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do i dare or do i dare? [userpic]

H50/Chaos fic: Interagency Cooperation 2/7

April 19th, 2012 (06:50 am)
enthralled

feeling: enthralled

PART ONE
PART TWO
PART THREE
PART FOUR
PART FIVE
PART SIX
PART SEVEN



PART TWO

It’s Danny who suggests that they head back to HQ.

It’s funny, thinking of Danny as the diplomatic one, but Steve knows it’s true. Danny suggests they go back to HQ; Steve threatens to handcuff them together and drag them all back in Danny’s Camaro if they don’t come willingly.

Fortunately, the four men seem ready to cooperate, although there’s more than some hesitation and wariness involved. They may be all smiles and helpfulness, but Steve can sense the deeper reservations within them.

And really, though they look innocuous enough, Steve’s seen them in action. Part of him actually wonders if he could force all four them to follow against their will if he tried.

It’d be an interesting gamble, to say the least, but one that these four men don’t seem interested in taking.

In fact, they don’t seem interested in the action at all. They all have to stay on scene to monitor the gang members until HPD shows up for arrests and processing. Normally, Steve might take a more active role in all of this, try to ask some questions, glean some intel, but these lackeys aren’t stupid enough to roll on their bosses. Not yet, anyway. The stakes aren’t very high, and Steve has better things to do than waste time talking in circles.

Still, eight less gang members is eight less gang members, even if it isn’t a victory he can claim solely by himself.

As it is, their new friends seem almost too ready to acquiesce. Steve almost insists on splitting them up, but the leader amongst them smiles and promises to follow Danny in.

It’s just all too easy. Just like it’s all too convenient. Four CIA operatives, showing up to save their asses and provide insight into their case. The simplicity of it puts Steve on edge more than anything else and he finds himself watching their rental car in the rearview mirror the entire way in.

“You know,” Danny says from the driver’s seat, “you’re awfully suspicious of four guys who just saved your life.”

Steve straightens, looking at Danny with a frown. “I’m not being suspicious.”

Danny gives him a look.

Steve sighs, rolling his eyes. “Well, not unnecessarily,” he says. Then he shakes his head. “And besides, since when are you a fan of the CIA?”

“You mean, when do I appreciate people willing to give up their life and limb to protect me from terrorists overseas?” Danny asks. He shrugs facetiously. “Gee, hard to say. I grew into it over time, like when I had my daughter and decided I wanted her to be safe in her homeland.”

“Yeah, but they’re not exactly by the book,” he says. “Doesn’t the anal retentive cop in you get bothered by all that black ops stuff?”

Danny lifts a hand, pointing his finger at Steve. “I get bothered by black ops being performed by people who are not black ops,” he says. “I get bothered by the absence of due process when it might cost me a case. You have to work within the system you’re in, Steven. Within the system you’re in.” Danny draws circles in the air with his finger, as if to prove his point.

“The governor gave me full immunity and means,” Steve reminds him, unable to hide the twinge of petulance in his voice.

“That means you can bend the rules,” Danny says. “Everyone bends the rules. But you don’t bend the rules. You conveniently obliterate them. For fun.”

“I do what needs to be done,” he says. “I look at a case and see the best possible way of achieving it.”

Danny raises his eyebrows. “And that’s what we were doing tonight? While we were getting pounded by eight armed gang members? We were achieving in the best possible way</i>?”

Steve can’t deny that Danny has a point. That doesn’t mean that he’s ready to admit it, either. “So, wait, you’re okay with four CIA agents butting in on our case?” Steve asks. “A case they can’t even legally be working on because they have no jurisdiction?”

“No,” Danny clarifies. “I’m okay with four CIA agents showing up to save our lives and possible giving us intel that would otherwise take us multiple days and countless perilous situations to ascertain.”

“But you always yell at me for breaking the rules,” Steve says, and if it’s a slight whine now, it’s because his pride has been tampered and his case feels like it is still only just tenuously his.

“And you always tell me that I take things too seriously,” Danny counters. “So, really, why are you so skeptical of people who seem to be operating just like you?”

Steve frowns at that, sitting back in his seat.

“Oh,” Danny says, realization dawning. “I get it now.”

Steve shakes his head. “You don’t get anything.”

Danny nods readily, his eyes bright with amusement. “You don’t like them because they’re just like you,” he says. “Because they beat you at your own game.”

Steve huffs, shaking his head.

“No, no, no,” Danny says. “It makes sense. They broke the rules better than you. And you don’t know how to deal with it.”

“That’s not true,” Steve says, insisting now.

Danny looks at him.

Steve frowns. “Mostly.”

