Author's Note: This was inspired by Danny's words in Season 2 episode 7, Ka Iwi Kapu, the Halloween episode. So, if you don't want spoilers for that episode, read no further.
I couldn't believe that Danny said of religion, "People make stuff up to make themselves feel better." Sorry? This is the same man who made the sign of the cross over Steve in the episode immediately before this one and who gave Kono a religious medal for her graduation? This is a man who named his daughter Grace! To me, these indications of religious feeling mean that Danny denies God from a place of pain, not from philosophical reasoning. And you know I love to take Danny to places of pain.
So, expect religious debate to come, even cursing at God. A little blasphemy just in time for Christmas. Go figure. Though I am a church-going person myself, I believe I can express Danny's anti-religion point of view.
Chapter 1 – Apocolypse
Grace Williams was an obedient girl. She didn't run out in the street, even when she saw her father's Camaro parked on the opposite side. She waited on the corner for the light to change, right in the path of the car that missed the turn and plowed into the crowd of children waiting there. Her father watched in horror.
Danny Williams was a police officer. He had been the first responder at accident scenes before. Training and experience clicked in, erecting a wall that the frightened father yammered behind.
As he jumped from his car, Danny was already calling 9-1-1.
"There are …" He counted quickly. "…At least six victims." Grace!God,Grace!"We need multiple ambulances." He ran first for the car. Its engine was still revving, tires still smoking, though it was nose first against the building, high-sided on a planter. Danny yanked the door open and shoved back the driver to turn off the key and prevent the car from lurching loose. The detective checked the driver. He was already dead, face congested. Probably a massive heart attack, Danny thought.
Savesmefromhavingtokillhimmyself.The detective ruthlessly shoved the daddy back behind his wall. A mother was shrieking like a calliope beside her dead son. Danny pushed her into the arms of a calmer bystander and put the bystander's jacket over the boy's shattered head.
Kevin.HisnamewasKevin.Gracelikedhim.Ilikedhim.Shut up! Danny told himself savagely. I don't have time now! While he covered another body, an adult, this time, the detective directed help for four injured children. Then, at last, he dropped to his knees beside the injured 9-year-old girl who lay so still.
Grace! The daddy sobbed. "Grace," the detective said fearfully.
The child didn't respond. She was unconscious but breathing. Danny couldn't tell how badly she was hurt, though her arm was obviously broken, the bone poking out through the skin. He applied gentle pressure, trying to stop the ooze of blood without moving the fracture.
EMTs arrived in four ambulances. They rattled off vital statistics, numbers flying over Danny's head along with words like head trauma and internal injuries.
A patrol officer took notes about the accident. Danny answered on autopilot, his attention on the EMTs working on his daughter.
"I've gotta go," he said, as they lifted Grace into the back of the ambulance. Danny climbed in with them, not taking his eyes off the injured girl.
Before the door closed, Danny half-heard the principal talking to the officer. "I don't know what we would have done without Detective Williams. He was so calm. He's a hero."
The hero followed his daughter into the hospital, filled out the forms shoved into his hands and took a seat in the surgery waiting area. Danny spoke only when spoken to and went silently where directed. Anyone who knew him would have realized this was unnatural, but no one there knew him.
Danny sat, eyes fixed on the doors where he'd last seen Grace. The detective and daddy crashed together, helpless to act. Danny sat, frozen in fear. Frozen and alone.
The rest of Five-0 was still at work back at headquarters. Danny had left early to pick up his daughter. He had left early every day this week while his ex-wife was out of town, but Lori Weston didn't think that was a violation worth reporting to the governor. Steve had called it comp time the one time she'd mentioned it. The glower he'd given her hadn't encouraged her to bring it up again. She hadn't meant anything by it, really. She was an investigator. Asking questions was a habit.
