Tofu with Vegetables

 

 

Clutching his moist rib cage, Williams reeled in pain as the large hands roughly dumped him into the sedan’s trunk. His head smacked into something metal, but the pain in his ribs still took precedence. Before he could settle in to analyze the situation, a shadow darkened his surroundings, and Kiki Chee’s small form landed on top of him. The momentary blackout from the tortuous sensation of a rib further displacing itself from its rightful position did not last long enough to suit Dan. Too soon, he snapped back to pain-filled alertness as the petite figure squeaked and whimpered while the trunk lid slammed and enclosed the pair in darkness.  

 

“Kiki… stop… please,” Dan beseeched in a wheeze. The woman’s squirming was adding to his agony, and there was little he could do to physically isolate his ribs within the confines of the cramped trunk. At a complete loss as to why this was happening, he did his level best to calm the terrified creature, who seemed to be trying to crawl into his shirt pocket.

 

Kiki’s almost childlike crying might have – on any other occasion – tugged at his heart, but at this moment, he could not get past his own physical emergency. He tried to soothe her with calming shushes and things one might say to a small child, but his pain was too great to sound convincing. The former Miss Hawaii continuing shivering and weeping until, finally, in the aftermath of a particularly sharp jolt to the vehicle and ensuing blinding stab of pain, Dan succumbed to the comfort of recessed consciousness.

 

 

 

Dannnnneeee….” The calling of his name filtered into his the waking part of his brain. For a few seconds, he thought it might be one of Chin’s little girls, but that notion was quickly squelched as the next demand for attention came. “Danny Williams, wake up!” The voice had turned shrill and was accompanied by a rough poke to his arm.

 

It was only with effort that he rolled from his side to drop perfunctorily onto his back. The landing sent a bolt of to his rib cage and his head. He gasped and reached for his diaphragm, but quickly lightened his clutch as he realized that grab only heightened the pain.

 

“Danny, open your eyes!”

 

Williams swallowed as he considered whether his physical pain or the voice were more bothersome. Finally, he slowly complied with the demand.

 

“What…. what happened?” Dan croaked even as the recollection struck him of its own accord. He – and the television crew – had been attacked!

 

He recalled spotting the suspicious vehicle tailing them as they meandered down Hotel Street. His gut told him the men in the car were up to no good… The clincher was the eye contact he’d made with the thug in the back seat – a sixth sense told Williams the men’s intentions were seriously hostile.  Unfortunately, the detective and his unaware entourage were unable to move quickly enough to avoid the confrontation.

 

They came around the corner, and were met with immediate gunfire, which took down the cameraman, and – Dan wasn’t certain – but he thought the other crew member had been hit as well. Thinking Kiki was somewhat safely tucked behind him, he was surprised when she squealed. She had panicked and stepped out into the line of fire. The detective quickly dove towards her just in time to take the round in his…. his what?

 

Dan winced as he gingerly rolled, craned his neck, and lifted his arm as far as the pain would allow to inspect the damage. His shirt and suit jacket were torn, and around the site of the wound on his white shirt, blood seeped, forming a crimson line. At least he wasn’t gushing, he mused just before Kiki’s voice snapped him back to his current problem.

 

“What are we going to do?”

 

He blinked at her nonplussed – had she not noticed that he had been unconscious?? Instead of throwing back a sarcastic retort, he began to survey the windowless, dusty room. They were alone in what appeared to be a storage room. A gray, metal shelf leaned against one wall. Bent and buckling, the old piece of furniture had seen better days. The only thing it now held was a couple of rusty tools. There were dozens of mangled cardboard boxes haphazardly strewn about. The dirt on the floor was marred with signs of recent human traffic, but it told Dan that they were being held someplace now off the current beaten, civilized trail.

 

Williams looked up at his companion, who sat on her knees by his side. “Did you try the door?”

 

It was Kiki’s turn to blink. “Try to do what to the door?”

 

Dan’s turn. “Open it?”

 

The woman’s expression offered no doubt that she thought this was a dumb idea. “Why? To let the big, mean men with guns know that you’re awake now? That’s what they’re waiting for, you know!”

 

The detective groaned as he brought himself to a sitting position, and then re-focused on Kiki. “They said that? That they’re waiting for me to wake up? Why?”

 

“Yes, yes, and I don’t know,” she returned as she unhappily wiped her cheek with the back of her hand.

 

Despite his discomfort and the sporadic flare-ups of annoyance he felt towards the still-gorgeous female, her misery still spurred a measure of sympathy. He reached up and brushed away several errant tendrils of hair which had fallen into her face. “Are you alright?”

 

Her lip quivered slightly as she shrugged. “I think so… I tore my dress.”

 

Dan frowned sympathetically as he inspected her shapely figure for injury. “I’m sure it can be repaired. I thought I remembered you saying something about bleeding.”

 

“I guess it was Frankie’s blood.”

 

“I’m sorry, Kiki,” the detective offered with dejection. “I have no idea why these guys grabbed us. It must have something to do with a case I’m working.”

