Summary: Chin Ho draws on the strength of his ohana to get through, even though he can't see or hear them.
Author's Note: Credit where credit is due - thank you to my good friend Samantha Winchester for the lines you guys will love the most in this little story.
WHEN ALL YOU CAN DO IS BREATHE
He never believed his end would come this way. He'd been a cop for so long, he's been with Five-0 for so long, and other than a bomb collar around his neck and one bullet grazing his side, he'd never been seriously injured in the line of duty.
But this, this was so different even to the insane movie screen-type blowups that had become the norm for the task force he was so proud to be a member of. For the first time ever, they'd been dealing with international terrorists. Steve's milieu but certainly not his. Even Danny had had some experience with it back in New Jersey, having been there when the World Trade Center towers had come down on 9/11. He'd gone to Manhattan and pitched in with hundreds of others in law enforcement, but even with the advent of the case that had Chin Ho Kelly in the spot he was in right now, Danny had been uncharacteristically tight-lipped about the experience.
He struggled to take a breath. In the dark he couldn't see what exactly was pressing down on his entire left side so hard, but it didn't take a rocket scientist to know it was most likely concrete, wood and maybe some fiberglass thrown in for good measure.
If only he hadn't run into the building after the small child the daycare worker had screamed was missing from her count. But it was who he was…and none of his teammates could've let a child die without even trying.
He felt a cough wanting to escape but fought to contain it. He wiggled the fingers of his left hand but couldn't even feel his right one.
A soft moan reached his ears and the next breath he exhaled was a sigh of relief. "You okay, Missy?" he whispered to the girl nestled in the protective shell he'd created with his body.
She started to cry.
"Shhh," he soothed, wishing he could pet her long, red hair in comfort. But he couldn't move. And he didn't dare try. Being on his side with his entire self wrapped around her might be the only thing keeping her – and him, for that matter – from being squashed like bugs.
He thought for a moment as her cries continued. Thought about Danny, about what Danny would do in this situation. It's not that Chin was any stranger to hanging out with kids, not with the size of his extended family. But he hadn't ever found himself in a position like this before, trapped with a frightened little girl.
"Oh, yeah. Kids love it when they find out you're Five-0. Gracie's school friends are convinced we're all superheroes. She's seen me roll out of bed in the morning, so she thinks it's hysterical that anyone would call me a superhero."
Chin smiled a little in spite of the fact that his ribcage was definitely feeling the pressure of the building that had crumbled on top of them. "Missy," he whispered, grateful that the daycare worker had had the presence of mine to shriek the little girl's name out at the same time she'd been freaking out about her still being inside.
"I'm with Five-0," he said softly.
The little girl sniffled. "Five-0?" she asked.
"Yeah, I came in here to get you out." He still couldn't feel his right hand nor, come to think of it, his right arm. "I'm sorry, Missy, we didn't quite make it."
"I want my Mommy."
"I know, sweetie. Truth be told, I wouldn't mind my own mommy being here right now."
"Are you scared?"
"Yeah," he said truthfully, wondering if he should really be telling a young girl that. "But my teammates will get us out."
He believed it.
Or, at least, he tried to.
After all, he hadn't seen Kono, Steve or Danny in his quick scan of the area before the daycare worker had grabbed him in a panic about Missy. For all he knew, they were as equally trapped as he and Missy were. Or worse.
He squeezed his eyes closed against the darkness surrounding them and swallowed hard. He was not going to think that way. He was not.
"We talked about you today," came Missy's small voice. She wriggled a little but then seemed to give up trying to move. Chin ignored the sharp jab of pain it caused in his chest.
"Oh?" he ground out. "You talked about Five-0?"
He felt her head nod, hair moving against the hollow of his throat. "Ji said you weren't heroes, but me and Kali said you were, and Miss Tan said we were right."
Chin smiled, even as another stab of pain felt like a knife through his chest. The smile morphed into a grimace and he sucked in a breath, bringing yet another searing blast of agony through his ribcage.
"Heroes…huh?" he ground out, desperately trying to calm himself.
Her head nodded again as he slowly exhaled, waited a beat, then began to slowly inhale. "Now I can prove it, 'cause you saved me."
"Yeah, well, I'm still working on that," he whispered, bright spots of light dancing behind his closed eyelids.
Silence enveloped them, broken only by Missy's evenly spaced breaths and Chin's own increasingly ragged ones. He forced himself to think about what he knew of chest or lung injuries in the line of duty. And his thoughts turned to Steve.
"When that wall came down on me, I swear to God I thought it'd crushed my entire chest cavity. By the time they brought in a crane from five towns over I was pretty sure I was toast, but I stayed awake the entire time."
"How'd you keep from passing out?"
"Just focused on the reason I was there to begin with. The people I'd protected by getting them out of there before the next blast. Knew I still had a job to do even with the bomber out of commission."
And Chin knew he had a job to do, too. He had to focus on Missy, on keeping her encased in the shell formed by his body that was keeping the pieces of the office building where her daycare was located, from crushing her to death. He had to keep breathing, he had to stay conscious. He had to keep her safe until help came.
