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Hawaii Five-O: Implosion (3/4)

Title: Implosion (3/4)
Series: Hawaii Five-O
Pairing: None
Rating: PG-13
Notes: Beta'd by the fabulous frauleinfrog, who for some reason continues to stick by me as I descend into tinier and tinier fandoms.

Summary: Danny's apparent death leaves Five-O struggling to solve the murder without falling to pieces. Because every fandom needs a crazy stalker fic.

Prologue
Chapter 1
Chapter 2


Steve sleeps in the office, rising from the couch at dawn to make himself coffee. Although he assumes the rest of Five-O has arrived as usual, he has no proof of it until he ventures out around half-past nine to pick up his sorted mail and messages from Jenny. Danno used to bring them into their daily 9:00 meeting, and clearly Jenny is too swamped to have adjusted. She’s on the phone when he comes out, and indicates the pile with an apologetic wave of her pen, without interrupting the flow of her conversation. “No, sir. No. No, Mr. McGarrett has no further comments at this time. Any releases relating to the Williams case will be made in open statements. No. Good morning.” She glares at the phone as she slams it back into its cradle. “Vultures.”

Steve glances into the two occupied cubicles as he flips through the mail. Chin is reading through a sheaf of files and taking notes; Ben is on the phone. The knots in his shoulders ease slightly; for the moment, at least, work is managing to continue. Steve heads for his office and is closing the door behind him when he hears a child say, “I want to see Mr. McGarrett.”

It’s less his name than the tone – loud, bored and completely unimpressed by the fact he is in the head office of the state police – that makes Steve turn. A small Hawaiian boy is standing in front of Jenny’s desk, looking like he owns the place. Steve smiles slightly, and comes back to interrupt Jenny’s questions.

“Yeah, son?”

The boy looks up at him, hands on his hips. “You McGarrett?”

“That’s right.”

“I got a message for you. Some lolo guy told me to see you. Said you’d give me five bucks,” he adds, crossing his arms.

Steve raises his eyebrows. “Oh yeah? What’s the message.”

“He said to tell you he needs help. Says his name is Williams.”

Every sound in the room is abruptly highlighted by its silence. The clicking of Jenny’s typewriter, the scratching of Chin’s pen, Ben’s low voice on the telephone – they all cut out at the words. The office is suddenly absolutely still.

“What did you say?” To his ears his tone sounds cold, frozen, a voice without a heart. But he knows enough to know that right now the world inside his head and the one outside are not on a 1 to 1 scale.

“The guy said his name’s Williams, and to tell you he needs help. He said he’s a cop. And he said he’d give me five bucks.” The kid sticks out his open hand expectantly for his reward. And Steve sees red.

Quick as a snake he strikes, grabs the boy’s arm and pulls him close. “Who told you that? Who told you to tell me that? You tell me where he is. Where?”

Behind him, Jenny’s caught hold of his arm and is trying to pull him back. But she’s hampered by her desk and is no weight at all even without it in the way. In his grip, the kid is squirming, face tight and twisted.

“Let go – I told you, some lolo guy – a haole. In one of the cheap dives down off Middle. Let go of me!”

“Who was he?!”

“Steve, let go of the kid! Steve!” Jenny’s run round the desk to the boy’s side now, and is trying to pull his hand away.

“I don’t know! I told you, just some lolo haole! You’re hurting me!”

Chin hurries over to help, and Steve lets the kid go. He stumbles back, holding his wrist and glaring. “You’re all lolo, man! I’m outta here.”

He makes to leave, still holding his wrist. And Steve finally notices what’s been right in front of him. “Stop him,” he says, more to himself than anyone else. No one moves, and the kid slips around the outer desk. “Stop him!” bellows Steve, and now Ben steps forward almost reluctantly to close the door in front of the boy.

The office seems very far away, compared to the black storm of thoughts whipping savagely through his mind. Steve takes a deep breath and forces himself to stay calm, to remain exactly where he is. Everyone in the room is staring at him, but only one thing matters.

“Where did you get that watch, son?” Kindliness is far out of his reach, but he manages an even tone. The kid shrinks away, back towards the door, and glares at Steve with dark eyes.

“He gave it to me. Didn’t have any bread. Said I could sell it. He did!”

Behind him, the phone is ringing. Steve hears Jenny answer it without really listening, hears her try to disengage from the caller – “Now’s not – not a good time. Could you call back later?”

