Kea akua lapu
Aloha! It feels like it has been a while since I've been here to play, but that doesn't mean I haven't been trying to write. "Trying" is the operative word. Sometimes the stories flow and other times I feel like I fight for each and every word.
As for the technicalities… I do not own any portion of the Hawaii Five-0 franchise and I graciously appreciate those that do who allow me to borrow and 'gently' use them from time to time. (Steve may think I do not know the meaning of the word 'gently'. )
A huge thank you goes to Sam who so very patiently reads and re-reads what I write and has the ability to change my words so that they sound so much better! Without her help, encouragement, snarkiness and general nonsense, I would not be doing this (nor would I want to!) Please note that all mistakes are mine… and I generally find the first mistake about 30 seconds after I post a chapter. It is my firm belief that they hide in the margins until I hit the "send" button and then they all jump out, giggling.
This follows the premise of my story, "Loa Pa'akiki ala hele" which took place after the events of 4.21. Catherine is still in Afghanistan. Can Steve keep the demons at bay?
Please see further notes at the end of this chapter.
Three minutes is all it took to reach the climax of three weeks' worth of intense investigation, research and surveillance.
Drugs of the worst kind had been funneling into the streets of Honolulu and other cities on the islands for the last few months. The drugs had been traced from Columbia's capital, Bogota, but the person responsible for the transport had remained a mystery. Five-0 had been working nearly around the clock for the past three weeks trying to find the perps and gain enough solid Intel for a bust.
And thankfully, tonight, all their hard work had paid off, culminating in a brief gunfight between the good guys and the bad guys.
Bad guys never stood a chance. No matter how smart and covert they thought they had been.
Steve came around the side of the hanger shoving in front of him the one person who thought he could run. There's always one who thinks he can escape.
His mad dash out of the hanger's double doors had been slowed by a well-placed bullet in his thigh. He was limping on his gimpy leg with his hands cuffed behind his back and Steve's hand fisted into the collar of his shirt. His nose was bloody and he was spouting what could only be obscenities in a combination of Spanish mixed with a variety of other dialects.
Steve was only catching every third or fourth word, but so far the guy had questioned his parentage while also condemning him and pretty much anyone he had ever been in contact with.
"Here you go, Danno," Steve pushed his prisoner forward. "This one thought he was going to get away."
Danny grabbed the man's arm and prodded him toward the waiting vehicles. "Knowing you as I do, you probably paid him to run just so you could go after him," Danny said over his shoulder.
Steve only grinned in response, turning to greet Chin. "What've we got?"
"Got 'em all," the lieutenant replied. "No ID on any of them. But we have the goods and the cash, so we're solid."
"Good," Steve replied, handing over the runner's gun, dropping it into the plastic bag Grover held out to him. He then turned and trotted toward the EMS that had arrived to transport his prisoner.
"Hey, you, what's your name?"
The wounded man looked up from the gurney he was being cuffed to and grinned. "Wouldn't you like to know?" he taunted. "You don't know me, but I know you. Can't believe you're saying there's something that Commander Steve McGarrett of the Five-0 does not know."
"I don't know who you are… yet," Steve emphasized. "But don't worry, I will. So why not go ahead and tell me your name?"
"My people call me 'El Fantasma Blanco'," he replied. "Figure it out, man."
Steve felt someone touch his arm and he turned to find Grover staring at his side.
"Have you been shot?"
"Huh?" Steve asked and looked down, surprised to see blood on his shirt. "Uh, no? At least I don't think so." He felt on his side and winced when his fingers came away bloody.
Danny overheard what was said and left his conversation with Duke, turning toward his partner. "Let me see that," he ordered. He took one look at the blood on Steve's side and opened the Velcro on Steve's vest finding that the bottom of Steve's gray tee shirt was bright red. Danny turned to the EMT working on their prisoner. "Looks like you've got another patient right here."
Steve pulled off his vest and held up his shirt. "It's OK," he assured them. "Just a crease."
Grover pointed at Steve's side when the tech looked at them. "Yeah, and it's a crease that's gonna get checked out right now," he said in a no-nonsense voice.
"Lou, I like your style," Danny told him, not able to hold in his smirk when Steve glared at him.
"Look, it's just a scratch," Steve argued with a second EMT as he was being led away.
"Yes, Sir, I'm sure it is," the young woman replied. "But let's just make sure, OK?"
Steve turned around when he heard their prisoner's voice call him. "Gonna tell me your name?"
"Nah," the man said with a grin. "Just wanted to say it was nice meeting you. Have a nice life."
"Shut up," Danny said. "You gonna transport this low-life to the hospital? Duke, have a car follow the bus. I want a guard on 'im 24/7. And he stays cuffed. No visitors until we figure out who he is."
"Got it," the sergeant acknowledged.
"Hold on," Kono told the technicians before they loaded their patient for transport. "I want his fingerprints."
