I’LL REMEMBER YOU

 

Story idea by KS

Written by GM

 

 

*****

 

May 1977

 

 

When the phone started ringing before he had finished his morning glass of juice, Steve McGarrett knew the news would not bode well.  At this early hour, the sun was hardly sparkling over Diamond Head to shine on the glittering hotels of Waikiki and the glistening water of the Pacific Ocean.  Too early for anything except an emergency.

 

Stepping over to the living room, he picked up the receiver before the third ring was finished.  “McGarrett.”

 

“Mr. McGarrett, this is Sergeant Thomas Chow, duty clerk at HPD.”

 

“What is it, Sergeant?”

 

“We’ve had a report that one of your officers, Danny Williams, has been taken to the hospital.”

 

“How bad is he?  What happened?” he barked out, instant distress surging through his system and sending his imagination into wild speculation.  He wanted answers to the myriad questions streaming through his mind.  In those few initial seconds, instinctively he sought order to cover the abrupt confusion and alarm.  “Where is he?”

 

“He’s been taken to Leahi Hospital.”

 

Very close.  Just over on the side of Diamond Head.  Near Danno’s apartment.  “Notify Detectives Kelly and Lukela and tell them to meet me there.”

 

“Yes, sir.”

 

The drive to the hospital nestled on the verdant slopes of Diamond Head seemed inordinately long as McGarrett sped through the early morning streets of Waikiki.  He passed close by Williams’ apartment and wondered if the accident -- or whatever had happened -- had occurred there.  Since their profession was a dangerous one on and off duty anything could have happened, and his thoughts riotously recoiled through innumerable possibilities of tragedy and severity.

 

Every corner, every light, every block seemed a blur; his travel automatic while his thoughts anxiously conjectured on what had happened and what he would find at the end of the short trip.  Traffic was minimal; the golden rays of the morning sun only reflected beams bounced off the billowy, pastel clouds in the cobalt sky still dark from pre-dawn shadows.  Streets were damp from the light overnight rain.  Joggers and walkers sparsely dotted the sidewalks as he rocketed through the quiet residential neighborhoods and up into the grounds of the hospital.

 

Unfortunately, he had been a visitor here too often. He screeched up to the entrance and leaped out knowing exactly where the ER facilities were.  Sprinting through the corridors, he barely paused at the nurses‘ station as he asked the location of Williams.

 

A middle-aged RN he had never met before waited an eternal moment as she assessed him.  “Are you a relative?”

 

“I am the head of Hawaii Five-0,” his crisp rejoinder snapped loudly in the empty quiet of the hall.  “Officer Williams is my detective.  Where is he?”

 

A bit of the woman’s grey-flecked hair fell out from under her cap as she nodded down the side passage.  “He’s in surgery now.  Please have a seat in the waiting room and --“

 

“Surgery!  What are his injuries?  How serious is his condition?”

 

“I don’t have an official status report, sir, but --“

 

“What happened?”

 

“I don’t know.  If you will just wait --“

 

“Let me talk to a surgeon --“

 

“I’m sorry, you can’t --“

 

“The attending physician --“

 

“You can’t do that!  You will have to wait!”  Clearly her patience with his demands was at an end.  “Please take a seat and you will be informed when the surgeon is available.”

 

Visibly unhappy with the orders and the lack of information, he moved to the empty waiting area and called his office.  No one was in yet, so he placed a call to HPD dispatch and tracked down Chin Ho Kelly, who was just driving into the city.  Already informed of the incident, the detective was heading into Waikiki to meet with the officers on the case.  At least there was some progress somewhere.

 

Waikiki?”  Technically, Williams’ apartment was at the far Diamond Head end of Waikiki, but was not what he would consider within the sphere of the tourist haven. “Danno’s place?” 

 

“No, I’m meeting them down by the Halekulani.”

 

Nearly the opposite end of Waikiki from Danno’s condo.  What was the officer doing there so early in the morning?  Idle speculation would get him nowhere so he refocused on priorities.

 

“Okay, Chin, have Duke help you.  Find out what you can and call me back.  I’m at Leahi Hospital.”

 

“Sure, Steve.  And don’t worry, I’m sure everything will be fine.”

 

“Let’s hope so, Chin.”

 

He called HPD back and tried to get more information from dispatch, but it was too soon for any preliminary report from the officers on scene. No more information on where Danno was, his condition, what he was doing, or what had happened. He did discover the patrolmen who found Williams were Sergeant Thomas Nakamura and Patrolman Simon Taylor.  Two men he didn’t know.

 

A traffic accident victim arrived and McGarrett tried to be inconspicuous while he commandeered the pay phone as his mobile communications center; coordinating with HPD and his detectives.  People were filtering into the waiting area.  Frustrated at the lack of data, the strained conditions, the anxiety, he returned to the nurses‘ station.

 

The shift supervisor (Nurse Childress, he learned when he read her tag), glared at him when he approached.  Calming his impulsive nerves, he politely asked if he could see his friend’s admission chart.  He explained he was concerned about his detective, anxious about Williams’ well being.  The injured man was a police officer, most likely the victim of a crime, and to expedite facts now would help him both personally and professionally.  Quietly, barely restraining his bald apprehension, he revealed Williams was his friend and any information would help mollify his worries.

 

Charmed and sympathetic now, reassured, Childress responded she could not allow him to read the chart.  But she might be able to assuage his consternation.  She suggested they retreat to the staff lounge where he could conduct his business in privacy.

 

Impressed with her kindness, he mellowed and thanked her, feeling slightly calmed.  In the small, but cozy physician’s retreat, she poured him some coffee and promised to be back with the chart.  He drank in the horrible, strong and bitter java, grateful for the jolt to his taste buds and his caffeine-starved system. 

 

“I didn’t do you any favors.  That sludge has been simmering most of the night.  It’s murder on an empty stomach,” she chided gently as she came in with a file and a dry looking chocolate donut.

 

He refused the meager snack and poured another cup.  “What have you got?”

 

She didn’t seem to notice, or didn’t comment on his order sounding like she was one of his staff.  “He is in surgery to set multiple fractures of the left humorous,” she read off.  “There were hand, arm, facial and scalp lacerations.  The good news is no skull fracture, bone fragments inside the skull, or brain injury according to x-rays.  Concussion, probably severe.  Vital signs low, consistent with blood loss and trauma.  He was not conscious before surgery.”

 

The report was both better and worse than he expected.  Not knowing why his friend had been rushed here, he expected anything; extreme gunshot, knife wounds, near-fatal injury of any kind.  Concussion, well, Danno had endured that before.  Breaking an arm, lacerations -- those didn’t sound so serious.  The last time he had a concussion he had been unconscious for a time, but had recovered quickly enough.  Except for the brief amnesia, but he had come out of it okay.  {episode -- JOURNEY OUT OF LIMBO}

 

The injuries were still troubling.  Had Danno been beaten?  Hit by a car?  Why didn’t the officers on the scene file a decent report?

 

Feeling a little more confident that Danno would come out of this all right, he made more calls.  The only person he could reach was Duke Lukela, who was still in his car, about to meet with Chin and the patrolmen who found Danno.  He promised to call and give Steve a report as soon as he knew anything. 

 

When McGarrett returned to the nurse’s station a young, tall, lanky doctor in surgical garb was approaching and he immediately waylaid the man.

 

“You were in surgery with Dan Williams?” He automatically proffered his badge to cut through any delaying tactics.  “How is he?”

 

“Lucky considering the fall he took,” the man admitted.  “Two nasty breaks on the humorous weren’t very neat, but they’re set.  We won’t know about nerve damage until he’s conscious, but there’s no obvious damage to the major nerves.  No skull fracture.”

 

“Fall?  What kind of fall?”

 

“I don’t know.  Isn’t that your department, finding solutions from random clues?”

 

McGarrett was in no mood for word games with doctors.  “I don’t have a report yet.  What kind of fall?”

 

The physician shrugged.  “Not too high.  A story, maybe two.  Depending on what he landed on.  The velocity of a falling body increases approximately thirty feet a second, so we know it couldn’t have been too high. The lacerations are consistent with skin scraping on something hard.  The way the bone fractured implies he used his arm to cushion the impact.  Or, he tried to land on his arm or shoulder to protect his back or head.  That would infer that he was conscious at the time.”  The young man shrugged.  “Now I’m trying to do your job.  Maybe he was pushed and just happened to land that way.  Maybe he was hit on the head before the fall.  A relaxed body usually sustains decreased injuries.”

 

“You don’t know?”

 

“Blunt head trauma.  Looks like he smacked into something flat.  My guess is the pavement, not a weapon.  That’s just a guess, but backed up by the dirt and gravel-type substance cleaned from the wounds.”

 

“What about his head injuries?”

 

“Lacerations to the head.  The blood dried before he lost too much, luckily.  Severe concussion, but we found no evidence of damage to the brain.  No skull fractures as I mentioned.” 

 

“Then he’ll be fine.”

 

He hesitated.  “Let’s make that judgment when he regains consciousness.  It could take hours or days for him to wake up.  Severe concussion has serious side effects.  It’s something we can’t predict.” 

 

Steve had personal experience with such injuries, and he had watched Dan go through a slow recovery before.  It had been a scary time -- years before -- after being dumped out of a truck’s load of dirt -- Dan arrived unconscious to the hospital.  He hoped this was not so serious, but the prognosis was not promising.  McGarrett asked if he could wait in Williams’ room and was refused.  He thought about making an issue of it.  These medical people had no idea how important it was for him to be there when Danno woke up. 

 

“His immediate condition is serious because of the blood loss from his scalp lacerations,” the doctor began, forestalling a debate.  “As you must know, the scalp bleeds excessively, and he went unattended for a few hours after his fall, so I am concerned.”  He quickly continued before McGarrett could respond.  “Fortunately, the lacerations were minor and the blood loss, while considerable, was not fatal.

 

The unenthusiastic report concerned him, but Steve knew everything possible was being done for his friend.  It didn’t make him feel much better. 

 

Doctor Adams, Steve finally learned his name, insisted it would be at least several hours before the patient awoke.  Debating and getting nowhere, Steve realized the doctor was young, but adamantly against lurkers in his patient’s room.  The cop surrendered with a promise that he be notified the instant Williams returned to consciousness.

 

The drive back to Waikiki seemed faster than the journey to the hospital.  Less concerned for his friend now that he knew what they were facing, he still could not shake his trepidation over Williams’ injuries. 

 

The practicality of traffic congestion refocused his attention.  The narrow, clogged streets of Waikiki were not easy to navigate in the big Mercury and he searched for a spot to park the car as he pulled onto Kalia Road near the Halekulani.  The unique hotel boasted cottages and a plantation-style main building that was a welcome piece of unusual elegance in the midst of the concrete high rises surrounding Waikiki.  

 

The swirl of activity piquing his interest was taking place just down the street, closer to a small hotel called the Sunset Reef.  The area was cordoned off to unofficial traffic, which created a snarl of congestion on a number of side streets.  Two patrol cars, three Five-0 sedans and a van from the lab all packed the confined, two-lane avenue.  McGarrett joined his two Five-0 detectives in front of a restaurant built next to the Reef.

 

“How is Danny?” Chin asked first.

 

“Danno’s got a concussion and broken arm, some cuts and bruises.  The doctor thinks it could be from a fall.”

 

“Yeah, it was,” Lukela confirmed.  “Come on, we’ll show you.”

 

Coursing through the hotel lobby, they took the elevator up to the second floor, then out to a lanai at the makai end of the hotel.  They pointed to the roof of the next-door seafood restaurant named Rainbow Grill.  A roof swarming with HPD personnel.

 

Chin called over a young patrol sergeant who was standing by the railing observing the activity.  He introduced the young man, Tom Nakamura, and asked him to give McGarrett a verbal summary of the call that brought him out there that morning.

 

“After six AM dispatch called us.  Said a tourist reported a body on this roof.”  He pointed to the top of the restaurant.  “Tourist in the hotel over there,” he pointed in the Diamond Head direction, “stepped out on his lanai to check out the Hawaiian morning.  Light enough to see plenty good.  He spotted the body.  No one else.”

 

Imagining the scene, Steve ground his teeth as he listened.  When the officers had arrived, they saw Danno’s body crumpled on the roof.  Unmoving.  Injured.  Initially they suspected he was dead.  They climbed down, determined he was alive, and called an ambulance.

 

“No witnesses?”  The incredulous inquiry reverberated in the morning air.  “I can’t believe that!  This is the tourist center of this state and we have no witnesses?”

 

It was still early.  Delivery trucks, trash trucks and tourist buses were chugging through the narrow lane nearby, only a few tourists out walking around.  Just about right for the sparse, energetic locals and malihini who were interested in a jog or walk on the beach before the sun topped over the high-rise hotels and started baking the sands of Waikiki.  Too early for those who were acclimated to the time change.  A little late for those, particularly new arrivals from the West Coast of the mainland, who were still running on Pacific time. 

 

That was probably the case of the man who came out on the lanai before the reflected sun could do more than bathe Honolulu in the muted, dusty-purple of pre-dawn.  He had come out for some fresh, humid, damp-soaked Hawaiian air and observed the inert body of a Five-0 detective on the roof below his hotel.

 

“No witnesses found yet, sir,” Nakamura assured.  “We’re still working on it.”

 

“Find someone.”  He turned his attention back to the scene.  “No physical evidence?”

 

“Nothing’s turned up,” Chin grimly admitted.  “No sign of struggle, but the lab techs are still going over the lanai for the second and third floors.”

 

Glancing up at the side of the hotel, McGarrett knew Dan couldn’t have tumbled more than a story or two and come out with so few injuries.  He reminded, unnecessarily, for the policemen to question maids and other employees of all the surrounding hotels.  Anyone working nights or early morning.  They didn’t have an exact time yet on the assault, so he might go with the doctor’s initial speculations.  They would have to cover a broad spectrum, then he would narrow it down later when Williams awoke. 

 

He would have to remember to retrieve Danno’s personal belongings and turn them over to the lab.  Maybe they would find something there.  Violence significant and nearly fatal occurred to his detective between last night and this morning.  Someone had to know what happened.  And the culprit had to have left some clue that would give him away.

 

Spending a few more minutes going over the scene, McGarrett knew he was not contributing anything useful here.  Returning to the hospital he doubted Dan would be conscious yet, but he naturally gravitated there.  As expected there was no change, but the nurse allowed him to go into Dan’s room.

 

It was like so many other hospital rooms he had visited or resided within.  He was struck, as he usually was, with how stark and cold -- despite the tropical warmth -- it seemed; a sterile cocoon enfolding an injured and still friend.  It chilled him to think that this was actually a positive aspect considering what could have happened.  Being attacked and thrown off a building -- Danno could have bled to death overnight.  He could have landed more directly on his head and died from a skull fracture or . . . .

 

Forcing a halt to the grim conjecture, he studied the prone man.  The bandages on Dan’s wan head, the cast arm, made the patient look woefully helpless.  It was a transference of what Steve imagined -- the sinister events surrounding the alarming attack, the serious damage, the sudden strike from nowhere against his detective.

 

He paced an ever-closing circle, gradually approaching the bed.  Knowing Williams was unconscious, he nonetheless felt compelled to communicate.  Innate refusal to accept the apparent -- the stubborn nature to fight against the odds for what he believed or desired -- obliged him to reject the wall of silence and non-awareness.

 

“Danno?”  He stood at the side of the bed and gently shook Williams’ right arm.  “Danno, you’ve been through a lot.  But, you need to wake up now.  We need you to make sense of what happened.  What were you doing in Waikiki last night?”  He sighed, torn between the frustrating quietness and his determination to know his friend was going to be all right.  Grave qualms hovered close in ever-present solemnity as long as Williams remained unconscious.  “Come on, Danno!”  The anger at his aggravation carried into the cracked order, yet the patient remained quiescent.

 

Pacing back across the room, he dropped into irritated, one-sided, conversation.  He explained what must have happened -- the crime; the investigative steps taken to trace Williams’ movements.  What might have happened between the time he left work the night before and the time of discovery on a rooftop that morning.

 

Needing to act instead of idle, he used the room phone to call HPD.  He ordered an officer over to guard Williams, surprised he had not thought of that before.  Whoever did this might want to finish off the job.  After all, he had no idea what precipitated the attack -- an old grudge with a criminal -- or some unknown person connected with a current case?

 

The duty sergeant informed him Detective Lukela had already seen to the sentry coordination.  Relieved someone else on his team was thinking more clearly than he was, he hung up, wondering what other simple procedures he had forgotten because of his emotional connection with the circumstances.

 

“Mr. McGarrett?”

 

He turned, a little startled that his thoughts had been so deep he did not hear Nurse Childress.  She assured him the patient was stable, vital signs were improved and stable, and he had every chance of coming out of the coma and recovering completely. 

 

Impatient as always, McGarrett asked how long it would take for Williams to wake up.  He knew the answers already, but wanted to hear what he wished, not depressing medical prognosis.  Longing for some sliver of hope and optimism beyond the cold and harsh diagnosis, he asked for her personal opinion.

 

Being a complete professional, she gave him the standard warning that concussions were tricky conditions.  A skull, bruised and battered, brains being knocked around; it might take a while for the injured organ to recover and the patient to wake up and return to the world. 

 

Nodding, outwardly accepting the dull reality of the injury, he inwardly railed against the calm analysis.  This was his friend they were talking about, not some faceless, nameless patient in a medical study.  Not some random victim of anonymous violence.  Containing his anger, he changed the subject, asking for Dan’s personal items.  In accordance with normal procedures, they were waiting at the nurse’s station for an authorized officer to take them.

 

“Is there anything I can get you?”

 

“No,” he denied crisply, not wanting his desperation -- his weakness -- witnessed by the nurse.  “I have to be going.”

 

She exited with a nod, kind enough to allow him a few more minutes of privacy.  In that silent time, he solemnly watched his friend, thinking back to the last few hours from the day before.  It had been just another day at the office.  Dan working with Duke on a double murder case in Waipahu until after sunset.  Chin dealing with a burglary ring in Kailua.  Nothing special.  Chin left early to attend one of his kid’s concerts.  Duke stayed, finishing up some late paperwork, then left about -- he didn’t even know what time.  

 

Danno had ordered delivered Japanese food -- Steve wasn’t even sure what they had eaten.  He had been concentrating on a personal case for an Assemblywoman and wanted Williams’ input on the delicate investigation.  They had talked for a long time.  At some point, their yawns were more recurrent than their ideas and McGarrett insisted they close shop.  Dan left, Steve stayed to lock up the office.  When he went down to his car, Williams’ LTD was gone. 

 

Just like so many other nights -- long days -- at Five-0.  Nothing extraordinary.  There had been no indication that the new dawn would bring tragedy and an alteration of their lives.  Injury on the job was naturally part of the profession, but coming so unexpectedly -- literally stealthily in the night -- rocked Steve’s stability.  This was not supposed to happen.  The head of Five-0 -- the victim’s friend and colleague -- should not be left bereft of clues to work with, with no way to seek justice.  Fate should not leave his friend like this.

 

Once more urging Williams to wake up, to come back and help with the case, he waited a few moments for a response.  The motionlessness, the close silence unnerved him and he swept out the door.  Brisk strides took him away, but his thoughts remained anchored at the too-tranquil scene he left behind.

 

 

*****

 

There were pressing matters to deal with upstairs; appointments, phone calls, police work.  McGarrett ignored the responsibilities, confident his staff could handle the daily duties while he personally spearheaded the most important case in their sights.  He would remain here in the Iolani basement lab, sifting the only tangible clues in their possession, and working his brain on his priority assignment.  There may not be anything he could do to bring Dan out of a -- he mentally sidestepped -- to wake up Danno, but he certainly could and would do a great deal to find out how Williams became a casualty.

 

Going through Dan’s affects created more questions than answers, McGarrett sullenly realized as he stared at the items laid out on a table.  Aloha shirt, loafers, jeans, puka shell surfer choker that he sometimes wore -- casual attire. Was Danno meeting someone at a club?  He hadn’t mentioned anything, but yesterday had been a brain straining day at the office.  Usually Dan had comments when he was looking forward to a date.  Or kept checking his watch, anxious to leave the office when expected somewhere.  None of those signs had been manifest yesterday. 

 

The clothes were bloody and torn. The damage seemed consistent with a fall.  There might be something there that was not obvious to the human eye, but for now, they told him nothing.  The lab boys would have to run their tests for more evidence.

 

Dan’s ankle holster -- empty holster -- told him a lot more.  That was usually what Williams wore when he went out on a date, or expected trouble on the job and armed himself with a second weapon.  The small .22 was missing.  Badge, wallet, change and car keys attested that this was not a mugging, at least not a successful one.  The missing gun could mean Williams tried to defend himself and did not have the chance before being overtaken and thrown off the lanai. 

