LIVE AND LET DIE
mahalo BH for contributions and editing
Well before roll call for the morning shift at HPD, Sergeant Duke Lukela entered the squad room. Perusing the update sheet from the overnight crime list, he quickly scanned over the various criminal activities that had taken place in Honolulu in the nocturnal hours. Automatically, with a practiced, seasoned eye, honed through many experienced years, he assessed important items worthy to be mentioned at the briefing prior to day-shift patrols hitting the streets. Approaching the duty officer, Lieutenant Tanaka, he halted when he heard his name gruffly barked from the doorway.
Turning, his face a placid mask when facing his superior, Chief of HPD, Grover, he responded, “Yes, sir?”
“Got a tip just now from one of those newspaper flunkies down at the Bulletin. Says some long-haired rock and roll freak named McCartney is flying in from Japan tomorrow. He’s in a band and they were just ousted out of Tokyo for drugs.”
Lukela nodded, pondering the information. The name of the musician sounded familiar but he couldn’t place it. More relevant to his expertise was the jurisdictional fall out of HPD rousting a visiting celebrity – at the airport – on hearsay information from a reporter.
Grover, a big, blustery veteran cop who came out of the service in WWII with the attitude of busting heads first and asking questions second, was ready for battle. Now the leader of HPD, he found it hard to stuff his personal attitudes inside the narrow box of what was sagacious for civil rights and the media purposes, or anyone who was anti-cop. Grover cut corners when he could and seemed to land HPD into a lot of unsavory headlines. All reasons to be unhappy with the man in charge. The main reason the big boss did not earn Lukela’s respect, though, was his ongoing, very public feud, with Steve McGarrett.
Lukela had served with McGarrett in Korea and learned first hand the honorable integrity of the man who eventually came to Hawaii and organized the state police unit. Considering the head of Five-0 above reproach, and a leader to be respected and followed, Lukela was sometimes at odds with Grover. As liaison between HPD and Five-0, the sergeant frequently found himself in the middle of two titans struggling for control of Honolulu law enforcement. While he would rather stand on the side of McGarrett, the uniform he wore and the paycheck he collected compelled him to serve Grover’s orders.
“This snitch says if we search the plane we’ll make a big bust. Gonna teach these weirdoes what for when they come to these islands!”
Visions of a nasty domino effect of bad publicity for his island home and his organization filtering through his mind, Lukela thought fast, grasping for a way to avoid the up coming heavy-handed disaster. “Wouldn’t this fall under Five-0’s jurisdiction?” he asked as neutrally as possible.
Growling, Grover stuffed the stub of a chewed up, smoldering cigar in his mouth and chomped down, the jaws grinding out his frustration at the name of his rivals. “Five-0! So they can get all the credit?”
Lukela shrugged with non-committal ease. “Just asking, sir. They usually handle the touchy cases involving celebrities and international law.”
Continuing to growl, the Chief considered the input. “Yeah,” he grumbled before his pudgy face brightened. “Yeah! Right, Sergeant. Let McGarrett have this headache! It has all the markings of a snafu on wheels!” He turned a toothy, non-benevolent smile on the officer. “In fact, why don’t you go over to the Palace and tell his royal highness McGarrett all about it right after roll call.”
“Yes, sir,” Duke acknowledged levelly, then spun back to complete his duties.
Covertly he released a sigh, unhappy to be the go-between for two leaders who could not get along. Pleased, however, that he averted a possible catastrophe where he would be caught in the middle. At least now, McGarrett would have the case in his hands and whatever happened it would be fair for all concerned. Not that the head of Five-0 was immune to heavy-handedness while performing his job, Lukela almost smiled, but it was an entirely different version than the blunt, indelicate method of Grover.
Morning at the offices of Hawaii Five-0 was as hectic as any other time of the day. The teletype machine was clacking away, echoing loudly within the walls of the historic, Royal Palace. Chin Ho Kelly, a chubby Oriental, was hovering over the machine, chewing on an unlit pipe, when Lukela entered. The sergeant greeted the detective, and as he passed by the cubicles set against the wall of the outer anteroom, he noted all were empty. At her desk, the secretary, Jenny Sherman, was on the phone and gave him a smile and waved him through to the door behind her – Steve McGarrett’s private domain. He didn’t have to ask permission, or explain his business.
The familiarity and ohana atmosphere warmed him. It was so much nicer over here than at HPD. Not that HPD was a problem, the regular force had been his home base for his entire career and was filled with friends, but stress had increased significantly since Grover came on as the Chief. Here at the Palace, there were friendly people, directed by a brilliant and amazing leader that he admired greatly. There was a down side, too, he reminded as he politely knocked on the door.
McGarrett had offered him a chance to join this elite unit a few years back when Kono Kalakaua resigned. Weighing the long hours of hard work with his relatively structured schedule at HPD, he regretfully declined. His first duty was to his family, and with three sons, he needed value-time to be at home and help raise them. It had been a disappointment to McGarrett, but, always a man of honor, who understood responsibility, he did not hold it against Lukela. Rather, it earned the sergeant even more respect in his eyes.
Stepping into the center of power for the state police, Duke returned the greetings of the men in the room. Ben Kokua, a tall, broad, Samoan ex-football player, was standing by the corkboard pinning up a mug shot and identifying a criminal. Danny Williams, the second-in-command of the unit, the youngest on the team, was sitting on the edge of the big wood desk, angled toward the boss.
McGarrett, appearing crisp, vigorous, and authoritative in a vibrantly dark blue suit over a light blue shirt, gave a nod as he swiveled in his chair. Obviously pondering a case, his eyes were bright with the crackling intelligence behind the blue barriers. Visibly, it took him a moment to break the concentration from their current discussion and focus on the HPD officer.
“What brings you over, Duke?”
Trying not to show too much of his annoyance at the errand, he objectively reported the rumor of the visiting rock band with a guy named McCartney. At the mention of the name, Williams smiled and shook his head in a rueful and amused manner. Kokua whistled.
McGarrett exchanged a wry glance with Williams and then smiled at Duke. “The guy named McCartney is not just a rock band member, Duke. He’s a Beatle.”
Williams smirked. “The British band, the Beatles.”
“The four kids with long hair,” Kokua clarified. “Yeah, yeah, yeah?” he quoted in hope of sparking recognition.
Duke shrugged, not really interested, but placing the rock and rollers. “Okay. When I hear long-haired music I still think of old dead guys with the name of von-something, who played the piano .”
McGarrett outright laughed at the comment.
Joining in, the youngest officer smirked, ”Well, the Beatles are richer than all of us put together will ever hope to be.”
Lukela shook his head. “My idea of a singer is Sandy Manoa. Local boy spreading Hawaiian tunes across the country and making a name for himself – now that’s a real musician. Anybody else I wouldn’t know.”
Williams smiled and shook his head. “You know, Paul just did that song for the James Bond movie. More money,” he rolled his eyes.
“Glad you keep up on that kind of thing, Danny,” Duke surrendered, clearly indifferent at the irrelevant information.
“Didn’t know you were sneaking out to catch spy movies, Danno,” the chief grinned. “All I know is they’re brilliant musicians,” McGarrett complimented thoughtfully, then quickly snapped back to an official mindset. “What do we know about this drug stuff?” he questioned Williams with a wry smile before he humorously accused, “You’re the office expert on gossip and society trivia.”
The younger detective didn’t even hesitate, the facts readily available from his excellent memory for details. “All the former Beatles have had run-ins with law enforcement over drugs and protests. They’ve been kicked out of a few countries. All kinds of stuff like that, but minor beefs. Pot, sit-ins, that kind of thing.”
Duke was not impressed with specifics. “I just know what Grover was told. Coconut wireless puts the band as a bunch of druggies coming into our taro patch.”
“This could be on the level,” Chin considered, catching up on the conversation when he entered. “You’ve tied up the drug trade pretty tight on this rock, boss. “People with money scratching for drugs just like the little dopers.”
“Yeah,” he agreed thoughtfully, obviously pleased with the reminder of Five-0’s heavy-handed and successful campaign to rid their paradise of the worst of the drug problem sweeping America. “Who is Grover’s source?” the boss wondered.
Kokua and Lukela exchanged knowing glances. Ben, the newest Five-0 detective to come over from HPD, was the one to admit, “Marty Kona is always trying to get on his good side.”
Nodding, McGarrett issued instructions. Efficiently doling out assignments, he took over the case with an easy transition. Ben was assigned, along with Duke and Chin, to check out informants. Danny was to find out what had happened in Japan and if the band might be looking for drugs once they landed here.
Ben and Chin started on the high end of their informant list. Believing a famous rock and roller like McCartney would only deal with the cream of tourist society, they drove to Waikiki. The local music industry, in it’s evolution from traditional, big-band era styles to a new Hawaiian renaissance, was exploding with talent. Native Islanders were harkening back to their roots along with much of the rest of Western society – going back to their cultural ties. Transitioning from the old standard melodies penned by mainland Hollywood writers and sung by Bing Crosby or Elvis, music now was homegrown with lots of ukulele, slack key and native rhythm.
The detectives’ snitch of choice this morning was a bus boy at Duke’s Longboard Grill in the heart of Waikiki. Working days, Tiki Jones bussed tables to pay the bills, but a budding musician nights, he played in clubs for little or no pay. To supplement his meager income, he also worked on the side as a police informant, feeding the cops juicy tidbits in exchange for a little cash. His tips were never big, but usually accurate and he had become a favorite of the Five-0 detectives.
Ben stood at a just-vacated table near the kitchen doors while Chin leaned against a wall and filled his pipe. Within moments, Tiki sailed into the restaurant area to the cluttered table. He didn’t give a hint that he knew the two men in business suits – dressed much too formally for a beachside morning at a tourist café.
“Excuse me, sir,” the long-haired young man said as he placed a plastic tub on a chair and started to remove dishes.
“We need a lead on the drug scene for malihini,” Ben began in a low voice.
“People in the music business looking for local pakalolo,” Chin clarified, drawing closer. “Maybe something harder.”
Tiki shrugged. “Don’t know nothing. Last year after those crazy guys from the mainland came and trashed the Shell, HPD sending plenty pilikia to any visiting bands, yeah? I’ll check up for you.” Finished clearing the table, he wiped it down.
The two detectives exchanged grim looks, vividly remembering a rock and roll group from California who finished their concert and stay in Waikiki with vandalizing the performance venue and their hotel suite. The bad press had lead to several rock concerts being cancelled and a general Island distrust of the hard-sounding, violent tread in mainland music. Such an incident just fueled the fire for more local talent and Hawaii creating its own musical standards.
Chin slipped some folded bills in Tiki’s pocket. “You get more if you come up with something.”
Straightening, in a louder voice, the young man pointed to a row of tables near a bamboo railing next to the sand. “You gentlemen might be mo’ happy with a view,” he smiled politely. Under his breath, he suggested, “Sit over by the walkway on the Diamond Head side. See that booth there? Roger Simon is the guy with the light hair and the mustache. Malihini from LA. Staying across the street at the Surf. Eats here twice a day. He’s checking out locals for maybe some record deals. Anybody here connected with malihini talent it would be him.”
“Thanks for the idea,” Ben countered in a voice likely to be picked up by customers nearby. “Here’s a little something for your trouble.” He dropped a few bills on the table. “Why would you turn in somebody who could help you with your music?” Ben wondered in a whisper.
Scowling, Tiki replied, “He don’t like ukes, bruddah. Wants somethin’ mo’ jazzy. Don’t want his kind ‘round here. Thinks we need electric guitars to play music,” he sniffed. He stuffed the extra money in his pocket and slipped away.
Smirking, Chin strolled over to the tables near the beach and took a booth next to the record executive. The officers ordered light breakfasts and did a lot of eavesdropping while slowly eating and watching the sun play off the morning waves of Waikiki. They heard various comments from the tourist about the girls; the bright and glistening sunrays sparkling on the mellow, blue water, the surfers dancing with the ocean. The food was excellent and both detectives over-indulged with the specialty macadamia nut muffins. Not once during the meal did they overhear anything related to drugs or McCartney.
