pg-13 for violence and intensity





December 1978




The office was unusually quiet, and in December, that would instantly spike Steve McGarrett’s suspicions.  The annual Five-0 staff compulsion of surprising him with a birthday party at the end of the month was notorious for occupying far too much time -- taking away from serious work.  McGarrett tolerated the attention stoically.  In truth, he had no way of stopping the conspiracies that swirled around the Palace to make sure he had an embarrassing and publicly celebrated birthday.  As the head of the state police, wielding power and impact in various influential places in Hawaii and around the world, there were a few things he had no control over.   One, was his non-repressive second-in-command’s enthusiasm for the annual birthday celebration.


Impelled from curiosity, and an unusual lack of desk-work to occupy his attention, McGarrett finally decided to find out what was going on beyond his closed door.  Expecting to startle his staff in the midst of conspiratorial conferences, he opened the door and was surprised only to find the secretary, Luana, hard at work.  No secret meeting.  No abrupt end to conversations.  No suspicious gatherings in the common area.  Deciding he was entirely too paranoid about these trivial parties, he helped himself to some coffee and casually scanned the large, main office.


The three cubicles to his right, assigned to his detectives, were empty.  His eyes lingered at the far desk.  For seven months, that area had been empty.  This would be the first Christmas since Chin Ho’s death.  Steve could hardly imagine a holiday season without the jovial detective, without at least a few of his children dropping into the office to deliver homemade goodies. 


Since Kelly’s murder, life for the Five-0 staff had been tough.  Personally, he wasn’t sure he had stopped hurting, yet, and knew many of the others had not, although all of them made a good show of pretending to have the regret and pain well in the past.  Fleetingly, he was reminded of Williams’ subtle efforts to request a replacement for Kelly and Steve balked at even thinking in those terms yet.  Just as he inwardly flinched at the approaching holiday season and it’s sentiment.


Instead of throwing so much energy into his birthday, he decided with a lance of exasperation, the staff should be helping out the Kelly family.  There were still a few kids at home.  Maybe if he diverted Dan Williams’ abundant energies into that channel his birthday party would be skipped this year.  Unlikely, he sighed, but at least this was an alternate, worthy goal for his personnel to focus on.


Luana, when Danno gets here send him in, please.”


“Sure, Steve.”


 “Where did he go, anyway?”


“Security for the Governor’s Christmas Charity Ball.”


Right.  He had foisted that tedious assignment onto Williams.  Steve found it mind-numbing dealing with the committee meetings revolving around celebrities and dignitaries.  He had spent his morning reviewing case notes for a trial he would be testifying at tomorrow.  He considered that a much worthier goal than committee discussions, but acknowledged the importance of Five-0’s function as a security force for the state.  So the gregarious Williams got the task Steve disliked; the responsibilities for the day fulfilled.


“Where’s Duke?” he asked Luana.


“He went out to Kaneohe to interview that man who was on the news this morning.  Claimed Night Walkers kidnapped his wife.”


When the detectives had reviewed the morning HPD reports and stumbled on that one, they had laughed at the official request for Five-0 help on such a ridiculous investigation.  Lukela claimed no one who had seen Night Walkers would still be alive.  The comment earned him the assignment to join the HPD investigation.


Luana turned off the electric typewriter and covered it, reporting she was going to lunch, then grabbed her purse and left.  Noting that the desk clock read 12:07, he was surprised.  How did time fly by so quickly? The day was slipping quickly away.  The month -- the season . . . . It was already December . . .  the year seemed a blur of time and loss.


On Luana’s desk, there was a small Christmas tree with tiny decorations.  Several of the other secretaries had various holiday ornamentation, but it was a subdued expression of holiday spirit.  This was the state police unit, after all, and he never encouraged frivolity.  Glancing again at Chin’s former office, he wondered if he should loosen up a little this year.  Maybe they all needed a bit of extra cheer.


The front door slammed and Williams, carrying a paper bag, gave a nod to Steve as he briskly tread across the room.  Looking into Duke’s office, he smiled.  “Still not back from the mystery disappearance?”  He hefted the bag.  “Lunch.  Poke and sushi.”


“How did the meeting go?” McGarrett asked as he took a pair of chopsticks from his friend and entered his office.


“Long,” Williams commented as he flopped into a chair opposite McGarrett.  “Sam Ookala wants to make the Charity Ball a costume event,” he reported after chewing a mouthful of raw fish chunks mixed with seaweed.  His eyes lit up with humor.  “Better get your Santa suit out, Steve.”


McGarrett was not amused.  “You better not have volunteered me.”  He stabbed at his friend with chopsticks pinching an ahi roll.  “I’ll assign you to go.”


Williams laughed.  “I nixed the idea.  Told them it would be too much of a security problem.  What with the Malaysian troubles, it’s just too dangerous,” he finished seriously.




For the past few months a Malaysian radical group – The Sumatra Tigers a gang representing a Golden Triangle warlord -- had bombed, kidnapped or assassinated officials in the Pacific/Asian region.  Their goal was to tie up control of the drug trades and lucrative gem smuggling of the Eastern operations for their home-grown mob. The Five-0 staff knew little about the Asian/Pacific island unrest, or the value of Burmese rubies until recently, but they were making up for it with a crash course in regional politics and the resulting violence.


Five-0 had worked with both the FBI and the CIA on a few of the investigations, but so far there was no specific Hawaii connection to the troubles.  They were keeping a watch on known radicals, though, and had stepped up security around the Malaysian consulate.  Since Malaysian delegates would be attending the Charity Ball, the event became another headache they had to consider.


“Any more news from your informant on the Burmese rubies?”


“Not yet.  I’ll see if I can track him down this afternoon.”


“Good.  Now, what about Christmas?”


The question startled Williams and he nearly choked on his poke.  They had conversed about Christmas  -- as they usually did -- during Thanksgiving -- casually discussing plans.  This year Clara was coming in for the holiday and Steve had volunteered to cook something simple.  Then they were going golfing at McGarrett’s club.  Usually, once the plans were set that was the last Steve mentioned anything about the holiday until December twenty-forth.  Sensing McGarrett was focusing on a serious matter, he could almost guess the subject.


“What about it?”


“I mean about the Kelly kids.”


Swallowing his fish with a gulp of soda, Williams nodded, completely in tune with the fragmented mental complexities and moods of his boss.  “You mean what are we doing?  Luana’s got a list of what she thinks they might be needing.  Duke’s been collecting funds.  Didn’t he talk to you?”


McGarrett was slightly miffed about being the last to know this important familial obligation in his own office.  “No.”


“Plenty of time.  Suzi and her friend Kelly are organizing it, but the other kids don’t know.  I think Duke and his boys were taking the younger kids out to buy a tree on Saturday.”


Again, McGarrett felt displaced.  These events were happening under his nose and he knew nothing about them.  It was his own fault.  All these years running Five-0, he made an effort to not become too personally involved in the lives of his staff.  He was close to his detectives -- ohana -- but such intimate things as presents and Christmas trees were foreign to him.  As a bachelor who liked doing things his own way, he allowed the staff to have an annual, low-key party.  And indulged Williams in the birthday surprises.  But that was his limit.  He cared about these people and considered them closer than his own blood relations, but he rarely penetrated the intimate sphere of their lives. 


After losing Chin and seeing a chance to be of some help to the orphaned Kelly children, he was realizing how many gaps there were in his personal life.  Maybe now was his second chance to rectify the deficiencies and make a difference to the people he loved.  How was he going to accomplish that?  It was certainly not his style to go out with a bunch of kids and buy presents or a tree.  Were there five Kelly kids still at home?  He wasn’t even sure.  Steve donated heavily to children’s charities, but did not spend much time actually with children.  Duke could handle that one-on-one much better since he was a family man.  And the party organization – that was Williams’ forte.  Well, Steve would think of something to contribute besides money this year.  It was crucial -- to Chin's memory -- that he be part of this on a more intimate level.


A knock at the partially opened door brought his attention back and he bid the person to enter.  A square-jawed man in casual clothes poked his head around.  There was more gray hair than brown; the face bore a deep, weather-aged tan on the fifty-ish-aged man. 


McGarrett came to his feet, amazed at the unexpected visitor.  “Pete?”


“Hey, Steve!”


The athletic, muscled stranger rushed over and enthusiastically pumped McGarrett’s hand, then slapped him on the back.  Williams, now on his feet, looked on in wonder at the unexpected and unusually effusively excited greeting to his normally reserved boss.


“What are you doing here?” McGarrett wondered incredulously.


“Working.  Couldn’t come to your island paradise again and not drop in and say hi.”


Delighted beyond words, McGarrett made the introductions.  “Dan Williams, Pete Shay.”


Pete shook Williams’ hand.  “Heard about you, Williams.  Nice to finally meet the guy who’s keeping an eye on my old buddy.”


“Pete and I were in NI together in Japan,” McGarrett reminded.  “I think last time he dropped by I had sent you over to Maui or somewhere.”  Fondly studying his old friend, too many memories flooded in and he patted Shay on the shoulder.  “We went through a lot together.”


Williams’ eyes widened and he stared at the newcomer.  “You’re the Pete that saved Steve’s life in Tokyo.”


“Hey, you’ve got a good memory.”  He narrowed a glance at McGarrett.  “Or Steve’s been telling too many tales.” 


“A little of both,” McGarrett compromised. 


Shay’s dark eyes, framed by distinct crow’s feet, flickered -- as if some subterranean concern flitted through his mind -- then it was gone.  “Not like Steve to be a loose-lipped gossip about the old days.”


“Steve a gossip?” Dan laughed at the thought.  “Never.”  Williams sat on the edge of the nearby table. 


“Danno knows my secrets,” Steve joked as he ushered Shay over to the sofa.  “How long are you here?  Can you tell me about your assignment?”


“Not long, not much,” Shay shrugged.  “The usual stuff.  A trail led me here to Hawaii.  Maybe you could help me, Steve.”


“Ah,” McGarrett smiled.  He had been waiting for the explanation.  For a spy, Pete had trouble keeping secrets from him.  “So this isn’t just a social visit,” he kidded, satisfied that his old friend had not changed after all these years.


Shay seemed a little hesitant.  “Well, yes and no.  I’ve got a little bit of a mystery to solve with some Malaysian radicals that might be hanging out around your turf.  But,” he paused, almost -- embarrassed?  “I was hoping, if you don’t mind, that I could spend Christmas here.  With you, Steve.”


The request was surprising to say the least.  Pete had never been sentimental.  And coming after Steve’s mental analysis about his own life and the holiday season, it was a stunning coincidence.


McGarrett automatically glanced at Williams, who seemed to be reading his mind about the situation -- even as he analyzed the request and the knowledge of their standing arrangement.  Williams gave a nod.  Steve inclined his head slightly.  The silent conversation routinely, mutually understood.  When Steve looked back to Shay, he noted his old colleague scrutinizing Williams carefully -- quizzically -- curiously.


“Sounds like you’ll enjoy yourselves,” Williams offered first, giving his boss an easy out with the holiday plans.  “Aunt Clara will understand,” he assured, able to keep track, as always, of Steve’s mental thought-trail.


About to object, Steve relied on his ability to read a situation instantly and assessed the options at play here.  Shay’s behavior was atypical.  There was plotting going on under the surface and part of it included this surprise Christmas reunion.  It seemed important to indulge that first, and then arrange something else with the Williams’ later.  After all, he saw Danno all the time and Clara more than he ever expected.  Shay, though, seemed in need of his old pal and McGarrett wanted, for old time’s sake, to see what Pete had in mind.


A phone in the other office rang and Williams excused himself to answer it.  Steve asked Shay for more details on the Malaysian connection.  Leaning in at the doorway a moment later, Williams reported he had to leave to cover a follow up on their fraud case at the University. 


McGarrett stood.  “I’ll go –“


“No, you stay here and catch up on old times,” Williams offered quickly.  “Maybe we can meet up at dinner,” he directed at Shay.  “I’d like to hear more of these adventures in the Far East with Commander McGarrett,” he joked.  With a wave, he was gone.


“Seems like a good kid,” Shay commented, staring where Williams had been.  “That was some kind of mind reading act between you two.”


It seemed weird to have Williams, a forty-year-old, referred to as a kid.  But, Shay was older than McGarrett and certainly looked his fifty-odd years.  Rough living on the constant edge of danger; life in uncivilized quarters of the world, did that to a spy. 


McGarrett simply admitted, “We’ve come to read each other very well over the years.  I couldn’t get by without him.”


Shay gave a thoughtful nod.  “Christmas with the family.  You have a tight little operation going here, Steve.  Sure I’m not intruding?”


“Never.  Now are you going to tell me about the case or not?”


“Still the same Steve.  Too dedicated to the job.”  Staring at him, Shay shook his head.  “No, not the same.  The old Steve I knew would never let anyone get that close.  Not for a personal connection.”  His smile was almost suspicious.   “You’ve turned soft, Steve.”


The jibe hit home on a number of levels that McGarrett did not appreciate, but could not deny.  As an NI officer, McGarrett had been tough -- necessarily hard in his profession.  He had carried that in part to his organization of Five-0.  So many years and experiences later, he WAS soft.  He did have personal connections.  Thinking momentarily of Chin, he knew the intimacy of familial relationships came with it’s own set of pros and cons.  And yes, he was still married to his job, but it was a different career and he was a different man.


Steering to a lighter vein, he jokingly reminded Shay was just as dedicated; married to the Navy, then NSA, never taking time for a normal life.  A common theme for the old NI colleagues Steve had known since his service in Korea and Japan.  It seemed an odd kind of Kismet that his old friend would show up at this auspicious time in his life, when he was reevaluating his place in his close-knit society; contemplating the sentiments and complexities of relationships and time lost forever with those who were no longer here.  Maybe this WAS a Christmas of second chances for him.






Driving up to Manoa, Dan’s thoughts were not on the fraud case, but on McGarrett and Pete Shay.  Only a few of the exploits of Steve’s NI career ever surfaced.  Those were usually told by his old colleagues in the spy trade, rarely by McGarrett. Occasionally, in sporadic, introspective moments, Steve would reveal elements from his very private past.  In the years he had been with Five-0, Dan felt those interludes were few, and shared only with him.  It was part of their mutual bond – that Steve divulged personal information or emotions to him almost exclusively.  McGarrett’s tough-guy image seldom cracked, and when it did, it was usually with Williams. 


Shay would be an interesting source of information, but Dan already felt the subliminal prickle of wariness slide over his nerves.  Spies -- they made his skin chill when he recollected his recent encounter with a Red Chinese spy named Jin Wu. {episode -- DEADLY COURIER} 


Like the other old spy colleagues of Steve’s, Shay might also bring some nasty surprises to them.  He already indicated he was here on business.  Undoubtedly, he would ask Steve to help out with some intrigue.  That was never a good thing, he sighed to himself, hoping this Christmas did not turn into a disaster.  Old NI buddies dropped in on Steve occasionally, and the results sometimes did not work out well.






As Williams surveyed the bomb scene in the glittering tropical, early-December morning sun, he felt an edge of dread creep into his system.  It lent a subliminal chill under the skin that was toasted warm by the tropical humidity.  Terrorist activities apparently now preyed in Hawaii, as they feared would happen.  The Malaysian market was devastated, a dozen people, including women and children injured, three people DOA so far.  It was a rotten crime to happen, targeting the innocent, but coming around Christmas was disgusting.  The shattered and singed decorations, the fragmented Santa statue, it made the harsh reality of random murder seem worse than usual.


The familiar screech of brakes brought him out of the unpleasant reverie and he turned to watch McGarrett weave through the debris.  The expressions on McGarrett’s face; revulsion – fury – were reflections of his own emotions.


“Do we have any indication that this was terrorist related,” McGarrett asked when he drew close to his colleague. 


“No proof yet, but that’s what I would go with initially.”  He pointed to a burned out car at the curb.  “Car bomb.  No witnesses admit to seeing anyone park here or leave the car.”


McGarrett stared at him with keen eyes.  “Meaning what?  You think there are witnesses, but they’re concealing something?”


“If they’re alive, after just being caught in a bomb attack, they might keep quiet out of fear,” he offered.


“Reprisals,” McGarrett clarified. 


“This is an insular community like a lot of the Asian neighborhoods,” Dan reminded.  “Just like Little Saigon and Chinatown.  They stick close together.  And testifying against terrorists, drug lords or gem smugglers will not be healthy for them or their families.” Frustration at their lack of contacts and progress in the smuggling investigation surfaced.  "Not like when we had Chin to help."


McGarrett grunted.  After a moment, he responded, “Well, we’re going to move faster on this than we have on the gem smuggling, Danno.  We will find out about this,” his voice hardened with determination.  “We’re not going to allow this mindless violence to get a foothold here.”


Walking into the charred entrance of the market, McGarrett surveyed the scene with sad repulsion.  Missing Chin and his inside talent for culling informants more than ever, Williams walked over to check on Lukela, who was taking a statement from a timid witness. 


From the corner of his eye, Dan spotted something that snagged his attention, and he turned, surprised to see Pete Shay slipping through the crowd of spectators across the street.  What was the spy doing here?  Curious about the bombing?  Why didn’t he come over and talk with them?  So he wouldn’t be seen by others who were observing the aftermath?


Stepping over to one of the lab men, Dan asked that the tech photograph not just the crime scene, but the people in the crowd.  An unusual request, the officer agreed nonetheless and immediately started snapping pictures of those observing from the sidelines.





Studying the lab reports and photos on the long table in his office, Steve impatiently commented the lab should hurry up and finish developing all the film rolls.  He liked the good idea of getting shots of the crowd and wanted the information now.  Terrorists wouldn’t normally stick around to check on their work, but psychos might.  They weren’t sure whom they were dealing with – too early in the investigation to jump to conclusions – but they had to cover all angles on this.  The governor and the Malaysian consulate were already up in arms about the incident and demanding Five-0 get results immediately.


“Pete Shay gave me the idea,” Williams admitted modestly as he studied the first batch of pictures.  Tie loosened, wearing short sleeves in the humid, warm December afternoon, he fought off a yawn and gulped down more coffee.  He opened the lanai doors wider to allow in more of the tropical breeze.  “I saw him skulking around at the edge of the crowd.”


“Pete was there?”


“Yeah, I figured he didn’t want to be seen by the wrong people so he didn’t come over and say anything.”


Puzzled, McGarrett gazed at the reports and files, but was preoccupied.  Why hadn’t Shay come over by now – hours after the crime – to share information?  Probably because Pete was off searching his own leads.  But he should disclose what he knew.  This was no longer an academic exercise in trading information.  The crime had happened on Hawaiian -- McGarrett’s -- turf and the NSA would have to disclose whatever information they had.


“Hey, did you see the victim list, Steve?” Williams asked as he pushed a piece of paper over.  “Tommy Malang.  We arrested him last year for smuggling.”


“Hot gems,” McGarrett added.  “He was the Honolulu connection for that ring working out of Australia.”


“Yeah.  I didn’t know he was out on parole.”


Checking the time, Steve buttoned his top shirt button, straightened his tie and grabbed his jacket.  “What have we got, a smuggling operation gone wrong or a terrorist bombing?”


“Not sure.”


“I’ve got the press conference with the governor.   You go talk to Pete.  He’s staying at The Waikikian.”


“Swell,” he snidely commented.  “Next time he comes, you should talk to him about accommodations, Steve.  Get him a deal at the Ilikai.  They like you there.”


“Yeah, yeah,” McGarrett smiled as he sailed out of the door.  “I’ll meet you back here in a few hours.  Bring dinner.” 





On Ala Moana, just down from the swank Ilikai and Hilton’s Rainbow Towers, The Waikikian was an older, small, unique Tahitian-styled hotel with difficult parking access.  Dan left his car next to the lobby and searched the rooms for Shay’s number.  Knocking several times, he tried the doorknob, which was locked, then knocked again.  Checking to make sure the hall was empty, to make sure he was not observed or overheard, he leaned close to the wood. 


“Pete, it’s Dan Williams.”


A moment later the door was opened, his arm grabbed and he was yanked into the room.


“You just want to announce my presence here?” Shay snarled lividly.  “You think I’m using my own name here?”


