nell65: (by roulade)
[personal profile] nell65
Part II


He sighed dramatically. “Fine. I’m in.”

Score another one for Jo. “All in?” Steve asked. Just to be sure.



“Yes!” He shot Steve an exasperated glare. “All in!”

“Okay. Kono? You call Cath, I’ll take Doris. Zane, you and Chin decide how you want to set up the crash. Jo? You get in touch with Shaw and fill him in?”

Doris was more than willing to pitch in, too willing and too pleased, actually. Too late, Steve realized that she would see this as an invitation to step further back into his life. And, more worrisome, he suspected he was probably happy about that, which is probably why he had thought of her in the first place when he realized they were going to need more drivers. Damn.

Catherine was also game, which was not a surprise, and Shaw, who had begun to worry, promised to have people waiting for their cue.

Chin and Zane came up with a scheme for a three car pile up, Cath in one car, Doris in one car, and Danny and Kono in the third. Meanwhile, Steve would drive Zane and Jo to the gate and drop them off to make their run for it as soon as the drivers were out of their cars and yelling at each other. Finally, in a change Steve whole-heartedly approved of, Chin would take the computer drives and boards and ride straight into Shafter on his bike. “What made you think of that, anyway? Using Zane and Jo as more decoys?”

“It was Jo’s idea,” Chin said.

“Chin is the most disciplined,” Jo explained. “And least likely to stop if anyone else gets hurt.”

Steve shook his head as he grinned ruefully at them both. “Yeah. You probably nailed that one.”

“And I wanted Kono on the ground, center stage, where she’ll have the best view of any possible shooters,” Chin added.

“So. Four cars?” Zane asked.

Chin nodded in slow agreement. “Yeah.”

“Okay then. Let’s get going. All from around here, or should we spread it out?”

“Fast is better,” Steve said, “But let’s at least get away from the HPD.”

Steve made their excuses to the duty cop left at the scene, and they peeled out in Chin’s SUV after kicking off the rest of the front bumper and leaving it behind.

Zane was fast. He had electronics that made grabbing late model cars almost effortless. But he was just as efficient with old school auto-theft. In a four block radius less than two miles away from their starting point, they took two newer cars, one mid 2000s SUV, and one banged up old mini van. The easier to hop out of, Zane explained when Steve raised his eyebrows at that one.

They rendezvoused at an empty warehouse Kamekona pointed them to, after the brief round of ritual bartering. Steve sent Danny off to hold the warehouse with the first car, mostly to keep him from needling Zane any further about his heroic life of crime. Unfortunately this only gave Danny time to compose a number of irritating observations about Grand Theft Auto, PhD’s from FPU – Federal Pen University, get it?– and the various and manifold pleasures of thug life. He let them fly as soon as Steve and Zane arrived with the last car.

Zane, busy prepping the packages for Chin, ignored him. Despite Steve’s glares and failed attempts at telepathic communication to just shut the hell up, this only made Danny up the ante.

“It must help keep the role playing authentic, the wife knowing she should arrest you for real, huh, Donovan?” Danny all but elbowed Zane in the side as he chuckled nastily.

That got an arctic glare, but Zane somehow, heroically even, managed to keep his mouth closed.

So Danny turned to Jo. “Hey! Am I right? I’m right, aren’t I?” He leered at her. “Knowing your bad boy is still a really bad boy must keep the story fresh, hm?”

Jo, her jaw tight with irritation, eyed him levelly and just let Danny’s rudeness hang in the air until even Danny started to twitch uncomfortably. “Are you finished?” she asked.

Danny shrugged and had the good sense to look slightly ashamed of himself. He also refused to look at Zane or at Steve. Which was just as well, Steve thought. Zane was probably fighting the temptation to either slug him or bait him into truly unforgivable territory. Probably the later, knowing Zane. Steve couldn’t think of anything to do to diffuse the situation, either, in part because he was so exasperated that Danny was creating it in the first place.

Under most circumstances Steve loved Danny’s mouth, for what he said and for all the clever things he could do with it. But every now and then, like, say, now, or sometimes when dealing with Rachel, it took him in way, way too deep to easily walk back. Which was why his legal bills required a monthly payment plan. And why some people didn’t like him very much.

“Good.” Jo turned her back on him.

The sound of Chin’s bike was a welcome disruption, and soon they were engrossed in diagramming out the proposed accident at the T-stop intersection in front of Shafter.

Less than ten minutes later Kono arrived in her own car, having left the Camaro at HQ and collected Doris and Catherine on the way back.

“Jo! Zane!” Doris cried, holding open her arms and giving each of them a strong hug. “It is so very good to see you again!”

“Et tu, Doris?” Danny said.

Doris raised her brow as she gave Danny a long considering look. Finally she said, “Jealousy does not become you, Daniel.”

“I am not jealous!”

“No.” Zane turned on him, all of his normal good humor entirely evaporated by a wave of surprisingly cold anger. “You’re pissed because we violated your incredibly erratic personal rules. I’ve read your files. Even before you hooked up with Steve you played dirty when you had too. Since then, you’ve followed commando man into every civil liberties violation that enters his head.”

“I have not!” Danny looked outraged. And faintly guilty as well, Steve thought, watching him roll his shoulders into a nearly imperceptible defensive crouch.

“You have too!” Zane curled his lip in a way that managed to be both mocking and contemptuous, and entirely antagonizing. Steve suddenly found the time to be amazed that Zane had made it out of federal prison alive. “You even stood there and watched while a SEAL team played a giant ass counting coup game with Mexican drug lords. Because apparently, according to your personal code, Mexicans aren’t worthy of civil liberties, so cold-blooded murder of them is all A-OK by you.”

“How the hell do you even know that?” Now Danny was just straight-up angry.

“How do you think I know that?” Zane all but rolled his eyes, his ‘moron’ unsaid but audible all the same. “I looked it up. Your record isn’t even secret. It barely rises to confidential.” Somehow Zane managed to make this sound like being banished to the children’s table, a direct hit at one of Danny’s most painful insecurities. “So when you do get extraordinary, one-time only clearances they stand out like a fucking beacon. You’ve been a dick to me, and to Jo,” Steve thought it was pretty clear everyone that this was the heart of the problem, “almost since we met, so I wanted to know what the hell crawled up your ass and died.”