Danny slams his hand on the wheel. “Ha!” he says. “Steve McGarrett doesn’t just want to be a superhero, he wants to be the only superhero.”

It’s annoying to see Danny gloating. Steve sits up straighter. “No, I just don’t know if I can trust them,” he says. “They may have saved our lives, but they haven’t exactly been forthcoming. This is still our case, and I don’t like all these loose variables running around.”

Danny snorts.

Steve glares.

Danny holds up his hand innocently. “It’s just funny to hear you, of all people say that.”

“I just want to make sure that this is all done correctly,” Steve says, emphatically now.

Danny inclines his head. “And now my friend, welcome to my world.”

Sullen, Steve looks in the rearview mirror and wishes he had a counter-argument.

-o-

“I still don’t see why we’re actually going back with them,” Casey says, and it’s not the first time in the short car ride that he’s voice this concern.

Rick is sitting tense in the backseat next to him. It’s a little ironic to him; of all the missions he’s been on, he’s never been as nervous as he is now. There is no impending death or peril, but the thought of his name appearing in a newspaper article outing his cover is almost more than he can take.

“Well, they did ask so nicely,” Billy says from his spot behind the wheel.

That’s a typically colorful description that grossly exaggerates the reality. The statement had technically been a request, but given the posturing and the glowering, Rick had had no delusions that any resistance from the ODS would have been met with undue force.

And Rick isn’t scared of a fight, but he is scared of assaulting an officer of the law while investigating a case he has no jurisdiction all before he celebrates his six month mark with the agency.

There’s a reason why Higgins had been so capable of coercing him into taking a position to infiltrate the ODS. Rick wanted to be a spy. He still wants to be a spy. Even if he doesn’t always understand the eccentricities of his team or the non-traditional methods in their missions, Rick values this line of work. He values what he does.

So how he ended up in Hawaii, defending cops who didn’t trust him, with his entire career on the line while his team bickers about the details is still a little mind-boggling to him.

“They didn’t even say thank you,” Casey continues in true annoyance. “Local law enforcement against eight armed Japanese gang members and they didn’t even say thank you.”

Billy nods. “I will admit, a little gratitude would have gone a long way to assuaging any uncertainties between us.”

Michael is nonchalant next to Billy. He shakes his head slightly. “There are no uncertainties between us.”

“Speak for yourself,” Casey gripes. “They are woefully uninformed and under-prepared for this case and don’t have the decency to at least recognize how fortunate they are for our presence.”

“I think they handled themselves rather well,” Billy says easily.

“They were going to be killed,” Casey says bluntly.

“But for eight on two,” Billy continues shrugging.

“Their stupidity doesn’t justify their courage,” Casey replies.

“So says the human weapon,” Billy says, turning the wheel to keep a comfortable following distance.

It’s almost inane. No, actually, it is inane, and Rick shakes his head. “What about the fact that they made us as CIA?” he interjects with more force than he intends. “I told you this mission was a bad idea from the minute we booked a hotel in Hawaii.”

No one says anything.

“Which is in the United States,” Rick clarifies, in case that salient detail has managed to slip their minds.

“I do appreciate the geography lesson,” Billy says, glancing back at Rick in the mirror. “Though they did make sure I knew the names and capitals of all fifty states before granting me employment at the most illustrious spy agency in the world.”

This just makes Rick want to pound his head on the window. “But they could ruin our careers!”

This, of course, doesn’t seem to make much impression on any of them.

“Is that really what you’re concerned about?” Casey asks.

Rick gestures wildly. “Yes!”

Casey looks perturbed; Billy seems to be holding back a laugh.

Michael just sighs. “They’re not going to out us,” he says. “And it doesn’t matter if they’re showing their gratitude to us.”

“So there is a reason why we’re subjecting ourselves to this local dalliance?” Casey asks.

“Of course,” Michael says. “Because Rick’s right.”

Rick’s about to protest when he realizes what Michael has said.

Even Casey and Billy seem to stop, staring at Michael.

Billy frowns. “Are you sure you didn’t get that backwards?” he asks.

“Or possibly have some kind of mental blockage that led to temporary impairment of thought?” Casey asks.

Rick is practically gaping.

Michael shakes his head. “No, Rick’s right,” he reiterates. “This is our mission but it’s gone a direction we have no jurisdiction over. We can get more done more quickly if we go through local channels. This way we can accomplish our mission without worrying about compromising the agency or our tentative balance with Higgins.”

It’s shockingly rational. Which is why Rick doesn’t even know what to make of it.

“So they’re a means to an end,” Billy says, nodding in understanding. “Very clever. Circumventing the system by using the system.”

“So this means we actually have to listen to them?” Casey asks, clearly annoyed.

