GIFTS OF THE HEART: CONNECTIONS
By B. Huff
"To lose one’s connections to the past is to lose one self." -Beatrice Griffin
“Sheik Omar Bakari?” Steve McGarrett frowned in concentration at the intercom on his desk.
Dan Williams stopped writing on the black board in the corner of his boss’s office and turned to offer an explanation. “The Ambassador of Nefaz – he’s on the guest list for the governor’s dinner party on Friday,”
“Nefaz – that don’t sound like no island in our ocean,” Kono Kalakaua pondered from his chair.
Williams’ lip twitched as his focus turned to the Hawaiian detective and the older Chinese detective, Chin Ho Kelly, standing behind him. “It’s definitely NOT in our ocean – Nefaz is a small African country bounded by Algeria to the west, Tunisia to the south and east, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north. Principle industry – oil. Mean annual temperature – twenty nine degrees Celsius.”
The head of Hawaii Five-0, the state’s elite police investigative unit, momentarily allowed a trace of amusement to replace his annoyed visage as his second-in-command rattled off the information. “Danno, that sounds like a verbatim quote from a geography book!”
The young man let his lips slide into a crooked grin, and he shrugged. “Your atlas, actually – I looked it up when I was doing the security check on the guests who’ll be at the governor’s soiree.”
“Boss!” McGarrett’s attention snapped back to the issue at hand as the voice of Jenny Sherman crackled through the intercom – he’d forgotten his secretary was waiting for instructions about what to do with the surprise visitor standing at her desk. He sighed and looked at the clock on his desk – the afternoon was rapidly slipping away. “Does he look mugged?”
“Nope!” She responded tersely – there wasn’t much in the way of verbose commentary the woman could offer since the guest was within earshot of her side of the conversation.
“Give us thirty seconds and then escort him in, Jenny.” The lead detective closed the connection and, as the irritation re-invaded his expression, snapped a command to his second. “Cover the board!”
Williams nodded slightly as he set down the chalk on the runner of the portable black board and moved to collect the dark blanket which the detectives used to hide potentially sensitive information from visitors to the Five-0 chief’s office.
Kono rose from his chair to assist Dan, and Chin quickly moved to rid the coffee table of a leftover piece of sandwich as McGarrett narrowed his eyes and came around from behind his desk. “The Ambassador of Nefaz – I remember now – he’s visiting the South Pacific on some sort of economic development tour.”
The tall, Koa wood door began to creak open as he drew near. Jenny maintained a grip on the door knob as she nodded for the guest to enter. A flicker of eye contact between the spunky, auburn-haired woman and her boss served as acknowledgment for her deed, and she quickly closed the door behind her.
“Sheik Bakari, I’m Steve McGarrett,” the detective greeted with a pleasantness that his men knew he did not feel. The head of Five-0 hated unexpected interruptions – especially those that derailed productive brainstorming sessions with his detectives. Before the visitor was announced, he’d been reviewing several pieces of information, supplied by one of Williams’ informants, relating to four armed robberies, two of which had ended in the victim’s murder. Dan’s request for a group review of the facts of his investigation had to be worked into the day, which was already crammed with security-related issues concerning the myriad remembrances and ceremonies ongoing all over the islands on this particular Pearl Harbor Day, the thirtieth anniversary of the attack.
Intellectually recognizing the need for diplomatic aplomb, but impatient to get what had to be an inane, curiosity visit behind him, McGarrett extended his hand. “I trust you’re finding your stay on our islands a pleasant and productive one?”
Omar Bakari, attired in an obviously-new green and blue luau shirt and brown pants, was a short, stocky man, perhaps in his late forties. With a definite middle-eastern appearance and swarthy complexion, the man wore his abundant, dark hair slicked backward. An unkempt, bushy mustache took up all of the space between his nose and full-lipped mouth, which cracked into a long grin as he grabbed his host’s hand. “Mr. McGarrett, thank you for seeing me, and please forgive the intrusion! I will come to the point quickly as I am certain you are hard at work battling the criminal element of your country.”
The head of Five-0 did not want to dissuade the man from his purported plan, but he noticed his guest’s expectant glance in the direction of the detectives, who all stood unobtrusively in front of the black board in wait of their boss’s instruction.
With an inward sigh, Steve relented and signaled his men to join him. “Sheik Bakari, may I present Detectives Danny Williams, Kono Kalakaua, and Chin Ho Kelly.” Each of the men nodded and shook hands with the enthusiastic visitor, who progressed very quickly through his acknowledgements of Kono and Chin – almost too fast to be courteous, McGarrett mused in passing. As the ambassador reached for Dan’s hand, however, his tempo dropped dramatically.
“Detective Dan-ee Willee-yemz,” the ambassador frowned with exaggerated concentration as he focused on the young detective who was only slightly taller than him. “I read some months ago an article in the French publication, about an American policeman who discovered a flaw in the new security system at the Louvre. That is YOU, is it not?”
Ah ha! McGarrett announced internally. THAT was the reason the diplomat was standing here! The law enforcement profession had more than its share of amateurs and arm-chair experts who loved nothing better than to corner a cop and interrogate him about crimes which had passed through the public spotlight. Sheik Omar Bakari was shaping up to be an investigative voyeur. Moreover, he was one with the bravado to march straight into the Palace try to trap the hapless Williams into answering his questions. Five-0’s chief hoped this hobby cop wasn’t one to profess expertise and offer advise – that type was always the most difficult to swallow politely.
Dan glanced at his boss, and McGarrett knew immediately that his detective had arrived at the same conclusion about the reason for the ambassador’s visit. Williams furled his brow slightly and responded earnestly. “I didn’t read that article, sir, but I heard about it, and I can tell you that it grossly exaggerated my contribution to that discovery.”
McGarrett’s thoughts harkened back to the incident in France. On the pretext that he was still recuperating from a gunshot wound (PANIOLO), Steve sent Williams in his stead in January to the Conference on World Security in Paris. McGarrett’s true motive in sending his friend was to get him out of his normal routine for awhile. It had only been a few weeks since Dan’s girlfriend, Jane Michaels, had been the victim of a brutal murder (BEAUTIFUL SCREAMER). The horrible incident left the officer devastated, and a subsequent investigation, and events surrounding the tying up of loose ends regarding Michaels made for a stress-laden month for Williams (FANFIC – GIAOUR). The Five-0 chief decided that a change of pace would be good for the detective.
One of the special events during the conference was what McGarrett called a bragging-rights tour. Belle Champ, a company specializing in electronic security systems, had just installed a new system, based upon new photo-electric technology, in one of the Louvre galleries. The chief of security at the world-famous museum agreed to allow the company to conduct a special tour for a handful of the conference attendees to demonstrate the features of the system.
During the course of the demonstration, it was explained that beams of light were aimed into sensors from various angles in the room. The light rays were generally invisible to the naked eye, but Dan noticed a stocky British inspector from Scotland Yard standing in the doorway, gazing into the alarmed room. The round figure pulled a pipe from his pocket, lit the contents, and puffed absentmindedly for several seconds before one of the museum officials noticed the man was smoking and rushed to stop him from performing the prohibited act. By the time that had happened though, Dan had already noticed that the smoke illuminated a few of the beams of light nearest to the door.
Other members of the group listened as the young police detective from Hawaii posed several questions to the Louvre security chief, who was the resident expert on the alarm system under evaluation. Within a minute, Williams quietly, but confidently submitted that he could breach the system and make it to the display cases in the center of the supposedly-secure room. The gauntlet thrown down, the skeptical Frenchman accepted the challenge. The group proceeded to observe as Dan removed his suit jacket, lit a cigarette, and “illuminated” his way through the maze of previously-invisible beams of light. It looked as if the detective were navigating through a series of wires that were strung haphazardly from the top of one side of the room to the bottom of the other. Within ninety seconds, Dan was standing within touching distance of the case of bronze works of art.
News of the story leaked quickly to the press in the form of a scandal about the faulty system which the French government nearly paid to have installed in the museum. In the interest of preventing the unscrupulous from exploiting the newly-identified hole in the system, which had already been deployed in several locations, Williams – along with the rest of the members of the tour – refused to publicly identify the exact nature of the uncovered flaw.
When Dan, who feared there could be negative diplomatic repercussions after the uproar he’d inadvertently caused, recounted the tale to Steve from his hotel room that night, Williams was relieved and pleased to hear his boss and mentor laugh out loud. McGarrett assured his protégé that the incident, while embarrassing to the French authorities and the security company in question, would ultimately cause the problem to be fixed, and in the long run, that was the important thing.
McGarrett smiled and moved to lean on the edge of his desk as he heard his second-in-command politely suggest that the ambassador contact the Paris Police for details – Dan knew full well that the French preferred to sweep the entire incident under the rug.
“I think you are too modest, Detective! Now please, you MUST accept my summons to dinner this evening so that I may know the details of your feat!” Bakari commanded boisterously.
Dan did a less-than-perfect job of masking his distaste for the high-pressure tactic with which the invitation had been delivered, but he kept his tone even as he responded. “I’m sorry, Mr. Bakari, I have other plans for this evening.”
The ambassador countered quickly. “I am leaving tomorrow morning for a tour of the other islands, and I shall not return until Friday. You must change your plan for this evening!”
“I’m sorry – that’s just not possible. I have an important commitment,” Williams insisted quietly.
“With your wife?”
“No – I’m not married—”
“With other loved ones then?
They will understand!”
McGarrett stood as he felt his friend’s umbrage rising with each interrogative lobbed at him. Dan’s gaze did not waver from the man as he fired back his unequivocal answer. “That is not the point – a commitment is just that.”