Miffed at the harsh reception, Dan was again reminded why he hated mingling business ventures with Steve’s old cloak-and-dagger pals.  “Well, you didn’t tell us your code name this trip, or the secret password, did you?”


Gradually, the defensive-wariness dissipated and Shay gave a quirky, lopsided grin.  It etched the weathered face into cool planes of wary scrutiny.  “Okay, score one for you, Williams.  Just so you know I’m here under the name of Sands.”  He moved farther into the room and grabbed two beers out of the small fridge in a tiny kitchenette.  “Where’s Steve?”  He sat in one of the two chairs at a tiny table next to the bed, handing a bottle to the detective.


Dan refused the drink.  That earned him a glare from the spy.


Pacing opposite the man, Dan replied, “Had a press conference about the bombing.”  He nodded to the TV in the corner.  “If you turn on the news you can catch him and the governor.”  The suggestion was not taken up and he continued.  “So what do you know about the bombing?  Are they the guys you’re after?”


“Why would I know anything?”


The attitude, maybe the bland tone alerted Dan.  He had learned to hone his own level of sixth sense abilities under the tutelage of McGarrett over the years.   Pete was hiding something.  It was his nature and profession, of course, but right now Dan didn’t like it.  He never liked these spy games and decided to set things straight immediately.  He didn’t care if this was Steve’s old friend or not, Five-0 was not getting entangled with more mysterious spook intrigue than necessary.


“I saw you observing the scene.  You were looking for someone?  Or you know something?”  Shay was silent.  “Come on, help us out here.  We don’t want terrorists coming to Hawaii.  If they’re here already we need to know who they are and where they are and nab them.”


Shay laughed.  “Are you really that naive in this tropical paradise, Charlie Chan?  This is part of the Pacific rim!  Of course they’re already here.  The Sumatra Tigers are everywhere around and in this part of the world.  You’re just lucky they haven’t hit your islands.  Yet.”


“Then this was the work of the Tigers?”


“I didn’t say that.”


“You know something, though.”




Dan strove not to show his irritation at the run around.  “Did you know Tommy Malang?  He was one of the victims.”  There was no visible reaction except a barely perceivable darkening of the brown eyes.  Malang means something to you.”


“No,” Shay denied blandly.  “And I wasn’t there today.”


Not allowing his incredulity to surface, Dan countered with the same level non-tone as the spy.  “I saw you.”


“I wasn’t there.  You’re mistaken.”


Chills traveling along a sub-sensory level of instinct caused his temperature to drop.  So, Shay was playing a double game.  No surprise, most of these spooks and former-spooks couldn’t help it.  What disturbed him was the high level of the serious crime this involved.  And the personal aspect of Steve’s relationship with his old friend.  Shay was hiding what he knew about the bombing -- lying about his involvement and maybe more.  When Steve found out it was going to be both personally wounding and professionally irksome.


“Steve McGarrett keeps a tight watch on this rock, Shay.  He’s going to know what you’re doing and know what you’re up to.  When he finds out you’re concealing important information from him, he’ll want an accounting.”


“I told you.  I don’t know anything about the bombing, Williams.”  His eyes were as flint-cold as his tone.  “Why are you implying that I do?”


The accusation shocked him into silence.  Furiously he tried to figure the game Shay was playing.  Was there someone listening?  A person hiding in the other room?  His skin crawled with thoughts about his recent, nasty brush with spies and brainwashing. {episode -- DEADLY COURIER}  Part of him would like nothing more than to get as far away as possible from spook games.  The conscientious part urged him to delve deeper for the truth.


“You were there.  Just tell me why.  You knew Malang.  And you know something about the bombing.  Aren’t you supposed to be cooperating with us?”


The chill smile reflected the frosty demeanor.  “Maybe we just shouldn’t mention any of this,” Shay continued with narrowed eyes.  “Steve would be disappointed to hear his star detective was imagining things.  Trying to weave conspiracies out of this bombing that aren’t true.”  Shay came to his feet.  Dan squared off with him, holding his ground.  “Be a shame for Steve to think his boy wonder was inventing clues to cover for his sloppy police work.  Trying to create a short-cut through me.  Fabricating clues.”  He stabbed the much shorter detective’s arm with his finger.  “Get my drift, officer?”


Dan couldn’t believe it.  The guy was threatening him!  Was he really intruding on some clandestine operation with Shay?  Or was this something else that he couldn’t quite fathom?  Yet.  Why didn’t he trust the guy like Steve did? 


His suspicions of spies carried the weight of his wariness.  “Steve is going to see through you in a minute.”


Shay just smiled. It was an expression seemingly carved in marble -- the same flexibility and warmth -- that sent an equal chill to the dark eyes that assessed him with near-contempt.   “I think you’re on the wrong track.  I think you have no evidence to support your theory and Steve will be easy to convince you’re being over-zealous.  Maybe even jealous of me showing up here and working with my old pal.”


Dan swallowed the amazement, the trepidation that crept into his nerves.   Shay was not only willing to lie to protect himself, he was ready to engineer a wedge within Five-0 to keep his secrecy in this operation.   Because Shay was deliberately trying – what?  Personal attacks – diminishing Dan’s skills and attempts to do his job.  Why?  Almost as if he was trying to cast doubt on his abilities.  Why?  To drive a block between the Five-0 team members?  Why?  Spy business undoubtedly.  Nothing, however, that he could prove or even solidly formulate into a theory.  All he knew now was that for some reason Shay was lying.


Feeling a little defensive about everything concerning Five-0 since Chin’s death, he searched for a flash of insecurity that would validate Shay.  Could the spy possibly do or say anything to crumble the solidarity of Five-0?  He found no trace of doubt within.  Duke, Steve and he were ohana.  That defined more than any of them could ever explain.  The certainty of his bond with McGarrett and Five-0 intensified his resentment and suspicion.


The idea that this was a conspiracy against him or Five-0 did flash in his mind as paranoia.  Redefining this man as a dangerous uncertainty, he gripped onto his control with icy detachment.  Confidence returned.  “Okay,” Williams responded tightly, knowing for now he had to agree to the terms.  For now.  “If that’s the way you want to play it.”


“It’s the only way to play it.”


After Dan left, he went to his car and sat there for a few minutes, ruminating over the conversation.  No doubt -- Shay was involved with this.  Why lie?  And how was he going to break this to Steve?  Straight out and to the point.  There would be no other way with McGarrett.






The lights were on in the office when Williams returned with cartons of Chinese food.  He was surprised Duke was there so late and at a glance, noted McGarrett’s office was empty.


“What are you still doing here?” Williams asked as he joined Lukela.


“Going over the lab reports.  That last set of pictures came in a while ago.  They’re on

your desk.  I didn’t have time to get to them.”


“You know all of us don’t have to stay till midnight,” he only half joked.


“Just what I was thinking.”  Lukela glanced at the food containers.  “By the way, Steve took off with that Shay guy.  You don’t mind if I take his dinner, do you?”




Williams took his food to his cubicle, wondering if Shay was going to come clean with Steve.  Probably.  That need-to-know garbage between spies and ex-spies.  That was fine with him.  As long as Steve knew the straight story, it didn’t matter where he got the information. 


Dipping into his sweet and sour pineapple chicken, Williams sorted through the pictures from the crime scene.  This batch included the assorted photos of the crowd.  Dan found two that clearly showed Shay.  He put one in the stack he would show Steve later, and another in his drawer.  It was an instinctive measure and he questioned the motivation even as he followed through with the actions. 


What validation did he have for being suspicious of Steve’s old friend?  Only that Shay had given him a hard time about the bomb scene and Dan didn’t trust him completely.  Was that enough to doubt the man’s -- what -- loyalty to country -- to Steve -- commitment to cooperation with Five-0?  All of the above?  Dan didn’t know.  All he knew was that he didn’t trust Shay.  Not because he was jealous, nor because of the attempt at intimidation. Something else.  His feelings ran deeper than logic. 


Duke stepped into the cubicle and sat in a chair.  “So, did you get the reservations for Chen’s?”


The question startled Williams into recollecting responsibilities he had not thought about -- uncharacteristically -- for a few days.  Chen was a kindly old gentleman who owned a great restaurant in Chinatown.  He’d been favorable to Five-0 since they helped him root out a tong problem in the neighborhood and he was one of the conspirators of the legendary birthday surprise party.


Still disturbed about Shay, distracted, Williams mumbled, “Uh, yeah.  Chen is on board.  At SixPM on the Thirtieth, Chen will call Steve to the restaurant to have him chase away some tong punks giving him a hard time.  We’ll all seem devastated that this is ruining the surprise party.  Then we race over, show up in the back room of the Golden Dragon, and surprise Steve.”


Duke shook his head.  “He’ll figure it out.  This isn’t as good as last year --“


“Last year we had Aunt Clara and Suzi helping out.  They don’t have time this year.  And besides, Steve would be on guard for that.”  He could see Lukela was not impressed.  It was not one of his best ideas, he freely admitted, but there was just too much going on this year.  “We can always fall back on the hula girls.”


Duke stared at him until he finally broke into a chuckle.  “I think Chen’s will work out okay.”


Dan nodded, still troubled about Steve’s old friend.  “How’re things going with the Kellys?” he asked, studying the crime scene photos.


“The Saturday before Christmas we’ll have a luau there.  Truck’s going to dress up as Santa.”


Dan nodded, smiling, then the amusement faded.  “You know Truck wants me to put in a good word for him to join Five-0.”


Lukela’s expression darkened.  “Have you talked to Steve?”


“About Truck?  Yeah.  And Kevin Wilson, too.” 


“Not Yoshi?”


“Not Yoshi.  He’d try and push me out of the way!”


Yoshi Nakamura was an over-eager young, zealous patrolman who had desperately lobbied to be part of Five-0 for years and openly campaigned for Dan’s job.  It had become a joke, but in these serious times of looking for new officers, it fell flat.  Even kidding about taking Williams’ place, it was only a slightly amusing element of an otherwise sober task.


The argument to add another detective to take Chin’s empty spot was an old one.  Dan had been after Steve for months to bring in another officer.  McGarrett couldn’t bring himself to do it yet.  He sadly shook his head, heavyhearted that his friend had such a hard time overcoming the mourning for Chin. 


“So, I guess Steve didn’t take the idea too well.”


“No.  Not yet.”


“You’ll wear him down,” Lukela assured.  He glanced at the crime scene photos.  “Any ideas?”


“A few,” Williams admitted, his mind traveling back to the unpleasant mystery of Shay and the terrorists.  “I’ll let you know.  Any idea where Steve went for dinner?”


“No.  Why?”


“I just need to run a few things by him.”


“Knowing his reunions with past old friends, he’ll be out pretty late.”


Reluctantly, Williams silently agreed.  Steve’s old pals loved to wax loquacious on the good old days.  No telling where they went or how long they’d be out. 


“So, you want to tell me what’s bugging you?”


Looking into Lukela’s eyes, Dan knew better than to try and deny what must have been obvious to one who knew him so well.  “Shay.”


“What about him?”


“I’m not sure,” Williams shrugged.  “He’s concealing -- something.  Playing his own game.”


Lukela continued to stare steadily at him.  “Are you sure this isn’t about your Christmas plans being bumped aside for the old buddy?”


“It’s not.”  The dark eyes continued their intent scrutiny without the facial expression changing.  “Really.”


“What are you bothered about, then?  Steve’s old pal moving in and taking over?  Disturbing --“


“Well, I hope I’m not that petty, Duke!”


Lukela’s manner was easy.  “I’m not blaming you.  Everybody was looking forward to an ohana Christmas.  Helping the Kelly kids and staying close.  Then this outsider appears and disrupts things.  It would be natural to feel --“


“I do not resent Steve’s old friend dropping in.  What I don’t like is -- he’s lying, Duke.”


This surprised the officer.  “About what?”


“He was at the bombing.  He denies it.  I just confronted him about it.  He flat out lied to me.”  Dan shoved the photo of Shay toward his friend and Lukela studied it in a glance.


Duke was thoughtful.  “He IS a spy, Danny.  He lies as part of his nature.”




The next words were spoken with clear caution.  “Maybe you’re a little sensitive about spies --“


“You think I’m imagining this?”


“No.  I think you’re a little -- touchy -- about spook games after Jin Wu.”


“There is something up with Shay, Duke!” he nearly shouted.  His reaction was obvious evidence that Duke had hit the bulls-eye on that speculation about spies.  Dan still denied he was upset about Shay moving in at this sensitive time for Five-0.  What mattered was he knew he was right.  “I know it!”


“That wasn’t an accusation, Dan” he countered mildly.  "It's been a rough year, for real."


Still on edge, Williams sighed to release some tension.  “I know.  Sorry for snapping at you."


Duke gave him a shaka sign.  "It's okay.  We're all going through some tough emotions right now.


"Yeah.  But, I’m going to find out what Shay’s up to.”


“Just watch your step,” Duke sagely warned.  “You know first hand how dangerous these things can get.”  He seemed to weight his words judiciously.  “And Steve seemed pretty pleased at Shay’s arrival.  Maybe you should let Steve have his time with the old pal and any of your suspicions should be investigated -- carefully.”


Lukela returned to his own cubicle and Williams stewed on the sagacious advice.  Not relishing staying up all night waiting for McGarrett, Williams finished his paperwork and went home, deciding to catch his boss early in the morning.


The drive to his condo was fraught with irritated self-doubt.  Was he really disturbed about Shay moving into a Christmas that was so important to them all?  Christmas Eve was going to be spent with the Kelly kids.  Christmas Day with Aunt Clara and Steve.  Then New Year’s Eve all of them out at the Kulani estate for the big end of year luau.  The holidays were all planned.  Important celebrations in the shadow of losing Chin.  They all wanted to reaffirm the significance of their ohana.  Did he resent Shay for coming in and disrupting it?


Or did he really feel, deep down, through his sixth sense, that Pete was up to something? 


His answer to both questions -- yes.  He was distrustful of Shay and thought the spy was up to no good.  And yes, he did resent the old friend for coming back and disrupting ohana plans for Christmas and probably Steve’s birthday and New Year’s. 


Of course paradise would attract serpents.  Why did it have to be this Christmas?


Aware of his priorities, he knew the most important thing was to covertly discover what duplicity Shay was up to.  Then, he would worry about the trivialities of the holidays.  Despite the sharp loss of Chin Ho, it was a serious business to run at Five-0 and their personal lives should not factor into it.  Shay and terrorists had to be taken care of first.





Steve chose Nick’s at the wharf for their impromptu dinner.  At short notice, it would not be easy to get into a good restaurant in Honolulu at this hour.  And he remembered Shay liked a good meal.  Not fancy, but good quality.  One of the few quirks of the spy.  Probably because with all the uncertainty in the life of an agent, a good meal was something of a treat and was sought when the opportunity arose.


Recommending a specialty, grilled opakapaka, then they ordered beverages.  Steve’s insistence on drinking just coffee earned him some teasing from the old friend.  After a time, he zeroed in on the crux of the meet.


“This is more about just dinner, isn’t it, Pete?”


“You know me pretty well, Steve,” Shay admitted with the shadow of a smile curling the tips of his lips.  “I wanted you to know the bombing today was not part of my operation.  Random violence.  You need to look into the local mob on this one.  The terrorists I’m after don’t have a fingerprint like this.”


Shay had a lot of experience behind him, but Steve still did not accept gifts easily, even from friends.  “Thanks.  But I prefer to find the facts on my own.”


The brown eyes flicked slightly.  “I’m saving you some time, Steve.”


“That’s what I have detectives for.  Just to cover all the bases.”


Buzzing his lips in a deep exhale of exasperation, Shay shook his head.  “Stubborn as always.”  Their appetizers arrived along with refills on Shay’s beer and after the waitress left he continued.  “Teaching it to your protégé, too.”


McGarrett’s eyebrows raised.  “Danno?”


“Too eager.  One of those dangerous achievers.  His youth makes him ambitious.”


“He’s not as young as he looks.  A helpful deception.”


Shay thoughtfully sipped his beer.  “Nice to know.  He has a lot of responsibility.  Maybe too much freedom?  Not like the old McGarrett I used to know.  You and I were top dogs.  A subordinate knew his place.”  He stared hard at his old colleague.  You losing your grip, Steve?”


McGarrett was not so amused at the line of interrogation.  “Times have changed, Pete.  This isn’t the Navy.  I need to work with colleagues, not command them, in Five-0.”


The spy shrugged.  “Never hurts to let the staff know who’s in charge.  But you must do that -- the old Steve I knew couldn’t help himself.”


“My detectives have no problem distinguishing who’s in charge,” was McGarrett’s crisp retort.  “And their loyalty is absolute.”  He thought of Chin with a frequent stab of regret.  Being part of Five-0 cost him his life.  “And Danno is loyal to a fault.”


“Loyal to a fault.  Quaint.”  Shay slowly nodded, studying the liquor in his glass.  “I’ll remember that.”


The expression on Shay’s face was an odd one and Steve couldn’t quite read it.  Calculated scrutiny or confusion?  He couldn’t be sure.  Nor could he read his old friend’s mood.  What he did know was that Pete was fishing.  For what?  How well they could work together again?  How much resistance the spy would encounter from Dan and Duke?  Or was it more?


“What is all this about?”


“Williams came to see me about the bombing.”


“I hope you didn’t try this subterfuge on him.”


Shay shrugged.  “Over-eager.  Reminds me of a young NI guy I knew named McGarrett.  Never knew when to give up.”


With amused pride, Steve admitted that sounded like his officer.  “Don’t underestimate him.  He’s my right-hand.”


Shay slowly nodded, studying the liquor in his glass.  “I’ll remember that, too.”  He shifted his penetrating eyes to study McGarrett.  “You’re close.  He takes things -- personal.  So do you.   He’s protective about you.”


The observations were meant to be casual, but Steve found them too probing, intimate and odd.  “What does he have to be protective about?  What’s going on?  What did you tell him about the bombing?”


“Nothing to tell,” Shay shrugged, but his eyes were sharp with the look of a quest.  “No terrorists hiding behind your palm trees.  Williams concerns me.  He’s defining his territory.  Maybe he’s jealous I moved into your life suddenly.  Or he’s threatened.”


The unfavorable traits were so opposite Williams’ personality Steve laughed.  “I’m worried that you’re paranoid, Pete.  Whatever went on between you two, you didn’t get his measure at all.”


“Maybe,” Shay shrugged, but he looked away, distracted by a waitress.  When he looked back, his expression altered from predatory to sober.  “Before we get any further, maybe you should let me know if Williams calls the shots or you, Steve.  Not like you to let the hired help run things.  You’ve never been the figurehead type.”


The accusation stung and McGarrett took a moment to ponder his reply instead of hotly, sharply flinging back an angry denial.  Shay was playing some kind of game -- almost maneuvering him.  He had seen it -- done it -- enough times to know what it was.  Why was his old colleague trying the ploy on him?


“You’re out of line, Pete.  Tell me what this is all about.  You know me very well.  You know how I handle my job.  Aside from that, it’s none of your business how I run my department.”


The spy held up his hands in surrender and replied in an unruffled tone.  “Okay, Steve, I’ll level with you.  I’ve been observing you, testing out the operation here.  I need your resources elsewhere.  Drop this bombing, let your police department handle it.  I wanted to ask you to help out with this investigation I’m doing.  I found a lead on a terrorist and I need some manpower to assist.  But we have to keep it low-key and professional.”


Instantly on guard at the request, Steve studied his old friend.  “There was no need for testing,” he snapped back, miffed that his abilities and skills were questioned.


“Don’t get huffy, Steve.  I know you.  I trust you.  I don’t know your staff.  And Williams has -- well -- he acts like he’s got a lot of power.”


His voice as flinty as his resentment.  “He’s my second-in-command.  He can run Five-0 as well as I can.”


“Okay,” the spook sighed.  “But this is important, Steve.  And secret.  I can’t have any errant cops out for glory here.”


“You can trust everyone on the staff of Five-0,” the detective assured tightly.  “If I even agreed to whatever it is you want.  Which I haven’t.”


“I’ll explain it all, Steve.  But know that this is really important.  National Security stuff.  Not a gang fight in Koreatown or a bombing in Chinatown, Steve.  This is about international terrorism and I’m afraid it’s coming right here on your doorstep.”


