Steve paced in the waiting room. On each pass, he stopped in front of the emergency room doors. He kept asking himself, how had everything gone so wrong so fast? He still hadn’t come up with an answer.
It wasn’t the first time that questioning a witness or possible suspect had turned violent, but nothing had pointed to the fact that Johnny Baker would take that route. He had no record, and at the time they had gone to talk to him, he was only a person of interest in Layla Keoni’s murder.
Steve ran his hand through his hair and then down his face. He needed to find Baker, but he couldn’t bring himself to leave the hospital. He couldn’t relax, no matter how hard he tried. Unfortunately, all he could do was wait, and hope that Danny would be okay.
2 hours earlier
Steve pulled the Camaro up to the small trailer at the entrance to the construction site. The homes, which would soon be known as Rainforest Estates, were in various states of completion. Steve found it odd that there didn’t seem to be anyone around, and no work being done. There was only one vehicle parked by the trailer. It was Johnny Baker’s Ford F-150.
Steve got out of the car, and saw Danny looking at him across the roof.
“I feel like I’ve walked into a scene from a movie,” Danny stated as he turned and looked at the unfinished houses.
“Nothing… let’s just get this over with.”
Danny walked to the trunk and pulled out the vests, but Steve made no move to take his.
“Danny, we’re just questioning the guy.”
“Just humor me, okay… Something just feels off.”
“Okay…” Steve reached out and grabbed his vest and put it on, fastening it into place.
They walked up the steps to the door of the trailer, and Steve knocked.
“It’s open,” they heard someone yell from inside.
Steve and Danny shared a look, and then Steve turned the knob and opened the door. They walked into the small office. Baker was sitting at the desk facing the door, typing something on the laptop in front of him.
“Yeah, that’s me. Who’s asking?”
“I’m Detective Danny Williams, and this is Lt. Commander Steve McGarrett; Five-0. We have some questions.”
Steve looked over at Danny to see if he also noticed the surprised look on Baker’s face. It was obvious that he had, but by the time Steve looked back, Baker had schooled his features.
“Um… okay. Is this about Layla?”
“As a matter of fact, it is. When was the last time you saw her?”
“Uh… I think it was Tuesday night. We had dinner and she left around ten.”
“You didn’t talk to her at all after that?”
“I… um… I tried calling her Wednesday afternoon, but her phone just went to voicemail.”
Steve jumped in. “Was that normal?”
“W… what do you mean?”
“Was it normal for her not to answer her phone?”
“So, what, you just ignored the fact she wasn’t answering her phone? You didn’t try to find out what was wrong?”
“What? I was busy… I…”
Danny put his hand on Steve’s arm and looked him in the eyes. “Babe… take it easy.” He then turned back to Baker and took over the questions.
“Sorry. My friend here can be a Neanderthal sometimes.”
Baker didn’t say anything.
“Look, we’re just trying to figure out what happened to Layla between Tuesday night and when her body was found Thursday morning.”
“I know… and I’ve already told you everything. We had dinner Tuesday night and that was the last time I saw or talked to her. I swear.” He stood up from his chair suddenly on the last word. His eyes were wild. To Steve, he looked like he was about to run.
“Whoa, hey. Calm down.”
It didn’t matter. The kid was spooked. Before Steve or Danny could react, Baker was running out the back door.
“Damnit! Why do they always run?” Danny asked as they took off out the back door.
They made it down the steps just in time to see Baker disappear into one of the unfinished homes.
“Danny, take the back. I’ll go in the front.”
Steve watched as Danny made his way toward the back of the house. He pulled his gun and then turned and made his way to the front door. There was no door knob or lock, so he pushed the door open and cleared the front room. The walls that separated the front room from the dining room and kitchen areas in the back were unfinished.
Steve could see Danny making his way through the partially finished kitchen, and their eyes met. Steve pointed at himself and then up the stairs. Danny nodded and then made his way toward the garage.
Steve made his way up the stairs to the second floor. Most of the walls were finished, but there were no doors, so he made quick work of clearing each room. It became obvious rather quickly that Baker was not upstairs; which meant there was only one other place he could be.
He heard Danny’s voice, but it was slightly muffled. He turned and headed back down the hallway and to the stairs. As he reached the top he heard a loud crash and then some muffled curses.
Steve ran down the stairs, skipped the last several, and ran to the garage. He pushed through the plastic hanging over the doorway just in time to see Danny fall onto what was left of a worktable and Baker drop what looked like a large nail gun. Steve watched as Baker bent down to pick something up off the floor.
“Freeze!” Steve yelled, pointing his gun at Baker’s back. “Turn around slowly and put your hands behind your head.”
Baker turned, but instead of putting his hands behind his head, he pointed Danny’s dropped gun at Steve.
“Put the gun down, Johnny.” Steve could tell the kid was spooked.
