Where Your Heart Stays
March 15, 2005
“Hey, where ya going?”
“Taking a shower. You can take one too, before you go,” Chris said as he headed for the hall.
Danny sat up in bed. “You’re kicking me out?” he asked, confused. “We’ve got the morning off. We can sleep in.”
“I know,” Chris replied, quietly.
He’d been dreading this moment all night. He continued walking into the bathroom, anyway, ignoring Danny.
“Come on, Chris,” Danny pled, following Chris to the bathroom, grabbing him around the waist from behind. “You can do this,” he whispered, kissing Chris’s neck.
But Chris just shrugged him off and started the shower.
“Danny, I’m sorry,” he said, turning around to face his partner. “But I can’t. Not yet.”
Danny dropped his head and let out a sigh. “We’ve talked about this, Chris. What’s the big deal? Hell, it’s not like I’ve never crashed here before.”
“Yeah, you’ve crashed here,” Chris replied. “But you’ve never slept here, with me, in my bed. There’s a big difference, Danny.”
“From the inside, yes,” Danny agreed. “But from the outside,” he went on, pointing to the window, “from the outside, nobody knows squat!” He shook his head. “I just don’t understand you!” he shouted.
“I’m not ready for everyone to see your car parked outside here every morning!” Chris shouted back.
“Who the hell is everyone?! And I’m not asking to move in, Chris, I just want to do more than spend and hour or two fucking before I put my money on your nightstand!”
Chris was dumbstruck at Danny’s words. Hurt by them.
“You want me to go home? Fine. I’ll get out. I’ll go home, Chris!” Danny shouted, shoving his way past Chris and back into the hallway.
“Danny, listen to me, that’s not what I meant,” Chris tried again.
“You want me out, I’m out. See you around the office,” Danny said as he grabbed his clothes and hastily put them on.
Chris winced as the door to the apartment slammed.
“Shit,” he whispered, just before slamming his fist through his living room wall. As the pain made its way upward toward his elbow, he added, “Dammit!” and several other choice words.
After a few moments, the sound of the forgotten shower invaded Chris’s thoughts and he headed back to the bathroom. No longer in the mood to take a shower, he shut off the water, grabbed his robe and walked back to the living room. He ignored the hole in the wall, walked right by it, and sank down onto the couch. He didn’t care that the lights weren’t on. He didn’t care that it was two in the morning. All he knew was that he’d chased his partner, in more ways than one, out of his apartment and probably out of his life.
Because he was afraid.
Chris didn’t know how long he sat there, staring into nothingness, pondering his life, his fears. He didn’t know how many times he rehashed his argument with Danny over and over in his head, wondering if he could have handled things better, more tactfully, and still won.
“I won?” he thought aloud, shaking his head.
Did he win the argument? Danny didn’t spend the night... But now it seemed he’d never spend the night. Or day. Or minute, for that matter. No, he’d definitely lost.
“God, Danny, what have I done?”
When the phone rang, Chris actually jumped in surprise. He was halfway to the phone before deciding that he couldn’t talk to Danny yet. He knew it was Danny on the phone. No one else would call him at, he looked at the clock on the VCR, two-thirty in the morning. He listened to his own voice on the answering machine.
Hi, this is Chris. I’m not home right now. Leave a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.
After the beep, he heard Danny’s voice, as expected.
“Chris? Look, I’m sorry, okay? I didn’t mean what I said. I love you. I thought that was enough. And, well, Chris, I’m sorry.”
The sound of the gunshot at the end of the message had Chris off the couch and running for the phone.
“Danny!? Danny!?” he shouted into the phone, desperately listening for a response. “Danny!?”
“Oh, God. Oh, God,” Chris repeated over and over as he headed for his bedroom, donned his clothes and grabbed his gun and keys. He reached for his cell phone and hit a few buttons on his way out the door.
He cursed as he got Danny’s voicemail message. He pressed another set of numbers.
His hands were shaking as he unlocked his car door and he nearly dropped the cell phone as Sean’s voice replaced the ringing.
“Gains? What’s wrong?” Sean asked. He could tell by the hour and the tone of Chris’s voice, saying just his name, that something was wrong.
“Danny,” Chris got out as he backed out of his parking space. “Gun shot. He’s gone. He’s shot. Oh, God!” he continued, practically incoherent.
“Chris!” Sean shouted. “Chris calm down! What’s going on? Where’s Danny?”
Chris stopped the car and slammed it into park. The reason for the argument, his whole life, was about to become public knowledge.
“We had an argument,” Chris began, hurriedly. “He left... I kicked him out... Whatever! He just called me. He said he was sorry and then there was a gunshot. God, Sean, I think he shot himself!”
“Are you sure?”
“I don’t know! I..”
“Are you heading to his place?” Sean asked; suggested.
“Yes!” Chris put the car back into gear and resumed his course.
“I’ll make the calls and meet you there,” Sean assured him. “Chris, I’m sure he’s fine,” he added.
