A Complicated Family
Chapter 2: A Family Gathering
"Danny!" The alarm in Steve McGarrett's voice made Chin Ho Kelly and Kono Kalakaua drop their cooler on the sand and rush to his side.
The commander thumbed the speaker so they all heard their friend Danny Williams shouting over the roar of the Mercedes' engine, "Steve! Someone tried to kidnap the family at the airport."
Distant gunfire made Danny interrupt himself with cursing, as he floored the gas pedal of the powerful car. But the pursuers had powerful cars, too, and faster.
"Where are you?" Steve demanded.
"I don't know," Danny confessed. "I'm headed north, off the grid and running, with a silver Porsche and a black BMW on my tail. I've got five people in a Mercedes, which is not built for speed. I can't outrun them. I need to find a place to take cover."
Steve was pulling his clothes into place as he ran for his truck with the cousins hot on his heels.
Stan leaned from the back seat to yell the name of the street they were racing on. "There's an old canning factory up ahead, Danny. On the right. It's closed but the buildings are there."
"You sure?" Danny demanded of his ex's current husband.
"Yes, went there all the time as a kid. The U'ai Pineapple Factory."
"I know it," Chin yelled, clinging to the edge of his seat as McGarrett's Silverado charged onto the street, siren and lights clearing the way.
"Chin, we need a chopper," Steve ordered. "Call Aku."
Chin hit his speed dial for the SWAT commander, Lieutenant David Akutagawa.
"We're on our way, Danny," Steve said. "Leave your phone on so we can track you."
"Right, but don't call," Danny responded, taking a tight curve on two wheels. "I'm expecting company. Gotta bake a cake."
"Hang on, Danny," Steve urged.
"Hang on! I'm clinging by my fingernails as it is. I've got two cars of armed kidnappers behind me, four unarmed civilians to protect, a trunk full of riot gear parked back at the airport and my daughter..." he swallowed. "My daughter is in the car!"
The fear in Danny's voice tore at his friends. They knew it wasn't fear for himself, but for Grace.
"We're coming!" Steve said.
"Don't dawdle. Gotta hang up now, I need to concentrate." Grace ended the call, but left the phone on so Five-0 could track them via GPS.
"OK, I need everyone to look around their seats and pick up anything that might be useful, even if it looks like trash."
In the back seat, the adults found a plastic bag from a fast food restaurant that still had a few napkins inside and a half-empty bottle of water.
Grace checked the glove compartment, but there wasn't anything but the car registration and a street map. Not even a flashlight. Danny regretted the stun grenades and extra clips of ammo that were probably filling the Camaro's glove compartment.
"OK, listen up, when we stop, make a run for the nearest building. Hopefully, I can keep them at bay long enough for backup to get here. Got it?" Everyone agreed they did.
The pursuers fired again. Everyone ducked instinctively, as bullets plinked off the trunk.
One stupid brain cell sang hallelujah that he was driving Stan's car not his, while the rest of the brain cells screamed at it to shut up and focus! Honestly, sometimes even Danny got tired of his rants.
"The turn's coming up. Here, Danny! Here!" Stan shouted.
Danny just barely saw the overgrown opening to the gravel road. He spun the Mercedes and dove through the narrow opening, splintering a wooden gatepost on the way in.
The two pursuing cars missed the turn and screeched to a halt, tires smoking. They roared in reverse, then aimed for the side road.
The delay gave Danny and his passengers just a tiny bit of breathing room as the Mercedes braked to a dust-spraying halt next to a desiccated flower garden in front of the cannery.
"Into the office!" Danny shouted, pointing at a labeled door that hung half open. The building's cinderblock walls looked like a perfect fort.
Danny took cover behind the Mercedes. Careful of his limited supply of ammunition, he held his fire until the Porsche roared into range. He popped up from behind the Mercedes and fired three rounds into the driver's side of the Porsche. Red spattered the inside of the windshield and the car slewed right, bumping the BMW. Both cars skidded to a halt. The four remaining able-bodied kidnappers bailed out and took cover, firing back at the detective.
A bullet hit a ceramic pot, causing it to explode like a hand grenade. One shard hit Danny on the temple and he fell, dazed. The gun fell from his nerveless hand and he tilted sideways, scrabbling for it. He wasn't unconscious, but for a moment he was helpless and exposed to the enemy.
