Picking his first activity for his day off was a tough call. There was the laundry; washing the Mustang, the shopping that he was too tired to do last night, the call to the condo manager about the leaking faucet in the kitchen. So far, Danny Williams had avoided all those mundane tasks that were unpleasant, though realistic ways to start the much needed vacation day. As a reward for the dutiful jobs, he thought later he would drive up the coast and see if there were any decent waves at Waimea – much more pleasant prospect for the day. The surf report promised something encouraging, and a little better than the projection for Pipeline, so he would have to go check it out.
Second thoughts overpowering practicality, he decided to skip most of the housekeeping chores. After washing his convertible, he wanted to start the day with some practice at the shooting range. In a few months, the Fourth Annual HPD Sharp-shooting Competition would be coming around. He would be defending his trophy against some solid rivalry this year and it wasn’t too early to get started. Charlie Kiule threatened to take the top prize this time – as he had for three years. Not just the title of best sharpshooter in law enforcement was at stake. It was the honor of upholding his top slot for the third year in a row. He, the whole staff, but especially Steve, liked seeing that trophy in his office every year.
Several other people were already at the range this early, and he took his place before the rifle targets. The wind was stiff on the windward side this morning and he patiently took time to compensate; calculating trajectory, resistance and distance. He went through the first set of ten rounds with tolerant caution. Then, the next set with speed.
Early on in his career with HPD, he had discovered an aptitude for sharp-shooting. Calm nerves, good eye, steady aim – and some indefinable talent that gave him an edge over many other good marksmen. Whatever it was, he had quickly gained a reputation as HPD’s top sharp-shooter, and prided himself that the appellation came with the loss of no lives. He had tried, and succeeded, in being the top officer to shoot to stop the threat, not to kill. Atypical of the sniper’s creed – one bullet/one kill -- he endeavored to wound only. It hadn’t been until he was a detective with Five-0, ironically, that he killed his first suspect.
Now, using his sharp-shooting skills more than ever because of the dangerous and high-profile demands of Five-0, Danny no longer worried so much about his record of keeping the suspects alive. His first priority was protection of the innocent and his fellow officers. All too often that could not be attained by any other means but eliminating the bad guy.
Surveying the target results, he was pleased, feeling he managed an above average score, but not his personal best. He would have to get back here a few more times before the competition and put in some serious practice. Of course, he might have a number of opportunities to perform his skills in the line of duty. That would be where it counted most. Right now, though, he had some waves to catch.
Packing up his rifle, he paused to watch the shooter next to him. Good, if not great scores. Hitting the target every time, but consistently in the six ring. The slim person -- he realized it was a girl! -- wore an HPD ball cap under the ear protectors. Since the range was set up by Oahu law enforcement, he assumed she was a fellow officer.
“Nice shooting,” she offered as he started to walk away. She put down her rifle. “I practice here all the time, but I’m not that good yet. Not as good as you.”
Stopping, he smiled. “Mahalo. It just takes time. You’re good. Just keep practicing.”
“I haven’t seen you around before,” she overtly flirted, stepping closer. “Are you new here?”
She was pretty, with auburn hair and amazing dark eyes that flashed with strength. The scent of cigarette smoke permeated her, though, even with the fresh Trades blowing around them. McGarrett was a stickler against smoking, but Dan -- though he had quit years ago -- was a little more forgiving. He did not like dating smokers, particularly, but no sense in ending a relationship over a trifle before anything started. And the way she was eyeing him she was ready to start something.
Knowing how to play this game well, he smiled. “No, I come here all the time. But I’ve been busy lately. So you’re not new.”
“I’ve been coming for a few months. Always in the mornings. I work nights. Maybe that’s why we’ve missed each other.” She held out a hand. “Sydney.”
“Danny Williams,” he introduced, returning her firm and solid shake. “I work days. Mostly.” And nights, he almost added, but didn’t want to cloud the issue with inconsequential details.
“So you’re a cop?”
“Not yet. Maybe you know Jill Kaneho? She’s my sponsor here.” Sydney gestured to the pistol range.
Dan recognized one of the regulars, a stunning island girl that he had asked out twice. Rejected coldly both times. Well, if Sydney was one of Jill’s friends, he might not have a chance with this sharp-shooter. Standing beside Jill was a pretty blond named Carol something. She’d never given him more than a civil acknowledgement that he was on the same planet – definitely not warmed to his charm – so he never even thought of asking her out. There were plenty of other fish in the sea to pursue rather than girls who wouldn’t have anything to do with him. He never worked that hard for a date, and considered unattainable challenges a waste of time.
Jill approached, her expression tight, as if she was not happy to see Williams. He wondered what he had done to earn such rebuffs. Maybe she didn’t like Five-0 detectives. He remembered she was some kind of office worker who applied for entrance into the HPD academy. She joined the gun club to strive for better target scores.
“I see you two have met,” Kaneho began when she reached them. “So, did he ask you out yet?”
Dan’s expectations sank. Whatever grudge Jill had against him was still in force.
“I was just about to ask him out,” Sydney corrected, much to Dan’s delight. Her smile was suggestive and a little wicked.
Jill interrupted. “He probably won’t like you taking the initiative. He belongs to the most sexist boys’ club of all. Hawaii Five-0.”
Ouch! His profession obviously injured her feminist sensibilities, he realized, suddenly understanding why he always struck out with her. Sydney, however, was wearing an intriguing Cheshire grin. That was a good sign.
“Maybe you’ll be hearing from me, Danny,” Sydney winked and walked away with her friend.
“Don’t you want my number?” he called.
“I’ll figure it out,” she promised as she and Jill joined Carol.
A little amused at the encounter, Dan stopped to chat with some friends. When he reached the parking lot he considered that the day wasn’t a total waste. Leaning on his Mustang was Sydney, smiling. Her long hair drifting in the wind made her seem as appealing and beautiful as a fashion model.
She gestured to the surfboard in his back seat. “So you surf, too. Ever give lessons?”
Placing his rifle in the trunk, he joined her. “Reasonable rates. What about your friends?”
“I told them I had a better offer.” She opened the passenger door and slipped in the car. “Am I right?”
Well, it seemed the rest of his day off was all planned, he grinned. “You’re right.”
Speeding through the intersection just after the light turned yellow, Steve McGarrett made a quick lane change coming off the freeway and merging into downtown traffic in Honolulu. Road construction up ahead had two lanes obstructed in the middle of the upcoming block and McGarrett vainly tried to wedge the big Mercury into a slot in the far left lane.
Glancing over his shoulder, Dan almost smiled at the predicament. The head of Five-0 hated to get way-laid in traffic congestion, but it happened all too frequently in crowded Honolulu. His friend grew easily frustrated putting up with these tedious, mundane matters.
“You’re pretty quiet today.”
They had been out to Kailua to arrest a land developer indicted on fraud. The man had skipped out last night and left an empty office with no clues for them to find this afternoon. Their trip back comprised of discussion for their next steps. Routine. Dan’s mind had drifted to his pleasant day off with the fun and refreshing Sydney. He didn’t even know her last name! Somehow, the whirlwind of their relationship had catapulted full force into a dizzying encounter that was far different than his usual dates.
Drawn to women who were fun, sexy and intelligent -- not necessarily in any order – Dan found her to be entirely something else. Aggressive, opinionated and tough. Never before on a board, she had tried and failed many times before finally staying on the surf board until she successfully rode several waves yesterday. He admired her tenacity and undying commitment to conquer the ocean. True, she had missed the subtlety of surfing -- the oneness with the ocean, the freedom, mostly, the exuberance, but she had given it her best and done a good job.
“Yeah, sorry. What?”
McGarrett smiled knowingly. “Must have been some day off.”
“What’s her name?”
Dan blushed. “Sydney.”
McGarrett shook his head. “I knew it. So is there going to be a second date for Sydney?”
“I think so.” She had refused his subtle overtures for her to extend their day into a night. In fact, he had been a little irritated at her overt teasing, then drawing back when he thought they were advancing the relationship. Her methods seemed a bit contrary and challenging. Until yesterday he did not think he was very interested in challenges. Maybe she would change his mind. At this point it was too early to tell. “I wouldn’t be surprised.”
He’d take her surfing again for starters. Maybe he could get her interested in the zen of the sport, not the rivalry. Even as a beginner she kept trying to keep up with him, even out do him – which was ridiculous given his years of experience. The competitive attitude was almost annoying. Then maybe he would take her shooting -- he could coach her a little and help enhance her natural abilities . . . .
“Sorry, what did you say, Steve?”
McGarrett laughed. “She’s really got you hooked, bruddah.”
“She’s just really – different,” he shrugged. “I was teaching her how to surf and she just wouldn’t give up. Every wipe out seemed to make her more eager to do it right, like she always had something to prove. Competitive and tough.”
The traffic crawled forward. McGarrett sighed and tapped his fingers on the door. “Not your usual type.”
“No.” He pondered when he could try for a second date. “Hey, have you been over to Sandy Manoa’s new lounge act at the Surf Rider?”
“No,” McGarrett responded curtly, frustrated, buzzing a flow of air out of his lips. “Where is everybody going? You’d think the city would have more sense than to do street repairs at this time of day!”
“Hmmm,” Williams responded distantly. “Say, Steve, I know we were thinking of sailing on Sunday, but what would you think if I bowed out?”
“Sydney? I’m not going to have to lecture you about dating interfering with work, am I?”
“Sunday I’m off.”
“I’m talking about now, Officer Williams,” McGarrett countered with a snap. “You’ve been distracted all day.”
Breaking their long-awaited plan to try out Steve’s newly refurbished boat had not been a strategic plus on his side, Dan realized too late. Ditching the reserved day-off for a date -- Steve was not happy. The boat that used up so much of McGarrett’s limited spare time was a source of incredible pride to the head of Five-0. He was all ready to show it off on Sunday and Dan was squashing his plans. Steve was so territorial and proud about his boat and had made special arrangements for both of them to take off at the same time and not be on call, Sunday. As much as he wanted to go for a second date with the captivating Sydney, maybe he should reevaluate.
Traffic, the land developer giving them the slip, the heat -- not a good time to thrash out ditching him for a new girl. With the acrimony in Steve’s voice, Dan wondered if there wasn’t something else bugging Steve. Sometimes his friend could get a little edgy, maybe even a bit resentful of Dan’s sizzling social life. While Steve chose to be selective -- restrictive -- beyond reason sometimes with his realtionsships, Dan did not. And Five-0 always came first with Steve. With Dan, too, though sometimes the boss didn’t think so the way he mercilessly teased him about his dating habits. Well, that shouldn’t impede him, when he was completely capable of juggling work and pleasure.
The police radio squawked to life. “Armed robbery in progress at downtown branch of Bank of Hawaii. Silent alarm.”
“That’s only a few blocks from here,” Dan pointed out, even as his boss was straightening the car and veering to the right. Picking up the mic, Williams responded, “This is Five-0 One, responding to armed robbery.”
“Acknowledged,” the dispatcher replied. “Units Bravo Fourteen and Bravo Nine also in transit to location.”
McGarrett took the next right along a one-way street and then a quick left. The dispatcher reported shots fired at officers and McGarrett groaned aloud as they rocketed through an intersection, bouncing over the bumps, speeding to reach the crime scene. The tense situation was already very dangerous in the opening stages of the burglary. Possible hostages. They were heading into a potentially deadly confrontation within moments. The next message from dispatch was grim – officers down. McGarrett and Williams exchanged glances; silently, mutually, acknowledging the sickening feeling both experienced, knowing that colleagues were shot – injured or dead in the line of duty.
The next turn brought them up on the side of the bank. Angling the vehicle in the middle of the street to block traffic, rocking to a sharp brake, McGarrett and Williams then jogged over to crouch behind an HPD squad car. Both men noted the wildly scattered glass from the broken front door of the bank.
“What’s the situation, Duke?” McGarrett asked the Hawaiian sergeant hovering behind the blue and white.
Steve gave a nod to Officer Cobb, a young, up-and-coming patrolman. Silently, Dan greeted them as he listened to their report.
“The gunmen inside spotted John Ono and Charlie Kiule,” Lukela gestured to the blue and white unit angled across the two-lane roadway just past the corner. “The shooters popped some shots through the front door of the bank and hit the squad car. The guys are all right.” He gestured to the front of the bank and rapidly continued, “Two other patrol officers came into the kill zone from the other side. I don’t couldn’t tell who they were, but both are wounded. They were able to exit down a side street on foot. No one can get close to the bank. You can see where the robbers shot out some of the windows. Can’t see anyone inside though from this angle.”
Both McGarrett and Williams cautiously peered over the hood of the vehicle and tried to spot any movement inside the building. No people were visible and the chief of Five-0 speculated the robbers made sure hostages were out of sight when the gunmen shot out the glass.
“So they wanted to get our attention,” McGarrett quietly speculated as he surveyed the interior. “And keep the cops at bay. Let’s us know they have weapons and are not afraid to use them. Have they made an attempt to contact you?”
McGarrett reached inside the squad car for the mic and asked dispatch to patch him through to the bank. Several minutes passed before the dispatcher reported there was no answer.
“Marty, get me the bullhorn,” he asked Officer Cobb.
The patrolman crouched over to the trunk. Gun fire rippled the car as the officer snatched the horn, scrambled back, and handed it to McGarrett under a continued barrage.
After the shots ceased and his ears stopped ringing, the head of Five-0 tiled the horn in the air and toward the bank while he remained behind the protection of the vehicle. “This is McGarrett of Hawaii Five-0. Release the hostages, drop your weapons and come out with your hands raised!”
A barrage of shots splintered into the car and the policemen hunched down behind the protection of the vehicle. Sergeant Chip Malone, a stocky Hawaiian, rushed up to join them behind the car. Malone was formerly a K-9 patrolman, until his German Shepherd partner was wounded and retired. Chip then returned to the regular force and frequently assisted Lukela in HPD duties.
“I don’t think they liked your proposal, Steve,” Dan cringed as more lead peppered the car.
“No, they didn’t. What I don’t like is their violence. These people do not want to go down easy.”
Ben Kokua dashed over from somewhere behind their front line. He reported most of the HPD units in the city were converging to this location. For all the good it seemed to be doing, was his aside. The robbers had them stymied as long as there were hostages inside.
Surveying the area, Williams noted a scaffold where some painters had been working on a sign across the street from the bank. If he could get up there he might have a clear shot at some of the robbers. If nothing else, he could observe the interior of the bank and assess the hostage situation. He proposed the idea to his boss, who critically scrutinized the perch.
Slowly, he negatively shook his head. “I don’t like it, Danno. If they spot you, they can shoot right through the bank windows and you’re dead. You would have no cover.”
Dan pointed out the angle, maintaining his belief he would not be noticed. The tri-platformed scaffold’s bottom level was wide enough to hold numerous supplies, but the second and third stands narrowed. The highest perch was above the second story windows on the old building across the way. The bank was angled so the front doors faced the corner, situated slightly back from the sidewalk. It afforded the robbers an excellent field of fire to keep the forces of law and order at bay on two sides. In one way it made Williams’ job tougher, providing him no direct line with the bank’s front doors. Worse, at the bottom levels there were several optional angles from which they could spot him as he climbed. Once he was on the second or third platform, though, he would hold the advantage. If he could hike up the scaffold without the robbers noticing he would have the high ground and be in command of the operation.
“Steve, it’s the prime spot on the street.”
“I don’t like it.”
Shots pelted an arriving HPD vehicle far down the street to the left. The officers must have been all right, because they quickly threw the car into reverse and screeched away from the fire zone.
Williams edged close to his friend. “Steve, it’s the only option. Let me give it a try. We’re getting no where this way.”
Deliberating for a moment, McGarrett gave a slow nod. “All right,” he reluctantly agreed, patting Dan’s shoulder. “Careful, bruddah. I want you back in one piece.”
“You bet. So do I.”
Duke reached over and touched his arm. “Keep your head down.”
“Let us give you a diversion, Danny.” Lukela picked up the mic and asked Bravo Nine to move their unit back slightly. “That will give those guys inside something to watch while you go in the opposite direction.”
“Mahalo,” Dan smiled.
The HPD squad car near the front doors of the bank moved back and sure enough, the maneuver elicited more gunfire from inside the bank. Dan sprinted away, dashing toward the Mercury. He opened the trunk, removed his sniper rifle. When the HPD car in the street edged backward, gunfire from the bank sprayed the vehicle, Williams ran full tilt to the opposite corner and scrambled up to the first level of the scaffold.
“Sometimes I wonder about him,” Duke sighed as he watched the lithe Williams clamber up the scaffolding poles. “He’ll do anything to get the job done.”
“Yeah,” McGarrett agreed, concerned, keeping an eye on his friend’s progress.
The firing from the bank diminished. Williams was still climbing, still a viable target for anyone inside. Only if they were checking the side street, not the area in front of the bank, Steve consoled himself. He didn’t like the risky plan, but knew utilizing Williams’ skills could help end this nasty stand off. The real danger would come only if the bad guys were looking up, since Williams was now above street level.
