Title: Sweet Responsibility
Author: Jilly James
Fandom: Magnum PI (2018)
Relationship: Thomas Magnum & Gordon Katsumoto friendship, referenced Tony DiNozzo/Steve McGarrett #mothership
Content Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Implied violence, kidnapping
Author Note: This was not written with the Katsumoto/Magnum pairing in mind, but could be read as pre-slash if you have a mind to don your slash goggles. Also, I’ve taken some liberties with everyone’s history because I’m not sure how much has been revealed in the show yet since I’ve only seen about ten episodes.
Challenge: 2019 Every Fandom Reverse Bang, inspired by art prompt #1 by RP Dots.
Word Count: ~5,900
Beta: Thank you, desertpoet. And thanks to Keira for helping me figure out the title.
Summary: Gordon Katsumoto disappeared while investigating a lead on a case. Thomas Magnum is going to solve the case—whether Gordon likes it or not.
* * *
“Friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity.”
– Khalil Gibran
* * *
* * *
Gordon gave up on struggling with the handcuffs, knowing he wouldn’t be able to free himself. He’d been cuffed too tightly to a pipe, and his struggles thus far had caused his wrist to swell, which could cut off the circulation to his hand. Even with one hand available, there was nothing close enough to be useful in helping him get free.
He kicked at a crate, frustrated and more than a little worried. It didn’t seem like he’d be getting out of this one.
He’d been following up on a minor lead in a jewelry store robbery. The other detective on the case hadn’t thought there was anything to it, so Gordon had checked it out on his way home. And promptly stumbled into what he now thought was a diamond smuggling operation.
The perpetrators had decided to keep Gordon alive in case they needed a hostage, but they’d made it clear that once they finished their “transactions,” they’d have no use for him. They’d thrown him in the cargo hold of a decrepit old freighter until they were ready to kill him. A couple of bottles of water had been thrown his way, but they had otherwise ignored his existence.
He’d been down there for more than twenty-four hours, and he had doubts about anyone being able to find him. Detective Kirby knew the lead he was checking, but there wouldn’t be anything left of that lead by now.
The door to the cargo hold opened, flooding the dark space with light and making Gordon shield his eyes. There was a loud thump followed by a groan. Gordon blinked to clear the spots from his vision as the door to the hold slammed shut. The clank of the locking bolt sliding home filled the silence.
The body on the floor was turned away from Gordon, hands cuffed behind his back, but Gordon recognized the hair, the line of the shoulders, not to mention the shirt.
“Dammit, Magnum.” Gordon rubbed his hand over his face. “What the hell are you doing?”
Magnum gingerly rolled himself to a seated position. The light in the hold was very dim, just one bare bulb on the other side of the room, but he could see bruises blooming on Magnum’s face. He got a cocky grin almost right away.
“Detective Katsumoto! Fancy meeting you here!”
“Cut the crap, Magnum. What are you doing?”
Magnum blinked innocently. “My boat charter didn’t work out the way I expected?”
“Magnum.” Gordon was grinding his teeth. “What are you doing?” he repeated.
“I’m rescuing you of course.” Magnum grinned sunnily at him, wincing a bit as it pulled at a cut on his lip.
“I feel very rescued,” Gordon said dryly. “Are you hurt?”
“Aw. I knew you cared.”
“Magnum!” Gordon closed his eyes for a moment and took a breath. He was responsible for himself and now Magnum too. He needed to be patient. “This is serious, so please answer the question. Are you hurt?”
Magnum cocked his head to the side, watching Gordon closely. “Just bumps and bruises, nothing broken.” Magnum shifted around until he was closer to Gordon. He leaned back against the wall. “Believe me, I’d know.”
With Magnum’s general lack of reverence and child-like attitude, it was easy to forget that he’d been a POW. He probably would know if anything were broken.
“I won’t bother asking again what you think you’re doing because I can guess that you heard about my disappearance and decided to get involved in the case even though I’m sure the HPD told you to stay out of it.”
