This is the first story I started for 5-0, but not the first I finished. I can see in the text how long it took me to write it. The relationship between Steve and Danny seems in its early stage, like before Danny hurt his knee; but there are references to later events. I decided to let it stand as is.

Rated T for language and violence, but nothing out of line for the show.

"I wish I had your faith in my immortality," Danny Williams said.

Ace in the Hole

Chapter 1: The Hole

"Danny, see if you can cut him off." Steve McGarrett pointed to the left as he plunged through the underbrush after a suspect.

City born Danny Williams didn't see anything resembling a path to the left, but he obediently peeled off in that direction.

"I've got the right flank," Chin Ho Kelly said, moving off at an angle.

Rookie Officer Kono Kalakaua stuck to Steve's heels, constantly checking their back trail in case the suspect doubled back or tried to ambush them.

The Hawaii Five-0 officers had been unable to surprise Raymond Barrett in his hunting camp. The survivalist had fled through a tunnel of all things. The police officers pursued, but Barrett knew the ground too well.

Steve continued to pursue after he lost sight and sound of his quarry.

Chin cut over to intercept his boss. "He's gone, Steve. We've lost him."

Steve came to a reluctant halt, gnashing his teeth in frustration. They all listened, but could only hear the wind rustling the foliage. Kono turned in a full circle, frowning.

"We lost him," Steve admitted in disgust.

"Don't look now, boss, but I think we lost Danny, too," Kono said, worry in her voice.

Moments after being sent to the left, Danny plunged through a screen of bushes and plunged over an embankment into a pit. By the time he got his breath back, the sounds of pursuit had faded. He picked up the gun he'd dropped in his fall, wiped off the dirt and checked it for damage.

He started to yell, but thought better of it. Barrett was a cop killer. He hated all government authority, particularly the ones with badges. Danny wouldn't want to attract Barrett's attention while he was stuck in a hole.

And stuck he was. The pit wasn't deep, but deep enough that the not-very-tall detective couldn't reach the rim without a running start, and there was no room to run. The steep, dirt sides were too crumbly to climb. He started a miniature landslide when he tried and had to back away, coughing at the dust he'd raised. Danny was well and truly stuck.

Danny dusted off a stone and sat. A small green lizard regarded this intruder for a long moment, then scuttled away straight up the wall of the pit.

"You're just showing off," Danny told the lizard ruefully, just before it vanished over the lip of the ravine.

He saw dark spots in the dirt that looked as if they'd once been wet. He touched a spot with his finger and sniffed. Blood. He hoped it was just animal blood, but was just as glad he hadn't called aloud for help.

The detective put a sample in an evidence bag and then pulled his phone out of his pocket. He had bars. He could call for help, but he hesitated. He didn't want to distract his friends while they were pursuing such a dangerous felon. He'd better wait until they noticed he was missing.

Ten minutes later, he was still waiting and he was getting mad. Finally his phone rang with the caller identified as McGarrett.

"Did you catch him?" Danny demanded.

"No. Where are you?"

"Do I look like Ranger Rick?" Danny replied. "I'm in a hole somewhere. Not far from where you last saw me. I'm stuck."

"Why didn't you use your phone to call for help?" Steve said in exasperation.

"Because Miss Etiquette says it's not polite to interrupt a foot pursuit with personal calls," Danny said in equal exasperation. "Look, you want to come and get me? Or should I just wait until Barrett comes back. He and I can play fish in a barrel and I'll be the fish."

Chin and Kono began to jog back the way they'd come, forcing Steve to follow. The cars were back that way anyway.

"All right. We're on our way. Sit tight," Steve told Danny.

"Ha. Ha. Ha," Danny replied mirthlessly.

"He's in a hole," Steve said in disbelief, as he caught up with the others.

"It's not funny, boss," Chin reproved. "Even if he doesn't know about Danny, Barrett knows we have to come this way to get back to our cars. He's ambushed cops before."

