RATED PG-14 for violence and intensity

 

 

Two Sides of a Coin

-- TAILS --

 

 

                                                                                    Written by Barbara Huff

With editing by gm and as

 

June 1967

 

 

 

“We have GOT to work on your press mask, Danno!”

 

“The guy was an annoying Hűpô!” The irritation in the voice was apparent.

 

“Yes, you’re correct, he was an ‘annoying Hűpô,’ – if that means inconsiderate idiot -- and your face certainly captured your knowledge of that fact for all of Hawai’i to see. Trust me when I tell you that it will work to all of our benefits in the long run if the media aren’t sure what we’re thinking. To that end – and I know this isn’t going to be easy for you – you’re going to stand in front of the mirror and practice an inscrutable expression for me.”

 

“I have to WHAT?” Dan Williams’ question, filled with incredulous expression, was preceded by a short burst of out loud laughter and an exaggerated, almost cartoon-like, startle response.

 

“I mean it. I don’t EVER want to open my morning paper again and find you with anything but an inscrutable expression on your face,” Steve McGarrett pointed his finger at his newest detective.

 

His two more senior detectives, Kono Kalakaua and Chin Ho Kelly, were seated in the two high-back, white leather chairs before him. The chief of Hawai’i Five-0 was sitting at his desk and doling out instructions to his officers for a typically busy day in the state’s small, but elite, police investigative unit.

 

“One press mask coming up.”

 

Dan relented, but couldn’t hide the humor he found in the situation even as he stood before his boss’s desk and accepted the chastisement for a public display of irritation at a reporter and his photographer who accosted him while on a date the previous evening. The other two detectives nearby were having similar difficulties while the owner of the office sighed. It was difficult even for a practiced figure, such as McGarrett, to maintain a stern façade in the face of such fresh exuberance, but he succeeded.

 

 “Get on up to Kahuku, and get what statements you can. Oh, and I have another job for you, so don’t be back too late! Oh, and be careful with my car!” McGarrett warned. The young man nodded earnestly, “Right – Don’t be back late and be careful with your car!” He started for the door before remembering, “I need your keys.” 

 

His boss picked up the set of keys from desk and tossed them across to the young man whose curly hair was the color of the beach he loved so.

 

“Thanks, Dad,” the officer paused for a very deliberate breath, and then with the slightest wink corrected, “Oh – I mean Steve!”

 

The almost-amused puzzlement at the stream of admonitions in the new detective’s expression was visible for only a second before the door closed behind him. The “slip-of-tongue” was Dan’s not-so-subtle way of trying to get across to the boss that he could figure this stuff out on his own.

 

McGarrett snapped his head up just in time to catch Dan’s wink. He continued studying the door with a tight-eyed grimace for a several seconds, before he noticed his two detectives seemed to be in pain from stifling their guffaws. Only the steely-eyed glare from their boss facilitated the process.

 

As McGarrett looked back down at his notebook, he snapped, “Hűpô!”  

 

Both Kono and Chin knew that the “statement” from their boss was actually a question. They’d come to know that, if there was a Hawai’ian or Chinese word or phrase that the boss did not understand, he would usually repeat the phrase surreptitiously, expecting an immediate translation or interpretation. In this case, the Hawai’ian detective knew that this word fell into his bailiwick.

 

“Idiot – fool – boob – any of those are good,” Kono shrugged, thinking back to the context in which Dan had slung the epithet.

 

“Where were we?” McGarrett looked down at his notepad, and then looked up slowly and directed his most penetrating gaze at his Hawai’ian detective. “Oh, yes – the great demolition derby caper. You were the one in charge of that situation, were you not?” 

 

Kono shifted uncomfortably in chair and rubbed his neck, suddenly having the sense that his tie was too tight.

 

“Yeah, boss, but it turned out okay,” Kono replied weakly. “We collared all five of ‘em.” He could see McGarrett shaking his head before he finished the sentence.

 

Before the punctuation dried on Kono’s response, his boss was speaking, “Danno was almost crushed to death along with his car, which by the way is a complete loss right down to the radio!”

 

Both of the detectives grimaced.

 

“Danny’s fast, Steve – he made it out of that car with at least two, maybe three seconds to spare,” Kono offered despite the knowledge that his boss wanted no excuses. “He managed—”

 

McGarrett interrupted angrily, eyebrows arching for emphasis, I know he managed, but what if he’d decided that discretion was not the better part of valor in that case? He can be a righteously indignant hot head and you know I’m right!” The Hawai’ian detective started to argue that Danny wouldn’t do anything rash or stupid in the name of justice, but then decided that he honestly wasn’t sure that was the case. So, he sat there stoically as his boss’s ire ran its course. “You shouldn’t have put him in a situation where he had to make a judgment call that, frankly, I’m not sure he was ready to make.

 

There were a few seconds of silence before McGarrett said in a more conciliatory tone, “In a nutshell, I’d like to see him make it to his 30th birthday, gentlemen,” McGarrett said, his point made by tapping his pencil on his desk.

 

“When’s that?” Chin asked.

 

Kono groaned, “Not this year.”

 

Both veteran detectives, over the past few weeks, began to realize that their boss had a new strategic plan for his unit – a plan which, in order to be successful, must have the cooperation and commitment of his entire staff.

 

McGarrett was an investigator of world renown, and he cared very deeply for the welfare of his detectives. To the outside world, he wore a hard shell that was frequently mistaken for callousness. The “shell” approach worked well, some would say even superlatively, during his tenure as a commander in the Navy, but when he took on the civilian position with the very different task of building a small team, a more intimate approach to leadership would have been more advantageous and productive. He recognized this fact, but found it very difficult to change.

 

The staff of Hawai’i Five-0 could feel a difference in Steve McGarrett and the office over which he reigned since his new detective had come on board. He hadn’t made any dramatic new edicts yet, but change was in the air. There was a sense that a new day was dawning for this elite investigative unit, which had, over the past few years in particular, become a frequently tense and unpleasant place to work.

 

McGarrett, while recognizing that his own shortcomings contributed in some measure, attributed this noticeable aura of strain primarily to the discord between him and his recently retired second-in-command, Ray Kaimano.

 

Steve and Ray were constantly at odds, not only as a result of different investigative philosophies, but also because of what can only be called a personality clash. The head of the unit was uncompromising and relentless in his mission to enforce the laws of Hawai’i, and to bring to justice those who violated those laws. Kaimano, a competent officer in his own right, came to be viewed by McGarrett as a by-the-numbers technician, who would step neither a foot to the right nor a foot to the left to get the job done. The seasoned second-in-command viewed his chief as a ruthless perfectionist, unwilling to concede any point in the interest of expediency. The differences in style – and the level of success each was willing to accept – caused clashes that frequently drove other humans from the office as soon as they could escape.

 

Chin Ho and Kono, along with May Peterson, official executive secretary to Steve McGarrett, observed how their disciplined, rigid, often-harsh boss had taken Dan Williams under his wing. The staff wasn’t sure whether the new detective always felt this was a good thing. Almost daily, McGarrett called him into his office to instruct, to lecture, and occasionally to berate the man, who looked younger than his 28 years. His self-deprecating charm, clean-cut, beach boy good looks, and sense of humor made him a very welcome edition to the Five-0 ohana. The head of Five-0 recognized, amongst Dan’s numerous talents, a rare gift – the ability to apply a perspective not his own to a situation. McGarrett knew that, with the proper guidance, this brilliant young man would blossom into an unrivaled investigator.

 

Chin Ho Kelly had been with Steve longer than anyone else at Five-0. Of Chinese descent, the 5’9” barrel-chested detective was almost fifty. He and his wife, Mai, had their hands full raising eight children. Quiet and stable as a rock, McGarrett appreciated his loyalty and tenacity. Chin had stuck it out at Five-0 through the difficult times. Admittedly, the pay was somewhat better with the unit, but Chin long ago saw the potential for him to make a bigger difference in his community by throwing in his lot with McGarrett. Nobody else on the team had more practical experience on the beat than Chin Ho.

 

Kono Kalakaua was another excellent choice for a Five-0 slot. At six feet, one inch and 260 pounds, the ample Hawaiian had the laid-back personality, sense of humor, and patience to be an excellent field investigator. His physical strength, which was legend in the HPD ranks, often came in handy in this line of work. Many people underestimated Kono because of the pigeon English that peppered his speech. In reality, it disguised an intelligent man with wisdom beyond his years. Perhaps more than any other member of the unit, this detective actively tried to keep his work in perspective as just part of his life in paradise.

 

It seemed to McGarrett that Kono had a cousin or two everywhere on all the islands. Both Kelly’s and Kalakaua’s extended family connections came in handy on more than one occasion when Five-0 detectives needed eyes and ears around the islands.

 

Now, here they were – this mix of individuals with different personalities, strengths, and weaknesses, with a single task before them – to grow together, to capitalize on individual talent for the ultimate benefit of the unit. The chief of the operation was realistic enough to know that there would be the growing pains that usually come with change.

 

McGarrett hated to give the impression that he didn’t have confidence in his new man, but as much as he knew that Dan was the right choice for the position, he also couldn’t seem to shake the feeling that the young man needed a measure of protection. Faltering self-confidence sometimes countered with occasional, dangerous headlong impulsive actions – the mixture sprinkled with examples of patience and elegant diplomacy – it was a perplexing combination to McGarrett, who was certain that time would settle him down.

 

But in the meantime, Steve mused, we might be in for a wild ride.

 

Admittedly, Dan was settling in nicely, more relaxed, and yet still excited about his contributions in any form to the efforts. A little unpolished – at times.  A little too reactive – at times.  A little more stubborn than McGarrett realized -- at times.  A willing and dedicated team player – all the time.

 

 

**********

 

Get a haircut – Don’t be late – Watch the paint on the car!  Dan shook his head. “Like I haven’t been dressing myself for the past twenty-some years,” a frustrated Dan said to himself as he marched out to McGarrett’s Ford.

 

It seemed that his new boss was forgetting that he was a very capable detective and self-sufficient adult. Hadn’t he proved to his new boss that he had talent? That he was dedicated? That he could get the job done? Wasn’t that why he was here when so many other more experienced police officers were not? His youthful face was occasionally a disadvantage in a profession that required a figure-of-authority presence, so for his entire adult life, he’d always had to go the extra mile to prove himself. But he had to wonder what he was going to have to do to give his new boss faith in him.

 

On the drive up to Kahuku, Dan pondered the situation with McGarrett. On the one hand, it was kind of nice that he was concerned, but the situation had potential to become downright smothering. The wound he sustained to his leg in the bomb blast in McGarrett’s office had not helped the situation, of that he was certain. He had been on bed rest for three days after he left the hospital. The boss had berated him subsequently for unnecessarily jumping into harm’s way when a simple shout would have sufficed. [fanfic -- Two Sides of a Coin -Heads]  Dan argued vehemently that there hadn’t been time to form a coherent thought to yell, but finally secretly decided that the head of Five-0 might have a blind spot with regard to his own safety.

 

After that, McGarrett seemed reluctant to allow him out of the office for several days. “Doctor’s orders,” Steve said, ignoring his new employee’s protestations that he was fit for duty. Dan had the distinct impression that McGarrett was not generally a man to heed a doctor’s warnings.

 

Perhaps it was the breeze that he let blow through the car that cleared his head, allowed him to analyze the symptoms and arrive at a diagnosis, but it struck him suddenly that he was being treated as if he were unreliable – unpredictable. A single piece of evidence pointing to irresponsibility – the most recent case in point being the destruction of his “company” car – negated ten pieces of evidence to the contrary. Maybe what Dan had called proof was merely refutable evidence of his dedication – in the eyes of a man like Steve McGarrett – a man that wanted – no needed – substantiation

 

His business card described him as “Lead Detective”, but, to Dan’s way of thinking, the two words hardly described the phenomenal man behind them. The only son of Irish immigrant parents, Steve McGarrett had to grow up young, as a fleeing suspect killed his police officer father when he was thirteen. That left young Stephen to take on the mantle of responsibility for his mother, who had to take up sewing to make ends meet, and for his baby sister, Mary Ann. It was a heavy burden that he carried with determination, and it laid the foundation for the tenacious, disciplined man that McGarrett was to become. Dan Williams could not imagine a better teacher or mentor, a man whom Williams admired, respected and, as other members of the Five-0 staff teased, very nearly worshipped. But with all of the good, came the baggage that made him that way.

 

Definitely a tough nut to crack, Dan mused as he foresaw what he must do. He slapped the steering will as his plan solidified. Okay, Williams, that’s the answer. You are gonna bury him in your get-it-done competence. You are gonna lay the PROOF of your reliability at his feet!  The solution to his quandary now in hand, Dan felt resurgence in his optimism and commitment.

 

 

**********

 

“When Five-0 is at a crime scene, the charter – signed by the Governor of this state – says Five-0 is in charge. If YOU are the Five-0 detective on the scene, I don’t care if Chief Dann is standing there barking orders. You have the authority and responsibility to take over and manage the situation!”

 

McGarrett leaned on the corner of his desk, his arms crossed as he lectured his new detective, who stood within arms reach of his boss and nodded.

 

“I understand.”

 

The acknowledgment was diffident, so Steve pressed the issue, “You did the right thing out there. I know that you reported to Gary Benson before you reported to Beauprez, so it couldn’t have been easy stepping in and overruling him. That aside, you were right, and he was wrong.” McGarrett could see that his words were swaying the detective as he leaned out and put his hand on Dan’s shoulder, “Woe be to the cop who doesn’t respect your authority, my friend.”

 

The two men locked gazes, and Dan felt himself infused with confidence. This time when Dan spoke, it was with certainty, “Thanks, Steve!”

 

 

**********

 

 

“You are what you eat, gentlemen!” McGarrett lectured as he declined Kono’s offer of the last macadamia nut cookie from their carry out meal.

 

“Steve, I think in this case, the only one that applies to is Chin,” Dan quipped glancing at the empty Chinese carryout boxes still scattered around the room.

 

Chin snickered and chimed in, “Oh, I don’t know, Danny. Kono IS hard to digest sometimes.”

 

McGarrett chuckled and responded, “I rest my case! It’s getting late. Go home!”

 

The head of the unit stretched and briefly massaged his neck before re-seating himself at his desk. Chin and Kono each collected a couple of the leftover food containers, and said their goodnights, while Dan collected the trash and dropped it into the wastebasket.

 

“Night, Steve!” Dan shot his boss a quick smile, and not unexpectedly, came the reply, “G’night, Danno.”

 

The team had discussed theories on why McGarrett had started calling Williams by this nickname, but nobody had ever inquired of the head of the unit as to his reason. Nobody on the team ever seemed willing to ask more than superficial personal questions of the boss, Dan had noticed, but he’d been thinking that maybe it was time for a change on that front.

 

Maybe he wants to be asked.

 

“Umm, Steve?” Almost surprised that the detective was still there, he looked up expectantly. Dan gauged his mood to receptive to a personal question, so he plunged ahead, “Why do you call me that? Danno, I mean?”

 

The young man’s question caught Steve off guard, so he took a moment to study the detective, who stood with his hand on the doorknob, as if he expected that the answer would be a short one.

 

“Umm, does it bother you?” Steve asked.

 

A question answered with a question, Williams mused. That does not bode well for receiving the answer. Okay, so, I was wrong – he doesn’t want to be asked.

 

“No,” Williams came back, his mouth turned up in a crooked smile. “I kind of like it. I was just curious.” One of the things that Steve found so refreshing about working with Dan was that he was willing to ask when he wanted an answer. There was no guile – just non-threatening interest.

 

McGarrett debated for another few moments, Short answer – long answer. Finally, he sighed, and said, “Sit down.” As the officer took a seat in one of the white chairs, McGarrett rose from his desk, and came to sit in the twin.

 

“Well, I guess you have a right to know, “Steve responded with a wistful smile, “I had a friend – a good friend – when I was growing up. His name was Dan O’Reilly. Every night at dinnertime, Dan’s mother would cry out from the family stoop, ‘Dan-Oh! Dan-Oh, me boy! Come home to your mother!’” Dan had to smile as Steve mimicked the mother’s voice and Irish brogue. “For the longest time, I thought his name was Danno.” Steve had to smile had the memory of the curly, redheaded boy with pink freckles that had been his chum and co-conspirator for several years. As the recollection brought back feelings about his friend, McGarrett debated momentarily whether it was prudent to share some thoughts with Williams, and finally decided that it was worth the risk.

 

“The first time I called you that—” Steve looked up.

 

Dan jumped in, “On the beach – when Beauprez was busting my chops for speaking out of turn.”

 

Steve nodded, “Yeah, that’s right. It just popped out – a name I hadn’t said in a million years.” Here goes, McGarrett committed himself. “But after I said it, and you looked back at me like— like I’d called you that your entire life, it— it felt right.”

 

The admission made McGarrett feel vaguely vulnerable, and he tensed almost imperceptibly while waiting for the young man’s reaction to his admission. What he couldn’t quite bring himself to say to Dan was that when then-HPD Detective Williams responded, a feeling that he’d had as a child – knowing his friend was there in his corner, that they would take on the world together, sharing reward and punishment alike – flooded into him.

 

“Thanks for telling me, Steve,” Dan said genuinely. “It’s a special name, and I’m glad you call me that.” Dan’s pleasure at the revelation was obvious on his face, and in turn, the sharing of the tale brought to McGarrett a comforting realization that the “Danno” feelings could put him in a more secure state of mind lo these many years later.

 

“Thank you for asking, Danno,” Steve replied softly.

 

 

**********

 

“Because you’re the boss, and you’re always right,” Dan said, nodding with the most blank-eyed stare he could manage as the two men emerged from McGarrett’s office and quickly stepped past May’s desk on their way out the door.

 

McGarrett knew his protégé was joking, but he still liked the tone, and the thought, behind the statement.  “Good man!” the boss exclaimed, patting his detective on the back.

 

May shook her head, and said to Chin and Kono as they emerged from their boss’s office five seconds later, “I think we got a whole lotta brain washing going on here!”

 

Chin smiled as the two detectives brushed by in pursuit of their colleagues, “What we got is a little battle of wills here!”

 

The secretary’s gasp made the two men stop, “You don’t think that this will turn into another McGarrett-Kaimano situation, do you?” The memory of the tense office made the attractive, brunette with the Petula-Clark doo cringe.

 

Kono wrinkled his nose at the memory, but shook his head.  “I doubt it. Danny’s not like Ray was. He seems to know how to work the boss.”

 

Chin nodded in agreement, “Steve’s been pushing, and Danny’s starting to push back a little. I think we’ll be okay.”

 

They all truly hoped that was the case. The new cheer made the heavy workload and stress of the daily crises inherent to criminal investigations more bearable. They all agreed that it was well worth the trade-off of trying to keep Dan out of trouble. Chin and Kono knew all too well that Dan’s natural investigative skills probably exceeded their own – not a fact he seemed to recognize – but that did not make him any less the kid brother that seemed to fit his personality.

 

 

 

July 1967

 

 

“Danno! Why do I get the feeling that I don’t have your undivided attention?”

 

McGarrett’s voice was tinged with impatience obvious even through the intercom, which sat on Williams’ desk. The week had been a long one for both him and his newest detective.  In conjunction with the attorney general’s office, they worked on the investigation-related paperwork for the indictment against three of the Ali’i gang members who had had a hand in the bomb that arrived in the Five-0 offices a couple months earlier [fanfic -- Two Sides of a Coin -Heads]. Fortunately, there were only minor injuries, so attempted murder was the maximum charge that would be filed against the trio.

 

Not bothering to reply over the intercom, Williams stepped into his boss’s office and quickly spoke, “Sorry, Steve. You have it now.”

 

The head of Five-0 regarded the young man approaching his desk. Having abandoned his suit jacket and rolled up his sleeves, he looked a little pale and tired the head of Five-0 noted.

 

“Is everything okay? You’re looking a little haggard.”

 

Before Williams could answer, McGarrett’s phone line rang, and his attention was immediately diverted to the conversation with the governor’s secretary. Dan removed a handkerchief from his pocket and surreptitiously wiped the beads of sweat from his face, and slipped into one of the chairs in front of McGarrett’s desk.  His boss, who was currently consumed with the details of two ongoing investigations and the Ali’i paperwork, was still perceptive enough to notice his detective’s pallor. 