McGarrett stiffened automatically.  “If you have information --“


“I want to help you stop it.  And you will help me stop it.”


McGarrett was both wary and anxious to work with his old friend again.  “But we would need full disclosure, Pete.  Total cooperation.  I don’t work in the dark.  And I won’t drop important cases on your say-so unless I have a good reason.”


Shay laughed.  “Territorial just like always, Steve.  You never did like the need-to-know jazz.”


“I still don’t.”


“Then you’ll come aboard?” 


“Tell me more,” Steve cautiously countered.


“These are dangerous radicals.  You’ll get the full background, I promise.  I know Five-0 is the best and so I’ll need all the help you can give me.  I can’t afford to have you diverting important assets that I need.  Trust me, Steve.”


McGarrett wanted to, but his natural inclination to skepticism prevented his complete acceptance of the proposal.  He outlined that Shay would have to take him in to the operation completely, leaving out no details.  He and his men would be on the line for Shay’s secret project and none of them were expendable like the NSA men.  He thought about Chin’s undercover debacle and wondered if entering into a clandestine activity was wise.  He trusted Shay only so far.  Pete saved his life years ago, but he was a professional spook.  Could he be trusted now?  To a qualified degree, yes.  With the lives of Danno and Duke?  Not completely.


Shay agreed to the terms.  Over dinner, he outlined the two people he needed shadowed.  And he gave McGarrett the name of a contact for the terrorists that he could not find with his limited means.  By the time dessert arrived, they laid out a plan for stake-outs and Steve had a good idea of where to look for this mystery contact named McBride.


“This is going to be like old times, Steve.  It’s nice working with someone I can trust.”


Pete had never been one for team efforts, but they had gotten on well together.  The profession was not one that encouraged trust or close relationships. 


“Are you happy you got out?”


“Never been happier,” McGarrett admitted.  He wouldn’t trade his life for anything.  Certainly not for the back-stabbing spy game.  When McGarrett was transferred to Pearl Harbor, he remembered that Shay was terribly upset, then doubly aggravated when Steve retired NI to head up Five-0.  He wondered if this was a probe to see if he felt he had made the right choice.  There was no question in his mind that he had chosen correctly.  “I was meant to do this, Pete.”


Shay nodded.  “I think so.  I didn’t think so all those years ago, but I do now.  Seeing how you’re thriving here.  There are times I would like to give it all up, too.  Maybe I should retire and come live in your paradise.  It’s worked out well for you.”


“It has.”  He would have never dreamed what a paradise could be until he took over Five-0.  Aside from the hard work and danger and frequent stressful conflicts, it was a great life.  He had the beauty of Hawaii, friends who had become his family, the respect of many, and the challenge of a job he had pretty much molded to conform with his own standards.  “I would never be happy doing anything else.”  He sobered as he studied this man who had once saved his life.  Pete was older, strained, thin.  “Don’t you think it IS time you got out?”


“And do what?” he scoffed.  “You don’t have any openings, do you?”


It was a joke, but Pete didn’t know how serious it was.  McGarrett flinched.  “Yes, I do.”


Shay’s eyes narrowed.  “Really.  You lost someone the hard way?  Recently.  It's still a sore spot."


McGarrett stared at the dark coffee in his cup.  "Yeah, a few months ago one of my officers . . . ."  He just shook his head, not wanting to go into detail.  Already, in his mind';s eye he saw Chin's body on the pavement . . . .


"Something I might consider," Pete was saying.  "But I don’t think I qualify for a cop shop, do I?”


“I don’t know,” McGarrett honestly returned, not sure where this was all leading.  “I came out of NI, remember?”


Thoughtfully, the spy nodded.  “Maybe we should look on this joint operation as an audition, then?”  The spark in Shay’s eyes was undeniable.


Steve could not refuse the question.  “Maybe,” he neutrally responded. 


“What a kick it would be working together again,” Shay smiled.


“Yeah,” he agreed, remembering some wild times in Japan.  And the sterling successes they racked up catching foreign agents.  “Yeah, it would.”


Easy to think back on the old days as sentimental good times, he quickly remembered the hard times.  The reasons he finally retired for a better career.  There had been betrayals and horrible lies; some dangers -- some moments when it was an unbelievable comfort to have a solid ally at his side.  He had that now, though, with Danno and Lukela.  Maybe this time it was Shay who needed that stability and trust in someone. 





Calling McGarrett’s apartment just after SixAM proved futile.  Suspecting Steve was already out jogging, Dan dressed in shorts and a T-shirt and ran down to Waikiki to try and catch his friend.  He made a few circuits of the area and never spotted McGarrett.  Returning home, he prepared for work, trying once more before he left to make contact -- without luck.


In the car, he received a radio alert from HPD on the fraud case.  That investigation took him to the university until late morning.  By the time Williams arrived at the Palace, McGarrett and Shay were already sorting out the joint operation; assigning Five-0 to tracking two Malaysian terrorists.  Dan was mildly surprised at the new case – following a suspected terrorist and finding a guy known as McBride (no first name) ID’d by NSA as a Pacific/Asian smuggler with possible terrorist links.  Dan went along with his part of the assignment; chasing down McBride.  This mysterious McBride would be hard to miss -- red haired, red mustache and strongly built.  People would remember him.


Shay gave away no expression or comment that indicated they had experienced a confrontation the day before.  They were jumping into a united effort without question.  There was no opportunity to speak privately with Steve, and Dan decided to report his conflict with Shay.  Perhaps the spy had already covered that ground with Steve.  Maybe not.  So Dan was determined to settle the score now.


“Before we get too far into this, maybe Pete would like to explain what he was doing at the scene of the bombing yesterday.”


McGarrett glanced at Williams, then at Shay, then back at Dan.  “Pete said he was running an operation with an informant connected with Tommy Malang.”


“Coincidence,” Pete supplied easily.


”And Pete says it was not terrorists.  I have HPD double-checking just to be sure.”


Dan was alerted.  “Tommy Malang.  Then it’s gem smuggling --“


“My operation,” Pete emphasized clearly, “has nothing do to with your gem smuggling case.  Steve and I already covered that.  Shall we get on with the briefing?”


It could be the truth.  Then why hadn’t Pete said so yesterday?  Dan looked to McGarrett, who simply watched him with impassive silence.


“Anything else, Danno?”


Any interrogation now might seem like petty territorial sniping.  Dan didn’t want to be unfavorably compared to Steve’s old friend.  Deep inside he recognized the insecurities leaping momentarily to the surface.  It was ridiculous.  He was the second-in-command of Five-0.  He had been Steve’s closest friend and confidant for years -- closer than brothers.  An old spy pal moving in on an assignment was not going to change that.  Looking at the passive, mask-like expression of Shay’s, Dan wondered what was really churning behind those dark eyes. 


“No.” Dan restrained from saying more. 


Shay’s manner was brisk.  “Look, Dan, you were not on a need to know basis until last night.  Things changed.  I need your help now.  Satisfied?”


Dan stared at him, unable to discern if that was the truth or not.  He looked to McGarrett.  “Are you?”


Steve smirked.  “I think we can trust him.”


Williams gave a slight nod.  If it was cool with Steve then he had to go along.  Reluctantly.  He still didn’t like Shay’s secrecy.  Supposedly, though, he would have to get used to it. 


By the looks of things, Shay and McGarrett had ironed out all snags in working a case with NSA.  While it made Williams wary, still, he had to admit it was easy work and exactly like any other Five-0 case, so he found no problem in it. Except working with Shay.  Mollifying his unease with a promise to talk to Steve privately about it all later, he listened to an outline of assignments.  Shay suggested they push other cases onto Duke, who would juggle several Five-0 investigations to free up Dan and Steve for the NSA work.


It brought to mind again that they needed another detective or two on staff, but he was not going to mention that sore subject now.  Holidays were not the time to try and replace Chin.  He had mentioned it often enough.  Steve continued to resist.  Impasse.


Checking out a paper trail first, Dan found no trace of a McBride fitting the description of this suspect who had distinctive red hair and a bushy red mustache.  Thinking it was an alias (although Shay had not mentioned that), he ran it through the HPD computer and found seven hits for a McBride working with suspected smuggling operations, but in different spots on the globe besides the Pacific.  Then he tried occupations.  One of this guy’s main covers was as an art dealer.  Knowing many of the art dealers in Hawaii as part of his job, Dan found only two dealers new to the Islands that Five-0 had not dealt with.  Taking the personal approach, he investigated on his own.  It was early afternoon before he returned from the futile trip to Kahala and the long drive up to Kahuku.  Neither of the new dealers were McBride.





Following a lead on a Singapore terrorist, McGarrett also wanted to take some time with Shay so they did a little leg work together.  It had been years since they had really visited and Steve sensed something in the old spy that he couldn’t define.  Perhaps, it was some longing in himself to help an old friend who seemed strung out and at loose ends. 


SALLY’S was the hot spot in Waikiki this year and Steve had a permanent “in” with the owner.  McGarrett was not one for attending the place at the peak hours of the night, but Pete indicated his snitch might frequent such a spot and they could get some information here. 


While absorbing the loud music and exciting atmosphere, Steve was still trying to delve into Shay’s deeper motives because he sensed a hidden agenda.  Or perhaps had not correctly defined the spy’s priorities.  Maybe the joint operation was secondary to Pete’s need for this personal reunion.


Driving back to The Waikikian, Steve cut through the silence with a probing question.  “I’m curious, Pete.  The Sumatra Tigers are not your sole focus this trip, are they?”


In the dark, McGarrett couldn’t read the face very well, and could not shift his concentration long from the clogged traffic of Waikiki.  He sensed, however, Shay tense at the question.


“The threat from the Tigers is real, Steve,” came the careful reply.




He could hear Pete’s smile in the tone.  “You’re right again, Steve.  I’m worn out.  I’m tired of fighting against a tide that always overwhelms the forces of good.”  He sighed.  “You know me, I’ve always been a loner.”




“Like you used to be.  Now, I just feel alone.”


The description was apt for his Naval career.  McGarrett was never a joiner.  Football, yes.  Service, yes.  Clubs, crowds of friends, lots of social activities -- no.  The life of an NI officer seemed to suit him perfectly.  Aloof, distant, removed from the common camaraderie of the ranks.  He never thought he had changed much after signing on to organize and leading Five-0, but at the slanted comment, he understood Shay’s meaning.  He was definitely a part of a tight team now.


“I have a good life,” he assured.  “I never knew what I was missing.”  His staff was his ohana.  That confuse you?”


“No.  I’m just surprised.  I never expected it from you.  And I -- I just wonder if -- nah, nevermind.”


“If you could make the change, too?”


Steve had seen disillusionment and weariness from his other old NI colleagues who were still in the spy trade.  He had seen it in Pete even while they were working together in Japan many years ago.


“I don’t see why not, Pete.  You could always give it a try.”


Shay nodded.  The rest of the trip was completed in silence.  McGarrett felt perhaps the next move was his to make.  What would that move be concerning Shay’s future?




When Williams entered the office all the detectives were out.   He filled out some reports and cleared up paperwork. Several phone calls needed to be made about the finalized security for the upcoming charity ball.  The bombing forced the governor to reconsider the scope of the event and things were thankfully scaled down and precautions strengthened.  That meant more work for HPD and Five-0, but it had to be done.  The train of thought led to his concerns about Shay and the bombing scene and he soon grew dissatisfied with the busy work.  Needing to do something positive to advance their case, he pulled out the picture in his desk drawer.  Studying it, his perception was that Shay seemed to be leaning close to a man in the crowd.  Talking with the man?  A shorter, Asian-looking man.


Just to satisfy his curiosity, he took the picture down to the lab and had the photo enlarged.  Then he sent it over the wires to the various computer databases around the world.  The man could be an informant or just someone asking the time of day.  Dan had to be sure.  He still felt Shay was acting funny, although he appeared completely on track to Steve.





It was nearly dark when Williams’ phone rang.  It was Sergeant Artie Kahana at the computer lab at HPD.  A hit came in on the picture Dan sent out.  The man was known by several aliases but mostly by the name of Jakarta Sunda through Interpol and MI-6.  A Sumatra-born Malaysian, Sunda was suspected of smuggling gems out of Asia and acting as a middle-man for the money to finance drug and gun running.


Thanking Officer Kahana, Dan hung up.  Totally confused, he took out the picture and studied it.  It really did look like Shay was talking to this guy who’s international nickname was Jakarta Sunda.  It was beyond coincidence that Shay was just passing the time of day with a known criminal -- a contact for smugglers and spies centered in Malaysia.  Especially when Shay was here about these Pacific-Asian terrorists.  And Five-0 had been working a case on gem smuggling in the Pacific. 


Why didn’t Shay just tell them the truth?  And would not knowing the real motives behind everything be a danger to Five-0?  That, Dan realized with a stab of fear, was his real concern.  Danger to Steve or Duke while they helped out the spies.  Dan had every reason to harbor anxiety about such possibilities.


Flowing with a current of his own intuition, Dan shifted his focus.  Assuming Shay had some kind of secret motive, he took what facts he knew and tried to work them into a theory.  He scribbled notes on a pad of paper.


















Random pieces that separately meant little.  Together, they wove a list of coincidences.  Sinister or random?


If Steve were here instead of out chasing around with Shay, he would probably agree the coincidences were overwhelming.  Shay was playing them, using them.  Using Steve.  Why?  That was a daring and impudent leap when talking about an old friend of Steve’s.  Or was it?  What was Shay really doing?  Was Shay using them to cover up something NSA was doing here in Hawaii?  Keep Five-0 busy so they did not see what the left hand was doing?


When Steve returned he was going to hear about all of this.  He should not trust Shay too far.


The front door slammed and Dan came to his feet, grabbing the list and pocketing it, expecting the arrival to be McGarrett.  When the cheery voices of children loudly and exuberantly singing Kani Kani Pele -- Jingle Bells in Hawaiian -- he was completely taken off guard.  Then he saw it was Suzi Kelly and four of her young siblings.  The office was suddenly filled with noise, decorations and a party atmosphere.  Mele Kalikimaka and The Twelve Days of Christmas -- Hawaiian style -- rang through the old walls.


Duke let the kids string ornaments and garland on the desks.  While munching on cookies, Dan warned Suzi that McGarrett would probably be removing this when he saw it.  Refusing to be thwarted, she promised she could talk him into keeping the festive decorations. And Dan believed it.


As if on cue, McGarrett and Shay entered amid the confusion.  Shay left almost immediately, not acknowledging Williams or the others.  Dan tried to get Steve aside, but with the Kellys there it was impossible.  Suzi and clan had also brought homemade eggrolls, manapua bread and cookies.  The impromptu ho’o’laulea filled the rooms with laughter and fun, and Dan was reluctant to mention his suspicions to Steve now.


When he had a minute, he drew Steve aside and quietly told him they needed to talk.


Picking up on the serious tone, McGarrett wondered, “Is this about Shay’s business?”


Accustomed to McGarrett’s near-clairvoyant abilities, Dan was not surprised.  “Yeah.”


“You don’t trust him.”


It was not a question.  As he so often was, Dan again felt impressed with Steve’s astute perspicacity and intelligence.  Or perhaps it was just Steve could read him so well.


“Yeah.  I think he’s got an operation on the side he’s not telling us.”


“That wouldn’t surprise me --“


Three of the Kelly children surrounded McGarrett and insisted he try the cookies they had baked.  And sing Christmas carols with them.  He promised to finish the discussion later as Suzi tried to talk him into hanging garland over his door.


As soon as politely possible, Williams slipped away from the festivities -- the incomprehensible image and sound of Steve McGarrett singing Jingle Bells! (in English) -- he laughed at that cherished memory -- burned in his mind.   And Steve wasn't a bad singer, either!


Anxious to get to HPD for that computer report, he did not want to make Suzi mad, so he left as unobtrusively as he could. 


Before he reached the landing of the staircase, he heard Shay’s voice drifting up from the lobby.  Many did not appreciate the tremendous acoustics of the old Palace.  Being a malihini, Shay had no idea his phone conversation could be heard all over the open area in the center of the old Royal residence.  Dan stood back in the shadows of a doorway by the landing and listened.


“ . . . . by the end of next week.”  Pause.  “I told you I would take care of that angle.  By Christmas my position will be secure.  You won’t have to worry again.”


The meaning seemed obscure, with Dan reading between the lines.  All kinds of suspicions and deep intrigues came to mind.


Shay hung up and left.  Dan wondered if he should follow the spy.  Trailing Shay might be dangerous.  The man could easily catch him and then realize he was still suspicious.  No sense letting Shay know about his serious doubts.  Yet.


Using the lobby phone to call the operator, Dan identified himself and asked to know the numbers dialed from that phone in the last few minutes.   Shortly the operator returned, informing two calls were made from the Palace lobby that evening, both in the last six minutes.  Dan jotted down the numbers and next called HPD.  His friend Nephi Hilton was watch commander tonight and he asked the officer to track down all the information possible on who owned the numbers in question.


On the short drive over to HPD, Hilton called him back.  The first number was for the Koko Marina grocery store.  The second to a Ryan McDowell, a jeweler/ gem cutter whose residence/shop was on Kona Street, behind Ala Moana Mall.


Pondering the information, Williams went on with his original mission and drove to HPD.   In the basement computer rooms, he consulted with Officer Kahana.  He looked through the compiled file on Jakarta Sunda, the man seen with Shay.  Various pictures from Interpol, lists of aliases, address of contacts in the East were in the file.   There were a few ties here in Honolulu, but nothing ---


He nearly gasped when he read an arrest report on Sunda.  Last arrest – customs -- Taiwan.  Smuggling precious gems.  Detained but not arrested at the same time was Sunda’s business partner Ryan McDowell!


Sunda, gem smuggler.  McDowell, gem cutter and contact of Shay’s.  Tommy Malang, dead smuggler.   Five-0 had been working on the gem smuggling out of Malaysia before Shay showed up.  Coincidence again or all tied together?


Dan had Kahana check into McDowell’s past.  While waiting, he considered his next options.  Should he call Steve and let him know?  What?  This could all be completely innocent – well – not innocent when dealing with the NSA.  But this could all be part of Shay’s legitimate operations to find the terrorists.  What if Dan interfered and messed it all up by his unauthorized suspicions?  No one would be happy about that kind of a blunder, least of all McGarrett.


“Hey, you got a live one here, Danny,” Kahana commented as he read the computer print out.  “McDowell.  Arrested four times in Asian Pacific countries.  Gem smuggling, drug smuggling.  One count of fraud and one of kidnapping.  Suspected involvement with the terrorists.  Nothing proven.  The Sumatra Tigers he has a supposed connection with but again, no proof.  Isn’t that the group that likes to blow things up?”


“That’s the one.”


“You guys working on that?”


“Not directly.”


“Wow, a real erratic guy.  Anyway, here’s the funny bit.  No convictions.”




“Yeah.  All cases dismissed.  Witnesses failed to come to the trials.”  Kahana wiggled his eyebrows.  “Sounds like intimidation to me.”


“Sounds like,” Dan agreed.


It was an old song and dance favored by criminals.  No witness – no case.  Leaving HPD, he again pondered his options.  Should he bring Steve in on this?  Should he just interview McDowell himself?





Normally Steve discouraged anything so blatant as gaudy decorations and partying in the office.  He could hardly refuse Suzi and the kids and soon warmed to their joy.  It was touching to see the orphaned children forget the pain they must be feeling under the surface and remember the gayety of the holidays.


“I hope you don’t mind,” Suzi mentioned as she offered him a plate of food.


“No.  I’m glad you came.  How are you and the kids doing?”


Against his wishes, Suzi Kelly had come home from a mainland university and joined HPD after graduation  this summer. {fanfic -- FAMILY REUNION}  She was a rookie cop now and it was hard for him to reconcile the dangerous profession with the little girl he had known most of her life.   Hard to accept she was in the same perilous profession that killed her father.  Would Chin have wanted this? 


Steve did not have enough influence with her to sway the headstrong girl from her conviction to join HPD.  Maybe if he had been more involved with the kids?  It probably wouldn’t have worked, but he thought there was room for improvement in that area.  Another direction for second chances in his life.


