Storm Ravaged

Chapter 19


Steve moved the nurse quickly away from the doorway to the cafeteria before she could say another word. The HPD officer followed automatically and then helped to steady her when she tripped. He ignored her annoyed, soft curse and allowed her to pull free only when they were well enough away and out of ear shot.

"What was that for?" She complained with her hand against the wall for support. The officer was equally confused by Steve's reaction as he retraced their steps a short distance back to the cafeteria and waited to see if McNamara might follow. Through the open doors, he could see the tell-tale blocky shadow depart through the far exit which would take the man to the parking lot.

Only then did he return his attention to the two people who had obviously searched for him through the halls of the hospital. The nurse was almost defensive with him and waiting for an explanation or at least, an apology. Instead he put his hands on his hips and forced himself to breathe normally versus in time to his adrenalin-ridden heartbeat.

"What's wrong?" Steve asked while multi-tasking in his head and mulling over the confrontation with Brian McNamara. He hadn't thought his actions through and wound up taking a chance. The end result was that the situation had become even more sticky but he was sure now that the lawyer had no idea of a number of things. Channing, Madison, and Danny were no longer on the man's radar. He was cocky, self-assured and evidently not even listening to or aware of the rumors related to the change in venue. In terms of himself, Steve was somewhat taken aback by the man's impressive stature ... in person, McNamara was a very physical, virile man. He was someone you noticed; an athlete who carried himself well and expected to win. He had evidently invited trouble to himself that night and then had liked it.

In just a few short hours, they were set to meet with Denning, the judge would hasten his right to invoke Suo sponte but Steve didn't want to wait that long. While he learned much, he knew that he'd also planted an odd seed in the man's own head. The plain fact was that he actually couldn't afford to wait that long and he was practically glaring at the nurse even though he feared her news was about Danny. He never expected to be tracked down to the cafeteria in the middle of the night by a nurse and an HPD officer.

"Is it Danny? What happened? I just left him a few minutes ago and he was sleeping," Steve included the accompanying HPD Officer in his questioning and then realized the man wasn't of the pair guarding his partner's room. With Channing essentially bedridden, only one officer had been assigned to the criminal's detail until he was to be moved the next afternoon. He stared at the man in annoyance wondering why he'd be away from his assigned post ... with a bloody, fat lip. In fact, both people were rumpled and upset. Before he could ask, the officer was explaining the problem.

"No, it's not Detective Williams ... this has to do with Pete Channing." Answering for the nurse, the officer was embarrassed and nervous as he dabbed at his mouth. "Channing was being assisted to the bathroom when he tried to pull a fast one. We weren't exactly ready for him to try anything with that bum leg of his."

It was then that Steve noticed the nurse had a bruising lump on her forehead and the officer had his weapon, but the holster was unsnapped. "How far did he get?" Steve growled at the man.

"Not very." At those words, the nurse rolled her eyes and then winced since the move aggravated her escalating headache. "It's what happened when he tried."

No alarms had been raised and the halls were still quiet in the dark of night, so Steve knew that no shots had been fired and the man was still in custody. However, based on the officer's mussed clothing, aggravated self-effacing expression, bruised face and his holster it might have been too close. It added to the drama of the nurse's own fairly minor but quite colorful bump.

"He got to the top of the stairwell and then slipped," the nurse continued in a disgusted tone because the HPD officer had been walking the hallway and visiting at the nurse's station. He'd gotten bored and complacent, then even annoyed when he had to return to uncuff Channing from the bedrail. He was on Channing's good side and not paying much attention when the criminal fisted the loose piece of the metal cuff into his mouth. The metal cut his lip, nicked a tooth while the force had been enough to stun him.

He had fallen to his knee just as Channing pulled the nurse into a choke-hold after a failed attempt to acquire the officer's gun. On the second floor of the hospital, he had seen the stairwell across from his room that very day as he either used a wheelchair or his newly acquired crutches for brief ventures out of bed. Through the window, the green grass and packed parking lot of cars beckoned much too strongly.

Channing was scheduled to be moved to jail the next afternoon and he personally objected to the concept. With one chance left, he had desperately tried to take it when the least amount of people might be out and about. He was holding a fork to the nurse's neck as he edged past the officer. With a stunningly swift move, he had gained enough ground to shove the nurse into his arms. She had fallen sideways and banged her head on the door jamb with the officer momentarily trapped under her upper body.

With one crutch and sickeningly pale from the pain, Channing had miraculously made it to the stairwell. He had opened the door towards his first step towards escape and freedom, and then had slipped on the upper landing.

"It's both our faults actually," the nurse admitted because she too hadn't been on her toes. "He's being prepped for emergency surgery. This time, the damage to his knee is quite severe and he's sustained a concussion."

"That's it?' Steve almost laughed in relief. His level of stress fell back into a more reasonable range based on his selfish concern for Danny's welfare versus that of one of the three criminals. "That's it ... he tried to run and now he's in surgery?"

"Yes, sir," the officer added apologetically. "It will jeopardize when he can be moved and I don't know what the intentions were for his participation in the trial. If any ... but ... now."

With a wave of his hand, Steve turned to leave before spinning back and aiming a finger at the confused HPD Officer. "Don't let this happen again. Understood? You're to stay within five feet of him beginning now and until I say you're relieved of that duty. Five feet."

