Detective Danny Williams raced his Camaro along the busy afternoon highway, ignoring the indignant honking and occasional cursing from the many unfortunate drivers that got in his way. His last phone conversation with his partner was playing over and over in his mind like a broken record, making him press the gas pedal even harder.
"Danny, listen, don't freak out, okay? There's been an… incident."
"What kind of incident?" Danny snapped, feeling his heart rate jump several beats higher.
There was a pause on the other end, and he heard Steve sigh as if in resignation. "Wo Fat," was the whispered reply.
Those two words were enough to turn Danny's world upside down. His voice trembling now with real fear, he gripped the phone so tightly that the device squeaked pitifully under pressure. "Wh-where…" he managed to blurt out.
"Over by Kamekona's. Grace wanted some shave ice so…" There was another pause, and Steve added in a voice that sounded pained somehow: "She's okay, Danny. A little scared, but okay."
"I'll be there in ten," Danny barked, not bothering to acknowledge his partner's last statement, as he felt panic begin to take hold.
Now as he was speeding toward his destination, horrified by the prospect of what he might see (no, he didn't fully trust the Super SEAL's definition of "okay"), he started to feel anger slowly take up residence alongside fear. Anger at the pile of paperwork that had him stay at the office later than usual. Anger at the two stupid punks that were the cause of all that paperwork. Anger at himself for being "stupid, stupid, stupid" in deciding to ask Steve to pick up Gracie from school. And a rapidly growing anger at his partner for managing to attract trouble wherever he went.
By the time he made it to Kamekona's shave ice stand, the entire place was cordoned off with yellow tape and police cars were everywhere. His mouth suddenly dry with worry, Danny jumped out of the car and froze, staring past the flashing police lights at the white ambulance truck and the bullet-riddled blue Silverado standing next to it.
"Oh God, Gracie!" Forcing his suddenly wooden legs to move, he pushed past the police officers, barking "Five-0" at the pair of hands that made a grab at him, and rushed toward the mangled vehicle, broken glass crunching under his feet. "Grace! Gracie!"
His desperate scream was answered a fraction of a second later as a tiny body flew into him full-speed, wrapping the little arms around his feet. "Danno!"
"Oh, Monkey!" Eyes closed in relief that almost overwhelmed him, Danny felt the sudden need to sit down, as he crushed his little girl close to his chest. "Are you hurt anywhere?" he asked finally, reluctantly pulling her away to get a better look.
She shook her head, smiling shakily. "Uncle Steve protected me, Daddy."
"I told you she was fine, Danny," his partner's voice sounded somewhere above his head, and the Jersey native sprang to his feet, anger taking full hold of his emotions.
"Fine? Fine?" the Jersey native countered, his voice rising a few octaves as he spoke, hands gesticulating wildly. "You call this fine? Have you seen your car? Or should I say 'the little spaces between the bullet holes that are left of it'? In what universe does having an eight-year-old be shot at qualify as being fine? Or how about watching four thugs being shot to death?" he stuck his hand in the direction of the four bodies that lay a few feet away from Steve's truck, undoubtedly dispatched by the Super SEAL.
"They must have been trailing me, Danny, I'm sorry," Steve offered tiredly, guilt written clearly on his face. "I did what I had to do." Raising his hands slightly in an almost unconsciously pleading gesture, he added in a quieter voice, "You know I wouldn't let anything happen to Gracie, right?"
This phrase, however, only served to make the blond detective angrier. The rational part of him knew that this anger was misplaced and that, instead of standing here yelling at his partner, who, Danny was certain of it, had done all he could to protect his little girl, he should be doubling (no, quadrupling) his efforts to get the bastard who was truly responsible for this mess. Yet, as was common for him in situations that were highly stressful, Danny chose to ignore that rational part.
"Is this not letting anything happen to her? Really, Steven?"
Instead of a response, the Jersey native shoved the Navy man forcefully against the side of the ambulance. "Stay the hell away from Grace and stay the hell away from me," he bit out and stormed off, Grace tucked securely against his chest.
The ex-SEAL stared after his partner, trying to ignore the burning pain radiating across his back. Eyes clouded with hurt and confusion, he forced and failed to get his mind to comprehend what had just happened. All he knew was that he had somehow failed his partner and that he needed to find a way to fix things.
Feeling somebody's eyes on him, he turned to find himself looking at the concerned faces of the other two members of his team. The cousins have been observing his and Danny's exchange from a short distance, and neither of them missed the sharp hiss of pain when their boss's back connected sharply with the side of the truck, nor the sudden pallor of his face – all telltale signs of an injury.
"Are you okay, Boss?"
"Fine, Kono," the man responded hoarsely, forcing a smile onto his lips.
"Maybe you should get checked out, brah," Chin echoed, clearly unconvinced.
Steve shook his head, suddenly becoming aware that his arms were still raised defensively at his sides. Almost angrily he shoved them back into his pockets, frowning as his right hand connected with a small device in his pocket. Pulling it out, he fingered it absently in his hand, his mind already working on an idea.
"Is that a dead guy's cell?"
Chin's voice interrupted his musings, and Steve blinked, his gaze settling on the older man.
"Can I borrow your bike, man?" he asked, ignoring the question.
Chin's frown deepened. "You're not thinking about doing something stupid, eh Boss?"
Another attempt at a smile greeted Chin's words. "Don't worry about it. I just … I got something I gotta do and my car is, well, not drivable at the moment." His attempt at levity was failing miserably, and he could see that Kono was about to object. Before she could say anything, though, Chin pulled out his keys, handing them over to the waiting man.
"You know that going it alone is suicide, right?" he asked calmly, his dark eyes searching the younger man's face.
Steve laughed bitterly. "That's rich coming from a man who was willing to risk going to jail over something he didn't do."
Chin sighed in defeat, and the former SEAL clapped him reassuringly on the shoulder. "Besides, who says I'm planning to do anything stupid anyway? " he grinned, and then glanced back in the direction, where his partner had gone, his smile vanishing, replaced by an expression of raw pain. "Take care of him, all right?" he whispered brokenly and, without giving them a chance to respond, turned abruptly and walked away.
The cousins glanced at each other, their faces dark with worry.
"He's hurt, Cuz," Kono supplied unnecessarily, pointing at the red stain that stood out clearly against white paint of the ambulance.
"I know," Chin responded through clenched teeth. "Probably more so on the inside," he added silently, watching the younger man take off on his bike.
"Danny shouldn't have –"
"He was upset, Kono. He probably didn't even realize…"
The Rookie's mouth was set in a grim line, her eyes drawn back to the smear of blood on the truck. "He's planning to go after Wo Fat, isn't he?" she asked, her voice small.
Chin nodded. "Most likely."
"Then we have to stop him!" Receiving no response, she prodded, louder this time, "Cuz!"
The older Hawaiian turned to face her, noting the look of desperation in her dark eyes, and shook his head in resignation. "I doubt we'll have much luck with that."