B L U E     H A W A I I

 

Written by GM and KS

 

 

 

 

 

Mahalo editors BB and KB

RATED AA for aanguish

PG-13 for violence and intensity

 

 

February 1974

 

 

 

As Dan Williams studied the crime scene in the small room, he pondered the complexities of choices.  Initially, stepping into the shack, his mind had seized at the horror, even as his stomach rippled with illness at the horrendous residue of violence.  For his own sanity, he mentally clicked off the revulsion and settled into a clinical level of observation and objective analysis. 

 

Early on in his career, he was forced to learn to walk the fine line between humanity and callousness; sympathy and professionalism.  Policemen saw things no normal human should be subjected to, and this was a prime example.  With a deep breath, he pushed away the knowledge that last night this mangled person had been a young and vital college student.  Today, she was the victim of a brutal murder.

 

Rubbing fingers through his sandy, curly hair, he surveyed the gruesome scene.  “What do we know so far?” he quietly asked his colleagues.

 

Ben Kokua’s dark face struggled to hide his repulsion.  Duke Lukela, his stern expression adding age to his mid-forty demeanor, already had his notebook out and consulted it.

 

“The victim’s name was Lynn Thompson.  A friend came this morning,” Lukela supplied, reading.  “She walked in on this.”

 

“Nasty.”

 

“Yeah.  I have her information.  She went home.  Pretty upset.”

 

“I bet,” Dan breathed.

 

The beach house was a surfer hang out when the waves on the leeward coast were good.  It also doubled as a party shack.  Beer bottles and marijuana joints were evidence there was a wild party here lately.  The slim, slightly-built Williams pieced his way carefully through the strewn trash.  He felt one of the beer cans with the back of his hand.  Still cool.  So, the party didn’t end until recently.  The torn-up furniture, the blood on the walls, the savage condition of the corpse, attested that the party became exceedingly violent.

 

“Drugs,” Ben judged, his tall, muscular frame crouching over the mess, searching the toppled table trash on the floor.  There’s some packages here with a bluish powder.”

 

Lukela looked up from his notebook.  “Blue?  Like the dopers on Maunakea Street?”

 

“And those tourists up at the Pali last week.”  Kokua muttered unintelligible words.  “Blue.”

 

Duke scoffed.  “I heard the crazy downtown took ten rounds before they could drop him.  Officer Tanaka is still in the hospital from the guy’s insane attack.”

 

A new drug was all law enforcement needed, Williams internally sighed with sarcasm.  Terrorists, refugees, and spies – they had handled a lot of criminals at Five-0.  Addicts that were strong, deranged and murderous were a new element he hoped would pass soon.  Unlikely, the realist within whispered.  As long as there were discontented people willing to get high, there would be grief and problems for the public as well as the police.

 

This Blue powder was something dangerous and deadly.  Blue Hawaii, the coconut wireless called it.  A fast, powerful high that sent the users into ecstasy and delight.  At least at first.  Then the drug seemed to slide the user into delusions, anger, violence and sometimes death.  To the street punks Blue Hawaii was a funny joke on the old standard song and the clean and crisp image of the movie.  Law Enforcement just called it Blue.  Before they were done with this nasty drug, it would be making a lot of people blue, in the depressing sense of the expression.  Nothing but heartache and misery came from drugs of any name or color.

 

First coming to the notice of HPD and Five-0 a few weeks ago when two hopped up street people attacked shoppers on Maunakea Street, it was a harsh introduction to the new drug.  Seven people were injured.   One dead when the drugged up young man and woman from Japan threw a guy from Indiana off the cliff.  Several teenagers were in the mental ward of Queen’s Hospital still trapped in delusions.  They were wandering against Waikiki traffic in the middle of the night, traces of Blue on their hands.

 

Last week some Asian tourists attacked a tour group at the Pali Lookout.  In the survivor’s pocket, a tinted powder the police nicknamed Blue.  When HPD arrived, the deranged couple had stopped traffic on the freeway.  It was a miracle there had been no major pile-up.  The woman had thrown herself in front of a car and was instantly killed.  The young man was still in and out of cognizance, with no memory of anything beyond driving up to see the Pali. 

 

Now here it was again.  Shaking his head, Dan sidestepped the crime lab photographer and sadly sighed at the bloodied corpse.  He predicted Five-0 and HPD were in for a tough time on this one.

 

Strolling outside the shack, he breathed in the fresh ocean air and collected his thoughts as the warm tropical sun baked his face.  A black sedan sped up and braked fast by the line of HPD cars.  Almost smiling, Dan walked toward the Mercury.  He should have guessed this would bring Steve out. 

 

“What have we got, Danno?” Steve McGarrett barked as he exited the car.

 

Anyone who didn’t know McGarrett would immediately be impressed by the over-six-foot detective.   With a strong jaw, broad shoulders and an imposing bearing that emanated authority, the head of Five-0 strode up to the scene, all-business and eager to attack the problem.

 

The stocky Asian, Chin Ho Kelly, at a more sedate pace, climbed out from the passenger side of the car and joined his colleagues.

 

“Blue,” Williams responded tersely.

 

The succinct explanation turned McGarrett’s expression to a hard plane of grim disgust.  “You’re sure?”

 

“Found residue in there.  Won’t know for sure until the lab has it, but it’s a blue powder.  No one’s going to take a chance on touching it,” he assured with irony. 

 

According to the lab, it was highly toxic from ingestion, absorption or inhalation. A refined Oriental twist on LSD and PCP, this hallucinogen worked fast, creating intense highs, then altering into violent behavior with dramatic delusions.  Hours or days later, if the user was still alive, the drug wore off.  

 

Shaking his head at the troubling news, he snapped his fingers.  “Bad?” McGarrett wondered as he approached the shack.

 

“Very.”

 

Entering the shack, frowning, Steve avoided the body and crouched down to study the powder in question.  “Nasty.  And deadly.” 

 

“Careful, Steve,” Dan cringed.  “Don’t get downwind.”

 

McGarrett cautiously touched the trash with a pencil. 

 

“Yeah, we don’t want to scrape you off the lava rocks, bruddah,” Lukela warned.

 

Backing away, McGarrett shook his head, disgusted at the drug-induced crime.  Ben came over and handed him a clear evidence bag.  Inside, was a bloodstained piece of cloth.  “Looks like a uniform.”

 

“Aloha – something – p-p-l-y.  Supply?” McGarrett questioned his detectives.

 

“Aloha Restaurant Supply,” Chin gruffed.  “Kumu front.”

 

Glancing at his officers, McGarrett’s jaw tightened.  “Kumu.  Pahoa’s mob.”  He narrowed his eyes and stared at Duke.  “Didn’t one of your informants come up with a lead on a connection between Blue and the Kumu?”

 

“One of mine,” Dan corrected.  “From Canton Dragon.  He says Kumu is pushing the drug through the supply vans of the Aloha Restaurant Supply.  But he could never corroborate it.”

 

Before Steve could comment, a patrolman ran over from one of the squad cars.  The officer reported the police scanner announced a crazy-man taking apart a grocery store in Mililani.  The Five-0 officers exchanged looks for a fractional second.

 

“Chin, get Ben and Duke and some officers to follow us.  Danno!” he snapped, already racing to his car.

 

Williams tossed Chin the keys to his car and hurried to keep up with McGarrett.  On the speedy trip to the center of Oahu, they listened to reports of the suspect’s stand off.  The hopped up assailant had vandalized the store and taken a hostage.  Enraged at the destruction and futility of drugs, Steve vented his anger, adamantly swearing to track down whoever was spreading this plague on his Islands.

 

“You know how I hate drugs.”

 

“I know.  They’re destructive to everyone.”

 

“The user and anyone he’s around.  Especially the innocent.  Such a waste.”  He pounded his fist on the steering wheel.  “We know who’s behind this.  I promise I’ll prove it, too!”

 

Dan glanced at his friend, reminded of his great good fortune to be on Steve’s side.  He had never met anyone he admired more.  Never knew anyone so passionate and sacrificing for justice and the good of the people he served. Steve hated drugs, hated mobsters, hated those who used and hurt the innocent.  Like a modern day crusader.  That this incredible cop counted him as a valued officer and a personal friend was his finest reward.

 

“The Kumu,” Williams responded.

 

“Pahoa,” Steve darkly corrected.  “Pahoa and Alika and their new pal Wong.”

 

Knowing it would not be easy, Williams had no doubt McGarrett would indeed catch his man.  Since the tourist attacks at the Pali, Five-0 had been tracking backgrounds and movements of the Asian kids who were drugged out of their minds.  They knew the contacts and histories of the couple.  They knew details of the two druggies from Maunakea Street, and the Waikiki teens.  HPD helped by doing legwork and computer searches.

 

Information so far was promising.  Blue seemed to have originated in the Orient, out of the Golden Triangle of Communist Asia.  The path of the deadly hallucinogen was easy to track; to Hong Kong and Japan.  Then to Hawaii.

 

Coconut wireless talk murmured there were some new faces in the Island mob scene.  Kapi Pahoa and his lieutenant Tony Alika, leaders of the Kumu mod, were seen around town with a new face identified by Interpol as Tam Wong, a drug lord out of Hong Kong.

 

“We can place Wong and Alika together, but going to parties is the worst we’ve seen them do this week,” Williams sighed. 

 

Today, they had another death and another lead.  Perhaps through forensics the late Lynn Thompson would tell them more.  Some legacy, he decided bitterly.  Soon the would have to create better odds.  There were more dead bodies thanks to Blue than live witnesses.  If they didn’t turn the tide soon they were going to lose this battle against Hawaii’s newest drug threat.

 

 

*****

 

The grocery store in Mililani was nestled in a little valley in a quiet, warm and humid residential neighborhood.  The balmy Hawaiian sun shone down on shocked shoppers and residents of the area as they stood back from the building.  Far from the cooling breezes of the ocean, the inland town was tranquil and middle-class.  Nothing like this had happened here before.  The parking lot had three patrol cars angled by the front doors.  Two patrolmen were exiting the store as McGarrett and Williams pulled up in the Mercury.

 

“Officers?  What happened?”

 

Sergeant Chip Malone gave a nod to Williams, then reported to McGarrett, “Guy started shooting when we challenged him.”  Visibly disturbed, his hand shook as he rubbed sweat from his brow. 

 

“We had no choice,” his partner quietly reported.  “We had to take him down.  He was firing all over the place -- he had a gun.  Taking shots outside at the crowd.  Lucky he didn’t hit nobody.”  He scanned the spectators.  The wail of an approaching emergency vehicle warbled in the distance.  “He was covered in blood,” he remarked with disgust.  “Like he had already committed a crime or something.”

 

“Yeah.  On the leeward coast.  We’ve already seen that,” Williams sighed with revulsion as he followed McGarrett into the store.

 

The scene was what they were coming to expect in the aftermath of Blue Hawaii.  Carnage and death.  Disturbed, Steve cringed as he studied the bullet-riddled corpse.  It took numerous rounds to bring down the suspect.  Commenting on that nasty detail, he again reiterated to Williams they were dealing with something awful.  A new nightmare for law enforcement.  Something akin to PCP.  It worked fast, was extremely toxic, at first induced deceptively buzzing hallucinations, then violent behavior.  Blue made the person immune to pain. A suspect on this drug could be shot ten times and not feel it. 

 

Williams pointed out the shooter was wearing a ripped shirt.  On the back – what was left of the back – were the  partial words Aloha Restaura --.

 

“What a waste,” Steve bitterly railed, shaking his head.  “I wish I could say this would be the end of it.”

 

“But it’s not,”’ Williams dejectedly finished the sentence.  “I’m afraid we’re going to see too much more of this before we’re finished with Blue.”

 

The comment seemed to anger an already irritated McGarrett.  He spun toward the car and Dan jogged to keep up.

 

“Maybe not, Danno.  You saw the shirt.”

 

“Yeah, Aloha Supplies.”

 

“Yeah.  A Kumu employee.  That’s our connection.”

 

 

*****

 

Dan was a little surprised when they missed the freeway exit and the Mercury kept racing along toward Waikiki instead of turning off for downtown.  The way Steve gripped the wheel he wasn’t sure he wanted to ask.  He had a good idea where they were going.  Steve would not just sit around and collect clues.  He was angry enough to do something more assertive.

 

We going on a field trip?”

 

“Yeah.  Kahala.”

 

Just as he thought, Dan inwardly sighed.  Pahoa’s place.  Confront the dragons in their lair.

 

 

*****

 

Pahoa’s expensive Kahala mansion was what every person wanted in their most elaborate dreams of paradise.  Right on the ocean, it boasted an open-air living room that included part of the pool.  Kapi’s manservant -- a huge Tongan name Billy Swan -- admitted them only after Tony Alika laughingly permitted their entrance.  Pahoa was not at home, Swan insisted, and kept a close watch on the officers.

 

Alika was a fit Hawaiian with dark, wavy hair and a perpetual snide expression on his smug face.  He was sitting in a lounge chair by the pool.  Next to him was a slender Oriental man with thick glasses and slicked-down, dark hair.  The newcomer looked nervous, but Alika’s bluff and bluster seemed to relax him.

 

“Well, if it isn’t the big Kahuna of Hawaii Five-0 and his tag-along Boy Scout.  To what do we owe this pleasure, McGarrett?”

 

Steve glanced at Alika without acknowledging him.  He recognized Wong from Interpol photos.  He zeroed in on the foreigner, who seemed rather innocuous for a drug lord. 

 

“I know you’re bringing in Blue to these Islands, Wong.  You’re using Kumu’s Aloha Restaurant Supply company to move the drugs.  You might even be manufacturing here by now.  I want it stopped.”

 

“Blue?” Wong shrugged.

 

Alika asked innocently, “Aloha restaurants?  I don’t know what you’re talking about, McGarrett.  As usual.”

 

“Blue Hawaii,” Williams supplied with false pleasantness.  “Not the cocktail.  Or the movie, or the shave ice flavor either.”

 

The man was cool and didn’t register affront, blustery insult or even surprise.  He coldly assessed them both, but mostly glared at McGarrett, ignoring Williams.

 

“Blue Hawaii.  So the state police busting people for importing Elvis songs?” Alika snickered.

 

“Blue,” McGarrett corrected.  “The street drug that just came from Asia.  The junk that the coconut wireless says is being pushed by Mr. Wong here, who just came from Asia, too.”

 

“Oh, now you gonna restrict tourists, eh McGarrett?” Alika scoffed.

 

“I’ve heard all about you, McGarrett,” Wong responded tersely in a British accent.  “Don’t threaten me.”

 

“A threat would be illegal,” Williams pointed out blandly and earned a glare from the Asian.  “We’re just here discussing life on the Islands with the new guy in town.”

 

Alika stabbed toward Williams with a shaking finger.  “Your smart remarks gonna get you in trouble, Williams.”

 

McGarrett refocused the conversation with stern resolve, glaring at Wong.  “I don’t make threats, I make promises.  And I promise you if you don’t shut down this Blue connection you will spend the rest of your life here.  In Hawaii.  Not as a guest of Alika and Pahoa, but as a guest of the State.  In prison.  All pau, bruddah.”

 

“That’s Hawaiian for finished,” Dan supplied.

 

The Asian sniffed.  “Better men than you have made me an enemy.  They are no longer in this world to tell you it is a fatal mistake to oppose me.  Stay away from me!”

 

Williams fractionally moved forward, but McGarrett’s firm grip on his arm stayed him.  To Alika, then Wong, he countered, “I have just the opposite prediction for you, Wong.  You’re already in my sights.”

 

“You’re a dead man, McGarrett.”

 

Steve maintained the eye contact for a moment.  Wong was a dangerous man, there was no question.  There was no fear from the menace, however, McGarrett had been threatened many times by scum like this.  He always had the last laugh as he watched them locked away.

 

“When we see you next time you’ll be wearing handcuffs, Wong.”  He spared a glare at Tony.  “If you don’t watch your step, Alika, you’ll be joining him.”

 

 

*****

 

“That was a nasty piece of work,” Dan assessed as McGarrett screeched out of the curved driveway of the mansion.

 

“Yeah, but he’ll go down, just like they always do in this rotten business.  The trick is for us to do it before we lose anyone else to the horrors of Blue.”

 

Back at the office, McGarrett ordered a rotating tail on Alika and Wong.  McGarrett and Williams manned the phones, going through the paces of tedious investigation.  Tracking Wong’s every movement in Hawaii was a long and boring desk-job.  By nightfall, McGarrett allowed Chin and Ben to go home.  Nick Kamekona, a patrolman who sometimes helped Five-0, and some other HPD men were tailing Wong.

 

Dan dropped by the Canton Dragon to talk to Manoa, his informant, to flirt with Anna, the hostess, and to pick up dinner.  He joked with the manager that Five-0 ought to get a discount -- they seemed to pick up food here five days a week.  Then it was back to the office.

 

“Manoa didn’t have anything new,” he told McGarrett as he plopped the food on the side table. 

 

McGarrett sighed as he tiredly flopped down in a chair.  Lethargically he pushed around the saimin noodles with his chopsticks.  Wryly, he watched his companion.

 

“Don’t you ever go home, Officer Williams?”

 

Smiling, Dan shook his head.  “I’m beginning to forget what home looks like.”

 

 

*****

 

 

The next day, Ben and Duke reported they tailed Wong to a beach house out in Hawaii Kai.  It looked like a meet to them.  Possibly, it was a distribution point, or even a manufacturing lab.  Chin and Dan drove up to the side of the road and joined the HPD men concealed behind thick ferns.  Ben stayed near the ocean, within view of the suspected drug lab.  Williams assessed the nice house, disgusted drug pushers had the money to afford a great place like this.

 

Splitting up, Williams and Kelly took the front. Ben, Duke and several HPD men the back.  Three cars in the front indicated there were several people in the house.  The HPD men wore flak vests and Dan wished he had insisted the Five-0 detectives wear them, too.  No telling what they would find in here, but resistance would probably be violent.

 

Coordinating on walkie-talkies, both the front and back doors were hit at the same time.  As the police rushed in, two men in the large front room scurried behind chemical tables and drew guns.

 

“Five-0!  Drop you weapons!”

 

One of the men shot at them.

 

Dan ducked.  “Don’t return fire!”

 

The two Asian criminals scooted back to a hall, only to be confronted by Ben and Duke.  Rather than surrender, the drug dealers ran back into the main room again, shooting.  One of the officers disobeyed Williams’ order and opened fire.  The chemical table exploded, knocking everyone off their feet.  Flames roared across the room and the officers scrambled to get out.

 

Through some heroic efforts by law enforcement, the criminals were rescued from the burning building.  One of the drug lab men was dead, the other seriously wounded.  When everyone was accounted for, Dan was grateful all HPD and Five-0 personnel were safe.  He was disgusted Wong had disappeared.  Slowly, he walked to the car to call McGarrett.  Unhappy with the way things went, he glumly reported their evidence had gone up in flames.  McGarrett, clearly miffed, tightly order him back to the Palace.

 

“On the bright side,” Dan countered, “We destroyed the lab.  If there’s anything left we’ll seize the Blue supply.  Maybe Che can find some evidence we can use.”

 

“Yeah, maybe.”

 

“Hey,” Dan noted wryly.  “One more thing, this is really going to make Wong mad.”

 

“Yeah, Danno,” McGarrett’s voice brightened.  “And for that, you’ve earned your pay for the day.”

 

 

*****

 

Williams slumped in a chair by the long table, and Steve patted his shoulders as he walked past.  Another late night.  He wasn’t too far from the mark when he joked the other day that he hardly remembered what his home looked like.  The Palace was more his residence – and especially Steve’s – than their respective condos.

 

Tiredly, McGarrett suggested Williams go home.  Jenny had left long before.  She was the only one in the office with any sense, the chief joked.

 

Dan wouldn’t say it, but he wasn’t going to leave until Steve did.  That threat from Wong still made him nervous.  Many criminals threatened the detectives – Steve particularly – but Wong had him worried.  There was something in Wong’s slimy expression that made him think the criminal might turn the threats into reality.

 

“How about dinner, then?  Canton Dragon sound good?”

 

All month they had been eating food from the new Oriental buffet on Ward Avenue.  The food was great, the prices moderate and everybody had a new favorite dish.  The only draw back was that the restaurant didn’t deliver.  Yet.  McGarrett was trying to talk the owner into adding that as a special concession to Five-0.  Meanwhile, Dan never minded going to get their orders.   

 

“Yeah,” Dan readily agreed.  “I’ll go pick it up.”

 

“So you can flirt with the hostess.”

 

“Of course,” Williams laughed.  “I’ll talk to Manoa while I’m there.  Maybe he can give us another tip on Wong.”

 

The tension was eased slightly after the spectacular bust in Hawaii Kai.  There was, however, still an underlying concern with Wong.  He had surfaced back at Pahoas.  They had a long way to go, but they made progress. Word on the streets of Honolulu was that the supply of Blue was dried up.  The lab explosion had halted processing volume and made the drug expensive and rare until more was manufactured.  With Wong on the run and Kumu leaders under watch, luck seemed to be running in favor of law enforcement.  It was only a matter of time before they had Wong in jail.  For now, the best they could hope for was keeping him in sight.

 

“You want the usual?”

 

“Yeah, the best saimin I’ve had in a long time.  Don’t forget the egg rolls.”

 

Williams started dialing, placing the usual orders.  The Five-0 crew were such regular customers, the owner knew the standard menu for the late shift at the Palace.  A new man was on the phone tonight, and Dan had to go through each item of sweet and sour, sushi, sashimi and Steve’s favored saimin. 

 

While he was on the phone, Duke Lukela and Nick Kamekona arrived with their report on Wong.  Nick was a little older than Dan, about the same height, and build.  He was easy to work with and frequently assisted Lukela with extended Five-0 duties.  What really distinguished him was that whenever possible he was found hovering around Jenny Sherman, their indefatigable secretary.

 

Dan loved the thought of Jenny in a romantic liaison with one of their colleagues.  They worked with such a fine group of officers, and Nick was really swell.  He would like to see the two of them get together.  Both of them were great people.   Also, it was kind of amusing and fun to invent opportunities for Nick to help out around Five-0.  It appealed to his occasionally romantic nature to play distant and subtle matchmaker.  Anything more overt might ruin the natural flow of Kismet.

 

Dividing his attention between the increased food order and the HPD officers, Dan finally finished with the phone call and joined the others at the long table.

 

“Hey, I’m not paying for all of you guys.”

 

“You’re cheap, Danny,” Lukela joked as he fished in his pocket for money.

 

Looking over Nick’s shoulder at the pictures, he admitted Nick took some fine photos of Wong during the surveillance.  With no positive link between Tam Wong and the drug Blue, Steve refrained from issuing a warrant to arrest the Hong Kong visitor. They kept him under close watch, though.  The Asian met with Alika at a Waikiki restaurant.  Wong also visiting the Ala Moana Mall, where Duke said the officers had a tough time keeping up with him.  There were visits to the floating restaurant OCEANA, and a shop in Hawaii Kai.  All would have to be checked out. 

 

The surviving drug dealer had not confessed a connection to Wong after the explosion.  McGarrett was still trying to make that connection.  With Blue floundering, the Asian might make a run for it.  Steve was anxious to nab him before he left the Islands. His positive placement at the scene of the drug lab would be enough to put him behind bars.  At least on a charge of manufacturing drugs, while they built a stronger case against him for murder resulting from selling Blue.

 

Ben and Chin joined them.  After itemizing Wong and Pahoa’s connections McGarrett divvied out assignments.  Little could be done tonight, but after they ate they would make a few stops on the way home.  Anyone with a hot lead would call the others.

 

“I don’t want anyone going after Wong alone.  He’s too dangerous,” McGarrett ordered sternly. 

 

“That’s how he impressed me after our little meet in Kahala,” Dan agreed, pleased his boss was finally thinking about safety.

