F

   I

     S

       S

         U

            R

                E

                    S

By
GM



Reunited on a case with Kono Kalakaua, McGarrett and Dan travel to the Big Island for an adventure in murder.
 

August -- 1974
 
 

Engaged in knotting his dark blue tie, Steve McGarrett completed the task during the first two rings of the phone. Calls before seven AM on a Thursday morning meant something urgent afoot. Finishing the knot, he snatched up the receiver on the third ring.
 

"McGarrett."
 

"So, McGarrett, what's the real story on the Simmons murder?"
 

Expecting to hear the voice of the duty officer at HPD, Steve mentally reversed his thinking and barked out, "Who is this?"
 

"I'm offended you don't recognize my voice, McGarrett. Joe Boyd from -- "
 

"Boyd! How did you get my private number?"
 

"Hey, McGarrett, reporters have ways -- "
 

"Don't ever call me again, Boyd, or you'll have a whole new appreciation for privacy. From the inside of a cell!"
 

"Oh, come off it, McGarrett, you wouldn't arrest me for doing my job!" Almost instantly the declaration became amended. "Hey, it's a free country!"
 

"Yeah, well policemen have ways, Boyd!" he snapped and slammed down the phone.
 

Irritated at his loss of temper with the reporter, he excused the lapse to Boyd's effective surprise tactics. Consoled with the fleeting fantasies of various paybacks to the writer, he pondered the cryptic statement of the obnoxious reporter, sifting past his anger and surprise to the subject of the call. Snatching up the phone again, he dialed a number even as he sorted through postulations. He shouldered into his jacket and straightened his tie until the other end of the line was answered on the ninth ring.
 

"Williams."
 

The voice sounded breathless.
 

"Danno, have you been called about a murder involving Simmons?"
 

"Doug Simmons the big-shot developer? No, I just got back up from my swim. What's up?"
 

McGarrett explained his mysterious call, deducing there would be no information in the local Honolulu Advertiser, since Boyd just rang to pump him for information.
 

"Nasty wake up call," Williams muttered, the rustling sound of paper in the background. "I'm checking now just to make sure . . . no, nothing on Simmons in the Advertiser."
 

"All right, Danno, get into the office as soon as you can. I'll get with HPD. This might be nothing . . ." he ruminated unconvincingly.
 

"Not if Boyd had the moxy to call you at home at this hour!" Williams scoffed. "I just hope I'm there when you come up with a retaliation," he responded, his voice cheerful with anticipation.
 

"Deal," McGarrett agreed. Reporters should be put in their place, with Boyd at the top of the payback list.
 

For the two senior Five-0 officers, events moved with startling rapidity in the next hour. Confirmation of the death of millionaire developer Doug Simmons came from the unlikely source of the Hilo Police Department on the Big Island of Hawaii. Because Simmons Inc. dealt with several State projects, McGarrett informed Governor Jameson. At Jameson's persuasive suggestion, McGarrett and Williams took a morning flight to the Big Island to assess the situation first hand and take over the investigation. Reluctant to step on local law enforcement's toes, McGarrett promised to use his judgment in the matter.
 
 

*****


Before ten AM the Five-0 representatives, in a South Hilo PD jeep driven by Officer Polo, bounced over the rough lava backroads near the southeast coast of the Big Island's Puna district. The region of the island chain's only active volcanoes; most of the landscape glittered black from ancient and recent eruptions. Off the main roads and paths selected for sightseers, they drove over the rugged terrain of pahoehoe lava and listened to Polo's narration of the case.
 

"Mr. Simmons was murdered, no question. Head bashed in with a hefty chunk of lava. He was found near an active vent of Kilauea Iki. He was off the marked trail going across the lava." Polo gestured around at the stark black surrounding them from horizon to horizon. "This vent 's been active for about a week. Nothing bubbling up to the surface. Mostly subterranean lava. The scientists have been checking it every day. One of 'em found the body this morning. Otherwise it could have been weeks or months 'til anybody found Simmons."
 

The warm summer sun intensified to baking heat amid the hard, ebony crust of old volcanic flows. Nearby, grey skeletons of burned out ohia trees still stood as monuments from past destruction. Cinder cones dotted the area, giving the impression of a primeval world only a half-hour's drive from drizzly, overcast Hilo.

Beyond the remnants of the charred trees, an incongruous rainforest thrived in the mineral-rich soil created from centuries-old flows. The unique and breathtaking topography of cold and hot, rainforest and volcano was just one of the many compelling charms of the Big Island. Small flagged stakes driven into the lava marked the safe road through the cinder field. To venture off the posted trail could mean instant death because of the varying thickness of the cooled crusts. A car or a person could abruptly break through the unstable, thin crust and be cooked by the molten lava below before even a cry of surprise could be uttered.
 

McGarrett held onto the roll bar with one hand and wiped sweat from his face with the other. "Any idea what Simmons was doing out here?"
 

"You bet," Polo sneered. "Simmons' company owns some of the land 'round these parts. They want to build a thermonuclear plant, plus the whole works -- houses, shopping malls, da kine." He laughed wickedly. "The last few weeks, Pele's had other plans."
 

From the back seat Dan leaned forward. "You mean he was afraid the lava was heading for his property?"
 

"That's what everybody's hoping."
 

"Everybody but Simmons and his stockholders," McGarrett corrected.
 

Polo shrugged. "Only pupule malihini think they can live downslope where Pele lives, bruddah. 'Nuff said 'bout dat, right?"
 

Williams shouldered out of his suit jacket and loosened his tie. The steamy atmosphere and sun-baked black lava intensified the tropical heat of this southern most island in the archipelago. "So Simmons had a lot of enemies around here?"
 

"Da kine who live here, bruddah," was Polo's fervent accord.
 

Veering away from the skeletal trees, they bounced over rough paths winding around mounds of craggy, chunky a'a lava. From fumaroles, slender tendrils of steam snaked over the landscape like strands from a giant spider web. Occasionally the red glow of lava could be seen peppered through the geysers of puffy white, creating incandescent, eerie trails of crimson stripes down to the frothing, bubbling sea. Steam billowed like smoke as the scalding lava hit the cool Pacific. Blown across the rifts, winds carried the telltale stench of sulfur.
 

"There are fissures everywhere," McGarrett exclaimed.
 

"Yeah, more every day. This is gonna be some eruption. New rifts opening all the time," Polo agreed.
 

They crested a knoll and abruptly entered the crime scene. To their left, a depression in the terrain sloped toward an open fissure. Beyond, several hundred yards, lay the dark blue/purple swells of the deep Pacific, a starkly fresh and beautiful backdrop to the blackness of the lava. The pungent odor of brimstone blew on the salty breeze. Scattered to their right, several police jeeps, a coroner's four-wheeler, various other vehicles and numerous people surrounded a sheet-draped body, all combining to mar the tropical imagery of paradise.
 

Polo led them to the main knot of officials.
 

One broad, tall man in Hilo PD suntans and a matching baseball cap waved to them. "Danny! Steve!"
 

Williams shielded his eyes with a hand. "Kono!"
 

The big Kono Kalakaua engulfed the detective in a warm greeting.
 

"Danny, great to see you!" The former Five-0 detective turned to McGarrett and offered his hand. "Steve, I didn't think they'd call out the big shots on this one."
 

McGarrett shook hands with his ex-associate. "Good to see you, Kono. How's life on the Big Island?"
 

"Quiet, usually," Kono Kalakaua responded with a sigh.
 

Steve's expression seemed more intent than his mild rejoinder. "Just the way you like it."
 

"You got that right," Kalakaua agreed. "We like livin' simple, no complications here." he said, a bit more fervently than necessary.
 

Dan literally stepped between them. "So it must have been a surprise for the scientists this morning."
 

"Yeah. This is the first murder since I've been the police chief here. And it's a big one, bruddah."
 

"Yeah, we heard Simmons wasn't Mister Popularity around here."
 

"No where else in the islands, either. So how come it takes a murder to get you two over here for a visit?" the chief chided. "Still can't find the time?" This last he directed mostly at McGarrett.
 

"Same old story," Williams quipped, "More crime than time."
 

McGarrett was anxious to proceed. "Well, Kono, let's have a look."
 

This close to an active vent, the air was thick, both visually and literally. Even the faint sea breeze could not clear the grey mist of ash filling the atmosphere. Every breath brought in cloudy oxygen. Steve's camel-tan suit darkened to deep tan, and Williams' white shirt turned a beige as they walked across the chunky lava. As they approached the body, the normally natural coolness from the nearby ocean was warmed by closeness to the volcanic vent creating a stifling, uncomfortable sauna.
 

Kalakaua led the way to the corpse. The Five-0 officers checked the body as Kono gave his report. The forty-three year old developer, Simmons had met his instant demise from a rock smashed into the back of his skull. Probably taken by surprise, there was no evidence of a struggle and no forensic evidence seemed likely. No murder weapon, no tracks or other traces of the killer remained except for two items.
 

"Belonged to the victim's partner, Sam Teague," Kono said, handing McGarrett an evidence bag containing an expensive watch. He nodded to the only non-sports vehicle in the area, a late model Thunderbird. "So did the car."
 

"You're using past tense, Kono," Williams noted. "Is there a reason for that?"
 