 

Ordering Che to complete the tests with top speed, he jogged up the multi-levels of stairs to the Five-0 wing at the top of the building.  Lani and the rest of the clerks were there.  Two uniformed officers gave him a nod and continued talking to Chin in his cubicle. 

 

Accepting his messages and memos, Steve informed his secretary to cancel his appointments for the day.  She would have related, of course, if there was any word from the hospital.  It would have been written clearly on her face, instead of the strained concern that was there now. He asked anyway, learned he received no call from the hospital, then continued on to his office.  A moment later Chin entered.

 

“Danno’s .22 is missing, but he had it with him last night,” he started with bullet-fired intensity.  “As soon as Che finishes dusting the keys I want you to take them and head down to Waikiki.   The Mustang must be there, it could give us another clue.  Danno was probably on a date. Anybody check Danno’s place yet?”

 

“Not yet.  Duke and some officers are sticking in Waikiki.  I was just going over statements.”

 

“From?”

 

“Hotel workers and the man who spotted Danny.”

 

“Anything catch your eye?”

 

“Not yet.”

 

Appreciating that Kelly was fulfilling the sedentary, but necessary job of going over details and checking for clues in statements, McGarrett knew he could not settle down and read reports just yet.  He had to keep active. Nerves wouldn’t allow him to sit still.

 

“How’s Danny?”

 

“It’ll take some time for him to come out of it,” he decided as his official stance.  “He’ll be okay.”

 

“Sure.”  Kelly easily fell into the story.  “Just take some time.”

 

“You keep on the statements as they come in.  I’ll track down the Mustang and check Danno’s apartment.”  Vigorously he started back out the office.  “If the hospital calls, let me know.”

 

“I will.”

 

*****

 

 

Searching Williams’ apartment should have been one of the first things he did after leaving the scene of the fall, but he had been too rushed to get to the hospital, automatically thinking someone else would pick up the slack.  Chin was busy trying to find fresh clues from the most likely source of assistance -- witnesses.  Duke was doing the same, joining the tedious ranks of officers on foot, interviewing and questioning.  Routine measures to uncover hints or evidence -- discover someone who might have seen Danno, might have seen a suspicious person running from the hotel.  Anything, no matter how vague, might be an important link to their perpetrator.

 

As he drove to Waikiki, he felt a renewed pang of regret at his second-in-command’s absence.  Not just because of the seriousness of his injuries, but in the daily fulfillment of the job.  Williams would have thought of taking these elementary steps.  The others didn’t have time.  Danno was always the one to see to these little details.  McGarrett had been too concerned with Danno’s condition to worry about logical procedure.  As he always did in Dan’s departure, he keenly missed his friend.

 

Parking on the narrow, tree-lined end of Kalakaua, McGarrett first walked down into the underground garage of the building.  The Five-0 LTD was there in its assigned parking slot; Dan’s Mustang gone, confirming his supposition that Danno had driven the sports car into Waikiki.

 

Going up to the condo he found all just as he expected: Tidy, clean, no signs of violence.  It had been a long shot that something happened at the apartment and the body was left far away at the other end of Kalakaua.  It was necessary, however, that he make sure.  On the table by the sofa he discovered something unusual that piqued his interest.  A tourist pamphlet for a hot new dinner show at the Rip Curl Room in the Waverider Hotel, just makai of the hotel where Danno was found.  Close to the scene of the crime.  The Rip Curl Room looked like a swinging nightclub and might explain what Danno was doing in that neighborhood.

 

Tucking the paper in his pocket, he surveyed every room.  Williams’ police revolver was locked in a drawer by the bed.  No clues there really, but confirmation that Dan had left for social purposes.  If he had gone out to meet an informant or investigate his own angle on a case, he would have been armed with his .38 Special.  He would have called for back up, or at least taken the LTD for the radio.  Convincing himself he had not missed anything else, figuring he had discovered all he could here, Steve hesitated at the door, studying the hushed, serene rooms, listening to the gentle ebb and flow of the surf far below.  Everything was muted and at rest.  Like Danno laying not so far away in a quiet hospital room. 

 

Walking down the open hallway to the elevator, he considered taking a trip to the nearby hospital.  At his car, he checked in at the office.  Duke was still in Waikiki.  Chin had gone out to talk to one of the maintenance men with an incomplete statement.  No news from the doctors.

 

Driving to the other end of Waikiki, he noted the strange dichotomy of the sights and smells and very atmosphere around him.  Tourists roamed the streets; in search of late breakfasts, or brunch, or shopping, or on the way to the beach.  The night drizzles had swept clear and left the concrete paradise fresh and clean.  Radiant tropical sun drenched the sea-kissed air and everywhere he looked he saw happy, relaxed vacationers or workers (even they seemed pleased with life) basking in and absorbing the aloha spirit.  Was he the only one immune to the enchanted heaven around him?

 

Cruising down Lewers, turning on Kalia and finding a driveway of a hotel to park in, he knew his gruff attitude was coloring everything dark and objectionable.  He did not condemn tourists or locals who found enjoyment today.  He decried the contrast of light and dark, of shadow and sun where he now dwelled.  The world continued; lives went unchanged around him, while he felt with every moment the alteration in his universe.  His friend was excluded from paradise and he didn’t know how long it would take for Danno to return.  Deep inside, something he admitted not even silently, was the fear that there would not be a return at all.  That Danno would never reawaken.

 

Duke’s LTD was parked near the Sunset Reef, but there was no sign of the Five-0 officer.  Steve went up to the second floor and out to the lanai on the makai end of the hotel.  The personnel were gone, the restaurant roof now void of any sign that traumatic events had occurred there overnight.  On the street beyond, buses filled with tourists tooled through the narrow thoroughfare.  Kids with surfboards strolled to the nearest beach walk to hit the waves.  Beyond Fort DeRussy he could see the glittery, placid waves of Waikiki. 

 

Taking the stairs, he wondered if the crime lab team had searched this area.  In a cursory glance he saw nothing unusual; no obvious sign of a fight or blood.  When he emerged in the hotel lobby, he asked at the desk for Lukela and was told officers were still interviewing night shift workers.  Of course, most of the hotels had changed shifts by now and there would be a lot of people to talk to from last night. 

 

Hoping to push the investigation in a new and more useful direction, he crossed the street to the Waverider.  Of course, the night show performers were long gone and no one involved with the evening luau or dinner room would be awake this early.  Still, McGarrett talked to the security manager, Keo McGrath, asking for and receiving details about performers, waitresses, anyone connected with the entertainments.  McGrath was a former Marine MP who had retired home to Oahu and received this job three years before.  He seemed competent and cooperative; two valuable commodities in a hotel security agent.

 

Belatedly, McGarrett realized he didn’t have a picture of Danno on him, but described his detective and asked if McGrath had seen him in the past few days.  Negative on that.  The security chief said he would be on duty later that evening when the night performers and dinner staff came to work, so he could help McGarrett with inquiries.  Satisfied that was probably the best he could do short of tracking down dozens of people and rousting them from bed, Steve moved on to his next assignment.

 

The first place he tried for overnight parking was no help.  It was a lot close to the Reef, but with open, end-of-alley rows of parking slots that didn’t seem safe enough to be a place where Dan might leave his prized sports car.  He tried another lot down Kalia and ran into Duke and Officer Nuuanu, just finishing at the Waikiki Surf.  Relating his lead about the Rip Curl nightclub, Steve wanted them to continue searching for witnesses.

 

 

*****

 

“He always that uptight?” Nuuanu asked as they continued to walk to the next hotel loading bay.

 

Lukela glared at the shorter, stockier man for a moment.  He didn’t know the patrolman well.  He had worked with the man a few times at HPD and considered him a decent cop.  It was obvious the man did not know McGarrett, or Five-0, or the close, family relationships within the state police unit.

 

“One of our detectives has been seriously hurt.  McGarrett takes it personally.”

 

“I’ve heard that about him.  This is the first time I’ve seen it up close.  It will be kind of embarrassing if it turns out Williams was in a bar fight or something like that.”

 

They turned into a walkway between hotels and came up to the delivery entrance of the kitchens at the Waverider .  Lukela asked to speak with the night manager.  As they waited, he leveled Nuuanu with a sharp eye. 

 

“Danny Williams was not in a bar fight.  Someone wanted him out of the way.  It’s our job to find out why.”

 

“I’ve heard McGarrett runs a tight crew.  Guess that’s true.”

 

“You better believe it, bruddah,” Duke assured sincerely.  “He won’t rest until he finds who did this.”

 

None of them would rest or give up until the criminal was in cuffs, he silently promised.  This was personal.  It struck at their heart when any one of them went down.  It was especially tough on McGarrett when Danny was hurt.  Like any big brother, Steve was overly protective and fiercely bent on seeking justice concerning his friend.  For the sake of all of them in their little ohana, he just hoped Danny came out of this okay.

 

 

Walking down to a parking structure near the Royal Hawaiian, Steve waved to the young man, Charlie Keaka, who managed the underground facility.  A few years before Keaka had been a juvenile on the way to a life in and out of prison.  McGarrett had seen he was a basically decent kid and gave him a second chance, finding him a job through an acquaintance connected with the Royal Hawaiian.  Keaka had kept clean since and was always appreciative and friendly to the Five-0 staff, particularly McGarrett. 

 

“Hey, Mr. McGarrett!  I expected to see Mr. Williams, not you.”

 

Heart racing, Steve knew he had finally hit pay dirt.  “Officer Williams was here?”

 

“Didn’t see him, only work days.  But I seen his Mustang.  Wondered what it was doing still parked here.”  He gave a broad wink.  Musta gone home with some foxy wahine and left his car.  Don’t tell me he’s late for work.  Man. You a tough boss, Mr. McGarrett, comin’ to check on late employees.”

 

In no mood for teasing, McGarrett gruffly refocused on the Mustang.  “Did you touch it?”

 

“Nah,” he denied, a little confused at the odd question.

 

“Officer Williams was involved in a -- in an incident last night.  We’re trying to piece together what happened.  Has anybody been interested in the car?”  They walked around a corner where the Mustang, top down, was parked near the stairs that led to the beach walk.  Top down.  Danno didn’t expect to be gone long.

 

“Not that I’ve seen.  So Mr. Williams, he’s not doing too well?”

 

“No.”

 

“Sorry to hear that.”

 

“Yeah.  Charlie, do me a favor and call the night manager.  I want details of when Danno came in and if anyone was with him.  Or anything else that pertains to this car.”  The young man hesitated.  “Now, Charlie.”

 

“Sure thing, Mr. McGarrett.”

 

“Mahalo.”

 

Steve checked over the Mustang with a keen eye, careful not to touch anything except with his handkerchief.  A parking stub on the dash clocked it in at 9:23PM the night before.  The trunk was empty except for the usual accoutrements for an automobile.  The interior was spotless, as it always was.  If Danno had a vanity it was this car, and it was treated with the utmost respect and pampering.  Nothing out of the ordinary, he sighed and stepped back, scrutinizing the white car. 

 

Keaka returned and reported that the night manager said Williams came in at an odd time, but didn’t know exactly when.  Too late to catch the sunset cruises and dinner shows on the strip.  Too early to be part of the trendy, hot drinking/clubbing scene.  No one was with the detective.  When the manager went off shift at 6AM, the Mustang was still there.  Not unusual that some cars stayed.  It was an overnight lot for the hotels in the vicinity.  And sometimes if clubbers were too drunk, they would leave the vehicles and take cabs home.

 

Thanking the young man, he informed him a crew would be coming to examine the car.  He walked back toward the Sunset Reef, jostling elbows with tourists, his mind completely consumed by the enigma that was building around his friend.  Oblivious of the sea breeze, the bright fashions, the scent of plumeria, salty air, humidity and Coppertone, he drifted in his own mental box of concentration, intent on methodically tracking Williams’ path. 

 

Aloha spirit permeated everything around him -- the smiling people, the tropical air, the rainbow colors found in every glance.  The pressing blanket of equatorial humidity softened his face with moisture and warmth even out of the direct rays of the Hawaiian sun.  Amid the excitement and crowds, he felt isolated and separated within his own shell, adrift from everything around him, but the all important, all consuming case.

 

Hundreds of people could have seen Williams; could have brushed past him.  Dozens probably interacted with him in some way; from the parking attendant to some lost Iowa native on the street who might have asked for directions.  Someone at the Sunset Reef or Waverider must have talked to him, flirted with him, agreed to a meeting after a show.  Did he have dinner at the Rainbow Grill? Was he lured away by someone needing help on the second floor lanai of the Sunset Reef? The possibilities were endless.  What McGarrett did know was that after work, for some unspecified reason, Danno had gone out to bustling Waikiki and become a victim of a violent crime. 

 

When he reached the Mercury he was about to get into the car and stopped, noticing a slip of paper under the windshield wiper.  He read it, incredulous.  A ticket!  This might be funny under other circumstances.  Right now it was ludicrous and aggravating.  He shoved it in his pocket with a vow to track down the wayward officer who had the temerity to write a parking citation to the head of Five-0!

 

Calling the office, he asked first about word from the hospital.  Nothing.  All too aware Williams had been unconscious for hours now, possibly as long as twelve or more, he asked after other avenues of concern.  Chin was out of the office still.  Duke was out of contact, presumably still in Waikiki.  Several news stations wanted statements from McGarrett, all of which Lani handled.  She wondered if she should reschedule the canceled appointments, and he decided they would all remain on hold indefinitely. 

 

Driving onto Kalakaua, he had every intention of returning to the Palace.  Instead, he drove straight, past Danno’s condo and on to the hospital.  Nurse Childress was off duty, but had left word with her replacement to allow McGarrett to visit whenever he wanted.  Telling the head nurse he wished to speak with Dr. Adams, he walked on to Williams’ room.

 

Nothing had changed in here.  To make it seem more acceptable, McGarrett immediately opened the blinds and let in the fullness of the bright sun.  It should have cheered him, but it seemed to make the motionless Williams more grey and remote.  Was he hoping for the brilliance to awaken his friend, as if Danno was just napping?  In that, he was also disappointed.  Grinding his teeth, he sat on the bed and gripped onto Dan’s arm, shaking, lecturing, vainly urging his friend to awaken.

 

No response.  Disturbed, he abruptly  walked away, pacing, barking out commands that Danno wake up and get back on track.  Nothing.  Settling down, calming, he leaned against the wall near the window and talked.  He gave an assessment of the investigation so far.  Steps taken, plans for the continued progress.  Slowing, voice dropping, he sat down on the only chair in the room and reminded his friend how much they needed his help with this.  How much Steve needed Dan to come back from wherever he was.  Silence.  Stillness.  The words tapered off eventually, leaving the deceptive, outward tranquility of the tableau, lingering with the churning riot within his troubled heart as he watched the afternoon sun cast changing shadows onto the recumbent form on the bed.

 

*****

 

Every few hours he phoned his detectives or called to check in at the office, received updates from the lab, his detectives, his secretary.  No blood or trace evidence of another person was found on Dan’s clothing.  No powder burns on the clothing either.  No indication that Dan had drawn and fired his weapon.  When Danno was admitted, the hospital failed to check for gunpowder residue on his hands.  They might never know if Williams fired his pistol.

 

Chin’s promising lead with the maintenance man proved useless.  He was now talking with tourists in the Waikiki Surf to see if anyone else had seen Danno’s body, or anything suspicious.  Duke continued questioning hotel personnel.

 

The rest of McGarrett’s day was spent alternately cajoling or ordering Danno to come to his senses.  Or he simply talked; reiterating theories, ground already covered, possible avenues for the future.  Typical routine discussion with the atypical silence from one very important and vitally significant detective.  

 

Occasionally nurses or doctors would come in.  Steve would conference with them in the hall, brashly angry or sullenly reticent depending on the attitude he found.  Always insisting that his detective was going to come out of this funk at any time.  Ignoring the medical warnings that the longer a patient remained in a coma, the less were the chances he would ever emerge from the sense-nullness, Steve retained his faith that Williams would revive at any moment. 

 

 

*****

 

For the third time that day Kelly questioned tourists staying at the nearby Waikiki Surf.  It seemed unlikely that the only person to see Danny’s body had been Abner Craig from Los Angeles.  Apparently he was the only one in one hundred rooms on the Ewa side of the hotel that stepped out around day break and spied the inert form of Williams on the roof.  The only one discovered, at least.

 

Foot work was tedious and slow.  Made more difficult because most of the guests in the hotel were gone.  They were on vacation after all and most did not linger in a small room when Waikiki and paradise beckoned. 

 

Knocking on a door on the second floor, he announced his status as a police officer and asked to speak about a crime the occupants might have witnessed.  The door, with security chain attached, opened and a teenage girl peered at him through the slit.  Alice and Rebecca Matson from Las Vegas Nevada were staying here according to the register.  He repeated his mission as another taller and older teen -- sisters by the looks of them -- came to stand behind the first girl.

 

They agreed to talk through the door.  Their parents were staying in the next room and instructed them never to allow strangers in.  Commending their obedience and their parent’s wisdom, he asked it they had seen anything suspicious the night before, or early that morning, at the next hotel.

 

The girls exchanged looks that were meaningful; a bit guilty, a bit adventurous, and the older one started talking.

 

“We wanted to stay up late and listen to the music from the night club down there,” the older one, Alice, confessed.

 

“At the Waverider?”

 

“Yes.  They have a rocking night scene and the band was really charged.”

 

“We didn’t go to bed until after two in the morning.  But don’t tell our parents please.”

 

Being a parent of teenage girls and boys, Chin knew there were worse indiscretions and promised everything said would be confidential unless he absolutely had to report it in the interest of solving the crime.

 

“The only funny thing that we got a kick out of were the dancers across the way.”

 

“At the Sunset Reef?”

 

“Yeah, right across from us, outside on the balcony.  There were some people dancing kinda crazy,” Rebecca told him.  “We couldn’t stay up any longer.  Two in the morning is our limit.  But maybe the dancers could help you.  Three of them.”

 

“They were probably listening for free just like us,” Alice guessed.

 

That odd bit sounded promising.  “What about the people dancing across the way?  Can you describe them?”

 

Chin fired off questions rapidly and received answers in a similar measure.  The gender of the dancers?  Two men and a girl.  Did one of the men have sandy hair and was he wearing a blue aloha shirt?  They couldn’t be sure about the hair, but the shirt sounded right.

 

In the dim lights of streetlamps, cars, hotel rooms and nightclub reflections, they could only be certain it was two men and a girl were on the lanai. 

 

Satisfied he could get no more out of them he noted the incident and went to the next room, the parents of the teens. The man and woman let him in and he had to repress a smile at Mr. and Mrs. Matson.  They had underestimated the effects of the Hawaiian sun on haole skin and both were burned red.  They had taken aspirin and gone to bed early and knew nothing that could help him.

 

Chuckling as he went to the next room, he promised to finish this floor then hand over the tedious task to another officer.  He had hoped personally coming here and talking to potential witnesses would be productive.  Any little clue or insignificant detail could be the breakthrough they needed to find the answers.  It was something he had to do.  Danny, seriously injured, was agonizing to them all.  This was the best way he could help his friend, himself, and McGarrett.

 

 

*****

 

 

Unable to face going back to the office, Steve returned to Waikiki and checked in face-to-face with the officers working the case on foot.  Crossing paths with his detectives, Steve ordered Chin to find someone to drive his car out to Danno’s Diamond Head condo while he took the Mustang back to the apartment.  On the way to the parking garage, McGarrett spotted a familiar, lanky man in an HPD uniform rousting some tourists on the sidewalk.

 

Officer Kent Napali somehow managed to be immune to the aloha spirit affecting everyone else.  Some cops were troubled -- buckling under the stress of the job -- witness the high rate of suicides and divorces in the profession.  Just as there were all kinds of people, there were all personalities of cops.  This officer was not only the bane of tourists in Waikiki, but the kind of cop most other cops avoided. 

 

The outrageous ticket on his car was not something McGarrett chose to deal with normally, but today was an exception for several reasons.  Napali had crossed paths with Five-0 before and each time the sour patrolman had proved barely on the right side of civility and definitely unhappy about the state police.  Napali must have known the Mercury parked in the no parking zone belonged to McGarrett, but belligerently chose to ticket the head of Five-0 for some unknown reason.  Just to irritate probably.  It was working. 

 

Napali had pulled out his citation book when McGarrett stepped in, pleased that he was coming to the rescue.

 

“What seems to be the problem, Officer Napali?”

