Title: Malama Pono
Fandom: Hawaii Five-0
Disclaimer: Nothing you recognize is mine.
Summary: Tag for Episode 2.10. Trust is never easy, and everyone has their limits. Even Superman. Steve's POV.
Author's Note: I wrote this for my good friend lovinjackson. Tara - thank you for giving it a read and encouraging me to post. I'm happy you enjoyed it.
I have only watched a few episodes of H50 (about 4, total, over two seasons), but I wrote this basically because I know she loves this show and that she needed a pick-me-up. It was written quickly and without too great a focus on motivation and meaning. I basically put my mental camera in Steve's head for one sliver of time after the episode ended and imagined what happened from there. Sincere apologies if anyone seems OOC. And because I don't know all the players well enough, I didn't really use them all.
In Hawaiian, Malama pono is used to say, keep doing what you do so well and implies that you are doing that which you were clearly meant to do.
It started with flashes of light.
Just to the sides of his vision. Just enough to pull his focus. Focus he needed. Focus that had kept him in the game.
They were laughing. Everyone laughing with Chin. They were all here. And Chin was getting married. Making a new life with someone. And he was here. In this place.
The flashes brightened, each brilliant flash stabbing pain through his eye into his skull, radiating down his jaw and around his eye where Wo Fat's fists had concentrated. His ears began buzzing, a tinny whine. Like the warning just before a bomb hit.
Steve took a breath and something stabbed him in the side, stealing that breath back. The adrenaline that had carried him from the small room with Jenna's body, through an escape from the bunker, and then out and up into a waiting chopper was swiftly receding, leaving dizziness and nausea in its wake. He tried to breathe through it, fight back the surge of sickness, but his body rebelled, unable, or unwilling, to obey a direct order.
Working to bite back a groan, he closed his eyes, forcing himself not to get sick. Forcing himself back in control. Ignoring the pain. Ignoring the flashes of light. Ignoring the buzzing in his ears, the weight of his body, the way the world started to tilt.
He gripped the gun they'd given him like a lifeline. The gun he'd checked on instinct, chambering a bullet just in case…just in case….
A hand on his shoulder. Joe's voice.
The world wasn't tilting. The chopper was turning.
Swallowing, Steve blinked at the daylight startlingly still around him, searching for the well of strength deep inside that had kept him from blacking out, kept him moving forward through that aborted escape, kept him from roaring with helpless rage as the bullets crashed into her.
Laughter tapered. There were people pressed around him, watching him, watching outside the chopper. Watching for the enemy. Watching.
His people. His family.
"Hey, you're safe." Joe's voice was low, fingers squeezing a little too tight into the flesh of his shoulder.
He nodded. He knew that's what they needed. The eyes on him. They needed him to be okay, to be whole.
He'd been trained to stay whole. To focus on a point beyond the pain, beyond the questions. To not break, no matter what. No matter the slam of curled fists into bone. No matter the smell of his own burning flesh. No matter the heavy pull of muscles.
No matter the death of a friend.
"Hey, there, Superman." Danny's voice. Too close. Not close enough. "You still with us?"
He nodded again, blinking burning eyes, looking out through the opened door of the chopper. He schooled his face, giving nothing away. Had to keep up the front, keep it inside, keep control. But he could still see her eyes. The bruises on her face. Her gasp of knowing just before the bullets slammed into her while he watched, helpless, hanging from a damn chain.
She'd said it wasn't for nothing. She'd traded him for a dead man but it wasn't for nothing. She'd given him escape and then she'd died. She'd looked at him…and she'd died. And he did nothing.
He was falling. He could feel himself slip, feel the world shift. Instinctively, he shoved out a hand, seeking once more to save himself. He had to make it out of this. He had to—
Someone grabbed his hand.
Strong fingers, gripping tight, wrapped around his thumb, anchoring him. He looked at the hand. Pinned his eyes to it until he found his focus once more. Until he could take a shallow breath. Then another. And another.
"That's it, soldier." Joe's voice was gruff and soft. So much like his father's. "You made it. You're going home."
Steve let his eyes move up the arm clasped to his and saw Chin's stoic face, the man's eyes the only sign of worry. He nodded a third time, but didn't let go. If he let go, he'd fall.