 

“The Sands case maybe?” She queried as she ran a delicately traced along her lower eyelashes with a fingernail – Dan didn’t bother asking the reason since the activity appeared to be related to her makeup.

 

“I doubt it,” he whispered distractedly as he unsteadily came to his feet, lightly clutching his bleeding ribcage. Partially to distract himself from his vertigo as he treaded toward the door, he added quietly, “There would be no reason for anyone to think that I’ve got special information on that case.”

 

“Really…” Chee returned softly, but scrambled to her bare feet quickly when she realized that the detective was slowly approaching the door. “What are you doing?” she hissed.

 

Dan motioned for her to be quiet as he leaned his head close to the crack. Kiki joined him and clung to his back as he listened while he gingerly tried the knob. Unsurprised to find it locked, he realized he could make out muffled voices. To reignite his irritation with the beauty behind him, he felt her fingernails digging into the skin on his back with enough pressure that he found it hard to focus on what the goons outside the door were saying.

 

“Claws!” Williams snapped quietly over his shoulder.

 

“What?” Chee leaned closer.

 

“Your nails! Retract them from my back please!” The command came out a little louder than he’d intended he quickly realized, and his attention immediately turned back to the audio on the other side of the door.  To his relief, nobody appeared to have noticed the interaction between their captives. The voices of three men filtered into the storage room cum jail cell.

 

“When’s Rollie gonna be here?”

 

“I heard what you heard – why you askin’ me?”

 

“He wanted us to have the scoop from the cop by the time he got back.”

 

“Well, lug head – that’s gonna be kinda tough until he wakes up!”

 

“Don’t call me a lug head! I’m not the one who shot him!”

 

“Hey, I was aimin’ for the broad! If he hadn’t jumped in front of her, we’d have been able to grab him without a hitch.”

 

Kiki gasped loudly and began to cry, “They were trying to kill me!”

 

Dan quickly turned and clutched her hand, hoping she could keep her head through what was going to be a very difficult few hours. She continued to whimper, so the detective herded her to the opposite side of the room to address her in a desperate whisper. “Kiki, you have to be brave now. We’ll get out of this. Steve is looking for us this very moment. Now please, you’ve got to be quiet.” The officer’s lip twitched in pain as he tugged his handkerchief from his suit pocket and put it to her running nose. “Can you do that for me?” He beseeched.

 

Brow still furled, she kept the kerchief to her face as she nodded delicately.

 

“Good girl… now stay here – I need to figure out what they want from me.” He squeezed her arm lightly and made his way back to the door.

 

Nahh, we’ll just wait for Rollie now – he’ll make short work of that little cop and the girl.”

 

“So how’d that little wino find out where Sands is holed up?”

 

An electric charge could not have given the detective a greater jolt. “Hap,” he breathed noiselessly. Had these thugs been watching the down-on-his-luck informant??

 

“Who cares – if we he’d stuck around, we could’ve snatched him instead of Five-0 in there. As it is, we’re lucky that snitch spilled his guts to Dick Tracy right in front of the TV camera!”

 

A guffaw preceded the chuckling comment. “Yeah! If only that broad would rat all of our marks out so good!”

 

Slowly, the scenario, which landed them here as prisoners, began to penetrate the fog of pain and faintness. Dan looked ominously towards Chee, who watched him uncertainly as she worried the handkerchief. He launched himself across the room and grabbed the top of her shoulder, ignoring the violent blast of pain and vertigo which befell him. “What…. what did you say on camera while I was talking to Hap?”

 

Kiki shook her head slightly. “Nothing… just that you were getting valuable information—”

 

Making a superhuman effort to remain calm, Dan pressed, “Nothing… no mention of any case – say Sands for example?” By the time the question hit the air, it sounded like an accusation. Williams knew in his gut that Kiki had somehow intimated that Dan was getting information about the Sands case.

 

“Well… maybe I did take a stab in the dark…” Chee waxed in a quaking voice.

 

Dan looked at her in amazement. “Do you realize what you’ve done?” The woman could only stare at him apologetically as he continued. “These goons think I know something about the Sands case! When ROLLIE – whoever that is – gets back, he’s gonna—” Suddenly, Williams stopped in mid-sentence, and cocked his head in concentration. “Did that guy say, ‘where Sands is holed up’? A kidnap victim wouldn’t be HOLED UP.”

 

The petite figure saw her opportunity to deflect the young man’s wrath. “I hate to sound selfish, but I’m more worried about two other kidnap victims!”

 

Dan took a too-deep breath, but cut it short as the act nagged his broken ribs. He leaned against the wall and let it guide him to the floor.

 

Kiki gasped and dropped with him. “Danny! Are you alright?”

 

Williams’ desire to keep a stiff upper lip in front of the former woman of his dreams was flagging. He was now nauseous and faintness was coming in waves. He wrapped himself in a blanket of sarcasm and anger – uncomforting protectors though they were. “I’m fine…” He gave the woman a narrowed-eyed glare. “Other than the fact that I may have internal injuries, which will probably won’t matter after the three or four ignorant gorillas in the other room come in here and pound me into the floor.” A glance down at the floor made the detective do a double take.