"Right," Steve agreed. "Right," he said again with an entirely different tone. Danny might really be in trouble. He began to move faster. "Pick it up, then. But keep your eyes open."

Steve and Chin both had experience hunting in jungles — though most of Steve's prey had walked on two legs. They had no trouble finding the place where Danny had split off, but then they had a quandary. Should they shout for their friend? If Barrett was close, he might get to Danny first.

They exchanged querying looks; then Chin shrugged. "I don't think Barrett doubled back," he said. "I think it's safe enough to shout."

Steve agreed, but they all drew their weapons just in case. Kono again watched their backs, scanning the surrounding brush repeatedly.

"Danny!" Steve shouted.

"Here!" came a faint reply.

Following the shouts, Chin pushed through a screen of brush.

"Watch it!" Danny warned sharply.

Chin teetered on the edge of the drop off, which made Danny feel a little better. Even knowing about the pit, Chin had almost joined him at the bottom.

Danny holstered his gun as his friends regarded him. The detective was covered in dirt, but his pugnacious attitude was undiminished. He put his hands on his hips and looked up. "Well?" he demanded.

Steve made a loop of his belt; then lowered it below the rim so Danny could reach it. Together Steve and Chin hauled the detective to the surface.

"Thanks," Danny said to Chin, pointedly ignoring Steve.

The argument didn't start until after they'd returned to headquarters and gotten cleaned up.

"I was never a Navy SEAL. I wasn't even a Boy Scout. The only time I went camping, it rained the whole time. We spent a week playing pool in the rec center! I don't do forests!" Danny exclaimed.

"It's a jungle," Steve retorted.

"I don't do jungles, either. Why are you so angry?" Danny said angrily.

"All you had to do was cut him off!"

"I fell in a hole. Did I say I was Daniel Boone or Tarzan or Dora the Explorer? No! You're asking for a skill set I do not have. I was a street kid. I do streets and alleys and the occasional shopping mall! Not forests or jungles or whatever!" He threw his hands in the air.

"Why are you so angry?" Steve demanded.

"Because I fell in a HOLE, and you ran off and left me! You didn't even notice I was gone! What kind of partner runs off and leaves his partner in a hole?"

"Partner? This has nothing to do with partners."

"It has everything to do with partners! A partner is supposed to watch your back. Not run off and leave you in a hole! You could get me killed and you wouldn't even notice!"

"I'd notice when it got quiet for 10 minutes!"

"It's just noise to you, isn't it? I talk and you don't listen," Danny clutched the sides of his head as he heard his own words. "I feel like I'm back in couples therapy," he said in disgust.

"How'd that work out for you?" Steve asked the divorced detective sarcastically.

"About the way this mismatched task force is working out," Danny responded more calmly, but with no less feeling. "A cop — a real cop — backs up his partner. But maybe I'm asking for something that's not in your skill set. We're peace officers. You're a war officer. Maybe this will never work out. We'll just follow you into combat until you get us killed li..."

Danny snapped his teeth shut with an audible click. He bent his head, closed his eyes and put his fist over his mouth as if he was physically holding back words that wanted to vomit out.

Anger flared up in Steve. It confused him, because he couldn't pinpoint why he was so mad. "What?" he demanded.

Danny shook his head, pressing his finger to his lips as if to pin them shut.

Steve's fury demanded action. He stormed out of the war room, striding rapidly to cool himself off.

Danny dropped into a seat, panting as if he'd run a mile. Kono stared at him, alarmed by all the shouting. Danny and Steve argued all the time, but this had been different, more intense. Chin met Danny's eyes and shook his head sadly.

"I know. He made me so angry, I almost said Unforgivable Words," Danny confessed.

"What's that?" Kono asked tentatively.

"The couples counselor warned us about saying Unforgivable Words. When you throw an accusation at your partner just to cause pain. And it's worse when it's partly true."

"I can guess what you were going to say," Chin said.

