By: Ridley C. James
A/N: No beta on this one guys, she is on a much deserved vacation and I wanted to post this before the finale, so all mistakes are mine. Honestly I thought she might kill me if I told her I wrote yet another one shot when I have a multi-chapter in progress for another fandom but sometimes a girl just needs to write whatever is on her mind. Last night was one of those nights, hence this little coda to episode 23, which in my mind falls just before whatever whirlwind events will take place in the finale. I am not speculating any outcomes just adding a little filler, but there are spoilers for the episodes thus far so be warned. For those of you who don't like my 'just jump into the story' style, this frenzied one shot might drive you crazy, but there is a payoff of a little hurt and comfort to look forward to in the end. I promise I intend to write a multi-chapter complete story in this verse, really I do.
"Our greatest glory is not in never failing; but in rising every time we fail."-Confuscius
Control was a funny thing for Steve McGarrett. He both craved it, like one craved air when they were submerged at the bottom of the ocean without out an oxygen source, and hated it, like a strung-out junkie loathed their favorite drug of choice.
"I don't care if it hasn't been but two hours I, the commander of Five-O, want an all points bulletin issued immediately, do I make myself clear or should I explain 'blanket means' to you." Steve gripped the steering wheel of his truck, trying to keep his head from exploding as he listened to the dispatcher hem and haw about regulations, yammering on and on about operating procedures and clearances. "Issue the fucking APB or I'll be sending a broadcast of my own to Governor Jameson and then I'll be visiting you in person to relay her response and my offense to your blatant disregard for chain of command."
Steve viciously stabbed the end button on his cell, tossing it in the empty seat that was mocking him as he veered in and out of the early morning traffic hell bent on making it in record time to the safe house where they had stashed Sang Min. If his partner, Danny Williams had been present he would have used this moment to point out Steve's piss-poor people skills, suggesting his lack of respect for their support system might be one of the prominent reasons several of their HPD counterparts had come to the conclusion that Lt. Commander Steve McGarrett was an insufferable bastard.
"Screw them, Danno." Steve could give a shit about whose toes he was currently stepping on. He gunned the gas, swerving around a silver Prius in the carpool lane. A 'yes sir' was the only reply he expected when he issued an order. There was no time for discussion in battle. Steve considered most of their cases a trip into the trenches, but when one of his own was involved he viewed the situation as full on war.
Steve couldn't pinpoint exactly when his strange courtship with control started but it made sense that maybe his mother's death was the catalyst. He'd once told Danny that the car bomb that killed his mother set in motion the man he was to become, but Steve recognized that it could have started before then because of his father's job. Even a little kid understood being a cop was dangerous-just look at Gracie. Perhaps in Steve's child mind he zeroed in on the fact that bad things happened to those he loved when he wasn't there to protect them, when they were out of his reach, rationalizing that if he had only been there then the outcome would have been different. In his young and impressionable psyche, he was a factor in the equation, possibly the most important variable. Steve believed he was ultimately responsible.
It's why he demanded to be allowed to ride in the ambulance with Danny on the way to the hospital two days before at the raid on Wo Fat's hide out, why he was the one to stay at the hospital as his partner fought for his life after being exposed to Sarin. Steve picked up Grace to bring her to her father, not only because it was what a partner would do, what Danny would expect him to do, but because he needed to have the little girl in his sight, under his guard. Failure occurred due to a lack of vigilance on Steve's part.
Steve cast another quick look to the passenger's seat, wishing his partner was there to call bullshit even if it irritated the hell out of him when Danny devil's advocate and amateur therapist. Danny would no doubt rant that Steve's warped sense of duty and monstrous ego were his greatest enemies, but Steve knew better. Chaos was Steve's strongest foe and he battled it mercilessly by remaining in control at all times. The successes were many, like rescuing Mary from her kidnappers, saving Chin from Hess's bomb, but the failures, while few were spectacular-his mother, his dad…and now possibly Danny as well.
Danny Williams had a spring in his step. Even the sweltering heat that should have been impossible at such an early hour of day couldn't dampen his sense of elation and peace with its smothering humidity. He'd broken out of his morning routine after his follow up at the hospital, allowing some time to enjoy his coffee and breakfast at the beach of all places, admitting if only to himself that the scenery of the islands could be awe-inspiring. He even had an unusual urge to grab his board and head off into the waves.