 

Chee’s lower lip pulled out into a pout as she watched Williams, with one hand on his ribs, lightly run his hands over the tile square. “What DID you talk about with Hap then?”

 

“None of your business,” Dan supplied distractedly as he continued to look downward. Kiki opened her mouth in indignation, but before she could comment, the officer spoke again, this time with more urgency. “We’re in one of the old warehouses near Honolulu Harbor! They used raised flooring in some of them to lower the risk of water damage.”

 

“Mahalo for the history lesson,” Chee spat acidly. “At least I’ll die smart!”

 

Williams looked up at her and released a single quiet laugh. “I doubt that’s possible.”

 

Kiki did not get the point of the barb. Instead, her eyes grew large and tinge of desperation colored her expression. “You mean you’ve figured out a way to get us out of here?”

 

Dan did not bother rolling his eyes as he pondered in passing that she was fortunate to have been born so pretty since she’d obviously been shorted on brains. “Grab me that screw driver from that shelf,” he commanded and nodded in the direction of the rickety rack. The reporter complied quickly while Williams rolled onto his knees. Accepting the tool, he wasted no time in inserting it into the most accessible crack he could find. Using the business end of the screw driver as a lever, he nearly cried out in pain, but did not dare stop.

 

“Help me… grab the tile,” Dan ordered through a groan.

 

His companion came around from behind him and slowly dropped to her knees, but, with her hands placed delicately on her upper chest, she hesitated in obeying. “What if there are bugs down there?”

 

Dan would’ve laughed despite the pain it might have caused as he fibbed desperately. “Kiki, there are no bugs! Now grab the tile and help me lift!”

 

Both captives gasped as the unmistakable sound of a large bay door sliding open hit their ears.

 

Rollie must be back!” The detective announced under his breath.

 

The news spurred Kiki into action. She reached down and stuck her fingers into the crack and, with Dan’s help, lifted the large old chunk of flooring until it fell backward. The act left a three-foot-square hole into musty darkness. The detective wasted no time lowering himself into the crawlspace, which was no more than eighteen inches high. He peered into the dark and scanned until he finally caught sight a light about fifty feet away. Quickly standing, he announced with excitement. “There’s a way out – we’ve just got to crawl to the edge of the warehouse, and kick a few boards out. Come on!”

 

With horror and disdain on her face, she gasped, “You don’t expect me to—” 

 

“Yes, I do! It’s this or DIE! Now come on!” The detective whispered loudly as he roughly yanked her toward the opening with his good arm.

She didn’t resist Dan’s tug and, with face twisted in disgust, she joined him in the opening. Once her feet were firmly planted, Williams pushed her head down, and leaned over to grab a couple of the old boxes to camouflage their escape route. Positioning them nearby, the detective clenched his teeth, and collected the tile. Dropping to a seated position onto the dank soil sub-flooring, he gingerly lowered the tile, doing his best to tug the boxes into a good position as he brought the large square back to its original resting place. The act almost did him in physically, but to stop at that moment he knew would mean death for both him and his stupid companion. So he rolled onto his stomach and hissed at Kiki, “C’mon, and be quiet, or we’re dead!” He emphasized the command with a light yank of her arm.

 

Whimpering angrily, she snapped, “We’re in Hell now – how much worse can dead be!”

 

Not bothering to respond, the detective took the lead in the agonizing low crawl, with Chee edging along by his hips. The grime and crawly things were secondary to Williams in light of the pain. Kiki, on the other hand, had little else to distract her – she muttered and made quiet noises of fear and distaste continuously, apparently unaware of the repercussions of being re-captured. They’d made it no more than twenty feet when they heard heavy footsteps on the floor somewhere above them. Seconds later, muffled shouts preceded a crash somewhere above and behind them. Williams pictured the old metal shelf being knocked over by some angry – and probably in-the-dog-house – thug.

 

Kiki gasped in fear, and Dan shushed her as he quietly encouraged her to keep moving. She complied unhappily as she muttered, “You lied! There are bugs!”

 

 

McGarrett dropped onto the corner of his desk in a funk. The act took him deeper into despair when it dawned on him that he’d taken a seat in Williams’ traditional spot. It had been three hours since the camera crew had been found murdered. There were still no signs of his second-in-command or the pretty reporter, who was at fault for this fiasco. Fearing she would pay for her mistake with her life, he could not bring himself at that moment to consider that Danno would pay as well. Ben and Chin were on the streets pushing hard for anything that might offer a clue as to who snatched his friend. Somebody who was willing to kill for information about the Sands case had seen and taken an opportunity. What did they hope to learn from his officer? Sands’ whereabouts? Perhaps, someone was hoping to take control of the kidnap victim? A public kidnapping of a state police officer and a popular – but witless, McGarrett considered bitterly – reporter seemed a none-too-efficient and dangerous tactic.

