A/N: Back when I was writing my ABC stories, one of my lovely betas, Cokie316, suggested I write a crazy story for the letter Q. I've been trying to get my creative juices flowing again, so here is a quick attempt to jump back into writing. I hope you enjoy this quite crazy little story. Thanks again to Cokie316 and sockie1000 for sticking with me!
Quartet Quarantined under a Quilt after the Quandary of a Quake-induced Quicksand Quagmire resulting in a Quack prescribing Quaalude after a Quibble turns into a Quarrel about Quetzalcoati.
He was reaching deep into his refrigerator for a beer when the quake started. Shifting aside a tower of take-out boxes and aluminum foil mounds that held leftovers that were who-knows how old, he thought it was a big truck going by. Or maybe a large freight train. But then the floor started to shimmy. Then bounce. And he couldn't help but start to feel a little sea-sick with all the movement going on and it took too long for him to realize what was happening.
No one could really blame him for his delayed response. You didn't get earthquakes like this in New Jersey. Sure, he'd lived through a few smaller-magnitude rumbles in his day. The most memorable on February 18, 2009. That was the day his wife got re-married. He saw it as a sign that the wedding should be called off.
Rachel had not been too amused at what he believed to be an incredibly accurate and enlightened theory.
But that had been a cake-walk compared to what he was experiencing now. Ducking out of his fridge, Danny walked on un-easy legs to the lone, small window in his small apartment. Outside, the sun was setting. Trees swayed together in concert. Down the street, a car alarm blared an ominous warning. He expected the shaking to stop, but it only magnified. Behind him, the unattended refrigerator door slammed shut. Danny turned around to see the contents of his entire life – which admittedly wasn't a lot – being thrown off of shelves and knocked off walls. He could actually hear the sounds of the earth splintering around him.
An earthquake in paradise. Of course, he dejectedly thought, as a framed photo of Grace smashed to the floor.
He forced his brain to start working. He didn't really have an action plan in place for this type of event. Was he supposed to hide under a door frame? Or was that for a tornado? Should he go outside, or stay in? All at once, the floor buckled and Danny fell to his knees. How long will this go on? It had already been… what? 30? 40 seconds? It had to stop eventually, right?
The sudden need to get out coursed adrenaline through his blood, and Danny began to crawl toward the door. The rumbling sound intensified as he reached a shaking hand up to the door handle. Nearly there! He felt the cool knob under his sweaty fingertips, just as something fell against his head and he blacked out.
"Danny!" Steve forced his way past the barricade of both police tape and police officers surrounding Danny's apartment complex. Or what used to be Danny's apartment complex. It was an odd sight, if Steve had stopped to take the time to survey the damage. Half of the building was buried in sand, causing it to appear as an odd homage to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. But Steve didn't have time to absorb the sight that was before him. All that fueled him now was the overwhelming, single-minded focus to get inside said building and locate his partner. His partner, who had not answered Steve's dozens of phone calls since the earthquake had struck the island.
"Danny!" he shouted again in futility, knowing that his partner – his friend – was trapped inside his rotten hell-hole of an apartment, and probably could not respond to Steve's shout.
Frustrated, he pulled out his cell phone and dialed Danny's number… again. This time, the call didn't even go through. Slamming his phone shut, he stuffed it back into his pocket. He vaguely remembered an officer telling him that circuits had been overloaded with phone calls from frantic family members attempting to reach one another, preventing most calls from going through. That information did nothing to improve Steve's mood, and only ratcheted up his need to get into Danny's apartment and make sure that his friend was okay. Simply standing here and watching as emergency personnel casually set up cranes to light the quickly darkening area, and huddled over the structure's blueprints to plan their way in, was not an option. He had to go in.
A strong hand grasped his bicep, and he spun around, expecting another HPD officer to tell him to evacuate the area, but instead was face-to-face with a grim-faced Chin Ho Kelly. Chin opened his mouth, but Steve stopped him immediately.
"Chin, I swear to God, if you are going to tell me not to go in there and get my partner out, so help me…"
Chin held up his hands in surrender. "No way, brah. I just wanted to ask you what you were thinking going in there alone?" He smiled and gestured behind Steve, who turned around and saw Kono, who was effectively distracting the men in charge of the operation. Steve turned and smiled back at Chin before they both carefully slipped around the side of the apartment complex, entering the courtyard of Danny's building.
"Careful," Steve said, leading the pair. "It's going to be difficult to get up to the second floor." The stairs leading upward were cracked and disintegrating before their eyes. Leave it to Danny to find a place to live that in no way met health and safety standards.
"No matter," Chin stated calmly. Getting a running head-start, Chin breezed past Steve and leapt up the second-story landing, barely reaching the iron barrier with his hands. Hanging only a moment, he pulled his legs up and brushed off his jeans with a flourish. Steve shook his head and smiled at Chin before mimicking his movement, accepting Chin's help up onto the landing.
"You know, it's a good thing Danny isn't here to see you do a stunt like that," Steve commented wryly. "He'd tell you that you'd been hanging around me too long."
"We've all been hanging around you too long," a small voice reached the duo's ears from behind a closed door to their right.
Steve and Chin shared a look before carefully walking up the now-inclining walkway over to the entrance to Danny's apartment, using the handrails for support. Steve reached the door first and tried to open it, but quickly discovered that something on the inside was preventing it from opening.
"Ow. Stop that!"
"Sorry! Is that you? Danny, get out of the way of the door. I'm coming in."
"Ok, ok. Just… just don't kick the door down just yet."
Steve waited a moment, but when he didn't hear an all-clear from Danny, he tried opening the door again.
