Dan Williams’ ascent up the front stairs of the Palace was slow.  It had been a long day – much happening in time, nerves and events from the time when he skipped up these same steps this morning.  Since then, Five-0 officers had lived through a crisis at the prison he hoped never to suffer through again.  Starting out as a hostage situation it had ended with McGarrett held for a mock trial with Honore Vashon as judge, jury and would be executioner. 


Objecting from the first over McGarrett volunteering to go into the prisoner-controlled room if the first hostages were released, Dan knew there was no talking his boss out of such a heroic act.  He had done it before with the vile Chick {episode – THE BOX} and he would do it again any time he could not avoid saving lives by exchanging his own.


Yes, there had been the clever ploy that Steve was wired for sound so Dan and his colleagues outside could hear if anything went wrong.  Yes, the clever trap to duck into a storage closet and wait for rescue had sounded like a viable plan.  As a lot of solid, good ploys, this one had fallen apart almost instantly, trapping McGarrett with the cons.


Williams, in charge on the outside, had no option but to send in the SWAT team to try and save Steve before the cons executed him.  The choice to go in was automatic – he never gave it a second thought.  If anyone was going in to rescue Steve it would be him.  Fortunately, he had trained with the SWAT guys and was completely familiar with their methods.


Despite Vashon’s best efforts otherwise, McGarrett had been safely snatched from the jaws of death yet again.  After the ordeal, Steve had seemed strangely philosophical.  He also made sure to sincerely thank him, which was gratifying to Dan, but completely unnecessary.  Williams would have done that and more to save his boss.  Crawling through vents, jumping into a room of armed convicts amid tear gas – what was a little danger among friends?


Still in the SWAT jumpsuit, Dan grimaced at the grimy, dirty feel of his skin and clothes and had to smell as bad as he felt.  Diverting to the basement of the Palace, where both top Five-0 officers kept changes of clothes for just this type of situation, he decided to clean up.  The old royal residence included showers and they had been used all too often by McGarrett, and occasionally by Williams, who found it convenient to freshen up here.


After the clean up he hiked up the stairs to the Five-0 wing with a bit more alacrity.  Glancing out of the front, glass-paned doors, he was not surprised to spot the Mercury under the lamps, still in the parking lot.  McGarrett WOULD stay late to complete the tasks backlogged while they were all out at the prison fiasco.  Ruefully shaking his head, he knew they would both be in for a late night, because as usual he would stick it out with his boss.


Entering the office, night eclipsed the big room and he felt the solitude of the night as a tangible presence.  These times when they clocked overtime were not viewed as hardships.  He examined them as treasured interludes between the hectic days and the driving action typifying their careers.  These were the times when the defenses were down and they would share things never heard at other places or times – never shared between any one else.  These were a few of those building-block experiences when Steve particularly, would let down his defenses and reveal ideas, feelings, details that would appear and vanish like a magician’s act.


Tonight, Dan ambled in, expecting to see his boss hard at work, the lights blazing the midnight oil.  Instead, he was taken aback and actually stopped, rocking back on his heels.  Steve was standing out at the lanai.  Doing  -- nothing!


Taking a leisurely pace toward the open lanai doors, Dan wondered what was going on with his boss.  By the time he reached the desk, he had a pretty good idea.  Steve had been inordinately preoccupied on the drive back from the prison.  Maybe that talk about appreciating being alive was not just a temporary observation of his close escape.


Taking a deep breath, Dan released it slowly, preparing himself.  Whatever mood his friend was in, they were probably headed for a late night of talk – deep and soul-searching maybe.  Or perhaps very little talk at all.  Sometimes, after a tough case, few words or stories were exchanged.  Occasionally, they just sat in the office, or leaned on the pillars out on the lanai, sipping coffee, watching the traffic; listening to the night birds, the rustling wind in the palm fronds, the sounds of a city slowly grinding down to sleep.  Sometimes the comfortable silence was the best communication of all.




