A/N: Hey all! This latest episode of Steve H/C is brought to you by the lovely Last Dreamer, who posted a wonderful challenge that I just couldn't pass up. It's going to be shorter than the last story… I hope… so be on the lookout for something quicker this time around. Of course, you never know with me. NYAP was supposed to be 15k words and, well, I wrote more than twice that.

In any case, I will try my hardest for a quickie. I should be in and out in a jiff and you won't even know I was there.

Please, someone make an awkward sexual joke about that.

Enjoy!

Luna.

Disclaimer: All recognizable characters, plotlines, and snappy catchphrases belong to CBS studios. No profit is being made in the publication of this story.


"Do you want to know the five stages of drowning?"

Steve looked up from the file he was reading, surprised. Sure, Danny had been pacing his office with short but angry strides for the last several minutes, but up until that point he hadn't made any attempt to actually communicate with his partner.

"You know," he replied, smirking at his agitated partner, "I think I once had a test on the five stages of drowning." He pretended to think about it for a moment. "Uh... yeah, I did. It was right before I had four hours of cold water conditioning. Actually, I think I may have had a job that had something to do with the water, too, at some point…"

"Yeah, yeah, I get it. Navy SEAL knows how to drown. Can't you just let me rant?" Danny replied, throwing his hands in the air and glaring at Steve.

"Why are you ranting?"

"Because some bastard named Niko managed to get himself gutted. On a boat. A boat that is currently floating miles off the coast. In the ocean. Where people drown."

Steve eyed his partner; Danny's stance was aggressive and annoyed. In fact, it was how he usually addressed Steve. Having his partner's irritation directed at something else was a nice change. It didn't explain anything, though, so Steve was just as confused as he was before Danny started talking.

"Okay," he replied slowly, "so Niko is fish food. What's your point?"

"My point is that HPD decided 'off the coast' was not their jurisdiction and your goddamn useless Navydecided a guy getting murdered in the ocean wasn't a priority, either. So guess who gets to go get a dead guy on a boat. We do."

Steve frowned. "Where was I for all of this?"

"Holed up in your office since we got here three hours ago, cell phone- less, doing whatever it is you do in here. The governor sends her love, and says that you are no longer in a country with one cell tower and no service. She kindly requests that you answer her calls."

"I always answer her calls. I just… got distracted." Steve looked around, not believing he'd spent the better part of three hours sitting in his chair, doing paperwork of all things. It truly was a waste a beautiful morning.

"I can see that. The point is, though, that this is all your fault." Danny gave him another glare.

"My fault? I didn't gut your guy Niko, Danno, and I don't recall driving him out into the ocean, either." Steve smirked at his partner's tense form.

"No, but you're the governor's bitch. And you're the one who wasn't around to answer the call. And you're in the Navy-"

"So this is my fault because I'm in the Navy?"

"Yes." Danny nodded to reaffirm his words.

"And remind me again what I'm at fault for?"

"You are the reason I now have to go out into the middle of the fucking oceanto find a guy who's too dead to care about who killed him anyway."

"Aah," Steve said, nodding in mock concern, "of course."

"I hate you, Steve McGarrett."

"Not as much as you hate the water."

"More."

Steve couldn't help but laugh. Danny reminded him of a surly teenager who'd just been told he had to do his homework.

"That's harsh, brah. Tell you what," Steve offered, standing up to stretch out, "you finish this mindless paperwork, and I'll go see your guy Niko. How's that?"

Danny looked like he was seriously contemplating the idea. His eyebrows rose thoughtfully, but he frowned a moment later.

"I understand you think you're a superhero," he said, "but I still can't in good faith, and for the sake of the Hawaiian people, release you into the ocean by yourself."

Steve rolled his eyes; leave it to Danny to be so concerned about water. "I'm a SEAL Daniel. It's just a little water."

"I don't trust it. And I don't trust you." Danny didn't actually sound all that concerned, so Steve was sure his partner was really just inadvertently ranting about how nefarious the ocean was, and not trying to make sure Steve would be okay.

"I'm hurt."

"Will you at least take Chin or Kono, you big schmuck?"

"They're coming back from Maui, remember? They won't be back until this afternoon."

"Right…" Danny still looked apprehensive about letting Steve go out on his own.

Steve came over to put a hand on Danny shoulder placatingly. "Relax, Danno," he said, "With all the things you bitch about me doing on land, the last thing you should be concerned about is me in the water."

Danny grunted, but it seemed as though his need to catch a killer outweighed his distrust of the ocean.

"Fine. I will finish all of your goddamn paperwork, and you can go play in the water with a dead guy."

"That's so… wrong."

"You're funny," Danny said sarcastically. He moved past Steve, sat down at the too- big office chair and pulled himself up to the desk. "Run along now." He sounded like a teacher.

