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The Princess Is in Another Castle

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Steve went off on his own to talk to a person of interest in their latest drug case, which looked like it was going to shape up to be a bust of a big heroin trafficking ring. He went alone because Danny was at court testifying on a case, Chin was sitting in a van in Waimanalo doing wiretap surveillance for another thing involving M16s and a guy on Interpol's watch list, and Kono was stuck at HPD in a mandatory HR seminar.

Danny didn't know that Steve had gone off to talk to a person of interest on his own, though, because Steve never felt a need to let people know that he was doing that kind of thing. So that was why Danny hobbled tiredly into the office around four in the afternoon, his suit jacket over his free arm and his tie loose, and found only Kono there.

She looked up from her computer. "You're back on your cane?"

"Rain's been brutal on my knee," he said, making his way to the visitor chair in her office and dropping into it tiredly. "Chin's still off in Waimanalo?"

"Until late, yeah."

"Where's McGarrett?"

Kono shrugged.

"Wait," said Danny, "he hasn't been around?"

"I've been here maybe an hour," she said. "I figured he took off early or something."

Danny had a bad feeling; he dug out his phone and dialed Steve's number. It went directly to voicemail.

"His phone's off," he said, shoving his phone back in his pocket and frowning at Kono's desk. "What the hell happened to him?"

"A dead battery? He doesn't usually turn off his phone."

Danny lurched to his feet, agitated, and leaned heavily on the cane as he made his way to the door. "I don't feel good about this," he said over his shoulder.

Kono got up and followed him into Steve's office; the door was shut but not locked. Danny sat down in Steve's chair and rifled quickly through the mess of papers on his desk before trying the drawers. Locked. He turned his attention back to the top of the desk, sifting through Steve's papers more carefully. Kono watched him from the doorway.

Steve was clearly one of those people who liked to doodle aimlessly while he was on the phone, Danny realized, and also, did he ever file any paperwork? After about five minutes, he fished a green post-it out of a pile of detritus; it had an address and time scrawled on it in pen.

"Puuloa Road?" he asked, squinting at Steve's handwriting.

"I think that's over by the airport."

Danny thought about that, and then he said, "Oh, fuck me," and lurched out of the chair, letting it roll back against the filing cabinet.

"You know where he went?" asked Kono.

"Yes," said Danny, "and I am going to beat him to death because he will never learn why having backup is important." He stormed out of Steve's office as best he could on a cane and made for his own. "You keep trying to reach McGarrett," said Danny, digging his sidearm out of his desk drawer. "I'll be going to," he read the post-it again, "752 Puuloa Road."

He turned around; Kono stood in his doorway with her arms crossed. "I have a better idea," she said. "You can keep trying to call the boss." She swooped past him and grabbed the Camaro keys off of his desk. "I don't like driving and using the phone at the same time."

Danny thought about protesting, but Kono was glaring at him, and then at his cane, and then back at him. He was nothing if not occasionally a wise man, so when he did open his mouth it was to say, "Get your piece, Rookie."

Her glare became a triumphant smile and she turned on her heel to go grab her sidearm out of her desk. Danny sighed to himself and made his way over to the elevator to wait. He pulled out his phone to try Steve again and at the sound of, "The person you are calling is not available at this time...." he had to clench his fist around it and press it to his forehead to keep from throwing it at the floor.


It turned out that 752 Puuloa Road was a body shop; during their drive there the rain had turned into a downpour, which was generally infuriating to Danny but did occasionally prove useful as cover. At any rate, it let Kono sneak around the back of the garage easily while Danny went through the front to try and find someone to talk to or maybe threaten a little.

Steve was not there. There was one guy, a kid around twenty-five, detailing a Cadillac. Danny walked up to him in a friendly way and then displayed his badge. He couldn't decide if he was sad or satisfied to see the kid freeze.

"Hello... Kenny," he said cheerfully, reading the embroidered patch on the kid's coveralls. "Do you know Dave McDonnell?"

"No," said Kenny. "I don't know anything."

"That's funny. I mean, you work here, right, Kenny?" Danny asked, still amiable. "Kono," he said, enjoying when Kenny whipped around to see her where she'd just slipped in the back door of the garage, "We are at Choi and McDonnell Autobody, right?"

"That's what the sign said."

"So," said Danny to Kenny, "I guess we're already getting off on the wrong foot."

Kenny dropped the end of his vacuum and tried to bolt, but Danny leaped forward and blocked his exit with the end of his cane across his chest.

