by GM



Shading a hand over his eyes to block the glare of the stark Hawaiian sun, Steve McGarrett studied the men gathered at the railing of the ship, awaiting the Shore Patrol escorts securing the gangplank to the ship. The Chinese diplomat and his security people stood next to some HPD officers. Hummel sat on the deck, handcuffed, a vigilant Dan Williams overseeing the rich man's custody. Everyone in the party seemed stunned by events -- including McGarrett. The last half-hour seemed too surprising to be true. When Williams' joined the sightseeing group off the coast of Waikiki, the younger detective seemed mad, insisting they were all about to be killed.


McGarrett's lip twitched an involuntary reaction to his self-irritation. In the initial crisis of Williams' warnings, McGarrett had disbelieved his officer. When Williams wanted to shoot the Navy boat approaching them, McGarrett stopped him even though McGarrett's own instincts knew the intruder had no business being so close to the diplomatic party. When Hummel tried to kill the Chinaman, the danger finally sunk in, but it would have been much too late if Williams hadn't saved the day. Steve had never suspected Hummel, the diplomat's old friend and host, of plotting vengeful murder. The oversight nearly got them all killed.


Chinese delegation safely away, McGarrett followed Williams and Hummel to shore where Chin Ho Kelly waited to whisk Hummel to HPD for booking. Settling the suspect into the back seat, Kelly asked after Williams. Just hours before Dan had been sent home, under protest, on medical leave because of head injuries and amnesia. Now the younger officer was escorting a suspect.


"Chin, book Mr. Hummel. Attempted murder for starters. I think we'll have more before the end of the day." He tugged at Williams' sleeve. "Danno, you're still on leave."


Dan backed away from the sedan and watched as Chin and Ben drove away with the criminal. "I'm okay now, Steve."


McGarrett gestured to the still healing scrapes on his colleague's head. "Like I said, you're still on leave. Come on, I'll give you a lift home."


Grimacing, Dan accepted the orders with a shrug disappointment.


Still irritated at himself, McGarrett analyzed the problem as they walked in silence along the dock. Where had the famous McGarrett instincts been today? Why had he doubted his best officer -- one he normally trusted with his life? In a moment of crisis he had shown Dan -- and the others -- he lacked faith in Williams. Honestly, he was surprised Dan was still talking to him after his blatant breach of faith. What had he been thinking?


Too many times in his various careers he had rhetorically asked that question of subordinates who failed to meet his high and exacting standards. His pompous reply was always that they were not thinking when they fell short of the mark. That was his only defense now -- he had not been thinking.


With a chill incongruous with the tropical heat of the day, he understood exactly what had happened. Since the other day when he'd received the bleak news that Dan was injured and enroute to the hospital, Steve wasn't sure he'd been thinking clearly at all. Certainly confusion and distress gripped his thoughts when he saw Dan's scraped, unconscious body exiting the ambulance -- when he learned Dan suffered from amnesia and no amount of bullying suddenly snapped his friend out of mental limbo.


Since those unnerving moments Steve had been in a kind of limbo himself: suffering a related malady of his own, distracted and disturbed that his friend had been nearly killed by unknown assailants. Robbed of memory, Williams could so easily have been robbed of his life. Tediously, piece by piece he had demanded Williams rebuild events, reconstruct the memory to solve the puzzle -- as much for Dan's peace of mind as for Steve's.


Slowly they dug out clues until Williams was able to complete the solution on his own. It really was an act of personal triumph. Detractingly, at the moment of crisis McGarrett had doubted his friend's sanity and nearly lost their lives. Perhaps there was no excuse for his irrationality, but at least he had an explanation.


Reaching McGarrett's Mercury, Steve stopped at the door. "Danno, you saved our lives today. Good work."


Williams' shrug reflected his modesty. "I'm just glad I have my memory back. Once I fit all the pieces together, I remembered everything."


"Yeah, me too." McGarrett resisted the urge to end it there. He owed his friend more than a simple brush off. "Back there on the ship, Danno. I should have believed you when you wanted to fire on that Navy boat. I shouldn't have stopped you. It could have killed us all."


Thanks to his innately reasonable nature, Dan just smiled, almost embarrassed. "I've been a little off-balance lately, Steve. No wonder you didn't trust me."


Williams moved to open the door, but McGarrett blocked him from getting in the car.


"I was the one off-balance to doubt you, Danno. How else could I explain my actions? It never seemed too wild to believe men were chasing you, threatening you. I'm sorry I didn't believe you."


Williams rubbed the sweat from his face. "You did, though, after the initial surprise of my dramatic entrance. And you were the only one who believed those men had chased me -- shot at me up on Koko Head."


A shiver slid up Steve's spine at the memory of how close he came to losing Dan to those murderous conspirators. So near had been the slightly different reality -- the possibility of arriving at the hospital to find Williams dead instead of injured. "It wasn't too much to ask -- to believe -- your memory returned -- and with it the understanding of what you saw that you weren't supposed to see."


Limbo -- an abstract existence -- a place of confusion and pain. Limbo -- a place where might-have-beens and fearful speculation dwelled right next to reality.


Again, the remembrance of the hospital, the pacing of the familiar corridors, waiting to hear if his friend would live, and if his friend would recollect his life. All too clearly Steve recalled his own brief, terrifying brush with slight amnesia after a car accident [episode -- NINETY-SECOND WAR]. Danno's amnesia had been much more serious and the implicated danger much greater. The fear had been Steve's reality then, not the important case and important people he was assigned to protect -- but his officer, whom he could not really protect from the threats surrounding them.


"So next time I do something crazy you'll think twice before throwing me out of your office?"


The ironic speculation brought a brief grin to McGarrett's pursed lips. "Let's hope there's no next time to worry about."


McGarrett opened the door then crossed to the driver's side of the sedan. As they drove along the docks Williams wondered at the hate bottled up in Hummel to construct such an intricate plot of murder and revenge. Both officers sobered at how personal the random vengeance had turned out -- how close to home it hit for Five-0.