“Just to get the mission complete,” Michael says. “We’ve handled trained assassins and world class criminals. Surely a handful of local cops can’t cause us any trouble.”

This seems to satisfy Casey and even Billy seems to relax a bit more behind the wheel.

Michael looks at Rick, eyebrows raised. “Is that okay with you, Martinez?”

Rick closes his mouth a little and laughs. “Yeah,” he says, and for the first time since this mission began – since this career began – Rick actually means it. “I think it is.”

-o-

It’s Steve’s first instinct to take the four men to interrogation. It would, of course, be overkill, but Steve doesn’t particularly like being in a position where he can’t evoke fear and unease if he wants to.

And even if these guys are CIA, and even if they are actually on Steve’s side, he still sort of wants that option as a last resort.

Or even a second resort, depending on how things go.

But since they had been helpful – and Steve isn’t saying they saved his life, no matter what Danny tries to insist – and since Danny seems inclined not to treat them like suspects, Steve settles for a meeting in the conference room.

Still, Steve stands across the table from them, arms crossed as he puffs his chest out, eyeing them each carefully.

They look even less impressive here than they had back in the alley. The leader is easy to identify from his forward positioning alone, but his nondescript jeans and t-shirt give nothing else away of his personality. His face is guarded, but the keenness in his eyes is something Steve could recognize – might have even appreciated, if the circumstances were different. Because this man takes his responsibilities seriously. The men with him are his primary concern, even above the mission, and Steve knows that’s something he can count on – for better or worse.

The shortest one is clearly the least happy to be here. His shoulders are tense, even if slouched, and as Steve looks at him, the man plainly stares back, almost daring Steve to say something. He’s wearing khaki shorts with a plain t-shirt tucked in, a strange mix of casual and formal. He’s got on Birkenstocks, but he’s wearing socks with them.

The tallest one is by far the least stressed. His clothes are rumpled and his posture relaxed. Everything about him exudes nonchalance, and if Steve hadn’t seen him in action back in that alley, he would have pegged this one as a nonentity in the field, too concerned with trivialities to be effective. But he had been effective, and Steve has to wonder if some of the casual demeanor is a facade.

The youngest is easy to make as the newest, too. He is, by all appearances, competent, but no matter how hard he tries, the kid can’t quite erase the scared rabbit look from his eyes. This is a salient detail for Steve. While the rest want to appear cool and in control, this one makes it apparent that Steve still has power in this situation – and more than his share of cards to play when the time comes.

“So,” Danny says, rubbing his hands together. “Now that we’ve got that awkward life and death part out of the way, maybe we should start by actually introducing ourselves.”

The four men shift slightly.

“Okay,” Danny says. “Clearly, we’re all more chatty after beating bad guys to a pulp. Sadly, I no longer have any bad guys left for you to beat, so we’ll have to settle for words. We’ll keep it easy, though. Name, employer, interest in this case – you know, the basics.”

There is another lull in the conversation and Steve’s eyes narrowed.

The leader looks back with easy eye contract, mostly nonplussed. But then he seems to shrug slightly before nodding. “Michael Dorset,” he says. “As you guessed back in the alley, I work for the CIA.”

The admission comes easier than Steve expects. It’s so forward that he doesn’t know whether to congratulate himself for his effective tactics or be suspicious.

The tallest one perks up with a smile. “Billy Collins,” he says, and Steve makes note of his accent now – definitely Scottish. “Also a proud member of this country’s great house of spies.”

The shortest one rolls his eyes. “Casey Malick,” he says, and then nods toward Billy. “And unfortunately, I’m with stupid.”

Everyone looks at the last one, and he swallows convulsively. It seems to go against his instincts, but he resigns himself to speaking. “Rick Martinez.”

He neither confirms or denies that he’s CIA; another possibly useful fact for later, Steve thinks.

“Great, CIA,” Danny says, rocking back on his heels a bit. “So I know we overlooked this detail back in the alley, but it kind of does seem relevant now. What are four CIA agents doing investigating a case in the United States? You know, where it’s illegal for you to work?”

It’s to the point, and for that, Steve is grateful. Still, he can’t stop himself from adding, “And what do you know about our case?”

Michael inclines his head. “We know that you don’t really have much of a case for the time being,” he says.

It’s blunt, which Steve might prefer under most circumstances, if it weren’t also true.

Danny just frowns, a bit mockingly. “Well, then, why don’t you enlighten us,” he suggests.

It’s an invitation that Michael clearly accepts. “You have inklings that Ito is up to no good here in the States,” he says. “I’m not sure what you’ve got him linked to, but all you have are suspicions for right now.”

