Fear, Not Love
Disclaimer: I do not own H50.
Spoilers: S2:Ep5 - Ma'ema'e
Summary: Steve's "apparent death" elicits certain feelings: some strong, some not so much, some slow burning. Steve/Kono at the heart of it, but some Danny moments thrown in for good measure, as well as Lori and Chin.
A/N: Just Steve and Kono in this chapter. Please let me know what you all think. BTW, the response has been overwhelming, thanks so very much for the reviews/comments, alerts and OMG, fave adds already?! Even if I haven't personally responded, I very much appreciate the review/comment.
Blame It On The Alcohol
# # #
The bar Steve picks is on North King Street and not their usual hangout.
It suits Kono fine, since their go to is situated in Waikiki and she can do without the tourists right now. Plus, Steve doesn't need to know, Kono reasons, that the times she's passed them up on their offers for after work drinks, she's actually come here because she kind of likes it. The odd shape of the room, the feel of it, the people, all of it. It doesn't really matter with who she comes with, does it? Or who she leaves with, whichever.
And if Steve picks up on the overly familiar, welcoming greeting that Kono is getting from the bartender as they sit at the bar, he doesn't let on. Besides, Steve refuses to be taken to the hospital and since he was able to tell her today's date, his own name, her name, and the president's name – she figures it's okay and cuts him some slack. He was after all, almost turned into kalbi today and as much as she likes barbecue, she kind of likes her boss the way he is – as hard headed as he may be.
Kono's watching him as he grabs his beer and takes a long and apparently, satisfying pull and finds herself smiling. "It's good," she says before taking a sip from her own bottle, her brown pools never leaving his bright blues.
"It sure the fuck is," Steve says exhaling heavily, and letting go of whatever tension he's been carrying since Waipahu, melt away.
"I wasn't talking about the beer, boss." She's noting the way Steve's eyes seem to roam across her face and she smirks. "It's good – that you're not dead." Kono tilts her bottle in his direction. Another smile tugs at her mouth, but this one she won't let go, because losing Steve is kind of a serious thing.
Steve snorts and turns on his stool to completely face her. "Yeah?" he asks rhetorically, because he knows he messed up earlier today. But then as he's looking at her, he realizes something. "You're so much like Chin, you know that?"
Kono's mid gulp and almost chokes. "Oh yeah? How so?" she asks smoothly. She's hoping he didn't catch how she almost had beer coming out of her nose, because she suddenly finds herself filling with pride at the comparison.
He huffs a little and glances at the kitschy, tropical decor of the bar before looking back at her. "I make it out that alleyway and Danny's going ballistic," Steve starts, his smile coming out a bit lopsided. "He's screaming – knocks me one in the jaw," he continues explaining as he points at himself. "But Chin? He's the complete opposite." Steve's studying Kono now and pauses. "Like how you were, from Lori," he finally says.
Kono rolls her eyes as well as the beer bottle between her hands. "Yeah. Well, I figured two hysterical girly responses were all that you could handle," she says laughing, eyes crinkling. "It was definitely all I could handle."
Steve chuckles and shakes his head, because poor Danny, he can't help the way he reacts. If anything, Steve's touched, because he knows how much Danny means to him and it's nice, knowing that the sentiment is reciprocated.
Lori on the other hand, he finds confusing. In North Korea, he didn't really give her reaction to his rescue a second thought, because it was an emotionally charged situation. Who was he kidding? Today was as well, so – maybe he gets it. He gets why Lori was in tears. But, as he's looking at Kono now, he's wondering why her reaction was so different. And why it matters. "Thanks, I appreciate it," he says with a small grin.
It's not often, not lately, but she can't help her dimpled smile. "Don't mention it, boss."
More than a few stories and drinks later, Kono is crunching away on kakimochi and about to take a swig of her beer when she notices that Steve's been blatantly staring at her for some time now.
"What? I got a booger or something, brah? Because you can tell me, you know that right?" Kono asks this as she surreptitiously wipes at her face and Steve has got to smile at her. She's rolling her eyes at him again and instead stands suddenly to lean over the bar to try and catch a glimpse of herself in the bar mirror. Steve's eyes catch on the slip of tan skin on her side, between the hem of her t-shirt and the waistline of her jeans and he finds himself wondering what it would be like to reach out and run a finger along there. But before the liquid courage he's consumed kicks in, Kono gives up and instead waves over the bartender.