“What did he look like?” barks Steve, ignoring his secretary.

“Dunno – it was too dark in the room. And the hole in the window was tiny, like a rat hole.”

“You couldn’t see him through the glass?” interrupts Chin, speaking for the first time. The boy glances at him disdainfully.

“No – it was all covered up on the inside. Like I said – crazy.”

“Steve?” Jenny’s voice is querulous; when he turns to look at her he sees she’s leaning away, phone held against her chest with both hands. “It’s Dr. Bergman. He says it’s absolutely urgent, can’t wait.” She’s almost whispering – afraid, he recognises. The realisation – that right now, every person in this room is afraid of him and what he might do, is like an injection of ice water straight into his heart. He relaxes his hands and straightens from his tense stoop.

“Okay, honey.” He reaches out a calm hand and takes the phone from his secretary. “Can it wait, Doc? I’m in the middle of something.”

“Never mind that,” comes Bergman’s drawl from the other end of the line. It’s as close to excited as the ME has ever sounded. “Steve, I just got the body from forensics this morning – I’ll have to speak to Che, the delay is really unconscionable. The interference with –”

“Doc,” Steve interrupts what he knows could quickly turn into a rant, his throat suddenly tight.

“Right, right. Like I was saying. I got the body, and started off checking for cause of death, although why I bothered I can’t tell you –”

“Doc!” Steve’s bloodhound-like focus is legendary, but it betrays him now, refuses to be shifted onto something – anything – other than that charred corpse in the morgue. He closes his eyes to stop the room spinning, and contemplates hanging up right now.

“Sorry, Steve.” Bergman actually sounds contrite – another first. “But listen. Doing the tests, I had to check the throat and mouth. And Steve, this guy’s teeth were a mess. I mean seriously destroyed.”

For one unbearable instant, all Steve can think is that someone did this to Danny. That someone wasn’t content with killing him in this horrific way, that they had to make him suffer first. There’s a roaring in his head, the serrated hole in his heart splitting open to tear into him, white-hot fissures ripping through his chest. He hardly hears Bergman’s rambling in the background.

“ – see, Steve? It would have taken decades of serious neglect and even abuse to cause this kind of damage. No hygiene, and most likely heavy smoking and alcohol – although from the looks of these teeth paint thinner would be closer to the mark. I don’t even have to look at Danny’s dental records; that boy has perfect teeth. This isn’t him, Steve.”

Steve opens his eyes. The howling in his head dials back a notch. “What?

“This isn’t him,” repeats Bergman, triumphantly. “There’s no way the corpse on this table is Danny Williams.”

The world falls away for a few minutes, as if all the strings holding him to it were sheered away. At some point, Steve realises he’s sitting at Jenny’s desk with the phone back in its cradle – how he got there, he has no idea. Jenny’s saying something to him; at his desk, Chin’s on the phone to Bergman. Steve stands, fending off Jenny’s hand on his arm, and for the first time in a day and a half takes control.

“You said you saw him in a dive off Middle?” he asks the boy, now staring at him with undisguised scepticism.

“Sure.”

“You know the address?”

“Nope.”

“Could you find it again?”

The kid gives him a long look; when he answers, it’s clear he’s not sure of his own price. “What’s it worth to you?”

“Williams gave you the watch, and said I’d give you five?”

“That’s right.” He’s still holding the watch, as if afraid Steve will try to snatch it from him. Maybe not an unreasonable fear, given what he’s seen so far this morning.

“You take us to him, and give me the watch, and I’ll give you fifteen.” To prove it, he pulls his wallet out and strips the bills out – crisp fives. The boy hesitates, and Steve holds them out. “The watch is only worth five at best – the gears are going.”

“Okay, deal. But I ain’t going alone with you.”

“Fine.” He heads for the door, delegating as he goes by. “Chin, you come with us. Ben, take your car. Put a call out to HPD and get us some back-up; have them pick us up on the Lunalilo at the Halona ramp.”

“Got it.”

Steve pauses at the door and looks back to Ben, already picking up the phone. “And Ben? You tell them – you tell them if Danny Williams is there, I want him out.” He doesn’t have to say anything more, his tone conveys enough – more than enough. Ben nods tersely, and dials.

Danno may still be alive. Just thinking the words softens the painful tightness in his chest. He yanks the door open, and runs down the stairs with Chin and the kid in tow. They’ve already lost 36 hours. They’re not going to lose any more.

