Quietly whistling a catchy tune he didn't remember the name of, Dan Williams
breezed into the common office area of Hawaii Five-0. He had just wrapped up a
tricky embezzlement case with HPD and he was feeling pretty pleased about life
in general and himself in particular. While McGarrett was away for the week,
Williams was holding the fort. It was just after six in the evening and with a
little luck, in another hour or so, he would be out the door and (since Duke was
on call) he'd have a whole evening to himself!
Lani was just covering her typewriter -- an indication that the day was over for the office staff. Ruefully, Williams wished her a good evening, silently muttering to himself that the detectives did not have such luxurious hours.
"Oh, this message came for you." There was a definite tease to Lani's voice and she scrutinized Williams as he read the note:
A grin spread across his face as he read the name. Suzi was one of those wonderful, bright personalities who made him smile whenever he thought of her.
Williams looked at the hopeful Lani. "What?"
"Another old flame?"
Williams laughed at the thought. "No, just an old friend."
"I've heard that before. Old friends don't make your face light up like that, Danny Williams," she countered and wagged a finger at him. "Come on, who is she? She wouldn't leave a last name. What's the mystery?"
"I already know her last name. No mystery," he replied with maddening casualness. He slipped into his office and removed his jacket.
"Sure," Lani sighed, disappointed she couldn't wheedle any more juicy information from the detective. "See you tomorrow," she called as she left the office.
Dan thumbed through his phone list and found David's number. Suzi was closer to this older brother than the other siblings in the family. These were the two kids in the bunch that Dan knew best. They had spent a lot of time together on baseball diamonds and afterwards in hamburger joints. Again, he felt himself smile at the memories; sunshine, chocolate malts, old leather mitts -- endless summers in his life.
The phone was answered by a child and Williams asked for her daddy. A man came to the phone and Williams chatted with David for a bit. Suzi had gone out, but David would have her return Dan's call. Determined to get his assignments finished, Williams got to work on the computer. Little snags of memories interfered with the official reports and finally Williams sat back, staring at the monitor without seeing the words on the screen.
He couldn't remember the first time he'd noticed Suzi. Sometime in the mid-Sixties, when she would tag along with David to ball practice. Girls weren't allowed on the team in those days, so Suzi would fill in during practice when another player wouldn't show. She was really very good, he recalled, and laughed out loud at the memory of when she had showed up at a game in one of her brother's uniforms, hair tucked under her cap, hoping to fool the umpire so she could be on the starting line-up. Dan had let her sit on the bench with the guys after that. The boys thought she was great -- one of the gang -- ignoring the technicality that she was a girl. After all, she had all the right qualifications for a team member: she knew how to play ball as good as a boy, she collected baseball cards, and she was a cop's kid.
A pang of grief struck him hard at the memory of her father. He had been a close friend and a great cop. His recent death was still a painful, open wound for everyone at Five-0.
The wrap on the wood of his cubicle startled Williams. He spun around to see Suzi Kelly, arms crossed, leaning against the doorframe.
"I knew I would find you here." There was a knowing, mock-reprimand in her expression, but a light tone in her voice.
It was a poignant echo of phrases from years gone by, of times when Suzi would drop by the office to catch a ride home with her dad when she got off work. Chin Ho Kelly had somehow juggled his duties to spare the time to drive his daughter (number five out of eight) home. Sometimes it was the only way he would cross paths with the busy teenager. With a sternness out of place with her youth, Suzi would scold her father, and the other detectives (whom she treated like wayward uncles), for staying so late at the office.
The chidings were received with amused tolerance because the mantle of dominance was somehow cute coming from the island teen. To the Five-0 men, she and the other Kelly children would always be their adopted brood; the dependents in an extended family of odd, but loving characteristics. Similarly, Duke's children and grandchildren were accepted as part of the fold; just as Aunt Clara had become the elite family's adopted, mischievous elderly relation.
"I'll be insulted if you choose paperwork over a dinner with me, Danny," Suzi flatly announced.
Williams shut down the computer and crossed to give the beautiful young woman a hug. "I never insult my favorite girls. Good to see you again, Suzi." The last time he had seen her was a few months ago when she had returned to Honolulu for her dad's funeral. Her mood today was bright, cheerful and upbeat; the shock of grief now faded from her manner. "What brings you back home?"
"End of college, remember?"
Williams nodded, recalling she had, by now, finished her college term at UC Berkeley, his alma mater. They chatted about her completion of a business degree as he closed up the office and they walked out to the parking lot.
It was too early for dinner, so Suzi suggested they take a walk on the beach and just visit.
She chose the scenic, but slightly touristy Magic Island across from the Ala Moana mall as the beach. It was a nice spot, but a bit too crowded for Williams' taste. It did have the advantage of being centrally located and offered a breathtaking view of Diamond Head and Waikiki. Although he lived only a few miles away, he rarely came down to the tourist centers. He had to admit, this WAS a picturesque piece of sand and surf. Anywhere on the island, however, he never tired of the contrasting, but well-blended colors painted by the sky and sea, the mountains and beaches.