"Would you cut it out?"
"Danny, get out of the way of the door!"
"Ok, ok. Just… just don't kick the door down just yet."
Chin arched a questioning brow at Steve before asking, "Danny, are you hurt?" No response. "Danny?"
"Why is my floor slanted?"
"Your building is half-buried in the sand, Danno," Steve responded irritably at Danny's non-urgent response to move himself away from the blocked door.
"Quicksand? No. Just normal, Hawaiian sand."
"Quake-induced quicksand," Danny mumbled to himself in a sing-song voice.
"That's it," Steve said worriedly to Chin. "We've got to get in there. Now." Rubbing his face in frustration, it was then he finally noticed the small window. Leaning forward, he could just barely see into the tiny apartment. Sure enough, on the floor, his waist and legs barricading the door, was his partner. He seemed uninjured, but it was difficult to see in the waning light.
"Danny. Danny!" Danny turned his head toward Steve's shout, and that's when Steve noticed the blood. "What happened? Why didn't you tell me you were hurt?"
"Steve?" Danny looked confused, and Steve grew more worried. Clearly his friend was suffering from a concussion. "Did you find Quetzalcoati?"
"What? Danny, listen to me," Steve commanded. "Move your legs so we can open your door. We need to get you downstairs before this whole building crashes down around you."
Danny shook his head. "Nope. Not until Quetzalcoati is found!"
Steve rubbed his face again, ready to storm the door and kick it down… his partner's legs be damned!
"Danny? It's Chin. Listen to me, brah. Quetzalcoati is outside. And you need to come out here right now. Do you understand?"
Steve couldn't believe that Chin's suggestion worked as he saw Danny shift his legs slightly. Steve cautiously moved away from the window and back to Chin's side as he opened the door to Danny's apartment. He sighed as he took in the sight of his fallen friend. Danny's head was caked in blood. Shattered remains of a lamp were scattered near his body. Steve bent low and helped Danny stand-up, draping his arms across his shoulders for support. Chin fell in step on Danny's other side, and together they led him to the second-story landing.
"Quetzalcoati… quicksand… ughhnn…"
"Hang in there, Danny," Steve whispered in support. "Nearly there."
Chin dropped down to ground level and helped ease Danny down. Steve hopped down after him and together they half-carried, half-supported Danny to the barricade, where Kono rushed forward to help as well.
"What happened?" she gasped, taking in Danny's appearance.
"A quagmire!" Danny suddenly shouted, and Kono glanced at her cousin before pulling Danny into a wary hug.
"O…kay," she said, helping lead Danny to an ambulance. "Let's just sit here, okay? So you can get your head looked at."
The young paramedic smiled sympathetically as he began his examination, but Danny wasn't making it easy. He kept alternating between a mumble and a shout about quagmires, quakes and Quetzalcoati. And quite frankly, it was grating on Steve's nerves. But he waited patiently as his partner was assessed.
"You know, I could prescribe something for him right here," the paramedic stated simply, eyeing Danny carefully as he spoke. "Help him relax for his trip to the hospital."
Steve nodded in agreement, growing more anxious by the second as Danny's ramblings grew more and more absurd.
"He's a quack! Don't let him give me anything, Steven!" Danny yelled, grabbing Steve's arm. "Please!"
The desperation in Danny's voice was hard to ignore, and Steve glanced at the young paramedic as he readied a vial. The man smiled again as he prepped Danny's arm for the injection. "What are you giving him, exactly?"
"A sedative," he reported.
Suddenly, another paramedic stormed around the back of the vehicle, and grabbed the younger man's arm, causing the vial to fall to the ground and shatter.
"What do you think you are doing?" he demanded. "Quaalude? There is no call for such drastic actions, Peterson!"
The younger paramedic stumbled backward a few steps, shock and fear on his face as he stumbled over his words. "I… I just thought… he… I…"
"Wait in the front of the vehicle. NOW." Peterson shook with embarrassment, but did as his superior instructed. Steve looked at Chin and Kono, who both looked as shocked as he felt.
"What just happened?" Steve asked, now standing protectively over Danny.
"Peterson," the man said, as if it explained it all. When Steve glared, he quickly continued, "He's new. Enthusiastic. A bit too enthusiastic, if you ask me."
"He's a quack!" Danny shouted, surging to his feet, but instantly swaying on the spot. Kono helped ease him back into the ambulance as the elder paramedic secured a blood pressure cuff to his arm.
"Detective Williams is stable, but I would like to transport him to Hawaii Medical," he stated calmly. "I need to attend to other residents here first, however. While Peterson may not be up to speed on proper dosing procedures, I assure you he knows how to drive. I'll have him take the detective immediately."
Steve adamantly shook his head. "Thanks, but no thanks. I think we'll just wait here until you get back." He didn't like the idea of sending Danny off with a man who apparently had no idea what he was doing. "Or I'll take him myself."
The paramedic glanced at the group, seeing their resolve, and reluctantly agreed… provided they all remain with Danny until he returned. Danny seemed much calmer with his friends around, so they all thought it best to stay close. Chin, Kono and Steve all got as comfortable as they could within the ambulance.
"Have I been quarantined?" Danny asked tentatively, his body shivering slightly against the adrenaline crash he was undoubtedly experiencing.
Kono shook her head as she searched the small space for a blanket. Finding a quilt tucked away under the stretcher, she carefully tucked Danny underneath its warmth. "Nope, not quarantined," she soothed.
Danny sighed. "Good," he said. "Because that would have just rounded out the day that was brought to me by the letter 'Q'."