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Z is for Zapped
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Danny was light on his feet as he carefully maneuvered around the massive, darkened room. He gripped his weapon tightly, always keeping it out in front of him at the ready. The large space was unfamiliar to him, and the black lighting scattered throughout the area did little to guide his footsteps. He knew others were around him; he could hear them running, and the occasional shout, laugh and grunt giving their positions away. There were only two, however, that Danny pursued. One was Grace – his sweet, innocent little Gracie; the other was the man responsible for this entire fiasco.
And Danny was determined to find them both, no matter the cost.
He'd already been hit at least once in the shoulder, but he ignored it, determined to press forward by nothing but pure adrenaline. Only once during his mission did he come across another person – Chin, who looked a bit awkward without his shotgun, but no less fierce wielding the weapon he now carried. Chin, knowing Danny was on a mission, merely smiled and pointed in the direction Danny should head next. He nodded his thanks, and took off at a run without as much as a backwards glance.
He turned a corner, and stopped dead in his tracks. Grace, his beautiful daughter, was in the strong arms of the man Danny most desperately wanted to take down. Her body did little to hide the larger man's torso, but Danny didn't want to risk hitting her in the crossfire. Careful not to be seen, Danny stepped quickly to his right, crouching down behind a low wall. Raising his weapon, he aimed, held his breath, then…
"We can see you, Danno!"
Danny sighed and straightened up, lowering his weapon as he stepped out from behind his cover. He flashed a smile at Grace before changing his expression to glower at her captor.
"Steven, tell me you are not using my daughter as a human shield."
His partner grinned and lowered a giggling Grace to the ground. She immediately ran up to Danny, wrapping her arms around his legs.
"Oh, Daddy, this is so much fun! I've already zapped Kono two times! And Uncle Steve helped me sneak up behind Uncle Chin and get him too! Laser tag is great!"
She squeezed his legs one more time, then spun around, running deep into the maze of walls and towers in search of someone else to zap. Danny took a moment to shoot his partner in the chest – the high-pitched alarm telling him he'd hit his mark – before chasing off after her. Five minutes later, after their game was over, the group of friends met up in the arena's staging area; laughing about the intense shoot-outs and shenanigans they'd just experienced.
"And then Uncle Steve jumped out from behind the wall!" Grace exclaimed with a large squeal. "He's a good hider!"
Danny smiled as he watched Grace animatedly reenact their latest game. Her face was flushed and her pigtails bobbed up and down as her hands fluidly flowed in front of her. Chin and Kono were kindly listening, each of them smiling down at her as she bounced in place. Steve strolled over to stand next to Danny.
"Thanks for this, Steve. But did you really have to rent the whole place for just us? Seems a bit… expensive."
"Don't worry about it," Steve said, clasping Danny on the shoulder. "Besides, when we cleared Loki's brother of those murder charges last month, he said we could use this place whenever we wanted. I thought Grace might enjoy it."
Danny turned to look at the patron of the laser tag establishment. Loki, who stood down on the lower level of the building, reminded Danny a lot of Kamekona… the large man looking more menacing than he actually was. His younger brother had been wrongfully accused of killing an ex-girlfriend; something that had been pinned on him by a local gang member who had also dated the victim. Clearing him hadn't really been that difficult, but Loki had been grateful. Turning to look again at Grace, Danny noted how she looked happier than he had seen her in a long, long time.
"She is enjoying it," Danny said quietly. "Thanks."
"Danno! Let's go again! Kono and I want to be on a team this time! Girls against boys!"
"Yeah!" Kono laughed, giving Grace a high five. "We're going to kick your butts!"
"Aren't you a little tired, monkey?" Danny asked, kneeling in front of Grace so they were eye to eye. "Maybe we should get some lunch first before going in again?"
"Loki ordered some pizza," Chin reported. "Why don't I sit out this time and wait for it to arrive. It should be here by the time your next game is finished."
"Thanks Uncle Chin!" Grace said as she ran and gave him a quick hug. Chin smiled and jogged down the stairs which led to the lobby below. "Let's go, Daddy!" Grace tugged on her father's hand, pulling him back toward the arena.
Minutes later, the two teams were prepped and ready to go. Kono and Grace conspired in a low whisper before the alarm sounded, signaling the start of the game. The two girls immediately split up, and Steve and Danny did the same. Danny enjoyed sneaking up on Grace, scooping her up into his strong arms and tickling her into submission. She'd squeal until Kono came to her rescue, zapping Danny a few times for good measure, until Danny was forced to let her run off again. It wasn't long before Danny spotted Chin near the entrance of the giant room, and he jogged over, Steve meeting him at the same time.
"Pizza here already, Chin?" Steve asked, slightly out of breath.
"No," Chin said worriedly, and Danny's heart sank. "We've got a… problem."
"What kind of problem?"
Silently, Chin pointed out of the doors which led to the laser tag assembly area. Beyond that, Danny could barely see Loki moving slowly to the front entrance of the building and locking it from the inside. Shifting to his left, Danny saw a young man, dressed in a black hooded sweatshirt and black jeans, pointing a Smith & Wesson into Loki's face.
"You've got to be kidding me," Danny mumbled under his breath, immediately turning around to locate his daughter in the darkened maze behind him.
"Robbery?" Steve asked Chin.
"I don't think so," Chin stated grimly. "Loki knew something was up before the guy came in and warned me to hide upstairs until he could take care of it."
"Doesn't look like he's taking care of it," Steve replied, and Danny spun back around just in time to see Loki get smashed in the head with the gun. He heard the sound of footsteps running up behind him, and he turned to see Grace and Kono advancing on them with confused expressions on both their faces.
"What's up?" Kono asked as Danny bent down and quickly picked up Grace.