“Did you figure it out, brainiac?” Danny’s eyes were narrow with fury and his tone was barely removed from grade-school taunting.

“Yeah. I did.” Zane folded his arms and dismissed him with shrug. “Turns out you’re just an asshole.”

Danny rendered speechless didn’t happen all that often, but now he just gaped at Zane. Finally, in a much calmer voice, he said, “That whole thing actually really pissed me off.”

“Which ‘whole thing’?” Zane asked, implying vast multitudes of options.

“That SEAL thing. My objections wouldn’t have made any difference though.”

Zane nodded slowly. After a moment he let stretch nearly to the breaking point, he said, “Sucks, doesn’t it. Becoming a DOD lackey.” His voice was oddly sympathetic, and Steve was relieved to see Danny’s shoulders begin to relax as the tension began to leak out of the room.

Danny flicked his eyes to Steve, and then looked away from all of them. “Yeah,” was all he said.

“Okay then.” Kono broke the scene with a bright, if forced, smile. “I have tac vests for everyone. After our last encounter with these guys, seemed like a good idea.”

Steve wanted to hug her, but knew better. “Good call.” He looked around. “Gear up everybody. No point in standing around here. Jo? Give Shaw the head’s up.”

They were about half way back to Shafter when Chin radioed in. “The Impala is patrolling the intersection southeast of Shafter.”

“Has he made you?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Okay.” Steve thought for a few seconds, and then decided to come around from the other direction. “Everybody, circle around and be ready to come in again on my mark. I’m going to bring Zane and Jo in from the north.”

He looked over at Jo. “I’m guessing that they will be watching from this direction too, and now I’ll have to stop on the wrong side of the road, but….”

“That draws more attention away from Chin and makes us more visible running for the gate,” Jo concluded approvingly.

“Oh. Yay.” Zane said from the backseat.

They spotted the black Camry just as they exited the freeway and turned back south toward Shafter. At about the same moment the driver must have decided it was them and pulled into traffic two cars behind them. “We’ve got a black Camry on our tail,” Steve announced, his adrenaline singing now.

“Guys,” Catherine’s voice rang in Steve’s ear, “another car just pulled out behind me from under the trees here at Funston Road. He isn’t looking at me, but I think he’s gunning for you.”

“Okay – pile up as many cars as you can.”

Cath and Doris hit their marks exactly, two left turns at once in the intersection immediately in front of the Shafter gate. Danny and Kono plowed right into Doris’s rear bumper, having been following—deliberately—too closely as she swung across a lane and into the turn.

The silver Impala promptly rear ended Danny and Kono’s older model SUV. With a screeching of tires, two more cars behind the Impala barely managed to avoid collisions.

Steve pulled to a stop on the far side of the road from Shafter. Danny, Cath and Doris were all emerging from their cars, already yelling about whose fault it was. Then he saw the driver of the Impala pulling a weapon as he strode for the center of the intersection, his partner only a few steps behind him. Kono popped up over the roof of the SUV, her gun already in her hands, and began firing at the driver of the Impala. He promptly darted back for cover, returning fire as he ran.

“Go!” Steve cried to Jo and Zane. Flinging himself toward the Camry, all of them dodging around another car trying to make the right merge onto the freeway entrance, he pulled his own gun and began firing at the Camry closing in fast. He hit the Camry’s windshield twice and the car spun out, slamming across the northbound lane and into the stone fence surrounding Shafter about twenty-five yards before reaching the main gate.

The air was full of the sound of gunfire. Zane and Jo were almost across the street, Zane pulling Jo behind him. Steve caught sight of Chin on his bike, simply gliding past all of the turmoil and turning right and into the entrance of the Fort, disappearing around the bend with a wave from the guard as he passed through. Steve smiled in triumph, and then he heard his mother’s scream. “Steve! Hit the ground!”

At almost the same moment he heard the whooshing bark of a rocket launcher.

The street directly in front of Zane vanished in a geyser of asphalt and dirt, the force of the blast throwing him up and back, tossing him into Jo, spinning them both head over heels like rag-dolls, debris raining down across the entire intersection. They fell, cart-wheeling into the ground, and lay sprawled and still.

Steve had begun his dive as soon as he heard his mother’s shout. The force of the explosion knocked him sideways, but he was more or less prepared for it and already beginning a roll as he hit the pavement. He was pulling himself to his knees, trying to get a sense of what was happening when he saw two men running from the direction of the Camry and headed straight for Zane and Jo, and heard a second round of the rocket launcher.

He dropped to the ground again and covered his head, waiting for the impact before launching himself to his feet. He felt more than he heard a secondary explosion, and then the billowing heat and pressure of a gas tank going up in flames hit him like a wave, making him stagger.

Through the shimmering air he saw Jo standing over Zane and firing point blank into the faces of the two men who had made it within paces of them, blood and bits of bone flying as what was left of their heads snapped backwards and their bodies tumbled to the ground.

He turned his head to see what was happening with the mid-intersection collision and couldn’t make out any details, too many running people, too many flames, too much confusion. Men and women in army camo were rushing into the scene, traffic was beginning to back up into long lines in three directions behind the snarl at the gate, too many drivers were exiting their cars, trying to get a better look at the chaos.

Five more strides and he was at Jo’s side as she knelt over Zane, brushing dirt and blood from his face and growling, over and over, “Don’t stop breathing, damn you. Just. Don’t. Stop. Breathing.”

The next few minutes were chaotic, but not nearly as chaotic as they would have been without Shaw’s intervention. The squad that rushed out from Shafter was aware of what they were seeing. Before HPD even arrived, they had flagmen out sorting and redirecting traffic, the two bloodied men from the Impala in custody, and medics were gently sliding Zane onto a body board before transferring him into a waiting ambulance. Despite the flames, Danny, Kono, Cath and Doris were fine, bruises and cuts and a bit singed, but nothing more. Unfortunately, the men firing the rocket launcher had fled the scene.

