Title: Danny Williams, Physics Genius
Summary: "So, let me get this straight. We've been buried alive by a coffee farmer turned smuggler and nobody knows we are missing and we don't have a way to contact anyone?" ** Danny whump, Steve, whump, and a whole lotta snark.
Author's notes: After the kind response to "Flying", I decided to try another straight-up h/c story for you all. But when I sat down to write, what came out was a lot of banter (from the guys) and pent-up snark (from me). I hope that's ok. (I promise, the h/c is still there, too.) ;)
Thanks, as always, to Cokie316 and Rogue Tomato for their thoughts, generous gifts of time, and for being fantastic betas.
And thanks to Faye Dartmouth for the encouragement and for thinking a small incident in my real life could make an interesting story (with major embellishment, of course.) Hopefully, you will agree.
Oh, and this story is set in season 2, post Lori and Joe because, yeah. You know why.
"This isn't exactly what I would call low profile," Danny commented as he waved his hand around the interior of the police cruiser.
"Maybe not," Steve responded, his hands firmly gripping the wheel, "but it's the best Hawaii PD could do on such short notice. Besides," he added with a grin, "it could have been worse."
"I could have taken their chopper."
Danny nodded and pursed his lips. "Well, that certainly would have been worse. I applaud your restraint."
Steve grinned again. "Well, it really wasn't restraint. They needed to gas it up and I didn't want to wait that long."
Danny rolled his eyes. "Thank God for small blessings. Jennings would have heard us coming and taken off before we got there. I'd hate to think we made this trip for nothing."
"Even if Jennings gives us the slip, the trip wasn't for nothing; now you've officially visited the Big Island. You can mark one more place off your "to do" list."
"I'm not sure it was ever on my "to do" list," Danny groused.
Steve chuckled. "You know what you need?"
"A cold beer and the rest of my Saturday back?"
"No. You, my friend, need a better appreciation of nature." Steve pointed out the car window at the vegetation. "Just look at the size of those guava plants. The Kona region not only grows the best coffee in the world, but also some of the largest fruit in Hawaii."
"Thank you for that blatant infomercial, Mr. Chamber of Commerce. Are there going to be any other sponsors for today's junket? Maybe Microsoft, hmm? Or Subway? I hear they have a mean sweet onion chicken teriyaki sub."
Steve glanced over at Danny. "Look who woke up on the wrong side of his hotel bed this morning."
"I just want to get this over and get back home. Chin and Kono definitely owe us for taking this one." He glanced at his watch and sighed. "Are we there yet?"
Steve snorted. "What are you, like six?"
"I just don't see why it's taking so long to get there," Danny grumbled as he looked out the window at the passing coffee orchard.
"And here I didn't even think you'd notice, considering you played Angry Birds for most of the flight."
Danny shrugged. "It seemed like a good use of my time."
Steve looked over at his partner. "Grace beat you again, didn't she?"
Danny avoided Steve's gaze by turning to look out the window. "No comment."
Steve laughed. "I keep telling you, it's a straight-up physics game. Once you know the physics, you know how to shoot the bird."
"Oh, I can think of one bird I could shoot right now, no physics required," Danny threatened with a thin smile.
Steve laughed again as he turned off the main highway and onto a dirt road. "Well, you'll have to introduce me to your finger later. We're here. This is Jennings' place." The dirt road continued for about a mile, lined on both sides by thick coffee plants. Then, a small clearing opened with an old farmhouse sitting in the middle. A muddy pick-up was parked on the right and a small Bobcat excavator sat to the rear.
Danny pulled out his H&K and checked it, placing it back in his holster as Steve pulled to a stop.
Steve followed suit and then nodded to Danny while reaching for his door. "Let's go."
"Jennings isn't much for housekeeping, is he?" Danny remarked as they walked toward the front door, taking in the overgrown weeds in the yard and once-white paint peeling off the house.
"I think he's more interested in smuggling than reading Better Homes and Gardens," Steve replied as he climbed up the front porch steps, Danny following a few steps behind.
"Better Homes and Gardens, huh? I thought you preferred reading Woman's Day," Danny snarked.
Steve rolled his eyes. "I'm never going to live that down, am I?"
Danny shook his head and grinned. "Nope."
Steve sighed and knocked on the door. After a few seconds of silence, he knocked again. "Mr. Jennings?" he called. "Five-oh. We have a few questions for you."
A few more seconds of silence passed. Danny drew his weapon and held it down to his side. "Running, hiding, or not home?"
"Not sure," Steve replied, also drawing his weapon. "But I'll bet he's here somewhere." He nodded to the side, where the Bobcat sat next to a mound of dirt and a half-way completed irrigation ditch. "That dirt looks fresh. My bet is he was digging earlier this morning."
Danny nodded. "Well, then we might as well start with the house. Do you want to do the honors?"
"I thought you'd never ask." Steve took a few steps back and then kicked in the front door.
They quickly swept the house, finding it empty. "Clear," Steve said as he finished checking the basement.
"Clear," Danny echoed from the top of the basement stairs.
