Summary: My take on what's going to happen at the end of 2.15. Obviously, if you haven't seen the episode previews or the spoilers for the episode and don't want to be spoiled, don't read this.
Author's note: I have no idea what's going to happen next week, but you know how a scene gets going in your mind and won't let go? Well, that's what happened here. All due respect to the writers and creators of the show – I own none of the characters, only borrowed them to play around a bit.
Thanks to Elysynn, who convinced me this was worth posting.
Steve could only stand there – stand there and watch his partner, his friend, quiver as he squinted in the darkness of the empty warehouse.
"Steven...I...I can't, I'm-"
"Danny, I know what he's making you do."
"No, you don't!"
"Danny, listen to me! For once in your life, just LISTEN, OK? I know. We know. Better me than Grace."
"Better you than … are you KIDDING me?" Even in the darkness, Danny's anger was evident. Steve was calm – as calm as he'd ever been facing a gun, but his partner couldn't see that – or understand it. "Dammitall, Steve! He's making me, do YOU NOT GET IT? I have to SHOOT you! No, scratch that. I don't just have to shoot you. Because if that was all, then we'd be OK. I could wing you, and you know, given as often as you get me shot, I might even enjoy it! But he won't settle for that! I wasted my warning shot on Stan! He told me I have to...I have to..."
The longer Danny wavered, the more time this took, the more chance Rick Peterson would lose his temper and do something to Grace. And Steve needed – he needed not to be the reason Danny screwed this up. So, he took a deep breath, and said exactly what was on his mind.
"Danny, shut up. Just shut up and LISTEN-"
"What? You moron, no, I will NOT shut up! You, you think you can-"
"Detective WILLIAMS, as your commanding officer, I'm ordering you to shut up! Do you GET ME?"
"It's the only way, and you know it." Steve swallowed, and looked right into Danny's eyes. "Danno, do it."
Steve could see the conflict on Danny's face, the fear and the pain and the anguish. He prayed Peterson hadn't gotten creative, and he prayed Danny could forgive himself – and Steve – if something went wrong. And lastly, he prayed nothing would go wrong.
Then, suddenly, Danny raised his weapon, and fired. Three shots, center mass. Steve's chest flared with pain – and then there was nothing.
As the third of the three shots slammed home, Steve spun and then collapsed gracefully to the ground, landing face down. Danny's trip to his knees, with the gun clattering to the ground beside him, lacked that same grace. As his knees painfully connected with the concrete, a low moan escaped Danny's throat.
Steve had to have a plan, right? There had to be something Super SEAL had up his sleeve, right? But all Danny had seen was the wife-beater t-shirt, snug against Steve's chest. There … there was no room for a vest, was there?
And as Danny looked up, he saw a pool slowly spreading out from under Steve's crumpled mass. Expanding as his partner – his friend – didn't so much as twitch in the aftermath of Danny's actions.
Behind him, there came slow, sarcastic claps.
"Well, who woulda guessed...Danny Williams grew a pair." Rick's voice held more than a hint of glee, and Danny spun on his knees, ignoring the blaring pain that shot out from the movement. His fingers scrambled on the ground, and came up with his weapon, bringing it to bear on his former partner before he even fully took in the scene.
Before he realized Rick had Grace trundled up in front of him, a piece of duct tape firmly attached to her mouth – her eyes wide and horrified at the scene in front of her. Danny's resolve swayed, and he lowered the weapon a fraction.
Behind her, Rick let out a low chuckle, and then raised his own weapon into view – the business end of the pistol resting on the part of Grace's hair.
"She saw the whole thing, she saw Danno kill her 'Uncle Steve.'" Rick shook his head slowly, and Danny's emotions took over – grief warring with furious anger mixed with exhaustion and fear and hopelessness. He let his arms drop, and the weapon again clattered to the floor.
"Y'know, Danny, I honestly didn't think you'd pull the trigger." Rick tapped the pistol on Grace's head, and Danny saw her daughter flinch. Even in the darkness, he could tell where tears had traced their path down her face. He wanted to reach out, offer her his arms, but after what she'd just seen...
She's never going to let me hold her again. And I don't blame her. Danny's shoulders sagged, and a sob escaped him as his chest crashed into his knees, grief finally overtaking him.