“And while trying to put together a case,” Casey continues without missing a beat, “you foolishly decided to provoke him for information to compensate for how late you were getting your intel.”

“A move which has mostly succeeded in making him angry,” Billy adds with a knowing nod.

“And ultimately gets you no closer to what you want,” Michael picks up with ease.

“It’s not that we don’t appreciate kicking over rocks to see what squirms,” Casey adds.

“But it’s so much easier just wait next to the rock you know is harboring all sorts of ill and catch the vermin when they come out on their own,” Billy says in a friendly singsong.

They’re right, to some extent. It would be easier if they knew what Ito was up to, but Steve is used to flying by the seat of his pants and most of the time, he can pull it off.

Although, he can’t deny that they’ve been cutting this one kind of close.

“Okay,” Danny says diplomatically. He lifts a hand in thought. “Your point is, of course, taken. But that’s police work. We don’t have access to super spy intelligence. Steve here is a super-SEAL, but he’s still just human.”

Michael looks vaguely amused, and Steve finds himself scowling despite his better reservations. “And that’s where we can help you,” Michael explains. “Because we do have access to super spy intelligence, and we have an entire case built up against Ito. He just changed the travel point of origin on us at the last minute, which is severely restricting our movements.”

This actually makes some sense, and Steve’s still not sure he trusts these men, but the prospect of putting these details together is too enticing for him to pass up, no matter what his wounded pride may try to tell him. “So Ito’s trip was a last minute change, then?” he asks, his stance loosening just slightly. “The buyer isn’t directly connected to Hawaii?”

“Not directly, no,” Michael says. “But Hawaii’s a convenient meeting point in the Pacific.”

“But why would they risk US law enforcement?” Steve asks. “There are countless islands with far less security measures in place.”

Michael’s smile could be a smirk, but there’s a glint of excitement in them that is from the mission alone, and Steve can’t help but trust that. “They’re using Hawaii as a starting point,” Michael clarifies. “The exchange itself is slated for international waters.”

“But how’d he get the product in the States, then?” Danny asks, clearly piecing the clues together as well.

“You assume Ito is the seller,” Casey says.

“When to the contrary, our dear friend Ito is just looking to buy,” Billy says.

This is an angle Steve hadn’t seen coming, but it’s starting to make more sense. “But how does he intend on getting out with the product?”

“You’ll find that Ito’s group has chartered a tour boat and logged several sailing plans in the surrounding waters. One of those trips will veer off to the schedule drop off,” Michael explains.

“And the last one is a chartered ride all the way back to Japan,” Casey says.

“A bit long, perhaps, but I still hear it’s lovely this time of year,” Billy says.

“But they have return flights,” Steve remembers, shaking his head. “In three days.”

“Of course,” Michael says. “Because Ito may know the safest route for his goods, but he isn’t about to suffer that route himself.”

“And besides,” Casey says, “why would he put himself in a position to get caught with contraband?”

“That’s why it pays to have lackeys,” Billy adds with a nod. “Then they can do the scut work for you.”

It’s coming together now, much more clearly than before. “Ito comes to Hawaii with enough of his men to make people lose count, and then when two or three don’t go back with the group...”

“No one thinks twice,” Michael agrees. “Ito can keep his hands mostly clean while his men spread out the heavy work.”

“Okay, okay,” Danny says. “So we know the plan, but you still haven’t told us the what. What on earth is so compelling to convince a criminal with an impeccable record to risk anything like this?”

“Drugs,” Rick says, and it’s the first thing he’s said since he provided his name. “Ito wants drugs.”

Steve frowns and Danny makes a face. “All of this for a little bit of drugs?” Danny asks. He shrugs. “Seems excessive, doesn’t it?”

“Not when they’re top of the line black market prescriptions that he needs to turn around and sell in Japan for triple the price,” Michael says.

“Often to idiotic teenaged children of well to do businessmen and diplomats, many of which are foreign nationals,” Casey says.

“The son of an American diplomat ended up dead last May from drugs sold by Ito,” Billy says. “Tragic stuff, all around.”

“Especially since the profits go into every other criminal enterprise you can think of,” Rick says seriously. “From pornography to human trafficking.”

Michael nods. “He’s really a jack of all trades,” he says. “Which is why we’ve defied mission protocol and set up shop in Hawaii.”

“We’re not missing this son of a bitch,” Casey says emphatically.

“And really,” Billy says with an easy shrug, “it’s the lesser of two evils. Break a few jurisdictional laws or let an international criminal walk free. When you see it from our point of view, it’s not even much of a toss up.”

“Which is where you come in,” Michael says. “You have the jurisdiction; we have the intel. We can turn this into a pissing match, or we can work together for a win all around.”