Chris threw his cell phone onto the passenger seat and flipped down the passenger side visor, activating the small emergency lights attached to it.
Within ten minutes he was outside Danny’s house. He was confused when he didn’t see Danny’s car parked out front, but approached the dark house anyway. He saw two marked cars and Sean’s red Caddy heading his way.
Not waiting for the other officers, Chris headed right for the front door. Finding it locked, he kicked it in, determined to find Danny as soon as possible.
“Danny?!” he called out, again and again as he searched through the house.
When he returned to the living room, he met up with Sean and the other officers.
“He’s not here!”
“Calm down, Chris,” Sean began.
“Calm down?!” Chris balked. “My partner may have just shot himself and you want me to calm down?!”
“Chris!” Sean shouted, grabbing Chris by the shoulders. “We don’t know what happened,” he said calmly, moving one hand to Chris’s cheek, forcing the young detective to meet his gaze. “We’ll put out an APB on his car. We’ll find him.”
“Detective Harrison!” one of the patrolmen called. When he had Sean’s attention, he went on, reporting, “There’s been a robbery down at the Extra-Mart two blocks away. We gotta roll!”
“Go! But keep an eye out for Edwards on your way!” Sean replied.
Chris was about to question Sean’s order to the patrol, wanting them to stay and help look for Danny, when Sean turned back to him.
“We’ll keep looking for him, Chris, don’t worry. Have you tried his cell again?”
Chris shook his head and watched as Sean tried Danny’s number and closed his eyes as Sean was unsuccessful, too.
“Where else would he go?” Sean asked.
“I don’t know. Under any other circumstances, I’d say my place.”
“Under any other circumstances,” Sean repeated. “What were the circumstances tonight? What did you two argue about?” he asked.
Sean’s cell phone chose that moment to ring, however, and saved Chris from answering.
“Harrison,” Sean answered. He nodded his head a few times, grabbed Chris by the arm and pulled him toward the Caddy as he continued to listen. “We’ll be right there!” he said and closed the phone.
“They found Danny,” he told Chris as he got to the car. “He’s at the Extra-Mart.”
“The robbery! Is he okay?”
“He’s been shot; that’s all I know,” Sean replied.
The flashing lights of the patrol cars and ambulances greeted the pair when they arrived at the Extra-Mart, and Chris was climbing out of the Caddy before Sean had even finished parking it.
“Gains!” he shouted in a futile attempt to slow him down.
“Where is he?!” Chris shouted; demanded of the officer blocking the door to the convenience store.
He was about to shove the officer aside, to gain entry to the store, when the paramedics pushed the door open from the inside, pulling a stretcher behind them.
“Danny!?” he cried, seeing his partner on the stretcher, bandages, tubes and other medical equipment not quite covering the blood. “Danny!?” he repeated, seeing that the bloodiest of bandages was around Danny’s head.
He initially fought Sean’s gentle maneuvering as the older detective pulled him back away from the stretcher, but then complied, giving the paramedics room. Sean let him go then, allowing him to follow them to the ambulance.
“Sean?” Chris called back, suddenly unsure of what to do.
“I’ll find out what happened,” Sean answered. “You take care of Danny.”
Chris nodded, said, “Thanks,” and entered the ambulance. And watched and listened intently as the paramedics continued to work on his partner.
Before he knew it, they had arrived at The Queen’s Medical Center and the paramedics were wheeling Danny into the trauma bay. Despite flashing his badge, Chris was denied entry and sent to the waiting room.
He paced back and forth, not wanting to sit, unable to keep still as images of his partner filled his mind, the bloody bandage around Danny’s head taking up most of the space.
“A head shot,” he whispered to himself, unable to stop the implications of such an injury from presenting themselves.
While he was no paramedic, he’d seen enough wounded people in his line of work to know that Danny’s condition was serious. He’d heard the paramedics talking about shock, sluggish pupils and low oxygen saturation levels. He knew any one of those was bad news, but to have all three? And it was a head shot...
“God,” he muttered.
Chris stopped his pacing and watched as Captain Terry Harada entered the waiting room and headed his way.
“How’s Danny?” Harada asked.
“I... I don’t know,” Chris got out, his emotions running the gamut between fear, anger and sadness. All he could think of, to say, what had been going through his own mind, was, “It was a head shot,” as if that would explain everything.
It seemed it did, as Harada just nodded his head in understanding. He put his arm around Chris’s shoulders and led him over to the row of couches and forced him to sit down on one.
“Stay there,” he said. “I’ll go see what I can find out.”
Chris nodded, but as soon as Harada was gone, he was up pacing again. He wanted to call Sean, to find out what was going on from that end, to find out if they’d found the shooter yet, but he realized after he reached into empty pockets that his cell phone was still on the front seat of his car.
“I thought I told you to sit down?” Terry asked gently upon his return.
Chris ignored the remark and instead, asked, “Any word?”
“They’re still stabilizing him, getting him ready for x-rays and such. But there might be good news: the doctor said it looked like the bullet didn’t go in, just creased him.”
