Two Sides of a Coin:

The Toss

                                                                                                By Barbara Huff

                                                                                                With Editing By GM

 

 

“Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.”

            Henry Ford

 

 

 

Early August 1967

 

“Fresh coffee, Boss?” May asked cheerfully as she proffered a cup of the steaming beverage to the man whose attention she clearly did not have.

 

Steve McGarrett was staring out the French doors of his lanai, and did not hear the woman – his focus was on the scene playing out in the street below.

 

Dan Williams was leaning on the driver’s side door of a fire-engine red Mercedes convertible. A clear view of the driver was not possible because the detective was obviously taking his time with what McGarrett presumed to be a goodbye kiss. The head of Five-0 shot an annoyed glance at his watch as May stepped closer to the window to see what had captured his attention. Dan finally stopped lingering with what turned out to be a very attractive woman, her long, dark hair a little tousled from the open-air drive. She smiled and gunned the sports car in a U turn, and sped off more quickly than the speed limit would indicate prudent. Hawaii Five-0’s youngest detective remained in place, his suit jacket and tie draped over his shoulder, watching the car until it turned the corner and was lost in the flow of traffic. With that, he turned and jogged up the steps of the Iolani Palace out of the view of his boss.

 

“He’s not late,” May defended. “It’s seven fifty five!”

 

McGarrett gave a small grunt and frowned as he took the cup that she pressed into his hand. He called for an eight o’clock staff meeting, and expected that, as a matter of course, all of his detectives would arrive early enough that they would have an opportunity to organize whatever facts they needed to present to him.

 

An admitted trust-nobody-to-do-the-job-if-you-can-do-it-yourself kind of man, he wanted to be involved in – or at least be aware of – as many aspects of every Five-0 case that he could. With the ever-increasing caseload, the best that he could do was to command complete obedience and good reporting from his men. As a Naval Intelligence officer before he accepted the appointment as the head of Hawaii’s elite state investigative unit, he had demanded no less from his subordinates then.

 

“He’s not even dressed,” McGarrett grumbled more to himself than to the perky little brunette.

 

May had been his secretary for the past five years and knew full well her boss was a stickler about punctuality. She joked with the other Five-0 detectives that his military background could color a thirty-second tardy into a court-martialing offense.   

 

“Maybe you should start calling it the seven fifty five meeting,” she groused right back as she headed toward the door.

 

Her hand did not touch the knob before the other Five-0 detectives, Kono Kalakaua and Chin Ho Kelly, strolled into the large office.  Both men greeted May with grins, and she returned their smiles as she rolled her eyes. The detectives noticed her slightly exasperated expression, and knew their boss must be irritated about something.

 

McGarrett ignored May’s gibe, but admitted to himself that he had wanted Williams here early, and yes, the thought that he might be less than prepared for the staff meeting prematurely raised his ire. But he’d also hoped to have a brief discussion with him before the others arrived. He had assigned Dan the task of completing a newly-devised survey from the state’s Department of Budget and Finance.

 

According to the statute, the documents had to be filled out and returned to the comptroller within ten business days after receipt of the forms. The exercise was to McGarrett’s way of thinking just one more way for bureaucrats to clog the wheels of justice. But while the head of Five-0 would have preferred to have the detective occupy his time with more productive activities, he knew that the tedious project would never be completed unless someone’s attention were devoted to it (and better Danno’s attention than his!). The due date was fast approaching, and he hadn’t heard a squeak of a complaint about it from Williams since he’d scraped it off – no – since he’d delegated it to the detective, and he wanted to make sure he was on track to complete the time-consuming nuisance project. If the young man needed help with the effort, he didn’t want that fact to be sprung upon him in the eleventh hour.

 

McGarrett knew he had no one to blame but himself because Danno had not arrived earlier. He’d known that the detective had a date which he’d eagerly anticipated for days, so the fact that he did not show up early should have been no surprise. He berated himself for not giving Williams explicit instructions before he’d departed the previous evening. So he was annoyed with himself – a fact which always left him more irritable than if he were angry with somebody else.

 

There were so many non-investigation-related paperwork duties that were piling up of late that he’d found himself doing almost nothing else. The previous month had definitely been better. Still not cleared for field duty after a near-fatal burst appendix and subsequent peritonitis, Dan had been tasked by McGarrett with some of the more tedious administrative duties.  It freed up the head of the unit to participate more actively in what he had to acknowledge was his passion – criminal investigations. Once Dan got the okay from Doctor Bergman, he promptly returned to his regular duties within Steve’s fold of detectives, drawing assignments just like Chin and Kono. Of course, the mundane paperwork began flowing back into McGarrett’s IN box.

 

May, determined to do her part to make sure the meeting started on time, collected Williams’ coffee cup from his desk and filled it for him. The detective was only a little surprised when he opened the suite door and found the secretary waiting with hot coffee. He was still straightening his tie, so she walked with him to his office, where he grabbed his notebook. He gave the woman a quick peck on the cheek and slipped into his boss’s office.

 

Dan greeted his colleagues with a relaxed and cheerful smile. “Good morning!”

 

“Hi, Danny!”

 

“Aloha, Bruddah!”

 

The other two detectives nodded their salutations simultaneously with glances in his direction.

 

“Good morning, Danno – nice of you to join us.” McGarrett looked up at the detective with a faint smile and steely-eyed expression.

 

Williams instantly sensed the tense mood of his boss, and quickly shot a look at his watch. No – seven fifty eight – he wasn’t late. Chin and Kono were settled into the high-backed, white leather chairs that sat canted in front of the big wood desk, and McGarrett sat there behind it. So, Williams pulled another chair from near the chalk board and quickly settled next to Kono.

 

After spending a good minute frowning at the papers he was shuffling on his desk, the lead detective rose and began to pace behind his desk – several slow steps one direction, and then he would turn and take several back from whence he’d come. It was obvious to the men observing him that his train of thought was taking him away from the present moment. He rubbed his hands together and frowned in concentration as he moved back and forth.

 

Kono would look at Chin, who would glance back and then look at Dan, who would in turn shoot a glance at Chin and then Kono. Then together their eyes would track with their boss. They sat there watching silently, each wondering what was going on in the man’s head. It seemed that he’d forgotten his detectives were sitting there. Dan peeked at his watch – eight-oh-two…

 

As Steve McGarrett greeted his newest detective, he had been prioritizing the stack of papers on his desk. Each page or set of pages, represented a block of time that would have to be dedicated to dealing with administrative realities, trial and prosecution issues, and active investigations. He stood and frowned in concentration as he recalled that it had not always been like this.

 

He never dreamed that he would miss Sam Nohea, his recently-retired-second-in-command. Until Danno’s efforts the previous month lifted the load a bit, he had not realized how buried he was without a second-in-command to help carry the burden. There was no doubt that, as much as he disliked working with Sam Nohea, the man did shoulder his share of the paperwork that kept the wheels of the unit running. When Ray retired earlier that year, McGarrett, giving little thought to the need for an experienced bureaucrat, filled the slot with the bright and eager Williams. He learned over the course of the past couple of months, that as much as he did not want to admit it, he needed help on the paper front.

 

Steve stopped pacing for several moments and turned to eye the three detectives lined up before him. Each man shifted uncomfortably as their turn to be scrutinized came.

 

Chin Ho Kelly… A good man with more years of on-the-job experience than McGarrett himself…stable…reliable…untiring in his ability to maintain a steady pace throughout even the most arduous investigations…a dedicated father of eight with frequent family commitments that leave his heart and mind somewhere else besides work.

 

Kono Kalakaua…Another excellent meat-and-potatoes investigator…even tempered…persistent…dedicated…not married YET but his childhood sweetheart seems to be coming up more and more frequently in conversations… not uncommon laid-back native Hawaiian personality with a different definition of hurry than most haoles.

 

Danny Williams…Young…less experience than anyone else on the team, but a brilliant investigator and the best technical sharp shooter on the islands… energetic… devoted to Five-0…no-doubt-about-it-single-and-enjoying-it.

 

McGarrett grimaced at the hapless detective who held his eye now, causing the young man to furl his brow slightly and swallow. The head of Five-0 ignored the reactions he was causing – he was too caught up in the naissance of his idea.

 

Occasionally rash and impulsive but never unfaithful… often stubborn... detail-oriented and a desire to please the boss…     

 

McGarrett finally turned away from his detectives, who each let out a slow breath of relief as if some undefined disaster had been averted. In unison, they all three looked down at their watches… eight-oh-six…

 

It had been a pleasant – even enjoyable – few weeks when Williams had been confined to desk duty, McGarrett considered, as he began his pacing routine again. He’d dedicated a fair amount of attention to his new detective, offering instruction and advice. The time spent with the young man was as rewarding as he could remember – Danno was a quick and eager study with an easy-going personality that McGarrett found comfortable to be around. Their budding friendship came as a complete surprise to McGarrett, who had not previously considered fraternization with any of his subordinates, but it seemed natural with Williams. And he’d been able to get out and actually do some real police work.

 

In the months since Williams had come on board – and for many months previous to that – he had certainly shown his dedication to Five-0 and to Steve, as a leader, several times over. He seemed satisfied with little more than an occasional pat on the back from the boss. Could Steve McGarrett expect more than that from – from – well, yes, a kid?  Williams was months away from his 29th birthday. Though he would NEVER say the words aloud, youth and the natural accompanying immaturity did have its drawbacks in a profession where the stakes could be as high as life or death. And McGarrett still worried – perhaps a bit too much – over his judgment.  It was clear to Steve that Dan’s frequent self-deprecations and modesty – certainly part of his charm – could manifest itself in a less desirable form – namely occasional faltering self-confidence.

 

Steve now stared at some distant point outside his lanai as he recalled his decision to offer Williams the vacant slot on his team. The realization that he had so much in common with the young detective who was simultaneously so different from him in almost every respect brought to mind his Yin Yang comparison. Until Danno had stepped onto the scene, the very idea that he – Steve McGarrett – could have this kind of simpatico relationship with a subordinate was not only something he had not considered, his military background made it seem almost inappropriate. He’d shared personal information on more than one occasion with Williams – something he had not done with anyone who reported to him  ever – before, during, or after his Naval career. Somehow, Dan routinely managed to get around his defenses. In retrospect, each time, Steve had to admit that he’d felt safe in the revelation – a fact which possibly explained why he’d done it repeatedly, and not regretted it.

 

McGarrett slowly moved his hands to his hips but his gaze did not waver. There was, however, a subtle discomfort that the very private lead detective had been feeling about the situation. Williams was the junior member of the team, and as such, should not be privy to any more information than he needed to effectively accomplish his job. Sharing a confidence with a senior team member would be different. It would be only right that a person in line to assume command in the event of the leader’s incapacitation or absence would have better access in all regards to the boss. The thought suddenly crossed his mind like a ricocheting bullet that appointing Danno his second-in-command would, in many ways, legitimize the friendship he felt for the young man.

 

McGarrett spun suddenly to scrutinize Williams, who felt the room growing uncomfortably warm. Of course, there was far more to the job of second-in-command than just being an adequate paper pusher – and to hand out his SIC appointment just to feel better about socializing with the detective was just not justified. The right individual would have the ability to lead and make often-tough decisions in the absence of the chief. He would have to exude confidence in the public eye, whether he felt it or not. And he would have to bleed a little less… Steve wasn’t honestly certain he’d seen all of that in his friend yet, but something in his gut told him that all of that and more were buried somewhere in Detective Danny Williams. 

 

Are you up to the job, my friend?  He didn’t ask the questions aloud, and so jumped slightly when Dan did speak as if in response to the unspoken question.

 

“Sure, Steve!” The uncomfortable silence shattered. 

 

Not superstitious by nature, Steve McGarrett chose to take the young man’s words as an omen, and he smiled.  “Sure what, Danno?”

 

“I had the feeling you were asking a question, and I’m pretty sure the answer has to be yes.” Dan gave an uncertain crooked smile. He was relieved that his boss had “returned” to his office, and seemed to be suddenly much more relaxed.

 

McGarrett glanced at the clock on his desk – eight-ten. Where had the time gone? “We’d better get started!” He settled back into his chair and looked down at his notes as he tried to refocus on the tactical issues of the day.

 

Kono groaned, grimaced and rubbed his stomach, causing everyone in the room to turn. He glanced around and realized he was the focus of the other eyes.

 

“Are you okay?” McGarrett’s eyebrows were arched and remained that way as he awaited the Hawaiian detective’s response.

 

“Little stomach ache -- nothin’ serious, I’m sure, Boss.” Kono gave a slightly embarrassed smile.

 

“Maybe you shouldn’t have eaten the box along with all of the dough-nuts, bruddah.” Chin patted Kono on the shoulder.

 

“I didn’t eat the box – I tore off a piece that had frosting on it.”

 

Chin shook his head and snickered. “I don’t know, bruddah – it looked like teeth marks to me!”

 

“As long as it’s not your appendix.” The boss shot an accusatory glance at Williams, whose face colored slightly at the reminder.  “I just want to make this clear to each one of you.” The chief of Five-0 was now addressing all three of his detectives despite the fact that his piercing gaze did not waver from Williams. “If any of you – at anytime – believes that one or more of your vital organs is getting ready to burst or otherwise incapacitate you in some way, I want to know about it! Is that clear?”

 

Dan looked a little sheepish. He realized that his boss was still not over the fact that he had not been very adamant that he was ill when his appendix burst six weeks earlier. Williams knew he’d made a mistake, but the timing was so bad. Right in the middle of a high-profile kidnapping case, Williams could see that McGarrett needed his help, and when he did finally try to bring up the subject, his focused boss had put off the discussion until it was too late.

 

Kono and Chin snickered, knowing the jab was directed at their young colleague, and mumbled their affirmations.

 

“Crystal clear,” Dan admitted, chagrin obvious.

 

“Good,” snapped McGarrett. “Let’s get started. Kono – the Waikiki burglaries?”

 

“I’m still turnin’ over rocks, boss,” came the response from the Hawaiian detective.

 

“Somebody knows something. See if you can’t crank up the heat on that slug – what’s his name – Olina.” McGarrett knew his reply was not really necessary as Kono was very experienced in tracking down the less-than-upstanding members of the community.

 

“Right, boss.”

 

“Chin, I presume you’ve got a plane to catch?”

 

“Yeah, boss. I’m supposed to meet with Carl Pono and his men at noon in Lihue.”

 

“Hmmm,” McGarrett said, jotting a note down on the tablet on his desk. “Good. And Danno, I’m presuming that you need no assistance on the Budgetary Finance form?”

 

The young man replied, “Steve, I finished that a couple days ago. I’ve been working on the arson angle on my insurance fraud case.”

 

The head of Five-0 looked up suddenly, “You FINISHED? How could you POSSIBLY have finished with that ridiculous form?”

 

“Well, as you know, those forms fall under the category of an inter-agency request for information, which is governed by sections 26-5 through 26-12 of the Hawai’i Revised Statutes.”

 

Dan explained as he rose and stepped over to the IN box on the corner of Steve’s desk and pulled some pages from the center of the pile. He handed them to his boss, who looked down at them, frowning in concentration as he perused the content and listened to his officer continue.

 

“According to the statutes, the agency upon which the request for information – or RFI, as they say – is levied has the right to request additional information from the originating requesting agency – or ORA, as they say. Now the request for additional information – or RFAI, as they say – must be levied from the requested agency – or RA, as they say, within five business days of receipt of the RFI. The RA must submit the RFAI in accordance with the guidelines, which are laid out in paragraphs twelve and thirteen of subsection E of statute 26-10, I believe. In turn, the ORA, upon receipt of the RFAI, has two options. It must respond to the RFAI in accordance with the guidelines laid out in paragraphs fourteen and fifteen of subsection E of that same statute, AND the ORA must do so within five business days of receipt of the RFAI. Alternatively – here’s the good part.” Williams smiled as if whatever information he was about to share was truly interesting and even amusing. “The ORA has the much more expedient option to respond to the RFAI with a CRFI – a cancellation of request for information.” Dan, who’d been speaking quickly, stopped suddenly and eyed his boss.

 

A smile slowly spread across the lead detective’s face, “As they say. So, this is —“ McGarrett hesitated and Dan finished the sentence.

 

“Our RFAI in response to their RFI, which I submit will cause them to respond with a CRFI, because there is no way they’ll be able to get this information back to us within five business days.” Dan looked satisfied with his solution.

 

“So, you didn’t actually complete the forms. Instead, you’ve levied twenty questions right back at them, which they are obligated to answer or we don’t have to respond further.” McGarrett slapped the papers down on his desk and laughed, along with his other detectives, for a full minute before he responded, “Danno, I didn’t think you had a devious bone in your body! I’m impressed.”

 

Williams was relieved that Steve was pleased with his solution. He had not been too thrilled to receive the assignment, but he took the forms from his boss and retreated to his desk to study them. He’d sat there, slouched down in his seat toying with a pencil as he pondered the questions, which were going to take a fair amount of research into Five-0’s current and past administrative and budgetary files.

 

After a few minutes spent vacillating between contemplating his boredom and how to best manage the task at hand, he sat up a little straighter in his chair and cocked his head as the answer came to him. The requesters of this information must have to operate by the same absurd guidelines which they are foisting on everyone else.

 

Armed with that knowledge, Dan decided to get educated – really educated – on the regulations governing inter-agency requests for information. The office staff noticed that their newest member was quietly reading at his desk for the better part of a day. It had been worth the effort as he had managed to out-bureaucrat the bureaucrats!

 

Dan proceeded to quickly outline his progress on the fraud investigation which was occupying most of his time.

 

McGarrett nodded at Williams as he closed his notebook. “You pulled that report together pretty quickly this morning.”

 

Dan smiled and thanked his lucky stars that he’d been prepared. “I came back last night for awhile – I thought you’d be ticked if I wasn’t ready for the meeting this morning.” If there was one thing Williams decided he hated, it was when Steve was angry with him.

 

His erroneous irritation at his detective long melted into the woodwork, Steve smiled and felt his optimism renewed at the prospect that this young man could be the solution to his problems. Of course, now the trial must begin.

 

“And you were right, Danno.” McGarrett paused for a breath and plunged ahead, his abundant confidence filling the room. The only way he would ever know whether Williams could take the heat that came with the second-in-command spot was to crank up the temperature. “And that reminds me, moving forward, Danno, you will be permanently responsible for the on-call roster, the collection, review, and submission of all expense reports, and the monthly budget overage report. These are the same ones you learned how to do last month. Any questions?”

 

Dan’s mouth hung open slightly for a brief moment, but he recovered quickly. “Uh, no, I guess not.”

 

Steve did not seem angry, but he’d been acting strangely this morning. Punishment Williams could take – but to not know the offense was disturbing. Afraid to bring up the subject on the spot for fear of additional duty being meted out, he flashed an uncertain glance in the direction of Chin and Kono, but remained silent.

 

The meeting ended on an upbeat note as McGarrett announced the capture of Ted Cole in Mississippi. Cole was wanted in Hawaii for the murder of a gas station attendant and a string of armed robberies. He’d been arrested in a small town outside of Tupelo for drunk driving. Now all that remained to get him tried was the extradition process.

 

The detectives filed out and Dan closed the office door behind him, almost bumping into Kono as the big Hawaiian had stopped abruptly in front of May’s desk. Kono turned and gently pushed Williams in the chest with his finger.

 

“You did something that almost got all of us in trouble!” Kono accused.

 

Chin wore his usual inscrutable expression, but did turn to hear what their newest member had to say for himself.

 

Already in defensive mode, Dan came back quickly. “He gave you the eye too!”

 

“But he ended up dumping on you, didn’t he, kaikaina?” Kono stood his ground.

 

Dan had to break eye contact as he bit his lower lip. His colleague was right – in the end, the boss had ultimately decided that he was guilty – but OF WHAT?

 

“Okay,” Dan admitted. “You’re right, but I don’t know what I did.”

 

May, recollecting her boss’s grumbling earlier, inquired neutrally. “Did the meeting start on time?”

 

Chin responded as he and Kono turned to get on with their day. “We’re not sure.”

 

The secretary, now completely perplexed, started to ask for clarification from the only detective left standing at her desk, but he turned the other way and tapped on the very imposing closed door before he re-entered the lion’s den. Williams decided he could not let it ride even at the risk of irking his boss.

 

McGarrett half-expected to see Williams return after the others had left. It had seemed to Steve that the young man had a question poised to ask earlier, but thought better of it for some reason. Now, the detective smiled uncertainly as he re-approached the desk, and he hesitated for only a moment, knowing that his boss would prefer that he get to the point.

 

“Am I being punished?” Dan’s gaze did not waver from his boss as he made the blunt inquiry.

 

“Punished?” McGarrett was truly puzzled for only a few moments. “Punished for what?”

 

“I – I don’t know – for being—not on time enough to the staff meeting? For not just filling out the forms for the controller’s office? Whatever it is, tell me, and I’ll never do it again.”  Dan could not honestly decide what to make of Steve’s odd behavior on this morning. Usually, there was no doubt in Dan’s mind when and why Steve McGarrett was upset with him.

Five-0’s newest detective worked very hard to make sure those occasions were few and far between. For some reason, he himself could not quite understand, this man’s approval meant more to him than almost anything else in his life right now. The reasons to respect and admire the man were many, and that he had much to teach Williams was obvious as well. Dan found himself working harder than he’d ever worked in his life to make sure he accomplished his duties in such a way that his boss would be pleased. He knew that Steve was not one to pass out praise loosely, so on the rare occasions when a word of commendation slipped from his lips, it meant all the more to the young detective. Of course, the flip side of praise is criticism, and as quickly as a kind word could elevate, a rebuke from Steve McGarrett could smite Dan a crushing blow.

 

McGarrett quickly mentally replayed the events of the meeting (and the little meeting he’d had with himself and its resulting decision), and it hit him. It suddenly made sense that Williams might be feeling – well, put upon at this moment. His chagrin remained internal as he realized that he was the only one privy to his plan – and it would remain that way until he could make sure his new detective was up to the challenge. He knew he would have to ease the diffident Williams into the idea in a gentle build-up operation, slowly proving to both men that Dan could handle the S-I-C duties. The older detective privately gave himself a pat on the back, and launched into a well-deserved explanation.

 

“Sit down, Danno.” McGarrett motioned to one of the white chairs, and the detective moved to sit as his boss explained. “Activities you consider punitive are things that are on my plate every day. The duty roster – the expense reports – the overtime statements – data collection for next year’s budget projections – and I haven’t mentioned anything about actual police work yet.”

 

As Dan listened to his boss, his expression slowly changed from one of concern to mild chagrin and discomfiture. He ran a hand slowly over the tight, sandy curls that blanketed his head. “I guess I wasn’t thinking about it that way.”

 

McGarrett saw in the young man’s deflated expression an opportunity to drive his point home. “I’m delegating to you some of the reports and administrative details – many of the things that Ray as my second-in-command handled   in an effort to make my workload more manageable. Do not think of this as punishment.”

 

Williams listened intently as his boss leaned forward on his elbows and continued.

 

“These past few weeks have highlighted to me that I need somebody I can count on to help me out with this stuff. As mundane and un-necessary as the paperwork sometimes seems, it still has to get done – accurately and efficiently.” The older detective’s blue eyes focused on his detective with a clear intention. “You’ve been doing a good job for me.” McGarrett felt a twinge of guilt as he architected his sentences. He knew the young man well enough by now to recognize that Williams looked up to him and wanted very much to please him. So in his turn of phrase, he made sure that Dan knew what he proposed would make him happy.

 

By this point in the conversation, Williams could see where McGarrett was going. He studied his boss. “Steve, if it will make it easier for you, I can handle the duty roster, the monthlies, and the overage reports, no problem.”

 

McGarrett had to smile. It was just too painless with Danno. He did, in fact want to make the lead detective’s life easier. 

 

“That will help me tremendously, Danno. Thank you.” McGarrett nodded, and stood.

 

Dan followed suit, and the two men walked to the door. The image of his boss’s angry countenance before the meeting pushed into his thoughts again. “And you’re not—mad about anything?”

 

This time, Steve gave his detective a perplexed smile as he opened the door and let his hand slide onto Williams’ back. “About what?”

 

Dan briefly studied the man’s intense expression. Normal Williams decided as he shrugged and grinned. “I think this is where I came in.”

 

McGarrett ended the audience with a slap to Williams’ back, and retreated into his office with a chuckle. “Me too.”

 

 

September 1967 – Week One

 

Micro-droplets from the warm, un-seasonal rain seemed to hover everywhere, making McGarrett’s thick bouffant of hair droop slightly as he traversed his way through the urban construction site towards the gathering of people. The new tract housing development seemed to be springing up overnight, McGarrett reflected as he carefully approached the scene of activity. A half dozen men in jeans and hard hats we standing, apparently sequestered by Chin Ho Kelly and two uniformed HPD officers about forty feet from where Kono and Dan stood with another hard-hatted man in khaki work pants. This man was older and a tie was visible just above the zipper of his dark jacket. Chin caught sight of his boss, closed his notebook, and joined him before he reached the other three men.

 

Five-0 had been contacted by HPD when the responding officers felt there might be a connection between this call – the frantic report of a dead body – and another suspicious death of a construction worker one month earlier. Stanley Davis, age twenty two, washed up on a beach near Mokuleia. Initially, it appeared that the young man had drowned. The autopsy revealed that the young man had been drinking heavily, but there was no water in the lungs, which meant that he was dead before he hit the water. 

 

“And what time was the cement poured, Mr. Larson?” Williams’ question was the first thing McGarrett could make out as he took a short cut over a bundle of twelve-foot-long two-by-fours, as the Chinese detective opted to slip around one end of the wood beams.

 

“It was the last thing we did before we shut down for the night.” The man in the hat explained and then pointed to a second area that was cordoned off by rope obviously to discourage people from walking across freshly poured cement. “We did that foundation and this one yesterday about five o’clock.”

 

“And then you roped them off and everybody left?” Kono picked up the thread of questioning as Dan stepped away to study the new concrete in the neighboring plot.

 

The man nodded as both he and the Hawaiian detective noticed McGarrett’s arrival. Kono nodded slightly in greeting and introduced Moe Larson as a foreman of the A’ala Housing Development Project for Welton Construction Company. The four men moved ten feet and stepped onto the newly poured foundation, where the reason for the questioning became apparent. At first, it appeared to Steve to be a rough patch in the cement, but as he stepped around Kono to view the area from the opposite side of their approach, recognition of the object chilled him. Protruding no more than a few inches from the now-set slab foundation of a future home were the knuckles of a hand. Coated in a thin film of cement, the human appendage looked like it might be part of a statue instead of the only visible evidence of a crime. Envisioning the body that was locked under the solid surface, a brief wave of revulsion passed through McGarrett as he squatted to get a closer look.

 

“It looks like the guy got dumped here in the early evening – the cement would’ve been getting too hard to hide anything in it after that.” Kono supplied as his boss studied the knuckles. “The work crew was just coming on this morning when they noticed this.” 

 

The head of Five-0 glanced at the abandoned paper cup a few feet away – it had no doubt contained coffee intended for the hapless discoverer of the sight before the shock caused the spill. “Did everyone show up for work?” He didn’t look up as he asked the question.

 

Larson nodded. “Everybody except Dennis Keali, but he’ll probably be rolling in here in the next few minutes – that bum is late every time he ties one on.”

 

Chin addressed the foreman. “Your crew is pretty shook up.”

 

“Yeah, well, some of them knew Davis, so this new find isn’t gonna do much for morale.”

 

“Stanley Davis worked for you?” McGarrett’s tone was unintentionally terse as he was completely focused on taking in all of the elements of the scene and any scrap of data that he could absorb.

 

“Uh, yes and no – he’d just been hired and he didn’t show up for work his first day on the job.” Larson let out a single un-humorous laugh and added, “It turned out that he had a pretty good excuse.”

 

McGarrett stood, the next steps instantly clear in his mind, and began snapping instructions to his two detectives, who nodded in acknowledgement of each command.

 

“Chin, I want everybody who was here last night questioned individually. Canvas the area for any witnesses who may have seen something suspicious. Kono, notify the coroner’s office of the situation so that they can be ready to deal with this special circumstance. And we’re gonna need to get this poor guy out of there   it looks like a jack hammer might be the optimum choice of tool.”

 

“I can bring a couple of jack operators over.” Larson offered.  

 

McGarrett focused on the foreman momentarily. “Yes, thank you, that would speed this process along.” His attention returned to Kono immediately. “Make sure we— cut far enough around the body to get everything.”

 

He quickly scanned the area and found Williams on one knee on the neighboring new foundation. The frown and questions were visible on his face even from forty feet away. McGarrett, with one last look at the victim, ducked under the rope and strode quickly to view the focus of his other detective’s concern. The other three men followed suit. 

 

The detective glanced toward the approaching men, but his eyes quickly returned to a patch of cement – not far from the edge of the slab – marred with a cinnamon-colored stain, dark enough to be visible on the damp concrete. The area was no more than eight inches across at its widest point and looked like it had been drizzled onto the surface of the cement before it had dried, and so became part of the cement’s permanent composition.

 

Dan looked up and met his boss’s gaze as the three men joined him. An image of what could have happened would not leave his head. He hoped in passing that what he was feeling was not written on his face, but it seemed to him that Steve had an amazing ability to read not only his expressions, but also sometimes his thoughts. 

 

From the silent exclamation emblazoned in his young detective’s expression, McGarrett could sense that he had developed an opinion about what had happened. The head of Five-0 scrutinized the stain, but it was the foreman who responded as he realized what had captured Williams’ attention. .

 

“Hmmm,” Larson grimaced. “Rust – an unfortunate fact of life on an island.”

 

Williams pressed. “What would make a rust spot on a brand new stretch of cement?” He reached down and placed his hand flat on the damp concrete so that his hand rested on the large, brownish blotch.

 

Larson reached under his hard hat to scratch the side of his head. “Well… I would say that a piece of equipment had been left here, but that’s not possible with this being new cement and all.”

 

“It’s blood.” Dan asserted softly.

 

“So the guy was bleeding when whoever did this dumped him.” Kono offered an answer.

 

Anticipating the explanation, Dan responded quickly. “This area was like a milkshake last night. Why would someone trying to hide a body carry it over here long enough to dribble blood, and then take it over there to bury?”

 

“Okay, bruddah – you tell ME how it got here!” Kono folded his arms and took a skeptical stance.

 

“The blood didn’t drop – it percolated.” Williams came to his feet.

 

“What is that supposed to mean?” Larson jumped in, asking the very question that was about to come from the Hawaiian detective.

 

“I think there’s another body right here.” Dan said firmly, but he secretly felt a little less confident now that at least two out of the four men standing there did not think his conclusion was immediately obvious. He added, “Whoever is under here was either not dead yet or not dead for very long –  Williams shrugged diffidently. “Blood is lighter than cement. so maybe it oozed out and surfaced.”

 

“Two bodies in two separate foundations on the same night? That’s pupule!” Larson guffawed sarcastically. 

 

The Hawaiian detective turned a rare annoyed expression on the foreman, who stood there eyeing his colleague. It was okay if he – Kono Kalakaua – poked fun at his friend’s absurd idea, but to have a civilian do it was a different matter entirely.

 

“Excuse us for a few moments!” McGarrett injected harshly, also irritated at the man’s out-of-place and disruptive interruptions to his detectives’ productive debate. Larson gave the head of Five-0 a miffed humph, and wandered over to stand with his men.  

 

As soon as the foreman was out of earshot, Chin joined in the argument. “Danny, that this spot is blood is a pretty big leap. I could say the spot on Kono’s tie is blood, but more than likely, a pomegranate seed did it.”

 

The Hawaiian detective dropped his eyes to inspect his tie as he continued. “Yeah – a pomegranate seed did do it, and I think something just as harmless made this mark on the cement.”

 

Dan, the tight ringlets of his damp hair now glistening in the moist air, lost his conviction with the onslaught of disagreement, but defended his position with one last comment. “I just don’t see how a pomegranate-style explanation works here.”    

 

McGarrett, having been listening to the back-and-forth between his detectives, took one more hard look at the discolored area and then looked up to study Williams, who rubbed the back of his neck uncomfortably. His newest detective was backing off from his position – not an entirely unreasonable thing to do. He was, after all, the junior member of the team alone in his position. But if Steve McGarrett could have willed it so, he would have Danno push back until the detectives’ arguments swayed him. It seemed to Steve that the detective still felt that he might be right, but was unwilling to stand his ground in the face of the more experienced men.

 

Before any more words could be exchanged on the topic, a shout from behind them captured the detectives’ attention. “Hey, Mr. McGarrett! Can I get my men started on a new foundation – I’ve got a schedule to keep!” It was Larson, now standing, hands on his hips, with his men.

 

“Yeah, go ahead, but nobody leaves this site until Detective Kelly has spoken with them.” McGarrett responded quickly, and then turned back to his men. “Kono, Chin – get started. Danno – you won’t be working this case. I have something else for you to do.”

 

The young man’s crestfallen, but unsurprised, expression told the head of Five-0 that his detective had taken the re-assignment as a signal that he – McGarrett – had agreed with Kono and Chin. Steve placed his hand on Dan’s shoulder. “Come on.”