But, really, she understood. They all worked crazy hours and the divorced detective didn't get to see his daughter nearly enough. All too often, he was called to work on his day with Grace. Like on Halloween night, Lori remembered. Come to think of it, maybe that's why he was so stubborn about searching the heiau, because he was pissed about being taken away from his daughter.
And it's not like Five-0 was actually busy right now, Lori thought. They were cleaning up some paperwork from their last case. Steve was waiting to go to a meeting with the governor. To tell the truth, Lori was bored. She flicked a computer screen to an all-news channel while she filled out reports.
The patrol officer entered Five-0 headquarters with trepidation. He was glad to see Chin Ho Kelly in the war room because he knew Kelly from his time at HPD and because, frankly, Steve McGarrett scared him a bit.
"Excuse me, lieutenant."
"Kahikina, isn't it?" Chin said pleasantly. "What can I do for you?"
"I just wanted you to let Detective Williams know that he doesn't have to worry about his car. Even though it's in a one-hour zone, everyone knows what happened. No one's going to give it a ticket. He can pick it up anytime." The officer's words stuttered to a standstill, halted by the blank look on Chin's face.
McGarrett rounded on the young man. "What? What's this about Danny's car? What happened?" he demanded.
Kahikina couldn't believe they didn't know. "The accident at the school?"
Steve, Chin and Kono looked baffled, but news junkie Lori gasped. The others spun to see her face had gone white. "The news report. A car ran into a bunch of kids just getting out of school. That was Danny's daughter's school? I didn't know."
The three spun back to face the officer, who had mustered his sad notification manner.
"Grace?" Steve demanded.
"On her way to the hospital," Kahikina said. "The driver apparently had a heart attack and lost control of his car. The driver, one boy and an adult woman were dead at the scene. Five kids were injured, including Detective Williams' daughter. I don't know how bad," he said, forestalling that question.
"Where did they take her?" Kono demanded.
"I don't know." He held up his hands to stop the outburst he could see coming. "They spread the kids out to three hospitals, I don't know which one Williams' went to. I'm sorry."
Steve had his phone out, punching the contact button.
At the hospital, Danny's phone vibrated. The distraught detective took it out, but then seemed to forget what it was for. He sat with it dangling from his lax hand.
"Chin," Steve said tightly.
"On it." Chin was already at the smart table tracing Danny's phone.
"The people at the scene said Detective Williams was a hero. He kept everything under control until units arrived," the officer said. "Then he went with his daughter in the ambulance."
"Why didn't he call?" Kono asked, worry lacing her words.
If Danny didn't call, it had to be bad.
"Honolulu General," Chin reported.
The four Five-0 officers started to run out, then Steve remembered. "Damn, the governor." He thrust his hand through his hair in frustration. "Lori, will you take that?" he asked, eyes pleading.
The others had all known Danny longer. They all knew Grace. They needed to go. Danny wouldn't miss her, Lori thought realistically. She stopped and nodded. "Yeah. I'll talk to the governor, Steve. I'll tell him what happened. He'll understand."
"Thanks." Then the Five-0 originals left the new girl behind.
"Call me?" she shouted after them plaintively.
Chin waved agreement as they disappeared out the door.
Frantic questioning at the hospital led the detectives to their friend.
"Danny!" Steve's exclamation combined relief, worry and exasperation all at once. "Man, why didn't you call us?"
Danny didn't respond, didn't seem to notice his friends.
"Danny?" Steve's hand dropped on his shoulder. When that drew no response, Steve crouched in front of Danny, intercepting that vacant stare. Danny blinked to have his view of the all-important door blocked; then he realized who was blocking it.
"Steve?" His puzzled voice sounded rusty with disuse.
"Danny, why didn't you call us?" Steve said gently. "You don't have to go through this alone."
"Call?" Danny asked, as if he'd never heard the word before.
Kono sat beside her friend and touched his cheek. "Steve, he feels like ice. I think he's in shock."
Rage bubbled up in Steve's eyes like lava in Kilauea. "He's sitting in a damned hospital in shock and no one notices?"