Baker started to back away toward the plastic covered wall where the garage door would eventually be. He kept the gun pointed at Steve.
“No! It’s too late… I didn’t mean…” He pulled the trigger.
The shot went wide and missed Steve by about a foot, but Steve’s accompanying shot hit Baker in the right shoulder. He dropped the gun, and nearly fell, but he was able to keep his footing and he turned and took off through the plastic wall.
Steve didn’t think twice about not following him. He rushed over to where Danny was laying and dropped to his knees next to him. He placed his fingers on Danny’s neck and sighed in relief as he found a pulse. It was a little quicker than it should have been, though.
He checked Danny over for injuries, and found three nails sticking out of the vest just below his left arm. It was obvious that they had penetrated the vest and Danny’s skin, but he couldn’t tell how deep.
Steve pulled out his phone and called 911. He informed them that the suspect was at-large and that he would need HPD and paramedics at the scene. After hanging up the phone, he heard Danny groan.
“Danny! Open your eyes!”
Danny’s eyes flew open as he tried to take a deep breath. Steve could see him struggling for air, and there wasn’t anything he could do to help.
Danny’s eyes finally focused as he looked up into Steve’s eyes. He started trying to unfasten his vest. “Can’t breathe…”
Steve grabbed Danny’s hands. “We can’t take it off, Danny. He shot you with a nail gun. I can’t tell how deep they are.”
Steve saw the moment that realization hit Danny and he tried to speak. Danny was wracked by coughs and all Steve could do was to try and comfort him. Then Danny closed his eyes again.
“Open your eyes, Danno! Help’s on the way, just open your eyes for me.”
Danny was finally able to get some air into his lungs, but it was obviously getting harder.
“Don’t worry about that right now. Just concentrate on breathing.”
“I remember… the movie.”
“Well, movies… Lethal Weapon 3… and 2… except in reverse…” Danny smiled and then closed his eyes again.
“Danny! Come on, babe, don’t do this.”
Steve checked his pulse again, finding it was weaker than before. That’s when he noticed the blood pooling underneath him. The coughing must have caused the nails to move and the wounds opened more. Danny’s breathing was also very shallow.
“Damnit, Danny! Please, just hang on.”
The paramedics arrived moments later. Steve wanted to stay with Danny, but he knew he’d be in the way. He stood to the side and watched as they got Danny ready to move to the ambulance.
“Are you coming?”
“No… I can’t… Go, if he wakes, tell him I’ll see him soon.”
That was hard for him to do, but he had to make sure that HPD knew the situation and Baker was found. He watched as the ambulance left and turned when he heard a familiar voice.
“Report of shots fired; an officer down. We knew as soon as they reported the location. Is he okay?”
“I don’t know. Baker ran. I didn’t see what happened but I found him standing over Danny. He shot him with a nail gun…” He ran his hand through his hair and then down his face.
Kono gasped. Chin remained calm, at least on the outside.
“Baker took a shot at me with Danny’s gun. I got him in the shoulder before he took off.”
Steve’s mind was reeling, and all he wanted to do was get to the hospital.
Kono put her hand on Steve’s shoulder. “Come on, I’m driving.”
“I need to…”
“Go! I’ll take care of things here. They’ll understand. We’ll get a statement later.”
Chin turned and walked toward the scene. Kono grabbed Steve’s arm.
When they got back to the Camaro, Steve pulled out the keys and walked around to the driver’s side.
“You’re in no condition to drive. Hand ‘em over.”
“I’ll make sure to tell that to Danny after you wrap his car around a tree.”
Steve deflated. “Fine.”
He handed her the keys and they left the construction site. The drive was unbearably quiet, but neither of them could bring themselves to say anything.
“Steve, please come sit down.”
“I can’t… I need to be doing something, and I’m not leaving the hospital.”
“You’re scaring everyone. You look like you’re about to storm the ER.”
Steve turned and walked back over to the seats and stood in front of Kono, but he didn’t sit down.
“He told me something felt off. It was his idea to wear the vests.” He hesitated before continuing. “I pushed Baker, and he got spooked. If I hadn’t…”
He was interrupted by the emergency room doors opening and a doctor walking toward them.
“Sorry to keep you guys waiting.”
“How is he, Doc?”
“I’m not gonna lie. It was rough going at first. Two of the nails punctured the lung, the other impacted the rib. He lost a lot of blood. It’s taken us some time to get him stable enough for surgery. He’s on his way up now. It will probably take a few hours, depending on what we find.”
Steve cleared his throat, finding it hard to speak. “Will he be okay?”
“If there are no complications, then I don’t see why he wouldn’t make a full recovery. We’ll just have to wait and see. Now, I really need to get going. You can go on up to the surgical waiting room. I’ll send a nurse in to let you know how things are going and when the surgery is done.”
“Thank you, Doc.”