 

The intercom on his desk chimed and Jenny’s voice announced, “Boss, you gotta call from a Mister Hap Smith on line one.”

 

Hap Smith... Hap Smith… HAP SMITH!! Danno’s informant! McGarrett jumped to his feet and took the call. “This is Steve McGarrett, Hap – where are you?”

 

“Mister McGarrett, I heard what happened .I’m sure sorry – Danny’s a stand up guy and the cupcake he’s with—”

 

The detective interrupted, “Yes, yes, she is – Hap, is there anything you can tell me which will help me discover who grabbed Danny and Miss Chee?”

 

“That’s why I’m callin’. After I picked up a sandwich and a bottle with the money Danny give me, I went to my special spot between these two dumpsters  – it’s a couple blocks away right off the main drag, but private – ya know.”

 

McGarrett quickly acknowledged and pleaded with Hap to get on with the story.

 

“Anyway, I stayed hidden after I heard all the shootin’ – I’m not much good in a gunfight, ya know. Anyway about an hour later, I hear a guy talkin’ to the Chinese man that owns the restaurant right by my dumpsters. He gives him a card, and tells him that he’ll make it worth his while if he calls the number on the card when he spots me.”

 

THIS was potentially useful information! “Hap, are you saying that the restaurant owner has the card of the guy who was looking for you?”

 

“Oh, no – I have it. Mister Ling tossed it into the dumpster as soon as the guy left, but he missed and it landed right smack in my lap – funny, huh!”

 

“Funny and amazing,” McGarrett agreed distractedly. “Read the information to me!”

 

“The man’s name is Rol… Rolland Wilkes. He works for Sands International. It’s got an address down in the warehouse district of the harbor. I used to work down there ya know.”

 

Rolland Wilkes – Sands’ man, the Five-0 chief considered as he collected the rest of the information from the snitch. Before he hung up the phone, he instructed Smith to remain hidden between the dumpsters and that a marked HPD unit would be along to collect him AND the business card for his own safety. Hap agreed and hung up.

 

The lead detective had just re-cradled the phone when Jenny barely tapped on his door and burst into the office. “Steve! Walter Sands is on line two!”

 

Surprised, but now on some level, not so, the Five-0 chief quickly came to his feet and moved to collect the handset as he pushed the correct button. “This is McGarrett, Mister Sands! Where are you?”

 

“Mister McGarrett, I need your protection,” came the thin, shaky voice. “I… I was not kidnapped.”

 

“You faked your own kidnapping – why?” Steve suddenly cancelled the question – there were, after all, more important things that required his focus at the moment. “Never mind! Where are you?”

 

Sands announced that he was registered under an assumed name at the Ala Moana Hotel in Waikiki. “I’m in grave danger.

 

“You’re not the only one, Mister Sands – my second-in-command and a reporter—”

 

I saw – I don’t know how your man’s snitch found out—”

 

The detective opened his mouth to inform the man that in fact the snitch had NOT found out – and for that matter, probably did not have a clue who Walter Sands was. Instead, it struck McGarrett that Sands -- after watching the Live from Hawaii spectacle -- suddenly believed that only the police could resolve the jeopardy in which he found himself. Using this knowledge to his advantage, the Five-0 chief tersely commanded the fugitive to stay where he was.

 

Roughly dropping the phone handset back onto its cradle, Steve left his office at a dead run, calling out to Jenny over his shoulder to say nothing about the call to anyone. His gut told him that his friend’s life depended on this secret being kept.

 

 

 

 

“How did this happen?”

 

The voice was muffled and even harder to hear through Dan’s ringing ears, but it was clear that the man standing directly above the prone couple – still hidden less than a foot from where at least one of their captors stood – was volcanic.

 

“I thought you said the cop was SHOT!!!”

 

“He was, boss… I mean, he is – they could’na gotten far.”

 

“Keep looking! That cop is gonna help us take out Sands!”

 

Another perplexing – and condemning – comment about Walter Sands, the officer noted, now with only marginal interest. It was clear to him that Sands had vanished of his own accord to evade whatever evil forces he’d somehow ticked off. Beyond consciously forming that realization, Williams no longer cared about the Sands case. A new case was on his mind, and he hoped he could prevent the Williams-Chee kidnapping from turning into the Williams-Chee murders.

 

A few seconds of rest was all he could allocate himself – he knew that they would eventually notice that the flooring in the storage room was loose. He patted his crawling companion, who’d wisely grown silent as they elbowed their way along beneath the men who’d tried to kill her only a couple hours earlier. Resuming their progress toward the slivers of light now perhaps twenty feet away, the journey grew all the more unpleasant as their olfactory senses were accosted with the odor of death. Unsurprised that some wretched creature – probably a rat – had crawled under the warehouse to take its final breath, the detective fervently hoped they would not meet up with a live, grieving (or not) relative. Not only was he certain that the prissy Miss Chee would come unglued, he himself was none too fond of rats. He’d come face to face with the rodents (or their representatives {fanfic: SEVENTH SENSE}) on more than one occasion, and never found it to be a pleasant experience.