"Frank," Danny called from somewhere to his right. "How long?"
"Fifteen," a voice called back.
"I radioed Kono." That was Lori, he knew. "She's on her way to the airstrip."
"Can we take off right away?" Chin's voice sounded thin.
The air around him was getting thin. Voices slipping through it like fading radio signals.
"We're getting him some help." Danny was insistent.
"Too dangerous. We get to the plane, unload the cargo, get the hell outta Dodge."
"Joe, he can't—"
"'M okay," he broke in, surprised that his voice obeyed him. The words were flying around him, blurring together. He needed to cut through them. Keep them in order. He didn't need help. He just needed to get out of here.
"Steve, you're not okay."
It was too hard to talk. To breathe. He couldn't keep it in order, keep control, if he couldn't breathe. "Just go. Get…get the hell out…of here."
"God dammit." Danny's curse was low, whispered, angry in a way that told everyone who heard it that he was more than just helpless – he was helpless and scared.
"Just go," Steve repeated.
As if taking his words as a directive, Chin slowly lowered his arm, releasing his hand. Someone else took the gun from his hands; he let them. He couldn't see straight enough to shoot; he'd just put them in danger. He looked out through the open chopper door, breathing, watching the land pass in a deep green blur. He'd trusted her. Believed her. She'd asked him for help, asked him to trust her, and he'd known what he had to do; helping her had been his only option. But he'd been wrong. And now they were all here.
She'd said she was sorry. And they'd pulled him into that room. Hung him on a hook. Tried to break him. And it almost worked. They'd almost won. Not in the room. Not with the fists pummeling him like a heavy bag. Not with the cattle prod turning his world inside out. Not even when he'd closed her eyes.
In the back of that truck. Tied up. In the dark. Mission failed, body beaten, hope a distant, empty word. That was when he felt himself cracking, felt the tremble of his own heart, felt doubt work on him harder than Wo Fat's fists.
And then the world blew up around him, shaking him. The world was shaking.
"Okay, easy, Steve, hey…hey, now…."
The world wouldn't stop shaking.
"Dammit, I was afraid of this." Joe's voice. Near him. Above him. Around him.
Where was Danny? He couldn't see clearly. Everything was a smudge, a blur of motion and sound. But he knew Danny had been there. Suddenly, impossibly there. Telling him to shut up would ya? Untying him. Moving him.
He hadn't hurt when Danny and Chin pulled him from that truck. His legs had buckled, but there'd been no pain. Not even when they lifted his heavy arms over their shoulders. Not even when they'd moved him through the jungle – not stopping to search for Wo Fat, not making sure the bastard was dead.
But then they stopped moving. They'd lifted him into the chopper and there was no more beating, no more breaking, no more running. He was safe. And now he hurt.
God he hurt.
It washed over him, waves of agony burning through him, lighting his blood on fire, then chilling him until he shook from it. He just wanted to get warm but he was so hot. So hot.
"Danny, get over here. Need to lay him down. Get his feet above his heart."
"What's going on?"
"He's going into shock."
"Hey, hey Steve. Steve. Hey, need you to open your eyes there, Rambo."
His eyes were closed. He didn't remember closing his eyes. He remembered looking out the window. He remembered closing her eyes. Had someone closed his eyes?
"Steve. C'mon, buddy." There were hands on his face. Danny's voice. Close. Closer than before. Where was Joe?
"He's right here, man," Danny said. Steve hadn't realized he'd spoken out loud. "Listen, stay with me, okay? Need you to stay with me just a little longer. C'mon, you telling me you're gonna let a little Wo Fat roughhousing beat ya?"
He opened his eyes, saw his partner's face hovering above him, lined with worry. Something was covering his chest and arms. A jacket. They'd put a jacket over him and he was shaking beneath it. Shivering. So hot that he was shivering. That didn't make sense.
He turned his head, trying to see Danny clearly.
"There you go. Show me those baby blues, that's it."
His head rested on Danny's leg. Someone else held his feet. He blinked, opening his eyes wide. He could do this; he got out of that room. But he hadn't done it alone. She'd helped him, and he'd done nothing to save her.
He had to tell Danny. It was going to hurt. "Jenna—" His breath caught in his chest, trapped. Choking him.