 

Dan followed his boss off the concrete foundation somewhat sullenly. Halfway expecting to be chastised for expressing such an outlandish theory, he braced himself, and so was surprised when a total change of subject sprang from McGarrett’s lips. He began with an explanation about some new federal legislation relating to criminal convictions and prison terms.

 

A quick glance at his detective’s attentive, but brooding expression told McGarrett that the young man was not happy with the sudden change of assignment. Not generally inclined to empathize, the head of Five-0 decided that being yanked from an intriguing mystery would probably aggravate him as well. There was a time in the not-too-distant past when McGarrett might have noticed a subordinate’s displeasure, but not felt the need to respond to it with an explanation. It was different with Danno though – he needed – wanted the detective to understand.

 

“Don’t give me that look -- we have more than one priority case on the books.” Steve reassured Williams in a tone that was all business.

 

Dan gave himself a quick mental kick for being so transparent, and forced himself to shake off the feeling that he was being wronged. Steve was, after all, the one who knew the big picture, and where resources needed to be allocated. The junior member of the team acknowledged his boss’s admonition with a serious nod. “You’re right, Steve. Sorry.”  

 

Pleased with Williams’ quick mental about-face, McGarrett continued. The complex bill, which had numerous intricacies and un-related riders, was getting ready to go to committee in D.C. to have the final details hammered out. One of the bill’s champions was Hawaii’s own Congressman Harken, and he requested Five-0’s input on the draft of the document. It was his intention to have a comprehensive understanding on how this bill could impact how evidence must be collected and documented to preserve chains of evidence. As McGarrett explained the nature of the bill, Dan’s attention was fully captured as the detective recognized that if the bill made it into law, it would have sweeping implications for every criminal case nationwide.

 

“So, Danno, you can see that Five-0’s contribution to this effort is very important.” McGarrett summarized, and then simply and succinctly dropped the bombshell on his young detective. “And that’s why I want you to work closely with Congressman Harken on this.”

 

Williams’ jaw dropped and his eyebrows leaped away from his eyes. “You want ME to work on a bill that could affect how cops everywhere have to do their jobs?”

 

“Yes,” McGarrett responded and quickly continued. “The first draft of the bill is already sitting on my desk. I want you to contact Harkens’ office and let his assistant know that you’re the point man on this.”

 

“Should we go over this together first so that I know—” Dan stopped talking as his boss held up his hand in a clear stop talking signal.

 

“No, there’s no need. I want you to take a look at the bill in its existing state, make notes, cut or change anything that’s not reasonable or is – obviously – a bad idea. Explain your rationale to Harken because he’s gonna be the guy that has to argue the position with the politicians in D.C.”

 

The younger detective looked uncertain and a little concerned. “But don’t you want to see what I—”

 

“Danno, you and I have had a philosophical discussion or two on the topic – you’ll know what I would change, so just do it. I have complete confidence that you can handle this.” McGarrett’s blue eyes pierced the blue eyes that couldn’t look away from him. His tone was characteristically terse and self-assured. Dan’s own confidence was bolstered, but he had a passing pang of envy at how easy it was for Steve McGarrett to be so certain of everything.

 

He nodded solemnly. “I’ll do my best, Steve.”

 

“And that will be good enough! I’ll be in a meeting with the attorney general for the next hour or so.” McGarrett shot back as he turned to head off to his car. Dan hadn’t taken more than a few steps in the other direction towards his own vehicle when his boss turned suddenly again and shouted loudly. “Oh, Kono!”

 

Chin and Kono, who were now standing beside the encased victim on the first foundation, snapped their heads up to look at their boss as he issued the command in no uncertain terms.

 

“Dig up that second foundation – I think we may have a second victim!” With that, the lead detective spun and, without a backward glance, trotted to his car.

 

The big Hawaiian detective opened his mouth in surprise just briefly and shared a pained, but quick  I-should-have-expected-this” look with the almost amused Chinese detective. They both knew McGarrett well enough to know that the man had, for whatever reason, evaluated the evidence and made a decision that was final. Further arguments would not be considered and would most certainly invoke an eruption of wrath that Pele herself would envy.

 

“Uh, right, boss!” Kono called back his acknowledgement of the order.  

 

The satisfaction and pride from that loud vote of confidence in front of his colleagues was nothing short of a defining moment for Detective Danny Williams. Steve McGarrett had just made it clear that he had faith in him – in his investigative instincts and in his decision-making skills. He’d been entrusted with a task of near-monumental proportion and he resolved that he would not fail. He didn’t gloat too much over Steve’s decision to search for a second body – it was distinctly possible that nothing but an innocent bucket of brown paint would be found – but he couldn’t help but indulge in a quick, satisfied smile of vindication at his co-workers. They grinned back at him, knowing that their friend truly seemed to have a gift for bending the ear of their boss. And besides   they would prove him wrong in short order anyway. 

 

He would never admit it to a soul, but McGarrett was not comfortable completely relinquishing control over important matters (and even many of the lesser issues) in his domain, but he could see no other way to prove to Williams that he could successfully carry the mantle of responsibility for any task. As he maneuvered his LTD into the flow of traffic, he hoped that Williams had not detected any hesitance on his part when he delegated the important duty with Congressman Harkin to him. The young man, it was turning out, had an almost annoying ability to see through the neutral-but-leaning-toward-cool façade he tried to put forth. He mused on his reluctance to let go of the workload. Did he trust Danno? Had his new detective lived up to and exceeded his expectations at every turn? The answer he decided was a resounding yes.

 

The problem was his own – he’d taken on the responsibility for the well-being of his mother and baby sister at an age when most boys were still playing marbles and trading baseball cards. He internalized the idea that it was up to him to get things done – and frequently it was (a fact which further validated his belief system). The few times he had thought to allow himself the luxury of assistance, he’d been let down. Somehow, over the years, he decided that it hurt less to not risk the let down. It meant many late nights and missed social opportunities, but eventually he could see no other way to make his world keep turning.

 

Steve was asking a lot of himself, but then – he always had. It was an enormous change in how he ran his life and conducted business, but he was determined that it would happen – that he would not spend the rest of his career – and perhaps his life – shouldering the burdens of mankind alone – ultimately burying himself so deep that he would never recover. And yes, Danno would bear watching, and he would need firm guidance as he learned the ropes, but the end result – McGarrett predicted – would be not only a more productive work unit, but also a more satisfying existence for himself. 

 

 

September 1967 – Week Two

 

“Danno, make sure you’re here by seven o’clock tomorrow – I want to go over a few things with you before the 8:00 staff meeting.”

 

“Right, Steve,” came the acknowledgement from the un-phased Williams. His boss had been making so many extra demands lately that he was beginning to expect it. Dan didn’t mind though – Steve had let him know that the extra effort he was putting in was smoothing the kinks out of the Five-0 operation. The very fact that Five-0 might have kinks was something that Williams had not considered before he joined the team. Now, that he was on the inside, he could see that there were imperfections, but most of them seemed to be related to insufficient resources. McGarrett was being forced to find new ways to accomplish things now that Sam Nohea was gone, and if Dan could help, then he was more than happy to do it. The praise wasn’t verbalized much, but it was clear to Dan that his boss was satisfied with his work.

 

 

*****

 

 

“Morning, Steve!” Dan pushed his boss’s door closed with his foot as his hands were full of two coffee cups, his notebook, and a few file folders. The young detective had a sense that Steve was well pleased that it was six forty five – a full fifteen minutes before his presence was mandated.

 

“Good morning, Danno! Is that coffee from last night or did you actually make a fresh pot?” McGarrett grinned. It wasn’t that the head of Five-0 felt himself above making coffee – he was frequently the first one in the office, but was usually distracted by work-related tasks before he gave his first “working” cup of coffee a thought (and by that time, somebody else would’ve set the coffee pot to brewing).

 

“It’s fresh  we would’ve had to chew it otherwise!” Dan carefully set the cups down on the desk.

 

“I’m glad you’re here early – we’ve got a lot of ground to cover before staff meeting.” Steve leaned over and pulled the cup of steaming beverage towards him.

 

Dan couldn’t help but notice the old photograph, perhaps eight by ten inches,  lying on the desk. He could make out a sailboat, at least twenty five, perhaps thirty feet long, sitting in a slip. A paper clip loosely secured a typed page to the upper left hand corner of the photo, but the paper was folded behind so as to less obscure the image. He tilted his head slightly, but still could not make out the name of the vessel. Steve glanced down and realized what had caught his detective’s attention.

 

“It’s mine – I guess,” Steve offered with a slight shrug.

 

“You’re not sure?” Dan furled his brow and offered a crooked smile as McGarrett turned the photo around for him to view right-side-up.

 

He studied the photo as he explained. “An acquaintance – my landlord when I first came to Hawaii – died, and apparently left me this old sail boat. I didn’t know him very well – certainly not well enough to know that he even had a boat, so I’m not sure why he wanted me to have it, and I haven’t had time to call the executor of his will to find out any more information.”

 

“You must have made quite an impression on him, Steve!” Dan replied enthusiastically.

 

McGarrett pulled the photo and its attachment back and slipped it into the envelope in which it had obviously arrived. “I’d just like to understand the motive.”

 

“How ‘bout the you-can’t-take-it-with-you motive! Never look a gift boat in the mouth, Steve!” Dan quipped. “When can we go see it?”

 

Steve couldn’t stifle a brief chuckle. His detective was more excited than he himself was about the distinct possibility that he was now the owner of a sailboat. “Well, I want to be sure this is not some sort of mistake before we go hoisting our sails. I’ll look into it soon.” 

 

The young man’s enthusiasm fueled his own interest. It WOULD be nice to be able to get away from his hectic, and frequently tense, routine every now and again – to glide along, a view of the tropical shore in the distance, the sound of the bow crushing the waves, cool spray dusting his face. Suddenly reminded that he’d left nobody in charge at the office, the fantasy popped like a bubble, and he reminded himself that the solution to his nobody’s-minding-the-store dilemma was standing here before him, as far as Steve could tell, completely oblivious to the clandestine grooming operation.

 

Dan shook his head at his boss’s conservative response to such a thrilling piece of news, and started to make a comment about thinking positively, but he was stopped in his figurative tracks.  Steve, who’d been looking down at the envelope, slowly looked up at him – his expression harkened Williams back to the staff meeting a month earlier – the tortuous ten-minute silence they’d all endured.

 

He’d met Steve McGarrett in 1964 while he was an undercover officer for HPD, and not long after that, he started pulling temporary assignments with the unit. In all that time, he’d never witnessed these episodes of brief, but very distant demeanor that had been coming over the man lately. He wished he knew what his boss was thinking, and wondered whether he could do anything to help. Dan had the inclination to not move, but decided that the approach had not worked before. So, he slipped a folder into his boss’s IN box and changed the subject.

 

“These are the monthly expense reports – all they need is your signature.”

 

Tuned back in, Steve found himself caught – if he was reading Danno’s face correctly – in  the daydream. He broke eye contact quickly and opened and reached into his top desk drawer.

 

“Why didn’t you just sign them?” McGarrett did not look at his detective as he was preoccupied with the search.

 

“Against regulations, Steve – I don’t have signature authority.” Dan’s response was delivered in the most matter-of-fact tone he could muster.

 

He was learning quickly that his by-the-book boss would suggest the most outlandish things in the interest of practical expediency. The man had to know that his signature was required before reimbursement checks would be cut. He wondered in passing whether Steve was testing him.

 

Having found what he was looking for, McGarrett reinvested his full attention in Williams. “For a guy that grumbles about bureaucratic process, you sure don’t miss a beat in the quoting-regulations department.” Despite his amused tease, the head of Five-0 was glad that his new detective seemed to have a knack for remembering mundane details and a penchant for following the rules – more great qualities in a second-in-command.  

 

“I can quote with the best of them, and I know you haven’t heard me complain – at least not too loudly!” Dan grinned.

 

“You’re right, Danno – you weren’t very loud about it!” He paused to take a quick sip of his coffee before he continued onto a different subject. “Have you ever seen how my notebook is organized?” McGarrett laid the small, black bound notebook on his desk and looked up at Williams standing before him.

 

“Only in the occasional passing glance,” Dan responded as he sat down on one of the front corners of the desk and leaned in to get a closer look. He couldn’t help but have the sense that the holy grail was about to be revealed to him.

 

Steve smiled. “It appears cryptic, but in my defense, it’s consistent.”

 

Dan’s lip twitched into a grin and he nodded as his boss proceeded to outline the indeed organized, but very abbreviated dates, names, and notes. There was no attempt to encode – ellipses were consistent and dates were represented in their numeric short-hand – efficiency was the name of the game for the owner of this notebook.

 

Dan pointed to a line.

 

4-10-67 – Int w/ Luther Boggs – ico KK - nf 

 

“So on April 10th, you interviewed Luther Boggs -- ICO – in the company of KK – Kono Kalakaua. NF – NF… hmm – Not fun?” Williams proffered a guess at abbreviation.

 

“That too,” McGarrett nodded. “But it also stands for no fruit – in other words, unproductive.”

 

“Okay, I get it, but – but why am I getting it, if you don’t mind my asking? I mean is there some reason you want me to know how to read your notes?” Dan’s eyes left the pages he’d been studying to make eye contact with his boss. 

 

One of the things Steve had first appreciated about Williams was his candid and un-tentative approach to things he did not understand. He was reminded of this as he looked back at the young man who sat there, comfortably on the corner of his desk – normally a place too intimate for McGarrett to find his subordinates, but oddly almost reassuring at this moment. The young detective was fully expecting – and deserving, McGarrett decided – a good explanation from his boss.

 

“Danno, I’ve been thinking, and from now on, I want to make sure that you’re aware of all of my agendas.  Not just my official schedule – May tracks that – but informal plans, what I’m trying to accomplish and the status of each item. If something were to happen to me or I was unreachable for a period of time, somebody in this office needs to know what’s going on.”

 

Williams listened intently with a slight frown of concentration. He nodded. “Umm, okay, Steve.” Dan silently wondered why his boss was not tapping his senior detective for this. Perhaps Chin had not wanted to do it?  He didn’t ask that question though. “How do we do that?”

 

“Simple. I will keep you informed.” McGarrett slid a key he’d been holding in the palm of his hand across the desk toward Williams. “This unlocks my desk. I keep my notes on active issues in the file drawer right here.” He tapped the desk lightly as he continued. “If something unexpected comes up, and I’m not able to fill you in for some reason, you have my permission to retrieve whatever you need from here to move forward.  I don’t need to tell you that there are a few items in here that are personal and confidential.”

 

Dan felt the need to jump in at that moment. “Steve, I would never get into any of your personal stuff—“

 

His boss held up his hand. “On the contrary, my friend, never say never. An occasion may arise where you need to know information about me which I consider private. I’m telling you now that I trust you to do what you need to do.”  McGarrett could see from the young man’s expression that he was taking the duty very seriously.

 

An awesome responsibility had just been handed to him – again. Before he could react further, a warning tap came on the door only a second before Chin and Kono pushed through snickering and joking. McGarrett glanced down at the clock on his desk – seven fifty eight. Life was progressing in such an on-time fashion these days!

 

The banter died down quickly as Kono and Chin settled into the chairs before the big desk, and to their complete amazement, observed Williams sitting comfortably on the outer corner of their boss’s desk, legs casually crossed and dangling. He was angled toward the two men, and greeted them with a typically friendly grin. He was obviously relaxed and at ease where he was, and seemed to have no inclination to move. Chin shot a quick, uncomfortable glance at Kono – just to see if he had noticed, and it was very apparent by his expression that the Hawaiian detective had.

 

They each did their best to not react outwardly as they could see that McGarrett himself seemed un-phased by the incursion into his personal space. As a matter of fact, Kono thought the man seemed almost cheerful – a little disconcerting the Hawaiian detective decided silently, and jumped slightly when his boss suddenly plunged into to the business at hand. 

 

“Where are we, gentlemen, with our construction worker murders?”

 

Progress on the case had been at a near stand-still because the victim identification process had been slow and arduous. It had been a challenge for the medical examiner and his team just to extricate the victims from the concrete encasements, which Kono had delivered to them.

 

The Hawaiian detective, with the help of one of the Welton jack hammer operators and two uniformed HPD officers, managed to carefully carve the first victim out of his resting place. It took a few hours of chipping and prying before the heavy form could be lifted out and into the back of the ME’s station wagon. Less than enthusiastic – and not expecting to find any overt evidence of a crime – Kono and his team moved over to the second foundation to realistically evaluate the best approach to a search of the cement surrounding the brown patch. The men walked around the patch for a couple of minutes before Kono took one of the pick axes and, with all of the force he could summon from a full-arm swing, drove the pick end of the tool several inches into the new concrete. The surprising part for the detective was how far he’d plunged the pick in a single swing, but before he could muse on that further, a pool of deep burgundy seeped into the narrow hole around the pick. Revulsion filled Kono and the two HPD men as they recognized the liquid for what it was. The jack hammer operator let out an involuntary cry before he rushed to the edge of the foundation to throw up. It took another thirty minute, tense-and-tentative hit-and-miss operation to identify the position of the body, so that cutting could begin. The poor victim was struck three more times with the pick before the men were certain where the jack hammering should occur.

 

Two hours later, after victim number two was on his way to the medical examiner’s, Kono radioed Dan to let him know – if he hadn’t already heard – that he’d been right about the brown stain. Rather than gloating, Williams apologized for the extra effort he’d put his colleague through, and waved off his friend’s attempt at an apology, expressing regret that he’d been right about such a horrible thing.

 

Confirming their identifies turned out to be difficult as well since the outer layers of skin and tissue did not remain with the muscle and bone. So the problem became one of reconstituting the bodies.

 

Chin spoke up and summarized the facts of the case thus far. The two men had in fact been in the construction business.

 

“The first guy is the missing Welton Construction employee – Dennis Keali. They still don’t have a positive ID on the other guy – his fingerprints were kind of messed up. But a missing persons report was filed yesterday on a—” Chin hesitated as he flipped the page of his notebook to find the name. “Mark Gordon – the thing that caught my eye is that he’s in the construction business.”

 

McGarrett nodded. “And does he work for Welton?”

 

“No – he works for Nichols Construction. His dental records may be our only shot at confirming that it’s him.”

 

Steve slowly rose and began to pace behind his desk, but before he could speak, Chin chimed in again. “Oh, one more thing – Stanley Davis – he also used to work for Nichols Construction.”

 

With that news, McGarrett frowned and moved to his chalkboard. He scribbled notes as he spoke. “So we have three men – Davis, Keali, and Gordon. Davis and Gordon both worked for Nichols – what about Keali?” He turned to look at Chin.

 

“Not so far as we can tell.”

 

McGarrett turned back to the board and continued writing. “Keali and Davis worked for Welton.”

 

Kono looked up from his notebook. “Davis never got to start with Welton before he turned up dead.”

 

“Hmm, yeah.” The lead detective turned from the board again, rubbing his chin as he considered.

 

“Maybe construction workers are a lot like surfers, Steve.” Dan offered.

 

“Yeah, Danno? How’s that?” McGarrett aborted the pacing operation he was about to begin and turned to look at the detective.

 

“They may hit different beaches at different times, but they all end up at the same hangouts in the evenings.” Williams shrugged. “They probably all know each other.”

 

Steve began nodding before Dan was finished speaking, and picked up with the pacing again as Kono added, “Yeah, my cousin used to work for Island Builders, and he told me that he knew Davis.”

 

McGarrett looked in the direction of the Hawaiian detective, but did not stop moving. “Hit your cousin up for any more information he may have – anyplace he can think of where guys like our vics might hang out, and go talk to whomever you can find about what these guys might have been doing in their final hours.”

 

“Right, boss,” Kono acknowledged.

 

“Chin, make sure we get anything else from Doc Bergman as soon as he has it, and check out these guys’ employment records – see if anything jumps out at you. So far, the only thing that links all three men is their profession, and that’s not good enough. I want a connection!”

 

The Oriental detective nodded. “Right.” 

 

The proper edicts issued on the murders, McGarrett stopped by his desk and tapped his finger on the next item of business on his agenda before he looked at Williams. “So, I hear from Congressman Harken that progress with his bill is going very well in no small part due to your input, Danno.”

 

“I don’t see why he still needs my help at this point – all that’s left to do is to sift through a lot of barely comprehensible English legalese for loopholes.” Williams acknowledged the compliment with a slight nod of his head even as he grumbled. 

 

“A loophole search, eh, Danno?” McGarrett smiled thinly.  “You’re the inventor of the great you-know-what-you-can-do-with-your-request-for-information document, so this should be child’s play for you!”

 

Chin and Kono muffled their snickers at the gentle barb. The rare smirk on his boss’s face was enough to elicit a faint smile from Williams, but the tease did nothing to make the task more palatable. “I knew that would come back to haunt me.” 

 

 

*****

 

Normally not one to dally at his car, McGarrett stopped and leaned against the door after he closed it. He looked up at the stone façade of the Iolani Palace, a place as comfortable to him as home. His office lanai was inviting to him from both sides of the ornate, painted rod iron railing. He was mulling over the most effective way to have a conversation with Williams about his lack of self-confidence. He was fully aware that his usual edict-style approach (“Danno, moving forward, you will have complete confidence in yourself.”) would be useless. He needed a way to convince the detective – not command him – that his instincts were worthy of trust. His gaze panned casually around the parking lot and toward the distant street for a few moments as he mused that his argument would have to be right on target… target.

 

Target! That was it! In a flash, the head of Five-0 knew what he would do. He tossed his keys a short distance in the air, caught them, and dropped them into his pants pocket as he began moving toward the Palace doors at a brisk clip.

 

 

*****

 

“Danno!”

 

All heads in the Five-0 front office snapped in the direction of their boss’s voice as he swept into the office in typical McGarrett fashion. Williams and May were standing at her desk had been eyeing the details of some document, and the other two detectives had been at their own desks.

 

“Is your rifle here?” The head of Five-0 approached his office door and slapped Dan on the shoulder as he passed by.

 

Williams was perplexed, but didn’t hesitate in responding. “Uh, yeah – it’s in my office.”

 

“Grab it and come in here!” McGarrett called over his shoulder as his office door closed behind him.

 

With no more than a half-second, confused look exchanged between May and the detective, Dan wasted no time in turning over the papers in his hand to her before he trotted into his office, grabbed his rifle case, and disappeared behind the big Koa wood door.

 

Chin and Kono leaned out of their respective offices each to catch the other’s eye. The unspoken question was written on both their faces. What is going on with the boss? 

 

They’d cornered Danny not long after the bizarre, silent status meeting incident, and he’d sworn that Steve was not punishing him. Each man felt bad for the extra work that was being heaped on their new colleague, but, while he was most definitely busy in the extreme, he did not seem to mind – neither man had heard him object to a single assignment.

 

McGarrett was standing, his back to the door gazing at the view outside his lanai, when Dan entered. Before the young detective could say anything, his boss spoke without turning around. “Pull it out.”

 

Williams set the case down across the arms of one of the white leather chairs and complied with the command. McGarrett turned and watched as Dan opened the case and removed the Browning A-Bolt .338WM with the care a doctor would deliver a baby. 

 

“Confident about your ability to use this weapon, are you?” The question sounded a little ominous to Williams, but he knew the answer immediately.

 

“Yeah, Steve.” He let a grin brush across his face. “What do you want me to shoot?”

 

McGarrett moved back to the French doors and flung them open. “How far would you say it is to that white Rambler parked out there?”

 

Dan stepped up to get a look a what his boss was viewing. He frowned for only a moment. “Hmm, maybe three hundred and fifty—sixty yards.”

 

“And could you put a round through the dash ornament?” Until then, McGarrett had been staring out at the vehicle in the distance, but he turned suddenly to study his detective.

 

Dan, mouth a little agape, slowly looked to make out the fuzzy toy which rested several inches under the rear view mirror. He looked back at his boss nonplussed, completely at a loss as to where the conversation was going. Was Steve going to ask him to shoot the bouncing head off a cheesy little plastic dog?  

 

Whatever the reason for the man’s inquiry, Dan knew the unequivocal answer. “Absolutely.”  

 

“You sound pretty sure of yourself.” McGarrett observed with a grin.

 

“I am.” Williams responded, no hint of defensiveness – just faith in his expertise.

 

“What if I said I didn’t think you could hit it?” The head of Five-0 challenged, his steel blue eyes never wavering from his detective.

 

Williams didn’t flinch or blink as he rose to the challenge with a thin smile. “With all due respect, Steve, you’d be wrong.”

 

McGarrett’s lip twitched in amusement for a moment before he released a smile. “But you can’t prove it to me right now, given the current conditions. Are you still certain you could hit your target?”

 

“The fact that I can’t lock, load, sight, and shoot right now doesn’t make me less certain that I’m right.” By now, Dan realized that Steve was trying to make a point that did not actually involve his renowned sharp shooting skills. The lesson was still lost on him, but he was now actively searching for it.

 

“And you’re basing your conclusion upon what?”

 

“Past experience… knowledge of my current marksmanship scores…”

 

“So more years on the job do not negate special insight.”

 

“No,” Dan confirmed. “More years on the job do not negate special insight.” He spent several seconds digesting the conversation before he, with a glance down at his rifle, spoke again. “Can I put my weapon away?”

 

“Your weapon is your mind, Danno, more powerful than your Browning. You have a gift and don’t let anyone tell you to set it aside.” Steve McGarrett’s words were delivered with an intensity typical to his personality. He sat down at his desk and leaned forward on his elbows to await his protégé’s reaction.

 

The enormous compliment was not lost on Williams, and he felt his face flush with warmth for a few moments. He took in a breath slowly and nodded as he placed the rifle back in its case. Praise aside, he considered that his boss had just delivered a dose of uncharacteristically gentle chastisement in the form of a metaphorical lesson. Dan knew the real-life parallel was probably up for discussion next, and not wanting to wait until the other shoe dropped, with his back to his boss, he had to ask.

 

“So, what did I do?”

 

Smart…  Steve was pleased that his protégé caught the point. “Mark Gordon – we just got a positive ID from Bergman’s office on the second victim.”

 

Dan turned around at the news. “The guy that works— or worked for Nichols Construction.”

 

“Yeah. You correctly assessed the second foundation as a potential crime scene, but what would’ve happened if I hadn’t been there?”

 

McGarrett’s eyes were locked on Williams and had a graveness in them that chilled Dan, who slowly looked to the floor as he took a seat before his boss’s desk.

 

He thought through his answer carefully before he admitted what he believed. “A house would’ve been framed out and built on top of Gordon, and his murder would’ve never been uncovered.” Only after he spoke did he momentarily glance up at McGarrett, who nodded slowly.

 

“And THAT, my friend, would’ve been a tragedy indeed.”

 

Dan could only nod slightly in agreement as he exuded remorse. Glad that his detective was taking it so hard, McGarrett now moved to use that regret to prevent future similar occurrences. His voice grew sharp and intense. “Trust your instincts and don’t back off for anybody even if the evidence speaks only to you and nobody else!”

 

“Stick to my guns…” Dan’s blue eyes locked on his boss’s.

 

Steve nodded and allowed himself an encouraging smile. “You’ve just proven to me that you’ve got it in you.”

 

Dan remained stoic for a few seconds as he let Steve’s vote of confidence in him sink in. Finally, he ran his hand over his mouth before his lip twitched into a reluctant smile. “I get it, Steve.”

 

 

September 1967 – Week Three

 

“Steve, a Mrs. Leilani Espinoza here to see you.” May stepped all the way inside her boss’s office to announce the visitor. “She says she’s Dennis Keali’s sister.”

 

That news elicited a reaction from the man behind the desk. He joined his secretary at the door and opened it wider to greet the woman. An attractive Polynesian, the petite woman looked to be in her early twenties. She looked anxious as her eyes met those of the imposing figure in the doorway.

 

“Mrs. Espinoza, I’m Steve McGarrett.” He moved forward and extended his hand. She timidly accepted the handshake, but withdrew fairly quickly. “Please come into my office.” The detective’s invitation was soft as he detected her tension.

 

As the young woman, attired in a short, green and pink floral muu muu, seated herself in one of McGarrett’s guest chairs, he voiced his condolences over the death of her brother.

 

“Thank you, Mr. McGarrett. He was my only brother, and while he was a little wild at times, he did not deserve to be murdered.”

 

“Do you have any information that could shed some light on this horrible crime?”

 

She’d been looking down at the worried tissue in her hands until that moment when she looked up, anger flashing in her dark eyes. “I’m here to tell you who killed him.”

 

McGarrett’s eyebrows arched. “Pray tell, please do.” He said no more so as not to lead her down any particular path.

 

“Mr. Nichols killed my brother.” She stopped speaking as if that alone should be sufficient cause to make an arrest.

 

The detective frowned slightly in confusion. “You mean Trent Nichols, the owner of Nichols Construction Company?” When she nodded slightly, McGarrett questioned. “Did you see Trent Nichols kill your brother?”

 

“No, but I saw enough to know that he did it. My brother was well liked. He just didn’t have any other enemies.”

 

“Trent Nichols, as I understand it, is a very wealthy man, and very highly thought of in the community. Why would he want to kill your brother?” McGarrett was beginning to think that the grieving sister had no basis for her accusation.

 

“I worked in the front office of Nichols Construction – I was a receptionist until last week – I just started a new job as a secretary for the Port Authority. My brother had been dropping me off at work everyday on his way to his job at Welton Construction. In the evenings, he would sometimes have to hang around and wait for me to finish up. That’s where he met her.”

 

“Her?” McGarrett cocked his head. There were already elements in the woman’s story that filled in parts of the puzzle. Now all of the dead men had a connection to Nichols.

 

“Janice Nichols, Mr. Nichols’ wife.” She looked down for a moment and worried the tissue a bit more before she looked back up into the eyes of the man whose attention she now raptly held. “I warned him that she was trouble. Women know these things about other women. I watched her, how she walked, looked at the guys – and how they looked at her. You know the kind --- drop dead gorgeous and knows it.”

 

The detective didn’t outwardly acknowledge his agreement, but he did know the type of woman she described. That type was always hard to ignore. “You think your brother took up with Mrs. Nichols and Mr. Nichols found out about it?”

 

“I don’t know how he found out, but two evenings before my brother was killed, he came to pick me up. I saw Mr. Nichols run out to the parking lot and say something to Dennis – I don’t know what they said to each other, but Mr. Nichols shoved Dennis, and said something else – Dennis looked afraid. He got back in the car and waited for me there. When I asked him what Mr. Nichols said, he told me not to worry about it – that it was over and done with.”

 

McGarrett had to agree that this was cause for further investigation, but another question came to mind. “Did you know Mark Gordon?”

 

“Yes – he was one of Mr. Nichols’ foremen.”

 

“Did you ever see him with Mrs. Nichols or have any reason to believe that he was involved with her in any way?”

 

The young woman shook her head. “It’s possible, but I never saw them in the office at the same time. She wasn’t there all that often. And the foremen, like Mr. Gordon is – was, I mean – most of them did not deal directly with Mr. Nichols. The foreman boss is Joe Sandusky – he’s the one who assigns the jobs and keeps Mr. Nichols informed.”

 

The grief-stricken sister’s plea for justice had become a truly significant lead! He thanked Leilani Espinoza and assured her that he or one of his men would be in touch soon.

 

 

*****

 

Indecision momentarily halted McGarrett’s progress as he stopped just inside his office. Hand resting on the knob in preparation for his standard energetic tug, he hesitated. The upcoming budget meetings were an annual ordeal that all state-sponsored organizations had to endure. The first couple of meetings provided a venue for the chairman of the Department of Budget and Finance to share any new regulations that would impact the budgetary process, and to report on summary data and statistics from the previous year. The meetings were attended by primarily the senior staff members who would be in charge of managing their respective budget processes. The press ritually tracked the proceedings until it determined there was nothing new – or scandalous – under the sun to be reported. He wanted to expose Danno to the goings on, but began to wonder whether the high-profile nature inherent in the early gatherings would un-nerve Williams. Still easily rattled by too much press attention, there was a risk that he could say or do something that might make it harder for the governor to swallow the fact that Williams was going to be his second-in-command.

 

Worth the risk… not worth the risk…

 

Steve’s internal vacillation was interrupted by the sound of voices just outside his door.

 

“Because it will save Steve time – it’s called an executive summary. It’ll only take each of us an extra minute or two! How ‘bout it?” It was Williams’ voice, initially authoritative, but sliding into a cajoling tone as he worked to persuade his colleagues to see things his way.

 

Worth the risk!  McGarrett decided emphatically, pleased – and touched – that his youngest detective was taking such initiative on his behalf. It wasn’t that the head of Five-0 suddenly became completely confident that Dan would behave and react perfectly with the budget politicos – rather it hit him that he didn’t care. As he stood there, the doorknob now warm under his grip, he could visualize a day in the future when the people who would be naysayers in the near-term would forget that Detective Danny Williams was not the obvious choice for second-in-command of Hawaii Five-0.

 

Suddenly re-energized and comfortable with his decision once again, McGarrett pulled the door open. The eyes of all three detectives turned to look in his direction.

 

“Everything okay, gentlemen?” McGarrett inquired innocently as he stopped at  Williams’ side.

 

“Yeah, Steve.” Chin responded, humor readable in his eyes, as the other two men nodded their agreement.  “Danny’s just throwing a couple of ideas at us.”