Steve called the Governor’s office, needing to get out ahead of explaining why his mother, his girlfriend and two members of 5-O had just had an accident in front of Shafter in stolen cars.

Denning was understandably inclined to be cranky, but the careful use of Mansfield’s name, an invocation of national security, the cooperation of Lt. Col. Shaw and the people at Shafter, and he was willing at least to delay a dressing down until he’d had time to process the entire story.

Assisting HPD with the accident site was essential. Dumping them with Five-O’s extremely messy business would have only resulted in hostility and questions. Cheerful support earned him and his team enough good will that their misdirection about what they had been up to, foiling a terror plot, was accepted readily. It helped that they had two live suspects and two dead ones, as well as the rocket launcher, which had been left behind. They were able to pass the location itself off as the target of the terror plot. The two living suspects, having been threatened with military detention by hard-eyed officers in Army green, were happy to be taken away by HPD and ready to plead to any number of weapons violations as long as they stayed in the criminal justice system.

He also had to spend some time chatting up the officer Shaw had detailed to manage things on the ground at Shafter. The man obviously knew almost nothing about what was going on and was both thrilled and disappointed to be so close to, and yet so far from, something big. The packages Chin had delivered had been snatched up and whisked away by waiting intelligence officers.

As a result, it was almost three hours later before he was able to send his team home to rest and to take himself off to the hospital to check up on Zane and Jo. Catherine had called to let them know that Zane was alive and stabilized, but so far there had been little information about the extent of his injuries.

He arrived at Tripler, the massive Army medical complex on the island, to find Jo, rigid with tension, sitting between his mother and Cath in a small waiting room near ICU. Catherine stood as soon as she saw him and walked into his arms. He held her tightly for a moment or three longer than usual. The stricken look on Jo’s face provided all the reminder he needed to hold on to those he loved while he could.

“Hey,” Cath pulled back, reaching up to brush gentle fingers over his own bandaged cheek and forehead. Contusions he hadn’t realized he had taken until long after the excitement died down and a persistent medic finally pushed him down on the curb. “How are you doing?”

“I’m fine. Sore. But fine.” He caught her fingers and kissed them. “Any news?”

She nodded. “They think a large piece of pavement hit him full in the chest. Even with the vest, it crushed his sternum and broke several ribs. One of his lungs was punctured and there’s been a lot of internal bleeding. Plus the concussion from slamming into the ground, the broken wrist and the gash in his thigh. He was just too close to the point of impact.”

What she didn’t have to say was that without the vest, he probably would already be dead. “Is Jo hurt?”

“Minor concussion, sprained wrist. Bullet graze to the shoulder and three slugs in her vest. Major bruises where they hit. But he was between her and the blast, so he shielded her almost completely from any initial debris.”

Steve nodded and crossed the room to kneel in front of Jo. He started to put his hands on her knees, but she flinched back, so he pulled his hands away. “Hey. I came as soon as I could.”

She nodded, and worked up a very strained smile. “Thanks,” she said. Her voice was so faint and dry he could hardly hear it, but she coughed and tried again, stronger this time. “Thank you. I’m glad you’re here.”

They waited quietly for what seemed another very long time. At last a man in blue scrubs and a white coat appeared. “Mrs. Donovan?” he said, obviously not quite sure to whom he should be speaking.

Jo rose to her feet, her back straight and her shoulders square. “Yes?”

The doctor looked around, obviously wondering about privacy.

“It’s fine,” Jo said. “Go on.”

“We have him stabilized for now, but there’s been a lot of internal damage. Especially to his heart and lungs. They were seriously bruised at impact, and bone splinters ripped them up pretty badly on top of that. We’ve repaired everything we can for now, but he’s still bleeding and it’s not a good long term solution.”

Jo swayed, but she did not fall. “Meaning?”

“We think they will eventually fail. He needs new ones.”

“New organs? A new heart and lungs? That’s what he needs?”

“Yes. We’ve put him on the top of the transplant lists. He’s young, healthy and in excellent shape. If we can get organs in time, he should do very well.”

“You need a heart and lungs. For Zane.” Jo repeated, speaking slowly and clearly, as though it were terribly important that the doctor understand exactly what she was saying.

“Yes. He needs a new heart, and, ideally, new lungs.” The doctor nodded firmly. But then, with a quick glance at Steve and then Doris, he went on, “we can keep him going, here in the hospital, but, Mrs. Donovan, the wait times can be quite long. Especially for both a heart and lungs. You need to understand that.”

“No.” Jo shook her head. “There’s no need to wait.” She was fumbling for her phone. Once she had it in her hands, she raised a faintly trembling finger and pointed at the doctor. “Don’t move,” she ordered.

The doctor looked to Steve and then Doris in confusion, but they both shook their heads. They were as much in the dark as he was.

Whomever Jo was calling was taking their time picking up the phone, but eventually Jo breathed, “Allison? Allison, the doctor is here. He says Zane needs a new heart and lungs.”

She nodded sharply once, then twice, said, “OK,” then she held the phone out to the doctor. “Talk to her. Tell her everything.”

“Jo?” Steve asked, “What’s going on?”

“Allison and Henry will print him a heart. His heart. His lungs.”

“Um,” Steve exchanged wild glances with Cath and Doris. “Okay.”

He looked at the doctor whose eyes had gone as wide as he was sure his were as he listened to the person on the other end of the line. The doctor burst out, “Is this some sort of sick joke?”

Whatever this Allison said next had the doctor frowning, then leaning back as though to get away from someone poking their finger in his chest. Eventually, he cleared his throat, and said, “I see. Thank you Dr. Blake. I’ll alert the transplant team and put you in touch with the nurse’s station supervising Mr. Donovan’s care. I look forward to meeting you.”

He handed the phone back to Jo, who accepted it and stepped away to speak privately.

Steve looked at the doctor. “Well?”

“I don’t quite know what to say. Either I’ve just been colossally punked, and at the expense of a patient and his terrified wife, or, I’m about to participate in a medical advance that I thought was still only the stuff of science fiction.”

“And what is that, doctor?” Doris asked, using one of her more terrifying ‘don’t fuck with me’ smiles. About a seven on a one to ten scale, Steve thought. Aimed at anyone other than himself, watching his mother in action was always a bit freakishly satisfying.

