|Baby Makes Three
Author: TB's LMC PM
Danny should've known better than to go on yet another hike with his partner…only this time, there's more than just a dead body to worry about. And way more than a broken arm. There's going to be bromance, hurt, comfort, friendship, team, mystery, action and you could probably even call it a casefic when all is said and done. Oh, and there's a baby.Rated: Fiction M - English - Hurt/Comfort/Friendship - Danny W. & Steve M. - Chapters: 8 - Words: 25,978 - Reviews: 123 - Favs: 55 - Follows: 82 - Updated: 06-29-12 - Published: 06-22-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8244007
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Steve wasn't quite sure what to do here, because from the moment Danny had scurried through the tent flap, and Steve had followed, practically pushing him across the twenty feet that stood between them and the jungle cover, tears had been streaming out of Danny's eyes like he was watching Enemy Mine rather than running for his life with Steve and a baby.
And Steve knew his partner well enough to know that meant Danny was in serious pain.
Not ten feet into the cover of trees and other thick foliage, there was a shout from behind them. "Shit!" Steve breathed. "They know we're gone, Danny, we gotta move!"
But instead of going faster, Danny stopped cold, Steve very nearly running into his back. "Can't," Danny panted, sagging back against the plaited, wall-like root-and-trunk of a Mangrove behind him. "Hurts."
Steve looked Danny up and down, heard lots of commotion back in the clearing, and his mind raced with what to do.
"Take Junior," Danny said, wiggling his fingers against the baby's back. "Get him…outta here…Steve…"
"Not leaving you, Danno," Steve growled, as if Danny could think that would ever be an option. What the hell kind of SEAL did he think Steve was, anyway, after all this time?
The words of the people who'd been holding them captive wafted to them clear as day. They were organizing a search party. They were coming after them.
"Steve," Danny ground out, making like he was going to double forward. Steve's hands reached out and quickly snatched the baby away, flipping him and laying him against his own shoulder. Miraculously, the kid barely moved in response. "No time," Danny panted, left hand coming down to grasp his thigh, face twisted in agony.
"Fuck, Danny, you can hit me later, but I do not leave any of my men behind," Steve whispered fiercely. He transferred the walking stick to his left hand, the stick and his hand and forearm now along the baby's back.
"Wha-?" Danny said, peering up at him, but Steve could see he was operating through a fog.
"Come on," Steve grunted as he bent forward, got his right shoulder under Danny's chest, and lifted him into the air.
He expected to get hit. Or at least, verbally abused for the maneuver.
That Danny was silent, and hanging limply there with only Steve's arm wrapped as far around the man's waist as he could get it holding him in place, chilled Steve to the bone.
But the voices were getting closer, so with Danny over one shoulder and Junior resting on the other, Steve did the only thing he could: he ran like hell.
"Lieutenant Chin Ho Kelly, Five-0," Chin stated as he approached the newly-arrived Unified Armed Services Search and Rescue Team Leader, hand outstretched.
"Commander David R. Allen, United States Navy," the uniformed man in his fifties with salt-and-pepper hair replied, shaking his hand. "I hear you've got men lost in that forest," he continued, jerking his thumb toward the old entryway to the park.
"That we do. Head of Five-0, Lieutenant Commander Steve McGarrett, and his partner, Detective Danny Williams."
"McGarrett? The former SEAL?"
"One and the same," Chin nodded, turning and looking at where two uniformed men, dressed in camo greens like the Commander, were spreading a large map over the dirt parking area.
"The man's practically a legend in some circles. His training should make our jobs easier."
"Yes, but there's also the possibility they're traveling with a child, and we don't know whether any of them are injured," Chin replied as they crouched down to get a look at the map.
"You know this jungle?"
"Not well, no. Steve knows at least some of it, though; he hiked these parts as a kid."
The Commander nodded and looked down at the map. "What do you think, Snapper?"
A guy who looked like a younger version of Brad Pitt squinted up at them through the sun in his eyes. "I think our best bet is to split up. Half the personnel here, including the local Parks team, should head toward that clearing where these sat photos Lieutenant Kelly provided show the encampment placement."
"And the other half head toward the falls?" Chin asked.