Steve and Kono shared a quick glance as they knew the reason for their colleague’s reticence to speak frankly about his plans for the evening. Williams was to be in attendance at an award ceremony and dinner honoring Chin for his bravery during the Pearl Harbor attack.
A young, civilian dock worker at the time, Kelly – at great risk to himself – pulled several U.S. servicemen from the water just before a fiery oil slick would have engulfed them. It was not until recently that the previously-unsung hero had been identified as the Five-0 detective. Along with Mai Kelly – Chin’s wife of twenty five years – Chin’s Palace ohana were invited to the affair at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. The Chinese detective believed they were all attending a Pearl Harbor memorial dinner. That he was the guest of honor was to be a complete surprise to him, and as far as anyone could tell, the secret had been maintained.
Deciding that it was time to intercede, McGarrett detected that a bit of physical intimidation might be necessary to bring this pushy diplomat under control, so he stepped close enough to the little man to make sure his much taller presence would be absorbed – at the very least – as a subconscious disadvantage. “Mr. Bakari, I think Detective Williams has made it clear that he has another obligation. Now, as you so astutely observed earlier, we are in fact very busy battling the criminal element today.”
Bakari had opened his mouth to speak before the imposing lead detective made it clear that Dan’s plans for the evening were no longer open for discussion. He paused for a moment and studied McGarrett before he apparently decided that the man was not to be dismissed. Then he canted his head in acquiescence. “Yes, of course – if this is the case, then Detective Dan-ee can attend me at Governor Jam-ee-son’s dinner on Friday.”
Definitely not liking the subservient sound of Bakari’s plan, Dan opened his mouth to speak, but stopped as it dawned on him that the sheik was no longer speaking to him. He was actually addressing Steve. It was as if Bakari suddenly realized that he’d been asking permission of the servant when he should’ve been negotiating with the master. Despite his exasperation, Williams held his tongue as his mentor responded.
“I’m afraid Detective Williams will not be at the governor’s party.” Steve, with thoughts of setting the example for his second, countered with a calmness he knew his blood pressure would belie.
“That can be changed though – I am certain of that!” The ambassador pressed.
McGarrett tensed as he sensed that Williams was losing his willingness to control his penchant for bluntness, but before the head of Five-0 could architect a response, Dan found his voice.
“Well, Mr. Bakari, I have to confess that, as much as I relish the idea of spending my Friday evening at a stuffy dinner party engaged in tedious banter, I do have a previous engagement.”
It was only his boss’s sharp look and body language that made Dan catch himself and refrain from any further commentary as the sheik blinked at him. To the surprise of all the detectives in the room, the man burst into laughter.
“Ahh, my young policeman friend, to hear the truth is refreshing, and it inspires me to do the same! I would also prefer to not attend the festivities, but what can I do – it is my job. But that will be our secret, eh!” Still chuckling, he extended his hand to the taken-aback – and suspicious – detective. “Now, I am certain I have taken too much of your time. If you will excuse me!”
Bakari turned, and McGarrett, with an irate that-was-a-close-one glance back at his second-in-command, escorted the ambassador to the door. Not quite willing to apologize for his protégé’s less-than-tactful, albeit brutally true remark, the lead detective mustered an enjoy-your-visit-to-the-other-islands parting salvo before he closed his office door and turned slowly to glower at Williams. “Oh THAT was a good one, Danno. Stuffy dinner party? And what was that other thing? Oh yes – tedious banter! Why didn’t you tell him what you REALLY thought?”
Williams, not over his indignation at the ambassador, wore the angry expression of one unjustly accused of a crime, but reason was seeping in enough to make him understand why his boss was unhappy with him. He hadn’t maintained a very good grip on his self-control. A sheepish contrition began to crowd out other emotions, and he muttered as he looked away from his mentor’s stern countenance. “Sorry.”
McGarrett remained near the door, and put his hands on his hips as he studied his detective. In the years since he’d hired the young detective from the HPD ranks, he’d come to know that Danno was generally very even keeled, and as time passed, it was obvious to the head of Five-0 that his second-in-command was growing tougher to push into open displays of anger – an observation which Steve idly made with a measure of envy. But there were times when the temper, buried not far below William’s congenial surface, would flare up too quickly for McGarrett to head off the behavior.
On this occasion though, Steve had the sense that the annoying-but-jovial little sheik would not have set off his second-in-command if Williams were in his typical humor and frame of mind. Danno had been tense and out-of-sorts all day. The head of Five-0 had noticed it in passing earlier, but found it expedient to assume that his detective was merely feeling the same pressure his boss felt during the holiday season.
In accordance with an axiom of Murphy’s Law, the workload always seemed to increase in direct proportion to the amount of time off the staff wanted and to the number of his own mandatory social obligations. For years, Steve always picked up the slack on his own, coming in a little earlier, working a little later, sleeping a little less – to accommodate the shortfalls in man power and holiday schedules. When Dan accepted the second-in-command position a few years earlier though, things changed. The young officer took his duty to support his boss very seriously, and flat-out refused to allow McGarrett to carry the extra-heavy December workload alone.
It wasn’t that Dan didn’t enjoy his time off and social situations – as a matter of fact, Williams was the primary promoter / sponsor of the Christmas party each year. Rather, Steve realized, it was his protégé’s dedication to him, professionally – as a one of the most committed and naturally brilliant police detectives he’d ever known, and personally – as a friend… the rare and amazing almost-mind-reading kind of friend who offered unwavering support through victory and defeat alike… the kind who seemed undaunted by and accepting of personality flaws… the kind who kept his friend’s personal secrets as close to his vest as his own.
Yes, McGarrett’s life was an order of magnitude easier with Williams around – and the fact that Steve was so comfortable in Dan’s presence frequently made his friend invisible to him. As with every other Pearl Harbor Day, most of McGarrett’s attention had been occupied with the oversight of whatever special events required police attention -- until that moment in his office as he stared at Williams’ back. With no small amount of embarrassment that he hadn’t pondered it before, he recalled that Dan had lost both of his parents in the attack that morning thirty years earlier. Steve had never inquired as to the details of their deaths – it seemed like such a painful topic, and one distant enough that he thought it was perhaps best left buried. Williams had been three years old – his memory of events had to be sketchy at best.
On this particular day, the added anticipation / preparation for the surprise award ceremony was adding to the mix of pressure. Could it be that the Pearl Harbor Day events annually re-tilled an old wound in his friend’s heart? What half-baked memories Steve could siphon up from the well of his mind lent credence to the theory that this was the case. Each year, Dan was involved to some degree, for duty-related reasons, with one or more of the various commemorative events. Steve struggled to recall specific observations about his second-in-command in previous years, but could only dredge up impressions of Danno’s disposition. It seemed to him that his detective was perhaps a little less animated… a little more quiet… sullen even. Dan never volunteered a reason, and always seemed to bounce back by the next day, coincidentally his birthday.
The wind of irritation was rapidly leaving his emotional sails as McGarrett found himself sympathizing with his friend, who each year was possibly/probably forced to silently endure the traumatic recollection of becoming an orphan. Steve made a mental note to keep an eye on his friend for the balance of the day, and then he sighed and dropped the frown as he shook his head. “Well, with any luck, he didn’t realize he was being insulted.”
“I didn’t mean to insult him,” Dan offered as he wandered back toward the chalk board. “I guess I wasn’t very diplomatic.”
“Oh, diplomats are experts at insulting each other, my friend. They’re just well versed at doing it POLITELY.” Steve arched his eye brows for emphasis as he returned to his desk. A long-suffering, thin smile made its way to his face. “Stuffy dinner party… if only it weren’t true.”
A round of appetizers and drinks for the all of the attendees of the Twentieth Annual Pearl Harbor Award Ceremony kicked off the evening of tribute, which was to be hosted by Governor Jameson. The event was held each year to recognize the contributions of individuals whose selfless acts of bravery saved lives on the Day of Infamy. Most years, the guest or guests of honor were aware of the agenda for the evening, but because Chin Ho Kelly had not come forward of his own accord (One of the sailors Kelly saved recognized him from a recent photograph in the newspaper.), the event planners decided to enlist the aid of the hero’s family and friends to pull off a surprise award. Despite a few close calls, the secret had been successfully kept.
The reservation card in the center of the table read, “KELLY.” Chin, under the impression that he and his wife were seated at the Five-0 table, was perplexed and amused that the group’s reservation was in his name. The round table at the front of the banquet hall was conveniently close to the podium where the awards would be presented. It was large enough to accommodate the entire party, which consisted of Chin, Mai, Steve, Dan, Jenny, Kono, and his fiancée, Lana.
People milled about the room with beverages and bites of delicacies from the pupu platters with which the Royal Hawaiian waiters circulated. Conversations and laughter nearly drowned out the Hawaiian music which filtered from large woofers and tweeters strategically placed around the edges of the festively decorated hall. McGarrett took pains to unobtrusively scrutinize his second-in-command, who was seated next to him, almost despondently nursing a soft drink.
“The banter’s not too tedious for you, is it?” McGarrett whispered in Williams’ ear. Dan inhaled slowly and let a grin slip onto his face before he turned his head to meet his friend’s eyes.
“Uhh, no… no, the banter is fine.” The younger detective surveyed McGarrett’s almost-concerned expression, and suddenly felt transparent. “Everything is…” He looked at the napkin he’d unfolded and refolded. “Is fine.”
“Tolerable anyway, huh?” Steve intoned softly – if his friend was agonizing over what was to come, McGarrett wanted him to know that he had a friend in his corner.