Steve let out a mocking sigh. "But Principal Williams," he pleaded with a small smirk, "I don't want to go back to class. It's so boring."

Danny gave him a look that was surprisingly similar to a chastising professor.

"It's a good thing you went to an academy, or else your teenage insolence would never have been beaten out of you."

"That's rude," Steve replied with a laugh. "Don't forget the pink forms go to the governor's office."

Danny gave him a noncommittal sort of grunt, already efficiently filling out names and dates in their rightful places. Steve, satisfied, turned on his heel and marched out of the door and through the main room of the building

"Call when you're done!" Danny yelled from the office just as Steve reached the end of the hall.

"Yes dear!" He called back before continuing out and letting the door swing closed behind him.


It was unfortunate that Danny detested the water so violently, because it was truly a stunning thing; the gently lapping waves and crystal clear blue color were mesmerizing to any normal human being, Steve included. Even growing up in Hawaii, you never really got over the simply beauty of the place.

Of course, to anyone from a place where concrete was the main manufactured good and clean water was the kind that came to your home in pipes, it could be a little daunting. It didn't excuse Danny, though, so Steve reserved the right to heckle the Jersey Native mercilessly.

The ride out the murder sight was quick, thanks to the very fast speedboat HPD had so kindly let Steve borrow for the rest of the morning. Of course, the deputy in charge of the vessel had almost wet himself under Steve's glare before stuttering out a barely discernible "okay," but what was really important was that Steve had a boat and HPD didn't have to clean up a crime that was their responsibility. Everybody was happy. Except the deputy of course.

Steve took a quiet pleasure in cutting silently through the water for the few minutes that it took to find his floating crime scene; he would never get over the humbling feeling that came with being the only one around for miles in a vast, watery desert. It was more peaceful out there than it ever could be on land.

His reverie was cut short, however, when a white speck appeared in the distance. It grew steadily larger as Steve neared it, and it was proving to be much more than a boat. The yacht was massive- a hundred feet long- with several decks and more space than one person should be allowed to have in a single vehicle. Steve gave a mental groan, realizing how long it was going to take to investigate a murder on a ship of this magnitude.

Sighing, he killed the engine of his boat, roped it to the yacht, and climbed aboard the larger vessel. The deck of the ship was just as luxurious as it appeared from afar, but it was also void of any bodies, live or otherwise.

"Danno, you owe me big," Steve muttered to himself, shaking his head and drawing his gun. Methodically, he moved deeper into the vessel, searching room after room for the body supposedly on the ship.

Finally, after what felt like hours, Steve opened the door of boiler room in the lowest level of the yacht and found Niko. The man was spread eagled on the floor in a pool of his own blood. His neck had been slashed open viciously as well as his stomach, and his insides were gruesomely displayed atop his chest like some kind of horrible surgery.

Holstering his weapon, Steve moved closer to the body. Niko hadn't been dead for long, and the room was thankfully void of the smell of decay. The wounds on his neck and chest were jagged and harsh, and it appeared as though Niko was sliced from behind and killed right there. Why he was slashed was a mystery, but- if the tattoo on his arm was any indication- Steve could guess it was gang related. Which only produced more questions, like what the hell a gangbanger was doing on a luxury yacht.

Steve crouched down and peered closely at the man called Niko, trying to discern any possible motive for someone wanting to kill him that wasn't gang related. He came up empty.

"Well," he said, addressing the body, "you're just going to make a huge mess for me, aren't you, Niko?" He continued to ponder motive even as he moved to examine the body.

A quiet beep interrupted Steve's reverie. Quirking his head, he reached into Niko's pants pocket and pulled out an old cell phone, cheaply made and bedraggled, that more closely resembled a child's toy than a piece of modern technology. He brought it close to him to locate the source of the beeping in the dimly lit room.

It was a timer.

Steve was a Navy man born and raised, and eleven years in the service had taught him many things. It taught him when to be a Commander and when to be a friend. It taught him when to be a hero and stand up for his country. And it taught him when to run like hell.

All of which were reasons why Steve didn't think twice before dropping the cell phone, turning on his heel, and sprinting back up the stairs towards the deck of the yacht. Even as he ran, though, his gut told him it wasn't going to be enough.

It wasn't. He just made it to the front section of the yacht and was about to climb the stairs to the deck when all hell broke loose. A huge explosion rocked the back of the ship as fire burst from the boiler room. Steve was thrown bodily forward as heat and flames tore through the vessel behind him. His head connected with…something… and he felt only a sharp pain and saw a burst of light before succumbing to the embracing darkness.

Around him, the boat continued to rock and shudder under relentless explosive power.

TBC


A/N: First chappy of my very first challenge response. All my love to the lovely Last Dreamer- whose idea I'm commandeering. Reviews are nice, but so is just reading the story. Stick around! Next one up soon.