“You have to admit,” Rick says, and he looks like he’s just trying to accept it himself. “It makes an awful lot of sense.”

And Steve thinks they’re right. They’re arrogant but not without cause. They’re out of bounds but Steve’s entire method of operation tends to work that way.

He looks to Danny, who just shrugs. His face is willing, though, and he’s not even putting up a fuss. That’s as much a blessing from Danny as anything.

Steve sighs, looking at the four men again. He doesn’t know if he trusts them, but he knows he trusts their intel. More than that, he trusts their purpose. If Steve’s willing to dangle a suspect off a building, then working with four hotshot spooks probably shouldn’t be out of the question either.

Collecting another breath, Steve nods finally. “Okay,” he relents, and watches as the four men visibly relax. “But I’m in charge. I have full jurisdiction and that means I have full discretion over all important decisions in this mission.”

He’s clear and to the point, but when Michael smiles and nods and says, “Of course,” Steve has to wonder if any of them know what they’ve just agreed to.

-o-

When the mission details are hashed out, Michael leads his team back to the car.

In the darkness, Casey is the first to speak. “Did you really just give them full discretion over all important decisions in this mission?” he asks.

“We have no choice,” Rick says. “And they sound like they have a good plan.”

“Ah, come now, Rick,” Billy cajoles. “There’s always a choice.” He turns twinkling eyes toward Michael expectantly.

Rick is right in that they do have a good plan. Local law enforcement or not, 5-0 is different in a way Michael can respect. They aren’t constricted by normal rules and methods. They do what needs to be done, and the ambitious plan they’d all agreed to was evidence of that. They’d track Ito’s boat and set up charges at the rendezvous point based on their intel. After letting Ito and his seller make the exchange, they’d disable the ships just inside American waters, making clean and easy arrests, complete with Ito and the evidence in tow.

5-0 would get the attention; Ito would go to prison for a very long time.

It’s such a well thought out plan that Michael is fairly certain that McGarrett and Williams don’t realize that they didn’t come up with any of it on their own.

In this, Rick is also wrong. Opening the car door, Michael pauses to smile, shaking his head. “And control is really just a matter of perspective,” he says.

Casey nods, passing around to the other side. “It’s true,” he says. “I mean, do you really believe that we’ve ever given you the capacity to make your own decisions in the field?”

Rick frowns. “Of course,” he says. “I mean--”

Billy pats him on the arm. “Don’t think on it too hard, son,” he advises. “It’s always best just to accept your own lack of control and trust that you’ll have it when you need it.”

“Which, at this rate, will be never,” Casey says, climbing into the car and slamming his door heavily.

Rick scowls.

Michael shrugs, barely keeping his total amusement at bay. “Like I said, it’s all a matter of perspective.”

And whatever comes tomorrow, Michael knows that much will be true for all of them.

-o-

In general, Chin believes in taking what comes his way. He’s not sure if that’s part of his Hawaiian background or if it’s more unique to him, but he’s always been the type to work with what he has, regardless of how good or bad it may be.

Granted, the HPD investigation into his activities had tested him in that, but even after quitting, he’d managed to find himself relatively happy, even if he really is happier as a cop. Really, maybe that’s why anything Steve and Danny come up with is really okay by him – he’s lived through worse.

So when he is told to spend the day with an undercover CIA agent setting up booby traps at sea, his first thought is that it’s good to know there are still firsts in his line of work. Moreover, a day out of the office is always preferable, and even if he isn’t part-fish like Kono, he can certainly appreciate some time on the open water.

And playing with explosives isn’t so bad either.

All things considered, Chin thinks this assignment is pretty good. So he’s really not entirely sure why his CIA counterpart is so sour.

Danny had introduced the man as Casey Malick, a fact Casey hasn’t contradicted and certainly hasn’t expounded upon willingly as Chin drove them down to the marina. After securing a boat under Casey’s watchful eye, they had loaded their multitude of gear and equipment and set out with the coordinates provided by the CIA’s intel.

The sky is clear; the water is warm. The salt air is fresh and invigorating as Chin steers the boat.

Sitting on the deck, not far away, Casey is scowling.

Chin doesn’t make a point to pry into other people’s business, but seeing as they’re going to be spending the day together and setting explosive charges in tandem, then Chin thinks maybe a little small talk might be in order.

Clearing his throat, Chin says, “So, how long have you guys been building this case?”

It’s not exactly exhilarating small talk, but it is neutral. Besides, the cop in Chin is curious. It’s not often that cases are handed to him on a silver platter and while he appreciate the boost in intel, there’s a part of him that wants to know the background for his own gratification. Knowing the ins and outs gives him more confidence as he sets up chaos and destruction in the ocean, at any rate.

