MONDAY, JUNE 24TH - HAWAII (EVENING)
Grace had left with Kamekona after Danny had finally eaten a light tray of food. She had been dozing tiredly and it was all Danny could do at the time to keep his eyes open long enough to force down the small rations before he too fell asleep. Their visit had been a perfect balm and while neither wanted to part ways, they were both equally exhausted. During that time, Max and Rachel had shown up to join the growing group of people that were slowly taking over the room. The Medical Examiner had been thrilled to participate in what he called his first "covert operation". He "delivered Mrs. Edwards safely" after meeting secretly at the library where he was proud to show off his bright yellow Camaro.
"Not exactly an undercover vehicle. As you can see the sheer color would be rather conspicuous and would never satisfy such a need. But, therein too lies the beauty of using this car. No one would ever expect someone such as yourself to actually be hidden so carefully inside."
He then waxed on about its near identical nature to her ex-husband's silver model minus the requisite official police bells and whistles. Rachel had been rendered speechless first by the almost mirror-image of Danny's car and then by Max's ceaseless conversation. She was laughing by the time he had assured Kono, Chin and Steve that he'd out-manuevered any possibility of ever being tailed by any number of "prospective perpetrators".
They all stayed longer than they really should and Rachel left with Max a few minutes after Kamekona. This time, they would reunite mother and daughter at the library and Rachel promised to call Steve once they arrived home safely.
When he woke a few short hours later, Danny was surprised to see only Steve in the now very peaceful room. "I thought you were going to see Denning?" Still tired, he yawned while checking the time and frowned when he saw it was so late.
"It's eight o'clock. I thought you were all meeting now?"
"It's become an early breakfast meeting. Denning had an urgent matter and we were pushed back. It just gives us more time to chase down more leads and be better prepared." Steve hadn't mentioned all of the information that Kono had found out about Brian McNamara. There hadn't been enough time before or after Rachel and Max showed up to discuss what would have become a much too involved conversation.
"So, who is this guy?" Thumbing the head of the bed higher, Danny was coming awake and more than interested to hear about Sneakers Two or whomever this "Mac" might be. "Why or how is he associated to the trial?"
"His name is Brian McNamara. He's part of the prosecution team and reports up through the ranks to Alistair Landon, the lead prosecutor." Steve pulled out his phone and showed Danny the few photos he had downloaded from Kono's device. They had all agreed to keep him informed, but what happened next was completely unexpected as Danny took the phone and paged through the different images.
"McNamara has prepared the case-work specific to the racketeering charges. You recognize him and Channing is copping a deal that implicates him as one of your kidnappers. There's also a major gap in his recent travel history and we got him on that. Chin received the manifest from the two commercial flights that left Samoa on Sunday." He was happy and looking at the images as Danny continued to page backwards and forwards reviewing them over and over again.
"He was on the second flight out and landed at Honolulu International yesterday evening. We need to wait for Denning on this change of venue so we don't jeopardize the trial or the standing charges against Darien. The fact that he is a member of the prosecution team is extremely damaging as you can imagine. But once we get that okay and can avoid a media splash, we're bringing him in."
There was no response though and Steve finally looked and really saw Danny's face. He shifted right in front of him. He had been fine with the initial verbal update but when he saw McNamara's pictures and soaked in the man's posture, thick hands and broad muscular shoulders, he shifted and changed in an alarming manner.
"Don't," Steve abruptly took the phone away and then gripped his right hand so hard that it hurt, but he didn't entirely understand. "Danny?"
Danny's face had closed off to become distant and brooding; seconds later he had shut his eyes and seemingly retreated into his silent zone. Tied to a chair or tossed in a room with the man, he'd always been defenseless and for some reason, he felt that way now even though Sneakers Two - Mac - Brian McNamara, Esquire - had been identified and was near to being arrested.
With a dark regret he realized how similar the feelings were to the New Jersey operation where he'd been slapped around more than a few times and his partner, Grace Tillwell, had been murdered right in front of him. Emotions were as high and mixed as remembered pain. Anger and hate mixed with fear, regret and loss. Held against his will and effectively, completely incapacitated. Beaten down without hesitation, the aftermath of which always resulted in some kind of tragic ending. Eyes closed, Danny palmed his forehead and felt his own heated sweat rolling down his face.
Everything came back and it was too fast.
Rick Peterson. "It's up to you, D." Hassan Farouk. A narrow red beam of light. Steve's voice as if from a long ago, past tunnel. "It's a proximity sensor ... bomb ... detonate ... you and me are both going to die."