"It's okay, man. I know."
Danny knew. He must have been there. Seen her. "Bring…bring her home."
Danny frowned, looking away briefly, at someone else then back at him. "Need to get you home, Steve."
He shook his head, reaching up. His hand was shaking. He could see it – dirty, blood-smeared, and shaking. He grabbed Danny's shirt. "She…Danny, she…because of me…."
He couldn't make his voice obey, couldn't get his lips to work. But he needed to tell him. Tell him…God, it was so hard to think.
"No, man," Danny shook his head. "She made her own choices."
Another wave of heat chased by bone-aching cold rolled through him and he closed his eyes against it, unable to suppress a groan. He heard it. Felt it. Hated it. He'd yelled helplessly when the burn of the cattle prod seared his skin. But he hadn't cried out when Wo Fat turned loose on him with relentless fury. He hadn't given him the satisfaction.
But that was then. That was before.
"Okay, need to keep him warm." Joe sounded angry. "Frank, push it, man."
"I'm giving it all she's got," a voice – Frank? – called back. "Tangerine's just an old bird, man."
"Danny, keep him talking," Joe ordered. "We've got supplies back at the plane."
"Right. For our humanitarian mission," Danny shot back, his voice going hard and tight like it did when he was pissed off. "Fuck the plane, Joe. Let's get to a goddamn hospital!"
"Williams, we're in North fucking Korea," a new voice, one he couldn't place, shot back. "You take a US SEAL into a North Korean hospital looking like that, you don't just walk back out."
"He's not a SEAL anymore," Danny snapped. "He's my partner. And I'll be damned if I'm gonna let him die on some cargo plane to nowhere."
"We're not going to let him die—"
"Danno," he broke in, hearing the weak sound of his rasp, curling his fingers tighter into Danny's shirt. He needed Danny to listen. He blinked, trying to bring the hazy world into focus, trying to fight back the flashes of light that cut furrows through his skull and laid tracks of pain.
"Hey," Danny looked down, closing a fist over his hand. "You with me, man?"
Steve nodded slowly. "Sh-shouldn't have come."
The world tilted again and he felt his stomach pitch as the chopper found a new altitude.
"What, like we were going to let you have all the fun?"
He knew Danny's M.O. Knew he'd deflect focus, turn on sarcasm. Knew he'd rather rant relentlessly than admit he was scared.
"Dangerous," he forced out, air suddenly a limited resource.
"Hell, yeah, it was dangerous. Think I said that before you left. Oh, wait, yeah, I didsay that before you left." He heard Danny sigh loudly. A hand rested gently on Steve's head, the pain subsiding briefly at the contact. "I owe you the biggest I told you so."
Steve tried to nod once more, knowing that was what Danny expected, needing to reassure his partner, but instead he closed his eyes. There was something slipping loose inside of him. He could feel it. It was a sensation not unlike jumping from a high-dive. He felt weightless. His fingers lost their grip and he let his hand fall, thinking for a moment it might actually float in mid-air. He could feel Danny moving, feel his hands, feel his tension.
His partner's voice was a smear of sound against ears buzzing with the ferocity of the lights that flashed at the corners of what he once thought of as vision and he wasn't breaking he wasn't breaking he was just surrendering…and then there was darkness.
In the dark, the pain receded. In the dark, images came at him. Wo Fat's dark eyes, thin mouth, fist. Jenna's chin as it trembled, her hand chained to the wall. A small gold hook, slipping across the floor to him.
It wasn't for nothing.
He'd trusted her. He'd trusted too much. Too many. It wasn't their fault. He couldn't lay the blame of humanity on them just because lost trust hurt like someone ripping his heart out. Kono. Chin. Jenna. Trust was risking the pain.
But now there was no pain. No noise, no flashes of light. Just darkness. Peace...
...and pressure. Pressure on his chest, on his heart, on the bruises traveling his torso. Pressure of a mouth on his. Pressure of air forced down his throat into stagnant lungs.
Pressure of a silent demand, a shout in his head to breathe…breathe, dammit, do it now you son of a bitch, you do not do this, Steve, you hear me, you take a breath McGarrett right the hell now or I swear to God I'll—
He gasped, the pain of it shocking his eyes open. He coughed, instinctively wrapping his arm around his middle as his body turned into a jigsaw puzzle of hurt. A hand rubbed the top of his head.