 

Within seconds of this thought, Dan’s heart jumped into his throat when Kiki squealed as a family of rats scampered casually in front of them as if they were traversing a busy city intersection.

 

Shhhhhhh….” Williams had to drop to his stomach to reach slightly backward with his good right arm, over her back, and around her neck to grab her mouth. He pulled her tight to him, and said nothing as he listened for signs that anyone above had heard the commotion.

 

“Did you hear something?”

 

“Rats – the place is crawlin’ with ‘em. Sands oughta have this place fumigated.”

 

The unsurprising news made Kiki begin squirming anew, but Dan quickly whispered in her ear, “We’re almost home – keep it together just a few more minutes, baby, please.”

 

Her trembling form registered hesitation, and Dan closed his eyes and kissed the side of her head gently. “You’re doing great,-- now let’s get out of here.” The gentle treatment soothed the woman marginally, and she nodded before Dan released his hold on her, and dropped his head to the musty ground for a few seconds before he gathered the energy reserves needed to resume the scramble towards the light.

 

Within a minute, they were at the building’s outer wall. Dan peered out through the largest crack and saw only the side of another warehouse some fifty feet away, but he’d seen enough to know that he was right – they were by Honolulu Harbor. He edged around until his legs touched the weathered boards. Three solid kicks later, the old wood cracked and gave way, making an opening barely wide enough for the detective to slip out. The officer pulled himself out the hole into the blinding light on one elbow, and quickly, through blurring vision, made sure that they were not spotted while he made a token effort of assisting the much healthier female as she clambered from the dank environs.

 

The first words out of her mouth spoke to the depth of her personality. “You look awful!”

 

“And you don’t of course,” Williams deadpanned distractedly as he realized that they were not out of the woods yet.

 

The detective’s thinly-veiled sarcasm was apparently lost on Chee, who ignored the dig as she quickly rose from the ground. Dan started to come to his feet, but had to make an interim stop on one knee while he struggled to bring the pain in his chest under control. With his right hand on the warehouse, he froze as he heard dampened shouts emanating from beneath the building.

 

“Can you see them?”

 

“No, but I see a light over there –I think they’re outside!”

 

The realization that their whereabouts had been discovered emotionally energized Williams, but could not inspire him physically. Looking up into Kiki’s grimy, but still-beautiful face, he snapped, “Help me up!”

 

She obeyed, and grunted softly as she steadied the detective while he came to his feet. Knowing they had a matter of thirty seconds before they would be overtaken, Dan knew he was in no condition to evade angry, armed thugs. His priority – his civilian charge’s safety – was clear. Grabbing her hand in a painfully tight grip to make sure he had her undivided attention, he instructed her in no uncertain terms. “Kiki, they’re coming for us – you’ve got to run as fast as you can – go past that warehouse to the road!” He released his grip on her hand, and pushed her towards the building whereof he spoke. “Get to a phone and call the police!”

 

“What about you?” She backed away from him slowly.

 

He blinked at her again in amazement for the third or fourth time that day. “I’ll catch up – now GO! And whatever you do, don’t let them find you!”

 

She didn’t bother to acknowledge the command – instead she turned and did not look back as she raced off in the direction Dan had pointed. Satisfied that he’d done all he could do for Kiki, the detective knew that – unless the reporter grew wings or got very lucky – perhaps in the form of Steve McGarrett – he was in for a miserable afternoon, probably his last. Since running was out of the question, with only seconds to spare and the line between reality and dreams beginning to grow fuzzy, he opted to return to the seamy underbelly of the warehouse. He slipped to the ground in what became a less-than-controlled landing as his left arm gave way under the torturous sensation bone rubbing against bone in his chest. There was no denying the cry of pain, but he tried valiantly to recover enough to scoot through the nearby opening. He’d made it three quarters of the way in when rough hands grabbed him by his belt, and dragged him summarily from the dank reaches.

 

Promptly flipped onto his back in the sun, like a caught fish dropped from a net onto the deck of a ship, the jolt to his body came with colored flashes of light and excruciating pain. He couldn’t hear himself as he cried out – his ears offered only the noise of the ocean until viciously-delivered words penetrated his audio senses.

 

“I SAID easy, you IDIOT... idiot… idiot…”

 

He slowly opened his eyes and looked up at the four shadowy figures hovering over him.

 

Wer-res-yor-frend-co-op…”

 

Dan frowned as his comprehension seemed to be on a time delay.

 

“I SAID WHERE IS THE BROAD!

 

By the time he understood the thug’s question, it was too late to avoid a kick from the impatient goon. He groaned, but found that someone had a foot on one of his legs, preventing him from curling up.

 

“ANSWER ME!”

 

Slowly, keeping his ribs protected with his left arm, the detective lethargically pointed into the hole in the side of the warehouse. The man’s face was not completely clear, but his teeth became visible, like a Cheshire cat’s as he issued his next command.