Trapped and unable to move in an entirely different way. His stomach twisted and he coughed raggedly at another memory he wouldn't mind disposing of. Permanently. Gladly. He had buried some of the "bad" too within his determination to hold sacred the good.
"Monkey." Those things were all wrapped around Grace in some way or another and perhaps that was the problem.
Upset with the remnants of the old bitter memories, he barely heard Steve's voice as he drilled the palm of his hand into the space between his eye.
Friday, June 14th. They'd been waiting to ambush him and they did it with a startling skill Even though he thought he had been duly careful. With a gun to his head and blood already smearing his face, he'd been forced to drive to a remote parking lot Where someone else waited. There had been a violent scuffle in the car ... he had taken a desperate chance to escape ... but something had connected with his head, then his face. Again and again until he could barely breathe. He remembered pain and then glimpses of blood on the dashboard. It dripped down his shirt and then to the Camaro's console where it smeared as they physically hauled him out by his arms and legs.
"Danny. What's wrong? With the proof that Chin has, we'll have him in no time once Denning gives the all-clear."
"Father's Day. Danny, this is a dumb question and it's last minute ... I know the answer already!" Rachel laughed heartily and the sound still made him smile. "Would you like to switch weekends? Grace wants to be with you for Father's Day and well, she should be. Can you take her to school on Friday...?"
"It's always the same." The strangled coughed words Steve received in return caught him by surprise. "Borrowed time."
He was standing next to the bed when he forcibly peeled Danny's right hand from his face. Danny's eyes were still closed and he certainly wasn't listening to anything Steve had just said about Chin or McNamara, though McNamara certainly was the trigger for the extreme response. Steve glanced over his shoulder towards the open door to the hospital corridor. A small group of people had walked by and had looked questioningly at the two HPD officers standing guard. Their combined disagreeable expressions quickly moved the group on.
He expected Ramirez or a nurse as the readings on the monitors changed. Seconds later, the doctor did arrive with a look of concern. He saw the stress immediately and realized his patient was deep in a memory and lifted his hand to signal he would wait to see what would happen as he monitored the machines.
"Try to get him through it." Ramirez advised.
"Danny?" Leaning down, Steve whispered urgently to focus his friend. The fever had climbed slightly and Danny's face was flushed as he swallowed hard and mumbled something else he couldn't quite hear. But the complaint about borrowed time was almost frightening. "Danny, where are you right now?"
"Huh?' The reply took much longer than he would have liked and Danny's eyes were unfocused and even a bit haunted when he finally opened them. He was miles and maybe years away as Steve tried again.
"Hey. What's going on? What did McNamara do, Danny." Steve was seconds from allowing Ponch to step in until Danny made a stronger effort to focus.
"What?" Once more, he hadn't really heard more than Steve's voice and was confused by the worry he was confronted with when his vision cleared. So confused, he said the first thing that lamely popped into his mind before yanking his hand out of Steve's grasp.
The anger that settled on Steve's face at the automatically stated words was sudden and very real as he turned past a startled Ponch to close the hospital room door. Fine was the farthest thing that Danny actually was. Steve refused to be mollified by a repeat of the now defensive short statement. The haunted look had flitted through Danny's eyes and he correctly guessed some of the truth.
Ponch's mouth dropped open at Steve's first blunt question.
"What happened that morning? We only found the Camaro abandoned in a lot through the GPS signal."
"I don't remember." Danny's hand buried itself in the bedding as he paled under fevered cheeks.
The burly man had come up on him early that morning just as he was opening the door to his car to slide in behind the wheel. The first blow to his head caught him by surprise and was meant to stun as his temple ricocheted off the door frame nearest the roof. The second man appeared on the passenger side and he was forced to drive regardless of the blood streaming down his cheek. The first thing he thought of was Grace. He was going to be late picking her up for school. Grace would be late. He was late.
"Yes. You do. So spit it out, Daniel." This was Steve the "benevolent dictator". The one who refused to take any answer except the one he demanded to hear. In this case, it was the absolute truth about Danny's abduction that fateful day. He was almost cruel as his eyes bore holes through Danny's face.
"You remember. Friday, June 14th. D. Day," Steve made his demand and then waited after a one-sided heated tirade of his own. He could see that Danny distinctly recalled it as well. The doctor was actively listening and monitoring the heart monitor simultaneously. He bit back a disagreeable sound as he watched certain readings rise but not too dangerously. As yet.