 

 

*****

 

The Canton Dragon was a moderately busy, casual eatery on Ala Moana Boulevard and Ward Avenue.  Since it was on the way to the office from his apartment, Williams decided to stop in one night and try it for dinner.  Anne (she wouldn’t give him her last name yet) was a cute hostess who had a wonderful smile and sparkling, dark eyes.  He would go back for her anytime.

 

The second interesting feature of the new place was the great Asian cuisine for good prices.  And the last reason to drop in there frequently was a little snitch named Manoa who cooked for the evening shift.  Manoa was really pretty much a slime, but came through with decent intelligence often enough for Dan to reluctantly deal with him. 

 

Manoa also had a gambling problem.  When he came to Williams a few weeks back – desperate for money in exchange for a hot lead on a new drug named Blue Hawaii -- Dan jumped at the chance to get an inside scoop.  Manoa was the one who first gave them the heads up that Kumu was involved with distributing and manufacturing the drug through the guise of Aloha Restaurant Supply.  No details, but over the weeks Dan pieced together that Wong was also involved.

 

Tonight, Dan was disappointed Anne was off.  Manoa was in the back, but wouldn’t acknowledge Williams and seemed nervous.  Collecting the food, Dan wondered at the attitude.  He’d have to get back to Manoa in a more private setting tomorrow.  Maybe the little guy knew too much about Wong and it was making him jumpy.

 

 

*****

 

 

The next morning Duke came in wearing a huge grin.  “Steve, you wanted a crack in Wong and you got it, bruddah.  One of the cars in front of the Hawaii Kai house.  Rented by Wong with the Aloha Restaurant Supply credit card.  The car we were tailing.  He was pretty careless.  Left some maps behind and some packages with traces of Blue.”

 

McGarrett slapped his hands together in delight.  “Hah!  That’s great!  So the maps could be other drug labs?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

Dan beamed.  “And traces of Blue in the car and Blue in the lab connect Wong with more than one tie-in.”

 

“Want us to go check them out?”

 

Excited, Steve nodded.  “Yes.  Duke, assign Nick and some HPD men to start checking the addresses carefully.”

 

“Shall we go pick up Wong?” Dan asked.  “Last time we checked, he was at Pahoa’s.”

 

“Yeah.  Duke, I want HPD backup.  Two squad cars.  Chin and Ben, you’ll take the beach access and cover the back of Pahoa’s Kahala house.  Danno and I will go in the front.”  He snapped on the intercom and ordered Jenny to connect him with Manicote for warrants.

 

“You expecting trouble, boss”? Chin wondered.

 

“Maybe.  Pahoa and Alika like to play it cool, but Wong didn’t like our little confrontation earlier.    I want to keep it safe in case he wants a fight.”

 

“Yeah, he’s got to be mad,” Dan reminded as they headed out of the office.  “You cost him and Kumu a lot of revenue.”

 

 

*****

 

McGarrett’s delight turned to frustration when Alika was the only person home at Pahoa’s seaside mansion.  Wong was on the run.  He probably didn’t go far.  He had to have more than one drug lab on Oahu, but no trace of those so far.  Nonetheless, Ben and Duke started checking the airlines for anyone of Wong’s description leaving the Island today.  Chin checked the dockyards for charter boats and freighters.

 

 

*****

 

 

Nick came by in the evening – coincidently -- just around six when Jenny was cleaning up to go home.  In his cubicle, Dan heard them discussing dinner plans.  Smiling to himself, he pretended to concentrate on the report on his desk.  With a wave, the couple left together; Jenny saying she’d see Dan in the morning and Nick promising to be back later.

 

When Chin and Ben arrived, they joined Dan in his office to go over the day’s lack of progress.  Chin asked where Steve was.

 

“With Manicote trying to get warrants.  Then they’ve got to find a judge.”

 

McGarrett called finally, reporting he had the warrants, but still needed to have them signed. Unfortunately, it was Steve’s job to personally handle the recalcitrant Judge Palmer.  He was the only one available tonight this late and promised to hear Steve out.  It was after seven PM when the boss called to say the warrants wouldn’t be ready for another hour.  He was on the way back to the office with dinner.

 

Chin overheard, warning him to save some egg rolls.

 

“Did you hear that, Steve?”

 

“Yeah, tell Chin I’m only eating my share now.  Oh, and Danno, Anna didn’t seem too disappointed when she heard I was there for Five-0 instead of you. You didn’t tell me how cute she was.”

 

“Hey, Steve, don’t get any ideas.  I saw her first.”

 

“Yeah, but you didn’t ask her out yet, did you?”

 

That gave the younger detective pause.  “And you did?”

 

“I also saw your informant Manoa.  He wouldn’t talk to me.  Nervous little guy, isn’t he?”

 

Dan was still worried about the Anna situation.  “Yeah, he’s shifty, but he seems to have been on target with the Wong info.”  He cleared his throat.  “Steve, you didn’t ask Anna out, did you?”

 

“See you in a few minutes.”

 

A worried Dan pondered when the connection clicked off.  Did Steve really torpedo him with Anna? 

 

Promising he’d have more to talk to with his friend than just this case, he hung up and informed the others to get their reports ready.  Steve would want updates over dinner.  The others all groaned in protest.  The staff was showing signs of fatigue.  It had been a very busy and tiring few days.  It was going to be a long night.  Steve was driving them hard.  He wanted Wong taken care of quickly before more Blue got out on the streets of Hawaii.  With a sigh, Dan resigned himself to another night of very little sleep.

 

 

*****

 

It was after eight PM, later than Dan expected, when McGarrett finally showed up.  When the boss came in, Steve seemed agitated.  Tense, talking rapidly, he snapped out orders as Nick and Duke joined them in the big office.  Dan passed out chop sticks and food, keeping an eye on his boss. 

 

The others circled the chairs while Dan stacked the evidence folders out of the way of the meal.  Steve asked about and discussed possibilities for trapping Wong.  Pacing, charged with surprising energy considering the late hour and the long day, McGarrett was anxious to pull in Alika and Pahoa, too.  This startled the others.  Chin pointed out Pahoa seemed to be distancing himself from Alika and hadn’t been seen for days.

 

Steve was just plain anxious, Dan mentally corrected, covertly studying his friend while he distributed food.   Steve rubbed his temples as if he had a massive headache.  Coming back from sorting orders and placing the bulk of the meal on the long side table, Williams asked about Steve’s health.  McGarrett sharply dismissed any worries and told them to continue with their reports.

 

Something was wrong with McGarrett, but Dan couldn’t pinpoint what exactly.  The visit with the judge?  The days of stress and the nights with too little sleep?  That was normal routine around here.  What had sent Steve to the edge in the last few hours?

 

Striving to move along with business as usual and still keep a wary eye on his friend, Dan interjected the reminder of Wong’s threats against McGarrett.  The leader dismissed them, but Dan noted the other officers grew more guarded.  Duke advised he watch his back and Chin suggested he try not to travel alone too much.  All such advice was summarily ignored.

 

Before anyone could start eating, Ben’s phone rang and he went to answer it.  He returned to say it was a snitch with some information on a druggie selling Blue.  Nick and Duke both knew the druggie and joined in on the conference in the main office.  As Chin was sneaking a few extra egg rolls onto his plate, Lukela called him to the other office for a file. 

 

“Hard work I expect,” he grumbled to Dan, “But I expect my kau kau, too.”  With an exasperated sigh, he put the plate down on the table and left. 

 

At McGarrett’s strained request, Williams pushed aside his food and reread notes on Wong’s movements.  Steve was trying too hard to connect all the dots.  The way he was rubbing his forehead, Dan knew Steve -- they -- had about reached the limit.  When he noted Steve’s hands trembling, apprehension gradually escalated to alarm.

 

Placing the notebook on the desk, he came to his feet.  “We can pick this up tomorrow, Steve.  Why don’t you go home?”

 

“No  . . . .”  The massage continued, denying his statement.  “It’s Wong.”  His eyes stared at something in the corner.  “He’s watching me.”

 

Instinctively, Williams turned, checking the corner with a chill of fear coursing along his spine, his hand reaching for his .38.  There was no one in the shadows, of course.  The lanai doors were closed and no threatening criminal had entered through the front.  The office door was closed, as well, and momentarily he wished it was open so Chin or one of the others could see what was happening and help him convince Steve to go home.

 

The nearly paranoid comment was such a turn-around from his previous refusals to take the threat seriously, that Williams stared at his friend with wary tension.  For the first time he noted Steve’s face was beaded with sweat and his whole frame was shaking.

 

His tone was tough, disguising his trepidation behind a gruff demand.  “Steve, you need to go home.”

 

McGarrett slammed his hand flat on the desk with a resounding thud.  “I am not going anywhere until I get Wong.  He threatened me!  He’s -- he’s here!” 

 

Eyes wild, McGarrett looked completely unhinged.  Alarmed, Dan crossed around the desk and could think of nothing to do but place a hand on his friend’s arm.  Whatever was happening, he had to remain calm to counterpoint McGarrett’s distressing reactions. 

 

“Steve, let me drive you home.”  He firmly took hold of the boss’s shoulder.

 

Sweat was dripping down Steve’s face and even through the shirt and suit jacket damp heat emanated from McGarrett.  What was wrong?  Was Steve suddenly ill?

 

McGarrett wrenched away, backing into the corner with enough force to knock the barometer off the wall.  “He’s coming for me, Danno!”  He drew his revolver and waved it erratically toward the closed door.

 

Foremost in Dan’s mind was the need to appear reasonable and composed amid the crisis -- to somehow control the situation that had suddenly and absurdly catapulted into a confusing emergency. 

 

A sideways notion flitted through, labeling Steve’s behavior as almost drugged, but he could spare no time for motivations or causes.  Even while the background thoughts sought for reason and logic within the chaos, his primary concern was for his friend’s safety.  Training and police instinct swept past the turmoil.  Right now, he needed to keep McGarrett from hurting himself.

 

“He’s not here, Steve.”  He pushed down the weapon; gripping onto the cold metal and Steve’s hand.  He didn’t want to get into a wrestling match for the revolver, but his opponent was stubbornly clutching onto the .38.  Again, abstractly, he noted Steve’s skin was slick with sweat and hot with fever.  “Give me the gun.”

 

“No!”  McGarrett shoved him away, slamming him into the desk with uncommon force.  “He’s there!  Can’t you see him!

 

Grabbing Steve’s arm and hand, Dan forgot about subtlety and worked to pry the revolver loose from the tight grip.  Again, with unusual force, McGarrett pushed him away, throwing him into the lanai doors.  McGarrett raised the revolver at him.  Eyes narrowed with fear and desperation. 

 

“Wong!  You’re not going to get me!”

 

Alarmed that this was suddenly a life and death situation for himself, Dan pushed off the doors, closing the distance, thrusting the weapon down to point at the floor.  It was all happening so fast.  He couldn’t comprehend it all, but his skin prickled with fear that this mayhem swirled with deadly peril. 

 

“Steve, it’s me!  Danny!”

 

McGarrett fought, but Dan would not release his clench on his friend’s hand or on the revolver.  Not understanding what was happening; only knowing his life now depended on disarming his deranged friend, Williams fought back.  He thought about calling out for help, but all his energy, concentration and strength had to be focused on keeping Steve from hurting either of them long enough to defuse the volatile situation. 

 

On a good day, Dan’s slighter, thinner build was physically no match for McGarrett.  Now, Steve seemed unusually strong and unstable.  There was no chance to stop his friend at all.  Especially since Williams was hampered with the instinctive, if non-self-preserving notion that he would restrain his own reactions to not hurt Steve under any circumstances.  In the seconds he had to analyze alternatives, he wouldn’t even consider drawing his own weapon on his friend.  There had to be more options than that ultimatum, even to save his life.  Taking his best opportunity he muscled the wild man back, keeping the gun-hand down with tremendous effort.

 

Dan heard the snap at the same instant his left wrist explode with fiery pain.  The hand lost its hold on the gun and he pushed his friend back to the lanai doors with his shoulder.  The glass splintered around him, wood cracking and breaking and McGarrett wrestled him -- pounding his shoulder, then back, into the doorframe with agonizing force. 

 

Tenaciously, Williams would not release his hold on the revolver.  Steve slammed a fist into his face.  The blow threw him against the splintered door again.  Then his head was yanked back by the hair and slammed into the wood and broken glass.  Dazed, his senses swam, his vision blurred, blood stinging his eyes.

 

With desperation, he twisting around, trying to push his opponent toward the desk so he could regain some leverage.   McGarrett raised the gun quickly, Williams barely able to instinctively shove the barrel toward the floor. 

 

The shot echoed like a blast in the room. 

 

The aim was somewhere down and toward the inner wall, but it electrified Williams to push all his might into gaining control of the revolver.  They cycled to the front of the desk. 

 

An instant later the second shot echoed as searing fire sliced through Dan's stomach and his legs gave out from under him. 

 

Shock and pain engulfed him, flooding out the fear and confusion that predominated his reactions in the fight.  Surreally dazed, he watched with subdued cognition as McGarrett screamed and pointed the revolver at him.  Unable to move or react, he knew his friend was about to kill him.  As his mind faded in and out of grey he tried to speak -- call out -- he just wished he could have known why . . . .

 

 

*****

 

When the first shot reverberated through the old Palace, the officers and detectives gathered in Chin’s cubicle glanced at each other with shared incredulity.  Farthest away from Steve’s corner sanctuary, Kelly’s desk area was almost muted from anything happening at the other end of the office.  The detectives exchanged silent looks, all recognizing the same thoughts passing through their minds.  What had they heard?  Was it a gunshot?  Coming from Steve’s office or outside or even somewhere else in the Palace?  Before they could react, the second, less distinct -- muffled -- shot rang from the adjoining room and moving together, they raced through, flinging open the closed door to McGarrett’s office.

 

The scene was something beyond a nightmare.  Duke Lukela stood frozen at the setting:  A wild-eyed McGarrett -- hands red with shiny stains -- stood to the side of his desk, shouting like a madman waving his revolver – jabbing it toward Dan Williams -- who was lying on the floor clutching his bleeding stomach. 

 

Frenzied, Steve shouted accusations and demands to the prone officer.  Duke didn’t understand a lot of the garbled screams, but something to the affect that Danny was threatening him.  Agitated -- manic -- he fired at Williams!

 

Cop acuity automatically assessed that the bullet went slightly wide from the shaky and high angle of McGarrett’s aim.  Lukela’s reason tilted, though, unable to comprehend the insane scene of madness.

 

Chin and Ben, quicker on the uptake, were already across the room.  The big Samoan/Hawaiian, Kokua, wrenched Steve’s right arm down and two more shots snapped off.  The blasts were like cannon fire in the tension-filled office and the scent of gunpowder carried on the Trades coming through the broken glass of the lanai doors.

 

Like a ferocious man-possessed, Steve punched Kokua, sending him knocking against the long table, food tumbling to the floor.  Nick leaped the distance in a semi-tackle and pushed McGarrett into the windows.

 

Chin, at first hesitant, tried to grab his boss, but Steve flung Nick into the Asian detective with amazing power.  The revolver almost came up again, but Ben managed to wrestle it out of McGarrett’s grasp and tossed it across the room, while both Nick and Chin fought him.  Steve was too strong, though, and nearly escaped.

 

Ben returned to the struggle.  The three officers slammed Steve into the wall again, rolling along the plaster and wood and crashing into a side table.  Like a madman – a man possessed by inhuman might -- McGarrett seized onto his stylish model of an old whaling ship and used it as a bat, nearly smashing it into Kokua.  Nick managed to dive under the make-shift weapon and shove Steve back to the wall.  The framed certificates, the big map, crashed to the floor along with the ship, and were shattered underfoot as the wrestling opponents battled in the small space by the desk.

 

Only seconds ticked by in real time, but Lukela’s frozen horror prevented police instinct from kicking in yet.  The office smelled of Chinese noodles, sweet and sour sauce, gunpowder and blood.  Steve’s eyes crazed -- bloodshot and ferocious in unfocused dementia.  His hands, face and jacket were splattered red.

 

Dazed, all Duke could center on was the macabre scene unfolding since he entered the office; a deranged McGarrett standing over his injured friend, then manically fighting his colleagues.  Lukela had known Steve a long time and considered him a mentor and friend.  The most honorable leader -- man -- he knew.  He could not move his feet forward to help.  This was the man he most respected and admired.  He couldn’t hurt Steve – but Steve just shot Danny!

 

How could this have happened?  He didn’t know and now realized he couldn’t waste the time to find out. 

 

In the next breath, his cop experience took over and he moved to the floor to check on Williams.  Able to close out the terrifying background crisis, he concentrated on Danny.  The young officer was dazed from pain; shaky and cold.  Blood covered much of his face.  His left hand twisted at a weird and hurtful-looking angle; right hand clutching his stomach where blood oozed between his fingers.  He seemed to be trying to speak, but the agony or shock was too much.  He stared at the writhing, ranting McGarrett, mutely mouthing indecipherable words. 

 

The enraged leader violently wrenched free of his captors, throwing them off.  Suddenly he lunged toward Williams, almost snarling in guttural ferocity.  Steve’s powerful hands seized Danny’s arm before anyone could react. 

 

Duke leaped up, instinctively slamming into the boss with a jarring tackle, flinging them both away from the victim, skidding across the floor and into a table leg.  His glasses flew off and in the blurred skirmish, he compared holding down the struggling leader to fighting a shark.  All thoughts of protecting McGarrett fled, shifting to an automatic response to protect the helpless -- in this case -- Danny. 

 

This was a fight against a monster temporarily inhabiting Steve’s body.  A fight of endurance.  All of them against one crazed man.  The insane attack on the downed Williams jolted residual shock out of Lukela’s system.  No time for analysis or logic; this was a dirty fight for survival. 

 

An elbow to his stomach drove the air out of him and Duke lost his grip.  Pushing him off, McGarrett zeroed in again on Williams.  Steve managed to grasp Dan’s shirtsleeve with one hand, while struggling to seize the discarded revolver.   Duke grabbed Steve’s legs to catch him up short, distracting him from the downed casualty.

 

Then the other three men were on McGarrett, pulling him away.  Finally forcing McGarrett onto the floor, the enraged Five-0 chief managed slugs, kicks and elbows in them before they subdued him face down.  Arms behind his back, he wriggled and yelled.  Despite a sore, bleeding nose, Nick Kamekona managed to fumble out his cuffs and bind the leader.  Still twisting under the restraints, McGarrett shouted unintelligible arguments. 

 

Shaken, Duke caught his breath, then crawled over to check on the wounded detective.  Danny was trembling, pale, reflecting mute dread as he watched the appalling scene.  Still alive and breathing.  Duke shivered, alarmed at the frenzied moments in Hell; the whole absurd and atrocious attack.  It drove home that McGarrett was completely unhinged -- absolutely out of his mind.  Intellectually, he was obviously not responsible, but going for a downed friend -- it was so unthinkable.  Just as incomprehensible that Steve shot Danny!

 

Focusing on his primary concern, he spoke softly and reassuringly to his friend.  “Danny, it’s okay.  You’ll be okay,” he guaranteed the wounded man, as much for himself as for Williams.   

 

“Steve . . . “ Williams gulped, wincing, his eyes barely open and glazed. He slowly tried to shake his head.  With effort, he turned to look at Duke and the confused anguish in his expression made the Hawaiian officer’s heart constrict in agony.  “Help . . . him . . . .”

 

Eyes burning with unshed tears, Lukela was stunned at the unbelievable selflessness of the wounded officer.  Shot and suffering from wounds inflicted by McGarrett, Williams’ overpowering devotion was too incomprehensible.  He just shook his head.

 

Williams tried to say something more, but only soundlessly open his mouth.

 

“Don’t talk,” Duke advised gently.  “I’m here, Danny.  You’ll be okay,” Duke repeated.  All too aware of the blood flowing through his fingers and around his hand as he pressed on Williams’ wound, he felt the empty words were an acceptable lie.  What else could he say to a damaged officer with a bleeding gut shot?  “We’ll get you some help.”

 

He should summon assistance, but was almost reluctant to leave Williams in case of another attack.  Warily, he looked at the subdued chief who was still violently raging.

 

“I got you!” McGarrett yelled, fighting against the cuffs and the restraining hands and knees pressing him to the floor.

 

Dan slowly looked over at McGarrett. 

 

"I got you!" 

 

The maniacal screech made Duke flinch.  Danny shook his head. 

 

Steve yelled, “You couldn’t get me, I got you first!”  The shriek echoed in the room and transformed into a guttural, harsh grate -- a macabre distortion of a sinister, evil laugh.

 

It made Lukela’s skin crawl.  Danny was shaking, a look of horrific pain on his face, then his eyes slowly closing. 

 

Sickened, frightened and appalled, Duke was finally able to function.  That was the last thing Danny saw and heard and the shock impelled Duke to finally act.

 

“I’ll call an ambulance,” he assured, leaning close to his wounded friend who had passed out.  Duke checked for a pulse, his bloody hand leaving smears of red on Dan’s cool neck.  “It will be all right,” he promised, jolted out of his own daze by the nauseating crisis.

 

At the periphery of his attention, he knew the others were still struggling with a frenzied McGarrett.  Nick was saying something about Blue and drugs.  All three were trying to keep Steve in one place, let alone calmed, but there was no reasoning with the raving chief. 

 

The revulsion of it all almost claimed Duke again, but he stuck to his primary mission to assist Williams.  He searched for the phone that had been knocked around in the struggles.  Pulling it over to the recumbent detective, he kept a hand on the hemorrhaging wound and called for an ambulance. 

 

Only moments had passed since they heard the first shot, but it seemed like an eternity; taking in the surreal scene as he felt the warm blood spreading across his hand, heard the heavy panting of his comrades, the quiet moans from Williams, the curses and accusations from McGarrett.

 

Shaking, he concentrated on trying to help Danny.  Blood loss was profuse. Williams drifted in and out of unconsciousness.  Lukela watched as his hand trembled on the bleeding abdomen of his friend; he studied the oozing red, warm, liquid as it seeped through his fingers.

 

 

*****

 

 

“I can’t stand this,” Duke barely whispered. 

 

The loathing clear in his trembling tone, he did not remove himself from the small observation window.  Every time he saw the patient inside twitch, writhe, cry out, fight against the bonds, he flinched, but did not leave.

 

Chin placed his hands on the uniformed officer’s shoulders and physically urged him away, but Lukela stood his ground.  Like the hideous trauma last night at the Palace, today he could hardly function through the shock of the events. 

 

Watching through the little, wire-grilled/glass window, Lukela winced as their study -- McGarrett -- cried out, straining against the padded restraints holding him to the bed.  That Steve – the man with unparalleled intellect and integrity -- ended up here in the psyche ward of the hospital was obscene.  Strapped down; raving, incoherent, unbalanced, sweating, shaking -- everything opposite of the great leader they respected and loved.  It would humiliate Steve to know this was happening and Duke was glad Steve was at least spared the indignity of being aware of the results of the drug.

 

Only two bright spots kept Lukela sane through all of this.  One, that McGarrett, during the night, was slowly improving.  The madness was decreasing and he was showing signs of pulling out of the terrible grips of Blue.  The other was the severe damage done was not fatal, as he had feared in the dark and tormented hours before dawn.  It was likely that both victims in this tragedy would recover -- physically anyway.  The rest . . .  .

 

For his own part in this, Duke still felt heavy remorse at his own actions -- in-actions.  Stunned beyond the ability to react, he had frozen in those vital seconds immediately following the shooting. In real time, it was no more than scant moments between the time of entering the office and phoning for an ambulance.  Still, it was a hesitation.  There was no excuse for it.  It nearly cost Danny his life, and Duke cringed at that realization.  He was a policeman and handled crises every day.  He was trained to act when others could not.  Yet, in the office last night, in the surreal violence acted out by McGarrett, he could not act fast enough.

 

“Nothing more we can do here,” Chin quietly admonished, pressing on his shoulders.