"Eh, Kimo!" she calls to the Samoan-Hawaiian dude that owns and mans the little dive they're in. Funny, of course it's one of those places bearing a name of a make-believe individual – there never was a 'Tsunami Sam'. There's only Kimo – who's kind of big, like Kamekona, but not so much, because the area behind the bar is sort of small. And his personality, well, also not so much like Kamekona, because this place is not exactly on the good side of town and he's always throwing some kind to trash out at the end of the night.
"Wassup Kono?" Kimo asks as he nears her and Steve. "What, more beer already? Damn, girl," he says but realizes that's not what she called him over for. He quirks a brow and looks from her to Steve, his eyes hesitating on the bloody patch on Steve's forehead before dragging his gaze back to focus on her.
"Brah, I got anything on my face? My drinking partner here is being a punk," she adds as she sticks her face out for him to examine as best he can in the dim light.
Kimo grins, "nah, sistah, you good." Steve notices that he doesn't really get too close to Kono and that the guy seems a little uncomfortable. Instead, Kimo gestures with a thumb to Steve. "Him, he's got blood on his forehead, you tell him that?"
Steve chuckles again and shakes his head, taking a sip of his beer as he watches Kono's features light up at Kimo's observation.
She sits back down, grinning. "Oh, he knows, don't you, Steve?" Kono asks playfully, because she's a little drunk and she doesn't fucking care. "I gave it to him." Now she's embellishing and thinks it's funny.
"Ho, you beating up boys again?" Kimo asks, looking as frightened as a two-hundred and seventy-five pound Polynesian man with tribal tattoos up and down his neck, arms and legs, can.
Steve is all out laughing now and Kono smirks. "Again?" Steve asks, because it's not that much of a surprise for him. Not really. He's seen her beat up 'boys' and 'girls' before, and admittedly Kono is pretty fantastic at it.
"Kimo, I'm a cop remember?" Kono asks, leaning on the bar and doing her best to appear menacing.
The guy gulps nervously. "Yeah, I know. But, him too?" Kimo's pointing at Steve, clearly looking him over, taking note of size, muscle, and probable strength. He looks as if he doesn't like what he sees.
"I'm her boss," Steve replies seriously, surprised the guy hasn't seen him on the news. Kimo pulls nervously at the collar of his t-shirt and pales, which is saying a lot. Steve is shrugging, because it looks like this bartender, who may be used to seedier clientele, is more afraid of cops like Kono than anything else.
Kimo grabs two more Longboards and plops them on the counter in front of Steve and Kono and smiles tentatively. "On the house," he says, then, "and I took care of your tab, Kono. You let me know if you need more – again, on the house." He winks and walks back to the end of the bar to clean something, anything, that makes him look too busy to bother.
Steve nudges Kono and she almost jumps because it feels like he just electrocuted her. He doesn't notice but has to ask, "tab?"
Kono snorts and waves a hand dismissively before her. "Whatever, don't judge me," she says, but she can't help but smile. "Thanks for playing along, Steve." She finishes her bottle as he does his and they move on to the new beers.
"Not a problem," Steve says. He smacks his lips after taking a sip and contemplates the woman next to him. "Seems like you like playing it 'loose and crazy' though."
Kono smiles mischievously. "Don't you? I've had Kimo going for weeks now. Every time I come in, I do something different just to see how much fear I can put in him." She can't help the habit she had developed from when she was much younger, and fed up with constantly getting picked on by the bullies at school.
Steve shakes his head, knowing that Kono is referring to his form of intimidation and interrogation. "The guy outweighs you ten-fold." He points out.
"I know," Kono says, laughing. She's not the least bit afraid of Kimo, it seems. "But look at him, he's not even looking this way, anymore."
Steve is cocky, he knows it, and it's bullshit when people say he's just 'very confident'. "It could just be me," he says as he shrugs, because he really likes challenging her sometimes.
"You wish," Kono says then, snorting loudly and not giving a shit about how unladylike she's appearing. Wow Steve, really?
He's grinning. "So what are you saying? You want to be like me or something?" Steve knows, if it were anybody else, he might just feel a little flattered. But, since this is Kono, he's wondering if he should feel afraid – for her. Because Steve thinks, after today, he'd be really pissed if she got seriously hurt or something, and he kind of wonders why that is.
She's digging a thumbnail into the beer label of her bottle. "Fuck no," she says. But then she looks at him again, all business and seriousness. "I know what I'm doing," she says confidently.