"Whoa! Where are you going, Kenny?" said Danny, closing the distance between them with his cane still held up. "I wasn't done talking to you yet. That's just rude. Now, a guy came in here around eleven this morning and he was looking to talk to our mutual friend Mr. McDonnell. Six feet tall, dark hair, shiny badge like mine. Hard to miss, I bet. Where is he now?"

"I--I don't," Kenny started, and then he grabbed the end of Danny's cane and tried to yank him off-balance with it. Danny still had the handle-end, though, and jerked it back toward himself, smacking Kenny across the knuckles with it and making him yelp. He stepped forward, shoved Kenny back against the driver's side door of the Cadillac, and pressed the rubber foot of his cane into the artery in Kenny's neck before Kenny had a chance to get away.

"I'm gonna ask you one more time," said Danny calmly.

"I didn't start work until one," Kenny rasped. "He wasn't here."

"Where's McDonnell? And Choi, while we're at it?" Danny demanded. When Kenny looked down at the ground, he dug in the end of his cane a little more. Kenny choked and Danny backed off just enough to let him answer.

"They were both gone, too. Left me a note. All it said was that they were off at a thing and which cars I had to finish."

"Off at a thing," repeated Danny blankly.

"I think it just said a meeting!" Kenny said in a panic. "They don't tell me shit!"

"Danny," said Kono.

Danny backed off.

"Where's the office?" he asked.

As Kenny led them to the office, Kono said in an undertone, "All those lectures you give the boss on due process, and now you're gonna get this kid to let you perform a search without a warrant."

"We've got probable cause," said Danny, not really caring. "And if it turns out I can't arrest the fuckers, maybe I can just shoot them instead."

"Has McGarrett been a bad influence on you, or were you always secretly like this?"

"I choose to blame him," said Danny as Kenny opened the office door for them.

They searched the office for ten minutes; Danny turned up two things that were very interesting in relation to the drug case McGarrett had come out here on, but he dutifully left them where they were just in case they actually got a warrant for the drug investigation. Kono found a recent phone bill with a lot of calls on it to a shipping company in Kalihi that Danny recognized from some HPD files; Danny dug up the lease for a warehouse twenty minutes away in the other direction.

"This is all we got," said Danny after they'd searched some more. He held up the phone bill and the lease. "Pick one and we'll go there first."

"He might not be at either," said Kono uncertainly.

"That is true," said Danny. He shook the papers. "Pick."

She frowned at both. "Shipping company."

Danny paused to write down both of the addresses on a piece of paper stolen out of the printer and put the lease and bill back on top of a filing cabinet. "Let's roll."

"You were pretty good with that cane," yelled Kono over the rain as they hauled ass back to the car.

"I know how to use a nightstick," said Danny as he hobbled to the passenger side and threw himself into the car, dripping on the seat. "It's not that different."

"Huh," she said, and then she paused. "Should we call Chin?"

Danny shrugged. "He's over an hour away in traffic, and he's still running that wiretap. We had to fight so hard for that surveillance warrant, I don't want to interrupt it."


"I don't want to interrupt it and make Chin feel like he needs to come back, because I bet we can handle this without him," Danny continued. "And anyway, we can still call HPD for backup if we have to. We're not Steve."

Kono took a deep breath and nodded. "Okay," she said, and started the car.


"So maybe," said Kono as they sat in the car and peered through the rain at the Wikiwiki Shipping Co.'s office (Danny could barely make out the sign from across the road, stupid Hawaiian rainy season), "you should tell me exactly what we're looking at, here."

Danny ran a hand through his hair tiredly. "Okay, so this drug case we picked up a couple days ago, with the five kilos of heroin HPD seized off those dealers in Ala Moana?"

"Yeah," she said. "You and the boss were just getting started on it. This is to do with that?"

"Dave McDonnell, and maybe Sean Choi too, are people of interest in this case. Right now it looks like they're at least a middleman for the importers and the local guys. We just found this out yesterday and I insisted we sit on it a little, but I guess McGarrett got a bug up his ass about it and went off half-cocked to talk to McDonnell while I was stuck in court today. And now," he held up his phone, dialed McGarrett's number, and put the voicemail robot voice on speaker for a second before cutting off the call, "now, he's nowhere."

Kono bit her lip.

Danny looked back at the shipping office. "This is a pretty big operation, so odds are that Choi and McDonnell are armed and dangerous. And maybe they sniffed us out before McGarrett got there."

"Should we call for backup right now?" Kono asked.