 

With a grave nod, Duke resolutely turned from the window and walked away with Kelly.  Outside the Mental Health Ward, a somber Ben Kokua walked toward them.  Duke feared the worst . . . . if Danny died how would he live with himself.  It would be partially his fault for not providing aid fast enough.   

 

Those wretched moments in the office stuck with him. His hands covered in Danny’s blood.  Steve screaming accusations at the fallen officer.  Danny writhing on the floor.  If Danny died the last thing the young officer would leave this earth with was the memory of his crazed friend screaming at him.  He couldn’t die like this . . . .

 

“Well, the doctors are a little more confidant,” Kokua reported with a deep sigh.

 

Lukela dared to hope.  Danny’ll be all right?”

 

“They think he’ll make it,” was Ben’s guarded response.  Shaking his head, he stared at his feet for a moment.  “I can’t believe any of it . . . .

 

Every one of them showed the strain.  Blood-stained clothes had been removed, they had cleaned themselves of the gruesome residuals of the night’s horrors, but the memory-scars remained.  Exhaustion and trauma that went beyond fatigue to a spiritual depression.  The astonishment and mental shock that was like a physical pain -- a blow to the spirit, mind and body made them seem aged and drawn and utterly emptied.

 

Chin nodded, sighing deeply and wiping away some moisture at the corner of his eye.  Lukela was too skeptical to feel total relief.  Danny had actually died temporarily on the operating table.  What if he didn’t pull through?  Duke’s mind could ask the horrific question, but could not fathom the consequences. 

 

“Then we better get back to work,” Kelly sighed solemnly.  His vacant tone expressing the depression and exhaustion they all felt.

 

Ben placed a solicitous arm on Lukela and Kelly’s shoulders.  “He’ll be okay.  Danny has to be okay.” 

 

At gritty, emotionally draining times, it was usually Danny supporting the team, strengthening them when hope was a pale glimmer on a distant horizon.  In those times when Danny was hurt, it was Duke who buoyed and became the moral and emotional bastion for McGarrett to lean against. 

 

Knowing Steve for years, the great man thought of Lukela as an old and valued friend.  When McGarrett more or less adopted Williams as a protégé and close friend, Duke was not phased.  Lukela had a family and other responsibilities and could spend limited time hanging around with bachelor McGarrett.  Danny, in many ways, filled in parts of Steve’s life that were missing. 

 

No one on the team resented Danny’s quick rise and promotion, or the personal affection shared with McGarrett.  Williams paid his dues more than anyone else – sacrificing for the second-in-command slot.  The office might sound prestigious to the press and other outsiders, but it came with a whopping responsibility to always be there to fill in for McGarrett, or to always act as the main support for Steve in all capacities.  The job was the springboard to a deep and lasting friendship between the two top officers.  And everyone on the team thought it was an asset for both men.  How was it going to end now?

 

“Danny’s going to be all right,” Kokua reiterated without volition.

 

His tone was hopeful and forceful and it visibly strengthened Kelly.  Duke nodded, accepting the statement as a fact.  He had to believe it, too. 

 

 

*****

 

Returning frequently to the hospital. Kelly checked on McGarrett and Williams when he could.  Both were mostly incoherent.  Steve still on and off the influence of the drug, so Kelly was not permitted to even enter his room.  From what he heard, McGarrett was under restraint, and he was glad not to witness that anymore. 

 

Williams was sedated and carefully monitored in ICU.  He had lost a lot of blood, had actually died on the operating table, and had been revived.  Internal damage was serious and he was weak.  All Chin did was look in on him and let him sleep.  There was nothing he could really say to help Danny, and certainly nothing Danny needed to talk about now.  Hanging onto life was the young man’s top priority.

 

There were so many times when he, or the other detectives, ended up here after a case gone bad.  Mostly, when Steve was injured, Danny ran things -- which was always fine with Chin.  Danny somehow managed to hover around the boss, worrying and prodding doctors until he was assured Steve would be okay.  Then he would balance investigations, running Five-0 and continually visiting Steve with a regular caseload.

 

Learning to like the youngest member of the team came easily.  Williams had a lot of good qualities. Besides an unswerving loyalty to McGarrett.  Hero worship, Chin had thought at first.  Getting to know Williams better, he knew the respect was deeper than that.  Danny could be a kidder, a girl-chaser and a little impulsive and emotional.  He was also a workaholic and a skilled athlete -- he coached several of the Kelly children in Little League. 

 

A review of the traits made Chin’s eyes sting with unshed tears.  There was no one more dedicated to Five-0 and McGarrett than the young officer lying still on the hospital bed.  No one deserved this terrible fate less than Williams. 

 

Until two nights ago, Williams’ world revolved around the Palace and McGarrett.  As Chin quietly watched the sleeping officer now, he reflected on the obscene tragedy that had preyed on everyone at the police unit.  No one in Five-0, HPD or even local government was unaffected. 

 

Blue had caused this.  A terrible drug slipped into McGarrett’s food – all their food -- by enemies.  It was pure chance that Steve started eating first.  Paperwork details had kept the rest of the staff from digging into the meal.  It gave the drug time to work in Steve’s system.  Being the first affected, Steve had inadvertently saved the rest of them from a similar fate.  The seemingly trivial actions and moments in the office were vitally important now.  Minutes and details had saved their lives.  He shuddered to think what might have happened if they had all ingested Blue.  This tragedy was bad enough.

 

A drug was now keeping Steve dazed and not-quite-normal.  Medication kept Williams from feeling the worst of the pain -- both emotionally and physically -- from the wounds inflicted because of the illegal drugs.  It was all such a horrible, confusing mess.  The personal tragedy making it so heartbreaking.  All he could do was shake his head, thankful Williams was sedated.  Drugged.  The irony nearly made him sick. 

 

 

*****

 

For the second night in a row, Lukela came here before going home.  The hospital vigils were not usually his responsibility connected with Five-0.  All too often, it was Danny pacing these sterile halls, waiting for word on McGarrett’s latest injuries. 

 

When close HPD officers went down, Duke could sometimes be found here if he was working with them, or if they were good friends.  This time, he could not stay away.  Those frozen seconds – the timeless eternity in Steve’s office – haunted him.  So uncharacteristic and alien to him, but he had been shocked into immobility all the same.  It could have cost Danny his life.  So, he came here and looked in on the young officer every night.  As a caretaker.  As the guardian he should have been at the Palace that night.

 

A weak hand raised up.  “Duke.”

 

Pale, eyes sunken in deep sockets from the ordeal, Williams seemed so still and helpless in the bed bathed in a single, stark light bulb from the wall lamp.  The white cast on the arm looked heavy and huge on the injured officer.  The lacerations on the face seemed macabre on the sallow skin.  Startled he had been observed, he stepped forward.

 

“Hi, Danny,” he whispered, suddenly self-conscious about his role here.  This should be Chin or Ben talking to their colleague when he first regained consciousness.  “Just wanted to check in on you.  How are you feeling?”

 

The patient slightly shifted his head.  “Groggy.  Tired.”  The minimal movement and muzzy awareness attested to the deep trauma suffered.

 

“You’ve been through a lot,” he managed to fumble out, completely at a loss at what to say and how to deal with the horrid situation.  “They’ve got you on some hefty medication I guess.”

 

A brief nod of worn understanding.  Seeming confused, Williams then shook his head, admitting he was hazy.  His waking periods were limited.  He was just so tired, he confessed.

 

A gut shot and fighting with someone on Blue would do that to anybody -- even a cop in very good shape.  Lukela refrained from voicing that observation.  The less said about the whole mess the better.  At least until Danny regained his strength.  He looked so weak and tattered Duke had a hard time maintaining eye contact.

 

The younger officer looked around expectantly.  Then his confused expression sank and Lukela’s chest tightened from the anguish in his heart.  Danny was expecting Steve.  Groaning aloud, Williams’s eyes moved back to him.

 

“Where’s Steve?”

 

Why did he have to be the one to break the news?  His penance at his regrettably late actions?  He just shook his head. 

 

Dan’s eyes widened.  “What happened?”

 

“He’s recovering.”  Belatedly, he realized the detective thought the worst as panic flooded across the pale face.  “He’ll be okay, Danny.  The food, it was dosed with Blue.”

 

“Food – drugged?”  He shook his head.  “Steve . . . .”

 

“He’s getting better.  Blue caused –“ he couldn’t bring himself to recount the wretched experience they had shared.  Hopefully, Danny wouldn’t remember it all clearly.  Perhaps pain and shock had dulled the worst of those horrific moments.  They were certainly contributing to Dan’s lethargy, besides the drugs.  To Duke, that was a good thing.  “Steve didn’t know,” he tried to explain.  “The egg rolls.”

 

Slowly the comprehension filtered through.  “Manoa?”

 

“We think so.”

 

At the crushed expression, Lukela winced.  Manoa was Danny’s connection.  He hoped the kid didn’t blame himself over this. 

 

“Steve will be okay?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

Tiredly he nodded, closing his eyes. 

 

“Danny, I’ll go get a doctor,” he promised, rushing to the door before the young man could ask anything else. 

 

“Wait.”

 

Reluctantly, Duke turned back.  He didn’t want to be the one to explain to Williams that his hero was a raving maniac.  McGarrett still had moments that were not normal.  How did he say that to Dan? But, Williams'  comment surprised him.

 

“Mahalo.”

 

“For what?”

 

“I remember.”

 

Duke flinched.

 

“Mahalo – for protecting me.”

 

Lukela shook his head.  “I should have been faster, Danny.  I don’t know what happened –“

 

“Steve on Blue,” he whispered.  “It was scary.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

He knew they were both back there, sharing their last, terrible scene together at the Palace.

 

“You were there when I needed you.”  His face seemed to wash out completely of color as he clearly remembered details better left forgotten.  “Steve – I knew he wasn’t well.  I don’t blame him.”

 

“No.”

 

“But I know he could have done more damage if you hadn’t protected me.  Mahalo.”

 

Lukela patted his arm.  “I wish I could have done more.  Been there faster.  Moved quicker.”

 

Williams shook his head.  “You did fine.  Hard to fight against Blue.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

Williams’ eyes started to close again, but Lukela felt reluctant to leave now.  Absolution was a powerful relief.  He didn’t know how burdened he really felt until Danny said all was forgiven.  He didn’t deserve the praise, of course.  Freezing for the first time in his life – either as a soldier or a cop -- was unforgivable.  But, Danny was going to be all right, and characteristically did not hold any grudges.  Two big assets to be thankful for. 

 

 

*****

 

 

Creeping chills itching across his back, Chin passed into to the Mental Health Ward of the hospital.  Beside him, Duke was grim and silent.  Doc Bergman, more grey in the face than he usually saw the coroner, was consulting with Dr. Leonard, the specialist on McGarrett’s case.

 

“Chin,” Bergman called him over.  “Steve’s coherent.  Dr. Leonard says he’s been ranting – his normal authoritarian self -- for a few hours now and appears to have come completely out of the influence of the drug.”

 

“What about relapses?”

 

Lukela’s voice was deep and disturbed.  “Blue can cause visions days later.”

 

Leonard, a thin, slight man with dark-rimmed glasses, shook his head.  “Mr. McGarrett received only a mild dose.  This is so new we have only a few people alive to study.  Most of the victims are dead.  This is a primarily lethal drug.  Not just for what it does to the user, but what it causes the user to do – like criminal acts – that get them killed in secondary form.”

 

There was nothing mild about that horrible night at the Palace.  Steve uncontrolled -- shooting and wild.  It took three policemen to restrain him.  Chin kept his memories and opinions to himself.

 

“This is the first case of ingestion with the drug,” Leonard was saying clinically.  “It seems to act as quickly, but with less intensity and the aftereffects are milder than intravenous injection of the drug.  I think Mr. McGarrett needs another day of observation, then he can be released.  I wouldn’t recommend him driving or returning to work for a few more days.”

 

Exchanging knowing glances with Bergman and Duke, Chin didn’t comment on their shared thoughts.  Who was going to restrain McGarrett from work on a case like this?  Knowing his boss well, nothing on earth would keep him away from getting the monsters who had slipped him a drug and caused the worst tragedy to strike Five-0.

 

“Can we see him now?”

 

Leonard’s expression was pained.  “That is all he talks about – seeing his detectives.  He keeps asking for someone named Danno.”

 

Flinching, Chin and Lukela exchanged glances.  Kelly accusingly stared at Bergman, not disguising his betrayed anger.  “You didn’t tell him?”

 

“I haven’t seen him since Leonard diagnosed him as coherent.”  Berman managed a flicker of guilt across his face.  “Anyway, I think he better hear the bad news from you fellas.”

 

Accepting that as a nearly unbearable truth, he knew the nasty duty of briefing McGarrett should fall on him.  He was now the senior detective of the unit.   Kelly hadn’t thought far ahead -- to the day when he would have to talk to Steve about that horrible night.  Or about getting McGarrett out of here. 

 

The time was upon him, though, when he had to consider the future.  He would have to act in the place where Danny usually was -- the right hand, the constant support, the energy and optimism they would all need -- Steve would need -- more than ever.  He was certainly capable of fulfilling the duties, but could not completely fill in for Williams.  Not on the emotional level that Steve always needed after an incident landed him in the hospital.  Only Danny seemed to be able to handle the grumpy McGarrett; lingering around the hospital, conducting business from Steve’s room, offering constant support and patient understanding.  Being there unceasingly for the recovering boss.   

 

Dr. Leonard had to unlock the private, padded room and when they entered, a bright, livid McGarrett stopped pacing and spun around to confront them.  The natural ferocity and impatience was a relief.  The other times Chin had been in the psych ward and watched through the door, McGarrett had been in and out of dazed distraction.  The blue eyes were clear now and filled with familiar irritation.

 

“Chin!  Duke! It’s about time!”  He zeroed in on Bergman next.  “Get me out of here, Doc!” he barked.  Tugging at the hospital-issue robe, he demanded, “I told that doctor to get me some clothes!  Didn’t he deliver my message to Danno?”  He looked beyond them, obviously expecting to see his second-in-command.  His irritated expression fell a little, then cracked back to mighty indignation. He gestured around him.  “They put me in a padded cell! Where is that Dr. Leonard?  I want out of here!” 

 

“You scared him off, Steve,” Bergman replied with his usual brusque candor.  “He wants you to stay another day for observation --“

 

“I’ve been observed and prodded and tested for two days!  I’ve been kept incommunicado from my staff and even you, Doc!  Enough is enough!”

 

Bergman went right up to him for a rare face-to-face confrontation.  “Your food was laced with a hallucinogenic drug, Steve!  You’re the first one in the Islands who’s recovered from this nasty new psychedelic.  The others who didn’t die are still in a fantasy-land.  At least we think you’re recovered thanks to a mild dose.  We have to be sure.  That means observation.”

 

“But –“

 

“We don’t want you to do anything that would endanger yourself or others.  Now be reasonable and listen to the medical experts for a change!”

 

At the close of the lecture, McGarrett’s resentful pique crumbled slightly.  His eyes tightened with concern.  “I am all right,” he insisted, less adamantly, more reasonable.   “I don’t have any more hallucinations,” he assured tightly. 

 

“No recurring visions?  Some victims of Blue can’t escape the visions.  Although your dose was mild, you could still experience some vivid dreams and confusing disorientation.”

 

“Sometimes,” he spoke deliberately, with effort, “I see shadows when I close my eyes.  Struggling forms in the shadows . . . .” 

 

He pinned Chin, then Duke, with a stare that was more vulnerable than Kelly could remember seeing from him in a while.  Since Danny was kidnapped by the terrorists.  Inwardly taking a breath for courage, he again reviewed that this was going to be one of the toughest moments of his life.  Certainly of Steve’s.  Within himself, he could find no solace or comfort.  The nightmare for McGarrett had hardly even begun.

 

McGarrett glanced at Bergman.  “I need to be protected from myself?  From others?  My hands are scraped.”  He examined the bruises and cuts on his arms and hands; the ring of raw flesh around his wrists.  “I was in restraints?” he asked incredulously, staring at the minor wounds.  “Was I in a fight?” 

 

The red abrasions on Steve’s wrists were clearly handcuff burns, not the padded bonds used here.  Kelly could almost see McGarrett’s mental gears clicking through the evidence and slowly, dawning horror gradually registered alarm.

 

“Yeah,” Chin heavily confessed.  “You weren’t thinking straight, Steve. We – we didn’t want to hurt you.  Or have you hurt yourself.”

 

Appalled, emerging dismay edging into his consciousness, he looked back at Kelly.  “Did I hurt someone?” Critically, he stared at him.  “You’re hurt . . . . “ he gestured at his face.  “You were in a fight,” he dryly theorized.  “With me?” he scraped out.

 

The moment he dreaded was upon him and the only option was the truth.  Steve would accept nothing less no matter how unpalatable.  Chin could only nod.  Duke was frozen in silent stupor, unable to say anything.

 

Bergman stepped in.  “You were drugged, Steve.  You had no idea what you were doing.”

 

McGarrett paled.  “What did I do?”

 

“Maybe you would like to be alone,” Doc commented rhetorically.  “I’ll be down the hall,” he informed them and slipped out of the room.

 

 

*****

 

The stricken expression on Kelly’s face -- the clear pain in Duke’s eyes --  the physical bruising and scrapes -- told him more than he wanted to know.  Drugged against his will, he had fumed -- in his coherent moments -- that was a sickening irony for a cop who dedicated himself to fight drug dealers.  He despised drugs and the destruction they caused.  To be the victim of their disorienting effects had been painful and humiliating.  He valued control of himself and his mind and shuddered at the thought that he had not been himself, and had possibly damaged the brain he relied on for his life and profession.

 

For the past day, there was a growing sense of disturbance that he couldn’t identify.  Before that he recognized he had been in the grips of something disorienting.  Then yesterday he awoke, coherent.  In a padded room.  Strapped down like an animal. 

 

The moment was frightening and deeply alarming.  When the doctor told him he had ingested Blue he could not fathom it all.  The aftereffects, though, confirmed the appalling truth.  The padded room, the bonds, the missing memory confirmed the dire facts.

 

The shadows in his mind were one disconcerting part of that.  But there was something else that bothered him.  It almost solidified into a theory when Lukela, Chin and Bergman walked in.  Still elusive, he almost dreaded knowing whatever truth caused Bergman to flee and Kelly to wear such a funereal expression.

 

The slight bruising and the scrapes on Chin and Duke’s faces offered clues he did not want to acknowledge.  His detectives had been hurt.  He had been injured, too, but that memory was blocked.  What did he do?

 

Everything was off-balance.  The isolation.  The first visitors.  The somber expressions.  Part of him did not want to know what was so repulsive to cause these aberrations.  Usually, Danno was the first one here and stayed, no matter what, until Steve was diagnosed as stabilized or mending.  Danno would explain it all to him without the hesitation.

 

“Where’s Danno?”

 

That was the first key to unlocking the mystery.  Where was his right-hand man?  That he wasn’t here meant something, and it made him subconsciously anxious.  Perhaps Danno had something more important to do?  That would be unusual and completely abnormal.  When Steve was in the hospital, he was Danno’s first priority, he smugly prompted.  Unless, whatever he did, diverted Danno’s attention away from here.  Then it would have to be extraordinary.

 

“Where’s Danno?” he grated again.

 

Chin’s response was somber.  “Down the hall.”

 

“He should be here,” he demanded, more with peevishness than anger.  

 

Part of the unspoken duties of the second-in-command -- one of the taken-for-granted responsibilities of his younger protégé was to come and rescue him from these hospital stays.  Keep him informed and offer moral support.  Danno was his compass and anchor. 

 

Evasive, he finally realized slowly, filtering though Chin’s comment and tone of voice.  Something was still wrong.  Impatience and his innate need to know pushed him to ask what he was suddenly reluctant to hear. What had he done? 

 

 “Why -- why isn’t he here?”

 

“Don’t you remember what happened?”

 

The tone of voice and the somber expression told him he should know something terrible happened.  Instinctively, he knew that.  What?  He forged ahead.

 

“I don’t -- remember -- clearly -- something . . . .”

 

“At the office,” Duke prompted hoarsely, finally speaking, but not losing the stricken, haunted demeanor.

 

“I remember we were having a meeting.  Dinner.  I brought back dinner from Canton Dragon, right?  Was that two nights ago?”  Kelly’s unsettled expression bothered him.  “What?”

 

“Blue in the egg rolls.  You ate them on the way back to the office.  It was in all the food, but we didn’t have a chance to eat.  We were too busy.   We never saw it coming.”

 

“And I flipped out at the office?”  He could hardly believe the impossible.  It was all blank, but his sixth sense told him awful events had transpired.  Bergman said he might be a danger to himself and others.  A dawning horror pressed against his thoughts and he could hardly speak.   “What did I do?”

 

“You started shooting . . . .”

 

“Shooting!  In my office?”  In complete shock, he shook his head.  “I don’t remember -- how could I forget that?”  The contrition; the way Chin and Duke almost winced when they looked at him, the truth slowly unraveled in his mind.  Not memory -- deduction.  And it was appalling.   “I hurt you?”

 

“It’s nothing,” Kelly assured curtly.

 

“We don’t blame you, Steve,” Duke assured quickly.

 

Kelly explained gently, “It wasn’t deliberate -- the shooting.  The fight.  You were out of your head.  But just temporarily.  You heard.  The docs think you’ll be fine, now.”

 

He rubbed his face with his hands -- as if trying to expunge the manipulated deed that was so against character and opposite everything he stood for.  He hated drugs!  To be a victim was wretched.  Feeling weak from the emotional impact, he sat down on the bed. 

 

“What happened?” he asked again, aware there was more to the story.  “Did I hurt anyone else?”

 

Solemnly, Chin nodded.  Duke looked as pale as a ghost.

 

No!  He had been deranged by drugs and hurt more of his guys?  “Who?  Who else?”

 

It came to him without any other impulse or thought.  As if he already knew.  The dark horror in the back of his mind was guilt at the atrocity he had committed while under the influence of a drug.  It was why his closest friend was not here to greet him -- not setting up camp in his room as he always did.

 

“No,” he coughed, choked up at the possibility.  The words were out before thought or complete comprehension could penetrate the connection of his violence to his friend’s absence.  It wasn’t possible . “No . . . .  Not Danno?” 

 

Chin nodded. 

 

“What did I do?”

 

“He tried to take the gun away from you, Steve.  It was an accident.  You didn’t know what was --“

 

“I didn’t -- I couldn’t -- shoot -- Danno?”

 

Again, Chin silently affirmed with a nod.

 

“It wasn’t your fault,” Duke reiterated in strong defense.  “It was the drug, Steve.”

 

“That can’t be.”  The officers nodded silent confirmation.  “No!” he cried, covering his face with his hands, wishing the action could close out the world, the truth, the anguish.  “No!”

 

“It was an accident.”

 

“How bad?  Is he alive?” he croaked, hoarse with anguish.

 

“He’s alive,” Chin confirmed.

 

McGarrett could hardly breathe and when he looked at them again saw the gravity was still pressing on his friends.  “How bad?” he grated.

 

Duke cleared his throat.  “It’s not good.”

 

How could he?  Inconceivable! 

 

Shock and repulsion filled him with such torment he could not really comprehend that he might have shot his friend.  Aware there could be worse news, he tried to grip onto some control as he looked at the detective and the sergeant.  Yet, as tangible proof, he had only his doubts as evidence.  Under any other circumstances, Danno would be here with him.  The absence spoke more eloquently than the words.

 

“How bad?” he demanded, fury at himself and what had happened now mingling with the anguish of his unspeakable act.  “Tell me!”

 

With a sigh, Kelly responded heavily.  “A bullet hit Danny in the stomach.  It bounced off a rib.  He was pretty torn up inside.” 

 

McGarrett flinched, imagining how much injury a close-range .38 calibre bullet could do to a man’s organs.  A bullet from his gun -- his hand -- he couldn’t believe it -- couldn’t accept the dreadful possibility.  Realizing he was wallowing in despair, he forced himself to move on and face whatever else he had to hear.  Could it get any worse?  From Chin’s stony expression, he was betting it would. 