Kalakaua pointed to a jagged cavity several feet from the corpse. "Thin crust. I think Teague brought Simmons up here, killed him, and was going to dump the body in the fissure over there. But the ground caved, in and Teague was swallowed by the fires of Pele."
 

McGarrett studied the rim of the chasm. "Can anyone get over there to check for evidence?"
 

"The guys from the Volcano Institute will check it out for us." He indicated a man and woman suiting up in silver, insulated hazard gear. "They might be able to get close enough to look for something snagged on the rocks, but not to the lip of the fissure. Too dangerous. The crust's thin all over here. That hole's a skylight now."
 

"Skylight?" Steve repeated.
 

"Opening above a lava tube, the hot, liquid magma runs through like a river. On the edges it cools and forms lava tubes. When the crust is thin, especially on top, portions cave in and you can look right down into the stream like through a skylight."
 

Williams grimaced. "A nasty way to go."
 

"Yeah," Steve speculated his tone doubtful. "Maybe."
 

Dan's surprise registered in his tone and expression as he scrutinized his boss. "You don't think that's how it happened?"
 

"I don't know, Danno."
 

Williams' face reflected an understanding that McGarrett's suspicions were not completely formulated yet. All would be revealed when they found more pieces of the puzzle. Years of experience cautioned him to allow his boss the flexibility and time to ponder the evidence and form theories based on the facts at hand. Rare were the times McGarrett failed to pave the right path toward a solution of the crime. Always eager to learn from the best detective he had ever known, Williams watched and listened, aware that it was a mistake to take anything at face value when dealing with crime.
 

"Seems simple enough to me," Kono countered with a slight edge.
 

Impatiently, McGarrett reminded the former subordinate, now a ranking local officer in his own right, that Five-0 had been called in because the Simmons company held state contracts and the Governor was nervous. Throughout the islands, Teague and Simmons were not well liked by locals, but they were courted by investors and businessmen. Their latest projects; the thermonuclear plant, tract houses and shopping centers, were a controversial sore point, too close to Pele's domain. Such corporate leaders accrued enemies and widened the rift between malihini, the newcomers, and kama'aina, the residents -- between haoles, Caucasians, and native Polynesians. McGarrett would not accept the obvious, easy solution without further investigation.
 

Kono shook his head in disagreement. "Locals predicted the wrath of Pele on these malihini, Steve."
 

"I'm thinking of a force more mortal and common."
 

"Either way," Dan intervened, "it was an accurate prediction for Simmons."
 

The ground beneath them rippled and McGarrett and Dan exchanged startled looks.
 

"Quakes," Kono reminded. "Hundreds every day, but this week they're stronger and more frequent."
 

"Another big eruption coming?" Dan guessed.
 

Kono confirmed with a nod. "That's what the kahuna say."
 

Steve waved his hand in a seesaw fashion. "An eruption on Simmons' land?"
 

"That's what everybody thinks. Pele reclaiming her own before the developers can ruin her aina."
 

McGarrett speculated on the affect this might have on the Simmons company, but without more specific data it gave him no clear motive for murder. All three studied the Teague vehicle, talked with the scientist who found the body and discussed their next steps. The Hilo PD was a small office with no extra manpower for an extended investigation or extensive legwork. McGarrett indicated his plans to bring Chin Ho Kelly and Ben Kokua over from Honolulu for the day and see to the details of the case.
 

Once more, Kalakaua voiced his opinion to the state police chief that it was a simple murder followed by the accidental death of the killer. McGarrett could not agree so readily.
 

"Call it the wrath of Pele, or dirty business, Steve, the guy is dead and so is his partner. Good riddance! Case closed!" Kono maintained. "Why make things hard?"
 

Not rising to the challenging tone, McGarrett mildly responded, "Because I have to be sure, Kono."
 

"Same old Steve," Kalakaua sighed with resignation. "I guess this means you're taking over the investigation?"
 

"Yeah, Kono. We'll want your help, of course."
 

"Can't offer you much. I've got a macadamia growers convention here all week. Can't spare more than Officer Polo's part time assistance."
 

Studying the big Hawaiian, Steve's tone reflected his amazement. "A macadamia growers convention?"
 

The big policeman shrugged, but his voice seemed strained. "It's the big business here, Steve. We're not in Honolulu anymore. The Big Island is different turf."
 

The head of Five-0 shook his head. "This is murder, Kono."
 

"And the murderer's dead," Kalakaua stubbornly maintained. "I've got better things to do."
 

"You don't want in on this?" McGarrett held the gaze of a man he still fondly thought of as part of his adopted ohana. No longer antagonistic, the Hawaiian now seemed regretful. Not for himself or for his authority being usurped by the autonomous Five-0, but for McGarrett. Kono didn't miss the old life of the stressed out detective, but seemed to feel sorry that nothing had changed for Five-0, for Steve. McGarrett's stubborn Irish ego resented the pity. "It's a chance to work in the main stream again."
 

"No thanks. I'm happy with the backwater now. You want the case, it's yours."
 

"Whatever help you can spare is appreciated, Kono," Steve conceded.
 

"I'll work with you on that," Williams offered. "Hey, how're Lia and the kids?"
 

"Great. You guys need to make the time to come over and see them."
 

"Yeah, of course," Dan agreed readily.
 

McGarrett surrendered a nod.
 

"I'll go talk to Polo."
 

The big Hawaiian walked away. McGarrett watched him with intense and confusing emotions vying for supremacy. Part of him felt disappointed at Kono's talents wasted in the small time job in Hilo. Another corner of his mind felt regret at the loss of a great officer and loyal friend. A small, doubting piece of his thoughts again questioned the true allegiance of an officer who abandoned him/Five-0 for second best.
 

"He doesn't need Five-0 anymore, Steve," Williams the peacemaker quietly supplied, as if reading his thoughts. "It's not something personal against you. He has a job better suited for him now."
 

A grin flicked at the corner of his mouth. "Thanks, Danno, but I don't need an explanation. Kono can handle his own life." He patted his friend on the shoulder. "And we've got a murder to solve. Guess we'll have to call in the big guns from Honolulu."
 

"I thought we were the big guns!" Williams quipped with a smile.
 

McGarrett gave him a friendly shove. "Go back with Kono and arrange for a command post somewhere at police headquarters. And you better book some rooms at the Naniloa Surf."
 

"You think we'll be staying for awhile?"
 

"Yeah, Danno. I can't buy this convenient theory about Teague falling down a fissure."
 

Williams nodded in understanding. "Well, your hunches are usually right. And I won't argue with a few days in one of my favorite cities."
 

"Just remember you're not on holiday."
 

"I don't think you'll let me forget," came the wry response. "What are you going to do?"
 

"Tell Chin and Ben to pack their bags for a little excursion over here to the volcano fields. Then," he grimaced, "I'm calling the Governor and giving him the bad news."
 

Neither officer found their respective tasks simple. McGarrett's objective of the staff relocating to the Big Island, even temporarily, did not work because of events unfolding in Honolulu. Chin needed to testify in a court case. Ben had left the office earlier to investigate the latest burglary by a second-story man he'd been pursuing for weeks. With all the detectives out, several cases were up in the air and the office in a state of mild chaos for Jenny Sherman the secretary. McGarrett left orders for Kelly or Kokua to call him at the earliest possible convenience, his mind already switching to alternative plans.
 

The interview with the Governor turned out to be as irritating as Steve expected, ending with admonitions to the head of Five-0 about the economy, stability and political powerbase of the state resting on McGarrett's investigation. Resigned to the necessity of old-fashioned policework, he caught a ride back to Hilo with Officer Polo and made a mental list of priorities for his investigation.
 
 

*****

On the ride back to town with Kono, Williams' conversations centered around Kalakaua's family and life on the Big Island. Kalakaua talked of everything except the current case. Williams knew his friend as a man nearly incapable of artifice, and recognized the difficulty of the situation. Kono had left Five-0 for a number of reasons: pressure of the workload, lack of personal time, and the intense demands of a perfectionist boss. For an easy-going cop, the strain had reached a breaking point when Kalakaua married and discovered a higher priority than the elite police force. [fan-story -- WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT -- Anniversary section]
 

Not considered lightly, his resignation from Five-0 created first tension then fissures of resentment between Kono and McGarrett. The tight police unit functioned as ohana -- family -- and a member of a family did not just walk away without creating complications. The offer of Assistant Chief of South Hilo PD, under the command of Chief Ohano, came unexpectedly to Kalakaua. Seeing the lightning-strike opportunity as an answer to his prayers, Kono immediately accepted the post and resigned without more than a few days notice. After several years, Kalakaua became chief when Ohano retired.
 

Incredibly shrewd and astute as a detective, McGarrett occasionally exhibited a blindspot with relationships. His team always merited nearly one hundred percent of his time, loyalty and commitment. Idiosyncratically, he expected the same from his subordinates, even though realistically, he knew Chin, Kono, Jenny and other staff members claimed real families as their top priority. McGarrett frequently found it difficult to relate to the concept of life outside Five-0. He devoted most of his time and energy to the job, as did Dan as second-in-command. The rest of the staff, striving to live up to his commitment, made extraordinary sacrifices for the unit. In everyone's life, however, there were limits to professional devotion, and Kono's endurance ended much too abruptly for McGarrett.
 

The last few days of Kono's employment with Five-0 had been fraught with tension. Finally, leaving on an amicable but strained note, Kono's talents and traits had been instantly missed. McGarrett stoically accepted the desertion, but privately admitted to Dan the sense of hurt, perplexity, and betrayal engendered by the defection.
 