The doctor didn’t even hesitate. “You’ve heard of 3-D printing, I assume?” At their nods, he continued, “This Dr. Blake assures me that they have organic 3-D printers. They are going to build, in their labs, new organs for Mr. Donovan. Replacements. Created specifically for him. Based on genetic information they already hold on all their employees. And fly them in. Within the next twenty-four hours.” He paused, frowning. “Allison Blake. That name is ringing a bell.”

Jo, who had finished with her phone call, interrupted his thought process. “When can I see him?”

“I’ll take you to look at him now, but only through the glass. In a few hours we will set him up in a private room.”

“When will he wake up?”

“Well.” The doctor scrubbed his hand through his thinning hair. “I was going to see if we could wake him in the morning, but with Dr. Blake’s news – I’m beginning to think it will be better to keep him sedated until after the next surgery.”

“No!” Jo swallowed hard. “I mean. I want to be able to speak with him before the next surgery. He would want it too.”

“He’s on a ventilator, Mrs. Donovan. It’s extremely uncomfortable and impossible to talk through.”

“Give him a tablet. He can type.” She raised her eyes to the doctor’s. “Please?”

Steve watched the doctor gradually crumble under the onslaught of Jo’s eyes. She had amazing eyes, Jo did. Large and expressive, and often so dark you could hardly see her pupils unless you were in bright light. Tonight you could drown in her eyes, terror and hope and love pulling you in and under until you were lost for good in their bottomless depths.

“Okay.” The doctor’s voice was weak at first, but gained strength as he spoke. “But not until morning. He needs the rest. And I’m sure you do as well.”

“I will stay here.”

The doctor looked to Steve and Doris. “It might be best if you all took shifts….?”

Doris nodded. “I agree.” She turned to Jo. “I’ll take you to Steve’s. You can shower and get some sleep.”

“No.” Jo shook her head and repeated, “I’m staying here.”

“Josephina Lupo you will do no such thing. You will come with me and get cleaned up and rested before tomorrow.”

Jo looked shocked. “How do you know my name?”

Doris smiled warmly at Jo. “Your husband likes to talk about you.”

Jo smiled back, a watery smile, but a genuine one, and she chuckled softly. “I imagine the difficulty is getting him to shut up.”

Doris wrapped her arm around Jo’s shoulders and began moving her to the exit. “Not at all. Listening to a man who loves his wife is a great pleasure. Though, I admit, I won’t be asking him a second time!”

Steve and Cath had finished a not quite as awful as anticipated cafeteria supper and were debating who would stay and who would go home for some rest themselves, when the door to the small waiting room off the ICU opened again. Looking up, they saw a very tall, dark-skinned Army officer entering, some sort of aide beside him. “McGarrett?” The man said.

Steve immediately recognized the voice, and the rank on his collar. He rose, offering his hand. “Shaw?”

“Yes. Good to meet you.” He turned to Cath, and offered her his hand, “And you as well, Ms. Rollins.”

Having now established that despite his uniform, they were not officially on duty, Shaw gestured towards the chairs, inviting them to sit with him.

“I wanted to offer my congratulations on your very quick work today. You earned yourself a lot of gratitude.”

“From?” Steve cocked his head encouragingly.

“When it might help, you’ll know.”

“Ah.”

“I also want to offer you my personal thanks. Jo Lupo is a very good friend of mine. I’m very relieved that she is back again, and mostly in one piece.”

Steve quirked his eyebrow, “And, Zane?”

Shaw laughed a quiet, rumbling laugh. “Donovan. Makes her happy. So, I’m happy he’s going to make it.”

“Hmm.”

“Well,” Shaw leaned forward, a bit conspiratorially, “I’m happy for him too. He is, slowly, proving that he is worth more than the trouble he brings. A great deal more. But you don’t need to tell him I said so.” He sat back and crossed his legs. “In fact, if you’d like to head home and get some rest, I would be happy to take a turn waiting.”

Steve searched Shaw’s face, trying to figure out what was making the small hairs on his arms stand up. “I think,” he said slowly, “I think I’ll just wait here. We’re running shifts and someone else from our team will be here in a while.”

“No need. Really. I know you had a very busy day.”

“And, if you are planning to whisk him away in the dead of night, at least I’ll be able to tell Jo I did everything I could to stop it.”

Shaw chuckled again. “The thought had crossed our minds, McGarrett. But, he’s really in no condition to be moved. And this is a military hospital, so the necessary security protocols can be established. Beginning with this.” He gestured for his aide, who handed over two clipboards. “I’m afraid that you’ll both have to sign, again, to guarantee your silence about all that you heard here today. Specifically about the extent of Donovan’s injuries, and about how he will be treated.”

“The whole ‘printing him new organs’ thing?” Cath asked.

“Yes.” He smiled approvingly at Cath, and then grew serious again. “The DOD is not sitting on this technology due to national security concerns, I assure you, but because, so far, it has resisted all attempts to scale up production. It is also incredibly costly and the materials hard to manufacture. To allow any hint that it exists to escape, even as a remote possibility and only in the rarest of cases, would be cruel. Raising hopes that cannot, at present, be met.”

“But, you’re willing to use it for Zane?” Steve said.

“Yes. He wrote the some of the first organ design programs for the lattice.” At their confused looks, he added, “the printer.”

Steve exchanged glances with Cath, then they held out their hands for the clipboards. They’d both already signed away so much of their lives, what was a little bit more, really, in the grand scheme of things?

As Steve handed his back to the aide, he said, “My mother was also here, when we heard about it.”

“Yes. Someone is visiting with her as we speak.”

“You are very thorough.”

“Yes.”

“So? What happens now?”

“We wait.”

So they waited. Shaw took off soon after they signed, but left his aide, who sat quietly working away at a laptop. Around midnight Kono arrived, armed with coffee and magazines. Steve introduced her to Shaw’s aide, having already texted her his warning to not leave Zane unwatched, and he and Cath headed home to bed.