"Loki's in trouble," Steve reported.
"No, we're in trouble," Danny said, nodding out the glass doors toward the lobby. The young man leering over Loki now peered up toward them, but it wasn't clear if he could see into the dark chamber in which they stood.
"Okay," Steve stated absently, and Danny noticed that he was now in SEAL mode, which did not make him feel any better about the situation. "We need to lure him in here… take him by surprise."
"What?" Danny and Kono asked simultaneously.
"What are you going to do?" Danny demanded. "Blink him to death with your laser gun?"
Steve slowly turned to throw his partner an exasperated look. "No!" His face instantly contorted into a more thoughtful look. "Actually, that might work."
Danny rolled his eyes. "I was kidding, you idiot. You are not bringing him up here. Not with Grace with us," Danny said, his grip on his daughter tightening.
"It looks like we may not have a choice," Chin whispered as he backed slowly away from the door. Outside, Danny could see the young man dressed in black tentatively making his way toward the bottom of the stairs that led up to the arena's entrance. Whether he was drawn there by movement or the sound of their talking, they couldn't know for sure, but in a few mere moments, he'd be at the double doors and would be able to clearly see them. Steve ushered them quietly into the maze and they ducked down behind a large wall.
"Alright, here's what we're going to do," Steve began, his voice low and serious. "Danny, you'll give Grace to Kono."
"No!" Danny shouted, keeping his arms firmly wrapped around Grace's torso. "I am not leaving her behind."
"Daddy, it's okay," Grace replied, squirming slightly beneath Danny's snug hold on her. "I'll stay with Kono. You go get the bad guy."
Danny looked into the eyes of his little girl and saw the determination in her eyes. She was trying so hard to be brave for him, yet he knew she was afraid. But, then again, so was he. Giving her another big squeeze, he reluctantly relinquished his hold on her and she scooted over to Kono's lap. Kono nodded at Danny, silently telling him that she would protect Grace, no matter the cost, and Danny nodded back. Steve relayed some information to Kono, who finally scooped Grace up and together they ran deep into the room. Danny didn't take his eyes off of them until they faded into the darkness.
"What's the plan boss?" Chin's question forced Danny to tear his eyes away from where he'd last seen Grace, and focus on his partner.
"We'll split up. Chin, head around to the left of the door. Danny to the right."
"Where are you going to be?" Danny asked.
"Right in the middle. Distract him if you can. I'll take care of the rest." Without any further instruction, Steve set off, with Danny and Chin close behind. As quietly as he could, Danny took up position to the right of the doors. Through the darkness, he could see Chin taking up position on the left. Steve was nowhere to be found.
Suddenly, alarms began to blare from within the laser tag arena. Steve wasn't kidding around when he said he was going to lure the man inside. With the amount of noise he was generating, Danny wouldn't be surprised if people on the street could hear the racket. The man outside immediately stepped in and swept his weapon around in the darkness. He barely had one foot through the door before Danny and Chin both blasted him in the face with the bright beams of their laser guns. The hooded individual brought his hands up to shield himself from the light, and that was all the distraction Steve needed. From behind a center wall, Steve bounded forward, tackling the man out of the door and to the ground.
Danny dashed out through the door to see Steve already apprehending the suspect using the cords from his own laser weapon. Keeping a knee on the man's back, Steve bent over to speak into the man's ear.
"What are you doing here?" The man on the floor grunted in response, but offered no other reply. "Hey, answer me!"
"I can help you with that," Loki answered from behind them. He staggered slowly forward, one hand holding a towel to his bleeding head. "This man is part of the gang that set up my brother. He came looking for revenge."
Steve nodded and finally stood, instructing Loki to call HPD and asking Chin to watch over the suspect until they arrived. Together, he and Danny went back into the laser tag arena to give the all-clear to Kono and Grace. At the sound of her father's voice, Grace ran out from the darkness and leapt into his outstretched arms. Danny looked over to Kono, mouthing a silent thank you before she nodded in reply and joined Chin outside the room. Danny heaved a sigh of relief and pulled his daughter close as she peered over his shoulder to view the bound suspect.
"You zapped him, Daddy!"
Danny turned to look at the suspect on the ground, who appeared to be grumbling about his bound wrists. "Yeah, Gracie, I guess I did," he laughed. Beside him, Steve harrumphed, so Danny added, "But Uncle Steve helped. A little."
"So who scored more points?"
"Well," Danny shrugged, looking at Steve for guidance. "I don't know how many points a bad guy is worth. Steven?"
"Lots and lots, sweetheart," Steve told Grace with a wink and a smile.
"Does that mean you owe me a dollar?" Grace happily asked Steve.
"I guess so!"
"A dollar?" Danny asked, confused.
"Yeah," Grace continued. "Uncle Steve bet me a dollar that he'd score more points than you! So if you zapped the bad guy, and he was worth lots of points, then I guess you won. And Uncle Steve owes me a dollar!"
"Oh, really?" Danny asked as Steve feigned innocence. "Well, then I guess he better pay up!"
"How about two out of three?" Steve asked. When both Williams' gravely shook their heads and held out their palms, he laughed. "Okay, okay! A dollar for the little lady!" Forking over a dollar bill, Grace pocketed it and then gave Danny a high-five.
"Good job, Danno! I knew you wouldn't let me down!" Grace exclaimed, giving her father another hug.
"Never, Gracie," Danny whispered. "Never."
Wow! Finally made it to the final chapter. Thank you all so much for sticking with it this long, and I wish to say a special thank you to those who took the time to review. They really mean a lot to me... especially during those times where I didn't think I'd finish. So again, thank you.
Finally, another BIG thank you to sockie1000 and Cokie316 for everything they did to make these mini-stories better, and for all of their encouragement. :)