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Hawaii Five-O: Implosion (4/4 + e)

Title: Implosion (4/4 + e)
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
Chapter 3


Even with the windows rolled down and the speedometer needle touching 80, Steve feels unbearably hot, almost feverish. Everything seems to be aching – his head, his muscles, his bones – as he pushes the accelerator pedal closer and closer to the floor. The siren is blaring away overhead, slicing away the already thin midday freeway traffic and leaving his route unimpeded; the sound of it is making his skull split.

He has no reason to think Lowe’s at Diamond Head, other than his gut feeling. If Lowe really is moulding Danno into a replacement for his brother, there could be no rational reason to harm him. But there was no trace of rationality in that apartment – not in the pictures on the wall, and not in the bloody chain in the bedroom. And his gut has kept him alive through a long career of intentionally leaping headlong into danger. Steve knows it’s not wrong now.

Somewhere behind him, Chin is on the radio requesting back-up at Diamond Head. But although it’s on the other side of Honolulu from Lowe’s apartment, Steve’s already more than halfway there and still slipping through the miles like a surfer over waves. There’s no point in getting the uniforms downtown to hold up traffic along his route – he’ll be through before they get into position.

Diamond Head Road runs along the slope of the huge volcanic cone, between the apex and the sea. Both sides of the road are sheer, the cone-side rising sharply up towards the circular mouth and the ocean-side giving way straight down onto the island’s rocky edge. Matthew Lowe’s ambulance went over the edge at the road’s steepest point, beside an enlarged gravel shoulder acting as a scenic stop; the investigation suggested he might have tried to pull over to stop there and accelerated instead.

The cone of Diamond Head is a tourist destination, but the steep ocean drop is not – there are far more beautiful and stunning scenes to be found on Oahu. That, added to the grey sky above, makes Steve confident there will be no tourists on the pull-off. And, as he rounds the corner, he finds he’s right.

There’s only one car parked on the expanded gravel shoulder, a battered old Ford. The back driver’s side door is wide open, casting a slice of dim shadow on the stones below. That’s all he has time to notice, because it’s then that his eye catches the two men making their way to the edge of the open scenic spot.

Steve recognizes Hank Lowe solely because he’s expecting to see him. He only met the man twice during the investigation into his brother’s death, both meetings lasting less than ten minutes. Even without knowing him, though, Steve can see the man is on the verge of a breakdown. Sweat has turned his shaggy hair into a mess of rat tails and given his pale face a waxy look. His movements as he drags his captive towards the edge of the precipice are spasmodic, and he’s muttering to himself.

Steve slams on the breaks and nearly skids into the barrier; suddenly, he has no more attention to spare for driving. No more attention for anything other than the second man on the shoulder.

Danny Williams is there. Right there in front of him. Alive and breathing.

Somehow, he had expected finding Danno to cool the heat in his head. Expected relief to douse the firestorm. But as he scrambles out of his car, it blazes up so intensely the edges of his vision white out, and sound disappears to be replaced by the roaring of his racing heartbeat.

He didn’t calculate seeing this.

Danno is on his feet, but only nominally – behind him Lowe is holding him up. His hands are cuffed in front of him, wrists red with wet blood that has smeared onto his white shirt; there’s also a long, thin smear of blood on his left bicep. His head is lolling backwards, nodding with each step he’s forced to take. Lowe is dragging him backwards with sharp jerks as though he were a life-sized dummy, with most of Danno’s weight resting against him.

A screaming mix of sirens announces the imminent arrival of back-up; Steve ignores them entirely.

“Danno!” Danno doesn’t react, clearly most of the way down the well of unconsciousness. “Danno!” Steve puts down an arm to boost himself over the corner of the parked Ford, skidding around the hood in a slew of gravel. “Danno!” This time, the younger detective’s head moves of its own accord as he tries to raise it.

The sirens cut out and tires screech behind Steve on the edge of the asphalt, doors slamming open and feet pounding. In front of him, Lowe has stopped under two yards from the steel barrier at the very edge of the shoulder. He’s panting hard under the burden, sweat staining his shirt. Danno’s not very tall but he’s well built, and Lowe doesn’t look like any kind of athlete. As Steve watches Lowe judders as his knees start to buckle, and then drops abruptly to one knee, holding Danno up with an arm hooked under each of the detective’s. Danno tries weakly to twist out of his grip, but Lowe holds him tight, crushing his chest until Danno drops back against him.

There’s no conscious decision on Steve’s part. His gun is just suddenly in his hand, aimed straight at Lowe’s head. And the fury that has been burning him alive for a day and a half pours out of him in a snarl so thick he can barely make sense of the words himself. “Lowe, you son of a bitch, let him go! LOWE!”

