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Five times the Governor of Hawaii suspects his taskforce leaders are violating fraternization policies (and one time they tell him they are)

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1.

It’s a peace offering, this beer that Sam’s brought McGarrett. He also very deliberately chose some of the most casual clothes he owns. He turns up to McGarrett’s place in a Hawaiian shirt, shorts and a straw hat, as a kind of flashing neon sign that he’s not here in his professional capacity as Governor of Hawaii and Commander Steven McGarrett’s boss, but as Samuel Denning, a guy who wants to have a comfortable working relationship with his colleague.

What Sam didn’t count on, however, was that McGarrett would be having other company. Not that it’s a problem, necessarily. At first he even thinks it might be convenient when Detective Danny Williams is already there, because maybe this means he can get two birds with one stone.

Then Williams immediately receives a phone call he says he has to take, and Sam and McGarrett have a talk that Sam would call a success, and it’s all good. Until Williams returns.

He looks extremely nervous, wrecked almost, and some of that spills over onto McGarrett’s face. “You all good?” McGarrett asks.

Williams points at nothing, says “uh” a couple of times, and then comes out with it. “She’s not moving-”

“Grace?” McGarrett asks, like he needs the confirmation, even though that can’t be true. Even Sam already knows what this must be about, because of course he’s subtly followed developments in a custody case that impacts his island’s most elite crime-fighting taskforce.

Williams doesn’t even grace McGarrett’s question with a direct response. “The judge ruled in my favor. Shared custody – she cannot leave the island. She can not leave the island-”

McGarrett puts down his beer and jumps up. As much as he seemed to share Williams’ anxiety earlier, it’s nothing in comparison to how he now takes part in Williams’ relief and elation.

Sam watches them fall into and cling to each other, and it’s not so much a lightbulb moment as a sinking realization. There’s nothing out of the ordinary about finding two friends sitting near a beach and watching a sunset, per se, but this, the way they move together, look at each other and share this joy? This, combined with the things Sam has heard about how McGarrett behaved at the custody hearing this morning, interrupting proceedings to tell the judge Williams is a good father and that they’re very close? That doesn’t remind Sam of himself and his friends, it reminds him of himself and his wife.

Which is a potential problem.

He briefly, very briefly, wonders if he should get someone to look into the regulations on fraternization within Hawaiian law enforcement and the Navy, and how they would apply to this cobbled together special taskforce. Then he remembers full immunity and means, and decides that if McGarrett can use that to his advantage as an easy excuse to not have to deal with things he would rather not, then he can, too.

He’ll keep an eye on it, but as long as there are no glaring red flags, he doesn’t see a reason to break them up. They’ve made an efficient team so far. As much as Sam didn’t agree with many of his predecessor’s decisions, especially those that became apparent after her death, Five-0 has always been lauded as one of her greatest successes. Considering how obvious McGarrett and Williams are now that he’s seen them together, she must have known about them, too – if she didn’t do anything about it, he’s willing to trust her judgement just this once.

*

2.

It’s all fine and well that he’s decided to ignore the fact that the two leaders of his special taskforce are having an illicit relationship, but that’s a little hard when they don’t even seem to be trying to keep it from him.

He has to admit, though, that he does almost laugh out loud when McGarrett picks up the phone with a cheery, “Yo, did you forget to tell me how much you miss me?”

“Commander,” he says instead, affecting something he hopes sounds convincingly stern. It’s not very difficult, because the annoyance is very real too, under his amusement. “I believe you are well aware that is not an appropriate way to address a superior.”

He can’t see McGarrett’s face of course, but he can imagine it pretty well. “I uh, no,” McGarrett stammers, “I thought it was Detective… Williams.”

“Really?” Sam lets slip, because truly, if that’s the best McGarrett can come up with on short notice, Sam should maybe look into forcing all Hawaiian law enforcement to attend some improv classes. Either McGarrett is a terrible liar, or he’s just not a very smart man, leaving clues about his secret relationship strewn around like this.

Sam almost tells him this, but he’s still supposed to act like he has no clue about what’s happening between McGarrett and Williams. He doesn’t want to admit he knows and then be forced to decide if he’s going to make them face the consequences or if he’s going to keep a secret that could eventually come back and bite him in the ass. It’s easier to play dumb, even when McGarrett won’t.

“Don’t let it happen again,” is all he says, therefore.

“Yes sir,” McGarrett promises readily.

*

3.

Inviting Savannah Walker to follow the Five-0 taskforce around with a camera was a risk, Sam will admit. He had his doubts at first, but he’s glad to see that it worked out well for the most part. No reporters were maimed or killed, the public gets a look into the good work Five-0 does, and it’s a great advertisement for Hawaii to Savannah’s audience on the mainland.