“We’re good,” she assured with a smile.  “We miss dad terribly, just like we miss mom, still, but we’re getting through this okay.  Duke’s been great.”


“Yeah, I’m glad he’s helping.”


“And I still think you gave me way too much money for my graduation present.  So please don’t break your bank account on these menehune for Christmas, Steve.  Okay?”


He had heard the complaint before and sternly ordered her not to even think about giving any or all of his very substantial funds back.  “You needed it.  You deserved it.  Third in your class at the HPD Academy.  And you’re not going to deny me the chance to help you kids, are you?”


“We’re going to be all right, Steve.  Dad left a good insurance policy.  And my income is steady.  David and Tim are helping.”


“Young doctor’s and barely graduated accountants just starting out don’t make that much money.  Neither do rookie cops.”


“We’ll do fine,” she insisted firmly.  “Mom and dad managed all toese years on only one income and raising eight of us.  Now there’s only a few left at home.  Stop worrying, Steve.”


“I can’t.”


“Then stop feeling guilty.”


Steve looked away, sure his grim expression would momentarily reveal she had hit him right in the heart.  He could not even respond. 


He wasn’t guilty, he told himself.  Was that the truth?  No.  After all these months, he DID still feel the guilt of leaving his officer out too long on the undercover assignment.  His lack of protection and loose operation against a deadly foe cost Chin his life.   The wounds of remorse and loss were still there.  Diminished, yes, but still hurting.




He nodded, but was spared a reply by the young children demanding his attention.  Grateful for the distraction, he tried to avoid Suzi’s probing questions the rest of the evening. 






Deciding he needed to talk this out for his own clarity, Williams found an empty desk and called the Palace.  No answer.  Checking the time, he was surprised more than an hour had elapsed since he left.  Should he disturb Steve over this?  Did it really mean anything important about the gem smuggling?  This must be Shay’s parallel operation.  He should leave it alone.  His suspicions, however, would not die.


Knowing he was being over-zealous, he drove by Kona Street on the way home.  The jewelry shop was closed, but the lights were on.  In the car, he hesitated long enough to pick up the car mic and call Steve on the radio.  There was no response so he replaced the mic and silently pondered as he studied the shop.  What if it was nothing?  What if it was something incriminating against Shay?  To be sure, he should check it out.


Impulsively deciding on a course of action, Dan walked to the store's door and knocked.  They had not known about this connection with Malaysia when investigating their smuggling case.  Maybe Shay’s friend of a friend could shed some light on the gem thieves.  Was he going to blow Shay’s parallel case?  Maybe this would force the spy to take them into the complete operation instead of keeping secrets.  But Steve already sanctioned the sideline activities of Shay.  Was he courting his boss’s displeasure at his actions?  Too late now to worry about that.


A well-built, salt-and-pepper-haired man of middle age came to the door.  Dan displayed his badge and ID through the glass.  Reluctantly he was admitted and the man closed and locked the door behind him.


“Williams, Five-0.  Are you Ryan McDowell?”


The man looked up from the badge and sharply studied him.  “Yeah.  Williams.”  He blinked, then the uncertainty vanished instantly, replaced with a shrewd, guarded stare.  “What can I do for you?”  The accent was British.  The tone and glare unfriendly.  He led the way to the counter.


Noting the area in back, divided by a partially opened curtain, Dan could see little in the ill-lit work room.  There were benches, jeweler’s lights, a metal table bolted to the floor, numerous cutting tools, cabbing and grinding machines.    


Play it coy or go for the throat in true McGarrett-fashion?  Frontal assault style, he decided.  “Tell me what you know about a man known as Jakarta Sunda.”  The eyes flickered.   Dan felt satisfied the go-for-the-jugular approach had been correct.  “And about smuggling Burmese rubies out of Malaysia.”


The following microcosms of time were destiny-moments of decision and fate experienced by enforcement officers many times over.  The suspect poised on the brink of action -- resistance or compliance.  Depending on the reaction, the critical seconds could mean injury or death for either party.  Tensed, sensing the other’s indecision, Dan waited to see which way McDowell would jump.


“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”


“You and Sunda were arrested together in Taiwan last year –“


The man lunged back, dipping into the rear room.  Dan was immediately on top of him, shoving him against a workbench.  The bigger man spun, throwing the heel of his palm toward Dan’s face.  Reactions quick and instinctive, he shifted an instant before impact.  The defensive move enabled him to avoid a fatal blow of a smashed nose bone driven up into his skull. 


Reaching for his revolver as he elbowed McDowell to the wall, his opponent threw fine, dusty powder from the bench into his face.  His eyes burned horribly, instantly tearing against the gritty intrusion.  Barely able to see more than a flickering shadow/shape of a figure from one bleary eye, Dan tried to aim his weapon, but McDowell fought to pry the .38 loose.  They smashed into the work station, McDowell slamming Dan’s right hand against the metal table in an attempt to free the weapon.  Then he slipped one hand away and Dan’s hazy vision recognized he was reaching for a cutting tool. 


Shoving his shoulder into McDowell’s chest, he won leverage of the revolver and fired.  The groan and crash confirmed he had hit his mark.  The man came at him again and wrestled for the gun.  Two more shots rang in the little shop, echoing loudly, hovering cordite stinging the air.  McDowell lurched back.


Staggering, eyes watering, Dan wiped at his eyes with his sleeve.   Feeling and hearing a swish of movement from the curtain he was afraid his man was escaping.  Then a blow struck him on the side of the head and he reeled to the floor, dizzily spiraling to blackness.





The impromptu Christmas party should have left Steve McGarrett pleased at the familial festivity.  The subsequent disturbing emotions, though, were natural for some, but foreign to him.  Normally he was not one to dwell on the past. This year was different.  Chin's death.  Danno's scary kidnapping and brainwashing just a few months ago -- those scaring events left deep anxieties that were still unresolved.


Now, holiday time.  A normal setting for reflection.  For missing those not here anymore.  While it was delightful and fun to interact with the Kelly children, it underscored the reason why they had dropped in en mass.  They needed to be part of something different for Christmas this year because they could not bear the standard traditions without their father.


Months ago, he had fought to resolve the guilt and personal culpability over Chin’s death.  It had taken the intervention of good friends to help him.  And the forgiveness of Suzi and her clan.  Now, he mostly felt the loss, but the lingering guilt might never completely go away. 


Again, he was reminded he needed to do something to involve himself with these children this Christmas.  Out of obligation to those left behind.  Out of his love for his extended ohana.  There had to be something he could do – as Steve – their friend – to make a difference this year.  It was not something he pondered much in the past.  But this was his holiday for second chances, he reminded.  And he would make good with his personal vow.


Many years ago Christmas stopped being a religious holiday for him.  It was just another day for a long time -- a pretense to make his sister happy.  Then in the Navy, drifting from place to place around the world, it was easy to ignore the festivities and the deeper meanings many found in the holiday.


When he finally rooted himself in Hawaii, his universe shrank to a more personal focus.  He interacted with the same people -- his people -- every day.  Soon he adopted them as a large family of caring friends.  Gradually, he discovered hidden treasures in interaction and found a richness in holidays and special occasions that grew in importance because of those relationships. 


At the core of the new found home was the deep and lasting bond of friendship cultivated here with people he considered family.  Ohana.  Work, play, holidays became centered around the new meanings in his life.


Real friendship and connecting to something bigger than self was what Pete Shay was missing.  Steve sympathized.  He had been there once.  Then Steve formed Five-0 and worked closely within a unit -- a specific set of people.  Gradually, he was adopted by them as part of a loose family.  It wasn't until Williams came on the scene that the whole staff seemed to bond together in a truly ohana setting -- a large and caring group family.  They had taken some tough hits -- injuries, death, torture and trials -- but they had come out on top.  Together. 


In this season of forgiveness and bonding and warmth, Steve now clearly defined one of his second chances.  This year was not just for himself, but for Shay, too. 


Driving home, his mind drifted as easily as the warm, tropical breeze blew through the open car window.  It was late and traffic would normally be light as he approached the Ala Moana Mall.  Except it was December.  Holiday shoppers.  He should remember to completely avoid this part of town around Christmas!


Routine HPD radio calls supplied a background as he tapped his fingers on the steering wheel, muttering under his breath about the inconvenience of the Season.  Sirens sounded far away.  Then red lights blinked in his rearview mirror -- the sirens louder in a steady advancement. 


He listened with more attention to the radio and learned there was an alert for Kona Street.  Officer down.  Ambulance and back up required.  Fleeing fugitives.  Officer down.  His skin chilled at the announcement.  Someone he knew?  A call he always hated and he tensed whenever he heard the dreaded words.  When a voice on the radio requested dispatch contact McGarrett -- that Five-0 was involved --


“This is McGarrett!” he snapped into the radio mic.  “What’s happening?”


“We’ve got Officer Williams down.  Kona Street --“


Steve’s temperature plummeted.  “I’m on my way!” 


He threw down the mic and wrenched the steering wheel with both hands, illegally driving over the median and into the mall parking lot -- speeding through the lane around the parking slots and to the back to come out at Kona Street.  He was right here!  Blocks away -- on the other side of the mall -- and something happened to Danno?  Several HPD cars were already there.  An ambulance was just coming down the street. 


McGarrett leaped from his car and raced into the gem shop.  Three patrolmen were surrounding Williams, who was on his back; eyes covered with a cloth and a red-soaked towel was on the back of his head.  Several cuts and scrapes blotched his face.  A rip in the arm of his jacket showed a red stain.




“Steve?”  His voice was thick and slow -- dazed.   “What are you doing here?”


“What happened?” His throat was so tight he could hardly speak as he knelt down next to his friend.


Danno was bleeding, his face covered.  Eye injury?  Head injury?  He didn’t want to speculate on the damage -- better to wait for the doctors to evaluate.  He could only hope for the best.  At least his friend was alive and seemed semi-alert. 


“Are you all right?”


“Long story.  Whacked -- some -- dust -- something -- in my eyes.”


One of the officers explained Williams had a scalp laceration from an injury on the back of the head.  Plus the foreign substance in the eyes.  They gave him an emergency eye wash already with the first aid kit, but they thought he better keep the eyes covered and closed until he went to the hospital.


Steve crouched low to be close to Williams.  “Can you see at all?” 


Dan shook his head, then winced.  “Not really after the dust.”


Steve gulped down a lump in his throat.  “How about after the eye wash?  Better?”


“Not really.”


The officer behind Williams shook his head.  Steve’s heart felt like lead.  “It’ll be okay,” he assured, patting Dan’s shoulder. 


The scene around him settled on his senses finally and he realized this was a jewel cutter’s shop.  The equipment was in disarray; the place a mess.  From the scrapes and rips in Dan’s face and clothing, Steve could imagine what went on.  As he waited for the ambulance medics, one of the officers showed Steve the red spots on the floor.  At least one suspect was wounded -- not too severely by the looks of the sparse drops, Steve concluded. 


The attendants arrived with a stretcher and under protest, Williams was loaded on.  As he waited to board the ambulance, one of the officers showed Steve the blood trail left.  And the trail ended abruptly, indicating a get-away car.  So one suspect was wounded.  A neat escape.  Two suspects.


Then McGarrett climbed into the back of the ambulance, impatient to hear about what had happened.  Why had Williams been out here at a jewelry shop?  More importantly, was Danno going to be okay?  On the short trip to Queens, he received a few answers to his impatient questions, but from the strained responses knew his officer was hurting and finally fell into a strained silence.





McGarrett hovered in the exam room while the doctor checked the patient and assessed the damage.  The initial report on Williams was encouraging.  Mineral dust in the eyes was more serious than the mild concussion.  The eyes were cleaned again and would need to be closed to rest for a few hours.  Bruised facial bones, tissue and minor lacerations would make him sore, as with the hit on the head -- which needed a few stitches -- but all injuries would mend.  


While the doctor finished up, McGarrett slipped out into the hall to talk to the officers first on scene.  An HPD patrol circling the Mall -- part of the extra patrols for the holidays -- heard gunshots from the jewelry shop and stopped to investigate.  Inside the shop, they found Williams.  One officer called an ambulance and the other chased who he thought were the assailants out the back, but never caught anyone.  He wasn’t even sure if there were one or two perpetrators and did not get a good look at anybody, or the car driving away from the scene.  It was too dark for a description. 


Disturbing.  What was Danno doing here in this potentially deadly situation?  Why didn’t he call?  Fortunately, he was alive to answer those questions.


When Steve entered the hospital room again, he pressed his lip together, not completely subduing his sharp intake of sympathetic breath at the sight of his friend.   He had been through this harrowing experience himself -- this injury to the eyes -- blindness -- and it had been a horrifying trial. 


The bandages covering Dan’s eyes gave bright contrast to the scrapes and bruising abrasions on the rest of the face and increased Steve’s concerns.  Intellectually, he knew Danno was going to see again, but the evidence of the injury was startling.





Hurting everywhere above the neck, Williams flinched and moaned as full awareness gradually surfaced and he woke from a nap.  A strong grip held onto his shoulder.


“No sudden moves.  You have a slight concussion.”


Steve.  That was comforting.  He sighed and settled down.  “Why is it so dark?”


“Your eyes are bandaged.  You’ll be all right.  Just a precaution.”  Again, that incredible, reassuring touch and strong, determined voice.  “Don’t you remember what happened?”  There was a scrape of fear in the tone.


“Yeah.  Dust, right?”


“Gem dust.”




“Okay.”  A long sigh.  Relief?  “Nothing serious.  The doctor said the nasty grit in your eyes has been washed out.  You’re bandaged and will be fine in a few hours.  The concussion isn’t supposed to be too bad.  Are you sure you’re okay?”  His shoulder was patted, but the firm hold was still on his arm.  “Can you remember what happened?” 


The disapproval, the twinge of irritation, the anxiety, all so clear in the tone.  He did not need visual confirmation of the emotions.


Thoughts were slow, but he could grasp them.  “I got a lead on the gem smuggling operation.  I went to check it out –“


“Alone?  At night?  No back up?  You didn’t call me!”


“I tried.  And I wasn’t even sure this McDowell was involved.  It was a long shot.” 


“We are dealing with killers and ruthless smugglers and you didn’t think you needed help?  What do you mean you weren’t sure if he was involved?”


Dan hesitated in silence, unsure how much he should disclose.  All, of course -- no half-measures with Steve.  This was harder without sight.  He couldn’t read Steve’s expressions and body language – always very clear and crisp from McGarrett.  He could only rely on instinct and familiarity with his boss, and the tone of the disapproving, stern voice.


“I was playing a hunch.  I --  He bit his lip, knowing this was only going to get worse.  “I overheard Shay talking to someone.  I connected the dots and they lead me to McDowell.  Oh, I shot him, wounded him.  Is he alive?  How did you find me?”


“I didn’t.”  McGarrett tersely explained the events.  “Your suspect had help.  He escaped.  Doesn’t look like he was seriously wounded.” 


Steve almost sounded disappointed at that.  The tightening of the fist on his arm related the irritation from McGarrett as Dan told his side of the story.  Then he demanded Williams continue to give over his explanation of events.


 After Dan relayed all he could remember, Steve continued to interrogate.  “What do you mean you overheard Shay?”


“At the Palace.  He called someone from the lobby.  You know how easy it is -- the acoustics -- and I happened to -- overhear it.  And it sounded kind of -- suspicious.”


He stopped, not wanting to prattle on revealing his nervousness.  He was still worried about receiving gem dust in his eyes, but more concerned about McGarrett's disapproval of his actions.  Silence was probably his best course.  Steve would rail at him -- deservedly -- and then the blast would be over. 


“How are you feeling?” McGarrett almost sighed.


The quiet, soft concern surprised Dan.  Not the angry censure he expected.  That worried him, too.  “Okay. “  The continued apprehension started to trouble him.   “Are you sure my eyes will be all right?”


Steve patted his arm and assured him all would be fine.  No scratching of the eyes.  Then he asked Dan to continue his story.  After he completed the loose series of clues, he stopped, not sure if Steve was still angry at him or Shay or both.


“So, you’re mad.  I don’t blame you.”


Again, the strong squeeze on the shoulder.  “At you, no.  I think you’ve paid the price for neglecting to call back up.  I’m not too pleased at Shay.”


Finding wicked satisfaction in that, Dan boldly explained a little more of his ideas.  Shay was running his own operation, but was it a parallel or even an obstruction to their own gem smuggling case?  If so, why did he not tell them?  Steve must have wondered the same thing.


Fishing in his pocket, Williams was glad the note was still there.  He handed it over to McGarrett.  "This will explain -- well -- it's just kind of my mental tally of that's going on, Steve.  There's more than coincidence about Shay's activities."    


Sitting on the bed, McGarrett released his hold on Dan’s arm, but kept a light touch on him throughout the conversation.  Dan could hear the crunch of paper, deducing his boss was reading the notes.  Intrigued, curiosity coming through his voice, McGarrett commented, expounded on a few theories, but it was clear from his curt, subdued tone he was not impressed with the random listing of points, and still unhappy with the night’s events on several levels.


“You both kept information from me.”


McGarrett’s voice held such disappointment, Dan flinched.  “Sorry.  I wanted to know more before I said anything.

There was an edge to the retort.  “I don’t need protection, Danno!  I need the truth.  You have suspicions listed here, but no conclusions.  No proof.  What do you think is going on with Shay?”


Dan hedged, not wanting to cause his friend more disappointment -- not wanting him to be disenchanted in Shay unnecessarily.  Steve gave his loyalty completely and profoundly to a favored few.  If Shay deserved it once, then maybe he still deserved it and Dan was being overly suspicious of the spy games.  Duke WAS right, the spook stuff scared him after his run in with brainwashing and Jin Wu.


“I don’t know.”


“Well, I’m going to find out.”





Simmering with anger over Williams’ encounter with the criminal McDowell -- who had not yet been captured -- Steve pondered the events, believing there had been an accomplice.  Someone else in the shop had probably delivered the sucker blow to the back of Danno’s head, although Dan couldn’t clearly remember that part of the fight.


McDowell and someone else -- possibly -- were suspected of running from HPD at the scene.  Also disturbing was Shay’s secrecy.  Danno's list of happenings -- coincidence or solid leads?  Subterfuge was what he expected from the NSA, but it was a personal betrayal from one he considered a friend.  Shay HAD warned he had his own operation running, but the spy also knew that Five-0 had been working on the gem smuggling case and specifically denied involvement.


When the doctor arrived, the bandages came off and Steve nearly held his breath.  Having experienced his own brief tryst with blindness, he felt apprehensive now at this moment of crisis.  The doctor assured him Danno’s sight would return, but there was still that little element of doubt until he knew for certain -- had Williams look him in the eyes.


When Dan squinted in the dimly lit room, immediately seeking out Steve, McGarrett smiled.  “Okay?” he wondered, his voice thick with worry.


“A little bleary, but fine.”


Releasing a nervous, shaky laugh, Steve patted his friend’s shoulders.


“So I can go home?” Williams asked in more of a statement than a question.


The doctor gave his permission for the patient to leave as long as he rested for a few days.  He issued some prescriptions and left.  Williams prepared to leave.  Then the door suddenly burst open and Shay, his expression dark and foreboding, momentarily glared at McGarrett. 


Instantly he shifted his focus and snarled at Williams.  “You blew my whole operation, hot shot!”  The spy advanced on the patient who was just shouldering into his jacket.  “You lousy -- “


McGarrett bodily stopped the intruder.  “That’s enough, Pete!”


“Do you know what your ambitious detective did?”


“I’ve heard.  Now you better cool down and tell me –“


“His playing cop games blew my informant for the terrorists!”  He nearly spit at Williams, jabbing a finger toward him.  “You killed McDowell!” 


Williams sharply gasped. 


Shay lunged forward.  “I told you he was out for his own glory!”


McGarrett shoved back, pushing his old friend to the wall.  Steve had his attention on Williams’ reaction to Pete’s news, then redirected his energies on the raging Shay.  “We’ll discuss this tomorrow in my office.  There’s nothing that can be done tonight.” 


The spy’s eyes blazed at the younger detective.  “You murdered my informant!”