"Steve'll be sorry he missed you this trip," Dan said.
He was sitting on the bumper of the car, removing his shoes and socks as a prelude to their stroll in the sand. Already divested of jacket and tie (gun and holster locked in the glove box), he felt a bit more relaxed for their walk.
"He's in LA visiting his sister and her family."
"His once-in-a-decade vacation? How did you get him off the island?"
"He was worn out. It's been . . . ."
Suzi's expression was sympathetic and touched his arm. "It’s been a rough year. How’s Steve been?"
"A workaholic. That's how he deals with -- with the tough times."
No need to remind Suzi how personally Steve took the injury or death of
ohana. The emotional effects of Chin's death had not diminished much with the passing of the months. Suzi's eyes reflected that knowledge. Of all the Kelly clan, Suzi had always been the one to worry when one of the detectives had been injured, to offer support when the Five-0 family needed the added strength.
"I'll be here for awhile. I want to talk to him." Suzi replied. They walked to the sand and Kelly pointed them in the direction of Diamond Head. "In a way, I'm glad Steve is gone. I wanted to talk to you first, Danny. I wanted to let you know what my plans are."
"Sounds serious," he returned lightly.
As they walked, Williams cast glances at this girl -- this beautiful, composed young woman -- whom he had known since she was little enough to bounce on his knee. Suzi had come to him when she wanted advise on a college to attend, and had followed his suggestion of Berkeley. Before that she had discussed with him her options of majoring in business or something else when in high school. Her senior year, he had been chosen as a subject for her feature article in the school paper.
Looking back, he realized his role as Dutch uncle had been fully utilized by this Kelly sibling, and it was a familial obligation he was honored to fulfill. Of all the dependents of Five-0 staff members, Suzi was the one who had come most often to the office; had become closest to McGarrett, and Williams over the years. It seemed only natural that now, at another turning point in her life, Suzi had come to him for advise.
Taking a deep breath she said, "I'm moving back home."
Williams nodded in silent approval. He withheld a comment because he knew from her manner that there was more to come. The sun was glittering in her dark hair, her sparkling eyes dancing with vibrancy like the reflected star-points of sun on ocean. There was an energy about her -- a blaze of enthusiasm for life and for the new horizons in her future.
She had changed since that dreadful week of the funeral. At that time, she had done some risky undercover work (without permission from McGarrett), to help apprehend her father's killer. By the time she left Honolulu, she was a matured and sobered young lady. Now, however, she was subtly altered again.
Dan suddenly realized she had not come to him for advise or approval; she was too self-assured and excited for that. She had come to TELL him about her life. The switch in roles was surprising and little disturbing for him. He felt a bit rejected, thinking that his role of advisory uncle was no longer needed. He poignantly realized the little girl, Suzi Kelly, was gone, and he would miss her.
"I've decided on a career here in Honolulu. I wanted you to be the first to know. With dad gone, you're the one who deserves to hear first." Excitement edged her every word. Her eyes sparkled with energy and light. She stopped and faced him. He smiled, caught up in her enthusiasm. She was practically bouncing from impatient anticipation and grabbed onto his arms as the joy bubbled out. "I've been accepted at the HPD academy! I'm joining the department!"
For several minutes, Williams was literally speechless. Suzi mistook his shock to be tongue-tied happiness, and she grabbed onto his hands in unbounded elation.
"Suzi, I can't believe it."
"I know, isn't it great! I wanted to surprise you and Steve."
He offered a rueful laugh and shook his head. "You've surprised me. What about your business degree?" he said, grabbing at some reference point to use until he could collect his thoughts.
"I didn't really decide until after Dad died." She was suddenly somber with private recollections. "After I helped you and Steve bring in dad's killer, I knew this was what I wanted to do with my life.** This is what I've always wanted to do, Danny. I was afraid to try it. I knew Steve, you and especially Dad, would hate me being a cop. But after he died I had to give it a try."
Impulsively, she gave him a hug. "Isn't it wonderful?"
He tried to pry her loose. "That wasn't the word I was thinking of."
She stubbornly clung to him. "And I don't want you or Steve helping me out, Danny. I want to do this on my own."
"I can promise we won't help a bit," he vowed. He could promise that McGarrett would likely try to get her ousted from the academy if he had that kind of influence at HPD, which he did not. He nearly voiced the thought, but seeing her optimistic elation, he curbed his anxieties and fell back on a natural line of interrogation. "Are you sure you're not just jumping into this because of your dad's murder?"
It was a cruelly stark question, but he reasoned that her career choice made her an open target for objections from friends and family. Unfortunately, her harshest critics would be her cherished role-models.
"I'm doing this for me," she replied adamantly. "Inside I'm a cop, Danny. I shouldn't have to explain that to you."
The words and tone were sober, mature and unequivocal. She was a young woman of dedication; someone who clearly had found her natural niche' in life. For a flash of a second, he visualized Suzi; on the ballfield, hanging out with the boys, interviewing him for the paper, risking her life to find evidence. Her team spirit, her amiable personality, her dedication and finally, her bravery, would smooth the way for her at the academy. Added to that were years of tutoring-by-example from her talented father. Suzi Kelly would make one hell of a good cop.