"There you go, that's it. I knew you could do it."
Danny was at his head, someone else at his side, hands still resting on his chest. They weren't moving. No one was moving.
"Wh-what happened?" Steve blinked, trying to figure out where they were, why they weren't moving.
"You trying to ring out on me, soldier?" Joe demanded, his face coming into view, eyes angry, face tight.
"No sir," he gasped instinctively, still trying to hold his body together.
"Goddamn right you're not." Joe looked up. "Let's get that fuckin' plane unloaded!" Looking over, he directed the next to Danny. "You do not leave him, you get me?"
"Yessir," Danny replied, his tone at once sarcastic and obedient.
"Where…?" Steve couldn't quite complete the thought. Something was off, something was wrong, but he couldn't connect the wires, couldn't spark understanding to life.
"We're at the airstrip," Danny told him, one hand still on his head – which was once more resting on Danny's leg – the other gripping one of his hands, thumb to thumb, tight. "You scared me to death, man."
"S-sorry," he offered, wanting nothing more than that darkness. A darkness with no pain. He suddenly shook as if struck, seeing Jenna lying still, arm hanging by the cuff, chest bloody, eyes staring at nothing. "She's dead because of me."
Danny tightened his grip. "Cut that shit out. Right now."
"Just wanted…," he swallowed, closing his eyes. Danny tapped his cheek and he opened them again. "She just wanted Josh."
Danny looked down, a tired, spent sigh leaking out through parted lips. "Listen to me. You listening?"
"Good, 'cause I won't say this again. Jenna saved my life. And I'm sorry she's dead. I am. I owed her." Danny gripped his chin gently, forcing his eyes front, pinning him with an uncharacteristically serious expression. "But you repaid that debt when you became her ransom. You hear me? She made her choice. And she did her best to save you when she realized her mistake."
"Wh-what…do you mean…?"
"She called us, Steve. She knew her plan went sideways, knew Wo Fat was gonna kill you. She's the reason we found you in time. You paid my debt. She paid hers."
Steve looked away, the truth in Danny's eyes too bright to see for a moment. The movement off to the side of the chopper was blurred, people in action, voices calling to one another, shouts and orders and the sound of machines. There was too much happening around him, because of him. Too much he wasn't doing. Too much he'd already done.
His eyes heavy, Steve stopped fighting, letting them fall closed and focused on the feeling of Danny's hand on his chest, concentrating on keeping that hand moving up and down. Up and down. The world around him shifted, the air smelled different, the darkness behind his closed lids turned grey, then black. And he breathed.
Up and down.
"…need to get him some antibiotics…burns are pretty bad, worried about infection…."
Up and down.
"…not sure about pain meds…could end up with more trouble breathing…."
Up and down.
"…give him something, look at him…can't make this flight with no meds."
"…looks like a side of beef…broken ribs?"
"Wouldn't be surprised. If not before, they are after Jacks worked on him."
Up and down.
"Finish cleaning those cuts on his face and hands. We'll be taking off in five."
"Hey, I think he's coming around."
He opened his eyes. His shoulders were on fire. And his wrists burned. That was new. He'd almost forgotten that he'd hung from his wrists for hours. The inside of his mouth was torn from where his cheek had cut against his teeth. His jaw throbbed. His head ached. And someone was stabbing him in the arm.
"Whoa, whoa, easy."
Jacks. He remembered now.
"Just something for the pain, man."
Someone lifted his head slightly. A bottle of water was rested against his swollen lip and he drank greedily. He felt the water roll through him, reaching the parched edges of his battered body. His head was lowered and he took a hesitant, shallow breath.
Something cool was pressed against his face. He looked over. Kono.
"Hey, boss," she said quietly. She dabbed carefully at a cut on his brow. "You're gonna be okay."
"You're here?" he asked, the words catching in his throat.
She smiled, her tired eyes turning up at the corners in that way they had that always made him want to look at her longer. "Yeah, I'm here. We're all here."
He slid his eyes around the inside of the cargo hold. Chin, Danny, Joe, Lori, Gutches…. They were sitting or standing around the cargo hold, strapping themselves in, talking to each other, looking at him. They were all there.