“They definitely didn’t want me involved—”
“For good reason!”
“No, not for a good reason,” Magnum snapped back. “I’m exceptional at finding things, including people, and you’d think with one of their own missing that they’d take any help they could get, but they froze me out at every turn.”
Gordon felt a fresh wave of irritation. “Do you think these things through at all?”
Magnum’s expression sobered. “You believe I don’t think about these things? Don’t consider all the angles?”
“I don’t know, do you? Do you really think it through every time you fail to report a crime you’ve stumbled on? Are you trying to say you think it through when you take off with evidence? What part of that is thought out, Magnum?”
Magnum’s jaw muscles bunched. “I was thinking that someone important to me was missing, but that I was told to stay out of it. That I still tried to work with the HPD because I knew that’s what you would want. That they basically shut the door in my face when I brought them a lead.” Magnum never raised his voice, but Gordon could tell he was frustrated.
That brought Gordon up short. Magnum was considered a loose cannon and a problem in every aspect of police procedure, but he wasn’t incompetent. If Magnum ever came to Gordon with a lead, not that Magnum usually shared his leads with Gordon until forced, but Gordon still took them seriously. Magnum might be a procedural nightmare, but he was a competent procedural nightmare. If they got out of this, Gordon was going to have some words with whoever blew him off.
The silence sat heavy for what felt like an eternity.
Magnum finally cleared his throat, adjusting his position. “Anyway, I wasn’t going to just let it go since I had a good lead, and the HPD was going in entirely the wrong direction.”
Gordon wanted to argue that, just to defend the HPD, but he couldn’t really counter it since Magnum obviously was going the right direction since he’d wound up in exactly the right place. Or wrong place, depending on the perspective.
Gordon blew out a breath, trying to be patient. “And was getting captured part of your grand plan?”
Magnum’s lips twitched. “Actually, yes.”
“Yes?” Gordon blinked a few times, though he really shouldn’t be surprised at any of Magnum’s grand plans. “Getting captured and beat up was part of the plan?”
“Well, I could have done without the getting beat up part, but definitely getting them to take me to where you were being held…totally the plan.”
“Let me guess…Higgins, Rick, and TC are gonna somehow factor into this grand plan.” Gordon told himself to count to ten and get some perspective but, instead, he snapped, “These guys are serious, Magnum. This is international diamond smuggling. These guys are well-armed, well-financed, and ruthless.”
Magnum shot him an unimpressed look. “Yeah, I know. Took me a minute to figure out how a jewelry store robbery related to international smuggling of uncut blood diamonds…”
“Wait, you figured out why the jewelry store?”
“Well, to be fair, I didn’t figure it out, but it was definitely figured out in my presence.”
“It’s not just blood diamonds, okay? They also smuggled hard-to-move stolen diamonds. That’s where we got our break. The jewelry store heist would have been solved in a couple of days because that was part of their plan.”
“No one says heist.”
“Hush. I’m monologuing.”
Gordon made a go-on gesture.
“When they have impossible-to-sell diamonds, usually because of micro laser-etched serial numbers, they knock over a jewelry store, change out the diamonds—or whatever stone—and then, magically, the cops get a tip that leads them to a patsy who will claim he didn’t know anything about the jewelry hidden under his bed or in his fridge or whatever. Patsy goes to jail, diamonds are swapped out, jewelry store owner gets their jewelry back. Now, an astute store owner might notice it’s not the same diamonds, but since they actually are diamonds and usually even better quality…”
“They don’t say anything and keep the claim away from their insurance.”
“Which would skyrocket otherwise. So, yeah, the gemstone swapping thing was just a facet of their operation, but you stumbled into the larger mess when you found their temporary base of operations.”
“And you figured this out in a day.” He shot Magnum a look. “I know you’re a good investigator, Magnum, so don’t take this the wrong way, but even with Higgins’ contacts, I don’t see how you put this all together.”
