"I enlisted when I was seventeen."
Kono gasps. "That young?"
Danny shrugs, he nudges one of the bags with his foot before he straightens up, "it's nothing unusual really, a lot of people enlists at this age."
Chin nods, but there's a calculating look in these dark eyes, he stares at Danny for one long silent moment. "Don't you need your parents consent to go in the army at that age?"
He confirms that with a quick nod. He remembers that day when he decided to serve his country, his mother cried but his father patted his shoulder in encouragement. Danny was a lot of things back then but one thing was sure enough, he always wanted to help people, to keep them safe and Army looked like a right choice back then.
Kono leans forward, her eyes big and expressive. "And then?" She gnaws at her bottom lip and Danny notes with amusement that she looks like Grace when she's curious about something that she finds exciting.
He smiles, everything looked so easy back then, before he made a decision that defined who he is today. "It may come as a surprise to you but Higher ups weren't exactly fond of me, hell my Drill Sergeant wasn't fond of me back in my basic combat training." Danny starts sketching a big circle in the air with his hands to make his point how much exactly the Serge despised him.
"You don't say," Chin says amused and Danny gives him a roll eye. The tension he felt slowly leaves him allowing him to breathe more easily. He regrets not telling the team earlier.
He regrets not telling Steve when he had a chance.
Kono snorts nudging Chin in the side and Danny chuckles because that must've been painful. Kono's bony elbows are deadly.
"It must be all those opinions and big attitude that got to them," Kono says seriously but her eyes are scrunched in mirth. She tilts her head to the side, "I thought the army was all about discipline?"
Danny sighs, looking at the sky, it started to get cloudy, he hopes it won't rain. "Very funny."
Kono shrugs, "it's a little bit funny."
Danny smiles, "maybe a bit."
He closes his eyes for a second, going back in time.
Danny jerks his head in the direction of the voice and swears silently under his nose because Drill Sergeant McCartney is one hell of an old maniacal bastard.
He steps forward, pulling his shoulders back and straightening his spine, standing to his full height. He hears some snickering going on around and Danny promises himself that he'll kick their asses and show them not to laugh at his height.
McCartney glares at the rest of the privates and the laughing ends abruptly, he walks up to Danny and he wonders idly if it's about him oversleeping and not making his bed in time? Or mouthing off to some of the privates?
"Williams! Do you know what a discipline is?!"
‘Oh' Danny thinks and tries not to shrink under the fiery gaze of his drill instructor, so it is about the bed and most likely the mouthing off, too.
By the end of the very much humiliating tirade Danny wants to punch McCartney in the face but refrains from doing so, nothing good would come out of it.
He ends up cleaning the fucking bathrooms for the next week and maybe he would feel really bad about that if the guys who laughed at his punishment weren't glared at by the Drill Sergeant and given the same punishment.
Kono laughs leaning on Chin who smiles. "Only you, Danny. Only you."
Danny shrugs, "well, in the end, I think I gained McCartney's respect. I've got good instincts and was quick on my feet. In fact, once we finished the training and were about to be shipped off I forgot myself and ranted at him and honestly, I thought he will murder me but he just shook his head and laughed. I was confused, seriously confused but I was alive so I took it as a win."
Chin laughs, his body relaxing and Danny is happy because it's easier this way, almost normal.
"And the Army?" Kono asks stepping closer to Danny.
"Like I said Higher Ups weren't enamored with me at all."
"Why is that?"
"I might or might not voice my opinions on their strategic thinking since their amazing plans would get us, the squad I was a part of, killed. I think I almost gave General Oraka a stroke."
Danny frowns looking at the plans before him, he stands behind his Captain and glances from the map to General Oraka. He's not sure if he even should be here but no one dismissed him so he stayed.
General talks and Locke is nodding although Danny can see the tension in his shoulders, he knows him enough already to know that his leader doesn't exactly agree with the plan. Danny doesn't like it either, General isn't going with them so making plans for them is just plain ridiculous.
"You should escort the package through this passage." Oraka points at the map and Danny follows his finger until it stops and taps on the route he chose.
"No," Danny says without even meaning, it. He stares at the map and points at the alternate route. "We should go this way, it's longer but there will be fewer opportunities for an ambush." He moves his finger to the passage. "This one is quicker, sure but it's perfect for an attack. The hills and bushes scattered around would be our enemies." He looks at General and only then he realizes what has he done.