"And so could Steve, judging by his reaction; but I didn't say it," Danny said triumphantly.

"What?" Kono asked.

"Until we get killed like Steve's unit in Korea," Chin said.

"'Like your last team.' That's what I almost said," Danny said bleakly.

"Oh. And there's just enough truth in that to really hurt," Kono said.

Steve's unit had been ambushed because Victor Hesse traced a call on Steve's cell phone.

"But it's not true. It wasn't Steve's fault, it was Hesse's," Danny said. "And accusing Steve of getting them killed would not be fair or accurate."

"A good partner wouldn't do that," Chin pointed out.

Danny nodded.

"I'll go see if Steve's cooled off yet," Chin offered and left the office.

"If it's any consolation, you did the right thing, Danny," Kono offered. "If you get lost in the jungle, stay put and call for help."

The detective looked at the girl as if she was crazy. "Kono, I couldn't have gone anywhere even if I'd known where to go! I was stuck … in a hole!"

Kono remembered, and began to giggle. She grimaced an apology but couldn't stop. "In a hole!"

Danny took many things seriously — his responsibilities as a father, his duty as a police officer, his efforts to civilize wild man McGarrett — but he didn't take himself seriously. He had a fund of stories about his own embarrassing moments and realized he'd now added another one.

Kono's laugh infected him and he began to chuckle. "In a hole!"

"Are you ever going to tell me the story about Hoboken, Halloween and how you got tased?" she asked.

The phone rang as he opened his mouth.

Chin found Steve in the rest-room with his head under the cold water tap. The SEAL surfaced and grabbed a wad of paper towels to dry off.

"I don't know why I got so angry. I don't usually let him get to me," he said. "But, honestly, I don't understand him. Did you understand a word he said?"

"Sure, boss," Chin Ho answered calmly.

Steve deflated. "You did?"

He hadn't expected that. Sometimes Five-0's group dynamics set the three Hawaiians against the New Jersey native, but other times it worked out as the three cops against the Naval Intelligence officer.

"Sure. You have to watch out for your partner. It's important. But it's confusing for Danny, because sometimes you're his partner and sometimes you're his boss."

"And it's not the same thing."

It wasn't a question, but Chin answered it anyway. "No, it's not."

"Does it bother you?"

"Not so much, but you're not my partner. Kono is my partner. You and Danny gotta work out the partner/boss ratio. And you've got to remember Danny's not military."

Steve laughed. "That's not hard. I've never met anyone less military. He'd wind up with a court martial or a Section 8."

"He's not crazy. He's just a cop and the idea of partners is important to him," Chin said. "Maybe it's just a cop thing, but, then, I'm just a cop." He rubbed his jaw thoughtfully. "Don't the SEALs have something like it. 'No man left behind.'"

"'No man left behind.' And I did leave him behind, didn't I?"

"In a hole," Chin agreed, his lips twitching with a grin he tried to suppress. Danny had looked pretty funny in that ravine.

"In a hole." Steve shook his head and didn't try to hide his grin.

Kono banged on the bathroom door. "Hey guys! We just got a tip about Barrett."

They decided to take one car to attract as little attention as possible. None of the Five-0 vehicles would be inconspicuous in the poor neighborhood, so they took the Camaro as the most comfortable ride for the four of them.

Though Danny didn't say any more — a miracle in itself, Steve thought — the others knew he was still irritated when he got behind the wheel. Though it was his car, he usually let Steve drive. It had been most convenient when Danny hurt his right knee, making driving painful and climbing into Steve's pickup impossible. That dynamic had continued when the knee healed. Danny had had too many partners who'd insisted on driving to worry about it, except during pursuits. He always wished he was driving during pursuits. Today he drove as a silent protest.

To keep the protest silent, Steve asked Chin about the informant they were going to meet.

"He's always been reliable. He was right about the hunting cabin," Chin pointed out. "What did he say exactly?" he asked Kono.