 

The cop, only slightly shorter than him, with wavy, dark hair, turned scathing brown eyes onto the Five-0 detective.  “Jaywalking.”

 

The most common method of crossing the narrow, small, mostly one-way streets in Waikiki.  No one ever was ticketed for such an inoffensive aberration.  Someday he would have to find out the background behind the legendary cop who was repeatedly passed over for promotion because of his attitude.  The only reason he was still on a beat in Waikiki was that he managed to clock up a lot of revenue for the city with all the tickets he wrote the unsuspecting tourists.  It was the business side of law enforcement that Steve hated, but reluctantly admitted existed.  Most officers were reminded that tourists were the necessary bread and butter of Hawaii and should be treated well while vacationing here.  Napali seemed to have missed those memos, and through the churlish attitude brought in enough proceeds for his superiors to look the other way about his approach.

 

“I think we can let them off with a warning,” Steve demanded in a quiet, stern tone.  He smiled at the couple and bid them to be on their way.  They thanked the Five-0 detective and quickly scurried down the sidewalk.

 

“They’re a blight on the Islands,” the shorter man nearly spat.

 

“They are part of the economy and it’s your job to protect them not harass them.”

 

“Military and tourists.  They’re ruining our land!”

 

Steve glanced back, expecting the simmering indignation on Napali’s face. He didn’t expect a political lecture or the intense resentment that qualified as bigotry.  For all haoles?  For tourists and service personnel?  For anyone who didn’t agree with him? For those who didn’t agree with his prejudices? Maybe that’s why he didn’t like Five-0.  Obviously, his sour, prejudiced attitude explained why he was still walking a beat after probably twenty years on the force.

 

“You’ve written enough tickets.”  He folded his parking ticket into the officer’s shirt pocket.

 

“If I issued it you pay --“

 

“I was investigating a crime and you didn’t bother to check the registration to see that the car was a Five-0 vehicle,” McGarrett broke in bluntly.  Tolerance was on a strained leash for the day and there was no room left for a surly public servant.  “See that it doesn’t happen again.”

 

“Yes, sir.”

 

McGarrett spun around and headed for the garage where the Mustang was parked.  Good thing Danno hadn’t used a meter the other night, Napali would have probably towed the car away.  At the garage, he questioned Keaka again and discovered nothing new. 

 

The night manager arrived during the conversation.  The young man said much the same as he had told Keaka on the phone.  Then he wondered when McGarrett would move the car.  Courtesy of Keaka, Five-0 detectives got free parking, but this was going on the second day and soon the owners would complain.  McGarrett promised to move the car, unnaturally angry at the demand, even though the relocation was his intension all along.  Taking the car made him feel like he was closing a window.  That Danno would not be coming down here and driving his precious convertible home.  No, he wouldn’t, and McGarrett recognized it as such a little thing, yet an emotional hurdle just the same.

 

The Mustang was just as the crime lab techs had left it, but it seemed disconcerting to see it sealed with police tape.  Again, he told himself the owner would be back to full health soon.  Not too long from now, Danno would be cruising around again, as if this awful event never happened.  He really did believe that.  Feeling uncomfortable driving the sports car belonging to his friend, he returned it to Danno’s apartment, promising, in a silent vow, the owner would be back  at almost any time.

 

 

*****

 

It was nearing dark when Chin and Duke arrived at the hospital, silently entering the room where McGarrett sat and watched his injured officer.  They were subdued and frustrated, mirroring the reactions McGarrett had bottled up all day.  Offering to stay and let Steve get some dinner, he refused, telling them to take a break and go home.  In a few hours he would meet them at the Rip Curl Room where they would find out why Danno was there and who he met.

 

Reluctantly McGarrett spent a last few moments again pleading with his inert friend to come back.  He was needed here, and things would not be the same without him.  The pleas were met with the stony immobility of the near-dead.  With a contained sigh, Steve left, trying to maintain the faith that his appeals were heard.  That the next time he walked through that door Danno would be awake and wondering when he could leave the hospital.

 

Dropping by Danno’s condo, Steve studied the few, but select photos in the living room and bedroom.  They represented good times in the life of his friend; beach scenes, friends on the Five-0 team and their families.  Several photos depicted Steve and Dan on the fixer-up boat Steve was always working on.  One with the little league team, one when Danno won a surfing competition.  There was a photo of he, Dan and Aunt Clara next to the Mustang overloaded with presents and a tree from her Christmas visit.  Removing from the frame a recent picture of Dan at a surfing event, he carefully placed it in his pocket.  He wondered if and when he should call Clara.  There was really nothing to report at this time.  And Danno would wake up soon, so there was no need to alarm Mrs. Williams.  Uncomfortable with the thin veneer of hope that supported such precarious reasoning, he left, closing out the personal ramifications as best he could.

 

In Waikiki, when he reached the Waverider, McGrath was with Chin and Duke.  They split up; Chin taking the waitresses, Duke taking the hula dancers, McGrath interviewing the hostesses and McGarrett speaking with the singers.  Assuming Williams was there for a social engagement, they would save time eliminating the wahine first. 

 

Duke was the one to find the girl they sought.  Her name was Loke Hapa.  She was a pretty Polynesian with long, silkily, dark hair, great figure and a winning smile.  She had met Dan a few weeks before when he was there questioning her about someone who worked in the hula show.  Steve saw that Duke made a note of that case.

 

“When was the last time you talked to Officer Williams,” McGarrett asked, his voice calm, but unmistakably assured his expression was no-nonsense.

 

“Why?  What’s going on?”

 

The questions surprised McGarrett.  Gossip around the hotels and clubs must have been going all day.  The coconut wireless must have circulated numerous variations of the truth by now.  It seemed odd Loke, who was personally involved with Williams did not know about the events.

 

“You didn’t hear about Dan Williams’ accident?”

 

“No.”

 

She was lying. It was subtle, and she wasn’t particularly good at it, he could tell.  No match for veteran cops.  The big puzzle was why?  Point blank, he asked her how she could have been ignorant of a sensational event that had happened here in the area of Waikiki where she worked, to someone she knew.  A crime that involved a state police officer.  Reports of the assault and the investigation were all over the news.

 

She claimed she had been too busy all day to watch TV.

 

Tersely, McGarrett explained how Dan had been there to see her the night before.  The next morning he was found injured on the roof of the Rainbow Grill.  She muttered sympathies, but there was no shock.  She already knew.  Why was it important she conceal that?  Again, confronting her with no measure of leniency, he asked why she was lying.

 

“I’m not!”

 

The phony affront didn’t impress him.  He moved in to nearly press against her, his height daunting -- probably more than a foot taller than the slight girl -- he drew on his intimidating presence and the anger inside to sizzle his accusations.  “You knew Officer Williams was hurt.  Maybe you knew last night.”

 

“No!  What are you trying to do?”

 

She backed as far as she could from him, pressing into a palm tree at the side of the stage. 

 

Chin moved to hem her in.  “I heard three people were seen on the second floor lanai of the Sunset Reef early this morning.  Maybe that was you and Danny Williams.  Maybe an old boyfriend showed up --“

 

“No!”

 

“And there was an argument --“

 

“I wasn’t there!”

 

McGarrett leaned over her.  “You’re protecting the man who attacked Williams and threw him onto the roof of the restaurant!”

 

“No!  I can prove it!  Ty, the barman saw me looking around for Danny!”  Emboldened by the alibi, she asserted more confidence and pushed away from the wall to stand defiantly facing the cop.  “Just before my last dance.  Around ten.  When I was finished and changed, I came out to the bar.  Danny was supposed to meet me here.”

 

“Time?”

 

“About eleven. He never showed.  Ask anyone!  I went home by myself!”

 

Grinding his teeth, McGarrett didn’t want to believe this alibi.  Unfortunately, his instincts read that this had the ring of truth.  Loke was lying about something, but not this.  “You didn’t think it was unusual that he didn’t wait?”

 

Lotsa guys wanna date, but there are plenty other girls around here every night.  Maybe he went home with someone else.”

 

“And you don’t care what happened to him?  Who hurt him?”  It was an unprofessional inquiry, but he couldn’t’ stop the accusation.  This girl was involved and he wanted to wring it out of her.

 

She shrugged, not very concerned.  “Too bad.  Danny seems like a nice guy, but I don’t really know him.  We never dated or anything.  He was meeting me after the show.  That’s it.  When he didn’t show I figured he got bored waiting.  Or maybe found someone else to take home.”

 

Suspicious, McGarrett grilled her more sternly than necessary.  He saw Duke drift away and start questioning the bartender, then some people in the show.  Maybe they would corroborate her story.  Maybe she had all of them lying for her.  Why?  He tried several angles hoping to crack her, but she stuck to her story.  The stage manager came and asked if she could come backstage and get ready for the show.  Having no reason to detain her, Steve allowed her to go. 

 

McGrath and Lukela joined McGarrett in the lobby of the hotel to compare notes.  All the club people who saw her last night backed Hapa’s story.  A few noted that Danny had been in last week to question them about two tourists who were assaulted in Waikiki.  Not usually a Five-0 case, but they happened to be guests of the Philippine Embassy. 

 

It was a minor case that was still open.  One that Williams had been assigned to solve about the time Steve asked for some help on the Assemblywoman Taylor blackmail.  Before the double murder in Waipahu.  As usual, the case load for the unit was heavy, but they had juggled several investigations at once before.  What had been the trigger to prompt someone to try and kill Danno?  Was it connected to any of these cases, or completely unrelated?  A random strike they may never solve or understand.

 

Lukela was assigned to shadow Hapa after her show.  McGrath agreed to keep investigating there at the hotel.  Chin was taking the names of suspicious people they had interviewed, and even the non-suspicious ones, to get background checks running on them overnight.  McGarrett hung out at the hula show; watching, studying all involved, observing those who interacted with Hapa.  After the show, the performers changed and went their separate ways.  Lukela was nowhere to be seen, but Steve knew he was invisibly attached to Loke.

 

After exiting the hotel it was late.  Steve’s body and mind were running low on energy.  It was time to go home, but of course, he could not do that.  Without giving it a second thought he drove to the only place it made sense for him to stay.

 

In the hospital parking lot, he leaned against his car for a moment taking in a few deep breaths.  For courage?  The task of entering the tomb-quiet hospital room sapped his strength and optimism every time he crossed the threshold.  Each time he prayed there would be a sign of life from his friend and each disappointment grated against his already frayed nerves.  The optimism was still there -- stubbornly refined with adamant resolve after the continual failure.  Only to himself would he admit to the personal toll it was taking -- the trying inner battle he waged to sustain the conviction that everything would work out.  It was nearly the second day -- just about twenty-four hours since they suspected Williams had been injured.  The first day of the investigation. With each visit his anxiety grew.  He would not give up, but it cost him more with each negative he endured.

 

Drawing in another breath, he stalked up to the hospital.  In his mind, he played over the slow progress they had made in the last day.  Not fast enough for him.  Five-0 could do better than this, should do better when trying to solve the attempted murder of one of their detectives!

 

Entering the hospital was an exercise in determined resolve.  No way he was willing to accept this as Williams’ future for the vast, uncounted days, week, months, until he gradually faded away.  No, Danno was a cop.  A friend.  Inside that inert body was a mind still working, struggling to get out.  But what could McGarrett do to help?

 

At the door, momentarily, his courage waned. 

 

Rolling with frustrated irritation, he barreled into the hospital room and kept up the momentum most of the way to the bed.  In the pale light of the open blinds, moonlight glowed through the window.  Observing the immobile form the anger and frustration peaked.  He had hoped . . . .

 

The tirade spurt out without volition.  The irritation of the situation dominated, canceling out every other emotion.  He started interrogating the witness with candid aggression.  What were you doing in Waikiki?  Did you see something you weren’t supposed to?  Who did you meet?  Why were you there alone?

 

It was the silence, the static, that tipped the bubbling feelings over the edge.  The bitter anguish flooded through the blistering wrath and carved the way for the pain and loss to open up.  Heavily dropping into a chair he rubbed his face, holding his head in his hands, forcing himself not to weep at the horrible impasse facing him.  The strain and fatigue caused his body to shake and his nerves to tremble inside.  Most of all his heart ached and there was no cure for the ache that could not be swept away.  There was so much to say, to talk about, and he missed the interaction he always engaged in with Williams.  Danno was his sounding board, advisor and support.  Now there was only blankness.

 

Gradually the awful agony came into tight control again.  Tenaciously he rebuilt his resolve.  Leaning heavily on core optimism, he pushed back the memories; the hopelessness, the stark void that was now his friend.  He could get past this.  He would fight to keep himself in control until this was over.  Inner strength revived, he stood and studied his friend.  Flinching at the disappointment threatening to weaken him when he saw no change in the invalid. 

 

Leaning against the wall, he stared out at the nightlights for a time.  Then he turned back, afraid he would see just what he was fighting against.  No change.  Danno’s face was placid and pale and unchanged. 

 

He had to stop torturing himself like this.  Every visit was an agony of disillusionment.  With every stopover he expected Dan to be awake, and every setback hit him harder than the time before.  The disenchantment changed nothing.  He would continue to come back frequently until Danno was awake.  There was just no other option, no matter how much it hurt.

 

A nurse popped her head in and gave him a smile.  She thought he was such a good friend to come here so much.  Perhaps he should read to the patient.  Some thought that helped coma victims.  When she left, McGarrett stood by the bed and growled out that Danno was not a vegetable.  He was not going to give up and act like Williams was never waking up. 

 

“You will come out of this, Danno.  It’s time.”  He shook the shoulder of the recumbent, unresponsive patient.  “Come on, Danno!”

 

He retreated back to the wall and waited, staring at his friend.  Energy waning, he had no more to say, nothing left inside for now.  Unable to even mutter aloha, he stalked out of the room.  He should return to the Palace and work, but he didn’t have the heart tonight. 

 

 

*****

 

Getting to bed late after a horrendous day and night started him off behind schedule later that morning.  He had no time to jog and very little time to do more than pop in at the hospital just to check.  No change.  He raced back to the Palace to find a confidential note left for him, slipped under the door of the office.  Assemblywoman Taylor wanted to meet with him secretly at 8:30AM at the banyan tree in back of the Palace.  Already ten minutes late for the impromptu rendezvous, Steve rushed out, trotting down the staircases.  He slowed his pace as he hit the steps outside. 

 

Assuming a measured stride, so as not to bring attention to the clandestine meeting, he circumnavigated the labyrinth tree trunks until he spotted her.  It was an excellent place for concealment between the Capitol and the Palace.

 

“Assemblywoman,” he nodded.

 

Her brown eyes narrowed.  “You’re late.”

 

Her reputation in the Assembly rooms of the State government matched the abrasive personality and appearance. Middle-aged, Mrs. Sally Taylor would have been pretty if not for the thin face’s creases that angled from by her nose in harsh furrows.  The look gave her narrow skull structure a severe appearance, accentuated by the hard frost in her unforgiving eyes.  She was not a person he would like in normal circumstances.  His position forced him to interact with her on business in her membership as a state legislator.  Now that she was the victim of a crime that she wanted kept confidential, she needed his help.

 

“Yours is not the only Five-0 case, Ms. Taylor.”

 

“It’s the most important one, Mr. McGarrett,” she hissed quietly, her tone as sharp as a blade.  “It should be your priority.”

 

Despite the grim reality of life, McGarrett wanted to laugh at the statement.  Ludicrous to think anything would be more important than finding the thug who injured Danno.  While her case was significant, it hardly took precedence over his friend.  Unfortunately, life went on outside the walls of Dan’s sterile hospital room.  Including this nasty business.

 

“I am discretely investigating your blackmail threats, but there is only so much I can do --“

 

“Please, McGarrett, don’t go over this again.”

 

“If you refuse to give me the names --“

 

“I will not have my friends harassed by policemen!”

 

Steve felt no sympathy for careless people whose lifestyles invited crime.  A state representative who involved herself with various affairs would garner no patience with him.  He sharply countered that if she wanted him to find out who was blackmailing her, she better tell him the truth.  Every affair, every boyfriend, every indiscretion or he could not help her.

 

“So far I have handled this myself,” he warned, deeming unnecessary to comment on Danno’s periphery involvement as a sounding board.  “At your request.  If you want me to do my job I will need a list of everyone you have been involved with and anyone who might know of those affairs.”

 

“If the public finds out who I’ve been with . . . .” her angry voice slowly lost passion and she quietly fumed, staring at him.  “Next year I’m up for reelection.”

 

Barely, he repressed a groan.  If the Governor hadn’t personally hounded him to secretly take this case, he would leave her to flounder in her own whirlpool of political riptide.  “Do you want the blackmail to stop or not?”  It was as simple as he could make it.  As much as he hated slimes who extorted money by using emotional weakness as a weapon, he hoped she would just let it drop.  He really did have much more vital issues on his mind.  An ultimatum was his last concession.  “If so, then let me do my job.”

 

“I’ll think about it.” She gave him a sneer.  “Your moralistic sensibilities will be pleased to hear I’m ending my extramarital relationships.  My husband and I have decided to give our marriage another serious try.  So after you solve this case, McGarrett, you won’t have to worry about these ugly threats anymore.”

 

She slipped away, through the tangled branches that made up the complex trunks of the tree.  For a moment, he stayed there, then made his way around the tree, scanning the parking lot and walking mall to see if anyone was observing the end of the clandestine meet.  No one was around.  He briskly returned to the Palace, sparing a few moments to think about the blackmail.  Mrs. Taylor would be surprised he didn’t worry about her or her dilemma much at all.  He had more important matters to worry about.  By the time he reached his office door he was back to pondering who had pushed Danno over the lanai railing.

 

 

*****

 

 

Almost the third day.  A good time for resurrections.  A time for ultimatums.  When McGarrett entered the room, he was consumed by steel resolve.  Pacing, he demanded Danno awaken.  Listed were reasons -- the love of life, of his islands, the meaningful living, the friends who waited for him.  Stretched by the honesty he transferred to the personal.  The attributes the younger detective held, the positive aspects he brought to Five-0.  Moving over to the window, McGarrett confessed how much he needed Williams; as a second-in-command, as a friend. 

 

He turned around, as if expecting a response.  Danno turned toward him.

 

A soft gasp released from his slack lips.  Wonder energized him and automatically carried him to bump into the bed, but momentarily he was not aware of even moving.  Astonishment -- pleasant, relieved shock replaced all other senses and he felt moisture in his eyes before he was jolted back to functioning.

 

“Danno.”  He laughed a little, flopping down on the bed and grasping onto his friend’s arm with both hands.  “Danno.  You’re awake.”  He steadied himself and allowed the stunned emotions to dissipate through a shell-shocked system.  “I -- I --  A shaky laugh escaped.  “How long have you been awake?”

 

Williams shook his head slightly.  “Not sure.” 

 

It was a hoarse croak and Steve realized his reaction was probably a little overwhelming for the barely conscious patient.  He retrieved some water and let Danno sip some.  He sat there drinking in his own sustaining energy -- assessing his friend, holding back the enthusiasm and curiosity -- allowing Williams to take things slow.

 

“You’ve been out for over two days, Danno.  No need to rush things,” he advised contrary to his own feelings.  “Just take it slow.  We’ve been busy trying to figure out what happened.  We’ve pieced together a few things, but you’ll be able to fill in the rest now.”  On the blank look he received, he fell back on his original good intentions of taking everything gradually.  Danno probably hurt and was confused and tired.  Not the time to be expecting him to jump into the investigation.  “Don’t worry.  You’ll catch up.  No rush.  How are you feeling?”

 

“Sore.”

 

“Yeah.  That’s what happens when you fall off a building.”

 

Williams’ eyebrows raised.  “I fell off a building?”

 

The disoriented and surprised reaction unsettled McGarrett.  He sidetracked from his steamroller energy and reminded himself Danno had suffered a serious concussion.  He might be fuzzy and sluggish about details.  He vowed to be patient and measured in his coaching.

 

“Don’t worry, you’ll be fine.  You have a concussion and a broken arm.  A little time and relaxation and you’ll be fine, Danno.” 

 

Speaking aloud helped settle his own concerns.  Talking, interacting with his friend, seeing him conscious and responding was the greatest relief and balm for his coiled nerves.  The past few days left their residual imprint of anguish that receded quickly with the reawakening of Williams.  A niggling cloud of lingering anxiety hovered.  Danno couldn’t remember the accident.  Maybe it would take a little time . . . . and his skin washed cold at the memory of the last time Williams experienced a serious head trauma. 