 

“Will he be all right?”  Steve wasn’t all right.  He could never forgive himself for this.  Chin’s expression of grief answered him.  He vaulted off the bed.  “I’m going to see him.  Where is he?”

 

Chin and Duke grabbed onto his arms.  “They won’t let you out --“

 

“I’m going.” 

 

No argument or army of doctors and nurses was going to lock him away from the friend he had -- he couldn’t even think -- the disgust!  He had shot his closest friend!  He had injured the man who was like his brother -- he would do anything for Danno and he hurt him like this?

 

“Wait, Steve,” Kelly demanded firmly, not releasing his grip.  “Before you go, you have to know the rest.”

 

Again, he wanted to push away reality and not confront the terrible truth.  Yet, truth was his goddess, his ideal, his quest.  He could not hide from it now when it was miserably painful.  Kelly never answered the last question, he knew, and understood that was the truth he was running from.

 

“Bad?”

 

Exchanging looks with Lukela, Chin faced him, nodding his head, his eyes watering. 

 

Steve felt his knees go weak, but he held onto his friend for support.  “Is he going to live?”

 

Chin nodded.  “Yes, but there was internal damage.  A whole lot of bleeding.  He’s shaky,” he prevaricated, then drew in a deep breath.  “That’s not the worst.  Stomach wound wasn’t too serious.  The bullet is pressed against his spine.  They can’t operate anymore.  Almost lost him for good during surgery.”  He shook his head again.  “He’s -- he has no feeling in his legs.”

 

Backing away, McGarrett knocked into the wall and tried to work around the revulsion of the words.  Shaking his head, he felt cold, as if the warmth had been sucked out of his soul.  No, this couldn’t be happening!  Trembling, he gripped his fists as tight as he could.  Breathing deeply, he sought for control.  No words would come out, he could only shake his head. 

 

“Doc says it’s too dangerous to remove the bullet.  Might paralyze him completely.  Or even kill him.”

 

Cutting past the self-loathing and grief, he went back on track -- to the only thread of hope he could find.  He couldn’t think beyond the monumental anguish.  There was no future.  Only one thought, one goal, one purpose for now.

 

“I have to see him,” he grated and strode to the door.

 

Kelly nodded.  Duke opened the door.  Steve followed his detectives through the white corridors.  He felt numb inside and outside, like he was working automatically and in a daze.  Not the drugged daze that had insulated him the past few days.  An emotional bewilderment and shock that left him disoriented, weak and throbbing with inner anguish. 

 

Dr. Leonard was at the nurse’s station and started to protest McGarrett’s escape, but Duke quickly took him aside.  Steve wouldn’t allow the physician to distract him -- all he could do was demand to go to Williams.  There was no other focus.  After a brief debate, the doctor unlocked the doors of the Mental Ward and allowed McGarrett to be escorted -- with Chin, Duke and an HPD patrolman, to ICU.

 

Devastation colored his world as he silently trailed his officer, afraid of what he would find at the end of his journey.  The person he loved as a brother was damaged because of him.  He still couldn’t believe it.  Maybe the doctors were wrong.  Maybe Danno was hurt, but tired and not ready to move, yet.  Steve would help him.  He was going to turn this all around . . . .

 

The HPD guard at the room gave him a nod.  At least Danno was protected now.  The unknown assailant was still at large, then.  Too bad someone couldn’t have protected Williams from him, he thought bleakly. Duke and Chin stood aside, clearly not wanting to enter with him.  Sending him on this mission alone.  One of them mentioned something about sedation as he slipped in and took only a few paces, remaining by the door, allowing it to nearly close on him.

 

 

*****

 

Entering the darkened hospital room made his stomach ripple.  Danno was still, unmoving, pale; hooked up to several different IVs and monitors.  A cast on the left arm.  There were bruises and some stitched lacerations on the arm.  Cuts and bruises on the face.  On the right side of the face was a wound along the hairline and trailing to the ear.  Cringing, he knew he was responsible for all these minor wounds, too.  Breaking Dan’s arm; fighting, shooting and crippling his friend.  How could he have done this?  He could hardly bear the disgust welling inside.

 

Immobile, frozen in grief and shock, he couldn’t think clearly; his head was buzzing with throbbing hurt, his heart was cracking with misery.  He could understand nothing, recognize nothing beyond the motionless patient.  Forcing himself to do something -- to move -- he eased forward.  He approached the bed slowly; one agonized step at a time. 

 

“Danno.”

 

Williams opened his eyes and after a moment blearily concentrated on McGarrett, his focus never quite clearing.  Then he jolted suddenly, gasping and holding his hand out in a defensive gesture.

 

“No!” he rasped.

 

“Danno.”  He moved to offer comfort and was repulsed to see Dan flinch at his approach.  “It’s okay,” he whispered, holding fast at a distance.

 

Flashbacks.  The doctors warned him against flash-memories from the drugs.  He did not expect Danno to suffer from a memory-fear of the attack.  The friend he damaged now feared him.  Aghast, he cleared his throat and spoke gently.

 

“It’s me,” Steve assured, stepping closer very slowly.

 

Wary for far too long, Williams gradually dropped his hand, uncertainty slowly replacing the anxiety.  His brow wrinkled, and cautiously inquired.  “Steve?” he whispered faintly.  “You okay now?” 

 

Realizing it was a question of assurance that McGarrett was his normal self -- that he was not going to attack Danno -- he cringed.  Words escaped him.  Too consumed with sorrow at what he had done, he could not move.   The distrust and fear his attack had fostered in his friend was sickening.

 

“You’re better?”  Williams visibly relaxed with relief.  “You look better.”  His pale face folded in anguish.  “Good.”

 

Leaning on the bed, Steve couldn’t find anything to say.  He wanted to confess his agony; beg forgiveness, plead that this was all a mistake.  Was he still hallucinating?  Was this all a dreadful nightmare?  No, the pain was too great for this to be anything except heart-wrenching reality.  No words could escape the misery and heartbreak.  Upon studying his helpless friend, the bluster and optimism and fight of denial vanished.  Only pain remained.

 

Steve took hold of the arm that wasn’t in a cast.  He could only shake his head.  In sorrow, in grief, he swallowed a sob.  Tears burned in a thin stream down his cheeks.  Knees weak, he sank onto the side of the bed, burying his face against Danno’s shoulder, he strangled a cry of angst. 

 

Comforting pats on his arm -- his friend’s silent consolation -- made him all the more tortured.  Knowing he had caused all this -- then received absolution when he couldn’t ask for forgiveness -- was agonizing.  Exoneration had already been offered.  The generosity stabbed him as another blade of guilt.  He had committed an unfathomable act and his friend would not even hold him in contempt.  Unable to hold back the emotions, he wept.

 

 

*****

 

 

It seemed a long while before he could speak.  “Sorry can’t even begin . . . .

 

Williams’ face streaked with tears.  “Not your fault, Steve.”  His speech was slow and tired.  The emotional purge had weakened him.  He could barely keep his eyes open.  “Duke told me about the drugs.  Not your fault.”

 

After what seemed like forever, the tears subsided and McGarrett sat up, wiping dry his, then Dan’s face.  For a while, they just stared at each other.  Williams’ first words were no comfort, but a reflection that at least one of them was being practical.  Not wanting to let go, gripping onto his hand, Williams’ fist tightened to emphasize his point.

 

“I don’t blame you,” he assured lethargically.  “I don’t.”

 

“I pulled the trigger,” Steve confessed jaggedly, the mere words tearing him up inside again.  A deep breath gulped down another sob.  “I can’t even remember – but I did it.”

 

“Not you,” Williams shook his head.  “The drug.  Blue.”

 

It was a fine point to be debated by lawyers.  In his mind, he was culpable.  “I hurt you,” he could hardly look at the scraped face, stitches, and cast on the arm. . . .  He had done this!  “I broke your hand?”

 

“Wrist,” Dan corrected.  “It’ll be okay.”

 

He winced, shaking his head.  “Disarming me?” he guessed.

 

Dan nodded.  “Doctor wouldn’t say much about your condition.  No aftereffects?”

 

‘Only what I did to you,’ he wanted to cry.

 

He shook his head.  For two days, he was disoriented and confused, slowly drawing away from the artificial visions and returning to reality.  Now, he was far more consumed with his friend’s health.  Waiting for rescue from his usual conspirator, he had actually been mad at Williams for not coming after him sooner!  If he had only known . . . .

 

“What did the doctors tell you about – your legs?” 

 

Maybe Chin was wrong.  Maybe something had changed since Kelly talked to anyone on staff.  Maybe there was a mistake, he hoped against reason.  It was dreadful that he had shot his friend.  But perhaps the diagnosis of paralysis was wrong.  It wouldn’t be the first time doctors made a mistake.

 

The expression darkened and Dan’s eyebrows drew close.  “They didn’t tell you?  Everything?”

 

“Chin said -- said they can’t remove the bullet.”  That was as close as he could get to the terrible reality.

 

Williams nodded and gulped in a breath.  “Can’t walk.”  He shrugged with an effort at casualness, but his face bespoke devastation.  “Bullet lodged against the spine.”

 

“But they can go after it,” McGarrett insisted, wondering why nobody but him thought of this before!  “When you’re stronger they can operate,” he insisted, certain of this obvious avenue.  Kelly had to be wrong.  The doctors weren’t thinking clearly.  “They can’t just give up!”

 

“Doctor -- surgeon -- said he won’t risk it.  Could cause more damage -- if he tries . . . .   He shook his head, dejected.  “Too weak.  Won’t risk it.”  He closed his eyes.   

 

How much worse could it get? Steve disconsolately thought.  Total paralysis?  That thought sickened him.  Already devastated at this tragedy, he admitted it could get worse.  Any further damage to his friend would be intolerable for them both.  So they would settle for this?   For a half-life?  For Danno never to enjoy the things he loved?  Never to be with him again on investigations and hunts and late night strategy sessions at the office?  No!  He could not accept that, but Fate did not listen to his ranting and was not swayed by his stubborn denials.

 

“I’ll talk to the doc,” he promised darkly.

 

Williams looked back at him, dismal.  Finally, he offered a slow nod.  There was no hope in his eyes or his tired, wan face.

 

The mighty McGarrett, leader of the elite police unit revered and feared throughout the state and many places in the world, could do nothing when it mattered most.  For the person who mattered most to him, he was helpless to make any difference at all.  After he caused the damage, he could not fix it.

 

Failure was something he never accepted in others and to see it now in him was a bitter desolation.  How could he admit it to Danno?  He focused in another direction, away from the guilt for a moment and toward something positive.

 

“Try to move your legs.”

 

“Can’t.”

 

McGarrett ground his teeth.  “Try!” 

 

Williams shook his head.  “I am,” he whispered brokenly.

 

Nothing.

 

“It’s okay,” he assured weakly.

 

Patting Dan’s arm, though they both knew nothing was right at all.  Steve covered his face to conceal the naked despair he felt he could not hide.  He remembered the devastation when he thought he was paralyzed.  From the engineered car accident.  He had panicked.  Now it was Danno’s turn and this was no frame up by Wo Fat.  This was real.  He had pulled the trigger and done this.  Too fatigued and spent to weep, he sat there, aching with sorrow, holding onto his friend and hating what he had done.

 

Singly, a few tears trailed down his cheeks.  “I can’t tell you how very sorry I am, Danno. . . . “

 

“Not your fault,”

 

“It is.”

 

Shaking his head, he refused solace from the person who should be condemning him.  Whether he could prevent it, or not, whether he was in his right mind or not, he had pulled the trigger of his own gun.  Danno had been in the way.  He would never get past that and compounding the hurt, Danno forgave him without question. 

 

“What did Doc say?  They going to release you?”

 

McGarrett didn’t want to move on to another subject.  He wanted Danno to scream at him, voice the rage Steve felt.  Dan should punch him!  Anything, but this passive acceptance.  Danno had a temper, why wasn’t it channeled at him when he so deserved it?

 

“I’m well enough.” 

 

The hand in his relaxed, his friend drifting off to sleep.  Steve shook his head, feeling burning tears again well up in his eyes.  How could they accept this?  Danno had to fully recover.  The alternative was intolerable. 

 

His vital, active, much-needed friend, ally and confidant could not be torn out of his life like this!  Could not be condemned to permanent disability that would rob him of so much he loved.  Determined to change things somehow, but knowing he couldn’t, McGarrett stayed there until the sun’s angle through the blinds indicated it was later afternoon. 

 

As the moments ticked by, his self-loathing and hurt turned to anger.  Anger at what had been done to them – to Danno.  Wrath that an enemy had assaulted them so cunningly, effectively, and struck them down.  It could have been worse, and he had a hard time even imagining that.  What if everyone would have eaten the egg rolls?  He couldn’t even contemplate the possibilities.

 

He could, however, focus on the awful deeds bringing him to this distressing reality.  The names, the motives, the opportunity – all known – who, what, why, when.  The question to remain solved -- where.  Where were Alika and Wong?  Wherever they were, he would have his hands on them soon enough.  Staring at the still and pale officer in the bed, he knew nothing he could do to those criminals would ever be enough retribution for what they had done – what they made him do -- to Williams.

 

 

*****

 

 

At the sound of the door opening, McGarrett turned but did not relinquish his position.  It was Bergman.  He gave a nod of acknowledgement, but said nothing.

 

“Why don’t you get some rest, Steve?  This has been tough on you, I’m sure.”

 

“I have been confined in a room for two days!” he snapped out, then made an effort at civility. Lowering his voice, but losing none of his intensity, he asked, “What are his chances of walking again?”

 

“Not in here,” he whispered, nodding toward the slumbering Williams.

 

Steve gently rose from his perch on the side of the bed and joined the doctor in the corridor.  “Will he walk again?” he demanded.

 

“Not for now,” Bergman sighed.

 

Seizing on that thin wisp of hope, he snapped, “What do you mean?  Then it’s possible --“

 

“Inadvisable, Steve,” Bergman whispered crossly.  “The operation is too dangerous.  It would kill him -- he’s too depleted and weak.  He lost a lot of blood, you know.  Moving the bullet might sever the spinal cord.  It could paralyze him completely.”

 

“But there’s a chance.”

 

Wearing his familiar weary-worn expression, Bergman continued.  “The specialist is not sure there’s any chance at all.  From the xrays it seems likely the spinal cord is already damaged.  The operation is too risky.  Don’t you think partial paralysis is better than complete?”  He stared at the cop, then hurried on before Steve could respond.  “Don’t ask him to take the chance, Steve.  Isn’t it better that Danny is functional and alive?  It’s a tragedy now, but how would you feel if he couldn’t move at all?  There are plenty of handicapped people who lead fruitful lives.”

 

Steve couldn’t deal with the future right now.  He could not accept the present.  He pushed past the coroner and swept down the hall in a blur of motion.

 

“Get me some clothes, Doc.”

 

“Steve, you can’t leave --“

“No arguments,” he ordered as he stalked back toward his room. 

 

At the doors of the Mental Ward he stopped, fidgeted, snapping his fingers.  He didn’t want to go back there.  The mere implication that he had stayed there at all was an enormous irritation and insult.  Spinning on the coroner, he wanted to make other demands, but knew the situation required a less daunting approach than his usual domineering attitude.

 

“Doc -- “ he faltered.  Unaccustomed to asking for favors, he didn’t really have words for this dilemma.  “Do what you can for Danno.  Tell him -- I’ll be back later.”

 

“Steve, you’re not fit for duty --“

 

“I am not going to stay here doing nothing!” he nearly shouted.  Aware he might very quickly be locked up behind the Mental Ward again if he flew into a tirade, he grabbed Bergman’s elbow and led him aside.  “You think I’m going to sit around and stare at padded walls while the scum that did this to us is out getting a tan on Waikiki?”

 

Bergman scowled and sighed.  “I wouldn’t expect anything else of you, Steve, no.  Just remember something,” he gravely admonished, his expression unusually grim.  “Danny is going to need you now.  His life has changed and you are –“ he faltered, then cleared his throat, as if coming to a difficult decision.  “ -- you’re still his anchor, Steve.”

 

McGarrett winced, the words striking him deep in the soul, like a mortal wound.

 

“I looked in on you in there.  This tragedy hasn’t changed his opinion of you. For some reason, he still likes you.”  He tried to sound ironic, but the tone fell flat.  Somberly, he advised, “I know, this is going to be tough for you.  This was a terrible tragedy.  But, you can’t call back the bullet.  You have to move on.  And Danny is going to need you now more than ever.”  He shook his head, exhaling, staring at the ceiling for a moment, then back at the cop.  “I know you’re going to want to go out there and tear up the Island to find these monsters who did this.  Just remember how you react to Danny’s paralysis is how he’s going to react.  If you ignore him, if you’re never here to help or talk --“

 

That angered him.  “You think I’m going to push Danno away now that he’s down?” he shouted, livid at the accusation. 

 

“Guilt can drive you away --“

 

“Don’t psychoanalyze me!  Don’t you think I know what I’ve done? Believe me, Doc, I am very aware of the scope of this tragedy!  You think it will affect our friendship if he can walk or not?”

 

“I didn’t say that.”

 

“Does it look like my guilt is pushing him away?”

 

“No --“

 

“You think I’m so shallow?  Because he might not be part of Five-0 he can’t be part of my life?”  It was like deep, repressed fears were surfacing.  He had no idea where these thoughts were coming from -- some black pool of bitter regret and self-castigation.  “You think I won’t take care of my own?”

 

Bergman was studying him closely, not withering under the intense blast.  “I’m just warning you.  If you’re not around he’s going to think he’s been abandoned.  He’ll lose hope.  We can’t let that happen, Steve.”

 

Seething, McGarrett rasped, “Would I like to go out there and rip up every possible refuge on this rock and tear apart the slime responsible for this?  Yes, I would!  Do you think that’s going to take precedence over Danno?”  He stabbed Bergman with his finger.  “Nothing is more important than Danno.  Nothing!” 

 

He backed away, deciding he was not going back to his room.  And he was not going to desert his friend when Danno needed him.  Even if it tore him apart every time Danno looked at him, he was not going to forsake the person closest to him.  No matter what the outcome of this terror, it would never change -- no -- it would never shatter the tightness of the friendship.  Their bond would be different -- and their relationship was forever changed now -- he shot his friend! How could it not be changed! That Danno couldn’t walk because of his violence -- that colored everything in life hopeless.  But they would always be friends no matter what. He would always be there for Danno.

 

 

*****

 

Finding cooperation from Bergman too slow, McGarrett called his office.  Jenny answered, nearly beside herself with joy to be talking to the boss.  Her second question -- after asking after him -- was about Danny, of course.  He swallowed the knot of anguish leaping into his throat.  He would have to guard against those reactions.  There would be no easy way to get around these inquiries, so he would have to be resistant and face them with a show of toughness.

 

“He’s resting, Jenny.”  He wished he could shove it aside like so many other times, but not with this tragedy.  If only he could say Danno would be all right.  None of them would be all right, though, for a very long time.  “He’d probably like a visit when he’s a little stronger.  Let me talk to whoever’s there, please.”

 

Ben answered and Steve demanded he grab the overnight bag always kept by the bookshelf in his office, and bring it to him.  Thankfully, here was one person who did not second-guess him.  Kokua just said he would comply and that was the end of the conversation.

 

Steve waited at the nurse’s station, trying to get information on Williams.  A few times, he drifted back to Danno’s room, but Williams was either asleep or resting with his eyes closed.  There was nothing else Steve could say now, so he remained silent.  It hurt to even look at the still figure, so he paced the corridors. 

 

Despite his bravado with Bergman, he was not so sure he could pull this off.  No, he would not abandon Danno, or ignore him.  Looking in on his friend, though, knowing what he had done, he faltered.  He did not take the extra step and -- like so many times before -- wake him up, talk to him, assure himself Dan would recover. 

 

How was he going to handle this?

 

 

*****

 

Wearing out a track in front of Williams’ room was not a good sign – obviously, McGarrett was having trouble coping with the rotten events of the past few days.   Ben decided, as he approached with the suitcase, he would tread lightly. 

 

“Hi, Steve.”

 

This was the first time he’d seen his boss since that terrible, unreal night at the office.  The shock of the tragedy still hardly registered.  It was too unbelievable that Steve of all people had been a raging madman.  That he had shot Danny!  Kokua’s bruises and scrapes still hurt from the battle and, even now, he could hardly fathom that it happened.

 

Today, however, McGarrett was meek and worn.  Haggard.  McGarrett stared at him for a moment with aching sorrow in his eyes.  Uncomfortable with the vulnerable, damaged image of the usually tough and commanding cop, Ben didn’t know what else to say.

 

“Ben.”  His scrutiny was penetrating.  “Are you – okay?”

 

Kokua was startled to be asked to comfort and reassure McGarrett.  An unsettling first.  “Yeah, everything’s cool, Steve.  Don’t worry about it.” 

 

“You know – you know about Danno?”

 

“Yeah.”  Not knowing how to respond to everything that question entailed, either, he opted for a comforting return to business.  He handed the overnight case to Steve.  Here’s your things.”

 

“Mahalo.  I’ll be right back.”

 

Slipping into Dan’s room, Ben stood right at the door as if afraid to approach the bed, and stared at his friend.  They had not known each other well before Ben came onto the Five-0 staff.  Working with Danny, though, was a great experience.  Five-0 was the best and every detective on the workforce reflected that excellence.  Not just an akamai and skilled cop, but Williams was fun to be around and shrewd, and knew how to ease the tension around the office with humor. 

 

More than anything, he saw Danny as the buffer between McGarrett and the rest of the world.  Steve was brilliant and dedicated and sometimes not on the same planet as everyone else.  Dan didn’t really worship the ground Steve walked on, but what those two shared -- such mutual respect and admiration -- he had never seen before.  On some deep level, they connected with a unique bond.  Every personality trait seemed a counterpoint -- not in opposition, but in compliment.  Dan’s practical reason kept Steve grounded when the McGarrett genius tended to alienate and confuse others.

 

At least that was how Ben saw things sometimes, always grateful for a mediator between the intense and brilliant leader and the rest of the staff.  Danny was the peacemaker.  He was the one Steve always turned to in troubled times, in confusion, in celebration.

 

In the last few years, Danny had been in some tight spots.  Life around the office was pretty unpleasant then; Steve tearing around on quests that were sometimes desperate.  What was it going to be like without Danny around at all?

 

What was it going to be like for Danny?  That was a bleak thought Ben had avoided.  The reality would hit Williams soon enough, he supposed.  No more surfing, swimming, walking on the beach, sex, driving his car -- no more a lot of things.  No more Five-0.  No more working with Steve or his other friends.  No useful life. 

 

What policemen fear -- not just death -- beyond death -- a half life.  Not being yourself.  What did a disabled cop do for a living?  Somehow overcame the handicap and moved on.  What did he do when it was his closest friend who shot him and ended his career?  That remained to be seen.

 

Quietly, Ben backed out of the room.  Next time he came he would have to play it normal.  Ditch the pity and regret.  Danny would need his aikane to help him, not think of him as a freak or an outcast.  And above all they could not show him the depth of sorrow they all felt. 

 

 

*****

 

Ben had steered him through the back of the hospital to avoid the press.  That was his first inkling that there was a firestorm waiting outside the sterile, protective confines where he had been sequestered.  Questioning his detective, he learned the media was running high on speculation about an attack on the Five-0 detectives. No specifics.  Good.  He didn’t want to have the media underfoot right now.  If they knew he had been drugged it would make his job of retribution so much more difficult.

 

When she spotted Steve enter the office, Jenny Sherman raced from behind her desk and enveloped him in a tight hug.  The overtly demonstrative emotion was troubling.  He had caused terrible pain in his little ohana and being welcomed so warmly was difficult to take.

 

“Jenny –“

 

“We’ve been worried sick about you, Boss.  Just happy you’re back,” she sniffed.

 

He did not deserve the homecoming.  Thickly, he muttered, “I’m all right.”

