Summary: Steve decides to participate in the Death Race, an extreme obstacle course/competition so intense that very few even finish. Naturally, Danny is violently opposed to this idea.
Rating: PG-13 for language and mild descriptions of death
Genre/content: Humor/crack, a bit of fluff/romance
Word count: ~5k
Spoilers: Nothing specific, just minor things here and there.
A/N: Inspired by a plot bunny from alba17, who linked to this article about a man planning to participate in the 2011 Death Race in Pittsfield, Vermont. She thought Steve should participate in the Death Race, and I agreed. Yet somehow this fic is more about Steve and Danny's mom being BFFs than it is about the actual race. idk. Hugs and kisses to aunt_agatha, shes_gone, and nova33 for reading drafts and indulging me with suggestions and support, and to thismuchmore for the final beta! ♥
Also, google tells me that the name of those delicious pastry things Danny loves are called cocoa puffs.
When Steve walks into the office on Monday morning, Chin is making himself a cup of tea and Danny and Kono are sitting at the conference table plowing through a box of cocoa puffs.
"Morning, sunshine," Danny says.
"We have a case?" says Kono, reaching into the box for another pastry.
"Actually," says Steve. "I have an announcement." He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a piece of paper. "I was hanging out with a few of my old SEAL buddies this weekend, and--"
"SEAL buddies?" says Danny, frowning. "You didn't mention you had friends coming into town."
"It was sort of a last minute thing," says Steve. "You were with Grace this weekend, so I didn't think you'd be able to come."
Danny shrugs dismissively. "You had an announcement or something?"
"Right," says Steve, holding up a flyer. "I'm participating in the Death Race."
"The what?" says Danny.
"I've heard of this," says Chin, taking the flyer for a closer look. "Sort of an extreme obstacle course, right? No food, no water, no idea what you're doing beforehand." He chuckles and hands the flyer to Kono. "Sounds intense, brah."
"Wait, the what?" says Danny.
"Wow," says Kono, looking down at the flyer. "It says here most people don't even finish."
"Yeah," says Steve. "It's pretty brutal. One of my SEAL buddies participated in the race last year and finished. He decided to challenge some of us to do the same. For each of us that finishes, he's going to donate $10,000 to Families of the Wounded. If one of us wins, he'll triple it."
"That's awesome," says Chin. "You gonna start training now? That's a lot of work."
"I'm sorry, the what?"
Steve looks over at Danny and laughs. "Danny, you look like you're going to pass out. Do you need to lie down? Should I get some smelling salts?"
Danny shakes his head as he stands from his chair. "No. Absolutely not."
"No smelling salts or no lying down?"
"No, you're not doing it."
Steve rolls his eyes. "You can't just tell me I'm not doing it."
"Well, you're not."
"I don't think it works that way."
"Yes, it does. I'm your partner. I'm blackballing it. I'll call the governor. Whatever. You're not doing it."
"Danny, I understand that you're concerned and I appreciate that, but it's for charity. How do you say no to something that's for charity?"
"It is very easy to say no to something that is for charity. 'Hi, thank you for asking, but I value my life.' That is how you say no to something that is for charity."
"It's $10,000. $30,000 if I win. That's a lot of money, and it's for a really good cause. Besides, I think it'll be fun."
"Fun? You think the Death Race is going to be fun?" Steve shrugs, and Danny looks at him for a second. "Are you literally out of your mind?"
Steve smiles and claps him on the back. "Don't worry. It's gonna be great, I promise."
"Did you know that you have to sign a waiver to participate in this race?"
Steve looks up as Danny walks into the office. In the absence of a new case, the team has spent the morning catching up on paperwork, but Danny has been doing very important research. "A waiver," he says, dropping a stack of computer print-outs onto Steve's desk.
"I imagine that's pretty standard," says Steve, gently pushing Danny's stack to the side. "Look, I'll read this later. I'm trying to--"
"This one is pretty simple. It says, 'You may die.'"
Steve snorts. "Well, I guess they have to cover their bases."
Danny just looks at him. "That doesn't concern you at all. The fact that the race is designed to cause suffering and death does not even matter to you."