----------------------------------------------------------

It’s one of the tensest car rides Chin has ever taken. Steve, not the smoothest driver at the best of times, jerks the LTD through tight corners with a white-knuckled grip. In the back, Lani, the boy who had the bad luck to be introduced to Five-O in its worst moment, pipes up every now and then with a turn suggestion but mostly stares uneasily out the window. Chin, coordinating the HPD back-up cars over the CB, finds that the job still leaves him far too much time to think. And there’s only one thought anchored in his mind: what if they’re too late? Can they stand to lose Danny a second time?

Glancing at Steve’s face, grey and lined even in the morning sun, Chin knows the answer.

Behind them, three HPD cruisers follow in silence – there will be no warning of their approach. The radio, on the other hand, is anything but quiet. It bursts into life every few minutes, crowded with tense chatter – even the operators are following the case, it seems, and have eased off the usual regulations enforcement.

Mercifully, a few minutes after pulling off the highway, Lani points out a dirty two-storey stucco building on the corner of an alley. “There, that’s it. He was in the first window on the left, on the alley side.”

“You know who lives there?” asks Steve, staring at the building as they pass by it slowly.

“Nope.”

“Alright. Chin, get HPD parked out of sight.” He pulls over on the opposite side of the street and parks. As Chin relays the instructions to their back-up, Steve turns to lean into the back.

“Thanks, kid. You did good.” He hands over the bills, and receives Danny’s watch in return. “Sorry I was sharp with you.”

“That’s really a cop in there?” Maybe it’s the money, or the radio calls, or the three squad cars behind them. For whatever reason, Lani seems finally to have realised the seriousness of his story.

“I hope so. If it is, you may have saved his life.”

The boy folds away the money slowly. “Huh. Then good luck, I guess.” He opens the sidewalk-side door and slips out; he’s scrambled away into one of the deep shadows between the buildings before there’s time to reply. Chin has no doubt that he’s watching, wherever he is.

Steve turns to Chin. “Take three men and cover the alley. Find the window and go in that way if you can.”

Chin nods. “Right, boss.” He opens the door.

“And Chin?” Steve’s checking the shells in his sidearm. He swings the cylinder back into the body of the revolver with a click and looks up at Chin. His eyes are burning with the same barely-contained rage Chin saw in the parking lot and Steve’s office after Ben’s tussle – the kind of rage that’s one tiny push from murder. “Don’t let any of them get away.”

Chin nods again – there’s nothing he can say.

He slips out of the car and hurries around to the pavement to wait for the uniforms. They show up only a few seconds later, cars parked further down the road out of the line of sight. Steve takes three across the street immediately, coming in towards the building from the left; Ben tears up alongside the pavement a few seconds later and follows after them. Chin waits for the rest and then takes them over towards the other side of the building.

“We watch the alley. No one gets out. You see Williams, you pull him wikiwiki.”

“We got Ben’s message,” says one of the cops seriously; the others nod in agreement.

“Good. Williams was supposedly seen in the first window on the left. We check it – if he’s there, Paul and I’ll go in after him.” Chin signals to the cop who spoke up, who nods. “If not, we let Steve sweep the place and make sure none of the rats get out of the holes.”

Chin’s radio crackles, and Steve’s voice comes over. “We’re moving in. Chin, go.”

“Got it.”

The cops don’t wait for orders; they slip into the alleyway, bent low. One waits at the mouth while the other runs down to the other end of the house; Paul runs over to the building beside him and they crouch under the window. Like the boy said, there’s what looks like a sheet of plastic or frosted glass inside the window, making most of it impenetrable. But the glass in one corner has been broken as if by a baseball, as has the plastic. Chin peers into the darkness, waiting impatiently for his eyes to adjust but seeing no signs of movement in the dimness. Then, as his eyes adjust, a shadow moves across a ray of light. He tightens his grip on his revolver, but an instant later a ceiling light is switched on to reveal Ben standing in the doorway of a small room.

“Clear,” he says to someone in the house, and then turns to the window. “There’s no one here.”

“No one out here, either,” replies Chin, turning away from the building as his adrenaline turns to burning disappointment.