“But all the blood...?”
“Head wounds bleed a lot,” Terry replied matter-of-factly.
That seemed to calm Chris and he finally, willingly, collapsed down onto the couch. “God, this is all my fault,” he whispered, dropping his head into his hands.
“I’m not even going to pretend to understand that, Gains,” Terry remarked. “Even if you forced Edwards to go out on a beer, chips, ice cream or slushie run at two in the morning, there is no way in hell that this is anyone’s fault but the shooter’s, whoever he may be. And speaking of which,” he continued, “lets call Sean and check on his progress.”
Chris never lifted his head from his hands; despite what Terry had just told him, he still felt guilty. If only he hadn’t been so uptight about their relationship. If only he’d just let Danny spend the night. Hell, if only another hour!
Deep in his own thoughts, he never heard Terry’s conversation with Sean. It took a couple of taps on his shoulder to realize that Terry was talking to him now.
He looked up and met Terry’s gaze. “What’s going on?” he asked.
“Sean’s got the IDs on the clerk and the other customer in the store. Uniforms are going to make the notifications now.”
“Other customer...” Chris repeated. “...the clerk? They’re dead?” he asked.
He didn’t see Terry nod his head as he dropped his head back into his hands. He never even thought about anyone else at the convenience store. He was realizing now that Danny was the lucky one. He was alive.
“All head shots,” Terry told him. “Sean told me he got a quick look at the store video. Perp came in shooting. Danny was first in his line of fire, then the clerk, then the other customer. The owner doesn’t think he got more than about two-hundred from the cash register.”
“Any chance this was a hit, not a robbery?” Chris asked, looking up again.
“We don’t know. So far, Danny, being a cop, is the only one with known enemies,” Terry replied. “But it’s too soon to make any conclusions. It could just be a robbery, simple as that.”
“Simple?” Chris retorted angrily. “It’s a double homicide. And an attempted murder of a police officer.” Chris got up and started pacing again. “I want this guy, Cap. I gotta find him.”
Terry put his hand out, letting it hit Chris’s chest, stopping him in his tracks.
“Sean and John and the rest of the department will find him, Chris,” he said. “For Danny and the other two victims. But you’re staying out of it.” He pushed gently on Chris’s chest as he was about to protest, and continued, “Your job is to stick by your partner. The bad guy is still out there. Danny’s the only witness. He’ll need protection.”
That idea hadn’t even occurred to Chris and he cursed himself for it. But now he would protect his partner. Keep him safe. Keep him close. Wherever that may be. He nodded his head at the tacit command from his Captain.
“I’ll start right now,” he said, and headed for the trauma room doors.
No one would deny him access to his partner this time.
His badge now clipped to the neck of his tee shirt, Chris passed through the doors and looked for his partner. Chris passed by two cubicles before finding Danny’s. He watched silently as a nurse washed some of the blood off of Danny’s face and neck.
“Is he gonna be all right?” he asked, startling her.
She replaced the oxygen mask she had moved and turned to give Chris a once-over, silently appraising him.
“You’re not supposed to be back here,” she said.
“He’s a murder witness. He’s in protective custody,” Chris replied, somewhat defensively.
She looked at him again.
“I heard he’s a cop. Your partner?” she asked.
She nodded her head, then softened her voice. “He’s stable for now,” she told him. “We still need to get him up to Radiology. Should be within a few minutes.”
“It didn’t go in?” Chris asked, pointing to a corresponding spot on his own head.
“Doesn’t look it, no,” she replied. “But it still could have done some damage. We’d know more if he was awake. Maybe he’ll talk to you - he won’t answer us,” she added, stepping away from the bed.
After a moment’s hesitation, Chris moved to Danny’s side. He had time enough to put a hand on Danny’s shoulder and whisper, “I’m here, Danny,” before the orderlies arrived to take Danny for his tests.
Chris followed them, as they rolled Danny and the entire exam bed down the hallways toward the Radiology department. Once there, Chris was forced to wait outside. While he was waiting, Kaleo and Lihn showed up.
“Captain Harada said to report to you,” Kaleo spoke up first.
“How is he?” Lihn asked.
Chris just shrugged his shoulders and returned his gaze to the door separating him from his partner. He only half listened as the two uniformed officers decided upon a plan for keeping watch and protecting Danny. But when their conversation left basic police work, Chris couldn’t help but overhear.
“Man, what a way to be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Kaleo remarked, idly pacing back and forth.
“Knowing Edwards, he’d probably just snuck out of some woman’s bed and was on his way home,” Lihn added, somewhat bitterly.
“What?!” Chris asked her. Demanded.
“You heard me, Gains,” Lihn said. “We all know Danny’s the “love ‘em and leave ‘em” type.”
Kaleo nodded his head.
Two months ago, Chris might have nodded his head in agreement, too. But now he knew better. He had first hand knowledge.
“You’re wrong,” he managed to get out. “He’s not like that. Not any more.”