Kono led the way as she and Steve went up to the surgical waiting room. For the first time since they arrived at the hospital, he finally sat down. Kono sat down next to him and put her arm around his shoulders.
“He’s going to be fine.”
Steve nodded, unable to speak. He was doing his best to rein in his emotions. Deep down, he knew it would be okay to let go, if just a little bit, but he just couldn’t. Not yet.
“I’m going to call Chin. I’ll be right back.”
Steve watched as she left the room. He then put his head in his hands and waited.
Three hours later Steve, Kono, and Chin were greeted by the doctor. They all stood.
“He’s fine. The surgery went well. His BP is still a little low and he’s running a slight fever, but he is stable and we’re monitoring him closely. He’s breathing on his own.”
“So, he’s going to be okay?”
“Yes, Steve. Barring any unforeseen complications, he should make a full recovery.”
For the first time in hours, Steve visibly relaxed. “Thank you so much, Doc. Can we see him?”
“He was just moved into the ICU. I want to keep him there overnight, to keep a close eye on his blood pressure and fever. I can only allow one person at a time, but if all is well in the morning, we’ll move him into a private room and you can all see him at once.”
Chin turned to Steve. “You go on and stay with him. We’ll see him tomorrow.”
“Are you sure you don’t want to go in and see him first?”
“Yeah, Boss. We still have to find Baker.”
“Okay. Keep me in the loop. When he’s found, I need to have a talk with him.”
“Sure thing. Tell Danny we’ll see him tomorrow.”
“I will. Watch yourselves. He’s hurt and on the edge. No telling what he’ll do.”
“No worries. See ya tomorrow.”
Kono and Chin each gave Steve a hug, and then they left the room. Steve turned and walked toward the ICU. The doctor met him just outside the door to Danny’s room.
“I want to warn you before we go in. He’s got quite a bit of bruising, not just around the wounds but also on his face and arms.”
“I didn’t see what happened, but I know he fought Baker before…”
“Okay. I just didn’t want you to be surprised.”
“Thanks. I just want to see him.”
The doctor opened the door and they walked in. “I’ll leave you alone. I’ll be back in a few hours to see how he’s doing.”
Steve walked to the bed and looked down at his partner. His left eye was blackened and swollen. There were bruises on his forearms. Then there was the large bandage over his left side. There were bruises peeking out from the edges. He looked so pale.
Steve sat in the chair next to the bed, and again he waited.
Danny slept through the night and well into the next morning. When he was moved to a private room, he was totally oblivious. The doctor continued to assure Steve that rest was the best thing for him. “He’ll wake up when he’s ready.”
It was a few minutes before noon when Steve heard a groan coming from the bed. He squeezed Danny’s hand.
Danny slowly opened his eyes. He blinked a few times to clear his vision.
“Hey.” Steve smiled. “How are you feeling?”
“Yeah… it will. You had surgery, but you’re okay now.”
“I can’t believe he shot me with a nail gun.”
“You know… if you’d really been in a Lethal Weapon movie, you would have been the one shooting him with the nail gun.”
“Isn’t that what I said when… wait, how long have I been in here?”
“You were brought in at around 2:30 yesterday afternoon.”
“Babe, what do you have to be sorry for?”
“I spooked him. If I hadn’t have pressured him like I did, he wouldn’t have run, and you wouldn’t have gotten hurt.”
“Stop that right now. If anything, my getting hurt is my own fault. He took me by surprise. That should never have happened.”
Steve went to speak, but was interrupted by the door opening. Chin and Kono walked in, looking well rested.
“Hey, brah. You look like crap.”
“Thanks, brother. You’re all heart.”
“We’ve got some news. Not sure if you’ll like it though.”
“Out with it, Kono,” Steve said.
“HPD found Johnny Baker dead in a hotel room a few miles from the construction site. He’d bled to death from the gunshot wound.”
“You shot him?” Danny asked.
“Yeah, he tried to shoot me with your gun. I didn’t have a choice. I hit him in the shoulder. I didn’t think it was that bad since he was able to run out of there so quickly.”
“Did he say anything before he took off? Anything that would suggest he killed Layla?” Chin asked him.
“He did say that it was too late and that he didn’t mean… something. He never finished the thought. I don’t think he would have run if he didn’t have something to hide.”
“I think you’re right. It’s a pretty safe bet that he’s the one that killed Layla. I just wish we had more definitive proof.”
“Well, we’ll leave you two alone. We’ll drop by around six, bring you some dinner.”
Steve hadn’t noticed, but while they had been talking, Danny had fallen back asleep. Steve smiled down at him.
“Thanks… that sounds great.”
Kono leaned down and placed a kiss on Danny’s forehead before leaving the room, Chin right behind her.
Steve finally, after all the hours of waiting, was able to truly relax. He lowered the rails on the right side of Danny’s bed and squeezed his hand. He then laid his head down and it wasn’t long before he followed Danny into a restful slumber.