Okay, you probably really, really, REALLY gonna hate me by the end of this chapter...
Danny knew that it was not fair to laugh at his partner in such a situation, but watching Lieutenant Commander Steve McGarrett, highly decorated Navy SEAL and head of the Governor's special task force, crawl out of a construction pit, dripping wet and stinking like an entire sewage plant, was not a thing one got to see every day.
Reaching out to help Steve the last few steps out of the pit, Danny wrinkled his nose in disgust as he looked down at his hand which was covered in some sort of stinking, sticky slime – the same slimy liquid that smothered Steve almost from head to toe.
Taking a few steps backward to get away from the smell, Williams eyed his friend suspiciously, searching for any injuries he might have sustained from his crash through the wooden fence or from the subsequent tumble into the five-foot-deep pit full of sewage and garbage. His own headache, spreading from the wound on his left temple through his entire skull decreased distinctly when he found no visible damage and the strain of the last few minutes slowly dissipated.
"Are you alright? Anything hurt?" Danny asked, half amused and half concerned, as he noticed McGarrett's pinched expression and the way he clutched his right shoulder.
Steve spit out a gush of dirty water, clearing his throat and coughing a few times, before his eyes met Danny's. "Just my pride," he answered hoarsely, trying to wipe the worst of the dirt from his mouth, nose and eyes. "That's not half as disgusting as some of the things we had to endure during SEAL training."
Astonishingly enough, Steve didn't seem to be angry about his little swimming excursion, his posture radiated an almost stoical serenity, and Danny didn't dare to imagine all the crazy things Steve went through during his training.
"Are you sure you're alright?" Danny nodded toward Steve's right shoulder, commenting on the fact that Steve was unconsciously rotating the joint.
Giving his partner a brief glance, Steve replied, "Yeah, everything's alright, don't worry. Just bruised my shoulder when I crashed into the fence." Curiously looking around, he asked, "By the way, where is the boy? Did you let him get away?"
"Did I let him get away?" Raising his eyebrows, Danny cocked his head a little to one side. "No, Steven, I didn't let him get away." A smug grin spreading across his face, he pointed to his left, where the teenage boy sat on the floor, handcuffed to a pile of steel grid panels. "While you decided to take a header and go for a swim, I convinced our little Starlight Express friend that he would like nothing better than to cooperate with us."
"Good job," Steve said, trying to slap his partner on the shoulder while they walked toward the teenager, but already having noticed the devious expression on Steve's face, Danny dived away in a swift motion before Steve's hand made contact with his clothes.
"Oh no, no, no, you won't do that," Danny exclaimed, glaring at the other man. "Don't you dare touch me with those slimy fingers of yours. That's gross!"
"Come on, Danno, don't spoil all the fun," Steve answered with a huge grin, before a cough built up in his chest and he spat another mouthful of dirty fluid onto the asphalt. "Okay, maybe you're right, it is indeed a little bit disgusting."
Coming to a halt in front of the steel grid panels, Steve and Danny shared a brief look, communicating silently about the best way to address the boy. After almost a minute of silence the kid began to squirm slightly under their gazes, causing Danny to finally clear his throat. He slowly crouched down, his voice quiet and gentle when he said, "Okay kiddo, let's start with an easy question… What's your name?"
He was met with nothing but silence, the boy's brown eyes defiantly stared into Danny's blue ones. After a while of checking out each other, Danny finally shrugged his shoulders. "Okay, fine, don't tell us your name. Who cares anyway…" Danny sighed as he rose to his feet, throwing a short side glance at Steve. "But it would have been much nicer for you to talk to me, because now you have to deal with my crazy partner here, who has no frigging idea how to handle children."
The boy's glare traveled from Danny to Steve and back before he laughed out, "Hey dude, do you think I'm stupid, or what? I watch a lot of movies, ya know? You're the good cop and he's playing the bad cop, that's really funny. But I'm not scared of you."
"Oh, did you hear that? He's not scared of us," Danny grinned at Steve. "I think you need to try harder to play your part."
Now it was Steve's turn to crouch down with a friendly smile as he addressed the boy, "I think you should be scared, because what you said is not entirely correct." Pointing his thumb over his shoulder at Danny, he explained, "You're right about him, he's indeed the good cop, but I'm not a cop at all." The smile dropped from Steve's face as he added, "Or do you see my badge anywhere? No badge, no cop."
"There he's right," Danny chipped in his agreement.
"I'm not scared of you," the teenager repeated, but it already sounded a little bit less convinced.
"Let's start again from the beginning," Steve offered unperturbed. "What's your name?"
Once more the boy remained silent, his eyes darting nervously over the two men in front of him.
"Hm, still no answer? Do you want me to guess your name?" Steve asked, closely inspecting the boy for a moment, before he grinned brightly. "I think I'll just call you 'Kekoa' – how's that?"
The boy's jaw dropped, he stared at Steve wide-eyed, stunned about the fact that McGarrett guessed his name right. Seeing the kid's reaction, Danny frowned for a second, starting to chuckle as he remembered the blond girl Steve had talked to earlier and who obviously had revealed her friend's name.
"How… how do you know my name?" Kekoa stammered, shaking his head in disbelief.
"Well, I do know a lot of things," Steve answered matter-of-factly. "I know for example that your foster parents won't be too happy about the fact that you're assaulting innocent people like me and stealing from them."
Danny snorted audibly at the word 'innocent' but neither Steve nor the boy seemed to take any notice of him. If possible Kekoa's eyes got even bigger, he fidgeted nervously on the asphalt, his lips slightly trembling.
"Please, don't tell them," he whispered, his gaze pleading as he looked from Steve to Danny. "Please, if they know… they… they'll send me back…" His voice trailed off as his gaze dropped to the ground.