Of course he realized this new sense of appreciation for his environment could easily be explained by the fact he was on death's door only a few days before. He refused to believe that the insufferable islands were starting to feel a little bit like home. It didn't hurt that his new lease on life also held the potential to be filled with possibilities of reclaiming his family, an idea he would never even let himself entertain just weeks ago. Both factors were undoubtedly contributing to his optimism and willingness to give Hawaii another chance. Reasons be damned, Danny was determined to enjoy the high while it lasted, which was all the time it took for him to cross the threshold into work.
"Danny!" Kono rushed him from her position behind the magic table, crushing his bag of left over malasadas as she enveloped him in a hard hug.
"Easy, easy. Is this going to become a new custom every time I walk in the door?" Danny pulled away from his teammate, giving her an amused grin when she released him. He glanced around their offices, noting Chin was on the phone and there was no sign of Danny's partner. "Don't get me wrong, I could get used to us showing the love but I don't see the man of steel signing off on it."
"Where the hell have you been?" Kono punched him hard in the arm. "Why is your cell turned off?"
"Ow!" Danny rubbed his bicep, not so sure he wanted to encourage the touchy feely stuff if it was going to get violent. Kono was stronger than she looked and despite having been given the all clear that morning, he still ached everywhere.
"Are you hurt?" Chin had quickly ended his conversation, moving to stand in front of Danny. Concern was evident in his gaze at it roved over Danny with fierce intensity.
"I wasn't until your cousin assaulted me." Danny frowned at his two teammates. "What the hell is going on? Why are you two freaked out? Where's Steve?"
"We thought you'd been taken, Brah." Chin folded his arms over his chest. "We've been searching the island over all morning."
"Taken?" Danny's gaze swept their offices again, a sickening wave of dread roiling through him. "I had a follow up at the hospital this morning, blood work and some tests. They lost my paper work and it went longer than usual. Where did you say Steve was?"
"He's out looking for you." Chin's face was grim, telling Danny all he needed to know about the state of their commander.
"Why the hell is Super SEAL on recon? What gave him the idea I was in trouble? I was with him last night; he knew I had the appointment."
"The hospital told him you never showed," Kono explained. "You weren't registered in their system."
"I was checked in by seven." Danny glanced towards their super computer on the wall realizing his HPD picture was pulled up on the screen. He pointed to the image. "Is that an APB?"
"It was just issued by dispatch-Steve's handiwork I'm guessing."
"What the hell?" Danny moved to the table, tossing his malasadas on the top. "Does one of you want to explain why a hospital clerical error has all of you on a tear?"
"Danny your apartment was trashed," Chin explained.
"So I haven't exactly felt up to tidying the last couple of days."He'd left his place in typical shape that morning in a rush to make it to the clinic in time. "I wasn't expecting company."
"This wasn't your usual lack of house cleaning, Brah." Chin shook his head. "There were signs of a struggle, blood on the scene."
"Then we couldn't reach you on your cell," Kono added. "I couldn't find a signal."
"That's because I was instructed to leave my phone and gun in one of the lock boxes while I was in the lab by the same nice lady who checked me in." Danny watched Kono and Chin exchange glances. He grabbed his phone out of his pocket. He hadn't tried to turn it on since reclaiming it and his weapon upon leaving the hospital, but wasn't surprised when it didn't respond to his touch. He flipped it over sliding the back free. "The battery's gone."
"Something tells me we need to send a car out to the medical clinic to speak to that nice lady who checked you in." Kono took her own phone out and stepped a few feet away.
"Time out. Time out." Danny's frown deepened as he whirled on Chin, making a slashing motion in the air. "I'm missing something here. What exactly kicked Steve into Rambo mode in the first place? I mean I know I'm usually quite punctual and the big guy has a thing about knowing where his people are but this is a little extreme even for him. Tell me he hasn't developed more super powers, like a psychic ability."
"Steve received another envelope this morning." Chin propped his hands on his hip. "It was wrapped in his towel when he finished swimming."
