epilogue to: THE BOMBER AND MRS. MORONEY
The taxi ride from the airport to downtown seemed quicker than usual. During the familiar trip Steve McGarrett observed his Honolulu streets with a different perspective than usual. Not surprising since he had been on the mainland, away from his beloved islands, for too long.
The prevalent reason, however, for his attitude change was not location, but sentiment. While he had been away a tragic crisis had unfolded here that could have changed his life. Clearly in his emotions and memories he recalled the moment the terrible bombshell had been reported to him: A crazed bomber held his staff hostage, with the exception of Kono and Danno. The madman threatened to kill everyone if Danny Williams didn't surrender to him. The maniac insisted Danno had killed his brother and this was the vengeance in return. All the while, McGarrett was thousands of miles away. Helpless.
Frustration, agony, dread. The words could not describe the emotions he felt when Danno had called him and relayed the twisted ultimatum. Then, against Steve's advice, Williams chose to turn himself over to the madman in exchange for the hostages. No surprise -- the maniac did not surrender the staff -- not even the blinded Chin Ho, injured from a gun-powder flash! From his remote distance McGarrett could do nothing to reverse Williams' decision, or to help any of his people.
Could things have been better if he had been home to deal with the crisis firsthand? He kept telling himself somehow he could have altered events, made a difference, but logic told him it wouldn't have mattered. Danno would have still gone in to face death. Perhaps his presence would have made things worst. Fleetingly he wondered what would have happened if HE had been one of the hostages. He could only guess how Danno would have reacted. With a grim sigh he recognized things might have been infinitely worse.
Once in the office with the bomber, Danno had covertly opened a phone line to McGarrett and the boss had heard everything. Danno tried to appease the madman, tried to reason -- fought to save the hostages. When a sniper killed the madman, Steve had listened as Williams tried to disarm the bomb.
Then abrupt silence had caused interminable moments of anguish. He had been certain the broken connection meant Danno and the others had been blown to bits. He was miles away, an ocean apart, when those closest to him were in mortal danger. When his dearest friends could have all been obliterated in an instant. His worst curse -- inactivity -- was the sentence for the Five-0 leader. When he'd heard Williams' weary voice telling him everything was all right -- well -- he could hardly speak from relief.
McGarrett released a sigh as they turned off King Street into the front drive of the Palace grounds. The majestic old building never looked so good. After he paid off the cab Steve stood on the broad steps and momentarily studied the great old building. It would have been a sorrow to see such a historic and beautiful edifice destroyed. And his offices -- his work ripped away. Much more tragic, personally, would have been the loss of his friends.
Now anxious to see those valuable allies he jogged up the steps. He didn't slow down until he opened the door to the main office, rushing into the big room. Business as usual. He grinned at the familiar aura, the sense of comfort just being here in these rooms, knowing his world and the people within his little kingdom were safe. McGarrett's relief was a sharp emotion in his chest as he observed the normalcy of the moment. Secretaries and other staff, HPD went about their business. Kono was in his cubicle munching on noodles. Jenny was on the phone at her desk. He was glad he had returned anonymously to glimpse this unguarded moment of routine. Home never felt so good.
The calm was broken by Kono's loud exclamation. The big detective rushed over to greet him. Other's gathered around. Jenny gave him a quick hug.
"Great to have you back, boss."
"Thanks, Jenny. I'm glad to be here. How's Chin?"
"Fine. His eyesight is fuzzy but returning," she smiled.
He wanted to ask after his harried, young second-in-command, but restrained. He'd find out soon enough. After all, the crisis was over now, no one was in mortal danger anymore.
"Happy you back home, boss," Kono smiled.
He handed his bags to Kono, motioning for the Hawaiian to take them to his office. On his way he stopped next to the coffee machine, glanced into the nearest cubicle, and was disappointed that Danno's compartment was empty. Grimacing, he recognized the poignant metaphor to the vacant possibilities that might have been had the bomber succeeded in his aims. So easily he could have been robbed of his closest friends. Or closest friend.
McGarrett crossed into his private office. Thoughts of the near tragedy were never far away since he had learned of the situation at the Palace. They were intensified and solidified now that he was back here at ground zero for the threat. For that peril -- one of so many in his memories and experiences with Five-0.