Receiving a coherent report from the Tokyo police was easier ordered than accomplished. Williams worked through an interpreter and described his investigation. The English-speaking officer knew nothing of the former Beatle, and went in search of those who would. In a triangular conversation where Dan was not sure if his explanations were clear to the last party on the other end, he kind-of talked to an officer responsible for visiting dignitaries. The man had no knowledge of McCartney being in the country.
Frustrated with the red tape and thin communications, Dan called Sergeant Nick Kamekona from HPD and went over his mission. The sergeant came to the Palace and made a few calls from Dan’s phone, speaking in the language native to some of his forefathers, and having a lot more luck on the Tokyo angle than the Five-0 second-in-command. Shifting through some paperwork while half-listening to Nick, he guessed that this whole caper might be a wild goose chase.
When Nick finished, he confirmed the thought. No former Beatle had been in Japan recently – not since some of the ex-Fab Four created huge controversies with their drug use the previous year. Thanking his friend, Dan walked over to McGarrett’s office and entered, slipping through the door as he noted Nick ambling over to sit on the edge of Jenny’s desk. Smiling, he closed McGarrett’s door and did an automatic visual sweep of the digital desk clock, which put them at nearly noon – hours of wasted time on this phantom case.
Blowing out a sigh of irritation, he sat on a corner of the desk and related his lack of findings to the boss. Then he added his suspicion that there was no case here at all.
Swiveling in his chair, tapping the end of a pen on the desk, the leader wondered, “So who is coming in looking for drugs whose name is McCartney?”
Barely ahead of his superior, but knowing how McGarrett’s mind worked, Dan was able to report, “I double checked with the airlines. There is no McCartney on an incoming from Japan for today or tomorrow. I’m trying some variations. Also running flight manifests through HPD to see if we have some other drug-related cons coming in.”
“Good, Danno.” Throwing out a few theories about what they might be looking for – a different rock band – someone with a name like McCartney – he felt they still needed to pursue this trail. Heavy drug buyers were big fish he would love to catch before they swam loose in his waters. “Go talk to Marty Kona about his sources.”
“Marty? He hates me!”
“He hates all cops, Danno, don’t feel singled out.”
The second-in-command knew an order when he heard it, but this one he did not like. “Betcha he won’t tell me anything,” he stalled.
Amused, McGarrett stopped his distracted scanning of papers and really studied his officer. There was something in his associate’s tone that made him take notice. An indefinable connection between them that made it easy to sense ideas and feelings almost to the point of their own brand of extrasensory perception.
“What are you thinking, Danno?”
“Not sure,” the younger man shrugged, seriously pondering the question. “I know I don’t trust Marty.”
“I don’t either.” The newspaper reporter, who had come here a few years ago from Chicago, was a thorn in the side of civic leaders throughout the state of Hawaii. Making it a personal agenda to attack law enforcement specifically, Marty had an ongoing feud with anyone supporting the cops. “He loves to slam us, but we’ve made him print retractions more often than not. That he’s trying to be Grover’s buddy makes me highly suspicious, too.” His smile was thin. “That makes you the perfect one to go irritate him into revealing what is going on.”
Rolling his eyes, Williams nodded. “Into the lion’s den. You owe me for this, Steve,” he sighed as he turned and left without enthusiasm.
When Williams walked into the common room of the Honolulu Advertiser, he felt the stares move like a wave toward him. As he walked past desks, he heard the ripple of verbal surf as the employees noted the remarkable event of a Five-0 officer entering their domain. The reaction was enough to get the attention of a short, scruffy-faced man with horn-rimmed glasses and thinning hair. His desk was piled with mounds of papers and almost hidden, as was the littler man. Looking up from his typing, Martin Conrad, AKA Marty Kona, squinted through the smoke curling from the stubby cigarette dangling from his mouth. The mainland transplant looked like every stereotype of journalist since the nineteen twenties. Sleeves rolled up, hacking away with two fingers at the electric typewriter, the man icily glared at the officer until the Five-0 representative came to stand at the side of the desk.
“Well, look who’s come to grace my –”
“All right, Marty,” Williams sighed. “You know why I’m here. Just tell me what you know about this tip you gave to Grover.”
The man’s squint turned into a vile glare for a moment. Then he turned to the typewriter and continued plucking away. “Don’t know what –”
Williams ripped the paper out of the machine.
Scanning the paper, the officer nodded his head. “Hmmm, an uninteresting piece on the new development in Makaha,” he dryly stated. “Maybe this explains why you want to be good buddies with Grover. You feed him a tip on a big drug bust, and maybe he’ll give you something useful for a story. So you can get back to the glamorous beat of covering real news instead of the Sunday morning sideline on Hawaii’s latest real estate developments.”
“I really hate cops,” he spat.
“The feeling’s mutual. Tell me what you know about the big drug deal coming down.”
Scoffing, he snatched up a newspaper and tauntingly pretended he was reading an article. His voice dripped of vitriol. “The great and glorious Hawaii Five-0, and their puppets, HPD, have tied up the serious drugs coming into the paradise state. No dopers can get a fix to save their lives. Literally.” He blew a huge puff of smoke toward the detective. “End of story, hot shot.”
Marty had turned his investigative reporting into persecution of Five-0 and HPD, to the point where the paper was threatened with libel suits from both organizations, the District Attorney’s office, and several individual officers. In punishment, Kona was dropped from the crime beat to the back page. This bid to dig up a story on druggy rock and rollers was a perfect example of his constant attempts to get back to the exciting side of the news business.
“Oh, so you’re applauding the efforts of law enforcement for doing our jobs and keeping the dirty junk off the streets,” Dan overly-sweetly returned with a cocky grin. “Thanks for the praise for a change, Marty.”
“Shut up, Williams. Get outta here. I got nothin’ to say to you.”
“Grover didn’t want your tip, Marty. He handed it over to us. That’s how much he thinks of you.”
The snort was absolute derision. “He wouldn’t appoint anybody in Five-0 to be dog catcher. That’s how much he thinks of you!” The laugh was cruel. “Big shot McGarrett must have thought it was pretty good, Danny boy, cause he sent his little shadow to roust me!”
The urge to swing out and slap this guy around played at the edges of his mind. Williams would never do it, of course, especially not in public, surrounded by this slime’s peers. The desire, however, was strong enough for him to clench his fists into tight balls of tense control. He had played this kind of game with the press for years – since he came onto the Five-0 team. Part of the job; long hours, tedious paper work, danger, injuries, and irritating scrutiny under the spotlight of scum like Marty. For the top two cops of the state police, life was lived in a fishbowl of inspection when high-profile cases came into focus in the news. Since becoming second-in-command, Williams had schooled himself to restrain tendencies to do anything but deal civilly with reporters.
With the memory of Steve McGarrett’s smooth tutelage of manipulation, bluffing and baiting adversaries playing in his thoughts, Danny gave a dramatic sigh, accompanied by a shrug of the shoulders. “Okay, Marty, have it your way. Just remember I gave you this one chance.” He sharply turned and strode with a quick stride from the room. There was no need to turn around to see the reaction. The heads that had tracked him coming into the room were sticking with him on his exit, but then altered to some surprising event behind him.
He was all the way to the front door of the newspaper offices, and trotting down the front steps of the old building, when running footfalls approached. Seconds later, his arm was grabbed.
“Williams, hey, wait a minute. What are you trying to pull?” Marty accused, trying to swing him around.
The officer shrugged out of the grip and spun to face the reporter. By the time he turned his face was still a mask of controlled disdain, but inside he was cheering the cagey tactics of his mentor. It was a good day when he could out fox the bad guys, but a proud moment when he could do so emulating his boss.
“I thought you had nothing to say to me.”
“I want to know what you meant.”
“You’re sweating, Marty. Must be worried –“
“Just tell me!”
Harsh derision came through, a release of Williams’ obvious contempt for the unethical reporter. Emotions more apparent than the subtle glow of success at trapping the unwary rat. “Word on the street is that you know about a big score. Never mind who wants in on it,” he ad-libbed, inspiration and bluff striking as the message formed and was delivered at the same time. Younger and taller than the crusty news man, Williams managed to put so much menace into his expression, tone and words that the old veteran of word-wars flinched and backed away. “You say Paul McCartney is coming to buy heavy dope. I say you’re making it all up to try and get back on the front page –”
“Lie!” Marty snapped.
“Then tell me the truth for a change!”
The man gasped, and then his lips snapped shut. Eyes blazing with hatred, he glared at his adversary for several moments.
Lowering his voice and nerves to a steady level, Williams knew he had the man trapped and it felt good to see the sneak squirm like this. Doubly good knowing he had used Steve’s methods in getting to this point.
“Marty, if we know, the bad guys know, too. How long do you think you’re going to last if they think you’re onto their plan?”
“I never said I knew who was gonna sell the dope! And the bit about McCartney, okay, that’s kind of a guess,” he hedged, glancing around them to make sure no one was listening. “There’s gonna be a big strike in the next day or two. Asian – I heard the name and put two and two together. I figured if I leaked it to Grover, he would do the legwork for me. That’s all, Williams. If you let it out that I know more than I do I’m in real danger!”
“Then tell me everything –“
“I just did, I swear. A guy named McCartney is coming in from Asia looking for a big score. Since I thought it was the Beatle I thought he would be buying of course.”
“But you’re not sure about the name or the person or the score, right? It could be someone with a name LIKE McCartney. And he could be coming here to buy OR sell. Is that what you’re telling me?” he snapped out. “You’re really wasting my time today, Marty.” Miffed, he started to leave. As he expected, the reporter stopped him again, this time placing himself as a roadblock on the sidewalk.
“You gotta take it from here. Anybody takes the heat for this, you make sure it’s you big shots at Five-0. Don’t you say a word to that sneak, Shorty Lao, either. And you can’t use my name, Williams. You understand me?”
“Sure. Say nothing to Shorty. You don’t want the credit on this,” he clarified.
The reporter looked like he had been forced to chew and swallow nails, but he finally gave a tight nod. “I still hate you guys,” he spat and slammed past the detective with a collision to the shoulder.
Smirking at the hard-won battle, Williams strolled back to his car. For a moment, he leaned on the door before he slipped into the LTD. Assessing what he had learned, he pieced together a theory which he continued to build on his drive into Waikiki.
Marty had mentioned a mutual acquaintance – a shifty snitch named Shorty Lao. The little Vietnamese was a broker of information and for a good price he would cough up almost anything. Cruising a few of the usual spots, and not spotting the informant, Williams returned to the office to report his findings.
Kelly was in McGarrett’s office with the boss when the younger officer returned. Both were going over evidence notes from the lab. McGarrett explained that, while the second-in-command had been out of the office, a new murder case had come to light. Drug overdose of a nightclub singer in Waikiki. The brief exchange of eye contact was enough for Williams to know he and the boss were thinking the same thing.
“Connected to the rumor about the big strike?”
“You tell me,” McGarrett challenged, leaning back in his chair. “What did you learn from Marty?”
Williams relayed the intelligence that Kona wasn’t sure if a big shipment of drugs was coming in or was already here in Honolulu. That he wasn’t sure about the buyer – McCartney – and that Shorty Lao was somehow involved, but not on the street today -- perked the boss’s interest.
“You and Ben get your contacts rolling in Waikiki. Chin is going to cover the investigation on this lounge singer – what’s her name?”
“Sugar Cane,” Kelly grimaced.
“Sounds more like somebody from a Hotel Street dive,” Williams smirked.
“How would you know?” the boss laughed.
“I did my time walking a beat there,” the younger man countered quickly.
“I’m betting your two investigations meet in the middle before long.” He glanced at the clock. “I’m meeting Manicote in a few minutes so I’ll clue him in on this business.” He wrapped his knuckles on the desk for emphasis. “We’ve been keeping a tight lid on drugs coming into this state,” he needlessly reminded in a stern pep talk. “And we’re going to keep it that way.”
Sweeping out of the office with a shout over his shoulder, he told Jenny he would return in about an hour. The two detectives traded looks of sympathy for the legwork ahead in each of their tasks.
The meeting with Manicote was cut short by an urgent matter on a current court case, so McGarrett found himself with some unexpected free time. He decided to drive over to the morgue for a firsthand report from the ME on the demise of Sugar Cane.