Steve rolls his eyes. "Danny, it's not designed to kill people. It's a challenge. It's for people who are bored with traditional triathlons."
"Yeah, it's definitely not a traditional race," says Danny, reaching over to flip to through his stack of print-outs. "Have you even read about it? Look. Last year, the first leg involved slithering through the mud under barbed wire and then digging up a tree trunk by its roots."
"I've been in the military for sixteen years, Danny. I've slithered under barbed wire before."
"Yes, but have you been thrown into a vat of scalding hot water or been forced to wrestle a porcupine?"
"Why would we be forced to wrestle a porcupine?"
"I don't know, you tell me!" Danny exclaims, gesturing wildly. "Maybe you will. You don't know! Go to their website and check it out. It's called youmaydie.com."
Steve arches an eyebrow. "Look, I appreciate your concern, I really do, but I am not going to die during this race. They have to say that so they don't get sued, but has anyone ever died during the race? No, and I'm not going to be the first."
"Oh, that's right," says Danny, tapping his forehead, "I forgot you're not from around here. What's your home planet called again? Krypton?"
"That's very funny. Now please stop talking."
"I mean, you can probably just cut through barbed wire with the lasers in your eyes!"
"I have work to do and you are preventing me from doing it."
"And you could yank the tree root out of the ground with the power of your mind."
Steve glares at him. "Danny."
Danny holds his hands up in mock surrender. "All right, all right. I'll let you read these print-outs, think about it a little. But I can assure you, this is not over."
"...and one year, they made everyone jump into a hole in a frozen lake. One woman got trapped beneath the ice and nearly froze to death. Someone had to leap in and save her."
Steve expels a frustrated breath from his nostrils. "Can we please talk about this later? I'm a little busy, if you hadn't noticed."
"It's just something to think about," says Danny, taking another sip of his iced latte. "Everyone who enters this race should be well informed. Or in therapy."
Steve lets out another breath and adjusts the strap on his shoulder. He's running along the road near his house, wearing weights on his ankles and carrying a backpack loaded with forty pounds of gravel. Danny is driving alongside him in his Camaro with the air conditioner cranked up as high as it will go.
"I mean, if someone hadn't been there, she would have died."
"Well, I know how to swim," says Steve, reaching up to wipe the sweat from his forehead. They're on mile six, and even though he hasn't said anything Danny knows he's starting to feel the burn. He purposefully didn't bring any water, knowing the Death Race participants wouldn't be allowed any during the race.
"It's not about swimming, McGarrett. It's about the fact that she was asked to jump into a frozen lake in Vermont in the middle of winter."
"The race takes place in June, Danny."
Danny takes a long sip of his latte and changes the channel on the radio to something he knows Steve will hate. "Did I tell you about the guy last year who passed out in a puddle of his own vomit and wasn't discovered for--"
"Okay, stop," says Steve, turning to face him, and Danny has to slam on his brakes to keep from gliding past him. "You have got to stop with these stories."
"Goddammit, my coffee--"
"Every single day this week, you have come to me with a new story about someone who has nearly died during this race. You have got to stop. You are officially the worst cheerleader ever."
"That's because I'm not trying to be a cheerleader," says Danny, using fast food napkins to dab at his tie. "I'm trying to get you to see how insane this is so you'll drop out of the race. I've got plans in June and they don't involve attending your funeral."
"I am not going to die!" Steve exclaims. "A fifty-three-year-old man finished this race. I am in very good physical condition and have lived through much worse than anything they can throw at me."
Danny looks at him for a long moment before he says, "One year they made the participants handcuff themselves and then retrieve a key from the bottom of a pool using only their teeth."
"They took that straight out of the SEAL training program," Steve says. "I've been trained to do that already."
"That is...disgusting," says Danny. "Why would anyone ever need to know how to do that in real life?"
Steve shrugs. "One time I was taken captive on a mission, and they threw the key to my handcuffs into a swimming pool. If I hadn't been trained for that, I might not have gotten myself free."
"You just made that up, didn't you?" Steve gives him a bemused look and Danny says, "How are you not already dead?"