Lowe, still struggling to get back to his feet, tries to yank Danno up by hooking an arm around his throat and pulling. Steve starts forward, rage and terror splintering in his chest, “Lowe – let him go, let him go now or so help me –”

He’s cocked the revolver without thinking about it, without thinking about anything. He knows it’s wrong, knows it’s the absolute wrong, but that knowledge is screaming at him from the other side of a void with no bridge to carry it to him, because he is not going to stand here and watch this bastard try to kill Danno again. He takes another step, and from behind someone grabs him and yanks him backwards.

Steve tries to pull away once, hard, and when the grip doesn’t give he swivels with his heartbeat pounding like a hammer in his head, ready to tear whoever it is to pieces for stopping him when Danno is right there needing help.

Chin and Ben are standing behind him, shoulders high and bodies hunched as if leaning into a storm, faces set in masks that don’t quite hide their fear. It’s enough – barely – to keep Steve from striking out at them, from ordering them back, from breaking free forcefully and doing what his heart is driving him to.

“Boss,” says Chin, looking up at him and speaking deliberately, “he ain’t armed. And he ain’t in his right mind, either.”

“He’s killed one man already. You are standing right here watching him trying again. With Danno.”

“So you’ll kill him? There’s no imminent danger, Steve. You think you can get away with that? You’re right – you can. You’re the only cop on the islands who could. But once you do, so can the rest of us. You made us stronger than we ever were. And you can break us.” He lets go, and seems to shrink slightly, from boldness to quiet honesty. “I don’t wanna see that, Steve.”

Steve doesn’t say anything. On Chin’s other side, still holding his arm, Ben shifts and Steve turns his attention to him. Ben lets go, but doesn’t back away. “I don’t figure this is how Danny’d want you to bring him in.”

Steve looks at him, hard, looking for an admission of hypocrisy. To his credit Ben doesn’t flinch although he does give a minute shrug, which may be acceptance of his ethical about-face.

“I figure, my eyes, maybe they aren’t so clear. But I do know beyond doubt that in Danny’s, you can’t do wrong, Steve. You gonna let him down?”

Behind him, there’s a scuffle in the gravel. Steve turns, seeing as he does that the four uniforms have spread themselves into a semi-circle around Lowe, giving him several yards of room.

In the centre of it, Lowe’s released Danno’s neck but is trying to pull him to sit up. Danno, lying on his back, doesn’t have much purchase. His feet have scraped two furrows in the gravel, but he isn’t coherent enough to support himself with so much of his weight resting on Lowe and he slumps back down, effectively anchoring Lowe to the ground.

“It’s over, Lowe,” he says, very aware of Chin and Ben behind him as he lowers his gun. “You can’t get away. Let Williams go, and we can finish this.”

Lowe looks up, and for the first time seems to really see him. He blinks once, and then his face twists even as Steve watches. It slides through emotions so fast it’s like watching loose sand blowing over dunes, from impatience into hatred. The emotion is so strong that his features have been completely transformed by it. His eyes are just tiny dark points between furrowed brows and raised cheek bones, his forehead a mass of wrinkles, his mouth wide and twisted. “No! You get out of here! Get out of here! GET OUT OF HERE!” Lowe jerks his arm, gesture half cut-off by his hold on Danno.

“I’m not going anywhere, Lowe. Let Williams go. There’s no other way this is going to end.” He takes a deep breath, keeps his arms low. “You’re cornered, Lowe. Just let him go, and we’ll be able to help you.”

“Help? Like you helped Mattie? You’re poisonous, full of dripping, boiling venom – can’t you feel it, burning you to ashes? Can’t you – it’s dripping out of you, in your clothes, melting your shoes, eating your shadow. And now it’s in him – you poisoned him! I thought I could save him, but I was wrong. He’s just like you. You killed him – can’t you see? Can’t you see?” He’s raving now, screaming and jerking at Danno. Steve’s trigger finger is beginning to cramp as he fights to keep from raising the gun, fights the instincts that tell him all he has to do is pull the trigger, that it would be so easy.

“The only one hurting Danny here is you, Lowe. You don’t want to do that. Neither do I. Just step away from him – that’s all you have to do.”

The uniforms are beginning to edge slowly inwards. Lowe doesn’t seem to notice. He shakes his head.