In the morning he went first to Five-O, sure that there would be a mountain of paper work waiting for him after yesterday’s adventures. Instead he ran into Danny, sitting in his own office, staring off into space with a bemused expression on his face. “What’s up?” Steve asked, leaning in the doorway.

“People in dark suits and armed with thick non-disclosure agreements showed up, announced anything we had from yesterday was classified, downloaded and erased files, and left. Just like the last time we tangled with Lupo and Donovan.”

“So… does that mean no paperwork?” Steve tried not to sound too gleeful.

“Apparently.”

Steve’s conscience kicked a little. “Even about the stolen vehicles?”

“I asked about those, actually. They said that the owners would discover that their insurance companies were remarkably understanding and generous.”

“I can’t believe the owner of the mini-van was carrying that kind of insurance!”

“Fortunately for them, it wasn’t damaged.”

After a few minutes of silence as they contemplated this turn of events, Danny stood up. “I owe you an apology, by the way.”

“Yes. I’m sure you do. For what exactly?”

“For doubting that they would step up, ‘once the goods crossed the finish line’. They certainly have.” He looked up at Steve. “I will allow you one, and only one, ‘I told you so.’ Don’t abuse it.”

Steve laughed then. “Well, I’ll be sure to be careful with it.” He looped his arm around Danny’s shoulders. “Come on. Let’s go see if Zane’s awake yet.”

He had been, but was already in being prepped for his next surgery by the time they arrived.

“He was really groggy, but, I’m glad they let him wake up enough to understand what was happening,” Jo said. “He’s really twitchy about having things happen while he’s asleep. They all are. The ones who….” she fluttered her hands and shrugged.

Steve nodded. He saw the quick gestures to her forehead and temples, and he remembered the banks of machines the Consortium had set up, waiting to jack Zane back into their VR world. He also remembered how thoroughly Zane had smashed those machines, and later, blown up the smashed bits and buried them. Just for good measure. He hadn’t thought about it before now, but he could imagine just how upset Zane might be to learn that he’d had major surgery without knowing about it ahead of time.

“McGarrett. Just the man I was looking for.”

Steve turned to see Lt. Col. Shaw approaching.

“How’s he doing, Jo?” Shaw asked as he joined them. “I heard you had a chance to speak with him?”

“He’s strong. He’ll be okay.” She smiled, her eyes glistening with tears she quickly blinked away. “He said to tell you thanks. For arranging everything for us at Shafter.”

Shaw shook his head. “I just wish…”

Jo interrupted him. “You’d what? Anticipated rocket launchers? Really?”

Shaw ducked his head in an apologetic shrug. “Well, that was beyond the parameters I’d anticipated. Or anyone had, I suspect. It seems the local hires decided to use some initiative.”

Shaw grew serious again. “The helicopter should be here shortly, and Donovan will be fine. He’s in the best hands possible.” He turned to Steve. “That’s why I’m here. Would you like to come with me, to meet the chopper?”

“Um, sure?” Steve smiled and turned to Danny, his gaze pointed. “Will you be okay here?”

“Yeah.” Danny smiled a bit ruefully. “We’ll be fine. Really. Go.”

Shaw was silent as they made their way to the helicopter landing area. As soon as the chopper landed, several med tech looking types jumped out, turning to take the small organ transfer cases. Hospital employees quickly ushered them inside. Shaw made no move to follow, and Steve turned his gaze back to the chopper. Two more people were emerging; a slender woman and a tall, square-jawed, grey-haired man wearing a polo shirt tucked neatly into his pressed and belted khakis. Steve immediately recognized this look as senior military officer ‘civilian’ wear. He had a passing moment of relief that he had gotten out of the service before his inclination for comfort over anything that needed ironing was ground out of him.

Shaw gestured them inside, and Steve found himself shaking the hand of the elusive General Mansfield. “How do you do, sir? It’s a pleasure to finally meet you.”

“And the same to you, Commander McGarrett.”

Mansfield’s grip was firm and well practiced. He turned to the woman with him. “Please, let me introduce Dr. Allison Blake, who will be supervising the surgery.”

Dr. Blake was a lovely, trim woman on the threshold of middle age, with long brown hair and expressive eyes and a warm, reassuring smile.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Commander.” Dr. Blake had a perfect physicians’ voice, warm and full, her fingers in his hand were cool and dry. “Jo’s told us a bit about you.”

“Dr. Blake,” the General said, “let’s get you to surgery, shall we?”

With that they all turned to make their way back into the hospital. Dr. Blake was collected promptly by a hospital staffer, and Shaw steered Steve and the General into a small office, conveniently – as if, Steve thought – empty and available.

“McGarrett. I wanted to apologize for being out of touch yesterday. It was necessary, given the parameters of the mission at hand. But the initiative you and your team showed was superb. Lupo and Donovan chose well when they decided to come to you.”

“Thank you, General. I assume this means everything ended the way it was supposed to?”

“I believe it did.” Mansfield smiled briefly. “Stolen cars and all.”

“You heard about that, I see.”

“Donovan’s a born felon.” Mansfield quirked an eyebrow, “I assume your tendencies are the result of training and expediency.”

Steve smiled a half smile and chuckled a half chuckle, refusing to commit himself to any actual answer.

“I am in your debt. Which I will remember.” Mansfield held out his hand again, and Steve took it, aware that this time they were sealing a bargain. Too bad he didn’t actually know what the terms of the deal were.

When they made it to the waiting area, to Steve’s surprise, Mansfield held out his arms and Jo walked into his embrace. It was short and formal, but Steve felt it was also quite sincere. “I came as soon as I could,” Mansfield told her.

“I understand, sir,” Jo’s lips quirked up in a faint smile, “And you brought Allison.”

“I’m sorry everything went so badly at the end.”

“It was a hastily planned mission, sir.” Jo shrugged and locked her hands behind her back, quietly assuming the pose of a soldier debriefing to her commander.

“Window of opportunity was closing.”

“Yes sir.” Jo nodded.

“But,” and Mansfield’s gaze was abruptly quite sharp, “you and Donovan completed your mission.”

“Yes sir. We did.” Her voice rang with quiet assurance.

Mansfield’s expression acquired the faintest hint of malevolent satisfaction. But all he said was, “Thank you.”

