sirona_fics: (steve/danny smiles)
sirona's fics ([personal profile] sirona_fics) wrote2011-07-13 11:34 pm

[Fic] All my heart I will lay down precisely at your feet, Steve/Danny, 1/2

Title: All my heart I will lay down precisely at your feet
Pairing: Steve/Danny
Rating: NC-17
Word count: ~18,200 (9,029 this part)
Warnings: non-fatal gunshot wounds, pining
Summary: Lt Cmdr Steve McGarrett is the leader of SEAL Team Six. When the workers at a foreign embassy are taken hostage, his team is dispatched to neutralise the threat and get the hostages to safety. Steve thinks it's just a routine mission. He doesn't realise that rescuing a certain ex-cop and his daughter is about to change the rest of his life.
Notes: This is my version of a Harlequin novel, basically. Disgustingly romantic, often trope-abusing, writing this was pure indulgence. I claim absolutely no knowledge of SEAL Sekrit Operations, flying a plane, or the practicalities of American embassies or bases in foreign countries. All I learned about that stuff I've learned it off the internet and reading silly romantic novels. Sad, I know. This story is very loosely based on a Harlequin novel I may have read slightly too often before I donated it to Oxfam. Thanks go to [livejournal.com profile] delicatale for hand-holding and much-needed squee, and to [livejournal.com profile] quoththewriter for looking it over. Title from The Bird And The Bee's Love Letter to Japan, which is the theme song for this fic. I would now ask you to suspend disbelief and indulge yourselves in a slightly unrealistic Harlequin Romance, Steve/Danny style.




At least it's not raining, Steve thinks moodily as he stares through the infrared binoculars, which bypass the walls of the neo-classical building like they're not even there. The night has long ticked over into single digits, and body core temperature is easy to read, as if the people inside are standing right in front of him.

Steve reads twelve people alive and one very alive -- whoever they are, they have a fever that's spiked over 99 degrees if he's any judge. They're alone in a room with another person outside the door, so it's probably one of the hostages locked away somewhere so they don't infect the others. Even as he watches another heat signature approaches the guard, holding something mug-shaped and hot. Tea, probably. The guard hesitates, but lets the person inside the room.

Infrared readings won't show colours or features, but blond hair flashes through Steve's mind all the same -- he's pretty sure who the good Samaritan is. He's been flitting up and down the floor all day, stopping to chat with a few select people -- Steve would bet his gun that they're all the employees they've been sent to extract. He could kiss the man, if he didn't think he would get smacked in the face for it. All day long, the man's arms have not stood still. He's one of those people who obviously talk with their hands, the loudmouthed New Yorkers, or Jerseyites.

He's been invaluable for the recon -- they have marked all the targets and possible hostages as well as their locations. A few more hours and his team will be moving in, just as the first glints of dawn lick the edges of the sky. Steve wishes there were some way to warn those people, because he's pretty sure they're going to freak the fuck out as soon as the strike starts, but it's too much of a risk in case some nervous civ gives them away. They'll just have to grin and bear it.

"Moss," Steve says soundlessly into his throat mike. "Status."

"All set, Commander," Moss comes back to him just as quietly. "Awaiting your mark."

"Stand by, wait for the appointed time. Contact Central, confirm extraction procedures."

"Copy that."

Steve lifts the binoculars again, and it's as if they're drawn by a magnet -- they zoom in straight on that corner room on the third floor. The two figures are at the bed now, one lying down and one sitting on the edge. Looks like he's running a hand down the other's arm in comfort. Steve immediately shuts down the tiny nudge in his gut that really doesn't like the idea of the guy getting so close to other people. It's utterly irrational, and he's not even going to entertain the thought.

"Moss to Six, Moss to Six. Extraction procedure confirmed. TOD 0630. Distance to target 1.6 miles South-West, GPS coordinates transmitted to everyone's receiver."

"Copy that, Moss" comes from a few mouths -- the seven other members of Team Six are all situated around the perimeter, with only Moss in central position.

Steve grits his teeth and settles down for the duration.

Sometime later he watches what he's quite certain is one Daniel Williams come out of the sick person's room and shuffle slowly down the corridor. According to his file, Williams is 34 years old, divorced ex-cop, runs security for the Embassy where his ex-wife and her husband, the Ambassador, have been stationed for the past year and a half. Steve thinks--no, he knows there's a story there -- and he has an inkling that it has something to do with the tiny little figure Williams makes a beeline for. Grace Williams, nine years of age, long blonde hair only a couple shades darker than her father's; precocious kid, going by her file.

Steve is dreading breaking in there and scaring her out of her mind, but hopefully her dad will make sure she's settled. Steve suspects Williams will be of some help to them -- once a cop, always a cop, and according to his old Captain up in Newark, Williams was the pride of the department before choosing to follow his daughter rather than his career. The whole precinct was very sorry to see him go, the file said. Steve can't help but find Williams' choices something to be admired.

The figures he's sure are Williams and his daughter curl up in a small armchair, by the two other figures nestled on the nearby settee, which Steve assumes are Mr and Mrs Edwards -- Grace's mother and stepfather. According to their files the divorce had been bitter, but all three parents have been attending therapy in order to get along for Grace's sake. Mrs Edwards' file reports excellent progress, even if Williams' file notes several visits to an anger management therapist a year ago. These files tell a strange little story of a strange little family; sometimes, in his weaker moments just before he tries to catch an hour or two's sleep, Steve wonders what it would be like to be a part of that family, the lives of everyone involved centred on one sweet little girl's happiness. He thinks he might like it.