Steve sighs and adjusts his shoulder strap. "I'm going to keep running now. If you follow, you're not allowed to talk about death."
A moment later, Danny pulls up alongside him again eating a scone. "So one year a man got frostbite on his junk and nearly had to have the whole thing removed..."
In April, Danny brings Grace to headquarters for a visit. Kono gives her a tour of the office, and Chin shows her how the computer table works, and then Danny takes her into Steve's office so he can show her around.
"This is a model of the USS Enterprise," Steve says, pointing to the model of a ship hanging on the wall behind his desk. "That was the ship my father served on when he was in the Navy."
Grace nods dutifully as he shows her all of the model ships in his office, and when he's done she looks up at him with big doe eyes.
"Uh, there's not going to be a test or anything," Steve jokes nervously, crossing his arms over his chest and looking over at Danny for help.
"Uncle Steve," Grace says, and Steve blinks. "Are you going to be in the Death Race?"
Steve glares at Danny, who smiles. "Yes, I am, Grace, but it's for charity. If I finish, my friend is going to give a lot of money to families who need it."
Grace makes That Face, the one that proceeded what Danny now refers to as Barbiepocolypse '09, when he nearly maxed out his credit card during a routine shopping trip to Toys R Us. "Uncle Steve," she says thoughtfully, like she's trying to remember a speech for class, "I would really miss you if you died a horrible death during this insane race."
"Okay!" Steve says brightly, guiding her out of his office and into the hallway where Kono and Chin stand talking. "Why don't you let Kono show you her surfboard, huh?"
Grace nods and goes with Kono, and as soon as she's out of sight, Steve turns to look at Danny. "Oh my god, Danny."
"Oh my god," Steve says again.
"Yeah," Danny says knowingly. "It's getting through to you, isn't it? How completely insane this is?"
"Oh my god, I cannot believe you brought Grace in here to convince me not to do this!" Steve hisses. "Let me guess, when you were little and wanted a kitten you brought it home to your parents and held its sad little face under their noses and told them it was going to be put to sleep if they didn't take it in!"
Danny shifts uncomfortably. "I never wanted a kitten." At Steve's disbelieving expression, he says, "I like dogs, okay!"
"You are insane!"
"No, you are insane!" Danny exclaims, jabbing his finger into Steve's chest. "You could seriously get killed! You are not invincible."
"What have I told you about doing that?" says Steve, swatting his hand away. "And I'm not going to get killed. I can handle myself. Now stop telling Grace to make that face at me. I can't believe you told her to call me Uncle Steve."
Danny pauses. "I didn't tell her to call you that." At Steve's disbelieving expression, he says, "No, seriously, I didn't."
There's an awkward silence, and then Steve clears his throat. "Well, stop worrying, okay? I'm doing the race and you're not going to be able to convince me otherwise."
"You're forcing me to take extreme measures," Danny calls after him as Steve walks back to his office. "Don't say I didn't warn you!"
The next morning, Steve walks into Danny's office and slams the door. "I cannot believe you gave your mother my phone number."
"Clearly I cannot get through to you," Danny says reasonably, straightening in his chair. "And apparently neither can Grace. I had to call in the big guns."
"Danny, she spent two hours describing - in great detail - the many ways in which I could die during this race."
"Did anything get through to you?"
"She told me I could get eaten by alligators."
Danny nods. "That is definitely a possibility."
"The race takes place in Vermont."
"They could import them--"
"You are ridiculous."
"I'm ridiculous? You are the one taking part in something called the Death Race!"
"I've told you," says Steve, "I know what I'm doing--"
"I think the point is that you actually don't know what you're doing," Danny points out. "So they could import a tank of alligators and make you swim across without being eaten. What will you do then?"
Steve shrugs. "Clamp its jaws shut. The muscles that close the jaws are very powerful, but the muscles for opening their jaws are comparatively weak. You could lock its mouth shut with duct tape, or just use your hands."
Danny is quiet for a moment before he says, "I still have that phone number that I can give you. He's a very good therapist, I think he could really help you--"
Steve holds up his hands. "Danny, just stop. You are being completely melodramatic. I'm not going to die. Now just stop asking your mom to call me. I don't want to have to change my phone number, but I will." He starts walking back to his office.