"Honey," the prisoner spoke. "You ain't gonna find me or my prints anywhere."
"Yeah? Well, give me time. We'll see about that."
Danny walked to where Steve was seated on the back of the second EMS vehicle. "So, what's the verdict, Shannon? Is he going to live?"
"My expert medical opinion is that he'll live to fight another day," she told them with a grin. "Although, Commander, I do wish you would have it checked out at the hospital." She taped a thick stack of gauze pads to Steve's side. "While it's a shallow wound, it took a groove out of your flesh. It's going to be sore while it heals."
"It's fine, thanks," Steve assured her and pulled his shirt down over the bandage, keeping the wince to himself. "Like I said, just a scratch."
"Seems like I recall the last 'scratch' you had, you whined like a baby when I cleaned it up," Lou reminded him.
"Yeah? That's because you used cayenne pepper and oven cleaner on it."
"Whatever works," the captain grinned.
"We ready to get out of here?" Steve asked, pushing up from where he sat. "Thanks, Shannon."
"If you have problems, promise me you'll see a doctor. And take some OTC meds for the pain. I'm sure you'll need them later," the EMT said with a warm smile, knowing the commander wouldn't willingly take anything stronger.
"Of course I will," Steve assured her.
"Of course he will," Danny mumbled beneath his breath while reaching for Steve's vest. "Hey, look at this," he said, holding up the vest and pointing to the bullet lodged along the lower edge in the back. "Vest stopped the bullet. Too bad it wasn't long enough to stop it before it ripped you open. Maybe you should start shopping in the "big and tall" store, Babe."
"I'll keep that in mind." Steve replied with a quick grin. He reached for his vest but was intercepted by Grover.
The captain nodded to the forensic van that had just pulled on site. "I'll get it logged in for evidence and turn it over to those guys."
Steve nodded his thanks and looked at the scene before him. "Let's escort our prisoners to holding and let them stew while we figure out who we have. And we can see who will break first."
"Gonna be a long night," Chin said while they headed toward the cars. "But the good news is that all the money and drugs have been confiscated. We have the owner of the airstrip and three people who work here, we have the group from Columbia and then we have a group of our local boys. This will be quite a party."
"Then let's get started," Danny said. "Maybe we can get home sometime before Saturday morning."
The White Ghost had been correct when he said they wouldn't find his prints. Chin was frustrated from checking every database compiled by mankind. The Columbian truly was a ghost. Facial recognition also got them nowhere. Columbia wasn't being very forthcoming with any information on the case which meant that Chin and Kono were doing the research on their own.
Steve, Danny and Grover were having somewhat better luck with the Americans who had been picked up. From the records they found in the plane, the pilot apparently flew the drugs from South America and passed them off to the local gang members for distribution. On this trip, the Columbian contingent of sellers made the trip with the drugs… which was a lucky break for Five-0. Although they still hadn't ID'd them.
The manager of the airplane hangar had been cleared, but his mechanic and one of the pilots had been booked for drug distribution and trafficking.
Unfortunately, they either didn't know or refused to say who they were purchasing the drugs from. Which is why Grover had escorted the mechanic into the Blue Room for a little chat with Steve.
His rap sheet was impressive. It listed Hector's age as 26; with all the charges in his file, Hector had been a very busy boy in his 26 years. He was muscled and nicely tanned and the tips of his black hair were highlighted to perfection. The gold chain around his neck under the dingy mechanic's uniform matched the grill on his front teeth. Hector shuffled into the room with Grover's beefy hand around his arm.
Steve leaned against the wall, arms crossed, waiting for the sullen prisoner to be handcuffed to the chair.
"I'm not telling you nothin'," Hector stated, raising his eyes to stare at Steve.
Steve nodded, wanting nothing more than to wipe the smirk off Hector's face. "OK," he calmly agreed. "You don't have to talk." Steve grinned for effect. "But you might want to. You see, your pilot friend just left that chair and now he's up in our office with my partner writing up his statement." He shook his head for emphasis. "And I've got to tell you, Hector, it doesn't look too good for you, buddy. Larry stated you hired him to transport the drugs up from Columbia and it is your cash flow that pays this White Ghost character." He pushed away from the wall and circled his prisoner. "And when we add in attempted murder to the drug charges, you'll be lucky to even get one hour a day in the sunshine to work on that tan."
Hector whipped his head around to try to see Steve's location, but twisted around the opposite way when Steve circled once again. "Hey! I don't know nothin' about any attempted murder. You ain't pinning anything on me. I didn't shoot no one."
Steve stopped up close and personal, right in front of Hector and lifted his bloody shirt, making Hector look at his bandaged side. "This says otherwise. And as long as I get a statement from Larry saying you are the mastermind of this ring, I don't care if you pulled the trigger or not. You're going down right along with your Ghost friend."