---

0535 finds them on the move, circling the house in complete silence. Steve has his night vision goggles firmly on, but he's keeping one eye closed behind the lens just in case the goons inside have somehow sensed them, against all odds, and have a surprise waiting for them. Which is pretty fortunate, because when the flash of light comes from the upstairs window, Steve whips his goggles off and is able to see the dark figure outlined against the window frame straight away, while his team are scrambling from that extra second of confusion that can so often prove fatal.

He raises his gun, finger curling around the trigger, when a glint of gold behind the figure peering out into the night stops him in his tracks. Just as the goon opens his mouth to yell out an alarm and raises his gun to shoot, there's a flash of movement behind him and the man folds to the floor with an almost inaudible sigh, unconscious. Williams' sturdy shoulders are tense where he lowers the chair he's used as a weapon; he looks outside, cautiously, and stills when he sees the spread of figures clad in charcoal grey approaching the house. His eyes flit over all of them, and he nods once, pulls the window to and retreats into the room. Steve can almost see him warn the others and herd them into a safe corner.

"Keep moving," he whispers into his mike and retakes the lead, slipping swiftly and efficiently through the side door that Barn Owl has just unlocked and held open, crouching behind it and checking their backs.

They pour into the house like the wrath of god, deathly silent, fanning out immediately to cover the downstairs floor. Steve hears a faint thump and an immediate "One down" is his ear just as he swings towards the back stairs. There's two of his men at his back when he starts climbing, cringing in dread as his careful feet hit a squeaky step that he quickly jumps over. His men follow his every movement, and in seconds he's watching the upper floor over the scope on his gun. He sends his men down the other end while he heads for the room that holds the hostages.

The doorknob on his left starts turning just as he makes to walk past, and he swings to plaster his back to the wall by the door, ready to take out whoever it is with the minimum of fuss. He only sees the dirty army coveralls for a second before he's got him into a headlock, pressing on his windpipe so he can't call out. The man is out like a light, and Steve lowers him carefully to the floor before peeking inside the room, only to find it deserted. He drags the body inside, secures him with a few zipties and tapes his mouth shut before resuming his search.

The way to the last room down the hall is clear, and he turns the handle slowly, plenty of time to warn whoever is on the other end, which by now should just be the group of Embassy employees. He pushes the door open but hangs back, which proves to be the right choice as he feels a swoosh of air where his head would have been just a moment later. He jabs the door sharply, catching whoever is behind it from the pained huff of air they release.

"Hey, hey, it's okay," he whispers into the gap between the door and the wall, and then steps inside the room smartly, catching the next blow aimed at his side. He watches recognition dawn in Williams' eyes, and the man lets go of the chair leg he's been wielding like it's a baseball bat and he knows what he's doing with it.

"Mr Williams, I need you to stay calm. Where are the rest of you?"

Williams eyes him warily at the mention of his name, but tips his head to the side to indicate the far corner behind the door. Steve looks to see all the employees peeking over the pile of furniture they're huddled behind.

"Okay. Nice work there. Just stay where you are for a moment, you're as safe as possible behind that. Mr Williams, a word?" Steve indicates the opposite corner. Williams follows eagerly enough, smoothing a hand over his tie (a tie, really? At this time?) in what seems like a nervous gesture.

"I am Lt. Commander Steve McGarrett, with the US Navy SEALs. My team has been dispatched to get you out of this situation and out of the country. Now, what can you tell me about the other kidnappers?"

Williams looks like he wants to ask all sorts of questions, but keeps the words back by sheer power of will, focusing on Steve's questions for the moment. "There are six men, machine guns, AK-47s from what I could see, though I'm sure they have more weapons on them. I took down one of them," he indicates the small closet in the opposite wall where Steve presumes he stashed the guy after incapacitating him. "So that leaves five."

"Four," Steve tells him, before touching his mike. "Be advised, there are four more hostiles armed with AK-47s and other assorted handguns."

"I see one, taking aim--fuck," Steve hears just before a burst of fire cuts off whatever else Manticore had been about to say. Steve stiffens, thinks about running down to lend assistance, but the hostages are his priority, and there are others down there who can help.

"Two more down, two to go," Manticore says in his ear, and Steve relaxes--until another burst of rapid gunfire makes his jaw feel like he's grinding two boulders together. There's a scratch at the door; he about-turns and pushes Williams behind him so fast he has to blink to clear the momentary dizziness. He hears a whimper from behind the makeshift barricade, but he doesn't have the time to reassure them as he takes careful aim at the door.

There are two short scratches and one long on the wood, and he lowers his gun as the door opens to spit out a disheveled Moss clutching his weapon.

"We're ready to move out, Smooth Dog," Moss says; Steve hears a choking sound behind him. He magnanimously decides to ignore it. Not the time, anyway.