“I refuse to label her tag with that hideous stage name!” the Coroner snapped in explanation as he pulled out the drawer for the head of Five-0. “Meet Jane Doe,” he announced as he pulled the sheet away from the corpse.
The body of a thin, undernourished, hapa-Hawaiian girl in her late teens was remarkable in death only because of obvious discoloration on the left arm. In contrast to the gray hue of the cold cadaver, the striations were a dark, vibrant distinction.
“Ligature marks look like –”
“Hand prints,’ McGarrett finished as he studied the stripes. “Someone was holding her down to inject.” The arm was pocked with needle tracks, but one fresh, jagged hole indicated a level of violence with the last administration of drugs. “Wasn’t gentle about it, either.”
“Nope,” Bergman agreed. “COD – overdose of very high grade Heroin. Ten times the normal level it would take to kill a person.”
Straightening, the officer stared at the doctor as theories formulated. “Someone murders her with a heavy shot of rich dope. Makes sure they’re not subtle about it.”
“Sounds like a message to me,” the ME concluded as he covered the body and pushed it back into the vault. “As to the who and why, you’ll have to handle that, Steve.”
“Thanks for your help, Doc.”
Kelly made it back to the office after lunch, reporting that his Chinese contacts in Waikiki were buzzing about someone about to make a big sale in the drug trade. The addiction of choice this time was Heroin, purported to be right out of the Golden Triangle.
“A buy,” the chief repeated as he stopped making notations in his calendar. “Someone here buying goods from Asia. That’s not what Marty reported this morning to Grover.”
The Oriental detective smirked. “Wouldn’t be the first time Marty’s been wrong. But my street contacts aren’t that sure, either.” Looked at his notebook to confirm a name. “Fella named Kealoa hung out with Sugar Cane. Checking on him. No one’s sure if he was the last to see her or not. She had a lot of visitors between dance numbers.”
“Then we keep checking,” McGarrett concluded.
“Danny and Ben come back yet?”
“Not yet. When they do, we need to go over the Manchester trial notes before you go to court tomorrow.”
“If you don’t need me for anything else, I’ll review the case right now.”
McGarrett glanced at his clock. Going on Three PM. This phantom drug case with the possible involvement of a celebrity had tied up the entire morning and too much of the afternoon. He nodded to the detective, then went to work on a review of an forgery case that had come in last week. Still no progress on that front, and apparently there would be little advancement today, he sighed as Jenny came in with three phone memos.
A few hours later, Williams arrived with a lab report on the Heroin found in Sugar Cane. The drug was identifiable from previous cases as an Asian strain of Heroin. Found in the back room where she died were various cigarette butts, drinks and cigar stubs, evidence she had met with several people that night.
By twilight, the office had emptied of the support staff, and half of the detective force. Unable to focus his eyes on the paperwork any longer, McGarrett locked up the desk and stretched, spending a few minutes on the lanai to breathe in the fresh night air and watch the lights of the city sparkle, the white and red dots of traffic streaming by on the busy streets.
There was no good reason to stay here. The evening was young. He should be out there enjoying the nightlife of one of the most vibrant cities in the world. Tourists from all points of the globe came here to bask in the sun by light and play in the nightclubs by dark.
Between all the work related messages and calls today, two were from very eligible women communicating on one pretext or another, but each finally zeroing in on the fact that they wondered when they could get together with him. As usual, he brushed them off, claiming an overwhelming workload. Truth. Avoiding a social life because he was driven to solve the cases on the books? Candor. There was no crushing crisis ongoing, just the usual vigilance. The pressure on the drug dealers was heavy and constant for the past few months, but he should be able to take a day off once in a while. Strolling back into the office he shuffled through the memos, glancing at the names of the women. One was a widow he had dated before – they belonged to the same golf club. The other was a nurse at Queens, and a friend of Dora Bergman’s. He shoved that to the bottom of his stack, not up to the thought of a blind date in the near future.
Ambling over to his guitar case leaning in the corner, he removed his instrument and sat in one of the white chairs, strumming. His eyes watched the swaying palm fronds barely discernable just beyond the lanai, but his mind wandered as his fingers plucked the strings in aimless drifting. The melodies faded in and out, shifted and morphed, like the Trade winds wafting through the subdued office.
Duke and Danno had both been after him to take a date to Trader Vics and catch Sandy Manoa, the Waikiki entertainer who was Hawaii’s newest sensation. Vics was at International Marketplace. Not far from the joint down on Kuhio where Sugar Cane’s body was found. Heroin, Asia, it was coming full circle. Back to where they were this morning with the supposed arrival of McCartney for a giant drug score. He was going to keep the screws tight and not allow any more hard junk into these islands. They were going to find Sugar Cane’s killer and answer all the questions Doc had asked: who and why. Why kill the girl? Silence or revenge? Did it really have anything to do with a big score at all? Was it just the end of another junkie in the mean streets of the big city?
The outer office door slammed, jarring him from his reverie. Knowing who the arrival had to be, he smiled and kept strumming. When the door opened, he glanced up to watch Williams enter the room with paper bags of food and a file folder.
“On my way back from HPD, stopped at King’s for some kau kau,” the officer announced, placing the food on the empty chair. “That's nice, Steve. Sounds familiar. One of yours?”
He shook his head. “Blackbird.” At Williams’ shrug, the musician smirked, “Had it on my mind most of the day. A simple, acoustic song written and performed by Paul McCartney.”
“Oh, yeah. Well, this is the day for McCartney on the brain.” He settled into the opposite chair and picked up his drink. With the other, he waved the file he’d brought in, then set it down alongside him on the sofa. “ID on the girl. Sugar Cane was really Rose Kaneholo, seventeen, been on the streets for about two years.” He tore open the paper bags and spread out burgers and fries. Munching on a handful of fries, he continued. “Dancer at the Coconut Hut.”
“I know the dive,” McGarrett nodded, continuing to pluck. “Almost on the way home.” The word conjured images of his roomy, artistically designed condo. Furniture, paintings, spare room filled with unfinished art projects, magnificent views – everything to his complete liking – yet a place he visited instead of lived in it seemed sometimes.
“Aren’t you going to eat?”
The question brought him back to real time and he set down his guitar. “Yeah. Thanks for the dinner.” He scooted a chair opposite the sofa and took a bite of the burger. “So who was she meeting?”
“No one’s talking with names, of course.”
“Right, hear nothing, see nothing.”
“You got it. There’s a sometime boyfriend who visits every few nights. He’s noticed because of an elaborate tattoo on his arm. Some short guy, who was a chain smoker, was there the last few nights, he’s a regular. Che has his cigarette butts at the lab and we’ve got a lot of prints to go over, but I’m thinking that the description fits Marty.”
“Hmm,” the older officer ruminated. “Marty and drug whispers. Sugar Cane and drug overdose. Possible.”
Between bites, McGarrett summed up the case as he saw it. Drug sales on the street were tight because of the crack downs. Street buyers were expecting something big to come to save them all from cold turkey withdrawal. More than junkie dreams? Through the whole day, however, the only one mentioning Paul McCartney was Marty Kona, and that had turned from a vague possibility to a remote improbability.
After their meal, McGarrett called for an end of work for the night. They would start fresh in the morning. Closing up, as an afterthought, he picked up his guitar case to take home. The tips of his fingers were sore – not enough practice lately. Maybe tonight he would sit out on the lanai of his beautiful condo and play; feeling the brush of gentle, tropical Trades, while he took in the incomparable view of paradise under the stars.
The overnight report for major crime was on the top of his list for this morning, as usual. A recent DB discovery in Waikiki was at the top of the list, patrol units and lab teams just called to the crime scene. When he read the name, Duke Lukela released a low, long whistle of surprise. He didn’t expect to see that wretch as a homicide, although many cops would be feeling pretty happy today because of the misfortune of an adversary. As soon as he could leave HPD, he drove to the Palace to personally deliver the news to McGarrett.
Much the same scene greeted him as it did every morning. Secretaries working quietly, teletype clicking, strong coffee brewing as he briskly walked through the common area, greeting Jenny Sherman, moving quickly to McGarrett’s office. Knocking on the door, he entered before an invitation.
“You won’t believe this, Steve,” he announced, catching the hint of satisfaction in his own tone. Unrepentant of such an un-Christian attitude, he plopped the report on the big desk. Directing his announcement to the head of Five-0, he also scanned to take in the other detectives; Williams, Kelly and Kokua. “Look who stepped out of line once too often.”
McGarrett surrendered a low whistled. “Wow. Marty Kona.” He turned the page so his staff could read the facts in black and white.
Kokua’s surprise showed. “Marty stepped on a lot of toes, but murder?”
Duke supplied, “Talk on the radio on the way over says he took a bullet to the brain.”
Williams’ eyebrows shot up. “Wow is right. Just yesterday, he was giving us trouble.”
“Better watch what you say, bruddah,” Ben teased. “You might need an alibi.”
“Me and every other cop in town,” Dan smirked.
“Is this about the drug shipment information?” McGarrett cut back to business. He pinned his second-in-command with an even stare. “I think we better start with where he was killed.” He continued, looking to Lukela to supply the information.
The officer glanced significantly at his associates. “The back room of the Coconut Hut.”
“Even if I believed in coincidence, this would be too hard to swallow,” Williams offered.
McGarrett was surprised, and that didn’t happen often anymore. “Yeah, it would. And since we don’t believe in coincidences like this, we’ll go with the supposition you mentioned yesterday, Danno, that there’s a connection between Marty’s tip, the a major drug deal, Sugar Cane’s – and now Marty’s -- deaths. Ben, you and Duke start interviewing Marty’s associates. Chin, you find the connection between Marty and Cane. Danno and I will visit the Coconut Hut.” He hit the desk with a flat palm. “We’re going to stop whatever drug sale is brewing, gentlemen. No more hard stuff on this rock!”
The intense sun paled the neon lights which were barely visibly around the Coconut Hut, and colored the back-block of Waikiki’s busiest street in its true light. At the corner of a worn building, the nightclub was at the end of a row of small businesses trying to cash in on the tourist dollars. Apparel and curio shops, photo places and eateries lined the makai side. Old apartment buildings and mid-quality, lesser hotels lined the opposite side of Kuhio.
At this time of the morning, tourists from the economy lodgings were walking toward the beach or to some of the numerous breakfast buffets at the beachside hotels. Some joggers, some people walking dogs, and a scattering of laborers walking to work lined the sidewalks. A few kids were standing on corners to catch the bus to school. A completely different group than the rough crowd who frequented this block after sunset.
An HPD blue and white was parked at the curb along with a white Coroner’s wagon and a black van for the forensics team. McGarrett pulled up behind the squad car near the entrance to the club. To reach the front door, he and his colleague walked around a blond, pony-tailed man, dressed in tourist-style clothing, snapping pictures.
“I remember when only girls wore their hair like that,” Dan muttered under his breath as they entered the bar.
“Times change, my friend.”
Inside, the inadequate, low lighting made it seem like night. Even opening the shades at the windows produced barely enough illumination to step around the tables and chairs stacked at various locations on the dance floor. A sleepy, grouchy, unshaven man leaned behind the bar, rasping growls at the young patrolman asking questions. Both were startled to see the arrival of Five-0 personnel. The officer saluted, the barkeep groaned and shook his head.
Flipping out their IDs, the detectives interrogated the reluctant manager, a chunky, mixed-race local named Lowen. Closing the club sometime after two AM, he had found the body of Marty Kona slumped on the table in the back room. Didn’t hear a gunshot, didn’t see anyone around Kona at the time, he listed, bored with repeating himself to the new officers.
Not letting the man off the hook, McGarrett sharply questioned, “Who did Marty come here to see?”
“Liked the girls and the drinks. He came here a few times a week,” Lowen shrugged. After a prolonged silence, he dartingly met McGarrett’s glare, then turned to give undue attention to wiping down the bar. “He met with people. Faceless, nameless street people,” the guy shrugged. Twitching at the continued silence from the stern cop, he growled, “I don’t take names, ya know!”
“Who came in last night,” Williams fired back. “Regular snitches?”
“This is the second murder in two nights—”
“Hey, don’t you think I know that!” he shouted back. “Messy, I loose sleep, now I got you big shot Five-0 dudes stepping on my toes! Last thing I want is attention from you guys!”