Caught between his old friend, Kono, and his closest friend, Steve, whom he respected and admired above all other men, Williams did his best to defend Kalakaua's actions while consoling McGarrett. The touchy transition eventually passed, the very capable and personable Ben Kokua filled the gap in the unit, and life at Five-0 went on without much of a ripple. In the intervening years, Williams took a few surfing trips to the Big Island, visiting the Kalakaua family in Hilo a few times. Finding it hard to relate to the small-town cop/family man with two kids, the holidays had trailed off.
 

Once more Dan found himself in the middle of his two friends. Clearly the issue of Kono's departure had never resolved itself for the two principles, and the past now abruptly caught up to them. The subliminal contention demanded resolution before the case could be dealt with. Seeing no point in avoiding the discord any longer, he plunged into what was obviously on both their minds.
 

"So you think this will be a problem working with Steve again?"
 

"No problem," Kono shrugged. "Steve's in charge. I think he's making a mistake, but it's not my problem, bruddah. I got macadamia nuts to worry about."
 

"Kono, you know how it is with a case. If it looks like a major crime Five-0 -- "
 

Scowling, the Hawaiian countered, "Danny, you don't have to make excuses. I don't forget the drill so easy."
 

"I'm not making excuses for Steve, or me. You're not happy about this, Kono, and I want to smooth things out. Steve's not mad at you about resigning. He was confused and a little hurt when you left, sure, you're ohana. This is a case. It's not personal."
 

Kono shook his head. "No, same thing, Danny. For Steve, and for you, too, but not so bad. The job is his life and it's hard for him to see beyond that. Steve's been that way for a long time. Five-0 will always be his life.  Your life, too. You always followed in Steve's path, always will."
 

"Do you think I'm against you on this or something?"
 

"You can't help it."
 
 

"There are no sides on this issue, damnit! We're all cops. We're working together to solve a murder. There's no reason we can't work smoothly on this. You're my friend!" Abruptly gritting his teeth Dan bit back more impassioned pleas. Arguing would make it impossible to maintain his middle ground, but two stubborn friends made for frustrating negotiations. What made it more difficult was Kono's accurate assessment of their characters. Steve, and yes, Dan as well, were dedicated to their careers, to Five-0. All other personal relationships seemed to take second place to their commitment and attention. Indeed, he did follow Steve's path all too closely, and he did not consider it a miscalculation. "You are my friend, too, Kono," he reiterated. "The job will never come between us. Moving here was right for you."
 

Defensively, Kono explained, "I needed my own life, Danny. Because you're here doesn't mean I'm back on your team."
 

"I know that. Steve does, too. Coming here is awkward for him, for you. You can't resent what he's doing for -- "
 

"I don't, Danny, not really. But he sure can be irritating."
 

Dan laughed at the colossal understatement so typical of his old friend. The mirth was infectious and soon both were chuckling about stories from the past. They parked in front of the old, small police station in the downtown section of Hilo, the mood perceptibly lighter.
 

"Things are rough sometimes, like the lava flow, Danny," Kalakaua commented, the unusual tension no longer clinging to him. "Sometimes big fissures, heat and steam pouring through the vents. The rough a'a struggling and pulling, stretching the aina. But the pahoehoe flows slow, smooth, and cools, and everything's polished out. It don't pay to be too close to that lava, bruddah, no matter what it looks like. A'a or pahoehoe, no matter. Me, I needed to live away from the volcano."
 

"You've always been a great philosopher, Kono. With Steve around, there are always steam fumaroles and fissures, but it all smoothes out and cools off in the end."
 

"You're the one who smoothes the lava for him, Danny. He relates to you more than anyone I've ever seen. He needs you."
 

Embarrassed, Williams shrugged away the compliment. "I don't know about that. He's the most independent person in the world."
 

"Got that right, bruddah. But he needs you more than he understands. Hope he realizes it someday."
 

Ruminating on the comments, Dan took much of what Kono said to be true. McGarrett relied on few people outside his special police unit and still shouldered most of the burdens himself. Frequently taking actions into his own hands, Steve often placed himself in danger to personally oversee a case. Over the years Dan found the balancing act of second-in-command a frustrating job because Steve insisted on doing so much, inadvertently crowding Dan out of the picture. The overbearing tendencies did not disturb Williams' ego so much as his sense of obligation. So many times Steve had placed himself in unnecessary danger when Dan's presence could have saved some blood and pain.
 

"We're more alike than people think," he admitted of his affinity with McGarrett. "More similarities than not, I guess. That's why we work well together."
 

"You're his closest friend, Danny, and he's gonna need you when he takes the fall on this Simmons case. He's wrong, man. Pele may not have killed Simmons and Teague, but her fiery hands were in on it somehow. Fate, destiny, karma, whatever. They dead 'cause they taunted the wrong akua, the wrong goddess, and that's the only kind of murder mystery you gonna find here."
 

Kono exited the jeep, and Dan took a moment to mentally gird his courage. Respectful of the tradition, but never one to believe much in the old Hawaiian legends he'd grown up with, he never accepted them in police work. Kono tended to see mysticism instead of mystery. Like his mentor McGarrett, Dan saw cold, mortal facts. Their stay on the Big Island looked as if it would prove a challenge -- with the case, in personal interaction, and overcoming superstitions.

*****

A frustrated Steve tapped his fingers on the front desk at the Naniloa Surf. So far his sojourn on the Big Island had proved frustrating and it showed no sign of improvement. Usually members of his staff, or local cops, arranged trifling details like car rentals and hotel rooms on the outer islands. Thanks to the macadamia nut convention (of all things!), there were no rooms and no rental cars available. Probably laughable in different circumstances, Steve found the dilemma irritating in the extreme. News of the double deaths (already labeled murder/accidental death by the local coconut wireless) was on the lips of locals and tourists alike, and the name of 'Pele' floated on the morning air like a haunting mist.
 

'I guess I could blame her for the convention, too,' he snidely thought as he turned to pace a track around the breathtakingly beautiful lobby of the hotel. 'Or maybe I should just put it down to bad Irish luck. We're known for both sides of the chance coin. Madame Pele doesn't hold the market on superstitions!'
 

"Have you issued an eruption warning, Steve?" Dan asked in amusement as he came over to pace beside his friend. "Or are you going to surprise the locals?"
 

Despite his ill humor, McGarrett surrendered the ghost of a grin at the crack. "Danno, tell me you've had better luck this morning than I have. They told me you requested the rooms, but they were booked solid."
 

"Yeah, they were checking around town. I asked them to call Volcano House, too, but there's little chance of an opening there, that's always booked months in advance, especially with the eruptions." Gauging his boss's irritation, he pressed his advantage. "Kono did offer to let us shack up at his place." Alarm briefly played across the stern Irish countenance, then Williams chuckled. "We could share a room with the kids, I guess."
 

Knowing he was caught in one of Williams' facetious ploys, McGarrett smirked. "Please, not today."
 

"You're lucky. I already, graciously, declined."
 

"Tell me you've managed to secure a car." It was more of a plea than an order.
 

Dan grinned. "I have. So at least we have wheels.
 

Williams explained he had borrowed Polo's jeep for the duration of their stay. Strolling to the railing of the comfortable, open-air lobby, he brought the boss up to speed on the case as they watched the surf pound the black lava rocks just below their location. The water seemed an unreal purple/blue, making for a strikingly dramatic view with the blending of the tropical colors of sky, ocean and rock. McGarrett barely spared a glance at the panorama, instead concentrating on Williams' report. The Hilo police station contained only room for their immediate operations, an unsurprised Williams had learned. A command post would be established at the Naniloa Surf hotel and communications with coroners, labs and other investigators integral to the case needed to be coordinated either by phone or by courier.
 

Offered complimentary fruit drinks from management, they took seats in a small conversation area of the breezy lobby. McGarrett shook his head, frustrated with the small town hindrances in the county capitol of the Big Island. Williams reminded him the outer islands were predominantly rural, their lifestyles and cultures completely different from what they were used to in Honolulu.
 

"Maybe you should get out more, Steve," Williams admonished.
 

"Are you saying I'm out of touch with the islands?" came the sharp challenge.
 

Dan cocked him a raised eyebrow. "I was thinking more like a weekend off to enjoy the most beautiful place in the world."
 

"Oh. Sorry. This case already has me keyed up, and it's barely noon!"
 

Williams patted his stomach. "Speaking of noon, I'm starved. Why don't we have some lunch first. Then we can go talk to the supposed widow of Sam Teague."
 

"Sounds good," McGarrett nodded. "Then we need to check the books of Simmons' company. Kono's people get over there yet?"
 

"Just to inform the office staff of what was going on."
 

"Then that should be our next stop."
 

"After lunch."
 

"Right." McGarrett gave his friend a pat on the shoulder as they walked toward the restaurant. "Thanks, Danno."
 

"For remembering lunch?"
 

"Yeah. For keeping me focused when I get extreme."
 

"You, extreme?" Dan sarcastically returned.
 

The comment earned him a friendly punch in the arm. "For that, you get to spring for lunch."
 

"Ouch! Now that really hurts!"