"Oh, don't worry!" Danny calls after him. "I won't have to ask her to do anything."
The next morning, Kono frowns when Steve walks into the office. "You okay, boss? You look exhausted."
"It's all this training," says Danny. "I told you it was bad for you. You're going to wear yourself out."
"It wasn't the training," says Steve, glaring at him. "Your mom called again last night. We spoke on the phone for three hours."
"Oh, really? What did she have to say?"
"Well, the first two hours were spent discussing, yet again, the many ways in which I could die during this race. Your mother has a very vivid imagination. I'm starting to see where you get it from."
Danny smiles, pleased. "And?"
"And I think I'm starting to get through to her," says Steve, pouring himself a cup of tea. "I explained that I spent six years in the SEALs, told her about some of my training and the special ops I've run. I even told her the thing about alligator jaws. I think she was impressed."
"She wasn't impressed."
"I think she was."
"My mother hasn't been impressed since 1978 when my aunt Cheryl stood in line in the snow for seven hours to get front-row tickets to The Donny & Marie Show," says Danny. "What else did you say to her?"
"I didn't say anything to her."
"You said you talked for three hours. What did you talk about for the other hour?"
"Oh," says Steve. "She gave me a recipe for lasagna."
Danny is quiet for a long moment before he says, "She gave you the recipe for her lasagna."
"She said she thought I'd like it."
"She thought you'd like it," Danny echoes, voice hollow. "My mother gave you her secret recipe, which has been handed down for five generations straight from Italy and which she has never even shared with her own sons, because she thought you would like it?"
Steve nods. "I think I'm going to make it tonight. Good workout food. You're welcome to come over if you want."
Danny sputters an indignant refusal but turns up for dinner anyway. He's really missed that lasagna.
A few weeks later, Steve chases a suspect for three miles on foot without breaking a sweat, and still manages to have enough energy left to kick him in the sternum and send the poor guy to the emergency room. On the way back to headquarters, Kono glances over at him approvingly.
"Nice work, boss. That training's really agreeing with you."
"Thanks, Kono," says Steve, looking pleased. "If you want, you could train with me somet--"
"Don't encourage him, okay," says Danny, wedging himself between the two of them as they walk through the doors leading into the office.
"We've got mail," says Chin, picking up a large Priority Mail box from the conference table. "It's from Hoboken, New Jersey."
"Ah," says Danny, smiling triumphantly. "That would be for me."
"Actually, it's addressed to Lieutenant Commander Steven J. McGarrett," Chin says, reading from the box. "Sounds official." He hands the package to Steve.
"That's my parents' address," says Danny as Steve pulls out his pocket knife and cuts open the box. "Why is my mother sending you packages?"
Steve shrugs. "She said she was sending me something, but she didn't tell me what it was."
Danny looks at him. "She told you? When did she say this? Did you talk to her again?"
"We talk nearly every night," says Steve, pulling out a carefully wrapped tin from the box. "She's still worried about me, obviously, but I think she's really coming around about the Death Race."
"Are those brownies?" Kono asks, peering into the tin. "Oh my god, they look amazing."
"Wait wait wait," says Danny, holding up his hands. "First of all, yes, they are amazing. Second of all, what do you mean 'coming around about the Death Race'? My mother would never support something this moronic."
"Wow, t-shirts," says Chin, pulling a shirt out of the box. The front reads DEATH RACE 2011 in puff paint, and the back reads TEAM MCGARRETT-WILLIAMS.
"Oh. My. God," says Danny.
"There's a note," says Kono, pulling off a card taped to the tin she's holding. She gives it to Steve to read out loud.
I hope you like the brownies and the cookies and the trail mix. I have heard that carbohydrates are good for you when you are training, so eat up! When Don and I figure out how to buy plane tickets using our internet explorer we will purchase our tickets to Vermont to see you run in your death race.
Give Danny a big kiss for me.
Everyone falls silent. Danny, who is holding a rainbow-colored shirt that reads I SUPPORT MY SON'S PARTNER STEVE, drops it like it's on fire.