 

“Now we just have to get Danny back.”

 

“Yeah,” he tightly agreed. 

 

He almost lost his taut control, then.  Noting the other officers observing the moment, he drew in a deep breath and settled in check again.  If he folded now it would set them all back.  They looked to him for leadership and strength at all times.  In a crisis especially.  How he conducted himself in this crucial initial return was vital.  Go for the normal.  Settle into routine.  Go on with life no matter how difficult or how painful.

 

Gently he pushed her away.  “Think you can get us some coffee?”

 

“It’ll be right in.”

 

 

*****

 

 

As Jenny Sherman filled the coffee mugs, she sniffed back the sobs, unsure whom she was crying for.  Steve, certainly.  She had seen him in the recovery stage before.  Today was worse than most.  He was haggard and worn, as if nearly vacant inside.  Who could blame him after what happened?

 

Steve McGarrett robbed of his defiant, stanch nature?  Not robbed.  Emptied.  Drained.  His face was lined with weariness, some telltale bruises reflected the struggle she had heard about and thankfully escaped.  There had been a lot of excitement in this office over the years.  She was glad she missed the awful struggle when Steve had shot Danny and the others forcibly subdued their boss.

 

No doubt, it would take a long time to recover from this.  For all of them.  She knew this group of fine detectives when she was a secretary for the Governor.  Way back then it was obvious the elite police officers were close friends.  Young Danny always had a serious case of hero worship for McGarrett.  And Steve thought the world of his newest and brightest detective.  Big protective brother and young kid brother.  They were the center of one big Five-0 family.

 

That warm and caring balance between them all was destroyed now.  She didn’t know how any of them could recoup.  While Danny’s condition was terrible, she felt the worst for Steve.  Of course, McGarrett was a survivor, but how was he going to overcome this tragedy?  Shooting his friend and leaving Williams a cripple?

 

Wiping away the tears, she gathered the mugs and drew in a deep breath.  Business as usual, she reminded as she stiffened her spine.  Steve would expect nothing less than professionalism from her and the rest of the staff.  The main example, of course, always being McGarrett.  They took their lead, their moods from him.  Borrowing on his strength, determination and willpower. 

 

But she didn’t sell herself short, either.  The secretaries and even the detectives often gauged things around here according to her attitude. No matter how bad things were, how beat up and dangerous life at Five-0 became, she always showed she could be as resilient as any of the guys.  When she got home, she might cry over the pain and heartache they saw around here.  Never in front of the men if she could help it.

 

That was how they would get through this now.  They would show a brave face and go through it one day after the other.  She just hoped Steve had enough resolve left for this monumental ordeal.

 

 

*****

 

 

The office smelled of fresh paint, varnish and soap.  He guessed the carpet had been thoroughly cleaned.  No bullet holes were detectible anywhere.  Had he hit anything besides Danno, he wondered nauseatingly?   The beautiful koa wood edging the windows, the doors, the frames, the glass – all seemed common.  An outward façade of normalcy – surface repairs – like his own psyche and presence here.

 

As Duke, Chin, Ben and Nick gathered around the desk he had a flash of a scene.  Dark.  Shadows.  Struggling.  He shook his head to clear away the phantoms.  The lanai doors; the koa wood trim -- had been damaged or broken -- it was just an image, but all looked normal now.

 

These detectives and patrolmen were all here that night.  They had been part of the tragedy.  He wanted to ask how it all happened – what he did — but he was not sure he was ready for the details.  Steve did know, however, he had to clear the air.

 

After Jenny brought in the coffee and left, he studied them silently. 

 

Every one of them had scrapes and cuts and he knew he had inflicted those minor, but visible wounds.  Struggling against his own men, he had left signs of his madness.  Maybe the office didn’t show any lasting harm.  And the officer’s wounds would heal soon.  There was one, though, who may never heal.  Two, he corrected.  Because if Danno didn’t come out of this okay, neither would he.

 

“Tell me what happened.”

 

As expected, it was an ugly story.  Steve could tell Chin, Ben and Duke glossed over the worst, the most graphic and poignant moments.  Nick was solemnly silent.  Vividly, Steve’s imagination filled in the blanks.  Their faces, their dry voices reflected the shock when they had entered this familiar sanctuary to see their leader with a smoking gun and the second-in-command on the floor bleeding from a stomach wound.

 

They also barely discussed subduing him, but their abrasions and bruises and his cuts and handcuff scrapes told the tale vibrantly.  These loyal and valiant men had been forced to wrestle him to save themselves and protect their downed colleague. 

 

It was a minor miracle the press wasn’t beating down the door for details.  He wondered how much of this sensational news had leaked out.  The chief and second-in-command of Five-0 hospitalized under extreme circumstances -- he didn’t want to imagine the frenzy in the media.  His return must have been kept top secret.  Knowing his notoriety in the press, he would not have freedom of movement for long.  It was the least of his worries now.

 

A little self-conscious in casual clothes, he did not feel comfortable here.  This was his home base, but so much of the picture was wrong.  One of the most difficult moments of his life.  With effort, he forced himself to move on.

 

Taking a deep breath, he began, “I want you all to know how sorry I am for what happened.”

 

As expected, all of them at once denied there was a need for such confession.  He quieted them, then continued. 

 

“We’re going to need to pull together, gentlemen.  Like never before,” his voice quavered, “We will need to lean on each other.”  This was supposed to be a pep talk, or at least a confession and absolution.  All he could think about was the person missing -- the one they could not stop remembering, and yearning to see here again.  “I pushed Wong.  He pushed back and he hurt us --“ he nearly lost it, brokenly feeling the raw emotions bubble into his throat.  Swallowing hard, he continued, looking down at the desk so they would not see the moisture in his eyes.  “He hurt us very badly.”  His fists balled and he slammed the desk.  “But he will not win!  We will get him, I promise!  He is my number one target.  We will not rest.  We will not stop until he is in our hands.”

 

“We think he’s still on the island,” Chin quietly reported.

 

Nodding, McGarrett sat behind his desk, feeling unsettled to be back.  An alien perspective considering this was more his home than his condo.  “I want to know the progress you’ve made finding Wong.  And getting Blue off the street.”

 

“That little slime Manoa’s turned invisible,” Duke snapped out.  “Like a volcano swallowed him up.”

 

“No one wants to admit they know him,” Ben added.  “Can’t find him anywhere.  He’s got to be the one who spiked the food.”

 

McGarrett nodded, launching up and pacing around the desk, snapping his fingers.  The rhythm of life was returning.  “Ben, you and Duke work on finding him.  When you do, I want him in this office.  Check every source you can think of.”  He hesitated, then plunged on to the next difficult task.  “Chin, you track down some of Danno’s other informants.  Find out if any of them know Manoa.  I’m going to tackle Kumu.”

 

The detectives quietly left except for Lukela.  Obviously, from the pensive look on his face, there was something he needed to say.  Without prompting, Steve waited him out.

 

“Steve, if you want to take some time off, we can work the investigation.”

 

The opportunity to be insulted at the mere idea of fleeing the field of battle was there, but Steve didn’t let his anger flash into molten lava.  Lukela knew better than to challenge him, so he waited for a more complete explanation.

 

“If you want to take time to spend with Danny.”

 

The conclusion of the consideration made things clearer.  Touched by the thoughtfulness, Steve also intuitively believed there was something else behind the offer.  Guilt or special remorse?  He didn’t understand it.  Part of the murky past that he could not remember with distinction and was probably better left untouched.  He would not ask for details.  Beyond the fact that he did not want to know, he respected Duke’s silence on his hidden motives.

 

“Mahalo,” he gruffly thanked, staring at the desk.  “I’m okay, Duke, I can handle everything.”

 

Silently, Lukela left.  McGarrett leaned on the wall and breathed deeply, quelling the emotions bubbling so close to the surface.  His men were his treasures -- the true strength in his life.  His true ohana.  How empty his days would be without them.  Purposely, he had constructed a life of duty and service for himself.  His staff became the family he never allowed himself to pursue.  This was the center of his universe.

 

His eyes scanned the office, trying to fit in the standard references around him to the haunting memories that would not quite form.  Snatches of images filtered in -- almost like shadows. 

 

The fight.  The shooting.  Blurred images behind an opaque screen. 

 

He noted the long barometer formerly on the wall behind his desk was gone.  Framed awards and the old-world globe reproduction absent.  Also missing was the elegant wooden model of the sailing ship.  He had destroyed that, too?  A replica of his great-grandfather’s full-mast whaling ship.  Danno had given him that as a present years ago -- even etched with the name of his great-grandfather’s ship -- the Sea Challenge.  He had destroyed that treasure?  Danno had a matching ship in his apartment.  One of the many symbols of how much they shared.  Darkly, he reasoned that if he could manage to beat up his detectives and shoot his best friend while on Blue, he could certainly destroy valued gifts.

 

No longer comfortable here, unnerved at the solitude and ghosts; the guilt and the memories, he stalked out to talk to Jenny.

 

Over the pretense of more coffee, he watched his staff at work, absorbing the normalcy of the office.  The empty cubicle across from Jenny’s desk stabbed him with the vivid reminder of what he had done.  Danno should be there, but was missing.  This unit would not be the same without him.  Steve still couldn’t conceive of Dan being gone for good.  Somehow, he had to change that.

 

When Jenny touched his arm, he realized he must have been in a daze.  Tactful enough not to mention his lapse, or his obvious train of thought, she told him Manicote was on the line.  Reluctantly, he returned to his office and took the call.

 

“Steve, you’re not supposed to be back to work until the IA hearing --“

 

“John, you know nothing is going to keep me away --“

 

“You’re on medical leave and you need to stay away from this investigation.  On purely legal grounds --“

 

This was not just about the paralysis.  He shot his friend!  No force could move him away from this investigation and John knew that.   “You know what you can do with your legalities, John!  I put Danno in the hospital --“

 

“Exactly my point, Steve.  The head of Five-0 was drugged and did some pretty nasty things.  Do you think he should be back on the job --“

 

“I am, John.  And unless you want to come over here and drag me out, this is where I’m staying!”

 

He slammed down the phone, the argument clearing his nerves and helping him think better.  Yelling at Manicote proved a therapeutic action.  And it helped him decide on his next course of action.  Although dramatic, he decided his ultimatum to the DA was right.  They weren’t getting him off this investigation unless they dragged him out.  That settled in his own mind, he swept out of the office, telling Jenny he would be back later.

 

He stopped at his apartment to clean up and change into a suit.  The forward motion was keeping him sane right now.  He had to focus on justice in circumstances where so far there was none.  Fleetingly, he speculated that from a certain perspective John was right.  He should not be on the case in this volatile and emotional state.  There was, however, nowhere else to go, and he was not built to stand on the sidelines of any investigation.  Certainly not one where criminals had caused him to beat up and shoot his friend.

 

When Danno’s girlfriend was murdered he banned Williams from the case.  Finally, Dan prevailed on him to allow his inclusion in the investigation. 

 

‘If I don’t work on the case it will work on me,’ he told McGarrett.

 

Steve knew exactly how he felt.  This was not just about Dan being unable to walk.  This was about the most fundamental trespass of injuring his friend.  Drugged, he had still gone against everything he stood for and used violence against his officer. 

 

There was no way to change the past.  What was done was done.  Somehow, he had to live with that.  One way to cope, though, was to proceed as he always did and take the initiative.  Take the offensive in the investigation.  It would be the only possible measure of justice for him and Williams. 

 

Whether it was right or best for the state, or legal, he had to be at the forefront of this investigation.  With a modicum of satisfaction, he knew that would disturb the bad guys a lot more than it would bother Manicote.  He was back on the case now.  Next stop, his top suspect.

 

 

*****

 

 

The Kahala mansion was as beautiful as ever, but McGarrett ignored the natural splendor.  Just as he disregarded the Hawaiian sun and the tropical Trades on his face.  Billy Swan, the big Tongan manservant, was not there.  McGarrett intimidated the housekeeper into confessing Pahoa was golfing at the nearby, prestigious Waialae Country Club just down the street.  

 

In the press, he had heard himself described -- when using this frontal assault technique -- as a John Wayne-styled cop.  A paniolo.  Always upfront about who he was, what he was doing, Steve frequently rattled the bad guys to shake them off guard.  Old-fashioned enough to know he had more than a little of the white-hat syndrome of fighting fair, this was how he worked.  Face the enemy and let him know exactly where they all stood.  That the bad guy was in McGarrett’s sights and the cop wouldn’t rest until justice was done.  Possessing moral character, he approached every hazard within the legal structure of his limits.  No matter how repulsive the enemy, Steve almost always played by the rules.

 

Not a member of this exclusive golf club, McGarrett’s badge and name, however, gave him immediate access to the wiry and wary manager, Tom Lopaka.  Knowing Lopaka vaguely from his days as a PI in Honolulu, McGarrett told him he was here to speak with Pahoa.

 

“Mr. McGarrett, I’m sure you’re here on some kind of serious business with Pahoa.”  A man about Danno’s height, Lopaka was well muscled and had enough temerity to navigate the Five-0 boss to a corner of the bar.  “None of my concern why you’re here.  This club, though, is my concern so I’ll ask you to keep your -- interview -- low-key please, whatever you have to say.”

 

It was a request, but firmly delivered with a tone of authority.  Steve might be the top cop of the state, but this was Lopaka’s territory.  Appreciating the terrier-like attitude, he nodded.

 

“I’ll be nothing but civil with Mr. Pahoa.”

 

With a look of skepticism, Lopaka lead him through the open bar that overlooked the blue Pacific.  As Steve walked through the elegant clubhouse with the stunning view of Kahala beach, he tried to center himself on his integrity.  Obligated to keep his values while others did not, he had to face the man who was ultimately responsible for the terrible actions of the last few days.  He had to talk, without beating to a pulp, the man who controlled Wong.  It would do his cause no good to harangue anyone in public.  He should wait for a more opportune and private meet, but his nerves would not allow a pause.  He had to work on this now. 

 

The tour ended in a comfortably furnished private room with two sides open – one to a pool and the other to afford a spectacular view of the beach.  There, McGarrett found his prey.  Showing his intelligence, Lopaka left them alone.

 

Kapi Pahoa, a big Polynesian with bushy hair, was sitting by the pool.  There was no sign of Alika or Wong.  That probably meant either or both were laying low and Pahoa wanted to distance himself from the trouble makers for now.

 

“McGarrett, I hear you had an accident --“

 

“It was no accident, Pahoa,” he cracked viciously, losing all sight of his promise to stay cool.  “It was your dirty drug, Blue!  Wong threatened me.  Then he had one of his minions slip Blue into our food!” 

 

There were no half-measures here now.  The mob boss’ false sympathy had snapped open his raw ire and there was no turning back.  This was beyond threatening him; past shouting accusations across a pool or challenging each other in half-veiled intimidation.  This was attempted murder of the entire Five-0 unit.  Marginally, they had escaped death.  But in the fight one of their own was down.  Maybe down for good.  McGarrett wouldn’t let that go unpunished.  He had pulled the trigger -- an act he would be forever sorrowful over.  But someone spiked the food and they were going down.

 

“I want Wong.  Don’t try to hide him.  If you do, you will get burned right along with him.”  He almost smiled, but it was a leering menace.  “That would be fine with me.”

 

Angry now, Pahoa stood, taller and broader than the Five-0 chief.  He didn’t back down, and Kapi came up to him face to face.

 

“I am not hiding Wong.”

 

“He works for you --“

 

“Prove it!  Do you have the payroll evidence to prove it?”  His eyes widened in the momentary silence.  “You can not.  Otherwise you would be here to arrest me.”

 

“Don’t get too comfortable and discount that.”

 

“I hope you do not think me so foolish as to poison the state’s police officers.  I would not do such a thing.”

 

“Who said anything about poison?”

 

“The Advertiser.”

 

McGarrett believed Kapi had not instigated the attack.  This mob boss could kill people from a distance by dealing drugs and extortion -- taking out enemies by feeding them to the sharks.  But he read Pahoa as telling the truth on this.  As frustrating as that was, he believed the man.  Pahoa, though, was still involved with Wong.

 

“I’m putting you on notice, Pahoa,” Steve grated, his voice low and shaking.  “I will get Wong.  If you stand in the way, I’ll take you down, too.”

 

“I suppose you have proof?” was Pahoa’s silkily innocent response.  “Proof that Wong pulled the trigger and shot your officer?”  He offered a Cheshire smile.  “Not what the coconut wireless says.   Oh, no, I believe I’ve heard rumors that YOU are the one who pulled the trigger.”

 

Clenching his fists into tight balls, McGarrett nearly unleashed his rage and hurt and pummeled the mob boss.  While nothing would give him more satisfaction, it was the subject of the taunt that kept him from damaging this slime. 

 

If he loosed his emotions, he would lose the opportunity to get his hands on Wong.  He might destroy his chances of ultimately getting Pahoa.  That retribution was the only thing keeping him sane right now.  The possibility of justice balancing out some of the misery kept him from compete despair.

 

“I will get Wong,” he seethed between clenched jaws.  “And maybe even you, Pahoa.  You better believe I am not going to let this go unpunished.”

 

Stalking away, he wanted to have the last word.  It was a matter of pride as much as Pahoa’s continued health.  One more crack from the fat Polynesian and McGarrett might have thrown away all his high ideals and decked the jerk.

 

Racing away in the Mercury, he settled down, calmed as he targeted his next steps.  As always, work -- pursuit -- validity -- kept him going.  After the quest for justice, he would have to face the aftermath of tragedy.  In the past, that had been grieving for his baby nephew.  Mourning with Danno after his girlfriend died.  Relief when Dan had been discovered alive after kidnapped by terrorists.  This time would be a whole different type of recovery, and in all honesty, it terrified him.

 

 

*****

 

 

Courage came in many forms, McGarrett reflected as he strode down the hospital corridor.  The quiet bravery of everyday heroes was the most common and overlooked.  Like when his mother was widowed and she had to take over caring for the family, working endlessly to care for her children.  No brass bands, no headlines, just everyday endurance to get though and make life better for those she loved.

 

There were the unsung heroes that performed valiant acts on a daily basis; the firefighters who risked their lives to save people from collapsing buildings.  Soldiers who put their lives on the line for comrades and ideals.  Policemen who faced down violence and sometimes death to keep the majority of society safe -- he saw that frequently, rubbed elbows with men and women like that every day. 

 

Standing at the door, he gathered his pluck.  It would take all his strength to walk in here and carry on normally.  Put up a positive front when he felt broken inside.  And it would take guts from Williams to come out of this all right.  A long, tough road ahead.  They seemed far away from a happy conclusion now. 

 

There was no doubt Danno had the courage in him.  It was just going to prove all his mettle to keep going when so much of his life had been taken away, and Steve had been the one to rob him of that life.  Shot by his closest friend.  Steve couldn’t get over it, he didn’t expect Danno to, but Williams had already forgiven him.  It remained to be seen if that generous attitude could endure through the recovery and the altered future ahead. 

 

Walking in, he noted the blinds were drawn and the lights were off except for a small lamp near the bed.  Danno’s eyes were closed, but he was sitting up.  And a meal tray -- food untouched -- was next to the bed.

 

The scent of sweet and sour chicken caught his awareness. 

 

Suddenly, layered over the moment, came a flashback jolting into his mind:  his office, food on the desk, shadows in the corners, the cold steel of his revolver in his hand, the loud report of the gunshot   --

 

His own gasp startled him from the vision and snapped Williams’ eyes open.

 

“Steve.”

 

Shaken, McGarrett leaned unobtrusively against the bed.  “Hi, Danno.”  He drew in covert, subdued breaths to steady his nerves.

 

Williams’ face expressed puzzlement.  “What is it?”

 

The doctors had warned him about flashbacks.  This one, triggered by what, the smell of the Asian food?  Just like that night in the office.  The sense of smell was said to be the most potent in the memory-factor of the human brain.  Whenever he caught the scent of plumeria he thought of the Palace grounds. 

 

Maybe the visions were triggered when he thought of the shooting.  Or when he saw Danno?  That would be too awful to even contemplate.  This would be ridiculous -- ludicrous -- unbelievable -- under other circumstances.  Now it was an agonizing difficulty he had to deal with.

 

He cleared his throat.  “Just wanted to see how you were doing.”  He dragged a chair closer and held onto the back with both hands.  You resting okay?”  Too nervous to sit, he tapped his fingers on the chair.

 

Williams nodded.  His reactions were slow, eyes not quite focused.  Still sedated and a little fuzzy.  “How’s the investigation?”

 

Steve couldn’t help the smile.  “Progressing, Officer Williams.  Thanks for asking.  How are you?”

 

Dan shrugged.  “No change.”  He looked away.  “Drugged food.  Ask Manoa.”

 

“We can’t find Manoa.  He hasn’t been back to work since that night.”

 

Staring back, Dan’s face clouded.  “He got us.  Knew all about us.  From me.”

 

“We don’t know that, yet,” he snapped back, but refrained from mentioning that was the prevalent theory.  That Manoa was the one who spiked the food.  And yes, he knew all about the Five-0 routine -- the frequent ordering from the restaurant -- even their personal favorite dishes.  Knew Williams went in to flirt with the hostess . . . .  “It’s not your fault if a snitch betrays you, Danno.” 

 

The reaction was typical.  Danno hated failure as much as McGarrett.  His aptitude for reservation of his abilities also included an inclination to quickly judge himself falling short somehow.  Blaming himself for Manoa’s malfeasance was ridiculous.

 

Steve had trained his detective well.  Following in his footsteps.  He never let go of something until it was finished.  Until the bad guys were caught.  Even if he was hospitalized and flat on his back.  Danno followed his lead.  The tenacity and uncompromising dedication made him a great cop.  And difficult sometimes.

 

Impatient, Steve repeated curtly, “This is not your fault!”

 

The tight expression told he didn’t buy the excuse.  “What else?”

 

“Wong’s disappeared, too,” he reported, knowing from experience it was best to let Danno work on the case instead of letting it frustrate him if excluded.  “We think he might still be on the island.  We’re checking his friends and contacts.  The usual --  he stopped cold.

 

“Legwork,” Williams supplied.  Self-consciously he looked at his feet.  “I still try and move them.  Don’t want to believe -- all over . . . . “

 

“You’re a survivor, Danno.  You’re going to get through this.”

 

Unconvincingly, Williams nodded.

 

Within himself, Steve could not find bright optimistic arguments to help.  He had put his friend here and found it impossible to offer empty promises.  He could only offer the truth.

 

“We’ll find a way around this, Danno.”

 

The tone was as bleak as the expression.  “How?”

 

“I don’t know,” he responded with difficulty.  This was one step away from complete failure and hopelessness. Somehow, he would salvage this whole mess, but he didn’t know how yet.  He couldn’t answer Dan’s question.  “We can’t let this defeat you, Danno.  If you give in, Wong wins.  Don’t let him.  You can beat this.”

 

It was so empty.  A pep talk where he used old arguments and vacant words against a crushing reality.  Even he could not put to voice the devastating truths he avoided.  Neither could Dan.  Cripple.  Disability.  They couldn’t connect with those definitions yet. 

 

Williams would not look at him.  “I won’t walk again, Steve.

 

“I’m not convinced,” McGarrett denied.  “And even if you can’t, life is not over because of this.”

 

“Right.”  No enthusiasm, no conviction.

 

McGarrett’s fists tightened on the chair.  There was nowhere to go.  Trapped.  Though he wouldn’t voice it, Dan felt the situation hopeless.  It brought back the thoughts of their first reunion earlier in the day.  Dan said he was forgiven, he didn’t blame him for the shooting.  How could that be true when they could not erase it from their minds?

 

For now, he supposed he should feel lucky that Dan even talked to him.  After what he did . . .

 

. . . . very clearly, the vision of fighting with Dan and the crack of a gunshot . . . .

 

Then it was gone.  A wisp of torment. 