Steve climbed the stairs, shutting the door behind him and joined Danny at the back door, which led from the kitchen to the backyard.
"Did you notice this?" Danny asked, pointing to the door knob.
Steve leaned over and looked at it. "It's unlocked." He nodded and straightened up. "Unless Jennings leaves without locking up, he's here somewhere."
"My thoughts, too." Danny sighed as Steve walked over to one of the kitchen windows and drew the tattered curtains to the side. "Just what I wanted to do today- look for a criminal on the run in the middle of a coffee orchard. Maybe we should have brought the helicopter after all."
"Or maybe not," Steve commented, nodding outside. Danny joined him at the window and looked out at the backyard. At the edge of the clearing, about fifteen feet from the back porch, were two well-aged wooden doors, angled into the ground.
"A cellar?" Danny asked. "He's not dumb enough to hide in one of those, is he?"
"Probably not, but we have to check it out anyway."
"I don't like the looks of it," Danny said, shaking his head as he scanned the area, taking in the surroundings. "There are too many places for Jennings to hide. Not to mention, this is his home turf. He'll know them all."
Steve dropped the curtain and moved to the back door. "Agreed. We'll have to be careful. We'll sweep the area before opening the cellar. Then, I'll go down and check out it out while you stay up top and keep an eye out for Jennings." He held his SIG in his right hand, left hand ready on the door knob. "You ready?"
Danny nodded. "As I'll ever be."
Steve opened the door and the two partners cautiously made their way outside, guns at the ready, as they squinted in the bright sunshine. They cleared the backyard before Steve moved toward the cellar. Steve turned on the tactical light on his SIG and aimed it at the cellar doors, waiting as Danny quickly cleared the Bobcat and irrigation ditch. Finding nothing, Danny silently moved to Steve's side and nodded.
Steve grabbed one of the old, rusty handles and jerked the door open as Danny covered him. Then he flipped the other door open and started down the dozen or so rotting, uneven steps. He swept the stairs with the light on his SIG as he went and his eyes adjusted to the darkness as he descended.
"See anything?" Danny called, looking down into the cellar.
Once at the bottom, Steve quickly cleared the room and lowered his gun as he walked back to the stairs. "No, noth-" Steve's voice cut off as he looked back up at his partner.
"Danny!" he called out as he simultaneously raised his gun.
Danny heard Steve's warning and began to turn his head, but he was a second too late.
Steve could only watch, horrified, as Jennings slammed the blade of a shovel into the side of Danny's head. Danny immediately slumped, unconscious, his knees giving way. Jennings caught Danny before he hit the ground and used his body as a shield. Before Steve could get a clean shot, Jennings pushed Danny from behind, sending his lifeless body on a swan dive down the stairs.
Steve dropped his SIG and ran to break Danny's fall, but he didn't make it in time. The left side of Danny's body hit the top of the stairs just as Steve reached him and Danny's momentum sent both of them tumbling down the remaining way together. Steve finally landed at the base of the stairs hard on his back with Danny's dead weight on top of him.
Then the world turned black.
It took Steve a few seconds to realize that he hadn't passed out.
Instead, Jennings had slammed the cellar doors shut, blocking out the light. Steve struggled to get free of Danny's weight and rolled his partner off of him as gently as he could. Then he ran up the stairs, two at a time and pushed against the cellar doors.
They only budged an inch. But it was enough for a sliver of daylight to pass through the crack. It was also enough for Steve to see that Jennings had threaded the shovel through the door handles, effectively blocking them in.
Steve dropped the doors and hurried back down the stairs, looking for his dropped SIG. He carefully sidestepped Danny's body and found the gun a few feet away, its tactical light still on like a beacon in the darkness. He quickly picked it up and was halfway back up the stairs when he heard a loud engine start. Steve cursed, thinking of Jennings getting away in the pick-up, leaving him and Danny trapped underground.
But then something clicked in his head.
The engine was too loud for a pick-up.
Steve cursed again, more fiercely this time, and he bounded up the last few steps. He stood back, took aim at the middle of the sliver of a gap between the cellar doors, and fired twice, hoping to splinter the shovel's wooden handle. Then he frantically pushed against the doors to see if he had succeeded. The doors gave a little more easily this time, and he pushed even harder, satisfied to hear the crack and splinter of the shovel handle and to see a few inches of daylight. He adjusted his position and put his shoulder into it, pushing again with all of his strength. He had almost finished breaking the handle in two when the doors slammed back down hard, knocking him off balance and sending a stream of dirt into his face.
Steve stumbled down a few stairs but managed not to fall all the way down. He wiped the dirt out of his eyes, ignored his throbbing shoulder, and went back to the top of the stairs to try again. But this time, the doors did not give at all, no matter how hard he pushed.
Steve pounded frantically on the cellar doors. "Jennings!" he yelled at the top of his voice. "Jennings! Let us out of here!"
Jennings could barely hear Steve over the loud engine of the Bobcat, but he didn't stop.
Instead, he smiled and happily hummed a tune to himself as he dumped a second load of dirt on top of the cellar doors.
To be continued….