When Williams was settled on the top perch he trained the rifle toward the bank windows. Finger resting lightly on the trigger guard, he fine-focused his scope to search for perpetrators or hostages. Then the firing stopped, leaving the cop’s ears aching in the new silence. Searching the bank carefully, he was frustrated that he spotted no one -- no hostages, no robbers.
No shots came from their right – toward the scaffold -- and McGarrett’s anxiety eased slightly. Dan gave him a shaka wave and showed he had a walkie-talkie in his hand.
Down the side-street, behind one of the HPD units, an armored truck arrived for a pick up, followed by more police reinforcements. Bullets reached that area, crashing one of the squad cars into a light pole. That wedged in the armored vehicle, now unable to back out again because the squad cars that had pulled in behind were instantly abandoned by their under-fire drivers.
McGarrett asked Lukela to deal with the armored truck and ordered everything within the kill zone, on both intersecting streets, frozen to a standstill. The firing ceased again and it was blessing to Steve’s aching ears and taut nerves. Any little thing could set off the robbers and create another firestorm. He ordered Cobb to get the handsets out and after a moment Steve was in contact with his second-in-command. Then Cobb left to make sure other units on the street had their handsets ready. It was getting too dangerous to use the car mics.
“What can you see, Danno?”
“The afternoon glare is killing my chances up here, Steve. I can only see a narrow margin through the side window. Looks like the back area by the safety deposit box section of the bank. No sign of movement. No hostages visible. The gunmen must be behind the main counters in the front. Hmm.”
“What?” McGarrett didn’t like that perplexed-sounding exhale. “What is it?”
“Like something is happening? Like this has all been a dramatic diversion to get our attention?” McGarrett finished the sentence and thought.
“Yeah,” Dan sighed uneasily.
Two more squad cars pulled up behind Bravo Nine and gunfire exploded again through the broken front doors. McGarrett barked orders into the walkie-talkies that no one else was to approach the area! The only movement should be getting the wounded to safety! The police radio reported evacuations taking place on the next block over and stores around the bank were being cleared. Then shots splintered the glass on the side windows.
Automatically, McGarrett glanced toward Williams. He was horrified to watch as his officer’s body jerked, then tumbled back, slamming down to the second level of scaffolding, the rifle falling with him. Shocked, McGarrett rose to his feet, oblivious to the danger around him, appalled at the shooting he had just witnessed. Duke grabbed him and pushed him behind the protection of the car.
“Steve, keep down!”
“Danno!” Aghast, McGarrett struggled to free himself from the officer’s grip. “Let me go!”
“Steve, it’s suicide!”
Shoving the sergeant away, McGarrett scrambled up to help his friend. Bullets ripped around the pavement at his feet, splintering into the car. Lukela grabbed onto him, pulling him back behind the safety of the vehicle.
“Let me get to Danno! He could be dying!”
“They’ll murder you, Steve! We have to wait,” Lukela demanded, the voice of reason, still holding onto McGarrett. “There’s nothing you can do!”
Seething, the Five-0 chief strained to get a view of his downed officer. No movement from Williams. Feeling sick and enraged at the helplessness, at the tragedy, McGarrett struggled to find a way to get to his detective.
He picked up the nearest handset and called for his officer to respond. Nothing. Danno still did not move! He could be dead. He leaned over to try and get another glimpse of his friend. Lukela yanked Steve out of the line of fire. An action the head of Five-0 did not appreciate in his raging frustration. Danno could be bleeding to death -- just feet away -- and he could do nothing! Personal safety meant little compared to what might have happened to Dan. He decided that if a better plan didn’t come up in a few moments he was running over there no matter what the danger.
Over the radio, reports of officers down on the other side of the bank told that more colleagues across the street had been hit, too. At least two men down in the deadly rain of lead. It compounded the urgency of their siege, but still, at the top of his priority list, was to get to Williams.
Chip Malone and Marty Cobb raced over, bullets flying in their wake. The vehicle Steve was using for protection was again suddenly riddled with lead.
“I’ll go get him for you, Steve,” Cobb offered, ready to spring into action without permission from the top cop.
Warmed by the brave proposal, Steve denied the heroics. HE wanted to go out there and get Danno, but would not sanction another officer risking his life for Williams. Denying Cobb’s heroic offer, he bitterly conceded there was nothing they could do for Danno -- yet.
Officers from the left returned fire. McGarrett yelled through the bullhorn, then the handset, for them to stop shooting. They could not return fire when there were hostages inside. He waited a few moments, then cautiously peered around the end of the car. Yelling into the walkie-talkie, he commanded Williams respond.
Another round of fire drove him back behind the hood. Where had those come from? There was something unusual about the angle of the shots, he realized, but he didn’t stop to analyze the details. He had much more on his mind. Fear raked his nerves, leaving his skin cold and his system raw as he functioned automatically to survive, to keep others alive, but his mental focus was only on the burning question -- was his detective still alive?
The dispatcher announced ambulances trapped on the other side of the bank, unable to reach victims. McGarrett ordered Duke to get an ambulance rolling down this street so it could come up near Williams’ position – as close as possible. When the firing ceased again, he looked back, constantly checking on his injured friend. Danno was moving! Slowly shifting onto his side. Blood painted his right shoulder and back, blotching the blue suit in a crimson wash. The obvious damage made him wince, but Steve was grateful his officer was at least alive and functional.
He snatched up the handset. “Danno!”
Watching his friend’s slow movements, he wondered how badly Williams was hit. The blood made it look serious, but there was no way to tell. The blood smear placement seemed to indicate a back injury, but it was impossible to tell until he reached his friend. At least Danmo was functional and could get out of there now. Something within Steve’s brain snagged on the inconsistency of the stunning violence now that the worst of his fears had been allayed. Still, he could not process the incongruities -- far more concerned with the results of what he saw. His friend was wounded, still exposed and in danger in a killing zone, with no help in sight.
Steve released a hiss of relief through gritted teeth. “Danno!” he shouted into the hand-set. “Danno! Stay still. We’re coming to get you!”
“Steve, don’t try. I’m okay.”
“You’re not okay!” McGarrett snapped back, furious at the unnecessary heroics. “I can see you were hit, Danno! Stay out of their range!”
“I don’t know their range,” he muttered quietly, his voice hoarse and grating with effort. “Don’t know how they got me. I had the high ground. Wrong, Steve, wrong, everything off. How did they get me?”
“I don’t know, aikane, just make sure they can’t get you again!”
“ I’m moving to the other end of the scaffold. Get out of their line. If that’s their line.”
“Good. Good.” The younger officer sounded in a lot of pain. “Just hang on, Danno.”
Williams edged up on his left elbow and positioned the sniper rifle with his left arm. “If I get a clean shot I’ll take them down.”
McGarrett’s frustration and ire clicked up a notch higher. “I want you to stay down and don’t make yourself a target!”
Ignoring the advice, Williams watched through the telescopic sight. “There’s no one visible. They aren’t looking for me anymore. But when they pop up I’ll have them in my sight. I can get them,” came the strained, but confident, tenacious assurance. “I’m going to try.”
“Okay,” McGarrett snapped back with more anger and fervor than he should display to the wounded officer, but the heroics conflicted him – the personal danger to his friend/the tenacity and valiance to get the job done even under pain and threat of death. “But only until we can get to you, then you’re out of there!”
He wondered if his sharp-shooting expert was coherent enough to consign to firing into a bank with hostages, but he trusted Williams implicitly. The young man had never hit anything he wasn’t supposed to, and rarely missed what he was assigned to hit.
“Steve, I see movement,” came Williams’ tight voice over the radio. “Somebody --“
The barrage of shots sprayed the entire area again and everyone ducked for cover. Knowing something was completely wrong -- that they should not be getting hit like this at their position, McGarrett covered his head as glass and metal rained upon him. The second it stopped Steve carefully peered around the end of the car again to check on Williams.
Dan’s lifeless body was flung back, his blood-covered head and left shoulder hanging over the edge of the scaffolding.
Lungs compressed from shock, Steve could hardly breathe and his first attempt to speak was nothing more than a rasping croak. Then the panic inside reached his voice. “Danno!” No response. “Danno!”
Hardly muttering more than a declaration that Williams had been hit again, McGarrett raced clear of the car only to have gunfire rake at him. He dove back to the protection of the police vehicle, angry at the helplessness of their position. They were the police and they were powerless! Danno was down -- looked dead -- and he could do nothing to help! Kokua, Malone and Lukela rejoined McGarrett.
“Where is the ambulance?” Steve snapped; anguished, so upset he kept muttering for the medical team under his breath.
“Can’t get close because of all the gunfire,” Duke explained tersely. “They’d be sitting ducks in the kill zone.”
Growling under his breath, Steve could not condemn civilians – even medics – for wanting to stay out of the battle arena. Keeping them safe, though, agonizingly, meant his friend was bleeding to death! Dying? Dead? He was desperate now to do anything to save Danno.
”Ben, Duke, Chip, do you think you can lay down cover fire into the bank? Aim high, we don’t want to hit any civilians.”
“Fire into the bank?” Lukela asked, incredulous.
“Steve, we can’t --“
“We need some cover! I’m not going to let Danno lay there dying while we’re trapped by these bank robbers! We’ve got to try something!” The rage and helplessness sizzled inside him, and he turned away, wiping his face with his hands and slowing his breathing, trying to come back from the edge of despair. He could not panic, nor could he instigate reckless actions that could hurt innocent people. Then what COULD he do? Danno and others are bleeding out in the street! “We have to do something,” he told them hoarsely.
“There’s got to be a better way,” a shocked Kokua suggested, unnerved by McGarrett’s unbalanced reaction.
Frantic, Steve momentarily pondered the suggestion, aware he was over the edge. Seeing Danno shot -- twice -- yeah -- that would send him far beyond the brink of reason and balance. What did they expect him to do? He wasn’t going to just sit here behind the safety of a squad car and let Danno die.
Admitting a barrage of fire from the police might injure civilians, he sought, once more, for another plan. He searched the front of the bank, looking for alternatives. Numerous squad cars and even the armored truck were useless . . . . no . . . . Not useless!
Without explanation, he vaulted away, dashing behind the various vehicles to the police barricade on the adjoining street, over to the passenger side of the armored vehicle. Kokua and Lukela were right behind him. He quickly explained to the driver and guard that he had a man down on the other street and needed their help.
The stalwart men were more than happy to oblige and they allowed McGarrett, Lukela and Kokua into the back of the truck. The driver drove on the sidewalk, crunching over trashcans and plants. He banged into a police car and stopped, but McGarrett mercilessly ordered him to keep going. There were lives at stake -- far more important than a car! The armored truck was plastered with bullets that bounced off the formidable protection of the vehicle as they lumbered around-through-into cars, trees, street signs. Through the windshield, Steve noted Williams was still unmoving, dangling from the edge of the scaffold.
As soon as the truck stopped by the scaffold, Steve dashed out of the back doors, then along the edge of the building. Ben and Duke were right behind him, weapons drawn, ready to offer cover. McGarrett started up the metal rails.
Bullets strafed the armored truck and the nearby brick wall. McGarrett heard the distinctive “thud” -- felt the familiar pain -- of a bullet strike. He stumbled, rolling onto the lowest platform. Lukela grabbed his arm and both scrambled to the far end of the planks. Leaning on the pole, McGarrett winced, holding his side. Telltale burning already told him he’d been hit; the warm moisture of blood on his hand confirmed the conclusion.
“I know,” he admitted. “My side. It’s not bad, just a graze -- stings. We have to get Danno.”
“I’ll get him,” Ben volunteered.
“I’m going,” McGarrett told them.
Lukela exchanged a long-suffering look with Kokua, then said to the chief, “I suppose you want to go first.”
McGarrett gave a slight shrug. “I just want him down. I don’t care, just get him.”
Clearly unhappy at the scenario, Duke tensed, shaking his head. “You’re as pupule as he is, Steve. We’ll get cover.” He barked into the handset that they needed a distraction.
Chip Malone responded that he would provide it, and before Lukela replaced the talkie on his belt, a squad car burned rubber from the barricades all the way to the bullet-riddled vehicle McGarrett had uses as a command post. Fire rained from the back.
Dashing up to the next level, Lukela, Kokua and McGarrett scrambled up the metal rungs as fast as they could. No more firing assaulted them, the action, though, continued down the next street. Reaching the platform, Steve was trembling as he knelt down beside his friend. Certain Williams was dead, he cried out in relief when he found Dan was breathing. Carefully pulling the officer securely onto the platform, he now saw the bloody evidence of wounds starkly covering Williams’ jacket and face. It looked desperate, but McGarrett clung to the reassuring fact that he now had Danno solidly in his arms and his friend was alive.
Lukela and Kokua took the unconscious officer in their arms and carefully, but quickly, clambered down. Bullets no longer firing, McGarrett urged them on with dogged desperation, no worried that the silence and the lack of attention in another direction, might bring the gunmen to focus on their rescue operation.
Once on the street, the officers scurried close to the building, McGarrett, holding his side, shuffling behind as fast as he could manage. The back doors of the safety vehicle were already open, one of the guards stepping out to help with the last few feet of the operation. McGarrett climbed into the shelter of the armored truck with the help of Kokua. The doors were instantly slammed shut and the guard yelled for the driver to move!
As they were driven to the nearest safe haven at the end of the block, the Five-0 leader leaned against the side of the truck, checking Dan’s shoulder, pulse and pupils. McGarrett felt the officer might actually be okay, he hoped. Breathing was all right, the blood was scary but it looked like a laceration along Dan’s back and another along the top of the shoulder. The gruesome wash of red on the head was just residual flow from the wounds. He hoped. His own stinging gunshot injury was ignored in the more urgent worry over his friend.
“Danno? Can you hear me? Danno? Come on.” Kneeling, cradling his friend in his arms, he gently patted Williams’ face. Someone handed him a wad of cloth and he pressed it to the shoulder wound. “Danno, come on.”
Duke touched his arm, pointing out the rear window. Hostages were emerging from the bank. The event was slightly confusing to McGarrett, who knew there was something wrong with this whole scenario. The violence, the non-negotiations, the angles of the bullets, now surrender -- it all added up to something. Right now, he didn’t know what.
Admitting – only to himself – that the shock of seeing Danno shot had blown him off-balance. He was not thinking straight right now. While there was a whisper of self-rebuke for such selfish emotions and reactions, he was not bothered or guilty. While he jadedly told his officers that nothing surprised him anymore, that he had seen just about everything, he humbly acknowledged privately that this afternoon he had been surprised and shaken.
His cop instincts fought to find some reason to the inconsistencies. Unfortunately, pain and anxiety were clouding his judgment and Steve was not thinking in his deduction-mentality right now. His hands and clothes were damp with his own blood and the blood of his closest friend. He had watched while one of their operations went completely wrong. Valiant officers, and Williams, paid the price for the miscalculation. He knew there were matters of importance to attend to, and he would normally fulfill those duties, but now he could not. Until medical aid arrived, this was his most important obligation.
Groaning, Williams shifted.
“Danno?” The eyelids on the pale face fluttered. “Danno, you were shot,” he quietly reported, voice trembling, holding tight to his friend to minimize the change of position. “It doesn’t look too bad, but you need to wait for the ambulance.” Danno was shaking and Steve pressed down on the wound. No, his hand on Dan was shaking. He closed his eyes briefly, but the moment when Danno was shot replayed vividly in his mind and he snapped his eyes open. Danno was here, solidly in his arms, hurt, but alive. “You’re going to be all right,” he breathed, having to believe that for himself.
The lids blinked open and revealed blue eyes slightly dazed. His brow furrowed in confusion. Then the eyes gradually cleared. “Shot?”
“How? No one had me,” he thickly related. “High ground.”
That was one of the puzzles, McGarrett admitted silently, but only nodded to his friend. “We’ll figure it out, Danno. Promise.” He noted the ambulance had arrived and a stretcher and two attendants were coming to the rear door. “Right now you’re going to the hospital.”
“Good,” Dan responded, closing his eyes.
McGarrett oversaw the transfer of his officer to the gurney, then leaned on it as they walked to the ambulance. Obliquely he noted the scene: Hostages were wandering in confusion and someone needed to take charge. Chin Ho Kelly was conferring with some patrolmen in the street and Ben Kokua was talking to people by the bank. His detectives were handling the aftermath. The situation was controlled.
One of the attendants helped him into the ambulance and worked on patching the tingling wound along his side. Steve kept a hold on Dan’s arm, promising everything would be fine. Silent, Dan gave a slight wave of his hand in acknowledgment.
The ambulance started rolling and McGarrett stared out the rear window for a moment, still unsettled at the events that had transpired with almost numbing rapidity. It was an amazing experience, and observing the orderly aftermath of officers talking with witnesses, surveying the crime scene, helped to clarify his own thoughts and settle his nerves. Looking down at his now unconscious friend, he knew the best finish to the terrifying afternoon was right in front of him. Despite the horrible shootings, Danno was going to be all right.
Stalking out of his ER room, McGarrett’s tension strained at an all time high. The beginning steps of the investigation to the bank battle were fraught with stress -- the witnesses, the wounded officers, the conflicting reports, the reporters. Chin Ho had been over to brief him and the Five-0 chief was not happy with the results of the inquiry so far. Not only had the robbers escaped, they had taken a huge haul with them and disappeared without a trace. Making the cops look like fools. At least the hostages were all right. And no policemen were killed. Miraculously, all officers wounded – and all WERE policemen, no civilians – would recover.