"Right," he says, looking over at the scared hostages with narrowed eyes. "Take the civilians and start smuggling them out, get Barn Owl to clear the way. Okay, you lot." He walks over to them, trying to look reassuring and probably failing. "This is Moss, he is one of my men. He and the others will help get you out of the building before the kidnappers have time to call for reinforcements. We don't know how many this particular terrorist cell holds, so it's in everyone's best interests that we aren't here to find out.

"Here's the plan. We are going to split you up into pairs, and my men and I are going to escort you to the private airport a mile and a half away, where a plane is waiting to take you out of the country. Ambassador, you and your wife will go with Moss and Panther, just in case there's a change in plans -- Moss will be the first to know, he's our comms specialist. Miss Kastor and Miss Frost, you'll go with Manticore and Sequoia, Mr Stuart and Mr Connors will go with Sokol and Lizard, and Mr and Miss Williams will come with myself and Barn Owl. Questions?"

Mrs Edwards straightens from behind the sofa, holding a quiet Grace to her side. "Danny?" she says, and Steve notices how every single eye in the room turns to look at Williams, their trust in him unquestionable.

"Yeah," Williams nods, looking up at Steve. "We should listen to him. Commander McGarrett sounds like he knows what he's doing."

Steve notices how everyone relaxes a little at his title, and at Williams' words, and re-adjusts his perception of the man yet again. He's starting to like the guy.

"Grace, though?" Mrs Edwards says again, a worried note in her voice. The Ambassador puts a steadying hand on her shoulder.

"It's all right, Rachel. She'll be with Danny." The two men share a look.

Rachel nods tightly. "Okay." She crouches down to look Grace in the eye, giving her a smile that's only a little forced. "You hear that, sweetheart? You stick to your Daddy's side, and be a good girl for him, okay?"

Grace nods seriously. She doesn't seem too scared, but she looks up at Williams trustingly anyway. "It'll be okay, Danno," she says, like she's trying to reassure him instead of the other way round.

Steve sees Williams' lips press together in distress for the tiniest moment before he crouches down on her other side. "Of course it's going to be okay, Monkey! Danno's got you, you know that, and Commander McGarrett will have Danno's back, and we'll be back with your Mom and StepStan before you know it!"

Rachel grimaces a little at that, but the Ambassador grins down at the three of them fondly. Steve contends himself with a little twitch of his mouth, the only thing betraying his amusement. If this wasn't such a serious situation, he wouldn't be adverse to spending a little more time with these four--not that he has any right to that whatsoever, he reprimands himself. His smile disappears as he locks himself down tighter. What the hell was that about? he wonders vaguely, checking his weapon to distract himself from thinking about the strange, impulsive need that had come out of nowhere and completely blindsided him.

"All targets down, Smooth Dog. We're ready to move out," Sokol's voice comes in his ear, soft and mellow.

"Copy. Coming out with the hostages now, make sure the perimeter's secure," Steve says back, motioning to Moss to precede him out the door.

He rounds up all the employees and sends them out the door in front of him before Williams stops with a grunt of recognition right in front of him. "Mellows!" is all he has to say before Steve grits his teeth, furious with himself for forgetting.

"How badly hurt is he?" he asks, already detouring to the room with the sick employee.

"He got shot when the attackers first came in, through-and-through at the shoulder, glancing off the collarbone. I've cleaned the wound and bandaged him up, but I think there's still a piece of the bullet inside it and it's gotten infected. He's running a high fever, but I think he'll be able to walk if there was someone supporting him."

"Fuck," Steve spits out quietly, mind already re-writing the escape setup. "Change of plans," he says into his mike. "Barn Owl, you, Manticore, and Lizard are pulled off your pairs. You'll be taking Mr Mellows, who is sick, running a fever and possibly delirious. Conjure a makeshift stretcher out of something, we're going to have to tie him down to it and gag him so he doesn't give us away. Sorry," he tells Williams when he sees him open his mouth. "It's the only way to make sure you're all out safely."

Williams looks like he wants to argue, but knows he can't. "I'm not liking this idea where it's just you and me looking after Grace, okay, I would have felt more comfortable with another person there as back-up, but okay, fine, I can cope with that," he says quietly, squeezing his daughter's hand reassuringly. She looks like she's not listening, too tired to pay attention. Steve sees Williams frown worriedly again before smoothing it away.

"Right, let's get going," Steve says, eager to get them away from the house -- he's still cautious about possible reinforcements the hostiles might have called before his team shut them down.

Manticore thunders past him on the staircase, Sequoya and Barn Owl bringing up the rear. They spare him a nod and then they're gone around the corner.

"Perimeter clear," Sokol says in his ear, and they're off.

Steve takes point, pushing Williams firmly behind him again and not responding to the peeved 'will you stop doing that' he hears at his back. Williams can just shut up and take it; he's not getting hurt on Steve's watch.

They leave the house quickly and silently, Williams keeping a death grip on his daughter's shoulder, steering her to walk between his and Steve's bodies as they reach the street. Steve approves, though he doesn't say so. They pass the first half mile quickly, and Steve is starting to relax just a little; the sun is only now coming up, and the streets are quiet and deserted still. He's daring to think they're going to make it there unscathed when three camouflage-clad figures round the corner just ahead of them. Steve has no idea if they're hostile, but he pushes Williams and his daughter quickly down the nearest side street just in case. His unspoken question is answered when he hears a pop and feels a bullet bury itself into his side, thankfully caught by his tac vest. Not too sharp shooters, then -- one of those could have felled him in the time he'd given them, floundering in the open.