 

“Good ones, I hope?”

 

Chin and Kono shot glances at each other before both detectives nodded and the Chinese detective verbalized their agreement. “They’re good, Steve.”

 

A smile flickered across Dan’s face as he gave a slight nod of appreciation in the direction of his colleagues.

 

That settled, McGarrett directed his attention at Williams as he handed him a thick, manila file.

 

“Danno, I’ll need you to sit in on the first round of annual budget meetings for me next week. This information should help you get up to speed.” McGarrett explained. The young detective’s mouth dropped open just briefly before he frowned and cracked open the file. Before the young detective could voice the concern that appeared on his face, his boss reassured him. “Relax, Danno, all you’ll need to do is take some notes and look nonchalant about it. I’ll be in court for at least part of both of these days.”

 

Williams’ expression relaxed a little. “Okay, Steve, as long as you’re sure I won’t be able to get us into a jam.”

 

McGarrett gave the detective a gentle pat on the back before he withdrew to his office. “I’m confident that won’t happen.”

 

After the door closed behind their boss,  Kono breathed. “Ouch, bruddah, budget stuff.”

 

Dan peeked into the file again with a slight grimace. “Yeah, well, I hope Steve’s right.”

 

“You wanna pick up some lunch with us?” The Hawaiian offered the balm of food and camaraderie.

 

Dan looked up from the file and smiled. “Thanks, but I’d better stay -- I’ve got a lot to do – and I’ll be in court all day tomorrow at Pete Beauprez’ hearing.”

 

Chin gave Dan a shake of his shoulder as he and Kono turned to leave. “We’ll bring you back something!”

 

The two detectives strolled to the car without speaking, years of teamwork making their silence comfortable. But as they separated, each to reach the appropriate car door, Kono frowned and sighed. “Man, the boss is really dogging Danny. I’m start to feel bad for da kaikaina.” He shook as head as unlocked the car door.

 

Chin took a moment to light his pipe, but looked up at the Hawaiian detective from across the roof of the vehicle as he waited for the match to fully involve the tobacco. His expression was – as usual – hard to decipher, but Kono had worked with the man for a long time, and could detect a suspicious nuance in the Chinese detective’s face.

 

“Okay, what?” He leaned on the roof of the car and waited.

 

Chin shook his head. “You gonna think I’m pupule.”

 

“I already think that, so give!”

 

Chin watched the smoke drift upward for a moment before he looked back at his colleague. “Look at the evidence, bruddah. What’s Steve got Danny doing?”

 

Kono frowned and shrugged. “Reports, schedule stuff, filling in for him at meetings, stuff that Ray, uh… stuff that Ray…” His voice trailed off as he considered the rest of the answer silently. The longer he stood there, mulling over the facts of the past weeks, the bigger his eyes got.

 

Finally, when the Hawaiian looked back across at his friend, Chin grinned and answered his own question. “He’s got Danny doing everything that a second-in-command would do.”

 

Kono stood there looking nonplussed . “Auwe! Danny as second-in-command! What do you think?”

 

“I think da boss know what he’s doing.”

 

“Why didn’t Danny say something to us?” Kono wondered.

 

“He don’t know, bruddah!” Chin shot back emphatically. “He’s smart – and he’s on Steve’s frequency for sure – but he’s pretty dense sometimes too. Besides, Steve’s got him so busy, he don’t have time to look up and see where he’s headed!”

 

Kono agreed. “Yeah. I know I wouldn’t wanna trade places with him these days.” The two men finally settled into the car, but the driver pulled his hand away from the ignition before he fired up the engine and looked at his passenger. “That means that we’ll be reporting to Danny before too long.”

 

Chin shrugged. “Can you think of anybody who’s gonna be easier to get along with?”

 

Grinning, the Hawaiian started the car as he answered. “No, I guess not.”  Then, he had to laugh. “Steve would’ve never let Ray sit on his desk!”

 

Chin chuckled at the very image. “Ray would have never tried!”

 

 

*****

 

Dragging the door to the Five-0 office space open with his foot as he straightened his tie, Dan almost collided with Chin and Kono as they were leaving. “Aloha, guys.” The young detective’s greeting was unenthusiastic, and he looked a little drained.

 

“How was the hearing?” Chin slapped Dan on the shoulder.

 

“Hard,” Dan sighed. “Usually I have an idea ahead of time of the kinds of questions I’ll be asked, but this time, it was like a shot gun blast. The Attorney General covered a lot of cases that happened over the entire time I reported to Beauprez.” Now among friends, Dan confessed. “Stuart talked to me like I was a witness for the defense instead of his witness.”

 

Williams had the sneaking suspicion that Walter Stuart, the attorney general, had not yet gotten over the fact that McGarrett had selected Dan for the vacant Five-0 slot – over Stuart’s strenuous objections. Too young… too inexperienced…Well, the detective admitted that he was young, but perhaps not quite as inexperienced as Stuart would paint him. McGarrett’s steadfast support and dogged refusal to consider anyone else for the position won out in the end.

 

Naively, because Dan was completely ready to forgive the unflattering innuendo hurled at him by the AG, he assumed that Stuart would be a good sport and give him a chance to prove himself. That, Williams realized dejectedly, was turning out to not be the case. Stuart subtly challenged or belittled Dan at every opportunity. Not certain what else he should do, Dan did his best to ignore the high ranking official’s adversarial tone, but it was getting tougher with each encounter. McGarrett, if he was aware of it, either did not think the issue was worthy of his intervention OR thought that Williams could handle it himself. Either way, Dan decided that his boss would not want to talk about it.

 

“I wouldn’t worry about Stuart, Danny – he’ll get over it someday!” Chin smiled.

 

Williams shrugged. “Well, at least I don’t have to deal with him very often.”

 

The two more senior detectives had brushing eye contact, but did not react otherwise to their friend’s comment. They both knew that one of the duties of the second-in-command was to serve as the liaison to the Attorney General’s office. It was generally a very mundane, but important duty – seeing that both offices were in sync with upcoming cases, evidence and witness-related issues. Well, Danny would just have to cross that bridge when he came to it.

 

“What do ya think’s gonna happen with Beauprez?” Kono asked.

 

Pete Beauprez had been HPD’s Chief of Detectives – and Dan’s direct supervisor – until he’d attempted to murder Dan to prevent him from accepting the vacant Five-0 slot. The crooked cop was on the payroll of an island gangster by the name of Melia, who wanted an inside man on McGarrett’s payroll. The failed attempt landed Beauprez in jail while his attorneys were attempting to negotiate a plea bargain for their client, who wanted to turn states evidence on other crimes of which he had knowledge. In addition to a reduced sentence, which McGarrett fought against violently, he wanted to serve his time on the mainland – away from other criminals that he himself had put behind bars AND out of the eye shot of the law enforcement personnel that he’d betrayed. Dan, having carried out numerous orders from Beauprez, had corroborative information about his former boss’s activities.

 

“I imagine that Pete will get a room with a view somewhere on the mainland.” Dan shrugged, and then grinned. “I’m not sure whether he’ll get any time shaved off his sentence – Steve’s really putting up a fight.”

 

Just then, McGarrett’s office door flung open. With just a couple strides, the lead detective covered the distance to his secretary’s IN box and dropped a document into it. With only a glance toward his detectives, he spun and retreated calling over his shoulder, “Danno, come in here!”

 

Kono patted Dan’s back as the young detective nodded – the terse bark of his boss was now part of his routine and nothing to cause him concern as it had when he’d first come onboard a few months earlier. Heeding the summons, he walked backwards and addressed his co-workers who were obviously heading out the door.

 

“Where’re ya goin’?”

 

“We gotta couple a construction worker leads we gonna follow up on!” Chin waved with the pipe he’d just pulled out of his suit pocket, and with that the outer door wafted shut.

 

 

*****

 

 

“Danny, Steve’s not back from whatever he was doing in Kailua. I know he said to wait for him, but you think it would be alright if we went and grabbed some dinner?”

 

Williams frowned slightly, suspicion clouding his train of thought as his two colleagues stood there before him. “Since when is it my decision whether you guys do what Steve told you to do?”

 

Chin and Kono exchanged a quick look, and silently agreed. The Chinese detective shrugged. “Well, bruddah, it seems like you got a pretty good bead on what’s goin’ on with the boss these days. We just figured it might be a good idea to run this by you before we decide.” Kono nodded in agreement.

 

Dan continued studying the pair suspiciously for a few moments before he decided to turn his thoughts on an answer to their question. “Well, I don’t think he intended for you guys to hang around and mess up your dinner plans. He wanted to get a quick update on your progress before you left. The meeting must be running longer than he expected.”

 

“So you think it would be okay if we left for the day?” Kono pressed.

 

“Well, uh. . . why don’t we just go into Steve’s office for a few minutes and you can fill me in. Then I’ll hang around and wait for him.” Dan offered.

 

The young detective caught sight of the uncertain visual exchange between the two more senior detectives before Chin responded. “I feel kinda bad leavin’ you here.”

 

Williams shrugged and reassured them with a grin. “I don’t have anybody waiting on me for dinner – and besides, I might actually get next month’s on-call roster done.”

 

“Okay, bruddah, mahalo! Let me grab my notebook!” Chin grinned and slipped into his office.

 

“Me too – we’ll be right there!” Kono spoke up and moved to his desk quickly as well.

 

Dan turned and disappeared into Steve’s office with a quick squeeze of May’s arm as he passed.

 

May watched the scene play out only a few feet from her desk as she herself prepared to leave for the day. She quickly moved to corner the two remaining detectives before they joined their colleague in the big office. “Okay, let me in on it! What was that all about?”

 

The two men looked at each other for a moment. Acknowledgement of a shared secret and their unspoken pact to help their boss’s master plan unfold smoothly passed between them. In the single visual exchange, they agreed that May should know about the conspiracies – Steve McGarrett’s AND theirs. Chin nodded for her to follow them several paces away further from the door, and then he quietly outlined what they knew and their hypothesis. The secretary nodded and listened intently, but was not nearly as surprised at the revelation as Kono had been. After all, she was in the office all the time, and so was routinely witness to even more evidence to support the conclusion. The explicit thought that Steve might be preparing Danny for an official promotion had not entered her head, but after Chin verbalized the thought, the idea did not seem far fetched.

 

McGarrett was tasking Williams with more responsibility almost daily, forcing the young detective to become more organized in the process. She’d noticed that Steve was leaving many more decisions to him as well. At one point, he stepped out of his office and asked his secretary what his detective had decided to do with regard to the latest round of changes for the chain-of-evidence bill. She’d handed him the document that Williams had given to her – he stood by her desk, perused it for a few minutes, but changed nothing before he handed it back to her. 

 

May agreed to do her part to help, realizing better than either of the two detectives how much her boss needed the dedicated and unwavering support of someone. McGarrett was truly the epitome of the lone man at the top, but she knew his life would be orders of magnitude better if he didn’t try to shoulder all of his burdens alone. Plus, she astutely observed that, despite their dramatic differences in personality, McGarrett and Williams truly seemed to like each other – this was something that had been missing from Steve’s relationship with Sam Nohea.  

 

The detectives disappeared behind the big office door and May had just collected her purse when the phone rang. She hesitated – answering the phone after official quitting time frequently led to a delayed departure. But since her guys were still here, the thought crossed her mind that it might be a family member wondering whether they were ever coming home. She sighed and picked up the receiver, not bothering to set her purse down. “Five-0!” Her voice was as perky and crisp as if it were the first call of the new day instead of one that would hopefully be her last.

 

“May, I thought you’d be gone by now!”

 

“Steve, I’m just heading out. The boys were wondering where you were! Danny’s going ahead with the status meeting so that Chin and Kono can go home – Danny said he’d wait here for you. Do you want me to tell them to wait til you get here?”

 

“No! No, on the contrary – that’s perfect! Just leave a note for Danno that I’ll be there shortly!”

 

“Right! Oh, one more thing…” May wanted to do her part to encourage her boss with his plan. “Danny certainly is doing a wonderful job!”

 

A few moments of silence ensued before McGarrett’s voice crackled a response. “Yes, May, he is.”

 

*****

 

 

McGarrett left the window down on the drive back from Kailua. It was a perfect weather day in paradise – the sun, the scent of tropical flowers and occasional ocean brine on the warm breeze. His mood was upbeat as he considered how things seemed to be falling into place in a strategic way in his life. May’s thinly veiled remark made him suspect that the only one unmindful of his plan was Williams himself. This would have to change soon, he decided.

 

He was returning to the Palace from his visit with the attorney who was the executor of Edmond Brooks will.  It turned out that Brooks, Steve’s landlord for the first six months he was in Hawaii, did in fact leave a 25-foot sloop, built in the 1940’s to the head of Five-0. The attorney wasn’t able to shed much light on the bequeathment, except to confirm that title to the boat, now dry-docked at some address in Pearl City, was to go to Steve McGarrett of Hawaii Five-0. He thought that he and Danno might have to take a trip out to take a look at his new seagoing vessel in the very near future.

 

He couldn’t help but grin at the memory when he left the office earlier that day. He’d casually told Danno to hold down the fort because he was going to go see a man about a boat. Williams seemed to have no problem with the command and was clearly glad to hear that his boss was heading out on the personal mission.

 

Now that he viewed Williams’ appointment as his second-in-command as inevitable, he was anxious to make it official. Never known for his patience, as soon as McGarrett could see the way on his path, he wanted to proceed.   That his future second-in-command was taking care of business, and was taking the initiative to have the meeting and release his men for the evening, at this very moment only fueled the fire of McGarrett intention. 

 

 

*****

 

 

When he arrived at the parking lot of the Palace, he could see that only Williams’ car remained. As his own stomach growled, he had a thought that perhaps Danno should bring him up to speed over dinner. Abandoning the big black Ford in the fire lane in front of the Palace – probably the only man in the South Pacific who would do this without the thought of a parking ticket crossing his mind, he went into the office to collect Dan.

 

The sound of an electric typewriter was audible to McGarrett as he opened the outer door to the Five-0 office space. Only one of the overhead lights remained on, giving the office an after-hours aura. His long strides put him in front of Dan’s small office in just a few seconds. Williams had just stopped typing and leaned forward to inspect the text on the page when his boss knocked on the frame of the door-less space.

 

“Danno! How ‘bout we grab some dinner!” Steve smiled. It felt good to return to the office and find his detective concentrating on some task which only weeks before he himself would have been on the hook to complete.

 

Not startled at the sudden presence of McGarrett, Dan looked up with a grin. “Steve! How’d it go with the attorney?”

 

“It looks like I’m the owner of 1941 25-foot sloop.”  He folded his arms and shrugged. “It seems that it’s been dry docked for awhile – not sure how long though.”

 

“It’s sitting in Pearl City now?” Williams did not try to mask his enthusiasm as he pushed away from the typewriter and rose from his chair.

 

“To the best of my knowledge, it’s sitting in a storage lot right off the Kamehameha Highway.” McGarrett confirmed.

 

“Well, let’s go see the boat first! We can eat in the dark!” Dan grabbed his suit jacket from the nearby chair where he carelessly tossed it earlier and slipped it on.

 

The detective’s zeal was infectious, and Steve found himself wanting to get a look at his new craft as well. He agreed to the plan with a little less outward enthusiasm than his young colleague.

 

 

*****

 

 

The lot was surrounded by a six-foot high chain link fence, but the only gate was pinned open, and looked as if it had been for some time, by a rusted-out wash tub and two bald, old car tires. McGarrett cautiously maneuvered his vehicle around several large potholes in the dirt road that transected the five-acre field that was littered with all manner of recreation equipment and cars, not to mention various and sundry parts of old appliances, large and small. Large tarps covered and were secured to many of the items with varying degrees of effectiveness. The two men were silent as they took in the sights around them. After a long one-minute drive, McGarrett pulled over and stared at the marker on the three-foot metal post -- #135. His eyes rose from the “address” to the obviously old vessel sitting there unprotected from the elements.

 

It rested, stern to the road, about four feet off the ground on a braced wooden scaffold. Most of the painted letters of the christened name had been worn away by the elements, leaving only four peeling, slate-colored letters:

 

PU`    N A

 

The dirt which had been kicked up by the car tires faded and vanished before the two men moved to make their exodus from the vehicle. They slowly walked around the boat once before Dan, in a quick, fluid movement, climbed up onto the scaffolding and lifted himself onto the deck. Steve circled one more time slowly, absorbing the generally poor condition of his suddenly prized possession. Jolted from his reverie by a loud, crackling crash above him, he took a couple of steps back, momentarily wondering whether he was about to be crushed.

 

“Danno!” He called, remembering that his friend was in the boat. Silence ensued for a few moments before Williams’ head appeared.

 

“Sorry,” He responded sheepishly.

 

McGarrett didn’t ask what had happened – he suspected that years of neglect had made the craft an unsafe place in which to wander. As if reading his boss’s mind, Dan cautiously climbed over the mangled grabrail and jumped to the ground. He dusted himself off with a grimace.

 

“It does need some work,” McGarrett mused out loud as his attention returned to the peeling white paint on the hull.

 

“Yeah,” Dan agreed as he bent over for just a moment to make a quick examination of the area hidden by the scaffolding. Obviously disheartened. he added when he stood, “All she needs is a new deck, a new center board, a new rudder, a new transom, a new hatch, a new mast, a mainsail, a jib, a new wheel, new fixtures, sanding, sealing, and a little paint – say twenty gallons – and she’ll be good as new.”

 

McGarrett let Williams finish his severe – and unfortunately not incorrect – assessment of the vessel before he sighed. Determined to counter the pessimistic evaluation, he had to think for a moment before he responded. “Well, the hull still looks to be solid.”

 

“It should be checked for rot.” Dan shook his head and put his hands in his pants pockets.

 

Steve found himself secretly a little chagrinned as he realized that what they found made much more sense than an impeccably-maintained, instantly seaworthy vessel. He had mentally leapt over the elbow-grease phase of boat ownership straight to the reward. As he inspected the boat, it occurred to him that it was almost better this way. The act of restoring the craft was somehow appealing to him. After all, how many worthwhile things in his life had been just handed to him with no effort required on his part? He knew the answer was none.

 

Satisfaction retook his mood, and with a smile, he cocked his head and folded his arms to look at his still-dismayed colleague. “Okay, my friend, so there’s a little work to be done. I think I’m up to the effort.”

 

Dan looked up to meet his boss’s gaze. It was apparent to Williams that the tour had not daunted McGarrett – as a matter of fact, he now seemed more pleased and enthusiastic than he had been earlier. His mentor’s voiced optimism, whether real or put-on, impressed him – the man certainly had an eye for the long view. With a shrug, Dan had to grin.  “Well, it’s a project – that’s for sure. Whether it’ll ever float again remains to be seen.”

 

McGarrett slapped Williams’ back. “Oh, it’ll float again, Danno! Let’s go eat!”

 

 

*****

 

 

Steve paid for dinner at an elegant little restaurant in Waikiki, Horatio’s, which was outside Williams’ regular budget.

 

During the first part of the meal, Dan laid out some key items of progress on the Keali-Gordon case. First, Kono’s cousin had seen Stanley Davis, the August victim, at the Kava Club not long before he washed ashore – he wasn’t sure exactly how long before – with a striking blonde that many there recognized as Janice Nichols. That meant that two out of the three dead men had been having a relationship of some sort with Trent Nichols’ wife. That fact certainly made him the prime suspect in their murders. There seemed to be no connection to Janice Nichols and the third victim, Mark Gordon, nor did the man frequent the Kava Club. So that piece of the puzzle was yet to be revealed.

 

Steve explained to Dan that he would have to speak with Walter Stuart personally about getting a search warrant for Nichol’s office, house, and vehicles – the man was well-connected politically, and to put him through such a humiliating experience without complete certainty that something incriminating would be turned up, would go bad for Five-0. He decided to take care of that first thing in the morning. That way, they would have the warrants in hand the very second they were prepared to make the searches.

 

As the business topics of the day closed, they left an opening for Williams to ask McGarrett about the mysterious landlord who left him the sailboat. The head of Five-0 explained that to the best of his recollection, he’d had no more than three or four conversations with the man, and none of them were more personal than an exchange of professional credentials. Somehow – in retrospect, McGarrett wasn’t quite certain how – with the subject of landlords on the table, the detectives spent the remainder of the meal exchanging personal anecdotes about old roommates and neighbors. Steve could not honestly remember ever revealing so much personal information to anyone socially in the space of just a few hours. But his young colleague made it easy. Both men had tales that had the other snickering and sometimes outright laughing.

 

Danno was so different from him in so many ways, and yet, there was a basic foundation of agreement on so many fundamental issues – morality, ethics, integrity, justice. They hadn’t explicitly discussed all of these subjects, but the proof of their harmony was in their actions. This was how it was supposed to be – the chief and his second wrapping up business over a meal, discussing whatever was on their minds.

 

The conversation had been comfortable and yet stimulating. A breeze from the water cooled the air trading the aroma of food for brine. As he sat there, sipping the after-dinner aperitif, McGarrett decided that it was time to let Williams know how prominently he figured in his plans for his beloved unit. It almost seemed not right to keep the young detective in the dark now that the other members of the team seemed clued in. With a flash of humor, he realized that he’d sized up the moment with the same measure he might use to decide whether it was the right time to ask a female companion whether she’d like to return to his place. Shaking the imagery, he could wait no longer.

 

“Danno…” McGarrett paused, considering the best turn of phrase, and rubbed his chin.

 

Williams leaned back in his chair and studied his mentor’s expression. The man was clearly formulating a statement of some significance. He wondered whether some additional duty – more additional than what he’d already taken on in the past couple of months – was in store for him. It had been a great evening – he doubted whether anyone would believe him if he told them that Steve made a pretty fun date. The head of Five-0 was complex and brilliant and, contrary to popular notion, had a sense of humor. And Dan had a sense that it pleased him to share his remarkable depth and breadth of experience. But the thing that elevated Steve McGarrett the most in the mind of the detective was the man’s integrity. In his entire life, Williams did not believe that he’d had a boss – or even a friend – that he trusted more than he was coming to trust this man.

 

The startling pop and momentarily blinding light from a flash bulb caused both men to begin to reach for the revolvers before the voice of one of the more annoying reporters on the Islands interrupted. “So, McGarrett, you playin’ favorites tonight?”

 

Craig Willis, a freelance journalist and perennial seeker of dirt on well-known faces, had noticed McGarrett’s car outside. With the possibility that he might actually catch the very private head of Hawaii Five-0 in a clandestine meeting or a romantic tryst of some sort, the reporter had taken a strategically good seat at the bar. He was bitterly disappointed to see that his dinner date was with Dan Williams – his new detective. For a lack of anything better to do, he’d stuck around and nursed a beer through the last half of the detectives’ meal – perhaps longer than he might’ve otherwise. The fact was that it amazed Willis to see McGarrett so relaxed and jovial – the face the journalist normally saw was usually cool and annoyed. All told, it was fascinating to watch, but not exactly noteworthy, so Willis decided to cut his losses for the evening and at least get a close-up photo (he’d worry about coming up with a decent caption later.).

 

The head of Five-0 revealed the expression Willis was accustomed to seeing as he responded with unusual iciness. “I bet you already know what I’m gonna say, so let’s just pretend I said it, and you can go away.”

 

“Oh, c’mon, McGarrett, throw me a bone – you two look like you’re ready to pick out your China pattern! What’s up?”

 

Dan was careful to maintain his neutral façade as his boss, now completely annoyed with the reporter, called for the check. Before any bone could be thrown, a large Oriental man in a red luau shirt appeared behind the reporter.

 

“Is he botherin’ you, Mr. McGarrett?”

 

“Yeah, Moku, he is.” Steve’s jaw relaxed a little at the prospect of having the reporter tossed out of the restaurant.

 

“I’m goin’ – no need to get physical,” Willis grumbled as the bouncer escorted him away.

 

Dan let his mask slip as he frowned slightly. “China pattern? What’s that supposed to mean?”

 

McGarrett understood the reference – Willis had obviously been spying on them long enough to realize that he’d befriended his new subordinate – certainly not a crime, but the head of Five-0 had trouble shaking the military taboo feeling that welled up in him. No matter – this problem will go away soon enough… Steve stopped staring in the direction of the retreating bouncer, and turned to look at Williams. Clueless… McGarrett managed a grin. “I’ll tell you when you’re older. Let’s get outta here.”

 

The trip back to the Palace to Dan’s car was silent as the two men listened to the police radio banter about an armed robbery that had just been reported. Nobody had been injured, but police were now combing the area for two suspects, who’d fled on foot. It was nearly eleven o’clock when the detectives parted company, and Steve decided that he would wait until a more auspicious moment to announce his decision about the second-in-command slot to his new second-in-command. Dan flashed a warm smile in his direction as he slipped into his car, and McGarrett acknowledged with a quick toss of his head as he sped out of the parking lot. He’s going to make a great second!

 

 

*****

 

 

“No!” he said simply. Dan blinked and looked at him for a moment as if his boss had just levitated.

 

“What?” The head of Five-0 knew he could not have heard his detective correctly.

 

Dan responded again, “Steve, I can’t accept your second-in-command position.” He moved to stand behind the chair, somehow feeling more protected as he continued, “I – I – I won’t take the position.” His voice seemed a little panicked to McGarrett. “I’m not qualified – Maybe you should talk to Chin – or – or Kono. Either one of them would be a better choice.”

 

“What do you mean you’re not qualified?” It was now McGarrett’s turn to be astounded. “You’ve been performing the duties of the job for the past few months. The title merely let’s the world know – makes it official.”

 

Still aghast at the thought, Williams spoke quickly. “Steve, I might be doing an okay job at some of the routine stuff, but -- second-in-command – that’s one of those jobs that anybody can do until the you-know-what hits the fan! And then – and THEN – the person wearing that hat had better have it all together. And I DON’T have it all together.” He paused only to take a breath and look down at his hands for a moment before he regained eye contact with McGarrett and admitted, “I’m afraid I would end up letting you down.” The thought of failing his boss and mentor was almost unbearable to Dan for reasons that were unclear even to him. 

 

McGarrett could feel the anger and frustration bubbling inside. He had to stand before he melted through his seat. “You’re letting me down NOW!” he lashed out. “How can you stand here in this office – before me – having the audacity to show so little faith in yourself?” When I have so much faith, the outraged figure didn’t finish his thought out loud.

 

Dan flinched as he stood there, clenching the back of the chair, incensed that his boss had put him into such an awkward  position – and hurt by the stinging words the man flung at him like so much mud. As he could feel his own emotions rising, Dan wasn’t certain how to respond. In the absence of that, McGarrett’s own press mask training worked against him as Williams’ face hardened slightly. The pain that had been momentarily visible in the blue eyes vanished behind a neutral expression.

 

“I’ve got to get over to records before they close for the day. You’ll be wanting the Matsu case files before they re-open.” His tone was cool and professional as he backed away for a few steps before turning to leave. He had the urge to run from the room, but stifled the impulse as he left, closing the door behind him. 

 

May heard the door opening and picked up a message she’d taken for Dan. She held out the note for him to grab as he passed by, but the detective didn’t look in her direction. As he leaned into his office to grab the notebook he’d tossed on his desk on his way into the boss’s office, she could sense by his demeanor that he was upset. The woman could hear McGarrett’s muffled shouts, but the thick wood door prevented a clear definition of words, so the subject of the young man’s chastisement remained a mystery to her. The secretary took in a breath to say something encouraging, but the detective, his face unreadable, did not make eye contact with her. Instead he intoned a soft thank you as he collected the paper from her outstretched hand, and walked down the aisle to leave. Without so much as a word or a look, he passed Kono and Chin as they entered the office space. Both detectives stopped in their tracks to look out the door after the youngest member of the team. They glanced at each other and then looked to May for an explanation as they moved towards her desk.

 

The pretty brunette’s expression was pained. “The boss just took his pound of flesh – hopefully for the day.” Chin shook his head and Kono grimaced. The Chinese detective had to ask, “About a case?”

 

May shrugged, “Don’t know, but he was loud about it. Why do I always feel like crying when he does this?”

 

Powerless to stop their boss from being overly-harsh on occasion, it stung them all knowing the impact that a single statement of praise or criticism from McGarrett could have on the newest member of the team. Williams’ little brother aura made the situation all the more troubling to the trio, and the fact that the detective had been putting in many hours of unpaid overtime to please the head of the unit gave them further pause. What could have transpired that made the boss so angry?

 

Kono grabbed her shoulder gently and shook it, “Danny’s tougher than he looks. He can handle it.”

 

They each silently wished it to be true anyway.

 

 

*****

 

 

WHAM! The pain in his hand from slamming his fist against his desk was helpful insofar as it forced him to stop for a moment and take physical stock of himself. The door had just closed behind Williams as he slipped from McGarrett’s presence. That Danno could decline the prestigious offer – it was an affront to McGarrett. Steve found himself hurt that the young man would not jump at the chance to follow in his footsteps. That he did not have the faith in McGarrett to help him along the path fueled his anger.

 

Trying to regain a measure of control over his emotions, he worked consciously to slow his breathing. He thought back to the young man’s expression as he’d extended the offer – or announced his decision rather – Williams was genuinely surprised. And from the opposite side of the desk, McGarrett too was very surprised at the detective’s refusal – as a matter of fact, he had not been this shocked in many years. There were many detectives – not just on the islands – that would give their eye teeth to fill the coveted position at which Williams had just balked. He received hundreds of resumes from very qualified law enforcement professionals all over the mainland when word got out of Sam Nohea’s retirement. There had been an article about Nohea’s distinguished career in Law Enforcement Today, a national publication with wide circulation amongst local, state, and federal personnel in the justice system. McGarrett, when asked for a quote for the article about his second-in-command, managed to pull together a positive-sounding statement.

 

“Sam Nohea has served the people of Hawaii with honor and is well-respected amongst his peers. He will be missed.”  He didn’t add that he would not be one of the ones who would miss him. The tension between the two men had become almost unbearable at the end, and the day Sam Nohea walked out of the office for the last time was a happy one for Steve McGarrett. It left the door open for the head of Five-0 to hand pick a new member of his team.

 

Up until this moment, he was extremely pleased with his decision to bring young HPD detective Danny Williams into the fold. Brilliant – but not over-bearing about it, hard-working, easy to get along with, detail-oriented, and eager to please the boss. He had all the makings of a great right-hand man – IF ONLY HE WOULD REALIZE IT! The possibility that Williams would not accept the position – after perhaps a little reassurance – had honestly not crossed his mind.

 

McGarrett sighed and rubbed the back of his neck as he plopped unceremoniously into his chair. His own impulsive, angry reaction to his detective’s response had probably not helped the situation, he realized with regret. The injury to Danno had been obvious, if only for a moment.

 

What did I say? You’re letting me down!

 

His anger now directed inward, he shook his head and spoke out to the empty office. “Good move, McGarrett.”

 

 

*****

 

 

You are letting me down NOW! You are letting me down NOW!

 

The devastating words almost made him dizzy as trotted to his car. How had this happened?

 

Dan saw the heavy load his boss carried on a daily basis, and more horrifyingly through times of crisis. In the absence of the chief, it would fall upon the second-in-command to keep a level head and manage situations on multiple fronts simultaneously. There were political issues – there were policy issues – there were budget issues – there were personnel issues (being in charge of the ON-CALL list was the tip of the iceberg, Dan knew very well.). And oh yeah, there were numerous investigations running concurrently that Steve kept an eye on. How could Steve expect him to just step into that role, knowing nothing?

 

Vacillating between hurt and anger, the detective managed to navigate to HPD without incident despite the fact that he was so distracted that he could not recall the drive. Now what? He’d just declined a major promotion, and Steve was obviously furious. Two uniformed HPD officers greeted him and said something – he didn’t focus on them long enough to give their words any thought. He nodded distractedly and quickly moved to request the files that his boss – future former boss? – wanted on his desk before tomorrow. After managing to make small talk with the clerk in the records department while the other clerk on duty retrieved the case files, he slipped out the side door to avoid bumping into anyone else.

 

How could Steve expect him to step in front of Chin and Kono in the chain of command? What would they think if they knew? I’m only twenty eight... I’ve worked for Five-0 only a few months… The responsibility… The memory of his meeting with Walter Stuart and Governor Jameson right after Steve offered him the job leapt to the forefront of his thoughts. Stuart made it clear that he thought Dan was not the right choice for the sought-after Five-0 position. Too young… not enough experience… He let out a short sarcastic laugh at the irony of it all as he could hear himself defiantly – and nonchalantly – informing the attorney general that he was almost twenty nine. Now, here he was on the other side of the fence, indeed feeling not old enough and too green to be in the predicament in which he now found himself.

 

As with the drive to HPD, he returned to the parking lot at the Palace unaware of how he’d made it back. Not surprised, but dismayed nonetheless, he noticed McGarrett’s vehicle still in its spot. Not wanting to dwell too long on the unavoidable, he plunged ahead and rushed back to the office.

 

To watch the young detective from a distance, it would not have been apparent, even to those who knew him well, that he had a care in the world. His step was brisk and he looked relaxed and unconcerned as he moved purposefully towards his destination. The view from inside Danny Williams was a different story altogether. Relieved that the door to the big office was closed, he felt the eyes of his co-workers on him as he made a beeline for Steve’s IN box, which sat on the corner of May’s desk. Determined to be unreadable – a skill which McGarrett himself had been working diligently to instill in his newest detective – Dan casually dropped the files onto the pile and gave the secretary a slight grin and a nod.