Always in the back of his mind -- his distress for his detective. For the first time he had witnessed Danno shot. It was frightening beyond description. He was still shaken by the unnerving event.
While the doctors assured him Williams, and he, suffered only minor wounds, McGarrett was still concerned. The moment of impact -- the shot throwing Williams off the platform -- still replayed in his mind and he hoped never again to see anything so horrendous. Helpless, he watched while his officer was struck down!
A familiar figure in this ER, he asked where his detective was being treated and walked back to the examination area without awaiting permission. He looked a complete mess -- torn shirt, torn jacket over his arm, clothing and skin smeared with his own and his friend’s blood. He received a lot of stares from the staff and patients as he stalked through the corridor. Perhaps it was his foreboding, intent demeanor that pushed away intruders with a warning to not disturb him. Good. Inside, he felt like he was drained. Those harrowing moments -- not knowing if Danno lived --- he hoped never to endure such agony again. Watching his friend shot! Then unable to do anything! Anguish beyond imagination.
Several of the ER rooms were filled with wounded officers. Checking on each one, he stayed only long enough to ascertain they were being administered to, they would be okay, and then he moved on to the next area. At one of the last rooms, Steve pushed aside the curtain. Williams was resting on the bed. Dan’s deep blue suit jacket, white shirt and tie were gone and a wad of bandages covered his right shoulder. At the noise, Dan’s eyes blinked open.
Heartened at the alert demeanor, he smiled. “Danno. How are you doing?”
Carefully, the younger detective gave a nod. “Okay. Already got stitches and something for the pain. One of the bullets nicked a muscle.”
Steve winced in sympathy. “That’ll hurt for a while.”
“How are you?”
“Just a scratch,” Steve motioned to his bandaged side. With a shaky sigh he acknowledged, “We got off lucky this time, bruddah.”
“Yeah,” Williams sighed in agreement. “The doctor said as much.”
He approached the patient and studied his friend. Pale, obviously worn out by the ordeal, Williams seemed alert and healthy considering he had been shot twice. McGarrett sat on the bed, not willing to admit he was feeling weak and tattered from his slight, but painful injury. From the encompassing experience they had just survived.
Dan’s brows drew together in concentration. “Something was wrong out there, Steve.”
“Yeah, I agree.”
“I’ve been trying to piece it together. There was no one in my sight inside the bank. They couldn’t have seen me unless they had high cover.”
“High ground,” McGarrett whispered, catching onto Williams’ line of thought.
“A sniper from another angle. High ground --“
“A sniper. Yeah, that makes sense.”
“The sniper wasn’t very good.”
“Good enough,” he snapped back, a little irritated at Dan’s casual attitude about his own life. “He almost clocked you out for the count, pal. Two shots --“
“Both only grazes, Steve. That’s what I’m saying. The sniper was not good. One shot/one kill – that’s a real sniper. Two bullets and I’m still alive. We were a few blocks inland, no heavy Trade winds to mess up the trajectory. I was a stationary target. No big distance from the bank. If that’s where the shots came from.” He shook his head, perplexed and troubled. “My mirror image. And luckily he wasn’t very good!”
“Thankfully not as good as you. You think it was a sniper up high? Not in the bank?”
“Angle of the wound,” Dan responded, leaning forward. “The first shot slid down my back from my right shoulder,” he groaned as he tried to gesture. Settling back down on the bed, he winced, “So the shot came from my right and slightly high. The second shot -- I don’t remember it, but I was trying to sit up --“
“I remember,” Steve assured, still haunted by the event.
“The second shot flicked me barely across the shoulder.”
Shaking his head, Steve did not want to think about how close the bullet came to ending his friend’s life. “You think those are bad shots?” He didn’t want to admit it, but mentioned anyway the obvious thought that Williams, as a sharpshooter, would be thinking. “Maybe he was going for the certain kill. The head shot.”
The blue eyes staring at him were sober. “Then he’s still not very good. I would have nailed my target, Steve. Ten rings both times. Conditions were prime. I was a sitting duck, not a moving objective. This sniper should have nailed me dead. Twice. Not that I‘m complaining, but this guy was amateur.”
“Maybe they just wanted you out of the action. After all, no one was killed today, just wounded.”
The rebuttal was weak, he knew, but he was just throwing out theories. Somehow a benevolent enemy sniper was quirky, but made less sense than the idea that sheer luck, or bad marksmanship, saved his friend’s life. His instincts about these brazen robbers had been correct right from the beginning, he still believed. Violent, out to make a bold statement. It was the cops who were lucky, and the bystanders, that no one was killed. Probably more by chance than by design.
“I don’t think these guys were thinking of saving any cops today,” was William’s grim reply. “This was too organized. Almost --”
“Almost military,” McGarrett finished the thought. Intrigued despite his anxiety, he pondered the expert information. “You think the robbers had high cover for their get-away?”
“They had high ground. Did they get away?”
Scowling, McGarrett related the end of the saga to the officer who had missed out on the conclusions of the actions. HPD men had scoured the bank for suspects, only to find a hole blasted through the wall leading to the next block. The heavy barrages of gunfire were the cover noises for the blasts. Before that, though, the robbers blasted through the vault and escaped with considerable cash.
”Wow,” Dan sighed with professional appreciation. “That was moxy.”
“And as far as I know, unique. Chin is checking the MO right now, but I don’t remember hearing of any robbers with this kind of brazen guts.”
“Yeah. And another disturbing thing.”
McGarrett nodded, able to read his friend’s mind again. ”They were wildly successful this time, so they’ll probably try again.”
“Yeah.” Williams closed his eyes. “They’re going to released in a few hours.”
Promising he would be back later to pick him up, Steve told his friend to rest.
Dan’s eye snapped open. “What are you planning to do next? Going back to work? “
The censure in the words, the tone and expression was obvious and the boss curtly assured he was fine. Admonishing Williams to take it easy, he left. He had work to do, and was not going to allow his second-in-command to lecture him!
Feeling tired, irritated and sore, Steve wanted to rest soon after the workday started. McGarrett toughed it out, though, remaining at the office when he felt like going home. At least Williams was recuperating properly. Last evening he had dropped by the hospital, picked up Williams, and updated his friend on the case. That had been a short briefing. They knew little more than they did earlier. This morning, in the light of day, more HPD crime teams were searching the area to pick up more clues. Witness statements and physical evidence already processed was still in the sort-and-analyze stage.
He wasn’t up to a lot of activity, but he could read reports, nag his officers and stay on top of the investigation. There were myriad details to be tied up after the brazen robbery. New witness statements to review – fortunately most of the interviews were taken care of by HPD. Computer inquiries continued to run on the mainland and around the world for a similar MO. Details of items taken in the robbery – anything of which might give them an added trace or motive -- still needed to be put into reports.
When the intercom buzzed, McGarrett roused himself from a near-doze and stabbed the button with unnecessary force.
“Duke on line two,” Sherman reported.
Jabbing the appropriate button he acknowledged. “Yes, Duke?”
“Steve, we’re up here on the roof of the Makai Business Supply. Danny thinks we’ve got the spot where the sniper was at.”
“Danno is there?” The more relevant information about a lead suddenly insignificant when compared to the thought of his wounded detective running around on rooftops.
“Yeah, we’d like you to send a lab team out.”
With renewed energy, McGarrett grabbed his shoulder holster and coat from the rack behind the desk, wincing at the familiar action sending stabbing pain along his side. If Williams was going to be out there playing detective, he was not going to be left behind.
Stepping onto the roof of the downtown building, McGarrett was blasted with the whipping wind of the moist, heavy, morning Trades right off the ocean, preceding a storm. High above most of the other buildings, there were few obstructions between him and the Pacific. He faced into the wind, walking toward a knot of men near the makai edge of the building.
Lukela and Chip Malone were there, conferring with Williams, who was dressed in a loose Aloha shirt, arm in a sling, leaning against the edge of the roof, gesturing at something below. Stepping up beside his officer, Steve was grimly delighted that Dan started with surprise.
“Steve! What are you doing here?”
Mightily displeased, he glared at his friend. “I was about to ask you the same thing.”
A little chagrined, Williams joked, “I guess this is a funny place for two recoveries to be.”
“Yeah.” Reprimands were probably as useless to Williams as they were to him, Steve reasoned. Neither of them could sit back and let things go easily. Still, when they got off this roof, way from their colleagues, his younger colleague was going to get an unforgettable lecture. “So, what have you got?”
“Chip found something good,” Dan opened and gestured for the officer to continue. Leaning on the ledge, Williams was looking a little pale and tired.
Malone, a native Islander with features reflecting his multi-racial heritage, was tall, muscled, his broad shoulders and solid frame making him formidable. McGarrett knew him slightly from his days with the K-9 unit, but ran into him frequently now that he helped Lukela on investigations connected with Five-0.
“Mr. McGarrett, if you look here, the gravel near the edge has been scuffed up, looks like big shoes.”
“Boots maybe,” Lukela reasoned.
“And at the ledge here, cigarette butts.”
McGarrett leaned down, but refrained from close examination. His side was aching and he knew his lab people would handle the details. He asked about the door to the roof and Duke thought it had been forced open, but would need tech examination for a final confirmation.
“So the shots didn’t come from the bank. You were right, Danno. High cover. Nice work, all of you.”
Shaking his head, Steve admitted he had never heard of such a slick operation. He was hoping Chin Ho would uncover something with research of MO’s, but he was almost skeptical there would be success on that front. This seemed so original, it could be completely unique.
“I have another puzzle for you,” Steve offered Williams as they started walking toward the door.
“What are two walking wounded who should know better doing up here?”
Ruefully, Williams laughed. “Going home?”
“You got that right, bruddah. And I don’t want to see you in the office for a few days.”
“I mean it, Danno.”
“Look,” the shorter man stopped, stubbornly defiant. “I want these guys, Steve. They got me cold up there yesterday. They got you. I owe them. I want a chance to redeem myself before they hurt anybody else.”
Incredulous, McGarrett shook his head. “You were the one shot! You have nothing to redeem!”
“I’m the expert sharp-shooter on the team, Steve. You expect me to be on the ball and do my job. I didn’t --“
“You did everything you could yesterday, as did every other officer out here! More! It was an insane stunt to go up on that scaffold! I should have never allowed it. And now you are going to go home and recover.”
For a moment, the younger detective looked ready to argue, then seemed to think better of it and sighed disconcertedly. “Okay.” With an edge to his tone, he asked, “So are you going to take your own advice?”
“Probably not,” McGarrett admitted as he held open the door. “But you’re taking it.”
Williams hesitated, as if about to protest, then diffidently shrugged. McGarrett started down the stairs behind him, verbally outlining the enforced plan. Williams was going straight to his condo. They would meet at the Palace in two days to catch up on the case. With only an unenthusiastic grunt of agreement, Williams accepted the order.
Although tired and sore, McGarrett tried to put in a full day. By afternoon, he was sagging and wondering if he should take a break; go home and crash for the rest of the afternoon. It was not helping that they were about to review the security tapes from the bank. The film would probably make him sleepy, concentration difficult. Sitting here watching the tedious recordings might just lull him into a nap. Not a good image for the boss, but he was finding, to his irritation, that even his stubborn resolve could not completely overcome his diminished constitution.
Che Fong, Kelly and Kokua joined him, debating if they should pick up lunch or have it brought in. Nothing sounded particularly good but Steve had to keep up his strength, plus get some food so he could take his medications. Tedious, but he didn’t want an infection along with general pain and blood loss.
Reviewing the case almost put him to sleep, too. No new information. No MOs matching this description found so far. The negatives also left him feeling morose and tired as Chin and Ben reported their lack of findings.
The door opened, jolting him out of his lethargy, and Williams arrived, bags of food awkwardly juggled in his left hand.
Ben hurried to help with the load and jumped in with a smile. “You are a life saver,” he declared.
“Our stomachs were more active than our brains,” Kelly added as he cleared a spot on the side table.
“You are supposed to be at home, resting.” The reprimand in the tone was almost harsh.
Ben and Chin exchanged looks, seeming to hold their breaths to see what would happen between the two stubborn officers. Dan noted the familiar reaction – typical of those who were caught in the blast of McGarrett’s ire. Expressions he saw frequently since he was usually the one catching the blast.
Williams countered firmly, “I’m fine. I got hungry. And I hate eating alone. Just dropping by with lunch.”
The tone was obviously a obstinate challenge and the chief knew better than to try and argue over this. Both of them felt burned over the audacious robbery. Danno -- guilty at not stopping the robbers and being caught cold by their sharpshooter. McGarrett -- irate the slick criminals had so easily tricked the police force. Motivation could go a long way to easing physical discomfort and as along as they paced themselves, they should be okay. Deciding a private lecture was more appropriate, he promised himself he would take it up later with his defiant second-in-command.
The detectives gathered around the TV with their food and Chin started the film that had been transferred to videotape for their convenience. Silently, they studied the scenes several times before each officer started voicing deductions and observations.
The black and white video showed two average-built men in bulky camouflage jackets and nylon-stocking masks rush in the front door. Both whipped out automatic pistols from beneath their coats. Pushing the employees behind the counter and into a small knot in one corner of the bank, one gunman kept them under guard while the other disappeared. Another camera displayed a different angle and showed the roving gunman firing at the front doors. Then the rover disappeared again.
“This is when the hostages say the second gunman went to the vaults,” Ben narrated. “At a silent signal, the one guarding them turned and fired at the police outside. During those blasts, the hostages heard muffled explosions.”
“I’ve been looking over the blast residue,” Che chimed in at this. “The explosives were C-4. My guess is military issue, but I won’t know for sure until I can run another few tests.”
After the third run-through, Kokua noticed a thin lock of dark hair fell from beneath one of the gunmen’s nylon caps. A longhaired man, they reasoned. It wasn’t much, but it inched them forward with another small element to put into the meager descriptions.
Sitting in the chair, leaning his chin on his hand, McGarrett noted several features that puzzled him. The operation was slick and organized. The robbers cool and ruthless. No wasted energy or frantic displays, but some random strafing of desks and walls to instill fear in the hostages. They fired through the doors at the cops when they wanted to keep the police busy -- distracted -- and needed a diversion for the explosives.
Running the tape again, Steve paused at a scene just before the sentry shot out the front doors. From the angle, it was tough to tell, but he thought there was a walkie-talkie in the guy’s hand.
“That would explain their coordinated effort,” Ben pointed out. “And they kept the talkie concealed so the hostages didn’t see it.”
“Or the hostages were too scared to look around,” Chin pointed out.
“That’s how they clued in the timing for the sniper,” Williams growled. “That is slick.”
Several barrages later, the gunman, shot out the camera. Again, Steve rewound the tape and they watched it again. He noted, along with the others in the room, that the film was putting Williams to sleep. Focusing back on the video, Steve blinked, then rubbed his face, to stay awake. After the guard-gunman fired, Steve noted, he slipped his left hand under his jacket. As if he had an itch. Curious.
“Look, there,” he pointed out.
“A shoulder injury?” Ben wondered. An ex-football player, he was familiar with such problems
Williams sat up a little straighter, pretending he had not dozed off. “I don’t know,” he yawned.
Chin laughed. “Don’t you guys know what that is?”
“No, enlighten us,” McGarrett replied, baffled.
“I see that all the time at my house. When my girls are doing their chores or playing ball in the back yard. Being active.” He seemed incredulous that the other detectives hadn’t figured out something so simple. “That robber is a girl. She’s adjusting her bra strap.”
Dan and Ben exchanged glances and laughed, but Kelly and McGarrett did not share the joke. The boss studied the Chinese detective, recognizing that the veteran cop was completely serious and solid in his opinion.
“Come on,” Ben scoffed.
“Who’s the one with a houseful of girls?” Chin argued, firm in his conviction and theory.
McGarrett silently pondered the information and rewound the tape again. Shaking his head, he smirked as he watched and understood Chin’s deduction. “We bow to your superior knowledge on the subject, Chin. So, one of the gunmen is a gun-woman.”
“It’s the one with long hair,” Dan pointed out. “She knows how to handle that weapon.”
Surprised his detective was paying that much attention, Steve agreed. “Yeah. Nothing amateur about this Bonnie and Clyde.”
“A girl bank robber with long hair,” Ben mused.
Grimly, Steve assessed, “Okay, Chin, we’re looking for a slightly different MO now. A man and woman team with a history of violent robberies.”
“And the third member taking the high ground,” Williams reminded.
“Ben, you, Duke and Chip interview the hostages again and see if they had any hint about the woman. Given this new insight, maybe there was some slight inconsistency someone noticed that could help us.”
McGarrett set the wheels in motion, sending his staff to complete with their tasks. Then he turned on his second-in-command, who was still slumped in the corner of the sofa.
“Danno, you’re going home, now. I’ll have someone drive you.”
Williams shifted to sit up straighter, a cringe of pain lancing across his features. “I’m fine --“
“You are not!”