“Me? He was already dead when I met him – and I never knew. He’s been dead this whole time.” He looks down at Danny, lying across his knees struggling weakly, and his tone shifts from furious to cold. He isn’t talking to Steve anymore; Steve’s not sure if he’s even talking to himself. “Just like Mattie. Mattie died with our parents – after that, he wasn’t Mattie anymore. I pretended not to know, but he died again here anyway. And now Danny will too.”

“No.” It’s not a conscious reaction – Steve speaks without intending to as he starts forward at Lowe’s threat. In his peripheral vision, the uniforms start to move more decisively. But Lowe is trying harder to stand now, managing this time to drag Danno up with him, and he has Danny’s neck practically in his hands, and is standing a yard away from death.

Danno comes to his feet unwillingly, movements uncoordinated and sluggish. His eyes are flickering, but still mostly closed. He makes a low sound of pain as Lowe twists his shoulder while dragging him backwards, and Steve steps forward.

“Lowe, stop.”

He doesn’t, shuffling further backwards towards the cliff. In Lowe arms, Danny is struggling in a dazed torpor; all around Steve, the world seems to be narrowing into a tunnel.

“Lowe, drop him, dammit!”

The edge is only a yard away, the metal rim bordering it coming up to just above knee height. Steve side-steps forward, gun raised to eye-level. This is no longer an unarmed man – this is a man with every capacity to kill both himself, and Danno. And Steve will not – cannot – let that happen.

“Lowe, you take another step and I will kill you!”

Lowe looks up at him over Danno’s shoulder. “You’re too late. You already did.”

He takes another step backwards, knees hitting the metal railing.

Steve tosses away the gun, and runs. “Danno!

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

Danny feels very wrong now. He feels cold and clammy, shivering dismally against the hard floor and trying to edge up against it to no effect. He’s nauseous, too, occasionally tasting bile at the back of his throat. And for some reason the floor keeps bumping, making his head knock into the corner. He rolls with its movements, trying to hold himself steady but always falling back again when his shaking muscles give out under him. His wrists feel strange, somehow under pressure that he can’t seem to shed. In the background something’s humming, a constant sound like far-off thunder.

Eventually the rolling stops, thunder fading away into quiet. Danny drops to lie still, but a moment later it gets much brighter, so bright he groans and tries to shy away as the light burns his eyes.

Something latches onto his arms and pulls, drags him until he falls out into the bright light and lands on uncomfortable shifting stones that dig into his palms and knees. He tries to pull away, but the grip on his arms is too tight. He staggers up instead, ankles twisting under him, and finds that his balance seems to have utterly deserted him.

All around him the world is full of sounds that Danny can’t decipher. There’s a high squealing, and a lower screaming that makes him wince. Somewhere far away, there’s a soft continuous whisper. And, right here beside him, so close it seems to be pouring into his ear, is a harsh and uneven croaking. For some reason it repulses him, makes his already weak stomach turn, and he tries harder to break away – no give. The pressure on his wrists is melting away in a very cold sensation to reveal pins and needles underneath, shooting up his arms.

The world tilts suddenly, and he’s no longer trying to stand but trying to sit, kicking uselessly to find purchase in a shifting pit of stones. His back is resting on something – it smells sour, fetid, and he recoils only to be pulled back again. This is wrong, he shouldn’t be here, doesn’t want to be here, but he can’t seem to get away. All he wants is to lie down, but he can’t, can’t, can’t…

There’s more squealing, like a panicked pig, but over it is another lower roar. No – a voice. He knows it, can feel the familiarity in his bones, the relief.

Steve. It’s Steve’s voice. Steve, calling his name.

Danny tries to get to him, but he’s gripped tighter. Tighter and tighter, until he can’t breathe. Until the sharp smell of sweat and grease is all around him, suffocating him. Light and sound blur together, and he drops back to lie still for a while and tries to hang on to what he knows.

Steve is here, somewhere. He can still hear him. And if Steve’s here, everything is alright.

But now the angry croaking voice is back, is shouting right here in his ear, sharp as lightning. And he’s shaking again, rolling with the bumps. The pins and needles in his wrists are hardening slowly into pain, closely followed by a stiffness in his left arm. But it’s overshadowed by the clamps on his arms being redoubled. And then they’re moving again.

Danny still can’t find his balance, kicks out only to feel his legs skidding uselessly away from him. Steve’s still here, still with him. But the tone of his voice is making the hair stand up on Danny’s neck – he can’t make sense of the words, but he doesn’t have to. He can sense the fear in Steve, sense the desperation. And he doesn’t know what to do, can’t make himself think, can’t break away from the pain and the pressure and the croak in his ear.

Danno!