Dan turned his head back in his mentor’s direction, but did not look up into the intense blue eyes he knew were boring into him. Williams could feel it – sight and touch were not necessary for him to know that his boss had somehow intuited what he’d thought was well-masked angst. Not certain what he could – or wanted to say at that particular moment, he started slowly. “Steve…”
“Honey, you doin’ okay?” Jenny’s gentle voice startled both men as she re-took her seat next to Dan. “You’ve been awfully quiet – and I haven’t heard a single joke out of you since we sat down.”
“I’m saving all my material for the Christmas party,” Dan, relieved at the secretary’s interruption, quipped as he flashed her a heart-melting smile. He knew that a private conversation with the man on his left was coming in the foreseeable future, but just before the presentation of Chin’s award was not the time to bare his soul.
“If everyone will please be seated, we’ll begin.”
A tuxedoed master of ceremonies announced from the microphone at the nearby lectern. People meandered back to their seats and grew silent as Governor Jameson was introduced. As the applause for Jameson subsided and the man began his introductory remarks, Dan’s thoughts wandered back to Steve’s gentle probe of his state of mind.
However he’d managed it, McGarrett had figured it out, or at least suspected. It always started with a vague uneasiness at the beginning of the day, and progressed into near illness as conversations about that day struck his ears. Of course, personal stories were to be expected living in a place where the surprise assault had affected so many so deeply. Dan had always shunned memorial services and ceremonies which remembered the tragic day, but when he came aboard Five-0, security-related duties invariably sucked him into situations where he could not avoid them. In those cases, he did his level best to suck it up as quietly as possible. Until this moment, he thought he’d been doing an above-average job of it.
This year though, the torment was particularly intense. Was it because he’d allowed the dread about this evening to build up in his mind? Or perhaps he’d subconsciously merged his mourning over Jane’s murder, the first anniversary of which was only a few days away, into his annual Pearl Harbor neurosis? The only thing of which he was certain was that he wanted the month to end quickly so that he could get on with his life.
Now… for his colleague and friend, he would sit here and endure the re-telling of what Dan knew were incredibly heroic actions on the Chin’s part. Yes, he would sit and count the threads in the table cloth… see how long he could hold his breath (without anyone noticing of course)… focus on anything but what was being said… Ninety nine bottles of beer on the wall, ninety nine bottles of beer, take one down, pass it around…
McGarrett noticed that Williams seemed completely focused on the palm of his hand rather than on what the speaker was saying, and decided that inward direction would be how his friend would sustain himself through the discourse. Yes, he would have to delicately interrogate Danno later.
In the meantime, the head of Five-0 leaned back in his chair and listened to the governor re-count the horrifying minutes leading up to capsizing of the damaged Minesweeper Cardinal near Kuahua and across from where the flag of the battleship USS West Virginia still waved proudly despite the fact that the entire ship was underwater. Jameson dramatically told of the seven men who were flung into the oil-coated harbor. Their only hope was to make it through the fiery waves to the old dock at Kuahua.
Chin listened silently, but his expression quickly changed from one of polite interest to vivid recollection. He fidgeted slightly in his seat and exchanged glances with Mai and his Five-0 colleagues as it began to sink in that the honoree that evening was him. After the governor’s eloquent set up, the seven men rose from their seats in the audience and made their way to the podium. They stood around the lectern and took turns describing how they’d managed to make it to the small wooden dock, but found there was no way to get out of the water as the pylons were slippery with algae. Thinking themselves condemned to a fiery death, it was to their great surprise that the Chinese man on the dock above them worked through the strafing from enemy aircraft above and managed to dangle an old ladder far enough down so that the men could grab it and be pulled up. The last man in the water though took a hit from a piece of debris, which was falling all around them, and fell backward into the water. Kelly dove into the water and managed, with the help of the other six sailors, to get the unconscious man out of the harbor just before the area became engulfed in flames.
At that point, they could all see that they were still in deadly peril as explosions shook the earth and fires raged around them. So, moving as quickly as they could, they hurried away from the harbor to find help for the injured. Somehow though, in the ensuing flight for their lives, the stranger, whose name they’d never learned, disappeared from the group by the time they’d passed the oil tank farm. To a man, they were all too severely injured to retrace their path, so all they could do was hope that the brave soul had chosen a different path to safety.
Everyone at the table found themselves transported back by the incredible stories, and were moved by the gratitude espoused by the men from the Cardinal. The former chaplain of the Pearl Naval Hospital joined the saved men at the podium to offer a few more memories about the men as they straggled into the hospital that day. It was at that point that Steve noticed with a small measure of alarm that Dan’s seat was empty. Annoyed that he’d allowed himself to become inattentive, he quietly excused himself and made his way to the open foyer just outside the banquet hall.
The salty breeze from the ocean told McGarrett exactly where he would find his beach-drawn detective. It was a mere twenty paces to an outside lanai with a view of the sand and waves, and it was there that he found Williams, leaning on the bamboo railing. Though Dan’s back was to him, it was apparent to Steve that his friend was weeping. Despite the closeness McGarrett felt with Williams, he still hesitated before he approached. He remembered – when his infant nephew had tragically died – he’d cried openly in Danno’s presence (ONCE UPON A TIME). The grief poured out, and ultimately, he realized that the venting to his second had been a positive experience that had helped him heal much faster. Almost one year ago, when Danno’s girlfriend had been murdered, Steve did try to offer comfort, but somehow – despite Williams’ voiced appreciation – the effort ended up as a stilted shadow of the manner in which Dan had managed to support him. So this time, with another year of friendship under their belts, as awkward as he still felt at the moment, Steve was determined to be the same kind of friend that Danno was to him. He approached not too quietly so as to allow Williams time to decide how he wanted to comport himself.
The footsteps startled Dan, but it only took a whiff of the man’s very expensive aftershave to know that it was his boss who was coming his way. At this point though, the young detective was too overcome with the frightening and – in the end -- incredible memories swirling in his head. He took a few deep breaths though and straightened his suit jacket out just as McGarrett made his way to lean on the railing right next to him. Steve made a point of not looking in his friend’s direction – instead, he stood there as if he thought he were alone. Both men were silent for several seconds before Dan finally turned his head to stare at the taller man next to him. After a slight delay, Steve casually turned his head and made eye contact with Williams. Tears rolled freely down Dan’s cheeks, but he seemed amused as he stared with a surprising confidence at his mentor.
“No matter how hard I tried to not listen, the words sank in… You ever heard of synchronicity, Steve?”
“Hmm, it sounds familiar,” McGarrett responded softly.
“A psychologist – Carl Jung – coined it. Basically, he believed that there is no such thing as coincidence.” Williams glanced over at his friend and grinned. “I’m beginning to believe it too.”
The taller man stepped back from the railing and dropped his hands into his pockets. “Danno, I’m so… well, I just wish that I’d been…. Well, you know if you ever want to bow out of any of the Pearl Harbor remembrances—”
Williams looked up suddenly at his mentor, and interrupted gently. “No. I don’t think that will happen. It’s good to remember.” Dan laughed softly as he wiped the tears from his cheeks with the palms of both hands.
“Do you want to talk about it?” McGarrett offered.
Another gentle chuckle came from Dan before he answered. “I think I have to talk about it. Guess that’s been my problem all along.”
Both men tuned in quickly to the announcement of Chin’s name in the banquet hall. With a final meaningful visual exchange and brief mutual arm squeeze, the two detectives returned to their seats to hear their colleague give a brief, but poignant speech. The Chinese officer thanked everyone for the acknowledgements and expressed his own gratitude for helping him to close a chapter that had long been open as he wondered what had become of the men from the dock. With that, he slipped away from the podium to a standing ovation and a round of hand shakes and hugs from the people at the Kelly table. The plaque he’d received was admired as the announcement came that dinner would be served shortly.
“You all right, Danny?” Chin was looking across at Williams, who did look flushed and emotionally drained.
The detective nodded slowly, and then shot an uncertain glance at McGarrett, whose reassuring countenance gave him the strength he needed to continue. “Chin… I… I know you’ve heard your share of stories this evening about what happened on this day thirty years ago, but I need for you to sit through one more.”
Everyone at the table exchanged glances as Williams slowly as he began. “You saved more than seven people that day. There was a little boy – three years old… wasn’t there?” The question was spoken softly and rang with a certainty that told everyone at the table that it wasn’t really a question. The Chinese detective’s eyes grew marginally larger in surprise, and then he smiled as his recollection matched his younger colleague’s gently-delivered accusation, but could not seem to find any words.
It didn’t matter as Williams continued with the story. “He didn’t know until years later why his mother had snatched him from his bed so early that morning and taken him to the place where they could see the big ships. It turned out that his father – a lieutenant in the Navy – was coming home that day. He didn’t remember his father and wasn’t really sure exactly what it meant to have one around, but it made his mother so happy to speak of his homecoming.”
Dan looked away for several seconds as the subject obviously shook his composure. The detectives, Mai, Jenny, and Lana all sat there, in paralyzing silence until Williams looked back at them with a shy smile, which evaporated as he re-joined the memory.
“When the bombs started falling, his mother picked him up and ran. It was like the world was… was coming apart at the seams. The ground shook, and the noise was beyond anything the boy could’ve imagined. He buried his face in his mother’s shoulder and clutched her with everything he had, but somehow – and he’s still to this day not sure how – she was ripped away from him. The next thing he remembered was the sound of screams and more explosions. His face stung and he realized that his knees and hands were bleeding, and his new shirt – the one his mother made him promise to keep clean – was torn.” The teary detective looked down at his tie for a few moments, and each person at the table knew he could see the damaged article of clothing as if he were wearing it at that moment.