"Damn," Williams swears quietly, eyes fixed to Steve's side. Steve sees him breathe out a relieved huff of air when he realises the same thing as him -- the bullet has dug deep into the tac vest, but has gone no further. "We need back-up," Williams says, biting at his lip.

Steve doesn't state the obvious -- there is no back-up; everyone else is in just as dangerous a situation as them. Though maybe not quite as urgent.

He makes a split-second decision, mind flipping through everything he knows about the man at his side in a fraction of an instant. He's about to break about a hundred rules, official and not so much, but there's no contest between going out three-to-one with hostages in the way, and Williams having his back. Choice made, he reaches down to draw his other gun from its ankle holster, leaving himself with only one other and a couple of knives secreted about his person. He checks the gun's loaded and hands it to Williams, butt-first.

"You're the back-up," he says, looking him in the eye.

"I'm the back-up," Williams grumbles to himself, but takes the gun. He checks it for himself, then looks at Steve again. "How do you know you can trust me with that?" he asks curiously.

'I know you,' Steve wants to say -- but he doesn't know him, not really; the gut instinct that tells him he knows everything he needs to know about the man, from the last two and a half days of watching him defy their captors and take care of his co-workers, is not going to hold up in a court of law.

"I've read your file," he says instead. "I know that you're an ex-cop, and your Captain has a lot of favourable things to say about you. Also, I don't have another choice. You'll have to man up if you want us to come out of this alive."

Williams glares at him, and flicks his eyes down to Grace's tired head. Steve wants to smack himself. He crouches down to look at her--and if ever they don't have the time, it's now, but he just can't not--and tips her weary little face up with a forefinger.

"Hey. It'll be okay, kiddo. Your Dad and me, we're going to kick everyone's behinds so bad they'll be running back to their mommies."

Grace nods a little slow, but gives him a shy smile. When he glances back at Williams, he looks somewhat mollified. "Right, let's do this thing," he says, giving Steve a nod.

Steve shocks himself with the thought that, even with his entire team not too far away, there's still no one he'd rather have at his back than this loud, spiky Jersey export. It unnerves him even as it makes him grin.

"I really don't like that grin. Something tells me bad things happen when that grin comes out," Williams muses, eyeing him consideringly.

"Yeah, they do. To other people," Steve says smugly.

"I'm other people, too," Williams bitches.

Steve just looks at him for a moment, the "you're really not" ringing so loudly through his head that it's a moment before he realises he's said it out loud.

Williams looks at him strangely for a second; then a bullet ricochets off the wall behind them and they both duck, tucking Grace underneath them.

"Williams, you take the left, I'll take the centre," Steve murmurs in Williams' ear.

Williams rolls his eyes. "Call me Danny, for f--fudge's sake," he says, only tripping over his own tongue a little. "You are saving my daughter's life, here."

"Danny," Steve grins. He likes the way the name feels in his mouth.

Danny smiles at him crookedly. "Up and at 'em, soldier," he says, just before he nudges him a little with his shoulder, leans out from behind their hiding place and shoots one of the attackers straight through the head. Steve swallows his reply, and follows his lead.

---

Even in the short time Steve has known him, Danny has not given him the impression that he's particularly fond of swearwords (whether that's because of his daughter or not is another matter). So when he drops one 'fuck' after the other under his breath, Steve knows it's a little bit more serious than the graze he's been trying to pass it off as.

"It's just a--"

"If you say 'it's just a scratch, Danny' one more time, I swear to God, I'm going to smack you so hard you'll have another injury to worry about," Danny snaps, but his hands are gentle where they feel the entry and exit wounds through his left upper arm.

He'd barely felt the sting of it when it happened, he'd been so focused on everyone's position and every single bullet's trajectory. It hadn't been his right arm, so he'd just kept returning fire until all three of what must have been the back-up crew for the kidnappers lay dead on the ground.

Danny's only reaction had been a sharp inhale when Steve had forgotten himself and dripped on his shirt, and he'd had the foresight to tell Grace to face the wall and not turn around for a few minutes.

So Steve almost jumps in surprise when a small hand slips in his and squeezes reassuringly. He turns his head around to look at Grace in wonder.

Danny lets out a worried huff of air. "Grace, I thought I told you not to look."

"But I want to help, Daddy," Grace says seriously. She looks at the bullet hole in Steve's arm and barely even blinks. Steve supposes it's a good thing Danny's already cleaned it, and it's a through-and-through at his bicep, so there's not much bleeding. Still, though.

Danny sighs in defeat. "You are the bravest little girl in the world, and I'm so proud you're my daughter, you know that, right?"

Grace nods gravely; the lightening-flash smile that brightens her face next only enhances the impression.

"Okay. Danno's going to tie his tie around Steve's arm, to stop the bleeding completely. Can you press Steve's shirt down here?" He lifts his hands off the bundle of fabric he'd stripped off Steve and directs her small hands to hold it down. Grace leans her entire body into it, smart kid that she is, and Steve swallows his grunt of pain before it can startle her.