"He said he wanted to see 'Five-0' about Barrett the cop-killer," the rookie answered.

"He wanted to see all of us?" Chin asked.

"He sounded scared. He said he wants protection," answered Danny, who had asked the same question when Kono put the call on speaker. "He said there is too much corruption in the police force and he only feels safe in a crowd. He said there's a cop working with Barrett."

A cop helping a cop-killer. The idea was almost too terrible to contemplate, but they'd run into corruption on the HPD several times.

Danny parked as directed on the street near the entrance of an alley. He left the tail of the Camaro slightly overhanging the alley, with a cop's typical insouciant manner toward traffic laws.

It was the rare Honolulu neighborhood that reminded Danny of New Jersey. The Camaro was parked in front of a building that housed a commercial laundry on the bottom two floors with small, cheap apartments above. The back that faced the alley had no windows on the ground floor and barred windows on the second. The third and fourth floors had large windows facing out onto fire escapes. The ground floor had two metal doors, both padlocked on the outside — utterly illegal and a definite firetrap, Danny thought.

Chin's informant leaned against a 1960s pickup that had seen better days. He didn't look around as the Five-0 team approached passing several cardboard boxes and a poster plastered on the wall advertising a local band, the Xperts, with a big, fluorescent pink X.

Chin and Steve were focused on the informant, while Danny scanned the area. The pickup was parked along the alley that ran beside the laundry. The far side of the alley was blocked by a 9-foot chain-link gate, also padlocked.

As the team entered the alley, it opened up on the right side into a loading dock that served the four-story, U-shaped warehouse that filled that half of the block. A box truck was parked on the far side of the loading dock while the near side was littered with dumpsters, trashcans and cardboard boxes.

The warehouse had no windows, just metal fire doors in the center of each wall. Instead of fire escapes, the doors opened on concrete landings with waist-high stucco walls instead of railings. In defiance of fire codes, the landings were used to store junk, including a dented refrigerator box and a bicycle with no handlebars on the third floor landing and two metal trashcans on the balcony above.

Danny realized that the fire doors on the warehouse could only be opened from the inside and the padlocks on the laundry doors and the gate were shiny new. There was only one way out of the alley, the way they'd just come in. Danny stopped and drew his weapon.

"I've got a bad feeling about this," he announced, disrupting Steve's laser focus on the informant.

The commander looked back at Danny; then drew his weapon, too. He knew his partner had good instincts.

"You're going to scare our friend," Chin chided. He approached the informant with Kono right at his shoulder.

"Chin," Steve warned, backing away as he picked up a serious danger vibe from Danny.

"Chin, all the exits are chained up. This alley is a box," Danny called.

The informant turned. His resigned face was wet with tears and his hands were bound to the pickup's door handle behind him.

"I'm sorry, Kelly. I'm really sorry! But you shouldn't have let him get away," the man said sadly.

"Chin, take cover!" Steve yelled, but his call was drowned by the crack of a rifle.

The bullet blew through the informant, thorough the door of the pickup, out the other side and blasted a hole in the wall behind it. The informant's body slumped to its knees, dangling from the door handle.

"Shit!" Danny and Steve dove back the way they'd come into the feeble shelter of the dumpsters. Chin and Kono leaped forward, dodging around the pickup and crouching behind the engine, a much safer position.

"Those were armor-piercing rounds," Steve exclaimed

"Thank you, Karnak the Magnificent," Danny said sarcastically from his position flat on the alley floor where, he realized, he was ruining his second suit of the day.

"Chin, Kono, are you OK?" Steve called.

"We're good," Chin answered.

"Not for long," chimed in another voice, a gloating. "Soon you'll be joining that filthy snitch in the Great Beyond."

"Barrett?" Steve asked.

"Bright boy," Barrett mocked. "I found this killing field months ago, but I couldn't decide who to use it on, until you Five-0 pests annoyed me. You'll find your cell phones and radios don't work here and I cut the landlines myself. It's a dead zone, cop, and it'll be your death zone."