 

“What happened, Danno?  Don’t you remember being at the Reef?”  He was pushing.  He could hear it in his stressed tone, in the voice that was more strident than it should have been for a recovering invalid.  Danno wasn’t a suspect and he tried to erase the urgent, grilling tone. “You fell off a lanai.”  Slowing his words, relaxing, he tried again in a less interrogative manner.  “You don’t remember that?  Why were you in Waikiki?”

 

”I don’t know.”

 

Fighting down a chill, McGarrett softly asked, “What do you remember?”

 

“Nothing.”

 

His response croaked out of a tight, dry throat.  “You mean you don’t recall being injured at all?”

 

A flicker of alarm grew in Williams’ blue eyes. 

 

McGarrett growled out the question that needed a reply.  “What do you remember?” 

 

“Nothing,” the younger detective responded in a fretful whisper.  “I don’t remember anything.”  His voice trembled.  “I don’t know you.  I don’t know who I am.”

 

Horrified, McGarrett shook his head in denial.  Mirrored in his friend’s expressions were the escalating panic and despair.  Barely, Steve clamped down on the rising fear.  This had happened before.  Danno had suffered from provisional amnesia before.  Not to this extent, but this was only temporary.  It would be over soon.

 

“You’ve got to remember something!”

 

“No.  I don’t.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“I don’t remember!”

 

“It’s all right,” Steve calmed, reclaiming tight control over his rattled nerves.  He quietly explained it had occurred before when Danno had received a concussion.  “You’ll be all right,” he promised adamantly, demanding the faith be accepted and believed.

 

The panic in Williams’ face did not subside with the lecture.

 

“It will be all right,” McGarrett insisted, gripping tighter onto Dan’s arm.  “You’ve been through this before.”

 

“That’s supposed to make me feel better?  I have bouts of losing my identity?”

 

“That’s not what I meant.  You’ve been injured before.  You’re a cop.  It happens.”  Something triggered in Williams’ readable expression and McGarrett backed up.  “You didn’t realize you’ve been hurt before?”

 

“No.  I can’t remember!  I’m a cop?”

 

Only nodding, McGarrett found he could not vocally respond.  Obviously, the amnesia was sweeping, not just about the assault or about his name.  His identity -- everything that Danno was -- swept away by a violent attack?  Steve didn’t want to believe it.  But not remembering he was a Five-0 cop -- that floored the already shaken boss, and he muttered his own disbelief.

 

Exasperated, the patient reminded that he couldn’t remember anything.  It was not entirely sinking in, Steve noted without intellectual capacity or acceptance.  The extent of the sweeping disaster was not yet comprehended by either of them.  Staving off his own resurging panic, he gripped onto his police instincts to save them both.  Cover the facts.  Build on what you know.  This was only temporary.  Something he would relate would jog Danno’s memory and everything would be back to normal again.

 

Taking control of his voice and feelings, knowing it was his responsibility to return fragmented memories to his friend, he started with a patient explanation.  “You’re a detective with Hawaii Five-0.”

 

Hawaii?  That’s a nice place, right?”

 

The alarm blipped high again, but McGarrett didn’t allow it to detract him from his mission, didn’t let it touch his face.  Rigidly, his expression, his tone, his despair, were tightly in check.  No matter what Danno said or did, he could not be sidetracked.

 

“It’s a wonderful paradise.  You’re part of the state police unit.  You’re my second-in-command.  Ring any bells?”

 

“No.”

 

Grinding his teeth at the void, he determined to fight this invisible but decimating enemy inside Danno’s head.  The ramifications weren’t comprehended completely, and he knew his mind was boggled in a mire of shock.  Didn’t Danno understand what that meant?  Second-in-command of Five-0 had been awarded to the younger officer after much deliberation.  After knowing Williams was a great cop.  A solid ally.  A protégé that would back him -- had backed him -- no matter what.  Even when the world turned against him, Danno had been there as a constant support. 

 

“Danno is my name?”

 

“Nickname.  Your name is Dan Williams.”  Still no reaction. 

 

“And you?”

 

The question chilled him again.  “Steve McGarrett.” Nothing.  Maybe he needed to rely on more than cold facts.  Perhaps a thin element of a personal touch would help. Cracking through the controlling veneer would cost him, though, and he wasn’t sure if he could hold in his vulnerable emotions to reveal intimate knowledge. “You’re my closest friend.” 

 

This got a reaction, and Williams’ eyes focused more intently on him.  “We’re friends.  We spend time together?”

 

Encouraged, Steve pushed forward, a little more willing to open up.  “Yeah.  Mostly at the office,” he ruefully resigned.

 

He revealed details about the state police unit, the Palace, the work they did, the consuming hours of Five-0.  Nothing clicked.  He related that off the job they played tennis, sailed.  Dan surfed.  They jogged together sometimes in the mornings.  Steve was trying to get him interested in golf.  There was so much more substance to their lives, but he was at a loss to summarize it in a capsule, for someone who was the integral part of the unity.

 

“Am I any good at all that stuff?”

 

“As a cop, you’re the best.  You’re a good surfer and tennis player.  Golf, not yet, but neither am I.  Never enough time to practice.” 

 

This affected him and he seemed puzzled.

 

Continuing, Steve assured, “But you’re trying.  Like everything else you do, you give it one hundred percent.”

 

The younger man pondered the information.  “So I’m a busy cop.  How can I be a good one?”

 

The reiteration was tight and on the edge of impatience.  “You’re the best.”

 

“I got thrown off a building and I don’t remember it.”

 

It was a weird moment.  So like Danno.  The doubt.  The self-questioning.  Yet typical.  But Danno didn’t even realize it.  Nonetheless, it heartened him.  The Williams he knew was still there, just barely beyond reach.  Interestingly, the characteristic doubt from his friend brought Steve’s own convictions back on line.  He knew where they were now.  Danno, underneath the bandages on the side of the head and cast arm, below all the new emotional and physical barrier-layers resulting from the injury, was still the same.  If he could break down that wall of memory-block he would have Danno back.

 

“You’re the best cop I know.”  The certainty and fervor were absolute. 

 

Williams grinned slightly.  “You don’t like people disagreeing with you.”

 

“Not when I’m right.”

 

Chuckling, Dan sobered quickly.  “Do I argue with you much?”

 

“No, but when you do, you’re never shy about debating a case or letting me know what you think.” 

 

Groaning, he rubbed at his forehead.  “Why can’t I remember?”

 

“You will,” McGarrett promised confidently. 

 

Staring at him, Williams finally gave a shake of his head.  “I wish I could believe you.”

 

“You better.”  He wasn’t sure if it was a dare or a threat or both. 

 

Williams broke the gaze and looked out the window.  “So what case was I working on when I was hurt?”

 

“We’re not sure.”

 

Looking back, he assessed him questioningly.  “You don’t like the uncertainty.”

 

Good, Danno was analyzing, thinking like a cop -- questioning, putting facts together.  It was a comfort, but still disconcerting that this favored friend was seeing him as a stranger. 

 

“No,” he admitted.  “I don’t like it when one of my men is hurt.  I don’t like attacks against cops.”

 

Williams asked about the other officers and McGarrett filled in some background on Chin Ho and the Kelly family.  About Duke and the Lukela’s.  He mentioned some of the other detectives; Kono and Ben and officers Dan worked with in HPD.  Nothing sounded familiar.  McGarrett refused to be daunted.  Not even when he noted Williams’ attitude subtly shift from confusion to something deeper and more troublesome.

 

“If you don’t know who attacked me, then they must still be out there.  Am I in danger?”

 

Fear.  Not a reaction he had seen often in Danno.  It almost unnerved him, but he snagged onto his concrete resolve.  “I’ve got guards in the corridor.  You’re protected, Danno.”

 

He shook his head, his face as sad and dejected as his voice.  “I am not Danno.  I am not Dan Williams.  I am a blank.”

 

Barely, Steve retained his temper.  “You are Dan Williams.”  The clipped statement was punched out from a set jaw.  “It won’t be long until you remember that.”

 

“You don’t know that.”

 

“This amnesia is temporary,” Steve countered sternly.  “You don’t remember a lot.  Okay.  But the first thing you’re going to know starting now is that I do not give up.”  The enunciated, brusque words made the subject’s eyes widen.  They were fighting to get Danno back.  He would do whatever it took.  His friend had to understand that.   “And I will never give up on you.”

 

As easy to read as he always had been, McGarrett released a sigh of relief when he saw Williams’ tension ease, his eyes take on a hint of his old humor and courage.  “I believe you.”  His scrutiny was intense.  “I’ve leaned on you before, haven’t I?”

 

The unassuming question humbled him.  It ached his heart to think so many instances that were the fabric of their past, their working partnership, might never be remembered by his friend.  But he would never forget them, and he would do everything possible to get Dan to recollect them.

 

“Yes.  And I’ve leaned on you many times, aikane.”

 

Aikane?”

 

“Hawaiian for friend.”

 

Dan mulled over the word.  Aikane.”  He nodded.  “There’s so much I’m missing.  I want to remember,” he admitted poignantly. 

 

“You will.  Believe me.”

 

Again, Dan nodded, but the conviction didn’t reflect in his bewildered expression.  The arrival of the nurse precluded any further interrogation, and McGarrett was chided for not letting her know that Williams was awake.  A doctor and another nurse were summoned and Steve was pushed into the background, and then ejected from the room while the medics examined the patient.

 

The doctor emerged after a short time and assured McGarrett the patient was recovering well.  He seemed oriented and without additional mental or physical problems except for the amnesia.  Williams would be kept another night for observation, but should be well enough to recover at home after that, with psychiatric evaluations to follow, of course.

 

Knowing better, but wanting to cover all angles, he asked how long the amnesia might last.  The doctor was expectedly vague, reminding that Dan’s brain had been battered and obviously affected.  Due to the deep coma, the injury, it was impossible to predict if the amnesia would last a day or a lifetime. 

 

Silently promising he would make sure it did not last long, McGarrett returned to the patient’s room.  Danno glanced up at his entrance and Steve was taken aback at the blank stare he received.  Dan’s non-reaction.   Normally, under these conditions, when Steve arrived, Danno was always cheered, always brightened.  It was such a little thing, but it wrenched his heart to know that now Danno didn’t acknowledge him anymore than he would a complete stranger.  None of his lecturing and explanations meant anything.  It was all still a blank wall for Danno.

 

Proving things were not as bleak as he feared, Danno assured, with a hint of humor, “You look like you’re afraid I’ve forgotten you already.  I haven’t.  Steve McGarrett.”  Spoken with impersonal non-recognition. 

 

Stepping to the chair, he tightly gripped onto the backrest.  Steeled against the disappointment, he countered levelly, “The doc said you can be released tomorrow.”

 

This concerned him.  “Where will I go?”

 

“Home.”

 

He nodded, accepting it with faith, but no interest penetrated. 

 

“I’ll be there.”

 

“Thanks.”  A polite courtesy to a visitor.  He turned to look out the window. 

 

“Let’s go over that last night again, Danno.”

 

“Do you mind if I rest?” he asked, not looking back.

 

Worn out, more than physically.  Washed out. 

 

“I’ve been asleep for days, but I’m really tired.”

 

“Sure.  “I’ll come back later.”

 

“Okay.”

 

Thrilled his friend was conscious and well -- relatively -- the alteration in their routine was still daunting.  Danno was back, prayers were answered, but in such a distorted way.  With not much more settled than when he came here, Steve fumed all the way to his car.  He was angry at the situation, frustrated that this was not what he expected.  Worried that it might be a long time until his friend returned to normal.

 

 

*****

 

“It’s a nice day.”

 

McGarrett nodded as he turned onto the shady, narrow, two-lane, old residential area of Kalakaua Avenue.  “Most in Hawaii are just like this.”

 

A post-card idyllic scene was a good omen, he thought, for Danno’s first day out of the hospital.  The recoveree, armed with antibiotics and advice from his psychiatrist, emerged into a typically perfect Hawaiian morning.  The sun was warm and bright, the air humid and warm, the ocean a glittering blue dancing along the sands of nearby Waikiki.

 

Windows rolled down in the Mercury, McGarrett navigated toward Williams’ condo.  The strategy was simple: smother him with the familiar, the commonplace, and something had to click.  All but crossing his fingers, he started at the most basic first step.

 

The tall white building, Danno’s home, was not recognized.  Not allowing the set-back to deter him, they entered the garage.  Neither the black LTD nor the white Mustang triggered a memory.  That was discouraging, Steve admitted, but did not let it daunt his confidence.

 

Standing aside, he allowed Dan to slowly move around the apartment on his own, at his own speed.  He picked up objects, studied items, checked titles of the books.  After perusing the fridge, he stepped out onto the lanai and watched the surf for a while in silence.  Steve trailed him into the bedroom where he examined trophies and pictures.  He picked up a framed photo.

 

“Who’s this?”

 

Before he reached the hospital that morning, Steve had promised himself he would handle all this objectively, not personally.  This was an investigation.  They were uncovering clues to the most important mystery yet.  The procedure needed to be dispassionate and clinical.  There was no room for overt emotion, no time for despair.  The resolve nearly cracked at this first, intimidating inquiry, but McGarrett maintained his objective.

 

“That’s your Aunt Clara.  She lives on the mainland.”

 

“Any other relatives?”

 

“No.  You were an only child.  Raised by your uncle after your parents were killed.”

 

Dan stopped at an old black and white photo and Steve explained that was Dan as a child and his parents. Only after Dan asked for more information did he give it.  He kept testing, hoping sparks would ignite some recognition.  Nothing.  There was an old black and white picture of a young Dan, standing next to an older man, both holding surfboards. 

 

“That was your Uncle Jim.”

 

Dan stopped at a photo of Clara, he and McGarrett from Christmas.  Again, Steve waited, but no memory returned.  Dan asked about the circumstances behind the picture and Steve briefly related the last Christmas when Clara had visited the islands.  He found himself reluctant to go into much detail.  The more he explained to the blank-expressioned Williams, the more sense of loss he experienced.  No memories were returning.

 

“Was I a lonely person?”

 

“No,” McGarrett refuted with a scoff.  “You are popular, friendly.  Can’t you tell by the pictures?  The surfing awards, the sharp-shooting trophies, the baseball certificates?”

 

“Dan Williams was busy.  Active.  But no close family.  I’m not married.”

 

“You are well liked and have lots of friends.”

 

“Then I’m a private person, too.”

 

The intriguing speculation gave McGarrett pause from his rising aggravation.  This was a piece of insight that was sharp.  An echo of the Detective Williams he knew.  He urged his friend to continue with the deductions.

 

Touring the condo again, Dan conjectured Williams (referring to himself in third person past tense -- grating on Steve’s nerves) was neat, organized, athletic.  He enjoyed the water and the natural beauty of the islands -- reflected in the many pictures of beaches, volcanoes and local scenes.  The Oriental screens and few native and Japanese art pieces denoted an Asian/Polynesian influence, again in keeping with Hawaiian culture.  But he did not see someone who belonged to anything.

 

McGarrett again assured him that the Five-0 unit was his ohana. 

 

“What?”

 

“Family.”

 

He had many friends and had a good and fulfilling life, Steve asserted.  Williams accepted the assessment silently.

 

Returning to the bedroom, Dan scanned the pictures again.  There were several with the Five-0 group and McGarrett identified them all, delved a little more into the interpersonal relationships.  Dan coached some of the Kelly kids in baseball.  He surfed with Duke’s kids occasionally.  When possible he traveled to see his aunt.  Dan deduced he must have been a little bit star struck because he had an autographed photo of former Miss Hawaii and TV star Kiki Chee.

 

“Not one of your triumphs,” McGarrett smirked. 

 

“Usually I’m successful with girls?”

 

“Usually.”

 

The blanks were still apparent, but Williams was evaluating, inferring, thinking like a detective.  The methods reinforced Steve’s beliefs that Dan was a natural cop.  It enhanced his hope that the real Dan Williams was just temporarily lost.  Familiar things, people and actions would help return those lost memories.

 

“You’re a member of the King Kamehameha Club down the beach.  You want to drop in?  See if it stirs any memories?”

 

Dan slumped into the sofa, carefully holding onto his injured arm.  “No thanks.”

 

“What about --“

 

“Look -- uh -- Steve -- I’d like to give it a rest.”

 

Ignoring that his name was not familiar, was foreign and awkward to his friend, Steve tried to curb his impatience.  Dan was just released from the hospital.  He needed to take it easy.  Again, Steve reminded himself that this would not be easy for either of them.

 

“Sure.  I’ll let you get some sleep.  I’ll be back for dinner tonight --“

 

“No, please, I can manage.  There’s stuff in the fridge.”

 

“Danno --“

 

“Look, I know you’re trying to help, but I need space right now.”

 

It was logical, something he should have foreseen, but still McGarrett felt the sting of the rejection.  It was simply accepted that any time one of the officers on his team was injured, the others gathered around for support.  The rules had to be rewritten temporarily, and he didn’t like it at all.  Hardly able to argue about it, he reluctantly acknowledged it.

 

“Sure.”

 

“I’ll call you.  I’m sure I’ll have more questions.”

 

Trying not to feel excluded, like he was being pushed away, McGarrett wrote down his phone number at the office and at home.  He pledged availability day or night.  Dan thanked him and promised to call the next day.  It was a polite, but firm brush off.

 

As McGarrett walked the open corridor to the elevator, he pushed back the depression that threatened to cloud his optimism.  It was going to take time.  This was not a personal rejection because there was no special link between them on Danno’s side.  A few days before their relationship that had been the anchor in their lives, was now, to Williams, only an aloof connection that meant nothing.

 

 

*****

 

To counter his irritation at the morning’s disappointment, Steve plunged into trying to solve the puzzle of the assault.  Loke Hapa had proved innocent in all her dealings so far.  Still being tailed, she worked late, slept late, hung out with people from the club, and shopped at the International Marketplace, which was just down the block from her Kuhio apartment.

 

Chin had run the employees of the Sunset Reef Hotel, the Rainbow Grill, and the Waverider Hotel through HPD records.  The usual crop of average law-breakers surfaced, but nothing serious and nothing connected with Five-0 in recent years.  Only two had been arrested by Five-0 in the past and that was going back more than two years.  Kelly was looking closer at those individuals.  Of his own burglary case, he had pushed that off to some HPD detectives.

 

As for the case of the Filipino tourists that Dan originally went to the Waverider about, there seemed no connection.  Lukela was handling that, while still trying to solve the double murder crimes.  He had help from the military police and from HPD, so at least the state police were moving forward on projects even if at a slow and distracted rate.

 

“You think maybe Danno got too close to the killer and was attacked because of that?”  Obviously Lukela thought it was far-fetched idea.

 

“It’s possible.  We can’t rule out anything yet.”

 

“It could be someone who wanted to get even,” Chin suggested.  Returning revenge -- a theme they had dealt with before.  “We got lots of enemies out there.”

 

“It could be,” Steve sighed, “Or it could be any number of other things.”

 

For the next few days, McGarrett plunged headlong into Williams’ misadventure.  His only major distraction was his other priority crime.  He managed to meet once more with Assemblywoman Taylor to encourage her to give him more help.  She was still stalling, yet always pressuring him to come up with miracles with little help from her scant information.

 

 

*****

 

If McGarrett had his way, he would be pounding on the locked doors of Williams’ memory day and night.  One of many disturbing aspect of the amnesia was that Dan did not have the selfless motivation of old.  He was not inclined to spend all his time and energy solving this problem.  Which McGarrett could not fathom, and thus became more frustrated at the situation.  Steve had called him twice and both times Williams assured he had no need for help.  He also requested the police guard at his apartment be removed.  That request was refused.  There was still the possibility of danger out there and the sentry would stay. 

 

Tuesday night McGarrett showed up unannounced with Chinese food.  Williams politely accepted the spontaneous dinner, conversationally informing Steve he had been studying the books in his library and the records in his collection.  No memories returned with the activities. 

 

Today had been an appointment with the psychiatrist.  Williams calmly related the doctor was unsure if the amnesia would ever clear away.  He had coached the injured cop to start thinking about building a new life.

 

“Psyche mumbo-jumbo, Danno,” he countered resolutely.  “Your memory will come back.”

 

“Maybe.”

 

Anxious to retrieve any stray recollection, Steve pushed as far and as rough as possible, urging Dan to reach, to grasp onto the past.  Apparently driving too hard, Dan soon tired and asked for more time before discussing his old life.  McGarrett suggested he come to the Palace and meet with the staff.  Williams was not interested in facing his old friends again.  Steve pushed harder.  The situation was overwhelmingly frustrating for McGarrett and Williams.  At the end of the evening, he requested McGarrett not come back for several days. 