"Who even wears ties in this country?" Steve grumbles while Danny's quick fingers tug said piece of clothing undone. Steve loses a little time at the sight, and he doesn't think it's because of the blood loss.

"Shut up about the tie already. Aren't you glad I am wearing one, like a civilised person?" Danny grumbles, slipping it high around Steve's arm and pulling it tight.

"Don't know if 'glad''s the word I'd use," Steve says, just to be contrary. Then he looks at his watch. "Crap! Sorry, Grace. Forget about the damn bandage, there isn't time. We have to move out now if we want to make it."

"Right," Danny says, ties off the knot and shoots to his feet, turning to help Grace up. "Come on, then."

Steve gets up, too -- or tries to. There's a cramp in his side that he hadn't noticed before, not with the two of them poking away at his arm. He presses a palm to the right side of his waist and pulls it away covered in blood. He pokes at the wound, ignoring the stab of pain -- it's right at the lower edge of his vest, which must have ridden up at just the wrong moment. Probably wasn't the best idea to try and shield Danny with his body; but he'd take another five bullets without a noise of complaint before he lets Danny get shot.

He pushes himself off the ground through sheer stubbornness -- he can make it upright, but there's no way he can maintain the fast pace needed to get to the airport in time for 0630. And he's losing even more time, debating this.

"Danny. Grace. You're going to have to go on without me. You've got less than ten minutes to get on that plane before it takes off without you," he grits out. It's not the ideal solution, sending them out without someone to watch their backs, but it's not far and they can make it; they're quick on their feet and Danny knows the area.

Danny's still got his back to him, so Steve knows he hadn't seen him stagger. "What? What the hell do you mean, we have to go without you?" he snarls, turning around and freezing at the sight of blood trailing over Steve's fingers pressed to the wound. He pushes Grace's face into his side instinctively, because she might not have blinked at the shot wound before, but she's just a kid, a scared kid besides, and she doesn't need to see that.

"What about you?" he asks Steve, expression tense.

"I'll be okay," Steve says, despite the fact that the plane is supposed to be his exit point, too. He's got a back-up plan, though, always does, even though everyone calls him paranoid. "I'll only slow you down, Danny. There's no way you'll make it with me lagging behind," he adds quietly.

Danny's got this incredibly stubborn look on his face; Steve keeps talking in the hope it will get them to goddamn move it, or they'll miss their shot.

"There's a military base not far from here, about fifteen miles south out of the city. I can borrow a plane from there and fly it across the border, where they're US-friendly."

"When you say 'borrow'," Danny notes, voice heavy with sarcasm.

"Look, just get going, Danny! There's no time for this! You and Grace have to get to safety!" He lays as much inflection as he dares on Grace's name, hoping to spur Danny on.

It backfires spectacularly.

"If you're suggesting I don't have my daughter's safety and well-being at the forefront of my mind, you can fuck right off, McGarrett," he growls, baring his teeth. "Pardon my French, Grace," he tacks on at the end, much more gently.

"It's okay, Daddy. C-commander McGarrett is being very silly," Grace says primly, voice only muffled a little by Danny's shirt.

Steve's chest feels about three sizes too small when Grace's determined voice stutters on his title. "Call me Steve, Grace."

"You're still being very silly, Steve," Grace insists. Steve tries not to flush.

The connection crackles in his ear a little with the distance. "Moss to Smooth Dog. The hostages and the rest of the team are at the extraction point. What's your status?"

Steve looks pleadingly at father and daughter. "I can get them to wait a couple of minutes. You might make it if you go now."

Danny looks at him, face set in a stubborn mask eerily similar to that of his daughter. "One," he says--states, really. There's no room for debate in his voice. "Grace and I are never going to make that distance in the next five minutes. I may be fast, but I'm no four-mile runner, and in case you've not paid too much attention to my file, I've a bum knee. Two, I am not happy walking these streets without at least one other person there in case, god forbid, something happens to me and I can't protect her. And three." He stops to swallow, then meets Steve's eyes dead-on. "Three, I'm not leaving you here injured, in the middle of a hostile country, without back-up. Okay?"

"I repeat, what's your status?" Moss barks in his ear again.

Steve can't quite believe how FUBAR the situation has become so quickly. It's the very first time he has ever failed to get his target to the extraction point in time. He grits his teeth and comes clean.

"Smooth Dog to Moss. We were attacked by what I believe was the rest of the terrorist cell. The hostiles have been neutralised, but I have sustained shot wounds and will not make it to the rendezvous point in time. Both Williams and his daughter are unharmed, I repeat, they are unharmed, but are refusing to proceed without escort. Switching to plan B. You take off right now, get out of here. We'll follow as soon as we can."

"Copy that, Smooth Dog. I'll relay the order. We'll see you on the other side. Good luck. Moss out."

"Now you've gone and done it," Steve groans. "Your mom is going to kill me," he tells Grace with a terrified look he's only half-faking.

"She won't be very happy," Grace concedes, looking up to her father for confirmation. Danny winces and nods. "But she'll understand once I explain," she says confidently.

"Will she now," Steve murmurs. Danny shrugs and makes a 'maybe' sign. Steve sighs. Being ganged up on by Williamses -- not an experience he could have ever imagined. He feels oddly touched, and absolutely determined that their faith in him isn't misplaced. "Right. We'd best get moving. First prerogative is obtaining a vehicle."