 

“Board up this hole! We’ll torch the place as soon as we’re done with our little question-and-answer session with Five-0 here.”

 

Nooo,” Dan breathed, still thinking clearly enough to pretend that Kiki was hiding under the sub-flooring.

 

Suddenly, he was roughly collected and dragged back around into the warehouse. This time, he was not dropped, but placed on his knees. With one brute holding one arm behind his head, and the other holding the other in the same fashion, Williams’ damaged, bloody torso was completely exposed to the large man standing in front of him.

 

“This little game has been fun, but NOW, you’re gonna tell me what I wanna hear. What do you know about Walter Sand’s whereabouts?”

 

Williams slowly repeated, “Walter… Sands…” What could he say? He knew nothing – in fact, he knew less than other members of his team since he’d been sent out with Kiki and her crew while Steve and the guys continued the investigation. This was not a winning situation for him regardless of what he said – They were going to kill him. Would Steve arrive in time to save the day? The likelihood was slim that he could stall long enough – Rollie seemed to be the impatient type.

 

For some reason, the name suddenly rang a bell in Dan’s muddled thoughts. He tried to look up as he spoke.  “You’re… Rolland Wilkes… Sands’ right-hand man…”

 

“Did I forget to introduce myself?” Wilkes asked with exaggerated politeness before his tone turned venomous again. “SO WHAT! Now answer my question! Where is Walter?!?”

 

“Not kidnapped,” Dan intoned.

 

The interrogator took a deep breath and blew it out as if to calm himself. “Okay, we’re making progress – I already KNOW that, but at least it’s information that isn’t public knowledge. He’s dodging some former – shall we say – FRIENDS from Chicago. Now WHAT ELSE do you know?”

 

That was it – that was all Dan knew. He felt himself blacking out again and inhaled to try to keep the oxygen flowing to his brain as long as he could. Well… if it was time to check out, he wanted to maximize the aggravation for his murderers before he went.  

 

“I’ll tell you what I know… I know that any second now, Steve McGarrett… is gonna bust in here, and clean up the floor with you guys!”

 

Rollie growled and raised his fist. “I’LL TELL YOU WHO’S GONNA---”

 

“NO, WILKES – you won’t. None of you even TWITCH, or I’ll put a bullet where you won’t forget it!” McGarrett shouted as he pushed the door all the way open, allowing Ben and Chin to rush forward with weapons trained on the three men.

 

Dan’s eyes widened as he heard his boss’s voice echoing loudly around him. More mouthing the words than saying them, he whispered in relieved amazement, “He made it….” He laughed weakly despite the discomfort which surged as a result.

 

On the heels of Kelly and Kokua, four HPD officers quickly followed. As the suspects were secured,, the head of Five-0 rushed forward to catch his second-in-command and gently lower him to the floor.

 

“Danno! An ambulance is on the way – hang on – you’re gonna be okay.”

 

“Steve…”

 

Dan continued his peaked laugh as McGarrett, not certain whether his friend was coherent, desperately surveyed him for the source of the bleeding.

 

“I’m here, aikane. Help’s on the way,” The Five-0 chief soothed hurriedly.

 

“What timing….” Williams intoned, but the relief was quickly cut short by a stab of pain. Groaning, he let his head drop back onto his mentor’s chest.

 

“Don’t try to talk,” McGarrett commanded softly as he gently settled onto the floor to await the arrival of medical personnel, who, by Steve’s reckoning, would be there within a few minutes.

 

The injured detective disregarded the order. “Steve… Kiki…”

 

“We collected Kiki a couple blocks away – she’s fine.”

 

Williams seemed relieved, but groaned, “Keep her away from me… if you want her to stay that way.”

 

McGarrett half smiled at the emotion – he felt the same way – but more importantly, the anger was an encouraging sign in Steve’s eyes that his friend was not so injured that he could not coherently invest the wrath. “Don’t give Miss Chee another thought, Danno. Just rest.”

 

Again, the instruction was dismissed. “Steve… How…did you find me?”

 

“I’ll fill you in later,” the lead detective persisted in his attempt to quiet his second, but the effort was futile – Danno was determined to have some answers.

 

“No, now…How…”

 

McGarrett sighed. “Okay, okay. Just close your eyes and relax and listen.”

 

The command seemed easily obeyed by the exhausted, injured officer.  The Five-0 chief began with the story of Hap’s call, and then went on to explain the tale that Walter Sands told him over a secure channel on his car radio. The land developer / international businessman faked his own kidnapping as a way to temporarily evade hit men hired by a mob-associated group out of Chicago. Sands, International – his importing company -- began accepting shipments of illegal products (which Sands declined to identify specifically to the head of the state police) from the Orient, which allegedly came to the warehouse complex, where Dan and Kiki had been held, for processing before being shipped to their true buyer in Chicago.