*****

After the meal their first stop at the Teague's luxurious house on the coast south of Hilo proved another negative in their collection of failures. Mrs. Laura Teague, under the advice of her physician, had left for one of several private residences on the Big Island or Oahu. McGarrett put Officer Polo (stuck back at the Hilo office) on the track of the lady. Next came the most dreaded of police tasks: following paper trails, which tied up the officers for the rest of the day. Ben and Chin both called and received remote assignments to search out traces of Teague on Oahu or the mainland and gather financial reports on the company from around the state. Kono and Polo both contributed a few hours of legwork on background checks, researching alibis of associates and close friends of the victim and suspected murderer.
 

Tropical sunset fell unnoticed as the two Five-0 detectives finished a satisfying history of financial records, various holdings, pending deals, friends and relations and business rivals of Simmons and Teague. In hopes of finding a room for the night, the officers returned to the Naniloa Surf to find their first break in the case, a reservation cancellation. Satisfied with a full day of useful investigative information and a place to sleep, McGarrett looked forward to the upcoming dinner and discussion. Kono and Polo arrived to compare notes. Disputes forgotten, the officers easily meshed in their wrap-up conversation.
 

Over fresh mahi-mahi and macadamia nut pie, they learned nearly everything on record about the businessmen and their business, but came no closer to solving the crime. Teague had vanished without trace. The crust around the crime scene's fissure remained unstable, leaving no way to prove or disprove the theory of Teague's accidental death. No grudges, finances or crooked deals pointed to enemies with motives to kill one or both partners. Of their personal relationship, the men seemed well suited to working smoothly and prosperously together. The biggest flaw in their ever-expanding empire seemed the local, extremely fervent opposition to the developer's plan for the Puna area.
 

Dishes rattled and lights swung overhead as another tremor shook the island. This one was longer and stronger than the one felt on the lava field earlier in the morning. Kalakaua confirmed the tremors had increased throughout the day. Signs of an imminent eruption made McGarrett even more anxious to wrap up the case as quickly as possible.
 

"Kono, if we don't come up with something soon, I might put you on the suspect list!" McGarrett kidded, relaxed enough to joke with his associates.
 

"Maybe Pele did kill them," Dan suggested, not entirely teasing.
 

"Then we'll book her!" Steve insisted.
 

Chuckling at the foolish humor of overly fatigued cops, Kono suggested they break for some fresh air. After dessert they strolled across a quaint, oriental bridge in Liliokalani Gardens, a parkland/garden interwoven with the rocky beach near the hotel. Still discussing the case, they encountered occasional interruptions by friendly locals stopping to chat with the police chief. Here, in a rare instance, McGarrett held no special celebrity focus or authority. The residents talked to Kono about the good news of Pele's revenge, the good luck of Divine Providence, or the hand of Fate helping the Islands. Kalakaua, officially neutral in the dispute with developers, unofficially held notoriety for a strong stance against the Simmons project. Like most residents, he opposed any development, especially energy plants, that would disrupt the natural harmony of the land.
 

Unrestrained by occupation of public office, Polo vocally supported the theory of Pele's benevolent, if violent, intervention for her people. He thought Simmons and Teague wiped off the face of the earth and into the fiery bowels of the volcano goddess. Enthusiastically espousing his theory to a small crowd gathered along the shoreline, his fervency carried him into criticism of the investigation.
 

Steve, irked at the unrestrained delight at the murder and a possible accidental death, reminded the local cops their obligation to investigate the crime remained, even if they believed both developers deserved to die. Buoyed by McGarrett's lack of evidence to support his theories and resentful of Five-0 top cops invasion of his own turf, and by a little too much beer at dinner, Polo continued his unrestrained censure.
 

"You big city haole cops don't have all the answers, you know. This is Pele's land. Not mine, not yours. Not Simmons. You insult her by your arrogance!"
 

"Polo!" Kono barked, finally halting the voluble officer. "You're drunk! You talkin' like a crazy old tutu. Get to the jeep, I'm gonna drive you home to sleep this big buzz off, bruddah."
 

To his colleagues, he apologized. "Sorry, Steve, Danny. Feelings running high on this."
 

"Obviously," McGarrett agreed. "It doesn't change things, Kono. I will not allow superstition or local prejudice to color an investigation. I know you won't either."
 

Slowly, Kono shook his head. "Older and wiser minds than mine think we're wasting our time, Steve. Maybe you don't believe in Pele or the old ways, but I know you respect them. You understand what the local talk is about."
 

"I understand it, Kono, but I can't support it. Someone killed Simmons and maybe even Teague. We just don't have the answers, yet. It's my job to get them and I need your help, unclouded by superstition. You're a twentieth century cop, Kono. I know you won't forget that."
 

Their course wound back to the hotel and Williams stopped to scan the headlines in the evening paper. Involuntarily a sigh escaped him and before he could cover up the glaring caption, McGarrett read the news over his shoulder.
 

CHIEF KALAKAUA BLAMES DEATHS ON PELE
 

The article's subheading hinted at government intervention in the form of McGarrett. Polled locals seemed of the opinion he came over from Honolulu to take the investigation away from their own in a bid to make the haole businessmen seem innocent of environmental wrong-doing. The story's bias underscored the idea of developers falling out, ultimately getting what they deserved, and visiting cops who might try to unjustly accuse locals of the crime.
 

Resentful of the false accusations, bruised by the seeming defection of Kono, Steve didn't know which injustice to respond to first. Bewildered, he turned to his former detective.
 

"Kono . . . ."
 

The big man shrugged sadly. "They caught me in a weak moment, Steve. Sorry."
 

Giving his old friend the benefit of the doubt, McGarrett hoped, "But you were misquoted?"
 

Kalakaua levelly returned his intent gaze. "It would be easy to cop out and say that, Steve, but it's not true. I think you're wrong on this. I couldn't lie."
 

Stung, his voice reflected the ache and betrayal. "So you told the press instead of talking to me?"
 

"This is where I live, this is my community, where my children are growing up. My responsibility is here, not with you anymore, Steve."
 

McGarrett's teeth ground together, the anger, resentment and distress palpable in his expression and tone. "This investigation goes forward with or without your cooperation, Kono."
 

"I'll give you all the cooperation I can, Steve, but I just don't agree with you."
 

"You don't have to. That's never been what I wanted," he responded sharply, no longer speaking of the current rift alone. "What I expected was loyalty!"
 

Kono sighed in frustration. "Just like three years ago. You don't understand, do you, Steve? This isn't about you personally. I enjoyed working with Five-0, it was my ohana. But I wanted a different kind of life. With a wife and kids, I needed more than Five-0 -- or you -- could offer."
 

McGarrett shook his head, initially denying the truths he could not vocally dispute. From the first announcement of Kono's intent to leave Five-0, to now, Steve lacked the emotional understanding of something he considered completely reasonable on an intellectual level. Just as now, on a mental plane, he knew everything Kono said was true, yet it did not lessen the hurt at all. He knew none of this was personal, still, he could not help but feel the disloyalty with an incredibly deep and painful pang in his heart.
 

Quietly, his voice shielding any vulnerabilities or emotions, he entreated, "Let's just clear up this case as soon as we can, one way or the other. Then we'll be out of your way."
 

Kono readily agreed and McGarrett stalked off to the desk. Dan lingered.
 

"How could you do this, Kono? You know how important teamwork and unity are to Steve."
 

"I'm not on your team anymore, Danny."
 

"What happened to the idea of cooperation? We're cops, Kono! How could you sell out to a reporter, or anybody else?"
 

"I just told them the truth. And you know you feel the same way, deep down, Danny. You think this is hopeless. You know Simmons and Teague got what they deserved."
 

"No, I don't. I think they deserve whatever justice we can give them." His voice trembled with anger and mingled with a sympathetic ache for his closest friend. This was personal for all of them. He was afraid of more distress before they left this land of violence, fissures and hot eruptions. "Steve deserves better than this. I hope you decide to make it up to him."
 

Without waiting for a reply he joined McGarrett at the desk. Tersely, the head of Five-0 explained their room was ready. He handed his younger colleague a key.
 

"You can visit with Kono if you want. I'm going up to make some calls."
 

"I was just talking to him," Williams countered, aware his lingering with Kono gave Steve the wrong impression.
 

"You don't have to explain, Danno. I'll see you later." McGarrett walked to the elevators.
 

Muttering to himself about hardheaded, stubborn people, Williams went down to the rocky beach just under the hotel lobby. Strolling in the surf he walked away from the hotel lights until the sky was dotted by flickering starlight. A lot of thought needed to be poured into this problem before it could be solved, he knew, and he wasn't thinking only about the case.
 

*****

McGarrett woke abruptly, lying in bed for still seconds as he searched for the reason he was startled awake. Slightly disoriented at his new surroundings, he noticed the lamp swinging over the table as he recalled where he was and what he was doing in a hotel room in Hilo. Another earthquake. Dropping his head back on the pillow he stared at the ceiling and oriented himself to the strange surroundings. Hilo, Naniloa Surf, morning.

Assigned one of the courtesy rooms reserved for extra guests, this small accommodation was next to the laundry room. His Navy training of catching 'Zzzzzs' anywhere, plus an exhausting and trying day, had provided him with a fitful enough sleep. He jumped when the phone rang and grabbed for the receiver.
 

"McGarrett."
 

"Steve, Ben. I got the information Danny asked for last night."
 