 

Blinking, he brought Williams – the real person in real time – back into focus.  The younger detective was worn out emotionally and physically.  Steve made that his excuse for ducking out.  He promised to have Chin’s wife bring over some decent kau kau.  Williams nodded, not looking back, quietly commenting he would like to sleep.  He closed his eyes and effectively closed out the other suffering person in the room. 

 

McGarrett slipped away, angry at the world, but specifically, Wong.

 

 

*****

 

Alone in his private domain made him pause.  Lights out, blinds striped with a soft illumination from the outside lamps, it was eerie and foreboding in his usual haven. 

 

The flashback sifted in not as a slamming force, but as a gliding, melding recollection that eased into his mind and replaced the current moment.  The shadows.  They moved.  He thought it was Wong.  His disembodied voice echoed in his thoughts.  Paranoid ravings that over-powered Williams’ reason.  Shooting the moving shadows .  Struggling with Danno -- blood on his hands and all over Danno’s face --

 

“No . . . .” he closed out the visions, not wanting to relive the horrible moment. 

 

He condemned his friend to a living Hell of a half-life.  Was his purgatory reliving it again and again?  Never escaping the visions?  And the lasting, more anguished reality of remembering what he did every time he saw Danno.  What was the alternative?  Closing Danno out of his life?  That would be worse. 

 

Grinding his teeth, he stepped into the room and, leaving the lights out, walked to the lanai and opened the doors.  He stood there for a long time, breathing in the warm, tropical night air.  Thinking.  Wondering how he could solve what seemed like an insoluble problem.

 

What if Danno couldn’t walk again?  While he would not give up hope, in this bleak moment of solitary depression, he had to admit it was possible.  Well, he would just have to make compromises. 

 

Danno was a great cop and had a clever mind, a natural instinct, for police work.  It didn’t matter that there were no disabled officers in HPD or Five-0.  It didn’t matter that Dan couldn’t even visit the Palace because there was no elevator -- just a lot of stairs!  No way to be involved in serious cases even if Steve made a special place for him within Five-0.  He couldn’t come back to the office . . . .

 

No!  This was not acceptable!  Somehow, there had to be a way around this dilemma.  First, he would believe that Danno would return to normal.  If not -- well, he would just not give up no matter what.  To give in would mean defeat.  For Danno he could not accept that.  For himself, he could not live with that guilt.

 

 

*****

 

 

Sleep had been an elusive phantom these past days.  Nightmares plagued his dozing hours.  Visions and indistinct wraiths accompanied him as he drifted into the netherworld between slumber and consciousness.  When the phone’s rings penetrated through his nap, he startled to a sitting position and automatically fumbled to find the instrument before his eyes could focus or his brain could function.

 

“McGarrett.”  The acknowledgement was automatic, but his own voice aided in bringing him completely awake.

 

“Duke, here, Steve.  Just got a call from HPD responding to the APB on Manoa.”

 

“Great, Duke,” he murmured.  Glancing at the clock, surprised it read 4:42AM.  “Where is he?”

 

“Sheraton Waikiki.  He’s on a lanai on the twelfth floor screaming like a menehune and shooting at people.”

 

“I’ll be right over.”

 

 

*****

 

 

Kalia Avenue was clogged with HPD squad cars.  Unusual and hectic activity for that hour of the morning.  Normally, at this time, tourists were in bed from partying -- not yet up for morning exercise on the beach.  Riding up to the 12th floor with Duke, he joined several officers in the corridor.

 

“We’ve evacuated the rooms in this wing and on the floor above and below,” Lukela reported.

 

“Anybody try to talk him down?”

 

“Yeah, we tried to talk,” Officer Kiule sneered.  “He fired at us!  The guy is pupule.  Hopped up, man.”

 

McGarrett looked to Lukela with eyebrows raised in a questioning expression.

 

“If I was a betting man,” Duke offered, “I’d bet he was high on Blue.”

 

Gunshots echoed inside the room.  Impatient and irritated that they were so close to arresting the man responsible for drugging him -- the key to Wong and Pahoa -- McGarrett hesitated only a moment.

 

“Duke, you and some officers get on the lanai next to this room.  Create a diversion in,” he checked his watch, “one minute.”

 

“Steve, he’s crazy --“

 

“I’m going in.”  The finality was distinct. 

 

Lukela obeyed reluctantly.  McGarrett borrowed a bulletproof vest from one of the officers.  Manoa was his direct link to Wong.  Nothing would stop McGarrett from getting this slime.  He had put the drugs in their food.  He was responsible for what happened to Danno.  Steve was not waiting for this nut to throw himself off the lanai.  He was taking the man now! 

 

At fifty seconds gunfire again erupted in the room and he heard breaking glass, followed by screaming.  Not waiting, he kicked open the door and went in low.

 

Manoa -- maniacal and raging -- was beating the sliding glass door with his fists.  The man was bloody and oblivious.  Steve rushed forward and the man spotted him.  Manoa turned and fired, a bullet striking McGarrett’s vest in the lower right side.  Stumbling, the cop quickly regained his footing and continued the charge. 

 

Manoa fired again, but the pistol clicked empty, the slide flying back.  Screaming, he spun and launched himself over the lanai a moment before Steve nabbed him.  By the time McGarrett reached the railing there was a dark, body-shaped smudge on the sand below.  Pounding the railing, Steve muttered vicious epithets.  How could he do that?  Blue ruined everything!

 

“Manoa!  he yelled in frustration.  “Manoa!”

 

Staring far down to the beach, he felt sick.  It was the first time he had seen someone under the furious and frightening effects of Blue.  Had he been that deranged and violent with his men?   Obviously, he had.  One was still in the hospital because of violence.  Truly, there was no rational thought, no grasp of reality -- only terror and disoriented ferocity.  It must have been a horror to be on the other side -- his friends fighting with him for their lives.

 

As the officers checked the room, Steve slowly unbuttoned the protective vest, he leaned against the wall and refrained from screaming himself.  The frustration was almost beyond endurance.  The link to Wong and the Blue tidal wave had been nearly in his grasp. 

 

Lukela whistled softly as he checked out the bulletproof vest.  Removing it slowly, Steve rubbed his side.  He would have a serious bruise there later today.  Thankful the vest saved his life, he found little else to be happy about.

 

Glancing around the room, he surmised Manoa must have been hiding out here since the night of the poisoning.  Trash was scattered all over; newspapers, fast food bags, paper cups, soda cans, beer bottles.  No obvious signs of Blue.

 

“Go over this place carefully, Duke.  Blue is here somewhere.  Let me know as soon as you find something.”

 

He joined the officers on the beach who were cordoning off the area.  What a sensation this would be by the time dawn tipped the crest of Diamond Head.  Morning joggers and walkers on Waikiki would have an unforgettable sight if they didn’t get this cleared up wikiwiki.  But there were photographs to be taken and reports to be filed.  Charlie Kiule was nearby and he ordered the officer to call for the lab.  Charlie thought someone had already done that.

 

Hardly glancing at the body again, he stalked through the sand to the rear lobby of the hotel, then back out to the street.  Wong had very effectively and openly silenced his loose end.  In an overt and obvious message to anyone who might betray Wong and Kumu.  Manoa hoisted with his own petard -- an irony not lost on Steve, but he was unimpressed.  Wong would do anything to save himself.

 

It also told him Wong was probably still in the islands.  Hiding out with Alika, maybe.  Grinding his teeth, he seethed, stalking to his car at a brisk stride as the pinkish glow of dawn colored Waikiki in muted morning tones.

 

 

*****

 

 

Shaking his head, Duke watched his boss disappear from the crime scene.  He hated to call Steve out on this, but McGarrett would have had his head if he hadn’t.  Now their only positive link with Wong was dead.  And Steve taking it as badly as expected.

 

Finding he was shaking, Duke breathed out a long sigh.  Watching someone going crazy on Blue for the second time was not pleasant.  It had visibly shaken Steve to see what the nasty drug could do -- what it had done to Steve.

 

Times were tough.  This was not easy for any of them.  McGarrett would take a long time to recover from the personal attack.  Being drugged -- that would be bad enough.  Shooting Danny as a result -- that was horrible.  It was eating at Steve with a vengeance.  And what if Danny didn’t fully recover?  He didn’t even want to think about that possibility.

 

Despite Steve’s reckless actions -- like today -- saved only because he was wearing a vest and probably some left over Irish luck -- McGarrett was a survivor.  He would get through this, no matter what happened or didn’t happen with Danny.  There would, however, be terrible scars.

 

 

*****

 

It was too early to go to the hospital and too late to go home to change for a jog.  McGarrett chose to head for the Palace and start his workday early.  There were fresh overnight reports from HPD, and some left over memos and endless paperwork to be completed.  He decided to go over the files on Wong, Alika and Pahoa and everyone they suspected as being a victim of Blue.  Not confident of finding anything new or revealing, he did it anyway, determined to attack the main problem.  To fight against something he might have control over, as opposed to the many things he could not manage.

 

Alone in the office, his eyes blurred on the page of the report and he turned away, rubbing his fatigued face with his hands.  Blinking, the shadows in the corner of the room seemed to take shape . . . .

 

 

. . .  Danno . . . .

 

Laying weak and bleeding on the floor, Danno stricken – staring at him with hurt, confusion, and indefinable accusation.  Danno’s blood on his hands.  His own voice, from some distant echo, screamed, "I got you!"   As if watching another person, he felt himself lunging at Dan when already down and hurt. Duke interceding to save Williams.  And clearly, the look of horror in Danno’s face when he turned to stare at Steve right before he passed out. 

 

 

“No!” he shouted, covering his face in his hands. 

 

He had done it!  As if the guilt of the injuring/maiming of his friend were not sufficient enough to haunt him.  The flashbacks would never give him peace.  Danno forgave him, but he could not. 

 

Slamming open the lanai doors, he paced in the fresh morning air, breathing deeply; aching and angry.  As tormenting as these horrible recollections were, he hated them, but wondered, in some fragment of his Catholic upbringing, if this was his penance.  Was this his just ordeal for his actions, his Purgatory, even though he had been a victim, too?

 

It was too early in the morning for such philosophy, but the thoughts lingered in his mind for a time.  Practical instincts reasserting themselves, he then wondered how he could deal with it.  Walking back in he went to fetch some strong coffee and brought it back to the lanai where he paced.  And thought.  And pondered the future for himself and his fallen friend.

 

A noise in the outer office alerted him and he composed his nerves before opening his door.    Not necessarily wanting to talk to anyone, he was glad to see Duke.  The HPD officer reported he had just taken samples of items from Manoa’s hotel room to the lab.

 

Asking his old friend to join him in his private domain, he ushered the HPD sergeant in and closed the door behind them.  For a moment, he leaned on the door, thinking of the horrible events that had recently transpired here.  Then he moved on to a necessary and overdue recognition of gratitude.

 

“Duke, I want to thank you,” he started, his voice husky, emotions already too close to the surface.  With no easy way to get through this, he plunged ahead, taking refuge in leaning on the edge of the lanai doorway.  “Thank you for saving Danno.”  He turned back, forcing himself to face his friend.  “I remember what happened.”

 

Flinching, Lukela barely shook his head.  “Sorry to hear that, Steve.  I was hoping that was all a blur -- that you could forget.”

“Penance,” he sighed out in a long, slow exhale.  “I won’t ever forget.”

 

“I didn’t do anyth --“

 

“I was attacking him,” Steve grated, “and you saved him from --“ he shook his head and came over and patted Lukela’s shoulder.  “From me.  Mahalo.  I can’t tell you how grateful I am.”

 

Obviously uneasy with the compliments, or perhaps the reminder of that terrible night, Duke muttered a few comments of reassurance.  Anxious to leave, the HPD officer edged to the door.  Before he left, he paused to turn and soberly study the boss.

 

“Steve, I know this will take time, but I know we can all get through it okay.”  He shifted uncomfortably.  “The bad guys tried to bring us down.  But we were stronger than them.  As a team, we fought back and came out of the danger.”

 

“Not all of us,” Steve barely whispered.

 

“Danny will, too.  It’s going to take time, Steve, but he will.”

 

After his friend left, McGarrett sunk into one of the white chairs and stared out the open lanai doorway.  Wise as always, Lukela was right.  The team had banded together and saved Williams that regrettable night.  They were sticking together now, helping him -- and Danno -- to heal and make it through day after day.  For now, the stability of his Five-0 ohana was what kept him going and he was humbled and grateful to be in the midst of such incredible people.

 

 

*****

 

 

Chin started eating his lunch at Macho Burrito in Kaimuki, not bothering to wait for the others.  The old, wooden building had faded paint and old surf stickers, but was reported to be one of the only decent Mexican food joints in the Islands.  He could always order a second helping -- try the tacos next instead of the burritos if he wanted to be sociable and eat with his friends.  Mexican wasn’t something that was big in Hawaii.  From the taste of the burrito, the trend would not change anytime soon.

 

It was a good place to have a meeting, combining work and food.  Better than the office, Chin reasoned honestly.  The Palace had not been a pleasant place to be lately.  He couldn’t get the visions of the other night out of his mind.  Never in his life had he been so miserably frightened and sorrowful.  Steve mad from the drugs.  Danny shot. 

 

Since then, Steve haunted the Palace with visible heartache hardly under the surface.  Typically, after the initial, abject apology, he mentioned nothing of the turmoil he was suffering; the guilt he certainly carried, the grieving he experienced in his frequent visits to Williams.  Steve was always very private about his joys and his distress.  This was cutting them all apart, but it brought lasting and open wounds to the boss.

 

Nothing else could define the emotions except grief.  Remorse and regret could hardly convey the anguish Steve harbored over what inadvertently he had done -- what could never be forgotten.  Maybe, if Danny healed -- but that wasn’t going to happen this time.  Williams would not completely recover.

 

Ben Kokua pulled up in the dirt lot next to the little shack.  He gave a wave and went to stand in line at the outdoor order window.  Then Lukela drove up and joined Kokua to order lunch.  Moments later, they arrived at Kelly’s table.

 

“Got a lead on the take-out food from the Trader Vic’s stuff that Manoa had?” Duke asked, all business. 

 

Chin’s grave expression said it all.  “Blue in the drink.”

 

“Lab said Blue was also in the order-out stuff Manoa had from Oceana.  I didn’t even know they did take out,” Ben reported.  He hefted his taquito smothered in green.  “This guacamole stuff isn’t too bad.”

 

“Can’t beat fresh poi,” Lukela grumbled, making a sour face as he helped himself to Kelly’s snacks and dipped a tortilla chip into the green sauce.

 

Kelly reported, “I questioned the people working the counter here.  They don’t remember seeing anyone fitting Wong’s description, or Manoa’s.  Still have to check with the night shift.”

 

“There’s another Macho Burrito.  Closer to the docks, isn’t it?” Ben wondered.

 

Trash from three different food places -- Trader Vic’s, Oceana and Macho Burrito had been found in Manoa’s hotel room.  Vic’s and Oceana were both clients of Aloha Restaurant Supply company.  Macho Burrito was not, but had to be investigated.  Blue residue was found in the drink containers from Vic’s and Oceana.  As part of the necessary leg work, the three were tracking down the eateries, showing pictures of Wong and Manoa, trying to find out where Wong had friends.  Possibly where he frequented, or even where he found refuge.

 

“On Nimitz,” Duke corrected.  “I’ll check that out before I go back to the office.” 

 

“So what did the lab say?” Ben asked just as he rose from the rickety bench and went to get his order.

When he returned with Duke’s food as well, Chin responded.

 

“Che found small traces of Blue, no doubt.  My guess is that Wong or another flunky was the delivery man.  Keeping Manoa locked away to hide him from us.  Then they wanted him out of the picture when things got too hot.  My idea is they kept Manoa happy with small amounts of Blue.  Then when they wanted to get rid of him they gave him a heavy dose.”

 

Ben bit into his taco and around the mouthful offered, “A guy at the Sheraton thought there might have been someone else staying with Manoa for a day or two.  Slender Oriental.  My guess is it was Wong.”

 

Alika’s still missing,” Duke reminded.  “Probably together.  Maui and Kauai PDs are checking Pahoa’s other houses, but no sign of Wong or Alika yet.”

 

Duke swirled his taquito in guacamole sauce, taking an inordinately long time with the food.  Finally, he glanced at the others.  Anybody been by to see Danny lately?”

 

Ben shook his head.  Chin put down his unfinished burrito.  “I was there with Mai last night.  He’s doing okay.” 

 

The visit had disturbed him and he was not anxious to go back, but he would.  Nor did he want to talk about the depressing scene.  When Danny was feeling better, he would take a few of his older kids over.  They kept asking when they could go see their coach.  Chin didn’t have the heart to tell them yet that Danny would not be playing ball with them again. 

 

Every time he saw Williams, he saw the devastating affect of the shooting.  Danny wouldn’t discuss anything that happened that ghastly night.  He wouldn’t talk about McGarrett.  He would chat about the kids and the latest news and progress with Five-0 investigations.  He wouldn’t reveal his fears, or the despair that was so obvious in the usually pleasantly upbeat haole. 

 

Attaching no blame on McGarrett, only on the criminals, Chin only felt regret at the whole, nasty business.  Utter sadness that this had happened to Steve and Danny.  And a guilty relief that it had been Danny and not him who had stopped the bullet from Steve’s gun.  He couldn’t imagine being handicapped and retired from the force.  It was cruel Fate that it happened to someone like Danny -- caused by Steve.  Still, Danny was young.  He could rebuild his life.  And he had no family to support.  Steve would be there to help.  Things would be okay.

 

“Anybody tell him about Manoa yet?” Ben wondered.

 

“Steve probably did,” Kelly guessed.  “Best news for both of them would be to bring in Wong.  Anyone want to finish my chips?”

 

“The salsa’s not bad,” Ben admitted neutrally.  “But there’s no mango or pineapple or passion fruit in it.”

 

“They don’t make it that way in Mexico,” Duke figured, pouring more on his chips.

 

Kelly came to his feet, crumbling up the trash from his fast-food meal.  “I’ll check out the other Macho Burrito.”

 

“I’ll go with you,” Duke volunteered, ditching the rest of his unfinished meal.  “Maybe we can stop at the Sushi Garden on the way back to the Palace and get some real lunch.”

 

“We won’t be going back to Canton Dragon,” Kelly voiced what they were all thinking when it came to take-out food.

 

“This isn’t so bad,” Ben argued as he stuffed the rest of his taco into his mouth and gulped down his cola.  “I’ll head back to the office and let Steve know what we’ve got.”  He paused to read the menu.  “Think I should bring him back something for lunch?”

 

“Let us,” Duke wisely offered. 

 

 

*****

 

 

These were unhappy times, Dan admitted as he stared makai.  Toward the ocean he loved.  And just a few blocks away -- his real home -- the Palace.  He couldn’t see it from here, but he knew it was there.

 

In frustration, he hit the armrest of the wheelchair.  This was a tangible reminder of his future.  No more running or surfing or jogging.  This was his transport.  It was sickening.  How was he going to get through this? 

 

Sometimes it made him feel better plotting revenge on Wong and Manoa and the evil drug pushers who put him here.  Put Blue in the food.  Gave Steve delusions that culminated in the moment of a bullet slicing him up.  Vengeance was only a partial balm.

 

Recovery was tougher this time.  He had been wounded in the stomach years before -- shot, the bullet lodging in a rib.  That recuperation had been slow, he had been weak from extreme blood loss, but it seemed easier then.  He was younger, of course, and he still had complete use of his limbs.  The psychological angle had a lot to do with this mood, of course, and this time it was tough.

 

Forcing himself to be philosophical, practical – he reminded this was an accident.  Not Steve’s fault.  And he didn’t blame his friend.  Steve was a victim here, too.  This was a lousy twist of Fate, no doubt.  He felt cheated and bitter and angry.  But not at Steve.  This was not Steve’s fault.  Why didn’t that knowledge help?   Nor did it help to remind himself that he had a great life up to this point.  Living in paradise, loving everything here -- the people and ohana and places . . . .

 

Blue Hawaii.  Not just a musical anymore.  Blue – the ocean, the sky.  The drug.  Depression.

 

Yeah, life was pretty blue -- depressing -- now.  He told himself he couldn’t think that way, but he couldn’t help it.  Wallowing in self-pity was not his style, but in the past he had bouts of deep self-doubt and insecurity.  Strange weaknesses for someone who was constantly in Steve’s shadow.  He’d never met anyone as forcefully confident and self-assured as McGarrett.  That was one reason it was so easy to feel at first intimidation, then veneration and devotion to Steve.  He was everything Dan admired -- supremely in control and in command and respected.  Not that his friend was perfect, but Steve was good.  That was the simplest description.  Morale, just, tenacious, loyal . . . .

 

This horrible event would not sway him from his devotion.  It would change his life, though, and he was not ready to let go of that life, yet.  He was not ready to let go of Five-0 or McGarrett.  But it had to happen. 

 

Steve was so dutiful to him now, but soon he would have to return to running Five-0 full time.  He’d need to promote Chin or Ben to second-in-command.  The realization brought tears to his eyes knowing what he loved most was about to be passed on to another.  A friend, yes, but it still hurt intensely.

 

Now, everybody was coming by, a lot of friends -- everyone from the office.  Chin and Mai even snuck in last night with homemade manapua bread.   Jenny dropped by every day after work.  Ben and his wife came.  They all forced themselves to be cheery.  They joked and brought goofy cards and good food. 

 

They talked about him getting strong enough to leave the hospital, but not about his future. No one talked about him going home.  They didn’t want to face it any more than he did.  

 

How would he manage in a wheelchair in his apartment?  What was he going to do with his car?  He loved his car! It would kill him to never drive it again . . . .  What kind of a life was he going to have as a half-person?  So much of what he was, who he was, depended on his agility and physical skill.  Diminishing that meant erasing some of himself.  And, things were getting worse, although he would never mention it to Steve.  He couldn’t handle things now.  The future -- it was too frightening to contemplate.

 

There were many valiant, brave people who managed to turn around their disabilities and live full lives.  He didn’t think he could be one of them – no -- he didn’t want to be one of them.  Then he better come up with an alternative.

 

The detectives might not want to discuss the Wong case, or Blue, or Kumu much.  They would rather change the subject.  They were avoiding the cause of him being here as much as the results.

 

Except McGarrett.  Steve, of course, talked of nothing else.  He did not want to discuss the future, either.  There would, however, be a future.  It would not include him.  Five-0 and his colleagues would move on without him and he would be left behind.  Work would, as it always did, consume them.  There would be no time left for a cripple.

 

He wanted to scream with frustrated rage!  He couldn’t weep until there was no more regret and pain left.  Crying would only make him feel more self-pity.  That wouldn’t help. 

 

Besides, he had to be strong – for Steve now – because anything less would crush McGarrett.  Failure or surrender would damage Steve and he couldn’t let that happen.  Now, he would fight because Steve needed it.  Someday, maybe he could do it for himself.  Right now, he didn’t have the strength.

 

 

*****

 

 

“Hey.”

 

It took only an instant for him to shove away the self-pity.  By the time Dan turned to look at McGarrett, he hoped he appeared normal. 

 

“Hey, Steve.”

 

“Enjoying the sunshine?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

McGarrett moved over to sit on a chair.  “How are you doing?”

 

“Okay,” he shrugged, forcing his voice to be upbeat.

 

 

*****

 

 

McGarrett liked the small lanai at the end of the building.  It was a garden-type setting for patients and visitors.  He had never been out here before.  Usually when the Five-0 personnel were in the hospital, they left as quickly as possible.  The stay would not be very short this time.  With effort, Steve ignored the depressing glumness settling over his friend. 

 

“It’s a nice day.  Why don’t we go for a walk?”  Without waiting for a response, he started pushing Williams’ wheelchair through the gardens.

 

He started with small talk first.  Danno was in a surly mood and Steve could not blame him.  Without much trouble, McGarrett could shift to anger or melancholy himself, so he forced himself now to be cheerful and positive.  Comments on the weather in Hawaii were ridiculous -- there was perfect sunshine or perfect sprinkles and rainbows; perfect surf or low-surf. 