"Why?" He'd trusted the wrong person. He'd risked everything for the wrong reasons.
Kono slid a cool hand through his hair, drawing his attention back to her. "We came for you."
He felt his chest hitch, the pain choking him into silence. She smiled at him again, then looked up as a hand touched her shoulder.
"Go strap in."
Danny. He looked up. Danny was watching him.
"What about you?" Kono asked.
"I'm staying with him," Danny told her.
Joe spoke up from behind Danny. "Williams, it's safer if you—"
"Eh," Danny quieted the man with a sound. "Said I'm staying with him."
Kono moved slightly to the side, strapping herself in, but keeping her eyes on him. He looked over and saw Danny doing the same thing, right next to him.
"You're not going anywhere, don't worry," Danny told him. "Joe's got you secured to the stretcher. Might be a bumpy on those ribs, though."
He looked down at himself and saw that he was, indeed, strapped to a stretcher which was secured to the cargo netting along the walls. Blankets were wrapped around him, and his feet were bandaged. Whatever Jacks had given him was settling through his damaged system like honey, turning everything numb.
"I'm sorry," he said quietly.
"Oh, you're sorry, huh?" Danny tipped his head, his eyes alight with an undefined emotion. "For not listening to me? Or for getting yourself turned into an extra in a Van Damme movie? Or maybe for dragging us half way across the world into a war zone to get your stupid, sorry, heroic ass out of there?"
He looked at his partner. "The last one."
Danny shook his head. "Steve—"
"You have a kid." He swallowed. "Chin's getting married."
"Oh, you remember that, do you? Damn. I was planning to put my bid in for best man."
He couldn't release the grip of guilt that crushed him as painfully as his bruised ribs. "I could have gotten you all killed…for nothing."
It wasn't for nothing.
"We're partners, Steven. This isn't a debate."
He felt Danny's hand on his chest once more as the plane began to vibrate, powering down the runway. He focused on moving that hand, making it rise and fall. Remembering to breathe.
"I couldn't save her." And there it was. The confession burned his throat, stung his eyes.
"No," Danny said simply. "No, you couldn't."
"What if—" He wasn't able to finish the sentence. What if one of them had gotten hurt trying to save him? What if he'd lost one of them because he'd taken a risk? "What if you…trusted the wrong person?"
Danny frowned. "You mean Jenna?"
"You're not the wrong person," Kono said from across the rattling plane, drawing the team's eyes. His face burned at her words. He felt the weight of Danny's hand, felt his chest move. Kono looked at him, saw him, saw right through him. "We trust you because of what you did."
"I could have gotten you killed." The tremble in his voice turned him cold. He couldn't allow it to break him now. Not now.
"You could have died, too, you know," Kono pointed out. "But you didn't. Because you're a fighter. Because you fight for what you believe in. For who you believe in. Because you don't back down. You don't walk away. You don't give in."
"Yeah," Danny said, rubbing his chest lightly. "What she said."
"Malama pono, Steve," Kono told him. "We'll always come for you. Because you trusted her enough to try to save her."
She smiled at him then and he felt his lips tug up in an answer, his eyes sliding down the row of people watching him. His people. His family.
"Thank you," he said roughly.
"We'll try to bring Jenna home," Danny said. "Somehow. We'll get her out of there."
He swallowed, nodding, knowing it was an impossible promise. It wasn't for nothing.
"She's not there anymore," he told his partner. "Not really."
Closing his eyes he focused on Danny's hand, knowing another fight was waiting for them the moment they landed and that surviving was only the first step on a long and painful road. He could focus beyond the pain for only so long. And when the pain crossed the threshold of his focus…
"Just breathe, man. We've got you."
…he trusted that they would be there to catch him.
a/n: Thanks for reading!I hope for you dedicated H50 fans this wasn't too much of a struggle to read.
If you follow my LiveJournal, you know that this story was written while I was on a fanfic 'hiatus' so that I could concentrate on NaNoWriMo. Like sneaking candy during a diet. But now that November is over, and I've done what I can do with NaNoWriMo, I'll be returning to my first and true love, Supernatural, and several stories that are planned will be coming to life.