EPILOGUE TO:

Distant Thunder

 

 

SPOILER

 

Synopsis:

A neo-Nazi group is threatening a Senator.  While Five-0 protects the politician, Dan goes undercover to gain evidence against the Nazi group.

 

 

 

ECHOES OF THUNDER
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November 1978

 

As the neo-Nazi leader, Stoner, was dragged away by officers, McGarrett tuned out the screamed invectives and threats of the criminal.  The extremist had proven more dangerous than McGarrett had expected, coming after the newly elected Senator Tamara with a gun -- right in the middle of a crowded rally! 

 

Thankfully, the only one hurt was the Nazi leader and his fascist cause.  McGarrett glanced around the campaign headquarters.  Some news hounds were chasing after Stoner while others tried to corner Tamara.  Dazed campaign supporters were cleaning up; still glowing in the flush of victory, still shaky in the aftermath of the near assassination.  What was missing from the picture was the second in command of Hawaii Five-0. 

 

Dan Williams left the building with the officers escorting Stoner. In the moment of crisis, the danger to Tamara had dislodged McGarrett's concern for his detective.  Now that the threat to the senator was over, the anxiety he originally felt for Williams returned full force.  With a chill, McGarrett realized how close he had probably come to losing Williams on this assignment. 

 

Because of both Williams' skill and experience as a cop and his obviously Aryan appearance, Danno had been the natural undercover operative to send into the Nazi movement.   At the time McGarrett suggested the assignment to Williams, they did not know the neo-Nazi leader was unbalanced enough to constitute the deadly threat exhibited today.  There had always been the threat – the hazard that was implicit with every undercover assignment.  The image of Chin’s dead body on the pavement below his office slammed into his thoughts.  No, those perils were never far form his mind.  Why had he not been more careful this time with Danno?

 

 

*****

“Danno, how would you like to do a number on Stoner?”

 

It had seemed such a good idea at the time.  Obviously Aryan, Danno was not known to Stoner and would be perfect to infiltrate the gang.

 

“Sure, what did you have in mind?”

 

Just like Danno, minimizing the risks and always eager to do what needed to be done.  Do what Steve wanted him to do.

 

“It could be dangerous.”

 

Even then there was the impression of the unbalanced nature of their enemy; the hazards of undercover work, the memory of Chin’s death.

 

“Well, surfing could be dangerous.  Lay it on me.”

 

Always willing to go along with McGarrett’s schemes to obtain justice.  Or to just go along with his wishes?

 

*****

 

McGarrett thought back to the anxious hours earlier in the day when communication with Williams was broken,  failing to make his usual contacts.  Duke Lukela, the other staff Five-0 detective, was sent to stake out the Nazi headquarters.  McGarrett didn't have the whole story yet, but he had the impression that the appearance of Lukela had probably saved Williams' life.  It seemed the whole operation had been a hairsbreadth from disaster.

 

Anxious to talk to his friend, McGarrett caught up with Dan and Duke outside the conference center.  Williams seemed well, and most importantly, alive.  Steve walked over and squeezed the younger officer's shoulder.

 

"It's good to see you, Danno."

 

It was a colossal understatement, but the only thing McGarrett could relate for now.  Later perhaps, when the adrenalin was subdued and they held a post-case discussion of events, he could express himself better. 

 

'Probably not,' he reflected ruefully. 

 

He had never been eloquent with relaying feelings.  His simple statement was sincere and truthful and after the tension and fear of Dan's undercover assignment, it really said it all.  After the tangle with the neo-Nazi group, Williams was back safe, and that was what mattered.

 

"It's good to be here," Williams said with relief.

 

McGarrett gently touched a finger to Williams' chin, turning the face to get a better view of the split lip and puffy cheek.  Apparently, Danno had good reason to be relieved.

 

"Rough?"

 

Williams shrugged.  "Just another perfect day in paradise," he said flippantly.  The seriousness in his steady blue eyes contradicted the words.

 

"I'm anxious to hear about it," was Steve's curt reply, his tone gruff, reflecting his displeasure at how the case had turned too dangerous for Williams and the Senator.

 

"I'll say these guys were a bunch of nuts," Williams quipped with a touch of lightness, a touch of relief.  Couched in the tinge of wryness, a bit of bitterness came creeping into the comment.

 

It was an obvious attempt at Williams' own brand of quirky humor/bravado to counter McGarrett's gravity.  It didn't work.  Steve felt a stab of anger at his own carelessness.  He had let Dan go off on an undercover assignment without adequate backup.  There had not been enough safeguards this time.  When Dan had not arrived for his check in, McGarrett should have stormed the Nazi hideout with the full force of an HPD SWAT team.  They probably would have ruined their case against Stoner, but wasn’t that preferable to losing his officer?  Not only had delay endangered Williams, but also Tanaka.  Shouldn’t Steve have prevented the crisis from ever escalating so far as to have a madman pointing a weapon at a candidate?  So far as to lose his detective?

 

 

Conversation came to a stop as the three detectives watched the neo-Nazi leader driven away in a blue and white patrol car.  The raving, obsessive Stoner was just one more example of how unpredictable their enemies could be, how risky undercover work could get.  The last few years had been bad luck for subterfuge. 

