Chapter 12: All's Well as Ends Well
Danny listened to the deep breathing of his team mates. Steve was once more beside him on the bed; Chin and Kono across from him on the other bed. The nightmare had hit him hard, a kaleidoscope of dying and dead children.
Willing his heart to slow down he took careful breaths. Normally all three room mates would have been awake, all light sleepers. But the previous day's excursion had worn them out and they slept as hard as they played. Not wanting to wake them Williams slid carefully out of bed and made his way out to the kitchen.
A loud, long snore caused him to smirk. Seems besides being suave and sophisticated Tony Dinozzo could saw the wood like his old college room mate. He glanced at the moonlit face of the NCIS team leader and wondered how he could sleep through it. With a slight shrug he moved into the kitchen silently searching the fridge for a snack.
His search paid off with a slice of peach pie (really, frozen pies were wonderful things) and a large mug of warmed milk. With a sigh he settled at the table and looked out over the moonlight painted snow and trees.
On silent wings an owl soared past. He wondered if it was heading back to its nest. The snoring that had provided a comfortable background noise suddenly stuttered and he listened to the man shift grumpily.
"Mo-om! I was just..." the voice drifted back to sleep (Danny doubted he'd even come close to the surface) and the more definite sound of feet on the floor heading to the bathroom. He stretched his shoulders and neck before lifting another bite to his mouth.
A soft swish of flushing and distinct sound of water in the sink. The bathroom door barely disturbed the newly achieved silence. A body moved into the kitchen and he heard the tinkle of condiment bottles as the fridge door opened. Choosing not to see who was up he sipped at his mug.
A few moments later another mug and plate of pie settled on the table. Gibbs' silver hair nearly white in the moon's glow. A pan of warmed milk poured and the rest slipped into William's own.
They sat in silence, comfortable, as the snowy scene continued to dominate their attention. A deer moved towards a pile of hay that was piled in a discreet feeder. The lodge found it best to leave out a little food hence a variety of animals stayed content and provided 'ambiance'.
After a few pulls at the fodder the deer looked up, completely on alert, then darted off quickly.
"Pretty thing," Danny finally broke the quiet. Jethro preferred nodding slightly in reply. Another bite and sip.
"Surprised you're awake," he observed. His companion shrugged.
"After all the exercise you got," Gibbs continued, "plus the meds I figured you'd be the last one up." Another shrug.
"How long does it take to get back to sleeping the night?" he tried another tack. On his part Danny considered the question before once more shrugging. So Jethro tried silence.
"The first week is always the worst," the withdrawn man quietly said. "Then if I get busy at work the nightmares taper off."
"Change once you went to 5-0?" Gibbs asked, curious.
"Still have the nightmares," Williams admitted, "but the team, Steve especially, they stay close. Never had anyone remotely interested in helping me through 'em before, including the ex-wife."
"I haven't had anyone since my wife," Gibbs took a forkful of pie. "Many years ago." He didn't count the three ensuing mistakes.
"Damn nuisance," Danny commiserated. "Not sure how it feels to have back-up after all this time. But... not so lonely. I certainly don't drink as much."
"There is that," Gibbs agreed. "I keep building boats in my basement and drinking too much whisky." He'd never said that aloud before.
"Yeah, bet you do it all by hand," Danny sipped at his mug. "I cook. Especially food my Grandmother made. And drink."
"Ok, we both have healthy outlets and unhealthy outlets," the older man tapped his mug against the younger's.
"You got a good team," Williams commented. "A big dysfunctional family like my own team. They'd be willing to help. Not necessarily in ways you'll be comfortable with at first. I mean, I don't generally sleep with men..."
"You heard him snore," Gibbs chuckled in his mug.
"Tim? Ziva?" he teased.
"Ziva," Gibbs smiled at the memory of a past stake-out. Dinozzo whined for days at how loud the woman snored.
"You don't have to do the sleep in bed thing," Danno shrugged. "Go out after a case, have a bar-b-que on an off day. Go bowling." He considered that a moment.
"What?" he was prompted.
"None of you have an issue with losing, do you?" he asked innocently pretty much knowing the answer.
"Naw," Gibbs smirked. "I never lose."