"What's that mean?" Grace asks, wrinkling her nose.

"He means we need to borrow a car," Danny tells her gently, but he makes a face at Steve over her head. Steve smiles at him innocently. Danny rolls his eyes.

There's absolutely no way they can go back to the Embassy to get one of their cars, so Steve has no other choice but to let Danny bandage him properly before they proceed. Danny rummages in the first aid kit Steve had taken out of the small backpack strapped to his back, finds a roll of dark green gun tape Steve assures him will get the job done. He tears the bloodied T-shirt in two, then tears up one of the scraps in half yet again. He fixes the material to the wound and tapes over it while Grace is back to holding his hand -- but she's facing the wall this time, because the second GSW isn't half as pretty as the first.

"That should stop the bleeding, but god help you if you don't get to a hospital in the next twelve hours," Danny says, wincing. "That is definitely going to get infected; those materials are nothing like sterile. You'll need as many antibiotics as they have on stock."

"It'll do until we can make it over the border," Steve says, flexing his arm and getting up carefully. It's a good dressing -- he gives Danny an approving look. Danny just glares back, though it can't hide the concern in his eyes.

"Right. Let's get mobile," Steve decides, heading for the nearby street. Danny and Grace follow.

It's the work of a minute to hotwire a battered Jeep parked not far off. Steve waves father and daughter in when he drives up to the mouth of the alleyway where they're hiding; the two of them hurry over and jump inside. Steve takes off sharply, navigating the streets by the satellite map of the area he'd made himself memorise when they'd set off on this mission. Danny helps, pointing out shortcuts that Steve had thought dead ends; it was obvious Danny had done his homework while living here, too.

Grace falls asleep with her head on Danny's shoulder not long before they leave the city behind and cut a swath right through the surrounding desert, raising plumes of dirt in their wake. Steve sneaks little glances at Danny every now and then, but even though the man looks exhausted and his hair is hanging limp to the sides of his face, his eyes are narrowed against the glare of the sun and he's casing their front and back incessantly. Steve wants to tell him to relax, that he's got him, it'll be okay, but the truth is his side and arm hurt like a motherfucker, since he doesn't trust himself with painkillers in the middle of a mission, and he's pathetically glad for the reassurance Danny's vigilance offers.

The fifteen miles to the base take about half an hour to cover, and even though it's not yet 7am the heat gets more and more oppressive with every minute. They have no drinking water, and very soon that will become a problem, if they don't manage to surprise the soldiers staffing the base and make off with a plane before they get caught. The border is only 80 miles South of where they are, which will take less than an hour to fly, and then they'll be back on American-friendly soil and he can contact his teammates and get his orders.

The thought of leaving Danny and Grace behind makes him unbearably maudlin, so he shuts it down completely. It's not his job to get attached -- it's his job to get them to safety and wait for his next deployment, and that's exactly what he intends to do. Sooner or later this strange infatuation will go away and he'll be able to breathe properly again.

He'd like to say he's looking forward to it, but the thing is, he'd be a liar if he did. There's just something about this cobbled-together little family, the way they've stuck together through thick and thin, the way Danny has followed his baby girl around the world just to be the father she deserves, that makes something unfamiliar inside him tighten, makes him think about his own father for the first time in months; his sister, too. He muses that when they get out of this thing, he might just spend the medical leave he'll be due visiting home.

He doesn't think about what he'd rather be doing with that time -- he's sure it's the height of bad manners thinking those kinds of thoughts with Danny sitting right there, and his daughter sleeping between them, her leg pressed against Steve's hip in the small space of the Jeep's front seat.

The terrain is starting to look less like desert and more like mountain the further they travel. The first proper cover Steve finds, he swerves to a stop behind and turns off the engine.

"The base is about a half mile past these rocks," he tells Danny, indicating the slight haze in the air not far off. "We'll leave the car here and continue on foot. You're going to have to wake her," he adds regretfully, looking down at Grace.

Danny sighs. "She'll get to sleep some more when we get on the plane," he says, and Steve marvels at how confident he sounds that they'll get out of this thing. Then again, he supposes failure is not an option for Danny, not with his daughter's safety on the line. It's not an option for Steve, either.

Danny shakes Grace's shoulder gently, but she just curls further into his side and hides her head under his arm. "Grace, sweetheart, we have to go. Come on, monkey. Just a little while longer."

Grace opens her eyes grumpily, then seems to remember where they are and her expression changes to wariness. She straightens, looks Danny over, then turns to find Steve with her eyes, giving him the same treatment. He smiles back reassuringly.

"Not long now, kiddo. Let's go," he tells Danny, pushing the door open and sliding out with the minimum movement required. Fuck, but he hates getting shot. It always screws up his speed and concentration.

He's surprised when he feels a hand on his arm and a broad shoulder he can brace against until he finds his bearings. He looks down at Danny, who's assessing him worriedly through narrowed eyes.

"I'll be okay," Steve tells him, pulling himself back together. The damn wound is still bleeding sluggishly; he can feel the weight of the makeshift dressing, and he knows he really cannot afford to wait any longer, or he'd lose too much blood to be efficient.