The younger officer was worn out and worn down. He wasn’t recovered enough to be out running around with the team. Without a trace of understanding or empathy, McGarrett issued the order again. This was no time for Williams’ streak of stubborn defiance to surface -- the boss would not allow it. Steve had watched his friend shot, stuck in the open, a continued target, possibly dying. He had agonized over that in the eternal moments that it took to affect a rescue. He had relived it in nightmares. There was no allowing his friend any fraction of leniency about recovery. He knew he was being pushy, overbearing, over protective and restrictive -- all within his rights as friend, mentor and big brother to Williams.
“And I don’t want you back in this office tomorrow!” he almost shouted.
“Steve, come on, this is my case, too! That sniper did a number on me. I should have nailed those guys --“
“It is not your fault they out flanked you. It is not your fault that you were shot! But it is your responsibility to get better and be back on this team in full health. You got that?”
Blue eyes blazing at the restrictions, Dan pressed his lips together for a moment, visibly simmering with irritation. His ire was nothing compared to McGarrett’s righteous strictures and he had no hope of winning. After a moment, he seemed to accept that and he gave a curt nod.
Feeling the tension in the air, Steve tried to back off a notch from the adamant edict. This was for his friend’s good. If this situation irritated him, then he had to take part of the blame for Danno being too much like him, too eager to stay on a case even at the cost of his health. He could afford a little compassion and empathy.
“Look, Danno, I know it’s tough, but I only have your best interests in mind.”
“I know,” he sighed reluctantly.
“Go home and rest. I’ll bring by something to eat later.”
Slowly, with obvious discomfort, Williams rose from the couch. “I’ll make a deal, Steve. I’ll go home and take it easy if you do the same.”
“Later I will,” McGarrett corrected sternly. “Now go.”
There was only one thing worse than being forced on the sidelines during a case, Dan considered as he walked up to the dusty tables at the shooting range at Makapuu Point. Worse than sitting it out, was the knowledge that his friends were working the case without him.
Not a glutton for punishment, Williams liked days off and enjoyed them a lot more frequently than McGarrett. He didn’t fight the system, and rode out the wave of overwork and infrequent holidays because he knew that was the price of working for Five-0. When he felt accountable for something, however, he could be as tenacious and over-compensating as his friend.
Steve would be indignantly angry if he knew Williams was disobeying his orders. In truth, Dan felt chafed at the boss’ unfair restrictions. It was okay for McGarrett to be the walking wounded and work at the office, but not Williams. He recognized that Steve was being over-protective. Domineering. It was carrying the big brother responsibilities a little too far.
Dan appreciated the concern and the caring Steve exhibited. Others would find it unbelievable that the usually strict, authoritarian and even guarded McGarrett could be so compassionate and nurturing to a member of the staff. Some would find McGarrett’s attitude dictatorial and wonder why Williams allowed such imperious commands to influence him.
As always, his motives were as multiple and complex as McGarrett’s. For one, Steve was the boss and held complete control of Five-0. For another, Dan’s respect of that authority and of Steve made him reluctant to oppose even the toughest edicts. Lastly, their friendship was the glue that bound them in thick and thin. He and Steve had been close for a long time and when something happened to him, Steve didn’t let anything get in the way of his recovery. Not even bad habits.
How could Dan convince his stubborn friend that he felt responsible, in part, for the failure of yesterday? He was the expert rifleman on the team. He should have figured out the sniper on the high ground after being shot the first time. Being wounded was no excuse. His colleagues could have been killed. Steve WAS wounded coming to his rescue. All because he had failed to connect the clues and realize that a sniper was high and behind his position.
Such a fiasco was not acceptable. Steve, though, would not allow him back to the office until tomorrow, so he came here to the shooting range to vent his frustration. Also, he needed to get back in the game. When he returned to duty – even light duty – there was the possibility – probability -- they would be called out to face those robbers again. A highly organized, successful, and disciplined team like this would not stop at one robbery. Their flush of victory would feed their egos and they would try something again – soon – and probably take even more risks. That meant the next time, the hazard quality would be heightened for all of them – criminals, cops, and innocents. He had to be ready. In his condition, it was unlikely he would be given any sharp-shooting jobs for a while, but he was going to be prepared. If he was on duty when the robbers hit again, it would be his responsibility to take care of them.
Awkwardly, sans sling, his shoulder aching, he toughed it out and tried firing two rounds. His wounded shoulder throbbed with pain so he switched to the left hand and tried again. That was even more awkward and reluctantly he decided he better give up the idea before he made his injuries worse.
Clumsily, he utilized the sling for his arm, only vaguely admitting it helped ease some of the stress. Maybe he should move over to the pistol range and try his .38 left handed? After he packed up the rifle, he stood there, studying the target, vowing to improve tomorrow. He was too wiped out now, but he was coming back. As long as he couldn’t report in at the Palace, he was going to make himself useful.
Someone grabbed him from behind and covered his eyes. Instinct nearly cost his friendly assailant a jab in the ribs, but the scent of strong cigarette residue, the soft hands, and the assertiveness, clued him in to the perpetrator.
He smiled. “Sydney. What are you doing here?”
She came around and hugged him. When he winced she stepped back. “You’re hurt? Not from the other day, I hope?”
Smirking at the thought of any wipeouts being this bad, he replied regretfully, “No. On the job.”
“I called. Were you trying to ditch me?”
“Unavoidable. I was in the hospital.”
Surprise rippled across her young face. “What happened?”
“Did you hear about that big shoot out at the bank yesterday?”
“You were there?”
“Unfortunately, yes.” He tapped his right, slinged shoulder. “A souvenir.”
He noted the sympathy wasn’t very deep. Well, maybe compassion was not her strong point.
“So did you get caught in a cross fire?”
Not anxious to relive his moments of pain, high tension, or error, he explained he had been shot by one of the bank robbers. His continued concern and bewilderment of how he had been caught by another sniper -- when he had what he thought was the high ground -- gave him pause and he was momentarily lost in thought.
Sydney took a hold of his rifle. “I thought you were better than that.”
“Yeah. Normally.” He shook his head, still reliving the disturbing failure. “Not yesterday.”
“Someone was a better shot than you. That’s surprising. I’ve seen you here; you are good. In real life, can you cut it?”
The sharp, challenging tone knocked him back to the present. He was going to lose his initially promising opening here if he did not stop dwelling on the nasty encounters of yesterday. Her competitive edge was definitely coming out. Unfortunately, he was in no mood for sparring.
“I always have in the past.”
“You didn’t get the bad guys, though. No one from Five-0 got them, did they?”
“No. But we will.”
“You sound confident.”
“I am.” He changed the subject. “So, you thinking of being my competition? I never found out. Are you already a member of the force, or in training like Jill?” Her eyes seemed to narrow in cold resentment. What had he said now? This was just not going well. “What?”
“Women make good cops. When they’re given the opportunity.”
Obviously a touchy topic. “I agree,” he replied evenly. “You never answered my question.”
“You’re right. So, want to go back to your place?”
He didn’t want to resist, but he was too exhausted to even think about Sydney’s high-energy possibilities today. And some element in her attitude was alienating him, certainly not endearing him today.
“Sorry, no. I really need to get some rest. Maybe another time. If you’d give me your number, or your last name, I’d call.”
“I’ll call you,” she promised, and walked away.
The robbery MO, including a female gang member, was fed into the computer at HPD and sent to the FBI. Chin was searching through trickling MOs from the mainland, but so far found none that really matched their robbers. Ben and the others were still out interviewing the hostages again and getting more detailed specifics on size, shape and voice clues of the criminals. Now that they were theorizing one was a woman, it would narrow the field of their search. If they could only use that to their advantage.
McGarrett made an attempt to catch up on phone calls and paperwork on another case Five-0 was just completing. The sun cast long shadows along the lawn in front of the Palace by the time he finally glanced out the window and noted it was late in the afternoon. Worn out and finding it tough to concentrate any longer, he knew it was time to go home.
The doctor had given him some low-grade pain pills and he thought he would use them before he went to bed. Not as young as he used to be, he needed to get a decent night’s sleep in order to tackle this problem fresh tomorrow.
The unique -- successful -- robbery stung him as much as his injured side. These criminals got away with a lot of money and valuables and PR. If the local media found out one of the bad guys was a bad girl it would blow this up to overt sensationalism.
“Steve, I just picked up Che’s lab report. There’s something on the cigarette butts Malone found on the roof.” Kokua swept into the office, excited. “You won’t believe this!” He handed the paper to the chief, but couldn’t wait. “The brand is Virginia Slims. And there were traces of lipstick on the butt!”
“Wow,” McGarrett breathed quietly. “So one robber was a woman and so was the sniper?”
“Yeah. Amazing, huh?”
“A new angle on women’s lib,” was Steve’s unhappy comment.
“Yeah. Pretty scary. They were ruthless.”
McGarrett shook his head, feeling old and tired and unable to cope right now with this new twist in lawless society. “Women bank robbers. No matter, they’re as deadly as any criminal we’ve ever faced.” His wound, his friend’s injuries never far from his mind. They could have both been killed in the pitched battle. “We’re not going to underestimate them.”
Already tired when he arrived at the Palace the next morning, McGarrett promised he would pace himself the rest of the day. He had not slept well and knew his wound was slowing him down. Glancing at the clock, he couldn’t believe it was almost Ten AM. No one on staff commented about his tardy arrival. Even Jenny had been strangely quiet. At least he didn’t have to worry about Danno, who was not here. Maybe he was finally going to take Steve’s advice and take time to recuperate. Or, the stubborn officer was out chasing his own leads? Wouldn’t surprise him.
Reports from the computer scans were on his desk and he leafed through the negative comments. No where else in the country did law enforcement have a record of a similar MO. Not the method, not the theory that some of the robbers – or all? – were women. More negatives.
The door swung open and Ben Kokua barreled into the room. “Steve, Bank of Tokyo on Merchant just signaled a silent alarm. Robbery in progress!”
“Let’s go!” He launched from the chair, holding his side as he jogged, struggling to keep up with his younger, more fit detective.
HPD squad cars blocked both ends of the street. Riding in Chin’s LTD, McGarrett suggested they pull up behind the last blue and white. Walking fast behind his running officers, McGarrett joined the line of police barricading the street.
Duke Lukela, Chip Malone and Paul Nakamura were the sergeants on scene and directing the operation so far. Duke briefed him that the area was cordoned off – both ends of the avenue. HPD snipers were on their way up to the building across the street.
McGarrett ordered them to call in a chopper for high cover, then set up barricades on the street behind the bank building. Just as before, the bank had offices behind it in the next block. Steve ordered Chin to have those offices evacuated and law enforcement placed in any rooms connected to the bank. Well-armed SWAT teams, he specified. These robbers were smart, but would they try for the same MO? It worked before, but they had made no attempt to disguise their procedures. They had to know the police were onto them. The same with the sniper? He hoped so. He didn’t want to lose anyone today to a sharpshooter.
Just as before, the front doors had been blasted out from weapons fire inside the bank. More gunshots plastered the area. Steve knew that was their cover for blasting the vault and possibly an escape route.
Ben reported the chopper was flying over, no sightings of a sniper. The only people on the roofs were clearly identified by their Navy blue jackets with yellow lettering marked HPD. Chin reported the SWAT teams in place in the businesses behind and to the side of the bank. At one point the helicopter took fire – from what are of the bank they were not sure – and eased back to a safer distance.
Several times McGarrett tried calling to the robbers, but received no verbal response, just more bullets flying their way. Hiding behind a squad car was uncomfortable and annoying today, but at least he didn’t have the added worry about danger to his friend. Bullets rained down on the squad cars seemingly indiscriminately. Ears aching, side throbbing, McGarrett growled as he saw an unwelcome arrival.
Jogging up to his side, Williams crouched down to join him. “Duke says you have HPD on the high ground today,” he shouted above the racket of bullets pinging around the squad car.
McGarrett glared at his officer who was dressed in an Aloha shirt. No sling on the injured arm. Unhappy at the appearance of the recovering detective in the thick of the fight, McGarrett scowled. “What are you doing here?”
“You said I could come back to work today. Heard the call on the radio. Just wanted to be here.”
Shaking his head, Steve admonished the second-in-command to stay out of the line of fire. The lights on the top of the squad car shattered, then, in strident emphasis to his warning as glass showered them. After a moment, the two Five-0 detectives exchanged a look.
“That was a different angle,” McGarrett was certain.
Steve grabbed the handset that had fallen when they dove for cover. “HPD units, check out the roof tops on the makai end of the street! We are taking fire from that direction! Who’s on the roof over there?”
“Charlie Kiule,” Chip Malone provided. “Two of my guys went over to keep an eye on things from up there.”
“Charlie’s good,” Dan offered. “Why can’t he see the sniper? Is he on the tallest building around here?”
“That was the plan,” Chip told them.
The side windows in the bank exploded.
“That’s the signal,” McGarrett tightly observed. “They’re going to move!”
“Where is their sniper?” Dan wondered, using binoculars to search the roofs of the buildings. He spotted several rifles, but all the shooters clearly wore HPD jackets.
Bullets rained down on their cover car again, but this time ripping into the metal along the middle and the side closest to them. All the officers scattered, scrambling to the next car. Steve grabbed Williams and dragged him quickly to another vehicle. Seconds later, their former cover vehicle exploded. The street rocked, their ears rang. Bullets slammed into the patrol unit they were now using as protection and they all moved on to the next car, almost around the corner from the bank. The second car exploded, throwing Malone and Kokua into the air and onto the opposite sidewalk.
Stunned, McGarrett was slow to move, his side and head throbbing. He was grabbed by strong hands and gratefully thanked Lukela and Nakamura -- his rescuers -- when they were safely behind new shelter. Glancing around, he was appreciative to see another officer guiding Williams to cover behind a Five-0 LTD.
“What about Ben?” he asked.
“He’s moving. So is Chip. They look hurt, though,” Lukela reported, peering around the end of the car. “Two patrolmen down the street have been hit, too. Ambulances are on the way.”
“Get help for Ben and Chip.”
He shuffled over to get close to his friend. Leaning on the police car next to Williams, he assessed the officer. “Danno?” he asked with concern when his the younger officer was even slower to move than he was.
Williams, hunched low, carefully sat up. “That was nasty.”
“You sure you’re okay?”
“Fine,” he responded, in denial of protectively cradling his arm.
McGarrett’s handset was lost and he asked for a replacement, which Dan spotted on the ground nearby and grabbed it. Not interested in hiding his temper, McGarrett snapped out to the younger detective that he better not end up at a crime scene again until he was fit for duty. Until he was well, there was no room here for him.
Obviously stung by the command, Dan bit his lip and said nothing.
“Steve,” Duke’s voice crackled over the handset.
“Go ahead, Duke.”
“Ben’s not hurt too bad. Chip’s bleeding heavy. Head wound.”
“Get them help.”
“On the way.”
McGarrett shook his head, regretting the injury of any officer. It was always worse when the policeman hurt was working with Five-0. At least they were still alive. McGarrett contacted the SWAT leaders of Team One and Team Two, warning them action could be coming there way any minute. Another barrage of fire erupted on the street.
Then the gunfire stopped. The air filled with the heavy press of cordite that could not be dispelled by the Trades. The silence almost aching after the loud assaults on their senses. McGarrett allowed officers to approach the side of the bank. If the MO held, the robbers were escaping out the back and the hostages would be coming out any minute.
From inside the building two explosions rocked the street, glass breaking up and down the block.
“What was that?” Steve asked to no one in particular. He looked at Williams. “The MO changed.”
“The explosions should have come when they laid down their last barrage of fire.”
“Unless the timing was off.”
“Or the layout of the bank is different enough so their escape route isn’t so easy,” Dan suggested.
As police officers were cautiously searching the area, another rain of deadly fire erupted around them. Yet another change in the MO from the last time. Unpredictable, McGarrett muttered. Shouting at the men around them, he ordered all to take cover again, even as officers were scrambling for safety.
“Cover fire,” Williams shouted, trying to peer up at the rooftops to spot the sniper.
McGarrett yanked him back to the protection of the squad car, as frustrated at the helplessness as his colleague, but a little more cautious about their wellbeing. After the shooting stopped, again, Steve contacted SWAT Team One. Those officers heard and felt the explosion but had no idea what it was.
Charlie Kiule called from across the street and reported smoke from one of the upper windows of a business next to the bank. SWAT Team Two was there. McGarrett ordered them to report in. Silence.
Someone in the bank yelled that he was a bank employee and he and other hostages were coming out. The officers at the side of the building rushed in, while Chin and a few HPD men grabbed the hostages and brought them clear of the bank.
Steve ordered Lukela and Kelly to organize all officers to close in; SWAT and the ground force, while the snipers were to stay in place and from the high ground watch for the suspects. Following at a slower pace, the head of Five-0 moved toward the bank entrance, still barked orders into the handset. He demanded reports from the other two HPD snipers on the nearby roofs, as they continued scanning for the robbers. Neither of them saw anything unusual. Continually he asked SWAT Team Two for updates and only the sound of static met his demands.