“I had a solid lead that the HPD wouldn’t even hear me out on, so I found an alternate source.”
“And you’re not going to tell me who?”
“A mutual friend.”
“We don’t have any—” Gordon stilled. “You called McGarrett.”
“That was pretty good thinking.”
“I’m not actually an idiot, you know.” It was hard to tell if Magnum’s tone was just dry or if he was offended.
Gordon squinted trying to get more information from Magnum’s expression, but it was pretty blank, and this wasn’t the right time for that conversation. “McGarrett’s on vacation.”
“Yeah, but if you think he didn’t want to know about you being missing, you’ve taken one too many hits to the head.”
“So you hunted down Steve and got Five-0 involved.”
“Five-0? No. With Steve came Steve’s boyfriend.”
That was news to Gordon. “Did he and Williams finally act on all…that?”
Magnum scoffed. “Please. That’s a platonic soulmate deal if I’ve ever seen one. No, McGarrett’s shacking up with…” Magnum trailed off. “Nah. I think I’ll let you be surprised.”
“Magnum,” Gordon said, deeply unimpressed, “I’ve got nothing to do down here but plot ways to make you pay for not telling me.”
“Who knew that deep down you were a total gossip?”
Gordon glared. “You’re right. We should be focused on how to get out of here. Forget I asked.”
“Oh, we’ve got plenty of time to chat. At least another half hour, I figure. I like to think I’m full of ingenuity, but we’re pretty trapped at the moment. There’s too many of them to fight past, and they are parked in shark-infested waters.” Magnum rolled his eyes. “I had to listen to clichéd threats about feeding me to sharks. It’s like they picked this spot to add to their supervillain mystique.”
Gordon couldn’t help but sigh. “Magnum.”
“You have like fifty different ways of saying my name. You’re pretty dry, so that you get so much variety in your inflection is impressive. I think I’ll call that one, I’m-tired-of-Magnum-meandering-as-a-means-of-deflection Magnum.”
“I am tired of you deflecting. Is there an actual plan?”
“Of course there’s a plan.”
“You gonna share it?”
“We’re waiting for a team of SEALs to sneak on board and rescue us.”
“Didn’t you say these are shark-infested waters?”
“Please,” Magnum scoffed. “They’re SEALs, and these are just little sharks.”
“And you conned someone into getting the Navy involved for an abducted cop?”
“Well…” Magnum shot him a sly look. “You may be an abducted cop, but I’m a Navy reservist.”
Gordon frowned. “The only way you could get a Navy op authorized so quickly…” he trailed off and wanted to facepalm. “I don’t suppose McGarrett’s love interest is a certain Special Agent in Charge we all know and sometimes want to strangle?”
Magnum huffed. “I thought it would take you longer to figure that out.”
“Really? McGarrett’s hooked up with…?”
“Oh yeah. There’s definitely lots of hooking up. Marathon hooking up. But, come on, have you seen the way they argue with each other at crime scenes? That’s foreplay right there.”
“Ugh.” Gordon shook his head and tried to will away a lot of mental images that suddenly had a new meaning. “Stop talking.”
Magnum grinned. “Anyway, when an NCIS agent sees a Navy Reservist being abducted by criminals, he can get stuff done. Especially when he’s the guy in charge of the whole operation.”
Unofficially, McGarrett was considered the top cop on the island, way past the chief of police. But DiNozzo, the SAC for NCIS Pearl Harbor, was probably in the number two spot considering the sheer Navy presence on the island and the reach NCIS had here. Both were good cops, competent. Everyone knew McGarrett could be ruthless, but Gordon’d had cause to see DiNozzo, ordinarily easy going and pleasant, throw down with someone, and it had been scary.
“So you threw yourself in as a sacrificial lamb because your abduction made it NCIS’s jurisdiction, which would allow DiNozzo to act in an official capacity, calling on resources from the Navy.”