 

“I’m heading to Ewa and then Makakilo – I want to try to get through the witness list on the Matsu case before I knock off.”

 

May offered a sympathetic smile – at least Dan thought it looked that way – as she acknowledged the information. “I’ll leave a note to that effect for Steve – I’m getting ready to leave.”

 

“Thanks,” Williams nodded and made it to the door before he heard Kono’s voice calling to him. “You got the duty tonight, bruddah?”

 

Dan didn’t turn around  and continued out the door as he responded over his shoulder. “Yeah, I’m on call.”

 

Had Chin and Kono been in the office earlier? He was so rattled when he left, he honestly wasn’t certain. He was glad to have an excuse to get out of the office before another confrontation could erupt with his boss. Maybe Steve would see things differently in the morning. Maybe he would realize that he’d been wrong… The former future second-in-command tried to think positively for a few seconds before a wave of pessimism swept over him.

 

“Yeah, right,” Dan muttered sarcastically.         

 

 

*****

 

 

Even though Dan made it through his list of witnesses by eight o’clock, he bowed out of a cookout invitation from one of his surfing buddies. Not in the mood to socialize, he sat on his lanai for the better part of the evening. Thoughts of dinner never entered his mind as he took in the fragrant, evening air, but did not consciously appreciate it. His tie, shoes, socks, and suit jacket had been abandoned on the sofa inside. A glass of water, the ice long since vanished, rested below Williams’ deck chair, no more than a few sips missing. He dismissed the thought of having something alcoholic with the possibility that he would be on the job at some point during the night. An emergency call from HPD would have been a welcome distraction on this evening, but none were to come. It left him to struggle through his dilemma over and over. He replayed the conversation in his boss’s office.

 

He was  heading out the door to HPD records when McGarrett’s voice crackled through the secretary’s intercom. “May, catch Danno before he leaves and send him in.”

 

“Right, boss,” she responded as she made eye contact with Williams, who let the partially open outer door close on its own as he turned and re-traced his path back to his office. He dropped his notebook on the desk and quickly slipped into McGarrett’s office without knocking.

 

Not looking up from the document he was reviewing, McGarrett spoke. “Danno, I’ve given this a lot of thought, and I’ve decided to make it official.” With that pronouncement, he looked up to meet Dan’s expectant gaze.

 

Williams stepped forward to stand in front of the desk. The news was obviously good – Steve’s expression was – did he read excitement in his boss’s face? What was he expecting McGarrett to say? Almost anything but what came out of the man’s mouth.

 

“I’ve completed the paperwork – all that it’s missing is your signature.”

 

Now completely baffled, Dan frowned slightly. “My signature?”

 

McGarrett slid the document across his desk. “I’m promoting you to second-in-command of Five-0.”

 

He didn’t think he’d heard the words right as his eye brows jumped toward his scalp. “Your—I’m sorry—what did you say?” Dan didn’t look down at the paper that rested on the desk before him – he couldn’t take his eyes from his boss.

 

Steve smiled. “You’re a perfect fit for the job, Danno. I want you as my second.”

 

The terror and doubt that flooded his being at that moment left him unable to decline delicately. Instead, all that he could blurt out was an emphatic rejection.  

 

Williams shook his head, disgusted with the way he’d handled what was clearly a situation that required a degree of diplomacy. The surprise and momentary hurt – which was quickly replaced by volcanic outrage – that appeared on Steve’s face when he’d said no – he couldn’t shake the image from his head.

 

As he sat there, and mulled over the past couple of months, things began to fall into place. The information that Steve was sharing with him… the increased responsibility.. lectures on leadership… the administrative duties that were formerly Sam Nohea’s now assigned to him…  In retrospect, it all seemed so obvious. He wondered whether he was the only one to not figure it out. That train of thought spawned a new concern. What were his colleagues thinking? Steve was not one to conspire behind his back – of that he was certain, but Chin and Kono had worked with Steve for a long time – and they were good detectives. Were they watching the situation, wondering whether their boss would regain his senses before he tried to install the least experienced member of the team into a position of such authority? Should he reassure them that they need not worry? On the other hand, maybe concern about his co-workers would become academic.

 

Steve really does need a second-in-command – and I’m the guy that took the slot. If neither Chin nor Kono can do the job for whatever reason, he’ll eventually have to free up some real estate in the office. Dan’s head began to throb.

 

If he fires me, do I go back to HPD? Will Chief Dann even want me after I don’t measure up to Five-0 standards? How can I go back anyway? Is this the end of the line in my law enforcement career? How did I get myself into this jam? Pop must be turning in his grave…

 

He evaluated his options. He could accept a position for which he was not qualified, and probably in fairly short order, make some mistake of monumental proportions that would end his career, and possibly drag Five-0 down with him. Or he could go on about his business doing the best job that he could until Steve had to replace him. He opted for the least damaging path – namely follow McGarrett’s own advice to him and stick to his guns. He would not – could not accept the position, but he would carry on and give Steve his very best effort until the end. The realization that his days as a Five-0 detective were numbered no matter what he decided filled him with a black depression.

 

 

*****

 

Kono let out a slow breath of relief as McGarrett got out of the car and slammed the door. The Hawaiian detective did likewise with a slightly gentler nudge to close the passenger door before he picked up his pace to catch up with his boss.

 

He’d actually beat Steve to the Palace, where they were to meet and make the trip to interview Trent Nichols at the Nichols Construction office. The silence on the drive was broken only by the sound of police radio chatter. The head of Five-0 had something on his mind that was causing him huge distraction. Kono had a gut feeling that it had something to do with the newest member of the team. Only minutes after the visibly upset Williams left the office the previous day, McGarrett stepped out of his office and, after a quick, angry visual pan of the area – looking for something or someone – he scooped up the contents of his IN box and vanished into his office with a perfunctory slam of his door. The Hawaiian detective’s suspicion was given further credence by the brief flash of a troubled expression he’d received when he mentioned that Dan had been summoned to the morgue to identify the body of an informant.

 

Kono thought better of making conversation as he surreptitiously observed the driver, who usually maintained a fairly stoic countenance in public. On this morning, Steve seemed to be mentally running a gambit of thinly veiled emotions. One minute he would seem sullen, and then moments later, the tendons in his neck would grow taut and his lips would press tightly together. Anger… frustration… The Hawaiian detective wasn’t certain what he was witnessing, but he didn’t want to do anything to exacerbate the situation.

 

Despite the somewhat uncomfortable drive, Kono was glad to have Steve along. He knew the situation with the owner of Nichols Construction was politically delicate, and he’d definitely rather not be the one that had to “dance” around the issues. Any vestiges of inner turmoil McGarrett might have been harboring evaporated as the pair entered the building. They were immediately escorted into Trent Nichols’ office.

 

The most defining thing about the large space were the numerous photos and plaques on the walls. There was an entire wall dedicated to Nichols shaking hands with well-known figures – Politicians, actors, and sports celebrities – they were all there. Interestingly, many of the photos on the other walls were photos of him with a beautiful blonde woman, whom McGarrett presumed was his wife, Janice. She appeared to be at least a decade younger than Nichols, but the images painted a happy couple – whether reality matched the shadows on the walls the head of Five-0 would find out.

 

The owner himself was a fit man about McGarrett’s height, with a fairly muscular build. Wearing khaki pants and a light blue sport jacket over a white golf shirt, he looked to be in his late forties, dark hair brushed with gray. His eyes were gray and pierced the two detectives with an ask-what-you-must-and-get-out impression. Nichols returned to his desk and invited the detectives to take the two seats in front of him. With introductions out of the way, the head of Five-0 was only to happy to proceed quickly with his questions. He made no mention of the fact that Nichols was now a suspect in the three murders, nor that he had in his pocket a warrant to search the man’s offices, residence, and vehicles. The man’s demeanor hinted that he considered himself above suspicion – always a good thing for a suspect to think, McGarrett knew.

 

“Mr. Nichols, you knew all three victims?”

 

“Two of the men, Davis and Gordon both worked for me, although I’m told that Davis was no longer on the pay roll at the time of his death. I don’t recall ever meeting him, but Gordon was one of my foremen, so I would see him from time to time.” Nichols leaned his elbows onto the huge mahogany desktop. “The other man – what was his name?”

 

“Dennis Keali,” Kono offered politely.

 

The mention of the man’s name caused a flash of annoyance on Nichols’ face. “Yes, Keali – his sister was a receptionist here until recently.”

 

When the man offered no further explanation, McGarrett pressed him. “So Dennis Keali’s sister worked here, but not Dennis Keali himself. How did you come to know him?”

 

“He backed into one of my cars in the parking lot and drove off. I heard the crunch and looked out my window just in time to see his beat-up pick-up truck throwing gravel all the way out of the parking lot.” He motioned to the large window, which, with the blinds open, offered a good view of the vehicles parked on the side of the one-story building. “A couple of days later, I noticed him leaning against the pick-up in the parking lot. I rushed out and confronted him, but he denied backing into my convertible.”

 

“Did you file a police report?” The Hawaiian detective inquired neutrally.

 

Nichols addressed his response to McGarrett without so much as a glance in Kono’s direction. “I saw no point – the man was clearly a cretin – it would’ve been a miracle if he’d been insured. I didn’t realize he was one of the murder victims until I heard that Leilani’s brother had been killed.”

 

“Can you think of any reason that anybody would want any or all of these men dead?” McGarrett studied the man closely, watching for any signal that he might be lying.

 

Nichols’ tone managed to sound long-suffering as he sighed. “I had no relationship with any of these men outside what I’ve describe to you. I didn’t socialize with any of these people. Most of them are unreliable riff-raff.” He looked at the clock on his desk and stood suddenly. “Now, if there’s nothing else, I’ve got a golf date in thirty minutes.”

 

The two detectives rose as their host did. The head of Five-0 was patronizingly courteous as he responded. “We certainly wouldn’t want you to miss your tee time, but I do have one more question. You’re married?”

 

Nichols came around from behind his desk and moved toward the door in a not-too-subtle hint as he responded. “Yes – I’ve been married to Janice for four years. Why is that relevant?” The man’s body language suddenly spoke of tension.

 

McGarrett decided to spend a little more time looking at the wife issue before further broaching a potentially sensitive subject with Nichols, so he shrugged and offered a faint smile. “Just a routine question that’s on our list to ask, Mr. Nichols. Thanks for your time.”

 

The detectives stepped out of the office, and the door was closed  behind them without the customary, few-second delay.

 

“Not a very nice suspect,” Kono mused after the car doors shut.

 

McGarrett agreed as he slipped the key into the ignition. “No, he’s not – and he’s a little touchy about his wife. I want you and Chin to get with some of the victims’ friends and see if anybody can shed any more light on the Janice Nichols angle.”

 

The conversation about the case died down quickly as McGarrett retreated to his earlier, introspective mode. Interviewing a suspect – even one as unpleasant and disdainful as Trent Nichols – had been a welcome distraction from the bouts of mental wrestling he’d been having about the situation with Williams.

 

Sleep had not come easily the previous night, and when it finally did, the rest had been too brief. Usually up before his alarm clock went off, it was actually the slowing of the metered ring that carried him from his temporary respite. He took a long run, showered, and prepared himself a Brie and mushroom omelette – another rare luxury he extended to himself this morning – as he mused on the best course of action. He knew that only a cooler head would prevail today. The fact that Danno had not reacted as he anticipated did not make the young man the wrong choice, Steve reasoned – it just meant that a different approach was needed. While he tried to figure out what that approach should be, he would continue to keep Williams busy. He briefly considered the possibility that his detective would start balking at S-I-C duties now that he was aware of the plan, but Steve had been witness to too many occasions where Danno would jump through a hoop of fire to please him. He believed that had not changed. At least this was the train of thought that allowed McGarrett, the bull dog, to keep his teeth sunk tenaciously into his master plan for Five-0. 

 

 

*****

 

 

As Kono and Steve stepped into the Five-0 outer office, it was apparent there was a disturbance around May’s desk. McGarrett felt his gut tighten as he sensed the tension in the room. The secretary was sitting at her desk, but had pushed her chair back a couple of feet. With one hand in her lap and the other resting on her chest, her face bore a mixture of distaste and concern as she observed the conversation taking place nearly on top of her. Dan stood no more than two feet away and Chin stood next to him. The attention of both men was directed at the irate visitor, whose back was to the returning detectives.

 

“Danny, you know you’re the odd-man-out on this one!” Walter Stuart firmly wagged his finger at the youngest detective whose expression was deadly serious with tightly controlled indignation. His suit jacket abandoned and fists clinched, there was no doubt in Steve’s mind that the young man was on the verge of an angry outburst. Even the normally implacable Chinese detective looked ready to pounce on the Attorney General, who seemed oblivious to the reactions he was generating.

 

Stuart’s aggressive posture on Five-0 turf raised McGarrett’s ire immediately, and he, with Kono in tow, quickly joined Kelly and Williams. Both men acknowledged the presence of their colleagues with brief eye contact only before they re-focused on the agitated prosecutor.

 

“Walter, what is the meaning of this?” The lead detective demanded.

 

“Steve, it seems we have a little situation here,” Stuart snapped, his face scrunched in a bitter expression.

 

“Do tell -- and this had better be good.” The edge in McGarrett’s voice was ominous to his staff as he casually rested his hand on Williams’ back in subtle support, but did not remove his penetrating gaze from the Stuart, who was now surrounded by detectives.

 

The prosecutor went on to explain that Pete Beauprez claimed that his intermediary to crime boss Melia was an informant known to HPD only as Henny Penny. The confined ex-cop assured the prosecution team that the man could verify many aspects of the testimony which he was providing as part of his campaign to get a reduced sentence. Lieutenant Terrance Slate and Detective Danny Williams were the only two officers who’d met Penny. Both men reported to Beauprez at the time and were occasionally told by their boss to pick up a package or message from the skinny, little man. So nervous was Penny about his identity that he wore an old Mardi Gras mask, which made the upper half of his face look like a bird, each time he met with anyone from HPD.

 

Of course, the problem became how to locate a man whose real name and an accurate description were unknown. Beauprez offered a description and some places he knew the man would show up sooner or later. Before any systematic stake out could be organized, the body of a man with the bizarre bird mask folded in his shirt pocket was found floating under a dock. At least twenty four hours of water and wave action precluded an easy visual identification, but Officer Slate and Pete Beauprez both managed to positively identify the body as that of the informant, Henny Penny. Stuart had called Williams in on this morning primarily to obtain his agreement with the other two men, but it was to the prosecutor’s great dismay that the new Five-0 detective spent only a minute studying the gruesome remains before stating categorically that the poor man on the slab was not Henny Penny.    

 

“If you’re grandstanding—” Stuart turned his anger back on Williams, who’d remained silent through the explanation.

 

“Wait just a minute, Walter! You are out of line!” McGarrett’s tone was instantly savage. “If Danno says it’s not Henny Penny, then it’s not! End of discussion!”

 

Stuart flinched at the loud tone, but the issue was important enough to him that he did not back down. He looked back at Dan. “But why? I’m willing to discount Beauprez’ identification, but Terry Slate’s a different story. I admit it – he’s not one hundred percent certain – the guy’s face is pretty mangled – but he says the body type is the same and the teeth and mouth look right! And let’s not forget the bird mask we found on his person! I’m sorry, Danny, but there’s no way you can be as certain as you’re acting!”

 

At last afforded an entrance into the previously one-sided conversation, Dan fired back confidently. “The man I met had scars on both of his wrists! I’ll grant you that you’ve got a dead guy in the morgue that has the same build, but it’s NOT Penny, and you can’t turn him into Penny just by telling me to change my mind!”

 

Stuart hesitated in the face of the young man’s unwavering and very certain tone, but his eyes narrowed and he countered sharply. “Your basing your conclusion on a couple of scars that you think you saw two years ago? Unbelievable!”

 

“I only caught a glimpse of your mismatched socks once the other day, but that doesn’t mean they really matched! And just because you think the stains from your hair dye are invisible on your white scalp doesn’t make it so!” Dan kept his deep blue eyes leveled in an angry gaze at the now-disconcerted target of his wrath as he stepped closer into Stuart’s personal space.

 

McGarrett, angry at Stuart for his verbal assault on his detective and simultaneously bent on keeping Williams from doing anything too rash or impulsive, stepped in and moved his hand from Dan’s back to his chest. “Danno’s right! You need to back off, Walter!”

 

The man self-consciously ran his hand quickly over the dark hair that populated his receding hairline. His face was flushed red, now embarrassed as well as angry at the pointed personal attack that had been unleashed on him. He hesitated for a moment and took in a breath to throw back what the head of Five-0 sensed was going to be something overly venomous.

 

“Walter – I’m warning you – if you don’t get reasonable fast, I’m gonna have to turn Danno loose on you again!” Steve warned with a sharp gaze and a cock of his head.

 

Stuart broke eye contact with the young detective who was now no more than six inches from his face and looked at McGarrett. Clearly not happy with the ultimatum, but taking the lead detective at his word, the man let out a long exasperated sigh and took a couple of steps back, bumping into the immovable Hawaiian detective, who narrowed his eyes to show his best unfriendly warrior expression. It was clear that the entire Five-0 ohana had gathered around to defend Williams, if only with their imposing physical presence. The head of the operation did nothing to stop Stuart’s intimidation – as a matter of fact, he seemed to be participating. The man stepped awkwardly around Kono and stopped on the other side of May’s desk.

 

“You realize that with no way to verify Beauprez’ testimony, it will likely be ruled  inadmissible should we decide to prosecute for some of the other crimes that have been uncovered.” Leveling his gaze back at Dan, Stuart spoke more softly now, knowing he was outnumbered and – not that he would ever admit it – wrong.

 

Dan, anger slowly subsiding, responded more softly. “Mr. Stuart, I would think that it would be better if we can find the real Henny Penny instead of letting Pete Beauprez drive us to the wrong conclusion – namely that we can’t disprove what he’s saying.”

 

The logic in Williams’ words caused the prosecutor’s eyes to register some realization that had not occurred to him before. “Yes, well that might be easier said than done. We don’t actually know what the man looks like.” It was clear from his less belligerent posture that the man did not disagree with the detective in principle.

 

“I have a couple of thoughts on how we might be able to track the little bird man down.” Dan replied. “I’ll let you know what I find out.”

 

The rational part of Stuart’s mind forced him to respond more reasonably despite the fact that he was still miffed about Williams’ earlier comments. “Okay, well – I guess I have to instruct the morgue to change the toe tag on our victim.”

 

He straightened his tie and, with only a brief glance at the stone expressions of the detectives – and even the secretary -- he left the office with no further comment.

 

As the outer door to the office drifted shut, Williams began to breathe easier. The eyes of his colleagues turned to look him over, and McGarrett, realizing that his hand was still on the detective’s chest, quickly pulled it away.

 

The boss’s eye brows arched as he snapped. “Danno!”

 

The detective spoke before his boss could finish berating him. “Steve, I’m sorry, but I’ve taken about all I’m gonna take from that guy.”

 

McGarrett frowned. “Danno, I support your position, BUT we never mention Walter’s hair to him!” He gave his detective the slightest wink as he stepped away and turned toward his office, accepting the messages from May’s outstretched hand.

 

“NOW you tell me,” Dan’s lip twitched as he suppressed a grin. Relieved that Steve wasn’t volcanically angry at him for erupting on the Attorney General, he looked over at Chin, who grinned broadly at him. Grateful to the man for his immediate presence at his side when the angry visitor began his attack, Dan returned the Chinese detective’s smile. Although it had been an unpleasant start to the morning, the incident had at least allowed for a not-completely-clumsy first post-explosion meeting between him and his boss. Now he could get on with the rest of his day.

 

“Oh, one more thing,” Steve turned to face Williams from his doorway. “You’re going to have to repair your relationship with Walter – you’re the new liaison to the Attorney General’s office.”

 

The thin smile was the last thing Dan saw as McGarrett’s face vanished behind the closing door. The detective’s jaw dropped open and his eyes grew large for a moment at the implication – the liaison job was yet another second-in-command duty! His eyes narrowed as he looked in the direction of the other officers, who turned away too quickly. Kono beckoned Chin to come with him so that he could fill him in on the interview with Nichols, and the two men disappeared into the Hawaiian’s office. Dan sighed and looked over at May as she answered her phone. She flashed a smile in his direction even as her attention returned to her job.

 

Dan groaned as he slipped into his office. So this is how it’s going to be… right down my throat…  He shook his head and let out a single sarcastic laugh.

 

All of the responsibility whether I have the authority or not!  

 

 

*****

 

 

“Some luck and no luck, Steve.” Chin’s voice was fuzzy as wind was included in his transmission to his boss.  “First, the car that Nichols says Dennis Keali bashed – I found another witness.”

 

“Somebody else saw Keali back into Trent Nichols’ car?” McGarrett was a little surprised. That would lend credence to Nichols’ story, and therefore provide him with a viable and understandable justification for the altercation with Keali in the parking lot.

 

“Yeah – a Mr. Won Cho, the building maintenance man at Nichols Construction, saw a man in a brown pick up truck drive into Nichols’ little yellow convertible sports car – he wasn’t sure of the model, but it was pretty new – I’ll check it out. Anyway, he says it looked to him like it wasn’t an accident – slammed right into the back of it, and then drove off.”

 

“Did Mr. Cho report this to Nichols?”

 

“No, Steve – I guess Mr. Nichols hasn’t treated Mr. Cho with too much respect, so Mr. Cho didn’t feel like he wanted to get involved.”

 

The head of Five-0 understood the witness’s attitude about the snobbish suspect, and moved onto the next topic. “You said some luck and no luck – I presume you just told me the some-luck.”

 

“Yeah – it’s been tough going trying to get information about Janice Nichols on the sly. But so far, I haven’t found a single acquaintance of Janice Nichols that will say she was having affairs with any of our victims.”

 

“Interesting, Chin – Kono’s fresh back from a visit to the Kava Club – he’s got a half dozen people who saw Janice Nichols dancing with Stanley Davis a few nights before he washed up on the beach. And we already know she met Dennis Keali through his sister.”

 

“Still got no link between Mrs. Nichols and Mark Gordon though.”

 

“Yeah, we could use that connection. Chin, you catch up with the head foreman out there – Gordon’s boss – his name is….” McGarrett paused to pull back the page in his notebook. “Joe Sandusky. I’m gonna have Kono talk to Keali’s sister – maybe she can shed some light on her brother’s beef with Nichols.”

 

Breaking the connection with Kelly, Steve stepped out onto the lanai. The focal point of the investigation up until now had been the prime suspect – Trent Nichols, the done-to husband. Wealthy… well-regarded for his high dollar contributions to community causes and political campaigns… very much into proper appearances… not exactly beloved by his employees…

 

Perhaps it was time to shift the spotlight onto the probable motive – Janice Nichols. Steve wondered why the woman had not come forward with some information. At least two men with whom she’d had trysts were dead – the men’s names had been widely reported in the news – it would be hard to believe she did not know. Did she not suspect her husband? Was she afraid he would find out about her infidelity? On the other hand, did she suspect him and fear that he would retaliate against her if she went to the authorities?

 

McGarrett hated to have political issues clog the wheels of an investigation, but he was not so naďve that he didn’t know that it was budget season – not a good time to make any high-profile mistakes – like executing a search warrant on a wealthy, respected member of the community – and turning up nothing incriminating. He rubbed his eyes as he thought of the vulture-like press searching for chinks in the armor of the various tax-funded organizations as the annual budget meetings got underway. There was never a good time to point a finger at a suspect without solid evidence to back it up, but to botch a case involving a well-connected man like Trent Nichols would be a particular bad move right now. Besides, he knew the press was going to have a different Five-0 story they would soon sensationalize.

 

In the back of his mind, he was already preparing to deal with the fallout from Danno’s appointment as his second-in-command. He recalled the weeks of press coverage the entire office – he and Danno in particular – had endured when the announcement came that he’d hired away the young detective from HPD. But he was braced for the onslaught of attention, and no amount of pressure or negative commentary from the media OR his boss would make him change his mind.

 

His thoughts turned back to the three dead men – Davis, Keali, and Gordon. To not act on behalf on the victims in the interest of political expediency was just not something McGarrett could do. His instincts told him that Mrs. Trent Nichols had information that would break this case open.

 

He decided that Five-0 alone, with no HPD backup, would execute the search warrant on the Nichols residence on the North Shore. They would be as discrete as possible, and, with any luck, Janice Nichols would see the advantage to her to quietly cooperate.

 

He looked at the clock on his desk… nine thirty. With any luck, they would be on the North Shore by noon.

 

 

*****

 

 

McGarrett fluttered a pencil in his fingers mindlessly as he stared at the document lying on his blotter. The only thing still missing was Williams’ signature. The head of Five-0 had taken every opportunity over the past couple of days to gauge his youngest detective’s mood. Still baffled over a completely new approach to the second-in-command dilemma, he considered making another direct attempt -- discussing the offer with his new, recalcitrant second-in-command in a less explosive fashion. Perhaps he’d chosen the wrong moment before.

 

Since his eruption on Walter Stuart two days earlier, Danno had seemed focused and even-tempered. He was obviously concentrating on better organizing himself and incorporating new duties into his day. Steve took great pleasure in the fact that he had not heard a peep from the detective about the liaison duty. The head of Five-0 was acutely aware of the Attorney General’s lingering bad attitude – and related bad behavior – toward Williams. It was to the young detective’s great credit that he had not reciprocated the older man’s attitude. McGarrett had considered intervening, but decided it was in the new detective’s long-term best interest to work it out on his own, and the more he got to know Danno, the more confident he became that his man would – in the end – find a way to overcome Stuart’s sour grapes.

 

The head of Five-0 suddenly found himself chuckling at the memory of the hair dye comment. Perhaps Walter will think twice before he attacks Danno again now that he knows Danno just might bite back!

 

Steve had to hand it to Williams – he could be quick to burn and, as a result, impulsive, but he certainly recovered quickly. A thought in the back of his head would not completely rise to the surface, but it persisted as a feeling. Perhaps there was a lesson for Steve McGarrett in there somewhere…

 

He re-focused on the paper before him. His decision was made.  I can be reasonable about this…no need to explode on the kid… 

 

He pushed the button on his intercom.

 

“May, are Chin and Kono back?”

 

“They just walked in.”

 

“Tell ‘em to get ready for a field trip to the North Shore. Is Danno back?”

 

“I’m back, Steve.” Williams was obviously standing with the secretary at her desk.

 

“Come on in.”

 

A pause ensued before the response came. “I’ll – I’ll be right in.” The detective’s wariness came right through the speaker at his boss.

 

Easy, McGarrett…. Easy…

 

Within ten seconds, Dan entered, and from his expression, McGarrett could see that he was tentative about the reason for the summons. With a faint smile, the older detective started on a different subject.

 

“Danno, I’m gonna need you to roll with us on the search of the Nichols’ residence. We need to keep this one in the family, so to speak.”

 

The young detective’s posture relaxed immediately, and he smiled. “Sure, Steve! No problem. They live up on the leeward side of the Koolau, right?”

 

“Yeah – all the way up Pupukea Road. We’ll take two cars as far as Waimea, since we’ll be heading in different directions after the search. You know that area…”

 

Dan injected enthusiastically. “Like the back of my hand!”

 

“We’ll take one car the rest of the way to further lower our profile. Can you think of a place we can park one of the cars for a couple hours?” McGarrett stood and pulled his suit jacket from the nearby rack.

 

Dan frowned in concentration for just a moment before the answer came to him. “Uh, yeah – there’s the Waimea Market on Ke Iki Road – it’s only a block or two from Pupukea.”

 

“The Waimea Market – yeah, that sounds good.” McGarrett could suddenly visualize the place – he recalled passing it on numerous occasions.

 

With that decided, and a less cautious detective standing before him, McGarrett looked back down at the paper on his desk and slid it off the blotter towards Williams, who took a step closer to properly focus on the page. It didn’t take the detective long to react – almost like he almost stepped on a mouse trap.

 

He gave his head a single, emphatic shake. “Steve, you can yell at me if you want, but I’m not willing to discuss this!” Williams braced himself for a fresh onslaught of anger as he slowly took a couple of steps backward, almost as if he were getting prepared to physically defend himself. 

 

The urge to react was there, but the older detective was determined to not have a repeat of the horrible scene from earlier in the week. He couldn’t help but grit his teeth as he responded tersely and moved toward the door. “Fine.” 

 

Still leery, Dan joined him in his egress. McGarrett flung the door open and could see Chin and Kono waiting for them by the front door.

 

As they swiftly passed May’s desk, frustration got the better of him, and Steve snapped an angry glance at the young man walking almost in lock step with him.

 

“Why are you so damn stubborn?”

 

For an instant Williams was inclined to take offense, but thought better of it as he snapped back defiantly. “I’m learning from the best!”

 

Surprise was quickly replaced by the angry, stone mask again, but the head of Five-0 did not respond further as they approached their colleagues, both of whom flinched internally at the exchange they’d just witnessed. Hopefully, it wasn’t going to be an unpleasant drive.

 

As the office door drifted shut in the wake of the Five-0 men, May shook her head and spoke out loud to the empty room. “Stubborn? Hmmph! That’s the pot calling the kettle black!”

 

 

*****

 

 

It was early afternoon when the two black Fords pulled into side-by-side parking spaces at the Waimea Market. Chin and Dan got out of one vehicle and joined Steve and Kono in the other. Before leaving the parking lot, Chin and Kono shared the results of their respective efforts of the morning. Chin’s discussion with Joe Sandusky had not yielded anything substantive. Sandusky thought it was possible that Trent Nichols’ wife had met Gordon only because of her occasional appearance at the office, but said he had never seen them in the same room. Kono’s visit with Leilani Keali Espinoza confirmed what McGarrett suspected – that she was certain her brother did not personally know Trent Nichols. Once again, that left Janice Nichols as the only connection. 

 

McGarrett had no sooner shifted his car into gear when the radio crackled with a patch from the medical examiner. The detective placed the car back into park as he addressed Doc Bergman.

 

“Doc, what’ve ya got?”

 

“Steve, I’ve got some definitive information for you.”

 

“Yeah, it’s about time!” McGarrett snapped, only half in jest.

 

The physician did not take flippant remark in the spirit in which it was intended. “Do you know the conditions under which my team and I have been laboring? We’ve been working in a refrigerator carefully cleaning the cement off of decomposing bodies!”

 

“Yeah, Doc, I heard – and I appreciate it!” The detective hoped he sounded properly contrite, but he didn’t dwell on it long. “So what fruits have your labors borne?”

 

“I know who killed Mark Gordon!”

 

The detectives exchanged looks of surprise at the good news, and McGarrett responded quickly. “Now THAT’S fruit! Go on!”

 

“Dennis Keali – the vic from the first foundation – killed Mark Gordon – the vic from the second foundation!”

 

The detectives listened intently as the medical examiner continued. “There was obviously a struggle – you’ll have to figure out who initiated it – each of the men had some of the other’s hair in their hands. In the end, Keali won – the knife in his pocket had blood matching Gordon’s type to its hilt. Gordon died as a result of blood loss from a major slice to his throat – thus lovely rust coloring of the cement around his body.”

 

“Good job, Doc! You couldn’t have timed it better – unless of course you could’ve figured it out a little sooner!”

 

This time the doc knew the head of Five-0 was not serious, but typical to his personality, Bergman retorted. “Next time, if you want me to walk on water, then don’t give me cement!”

 

The connection was broken from the other end, and McGarrett grinned only briefly before he began to ponder the significance of the revelation. “Okay, so Trent Nichols did not kill Mark Gordon – of course, that doesn’t mean that he didn’t kill Dennis Keali.”

 

“Maybe Nichols hired Mark Gordon to kill Keali, but Gordon lost the struggle, and Nichols had to step in and finish the job.” Dan offered a possibility.

 

“Or maybe Gordon and Keali were fighting over Mrs. Nichols.” Kono added.

 

The head of Five-0 sighed and folded his hands over the steering wheel. “Maybe… It seems like every piece of additional information in this case only serves to add another possibility.”

 

“Steve!” It was rare to detect excitement in the Chinese detective’s voice, but it was apparent at that moment. The other men snapped their heads in his direction, and then turned to look outside the car to see what had captured his attention.

 

A pale yellow Corvette convertible had whipped into the parking space directly across from where the detectives were parked. With the top down, it was easy to see the occupant take a brief look in her rear view mirror to freshen her lipstick. The striking, slender woman then stepped out of the car and strolled toward the market entrance. Her blonde hair was long, and kissed the belt of the floral mini dress she wore.

 

“Wow!” Williams exclaimed. McGarrett knew that Chin was excited about something entirely different than was his younger detective even as the Chinese detective in the back seat supplied the answer.

 

“That’s Mrs. Nichols – and look what she’s driving!” Chin was staring at the car. He’d never met the woman, but he’d seen the large photo of her and her husband in the reception area of the Nichols Construction office.

 

“The little yellow sports car.” McGarrett supplied softly. “It doesn’t look damaged at all, but there’s been enough time for them to have had it repaired.”