 

Splintered with anxious motivation to knock Williams back to normal, McGarrett knew a part of his friend was indeed a stranger.  If he shoved too fast, too rigid, too relentless, he might push Danno away.  Reluctantly, he agreed to the request.

 

With more than enough work to accomplish at Five-0, McGarrett returned to the Palace and pursued the leads on Dan’s attack.  There were a few witnesses that thought they saw Dan with the nightclub dancer Loke Hapa that night. 

 

From the Sunset Reef, on the second floor lanai overlooking the roof of the Rainbow Grill, lab techs had turned up smears of blood on the wall and the railing.  The blood matched Williams’.  The evidence inched them forward.  Apparently, Danno was attacked, possibly knocked out, then thrown over the railing.  Fingerprints were taken at the scene, but they may never help considering all the workers and tourists who must have touched the metal.

 

While McGarrett adopted the case as his personal target, new crimes requiring Five-0’s attention came in like the morning tide.  Reluctantly he assigned Chin and Duke to cover the two hottest investigations -- a bank robbery and what looked like the second in a serial robbery spree of high-end jewelry stores.  Simultaneously, both detectives were still working other cases, but occasionally wedged in a few minutes to make a little more progress on Williams’ case.  It was irritating to be stretched so thin and devote much valuable time on lesser crimes, but Steve had to balance his duty to the people of Hawaii, as well as his personal motivations to help Danno.  So two-thirds of his work force could only fleetingly track the attacker.  That meant only he would be concentrating almost entirely on Williams’ assault.   

 

One slim almost-lead that McGarrett wanted to pursue;   the most promising eyewitness account from the two teenage girls at the Waikiki Surf.  They thought three people were fighting on the lanai of the Sunset Reef that fateful night.  Unfortunately, the family had moved on to another island and he was forced to assign others to track them down. 

 

*****

 

 

Afternoon sun brought baking heat into the office in the corner of the Palace.   The detectives sat around the desk in shirt sleeves and loosened ties.  While they were all gathered together, McGarrett had Kelly and Lukela reviewing their recent efforts on the Williams’ investigation.  File folders crowded the desktop and some papers were piled on the floor for quick reference. 

 

“Any more progress on the ex-cons working at the hotel?  Did they have a grudge against Danno?”

 

“Not as far as I can find,” Kelly sighed.  “Only one was working nights; that was in maintenance.  Claims he never saw Danny.  We don’t have that many employees even admitting to seeing him, let alone talking to him or being with him.”

 

It was over a week since Williams’ attack and they had no case built, no suspect, no clue that advanced the inquiry.  The rough eight days had been helped enormously by the stalwart allegiance of Chin and Duke.  As best they could they supported him, helped so he could bounce ideas around.  Mostly it was their emotional support, the quiet courage that meant so much to him, when he was dejected about Dan’s amnesia.  The officers provided the necessary contact Steve needed when a major part of his world was out of balance.

 

A knock at the door stopped the discussion and Duke moved to open it.  All were surprised when Williams walked in.  The bandages from the head were removed, and the sling was gone.  Most of the color had returned to his skin tone and he seemed healthy.

 

McGarrett, smiling, moved to greet him.  The younger detective had refused to come here despite McGarrett’s constant urgings.  Now, on his own, he came unexpectedly and McGarrett felt a surge of hope.

 

“Danno!”  He took his friend by the right arm, still careful of Dan’s injuries.  “What prompted the visit -- have you remembered . . . . .” 

 

The truth that there was no miraculous memory return filtered in as he studied the apprehensive expression on his friend’s face.  The look he received sent chill waves through his system.  Not the expression of a friend.  The empty look of a stranger.

 

“I wanted to come and see where Dan Williams worked.  You thought it would be important.”

 

Ignoring the disconcerting habit of still using third-person references, McGarrett performed the introductions to Kelly and Lukela.  Williams rambled around the office inspecting items, asking questions.  Not with the intensity of the driven -- the obsessively curious -- but with the mild interest of someone just absorbing it all.

 

McGarrett wondered what happened to his HPD escort, and Williams mentioned he was downstairs in the car.  But, after today he was not going to accept any more guards.

 

“We’ll see about that.”

 

Williams grimaced, but did not argue.

 

Chin and Duke exchanged silent, worried glances with McGarrett, but to Williams they were encouraging and polite, never letting slip the anxiety of the non-recognition.

 

“Here, you might find this interesting,” Lukela offered, showing him a file page.  “I’ve been working on the homicides up at Waipahu.  You found out the wife had been married before to a Marine.  You left a note on my desk on Thursday night.  Do you remember where you found out about the soldier?  You didn’t mention it in the note.”

 

Williams scanned the paper.  “No.  I don’t remember that.”  His lips curled at the crime scene photos.  “These people were murdered viciously.  Knife wounds,” he enumerated with disgust.  “Two people -- they look like they were just sitting watching TV.”  Mesmerized, he ticked off deductions as he studied various shots. “Unsuspecting.  Look, the man was killed first -- you can tell by the blood splatter patterns between the chairs.  So there would be less of a struggle.  The woman, she didn’t even get out of her chair.  Unnecessary viciousness.  Personal.  And there’s the TV and record player and the woman is wearing her jewelry.  Not a robbery.  A crime of passion.”  He shook his head and dropped the pictures on the desk.

 

“Yes,” McGarrett seized on the assessment with excitement.  “What else do you remember, Danno?”

 

“I don’t know.”  He shook his head and gave the boss a look of repugnance.  “Why would I want to remember something like this?”  He backed away.  “This is horrible.”

 

“It’s a terrible crime, yes,” McGarrett admitted tightly.  “But you’re a cop.  You find the animals that do this kind of monstrous act and you put them away.”

 

“Maybe Dan Williams was like that, but not me.  I don’t want any part of that ugliness.  I don’t want to be a cop!”

 

A little unsteadily he rushed from the room.  McGarrett snapped out some orders for his men to carry on.  Then he raced after his friend, catching him on the landing outside the Five-0 offices.  Gently he steered the younger man to the end of the hall where beautiful etched glass windows ornamented the doors.  He opened the doors and walked them out to the lanai overlooking the makai side of the Palace.  Lawns, trees, the bandstand spread out before them.  Beyond was the courthouse, King Kamehameha’s statue, the busy streets, and past those, the ocean. 

 

Slowly they walked, gaining perspective from the scenery, from the fresh air and silence.  Steve didn’t want to attack Danno’s abrupt and thoughtless impulses.  Danno was not himself.  He didn’t know what he was saying.  There was no way he could appreciate how wounding those cuttingly thoughtless remarks had been.  Danno could not mean he rejected being a cop!  Danno was a Five-0 officer!  Nothing was going to change that!  Steve would not allow it!

 

There had been wounds leveled before, most notably when Danno had resigned several years ago.  That had sliced McGarrett right to the core, but he had won in the end.  His determined resolve had disentangled the problem and brought Danno back to the fold.  Restored Dan’s faith in himself as a cop and as a person.  He could do it again, even without Dan’s cooperation.

 

“Being a cop is all you ever wanted to be.  That’s something we share.  Justice.  We fight for justice and protection of the innocent.”

 

Cradling his injured arm, Dan leaned against a pillar and stared out at the traffic on King Street.  “That sounds noble.”

 

“It is.  It’s your nature.”

 

“I’m no hero.  I can tell by the way I felt when I saw those pictures.”

 

Instantly flashing in his mind were various experiences they shared:  Danno putting his life on the line for him. The countless times he had been there to help Steve through personal and professional crises. 

 

“I can prove you wrong a dozen times over,” he replied stiffly.  “I could spend the rest of the day

relating instances when you’ve saved my life.  Times when you’ve made a difference for many others.”

 

Considering it important to settle the record, he listed a few of the incidents that stood out:  The younger detective sticking by him, comforting him, when his nephew died.  Dan wounded, fighting to finish his job and take out a sniper in a bunker on the side of Diamond Head.  The counterfeiting frame by Wo Fat.  The continual support when Steve had been framed for murder by Vashon.  The times when Williams had tempered him -- tried to keep him in check when he made impulsive or intemperate decisions. Like the times he threw himself into danger -- wanting to trade himself as a hostage -- Danno was there to fight McGarrett’s inclination for heroics.  He related the event when Dan organized bail earlier that year when Steve was accused of killing his girlfriend.  The daring when Danno was the first one into a room to save him when taken hostage by Vashon.  There were too many other brave moments to count or relate right now.  Agonizingly, it poignantly reminded him how much he would be losing if Danno did not remember his former life. 

 

“The bottom line is that you are a cop,” he concluded with daunting conviction.  “If you weren’t repelled by the violence and death and pain you wouldn’t be human.  Your compassion, your sensitivity are part of what makes you the best cop I know.”

 

“You told me that before.”

 

“It’s the truth.”

 

Williams surrendered a slight grin.  “And you don’t like to be contradicted.”

 

“No.”

 

“Then I’ll take your word for it.”

 

Satisfied at that small victory, Steve suggested they tour the rest of the Palace.  Gamely, Dan agreed, and they reentered the building.  They went through the offices, chatting briefly with staff members.  They went down to the holding cells on the first floor.  Then hiked down the shining koa wood steps to the labs in the basement.  Williams tired after the excursion, so they returned to the ground level and went out to sit on the back steps.  Dan stared at the large banyan tree.  Steve patiently allowed him to renew his energy and ponder all that they had seen that busy afternoon.

 

“This isn’t working,” Dan finally told him, not looking in his direction.

 

“It will.  Give it time.”

 

“You don’t give up.”

 

“No.  Never.”

 

“I don’t remember any of this.  I know things -- like the history of Hawaii, and Mozart’s repertoire, or why the sky is blue.  But there’s nothing personal.  Nothing about who I am or what I did or anything that connects me to anything!”

 

‘You don’t remember me!’ he wanted to snap back, annoyed and offended, but instead determinedly replied, “It will come in time, Danno.  I know it will.”

 

“What if it doesn’t?”

 

“It will.”

 

Shaking his head, he stared at McGarrett with exasperation.  “The doctor said it’s possible I may never recover my memory.  You don’t want to admit it.”

 

“Your memory will come back.”  It was a bald denial of the accusation.  He would not recognize an attack on his absolute faith.  He could not conceive of a life without Danno completely back and whole.  No, he would not accept anything less.  “I know it will.”

 

“Are you always this stubborn?”

 

“Always.”

 

“Well, at least I have the sense to be on your side.” 

 

“There’s never been anything wrong with your good taste.”

 

After the rapid-fire exchange there was a strained moment of silence when they stared at each other with unflinching stubbornness.  The intensity was broken with a typical Williams wry grin and he looked away to study the grounds.  He suggested they walk again and McGarrett matched his slow pace as they toured the big lawns, strolled past the bandstand and finally stopped under the giant monkey-pod tree.  Dan sat on the bench beneath the broad, green boughs, and McGarrett paced.

 

Dan finally stated, “I’m serious about the guards.  I don’t want to be hovered over.  I’m not a prisoner.”

 

McGarrett felt warmed by the opposition.  So typical. Danno was always so independent and fiercely stubborn about taking care of himself.  One of many elements they had in common.  “We’ll see,” he countered, not wanting to argue, but certainly not willing to let his friend go unprotected.  Williams had been hurt once, and through some miracle, his life spared.  He would not waste that second chance, or unnecessarily risk that precious life.

 

Unenthusiastically, the younger man wondered, “So what’s next?”

 

“We’re going to go talk to your ohana,” was his impulsive decision.  “Family,” he reminded at the questioning look. 

 

“Yeah, I remember my Hawaiian,” he assured off-handedly, but seemed to recoil at the plan.  “Not today.  All of this has been too much.  I’m tired.”

 

‘You can remember Hawaiian, but you can’t remember me?’ Steve wanted to lash back. 

 

 

He also yearned to fight against Williams’ uncharacteristic hesitation  -- fear?  Instead, McGarrett agreed to schedule a meet with Danno’s adopted island family.  Maybe for the weekend?  He also volunteered to call Aunt Clara, but Dan wanted to do that himself.  Again, he felt the sense that Dan was pulling away, struggling to be free of his influence.  Was he coming on too strong?  Was he too tough on Danno?  Probably yes to both, but he couldn’t help himself.  He had to keep trying to reach his friend, even if Dan did not comprehend the importance of connecting again.

 

A hui hou.”

 

McGarrett nodded.  Until next time.  Well, that was better than a cold good-bye.  “Aloha, Danno.”

 

 

*****

 

Cruising along Kalakaua Avenue, Steve almost took the path leading to Williams’ apartment out of habit.  So preoccupied with his thoughts, he veered to connect with Diamond Head Road only at the last moment.  Assemblywoman Taylor’s stubborn resistance to reason was certainly distracting his concentration, but honestly he had to admit it only a partial diversion.  Going through the day-to-day cases at Five-0 without Williams was weighing heavily on his attention.  Working without his main right-hand-man was like running a car on only three wheels.

 

Operating without Danno was tough enough.  Keeping his distance from his friend was even harder.  It was his own fault, of course.  He pushed too hard, attacked too intently and managed to drive Dan away when he wanted to bring the injured detective closer.  How could Danno regain his memory if he detached himself from Five-0?  Obviously, Steve’s desperation had bled through during his visits to his friend.  Perhaps the desperation and overt commitment scared him?

 

It wasn’t easy for either of them.  So far, Steve’s one-sided friendship efforts were agonizing for him.  What kept him going was his own stubbornness.  He refused to give up even when Danno wanted him to.  It was not just a matter of pride.  His conscience would never allow him to live with himself if he surrendered and took the easy path.  Both of them would regret it.  He would rather push Danno away and know he was doing the right thing than capitulate and settle for less than complete success.  In the end, the only thing that really mattered was helping Dan remember his former life.  There could be no compromise.

 

Assemblywoman Taylor’s house at Black Point was a nice, modest mansion left over from the old money of the pineapple and sugar barons of the Islands.  It was not right on the beach, but it had a nice view of the ocean with the balmy breezes and briny air caressing the atmosphere of the manor.  Just seeing it from the vantage of the front, and the wide, curved drive, he noted the place displayed an understated, roomy elegance.  Banzai trees ornamented a side garden and plumeria trees shaded the walkway to an Oriental-styled, ornamental wrought iron door.  

 

Steve didn’t like coming here on official business, especially since Mrs. Taylor had requested her blackmail investigation be kept in strictest secrecy.  But after she avoided him yesterday at the Capitol, and would not return his phone calls, he refused to be ignored any further.

 

Mr. Taylor was an investment banker with offices in Japan, San Francisco and Honolulu.  Apparently, frequently out of town, thus his wife’s infidelities.   Mr. Taylor was out of the country this week, Steve had checked.  Otherwise, he would not have risked coming here to discuss Mrs. Taylor’s literal and figurative affairs. 

 

Her personal lack of morals bothered him, but because of confidentiality and his own ethics, he could not violate the victim’s trust and be too overt about his condemnation.  His job was to catch a criminal.  Her private life was none of his business.   The whole mess still rankled with him, especially since his other focus -- Danno -- was so personally important.   This woman’s trysts, and her political clout, were unfairly taking his time and energy focus away from Danno, thus slowing down the solution to Williams’ case.

 

Ringing the doorbell, he waited for a moment, then knocked.  Abstractly noting the porch light was on, he tried the bell again, distinctly hearing the chimes echo through the house.  Peering through the metal door he observed the open air foyer.  The front door was open just beyond.  He tried the knob and it opened.  Suddenly wary, he slipped his hand to the stock of his revolver and stepped cautiously through the entranceway and into the house.

 

Dirt and the broken shards of a Chinese vase scattered on the tile near the door, crunching under his shoes.  Alerted, he drew his weapon.  A few paces into the sunken living room he studied the overturned chair, dirt and flowers scattered across  the ground into the Oriental rug.  Circumspectly edging into the kitchen, he saw the body of a woman dressed in a neat uniform and apron.  Walking around the body, he peered into the dining room.  Near the doorway between the living room and the dining room, Assemblywoman Taylor’s obviously dead body laid in a pool of dried blood.  Near her was a carved wood dragon that seemed stained and he guessed that would prove to be the murder weapon.

 

Checking the rest of the house took several minutes.  After securing the area, he jogged to his car and called for back up and the forensic unit.  Returning to the house, he considered the initial clues and tried to piece things together.  He carefully stepped over to the maid’s body and touched the skin.  Stiff and cool, indicating they were dead for several hours.  Another point to confirm his theory about a night visitor. 

 

Glancing at the glass door and the front door, he concluded no forced entry that he could see.  Mrs. Taylor in the dining room, the maid showing a guest in from the front maybe?  The porch light, the kitchen and dining room lights were still on.  The living room lights were off.  Someone they knew dropping by last night?  Someone Taylor would admit without the formality of seeing them in at the entry, or visiting with them in the nearer and more formal living room? 

 

Pausing at the door, he felt gratified to see large footprints clearly visible in the dirt spilled from the vase.  So perhaps it was an impulsive crime and the man -- they were men’s shoe size and sole style -- fled in haste, breaking the vase, without realizing he had left some evidence behind.

 

He was still studying the living room when Doc Berman arrived.  The Coroner estimated the time of death as being over six to eight hours at a guess, due to the cool temperature, the early rigor, and lividity.  Last night.  Confirmation of his theory about the lights being on.  The living room would have been dark and the killer probably stumbled against the vase, smearing the soil and leaving his footprints. 

 

Should he have foreseen this?  The blackmailer had not given any indications of being violent.  Was his mind so distracted by Danno’s problems that he had missed vital clues?  He didn’t think so, but he had to be the first to admit his preoccupation with Williams kept him distracted. 

 

Instead of serving as a censure, the self-admission helped clarify and center him.  There would be some heat about this from the Governor when the facts came to light, but McGarrett knew he had been doing everything in his power to juggle two difficult and vital cases.  Both of the victims were reluctant with their cooperation.  With Taylor, he had not foreseen the fatal angle of the blackmail.  Nothing in her information or in his investigation pointed to something like this, so at least partially he was not culpable.  Not suspecting violence was, arguably, his fault, but not because he was blinded by his second case.  Not because his personal focus was on Danno instead of a politician. 

 

Would this deter him from continuing to focus on Williams’ case?  No.  This unfortunate death would serve to open up the inquiry and probably lead to a quick solution he was unable to achieve before because of Taylor’s obstructive attitude.

 

As the covered body was wheeled away, Steve offered a silent vow to find whoever did this.  Just as he promised to find out what happened to Danno.

 

 

*****

 

“Thanks for driving me out here, Chin.  I could have done it myself, you know.”

 

“Not so easy driving your sports car with a broken arm,” Kelly easily replied.  “Besides, I hear you brag about your Tutu Kulani’s cooking so much, I have to see for myself.” 

 

Aware of the awkward silence, Chin realized his mistake.  Dan wouldn’t remember telling him anything about his adopted Hawaiian ohana.  He chose not to apologize.  They had to stop treating Danny like he would break, even though they all seemed to be treading carefully with this new, uncomfortable situation. 

 

“I turn --  he stopped, again aware he was about to make another blunder.  Dan wouldn’t remember the directions.

 

“Sorry,” Williams sighed, aware of the difficulty.  “None of this seems familiar.”

They cruised past Diamond Head Park and along Kahala Avenue until the street narrowed and the houses were mostly obscured by walls or tall trees.  He slowed, scanning the addresses, and finally pulled into a driveway that was auspiciously modest.  It led to a stretched-out drive that ended at a long, single-story ranch-style house.  The lot was huge; plenty of area away from the highway, but he could see the back had a spacious lawn leading down to the sand and the beach.  One of the priciest pieces of real estate in the Islands, Chin wondered how Danny’s calabash cousins had managed to afford the mansion.  Maybe they were original deed holders way back to the kings of Hawaii.

 

A short woman in a bright muu’muu rushed out when the car stopped.  She hugged Dan and gave a friendly wave to Chin.  On her heels was a little man about her size, dressed in shorts and a faded Aloha shirt.  He patted Dan on the back and then came around and shook hands with Chin.

 

“Henry Kulani.  But everybody calls me Kahuna, or Tutukane.”  He then introduced his wife only as Tutuwahine, who gave another wave, but was occupied with maneuvering Williams toward the beach.

 

Chin introduced himself and was welcomed into the back yard.  He noted Danny tried to keep his distance, but the little grandmother would not allow it.  They went out to some lawn furniture overlooking the sea.  Cold drinks were already on the table and Tutukane poured.

 

Conversation consisted of memories of Danny’s early years -- a happy time, despite the death of his parents and the martial law during World War II.  After Jim Williams returned from the Pacific war, he became a cop.  Danny lived with him, went to the local schools with the Kulani children, and had a wonderful youth.  Surfing, swimming, playing baseball -- it seemed the all-American childhood.