Chris saw the disbelieving looks on the officers’ faces. Saw them trying to figure out what had changed in Danny’s life, or Chris’s for that matter, for him to make such a statement. He got angrier.
“And regardless of where he was, or wasn’t,” Chris went on, “a police officer, and friend, was nearly killed tonight. You don’t need to be speculating on his personal life.”
Kaleo and Lihn both nodded, shamed, and took up posts at either end of the hall, leaving Chris to sit down alone outside the Radiology Department.
Putting his head into his hands, Chris again found himself thinking about the argument he and Danny had. Had Danny asked too much? Had he? What was so wrong with Danny spending the night? Another few hours. Lihn and Kaleo had accused Danny of sneaking out on someone. If they’d been at Danny’s house, he would have been the one to sneak out, or make up some excuse to leave. Danny was the one willing to stay, to commit. Danny was the one to tell him he loved him. He was still afraid of those words. What they meant. And now Danny was paying the price for his cowardice.
Chris quickly wiped the tears from his cheeks.
“Shit,” he whispered. “Danny, I am so, so sorry.”
About half an hour went by before the doors opened and Danny was wheeled out. Chris rose quickly and walked next to the bed as it was rolled down the hall toward the elevator.
“Where are you taking him?” he asked.
“We’ve got a bed waiting for him upstairs,” one of the nurses replied.
“Kaleo, Lihn!” Chris called to the officers, making sure they knew to follow. They did.
“Is he gonna be all right?” Chris asked the nurse that had spoken. “What did the x-rays show?”
“You’re better off just waiting ‘til we get upstairs, Detective,” she replied. “That way Doctor Kuhlke can tell you what’s going on.”
Chris didn’t think he liked her answer - that if Danny were going to be all right, she would have just said so. But he also knew it wasn’t quite appropriate to give her the third degree here in the hallway, either, so he just nodded his head and continued to follow.
As they rode the elevator, Chris took the time to look at his partner. Danny now sported a clean white bandage around his head. It covered his right ear and most of his forehead before winding around to the back of his skull. He thought he saw some dark bruising peeking out near his right temple, but couldn’t be sure because of the lighting in the elevator, and the fact that he was on Danny’s left side.
The oxygen mask was replaced with a small cannula under Danny’s nose, but the other tubes and wires he’d briefly seen in the Trauma Room remained.
A few minutes later they arrived at the Intensive Care Unit and Danny was carefully transferred to a bed there. Kaleo and Lihn took up posts at either ends of the hallway outside the Unit while Chris stood his ground, ignored the nurses’ protests, and took a seat at Danny’s bedside.
When Dr. Kuhlke arrived, Chris rose to meet him and extended his hand.
“I’m Detective Gains.”
“Dave Kuhlke,” the doctor replied. After a second or two, he continued, “I won’t keep you waiting any longer, Detective. I can tell how worried you are for your partner. He’s sustained a simple skull fracture.” The doctor pulled an x-ray out of a folder and placed it on a wall mounted light box. He pointed to one of the pictures and continued, “It’s not large, in fact the technician missed it the first time she looked at the pictures. But it’s there.”
“How serious?” Chris asked.
“The CT scan didn’t show any damage to the brain itself, so we’re looking at somewhere between a Grade Two or Three Concussion.”
“In English, Doc?”
“When he wakes up, he’s gonna have one hell of a headache,” Dr. Kuhlke replied. “Like I said, the fracture is very small. Enough to see, enough to warrant care and enough to make him feel miserable for a while, but he’ll be fine.”
If Chris didn’t hear anything else the doctor had said, he did hear those last three words: “He’ll be fine,” and let out a sigh of relief.
“In the meantime, we let him rest and we’ll watch him for any complications.” With that, the doctor put the x-ray back into its folder and left the room to talk to the nursing staff.
Chris sank back down into the chair next to Danny’s bed, reached through the bed rails, grasped Danny’s hand and held it in his own. Then he closed his eyes and said a little prayer of thanks.
Chris wasn’t sure how long he’d slept. The last thing he remembered was talking to Danny, telling him about the new car he wanted to get. But now something had woken him up. Someone. Someone moaning.
Chris sat up quickly.
“Danny?” he called to his partner, willing him to wake up. “Come on, Danny, talk to me.”
“Chris?” Danny whispered, pain weaving through his voice to match the expression on his face.
“Right here, partner,” Chris replied, smiling.
“I thought I told you to cut me off after four Mai Tais,” Danny groaned, becoming more restless.
Chris’s smile widened.
“Oh, God, it hurts. Somebody shoot me.”
Chris lost his smile. “Somebody already did,” he said quietly.
Danny heard him, though, and opened his eyes, needing to see if he heard his partner correctly. Unfortunately, as soon as he opened his eyes, the light lanced through them, honing the pain.
“Fuck!” he cursed, squeezing his eyes shut again. “Oh, shit, Chris, what the hell happened?”
Chris grabbed Danny’s hands before he could reach for his head and mess with the bandages.
“Easy, easy,” Chris soothed. “You were shot. But the doc says you’re gonna be just fine.”