 

“Actually, Steve, Corvettes have fiber glass bodies, so any repair work is easy to spot from the inside. Heck, even if a section were completely replaced, there would probably be a hairline crack or some indication of stress on neighboring sections.” Dan spoke confidently about the subject – Steve was aware of his youngest detective’s interest in fast cars, but had never – until this moment – considered it a useful pursuit.

 

With a slow nod, McGarrett reacted to the education. “In that case, I’d love to get a look inside the trunk. If there’s damage, that’s one more thing that would take the wind out of the justification for our search warrant.”

 

“Hmm, WHAT IF she lets us look in the trunk WITHOUT a search warrant?” Dan posed, now looking the direction of the store front.

 

Kono replied, “What? We just walk up to her and say, hey, can we search your car?”

 

Dan cocked his head, and let out a laugh, “Not exactly – Hey! Is that her in the checkout lane?” The other two officers followed Dan’s finger to the far right side of the store, where they could see that Janice Nichols was standing in front of one of the cashiers as her groceries were being rung up.

 

Suddenly, Dan opened his car door and slipped off his suit jacket. As he unclipped his gun holster from his belt and removed his tie, he said quickly, “I need ten bucks!”

 

“What do you intend to do? Buy groceries?” Steve was intrigued, and reached into his jacket to get out his wallet. Dan ran both his hands through his hair quickly and he reached over and grabbed the ten dollar bill from his boss.

 

“I’m gonna get her to open the trunk for me!” He smiled and said, “I’ll be right back!”

 

He trotted to the front of the store and approached a grocery store employee, a young man, in his early twenties, in charge of assisting the customers with their groceries. The two detectives waiting in the car couldn’t hear the conversation, but it was clear that a deal was being made. After a thirty-second conversation, the young man took off the apron he was wearing and handed it to Dan, who in turn gave him the ten dollar bill. Dan quickly put on the apron, and just as he turned to enter the store, the very attractive Mrs. Janice Nichols sauntered out pushing her shopping cart. Dan was struck by her beauty, but did not delay in approaching her with the most winning smile he could muster.

 

“Can I give you a hand to your car?” Dan asked.

 

The woman, obviously used to male attention, stopped and regarded him for a moment before replying, “Ma’am?” was her response.

 

Confused, Dan, still smiling, wrinkled his nose, “I beg your pardon?”

 

“I was waiting for you to call me ma’am,” she responded with a smile.

 

Now clear on her meaning, Dan replied, “I have the feeling that a woman like you doesn’t like to be called ma’am.”

 

She let out a laugh, and nodded, “You are absolutely correct! I hate it! And yes, you may help me to my car.”

 

At that point, Dan took control of the shopping cart, and the woman fell in lock step right next to him, pointing at the convertible that Dan already knew she was driving. The other Five-0 detectives exchanged intrigued glances as the woman dropped a few paces behind and looked Dan up and down as he progressed toward her car. Dan stopped the cart by the trunk of the car, and trotted around to the driver’s side door and dramatically opened the door for her. She made a point of brushing against him as slid into the car.

 

“May I have the keys to your trunk?” Dan held out his hand.

 

Instead of just handing them over, Janice slid them into the ignition, and then replied, “Why don’t you just lean over and take them?”

 

The innuendo was not lost on the detective, and he smiled and leaned into the driver’s area. His face was no more than four inches from hers as he snatched the keys. He lingered for a moment as she licked her lips. With a very deliberate sigh, he backed away slowly, pausing only briefly before moving to the trunk of the car. He shot his colleagues a large-eyed glance as he moved to open the trunk. He did a quick visual inspection of the inside of the trunk door as he slowly put the groceries into the car. Unable to spend anymore time on the effort, he closed the trunk and walked around to the driver’s side of the car to hand the woman her keys.

 

She grabbed his hand along with the keys and did not let go, so he leaned his elbows on the door. She said, “So, what time to you get off?”

 

“In a few hours,” was Dan’s casual reply as he watched her studying him. She nodded and tilted her head. As she spoke, her hand reached up and, with her index finger, she lightly traced the outline of his lips. He felt a little embarrassed and annoyed with himself that, despite the deception he was perpetrating and the knowledge that she was a married woman, an attraction came easily to him.

 

“My husband won’t be home this evening, and I’d like to have some help – uhh, cleaning my swimming pool, if you’re interested.”

 

Dan swallowed, and asked, “What time and where do you live?”

 

“Six o’clock – I’ll just pick you up here. Bring your swim trunks – or not,” she said seductively.

 

He smiled back, “I’ll be waiting. Oh – what’s your name?”

 

She responded without hesitation. “Call me Mary, and I’ll call you Tom.”

 

When she relinquished the hold on his hand, he saw that he was holding a twenty dollar bill. He stepped back, and she pulled through the empty parking spot in front of her and sped off. Dan walked slowly to the front of the store. Once inside, he removed the apron and, since the bag boy was nowhere to be seen, he left the apron at the first checkout lane.

 

When he came out of the grocery store, he found that Steve had pulled up to the front of the store. He glanced around before sliding into the back seat that he’d vacated a few minutes before. The three detectives stared with surprised, open-mouthed smiles at Dan, who said nothing as he handed Steve the twenty dollar bill.

 

When no explanation was immediately forthcoming, McGarrett snapped, “Well?”

 

“I think the bag boys here make more money than I do,” Dan grinned, his mood improved from his stroke of good luck with Janice Nichols.

 

McGarrett rose to the bait and let the impulsive query fly, but regretted the words almost before he was finished saying them. “Maybe you’re looking for a career change?”

 

Dan hesitated. He knew immediately that the words were meant in jest without the weight the same question made in earnest would have, but he couldn’t help but feel that his boss might be wondering that very thing. With a hesitant laugh, he looked down and admitted deliberately. “No, I… uh, I like my job.”

 

When McGarrett did not respond immediately, Williams looked up to meet the man’s gaze. Steve was grateful that Dan had managed to recover gracefully from the inadvertent loaded question he’d posed. The brief meaningful visual exchange somehow made both men feel a little better.

 

“Well then give!” Steve snapped at last, anxious to get past the awkward moment and learn what transpired.

 

“Okay, okay. First, there’s no way that car has ever been in an accident. I can’t see signs of stress anywhere.” Dan confirmed.

 

McGarrett frowned as he digested the information, but said nothing.

 

Kono verbalized his own questions with a confused grimace. “So what does that mean? That Keali did not hit the car? Was Trent Nichols lying? Maybe Mr. Cho lied to back up his boss’s story?”

 

A answer that fit the facts suddenly struck Steve. The expression of concentration was replaced with a satisfied grin. “No! Nobody lied – about the car anyway! Keali told his sister that it was over – presumably he meant the fling with Janice Nichols. What if she ended it because – for whatever reason – she has a propensity for one-night stands? That might’ve been enough to anger Keali into smacking into her car!”

 

“But that car wasn’t damaged, Steve,” Dan reiterated, confusion at the explanation apparent on his face.

 

“But maybe ANOTHER car was!” Steve fired back quickly.

 

”Well, how many little yellow sports cars has the guy got?” Williams pushed back again.

 

“Steve’s right!” The Chinese detective joined in the debate, as he quickly leafed through several pages of his notebook. The information he found confirmed his statement, and he looked his boss, who was now craning his neck to see what was going on directly behind him. “That’s not the same car! I checked out the registration information on the car in question right after I talked to you this morning. Trent Nichols has a brand-new 1967 yellow Corvette. The license plate is NC-1 – pretty easy to a remember.”

 

McGarrett had to grin. “Now, that was not the license plate number that was on the car that just pulled out of here.”

 

“And that car was NOT a 1967 Corvette – it’s a 1964!” Dan nodded at his boss.

 

“We’ll check it out, but I suspect this one must be registered under Mrs. Nichols’ name.” McGarrett could feel they were on the verge of the breakthrough they’d need for this case. “So we have two yellow Corvettes – different model years – yes, but only a trained eye would know the difference.”

 

Dan accepted the compliment with the slightest grin, but did not want to interrupt his boss’s train of thought.

 

McGarrett continued. “Keali pulls into the Nichols parking lot to collect his sister one day shortly after Janice has kicked him to the curb. He spots what he thinks is her Corvette, and lashes out angrily without a thought of who might be watching. That might even be how Trent Nichols found out about his wife’s relationship with Keali.”

 

“So where does this leave us, boss?” Chin scratched his head and put his notebook away.

 

“This leaves us still needing to get inside Janice Nichols’ head.” McGarrett responded as he recalled that he was not finished questioning Williams about his experience with the woman.

 

He turned to address the detective, but Kono remembered the subject at the same time. He twisted as far as he could in the seat to address Williams, directly behind him. “So what happened with the wahine?”

 

Dan glanced at the Hawaiian detective, but directed his answer to Steve. “I have a date.” 

 

Pleasantly surprised at the serendipitous turn of events, Steve wanted clarification. “She invited you into her home?”

 

Dan shrugged, “She wants me to help her clean her pool. I’m supposed to call her Mary, and she’ll call me Tom.”

 

“Well, that really drives home her interest in short-term relationships! A discrete, pool-cleaning service. Of course, you’re going to request a tour of the house, and maybe have a little chat over a drink before you clean anything!” McGarrett returned. 

 

“Of course,” Dan agreed.

 

Before the Williams could say another word, concerns about the evening entered his boss’s head. “Chin, find out where Nichols is going to be this evening – we don’t want Danno to end up in cement overshoes!”

 

The three detectives laughed and agreed, but the unspoken realization hung in the air – that they were dealing with a vicious murderer, who would probably not flinch at killing again. As long as they had a handle on Trent Nichols’ whereabouts, McGarrett had a sense that his detective would be able to take care of himself, but he was compelled to clarify his instructions to the young man.

 

“So, Danno, if you can give the house and grounds the once-over, and then get the heck out of there – without committing adultery – we’ll be ahead of the game.”

 

McGarrett’s admonishment was taken in stride by Williams with a confident grin. “Give the house the once-over – check. No adultery – check.”

 

 

*****

 

 

Janice Nichols pulled up to the side of the market at six ten in the same Corvette in which she’d done her shopping earlier. Dan, dressed in cobalt blue swim trunks, a blue and green luau shirt and thongs, was compelled to give the muscle car an envious once-over before he spoke to the driver.

 

“This is some cherry ride – a 1964! Does it have the three seventy five horsepower engine?”

 

Her inviting smile made her all the more beautiful as she gave an exaggerated sigh. “I push on the thin peddle on the right to make it go, and the thick peddle on the left to make it stop. That’s about all I can tell you.” She suddenly climbed over the stick shift and plopped into the passenger seat. “Would you like to make it go?”

 

Dan’s eyes lit up and he slipped around the back of the vehicle and hopped into the driver’s seat without bothering to open the door. He shifted the car into gear and gunned it out of the parking lot, with only the most passing glance at Kono, who was slouched down in his black LTD.

 

McGarrett had given each detective explicit instructions. The Hawaiian detective was to remain in the area until Williams contacted him. Chin was to ascertain Trent Nichols’ plans for the evening to insure that the suspect did not return home to find Dan with his wife. The Chinese detective verified through his office that Nichols was en route to an amateur golfer’s award dinner at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki. To insure that he showed up, Chin was already at the Royal Hawaiian awaiting the arrival of the suspect. Lastly, Dan was to call him as soon as he rendezvoused with Kono. Ultimately, they all knew that the search warrant would have to be used, but if Dan could come up with something solid that pointed to Trent Nichols’ guilt – whether or not it would be admissible in court -- they would, because of the greater likelihood of finding incriminating evidence, execute the search warrant with a more intense – and intrusive – effort. 

 

As they drove up Pupukea Road to Nichols’ residence, Jan rested her hand on top of Dan’s hand, which remained on the stick shift. The detective pretended – although he didn’t have to pretend too hard   to be absorbed in the pleasure of driving the over-powered convertible in order to avoid any physical entanglement with his very aggressive passenger. This ploy seemed to stay the woman’s advances as they made they way to the large ranch-style house perched on the hillside. Steve had cautioned him to have an exit strategy, and he decided that he would stall as long as he could, possibly by being enamored with the opulence that no doubt awaited, and then get cold feet when no other alternative was obvious.

 

As they pulled into the large, circular driveway, Dan immediately hopped out of the car and whistled. “Wow, what a place! How ‘bout a tour?” He nestled the most winning smile he could muster in an innocent expression, hoping she wouldn’t be suspicious of the request. His concern was unfounded, and she agreed without any sign of hesitance.

 

Do all of your boyfriends ask for a tour, lady?

 

 

*****

 

 

“Okay, you’ve had the grand tour WITH the special closet peek detours! Now it’s my turn to take a tour.” As Jan spoke, her hand traveled lightly up Dan’s chest and neck, and she ran her finger around his ear, and then into his hair. The detective could feel his heart rate start to climb as he wondered whether there was a way to extricate himself from the situation and still have a little time to look around. He hated the thought of leaving without finding anything that would give Steve enough information to make a decision about the search warrant. She moved toward him suddenly and pressed her lips to his in almost desperate passion. Caught off guard only momentarily, Dan pulled her away from him and quietly thanked his amakua for the noise he thought he heard.

 

He cocked his head to listen, and motioned for the surprised – and close-to-offended – Jan to be quiet. She complied, but her expression told Williams that she was not willing to stay silent for very long as he strained to hear the noise again. The sound that had caught his attention was a muffled thud – the first thing that came to mind was a car door closing. Only the sound of a massive grandfather clock in the foyer greeting their ears now. Whether the earlier noise was relevant or not, it gave him a tactic to minimize any more intimate contact with Mrs. Nichols. 

 

“Did you hear something?”

 

“No, I – I didn’t hear anything.” She frowned.

 

“Where exactly is your husband?” His wariness was not entirely an act – after all, at least two of this woman’s lovers were dead.

 

She relaxed again as she realized that the young man with her was only concerned about someone walking in on them. “Who knows… but it doesn’t matter. He doesn’t care.” She smiled again.

 

Surprised at the statement, Dan couldn’t hide his skepticism. “He doesn’t care? You know, Mary, I find it very hard to believe that any husband with a wife like you would not care what she was doing with another man in their bedroom.”

 

The apparently candid opinion of her would-be lover somehow broke the mood for her, and the smile slowly disappeared from her face and she looked away. “He cheats on me all the time – he actually has a girlfriend that he treats more like a wife than he treats me.”

 

This unexpected admission brought a genuine look of pity onto Dan’s face. He now partially understood the woman’s motivation for cheating, but it seemed to him there were better, more respectable ways of dealing with her husband’s infidelity.

 

“Well, why don’t you just leave him?”

 

“I can’t. The only thing in my life over which I have any control is my body – and I don’t always have that.” Her expression turned a little bitter. He wasn’t sure what to say, but didn’t have time to muse on it as she grabbed his hand. “Let’s go out to the pool.”

 

The detective had a sense that she was telling him the unvarnished truth – he was, after all, in her mind a non-threatening one-night stand who would leave her life in short order, any secrets that she revealed still safe.

 

Relieved at Jan’s change in disposition, however temporary, he was also glad to have the opportunity to take a look around the back of the house. Williams’ eyes were drawn to the disarray on the left as the pair stepped out into the warmth of the evening sun. There was an elaborate, but only partially-complete garden bed. A six-foot high, two-tiered fountain, molded from cement sparkled with embedded sea shells – it rested on the edge of the patio, apparently so that it would be out of the way for some future effort with a small backhoe parked in the grass. The large kidney-shaped pool was surrounded by a flagstone patio, which extended a good forty feet, Dan estimated, to an ornate, black rod-iron fence no more than four feet high. Tall, black tiki-style torches were strategically placed around the perimeter of the property. The detective let go of Jan’s hand and walked to the fence. The view to the distant North Shore beaches where Dan loved to surf was breathtaking – it made him wish he could stand there for one more hour until the sun set – he was certain that the sight would be even more spectacular without the excess light obscuring some of the spectacle. Briefly regretful that he was merely an actor in an illicit play – that Jan was not just a fun-loving, single woman in search of a fling – he turned to look at the woman who’d just joined him at the fence.

 

Seeing no avenue of escape, he decided the best approach was to simply tell her a half-truth – that he didn’t feel right about committing adultery. “Uh, look, Mary-”

 

“Janice!” A shout from inside the house made both of the people on the patio almost jump out of their skin. “Where are you?”

 

“Your husband?” Dan whispered – he was horror-stricken at the thought of being caught with another man’s wife – especially that of a suspect in an active murder investigation.

 

The gruff masculine voice called again. “Janice!”

 

She’d turned her head in the direction of the house, but when she looked back at Williams, the fear was evident in her eyes. “Uh, yes, yes – it’s my husband.”

 

With no time to come up with a more palatable plan, Dan quickly climbed the fence and jumped to hide below the patio level. He cursed to himself as both of his thongs were flung from his feet by the energetic leap and subsequent athletic grab at the bottom of the fence, which prevented him from tumbling head-over-heels down the steep hillside after his foot wear.

 

“Out here!” The feminine voice called.

 

Within seconds, the man’s voice spoke again, this time from somewhere on the patio. “There you are, darling. I got worried when you didn’t show up at the club.”

 

“I thought you didn’t like me going to the Kava Club.” Her voice sounded a little nervous to Dan – he fervently hoped that Trent Nichols would not notice.

 

Williams could hear movement no more than ten feet from his precarious position. The pain in his hands and feet began to intensify as the sharp igneous rock began to dig into his flesh. 

 

There was a break in the conversation and Dan could tell that at least one of the people had moved to stand directly above him. He took in a breath slowly and let it out as silently as he could.

 

“What is that smell? It reminds me of—aftershave.” 

 

Dan didn’t think the tension in his muscles could get any tighter until he heard Trent Nichols possibly growing suspicious of his wife’s activities – the man was so close to his position that Williams could smell HIS aftershave.

 

“Aftershave? I think your sniffer is out of whack. You must be smelling some of the new plant cuttings over here.” It was a fair lie – not a great one, but it beat the heck out of okay-you-caught-us, the detective decided.

 

Dan sensed that the man was evaluating the explanation as he stood apparently immobile for several seconds. The silence became almost painful before the rustling of pants gave an indication that Nichols was moving away from his position along the fence.

 

Jan’s voice trailed off slightly, which put her in motion toward the garden area as she continued with a segway to a different subject. “And that reminds me – is that horrible man Gordon ever going to come back and finish the soil conditioning?”

 

The mention of the third victim almost made the detective loose his footing on the thin ledge. His bare shins scraped along the rock for several inches before he was able to get a decent toe hold. Fiery pain shot up his legs as the air hit the wounds, but he held his breath in rapt anticipation of a response from Trent Nichols.

 

Williams was in for a yet another shock that nearly dislodged him from the cliff-face again.

 

Jan cried out. “You’re hurting me! Please… don’t!”

 

Not willing to let the brute batter his wife, Dan realized the jig was up. He quickly pulled himself higher on the rocks until he could grab the bottom of the fence. There he hesitated as he now had an clear view of the couple about twenty five feet away. Trent Nichols, with his back to Williams, had Jan’s wrist in a vice-like grip, and had twisted it towards him so that she was pulled only inches from his face. Tears streamed down her face as he held her in that position and studied her face.

 

“You haven’t had company here this evening, have you, darling?” His tone was vicious and Dan braced himself in preparation for scaling the fence back onto the patio.

 

“No, no,” she whimpered. “I was just thinking about making some dinner – I went to the market today…” He voice trailed off and she closed her eyes.

 

Trent Nichols’s third-degree style stare didn’t waver from the shaking, tearful woman for several moments. Finally, he let out a slow breath and began a visual survey of the patio. Dan let go of the fence and dipped below ground level to hide again. Another painful, silent wait lasted about thirty seconds. Williams was relieved, but a little surprised at the change in the man’s tone when next he spoke.

 

“Well then, darling, dinner sounds marvelous. Why don’t you bring me a drink before you get started?”

 

Your usual?” Came the timid response.

 

“Oh let’s throw caution to the wind and be different tonight – I’ll have a vodka gimlet.”

 

Dan carefully repositioned himself to give his tiring muscles a break and waited four or five minutes. All the while, thoughts of the wife-beating, low-life persona that Trent Nichols obviously kept hidden from the world roiled in his mind. Dan was not up on all of the details of the Davis-Keali-Gordon case, but he did recall that there had been no visible connection between Janice Nichols and Mark Gordon. Until now!

 

He heard the hi-fi come on somewhere in the house, and ice being rattled in a glass not too far away. Finally, he pulled himself up enough to get a view of the scene on the patio. Trent Nichols was relaxing on the chaise lounge near the house. Drink in one hand, his attention was focused on a newspaper folded to an article.

 

Dan lowered himself cautiously, and decided that Janice Nichols was no longer in immediate danger. He looked back over his shoulder, and knew that the only way he was going to leave his cliff-side hiding place was to go downward, and further that it was best to do it while it was still light. Carefully, choosing his steps to minimize injury to his bare feet, he had to use his hands to make it down the steepest part of the rocky – and thorny – hillside.

 

One minute into the treacherous descent, as Dan tried to find a solid place to set his foot, a chunk of rock broke away under his weight, leaving nothing between the detective and a twenty-foot tumble to the nearest ledge, into which his body smacked with shocking brutality. It took him several minutes to mentally reacquire his circumstance and take physical stock of himself. He didn’t think he’d blacked out -- the sun seemed to be pretty close to the same place it had been when last he noticed it. His hand momentarily rested on a damp knot the diameter of a golf ball on the side of his head. The wound seemed to be a scrape and not causing profuse blood-loss though. Thankful all the fall added was a few more scrapes and bruises, he continued his trek with even greater caution.

 

Fifteen minutes later, he made it to Pupukea Road. He knew he was probably quite a sight, in his swim trunks and torn luau shirt, barefoot, bleeding from his shins, hands, and feet. Despite his physical discomfort, he bypassed several homes, fearing that the Nichols might be friends with their distant neighbors on the road to their house. It was better to make a call from a pay phone that he’d noticed on the exhilarating drive up the road. To his relief, no cars passed him on his hike. He stepped into the phone booth, now completely exhausted, and requested an emergency connection to the HPD dispatcher. He knew Kono was patiently awaiting his return in the Waimea Market parking lot, and so requested a patch to his Hawaiian colleague. As he waited for the connection to go through, he realized that the sun had set a few minutes earlier, and Dan found himself wondering whether anybody was enjoying the view from the Nichols Patio.

 

 

*****

 

 

Initially uneasy because he didn’t see anybody when he pulled up and parked at the pay phone where Dan had indicated he would be waiting, Kono got out of his car to find Dan slouched on the floor of the booth. Williams insisted that his injuries were not serious, but the big Hawaiian was not about to risk bringing McGarrett’s wrath down on him for not taking proper precautions with his future (or current – Kono wasn’t certain) second-in-command. So the Hawaiian detective, over Dan’s objections, contacted the head of Five-0, still at the office, and neutrally reported his colleague’s cut, scraped, and beleaguered condition.

 

“You heard me, Kono! Get him to the emergency room – I’ll have Bergman meet us there! McGarrett out!” The head of Five-0 had repeated his command so that there was no doubt in the mind of his subordinate that he was not to let Williams talk him out of the trip to the hospital.

 

Dan frowned. “Like I need to have Bergman start in on me tonight!”

 

“I’m not gonna argue with the boss about it, Danny,” Kono responded with conviction. As he pulled back onto the road, he glanced over at his drained passenger, who leaned his head onto the door frame of the vehicle and closed his eyes. 

 

Dan just didn’t feel up to a big argument, but he groused one last time despite the futility of it. “I don’t need a doctor – just a few band aides, aspirin, and some rest.”

 

Doc’ll take care of ya, bruddah.” The driver’s resolve remained firm.

 

 

*****

 

 

As promised, both McGarrett and Bergman were waiting at the emergency room receiving bay for Kono to arrive. Only Steve McGarrett, the driver mused, could wear an expression of intense concern and simultaneously look furious. The head of Five-0 ripped around the front of the LTD almost before Kono stopped, and yanked the passenger door open. Dan did his best to not look as completely miserable as he felt. He thought he must’ve taken surfing spills that left him worse off, but he couldn’t actually remember being quite so scraped up.

 

“Danno!”

 

“I’m all right, Steve – just a few scratches.” Williams knew his boss wasn’t convinced and in fact the man did not appear to be listening to him at all. Instead, he was taking his own physical survey of the damage as he helped Dan out of the car.

 

The next unwelcome comment came from Doctor Bergman as McGarrett moved to one side to give the physician an unobstructed view of his patient.

 

“Danny, look at you! What a mess!” Bergman glanced back sourly at two attendants who appeared, as if on queue, from the ER doorway with a gurney. They started to approach, but Dan held up his hand. He already felt like a kid who’d messed up his Sunday clothes playing in the mud.

 

“I can walk!” He tried not to snap, but had the feeling he might not have succeeded. With McGarrett and Bergman hovering nearby, he managed to make it to a bed inside, where he gingerly lay himself down.

 

His tense expression told the tale better than his words both the older detective and the doctor knew. He insisted that he looked worse off than he was – that he was merely scraped up, but Bergman was displeased about the knot on the young man’s head.

 

As the doctor evaluated his patient and began rinsing wounds, horizontal on his back except for two pillows under his head, Dan, with no prompting, immediately began giving his report of the incident to Steve and Kono. His voice harbored no signs of stress, and only the indication of pain was the occasional gasp or grimace as the physician worked. He would pause momentarily here and there to take a sip of juice which Kono accepted from a nurse at the door. The only medical person that McGarrett allowed to remain in the room during Williams’ report was Doctor Bergman – there would be no leaks to the press from Five-0.

 

Dan did his level best to accurately report all of the relevant facts he could remember – until he came to the part of his story that found him clinging to the cliff-face and his subsequent tumble. He offered no more than three sentences about it before he decided he’d said enough. He could see that his boss was eyeing him skeptically, but offered no additional information.

 

“Boy, that Trent Nichols sure is a jerk.” The sound of the man’s voice as he took pleasure in the pain he was inflicting on the much-smaller, terrified woman in his grip still rang in Dan’s head.

 

“And that’s the good part about him,” Kono agreed.

 

“From what you witnessed, Danno, does your gut tell you that he would be willing to kill someone in jealousy?”

 

McGarrett almost hated to ask any more questions of the detective until he’d gotten some rest, but he wanted to have the benefit of more than the fact of what his detective had seen and heard. He wanted spontaneous impressions – things that could not be used in a court of law, but could indicate whether they were on the right track. Williams did not let him down.

 

“Oh, yeah, Steve – the guy I saw would have no problem murdering somebody for their parking spot – and his wife knows it too. I think that’s why she’s so afraid to leave him. One thing’s for sure – she didn’t expect him – and neither did I.” He grimaced as the physician hit a particularly tender area before he finished thought. “What happened anyway?”

 

“Chin says that Nichols’ car is still at this minute parked in the garage at the hotel, so for whatever reason, he found another way home.”

 

McGarrett’s explanation came through grit teeth as he watched Bergman scrubbing one a gash on Dan’s hand with Betadine antiseptic soap. Steve felt more than a little angry at himself. The suspect’s surprise early departure from the hotel and subsequent temporary abandonment of his vehicle could have gotten his newest detective seriously injured – or even killed. 

 

Even exhausted and hurting in places he didn’t know could hurt, Williams could tell that his mentor was disturbed about the unexpected twist, and he suspected it was because of the danger into which he had been unwittingly thrust. Dan opened his eyes and met with a pained and pensive expression from his boss.

 

It’s okay, Steve – we learned a lot from this.” Dan reassured the man as best he could.

 

McGarrett stepped closer to the head of the gurney, not surprised, he decided, at his protégé’s acceptance of what had transpired – there was no hint of recrimination in his voice – only a curiosity to know what had gone wrong.

 

Danno was right, Steve mused – it had been a traumatic, painful, and far more dangerous experience for the detective than they anticipated, but it had yielded a wealth of information without putting Five-0 in a delicate position. Jan Nichols’ reasons for cheating – a way of lashing out at her philandering, abusive spouse… Trent Nichols’ display of violent jealousy and his obvious knowledge of his wife’s indiscretions… Jan Nichols’ mention of Mark Gordon and her dislike for him – a fact that certainly lent credence to Dan’s theory that Mark Gordon had been hired to take care of Jan’s lovers. McGarrett had taken his time, but at last nodded in recognition of and agreement with the point of Dan’s remark. Suddenly feeling an order of magnitude better, he turned and told Kono to go home – there was nothing left to be done tonight.

 

The next few minutes were spent in silence as Bergman finished dressing the wounds. Dan seemed to be asleep, and McGarrett leaned on the wall nearby and pondered his next steps.

 

Danno’s sojourn further incriminated Trent Nichols, but if he’d hired Mark Gordon to do his dirty work, it was likely that they would be better served by taking a harder look at Gordon. They would review the records from the search of Gordon’s apartment  unfortunately, the man’s landlord cleaned and rented out the apartment in short order after the initial search without the consent of the police. Gordon drove a Nichols company pick-up truck, so he wasn’t hopeful about finding any evidence in it, but he made a mental note to have Chin check into it. The bottom line so far was that he still didn’t have any definitive evidence against Trent Nichols.

 

“Danny, you still with me?” Bergman looked up at his patient, shirt gone but still in his swim trunks, as he secured the final dressing to a scrape on Dan’s foot..

 

Slightly startled that the silence at been broken, Dan opened his eyes. “Hmm, yeah, I’m okay. “When can I go home?”

 

“I’d rather keep you overnight for observation.” Bergman braced himself for the inevitable objection.

 

“Doc, that’s just NOT gonna happen.” The detective wasn’t loud about it, but he was firm.

 

Bergman frowned but did not look up as he wrapped the white medical tape all the way around the detective’s foot. “Why do you have to be so stubborn?” 

 

Dan had to grin at the rhetorical question, and McGarrett moved from his vantage point on the wall to the head of the gurney. The two detectives looked at each other, recalling their terse exchange earlier in the day.

 

McGarrett’s eyes did not leave the prone detective and his lip twitched to avoid an outright grin. “He’s got a good teacher.”

 

Dan decided that it was funny how an insult could turn into a compliment in the space of twelve hours. “Give the pupil some credit please.”

 

The physician realized he was missing something that made him fail to appreciate the conversation, but he had the definite sense that McGarrett was going to take Williams’ side. Bergman picked his battles carefully with the Five-0 detectives. An overnight stay would be a good precaution, but his patient showed no signs of a concussion, and it was clear that the young man’s faculties were intact. He sighed and shrugged.

 

“Fine – take him home! Any blurred vision or dizziness, bring him back! And no more cliff diving!”

 

 

*****

 

 

“What’s the next step?” Dan asked. “A talk with Janice?”

 

“Yeah.” The driver glanced in the direction of his passenger. It had been on McGarrett’s mind as well as he made his way from the hospital. “I’m afraid the eggshell approach just hasn’t been very effective – and now we’re gonna have to wait until at least Tuesday.”

 

Dan snapped his head in Steve’s direction and instantly regretted it as a wave of vertigo overtook him. He didn’t let that stop the question from flying. “Why can’t we go there tomorrow?”

 

Steve grinned as he pulled up in front of Dan’s building. “You’re not doing anything tomorrow – you going to convalesce. As for Mr. and Mrs. Trent Nichols – they will be out at sea tomorrow and Monday as sponsors for the Molokai Sailing Regatta. It was in the newspaper today.”

 

Briefly disappointed, Dan tried to find a bright spot. “Well, I guess they’ll be able to keep an eye on each other. I only hope Janice will be safe in the meantime.”

 

“He’s very into appearances, so I doubt he’d risk damage to his very beautiful young wife – especially with all of the cameras that will be around.”

 

McGarrett turned off the ignition, and Williams opened the car door to get out.

 

“Uh, Danno!” The head of Five-0 briefly grabbed the sleeve of the hospital scrub top in which Dan had been sent home, and Williams turned slowly – the lesson from a few moments earlier learned – and focused on his boss, who looked away before he spoke.

 

“Danno… I said something the other day that… that I, uh…”

 

Dan knew instantly to what McGarrett referred -- the painful you’re-letting-me-down epithet rang in his head for hours. He’d known – probably all along – that Steve didn’t mean it – that its basis was anger and his own pain. He looked back at the door handle, where his hand rested.

 

“Uh, yeah, I know you didn’t, uh…”

 

“No, no, I didn’t…too the contrary…”

 

“Uh, yeah, I know… it’s okay, really.”

 

“Okay, good then.”

 

The memory was painful to both men, for one because it hurt and for the other because he knew it hurt the other. Neither detective managed a glance at the other, but both felt satisfied that the subject had been dealt with and put to bed.

 

 

*****

 

 

“I AM convalescing – at my desk! The first budget meeting is tomorrow morning and I don’t wanna go into without at least reading the file you gave me!”

 

McGarrett eyed the detective, who was dressed casually in tan slacks and a short-sleeve, two-tone cream shirt. The only visible signs of his trauma the previous day were the bandages on his hands and one larger patch bandage on the inside of his right arm. Ever astute, the lead detective turned his focus to a paper positioned in the typewriter on the stand by Williams’ arm.