Danny and Kono were already trying to call for backup, to no avail. "He's right," each one told his/her partner.

"Can you spot Barrett?" Danny asked.

"I see a rifle barrel sticking out from behind those trash cans on the fourth floor landing," Steve answered. "We need our rifle," he continued, nodding in the direction of the street where Danny's Camaro was parked. "I'll cover you."

"Better not," Danny said. "He's out of range and he knows it. If you can't make him duck, he'll know something's up when you start shooting."

"Oh, I can make him duck," Steve promised.

Danny saw the "never say die" look cross Steve's face and sighed.

"I wish I had your faith in my immortality," Danny groused, as he prepared to sprint.

He sidled toward the edge of the dumpster, took a deep breath and nodded at Steve.

Steve popped around the far side of the dumpster and began firing rapidly at the balcony. He aimed high, so the bullets were on a downward trajectory when they struck the edge of the balcony inches below the sniper's hands. Kono and Chin followed Steve's lead and joined the fusillade.

The sniper ducked all right.

Head bent in instinctive, but futile, defense, Danny ran flat out for the corner. The space between his shoulders itched and he was oddly aware of scents — dog turds on the pavement, a chemical smell from the paste sticking a poster to the brick wall, the faint sick smell of rotting meat. He caught a glimpse of a plaid shirtsleeve and a motionless hand inside a cardboard box beneath the poster. Had some homeless person disputed Barrett's occupation of the alley?

Danny dodged around the corner, out of reach of even armor-piercing bullets. He leaned against the bumper of the Camaro, panting as if he'd run a triathlon. He scratched furiously between his shoulder blades, as he tried to call for back up again. No bars. And no luck with the car's radio, either.

"Dead zone. Total dead zone," Danny said aloud, and hoped that wasn't an omen, as he retrieved the rifle from the trunk.

A few passersby, who had paused at the sound of shots, scattered at the sight of Danny's rifle. When he waved his badge, they only moved faster. Only one woman who had been waiting at the bus stop hesitated long enough for Danny to approach her. The skinny black woman wore clothes that were threadbare but clean. She smelled of disinfectant. Danny deduced she was a maid or custodian.

He identified himself and asked her to call 9-1-1.

"Tell them Five-0 is taking fire from a sniper with armor-piercing rounds, got that?"

"Yes, detective, but the building where I work is three blocks that way. That's the closest place I know with a phone that works."

"Here, take mine." Danny handed her his cell phone with the HPD speed dial on the screen. "Keep trying and maybe you'll get through before you go three blocks." More shots from the alley distracted the detective — booming shots, as of rounds punching through an empty, echoing dumpster. "I gotta get back to my friends. Hey, try not to lose the phone. It's got pictures of my daughter on it."

The woman gave a timid smile; then began trotting down the street, holding the cell phone to her ear.

Danny checked the rifle; then flattened his back against the brick wall. "Steve!"

"Where've you been, China?" the commander shouted back. Steve was lying flat in a foul-smelling puddle of water between the building and the dumpster. Three shots had punched through the dumpster above his head and burrowed like termites into the brick wall. His back was orange with brick dust and rust as he elbow-dragged himself toward the edge of the dumpster nearest Danny's position.

Chin and Kono were in a slightly safer position, on the opposite side of the alley from Steve, crouched behind the solid engine block of the ancient pickup.

"On my count," Danny shouted. "Total of my daughters and your sisters." He took a deep breath and again was hyperaware of odors, fresh corpse in the cardboard box just beginning to attract flies, honest dirt … "One!" he shouted, then plunged around the corner on two … and caught that funny chemical smell again. Before his conscious mind made the connection, his reflexes reversed course. Two long steps took him to the sidewalk; then he dived around the corner.

The Five-0 team caught one glimpse of their friend, then a shot cracked and the wall where Danny had been disintegrated in a thunderous explosion.

To be continued