 

Dan had felt ill for the past few days, and in fact, had developed pain in his lower right abdomen. It had progressed from a mere stitch in his side to a sharp stabbing pain. That morning, to the detective’s relief, the pain began to mutate again into more of a dull ache. He knew he was probably running a fever and should see a doctor. But he still carried with him the concern that confessing an inability to complete what he started might negate all of his efforts of the past month – everything that he’d been working so diligently to prove to his new boss – his mentor – that he could be relied upon – consistently – to see a job through to the end with all of the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed.

 

Reliability aside, bowing out of work this week would have, Dan felt, left McGarrett with an untenably heavy workload. Steve, had, after all selected him rather than either of his other two detectives to share the load, not that either Chin or Kono were complaining one bit.  Both men had extremely busy family lives that occupied all the time they could spare from work. No, Dan decided, he would gut it out until the weekend. He was not on call, and would be able to spend the weekend resting.

 

His inquiry about his protégé’s health all but buried in the raft of details that had come to him during the call, McGarrett hung up the phone and started immediately questioning his officer on the status of the various tasks that he had been assigned.

 

“Witness statements?”

 

“Verified for accuracy, typed in triplicate.”

 

“Event Timeline?”

 

“Done.”

 

“Background reports on the accused men?”

 

“Organized with relevant information highlighted, and included in the file delivered to the AG.”

 

“The attorney general is in possession of the file now?”

 

“As of one hour ago – I just called and checked to make sure that they don’t need anything else from us.”

 

“Did you have it couriered?”

 

“No, Jenny – one of the part-time secretary’s – also works in Walter Stuart’s office, and she hand-carried it over there.”

 

The boss took the luxury to lean back in his chair for a moment, a feeling of satisfaction passing over him. His new detective had made remarkable progress in just a few short weeks on learning the ins and outs of the red-tape-filled world of criminal prosecution. The head of Five-0 knew that part of the secret to his very high conviction rate was proper follow-up with the prosecuting attorneys and attention to detail in the paperwork.

 

Yes, the decision to bring Danno on board was proving to be one of the best strategic moves he’d made in years. Williams has consistently and methodically structured his cases. He’s starting to think through problems less – well, a little less -- emotionally. And yet, he’s managing to hang on to that what-if-the-sun-rose-in-the-west perspective He thought back to the casual note that Dan had left taped to his chalkboard a few short months ago.

 

“STEVE –

WHAT IF LYNNE YATES WAS INVOLVED IN THE FRAUDULENT ACTIVITY, AND DIDN’T EXPECT TO BE KILLED WHEN BOGGS DID IN MARIE APUNA?? JUST A THOUGHT.

D” 

 

It turned out to be exactly the case. Lynne Yates, who had initially been thought to be an innocent victim, along with Marie Apuna, was subsequently identified as a co-conspirator with her boss / lover in a plot that stole upwards of a hundred thousand dollars from the Pacific Rim Foundation. Yates’ partner, Luther Boggs, murdered her along with his secretary, Marie Apuna, truly an innocent victim who unwittingly stumbled onto incriminating evidence.

McGarrett’s vision saw an office that was more balanced in its gifts, and Dan Williams, especially in the past few weeks, seemed to be shaping up to be Steve McGarrett’s near-perfect complement, just as Steve had foreseen. Steve detested the mandated paperwork that seemed to grow with each passing year in complexity and absurdity. While Dan clearly did not care for the duty either, he had so far proven to be willing and able to step up to the plate and help his boss get the job done.

 

Steve pulled his thoughts back to the present moment.

 

“Very good, Danno. This was a tedious and detail-oriented job, but you got it done.”

 

Normally, any sort of praise, or hint of praise, from Steve McGarrett would fill Dan Williams with euphoria, but on this particular Friday evening, it was all he could do to smile and say thanks. The occasional waves of nausea were coming closer together. Just then, a short knock turned McGarrett’s attention to his secretary as she entered his office.

 

“Steve, everything’s typed up, just like you asked. I’m getting out of here before you find another project for me!”

 

Steve stood and as he stretched, he replied, “Thanks, May. See you Monday!”

 

“Oh, Danny! I almost forgot – I canceled your date with Corinne as you requested, but I have to tell you she wasn’t too happy.”

 

May’s words seemed distant, as if she was speaking to him from the other end of a tunnel, and he struggled to stay focused on the conversation.  “Oh, yeah, thanks, May. I’ll square it with her.”

 

The woman nodded and closed the door behind her. The secretary gone, McGarrett’s attention turned back to Williams.

 

“Why did you cancel your date? Did you think I was going to keep you prisoner here -- again?” Steve flashed a quick smile at the young man, who definitely seemed tired.

 

Dan, once again as casually as possible, wiped the dampness that had appeared on his forehead with the back of his hand. He hesitated. Tell him! The small voice in Williams’ head screamed, and he started to confess, “Actually – Steve—” He winced as an arc of pain shot through his side. Suddenly he had the urge to unburden himself and reveal that he thought he might need to be taken to the hospital. But the phone rang again, and as McGarrett dealt with the call, Dan reconsidered, Williams – He doesn’t need to hear this! Suck it up and get out before you faint on him!

           

The detective’s internal struggle lasted the length of the 30-second phone conversation. When the imposing figure sitting there hung up and turned his attention back to his detective, it seemed to Dan that his boss also looked tired.

 

“Danno, you were saying?”

 

The detective had slowly taken in a deep breath and released it just before his boss hung up the phone. Dan mustered the best smile he could under the circumstances, and stood up, keeping a casual hand on the back of the chair, primarily to keep from tipping over from the dizziness.

 

“I was saying that if you don’t need me for anything else, I’ll head out.”

 

“Just remember that we’ve got to be in Stuart’s office by 8:00 on Monday. That means that you and I need to meet here around 7:00 – I’m counting on you to brief me on the details. Got it?”

 

“Got it,” Dan managed a reply that was more confident that he felt. I guess that rules out dropping dead in front of him, Dan mused to himself, and then said out loud, “See you Monday.” Before his boss could get out a reply, the phone spoke again.

 

“McGarrett! Yes, Governor. Yes, sir. I can arrange for that to happen early next week….” McGarrett nodded distractedly at his detective, who accepted the nod as a dismissal.

 

The young man nodded back and slipped from the office and closed the door behind him. He leaned for a few moments on the door with his eyes closed, trying to acquire enough equilibrium to make it to his car. He could hear strains of the conversation as he staggered into his own office, collected his jacket, and turned off the desk lamp.

 

 

**********

 

By the time he parked his car in the parking garage, Dan realized that he needed to go to a hospital and get checked. The pain in his side was once again becoming unbearable, and it was all he could do to unlock the door to his apartment and drag himself in. He lay on the floor by the door for several minutes before he could muster the energy to make it to the phone. He dialed Steve’s private line, but hung up before he heard a ring. This’ll impress him with your self-sufficiency and dependability. The inclination and desire to call his boss were overridden by his own stubborn determination to manage by himself.

 

Sitting on the floor and leaning on the couch, with the phone in his lap, he pressed the switchhook. For a few seconds, he considered calling Kono or Chin, but then decided that there was no real need to bother them. While he knew that either of them would have dropped whatever they were doing to help him, he decided they both needed the time with their families. Besides Kono was on call, and would no doubt be dealing with some incident before the weekend was over anyway. He called for a cab, which the dispatcher promised would be there within ten minutes. As quickly as he could manage, he slipped out of his work clothes and into a pair of shorts, a luau shirt, and sandals.

 

Now, Williams, all you’ve got to do is crawl to the elevator… He slipped a twenty-dollar bill into his pocket and left his wallet and .38 revolver on the nightstand before he left his apartment.

 

 

**********

 

 

“Next of kin?”

 

“I have no next of kin,” the patient replied softly. Except an elderly aunt on the other side of the universe, he finished the sentence silently.

 

“Who can we notify that you’ve been hospitalized?”

 

“Nobody. There’s nobody.”

 

“There must be somebody—”

 

“I said there’s nobody!” The reply was sharper than he had intended, but the medication that had been started intravenously didn’t seem to be helping his pain. It only seemed to be making him groggy. He added a little more softly, “Now please, leave me alone.” As his eyes closed, saving him from further interrogation by the well-meaning hospital clerk, a nurse and her attendant slipped into the emergency room bay.

 

“Mr. Williams?” When no response was forthcoming, the nurse compared the patient ID number on her clipboard with the number on the hospital bracelet that had been secured to the patient’s wrist. Just in case the patient could hear her, she said aloud, “Mr. Williams, per Doctor Hansen’s instructions, we are taking you up to the operating room. He thinks it may be your appendix, and we need to take care of this right away.” The dozing man on the gurney, mumbled something unintelligible, but never opened his eyes.

 

 

**********

 

“What a mess!” The surgeon mumbled to nobody in particular.  “How he managed to avoid an emergency room visit days ago is beyond me. He must have been doubled over in pain for days!” The doctor, a tall, slender man in his early-sixties, boxy glasses resting beneath huge salt-and-pepper, caterpillar eyebrows, released the final retractor on the incision, and continued, “Well, I’ve cleaned it out as best I could. Joe, close it up!” He was speaking to the resident surgeon who had assisted during the procedure.

 

“Lacey, who do I need to speak with in the waiting room?” The two nurses in the room exchanged glances before the senior nurse replied, “There’s nobody in the waiting room, Doctor.” William Hansen looked up at the nurse, but before he could reply, she continued, “He refused to provide any next of kin or emergency contact information.” He grumbled, “So there’s nobody to blame but the patient for his condition.” The nurse shrugged, “I guess so, Doctor.”

 

“Well, I guess I’ll have to wait until Mr. Williams regains consciousness to vent my frustrations.”

 

**********

 

The very ill Five-0 detective remained in the ICU until Saturday morning, when the hospital staff noted that his fever had diminished slightly.

 

“Mr. Williams, how are you feeling this morning?” Doctor Hansen stood at his patient’s bedside reviewing the chart of the night’s vital signs and observations. The young man was pale and gaunt, but the pain he had been enduring for the past few days was no longer present.

 

“Like I might live, Doc. Thanks.” His voice was thick with sedation.

 

The doctor looked up from the chart to study his patient. It was very apparent to the physician that his patient’s clarity of thought was not completely there, but he hoped he could get some information from the young man, perhaps especially in his not-all-there condition.

 

“I gather you live alone?” Dan nodded slightly, with eyes closed.

 

“Well, you single-handedly almost managed to kill yourself by not coming in sooner.”

 

“Yeah, I kind of figured that out,” was Dan’s sheepish reply, but the doctor was not satisfied.

 

“Do you know how quickly peritonitis can kill you after something like a burst appendix? Probably not. Well, let me tell you. If you’d waited another thirty minutes, you’d probably be wearing a toe tag in the morgue right now.” The patient lifted his heavy eyelids to attempt eye contact with the physician.

 

“I was just busy at work.” The excuse sounded absurd even to Dan as he was saying it. 

 

The older man stared down disapprovingly at Williams, “And I see that there would be nobody to even notify if you were in the morgue right now.”

 

Unable to will his eyes to remain open, the patient sighed, “I guess that’s right…” 

 

The doctor let out a humph, and responded, “You’re a Five-0 detective. Please don’t tell me that Steve McGarrett has no interest in your whereabouts this weekend.”

 

Dan blinked and tried to focus on the doctor’s expression. “How do you know that?”

 

“I read the papers. There was quite a hubbub several weeks ago when McGarrett brought you on board if I recall.” The patient grimaced and closed his eyes again, “Damn reporters…”

 

“Hmm, yes, well that said, I’d like to place a call to Mr. McGarrett—”

 

Before the doctor could finish, Dan, somehow in his diminished mental state, envisioned that his boss would be angry with him, so with his last words of the exchange said softly, but adamantly, “No—please – don’t bother him.” Even through his concern about the doctor possibly embarrassing him by calling Steve, Dan could no longer keep his eyes open.

 

Hansen frowned, made some notes on the clipboard, and as he left his sleeping patient, he said to himself, “We’ll discuss this again.”

 

 

**********

 

“So, Danny Boy, another year under your belt, and you’re still there and I’m still here.”

 

The patient knew the familiar voice, but couldn’t open his eyes. Dan breathed a little faster as he mumbled a response, “Pop, I’m sorry…”

 

Suddenly, Dan was standing near a rocky shore. He could almost feel the spray from the wave exploding nearby. Then, he felt an icy hand on his shoulder, and he turned to see the visage of a long-dead uncle staring at him with an angry glare.

 

His eyes popped open, only to be filled with the darkness of the room. As his room was on the west side of the hospital, light was not yet peaking through the blinds of Dan’s room. The dream left him a little shaky and disoriented.

 

Is it Sunday? He asked himself. He ran his hand along the stitched wound on his abdomen. Sore, but not agonizing, he thought, recollecting the fiery pain he had lived with earlier that week. With any luck, he could make it through his on-call stint that night with a minimal expenditure of energy. He lay there in the bed, trying to organize his thoughts and orient himself to his circumstance for several minutes before a nurse slipped into the room to take his pulse, blood pressure, and temperature.

 

The young Polynesian woman smiled, and as she gently slipped a thermometer into his mouth and took hold of his wrist, she said, “Good morning, Mr. Williams. I’m just taking your vital signs. Please hold this under your tongue.”

 

Dan closed his eyes again while waiting for the thermometer to be removed.

 

“Still a fever,” she commented as she studied the mercury. “Not to worry though – that IV will take care of that in just a few days. You’ll be out of here and feeling much better.”

 

The detective opened his eyes and turned his head towards the nurse. “A few days? You mean a few minutes. I’m leaving now.”

 

An alarmed expression came over her. “Oh, no, you’re too weak to leave today.”

 

“Look, I’m getting up, getting dressed and getting out of here. If there is something you want me to sign that says I left against medical advice, I’ll sign. If not, then that’s okay with me. Either way, I’m leaving.” His tone was resolute.

 

“I’m calling the doctor!” The woman replied and rushed from the room without waiting for a response.

 

As his first order of business, he pulled the IV from the back of his hand. Blood began to drizzle from the puncture wound and Dan stopped for a moment to apply pressure to the area with a corner of his hospital gown. By the time he was satisfied that the wound had sufficiently clotted, a doctor whom Dan did not recognize, an older woman who was probably the young nurse’s supervisor, and the young nurse herself had burst into the room ready to do battle with their patient.

 

“Just where do you think you’re going, Mr. Williams? You need to be on IV antibiotics for a few more days.” The doctor stated authoritatively.

 

The detective grimaced as he slowly turned on his side to roll from the bed. The nurse supervisor and the doctor physically blocked Williams’ progress from the bed.

 

Impatient and still not well, Dan snapped, “Look, Doc, I appreciate the concern, but I’ll be fine. I already told the nurse that I’d be happy to sign whatever form lets the hospital off the hook. Last time I checked, Hawaii was still part of the land of the free and the home of the brave, and since I AM of the age of consent, there is nothing you can do to stop me. So, please, get out of my way!”

 

The doctor, taking in a slow deliberate breath, nodded at the older nurse, who tugged the arm of her subordinate, and they both slipped out of the room quickly. “On the contrary, Mr. Williams, you are a post-surgical patient who signed a consent form to be treated at this facility. As such, I can detain you here for as long as ninety-six hours! So, let me tell you what’s going to happen. You are going to stay put right here in this bed until at least Tuesday evening. At that time, if you so choose, you may sign out – against medical advice – that’s AMA!”

 

Dan, incensed at the thought that he could be legally held against his will opened his mouth to speak, but the head nurse re-entered the room as if on queue. Her superior expression told Dan that the syringe she held in her hand was the weapon that would be used against him.

 

“Wait just a minute!” Dan breathed, the dismay at his predicament obvious in his tone. “You can’t just—”

 

The doctor interrupted, “I CAN, and I will!”

 

Suddenly, the patient realized another tack was in order. Fighting a narcotic was not a battle he could win. His tone softened and became more pleading, “Wait, please don’t.” He gingerly lay himself back down on the bed. “No drugs please. I’ll behave.” The two medical people in the room exchanged suspicious glances at the dramatic change in their patient’s demeanor. Seeing his captors were skeptical, Dan pressed on, “I – I guess I can’t go home with these tubes and stuff dangling, huh?” With the most disarming kid face he could pull together, he glanced down uncertainly at the catheter bag that hung cock-eyed on the side of the bed.

 

Another silent exchange between the doctor and nurse told Dan they were swayed. The nurse, her body language losing its fighting posture, spoke gently as she held the hypodermic up for his inspection, “This would make you rest much easier.”

 

Still in his innocent disguise, he responded with a question, “Can I take you up on it a little later if I get uncomfortable?” He let a flicker of a smile brush across his face, and with that final touch, the nurse was properly melted.

 

She smiled and adjusted his pillow, “Of course you can. All you have to do is press the buzzer right here.”

 

“Thank you,” Dan intoned, genuinely grateful for the compassion this woman was revealing.

 

The doctor observed the patient for a couple more minutes as the nurse re-inserted his IV and adjusted the flow of medicine. He stepped forward and pulled back the dressing that covered about eight square inches of the patient’s lower right abdomen. The doctor grimaced and continued his examination. By the time they were finished, the young man’s eyes had closed and his breathing had slowed.

 

“Make a note in his chart,” the physician instructed as they stepped out of the room. “There’s localized swelling, and his temperature is still elevated. We may have to insert a drainage tube later today.” He shook his head and continued a little more quietly, “Whew, I thought we were gonna have to call security!” The woman nodded as she glanced back at the door, “I’m amazed he had so much fight in him after a burst appendix.”     

 

Seconds after the door closed behind the healers, Dan’s eyes popped open. He glanced cautiously about the room as he removed the newly inserted IV. Still under the sheets, he delicately slid the catheter tube out, a wave of queasiness washing over him. He then rolled over and made it to an almost upright standing position, leaning against the bed for a moment to stabilize himself. His battle with the medical people made him all the more determined to make a break for freedom. Who do they think they are? Williams wondered as he gathered the strength to continue his escape.

 

Making it to the closet was a slow process, and ten minutes had passed by the time he retrieved his clothes and got dressed. Finally, the detective sat down in the chair by his bed as he used the phone to call for a cab.

 

Dan made it down the stairs to the hospital lobby only with great difficulty. The stairwell seemed endless. At one point, he found himself clinging to the railing to keep from tumbling down what seemed to Dan to be a flight of cliff-like stairs. He wished the elevator had been a viable option, but he would have had to pass right by the nurses’ station. A security guard gave him a bored glance, indicating to the detective that his absence had not been noticed, and he managed to saunter casually out the door to the waiting cab.

 

 

*********

 

“Bruddah! Here we are!” The cab driver, who appeared to have some Asian ancestry, leaned into the back seat and shook his fare, who was slouching against the back passenger door. “Hey, Bruddah! Wake up! You home!” Dan stirred, and opened his eyes to stare at the pair of concerned eyes staring back.

           

“Here,” Dan said softly as he pulled the wad of cash that was left over from his cab ride to the hospital out of his pocket and handed it to the driver.

 

After a cursory inspection, the driver looked up at his fare, who was staggering out of the vehicle. “Hey! This is too much!” The heavyset man jumped from his car a rushed around to Dan, who swayed and grabbed the cabbie’s arm. “Dey made you leave da hospital too soon I think! Let me help you!”

 

The Good Samaritan cab driver virtually dragged Dan to his apartment and helped him with his key before wishing him a quick recovery. The relief at making it home was enormous for Williams, as he maneuvered his way to the kitchen for a glass of water. He pulled a bottle of aspirin from the cabinet, and swallowed three of them. Without bothering to replace the lid on the bottle, he staggered to his bed, kicked off his sandals, and gingerly lay himself down. The exhausting trip home from the hospital gave Dan pause about not telling his boss about his condition.

 

I guess this won’t be the best week to complain about being chained to my desk, he thought, and within minutes, he was sleeping a black, dreamless sleep. 