 

After finishing his college education on the mainland at Berkley, Dan returned to the Islands and joined HPD, then Five-0.  The conversation grew a little more guarded then, Chin noted. 

 

“I must have liked spending time here,” Williams observed neutrally.

 

The tutu exchanged a look with Kelly. 

 

“Not so much in the last few years, Danny,” Tutukane admitted.

 

Briefly the Kulanis recounted Danny always seemed busy and missed a lot of luaus and ohana gatherings.  Five-0 took a lot of his time.

 

“Then maybe being a cop isn’t such a good thing if it takes me away from my ohana.”

 

“You have important work you do with Mr. McGarrett,” Tutuwahine defended.

 

Dan wondered about the formality of her speech and was surprised to learn McGarrett had never visited the ohana.  Also too busy.

 

Taking it all in, Williams sunk into a pondering silence.  Eventually he walked to the edge of the wide lawn and stared out at the crystalline, sparkling white sands and the azure ocean topped by a fluffily-clouded cerulean sky.  Two rainbows arched over Koko Head and the breeze was just perfect enough to dispel the heat and humidity of the sunny day.

 

Chin joined him after a while, silently taking in the benefits of living in paradise.  Quietly, Dan confessed, with disappointment heavy in his tone, that this was probably the most perfect ocean and the most incredible view in the world.  He wanted to belong to this warm family, but didn’t.  Not anymore.  He wanted to believe he belonged here on this beach, in this heaven on earth.  But he didn’t. 

 

One thing he was beginning to learn, though, was that he didn’t like the cop he used to be and he didn’t think he wanted to be a cop ever again.  Why would he want to waste his life in a job that robbed him of family who loved him, and spending time in a place like this?

 

Chin half-heartedly defended Five-0, McGarrett and Dan, but soon saw that his rebuttal fell on deaf ears.  Williams was not interested in the arguments and asked if Kelly would drive him home.  With awkward alohas on both sides, Dan left, clearly unsettled by the experience. 

 

All the way back to Diamond Head, Chin silently pondered how he could help alter what seemed like an inevitable path for his young friend.  Certainly, he did not want to return to the office and report Danny’s decisions to Steve.  McGarrett would be devastated to learn of Danny’s new ideas about cops.  By the time they pulled into Dan’s driveway, he had formed no conclusions and drove to the Palace with a lot on his mind.

 

 

*****

 

Steve fielded a call for Chin, a clarification question he had for the Matson family.  They were tracked down on the last few days of their holiday on the Big Island.  McGarrett remembered discussing with Kelly more details on the dancers -- if they were really dancing -- on the lanai of the Sunset Reef. The Matson girls recounted the scene on the lanai, they described it to him in detail.  He asked if what they saw could have been two people fighting not dancing.  Yes, it was possible, they thought.   He asked for a better description of the girl on the lanai, and it sounded like it could have been Loke Hapa.

 

 

*****

 

McGarrett heard the phone ringing before he opened his apartment door.  Hurrying in, he snatched it up.  Instantly he shifted to wary alertness when the caller identified himself as Officer Nakamura, Williams assigned body guard.  Williams had given him the slip again.  Ditched out the security watch for the second time this week.  McGarrett told the officer to go home, he would handle things.  Slamming down the phone, he spun around and out the apartment.

 

Knocking firmly, loudly, for the third time, McGarrett impatiently snapped his fingers as he waited for a response.  No answer.  He leaned over the railing and looked down on the beach in front of the condo.  No one was there.  So, Danno was out.  He should have called, yes, but he was in no mood to take no for an answer. 

 

Williams had been reluctant to see him for the last few days.  Danno thought he was pushing too hard.  How else were they going to find answers if he didn’t stretch the limits?  That was an important lesson Danno should have remembered.  But didn’t, of course.

 

Four weeks -- a month -- was a long time.  Endless, it seemed every time he thought about it.  The quiet moments at the office were the worst.  When he expected Danno to be there, to talk to him, to offer advice.  Trying also were the early mornings when he wanted to jog with his exercise partner.  Weekends when he wanted someone to sail with, or play tennis with became grueling.  Not that he had taken any time off since the accident, but it was something he thought about.  Pondering the absences was what he tried to get Williams to do, but Danno remained reluctant to listen much to McGarrett. 

 

He fought down the fear that rose every time he chose to acknowledge there was an ever-widening gap emerging between him and his closest friend.  The more he fought against it, the farther away he seemed to drive Williams.  Complicating that was the non-stop stress of finding Taylor’s murderer.  Duke had solved the double murder case, so he was free to join in on the blackmail inquiry, but it wasn’t helping much.  Soon he would have to have Chin drop everything (two more cases that had come in during the last few weeks) and join the priority investigation. 

 

The pressure from the business of Five-0 still took second place.  Steve couldn’t stop worrying about Dan’s eventual recovery.  If the memory didn’t come back, would he want to have anything to do with McGarrett?  He had to believe that somehow they would get Danno’s past back.  Not for one minute would he accept the nonsense about him not wanting to be a cop anymore.  That was someone else talking.  Panic and confusion tinted his perspective.  With the right coaching Danno would get back on track.

 

Accepting that Williams was not at home, he went down to the garage and noted both cars were there.  Irritated he had allowed Williams slip past the guard earlier in the week, he simmered and contemplated.  He should have been more firm with his friend.

 

He checked the beach, but it was still empty.  He could try the nearby King Kamehameha Club, but instinctively didn’t think Danno would be there.  It held too many people who would corner him with the past and Williams seemed to be running away from that instead of embracing his former life.

 

In a rush of intuitive inspiration, Steve suddenly understood.  Danno might be the amateur psychologist, but the boss knew a thing or two about the workings of the criminal -- and cop -- mind.  Danno was running away.  Because subconsciously, he knew something?  Because his survival sixth sense was telling him with the hunt for the truth might come more pain, more danger, even another attempt on his life?

 

Now anxious to find his friend, he stood on the sidewalk and tried to imagine where Williams would go.  A man with no connection to his past.  So remote from his old life he hardly even drove his Mustang anymore.  So he was on foot.  Unless something had happened to him, but Steve tried to focus on the less lethal ideas now.  He walked along the sidewalk and looked down Kalakaua Avenue.  It led to Kapiolani Park, then on to Waikiki.  Endless places for someone running from himself to hide.  And McGarrett seriously believed that was what his friend was doing -- running away.  It was against the nature of the Danno he knew, but this was not his old friend.  This was a person who remembered nothing of the past except pain and an intellectual knowledge that someone had tried to kill him, and in the process, ruined his life. 

 

Jumping into his car, he cruised down Kalakaua and checked out the tennis courts where they frequently played.  No Danno.  He parked and stood on the sidewalk, looking to the beach.  Remembering or not, Williams would be drawn to the ocean.  He always was.  Just as he still thought like a cop, he would still feel like an island kama’aina.  Crossing to the makai side of the park he walked to the sand and after strolling for a time spotted a lone figure sitting on a rock wall, watching the surfers.  He hiked over, feeling better than he had in weeks.  He had a direction, a plan, and his target in his sights.

 

“I’ve been looking for you.”

 

Williams offered a brief wave at his arrival.  No light of recognition, no bright greeting.  McGarrett buried the flash of disappointment at that.  It would come in time, he reminded himself.

 

“Wanted to catch the sunset at the beach.”

 

McGarrett said nothing, choosing not to vent his anger about the evasion of the bodyguard.  

 

“I’m just sitting here watching these guys.  It looks like fun.”

 

“You’re pretty good at it.”

 

He tapped his arm that was still in a cast.  “As soon as I’m healed I’ll try it.”

 

“It’ll come back to you.”

 

Nodding, he turned to look at McGarrett.  “So, is this a social visit or business?”

 

There was no emotion behind the question -- no rancor, no anticipation.  Instantly, McGarrett chose to be a little cagey.  He didn’t want the blockade to go up just yet.

 

“You ditched your guards again.”

 

“I don’t need them.”

 

“You do.  We’ve been over this before.”

 

“It’s been a month and I’m in no danger,” Williams tersely backhanded.  “It’s a waste of manpower to have someone babysitting me.”

 

Thinking like a cop again.  Thinking all too much like the old Danno, who didn’t always have much interest in personal safety if it got in his way.  Unable to resist, Steve pointed out to his friend how much the thinking patterns were the same.  The cop instincts were still there.

 

“Maybe you should come back and work for Five-0,” he only half joked.  Maybe getting back into the groove of life would jolt things back into place.   “Your memory could come back --“

 

“No.”

 

The adamant denial laced with -- trepidation? -- surprised him more than the harsh tone.  He refused to think his friend was afraid.  Worried, he clarified to settle the reaction in his own mind.  But afraid?  He could not accept that in the friend who had faced down -- defied -- death on numerous occasions.  Blandly, he suggested Williams return to the office for a few days of deskwork and again the recovering officer refused.  Knowing this conversation could become even more disappointing, he had to ask why.

 

Thinking over his response, Dan finally admitted he felt police work was too dangerous.  It was what put him in this mess in the first place.   He certainly didn’t want anything to do with it now that he could not remember anything.

 

“You think I’m following instincts and old patterns.  I think it’s a coincidence.”

 

“Coincidence has nothing to do with it,” Steve snapped back.  “You’re acting like a cop because under the skin that’s what you are.  This amnesia is just temporarily blocking you from your true path.  You’re on target.  Nothing’s been erased, just shielded.  Believe me when I say what you’re feeling is the real you.”

 

For a moment, Williams’ eyes reflected the stubborn refusal that sometimes characterized his scrappy nature.  Then the blue eyes sparked and the face washed with a sardonic expression.  “I momentarily forgot how you don’t like to be contradicted.  Are you ever wrong?”

 

“Never about people I know.”

 

Chuckling softly, he nodded, mildly reiterating that he did not want to think about being a cop yet.  And he would not back down about the guards.  McGarrett noncommittally changed the subject.

 

“It’s almost sunset, how about dinner?  You like sushi.  There’s a new place over in the RH center.  We’ll take the beach route.”

 

Coming to his feet, Williams was amused at the offer and followed as McGarrett walked toward the street.  “I like raw fish?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

Williams accepted the invitation, seemingly completely unaware he was being led into a trap.  McGarrett drove, conversationally pointing out sights as they wove through Waikiki and over to the Royal Hawaiian.  Briefly they toured the old, pink hotel that pre-dated the attack on Pearl, and Williams became caught up in the history and colorful anecdotes of the old luxury hotel.

 

On the way, they passed Officer Napali, who paused to make a snide comment about Five-0 slumming with the tourists.  McGarrett didn’t react to the attitude.   Nor did he remark about the last time they met and Napali attempted to make his ridiculous ticket stick.  The way Napali was eyeing Danno -- like a target -- Steve pushed on Williams’ good arm, urging them to proceed.

 

Napali was a nasty character, but he represented a small faction within HPD that still resented the state police.  Or maybe resented Williams for being a young, successful member of Five-0.  McGarrett continued, then stopped when Napali shouted out another taunt.

 

“Hey, Williams, is it true you don’t remember being down here and partying?  I know first hand you like to party.”

 

He returned to face the patrolman.  “Are you speaking from an eyewitness account?  You’ve seen Officer Williams down here?  Don’t you ever go home?”

 

“Switch shifts a lot.  Days and nights.”

 

Another sign Napali didn’t know how to play politics at the station, pulling varying shifts often.  Or proof that the man was frequently in trouble.   

 

“I saw you last month.”  With his eyes he silently dared McGarrett to beg him to continue.  “At the bar, Williams.”

 

“And?  Details, Napali.  Why didn’t you mention this before?”

 

As if it was what the belligerent officer was waiting for, he countered arrogantly, “Last time you were down here you didn’t seem interested in what I had to say.  Besides, I didn’t know your detective had no memory.  Must have been some serious action, huh, Williams?”

 

“What do you know?” McGarrett urged.  While the officer’s tone insinuated something unsavory, Steve had no doubt it was all an act.  Danno knew better than to get involved in something scandalous.  “Why didn’t you come forward before this?  We’ve had an ongoing investigation proceeding for over a month!”

 

“I musta forgot,” he shrugged.  “I know Williams was at the Beachcomber at that nightclub for a few nights.  I had to go in there to break up a fight twice.  Don’t you remember?” he asked, nearly accusing the younger cop.

 

Shaking his head, Dan seemed oblivious to the abrasive manner, but curious about the information.  Despite his anger, Steve inwardly smiled at that, knowing Dan’s instincts were guiding him even if he didn’t know it.

 

“Yeah, you helped me break up the fight.  It was maybe two nights before you took your fall.  It’s all in my report.”  He glared at McGarrett.  “If anybody wants to look at the paperwork.”

 

“Make sure copies of that incident statement are on my desk in the morning.”  Steve turned, gently taking Dan by the arm again and steering them mauka toward the shopping center. 

 

“Does that jog anything loose?” he asked as they approached the open-air mall.

 

“No,” Williams groused, obviously frustrated at the encounter.

 

Steve assured him it would all come out with time.  He was aggravated at Napali’s approach, but maybe this little clue would help.  Now, however, he wouldn’t let it ruin the afternoon.  He had a mission with Danno and Napali’s details could wait until tomorrow.

 

Dinner at the sushi place was heartening for the top cop.  Williams ordered his favorites without being prompted and while they waited, Williams seemed to relax into a mode of easy camaraderie.  It helped to ease the anxiety over their last encounter when Williams left on a cold wave of separation -- resentful of cops, and Five-0 and McGarrett.  Right now, the relaxed meal was like old times, like they were both remembering they were friends.

 

“I saw in the paper you’re working on the assemblywoman’s murder?” 

 

“Yeah.  Nasty business.”

 

“Was I working on it, too?”

 

“Not really.  You were working with Duke on the double murder, but I did discuss her blackmail case with you.”

 

I always do, he wanted to add, but didn’t.  It would sound too pointedly aggressive and self-pitying.  Such an admission would open up the regret that lingered just under the surface.  The poignant mixture of hope and loss that lived with every conversation, every moment he shared with his friend.

 

“Bring back anything?”

 

“No.”

 

The meal was served and Williams drifted back to less intrusive dialogue as they ate.  McGarrett enjoyed the relaxing respite, but was ever mindful of watching for an opening, any slight opportunity that would give him a chance to further his theories.   Patiently waiting to spring a trap was difficult.  He was a man of action -- one to make his own way, forge his own path at his own pace.  This vitally important procedure, however, could not be rushed or his subject would be spooked.

 

Dan inquired about some of the other dishes he saw and Steve explained what they were and which ones Dan liked. 

 

“For dinner I’ll bring you over to my place and we’ll make lau lau and lomi.  Maybe fresh poi.”

 

Experimenting with the chopsticks, Dan practiced expertly picking up his napkin, as if playing with a new toy.  “Sounds good.”  Then the conversation sunk in and the notion seemed to surprise the younger man.  “I like all that?”

 

“You were raised on it.  I only learned about it when I was stationed here for awhile.”

 

“In the Navy, right?”  Williams paused from his preoccupation of the utensils and stared at McGarrett.  “You know I don’t know a lot about you.  We spend all our time talking about me.”

 

“I’m not the one who needs a memory back.”

“So tell me about you.”

 

The request was unexpected and in a completely different direction than he wanted to travel. Acceding to the appeal, he briefly skimmed over high points in his life and career.  Dan asked a few questions, but mostly listened.  Another typical response that set McGarrett’s teeth on edge.  So close, yet still so far away from the old Danno.  This was how so much of their time was spent -- talking, thinking, Danno throwing out ideas and comments.  It helped settled his nerves to know this could continue even without Dan’s memory, but he wouldn’t give up.  He would fight forever -- whatever -- to get the friendship back whole.

 

“That’s about your job, Steve.  What about you?  How did we become friends?”

 

Briefly, he recounted Dan’s early experiences with Five-0.  Praising Williams’ career in HPD didn’t impress him and Dan urged for more.

 

“You keep talking about the work.  Like Five-0 is all there is.  Don’t you have a life outside the Palace walls?”

 

The remark was made in all innocence, but it was painful to take.  Concealing any inner disturbance, McGarrett assured they both had lives outside of the job.  He did not mention Cathi Ryan and her murder.  Nor that he had little social interest yet since that horrible crime. 

 

The foul memory of the frame up and death also brought the recollection of Dan’s selfless efforts to collect money for an outrageously expensive bail, incurring the wrath of the DA, and working tirelessly to clear McGarrett.  That brought him full circle.  To this moment when their futures hung on the narrow, fragile thread of the misty and forgotten past.

 

“We’re friends.  We spend time together on and off the job.  You have your surf crowd, I have several charities and art benefits I support.”

 

“Oh yeah, art.”  The thought startled Williams and he almost smiled.  “I -- it’s less than a memory,” he declared excitedly.  “But I know that you like art.  Right?  Am I right?”

 

“Yeah,” Steve acknowledged, almost holding his breath.  Again, he tried not to expect too much.

 

“How did I know that?”

 

Steve shrugged casually, restraining his excitement, not wanting to hope too much that something was coming back.  Nor did he want to rush this trap that Danno was slowly, unknowingly closing.

 

“There are things I seem to know, but it’s just so frustrating that I can’t actually remember them.”

 

“Then you have to trust your instincts,” McGarrett encouraged firmly, admirably holding back his urgent anxiety to press for more proof that Danno could complete the link and grasp onto a memory instead of a feeling.  “The entrées you ordered are the things you usually like.  Ahi, yellow tail, salmon, poke.  You are feeling your way back, Danno.  I think you’re on some kind of sub-level and just a step away from real memories.”

 

“This is promising, isn’t it?”

 

The eagerness was so typical and McGarrett felt prompted to add a challenge.  “This proves that familiar things are helping you, Danno.  The only way we can keep it up is for you to push the limits.”  His voice was gentle, but firm, encouraging, but adamant.  “You can do it, Danno.  You’re never afraid of a challenge.  You never give up, either.  Sometimes you doubt, and you falter, but you always come back and face trials head-on.”

 

Taking a breath, Williams stared at his friend; a little trepidation, a bit of keenness sparking the eyes.  “How?”

 

“After we eat I want to take you back to the Reef hotel and jolt your memory.  Are you game?”

 

Slowly he nodded, taking a few deep lungs-full of air.  “Yeah.  I’m ready.”

 

 

*****

 

Standing on the Sunset Reef lanai proved to be more emotionally harrowing for Steve than he anticipated.  Expecting to come up here and be clinically objective grilling Williams, he instead found it unnerving to look down at the flat roof of the Rainbow Grill restaurant and know that Danno had been attacked, thrown off this lanai and left for dead.  What made it even more untenable was that there was absolutely no reaction from the victim.  Nothing.  Placid.  Blank.  No memory of the assault.

 

The night breeze off the nearby water was refreshing and cooling in contrast to the sweltering humidity.  Waikiki was packed with vacationers, the sand no longer dotted with multi-colored bathing suits, surf boards, and swimmers.  Instead, the beach was filled with evening strollers lingering after the sunset.  Catamarans and cruise boats flecked against the undulating, dark blue of the Pacific.  Lights from the hotels and streets and torches ringing beach restaurants glittered in multi-colored strands.   All around them was normalcy, enjoyment.  Swirling commonality encasing the eye of the hurricane.

 

Step by step, Steve went over the last minutes at the Palace that unforgettable night.  Then he described the movements they knew for Williams.  Still no memory.  Was there someone Dan saw that didn’t belong here?  Was it an old enemy that ambushed him?  He fired out the questions like bullets and Williams inched away until the second-in-command backed to the lanai railing.

 

“Steve, I can’t remember!  Stop pushing!”

 

“You have to remember, Danno!  Maybe this is what you need.  The pressure is going to break down that wall --“

 

He did not intend for this to be another confrontation, but conflict was inevitable when he was so passionate to find the answers and Danno was afraid to look too hard.

 

“You can’t let the doubt and fear block you --“

 

“Maybe I just don’t want to remember!” the younger man blurted out.

 

Danno’s face paled, reacting to what he saw in McGarrett’s expression.  Steve couldn’t hide the anger at the surrender.  Nor could he conceal the momentary rush of stinging damage preceding the ire.

 

Aware this was a turning point, Steve carefully suggested, “You have to keep at this, Danno.  If you give up you will never have the answers.”

 

“Maybe I won’t ever remember.  Maybe I don’t want the old life and old friends!”