And at that moment, everything around him exploded in a flurry of noise. Danny heard it all, but saw none of it. A voice behind him shouted, "Now!" - a voice hoarse and breathless with pain, a voice Danny didn't want to believe he heard. Then a pair of gunshots, both from different weapons, but both high above his head. In the chaos, Danny forced himself toward his former partner and his daughter, and as he pulled Gracie down beneath him, a spray of blood spattered across his face.
For one horrible second, Danny thought it was Grace's – until his daughter started sobbing in his grasp, her small body quaking with emotion. The adrenaline, which seconds before had propelled Danny to motion, now flooded away, leaving nothing but relief and sagging muscles in its wake.
A pair of hands grabbed his shoulders, rolled him onto his back. Grace didn't come with him, and Danny clawed past the body in front of his to regain his grip. A body covered in red, wearing a black wife-beater shirt and cargo pants.
"Easy, Danno...Jesus, Gracie, please, hold still." Danny heard rather than saw duct tape being torn away, and a second later, the man in front of him pushed a sobbing nine-year-old into her father's arms. Danny rocked backward with the motion, and the edges of his vision went gray as the impact forced the last of the oxygen from his lungs. He wanted nothing more than to let go, to let the emotion take over and process everything at a speed slower than the rapid-fire action had allowed in the last 12 hours. God, he needed it to be over.
And then, thank God, another pair of arms wrapped around them both. Danny knew without looking that it was Steve, and the voice in his ear – steady and solid and ALIVE – only told him what his brain hadn't quite caught onto, but which his heart knew.
"Easy, Danno. I got ya. It's over."
An hour later, it really WAS over. Peterson's body had been removed, taken to the morgue by no less than Max himself, who marveled at the accuracy of the shots from Kono and Chin that had nearly decapitated Peterson. Max had then looked at Steve, and with a sense of aplomb only he could manage, wondered where McGarrett had found "such a copious amount of blood facsimile in such a short period of time."
Grace, nearly hysterical over first watching her father shoot her Uncle Steve, and then over Uncle Steve coming back from the dead and finally over being splattered with blood and brain matter, had taken nearly a half hour to settle. In fact, the only thing that had truly calmed her was watching Steve strip off first his t-shirt (and the layer of padding and blood packets beneath it), and then his vest, neatly concealed under the first two layers.
Then, with all the reassurance he could muster, Steve took Grace's hand, and placed it gently on his chest, which was already starting to bloom vicious bruises from the impact of the three bullets. When Grace could feel the warmth of the skin, and the beating of his heart, she had thrown her arms around him in a fierce hug.
Just for a second, Steve returned it – and then shifted her back to Danny. The detective's skin was still pale to the point of translucence, and Steve could see the exhaustion starting to creep in. He chose his next words carefully.
"Hug your Danno, Gracie. He's the real hero here." Grace looked up, confused, but even as she did, tightened her arms around Danny. Steve laid a hand on her shoulder. "He did what I told him to, Gracie, to save you. And he trusted that everything would turn out OK in the end. Right, Danno?"
Danny just nodded, a grateful look in his eyes as he tightened his grip on his daughter. Steve moved his hand from Grace's shoulder to Danny, and squeezed tightly.
"That's what partners do. They trust each other."
Kono eventually intruded, saying the paramedics wanted to look Grace over and that her mother was waiting outside with Stan. Gently, she slipped an arm around the nine-year-old's shoulders, and angled her away from Danny. She locked one hand around Danny's wrist, though, holding on until Danny nodded.
"It's OK, monkey. Go with Auntie Kono." Then Grace went quietly, leaving Danny and Steve sitting in the middle of an empty, dank warehouse, tiny fleck of light seeping in through cracks in the black-painted windows, the smell of copper and blood and even more foul odors hanging in the air.
When it came time to break the silence, unsurprisingly, it was Danny.
"I could've killed you." There was almost no tone in his voice, the only emotion exhaustion.
"Yeah, but I didn't think Peterson would've thought to dig out armor-piercing rounds." Steve's voice stayed even and calm.
"And if he had? You MORON. I would've killed you – and Grace would've watched and I'd have gone to jail and -"
"Just shut up, Danno. You didn't kill me. And you're not going to jail. And it is over. I promise."
And in the silence that followed, the sunshine seemed to grow brighter, driving back the darkness and the insidious odors and even the emotions of the day.