Jo cocked her head. “But the risks were far greater than you acknowledged.”

Mansfield shook his head regretfully. “I know. And for that, I’m very sorry.”

Jo unclasped her hands from behind her back, letting her arms fall to her sides. “In fact, the plans presented to us on site suggest it would have been neater if we hadn’t made it home at all.”

“No!” Mansfield looked horrified. And faintly guilty as well. “No. Jo. I knew you both would get home. That’s why I sent you.”

“Did everyone else involved know that? Sir?”

The General didn’t answer right away and he wouldn’t meet Jo’s gaze. Finally he said, “I don’t know what everyone else believed.” He raised his eyes to her face again. “But I believed in you. And in Donovan.”

“You didn’t answer your phone yesterday.”

“I know. I sincerely regret that I couldn’t.”

“I see.” She paused, and then raised her brows. “You could make it up to him.”

“I could?”

Her gaze hardened. “Find him the money to build the chaotic inflation device. I know he and Henry have been requesting funding for more than a year.”

“That’s pure research Jo. You know I don’t handle that.”

“Yes. It is. But you can find the money. Sir.” Jo’s stare was both measuring and a challenge. “It’s Nathan Stark’s design. With Zane and Henry building it, it will revolutionize astrophysical theory, maybe even some of the laws of physics. It is the beginning of testing his doctoral thesis. He’s earned it.”

The General opened his mouth and closed it again, once, then twice. Finally he said, “I’ll see what I can do.”

Jo folded her arms across her chest. She kept her gaze steady on his, “You can make this happen. If you want to. Sir.”

Steve had no way of knowing what they saw in each other’s eyes, but in the end, Mansfield bowed his head. “Yes. I can,” he said at last. “And I will, Jo. I will find him the funds.”

Steve let go the breath he had not been entirely conscious of holding. Jo had lined Mansfield up in her sights, maneuvered him into position, and taken him down with little more than a lifted brow and force of righteousness. Guilt and honor and a hair’s breadth escape from widowhood were all on her side this time, and Mansfield knew it. It was an impressive performance. He was glad he wasn’t in the General’s shoes. And admired that Jo had asked for something he could actually give.

Then, turning to take Shaw and Steve in as well, the General gave them all a curt nod. “If you will excuse me, I have other business to attend to.”

As the General left the room, Steve’s phone rang. It was HPD, with a new case. He turned to make his apologies to Jo, but Shaw waved him off. “It’s fine McGarrett. I’ll be debriefing Jo today. She won’t be alone.”

“Today?” Jo looked horrified.

“The doctors have told us the surgery will take ten to eleven hours, Jo. Debriefing now is efficient, and will help you pass the time.”

Five-O’s new case proved to be the usual. It had a little of this, a little of that, then a dead body, leads that didn’t pan out, informants who had little to offer that was useful and lots of commentary that wasn’t as funny as they thought it was.

Things were stalled out in the late afternoon while they waited for lab tests and information requests to be filled, so Steve decided it would be a good time to check in on Jo. He was looking around for Danny when Kono and Chin returned from pursing another lead that failed to pan out. “Do you know where Danny is?”

Kono shot him a baffled look. “Yeah. He went back over to the hospital a while ago, said he was going to take Jo some decent coffee and take out.”

Steve was surprised that Danny had taken off without telling him, but pleased all the same that it showed effort to mend fences on Danny’s part. Striding through the hospital corridors looking for them, he came around a corner and caught sight of his mother’s familiar back. He was just about to hail her, when he realized that she was walking along deep in conversation with General Mansfield. As it did so often when dealing with Doris, the first thought that passed through his brain was, ‘what the hell, mom?’

Before he could edge himself into listening distance, they stopped at another corridor crossing and he had no real choice but to walk right on up to them. He raised what he hoped was a meaningful eyebrow. “Mom?”

“Steve!” She smiled at him, as always apparently genuinely delighted to see him no matter how badly timed, from either of their points of view, his arrival might be.

“Commander.” Mansfield smiled. “I was just telling your mother how pleased I was with your recent intervention.”

And just like that Steve felt reduced to grade school during parent-teacher conferences, suffused by that vaguely embarrassed yet thrilled sense that the adults were happy with his work. He automatically thrust his hands into his pockets to shrug off the praise. “Just doing my job, sir.”

“Above and beyond.” Mansfield smiled. “If you’ll excuse me?” He turned to Doris. “It was good to see you again.” He offered her his hand. “Take care of yourself.” He nodded at Steve. “And your son.”

While Steve was still floundering around in search of his dignity, Mansfield walked off.

“Mom?”

“Yes, honey?”

“You know Mansfield?”

“Know? No.” She shook her head in denial. “We met, once or twice, a long time ago. That’s all.”

“And so he tracked you down to praise me?”

“No!” Doris laughed and turned to keep walking. “Don’t be silly.” She linked her arm through his. “Not that you don’t deserve it of course.”

Steve thought about shrugging off her arm, but then she would go all brittle and withdrawn and that would end any attempt to get new information out of her today. “So. What did he want?”

“You signed all those documents?”

“Yes.”

“Okay. You’ve put together that I did a lot of my work in Asia, yeah?”

Steve nodded. “Yeah.” And kept his ‘duh’ and his infinite number of Wo Fat questions to himself.

“Some of the assets I helped set up then were used in this whatever it was that Zane and Jo were involved with now. Mansfield was just letting me know that the old work finally paid off. It was very sweet of him, I thought.”

She could have been talking about gardening, and not setting up clandestine networks in North Korea. “You know your nice lady routine is really aggravating, don’t you?”

“Of course I do, honey! Why do you think it works so well?”

Steve ignored this. “Mansfield isn’t a nice man.”

“No.” Doris frowned thoughtfully. “He wasn’t when we were younger either. I’m sure, in time, I’ll get the check for this.”

Steve instinctively tightened his arm, pulling his mother closer, relieved now that he hadn’t shrugged her off earlier. It was entirely up to him to cut her out of his life if he decided, in the end, that was best. No one else had the right to take her away again before he’d made up his mind, and especially not someone like Mansfield. “I’m in on this one too, mom, and not because of you this time. You don’t have to do it by yourself.”