“And how are they finding us exactly? Because these guys are careful. You couldn’t have been followed, and they scanned me for bugs and trackers.”
“Me too, but McGarrett came up with some subdermal trackers that stay inert for two hours after they’re implanted. So no signal to scan. If my time tracking is close to accurate, it went active about twenty minutes ago.”
“So, our lives hang on whether that tracker actually turns on and works?”
“You make it sound worse than it is. They were planning to follow as long as possible, and they’re following every conventional investigation avenue as well. DiNozzo had a couple guys in interrogation, so…” Magnum wiggled like he was scratching his back against the wall. “Steve is scary and intimidating in interrogation, Higgins too for that matter, but DiNozzo just tricks people into telling him stuff. Or annoys them into it.”
Gordon let his head fall back against the wall. This whole plan wasn’t ideal, but it sure was better than what he’d had an hour ago. He looked back at Magnum. “Why?”
“Why what?” Magnum blinked. “Wait, did you really think I wouldn’t try to find you?”
“Come on, man, we’re friends. And even if we weren’t, I wasn’t going to let you just disappear.”
“We’re not friends, Magnum.” Gordon had certainly never thought of it that way—he wasn’t even comfortable with that line of thought.
Magnum stared at him for a long time, expression unreadable. When the silence hit the awkward level, Magnum smiled thinly and said, “Anyway, this is one of those rare times when I’m not counting on my ingenuity to get me out of this. I’m just sitting back and waiting for the SEALs to arrive.”
“NCIS, too, of course. SEALs will secure the boat then NCIS comes in and makes all the arrests. I’m sure the SEALs will let us out. Regular princesses being rescued from their tower surrounded by diamond-smuggling dragons armed with Uzis.”
“Magnum,” Gordon tried again.
Magnum cocked his head to the side. “I do believe our princes in shiny wetsuits have arrived. Timing rarely works out so well in my favor,” Magnum muttered the last.
Gordon pressed his lips together, feeling like he’d misstepped, but this wasn’t the time for a serious conversation, especially if their rescue had actually arrived.
Magnum slowly to got to his feet, moving to a position that Gordon recognized as more defensible. His hands were cuffed behind his back, but Gordon knew that counting Magnum out because of cuffs was a poor choice. Magnum might be a private investigator now, but he was still a SEAL.
Eventually, whatever Magnum had picked up on was loud enough for Gordon to hear as well. There was shouting and then gunfire, which lasted only a brief moment. Then there were a lot of thumps and odd noises.
Time seemed to stretch on interminably before there was an odd series of taps on the door to the cargo hold.
Magnum relaxed. “Get your ass in here, McGarrett.”
A second later, the door swung open and Steve McGarrett came in with an HK MP5 slung over his shoulder. He was in a wetsuit, hair still damp. “There are actual sharks in these waters,” he groused as he looked them both over. “You two good for a boat ride back to Pearl Harbor, or do we need a helo?” He crossed to Magnum, who presented his back, and McGarrett quickly undid the cuffs.
“I’m good,” Magnum said with a bright smile. “Just another day at the office. Am I clear to head up?”
“Yeah, the deck is clear. Tony’s up there, grumbling under his breath about all the paperwork from this many arrests.”
“Cool.” Magnum clapped McGarrett on the shoulder. “Thanks, Steve.”
“Anytime, man. You know that.”
Magnum disappeared out the door, and McGarrett tracked him visually, an expression of confusion on his face. McGarrett then slung the MP5 over his shoulder and crouched down next to Gordon, unlocking the cuffs, and inspecting Gordon’s wrist. “You okay?” he asked without looking up.
“I’m good. A little beat up, but nothing serious.” He winced when McGarrett flexed the wrist. “That’s a little sore.”
“Be sure they check this out thoroughly. You could have done some nerve damage, and this is your dominant hand. May have to be patient and let it heal if you want to get through requalification.”