Snapper nodded. "Yes, sir. I believe we have enough of a complement here to effect a successful rescue and defend against any hostiles we may encounter. The question mark is determining where Commander McGarrett believes his best chance for survival is. If he was near the clearing and has escaped, would he head downstream or back toward the falls? Or. to throw another wrench into it, north away from the stream?"
Commander Allen looked at Chin, both men rising to their full height. "I know Steve," Chin said, "but the wild card here is whether either of them are hurt. If we're looking at Danny leading the charge, the thought process will be very different. He isn't likely to have a good grasp of his bearings out here like Steve is."
"I'm in charge of the Search and Rescue, Lieutenant, but these are your teammates. You know them. So it's your call."
Chin briefly closed his eyes. "Officer Kalakaua and a team of nine soldiers are hitting the ground at the clearing via chopper. If we consider that area fully covered, that leaves us with two teams, covering one additional direction we wouldn't have been able to before."
"Go on," Allen said with a nod.
"If Kono and that team find nothing at the clearing, I'll send them south to the stream, here, only a half-mile from their position," Chin said, pointing down to the map on the ground. "I propose half of us follow the old trails back toward the falls, because Danny may return there if he's the only one functioning. He'd know how to find the trail from that location; Steve wouldn't have taken him any other way than the main one."
"And the other half of my team," Allen concluded, "would go east along the stream."
"Exactly," Chin nodded. "Steve may head downstream to put distance between himself and the clearing, or he might also head back upstream to the falls to catch the trail. That is, if they don't push through the stream, which is what Kono will be looking for. If she finds nothing there, I'll get them back in the chopper to give us air support in case Steve chooses due north, past this next mile of clearing and then deeper into the jungle."
"I'm on-board," Allen said. "All right, everyone, come on, gather round, time to get your marching orders."
Chin watched as Commander Allen and his ten men and women, combined with eight local Search and Rescue men and the four cops from Haluua, gathered together in a large huddle. He heard Allen begin giving orders and dividing the men and women into the two teams. Chin pulled his cell phone out and speed-dialed Kono's number. He'd already decided he was going to head upstream because something told him that was where they'd find Steve and Danny.
And over the years, Chin Ho had learned to go with his gut.
Kono and the eight soldiers with her left Captain Griesbach in the pilot's seat of the helicopter, agreeing to split into pairs and check the remaining tents that were standing. She and a guy with MUELLER stitched onto the front of his green camo shirt headed for a still-standing tent about twenty feet from the forest on the northwest edge of the clearing. She took point, weapon drawn, and hesitated with her hand over the flap of the tent. Mueller nodded at her, and Kono whipped the flap back, with Mueller ducking quickly inside, carbine rifle at the ready.
The tent was empty, but there was a mattress on the floor that Kono could see had two indentations in its surface. She stepped closer as Mueller checked the four corners of the tent but found nothing. Just as Kono was about to turn away, she spotted something in the grass between the edge of the mattress and the tent wall, and crouched down to pick it up.
"Quest Bar," she said quietly, rising back to her full height as she read the label. "Coconut Cashew." Her eyes widened as a conversation – if you could call it that – that had taken place in their bullpen only last week came back to mind.
"Steve, Steven, I'm sorry, but coconuts and cashews do not a meal make!"
"It's a protein bar, Danny, no sugars added, highest protein content you can get with the fewest carbs. It'll fill you up 'til we can get a proper meal."
"Fill me up? I'm a man who was weaned on homemade lasagna, not a guy who's used to eating twigs and leaves in the jungle, and scorpions in the desert!"
"I never ate scorpions in the desert. Tried them once in Bangkok, though…"
And a silver-and-blue rectangular object had flown across the room like a missile, thwacking Steve in the breastbone and prompting Danny to do a touchdown dance that had them all in tears from laughing so hard.
"See, Mr. Bad-Ass SEAL? Don't need a protein bar to up my game."
"Steve was here," Kono breathed, stuffing the bar into the back pocket of her chinos. She raced back toward the tent flap, but stopped when a hail of gunfire assaulted her ears. She crouched on one side of the flap, Mueller on the other. They nodded at each other and both whipped their sides of the flap back at the same time.
The former camp was in chaos, with men and women running everywhere, all of them armed, all of them firing wildly at the chopper and the scattered soldiers looking for cover behind what few trees there were in the clearing.