Doris leaned in. “Thanks. I will remember that. I promise.”

They found Danny and Jo sitting by a bank of windows, chatting away in what looked to be a friendly conversation.

“How was your debrief?” Steve asked.

“Long. Thorough.” Jo shrugged, then smiled quickly at Danny. “Danny arrived with coffee at just the right time.”

After getting the latest updates on how the surgery was proceeding, Steve announced that he and Danny really had to get back to work on their current case, and they wandered off, leaving Doris to keep Jo company.

Walking back toward the parking lots, Steve cleared his throat. “You seemed pretty comfortable, back there, talking with Jo.”

“Yes.” He shot Steve a cocky grin. “I started with extreme groveling, and worked my way up to an apology for my asshole remarks from there. Techniques honed to perfection over years with Rachel.”

“But,” Steve wrinkled his brow, “you were sincere, right? Because you really were being a jerk.”

“Once again, my friend, you underestimate me.” He clapped his hand on Steve’s shoulder. “A very early lesson, and one reinforced many, many times subsequently, is that apologies never work if they aren’t sincere. You can’t apologize for being a jerk if you don’t actually know what it was that you did was jerky. This time,” he dropped his hand. “I knew exactly what I’d done, because it was obvious the minute it fell out of my mouth.”

“The long, awkward pause gave it away?”

“While everyone looked at me like something they’d like to scrape off their shoe? More or less. Yes. That was it.”

“So, none of the ‘if it made you uncomfortable, I’m sorry’ weaseling?”

“Nope. Straight up, I was rude. I’m sorry. I was wrong.” He paused, then said, in a musing sort of tone, “It’s an excellent life lesson. Learning to apologize that way. One that many people could benefit from.”

Steve immediately started wracking his brain, trying to figure out what he should have apologized for but failed to because he still didn’t know it was wrong in the first place. Before he had come up with anything, Charlie Fong called with his preliminary report and they were back to work again.

Two frustrating days of failed leads later, Steve looked across the small café table at Jo, “So. Mansfield. What was he on about, with all his ‘born felon’ attitude about Zane?”

Zane had come through the surgery in excellent shape. Before she returned to Oregon, Dr. Blake assured them all that he would be up on his feet and ready to fly home himself within about four days, which had initially had the local transplant team openly guffawing. But, now, barely thirty-six hours after his surgery, it seemed Dr. Blake had been correct. Zane was awake, restless and bored. In other words, well enough that when Steve arrived at Tripler, Zane was locked in with Shaw doing a full debriefing of their mission.

Even more telling, Jo had slept and was now smiling again, even laughing as she recounted Zane’s colossal attack of whining when he realized he was going to be trapped by Shaw.

So he took Jo out for coffee.

Jo shook her head as she chuckled. “That’s a long story.”

“I’m listening.” He smiled encouragingly.

“You’ve seen his felony record, right?”

“Yes. And the pardons.”

“Well, hackers don’t start with major theft from government accounts. That’s something you work up to. In Zane’s case, he was hacking NASA before he was in middle school. And he acted out – a lot – after he was sent to college while he was still a kid. Petty theft, minor vandalism, joy riding, mostly pranks taken too far, but exhausting for everyone involved to clean up after. Mansfield is thinking of that.”

“But,” Steve paused delicately, “he hasn’t committed computer crime since his pardon, has he?”

“Depends.”

“On what?”

“On why you want to know.”

“Our current case involves one of those hacking shops. I want to know who has hired them and for what.”

“Without warrants, I suppose?”

“Well. Yes. But, the operation itself is illegal, so….” Steve opened his hands in a ‘what can you do’ sort of gesture.

“He has a soft spot for hackers.”

“I don’t think the hackers are the problem, or, at least, not this problem. It’s the people they’re working for.”

“He’s ready to climb the walls with boredom. He even shaved off his beard just to have something to do. He’ll be happy for a distraction.” She reached over and touched his arm. “But don’t lie to him about what you want or why. You don’t want him to figure that out on his own.”

“Would he?”

“He’s been hacking since he was a little boy, starting with the computers in elementary school. If ass-covering orders and special emergencies are counted, he’s mostly clean these days. If not, well,” she shrugged, “bottom line, he’s never stopped hacking. With any new system, he’s like a cat trying to open a milk bottle. He can’t resist. And he’s single minded about it too, until he’s cracked it.” She caught his eyes, her gaze a warning. “So, yes, once he’s in whatever system you set for him, he will know everything about it before he is done.”

“I can deal with that.” He checked his watch. “How much longer will he be with Shaw?”

She checked her own watch. “They should be almost finished.”

Steve grinned. “Let’s go.”

On the way back to the hospital, a new thought occurred to him. “What would he do, if he discovered I misled him?”

Jo laughed. Rather evilly, Steve thought. “Exercise his own judgment,” she said.

After a blank thirty seconds, Steve shuddered. It wasn’t that Zane had bad judgment, exactly, more like, wildly idiosyncratic and unpredictable judgment. “That’s a terrifying idea,” he said.

“Good.”

Zane was more than willing to do what Steve wanted, the only price was better food than the hospital’s. The nurses were inclined to be disapproving on the grounds that he was too excited, but Zane had already charmed most of them into submission and Steve went to work on the rest. Within three hours, Zane had provided him with all the names and information Five-O needed to break the case wide open. He insisted that he would have done it faster if his left wrist hadn’t been immobilized in a cast, which was probably true. He begged pathetically to keep the laptop, but, mindful of Jo’s disapproving glare, Steve refused. And he didn’t want to feel even a little bit responsible for whatever Zane might do once he was inside the Army’s networks.

By mid-morning the following day Five-O made their first of a half-dozen arrests in a complicated con turned blackmail scheme gone lethal.

Opening beer in his kitchen that night, Steve looked up as Danny breezed in from another visit to Tripler, takeout containers in his hands. Steve had been tracking his visits, and knew that Danny had been going by almost twice a day, just bringing by coffee or food, never staying all that long. “So,” he asked. “How’s it going with Jo?”

