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H50 Fic: The Eleventh Hour 6/13

February 10th, 2011 (07:06 am)

A/N: As always, I appreciate all readers and reviews. This is starting to build to the climax, but it's not quite there yet :) Thank you!  Previous parts are here.



Danny had a knack for being annoying.

Steve honestly figured it was a natural born gift, a mere facet of Danny's personality. It was rarely ill-conceived and even less so malicious, but Danny had a penchant for snarky sarcasm that could test even the most tried and true nerves.

Steve would know. After being the guy's partner this long, he'd come to know him fairly well. Danny's rants were epic, his choice of soapboxes obscure, and his tendency for melodrama expected. Sometimes Steve found it amusing. He took a perverse joy in finding one of Danny's buttons and pushing it just to see his arms flail and hear his voice change pitch. Sometimes it was downright perplexing, and Steve found himself watching Danny, just trying to get some idea of the thought process that had led them to the point of raving diatribes.

And sometimes, inevitably, it was annoying.

Like when Danny asked him the same question fifteen times, just so Steve would finally stop and let him explain his point of view. Or when Danny persisted in defying common sense and insisted on upholding the police code of conduct to which Steve had never sworn an allegiance.

Also, most probably, when his only job was to shut up and bleed and he proceeded to critique every move being made.

Granted, this didn't as much annoy Steve as it did worry him, but he could see how it might be annoying for Blaine.

What he wasn't sure of was whether or not Danny was aware of what he was doing. It was entirely possible, Steve figured, that Danny really didn't have a censor button and was completely incapable of being quiet, even when his life and limb were actually on the line.

Possible, but for some reason, it didn't seem probable. Because if Danny had a propensity to say whatever he was thinking, he had a hardwired leaning toward survival. It frustratingly anchored everything Danny did, and Steve could almost see his partner's mind working at the start of every bust, thinking about the myriad ways in which it could end in disaster.

Because, as Danny reminded him frequently, he had a daughter. Danny would say anything on his mind, but he wouldn't blithely risk his life for the fear of never seeing Grace again.

Which meant that Danny knew what he was doing. He knew that he was pissing Blaine off, and he was keeping it up because it fit with Steve's masterful plan of stalling.

Steve would stall by saying as little as possible. Danny would stall by saying as much as possible.

The counterbalance was clear. They complemented each other in a way that Steve never had foreseen the day he coerced Danny to join him on 5-0. The perfect partnership.

And the perfect way for Danny to get himself killed.

Steve saw the punch coming, but had no way of stopping it. He didn't even have an effective means of warning his partner - because none of it would do any good. They were sitting ducks, and there was nothing either of them could do to stop Blaine if he put his mind to something.

Still, seeing it coming and knowing that Danny had willingly brought it on, didn't make it any easier to endure.

Steve heard the punch land across Danny's face, and felt it as his partner's head rebounded with the impact.

Keeping his gaze steady, Steve forced himself to keep an eye on Blaine. "You think this makes you tough?" he asked. "That somehow I'm supposed to suddenly think you're a brilliant criminal mastermind I shouldn't mess with?"

Blaine raised an eyebrow quizzically. "I'm not twirling my mustache or anything," he said. Then he lifted his head with a bemused grin. His fingers were still curled in a loose fist and he lashed out, hitting Danny with another glancing blow to the face. "But I have the upper hand here, and I just haven't figure out how much you'll let your partner take before you acknowledge that and give me what I want."

"I'm not trained to negotiate with criminals," Steve reminded him, both glib and serious.

Blaine shook out his hand for a moment, his breathing deep with the exertion of the punches. Danny was still moving behind Steve, with harsh breaths broken up by intermittent spitting.

"Then don't think of it as a negotiation," Blaine said with an easy shrug.

"I think what Steve means is that he doesn't negotiate, period," Danny offered, his voice strained and clipped but certainly not lacking its usual acetic edge.

"How about saving a life?" Blaine pushed, and he used his foot this time, kicking at Danny's leg purposefully.

This time, Danny yelped, and Steve could only hope that it hadn't been a blow to Danny's less than perfect ACL.

Blaine cocked his head, looking at Steve smugly. "You could save his life by telling me."

It was probably a lie, and they all knew it. Steve shook his head, remaining defiant. "How about you let us go and I'll save yours."