Williams sniffed briefly and looked back up at the gripped Oriental man across the table. “The water nearby burned, but there was someone on the dock – with a ladder… holding it while sailors climbed up. The boy watched for awhile… even as the planes flew over and made the dirt around him fly into his eyes. And then something happened… a nearby ship tipped on its side like a toy and it exploded. Everyone on the dock – even the ones who looked hurt started running. The boy was so… so scared. His mother was just gone… it was like she’d evaporated. He crawled under a car and watched the legs of people as they rushed past. He could see they were running from a fire that was coming his way… probably following a trail of fuel.”
The tenor in Dan’s voice rose, and he spoke a little more quickly. “Suddenly, a voice called to him, and he turned to see the face of a Chinese man crouched down – the face was scratched and smudged with black streaks. He was speaking, but the boy was too rattled to take in the man’s meaning. If the man had any sense of self-preservation, he would’ve joined the throng of fleeing people. Instead, he stayed there, on his knees, with the fire fast approaching and all manner of metal ship parts raining down all around him… offering his hand to the petrified little boy.” Dan slowly held out one hand, palm up, and did not attempt to control the quake before he let his arm gently drop to the table.
“Finally, the kid inched toward him until the man was able to grab his arm and drag him from his hiding place. The man picked him up and ran – much faster than his mother could’ve ever run.”
Williams looked down at the table. “And it was a good thing because explosions chased them right up the road, past the big oil tanks. When the boy opened his eyes again, he looked back to see his hiding place jeep on its side and in flames. The man carried him a long way and finally they made it to a hospital, where the boy had to be pried loose from the man’s neck. The man grinned, and promised him that he would be fine… that everything would be okay again one day… no matter how bad it seemed right then. That was the last time the little boy ever saw the man who saved him.” Dan looked up, tears pooling in his eyes, and looked at the equally emotional Chinese detective across the table. “Or so he thought.”
Tears were streaming down the faces of all three women at the table. Jenny reached into her purse and retrieved a handkerchief before she wept through her question. “Did the little boy’s mother find him?”
A crocodile-size tear rolled down Williams’ cheek, but he didn’t seem to notice as he shook as head. “No… she never came. I don’t know how long it was – days… nights passed before the lady who carried the coloring book and crayons in her pocket came and told the boy that neither his mother nor his father would be coming to collect him. He didn’t understand what that meant for quite awhile… years maybe. Eventually, though, what the Chinese man had promised him came to pass, and everything became okay again.”
Steve surreptitiously touched the corner of his eye to head off a tear ready to spill, and looked away as he squeezed his friend’s arm. Amazed that such a connection between his two detectives had been hidden for so many years, he marveled at the order in the universe which periodically revealed itself. Synchronicity… hmm…
For the first time since Dan had begun his story, Chin shifted in his seat and ran his hand over his face. Finally, he spoke, his voice thick with emotion. “I remember that shell-shocked, cherry-cheeked little boy… with yellow curls and big, round blue eyes.” The older detective’s eyes misted over, causing him to look towards his lap for several seconds before he steeled himself and moved on. “I couldn’t believe dat tiny creature peeking at me from under the jeep could be wandering around alone, but there he was... I couldn’t tell how badly he was hurt – and the little guy just didn’t have a word to say, so I took him to Tripler. I prayed he’d be okay when the nurse took him from me, and then I hurried home to check on my mother and father.” Chin took in a breath and slowly released it. “Life was crazy for a couple weeks, but one day I saw a story in the Honolulu Star… It was about an unidentified boy who’d been dropped off at Tripler Hospital during the attack. Nobody’d come looking for him, and he still wasn’t talking. The article requested that anybody with information about the kid come forward. When I called though, I was told that the boy had been collected. Whoever was on the phone didn’t know any details. I was just glad he was with his ohana again.”
Mai squeezed her husband’s arm and tearfully asked, “Why you never tell this story?”
The detective leaned towards his wife and grinned as he wiped a tear from her cheek. “You know old Chinese proverb, dear. Silent gift is truly one of the heart.”
Dan ran his palm over his own damp face and twisted his mouth into a lop-sided grin. “Those Chinese proverb guys really had a way with words.”
Jenny chided Five-0’s second-in-command as she carefully dabbed at her mascara. “And Danny Williams, why haven’t you ever told this story?”
The men at the table all understood that the tale had not been one that any man would easily confess as it lay bare a time of frailty and weakness – it did not matter that the vulnerability had long since vanished with adulthood. That Williams had shared what had happened was a testament to his trust in the people that sat around the table – his ohana.
Dan chuckled as he admitted, “Jenny girl, a guy doesn’t like to tell a story if he knows he’ll end up crying like a baby!”
McGarrett, touched and impressed with his friend’s easy candor, regrouped with a mediating comment. “I’m sure there’s a Chinese proverb out there somewhere that can explain it!”
McGarrett heard the outer door to the office open and then waft shut a few seconds later. Knowing it had to be his second-in-command, he rose from his desk and strode to open his office door. Dan was already entering his cubicle as he looked up and revealed no surprise that he saw his boss standing there, his tie and suit jacket missing, and his shoulder harness devoid of a weapon.
“You’re late,” was the matter-of-fact greeting from the head of Five-0.
Williams grinned as he tossed his notebook onto his desk and moved to follow his mentor into the big office. “Don’t you mean, ‘It’s late?’”
“No, I mean Jenny waited an extra thirty minutes in the hope of seeing you before she left for the day.”
Dan groaned and rubbed his eyes as he dropped into the nearest chair in front of the big desk. “I was just too close to stop. I hope you made sure she understood.” The detective looked up at his boss with a mildly cautionary expression and paused as he awaited a response.
McGarrett folded his arms leaned against the front of his desk only a few feet from his detective. “I told her you were questioning the suspect in your robbery-and-murder case, and that it was unlikely you’d leave if you thought you could get a confession.”
“And?” Dan still did not move.
“She’s a cop’s secretary – she took it like a trooper and left a piece of your birthday cake by the coffee pot for you.” McGarrett shrugged as he smiled. “Congratulations, Danno, on the confession!”
Williams let out a slow sigh and smiled. “Thanks, Steve. I have to say that about hour eleven, I was beginning to think that scum bag was gonna hold out overnight, but suddenly, he just cracked and spilled his guts!”
“Heck of a way to spend your birthday, and that’s a quote from Jenny!”
“It was a great present though!”
Dan’s smile grew larger with satisfaction. His informant, Joey, had come through early that morning with information on the whereabouts of the dangerous suspect Williams had been seeking. Dan called for a few backup units, and surrounded the bungalow where the man had been laying low between hold ups. With very little fanfare, the deceptively harmless-appearing, almost book-wormy man was taken into custody. The unexpected capture delighted Dan – it was true – there weren’t many gifts out there that would’ve made the young detective happier than jailing the lowlife who would have no problem murdering someone for a few bucks. Five-0’s second-in-command knew that it was best to question the suspect before he had too much time to think things through, so spent the better part of twelve hours in one of the interrogation rooms at HPD reviewing evidence and questioning his prisoner.
“Yeah, I agree,” McGarrett looked at his watch— seven PM. “How ‘bout we close down shop early, and I’ll buy you a birthday dinner?”
Williams’ tired, but mirthful expression brightened. “Early? Well, maybe just this once!”
The two Five-0 men were seated on the vacant side of the quiet, but elegant Waikiki restaurant called Horatio’s, where McGarrett was clearly a regular customer. The wait staff knew him by name and his preference for non-alcoholic beverages. Dan declined to look at the wine list as well despite his friend’s behest to drink if he so chose. Instead, Williams took coffee.
“I was up too late last night and too early this morning to be tipping anything except caffeine,” Williams explained.
Steve nodded his agreement. “Yeah, well speaking of last night – you, uh… you doing okay?”
A reticent smile slipped onto the younger detective’s face. “I’m doing better than I’ve done in a year.” He let his eyes wander for several moments to the long wall aquarium, which separated the bar from the dining room. “I’ve always felt sort of… sort of disconnected from the rest of the world at this time of year. I guess between Pearl and my birthday and Christmas, a spotlight seemed to shine on everything I’ve lost.” He looked back at his boss. “Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining about how things turned out. The Kulanis did right by me, and I’ll owe them a debt of gratitude ‘til the day I die. And Aunt Clara… well, I owe her a lot too.” Slowly he looked back toward the aquarium again.
“But…” McGarrett said softly.
Dan didn’t move for several seconds as he considered a response. Finally, he sighed. His mentor was too perceptive… was coming to know him too well. He hesitantly looked back into the discerning expression. “But… I guess the depressing – and frightening – memory of that… that un-tethered, adrift sensation just wouldn’t be put to rest so easily.”
Williams stopped talking long enough for the waiter to fill two coffee cups and set them on the table. As the man quietly made an exit, the younger detective grinned crookedly and made eye contact with his attentive mentor. “When it began to sink in that it was Chin who’d yanked me out from under that jeep and carried me to the hospital, it hit me that there’d been this incredible thread of conditions that had occurred in order to have us end up where we are. And for reasons I can’t explain… maybe it’s the sense that a higher authority has a plan for my life and that I’m on track.. or maybe it’s because it makes the world seem a little smaller… I don’t know why, but the fact that this connection had existed almost my entire life made me feel somehow… connected to humanity… and more importantly, to someone with whom I was meant to have a lasting connection.” Williams looked away for a few moments before his gaze returned to the man across the small table. “I know that doesn’t make much sense.”