"He's not my friend!" Hector yelled, his snarky demeanor escaping him. "Larry got me in all this, not the other way around. And I never met that Columbian dude until he showed up for this last trip."
"Really?" Steve leaned back against the wall and placed his hand over the gauze on his side, trying to hide the wince as he did so. "That's not the story I heard, so maybe you better start at the beginning."
"I can't, man. He'll kill me."
Steve shrugged and looked at Grover. "That's it, Lou. I'm done, let's get him out of here."
"Hey, wait. You can't pin this on me."
"If you won't talk, you're admitting your own guilt. Nothing I can do about that," Steve told him. "Now, if by chance you wanted to share with us what you know, maybe we can work something out."
"Steve, don't waste your time," Grover told him. "We got him dead to rights. Let's sign off on this case and be done with it."
"No, wait. I'll tell you what I know," their suddenly not so smug prisoner shouted. "But really, it isn't much. Only that this ghost guy thinks he's real important. And before he got here, he kept asking what we knew about you and your team," he said, looking at Steve.
"Me?" Steve asked and kept the surprise out of his voice.
"Yeah, he wanted to 'know who he was going up against', he said. He wanted to make sure you knew all about the drugs."
"I don't know, man, but I didn't know how this was going down. All Larry said this morning was to have the plane ready for transport and I did. He was working out all the details with the others. And I didn't know you were gonna get shot."
Steve nodded his head toward the door. "Have HPD take him back to holding, Captain. We're done here."
"Hey, that's all I know. Really," Hector said as Lou unfastened his cuff from the chair. "I swear it."
"We'll see about that," Steve told him. "But if you remember anything else, you might want to let us know."
"Yeah, man, this wasn't how this was supposed to go down."
Grover chuckled. "Ya think, Einstein?"
They convened in the office a few minutes later, both Danny and Grover watching Steve come from the bathroom.
"You OK?" Danny asked.
"You're looking kind of pale," Danny observed.
"Looking pale to me, too," Lou added.
"Should I state the obvious?" Steve said with a grin. "Of course I look pale to you."
"Don't go there, McGarrett," Grover warned him, but his smile tempered the warning. "I can tell your side is hurting, maybe it's time to head home and get some rest."
"Yeah, we'll leave soon," Steve said while gathering everyone around the smart table. "Anything new here?"
"Nothing," Chin reported. "Maybe a facial recognition on one of the guys, but it hasn't been verified yet. Still waiting on word back from Columbia, but I'm not holding my breath for anything concrete. This White Ghost, as he calls himself, does seem to be pretty elusive."
Steve nodded. "I doubt Columbia will come through, but it's at least worth a try. OK, it's late and our suspects are locked down tight. Since Mr. Ghost isn't a citizen, we can hold him pending further information. Let's go home and get some rest. Tomorrow's Saturday. We can meet back up at noon and start fresh."
"Sounds like a plan," Kono said, heading to her office for her keys. "I'm going home to sleep. You guys going out?"
Chin shook his head. "Nah, I'm headed home, too."
Danny yawned and then laughed. "Don't think I'd be much company tonight. I'm headed to bed."
"Sounds good," Lou agreed. "I can already hear my bed calling my name."
"Good work, guys," Steve told everyone while heading to his office to shut down for the night. He came back into the common area to see that everyone but Danny had left.
"How about I drive you home?" Danny offered. "You look beat and I know you are hurting. I also know that you were getting sick in the bathroom earlier," he told Steve. "Leave your truck and I can pick you up in the morning."
Steve opened his mouth to argue, then realized he really didn't feel like driving. Surprisingly to both him and Danny, he agreed. "Yeah, OK."
"OK? Did you say OK?" Danny griped. "Will wonders never cease? Now… gimme the keys before you change your mind."
Steve gave a half hearted wave as Danny drove away. He unlocked the house and entered, closing the door and leaning his forehead against the smooth wood. He was tired.
He debated eating something but knew he wasn't hungry. His side was throbbing and he felt nauseous again. So he locked up and tiredly went upstairs. He kicked off his boots and set his sidearm in the drawer of the bedside table before heading to the bathroom.
Steve came back into the bedroom dressed for bed and longingly looked at Catherine's pillow, wishing with all his heart that she was in his bed. He climbed in and rolled toward it, as he had done every night since she had been gone. Breathing in her scent, talking to her in his head, telling her about his day.
That was all it took until Steve was fast asleep.
I hope this has tweaked your interest so that you will come back for future chapters! Chapter 2 will be posted next Tuesday.
I would like to invite you to check out the Whump2Go site on Wordpress that Sam has so diligently been working on. This (and our other stories) will also be posted on that site along with some "extras" we plan to work on for the stories. Details to follow… but please go to:
Whump2go dot wordpress dot com and join. I look forward to seeing you there.