 

Flash exasperation and irritation again spilled out before he could check himself.  “You do, Danno.  Don’t take the easy way out on this!  You want your life back --”

 

You want my life back!  Maybe because you don’t have one of your own?”  He was shaking now, panic rushing his thoughts into words before he could make sense of the conflict.  “How did I ever become a cop?  Or your friend?”

 

Danno stumbled to the door and fled.  Sickened at the attack, livid at his own haste and impatience, Steve leaned on the railing and breathed in and out to dispel the anger and pain and dissipate it into something besides the lava-scorching heat boiling inside.  He had blown it big time.  Evidence of that were the cutting, desperate weapons flung at him by a friend he had pinned down.  Cornered, Danno had no other way to go but to fight or regain his memory.  He had chosen the easy way out -- the counterstrike against his tormentor.  Pounding on the rail, Steve silently cursed, groping for brilliant deliverance from the trap he had created and fallen into himself.

 

 

*****

 

 

Pacing at the arrival gate for United Airlines, McGarrett fingered the plumeria lei in his hand and watched as a big jet stopped at the nearest retractable walkway.   This was a meeting he dreaded, but determined to make succeed.  Every other attempt to jolt Williams’ memory into place again came to naught.  This was the last ace he had up his sleeve and he prayed it would work.

 

The passengers disembarked and soon he spotted a slight, short, elderly woman engaged in lively conversation with a young mother holding a small baby.  Aunt Clara was even more gregarious and outgoing than her personable nephew, and it was no surprise she had made fast friends with people on the long flight from Los Angeles.

 

When she sighted him she waved, smiling brightly, and he came forward, presenting her with the lei and a kiss on the cheek.  She hugged him -- firmly, desperately -- and held onto him for several moments.  When she pulled away her expression and misty eyes reflected the distressing thought they shared:  This should have been Danno meeting her, not McGarrett.

 

During her visits he had come to know and love Aunt Clara.  She had avoided coming to Hawaii for years, but after an adventure-filled holiday in the fall {episode -- RETIRE IN SUNNY HAWAII - FOREVER}, and Christmas, [fan story -- MELE KALIKIMAKA],  she was becoming a regular visitor. 

 

“As always, the weather is perfect,” she chatted as they walked toward baggage claim.  “And the lei is just beautiful.  Thank you, Steve.”

 

“You’re welcome.”  She wanted to break the ice a little, so he played along.  “How was your flight?”

 

“Oh, fine, fine.  I met the nicest young lady from Hilo, she sat next to me.  She told me I should come and visit her on the Big Island.  I think it would be so exciting to see the volcanoes there.  And the man across the aisle from us, he, well, I don’t want to bore you with a travelogue.”  She took a breath, finally.  “Steve?”

 

“Yes?”

 

They arrived at the luggage carousel.  It was empty.  While they waited she started several conversations, then dropped them, obviously fidgety and uncomfortable.  

 

“How is he?” she finally asked.

 

“All right,” McGarrett admitted without emotion, satisfied they were finally going to discuss what they could not stop thinking about.  “Considering everything, he’s healthy and well.”

 

“And he still can’t remember anything about his past?”

 

“No.” 

 

They had been over this several times in phone conversations.   It wasn’t enough for her to receive remote reports on her nephew, she had to come and see for herself.  She believed once Danny saw her he would remember everything. 

 

Steve had believed that, too, at first.  As the weeks went on his hope had faded, but not been conquered.  He still believed the memories would return, but the long term of the amnesia was depressing and he was now fighting to keep optimism alive in his heart.

 

“It will when he sees me.”

 

“I hope so.”

 

The tone must not have been as detached as he thought, because her eagle-eyes were on him in fuming criticism.  “Do I detect skepticism from you, Steve?  I can’t believe you would give up.”

 

“Never,” he assured adamantly.  “But this is going to take time, obviously.  If nothing -- happens -- when he sees you, I don’t want you to be too disappointed.”

 

“But he will remember.”

 

Moving to intercept the luggage coming off the chute, McGarrett was grateful he did not have to respond.  He did still believe Danno would recover his memory.  Now he was beginning to think it would take a long time.

 

To make the reunion a little easier, McGarrett suggested it take place at Clara’s hotel room -- neutral ground.  Danno should feel less threatened there, but he didn’t mention that to Clara.  After the big blow up about returning to the Sunset Reef, McGarrett had seen little of Williams the last week.  They talked on the phone every few days, once he dropped by the apartment, but Danno wouldn’t let him inside. 

 

He should be grateful that the meet with Clara was even accepted, but Williams did have some desire to reclaim his past.  Not though with the fervor or aggression that McGarrett had, or expected from the injured officer.  He felt that was because Danno was still afraid.  That didn’t make it easier, but it gave Steve a chance to come up with another plan.

 

The Hilton Hawaiian Village was a luxurious hotel where Clara enjoyed staying.  They checked into her suite and Steve paced, checking his watch, hoping Danno would be on time.  There was little else to chat about but Danno, and Clara wanted every detail of Steve’s last conversations with her nephew and his evaluation of his future.  How was the criminal case progressing?  Maybe Danny should return with her to the mainland and get away from Hawaii for a while.  Steve balked at that horrible idea, but restrained himself from blasting the elderly woman with recriminations.  They would see what happened after today and what Danno wanted to do.  The amnesiac was as strong-willed as he was in normal life and Steve had learned over the weeks it wasn’t easy influencing him.

 

When a knock at the door came ten minutes ahead of schedule, Steve rushed over to answer.  A hesitant Williams stood in the hall and came in, giving a nod to McGarrett.  He stayed rooted near the door as he quietly greeted Clara.  The aunt closed the distance quickly and hugged him with a fierceness that surprised the men.  From the uncomfortable reaction, Steve’s heart sunk, unhappy the initial reception was not going well.

 

Clara pulled back from the embrace and was visibly shaken at the blank look she received from Dan. 

 

“You do remember me, don’t you?”

 

The loaded question was delivered with a tiny voice cracked with emotion.  Steve had to look away to avoid the teary-eyed relative holding onto the man they were desperately fond of, who could not remember them or himself. 

 

“No, I’m sorry, I don’t,” he quietly cringed.

 

She recovered quickly, expertly, falling into an actress’s skilled role, but the hurt and disillusionment in her face burned in Steve’s mind. 

 

“Danny, you’re looking so well.”  She touched his arm and indicated they should sit on the lanai. “I’ve had a nice tea brought up.  The menu had such compelling tropical snacks I couldn’t help myself.”

 

Politely Dan joined them at the table outside.  Clara at first questioned him, and when it was clear he could remember nothing of their past, she switched tactics.  She related many stories about Dan’s visits back east, spending Christmas with her in exotic places, watching her perform on tour with her traveling acting troupe. 

 

The stories were delightful and entertaining, but never really penetrated beyond surface enjoyment for the younger man.  Every once in a while she would interject a probing inquiry, always met by negatives.  As the session drew on both Williams grew more unsettled.  It was Dan who finally suggested he return home and think things over.

 

Clara didn’t want to give in, but reluctantly agreed.

 

“You’ll meet me for breakfast in the morning, won’t you?  We’ll go to that beachside café we always . . . .” 

 

The awkward reminder settled between them like drifting ocean spray misted from crashing waves across the sand.  Dan seemed about to refuse, then a glance at Steve’s stern warning stopped him.

 

“Sure.  I’ll pick you up about eight.”

 

“Yes,” she brightened.  “That’s what time I always eat breakfast when I’m not touring.”

 

“I didn’t remember that,” he grimly countered with a warning expression.  “It just seemed like a good time.”

 

“Of course, Danny.”

 

Steve offered to see him back to the apartment, but he refused.  After Danno left, he studied the woman who seemed to sink into herself, folding on the sofa, disconsolate and bereft.  What could he say that could possibly be of comfort?  He sat down in the adjacent chair and waited.

 

This was a terrible idea, he knew now.  What were they thinking?  Instead of jolting a memory back into place, it was only hurting a kind old woman.  He should have come up with something better.  The head of Hawaii Five-0, his efforts on behalf of his closest friend were not so laudable now.  He would have to do better, much better in the future.

 

 

*****

 

Information about Assemblywoman Taylor’s life came from two sources on the same day.  Drudging through necessary paperwork, Steve found refuge in administrative duties he usually hated.  Now, with Danno avoiding him, this was Steve’s way of eluding too much concentration on Williams. 

 

Disappointed and anxious, Clara had left a few days before when she knew her visit was only causing her heartache.  Danno did not remember anything about their relationship.  When Steve drove her to the airport he promised to keep her informed, but it was small consolation.

 

Sorting through the statements taken by officers when interviewing Taylor’s neighbors, they discovered some interesting liaisons.  One eager citizen across the street from Taylor reported there was continual traffic at the house when Mr. Taylor was away on business.  Sometimes a red Benz, sometimes a blue Chevy, a black Benz, sometimes cabs.  Mrs. Taylor had been seen in compromising interludes with the pool boy, the neighbor assured. 

 

Were these the several liaisons Mrs. Taylor was giving up?  Maybe one of the pool boys or hotel surfers was jealous.  Or angry that he was losing a rich benefactor?  Little progress could be made in that direction without more evidence.  Something solid from forensics would help.  Something incriminating left behind by a boyfriend.

 

Then the local papers ran a story where anonymous sources relayed Mrs. Taylor liked to fling with the tennis pro at her club and the surfers at the hotels on Waikiki.  While Steve didn’t put much faith in society columns, he had an HPD detective check out the reporter, then the surfers at the big hotels.  It was an assignment he would have normally sent Dan on, but, with a sigh, he knew he had to release those expectations.   At this rate, Danno may not only be lost as a cop, he didn’t even want to associate with McGarrett as a friend.

 

Anxious to push the investigation along, McGarrett went over the evidence items and sifted through reports on what was found at the crime scene.  Soon his mind drifted to the case he really never strayed from -- Danno’s -- and was struck again by the similarities of the two investigations.  Two reluctant victims and one harried cop trying to solve them.  If only it could be as simple to find a memory as it was to solve a murder.

 

The thought took him down a winding mental course of investigative procedures.  Instead of identifying her boyfriends by who came to her house, he should have checked on where she had gone.  Known to frequent Waikiki, she might have run into his least favorite officer.  He put in a call to HPD records and had them run a computer check of tickets issued to Mrs. Taylor.  Moving on to other work, he received an answer within the half hour.  Taylor had four parking tickets issued by Officer Napali.  All were for violations on Kalia Street next to the Waverider  Hotel.

 

*****

 

This was his hometown, yet none of it seemed welcoming.  Dan tried to open his mind and embrace all the bustle and business of Waikiki, but familiarity eluded him.  Walking down Kalakaua Avenue should have been exploding his senses with landmarks and second-nature sights, but it did not.  Still, he persisted, pushing himself even while he accused, and resented McGarrett for doing the same.  None of his customary surroundings clicked.  Not his apartment, not the Palace, not the club. 

 

Several times in the last, lost weeks he thought he might be regaining some intangible wisp of the past.  Hawaiian words and places were easy for him to adapt to, but not people.  Not even Aunt Clara.  He cringed remembering the difficult meetings with her.  Finally, after three painful days she had gone home, terribly worried and heartbroken, although she tried to hide the shattering emotions.  It made him feel horrible, but there was nothing he could do about any of the actions of others in this terrible time.

 

No events he had lived through pierced the impenetrable wall of amnesia.  Although Steve continually reminded him what a great guy he was and such a good cop -- when he allowed McGarrett to reveal such things -- it never permeated.

 

And how accurate was Steve?  Admittedly, McGarrett was his closest friend, certainly loyal and tenacious to a fault.  Was the personality assessment right?  Did he sometimes falter, but come back fighting?  Come back wanting to know the truth?  Not giving up?  That sounded more like McGarrett than he, but honestly he had no idea. 

 

Why was he rejecting Steve and friends and family?  He had been warmly accepted by caring associates.  Even if he couldn’t remember, shouldn’t he try making a new start with them instead of some other direction?  Sometimes Steve rubbed him the wrong way, came on too intense. Pressured him.  Wasn’t that how you succeeded, from pressure?

 

“Hey, Williams.”

 

He turned to face Officer Napali.  It was disappointing there were such cops as this nasty guy.  Steve promised most were fair and decent. It drifted him to a flash of self-interrogation again.  What kind of cop had he been?  Good enough to start over again as a cop?  

 

“Hi.”

 

“Still searching for that lost memory, huh?”

 

“Something like that.”

 

“Maybe you should go back to the scene of the crime.  That’s where you left it, after all.  You liked that bar anyway.  I know, I seen you there more than once.”

 

Suppressing a snide comment, Dan continued walking.  At an ABC market he stopped and studied the glaring and dizzying array of beach towels, t-shirts, bikinis and macadamia nuts.  Logically he should feel some sense of resentment at this blatant tourism clogging the perfect paradise of Hawaii, but he didn’t.  In his past life did he even care about politics or the environment, or anything except being a cop?  Did he lead a narrow, sheltered life?  Chin, Duke and McGarrett seemed to count it as the highest ideal of service to be in law enforcement.  They said he felt that way, too.  Staring at his image in the reflection of the glass, he saw nothing special in the person he was.  He didn’t know if he could feel that altruistic and noble. 

 

The variety store played some old Hawaiian song and he recognized the voice as Don Ho.  How did he know that?  Then he noticed his lips were moving.  He was singing along with the song.  An old standard; I’LL REMEMBER YOU, he identified.

 

“I’ll remember you

long after this endless summer is gone

 

love you always

promise always

you’ll remember too.”

 

And he did remember!  He didn’t waste time wondering how he knew the song or the vocalist or the words.  When he started, at a brisk pace, walking Ewa along Kalakaua, he didn’t question his motives.  He knew.  Just as Steve promised, something finally clicked in his brain.  That song was playing on the fateful night he had gone to the Rip Curl Room.  A performer had been singing while he was waiting for Loke Hapa. 

 

There was something cracking open in his mind and he wasn’t going to fail in this breakthrough.

Strangely, Napali was right.  He needed to go back to the scene of the crime and find what he had lost.  It had not come to him before, when Steve had taken him to the Sunset Reef, but they hadn’t gone to the Waverider Hotel! 

 

Snapping into a jog, he rushed past tourists and down Lewers to Kalia.  The cast on his arm now removed, his shoulder and arm still ached and it was clumsy and painful to run, so he slacked off.  The pressure inside, however, urged him to walk fast, anxiety pushing him to find whatever answers were hidden at the hotel.

 

Now he was on familiar ground.  He remembered walking this street that night.  He had gone around to the side of the bar, through the Waverider Hotel, just as he was now.  A thought flashed through his mind that he should call McGarrett and let him know.  With that inner warning came a warm and secure impression of stability.  He had done that before -- been in trouble and called Steve and Steve was there for him. 

 

As he ran up the steps to the open-air lobby, he wondered at his bad manners and blind doubt. He had pushed away the person who was the most stalwart and supportive.  Well, he would change that as soon as he found a phone.  Breathlessly reaching the main desk he identified himself as a policeman and asked for a phone.  Fumbling with speed and nervous apprehension, he automatically, without thought, dialed McGarrett’s number at the Palace from instinctive memory.  McGarrett wasn’t in, so he asked to be transferred to McGarrett’s car radio.

 

“McGarrett.”

 

“Steve, Dan.  I’ve remembered meeting Loke at the Rip Curl Room.  I mean, I went there to meet her.  That night.  I’m here now.”

 

“You’ve remembered?”

 

“I know I came here and the band -- there was a band and it was playing,” he dashed out so fast he was tongue-tied.  “The song, I’ll Remember You --“

 

“Take it easy, Danno.” 

 

The voice was solid and concerned, keen and worried.  Everything that a friend should express.  He cringed to realize he didn’t remember that from the past.  That was a new emotion.  Steve was becoming his friend.  At once, he felt dishonorable and cheated -- there was so much he was missing!  Yet, for now, it was a snug solace to know there was such a stalwart support behind him.

 

“Take it slow.”

 

“I’m going to check it out --“

 

“No you’re not!  You wait for me! I’m on my way into Waikiki right now on another case.  I’ll be there in five minutes!  Don’t move!”

 

“Steve --“

 

“Danno, I mean it!”

 

“Okay.”

 

After hanging up, reluctantly he went to the side of the desk and leaned there, waiting.  Traffic hustled past on the nearby street and the Trades blew in the diesel fumes from the big tourist busses.  Couples in matching aloha wear filed past him to and from the elevators.  The external parade was a peripheral blur as he focused inward.  Emotions and instincts were stirring inside and he recognized them as innate traits temporarily dormant, now surfacing. 

 

It was not in his nature to wait around and let others do the work for him.  What if he really did uncover something and Steve, or Chin, or Duke came and one of them got hurt because he wasn’t strong enough to handle this himself?  He stepped away, intuition directing his course to the elevators, and he stopped.  Where was he going?  Wasn’t he going to meet Loke at the bar?  Had he followed someone to the elevators?

 

Pausing at the back doorway to the lounge, he recognized someone rehearsing.  Too early for the cocktail lounge to be open, the singers and dancers were practicing.  Someone started singing a jazzed-up version of Tiny Bubbles.  He drifted into the lounge.  One of the singers sang the first verse of I’ll Remember You.  Chills coursed along his skin as the past and the present merged into a confusing plane of familiarity.

 

“Danny?”

 

Williams turned and reflexively smiled at the pretty, local girl who came up and hugged him. 

 

“Sorry I haven’t been over to see you like I promised.”

 

“That’s okay, Loke.  I just dropped in.” 

 

He stopped short of an explanation.  How had he remembered her name?  Eerily this was so similar to a memory that was struggling to surface.  Did he dare trust her?  Was she part of the events that led to his injury?  There was no evidence that anyone was still out to get him, but preservation instinct kept him silent.

 

“I have to get ready.  Want to stay for rehearsal?”

 

“Yeah,” he agreed without thinking, an echo of a former response.

 

Like following a misty channel, lighted only by a small glow of figurative beam leading the path, he was retracing a trail taken weeks ago.  The song reverberated as he seemed to move in slow motion.  Everything wound down to a pit of timeless mist as he stepped into the dimly lit lounge.

 

Loke went up on stage with the other dancers and Dan kept walking, trancelike, around the room.  He stopped at the piano, where he looked over the player’s shoulder.  Just beyond the curtain was the dressing room.  Without thinking, he allowed his sixth sense to guide him to take him on a retread journey to a past that he knew he was about to confront. 

 

The curtain parted and a small flash of redish-orange sparked against the dark of the back hallway.  Glass shattered at the bar next to him and people screamed.  He dove for the ground instinctively, only realizing as he crawled into a doorway that someone was shooting at him.  When the firing stopped, he raced forward, tearing through the curtain, then the dressing room and out the back to a narrow alley behind the hotel. 

 

Screeching tires alerted him seconds before a car barreled past, knocking trash cans into him.  He landed on his newly healing arm and heard himself cry out as he plunged into darkness. 

 

His sleep was neither restful nor long, and he was aware of the pain before anything else.  Then came the loud shouts, the slamming of doors, the chatter of people and the drone of busses and cars.  He felt someone’s strong grip holding onto his shoulder and a hand on his neck.  Blinking open his eyes, he peered into the extremely upset face of Steve McGarrett.

 

“Take it easy, Danno.”  Unsteadily, Steve breathed out a long exhale.  With a strong grip he squeezed his shoulder.  “An ambulance is on the way.”

 

It was comforting that in the moment of crisis McGarrett was there.  He knew it had happened many times before, but it was only an intellectual knowledge.  Not a memory.  And the comprehension depressed him deeply.  He wanted so much to remember the past that was filled with danger and satisfaction; caring and adventure. 

 

McGarrett’s voice was tight with anxiety.  “Are you all right?”

 

The glow of anticipation was there in the voice and in the eyes that stared so intently at him.  He was hoping the accident had jogged loose the errant memories.  McGarrett wanted those memories back as much as he did, and it was a bitter disappointment to be unable to fulfill the mutual wish.

 

Unable to admit to the failure, he blurted out, “It was a blue sedan.  Older model.  Big car.  Impala.  The left front fender was grey primer, like it had been in an accident.  I didn’t get the license number.  Sorry.”

 

Laughing in a sad, poignant way, McGarrett shook his head.  “Sounds like the cop in you isn’t off duty.”

 

“No, I guess not.” 

 

“Remember anything else?”

 

There was a deeper meaning buried in the innocent statement.  It tore him up to quietly admit, “No.  Sorry.” 

 

“You have nothing to be sorry about, Danno.  Your instincts saved your life.”  Face rippling with struggling emotions, McGarrett patted his shoulder and looked away.  “I’m proud of you.  Really proud.”  When he looked back, his face was a hard mask.  “But I told you to stay put until I arrived.”