"You mean he got another present from his secret stalker?" Danny clenched his fists, more determined than ever to find Wo Fat. The man knew his partner's routine, had access to his home and favorite haunts. He was convinced the crime lord was toying with Steve but to what end Danny wasn't sure. If Wo Fat wanted Steve dead like Sang Min warned he'd had ample opportunity. "Was it from the Champ Box?"
"We thought so at first." Chin touched the computer table, pulling up the files from Mary McGarrett's phone. "But it wasn't one of the pictures Mary took."
"Then what was it?"
"Newspaper clippings about the death of Mike Keilli." Chin slid his finger over the table, flicking his wrist so that the article now appeared on the big screen covering Danny's APB. "There was a copy of this front page story, and several other articles about the follow up investigation, as well as Keilli's obituary."
"Who the hell's Mike Keilli?" Danny leaned against the table studying the grainy image. He didn't recognize the man in uniform.
"He was John McGarrett's last partner."
"Wait." Danny held up a hand. "I thought you were his last partner."
"Only the final few months before he retired, after Mike was killed." Chin rubbed a hand over his mouth. "Keilli and McGarrett were partners for fifteen years before Mike was shot in an armed robbery while he was off duty."
"I don't get it. Why would Wo Fat send this to Steve unless it was in the box like the rest of the items unless…" Danny let his words trail off, quickly drawing his own conclusions. "The sonofabitch meant it as a threat."
"After what Sang Min told us about Wo Fat's plans for retribution, that's exactly how Steve took it." Chin met Danny's gaze. "Steve called the hospital and learned you'd never showed. We went to your place and found the door kicked in. I called in CSI but Steve didn't wait on confirmation of the blood samples."
"Meaning he went off half-cocked." Danny ran his hands along the sides of his hair. "Tell me he didn't kill someone."
"I offered to go with him, but he wanted Kono and me here following up on the other leads." Chin sighed. "He promised me he was only going to interrogate."
"And you were okay with that?" Danny pinched the bridge of his nose, releasing a heavy sigh. There was a reason he rode shotgun with their fearless leader. "Interrogation in McGarrett speak can mean anything from the use of hot lamps and meticulous extraction of fingernails to turning a guy into shark bait. You know he learned witness interviewing techniques from an entirely different manual than we did. "
"Honestly I really didn't care what he did to Sang Min."Chin didn't even pretend to be remorseful. "Material witness or not, the man is scum of the earth and I knew if he had information pertaining to you, Steve wasn't going to kill him. Besides, I knew there were at least three other officers on the scene."
"Steve went after Sang Min?" The governor had agreed to give Sang Min the protection he wanted in exchange for his testimony concerning all dealings with Wo Fat. The man would eventually go to prison for his crimes but it would be after Wo Fat was captured and even then he would have to be in a location where Wo Fat's long arm of retribution couldn't reach him.
"He was our one sure connection to Wo Fat, besides Hess and that was going to be Steve's second stop if he couldn't jog Sang Min's memory concerning any pertinent intel that might lead us to where Wo Fat had taken you."
"Steve went to the safe house?" Danny was starting to get a very bad feeling. Wo Fat didn't leave loose ends, especially ones that could hang him like Sang Min. He would go to any lengths to tie them up, including baiting Steve into doing his dirty work for him. "The safe house the chief ordered off limits to Five-O."
"Give me your cell." Danny snatched the phone from his teammate, punching in his partner's number. It rang out, going to voice mail. "Steve, it's a setup-I'm fine. I repeat, stand down and get your ass back to HQ."
"Guys," Kono quickly joined them, her face reflecting a trace of fear Danny had seen from her only a few times before. "I think we have a problem."
Danny thought that should have already been fairly evident but rolled his hands toward Kono to prompt her to continue delivering what was obviously more bad news. "Well don't keep us waiting for the punch line."
"I was on with dispatch when another call came in. Shots fired at the safe house. Officers are down."
"This is exactly what can happen when Steve McGarrett says he's only going to talk to someone." Danny rolled his eyes toward heaven, praying his partner once again defeated the odds and wasn't one of the fallen. He hit the door; Chin and Kono right beside him when he made it outside. They jogged towards their vehicles. "Chin you're with me. Kono, call the governor and fill her in on what's happening. We don't want her hearing about this from the chief, or worse on the news. Then head over to the hospital to head up the uniforms they send. If that clerk was working for Wo Fat, she may be in danger."