 

It had started with McGarrett's own ill fated, secret mission to find Frankie, a witness to a mob murder.  Incognito, Steve had been tracked down by -- and fought with -- his own men when Five-0 had moved in.  In the end, Frankie had died anyway.*

 

The worst and most painful blunder of all had been last year when Chin Ho Kelly was killed while undercover in Chinatown.  It was a blow they had not recovered from; a personal hurt which McGarrett could not forget. **

 

A few months ago, McGarrett had tried undercover work again to gain information on illegal gambling.  It had been a trap and the Feds arrested him.  The mess had been a colossal embarrassment for Five-0. ***

 

A very short time ago, he had experienced another, frightening undercover blunder, which nearly matched the horror of Chin's death.  While undercover, Danno had been captured, tortured and brainwashed by a Chinese spy. ****

 

Involuntarily, the terror of both Chin's death and Williams' torture pressed into Steve's memory.  Today he had made the same, near fatal mistake he had made last year with Chin Ho; with Williams and the spy ring.  McGarrett had left his man out in the open on an assignment as shark bait and the sharks had come for blood.  This time the shark had not been deadly, but still obviously dangerous.

 

McGarrett cursed himself for that horrid blind spot which still seemed to plague him:  His belief that his team and he were invincible; that there would never be another loss like Chin's, or the others who had died in the service of Five-0.  So, this time, he had pushed Williams out into the line of fire.  Why?  Because Williams was the right, obvious man for the job?  Or, to prove McGarrett's theory -- that the Five-0 staff was invulnerable again?  That they could all bounce back form Chin’s death and everything was back to normal again?  Normal?  Risking the lives of his friends?  Yes, that was normal.  That was their job.  Why was it getting so much harder?  So fatal?

 

Infiltrating the Nazi group had seemed so easy at first.  In hindsight, McGarrett felt he should have never let Williams go through with the masquerade.  He wondered when he was going to come to his senses and stop tempting fate.  If he kept playing these games, one day he was going to lose -- maybe lose Danno.  The life of his friend was much too valuable to imperil unnecessarily.  It was precarious enough just going through the paces of daily life as a cop!

 

McGarrett COULD rationalize and spread some of the blame for this operation to Williams.  Dan was partially at fault -- he volunteered for dangerous assignments and discouraged McGarrett from being overly concerned and protective about his welfare.  It was Williams' way of over-compensating with his own traits of eagerness and pushing the limits.  Williams wanted to prove that nothing had changed since his brainwashing and that he could handle any assignment.  The detective was a skilled and talented operative and did not want to be limited because of his boss' worry.  Being a cop was a risky business and sometimes those risks were fatal.

 

Adversely, Steve overcompensated with a sense of invulnerability for his guys and himself.  Perhaps that was the only way he could live with the dangers they faced every day.  He was the one ultimately responsible for sending his detectives into the fire.  He was the one who died a little inside when one of the team was injured, or did not come back at all.

 

The core problem, McGarrett reasoned, was that he had grown too close to his team, to Williams.  He had never been drawn so close to anyone in his life.  Getting personally involved meant getting hurt.  Without meaning to, without realizing it, he had become too emotionally attached, too vulnerable about his friends -- about Danno.

 

The first time Williams had been wounded as a Five-0 detective, a deranged man had held him hostage.   McGarrett had lost control and reason trying to get Dan safely out before he bled to death.*****

 

Those long years ago, Steve had realized, but not really understood, that Williams had slipped under his skin to become his indispensable, closest friend.

 

There had been many other times since then when McGarrett had recognized his greatest susceptibility was in Williams.  Never, in all the worry and fear, had McGarrett questioned the weakness in his emotions.  Danno had proven to be everything a friend should be -- more than a friend -- a close, caring brother.  Danno was now an indispensable part of his life.  McGarrett had become too attached to break the strong ties even if he wanted to, which he did not.

 

So there was his dilemma:  He couldn't back away from his responsibilities as head of Five-0 -- from utilizing his skilled personnel.  Neither could he conquer his fear of losing what meant the most to him.  Nor could he change the nature of their work to assure Williams would be protected and never placed in harm's way again.  It was a bittersweet place.

 

 

*****

 

McGarrett dropped a hand onto Williams' shoulder.  "You're sure you're okay?"

 

"Yeah, really."  Dan's blue eyes mirrored the sincerity of his tone.  It was a silent reinforcement to let his boss know there was no cause for concern.  "Don't let it worry you."

 

The slightest hesitation in the tone gave McGarrett a trace of doubt.  Williams was covering up something -- probably the details on the bruises and split lip.  Steve would be anxious to read the report -- it would probably worry him more than ever once he found out the real dangers Danno had faced.  For now, he would match Williams' mood and play it cool.

 

Steve gave a slight nod.  "Good work, Danno.  Need a lift?"  He led the way over to his sedan.

 

"Home, please.  I'm gonna take a shower."  Williams tugged at his blue work shirt, which was stained with dirt and sweat.  His tone was purposely light, pushing Steve's soberness from the conversation.  "Then I'm gonna relax and hang out on my lanai with some cold beers.  You know that nut wouldn't let us have any drinks!"

 

"You mean you'll relax after you turn in your report?" McGarrett responded in a matching light vein.

 

There was a momentary grimace on Williams' face.  "All right.  But if I've done such good work and I have to turn in a report, then you can spring for my beers."

 

McGarrett opened the driver's door to his car and Williams crossed to the passenger side.  "Deal," Steve agreed over the roof.  

 

He smiled fondly at his friend, relieved this danger was behind them.  For now, he would push aside the anxiety of this assignment.  And he refused to worry about the future.  Today, everything had turned out fine -- Danno was alive.  For a cop -- for McGarrett -- that was the best finish they could put at the end of any day in paradise.

 

                     

PAU

 

 

 

     

* Short Walk on a Long Shore

** Death in the Family

*** Small Potatoes

**** Deadly Courier

***** King of the Hill