"That was the note and that was the day you went missing. But we didn't know until later that morning when you didn't show up at the Edwards' house to pick up Gracie for school. Rachel had swapped weekends for you ... for Father's Day. What happened and what did Brian McNamara do?"
Ponch's hand settled warningly on Steve's shoulder and he felt the tension there too. He could easily see that Danny was working through a larger issue; he could feel Steve's general reluctance to go there but there was an air of importance.
The three waited silently with two sets of eyes gauging, weighing and measuring the well-being of the third.
It took one added moment of long silence while Danny stared at Steve and then he told him what he remembered. The words spilled out all at once. There were understandable gaps in time. But he told him every detail he could remember of the hooded men, their combined power and well-laid out plan. How Mac and Channing were the two assigned kidnappers and how they picked up Madison in the remote parking lot. That fact was so obvious now.
He described his attempted escape in the lot and his subsequent failure. Beaten unconscious, he woke hours later in a bright room, completely restrained. And then forcibly injected with the first round of strong sedatives, because they didn't stay there long.
"It's how they moved me," Danny explained the obvious and the reason he had practically nothing to offer about places or people. "Whenever they wanted or needed to. That was Madison's job.'
Steve scrubbed his face and then his eyes with both hands. So hard, he saw a smattering of dancing sparkling lights through a ring of black before his vision cleared. A far away look was plastered across Danny's face but it was entirely different now as he pieced together what he remembered.
The doctor had backed discreetly into a corner. Ever watchful, he was stunned by the out pouring as Danny spoke and described details he would never think to store away.
The next location was equally dismal but it was obviously night and it smelled different. It smelled wrong but he couldn't exactly explain why or how. The sedatives were administered whenever he was to be moved and it was often. This one place though was where he met Sneakers Two for his first private one-on-one session. Hours blurred and the one on one fight sessions added to the confusing swirl of pain and soon there was no day or night. The only thing that had become important was continuing to breathe with the hope of finding or creating one special avenue to escape.
"I never actually saw their faces, but I saw them and learned them. I learned Mac first and much too well. But Madison always brought the drugs ... always," Danny was barely speaking again and his eyes had dropped to a vacant spot on the floor. Steve gave him another stern shake to prevent another break and to keep him talking.
His glance towards Ponch was returned with a continued, watchful approval. If he administered a sedative it would only be to encourage a gentle rest since Danny naturally quieted. With his energy nearly depleted, Danny lay limply in the pillows as his hand waved through the air to explain his worst fears.
"I almost forgot her. I almost forgot her voice, her laugh and the way her eyes light up at the silliest thing. I almost forgot everything good and I couldn't let that happen," Danny closed his eyes and tried not to relive the feel of his rib being broken by one very well-aimed and deliberate blow.
"I'm sorry, Danno. We weren't smart enough." Anger was now sadness with a great dose of personal guilt as Steve layered another blanket across Danny's legs. He knew it wasn't only McNamara. Frank Madison had also done a significant amount of damage. Each one would pay though. They would pay over and over again until Steve might feel satisfied.
"It shouldn't have happened and we made a mistake. I made a mistake, and then it was too late. We looked everywhere we possibly could. We tore apart every single piece of this island from top to bottom, and then we started over again."
"We couldn't find you because we were looking in the wrong, damned places." The self-recrimination never left Steve's eyes as Danny tried to aim what was supposed to be a very severe finger in his direction. It failed miserably as his hand fell tiredly to his chest but even without the added dramatic effects, he still managed to make his point.
"If I didn't know where I was, then how could you?"
He tried to understand and then he tried to agree, but Steve couldn't get all the way there. As far as he was concerned, what happened to Danny never should have been in the first place. When it came to finding him, if not for the man himself, Danny would have been lost to them - and to Grace - entirely.
Steve paced around the bed as Danny watched him through heavy-lidded eyes. Overall, the visit with Grace and the rest of their family had done him and his daughter so much good.
The verdict was out on if discussing Brian McNamara had been wise though because they were both out of words and emotionally drained. Steve leaned on the lower frame of the bed and hung his head for a moment in an attempt to settle his nerves. When he looked up, Danny was struggling to stay awake and the doctor was silently sneaking out the door. With that as proof of answer, Steve forced himself to relax.
"Get some rest, Danno. We got this." There was the smallest of grins in reply and then one short sentence that Steve heard before Danny did just that.
"I know you do."
It was so simple and yet it bolstered him again. It was completely satisfying. Where Steve might not have agreed before, he certainly did now.