"You got it." Kono started for her car, but turned quickly to catch Danny. "Wait. What exactly should I tell the governor because I'm not completely sure what's happening here?"
Danny pulled his keys from his pocket, flashing a quick look to Chin before facing Kono. The governor didn't need to know that Wo Fat might have tricked Steve into leading him straight to Sang Min. "Tell her Wo Fat just made an attempt to kill Sang Min and Steve as usual was a few steps ahead of us mere mortals and has hopefully done what he does best, thwarted."
"You think Steve figured it out?" Chin asked once he was safely strapped into the passenger seat of the Camaro.
"Once the bullets started flying, I'm sure our Super SEAL quickly put the pieces together." Danny only hoped his partner's single-minded determination to beat any pertinent information out of the weasel Sang Min hadn't prevented him coming to the realization in time.
Steve knew they were in trouble the instant he caught movement from his position by the kitchen window. Black flashed against lush green in the fenced in back yard that faced the ocean and he barely had time to draw his gun before the sound of automatic weapons exploded from the front of the house. It was too late then to do any damn thing but shove Sang Min into the pantry, locking it as glass and wood rained around them in the sudden melee.
He killed the two men trying to enter through the destroyed patio door before a third drew a bead on him. Steve took a slug to the lower vest, another hit to his left shoulder. The impact spun him and sent him crashing into the table behind him. He managed to roll, keeping a grip on his weapon. Steve used the overturned furniture as a shield so he could put a round in the man's head as he breached the entrance. Adrenaline allowed him to make his way to the living room where one of the officers assigned to Sang Min was down, the other two pinned behind a couch returning fire.
Steve took out a shooter behind an overturned bookcase. One of the HPD officers nailed another by the door. The final two targets decided odds were now against them and resolved to retreat. Steve fired, striking one before the edges of his vision started to gray and he realized he couldn't catch his breath. He heard shouting over the ringing in his ears, a call of officers down being placed.
The last thing he remembered before giving into the darkness was the loud pounding. Steve wasn't sure if it was an irate Sang Min demanding to be freed from the pantry or if maybe it was his own heart attempting to flee the confines of his constricted chest.
Danny stepped over a body to get into the shot-up safe house, ignoring the annoyed glare the crime tech busy numbering the scene sent his way. He only had eyes for the crowd of people standing in the destroyed living room. Blue shirts, black vests, and uniforms painted the scene with a familiar swirl of color befitting a stormy seascape. The pungent scent of blood and gunpowder was old hat but today had Danny's stomach clenching with dread, further abusing his abdomen muscles that were still sore from his first and hopefully last experience with convulsing. Chin stopped to talk to one of the officers being treated by a paramedic on a bullet riddled couch. Danny barely heard his teammate say Steve's name as his ears zeroed in on something much more important, his partner's irate voice.
"Get your fucking hands off me." Steve was in the hallway, struggling to make it to his feet as two well-meaning EMT's tried to convince him to do otherwise. "I have to get out of here. My partner is still missing."
Danny was overcome with a mix of incredible affection and intense irritation. "I have an all points bulletin for you, Commander McGarrett, you're partner is not missing, in fact he never was."
"Danno?" Steve's face lifted in surprise, blinking as if he wasn't quite sure he could trust what he was seeing. "You're here."
Danny knelt in front of Steve, between the two paramedics. He eyed the nasty gash on the side of his partner's head. "All three of me I'm betting."
"Are you okay?" Steve shoved at the EMT who was currently trying to remove his vest. "Stop touching me."
Danny sighed, reaching out to undo the straps of Steve's vest. He lifted it over his partner's head, tossing it out of the way. "I'm not the one sitting in a pool of my own blood, Steven."
"I don't understand." Steve latched onto his wrist before he could move out of the way. "What happened?"
"It looks like you were shot, Genius." Danny extricated his hand from Steve's grip, pointing to his partner's shoulder. There was a large dark spot on the black material, rivulets of red dripping down the SEAL's arm. "Let these nice men look at you."
"No, I'm good," Steve growled, continuing to evade ministrations. "I mean what happened to you, Danny. I thought Wo Fat took you."