Oraka looks furious and Danny gulps shooting a quick glance at Locke who looks at him with wide eyes but the corner of his mouth is quivering and Danny curses under his breath because this is not funny.
"Private Williams! Who the hell gave you permission to talk?! What are you even doing here?!"
"I wasn't dismissed," Danny says before he can bite his tongue.
Oraka looks like he's about to choke on air and Danny seriously thinks that he dug his own grave for real this time.
"With all due respect General but this plan is just not—" He goes on trying to stop his stupid mouth but they apparently came to a life of their own, thankfully Locke elbows him in the ribs giving him a warning look.
The Captain turns to the General, "I also think that taking another route will be more beneficial, sir."
Chin opens his mouth, "You mouthed off to a General? Criticized his strategic skills?"
Danny cringes, "when you say it like that it looks pretty bad."
Chin snorts, "it is bad. It's a marvel that they didn't kick you out or worse, brah."
"Well, my Captain and the rest of my squad got my back."
"Still… so how did you step up in the rank if you were," Kono bites her lip and tilts her head looking to the side and giving her all to try to hold her laugh but not quite succeeding, "well you."
"I was good and they couldn't really ignore it."
"But to reach a rank of Colonel? It's almost at the end of the rank ladder, isn't it? Don't you need a few years if not decades of experience, too?"
"You're correct but there are exceptions from these rules."
Chin smirks, "you mean that you're just that good."
Danny looks to the side smiling, he didn't want to look cocky but he's pretty sure he looked that anyway. "That's exactly why I was able to get such high rank despite very young age. That and a lot of luck. Also saving World's biggest shots, officials and whatnot didn't hurt either."
"But Colonel? That's big, really big, brah." Kono says. She windmills her arms to emphases her point and isn't that usually Danny's thing?
Danny looks down, "My leader Locke, we hit it off pretty quickly. He was my friend and a good man the rest of the guys, too. I would do anything to make sure they were as safe as they could. I was 19 and already promoted to the rank of First Sergeant when one of the missions went high wire. We were escorting a convoy with a dangerous prisoner but we were ambushed and heavily outnumbered. I helped to take my team out of the ambush, saved Locke but in effect, I was the one taken."
Danny grins like a madman, "go, go, go! Tell Higher Ups that their plans suck!" He shouts after Locke when he looks at Danny one last time. The mission comes first. He's as good as dead anyway. He shoots three more men before he's out of ammo, his eyes are swollen from the gas and he barely sees anything anymore. They shoot him through his shoulder and left leg but he doesn't let go even if the pain is burning hot. He hears the men shouting in their odd language and Danny recognizes ‘don't kill' and ‘take alive!' He doesn't have time to even think ‘fuck' when the world explodes in bright colors and his skull flourish with pain. Then there's darkness and silence and after that, there's pain, bone-deep crushing pain.
"I spent 4 months in captivity, tortured for secrets I would never tell them but it didn't mean I couldn't feed them some false information by the end when I was sure they were going to kill me. It gave me the extra time to execute my plan. If I was going to die I wanted to do it on my own terms."
Chin looks startled by the revelation and Danny doesn't blame him. It's not easy to go back to that particular memory.
"Danny.." Kono makes a move to touch him, eyes wide and lips quivering.
Danny shakes his head and looks up, the clouds taking on a deep grey color now. The memory of cold and heat, water and sand fill him for a second, his skin itches with the echo of pain. He takes a deep breath, "Higher ups thought I was dead but my team refused to believe that and eventually they got permission for the rescue, by the time they found me I was halfway through to freedom and with information about the enemy bases. My captors didn't think much of me, a greenhorn on the short side couldn't possibly be any treat, they didn't even know what rank I held." Danny shrugs. "They were wrong, they underestimated me and they paid the highest price for it. They should know better after weeks of torture that I'm not someone to break easily…" he pauses and flicks his hand clearing his throat. "Anyway the point is, every time they took me out of my cell I mapped the place out, planning my escape."
He rolls his shoulders. "I was given a second Lieutenant rank after that, not sure if it was to placate me or what, not long after that I passed my psych tests and went into 75th regiment training and after successfully ending it I became a part of it."
Chin stares at him, making him feel queasy. That silent calculating look always had that effect on Danny. "And the Delta Force?"
"I was pretty driven back then, got a chance to lead a few op's, very successfully I may add and I landed a Captain rank." It was more complicated than that and a whole lot harder but there wasn't really time to go into specifics and Danny didn't particularly want to.