He went to the nurse's station and demanded a blanket.
"Here," said a calm voice behind him. A woman held out a folded blue blanket. In her other hand she held a steaming Styrofoam cup.
Steve couldn't place her. In her late 40s, with shoulder-length dark hair going gray, the woman wore civilian clothes. Her demure light blue blouse had just one button open at the neck and her sedate dark blue skirt reached her knees. Her shoes were sensible flats. She wasn't a doctor or a nurse, but she was helpful, so Steve was glad to see her.
"At least someone was paying attention," Steve said, throwing a dirty look at the nurses.
"They were paying attention. They called me," the woman said, as she walked with Steve back to Danny. "Patients are their job. Families of patients are mine. I'm the hospital chaplain, Reverend Jan Matheson."
"Reverend," Steve acknowledged. He put the blanket around Danny's shoulders and put the cup of coffee in Danny's icy fingers. For a moment he hesitated to release the cup, for fear Danny's lax hands would drop it, but then Danny's fingers tightened around it, as if seeking the warmth.
Steve sent Kono a message with his eyes. She nodded and put her hand on the cup, steadying it and guiding it to Danny's lips, urging him to take a sip. On the other side, Chin put his arm around Danny's shoulders, holding the blanket in place and offering the warmth of his presence.
Steve stepped aside with the minister and introduced himself and his team.
"I've been told that Detective Williams' daughter is in surgery after having been hit by a runaway car," Jan said. "I came to ask if he would like to wait in my office. It's more comfortable there and we won't disturb the patients if there's yelling."
Steve scratched his head. "Yelling? Do you know my partner?"
Jan smiled. "No, but when parents see a well-loved child hurt, there's often yelling and cursing God. If it helps them to have someone to yell at, I'm the woman they want."
Jan saw tears in the tall commander's eyes. "Grace is Danny's life. When his ex got remarried, he left the rest of his family in New Jersey and moved to Hawaii to be near her." That reminded him. "Dammit! Sorry," he apologized to the minister, then turned back to his stricken friend.
"Danny, did you call Rachel?"
The detective's blue eyes still seemed glazed. "Rachel?"
"Never mind, pal, I'll do it." Steve thumbed Rachel's contact number on his own phone. He got a recording that the customer was out of range. The call went to voice mail, but he didn't leave a message. What could he say that wouldn't frighten her half to death. It would be bad enough for her to see his number on the missed calls.
"Rachel and Stan are in Denver." The voice was still creaky, but Steve rejoiced to hear sensible words from his friend. "Grace and I tried to call last night, but there was no service," Danny continued, tears welling up when he mentioned his daughter. "They had a blizzard in Denver. Might have knocked out the cell tower."
"Glad to have you back, Danny," Chin said in relief.
Danny wasn't so glad. The warmth of the blanket and his friends was thawing him, but that brought back all the horror.
"God, Steve, the kids were flung in the air like toys. I saw … I saw Grace …" Tears ran down his face and he couldn't continue.
"Why don't you come to my office," Jan suggested. "It's more private there."
Steve gestured toward the chaplain's office. Chin nodded. He and Kono ushered their Jersey friend in that direction. He only protested a little, still too shocked to work him into a full rant.
Steve touched the minister's sleeve, so they fell behind the others.
"Jan," she corrected.
"Jan, Danny's a good man, but not a spiritual person. He told me once that he doesn't believe in God. He said people make things up to make themselves feel better. I don't know if that makes a difference to you, but I thought you should know."
Jan touched Steve's arm in reassurance. "Commander."
"Steve, it doesn't matter. Many of the people I talk to here are angry with God because they've been hurt or someone they love is in pain, maybe dying. If I can help Danny I will, even if it's only getting him a cup of coffee or giving him someone to yell at. I don't help people because they're religious. I help them because I'm religious," she said serenely.
To be continued