Danny was opening the food containers. “Good.” He began serving food onto a plate. “Very good. I think we are on the way to becoming friends.”

“Really?” Steve was skeptical, but willing to be pleased.

Danny made a face, obviously offended that Steve should doubt him. “Yes. Really.” He smiled then. “I like her. She’s good people. Focused. Disciplined. Believes in law enforcement.”

Steve offered him a beer and what he hoped was a winning smile. “What else have you been talking about?”

Danny scooped up his plate, a fork, and his drink and headed for the lanai. “Nothing. Everything. Managing the wild-men in our lives. You know. The usual.”

Steve trailed after him, his own supper in his hands. “Managing?”

Danny plopped down on one of the chairs. Raising his eyebrow, he waved his fork emphatically. “Managing.”

“I’m not sure I like the idea of being managed.”

“Who does? And, yet, here I am. Making friends with two people I was determined to dislike.”

Steve ate in silence for a while. Eventually he risked an, “And?”

“They are actually quite likable.”

“See?” It was impossible not to crow triumphantly. Or as triumphantly as one can crow with a mouthful of food.

Danny pointed his fork at him again. “Is that your ‘I told you so’?”

He swallowed hastily. “No! It is not!”

“Hmmm. Very close to the line, there babe.”

“But not over!”

Steve stopped by to visit Zane later that night, during evening visiting hours, knowing that Jo had gone out to dinner with Catherine and Kono.

He found Zane sitting up in bed and riffling impatiently through a stack of magazines. “How are you feeling?” he asked.

“Battered. And restless. They won’t let me out of bed yet. Or do anything fun in it either.”

“How are the ribs?”

“Surprisingly good. Allison brought me some new ones, along with the heart and the lungs, so it’s really only a few clean breaks that have to knit up.”

“And the new organs?”

“Fine. Not even sore. The doctors here keep testing for rejection, no matter how many times we explain that my body won’t be rejecting my own parts.” He rolled his eyes at the doctors’ skepticism. “My wrist and my leg actually hurt more, right now,” he added.

Steve nodded at the magazine in his lap. “Never took you for a Good Housekeeping kind of guy.”

“I’m reading the warning labels on the pillows I’m so bored. Thank God we go home tomorrow.” His expression turned eager. “Got anything else I can do for you in the meantime?”

“No. Sorry!” He really was. He was actually trying to figure out how to decide, in the future, when a case reached a threshold that calling Zane for help would be worth it. “I’m surprised you’re not back to work.”

“Can’t. The networks here are entirely unsecure, and everything I do is classified or proprietary.”

“So, why not watch TV? I know there are games on ESPN right now.”

“Jo doesn’t trust me with the remotes. She gave them all to the nurses. And took my tablet and my ereader.”

Steve could understand the tablet and the ereader, they were both wifi enabled. But, “The remotes?”

“You can reprogram remotes to mess with computers. It’s fiddly work, and harder one handed,” he held up his cast, “but basic enough.” He smirked. “She thinks I’d just get into trouble.”

“Would you?”

“Yes.”

Steve laughed. “At least you’re an honest felon.”

“As the day is long, Commander.”

“Watching Jo handle Mansfield was eye-opening.”

“She’s good, isn’t she?” Zane beamed with pride. “Really, amazingly good. I got a message from Henry today – we got the funding we needed.”

Unexpectedly curious, Steve asked, “If your positions had been reversed, what would you have wanted?”

“For Jo? From Mansfield?”

“Yeah.

“I’ve read my O. Henry, dude. I’m not going to sell my watch to buy combs for her hair.”

“So?”

“A reserve commission. Commensurate to whatever rank she should have by now, if they’d sent her to officer school like they should have done instead of marooning her in Oregon. Major, probably. Shaw shouldn’t be able to address her as sergeant anymore.” He narrowed his eyes at Steve. “Neither should you.”

Steve conceded the point with a wave of his hand. Zane had obviously given serious thought to it, and he was right. Jo would have made a fine officer. The Army had lost a valuable opportunity by handing her over to the DOD. Someday soon, he was certain, Mansfield would find himself on the wrong side of a deal with Donovan, and he’d be coughing up a long overdue promotion as a result. And officer rank now would undoubtedly make portions of her job easier. But the Army’s loss was not what he wanted to talk about. “Can I ask you something?”

“Sure. What?”

“Was getting the goods back to Mansfield the primary mission? Or the distraction?”

Zane’s lips lifted in a crooked grin, his bright blue eyes twinkling. After a long pause, he said, “You realize I can’t possibly answer that question, right?”

Steve swallowed his own smirk. “Right.”

They left five days after his surgery. Zane was limping from the gash in his leg. He had a cast on his wrist. He was still interesting colors from all the bruising. But Steve and Danny watched him walk onto the small Rockwell Industries jet more or less under his own steam, only leaning a little bit on Jo.


***** end *****

Date: 2013-05-02 05:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sk56.livejournal.com
Wow -- lots of tinkering here. Not knowing either of these shows, I can't say if the characters are true, but they are certainly engaging. There's a certain go for broke quality in all of them that is quite appealing.

I'll have more thoughts later, but on first read through it's a fun, fun ride!

Date: 2013-05-02 12:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nell65.livejournal.com
Yeah - I don't know - even for a fandom quantity of 'know' - any Eureka fen either, so I don't have any check on those characterizations but my own gut. Which likes it, but! lol! I don't have much to go on in terms of how other fen read it.

Ms_Artisan has been my 'check' for H50, and she did catch several things, esp in the first story, that made a huge difference I think.

And I'm so glad you find them all engaging! I certainly do, so I'm glad that comes through. I think that 'go for broke' quality in the characters is what makes the fusion work, even though in most ways the shows are really not operating in the same type of 'verse at all. And most of the other main leads from Eureka don't really have the same vibe, and wouldn't work nearly so well as Zane and Jo in this context. I tried, for example, to imagine a story where for some reason the H50 team arrived in Eureka..... and, ouch, clang, not a good fit at all.

Date: 2013-05-02 10:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sk56.livejournal.com
I have thoughts, but I have to go to the airport and collect Iz!

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