"Gloating much?" Kono asks smirking and Danny shrugs his shoulders.
"It's the truth. By 24 my drive and focus landed me in the Unit. Somewhere along the way in the four years I spent in the Unit I was promoted to Colonel. My squad put a lot of nasty scumbags where they belonged and it's where it gets ugly for me."
"No," Kono exclaims and Danny can see in her eyes that she has an idea why his past in military is nonexistent.
He sighs, "yes." He threads his fingers through his hair trying to get his thoughts together. "Like I said we put a lot of dangerous people where they belonged. Whether in the prison or in the ground," he glances at the cousins, Chin blinks but otherwise, he looks calm; Kono looks a little white but her jaw is set and her eyes are telling everything he has to know, he swallows and relaxes. "There was a particularly dangerous criminal that we were pursuing, although a world ‘criminal' is not really adequate. He was a monster, he didn't care if his victims were men, women, or children, old, young or infants. He enjoyed killing and the bodies were always mutilated beyond recognition. He sold some of the organs on the black market and the others…" He pinches the bridge of the nose trying to disperse the images of what the Unit found in his hideout just before they finally caught him, "the others… he ate." Just thinking about that man twist Danny's gut and makes him cold.
Kono shakes, squeezing her eyes shut. Chin tugs at her arm and she leans on him letting out a shuddering breath. Chin doesn't look better but the look in his eyes is hard and if Grantino was still alive, Danny's sure that Chin would do everything to catch him.
"Wo Fat is like a baby duck compared to this Psychopath." Danny would give everything to just forget that part of his life. "Officially Grantino was a prominent businessman, unofficially a murderer for hire. Had his fingers in every important event that led up to military conflicts, economy crashes etc. He led a double life and he was a damn good about it until he slipped and Interpol put a target on him." Danny made his life mission to catch him after he learned about the horrors that man was involved in. "After two years we got him, but it wasn't enough. I traced every business related to him, his every associate, I went through every nook and cranny to destroy everything he put his fingers on. Wanted to be sure he won't be able to pay his way out or anything. At the time I thought I did the right thing but soon enough I regretted I didn't put him down when I could." He tries to stop the shiver going through his body, tries to keep the shudder out of his voice but he can't. Kono steps aside from Chin and shuffles closer to Danny to put her arms around him the second time this day. Chin has his eyes closed and there's pain on his face. He's a smart man, he must've already figured out what followed on Danny's voice alone.
"I was honorary discharged when Grace was around five years old, deciding that I lost enough of my baby girl growing up. Unfortunately, it was also a time when that Abomination escaped prison and since I was the one who put him in there he wanted to find me, and he was a dangerous and insane cold blooded killer, highly intelligent. Once the word went out that he looks on the revenge on me the Army wiped my military records and made me some fake background in working for the police and the only people who knew were my buddies from the unit, few generals and of course the most important people in the US. Hiding my identity was easy enough. We were like ghosts, the Unit, the criminals we were after rarely saw our faces and those who did… were dead." He pauses to scratch his chin, he wants to cross his arms over his chest but Kono makes it a little hard clinging to him like that. "There's a file with my original records but if you don't know where or what you're looking for, you won't find it. Anyway, that madman kidnapped my old CO and Baker was one tough son of a bitch but that scumbag tortured him first just for the kicks of it and then drugged him to the gills. That way he found out where to find me but instead of me he got to my mother to lure me out."
Kono gasps and holds him tighter. "My Ma can be a little silly and obnoxious at times but she's not a weak woman, a survivor she is." He says fondly although he wishes she didn't have to go through this at all. He sighs, "that's the reason I didn't really tell you… because if the…"
"Less people know the better because you can be tough but drugs will take everything out of you." Chin finishes for him and Danny nods.
"You talk about him in past tense so I guess you got rid of him?" Kono asks, her voice is muffled, he pats her on the shoulder and she reluctantly lets him go.
"I put him down, yes." Without hesitation and he would do it a million times over. "Okay, enough of it, some of my old teammates will be there any minute now, so we should get ready." He points at the bags full of weapons and then at the plane. His teammates, bless them, go straight to the task. They take the bags full of firearms of all sorts, including the RPG launcher which Kono was leering at the whole time they were here and take them into the plane. The plane that would alarm everyone if not for the fact that part of the Navy was stationing near China borders. They load the bags into the plane in a companionable silence which Danny's grateful for at least until his boisterous ex-teammates arrive.