“My head. I was shot in the head?” Danny managed, the panic in his voice matching the pain.
“Yeah,” Chris replied. “But like I said, the doc said you’re gonna be just fine. It just grazed you.”
By now the nurses had heard the commotion. One had come and began to check Danny’s vitals and make sure he hadn’t displaced any of the tubes or wires.
“Easy, Detective Edwards,” the nurse soothed. “You need to keep still.”
“Oh, man,” Danny moaned again, when he felt her check one tube in particular. “I got a tube up my dick, too, don’t I?”
The nurse and Chris both laughed and she confirmed his suspicion.
“Tell me you got this guy, Chris, please?” Danny groaned. “Fuck!”
“Danny, what’s the last thing you remember?” Chris asked, realizing that Danny really didn’t remember what had happened, if he thought Chris had been in a position to have taken care of Danny’s shooter.
Danny lay quiet for a few seconds, breathing through the pain, trying to remember.
“Detective Edwards, I’m Dr. Kuhlke,” Dr. Kuhlke called out, entering the room and conversation. He’d been summoned by the nursing staff. “Do you know what day it is?”
Danny moaned as he turned his head toward the doctor. “Thursday. I remember leaving work - Chris and I were gonna go to the Chinese place on Fifth.”
The doctor looked to Chris for confirmation.
Chris nodded his head and added, “That was around six.”
“Anything else after that?” Dr. Kuhlke asked.
“No,” Danny replied. “Ah, fuck, Doc, can’t I get a super strength Tylenol or something here?” he begged.
“We’ll see what we can do,” the doctor replied. He made a few notations on Danny’s chart and said, “I’ll check up on you again later,” before heading toward the nurses’ station.
“I’ll be right back, Danny,” Chris added, following the doctor out. “Hey, doc!” he called. When he had the doctor’s attention, he continued, “He doesn’t remember the eight hours before the shooting. Is that bad? Should I tell him what happened?”
“It’s not bad,” the doctor replied calmly. “Short term memory loss is very common with this type of injury. Only eight hours gone isn’t bad at all, really, Detective. As far as what to tell him... I’m sure there’s some legal reasons why he should remember some things on his own... I’ll be by in a few hours to check on him again before I go home.”
“Thanks, doc,” Chris responded, shaking his hand.
Chris turned, took a deep breath and let it out as he watched the nurse return to Danny’s side, hopefully to give him some pain medication. He ought to tell the others that he was awake. He ought to tell Sean that Danny didn’t remember the shooting; that at this point, he wasn’t a viable witness to it. Hell, he didn’t even remember being at the store. Or Chris’s apartment, for that matter.
Chris sighed. Danny didn’t remember being at his apartment, which meant he didn’t remember their argument. Maybe he’d never remember. Maybe this could be a good thing, Chris thought. He could pretend the argument never happened. He could change what had happened between them, take that big step and overcome his fear. Let Danny stay in his apartment. In his heart.
It was the third time his name was called that Chris finally looked at Kaleo.
“Hey, good news, huh, Brudda?”
“Yeah, very good news, Kaleo,” Chris replied with a smile. “Doc says he’s gonna be fine.”
“Gonna need some industrial strength aspirin, though,” the big officer added.
“Yeah,” Chris agreed. “Hey, either of you call Harrison or the Captain, yet?”
“I was just about to,” Kaleo replied, nodding toward the desk phone behind Chris.
“I’ll do it,” Chris offered.
Kaleo nodded and returned to the hallway after quickly peeking at Danny, who was now sleeping again.
Chris picked up the phone, got an outside line and dialed Sean’s cell phone number.
“Harrison,” came the terse reply.
“Sean, it’s Chris,” Chris began. “Danny woke up a few minutes ago.”
“That’s great! How’s he doing?”
“He’s a hurtin’ pup, but the doc says he’s gonna be just fine.”
“Big question, now,” Sean started. “He remember anything?”
“No. Last thing he said he remembers is leaving work yesterday. Any word on the shooter?” Chris asked.
“We got a couple of possibles. Patrols have stills from the video and are canvassing. One of the working girls on Pearl thinks the guy works for Tommy Suko.”
“So it was a hit?” Chris asked, remembering some of the Department’s dealings with the drug dealer. He and Danny had arrested Suko six months ago and were now just waiting for a trial date.
“It’s still just a theory, Gains,” Sean replied. “I mean, if this guy was after Danny, then he must have been tailing him to have found him at the Extra-Mart at two in the morning. I would think that if it were a hit from Suko, then he’d have wanted both of you taken out. This guy would have had the opportunity to have taken you both out at your place, or, hell, the Department parking lot, even.”
Chris sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. He looked up at the wall and was surprised to see that it was nearing seven in the morning.
“I just can’t believe it was just a robbery, Sean,” Chris said at last.
“Well, we’re just gonna have to wait until we find this guy, then.” When Chris didn’t say anything more, Sean added, “We will find him, Chris. And in the meantime, you take care of your partner. And let him know we’re all thinking of him.”
