through the nose.” Feeling like this was the strangest thing he'd ever done, Danny leaned forward, self-conscious; Maka gently pressed his forehead and nose to Danny's and inhaled briefly, a sharp, soft breath, then leaned away. “We share the hā, yeah? The breath of life. Aloha,” he said, and grinned his bright grin, releasing Danny. “E komo mai, come in, come in,” he insisted, beckoning them toward the house; Steve and Danny grabbed their gear and supplies and followed.
“You understand what we're doing here?” Steve asked once they were inside.
Maka turned to face them with a sigh. “Yes, I understand.”
“And– you don't have a problem with us trying to arrest your neighbor,” Danny prodded.
Maka sighed again. “My only concern is that I do not think you can succeed, and that you are placing yourself in very great danger.”
“Because he's a kahuna,” said Danny, unimpressed.
“You will not find evidence for the people he has killed,” Maka insisted. “Prayer does not leave a trace. But he has killed with his ‘anā‘anā, many times. He is a meth dealer, yeah? He doesn’t like competition. People edge in on his business, people die.” Maka shrugged. “Everyone knows this.”
“If he's so dangerous, why are you helping us?” asked Steve. “Aren't you worried you're putting yourself in danger?”
“I am not worried for myself. He knows better than to try and harm me.” Maka shook his head. “I am not fond of Elika Olokui. He is a menace to the community, yeah? To our keiki. Ice is a poison in our society.”
Danny threw up his hands. “Oh, sure, because he's a drug dealer. Not because of the alleged murders.”
Steve was frowning. “Maka. What do you mean he knows better than to try and harm you?”
Maka made the facial equivalent of a shrug. “I am a kahuna as well.”
“Oh, for Christ's sake,” Danny spat, rolling his eyes.
“I am not a kahuna ‘anā‘anā like Elika,” Maka clarified. “I am primarily a kahuna po‘i ‘uhane, yeah? My skill has to do with the control of human spirits. The art is not inherently harmful, but there are terrible things I could do to him if he crossed me, and he knows it.” Maka's eyes glittered dangerously.
Danny pressed a hand to his temple, pained. “Oooookay,” he said.
The front door opened and Steve and Danny turned to see a young woman walk in, late teens or early twenties, and beautiful, with long, smooth, thick brown hair. Maka fired off a rapid string of Hawaiian, mentioning “Five-0,” “Steve McGarrett,” and “Danny Williams.” Then he switched back to English. “This is my granddaughter, Kaleilehua,” he explained. “She lives with me.”
“Kalei,” she said simply, then came toward Danny. She leaned in and he braced himself for a repeat of the strange honi ritual, but she merely kissed him on the cheek. “Aloha,” she said, before giving Steve the same treatment. Danny raised his eyebrows, smoothing down his tie.
Kalei exchanged a few words in Hawaiian with her grandfather, smiled at Steve and Danny, then disappeared into another room. Maka rubbed his hands together. “You will want to begin, yeah? Come. You can see Elika's house from my bedroom.”
He led them up a flight of stairs to a bedroom on the south side of the house. Steve and Danny set their bags down and went to the window; Olokui’s house and yard, invisible from the ground floor, was now clearly in view above the thick vegetation of Maka’s garden. Steve nodded. “This will be perfect, thank you. Is Olokui at home?”
“At home, yeah, all day.” Maka hovered in the door. “I can get you anything...? Something to eat, something to drink?”
Steve glanced at Danny for confirmation, then shook his head. “Nothing for now, thanks.”
“Okay. You call if you need anything, yeah?” Maka nodded to them and left the room.
~ ~ ~
[Next: Part 2]