Still, he can’t help but push his luck a little when he encounters Savannah at the afterparty that follows her live show. There were some things she said while she was in Williams’ car that Sam can’t get out of his head.

“What did you think of Commander McGarrett and Detective Williams?” he asks her, because even though he’s never sure he wants to dig into it, he’s morbidly curious. One of his biggest worries in forcing Five-0 to let Savannah ride along with them – apart from Savannah getting shot or McGarrett doing something just the wrong side of controversial on tape – was that McGarrett and Williams would completely forget the meaning of the word discrete. Their shadow in the form of a talk show host could easily have caught on to certain things.

“Oh, they were amazing,” Savannah gushes. Part of it is probably played up to fit her public persona, but Sam knows how to read people, and she’s not entirely faking this. “They work so well together. And like I said in the episode – they fight, but the love there is obvious.”

Sam keeps his nod as neutral as possible. “Yes, they certainly seem to have a very strong bond.”

Over at the buffet table, McGarrett is draped over Williams’ shoulder like that’s the only way to get to the shrimp, despite the fact that they have the entire buffet for themselves at the moment. Sam is very thankful that the cameras stopped rolling a while ago.

*

4.

Maria comes in with his daily morning briefing. Most of it is the usual stuff – his schedule for the day, updates on budgeting proposals, a reminder to call the head of a company that employs two hundred people on the island to personally invite him to the next fundraiser – but before she steps out the door of his office, she turns back to him.

“Oh, and I almost forgot, sir – Commander McGarrett called to inform you that he and Detective Williams have left the country and are not to be expected back for a couple of days.”

He is leafing through some of the papers she left him, but he looks up at that. “What? Again?”

“Apparently,” Maria says, looking a little apologetic in the face of his annoyance, even though it’s not directed at her. “Just the two of them, exactly like last time.”

‘Last time’ refers to six months ago, when McGarrett and Williams had suddenly taken off for Cambodia together. It’s not like they don’t have enough vacation time saved up to deserve a holiday every now and then, but Sam makes a mental note to tell McGarrett that he would appreciate receiving a heads-up a little earlier than an hour before their flight leaves.

“Do we know where they went?” he asks.

“Colombia, apparently.” That’s interesting. It doesn’t sound like the most obvious destination for a romantic getaway, but neither had Cambodia. It suggests that maybe they’re not gone for R&R, but rather for some private business that needs dealing with, except that it makes little sense that they would leave both Kalakaua and Kelly on the island both times if that were the case. Sam knows how close the members of his entire taskforce are. Something he can’t claim, on the other hand, is to have any clue what an ex-Navy SEAL and his Detective partner would consider romantic.

“At least it’s not Vegas,” he sighs, which earns him raised eyebrows from Maria.

“I don’t think Colombia has gay marriage,” she says, betraying that she knows exactly what he’s thinking of.

He sighs and rubs his eyes. “I think I would have to wish them well even if that were the case, at this point. They’re too much of an asset to break them apart over this. Not that it wouldn’t still be a clusterfuck of stories to spin if the media got wind of any of it.”

“It would present an interesting challenge for PR,” Maria agrees, which is as close as she will get to ‘fuck, you’re right, let’s hope that never goddamn happens’.

*

5.

He’s taking his lunchbreak in his office when Kalani calls him. “So?” he asks, as soon as he picks up. He doesn’t bother with a greeting, because they’ve known each other since college and they both know why she’s calling now. “What did you think?”

“I think they need a lot more counselling than I was able to give them in one session,” she says. “That’s a very interesting pair you sent my way, Sam.”

Sam pushes his half eaten salad to the other end of his desk and slides his middle desk drawer open. He gets his hidden Snickers bar out from under a stack of papers and puts it on top of the desk, just to look at, for now. He feels like he might need it. “What does that mean?”

Kalani sighs on the other end of the line. “McGarrett knows to the day how long they’ve known each other.”

“I’m not surprised,” Sam says, because he truly isn’t.

“They have a lot of issues. They couldn’t agree on anything except how much they didn’t want to be talking to me and how close they were to each other.”

That’s already more than enough. Sam traps the phone between his ear and shoulder so he has both hands free to tear the candy wrapper open.

Kalani continues her report. “I kept having to remind them that their boss, the Governor of Hawaii, asked me to oversee the annual psychological audit of personnel, but I don’t think it carried much weight. They kept interrupting each other to bicker over the smallest details. I’ve never met two people that young who reminded me of my grandparents quite so much.”

He has the good grace to swallow before he asks, “Your grandparents?”

“They were married for sixty years.”

Sam hums. “You think these two will manage that before they kill each other?”

“That’s not a very professional way to talk about your employees,” she mock-scolds, like she wasn’t the one who brought up marriage. “But I’ve scheduled another appointment with them, so we’ll see.”

“But you don’t think I was wrong in my estimation of them?”