Coursing through the bank seemed like walking in the aftermath of a war. McGarrett had seen the destruction two days before, after his visit to the hospital, but Williams, trailing along uninvited, was shocked at the utter devastation. Aimless vandalism – desks, chairs, walls, paintings mercilessly riddled with bullets. Part of the distraction plan by the robbers – noise camouflage and terror was effective when shooting up everything around the hostages.
At the end of the bank, next to the safety deposit boxes – which were untouched -- was a huge hole blown into the wall. On the other side, the bodies of four HPD SWAT members. All dead.
Rocked, McGarrett leaned on the wall for a moment, catching his stability after the gruesome, devastating find. He shakily ordered personnel to go through immediately and see if they could still catch the robbers, but he was not optimistic. They had several minutes head start, going through businesses that the police thought were secured. Like last time, the robbers could be anywhere by now.
Aside from the sickening loss of personnel, McGarrett’s grieving mind snagged on a detail as he surveyed the grisly scene. The men had been caught in the explosion – no help from the protective vests they wore. The smoke, the pervasive odor of explosive residue and blood was nearly choking.
Turning to comment to Williams, he saw Dan leaning at the doorway, tears dripping from his eyes. Shaking, he knew his own reaction was one of horror and grief – but Danno’s was magnified. These SWAT team men were his friends. He trained with them, knew many of them as fellow sharp-shooters whom he practiced with and engaged in friendly competitions with occasionally. He had helped organize the HPD SWAT team, lending his own expert advice to the early efforts of the specialized unit.
“Danno,” he unsteadily called, stepping over the debris and taking hold of his friend’s arm. “Come on, Danno, let’s get out of here.”
Wiping the tears away, Williams shook his head, but did not object to the solid support on his arm. “They were friends,” he whispered. “They were slaughtered.”
“I know.” McGarrett patted his friend’s shoulder. “They’re not going to get out of our net, Danno.”
Williams’ face was washed of color, his lips pallid. “I want these guys, Steve,” he seethed through clenched teeth.
“We’ll get them, I promise you that, Danno. We’ve got this whole town locked tight. They won’t get away.”
Fighting to get a grip on his emotions, Williams scanned the area. Cringing at the mangled bodies, he resisted when McGarrett tried to pull him from the room.
“Something is wrong here, Steve.”
Surveying the scene, an anomaly caught in his attention. Cutting out the grisly remains of men they worked with and counted as friends, he pointed to the scattered debris. “There’s almost nothing on this side,” he speculated, amazed. “It’s all strewn over those poor men. The blast was on THEIR side of the wall!”
“You’re right!” he gasped. “The blast came from the other side – where the SWAT guys were!” Dan nodded, regaining some balance. “Then the robbers –“
“Anticipated our moves!” Steve shouted in bitter wrath. “They played us! And we played right into their twisted hands! They set the charges for their escape. And took out the opposition at the same time.”
Williams, distracted at the appalling deaths of colleagues, tore his attention away from the bodies with visible effort. He seemed to be having trouble tracking McGarrett’s comments. “You’re giving them a lot of credit.”
“Oh, no doubt they are smart. And cunning. And now, deadly.”
“Yeah,” Williams grimly agreed, sadly studying the still bodies of their colleagues. “If you’re right, Steve, then this is bad. They’re still one step ahead of us.” Holding his arm, not giving in to the aches, he shook his head in distress. “And they just killed four friends.”
“Murder one. This was planned to take out anyone who might be on this side of the wall.”
Williams’ jaw tightened. “They knew it would be cops.”
Chin came up to them with a sour expression on his face. “Just talked to the bank manager, Steve. Bad news.”
“How could it get any worse?” Steve wondered bleakly.
“No trace of the criminals. The robbers were here at opening. Came in and took over before anyone knew what was happening. Wore masks, but they weren’t pulled down until they came inside, the manager thinks. So maybe we’ll get a look at them on the cameras. I don’t think we’re going to find them now.”
“Yeah, why?” McGarrett asked sharply, irritated and angry and hurting from the devastating losses inflicted today. “I ordered every cop in this city to close in and cordon off this entire area! How could they possibly get away?”
“Because they were wearing HPD windbreakers and caps.”
McGarrett and Williams incredulously stared at him.
Kelly continued. “The robbers were dressed like HPD. Came into the bank -- and they pulled out their rifles and started the robbery. When they blasted out of here they were dressed just like dozens of officers on the street and in the buildings.” He took a breath, rattled and upset. “And the manager says there were three robbers this time. Two were in and out of the back, but one was never seen again after they first came in. Gone during the robbery. Disappeared.”
Shaking his head, not wanting to believe it, Steve’s sixth sense leaping to the conclusion all the same. “Anybody want to bet that third person was our sniper?”
Shock slowly paled Williams’ face. “Dressed like one of our guys? She took the roof –“
“Or a window. And plastered us right in front of our own men! Dressed like one of us!”
Williams and Kelly shook their heads. McGarrett slammed his fist into a wall, part of the damaged plaster crumbling away. They had been duped again. These robbers were good. But he vowed it would not last. Ultimately, Five-0 was better. He just hoped he could prove that before the loss of any more cops.
“Unbelievable,” Dan muttered. “No one will be safe.”
Through the bank and down to the street, Steve’s anger boiled. Frustrated rage mingled with helplessness. It was a turbulent combination for McGarrett and he was unable to control his temper. He lashed out at the first available – and easiest target. He rounded on his friend, who was startled at what must have been obvious rage on his face. “I don’t want to lose anybody else because of their cunning,” he pointedly snapped. “You are off this case, Danno.”
Before the shocked Williams could respond to the domineering edict, McGarrett turned away, not trusting himself to say more to his associate. This case had turned murderous, specifically to cops. It was only through sheer luck, or miracle, that it had not been deadly the first time to Dan. Steve was going to assure there was no chance his friend would be caught in the kill zone again.
The setting sun cast long shadows from the palm trees, painting the water gold in the dying orange light. Trudging along the walkway to his end apartment, Dan ignored the beauty of paradise. His only interest was in collapsing. While he would never admit it to Steve, he had overdone himself today. He shouldn’t have responded to the robbery. That he might sleep off his fatigue for a week was an unhappy retribution of his exhausted body. And an unhappy exile from work. It was unfair of Steve to ban him from the case, even though it was reasonable and made perfect sense considering his physical condition. It was just tough on his pride to swallow the orders. He really NEEDED to be in on this case. And, he admitted honestly, it rankled that Steve would not follow his own advice about medical recovery. Steve was hurting, too, but would not give in to common sense.
Fishing keys out of his pocket, he stopped when he noticed someone standing at the end of the walkway, looking out at the beach below. A sure sign of his fatigue that he did not spot a stranger practically on his own doorstep until the last minute. The person turned – Sydney.
She finished a cigarette and threw the remains over the side of the rail. “Hi, I hope you don’t mind me dropping by like this.”
Her smile was dazzling. Under other circumstances, it would have been a wonderful surprise. Right now, it was more than he could deal with.
“Sydney! What are you doing here?”
“I told you I’d get in touch. I wanted to see you again.”
A little disconcerted at her aggressive intrusion into his private life, he wasn’t really turned off by the actions. Not used to being the one pursued, it made for a certain challenging flair to the burgeoning relationship. Tonight was just bad timing.
Considering this the death sentence to her interest in him, he responded honestly. “It’s been a really long day.”
“I don’t take no for an answer.” She wasn’t miffed, rather, amused.
“Not permanently,” he assured with a smile. “Just for tonight.”
She took the keys from his hand and opened the door, preceding him inside. “Well, you have to eat, don’t you, Officer Williams? We can order in and watch the sunset.” She crossed the room to open the lanai door. “Tourists pay big money for a view like this.” She leaned on the railing and turned to stare at him. “Dinner and an ocean panorama.” Walking back into the living room, she leaned against him, curling a piece of his hair around her finger. “And cute company.”
It all sounded great, but he was just too worn out physically and emotionally to take the energy to converse, let alone engage in anything else she seemed interested in doing. Or was this just more of her teasing? There was something, too, about her onslaught that soured the idea of her companionship. Like she was playing a game, or acting out some kind of scenario. Right now he was tired of the dating ploys.
“And I want to hear more about those bank robbers.”
The change of subject jolted him from his thought process. “I don’t mix business with social friends. You can hear about it on the news. It’ll be front page for a while. Until we catch them.”
“So you still think you’re better than they are? I heard they completely creamed you guys today.” Her tone held an edge of challenge. “Maybe you’re second best this time, Mr. Five-0.”
His stare must have been as cold as his emotions, because she flinched when she looked into his eyes. “We lost four friends out there today, Sydney. If you’re keeping score.” Incredulously, he shook his head. “Doesn’t that mean something to you? You want to be a cop, right? You should feel something when a cop goes down!” His voice echoed in the stillness and he was instantly contrite at his attack. “Sorry. It’s been a tough day. We’re all rocked by this.”
Completely cool, she shrugged. “This gets to you. I understand. Not everyday you face violence like that. Understandable you couldn’t get them.”
Noting her conversation tended to challenge the police – put them in a bad light, even -- he grew defensive. “They have a lot of aggression, obviously. Heavy protection and weapons. But we get the bad guys in the end.”
Her expression gradually hardened, so different from the playful manner of moments before. “Your superior ego certainly wasn’t damaged along with your arm. Is that just your personal opinion, or a Five-0 mantra? You think you can overpower robbers who are better-armed and cleverer than cops? Even smarter than Five-0?”
Puzzled and disappointed his job seemed to be intruding -- as it often did -- on his personal relationship, he wondered how much effort he should put into trying to salvage this budding encounter. Sydney was pretty, challenging and engaging. Right now, he didn’t have the interest to take this any farther.
“Criminals make mistakes. Eventually, with persistence and time on our side, we bring them to justice.”
“Justice? Certainly a subjective perception.”
“I don’t think so.”
Was this still part of her game? Was she trying to pick a fight? Did part of her MO include antagonistic conversation to see where her date stood? Maybe this was her way of eliminating men before the second date. Well, he was used to playing dating games, but this was not part of the usual ritual. Maybe he was a sexist cop, too accustomed to having his own way, but this was not what he wanted in a relationship.
“Look I’m sorry, Sydney, really, but I don’t have the energy for this tonight. Please leave.”
Gently, he steered her across the room and opened the door. She stopped on the threshold. “I want to know how you’re going to catch these big, bad criminals. From what you think is your superior talent with a rifle? You’re out of the action, Danny. Won’t that hurt Five-0?”
“Five-0 is a team of detectives working together. While I’m out the others are on the case.”
“What about him?”
“What’s his next move?”
The grilling wiped out his thin patience. “Look, Sydney, I know you’re interested in police work, but I’m just not up to giving a lecture tonight.”
The snide comment hit her like a whip. Her dark eyes turned cold. “Okay, Danny, time out. For tonight. I’m going to come back for you.”
It was a challenge. And something more. Intrigued and hesitant, he was curious to know what else was behind her tactics. He sensed complexity ahead, certain he was not ready for her maneuvering now.
“Sorry I’m not up to these games.” He leaned on the door as she stepped outside. “Why don’t you give me your number?”
“Why don’t you figure it out, Mr. Cop? You’re so good at catching criminals.” He winced at the cutting tone. “That’s why you’ve already got those bank robbers in jail, right? Aloha, detective.”
A cleared throat made them both jump and Sydney spun around defensively. Williams looked up, surprised to see McGarrett standing on the walkway.
McGarrett hefted bags of Chinese food cartons. “Dinner. Am I intruding?” He didn’t sound like he was sorry.
“Steve, this is Sydney -- uh --“
“You’re Steve McGarrett,” she seemed to accuse.
“Hello,” was the boss’ neutral response.
“The great criminal catcher.” She assessed him momentarily, then flung out, “See you later, Danny.” She sniffed angrily then stalked away.
After trailing Dan into the apartment and closing the door, McGarrett smirked at his friend while he plopped the food on the kitchen counter. “Your Sydney is a real firebrand.”
“Yeah. We’ve been a little at odds lately. She and her friends don’t think much of Five-0.”
At the back of Steve’s brain, little alarm bells were echoing, resounding a sixth-sense alert. What were they telling him about Sydney? That the conflict with his friend put her on his bad side instantly? That this little lover’s spat was not something amusing, but something more sinister? Why did he think that? Her tone? Her cold, merciless look? The way she seemed combative to both of them?
He tapped the sacks. “A peace offering.” He was horrible at apologies, but gave it a try. “Sorry I bit your head off today, Danno, but the middle of a fire fight is no place for one of my guys who is recovering.”
“Like you?” Dan flung back, not completely mollified, not over the sparring with Sydney, nor completely lacking in his own resentful sting. “Steve, I can take care of myself --“
“This is not a discussion.” The images of Dan being shot, flung across the scaffold, bleeding, were never far from his mind. He rarely, if ever swayed from a decision, and with this one there was no chance of a reprieve. “I mean it.”
With a sarcastic sigh, Williams relented. “Swell. But will you at least consider desk duty? I dropped by the hospital to check on Ben and Chip. They’re both okay.
“Yeah, Ben’s at home now,” he replied, keeping track of all the officers who had been injured. No need to tell Williams. He had already heard from the recovering Five-0 and HPD officers in the hospital that Williams had been there earlier.
“You’ll need the extra help,” Dan pressed on.
Not denying the logic, McGarrett was wary. Get Williams close to the office and he might try hedging some more on the restrictions. Before anyone knew it, he would be out there on the front lines again. “We’ll see,” he cautiously replied.
After the food was distributed and they were sitting on the lanai, McGarrett refocused on an earlier puzzle. “So, tell me about your friend Sydney,” he conversationally requested as he dug into the sweet and sour chicken.
The tone was curious and Dan studied his friend. “What about her?” Was this Steve’s way of making conversation and smoothing things out after their debate? Dan wasn’t quite ready to give up, but knew this was not the time to continue arguing. Steve was dug in and he couldn’t persuade his friend of anything now. “She’s the girl I met at the shooting range.”
McGarrett continued to stare at the ocean, as if he could think through the lingering impressions left by the young woman. “Just -- she seems -- intriguing.”
Williams sorted through the cartons, half-heartedly checking the contents and setting them on the table between them. “Might be the end of her. She’s more interested in bashing Five-0 than she is in finding common ground,” he grumbled as he scraped smooth his wooden chopsticks.
“What did you say her last name was?”
“I don’t know. She won’t tell me. I keep meaning to ask Jerry, the manager of the shooting range. I don’t think I’ll bother.” He sighed. “Too bad.”
McGarrett stared at him with concern. “You’re not getting attached to her, are you?”
“No,” Williams admitted regretfully. Stinging from the argument and feeling a little pressured at Steve’s over-protectiveness again, he didn’t elaborate. “She won’t give me the chance to find out.”
The next day was one of the most miserable in Five-0 history. Four HPD SWAT men dead. Four HPD and one Five-0 personnel wounded. Ben was recovering well from various shrapnel and glass injuries. He would be out of work for only a few days. Chip Malone would be hospitalized until the end of the week because of a concussion and other injuries.
Short handed and out for justice, McGarrett relented and reluctantly asked Williams to come in for work on a restricted basis, though how he was going to limit his stubborn friend remained to be seen. Somehow, he vowed he would. The shoot out yesterday was all too close. Ben and Chip hurt; he and Danno could have easily been casualties again.
The follow-up legwork on the case went to Kelly and Lukela, while the top two officers of Five-0 stayed at the Palace and worked the phones, the informants, the witness statements and evidence evaluations. Spending most of the day in McGarrett’s office brainstorming, by the end of the afternoon they knew little else than what they had the day before.
They were dealing with at least two females. One, the sharpshooter on the roof, had again left her remnant cigarettes with traces of lipstick. On a trip down to the lab before noon, they learned Che Fong had identified the lipstick as Mauve Sunset. A popular, expensive brand that sold only to one department store in the Islands. Liberty House at the Ala Moana Mall had given over their records, but only credit card customers would leave any trail to follow.
The robber’s take in cash, valuables and foreign currency from the two heists so far tallied close to a quarter-million. The press was printing trickling bits of information, speculating on a ruthless and violent robbery spree that Steve hoped didn’t cause a panic. The psychological affect already of the picture of clever and dangerous thugs verses unsuccessful officers gave the robbers an edge. Already the businessmen’s association was screaming for action from the state police.
Studying the video tapes during lunch, Williams noted one robber’s right arm indicated thin, short arms – unusual for a man. McGarrett guessed all three of the robbers were women. The way they moved, the gestures. Extreme close ups of the gloved hands revealed nothing save the fingers and hands seemed thin. Again, supporting McGarrett’s theory, but hardly advancing their case.
Calling in extra support from HPD, they moved into yet another direction. They needed to look ahead to possible targets. Neither Steve nor Dan thought the violent spree would end here. The jobs were lucrative and the killing and viciousness indicated the robbers were in it for more than just the money.
Late afternoon sun streamed through the open lanai doors along with the fresh, ocean-kissed breeze. McGarrett pushed himself away from the desk and rubbed his face, unsuccessfully suppressing a yawn. He glanced at the table at the side of the room and surrendered a poignant smile. Williams was worn to the bone. Taking pity on his friend he crossed the room and gently shook Dan’s shoulders, effectively waking him from a light doze.