"Danno?" a sleepy Steve stumbled into the kitchen. Honestly, he looked like a little boy searching for his teddy with his hair sticking out all over.
"Hey Super Seal, just having a midnight snack with Jethro and another round of meds," he said. "You go lie down, I'll be right there."
"Sure?" came the extremely drowsy reply.
"Sure, big guy, go sleep," he said gently. They watched as the Navy Seal stumbled back into bed. Danny turned back to Gibbs.
"Of course, you get to see them in ways you'd never believe," he commented.
"Got that right," he smirked.
"I wish I'd taken a picture," Danny sighed. "No one will believe me."
"I'll know," Jethro smiled. The two men rinsed their plates and cups leaving them for the morning. Danny popped one more pill then went back into the bedroom as the older man went back to his pull out. He glanced over at Tony. Yeah, the Hawaiian cop was right, not gonna sleep with either of the heavy snorers! But the idea of cook-outs...
With a 1pm flight the NCIS team were given first access to bathroom while the Hawaiian team prepped breakfast. The heavenly scent of cinnamon was in the air and the east coast contingent happily dug into a french toast casserole.
"This one of Grandma's?" Jethro asked the blond-haired man.
"Yep, comfort food all the way," Danny agreed readily.
"We've threatened to make him our personal chief, but he refuses," Chin pointed out over his own plate of custardy goodness.
"Can I have the recipe?" Tim asked eagerly. He loved cooking. Gibbs looked at his youngest agent and remembered he always had something interesting to eat for days they didn't go out for lunch.
"Sure, I'll email it to you when we get home tomorrow night," Williams agreed.
"He said 'get home'!" Steve crowed. "I told you he loved Hawaii!" He received a withering look.
"Your move to the islands wasn't your first choice," Tony asked.
"Ex wife, sucky situation," Danny turned to Gibbs. "How the hell do you survive three?"
"With lots of Jack Daniels," he snorted, "and target practice."
"Ah," Williams nodded sagely. "I definitely improve with the right picture..." The two men shared a laugh.
By 10:30 the NCIS team left with promises of emails and shared digital images. Chin and Tim were already working on a movie of the skiing adventure which was worrying both Tony and Steve.
When the door closed the foursome went into the kitchen and settled down to fresh coffee. They sat enjoying the quiet of the morning.
"So, anything we should do today?" Steve asked no one in particular. The others considered.
"Hey, we've never built a snowman!" Kono said exuberantly. Her cousin smile indulgently, she was so young.
"And you promised me snow cream Danno!" Steve added with a pout.
Ok, the two of them were so young, but not necessarily in years.
"Yeah, I did," Williams said. "There's fresh snow out there so we'll try that later on. I think we have everything we'll need."
"We can build a snow man!" Kono clapped happily. Danny looked sideways at Chin, mischief in his eyes.
"Why don't we have a contest, see who can build the best snowman?" he suggested knowing full well about the competitiveness of this team. Chin had a hard time not snickering. Steve perked up immediately.
"Great! Two teams!" he said.
"I dibs Danny!" Kono said quickly and suffered a glare from her boss.
"I have no experience in snow," she did her best to look weak and inoffensive. "You have and Chin's done clay work. You two have more experience!" Danny said nothing happy to watch it play out.
"And Danny's injured so he can't do and heavy lifting!" was her decisive finish. McGarrett considered this a moment.
"Ok, but we're looking for traditional snow men, no unearthly creatures," he stipulated.
"No tanks, guns or torpedoes," Danny threw in for fun.
"Ah, bro! That's so unfair," Chin pretended to scowl.
"What's the prize?" Steve asked, quickly seconded by Kono. Danny thought a moment and then went into the bedroom carrying out a bag. He reached in and pulled out a stuffed moose wearing a Alpine Lodge t-shirt.
"Got it for Grace, but I can get something else," he said putting the creature on the table. Steve and Kono cast appraising eyes over the offering and agreed with a handshake.
"Judges?" Chin asked.
"We'll grab the host," said Steve.
"No fair intimidating him!" Danny cautioned. Steve gave him the most 'who me' innocent look he could muster.
"Ok, time limit?" Chin didn't want to freeze.