Grace screamed and Stan found himself up and running before he even realized it. He didn't know someone was racing alongside until he heard his wife bark, "Grace! Stay there!"
"Rachel!" Stan gasped in surprise.
"Get Danny," his wife ordered, as she dove for the detective's fallen gun.
She threw herself down, hearing in her mind Danny's instructions from years past, "The prone position is the most stable and provides the most cover." Rachel wondered if she'd recall how to fire the automatic. Her mind wasn't certain, but her hands remembered. Bracing herself on her elbows, she sighted down the barrel and fired at the emerging attackers, sending them plunging back into cover.
Stan snatched up Danny in a fireman's carry and galloped back to the cover of the factory office. The businessman was immensely grateful for the emergency seminar his company had sponsored. Danny was a lightweight compared to Josephson in accounting.
Head dangling, scalp dripping blood down his ex-wife's husband's back, Danny muttered, "I never imagined this, never in my wildest dreams."
"Me neither," Stan answered, glad the police officer was awake and aware.
Rachel's covering fire ceased and she sped past her laden husband to dive into the open door where Fleming clutched Grace's arm to prevent her from following her mother.
Stan's body cringed as he ran, expecting gunfire at any moment, but none came.
"Why aren't they shooting?" he panted, as Rachel and Grace helped him lay Danny on the floor.
"Want you alive," Danny grunted, trying to blink away double images, hindered by blood running into his eyes.
Rachel fired out the door, just to remind the kidnappers that she had a gun.
Stan and Ernie hauled a desk to the door to block it and provide cover for their Annie Oakley. Grace used the paper napkins and the water to wipe the blood from her father's face.
"See, I told you the trash might come in handy," Danny said.
"It won't stop bleeding," the girl said in distress.
Danny took the wad of napkins and pressed it firmly to the wound, wincing at the pain.
"Don't worry, monkey, scalp wounds bleed like a son of a … uh ... gun," Danny said, preventing himself from swearing just in time. "It's not serious."
Grace sat beside her father on the floor, while he tried to still the throbbing in his head. Danny watched the group by the door: Rachel fierce in defense of her family, Stan hovering at her back and Ernie looking back into the room, eyes widening.
The crash of a shot behind her made Rachel start and juggle her gun as she turned.
The scene behind her was forever etched in her memory. Danny lay atop his daughter protectively, his arm extended toward the back door. His pant leg was rucked up to show an empty ankle holster that corresponded to the backup pistol in his hand. The pseudo-pilot lay face down, gun hand just inside the back door
Danny's quick scanning gaze caught Rachel's startled stare. "Eyes front!" he barked.
She spun and fired twice out the front door without aiming. The men who had begun to ease out of cover, ducked back down again.
"Guess I never got to the lesson about watching your back," Danny commented.
"Stay there, Grace. Don't look until I take out the trash."
Danny went to the back door carefully. He checked for the pilot's pulse and didn't mind when he didn't find one. He shoved the body outside and fastened the door shut.
The sound of a helicopter rattled the windowpanes.
"What's that?" Ernie asked fearfully.
"The other half of my family," Danny answered. "I hope."
Danny's phone rang. "I like your timing," Danny said.
"We're coming in," Steve reported.
"We're all in the office. I count three suspects out front," Danny answered as the copter came into view.
This time Steve had commandeered a police helicopter, complete with pilot and a couple of SWAT officers. Super SEAL himself stood in the open side door — strapped in, thank heavens — with a nasty looking machine gun raised to his eye. It spoke in a rattling roar as loud as the copter. Spurts of dirt traced a path to the kidnappers' no-longer-adequate cover.
"Throw down your guns and surrender!" Chin's voice bellowed from the loudspeaker.
The three would-be kidnappers dropped their weapons and raised their hands, turning their heads away as the helicopter kicked dust in their faces. Steve, Aku, Kono, Chin and two SWAT officers leaped from the helicopter as it touched down. Kono, Chin and Aku began handcuffing and searching the suspects, while Steve stood guard. The SWAT officers spread out to look for any stray suspects.