They make their way to the last of the bags when Chin stops and Danny almost bumps into him, Kono snorts at that, he glares but she just grins in response. He opens his mouth to say that he has no respect around here when he catches something with the corner of his eye. Something that must be the reason Chin stopped so abruptly. He sidesteps him to have a better look.
"Wild Cat!" Rodriguez shouts once he catches the sight of him and Danny grimaces.
Chin glances at him with a raised brow, but the upward curve of his lip says a different story and Danny wants the earth to swallow him whole. "Wild Cat? And you're making fun of Steve's nickname?" Chin asks trying to hold in the amusement but clearly failing.
Kono just laughs, a choked up giggle full of hiccups and shaking. If Steve was here he would be smirking down at him and then make fun of him once they were in the Camaro.
Danny sighs, "mine at least has to do with an actual cat, big and dangerous, one that lives in a jungle and not the sad and ridiculous attempts at picking someone up, besides I still think Steve's nickname is ironical." He says as his old Unit buddies walk up to them. They look too cheerful for a potentially dangerous mission like this, he used to be like this, too he thinks absentmindedly.
Really though as much as he wanted to forget his past life he couldn't deny that he missed those guys.
"Shut it, Rodriguez." He shouts pulling the man into a bear hug once he is in the arms reach. A strong smell of tobacco hits him and he wrinkles his nose. "Ugh, you stink."
Rodriguez steps back and punches him in the arm with a little too much force than necessary; well he always was like that. "Oh forgive me for offending your sensitive sensibilities."
"You're a jackass, you know it," Danny says drily, glancing at the rest of the guys who just watch their exchange with a glint in their eyes like it was a show for the sole purpose of entertaining them.
He really missed them.
Rodrigues grins full of teeth, "my, my such compliment after all those years. How will I handle it."
Danny shakes his head and goes to greet the others. "Remind me why did I call him again?" He asks McCoy who snorts pulling at Danny's arm and bumping their shoulders in a way of greeting.
"Beats me, must be the temporary lapse of judgment."
The rest of the guys erupt in laughter while they pull Danny into a group hug. He winces a bit since he falls a little bit short compared to them and right now he kind of feels like a ragdoll.
"He's the best pilot out there and you know it." Boon nods his head at Rodriguez and then at the plane, he whistles when his eyes land on the piece of machinery, "look at that beauty, who did you kill to put your hands on this?"
Rodriguez smirks and bows, "thank you for defending my honor."
Boon rolls his eyes and then looks at Danny who sighs.
"No one. Admiral of the fucking Navy decided to make a grand gesture." He swishes his hand in the air to make his point how much he despised the man who agreed to put Steve in danger.
Hudson pats him on the shoulders, "uh uh like we'll believe that."
"Believe whatever you want, now if you guys let me I want to introduce you to my teammates."
Lane perks at that and once he sees Kono he winks at her and Danny whacks him over the head even if the man is easily taller than Steve.
Danny looks at Kono and Chin who look at each other, identical expressions on their faces, a little quirk of lips and raised brows. He internally curses because those faces, they mean business, embarrassing business and they don't have time for that. They're going for Steve and they don't know if he's even alive and yet they look relaxed. Then he thinks that maybe they need exactly that, a distraction from the mission at least before they reach China borders where they'll meet with another two of his associates. He shakes his head to focus on the task at present, he walks to his two friends and points first at Chin, "Chin Ho Kelly, good with tech, master of Zen and quick on his feet." Then he claps Kono's shoulder, "and this is Kono Kalakaua, great with firearms, resident sniper and smart as a whip," he glares at Lane, "and she would kick your ass eight ways to Sunday."
Lane laughs holding his hands up. "All right, all right."
Danny rubs his temple, "Ok enough of it. The blonde Yeti of a flirt is Ricky Lane, he's crazy about weapons so unfortunately, you have something in common." He glances at Kono and he doesn't like a challenge that seeps into her face, there's going to be competition between the two he's sure of it.
He feels the wind picking up so he hurries up before they're going to be drenched in rain. "The guy next to him, brunet with the outrageous mohawk is Neal Hudson, vast medical knowledge which includes all sorts of toxins, too."
"Nice to meet ya." Hudson drawls leaning on Lane and saluting which make Kono giggle. She enjoys the situation too much.