"Three hours should be enough for a decent snowman," Danny decided. "Probably less."
"We start in ten, let's get moving ladies!" Steve jumped up and charged for the bedroom followed closely by Chin.
"Aren't you going, too?" Kono asked.
"Naw, let 'em think a head start will help," he smirked.
The two-man team was out in the snow in record time. Kono was dragging Danny by his coat trying to hurry him on. They endured cat calls from the already mounding team.
"Ok, rookie, listen up," Williams took control back from the petite detective. He explained snow piling and packing. How many parts to the body. The need for the perfect accessories. She supplied all the energetic enthusiasm and happily began the cold work of assembling the snowman.
During the next two and a half hours three anxious Hawaiians stole covert glances at the opponent's work. After years and years of snow activities Danny felt like an indulgent elder uncle watching his nieces and nephews.
With sure gloves a three-level snow man appeared on Kono and Danny's side. An equally good snow man was being created on Chin and Steve's team. Fallen tree branches were located for the perfect arms and facial features created with rocks.
As they continued they didn't notice the whine of snow mobiles in the distance. The harsh roar grew louder and the Host, who'd been watching with amusement at the four adults and taking pictures for them, started to panic.
"Mr. Williams! Watch out!" he called gaining all four's attention. Snow mobilers whipped onto the lodge's ground spinning and kicking up snow. The wild shouts and hoots of the three riders cause all of them to stand up. Suddenly, one of the vehicles plowed through Kono's snowman completely destroying it as the laughter rained down.
When the riders had finished that run they had the audacity to turn around and head for the second snow man.
Very stupid move.
The lead rider slowed slightly to take aim at the snow man. Steve knocked him off his machine effortlessly and shoved his face into the snow. Before the other two riders could regroup and escape Kono and Chin sprang into action and dismounted them as well. Which left Danny to calmly walk around shutting off all the motors.
"Oh my heavens! I am soo sorry," the host was blithering. "We've had problems with them before but we've never been able to catch them!"
"The masks didn't help either," Danny said as he approached the three completely subdued vandals. "You want to call the cops?"
"Yes, of course! We've wanted to get them for a long time!" he scuttled into the lodge and called the police.
"He ruined my snowman!" Kono wailed. "We were gonna win!"
"You dudes are in for some major trouble," Danny commented surveying their prisoners. "Let's go inside, my feet are cold."
The three people were de-masked.
"Jimmy?" the host asked the twenty-something year old. "You work here!" The other two were about the same age. "They've been coming through every couple of weeks, just ripping up the snow and feeders. They never hurt anyone but they certainly have caused a lot of damage!"
The host was so thankful, shaking everyone's hands. Danny grinned and looked at his friends.
"So, anyone else glad we don't have to write these reports?" he asked.
"Terrorist snow mobilers attack defenseless snow man," Chin deadpanned.
"Vandal hamstrung by irate snow man builder," Kono added, glaring at the three men who squirmed in their seats.
"I don't think I want this to get back to the Governor," Steve said. "I don't know how we'd live it down." His team mates agreed somberly.
The police came in and hauled the threesome off on misdemeanor charges, their snowmobiles to be hauled off to lockup.
"Only could happen to us," Chin sighed as they trudged back to their cabin. One of the police officers handed him the camera after they'd downloaded pertinent pictures (the host had shot much of the destruction).
"Yeah, although not as dramatic as the shark tank," Danny put in cheerfully. "Or hanging a perp over the side of a building."
"You can't imagine how glad I am those weren't documented!" the older detective exclaimed. They shared a laugh as they stomped snow off their boots before going inside.
Of course the following day as they debarked in the Honolulu Airport in the bright, warm Hawaiian sunshine showed just how wrong they'd been. If there was one news reporter, there were fifty (Did they even have that many local media outlets?) and the Governor herself standing in the waiting area with leis adorning her arm. Snatching up a newspaper they quickly scanned the front page.
The newspaper headlines blared out:
"HAWAII'S OWN ASSISTS PRESIDENTIAL TASK FORCE IN CATCHING SERIAL KILLER"
A smaller caption under a picture from the snow mobile incident heralded:
"No Time for Play!"
see page 12 for additional pictures.
"Shoot me now," Chin groaned.