"Oh my god," Kono breathes obscenely, wiping chocolate from the corner of her mouth. "These brownies are so good."
On the night before they're scheduled to leave for Vermont, the team gathers at Steve's house for a celebratory dinner. As Chin helps Steve in the kitchen, Kono starts rambling about the Bundt cake Danny's mother sent Steve earlier in the week--the third care package that month.
"I mean, it was buttery and sweet, and it tasted golden, you know? Like, if golden had a taste, it would be that cake." She grabs a piece of garlic bread from the loaf on the counter. "By the way, are you going on vacation?"
Danny sighs into his beer. Along with enough cake to feed an entire precinct, his mother had also included a stack of pamphlets she'd gotten from her travel agent's office. Most of them had looked suspiciously like honeymoon brochures.
"No, I am not going on vacation."
"I guess Steve is then," Kono says between mouthfuls of bread. "You know, I've always wanted to go to Greece. Beautiful beaches, gorgeous buildings. So romantic. If I ever get married, that's where--"
"Can we not talk about this, please?" says Danny, rubbing his temple with his free hand.
"Yeah, sure," says Kono, frowning at him as she swallows. "Are you okay? You've looked so tired lately."
"You still worried about Steve's race?" says Chin, brushing past them to set a plate of spaghetti noodles on the dining room table.
Danny looks up at Steve, who is watching him from the kitchen. "No, if Steve wants to get himself killed that's his business. I have washed my hands of this entire situation."
Steve rolls his eyes and goes back to stirring his marinara sauce.
When they're finally seated and ready to eat, Steve looks up at Danny. "Uh, by the way, your mom gave me their itinerary."
"She emailed you?"
"No, she's still having trouble using her email so she dictated it to me over the phone," says Steve, and Danny imagines her repeating everything fifteen times just to make sure he didn't miss anything. "Their flight lands at 2PM, so I told her we could pick them up."
Danny nods shortly and makes a point of choosing between the bottles of salad dressing on the table.
Chin turns to Steve. "So have you gotten the pre-race instructions? I heard one year they sent them out in Greek."
"Braille this year," Steve replies with a grin.
Danny, who is spooning marinara sauce onto his noodles, looks up. "You got instructions already?"
Steve glances over at Danny, then back at Chin. "The race starts at 2AM sharp. I'm supposed to bring a backpack that holds a hammer and fifty nails, a scuba mask, and a blowtorch. I'm also supposed to wear a bulletproof vest."
Chin looks over at Danny, amused. "Thought you said you'd washed your hands of this, brah."
Danny shakes his head and holds his hands up in the air in a gesture of defeat. "That's it, I can't do this. I'm not going."
"Wait, what?" says Steve. "Why?"
"I just can't. This is insane and I'm not encouraging it. Your SEAL buddies will be there to cheer you on. I'm sure they'll be enough."
"Danny, your parents are going to be there."
"Then they can bring the body home. I'm not going."
"You're being ridiculous."
Danny shrugs and twirls spaghetti onto his fork. "You don't need me there. I'm the worst cheerleader ever, remember?"
"You know that's not what I meant."
"Well, I'm sure a tough Navy SEAL like you doesn't need a cheerleader anyway." Danny takes a bite of the spaghetti, pauses mid-chew, and swallows it down. "This is my mother's marinara, isn't it."
When Danny wakes up the next morning, he finds several text messages from his mother on his phone.
6:47: Danny what on earth is going on steven says you're not coming I don't understand yourfather and I came out to visit you and your partner why aren't you here did you have a fight or something
6:53: Your father agrees with me that you should apologize to steven
6:57: Relationships are hard work honey your dad is no picnic sometimes but he is worthit and I know steven is too
7:03: Also vermont is beautiful your dad and I might visit an orchard while we're here
Danny groans and lets his head fall back against the pillow. "Goddammit."
It's 1:30AM, only half an hour before the race is scheduled to start, when Danny's taxi pulls up to the dirt road of a farmhouse in Pittsfield, Vermont. It's the middle of the night, but there are people everywhere: racers chugging water and warming up, people taking pictures. A local news crew is there setting up video equipment and preparing to interview a racer.