Barely turning from his perch of leaning both hands on the iron railing around the second story lanai, Steve offered slight smile over his shoulder.  “Danno.  Finished?”


“Yeah.  Pretty simple debrief,” he shrugged, coming to lean on the pillar nearest McGarrett.  “Not too many post-op details to discuss.  Not many options in there.”


“Yeah,” McGarrett agreed, returning to stare out at the front lawns barely illuminated with the Victorian-styled lamps lining the drive.  “It was pretty tight, that’s for sure.”


Scrutinizing his friend, Dan questioned, “Are you all right?”


Long moments of stillness passed.  The light traffic rumbled by on King Street.  A cruise ship in the harbor blew it’s deep, long horn.  Motionless, the leader of Five-0 stared out, captivated by an unknown point of focus.


“To tell the truth, Danno, I’m – I guess – a bit stunned -- at what happened today.”


Offering a silent nod of support, Dan refrained from the myriad comments that came to mind:  Amazed that the foolhardy and self-sacrificing heroics -- (a McGarrett weakness that rankled at Dan every time) trading himself for the other hostages was not a simple deal?  He had better manners than to audibly scoff at that viewpoint.


Surprised that the plan didn’t go according to their wishes?  They shouldn’t have been taken off guard by that – Vashon, after all -- was a cunning old man who knew all about tricking the authorities.  Shocked that it was a close call that none of the good guys got killed?  Yeah, that was a pleasant piece of luck.  When he went in there, Dan was hoping they would reach the room in time to save Steve, but there had been few moments that McGarrett’s life had been so absolutely on the line of death.  Relieved that Steve was not injured or dead?  Yeah, that was a fortunate turn of events.  Despite Dan and the SWAT team’s best efforts, it could have easily turned out differently.  A few seconds later, a twist to the left instead of right, Vashon losing his temper and just drilling Steve without warning – anything could have happened.  By some great good chance and probably more than a few guardian angels watching out for their favorite Irish cop, everything had turned out all right.


“When I went in there, I THOUGHT the plan would work.  It didn’t.”


“No,” Williams sighed, restraining more sarcastic comments that came to mind.  Instead, he just let his boss vent.


“You heard everything that went on?”


“Yeah.  Vashon is a nut.  A dangerous nut.”


“He is.  He had the power of life and death over me and he didn’t use it.”


“Another time you’ve dodged the bullet, Steve.”


“I know.  In that little room, fighting for my life, I knew I had to stall.”  He glanced over to stare at his friend for a moment.  “I knew were going to come in after me.  There was no doubt in my mind.”


Warmed by the confidence in his commitment to do everything in his power to rescue him, Dan surrendered a small grin.  “That’s right.”

“After you got me out of there, we were standing there and I could feel the sun on my face and taste and smell the fresh air – I don’t know,” he laughed a little self-consciously.  “It was like a renewal.  Like I’d been given a second chance.”  Taking another moment to gaze around at the surroundings, he finally turned to lean a hip on the railing and stare at his friend.  “You’re going to laugh at this, or maybe say, ‘I-told-you-so’, but – I just feel like I have a new appreciation for life.  For the beauty around me.  For living another day.”  He grinned.  “For a good friend that I knew I could count on no matter what.”  He stepped closer and patted Williams on the shoulder.  “So, in celebration of this rebirth, I’m going to take you out to dinner, Officer Williams.  Then, Saturday, I’m taking the whole day off and leaving you to handle the office for me!”


“That’s some resolution,” Dan chuckled, amazed that his boss possessed the ability to continually amaze him.  “But it’s a great idea.  Both, actually,” he joked, rubbing his stomach.  “I’m starved.”


“Then let’s go,” McGarrett urged, giving him a little push and guiding him back into the office.  Stopping to grab his jacket, he paused, still resting a hand on the shorter detective’s shoulder.  “And like I said before, I don’t plan on doing this again for a long time.”


“That’s an even better idea,” Dan sighed, crossing his fingers behind his back, hoping his friend would stick to that plan.