Inside the building, Rachel and Stan fell into each other's arms. Danny looked away, catching a glimpse of Ernie sitting down with his head in his hands.
"Daddy, you're bleeding again," Grace said.
Danny hoisted her onto his hip. "C'mon. Let's go scare Uncle Steve." He carried Grace out the door.
"What, no 'Ride of the Valkyries'?" Danny asked as he came up behind Steve.
Steve's smirk was firmly in place as he turned. "I knew I forgot something," he began, then his expression changed to concern when he saw the blood on Danny's face.
Grace giggled. "Daddy said you'd be scared. It's just a little scalp cut," she parroted. "They bleed like a sonova-uh-gun."
Steve relaxed and gave Danny a censorious look. He knew from the way Grace said it, that Danny had almost sworn in front of his daughter.
"Are you all right?" Steve asked his partner.
"Bullet hit a pot and I got my bell rung by a piece of it. The kidnappers would have had me, if Stan and Rachel hadn't rescued me," Danny said drily.
Steve couldn't believe his ears.
"Stan and Rachel?"
"Stan and Mommy saved Daddy," Grace said proudly.
"It's true. They were the heroes. I didn't do anything," Danny told his partner.
His daughter looked at him like he was nuts. "Daddy!" she protested. "You saved all of us at the airplane and you drove the car." She made vigorous swooping motions with the hand that wasn't wrapped around her father's neck. "And you shot the man at the door."
"OK, it was a family project," Danny admitted. "Everybody helped."
"Family?" Steve asked, looking sidelong at Stan who stood with his arm around the woman that Danny still loved.
Danny shrugged sadly. "What can I say, I've got a complicated family. Speaking of which…"
He set down the girl and told her to go to Kono, then he whispered something in her ear. She opened her eyes in alarm. He nodded.
Grace ran to Kono and tugged her down, then whispered in her ear. Kono's eyes widened. She looked at Danny and he nodded corroboration. Kono gave a single nod of confirmation and spoke quietly to Chin. She and her cousin drifted toward Stan and Rachel, placing themselves near the Edwards family.
Steve watched all this silently, feeling the tension in his partner.
"Come on, Steve. I want to introduce you. Rachel," Danny called. "You remember Steve McGarrett. Steve, this is Rachel's husband, Stan Edwards. And this is Stan's right-hand man, Ernie Fleming." Danny clamped an overly affectionate arm around Ernie's neck. "Ernie is the one who made Stan's travel arrangements. And, you'll never believe it, but Ernie is psychic. He was all nervous at the airport before anything happened. And he watched the phony pilot come in the back door of the office, without warning the rest of us."
Steve turned a cold gaze on the administrative assistant. "Ernie, did you set up your boss to be kidnapped?"
Ernie's eyes flicked from person to person, then they closed in a dead faint.
"I'll take that as a 'yes'," Danny said, letting Ernie drop.
One of the captured kidnappers looked at Ernie contemptuously. "He sold you out for a few thousand bucks," he told Stan. "Our boss — the pilot — he wanted financial info from Edwards and planned to use the wife and girl as leverage."
"And then they'd have been killed, like the plane's real pilot?" Danny said.
"Maybe. Probably. Tyler didn't like loose ends. But he didn't tell Mr. Secretary that. Shit, he'd have probably killed wussy boy before we left the airport," the gunman said dismissively.
"Aku, will you get these guys out of here before I give them splenectomies with my bare hands?" Danny asked the SWAT lieutenant, who was glad to oblige.
"Danny, I don't know how to say, thank you," Stan said, as he and Rachel came over to the detective.
"Yes, Danny," Rachel added. "Thank you. If you hadn't come to the airport …" She shuddered.
Danny waved the gratitude away. "I was just looking out for my family. Anyway, I think you two paid me back," he added, touching the seeping wound on his forehead. Uncomfortable chatting with his ex and her husband, Danny was glad when Grace ran over to him and broke the mood.
"Uncle Steve wanted me to tell you something," she said. She pointed at Ernie who was just recovering from his faint. "Book him, Danno," she said.
Her father's glare met Steve's smirk. Danny accepted that he had a complicated family, but he was going to have words with his brother Steve — lots and lots of words.