“Sir, there’s something over here,” hails the man sent down to watch the other end of the alley. There’s a blue dumpster there, which from the looks of the rust set in around its wheels hasn’t been emptied for some time. Chin jogs over, accompanied by Paul. The officer points to the other side of the dumpster. Using the dumpster and fence acting as two steady walls, a makeshift hovel has been constructed with some piping forming the skeleton of a third wall to allow a tarpaulin to be drawn over it into a sagging roof. The bottom has been lined with cardboard, and contains a few scraps of fabric and some empty bottles.

“Wino,” concludes Paul. “Might have seen something, though, if we can find him.”

Chin nods. “Start canvassing the neighbourhood. Look for him, and anyone else who might’ve seen anything. Start on the north side of the street and this alley – I’ll send the other guys out to do the other sides.”

“Got it.”

Chin hurries inside to send the rest of the uniforms out, but is stopped dead by the look on Ben’s face. The other Five-O detective is standing staring at one wall of a combined kitchen-dining room. Beside the table, still set for breakfast with a cup of coffee beside the dirty plate, one wall has been covered with pinned up pieces of paper. Chin comes over to see what’s on them, and feels the hairs on the back of his neck rise.

The entire wall is covered with pictures of Danny Williams. None of them have been taken by a personal camera – each one has been cut carefully from a magazine or newspaper. The span of papers covered – all the Hawaiian papers plus a few mainland ones, and a wide scope of local and national magazines – and the varying ages of the article suggests either a very long surveillance, or very deep research. Almost more disturbing, though, is the treatment of Steve. Anytime Danny has appeared with someone else, their heads have been blacked out by marker, with the exception of Steve. In every single picture he appears in, the head of Five-O has had his eyes scratched out. Chin runs his fingers over one of the mutilated pictures, and finds that the grooves extend to the wall below.

“This guy is nuts,” whispers Ben, shaking his head. Chin’s about to agree when Steve calls shortly from the other room.

“Here.”

From the inside, the room seems slightly bigger. The hole in the window is immediately noticeable, but that may just be because he’s looking for it. It’s not what Steve’s looking at, though, and Chin turns his attention to the side wall. Behind him, Ben comes in and curses under his breath.

Someone’s driven a heavy metal pin into the wall, effectively nailing a long metal chain into it. A mattress has been placed under it, forming a messy and unmade bed. The chain has been pulled in a reasonably straight line towards the window; its end lies in a little heap of links. Beside it on the dirty linoleum floor are drops of what looks very much like blood.

“Ben,” says Steve, without looking up, “run the address – I want to know who lives here.”

Ben doesn’t bother to answer, just runs out.

“Chin. The alley?”

“No one tried to get out. There was a hovel out there – probably some wino. He might give us some clues when he turns up. The uniforms are doing a door-to-door; I was about to send the rest out to help. Maybe a couple can check for the bum.”

“They won’t find him,” says Steve. He looks up; his face is cold and hard as stone. “Bergman said the corpse in that car had the kind of teeth you’d expect from a heavy smoker and drinker. How many drunks do you know who’re out of their beds at ten on a Sunday?”

He turns and walks out into the kitchen, where he glances at the photos on the wall and turns away. Chin takes the opportunity to order the other three HPD officers out to canvas the other sides of the neighbourhood, concentrating on neighbours rather than tracking down the missing alley inhabitant. They’re just leaving when something lying crumpled on the seat of the second chair catches Steve’s eye. He bends and picks it up, holds it up in front of him. It’s an olive-green suit jacket with matching silver and green checked tie.

“He killed the wino to fake Danny’s death, and brought him here. Why? And where are they now?” He puts Danny’s watch into the pocket of the jacket and folds it easily over his arm. He’s just turning to go to the bedroom when Ben runs in.

“Ran a reverse DMV license check. There were two drivers registered at this address – Matthew and Hank Lowe. Matthew Lowe’s license was cancelled six months ago by his death – Jenny’s running a deeper search.”

The names strike a chord with Chin; judging by the frown on Steve’s face, he’s not alone.

“Matthew Lowe… Matthew Lowe… that crash up near Diamond Head!” As soon as Steve says it, Chin remembers.

“Right, the ambulance accident. It was just before you joined Five-O, Ben. The driver was hopped up on morphine, went right over the edge. He and the woman he was driving both died.”

Ben frowns. “Where was his partner?”