The head of Five-0 spoke up, his own expression revealing concentration as he struggled to formulate the words which would describe what he meant. “But I think maybe it does, Danno. I understand exactly what you mean about feeling un-tethered and disconnected.” McGarrett hesitated for a few seconds as his deeply-ingrained resistance to admitting feelings reared its head. He studied his friend and, as usual, saw no sign of condemnation. Rather, it was apparent that Williams was desperately interested. With that knowledge as his weapon, he quickly smote the mental dragon which was holding his tongue and trod into the subjective territory. “Some Decembers – less so in recent years,” Steve qualified as he recalled the sensation was less intense since he’d come into Danno’s welcome sphere of influence. “I’ve felt like I’m merely observing events from a remote vantage point…. despite the fact that I might’ve well been standing in a crowded room of friendly people.”
Dan knew that his friend’s only living relatives were now his baby sister, Mary Ann, and her husband, Tom Whalen. Williams had befriended them during a vacation-turned-hostage situation a couple of years earlier, and had since been considered an adopted member of the McGarrett-Whalen ohana (FANFIC: BONDS). It was a good feeling… one of belonging, and he cherished it. But Dan knew that the Whalens, as welcoming as they were, did not understand the two Five-0 detectives’ commitment to their jobs and their shared passion to see justice prevail. Williams sensed – though the two men had never spoken of it – that his big-brother-mentor-boss believed a separation between him and his sister was a result of her complete lack of comprehension about what made her very protective big brother tick. It didn’t make McGarrett love her any less – and vice versa – but it did serve to keep the pair at a distance.
Some of McGarrett’s isolating barriers were of his own making. He’d chosen to maintain his military, don’t-fraternize-with-the-troops policy for years – until Williams joined the organization and managed to penetrate the aloof shell behind which his brilliant boss existed. It wasn’t that the shell was gone – it’s just that Dan seemed able to navigate his way inside more often than not. Against a skill like that, the head of Five-0 was generally defenseless, so he’d relented and allowed the friendship to blossom. Steve didn’t ponder it frequently, but when he did, it never failed to strike him how incredibly fortunate he was to have a friend as priceless as Danno.
McGarrett continued his train of thought. “You feel connected because you’ve discovered a shared experience … which tells you you’re not alone on your path.”
Dan nodded slowly at first and then a little more quickly as he agreed with his mentor’s assessment. “Yeah, Steve… yeah. And the fact that it was an experience that happened at such a turning point in my life makes me feel that I was not as alone as I felt.”
“Just coffee, bruddah?”
Dan turned as the familiar voice broke the contemplative mood. Kono, Lana, Chin, and Jenny were all approaching with gifts. With the knowledge that his boss had been the hook for the little surprise gathering, Williams fired an I-get-it glance at McGarrett, who offered a slight shrug with his mission-accomplished smirk. The guest of honor did his best to seem pleased, but he secretly regretted that he and Steve would not be able to complete their interesting – and somewhat rare – almost psychoanalytical dialogue. Jenny playfully chastised Dan for making them push their reservation back a full hour. With mock chagrin, he offered an apology as Kono and Chin pushed two more tables together and everyone took their seats. Five-0’s second-in-command decided – after a meaningful visual exchange with Steve – that perhaps enough had been said between the two friends. After all, each knew that the other understood the connection sentiment – and that, in itself, was a connecting event. Another good birthday gift, Dan reflected before he turned his attention towards the animated conversation of his friends.
Dan violently swung at the air with clenched fists, and then spun once before he swung a couple more times. “No! No! Pleeeeease, no!” His strained voice was no louder than a whisper, but his actions screamed. The outraged detective then stood frozen in place near the lanai French doors. “I have plans!” he rasped.
His boss, who sat at his desk with his ear to the phone, seemed neither surprised nor phased by his detective’s behavior. Instead, he focused on the voice on the other end of the line. “Yes, sir… I understand. My concern is that Sheik Bakari would take offense when Danno can’t give… yes, sir… yes… Very well, I’ll speak with him… Thank you, Governor.”
McGarrett returned the phone handset to its resting place and folded his hands primly upon his desk top as he rotated his head to observe his nearby second-in-command. It was abundantly clear that the young detective was not happy. “Are you going to roll on the floor and hold your breath too?”
“You’re gonna make me go to the dinner party, aren’t you?!” Williams accused, ignoring his boss’s displeased taunt.
“I’m not going to MAKE you do anything, Danno! You heard me – I told the governor I’d speak with you. His Highness Sheik Omar Bakari has unsurprisingly requested – through Jameson – the honor of your presence this evening. Whether or not you accept the invitation is up to you!”
This information only served to further incite the detective. “Oh, that’s even worse! I have to choose – death by firing squad or death by hanging!”
Williams was politically savvy enough to see that declining such an invitation could ill serve not only him in the future, but Five-0. When the boss’s boss made a request, there was no doubt that it was no request. So, the young detective knew if he chose to send his regrets, then “punishment” would be meted out slowly and subtly – death by hanging.
McGarrett smiled thinly as he pulled a file from his IN box. “I recommend the firing squad – it won’t be as stuffy as you think.”
The musty, old-book air wafted into Steve’s nostrils as he sat at the microfiche reader in the main branch of the Honolulu Library. He shot a glance at his watch, mindful that he would need to tie up a few loose ends at the office before he could go home, clean up, and dress for the dinner party. But this was a long-overdue project, and he was determined to not shelve it for another season – especially in the wake of the amazing revelations at the awards banquet, and Danno’s intriguing and poignant confession of the previous evening. McGarrett began to wonder whether a little meat-and-potatoes detective work wouldn’t yield a little more information about his second’s “connecting event.” Chin had mentioned an article in the newspaper, and that seemed to be a logical starting place.
Scanning the pages, he stopped periodically when some headline about the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack caught his eye. So many tales of tragedy, but it seemed that each was countered with a mention about an act of bravery or deed which raised his estimation of humanity.
After half an hour of studying the Honolulu Star copy which hit the newsstands in December of 1941, the article he sought jumped at him as his eyes latched onto the black-and-white photo of a toddler. The child, a toy airplane clutched to his chest as if someone outside the camera’s view were threatening to take it away, was as Chin described -- a cloud of light curls floated around the small face with large, concerned eyes and a slight pout to the lips. McGarrett, even as his heart went out to the little guy, couldn’t help but smirk – he’d seen the exact same expression on his second-in-command on more than one occasion. With the image absorbed, he turned to the associated article for more information.
Do You Know This Child?
In the wake of the attack, we’re finding that not all victims at Pearl Harbor were wearing uniforms of our nation’s armed services. On that fateful morning, a child, whom doctors estimate to be between two and three years of age, was deposited by a dock worker into the arms of Commander Margaret Wickham at Tripler Hospital. Wickham, the Chief of Nursing Services for Tripler, says the unidentified Good Samaritan could offer no information about the small, blood-covered waif except to say that he’d collected him as he fled from imminent danger near the harbor. “Everyone coming through the door that day was scared – I can only imagine how terrified a baby, somehow separated from a care taker in the confusion, must’ve felt,” Wickham reported.
An examination of the little patient revealed numerous scrapes, cuts, and bruises, but no serious injuries. Since his admittance, the child, dubbed Baby John Doe, has not spoken, and numerous concerted attempts to elicit information have proved futile. As a result, Baby Doe’s ability to speak has come in to question. Colonel Warren Franklin, the chief of staff at Tripler, believes that shock may be the root cause of his youngest patient’s silence, since the child seems normal in all other regards. Baby Doe is 34 inches tall, weighs 26 pounds, and has memorable curly, blond hair and blue eyes. Anyone with information about the identity of this child is asked to contact Patient Services at Tripler.
Steve noted with a touch of sadness that the plea for help in locating Dan’s family was in the December 24th issue of the paper. Danno had spent not only his third birthday, but his third Christmas surrounded by strangers – waiting for parents who were no more. This after witnessing what seemed like an earth-ending event… No wonder he wasn’t talking, the detective mused as he shook his head.
Wasting no time, he quickly pulled and scanned subsequent issues of the Star, searching for the follow-up story he knew had to be there – no paper would leave such a heart-wrenching story unfinished. It only took a few minutes to find what he sought.
Tripler’s Baby Doe Identified
The unidentified toddler who was turned over to Tripler Hospital personnel during the Pearl Harbor attack now has a name. Yesterday afternoon, friends of his family identified Baby John Doe as Danny Williams, the three-year-old son of Lieutenant Johnathon Elliott Williams and his wife, Madeleine Williams. Sadly, both parents were killed during the attack. It is believed that Mrs. Williams brought her son to Pearl Harbor to greet his father, whose ship, the USS Phantom had pulled in for re-fitting early that morning. Lieutenant Williams died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds, probably from a strafing run by one of the Japanese aircraft. Mrs. Williams is thought to have been caught in one of the numerous explosions which rocked the earth near the harbor. How her young son escaped the same fate is, to date, a mystery.
Lieutenant Williams is survived by his younger brother, Navy Petty Officer Second Class James Williams, who will assume custody of little Danny upon return from his current tour of duty. U.S. Army Lt Colonel Michael Edward Williams, the eldest of the Williams brothers, is currently listed as missing in action on the European front. Army officials have declined to offer any further details on Lt Colonel Williams at this time for security reasons. Arrangements for interim care of the child until his uncle’s return have not been finalized.