 

"I read Manicote's interview in the paper this morning."

 

McGarrett growled under his breath.  He didn't want Danno worrying about these complications to the shooting.

 

"John shouldn't have ordered an IA investigation."

 

The blind loyalty was expected.  It was one of Danno's sterling traits. In this circumstance it was touching and painful.  Grateful he had been absolved of guilt by the HPD Internal; Affairs investigation of the shooting incident, McGarrett almost wished there had been some punishment.  How could he escape retribution after what he did to his friend?  How could it not be his fault?  How could Danno not blame him.  But he didn't -- never would. Just as Steve could never forgive himself.

 

Instead, of belaboring the subject, he filled Dan in on the slow progress of the investigation, another sore point in their complicated lives. 

 

“We found Manoa.”

 

Dan turned his head to glance back.  “Dead?”

 

“Yeah.”  He studied his friend carefully.  It was difficult to see the still healing lacerations on the face without renewed guilt.  At least the stitches were removed and the doctor thought there should be no scaring.  A minor consideration, but even the smallest victory now was an asset.  “We all expected that I guess,” he finished with a sigh.  “No loose ends for Wong.”

 

Leaning his chin against his right hand, Dan returned to a sullen tone.  “No absolution there.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“I was hoping -- maybe he would let everyone know what happened.  I don’t know why I thought that.  There’s no getting around they found our weakness through me --“

 

McGarrett stopped and knelt in front of his friend.  “Danno, this was not your fault!  How could you possibly know a snitch would try to kill us by drugging our food?  You couldn’t!  No way!  I don’t want you berating yourself over this!”

 

“It is my fault!,” he shook his head forlornly.  He absently rubbed at the skin under his cast. 

 

Maybe it was the tone.  Perhaps it was the rejection that his friend flung back with such morose self-pity.  Or maybe it was anger that Danno was not responding to his insistence and faith.  It was usually good enough – not now.  And the inadequacy of mending this untenable situation irritated him beyond reason.

 

“It’s not your fault!” he snapped back.

 

Startled, Williams’ expression slowly darkened.  “Who gave Manoa and Wong an opening for their drug?  Me.”

 

If anyone in all of this was the innocent victim it was his friend.  He had no patience for guilt from him.  There was room for only one of them to shoulder the blame here and that was McGarrett’s province.

 

“Who took the drug?  Who pulled the trigger –  He sucked in a sharp breath, wishing he could inhale back the bitter words, but he could not.

 

The impossible contention would not be ignored.  Steve could not accept and deal with the truth that he shot Danno.  Hoping and fighting to believe his friend would walk again at least diminished the sharpest edge of culpability and kept him functioning on a near-normal level.  Then they could imagine a happy ending here and pretend everything could get back to an ordinary life.  It gave them all hope they -- he  -- could heal.

 

Williams not walking meant no healing for either of them -- that what he did permanently changed everything.  No redemption.  But that was not good enough, Steve realized now.  He simply could not forgive himself for shooting his friend.  He had pulled the trigger.  He had screamed and even tried to attack his friend while down and bleeding!  He had relived it in nightmares and in the visions that, thankfully, were nearly now evaporated.  His conscious guilt, though, was with him always.  Like a shadow that persisted in light or dark.   He kept hoping that Danno walking again; that catching Wong, would transform the despair and absolve his remorse.  He doubted now that it would.

 

Stalking away, he returned after a few moments, to find Danno had not moved.  His expression was tough and controlled, letting nothing escape for once.  In a way, the impenetrable mask was easier to deal with than the open hurt he imagined.

 

“Sorry,” he quietly apologized, crouching down next to his friend.

 

Guarded, Williams nodded reluctant acceptance.  It’s okay, Steve.  This isn’t easy for either of us.”

 

Exhaling deeply, he shook his head.  “No,” was his rueful agreement.  “It’s tough, my friend, and it’s not getting much easier, is it?”

 

“No.”

 

“I’ve been thinking about when you’re out of here,” McGarrett began, deeming it time to get the officer’s mind – both their minds -- on something else besides misplaced guilt.  He had become an expert on blame and remorse the last few days.  He would not allow Danno to remain stuck there after everything else he was burdened with.  “I want you back on the team, Danno.”

 

“Like this?” he scoffed.

 

“It doesn’t matter -- “

 

“There are no disabled people on the police --“

 

“You are not disabled!  You’ve still got your mind!  You still think like a cop --“

 

“And I can be useful to you how?” he flung back harshly.  “Never going out on an investigation?  Never going to the office?  No elevators at the Palace --”

 

“I’ll make it work.”

 

“I don’t see how.”

 

“I will.”

 

 

*****

 

It was an absolute.  A low, terse vow.  Dan dared not argue when Steve used that tone, when his thunderous expression promised grief for anyone who opposed him.

 

Williams so much wanted to believe Steve could, as always, move mountains; accomplish the impossible, do anything.  He wanted to trust this amazing man who fought with such conviction.  Lean on his strength, as he so often did, when things were bleak.  Right now, he had to go on Steve’s faith that everything would work out.  He didn’t really believe it himself, but to keep sane -- to keep Steve going and not hurt his friend more than the damage already done -- he would dare to hope.

 

Able to step aside from his own self-absorbed misery, Dan saw things momentarily, through his friend’s suffering eyes.  This was devastating to Steve -- the uncontrolled actions and consequences a terrible blow.  Dan’s morose, glum attitude only made things worse.  Even if he could walk, Steve would still carry around that awful remorse of the shooting.  He already assured Steve -- many times -- he did not blame him.  It didn’t penetrate.  What else could he do?  Except take this next step forward into a very scary future.

 

It was deceiving to let Steve think there could be much of a future.  It was easier, though, to let the illusion go on rather than argue with his stubborn friend.  Or worse, tell Steve the truth.

 

So, he would let go of the guilt he felt over Manoa.  At least he would not mention it again to his friend.  And he would lean on Steve like never before – literally it would seem -- as well as the huge emotional dependence he felt for McGarrett’s strength. 

 

“You know, I’ve started therapy,” he informed casually.

 

“No, I -- how is it going?”

 

Forcing himself to be positive and assertive -- showing optimism when he felt none -- Dan responded, “It’s pretty easy.  I’m regaining my strength every day.  And I was in pretty good shape to begin with.  The doctors think this will go smoothly.”

 

The news brightened Steve’s dark expression slightly.  A small victory. 

 

“Things are going to work out okay, Steve.”  He hoped the attempt at lightening the mood was not too obvious.  And he wanted Steve to see the broad meanings behind the simple, but all-encompassing phrase.  “I know they will.”

 

“Yeah, Danno,” he agreed, doubt almost clearing from his shaded eyes.  “They will.”

 

Dan nodded, praying Steve could manage the unattainable – seeing beyond this tragedy.  He didn’t know how that was possible as long as he couldn’t walk -- or worse. 

 

Maybe he should push Steve way – he’d never seen his friend so emotionally damaged.  This was killing Steve by inches.  The thought, though, of driving McGarrett away was intolerable.  He didn’t think he could survive in a world closed off from his closest friend.  Especially not when now, more than ever, he needed the moral intensity and support of the strongest person he knew.

 

If he couldn’t return to full activity, however, then they would have to accept that failure and move to the next phase of life.  Whatever that meant.  Could he do that?  Could he face Steve knowing that he was a constant source of pain for his friend? He didn’t know if he had that kind of strength.  Steve had always been the example to follow, and he wasn’t sure how good he could be at emulating that power now.  But he would try.  For Steve.

 

He offered a brave smile and it was returned with something close to a genuine grin – of relief? -- by Steve.  That was all the reason he needed to keep fighting.

 

 

*****

 

“Mr. McGarrett!”

 

Halting his barreling march through the hospital, Steve reluctantly stopped for Dr Reginald, Danno’s physician.  The man was not only the habitual bearer of bad tidings, he was perpetually negative in the medica- speak he offered about Dan.  McGarrett instinctively braced for more bad news.

 

“Yes, doctor?”

 

“When Mr. Williams is transferred to a rehabilitation facility you will be notified, I promise.  Dr. Bergman reinforced the need to keep you informed.  Of course, that won’t be until he is stable enough to be moved.”

 

Already prepared for depressing news, Steve took a few seconds to assess the various points of interest in the statement.

 

“Isn’t it too soon to think about that?” was his first defensive volley. 

 

Rehabilitation.  He had gone through that when he was temporarily blinded.  It had been conducted in the hospital.  A separate place sounded long-term and too much like giving up.

 

“Don’t you think we should wait to see about his progress?  I know you don’t share my optimism, doctor, but he might beat this, yet.”

 

The physician shook his grey-haired head.  “This isn’t a ball game, Mr. McGarrett.  This is a spinal injury.  There is virtually no chance of him walking again.  Especially with the new developments.”

 

“What developments?” Steve growled.

 

An eyebrow raised over the bespeckled eyes.  “I see.  I suppose Mr. Williams was reluctant to share the information.  He is not very accepting of the reality of this situation.  A psychiatrist has been by, but he’s not very receptive with that, either, and these things take time.”

 

Not receptive to psychiatry?  That was no surprise.  Danno, a smart amateur psychologist and criminal profiler, would hate to have the inspection turned on him.  No cop liked his mind taken apart and analyzed.  It was something Steve avoided like a hot lava flow and knew most of his men adopted that credo.

 

“Accepting?  You expect a talented cop to just accept that he’s paralyzed and can never have his life back?” Steve raged.  “He can handle this, doctor!  It just takes time!  And it’s wrong to give up on him!  What kind of damage do you think that’s doing to his morale?”

 

Clearly irritated, the physician retorted, “I was speaking of his physical developments, Mr. McGarrett.  Much more serious than the psychological ones to be sure!”

 

This sobered Steve immediately.  “What are you talking about?  I just left him!  He was fine!”

 

A little superior, the man countered, “The bullet is showing signs of movement.  It is possible it is shifting.”

 

He almost laughed, ecstatic his theories and hopefulness was proving right.  Why wasn’t the doctor as excited?  Why didn’t Danno say something?

 

Reginald cleared his throat.  “You are under a grave misapprehension, Mr. McGarrett, I see from your smile.  The bullet shifted earlier this morning and he temporarily lost the feeling in his arms.  If the bullet is cutting the spinal cord, he could be completely paralyzed.”

 

Feeling cold and distantly removed from anything but heartache, he was unable to speak.  Why hadn’t Danno said anything?  Obviously, he couldn’t.  Didn’t know how to break the news to the friend who had shot him.

 

“Can’t you operate?” Steve dryly inquired.

 

“We could, but not now.  His chances of survival are very low due to his weakened condition.  If we proceed, he would most likely die.  If we wait, then the spinal damage will probably be irreparable.  As his physician, I am committed to preserving his life, not necessarily the quality of life.”  His clinical manner softened.  “I see he didn’t discuss it with you.  That would be difficult, I suppose under the circumstances.  I am sorry.”

 

At McGarrett’s stunned silence, he continued.  He explained Williams needed to accept this as his life now.  He would be paralyzed partially or fully for the rest of his life.  Instantly, Steve bristled.  Coldly, he countered that neither he, nor Dan, had to accept anything yet!

 

“Part of my job is to be realistic, Mr. McGarrett.  I would think the same of your profession as well,” he finished disdainfully.

 

“Just – just keep me informed,” McGarrett ordered, woodenly making his way out of the hospital.

 

In the car, he leaned his head on the steering wheel and fought against the tears that ached to spill out in tangible grief.  Just when he thought there was some light beyond the dark -- when things could not get worse . . . .

 

Part of him wanted to go back up there and talk to Danno, find out what happened and just -- just talk and be there.  He couldn’t face his friend now, though.  What could he say?  Now, the sullen moodiness from Williams this morning made too much sense. 

 

Well, there was nothing he could do about the terrible reality of the situation.  Unable to correct the past, he could only help mold the future into something tolerable for Danno and him.  Hope for a decent future was the only thing mitigating the pain right now.  More than anything, he had to believe in a positive way out of this.  As he revved the engine and slammed the car into gear, he knew the empty clichés were meaningless in a situation where there was nothing but pain.

 

 

*****

 

 

When Steve awoke, it took a moment for his head to clear.  The dream had been vivid and frightening:

 

The shadows in the office had a ghostly appearance of Wong, but they were only shadows.  In his drugged confusion, he drew his gun and fired at the indistinct wraiths.  Danno tried to take away the gun, but soothing words and reason were lost by the overpowering buzz of paranoia. 

 

Fighting.

 

Smashing and hitting Wong.  Crashing his head into the glass, throwing him against the walls -- anything to get Wong away!  He had to get possession of the gun and kill Wong!  SNAP!  Breaking the hand he could still not get the gun away.

 

The gun -- he kept firing, trying to excise the demons. 

 

Coloring --  tinted red.  Dan on the floor. Red on his face and body. 

 

Warm red ooze on Steve’s hands.

 

The wrestling; the shooting . . . .

 

Danno lying on the floor -- no Wong -- Danno --  the others fighting, the cries echoing from his throat.  The blood flowing around his prone friend and the accusing blue eyes became lasers of pain and accusation . . .  No, not accusing, sympathetic.  Danno was saying something -- to help -- help him . . . .

 

 

It was not a nightmare of the shooting, it was a memory, he realized, sitting up in the dark, catching his breath.  In every horrific detail, every moment was clear to him.  Just as it had happened.  This time, though, he recognized each step for what it was – an inevitable tumble toward disaster.

 

Shaking, unable to close his eyes again, he got up, wrapped himself in a plush robe and walked out to the living room.  He sat on the lanai facing Diamond Head, watching the planes in the sky; studying the blinking traffic lights of Waikiki.

 

Four AM.  He wouldn’t try to go back to sleep.   Instead, he dressed in his jogging clothes and ran.  Virtually alone in Waikiki in the nether-time between the tourist dawn-brigades and the hookers who by now had paying clients or were going home.  Too late for the hotel workers to leave, too early for the morning shifts or the maintenance crews to empty trash bins or sweep streets.  He jogged through the near-deserted streets, pursued, in his mind, by the demons clinging to his conscience. 

 

There was no way to escape the past.  Where could he go in the future?  What future?  It would be without Williams in Five-0.  As much as he was unable to accept that, there was no way around it.  There was not exactly any room in the annual budget to renovate the Palace with an elevator!  Not even HPD employed disabled officers for any capacity.  There was no room in Five-0 for anyone but the best -- optimum performance -- mental, physical . . . .  

 

Maybe he could invent something, but everyone, particularly Dan, would see right through the ploy.  Maybe he would take it anyway.  Just to still be part of the group?  Somehow, he didn’t think so.  Danno would probably be insulted and hurt -- the transparent attempt to redress the wrong might do more affront than good.  In the end, there was no easy way out.  He shot his friend and permanently damaged Danno’s life and their relationship. 

 

If Danno had any life left.  The bad news from the doctor still chilled him.  He could not face Danno again until he reconciled that somehow.  No, he had vowed to not shut out his friend.  That he would be there no matter what.  Through the very worst even.  At the time he made those promises to Bergman he had no idea how bad this would get, but he would keep his word.  To the doctor, to himself, to Danno.

 

Exhausted, he returned to his apartment, cleaned up and was on the road before Five AM.   His status in Five-0 gave him privileges and he met no resistance getting into Dan’s room.  Of course, Williams was dozing at this hour.  McGarrett stayed anyway, watching his friend, pleased it could be an observation in covert silence.  He found it hard facing Danno after that horrible flashback.  After the doctor’s news.  He couldn’t stand to be anywhere else right now.  Until he could resolve this, here his thoughts and heart remained. 

 

So at Five AM when the rest of Hawaii was barely awake, he sat in a dark hospital room, watching over his selfless, recovering friend.  There was so much he felt compelled to say, but Danno did not want to hear the apologies.  He should, instead, tell Danno how incredible he was. 

 

‘. . . help . . . help him . . . .’

 

Bits of filtering memory drifted back into Steve’s mind.  He could remember the fight and the agonizing moment when Williams worried more about Steve than himself.  But they were recollections that he would not utter this morning.  Until he could sort it all out in his mind, he would remain silent in the shadows and watch -- plotting against Kumu and for Williams. 

 

 

*****

 

 

Entering his office every morning became less a dreaded necessity and more like a normal routine.  He still stared hard at the shadows, both daring them and dreading them to form into wraiths of Danno or Wong.  They remained only shadows. 

 

As he stood there studying the familiar turf he almost wished the staff had not repaired the damaged office.  This was too neat and clean.  He should have suffered through the aftermath of the physical results of his violence. He did, he reminded himself, thinking of Danno.

 

Moving to the desk, he paused in irritation to remove a potted plant Jenny had placed on the side table.  She persisted in decorating here and he insisted it remain blank.  No longer a home for the model ship, it was now a vacant reminder of what had been there and what he had done.  A broken trust in the literal destruction and breaking of his friend. 

 

The phone rang and Steve snatching it up.  Duke reported he had a lead on Wong.  McGarrett made a call to Chin and Ben.  They rendezvoused at the Hawaii Kai Marina.  The boat they were searching for, the Moana Mele, was not docked.  Questioning the few fishermen and boaters up at that hour, they learned nothing.  No one remembered the boat leaving this morning. 

 

McGarrett called for an HPD boat and a Coast Guard search.  Both would take time.

 

 

*****

 

When Dan woke up he knew instantly his situation had declined from desperate to disaster.  There was no feeling in his right arm.  Panicked, he clumsily grabbed the nurse’s button with his cast left hand and fumbled until he could press it.  A few moments later, a nurse arrived and reported he had lost feeling in his entire right side!

 

By the time the doctor finished the preliminary exam, Dan already knew the results.  After new xrays, the physician confirmed the bad news.  With him was a surgeon who explained the grave situation.

 

“The bullet has shifted, Mr. Williams.  It moved up the spinal nerve.  Almost completely blocking your movement.”

 

“You have to operate –“

 

“I recommend against –“

 

“I demand that you operate!” he insisted hotly.  “That’s my right!  It’s your job to do everything you can to heal me and that’s what I want you to do!”  A little breathless, he relaxed a bit, still adamantly desiring for the man to agree.  This was his last hope and he had to take it; all or nothing.  “You have to do what you can.”

 

“An operation might be able to save partial mobility.”

 

Unreasonable hope flared.  “So if you remove the bullet I might be able to walk again?”

 

“We don’t know the extent of the damage.  It’s possible permanent damage has already been done and the best we can do is prevention of more harm.” 

 

He didn’t hesitate.  “Okay, do it.”

 

The surgeon was hesitant.  “In your weakened condition, this is not just serious surgery.  This is possibly life threatening.  I can’t emphasis --”

 

“I understand.”

 

“Then we’ll get you prepped.”

 

“Doctor,” he hesitated.  He didn’t want to be overly dramatic, but it didn’t seem right to let it end like this if he died in surgery.  “If I don’t pull though I want you to tell Steve McGarrett that this was my choice.  I wanted this.  Make sure he understands that.”

 

The doctor nodded.  “Anything else?”

 

Momentarily, Dan wanted to call one of the guys to be prepared to give him an easy out if the operation didn’t work.  Who?  All the guys in Five-0 were too moral.  Duke maybe, and play on his devotion to Steve?  Play on the guilt he felt over that horrific night at the office?  No, he couldn’t do that.  And even if things didn’t work out, he didn’t think he could opt for requested mercy killing --  what would be murder -- since one of his friends would have to pull the trigger.  The irony of his thoughts were hideously ridiculous.  He couldn’t do that to his colleagues.  Or to Steve.  That final option would devastate his friend and give him more guilt than he already had.  He would tough this out.  It’s what Steve would expect of him, no matter what the conclusion.

 

“Tell him I don’t blame him.”

 

“All right.”

 

There was no choice but to go forward with the hazardous operation and deal with the consequences -- whatever they might be -- next.  Things were only getting worse and he would rather take the risk and die than sit around as a paraplegic the rest of his life -- knowing he could have done something and did not.  Lack of courage never got him anywhere.  Five-0 -- Steve -- had taught him you never got anything without working for it.  Hard work.

 

Not particularly fond of gambling, he had learned under the tutelage of McGarrett that sometimes you had to take long-shots to come out where you wanted to be on a case.  It would be a long shot if he walked again.  It might even be against the odds that he lived.  Right now, any hazard seemed worth the risk if he could retain any more mobility.  That he might even walk again and have his life back was a hope he would cling to as he drifted to unconsciousness.

 

 

*****

 

Hardly at his desk long enough to glance at the paperwork, Kokua’s phone rang.  He answered it, still sorting through files.

 

Kokua.”

 

“Ben, hey, this is Jojo.”

 

“Yeah, Jojo, what’s up?”  An informant that worked the docks in odd jobs.  Always looking for some cash.  Most of the time the little hood managed some decent information.  “Need beer money?”

 

“Yeah.  Hey, I know you guys are looking for a bad dude.  Poisoned McGarrett.  You’ll pay me good if I finger –“

 

“Where, Jojo?” he demanded, leaping to his feet.  “Where are you?”

 

“Cleaning fish at the Oceana.  Guy looking like your man is hiding in the back storeroom.  Taking a boat out to Hong Kong tonight.”

 

“Don’t say anything to anyone, Jojo.  I’ll be right there.  And you’ll get a bonus for this one, bruddah.”

 

Practically shouting for joy, Ben raced straight into McGarrett’s office without knocking.  “Steve, I’ve got a lead on Wong.  Oceana Restaurant.”

 

McGarrett was already on his feet and running.  “Let’s go.”

 

 

*****

 

Instead of blazing up with sirens blaring and lights flashing, McGarrett had the HPD squad cars stopped at the Aloha Tower parking lot by the big boat dock.  The PD officers – in riot gear and carrying automatic rifles – jogged across the bridge to the pier of the huge, floating Oriental restaurant-tourist fixture known as the Oceana.  McGarrett and his men parked their vehicles at the nearby Falls of Clyde lot and ran across to the eatery barge fashioned with elegant red dragons.

 

They burst in the front entrance and the back simultaneously.  Waiters and stock loaders jumped out of the way, easily giving way to the overt, armed assault.  A man in a suit who looked like a manager was the first one under Steve’s sights.  Revolver pointed steadily at the man, he grabbed the hapless young Asian by the collar.

 

“Where’s Wong?  If you warn him in any way I’ll blow you away.”

 

The shaking kid pointed toward the back of the restaurant.

 

Jogging back, wary, ready for a fight, McGarrett had not realized, until he spoke to the young man, that he was over the edge.  Allowing desolation and emotion to distort his objectivity – there had been no reason or logic or method in his life since he shot Danno.  Only frantic, even reckless desperation to find the man responsible for giving him Blue.  As if that would assuage his guilt.  It wouldn’t, but maybe he could look at Danno again without hating himself if he had the thug in jail.  Then, in a flash of vengeance, he did not suppress the oft-thought desire that Wong would fight back and Steve would happily kill him.

 

Bullets split the wood by his face and he ducked into the nearest door.

 

“Wong!  Give your self up!  Now!”

 

Two more shots responded.

 

“You’re surrounded.”

 

Another shot.

 

“This is a boat, Wong!  No where to go!”

 

“You think I am crazy enough to give myself up to you, McGarrett?”

 

The fear was so evident it made him smile maliciously.  Not ever a cruel person, he found wicked satisfaction in Wong’s suffering.  The criminal had no idea how he had ruined McGarrett’s life from that one, evil act of drugging him – forcing him to lose control.  Driving him to an unspeakable deed. 

 

“You give yourself up now, Wong!  Now!”

 

A sixth shot rang through the restaurant.  McGarrett dashed forward, hardly considering Wong might have a second weapon, or an automatic with more that six shots.  He burst into a small supply room, knocking a figure away from the door.

 

Wong sprawled over boxes and tumbled to the floor, his pistol flying out of reach.  Then he struggled to sit up, cowering before McGarrett.