"Not all the time, no one does." He's saying this, meets her gaze, and tries to somehow convey the sincerity of the statement. Because no matter how much of a bad-ass Kono is, Steve still can't help but feel the need to be there for her. Especially because he wasn't there for her when she got sucked into Fryer's business.
"But you would never know, would you?" Kono asks and hopes that Steve doesn't take it as a jab for when she worked for Fryer. She can see the flash of something in his eyes and shakes her head, hoping to convey that she's over it, she really is. "Besides, what good will it do, if I panic when I don't know what I'm doing?" she asks, because it's a reasonable question.
He's smirking, understanding what she's saying, and nods his head, agreeing. "You're right. But it's not a bad thing, to appear to need help sometimes." He says, watching her tilt her head back to drink more of her beer, his eyes inadvertently lingering on the way her throat moves as she swallows.
Kono puts her bottle back onto the counter and arches a brow at Steve. "Speak for yourself."
Steve laughs again, full, joyful, and alive. So does Kono and he knows she's completely right, too. He's pretty happy that she's now laughing along with him, despite the looks that they're getting from the barflies and other clientele. He's leaned closer to her, wanting to feel her so he rests his shoulder against hers as they're both shaking from laughter.
Kono's enjoying the weight of him on her shoulder and finds her thoughts straying to wonder about other body parts and she mentally kicks herself. Seriously? She's getting overheated and feeling really, really, buzzed, and she's getting closer and closer to doing something dangerous and wrong with Steve. So, she stands suddenly and says, "I'm out." Just like that. She doesn't miss the disappointment on his face, and wonders briefly why he doesn't bother to mask that shit. Of all the times, when the team is wondering what the boss is thinking, this moment is what he chooses to let her see?
But Kono's up now, and making her way around Steve's form, thanking God she can still walk straight. Then again, its something she always could do, no matter how much alcohol she consumes. Go figure. She's brushing past him purposefully, and slips out the bar and into the warm night. A few gulps of cooling air and she's effectively fought off some of the headier effects of the alcohol in her system. She's not driving, she knows that much, she'll have to come and get her Cruze tomorrow morning and it's then that she notices that Steve's standing right behind her.
"Boss, you okay getting a cab?" she asks as she flags one down. If Kono had a 'flee' response, it would be in overdrive and she wouldn't have even bothered to check on his transportation home.
Steve's not the tiniest bit wobbly and he's looking at her with such – wait, is that yearning ? "Sure. We're sharing?" he asks. He's sounding so hopeful and he's not the least bit ashamed.
Kono turns and gives him an incredulous look. Again, he's an open book with his feelings. What the hell? "No. Sorry, not a good idea and you know it." She's trying to appear stern and final, but who was she kidding? If he pushed, she might just fold, because thinking Steve was dead earlier today was starting to really hit her.
Steve's shrugging and shoving his hands in his pockets. He's pulled himself together – Smooth Dog, whatever. He knows, Kono was right about several things today, and you could definitely add this to the list. But frankly, he doesn't give a shit. "Can't fault a guy for trying," he says, his smile one-sided as he watches a cab slow and pull to the curb.
Kono's reaching for the door and opens it but doesn't get in just yet. "But we both know, you're not just any guy, remember? You're my boss." She's standing there before him and telling it like it is, like how it has to be. She should just get in the cab and go.
But clearly Steve's got another idea, and he looks away briefly down the south side of King Street before looking back at her. "You can't tell me you give a fuck, right now."
The cab driver's waiting and Kono knows she can blame what she's about to do on the alcohol, but she knows she'd do it without, as well. She turns to Steve to face him fully, reaches out to grab his face, and pulls him closer to give him a searing kiss. "You're right, I don't. But this can't ever happen," she says in a pained whisper after pulling away. And then she's in the cab, slamming the door shut, and leaving Steve out in front of the bar, alone.
# # #
A/N: So yeah, I hope you guys like this chapter as well. I don't feel it's as strong as the first. As always, feel free to leave me a note!
Kalbi or Galbi (pronounced: call-bee) – marinated Korean barbeque beef (sometimes pork) short-rib
kakimochi (pronounced: kah-kee-mo-chee) – Japanese, baked rice cracker, coated in a soy glaze before baking and sometimes covered in dried seaweed
And also Waipahu (pronounced: why-pah-hoo) is a town on the west side of the island of Oahu.