 

 

**********

 

The ringing sounded so distant. Why doesn’t somebody answer that phone, Williams thought. As he gradually ascended from the pit of unconsciousness where he’d spent the better part of twelve hours, the young man swallowed and inhaled. The phone… It’s your phone… your phone…Suddenly, the cacophony in his bedroom grew unbearable, and he started awake and rolled his head in the direction of the nightstand. Almost panicky to stop the noise, Dan collected the phone handset, and spoke thickly, “Williams.”

 

 “Danny, it’s Kouko in Dispatch!” boomed the energetic voice.

 

“Uhh, yeah, Kouko, what’s up?”

 

“We’ve got a report of a kidnapping at the Halekulani Hotel!”

 

The detective mentally snapped himself to a more alert state at the alarming news. “What? Who?” Dan interrogated as he tried desperately to shake off the disorientation.

 

“The owner of the Halekulani, Thomas Brock, called. He says his wife was kidnapped from their suite.” Within the space of about 30 seconds, Dan managed to pull himself to an upright position and look at the clock by his bed. It was just after midnight.

 

“Danny?”

 

Hearing the question in the dispatcher’s voice, he responded, hoping he sounded more together than he felt, “I’ll be right there. Roll a marked unit as well, no lights.” Dan had the presence of mind to consider that, until the details were known, it was best for the police to keep a low profile. Still unaccustomed to being the one in charge, he knew it was going to take all the concentration he could muster to make it through the night.

 

 

**********

 

Dan, while recognizing that he was weak, was relieved that he felt an order of magnitude better than he had when he arrived home from the hospital thirteen hours earlier. He was able to gingerly get dressed and run a toothbrush through his mouth before he left. En route, he called McGarrett and his two colleagues, suspecting that the boss would want to bring all possible resources to bear on any crime of such a violating nature.

 

Now, he stood in the lavish, koa-wood paneled Kamehameha Suite of the Halekulani Hotel with its night manager, John Akama, and an apparently very distraught Thomas Brock. The man, in his mid-seventies, had a shock of gray hair that had receded almost to the top of his head, revealing a shiny pink forehead. The lava orange luau shirt he wore, the detective noted, was buttoned unevenly so that there was an extra hole at the top and an extra button at the bottom.

 

“Mr. Brock, has anyone else touched the note?” Dan asked as he reviewed the content as well as the condition of the paper, which he gently pushed all the way open with the eraser end of his pencil on the large koa wood desk.

 

It looked to be a sheet of standard typing paper that had been folded into fourths. The message was typed, so there would at least be a typewriter that might link the perpetrator to the crime. It did seem to Dan that the note had been wet in the not too distant past. Through his handkerchief, he picked up the note and sniffed. Expecting a hint of brine or perhaps some alcoholic beverage, he yanked the paper away from his face to save himself further exposure to the vile, organic smell. It stirred, but did not completely awaken, an uneasy memory.

 

“I’m sorry, I did pick up the note as well,” the response came from night manager Akama, a man, perhaps in his late forties. His northern European features did not match his Japanese name, Dan observed. “As soon as Mr. Brock called, I rushed right up. I’m the one that contacted the police.”

 

Turning his attention back to the people in the room, he listened as Brock related that his wife, Marie, was fatigued and had left the annual employee luau around ten o’clock PM to go to her room. He returned to the room a little before midnight and saw that his wife was nowhere to be found. He called the police as soon as he discovered the note on the floor by the door. The message instructed Brock to have $200,000 in unmarked bills ready in a Halekulani-marked laundry bag by noon Monday – less than twelve hours away. It also instructed him to stay in his room because he would be contacted.

 

By the time McGarrett strode into the room about fifteen minutes later, a tipsy Brock had wept himself into near exhaustion, and was sitting quietly on the couch, nursing seltzer water.

 

Dan filled his boss in as quickly as possible, and then added a thought, “It doesn’t look like she made it to the room.”

 

The head of Five-0 gazed around the room intently and then took a quick tour of the other two rooms in the suite, before replying, “I think you’re right, Danno. No sign of a purse or a turned down bed. What was she wearing?”

 

“A muu muu that matches Mr. Brock’s shirt,” replied the junior officer.

 

McGarrett glanced in Brock’s direction, and said, “Get Chin and Kono outta bed.”

 

“I did – they’re on their way,” Dan said, and McGarrett nodded in approval at his new officer’s initiative, and then proceeded to reassure Brock that Five-0 would do everything in its power to affect the rescue of his wife.

 

The man was willing to pay – the amount did not seem to phase the multi-millionaire. He was anxious about the possibility of something going wrong. Akama spoke up and did his best to let Brock, a visitor to the islands, know that he was in the best possible hands with the Five-0 team.

 

Brock, the original sole owner of the Halekulani and several other hotels around the world, had been bought out as a majority stockholder and was now merely a beloved icon of the company. With the exception of their annual tour of the hotel chains, he and his wife lived for most of the year at their estate home in Kentucky. 

 

By six o’clock AM, the Five-0 team had questioned all the witnesses they could find, and searched the hotel, paying particular attention to Marie Brock’s likely path back towards her room. A partially-denuded orchid lei like the one she had been wearing was found on the stairs to the garage, so it appeared probable that she had been taken out of the hotel via that passageway. From his makeshift command post suite next door to the Brocks’, McGarrett posed questions that needed answers.

 

“How did these guys know where Mrs. Brock would be?” he inquired of the audience, his three detectives. Kono and Chin, who were perched on the sofa, and Dan, who was slouched down in the matching easy chair as the boss paced back and forth a few feet away.

 

“Inside job maybe,” Chin chimed in. Kono nodded and added, “Boss, there is one employee who worked the luau, but didn’t finish his shift – a Raymond Kurcher.”

 

McGarrett turned and directed his question at the Hawai’ian, “Didn’t finish? Did anybody see him leave? Did he tell anyone where he was going?” The questions came at Kono like machine gun fire.

 

“The last time the shift supervisor noticed him was around 9:30 when he was supposed to refill the punch bowl,” Kono replied. “He never came back. I got his address and had HPD check it out, but he wasn’t there.”

 

McGarrett, the consummate detective, had a sense they were on the right track, and with that knowledge came the reward of a renewed measure of energy.  “Okay, so maybe this guy Kurcher knows something! Danno, I want you to—” the boss didn’t finish his sentence as he looked over at his newest member, who appeared to be sleeping soundly. McGarrett took a few steps closer, and then gently, shook Dan’s shoulder. “Danno?”

 

When no response was forthcoming, he looked at his other two detectives, who did not seem overly concerned. After all, their colleague tended to spend his time off in high-energy pursuits, such as surfing and hiking. That he would be tired after a weekend of Williams’ kind of fun, and then working all night did not seem unreasonable to them.

 

Something, a small voice in the back of Steve McGarrett’s head, said there was more to it. What he could not tell. He shook a little harder and repeated, “Danno? You all right?”

 

The young man stirred and moaned before he opened his eyes slowly and noticed the three sets of eyes staring at him. He moved to straighten up quickly in the chair, and couldn’t contain a wince before he regained what he hoped was a little more neutral mask.

 

“Uh, sorry,” he intoned sheepishly, and swallowed.

 

“Wild weekend, bruddah?’ A grinning Kono asked as if he already knew.

 

“You have no idea…” was all Dan could bring himself to say.

 

“More importantly, any lessons learned?” came the question from the slightly impatient lead detective.

 

Dan swallowed, and glanced up at his boss, “I’ll never do it again.” Yep, thank God they don’t grow back…

 

“You’re looking a little pale. Everything okay?” McGarrett softened a little after the young man’s discomfited reply and studied Dan, whose movements harkened an image in Steve’s mind of someone with a bad case of sunburn. 

 

“Yeah, I’m okay,” Dan responded as energetically as he could muster because he could feel his boss studying him. If the workload wasn’t bad enough without a kidnapping pre-empting everything, there was just no way Dan could see bowing out on Steve.

 

After a few more seconds of suspicious evaluation, Steve turned away and said, “Hmm, I hate to have you miss out on your beauty rest, but do you think you can get the audio recording equipment set up on Brock’s phone?”

 

As the two veteran detectives smirked at their boss’s remark, Dan knew that the question was no request. As he rose from the chair, he replied, “Sure, Steve. Did you want me to contact the phone company?”

 

McGarrett evaluated the detective, who now stood with his hand on the doorknob awaiting a reply. “Yeah, do that, and arrange with HPD to have somebody monitor Brock’s phone. I don’t want him taking that phone call alone.”

 

Dan nodded and smiled, “Right.” With that he was out the door.

 

McGarrett’s thoughts were once again consumed with the crime at hand, and he set about assigning the next round of tasks to his other detectives.

 

“Chin, see if you can get a better handle on Kurcher. Any arrests, outstanding warrants –  family – friends – enemies – you know the drill.”

 

“Right, boss,” the Oriental detective nodded and left.

 

“Kono, I want you to get what help you need, and give this hotel another good, hard look.”

 

“On it, boss,” the Hawaiian responded as he stood, stretched, and left.

 

 

**********

 

McGarrett had another meeting with Brock to explain that he would need to keep the kidnapper on the phone for as long as possible when the call came. Nearby, as Dan finished setting up the recording equipment, he noticed that his boss was so focused on his objective that he did not seem to be aware of the terse manner in which he managed the conversation with the distraught spouse of the victim. His brilliant, goal-oriented boss did frequently leave something to be desired in the sensitivity department. He knew McGarrett was a man of deep passion, and Dan could never doubt for a second the man’s commitment to truth and justice, but his mannerisms frequently belied what must be going on under the surface.

 

Kind of like a rip tide, Dan mused. The more he considered Steve McGarrett’s personality, the value he placed on honesty and trust, the greater the feeling in his gut that he had made a mistake in not coming clean about his illness. Better late than never, he decided as he noticed McGarrett ending his conversation with Brock.

 

“Uh, Steve!” Dan set down the spare reel of tape he held, and approached the man, who did seem to be – as usual – in a hurry and a little remote. Already with his hand on the door knob, and glancing at his watch, McGarrett turned to look in Dan’s direction. Determined, Dan tried plunge ahead, “I need to talk to you about something.”

 

“About the case?”

 

“Uh, no, it’s—”

 

“Is it more important than what you’re doing?”  The lead detective remembered as he spoke with Brock that he had not yet called in to the office to re-arrange the detectives’ day, and his distraction about this was not to be put off.

 

Dan blinked for a moment considering the proper response. Breaking eye contact, he gave one side of his forehead a self-conscious rub, and then knew what his boss needed to hear at that moment, “No, I guess it’s not.”

 

McGarrett nodded, and as he opened the door, there was the intellectual knowledge that he needed to give his officer the opportunity to change his mind, so he threw back over his shoulder.  “Cause if it is, I can order up some coffee and kau kau, and we can go sit out on the lanai and discuss it.”

 

The door was closed before Dan managed a soft response, “Maybe later.”

 

We’ve got to get that diffidence under control, McGarrett shook his head as he stepped back into the command post. He phoned May, who’d just arrived in the office to find nobody there.

 

“Boss, what’s up? I’m making the first pot of coffee this morning!” The secretary usually arrived to find the head of the office already entrenched in his office deep in the bowels of the work that was his life.

 

“Believe me when I tell you that we’re all well past our first pot this morning, Honey. You’re gonna need to cancel all of our meetings today. We’ve got a kidnapping at the Halekulani,” McGarrett responded. “Anything on fire there?”

 

“Just the usual stuff – two messages so far, one from the attorney general about pushing back your meeting an hour. The other message is from a Doctor Hansen at Queens Hospital. He requested that you call him as soon as possible. Do you want the number?” May asked.

 

McGarrett frowned, “Hmm, no, save it. I’ll try to get back to him tomorrow.” Probably somebody stealing penicillin, he thought.

 

After a couple more instructions, he cut the call short as Kono burst into the suite an order of magnitude more animated than usual.

 

“We found him, Steve – in a backroom of the maintenance office down by the garage! He’s dead!”

 

Steve moved quickly and followed Kono down the hallway, and as they passed Brock’s suite, he opened the door and called, “Danno! We’ve found Kurcher!”

 

Dan had been briefing HPD Sergeant Doug Field, who was assigned to monitor and record the call. Upon hearing McGarrett’s news, he patted Field on the shoulder and trotted after his boss. While exhausted and uncomfortable, the detective now felt that he could – no, must -- will his discomfort away. Steve was right – what could be more important that a woman’s life?

 

As the trio made their way to the basement, Dan silently chanted his mantra, Focus…Focus…

 

A large toolbox was locked in what reminded the officers of a jail cell. In the neighboring cell, were a filing cabinet and a small desk bearing only a typewriter and a desk lamp. The typewriter had a slightly cock-eyed equipment requisition form sitting in it. The incongruous and disturbing aspect of this scene was the blood that trailed off of the keys to the body face down on the floor beneath the desk.

 

McGarrett squatted beside the body and leaned so that he could see the face, which now seemed to be frozen in annoyance; the glassy eyes looked to a distant horizon not visible to the living.

 

“Are we sure it’s Kurcher?” McGarrett asked.

 

Kono nodded, “That’s what his ID says.”

 

Dan had glanced in the direction of the body, but his attention was focused on the desk and the state of the objects on it. He leaned a little closer to the typewriter, and read the last thing that had been typed:

 

gzp killdc md

 

“It looks like Kurcher was trying to tell us something,” Dan mused. His boss stood and read the cryptic message.

 

“Hmmm, well he had to be trying to point the finger at the guy who double-crossed him,” McGarrett added. “And he definitely didn’t have much time to do it.” With that he pulled the chain dangling from the small banker’s lamp. The light illuminated the old Corona typewriter, better revealing a blood-smeared keyboard. He continued, “K – I – L – L is pretty clear.”

 

Dan didn’t respond as he guided his fingers to hover over the home keys.  “Okay, yeah,” the detective spoke softly. “Yeah, look, Steve. If we start with the assumption that Kurcher wanted us to know who did him in, then when he typed K – I – L – L – D – C, he might have been trying to type K – I – L – L-  E –D.” The young man paused, concentrating on his hands, as Steve grunted agreement. Dan continued thinking out loud, “To type K – I – L – L – without looking –  I only need to have my right hand properly positioned over the home keys – J – K – L – semi-colon, but to type K – I – L – L – E – D, I have to have my left hand properly positioned over its home keys as well – F – D – S – A.”

 

McGarrett knew they were on the right track, and he gently tugged the requisition form from the typewriter and grabbed a fresh sheet of paper from the top of a nearby file cabinet.

 

As his boss rolled a new sheet into the strike zone, Dan continued working through the puzzle, “So, to type D – C when I want to type E – D my left hand would have to be using V – C – X – Z as my home keys.”

 

Chin Ho had stepped into the cage with Doctor Bergman, the medical examiner, during the course of the exercise. They exchanged nods with Kono, but McGarrett and Williams were focused on the task at hand. So intense was their concentration on what transpired several hours ago in the little cell that they did not seem to notice the presence of anyone else.

 

“Yeah, okay, he can’t get his left hand all the way up, so he brings it up as far as he can – which is the bottom row of keys – and starts typing a message that will finger his killer. It’s dark and he can’t reach the light, so he just has to hope that his hands will leave the right message,” McGarrett intoned.

 

Dan continued the exercise, “M I type with my right hand, so the M is really an M, and we know the D maps to an E, so the last two words are ‘KILLED ME.’”

 

The two men looked at each other, each truly sensing that he was in lockstep with the other. In tandem, they looked back down at the keyboard, and Dan repositioned his hands, and began the exercise again.

 

“So, the fingering from V to G correlates with the correct fingering from F to T, and Z maps to A, and the P is a P,” Dan typed the letters as he spoke.  Then he pulled his hands away from the typewriter to study the word as the buried memory clawed its way to the top of his thoughts.

 

Memories of a man from two different times in his life coalesced, came into and out of focus. He had put the horrible recollections into a back pocket of his mind, and hoped he would never hear the name that would pull them out into the light of day again. It disturbed him that he still felt a combination of rage and irrational fear towards the unpalatable specimen of a man. Dan did his best to shove his emotions into the background, as he wiped the dampness from his upper lip, and focused his thoughts on the evidence before him. If there was any doubt in his mind about his physical capacity to stick it out on the case, it vanished with his cognizance of the meaning in the typed message from the dead man.

 

“T – A – P,” McGarrett spelled. “Tap killed me.” Suddenly, back in the present, the head of Five-0 turned to the three men who’d been observing the exercise, and asked, “Ring any bells?”

 

Dan stepped from behind him to make eye contact with Chin and responded, “Yeah…Tap… Tap Bates.”

 

The Oriental detective cocked his head, and replied doubtfully, “Danny – Tap Bates is dead. You should know that better than anybody.”

 

The young detective’s expression hardened as he responded, “I know that’s what Ray Kaimano’s report said, Chin.”

 

Ray’s name brought a flash of annoyance to Steve. Growing impatient to know the details behind what his two detectives were discussing, McGarrett passed glances from man to man as he demanded, “What’s this? Who’s Tap Bates?”

 

“Tap Bates was the prime suspect in the Cox kidnapping last year, Steve,” the Oriental detective reminded his boss.

 

In an action so typical to the man, McGarrett began to snap his fingers quickly in concentration. “The Cox Case! I remember reading the file, but the name doesn’t sound familiar.”

 

“The name in the file was probably Arthur Ronald Bates,” Dan explained.

 

As Dan spoke, more recollections of the events surrounding the crime revealed themselves to McGarrett.  “Yeah, if I recall, one of the suspects was found dead shortly before the money was dropped, and the other one – Arthur Bates – fell overboard from his getaway boat, and drowned.” McGarrett looked in Chin’s direction. “No body was recovered though.”

 

“Right, Steve. Ray and I were on the Coast Guard UTB that overtook the boat, and Danny was in the HPD chopper tracking the scene from the air,” Chin responded and nodded in Dan’s direction.

 

Before Chin could continue, Bergman intervened, “Do you think you boys could chat about this somewhere else besides on top of my DB?” 

 

The head of Five-0 glanced down as he remembered the dead suspect on the floor.  “Sorry, Doc.  We’ll be upstairs in the Aloha Suite. Let me know what you find,” McGarrett said, as he stepped over the lifeless form and gently pushed Dan in front of him and out of the cage. Kono and Chin brought up the rear as the Five-0 detectives returned to the command post.

 

Once in the suite, McGarrett demanded to have his memory refreshed about the details of the Cox case and what his detectives knew about Tap Bates. Dan was a little more reserved than usual, Steve noted, and sat quietly in the large chair in which he’d fallen asleep a few hours earlier, sipping orange juice from a tall, frosted glass. The hotel management had sent up some soft drinks, coffee, and pastries, of which Chin and Kono eagerly partook. As his younger colleague did not seem inclined to speak, Chin began to relate the facts as best he could recall them.

 

Arthur Bates was a clever, but basically seedy low life, who along with a partner, was suspected of kidnapping the son of the president of Hawaiian National Bank (Lawrence Cox). Steve was on active duty on a special assignment for the Navy at the time, so Ray Kaimano and Chin Ho Kelly worked the case. Ray instructed Chin to get some HPD support, and so Chin tapped then-HPD Detective Dan Williams to assist him.

 

The three men worked tirelessly to run down leads until they uncovered a witness that had spotted Bates’ car the night of the kidnapping near the Cox residence. Once Bates was a suspect, they zeroed in on the marina where Bates kept a boat moored. Their big break came when they were able to link a boat docked nearby to a ransom-related phone call through the marine operator. Ray and Chin arrived at the marina not more than fifteen minutes after the cabin cruiser, Wailing Mary, left her birth. So they had to enlist the aid of the Coast Guard. Ray directed Dan to take to the sea via helicopter to reconnoiter the area. Within minutes of taking to the air, Williams radioed in that he had spotted the boat.

 

As the Coast Guard UTB closed in on the cabin cruiser, one suspect, who was visible via binoculars, picked up the boy, and wrapped the anchor chain around his neck and upper torso. Chin grew animated as he described how Dan, from his airborne perch, could see that the boy’s life was in immediate danger, and with the man’s close proximity to the child, there was no good opportunity to try to use his service revolver. So, in a daring and acrobatic move, he jumped about ten feet from the low-hovering helicopter onto the roof of the Wailing Mary.