 

Dan followed his boss’s eye and slowly looked back up at the man standing in his doorway. He cursed silently – working for a detective had it’s drawbacks.  “I didn’t finish the monthlies yesterday, like I’d planned.” The trip to the North Shore and subsequent undercover operation had certainly messed up his agenda for the day.

 

“Just don’t convalesce too late,” McGarrett growled and turned to head into his office. Out of sight of his officer, he let a grin slip onto his face. Dedicated…

 

 

*****

 

 

Three forty five… McGarrett threw the sheet off of himself and climbed out of bed, disgusted. He’d looked at the alarm clock for the last time today. If he couldn’t sleep, then an early run would take its place. An early court date on a Monday morning didn’t bode well for a timely start to the proceedings, but he would still be there at eight thirty, vowing never to be the cause of a delay.

 

As he dressed for his run, his thoughts drifted back to the second-in-command issue. He’d been racking his brains to come up with another angle from which to approach the stubborn Williams. The memory of the previous evening in the ER intruded momentarily and made McGarrett smile as he tied his shoes.

 

He moved out onto his lanai and put his leg up on the rail to stretch his hamstring as he continued musing. It was going to take more than stating the obvious to Williams and then issuing an edict. Why the answer came to him then, he wasn’t certain – that it did, he was grateful. As the path became clear to him, relief filled him – relief for the respite from the intolerable befuddlement about the magic action he should take to solve the problem. He had not told Danno why he was the best choice for the job. He’d recited the detective’s abilities and capabilities, but Steve had not mentioned reasons – real reasons that the detective was imminently more qualified than perhaps anyone else on the planet to be his second-in-command.

 

He was going to have to make some personal admissions. Well, if there was ever anybody on the planet that Steve McGarrett felt he could share his feelings, it was Danno, whom he dubbed thus because of his affection for the young man and how he reminded him of a close childhood friend. After all, wasn’t his inclination to trust the detective how this whole thing started?

 

It hit him – Danno had a self-confidence problem, but that was not the thing that had prevented his plan from happening as he had laid it out – he had failed to trust. Now energized with a definitive course of action, he grabbed his keys and wallet and headed out the door.

 

 

*****

 

 

Typing… an electric typewriter ticked to the command of swift fingers despite the fact that there was no paper on which words were falling. Dan had a panicky sense that he was trying to complete a report, but was unable to make progress no matter how fast he typed. Suddenly, his hands knocked over a nearby coffee cup. It landed on the floor with – not a crash, but a knock – it bounced instead of breaking, knocking each time it hit the floor. Knocking…knocking…  Dan inhaled slowly and began to sense that he was horizontal… in his bed.

 

He opened his eyes and held still for a few moments in the darkness, acknowledging the dryness in his mouth and the muscles in his back that were crying out for a change in position. His stomach growled as he pondered the bizarre and nonsequiter dream, but his meditation was to last only a few seconds as the loud rap of knuckles on his front door – the same sound the coffee cup had made a few moments before – interrupted. His heart rate picked up as he looked at the alarm clock – Four fifteen. Not unaccustomed to being awakened by a phone call in the wee hours to respond to police emergency, a visitor at his doorstep was still disconcerting.

 

Oww!” His sore muscles objected to the sudden rise from his bed, and he could feel a scab or two crack as he moved to stand. The time and the nature of his profession made him slip his 0.38 from its sheath as he passed by the dresser. Revolver casually in hand, he tightened the draw string on the pale blue, pin-striped, cotton pajama bottoms he wore as he plodded to the door, being careful to not land too harshly on the mending foot. Had complete, alert clarity of thought been present, he might have inquired through the door before he opened it as to who had the temerity to be paying a visit at such an anti-social hour. As it was, a touch of annoyance drove him to unlock the door and pull it open.

 

Mildly surprised – and yet not surprised – Williams found himself looking at his boss, who was attired in a Navy blue sweat suit and tennis shoes, a sweat band perched on his hairline, apparently ready to go for a jog. Annoyance instantly vanquished , Dan quickly searched McGarrett’s face for a clue to the reason for his presence and simultaneously wondered whether he’d accidentally knocked his phone off the hook. Already an astute student of the moods and associated subtle facial expressions and body language of Steve McGarrett, he did detect a hint of tribulation. Only mildly relieved that he did not read a full-blown emergency, confusion made him squint as he addressed his visitor.

 

“Steve! What’s – what’s up? Come in,” Dan invited before any reply was offered. “Is anything wrong?”

 

Clearly, that had to be something wrong. It was rare to see hesitation in McGarrett, but there it was. He entered and did his typical suspicious survey of the room – Dan did not take offense at the action – he knew without thinking about it that it was second nature to the detective.

 

“Do I need to get dressed?” Still thinking that he was probably about to learn of an official duty that required his presence somewhere besides the comfort of his bed, he was anxious to hear what was going on.

 

“I woke you.”  Steve finally spoke as he turned to give a Williams a perfunctory inspection. The statement, Dan noted, was not so much an apology as an observation.

 

Dan couldn’t help but grin at the silly statement. “No, Steve, I’ve been lying awake in bed all night, waiting for somebody to knock on my door – I’m glad it finally happened – I’m exhausted.”

 

He slid around the bar in his kitchen, pulled the coffee pot to the faucet and began to fill it with water. The detective had a sarcastic wit that he rarely used out loud, and even more rarely in response to a comment from his boss. But the odd circumstance and the fact that he’d been able to sleep for a grand total of four hours (and it wasn’t looking too good for any more on this night) made him feel a little more free to say what he was thinking.

 

“Okay, stupid comment.” McGarrett admitted as he gravitated toward the lanai.

 

No more words were exchanged as Dan set the percolator to work before he slipped into his bedroom. His boss had something on his mind – a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach told him what it was – that would not wait until a respectable hour. But it would have to keep at least until he brushed his teeth and threw on some clothes. He returned a few minutes later wearing a tan t-shirt and grey sweat pants. He’d slipped on a pair of shorts, but changed his mind as he caught sight of the bruises surrounding the bandages on his shins – his boss did not need to be reminded of his injuries. Pulling two coffee cups from the dish rack, Williams filled them with the fresh, black brew. Just the drifting aroma of the coffee made him feel more alert – like he might be able to navigate his way through an early morning conversation with Steve. Carrying the cups and setting one for his guest on the coffee table, he moved to the sofa, and settled on the end farthest from the matching stuffed chair.

 

Sipping the hot beverage, he turned and rested his arm on the back of the couch to study his mentor, who leaned on the railing and looked off into the darkness as if he were searching for something on the horizon. Here, Dan realized, was a man who had such strength of conviction and incredible faith in himself that he just could not conceive of someone who did not. In the pit of his stomach, the young detective could feel it coming – another onslaught of you-can-do-this arguments from his tenacious, NOT-WRONG, thy-will-be-done boss. There was just no swaying the man with a reason that had anything to do with no experience. Williams had stubbornly – and when cornered, even angrily – rejected Steve’s case. But his resistance had not convinced McGarrett that he was wrong.

 

Here in the peaceful, too-quiet predawn hours, it occurred to Dan that butting heads with someone who would break before he would bend would be futile. He suddenly felt a little better as a way to manage the situation came to him. Agree or disagree, he wouldn’t fight back. If I bend, maybe I won’t have to break…

 

“Whatcha lookin’ for, Steve?” Dan called from his seated vantage point.

 

McGarrett heard the question and paused deliberately before he slowly turned to look at his detective. “I’m not looking, Danno – I’ve found it.” His voice was soft and the accompanying smile was atypically warm. He stepped back indoors from his reverie on the lanai and joined Williams on the sofa. He collected the coffee mug from the table and, in its stead, he propped his feet. He took a sip from the cup and then leaned his head back on the sofa, not looking over at Dan. “I’ve been going through it over and over in my mind. I’ve stepped through the facts… I’ve examined what my intuition is telling me…And I’ve asked myself more than once – could I be, for the first time in my life, putting the evidence together to form an incorrect conclusion? And each time, I decide all over again that the answer is no – I am not drawing a bad conclusion.”

 

He paused to take another drink, and then turned his head to look at Dan, who listened warily. The image of a rabbit leaning cautiously into a snare to reach the dangling carrot humorlessly popped into his head as his boss continued. “You – whether you believe it or not – are the perfect man to fill my second-in-command slot. I’m not gonna re-visit the cold, hard data on this situation. You’ve already stipulated that this information is true. But I want you to consider something before you tell me no again.”

 

McGarrett, relieved that Danno was listening instead of immediately objecting to the subject, pulled his feet off the table and leaned forward to rest his elbows on his knees. He spoke to the cup which he held in both hands. “Working for me is not always an easy job – I know that – and even more to the point, working closely with me, as a good second must, might be positively painful for— for many people. Not for you though – I think I see in you an incredible tolerance that will carry you    He sighed and quickly finished the sentence, “— through my more difficult moments.”

 

Dan was stunned at the man’s admission, and he studied him carefully. It was clear that Steve had not spoken the words lightly, nor had he said anything just to flatter. Williams was convinced that he was hearing un-censored thoughts.  

 

“Was Ray a good second?” The question just popped into Williams’ head.

 

McGarrett’s dislike for the man immediately colored the response that he wanted to share. Instead, he looked at the weeks immediately following Nohea’s retirement, and he had to make a confession.

 

“Ray and I did not get along very well. That fact was as much my fault as it was his – probably more. We had different philosophies – different ideas about how Five-0 should be run, The friction was there on a daily basis, and it had a detrimental effect on everyone in the office. That said, I can tell you that Ray did know how push the papers – you know – make sure we dotted our I’s and crossed our T’s.”

 

A smile flickered across Dan’s face as his typing dream pushed the rabbit into the background of his thoughts.

 

“I need someone in that slot whom I like and respect, and who reciprocates, so that when we disagree, we can work through it quietly and civilly without demoralizing the rest of the crew. I need someone whom I can trust completely and utterly. The line between professional and personal confidences are sometimes not clearly defined in this business. I’ll be with you every step of the way to support you however you require it.”

 

“You’ll be there every step of the way – until you’re not able to be there – and then I’m on my own.” The counterpoint slipped from Williams’ lips before he cold stop it. Benddon’t break…

 

“The day you’re truly on your own, you’ll be ready – trust me. All that stands between Danny Williams and one of the most coveted law enforcement positions in the South Pacific is the mere acceptance of the job. What do you say, Danno?”

 

There it was – the carrot again… He was tempted, but he was determined to not leap rashly into a decision that he would regret after he had another hour or two of sleep and some breakfast. He pursed his lips, briefly considering how to phrase his response, before he took a quick gulp of coffee and made eye contact with his boss. “You’re pretty compelling, Steve, I have to say – enough that I’d like to think about it.”

 

Progress! McGarrett cracked a thin smile. “What’s to think about? The crummy hours? The additional responsibility?” 

 

“I seem to recall getting a lecture in the recent past on the dangers of impulsive decisions.” Dan cocked his head, vividly recalling the tongue lashing McGarrett had meted out to him a few months previous for totaling his company car, and very nearly getting himself crushed in the process.

 

“Okay,” Steve held up his hand in concession. “Throw my own words back at me. Let’s talk tomorrow afternoon. You’re gonna be at the budget meeting today and tomorrow, and I’ve got a court date that might take all of both days. Let’s meet at the office around five o’clock.” Patience was not his strong suit, but it was clear to McGarrett that pushing any harder at this very moment would not serve him well.

 

It was a rare sight to see Steve McGarrett in such a calm and apparently-flexible temper and Williams paused just to take in the scene. The usual undercurrent of high-strung impatience seemed to be buried for the moment. 

 

The older detective took the silence as hesitance to accept the invitation, so he added. “We’ll grab some dinner and talk it through. You can toss me a problem, and I’ll toss you the solution right back.”

 

Dan was struck at that moment by the depth of Steve’s belief that he – Dan Williams – was the best choice for the second slot. 

 

The young detective slowly nodded, only a little fear creeping into his gut at the implication. “Yeah, okay, Steve, I’m willing to talk with you.”

 

McGarrett rose from the sofa, moved to the kitchen and set his coffee cup in the sink. Dan followed him to the door, where Steve paused as he struggled to think of any parting words of wisdom that would further sway the detective in his favor, but he could think of none that he hadn’t already said. With a light tap on Williams’ shoulder, the head of Five-0 slipped out the door. “See ya later.”

 

As he made his way to his car, Steve replayed his arguments and the young detective’s expressions as he spoke. He’d seemed receptive – McGarrett hoped that it wasn’t just sleep deprivation that had made him more agreeable. That Williams accept the position was important to him on levels he couldn’t quite quantify. And the fact that there seemed to be little else he could do between now and their next meeting to make that happen was frustrating. The rare feeling of helplessness made the head of Five-0 feel cornered. Trying to rid himself of the mental shackle, he told himself that he would play his hand out, and in the end, it wouldn’t matter how much faith he had in Williams. It would all boil down to Danno’s own confidence in himself. That train of thought brought the acid in his stomach farther up into his esophagus. He decided he’d better make it a long run today.

 

 

*****

 

Dan quietly closed the door and re-locked it after his boss left. He slid down its smooth, wood surface to sit on the floor. Dan had not expected to be swayed one iota from his intention to decline the offer, but the head of Five-0 had approached the subject from a different perspective this time. He argued his case from a personal point-of-view, admitting that his own weaknesses required an individual with complimentary strengths in the second spot. It was not a viewpoint that Dan had considered before that moment. The young detective was not so blinded by the man’s halo that he couldn’t see that Steve did have a personal shortcoming or two, but to Dan’s way of thinking they were fairly easy to deal with most of the time.

 

Dan ran his hand over his curls and cringed slightly as he inadvertently pushed a little too hard on the rapidly-shrinking lump on his scalp. Steve had given him a lot to think about, but the budget meeting was just a few hours away now. He would have to stay completely focused on that to avoid committing some faux paux that would no doubt be blast into the public eye and reflect badly on Five-0. The thought made his stomach boil, but he was resolute – he would not let Steve down. 

 

 

*****

 

 

Dan leaned closer to the mirror over his bathroom sink as he touched a spot on his chin. He was alone, but voiced his question loudly. “Is that a pimple?”

 

He slapped his head dramatically. “No! Oh that’s real mature, Williams!” It would be better if he had to walk into the budget meeting with a shaving cut than a sign that puberty might not be over for him.

 

Okay, well, there was nothing to be done about that. He moved to the closet and pulled out his freshly pressed black suit. It looked the most serious of his suits – and because he wore it the least often, it was in the best shape. He dressed quickly and decided against finishing off the coffee in the bottom of his cup as he headed out the door – one drip and he’d have to change his shirt.

 

He went to the Palace long enough to grab the notebook he’d left behind the day before, and to check his messages. With a quick greeting to May, he stepped into his office to see a gift-wrapped box. The package was flat and only a little longer than the tray in which it rested. He didn’t see a card as he slipped the black and gold striped paper off, and removed the lid. Laid out neatly between silver tissue paper were two silk ties – one burgundy with small gold diamonds on it, and the other grey with thin, ornate, silver stripes running diagonal to the weave. It was obvious the ties had cost as much as one of his shirts.

 

“It’s from Steve.” May offered as she stepped into his doorway. He turned and with a smile held up the two ties against his chest. She frowned in mock concentration for a couple of moments before she firmly pointed to the burgundy cravat.

 

“I can take a hint,” Williams was pleased and touched that the very busy head of the operation had gone to such trouble. He quickly loosened and removed the blue and grey tie he’d spent ten minutes selecting, and slipped on May’s choice for the day. The secretary adjusted the Windsor knot it for him and gave him a quick peck on the cheek. As he headed out the door, he felt well-dressed and confident.  

 

 

*****

 

The meetings were to be held in the largest of the three conference halls of the old ancillary state building, which was scheduled for a major overall within the next twenty four months. The structure had been built in early 1941. Subsequent damage during the attack on Pearl Harbor, sub-standard repair jobs, and numerous interior wall removals and additions had made the building a maintenance nightmare. Building code violations had piled up to the point where a judge finally ordered renovation or condemnation.

  

Seeing several members of the press on the front steps with microphones and cameras in the faces of three people who were no doubt budget meeting attendees, Williams gave little consideration to the state of the facility’s wiring as drove on by and parked one block away. Determined to maintain the lowest possible profile, he slipped into a side door of building, down a long hallway, and into the space of the state’s Office of Budget and Finance to sign the attendance roster. A cute, freckle-nosed young woman, bobbed red hair carefully coiffed, sat at the receptionist desk and offered him an inviting smile as he wrote his name and organization. On any other day, he might have stopped for a moment to chat, but today, the woman looked too young. Further intensifying the need for appropriate behavior was the signature of Walter Stuart three lines above his. He kicked himself internally for the hair dye comment, and accepted an agenda from the cheerful red head, who pointed him in the right direction.

 

He walked slowly to the large room under the guise of perusing the agenda – in reality, the wound on the side of his foot was still feeling pretty delicate. The sound of voices bantering and a little laughter here and there greeted his ears. The acoustics of the room were not the best, Williams could tell, as it sounded not unlike a gymnasium during a basketball game. A crowd… good… maybe nobody will even notice me…

 

He slipped through the propped-open side of the French doors and took in the layout of the room. At least fifty chairs were positioned before an elevated podium, and a six-foot work table to the right. The table with four glasses of ice water and a full pitcher atop had three chairs behind it ready to accommodate somebody. The windows along the far wall were too high to see out without something to stand on, so all they offered was ambient light.

 

Dan estimated that there were at least fifty people in the room at that very moment. They were milling around and congregating usually in groups of four or five, but there were sporadic pairs who seemed to be embroiled in secret conversations.

 

Not even a punch bowl where a guy can hover… Dan thought, beginning to feel like a guy who’d come to a dance without a date. Fine – he sighed and decided to read the agenda in earnest. It wasn’t more than thirty seconds into his study of the paper, when it registered that the noise level in the room had dropped a bit. His eyes lifted from the document and he casually panned around the room. Was it his imagination that people were looking in his direction? That group there… two men making eye contact with him before they looked away… A woman with her back to him looked over her shoulder and then quickly turned her head when she saw that he saw... And across the room – there was Walter Stuart, who caught sight of Dan at the same time the detective saw him – the Attorney General looked surprised only momentarily before an annoyed expression took over. Dan wasn’t certain, but he thought he rolled his eyes. If he didn’t feel awkward before – and he did – he most certainly did now. He gazed at the faces – everyone was so—so old. Grey hair was plentiful here – except for Walter, Dan mused humorlessly.

 

Fortunately, the speaker – an older woman, of course – with a conservative GREY suit stepped up, turned on the microphone, and announced that the meeting would begin. Relieved, Dan took a seat on the outer edge toward the back, the kind of place a church irregular would pick. Definitely feeling among the unfaithful, Dan concentrated on the words of the speaker. He took profuse notes as it gave him something to do with his hands and he wasn’t certain what Steve would find useful.

 

The morning session went fairly quickly. Lunch was catered, and Dan picked at a sandwich, but didn’t eat much. He spent some of his time observing the interaction of the various participants, and actually became engrossed in imagining what one particularly secretive group was could be plotting.

 

“So— ” The voice of Walter Stuart startled him, and he turned.

 

Hoping his reaction was not outwardly obvious, Dan recovered quickly with a neutral nod. “Mr. Stuart.” The detective wondered whether he should apologize for his less-than-professional comments to the AG.

 

“Your presence here reminds me that Steve is at the preliminary hearing for the Montoya case.”  The man folded his arms and continued as Dan nodded. “But I’m curious – why did he send you instead of Kelly or Kalakaua?”

 

Okay, no apology…

 

“I know why Mr. McGarrett sent Detective Williams, Walter.” Approaching was the morning’s speaker, the chairman of the Department of Budget and Finance. The woman – possibly in her mid-fifties, was slender and wore her long, brown and graying hair in a librarian-style bun at the back of her head. She was still quite attractive, but her features were severe – possibly Dan thought due to her overly-serious expression.

 

“Margaret Tewksbury.” She snapped crisply.

 

“Dan Williams.” Dan held out his hand – she looked with a cool smile, but did not extend her hand. He slowly pulled his hand back as her disposition registered with him.

 

“Detective Williams is an expert on the Hawai’i Revised Statutes.” Her dark eyes glanced at Stuart, but returned to pierce the detective with only thinly-veiled accusation.

 

A sinking feeling struck the detective as he realized that it was his accuser’s office to which Dan had responded with the RFAI salvo, which he’d signed and sent off so smugly. The you-know-what-you-can-do-with-your-request-for-information document… Can the day get any worse? Before he could organize an appropriate response, she spoke again.

 

“Am I to assume from your presence here that you’re now in charge of all issues pertaining to the Five-0 budget?”

 

“Oh, no, ma’am!” Dan eyes grew large and he jumped quickly to respond.

 

“Hmmm, I see.” The chairwoman’s knife-like gaze remained fixed on him for another few seconds. “Well, it’s time to get back to work.”  She spun quickly and started back toward the front of the room. Just as Dan began to let out the tense breath he’d been holding, she turned around again, now several feet from where he stood.

 

“Oh, Detective!” It was clear that he was being summoned, and he moved to join her, his brow slightly furled in question.

 

This time, Margaret Tewksbury extended her hand to Dan, who was taken off guard, but recovered quickly and grasped her hand. Only slightly shorter than Dan, she moved close enough to him to speak in a conspiratorially quiet tone.

 

“Don’t ma’am me!” Her eyes locked on his and she offered him another cool, thin smile.

 

Dan blinked. “Oh.. no—” He almost said “ma’am.” He shook his head, and then decided that perhaps a nod was more in order. “Okay.”

 

She nodded slightly, released the tight grip on his hand and, after the briefest emphatic visual threat, and left to return to the podium. Dan swallowed and glanced back to see the attorney general taking evil delight in his exchange with the chairwoman.

 

As he returned to his seat he couldn’t help but grin. If Walter Stuart only knew what he and Steve would be discussing the next day, Dan thought the man’s head might pop off. One more reason to listen to what Steve has to say…

 

 

*****

 

 

Dan was not accustomed to the clock-watching world of many of his government colleagues, and so was a little surprised when the first day of meetings ended at abruptly at four thirty, with a reminder that the Tuesday morning session would begin at nine o’clock promptly. Regretting he could not head to the beach for a nice, long swim – his rapidly mending wounds were not quite ready to be exposed to excessive moisture – he considered that he should probably return to the Palace for awhile. He passed through the French doors of the hall and found himself in the midst of a group of reporters, who were throwing questions at select meeting attendees as they made their egress from the room.

 

“Hey, Danny! So, are you McGarrett’s new front man?”

 

Williams thought he recognized the very loud voice before he turned to see the cocky, grinning face of Craig Willis. The loaded question and its aggressive delivery made every other reporter and attendee in the vestibule turn their eyes on the detective, who allowed his McGarrett-issued press mask to slip only slightly in annoyance.

 

“Craig, what are you doing here with all of the reputable journalists?” Williams stressed the word, “reputable.”

The dig at the reporter, who was in fact recognized by most of the media people present as a lower-rent member of their profession,  caused a flurry of chuckles. Willis, completely accustomed to verbal slurs, remained unflustered.

 

“You didn’t answer my question!”

 

Another reporter didn’t wait for a response. The woman asked a question in the same vein.

 

“Where is Mr. McGarrett?”

 

Dan looked at her, and responded politely. “He had a court hearing today.”

 

A flash bulb or two went off, but Williams was steeled for that, and so barely blinked.

 

“Do you foresee any issues in the proposed Five-0 budget that might cause a problem?” That seemed to be the stock question of the day – Dan was certain that the same question that was being asked of somebody else when he’d stepped out of the hall.

 

“The answer is obviously no.” He smiled briefly and slipped between two reporters and vanished around the corner. He’d been truthful enough. He didn’t see any issues in the Five-0 budget because he had not seen Steve’s new budget. He heard a couple more reporters shout questions in his direction, but he didn’t turn around.

 

 

*****

 

 

May was leaving just as Dan entered the office – she let him know that Steve left a message that he was crashing the post-regatta party at the Polynesian Cultural Center as he had it on good authority that Trent and Janice Nichols would be there. It sounded like an interesting event, and it would no doubt get even more interesting if Steve had the opportunity to question Janice about her lovers.

 

Knowing that he would be gone most of the next day again, Dan remained at the Palace until nearly ten o’clock trying to get caught up – he made a good dent in the paperwork in the quiet office, but a headache and hunger got the best of him. A quick stop at the corner market before he went home yielded him the makings of turkey sandwiches.

 

He made and ate a sandwich without a memory of doing it, and then plopped into the easy chair in his living room with a pencil and his notebook. Before he could crack the notebook, the phone rang. Eleven o’clock – the call was in all likelihood official police business. He leaned over and collected the handset.

 

“Williams.” 

 

“Danno!” Piano music in the background told the detective that his boss was not at home.

 

“Steve – still at the shindig?”

 

“I’m getting ready to leave. It was worth the trip though – I finally met Janice Nichols – Trent Nichols himself introduced us.”

 

Dan sat up a little straighter and his voice became a little more energized. “Did you have an opportunity to talk with her alone?”

 

“No, and I’m telling you, Danno, she spent the entire evening within arm’s reach of him – I didn’t even see her excuse herself to go to the ladies’ room. We’re gonna have to corner her when he’s not around. But I did talk to Mark Gordon’s boss – Joe Sandusky. He confirmed that Gordon wasn’t the type to win a popularity contest.”

 

“Did he know about the work Gordon was doing at the Nichols’ residence?”

 

“He said he had no knowledge of Gordon ever doing any work directly for Trent Nichols, and if he had, it was done off the books.”

 

“It’s really piling up against Nichols, but it’s all circumstantial.”

 

“Yeah, Danno, but my gut tells me that a single conversation with Mrs. Nichols is going to be the break we need. By the way – the meeting – how was it?”

 

“Well, I looked great anyway.” Dan thought of his new ties as he tried to think of something positive to say about his day, but had to share his honest feeling about what he’d endured.

 

“Did you ever have one of those dreams where you have to stand up in front of a crowd and give a speech, but you realize that you forgot to get dressed? It was kind of like that.”

 

The head of Five-0 was not surprised that Danno had felt self-conscious and a little un-nerved – it was his first exposure to the environment that McGarrett himself found petty, click-ish, and vacuous. Despite his opinion about the inane process and the public Petri dish in which it took place, the head of Five-0 knew it was a necessary evil.

 

“Danno, you’re the new guy – you have to make friends.”

 

“Oh yeah, Mrs. Tewksbury is one of my new best friends.”

 

“Oh   Margaret! I’d forgotten about that! She wasn’t too rough on you, was she?”

 

Dan could almost hear McGarrett grinning at the thought.

 

“She almost broke my hand, but I think I got off pretty light, all told.”

 

McGarrett couldn’t help but chuckle at the image of the rigid, imposing chairwoman coming face-to-face with the impudent, but not-very-threatening Williams. “This is not a fish-out-of-water situation, Danno – you can do this.”

 

Even over the phone connection, McGarrett could hear the skeptical sigh that came in the place of words.

 

“Relax, Danno – you’re doing fine.”

 

“I think you’ve been telling me to relax entirely too much lately. Didn’t Shakespeare say something about this?” Dan did feel better with Steve’s confidence backing him.

 

“About relaxing?”

“About doing something too much?”


”Yes, he did, but I’m not protesting.”

 

“You could’ve fooled me.”

 

“Get some rest – I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon around five.” McGarrett reminded Williams.

 

“Right. G’night, Steve.”

 

Williams heard the connection break and slowly moved to hang up on his end. It was not his plan to go to bed. He was going to sit right there and prepare for his discussion with Steve the following evening. Notebook in hand, he started making a list of all the problems with installing him in the second slot. Less than a minute later though, Dan closed his eyes for a moment to think, and drifted off, not to return until the early morning.

 

 

*****

 

 

The day didn’t start out quite as awkwardly as the previous one had for Williams. In his dark grey suit and new grey tie, he arrived ten minutes early. A couple people even nodded to him when he entered, and, while there was the occasional suggestion that he might be the topic of conversation for a moment or two, he didn’t feel like he had two heads on this day.

 

“Danny!”

 

The detective turned and was delighted to see Congressman Roger Harken approaching him. The detective had spent numerous hours with Harken and his staff assisting in the preparation of the new bill. Originally displeased that Steve had yanked him from an active murder investigation, he did admit to himself at least that he’d learned quite a bit from the activity.

 

“Congressman Harken!” It came out more enthusiastic than Dan intended, but he was truly pleased – and a little relieved – to see a friendly face. “I saw your name on the agenda for this morning.” The man nodded and smiled broadly.

 

“I’ll be here long enough to speak to the group about the various efforts that are underway within my office to bring more federal funding into the state. I’ll also speak for a few minutes about the progress of some federal-level legislative issues, such as the chain-of-evidence bill.”

 

In his late fifties, the man was a couple inches taller than Dan and much stockier. Dressed in a dark, pin-striped suit, Harken gently pulled the detective aside. Dan suddenly realized, with amusement, that he was now about to be a participant in a secret conversation of the kind that made him so uncomfortable the day before.

 

As soon as Harken judged that they were a proper distance from other ears, he began to speak softly.

 

“Your picture on page three of my morning paper caught me by surprise – I didn’t realize what a valuable resource you are to McGarrett.” The congressman sounded impressed, and until that moment, Dan did not realize the level of trust his boss had to have to let him represent Five-0 in this media fish bowl. The detective deflected the praise quickly though. 

 

“Steve’s an amazing man, but he still hasn’t figured out a way to be in two places at the same time.”

 

“You’re right – he is amazing, but I have a confession. I requested an expert in law enforcement through the governor’s office, and when I learned that McGarrett was sending me the new—” The older man hesitated. The how-to-say-it-politely question was written all over his face.

 

“Kid?” Dan supplied, with a slight, matter-of-fact nod, to help the congressman over the slightly awkward-possibly-offensive word.

 

The older man flashed a quick smile of appreciation and continued. “Uh, yeah – I thought he was giving me his second string. Of course, you did a wonderful job, and it worked out great, but it’s completely obvious to me now that he made a sacrifice. I apologize and only hope that neither of you will object if I have to request your assistance again as this bill works its way through the legislative process.”

 

The confession and overwhelming words of appreciation were welcome, and Dan smiled. “I’ll have no objections, sir – thank you very much.”

 

The older man gave Williams a wink as he punched on the arm and whispered,  Don’t let the old roosters and hens here pick away at your flesh!”

 

The image brought a chuckle from Dan. “I’ll try, sir.” The congressman walked off briskly, leaving the detective feeling an order of magnitude more confident about his value outside just meat-and-potatoes detective work.

 

Margaret Tewksbury began the proceedings at exactly nine o’clock as she’d promised, but stayed only long enough to introduce the congressman. He thanked the chairwoman and took the podium. 

 

The congressman spoke of efforts to secure funding for parks, highway improvements, and new schools. He finished the state-level discussion and spent a little more time covering his federal agenda. Forty five minutes later, he folded the prepared part of his speech and continued.

“I would like to take one more minute of your time to publicly thank the office of Governor Jameson for their support with the additional resources I required to educate my staff and myself on the finer points of the law enforcement system. Specifically, I have a special thanks to Steve McGarrett of Hawaii Five-0 for the loan of his extremely valuable resource – Detective Danny Williams.”

 

Dan could feel his face growing warm as the speaker’s eyes directed everyone in the room to look in his direction. He offered a slight nod of acknowledgement to the speaker and looked back at his notebook for lack of a better thing to do. At least today, the eyes on him were probably eyes of envy.

 

 

*****

 

The tropical sun struck McGarrett’s face as he moved briskly to his car. Glad to be sprung from the stifling air of the court room, he’d returned to the Palace by three o’clock. After reading his mail and returning a couple of phone calls, he debated for only a few moments before his decision was made. He did not want to wait another day to confront Janice Nichols about her dead boy friends and the abuse she was apparently suffering at the hands of her husband. Danno would not return until four thirty or five at the earliest.

 

He pulled his sun glasses from the glove box and slipped them on. This was going to be a good day indeed. The Nichols case was going to come to a head, AND, by the end of the day, he was going to have a new official second-in-command!

 

 

*****

 

 

The difference in Dan’s experiences on the two different days was as dark to light. More than one person addressed the group on different topics , so the day did not seem to drag on as it had the day before, and people seemed a little more friendly during the lunch break – there was no doubt in Williams’ mind that it was due to Congressman Harken’s very gracious acknowledgement.

 

When four thirty rolled around, Dan slipped quickly out the emergency exit on the side of the hall – he did not want to have any more encounters with the press, bad or good. Truly feeling that he’d managed himself pretty well on both days, he walked cheerfully back to his car, and pulled into the Palace parking lot by four forty five. With the hurdle of the past two days behind him, he was feeling more optimistic about the outcome of his dinner meeting with Steve. He noticed as he got out of his car that McGarrett’s LTD was missing, so he presumed that the hearing had not concluded – Good – it would give him an opportunity to jot down a few of the notes that he’d meant to make the night before.

 

Chin, Kono, and May all greeted the detective as he entered the office, and he enthusiastically reciprocated. Dan collected the pile from his IN box addressed the secretary as he flipped through the stack.