Kalani leaves a bit of a pause, like she always does when she’s taking a question seriously. “No,” she admits. “I’m pretty sure they won’t tell me so outright, but I don’t think you were wrong, no.”

“Well.” The Snickers bar is gone and now he just has the empty wrapper to stare at, but it’s alright, because most of the guilt is drowned out by a feeling of vindication. “That’s one way to get the state to sponsor your marriage counselling.”

*

+1.

When Maria announces that McGarrett and Williams have called ahead and are on their way to meet with him, Sam wonders if he should cancel his dinner plans with his wife immediately, or hear them out first. He feels a headache coming on just thinking about what it could be this time. Nuclear bombs? Another fast-spreading virus? Mutated sharks that can walk on land and hunger for human flesh?

He has about fifteen minutes to worry about what that last one would do for the tensions between animal rights groups and the rest of the world, before Maria’s voice over the intercom informs him that his guests have arrived. He tells her to let them through immediately.

When they enter Sam’s office, McGarret takes a spot in front of the desk and stands at parade rest. Williams looks at him and rolls his eyes, but he crosses his own arms almost defensively, betraying his anxiety.

Sam decides to skip the offer for them to sit down. The two chairs for guests are right there in front of them, and he hopes a trained Navy SEAL would know how to use one if he wanted to. He carefully folds his hands on his desk. “You wanted to speak to me, gentlemen?” he prompts.

“Yes, sir,” McGarrett says, a little more stiff than Sam has seen him since they ironed out the initial issues in their working relationship. “We felt we should inform you of something that could affect our performance, even though we assure you that it will not, because we know how important this taskforce is to the safety of the island and that is and always will be our top priority, as a matter of course. We hope this will be nothing more than a formality.”

“Okay,” Sam says, curious now, despite the niggling fear that still resides in the back of his mind about the possibility of this ending in the evacuation of a few thousand people. “What is it, Commander? Spit it out.”

“We – Detective Williams and I, that is – we’re in a romantic relationship.”

Sam waits for more. McGarrett and Williams stare at him expectantly.

“I know,” he says, eventually, because he really thought they knew he knew, even if he’d never said it out loud.

“Oh,” McGarrett says. His shocked face and the almost perfect ‘o’ of his mouth are evidence enough that clearly no, he had no idea that Sam had any inkling about the real nature of his relationship with Williams.

“Hold up,” Williams says, frowning and angry, rather than relieved or surprised, “with all due respect, sir, how in the hell are you aware of a personal, private development between myself and Steve that happened four days ago inside his house, behind four walls, and that we’ve been very good about not bringing outside of our own homes since? Are we under surveillance, sir?”

Now it’s Sam’s turn to be bewildered. “Four days?”

“Yes, four days, because that’s when Steve first kissed me and-”

“Danny,” McGarrett pleads, a note of intense distress in his voice. Williams falls silent abruptly, and does look a little chastised at losing his temper like this in front of his superior.

Sam, for his part, doesn’t really care. “Four days?” he repeats, again. “Are you serious? I was under the impression that you had been hiding a romantic relationship from me – poorly, let it be said – for the entire time that I’ve been in office.”

“The- The, uh- What?” Williams says. It’s not very coherent, but it’s better than McGarrett, who looks like he would very much like to die on the spot just so he would never have to say another word again.

“We weren’t,” McGarrett eventually manages to piece together.

“I picked up on that, yes,” Sam assures him. He feels a little bad about torturing McGarrett and Williams like this, but he is too perplexed himself to quite know what to say. “In that case, I suppose congratulations are in order.”

“We’re not getting married,” Williams blurts, and then looks even more horrified than he had before.

“Well.” Sam shuffles some papers around on his desk. He’ll have to put them back how they were later, but it’s worth it for the brief moment it buys him. “If you ever do plan on it, let me know. I’m legally empowered to officiate weddings.”

“Uh,” McGarrett says. He darts a furtive glance at Williams. “Thank you. Uh, sir. We’ll… consider it?”

Williams opens his mouth like he has something to say to that, but then snaps it shut with an audible click. It’s gratifying to find that they have some semblance of professionalism left after all this.

Sam decides to put all of them out of their misery. “Would that be all, Commander?”

“I- Yes, I think so.”

“Alright. Thank you for keeping me in the loop. You can go now.”

“Yes, sir,” McGarrett says. Williams nods at Sam and turns to the door, which he is half pushed out of by McGarrett’s hands on his back when McGarrett almost barrels into him in his haste to escape.

When the door clicks shut behind them, Sam stares at it for a long moment. Then he drops his head in his arms, folded on the desk, and laughs, and laughs, and laughs a little more. By the time he’s finally calmed down and has managed to scrounge up a tissue from one of his desk drawers to wipe the tears from his eyes, the papers on his desk have been messed up even further. It’s still worth it.