"Can you give us a little space, guys?" Danny didn't miss the 'wounded, hurting and backed into a corner' look currently plastered on his partner's face. It overrode the physical injuries. Steve didn't like to be touched in the best of circumstances; he sure as hell didn't like being manhandled when he was feeling vulnerable and out of control. If Danny didn't intercede somebody was going to be losing a hand or worse.
"He needs to be treated," the younger paramedic lectured Danny, oblivious to the imminent danger he was facing. "Besides the GSW and scalp laceration he took a slug to his vest was having trouble breathing when we arrived on the scene. There could be fractures and internal injuries…"
"I'm fine." Steve snapped, his arm protectively cradling his mid-section even as he defended his fitness. "Back off."
"Will you take it easy?" Danny lifted his hands out to Steve with an exasperated eye roll before glancing to the older EMT. He trusted the man had a little more experience and a lot more sense than his enthusiastic sidekick. "Just a few minutes. Trust me when I say he's been in worse shape and rendered aid to himself with duct tape and some twigs. His injuries aren't life and death, right?"
"I think he'll make it." The EMT gave Danny an understanding nod before waving his partner off. "Come on, Chuck, let's check on the charming guy handcuffed in the bedroom."
"I take it they're referring to Sang Min." Danny was glad the older paramedic left his kit. He reached inside grabbing a package of bandages. "You couldn't have used him as a human shield, saved the tax payers some money and me some gray hair?"
"I thought he might have information."
Danny tore open the bandages. "Information about my fabricated abduction and exaggerated demise?"
"Danny, where the hell were you?" Steve's breath caught when Danny leaned him forward to check the back of his shoulder but he didn't protest treatment. The wound was straight through.
"I was at the hospital, Steven. A place you will be visiting very soon if I have any say in the matter, although I'm going to make sure you do not get the same admitting clerk that I had this morning."Danny eased him back, looking at his face. "How's the breathing? Any busted ribs."
"Nothing's broken." Steve admitted with a deep frown. "I checked the hospital first. The front desk had no record of you showing for your appointment."
"That's the problem with technology these days." Danny placed bandages on either side of the bullet wound and applied pressure, pointedly avoiding his partner's grimace of pain. "We're all just a bunch of number sequences, nobody knows anyone by name. If someone doesn't put your designated code into the system, then you don't exist. It's how the wrong limbs and organs get removed all the time."
"Your phone?" Steve's brow creased, his breath hitching again.
"My phone? What about your phone?" Danny quirked a brow. "I tried to cut you off at the pass, Lone Ranger, before you headed into this boxed canyon."
"I left it in the truck."
"Well, I left my phone with the same hospital admitting clerk who conveniently entered me as AWOL. Seems besides sucking at her job, she's also a kleptomaniac with a thing for cell batteries." Danny met Steve's gaze as his partner squirmed under his touch. "That's only the beginning of her problems because we're pretty sure she may have gotten a little ambitious for her station and is quite possibly moonlighting as one of Wo Fat's minions."
"She's also dead." Chin chose that moment to join them, squatting beside Danny. "Seems your clerk didn't report back to her station after morning break. Kono and HPD found her stuffed in a utility closet at the clinic. Her neck was snapped. Kono's interviewing her co-workers and waiting for surveillance tapes from security."
"Wonderful." Danny sighed. "This day just keeps getting better. Now besides reporting a shot up safe house to the governor, we have to explain a murdered hospital employee."
"Wo Fat set all this up?" Steve looked up at Danny. "He wanted me to think you'd been taken so I'd go after Sang Min. That's how those men found the safe house; they tracked me."
"The man has definitely earned his spot as Five-O's top villain." Danny didn't want to think about all the intricacies it took for Wo Fat to pull off such an elaborate charade.
Chin turned his gaze to their leader. "How you doing, Boss?"
Steve groaned but Danny didn't think it had anything to do with the physical pain. "I really fucked up."
"Don't worry about it, Super Man. It happens to us humans all the time." Danny patted his partner's leg. He hadn't thought his hatred for Wo Fat could increase but seeing the raw pain flash in Steve's glassy blue gaze had him reconsidering the levels at which that loathing was capable of soaring. He nudged Chin with his elbow. "See if you can track down that woman's family; make sure they didn't know about her dealings with Wo Fat."