Sitting up, he noted the other bed still made. His colleague had not slept in the room during the night. His watch showed it to be 06:09 AM. Slumber rapidly fleeing his mind, he deduced Williams' absence meant some kind of work in progress.
 

"Okay, go," the boss acknowledged without knowing what Kokua was talking about.
 

"It took a lot of digging to sort through various paper trails, but I found out Mrs. Teague was a silent partner in the firm. She's the beneficiary of all holdings and money. And the three associates held a whopping insurance policy in the millions for the company."
 

Now alert and mentally functioning, Steve gave a low whistle. "Good work, Ben. What else?"
 

"Chin learned Mrs. Teague spent most of her time on the mainland or in Honolulu. Seems she doesn't dig the rustic life in Hilo. But she hasn't come back to Honolulu since Simmons' body was discovered. Hope that helps."
 

"Great, Ben, thanks. When did you hear from Danno last night?"
 

"Nearly twelve-thirty. You guys are keeping late hours over there."
 

"Yeah, some of us are working overtime. I'll check in later when we have more, Ben. Thanks."
 

He checked for messages, but there were none. Showering and dressing in casual clothes, he noted Williams' suit hanging in the closet area. So the younger detective had come in at some point, changed, and left again. Obviously from Ben's report, Williams was onto something and was following the lead on his own. Curious at Dan's solitary investigation, he restrained jumping to conclusions. There were enough misunderstandings already without being suspicious of his friend.
 

The thought stabbed him with a twinge of guilt at their parting the night before. He marveled he could ever think Dan capable of betrayal. Last year, after a regrettable shooting incident, Dan had abruptly, publicly, resigned in front of the media (which Steve never accepted, making the moment of impassioned renunciation invalid) . McGarrett was stung, but never viewed it as a personal affront or breach of faith. So why had he intimated as much the night before? As his closest friend, Williams remained above treason of any kind. McGarrett 's certainty in that absolute was unshakable. Why the brief aberration in judgment? He didn't know the answer to that anymore than he knew why he found the situation with Kono so irritating. There seemed to be more to solve here on the Big Island than the intrigue surrounding Simmons and Teague.
 

At the front desk he double-checked for messages or for any sightings of Williams. A small TV behind the clerk announced that the residents of the Puna area were being evacuated because of volcanic rifts. Pacing along the ocean-side lanai, he caught sight of his colleague just entering the open-air main lobby. Briskly he crossed to intercept Williams.
 

"You look like you've been up all night."
 

Aloha shirt rumpled, eyes tired, Dan rubbed at the stubble on his face. "Most of it. I've been on a stakeout."
 

"With whom?"
 

"Where is the more pertinent question."
 

"Okay, where?"
 

"Teague's house. For someone with a missing husband, Mrs. Teague had a lot of activity there last night." He described several visitors, one of whom turned out to be her attorney and another an office assistant. "I found that out later this morning from Polo. He wasn't too happy about being called so early in the morning."
 

"I bet." McGarrett relayed the message from Ben. "So what have you got on Laura Teague?"
 

"I'll explain it all, but do you mind if we do it over breakfast? I'm starved. And there's nothing like fresh ohelo berry syrup. They make incredible macadamia nut muffins, here, too."
 

Anxious to get on with the investigation, McGarrett could easily start the day on the run with coffee and a muffin. Taking pity on his dedicated officer, however, he agreed to a decent meal in the hotel's restaurant.
 

Around bites of the local delicacies, Williams explained his solitary walk along the beach and musings on the case. The major loose end they did not tie up was the supposed widow, who was apparently too devastated to talk during the day. Williams had taken the jeep back to the Teague house in the early morning hours and watched with interest as some kind of activity unfolded in the house.
 

Unfortunately, he apologized, he had dozed off and when he'd woken the house was empty.
 

"She was gone and the place cleaned out of personal items. I checked -- the door was open, it was not an illegal search! I had to make sure she was okay."
 

"Okay by me," Steve accepted easily. "It's an island, where did she go?"
 

"I don't know. She wasn't at the office or airport, I had Kono check. Her name is not on the manifest of any airlines. I haven't tried the other two houses here, or any boat charters yet."
 

McGarrett couldn't restrain the smile. "You've been busy. Good work, Danno."
 

"Well, no results, yet."
 

"More than I got getting a decent night's sleep. So, why didn't you tell me? What made you decide to do this on your own?"
 

Williams hesitated, then his expression turned resolute. "I wasn't sure if it would work out. If I was wrong . . . ." He shrugged. "It doesn't matter now."
 

"You wanted it to look like your idea instead of mine?" Steve shook his head in amazement and affection. "You don't need to take the heat for me, Danno."
 

"I just thought it would be easier with -- Kono -- and -- everything."
 

"Mahalo, aikane."
 

"For all the good it did," Dan sighed. "We still have no good leads and no Laura Teague."
 

"But we have more addresses, right? "
 

"Yeah."
 

"Then let's get going. Ben is watching for her in Honolulu, but she hasn't turned up there yet. Let's try the other houses here in the Big Island."
 
 

*****

The Teague townhouse in Hilo proved empty. Dan drove them south of the city into the verdant country famous for nuts and orchids, their next stop the forest cabin. With no top on the jeep, sun-kissed mist sprayed their faces as they drove under the white/blue rainbow-laden sky. Traffic clogged near the biggest macadamia nut farm on the island, presumably from the much-anticipated convention. They were soaked by a fleeting cloudburst dogging their track until they neared the coast. In the Puna area more traffic congested the main road as sightseers flocked to witness the latest of Pele's eruptions. Already after noon, day two of the investigation seemed nearly as futile as the day before. McGarrett mentioned the evacuation order but wanted to get to the Teague cabin anyway, if possible, and Williams agreed.
 

After some moments of silence Steve began, "Danno, last night I said some --"
 

"Don't worry about -- "
 

" -- I do worry -- "
 

" --you were upset -- "
 

"Which was no excuse for my rudeness to you. I apologize. I never really thought you were taking sides."
 

"There are no sides to take."
 

"No, but you're certainly entitled to your opinion about the case, Danno. You've never been a blind follower, you've never been afraid to let me know when I'm out of line -- "
 

"I did not side with Kono --"
 

"But you agreed with his assessment of Simmons and Teague. We all do! I -- I don't know why I blew my stack at you."
 

"Just letting off steam," Dan assured with a shrug. "I never take it personally. I learned very soon after you recruited me that I couldn't have thin skin and work anywhere near your eruptions."
 

Grimacing, Steve wondered casually,  "I was that bad?"
 

"You had to be, Steve. I was a young, naive kid. I wanted to be a great cop like you, but I didn't know much about the realities of detective work. Walking a beat or working vice or even homicide with HPD was easy. Seeing the world as a Five-0 detective was different -- harsh and ugly sometimes. The only way to learn was with the gloves off."
 

"You were a good student."
 

"Hope so. I learned from the best."
 

Humbled and aggravated at his behavior, McGarrett once more apologized.
 

Typically, Dan turned the disquieting mood around. "I'd never side against you, Steve. Not after seeing so many of your hunches turn out right. I might like to take a few risks when I surf, but I never gamble against a stacked deck."
 

"You know, Danno, I don't appreciate you enough sometimes."
 

Dan's response was wry. "Yeah, you say that now, but what's your story going to be when we talk pay raises?"
 
 

*****


Williams swung the jeep onto a side road leading through a thickly matted rainforest. The rutted path swerved down toward the ocean, bumping them along uneven pavement with sea on one side and patches of old lava on the other. Sheets of steam rose into the sky from numerous vents as they continued south. The land seemed to be splitting apart at its seams, the inner core surging to escape through the various rifts patchworking the landscape. HPD alerts warned of the danger of traversing this area of the Big Island. The detectives agreed they would complete a hasty search and be on the way to Kona before they were trapped between fissures or landed atop a lava eruption.
 

Speculations crowding his thoughts, Steve failed to fully appreciate the stark beauty of the native landscape. "If you're right about Laura Teague's involvement in Simmons' murder, and maybe her husband's as well, this will make Kono look bad."
 

"That's another reason I was out there all night. I wanted to be sure. He's between a rock and a hard place."
 

"And you wanted to make the let down as easy as possible."
 

Williams shrugged. "Something like that."
 

In the early years of their association, McGarrett quickly had come to respect and admire the skills and make-up of young Danny Williams. So many good qualities packed into one eager, youthful, talented cop became a combination he could not pass up when recruiting to fill a spot on the Five-0 roster. Swiftly rising to the slot of second-in-command of the unit, Williams progressed as a detective, as well as a valued associate, then as a cherished friend. Few times in the past years had McGarrett felt more proud of his younger colleague.
 

With an affectionate pat on the shoulder he confessed, "You're a good friend, Danno. Better than I've been to you."
 

"Steve --"
 

"I put you in the middle of this misunderstanding with Kono -- "
 

"Come on, Steve, that isn't your fault. It couldn't be helped. Kono has his opinion and you have yours. It was a situation where I couldn't stay neutral. Kono wants it to be simple, but you and I know murder usually isn't that neat or easy."
 

"With you still in the middle, aikane," McGarrett smiled. "You were listening to 'McGarrett's Principle Number Four' better than I was."
 

"Always do your best," Williams chuckled.
 

"Well, Kono and I are lucky to have your loyalty and friendship. Mahalo."
 

"Anytime," Dan countered sincerely.
 

