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Title: Ghosts on My Doorstep and the Devil at My Back
Author: paleogymnast
Fandom: Hawaii Five-0(2010)
Characters: Steve McGarrett (mentions of various others)
Genre: Character Study, Angst, Speculation
Spoilers: Up though 1.23 and speculation based on preview / spoilers for 1.24.
Word Count: 1841 words
Rating: R (to be on the safe side)
A/N: This falls into the category of speculative character study I hope gets turned on its ear by the time the episode actually airs. It's completely unbeta'd, written in one sitting, heavy on the maudlin melodrama and mixed metaphor and probably light on sanity. It's also the first H50 fic I've done. If you're familiar with my SPN speculative character studies (e.g., "The Story of Dean Winchester" and "Empty Places"), you've got the gist of this... only it's probably more disjointed and maybe less depressing. Maybe? Also present-tense stream of consciousness.
Summary: Steve McGarret knows everything has its price, but sometimes that price is a lot higher than you've bargained for. Or Steve thought he had it all but then the universe went and smacked him upside with an explosive clue-by-four. Now he's on the run his mind is feeling a bit existential?


They say pride always comes before a fall. And pride… Well fuck. Steve had pride in spades, by the bucket-full. He had so much pride he was drowning in it, and he was blind. Touching the clues to his past, holding them in his hands, not realizing he was playing with fire and juggling live grenades. It had never seemed real, and yet it was too real—surreal. He was so wrapped up in the boogey man mailing his secrets back to him, trying to find the clues to unlock the puzzle, he never stopped to think it wasn’t a game.

Your mother was killed by a car bomb, McGarrett, by someone who wanted to hurt your dad. Didn’t ever occur to you the same thing could happen again? You poked a sleeping dragon in the eye. Did you really think it would wake with a fiery roar and only you would get burned?

He’d had it all, or as close to it as he could ever expect to get. Family—Ohana—people who he had cared about more than life itself people who’d loved him back. And for a while he’d had the power to protect them. To protect everyone, not just his own. He’d wielded that power, the long arm of the law, as both sword and shield. Striking indiscriminately and holding the shield up over them all, an impenetrable umbrella against the wrath falling down from the heavens. The sword was made of diamond, an unstoppable blade that nothing could stop; the shield shown of adamantium, an indestructible, mythic metal that would not let him down. Steve had claimed he only answered to God and the Governor…

But God’s not really there. And the Governor’s loyalties were not absolute. More than a fair weather friend, but an ally with limits, and he’d sailed right through them. He rode that mammoth volcano of pride up to the edge of the cliff and didn’t even realize when he had already fallen over.

He’d been so sure victory was only an inch away. But it was an illusion, and he just sailed off the end of the world when the carpet was yanked out from underneath his feet. There’s no Governor here to stop him now. She’d just as surely watch him rounded up and executed like the rest of them. Steve McGarrett is not an invincible super hero. He doesn’t get to save the day. He does not get to pass go or collect $200.00 or figure out who took his family away from him and why. And he’s lost it all again and this time by his own arrogant design. There is no way out. There is no way back. And for the first time since he’s returned home he’s realized how an unbearably small and close this island really is.

The fantasy is over. The sword was really made of glass. And adamantium only exists in comic books. His unstoppable weapons are but children’s toys tossed aside like so much flotsam in the aftermath of the storm. Steve would have liked to know the joke was on him before he was the one in handcuffs waiting for the gallows. He never sees it coming, even when he should. Especially when he should.

The jungle is hot around him. Oppressive and alien in a way home never felt before. His vest is plastered to his torn and stained t-shirt, that’s itself almost melting into his dirty-torn flesh, and he knows it won’t do him much good against what they’re willing to raise against him. Enemies on all sides now. No refuge. No quarter. He has no home in the Navy. His precious 5-0 is no more—exploded into broken fragments, its members dead or tossed to the four winds just like his first family almost twenty years before. His friends still living have no reason to trust him not after what it appears he’s done. Even if they know. And he knows they know it wasn’t him. They have their own families, their own live. Chin—just got his life back, everything he’d lost, a reward for his undying sacrifice and selflessness. Danny, well Danny’s almost got his perfect world reunited with Rachel and Grace. And Kono…

There’s a very thin line between love and hate, live and death, good and evil. For so long it has been Steve’s life, his purpose, to walk that line, to catch those who transgressed it. Only now he’s on the other side and no one’s got his back. Everyone turns their backs on the condemned man. He wants to scream out, but he knows only the echo of his own voice would answer him back.