"Can do." Chin inclined his head towards Steve. "I'll meet up with you two at the hospital later."
"I'm not going to the hospital," Steve informed them.
Danny ignored him. "We'll see you there in a few."
Chin patted Danny on the shoulder. "Good luck, Brah."
"Danny, we don't have time for this. Finding Wo Fat is our priority, especially now."
"Although very high on my list of must do's today, that is not my first objective at the moment." Danny lifted his hand showing Steve the blood-soaked bandage he was holding. "Stopping my partner from bleeding to death is claiming most of my attention. I think you would understand that considering I didn't see you high-tailing it after Sang Min until I was given the all clear the other day."
Danny's logic seemed to steal some of Steve's thunder. He gave a resigned sigh, resting against the wall as Danny opened another package of gauze. "As soon as I saw that article…I knew for sure that bastard Wo Fat had taken you. When I got to your apartment…it was like Mary's all over again, another spectacular failure on my part."
"That's what he was counting on you thinking." Danny replaced the clean bandage, giving his partner a pointed look. Mary's kidnapping, Danny's most recent run of bad luck and those envelopes had left Steve primed and ready for the worst. Making Danny's place look like a recent crime scene was the cherry on top. "But what Wo Fat obviously doesn't know is that failure isn't exactly in the Super SEAL manual."
"I was so focused on my objective of finding you…I didn't even consider Wo Fat was setting me up. He played me perfectly." Steve's voice was full of self recrimination. "I should have known."
"He took advantage of your state of mind, Steven. On a good day, he wouldn't have stood a chance against your freaky intuition and he knew that, so stop blaming yourself."
"I'm never more alert than when one of my own is threatened," Steve countered. "It's what makes me a good commander."
"Let's reframe that, shall we? You are never more dangerous when you feel one of your people is in trouble, but that isn't always when you act the most rationally." Danny held up a finger to cut off the further denial he could see building in Steve's glinting gaze. "In fact, it makes you stupid and most often suicidal."
"It's not crazy that I feel responsible!" Steve tried to pull away from the detective, but Danny held firm.
"No, no it's not. In fact I would be worried if you didn't. After all working with someone in any high risk job creates a sense of duty to that person, it bonds you together. Thanks to your particular brand of insanity, you and I often face life and death situations on a daily basis, sometimes two and three times a day, ergo you are going to feel responsible for me, just like I feel responsible for you. We'll be lucky not to end up with some cop co-dependent disorder-a Starsky and Hutch syndrome."
"Is there a point to this particular rant, Danny?"
"I'm just pointing out that I nearly died two days ago while you stood by and watched helpless to do anything to stop it. Wo Fat obviously knew what that would mean for you. He saw his opportunity and took it." It had taken months for Steve to open up about the specifics of his Dad's death, to tell Danny about the phone call and how Hess had done the deed. By that point in their partnership, Danny had already pegged Steve's haunted face and figured out the man quite possibly felt responsible for every bad thing that happened since his birth. The face and the insecurities tended to appear anytime some situation struck too close to home, when things spiraled out of his friend's control. It was why Danny hadn't given his partner a hard time when he showed up at Danny's place with pizza and beer the last two nights, hanging around until the wee hours in the morning even going so far as to pretend to be interested in the baseball games Danny was watching.
"You think it's going to make me feel better to know Wo Fat just used my biggest weakness against me?" Steve looked even more stricken, his hand coming up to touch the gash on the side of his head.
"So the guy figured out that you bleed red like the rest of us, that you have actual feelings." Danny caught Steve's hand, guiding it back to his lap. He tightened his grip until Steve finally looked at him. "You couldn't keep that secret forever, Robo Cop. It was bound to get out sooner or later with you playing Uncle Steve to Grace and all that manly hugging going on at headquarters."
"Damn it." Steve squeezed his eyes shut, blowing out a heavy huff of breath. "What the hell is wrong with me?"
"Besides being shot, and possibly concussed I imagine you're feeling more than a little threatened and out of control of the situation. Never a good combination for you."
"It was a rhetorical question, Danno." Steve glared at him.
"Since when do you know me to let such an opportunity pass?"