 

“I take it Steve’s still in court?”

“Oh, no – he was back here by three o’clock, but he didn’t spend more than a few minutes at his desk before he left again. He said he’d be back in a bit.”

 

Dan stopped and looked at her. “Did he say where he was going?”

 

“Nope – just that he’d be back.”

 

There was no rational reason for it at that moment – after all, Steve McGarrett was certainly a man who could take care of himself – but something in the pit of Dan’s stomach told him that something was amiss. He quickly shook off the feeling, deciding that he was a little more nervous than he thought about the impending conversation with his boss.

 

*****

 

 

Five fifteen… Dan stared at his watch for a few moments before collected the phone, contacted the HPD dispatcher and requested a patch to McGarrett. He doodled on the side of a notebook page for more than a minute before the dispatcher informed him that there was no response. A strange angst filled him as he rose from his desk  to talk with the other detectives.

 

“Did Steve say anything to either of you guys about where he was going?”

 

Kono stepped out of his office so that he could see Chin, who was still sitting at his desk.

 

“We weren’t here when he left, bruddah.” Chin supplied the information and put his pencil down when he saw the apprehensive expression on Williams’ face.

 

“I was expecting him back from wherever he is before now.” Dan’s explained the reason for his concern. “We were supposed to meet here.”

 

“Did you try him in his car?” Kono slipped past the youngest detective and slid into the vacant chair by the Chinese detective’s desk.

 

“Yeah – no response.” Dan frowned. The Hawaiian detective reached into an open packet of macadamia nuts sitting on the desk and popped a few into his mouth before looked back up at Williams.

 

“What time were you supposed to meet?”

 

“Five o’clock,” Dan answered, a little defensiveness creeping into his tone in anticipation of his colleagues’ reactions – seventeen minutes late did not constitute missing.

 

The two seated detectives studied Williams closely for a few seconds before they simultaneously looked at each other and burst into laughter. A little dejected at their understandable reaction, Dan grimaced at the still-snickering pair and decided to see if Steve left any clue as to where his intentions at his desk.

 

Dan sat down in Steve’s chair at his desk and carefully reviewed the items laid out on the blotter before him, but nothing jumped out at him. He leaned back for a minute and looked at the clock on the other side of the desk – five twenty…Intellectually, he had to admit that the guys were right – they’d worked for the man for many years and certainly knew his habits well enough to know when to be concerned.

 

Steve would probably be sweeping into the office any second, cursing his broken police radio… He momentarily felt a little better and let his thoughts wander back to the next big issue on his mind. He longed for a clear-cut right answer. Could he – Dan Williams – too young, not-enough-experience, but willing to try his heart out – could he cut it as second-in-command to Steve McGarrett?

 

“I need an omen!” He said out loud, and then sighed. Perhaps one more round with the boss would be enough to make him decide. 

 

His focus shifted back to the paperwork tucked in the lower right-hand corner of the blotter. He leaned forward and retrieved the pages – it was the title to the rotting sloop still sitting in Pearl City. Steve had made arrangements to have it moved to a place not far from where he lived.

 

So, Steve really is gonna make a project out of this thing…

 

Dan grinned at the memory of their visit to the wretched craft—what was it’s name? Dan looked down back down at the document he was holding, recalling that the name had not been legible on the boat. He leaned back in the chair, struck by the significance of the Hawaiian word listed as the Registered Name.

 

“Pu`uhonua…Refuge,” Dan mouthed the word and its translation. He mindlessly slid the document back into its spot on the blotter and stood. He slowly looked around the big office as if he’d never really absorbed how it mirrored its occupant. Steve McGarrett – brilliant investigator and tactician… private in the extreme… perfectionist… not very tolerant of weakness in others… impatient and hot-tempered… and yet he routinely showed Danny Williams – Danno (The detective smiled.) the patience of the ages, sharing the wisdom of his experience almost anytime Dan asked. Not that McGarrett’s youngest detective was immune to the boss’s wrath – on the contrary – he’d taken more than his share of eruptions. What had Steve said early the other morning? He needed somebody who could tolerate him through his more difficult moments…

 

It suddenly struck Dan that Steve needed not just somebody who could tolerate him – he needed someone who could serve as a buffer between him and the rest of the world.

 

He needs an advocate… somebody in his corner… no matter what…somebody he can trust to  give him some peace… a refuge…  that’s what Steve McGarrett needs… Can that be me?

 

Pu`uhonua,” Dan said the word loudly. The sound of his own voice snapped him out of his reflection.

 

His attention was captured by the single ding of the small clock on the desk – Five thirty… He looked at the locked desk drawer, and debated for only another moment before he turned and trotted out the door to his own desk. Grabbing the key that Steve had given him that day from beneath his desk calendar, he spun to make the return trip to his boss’s desk, and nearly bumped into Kono and Chin, who were donning their suit jackets apparently to leave. Dismayed that he was alone in his conviction that McGarrett was in some kind of trouble, he stopped and put his hands on his hips.

 

“Where do you guys think you’re going?” The question came out more like an accusation, but Dan didn’t care – there was no time to care --- of that he was certain.

 

The two men blinked, surprised at the tone of the junior member of the team, and glanced at each other before Kono responded.

 

“Time to go home, kaikaina – Chin and I got an early day tomorrow.” Kono tried to use his best easy-does-it voice as he could see that his friend seemed to be growing more agitated with each passing minute.

 

Made bold by fear, Dan’s expression grew cross and resolute.

 

“Nobody’s going anywhere ‘til we figure out what happened to Steve!”

 

The edict spawned another silent visual exchange between Chin and Kono. Dan held his breath as they pair read the thoughts in each other’s eyes. A long five seconds later, the pair looked back at him and Chin answered.

 

“You’re the boss, Danny. What do ya wanna do?”

 

A relieved smile flickered momentarily across Dan’s face as he slipped between the two and rushed into the big office. May rose from her desk, and with the two detectives, traced Williams’ path.

 

Mildly surprised that their colleague not only had a key to the private drawer of their boss’s desk, but that he’d used it and was now leafing through a black leather-bound notebook. The three exchanged glances before they gathered around McGarrett’s desk to view the contents of the page onto which Dan had settled.

 

Dan place his finger below the last entries.

 

9-25-67 – Soc @ Poly CC. Trent Nichols, Janice Nichols,

            Joe Sandusky.

            TN, JN – nf

            JS – nk Gordon work @ Nichols res

9-26-67 – Int w/ JN @ res –  

 

The others were still staring at the notes when Dan looked up with a frown.

 

“He went to talk to Janice Nichols at home!”

 

“Well, bruddah, that explains why he’s not back yet – if he left after three—“ Kono attempted to calm the young detective’s rapidly escalating agitation.

 

“He shouldn’t have gone alone!” Dan interrupted, frustrated that his boss had been too impatient to wait for one of his detectives to be free to accompany him.

 

“You right, Danny, but that’s just how Steve is sometimes.” Chin offered patiently.

 

Williams ignored the very viable explanation, choosing to pay attention to the sense of foreboding that was consuming him at that moment.

 

“May, try to raise through the dispatcher again!”

 

He began to pace and snap his fingers that reminded everyone of the owner of the office as he considered the next best step. He glanced down at one of the end tables as he slowly moved past it. The folded newspaper lying on it had registered earlier, but he had not been close enough to see the article to which it was folded. The subject was the Molokai Sailing Regatta and the amount of money that had been raised for charity. It wasn’t the information that caught Williams’ eye – rather it was the photo. He recognized the very beautiful smiling face of Janice Nichols, attired in a white two-piece swim suit, standing next to her husband, Trent Nichols, also smiling and sporting a tropical white suit and Captain’s hat.

 

His eyes grew large as he quickly scanned the article. Chin and Kono appeared on either side of him – how they’d gotten there, he wasn’t certain.

 

“What’s wrong, Danny?” Chin accurately read horror in the young man’s expression.

 

Dan looked up and made eye contact with the Chinese detective. “That’s not the man I saw with Janice Nichols the other night.” Shock rattled the other two men as they tried to absorb the implication. Dan went on, now thinking out loud.

 

“She said it was her husband, but it wasn’t!” He mentally kicked himself for not bothering to get a few more details on the case, like maybe becoming familiar with the key players and what they looked like – being too busy just wasn’t a very good excuse right at this moment.

 

“That explains why Trent Nichols’ car never left the hotel!” Chin started trying to fill in the holes.

 

“Who was at the house with Mrs. Nichols then?” Kono wondered.

 

“It doesn’t matter right now – we’ve gotta get up there! Steve’s in trouble – I know it!” Dan was already moving toward the door before he finished speaking. The other two detectives followed closely behind him.

 

May looked up from her desk as she set the phone handset down onto its cradle.

 

“No luck with the radio, Danny. What do you want me to do now?” May was now very concerned as well, but the newest member of the team was in charge and she found herself somewhat calmed by his purposeful demeanor.

 

“Get back on the phone with HPD – I want the nearest available unit to roll with lights to the Nichols’ Pupukea Road address, with the instruction to detain whoever is there. That’s where we’re heading as well!”

 

The three Five-0 men picked up their pace to a run as soon as they cleared the door of the office. Dan continued issuing instructions as they made the way to their cars.

 

“We’ll take two cars – Kono – you and Chin roll in yours – I’ll take mine! Chin – get on the radio and see if you can find Trent Nichols! We’re through tip toeing!”

As the car doors slammed on Kono’s company car, the two detectives watched as Williams screeched out of the parking lot and rounded the corner. They heard his siren kick in immediately just as they started to move.

 

“You think he’s right?” The Hawaiian detective wondered out loud as he positioned the blue light on the dash and turned on the siren.

 

“It’s bad either way, bruddah. If he’s wrong, he just bought one big bunch a pilikia for Five-0, and if he’s right, then something bad has happened to Steve.”

 

 

*****

 

 

Before heading toward the North Shore, McGarrett  stopped at the garage-cum-boatyard, where he would be working on his new-old boat, to make arrangements to have the craft towed from its current storage facility resting place. The detour was a small indulgence that took a little longer than he anticipated, but he didn’t want to delay in getting the vessel situated in what would be its new home until it would float again. The more he considered it, the more he became convinced that his new nautical project was going to be one of the best things he’d ever done for himself. That rumination flowed naturally into another subject in that same category.

 

Back on the road, his thoughts started with his plan for the evening of negotiation with Danno. It now seemed so obvious to him what it would take to close the deal. He initially berated himself for not seeing it sooner, but after further consideration, realized that his standard military-edict style approach – as some would accusingly label it – he would not have called it thus – to making things happen had not failed him before – at least not so dramatically as it had that day with his young detective. He gave himself a mental pat on the back for finding a way to adapt to this very unique situation – a way to make Danno recognize his value to Five-0. Steve had a good feeling about how it went the other morning when he’d awakened the detective – he wasn’t certain why he took delight in doing that – but he did not analyze it too closely. He was just glad that they would continue their discussion tonight, and he was optimistic that the lights would come on in the head of Danny Williams!

 

The outcome of the evening pre-determined, he moved on to the reason for his journey. He decided it would be prudent to call Janice Nichols, and let her know he was on his way. A quick phone call would serve two purposes. First, he wanted to insure that she was at home, and further that Trent Nichols was not – he had a very strong sense that she would be less-than-forthcoming in the presence of her husband.

 

It had bothered the detective that Mrs. Nichols had not stepped forward and offered information to the police when she heard that a second lover had been found dead – it would be an unfortunate piece of synchronicity for one fling to be a murder victim, but to have a second one turn up dead, made chance less likely.

He recalled at that moment that she told Danno that she would call him Tom – perhaps the woman did not know that her brief liaisons were dead because she did not know their names. In that same vein, if the woman knew that a one-night stand with her could sign a young man’s death warrant, then she would have to be a remarkably callous individual indeed.

 

The second reason to call the woman was to allow her a little time to realize that it would be in her best interests to be frank with him away from the prying eyes and ears of others. Discretion was in her best interest, there was no doubt in McGarrett’s mind.

 

He requested a patch to the Nichols residence. The phone rang a few times before the soft voice spoke a greeting.

 

“Hel— Hello?” The woman was crying and scared, McGarrett was almost certain. Her tenor immediately made him leap to the possibility that her husband was home and in an angry mood.

 

“Hello, am I speaking to Janice Nichols?”

 

“Yes – who’s calling please?”

 

“This is Steve McGarrett from Hawaii Five-0 – we met last night at the post-regatta event. Are you okay?”

 

When no response was forthcoming after a few seconds, the detective’s concern heightened.

 

“Mrs. Nichols! Is your husband at home?”

 

This time, the woman’s voice had regained its composure.

“I’m sorry, Mr. McGarrett, I’m fine. You’ll probably be able to reach him at his office – unless he’s golfing.” Her answer made him breathe a little easier, but he would’ve felt better if he knew what were upsetting her.

 

“Actually, Mrs. Nichols, I’m anxious to a have a conversation with you concerning official police business, and if you don’t mind, I’d like to stop by right away.  I’m only thirty minutes from your home at this very moment.”

 

“Well… Why do you want to talk with ME?” Hesitation… concern. The woman on the other end of the line was fearful of a conversation with the police – McGarrett could feel it. He pushed the issue.

 

“Please, Mrs. Nichols – it’s VERY important that you cooperate. I’m coming alone to have a private conversation with you regarding the murders of Stanley Davis, Dennis Keali, and Mark Gordon.” There was a gasp so loud on the on the other end of the line it sounded like the woman was in agony. McGarrett gave her a few seconds to regain a measure of control before spoke again.

 

“Mrs. Nichols, I’m on my way and we have to talk!”

 

His words were not acknowledged as she responded.

 

“Mark— Mark Gordon is dead?”

 

“You knew him.” McGarrett knew she knew the victim from her own words.

 

“Yes, but then you know that don’t you.” Janice Nichols’ question did not have the ring of a question either.

 

The detective detected a measure of resignation in her voice as he confirmed her fear. “Yes… yes, I do. And the other two men – Stanley Davis and Dennis Keali – you knew them as well.”

 

“What? No.. no.. I, uh.. no I don’t…” Still reeling from the news about Gordon, she could barely think.

 

“Perhaps you knew them as Tom? Or maybe you picked a different name for each of them?”

 

Silence ensued for a few seconds as the implication of the detective’s words sank in. Then the sound of heaving sobs grew to a crescendo. McGarrett listened to her reaction and knew he’d been correct – she did not know her lovers were dead.  After several seconds, she took in a few slow, deep breaths. 

 

Her voice still trembled. “You won’t come with flashing lights or anything will you?”

 

“No, no, of course, Mrs. Nichols – I’m alone and I’ll be the picture of discretion. I’ll see you shortly.” He broke the connection before she could change her mind. Yes! An interview with the wife of murder suspect, Trent Nichols, was going to prove very interesting indeed! Without realizing it, he applied a little more pressure to the accelerator as focused on pulling all of the facts of the case into his mind. With the tantalizing allusions that came from the Nichols woman, McGarrett was as a bloodhound to fresh scent – on the trail with no thought of anything else – or anyone that might me concerned about him. 

 

 

*****

 

 

She held onto the phone receiver, which was slippery with dampness, for several seconds after the detective was no longer on the line. She’d felt almost faint with fear as she spoke with the officer. Tears welled up, blurring her vision, but she could not stop looking at the newspaper spread out on the patio table before her. On the left-most page, was the picture she had started to cut out before the phone rang – Trent Nichols, and her standing there beside him, a glass of champagne in hand. On the kissing page, no more than ten inches to the right, was the confident, pleasing image of a Five-0 detective. She replayed the horrifying scene on the patio that evening – trying to draw the topic away from aftershave, she’d spoke of Gordon and the landscaping project he left unfinished.

 

Her world was rapidly collapsing around her, and she was suddenly feeling cornered. Too rattled to think for herself, she dialed the familiar number. She feared it, but needed his strong presence – he would tell her what to do…

 

He always knows what to do…

 

“Yeah!” The voice was terse and clearly prepared to respond to something business-related.

 

“It’s me!” She cried in a hoarse whisper. Not waiting for him to respond, she hurriedly let the words tumble from her mouth. “The Five-0 detective – McGarrett – he’s on his way to speak to me!”

 

“What! Did he say why?” The voice was definitely alarmed.

“It’s about the murders…” Sobs overtook her for a few moments, and the man snapped impatiently.

 

“Janice! Get a hold of yourself! It’ll be okay!”

 

“Did you kill those men? Did you kill Gordon? Did you?” She screamed into the phone.

 

“Shut up and listen to me! You’re as guilty as I am! You’re a tramp, and you’re lucky I didn’t show those photos to Trent!” The man hissed abrasively.

 

Her tone quieted with the threat – all she could find in herself at that moment were more tears at her helplessness. “Is he coming to arrest me?”

 

“No, you little idiot! He’s on a fishing expedition! He suspects Trent of the murders – he doesn’t even know about me!”

 

She looked woefully back over at the face of Danny Williams – bag boy and cop – and hiccupped a response.

 

“Oh, yes, I’m afraid he does.”

 

“How could he?” A little panic crept into his voice for a moment before it grew harsh again. “Never mind! Is he coming alone?”

“Uh, yes – What do I do? What do I say?”

 

“When he gets there, tell him whatever you wanna tell him – the truth or one of your big fat lies – I don’t care! Just keep him there!”

 

For the second time in as many minutes, the phone connection abruptly popped in her ear. She mindless set the phone down and wandered into the house to wash her face and comb her hair in preparation for the arrival of a guest.

 

 

*****

 

 

The detective leaned on his car for several moments and quietly assessed the scene in the Nichols circular driveway. He was looking for any sign that would alert him to a dangerous situation inside, but nothing appeared out of place. It was no more than ten long McGarrett-style strides to the front door on which he knocked. It took at least half a minute before the sound of someone approaching the door could be heard. Janice opened the door tentatively and greeted him with only a motion to enter. Her eyes were puffy and her cheeks flushed red, but she seemed in control of her emotions at the moment. He followed her through the expansive home to the patio where they took seats at the table.

 

The newspaper, scissors resting atop the partially clipped article about the regatta, still lay spread out. Before that moment, McGarrett had not seen the photo of Danno taken after the budget meeting the previous day – May had told him it was there and read the article to him over the phone just before he was pulled into court for the morning – Williams’ handling of the situation and quote had pleased him tremendously and set the tone for his entire day. There on the page adjacent to the Nichols photo, the image of the young man she’d propositioned must have given her a tremendous shock.

 

Seeing the detective’s eyes on the paper, she broke the silence.

 

“I never open the newspaper unless I know there’s something in it for my scrap book.” She smiled and looked down at her lap, but her lip quivered slightly as if she might be ready to cry again. “I guess I should cut out the picture of your detective as well.”

 

McGarrett leaned on the table and spoke softly to her. He wanted to make sure that she did not feel threatened as he asked her to tell what she knew.

 

“Mrs. Nichols, it’s very clear to me that you have information that will help solve the three murders I mentioned. You need to be completely honest with me, and I give you my word that I will share only what I need to build my case.”

 

She glanced up at the strong, certain man seated before her, but looked back down at her lap. Keep him here… tell him the truth or one of your big fat lies…

 

As the woman absorbed what he’d said, the head of Five-0 quickly let his eyes drop to his watch – it was after four thirty – the afternoon had gotten away from him and he knew he was going to be back to the office later than he anticipated, but to stop the woman now – just as she was preparing to crack the case wide open – could totally break the mood he’d cultivated. He’d just have to call as soon as he was done.

 

The truth required so much less energy than a lie. She nodded slightly and started with an explanation about her marriage. Trent and Janice Nichols were secretly separated. They tried for a few years to make their marriage work, but the previous year, the couple’s differences in personality and interests made the situation unpleasant for both of them. Trent came to her with a proposition. He wanted to remain married, but only on paper. He wanted to continue to be seen in public as a happily married couple… to have his beautiful wife eyeing him adoringly. There would never be a mention of anything as untoward as divorce in the same breath as the name of Trent Nichols. His aspirations – realistic or not Janice did not know – were to run for public office – someday the man fully intended to be living in Washington, D.C. in some official capacity.

 

For her part of the bargain, she could – as long as she kept her social commitments to him – do whatever she wanted – with one exception. She was never to be unfaithful to him. News of an unfaithful wife would not only wreck havoc with his political aspirations, it would also – Trent believed – publicly cast doubt on his manhood and his ability to maintain his wife’s interest.

 

Janice agreed, but found the world in which she was now living a luxurious, but very lonely one. She’d stopped by Trent’s pent house one evening, but before she knocked, it became abundantly clear to her that he was entertaining a female guest. Angry and bitter that their arrangement was a one-way street, she began to seek the companionship of young men. It was a pleasant diversion, but more importantly, it was a secret stab at the heart of her unfaithful spouse. She took marginal care to see that her dalliances were not well known by selecting young men from less well-to-do social circles and – even more importantly – keeping the relationships brief and as anonymous as circumstances would allow.

 

Things changed though earlier in the year. She’d gone out dancing one evening and had the misfortune to have the event recorded by a reporter. The incident caused Trent to tap one of his trusted senior men – Joe Sandusky   to keep tabs on her comings and goings to insure that his wife was living up to her part of the bargain. It didn’t take him long to catch her in the act of breaking her agreement with Trent. Rather than going to her husband, he confronted her – told her that he’d taken pictures that he would give to Trent if she did not do as he wanted. Janice went on emotionlessly describing to the shocked detective how Sandusky had blackmailed her. He was physically abusive, but over the course of time, the rough treatment took a back seat to the attention that he paid to her. There were days though when she resented his control over her, and so went out in search of an interlude with someone else. On the two occasions he’d found out about it, he’d slapped her – careful not to leave marks that would be visible in public and left her tied up in the bedroom for the rest of the night.

 

“After the last incident a few weeks ago, I decided to give up my little trysts, but then I bumped into the – your detective – in the parking lot on Saturday. He looked so inviting and friendly and enthusiastic, I thought just one more time…”

 

Janice Nichols’ tale lasted more than an hour, and McGarrett found himself riveted to her words. In the final few minutes of her story though, major pieces of the puzzle slipped into place, and an awareness began to sink into the detective that Trent Nichols was no longer the primary suspect. Joe Sandusky – the violent, jealous, black-mailing lover – was probably the one who almost caught Janice with Danno! It explained so much!

 

“So, Janice, you didn’t learn your lesson.” Joe Sandusky’s voice intruded on the conversation with striking volume. Steve started to reach under his jacket for his weapon, but the man standing in the doorway, just inside the house was prepared.

 

“Don’t try it, McGarrett – I’ll put a bullet through your head in heartbeat, and I think you know I’ll do it. Use two fingers and very slowly retrieve your gun and place it on the ground.”

 

“Well, Joe, you’ve certainly done your part to help incriminate your boss in the murders of Stanley Davis and Dennis Keali.” McGarrett smiled as he gently pulled his weapon from its holster and placed it below his chair.

 

“And Gordon,” Janice added as she slowly stood and side-stepped a few feet away from the table, as if she were afraid to be in close proximity to the detective. 

 

“I can only claim credit for finishing the job with Keali, darling! I hired Gordon to do the dirty work. He killed Davis, and he tried to kill Keali, but Keali ended up killing him in self-defense! How you could let either of those cocky, little creeps touch you is beyond me! The thought makes me want to put my fist through something!”

 

“They were nice to me!” She responded angrily, but backed off quickly as soon as he threw a threatening glance at her. His attention turned back immediately to the more immediate issue. He ordered McGarrett to stand and turn around.

 

Slowly complying with his captor’s request, the detective’s mind raced as he tried to see a way out of his deadly predicament. With his back to Sandusky, he bluffed.

 

“Joe, you gotta know that police units are on their way here right now! You don’t think I’d come up here without backup close behind, do you? Give it up now before you’re in any deeper.”

 

Gordon believed him. “I can’t get any deeper, McGarrett – but you can!” With that, he struck the detective on the back of the head. Blackness came right on the heels of the momentary burst of pain. McGarrett tumbled forward and fell still on the ground.

 

Janice gasped at the shocking act, but took no action to help the downed officer, who gave a soft groan and began to stir. Instead, she clutched her arms as if she were chilly, wandered off toward the fence over which Dan had to catapult himself that night. Ignoring her, Sandusky leaned over the semi-conscious man, and pulled his car keys from his suit pocket. In a single tug, he pulled McGarrett up and lifted him over his shoulder. Moving quickly, he took his next victim over to the freshly-dug trench and unceremoniously slid him into the hole.

 

“Guess we won’t be needing any fertilizer for the trees for awhile,” Sandusky joked grimly.

 

The jolt of landing in the soft dirt accelerated McGarrett’s return to awareness. Face down, he slowly rolled over and landed abruptly on his back. A noise – the sound of an engine of some sort suddenly became unbearably loud to his throbbing head. Recollection of the moments before he was struck poured into his head, and he knew he was in mortal danger. He tried unsuccessfully to rise, but it seemed he had not regained adequate control over his muscles. He was able to look up, where he could see the big shovel on the backhoe rising above him, and knew he was about to be buried alive. Steve found the internal wherewithal to roll onto his side and turn his head downward. As the shovel tipped, damp loam dropped onto him. He did his best to cover his face, but the dirt poured in too fast. With the bucket empty, Sandusky used the bucket as a plow and pushed more dirt into the makeshift grave. He covered the detective in two passes, and then maneuvered again and flattened the rest of the volume of dirt so that it looked very similar to the rest of the ready-to-be-landscaped grounds.

 

Sandusky studied the area for a moment, before he decided that he was satisfied. He hopped off the backhoe and started for the driveway with the keys to the cop’s car in his hand. Janice had seemed oblivious to the murder occurring behind her, but at that moment she came to life.

 

“I hear a siren – I think more police are coming!” The wail of a siren was definitely on the breeze coming up Pupukea Road – it was probably no more than two minutes away. Sandusky burst into a sprint, knowing his only option was to drive the incriminating vehicle into the dense brush on the far side of the driveway and pull his company pick up truck in front of it. With any luck, he’d be able to divert attention from himself at least long enough to pack a bag and make it to the mainland. On the other hand, maybe he wouldn’t have to leave at all – maybe with McGarrett dead, the police knew less than he thought. 

 

 

*****

 

Almost completely engulfed by the damp soil, the detective knew he had only minutes of air left in the small pocket of space he’d managed to reserve under his body and around his head – for all the good it would do him. Unless something miraculous happened, Steve knew he was taking in his final breaths of air. His men – Danno – would eventually figure out where he went, but it would be too late...
 

 

*****

 

 

In his rearview mirror, Dan could make out the flashing blue light on Kono’s dash – that sight helped him keep his panic in check. Whether they believed him or not, they were willing to follow. He considered for a few seconds the possibility that they were right – that he was over-reacting to a slightly tardy boss. If that did turn out to be the case, he was fully aware that what he was doing now was a huge blunder. He replayed the facts as they unfolded in the office and could feel the fear for Steve’s well being welling up inside of him – no – something was amiss, and he would not back down! Having arrived at the same conclusion all over again, he became determined not to second-guess himself again.

 

As they turned up Pupukea Road, he radioed the unit that had reported its arrival on the scene a few minutes before. The Five-0 men were two miles up the road before Dan received a response.

 

“Danny, Mr. McGarrett isn’t here.”

 

Shocked and not actually willing to believe what he was hearing yet, Dan wanted more information.

 

“You say he’s not there? Tell me – who IS there?”

 

“Just Mrs. Nichols and an employee of her husband’s company – one of the foremen.”

 

“What’s his name?” Dan was certain – not because he had any proof – that whoever this guy was had something to do with his missing boss.

 

“His name is Joe – Joe Sandusky.”

 

Dan had heard the name before, but it was Chin who chimed in from Kono’s car.

 

“Danny! Sandusky was Gordon’s boss!”

 

Williams tossed the radio handset onto the dash, and gripped the steering wheel into twelve o’clock performance position. It would’ve been nice to be driving a little yellow Corvette up the road, but in pinch, the engine of his new Ford LTD would do the trick.

 

 

*****

 

 

Kono and Chin pulled up thirty seconds behind their younger colleague, who burst through the door of the house without knocking. The two detectives ran to catch up and saw that Dan had raced through the house to the back patio, where two HPD officers could be seen.

 

Dan glanced at the officers, but the face he was desperate to see was that of Joe Sandusky. It took only a moment for his eyes to lock onto the features of the man sitting patiently at the patio table. There was no doubt in Williams’ mind that this was the man who had honey-I’m-homed Janice on Saturday night. Sandusky looked up at the young officer who exploded onto the patio, and was mildly surprised to discover that he recognized Williams from his picture in the paper.

 

Dan had the urge to grab the man by his throat, but he stopped to take in the scene. Janice was sitting in the other chair and looked up at him only long enough to be certain they’d met before – her expression was a mixture of fear and embarrassment.

 

One of the HPD men offered an answer to Williams’ as-yet-unspoken question.

 

“They say Mr. McGarrett was here, but he left about thirty minutes ago.”

 

Dan snapped a glance at the officer, but fixated on the seated man, whose expression seemed smug and unconcerned.

 

Suddenly, Williams lunged at Sandusky, surprising not only him, but the two uniformed officers as well. Chin and Kono, on the other hand, were somehow anticipating a desperate move on the part of the detective. Knowing he was frantic to find their boss, they were prepared and managed to grab him and stop his progress when he was only inches from the suspect -- they did not pull him away from the man’s face though.

 

“Where is he? Where is McGarrett?” His voice was cold, as he leaned against his human restraints. 

 

“Like I told your two friends – he was here and he left!” Joe spoke with an air of impatience. Williams studied the man for a few seconds – it was apparent to the detective that Sandusky was not going to be scared into talking – at least not scared fast enough. Dan backed away, and, as Chin and Kono cautiously let go of his arms, he re-focused his attention on the woman, whose lower lip quivered and she studied the edge of the table.

 

Vinegar’s not gonna work… maybe a little honey…

 

Dan moved to stand next to Janice’s chair and slowly bent over the terrified woman. He squatted almost in front of her, coming into her line of sight. He gently collected her hands in his.

 

“Jan, I know you’re scared, and I know you’ve been a victim up to this point – I can testify to that. If you don’t help us now, that changes everything.” Dan looked pleadingly at her. He could tell that his words were having an effect on her.

 

She focused on Williams’ face, and pulled her right hand out of his to touch his cheek.

 

“Janice!” Sandusky shouted. “Don’t let him bully you!”

 

Kono immediately whipped his hand around the suspect’s head and covered his mouth. Nichols had started to glance in Sandusky’s direction, but Dan put his hand up and prevented her head from turning away from him.

 

“He can’t hurt you any more.” He rose enough to bring his face inches from hers as he cupped her cheeks. “Please help me. Where is McGarrett? Tell me.”

 

A large, crocodile tear started its way down Jan’s cheek and rolled until it hit the detective’s hand. The woman took in his features sadly and Dan, growing more tense and less hopeful with each passing second, felt his own lower jaw shudder as he implored her one more time. “Where is McGarrett?”

 

She swallowed and looked over his shoulder in the direction of the under-construction plant beds. Dan followed her eyes without taking his hands off her face, and slowly stood – amidst the unplanted and freshly churned dirt was the backhoe. It had been moved since last he saw it.

 

“Oh God! Watch these two!” Dan commanded the men in blue as he ran to the backhoe with Chin and Kono not far behind.

 

Dan stuck his hand into the side window of the backhoe engine. He pulled his hand out quickly and shook it. He’d burned his finger.

 

“The engine’s hot!” He shot a hateful glance back at Sandusky who was now looking more than a little nervous, and then quickly turned his attention back to the track pattern in the dirt to deduce the most recent path of the little vehicle.

 

With nothing else to go on, Dan dove to the ground in the area where the backhoe had most recently maneuvered and began clawing at the dirt. The fear that gripped him was painful. Kono ran to the garden shack and grabbed a shovel, with which he began to carefully scrape back layers of dirt.

 

Knowing the charade was up, Sandusky abruptly tried to make a run for it, but one officer tackled him, giving the other time to draw his weapon. The scuffle was over in a few seconds. Janice did not react to the escape attempt. Instead, she pulled her knees up onto the chair with her and began to rock slightly to and fro. With the more dangerous of the suspects in handcuffs, the free HPD man joined the Five-0 detectives, and all four of them dug and clawed until they were two feet deep.

 

“Stop!” Dan directed Kono to step back with the shovel. He sensed a difference in the resistance of the soil beneath his hands. He clawed frantically, and, at last, he was rewarded with a different texture. It was Steve’s hair. At the sight, Kono threw down the shovel and dropped to his knees and, along side Williams, began to claw the dirt back.

 

“Steve! Steve!” At last they had the unresponsive detective’s torso uncovered. Kono moved down and worked with the shovel to quickly displace the remainder of the offending dirt. Williams was bent over his boss, gently brushing the dirt off his face.

 

“He’s not breathing!” Dan’s pulse quickened as he also acknowledged there was no pulse! The four men were at last able to pull the limp figure from the hole.

 

“Call an ambulance!” The Williams barked, and the uniformed officer rushed off to comply. Dan positioned Steve’s form, and hyper-extended his neck to try to make a clear path for air to traverse, before he bent over and blew a couple bursts of air into his lungs. He then performed a precordial thump to his chest. He put his ear to his chest and heard nothing. He began to perform CPR, and for the longest minute of Dan’s life, there was no response to the treatment. Kono and Chin could not tear their eyes from the life-and-death moment as they both secretly began to fear that Steve had been Joe Sandusky’s final victim.