Waiting another moment until Danny finally gave him a push, Steve loudly cleared his throat and said, "Okay, listen Kekoa, let's make a deal. You'll give me back my badge and you promise to behave yourself in the future, then you can go."
Kekoa raised his head, looking at Steve out of watery eyes, "I promise to behave… but…" He blinked a few times and snuffled before he continued, "But I can't give you back your badge."
"And why's that?" Danny chimed in curiously.
"Because I don't have it anymore," the teenager answered quickly. "There was this guy. He gave me fifty bucks if I'd steal your badge for him."
"A guy?" Steve's internal radar flared to attention, he shared a brief look with Danny as he asked, "What did he look like?"
Kekoa shrugged his shoulders, "Haole. His voice was very low and friendly, I thought he was probably a little dumb."
"Haole?" Danny asked with an irritated sigh. "Can you describe him perhaps a little closer?"
The boy obviously regained his composure, he smirked at the two men in front of him as he replied, "Well, he was a Haole, you all look the same."
"That's very funny," Williams replied, narrowing his eyes at the kid. "You're a real comedian, you know that?"
"Hey, Kekoa, that's enough now," Steve intervened with a stern voice, briefly squeezing the boys shoulder before he stood up. "You'll tell us how the guy looked like or our little deal is no longer valid, do you hear me?"
Staring at Steve for a second, pondering his options, Kekoa finally whispered defeated, "Okay."
"Good choice," McGarrett nodded approvingly. "You'll help draw a composite sketch of the man and you'll tell us anything else you remember about him and then you can go."
Out of the corner of his eye, Steve noticed Danny's gesture to join him, together they stepped out of Kekoa's earshot.
"Okay Steven, first of all let me tell you that I was quite impressed with your knowledge about the boy," Danny said, ignoring the proud expression on his partner's face. "But knowing you and your amazing way with children, I think I do not want to imagine how you got all those information from the little girl."
"What are you talking about, me and my amazing way with children?" Steve asked, throwing Danny a wry look. "I'm good with Grace, or am I not?"
"Yeah, well, you may have your moments," Danny admitted, waving his hand in Steve's direction. "But what I actually wanted to say," he changed the subject in the blink of an eye. "You remember today's schedule, don't you? We have a meeting with the Governor in about an hour and I think you probably want to change before we go there. And you should hurry up, because I have quite a feeling that Denning will be more than pissed if we don't show up on time."
"Oh damn, the meeting," Steve exclaimed, a sheepish smile on his face. "I totally forgot about that."
"That's why you have me," Danny retorted dryly. Eyeballing Steve's appearance, he added, "I'll stay and wait for HPD to pick up rollerboy here, while you go home, take one of your insanely short Navy showers and change into another pair of your fancy cargo pants."
"But what about you? You'll be stuck here without a car," Steve objected, but suddenly his face lit up when he suggested with a smirk. "Perhaps you can borrow our little friend's rollerblades."
"Very funny, Steven. How much of that sewage did you actually swallow?" Danny wanted to know, rolling his eyes. "Perhaps it was contaminated with some sort of germs that mess up with your sense of humor."
Trying not to touch Steve's drying but still slimy and smelly clothes, Danny waved his arms to shoo his partner in the direction where they left Steve's truck. "I'm sure I can convince one of the nice HPD officers to give me a ride back to Gabby's. There I'll take the Camaro and pick you up asap. How's that?"
"Sounds great," McGarrett replied, setting off for his waiting car, his wet shoes squeaking with every step he made. "See you later, partner."
"You know what, Steve?" Danny called after him, not in the least trying to hide the sardonic grin that spread across his face. He waited until his friend turned around to face him before he added with a look at Steve's dirty clothes, "I'm so glad that you brought your own car today."
Kono powerfully kicked her legs, intending to dive as quickly as possible before the jet-ski reached them, dragging Grace further beneath the surface of the water.
Another kick sent them even deeper but then Kono felt something painfully collide with her leg, a piercing pain shooting through her right foot and calf. The force of the impact, together with the turbulence that the jet-ski created, violently whirled her body around. Feeling Grace's hand slip from her fingers she tightened her grip, pulling with all her strength until she was able to wrap her whole arm around the girl's waist.
One of the first things Kono learned when she started to surf was not to panic when a powerful wave tried to push her down and to hold her breath even when something unexpected happened while underwater. Keeping calm, even if she didn't know which direction was up or down, was vital and right now years of experience and training kicked in. Kono willed her body to relax, allowing herself to feel the flow of the water.
She knew that time was precious because Grace had no such experience, she was just a child, probably scared to death from the recent events and certainly not able to hold her breath as long as Kono. They had to return to the surface, Kono just hoping that either that lunatic jet-ski driver was gone or that they were close enough to the beach to obtain help – or preferably both.
Pushing against the resistance of the water, they slowly got nearer to the surface, every tiny movement sending a spike of pain through her right leg, all the way from the ankle up to her hip. The useless, injured leg slowing them down, Kono's lungs started to burn from the lack of oxygen and she knew that time was running out. Ignoring the excruciating pain, she tried to use both legs to accelerate their rise.
They had only a few more feet to cover, Kono could already see the light of the sun sparkling through the water, when she felt Grace struggling beneath her, her legs thrashing, her fingernails digging into Kono's palm – and then Kono's heart skipped a beat when the small body became limp in her clutch.
I admit that this is really an evil cliffhanger and I'd like to say that I'm sorry, but the truth is... I'm not ;-)
I probably won't be able to post the next chapter before next Tuesday because I'm going on a short vacation to Switzerland - wish me fun and good weather :-)