Gordon pulled his hand away, gingerly rubbing the swollen tissue. “Is this really you advocating caution? I seem to recall you ignoring doctor’s advice on the regular.”
“Yeah, well, Tony sits on me now. You should get someone to sit on you.” McGarrett grinned.
Gordon sighed. “So… DiNozzo? Really?”
McGarrett got this stupidly soppy expression on his face. “Yeah.”
“Nah. Couple of years now.”
Gordon stared. “How’d everyone miss that?”
“No idea. Tony calls our arguments at crime scenes foreplay.”
Sighing, Gordon squeezed the bridge of his nose. “I never want to be present at a crime scene again where you two are arguing over jurisdiction.”
McGarrett waggled his eyebrows. “Come on, up you go. We arranged a speed boat to get you and Magnum back so you can get checked out quickly. Tony’s going with you guys to get your statements. I’m sure HPD will be around eventually to wrap up your kidnapping case.” He helped Gordon get to his feet, waiting patiently for Gordon to get his bearings.
“There going to be a jurisdiction fight over this?”
“Nope. NCIS’s case all the way.” McGarrett’s expression became serious. “HPD dropped the ball because they have an ax to grind with Magnum, and that’s not cool, Gordon. You have to know that. He may be a civilian, and he may color outside the lines, but we both know that he knows what he’s doing.”
Gordon frowned. “We can’t just let him run around doing whatever he wants.”
“I’m not saying don’t rein him in, but cutting him out entirely is why he has to find ways around the HPD.” McGarrett shook his head. “Not my business how you run things, but what is my business is that HPD fucked up when your life was on the line. Every bit of credit for solving this case is going to NCIS, even though Magnum did a lot of the leg work. I’ll make sure NCIS gets the credit since Magnum can’t have it.”
“I’m only here as a SEAL. My team is working on something else since I’m on vacation.”
“This looks absolutely nothing like a vacation, McGarrett,” a familiar voice said from the doorway. “I insist on fewer sharks when we have vacations.” DiNozzo strode in, giving Gordon a quick once over. Gordon had met DiNozzo a couple of times, but he could barely call him an acquaintance. “You good to go?”
DiNozzo escorted Gordon out and gave him a hand getting on the boat. McGarrett lurked nearby like a big, scary, protective shadow. Magnum was at the front of the boat, talking on the radio, no doubt to TC or Rick.
Gordon felt like there was something that needed to be said, but the circumstances were hardly ideal. A medic gave them a quick once over, and then they were headed back to shore.
Magnum engaged DiNozzo in energetic conversation. Much too energetic for Gordon to even follow. While he knew the conversation wasn’t out of character for Magnum, Gordon could tell it was to keep any further discussion from happening between them.
Sighing, Gordon rested his head against the back of the seat and focused on the rhythm of the boat cutting through the waves.
* * *
Gordon shifted his sling yet again, hating the way it rubbed against the side of his neck. If he’d been thinking, he’d have grabbed a pillow to prop his arm on before coming out to the lanai. He was feeling too lazy to go remedy the situation now.
He’d hurt his wrist worse than he’d initially thought. An MRI revealed several small fractures in the bones of his wrist, so he was in a cast for about a month, and the sling would be an annoying presence for at least another week.
He could have done desk duty after a week, but one-handed paperwork had all the appeal of being kidnapped again, so he’d decided to just take the leave.
An out-of-place sound near the side gate made him sit up and pay attention, but he rolled his eyes and relaxed back into the lounger when McGarrett came jogging around the side of the house. “Don’t you knock?”
“Eh.” McGarrett sprawled out on the lounger. “Would you have answered?”
Gordon raised an eyebrow. “There a reason you think I wouldn’t?”
McGarrett scratched his jaw. “I dunno. Hear tell you’ve been kind of mopey in the week since we rode in to rescue you. Or swam in as the case may be.”
“Mopey?” Gordon repeated deadpan. “I am not mopey.”
“You look kind of mopey.”
“I do not.”
