A/N: This is a stand-alone story that also functions as the last chapter of the cockroach story. I've re-written it so many times and finally gave up on ever using it as a final chapter. I think it works better here as more of a stand-alone.
You'll notice a few continuity errors if taken with the rest of the cockroach saga, especially the date of Danny's car being fixed.
George does NOT feature as a main character in this story; this is more about Danny, and is darker, with less hunor.
Standard FYI: I don't have any experience in medicine/medic/rescue/fixing cars/etc, and am not really interested in fixing any mistakes contained herein.
Danny woke up the next morning with a very uncomfortable headache pounding behind his eyes. Uttering a soft groan, he lay still, eyes closed, and tried to determine why he was awake. Loud noise? Alarm clock? Lumpy mattress? Bad dream? But none of these ideas felt quite right as he tossed them around in his head. Aside from the killer headache, he also had a vicious throbbing that pulsed down his neck, but this also didn't seem to be the culprit for his sudden return to consciousness.
Maybe he could fall back asleep? Another hour or two in bed might just fix the headache and cure the painful twinge in his neck. Danny sighed deeply as he tried to relax and force his mind to drift, but a loud buzzing drowned out any other noise in the room. Danny attributed it and the headache to the early awakening.
Eyes squeezed shut, he focused on the deep throbbing which, he now realized, was in more than just his head. The aching pain radiated down his back and rippled along his arms, leaving a faint tingling sensation in his fingertips. Danny gently opened and closed his hand into a loose fist, prodding the palm of his hand with his fingertips. Why did he hurt? Was he still dreaming?
No… dreams didn't hurt. Not like this, anyway.
This needed an aspirin. Or something stronger.
With a pained moan, he forced his eyes open. The ceiling swam in front of him for a moment before solidifying into a soft, blue-grey wall.
Not his wall.
Definitely not his apartment.
Danny blinked uncertainly at the dark stains on the unfamiliar surface.
That wasn't his ceiling, either. It didn't look like cinderblocks or plaster. Was it cloth? He couldn't quite tell. And, now that he was thinking about it, was he even lying down? Or was he sitting up? Beneath the pounding headache, he struggled to regain some sense of orientation. A flash of color- sunlight?- dashed across the surface of the cloth-like background and he turned his head, following it until it landed on a window.
A car window.
He was in a car.
The spot of sunlight wavered before beginning its journey back across the cloth, and Danny was vaguely aware of a rocking sensation as his eyes trailed the light along the ceiling. Tip…rock… tip… A particularly ugly stain gave him pause, and he made a sudden deduction: he knew this car. It was his car. Or, rather, his neighbor's that he had borrowed for the week.
Danny chuffed a pleased sound at this simple deduction. It was nothing spectacular, but he wasn't sure that his brain was up to its normally spectacular work. And yet, despite this deduction, he was in no hurry to move. Sleepily, he examined the soft glow of the sunlight through the car and concluded that it must be early morning. He'd spent the night in his car.
He had no idea whyhe had slept in his car nor how he had gotten here in the first place. The last thing he remembered was saying goodbye to Steve last night at the Palace. Then he'd gotten in the car and driven… where? Where was he? The only thing he could see outside was sunshine, and that was less than helpful. It also meant that he was late for work, and with a serial killer loose on the island, Steve would not be pleased when he walked into work tardy.
The car continued its slow rocking back and forth, and Danny shuddered and closed his eyes as his stomach roiled unpleasantly. There was something unnerving about the movement, a vague idea that something was terribly wrong, but Danny couldn't quite grasp what it was. The buzzing in his ears persisted, but behind it Danny caught the faintest hint of traffic and the morning surf pounding the shore.
Danny winced as a sudden bounce smacked his head lightly against the door. The bounce was followed by a slight crunching sound, and then the rocking motion again, this time more pronounced.
Why was the car moving? Danny wasn't driving, and the gentle rocking didn't feel like forward momentum. What would cause that type of movement? Danny wasn't sure he wanted to know. Still, he felt a desperate, insatiable needto know, and it was because of this feeling that he finally lifted his head and looked around.
He was lying on the window.
Shocked, he looked down at the rest of his body and found that he was curled in a fetal position on the shattered pane of glass that, through some miracle of engineering, had not yet actually broken. Far beneath the glass- 50 feet? 60?- he could make out dark rocks, slick with water, and small dabs of white foam.
His stomach churned threateningly, and Danny closed his eyes and made a last, desperate wish for it to all be a dream. Perhaps he was about to wake up warm and snug in his own bed to the sound of the morning news on his TV. Steve would be at the door, knocking in his irritatingly-loud way, but he'd have a cup of coffee in hand for Danny and a banana or some other nastily-healthy snack waiting in the truck, and they'd drive into work together.
He wished with all his might.
The car shifted again, jolted, and nosed suddenly downward. Danny's arms shot out to catch himself as he was dumped from the window onto the ceiling, and he couldn't help a pained cry as he landed on his shoulder, trapping his right arm beneath him. Breathing hard, he tried not to move as the car settled. The rocking motion finally ceased, but Danny could feel the car shudder as winds buffeted the rocky cliff where he was perched.