Casey glances at him, his expression seemingly torn between distrust and disinterest. “Years,” he says. “I could explain how we came across the intel over a period of missions and through a number of assets and surveillance, but that would seriously compromise national security.”

It’s a surprising litany; Chin has half suspected that the man is simply not talkative, a trait Chin can respect. It turns out, however, that he’s simply antisocial.

Still, Chin knows better than to let someone else’s mood dictate his own. It’s helped him extensively when dealing with the explosive antics between Danny and Steve since 5-0 has been formed.

So, persistent, Chin nods amicably. “I just think it’s impressive you guys got such exact coordinates,” he says. “We were still figuring out what Ito was after all together.”

Casey snorts, arms crossed over his chest. “That’s because local law enforcement is severely blunted by rules and regulations,” he says. Then he quirks an eyebrow. “And generalized, systematic stupidity.”

It’s an insult, and from the way Casey is watching him, he’s clearly curious to see how Chin will react. Chin doesn’t particularly like being insulted, but after being accused of being dirty, small swipes at his stupidity hardly seem worth noting. Especially if he wants to have a productive day of work with Casey.

Instead, he smiles. “There has to be some transparency in the legal system,” he says, shrugging his shoulders. “We all have our place in the system, brah.”

The statement seems to impress Casey. His posture loosens just slightly. “So you accept that you have limited real capacity and serve partially as a visible formality to help espouse safety in an increasingly nanny state?”

Chin laughs, adjusting his course slightly to keep on track. “I work on a government salary, just the same as you,” he points out. “I’m not in it to control lives or win glory. Just to do what I can.”

This answer seems to relax Casey even more, although his eyes are still trained critically on Chin as he navigates the waters. “That’s a pragmatic approach,” he says, but there’s a note of interest in his voice that wasn’t there earlier. “Assuming, of course, you’re any good at what you do.”

Chin lifts his eyebrows. “Do you want to steer?” he asks. “Because HPD might object, but that would just make me want to let you do it even more.”

Casey smirks at that, shaking his head. “Not necessary,” he says. “Although I will be curious to see how a common cop handles high grade explosives in the water.”

Chin looks back out at the water and can’t help but smile. “Well, this common cop will be curious to see how a full of himself CIA agent plays under someone else’s jurisdiction,” he says. He looks at Casey again, smiling broadly. “Or should I remind you who’s in charge here?”

Casey doesn’t quite scowl; instead, he seems to offer Chin a look of reluctant deference. “I have no problem with jurisdiction,” he says. “I have problems with idiocy. If we can avoid the latter, then I can assure you that the former is really a moot point from my point of view.”

“Not in it for the glory, then?” Chin asks.

At this, Casey actually breaks a smile and huffs a small laugh. “Should I remind you of the varied and colorful threats we lobbied at you all this morning if you threatened to breathe our real names to anyone?”

This time, it’s Chin’s turn to smirk because he can recall the tense conversation before they all left the office. Officially, no one named Casey Malick is working on this case, although a man named Ryan Moore is staying at a local hotel and sightseeing with some friends. “Don’t worry,” Chin tells him. “I’m good with secrets.”

“Good,” Casey says. “Because I’m good at shutting people who up don’t know how to control their mouths.”

Chin hasn’t seen this man in action; in truth, he doesn’t look like much of a force to be reckoned with. But Chin knows the power of smoke and mirrors, how it can cause good cops to resign for something they didn’t do, so it seems possible, at least, that this man might be telling him the truth.

And Chin likes to give people the benefit of the doubt. After all, he’s spent long enough without that privilege to extend it to others.

Still, it’s hard to imagine. Even in his sullenness, Casey is small and slight.

“Don’t ask to see a demonstration,” Casey warns. “Unless you would like to be humiliated and stranded at sea off your own police boat.”

Chin shrugs innocently. “Doesn’t seem necessary,” he says. “And it might be a bit counterproductive. We have a lot of charges to set and not a lot of time to do it, according to your intel.”

Casey’s face darkens again. “I could handle it,” he says.

As his GPS signals their arrival, Chin pulls the boat to a gradual stop. In the fresh silence, Chin takes a deep breath, kills the engine, and steps toward Casey, looking at him fully. “You do what you have to do,” he says. “But I have a feeling this will go better if we work together.”

Casey seems to be eyeing him again, but he nods slowly. “You do understand that it goes against all my training and instincts to trust you with things of any importance, correct?”

Chin just shrugs. “You do realize that I don’t care if you trust me,” he says. “I just want to get the job done.”

It’s the simple truth, which has always been Chin’s preference.

The answer seems to make Casey think, consider. Finally, he nods. “That’s acceptable,” he says.