Danny opens his eyes against the blinding light as the world tips beneath him. All he can see is the blue sky and a blur of dark motion, but it’s enough to know he’s falling backwards. It’s the ocean he can hear, he realises suddenly, the sea lapping up against the shore. Terror flashes through his heart in one leaping beat, an amalgamation of so many things – Steve’s fear, the hatred and rage behind him, the ocean below. And then Steve catches hold of his arm and yanks him forward so hard his shoulders burn as if wrapped in sun-licked metal.

For an instant he’s torn between forwards and backwards. Then the weight drops free from his back with a gull-like shriek, and Danny falls forward.

He instinctively flinches away from the hard landing, but it doesn’t come. Steve catches his waist instead, sparing his aching arms, and helps him down.

All around him, men are running and shouting. Steve is one of the loudest, barking orders from beside him. Although Danny can’t process any of the words, the tone of Steve’s voice tells him things are alright now. It’s impatience and irritation, not fear or anger. Even on the uneven ground with stones digging into his shoulder blades and his wrists aching and his throat itching, things are alright.

Danny lies with his head resting in Steve’s hands, and for the first time in two days drifts into sleep of his own accord.

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

In a lot of ways, the ride to the hospital tells Steve all he needs to know about Danno’s past 36 hours.

He gets the handcuffs off with his own keys, tossing the stained metal into the corner where it rattles briefly before he kicks it into silence. Danno’s dirty shirt follows it, the same one he was wearing two days ago when Steve said good night to him in front of the Palace. Steve sets his jaw, and watches grimly as the paramedic takes Danno’s vitals and starts setting up an IV. He takes one glance at Danno’s left arm, and redirects to the right. Danno’s left arm is a bingo-card of needle marks, most rimmed with the bruises and blood that mark careless injection.

“He was probably kept under morphine,” Steve supplies, watching the glass bottle warily.

“Electrolytes for dehydration. His pulse is a bit thready, and he’s running a low fever without much sweat.”

Steve fights the psychological urge to flinch as the paramedic slips the IV needle under Danno’s skin – the last thing he could want now is more needles in him – and the fact that at least he’s unconscious is cold comfort.

“Five minutes,” announces the driver from the front, as the paramedic finishes taping down the needle and moves on to Danno’s wrists. The handcuffs have injured them badly, first bruising the tender skin and then tearing it, so that all that’s visible is bloody tissue bordered by dark marks. Steve’s eyes track to the other smear of blood, on Danno’s left bicep, and finds the skin there red and inflamed. The tip of something is protruding from the wound, like an ugly sliver. He waits for the paramedic to finish with Danno’s wrists, and points it out. The paramedic takes a look and nods, reaching for a plastic container.

“Looks like a syringe needle.” He pulls out a pair of tweezers and carefully extracts the long, thin piece of metal which is indeed the needle snapped off a syringe. Clearly aware of police procedure, he drops it into a small plastic box and puts it aside, then starts to disinfect the wound. The ambulance takes a sharp corner, and as the bed rocks, Steve reaches out hurriedly to keep it steady.

Lying unconscious on the stretcher, head lolling with the motion of the ambulance, Danno looks close enough to the corpse the rest of the islands still think he is that on sudden impulse Steve leans forward to feel for a pulse beneath Danno’s jaw.

The paramedic, taping a piece of gauze over the bicep wound, looks over at him. “He’s been through the ringer, and his vitals are a bit spongy, but we see worse on Friday nights. He should be okay.”

Steve doesn’t acknowledge the comment – he doesn’t need to. He can feel the strength of Danno’s heart under his fingertips and knows it’s true. It refused to give up, even when the rest of Five-O did.

And as his own heart beat finally slows in sympathy, Steve feels the tension drain out of him like water from a broken dam, leaving him alone at what feels like the bottom of a giant crater of aftermath.

When the ambulance arrives at its destination, he will step out and be Steve McGarrett, head of Hawaii Five-O again, and will have a hell of a lot of clean up to deal with.

But for the next few minutes, he’ll let himself forget about that and simply enjoy the fact that against all odds, against everything he believed two hours ago, Danno is still alive. Right now, there is nothing outside this ambulance. His name doesn’t matter, the past and future are somewhere on the horizon, and he can allow the relief to choke him with tears that for once he doesn’t despise.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
frauleinfrog
Jul. 15th, 2011 04:56 am (UTC)
Eeeee~
Somehow, he had expected finding Danno to cool the heat in his head. Expected relief to douse the firestorm. But as he scrambles out of his car, it blazes up so intensely the edges of his vision white out, and sound disappears to be replaced by the roaring of his racing heartbeat. I love this line, did I tell you? ♥
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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