The man leaned over and peered eye-to-eye with the shorter Williams. “What do ya think I’m doing?”
McGarrett stepped close. “You’re being obstructive, and if you don’t get a better memory very soon you’re going to be repeating this interrogation downtown –”
“All right!” he barked. “Sugar Cane was a regular snitch of Marty’s. Fed him what she could to keep up her habit. A few other guys dropped in. I didn’t notice any of Marty’s regulars last night. I didn’t.”
McGarrett studied him for a moment, realizing there was a gap in the story. “Any of Sugar Cane’s regulars come in?”
“I – uh – yeah – I did,” the man mentally considered. “She had a boyfriend. Kamaaina. Big guy. Has a fancy tattoo on his arm.”
Williams, notebook in hand, started scribbling notes. “What kind?”
“Not sure. Some kind of native design,” he guy shrugged. “Don’t know his name. He hung out with Sugar Cane for the last few months.”
“No way. This guy is built like a Samoan, but he could be Fijian or Maori. Never knew. Asked him once if he was interested in being a bouncer here on weekends and he just brushed me off. Said he had a good paying REAL job.”
“Thank you,” McGarrett told him with exaggerated kindness after pressing him a few more minutes. Satisfied they had squeezed all they could from him, they walked to the back room.
Doc Bergman met them as he exited the scene of the crime. “Gentlemen. Lovely morning, isn’t it?” he asked sarcastically, rhetorically. “It will be for some reading about this man’s demise. Ironically, in the morning paper,” he quipped.
“What can you tell us?” McGarrett directed the conversation to business.
“First blush, I’ll clock him out at the early morning hours,” Bergman supplied, staring at the ceiling as he pondered. “Gunshot wound to the head will be my first choice as COD. And before the boys move the body, Steve, check out his hands. I think you’ll find them illuminating.”
The ME rushed away, his black medical bag swinging with the rapid stride, as if he was in a hurry to leave the seedy joint. The detectives exchanged glances, then the boss motioned for them to proceed.
Even before they parted the wooden, Oriental curtain, they caught the odor of blood, stale smoke and cheap liquor. The stains on the table and floor were intense, consistent with the profuse bleeding of a head wound. From the body, from the seating, they placed Marty to the side, a little out of the line of the door. Facing the front, he would have seen whoever was coming through the beaded curtain. Pointing this out, carefully avoiding the corpse and blood, McGarrett took in an approximation of Marty’s angle.
“So he wasn’t afraid of whoever came to see him.”
Nodding in silent agreement, Williams picked up the thread. “Nobody heard the shot. Timed with the music maybe…”
“Or a silencer.”
“That seems a little heavy for Marty. He was scraping the bottom of the barrel.”
“Maybe not . . . .” McGarrett breathed out in surprise and leaned over, bending close to the dead man’s hand on the table. “Doc said to look at his hands. His fingers are broken!”
Scrutinizing the twisted digits, Williams winced. “All of them. Torture. Marty? A has-been hack? In a public place like this club?”
“Loud music, someone standing guard at the curtains, maybe?” he shrugged, guessing as he went with ideas.
“Maybe he was onto something,” McGarrett mused. “Why kill him? Whom did he threaten? Someone willing to torture him, then murder him with a silenced pistol.”
“The drug rumors? Whoever killed Sugar Cane?”
When they returned to the office, leads on the forgery case were breaking, and McGarrett zoomed out to Kahala. He was close to proving one of two employees in an accounting firm was the guilty party for forging checks to the State of Hawaii, but a few more elements needed to fall into place. On the return trip, his mind returned again and again to the drug-related murder of Sugar Cane and the linking murder of Marty Kona.
Taking a few minutes at his desk to review messages received in his absence, ignoring his growling stomach as he had for the last few hours, he found it difficult to settle down with paperwork. He wanted to be out doing something active, making progress in the drug case. Intuition, gut instinct, whatever he chose to call it, was peppering his nerves like a subtle, but constant reaction like that of skin to static electricity. They were dancing all around the clues. If only they could nail them down and line them up, they could have the answers.
“I think I like my informants better than yours, Duke,” Williams cracked as he peered down the filthy alley not far from Hotel Street.
“They better looking?” Lukela absently wondered as he peered behind a trash dumpster.
“They live in a better part of town,” the younger officer sneezed as they approached the back door of a fish market. “And smell better.”
“You have Shorty. I have Sammo. They give us what they have and we pay them off,” the practical sergeant shrugged.
From behind a pile of stacked boxes, a filthy, ragged figure scrambled out, setting off at a run in the opposite direction from the cops. Recognizing the skinny wraith as Duke’s usual snitch, Sammo, Danny and Duke immediately sprinted in pursuit. Out of nowhere, the trash-filled boxes tumbled atop them, causing their shoes to slip and slide on the garbage-strewn asphalt. Williams went down, dropping with a hard thud on some kind of mushy substance which saved him from cracking his knee wide open. Duke lost his balance, landing on his side, then back, the air driven out of his lungs. Above him, a street dweller came toward him wielding a knife. Rolling away, any effective escape was blocked by a brick wall in the narrow alley.
Two shots rang out, loud and stifling with gunpowder. The assailant staggered back, the knife swinging as he went down on his back. Coughing in air, Duke was frozen in shock for a moment, until Danny came up beside him.
Revolver still aimed at the attacker, the Five-0 detective touched Duke’s shoulder and glanced at the older sergeant. “You okay, Duke?”
“Yeah,” he breathed, fighting to calm his staggered nerves.
He had been close to death before, and it was never easy to accept. Today, it had come out of nowhere – and nearly claimed him, thanks to unexpected danger and something as ridiculous as garbage in the alley. With a firm hand, Williams grabbed onto his hand and helped him sit up.
“Stay there for a minute,” he advised, then cautiously approached the downed criminal, removing the wicked weapon from easy reach. The distaste, the regret playing on the expressive face, told the story. “Pau,” he whispered.
Adrenalin surging through his system now, Lukela scrambled to his feet. He was not going to let his friend take any guilt over such a justified shooting. The younger officer had just saved his life. That meant a lot to any cop – when it was him – saved by someone who was like family – he wasn’t accepting any moral judgments.
“You had no choice, Danny,” he encouraged, patting the younger man’s shoulder, seeing in his mind’s eye the echo of a familial gesture given many times by Steve to the second-in-command. Renowned for his shooting skills, Danny’s talent had never been more appreciated than this moment. “You saved my life.”
A crowd had gathered at the door of the fish market. A blond man with a camera was snapping shots and Williams yelled at him to find somewhere else to take pictures. Lukela ordered a chef to call for the police. Williams, still shaken, checked the pockets of the man’s torn shirt, flinching when his hand strayed close to the double bullet marks splattering the chest area. Patting Williamss' shoulders, the sergeant crouched down next to him and rolled the man’s arm out.
“Needle tracks,” he pointed out on the inside of the elbow. “User. He was probably out of his mind craving drugs.” He glanced down the alley. “Sammo’s probably long gone. We won’t see him for a while.”
Rising, Williams backed away, blowing out a long, low breath, and rubbing fingers through his curly hair. “There went our lead.”
Duke joined him, making stern eye contact. “Mahalo, Danny. What you did for me means more than getting information out of a snitch,” he emphasized with a tight grip on Dan’s arm.
“Makes you remember how thin the line can be between life and death,” the younger man breathed out. He stared at the junkie strewn over the littered trash. “Steve isn’t going to be happy I shot a possible lead.”
“No, but he’ll be as happy as I am that your aim is as good as ever.”
When Jenny called him out to the anteroom, he could tell she was intent on listening to transmissions over the police radio. Shooting incident. Lab team and Coroner called. Officers involved, Lukela and Williams. His heartbeat spiked at the names. Before he could order the secretary to get more details, the report continued, stating a suspect was killed during an attack on the officers.
Snatching up the mic, McGarrett demanded a patch through to Williams or Lukela. No ambulance had been called, so his men should be okay, but now that fear for their safety had surfaced, it would not be abated until he knew what had happened.
“Lukela here, Steve.”
Marginally breathing easier, his nerves were still tight for the other officer’s condition to be ascertained. “What happened, Duke? Are you all right? What about Danno?”
“We’re okay, Steve. We were tracking Sammo and a junkie wanted to make that a problem. Wanted to take me out with a knife, but Danny stopped him.”
He knew there would be details to follow when the men returned, but the most important information was already conveyed. His friends were safe. Training, skill, quick reflexes had probably come into play to make the difference between life and death for his colleagues. A sobering lesson replayed all too often in their profession. His tight stomach rippled at the thought that this call could have contained the news that Duke had been killed. For being spared that awful reality, he was grateful Danno had been there to make a difference. His muscles twisted again, thinking at a slightly altered turn of Fate, it could have been Danno at the wrong end of the blade. He had to trust that Duke would have managed, with the same skill, to save the younger officer. Today, though, it wasn’t Danno or Duke who would have to pay for their defense of justice with their lives.
McGarrett was on the phone with Che Fong, the lab chief, when he heard the forensic expert greet Williams. Ending the conversation, the head of Five-0 trotted down to the basement environs of Iolani Palace to meet up with his detective.
Knowing his men were both okay, he nonetheless felt tense nerves slacken when he spotted his second-in-command in casual conversation with Fong. A hefty kitchen knife in a plastic evidence bag was the focal point of their interest when he walked in, but his attention was on the officer. Most times, police never saw danger coming head-on. The majority of injury and death to cops was the unexpected attack; a domestic issue, a traffic stop – a knife-wielding junkie in an alley. That his friends walked away from such an incident was a relief so profound he took a moment to pause, to study his detective with silent gratitude that the unanticipated had not been damaging, or fatal, to anyone but the bad guy.
“Guess you heard,” Williams sighed.
“Yeah, Danno,” he acknowledged, closing the distance to immediately clap firm pats on the shoulder of the pale officer. “You did good out there.” He could see in the blue eyes echoes of the taking of a life, no matter how justified or defensive. “Thanks for taking care of Duke.”
The praise brought more life back into the shadowed gaze, and the demeanor visibly lightened. “Mahalo. The guy didn’t give me any choice,” he regretted in a subdued tone.
He squeezed the shoulder under his hand. “I know. Just glad you two are all right. What do you know about the guy?”
“Duke’s checking on the street,” the younger man reported, continuing with a run down of officers questioning locals and searching for Sammo the informant.
The words blurred to the background as McGarrett briefly pondered the blessings of his friends and how his life could have changed drastically today. From the twisted trail that took his colleagues to that alley this morning. From the peripheral effect of drugs, the curse of modern society, two lives had been taken already. One or more lives – cops – could have elevated the high score. All for avarice and the useless habit of a temporary thrill turned addiction that filled the pockets of greedy low-lives from the top of the chain of manufacturing and distributing, to the bottom feeder – like the guy who tried to knife Duke.
The phone rang and Fong answered it, and then handed it over to McGarrett, announcing it was Jenny. Summoned to a meeting for the Kahala forgery, he told his men to keep working on anything that would give them answers on this elusive drug shipment. Pausing at the door for a moment, satisfied at the routine scene and that his officers had survived to enjoy this mundane side of police work, he strode into the hall to the next stop in his busy day.
McGarrett had hardly been back for more than a few minutes when Williams entered the private office. The younger detective reported he was just at the morgue to get the latest on Marty Kona. No surprises, the bullet to the brain resulted in near instantaneous death. The slug was recoverable and Che’s report – which Williams picked up on the way from the ME’s – put the weapon as a 9mm automatic.
“Pretty sophisticated for a bar on Kuhio,” he ruminated.
“Yeah. Not what you’d expect a junkie or a wino to pull out of his pocket. Any luck on tracking down informants?”
Suppressing a yawn, the younger officer shook his head. “Sorry.”
“Burning the candle at both ends, Danno?”
The encounter in the alley had surged his body and mind with the natural adrenalin rush of stark, raw, life-threatening danger right in the face. Conversely, Williams was still disconcerted at having taken a life. It seemed worse with no forewarning of peril, of no preparation, just the abrupt need to protect his friend by killing someone. After his first killing, McGarrett had harshly, fiercely, told him every time he pulled his weapon, every time he shot someone, it better hurt. It still did. Not that he was sorry for keeping Duke safe, but he never liked having to take someone’s life. In this case, the poor rotter was probably sick from withdrawals and had no clue what he was doing. That made it a little tougher, but it was not something he was going to worry about. He would rather have a guilty conscience than be mourning his friend.