Steve read the article, and then leaned back in his chair to absorb the very sad facts. Danno’s parents – AND an uncle taken during the course of the war… Nobody could say the Williams clan didn’t sacrifice for their country.
The head of Five-0 shook his head slightly and let his eyes return to the date on the top of the page – December 28th… his own birthday, Steve’s thoughts drifted to the remembrance of his twenty first birthday, which he’d spent at sea – on his first tour of duty – aboard the USS Kill Devil Hills, a spy ship which patrolled close to enemy shores in search of signals intelligence.
He was to have graduated from the Naval Academy in May of 1942, but the need for officers schooled in the military sciences was outpacing supply, so the Secretary of War authorized an accelerated program for select cadets of all military service academies. McGarrett had been among the cream skimmed from his class to graduate one year earlier. His superiors recognized in short order that Ensign McGarrett had the natural makings of a brilliant tactician and code breaker, so he was assigned to Pac Fleet Military Intelligence Operations.
The fact that McGarrett was the youngest officer in his unit did not dissuade the commander of the KDH from delegating the most important responsibilities to the green ensign. The no-nonsense, practical captain took the young man under his wing. He tutored, advised, berated, and confided in Steve, and despite the man’s somewhat gruff demeanor, the young officer had the strong sense that everything his CO did was for his betterment. McGarrett served under the man, who became a beloved and much-respected father figure, until the captain was killed in action the following year.
The horrible memory jolted the detective from his reverie, and he shot a glance at his watch. Feeling a little surprised at the melancholy that his own painful recollections of those days injected into his heart, he tried to shake it off as he pushed the off switch on the fiche reader, rose from the hard wood seat and headed toward the door. The image of the curl-framed, burned-cheek face in the paper slipped into mental focus as he made his way towards the car. His then-silent, young friend had been through quite an ordeal.
As if a slide in a projector had rotated to the next scene, McGarrett remembered his displeased second-in-command. The day had worn on after the call from the governor, and no more had been said of the dinner invitation as both of Five-0’s top cops went on about their business. Williams was busy with the tedious paperwork side of two solved cases, and Steve had been in and out several times on various investigation-related and administrative errands. The few instances that day in which the head of Five-0 had any more interaction with his second were brief exchanges of information – not tense or unpleasant – just of the type which occurred when the workload grew heavier than usual. It was on these occasions when Steve felt the Five-0 office was at its best, running like a well-oiled machine. McGarrett considered the dichotomy between the two personas Danno had revealed on this day. The outraged objector, Steve was pleased to note, was a side which Dan reserved almost exclusively for his boss, away from the view of prying eyes. It was the level-headed, reasonable, and focused professional which now tended to win out in public. A smile flickered across McGarrett’s face as he guided his Mercury into the flow of traffic. He would not be the only one suffering through the stuffy and tedious evening at the Governor’s dinner party. Misery does love company – especially the company of a good friend…
“Danno – what’s it gonna be? Firing squad or hanging?” McGarrett’s inquiry was delivered casually from the doorway of his office.
Jenny’s head snapped up from her steno pad to see her boss’s pleasant expression. Chin and Kono leaned out of their cubicles hoping to discern the meaning of the very strange question.
The target of the question turned to face his boss, but continued moving backward toward the door. He offered a tight-eyed grin and a shrug. “Upon your recommendation, I’m gonna go with the firing squad.”
It was clear to McGarrett that his second was still not pleased with his situation, but, as predicted, he’d calmed down and gained enough perspective to make the correct choice. No surprise registered on the lead detective’s face as he nodded slightly. “I’ll pick you at six thirty – black tie—” And with a hint of a wink, he added, “Blindfold optional.”
Dan smirked and nodded before vanishing out the door, and his boss, with a pleased cant of his head, retreated into his office. Kono and Chin blinked at each other and then turned their gazes to the perplexed secretary, who shrugged. With the silent agreement that the scene they’d just witnessed could not be explained, everyone turned their attention back to their own desks.
“What plans did you cancel this evening?” McGarrett casually inquired as the two men stood at the front door of the Governor’s residence.
Williams absentmindedly straightened his tie as he responded. “I was supposed to attend a meeting at the U of H. Grad students from the Botany Department are heading to the Koolau tomorrow to try to locate what may be a new species of orchid. I was going to give them a little assistance in mapping a route.”
Steve frowned slightly, feeling more than a little guilty suddenly that his friend had “chosen” the path that would cause the least grief for Five-0. He’d assumed that his friend was breaking a casual dinner date.
Before McGarrett could respond, Williams added, “It’s okay though – I made arrangements to meet them early tomorrow morning at the trailhead instead.”
Dan reached over suddenly and lightly touched his boss’s arm. “Steve…” The younger detective hesitated for a moment as his mentor studied him expectantly. “Uh, thanks.”
Williams momentarily re-directed his eyes at the ornate, brass Plumeria doorknocker before he looked back into the penetrating blue eyes. “For being there… the other night at the banquet… I don’t think I’m up to explaining it. I didn’t have a chance to bring it up last night.”
McGarrett understood perfectly, and the eye contact sealed the silent acknowledgement of mutual understanding. Danno had accurately sensed his supportive presence, and appreciated it. Steve recognized at that moment that his friend knew it had not been a natural or easy thing for him. He couldn’t stop a smile from slipping onto his face. “No need, my friend.”
There was no time to wax further as the door swung open and a stocky man, who appearance smacked of Samoan descent, greeted the detectives. “Mr. McGarrett, Mr. Williams, welcome!”
“Good evening, Kalei,” The head of Five-0 nodded as he entered the expansive residence.
“Hi, Kalei – how’s it goin’?” Dan inquired as he stepped past the butler.
“Very well, thanks! The other guests are on the lanai enjoying their drinks before dinner.”
“Thanks, we’ll find ‘em,” Dan spoke over his shoulder as he followed McGarrett through the large foyer toward the hall which would take them to the back of the old, but well-maintained two-story mansion.
The two detectives stepped out onto the torch-lit flagstone area to see a few dozen people standing with drinks, milling about, and sitting on the stone benches, which lined the area. Laughter flared up from one group, and McGarrett noted the presence of the governor and his wife. Just as a young man carrying a tray of Champagne proffered glasses to the two new arrivals, Kalei slipped up beside the lead detective and handed him a tall, thin glass of a translucent pink beverage, an orchid blossom perched delicately on the top. “Special for you, Mr. McGarrett.” The short Samoan winked.
The head of Five-0 knew the drink was a non-alcoholic fruit punch of some sort, and appreciated the fact that his preferences had been duly noted during his visits here. “Thank you, Kalei.”
Dan accepted a glass from the tray just as their presence was acknowledged by the hostess.
“Steve! Danny!” Mary Jameson stepped towards the officers eagerly.
The head of Five-0 grasped her outstretched hand and held, but did not shake it as he returned the petite woman’s greeting. “Mary, it’s nice to see you.” He had to bend slightly as she reached up to kiss his cheek.
“I’m delighted to see that crime has taken a holiday so that you could be here!” Mrs. Jameson’s attention turned to Williams as she added, “And I’m so glad Paul thought to invite you, Danny! How are you doing?” Her expression had an edge of poignancy as she reached to hug the younger detective and give him a peck on the cheek.
Mary Jameson was a good friend and mentor to Jane Michaels as the two women worked together on numerous charitable endeavors in recent years, while Dan came to know the cheerful and energetic governor’s wife as a result of his position with Five-0. It was Mrs. Jameson who introduced Williams to the lovely, but ill-fated brunette, with whom Dan became so smitten. The young detective suspected that Mary knew more about him than he might’ve preferred, but after Jane’s death, the very compassionate older woman helped the detective tie up some loose ends, which had – to Williams’ great dismay – been left for him to cauterize (FANFIC – GIAOUR).
“I’m doing well, Mary, thank you,” Dan supplied after he reciprocated her kiss with one of his own.
She studied him intently for several seconds as if she were trying to judge the veracity of his assertion. Deciding the woman needed convincing, Williams added emphatically with a smile, “Really, I promise!”
McGarrett nodded slightly when Mary looked in his direction for what he took to be concurrence. Finally, she nodded her acceptance of the words, and insisted that they carve out a few minutes to catch up at some point during the evening. Dan warmly agreed, and with a wink at the head of Five-0, she slipped away to greet more incoming guests.
The two detectives closed ranks again, but before either could comment a voice boomed out. “Detective Danny!” Sheik Omar Bakari was rapidly sauntering in the direction of the two officers.
McGarrett smiled and spoke under his breath. “Have fun, Danno.”
The next interrupting declaration was as sudden as the previous one, but this time, it was the loud, but sultry voice of a woman. “Stephen, darling! How IS my favorite bachelor?”
Williams grinned as he saw Delia Sharp, a wealthy divorcee’ – and major contributor to Governor Jameson’s election campaigns, sidling towards his boss. The attractive woman made no secret that she was in the market for another husband, and Steve McGarrett frequently found himself in her sights. Dan took a measure of devilish delight in his boss’s quiet groan.
“You too, Steve!” Dan dug softly. The two detectives exchanged weak smirks of commiseration before they turned to their respective obligations.
It was almost nine thirty before McGarrett and Williams managed to do anything more than glance at each other as their time was occupied by the standard interviews of interested guests. The pair finally convened at the edge of the lanai by a lit tiki torch. With a grin, the taller detective launched the question, “Well?”
Dan smiled slightly and
responded softly. “If I hear one more, ‘Who do you think committed those arsons in
Steve chuckled. “At least you escaped the sheik’s clutches in under an hour by my watch.”