“Lowe took off without him when the call came in – like I said, he was really tripping. His kid brother took it hard. Wouldn’t believe it, although there was a lot of anecdotal evidence from his coworkers, and then when the blood work came back…”

“His pals all knew about it, or at least didn’t ask. They said he never shot up while he was on duty, so they looked the other way,” says Steve. “They thought he had it hard – the brother was a bit of a head case, and Matthew gave up on med school to raise him after their parents died. One way or another he was still looking out for the kid – they were living together when he died.”

“But what does this have to do with Danny?” asks Ben. “Why was Five-O involved in an accident in the first place?”

“The woman who died was a possible informant in another case. There was a possibility that her death might have been a hit.” Steve turns to look at the disturbing wall again. “But Danny…”

“Danny was his first point of contact,” remembers Chin. “He interviewed the kid.”

Steve shrugs. “We both did. I guess Danny was softer with him. I suggested drug use, and that didn’t go over well at all. Danny said we wouldn’t know for sure until the tests came in, that it might be something else – slippery roads, brake failure. Something like that. And he might’ve gotten him a coffee, or something to eat. But that was it.” Steve shakes his head and pounds his fist into his open hand. “How can that be it?”

Ben steps over to the kitchen and starts going through the drawers. Chin checks the sideboard, and then goes over to the table. It’s only laid for one – Danny must’ve eaten in the bedroom. If he ate at all.

“Hey,” says Ben softly; they turn to see him holding up a small metal case. He opens it to reveal three small glass vials. “Morphine. Looks like Hank kept some of his brother’s stash. Or at least he did for a while – they’re all empty. Was he a junkie too?”

Chin frowns, trying to remember. “No sign of it that I recall. We searched the house when the blood work came back. Found nothing. He must’ve had that stuff good and hidden.” He picks up the coffee cup by its handle; it’s half full, dark liquid slopping against the side. Chin sticks his thumb into it, and looks up sharply.

“Steve – it’s still warm.”

“They just left.” Steve looks from him to the wall of photos, to the bedroom. “They just left. Why?” He steps over to the photos. “He hates me – eyes mutilated, gouged out. Everyone else is blacked out too. Danno’s the centre, unaltered. He didn’t take him to kill him – he could have killed him in the parking lot. He’s engineered this whole thing so we won’t look for Danno, so he could have him without anyone knowing. Why?”

“He’s nuts – who says there’s a reason?” asks Ben, and flinches as Steve rounds on him.

“No one – not even someone seriously disturbed – goes to this amount of trouble without a goal!” He gestures at the wall. “We know he doesn’t want to kill Danno. Does he want to get information out of him? No – the only connection between them is his brother, and he must know more about his brother than Danno does. Does he want money – no, he wouldn’t fake the death.”

Chin is only listening with half an ear. He’s staring at the pictures on the wall, trying to make sense out of them, trying to draw some kind of connection between them. There doesn’t seem to be one, though – they’re just random photos of Danny as they appeared in any news story that related to him. There’s one of him taken from a story commending him, and beside it another taken from a story criticising him for being trigger-happy. But at the top of the wall, one picture that has been squeezed in the middle stands out. “Steve,” says Chin, and points.

It’s a real photograph, not a reproduction out of a paper or magazine. It shows two men who Chin couldn’t claim to recognize but vaguely thinks might be the Lowe brothers. And, carefully glued beside the younger one, is a picture of Danny cut out of some other photograph. “Him and his brother, I guess.”

“And Danny,” says Ben, squinting. “But what –”

He doesn’t have time to finish, because Steve shoves past both of them towards the door. “Steve, what –”

Steve stops in the doorway, eyes burning. “He’s replacing his brother with Danno, right?”

“Well, maybe, but –”

“And where did his brother end up?”

Chin opens his mouth to answer, but Steve’s already gone.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
frauleinfrog
Jul. 5th, 2011 03:44 am (UTC)
Eeee, yay~

In other news: who for some reason continues to stick by me as I descend into tinier and tinier fandoms. <--it's because I luuuurve you. XD
what_we_dream
Jul. 5th, 2011 04:24 am (UTC)
:DDD

And, I suppose, you have probably dragged me into an equal number of fandoms. XD

Also, happy July 4th. I realised after I signed off yesterday that of course yesterday was July 4th for you. But it wasn't for me. ^^
frauleinfrog
Jul. 5th, 2011 04:38 am (UTC)
:D

Well. I don't think that's true. :p

Thank you! I understand- it's hard to keep track of those of us who live in the future. :D
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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