“Too many work hours and not enough food or sleep. It’s past one and I forgot to eat.” He brushed off the observation. “Anyway, we talked to one of the tourists who was at the Coconut Hut. He spotted a flamboyant, expensively-dressed Asian who pulled up in a Mercedes and dropped in to talk to Marty last night.”
“Your rich snitch in Waikiki – whatshisname?”
“Yeah, I’m thinking it was Shorty.”
Leaning back in his swivel chair, Steve stretched his tall frame and propped his feet on the desk. Smiling at his officer, he wondered, “Feel like going out for lunch?”
Wary, because he knew his crafty friend had something brewing in his always-active brain, he qualified, “Guess that depends on where we’re going and who’s paying.”
Laughing easily, McGarrett shook his head in surrender. “You’ve got a suspicious mind, Officer Williams.”
“I acquired that from you,” he grinned. “What are you thinking?”
“Waikiki. Where Shorty Lau hangs out.”
“Shorty likes the cool spots in Waikiki,” he brightly reminded. “Happy to eat upscale today.”
Gesturing to the clock, he plopped his feet down and rose, straightening his tie. “Thought we could kill two birds with one stone and eat while we’re tracking him down on his turf.”
“If we invite him to lunch, we can write it off on your expense account.”
“Mine?” the boss chuckled. “Always trying to save a buck, aren’t you, Danno?”
“Your expense account is bigger than mine,” he justified as he followed his boss out the door.
Knowing his Five-0 colleagues had their own sources of information, Lukela cruised in his patrol car to the mean streets of Honolulu’s slums to find his snitches. Cultivating low-life informers over years of duty here in the old part of town, the sergeant knew where to look for druggies.
He wasn’t rattled from the alley incident, and in the interest of efficiency chose not to bother with back up, or even telling Danny that he was out on the streets again. Not many nasty incident was a big criminal conspiracy like Five-0’s crimes. Most were little, desperate acts of violence committed by warped individuals – types he had encountered his entire career.
He had a job to do, and part of his tough-guy, street mystique was to handle the scum like the creeps they were. His years on the force earned him a hard reputation out here on the corners and doorways of Honolulu. His status with the locals was probably already enhanced, the coconut wireless already spreading the news that the last guy who crossed him and Danny Williams ended up in the morgue. Such back-alley whispers would make his job easier.
If celebrated people were looking to score during their holiday, they had to come to a place where the illegal substances could be easily purchased. Never would he expect some famous personality to come down here to Hotel Street and buy drugs off the street corner, but every hotel in Waikiki had a clerk or valet who could take a large tip and an order for a tourist. They could turn to a parking lot attendant, who could go to his pal at a favorite bar, who could connect to a known pusher. Such murky and word-of-mouth trails were nearly impossible to track. To nab the drugs, one almost had to be at one end or the other – the beginning or the end. Duke chose to try at the source – with someone who was symbolically and literally at the end of his life.
Sammo was a Vietnam vet who could never shake the Heroin habit acquired in combat. He washed out in Honolulu and never left. The guy would do anything for a fix, and a few crumbs for a meal. The young man, unnaturally aged and hollowed out from drugs, would do anything Duke ordered him to because he knew the tough sergeant could make life for him unendurable. All Lukela had to do was threaten him with a stay in jail – cold turkey drop from the H – and Sammo would give him anything to avoid such torture.
Parking the squad car at the mouth of an alley, Lukela stopped at a Chinese herb market owned by some of Chin’s hui relations. They always cooperated with the police and they quickly directed him to a bar around the block.
“That stinking Sammo crawled over there,” the older Chinese woman in a white apron reported. “He hanging out too much here. I shoo him away.” She hefted the broom behind the counter. “Tell him we don’t want his kind by us.”
“Mahalo,” he smiled in appreciation. “I’ll remind him, Vai-po,” he addressed in her native tongue, a title of veneration and respect in her grandmotherly capacity.
The afternoon was bright and warm reflecting off the old, chipped bricks of the worn buildings on this avenue. The tattered neighborhood had been standing for over a century in some parts of the area. If the walls could talk, they would probably remind the practical cop of the unsurprising nature of mankind.
A hundred years ago, it was opium traders and the King’s guards who looked the other way for payoffs of goods or money. Today, it was too many natural and synthetic highs to mention, and diligent enforcement fighting to keep it down to a minimum in these islands. Five-0 – specifically McGarrett – was a fanatic about keeping his home clean of hard drugs. It was an uphill fight, but so far the good guys were still winning. As a police officer, as McGarrett’s friend who shared the chief’s rigid beliefs in a clean society, Lukela fought hard to support Five-0’s efforts.
Just off the sidewalk by the Barefoot Bar, Sammo was sitting in a shady corner, napping. Filthy and bearded, Lukela wondered if the man ever bathed. Redemption was not his calling, but he had tried a few times to take Sammo to the YMCA, paid for his room for a few nights so the wretch could have a decent place to sleep and get a few showers. Two or three nights later the YMCA called him -- after each attempt to help -- to let him know Sammo was ousted for drug use. Duke had never tried again to help the street scum. He had done his own work at helping friends and relatives off of drugs. His only charity now was allowing the druggie to earn some money by informing.
Pushing Sammo’s leg with his foot, Duke snapped at him, “Come on, Sammo!”
The junkie started, scrambling away on hands and knees with surprising alacrity. Within a few strides, Duke had the wretched man by the collar.
“You didn’t think you’d be able to hide for long, did you? What was that you tried to pull in the alley, Sammo?”
“It wasn’t me!” the man screamed. “I’d never do nothin’ to hurt you, Duke! You know that!”
“I know you’ve already sold your soul for drugs, Sammo. What’s the life of a cop to you?”
“No – no – that was Simon. Don’t know his last name. He’s been strung out, man. No hits for days – he was just crazy! No need to drill him like that!”
“He tried to drill me with a knife, Sammo. He coulda hurt Danny Williams. Danny is Five-0, remember. Then you woulda known what real hurt was, Sammo, if McGarrett came down on you –”
“No!,” he pleaded, as if the invocation of the name itself was a painful curse. “It was Simon –’
“He was your pal, you were hiding together. You owe me now!” he shouted, pushing the man’s face into the bricks, showing no mercy. Keeping the pressure on, displaying a tough edge, knowing it was the only way to deal with these street thugs. “He musta known something. Why else would he try to kill cops?”
“He was crazy I tell ya!”
“And you’ve been hassling the Chiangs down the street, bruddah! I told you never to do that!” he shouted as he brought the younger man to his feet.
“Huh?” the younger man, covered in grime, peered up at his assailant.
Lukela grabbed him by the collar and pushed him toward the back of the alley. “You know those old folks are like my ohana, bruddah. You stay away from their store!”
When they were far enough away from the sidewalk for any curious onlookers to see, but not hear, Lukela shoved him against the wall. His back to the street, he lowered his voice. “I need some information, Sammo. After what Simon tried, you owe me. A famous haole—” he paused to give the wretch a shove. “Listen!”
“A rich haole’s coming in from Japan. Looking to score. I want to know all the details when you hear, you got that?”
Checking over Duke’s shoulder, Sammo then put his head down. “Yeah, okay –“
“I mean good stuff, Sammo. Names of who still has H on this rock. There has to be someone and they’re selling to the rich guys, Sammo. Taking it right out of your arm. This is your chance to pay them back.”
The man would not meet his eyes, but his eyebrow twitched at the mention of drugs. He licked his lips. “You gotta pay good. Big time haole, huh? You got a name?”
“No one you would recognize,” he assured sharply. “And you don’t need to know that, do you? You just tell me who wants to score something for big rollers. Waikiki contacts, Sammo.”
“Sure. No need to hassle me –“
“This is to remind you who’s in charge down here. So you and your friends don’t have any ideas like Simon did. You want to survive, you cooperate with us. You give us a hard time, you don’t help out, we remember that, Sammo. Every one of us in HPD, AND Five-0, we remember. You got it?”
“Yeah,” he sniveled miserably, rubbing his face with a shaky hand. “Usual payment?”
“Yeah.” Lukela shoved a folded bill into the pocket of his filthy and faded shirt. “You know how to get in touch. You go to Chiang’s and beg for food like you always do. They’ll call me or Kelly.”
The thin, scarred man flinched and covered his stringy, dark, greasy head with dirt-encrusted hands. “No, man, that old lady hits me with a broom –“
“Serves you right,” Lukela countered without sympathy. “You just do what I said and you’ll get more money.” Long ago he had given up the moral struggle within his conscience – was it ethically right to pay informants when he knew they turned around and used his money to further their habits – drugs, alcohol, gambling – whatever vice was their chosen downfall. It was part of the cycle of life here on the desperate streets of the slums. The food chain of law and order. In a loud voice, he hollered, “Now get out of here and don’t go back to their store!” he emphasized with a shove.
Returning to his vehicle, he stopped at the Chiang’s store and bought some luscious, juicy star fruit. They would not accept his payment, but he slipped a few bucks into the fruit bin just to keep honest.
“Now you call me or Chin if you have any more trouble with him,” he warned them.
They responded with affectionate farewells, again smiling, pleased he had come to no harm this morning. Some days were like this, he mused. Life nearly taken away by a brainless street bum, the same hour thanked by honest, nice people who’ve known you since you walked a beat down here.
Thinking back to that frightening moment in the alley, he shivered with a release of tension. It had been a close one for sure. Would have been a lot worse if Danny hadn’t been so quick to react. Would he have been so fast if their roles had been reversed? He hoped so. Seeing Danny hurt would be devastating. Not just for him, but for Steve. Conscious of the near miss, he shook his head, focusing on the continuing with the job. He had a few more scums to roust to try and get some information. Then maybe tonight, he would take Danny out for a drink or something to thank him for what he did today. There was no reward expected, but he felt a gesture would be appropriate. His life had been saved today, and that was a pretty important event for him.
Shorty Lao, was a sneaky little Vietnamese who had carved out a lucrative living since immigrating from the collapsing South Vietnam. Not sure what the tattler did in his former existence, Danny Williams knew in this life he was a fast-dancing entrepreneur who always landed on his feet. Instead of plying his trade in the ratty slums, Shorty cruised tourist traps in his flashy Benz convertible and tailored clothes. Moving constantly, he could only be contacted through waitresses, beach boys, surfers, parking valets – anyone in Waikiki willing to make extra side change became an intermediary for Lao.
The afternoon was warm and clear, only errant clouds dusting the horizon of the ocean, or brushing the tips of the Koolaus behind the city. Loosening their suit jackets, the Five-0 officers made no other concession to stepping down from their professional attire so out of sync with the bikini-clad, sandaled beach-lovers around them. Coppertone and fresh lei scents wafted along the sidewalks mingling with the ocean bouquet of surf, spray and salt.
After tracing his trail from a waitress, named Jean at the Wave Rider, to Candy, a shave ice vendor on Kalakaua, they ended up with Keoki, the parking lot attendant near the Royal Hawaiian. Keoki, a reformed young hood whom McGarrett had set straight, was one of Steve’s few, rare personal informants.
The young man was clean-cut and all business, in his white shirt and pink and white aloha print vest matching the employee theme for the shopping center. He was surprised to see them as they pulled up in the black Mercury.
“Hey, Mistah McGarrett! Mistah Williams! Don’t see you guys cruisin’ much here in Waikiki.”
“We’re looking for someone, Keoki,” the chief explained. “Have you seen Shorty Lao around today?”
“Not seen him, but you check with Kealoa on the beach. He and Shorty kinda tight these days.”
“How will we know this character, Kealoa?”
“Anybody on the beach knows him. Big guy, tattoos.” He swept his arm, gesturing toward the parking structure. “You wanna park here for free you go ahead, Mistah McGarrett. Anytime. Day or night.” He nodded at the younger detective. “Detective Williams, he come here a few times and take me up on my offer.” He gave a shaka sign and a roguish laugh. “Dat Mustang one hot ride, yeah?”