 

The fiend, let go of the child, whom he had heaped upon the starboard walkway in clear preparation for dropping him overboard. From the roof, Dan leaped onto the suspect, and the pair struggled, Dan having the advantage of agility and youth, and the suspect the advantage in size. The detective finally was able to get a good punch to the gut, and then a kick to the suspect’s chest, and just as Dan pulled his gun, he heard the boy scream and slip the length of the walkway into the ocean. There was no time to waste, with the child burdened by at least fifty pounds of steel. Dan dove overboard after the rapidly sinking victim, and managed to grab the chain.

 

“I tell you, I couldn’t tell for the longest time whether either of them had come back up,” Chin related. 

 

Dan nodded, remembering the rough sea on that rainy day.  “If you think it felt like a long time from above water, you should have been on the other side of the waves. That creep had wrapped a chain around the kid’s neck and I had to get under him before I could lift it off. I don’t know how far we sank, but it ruptured the poor little guy’s ear drums.” The detective paused remembering that he himself couldn’t hear out of his right ear for a week after the horrifying incident.

 

McGarrett almost shuddered at the terrifying image of Dan and the boy struggling to unburden themselves of the anchor as they plunged deeper toward the cooler, darker high-pressure recesses of the ocean. Shaking off the chill, he spoke up.

 

“But he lived to tell the tale, Danno. You know, I read Ray’s report, but I don’t remember that any of these details were included.”

 

Chin shrugged, “Anyway, as soon as the guy saw that Danny and the Cox boy had made it back to the surface, he turned his boat around and made a beeline to run over them. The only thing the Coast Guard commander could see to do was to cut him off. We ended up ramming the boat.”

 

“It was hard to see too much – it was real choppy and I was trying to keep the kid’s head out of the water – but I saw somebody fly out of the boat and slam into the side of the UTB,” Dan added.

 

Chin picked up the thread again.  “The cabin cruiser sank like a rock, and we did a thorough search of the area, but we never turned up a body. Since Arthur Bates was the registered owner of the Wailing Mary, the Coast Guard listed him as missing, presumed dead,” the Oriental detective wound down his tale.

 

Dan said nothing, as he pulled two of the hotel’s courtesy aspirin packets out of his pocket, tore them open and popped the pills into his mouth.

 

McGarrett made a mental note to pull the Cox file, and review it again. Either a lot had been left out or he had not paid very close attention. “So,” he started as he began to pace, “Kurcher either fingered a dead guy OR maybe we figured the keyboard fingering wrong.” A little put out at the setback, he sighed and continued, “I think we might need to have another look at that typewriter and what it typed. Danno, do you want to have another look at that?” 

 

“Do you want my opinion, or do you want me to agree with you?”

 

The bravado of the young detective caused Kono and Chin to stop breathing momentarily to gauge the reaction of their boss, who was most definitely not accustomed to subordinates speaking out too loudly. Dan, who had been looking at the floor, got up the nerve to look at the man who had frozen in mid-pace to digest the question. For a few seconds, the motor on the bar’s refrigerator seemed unusually loud. Then Steve suddenly cocked his head and turned to meet his new detective’s gaze. The two men stared at each other.

 

Steve found himself impressed that the young man would not be stared down. He wanted an answer.

 

Tell me how it’s gonna be, Boss Man, Dan thought, his jaw tightening and his head throbbing as he awaited the reply. Did Steve hire him because he thought he would bend to his will even when he felt otherwise? The time to find out is now, Dan decided. If he couldn’t contribute honestly, then he was better off as a detective with HPD. 

 

McGarrett’s lips turned upward in a thin smile as he responded, “Yes to both –” He took in a deep breath before he continued, not breaking eye contact with Dan, “But if I can’t have both, I’d rather have the opinion.”

 

Dan slowly let out the breath that he’d been holding as his estimation of Steve McGarrett jumped yet again, but both the other two detectives let out loud breaths of relief.  Steve noted the reactions of his two veteran detectives and flashed a glance in their direction.

 

He walked over to the edge of the desk and sat down. “What is your opinion, Danno?”

 

All eyes turned to the newest member of the team as McGarrett folded his arms across his chest. Dan took one more sip of the orange juice he’d been holding and then stood. Focus…

 

“You picked your second theory – I pick your first. Kurcher fingered a dead guy – because he’s NOT dead. I told Detective Kaimano that I did not believe the guy that I got up close and personal with on that boat was Arthur Bates. He – in turn – informed me that, IF the fact that Bates owned the getaway boat wasn’t good enough for me, a confirmed partial of Bates’ thumbprint had been recovered from the duct tape off of the Cox boy’s ankles.”

 

The young man stopped and walked behind the big chair, primarily so that he could turn away from his audience and close his eyes for a moment to concentrate on dominating his physical discomfort. The pause allowed an entry for his boss, who – Dan gratefully noticed – had been focused on his detective’s words, not his demeanor.

 

“And how, Detective Williams, do you refute this evidence?” McGarrett did not move from his position as he cocked his head in the opposite direction from whence it had been angled. While this young detective had been with Five-0 but a short while, McGarrett did not want to make the mistake— as numerous other senior detectives in HPD had done— of assuming that an inexperienced face meant no skill.

 

“That evidence tells me that Bates was involved – it does NOT tell me definitively that the suspect that went into the drink was Bates. These two kidnappings smell like the same brain hatched them. And speaking of smell, did you happen to get a whiff of ransom note?” The detective circled back around the chair and sat on its cushioned arm.

 

“Did I smell the note? No,” replied McGarrett, his nose wrinkling, “Did you?”

 

“Yes, I did,” Dan’s answer was very matter-of-fact as he continued, “And the smell was identical to the note in the Cox case. It was a – sweaty – sickly sweet – organic smell.”

 

McGarrett furled his brow and continued concentrating on Dan as he responded, “So, not your typical scented stationery, eh?”

 

Chin, who’d been sitting quietly, swallowed the last bite of pastry that he’d been holding, and frowned, “Danny, I don’t remember anything about the smell of the Cox note.”

 

Dan shrugged, “I mentioned it to you and Ray during our first evidence re-cap meeting.” 

 

Chin ran his hand over his mouth in concentration for just a couple of seconds before he looked up suddenly, “That’s right, Danny! I remember now, because you were holding the note like it was a day-old dead conch.

 

The young detective flashed a flicker of a smile at Chin’s perception of the incident, but quickly turned dark as Dan also recollected that Ray had rolled his eyes and seemed annoyed at what he took to be an irrelevant observation. He hesitated for a moment before plunging ahead.

 

“It was also in the addendum to Ray’s report which I submitted to Pete Beauprez. Pete got real ticked with me, and didn’t want to file it on the grounds that the conclusion contradicted the report of the second-in-command of Hawai’i Five-0,” Dan said quietly, and then added, “I don’t know whether he ever filed the report or not.” The detective didn’t say that he never asked the Chief of Detectives about the report because he secretly hoped that Beauprez had thrown it away.

 

Pete Beauprez was, up until a couple months ago, HPD’s Chief of Detectives. In the space of one shocking hour, the Five-0 detectives learned that Beauprez was on the payroll of one of the islands’ growing crime syndicate leaders, who desperately wanted to have a man on the inside of Five-0. Had it not been for Steve’s serendipitous phone call to check in on his new Five-0 detective, Beauprez and his two thugs would have seen to Dan’s permanent removal from the coveted Five-0 detective slot, which Beauprez hoped (erroneously McGarrett knew) would then become his own.

 

Steve could only shake his head in disgust at Beauprez’ actions. There was a man so consumed with himself and his own financial betterment that he didn’t care what wrongs went unpunished, what innocents were trampled or brought down. There was a man who had schemed and connived to get the Five-0 position that Ray Kaimano had vacated – a man who was the diametric opposite of the honest, unassuming, wholesome persona of Dan Williams. McGarrett’s thoughts came back to his detective in the here-and-now as Dan spoke again with a tired conviction in his tone.

 

“The guy on the boat – that was not Tap Bates. I remember his eyes – his smell – how he moved… This was in my report…” Dan couldn’t keep the tension from seeping into his voice.

 

All of the effort Dan had made in the past few weeks to prove that he was an independent operator – that he was self-sufficient and deserving of Steve’s trust and confidence. He could see it all flying out the window.

 

This anxiety was not lost on the other three detectives, who didn’t take their eyes off of the young man’s troubled features

 

“Danno,” McGarrett started softly, “What is it?” As he moved over and directed his officer to sit down in the easy chair, he sensed that the officer moved reluctantly.

 

Dan looked up and met Steve’s concerned gaze. What do I tell him? Do I hold back on something that backs up what I’m saying just so my ego doesn’t get bruised? Am I THAT delicate?

 

The detective suddenly decided. Whatever his associates’ reactions were, he would be faithful to the truth. He owed that to Steve McGarrett. He glanced up into Steve’s penetrating blue eyes and breathed more easily, now at least having a measure of peace with his decision.

 

 “My first encounter with Tap Bates happened when I was sixteen,” Dan quietly intoned as he stared down at his lap.

 

The gripping revelation made McGarrett feel like a small jolt of electricity had suddenly coursed through his body. The thought that Danno could have had any exposure to a creep like Bates, especially something that the young man would term ‘an encounter’ – and at such a tender age – gave him pause. Steve pulled the desk chair to within an arm’s reach of the easy chair.

 

The detective ran a hand over his sandy locks and took in a slow breath and then let it out before speaking. While the pain was not sharp and focused as it had been before the surgery, there was a dull, persistent ache that seemed to radiate out to his extremities, making movement a little uncomfortable. The pain didn’t matter though right now. He was about to resurrect a memory that had become little more than a dark shadow in his past.

 

The other detectives were anxious to know the story, but pushing now seemed to be an intrusion, so the trio sat there and waited, hoping there would be no need to ask. Their patience was rewarded as Dan finally continued in the most neutral, traffic-citation tone he could pull together.

 

“It was the first semester of my senior year of high school, and I’d gotten a job at Dewey’s Service Station in Kahala, pumping’ gas, changing oil, stuff like that. I worked there a few days a week after school.”

 

The detective recounted how there had been a man that worked there full-time. He was in his early twenties, but seemed to Dan to be younger since he was mildly retarded. He was a large, ungainly young man, with homely features. Fine, wispy hair seemed to grow haphazardly and sporadically on his head. One of his ears was mildly deformed and the other one had never developed at all, so there was just a hole leading into the ear canal. The few people who called him anything called him Lolo. Dan didn’t mind pulling shifts with him, because he was a tireless worker. People picked on him though, and whether it bothered him or not, Dan never could tell that he was angry or bitter.

 

“I brought him with me to the beach a few times, because I felt sorry for him,” the detective lost some of his clinical reporting tone as he continued.

 

Dan stopped speaking and just sat there for ten seconds until McGarrett gently pushed, “Go on.”

 

Dan nodded, but did not look up as he pressed on.  “Anyway, there was this guy that would come around sometimes and have Lolo do odd jobs for him. One day, the guy –” Dan looked up at Steve and indicated, “Tap – comes into the station, and says he has some things for Lolo to do. Like always, Lolo says sure, and then Tap says bring your friend along ‘cause you’re gonna need help on this job.”

 

It was apparent to the three observant detectives that their new colleague’s revelation of the memory was taking him far from his current circumstance. It seemed as he spoke that his eyes were watching the scene unfold before him.

 

“So, Tap picks us up after work the next day, and drives us out to this junk yard off Kaheaka Road. He’s got six old cars that he needs to have moved down the road about a mile, but he’s only got one set of tires. So he wants us to put the tires on the first car, so that he can tow it down the road. Then we gotta take the tires off of the first car and take ‘em back down the road and put ‘em on the second car, and so on and so forth. It wasn’t hard, and after the first run, Tap gave me the keys to the pick up since Lolo didn’t drive, and told me to go ahead and finish the job. So we went back and forth between the old junk yard and what was beginning to look like a new junk yard. It was a dilapidated old house with an unattached garage in the back. It didn’t take us more than a couple hours before we towed the last car to the new place, and went in to the little house to find Tap.”

 

This time Dan stopped and held onto his stomach. McGarrett waited for his protégé to continue for a full thirty seconds, before he leaned forward, and touched Dan’s arm. Dan glanced up at the faces sitting on the sofa. Their expressions were masks to the uninitiated, but to him, they spoke of concern and shock for the youngest member of their team.

 

The dread was building up in McGarrett’s gut for fear of what dark event was causing his detective such physical discomfort just in the retelling so many years later. Dan continued his tale, determined to accurately and as neutrally as possible relay the sequence of events.

 

“Was Tap there?” Steve softly probed.

 

Dan nodded, “Yeah, he was there, and he paid us – five bucks a piece. Then he said he’d give us a ride back to Kahala, but first he wanted Lolo to go to the garage and put all of his tools back where they belonged. I guess Lolo had been out there quite a few times. Anyway, as soon as Lolo stepped out the door, Tap slapped me to the floor.” Dan shook his head as if trying to clear his head, and continued, “I was so surprised for a few seconds that I just looked at him as he smiled this horrible toothy grin. And then he just fell onto me. I struggled to get him off of me, but he was like a big heavy— fetid — reeking blanket. He hit me a couple more times.”

 

Dan leaned his head back and closed his eyes. Steve sat there squeezing his friend’s arm, his pulse quickening and rage growing at the slimy character that would harm a child. He listened, with a rare feeling of helplessness...

 

“I tried to crawl away, but he grabbed me and dragged me back towards him. He told me that I’d hold still for him one way the other. He picked up something – I don’t remember what – and slammed it down onto my head. Then, he raised his fist to hit me again, but Lolo burst into the room, and started shouting and punching and kicking Tap. He kicked him until Tap curled up in a ball and didn’t move. I barely remember getting out of there. I think Lolo might have carried me. We took the pick up and – I don’t know how I did it through two black eyes – but somehow I drove us back to Dewey’s. We called the police, but Tap had already called them and reported that I’d stolen his truck. We tried to tell them that I hadn’t – that he’d hit me – but the police said that the evidence was in his favor. After all, I had his truck, and he looked worse than I did after the pounding Lolo gave him. They told me I’d be lucky if Bates dropped the charges.”

 

The injustice that had been carried out that day was almost mind-boggling to the three detectives. Kono and Chin exchanged appalled glances, but McGarrett could not take his eyes off Williams.

 

“The Kulanis believed me when I told them what happened, but Tutu flipped and wouldn’t let me go back and file a complaint. She said it would be worse for me in the long run. Instead, she took me to the clinic and had my head sewn up. And then she grounded me for a month for going anywhere with a stranger,” Dan let out a single, short sarcastic laugh at the irony.

 

The indignation – the fury – McGarrett’s anger was barely confinable, “Did the bastard drop the charges?” Throughout Dan’s recounting of the horrific tale, he’d managed to come across in, more or less, a conversational tone.

 

All three of his colleagues noticed the detective draw up as he responded.

 

“I never heard all of the details, but I know that Tutu went to HPD Headquarters, and got my uncle’s former boss to make some calls, and somehow the charges went away—” Dan ran his hand through his sandy curls.

 

His eyes burned suddenly with unshed tears, and his voice, trembled, McGarrett thought, with anger more than sadness, “That Pop had to be dragged into this….” His voice trailed off for a moment, but he recovered quickly and the pain in his face was replaced by Dan’s best approximation of his new “press mask.

 

“I tried to find Lolo after that, but I never did. Dewey at the service station told me that Lolo’s brother called and said that he was leaving the islands to live with him. But I knew that wasn’t true. Lolo told me once that he had no brothers or sisters. I could only imagine that something sinister had happened to him because he’d helped me. But there was nobody that wanted to hear it. And Lolo – this kind, decent human being was gone, and nobody cared.” The retelling seemed to leave Dan drained.

 

“Somebody cared, my friend. Somebody cared,” Steve reassured as he gave one last squeeze of his friend’s arm.

 

Okay, Dan decided, the man’s reputation for insensitivity was certainly not completely deserved. He feared the touchy-feely-less-than-John-Wayne-would’ve-done facts of the incident would make his colleagues think less of him, but McGarrett’s supportive words seemed to be more than just lip service to a victim.

 

“Did you ever try to find Lolo again after that?” Now Steve was intrigued with the missing man.

 

Dan reached his hand up and nodded as he wiped his face, “Oh yeah. When I first joined HPD, I tried to look up the records on the incident, but I couldn’t find anything. The clerk told me that it was possible that what I was seeking were documents that were casualties in the 1959 HPD reorganization and precinct shutdown. There were several boxes of case histories that were misplaced in the move. Plus, I didn’t even know Lolo’s real name – not a last name – a first name. Just Lolo.”

 

Chin shook his head in outrage, “What kind of animal does that to a baby?” The Chinese detective had eight children of his own, and the thought that anyone could commit the kind of heinous act that Bates clearly intended to perpetrate on a child appalled him.

 

Equally incensed, Kono slammed his fist into his palm, “The kind that don’t need to keep their teeth.”

 

Dan had wished desperately that he hadn’t had to share such an embarrassing and degrading memory. But it was strange – now that he’d spoken the unspeakable in the clear light of day, he had to admit that, while it was definitely unpleasant, he felt relieved.

 

“Danno,” Steve paused until the detective looked up at him. “You only need to tell me this one time, but I need for you to say it. Your run-in with that scumbag, Bates, was what – twelve years ago. You were very young and scared. And yet you’re certain that the guy you grappled with on that boat was NOT the same man?”

 

McGarrett wanted – needed – to trust his new man. If he could hear the certainty in his voice, he thought now that he could be certain too.

 

Dan saw this was true. Truly not wanting to be wrong – McGarrett was getting ready to stake his own reputation on Dan’s word – the detective replayed the scene from that fateful day on the Wailing Mary.

 

His combatant was big, like Bates, but didn’t seem quite as tall. He considered whether he was just looking at Bates through a scared kid’s eyes, but then he focused on the desperate face that struggled with him. His mouth was small, his teeth crowded, and his eyes – the eyes… He decided. They were not the eyes of his attacker those many years ago.

 

He replied with finality, “It was not Arthur Bates on the boat that day.”

 

McGarrett, seeing that the statement was made with careful consideration, nodded at the detective. So be it. His conviction was now as strong as Dan’s that a mistake had been made.

 

“So, where does a dead guy hang out for a year and a half?”  The lead detective drew the discussion back to the current case.

 

Chin rose from his spot on the sofa, and casually moved to sit on the big arm of Dan’s easy chair. As he plopped his hand down on the younger man’s shoulder – the Oriental gentleman’s way of reassuring his young colleague— he responded, “How’s about at the real dead guy’s place?”

 

McGarrett spun and snapped his fingers in the Oriental detective’s direction, “That’s right, Chin, we’ve got a real dead guy and a pretender!”

 

Still angry, Kono growled, “Well, the pretender’s gonna wish he was the dead guy when I get my hands on him.”

 

The boss acknowledged the sentiment, “You’re gonna have to get in line, bruddah.” Steve massaged his shoulder briefly, the tension of the past hour having settled there. He wondered out loud, “Who was the real dead guy, and why didn’t he turn up as missing?”

 

Dan spoke up, “Maybe he did. Missing persons reports get filed all the time, but eighteen months ago, there was no reason to connect the Cox case with somebody that never showed up for work.”

 

McGarrett nodded and snapped his fingers, “Yeah, Danno, yeah.” With that, he instantly formulated the plan of action, “Kono, I want you on the missing persons angle. Chin – I want you on the history angle. Dig up everything you can on this lowlife. Arrests, addresses, associations – “He paused.  “His DEATH. I’m going back to the office. I’ll dig up Ray’s file on the Cox case. Let’s see if we can’t find who’s sleeping with the fishes.”

 

“Right, Steve,” the two detectives said in unison.

 

McGarrett then turned to face Dan in the easy chair, “And Danno…”

 

McGarrett seemed even taller suddenly to Dan as he stepped over to the easy chair and studied the tight, sandy curls on Dan’s head. Dan knew that his boss was now concerned not only about his self-sufficiency, but about his state of mind, and worry was the last thing he wished for McGarrett. He looked up and did his best to exude confidence as he answered the as-yet-to-be-spoken question.