Difficult to reach even by four-wheeler, the Teague cabin occupied a nook of forest off a back road near the ocean. In a remote area of the rainforest sector of the Kilauea area, segments of old lava fields snaked through the zone. Few houses were located in the rugged wilderness. Not a place they expected to find the socializing Mrs. Teague, but geographically the next locale for inspection. Then the detectives would drive through Volcanoes National Park and on to Kona to the last Teague property in the Big Island.
 

With a knowing shake of his head, Dan condemned, "Even the most naive local would know better than to build a house downslope of a volcanic area. These developers are a blight!"
 

"Yes, in some cases they are. Suddenly superstitious of Pele?" Steve wondered with a grin.
 

"It doesn't hurt to keep a healthy respect for her," Dan admitted readily. "Besides, this is an old lava flow. One day it will be covered by a new eruption. It makes no sense to build so close to the volcano."
 

"A cautious statement for someone who likes to play with fire."
 

"You mean in between you and Kono?"
 

"I meant the way you juggle your love life." The joke elicited the expected amused reaction from his associate, and McGarrett continued in the light vein. "Or being a member of Five-0."
 

"That's for sure. I'm glad full medical coverage is a perq of the job!"
 

The late afternoon sun sprinkled through breaks in the lush trees. Light peppered the old cabin and a sea breeze rustled the leaves in the language of the forest. The odor of sulfur was strong here, the humidity high. They speculated on the certainty of more steam fissures in the immediate area -- another indication the district was rife with volcanic activity.
 

No one responded to the knocks. Williams guessed Mrs. Teague had already evacuated the area. Another quake rumbled the ground, knocking the detectives into each other. They steadied themselves against the house until the shaking stopped.
 

"They're getting worse," Williams breathed. "I don't know how those people in California stand all the tremors!"
 

"They're crazy to begin with, Danno. Let's hurry up and get out of here."
 

"I'll search the house," Williams volunteered.
 

McGarrett walked around the side and called to his associate, who met him at the back next to a Jeep. Registration confirmed the car as belonging to Mr. and Mrs. Teague. In the back seat were piled two pieces of luggage, and a carry-on bag. Without touching the airline ticket sticking out of the small tote, Steve read of the Hawaiian Airlines flight leaving Hilo in two hours, the single, one-way ticket in the name of Laura Teague. Nodding to the forest path leading away from the house, McGarrett suggested they take the logical next step.
 

Retrieving flashlights from the car they followed the vaguely marked path for a while through the thick forest. Dappled, afternoon sun was soon blocked completely by clouds. Soon it would soon be too dark and too risky to go far into the wild woodland. Dan reiterated the danger of trodding unmarked lava paths, and McGarrett agreed. The trail led them through a steamy, primeval world of heat and sulfuric vapors from fissures and the rumbling tremors of quakes. The entire region was webbed with vents and crevices. As development property this area was useless. The Simmons venture of mass development was history, thanks to Madam Pele.
 

They came to a stop near the charred skeleton of an ohia tree, where they discussed the options as the darkness deepened. The quick dusk transformed the matted, thick foliage into eerie shapes and sounds. Steam from a nearby rift lent a surreal cloudiness to the primeval scene.
 

"I can understand the strength of local superstitions a little better now," McGarrett admitted quietly without quite knowing why he whispered. An eerie, creepy feeling sent a chill along his spine.
 

"Yeah," Dan concurred with a shiver. "Old aina. Ancient spirits. With a little imagination you can really feel it. I almost expect to see a white dog or an old crone in a red dress."
 

McGarrett refused to be baited by references to Pele. Instead he reiterated the dangers of trekking through the hazardous area. He concluded with, "Well, there's no use endangering our lives, Danno." He stopped abruptly. "No sound." He stared at his colleague and the chills snaked every inch of skin. "No forest sounds. No birds, no insects, nothing."
 

"An eruption," Williams exhaled.
 

"Let's go back and wait at the jeep. Mrs. Teague will show up sometime soon."
 

"Unless her husband faked his death and has other ideas for his wife. We still don't know."
 

As if on cue, a scream echoed through the forest. Both officers tensed, unsure of the direction of the sound. Momentarily a noise -- a woman crying? Steve guessed -- filtered through the other sounds. Swiftly they followed the path and abruptly stopped short when the flashing image of a white dog dashed across the path ahead of them. More a blurred reflection than a real sighting, neither really believed the apparition.
 

"Did you see -- ?" Williams breathed incredulously.
 

"Yeah."
 

"Pele's warning of danger."
 

Sound carried in deflected resonance through the trees, lava and hissing steam. Again, the muffled weeping came from somewhere ahead and to the right. This time they easily distinguished it as a woman calling for help. They ran up the slight rise, barely watching their trek over the coarse ground as they raced in the direction they thought was right.
 

In a small clearing, just off the path, laid the prone form of Laura Teague.
 

Weakly she warned, "My husband -- nearby. He tried to kill me. Please, please get me out of here! He's a madman!" She gestured to her leg. "I need help to stand."
 

Both detectives stepped forward, McGarrett nearly reaching the distressed woman. The ground beneath them crumbled without warning and they plunged into darkness before coming to a slamming, painful halt.
 

*****

Before he opened his eyes, McGarrett felt pain coursing through most of his body. Groaning in abject misery gave him a moment to orient himself, to recollect what had happened this time, and evaluate the odd tone of his voice. Blinking open his eyes, he made out forms and shapes, dark images against darker ones. Not blind -- he assured himself after an instant of panic -- night -- no, dark! A slight shift in position enabled him to see the single source of light -- a hole about eight feet above him -- no doubt the hole they had fallen through to the bottom of a lava tube. Pressing his elbow into the ground for leverage he slowly hoisted himself up, instantaneously realizing he was not scraping on jagged lava, but on something soft and damp that his imagination immediately recognized as a body.
 

"Danno!"
 

Reaching along what he identified as a wet cloth he touched the cold skin of a dead man. With an anguished cry, he jerked his hand away, twisting himself off the body in a sudden lurch. Sick with revulsion and shock he scrambled away, staggering as pain jolted through his left shoulder. He fell over, colliding with another body.
 

"Owww," moaned a familiar voice.
 

"Danno?" The name was breathed out in a whisper of bewildered relief. With a gulp he repeated, "Danno? That you?" He reached out, shifting too quickly, sending jabs of agony through his head. He cried out in pain, knocking into the obstacle again.
 

"Owww! Yeah. What happened? Are you all right?"
 

"My shoulder. I must have landed on it. What about you? Where are you hurt?"
 

"Ah -- oooo -- yeah. Oh, man, -- oh, my leg. Broken. Did you land on it."
 

"My apologies."
 

"Where are we?"
 

"A lava tube. Hold on, let me see if I can find a flashlight."
 

"Careful. You move like a whale."
 

"Thanks. I was startled," he explained dryly, then hissed in pain.
 

"What is it, Steve?"
 

"An unbelievable headache," he decided as he noted several aches springing spontaneously to attention with the query. "Don't move. Let me get some light." As he slowly, cautiously, tapped his hand on the ground he elaborated. "There's another body in here with us. I thought . . . "
 

"Yeah, I can imagine," came the grim conclusion of the unfinished supposition. "Is it Teague?"
 

"That's my guess. "
 

McGarrett found and powered on his flashlight, then scanned the floor of their cave. Slowly raising the light along the inert form of the dead man, the illumination halted on the face of Sam Teague. A gash on the side of the head provided a possible answer to cause of death. "Been dead a day or two. Now we know why Mrs. Teague had a single one-way ticket."
 

"With Simmons and Teague out of the way, Laura Teague gets all the insurance money from the failed venture. I wonder if policies cover acts of volcano goddesses."
 

"Ben mentioned something about insurance," Steve offered, rubbing his eyes and temples. "I can't remember the details."
 

"Do you think she planned the whole thing herself? Or did Sam Teague kill Simmons and present his wife with an irresistible opportunity to have it all?"
 

McGarrett's forbidding tone expressed resolution. "We won't know till we have her in handcuffs and ask her personally."
 

"Along with a few other comments I'm saving for her."

Williams glimpsed a glint of metal in the flashlight beam and dragged himself over to reach the second light. Leaning against the curved wall, he and Steve shone the lights around the tube. A few feet on either side, glistening walls of curved, porous lava surrounded them. They could hear, taste and smell the ocean very close. Tilting the light up to the hole above, they saw a shroud of swaying fronds. Concluding they could not reach the opening in their current condition, they searched for another means of escape. With no hope of rescue, their only way out seemed either end of the tube.
 

"Everything's hot and damp, like the tube's connected to the ocean."
 

"Yeah," Williams pondered. "With the heat, I think a steam vent must be nearby."
 

"Do you think we are in danger of volcanic fumes?"
 

Dan wrinkled his nose. "Smells like sulfur -- more than what we detected by the cabin. But we're not in danger yet. Stinks, but it's not deadly." He scraped at a nearby wall. Pieces of kelp and slime covered his palm. "High tide," he concluded, staring at his friend. "So if he didn't die from the head wound . . . "
 

"He drowned," Steve concluded grimly.
 