 

Volcanic hate raged in Steve like never before.  It was nearly as powerful in its blinding disorientation as a drug.  It washed away reason and control just like Blue.  He grabbed Wong and flung him against a wall with bone-crunching force.   Violence and raw emotion surfacing without the aid of any hallucinogen.  All he needed was hate and love in nearly equal levels to feel the burning rage that swept him toward justified – in his mind -- homicide.

 

“Why did you do it?  How could you?”

 

His grip on the smaller man’s collar tightened until Wong was choking, coughing for air.  Aware he was crushing the life out of this monster did not give him pause.  He couldn’t stop -- wouldn’t -- didn’t want to halt.  Tam Wong deserved this . . . . 

 

Before he completely strangled the man, rough hands grabbed him and compelled him to release his captive.  Breathing hard, he backed away, stumbling out to lean heavily on the railing, gulping in the fresh sea air.  

 

He really lost it there, he knew, his conscience aching with regret.  Like he was on Blue again, only this time by his choosing, not by the false influence of a hallucinogen.  He wanted to kill Wong with his bare hands.  Hatred – a potent emotion as powerful as a narcotic – had overpowered him.  Wong had to pay for what he did to Danno – what he made Steve do -- to his friend.  Fury and loathing pushed past years of training and self-management.  Peeling away his moral integrity, he had only the raw hatred beneath the civilized veneer. 

 

Would he have killed Wong in cold blood?  He didn’t care about the answer now.  Maybe, in some future time when all of this was only a painful memory he could look back on it with objectivity.  Now, his heartache was still too close to the surface.  Too vulnerable to thank his men from saving him from another terrible, regrettable mistake, he numbly walked back toward his car.

 

At last, he could go to Danno with something tangibly accomplished.  The bad still outweighed the good in this situation, but Manoa was dead, Wong was arrested and justice would prevail.  It could never even out the tragedy, but Steve had done everything possible to redress the wrongs.  It was a start.

 

 

*****

 

 

Duke jogged over to meet him in the parking lot.  “Got a call from Jenny,” he reported, hating to be the one to deliver the bad news. 

 

Ragged and pale from the frantic attempt to kill Wong, Steve looked ill.  How was Duke going to break this next painful level in McGarrett’s life?   Jenny had been so upset -- the hospital made it sound bad.  He was afraid to think what it meant, and didn’t want to know, really.  No details.  That meant, ungraciously, he would not be the one to make this even harder for Steve.  With that, he felt a lance of guilt.  Danny was the one suffering here -- probably dying -- and he was more concerned about Steve.   Because Steve would be the one meant to survive this mess and the rest of them would have to help him.  Usually optimistic, he felt, right now, things in paradise were pretty rotten.

 

“Hospital called.  Danny’s been taken in for emergency surgery.  They said you better get over there.”

 

“What is it?”

 

“No details.”

 

 

*****

 

Emotionally drained, Steve felt like everything inside just hit rock bottom.  All the tumultuous feelings blazing through him left his heart and mind weak and fatigued.  He didn’t have the strength for another crisis, and thinking back to the doctor’s warning, he was afraid of what this call might mean.

 

McGarrett threw a hateful glare at Wong as the criminal was being placed in an HPD sedan that had pulled up to the restaurant.  If something happened to Danno – he might come back and finish off the monster.  There was no time to waste on him now, though, and McGarrett jogged to his car, then raced to the hospital.

 

The OR nurse was succinctly to the point about the operational procedure.  The physician working Danno’s case was also there and explained the high risk and the low expectations.  Steve’s initial trepidation escalated to near panic when he understood the moment of dread was upon them.  Despite the dangerous procedure, Danno might be paralyzed completely, or even die.

 

 

*****

 

 

Waiting in a hospital had to be the worst.  When it was this serious, Steve could hardly stand it.  Pacing did not help.  Sitting did not help.  He had no interest in checking in at the office.   No appetite to rely on the habitual crutch of coffee.  When the surgeon dressed in hospital greens came toward him wearing a fatigued and serious expression, his heart pounded faster.

 

“Doctor, how is he?”

 

“Touch and go, Mr. McGarrett.  I think he’ll pull through, but don’t get your hopes up.  We lost him in the OR.”

 

Steve gulped.  They lost him.  He died and they revived him.

 

“The good news,” the doctor continued, “is that there was no severing of the spinal cord.  Paralysis was caused by the pressure against the spine.  We removed the bullet and it’s possible he will recover full mobility.  Possible.  Again, don’t get your hopes up.” He seemed to consider something, then spoke gravely.  “If he doesn’t make it, he wanted me to tell you this was his choice.  He was very forceful about having the operation.  And he wanted me to let you know he didn’t blame you.”

 

McGarrett closed his eyes and leaned against the wall, hardly able to stand the forgiveness in the last message.  Knowing Danno was still so concerned about him -- it hurt almost as much as knowing he had done this.  It left him cold to think this might be the end and he would never speak to his friend again.  That the devastating accidental shooting at his hand would prove the end of the life closest to him.

 

 

*****

 

 

Pacing didn’t help.  Concern over the precarious health of his friend, over the seriousness of the operation, kept him keyed up.  Checking on Williams over the course of the afternoon, then night, worry stepped up to anxiety.  He finally settled into the ICU room, ignoring all efforts to oust him from his friend’s side.

 

Danno would live.  The doctors were at least confident about that.  Then why was he still unconscious?  The ordeal had taken a lot out of the already weak officer.  Why didn’t he wake up?  And always in the back of Steve’s mind – the biggest dread now that the question of life and death was past.  Would Danno walk again?   

 

If he didn’t?   Steve would be desolate.  But at least Danno would be alive.

 

When the phone rang, Steve knew it was his office.  It was past sixPM.  Five-0 still had business, even if the chief and the second-in-command were not at the Palace.  He answered it, not surprised it was Jenny.  She had a question about some orders he had left early that morning when he did a fast fly-by at his office before returning here to the hospital.

 

“Any change yet?” she finally asked at the end.

 

“Not yet,” he sighed.  Promising to be in later to clear up the paperwork, he told her to go home, then he hung up.  Turning, he gasped when he saw that Dan was looking at him.

 

“Danno,” he breathed. 

 

Williams smiled, and it was like pushing away clouds from the sky and allowing the bright Hawaiian sun to beam on him.  “Hi, Steve.”

 

“How are you?”

 

Pondering a moment, he responded slowly.  “Tired.  Sore.”  He shrugged and grinned.  “I made it.”

 

“Yeah.  You did.” 

 

Steve didn’t want to ask the natural conclusion to that statement.  Dan had gone under the knife thinking he may never wake up?  Chilled, McGarrett moved closer, trying to ease the concern away and concentrate on the fact that his friend was alive and looked like he would be all right.

 

“Hey!  I can move!”  He flexed his shoulders.  “What did the doc say?”

 

“Everything went very well.  The got the bullet out.  The good news, no severing or damage to the spinal cord.  The paralysis was caused by pressure.”

 

“Really?”  Dan tested his right hand and it flexed into a fist.  Laughing with relief, he was a bit awed.  He moved his left, cast-covered arm and wriggled his fingers.  “I might be able to feel – to walk again?”

 

“Maybe.”  Within himself he noted a reticence.  A reluctance to completely give in to a miracle.  What if it didn’t work and the damage was already done?  “That doesn’t mean you can jump out of here right away and hit the waves at Waimea.”

 

His expressive face fell.  “You mean maybe it didn’t work.”  Staring at his blanketed feet, he focused with intent concentration.  “I won’t know unless I try.”

 

McGarrett thought his heart stopped when he saw the covered-up toes move.  Williams yelped in joy and continued to wriggle his toes, then his feet.  Relieved beyond words, he patted Dan’s shoulder as the younger man threw off the blankets and, with effort, gradually moved his legs.

 

 

*****

 

 

 

“A perfect day for a walk.”

 

Looking up, Dan smiled at his friend approaching on the apartment building walkway.  “Just heading down to the beach.  Want to join me?”

 

“Sure.”

 

Progress along the walkway outside his apartment was slow.  Refraining from holding onto the railing, Dan purposely stepped along toward the elevator.  He hoped the effort it took wasn’t noticeable to Steve, but he was anxious to get through this tedious recovery and back to work.  This walking without a cane had to look easy.

 

“Feeling pretty good, huh?” McGarrett beamed, excited about the progress. 

 

“Yeah.”

 

“You don’t think you’re overdoing it?”

 

“I’m fine,” he insisted.  There was a shade of doubt in the stern blue eyes scrutinizing him.  “Really.  I drove around the block this morning --”

 

“You what?”

 

“The LTD.  Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m ready for the stick shift on the Mustang till maybe next week.”

 

“Danno, don’t push it.”

 

“This from the guy who releases himself from the hospital all the time?”

 

“This is not about me.”

 

The elevator stopped and they leisurely made their way to the back of the condo.  Dan walked down to the water and waded in the surf.  Steve leaned on a palm tree and watched in pleased silence.  This was such a simple victory, but both reveled in the joy of the triumph.  In the dark days right after the shooting, Dan didn’t believe he could ever feel the sand and surf on his feet again.  Now he was practically giddy every day with the pure bliss of life.  Squishing the warm sand between his toes, walking through the temperate surf until the waves splashed at his ankles.

 

When he turned, he was surprised to see McGarrett was joining him – just out of reach of the water, but walking along the surf-line.

 

“Careful, Steve, you’ll get wet.  Ocean water is worse than sand in the dress shoes.”

 

The taller man’s smile was easy.  “I can live with it.”

 

Dan stopped and stared for a moment at the stretch of beach lined with apartments.  Far down the surf nestled Waikiki and the boxy shapes of hotels.  The sun was setting and the yellow orb laced by dusky clouds cast a shimmering sheet of gold on the tropical Pacific.

 

“Off work before dark.  Why don’t we ever get to do that when I’m there?”

 

“Good question, Danno.”

 

“Hard not to live in paradise and enjoy it at every opportunity.”  Seriously, he stopped and gazed at his friend.  “But I’m ready to get back to work.”

 

“The doctors have to give the say so, Danno.  Sorry.  I want you in top shape when you come back.  No relapses.” 

 

Dan couldn’t hide the disappointment.  “As much as I love island fun, I can’t surf yet, and don’t have much energy to swim for long.  You sure you can’t use me at the office?”

 

“I’ll remind you of this conversation next time you want a weekend off.  Or complain about too much paperwork.”  Critically studying him, McGarrett was all too keen.  “I came to get you out of the apartment, though, and take you to dinner.”

 

“Sounds great.”  Williams made his way slowly up the sand.  “I’m going stir crazy here.  That’s why I’d like to come back –“

 

“Danno --”

 

“Okay,” he smiled.  Even getting Steve to bark at him in exasperation was good.  Anything was better than sitting around alone in his condo all day and night.

 

 

*****

 

 

Waiting for Dan to get ready, Steve leaned on the lanai doorway for a while, watching the surf and the sunset.  Paradise.  Heaven on earth.  It had seemed like Hell long days ago when Danno was in the hospital and unable to move his legs. 

 

The unbelievable joy at his friend’s recovery was nearly painful in its relief.  Fantastic as it was that Dan was alive and almost ready to return to work – well – close, anyway – Steve frequently felt twinges of guilt and remorse.  He still could not release his conscience from the condemnation that he had caused the tragedy.

 

In these weeks of reprieve, though, he had accepted the miracle of Dan’s recovery.   Mostly putting the ugly past far behind.  There were still moments of poignant anguish.  Watching Danno struggle just to walk, for one.  Now, Dan was looking great -- fit -- less pale and more his normal, healthy self.  Happy.  No more cast on the arm.  The bruises and cuts were gone.  Weak, but mended.  Everything had turned out okay.

 

“Hey, you think after dinner we can stop by the market?  I’m almost out of milk.”

 

“Sure,” he smirked. 

 

The Five-0 team, and/or their wives, had been helping Dan with shopping and various excursions.  It was an all too frequent ritual because of injuries to him or Dan.  Appreciating the ohana efforts, Steve still liked to help out his friend himself.  Part of the resolution to the tragedy.  Or absolution – punishment for the crime? he wondered cynically.

 

Turning to sit at the kitchen counter, he surveyed the comfortable condo; the small but neat kitchen with a nice bar and stools, the Japanese screen bedroom wall, the Asian motif, the model of the whaling ship mounted on the wall. 

 

Gulping down a knot of regret, he remembered now, all too clearly, how he had smashed the duplicate model in his office.  How he had trampled it under in rage and violence and destroyed it – shattering it to pieces.  Like he had – for a time – shattered Danno’s life and his own.  Unlike the ship, though, the lives, even the friendship, had been repaired.

 

“I asked if this is formal or casual?” Dan quietly inquired.

 

Startled, McGarrett covered his embarrassment at being caught cold.  Danno was standing right next to him and he never heard a thing.

 

“Oh.”  He noted Dan’s sporty clothes and decided,   “Casual.”

 

Dan finished buttoning up his blue aloha shirt.  “Then you’re over dressed.”

 

McGarrett obligingly removed his tie and stuffed it in his pocket, then loosened his collar button.  “Wouldn’t want that, would we?”

 

“You don’t have to do this, you know, Steve.”

 

“What?”

 

“You come over here every day after work.  Sometimes in the afternoons.  Not that I’m complaining, Steve.  I appreciate the concern.  And like the company.  But I think this is called overcompensation.”

 

“Are you trying to tactfully tell me I’m overbearing and oppressive?”

 

That wry quip brought a smile.  “Never, was his wry response.  Seriously, he replied, “Just that there’s no reason for you to -- to over do it.  You don’t need to atone for what happened.  I don’t blame you.  There’s nothing to make up for.”

 

Unwilling to admit the truth, McGarrett moved over to stare at the ocean.  There was no question he still felt keen remorse over the loss of control -- the attack on his men -- always -- most of all -- the shooting.  Maybe he was overcompensating.  Spending as much time as possible with his friend.  Trying to fill in and be keeper and companion -- the responsible big brother. 

 

“I don’t know how else to handle it,” he admitted quietly, with great reluctance and effort.  Something he could never confess to anyone else.  A truth he admitted only now because Dan deserved his complete honesty.  “What do you want me to do?”

 

“Stop punishing yourself.”

 

The analogy made him smirk.  “This is punishment?  I’m not supposed to like hanging out at the beach with my friend?”

 

The jab at levity did not lighten Dan’s sober eyes.  “You are supposed to really accept that it was a terrible accident.  That we have to move on with our lives.  Everything worked out fine.  And even if it didn’t, it’s still okay.  I’ve never blamed you.  Stop blaming yourself.”

 

“Easy words,” he sighed.  Through the open lanai door, he watched a sailboat toss on the windy water beyond Diamond Head.  He ambled over to the doorway and stared out at the idyllic scene. The clouds drifted in to dapple the sand with errant rain.  Light sprinkles hit the lanai railing and splashed around his feet.  “Hard principle to put into action.”

 

“Please try.  I know it was a horrible thing for you to lose control and do things you hated.  But, there’s nothing else you need to do for me.  I forgive you.  I always have.”

 

He could have addressed several of the points.  Any one of the crises would have been enough -- losing control because of drugs.  Shooting his detective.  Danno crippled.  Singularly, any of them devastating -- all three was numbingly incomprehensible.  How could he pretend to return to normal?

 

He chose to address the issue they both knew was most important.  “I do need to make up for it, Danno.  Whether on Blue or not, I pulled the trigger.  I shot you.  I could have killed you.”  He cleared his throat and gruffly amended, “I tried to kill you.”

 

“Not you.  It was the drug.”

 

The rain increased and he stepped back inside, contemplating the sailboat model again.  “As someone told me, I can’t call back the bullet.  I can’t change the past.  I still feel that guilt.”  He shook his head.  “It doesn’t help that you never blamed me.  In principle, I agree with everything you say, but I can’t feel it yet.”

 

Openly frustrated, Dan’s voice was strained.  “Steve, you’ve got to try and forget --“

 

“I can’t!” he snapped back.  “For a while it was all a hazy jumble of confused images, but not anymore.  I remember everything, Danno!  I see it all very clearly!  Screaming at you, thinking you were Wong!  You trying to stop me. I fought you,” his voice cracked, but he was determined to explain this and make a complete confession.  A final attempt at pardon.  “I screamed terrible things -- I struggled with you, hurt you and Chin and Ben.”  Cringing, he stared at the faint line of the long laceration along the side of Dan’s face.  Stitches recently removed, the hairline concealed most of the wound, but it was a clear reminder of his actions.  “I slammed your head into the glass!  Can still hear the snap of the bone when I broke your wrist!”  Gulping in a shuddering breath, he blinked, straining to erase the vivid recollection from his mind.  “How could I do that?”

 

Dan winced, obviously remembering in painful detail.

 

Unable to face his friend, he turned back and leaned against the lanai doorway, oblivious to the splashing water hitting his face.  Closing his eyes, shutting out the tropical scene, he relived the horror -- only a thought away -- trapped inside his mind. 

 

“I shot you!   When you were down and bleeding and my hands were smeared with your blood, I attacked you!”  He struggled to restrain the tears, but they were already coursing hot trails down his cheeks, mingling with the warm rain.  “I can never forget the look -- your pain and horror at what I had done.  You were laying there and looked at me with such devastation.”  He shook his head, overcome by the grief.

 

“It was a nightmare,” Dan admitted quietly, subdued.

 

“Yeah,” Steve sighed.  “And the worst,” he squeezed his eyes as if to ward off the pain.  “The worst was when you looked at me.  I remember, you asked Duke -- to help me.  Help me!”  He nearly choked on the memory, recalling the event and now realizing how utterly selfless and heroic his friend was to always think of him first.  Even at death’s door.  He would never forget his friend, bleeding, in pain, and worried about him.  “How am I supposed to get over that?”   

 

He felt a solid grip on his shoulder and Dan patting his arm.  No words, just the silent support.  In a way, it was treacherous to endure, but the most comforting message possible.  Wiping his face, he stayed there, working his way back to composure.

 

“It was terrible,” Williams admitted quietly, his own voice trembling and hoarse.  “I’m sorry you remember it all.”

 

“I’m sorry you do, too.”

 

“But we’re okay,” he returned firmly. 

 

McGarrett finally glanced at him, drawing strength, as he often did, from his friend’s stability and support. 

 

Actually pained, Dan’s face was dark with concern.  “If I don’t blame you, you shouldn’t.  How can I make you understand that?”

 

“I don’t know.  With time, I suppose, like all wounds, this too will heal.”   Pacing, still unsettled, he wandered the room, finally settling over by the wall.  His injuries were still too raw to scar -- too fresh to practically put into application the theories that so easily came off his tongue.  He played with the delicate mast on the tall rigging of the replica ship.  “Some treasures can be repaired.  With time and skill.”

 

“This will, too, Steve.  Easier than you think.”

 

Carefully, Dan ambled over and joined him by the ship model.  Picking it off the shelf, he examined it.  “Did I tell you I’m redecorating?”

 

Startled, still staring at the model and thinking about the destruction he had wrecked on his office and friends, he blinked.  “What?”

 

“All this sitting around here made me realize I need more Asian art and less nautical theme.  Kind of keep with the flow, you know?”  He held it out to McGarrett.  “Maybe you’d like to have this for your office?”

 

McGarrett was already shaking his head, seeing the direction of his friend’s abundant generosity.  The excuse was transparent.  Danno must have seen the whole scene played out -- down on the floor bleeding while McGarrett smashed bodies and treasured gifts.  How could he offer the replacement after Steve had so utterly destroyed the first gift?

 

How could the recovering officer even think about making the office whole again?  Danno had yet to be back to the Palace, but must remember all the sordid details.  Too much damage had been done on Steve’s account.  Dan’s overly forgiving attitude was both a balm and a thorn to his conscience.

 

“It’s a treasured  -- I can’t –“

 

“Steve, please –“

 

“No,” he decisively flung back.  “I won’t.”

 

He stepped out the front door, standing at the railing and waiting for Dan to join him.  He could not take such a symbolic step yet.  He had too much self-forgiving to do still.

 

 

*****

 

Yawning, McGarrett drove around the Palace vowing to never let Williams talk him into an impromptu luau again.  One of the hotels in Waikiki had a new revue on the beach and Dan, of course, wanted to check out the entertainment.  The good memory made him smile, relieved there were happy times now to replace the guilty hauntings from the shooting. 

 

Usually they avoided the hotel attempts at luau food cooked in kitchens instead of authentic luau imu.  It was, however, worth the effort.  The kalua actually had been prepared in a traditional imu in the sand, the dancers lovely and the singing fun.  He had even managed to get through a rendition of Blue Hawaii without leaving or throwing something at the performer.

 

They had stayed out all too late.  He had reminded his friend, somewhere around midnight, that one of them was still a working detective, but he hadn’t managed to get home much before Two AM.  With a smile, he grudgingly admitted few knew how to Island party like Danno.

 

The evening had been an overcompensation for the way he blew up at his friend at the apartment.  The offer of taking the sail boat as a replacement for the gift he destroyed had pushed him over the thin edge of restraint.  Dan’s exoneration was typical, expected even, and necessary, but still hard to deal with.  Giving up a prized possession after what Steve did to the one Dan gave him was unthinkable.  Perhaps because he couldn’t believe they could repair things so easily.  Like replacing a ship model.  His offense required something more valid and hard in sacrifice for his unpardonable actions.

 

Swinging into his parking slot he nearly stomped on the brakes.  Danno’s LTD was there!  What did the young detective think he was doing here?  Trotting up the stairs two at a time, he supposed he should be gratified his reckless friend had not tried to drive the Mustang over here!  He rushed into the office, afraid Williams had – yes – there was no sign of him in the main office – he was in McGarrett’s!  Back to the scene of the crime!

 

Rushing to the closed door, he took a deep breath.  Not sure what he would say or do, he knew this confrontation – both of them again in his office – had to come eventually.  It was upon him now and he dreaded it and accepted it as a necessary evil.

 

Stepping in, he held his breath, seeing Williams, dressed in an aloha shirt and jeans, sitting on the couch staring at nothing.  What was he thinking?  Quietly closing the door behind him, he waited for a reaction.  Dan looked at him and slowly came to his feet.

 

“Thought I’d drop in and check things out,” he quietly explained, a little embarrassed.  “I expected to be gone before you . . . .” he shrugged.  Pacing over, he came close.  “I needed to come back.  Unfinished business.”

 

Drawing in a shaky breath, McGarrett nodded.  “How are you doing”?

 

“Fine,” he responded, a little surprised.  “I’m okay.”  His eyes narrowed.  “I expected – something.  But, it’s like I’ve never been away.  Like that night was just a terrible dream.”

 

“It was,” Steve’s voice scraped in harsh agreement.  He couldn’t help looking around.  It was all normal.  No bullet holes.  No blood.  “A terrible dream.”

 

“But it’s over now,” Williams contended, his voice stronger, his shoulders squared, his whole demeanor certain.  It’s okay, Steve.”

 

Wanting with all his heart to accept that statement, the total absolution, Steve patted his friend’s shoulder in mute agreement.  He couldn’t get any words out, but really wanted to put this behind him – them.  He turned to retreat to his desk, then froze.  The wooden ship model was back on the side table.  The last piece of the puzzle missing.  Releasing an involuntary gasp, he turned to his friend to deny the gesture.

 

“It would mean a lot to me if you would keep it there,” Dan insisted firmly, beating him to a comment.  “It really would, Steve.”

 

Clearing his throat beyond the knot there, he shook his head.  “I destroyed –“

 

“You were a victim.  Everything mends, Steve.  Let’s use this symbol for something more.  A symbol that everything’s back the way it used to be.”

 

Emotions and damaged psyches were more difficult to mend than a wooden mast.  His involuntary actions had hurt valued friends.  He agreed with his astute officer, though, that everything could be mended. His colleagues -- treasures themselves -- forgave him.  McGarrett knew he found the greatest treasure in an incredible, wise and generous friend. 

 

 

 

PAU