"Yeah?" came her small, tired voice.
"You're being a very brave little girl."
"I don't feel brave."
"But you are," he insisted, carefully taking measured breaths, picturing what he could remember of her pale, freckled face and bright fire-red hair in his mind. "Most kids would be kicking and screaming right now."
"Really?" she asked.
"Yeah, I think so," Chin replied.
"I'm too scared to kick and scream," she confessed. "Besides, you're Five-0. You know what to do."
Oh, if only that were true, Chin thought. Because right now, he didn't at all know what to do. That thought led him to picturing his cousin in his mind.
"I gotta tell you, cuz, I really didn't know what to do when that shed blew."
"Yeah, but you did all right in the end. What made you think to dive for that dingy little window at the last minute?"
"I don't know. It seemed like it was my only opening, and if I was going to die, I sure wasn't going to go without a fight!"
Chin was so afraid to move his left arm. He could feel the bicep was wedged between two very sharp-edged and heavy somethings, and that his left hip was pinned down. But his legs seemed free of debris and that gave him an idea.
Slowly he moved his left leg, scissoring it forward across his right, which was wedged against something he could only pray wasn't glass that would tear it to shreds. He heard the scrape of something shifting and curled himself further around Missy as much as he could.
"Hold on, keiki," he said quietly, then moved his legs in a scissor pattern again, grimacing when he felt and heard his pantleg tear.
Something larger moved this time and suddenly the space they were trapped in was filled with light even as the larger object smashed down on Chin's legs. He heard his right ankle snap and gasped, vision whiting, the quick breath sending a jab of pain through him neck to stomach.
"Mr. Five-0?" Missy said, voice laced with tears.
All he could do was pant, breathing out of control as fight-or-flight instincts kicked panic into high gear.
Danny's face, looking so scared, unable to catch his breath, wheezing as he tried to tell Steve what had happened.
Kono's wide, frightened eyes as she stood surrounded by a group of criminals in nothing but her bra and panties.
Steve's initial incoherence, his inability to walk on his own, the very obvious cuts, bruises and evidence of torture on every bit of skin they could see.
His ohana had all survived.
This was nothing but a broken ankle and…well…maybe something having to do with his chest, but dammit…he wasn't going to let Missy…or his team…down.
"Five-0?" Missy repeated, this time accompanied by a sob.
"Missy," he managed to get out on an exhale even as what felt like liquid lightning shot up his leg into his pelvis, then zig-zagged through his abdomen from his chest. "It's okay, keiki, it's okay."
"You have owies."
"Yeah," he said, barely keeping himself from huffing out a laugh that he wasn't sure he'd have stayed conscious through. "Yeah, I have owies. Do you have any owies?"
"I don't know."
"Does anything hurt anywhere?" he asked, putting his mind solely on her, squashing down his own problems.
"No, but you're kinda heavy."
He couldn't help but smile. "The building that fell down on us is even heavier," he whispered.
"Why did it fall down?" Missy asked, tears having stopped.
Chin blinked against the light that was now making their surroundings more than clear. He couldn't see much in front of them; just a flat piece of white concrete jutting up a couple of feet. But he could see parts of Missy's hair and body, and realized he'd held her face-into-his-body when they'd gone down.
He didn't even remember picking her up.
"Some bad men," he said, voice a lot more steady even though he was only taking small, shallow breaths. "They blew it up."
Then his ears perked up.
A distant shout.
A shout from a voice he knew.
"They're coming," he breathed into her hair, eyes closing. He felt a tear trickle out of the right one. "They're coming, Missy."
"You mean Five-0?" she asked into the skin just above the V created by his button-down aloha shirt.
He nodded just a bit. "Yeah, Missy. I just heard the boss's voice."
"Which one is he?"
Chin Ho smiled, recalling all the footage he'd seen of them on the television, all the photos in the papers and online. "The handsome one with the dark hair," he replied.
"You mean Lieutenant Kelly?" she asked.
He couldn't help but huff out a laugh – she obviously hadn't seen him before the bomb went off. But that laugh sent a stab of pain through his body that this time, he couldn't avoid just by thinking about Missy or his ohana or anything else.
A shadow cast them into darkness again. "Chin? Chin!"
"Steve," he breathed.
"Long as you get us out of here," he replied, smiling against Missy's hair.
"I've got him!" Steve bellowed, moving away from the hole just enough to let the light back in.
Kono's voice, scared, sharp, clipped. "Chin!" she cried, and he could hear her scrabbling up the debris.
"Careful, careful," Steve warned. "Danny!"
"They're on the way! Hey, guys, come on, hurry up, over here!"
"They're coming, Chin. They're coming."
Chin allowed his eyes to close. "See, Missy?" he said, so quietly he didn't even know whether she could hear him. "Told you they'd come."
"Can I have a hug from Lieutenant Kelly?" Missy asked.
He smiled. "We'll see what we can do, Missy."