A.N. Here is the conclusion to the story. Thanks again to my beta, Tanith2011, and thanks to everyone who has been following this tale. I hope you enjoyed it!
Steve wasted no time in unlocking the cellar door and descending the stairs followed closely by Chin. They were both relieved to see Danny sitting up on the floor. The young man looked weary but otherwise unhurt; his arms protectively encircled Lindsey and her head rested on his shoulder.
"Steve!" Danny called out, relieved at the sight of his boss.
"Danno!" Steve sighed while he swiftly crossed the room to reach the pair. He couldn't help but smile, knowing that his second-in-command was safe. He squatted on his heels in front of them and laid a gentle hand on Lindsey's shoulder. "You okay, honey?" he asked quietly.
Lindsey raised her head to meet the tall detective's dark eyes and smiled.
"I'm fine, Mr. McGarrett," Lindsey replied, her voice now stronger and more confident.
Steve met Lindsey's smile with his own and moved aside so that Chin could help the young woman to her feet. Chin's gut tightened as he got a better look at Lindsey's disheveled appearance and the bruising on her arms. His cop mind couldn't help but envision the rough treatment she had endured, and as the father of several girls, the thought angered him. He kept a protective arm around her as he walked her up the stairs.
Steve quickly inspected Danny's head wound for further trauma, and then helped the young detective to his feet. "I thought I told you to stay put in the office," Steve commented sternly.
"I didn't have a choice, Steve. He had Lindsey…" Danny explained forcefully.
"I know," Steve said more calmly, gripping his protégé's shoulder."You did the right thing. We're going to have to explain this to Che very carefully, though."
"That's for sure!" Danny added, grimacing at the thought of that difficult but necessary conversation.
They exited the basement and left the house. Steve helped Danny into the back of his Mercury next to Lindsey then got into the driver's seat next to Chin. He started the engine and headed for the Palace.
Lindsey was quiet on the ride back to the city. Danny kept glancing in her direction, seemingly powerless to shake his role of her protector. Once more, his concern slipped out.
"You okay, Lindsey?" he asked in a quiet voice.
"Yes, Danny, I'm still fine," Lindsey responded with mild amusement."What happens now?"
"Well, we'll both have to give our statements about what happened. It's important to do that right away while it's still fresh in our minds," Danny explained.
Lindsey sighed. "All I want to do is go home, take a shower and change, but if it's important…"
"I want to go home, too," Danny admitted. "I'm sure that Steve will make this as brief as possible, then you can go home and rest."
When they returned to the Palace, Jenny took Lindsey to the ladies room and helped her close the rip in her blouse with a couple of safety pins. Lindsey remained to freshen up as much as she could.
Steve had steered Danny into his private office and shut the door behind them. Kono had returned from processing Gil at HPD, and he and Chin busied themselves with their own reports. They frequently glanced toward the closed door knowing that Steve was making that sensitive phone call to Che. After a few minutes, Chin looked up from his desk to see Kono standing in his doorway, worry etched on his broad face.
"You got kids, Chin. How you think Che's gonna take dis?" Kono asked.
"Not so good at first, Bruddah," replied Chin sympathetically. "But he's a reasonable man; he'll be okay after some time."
Kono shook his head. "Sure glad I ain't da boss right now!"
Steve switched off the tape recorder after taking statements from Danny and Lindsey regarding the afternoon's events. He started to feel the relief that was typical when a case had been solved, particularly since the two important people in front of him were safe.
"That's all we need, Lindsey, thanks," Steve said sincerely. He was truly impressed with this intelligent and gutsy young woman. Not only had she kept her head in a dangerous situation but she had also provided a key piece of evidence that helped Five-O solve the case.
"You're welcome, Mr. McGarrett," she responded. "I…" Lindsey was interrupted when her father entered the office ushered by Jenny and followed by Chin and Kono. Che had calmed down since the phone call from Steve explaining what had happened, but when he saw the fresh bruises on Lindsey's arms and wrists, it tore at his heart and his brow wrinkled with concern.
"Lindsey, look at you!" Che said quietly, as he gently examined her injuries.
"I'm okay, Dad. It's okay, really," Lindsey said calmly.
"I never should have allowed this!" Che retorted emphatically.
Lindsey couldn't believe what she had just heard. She pulled away from her father and stood her ground. Danny glimpsed the fire in Lindsey's eyes and braced himself. Oh boy, wrong choice of words, Che! he thought.
"Excuse me? Allowed this? This was my choice, Dad, my decision! And I have no regrets. I'd make the same choice again. I have a mind of my own, you know!" Lindsey asserted.
Chin smirked at the young woman's firm declaration. Women's Lib! He'd heard the same words from his own daughters. Kono looked surprised but amused. He held his breath wondering how Che would react.
Che's eyes grew large and he was speechless for a couple of seconds. Then he relaxed again, laughed and shook his head. "You sure do, Sweetheart, I know that!" he agreed calmly.
"Can I take her home now, Steve?" Che asked.
"Sure, Che, we're all done here."
Danny stood politely as the father and daughter turned to leave. Then Lindsey stopped, walked up to Danny, took his hands in hers and kissed him on the cheek, causing the detective to blush up to his sandy curls. "Thanks for everything, Danny," she said softly, looking into his blue eyes. Then she departed with her father.
Chin and Kono burst out laughing. Steve eyed his second-in-command for several seconds. Danny squirmed with embarrassment.
"Danno?" Steve addressed the red-faced detective in a perfectly serious tone of voice.
"Yeah, Steve?" Danny swallowed hard and wished he could disappear.
"I don't want to have to make any more difficult phone calls to Che, agreed?"