* * *
The evidence was so obvious he wondered how the Five-0 detectives had missed the signs all these years. Probably because none of them ever wanted one of the Kelly or Lukela kids to be cops. Certainly not one of the girls!
"You're not happy with my decision." It was a flat statement of disappointed reality. She released one of his hands, clinging to the other in a contact of persuasive intensity. "Oh, Danny," she sighed.
'The first of many bubbles to burst, Suzi,' he thought. Maybe it was kinder for him to be the one to pop some of her ethereal illusions.
"It won't be easy for anyone connected with Five-0," he warned. "It'll be harder. Everyone at HPD knew your dad. They'll use him as your measuring stick." There was no backing down. He sighed. "It won't be easy for us to think of you as a cop."
She tugged at his hand. A rueful expression played on her face. "You already know it's what I need to do with my life, Danny. You mean it won't be easy for Steve to accept."
"Yeah, try impossible."
"Come on, Danny. Once he sees how serious I am, he'll come around."
Williams sobered as he recalled Steve's struggles with coping with Chin's death. Steve would not meet his bombshell with any degree of pleasure.
"Steve still feels guilty about your dad's death. He'll hate this."
Sad regret dampened her enthusiasm. "He shouldn't. It wasn't his fault. I kept telling him that."
"I know. Convincing Steve -- of anything -- is pretty hard to do if he's already made up his mind. He feels responsible for everything that happens to a member of the team."
"Would you try to convince him, Danny? He'll listen to you."
Williams scoffed at the comment. He adamantly declined to try to persuade McGarrett about anything so touchy as giving his blessing to Suzi joining the force. Changing the subject, he suggested they turn around and catch the quickly approaching sunset at the other end of the beach.
They walked to the end of Magic Island to watch the huge tropic sun slide into the ocean. They sat on the breakwater rocks and let the waves lap at their bare feet. Williams steered their conversation to catching up on Suzi's college life. She managed, after a time, to bring Williams back to shop talk.
"Once I talk to Steve, he'll come around, won't he?"
"Eventually," Williams replied.. He did not go into detail about Steve's emotional struggles over the past months. He simply repeated his earlier warning that McGarrett was not going to like any member of the Kelly family exposing themselves to the dangers of police work.
"Then you don't think he'd ever let me join Five-0?"
"What!" Dan had to catch his breath from that incredible question. "Never!"
"And I agree. You can never join Five-0, Suzi. Don't ever mention it to Steve."
His tone clearly upset her, for which he was grateful. He briefly reminded her of how hard Steve had been hit by Chin's death. McGarrett, or Williams, could not cope with the burden of placing Chin's daughter in the line of fire.
"If you were ever on a case helping Five-0 and something happened to you . . . ." Williams let the thought fade away, unwilling to complete the morose possibilities.
"Okay," Suzi sighed. "I get your point. Thanks."
"For refusing to let you join Five-0?"
"For being my counselor, my friend."
He put an arm around her shoulder. "It's been my pleasure, Suzi. I'm always here for you."
"I knew there was a good reason I had a crush on you."
"A -- crush?" he stammered.
She laughed, pointing at his face when a blush crept slowly up to the roots of his sandy hair.
"You never knew? Some detective you are, Danny."
"A crush! How would I know?"
"I guess you wouldn't have noticed puppy love from a foolish little girl."
At once his flustered, but flattered ego plunged with disappointment. He felt deflated. Suzi had grown up. With her maturity had come a lot of harsh realities. They had all been sobered and marred by the tough edges of life. With the mark of the years, the innocent puppy love was a dinosaur of the past. He was disappointed in his loss in status.
She giggled, a shadow of the little girl creeping out, as she explained that everyone in the office knew of her hopeless crush on her idol, coach and friend. Steve had been guardedly amused, thinking it was cute. Chin had warned her in very stern terms he would never allow any of his daughters dating - - or thinking about dating -- a cop!
"Good advise," he firmly agreed. No cop would be good enough for Suzi. "And you better not start dating anyone in the department -- well, you better not."
It was a sentiment he had heard Chin comment on a time or two. Only when faced with frustrating or tragic days at the office. Williams, however, thoughtfully considered marriage to a cop as a tremendous risk. Not too many relationships lasted like the Kellys or the Lukelas. He was glad he himself had never married; he could not have given the union the attention and commitment it would deserve.
"You're sounding like Steve at his chauvinist worst," Suzi accused lightly. "Don't turn into a grouchy Dutch uncle on me, Danny."
Dan turned the tone back to serious talk. He warned her a cop's life was never easy. It was, also, sometimes dull, sometimes heartbreaking. If, however, she gave it her best, it would be a rewarding, exciting and even fun life.
"Thanks for believing in me, coach."
In her Menehune-mischief expression, he could see a reflection of the brash little girl who had tried to trick her way into a Little League game. Suzi still possessed that wonderful blend of grit, determination and sense for adventure which had been the foundation of her childhood. She was going to make a great cop, he decided, no matter how much her adopted uncles might worry.