They set off for the base at a brisk walk, Steve pressing his palm firmly into his side to minimise the jolt that each step causes. They make good time, and it's a quarter past seven when they sneak up to the last little hill by the perimeter fence. Danny and Grace lie as motionless as they can while Steve gets the binoculars out of his backpack and trains them on the low building. The base is still quiet -- apparently not much happens here, so the pace is much slower than it would have been over by the border. Steve focuses his sights on the plane hangar, which is completely motionless. There's a small Cessna A152 airplane out by the back wall, unassuming enough that it must be used for ferrying personnel to and from the base -- which meant its tank would be kept full in case of emergencies. Steve knows the model; he's trained on it, so he's reasonably confident that if they manage to get to it without being spotted, he can fly them out of here easily.

"Okay, here's how we're going to do this. I'm going to cut out a hole in the fence right over there," he indicates the spot by the hangar. "Then I'm going to give you the signal, and you're going to get down there as quickly as you can. Your clothes are light enough to provide some camouflage; if you're fast, you'll be relatively safe. Then we're going to 'borrow' that plane right there, the small white one with the wing supports, so as soon as you're through the fence, I want you to run straight for it, as fast as you can. Questions?"

"No," Danny says, giving a small shake of the head and looking to Grace. "You got the plan, monkey?"

"Yes, Daddy," she says, voice small but determined.

"Good. Watch out for my signal," Steve says, and takes off down the hill at a brisk run.

It makes his side feel like it's burning, but he grits his teeth and doesn't slow down, sights firmly set on the perimeter fence. He makes it down within moments, crouches by a clump of weeds and flicks open his wire cutters. Quickly and efficiently, he cuts out a hole the size of a crouching man, enough so he could hold it out of the way for Danny and Grace to crawl under. He secures the cutters back in his pack and turns on the spot to zero in on the small bump on the top of the hill that are his two charges. He fishes the little flashlight out of the front pocket of his pants, flashes twice, short, quick bursts of light. He spots movement, and moments later father and daughter are jogging down the side of the hill towards him.

The front of Danny's striped white shirt and cream pants is covered in fine sand; Grace's light green dress is faring no better. Both their faces are streaked with sweat and dirt, and Danny's is looking a little pink. Steve feels a stab of worry in his chest -- Danny's been under serious amounts of stress in the past few days. He can only hope there's no history of heart disease in the Williams family. The file hadn't been that thorough.

The two don't waste time reaching him; Steve feels the touch of Danny's hand on his shoulder as he's checking the base for movement again. One of the windows facing in their general direction is steamed from the inside, and Steve assumes people are up and about, and getting ready for the day -- they don't have much time left.

He steps aside and ushers Danny through the fence, Grace after him. He's getting ready to shuffle through when Danny wrenches the flap of wire out of his fingers and holds it away, so the twist won't make his wound bleed even more. He glares at Danny; Danny glares right back and makes a hurry-up motion. Steve gets through with minimum fuss, and the three of them make a break for the Cessna.

They get there a bit slower than Steve had anticipated, but they make it unspotted. Steve jimmies the lock and holds the door steady, still stooped over. Danny lifts Grace in, then steps on one of the wheels and yanks himself inside. He turns immediately, reaching down to help Steve up. Steve's more grateful than he can say; he doubts he would have been able to drag himself up, not with the ache in his side growing more and more vicious and his arm burning from the effort of holding the fence back for Danny and Grace, and then fixing it in place again.

Steve settles in the pilot's seat with a relieved grunt, does a quick check in the instruments -- much less thorough than he would have liked, but they just don't have the time, and the plane only has to hold together for the 80 miles to the border. Luckily, the fuel gauge is indeed levelled on full, just like he'd hoped.

He reaches down, withdraws the double-edged knife from his boot and forces the paneling open, exposing the jumble of wires inside.

"Are you sure you know what you're doing?" Danny asks doubtfully, eyeing the criss-crossing plastic.

"Of course. 'How to wire a plane' 101," Steve says flippantly, and instantly feels ashamed at the thinly veiled look of reproach on Danny's face. "It's okay. I trained on the same model in Annapolis."

He whittles the plastic off the ends of a red and yellow wire, touches them together and the plane's engine comes online with a roar. He twists them quickly together to hold the connection and straightens just in time to see the hangar doors across from them burst open, spitting out soldier after soldier, all in desert camouflage, most in various states of undress. He puts the yoke in neutral, adds full power and the plane lurches forward, slowly gathering speed to the background of yells behind it. They blast past the other planes and take a sharp turn onto the short runway. Danny quickly fastens his and Grace's belts as Steve pulls back on the yoke and the plane's nose wheel peels off the uneven surface. Their acceleration raises plumes of dust behind them, leaving the small group of soldiers bent in half, trying to breathe through it. They get fully airborne just in time to fly right over the perimeter fence, and gather speed and altitude. Soon enough they're up in the clouds, and Steve checks the compass altering their course towards the border, eyes spanning the distance for any pursuit -- but of course, the other planes in the base are far heavier than theirs, and require much longer to warm up and be ready for take-off.