Smirking, McGarrett cast a narrowed glance at his officer.
“Always gives me a good tip, too,” Keoki smiled.
“I guess that squares it,” was Steve’s pointed comment.
Following instructions given by the attendant, he pulled the sedan into a spot at the far end of the first level. Hiking out to the crystalline sand of Waikiki, they scanned the beach for the man named Kealoa.
“So, you going to tell me about your night life in Waikiki?” McGarrett teased his friend.
“Not if I know what’s good for me,” Dan countered with a grin.
“Just remember the coconut wireless works two ways,” he warned lightly. “I’ll hear about it eventually.”
“Not if I can help it.”
The simmering heat of the sun was no deterrent for the hundreds of sun worshipers dotting the golden sands. Hot, humid, clear, the day beckoned vacationers to soak up the rays, vary their naps with surfing, swimming or lounging with a good book. Strolling on the sidewalk, McGarrett noted the lotion-slathered bikini babes were getting a little more visual attention from Williams than the informant-search.
The distraction was powerful, even for the goal-focused head of Five-0, but he managed to stay on target more than his colleague. Amused at his friend, McGarrett came to a stop and allowed Williams to keep ambling, the younger man staring at two hardly-clad blonds layered in coco butter so strong it was overwhelming even from a few feet away. Williams walked several meters before he took his eyes away from the girls and realized he was alone. Looking around for his boss, he gave a wry grin when he saw the ploy.
“Spot Kealoa yet?” McGarrett quipped as he strolled past his friend.
Dan caught up quickly and walked astride, rushing to keep up with his long-legged companion’s pace. “Not yet. I’ll ask at the Longboard Grill up there.”
An obliging waitress, all too charmed to speak with Danny, gave directions to Kealoa. They found the surfer offering instructions to a man and a woman in their thirties who sounded like they hailed from Texas. The detectives exchanged eye contact as they observed the intricate and ornately designed colored tattoos on the right forearm of the huge, muscled surfer.
When the tourists left, McGarrett started the questioning by asking for information on Shorty. When the man denied knowledge of such a person, McGarrett drove home with accusations that witnesses placed him with Shorty. Then came stern questions about a big score on drugs for celebrities in Waikiki.
“I ain’t seen Shorty today,” he told them curtly. “Don’t know nothin’ about drugs. “I’m clean.” He displayed his muscled arms.
Impressing the image of the tattoo in his memory, McGarrett inquired, “What about last night at the Coconut Hut? You were there.”
“Got me mixed up with somebody else. Wasn’t there,” he shrugged, waving at two girls in bikinis and calling them over for surf lessons.
“We heard you were Sugar Cane’s boyfriend,” Williams told him. “You have an alibi for last night?”
The beach boy’s left eye twitched. “I don’t need one,” he shot back defiantly. The much larger Islander rounded on the slighter detective with a cold glare. “Don’t have a girlfriend, don’t know nothin’ about drugs. You’re scaring away the paying customers, cops. I got nothing on Shorty,” he told them quickly as the two girls waved back and approached. If they wanted to track down a lead on selling drugs in Waikiki, he quickly told them to try a low-life nicknamed Shark-bait who was into the celebrity drug supply trade. “He hangs on the beach near the Longboard Grill. If he’s not there, try the shave ice stand Diamond Head of the Hyatt. Run by a pretty blond wahine. He likes the chick there. But, man, don’t use my name. If you do, I’ll deny I ever talked to the cops.”
“Why are you worried about your reputation with a drug dealer?” McGarrett asked the young man.
“Shark-bait, that’s a description -- not just a nickname. Surfing one time, he got nailed by a shark. This guy is tall, lean and mean.” The description of a surfer who could intimidate this hulking Polynesian was almost amusing to the head of Five-0, but he remained silent and allowed the young man to continue. “Shark-bait is so tough, he jammed his board into the shark’s mouth and got away. Shark got a piece of his leg, but he paid for it. I got to make a living on this beach, bruddah. Don’t want Shark-bait to know I talked to you.”
“Then why tell us?” Dan wondered.
“Maybe I don’t like him hanging around my customers. Maybe you guys can do something useful for a change.”
With a warning that they would be back if Kealoa’s story didn’t check out, McGarrett steered his officer away. When asked why they weren’t running him in, the boss assured they would when they had more substantial evidence.
Walking back along the sidewalk, Williams, finally pleading the need for food, suggested the Longboard Grill and McGarrett readily agreed. The edge of the lanai set on the sand of Waikiki, the eatery had an enviable view. Seated at a table with a grass umbrella, the detectives ordered their meals and watched the surfers gliding on the sparkling water.
The head of Five-0 speculated about Kealoa’s information. “The tattoo is interesting.”
“Yeah. Coincidence? We could check up on him, his statistics. Take a mug shot over to the bartender at the Coconut Hut. I’m betting our surfer has a record.”
Nodding his agreement, McGarrett thanked the waitress who brought drinks and sipped on the iced juice as he continued speculating. Shark-bait was a new name to them, as was Kealoa, but Shorty was a known commodity as an informer. McGarrett wanted to find some answers before they wasted the whole afternoon out here in the hub of tourism, enjoying the warm sun, temperate breeze and stunning scenery.
“We’re not in that big of a hurry, are we?” Williams sighed, eyeing the two bikini-clad blonds who had moved from the sand to a nearby table and seemed to be overtly trying to gain their attention. It had certainly worked with the younger detective, but McGarrett ignored the obvious stares from the women.
Drinking the cool beverage, increasingly distracted by the pleasant respite, Steve knew he was not the only one preoccupied – but his companion was not thoughtful about their purpose here on the beach. Danno traded flirtatious glances with the girls, but also stared out at the shoreline with an air of longing. Dangerous to bring his surfer detective so close to temptation, he sighed.
Snapping his fingers near his friend, he wryly observed, “I’m going to have trouble getting you focused on the job for the rest of the day, I suspect.”
Turning back, Dan shrugged with a grin. “Just enjoying the scenery.”
“I know,” he replied, completely aware of the girls at the neighboring table, or sunbathing on the sand or strolling within their view. “We’re here on a case, remember?”
“Yeah,” the younger man sighed. “This is what life’s all about,” he observed distractedly, watching the water and surfers. “Paradise. Learn to live a little, Steve.”
“Just not on company time, Danno.”
“What were you saying?” he asked, sipping his water and looking at his boss.
McGarrett ruefully muttered under his breath about holding only part of his officer’s attention. Still. The blue eyes frequently darted beyond Steve’s shoulder; to the water, the girls, the surf. “Shorty. After lunch, I still want to find him. When we get back to the office, run a check on this Shark-bait character, along with Kealoa.”
“Yeah. Duke might know something.”
“Or Ben. He has people on the street here in Waikiki that might give us something.”
Lunch arrived and over sandwiches and fries they traded speculation on the possibility of a new, major player on the local drug scene. They also agreed that the likelihood of this case having anything to do with the real Paul McCartney seemed questionable at this point. A celebrity of his magnitude coming to the Islands would be news on various levels – difficult to keep quiet for many reasons. If a pusher was going to sell to someone of such acclaim, the coconut wireless would pick it up. So far, their tidbits of information made the story twist around – someone from abroad bringing IN a big shipment.
Steve thoughtfully pondered the case which was growing more complex with each new turn, and considered he was grateful they were probably not looking at arresting a world famous singer. He liked McCartney’s clever lyrics and good music. Thinking of one of the latest records, amused, he saw another opportunity to tease his friend.
“So, you’ve been sneaking out to catch James Bond films, huh? When did you find time?”
“All those free days I have,” he joked back. “Live and Let Die. Catchy title, huh?”
“I’m not sure I understand it, but it sounds a bit grim.”
“Oh, you know these movies, they’re never very serious. Not like real life spies. Or cops for that matter,” he shrugged.
“Good thing. Don’t like the ominous title.”
“Yeah. Hey, if they ever made a movie about Hawaiian cops maybe they would call it Hawaii Five-0?”
Chewing up a French fry, McGarrett smirked and shook his head at the absurdity of the thought. “As long as they don’t think they can film at the office.”
When the waitress brought the check, she also delivered a small packet of sugar to the chief detective. McGarrett asked what it was for, since they were leaving. The waitress who had been giving special treatment to Williams during the entire lunch, rolled her eyes.
“These are from the girls at the other table. Said you dropped your name tag. Sugar.”
Dan could feel the giggle nearly explode out of him and he traded glances with his boss, covering his mouth before he embarrassed them both. Steve was smirking, shaking his head. He gave a nod to the girls, dropped a tip on the table and snapped up the bill. Following him out, Dan winked at the girls, who smiled and waved as the officers left.
They walked back to Kalakaua, studiously ignoring the sugar incident. Williams commented that even if they gained no valuable information on this trip, it was a nice enough little excursion away from the office. “Still,” he sighed, “we’re wearing out a lot of shoe leather for questionable returns.”
Knowing it was more than an idle comment from his friend, Steve was curious about Williams’ instincts. “What are you thinking? We’re headed in the wrong direction?”
“I’m not sure. Not that I’m arguing with a day out on Waikiki, Sugar,” he grinned, “but the hit on Marty makes it look slick, professional. Which is contradictory to a connection with a junkie like Sugar Cane.”
Chuckling, McGarrett shrugged, “Maybe.”
Williams studied him. “You don’t think so. We already feel like McCartney is not involved in this. Kealoa, Shorty or this Shark-bait guy could be nothing, or could be links. We might be talking about drug trafficking on a major level. Someone in Asia trying to move in and break down the blocks we’ve been setting up here.”
Thoughtfully, McGarrett considered, “Yeah, I agree. The more I think about it, my instincts are telling me we might have a big catch at the end of this fishing line.”
On the short drive over to the Hyatt Regency, Williams called HPD in for data on Shark-bait. The desk sergeant, Nephi Hilton, knew the player as Leonard Kapono. By the time they parked in a driveway on a side street of the massive hotel, they’d received a full report. Kapono had a record for numerous crimes ranging from B&E to assault, to drug dealing. Currently on parole, he had no wants or warrants.
The shave ice vendor in front of the Regency was a pretty blond, who seemed pretty annoyed at her only customer. The beach boy pestering her was Shark-bait. The ID was obvious – below his knee-length swim trunks, the disfiguring scars on his right leg were clearly visible.
Both detectives drew their badges from their jackets at the same time. With a glare at them, the young punk sneered and clearly conveyed his lack of respect for their authority. Getting right to the point, McGarrett drilled him about drug connections in Waikiki.
“We hear you know about high rollers on the drug scene here in Waikiki.”
“You heard wrong, man,” he snarled, with a narrowed glare scanning between the two cops.
“There’s a big spender coming in from the Orient. We want his name and what he’s ordering.”
“You guys are on something, not me!”
Williams bristled at the near-spitting in his face.
McGarrett subtly brushed against him so his shoulder bumped in front of him, making it difficult for the younger officer to make an impulsive move.
“You’re nuts,” the young man spat out.
Williams closed the distance between them. “Maybe we should just haul you in and see how that affects your business. Find out every detail between you and Sugar Cane.”
Without any visual warning; a twitch of a muscle, the blink of the eyes, the tensing of muscles, Shark-bait spun and broke into a run instantaneously. Without taking a breath, Williams dashed after him. The fast, lanky surfer wove in and out of tourist crowds and hawkers handing out free brochures. Five-0’s second-in-command raced right on his heels.
McGarrett wasted no time in joining in the chase, keeping his eye on the two ahead of him as they barely avoided painful collisions with numerous pedestrians. He gasped though, his breathing hard, as they crossed side streets, swerving around cars and pedicabs. In a heart-stopping, near-tragedy, Williams bounced off the hood of a car that he could not sidestep.
Despite the youth-energy and longer legs to his advantage, Shark-bait was not that far ahead of Williams, and barely behind him, McGarrett. The leader in the race turned them into a parking garage and up some stairs behind the Beachcomber. Taking the steps two at a time, McGarrett lost track of them on the upper level, and came out into the sun in time to see Shark-bait running along the makai edge of the rooftop that paralleled Kalakaua Avenue.
Williams was almost upon him. A few more paces and the kid would be tackled. Good thing, because they were running out of parking structure. There was nowhere for Shark-bait to go.