“Time to go home, Danno.”
“It’s still daylight --“
“And you’re still recovering.”
“Aren’t you going home?”
“Check.” His voice was full of sarcasm.
McGarrett ignored the skepticism and gave him a slight shove. “Go on. We can tackle this again tomorrow.”
Clearly reluctant, but tired and dispirited, Williams nodded and slowly came to his feet, making no attempt to tidy the stacks of papers and files. Lukela arrived with a report and McGarrett asked him to drive Williams home, which the younger detective adamantly refused to accept.
“You’ll be taking Duke away from valuable time he could be using to solve this,” he insisted.
McGarrett gave a meaningful glance to Lukela, who picked up on it with a curt nod. Despite Williams’ objections, he was getting the Sergeant as an escort home. Bidding them goodnight, Steve closed the office door, holding his side that ached from the long hours at the desk, and wearily glanced at the mess in his office. Did he really have the heart to keep at this without a break? Not completely recovered from his own injuries, he was sore and tired. Maybe he should grab some dinner, get Danno home, and come back to this later.
“I think I should drive you,” Lukela dogged as he matched stride with his companion and plodded carefully down the last steps of the center staircase of the Palace.
Williams set the leisurely
pace as they crossed the deserted lobby.
“I’m fine,” he insisted. “You
don’t have to waste your time, even if Steve gave you the assignment.”
“Just thought I’d help. I don’t know that you’re ready to be back to work.” He forestalled an objection. “But I’m glad you’re here. We need you.”
Duke sped up slightly to reach the double doors to the front entrance. Without saying so the younger officer was grateful for the supportive concern from the Sergeant. Fatigued and a little shaky, Williams didn’t want to ask for assistance, convinced Steve would pull him from the case if he showed too much weakness.
The officers stopped as McGarrett walked down the stairs to join them.
Dan was suspicious. “You’re taking off early?”
“Thought we could get something to eat. You’re right, I need a break, too.”
Lukela smiled and glanced at both of them. “Then I’ll go home for dinner.”
Dan was too stunned to comment immediately. Steve admitting he was worn out? He was guarded. “Okay, Steve. You’re not just doing this to make sure I have an escort home?”
McGarrett’s smile was all innocence. “Officer Williams, you have a suspicious nature.”
“I’ve learned from the best..”
Lukela opened the door for them and instantly jumped back when the stained glass window inset shattered. Acting just as quickly to the sudden gunshots that plastered the doors, McGarrett yanked both Duke and Dan to the floor as bullets pumped around the entranceway.
“Everybody okay?” Steve groaned, aching from landing on his injured side.
“Yeah.” Lukela was the first to react by drawing his revolver and scrambling to his feet. Carefully he tried a glimpse out the splintered doors. Then he dashed across the exposed, open space and headed to the phone.
Turning to his colleague, Steve noted with concern that Williams was moving too slowly. “You okay, Danno?”
Williams gradually came to his knees. He nodded, exhaling with a painful hiss. “Mahalo. You?”
Chin and two HPD officers ran down the staircase to join them. After assessing that everyone was fine, they joined Lukela. As a group, the four raced out the back doors of the Palace. No more shots showered the building, or echoed on the grounds.
“What was that all about?” Dan wondered, leaning back against the wall.
The tone from the head of Five-0 was grimly anxious. “I think we can consider ourselves targets.”
“So, they’re after cops now?”
After coming to his feet, McGarrett took hold of Dan’s arm to help him stand. “Ten to one ballistics will prove these bullets are from our sniper.” Together they examined the splintered door frame where a bullet was imbedded.
“No bet.” Soberly, he studied his boss. “This changes everything, Steve. It means this is personal to them now. They don’t just want money or to take out cops who threaten them. They want to just kill us.”
Sighing, the grave tone accentuated his apprehension. “I know. They have something to prove. They’re not just robbers and killers. And they want to use our deaths to make whatever point they have to make.”
They waited in near desultory silence in McGarrett office. The first reports from Chin were disconcerting. No evidence of where the sniper was hiding for now. The investigation was continuing. Working overtime, the lab came through quickly since McGarrett clued them in on what to look for. Confirming his theory, the bullets that plowed into the Palace were from the same rifle as the bank sniper’s weapon.
“You were right,” was Dan’s subdued congratulations. “The same gang.”
“Must mean we’re doing something right.”
“Wish that made me feel better.”
The depressing comment alerted the boss and he studied his friend. Dan’s eyes were closed, his head propped up on a hand. He seemed too tired to move or talk. Used to pushing himself and his staff, Steve knew this was beyond the point of absurdity.
“Okay, come on, we’re going home. First, we’ll hunt down some decent food, then get a good night’s sleep.”
Williams just nodded.
Momentarily, Steve toyed with the idea of requesting HPD guards and extra patrols for the Five-0 staff. He was worried the personal attacks were targeting Five-0 specifically, not just cops in general, but he couldn’t be sure. Already, the assets of the force were stretched thin. There was no proof this was against the state police -- it just could be hatred of all cops. He did not want to needlessly endanger fellow officers. Nor did he want to unnecessarily confront the HPD chief, Grover, who personally detested him and was already road-blocking requests for more assistance.
Not feeling in top shape himself, Steve knew he was doing far better than his second-in-command. Taking the impetus, he came to his feet and closed the lanai doors to shut out the balmy night breeze. Walking over to the table, he gripped onto Williams’ shoulder, shaking him slightly.
“What?” Dan’s eyes blinked open.
“Time to go home.”
Slightly embarrassed, he grimaced, “Sorry. Guess I’m more wiped out than I thought.”
Feeling he had made a mistake allowing Williams to come back to work so soon, the head of the unit gently pushed the shorter man to his feet. “You’ve been through a lot the last few days.”
“Yeah, dog paddling in the rising tide.”
Sluggishly, they made their way downstairs, Steve considering them the walking wounded. Neither had any business being back on the job, but both were too tenacious -- stubborn -- to give up on an important case like this. They were not made to sit back and let others do the work for them. They were also pushed by their feeling for justice and atonement. To seek retribution for those SWAT colleagues who were murdered -- to prove Five-0 could exact justice on any criminals, no matter how clever or dangerous.
More intimately connected than that -- this had become personal when Steve witnessed Danno shot right before his eyes! An unforgettable trauma, he would not rest until he nabbed those responsible for such a horrific action.
The front doors of the Palace were temporarily repaired with planks of plywood nailed to the wood. Dan paced up to the doors and sadly shook his head. “It’s a shame to damage this old place.”
“I know, but better the building than us.”
There was an infinitesimal hesitation when McGarrett opened the door. They traded knowing glances at the nervousness. Both sheepishly smiled. Stepping out into the fresh air, they were startled to see two HPD officers patrolling the parking lot at the bottom of the stone steps.
“Officers,” Steve nodded curiously. “Overtime?”
Officer John Ono, a beefy, amiable, barrel-chested man, shrugged with an easy dismissal. “Duke asked who wanted to volunteer to keep an eye on you guys. When we heard what happened today, wasn’t any shortage of guys lining up. Happy to do it. Our way of helping Five-0 catch the nuts who took down the SWAT team.”
Appreciating the sentiment, McGarrett quietly thanked them. In parting, he promised they would, indeed, catch the murderers.
The officer walked them to the Mercury. “You go by my brother’s place and get some ono kau kau tonight. He’ll take care of you right.”
Taking up the suggestion, they stopped at ONO BBQ on Kuhio. The title was a double-play on words: ono meaning good in Hawaiian, also was the last name of the proprietor. All too often, McGarrett and Williams chose this local eatery close to Steve’s condo as their late-night dinner stop. Tonight, they entered earlier, but more weary, than usual.
The officers were greeted with enthusiasm by the owner, Tim Ono, who automatically ordered up their usual of grilled mahi sandwiches, potato salad and fresh poi. Ono was a former HPD officer who had opened the shop a few years back after being injured. The wife and three kids helped out. Law enforcement officers were always welcome here and usually Steve and Dan’s money was no good at this establishment.
Steve put up a fight and debated most nights, but this time Tim was having none of it. Caught up in the fervor sweeping the city over the brazen bank robbers, Ono insisted Steve better not even mention money. Then, packing the take-out bags, Kini Ono, the oldest daughter, overtly flirted with Williams, who was deeply embarrassed by the attention. Steve just smiled.
Tim eyed the younger detective and reminded him Kini was available on Saturday night. “Cops deh make good son-in-laws, yeah?”
Dan grabbed the bags, muttered a mahalo, and scurried to the car, his fair skin blushing all the way down to his neck.
Greeting him with chuckles, Steve kidded, “Saturday night, Danno.”
“Steve, please, she’s only in her first year in college!”
“I thought you liked younger girls.”
That earned him a scowl. “I like Ono’s. It’s convenient, the food is good, and I am not ruining it by dating Tim’s daughter!”
Unable to help himself, feeling the tension drain away at the pleasant banter, Steve smiled. “What does that say about you as a date?” he devilishly wondered as he slipped into the car.
Dan rolled his eyes.
“Do you think cops make good sons-in-law?” he asked and started the engine.
“I just wish Tim had a single sister. Then you wouldn’t think this was so funny!”
At Williams’ apartment, McGarrett found himself warily searching the shadows. Normally not a nervous person, he was now on edge after to the attack at the Palace. Seeing there was no reason to be so edgy in a familiar place -- after assuring the area was safe -- he relaxed.
Stopping at Ono’s had been the right decision, he told his friend. Seeing the public support was a nice change, he reasoned as they made their way to the apartment.
“Not counting that Tim is one of us,” was Williams’ wry aside.
Despite the flippancy, HPD’s enthusiastic cooperation was comforting. At the end of the day, though, they were on their own and easy targets. Silently, McGarrett wondered if he shouldn’t beef up security for Williams, Kelly, Kokua and himself. The thought of danger coming to Chin Ho or Ben’s families was sickening and as they ascended in the elevator, he decided he would phone the other officers and have them move the ohana to safer locations until this sniper was caught.
Once inside, Dan opened the lanai doors to let in the crisp ocean breeze. Then he fetched utensils, glasses and a pitcher. “Pineapple juice okay? I can’t think of drinking another drop of coffee.”
“Great.” Steve unloaded the generously laden cartons of much more food than they had ordered. “Look at this,” he sighed. “Saimin, mahi sandwiches and extra filets. Two large potato salads, two helpings of Maria’s fresh poi and a whole plate of haupia.” He grinned. “They trying to fatten you up?”
Dan blushed again. “Half is yours,” he reminded as he dipped a finger into the thick, pulpy, purple poi. He sat down next to his friend at the counter. Seriously, he offered, “I think it’s their way of helping out.”
Grateful for the good food and aloha spirit, Steve pondered the comment. “A lot of people are upset about the robbers’ methods. Their violence and senseless murder is unnerving to the public.”
“And maybe they’re a little appalled at the dangers we face.” He groaned in delight as he chomped down on the mahi sandwich. “Hopefully it’s not just a bribe, because this is ono kau kau. If I’m not careful it just might make me consider dating Kini.”
Amused, McGarrett munched on his servings, also pleased they were finally getting some time away from the pressure of the case -- not to mention an excellent meal. He warned he WAS taking half of the booty home. Then he crossed to the phone to call Chin and urge him to safeguard his family, and arrange for the Kokuas to be protected as well.
“By the way,” he said as he waited for someone to answer the call, “I thought you were dating. No time to add Kini to the list, is there?”
“Sydney you mean? Nah, I think that’s over.”
“She was opinionated,” he placidly observed, beginning to worry about a lack of answer at the Kelly house.
The grimace on Dan’s face told of his disturbance at the conversation. “She’s thinks Five-0 is a team of sexist cops. She’s got too much to prove. I just wanted to date her.”
One of the Kelly children finally answered the phone and McGarrett asked for their dad. As he waited he pondered Dan’s observation, his mental wheels clicking into new avenues he had never pondered before. She’s thinks Five-0 is a team of sexist cops. She’s got too much to prove. It was amazing what a single remark of clarity from Williams could do for his thought processes.
A part of McGarrett’s conscience felt a trace of guilt over his actions that morning, but a greater portion found a perverse justification in running a background check on Sydney Kinkade. It had been pretty simple to find out a last name from Jerry at the shooting range. Jerry also revealed the names of Sydney’s two friends, both of whom were HPD hopefuls. Sydney turned out to be a Marine! When this was over, he was gong to lecture his younger friend about reckless dating habits. After the first date, Danno did not know anything about Sydney, from her occupation to her last name! Not intruding on Danno’s private life, he still felt the detective should be more prudent in his social habits.
Before receiving this intelligence data, Steve had believed his covert actions were motivated by trying to protect his friend. Grossly interfering with Danno’s social life was not an intrusion he had instigated before, but he considered this justified.
Something had snapped inside of Steve the other day when he watched Dan shot and thought him dead -- unable to help -- unable to even reach the body. The reaction crystallized at an undetermined point -- that night, or perhaps the next day? -- perhaps in those agonizing moments when he had crouched behind the squad car and been unable to move -- pinned down and watching his friend bleed to death. Steve was going to protect Williams. No matter what. Keep him out of harm’s way. That meant crime scenes, shoot-outs, and now, a girl who was antagonistic to Dan and Five-0. If ever asked to account for this incredible invasion of privacy, Steve would point out some amazing circumstantial evidence. But he knew that the verification all coalesced AFTER he pondered Sydney’s personality and words to his friend. He had not liked the woman at all and that sole flaw -- his over-protective need to shield his friend -- brought on amazing revelations.
Massaging his aching side, wearily he reviewed his notes:
a) a sharpshooter at the shooting range.
b) her friends also skilled in weaponry
c) all seemed antagonistic toward the police
d) Sydney Kinkade --- a Marine who worked at the armory with access to
explosives and weapons.
e) she was real trouble and he was protecting his friend.
Protecting, shielding, smothering. Synonyms that fit his traits recently, Steve readily admitted. As the information started trickling in during the course of the morning, however, his sixth sense chilled him with a confirmation that he really was onto something. Sydney was a Marine. Based in Oahu. Visited the shooting range a guest of Jill Kaneho -- who was in HPD pre-training. Friend of Carol Todd, who was also applying for HPD.
Checking further, he learned all three women worked nights, so they could have been available during the day to perpetrate the bank robberies. Yes, he formulated the complete, condemning thought, he was investigating them with the idea they could be the bank robbers. Three women, proficient in weaponry, grudges against the established police force – more specifically – Five-0. Whoever pulled off the robberies, and the shooting at the Palace, wanted to strike out at Five-0. This was not just about making statements or gaining loot, this was a special grudge.
Violence and contempt for authority was certainly established in the bank jobs. And all three women exhibited those traits to a lesser degree through their skills at the range and their abrasive attitudes that were no secret around the range. All circumstantial. But in his gut he knew he was right. These were the robbers. How did he prove it?
On the personal front, how was he going to break this to Danno without revealing his original motivations and impetus? He would just have to remind/confess that control and protection were examples of his affection for his guys. He was there to lead, guide and protect them. Danno would understand that.
The trail of theories wound back always to Danno. With the formidable indictments stacking up against Sydney, McGarrett’s anger increased. If he was right, then this woman was not just a murder of HPD officers – that was bad enough. Clenching his fists and jaws, hatred and wrath swelling within, he knew she had deliberately tried to kill Danno on that scaffold the other day. How was he going to present that to his friend?
After lunch, the office door flung open suddenly, surprising McGarrett. Looking up, he was startled again by the furious expression on Williams’ face as the detective swept into the room, slamming the door shut behind him.
“I was just at the shooting range --“
McGarrett was on his feet, already on guard with the aggressive attitude of his younger colleague. The opening announcement spiked his irritation. “What were you doing at the shooting range? You are supposed to be recovering!”
“Jerry said you’re
“Yeah, I am,” he admitted boldly. “Jill Kaneho, Carol Todd, and Sydney Kinkade. I think they’re our robbers. We don’t have any evidence. It’s just a theory, but I think it’s solid.”
“What?” Williams was incredulous, completely taken aback. “What are you talking about?”
“I didn’t want to say anything until I had more facts --“
“You went behind my back to investigate a girl I’m dating?”
He reluctantly admitted, to himself, that was accurate, but replied, “I was suspicious --“
“And you didn’t come to me?”
“There wasn’t time --“
“I’m supposed to be part of this investigation! But you’ve done everything you could to push me away --“
“Protect you!” McGarrett shouted back the correction. “You’re too stubborn to stay out of the way when you’re in danger! You’re reckless with your own safety --“
“Reckless? Me? What about you?”
“This isn’t about me,” he shot back hotly. Suddenly the dam dissolved and the frustrated gained precedence in his mind and emotions. He had watched in horror as his friend was shot and trapped in the open with no on able to come to his aid. The agonizing experience had been relived in nightmares and more worries as McGarrett and Williams faced two more fire fights after the initial shock. There was no holding back once the allegations flew. “That day on the scaffold, you wouldn’t give up. You had to push it and nearly got yourself killed! That is what I call reckless – needlessly endangering yourself!”
The astonishment was wearing off and Williams face flushed with anger. “I always thought you valued tenacity!”
