"We're on an island with less than a million people, which means the bad guys know the good guys." Chin Ho Kelly, episode 1.01
When the Governor of Hawaii instated a task force dedicated to 'cleaning up the island,' certain people took notice. They speculated about the personnel, what their exact job description would be, if there was an actual difference between them and a regular SWAT team, and if they really would be dedicated to 'cleaning up' just that one island of the chain.
When it was discovered that the task force members were, respectively, a Navy SEAL, a homicide detective from the mainland, a disgraced ex-cop and a former beach bunny turned rookie, certain people shot each other puzzled e-mails that read, in a variety of languages, "are they shitting us with this?"
When word got around that this task force was to operate somewhat outside the law, certain people leaned back in their chairs, indignant. After all, what use was police procedure if it couldn't protect you from the authorities unfairly shutting down your carefully-planned illegal operation?
But Five-0 had a stupid name and was four people, like, in total, so no one took them too seriously.
Then the rumors started.
It quickly became apparent that "means and jurisdiction" didn't mean searches without warrants or the illegal hacking of e-mail accounts. It didn't even mean information obtained through careful application of the good old phone-book-to-bodypart method of interrogation.
No, "means and jurisdiction" meant that those Five-0 guys went fucking nuts.
Within the first few weeks, they hung a guy off a roof, tied another to the hood of a car and sped through downtown Honolulu without a care for traffic lights, and threw a third into a shark tank. A shark tank. And they almost blew up a witness with a grenade, a fucking grenade, Jesus wept, what kind of police force was this? How did one even lawyer up against them?
But it was Sang Min who really made those certain people sit up and take notice.
"I should have played along with their undercover thing," he said mournfully, watching Kono Kalakaua kick ass on shaky news footage on the grainy rec-room TV. "She was spicy."
Because a particular type of bored and disillusioned criminal suddenly realized that this?
Was the only real thrill they were going to get.
There were rules, of course.
You could set up the initial scenario, but then you had to play along with the outlandish charade of the day. If Five-0 wanted to go undercover as gardeners, you'd let them landscape and would not comment on how Detective Williams didn't seem able to tell a lobelia from a hibiscus. If they wanted to be wait staff, then by god you'd eat their canapes and you would like them. Situational violence was okay, but you couldn't, say, let the two white guys start their pilot-and-mechanic thing and then show up in a helicopter and fucking shoot them out of the fucking sky, for fuck's sake, ruin the fun for everyone why don't you.
Anyway, you had to beat Five-0 at their own game and either make your escape, loot or no loot, or get book-'em-Dannoed and locked up for the foreseeable future. If you gave your minions live ammo, you had to be prepared to lose those minions in the resulting shoot-out. Along the way, you might expect surprise encounters that included, but were not limited to:
- tear gas
- sniper rifles
- a motorcycle to the face
- Steve McGarrett in full jungle camouflage hitting you with a tree.
For some people, it was the best time in their entire life.
Then the internet got in on it.
On Tumblr, teenagers, young adults and career criminals reblogged each other's candids of the Five-0 members in various states of undress with comments like, "omg that is so hot" and "ikr :D" and "^^this." They also reblogged gif sets of the team in action, adding drool emojis, and started heated discourses over whether or not McGarrett was secretly in love with Detective Williams. Pretty much all of them were variations of "He has a girlfriend!" versus "But look his hand is almost on Danny's ass!"
On Vine, a deep voice with a strong Eastern European accent narrated a six-second clip of Chin Ho Kelly strolling out of the ocean, surfboard under one arm, with the words, "There he comes. Ohh, look at that. Mmmmm. I think my ovaries just exploded." The 1,238,473 viewers thought that The Russian Dude was very funny. Also, very right. The select few who recognized the voice as belonging to a certain transgender Ukranian gun runner who'd had people shot in in exquisitely painful places for daring to comment on his underabundant facial hair, let alone his ovaries, wisely kept this to themselves.
On Instagram, a young woman gained several thousand followers when she posted a slightly blurred photo of Detective Danny Williams in front of a whiteboard with the word Jeffries on it. She titled it "Detective Williams is undercover in my econ class!!! <3" The comment section overwhelmingly read "omg glasses!"
On private message boards, those with a more professional interest in the proceedings posted crime scene photos with the captions "Ohh, he almost had them!" and "That could have gone so wrong!" and "fucking wo fat istg."
But on every platform, sooner or later, the inevitable question was asked: "They do know they've been on TV, right? In newspapers? The internet???"
To which the equally inevitable answer was: "No. No, I don't think they do. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯"
Because Five-0 could access federal databases and hack international bank accounts, but they'd apparently never heard of social media.
Then came Undercover Bingo Month.
It was a locked message board that was only accessible to verified career criminals. Everyone who'd signed up got a random card. On it were nine undercover situations that varied from the simply outlandish to the downright insane. The first three people to complete their entire cards could win prizes; first come, first choose.
The prizes were:
- Two tickets for the next big shindig with guaranteed Five-0 presence, complete with cover identity, for the chance to meet the team in person without the involvement of tear gas, sniper rifles, a motorcycle to the face, or Steve McGarrett in full jungle camouflage hitting you with a tree.