McGarrett gasped as the surfer suddenly vaulted up on the concrete wall and ran on the narrow precipice overlooking the busy street below. Williams lost only a few paces and didn’t hesitate to leap up on the ledge, too, and continue running. Without warning, then, Shark-bait jumped over the edge!
Heart in throat, Steve reached the edge, continuing to run, amazed to see the surfer had landed – obviously with calculation – on the top of a bus slowly cruising the street below! Skidding around on his knees, the young fugitive carefully climbed to his feet and balanced on the roof, waving at the police in defiant triumph as he rode the bus like a giant board on the asphalt surf.
Horrified, he realized Williams was preparing to copy the daredevil stunt.
“Danno! No!” he screamed out.
The officer slowed, tracking the bus visually, still perched on the verge of taking the insane leap.
“Don’t!” McGarrett yelled, trotting to keep up with his detective.
“I can make it.” Without breaking speed, Williams shouted back, sprinting along to catch up with the bus.
The concrete wall of the garage ended within a few strides, Williams had to give up –
McGarrett gasped as Williams took a flying leap and landed on the roof of the bus! He rolled, nearly colliding with Shark-bait, but the surfer slid down the side of the bus and hit the intersection running, barely avoiding being struck by several cars.
“Don’t --” McGarrett gasped aloud as he saw Williams crouch to make the same move.
The bus driver, though, must have been spooked by the crazy shenanigans and came to a hard-braking stop at the corner as soon as he cleared the intersection. Williams, off balance, slid along the top of the roof and over the front, dangling against the windshield as the heavy vehicle rocked from the abrupt halt.
Muttering curses and threats under his breath, McGarrett jogged down the nearest stairs and along the street. Almost violently pushing through the crowd, he came up on his officer, who was trying to placate the bus driver while two HPD patrolmen looked on with high amusement. Tourists, even the pony-tailed man in the bright, off-the-rack Aloha shirt, were snapping pictures. There was a lot of chattering and commentary among the crowd.
Steve’s first impulse was to bark his displeasure as soon as he was within earshot of his errant friend. Knowing such behavior – publicly rebuking his second-in-command on the busiest street in Hawaii – would probably make the evening news, he had to press his lips together to keep his invectives to himself. Without saying a word, his mere presence snagged the attention of Williams.
The out-of-breath, dirty, scraped detective flinched when he read the expression. Asking if the patrolmen would handle things, the shorter man led the way through the crowd and back along Kalakaua.
“Sorry I lost him, Steve. I almost had him, but he was just too fast.”
Sizzling, McGarrett kept silent as they crossed the street and returned to the structure where the Mercury was parked. When they finally settled into the car, McGarrett did not insert the key, but sat there, staring out the windshield at the green and white gardenia bushes just beyond the cement wall, his fists strangling the steering wheel.
“I can not believe you would do something so insane!” he seethed, his breathing and heart rate not yet back to normal. “I told you to stop!” he barked, finally turning to blaze an angry stare at his companion.
Williams blinked from the onslaught. “I – uh -- made it,” he returned, still out of breath, now showing confusion.
“I ordered you to stop!”
“I knew I could make it, Steve! He was getting away.”
“Do you think I care if you lost a snitch? After what happened with Duke this morning? This character is nobody, Danno! We can always find him again on this rock! What we can’t replace is you! You are crazy to do something so – so – insane!” His words had escalated in speed and volume until his target winced from the high levels of sensory attack.
“I – I’m sorry – I know it looked dangerous – and it was tricky -- but I knew I could do it. It was a matter of calculation. The speed of the bus, the distance, the velocity of the drop, the balance. Shark-bait made it because he’s a surfer. I knew -- exactly what he – he was doing . . . .” he finally slowed down, faltering in his own impassioned delivery as he must have read the continued displeasure from his friend. “I worried you, I know. I apologize for that, Steve, but I knew I could do it.”
“Barely. You barely came out of that without ending up under the bus!”
He wanted to press the attack, to keep yelling about Danno disobeying his explicit orders. About the danger that his friend often seemed to invite into his life for such insignificant reasons. He wanted to rail -- how could his colleague not understand that his life was monumentally important to him? He had invested an unprecedented emotional commitment to this aikane who had grown to be a brother. Everything he did to cause injury, or risk death, impacted on Steve to such profound degrees and levels they could not be voiced, sometimes not even mentally defined, but understood only with the deepest and most soul-rending emotions.
Opting for physical release instead of verbal, he continued to strangle the steering wheel, but looked away, not sure how to end this without blasting his friend with feelings too complicated and sensitive to reveal in the heat of anger. Instead, in a non-response, he started the engine and drove into the sunlight in complete silence.
At the next red light, Williams sat up from his slumped posture. “Hey, there’s Shorty!” His hand on the door release, he stopped and looked to the boss. “Shall I go talk to him now?”
Feeling it was a good idea to get some distance from his detective right now, mollified he had been asked for an okay, McGarrett nodded his head. “Yeah. I’ll meet you back at the office.”
The crafty Asian informer/business entrepreneur, Shorty Lao, scowled when he spotted Williams trotting across the street. Williams kept stern eye contact with the slight young man with a thin mustache, hoping intimidation would keep the guy from making a run for it. He was certainly in no mood to chase anyone else down today.
His skin felt blistered all the way through to the nerves after Steve’s tongue-lashing. Upset he had lost the crummy Shark-bait, his ego was scarred from the failure as well as the reprimand. Steve had his reasons, sure, and Dan understood them, but it would have been different if he had collared the fast moving surfer. A little less of that grilled mahi sandwich and fries and he probably would have nailed the creep. Now a little resentful of Steve’s castigation, he reminded himself Steve was just being an overly attentive Kaikua'ana – big brother. The alley this morning was nasty, but he had never been in danger! When was Steve going to accept him as a complete equal and not a kid brother? Growing less irritated with each stride toward his target, he huffed out a sigh, knowing he’d rather be within the caring, if sometimes confining ohana of his unit, than without it.
Slipping around the tables at the entrance to the outdoor eatery, Williams took a seat at Lao’s table. “Shorty.” The clipped tone and single-shot title gave the man a clue, he hoped, that he was in no frame of mind to play games.
“Detective Williams,” the man nodded curtly with obvious displeasure. “If you weren’t a cop, they would throw you out of here.”
Aware of the white dust and brown smears of grime on his formerly tan suit jacket, Williams self-consciously pulled his jacket closer around his midriff. The buttons had all been lost during the slide on the bus roof, along with the knees in his trousers and the top layer of leather on his brown shoes. What was visible of the dark-brown patterned tie was grimy shreds. He should just get down to his shirtsleeves, but the front of his once white shirt was also smeared brown and black and that would look even worse without the messed up jacket.
“Don’t worry, I won’t take long,” Dan offered a frosty smile. “I need some information. Someone’s coming in from Tokyo looking to score heavy drugs. Talk story to me, Shorty.”
“Hey, I don’t –“
“Save it,” Dan cut in sharply. “Just give me a name. A flight number would be nice, too, but the name is what I want.”
Leaning forward, the man lowered his voice. “Waikiki is my turf, Williams, you know that. Tokyo is not.” Before Dan could protest, the Asian shushed him. “I know something from the Waikiki end, bro. It’s gonna cost you, though.”
“This better be good,” Williams snapped back. Removing his wallet, he dug out two twenties. Folding them in his palm, he stretched his hand across the table.
Shorty did not move. “Better than that, Five-0.”
“This better be good,” the officer growled. He fished out a ten and cut off another price hike. “This is all I have for the rest of the week, Shorty! And this better be worth it!” He stretched out his hand but kept it fisted. “First the information.”
“Waikiki connection, Five-0. Kealoa the beach boy. He’s fixed. Pushes anything you want to anyone in Waikiki. What’s his source? Coconut wireless say it come from Golden Triangle. Some dude from the other side of the world.”
Dan didn’t react to the familiar name of the tattooed beach boy who had suddenly leaped higher on the suspect list. He wrapped his knuckles on the table. “Kealoa was Sugar Cane’s boyfriend, I hear.”
The Oriental’s eyes widened slightly. “Then maybe you don’t need my services any more, Officer Williams. You already got some good info. Money,” he waved his fingers for delivery of the cash.
“Name of the guy coming from Asia with the goods.”
Shorty’s lip snarled. “This is really too good for your cheap price, Williams, but consider this a contribution to my public service points. Name is McCann.”
“McCann. You sure?”
“Sure. You didn’t hear it from me.” He held out his open hand.
Leaning forward, the detective pleasantly asked, “Just one more thing. Where were you early this morning, about one AM, Shorty. Your old pal Marty Kona was at the wrong end of an automatic about that time.”
“You telling me I need an alibi?” the slight man nearly squeaked.
“I was at the Coconut Hut around midnight,” he blurted quickly, whispering. “Plenty of good information comes out of cheap bars like that, Williams. That’s my job, collecting information and trading it to – to people with money. NOT to cops unless they have the right price!” His fingers waved again. “Now hand it over, Williams and leave me alone.”
“You better be right about your alibi, Shorty.”
“I went for drinks at the
Colony after my rounds on Kuhio. Ask the
hostess, named Cheryl. I don’t know what happened to Marty. He was
a pig and a user and got what was coming to him. You cops should be the first
ones in the cheering section.”
“I will check with Cheryl.” Williams placed the wad of cash into the palm and in a blur of motion, the table was clear.
“Now get outta here, Five-0, you’re wasting time I could be spending with customers who really know how to pay. And know how to dress.”
“Cute,” was his snide retort as Dan stood. “For future reference, remember, you’re not the only one around town on a first name basis with hostesses.” With that satisfying, parting shot, he left smug, not looking back to see what he knew had to be a worried reaction from Shorty.
Crossing the street to the beach side of Kalakaua, Williams pondered the information. Despite the high price, Shorty was known for prime stuff and had delivered a fair amount today. The slippery snitch had an alibi, so they wouldn’t have him for deeper involvement, which seemed to back up his statements. He claimed he didn’t know Kealoa was Sugar Cane’s boyfriend. Was that truth or lie?
McCann – his instincts told him that bit of gossip was good. McCann could be misinterpreted for McCartney maybe. Thinking of the old gossip game of telephone, by the time Dan reached the curb he was convinced a mistake in communications had been made. Somewhere along the coconut wireless McCann could have been altered to McCartney. Someone from across the world – Britain – moving drugs from Asia. Paul McCartney had recently been in trouble about drugs in Japan. Yeah, it could have been a dumb mistake.
Returning to the shave ice stand across the street, he talked with the flirty blond as she fixed him a rainbow shave ice. Asking the vendor about Shark-bait, he learned little, but she did give him her phone number, so it was not a completely wasted opportunity. After consuming the cool, refreshing treat, he strolled to the corner and hitched a ride with a pedicab. Steve had stranded him here in Waikiki, probably with relief. So close to home, he could go get a clean suit and drive his car back to the office.
Through of quiet introspection and hindsight, Williams felt his own relief at distance from McGarrett. The reprimand had been so burning, it was still sinking in. He understood it, of course, and could easily transfer what it felt like – too frequently – when Steve placed himself in danger. Or, like the incident in the alley with Duke. Heart-stopping fear bringing necessary action. The body kept moving, the mind kept working, even while the terror instilled every fiber with alarm. Yeah, he knew all about what it felt like, and grew more sympathetic, more regretful of his actions, with every mile he cruised closer to the office in his Mustang.
McGarrett entered the main office with his adrenalin almost back to normal, but his temper was still raw and nerves jangled. Kelly and Kokua were standing by Jenny’s desk. Seeing expressions of triumph on his detectives, he stopped for a report.
“None of our informants heard anybody mention a McCartney,” Chin reported as he followed Steve into the boss’s office. “Got a guy close, though. Paul McCann.”
“We’re running that through the computer right now,” Ben supplied.
“Coconut wireless says someone coming in from Asian in the next few days is looking to sell a lot of drugs.”
Ben added, “Hard stuff. A broker from Europe.”
“McCann, McCartney,” Steve mused. “Could be a mistake.”
“Coconut wireless got a little twisted,” Chin laughed. “Sounds more likely than an important celebrity looking for big action and everybody knowing about it.”