“We’re talking about unnecessary risks!”
“I was trying to save lives! Isn’t that my job? Isn’t that what you’ve taught me?”
McGarrett ignored the sarcasm-delivered truths. He changed the subject. “You can help coordinate the operation from here --“
”So you can use me to get to a girl whose biggest crime is knowing how to shoot a rifle? And not liking Five-0?” His voice was as loud and angry as McGarrett’s. “I can’t believe you did this! What gives you the right to interfere in my private life?”
“This is a Five-0 investigation now.” The cold, furious, lashing words did not come out right. None of it did. This had stared out as a righteous purpose; protecting his friend, watching out for him. It had mutated to an investigation of suspects that seemed to fit the profile they were after. It had ended at this untenable point where Steve knew he was right, could not back down, and found himself unable to tactfully shift from the insensitive high ground to common ground. “It has nothing to do with you.”
A wash of deep resentment and anger flushed across Dan’s face.
Steve felt a sudden chill along his spine. He had stepped over the line. Over compensating, instead of protecting, he had pushed away his most valued ally. Using stinging words as all-too-accurate weapons, he knew the kill zone and hit his target right in the heart. Instead of trying reason, he had antagonized. Instead of inclusion, he had excluded.
Without a comment, Dan stalked out, slamming the door behind him.
Feeling cold and weary inside, McGarrett fell back into his chair and stared at the closed door. What had he done? What had he been saying? He started out with overbearing limitations to protect his friend -- no -- to make up for the alarm he had felt when Danno was shot. Fear based decisions were never good ones and this twisted scenario proved that with alarming precision.
Along this wild course, he had inadvertently stumbled onto the brazen criminals they were after. He was sure these three women were the robbers. The arguments -- all seemed so logical as they flashed though his mind and out of his mouth without thought. Shifting the blame to the professional angle of the case was a cheat. He was ignoring the real core of the conflict.
How could he accuse his friend like that? Danno -- reckless? Okay, yeah, maybe. The way Danno risked his life to get a shot of the robbers. Motives --right -- trying to protect his impulsive and foolhardy friend. That was the right thing to do, wasn’t it? And he was not sneaking around behind Danno’s back -- he had fully intended to inform his friend. When? a whispering devil on his shoulder asked and he ignored it.
He WAS right! All his explanations and defenses were correct and on target. He was certain Sydney and her friends were the robbers! Then he wasn’t going to apologize. What he had done was right. Then why had he just driven away his friend?
He flung out onto the lanai and paced. It had been a long time since a case had worked him up to this emotional pitch. Without deep introspection, he knew why. He relived it over and over again when he closed his eyes at night. When he read reports of the dead SWAT team. When he walked through the lobby of the Palace and watched the workmen repairing the front glass doors, or patching the bullet holes in the fine wood panels. When he read the papers or heard the news -- still milking the violent crimes to a ridiculous degree.
During that first brazen robbery, he had experienced a nightmarish scene he had never witnessed. A strike of emotional terror that had seared and scared him inside. He had seen his officer shot and apparently killed. As much as he tried to rationalize that against the subsequent events -- Danno alive/recovering -- the happy resolution did not change the moment of horrific impact. What he had seen and experienced changed him in a profound way and he was not sure how to get back to where he -- they -- had been before.
Too livid to do anything useful, Williams drove toward Kaimuki to visit the recuperating Ben Kokua. In the crowded neighborhood filled with kids and dogs, Williams parked at the curb and waved to Ben, who was sitting on the front lanai. One of the little Kokua girls was playing with a hula hoop in the front yard. Dan stopped to chat with her for a moment, but it was too taxing for the four year old to converse and hula at the same time. She moved to the side yard to practice in private. Dan walked over to join his friend.
“How are you doing, Ben?”
Kokua gave a shrug. “All right. Wish I could get back to work,” he grumbled with a scowl. Suspicious, he critically watched Dan take a seat in a fan-backed rattan chair. “What are you doing out here in the middle of the day? Steve kick you out again?”
Grimacing, Williams sighed. “That obvious?”
“Yeah, like a storm cloud over the pali, that’s your expression, bruddah. Same look you always get when you and Steve are at odds.”
Cursing his all too readable face, Dan wondered why he had come out here. To visit his friend -- yes. Make sure everything was okay with the Kokuas – yes. To find consolation – probably. To discuss his conflicts with his boss – no. He must have felt a distraction, spending time with someone he could talk to, would help. Now he realized nothing was going to help but coming to terms with McGarrett.
“I know he comes down hard on you,” Ben offered, “but he did the same with me. Wants me to recover and be safe. You know that’s always his biggest worry.”
Williams nodded, not wanting to enlighten Kokua on the true nature of the latest conflict. He would never gossip or say anything bad about Steve to anyone. That would be a betrayal of their tight friendship. However, that loyalty did not change his mood. Steve had overstepped his bounds this time and Dan did not know what to do about that.
“Yeah, I know,” he agreed, miffed that this was not going to help at all. “Too bad we’re not well enough to go surfing,” he said, deciding it was best to change the subject and not discuss McGarrett.
“Yeah, if I wasn’t out on sick leave I’d sneak away with you. Of course, then my keeper, Sarah, would come after me. Trust me,” he confided, leaning close and whispering, “she’s worse than Steve any day. Comes with a ball and chain, remember?”
The tone, the wry smirk was enough to tell he was joking, and Dan knew he was. Even on sick leave, Ben seemed relaxed and happy to be home. Ben loved his family and never missed an opportunity to spend time with them. When employed in Five-0, there seemed never enough time.
The need for small talk ended with one of Ben’s girls, and Sarah, his wife, coming out on the lanai to visit. Dan was cajoled into staying for some cold juice and cookies, but drew the line at a meal. He was too out of sorts to be sociable, and fortunately, he could use the excuse of recovery to make an exit.
Driving away from the Kokua house, he reaffirmed that he was in no mood to talk to anyone. He wanted to vent against Steve’s betrayals, his invasive actions, and that was something Dan would not do. Never in his career had he griped about anything Steve had done -- at least not to anyone else. To do so would have been disloyal to his closest friend, to a man he admired above all others, and violate Steve’s trust in him. No matter what McGarrett might do, Dan would never retaliate like that.
Simmering, he went to HPD and chatted with his pal, Sergeant Nephi Hilton, who was part of the robbery investigation, as were most HPD officers in Robbery/Homicide. Nephi had worked up the McGarrett requested background information on the three women. Fortunately, Steve had not mentioned that Dan knew them, and, for Steve keeping that confidence, he was grateful. He didn’t want the entire HPD in on his wayward love life, or his disagreement with McGarrett.
Calmer now, sitting at Hilton’s desk, reading the compiled information on the women, Dan admitted Steve might be onto some circumstantial evidence that could be condemning. There was only one way to find out. Track down Sydney or her friends. HPD had their residences covered, Hilton said, and they had not shown up yet today.
Williams called the shooting range and learned the three women (he did not refer to them as suspects) were not there. They might, however, show up at some point and he was going to confront them. If Sydney had been using him, he wanted to be the one to bring them in. Steve wouldn’t give him the opportunity to help, so Dan would do it on his own.
The thought returned a flush of anger. He was still incredibly livid with his friend. Steve really had no right to investigate behind his back. Dan would not allow it. Maybe this was the incident that would sever some of that over-protection he frequently felt from McGarrett. He was no longer the new young kid on the block. He could take care of himself. He was going to let Steve know that. Or what? He mentally backed away from ultimatums. Even thinking about imposing limits made him uneasy. McGarrett would not accept conditions on how he ran Five-0 -- and unfortunately -- this involved Five-0; their friendship, and everything in between.
Taking a drive out of the city, Dan took the scenic route, making a big circle through the Pali pass and around the windward coast to the Makapuu shooting range. As always, the drive with the top down helped clear his head. Cruising in the Mustang, feeling more settled from the fast drive and the relaxing pause in the sun, he backed away from the resentment and came to a level of understanding. He still didn’t like Steve’s actions -- and they were going to talk about that reasonably and completely -- but he had a handle on the situation now.
At late afternoon, Williams dragged back to his apartment. It had been a long, uncomfortable day on stakeout at the shooting range. Driving his stick-shift sports car had not helped his injured shoulder, either, but the therapeutic value of the convertible on his spirit was worth the strained injuries. He could think much clearer with the wind blowing in his face and the sun warming his skin. Now, however, he was paying the physical price of owning the sports car.
Cradling his aching arm, he stepped off the elevator, amazed to see Sydney sitting by his door, smoking. She mashed out the cigarette when she saw him. Lithely springing to her feet, she walked down to meet him.
“Hi, Danny. You don’t look much better than you did yesterday.”
How was he going to handle this? Their conflict from yesterday was not a pleasant memory. Added to his clash with Steve, he was certainly not in the mood for word play or complex relationship exchanges. Atop the edgy parting, was now the hidden suspicion that she and her friends were murderers. Looking into her challenging brown eyes, he wondered if she was capable of looking through the sights at him and pulling the trigger. Were she and her friends capable of setting explosives to execute HPD SWAT men? It was a huge leap to believe this woman – who fought against the sea and convention – was a killer.
Taking the initiative, she grabbed the keys from his hand, unlocked his door and went inside. “I’m not taking no for an answer this time.” She crossed to the phone and dialed. “I’m having chicken and the works delivered. No refusals.”
Instantly, his anger rose. He was so tired of being pushed around today!
What about Steve’s suspicions? Here she was a prime suspect according to his boss – right in his apartment! He wondered if he should just arrest her now. And look a complete fool? Was Steve really right? He knew better than to go against Steve’s famous sixth sense. But this time -- was he right? The evidence -- there was no evidence! Only incredible suspicions and coincidence.
A McGarrett Rule – there is no such thing as coincidence.
Up close, she was stunning. Make up perfect, features well placed, he wondered what she was doing being a Marine. Or a robber? He thought of all her nasty comments about cops, men and Five-0 and wondered at the source of her ire. Was it enough to turn her and her friends to a life of crime? Of murder?
Before she could place the order, he pressed down on the phone button, disconnecting the call. “Sydney, we have to talk.” His tone was not as sympathetic or sincere as it could have been.
Coolly irritated, she put down the receiver and put her arms around his neck. “Let me guess. You don’t like aggressive women? I thought we covered that.”
He disengaged contact. He never had trouble discerning that girls found him cute and attractive. But it had been a long time since a girl came after him with this kind of persistent dedication. Thinking back on their sparring conversations, he wondered how he could have thought she was interested in dating him. It had all been about competition and venting her anger.
“I have no problem with aggression. In its place.” McGarrett-style, he went for the blunt bottom line. “Not like the gang robbing banks.”
Blinking in surprise, she inhaled a soft gasp. Wrath burning in her eyes, she released her hold and stepped back, staring at him. The expression was hard and closed, leaving it impossible for him to assess what she was thinking. He could guess, though, that it wasn’t good. Huffing, her jaw set in a tight clench, she stalked past. “Am I too much for you, Danny?”
“Probably,” he admitted to all the surface and underlying meanings he could conjure with that broad statement. The echo of his mentor’s voice in his head, the many examples of McGarrett’s blunt technique of confronting suspects, he blurted out, “Are you part of the gang, Sydney?”
He might have expected a slap in the face or hysterical laughter from another woman, yet he was unprepared for her reaction. Sydney slugged him hard in the jaw and he staggered back, clearly reminded she was tough and strong. Fortunately, he landed on the sofa and the aches to his injured arm and shoulder were minimal, but still painful. Flashes of light dazzled in his head as he cleared away the sharp agony of the landing.
“You’ll be seeing me again, Danny,” she vowed, spinning away and briskly walking out, the heels of her sandals tapping a loud cadence on the tiled walkway as she stalked to the elevators.
Groaning, slowly struggling up, he staggered to his feet and slammed the door, rubbed his sore face, wondering if he should pursue and arrest her. Steve wanted the three suspects brought in for questioning, but there was no evidence against them. No warrants had been issued. If he made a move now it might blow Steve’s plans. And if Steve were wrong it would make Dan look like an idiot.
Hearing steps on the walkway – brisk and clicking heels like Sydney’s – he sighed and moved toward the door. Wincing at the thought of another confrontation, he supposed she had returned to apologize, maybe talk? They might be able to clear up the misconception – any normal person would want to do that, right? He opened the door, expecting her in front of him, and she was not there. Glancing out, he was puzzled to see her crouched down, picking up the cigarette she dropped on the walkway.
“What are you doing?”
She froze, the cigarette butt in her fingers. Then she quickly flicked it over the side of the rail. “Just cleaning up,” she snapped viciously as she stood.
Shrugging, her hand slipped under her shirt in a now familiar and understood gesture thanks to Chin. Her eyes met his. They both knew. She was one of the gang. No question.
In a flash – something akin to what he thought McGarrett must feel when a lightning bolt of inspiration hit – the clues – the errant, absurd and far-fetched suspicions coalesced in his mind: All the items Steve had discovered, and more. Smoking, rifle, tough girl, lipstick -- was he imagining it, or were her lips painted a shade awfully close to Mauve Sunset? She was aggressive, always provoking him about the robberies, about Five-0 catching criminals! It all fit! Sydney was one of the robbers. Steve had been right.
Anger overwhelmed his prudence. “You murdered friends of mine! You set a trap and you killed four SWAT officers! That first day -- how could you shoot at me on that scaffold? You had to know it was me. You wanted to kill me, too?”
“You’re right,” she smirked, triumphant, not at all repentant. Cold in her tone and eyes, glacial in the astere planes of her face. “And yeah, I wanted to kill you. And your Five-0 pals. And all the others who’ve held us down! But especially Five-0!”
He saw her fist come up this time. Ducking to avoid the blow, his injured shoulder prevented him from catching her hand and the punch landed a stinging blow to his ear. A second swing with her left hand caught him in the stomach. The ache and effort to avoid another punch knocked him against the wall, nearly passing out from the pain. Fighting to stay alert, he was slow to react when she drew a pistol from her purse.
Ducking into his apartment, Williams rolled over and behind the couch as she fired. Out of instinct more than reason he grabbed his .22 out of his ankle holster and fired back. His shot was off thanks to his dizziness from the pain. Slumping back to the floor, he heard her running along the walkway, and he shakily came to his feet, his shoulder ablaze with agony. By the time he looked out, she was gone.
Stumbling back to the phone, he quickly, unsteadily, dialed Five-0’s number and was automatically connected to HPD. It was late and the Five-0 staff was gone. Then he tried McGarrett’s private line at the office, but was not surprised when there was no answer. He dialed HPD to connect to Steve’s car. No reply. Lastly, he called Steve at home. Where was Steve? He was beginning to worry.
At least he had good news for his akamai friend. After this he would never again doubt one of Steve’s hunches.
The voice exhibited all the fatigue and worn-out exhaustion of his friend. Guilty about the call, but relieved McGarrett was safe, he delivered his amazing news.
“Steve, Sydney was just here. She’s one of the robbers. I know it now. I should have never doubted you --“
“Hold on --“
“She dropped a cigarette, Steve! We’ve got solid evidence against her!” He probably sounded incoherent -- raving even. “You were right, Steve, I shouldn’t have been so angry.” Feeling weak and dizzy with pain, angry at himself for not having enough faith in McGarrett, he knew the distress and sting were making him sound like a madman. “I’m going to bring in the evidence and --“
“Okay, Danno, slow down.” The voice was brisk and business-like now. “Take it easy. Sydney was there at your --“
“Yeah. We can run some ballistics --”
“She shot at you?”
“Just hit the couch. I told you she was not a good marksman!”
“Danno!” It almost sounded like a growl on the other end. “Are you all right?”
“All right, calm down.”
Good advice for both of them, because the head of Five-0’s tone was tense and tough, his voice elevated from surprise and distress.
Williams took a few deep breaths, feeling more centered giving out the facts and offering the report to his boss. Knowing Steve was on the other end of the phone, instantly supportive, no asking anything but if he was okay, made everything jolt back into the right perspective. “Get an APB out on her, Steve. She’s armed and dangerous, tell everyone to be careful, she’s out to kill.”
“Are you sure you’re all right?” The concern was deep and clear.
Over-protective, over-concerned. Right now that didn’t feel confining, obtrusive or a violation of his personal privacy. It felt like warm, powerful, caring friendship. His big brother was watching out for him, as always, and it felt like he had come home. “Yeah, Steve, don’t worry, I’m fine.”
“Okay, Danno. Get the evidence and I‘ll meet you at the Palace. But please be careful. She’s not just dangerous. It sounds like she’s out to get you. I’ll send over a squad car for -- ”
“There isn’t time, Steve. I’ll be fine. I’ll meet you there.”
Grabbing his keys, Dan placed a sandwich bag in his pocket, then dashed out, impatiently pacing the elevator as he descended to ground level. Checking the area before moving into the open, he felt foolish, but clearly remembered the sniper attack at the Palace and knew Sydney might not be great, but could kill him given enough shots. His experience on the scaffold proved her efficiency.