Danny shook his head. "Let's see if we've even got the right place before we make any calls for cavalry." He opened the car door and eased himself out, stepping over a huge puddle. They approached the building and did the same thing as before, Danny going in the front and Kono as silent backup.

Danny pushed open the glass door of the tiny front office and heard a bell jingle overhead. A receptionist looked up at him from a desk off to the right. "Can I--" she started, but Danny just held up his badge.

"Five-0," he said. "I'm looking for Sean Choi and Dave McDonnell."

She stood up. "Officer, if you'll just wait, I'll--"

"Detective," Danny interrupted her. "Sit," he said. "I'll find my own way in."

She sputtered at him but sat and watched him as he went straight for the blank, wooden door in the back of the room. It opened into a short hallway, lined with more doors to offices and a washroom, and from there into a warehouse. Metal shelving, stuffed with crates and pallet-loads of boxes. A built guy in a black t-shirt, standing at a computer terminal. Back turned on Danny; maybe he hadn't heard him come in.

Danny opened his shoulder holster, to get at his weapon if necessary. "Excuse me," he said, holding up his badge for inspection as the guy turned around.

"The fuck do you want, cop?"

Danny rolled his eyes. "Detective Danny Williams, Five-0. I'm looking for some people," he said, seeing Kono creep into range out of the corner of his eye. "Maybe you've seen them today."

"Nah," the guy said, "the only person I saw today was your mother."

"That's not nice," said Danny. "Or particularly creative. Sean Choi. Dave McDonnell. My partner, Steve McGarrett. Ringing any bells?"

"Not a damn one. Now go harass some other innocent bystander, I'm doing shit here."

"If you don't know who Choi and McDonnell are, then I guess you don't answer the phone around here very much. They call here all the time; what, are they just looking to talk to the lady out front?"

The guy was half-turned back to his workstation; he flipped open a toolbox and before Danny could get his weapon all the way out of the holster, he was staring down the barrel of a nine-mil.

"Let's be reasonable here," said Danny raising his hands a little and tearing his gaze away from the gun to look at the warehouse guy. "Drawing on a police officer is good for jail time, especially if you've already got a record. Maybe if you help me out, I help you out a little."

"Maybe," said the guy. "Maybe not."

"What's your name, anyway?" Danny asked, trying to keep his voice steady. "Let's talk."

"Yes, like I'm going to tell you my name," the guy said.

"How about Jim, then? Can I call you Jim?" Danny waited a beat and then continued. "Well, Jim, I don't know about you, but my day has been terrible. First I wake up, and all this rain is causing me pain and stiffness in my joints. This rain is demoralizing. Then I went to court to testify at a trial. I bet you know what court is like, am I right? I wanted to stab myself in the neck with a pencil and end it all." Danny was gesturing with his hands, which were still in the air at his sides. "After court, I limp back to my team office to find my partner is missing, because he went to talk to some suspected drug runners without backup, and he might be in serious trouble or dead. And now I'm going to have to arrest you and this day is just going to keep getting worse."

Jim frowned at him over the top of his gun. "You talk a lot for a cop with a gun pointed at him. What the hell kind of cop hobbles around on a cane anyway? You're not very threatening."

"That's why I bring her," said Danny, and then Kono shot Jim in the shoulder.

"Book him," said Danny, kicking Jim's gun out of his reach as Kono jogged over. "I need to go sit down for a while."

Kono picked Jim up off the floor, read him his rights and called a uniform to come pick him up while Danny sat gingerly on a crate and rubbed at his knee, as if it was going to help. It only took ten minutes for two HPD officers to get there and haul him off to the car, at which point Kono wandered over to Danny, switching the safety back on her weapon.

"Looks like the princess is in another castle," she said matter-of-factly.

Danny couldn't help it; he barked out a laugh. It sounded harsh and echoed in the empty warehouse.

"He's totally a Princess Toadstool type," she continued.

Danny carefully stretched out his leg, still smirking even through the pain. "Sometimes bad guys have an uncanny resemblance to goombas." He eased himself off of the crate and made sure to wave at the receptionist when they walked back out the front of the building. "So which one of us gets to be Mario?"

"Well, clearly I'm Luigi."

"Don't say it," Danny begged.

Kono gave him a shit-eating grin and said it anyway. "...Because I'm taller."

Danny swore at her but it was swallowed by the rain (which might have been easing up but probably he was imagining that).