“Good,” Chin says, moving past him and toward their gear. “Because we need to lay a full row of charges at equal intervals. More than that, we have to count them to make sure we pick up what we don’t use. It’s going to be a bit tedious.”

“Paperwork is tedious,” Casey says, following a step behind. “Setting explosives to capture wanted gang members and thwarting international crime is satisfying work.”

Chin can’t help but grin. “Either way, we better get started if we’re going to get this done.”

Case picks up one of the explosives, nodding his head. “I couldn’t have said it better myself.”

With a smile, Chin gathers his things and they get to work in silence.

-o-

Kono wonders if she’s ever going to stop being the rookie.

Because, yes, she technically is the rookie of the bunch, but she’s not exactly inexperienced in this kind of thing. And yet, somehow, she still ends up getting the crappiest assignments of all of them.

Moreover, they still take a certain amount of glee in it.

In most cases, this isn’t too bad. Usually, she still gets to do something of note and can usually work in a few exciting moments to make it all worthwhile.

But this time, she’s stuck in the surveillance van. With another rookie no less.

And he looks it, too. Young and clean-shaven; he seems fidgety whereas his teammates are completely calm and collected. It’s clear to see that he hides it well, but Kono’s spent enough time on 5-0 to see that he’s still somewhat out of his element, still trying to prove himself, no matter how many missions he goes on.

In all, Kono sort of knows how he feels. She just hopes that she’s not nearly as obvious in her own insecurities; that it’s not written so clearly on her face that most of this is still new, exciting and overwhelming in equal turns.

The van is like every other surveillance van that Kono has had the ill privilege to spend time in. She takes some solace in the fact that she gets to drive – apparently, being the rookie on a team with no jurisdiction afford one even less power than being the rookie on an elite police team.

Still, it’s not much solace as she parks the van at the designated spot on the outside of the harbor. From their spot in street side parking, there’s still a clear view of the water but there’s no way to get eyes on the particular boat that the rest of the team will be tracking.

Of course, as backup surveillance, she’s not supposed to see anything. She’s supposed to monitor communications and ensure that things go smoothly. If things go really wrong, then she’ll provide proper backup, but Steve had assured her that it’s not going to be necessary.

No, all Kono needs to do is sit in the van and listen. For hours on end until the bust is finished. Then, if she’s really lucky, she might get to help with paperwork.

Chin always tells her that all aspects of police work are important, and Kono believes that. She really does.

That doesn’t mean, however, that she has to like it.

In fact, she feels altogether cheated on this case. With four CIA agents stepping in from nowhere, suddenly Kono is completely superfluous. It’s hard not to resent that as she takes up station in the van, checking the communication feeds and the overall case organization.

“You have a nice set up.”

She’s so fixated on the task at hand – miserable as it seems – that she is genuinely surprised when the agent starts to talk.

Blinking, she cranes her head, turning in her seat to look at him.

He’s looking at her earnestly, a small smile on his lips.

“What?” she asks, because for the moment, she’s too stymied to come up with anything more.

The agent – Rick, she remembers, Rick Martinez – gestures vaguely to the van around them. “This is pretty impressive for such short notice,” he says. “Most domestic police forces are facing so many budget cuts that this kind of thing is impossible.”

She looks around and considers that. Although she’s a graduate for the HPD, she’s never actually worked directly for them, and sometimes it’s easy to forget that their top tier supports are unique. “Yeah,” she comments, with a small shrug. “We handle the biggest cases. The governor wants to be sure we’re sufficiently funded.”

Rick nods agreeably. “That must be nice,” he says, a little thoughtful.

It’s genuine enough that Kono finds herself smiling. “Well, I’m sure it pales in comparison to the CIA,” she says. “Top of the line everything there, I’d guess.”

Rick laughs. “You would guess,” he says. “But budget cuts haven’t just hit locally.”

“Oh, come on,” she says. “I’m sure you guys have surveillance gear that puts this to shame.”

“Sometimes,” Rick accedes. “But most of what we do is nothing more than persistent, hard work. No amount of technology can replace the quality of an agent in the field.”

He says this without compunction; he means it. It’s not even rehearsed – not a party line. He feels strongly about what he does, about the value in it.

In this, Kono can find some common ground. It’s true that police work was never her first calling in life, but it’s one that she’s fond more and more gratifying the more she does it. Surfing is her release in life, but being a cop is what she figures has to be her calling.

If not, she strongly suspects she wouldn’t be here at all. After all, her job prospects at HPD had always been slim to none and the thought of leaving Hawaii had never been something she’d considered. Winding up with Chin on 5-0, therefore, has always seemed like fate working in her favor.