Eventually Danny manages to relax, slumping back against his seat and closing his eyes in relief. Grace is already asleep, lulled by the gentle rocking of the cabin and the thrum of the engine in front of them. Steve's eyes linger on her tired face, aware that all too soon she'll be gone from his life forever, like she never turned his thoughts upside down. He makes an executive decision -- as soon as this thing is over, he's going home. He's not seen his family in far too long, if one kid can make him so wistful. At least little Grace would grow up somewhere safe, in the States where occurrences like the one she's just been through are far thinner on the ground.

And then there's Danny, he thinks, throwing him a glance out of the corner of his eye. Danny's eyes are still closed, face gone slack with exhaustion, lips pouting open, like he's waiting to be kissed. It makes something inside Steve ignite with the need to run his fingers over the stubble on Danny's cheeks, to tip his face up and rub their noses together, to touch his lips to Danny's, gently at first, then firmer, until Danny opens for him, lets him in. It's not something he should be thinking about in the middle of a mission, but they're far above the ground, and for the space of the next half hour before they approach the border, it's a safe bubble in which he can take a scant few minutes to relax.

As if prodded by his thoughts, his side chooses that moment to remind him of its less-than-stellar condition. The overexerted, torn muscles cramp, and he barely manages to bite back the whimper trying to crawl out of his mouth at the pain. His body folds in two without consulting him, but he grits his teeth and straightens again, hoping Danny hadn't noticed -- he doesn't want him to worry about Steve not getting them to safety.

Danny shifts, but doesn't rouse. He's probably dozed off; Steve knows for a fact he hasn't slept more than a couple of hours in the past three days. Every body has a crashing point, and Danny's has just reached it, the second they'd gotten to somewhere relatively defended.

Steve settles down to watching the sky once again.

He makes a slight detour, 10 miles or so, to make sure they cross the border somewhere fairly unnoticeable, although all the instruments would clock them. At least the reaction time will give him a chance to radio in to the US base on the other side, make sure they're not shot out of the sky. His team should have arrived about two hours ago and made arrangements for him, so they'd be expected.

They're five miles away from the border when the airways come alive. There's a burst of static in the headphones he'd donned, followed by instructions in Arabic for the unknown aircraft to turn back immediately. Steve ignores it; the radar shows no projectiles or other aircrafts in the air in a 15 mile radius around them, so he just points the plane's nose to the border and ups their speed. As soon as he's over it, the warnings switch to English, and he's finally free to set things in motion.

"This is Lt Commander Steve McGarrett of the US Navy, ID # 23589. I have on board two American citizens requesting assistance from the US Army. We are heading in to base in a Cessna A152 aircraft, request permission to land."

"Permission granted, Commander. Make a 3.6 degree adjustment on your course and come in from the South; on-ground personnel will guide you in. Base out."

Steve makes the required adjustments and spends the next fifteen minutes before they get close to the base repeating landing protocol in his head. It's been a while since he's done this, and only twice out of training. Danny, who had stirred at the sound of Steve's voice, yawns and rubs the sleep from his bleary eyes before turning to Steve, raising a questioning eyebrow.

"We're almost there," Steve tells him, giving him a small smile.

Instead of reassuring Danny, like he'd meant to, Danny frowns. "You look really pale," he says, looking Steve over quickly and wincing at the dark patch spreading along his side. "Jesus, you need that checked," he adds, reaching as if to do it himself. The shake of Steve's head stops him.

"Not long until we're on the ground, and then I'll get the doctors fussing over me. No need to start now," Steve says. Danny does not look happy, but he sits back, lips pinched in a tight line and eyes still roaming over Steve's face. "Don't worry," Steve tells him, meaning for it to settle Danny down. "I won't pass out before I land the plane."

Danny's eyes flash pure fury, his jaw clenches hard and he opens his mouth -- to yell, Steve assumes, although he's fucked if he knows why this time, but just then the base comes in sight and Steve's whole focus shifts. He watches through narrowed eyes as the runway emerges, a tiny figure waving the landing paddles in a familiar pattern. He hears Danny wake Grace with soft murmurs as Steve decreases their speed and altitude, coming gently in alignment with the landing strip.

He executes a textbook-perfect landing, jarring them only slightly as the wheels make contact with the ground. It's enough for fire to lance down his side again, but they're in, they're safe, he's done it, and he can just see the Ambassador and his wife running closer to meet them. He exhales harshly when the brakes engage and the plane drifts to a stop, slumping against the controls in relief.

"Mommy!" Grace yells at his side, climbing over Danny to get down, the Ambassador's strong arms gathering her out of the door and handing her to her frantic mother.

"You okay, Danny?" the Ambassador asks, holding out a hand to help Danny down, but Danny just gives him a "Yeah, fine," before he's turning to Steve and scooting closer to his seat.

"Hey, buddy. How're you doing--Steve. Hey, Steve! Steve!!"

It's the last thing Steve hears before blackness closes around him.

---


Part Two

Post a comment in response:

From:
Anonymous( )Anonymous This account has disabled anonymous posting.
OpenID( )OpenID You can comment on this post while signed in with an account from many other sites, once you have confirmed your email address. Sign in using OpenID.
User
Account name:
Password:
If you don't have an account you can create one now.
Subject:
HTML doesn't work in the subject.

Message:

 
Notice: This account is set to log the IP addresses of everyone who comments.
Links will be displayed as unclickable URLs to help prevent spam.