Blaine gave him a disappointed look. "As if you'll let me go," he said.

"No, but I can get leniency," Steve offered.

Blaine chortled, pacing a little. "I'm an escaped convict who was already serving 25 years," he said. He looked unimpressed, and he wasn't afraid to show it. "Somehow I doubt your sincerity."

Steve shrugged coldly. It had been only as true as his assumption that Blaine would never go for it. "And somehow I doubt yours."

Blaine's expression faded from bemusement to anger and he kicked again, harder this time, jarring them back roughly.

Danny cried out again, muttering a small string of curses before he sucked in a harsh breath and seemed to consciously control himself.

"I'm tired of this game, gentlemen," Blaine said, voice heavy with exasperation. His blithe attitude from earlier was wearing thin, and in his demands, Steve could sense a growing desperation.

"Oh, and we're having so much fun," Danny sniped, but the words were barely out of his mouth when Blaine landed another hard punch, this time into Danny's stomach. The detective curled over, pulling against the cuffs, and Steve heard him wheeze painfully.

"Hurting him won't get you what you want," Steve reminded him, not because he thought it would make a difference, and not even as an attempt at posturing, but because it was true.

Blaine smirked and kicked this time, the heel of his foot landing hard on Danny's knee.

This time, Danny cried out uncontrollably, a short, strangled sound, before he stifled it with a grunt.

Steve felt something ebb from his self-control. It wasn't in his nature to second-guess himself any more than it was in his nature to let people under his command suffer in his stead. The utter futility of it wore at him, ratcheting up with each blow Danny sustained.

There was nothing to be done for it, though, and as hard as it was, Steve forced himself to rein his frustration in. There was a time for vengeance. There was a time to fight back. And there was a time to endure, whether he liked it at the moment or not. They had a plan. He had to stick to the plan. Danny was leverage only as long as Steve showed any concern. Indifference was his friend now, even if it was the hardest thing to muster.

Purposefully, Steve held Blaine's eyes. He shrugged. "You know how I'm trained," he said. "You know that I won't break."

"For yourself, no," Blaine agreed. "But for your new partner?"

He spoke the word with purposeful disdain, and accentuated his point by landing another kick, this time to Danny's midsection, a gleeful expression twisting his features.

Danny oofed and the impact nearly rocked them to the ground.

No matter how hard Steve worked to keep the rage and concern from his face, he knew Blaine could read it clearly.

Blaine's smile widened. "For him, I think you might just," he said. He followed up the kick with a punch across Danny's jaw, which snapped Steve's partner's head to the side with a painful crack. "You have more than your share of guilt on your shoulders now. With your father's death and all. Do you really want to be responsible for your partner's as well?"

Steve's heart was pounding hard and fast in his chest, and it was all his concentration to keep his eyes trained on Blaine while all his attention was on Danny.

At his back, Danny was sagged forward, but he wasn't still. Blaine wanted Danny awake this time around, and, unfortunately, Blaine was good at walking that line. His partner mumbled a little, something incomprehensible and slurred, and Steve stayed upright while Danny's head rolled back, his shoulders heaving with the effort to breathe.

"How much longer does he have to ignore you for you to believe it?" Danny asked between pants. His head rolled forward again, with a ragged sigh.

Blaine looked at him for a moment, still grinning. "Peril," he announced simply. He lashed out with a foot, catching Danny's knee.

His partner whimpered, and dragged in a wet breath as he stifled a curse.

"Peril," Blaine said again, using a fist this time to hit hard into Danny's ribs. Danny strained against his bonds, trying to curl into himself, and Blaine stood back proudly. "Steve McGarrett may indeed have no physical limits to break, but he has emotional ones. I just have to find them."

To prove his point, he kicked, hitting Danny square in the chest with a force that scooted them across the floor and left Danny speechless.

With that kind of force, Danny was going to be lucky not to have internal damage. Broken ribs were a strong possibility, and with any kind of prolonged beating, that could lead to a punctured lung - or something worse.

Peril. It was effective, but only if Steve let Blaine hold it.

Defiant, he kept his chin high, narrowing his eyes at Blaine. "Peril?" he asked, a little mockingly. "That's your best option? Peril? I thought you fancied yourself a brilliant criminal mastermind."

Blaine's expression flickered. "I caught you, didn't I?"

"Only because you couldn't figure out who screwed you," Steve shot back.