This time, she feels her posture loosen, easing up in the presence of what she suspects might be a kindred spirit. “Funny,” she says. “But that sounds awfully idealistic for a spook.”

Rick’s returning grin is rueful. “There are a lot of things that surprise you about being a spy,” he says.

She laughs at that, rocking back in her chair a little. “I can imagine,” she says. “You must see some pretty crazy cases.”

Rick nods readily. “I haven’t been with the agency that long and I already have enough stamps to fill my passport,” he says. “But I’ve looked into 5-0. The cases we handle aren’t so different. Just different locales.”

She smirks. “You been running background checks through us on the CIA’s database?”

Rick scoffs. “Try Google,” he says. “You guys are making quite the name for yourself.”

It’s not something she’s thought of, but still, she takes some pride in that. Yet, her pride is tempered as the confines of the van reminder her of her place on the team. She’s been entrusted with a lot during her time at 5-0, and she’s had her successes and her failures.

“You wouldn’t be able to guess from this mission,” she remarks, somewhat dourly.

Rick nods in commiseration. “Rookie syndrome,” he says. “I hope your team has been less prone to hazing than mine has.”

There hasn’t been hazing, necessarily, though sometimes Danny’s jokes do seem to hit that vibe. She shakes her head. “No, I just get relegated to the background roles when one of us needs to,” she says. “Babysitting, backgrounds checks; that kind of thing.”

“My team set me up with a Russian operative my first day in,” Rick says. “Then they drugged me and put me on a horse and sent me into a terrorist camp before promptly shocking me with an electrical charge strong enough to make me loose control of my bodily functions.”

For a second, Kono can only stare. “Must have been a rough couple of months for you, brah,” she says, slightly impressed that he’s still sitting there at all.”

“That was my first mission,” Rick corrects her. “After that, they’ve gotten a little better, but they still like to make me sit in hotel rooms or drop me into unknown holes just to see what happens.”

“Well,” Kono says, shrugging by way of consolation. “At least they’re trusting you to do stuff.”

“Oh, not entirely,” Rick tells her. “During my first meet with an asset, they followed me and got me beat up for the trouble. They have my back, but....” His voice trails off and he lifts one shoulder helplessly.

“But they treat you like you don’t know what you’re doing,” Kono says in total agreement.

Rick looks at her, a little surprised.

She smiles. “Trust me, I know the feeling,” she says. “And they seem to conveniently overlook all the times I’ve managed to save them or pull off the mission.”

Rick sits up with enthusiasm. “Yes,” he says, nodding emphatically. “Yes, exactly. Like every rookie mistake stands out, but the things I do right are never enough.”

Kono is nodding along as he speaks. “I keep waiting for the case when I’m a full part of the team,” she says. “Not some rookie trying to earn her way in.”

“Well,” Rick says, tilting his head to the van. “Looks like we’ve still got a way to go.”

Following his gaze, she sighs, shoulders slumping somewhat. “Yeah,” she agrees. “Looks like we do.”

Rick lingers with her stare for a moment before he straightens, his face turning resolved. “It’s not so bad, though,” he says.

Curious, she tilts her head.

He shrugs. “I mean, we are still a critical element to a case involving pervasive international crime,” he says. “Have you read the reports on Ito? Taking this guy down – it’s huge.”

She’s skimmed the reports; in her defense, this case has come together so quickly that she isn’t as up on the ins and outs as she might normally be. “But we’re in a van,” she reminds him. Then she adds, for good measure, “Almost a mile from anything resembling the action.”

Rick nods readily, unable to deny it. Still, he purses his lips. “But how do you think this case came together?” he asks.

She stares, expectant.

“Intel,” Rick says. “Guys in vans, people listening to wires, aides poring over documents. The grunt work makes cases. And backup saves lives, and whether it seems that way or not, this part of the mission needs backup, too.”

He’s passionate about this, too, but it sounds more rote. He’s had to tell himself this more than once.

She grins.

“What?” he asks.

“Just you,” she says. “Talking up sitting in a van like it’s the best thing ever.”

“Well,” Rick says, blushing slightly as he adjusts his posture. “One of the things I’ve learned best while at the CIA is that the moment you start expecting things to be easy is the exact moment they go really, really wrong.”

There’s probably some truth to that, but it still makes Kono roll her eyes. “Pessimism goes against the island culture.”

“And optimism defies the Agency’s most well bred policies,” Rick counters.

“Then we make for an unlikely partnership,” she says.

Rick chuckles. “In my experience, those are the best kinds.”

Kono thinks about that, thinks about Steve and Danny and Chin and herself. She smiles. “Yeah,” she agrees. “I suppose they are.”

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