Once they got back into the car, though, the fake upbeat attitudes died instantly. Kono sat, staring at her hand on top of the steering wheel, her other hand holding onto the key in the ignition, on the verge of turning it.

"What do we do if he's not in the next castle?"

Danny looked out the windshield, squinted out at the swirl of green and brown and grey nothing through the hammer of rain on the glass. Steve was out there someplace, and who knew how much time they had to find him. He sighed. "We find another castle."

"Will that--"

"Eventually," Danny cut her off, "we will either find Steve, or run out of castles, and then when we find him anyway, I will just have to yell myself to death."

Kono turned the key. "Where's this warehouse?" Her voice was flinty.


They parked down the street from the warehouse; the rain was actually, really starting to ease up so they could even see it from where they sat in the car. Danny felt jittery, and he always trusted his instincts so he grabbed the radio and called for backup before they even got out of the car. Dispatch estimated five minutes.

"Let's go," he said, opening his door.

Kono looked quickly between him and the radio but hurried after him. Danny noted her ducking around the side of the building, picking her way past tall weeds and old tires, as he moved low and quick past a retractable door to crouch under the windows beside it. He listened for a moment, his ear close to the cinder block wall, but even though the rain was receding he couldn't hear any interesting noises. Slowly, wincing at the pain that shot through his knee, he eased himself up, flat against the wall beside the window, and angled his head enough to look inside. One guy, packing in a shoulder holster. Professional bodyguard bearing. He was talking to someone. Danny crouched again and made his way under the window to a steel door that opened outward; it was locked and reinforced.

What the hell, he thought, and moved to the hinge side of the door to knock sharply on it, twice.

There was a muffled burst of noise from inside and then the doorknob turned; as the bodyguard opened the door and stuck his head out, Danny slipped forward, grabbed the doorknob with the hand holding his cane, and hip-checked the door into the bodyguard's head and shoulders. The guard let out a yell of surprise and Danny pressed his weapon to his forehead and held out his badge.

"Hello," he said. "Throw all of your weapons on the ground, out here."

The guard moved awkwardly against the press of the door on his shoulders, throwing his sidearm out onto the gravel.

"Anything else?" Danny asked, not moving.

A Bowie knife followed the gun, sticking point-down in the mud.

"I'm going to ease off the door and you're going to put your hands on the back of your head and let me follow you inside. You yell a warning to your colleagues and we're going to have a problem," said Danny. "Got it?"

The guard nodded, his head pressing into Danny's weapon.

"And here we go." Danny took his weight off of the door, still holding his cane out of sight, and watched the guard obediently put his hands behind his head before turning and preceding Danny into the warehouse.

Danny thought--hoped--he heard faint sirens approaching before the door shut behind him.

The warehouse was mostly empty. Steve's truck was parked in front of the loading bay door; it had been sitting long enough that it was almost dry again. Danny pushed the guard along in front of him, his gun planted between the guy's shoulderblades. Another guy, this one with a fucking AK slung over his shoulder, appeared from behind the truck and froze when he saw Danny and the other guard.

"I'm looking for Dave McDonnell and Sean Choi," Danny announced.

The guy moved for his rifle and Danny's finger tightened on the trigger, but Kono popped up from behind the truck and hit the guy with what looked like a length of pipe. He went down hard.

"I feel like I had that," Danny called.

"Whatever," said Kono, hefting her pipe. "I haven't had the chance to hit anybody all day."

Danny ordered his captive down onto the floor and cuffed his hands and feet with zipties before hobbling over to Kono. "You see Steve yet?"

"Not yet," she said, but then a door opened across the warehouse, maybe to an office or something. Danny and Kono ducked behind the hood of the truck for cover.

"Who's there?" Danny yelled. "Five-0, put your hands up!"

The response was a burst of gunfire that shattered most of the windows in Steve's truck and spiderwebbed the windshield.

"Put your weapons down and come quietly!" Danny tried.

"Go to hell!"

Kono ducked and made her way to the end of the cab, using the frame as cover while she fired off two shots over the edge of the box. One sounded like it hit a wall and the other produced a yell.

"Put your weapons down," said Danny, "or the next one'll hurt more!" He staggered over to the passenger door, squinting through the hole where the window used to be. That was probably Dave McDonnell over there, clutching his bicep with his other hand.

"All right," McDonnell said tiredly, "all right."

Danny saw him put down another AK on the floor. "Kick it over toward the truck," he instructed.

Kono covered McDonnell from behind the truck box as Danny watched him kick the gun across the room; it made a hissing sound as it travelled over the floor.