 

“I felt compelled to go in that back room, Steve.  Almost -- well, it sounds weird, but almost as if I was reliving it -- dejavu.”  He started to sit up and McGarrett firmly held him down.

 

“You’re staying right here.”

 

“I’m all right, Steve, really.  Just sore.”

 

“You’re still waiting right here for an ambulance.  Then you’re going to the hospital for a check up.”

 

Waiting for the ambulance was another recurring memory for him.  This had happened to them before and he knew it was the part of the job he hated.  Keeping a hand on him, Steve impatiently directed officers to get statements and do their work while he stayed close.

 

 

*****

 

Entering the hospital room, Steve held his breath.  Again, a scene they had enacted all too frequently.  Dan looked up and his expression remained clouded, anxious.  Usually he at least had a wry comment or chagrined aside, but this time no recognition, just like when he woke up from his coma.  It made Steve wonder if a complete memory would ever come back.  Would Dan ever accept him as a friend again? He shut down the depressing doubts.

 

“Doc says you’re okay.  No additional damage.”

 

Williams grimaced.  “I wish there would have been.  At least to my head.”

 

“What kind of crack is that?”  The anger at the self-criticism was hot and sharp.

 

“I wish it would have knocked more loose.”

 

“It will come, Danno.  Just go easy.  Now start from the beginning and tell me everything that happened.  Every detail that you can think of.”

 

The story of the entrance into the bar was disconcerting.  Steve wanted to lecture his detective on the dangers of being a lone wolf -- something McGarrett knew plenty about.  Adversely, he was pleased and proud Dan was thinking like he used to, deducing and following instincts.

 

No more specifics came to light about the blue sedan, but they had something to go on now.  Stepping to the phone, McGarrett called Chin at the office and asked him to check on that arrest report sent in by Napali.  Who were the men involved in a fight?  Locals or visitors?  Did one of them drive a blue sedan?   Was one of them connected to Loke?  Also, he needed to check the surf instructors there and find out if they knew Mrs. Taylor.  Their investigations were suddenly converging at the Waverider.  When he hung up he was almost amused at the startled look on Dan’s face.

 

“Something troubling you, Danno?”

 

“How did you make that connection?”

 

“We don’t know if it is a connection yet.”

 

“Steve, you know what I mean!  How did you leap to the suspicion?  Do you do that all the time?”

 

“Sometimes.  It’s not that big of a jump.  You were attacked near the Sunset Reef and Waverider twice now.  You frequented the Rip Curl nightclub before.  Duke followed up with the bartender and Loke Hapa.  You were there a few times before you landed on the roof.   You made someone nervous there twice.  Unsettled enough to have him go after you.”

 

“Did Officer Napali say I had anything to do with the arrest he made?”

 

“No.  Neither did any of the witnesses Duke questioned.  Yet.  He’s tracking down tourists who have already gone home from their vacations and locals who weren’t cleared and should probably be questioned again.”

 

“Meanwhile I’m stuck in the hospital again.”

 

“Not for long.  The doc says he’ll release you tomorrow after you have an uneventful night’s sleep under observation.”

 

Williams made a sour face.  “And I suppose you’ll put a guard back at my apartment.”

 

“No.  I’m putting you at a safe house until this is over.”  Dan started to object, but McGarrett forestalled any comment.  “This is not debatable.”

 

Dan nodded glumly.  “Okay, boss man.”

 

 

*****

 

Touring Steve’s apartment, Dan whistled at the nice views and the comfortably furnished apartment.  He praised the colorful and artistic paintings on the walls that McGarrett had done.  Warmed with encouragement, McGarrett suggested Dan rest.  For the first day, at least, McGarrett was pulling personal guard duty.  He felt they were close to a solution and wouldn’t trust this to anyone else.

 

Sitting on the lanai, he studied the landscape until McGarrett joined him.  They looked out at the canal and the multi-hued cobalt and sapphire of the sky, the mottled, dark billowed clouds embracing the mountains.  The partial curves of three rainbows tangled with the mists and ridges.

 

“Thanks, Steve.”

“For what?”

 

“This.  Taking care of me.  Being my friend even when I rejected you.”

 

Steve thought about the very few times Dan had irritated or hurt him.   No comparison with the overwhelming tide of friendship, loyalty and generosity Danno displayed constantly.  “Part of the circle of ohana, Danno.”

 

“I’m sorry I doubted you.”

 

“You were confused --“

 

“Okay, I really did lose my mind,” he joked, comfortable with the pun, and it seemed, with his situation.  “I don’t know why I discarded your concern when you were trying to help me.”

 

“It’s been a tough time, Danno.  Don’t worry about it.”

 

“You don’t take resistance or praise well, do you?”  It was a rhetorical jibe and he continued with his old sincerity.  “I’ve decided that even if I never get my memory completely back it will be all right, just as you’ve been assuring me.  I’ve got you and friends and family and been totally accepted by all of you.  I --  his voice tightened.  “I hope you can understand how much it means to me.  How much I appreciate it.”

 

Nodding, Steve didn’t want to speak, sure his emotions would tumble out.  Instead, he patted Dan’s shoulder.

 

“Why rock the boat?” Dan added with a weak attempt at humor.

 

“Yeah,” Steve agreed warmly, relieved his persistence was paying off.  “But I’m still not giving up.”

 

“I wouldn’t expect you to.  Thanks.” 

 

The readable expressions were back, too, he noted with pleasure.  And Danno had something -- perplexing -- on his mind.  They appreciatively meditated the scenery, appreciating the silence.  He waited until Williams hesitantly spoke.

 

“Steve, just so you know -- I came to these brilliant (sarcastically toned, Steve noted wryly) deductions before I was nearly killed.  Again.  I just wanted you to know.”

 

“That’s fine,” Steve smiled, figuring it was transparent that he didn’t care when or how these decisions came about, just that Danno was feeling them.

 

“This sounds lame, I know,” the younger officer confessed with embarrassment, “but I didn’t want you to think I was just being desperate and grasping for my friends now that I was in trouble again.”

 

“Danno, it’s okay.  As long as you’re feeling better about all of us.”  Not sure what to say, just buzzing with joy at the positive turnabout, he turned to go inside. He didn’t want his emotions to spill out too overtly, and kept his voice level.  “We’re just glad about this new attitude.”

 

“Are you leaving?”

 

The tone clearly indicated he did not like that.  McGarrett spun back.  “I don’t have to,” he replied casually.  He had not informed his friend HE was the bodyguard today.  Maybe he wouldn’t have to be a sentinel.  Maybe he could visit as a friend.  “Shall I stay?”

 

“If you don’t mind.”

 

McGarrett pulled up a chair by the table.  “Sure.”

 

“Maybe you could run some theories by me.  Let me know what you’re thinking about all this.”

 

It was an invitation he had longed to hear.  He started from the beginning and let Danno know everything about his case.

 

 

*****

 

 

Pleased his friend was enthusiastic about working on his own case, McGarrett had reports sent over and had detectives drop in with updates.  Sitting at the dining room table, papers were spread over the wood in neat piles. 

 

Not knowing what to look for at first, Dan sorted through some of the statements and soon fell into the work just like old times.  Coming in late to the Taylor murder and blackmail, Steve had to explain everything to his fried, but that helped to clarify his own thoughts on the case.  Both agreed their search was narrowing down to the beach surfers at or near the Waverider . 

 

While they were looking for clues to Taylor’s murder, Dan expressed an interest in his own case and it was agreed that later they would go to the Palace and spend the evening looking at the big picture for his investigation; going over evidence, theories and the latest status with Chin and Duke.

 

McGarrett took a break, leaning on the lanai railing, surprised to see long shadows cast across the Ala Wai by the hotels and apartment buildings.  Down by the McCully Street bridge he spotted two outriggers slowly paddling in this direction.  Canoe practice already?  He glanced at his watch, surprised it was nearly six.  

 

“Danno, do you know what time it is?”

 

Preoccupied, Williams mumbled something, then let out a startled cry.

 

“Steve!  Here’s an ID of the owner of a blue Chevy Impala.”  Excitement bubbling, he jumped to his feet and brought two papers onto the lanai.  “The guy works at the Waverider as a surf instructor, and also waits tables for the luau!  Steve, he drives a blue Impala!”

 

McGarrett looked over the pages and nodded, catching the enthusiasm of his colleague.  It had been under their noses all along?  But all the pieces still didn’t fit.

 

“Are you suggesting the murder of Taylor and your attack are connected to a guy at the Waverider?”

 

“Yeah -- I -- yeah, it sounds far-fetched -- “

 

“No, Danno, go with your instincts.  Remember I was looking for a connection?  You are the connection.”

 

Did Danno see Taylor that night at the Rip Curl?  Was she with someone?  One of the beach boys that Mrs. Taylor liked to invite to the house?  Maybe having an argument with a disgruntled boyfriend that was being dropped?  All speculation, but he liked the direction they were going.  The theory would explain why Taylor was killed and why Danno’s appearance at the nightclub made someone nervous.  If it was right, then his two cases were really one.

 

“How?”

 

“You were helping me on the blackmail case.  In the first meeting, you were with me as I walked from the Capitol to the Palace.  Someone could have seen you with me and Taylor.  This --  he looked at the sheet.  “This Carl Palani.  If he saw you with Taylor, then a day or two later you were hanging around the Rip Curl, he might have panicked.”

 

“Yeah.”  A calm came over Williams, a peace underlying the thrill of finding the answers.  It was the serenity of knowing he was almost home.  “This feels so right.”

 

McGarrett threw an arm around his shoulders.  “It is, Danno.  You’ve been thinking like a cop all along.  Your instincts never left.  I know your memory is coming back -- it’s so close now.”

 

“Let’s go find this guy --“

 

 “No way --“ Backing off, Steve was adamant.  “Not a chance I’m endangering --“

 

“Steve, this is my case --“

 

“No --“

 

“My life!”

 

McGarrett fumed, but knew what they both had to do.  Dan had to be in on the dénouement of this.  It might be the ingredient that would jog his memory completely back into place.  Steve had to accept that risk -- live with the danger to his friend -- and do everything to safeguard him.

 

“Okay, Danno, but only with serious protection.  I’ll get back up and we’ll get this guy’s home address --“

 

“He’ll be at work now.”

 

Shaking his head, McGarrett let out a thin sigh.  “Okay, Danno, but you stick with me.  You’re going into the lion’s den unarmed, figuratively speaking since you don’t have a memory of your adversary.”  He strode into his bedroom and returned with a .45 automatic.  “But not literally.”  He handed it to Williams.

 

Dan checked the clip, which was fully loaded, and nodded.  “Okay.  I promise I’ll be careful.”

 

Steve phoned the office and arranged back up to meet them at the Waverider.  An HPD unit was sent to Palani’s home just in case he was not at work.  In a few minutes they were across Waikiki and speeding up to Kalia Avenue.  McGarrett’s nerves were on high alert, part of his mind regretting the decision to bring Danno along.  Another part of him thrilled with the anticipation this might be the culminating experience to jolt Williams’ memory back into place.

 

Other police units had not yet arrived, and McGarrett hesitated to go in without them.  Williams made the decision for him when he left the car and jogged toward the hotel.  Steve rushed after him, catching up in the lobby.

 

“Stick close, remember?  We better wait.”

 

Nervous, Williams objected, but could not win an argument against an adamant McGarrett.  The boss went to the desk and asked that Security Chief McGrath meet them. 

 

“Steve!”

 

He turned to see Williams running off toward the show lounge and he sped after him.  In the big room, weaving between tables, toward the stage, was Loke Hapa.  Almost at the end of the room, by the performer’s side entrance, Williams caught her by the arm.  At the same instant McGarrett saw someone move the curtain at the back of the stage and a small piece of metal reflected in the dim lights.

 

“Danno!  Down!”  He shouted the warning as he crouched and drew his gun.  All actions, reactions and words tumbling together.  “Gun!”

 

Thankfully, Williams still had quick reflexes, because he went down as soon as McGarrett sounded the warning, but he didn’t know if Danno had been hit or not.

 

At nearly the same instant pops echoed, the pinging sound of metal on metal hitting close.  Returning fire toward the curtain brought more shots.  Next to him, the back of a wooden chair exploded with a loud crack. 

 

Then it was over.  The silence broken by his heavy breathing.

 

“Danno?”

 

“Steve.  You okay?”

 

“Yeah.  You?”  He scrambled over, crouching low but moving fast to close the distance.  Williams was still on the ground and that worried him.  “Danno?”

 

Grimacing in pain, Dan struggled to get up, protectively holding onto his left arm.  Blood covered his arm and shirt.

 

“You’re hit.”

 

Surprise creased his face and he tenderly felt his arm.  Shaking his head, he gazed at the still woman next to him.  “No.  My arm’s just sore.  It’s Loke.  She’s been hit, but she’s still alive.” 

 

McGarrett stared at the unmoving curtain for a moment.   “You stay here.  Don’t move.” 

 

He dashed over to the stage and paused, listening, trying to sense anyone on the other side.  Then he rushed through, backstage.  It was dark, with shapes barely discernable in the dim light reflected from a door far in the rear.  He cautiously edged toward the exit.  Concurrently he heard a scrape as he sensed someone to his right and he swung the gun to aim, only to hit a solid object.  Pushed against the wall, he struggled to get his revolver free to take a shot at his attacker.  Instead, the assailant wedged him into a corner and pushed a gun to his neck.

 

“Hold it, Palani!” came Danno’s voice.

 

The room seemed to waiver in an unstable shimmer, and the color washed away.  He thought he was going to faint, or fall over, but the disorientation lasted only seconds as he realized he was remembering.  Really remembering.  Flash-memories when Steve was in peril and he had come to the rescue:-Steve held hostage by the cons at the prison.

 

Palani’s hand shook as he pressed the barrel of the gun into Steve’s cheek.  “Drop the gun, cop!  Drop it now or I blow him away!”

 

Dan kept his aim dead steady on Palani.  At the edge of his vision he saw Steve’s determined, angry countenance.  There was no fear there.  In his mind’s eye came other recollections and instances of friendship and support came in the next breath:

 

Steve at his side when Jane was killed.  When he was shot up at the bunker on Diamond Head.  Steve never losing faith when he was accused of shooting a teenager.   When he had been shot and held hostage in the hospital, Steve was there like a madman trying to save him.

 

Enduring through a lot.  Supporting Steve.  The friendship growing:  Steve shot numerous times; blinded, injured, temporarily paralyzed.  The crises crowed into his brain in overwhelming kaelidoscopes of color and intensity and vibrant, shocking emotion.  The wounds.  The parties.  Time off sailing.  Chasing suspects.  Tennis.  Car chases.

 

It was all there, in a heartbeat’s instant of time -- the highs and lows; the emotional extremes of pain and fear, of fun and excitement.  The disparate particles of camaraderie that made up a friendship he had temporarily forgotten.

 

Drawing a deep breath, Williams refocused on Palani, rooted in the secure knowledge of who he was, of who he was trying to save.  Solid in his faith that Dan Williams, Hawaii Five-0 cop, had returned.  And he was going to save the life of his mentor, chief and friend, Steve McGarrett.

 

Barely visible in the dull light, Dan Williams held the .45 in a rock steady hand, pointing it at Palani.  Then, suddenly, like the waves washing against the sand, came a tide of emotion that swept across Williams’ face, paling the features under the dim lighting. 

 

Shaking, Dan darted a look at him and Steve knew something had changed.  Intense feelings nearly overpowered the troubled detective.

 

Then there came a look of determination and confidence moving across the younger man’s face.  A set solidity of fortitude and purpose that rocketed McGarrett’s own coolness.  Palani’s grip slackened just a fraction and McGarrett moved to the right, knocking the gun off his neck.  In the next heartbeat a shot cracked and echoed even as Palani’s head was thrown back, blood splattering over everything.

 

 “Steve!” Dan urgently cried, grabbing onto McGarrett, pulling him away from the body sliding down the wall.  “Are you all right?” 

 

“Yeah.”

 

Williams touched his face and neck, assuring the blood was secondary, not McGarrett’s.  Shaky with relief and elation, ignoring the violent and messy actions, he gripped onto Dan’s shoulders.

 

“You remembered.”  McGarrett put a supportive arm around his shoulders.  “I knew in the way you acted -- how you leveled the gun at him.  Your expression -- everything about you changed suddenly.  I could see in your eyes you knew who you were and what you had to do.”   

 

“Yeah,” Williams confirmed, a bit breathless.  “I -- it all suddenly hit me like a wave.  When he had the gun on you -- the memories and all  -- everything about my life just slammed into me!”  Weakly, Dan dropped down to sit on the floor.  Steve bent down with him, noting his colleague’s white face and shaky hands, sympathetically patting him on the shoulder.  “It’s all right, Danno.  It’s over.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Take a minute.”  Steve breathed in a shaky laugh that was almost giddy, amazed himself that the long predicted memory return occurred in such a dramatic fashion.  “It must be a little disorienting to have it all rush up to you like this.”

 

“Yeah, crazy.”

 

You going to be all right?”

 

“Yeah.  Now.  I -- Steve -- I can’t believe --“

 

Still holding onto Williams’ arm, McGarrett ascertained the man was dead and took possession of the pistol that had fallen from his hand.  Then he seized his friend with a steadying hold on Dan’s shoulders.

 

“Hey, that’s my .22!” Dan said beside him.

 

“Now we know what happened to it.”

 

“He almost killed you with my .22!”

 

“But he didn’t,” McGarrett patted him on the back.  “You saved me.”

 

Williams sighed with wonder and shaky emotion.  “I remembered everything.”

 

“Yeah.  Welcome home, Danno.”

 

The lights came on, brightly illuminating the macabre scene.  McGrath, Lukela and Kelly rushed in and McGarrett ordered them to call the police and an ambulance.   The moment was broken and irritated, he questioned his friend again, but whatever Danno was going to say he changed his mind.

 

 

 

EPILOG

 

 

“It all came back to me like slamming into a wall.  Steve and I were being threatened.  You know that saying -- your life flashes before your eyes right before you die?   It all suddenly rushed into my head in one wave, like a tsunami.”

 

“Amazing.”

 

It was a little surreal.  After weeks of the altered reality of an absent Williams, now he was back at the Palace, completely normal, like a replay of a hundred other scenes.  In McGarrett’s office, sipping coffee, sitting in the white chairs in front of the big desk.  Incident reports were scattered on the desk top.  The lanai doors let in the warm night breeze.  Distantly traffic sounds drifted in with the humid night air.  Normal.  Ordinary.  Typical. 

 

How much Steve had missed these moments.  He wanted to stay here all night and absorb the routine, press it into his memory.  The great thing was, that when he came back tomorrow, and for many, many more tomorrows, he hoped, every day would be just like this.  Just as it was supposed to be around here.  Standard police work.  Comfortable camaraderie.  Life could not get much better. 

 

Chin and Duke listened to the reverie with rapt attention.  They had heard bits and pieces before, but this was the first time the four detectives could meet in a quiet moment and assess the last stressful weeks of their lives.

 

“So it suddenly came to you about Palani and Taylor.”

 

“He was arguing with Taylor.  And he saw me.  He must have planned on killing her and couldn’t afford to let Five-0 make the connection between them.  And then Steve remembered I had been with him during that initial interview.  Well, not with him.”

 

“Close enough that a distant observer could mistake you for being involved.  Which is what Palani did.

 

After Chin and Duke left, Williams pensively stepped out on the lanai and stared out at the small lamps dotted around the Palace grounds.  They cast little pools of light stretching across the dark lawns of the night-shrouded square.

 

“I remember everything I did and thought and said during my amnesia.”

 

“That shouldn’t be a problem,” McGarrett assured, joining his friend and leaning on one of the pillars.

 

“I didn’t want to come back.”

 

“If my life had been erased, I wouldn’t want to either.  But you didn’t falter, Danno.  You didn’t reject being a cop, or this life, not really.  You were uncertain and lost, trying to find your way back home.”

 

Williams shook his head and laughed.  “You never give up.”

 

“Never.”

 

“I remember this conversation.”

 

“I hope so.”

 

“I didn’t mention it to the others, but you know what really triggered my memory?  A song.”

 

Intrigued, McGarrett asked.  With an odd, distant quality to his voice, Dan spoke the famous Don Ho song with an ironic, emotional tone.  I’ll Remember You.”  His chuckle was laced with tight emotion, too.  “And I’m very happy I did.” His voice thickening, he sighed.  “Thanks for showing me the way home, Steve.”

 

McGarrett patted him on the back, pulling him close, promising he would always be there to direct his friend.  No matter what.

 

 

PAU