Blaine hit Danny with a punch, to the face this time.

Steve made himself ignore it. "You run an entire operation under the nose of the US Navy. You skim millions for yourself. You even break out of prison. But you still don't know why you lost it all. You can't figure out how you got caught. You're no better than the scumbugs on the street corner trying to sell drugs to kids."

Blaine's smile faded somewhat, turned up grimly on the ends. "A wrong I intend on fixing once you give me a name."

Steve scoffed. "If you were half the criminal you thought you were, you wouldn't need any of this," he said. "Look at this. Throwing punches in a warehouse. It's pathetic."

Blaine shook his head, laughing a little. "I know what you're doing," he said. "I know that you're trying to get into my head."

"I don't need to get into your head," Steve said with an air of disgust. "It's obvious, written all over your face. At this point, I wouldn't tell you because I don't think you even deserve to know. Hell, you'd probably still screw it all up even if I did give you the name and get yourself caught, just like before."

Steve was so set on pushing Blaine to the edge, that he almost didn't see the punch coming. As it was, there wasn't much he could do, and he took it hard across the face, knocking his head sideways with his vision going black around the edges. His ears rung and he tasted blood.

Spitting, he shook his head, trying to clear it.

Looking up through blurry vision, he worked to control his breathing and regain his composure, but even as he made the effort, he could tell something had changed.

Malcolm was still in the background, eyes wide and hands on the gun. Steve was still handcuffed to the chair and Danny was still stiff at his back, breathing ragged and pained. And Blaine was still there, too, standing tall in front of him, but it was still different somehow and Steve's mind was sluggish to put together the pieces.

And then he understood.

Blaine wasn't laughing anymore. He wasn't even smiling. His face was twisted with rage, his gun pulled, safety released, and pointed straight at Danny.

Steve's heart skipped a beat. This entire thing had been mostly out of his control from the beginning, but he'd been hedging his bets on the cold fact that while Blaine would kill for money, he wouldn't be moved to that until he got what he wanted. Stalling had been the smart option, but he hadn't wanted to think that when time ran out, they still might not be any closer to salvation than they were when this started.

Steve didn't misjudge often.

It was a numbing thought that he might have this time. It wasn't simply justice on the line. This wasn't about Blaine getting away anymore. This was about getting through this mess alive, and Steve had walked that fine line as best he could.

But he wasn't the one in control. He could only push Blaine so far, and he was reminded of it cruelly now, because Blaine held his life in his hands. More than that, he held Danny's life in his hands, and the only thing between his partner and an untimely death was Blaine's finger, which was firmly on the trigger, just waiting for a reason.

And there was nothing Steve could do about it. He was handcuffed and beaten and some criminal from his past had a gun on his partner and there was nothing he could do about it. He'd worked the situation the best he could, played all his cards, and it might not be enough.

Of course, there was something Steve could do about it. He could tell Blaine what he wanted to know. Hell, Blaine knew the source, which was another reason why divulging this information would be counterproductive. If Blaine was pissed off enough to stage the entire kidnapping, Steve didn't want to think what he'd do with the intel Steve still had.

Desperate, Steve shook his head, bile churning in his stomach. In the big picture, there were some compromises he could live with, and some he wasn't sure he could. He'd staked his life on ideals for the better part of his career, and he'd had a lot of success. He knew that counted for something, but right then, with the gun cocked and pointed at Danny, Steve suddenly understood that all the success in the world couldn't make up for certain failures.

He could still hear the shot. He could still feel it reverberate in his ear even after the line went dead. There was no way of knowing if Hesse would have let his father go even if his brother went free, but there was that horrible what-if that Steve couldn't shake. The price for taking the high road was his father's blood, and if he could do it again, he wasn't so sure he wouldn't have made the choice that saved his father's life, even if it meant letting someone bad get away.

He carried the weight of his father's death with him every day on the job. He told himself that his compromise had been worth it. That staying true to his morals and his mission had been the right thing to do. Sometimes that made the burden easier to carry.

Sometimes it didn't.

He wasn't sure he was ready to carry the same for Danny.

He wasn't sure he could tell Grace that her daddy was never coming home.

Some compromises had to be made. He just had to pick which guilt was worse. Which one would keep him up at night, which one could he let go of. Letting a criminal go or his partner's life.