"The redhead with a scar over his eye is Mike Boon, tech specialist," He turns to look at Chin, "you can bond over that techy mambo jumbo,"
Boon groans pulling his face into hands and peeking through his fingers at them, "mambo jumbo, really?" He lets his hands fall down and looks at Chin, "so he's still ignorant when it comes to the wonders of the newest technology?" He makes a horrified expression when Chin nods solemnly.
"You should see him trying to work how to use our screen table."
Danny snorts at the wide eyes Boon makes at the mention of the tech table.
"You have a screen table?"
Chin looks entirely too smug. Danny's not sure if he ever saw that particular expression on his friend's face. Like ever.
"No way." Boon makes a whiny noise when he looks at Danny. "When we come back, you're going to show it to me."
Danny nods with a deep sigh, "yes whatever, I'm sure Chin will gladly show you around."
For such big lug of a man as Boon, he sure looks like an overgrown, overexcited kid on a Christmas Eve. Danny shakes his head and looks at McCoy.
"The other redhead is Kelly McCoy, explosive expert extraordinaire and the only person in the Unit that understood my annoyance with the guy over there," he points at the last member of the Delta Force team he was a part of, "and that leaves us, Marc Rodriguez. Our pilot and a crazy person."
Rodriguez clasps his hand over his heart making a wounded noise, "Cambodia wasn't my fault!" He says with a theatrical shudder, "it's because of me we're alive!"
"Well… it's because of Danny that we're alive but your skills certainly came in handy." McCoy notes exchanging looks with Danny.
Once the pleasantries are exchanged they go into the plane taking the rest of the bags with the guns that make the guys excited beyond reason. Rodriguez pats him on the shoulder and chuckles, "it'll be like Istanbul!" He exclaims and Danny groans hiding his face in his hands. Kono perks at that.
Hudson smiles, "good times."
Danny glares at them, he has ‘ it's classified' on the tip of his tongue but he bites his lip, letting out a frustrated sigh instead.
Lane laughs, "you know Danny is the craziest person I know, seriously."
Kono stops at the steps to the plane with a ‘no way' written all over her face. "Danny?" She asks incredulously.
"Yeah, he always wanted to do things by the," he makes air quotes, "book, which was crazy because nothing in the missions we were assigned for could be handled by the ‘book'."
Chin sudden laugh startles Danny, Kono's not far behind, "by the book, you say." Chin lets out between laughing. Danny wonders why he called his old team again.
Boon shakes his head taking off where Lane stopped, "no seriously, the craziest thing is, he managed to do just that and it shouldn't be possible and yet he made it happen."
McCoy nods his heads furiously and Danny's worried for a second that he'll get a whiplash from how energetic he's doing it. "Yeah, and the Istanbul was exceptional because…"
"Because Rodriguez got kidnapped on an unauthorized mission that leads to another unauthorized mission to save his ridiculous ass?" Danny cuts in, raising a brow.
Rodriguez flings his arms around Danny's shoulders, "Nah, it's because you broke at least sixty different laws and rules by launching this mission to save little ‘ol me." He slides his arm down and looks seriously at Danny; his demeanor a stark contrast to the playful one from moments ago. "And now you're ready to risk at least a hundred of them to save McGarrett… not only that, you're ready to risk not only your life but a life of your family and every person you care for, for this guy. Must be really important."
He closes his eyes, he forgets how insightful Rodriguez can be when he's not being a ridiculous jerk.
"He is." He says after a long moment. "That's why we need to go."
"As you wish Wild Cat."
Kono mumbles under her breath and he knows with bone-deep certainty that she's going to pull out of his ex-team the story behind the nickname. He looks out of the window as Rodriguez gets cozy in the pilot cabin, the rest of the guys, past and present take their seats. He feels cold anticipation and adrenaline slowly pumping through his veins and they didn't even take off the ground yet.
As he hears the people around him talking, he makes a silent oath to himself that he's going to destroy everything that's going to stand in his way to Steve.
"Sooo… Wild Cat." He hears Kono say and his mouth quiver in attempt to stop a chuckle. He cracks a smile though, he misses Bobby as ridiculous as it sounds. She was a big, scary but surprisingly cuddly jaguar.
He wiggles in the seat and starts planning their extraction plan.
"We made an emergency landing in a jungle…" Hudson starts when McCoy cuts in.
"You mean when we were shouted out of the sky in the storm of the century?"
Danny shakes his head and lets the noises swarm over him.
Just a few more hours and everything will come to a head. They take off just as the first droplets of rain hit the ground.