"Pete Channing is your personal responsibility until further notice." Steve took a few steps closer to read the man's name tag. "Paleo. Five feet at all times. No excuses."

The officer ran his hand through his hair before fastening the clip to his holster. He took Steve's demand quite literally and didn't understand how he could be so close to the criminal based on the current circumstances. His comment made the Five-0 Commander laugh wryly and he completely reddened at that point.

"But, sir. He's in surgery and then will be in recovery for hours."

"I said no excuses." His words became a serious threat as Steve pulled out his cellphone and pointed it as if a weapon. "I suggest you find a way to improvise."

He began to walk away for second time and then stopped to rattle Paleo with yet another order. "While you wait, call HPD and find out if any brawls, fights or muggings were reported tonight downtown particularly near any gyms. I want to know of any that involved haole's. Get me whatever you find out within the hour."

The nurse watched the two men part ways. Paleo was frustrated and beating himself up for his lack of vigilance. The other was doing the same as the weight of Channing, his partner and the trial settled on his shoulders. Rubbing the ache in her head, she walked briskly to catch up to Steve.

"Excuse me, sir?" Steve sighed resentfully when she grabbed his arm. Before the number he had just dialed could connect, he hit the cancel button on his cell phone. He had things to do in order to keep a better eye on McNamara and talking to the nurse wasn't on the agenda. He also was far from presentable for the pending meeting with the Governor. Before he could ask what she wanted, she was drawing attention to his own pale complexion.

"You look like you're next for a hospital bed."

He stared at her in surprise and blinked when his eyes wouldn't focus on her name tag. To help him out, she introduced herself and got to the point. "Christina Hahn. Do you ever go home or take a break for yourself?"

"I was just doing that when you stopped me." It wasn't exactly the truth as Steve raised an eyebrow at her forthright words. He waggled the bottle of juice in her face and was almost sarcastic until he noticed the trace of pain in her eyes.

"Juice. Cafeteria. Breaking. What about you? He nodded towards the bruise on her temple. "That must hurt."

"It does. I have a headache," Christina agreed and then pulled her car keys from her pocket. "He's not the first patient that taught me a lesson or two. I'm fine but I'm being sent home for the rest of my shift. My opinion is that you should do the same before someone checks you in for a few days. I know you have extra security, and no one is going to get in here to do anything."

Christina meant to soothe him, instead her words made him mad. "One just did." Steve's eyes hardened as he pointed towards the cafeteria where Brian McNamara had just paid and left for his car. Still much too free and potentially without a single care in the world. Steve more than resented needing to allow the lawyer the continued right to walk especially when he had shown up where least expected.

"That man is dangerous and it isn't long for his freedom to come to an end." Just the morning before, no one knew who Brian McNamara was until Danny swore he was the oddly named Sneakers Two. One day. Scarcely twenty-four hours. Steve hoped to arrest him within the next five hours at most if Denning and the judge came through for him.

"I'm sorry. I didn't know." She looked at him queerly as if begging to know why the heavy-set man hadn't been arrested yet. However, it was clear that Steve wasn't willing or even able to offer more information.

Christina hesitated and shared an awkward goodbye. Steve muttered the same sentiment under his breath as he redialed Chin's number. He would relax later and schedule sleep much beyond that event. Once Danny was safe and McNamara was behind bars with Channing. After the change in venue, assurance of the prosecution team's integrity, and the finality of Allen Darien's trial with his subsequent sentencing. Only then could he afford to relax.

Watching the nurse leave through a side employee-only exit, Steve focused on the task at hand. He had things to take care of and time was definitely not a luxury.

McNamara sat in his softly idling company-leased Mercedes where he had originally parked near the Emergency Room as his internal temperature soared. He was not one to run and yet his inner voice was demanding that he take that drastic step. It filled him with a fury and a keen resentment. It spelled the true end of his current existence and he was not willing to so easily give it up without knowing the truth.

"Who do you have in there?" Mac's teeth were gritted as he stared at the brightly lit building. He knew one or two HPD officers that he might be able to ask but it would raise even more suspicion. He sat there for a few more minutes weighing his options and thinking of his father. Other than himself, the elder McNamara was the only person on the face of the earth that Mac felt a modicum of loyalty towards. Because of that, he didn't want to necessarily run.

Sitting quietly in his car, Mac noticed a woman leaving the hospital through a side door. The short sidewalk joined the main but she chose to walk across the grass as a shortcut towards her distant vehicle. His eye naturally followed her silhouette. Hers was the only movement in the dark of night under the few lights but he had recognized her and it solidified a new plan. The corner of his mouth lifted in a sly grin as he checked the backseat of his car. The small bag was still there partly under the passenger seat and hidden by his larger gym bag. He quickly rummaged through it for the small gun, the black hood and zip ties. Easing out of his parking spot, he drove silently towards the unsuspecting nurse.

With a hood roughly thrown over her head and a sharp crack to her chin, Christina Hahn was gone. Her car sat where she had parked it at the beginning of her ten-hour shift. If someone were to look, her keys had fallen under the shadows of the front driver's side tire. Unaware that her manager had sent her home early, her husband wouldn't miss his wife for another four hours.

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