 

As illegal as it was, he’d probably have gotten away with it, EXCEPT for the fact that Rolland Wilkes – the only one in Sands’ organization who knew the entire picture – got greedy, and decided to start playing the ends against the middle. He created false bills of lading, which contained inflated quantities for which the buyer paid. Because part of Sands’ job was to break up the shipments for disbursement to several major cities, the fact that the shipment was short did not come to light immediately. This went on for a number of years until last week, when, through some bookkeeping mechanism, the group in Chicago discovered the treachery, and set out to make an example of Sands, who had, in reality, done nothing in violation of his agreement with the mob. Wilkes offered to help sort out the situation and clear up the misunderstanding, but in the interest of self-preservation, it was his intention to further implicate his boss with the shortages, totaling more than ten million dollars at this point. So, he plotted with Sands, who trusted him completely, to be kidnapped with witnesses. Wilkes magnanimously agreed to serve as the middleman between Chicago and Sands.

 

The wrench in Wilkes’ plan was when Sands, who’d been holed up at some apartment in Kailua, overheard one of Wilkes’ men opining that they should just make it look like the kidnappers murdered Sands and be done with it. Sands immediately realized he’d been had, and so he moved to a hotel and called McGarrett.

 

“I was already on my way to this address just based upon the call from your friend, Hap, but the information from Sands completed the puzzle” Steve breathed as he gently patted his officer’s good arm. “Satisfied, Danno?”

 

Williams’ eyes fluttered as he moaned softly. “Hmmm, what… how?”

 

McGarrett’s lips curled into a crooked smile even as he frowned – it was clear the explanation had been wasted. “Never mind – the important thing is that you’re safe.”

 

The lead detective was relieved to see the ambulance attendants appear in the doorway and immediately move to get Williams onto their gurney.

 

“Mahalo, Steve… timing... good timing…” The injured detective mumbled. He cried out as he was lifted and positioned on the mobile bed, but grew silent a little too quickly for McGarrett’s taste.

 

“Danno?” He called softly as he strode beside the gurney. When no answer was forthcoming, he called again, but still received no satisfaction.

 

“He’s out,” the senior attendant informed the detective. “And from the shape of his ribs, it’s probably for the best.

 

 

 

 

“Danno, do you think you’ll be feeling up to filling in for me at the budget meeting tomorrow morning?” McGarrett dropped a folder into Jenny’s IN box as he studied his second-in-command, who’d been sitting at his own desk for the better part of the morning pouring over the stack of paperwork which had accumulated during his convalescent leave. Other than the fact that his left arm remained in a sling to stabilize his still healing ribs, Williams looked the picture of health. Rested and more tan than usual because of all the beach time over the past week, Dan was halfway through his first day back to work. He was resigned to strictly administrative duties until his broken bones were mended and Doctor Bergman cleared him for fieldwork.

 

During his examination of Williams after the dramatic rescue, Five-0’s official physician was surprised to find that the bullet which had caused all the bleeding had actually struck Dan’s badge, broken his ribs, and streaked along his left side, leaving a deep skid before it passed out of the detective at the crime scene. After Bergman explained the round’s trajectory, he’d remarked how lucky the officer had been. A cranky and unwell Williams mumbled that the doctor would not be so quick to pronounce his good fortune if he knew what being imprisoned with Kiki Chee was like.

 

False rumors raced along the coconut wireless and less-reputable gossip-related media about the gorgeous reporter’s kidnapping and the romance which had budded between her co-victim and protector. Dan made no public comment to refute or confirm any of the stories. As a matter of fact, Williams – the other Five-0 detectives had noticed this morning – was pointedly NOT interested in discussing what had transpired at all. The obligatory, neutral, tiredly-delivered report from his hospital bed was all the information the detective had provided.

 

In accordance with McGarrett’s policy of not commenting on the irrelevant or personal issues pertaining to his men, the Five-0 office had issued only a terse statement of the facts, which contained no official mention of what sparked the crime, despite his private desire to publicly blast the reporter and the intrusive program concept in general.

 

Dan rose from his desk, still holding the document he was reviewing, and flashed a smile at his boss. “I guess it’s too late to plead a relapse, huh.”

 

Steve grinned at his friend’s sideways acceptance of the assignment, which neither of the two detectives enjoyed. “Yeah, Danno – I’d say it is.”

 

Jenny chimed in with a cautionary stare at the recuperating detective. “As long as we can keep you out of trouble AT LEAST until your ribs are healed.”

 

The lead detective opened his mouth to reinforce the edict that his second-in-command would remain restricted to only benign administrative tasks until cleared by Bergman, but Ben’s voice rejoined first. “Jenny, now you KNOW Danny don’t need to be on duty to get into trouble!”

 

“AND you know it don’t matter where he is either!” This time the remark came from Chin, who’d stepped out of his office to join in the teasing session.

 

Five-0’s youngest detective smirked at the admittedly somewhat accurate observations of his colleagues, but did not have an opportunity to offer any defense before the outer door opened. The Five-0 staff all exchanged brief glances of surprise as Kiki Chee breezed into the office, and strolled down the aisle toward the secretary’s desk, where everyone was now congregated.