Williams suggested they evaluate their injuries and do what they could to find a way out. Highlighting McGarrett with the light he saw no observable broken bones or bleeding near the shoulder, but the bones jutted at odd positions, indicating a separation or dislocation. A scrape on McGarrett's scalp revealed the explanation for the headache. Under interrogation a reluctant McGarrett admitted to nausea, leading Williams to guess at a slight concussion. Tearing up Steve's already ripped shirt, Dan fastened a makeshift bandage for the head and a sling for the arm. Knowing it was probably a waste of breath, Dan advised his friend to stay still and rest.
 

McGarrett ran the light along Williams' torn trousers; the skin was shredded, swollen and mis-aligned below the right knee. The patient flinched with even the gentlest touch. McGarrett stripped the cloth to stop the bleeding, a splint being impossible with no appropriate materials available.
 

"Think we can find a way out?"
 

"I'll give it a try," Steve promised.
 

"You! I -- "
 

"You can't go anywhere on that leg, Danno."
 

"You're in no better shape, Steve."
 

Defiantly, McGarrett slowly came to his feet, leaning against the lava wall for support, determined to prove Williams wrong. His head spinning, he concentrated on keeping his balance while taking hold of Dan's arm. Nearly toppling from disorientation, he fell back.
 

"Steve, you better sit -- "
 

"I'm fine, just a little dizzy."
 

Williams shone the light in his boss's eyes. "Looks like a -- "
 

"We've got to get out of here, Danno. There's no choice. Now, do you want to sit here and wait for me to come back or do you want to try and walk?"
 

Dan had forgotten how irascible Steve could be when things weren't going well. And the injuries added atop the disagreeable case were not helping the Irish temperament. He agreed he wanted to be in on the exploratory trek. With Steve's help the younger detective stood. When he placed slight weight on the injured leg he gasped, instantly raising it up again. The quick action nearly pulled McGarrett off balance and both plopped back against the porous lava.
 

"Can't do it, Steve. Sorry."
 

"Let's try a another step."
 

"And both of us end up on the floor again? Doesn't sound very safe. Think you can check the entrance on your own?"
 

Williams slid back to the ground. McGarrett leaned his head back on the damp, porous stone until his head stopped spinning. Closing his eyes, he waited to regain his equilibrium. They would get nowhere at this rate.
 

"Steve?"
 

"Yeah, I'm okay."
 

"You don't look it."
 

"I'll be fine." Firm assurance. "I'll check for a way out. Why don't you see if someone is up there and get their attention."
 

"I don't think it'll be Laura Teague. She's probably in Honolulu by now."
 

"Yeah, but she'll never be out of our reach." Purposefully Steve pushed himself slowly away from the wall. "I'll check makai for where the water's coming in. "
 

"Careful."
 

"I will be. I don't feel up for any midnight swims right now."
 

Choosing each step with care he navigated through the constricted, slippery tube. With every pace came the stronger scent of briny water and the fresh mist of ocean waves. Just ahead the floor slanted down, the lava slick and smooth from erosion. A few inches away the sea churned and swashed in tidal fury. The opening to the sea was narrow now from the rising water. The frothing tide crashed only a few feet below in the hole edged with rugged rocks. It would take a good swimmer to get out. In his present condition he was unwilling to take the chance. The risk, at night, with his limitations, would be suicidal. There was no way Dan could make it either. Escape would have to come by other means.
 

Deliberately careful on his return course, he winced as Williams' hails for help echoed loudly off the cave and through his head. Kneeling down, he overcame the disorientation before calling to his friend to stop the yelling. Worn out from the short trek he rested for a few minutes next to Williams and reported the bad news. He promised he would search out the mauka, inland, and direction of the cave as soon as he caught his breath. Dan offered to go in his stead, but Steve insisted he could make it after a brief rest.
 

"If only I'd told Kono what I was up to." Williams sighed in irritation.
 

"Even if you did, Danno, he wouldn't miss us until morning. Too late."
 

"Yeah. We'll be swimming before then. Or steamed like lobsters. What a way to go."
 

"You're in shock," McGarrett corrected sternly. "We're not dying like this! We're getting out of here!"
 

Once more dragging himself to his feet, McGarrett explored in the other direction. Curving and twisting, the tube compressed, the ceiling becoming so low he had to crouch down. The walls were ridged with striated lava and dripped with moisture. Feeling the walls, he realized the rock was cooling. Behind him the cavern was much hotter from proximity to a steam vent or fissure. He wondered what kind of trouble that would cause. Forcibly, he focused on the predicament at hand and pushed aside thoughts of more disasters.
 

Each step became painful in the cramped passage as his space shrank so slender only one person could squeeze through the confined area. The tube sloped uphill and continued to contract for an agonizingly rigorous climb up the saturated, narrow, slick-smooth channel. Stars telescoped beyond the black tube through a slender opening. Fatigued, chilled, he knelt to rest on the damp floor, aware enough to guess he was suffering from his own shock and concussion. A cool breeze soothed the aches in his shoulder and head. Abruptly his eyes snapped open as a new supposition entered his thoughts. He scrambled ahead, cursing his injuries that slowed his mental processes and confused his awareness.
 

Raking the walls with the light he encountered two more equally depressing realities. One, water would soon rush all the way back here at high tide. There would be no escape from the onslaught of water. Two, climbing up the slippery corridor with only one good arm and almost no balance would be nearly impossible. Even for Dan, without two good legs to anchor against the wet walls, it would be just about insurmountable.
 

No, he could not accept that. He refused to think of losing his life, or Dan's, on this case. Therefore, he had to find a way out for both of them. Slipping more than climbing back to a wider part of the cave, he made slow, unsteady progress back to his friend.
 

The smell, feel and sound of the ocean were noticeably closer. Rejoining Williams, he noted the tide creeping into the main passage of the tube. Steam hissed and bubbled as the cold sea hit the hot rock on the left side of the tube.
 

"You better sit down, Steve. You look pretty bad." Without comment McGarrett slid to the floor. Silence was a sure sign he was in pain and that the news was not good. Williams braced himself for more trouble. "What did you find?"
 

Tersely McGarrett briefed his colleague on their prison. Arduously they could relocate to the mauka end of the tube, but there was no guarantee either of them could climb the slick walls to freedom.
 

"Maybe we can do it together." Dan's suggestion came without conviction.
 

"I've learned some lessons about teamwork the last few days, Danno," Steve admitted ruefully. "I think it's our only hope."
 

Knowing there was little choice in the matter, Dan opted for the trek to the other end and McGarrett agreed. After several attempts McGarrett struggled to his feet, then helped Williams to stand. Nodding his head, the shorter detective gave non-verbal agreement to the undertaking. In the dim radiance McGarrett's face looked ghostly, his sling would still make him vulnerable to bumps along the way. There was nothing to be done for the injuries or the stubborn Irish pride, so Dan kept all other comments to himself.
 

The tube shook and pebbles rained down on them from all sides. A noxious vapor clouded the cavern.
 

"Sulfur." McGarrett coughed.
 

"A fissure must have opened -- up in that last -- last shaker. We've got to get out of here, Steve."
 

Hopping and shuffling through the tube, they made slow progress toward the back of the tunnel. Exhausted by the time they reached the upward slope, they sank down to rest. McGarrett groaned in misery as his shoulder touched the wall. The air, however, was clearer toward the back of the tube and breathing came easier.
 

"Why'd it have to be another lousy shoulder injury?" Williams wondered acidly. "You'll probably have terrible rheumatism in your old age."
 

Asperity put an edge to the retort. "Believe me, it's not by choice! Next time shall I try for breaking a leg? Or shall I ask the next assailant with a gun to shoot me in the back?"
 

Dan smiled at the irritation level of his acerbic friend, then sobered when he answered. "No. I wish there wouldn't be a next time at all. But that's something we can't count on in this job, is it?"
 
 

The edge of aggravation blunted by the sincere expression, Steve solemnly responded, "No, but I wish it could be different, too."
 

"Maybe we'll just have to be more careful," Dan concluded lamely, not willing to voice the pessimistic opinion that they may not have another opportunity for danger.

Escape seemed remote at best, but he believed they would make it out somehow. Not because of their abilities against the force of nature, not because of an innate optimism, but because McGarrett willed it to be done. That powerful motivation could, he believed, overcome any obstacle.
 

Williams examined the cavity. Advancing waves echoed an incessant resonance. "The walls are slick. Nothing to grab onto."
 

McGarrett ran the light along the polished rock. "I could hoist you up, then you reach down and help me."
 

Dan studied the approximately seven or eight feet of slippery tunnel. McGarrett's proposal seemed ridiculous. As an experienced climber, Williams felt the plan was destined to failure. Without equipment it was a challenge. Both of them injured made it just about impossible. His assessment, however, would remain introspective. On the edge of endurance, Steve would not accept any negative input right now, even if it were the truth. He would have to experience the failure for him to believe things were so hopeless.
 

"Don't forget 'McGarrett's Principle Number Three', " Williams reminded.
 

"Right. Never give up."
 

"Come on."
 

McGarrett knelt on the lava, his back braced along the wall. Dan balanced a knee on the rock and with his right foot stepped up to McGarrett's good shoulder. Hoisting himself up, he faltered when Steve groaned and recoiled in pain. Between gritted teeth McGarrett ordered his friend to continue. Williams' fingers slid up toward the lip of the hole. Another tremor rocked the cave. Dan frantically clutched the lava rocks, swaying in the trembler as McGarrett's support disappeared. Both crashed back down to the floor of lava.
 

*****


"Steve? Steve, wake up."
 