"Hands behind your head, kneel on the floor," Danny instructed.

McDonnell complied and Kono made her way over to subdue and cuff him. Danny limped around the front of the truck, stooping painfully to pick up McDonnell's machine gun and leaning heavily on his cane as he crossed the warehouse.

"Where is my partner?" he asked.

McDonnell groaned into the floor.

"I've had a long day," said Danny, "and if you don't answer the question I am going to look the other way and put my fingers in my ears while she shoots you again."

"Behind me, office," McDonnell blurted.

Danny felt almost sorry for this guy; he clearly was not cut out for a life of crime. Danny handed off the machine gun to Kono.

"You want me to back you up?"

"I got this, babe," he said tiredly. "Cover my six."

"Yes, sir," she answered, sounding entertained.

He tried the door; it was locked. "Actually," he said, "you can kick in this door for me."

"Thought you'd never ask," said Kono, walking past him to slam her foot into the door just below the knob. It burst open and crashed into the wall beside; Danny shifted his weight to his good leg and brought his weapon up as he shuffled into the doorway. The office was just another big, concrete-floored room stuffed with some desks and filing cabinets; at the far end was Steve, tied to a chair, banged-up and barely conscious. Sean Choi and another guy stood over him, frozen in place and staring at Danny.

"Five-0," Danny barked. "Hands where I can see 'em."

Both men raised their hands slowly.

"Put your guns on the ground and kick them over to me."

"We--we're not armed," said Choi.

"On the floor, hands behind your heads," said Danny, hearing some of the rage and frustration in his own voice as he painfully made his way into the office.

They hit the floor with their hands on the backs of their heads as Steve blinked up at Danny. He grunted around the duct tape that covered his mouth.

"You can thank me later," advised Danny as Kono came into the room, dragging McDonnell at her side, and helped Danny cuff and Mirandize Choi and the other one. Danny could hear HPD outside, ready to take their gift-wrapped drug dealers into custody.

And thus, Steve had totally fucked up a potential bust of a huge operation by getting his stupid ass kidnapped by a couple of pawns. Danny made a frustrated noise and ripped the tape off of Steve's face.

"Fffuck me!" Steve snarled when his lips were freed. "Jesus Christ, Danno, could you fucking watch it?"

"Blow me, McGarrett," said Danny. "I could slap you right now. You know how much my knee hurts? It's all your fucking fault."

Steve was making the Aneurysm Face with a side of Remember, I Am Mentally Unbalanced. "My fault? I'm tied to a goddamn chair!"

"Because you are constitutionally incapable of waiting for fucking backup before you go and do something completely moronic!"

"I was just going to talk to some people!"

"People who we just discussed yesterday were potentially eyeball-deep in this operation! How did you survive the fucking military with instincts like that?" Danny vaguely heard Kono saying his name from somewhere in the background, probably trying to get him to back off, but his rage was venting like a volcano; it was too late to stop the eruption now.

"Get me out of this chair so I can strangle you," Steve hissed.

"I like you better in one place, so I won't miss when I beat you to death with my cane," Danny hissed back. "I'm handicapped and you have to make some allowances."

"Okay," said Kono in Danny's ear, grabbing him by the shoulders and hauling him away from Steve. She shoved him against a desk and took away his cane for good measure, which was totally unfair. Meanwhile, an EMT had sneaked past to cut Steve out of the chair.

"You're interfering with the natural order of things, Rookie," Danny bitched.

"We didn't save the princess just so you could kill her yourself."

"Princess?" Steve sputtered; the EMT was trying to drag him away from the scene.

"I never liked Mario much anyway," said Danny. "Now I know why. Princess Toadstool was a high-maintenance, thankless fucking tease."

Kono slung an arm over his shoulders and ruffled his hair. "Let's get that knee checked and then get you home or to a bar. Your choice."

"Bar," said Danny, rubbing at his eyes. "Definitely a bar."

"Up," she commanded, hauling him off of the desk. She handed him his cane for his free hand and they made their way to the door like some kind of demented three-legged race.

"You did good today," Danny remembered to say as they reached the doorway to the warehouse. He caught sight of Steve staring hopelessly at his shot-up truck and felt a little better about life.

"You too," said Kono. "We make a good team."

"Well," said Danny, "who else around here is going to be competent and professional, sometimes?"

They thoughtfully watched Steve struggle against two EMTs who were trying to drag him out to an ambulance to be patched up.

"I think I hear a bottle of tequila calling our names," said Kono.