 

“I’m not a kid anymore, Steve. I didn’t even understand what had happened for a couple years – I was pretty naďve,” he added.

 

McGarrett jumped in, and emphatically asked, “Do you understand that you had a RIGHT to be naďve? You had a RIGHT to not understand the violence? You and Lolo were victims of this monster!”

 

The head of Five-0 had been privy to many stories and reports of assault and abuse in his career. But this one, despite the fact that it happened years before, made Steve feel somehow violated right there and then, as if someone had stepped into his house and done harm to someone under his roof. The words he spoke were as much as for himself as for his young colleague. They both needed to put the incident into perspective.

 

“I understand now, and I know I’m lucky to have lived to tell the tale, but I’m not traumatized – I’m angry! Angry on behalf of the kid I was – angry that the memory of my dead uncle had to be invoked to get me out of that jam – angry for Lolo.” He paused, realizing that the volume of his voice was increasing, but he needed to be sure that Steve understood.  “I’m okay, and I’ll be even more okay when we put that creep away.”

 

The young man’s voice was sure and resolute, and it bolstered McGarrett’s confidence about Williams’ fitness to continue working on the case.

 

“I won’t lie to you, Danno, I need you on this,” McGarrett admitted.

 

Before his boss could continue, Dan encouraged, “Then tell me what you want me to do, Steve.”

 

McGarrett smiled and said, “I want you to stay with Brock, and wait for the phone call.”

 

 

**********

 

 

Dan assisted Akama and Brock with the preparation of the ransom money according to the instructions in the note. The night manager then left, letting Brock know that he needed to get a little rest in preparation for his next shift that night. His departure left Dan and Brock alone on the spacious lanai of the Kamehameha Suite for nearly two hours. The multi-millionaire spoke almost non-stop about his beloved wife of forty years and their life together. Normally, Dan might’ve balked at “baby-sitting,” but today, he had to admit, to himself anyway, that it was a relief to be sitting still in such a luxurious atmosphere, sipping a soft drink. At one point, it occurred to him to ask whether Marie had any health problems or took any medication on a regular basis.

 

“Marie is healthy as an ox, but she’s an incredible hypochondriac. I’m always teasing her that we need a separate porter for her vitamins and seaweed extract and all manner of bizarre potions.” 

 

Both men jumped and rushed inside to the desk when the phone rang. Dan instructed the sergeant to signal the phone company as he prepared to pick up the phone in concert with a shaking Brock.

 

With the tape now rolling, the detective nodded at the older man, who collected the handset and spoke, “Hello?”

 

“Thomas Brock, that you?” The voice was gravely and sounded thick with phlegm.

 

“Yes, this is Thomas Brock. My wife – please don’t harm her. I’ll pay.”

 

“Have you got the money?”

 

“It will be here, just as you demanded in your note, by noon. Please may I speak to my wife?”

 

“Talk to me, cop!” The voice growled.

 

Brock hesitated, “What?”

 

“I know you’re listening! Speak to me NOW!”

 

Dan responded in a clear, evenly paced tone, “This is Detective Williams. With whom am I speaking?”

 

A short laugh was audible before the reply came, “Just call me Pat! I don’t want no funny business from you, cop, or Lady Brock dies. I’ll call back later and let you know what you’re gonna do.”

 

Just then, McGarrett and Chin, laden with a thick folder, slipped into the room, and took in the scene.

 

“Wait!” Dan struggled to keep the kidnapper on the line. “We need to take care of this soon. Mrs. Brock isn’t well. There’s a lot of medication she needs to be taking before the day’s out. If she dies, you will never see a dime of that money.”

 

There was a silence at the other end of the line such that Dan thought that “Pat” had hung up.

 

 “I’ll call back,” came the response from the caller before he hung up. Clearly, he was getting nervous about a trace.

 

Dan spun to check with the officer, who shook his head, “Not on long enough, Danny.” Not surprised at the news, the detective looked to his boss, “It’s him. I know it’s him. He didn’t even try to disguise his voice.”

 

McGarrett patted Dan on the shoulder, “And why should he? As far as the world’s concerned, he’s dead.”

 

“What’s this? You know who did this?” Brock stepped closer to the detectives.

 

Dan turned and put his arm around the man’s shoulder, “We have a suspect, Mr. Brock, and we’re working very hard to track him down right now.”

 

The old man had cleaned up and changed his clothes early that morning, but still looked exhausted, the lines etched in his face seemed as chasms to Dan, who gently guided the man toward the bedroom.

 

“Why don’t you try to get a little rest? We can take it from here, sir.”

 

Brock allowed himself to be escorted to the bedroom door, and then looked at Dan, “I’m never going to see Marie again, am I?”

 

The man desperately needed to hold onto something, Dan knew, as he responded with a quiet determination, “Mark my words, Mr. Brock, you’ll see her.”

 

“You’ve dealt with this kind of thing before?”

 

“Yes, sir,” he replied softly, a melancholy smile underscored the ring of confidence in his tone.

 

Brock nodded, returned the smile, and patted Dan on the shoulder as he opened the door and entered, “Good boy.”

 

The detective, with the boyish face, flinched slightly at the kudo, but decided almost instantly that a seventy-five-year-old man had the right to call anyone under sixty a boy.

 

Steve observed the scene from his position by the recorder, and as Dan approached the desk, McGarrett considered what a fine quality it was to be able to relate to people on an empathetic basis.  To connect with another human being in such a way that they knew, not from cold, hard facts that you were on their side, but from a touch at an emotional level.

 

‘Perhaps,’ McGarrett mused, ‘therein lies the foundation of faith. What a gift to be a faith giver.’

 

“I –“Dan started, but stopped at the ring of the phone. Steve and Dan exchanged looks, and each reached over and collected a handset. Glancing at the recorder to make sure it was on, Steve nodded at Dan, who then spoke, “This is Detective Williams.”

 

“Okay, cop, you’re on. Today at 3:00, there’s two phone booths just inside the Kalakaua entrance of the International Marketplace. Have Brock wait there, and make sure that he has the money IN the laundry bag. NO tricks!”

 

“He’s old, ‘Pat’. Don’t do anything too dramatic out there, or it’ll be another case of you not ending up with your money,” Dan warned.

 

Steve nodded at his detective, who was clearly giving this offender pause as the hesitation on the other end of the line was obvious.

 

“Okay, wise guy, it won’t matter,” the voice said through a clenched jaw. It almost seemed like he was talking to himself. He continued, “YOU come instead. Wear a Halekulani housekeeping shirt.”

 

“You want ME to do the drop?” Dan confirmed, as his boss cocked his head at this unexpected development.

 

“You afraid?” The voice challenged in such a way that Dan could almost see the sneer. His earlier revelation to his co-workers about Bates made him feel somehow purged. Now, all Dan felt was concern for the poor victims in the present.   “Three o’clock, no tricks. How do we get Mrs. Brock back?”

 

“You’ll see.” The sound of the broken connection was loud, almost shocking, like breaking glass.

 

McGarrett slammed the headset down, and both men looked back at Sergeant Field, who shook his head, indicating that the trace was once again not successful.

 

“Good job, Danno!” McGarrett exclaimed as he slapped his detective on the back hard enough to cause him to grab the desk for support.

 

Before the detective could reply, Kono burst into the room carrying a file.

 

“I only got a couple missing people that have fishy stories,” he announced.

 

“Let’s have it,” commanded the head of Five-0. The big Hawaiian grabbed a slice of papaya from the fruit tray as he passed and slapped the file into McGarrett’s hand as he spoke, “Frank DeSalvo was reported missing by his girlfriend on February 8th of last year. About a week later, the girlfriend comes into the station and says never mind. She says she found out that he moved out and was livin’ with some other wahine. They closed the file and DeSalvo was officially unmissing.”

 

McGarrett frowned, “Okaaay, so he’s missing for a week, and then he turns up. How does that make DeSalvo a suspect? And this report you just handed me—”

 

Kono smiled and completed the sentence, “Is the missing persons report filed by Mrs. Winnifred Russell on her daughter – Jennifer Russell –” Kono arched his eye brows, “The same Jennifer Russell who filed the MPR on Frank DeSalvo two weeks earlier!”

 

Dan recapped, “So, Jennifer Russell files an MPR on her boyfriend, and then comes back a week later and recants…”

 

Steve picked up the thread, “And AFTER she says it was a mistake, Jennifer Russell vanishes. That’s suspicious, but can we connect DeSalvo or Russell back to Bates?”

 

“Yes, I think so, “Dan replied, a tinge of excitement dusting his voice, as he struggled to clarify the memory.  “I did a title search on the Wailing Mary when I was trying to sort it all out for my supplemental report, and Bates purchased the boat from a—” The detective paused as he almost appeared to be reading an invisible document, and then looked up suddenly, “Francis DeSalvo!”

 

McGarrett snapped his fingers, “That’s it! Tap Bates is now Frank DeSalvo, and the one person who might’ve cared about the switch is mysteriously no longer around! Is it my imagination or are there an awful lot of missing people swirling around this case?”

 

Chin grunted agreement, and added, “To be honest, boss, I’m more worried about the future dead Mrs. Brock. They got the money, but they still tried to kill the Cox boy.”

 

“Yeah, Chin, as soon as we lose control of the money, Mrs. Brock’s life won’t be worth the price of a bullet,” his boss agreed. “I think the only way to get Marie Brock back safely is to carefully stomp each cockroach as it steps out from the shadows. That means that we grab the first one to touch the money, and then put the squeeze on that link to show us the next link.” McGarrett, satisfied, leaned back on the desk and folded his arms. Suddenly, he looked at Dan, who’d taken a seat near the desk, and asked, “Do you agree, Detective Williams?”

 

That query elicited a shy, but knowing grin from the detective, as he nodded, “I concur with your conclusion, Detective McGarrett.”

 

Steve had sent Kono and Chin home for a couple hours of rest before the team had to meet again. He had Dan remain in Brock’s suite because he had the sense that the old man would feel better if he knew the young faith giver was nearby. As for himself, McGarrett grabbed all the case papers, and retired to his “command post” next door. He needed to review the facts of the Cox case as the officers involved had recorded them.

 

McGarrett put his feet up on the sofa and carefully correlated the dry report of the kidnapping and subsequent rescue of little Matthew Cox with the dramatic verbal reenactment from his two officers. The words on the paper did not do the situation justice. The description of Dan’s dramatic jump from the helicopter – the struggle with the suspect – and subsequent dive into the water to save the sinking child was summed up in just two sentences:

 

Det. W effected rescue of vic by boarding suspect boat & subduing one male, Arthur Cox. Det W pulled Vic from water after fall from boat.

 

McGarrett shook his head. How about; ‘Det W affected rescue of vic by leaping ten feet from a helicopter? How about; vic and Det W plunged probably a hundred feet toward the abyss – and nearly to their deaths – before Det W was able to free the vic from the anchor that the UNIDENTIFIED suspect wrapped around the vic’s torso?

 

The report was technically complete, but McGarrett now understood why he had not paid a whole lot of attention to it. By the time he’d returned from his two-week active duty stint, the press fanfare over the kidnapping had died down, and all he had left to go by was the report – one of many – that had been dropped into what May called his “While-You-Were-Gone” box. This was where anything that did not require action on his part was dropped in his absence.

 

The detective was pleased to see a supplemental report submitted by Chin, which was CC’d to HPD’s Chief Dann and Chief of Detectives Pete Beauprez. The carefully typed, dated, and signed note praised Detective Danny Williams for what Detective Kelly described as: “acts of extreme bravery, which saved the life of little Matthew Cox.”

 

Another addendum of particular interest to Steve was the one filed by “Detective Dan Williams.” The brief, typed document merely presented that Dan had turned over all evidence pertaining to the case to Five-0 personnel, and that he concurred with Detective Kaimano’s conclusions. The paper, interestingly, was signed in Williams’ stead by his boss, Beauprez, with a short note that his subordinate had neglected to sign the report prior to a temporary re-assignment to Lihue on a case.

 

McGarrett bristled all over again at the situation with Beauprez. If Beauprez weren’t already in jail awaiting trial for, amongst other things, the attempted murder of Williams, he would certainly be in for some time on suspension for falsifying a report. What a threat a bright, young detective like Dan must have presented to a manipulative, conniving bad apple like Pete Beauprez. McGarrett wondered how many times that Dan had been exiled to another island to keep him from upsetting his boss’s pineapple cart.

 

McGarrett set the file down on the coffee table, closed his eyes, and chuckled, “Do you want my opinion or do you want me to agree with you?” THAT took guts

 

 

**********

 

With his arm wrapped tightly around the valuable laundry bag, Dan stood near the designated phones in the bustling International Marketplace, where tourists congregated to snack on local treats and purchase souvenirs of their island experience. He’d had the opportunity to take a short fitful nap in the Kamehameha guestroom, but didn’t feel like he’d gotten any sleep at all. His angry uncle joined him in his dream state again, making the hour of rest less-than-fruitful. Plus – he was fairly certain at this point that he was still feverish. He knew he was probably under surveillance by good and bad alike at that moment, and prayed that the whole thing would lead to the recovery of Marie Brock.

 

“Please, sir, excuse me,” a small, Oriental man tugged at Dan’s sleeve. The detective looked over the frail older man, who had two plumeria leis draped over his arm, and assessed any potential threat as the man continued, “You shirt please – take it off.”

 

“What?” Dan wasn’t certain he’d understood.

 

“Pat request that you remove you shirt,” the man looked apologetic. “And please to remove you shoes as well.”

 

Dan rolled his eyes as he unbuttoned his shirt and slipped his shoes from his feet. The activity attracted little attention as he removed his shirt, and held out it out dramatically. The little man bent over picked up the empty shoes and snatched the clothing from Dan’s hand. The man bowed slightly then draped the leis over the detective’s head, and made no attempt to leave. Dan had already decided that if the little guy tried to take off with his shoes, he was going to have to stop him.

 

The other Five-0 detectives watched from their respective vantage points, as McGarrett warned over the walkie-talkie, “Be alert! Whatever happens, it has to be a diversion for the payoff.”

 

“Now what?” Dan was annoyed as he stood there, lei’d and nude from the waist up in the crowded pavilion. As if on queue, one of the phones rang. Dan moved quickly and jumped around a tourist to answer the phone before anyone else did.

 

“Hello?” The detective inquired, but he could hear the laughter even before he put his ear to the receiver.

 

“Isn’t it your turn to spin the bottle, Pat?” Dan asked acidly.

 

“That’s a good one, Williams, but I’ve got a better game for ya – Simon says take your belt off!”

 

“My belt?”

 

“And hold it up in the air! DO IT!” The voice commanded.

 

Angrily, Dan unbuckled his belt, and then pulled it out of the loops in one smooth motion.

 

He held the belt unenthusiastically away from his body at shoulder level for a couple moments before “Pat” spoke again, “I wouldn’t call that high, but you get my point, don’t cha, boy? I’m watchin’ you so you’d better do just like I say.”

 

For a moment, Dan felt gripped with fear.

 

“You know how ta drive, don’t cha, boy?”  Bates had asked as he tossed a young Dan the keys to his pick up that horrible day. Dan inhaled deeply, and replaced the fear with anger again, “Can we get on with this?”

 

“It’s MY bottle!” The voice was suddenly vicious, and then continued, “Raise your hands all the way in the air, and don’t put ‘em down. If you screw this up for me, that old lady will die and it ain’t gonna be pretty! Drop the phone and do it NOW!”

 

A loud click in Dan’s ear signaled him that the conversation was over. The detective dropped the receiver and gingerly raised his hands into the air with the bag resting between his legs. The sutured incision on his abdomen was not visible above his waistband, but he could feel a throbbing pain from over-extending the unhealed muscles. A wave of dizziness passed over him. Focus…

 

Almost immediately, three young Hawaiian men, all probably teenagers, rapidly maneuvered toward Dan, and each dropped a Halekulani laundry bag at his feet, and then each picked up a different one, and ran in different directions. The detective, although startled, was virtually certain that none of the boys managed to grab his original bag.

 

McGarrett, witnessing the action from his vantage point deeper in the recesses of the market place, spoke into his walkie-talkie as he launched himself from behind a cart of carved Hawai’ian gods.

 

“GO! Kono – go for the guy heading out toward Kalakaua! Chin – take the one coming toward you!”

 

Dan looked desperately back to see his fellow officers racing after the three laundry-bagged runners. He waited only until Steve jumped and toppled the boy that ran in his direction before picking up “his” laundry bag and quickly untying the knot. Tugging to loosen the drawstring, he peered into the canvas and saw, with horror, that there were only stacks of bound newspapers. Somehow, one of the thugs had managed to switch bags! Dan was aghast, and he scanned the crowd for signs of the others. Immediately visible was Chin wrestling with runner number two. Dan started in that direction in a trot to help the Chinese detective subdue his suspect, but the found the pain of bouncing such that he almost felt like he might black out. He stopped and swayed for a moment, finally grabbing hold of the trunk of a palm tree. The detective clung to the tree for a few moments, trying to regain his equilibrium.

 

“Wait! He could see me!” Dan realized he was speaking out loud, as a middle-aged man in a blue aloha shirt and sunhat stopped to stare at him.

 

“Maybe if you crouch down…” the man offered, perplexed at the young man standing there in his socks, hugging the tree.

 

“Uh, yeah,” with that the detective gave an uncomfortable smile, and pushed away from the tree toward Kalakaua.

 

The only clear visibility of the phone booths from a “safe” distance – and where another phone would be available was… He panned the length of the street, and then his eyes settled on the bank of phones on the long verandah of the Moana Hotel across the street. There were a hundred windows facing “his” Marketplace phone booths, but if he wanted to keep an eye on somebody at these booths, that’s where he would go.

 

As he started to make his way across the street, Kono, breathing hard caught up with him, “Danny! He gave me the slip somewhere on Duke’s Lane!”

 

“Someone got the money,” Dan breathed as if he’d been running as well. The detective still clenched the duplicate bag in his fist, tense with nearly overwhelming frustration at loosing the bag in the crowd.

 

“Where we goin’?” Kono asked, not wanting to leave his colleague alone after his recent scolding for that offense.

 

“I think Bates was on the Moana lanai,” he said with determination.

 

Kono radioed in to let the other detectives know their status. McGarrett and Chin turned their prisoners over to HPD officers for safekeeping, and joined Dan and Kono as they reached the large columnar portico of the impressive front entrance of the Moana. As they stopped on the top step for a moment to regroup, McGarrett quickly assessed his officers. All were a little disheveled from the action, and Dan in particular, was a sight – no shirt, no shoes, but two lovely leis still intact around his neck. Dan was agitated and continued to search the faces of strangers as they passed by, hoping to catch a glimpse of something that would guide them in the right direction.

 

McGarrett grabbed the youngest detective’s shoulder, but before he could say anything, Dan jumped in, “Steve, they made the switch! I don’t have the money bag!”

 

“Damn!” McGarrett’s anger was not directed at Dan, but the epithet blasted from his boss’s mouth right into his face, “My guy was holding newspapers!”

 

“Mine too,” chimed in Chin.

 

“I let them take the money right out from under my nose!” Dan cursed himself. “I don’t understand…” He let the thought trail off. He’d been so certain that the original bag had not been grabbed. But standing there now, he knew he was wrong. He’d messed up, and might cost Marie Brock her life.

 

“So, it must have been with the one that got away,” McGarrett spoke through clenched teeth.

 

Suddenly, a trade wind picked up and swirled around the men. The scent of the leis on Dan’s neck resonated in his nostrils, but like an ice cube down a shirt, another smell invaded Dan’s senses – a sickly-sweet organic order. The detective instantly tensed up to a near panic as he spun to see who was near to him.

 

He grabbed his startled boss’s arm, and breathed, “He’s here! Bates – he’s—” Dan stopped in mid-sentence to observe a tall, bulky figure in khaki shorts and a gray and white aloha shirt sauntering down the steps upwind about ten feet from the group of detectives. Large rings of dampness circled the armpits of the man’s shirt. As the breeze picked up, the Panama hat was lifted from the figure’s head and hit the steps only a few feet from the detectives’ position.