“I will. And thanks, Sean,” Chris replied before hanging up the phone.
Chris walked back to Danny’s room and took another look at his partner before heading down the hall to the men’s room.
After freshening up a bit and getting a cup of coffee from the waiting room, he headed back and again took the seat next to Danny’s bed, and again took Danny’s hand in his and gave it a gentle squeeze.
“I’m here, Danny,” he whispered, and felt his hand squeezed in return. Before he knew it, he was asleep again.
“Gains. Gains,” Captain Harada whispered, not wanting to wake up Danny. He gave Chris another gentle nudge. “Chris.”
“Danny?” Chris called, sitting up, looking to his partner. Then he saw his captain. “Cap?”
Terry motioned Chris to come out into the hallway so that they wouldn’t disturb Danny’s rest.
“Oh, shit, I fell asleep,” Chris cursed, feeling guilty. “Some job I’m doing protecting my partner,” he muttered.
“Enough of the guilt trips, Gains,” Terry scolded. “There’s a reason we’ve got the place crawling with uniforms. You’re not the only one on duty here, and hell, you’re being protected as well.”
“Me?” Chris questioned. But then, just as Terry was about to explain, Chris blurt out, “It was a hit!”
“Declan and Harrison brought in Suko about an hour ago,” Terry began. He saw Chris check the clock on the wall - it was almost noon.
“Suko wouldn’t have talked.”
“No, he didn’t,” Terry agreed. “But sometimes it’s what they don’t say. And, he’s all we’ve got so far. Nobody else knows anything more about this guy, other than that he’s been seen hanging around Suko.”
“Something’s not adding up,” Chris said, shaking his head. He ran frustrated hands through his hair and then rubbed them down his face. “What about the other vics? I know they’ve been ID’d, but... any chance one of them was the target?”
“Sean doesn’t think so. The customer was a tourist - twenty-three year old male on his honeymoon. The clerk was a college kid, nineteen year old male, from the Big Island.”
“Damn,” Chris swore, shaking his head at the senselessness of it all. “Both just starting out... Do we even have a name for the shooter yet? If people have seen him with Suko, you’d think he’d have a name.”
“The girls on Pearl called him Clarence, but nobody’s heard of him or seen him before last week. He’s new in town,” Terry responded.
“No, I’ve never heard of him, either,” Chris said.
He was about to ask Harada some more questions when he heard his name being called.
“Chris? Chris?” Danny called.
Chris quickly returned to Danny’s bedside. “Right here, partner.”
Seeing the painful expression on Danny’s face, how tightly shut his eyes were, Chris hit the call button for help.
“Easy, Danny, easy,” he soothed. “Help’s coming.”
“Hurts so fucking much, Chris,” Danny cursed, reaching for his partner. “Feel sick,” he added just before throwing up.
“Ah, shit,” Chris swore, quickly sidestepping the mess, but grabbing onto Danny, keeping him from moving around too much. “Hang on, Danny. Hang on,” he told him.
Chris was about to yell for a nurse, but Terry had already done so, and was now following two of them to Danny’s side. Chris made room for them, but still kept in contact with Danny.
“I’m sorry, Danny. I’m so sorry,” he told him. “I was so stupid,” he whispered, guilt claiming his thoughts once again as he watched his partner suffer.
He held on tight to Danny’s hand as Danny threw up again. A doctor showed up and administered some anti-nausea medication into Danny’s IV as the nurses began to clean him and the bed up. After about fifteen minutes, Danny finally seemed to have calmed down and the grip he’d had on Chris’s hand weakened.
“Chris?” Danny whispered.
“Tell me what happened. What the fuck happened?”
Chris looked to Terry, who was still standing by. Terry shook his head. If Danny were to be a viable witness to the shooting, he’d have to remember on his own.
“I don’t know, Danny,” Chris told him, honestly. “I wasn’t there. I’m sorry, Danny. I wasn’t there.”
Danny opened his eyes just a bit, fearful of the pain the light would bring, to look at Chris. He saw the worry in his eyes, the exhaustion, too. But there was something else, too. Guilt?
“Chris? This couldn’t be your fault,” he said. “You’ve always got my back. You wouldn’t leave me hanging somewhere.”
It was a statement, but Chris’s mind heard the question behind it. How could he answer? He kicked Danny out of his apartment. He did leave him hanging, so to speak. He didn’t have his back, not in the most important part of their partnership.
“That’s right,” Terry spoke up. He had no idea as to why Chris was feeling guilty for Danny’s injury; had no idea how it was possible that Chris was feeling that way. He just knew that these two needed each other in the worst way at this time, and he was going to do what he could for them. “Chris has been here from the get go, Danny,” he continued. “As soon as he found out you’d been hurt, he went to the scene. He’s been right by your side for almost ten hours, now.”
“Ten hours?” Danny asked. “No wonder he looks like shit.”
“No worse than you, partner,” Chris replied.