Steve banged his head against the wall. "I almost let him kill Sang Min."
"Would that really have been such a big loss?" Danny attempted to lighten the mood. "I'm still pissed the man not only stole my car to use as a getaway for Hess; but walked right into our inner sanctuary the other day like he was Average Joe Citizen. He deserves a bullet just for his audacity."
"The governor may see it differently. Sang Min is an important witness. She may have my badge over this."
"The governor doesn't bat an eye when you blow up businesses, hang suspects off buildings and drive cars onto ships. It would take something much bigger than this to send her over the edge. In fact, she is going to think her wind- up toy soldier is as brilliant as ever." Danny forced a grin. "I painted your little fact finding mission as a pre-emptive strike. Thanks to me, in her mind, you saved a prized witness-another gold star for Super SEAL."
"Good thing for me you're a hard man to kill, Danno." Steve gave a half smile.
"Ditto, Steven." Danny took the relaxation of his partner's 'I'm going to kill someone' face as a sign he could abandon post and let the professionals take over again. He started to stand to get the paramedics when Steve reached out and snagged his sleeve, his face turning serious once more.
"But just so you know, I am going to kill Wo Fat."
"I never doubted it, but I'm glad you're getting in the routine of telling me these things before hand." Danny smirked. "Just so I know when to duck."
"I have a feeling Wo Fat's going to step the game up to a new level. This is just the beginning."
"Because all his antics so far have been only mildly irritating." Danny ran his hands over his hair with a dramatic sigh. "Can you just try to think positive for once? Must everything be about the doom and gloom?"
"You, Kono and Chin have to be extra careful, especially you." Steve was bent on staying with his train of thought. "Like you said, Wo Fat knew what that article would mean to me. Just because he didn't follow through this time, doesn't mean he won't try again."
"Would you please take note of the one who is currently bleeding and sporting a slug in his vest. I think Wo Fat's arch nemesis, Captain America needs to be the one to step up his sense of self preservation. In fact, I'm going to make sure of it."
"I don't think he wants to kill me, Danno." Steve's voice lowered, making his next words all the more poignant. "I think he plans to destroy me, make me suffer by taking everything and everyone I care about."
"Then Wo Fat's the one who's going to fail spectacularly," Danny promised him.
Steve didn't get a chance to respond as the two paramedics emerged from the bedroom, Sang Min trailing behind them HPD officers on either side. The body trafficker had some bruises, several cuts and nicks on his face, and was sporting a sling on his right arm. Danny noted he had fared much better than Steve or the other officers.
"Your crazy partner tried to drown me in the kitchen sink." Sang Min hissed at Danny as he was escorted past. "He's a fucking maniac."
"Yeah. Yeah." Danny patted Steve's leg once more, rolling his eyes exaggeratedly before standing to give the EMTs access to his partner. "Tell me something I don't already know."
Steve ignored the paramedics, keeping his gaze fixed on Danny as he paced just a few feet away. He'd retrieved Steve's phone from his truck, and was now updating the governor on what had taken place. Steve could tell Danny was putting a spin on it, his free hand gesturing frantically, face animated. Every so often he'd turn in Steve's direction, meeting his gaze for a moment, before continuing his discussion.
"We're almost ready for transport, Commander."
The EMT's announcement had Steve looking his way. "I'm not riding in the ambulance."
"Tough guy or not, you really should be checked out, Son, at least a few scans."
Danny waved a hand at the older EMT, getting his attention. He held the phone away from his mouth. "The only way you're going to get him to go with you is to let him drive the ambulance."
"That's not going to happen, Detective."
"I didn't think so." Danny pointed at Steve to stay put. "It's okay. I'll make sure he gets there."
"Cops," the paramedic muttered.
Even if the EMTs had offered up the keys to their wagon on the spot, Steve would have refused. He'd never been more painfully aware that there were things beyond his control, but if just for tonight, he wasn't about to let Danny out of his sight. Wo Fat might have played Steve for a fool today, but he'd also unwittingly strengthened Steve's resolve to bring about the man's demise. Revenge wasn't his only incentive now. Protection was a far more powerful motivator. Having a partner, a team he counted as family made Steve's mission even more paramount. Failure would not be an option.