Kono heard a voice come through Mueller's short-wave. "Have to take off, I've got damage to the fuel tank!" Her eyes widened. The chopper was leaving. She sprinted for the forest closest to their position. When she reached the edge of it, she turned to find that Mueller wasn't behind her.
He was down, writhing on the grass in pain. She pivoted, ran back to him, grabbed him under his armpits and dragged him to the edge of the jungle as she heard the helicopter take off. "Where you hit?" she asked as she deposited him in amongst some low-lying foliage.
"Fucker blew out my knee," Mueller spat, "goddammit!"
"All right, hang on," Kono said, holstering her weapon and looking all around for something she could use as a tourniquet. But before she could find anything, Mueller whipped a drab green handkerchief out of a pocket and shoved it at her. She nodded, grabbed it, slid it under his leg just above his left knee and quickly tied it so tight that Mueller yelped as she did so.
"Sorry," Kono said. "I'm getting help out here." She whipped her cell phone out even as the gunfire seemed to move further away from their position, and dialed her cousin.
"Kono, I was just about to call you."
"Cuz, we've been ambushed. The chopper took damage to the fuel tank, it had to lift off. Mueller, one of the soldiers, his knee's blown, we're at the northwest corner of the clearing just inside the canopy. We need help now!"
"Hang tight, we're on the way!" Chin told her, then she heard him starting to bark orders as she severed the line and stuffed the phone back into her pocket. Creeping forward while Mueller panted in pain behind her, she peeked out from behind a large, flat green leaf, but couldn't see a single soul beyond the tent. The gunfire began tapering off.
Mueller's radio came to life again. "This is Reagan, we've got four down, I repeat, four down, request immediate evac, over!"
"No can do, I've lost half my fuel and any spark from gunfire would turn me into a Roman candle. Get the injured under cover and stay put. You've got UAF teams headed your way, over."
"Understood, Captain! Reagan out!"
Kono took a deep breath and looked back down to Mueller, who'd gone silent and really pale, but was still conscious , staring up at the coconut tree palms overhead. Kono's eyes darted all around, beyond Mueller, still further to where the familiar latticework of a Mangrove tree could be seen about thirty feet beyond their position.
Only something seemed a little off about the greenery at its base and immediately beyond it. Kono frowned. She went back to Mueller, laid a hand on his shoulder and said, "Hang tight, help's on the way."
Mueller nodded, sweat dotting his forehead as he struggled to remain awake. Kono moved toward the Mangrove, and as soon as she reached it, she knew exactly what had grabbed her attention.
The long grass at the base of the tree was completely trampled, and it looked like it had to have been more than one pair of feet that did it. While the area was more than a single set of feet should've trampled, it didn't appear to be big enough to have been more than two or maybe three people.
She touched the tree's latticed trunk and looked to the left. Many of the stiffer leafs and flower stems from surrounding plants were broken off, but in a single line, as though only one set of feet had left the Mangrove.
"Think, Kono," she whispered to herself.
Two or three sets of prints tamping down grass and other foliage near the tree.
One set of footprints, evenly spaced as though the person had been running, leading away.
Two indentations in the mattress of the tent closest to this part of the forest.
Two or more people entered the forest here.
But only one kept going.
Yet there were no bodies anywhere around, and no indication that a full body had fallen and then been picked up.
So…two indentations on the mattress.
Two people entered the forest.
Only one kept going.
Kono snapped her fingers. "One carried the other!"
Which meant one of them was hurt. Quickly she pulled out her cell phone and dialed Chin's number.
"Kono, we're only about five minutes from the clearing."
"Chin, get over to the northwest quadrant. You'll find Mueller down here, but I think I may have picked up a trail that I need to follow while it's still fresh."
"Might be," Kono nodded. "Hurry, Chin."
Before Chin could respond, Kono cut the call off, drew her weapon, and began following the trail that had been left for her to find…whether on purpose, or not. Something told her she had to.
Steve stumbled. He was getting tired and Junior, as Danny had dubbed the baby, was not enjoying the jostling he was getting held tightly to Steve's shoulder and chest. So far he hadn't started wailing yet, but he was making noises, and for ones in Steve's, Danny's and Junior's current situation, no noises were good.