From his new position, he could see only the damaged dash, with bits of plastic and wires protruding from the console. A scattering of glass shards near his head indicated that at least one window had broken, and the yellow fuzz stuck to his sleeve looked like it might have come from the inside of a seat. Below- or, rather, above- the dash, he saw a few pieces of trash clinging to the steering wheel, more glass and plastic pieces, and a shoe.
A large, black shoe, with a black sock, connected to a blue-jean-clothed leg.
Danny inhaled sharply as a memory suddenly rose to the surface.
"Hey. You Detective Williams?"
"That's me." Danny straightened, popping his back, and set down the bags of trash he'd been hauling out to the dumpster. The kid in front of him looked to be in his 20's and definitely a mainlander. Danny couldn't recall seeing him in the neighborhood before, but that was hardly surprising since Danny was rarely home.
Hands stuffed in his 'Honolulu University' sweatshirt, the kid looked around the darkening parking lot nervously before addressing Danny again. "Hear you've been looking for the 'Midnight Stalker?'"
"I can't comment on active investigations," Danny replied automatically.
"That's okay, man. I understand. Just wanted to know how close you were to catching him. Been feeling a little nervous going out at night, if you know what I mean."
"What's your name?"
"Look, Jamel- I don't think you need to worry about going out at night. Just don't go out alone and stick to high-traffic areas."
"I hear ya, man. I'll play it safe."
Danny twisted his head, cringing as pain flared along his neck. Squinting, he followed the jeans to a gaudy, blue-and-red Hawaiian shirt… the same shirt that he'd seen the night before, hiding under the sweatshirt. The hem fluttered in a breeze that wafted through the broken window, and Danny caught a glimpse of the SIG underneath, tucked into the belt. The man's face remained out of view, but he could see a hand, the fingers splayed lax across the ceiling, a dark stain soaking the cloth. Beyond the fingers, and just at the edge of Danny's vision, lay a cell phone.
Danny flexed his own fingers experimentally. He couldn't feel the arm trapped beneath him, but his left arm seemed to be in working order, so he shifted his weight and rolled slightly toward the phone, reaching out with his left hand.
The car shuddered. Danny froze.
A few bits of glass from the remnants of the windshield broke off and scattered across his face and arm. He scrunched his eyes closed and held his breath. The car swayed slowly to the left, then back to the right, the metal frame grinding as it scraped against the cliff face.
Danny shook his head slightly to clear the glass from his face.
The car tilted again, and Danny threw a leg behind him, hoping to add some weight in the right direction. The motion stilled.
A minute passed.
Danny let his breath out slowly. Opening his eyes, he craned his neck back he could see the phone lying on the soft cloth ceiling near the man's body. He reached out cautiously with one hand, careful to keep his body still as his fingers inched toward the black plastic.
The man next to him stirred, rocking the car slightly and sending a trickle of glass spilling over the dash and onto the ceiling. Danny closed his eyes and waited for the movement to stop.
"Nice and still…" he whispered pleadingly to the man. "Just stay nice and still."
To his surprise, the other man stilled and the rocking stopped.
Danny cracked one eye open. The phone had slid a few inches further. Taking a deep breath, he stretched, reaching out as far as he could. His hand just brushed it, not quite enough to grab onto, so he rolled slightly, risking the car rocking and praying it wouldn't dump him on the rocks.
His fingers closed around the precious device. Danny heaved a sigh of relief, but there was something wrong. The weight wasn't right. It was too light.
Hand shaking, he held it up. The screen was dead.
Danny turned the phone over in his hand and groaned. The slot in the back where the battery was normally housed was empty. The phone was a cheap burner, an old model, and the battery had fallen out.
Exhausted from the wasted effort, Danny let both hand and phone fall to his side and closed his eyes in despair. Of all the possible ways to die, the combination of car crash, cliff, and ocean sat near the bottom of his list, right above sucked out of airplaneand eaten by bear.
"Anything but this," he muttered to himself. "I'll take anything but this."
"Just tell me this: are you guys at least close to figuring it out? Cause my girlfriend, man, she's nervous."
"Jamel, like I just told you, I can't comment on active cases."
"Come on, man. Anything? I just need to tell her she's going to be alright."
"Well, tell her to avoid going out alone after dark, and if she does go out, stick to well-lit, busy areas."
"That's it? You can't tell me anything else?"
"What do you want me to tell you? That we have a suspect? That we have an address? A license plate? A-"
"You have a suspect?"
"What? No. That was just an example."
"You totally have a suspect, dude. I can tell."
Danny sighed in exasperation. "Okay, first, I am not 'dude.' I am Mr. Williams or Detective Williams. And second, we may or may not have a suspect, but I can't comment that information."
"It's okay man- Detective- sir. I won't tell anyone."
Danny grimaced. "Go home, Jamel. Hang out with your girlfriend; enjoy the evening." Turning away, he picked up the two trash bags and continued to the dumpster.
He missed dark frown that clouded Jamel's face.