“And I think ten hours is a bit much,” the doctor spoke up. “He needs his rest, gentlemen,” she continued, giving both Chris and Terry pointed looks.
Terry motioned for the doctor to follow him out to the nurses’ station, so that they were out of Danny’s hearing.
“You were told that he’s a murder witness, right?” he asked her.
“Yes, and that’s why we’ve let the two of you in here up to this point. But right now, Officer Edwards needs rest. And by the looks of it, so does his partner, who is supposed to be protecting him?”
“As you’ve seen, I’ve got officers in the hallway outside,” Terry told her. “They’re the protection. For both of them,” he added, looking toward both Chris and Danny. “And trust me, right now, you don’t want to separate those two.”
Chris chose that moment to join the two.
“He’s asleep again,” he said. “Cap, if you could stay here with him, I’m gonna go down the hall,” he added, jacking his thumb toward the outer hallway.
“Sure,” Terry replied. “Just stay on this floor. Let Officer Rosen know what’s up,” he added, and got a nod from Chris.
Chris walked out of the ICU and headed for the men’s room. He nodded to Officer Rosen, who had apparently taken over for either Kaleo or Lihn, as he went by. Once inside, he leaned heavily against the closed door and sighed.
He didn’t know what he would have said to Danny if Terry hadn’t spoken up. ‘Oh, yeah, Danny, I’ve got your back. I just kicked you out of my apartment because I apparently have commitment issues, or something like that, and as a result, we fought, you left and wound up getting shot in a convenience store robber, that might have been a cover up for a hit against you.’ “Shit.”
Chris felt the door push against him and he moved away, walking toward the sink. Terry stepped into the bathroom.
“Rosen’s with him,” Terry said, forestalling Chris’s protest. “Now, you wanna tell me what’s going on with you?”
Chris thought for a moment. Thought of any possible repercussions that would occur if he told Terry the truth. If he told Captain Harada the truth.
“No, sir,” he said. “Just worried about my partner.”
Terry nodded his head. Then his cell phone rang. Chris watched and listened as Terry spoke.
“That was Sean,” Terry told Chris. “They’ve got a lead on Clarence. He and Declan are taking a team out to Waikiki. You want in?”
He saw the indecision in Chris’s eyes. The need for action; to ‘avenge’ his partner’s injury; to catch the bad guy. And he also saw the need to stay here with Danny, to give him security and comfort.
“I’ll stay with Danny,” Terry offered.
Chris thought some more. “No,” he told Terry. “As much as I want the bastard, I’ve been up for almost thirty-six. I don’t want any mistakes.”
“You don’t sound too tired to make good decisions...”
“Made one bad one already, Cap,” Chris replied. “Not gonna risk making another.”
Terry knew he wouldn’t get an answer from Chris if he asked, so just let it be.
“We’ll let you know how things go down,” he said instead, and left the room.
Chris turned to the mirror, saw how bad he looked, and closed his eyes. He would make it up to Danny somehow. And whether Danny remembered what transpired in his apartment or not, he’d tell him the truth. Tell him how wrong he’d been. How sorry he was. How much he really did love him.
Someone entered the men’s room, then. Chris quickly splashed some cold water onto his face and grabbed a handful of paper towels to dry himself off. When he felt he’d composed himself enough, he headed back to the ICU and Danny.
When Sean, John and Terry showed up about three hours later, they were no longer in ICU. Danny’s condition had been upgraded and he no longer needed the constant care.
The three men entered Danny’s room quietly, not wanting to disturb him if they could help it.
“Sean? Cap? What happened? Did you get him?” Chris asked, rising from his seat.
“Yeah,” Sean replied.
“Somebody gonna tell me what happened yet?” Danny asked, opening his eyes and wincing as his headache flared.
“Still don’t remember?” John asked.
“Apparently not,” Danny replied. “Shit.”
The men looked at each other, then Terry said, “You were shot during a convenience store robbery. You were off duty - wrong place at the wrong time.”
“And you got the guy?”
“Yeah. It’s all taken care of, Danny,” Sean replied.
“Good. Somebody take Gains home, then,” Danny said. “He snores too loud; can’t get any sleep around here.”
“I wouldn’t talk about snoring if I were you,” Chris countered.
“I’ll take him home,” Sean offered. “Good to see you’re all right, Danny,” he added.
“Yeah, man. We’ll see you ‘round,” John put in.
Terry waved good bye and said, “We’ll wait down the hall for you, Chris.”
When the men had left the room, Chris turned to Danny. “You’re sure you want me to leave? I can stay, if you want.”
“I’ll be fine, Chris,” Danny said. “As soon as they bring me some more Tylenol, anyway.”
“Yeah,” Chris said with a smile. He leaned over and gave Danny a gentle kiss. “Scared the hell out of me, Danny. I’m still scared.”
“I’ll be fine,” Danny repeated. “I’ll call you later, okay?”
Chris left the room as Danny pushed the call button and headed down the hall. As they said they would, Sean, John and Terry were waiting for him.