McGarrett opened his eyes to a blurred vision of his friend. "Danno. What?"
 

"We didn't make it," Williams breathed, then coughed. "We have to try again. The tube is filling with fumes. We've got to get out now."
 

Gently Steve squeezed Dan's arm and urged him to help him sit up. They had to try again. Carefully he struggled to lean against the wall. Closing his eyes against the vertigo, he suggested they try the ploy again.
 

"The walls are too slick for handholds, Steve. We'll need to scramble up. "
 

Cautiously McGarrett agreed, although instinctively he knew there was a catch. The grave expression, the somber tone of his colleague's voice gave him that information. If only the headache would go away so he could think clearly.
 

"I'll have to push you up then you can go for help," Dan explained.
 

"Push me, why?"
 

"If you're high enough, you won't need both hands or arms to pull yourself up, you can use your feet. There was nothing up there for me to get my hands on, and I can't do it with only one good leg."
 

McGarrett shook his head. "No -- " the vertigo returned and he rested against the wall. "No, Danno --"
 

"Steve, you said yourself this would take --" a coughing fit interrupted him, "take teamwork. We don't have much more time to test plans. We've got to -- get out now."
 

McGarrett didn't like it at all, but could find no alternative. "I'll reach back and bring you up."
 

"With your shoulder you can't --"
 

"We're going to try! I'm not leaving you down here!"
 

The finality of the tone, the fierce expression conveyed the distress lacing through the resolute command. McGarrett could not accept freedom at the price of his friend's life and Dan should have known better than to suggest such a self-sacrificial course. Reality, however, he thought, would prove their undoing. Their most desperate desires would not prevail against the vagaries of nature. Their combined physical injuries would defeat their noble intentions. They would, of course, do their best, and Dan hoped it would be enough of an epitaph to console any survivor of this misadventure.
 

Placing the flashlight on the ground Williams agreed. "Okay. Let's do it then."
 

Aching to say more, but unable to find the words, Steve climbed on Dan's back. When he felt a catapult-push he scrambled up -- back against one wall, feet against the opposite side as he literally inched his way up. At the top he hooked an elbow over the lip of the crevice and struggled through the opening.

Choking from the rancid odor of sulfur and the steamy, strangulating heat, he crawled to the surface. Lying on his stomach, he turned around on the mound of lava and reached back for Dan, shocked to see no sign of his friend. Steve called into the Stygian pit. He had failed. His friend was gone. He cried out again, a plaintive plea, but no one responded. The loose lava crumbled under his shifting weight and he tumbled backwards down a rocky slope, crashing into matted ferns below.
 
 

*****

Steve woke up disoriented, his memory fuzzy. Kono sat nearby in a suntan police uniform. In confusion McGarrett slowly shook his head.
 

"Kono, you're in a uniform . . . . " Cloudy thoughts sifted into semi-coherence. "You're a police chief on the Big Island."
 

"Yeah. But we been here before, man."
 

The recent past slowly filtered back into recognizable memories.
 

McGarrett glanced around the small hospital room. Different than what he was used to in the big hospitals in Honolulu, but still, undoubtedly, a hospital room. Yes, this scenario had played out several times before during their years together at Five-0. Easy to confuse it with the familiar past.
 

"Just like old -- " McGarrett bolted up, gasping. "Danno! Danno was hurt! He was with me --"
 

"He's all right, Steve, he's okay." Kono eased his friend back. "Just down the hall."
 

Skeptical, but in too much pain to argue, McGarrett closed his eyes and sank back into the pillow. "He's okay?"
 

"You bet. Torn up leg, a few bruises, that's all."
 

His throat ached, burned. No doubt from the gaseous vapors. "What happened?"
 

"We found him down in the lava tube. You lead us to him."
 

Slowly Steve gave a slight shake of his head. "I don't remember . . . ."
 

"You were in pretty bad shape. But you held together long enough to tell us where Danny was."
 

"Thanks, Kono," McGarrett replied quietly. "I didn't know if -- if everything would work out."
 

"You wouldn't ever let anything keep you from saving Danny. Ever." Kalakaua smiled at the certainty of his conviction. "You know, sometimes, Steve you can be wrong. It's not a crime."
 

"I know," McGarrett admitted with a sigh. "I just don't like it. Being wrong can be fatal in our business, Kono. Danno could have been killed."
 

"You too," Kono countered. "But you weren't." Noting McGarrett's withdrawn gaze and uncharacteristic quietness, Kalakaua explained, without invitation, how he pieced the case together. "Danny's suspicions about Laura Teague got me to thinking. We were on the trail of Mrs. Teague since yesterday afternoon. When we saw the jeep we knew you were on the same trail."
 

"You've always been a good detective, Kono."
 

"I learned that from you, Steve. We didn't have no chance to connect with you and Danny about Teague. Sometimes it takes teamwork. I learned that at Five-0, too."
 

"Teamwork is not something that's always easy for me. You know that." Barely able to stay awake, McGarrett paused. Eyes closed, he fought back a reaction to the pain. In a whisper, he admitted with difficulty, "This was my fault, Kono."
 

"No it's not, Steve."
 

"Danno was trying to mediate between you and me." He opened his eyes, staring at his former detective, the inner anguish obvious in his expression and tone. "My stubborn pride might have cost him his life. And the lives of you and your officers trying to find us."
 

"No good taking that path, Steve. Danny would walk into Pele's arms if he thought you needed him to; not because of some blind devotion, because that's the way he is. He found this angle on the case because he believed in what he was doing. You're like his big brother -- teaching and leading. But you could never force him into something he didn't believe was right."
 

Clearly, McGarrett remembered some of the vivid, sharp debates exchanged with his second-in-command. Just as definitive were the times when Williams followed his theories, supported his outrageous plans, believed him instead of what seemed like the truth. Moments of debate, more moments of friendship and trust borne on the wings of pure faith. Time and again he'd asked his detectives -- Williams -- for complete trust, and received that unquestioned support. This case had been no different, and he should have expected no less. Believing McGarrett to be right, Williams would do everything possible to prove the case.
 

"Maybe you're right, Kono. About a lot of things."
 

From the doorway laughter erupted. "Hey, Steve, can we quote you on that?"
 

McGarrett struggled to sit up to get a better look at his friend. Williams, on crutches, entered with Officer Polo. The Five-0 detective looked a mess after his ordeal. A cast enveloped his leg and variously shaped gauze patches covered abrasions on his face, arms and hands. He revealed there was no permanent damage, all manageable injuries, and wagered he would be on his feet -- foot -- before his stubborn boss. McGarrett did not take him up on the bet.
 

"What about Laura Teague?" Steve asked to divert attention from more harassment.
 

"Chin and Ben picked her up in Honolulu trying to catch a flight to Hong Kong," Williams supplied happily. "She's insisting her husband really did kill Simmons, then accidentally died."
 

Kono scoffed at the flimsy story, insisting the Five-0 detective's theories about Laura Teague were correct. With the Simmons Inc. development in imminent danger of extinction from volcanic eruptions, she had engineered the plot to kill both partners and collect the insurance money. Mrs. Teague did not take into account the force of a powerful Hawaiian Goddess. Pele, as predicted by the locals, covered the entire area with new aina -- new land -- boiling lava stretching over everything, bubbling and steaming into the sea. The early eruption forced Mrs. Teague's plan into premature fruition and her hasty executions were well crafted, but not perfect.
 

"She nearly got away with it," Kono admitted. "If you hadn't pushed it, Steve, we wouldn't have known. Pele would have covered the tracks for her."
 

Steve shook his head. "Danno was the one who caught on to Mrs. Teague."
 

Smiling, Williams returned, "I think I'll take the credit on this one, then," he promised with a wink. Sobering, he confessed, "But I'd be a lava mummy right now if you both hadn't gotten me out of that tube. Mahalo."
 

Kono shook his head. "We all crazy with thanks and stuff, bruddahs. Everybody all deserves a pat on the back on this one." He slapped a hand on his own back, then his officer's. "Even Polo! If he didn't let you Five-0 guys borrow his jeep you would have never cracked the case!"
 

They all laughed as the unique Kalakaua humor served to lighten the mood.
 

"Teamwork." McGarrett's quiet affirmation. "It's a pretty valuable treasure."
 

Williams looked at his boss, then Kono, realizing the comment meant something significant to both. He would have to find out about that later. For now he would sustain the Kono humor that always lifted McGarrett, even momentarily, from concern. "Well, I'll be flying back tomorrow and personally fill in Mrs. Teague on life in a lava tube."
 

"Tomorrow? I'll go with --"
 

"Not a chance, Steve. The doctors want to keep you here a few more days," Dan regretfully informed. "Looks like you're the one who gets a holiday on the Big Island."
 

McGarrett looked to Kono and Polo. "If I'm still welcome," he questioned.
 

"Sure thing," Kono beamed. "Now we got your education of teamwork all done, we can teach you all you ever gonna need to know about macadamia nuts!"

"All I need to know is if they're covered in light or dark chocolate," McGarrett joked and the others laughed.

McGarrett shook his head, good-naturedly accepting that his extended stay in the Big Island would not be too bad. So far he had learned more than he thought possible from a simple, but profoundly wise police chief from the Big Island. He anticipated more native wisdom in the next few days from the good man he was happy to call his friend.
 

PAU



 

Hawaiian FanFiction

Hawaiian FanFiction - Text Only