Danny looks all over the place for them and finally finds Steve doing stretches in a clearing next to the woods. His bulletproof vest is lying on the ground next to his backpack.
"Don't do it," Danny blurts.
Steve's head snaps up. "Danny?" He hurries to his feet. "Are you okay? What are you doing here? The race is about to start."
"Drop out now," Danny says. "Seriously, it's not too late."
Steve sighs. "Danny--"
"Just shut up, will you?" Danny says, his voice pleading. "I don't ask you for a lot, but I am asking you for this. You annoy the shit out of me, okay? Like, some days I literally think that one or both of us need to be on medication. But even though you are an insane, stubborn asshole, I still love you and I don't want you to die."
Steve looks like someone hit him with a two-by-four. "What?"
"You're an insane, stubborn asshole."
"Yeah, I got that part." He looks at him for a long time before he steps forward and rests his hands on the top of Danny's shoulders. "Danny, I'm not going to die--"
"You idiot, did you hear any--"
"Yes, I did," he says, sliding his hands along Danny's collarbone, "I really did, and I promise that I am not going to die, okay? I appreciate what you're saying, and I feel the same way, but I'm not dropping out." He leans down and cups Danny's face in his hands and kisses him soundly, swiping his tongue over the roof of Danny's mouth. "That was for luck," he murmurs against Danny's mouth before pulling away.
Danny blinks, his mouth falling open. "I swear to god, McGarrett, if you lose a leg or get hypothermia, I am not going to be your nurse."
"Sure you will." Steve grins and grabs his vest and backpack. "See you at the finish line."
"You know, it really could have been worse."
Steve sets his duffel bag on the floor leading into his living room. "I told you it was going to be fine."
"I mean, I thought that was going to be really brutal," says Danny, collapsing onto the couch. "I thought I was going to end up needing therapy."
Steve rolls his eyes. "Danny, your mom is not that bad. She's a very sweet lady."
"That was only three days," Danny points out. "You thought you missed Hawaii yesterday? Just wait until Day Five of Christmas at the Williams house. You'll be camped out at the airport, begging for the first flight out."
"Nah, I'll just call the governor and have her send a private jet," says Steve, smiling.
Danny scrubs a hand over his face. "I never want to see another grape in my life."
"You know, I'd actually never been to a winery before."
"And now you've been to eleven of them."
"We still didn't make it to the one in Middlebury. Your mom says next year we're going to--"
"Whoa whoa whoa," says Danny, holding up his hands. "Next year? There is no next year."
"You heard what George said. If I win again next year, he'll double his donation. That's $60,000."
"I don't care if it's a million. You may have only ended up with seventeen stitches, a dislocated shoulder, and a severe case of dehydration, but this race nearly killed me."
"You can be the one to tell your mother then," says Steve, grabbing a tin of cookies from his bag and sitting next to Danny on the couch. "I think she's already made bed and breakfast reservations for next year." He holds out the tin of cookies. "Want one? She said they're your favorite."
Danny looks down at the tin with disdain. "Those are your cookies, not mine. Your name is on the label, see? 'Lieutenant Commander Steven J. McGarrett.' Detective Sergeant Daniel C. Williams is not allowed to eat them."
Steve considers this as he chews. "Well," he says, swallowing, "since they're my cookies, I get to choose who gets to eat them, and I choose you."
Danny pretends that the fluttering in his stomach is indigestion. "Rebelling against my mother now that she's back on the other end of the country again?"
"I would never. Your mother has great ideas. For instance," he says, indicating his t-shirt, which reads I CHEATED DEATH...AND STOLE THE WILLIAMS FAMILY'S HEART.
"That is embarrassing, is what that is."
"I think it's clever."
"Promise you will never wear that shirt in public again."
"I think I'm going to wear it to the office tomorrow."
"I will kill you in your sleep."
"You could wear yours. We'll match."
"I would rather eat a box of nails."
Steve shoves the tin under his nose. "Have a cookie, you'll feel better."