 

Suddenly, the unconscious man coughed – Dan let out a gasp as his heart leapt in joy.

 

Kono let out a deep breath he’d been holding and sighed, “Auwe, Steve, breathe!”

 

As the seconds slipped by, McGarrett coughed more and more violently to the tremendous relief of the other detectives. Kono bent down to help Dan roll him over onto his side as he expelled gobs of dirt that had been lodged in his throat and mouth.

 

“Steve! It’s Danny – you’re gonna be fine!” He whispered. With his free hand, and still coughing, Steve grabbed Dan’s arm and squeezed, trying to give some small indication that he’d heard his friend’s welcome words. At last free of the coughing spasm that had been racking him, his forehead dropped to the ground. Dan gently alternated between massaging and patting Steve’s back, partially to help with his circulation, and partially because he needed the physical contact with his friend and mentor.

 

Within ten minutes, an ambulance could be heard screaming up the road. Steve had managed to stand, and with Kono on one side and Dan on the other, he made it to the chaise lounge. The memory of the man Williams thought was Trent Nichols reclining imperiously there popped into Dan’s head for a moment, but vanished as Chin gently pressed a glass of water into Steve’s hand and covered him with a blanket from the house. He then joined Kono on a quick search of the house and grounds, the result of which was the discovery of McGarrett’s vehicle in the bushes.

 

McGarrett felt dazed and continued to cough intermittently, but gratefully was alive and still had his faculties as he quietly observed the law enforcement personnel going about their business. Not complaining, but completely perplexed as to how he’d managed to escape permanent entombment in the Nichols’ garden, he pulled his hand from under the blanket and tugged the pant leg of Williams, who was standing protectively near his boss. Dan’s head snapped in McGarrett’s direction and he squatted and gently clutched the prone man’s damp, muddy arm, concern abundantly clear in his eyes.

 

“Steve – everything okay?”

 

Kono and Chin approached as they noted Williams responding to some perceived need of the boss. McGarrett hoped he’d offered a decent grin, but wasn’t certain from the persistent apprehension on the younger detective’s face. His voice was raspy and thick – there would be no shouting for a day or two – so he kept his words at a premium.

 

“How did you find me?” He whispered, but still had to release a muffled cough after he spoke.

 

The young detective stared distantly into his boss’s face for several seconds in contemplation. It was a long story, and Dan wasn’t entirely certain how to respond. There had been clues – no thanks to the boss himself – but there had also been something less rational, less concrete that had driven them to the house on the North Shore. If they had waited until black-and-white data painted the complete picture, there would’ve been no rescue for McGarrett, a cold, hard fact that chilled Williams. Maybe Steve would understand what had driven Dan to react contrary to everyone else’s inclination – Williams decided he would like to discuss this with his mentor one day – but for now, his answer was more pat, and he finally grinned.

 

“We’re pretty good detectives.”

 

McGarrett knew there was more to the story, but also suspected that it was going to take a mini-investigation on his part to piece it all together – and he fully intended to do it as soon as he could talk. His other two detectives nodded in agreement with Williams’ response. Everyone looked in the direction of two ambulance attendants as they rolled a gurney onto the patio.

 

Not surprisingly – and Dan was almost happy to see it – McGarrett frowned at the sight and quietly snapped.

 

“Don’t need an ambulance!”

 

Williams voice was gentle, but resolute, as he played down how serious he felt about the situation.

 

“I want Doc Bergman to take a quick look at you – make sure you didn’t inhale a worm or something.”

 

The head of Five-0 was already intellectually resigned to the trip to the hospital, but he shot one last, raspy argument at Williams.

 

“Danno – need to give you a report!”

 

“I bet you do, Steve, but it will have to wait until the doc looks at you. I’ll follow the ambulance in my car, and as soon as you can talk without coughing hibiscus seeds in my face, then I’ll take your report.” Dan grinned and squeezed McGarrett’s arm before he stood. The head of Five-0 grimaced slightly, but said no more – his youngest detective was obviously in charge at the moment.

 

As his boss was assisted onto the gurney by the two attendants, Williams turned his attention back to police business.

 

“Kono, would you please do the honors with Sandusky? Two counts of murder one, and one count of attempted murder for starters.”

 

“Sure thing, bruddah!” Kono gave Williams a pat on the back. Dan acknowledged with a quick crooked grin, and then he turned to address the Chinese detective.

 

“And Chin – about Mrs. Nichols—” Williams paused and all three detectives directed their gaze at the balled up woman, still rocking in the chair. She was humming quietly to herself and playing with strand of her long, blond hair.

 

“She needs some help – let’s get her to the hospital and put a psych hold on her.”  

 

Chin nodded emphatically. “Yeah, okay.”

 

With their orders issued, the two detectives turned to go about their business. Dan took one more look at his boss, now situated and propped up slightly on the gurney. McGarrett tiredly looked up to meet his friend’s gaze, and Williams was filled with gratitude at that moment. His head turned quickly and he called out.

 

“Kono! Chin!”

 

Both men stopped and looked back at the detective. He couldn’t think of anything adequately elegant that would let them know how grateful he was that they had supported him unequivocally throughout the tense ordeal. The story would have ended much differently had they not. He said the only thing he could think of at that moment.

 

“Mahalo nui loa, guys.”

 

The two men grinned immediately – they knew. The pair exchanged a quick look and Kono responded for the two of them.

 

“And mahalo nui loa back, kaikaina.”

 

 

*****

 

Doctor Bergman insisted on a full set of head and chest x-rays. It was obvious to McGarrett that no amount of argument was going to sway the physician, but he was still disagreeable, and used his temporarily-limited capacity for speech to grouse that he needed a shower and something to eat more than anything else.

 

Miraculously, the x-rays showed no signs of permanent injury, and Bergman had the patient moved to a room and allowed him to get cleaned up. A tray of almost palatable food was brought to him as Bergman returned with Williams to confirm the results of his examination, and that he would be detained overnight for observation.

 

“I don’t need to be observed! I need to give a full report to Danno!” There was no doubt in the minds of the two men standing there McGarrett’s bedside that the man’s voice was rapidly returning to him. Bergman and Williams looked at each other – neither man was willing to accede. Dan sighed and stepped closer to the man’s head as he spoke in mock chastisement.

 

“Now, Steve, you know what Shakespeare said!”

 

McGarrett blinked as he tried to make the appropriate association. The point came to him within a few seconds as the two men locked gazes. So much could be said between them with just a look, Steve realized. The reminder of his admonition to Danno restored a measure of good humor to the head of Five-0.

 

“About relaxing?”

 

“Yeah.” Dan grinned.

 

There was a brief tap on the door and Chin poked his head in with business on his mind.

 

“Danny, what do you wanna do about the television and newspaper people in the lobby?”

 

Williams frowned for a fraction of a second before he responded. “We’ll handle them right now!”

 

The Chinese detective nodded in acknowledgement and flashed big grin at McGarrett.

 

“Boss! Ya feelin better?”

 

Before the patient could reply, Kono pushed the door open a little farther and grinned his get-well greeting as well.

 

McGarrett flashed his men a reassuring smile and wiggled his hand in a shaka sign. Dan turned back to his boss.

 

“I’ve got to go out and make a brief statement to the press – they’re hovering in the lobby right now like vultures. When I’m done, I’ll come back and you can give your report, okay, Steve?”

 

Satisfied that everything was under control, the head of Five-0 nodded in agreement. With a quick pat on the arm, Williams turned and left with his colleagues. As the door drifted shut, a perplexed Bergman turned to his patient.

 

 “Did I just hear Kelly report to Danny?”

 

Steve, couldn’t help but grin – both Chin and Kono were good soldiers. He nodded as he looked at the doctor, but verbally responded instead with a request.

 

“I need to get to a television!”  He wanted to watch the press conference.

 

Recognizing the immediacy of the need, Bergman winked and threw an answer over his shoulder as he rushed out the door.

 

“I’ll wheel the one from the nurse’s station in here to YOU – be right back!”

 

 

*****

 

“I’m Harry James, reporting to you live from Queens Hospital, where Steve McGarrett, head of Hawaii Five-0, was brought approximately two hours ago. We’ve received unofficial confirmation that he was injured during the capture of a suspect in the string of construction worker murders here on Oahu. Interestingly, the arrest occurred at the home of building construction mogul, Trent Nichols. We hope to learn a few more details about the arrest and to find out Mr. McGarrett’s condition in the next few moments. I’m told we are about to receive a briefing from Detective Danny Williams of Five-0, who has just stepped to the podium. Listen with me.”

 

The image of the thin, serious man was lost in the shuffle as the camera re-focused on the lectern, which had three or four microphones attached to it. Still camera flashes were reminiscent of a popcorn popper when Dan, Chin, and Kono first appeared and made their way to the podium, but occurred only sporadically after that. The detectives were wearing ties with their dirt-streaked, white shirts but did not bother to don their mud-caked suit jackets. Chin and Kono came to stand behind Williams, one at each elbow, with stone expressions and arms crossed like Egyptian guards. Dan paused for a few moments to study the audience and get mentally centered before he addressed the crowd of fifteen members of the press and at least twenty hospital employees. He did not read from a paper, and in fact seemed to be speaking spontaneously.

 

“Today at approximately six o’clock PM, a suspect was arrested and charged with the murders of Stanley Davis and Dennis Keali. Joseph Wayne Sandusky, age thirty nine, works for Nichols Construction Company, and is being held without bail. Steve McGarrett– my boss—” Dan gave the slightest grin before he continued. “is currently hospitalized for the evening as a result of minor injuries he sustained during an altercation with the suspect, who has also been charged with attempted murder. No other arrests were made this evening. Are there any questions?”

 

A flurry of voices echoed in the acoustically dismal lobby, and Dan pointed into the audience.

 

“Detective Williams, first, can you confirm that the arrest occurred at the home of Trent Nichols, and second, can you tell us whether Mr. Nichols or any of his family members were at home at the time?

 

“The arrest did in fact occur at the North Shore residence of Mr. Nichols, who was not at home at the time. His wife, Janice Nichols, was at home, but was not injured.”

 

“Danny, why was the suspect at Nichols’ home? Is Mr. Nichols involved or under suspicion in this case?”

 

“As I mentioned earlier, Joseph Sandusky is an employee of Mr. Nichols, as were murder victims Stanley Davis and Mark Gordon, who evidence indicates was killed in self-defense by Dennis Keali. Trent Nichols is not a suspect, nor do we have any reason to believe that he was involved. More facts will be made available to the press at such time as the investigation has been officially closed. Thank you – no more questions.”

 

“Danny, wait! Why are you guys so—not to be insulting – but all three of you look pretty awful!” The observation caused a ripple of laughter and agreement.

 

All three detectives, for the first time during the press conference, had to smile and take a quick look at each other. Dan turned back to the podium and replied.

 

“Thanks for noticing, Debbie! We’re working detectives, and sometimes we have to get dirty to get the job done.” The response was received with more chuckles and nods of appreciation. The detectives turned to leave again, but one last question was fired too loudly through the crowd.

 

“Danny, you’ve been popping up lately in place of McGarrett. Are you his new puppet?” Recognizing the coarse voice of Craig Willis, Dan stopped, his back already to the crowd. He considered not bothering to respond, but he noticed that the room had grown quiet in anticipation of an answer. He sighed to himself and turned back only long enough to give Willis a steely eye.

 

“You’ll have to ask the puppet master.” More chuckles ensued, and with a slight nod Dan joined his two colleagues and retreated back through the door through which they’d entered a few minutes earlier.

 

Kono and Chin slapped, pushed, and patted their associate in praise of his statement and fielding of questions. Dan did not think he was nervous going in, but had to admit that he was tremendously relieved now that it was over. The trio said good night, and, as promised, Dan returned to McGarrett’s room to take whatever report his boss felt up to giving.

 

Steve had taken a couple bites of food and pushed the tray away. He looked up slowly when Dan tapped on the door and entered, notebook and pencil in hand. Williams did not bother pulling up a chair – instead he patted the obviously tired, but smiling  patient on his covered leg, and sat down on the end of the bed.

 

“Excellent press conference, Danno – even I learned something.” Steve issued the commendation – his voice was hoarse and more quiet than usual, but the take-charge tone was back, a fact which greatly relieved Williams.

 

Dan frowned slightly, but the almost shy smile from the praise would not be vanquished from his face just yet. “What did you learn?”

 

“You didn’t book Janice Nichols.”

 

Williams’ expression darkened. “By the time she’d coughed up the information about where you were… God, buried, she was just a catatonic puddle.” He closed his eyes for a few seconds and shuddered slightly as the what-if-she-hadn’t-talked scenario pushed into his head. “She may end up with an accessory charge, but right now, she needs psychiatric help.”

 

McGarrett saw a raw memory in his detective’s eyes – Steve had not been the only one who’d survived an ordeal. He wondered whether he had any words of wisdom that would help the young man, but in order to know that, he had to understand what happened and how it came to pass.

 

“Danno… you feel up to telling me… what you didn’t tell me earlier when I asked?”

 

Williams knew when he’d brushed off the question earlier with the we’re-good-detectives line that his boss would not let that set for long. To relive the hour was not something he wanted to do right then, but he could understand Steve’s desire to know – if their positions were reversed, he would feel the same way. The young detective was immediately disinclined to hide any aspect of the story no matter how difficult it would be to relate – he realized that it would only be a matter of time before his tenacious boss would piece together the unvarnished truth – and woe be to the detective who omitted anything. Dan swallowed and managed a crooked grin.

 

“You’re the one in the bed – if YOU feel up to listening, I can get through the story – I just hope— well – it all turned out okay.”

 

McGarrett agreed gently. “Yeah, Danno, it did.”

 

Williams began his tale at the point where he’d returned triumphantly from the budget meeting. He described the thread of emotions  -- how his anxiety turned to concern and then to fear for what had happened to his boss. Appearing almost guilt-ridden, he explained that his growing suspicion arose only partially from the solid evidence the detectives were obliged to use. He confessed the doubt that had cropped up when the facts did not quite get them to where they needed to be, and he stood alone in his belief that McGarrett was in deadly peril. Dan could not bring himself to look at Steve when he told of his horror at seeing the photo of Trent Nichols and realizing that Jan had lied to him.

 

He admitted that he weighed the implications of being right – and not acting – against being wrong – and acting. There was no doubt in the young man’s mind – when he rolled the HPD units with lights – that he was risking the reputation of Five-0 on a hunch.

 

Dan described his gut-wrenching experience as he rushed into the Nichols’ residence, confronted the uncooperative Sandusky, and then realized with trepidation that the only one left who MIGHT be willing to help was rapidly losing touch with reality.

 

“Steve, when I knew what Sandusky had done, and we started to dig… I was so scared…I, uh…” Dan looked down at his notebook. “I thought I didn’t make it in time – all because I kept us targeted on the wrong suspect.” He paused, caught in the vivid memory of his hands clawing frantically in the dirt. After several seconds, he managed to work through the crushing dread he’d just relived, and found himself embarrassed at his emotional admission.

 

He shrugged and shook his head, knowing he’d just opened himself up for the well-deserved bad-assumptions-lead-to-bad-conclusions lecture, and perhaps the toughen-up-Danno speech. The young detective was a little surprised when only silence ensued. He let his field of vision slowly move up the bed sheets and to the reclining patient’s face. The expected expression of long-suffering consternation was not there – as a matter of fact, it was not angry at all. His mentor instead was offering him a temperate smile.

 

McGarrett had listened to the emotionally-loaded story, and saw how easily it could have had a different ending had Danno not pushed through his fear and fought ferociously to follow his instincts. The head of Five-0 already knew his young detective well enough to know that Williams had to reach deep inside himself to affect his rescue.

 

“Danno, you’ve just told me what you did, why you did it, and how you felt while you were doing it. Do you want me to tell you what I would’ve done if I’d been in your place?”

 

Williams shifted slightly on the bed, and nodded. “Yeah, I think I do.”

 

“With the same information at my fingertips, and operating under the same constraints, I would’ve done EXACTLY what you did for the same reasons, and I think I would’ve felt the same way.” McGarrett was pleased that his revelation had an immediate positive effect on the young man.

 

Dan breathed a sigh of relief even as he confirmed the answer. “You mean that, Steve?”

 

McGarrett nodded only slightly as he maintained a steady gaze at his protégé. “I think you know me better than that, Danno.”

 

Williams grinned. “I guess I do.”

 

“Now, what do you think about taking me home?”

 

Dan held up his hand and shook his head. “Oh, no! I won’t be a party to a jail break tonight! Bergman says you can leave at the crack of dawn if you’re so inclined.”

 

“And I am so inclined, Danno.” McGarrett, expecting Williams’ refusal, did not waste any more breath arguing. .

 

“I’ll come get you.” Thoughts of transportation sprang to mind. “I had your car taken to your place – the keys are with your stuff here.”

 

“Thanks for taking care of business, Danno.” The head of Five-0 looked at the young man. The reporter was right – he was a mess. He’d been so relieved to see all of his men that he had not noticed their disheveled condition.

 

The head of Five-0 looked washed-out, but insisted – as long as Dan was willing   on making a statement about the events that transpired that afternoon. There would have been no way that Williams would admit to his boss that he was hungry, tired, and emotionally wiped out. Instead, he pulled the hospital tray over and munched on the untouched celery and carrot sticks as he listened to McGarrett’s riveting tale of Janice Nichols and her missteps with Sandusky.

 

 

*****

 

Dan snapped to alertness just as his head dropped far enough towards his chest to put him off balance. He looked around and realized that he’d dozed off while waiting for McGarrett to go to sleep. Still sitting on the end of the bed in the now-dimly lit hospital room, he was relieved that he hadn’t awakened the patient by falling onto him.

 

He knew there was no logical reason he needed to remain after McGarrett finished making his statement, but the patient closed his eyes within a minute thereafter, and the room grew so quiet that Dan found it difficult to overcome the inertia of comfortable immobility.

 

He was spent from his own report to Steve, but enormously glad that he’d plunged ahead with the whole story, as it had taken a huge weight from his shoulders – and now, to know that McGarrett himself would have done the same thing was – given his second-in-command quandary – life changing. It was all falling into place in his mind. The events of the day – and of the previous weeks… Steve’s confident assertions, some actually backed by facts. He’d passed a test of fire or two in the leadership department – there would be more to come, but now he realized that he had it in himself to overcome the doubt and take action.

 

A big concern still hovered in Dan’s mind though. Even if their evening meeting had gone off as planned, and he’d been able to explain what would have to happen in order for them to move forward, Williams was coming to know his boss well enough to see that Steve, while not deliberately dismissing the prophecy out-of-hand, could only pay it lip service – until the point in time he actually experienced it – felt it.

 

The detective carefully slipped off the bed and stretched. He wished he could think of a way to demonstrate to his mentor how it would be should he – Detective Dan Williams – officially take on the responsibility of second-in-command of Five-0. Grabbing his notebook, he paused for one final look at his soundly-sleeping friend before deciding he could muse on this problem from the comfort of his own bed.

 

 

*****

 

 

McGarrett flexed his shoulder muscles slightly as he climbed the grand staircase at the Palace. The physical fallout from his underground ordeal seemed to be retreating fairly quickly, but there were definitely some bruises and a knot that was a little larger than the one Danno had on the side of his head after his tumble down the hill. There was always an extra measure of work to be done in the days after a large case was solved, and he was not about to get behind the curve, aching muscles or not.

 

When Danno had collected him from the hospital early that morning, he’d let the detective know that he wanted to have a ten o’clock all-hands meeting to put a bow on the Davis-Keali case. Williams, after a terse reassurance from McGarrett that he was feeling fine, promised to pass it on as he dropped his boss off at home around seven o’clock.

 

It was nine forty five as he pushed the door open with a little extra-hard shove, just in case anybody inside the office might think him unfit for duty. May, Chin, and Kono all greeted their boss, but it was May that mentioned that he should have stayed at home for a day at least. He acknowledged her concern with a brief squeeze of her shoulder, but dismissed the opinion without another thought as he looked down at her desk to grab his phone messages.

 

He stopped short. Sitting on top of the small stack of phone messages was a yellow-bow-adorned, small, fuzzy, toy Chihuahua – a dash ornament for a car – the kind with the wobbling head.  Chin and Kono joined the pair, curious as to the significance of the strange gift they’d seen placed there. They studied Steve’s incredulous expression as he collected the toy. Right through it’s little plastic head was a bullet hole. It had done enough damage that the head was permanently cocked to one side. He pulled a small rolled up paper from the dog’s collar. Everyone looked over the boss’s shoulder, and found themselves even more perplexed. There were no words of explanation – only a phrase:

 

400 Yards

 

“What on earth?” May exclaimed. Steve began to grin as he understood the message. He quickly panned around the office.

 

“Where’s Danno?”

 

May grabbed something from the top of the stack of McGarrett’s messages and handed it to her boss. In an exaggerated official tone, she told him.

 

“Danny instructed me to give this to you when you inquired as to his whereabouts!” It was his own business card – Steve McGarrett, Lead Detective, etc, etc.

 

Steve turned to look at Kono and Chin, both of whom returned perplexed frowns.

 

“What does it mean?” May was obviously in the dark as well.

 

The owner of the card started to admit that he had no idea, but flipped the card over. Written there in Williams’ bold print was a phrase, which Steve recognized immediately – because Dan had used McGarrett’s own cryptic shorthand.

 

9-28-67 – 0950 Int w/ DW ico 0 on M501 --

 

“Apparently, I have a private appointment with him. It makes sense – everything except the ‘ON’ part.” McGarrett glanced at his watch. – nine forty eight – as he mused out loud.

 

“Let’s see, if I take his meaning literally… that’s nuts…”  He let out a single short laugh and shook his head. “That would mean that…” Jolted with the realization that his youngest detective was probably serious, he threw an open-mouthed expression at the sane members of his perplexed staff before he flung open his office door rushed out onto his lanai in just a few strides. As he reached the railing, he looked out into the parking lot and saw what he was afraid he’d see. Aggravation and confusion flooded him as he spun and trotted out of the office to be on time for his nine fifty appointment with Danno.

 

The other detectives and the secretary passed McGarrett as he rushed out of the office. The trio looked at each other -- still completely in the dark – before they moved to the lanai railing to see what their kaikaina had done to light such a fire under their boss. It didn’t take long before May gasped.

 

“Oh, my!”

 

The two detectives voiced their shock in unison.

 

“Auwe!”

 

Danny Williams was standing on the roof of Steve McGarrett’s LTD. He looked perfectly normal in his suit as he displayed his badge to two surprised passers by and apparently indicated that they needed to move on.

 

In less than a minute, they saw their boss taking the stone steps out of the building by twos and angle his path directly toward his car.

 

Under her breath, May whispered a prayer.

 

“Please don’t let the boss kill him and please don’t let the phone ring…”

 

 

*****

 

 

As he approached his vehicle, he slowed to a walk. There was no doubt that he felt outraged, but mixed in with that was the fervent hope that his protégé had a reason – how it could be a good one, he couldn’t fathom – for the bizarre and unacceptable act. After all, it was clear that the young man was not standing by mistake in front of the Iolani Palace on top of the vehicle of the chief of the state police.

 

Williams looked down at his watch as he saw that McGarrett was no more than twenty feet from his car.

 

“Right on time, Steve!”

 

It took an effort, but McGarrett kept his voice on an even keel.

 

“WHAT are you doing?”

 

“I have something for you, if you still want it.” Dan offered a slight grin as he pulled a folded paper from his pocket and tossed it onto the hood of the LTD.

 

McGarrett gave the detective a steely-eyed, suspicious glare as he collected the paper and unfolded it. He scrutinized the document though there was no need – he’d spent countless hours musing on it, pulled it out of his desk drawer at least a few times each day to look at it  – the only difference now was that it contained both of the signatures that made Danny Williams his second-in-command. It was the symbol of his all-important objective. For a few moments, his delight – not reflected outwardly – made him forget that there was a detective on his roof – and not just any detective. The hodge-podge of conflicting emotions spinning inside of him made him uncertain as to how to react – and this fact further frustrated him. He took in a slow breath and released it, determined that he would not react in the extreme – yet.

 

He slowly pulled his eyes from the paper and looked up at the very serious Williams. A faint smile crossed McGarrett’s lips.

 

“Okay, I still want it.”

 

Dan let out a slight sigh, perhaps of relief, and nodded at the man below.

 

“I’m very glad to hear you say that, Steve. You’ve been telling me that I can do this, and now…” Dan paused and looked up at the façade of the Palace for a few moments before he reacquired eye contact with his boss. “Now I believe you. I know I have a lot to learn, but you already know that. In the past few days, I’ve come to realize what I need to do in order to be of value to you in the second slot – not that I’ve totally figured out how to go about doing it, but it’s a start.”

 

McGarrett crossed his arms and, after the slightest nod, cocked his head to one side. Everything Danno had said was good news – better than good --- it was great news. But the young man on his roof wasn’t finished.

 

“Now – we have a small team, and we all have to work closely together, but I can see, just from my limited experience over the past weeks, that the chief and his second have to be able to work in pretty close quarters, so to speak. It’s more important that we always try to find common ground.”

 

Dan squatted on his haunches, leaned his elbows on his knees, and clasped his hands together – the position looked painful to McGarrett, not one in the know about surfer exercises   but Williams looked comfortable as he continued.

 

“You and Ray had very different perspectives on a lot of things – and maybe different ways of handling things. It won’t be any different with me. You’re gonna find me in places that you don’t want me to be – like NOW maybe. It will never be my goal to disagree with you just to be different, but we WILL disagree at some point. And you know what’s gonna have to happen then that NEVER did happen with you and Ray? We’ll have to talk it through – and in the end, I’ll move to your position OR maybe you’ll decide to move to mine. What do you think about that, Steve?”

 

The detective’s inflection and intense focus on his boss revealed to McGarrett the great importance Williams attached to his answer. Steve’s eyes had been locked on the young man as he spoke, but he looked away for a moment as he considered the best way to respond.

 

Danno was letting him know right from the start that – although he would eagerly accept the wisdom of the chief’s experience – he intended to find his own way as well – certainly a position to respect. McGarrett had not selected the detective as his second because he expected him to be a puppet – on the contrary— the young man perched above him came with his own unique approach to many things – including making a point!

The head of Five-0 looked back up at his new second-in-command, who did look entirely too young to have the responsibility that he’d just accepted.

 

“Well, Danno…”

 

He started and then caught the younger man off guard as he suddenly climbed onto the hood of his LTD and then began to climb onto the roof. Knowing his boss still had to be sore from his horrific experience the day before, a surprised Williams quickly stood and reached out to grab his boss’s hand. The pair rose again to stand upright, and noticed several people had approached to look at the oddity.

 

McGarrett pulled his wallet out of his suit and casually displayed his badge.

“Official police business, folks – nothing to see here. Move along!”

 

Dan grinned and looked with admiration at the man next to him as Steve grasped his hand to shake it and finish the thought.

 

“Maybe this time, Danno, I’ll move to your position.”

 

 

*****

 

As the head of Five-0 and his second-in-command strolled back into the office, they found their colleagues concentrating unusually hard on their various work-related efforts. Steve and Dan looked at each other as they noticed that nobody even looked up from their work. Fully aware that the trio had witnessed at least part – probably all – of the scene in the parking lot a few minutes ago, he gave Williams a knowing look.

 

“Danno, this is a classic example of the pretend-you-don’t-notice-the-elephant-in-the-office syndrome.”

 

Chin slowly turned in his chair and Kono stepped out of his office to acknowledge their colleagues. May reluctantly hung up the phone without so much as a goodbye to whomever might have been on the other end and proffered a tentative smile to the returnees. A mix of guilt and uncertainty was present on all of their faces – they’d been caught spying – spying on WHAT they weren’t precisely sure. Amusement in his eyes, the head of Five-0 put them at ease with a grin as he and Dan renewed his progress towards his office.

 

“It’s ten o’clock – don’t we all have a meeting to attend?”

 

The three voyeurs jumped as they saw that the morning seemed to be suddenly back on schedule. May rushed to the coffee pot and poured a fresh cup for her boss before she brought up the rear in the procession. Each of them quietly burned with curiosity as they settled into their usual places around the big desk –

each of them noticed that, not only had McGarrett not done bodily harm to their young colleague, but that he’d returned in tremendously good humor.

 

Dan, settled into his spot on the corner of the boss’s desk, and after cracking opening his notebook and jotting something down, turned to look expectantly at McGarrett, who was leaning his elbows on his desk to more closely study the little dog dash ornament. His audience watched him silently for a good twenty seconds before he chuckled and looked at Williams.

 

“And I thought I was the big kahuna of the metaphorical lesson!”

 

Dan grinned and finally snickered. “You are the big kahuna, Steve – that was YOUR lesson – not mine.”

 

McGarrett let the chuckle die, but continued to smile at his detective. “I wasn’t talking about the dog, Danno.”

 

Williams flushed at the compliment. Utterly delighted with his boss’s agreement with his “conditions” and physical demonstration to that effect, Dan sighed and nodded, expressing his gratitude only visually.

 

“Okay, boss!” Chin exclaimed. “I work for you eight years now – and I never see you have meeting on car roof!” Glad to have the Chinese detective take the lead, Kono and May said nothing, but nodded slightly in agreement.

 

Both Williams and McGarrett looked at Kelly and then back at each other quickly before the head of Five-0 leaned back in his chair and grinned.

 

“All right, point taken! For the first and LAST time—” Steve shot a warning glance at the nodding Dan as he spoke. “You witnessed me having a meeting on the roof on my car… with my second-in-command.” He crossed his arms and looked at Williams., who could only make eye contact with him for a second before he was physically accosted by his co-workers with shoves, pats, and hugs.

 

Dan was delighted with the grins and warm expressions of congratulations. He’d suspected they would all be supportive, especially after the events of the previous day, but to see the approval in their eyes meant a lot to him.

 

McGarrett reveled silently in the upbeat reception taking place in front of his desk. It was a great day for Five-0 – and for him personally. Danno was right – they’d have their ups and downs, but he felt optimistic that there would be more of the former – and he – Steve McGarrett – would do his part to see that this was so. He reached into his pocket and retrieved the assignment paper, which was getting more worn with each folding maneuver it had to survive, and spread it out flat on his desk – the signature had not vanished. He was returned to the present moment by Williams’ voice.

 

“Mahalo, everybody – I’m really gonna try to do a great job for you.”

 

“Bruddah, after yesterday, there ain’t no doubt about it – you gonna do moh bettah than great!” Kono loudly and dramatically dropped into Pigeon English.

 

May laughed and patted Kono as she agreed. “Yeah, Danny – way moh bettah!”

 

As much as the head of Five-0 was enjoying the scene, he realized that Williams’ surprise this morning and the resulting announcement to the team left him with a need to hustle. Until McGarrett informed Governor Jameson of his decision – merely a courtesy, not a contingency – they were all in an awkward position of secrecy.

 

“That reminds me – the three of you are the first to know about this, so you’ll have to keep it on the QT until I let the governor know and put out the press release. May, you need to get me on the governor’s schedule – I need to see him this morning, if at all possible.” The trio nodded and May slipped out to follow her boss’s instructions.

 

 

*****

 

 

“Steve, you know that I support your decision, but how on earth are you going to respond to the naysayers when they say he’s too young?”

 

“Danny Williams is NOT too young – he’s just NOT old! What does he bring to the table? Dedication… energy… superb detective skills… high standards… a good attitude… a unique and fresh perspective… a phenomenal attention to detail… I could throw out a dozen more positive attributes that nobody in the law enforcement community who knows him will dispute. I submit, sir, that there will come a day when anybody who publicly decried this appointment will wish they’d kept their mouths shut!”

 

Governor Jameson, fully aware that he himself had given Steve McGarrett complete autonomy with regard to the selection of his staff, ran a hand over his entire face slowly and leaned forward onto his desk to listen to the chief of the state police further expound the virtues of the detective he’d just appointed his second-in-command. There was nothing he could do about it – and exactly what he would have done if he had any control over the decision, he wasn’t certain. McGarrett had just made a compelling case that the very young – correction – NOT OLD Danny Williams was the right choice for the job.

 

 

*****

 

“Steve, do you feel the cauldron beginning to bubble?”

 

McGarrett turned to see his second-in-command join him on the lanai. The press release would go out in the morning, but the coconut wireless had already begun transmitting the news. The governor had already let several senior-level government officials in on the news and McGarrett himself had felt an obligation to call Chief Dannthat the word would spread like wildfire now was a foregone conclusion.

 

The head of Five-0 chuckled as the detective came to lean on the railing next to him.

 

“Oh, it’s bubbling all right, Danno, but don’t let that scare you.”

 

Williams looked up at his boss. “I feel like I’m on the edge of a cliff – one wrong move and---” The detective whistled the sound of something falling a long way.

 

“Well, just remember – you’re not there alone.” With a smile, McGarrett patted his second-in-command on the back. More hurdles were on the horizon, but optimism filled both men as each knew that the edge didn’t have to be lonely.

 

 

PAU