“It was self-defense,” Dan countered.


“You can see what he did to Danno,” McGarrett defended harshly.  “If he had nothing to hide why did he put up such a fight against a state police officer?  It didn’t look like he was too badly hurt.  Where’s the body?”


“Where the terrorists can’t find it.  I’ve got to salvage my operation thanks to --“ Shay made a move again toward Williams.


“Pete!”  Steve’s teeth clenched with anger. “You are going to leave my detective alone.  He had a legitimate right to interview a suspect in one of OUR cases.  A suspect that you kept secret from us!”


Pushing McGarrett away, Shay sullenly, lividly, hovered near the door, his fists balled, his glare still staring murder at the younger detective.  “I told you I had an operation running!  Did you forget how much that means?  The asset is invaluable as an operative!  McDowell is gone and the terrorists are probably onto me!  My usefulness here in the Pacific arena is ruined!”


McGarrett sighed, glancing briefly at Williams who was still wary and upset.  “Pete, let’s discuss this tomorrow.  You need a chance to cool down.”


Shay shoved out the door without a reply.  Steve sighed at Williams, saying he would be right back.  Joining Pete in the hall, he again tried to sooth the spy.  Nervous now, Shay lit a cigarette and paced. 


“I can’t go back to my hotel.  I can’t contact my people.  My whole network is compromised.  Thanks to –“


“Pete –“


The spy blew smoke through his teeth.  “Okay, okay.  I’m in the secrecy business, Steve.  I don’t share.  I’m not part of a team.  I am the team.  Until I know what is going on I have to go into hiding.  The whole terrorist case is in jeopardy until I find out who I can trust again.”  He stared at McGarrett.  “Can I trust you?”


“You know you can.”


“Then find me a safe place.”


“I will.”  He scribbled out the address of his beach house on a piece of paper.


Shay nodded.  “Okay.  Maybe we can salvage something.  But from now on you keep Williams out of this operation.”


Bristling at the savagely adamant command, McGarrett's anger returned.  He had momentarily sympathized with his old friend, but now his attitude cooled.  “He was doing his job and I need him on this.  This is MY team, Pete.  I dictate personnel assignments, not you!”  His temper cooled as a reality reminder hit him again when he thought of Chin Ho.  “And we’re a man short.”


Snorting, Pete blew smoke rings in the air.  “Yeah.  Okay.  Well, if I can’t put this back together, I’ll apply for the job cause NSA will have my hide.”


“That bad?”




Knowing he had to help, he handed Shay the address to his beach house in Aina Haina and told him to meet there in an hour.  He returned to the hospital room to find Williams leaning on the bed.  His face was scraped, and he blinked a lot, but otherwise seemed fine. No, he was not fine, he was extremely tense, anxious and pale.


“Steve, I’m really sorry --“


“Danno, I don’t blame you.  Not for defending yourself.  And not for doing your job.  I’m not very happy about your methods, though.  Why didn’t you tell me?  I could have gone with you!”


Dan squinted at him, as if it hurt his eyes even in the low light of the exam room.  “I thought there was --“ he shrugged uncertainly.  “Something -- going on with Shay.  I didn't want you -- if he had something up his sleeve you might get burned --  I didn’t mean to blow his operation -–“


He sharply interrupted, “Danno, let’s sort it out later.”


Temper simmering, McGarrett could not fault his friend -- this friend -- for the instinctive loyalty.  Danno would do anything for him and frequently went out of his way to protect Steve.  What a mess.  Stuck between Shay and his crumbling operation and Danno and his over-extended loyalty.


“Steve --“ He paused, biting his lip, his brow scrunched with concern.  “I think Shay is hiding the whole gem smuggling connection from us.”


In theory, Steve had to agree,  but Shay was also in trouble now, thanks to Danno’s investigative efforts -- thanks to Five-0.  So he was going to have to fix it.  He told Williams not to worry, but could see the advice did not help.


As he drove his detective to Williams’ condo, McGarrett thought through the last few days, examined his feelings and the opportunities that came and went in their lives.  On a bigger scale, he pondered the strange collision of past and present with the arrival of Shay at this auspicious time.  Shay’s career was teetering, just as Five-0 had been rocked six months ago.


“I’ll get Shay to give me the whole picture tomorrow.”


Dan was guarded.  “You think he will?”


“Yeah.  Pete is going to be in trouble over this, Danno.  I think he’ll be a team player now.  If he gets ousted from the NSA I’m going to offer him a place with Five-0.”


The gasp was a clear indication of Williams’ idea of that proposal.  “I guess I don’t have to ask if that’s a joke.”


“No.  I know things aren’t smooth between you two, but once this blows over I don’t think there will be a problem.”  He could almost hear his colleague’s brain-wheels turning.


“He’s a spy, Steve, not a cop,” Williams carefully commented.


“So was I.”


“That’s different.”


“Not a lot.”  He didn’t have to glance across the front seat to sense the disapproval.  “You didn’t know me then.”


“I know you now.  And I bet you were never like Shay.” 


Steve had no comment for that observation.  “You don’t like the idea, I know.  Eventually, I think you can work together.  Just give him a chance.”


“I don’t trust him,” Dan countered honestly.  “I still think he’s up to something.  Steve, before you give him the offer, let me check out this operation –“


“Oh, no, not a chance.  You are going to take tomorrow off.  The doc said to rest 


“I can’t just be beached –“
“As of now you are!  I’ll deal with Pete.  You get well.  I’m meeting with him later.  I’ll drop by tomorrow and let you know what’s going on.”


“Steve, I know he’s your old friend, but watch it, please.”


The sincere, dire warning sent chills along his spine.  As usual, Williams was watching his back and this time he knew there was a reason for it that he couldn’t quite discern.  A legitimate one?  He would bet yes.  Danno was not the type to be swayed by jealousy.  Insecurity, yes.  Self-doubt, yes.  But his intuition was as good and as trusted as Steve’s own.  Now, in this difficult situation, he had to just lean on Danno’s instincts as much as he relied in himself and his hunches.


“Okay, Danno.  I’ll go slowly.  I’ll do some checking tomorrow myself.  You take it easy.  I’m going to need you later.”


Reluctantly, Williams gave an unenthusiastic agreement.






When McGarrett arrived at the beach house, he was surprised at how readily Pete made himself at home.  But then, he was a man who landed on his feet as a matter of survival.  The anger displayed at the hospital was gone, smoothed over by a confident coolness that seemed second nature to the covert operative.


They sat on the back lanai and Steve asked for more details about the terrorist cell Shay was tracking.  Only giving over generalized, vague comments, the spy offered nothing definitively new or concrete.  Asked about the gem smuggling connection, Shay flatly denied any link between terrorists, his case, and Five-0’s case.  Steve sensed there was something not shared.  The continued secrecy irked he and he again demanded his old friend be completely honest or he could not help him.


"What did you do with McDowell's body?"


"It's a big ocean, Steve.  Sharks will take care of evidence so my enemies can't find it."


The answer heartily displeased the cop.  "You are concealing --"


"I'm covering your cop's murderous rage!" he snapped back.  "You should be thanking me!"


Irritated, Steve knew nothing could be done now about the body.  "I need your full disclosure, Pete."


“You’re asking me to violate what’s kept me alive for twenty-five years.”


“Maybe it’s time you let go of the suspicions.”


Shay could not dismiss it that easily.  “I should have been more guarded with your man.  He was sharper than I gave him credit for.”


“That happens a lot.  His value is constantly underestimated.”


Shay smirked.  “Clever, Steve.  Let the kid do the dirty work and you sit back and watch.  Old ploy.  I shouldn’t have fallen for it.”


“Danno was working on his own, not under my direction.  But he was right.  You should have leveled with us.  You know about our gem smuggling case.  You put my man and yours in a dangerous position.”


“Williams did by investigating on his own.  He’s imagining a connection with your case and my operation. I keep telling you they’re not related.  Now you’re believing his fantasies instead of my word?”


Staring down the hard glare, McGarrett momentarily wondered who was right -- who was telling the truth?  Danno could be mistaken.  Shay seemed so certain.  Reason dictated the experience was on Pete’s side.  On the other side, Steve was inclined to rely on the solid foundation of Williams’ skill.  Danno could be wrong, but McGarrett's instincts and the knowledge of his officer's character lead him to believe otherwise. 


Steve didn’t address the rancor in the jab.  “He’s following his instincts and I support him in that.  He was doing his job with his usual assertive energy.  Can you prove him wrong?”


Pete looked away and shook his head, not surrendering, just assessing with a smirk.  “He’s got a real hold on you, Steve.  You’re making me wonder again who’s running the show.”


The aggravating challenges annoyed McGarrett.  It reminded him of the early days of Five-0; his long-gone former second-in-command Nohea.  Sometimes the constant competition and abrasive disagreements were good to keep a cop on the edge.  Now, Shay’s harping grated on his nerves.


“If you have any doubts then you’ve lost all your observation skills.”


Laughing, Shay glanced back, amused.  “Okay.  Sorry.  You know I get sharp when I’m mad.  I still don’t forgive your cop for blowing my operations.  But, I have to admit, he’s determined.  You know, with some decent training, he could make a pretty good spook.”


“He’s just fine as a cop.  The best I have.”  Steve still felt a little resentful of the digs against Five-0, his friend, himself.  But Pete deserved to be bitter, his operation had fallen apart because of Danno. 


“Steve McGarrett’s best, huh?”


“Almost sounds like you’re jealous, Pete,” he countered, trying to lighten the edge to the conversation. 


Pete silently pulled out a packet of smokes and started to light up, but Steve snatched away the cigarette and handed it back.  “No smoking in my house.”


Shay smirked.  “Things have changed.” 


“Change is good sometimes.”  Darkly, Steve flashed to a memory of Chin and twinged at the acrid taste of the forced alterations in his life in the last six months.  “Sometimes,” he sighed.


Shay stood beyond the edge of the deck, lit up and blew wafting rings into the fluttering breeze off the lanai.  He never acknowledged the comment about jealousy. 


“Change.  Maybe.  Maybe that’s what I’m looking for is change.  Remember, though, it’s hard for me to be a team player.”


“You can learn,” Steve tested, not sure where they were headed with this conversation. 


“I don’t know if I believe in second chances.”


“I do,” McGarrett countered quickly, with certainty.  He was counting on it this season.  Maybe it could help Pete, too.  “Maybe you can give it a try.”


The muteness gained a measure of sympathy from Steve.  Maybe Shay really did long for the amazing life Steve had built here in Hawaii.  Maybe Pete really did want to be in on the unit and be part of something solid and good as opposed to the shady world he inhabited now. 


There was, however, a reluctance within McGarrett to be too open with his old friend.  Why?  Danno’s warning and overt distrust of the man?  Some sixth sense premonition that Shay WAS concealing more?  A reluctance to put Dan and Duke’s lives at stake for a spy game?  All of those reasons, he decided.  He wanted to trust Pete – and would – to a point.  Always in the back of Steve’s mind, however, was the loss of Chin.  He could not do anything to unnecessarily risk the lives of his two detectives.





Appalled that Steve would consider bringing Pete into Five-0, Dan sympathized with the position of his boss.  After losing Chin, McGarrett was hit hard.  It took months of slow recovery for him to really get back on track.  Now an old friend shows up and needs help.  Worse, through Dan’s own precipitous actions he had pushed Shay into the desperation of needing an escape from the spy business!  Sometimes Dan hated irony.


In a unique position to help, McGarrett felt this might be the solution to two problems.  Dan still didn’t trust the spy.  Despite his error in judgment at going to the gem shop and accidentally killing McDowell, there was something wrong here and Dan had to know what.  To counter the addition of Shay, Dan had to have real proof that Shay was still using Five-0 and McGarrett for his own ends. 


Williams went back to the beginning and worked the Jakarta Sunda angle of the terrorist link most of the day.  His eyesight, after resting overnight, was pretty good.  Wearing his darkest sunglasses helped enough for him to drive.  He spent time searching out haunts of Sunda and McDowell;  tracking down informants.  Even calling Hong Kong and Taiwan PDs – at his own expense – to dig up more details on either McDowell or Sunda, whom he felt were the key to Shay. 


Evening brought him no more information.  Frustrated, he decided to check out a nearly forgotten lead, so he drove out to Hawaii Kai to investigate Shay’s phone call to the marina.  The night clerk at the small grocery store was questioned.  Thinking ahead, Dan had brought the photo of Shay and Jakarta.  He was rocked when the clerk admitted seeing both men!  The news chilled him.  So, Shay really was in league with a suspected terrorist. 


Okay, they already knew that, right?  This was proof, however, that Shay was lying to them.  Again, he could justify it, saying it was part of his covert mission.  While Dan felt this confirmed his suspicions, it proved nothing about duplicity or Shay having a counter agenda to Five-0.


“Also, a guy with red hair comes in with this grey-haired guy.  Stays on his boat.  Red mustache, red hair, hard to miss.  One of those foreign guys.  Always buys cigarettes and beer.”


Dan felt numb.  He was dismayed to hear this red-haired man also frequented Shay’s boat.  The clerk remembered taking a phone order from someone on Shay’s boat the night before. 


"It was a sizable order to be delivered to slip one-forty-one.  Like in preparation for a trip.  A white cabin cruiser with blue trim at the far end of the docks.  A boat rented by the red-haired man, Mr. McBride."


“McBride?  Are you sure?”


“Yeah, friendly guy.  Always buys smokes and beer.  Bought groceries last night.  Says he’s going on a trip.”


Chilled inside, Williams decided he better contact Steve.  How to tell his friend that Shay was running a side game that was incredibly complex and deceiving -- one Dan hadn’t figured out yet.  Was Shay in league with a gem smuggler and terrorists?  Why have Five-0 chasing McBride when Shay knew him?  Had him in hiding?  And where did Jakarta and McDowell fit into all this?  Dan really believed they were all involved with Five-0’s original gem smuggling case.  How and why?  Dan still had no proof these men were anything beyond spies working their own mission.





Changed into casual clothes, Steve sat on his lanai watching the lights glitter in the dark ribbon of the canal, unsettled at the day's events.  His joint operation with Pete was not what he expected.  As usual, NSA had attempted to take over, dictating terms to Five-0 just as every other agency of the Federal government tried.  With a twist, Danno had botched Shay’s operation and now Five-0 was in the unique position of mending an NSA operation.


Grimacing, he distastefully ruminated on Danno’s natural curiosity to find out the truth.  This time it nearly got him killed.  Because Pete was hiding elements of the case from them.  The rift, purely business, was disturbing, because Steve was enjoying working with Pete again and feeling like the reunion was an omen.  Of healing and renewal.  Second chances.  He started to believe maybe Five-0 -- he -- could finally move in a new direction again after Chin’s death.  


What about bringing Pete into the fold?  Danno certainly opposed it and that gave Steve serious pause in his plans.  Williams wasn’t seeing the whole picture, was he?  This little mess had not been much of a success.  Not as smooth as working with his other old colleagues: Oscar, Napoleon, Jonathan. 


Shay, though, was interested in a place in Five-0.  Maybe it would be a good idea to put someone he knew on the team -- fill Chin’s old spot with a known commodity.  Could Shay fit into the mold of a cop, though, after the tough life of a spy?  Steve had, but he was not so entrenched then in the nasty business as Pete was now.


From the small table on the lanai he picked up the note Danno had scribbled.   A list of supposedly incriminating coincidences.  Given any other case, Steve would accept this as overwhelming cause to distrust Shay, but he could not bring himself to do that.


The phone rang and he sighed deeply, knowing it had to be work related.  Feeling a little old and somber, he wanted nothing more than to relax at home tonight.  He still planned on going over to check on Danno and bring dinner.  A late dinner.   After he had a chance to relax.  The phone rang for a third time and he crossed the room to answer it, still thinking about Shay and what it would be like to bring his old friend into the mix of Five-0. 




“Steve, Dan.  I’ve found something . . .” The voice of his colleague was strained and unsettled.  It immediately put Steve on edge.  “I think it’s a connection between the terrorists and the jewel smuggling.”




“Yeah, I -- well -- you better join me -- I’m at Koko Marina.  I’ll meet you at the grocery store -- I’ve found a few things that are going to surprise you.  Not in a good way.”


Concerned at the cryptic message and the strain in Danno’s voice, McGarrett was instantly worried.  His trepidation caused him to lash out at his friend. “What are you doing working?  You’re supposed to be at home resting!  Are you on your own again?”


“I couldn’t just sit around, Steve after how I blew everything yesterday.”


“Danno, I don’t blame you --“


“But I do.  Listen, Steve, just get down here.  I need to explain this all in person.”


“All right.  I’m on my way.” 


Steve grabbed his keys and raced out.  So Danno had been right.  Hunting on his own and found – what?  His younger colleague’s voice sounded tight with apprehension.  Anxiously, McGarrett sped toward Hawaii Kai.





Knowing he was finally onto something, Dan could not stand idly by and do nothing while waiting for Steve.  If he had real, solid proof linking Shay with Jakarta, McBride and McDowell, the case he presented to McGarrett would be much stronger.  Steve was going to be pretty unhappy about Shay’s duplicity and using Five-0 for some unspecified end.   Without solid proof, it would look like Dan was just opposing Shay.  Which he did.  Especially about the spy coming into Five-0.  Dan wanted this to be more convincing than a grudge match.  He needed proof.


He formulated a theory while he walked out to the last dock.  Was McBride involved with McDowell, Sunda and Shay – or was he pretending to be either of the two men?  An alias.  A disguise?  If so, Shay had been leading Five-0 on a wild chase for days.  Why?  The theories grew more absurd with each step into the twilight-lit dock.  McDowell was dead.  McBride seemed alive and well in Shay’s pocket.


Again, it all came back to his original hunch, that Shay was using them.  To protect terrorists?  To protect smugglers?  That seemed more likely.  It wouldn’t be the first time an undercover spy got too close to his work and melded in with the bad guys.  That would also explain his attempts to distract Five-0 from the smuggling case and have them chase terrorists that didn’t exist.


In the last, hinted glow of twilight, Dan found the cabin cruiser and approached with caution.  No lights were on inside.  Not sure what he expected, he drew his revolver and carefully scanned the area.  There were no slip neighbors nearby.  Most of the other boats were on docks closer to the shops.  This one -- the Moana Hale -- was isolated.  He jumped aboard.


From this point on, no matter what he found, it would be inadmissible in court.  That legality seemed insignificant.  He felt they were playing in a different ocean this time with no rules except survival.  He wasn’t even sure who the players were, except that inadvertently or purposely, McGarrett and Five-0 had been drawn into the fray.


Boats were small places with few spots to conceal secrets.  Still, the hidden compartment behind the table and bench was almost missed.  Only his knocking on the wood looking for hollow spots revealed it. 


In an awkward place that discouraged casual searches, Dan pried loose a false front of wood with his fingernails.  Inside the small cubby-hole was a velvet pouch.  It was heavy, and opening it, he brought it into the light of the cabin.  Gems.  About a pound worth of glittering baubles that he couldn’t totally identify in the dim light from the twilight-exposed window.  Nor could he guess at the monetary value.  Slipping a few gems into his pocket, Dan replaced the sack.


Stepping out onto the deck, he was suddenly slugged in the face and sent sprawling back into a soft barrier.  Strong and unyielding arms held him tight as his head rang and throbbed, his vision blurred to nearly black.  Shay came into near-focus and slugged him in the stomach, driving out his air.  Another blow to the stomach left him gasping for the next breath, cringing in pain.


“So you found what you were looking for, Dick Tracy.”


“You’re part of the smuggling operation,” Dan gasped.


“Yeah.  But you’re not going to live to tell anyone.”


Arms suddenly, cruelly, twisted tight behind him, he groaned. 


“He was on the elimination list anyway,” a near-familiar British-accented voice from behind commented.


"McDowell?" Dan wondered.


“Yeah,” Shay growled.  “And you're too competent at your job, detective.  You’re a threat.  Too bad poor Steve is going to lose two cops in the same year.  Guess he’ll have to hire old pal Pete to make up for it.” 