“Thanks to Mary,” Williams nodded.
“I owe her too.” The head of Five-0 slowly turned to lean on the railing, which encircled the lanai.
Dan snickered and followed suit. “Yeah, I think you were about to end up folded into Mrs. Sharp’s purse with that perfumed handkerchief!”
With a short laugh, McGarrett admitted the truth of the tease, but quickly changed the subject to query his friend about how he’d managed to politely avoid answering the pushy sheik’s questions. The two detectives spoke quietly, their conversation punctuated by laughter and the occasional gentle shove on the shoulder. Neither man considered it consciously, but it would probably have been apparent to anyone who might’ve studied them over the course of the evening, that those minutes there were enjoyed more than the rest.
The palsy in the old woman’s hand caused the tea in her cup to tremble. Mary Jameson shot a silent instruction to her husband, who complied immediately by sliding a rogue napkin near his elbow in the direction of their guest. His wife gently slipped the cloth onto the floral dress beneath the quaking cup of Peggy Bartlett, whose was attention was too drawn to another scene to be aware of the kindness.
“Paul and I are so happy you’re in town for our get-together, Peggy,” the governor’s wife gently touched crepe-textured skin on the arm of her guest.
“Thank you, my dear,” Peggy Bartlett did not look at her hostess as she acknowledged the pleasantry. “I miss living here already, but what can I do? My niece is just adamant that I must live with her in California now that I need more help getting around.”
Governor Jameson spoke up as he noted who held the woman’s attention. “Did you have a chance to speak with Danny this evening?”
“I did, Paul. He seems to have recovered well from the tragedy with Jane.”
May nodded as she assured, “I interrogated him as well, and Steve promised me that our dear friend is doing well.”
“Steve… is his boss.” The old woman started slowly, but stopped to smile, almost as if she could hear what the two detectives in her line of sight were laughing about. “They’re friends… very good friends, I think.”
The governor looked towards the head of Five-0 and his second and concurred quietly. “Yes, Peggy… very good friends indeed, and I have to say that the relationship has done Steve a world of good.” He sighed and continued as if the words were an admission to himself rather than an observation for the ears of his elderly guest. “I never met a man more dedicated to keeping his distance from people.”
“You never knew my Roger,” Peggy’s lip quivered slightly before her mouth twisted into a sad smile. “That man was the same way after our son died… until that ensign captured his imagination.” For the first time since the conversation began, she made eye contact with her hosts. “I’ll just never forget how he gushed about Stephen in his letters. He completely adopted the young man, and it gave him back something he’d lost.”
“Did you ever meet the adopted ensign?” Mary queried as she delicately accepted the china cup from the woman and placed it on the table.
Bartlett’s brow furled slightly and she sighed. “No… he perished with Roger when their ship went down, and because of the tight security surrounding the Kill Devil Hills and its mission, I was never able to even learn his last name.”
“Kill Devil Hills?” Paul Jameson jerked upright, startling his wife and jostling the tea cup. “Ensign Stephen?”
The old woman focused on the governor, whose body language suddenly screamed surprise. Jameson’s eyes grew large his head turned slowly to re-focus on the two chatting detectives. “Ensign Stephen McGarrett.” The words were not a question, and the two women sitting there looked at each other as the man’s meaning sank in. In tandem, their eyes drew to the Five-0 men, who were blissfully oblivious to their audience.
Peggy Bartlett’s eyes slowly filled with tears and she cupped her hand over her mouth. “Oh, my Lord! Right under my nose!”
Mary’s expression was one of amazement as placed her hand on the fragile shoulder of the woman, but spoke to her husband. “Paul! You don’t mean to tell us that you think Steve McGarrett is the same Stephen who served with Peggy’s Roger?”
Jameson turned his eyes back to his wife. “I know Steve’s first tour of duty was on the Kill Devil Hills, and I know the records about the KDH are still sealed to this day.”
Mrs. Bartlett’s frail shoulders began to heave as she wept softly. Both of the Jamesons moved closer to comfort her, but within thirty seconds –despite the tears streaming down her face – she burst into soft laughter. “How fitting… how wonderful and fitting…”
“What on earth do you mean, dear?” Perplexed at the cryptic statement, Mary questioned her older friend.
The governor did not wait for an answer. “I’ll go get Steve, and we can share the news with him now!”
“No,” the thin voice rasped. “Now is not the time. Please indulge me.” Bartlett retrieved a handkerchief from her belt.
“Governor.” The head of Five-0 and his second-in-command had approached, probably not stealthily, but it seemed that way as all three people seated at the end of the table jumped upon hearing McGarrett’s voice. The detectives exchanged uncomfortable glances as the sense that they’d intruded invaded them. Too late now… Steve mused to himself and plunged ahead. “We’d like to thank you for a pleasant evening—”
“BUT you’ve had enough!” Paul Jameson rose from his chair. He silently confirmed the wishes of his elderly guest, who’d been a staunch supporter of Mary’s pet charities for many years before she’d been forced to move to the mainland to be cared for by her niece.
With the slightest cant of her head, it was clear that she did not wish the subject brought up at that moment… for what reason, the Jamesons could not fathom.
“I wouldn’t put it that way, sir,” McGarrett smiled, but did not offer any suggestions. Instead, he grasped Mary’s hand as she rose and gave her a peck on the cheek. “Wonderful meal, Mary!”
Dan nodded his agreement and after shaking the governor’s hand, he hugged his wife. “And thanks for rescuing us!”
McGarrett reached down and took the hand of the white-haired woman. “Mrs. Bartlett, it was nice to see you again.” He started to take back his hand back, but felt a resistance as the feeble fingers continued to clutch him. Her head wobbled slightly as she looked upward into the eyes of the detective, who studied with mild surprise the bright eyes with liquid pooling in them. McGarrett squatted. “Is everything okay?”
She responded with a smile and reached with her other hand for Dan, who was as confused as his boss, but extended his arm and gently dropped to one knee. She squeezed the hands of both men as her eyes overflowed. “Everything is wonderful… just wonderful. You boys look out for each other -- do you understand me?”
The two “boys” offered each other an extended expression of confusion before they nodded their promises to the widow Bartlett, who reluctantly released their hands. They rose slowly and looked to their host and hostess for any clues that would explain the scene in which they’d just partook, but both of the Jamesons, while obviously moved, did not seem to have all the answers. So, with a last round of farewells, the Five-0 men retreated from sight.
“Did you get the feeling we only were in on the punch line?” Williams breathed as they made their way to the car.
McGarrett slowly shook his head. “Yeah, I did. The few times I’ve met the woman she seemed very sharp and take-charge.”
“I know she isn’t well – she had a stroke last year just before the Thanksgiving Benefit for the Honolulu Orphanage. Jane ended up taking over the planning for it.”
The head of Five-0 stopped and leaned on the roof of his car, causing his second to pause as well. “Still... her eyes… Danno, she was looking at me the same way my mother looked at me when I left for the Academy.”
The younger detective opened the car door. “I know the look, Steve, but that may just be how she looks at all the guys. I’ve caught her a couple times staring at me like she thought I might be getting ready to solve world hunger and cure the common cold.”
McGarrett sighed and grinned reluctantly as he opened his car door. “I think the best she’ll get from us in the way of good for humanity is a good conviction rate!”
“It’s not ticking!” Jenny chirped as she placed her palm on the side of the shoebox-sized package, which rested on the edge of her desk. “The postmark is from California – your sister maybe?”
McGarrett frowned slightly as he studied the label, which read:
Stephen McGarrett and Danny Williams
Hawaii Five-0, Honolulu, Hawaii
The lead detective dismissed the possibility with a slight shake of his head. “Hmm, no – the post mark is San Jose.”
The phone on Jenny’s desk rang, and the secretary wasted no time in collecting the handset. “Five-0… yes, sir, Governor – he’s right here!”
McGarrett accepted the phone from the woman. “Good afternoon, Governor… yes, sir…”
The detective listened intently and ignored the activity of his second-in-command, who’d just hung up the phone in his office and stepped out to catch up on the conversation about the mystery package, which had arrived in the mail earlier that day. With the letter opener from Jenny’s desk, Williams sliced through the tape which held the lid of the box in place. Carefully lifting the cover, he peered inside. The box contained several yellowed newspaper clippings and two ribbon-secured bundles of letters. An unopened, cream-colored envelope, of the high-quality linen variety, rested in the center and cried out to be opened first. Dan retrieved it and held it up for the curious secretary to see what was written on its faintly-marbled surface:
Stephen & Danny
“Who’s it from?” The secretary whispered to keep from disturbing the tall man on the phone hovering no more than two feet from her.
Williams opened the envelope and pulled out a page of stationery, but before he could answer, McGarrett reacted to the governor’s news. “I’m very sorry to hear that sir… What do you mean, ‘contact us?’” The detective looked at his second-in-command and revealed a measure of bafflement and frustration. “No… she did not contact us… Sir, is there something you want to tell me about this situation, because if there is…” It was clear to both Jenny and Dan that their boss was exasperated as he ended the phone call. “Very well, sir. I’ll pass the news along to Danno. Good bye.” He slowly set the phone back onto its cradle, and became lost in his own thoughts for several seconds before Williams finally prodded him for information.
“Steve, what is it?”
The question spurred the lead detective to return to the present. “The governor wanted to us to know that Peggy Bartlett passed away yesterday.”
Dan was taken aback. “What sad news!”
McGarrett agreed. “Yeah, Danno, it is sad, and then to top it off, the governor asked me if either of us had been contacted by her since the party.”