 

Without taking his eyes off the man, Dan took a few steps, collected the hat, and proffered it toward the man. The detective noticed that each of the hairs on his head emanated from what appeared to be small X-shaped scars. Their eyes met momentarily before he looked away.

 

“Sir—” Dan said softly. Hesitating for a moment before accepting the lost article, the man, in his mid-fifties, glanced uncomfortably at Dan, and could see that the young officer was very interested in his face. The situation grew awkward momentarily before Dan stated with conviction, “I know you.”

 

Avoiding further eye contact with the detective, his eyes darted over to the other two men, and he gave a surly reply, “Well, I don’t know you.” He stepped away suddenly, nearly falling down the steps. He managed to recover without a mishap and began to make progress on down the steps.

 

The other detectives moved to collect their colleague, who was still watching the tall figure move down the stairway.

 

Kono started, “What was with that guy’s hair?” Dan took a step toward the rapidly retreating figure as everything clicked into place – the man’s height – his eyes – his movement – the smell.

 

“Simon says STOP and keep your hands where I can see them!” Dan almost shouted.

 

The pronouncement drew the attention of all within earshot. McGarrett noticed the man cringe before he broke into a run. Dan was the only detective who made no move to chase the suspect. The others, with McGarrett in the lead, burst into sprints. The team easily caught up with the lumbering man, and McGarrett grabbed him by the back of his shirt and yanked him back.

 

“Stop right now – Police Officer—” McGarrett shouted.

 

The man fell backward to the ground and screamed, “Easy, hey easy – I ain’t dun nuttin!”

 

The head of Five-0 ignored the words and rolled the man from his back onto his stomach. “Hands flat on the ground where I can see them!! NOW! NOW!” With his knee, he pushed the man flat onto his stomach.

 

The prone figure complied, complaining, “Hey, you’re hurting me. What are you? Some kinda nut?” 

 

The officer, who had unsnapped his holster but not drawn his weapon, quickly patted down the prone man. Steve could now clearly detect the odor which his detective had found so memorable. It was unpleasant and distinctive.

 

As he reached for his handcuffs, he glanced up and noticed that a city bus had come to a stop on the avenue, the driver fearing that the chase would take people into his path. A bus full of people was staring down at the spectacle. Kono helped McGarrett with the captured suspect, and Chin reached for his wallet and dropped it open to reveal his badge to the passengers and driver. “Police business!” He shouted, and then to the driver, “Move on!!” The driver quickly closed the door of the bus, and proceeded on down the road.

 

“Take him to my office, Gentlemen.” Steve commanded. The angry prisoner glared at the head of Five-0, but the stare was met with an even, steady gaze. “You can’t treat me like this. I’m a law-abiding citizen. Where do you get off –”

 

“Shut uuup,” Kono said threateningly, his face two inches from the complainant’s face. The man decided to hold his tongue for the time being as the two detectives guided him away.

 

Steve turned to see his half-clad detective still under the portico staring after the suspect as he was led off. McGarrett retraced his steps and stopped beside Dan, who met his gaze.

 

“Okay?” McGarrett inquired gently of his upset detective.

 

Dan nodded, “I only hope Mrs. Brock will be as okay.”

 

Steve squeezed Dan’s shoulder, and responded, “Let’s go have a chat with Mr. Bates.”

 

 

**********

 

“You look awful, Danny! And where are your shoes?”

 

May was aghast at the state of the newest Five-0 employee as her boss and the young man entered the Five-0 office space. Not only did he look exhausted, his features were gaunt, his skin did not have its usual, healthy surfer’s glow, and he appeared to be upset.

 

Dan removed his socks, now torn from his shoeless escapade, and tossed them into the trash can by May’s desk, as he responded to the secretary’s interrogation, “Some little Chinese guy is wearing them, I guess.” Somehow, in the fray, the old man had managed to slip away with the Halekulani shirt and Dan’s shoes.

 

Chin slipped out of McGarrett’s office long enough to relay to McGarrett that the two laundry bag runners they’d captured knew nothing except that they were each paid to accost the shirtless man as soon as he held his hands over his head. They were to drop their laundry bags at his feet and then pick up a different one. There was an extra ten dollars in it for the one that was able to grab the bag that had been at Dan’s feet. Then they were to do their best to evade capture, and drop the laundry bags into a box near a large trash container just off of Duke’s Lane. Neither had seen the man before, nor were they certain they could identify him, but both were willing to try in order to get themselves extricated from a situation that seemed far more serious than they understood originally.

 

McGarrett studied Dan for a moment, and decided that he agreed with May’s assessment – he did look rung out – but somehow Steve knew that his new man was undaunted in his goal.

 

Dan was tired, insides throbbing with pain, dizzy, too hot one minute, too cold the next, but fixated on putting Bates behind bars and safely returning Mrs. Brock to her worried husband.

 

The man could be heard complaining loudly well before they entered the office. Just before he opened his office door, Steve said over his shoulder to the young man behind him, “Hang tough, Danno.”

 

Dan understood, “Right.” He closed the door behind him.

 

Chin was standing with his arms folded across his chest about ten feet in front of the seated suspect. With grim amusement, Steve noted that Kono had not seated him in one of Steve’s cushioned guest chairs. Rather, he had stuck him on an old wooden desk chair that had made its way into the chief’s office the previous week to support an extra chalkboard that Steve had requested. Kono had turned one of the guest chairs to face the man, and was seated with his elbows resting on his knees, and his hands folded. If Dan saw any humor in the situation, he gave no indication of it. He leaned against Steve’s desk, and put his hands in his pockets, his eyes trained on the man.

 

“Well, Mr. Bates, is it?” McGarrett’s tone was now cold and ominous. The suspect eyed the imposing figure standing over him, and snapped, “That’s not my name! My name’s Frank – Frank DeSalvo. Your thug here has my ID. And I don’t know what kind of mad house you’re running here, but you can’t jump innocent citizens on the street and drag them into your layer for interrogation.”

 

“Ahh, but we CAN drag in individuals who are wanted for questioning on kidnapping cases!!” The man paused glancing at McGarrett, and then his eyes rested on Williams, who was staring at him intently with a cool gaze. He shifted nervously on the chair. “Look at my driver’s license! I don’t know any Arthur Bates.”

 

McGarrett smiled, “Did I say I was looking for an Arthur Bates?”

 

Bates caught his breath, but didn’t shift his gaze from Dan. He finally cracked under the watching eyes. “What are you lookin’ at?”

 

A pillar of icy, self-control, Dan moved from his perch on the desk and circled around closer to Bates. Almost whispering, he stood behind the unnerved man and said, “You may not remember me, but I remember you. I remember your eyes…… that shiny head that you’ve had sodded…… that wheezy clicking noise you make….. that sickly, sweet odor that leaks from you……” None of the other officers moved as Dan painted the unsavory image that he carried in his head. Dan was not finished. “I remember your sweaty hands, and your—” He stopped abruptly and glanced around at the other detectives. He noticed that the room was suddenly unbearably hot, and that beads of sweat were resting on his forehead and upper lip. He turned back to Bates, who suddenly craned his neck to study his accuser’s face.

 

Williams circled back around the chair and leaned back on the desk again before asking Bates, “Where is Marie Brock?” 

 

“Who? How should I know?” Bates inquired politely.

 

Seeing the game was still afoot, McGarrett turned to face Dan, who looked up at him neutrally. McGarrett had to admit that he was surprised – and impressed -- at his young detective’s self-control.

 

With the slightest flick of his head, Dan knew that McGarrett was signaling him to take a seat. The detective paused just long enough to make a disgusted face at Bates, who was sweating profusely, and then he moved around the desk and sat down in Steve’s big chair. Noticing that the file on Bates was there and open, he picked it up and began to peruse the pages.

 

Now McGarrett turned his attention to their prisoner.  “You ARE Arthur Ronald Bates, AKA Tap Bates – and unless you’ve had your fingerprints changed, we’re gonna positively ID you within the hour. Let me tell you what we know – what we can take to the bank right now! We know that you were one of the participants in the kidnapping of the Cox boy. We know that both of your partners in crime, Wayne Simpson and Frank DeSalvo, are dead. We know that Frank’s girlfriend, Jennifer Russell, is dead. We know that you are involved in the kidnapping of Marie Brock. We know that Ray Kurcher is dead.” McGarrett’s voice slowly became more angry and vicious, “We KNOW that you are up to your seedy eyeballs in dead bodies! Now where is Marie Brock?”

 

Bates seemed to be considering his options for a few moments before he looked up at McGarrett and cocked his head.  “What’s in it for me if I did HAPPEN to know something about the old lady’s whereabouts?”

 

McGarrett snapped, “The best you can hope to negotiate is a little extra time in the exercise yard, or maybe a cell with a view.”

 

Bates sneered defiantly, “Life sentences – after the first one, it doesn’t much matter, now does it, McGarrett?” The man’s smugness was irritating, but there was truth in what he said.

 

“It was here all the time,” Dan spoke softly again, still looking down at a page in the file.” His gaze moved slowly up to meet the eyes of the accused man. He stood to say the words, “You murdered Lolo – Timothy Bates was Lolo – You murdered your son.” The mere mention of the name made Bates recoil slightly. He squinted at his accuser, grinding his teeth.

 

“Lolo was a freak of nature! He’s lucky he lived as long as he did!” exploded Bates, the anger welling up in his eyes.

 

McGarrett moved around his desk to take a glance at the page that offered Dan his epiphany. Arthur Bates had been married briefly, but his very young wife died in childbirth. The child, Timothy Bates, who was born mentally retarded with mild deformations noted, was left in the custody of his father. With some perverse satisfaction, McGarrett noted that they’d found a sore spot with this creep, and sadly, it was not that he’d murdered his son – it was the fact that his son was born deformed and mentally retarded.

 

Then his eyes grew large as a wave of recognition washed over the man’s face, “You’re that – that kid that hung around with Lolo!” Bates let out a deep guttural laugh. “Oh, God, talk about a small world! Why, when was the last time I saw you? You musta been, what, sweet 16?”

 

Dan was holding the back of the tall desk chair that he’d just vacated staring towards the seated figure without really seeing him. About fed up with the seamy undercurrent in this man’s words, Kono stood up and moved closer to Bates, his large hands balled up into fists.

 

Steve placed his hand on Dan’s still-bare shoulder. 

 

Before he could silence him, Bates pressed on, “Why are you so sure Lolo did you a favor, boy?”

 

“Shut up! That’s enough!” McGarrett shouted.

 

Dan had not acknowledged Steve’s touch, and the absent, unfocused look on the young man’s face was enough for Steve to physically pull Dan out of his office. A river of heat rushing through his body, the officer offered no resistance. To Kono and Chin, who had both moved toward Dan when they noticed his unresponsiveness, Steve called, “I’ll be right back.”

 

“May, get me some water!” Steve snapped, as he guided Danno to the chair in his own office. “Danno!” Steve was squatting in front of the chair where Dan sat looking down towards his face, but not quite focusing. The head of Five-0 touched Dan’s forearm, and observed, “You are hot!” 

 

The emphatic remark by his boss made Dan react glumly, “I’m sorry, I didn’t feel so good for a minute.” Williams, fight back, focus. Independence!  “I’m okay now,” Dan tried to reassure his boss.

 

May rushed in with the water, and looked concerned. She could see that the young man’s face was pale and damp, and the ringlets in his sandy hair were moist as well.

 

The ill detective continued his efforts to back-pedal on his earlier admission of illness, “Really, Steve, I just need a couple of aspirin.”

 

Momentarily sated, but not convinced, McGarrett replied skeptically as Dan took a sip of the water, “Yeah, I see – you’re fine.”

 

Dan changed the subject, “Steve, we’re not gonna get anywhere with Bates. We’ve got nothing to trade to get Mrs. Brock back.”

 

Steve’s attention snapped back to the scum in his office. He could feel the rage bubbling inside him as he responded, “Yeah, Danno, you’re right. We need to think of something else.” He stood and continued, “Just stay here and cool off for a few minutes while I go wrap it up with that scum ball.” He started to leave Dan, but instead turned and said, “Oh, and when I return, I expect one of those flashes of investigative brilliance that occasionally pop into your head.”

 

Dan bit his lower lip at the tremendous backhanded compliment, and nodded.

 

As Steve opened the door to his office, he knew he would do anything he could to protect his new officer, but he wondered, how do I protect him from a ghost in his past? He put on his mask, and stepped back into his office. Kono and Chin both exchanged looks with Steve, who could see their concern on their faces. Steve gave them both a nod of reassurance.

 

Then Kono said sarcastically, “Steve, I think this guy needs a little air. Let me take him out onto the lanai…”

 

The boss gave a grim smile, and replied, “Maybe next time, Kono.”

 

Not fully recognizing that he was releasing a genie from its bottle, Bates inquired, “Did I rattle your boy?”

 

Suddenly, Steve lunged towards Bates, grabbing his shoulders, “Listen to me and listen to me good, you slimy lowlife! You are going down, and my associates and I will be there for your farewell party. Five years from now, ten years from now, you’ll still be rotting in some jail cell, and for all of us on the outside, you will be nothing more than a vague, fetid memory!”

 

While Kono and Chin moved a little closer, just in case they needed to pry their boss’s hands from Bates’ neck, they didn’t make any rash moves to assist the suspect. McGarrett recognized when he’d had enough, and he knew there was no time to waste in coming up with a new plan of attack. Besides, this man’s odor was unbearable. 

 

“Get him to the lock-up!” McGarrett commanded. His two detectives literally snatched Bates from his chair.

 

Passing Dan, Bates shouted over his shoulder, “You just signed that old lady’s death warrant, cop!”

 

McGarrett moved to stand in his doorway, and was surprised to see Dan sitting on May’s desk with her bottle of aspirin in his hand.

 

He looked coolly at Bates, and replied, “I don’t think so, Bates.”

 

Their eyes locked for a moment, and Dan half-smiled as Bates returned the expression with a hateful glare. Chin escorted the prisoner as far as the door, and then left Kono to finish the job.

 

Already out of sight, they heard Bates’ threat, “I’m gonna get you, cop! Just wait! I’ll find a—YAHH!” The sound that came from Bates reminded McGarrett of a chicken who’d just been grabbed by the neck.

 

Chin rejoined the others just in time to hear McGarrett snap to Dan, “Okay, let’s have it!”

 

“I got to thinking about the laundry bag,” Dan started as he gingerly resituated himself in May’s desk chair. “After we put the money into the bag, I tied a knot in the drawstring. It was a simple sailor’s bowline knot. Then I rolled it up into a ball and set it under the desk in Brock’s suite until I left.” Dan’s voice was distant and his words had a leisurely meter as if he were mulling over a move in a chess game. “Now the decoy laundry bags were all tied with the same bowline knot. So I’m thinking, how did Bates know that the bags were gonna be tied with that knot?”

 

McGarrett exclaimed, “That’s right, Danno! Kurcher was already dead. So somebody else had to have seen the knot in advance.” Now snapping his fingers furiously, McGarrett paced down the aisle a few steps, and then spun to face Dan, “Who saw the bag before you rolled it up?”

 

Dan considered for a moment and replied, “Brock…Me…Akama…nobody else.”

 

“That’s it?” McGarrett, now focused on the thread of logic, did not wait for a response before continuing, “Akama fits! Kurcher AND Akama were in on it! The laundry bags had to be identical enough to confuse you during the switch.”

 

“Right, Steve, except what if –”

 

Oh, here we go, thought McGarrett as his young detective continued.

 

“What if the switch happened at the hotel?”

 

The head of Five-0 already knew where the detective was going, and his mind raced ahead to the conclusion even before Dan completed the thought, “That was the other thing that was bothering me. It REALLY didn’t seem like the bag had been switched – so I was surprised to see that the money was not in my bag.”

 

“Yes! Yes!” McGarrett exclaimed. “Akama had the perfect window of opportunity to swap the bags after the last call from Bates! You walked out of the hotel with a decoy bag!  They had to make us think there was a switch at the Marketplace so that no suspicion would fall on anyone at the hotel besides Kurcher!”

 

Steve’s mind now raced through the probable sequence of events. Akama was the perfect accomplice. He was in a position to have inside information about the investigation, and he could bear witness to Mrs. Brock’s extensive medicinal “requirements.”

 

Another idea sparked in Steve’s head, “Wait a minute – wait a minute!” The boss began his pacing and finger-snapping exercise for almost half a minute before he turned excitedly and exclaimed, “Akama’s involvement may also explain why nobody noticed Mrs. Brock’s removal from the well-trafficked hotel garage. The lei on the steps was a pretty darned convenient clue.” He paused as he pondered again, eyes narrowing, “Too convenient.”

 

Chin spoke up, “You think they wanted us to believe that’s how they took her. But if they didn’t take her out that way, then how?”

 

McGarrett announced, “They DIDN’T! The safest thing for Akama to do was to stuff her in a room with a do-not-disturb sign, and wait for the hubbub to die down before…”

 

His words trailed off, and Dan finished the thought, “Before he gets rid of her body.”

 

McGarrett snapped a look in Dan’s direction and replied, “He’s not gonna have a body to lose! Chin! Come with me! Danno—” he paused for only a second. “You stay here! I think you’ve had enough on this one.” Before Dan could object, his boss and the Oriental detective were trotting out the door. McGarrett called over his shoulder, “May, have Kono get over to the Halekulani wikiwiki!”

 

Nonplused at what he took to be punishment, Dan slowly rose from May’s chair.

 

May placed her hand on the detective’s back as she slipped around him to get to her phone and gently goaded, “Honey, I think you need a doctor. You are burning up!”

 

“I’ll take care of it,” he responded vacantly as he leaned on the wall by his office. “Not to worry…”

 

He’d done all he could -- would be allowed – to do for Mrs. Brock. Whether it was enough he would know soon. The rational part of his brain, as it slipped away, told him that Steve had been right to leave him behind. He could hear the secretary’s voice off in the distance as she spoke to the HPD dispatcher.

 

Wild thoughts and images churned through his mind. He was intensely cold for a few moments, and then the heat caught up with him again. Danny Boy…  The voice startled him and he looked to the end of pathway. Near the door that led to the palace’s grand staircase, his uncle stood, in his police sergeant’s uniform, dripping wet. He let out a frightened cry, knowing that what he saw could not be real. He looked back at May, but her attention was invested in the phone call.

 

How could you do it? Didn’t I always do right by you? Didn’t I sacrifice enough?

 

The indictment filled Dan with regret.

 

“You’re dead…You can’t be here...” Dan blinked as he spoke to the figure.

 

May glanced up, and saw that Dan was moving toward the door. She covered the phone’s mouthpiece, and whispered loudly, “Danny! Where are you going?” He continued moving toward the door, so she increased her volume, “Danny!”

 

He leaned on the door before he opened it, and replied, “One akua down, one to go…”

 

“What?” Just then, her ear pressed to the phone was filled with the dispatcher’s voice, “Kalakaua – you’re patched through to Five-0.”  One of May’s other lines rang, and she knocked her coffee cup on the floor. She quickly answered the outside line and put that call on hold, and then relayed McGarrett’s message to Kono. Knowing the spill could wait, she scurried to the door through which the ill detective had just departed to get him back into the office. Steve would be furious with him for not following instructions! She rushed to the top of the staircase, but he was nowhere to be seen. The restroom! She ran headlong around the corner to the door of the nearest men’s room. No Danny! Realizing that she’d left the Five-0 offices unattended, she reluctantly gave up her search for the errant detective, groaning. “Steve is going to be very unhappy.”

 

 

**********

 

McGarrett’s LTD partially blocked the circular drive of the Halekulani as the vehicle’s occupants jumped from the car and rushed into the front desk. John Akama had just handed a new guest their key, and pointed toward the elevators. McGarrett and Chin stood there for a moment and waited for the man to notice their presence. It didn’t take but a few seconds before he glanced up, and did a double take to fix on the two detectives. Their posture indicated to the paranoid man that something had gone very wrong with the plan. He made a weak attempt to feign innocence, just in case his mind was playing tricks on him, but it became apparent as the two detectives, who began to move toward him, both unsnapped their gun holsters in concert.