Dan fought to free himself, but the grip holding him was too tight, the strength and leverage of his opponent too formidable.  His weapon was confiscated.  In his struggle, he managed to wriggle to his knees, only to be grabbed and pulled up again.  In that brief glimpse, he confirmed his captor was McDowell.


“I thought you were dead!”


“You hurt me,” McDowell admitted and viciously twisted Dan’s arms again.  “Your turn now.  “You’re the one who’s dead.”


Moaning from the pain, Dan maintained his defiance.  “Steve is going to see right through you!” he yelled, hoping his shout would attract some attention, but the dock seemed empty at this end.  “He won’t let you get away with this!”


“Like I got away with the bombing at the market?”


Dan suppressed another wheezed surprise.  Shay had been playing them along even worse than he suspected.  He had never guessed it was this evil -- and now it was too late to save his life or to warn Steve.


Shay almost laughed with delight.  "I am actually looking forward to getting rid of you, Williams.  You are a real pain.  And just as satisfying, I am going to prove you so wrong.  Contrary to what you keep telling me,  Steve has not seen through me.  He won't.  Your exclusive little Five-0 is not a private club anymore."  The spy was filled with amusement.  "Steve described you as being loyal to a fault.  Guess you are, Williams.  Cause the fault is that you got caught and you'll pay for that with your life." 


Anger, fear and frustration boiled inside.  Furiously trying to think of a way to save himself, Dan was livid at the threats, at the betrayal.  Unquestionably loyal to McGarrett, he could not understand how an old colleague could stab his friend in the back like this.  The irony was bitter -- he would do anything for Steve -- die for him -- and ultimately, he guessed, WOULD die now because of that loyalty.  He was about to be replaced by a murderous traitor. 


Angrily, he fought to free himself, frustrated rage burning inside.  "Why?  Why betray Steve?  Why the bombing?”


“Tying up loose ends.  Making it appear the Sumatra Tigers were here so Steve would give me more influence.  And that's what I need from my old pal is his power.  Rather, the power of Five-0.”


"With Pete on the inside," McDowell muttered viciously, yanking back on Dan's arms, "we have an inside track.  Smuggling operations will have a free track. 


"Steve won't be fooled," he assured


"He already is," Pete smiled.


From just in back of his ear, the malevolent McDowell spat, “Five-0 is a thorn in our side.  Bombs are always good at getting someone’s attention and easy to copy a style.  Tommy Malang was a problem.  Just like you.  You know what we do with problems.”


“And you killed all those innocent people just to cover his murder?”


“Yeah, life’s tough,” Pete shrugged.


“Steve will get you --“


McDowell punched him until he was limp, then they maneuvered him to the back of the boat.  “Not this time, cop.”


Seeing his own revolver in Shay’s hand, Dan knew what was coming next -- the greatest ignominy for a cop -- killed by his own weapon.  Dan was not going to let that happen!  He elbowed McDowell, wrestling to get free.  He managed to pry out of the grasp and stumbling to the deck, scrambled to reach the edge.  At the same instant, he heard the gunshots -- hot strikes singe his back.  Pain burning inside, he crawled to the side and managed to hitch over the edge of the boat to drop into the water.


More bullets sang around him as he let his body drop.  When he was too deep for the projectiles to touch him, he swam across toward the dock.  With the pain now resonating all over and affecting his strength, he sank, his chest hurting with an almost debilitating ache.  As much as he tried -- fought -- to push more power into his limbs, he could feel the energy drain from him quickly as a chill filled him with almost numbing slowness.  It felt like he was choking and no longer had the power to hold his breath.


The boat’s propellers started up as he plunged deeper and farther out of the way, avoiding a collision with the deadly blades.  Now, though, he kept dropping despite his efforts to swim straight.  Holding his breath, his chest seemed about to burst -- mind having trouble focusing on his goal.  It seemed all he could do was keep treading, yet it did not stop from sinking deeper into the dark water.


The effort of avoiding his captors cost him and he felt faint and dizzy, vision clouding, his air spent.  Fighting to stay conscious, he struggled toward the surface, his right arm no longer expending much power.  Drifting down, he battled against the darkness, the water, the fading energy, to ascend.  Then his shoulder collided with something solid. 


Able to hang onto a support, he laboriously raised himself up to the surface with the aid of the ladder attached to the dock.  Gasping for air, weak from the effort, he tried to call out but could not make a sound except a hacking, choking cough.  It felt like he was being strangled.  Unable to coax any more energy from his limbs, his grip on the ladder slackened and he felt himself floating away in the gentle, lapping waves, wondering why the tropical Pacific had suddenly turned so cold.





Walking around the corner of the set of shops ringing the marina, McGarrett heard shouting several docks away.  It was dark, difficult to see details at this distance with a lack of strong dock lights, but he did note that several people were talking -- yelling.  Flashlights were strafing the water.  Was that somebody lying on the dock?  A man came running his way and Steve briskly moved toward him.


“What’s going on?”


“A guy’s been shot!  They just pulled him out of the water!  I’ve got to find a phone!  Can you call the police?”


“I am the police.”

McGarrett broke into a dead run, trying to close out the dread that clutched at his throat.  Why did he immediately think -- fear -- the worst?  He was supposed to be meeting Danno at the grocery store!  Terrorists.  Gem smugglers.  It could mean extreme danger and the report of a body on the dock instantly threw him into a surge of anxiety.  Did he suspect something had gone wrong with Shay?  With chasing a suspect?  With Danno?  He didn’t know, except that a twisted feeling in his stomach told him to expect terrible events from this case.  As he raced up to the scene, he knew Danno’s disquiet added to this grim event surged him into instant concern.


Two people crouched by the downed man.  Steve pushed his way through, gasping when his worst fears were confirmed and he saw the wet body on the deck was Danno!


Falling to his knees next to his unconscious friend, he immediately noted blood bubbling out of a bullet hole in the chest.  Sucking chest wound.  Covering the wound with his hand, he demanded Dan talk to him, but the labored breathing proved he was probably not getting enough oxygen to stay conscious.  Blood seeped around his palm and trickled from Dan’s mouth.


“Danno!”  He had to stay with him -- had to.  “Come on, Danno!”


The severity of the wound was terrifying to Steve.  The crisis numbed reason, logical thought and cop procedure.  It drove out the instincts of action and necessity.  Emotions ran riot with panic, as he felt the tepid, viscid blood flow through his fingers; shivered from the sense of shock that clouded out everything but the extreme horror of stunning tragedy.


Steve wanted to say something to encourage his friend to keep breathing, to not panic, to assure that everything would be fine.  The empty platitudes jumbled in his mouth.  Inside he was torn with agony.


“Come on, Danno!”  He repeatedly pleaded.  “Danno!”


Williams’ eyes barely opened.  His hand reached up and weakly gripped McGarrett’s arm.  “Ste -- ve,” he rasped, then coughed as the blood gurgled in his throat.


McGarrett covered the cold hand with his, ignoring Dan’s sticky blood bonding them together in a tacky grip.  Was Danno trying to keep him there -- afraid he would not be close by?  Afraid he would leave?


“I’m here,” he whispered, his voice quavering thickly.


Dan’s eyes seemed distant; not quite focused.  In obvious, tremendous pain, Steve didn’t want his friend to waste air on conversation. 


“Don’t talk, Danno.  Ambulance is on the way.  Just breathe.”  Just stay alive, please, he silently pleaded. 


It was his worst nightmare materialized.  Grave, grievous wounds plunging his friend to the brink -- desperately clinging to consciousness -- maybe life. 


Dan’s grip weakened and McGarrett held on tighter, afraid to let go.  “Who did this, Danno?” he hoarsely asked.  It didn’t seem so important in the anguish that pooled in his heart, but he felt perhaps Danno wanted to tell him.  Tell him something.  Dan’s lips parted, but he coughed out blood instead of words.


“Ste --  Ste -- ve,” he rasped, coughed, blood gurgling.


The moment was a torturous twist in slow motion.  He knew his friend so well and understood that Dan comprehended it all perfectly -- thought he was dying.  Steve could not utter a word to refute the fear because he shared it, too.


Dan fought to get enough air and McGarrett tried to calm him, staving off the terrifying helplessness of watching his friend dying -- choking -- a heartbeat at a time.  He could see in Dan’s eyes he knew what was happening -- he couldn’t draw in enough air to breathe!  Williams understood that a wound this serious could be quickly fatal; that he could suffocate on his own blood before the ambulance arrived.  The edge of dread washed across his wan face.  Panic was the last thing Dan needed. 


Fighting to be controlled and the example of calm stability, Steve swallowed his own alarm and kept his voice level and smooth. 


“Help’s on the way,” he barely managed to mumble.  “Hold on.” 


There was every chance Danno would not live through this he knew, chilled at the terrifying reality of the moment.  What if these were the last few minutes he would spend with his friend?  He could not accept or even comprehend such an ultimatum, but the possibility was too valid.  What did he want Danno to know?   How could he offer comfort?  Did he want some final piece of wisdom to depart with his friend?  He couldn’t stand the thought that this was the end!  He could not give up!


What if that was what Danno was asking in his strained struggle to speak?


There had never been a chance to say aloha to Chin.  No gratitude for loyalty and friendship and service.  Was that how he wanted to spend his last moments with Danno?  He had the chance to change that.  Would he now?


“Danno --“


Williams' eyes seemed to no focus on him anymore.


No -- he could not surrender.  He could not admit defeat -- that Death could take him now.  Steve was not ready to let go.  He would not say good-bye -- could not.  Not even if Danno wanted him to.


Williams’ eyes closed.  McGarrett gripped onto him, whispering encouragement, desperate to assure both of them that he would not leave -- would not let go.  Dan drifted in and out of awareness in an agonizing stasis of non-time.  It seemed that everything around him had stopped, and McGarrett’s world folded down to the rattling breaths laboring to escape Williams’ ripped chest -- or the hold on the chill hand limply gripped in his own. 


Where was the ambulance?  Steve noted two -- what looked like exit wounds? -- one in the chest, one closer to the shoulder.  Shot in the back?  He wasn’t going to move Dan to find out.  The exit wounds were the most dangerous -- the biggest and heaviest bleeding . . . .


They had to hurry.  Danno was already in shock and bleeding out.  With this kind of injury the shock alone could be fatal.  With the collapsed, torn lung, things were bad enough.  Reduced intake of oxygen into the body, less oxygen getting to the brain, blood loss into the sac around the heart -- he knew the medical details.  Had experienced a collapsed lung before, even.  He couldn’t stop imagining how hard Dan’s heart had to be pumping to just keep the body going.  Steve’s heart was beating as hard as he was visualizing Dan’s, but Steve’s beat rapidly in horror.


When the ambulance attendants finally arrived, McGarrett hovered, relinquishing control of his friend’s life to others with the fervent prayer they would do their jobs right.  Peripherally he noted some uniformed officers were there and he thought he might have issued orders to them but wasn’t even sure as he jogged alongside the patient, then climbed in the back of the vehicle, detachedly watching the efforts of the professionals to save Williams. 


As the ambulance jetted through the streets to the hospital, Steve stared at his friend, only partially aware of his own daze from the tragic events.  He quelled the sick fear in the pit of his stomach. 


He had been brooding about Chin’s death.  Wondering how he was going to handle Christmas this year without a valued old comrade.  Now a new horror gripped him, reminding him things could be much worse because of this dangerous profession.  At any moment, he might lose more than Chin and that scared him beyond belief.  Tonight, the earlier death could be eclipsed by the loss of his closest friend.  He was not ready for that.  He could not allow that to happen -- yet this monumental moment was not under his control and the helplessness was as frightening as the surging anguish shuddering through his nerves.





McGarrett paced at the nurse’s station of ER.  From the other side of the staff workstation, Dr. Matzu, the Chief of Internal Medicine for Leahi Hospital, exited the surgery and walked toward him.  In the glance, Steve feared Matzu’s bearing -- the grave demeanor.


One of the calmest men McGarrett had ever met, Matzu was a skilled physician and an excellent person.  As tall as Steve, his placid aspect never seemed ruffled.  Perhaps a tribute to his Polynesian heritage -- the son of a Kahuna who entered the modern medical arts?  His bedside manner was the best Steve had ever seen, but his true value was in his completely tranquil nature.  Always composed, always serene, Steve had never seen him lose his cool -- either here in a crisis at the hospital, delivering horrible news to grieving loved ones -- or when his par went far too high on the links.  Whatever the situation, Matzu never lost his temper, never raised his voice.


As the doctor steadily advanced toward him, Steve felt gripped by a new dread.  Richard Matzu, a friend, never wore the “physician’s mask” of complete non-emotion unless there was serious news on the horizon.  He was wearing the mask now and it sent chills along Steve’s spine.  Steeling himself, McGarrett walked up to face the situation head on, even while his nerves danced with fear.


“How is Danno?”


Matzu took him gently by the arm.  “He’s still in surgery.  Let’s find somewhere to talk.” 


It was not a request and Steve allowed himself to be guided to the waiting room.  There were three people in there already and Matzu suggested the doctor’s lounge for a private conversation.


There should have been impatient anger sizzling from within, but Steve found the uncertain rage that he usually felt when Danno was hurt and he needed answers, was buried by a cold lid of advancing alarm.  Privacy.  Seclusion.  Sober tone; words and looks.  Danno was in surgery.  He was still alive.  The news he was about to hear was not going to be good, he knew that by Matzu’s manner.  He used his energies for defensive shielding.


The lounge was empty and Matzu asked him to sit.  Steve pulled away from the touch on his arm instead.


“How is he?”


Forthright, direct, knowing whom he was talking to, Matzu did not try any false and vain attempts at comfort.  “His condition is extremely grave, Steve.  As you know, one bullet collapsed a lung.  He lost a great deal of blood.  It’s very serious.”


Feeling his own chest implode at his correct diagnosis, McGarrett hissed in a breath, trapping a moan of anguish.  “He’s going to make it.”


Matzu’s somber expression did not falter at the statement of hope.  “Dr. Okuza is handling the operation.  He’s the head of surgery, remember.  He’ll do everything he can . . . . “ Almost subconsciously, he shook his head, as if visibly correcting himself.  “Steve, I can’t emphasize enough how grave this situation is.”


McGarrett bit his lip, but could not contain the groan of misery. 


“Yes.  As you can imagine, there is a great deal of damage.  His blood loss, before he even reached the hospital, though, is our main concern.  Before he entered surgery his condition was already critical.”


Matzu relayed medical information Steve already knew.  Dan needed high concentrations of oxygen.  The surgeon needed to repair the wound and drain the chest cavity of everything, then apply an antibacterial rinse into the chest because of the threat of severe infection due to the exposure to the marina water.  The trick was to keep the heart and other lung functioning while treating the injuries.  When foreign bacteria came in that shouldn’t be there -- blood, air and water in the chest cavity -- those elements could displace the heart and non-injured lung resulting in death.


“I’m  trying to help you, Steve."  He seemed at a loss for words.  "This is very serious,” he finally repeated.


“I know.”  He still felt the sticky, dried blood on his hands.  How could he forget trying to stay the bubbling red ooze seeping from Dan’s chest?  “But he’ll be okay,” he hollowly reminded.


Again, Matzu underscored the gravity of the injuries, obviously not wanting Steve to think Danno was going to survive this.  It was the physician’s way of cushioning the loss, but Steve detested the weakness -- the typical reaction.  Because Danno was not going to die.


“Steve, you can’t count --“


“He is going to live.”


Wrapping his arms around his stomach, McGarrett backed away until his legs hit a chair.  The room was unnaturally cold and close and he tightened his fists to keep from shaking.  The trembling came from the inside and he clenched his teeth to stay an outward reaction.  He would not look at the doctor.  He stared at the floor, denying what he heard.  Critical.  Two wounds.  Shot in the back.  Blood loss.  Infection.


“He’s going to be okay.”


“Steve, why don’t you wait here?  As soon as we know anything I’ll let you know.”


“He’s going to come out of this okay,” Steve adamantly repeated, his voice harsh. 


“I’m very sorry, Steve -- “ he stopped as if keeping himself from saying something.


“What?” Steve barked.


“The blood loss was too extreme, Steve.  I think -- you should be prepared -- it’s unlikely he will survive surgery.”


“No,” he violently denied, but the shout came out only as a croaking hiss.


He needed the doctor to understand . . . .  No -- he needed the professional to confirm that he did not need to fear.  That he would not, again, after only a few months, enter into that dark pit of despair where only death became his companion.   Where blackness robbed him of someone too precious to lose.


“He will be fine.”  He needed Danno to be okay. 


Delivering a funereal, silent nod, Matzu left.  McGarrett paced, keeping his arms tight around him, trying to ward off the cold generating internally.  He tried to think about external and periphery matters: Duke and HPD mobilizing to gather evidence -- find the criminals who did this.  Wondering what Danno had been doing at the marina.  Questioning how a seasoned Five-0 cop could get caught so unawares as to be shot in the back. 


It had happened before to a Five-0 detective.  Why did he deny it could happen again?


What was Danno doing out there anyway?  Investigating a terrorist link? The smuggling?  It was all so insignificant now.  Steve wasn’t even clear on why Danno called him out to the marina.  He walked into the danger to compensate for his mistakes yesterday?  He wasn’t even supposed to be working!  Why couldn’t he obey simple orders and stay out of the way? 


Steve wanted to find an excuse for all this and could not even use Williams as a scapegoat.  Danno was behaving with typical diligence.  A trait Steve not only admired, but demanded -- one which Danno emulated in Steve from the very beginning of their relationship.  Steve could not fault him for it now.


Briefly, he thought of the motives, trying to stretch his mind beyond the grim corridors of the hospital.  There had been a -- what -- a -- subtle -- tension -- between them lately.  An imbalance that he could not define.  An unsettled -- something -- about Danno lately.  Since?  Since Shay showed up?   


The questions were muted shadows in the far reaches of his thoughts.  The only true focus was the dark mass of grief centered in his mind, heart and soul.  Matzu believed they were going to lose Danno.  No, that could not happen.  That would not happen, Steve repeated in his mind.  Danno would not do that to him.  He would not leave Steve alone to suffer.


He almost laughed at his own brush of emotional hysteria.  He was projecting emotions of desolation to an unconscious gunshot victim!  It didn’t matter.  Danno was conscious at the marina and tried to reach out to McGarrett.  Why?  What was that desperate message?  Would Steve ever find out?  In that brief, distraught conversation, Danno would have picked up on his panic and would never abandon his friend.  Could their wills overcome the seriousness of the wounds?  Was Steve being so blindly frantic that he would not admit what was already accepted by doctors?


Unable to stand the confining, bleak room, McGarrett swept out.  He went to the nearest restroom and washed his hands of the dried blood.  The white sink filled with pink wash and his hands shook.  Ill and despondent, he closed his eyes and tried to close out the sharpness of the pain.  The memories of those shocking, panicked moments at the marina would not fade.  In his last conscious moments, Danno wanted something from him and Steve would not accept that as their last message.  Would not -- could not -- give Danno what he had possibly been asking for in a final moment.  Disturbed at the perspective, he opened his eyes to find the blood cleaned off.  He dried his hands and left, realizing as he stalked down the hall he had never once looked in the mirror


Finally, McGarrett gravitated to the surgical corridor.  He paced, stopped, stared at the OR doors, then paced again.  Vaguely aware of nurses trying to coax him to the waiting room, or give him coffee, or whisper words of solace and encouragement, he brushed away the distracting swirls of interruption.  His mind focused only on the will that Danno was going to live.




The familiar voice penetrated his mental fog and he looked up, relieved to see an ally coming his way.


“How is Danny?” Lukela asked.


Steve found he had no voice.  He shook his head, unable to offer any details, share the dire prognosis, speculate or commiserate.  Heavily falling back against the wall, he looked away from his friend’s earnest brown eyes.  How could he deny Matzu’s predictions?  With what?  His stubborn refusal to believe he could lose another friend within a few months of Chin’s death? 


“Critical,” he whispered, his eyes burning as he verbalized only in the vaguest terms what they faced.  Then anger heated through his veins enough to share the insult, the cowardice of the attack.  “Shot twice in the back.”


Lukela hissed sharply.  Auwe.”


He knew they were both thinking of just a few short months ago.  Chin’s dead body on the asphalt under his window at the Palace.  Chin cut down during an undercover investigation.  Executed -- shot in the back of the head. 