- A guaranteed break-out from Halawa, meaning that Five-0 could chase you all over again and maybe you'd have better luck this time. Or you could get away, but where was the fun in that?
- The location of a stash of drug money that was either slowly gathering dust or slowly rotting away on the Big Island, depending on how well it had been waterproofed.
Everyone agreed that the second prize was kinda lame, but on the whole the event was a fun idea. Criminals from all over the world were taking part.
Some of them didn't even cheat.
Leonid Dimitriadis was 23 years old, a forger, and about to be very rich. He had a suitcase full of legitimate bonds he'd just exchanged for a stack of fake ones. He had a get-away plan that involved a submarine and was therefore practically foolproof. He even had the perfect, awful weather to erase his tracks.
But best of all, he had Williams and McGarrett undercover as a gay couple in the holiday resort where the deal had gone down, which let him cross out that last open square on his bingo card.
He'd thought his card would put him out of the game right from the start, mainly because of the Undercover As Mermaids square. But thanks to a group of orchid smugglers, a Dolphin Princess Ball for tourist kids, and Lou Grover, of all people, that square had actually been filled early on.
And there he'd always thought that Grover was the sane one.
Anyway, he was this close, this close to being the first to call bingo, when behind him he heard footsteps squelch through the muddy grass and someone call out, "Five-0, hands in the air! Turn around, come on!" quickly followed by, "Drop the case!"
Which once again made him wonder how these people expected criminals to know what the hell Five-0 even was, but not what its members looked like. It was a mystery for the ages.
But it looked like he'd have to pick the second prize, after all. Leonid sighed, let the suitcase fall into the mud where it landed with a muted squelch, and raised his hands as he slowly turned around. He was standing close to a small ornamental pond, its surface pounded by the rain. McGarrett and Williams stood a few feet away, both with guns pointed at him. They were still wearing their undercover-as-civilians clothes, which in McGarrett's case meant jeans instead of cargo pants and for Williams... Leonid squinted. Was that a Navy logo on his t-shirt? He couldn't quite make it out through the rain, but thought it might be. If only Tumblr could see this.
An insanely strong gust of wind whipped into his face, and he was about to tell them okay, he surrendered, could they please get out of this weather, when two things happened in quick succession.
First, another gust of wind hit a heavy iron... thing – partition? Leonid had never paid much attention to park and garden stuff – at exactly the wrong angle and somehow broke it off its two slim feet.
Second, the partition hit McGarrett in the back.
The impact sounded painful enough that Leonid winced in automatic sympathy, but McGarrett didn't make a sound as he was flung forward, into the pool. The partition fell after him, landing on top of the pool like the cover of a well. Williams shouted in alarm, his yells of "Steve!" taking on more urgency as it became clear that McGarrett wasn't even trying to come up. The partition must have knocked him out.
Williams shot him a look, seemed to waver for a second, and then he holstered his gun and bent down to pull the iron partition off the pool. McGarrett's back was just visible through the furious wind and rain, motionless in the water. Williams' feet skidded in the mud. The partition didn't budge.
Holy shit, Leonid thought, the SEAL is going to drown.
He bent down to grab his suitcase, get away now that McGarrett was down and Williams distracted, but... shit.
Leonid splashed to where Williams was pulling at the partition with increasing desperation, cursing himself all the while. He crouched down, tangled his fingers in the cold, wet metal, and yelled, "On three!"
He didn't know why Williams laughed at that, a frantic sound, but on three, they both pulled. The partition dragged through the mud. "Again!" Williams shouted. They pulled again. On the fourth try, the partition slid far enough off the pool for Williams to scramble to the water and yank at McGarrett, heave him out of there. He yelled McGarrett's name, like that might wake him up. McGarrett's face was as ashen as Williams'.
"Is he breathing?" Leonid shouted, because he might be a forger now but he'd spent a summer as a life guard in Mykonos. Before Williams could answer, McGarrett started coughing up water on his own, so he couldn't have inhaled too much.
Leonid stood up and looked down at them, Williams cradling McGarrett like he was a precious thing and making soothing noises as McGarrett groaned. If only Tumblr could see this.
"I will go now," he informed Williams, his voice uncertain to his own ears.
Williams just waved at him, like Leonid wasn't wanted in seventeen nations and about to add an eighteenth to the list. Leonid huffed out a breath, shook his head at himself, and ran.
Turned out the submarine had been pushed too close to the beach and was stranded. No matter.
Somehow, Leonid didn't think anyone would stop him from leaving the island.
Tumblr was indeed all over the fake married couple thing. Someone, possibly a member of the resort staff, had taken several candid pictures that showed:
- McGarrett and Williams holding hands on the beach
- McGarrett grinning affectionately at Williams, who seemed to be grousing at a brightly yellow cocktail
- Williams grinning affectionately at McGarrett, who seemed to be grousing at his salad
- Williams and McGarrett, fingers tangled, with Williams leaning up as McGarrett was leaning down, their lips a breath away from touching
They got even more notes than Grover in his mermaid costume.