“And now you sound mopey.”
“Is there a point to this?”
“Just worried about you. Magnum has been a nightmare. Well, his version of it anyway. Which is too much like the love child of Danny and Tony for my peace of mind. You both gave fairly similar reports about what happened on the boat, so I figured it was something that wasn’t said.”
“You figured, did you?”
“Well, Tony did actually. He reminded me that I’m a blunt instrument, and I rely on him for nuance.”
“Thought you relied on Williams for that.”
“There’s nothing subtle about Danno. Just because he doesn’t toss a guy in a shark cage doesn’t mean he’s not every bit as blunt an instrument as I am. He just does it in a tie and with lots of extra words.”
“But don’t think I didn’t notice the deflection. So, spill.”
“For starters, why should I? But also, why do you care?”
“Ouch.” Steve didn’t sound or look wounded. “I know we’re not in each other’s pockets, but we’re friends.”
Steve frowned. “Aren’t we?”
With his good hand, he waved off Steve’s concern. “Of course we are. Known each other since we were kids.”
“Just reminded me of the last thing I said to Magnum on the boat. And then he stopped talking.” Gordon frowned. “Not stopped, exactly. He just talked to everyone but me.”
Steve blinked a few times. “So, you told him you guys aren’t friends?”
Gordon glared. “Yes. I asked why he’d gone to all that effort, letting himself be captured and beat up, and he said we were friends. I said we weren’t.”
“Wow.” McGarrett rubbed his hands over his face. “Wow.” He shot Gordon a contemplative look. “Do you really believe that?”
“We’re not.” He shrugged one shoulder. “There are semi-objective measures of friendship. Magnum gets on my nerves, and I’m an obstacle he usually has to get around. He’s often an obstacle in me doing my job. How is that friendship?”
“Huh.” Steve stared at him for a long time. “Would you say you’re friends with the guys in your precinct?”
“Some more than others.”
“By those objective measures of friendship?”
Gordon started to reply then snapped his mouth shut.
“Uh-huh. Look, I’m not here to make the kiddies on the playground get along with each other. If you’re not friends, you’re not friends. No one gets to make that choice for you. Clearly Magnum considered you a friend, but he’d have come for you either way. And even if he’s just an annoyance to you, you should have already known that he’d move heaven and earth to find you. You’ve seen over and over how Thomas goes to the wall for every case and every cause. You could give him a little bit of credit.”
Gordon scowled. “He’s a loose cannon.”
“He stumbles on crimes scenes and doesn’t report them.”
“You should talk to him about that.”
“He’s taken evidence from crime scenes.”
“You should definitely talk to him about that.” McGarrett was grinning now. The asshole. “Gordon, seriously, Thomas has an open door to me. He doesn’t use it because he respects you too much to do an end-run around you that way. And he doesn’t want to abuse my friendship.” He held up a hand to stop Gordon from replying. “Yes, he can be a little cavalier about asking for favors from his friends, but he has lines he won’t cross. Whether you guys are friends or not, you at least owe him a talk about boundaries.”
“Did you really just advise me to talk to someone about boundaries?”
“Ha-ha.” McGarrett cocked his head to the side. “Tony and I had to have the difficult boundaries discussion.”
“That’s different because you two are in a relationship.”
“Tony has been on the island for like eight years, we’ve been involved for barely over two. When he was the MCRU lead, we’d have screaming matches over crime scenes because he wasn’t going to accept the way I played fast and loose with procedures.”
“Thought you said that was all foreplay.”
“Well, yes, but also no. A few months of arguing and he asked if we could meet for lunch to talk things through. In that discussion, he explained what he could and could not put up with and why. And that I’d have to do things differently if we were ever going to work a joint case together. I was pissed about it at first, but I got over it. I didn’t like that fed trumped even the task force, that he could boot me off a case anytime he wanted if there was any question over jurisdiction.