 

She nodded at everyone, but received no welcoming response of any sort – this was – in their minds – the fool whose actions had cost the lives of two people and nearly the life of one of their ohana. The petite figure, looking stunning in a teal sarong with matching sandals and purse, stopped a few feet from the group.

 

“Danny, may I have a word with you?” It was the first time Williams had seen her since the day they’d been snatched, and he’d expected that the sight of her would re-ignite his anger with her, but it did not. Her voice was sweet and alluring, and, after a brief hesitation, he warily stepped towards her, now feeling somewhat annoyed with himself for being unable to maintain a level of rage solely on the grounds of this female’s physical appeal.

 

“Kiki… what brings you to the Palace sans camera crew?” The officer inquired, hoping that at least a measure of coolness came through.

 

When it became apparent that nobody, including Dan, was making any move to allow for a private conversation, she shrugged slightly and continued. “I just wanted to let you know that I forgive you.”

 

Williams’ eye brows shot up. “FORGIVE me? For what?”

 

“For lying to me and hinting that you thought I was dumb and for losing my favorite pair of Antonio Balducci pumps and tearing my dress…”

 

Dan studied her, completely uncertain whether she was serious. He heard a subdued scoff from someone behind him – Jenny he suspected. He’d been so very angry with the reporter as he recuperated in the hospital, but by the time he was discharged, he’d grown somewhat philosophical about it, unlike Steve, who remained seething about Chee’s role in the fiasco. Finally, he responded neutrally, “What a relief. Thank you for forgiving me. Anything else?”

 

She smiled slightly. “Danny, I’m trying to thank you for saving my life, and… well, I want you to know that if you’re interested in taking me to dinner… or something… sometime, I won’t say no.”

 

A sad sigh capped the crooked half smile which slipped onto Dan’s face as he took a step forward and took Chee’s hand. “You know, Kiki, you are without a doubt one of the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.” He looked down for a moment before he returned his focus to the bottomless dark eyes. “But it depresses me to say that this is not enough.”

 

The woman’s eyes grew large for a few moments before the realization that she was being shut down registered on her features. “Are you saying you’re not interested?”

 

Williams sighed again, and nodded slightly as he released her hand. “Yes.”

 

Her voluptuous lower lip popped out in a slight pout. “I thought you liked Kiki.”

 

The detective’s expression grew a little distant, and his tone seemed to hold no emotion as he admitted, “It turns out the only thing I like about Kiki is how she looks.”

 

It was clear that Kiki Chee was unaccustomed to rejection, but she recovered quickly. With a carefree shrug, she turned away from the group. “Your loss, Detective. See ya.”

 

As the door wafted shut behind the reporter, Dan broke the silence. “I hope not.”

 

Williams turned slowly to see the pleased expressions of everyone who witnessed the exchange. “What? You think I’m too shallow to decline a proposition by…” His countenance revealed that he was only half joking as he finished the thought. “An incredibly gorgeous woman… Why do I feel like kicking myself?”

 

McGarrett smiled gently and stepped to the forefront of the group who crowded around Williams with supportive pats. “Trust me when I tell you that that’s normal, Danno.”

 

A half smile finally slipped onto Dan’s face as he returned, “I hope you don’t think that makes me feel better.”

 

“Well, I’m proud of you!” Jenny announced as she gingerly hugged him. “You deserve better than her.”

 

Chin and Ben both chimed in with their concurrence before they made their way back to their offices.

 

As Dan took one last look at the door through which Kiki Chee disappeared, Steve placed a gentle hand on his second’s shoulder. “I might not be quite as interesting to look at as Miss Chee, but I’m willing to have dinner with you tonight – my treat.”

 

The offer elicited a light chuckle from Williams. “I guess I’m willing to forego staring at you if you’re buying!”

 

 

“Where are these warning fortune cookies when you need them?” Dan remarked as he read the slip of paper to the man across the table from him. “Trouble may come in pretty package.”

 

McGarrett grinned. “And a pretty package it was, Danno.” The lead detective looked up from the fortune cookie he’d just broken in half to assess for himself his friend’s condition. It had been a long first day back for the convalescing detective, and he was tired – there was no doubt in Steve’s mind. “This is your last chance to back out of the budget meeting tomorrow, Danno,”

 

Williams quietly thanked the waiter who’d just re-filled his tea cup before he responded. “I thought you said it was my last chance when we left the Palace.”

 

“I’m just trying to honor my fortune,” the Five-0 chief smirked and tossed the little slip of paper to his friend’s side of the table.

 

Treat prized friends like finest silk.

 

Dan stared at the words for several seconds before his eyes met with his mentor’s in a silent, mutual confirmation of their importance to each other. The two men nodded almost imperceptibly at each other, and looked out in tandem from the lanai table at the striking view of the bay and twinkling lights on the land beyond. The events with Kiki Chee had certainly underscored the priceless nature of deep friendship.

 

 

PAU

 

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