“She has if this box qualifies,”
Williams looked more than a little shook up as his eyes fell back to the note in his hands. He spent several seconds perusing the words before he made eye contact with his shocked co-addressee.
Dan hesitated, causing the impatient McGarrett to snap. “Read it!”
Williams slowly inhaled and looked back down at the letter. “Dearest Stephen and Danny… In my wildest dreams, I could not have imagined how Fate would toy with us, and then, in the end, straighten it all out… I feel my time on earth can now be counted in hours instead of days or years… There is much to tell, but no time left for me to tell it, so I’ll let the contents of this box be my voice, and pray that two very special police detectives will understand as I do now the truly remarkable nature of the fabric of our existences.” Dan stopped and looked up into McGarrett’s eyes to finish. “It’s signed Peggy Bartlett.”
Confusion registered on the faces of both men, each searching the other’s expression for a hint of understanding or realization about the meaning of the tender letter from a woman both of them knew only casually – they thought. Neither received any satisfaction though, so McGarrett collected the package and headed into his office, his second and secretary in tow. Jenny stopped short with a grimace as two of the five phone lines at her desk rang within two seconds of each other. As duty bade her to return to her desk, she knew she’d have to find out later what the mysterious package from the dead woman contained.
The lead detective placed the package on the coffee table in front of the sofa and sat down while Williams took a seat opposite his boss in a chair, which he dragged from in front of the desk. The head of Five-0 pulled the bundles of letters from the box and looked at the first bundle. His brow furled in concentration as he read the name of the addressee, which was familiar, but not of instantaneous significance. His eyes moved to the return address and, as one spots the building of a wave in the distance and sees it rise to its crescendo before breaking, so it was with the Five-0 chief’s realization. Recent memories intermingled with shadows of the past as he opened a neatly-folded newspaper clipping, and was unsurprised to see the article he’d read eight days earlier – from the December 17th, 1941 Honolulu Star.
Dan picked up the other bundle of letters, slipped the top one from the stack, and gently opened the old correspondence. “I don’t get it – what is this stuff? Who’re Roger and Margaret Wickham?” Williams was seeing what McGarrett was seeing, but the names held no significance for him. The unvarnished shock and emotion visible in his mentor’s expression gave the younger detective serious pause.
The older detective looked up into the concerned eyes of his protégé and cleared his throat before he spoke. “Roger Wickham was my CO during my first tour of duty.”
One of the puzzle pieces fell into place for Williams, but obviously not all of the ones that had suddenly clicked together for his boss. Hoping to catch up, Dan tore his eyes from Steve’s and read the letter he was clutching:
I’m certain you’re up to your eyes with your own view of the aftermath of the tragedy here, and you know me well enough by now to realize that I would not burden you further unless it were important. A baby – a little boy – was left in the emergency room during the attack. He was somehow separated from his loved ones, who have not, for whatever reason, come forward to claim him. I fear, feel in my heart, that he was orphaned on December 7th. I guess it’s because he’s so young and his features so angelic that I’ve taken his sad story more to heart more than the plethora of others which surround me here at Tripler.
As I don’t have much time to catch the mail plane, I must make my plea brief. I want your blessing to commence adoption proceedings in the event that nobody comes forward to claim Johnny Doe (We don’t know his real name as he has yet to share it with us.). I want to do my part to help with the healing that must begin, not only for the people of Hawaii, but for our own loss from which – until I laid eyes upon this child – I thought I could never recover.
All My Love,
It was Dan’s turn to feel the wave of realization as it crashed around him. He snatched the old article, which McGarrett had slid in his direction, and, as if time were of the essence, quickly read the contents. He finished the story and leaned back in the chair. “Commander Margaret Wickham was the head nurse at Tripler when Chin left me there… and she was married to Roger Wickham – your CO.”
Steve nodded slowly and ran his hand over his mouth. Neither man said anything for several seconds as McGarrett accepted the letter Williams mindlessly handed to him and read it. Dan then retrieved the next letter in the stack, noting that care had been taken to store them in chronological order.
My Darling Annie,
Your happiness is of paramount importance to me, and so I am powerless to do anything but give my heartfelt approval for whatever pleases you. The child must be special indeed to have captured your heart so. If I’m to have another son, I expect to receive photographs and regular reports on his growth and scholastic progress. I know you’ll indulge me ten-fold, so I’ll say no more.
And now I must share with you a pleasing coincidence. My new adjutant – a tall, lanky guppy of an ensign – is the exact same age that our Stephen would be today, and his features are not so dissimilar to mine that I cannot envision him as my own. The boy is a quiet fellow, but the more I speak with him, the more I realize that it’s not shyness that drives him to keep his mouth shut. It’s his brains! If you can’t tell, I’ve taken a liking to Ensign M and fully intend to see that he is well-schooled in the ways of the Navy.
By the way, you mentioned that Johnny doesn’t speak. Don’t push the boy too hard, dear – he may just be smarter than most!
Your Loving Roger
Five-0’s second-in-command laughed, even as tears pooled in his eyes, while he read the letter, and then handed the note, which had obviously been read many times before, to the man across the table. The head of Five-0 went to his desk and pushed the intercom button to tell Jenny to hold all calls. With that accomplished, he retook his seat, and the two detectives sat there for more than an hour silently reading the letters of the couple who would have, had life gone as they wished, had two sons, who were now close friends and co-workers.
Because of their mutual commitments to service to their country, Roger and Margaret Ann Wickham lived much of their relationship through correspondence. The loss of their teenage son in a car accident precipitated a struggle for each to find their own ways to cope. Margaret – Annie to her beloved husband – threw herself into her nursing career, and Roger continued his career as a vessel commander. 1941 found them both drawn to “sons.” Fate dropped one in each lap that suited the age they most eagerly anticipated. Loving each other as they did, they happily accepted the other’s dream as their own. But like so many during that time, the war perverted plans, tore apart relationships, and left many scarred forever.
After young Danny Williams’ identity was uncovered, the wheels were set in motion for the Kulani family to take Dan into their care until his uncle could collect him. Margaret had the little boy with her for nearly two months because of the red tape involved with turning over a ward of the military to civilians. During that time, she became so attached to the child that it was all she could do to carry on after he was taken from her.
Heartbreak was not to leave her untouched though. Roger was killed the following autumn – this was a memory that left a young Steve with nightmares, which still woke him on occasion. The widow carried on, living under the impression that the young man whom her husband had begun to consider a son had died in the same classified incident, remained in the Navy until the war ended, but resigned her commission only a few days after the Japanese surrendered.
She remained in Honolulu and eventually remarried – this time to college professor, Doctor Henry Bartlett. To keep busy, she threw herself into the charitable work of caring for orphans and other disadvantaged children. This calling was what eventually led to her friendship with Jane Michaels and Mary Jameson – and ultimately to her re-introduction to Detective Danny Williams.
Delighted to be able to associate with the young man, for whom she still had motherly feelings, she could not bring herself to share her tragic story for the irrational fear that the news would somehow drive him away from her. Until the amazing confluence of events at the party – to which Dan was not originally invited (and balked at attending!), Margaret – Peggy to her second husband and good friends – was not aware of the linchpin her life had been for the two detectives.
When the last letter had been carefully replaced in its envelope, both men rose and put the mementos back into the box. Steve carried the now-treasured package to his desk. Dan came to stand at his side, and the two friends were silent for a couple of minutes as they digested the unbelievable tale.
Finally, the younger detective spoke. “I… I have a locket that I’ve had my whole life – I thought it belonged to my mother, Madeleine Williams, but the letters match the style on Margaret Wickham’s stationery.”
Steve placed his hand on Dan’s shoulder and smiled softly. “Does it make the locket less special?”
Williams looked up into his mentor’s eyes. “No… I guess it doesn’t.” His mouth twisted into a crooked smile. “It’s kind of like we’ve been brothers all this time and didn’t even know it.”
“That’s one heck of a connection, isn’t it, my young friend – or perhaps I should say, baby brother!” McGarrett grinned. “You little angel, you!” He spoke through grit teeth as he gave Dan’s cheek a pinch.
Williams laughed out loud and pulled away from the slightly painful, but obviously affectionate tease. “Just goes to show ya I’ve been an angel my entire life!”
Steve coughed a skeptical laugh as he touched the corner of his eye. “What a remarkable gift Margaret Ann Wickham Bartlett has given us!”
Dan nodded and touched the box as if it might evaporate if it were touched too harshly. He cleared his throat. “I think we’re back to that Chinese proverb again!”
Five-0’s Christmas party was held in the Iolani Palace dining room. The room bubbled with laughter and music and the sound of children. Steve, not normally one to emote during festivities, seemed to his staff to be a little more relaxed – and perhaps a little less focused on the work he’d left undone on his desk, as he circulated and chatted and joked with the guests. A few minutes after he’d settled into a chair near an open window to enjoy the tropical fragrances dancing into the room, his second-in-command strolled up and handed him a cup of coffee. Everyone else was drinking punch – how Williams sensed that his boss was not finding the too-sweet beverage palatable was a bit of a mystery, but one that the head of Five-0 decided to accept as the observation of an attentive friend. Dan settled into the neighboring seat, and put his feet up on a nearby chair.
McGarrett took pleasure in his friend’s relaxed demeanor. “So, how are you feeling this Christmas Eve, Danno?”
Williams took a sip of his punch as he considered his answer. Then he let his gaze pan across the revelers before he turned to make eye contact with his friend / mentor / brother / boss. “Very connected, Steve, and right where I’m supposed to be.”