He finally allowed himself to stop, panting heavily as he crouched and not-so-gently dumped Danny into a bed of uluhe, a plush, green fern littering the forest floor. He was surprised to find Danny's eyes weren't closed; he'd assumed Danny had gone unconscious after being picked up.
"You okay?" Danny asked, and Steve blinked, remaining crouched next to Danny's legs as he, with great effort, pushed himself up into a sitting position.
"Think…I should…be asking you that," Steve puffed, wiping sweat from his brow. He looked down at Junior, who seemed…off to Steve somehow. "Danny…"
Danny looked up at Steve's face, then held out his good hand toward the baby.
"Why'd you go quiet when I…picked you up?" Steve asked between breaths as gently placed Junior into Danny's lap.
"I figured the same principal in not struggling when someone's trying to save you from drowning applies when someone's carrying your ass through the jungle," Danny replied, looking down at Junior and putting the back of his hand against the baby's forehead. "Shit."
"What? What's wrong?"
"He's too hot. It's probably your body heat, the air temp and the onesie combined. We need to get this thing off him, do we have any water?"
Steve shook his head, hands quickly undoing the snaps of the onesie. He pulled the little guy's arms out of it, and helped Danny pull it down and off the baby's legs, then balled up the small bit of cloth and stuffed it into a back pocket.
"We've got to cool him down, Steve."
"Well, we could head directly for the stream, but I really don't want to risk putting that water on a baby that small. Not with the bacterial content."
"You know, he already had it on him once; the falls were spraying both of us." Danny looked up into Steve's eyes. "And I sat right down in the water after catching him."
"I know," Steve replied, understanding by the look on Danny's face that he knew damn well that thanks to the pike wound, he was probably infected already.
"Hey, wait a minute," Danny said, fanning his good hand over the baby's face to try and cool him, "you think this little guy was living in those tents with whoever those people are?"
"It's a possibility. I think they were all Caucasian from what I saw, and he certainly seems to be. The woman who picked him up when we were captured, she had hair colored like his is there on the top of his head."
"So maybe she's his mother?"
Steve shrugged, looking all around them.
"Steve what if Junior's already infected?"
Steve's head whipped back to look at his partner. He ignored the dull ache at the base of his skull from having been knocked out earlier. "What?"
"Look, those people are haoles, and trust me, I know haoles since I fit the bill," Danny said, still trying to fan Junior's face and body as the infant stared dully at Danny's face. "And the few I saw were paler than me. So that means they might not know about the freshwater here. If they've been drinking it, using it to bathe in, using it in their food, then Junior could already be infected."
"So it might be the bacteria and not the heat that's affecting him," Steve concluded.
Danny nodded. "In which case, the cool water of the stream could only help him at this point."
"All right," Steve said with a curt nod. "We'll head south toward the stream, but I'd rather come in a good distance from the falls."
"Okay," Danny said, then looked down at Junior. "We'll get you out of here, big guy," he said quietly, "I promise you. Uncle Steve and me, we got this."
Steve half-smiled at them as he wiped the sweat off his forehead again. He looked up at the tall canopy trees overhead, down at the mid-level trees, back to Danny and Junior, his mind going through every possibility he could think of to make the next half-to-three-quarter mile trek easier on Danny. And then he heard a sound. His eyes widened; he held up a hand palm-flat in Danny's direction. Danny remained silent.
There it was again. It sounded like a herd of elephants was slamming its way through the overgrowth. "We gotta go!" Steve whispered, rising and taking the baby in his arms as he did. "Danny," he said, not caring if he sounded like he was pleading.
"I can make it," Danny said, holding his good hand up, a look of sheer determination on his sweat-shiny face.
Steve hiked Junior up against his shoulder again, reached out with his right hand and grasped Danny's, pulling him firmly but as gently as he could to his feet. "Don't let go of me, Danny, whatever you do," he said, squeezing his partner's hand. "I mean it."
Danny's face was twisted in pain like Steve had never seen, but they didn't have a choice here. If they didn't move, their captors would grab them again. Or worse yet, just kill them on the spot.
So Steve took off, not going as fast as he could've without having to keep hold of Danny, but not willing to leave his partner behind. Not to spare his own life, certainly, but not even to spare Junior's, who wouldn't be alive right now at all if not for Danny.
It was the three of them making it out alive, Steve kept telling himself, or it was none of them making it out at all.