“But Danny pulled me aside and helped me get some perspective. Tony and I talked again, agreed to try working together better. We still argued at crime scenes, but it wasn’t about whether we’d work together or not anymore because that conversation had been handled. Somewhere along the way, we became friends. And then the best kind friends.”
“Stop with the overshare.”
McGarrett grinned. “You’re raining on my parade.” He nudged Gordon’s leg. “Talk to Magnum, explain what you need from him if you’re going to cross paths when he has a case. Maybe you’ll be friends, maybe you won’t, but at least you can have a better working relationship.”
Gordon shot Steve a suspicious look.
“Oh my god. I’m not trying to fix you two up. You’re both my friends, okay? You’re sulking, and Thomas is hurting, I think. He’s like Tony in that it’s hard to get around his deflections and misdirects to figure out what’s really going on.”
“Like you’re open and forthcoming.”
“True, you and I are more alike in just freezing people out, while they’ll give you the runaround until you’re dizzy.” Steve got to his feet. “I know from experience that Thomas’ friendship is worth it. Even when he’s making me dizzy or when I want to strangle him because he’s hiding things from me, it’s worth it. And you have to know he drives Rick, TC, and Higgins bonkers, but they clearly think it’s a fair trade.”
Gordon watched Steve stroll back around the side of the house. He let his head fall back to rest on the cushion, staring up at the sky.
* * *
Higgins let Gordon in through the side gate, offering a smile. “He’s watching a game.” She gestured toward the guest house. “He never locks the door.”
“Thank you.” He’d had no luck getting in touch with Magnum in the last week, so he’d finally resorted to calling Higgins, who had told him when to come by. Gordon was pathologically allergic to drama, and the dramatic nature of this whole thing made him irritable.
When he got to the door to Magnum’s cottage, he quickly spotted Magnum sprawled out on the couch, watching the TV. He was in shorts and a tank top.
Gordon tapped on the glass with his cast since his other hand was full. When he had Magnum’s attention, he just pushed the door open rather than waiting.
Magnum immediately hopped to his feet. “Detective Katsumoto, wow, good to see you and all that jazz. I’m just on my way out to meet with a client.”
“Uh-huh.” He gave Magnum a quick once over, noting that the majority of the bruises and scrapes were healed. “In all the time I’ve known you, I’ve never seen you meet with a client in your running clothes.”
Magnum scratched the back of his head, looking disconcerted. “Well, uh, I was going to hit the shower first, of course. So good to see you and all…” he trailed off, gaze locked on Gordon’s casted wrist. Thankfully, he no longer needed the sling. “What’s with the cast?”
“Couple fractures in my wrist. A couple more weeks and the cast comes off.”
“Oh.” Magnum shifted like he was about to flee. “Glad you’re on the mend. I’m just gonna…” He jerked his thumb toward the bedroom.”
Gordon shoved the beer he’d brought into Magnum’s arms. “Sit. We’re going to talk.”
Magnum looked like a cornered rabbit. “But I was about to head out.”
Sitting on one of the armchairs, Gordon tipped his head toward the Coronas. “Would you open me a beer?” He waved his cast. “Opening beer bottles is a bigger pain in the ass than getting dressed one-handed.”
“Yeah, of course.” Magnum fumbled with the beer for a second and disappeared into the kitchen, bringing back a bottle for Gordon.
“I’m gonna go work on this case…”
“Magnum. We’re talking. I don’t actually care if you have a beer or not, but you’re not leaving until we’re done.”
“I can’t imagine what there is to say.”
“You won’t have to imagine if you sit your ass down and listen.”
Magnum blinked. “Wow. That was full-on snarky. Okay, then.” He went back to the kitchen and returned with another beer, sprawling back out on the couch. “Hit me with it.”
“I have a brother—he’s a couple of years older than me. He fell into a gang when he was a teenager.” Before Magnum could say anything, Gordon hurried on. “My brother fell out with our parents over it, but he and I kept in touch as much as we could. Until I went to the police academy. Then he stopped talking to me.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.” Magnum’s expression was sympathetic, and his posture had shifted to reflect that he was more invested in the conversation now than he had been when he’d been badly lying in an effort to escape.