The rage inside wanted voice -- he longed to vent it against the merciless criminal who had shot his friend.  Against the wall or the doctors or anything within reach.  This could not happen again!  Not after Chin.  He could not lose Danno!


“He’ll be okay, Steve.”


Lukela’s tone was thin and shaken.  Words.  Empty words.  Duke sounded like he didn’t believe them.  He wanted to, just as he wanted Steve to have the faith that they would come true.  Perhaps the spectre of Chin’s death was too great for the Hawaiian to recover his faith. 


Falling back on the comfort of routine, Lukela quietly outlined the steps taken in the investigation.  A boat owner had pulled Danny from the water and called an ambulance.  The witness reported a cabin cruiser had just been leaving the dock.  He didn’t see a name, but gave a description.  HPD was checking with other witnesses and the dock authority to discover what boats went with the slips in that area.  Several people heard raised voices and up to five or six gunshots.  They might have some decent leads, Duke finished with subdued gravity.




“McGarrett nodded. 


“I said we had some leads.”


Having trouble focusing on the case, McGarrett forced his concentration to follow Lukela’s commentary.  “Yes?”


Duke listed a few details of the investigation, but Steve couldn't focus on the report.  Asked if he wanted anything repeated, Steve negatively shook his head, coming up with only a blank void.  Whatever Lukela had was lost on the leader of Five-0, who was too numb with grief and shock to think about the case.  There was an underlying streak of hatred for whoever had done this to Danno.  A hot current of vengeance ready to strike back at the perpetrators, but it was too removed right now from the harsh reality he lived with in these sterile, doomed walls.


Lukela seemed so sad Steve had to stare at the floor when asked, “Do you want me to stay with you?”


He shook his head. 


“What can I do for you?”


Finding he could not care about cause and effect, justice and punishment right now, Steve quietly declined interest in anything.  He ordered Duke to keep working on the case.  McGarrett went back to pacing and the next time he looked around he realized Duke had left.


When the OR doors opened, Steve stopped.  Matzu and a shorter man in bloodied hospital greens approached.  Fists balled at his side, McGarrett stood stiffly, grinding his teeth, ready to deny bad news or argue weak diagnoses. 


“Steve, this is Doctor Okuza.”

”How is he?”  Steve narrowed his eyes on the surgeon.  This was the man who would determine if his world collapsed or was merely shaken.


“He barely survived surgery,” the thin, shorter physician responded in a deep, sharp voice.  “It is unlikely he can live more than a few hours.  I don’t know what has kept him alive.  He lost more blood than is normally survivable.  I am sorry, there was nothing more I could do.”


No, that was not good enough, Steve denied.  Shaking his head, he wanted to argue, but couldn’t.  No words came out past the clogged panic strangling his throat and chest.  This could not be right.


Okuza walked away and Matzu took McGarrett by the arm.  “He’s going into recovery.  They’ll let you in once they’ve got everything set up in there, Steve.  Do you want me to call Duke or someone else to -- is there anyone else you want to stay with you?”


“No.  Just -- just leave . . . .”


McGarrett shrugged away from the messenger of devastation and wandered.  He had to keep moving or he would fold into the floor; collapse and disappear from the pressing grief. 


They had to be wrong.  As soon as he got into that room he was going to yell and scream and do whatever he could to keep Danno here.  He was not going to make it easy for his younger friend.  No giving up -- never submit to death. 


Reaching the end of the corridor, Steve entered a room with subdued lighting and realized it was a chapel.  Various Christmas and religious ornaments made for sparse adornment.  It seemed jarring that it was a holiday, a time for celebration, while he was suffering so profoundly.  He stood there for a moment staring in a daze at the altar and the padded benches that reminded him of the kneeling platforms he had used so often when he went to Mass.


He tried to remember the last time he had been inside a church.  A funeral?  Not many people he knew got married, but a lot seemed to die.  He thought back to his mother’s funeral.  After that, he stopped attending Mass.  When his father died, he had stopped performing his duties as an altar boy -- too much responsibility to work and go to school and help take care of Mary Ann.  It hadn’t bothered him to stop.  At that time in his young life he was disillusioned with religion.  By the time his mother died, he no longer had any faith to keep up the pretense of church attendance.  He believed in God, but stopped observing the rituals.  They meant nothing in the face of the hardship, suffering, mourning, pain and death he had seen far too much of in his life.


Staring at the Christmas trappings now, for the first time he missed that rock of faith that so many people felt at this time of year.  The solace and peace they found here in a place of worship.  More people believed and wanted to believe than despaired during the holiday season.  Although suicides went up this time of year, so did church attendance and charity donations and cheerfulness.  He never let any of it affect him.  Crime also increased at this time of year and he was focused on the job -- maybe some little bit of time off for the holiday depending on the criminal activities. 


In the last decade, that also meant enduring the annual birthday surprise, he recalled with a stab of anguish.  And last year it included the new element of Aunt Clara on the scene to liven up Christmas. 


His heart twisted as he realized he needed to call her -- no -- not yet.  Long ago, he and Danno had made a pact to personally inform their close relatives if the worst happened.  Now he had a face and a personality to match the name of the elderly aunt who lived on the East Coast.  He would have to call and tell her Danno was critically wounded.  He had let them down.  Steve had not been able to stop the bullets or turn back time and the worst might yet happen. 


Staring at the altar candles, he forced his mind away from the immediate pain of this situation.  Yet, the ghost of Christmas past held no warmth and few cheerful memories.  Happiness had been hard won in the Navy and in Hawaii.  The far distant past – the former, younger McGarrett’s history -- was solidly replaced by the world built around him now.  The career, the friends, the respect, the people in his life that helped define who he was today.  And that, in a huge part, included the younger officer who was fighting for his life and not expected to live.


The thoughts of his friend and why he was here plunged him to despair.  Weakly he folded down to the kneeling bench and leaned his head on clasped hands.  No longer accustomed to fervent prayer, in this dark and solitary void, surrounded by symbols of faith and permeated with anguish, he prayed like never before.  Ripped from his heart, his battered and faltering soul begged for mercy – not for himself initially – for Danno.  That Danno would come out of this alive.  And yes -- for himself – that he would not have to suffer the loneliness he feared at losing another friend – his closest friend.


Feeling moisture on his face, he was surprised that his inner turmoil had erupted in a tangible, outward release.  There was so much pain and confusion – memories and distress – was it a collective release?  For a lost past?  A lost faith?  A fearful future?  For the devastation he had lived through and the ones he was too scared to admit might be before him? 


No.  Whatever happened in the past was gone.  He needed to live in the present.  Place his beliefs in the present -- in the solidity of what he had here and forget about leaning on vaporous icons of the symbols he had formerly used to see him through trials.  He believed in God but felt men made their own destinies.  In the losses and gains of life, he had some valuable assets that could not yet be dismissed.  Danno was going to live.  Danno would not desert him, not now, not after this tough year.


Wiping away the tears, he drew in a steadying breath.  This was not defying Deity or Fate -- this was trusting in his own faith.  He was stronger than this faltering doubt.  Believing in himself, and his will, he always thought he could do anything he set his mind to accomplish.  It was a trait he tried to instill in Danno.  Had the lessons taken root?  Could Williams beat this? 


By sheer will power, Steve had faith he would overcome whatever awaited him in the next hours or days.  There was too much to live for to feel defeated or depressed.  He felt that and he knew Danno had to feel that, too.


Turning away, he paced back, determined and purposeful.  Before he reached the ICU ward, he ran into a grim Lukela.  More bad news?  How was that possible?  Lukela’s expression read something dreadful about to surface.


“I thought you would want to know as soon as I got the report from ballistics.”  Lukela hesitated.  “The lab work was quick because -- well -- the ballistics were easy to trace.  Danny was shot with a .38.  His -- his own revolver.”


Steve’s stomach flipped over and he sagged against the wall, feeling repulsed and ill.  “His own piece?”


“Yeah.  Someone  -- well -- used his own piece -- and -- got him in the back.”  He cringed, looking disgusted and sick.  “Then they must have dumped him in the marina.”


Tears close, McGarrett felt too drained to react overtly, but the news sent waves of nausea through him and his skin shivered with revulsion.  There were few easy or clean ways to die for a cop -- a murdered cop.  This was just too much, though -- the dishonor -- he wanted to crawl away and hide.  That was not an option, though. 


“Find whoever did this,” he implored his friend.  “We have to get them,” he ordered through clenched teeth.


“I will,” Duke promised.  “Let me handle it.  Don’t worry about it now.”  Holding onto McGarrett’s shoulder, he glanced nervously down the hall, biting his lip.  “Steve, when you think you’re ready, Doctor Matzu wants -- he needs to talk to you.  I think you better see him.”




Lukela grimly nodded.  The message was enough.  More bad news.  What if Danno had died while he was away trying to sort out his emotions?  While he had wandered in a dazed fog of self-pity he had let his friend die alone?  He gave a quick nod to Duke and hurried to the ICU unit. 


Matzu was standing near the recovery rooms and he pulled the Five-0 boss aside.


“Steve, Danny’s vital signs are dropping.  There’s nothing more we can do.  Okuza isn’t sure why he is still alive.  It defies the nature of his injuries –“


“Because he’s fighting to live!” Steve snapped impatiently.  “He doesn’t want to die and he’s going to make it!  He is going to make it!”  He stared at the door of the room he was about to enter.  Danno knew how this would destroy him.  His friend would not fail – never had failed McGarrett and would not start now.  “He is going to beat this.”


Matzu sadly shook his head.  “Steve, you need to face reality.  He’s not going to survive the night. I’m sorry.”


McGarrett moved over to bump the door with his shoulder.  He refused to accept the threat.  “You’re wrong.  We’re going to prove you wrong.  Danno is not going to die.”


He entered the recovery room and momentarily his resolve was rocked back a step figuratively and literally as he came to an abrupt halt. 


Williams was attached to various tubes and IVs and looked gray with death.  Not wanting to make that comparison, it was still inevitable.  Slowly approaching, he touched his friend’s arm and nearly recoiled at the clammy, cool skin.  The grave reality of the doctor’s prognosis filtered past his adamant denials.  His friend was at death’s door.  Shadowed by fear again, Steve sat on the bed, hanging on to Dan’s arm, afraid to let go.  In some faith-oriented moment, he hoped the physical touch would provide a miracle.  That his energy and intensity to succeed would transfer to the unconscious patient.  Only after a long while could he speak, whisperingly imploring his friend to fight, to remember all he had to live for.  To not give up.





When Duke entered, he almost held his breath to maintain the silent, sepulchral tone of the room.  McGarrett was motionless, sitting on the hospital bed, lightly touching Dan’s arm.  Lukela flinched when he studied Williams, who seemed lifeless -- colorlessly still on the bed, hooked up to frightening equipment that made it all seem more grim than he had imagined.   He knew Dan was critical, but being in this room slammed it into perspective like nothing else could.  Allowing the door to close, he stayed near the wall, uncertain if he should disturb the tableau. 


Steve glanced over then and gave a slight nod.  The officer took that as his cue to bother the boss.  He would make this short.  Steve was pale, his hand, Duke now noted, was trembling.  His eyes were red and there was a look of fear on his face that Duke could not ever remember seeing before.  Not when Danny was kidnapped.  Not when Danny had been brainwashed, even.  Lukela stopped short, his legs suddenly too weak to keep moving.  The information he had seemed so meaningless in the shadow of this tragedy. 


“I’ve been doing some digging at the marina,” he whispered, afraid to speak and somehow change the subtlety charged atmosphere of the room.  As if an errant breath or strange movement would unbalance the delicate karma here and cause Dan to lose energy and slip away into another plane.


No interest sparked in the sober face.  “What did you find out?”


Empty.  Steve was washed out of anything but anxiety. 


“I can come back . . . .”


“No, go ahead.”


Duke focused on the boss, avoiding any more glances at the patient.  “Danny was there asking about the people in a cabin cruiser at a slip on the far end of the dock.  At the store Danny showed a picture of a couple of men, one looked Malaysian, one a haole.  The grocery store owner knew them both and a third man from the boat.  Danny got real excited when he heard the description -- a red haired man with a red beard.”  He paused, letting Steve catch up.  When it was clear it was not ringing any bells with the chief he continued.  “McBride.  The guy Shay wanted us to find.”


McGarrett nodded.  “Right.”


This was not good timing, Duke knew.  It was not helping get Steve’s mind off of Danny’s condition.  It was only serving to distract him from what he wanted -- peace and concentration on Williams.


“I’ll keep working on it, Steve.”


McGarrett turned back to Williams.  “Keep me informed.”


“I will.”  Lukela stepped to the door.


“We’ll get them for this,” Steve quietly vowed.


“Yeah, we will,” Duke agreed. 


Just as they had gotten the scum who murdered Chin.  Justice.  They would have it, but he would rather have Chin back.  He hoped they were not going to lose Danny the same way. 





A loud knock at the door startled him.  Irritated, Steve opened it and found Shay and two tense HPD guards squaring off in the corridor.  The situation was odd but he felt so detached and numb it didn’t really register.


“What is it?” he asked, his mouth dry, muscles stiff, reminding him he had been sitting still for a long time.


“Mr. McGarrett,” one officer started.  “This guy says --“


“These bozos won’t let me in!” Shay nearly snarled.


“He’s okay, boys, he’s with me,” McGarrett clarified.


After the officers left, Pete moved farther into the room.  “Williams scared away McBride.  That's who Lukela said was at the marina.  That's who tried to kill Williams.  There was no reason for me to keep hiding out.  Thought I would come by and see what I could do."


McGarrett nodded, not really caring about the reasons anymore.  At some point it would all be important again, but not now.


"You look awful, Steve.” Shay studied the patient for a moment.  “Let’s go get something to eat.”


The Five-0 chief shook his head and retreated back to the center of the room.  He took up his sentinel-post sitting on the bed.  The interruption faded away and he focused again on his intent mission to mentally urge his friend to wake up and firmly rejoin the living.


“Hey, Steve?  You okay?” 


The voice seemed far away and melted quickly into silence -- his cocoon of refuge.  McGarrett felt it could not be in his same dimension, but knew it was.  In the same room.  Fatigue and sorrow combined to place him in a drifting hollow where time floated him into a separate existence.  Memories, speculations, dread misted together with weariness.  Nothing mattered beyond this quiet cavern of semi-darkness where monitors quietly hummed, lights blipped and he held onto the cool arm of the person he was too afraid to release.  Occasionally he had broken the silence with pleas or demands, but after a time he fell into mute, stubborn resistance.  As long as he held on, became a literal anchor for Danno, things could not get worse.  They could beat this.




Staring at Williams’ pale face, he knew it was not Danno talking.  No, it wasn’t his voice. And he smelled coffee.   He looked over his shoulder and Shay’s presence there seemed so out of place he took a moment to think it through. 


“Oh.  Pete.”


“Yeah.  I came back with some coffee for you.”  He approached the bed and studied the patient for a moment.  “Did he come around at all?”


He shook his head, mildly surprised Shay had come and gone without notice.  Then he turned back to stare at Williams.


“Don’t you think you should get some rest?”


Silently McGarrett refuted the advice.


“You can’t stay here all night.  It’s after two in the morning.”


“I can’t leave him.” 


The thought was so repulsive he shivered.   Abandon Danno?  When the weak and damaged body was fighting to survive -- maybe searching for the will to hang on?  Perhaps struggling for the energy to keep the spirit going when the body was spent.   Steve secured himself to Williams believing if he stayed here and kept the dialogue going he could coax his friend back.  It was willpower that would work now.  Medical science had done all it could.  Steve had prayed all he could.  It was up to Danno – and Danno had to know he was here demanding Williams not leave him.


“Listen, let me stay with him – “




“Don’t you want to take a break or get some food?”




“I talked to the nurse.  She said you’ve been here for hours.  They don’t think he has much longer –“


“He’s going to live!”


Shay came into his view and stood behind some of the equipment.   “This kid really got under your skin, didn’t he?”


The flippant remark was almost funny.  How could he possibly relate to the hardened and cynical spy that there was comfort and value in human relationships?  There could be trust and connections between people who existed in a violent and distrusting world.  He could not even begin to articulate what Danno meant to him or how desperately he needed his friend to recover.  Only one word even came close.






“Hawaiian.  It means family.”


Shay snorted.  “Who’d have guessed you’d get all sentimental in your old age, Steve.  I can’t believe the tough Commander of NI that I knew has anything – anyone – in his life that could mean so much.”


“Maybe,” McGarrett snapped back, irritated at the attitude and the intrusion.  His old friend was encroaching on privacy that Steve valued.  These were desperate, stolen moments he was afraid would be his last with his newer aikane.  Time he had to use to urge Williams to expend every last bit of energy to live.  “Maybe I finally found something worthy of the sentiment.”


At this, Shay laughed.  “So you’ve become the father figure of this little band of detectives in paradise?” he derisively scoffed.  “And you find out that they are mortal after all, Steve.  They bleed and die and disappoint and desert you just like everybody else we’ve ever known.”


“Not him,” McGarrett countered adamantly.


“Whatever you say, Steve.  But I’ll tell you this.  It’s dangerous to feel too much.  It hurt you when you lost your last man and it will hurt you when you lose this one.  Don’t worry, you’ll still have me around.  I still don’t go in for this desperate emotional stuff, Steve.  I’ll help you get back there.  Life is so much easier when you don’t feel anything anymore.”


After Shay left McGarrett stared at Williams.  “He’s wrong, Danno.  We’re going to prove him wrong.  If he can’t feel anymore then he’s dead.  But you’re not.  You are coming back.  You know how much I need you here.”  If only he could coherently communicate that to his still friend.


The hand holding onto Williams shook, and Steve’s heart leaped, certain his friend was waking.  Then he realized with sinking despair HE was trembling.  As if emotions were bursting to release from their captivity within, he felt coldness course through him.  He should have done something more at the marina.  It could have been his last moments with Danno and he didn’t reveal what was in his heart.  As with so many other times in his life, he closed away the emotions and worked through the crisis with stoic resolve.  If this was the end then he had blown his last chance to let his friend know how important he was.  If Danno heard that from him maybe there would be a greater will to live. 


This was his Christmas of second chances, he kept telling himself.  Make up for Chin’s loss.  Help Pete.  Now, don’t let it be his last opportunity to make things right with Danno.  He couldn’t think that.  He had to.  In the next breath, this moment might be lost to him.  How could he live with himself if he let this pass?  If he did not push at every opening to reach his friend?


“You know,” he roughly whispered.  “Danno, you know how important you are.  You -- you ARE important.  You have to live.  Please.”


Despite his irritation at Shay, and his dedication to talk to and encourage Williams, the emotional shock and natural weariness caught up with him and he felt close to collapse.  He drew over a chair next to the bed and slumped into a comfortable position.  Closing his eyes, leaning his head against the bed, he kept a hold on Williams’ arm.  Drifting quickly to slumber, on a subconscious level, he knew nurses came and went checking the patient.  He also believed if there was any change he would sense it.





Floating through a luau and walking through rainbows, Steve knew he was dreaming.  In reality, the Palace did not glint on the beach like a sand castle, and stars did not sparkle through rainbows.  And his world did not possess bright sunlight and tropical paradise in the middle, and then fade out to be ringed with dark clouds that swirled like a black vortex.  Did his world look like that?  No, his mind refuted.  He was alone and that felt wrong.  The tropical/nightmare-edged vision seemed wrong, and nothing made sense.  And an unseen power was sucking the vision away.  Or was a force grabbing his attention so he would leave this dream state?  He was so tired.  But – yes – a noise alerted him – Danno?


Eyes blinking open, he assessed several varying elements in the instant he awoke.  Danno’s arm remained still under his hand.  No change in the cool temperature or the lack of motion. 


What had awoken him?


There was a presence in the room.  A nurse?  He saw someone drive a needle into an IV tube.  The hands did not belong to a nurse.  Without moving his head he scanned up to see Pete Shay plunge down on the end of the syringe stabbing into Dan’s IV feed.