 

“Where is she, Akama?” McGarrett demanded in a harsh clip. The man looked confused for a second, but suddenly bared his teeth as he pulled up a small caliber revolver from his belt. McGarrett’s tone was ominous, “If you fire that weapon, there’ll be no way out for you.” As McGarrett spoke, Chin maneuvered sideways about ten feet.

 

The suspect, his pitch raising as his panic increased, screamed, “Don’t move – I just want out of here” He aimed the gun wildly back and forth between the two detectives, as hotel guests and employees alike screamed and headed for safety.

 

Suddenly, Akama fired, first at McGarrett and then at Chin and barely a moment later both detectives opened fire on the suspect, his danger to them and the general public confirmed. None of his bullets hit any humans, but a four-foot-wide, tropical wall sconce on the pillar behind Chin’s position was struck and came crashing down on top of the Chinese detective. McGarrett dove toward the front desk as Akama had disappeared from view. He carefully moved around the desk and peeked around the corner to find the man lying in a rapidly spreading pool of blood. He rushed to the man, but could see before he touched him that he was no longer among the living. Cursing, he stood upright and raced to his fallen colleague. Two of the bellboys helped the head of Five-0 lift the object d’art up.

 

“Chin! Bruddah, talk to me! Are you okay?” The question elicited a groan, and then a pain-filled answer, “I’m not with my ancestors – yet – ahhh, my wrist. I think it’s broken.”

 

Relieved, McGarrett replied, “Thank God! I though it might be your neck.”

 

Kono came trotting up and, before he made it all the way there, McGarrett told him to call an ambulance, and take care of Akama.

 

“Who’s in charge here?” McGarrett asked loudly of the four hotel personnel who’d been brave enough to come out of the woodwork after the excitement.

 

An older woman stepped forward and identified herself as the assistant manager. After making sure that someone would stay with his injured detective, McGarrett pulled her aside and asked if there were any rooms in the hotel that Akama had blocked off from guests. She didn’t think so, but said she would check. While she did that, McGarrett perused the concierge’s current guest list. It didn’t take more than ten seconds for the head of Five-0 to almost shout, “Frank DeSalvo!” Two rooms on the tenth floor were occupied by DeSalvo! Obtaining the keys, he sprinted off.

 

There were “DO-NOT-DISTURB” signs on both doors, which would have prevented maid service, McGarrett noted as he turned the key in the first door. He was rewarded almost instantly. An older woman in an orange muu muu was bound and gagged, either sleeping or unconscious on the bed. He rushed in headlong, and removed the gag from her mouth.

 

Relief flooded him as she moaned, “Thomas. Please let me see Thomas.” 

 

McGarrett gently reassured her that she would be reunited with her husband shortly, and picked up the phone to call for an ambulance. As he gently pulled the tape from her ankles and wrists, he marveled at the successful outcomes and the mysteries solved during the past sixteen hours. Exhaustion was suddenly weighing heavily on him, but it was not yet time for the head of Hawai’i Five-0 to sleep.

 

 

**********

 

Kono arrived at the hospital to check in on Chin, and let his boss know that Akama’s body had been picked up by the ME’s office, but there would be no paperwork until tomorrow because Doc Bergman was here.

 

Now satisfied that Chin was not seriously injured, McGarrett’s thoughts turned back to the sick detective he left in the office, “Kono, you all did a great job today. You can punch out for the night.”

 

“Thanks, boss,” Kono nodded as the pair headed down the corridor past the nurse’s station. “How ‘bout you?”

 

“I’m going back to collect Danno,” Steve responded. “I’m not clear yet on what ails him unless he caught malaria over the weekend.”

 

Kono grunted an acknowledgment and frowned, “Yeah, I guess whatever he had last week musta caught up with him.”

 

McGarrett looked at his detective out of the corner of his eyes, not eager to reveal his lack of attentiveness to the condition of his staff members. He quickly waded through what recollections he could bring forth about his new detective in the past week. Dan had put in at least twelve hours each day, some of the time out in the field, but most of the time was spent assisting his boss with his administrative workload. McGarrett could honestly not recall any signs that Dan had been under the weather – EXCEPT for his Friday date cancellation.

 

Kono continued, unaware of his boss’s deliberations, “I thought maybe that whole thing with his pop was buggin’ him again, but that wouldn’t cause no fever.”

 

With that remark, McGarrett blew out a breath in exasperation, and stopped walking to face the ample Hawaiian, “His uncle’s been dead for years. What could possibly be bugging him now?”

 

Kono regretted mentioning it, but now it was too late, and he sensed that he’d just handed his tenacious, bulldog boss the corner of a piece of information about which he would insist on having the entire story. As he considered the path of least resistance, the acquiescent detective replied, “Well, I’m not really sure exactly. Do you remember last week when the fan belt broke on Danny’s car, and Chin and I went to pick him up on our way back from Koko Head?”

 

“Yes, yes,” McGarrett responded impatiently. 

 

“Well, his car was parked at Pi’ikoi, right there by Makiki Cemetery – you know – where his pop’s buried. Anyway, when we got there, he was standin’ over on the Wilder Street side on the sidewalk just outside the cemetery. To be honest, Steve, it looked like he was locked out.”

 

“There’s no fence around Makiki!” McGarrett exclaimed.

 

Kono shrugged, “I know – I’m just sayin’ that’s what it looked like. He stood there lookin’ in like he wished he could get a better view of whatever he was tryin’ to see. When we pulled up, I asked him what he was doin’, and he didn’t really wanna talk about it. But by the time we got back to the office, he was jokin’ around – said he was afraid of ghosts.” Kono, anxious to wrap up the story, spoke faster, “And that’s it – that’s all that happened.” Steve frowned and slowed to a snail’s pace as he pondered the possible significance of the perplexing incident, but his concentration was interrupted. 

 

“Mr. McGarrett!” The head of Five-0 turned to see a doctor, an older man, walking briskly to catch up with him. Before the doctor came to a stop, he began speaking, “Dr. Hansen.”

 

The physician introduced himself and extended his hand to McGarrett, who reciprocated and replied, “Doctor.” The name rang a bell, but the head of Five-0 couldn’t quite place it.

 

“How’s your man?” The physician inquired. The detective nodded and, with a slight hint of a smile, responded, “He’s going to be fine. They’re going to let his wife take him home this evening.”

 

“His wife?”

 

The head of Five-0 was in a hurry to get back to the office and check up on Dan, and this doctor’s odd, confused manner made McGarrett all the more impatient to get out of there as he sighed and answered, “Yes. Detective Kelly’s wife will be collecting him after he’s had his arm x-rayed. Now, if you’ll excuse me—”

 

“Mr. McGarrett, I’m not talking about Detective Kelly. I was asking about Dan Williams.”

 

Now it was Steve’s turn to be confused. He shook his head slightly and responded, “Dan Williams? What are you talking about?”

 

“Detective Williams was admitted to the hospital through the emergency room last Friday evening. I operated on him for a burst appendix late that night.”

 

Tightness began to well up in McGarrett’s chest as he heard the doctor’s tale.

 

“If he’d come in just a few minutes later, I’m not sure he’d be alive. He left early yesterday morning. The staff folks thought they had convinced him that he needed to be in the hospital while the peritonitis worked its way out of his system.”

 

A stunned McGarrett asked, “Why didn’t somebody call me?” Even as he said the words, the memory of the message from Hansen jumped to the forefront of his thoughts.

 

The physician shook his head, “As I understand it, he has no next-of-kin here, and he seemed… well… very concerned that you were too busy to be bothered. I didn’t learn that he’d – for lack of a better word – escaped until this morning. At that point, I did attempt to contact you. As a matter of fact, I thought you were probably here because his fever spiked…” Hansen’s voice trailed off.

 

Why didn’t he tell me? Why didn’t he make me listen? We spent 60 hours together last week. Why didn’t I notice there was something wrong? Alternating between anger and fear, Steve tried to push the speculation to the back of his mind as he spoke a thought out loud, “That explains a lot.” He blinked at Kono, who stood there nonplused as well.

 

“How’s he doing then?” The physician asked tentatively.

 

“He’s sick!” McGarrett answered tersely, and then interrogated, “Exactly, how sick might he be from this - this peritonitis?”

 

As if on queue, Doc Bergman trudged around the corner, his stethoscope still draped around his neck, and approached the two men.

 

“Danno had an emergency appendectomy here on Friday night!” The statement was still shocking to McGarrett as he said it.

 

“Why didn’t someone call me?” Bergman’s scratchy voice revealed annoyance when McGarrett outlined the story of Dan’s brief hospital stay over the weekend. “I’m his physician of record, for God’s sake.”

 

He shot an angry glance at Hansen, who responded that he was only doing his best to balance the patient’s wishes with his best interests.

 

“If it makes you feel any better, I just found out,” McGarrett added guilt over his inattentive behavior over the past week beginning to sink in. He put his hand to his forehead for a few seconds, “He’s been on duty since midnight.” He didn’t mention the additional very stressful circumstances under which his officer had been suffering as well.

 

“What the Hell is he doing out of the hospital? If he had a burst appendix, they should have him on IV antibiotics—Wait!” Bergman held up in hand and looked down in mock concentration. “Let me guess! In true Five-0 tradition, he signed himself out AMA! I’m right, aren’t I?” His head snapped back up to observe the head of Five-0 sigh and rub the back of his neck. 

 

“Yeah, Doc, you’re right. He seemed fine, and then he didn’t seem so fine, and then he seemed fine again, and now…” McGarrett didn’t finish the sentence.

 

Hansen looked at the Bergman, and made the diagnosis, “Sudden onset peritonitis.”

 

Bergman nodded slightly, but he wasn’t finished venting his frustrations.  “I KNEW he’d be following in your footsteps! Doctors and Five-0 cops! I swear to God! Do you guys sign some document that says you’ll be difficult patients when you come on board?” Bergman muttered something else under his breath.

 

Steve couldn’t quite make it out. McGarrett felt himself becoming defensive, but ignored the cutting truths the doctor was spitting at him. There were more important things on his mind right now.

 

“Let’s get back to my question. Exactly how sick might this make him?”

 

Hansen spoke with more urgency, “Mr. McGarrett, we need to get him back in here immediately for treatment.” He attempted to explain the problem in an academic manner, “Sudden onset peritonitis usually begins with a few cautionary spikes in fever. This is a symptom that the body is fighting invaders. As bacteria are found, the battle begins, and the fever goes up. If the fever is lowered through external measures – such as aspirin or a cold shower – the body will temporarily re-regulate itself to a lower, less-dangerous temperature.

 

“Less dangerous? Less dangerous?” McGarrett spoke quickly, uneasiness building.

 

“Delirium – brain damage – death, Steve!” Bergman, impatient with his colleague’s more cautious, diplomatic demeanor, jumped in emphatically. “That IS what will happen if the cause of the peritonitis is not managed – which it OBVIOUSLY IS NOT in this case.”

 

The physician hated to sound accusing, because he suspected that it truly hurt the head of Five-0 to hear the frightening prognosis for untreated peritonitis, but he himself was very concerned that Five-0’s newest officer was in danger of succumbing to his sickness.

 

“Aspirin…oh my God,” McGarrett said through clenched jaws, remembering that he’d seen Dan at least twice that day gulping the tablets. “I left him at the office.” Without waiting for any further terrifying revelations from the medical men, Steve took a few steps to the nearby nurses’ station, picked up the phone, and dialed his office. May answered on the first ring and sounded relieved that it was her boss.

 

“Steve, I tried to catch him, but then I noticed he’d left his keys here. His car is still here. I don’t think he could’ve gone too terribly far. I think he’s very sick. I’m sorry –” May started.

 

Her boss spoke over her, “It’s not your fault, honey – it’s mine. I’ll find him.” He remembered before he hung up, “Oh, did he say ANYTHING that might give me a clue about where he was headed?”

 

She answered slowly, as if she wasn’t certain the answer was good enough, “Well, he did say something about an akua, if that makes any sense.”

 

“Akua!” McGarrett snapped at his Hawai’ian detective.

 

Knowing the drill, Kono responded, “Akua – spirit – ghost – could be a dead body.

 

“A dead body…” the medical examiner repeated slowly.

 

A picture began to crystallize for the two Five-0 detectives, and McGarrett said slowly, “Noooo.” His eyes met Kono’s and, in unison, the said, “A ghost!”

 

“You’re coming with me, Doc!” McGarrett almost shouted to Bergman. The tone of the forceful man left no choice for the physician, so he answered, “Let me grab my bag!”

 

 

**********

 

The sun was still above the horizon, the breeze carried a mixture of brine and tropical flowers as McGarrett’s LTD pulled onto Waverly Street and screeched to a halt by the old cemetery. The anxious lead detective was out of the car before it stopped rocking, with the two passengers following closely. He trotted onto the grounds and stopped. His eyes scanned across the various tombstones that made the texture of the view diverse and interesting.

 

“Danno!” He shouted. “Danno!” He turned to see that Bergman and Kono had fanned out into the cemetery at a forty-five-degree angle from him.

 

“Kono, do you know where his uncle is buried?”

 

Shaking his head, the Hawaiian replied, “No – I never been here before.”

 

McGarrett stopped moving for a moment and listened. He could hear the sounds of the nearby highway and the sound of the trees rustling in the breeze.

 

“STEVE!”

 

The scream made McGarrett’s heart try to leap out of his chest. No doubt, the other two men had the same reaction as they all turned to look back in the direction of the car they’d left behind. The site momentarily paralyzed the men. Supported by the hood of the LTD, a bedraggled Dan was reaching out one hand towards his boss. The leis were gone, but he still wore no shirt or shoes.

 

Glistening with sweat, the young man cried out a little weaker, “Steve! Get out of there!” Dan pushed away from the car and staggered toward McGarrett, who was mobilized by the sight of his detective.

 

“Danno!” McGarrett shouted as he sprinted toward the man.

 

As Dan’s legs gave out, he made only a token attempt to catch himself on some invisible object to his side before he fell forward. With an extra burst of speed, Steve managed to leap forward and catch the detective in his arms, both men gently sinking to the ground.

 

“My God!” The words slipped out under his breath as he touched Dan’s moist face. He looked up quickly to see Bergman and Kono drawing near. “He’s burning up!” The doctor squatted and pressed two fingers onto Dan’s neck to check his carotid pulse.

 

Eyes rolling back in his head, Dan moaned softly, ““I’m sorry…I’m sorry…”

 

The doctor did not take his eyes from his patient as he said quickly, “Danny! It’s Doctor Bergman. We’re gonna take you to the hospital now.” For a brief moment, there seemed to be a measure of clarity in Dan’s eyes.

 

“Hmmmm... no, no…on call tonight… and Steve needs…” His eyes closed.

 

Bergman took a sideways glance at the man kneeling next to him, and, almost whispering, asked, “What kind of sweat shop are you running over there?”

 

McGarrett ignored the snide remark, and nodded at Kono, who moved in and plucked his friend, easily a hundred pounds lighter, from his boss’s arms and the trio trotted back to the LTD-cum-ambulance.

 

 

**********

 

It was just before midnight as McGarrett watched the rhythmic drip of the IV bottle while he sat in the chair as close to his detective’s bed as possible. This allowed him to put his feet on the lower rung of the bed’s railing.

 

Dan’s hands had been gently, but firmly secured to the metal rails with wrapping gauze to prevent the delirious patient from attempting to get out of bed or trying to remove IV line, which was inserted directly into his neck, in what Bergman called a central line. Lifesaving antibiotics were coursing through the young man’s veins now, and McGarrett could only pray that they’d made it in time.

 

Hansen had attempted to tell McGarrett that he couldn’t remain overnight with his detective, but Bergman told him to give it up. Remembering the fondness which McGarrett had revealed for Dan while Bergman sutured his leg wound after the bomb blast nearly eight weeks ago, he suspected there was nothing short of his own incapacitation that would prevent the head of Five-0 from staying near Williams that night.

 

Between fitful dreams and tossing, Dan would speak, sometimes to Steve, sometimes to someone only the patient could see. One incoherent conversation would be angry, and then as suddenly as the anger rose, it vanished and was replaced by poignant sadness.

 

Delirium had to be one of the most disconcerting conditions McGarrett had ever seen. To lose control of what comes out of one’s mouth was an uncomfortable thought at best for a man that valued self-control so highly.  But here he was, determined to stick it out with this man, with whom he already felt a kinship, a man whose past tragedies left him stronger and more able to cope in many ways. Yet, McGarrett could see that some of his friend’s insecurities also had their roots in the events of his past.

 

During the moments of silence, McGarrett replayed the events of Friday evening in his mind. His hindsight was perfect. He could see it all so clearly – his detective’s tentative attempts to tell him how he was feeling. Of course, Dan would assume he was too busy to be bothered.

 

I couldn’t break away from the phone long enough for him to collapse, Steve thought bitterly.

 

And then, there was the incident in the Kamehameha Suite. Steve sarcastically suggested that whatever little problem Dan wanted to discuss couldn’t possibly be important enough for him to take a moment and listen. He wasn’t sure that Danno would forgive him – he only prayed that Danno would live long enough to not forgive him.

 

Finally, the patient seemed to be settling down, his body physically spent. His outbursts were softer, his movements weaker. To McGarrett, he almost seemed conscious occasionally, although Bergman assured him that this was not likely.

 

“I don’t think I’d be missed…” These were the first words out of the patient’s mouth after fifteen minutes of silence.

 

Steve had almost dozed off, but the words brought him back to alertness.  “What kind of crazy talk is that?” McGarrett couldn’t help but speak up.

 

“Steve?”

 

“I’m here, Danno,” McGarrett said, and hesitated for only a moment before continuing in a little softer tone. “I’m here with you.”

 

The words did seem to have a quieting effect on the patient, whose eyes opened and his breathing slowed. There was no clarity of thought in the blue eyes that seemed to look through McGarrett, but there did seem to be an attempt to understand.

 

“Steve?”

 

The mere fact of recognition pleased the man who’d been sitting at Dan’s bedside for the past two hours, listening to wild tales about things that might have happened and things that could not have happened.

 

“Are you here, Steve?”

 

“I’m here, Danno,” the voice repeated patiently.

 

“Why are we here?”

 

“Your burst appendix has made you very sick, my friend.”

 

“Again?”

 

“No – still.”

 

“Are you going to leave me here?”

 

Steve thought he caught a tinge of anxiety in the voice, and he responded quickly. “No, I will not leave until you want me to leave.”  McGarrett hesitated before he asked, “Do you want me to leave?”

 

“Please don’t leave me… He’ll come back if you leave.”

 

“Who’ll come back?” Steve asked.

 

“You won’t leave?”

 

“Danno, I will NOT leave you,” McGarrett’s tone became as emphatic. He continued, “I’m your friend, and I’m going to stay here to be sure that you’re all right.”

 

“I’m your friend too, Steve. You know that, right?” Dan’s tired, blue eyes seemed to study McGarrett expectantly. 

 

“Yes, Danno, I think I knew that.”

 

“You’re like a super hero, you know?”

 

”I’m not perfect.” Steve could feel himself choking up a little at the pedestal upon which Dan had apparently placed him.

 

“I know that. No super hero is perfect. You should read the comics,” Dan chided softly. “Super heroes don’t have to be perfect – they only have to do their best – to use their special gift – all super heroes have a special gift…”

 

“Special gift? What’s my gift?” Steve was now truly enjoying the intimate repartee despite, or possibly because, of the slim probability that Dan would have any memory of the conversation.

 

“You only have to use your special gift to serve justice.” Dan wasn’t done explaining the rules of “super-hero-dom.”

 

“You didn’t answer my question. What’s my gift?”

 

“Your will – you’re haole hao.”

 

McGarrett felt his eyes begin to burn. He’d heard the nickname, “Man of iron -- or force,” applied to himself before, but it did not seem so flattering as it did at this moment.

