YESTERDAY DIED AND TOMORROW WON'T BE BORN
". . . all my troubles seemed so far away . . . "
Irrelevantly, the Beatles' song -- no lines from the song -- YESTERDAY played continuously in his head. The tune always made him think of slow dancing and romantic whisperings. Until this week he never understood the lyrics -- until he almost lost Steve McGarrett to three assassin's bullets.
As he drove from the hospital back to Iolani Palace the track was unfortunately familiar to Dan Williams now. Just a short route from his barely alive boss' side to the office. Now burdened by a personal affirmation of a new definition of trouble, he realized he'd had things pretty easy up to now in his short, but happy life.
He grabbed a stick of Juicyfruit from the glove box and folded it into his mouth. Why did he ever let Steve talk him into quitting smoking?
What a jolt -- his friend, his mentor -- gunned down and nearly killed by a vengeful psycho. It had been almost impossible to separate the personal side of the tragedy from his professional duties as second-in-command and temporary leader of Five-0 when Steve was out of the action.
There had always been resentment and doubt surrounding his appointment to Five-0. Then more conflict when Steve officially named him the unit's second-in-command a few months back when Steve went on a surprise holiday/business trip and left Dan holding the reins of the squad. It had pushed Dan into a readiness level he didn't know he possessed.
That entrance into the political arena, and there was no doubt Five-0 could be more politics sometimes than cop duties, had been a shock to the young and rather naïve Williams. Then, and this week when many believed Steve would die, Dan had fought just to do his job as a police officer. Against criminals, the press and even the governor and attorney general, Williams had fought for respect, for justice -- and at the deepest level -- self-respect.
No, that wasn't entirely true. Not self-respect , but the respect of the one person who's opinion meant the most to him, the person unknowingly in the center of the tropical hurricane of law and order in Hawaii. After all was said and done, it was McGarrett's opinion that mattered to Dan more than anything else. The drive to find the shooter, to save Walter Stuart -- even the hospital vigils to keep an eye on Steve's progress -- all were motivated by what his boss would think when he pulled through.
When Williams joined Five-0, when he became the second-in-command, when Steve was shot and it looked like he might die -- Dan felt certain the governor or Stuart would throw him out of Five-0. Dan still didn't know what had saved him, except maybe the over shadowing concern that if McGarrett recovered he would lay his full wrath on any one who dared mess with his unit. Williams' reputation and skill were not questioned after he killed Steve's shooter and simultaneously stopped Trinian from killing Stuart , and maybe even the governor! And little thanks he received after that good bit of shooting, either. Fire him because he's too young to be a good leader, but don't thank him when he saves lives because he's just doing his job. Politics!
Mingled with that complex concern of his abilities, was the much more serious shadow that darkened everything he did for the last several days. The fear that Steve McGarrett would die. In the long, sleepless hours the primal dread of death colored everything. Until this week, until that horrific moment on the beach when he knelt in the bloody sand next to his friend -- yes, his friend -- did Williams realize the enormous presence of Steve in his life.
There had been role models, even heroes in Dan's life before: Uncle Jim, who left him to fight a war and returned to raise him -- never marrying or worrying about anybody but him. Big Jack McNeil, Uncle Jim's most memorable partner, who cut a larger-than-life swath in the annals of HPD history. Kahuna and Tutu Kulani, who practically raised him and other kids during the war, putting Kana Kulani through medical school, and remaining selfless examples all their lives.
When Dan was still walking a beat on the Honolulu streets he had heard of Steve McGarrett, the tough, no-compromise haole cop who ran Five-0 like a boot camp. Meeting Steve for the first time [A FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING] Dan understood the respect, veneration, even dismay inspired by McGarrett. That first day, under stressful moments of life and death, Dan had seen an incredible larger-than-life hero deal calmly and justly with a killer, a recalcitrant cop and a young HPD sniper who had never killed anyone before.
In the year since, Dan had accrued nothing but esteem for McGarrett. Sure, Steve could be harsh sometimes, but Dan knew, in retrospect, he would never learn anything from an irresolute boss. Steve's methods sometimes lacked patience, but exhibited plenty of generosity. Far beyond on-the-job-training, McGarrett took time to teach Williams lessons in crime solving, rational thinking and tenacity. More than anything else, Steve's quiet but consistent certainty that Dan was a great cop bolstered his confidence.
When Steve had asked him, a few minutes ago, how he was doing -- then praised him -- it had been the greatest moment of his life. Surpassing that incredible day when Steve asked him to join Five-0. Carrying the burden of responsibility for Five-0 had been awesome and nerve-wracking. Dreading Steve's death had been harrowing. Dan was relieved and grateful the worst was behind him. He hoped. He grabbed another stick of gum and chewed it into the one still in his mouth.
Instead of measuring himself against Uncle Jim, or Big Jack, Williams saw himself as a cop in his own right. Undoubtedly, though, with a new role model. On that beach near Waimanalo, Dan had slammed into a fear he had found nearly numbing and he would do anything to keep that from happening again. There had been men in his life he would struggle to emulate. Now he discovered there was a mentor in his life he would die for.
Leaning his head back against the pillow, McGarrett wondered at the smile playing at his lips. Normally hospital stays drove him to frustrated distraction. Today, while anxious to be rid of the dull pain and leave the sterile, odorous room, he felt remarkably good. His troubles seemed so far away. Probably the medication. No, it was his conversation with his second-in-command.
Danno had a real knack for pulling him out of the dark pits and into some kind of normalcy. The young cop was tired, stressed and relieved. How many times had he mentioned he was glad Steve was alive? McGarrett had lost count. How many times had the doctor said Williams had called or haunted the hospital awaiting McGarrett's recovery? The doctor had lost count.
Not for the first time in the last several months, Steve wondered what he'd gotten himself into by appointing Williams to Five-0. Unreserved energy, talent and loyalty to name a few things. Unparalleled devotion, Steve was just discovering. McGarrett had inspired respect in the Navy and mostly resentful acceptance as head of Five-0. Fealty and affection was something new that Dan Williams brought to the mix of personalities in the police unit. At first it unsettled Steve, then flattered him, and now he knew he wouldn't want to run Five-0 without it.
There had been many that fought and complained when he chose Williams as the newest Five-0 member earlier this year. Cited as being too young and inexperienced, older cops, politicians and reporters condemned the choice. Certain of the skill and potential of Danno, Steve never looked back. In Dan, he saw strange undercurrents of self-doubt and inexperience, but an inherent raw talent, a tremendous adventurous spirit to learn and grow, without the ambition to take over the throne from McGarrett.
When McGarrett went to Switzerland a few months ago, he had sprung a surprise on everyone, mostly Williams, by naming Danno his second-in-command. And in charge of Five-0 until his return from the holiday. Baptism of fire -- that's when you saw the true mettle and endurance of a tested man. Danno had performed admirably and McGarrett felt the fate of Five-0 was safe in Williams' hands no matter what. A perfect heir apparent for his kingdom, but not one anxious to usurp the crown.
After the recent shooting, when Steve had regained consciousness, Williams was there in the room, immediately assuaging any concerns about Five-0. When he learned that Danno had solved the crime of who shot him, then saved Stuart from assassination, McGarrett had felt more than justified. Inside he had glowed with pride at his young friend; gratification at Danno's sharp cop abilities, satisfaction of knowing his instincts had picked the right man for the job.
Settling back, preparing for sleep, Steve allowed the smile to broaden. Troubles seemed remote -- distant. When he was well enough to get out of here, he would find all running smoothly at Five-0. There was only one thing that was better than being proven right. That was having his world just the way he liked it.