In a flash of instinctive alarm, McGarrett ripped the IV line out of Williams’ arm and shoved Shay back against the wall.  Moving on impulse alone, he acted before logic could catch up to the violent opposition. In the next movement, he drew his revolver and pushed it into his old friend’s stomach.


“What are you doing?”  Backing up, he grabbed for the nurse call button as he kept the weapon trained on the spy.  “You were tying to kill him!"  He checked for a pulse on Williams and found one.  Immediate concern relieved, he glared at Shay.  "What was in the syringe?  Why did you try to murder him?”


Shay was annoyed.  “Come off it, Steve.  You’re not going to shoot me.  Okay, you caught me.  I was trying to make things easier for everyone.  So you wouldn’t suffer –“


Pushing Shay around, he pressed the man against the wall in a punishing arm lock.  “Stop it!  Stop lying!  You were going to kill him!  What do you have in the syringe?”


A nurse rushed in and McGarrett explained what happened.  Keeping a tight restraint on Shay, he watched anxiously as the nurse checked the patient.  A new IV feed was set up and a doctor arrived, getting a quick recap of the excitement.  After checking the patient, the young physician reported there was no change in Williams.  The attack apparently had not injured him. For the first time Steve noticed two HPD guards with drawn weapons next to him and was thankful there was back up close by.


Shoving Shay out the door, Steve leaned the man against the wall and pressed the revolver to his throat.    Too bad they never suspected an assault from an ally. “What were you doing?”


“I told you—“


“Don’t lie!”


“All right.  The kid stumbled onto something he shouldn’t have.  I needed to cover my bases.  Consider me the avenger of Christmas Past, old buddy," he remarked flippantly.  "We didn’t get him the first time at the marina, so I had to come back and finish off the job.”


Shaking with rage, Steve coughed past the cry welling in his throat.  “You – he caught you?  Then – you – you shot Danno?”  He grabbed Pete at the collar and bounced him on the wall.  “You shot him?”


“Stop the self-righteous act,” the agent demanded, shoving McGarrett’s hand off him.  “It was an operational necessity.  Your over-eager moralist cop got in the way.  Did you think I would let him blow my whole operation?”


“Your operation?  You tried to kill Danno -- shot him in the back -- for your operation?”


“He was in the way, Steve.”


Steve grabbed him by the shirt and shoved him toward the officers.  “Read him his rights.  He’s under arrest for attempted murder and that’s just for starters!”  Staring at Pete, he wondered at the animal his old friend had become.  At what HE must have been those long years ago in NI.  What he had almost allowed to happen here because of his blindness to an old loyalty.  “You disgust me.  You’re lucky Danno is going to live.”


“Or what?” Pete asked as he was cuffed.  “You’d kill me, Steve?  You’re too soft.  All that sentiment has clouded your judgment.  You don’t live on the edge anymore.  You’ve forgotten what this game is all about.”


“Get him out of here!”


“Merry Christmas, Steve.  Welcome back to reality.”


Revulsion shivering along his nerves, he returned to the room where he half expected to find his friend dead.  Williams was still breathing shallowly and his pallor had not improved.  Steve caught the tail end of a conversation between the physician and the nurse and the young doctor motioned him out of the room again.


“There was nothing in that syringe.”


“Air,” McGarrett flatly returned.  “An air bubble in the line.  Air in the vein.  Untraceable.”


The doctor’s eyes widened.  “That would have been fatal.”


“That was the idea.  It’s an old trick.”


The young man lowered his voice.  “The patient isn’t going to last much longer.”


“That’s what I’ve heard all night and I don’t want to hear it again!” Steve irately countered. 


Shrugging, the physician stepped aside.  “Call when his condition changes.”


Standing by the door, McGarrett stared at Williams, unable to approach.  He could only imagine what had happened out there in the marina.  Williams had discovered some clue and Shay shot him in the back to cover his tracks.


“Danno, I am so sorry.”  His broken whisper seemed to fill the room.  “I let Pete manipulate me.  And you warned me not to trust him.”  Throat tight around a sob, he allowed the hot tears to score his cheeks.  “Don’t let him win, Danno.” 


Moving to the bed, he leaned on the rail.  Pounding it with his fists, he swallowed a scream of anger and anguish.  Crushed that he was blind to what had been happening around him.  Ignoring his closest friend, he had tried to make room for the old friend who needed help.  So caught up in his desire to make up for Chin’s loss, he had nearly lost Danno.


He struck the metal again.  “I need you, Danno!  Get back here!  Give me a second chance!!”





“Shay’s not talking,” Lukela bleakly related as he shared a typical lunch -- Chinese take out -- with McGarrett in the corner of Williams’ room.  It was the farthest he could coax the Five-0 boss to straying from Williams’ side.  “No surprise.”


“No.”  McGarrett listlessly pushed noodles around with his chopsticks.  “What could you find out?”


“No sightings of his accomplice, the guy who was described as the mysterious McBride.  I figure the red hair is a disguise, but we don’t have enough of a description to track down anyone.  No sign of the cabin cruiser yet, either.”


“Gems.  Danno thought it was connected to our gem smuggling case.” He dully stared at the still patient.  "Danno had emeralds and rubies in his pocket.  He must have picked them up from Shay."


“Yeah.  We can’t trace Shay’s movements so we’re working on the other end.  The Jakarta Sunda angle.  He had a few contacts we’re tracing.”




“A few detectives from HPD.”


McGarrett studied his friend with fond sadness.  He hated putting more pressure onto the only remaining staff detective of Five-0.  Steve should be out there working on this, too, but couldn’t bring himself to do anything but spend every possible moment here.  Superstitiously, he was afraid to turn his back -- afraid without his presence Danno would not wake up.  Lukela seemed to understand that and never mentioned the obsession to stay.


Now would be a good time to bring in another officer or two to help.  He couldn’t do it with Dan’s fate still undetermined.  Although he knew he had to replace Chin -- needed to for months -- adding someone new now might seem, in some symbolic, cosmic plane, as if he was giving up on Dan.  It made sense in his muddled and emotionally ravaged mind, but he doubted it would if he ever voiced it -- which he would not.


“Mahalo.  For everything.”


Lukela modestly nodded.  “Danny will make up for all this overtime after he’s out of here.”


McGarrett forced a grin he didn’t feel.  “Yeah.”





When the morning sun shone through the slats of the window blinds, there was no change in Williams’ condition.  McGarrett dozed, paced and made phone calls from the ICU through the course of the pre-noon hours.  Matzu warned the staff about his behavior.  The nurses were tolerant of Steve’s persistent presence.  Then Williams’ condition slowly and steadily improved -- as he had confidently predicted -- and so did McGarrett’s confidence and temperament. 


Guardedly anticipating Dan would live, Matzu warned that Williams was still weak and the lung damage could lead to pneumonia, particularly considered the dip in the bacteria-laden marina.  To combat the lung injuries high oxygen was being pumped into him through nasal tubes.  Even if he lived, Matzu continually warned, his recovery would be slow.  Not discounting the seriousness of the damage, Steve still felt optimistic and shifted from the mentally defensive posture of fear to the forced assertion of hope.


Evening gradually slipped over the tropical paradise and Steve returned to pacing.  The continued unconsciousness from his friend created fluctuating anxieties threatening to erode the positive attitude thinly constructed against his overwhelming anxiety.  Doggedly, stubbornly, he maintained his insistence that Williams would soon regain consciousness.


McGarrett was explaining to a dedicated nurse that he was not interested in having her send up dinner for him, when he noted Williams’ eyes flickering open.


“Danno?”  He quickly moved to the bedside and gently touched Dan’s arm.  “Hi."  The blue eyes stared steadily at him.  "How are you doing?”


Williams gave a nod.


“You’re going to hurt for a while.”  Steve’s voice thickened at the memory of why his friend was here.  “You got hit pretty hard.  Twice.  One slug hit a lung.”


Dan’s eye’s widened.  “Shay,” he croaked.


Biting his lip, McGarrett nodded.  “I know,” he admitted with difficulty.  “We’ve got him in custody.”


Visibly relieved, Dan quietly whispered, “Sorry.”


“You have nothing to feel sorry about.  He shot you!”


"Tried to -- tell . . . ."


McGarrett gripped tight to his arm.  "Okay.  Don't talk.  That's what you were trying to tell me?" he barely whispered.  "Don't worry now.  It's all right."


"Sorry --"


"You have nothing to be sorry about."


“He’s -- your -- friend,” came the subdued reply.


“WAS my friend.  I’m sorry you had to find out the hard way what a traitor he is.”  Easily, he could get lost in the melancholy of the whole jumble of betrayals, loyalties, pain and confusion.  Instead, he focused on the most important aspect of the moment – Williams’ recovery.  “You got hurt pretty bad, Danno, but you’re going to be fine.  Just take a little time to recover from this one.”


Again, Williams nodded.  “You -- okay?”


Touched at the concern, McGarrett offered a sad smile.  “I’m okay now.”


After Williams drifted back to sleep, for the first time in many long hours, Steve left the hospital.  He would sleep in his own bed again and be back first thing in the morning.  Dan required a lot of rest, but he would be waking more and more, gradually regaining his strength, and McGarrett planned on being there for him as much as possible.




As he drove along Ala Wai Boulevard, a page came over the radio.  Answering it, he tensed when Duke warned he had some bad news. He told the officer to go ahead.


“Shay escaped, Steve.”




“Yeah, a transfer that no one knew anything about it seems.  He had a few accomplices and some sophisticated paperwork faked.  I’ve got an APB –“


McGarrett pounded his fist on the steering wheel.  “How could this happen?”  The flash-anger quickly subsided when he allowed logic to filter in through the frustrated rage.  Shay was an old pro.  He should have expected this, but he was far too preoccupied with Danno’s crisis to think much about Shay.  “Go ahead and run though the steps, but he’s long gone, Duke.  He’s a pro at this, remember?”


“Yeah, so I’m finding out.  We’ll do our best, Steve.”


“I know.”





Daily visits to the hospital improved both patient and visitor attitudes for Williams and McGarrett.  Now that the crisis had passed, they were able to connect the various threads of the investigation.


Williams reported the man who pinned him on the boat was McDowell, who also disguised himself as McBride.  The gems in his pocket -- that he had recovered from the boat -- were Burmese rubies and two emeralds.  Worth some tidy change, they were probably part of a smuggling operation, but that could not be proved.  It only served to underscore their suspicions that Shay, McBride and Sunda were all involved in the smuggling they had originally investigated.  Dan revealed Shay's confession about being responsible for the market bombing murder of Tommy Malang.


“So do I get to keep the gems?” Dan smiled with a twinkle in his eye.


“They’re locked up as evidence now,” McGarrett replied, shaking his head.  “After a while, if we don’t have a case, I guess they’re yours.  Although you did obtain them from an illegal search.”


“I don’t think Shay will be pressing charges.”




As his health improved, Williams grew increasingly anxious to leave.  Matzu refused to release him for at least a week due to the lung injury.  To speed the process, the nasal tubes were kept in, much to Dan’s annoyance. A nurse had been hovering, checking vital signs.  She warned that McGarrett should not stay long.  Standard warning -- standard ignoring of the order. As soon as she left the room on this evening preceding Christmas Eve, Williams pulled out the nasal candula.  Steve frowned at the action.


“You know you can’t communicate normally with this things,” Williams explained with a grimace.  “So, you’re going to spring me, right?”


“Not today,” Steve admitted with mixed irritation and amusement at the typical impatience of his friend.  “And Matzu won’t even talk to me unless you do as you are told.”


Glumly, Dan nodded.  “Yeah, he’s sure not as easy to get around as Bergman.”


Chuckling, Steve ruefully agreed they had met their match in Matzu and both detectives voiced how much they missed the former ME/Five-0 physician who had recently retired.  He laughed aloud when Dan asked him to stand between him and the door so if the nurse popped in he could quickly reinsert the tubes.


“You mean your usual charm is not working with the nursing staff?”


Dan scowled.  “Most of them are married and we all have a mutual antagonism event going.”


“No wonder you want out so bad.”  Sobering, he sat on the side of the bed.  “I have some bad news.”  There was no easy way to say this, so he decided it was finally time to plunge ahead.   “Pete escaped.”  Dan’s eyes grew wide and McGarrett quickly assured, “I have extra guards out in the hall.”


“You think he’ll come after me again?  Why?  I’m not a threat anymore.”


“No, probably not,” McGarrett tentatively agreed.  “But I want to keep the guards just the same.”


Grimacing, McGarrett was irritated anew at the coconut wireless that was all too efficient.  HPD guards visiting Williams had revealed to him the dramatic attempt in the hospital room to kill Dan.  Steve was not pleased with the leak of information -- he had wanted to break it to his friend in his own way.


In his frequent visits, they had discussed Shay often.  The whole episode with the spy bothered Williams, but Steve refrained from admitting how much it bothered him.  Pete Shay was a dangerous professional.  He had no reason to come after Williams, but Steve couldn’t rule out the threat completely.  The motives for killing Danno were gone now that Shay’s duplicity was exposed, but there was always revenge. 


“There’s not much chance you’re going to find him,” Dan sighed, clearly frustrated and angry about the escape.  “Or his pal McDowell or McBride or whatever his name was.”  His eyes grew distant.  “They’re very professional.”


Although they had already discussed the gruesome details of the shooting at the marina, McGarrett was again enraged at the attack on his officer.  Disgruntled, Steve wanted to throw something or punch something just thinking about the despicable ambush -- the cold-blooded attempt to murder his friend.  Not to mention the whole spy mess that was now unresolved.  Between Shay and Jin Wu it had been a bad year for their involvement with spooks.


“Don’t worry about it,” McGarrett sternly admonished, sublimating his ire.  “Just use your energies to recover.”


The door opened and Dan quickly popped the tube in his nose before the suspicious, glaring nurse descended.  She fussed and lectured briefly, then left.  As soon as the door closed, the tube was out again.


Smiling, Steve shook his head.  “Behave, Danno, or Matzu won’t spring you tomorrow.”


Williams smirked.  “Come on, Steve, you must have some influence with him.  You losing your usual domineering touch?”


McGarrett raised his eyebrows, amused and piqued at the challenge.  “Oh ye of little faith.  We’ll see about that.”  He handed the tube to his detective.  “You work on getting better.  Let me worry about an escape.”


Dan grinned.  “Great.  I have no doubt in your abilities, Steve.”





With Christmas Eve usually came the annual office party for Five-0.  In keeping with the tone of the organization, it was subdued and alcohol-free in deference to the chief.  This December Twenty-fourth found the state police unit quiet, without celebration; the staff altering the holiday routine along with the head of the unit. No one was in the mood for the usual party with the second-in-command still in the hospital.


To get everyone through the harrowing ordeal of the shooting and the pressing memory of Chin’s death, Lukela had suggested Steve play Santa to the Kelly children.  Instead, he had taken them all out on his boat that morning and returned them to the house in time for a surprise lunch-time luau with the Five-0 staff and friends. It had been a gesture appreciated by all and McGarrett was still glowing with the enjoyment of the experience.  Events served to accentuate his need to carry through with his resolutions for second chances.   It had been a worthy effort that would be a happy memory for all.  Maybe even an annual activity and celebration, he thought.  And next year Williams would not be a casualty in the hospital, he vowed.  Next year -- he had a whole mental list of resolutions -- something he normally never indulged in -- and near the top of the list was better safety procedures for his friends.  He didn't want to ever go through this again.





Crime was usually quiet for the top cops of the state on this day, and McGarrett took advantage of the lull and presented himself at the hospital early in the afternoon to retrieve Williams.  After much coercion, Matzu agreed the mending detective could go home provided he got plenty of rest, kept up on antibiotics and did not over-exert himself.


Williams readily leaped at the chance of escape and McGarrett adamantly promised he would hold his detective to the vow.  The grievous wounds – the near loss of his second-in-command -- had scared him and he was not going to let anything happen to his friend if he could help it.


"What about the charity ball?" Williams asked with a grin.  "I don't see you in your Santa suit."


"And you won't," McGarrett assured.  "HPD is covering security.  "I had more important duty."




Grimly, McGarrett clearly recalled the fear that moments like this with his friend were gone forever.  Not only did he value little opportunities like this, he sought them out.  "No problem," he casually admitted, leaving unsaid the deep motivations he would never forget.


"What about Aunt Clara?"


"Taken care of, Danno, don't worry.  She's due in on a morning flight."  He went on to outline plans for a subdued Christmas dinner at the Williams condo.  No golf, no activities, just a quiet day.  At least it would be a holiday spent together with Dan alive.  Steve could not ask for more.


On the short trip to Williams’ condo they spotted crowds of party-goers already ambling along Waikiki’s busiest street.  Dan regretfully mentioned he did not get any holiday shopping done.  He should know better than to procrastinate.  What he did not mention was that at least he had planned Steve’s surprise party for the following week. 


"Too bad I don't believe in Santa anymore."


“You want me to help out with the shopping?”


It was a facetious offer since Steve either used gift certificates, or catalogs as his shopping sources.  And he would never volunteer to make a list for presents on Christmas or his birthday. Birthday.  He hadn't shopped for anything for that, either!  Dare he send Aunt Clara out on that errand?  Maybe he should be content that he at least had a surprise party arranged at Chen's.  This year, Steve WOULD be surprised.  He would not expect Williams to pull anything off after the recent events.  At least he hoped that was what Steve thought.  And regardless of injuries, the birthday party would go on.  It was a tradition around here, just like Christmas.  The two now went together in Williams' mind and he refused to relinquish celebrating either one.  It was the time of year when their little ohana could openly appreciate each other.  This year, that seemed more important than usual.  With Chin's loss and Shay's appearance, he felt more sentimental about his ohana -- his big brother -- than usual.


“You do the shopping for me?  Not with YOUR taste in ties!” Dan joked back.


“Who are you buying a tie for?”


“Maybe you.”




As they sat on the lanai listening to the surf far below washing against the reef, Steve hated to break the tranquil moment.  It had to be done, however.  He had apologized numerous times for Shay (he would probably never think he had covered that enough) – for his misjudgment of the old spy colleague – for the cautions he had ignored that would have saved Williams from a lot of misery.  He could keep this latest irritation a secret, but his conscience would not allow that.


“I got this in the mail today.”  He handed an envelope to Williams.


Dan removed a Christmas card depicting a snowy scene.  Dan opened it, read it, then sighed.  “He loves playing games.”  He checked the postmark.  Denver.  I guess there’s no sense trying to trace him?”


“We’re trying, but I don’t hold out any luck.  If he doesn’t want to be found, Shay won’t be.”


“I wish I would have figured it out –“


“I wish I had, too.” 


Steve restrained from another admission of guilt and regret.  He stared at the card, reading the handwritten scribble at the bottom, wondering if he could ever put this behind him.  Or feel that Dan’s safety was secure. 


“Think he’ll come back?”


“I hope not.”  He glanced once more at the card.  “It’s a veiled threat.  Just be on your guard for a while, Danno.”


“You too.  Shay can’t be too happy about how things went down between you two.”


“Not any more unsettled than I am.”


"Great, a real Mele Kalikimaka."


McGarrett frowned at the sour comment -- unusual bitterness from Williams -- who deserved the sentiment more than anyone after this harrowing incident.  In a way, he agreed with the sarcasm -- Shay had nearly killed Danno -- which would have and ruined Steve's life in a monumental way.  On the other hand, he agreed with the literal idea of a Merry Christmas -- pushing away the possibilities, he was left with the much better reality.  Danno had survived and that was the best Christmas fulfillment he could wish for.


"Yeah, Mele Kalikimaka," he responded with more enthusiasm.  "It's seemed like a pretty good one to me," he countered, patting Dan's shoulder.


The younger detective offered a grin.  "Yeah, guess so."


All except for one serpent in paradise, Steve inwardly sighed.  He read over the card again, his lip curling with distaste and fury.



Merry Christmas, Steve.


Thanks for nothing.  Next time I’ll tidy up better before I leave your island.




McGarrett took the card and ripped it up, placing the pieces in his pocket.  But the threat burned in his mind, assuring he would have an unsettled Christmas.  All because of his misguided efforts and muddled emotions -- trying to let go of the past -- Chin’s death – embracing the old-past -- Shay.  Now he only sought to preserve what he had in the present.