 

He did not believe this was delirium speaking. The fever had merely lowered his defenses, OR… perhaps Dan’s defenses had never been up. Perhaps, right now in these gentle moments with his – his friend – yes, his friend, Steve McGarrett’s defenses were down. His officer did not have him on a pedestal. Rather, Danno placed him out in front of himself, as a guide – as an example of his own principles in action, as a reassuring force in a world that had taken much from him.

 

“I wish I were more worthy of such high esteem, Danno.” It was gut wrenching to the

haole hao to think that he ignored the warning signs that could cost his friend his life.

 

“You’re my friend, Steve.…” the next sound Steve heard a soft snore.

 

He took a dry cloth, and wiped the beads of sweat from Dan’s face, and then felt his cheek with the back of his hand. Cooler, definitely cooler.

 

 

**********

 

Black, dreamless, total-loss-of-awareness sleep was always disturbing to McGarrett, but he knew he must have needed it, as he awoke suddenly and found himself still propped exactly as he last remembered the night before. Someone had obviously entered the room as he slept to change the patient’s IV and thoughtfully dropped a blanket onto the sleeping sentinel.

 

It was almost 6:30 AM, and Dan was sleeping peacefully, so Steve slipped out. Doctor Hansen was just coming on duty, and assured McGarrett that he would call him if there was any change. Despite being only partially convinced, the head of Five-0 knew that he had duties that were piling up in his office, he drove home and went for a short run before getting on with his normal Tuesday activities. With two detectives out, there’d be no shortage of things to do. Oddly, he’d been able to get a pretty good night’s sleep even slouched in the lounge chair in Dan’s room.

 

After beginning the paperwork on the Brock case, Steve had reviewed the Ali’i case documentation, which Dan had so meticulously prepared for his boss the previous week. Small notes carefully paper-clipped to the pages highlighted items that Dan felt might be particularly relevant. McGarrett had to admit he was impressed. The day passed quickly, and McGarrett didn’t get back to the hospital until after nine o’clock that night. The report was that Dan did not awaken or so much as twitch for the entire day. The total loss of responsiveness after such a life-affirming evening deeply disturbed McGarrett, but both Bergman and Hansen assured him that sleep was the best thing for the exhausted detective. He fell asleep there again, hoping to see some sign that Dan was stirring, but managed to leave by five o’clock the next morning.

 

*********

 

 

“Hey, where’d these comic books come from?” Kono bellowed from inside his boss’s office.

 

McGarrett shouted over his shoulder from May’s desk, “Leave ‘em alone!” He finished helping May prioritize her list of tasks, and started to return to his desk, when the phone rang. Upon hearing the voice at the other end of the line, a smiling May just handed the receiver to her boss without so much as a word.

 

Perplexed, he accepted the phone and barked, “McGarrett!”

 

“Steve,” came the weak response. From the expression on his face, May knew that there was no voice on earth that her boss would’ve rather heard.

 

“Danno,” he said, emotion rippling through him. “Thank God! Are you okay?”

 

“I just wanted to hear your voice.”

 

The sentiment touched McGarrett, but he replied gruffly, “You can hear it in person – I’ll be right over – Danno? Danno?”

 

“Mr. McGarrett?”

 

He was a little surprised at the different voice, but he thought he recognized it, “Hansen, is that you?”

 

“Yes, Mr. McGarrett. As promised, I wanted to let you know that he woke up, but he’s already asleep again.” The news deflated McGarrett a bit, but just to have heard Danno’s voice was bolstering. Hansen continued, “I’d have to say that he’s turned a corner in the night, and I’m feeling very optimistic about a full recovery at this point.”

 

Feeling relieved and generous, McGarrett replied, “Call me Steve, Doc! Thanks for taking such good care of my man.”

 

“It’s been – an experience – Steve.” Hansen replied diplomatically. “I only regret that I didn’t tie him to the bed on Saturday!” 

 

 

*********

 

Gradually, Dan became aware that someone was pushing on him, moving his arm, gently lifting his head. He had tried to open his eyes, but his lids were just too heavy. He tried to speak, to say hello, to ask where he was, but all that came out was a soft groan.

 

“Mr. Williams, just relax – we’re changing your bedding and getting you situated a little more comfortably.”

 

Even after the kind words had been spoken, it took him a few more minutes to realize that he was in a hospital. Over the course of the next hour, he was able to reassemble his circumstance enough to realize that he somehow ended up back in the hospital after falling ill in the office while they were interrogating Bates on what day was that – Monday. What day is it now?

 

Before he could consider further, a memory that almost brought bile to his throat sharpened. He had followed his uncle out of the office and down the back steps of the Palace. His dead uncle! What insane thing had he done? He tried to focus on the sequence of events, but was not successful. He could only see snippets of scenes, as if he were watching a badly edited film. A car – no two cars – almost struck him, their horns blaring angrily as they each managed to avert collisions… A lady in a muu muu stared at him as if he had sprouted a tail…His pop glared angrily, but beckoned for him to join him in the cemetery…Pop started toward Steve…What was Steve doing there?…Pop wanted to hurt him…Why would Pop want to hurt Steve?

 

Dan shook himself out of the reverie, and said aloud, “Pop’s dead! He doesn’t want to hurt anybody.” Even me, he added silently.

 

If Steve really was there, he has to think I’m a nut case! Frustrated at being too weak to lift his head all the way off the pillow, he closed his eyes and slept again. 

 

A doctor Williams did not know stopped in, checked his vital signs, poked and pushed on him for a few minutes. He learned from this man that it was Wednesday evening, and that it appeared as though he would recover from the peritonitis that had almost killed him a couple days earlier.

 

Dan thought of Mrs. Brock and panicked as he inquired about her. The doctor, who did not remember any of the details, reported distractedly that the newspapers said that the kidnap victim had been rescued by Five-0, and that the perpetrators had been captured – or was it killed? The doctor wasn’t sure.  That news relieved the very weak detective, who – even without all of his mental faculties present – had felt the burden of the kidnapping pressing down on him. The patient had questions, but the young physician had rounds to do and put him off.

 

“I’m sure your watch dog will be in shortly, and he’ll have all the answers for you,” the doctor draped his stethoscope around his neck.

 

“My – my watch dog?” Dan asked.

 

As the man reached the door, he looked back and replied, “Yep – he sleeps here – and I have it on good authority that he bites.”

 

With that cryptic comment, the doctor vanished from view. Dan frowned as he slowly moved his hand up to feel the large bandage with an IV line protruding from it just above his collar bone.

 

“My watch dog,” Dan said out loud, “that bites.”

 

The image of his boss popped into his head, and somehow he knew that it had to be McGarrett. The thought of Steve being so concerned touched him, but concern wasn’t the emotion that Dan believed his boss would be feeling when he saw that Dan was going to live. He’d let Steve down. Somehow – he would have to think through exactly how it had happened – he had never been able to be forthcoming about his illness. And then, when he finally couldn’t hack it anymore, he didn’t even remember how he got here. He needed a little time to sort it all out, but he was tired again. What a wimp… he thought as he dozed off.  

 

As McGarrett moved down the hallway to Dan’s room, the hospital had taken on the spooky nighttime aura that sterile institutions seem to project in the dark. As he pushed the door open, he prepared himself to see the patient still sleeping, as he had been for his lunch time visit earlier that day. To his pleased surprise, Dan was slightly propped up by a couple of strategically placed pillows. His eyes were closed, but Steve had the sense that the patient was not deep in slumber. McGarrett wondered whether Dan’s reaction to a man that had almost killed him would be cool. He leaned in the doorway, crossed his arms, and cleared his throat. No startled reaction was forthcoming, but the patient did slowly open his eyes to gaze at his visitor. A tentative smile was the invitation McGarrett needed to enter, so he pulled up “his” chair to sit no more than two feet from his colleague.

 

“I don’t suppose that you… uh… let a pigheaded boss talk you into something that wasn’t true, did you?” Steve inquired gently as he grabbed the patient’s arm.

 

Dan looked down and laughed softly as a wave of relief washed over him. His new boss was not volcanically angry at him.

 

“Uh… no, I didn’t. One of the smartest guys I know warned me about that.” Dan said softly, remembering McGarrett’s lecture on the beach many months ago.

 

While his voice still sounded weak to the man listening intently in his search for clues to the patient’s condition, the young man’s blue eyes reflected a better – not complete, but better – measure of awareness as he looked up to meet his mentor’s eyes.

 

“I did something worse,” the patient continued. “I think I might’ve let a ghost talk me into believing something that wasn’t true.”

 

McGarrett grunted and nodded as he studied his friend. He finally said, “I see. This ghost – your pop?”

 

Dan swallowed and nodded without looking up. There was silence in the room for almost a minute. Dan was only now beginning to realize the time and effort this man was willing to invest in him – as a cop – as a – as a friend. With that realization, another memory – or maybe a dream? – of a conversation with McGarrett. At least that dream-memory was not mortifyingly embarrassing.

 

“Well, we’ve all got an akua or two to deal with,” Steve conceded with a smile, but then noted that the turn of phrase was perplexing to the patient. McGarrett shook his head slightly and brushed the comment aside, “Never mind. We can talk more about that once we spring you from here.”

 

Dan looked away, “I’m surprised you wouldn’t rather just transfer me to the psych ward after how I acted.”

 

Now it was McGarrett’s turn to be confused, “How you acted? You were life-threateningly SICK, and every time you tried to tell me, I stood you on your head.” Now Steve looked down, and Dan felt compelled to study him.  “I pushed you on a tough case until you literally dropped. I don’t know whether you can forgive me for that,” McGarrett admitted his pain. To have driven Williams to a point where the young man saw no way out, but to finish the job – or die trying – was not what the head of Five-0 had in mind, but that was how it turned out.

 

“No, Steve, you have it all wrong,” Williams objected to the amazing twisted view of his boss. “I had something to prove. I wanted you to see that you could trust me…” Despite the passion he felt about the subject, he had to lay his head back on the pillow and close his eyes. McGarrett leaned forward, instantly concerned, but Dan continued speaking, “I wanted you to have faith…” The patient could speak no more, partially from the overwhelming emotion he felt at the thought of failing in that goal, partially from exhaustion.

 

“Danno, if you hear nothing else tonight, hear this and know that it’s true. I do have faith in you, and that faith can only grow at this point, my friend. Do you understand?” McGarrett’s tone was stern and business-like.

 

Dan smiled slightly but he didn’t / couldn’t open his eyes as he responded, “Yes.”

 

“I have faith in you. Do you copy that?” McGarrett asked. The point was too important for Dan to sleep again and not know. 

 

“I – I copy that…” Dan visibly relaxed as his head drooped slightly to one side.

 

Tight control and micro-managing had been the name of the game for most of Steve McGarrett’s life, but he now saw that he was going to have to put a little more effort into letting go, and trusting that his bidding would be done. Definitely not an easy job, but the haole hao could – no, would – find a way.

 

 

**********

 

Makiki Cemetery seemed like a different place than it had one day shy of two weeks earlier. The sun was high in the sky as McGarrett’s LTD pulled to a gentle stop on Waverly Street. The next day would be Dan’s first day back on the job after a ten-day hospital stay, and several more days of recuperation at home regaining his strength. McGarrett suggested – and Dan had agreed – that they take a spin over to Makiki. Although Dan had a tightness in his chest about it, after everything he’d put the head of Five-0 through, Williams was not about to decline.

 

McGarrett noticed that Dan seemed uneasy as they got out of the car, but after hearing Kono’s recounting of his detectives’ visit a few weeks ago, he was not entirely surprised.

 

Outfitted in an uncharacteristically loud, long-sleeved teal and orange aloha shirt and straw hat, the head of Five-0 walked casually ten feet onto the cemetery grounds, scanning the names on nearby headstones, before asking, “Okay, so where’s your uncle buried?”

 

After a few seconds of silence, Steve turned to look back at Dan, who was leaning on the car with his arms folded. The young man, in a traditional, blue and white short-sleeved aloha shirt, avoided eye contact for a few moments as he scanned the horizon. Finally, when he did decide to look at his boss, he saw that McGarrett was standing there, his arms now crossed.

 

The tall, striking figure’s gaze was positively piercing, and inescapable, Dan decided as he spoke, “I’m not exactly sure where it is.”

 

That news DID surprise McGarrett, and he uncrossed his arms. He stood there for a moment just studying Dan, who felt ashamed at the admission, and then he walked over and leaned on the hood of his car next to his detective.

 

“The memorial service was at a church in Kahala. He was interred here a little later – I’m not sure when.”  Dan stopped speaking as if that explained it, but McGarrett was not going to let this drop.

 

“And you just haven’t had a spare second since 1953 to pay your respects?” McGarrett knew – from just the few things Dan had said in passing – that Williams had loved his uncle deeply.

 

“I – I guess I’ve had it in my head that Pop wouldn’t want me to come,” Dan admitted, and then said, “It sounds pretty dumb.” The silence from his boss told Dan that he was waiting for a better answer. Finally, Dan relented and spoke, almost breaking into a smile as he started, “Pop was—just the best. He was real strict about a lot of stuff, like homework and chores. When the work was done, nobody loved a fast car better than Pop. He loved cars. He’d rebuild engines for guys on the force, and I’d help him. When he was off duty, I pretty much went where he went – a couple of bachelors living the good life, I thought.” Dan glanced toward his attentive audience.

 

“Let’s walk,” McGarrett suggested, and the pair started slowly around the perimeter of Makiki.

 

Dan continued, “Until January of 1953. I was fourteen, and Pop got a girlfriend. He dated a lot, but I think it was pretty casual with most of them. This one though – she was different. This one – Carol – didn’t really see having me in the picture. I watched as he let her take apart our – my world. I just couldn’t imagine how he could see her as anything other than excess baggage. He was so wrapped around her snotty little finger.” Dan frowned in concentration, but kept walking, “First, I was no longer allowed at the weekend beach parties. Then, it came to pass that if she showed up at the garage, I was told to get lost. All of that hurt, but one day – one day, I came home from school and Pop told me to grab the toolbox and get in the truck – my Dodge,” he added. “I did and we ended up out at Makpu’u Point. There sat Carol on the trunk of this brand new, 1953 Aztek Red Cadillac Eldorado convertible,” Dan was angry as he interjected, “I don’t think they rolled more than five hundred of them off the line, because they cost around eight thousand bucks.”

 

McGarrett whistled, “That was a lot of money back then.”

 

Dan nodded, and mumbled, “It’s a lot of money now.” Dan took a breath and plunged ahead.

 

“It turned out that Pop had spent all of our trip-around-the-world money – I don’t know whether we would’ve ever done it or not – on this unbelievable new car for Carol. I guess that’s what he thought he had to do to hang on to her, and she sure as heck didn’t do anything to rid him of that impression. Well, she’d managed to get a flat tire clear out on the point, and unless you had the special lug nut key — which Pop had forgotten to leave in the glove box –  that fit only that car, the tire would not come off to be changed. Some kids that happened to be out on the point called Pop and gave him the message.” Dan looked up, but was not seeing, “I was sooo angry. I don’t remember ever being that – angry.”

 

Dan stopped walking and looked up at Steve, who responded, “Or hurt.”

 

Dan looked away, “Yeah, or hurt.”

 

“If you think I’m impulsive now, you should have been there that day. While Pop was digging around in his pockets for the lug nut key, with ol’ Carol rubbing up against him, I walked right over, and hopped into the driver’s seat.” The young man looked up into Steve’s eyes and said defiantly, “I turned on the ignition, revved that baby up, and gunned it – right off the point onto the rocks!  It was high tide, and the waves were smashing into the car before I could get out. It took me a couple sets before I was able to drag myself away. By that time, Pop had scrambled down and managed to grab me, and get us high enough up on the rocks so that we wouldn’t be destroyed along with the Eldorado. I could see Carol at the top of the point cursing not only me, but Pop! She was flinging words I’d never heard at me AND at him.”

 

“By the time we’d made it back to the top of the point, Carol was gone. Pop turned on me and asked me if I understood what I’d done. I didn’t have an answer, but he did. He let loose what was probably years of frustration about how he’d sacrificed and put his life on hold to raise me. He looked at me with such – pain and rage – it hit me – right then – during my whole life with him -- It was ME – I was the excess baggage!” Tears rolled down his cheeks, and didn’t stop to wipe them away. He needed to finish, “I thought he was gonna hit me – and I wish he would’ve – but instead – he just stopped shouting. He told me to go to the Kulanis – and if he never saw me again that would be just fine with him.”

 

Steve could feel his own eyes burning – his own heart breaking, as his friend’s broke all over again.

 

“I ran off up the road, and caught a ride up to the North Shore, and hung out there for a couple days – until a cop – one of the guys whose engine we’d rebuilt -- picked me up. He took me to the Kulanis, where Tutu had to tell me that Pop was dead.”  Dan covered his eyes with one of his hands as he sobbed, “He’d saved some people from the fire, but he’d managed to totally destroy his own lungs in the process. He lived several hours in the hospital. He was even able to speak to Aunt Clara on the phone for a minute. I guess they tried to find me, but nobody knew where I was.”

 

A tear escaped down McGarrett’s cheek, as he grabbed Dan’s shoulders and squeezed as he commanded, “Take what you know NOW and apply it to THEN! Remember how angry you were! Was he any less angry? Everybody thinks there’ll be a tomorrow. Even as he said it, he KNEW there’d be a tomorrow to take it all back. I KNOW he loved you more than anything on this earth – I know that as certainly as we’re standing here.”

 

Steve looked down at the headstone a mere seven feet away from the pair, and Dan pulled his hand away from his eyes slowly and looked for the first time at his uncle’s epitaph:

 

 

James Dawson Williams

Okay Cop – Loving Pop

1917 – 1953

 

 

Dan stifled a gasp, and slowly approached to simple grave marker. He touched it like he thought it might burn him, and then he got down on one knee to touch the words.

 

“Oh, Pop! I’m so sorry…And you were sorry too…” He laid his head on the stone and sobbed for a few minutes, while Steve, on one knee as well behind his man, kept a hand on Dan’s heaving shoulder.

 

Eventually, Dan raised his head, feeling completely spent, relieved of a heavy burden he carried for years. He looked up at a clear blue sky through the trees, and took in a deep breath. Steve had remained behind him, quietly supportive.

 

“You sure know how to show a guy a good time, Steve,” Dan quipped weakly as he pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his eyes.

 

Steve squeezed his friend’s shoulder one last time before he stood, and surreptitiously wiped his own as he replied, “It’s kind of peaceful here, isn’t it?”

 

Dan smiled as he stood to look at Steve, “It is now.”  He paused to look back down at the stone, “Thanks, Steve. You just don’t know how much I appreciate it.”

 

“I think I do,” Steve intoned softly.

 

 

**********

 

Dan’s first day back on the job called for a celebration – a short one – as the Five-0 men met for an early breakfast at Cici’s, a little diner off of Queen Street near the Palace. McGarrett spent the time productively dividing up assignments for the day. The joking and teasing that went on between his three detectives made the head of the team feel like all was right with the world. The Five-0 universe was back on track and heading toward a promising future.

 

As the four men stepped out of the restaurant, someone a little too close to McGarrett’s face made the mistake of calling out a little too loudly, “Hey McGarrett! Havin’ breakfast on the state?”

 

The lead detective almost instinctively pushed the offender away from him and his men, just as a flash bulb popped. Craig Willis, a freelance journalist, flew backward and literally landed in the large city trash can behind him.

 

“A little warning before you slither out of your basket into my face, Willis!” McGarrett cautioned as the detectives moved on past him toward their cars.

 

Dan smiled as he glanced back to see the photographer trying to help his associate out of his predicament.

 

“I’m pretty sure I had my press mask on,” Dan said, very satisfied with himself.

 

“Me too!” Chimed in Kono.

 

“Mine was on!” Chin added with a single nod of his head.

 

Their leader, on the other hand, sighed and intoned, “I’m, uh, not certain that mine was completely in place.” 

 

Dan’s head snapped over to look at a rare site – a chagrined Steve McGarrett. He couldn’t contain the laughter as he said, “I might need to buy more than one copy of the paper tomorrow!”

 

Ignoring what was probably deserved chiding, the head of Hawaii Five-0 had to let a smile slip out as he said, “You’re right, Danno. That guy IS an annoying Hűpô!

 

                                                            PAU