“So what happened with Clarence?” he asked as they walked down the hall toward the elevator. “Was it a hit? Or was he just psycho?”
“A little of both,” Sean replied. “It was a hit. But not on Danny.”
Chris stopped walking and gave them a questioning look.
“The customer,” John replied. “The newlywed. Apparently his bride had a nice insurance policy on him.”
“And this Clarence guy gave her up?”
“No, actually, he chose suicide by cop,” Terry responded. “The bride confessed. She’d caught him cheating already and thought this would be a good way to exact revenge. Didn’t think she’d feel so guilty, though. She didn’t think anyone else would be hurt.”
“Was high as a kite. He kept saying that Suko was gonna kill him anyway, thinking that somehow Suko would think he’d be selling him out just by talking to us,” Sean explained.
“What a fucking waste,” Chris said, shaking his head. “Some chick gets mad at her cheating husband and three, almost four, people die.”
When they got to the parking lot, Sean pointed out the way to his car to Chris. He told Terry and John that he’d meet them back at the station as soon as he dropped Chris off at home.
Alone in the Caddy, Sean looked at Chris. “Whatever you two argued about... this isn’t your fault, Chris. And he’s gonna be fine.”
“You been talking to Harada?”
“Didn’t have to,” Sean replied, then added, “but he did tell me.”
Chris let out a loud sigh.
“Chris... Look, I know... I know that you and Danny are good friends. Best friends.” Then Sean went on, venturing, “Maybe more than that?”
Chris looked up sharply.
Sean held up a hand, stopping any comment Chris could make and said, “Nothing wrong with that. Hell, I got a cousin in Denver...”
“Oh yeah? Is he in love with his partner? His police partner?!” Chris cut in, letting everything out.
“As a matter of fact, yeah. They’re on the same ATF team.”
Chris let his head hit the headrest and closed his eyes. He ran his fingers through his hair in frustration. How was he supposed to explain this?
“I screwed up last night, Sean,” he said, looking at Sean again. “I got scared. We argued. And then I kicked him out of my apartment. Or, I got scared, kicked him out and then we argued.”
“Didn’t you hear anything we’ve said since this whole thing began, Chris?” Sean asked. “You didn’t send him to that convenience store. You didn’t pull the trigger. Hell, even the job didn’t cause this one! It was a fluke, Chris!”
“Danny’s not gonna take this so easily. We said some bad things....”
“He didn’t seem to be mad at you...”
“He doesn’t remember!” Chris exclaimed, frustrated. When Sean just raised an eyebrow to the remark, Chris added, “He doesn’t remember today. But maybe tomorrow he will. Or the next day.”
“Didn’t you tell me that when he called you, he said he was sorry?”
“Yeah.” Chris winced as the phone message replayed in his head, ending with the gunshot.
“So... he put out the olive branch; now you can, too.” When Chris didn’t agree right away, Sean continued, “Forget about the shooting, Chris. I mean it. Just forget it for a minute. Now think back. Were you ready to apologize before you got the call?”
After a moment’s hesitation, “Yeah.”
“Then that’s all that matters, Chris. You and Danny will talk things out; figure things out.”
“I hope you’re right, Sean.”
“Hey, have I ever steered you wrong?”
Sean then drove Chris to Danny’s house, where Chris picked up his car and drove home to his apartment.
It was about two in the afternoon when Chris made it back to the hospital to visit Danny. He’d undergone some more tests and observation to make sure he was okay and the doctor was talking to him when Chris arrived. It seemed that other than some dizziness, the near constant headache and sensitivity to bright light that accompanied it, Danny was feeling better.
“Ah, here’s officer Gains now,” the doctor said in greeting. “Danny and I were just discussing his injury. I’d like to keep him here for another day or two - until the dizziness subsides, at least, and then we’ll talk about him going home. Hopefully, with someone for the first few days.”
Chris picked up the hint.
“Think I can crash at your place for a few days?” Danny asked Chris.
Chris saw something in Danny’s eyes - a spark of recognition; a memory. Danny remembered.
“No,” Chris replied. But before Danny had time to react, he added, “But you’re welcome to stay at my place.”
“I’ll see you later, Danny,” the doctor said before leaving the two men alone.
“So I can stay?” Danny asked.
“As long as you want,” Chris replied. Then he broke down, began pacing the room. “God, Danny, I am so sorry. I was so stupid!”
“It’s not your fault, Chris,” Danny countered. “It was a fluke. Like Harada said, wrong place at the wrong time.”
“I’m talking about kicking you out!” Chris corrected him, stopping his pacing and sitting down on the edge of Danny’s bed. “That was stupid,” he said quietly, adding, “Like the saying goes, you never know what you’ve got until you lose it. I lost you, Danny. I put my petty fear ahead of you. It was stupid. I was stupid.”
“I shouldn’t have pushed so hard,” Danny said. “I always have to have things my way.”
“But you were right this time. I want you to stay with me now,” he responded, then added, “In here,” as he put his hand over his heart.
“I’d like that.”