Suddenly it wasn't a hard question. It wasn't even a debate.

Heart pounding, Steve felt his face flush and he opened his mouth to speak-

When the sound of a cell phone cut him off.

It was a simple ringer, which meant it definitely wasn't Danny's. Steve kept his own on vibrate.

Which meant-

Blaine's eyes went from Danny to the gun to his pocket. He pursed his lips as he worked his phone out of with one hand, the gun still poised with the other.

He felt Danny's breath hitch, but other than that, Danny wasn't moving.

Blaine's eyes glanced at the screen and then he looked back at Danny and Steve with a wry smile. "Fortunately for you, I really should take this," he said, reluctantly dropping his aim. He quirked his head to the side. "Seems like a nice place for everyone to regain their composure before we finish our little chat."

Steve didn't say anything. For once, Danny didn't either. It was silent as Blaine retreated to the office, leaving Malcolm looking a little pale. The kid cast a glance backward before squaring his shoulders and turning his eyes back to Steve and Danny.

Hands feeling cold, Steve moved them in the cuffs, trying to regain his circulation. He wasn't opposed to taking his good luck where he could find it, and given the way today was going, Blaine's phone call was as much a blessing as anything.

They'd all been pushed to the edge. There was no telling if Blaine would have pulled the trigger or what he would have done if Steve had given him what he wanted.

Steve didn't even know for sure what he had been going to say, if he was going to tell Blaine the truth or a well-timed lie to buy them time.

It was a relief, though. They didn't have to buy the time when they'd been given it.

Steve took a steadying breath, blowing it out purposefully.

This was the chance they needed to regroup. He needed to play the bluff out a little longer, and if Blaine had time to cool his nerves, he was less likely to start shooting. This was time Steve needed. As long as there wasn't a gun to Danny's head, Steve didn't have to say anything. It was a last resort he knew he couldn't deny, but it had to stay as a last resort. It was a delicate balance now, a give and take that he needed to time just right, but as long as Blaine wasn't at his breaking point, Steve had to stay away from his - no matter what.

He glanced over his shoulder. He could feel Danny at his back, his breaths coming shallow and fast, almost small tremors through his battered body.

This was time they both needed.

With another somewhat deeper breath, Steve composed himself. He nodded back toward his partner. "How are you doing back there?"

Danny let out a strangled laugh, his entire body twitching with the effort. "Peachy," he said. "Nothing like a gun to my head to get the blood moving."

It wasn't funny. Nothing about the situation was funny, but Steve found himself laughing anyway. "I've always thought you talked too much," he said, and he hoped that Danny could hear the apology there.

Danny snorted a little in reply. "And I always told you that you piss people off too much," he said. He shrugged a little, his hands flailing ineffectually. "I guess we were both right."

Steve let his gaze go the floor. He could hear the acceptance along with Danny's nonplussed it's okay.

He nodded, grinding his teeth together for a moment. "Yeah," he said, hoping that it was true in more ways than one. "I guess we were."




Posted by: ratherastory (ratherastory)
Posted at: February 10th, 2011 01:14 pm (UTC)

Oh, man...


No way Danny can leverage them across the floor now if Blaine screwed up his knee...

*twists more*

And Blaine isn't working alone! The suspense builds!

*tries to refrain from hitting "refresh" compulsively until you update again*

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: February 12th, 2011 02:05 pm (UTC)
danny and steve work together

LOL, I'm glad it's suspenseful and not boring--I worry a lot about plotty fics :)

As for updating--check back Monday :) Thanks!

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: February 12th, 2011 02:05 pm (UTC)
danny steve bust

I'm glad it's working! Plots really and truly terrify me, so knowing it seems to be building is a great relief :)


Posted by: Flute (sgflutegirl)
Posted at: February 10th, 2011 09:17 pm (UTC)
H50 - Steve serious

Wow! Yeah, um... wow!

Can't wait for more.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: February 12th, 2011 02:05 pm (UTC)
danny thoughtful

LOL, thank you!

Posted by: blackdog_lz (blackdog_lz)
Posted at: February 11th, 2011 03:22 pm (UTC)

:) halfway through already. I can't wait to read how they're going to find their way out of there. But I'm also going to be sad, when the story is finished.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: February 12th, 2011 02:06 pm (UTC)
danny explanation

Well I'm glad you're enjoying it! Thank you for reading!

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