“I started hearing from him when he needed a favor because I guess having a cop he could tap for info wasn’t such a bad thing. I was young, new to the department, and if the request wasn’t egregious, I helped him out. Nothing illegal, of course.
“But then his friends started asking for favors. Because if they’re my brother’s friends, they must be my friends too, right? And then small favors became big favors became something illegal.”
“But you said no,” Magnum said immediately.
“You so sure of that?”
“Yeah, I really am.”
“You’re right. And me saying no led to a warrant for my brother’s arrest. I haven’t seen or heard from him since. The statute of limitations has lapsed on the crime he was a suspect in, but even if he resurfaced, I wouldn’t have anything to do with him.” The situation had been a lot worse and a lot more complicated than that, and it had been rocky for Gordon professionally for a while but, ultimately, the fact that he’d refused to cover up something for his own brother was a mark in his favor.
Gordon took a swig of the beer, finding it colder than it should have been considering how long it’d been in the car. Magnum must have swapped the beer he’d brought out for something in the refrigerator.
He took a deep breath and plowed on with his explanation. “So, you see, I don’t have friends who are in the position of asking me for favors. And you do. You ask all your friends for favors.”
Magnum clasped his hands loosely, staring at them intently like they held the answer to the universe. “I hear you.”
“I’m sure you hear something.” Gordon sighed. “The thing is, I can say we’re not friends, but it doesn’t change the fact that you acted like a friend. And if something happened to you, I’d be there with Higgins, Rick, TC, Steve, Tony, and whoever else in trying to find you.”
Magnum looked up sharply.
“It’s easier for me to say we’re not friends so that I don’t feel like I’m at risk of being compromised, but not using the word doesn’t mean it’s not true.” He pointed at Magnum with the beer bottle. “But there will be no favors because we’re friends. If you manage to persuade me to bend the rules, it will be because the case merits it.”
Lips twitching, Magnum nodded. “Deal.”
“And when you come across a crime scene, you call it in.”
“Is that the price of friendship?”
“No, it’s so I’m not so pissed at you that we can’t possibly exist as friends.”
“And you do not take off with evidence ever again.” He gave Magnum a serious glare. “I don’t like arresting my friends, but I’ll do it. Telling you about my brother wasn’t just to illustrate why I’m leery about friends who might call on me for inappropriate favors but to point out how far I’ll go.”
“You drive a hard bargain.”
“It’s not a bargain.”
“The world is about compromise, Katsumoto!”
“There’s not a lot of compromise in the law.”
Magnum’s expression sobered, and he leaned forward. “Stop freezing me out on my own cases.”
“Once they’re our—”
“Come on. You know that the department uses consultants all the time. I’m not asking to be paid, just don’t shut me out and put me in a position of feeling like I have to work around you.” Magnum pointed at him. “Every time this has happened, I’ve been on the right track and solved the case.”
“Not every time.”
“Okay, almost every time. Isn’t that enough reason to work with me instead of just taking over?”
Scowling, Gordon took a swig of his beer, wondering if he was already giving in to the favor thing. But it didn’t feel that way, so he went with his gut. “Fine, but you’ll have to do some paperwork to be an official consultant.” He pointed at Magnum again. “An unpaid one.”
“I’m all in,” Magnum said with a big grin.
“I’m gonna make McGarrett sign off on it. People might mutter, but they won’t actually make an issue of it.”
Magnum made a face.
“Stop it. McGarrett won’t care. And he’s a big target on this island that no one actually wants to throw anything at.”
Laughing, Magnum nodded. “Point.”
Gordon blew out a breath, feeling lighter than he had since he’d been abducted. He held out his beer. “Thanks for coming for me, Thomas.”
Magnum smiled and clinked their beers together. “Always.”