Losing anyone on the staff would have been horrible. Each person working for Five-0 had their own special talents and an irreplaceable spot in his life. Losing Danno, though, that possibility had been faced before and each time it seemed harder to endure.
Over and over again he wondered what he would have done if he had been here to be part of the crisis. He would have done anything -- anything -- to stop Danno from sacrificing himself to the bomber. Opening the lanai doors and leaning on the frame, breathing in the fresh air and not really looking at the peaceful grounds, McGarrett smiled ruefully to himself. He would have TRIED to stop Danno from walking into the hands of the bomber. The youngest detective on the team was headstrong and stubborn in a way that could rival McGarrett sometimes. Williams would not have stood on the sidelines to be safe while others were threatened at his expense. Maybe not even if Steve ordered it. Danno was the only one in the office who could get around McGarrett's will. Occasionally.
A door slammed in the outer office and McGarrett turned, smiling when he spotted the detective sauntering across the big reception area. Williams spotted him, grinned, and picked up his pace, rushing into Steve's domain. A wide smile spread on his tired, but bright expression.
"Steve, you're back already!"
McGarrett crossed the room and met Williams halfway, the younger man rushing forward to enthusiastically pump McGarrett's hand.
"Welcome home, Steve."
Overwhelmed with relief that the world was back to normal, Steve put an arm around his friend and led him out to the lanai.
"Great to be back, Danno." The heartfelt breath was a little unsteady as he released the hold on his friend and leaned against the railing.
"Why didn't you let me know you were coming?"
Silently, Steve admitted to himself, 'Because I rushed back the first chance I had. I didn't want to waste time.' Instead he gave a casual shrug. "I thought you'd have your hands full," was his wry response. "You sure know how to get into trouble when I'm not around."
Slightly embarrassed, Williams shook his head and leaned against one of the white pillars. "I could have spared a few minutes and met you at the airport." He gave the hint of a grin. "Saved you cab fare."
Traditionally, Williams always seemed to be Steve's official aloha committee; sending him off and bringing him back from all trips abroad. Danno actually seemed disappointed that he had been left out of the routine, and McGarrett thought he understood. In his typical, headlong rush to return to the Palace and make sure his people were really okay, Steve had neglected to think of others -- Danno -- who probably longed for the routine, the business-as-usual, to set them back on an even course again. Their worlds had been equally skewed, tilted. Even though they had been thousands of miles apart as the crisis unfolded, they had shared the tragedy together.
Impulsively, McGarrett squeezed his friend's shoulder, too impatient to keep his opinions to himself any longer. "I wish I would have been here, Danno. I should have been. You had to handle everything on your own." Sighing, he shook his head. "But you did a great job. You saved lives." Including your own, he silently added. "Great job."
Williams gave a slight nod of embarrassment. "I didn't know what to do, Steve. It was pretty rough. I just -- just tried to keep everyone alive."
"And you did fine. Kept a cool head."
For a moment Dan stared into the distance, silently contemplating the recent danger. "At first, I wish you would have been here. I kept wondering how you would handle it -- what you would do if you were here." His voice deepened. "Then I was glad you weren't here. What if you'd been in the office --" He grimaced self-consciously. "Well, I'm glad you were out of danger, but you probably would have done a better job. Now I'm glad you're back to be the boss again."
Touched, uncertain what to say to such unabashed praise -- such a confession of flattery and tremendous adulation, McGarrett settled on blunt honesty. "You did fine, Danno." His tone shifted to a grating harshness. "Except for sacrificing yourself. That's not something I approved." Gruffly, he shook his head. "Just don't do it again. I don't like surprises. No bombshells."
With a laugh Williams admitted, "I don't plan on it, believe me. I like paradise quiet, uncomplicated and no surprises."
With a satisfied grin McGarrett studied his friend, then turned to observe the Palace grounds. The fresh scent of plumeria, the crisp breeze, the peace of the tropical paradise all welcomed him home. The natural beauty of Hawaii aside, the real essence of home were the people who surrounded him. That was his home and he was so glad to be back in the center of his little island kingdom.