Steve closes his eyes and breathes. Stars spark and shine behind his eyes as he presses his palm to them hard. So hard. As if he could press out the ghosts that haunt his waking dreams. There are so many of them now. He’s surrounded more by ghosts than the living. He should have realized he was about to become one... The dogs are getting closer now. Despite his training and attempts to mask his trail he’s just human after all. No super powers to be had. They’re closing in, and they will find him if he doesn’t do something soon.

But in the end, Steve’s just like every criminal he’s ever tracked as Navy SEAL or cop. Just a desperate, wild animal, feral with the drive to survive. In for a penny, in for a pound, and he’s so far in, all the gold in Fort Knox wouldn’t pay his debt.

Steve isn’t sure he ever believed in fate or balance or the threefold law. But he’s been waiting for it. Waiting for a long time, since Christmas at least—no long before if he’s honest. A little bad luck followed by too much good. Too many close calls and near misses. Too many times he and his team—family—got away scot-free when the world should have been falling down around their ears. But it wasn’t really free, was it? Nothing is ever free. And now it’s all come back, threefold on Steve’s head.

Just as he knew it would. As he’d always known it should. But a little part of him had started to believe the legend they were weaving around themselves. Maybe it couldn’t touch them. And he’d believed it more and more because he’d cared and he’d wanted and he’d felt joy—the closest thing to joy since he was a sixteen-year-old kid. But it wasn’t meant to be. Fuck! He should’ve listened to Danny. ‘Cause Danny knew, and he tried to tell Steve and he just. Didn’t. Listen! On his head was where the axe was always gonna fall. And now it has. Tick-tock.

Steve is on the move again, crashing through the underbrush. Breath burning in his lungs. His throat long gone dry with dehydration. Adrenaline spiriting away the pain he should feel to tell him how not okay he is. And all he can think of is Mary. His sister. The only surviving member of his family. By nightfall she’ll be the only McGarrett left. Steve will be a ghost one way or another. Either he gets off this rock, and he disappears for good. Poof. Vanish. Like so many men he’s chased before. Perhaps like someone who will chase him. Or he’ll be dead. A literal ghost. Another number in an endless score of a game bigger than he can comprehend and older than he understands. If he’s going to die, he would like to know why. But then, no one really gets to, do they? He’s sure his mother didn’t know. And his father… well, maybe his father…

But his father had really turned into a ghost long before, haunting his own life with his secrets as he drifted through the years, there, but not really. And Steve’s no one special. Today has shattered that delusion of grandeur once and for all. He’s no Jedi. Not even a ninja.

He sends up a silent prayer that Mary will be okay. That she’ll understand or accept the lies and bullshit they’ll surely feed her. But it’s Mary, and she’s too smart for that. Too stubborn. And he knows she’ll never let it die. Damn McGarrett stubbornness. They just keep stepping up to fill each other’s shoes. Not willing to accept what’s obviously falls, to obstinate to have the sense to just get out of the way. They keep walking into it and pushing, pushing, pushing until the truth blows up in their faces. He doesn’t want her to be next. He hopes maybe Danny can convince her it’s not worth walking across the no-man’s land with its landmines and hidden trip wires and the gaping maws of chasms that open up beneath you and swallow you whole. Danny cares. Danny will try. He has faith in that, has faith in him. But deep down he knows. Mary will never buy it. And she’ll be the next, the last McGarrett to tilt at windmills and offer tribute to the gods for answers that just won’t come.

A little part of him hopes maybe she’ll succeed where he failed. Another part seeks comfort in the knowledge she’ll take up the fight. And a tiny part he hates to acknowledge just wants her to run far away to the other end of the Earth and forget everything about him.

Not much time left now. He’s almost to the edge. This jungle won’t open to a clearing but to cliffs and ocean. Endless blue waters that call to him, a familiar siren song. He is hunted and his hunters draw near. Ever closer, never stopping. Always willing to bring the wanted man to justice. But justice is blind to his innocence. Steve has committed many crimes, but not this, never this. And underneath it all the grief and shock and loss he cannot bear to process is bubbling closer to the surface, emotional magma threatening to spill over and reshape the topography of his psyche. But there’s no time. Because he’s at the cliff. And he’s got to stand his ground or jump. No way out. No way down.

He always loved explosions and the rush of battle. It was too easy to forget that you were still playing with fire, and it was all too easy to get burned.

But wait. This is his island. He was born here. He’s gonna die here, too. But maybe not today. Maybe not right now, because this is his home and they can never make this land his enemy. So he will find the strength to stand his ground and fight. Buy more time. Just a little longer. Hope hangs in the rafters and here it falls from the sky. Night will fall soon and with it maybe he can find an answer written in the stars. The breeze is at his back. The birds signal his pursuers approach. And Steve stands firm. Waiting…


P.S. F-listies, if any of you read this, could you be so kind as to tell me if this is coherent enough to post anywhere? Thanks!