After he saw no threat, he hurried out to the the beach area at the back of his condo. Searching for several minutes, he finally found the cigarette butt he was seeking. It was thin, like the ones they found on the rooftop, and yeah, it looked like the same shade of lipstick he’d seen in Che’s lab -- on the cigarette recovered from the rooftop. On Sydney’s lips.
Pocketing the bagged evidence, he quickly walked to the garage the back way. Pulling the LTD out, he stopped at the driveway to check for traffic. A PING resounded at the same instant some kind of explosion stared the windshield. He dove down on the bench seat, automatically reacting before his mind consciously identified the strike as a bullet. A second bullet hit the glass and it shattered, shards of sharp splinters showering him, prickling his exposed skin. A projectile ploughed into the driver’s seat.
Throwing the LTD into Park, he clumsily drew his gun with his left hand, determined to try and take a shot at the sniper -- whom he identified in his mind as Sydney. She had to be across the street and in front of him somewhere . . . .
First, he grabbed the mic and called Dispatch. “HPD Central.”
Bullets plugged into the roof, then seemed to be sliding along the passenger side toward the rear of the car. Like the sniper from the heists, she had shifted position -- a different angle. Or were there two snipers? He didn’t think so. Sydney had been here visiting him and the confrontation – his injudicious accusations – sent her over the edge. ‘So much for using the McGarrett-method of confrontation!’ Sydney WAS his suspect and she didn’t want this evidence getting to the lab. Or perhaps she just wanted him dead.
Automatically, his mind shifted into how she was acting -- what she was thinking. How her sniper training was set even if her skills were not top notch. Again, Sydney was falling into form -- acting on instinct first and thorough process second -- he knew she was going for a broad strike, not a precision kill. Fire enough bullets at him in a wide pattern and soon or later she was bound to get lucky. What was insane was attacking him in broad daylight in public – sounded familiar – he wryly reminded himself. Same MO – why should she change now? And none of her clumsy routines meant anything except that she could succeed. Then he would be dead and a critique of her skills would not make any difference to him. Dead was dead.
“Officer under fire --“
The direction of the fire came to him as the bullet’s lined back along the car, then shifted to the side. Fuel. He would be just as dead when the gas tank exploded than if she had drilled him with a bullet or two. Dropping the mic, he catapulted out of the driver’s door, hitting the sidewalk with a jarring, agonizing thud.
Shaken from the pain of jolting his injured shoulder again, he slowly came to his knees and then feet, stumbling over to the small patch of grass fronting the condo building. Then everything faded in and out of black and grey -- the dazzling, bright colors of the Hawaiian sky, the sizzling sunlight, and the green trees that blurred away as more pain assailed him all through his body. Was he wedged against the building? What happened? A cacophony of sound rang in his ears, heat crackled close. He rested his head on the grass that came out of nowhere, closing his eyes against his confusion.
Steve sighed wearily and went to his bedroom, retrieving his ID and a belt holster, then transferred his revolver from the shoulder holster. He didn’t have time to get into a suit – dressed in his after-work casual wear, briskly locking up and making his way down to the garage --he didn’t have time for anything but to get to the Palace and make sure with a visual check that Danno was all right. His friend had sounded upset and there were plenty of good reasons for that. He just discovered his girlfriend was a killer and she had tried to shoot him – again! There was no triumph in being right about this, only mild satisfaction that Danno was well, and Sydney was not going to have a chance to hurt him again.
As McGarrett climbed into the car, he groaned at the strain on his injury. At this rate he would have a hard time healing and regaining his strength, he admitted to himself, but stubbornly would never surrender that theory to anyone else. Right now, his worry was about Danno. He should have told his friend he would pick him up – why was he letting Williams drive to the Palace alone? Maybe he should call and change their plans.
While he waited for evening traffic to clear on Ala Wai he reached for the mic. As he did, a “shots fired, car explosion, officer down on Kalakaua Avenue ” police report grabbed his attention over the myriad routine calls coming over the radio. Kalakaua Avenue. Danno’s address. He screeched out into the nearest lane and made a quick left on the next one-way street heading makai.
Traffic in Waikiki was heavy and he impatiently wound through the congestion, alert for more reports. He asked Dispatch who the officer was that was down, but there was no name yet. Then he had Central patch him through to Dan’s car, then Dan’s phone – no answers. He wanted to talk to officers on the scene, but no one was there yet. How had it been determined there was an officer down? Witnesses knew the officer shot. Now tentatively identified as Danny Williams!
His blood running cold, he drew up to the apartment building, horrified to see flames leaping from a car -- Danno’s car. The burning Five-0 LTD was in the garage driveway of the building. He slammed his car to a stop, hardly pausing to shut off the engine.
Where was Danno?
Racing out of his vehicle, he jogged toward the front of the building where a few people carefully avoided the burning car and pointed at something on the ground. Danno? Steve didn’t register the whip of wind zipping past his face until after the window of the car next to him exploded. Throwing himself to the pavement, he cried out from the pain, and managed to slowly draw his revolver and hug the asphalt as more shots sprayed above his head.
He shouted for the bystanders to get out of the open! People screamed, scattering for cover, leaving what he now saw was Williams’ still body --exposed -- in the line of fire -- he agonized. It was like the first shoot out all over again. The sniper had high ground. Targets -- the cops -- obviously -- this time. Yearning to dash over and see how Danno was, he allowed reason to rule his emotions. Getting killed would not help his friend. Maybe nothing would, he distressed. He couldn’t believe he was living this over again!
The shots came quickly, but in a measured pace. She was using a single-shot rifle. In between bullets, he tried to think of a way he could get to his friend. No way. Danno was in the open, not far from the flaming LTD, but not too close. At least no bullets seemed to be going in his direction. Maybe the shooter knew he was already dead. Steve backed away from that possibility. More bullets riddled the nearest car and glass sprayed around him. Her aim was high. He scanned the area across the street. A thick row of trees there might be where she was hiding. High and to the right, Danno had told him. That was her pattern.
A patrol car pulled up and he shouted to the officer to stay down. Shots plowed into the HPD blue and white. During the barrage, McGarrett launched to his feet. Staying behind some parked cars, he darted toward the grove of trees. His side was on fire with the stress of the overt physical strain, but doggedly he kept moving. The patrolman, seeing his plan, was only seconds behind, but parallel and across the street so they remained separated targets.
Steve saw a glint of metal within the trees, the blur of a shadow behind the reflection. He leaned to the right and fired twice on the run. Reaching the trees just ahead of the HPD officer, they trained their guns on the still form of Sydney, crumpled in the grass. He allowed the officer to check her for a pulse.
“All pau,” he sighed shakily.
“Have this whole area combed by the lab team,” he tersely ordered. “Watch out for other shooters.”
Holding his throbbing side, he jogged quickly across the street, back to the apartment building, rushing to his friend’s side. No movement. Not again! Kneeling down, he saw Danno was breathing, bleeding, he sighed. Alive. First major concern out of the way, he noted bleeding around the shoulder injuries and a cut on the side of the head, but that wound didn’t seem life threatening from the outward appearance.
Steve grew aware that an HPD officer he didn’t know was talking to some excited witnesses. He nodded to McGarrett, knowing who the Five-0 chief was, and assured an ambulance was right behind him. Fretting silently, Steve bit his lip, willing his friend to regain consciousness. The still, wan face worried him.
When the ambulance arrived, McGarrett ordered the officers at the scene to take over and he climbed in the back. On the way to the hospital with the patient, Steve learned from the attendants the bleeding looked to be from several superficial wounds, possibly shrapnel from the exploding car. He pensively stared at his friend, watching the medics, pinching his lip and praying this was going to work out all right.
Williams’ eyes slowly opened.
The release of tension at that simple movement was almost painful. “Danno. Can you hear me?”
He turned to focus on McGarrett. “Steve.”
It seemed he had to force out the knot of emotion in his throat. “You’re on your way to the hospital.”
“I know.” He squeezed his friend’s arm. “It’s all right.”
“Sorry. You were right about Sydney.” He was blinking his eyes, as if he had trouble staying conscious.
“It’s okay, Danno, don’t’ worry about it now. Everything’s all right.”
“Watch out. High. High ground. Never understood high ground. To the right. She shoots high, Steve, high –“
“Danno, it’s okay. Shhhh. You rest,” he patted the arm smeared with blood. “You’ll be okay.”
“You were right. I was a fool --“
“Danno, it’s okay. I’m sorry for the things I said --“
The eyes close, but he was shaking his head, the voice fading away even s he tried to fight unconsciousness and force out his message. “YOU were right --“
“But I had a lousy way of breaking it to you, didn’t I? We’ll talk later.”
“She’s all pau, Danno. Dead. Don’t worry.“
His eyebrows shot up in surprise momentarily as his eyes opened. He gave a slight nod. “She wanted evidence in my pocket. Careful.” He was blinking hard, trying to keep his eyes open, but it was a losing battle. “Two more.” His eyes lids slipped closed.
“I’ll take care of it, Danno. Just take it easy.”
He reached into Dan’s pocket and pulled out a plastic bag with a cigarette butt. The purplish lipstick was distinctively familiar. So, this was what the sniper did not want them to have. Was that the motive for the shooting, or had she been out for revenge against Five-0 -- Danno – and just wanted the officer dead? It didn’t matter much now to her, she was the one who did not survive..
As soon as Williams was taken into an ER room, McGarrett found the nearest phone and called Chin Ho. One of the patrolmen working follow-up became a courier -- Steve sent the lipstick-smeared cigarette butt with him to take to the lab.
HPD units on stake out at reported two of the suspected robbers had been spotted at Sydney’s apartment. Search warrants were in the works and those would take a little more time. Chin Ho Kelly picked up McGarrett at the hospital and they drove to Sydney’s apartment in Hawaii Kai. As they pulled into the street, they heard the request over the radio for assistance; shots fired. They could hear the echo of the gunshots out their open car windows and it seemed surreal to have the actual event and the call for help come to their attention almost simultaneously.
McGarrett grabbed a bullhorn from the trunk and joined the nearest HPD unit by the building. Quickly learning shots came from Sydney’s apartment when the officers approached, Steve knew their suspects were geared for a fight.
“This is McGarrett, Hawaii Five-0. Surrender! Come out of the house with your hands up and no weapons!”
Gunshots answered his demands.
“Sydney is dead. She tried to kill Danny Williams and she’s dead. Don’t end up like her. Let this be the end of the violence. Save yourselves.”
More shots broke the front windows in a violent barrage.
“You murdered Sydney and you expect us to surrender?” came a thin, outraged voice.
“She tried to kill a policeman.”
“Just adding to the count!”
The wretched attitude made him cringe. Good men had died, been wounded, at the hands of these crazed women. His friend almost died . . . .
“They gonna make this hard,” Chin commented.
“Yeah, they are.”
In the past, they showed no interest in surrender and he was afraid today would be no different. Cornered, one comrade already down, they probably felt they had nowhere to go. He could not let their suicidal tendencies cost more lives.
He ordered Chin to shoot tear gas into the house.
“We will not hurt you if you surrender. Don’t make this hard!”
“You won’t hurt us?” screamed the woman. “You’ve done nothing but hurt us all our lives! We wanted to serve our country, but no, women can’t train to be combatants and fight alongside men! We try to be cops and we have to wear stupid hats and skirts like we were on the traffic ticket brigade! You won’t let us get out and be real cops! We’re as good as men but you won’t let us show it! You suppress it!”
“Brother,” Chin sighed beside him. “Women’s lib. I get enough of this at home.”
“We can talk politics after you surrender!” McGarrett replied.
“We will never surrender to any man!”
The tear gas shot into the house. They could hear hacking coughs from inside. Steve ordered the men to wait.
A flood of bullets split through from inside the door, followed by two figures. The women were not dressed in their combat gear; no flak vests, no protective armor. They fired mercilessly into the HPD cars with their automatic rifles. Officers not directly in danger returned fire and the women went down in an ugly volley of defensive replies.
Duke Lukela and a few others rushed up to check on them. McGarrett followed. By the time he arrived Lukela had risen from his crouch by one of the women. He shook his head.
“What a waste,” Chin sighed.
McGarrett could only agree.
Standing on the familiar walkway, in front of the familiar door of his colleague, McGarrett hesitated. He personally thought it was a little too premature for his friend to be coming back to work. If he didn’t show up and at least regulate Williams’ return by acting as escort, Danno would just drive in on his own and thus be tempted to run around all day, exceeding his limits, and getting into trouble.
Ben Kokua was back on the job. His injuries were less lingering than Danno’s. Steve had no problem with Kokua at work. Besides, the Hawaiian/Samoan detective had no trouble following doctor’s orders -- or Steve’s orders -- like some other detectives.
Sounded familiar, he admitted with self-reflection and went ahead and knocked.
Moments later, Williams opened the door. Still looking a bit pale and strained, he offered a bright smile. “Welcome to Monday.”
“You’re sure you’re up to this?” McGarrett wondered, certain of the reply but needing to confirm for his own peace of mind.
“I’m fine.” As if to prove his point, he hurried to lock up and closed the door behind him to join McGarrett on the outdoor walkway. In the bright morning sun, his appearance improved slightly. As if connecting with the natural elements of his native land invigorated him on a subliminal level. “Let’s go.”
Steve led the way to the elevator. “No over doing it today.”
‘Steve,” he sighed in warning.
“Just watching out for you.”
“I promise I’ll be fine.”
Hitting the button to go down, McGarrett turned to his friend. ”Final inventory came in on Sydney’s house.”
Still a disagreeable subject, Williams’ brow crinkled in displeasure. “I’m sorry it turned out the way it did.” Sincerely, he clearly made his point that he considered it a tragedy that the women chose to fight back against society with the violence of their crimes. “They were so wrong. And they never let us prove it.”
“I know,” McGarrett agreed.
There was still a deep sense of outrage, colored with Steve’s more adamant disgust that policemen died, his detectives were wounded and could have died -- for a cause. He had seen it before and would again he was sure, but hated it when people -- for any reason -- decided their soap-box attitudes had to include violence and murder.
“Steve, I want you to know I’m --“
“Danno, you better not apologize again or I’ll have to suspend you!”
Williams’ eyebrows raised.
”Especially when you don’t need to.”
Over the past week they had discussed the case numerous times. The post-mortem of events was, more than most investigations, covered with mind-numbing detail. Even though not on active duty, Williams’ limited participation was essential to closing out the case. It had all been business and Steve had avoided the personal. But, it rankled him to keep quiet when he knew things were unsettled between he and his friend.
“I should be the one apologizing.”
“For badgering you and hemming you in when I should know better.”
Smirking, Williams shook his head and admitted, “I wish I could say different, but you were right.”
“The end justifies the means?” Steve shook his head. “I couldn’t handle you being in any kind of danger after I saw you shot. It just made me snap. I know I was dominating -- more than usual -- but I couldn’t stop.”
Williams smiled with an easy casualness. “Not some of my favorite moments around the office. Sometimes I feel like you don’t think I am capable --“
“I would never think that. You know that.”
“I do,” he smiled, then shrugged. “I just want you to accept my abilities –“
“I know, Danno.” Sharing a chagrined glance, both broke into a smile.
“I know you were just watching out for your ohana,” Dan accepted easily. “It’s over now. I understand where you were coming from.”
As they stepped into the elevator car, he concluded, “You and Ben are alive, that’s the bottom line.”
“Yeah.” There was a moment of quiet, where Williams’ brow wrinkled in contemplation. “What’s ironic is the women never had the high ground.”
As they rode the elevator down, McGarrett turned to his friend and quizzically wondered what he meant. “You said something similar to that when you were in the ambulance.”
He seemed embarrassed. “I don’t remember that, but this is something that I’ve thought about a lot the last few days. High ground. Important for a sniper. High moral ground. That’s what they were trying for -- their statement -- their fight against society. But they never achieved it, did they?”
“No, not the way they made their arguments with bullets. They couldn’t handle being diminished by men, but in the end forced good men to kill them in self-defense. Such a waste.”
They reached the street level and walked slowly to the Mercury at the curb. Before he slipped into the driver’s seat, McGarrett leaned on the top of the car and looked over at his friend. “She might not have been a good shooter, Danno, but she was dangerous.”
Williams again seemed puzzled, concerned. “Maybe her anger kept her from being a truly excellent shot. From ever achieving an emotional high ground.” The puzzled expression seemed to convey his thoughts still forming on the abstract explanations. “Like I tried to teach her in surfing. She missed that subtlety, too.”
“What do you mean?”
“She had some talent, but the aggression forced out her skill. She was not open to the kind of sixth sense you acquire in shooting. Or surfing. Or being a Five-0 detective.” Embarrassed, he shook his head. “I’m not making much sense am I?”
McGarrett stood there for a moment, pondering the statement. Grateful in more than one way that he – they -- Five-0 --were on high ground. She was good enough to take out too many good men. And almost killed his friend on three occasions. He was grateful her skills were not as good as she thought. She had the power to inflict grievous wounds, but those on the high ground – morally – had prevailed. The success was a factor that meant something, but not the most important lesson at the end of the ordeal.
“Makes sense to me.”
The most valuable finale of the case was as he had already stated. His men were alive and safe. Danno had survived. No matter what they faced, at the end of the day, that was all that really mattered to him.