“Won’t Grover be mad he can’t make the front page on this bust,” Ben joked.
“All right, find out about this McCann. I want everything. And if he hasn’t landed yet I want you two to meet him. Tail him. Ben, also run a check on this Kealoa character. Full work up on this guy.”
He noted the two detectives, and Jenny, were staring at him with unusual interest. No doubt the coconut wireless had already spread the news of Williams’ Waikiki chase throughout the law enforcement community.
“No,” he snapped in response to the unspoken question. “I didn’t eat him for lunch – he went to have a chat with Shorty.”
The phone rang, saving him from any further discussion. Jenny quickly delivered a message that he was wanted in the lab – Che Fong had results on his forgery case. For a moment he did a quick scribbling sketch on a sheet of paper, which he gave to Kokua to track down. Ordering his men to stay on top of the drug case, McGarrett rushed out without even sitting down during his brief visit.
Danny did not even reach his cubicle before being surrounded by Chin, Ben, and Duke. Jenny did not leave her desk, but glared at him across the room, shaking her head. Still smarting from the ferocious blast from Steve, he was in no mood for more parental chastisement from the rest of his ohana.
“Been a long time since the radio’s been buzzing like this about one of your adventures, Danny,” Kelly started out with a sigh.
“Haven’t seen Steve so burned since the last time you wrecked the LTD,” was Ben’s contribution.
Duke shook his head, stating the obvious, “You KNOW Steve’s touchy about you leaping in front of buses.”
This from the leader who goes around on Lone Ranger stints whenever he feels like it? The man who confronted and disarmed a murderer by grabbing the BLADE of the knife with his hand? Danny THOUGHT the rebellious justifications, but dared not mention them in this unsympathetic crowd. Instead, he quietly, but tersely replied, “I’m not five years old! I know how to get out of the path of a bus!”
Ben leaned towards the shorter officer and grinned. “But you don’t know BETTER than to leap onto the roof of a moving bus from a tall building BEFORE you fall into the path of the bus, bruddah!”
Chin and Duke burst out laughing at the jibe, and Dan inhaled to respond, but before he could issue his retort, the door to the private office swung open and McGarrett briskly walked to Jenny’s desk, placed some papers on the top, and came over to join the group.
“Did Chin fill you in?”
Good – at least there was no more belaboring of the chase issue from his boss! Williams barely sighed under his breath. Kelly supplied the answer.
“The guy named Paul McCann. Busy on the international scene. Run ins with police everywhere in the Golden Triangle and beyond. Came here a few days ago and disappeared from easy detection.”
Forgetting the little brother treatment he’d been receiving moments ago, Williams announced, “McCann. That’s the name Shorty gave me!”
The boss nodded. “Promising.”
“So McCann’s laying low,” Williams pondered. “Getting ready for an operation?”
“If there’s no buzz from the coconut wireless, that probably means he’s prepping for a shipment, not an export,” Kokua guessed.
“Nothing on the street with his name on it,” Lukela confirmed.
Jenny interrupted, reporting the suspect HPD was looking for in the forgery case had been arrested and was on his way to be booked. Brightening at the news, McGarrett sped off, telling his staff to keep working on their assignments.
With the Five-0 chief gone for the arrest, all the men were entrenched in their cubicles finishing reports and tying up the loose ends of the day. McGarrett was absent the bulk of the afternoon remaining at HPD interrogating the criminal forger until he was satisfied the case was completely solid.
When the boss arrived at the Palace, Williams was the only staff member left. Leaning tiredly against the doorframe of the second-in-command’s cubicle, the boss smiled at the dedication, the loyalty of his friend. In another, he might consider this tenacity as a sign of repentance for the brusque exchange between them this afternoon. In Williams, it was standard behavior. No one else would show him this kind of commitment. It was more than duty. Little things, like being the last one to leave – waiting until McGarrett called it quits – were the gestures that really meant a lot to the top cop, who rarely revealed how much this job affected him. This quest for justice, this office, these people – they were his life. Sharing that with just one other person who connected to him on a level beyond words or deeds – what more could he ask for in life? Maybe he missed a lot of the beauty of his island home. Maybe he didn’t enjoy the sun, surf, sunsets and dawns nearly as much as he should, but the things that meant most to him were close at hand every day. This was the kind of living he understood. After today’s close calls with Duke, then Danno, he appreciated his rich blessings more than ever.
“Ready to call it quits?” he softly wondered, turning the quote back on his friend.
Glancing up, the answer was in the rueful grin. “Sounds like a great plan. How’d the booking go?”
“Shane folded, full confession.”
“Congratulations, Steve! That was a brilliant deduction about the fake accounts.” The younger detective shouldered into his suit jacket and joined his boss walking toward the front door.
McGarrett paused with his hand on the knob. “What are you doing tonight?”
“I was going to wash my car…” His voice trailed off before he sheepishly corrected, “Or am I?”
“I thought we could check out the Coconut Hut tonight.”
“See who turns up at the scene of the crime?”
“Something like that,”
“Is this a late appointment, or are you thinking of hanging out there for a meal?”
At Williams’ sour expression, he amended, “First, my treat at a decent place for dinner.”
Dan brightened and nodded. “That’s better than I expected.”
Anticipating a casual meal at a favorite like Ono’s BBQ, Williams dressed casually. McGarrett, attired in a signature-bright Aloha shirt, picked him up from his condo. The younger detective was pleasantly surprised when they stopped at the Royal Hawaiian, in the heart of Waikiki, on the beach.
The sunset view of the strand of seashore now empty of sunbathers and surfers was fully appreciated by the younger detective. Captivated by the familiar, yet enticing beauty of the waves and sky, he enjoyed the sand-side table’s view. The crowds were gone now, replaced by a few discerning tourists who strolled the sparsely populated sand to enjoy the sunset and listen to the bands starting to play in the seaside restaurants. Dinner cruise ships dotted the horizon as they drifted out to sail around Diamond Head and allow their passengers to indulge in a spectacular view of Waikiki and Honolulu nightlights from the ocean.
Not until the pu’pus came -- macadamia nut-encrusted, seared ahi and sashimi -- did he take his attention away from the pastel sunset and undulating waves long enough to carry on a dialog with his friend. Curious about the motivation for this treat, a little suspicious just how this was work related, he asked what they were doing here besides having a classy meal with a dazzling view.
“This is living,” McGarrett replied, an unreadable expression on his face, a mysterious depth to his tone.
“Yeah.” Intrigued, Williams wondered what that meant. “You could be here with a date. You’ve had several offers in the last few days. I spotted the memos. They’re all better prospects than sharing another meal with a detective you see too much of every day.”
Sipping his coffee, McGarrett nodded. “I could have brought a date,” he admitted, a quirky grin emerging briefly. “But who could I bring with me who would also fit in at the Coconut Hut?”
“No one who’d date you a second time,” Dan smirked. “Seriously, are you expecting Shorty to show up here tonight?”
The unreadable expression was back; a look, perhaps, between a sentimental musing and a touching memory. He couldn’t read it, which surprised him, since he was pretty good at picking up not only what McGarrett felt, but often what he was thinking. Such a talent had been acquired over years of study, of course. Closed, tough, aloof when they first met, Steve had softened over the years, and Dan had come to understand the subtleties behind the reserve, appreciate the hidden depths which were rarely allowed to surface.
“I thought it would be nice to live a little,” was the enigmatic reply. “You’re always reminding me how I don’t enjoy the gifts of the islands enough, Danno. So I’m here, at one of the most beautiful spots in Oahu. We had to eat. We had to wait for the usual crowd of suspects to show at the Coconut Hut. So we’re doing it in style tonight.”
Not sure that covered it, Dan accepted the cryptic comments. “Live a little. I should engrave that on a sign and bring it out every time you stay on a case till midnight.”
There was no witty comeback, only another thoughtful silence. Then their grilled opakapaka and mahimahi arrived, and he waited until they were savoring the luscious meal before returning to the subject.
“What’s going on?”
“What do you mean?”
“This. The really nice dinner at an upscale restaurant on the beach. I thought you were still mad at me about that chase.”
“I wasn’t mad,” he tersely responded with whip-like speed. “I was anxious about your insane decision to risk your life to collar a suspect!”
The heat and intensity of the argument was instant – a flash fire of passion. Proof the sore point was still there. Williams grimaced. McGarrett took a breath. Shark-bait had gotten away, but Danno was alive and well.
“But there’s no need to bring that up again,” he calmed. Studying his friend, he surrendered a rare, uncertain expression on the ultimately confident and straightforward detective. “I’ve been thinking a lot about this case. When I’m not thinking about the violence and death and drugs, I find myself thinking about music. McCartney’s music.”
“He’s a brilliant musician. I’m trying to understand him. Live and Let Die…” Thoughts of the alley shooting, the chase, intruded again. Shaking his head, determined to put it behind him, he continued as non-condemningly as possible. “I’ve come to appreciate the cliché it came from. Live and let live. I hope you do, too,” was the meaningful admonition accompanied by an equally significant stare.
“I love island living,” Williams blithely reminded him.
“Sometimes I wonder,” he ruefully quipped, but with mild mirth, not rancor.
“You worry too much, Steve.” Leaning forward, his face took on a somber intensity rarely seen except in sincere concern. “Sometimes you have to let go,” He leaned back and relaxed. “Like tonight. Taking in the sunset and the surf and the wahines. Isn’t that why we’re here? This is rich – living – soaking up the magic that surrounds us everyday.”
They were here because of that and more reasons than the head detective could define. The overshadowing motivation, though, was to remove them both from the stress and the danger of their profession and share a still, calm, few moments with a friend he could have lost today. Danno was asking him to let go of the anxiety that came with caring about a kid brother in a hazardous world. Let go. At least for tonight.
Agreeing, he nodded. “Yeah, Danno. Not much room in our lives for magic.”
“Then we make room, make the time Make the magic.”
Nodding, Steve musing, admitted, “I guess that’s what I was thinking. Tonight, before we go back on the streets and hunt down a murderer, I wanted us to breathe in the natural wonders of paradise.”
Few people ever appreciated Steve McGarrett completely. He was seen in different lights by different people: penultimate professional, tough cop, caring benefactor, sexy bachelor, annoying adversary, brilliant detective. Few knew that beyond all that, was a man who loved justice and life with an incredible passion, and chose to dedicate himself to serving rather than taking from those around him. Only in those rare moments when he let his guard down, did Steve talk about sensitivities and longings, goals and desires, philosophy and emotions. Usually only to Dan.
Ruefully, he also accepted that as part of that familial, confessional bond, also came the usual trappings of being a part of an ohana. The worry, the caring so much that it sometimes became restrictive. The lectures from his colleagues earlier that day suddenly took on a new meaning. They were teasing, as male pals were wont to do, but they had also been concerned. He found himself all at once sobered, not only because of their depth of feeling for him, but also for their protectiveness of Steve. It was nice to know everyone was looking out for the boss, not just him. The most daunting aspect of his impulsive bus stunt, though, was now realizing the true distress it had caused Steve. He understood his friend let very few people into his close circle of intimates, and he was one of them. What he did would of course affect Steve. His earlier defiance was replaced by regret for his… okay – it was a stunt.
There was very little he could respond with, but a silent nod of understanding.
Not surprisingly, the moment was interrupted as a result of McGarrett’s local celebrity status. He was spotted by the mayor who was just arriving at the best table at the makai railing. Brief civilities were exchanged, then McGarrett used the interruption as an excuse to leave. The last thing he wanted was to be drawn into a social encounter. As they strolled to the parking lot where Keoki reserved a free space for them, they returned to discussing the drug case.
Turning into the underground garage, the concrete pylon next to McGarrett exploded in pocked circles. He grabbed Williams’ arm and flung them both to the ground before he assessed the sound and hits and resulting flying bits of cement as bullets struck the wall. Four more shots echoed through the garage as the gunshots coughed out by a silenced weapon hit the Mercury and the garage wall. The officers drew their weapons and crouched behind a Cadillac.
After ascertaining his friend was uninjured, McGarrett gestured for Williams to go around the far end, he would take the closer side and move to trap their assailant. Nodding in agreement, the younger detective scurried in a crouch around the side of the big car.
There was no sound of running feet, no more shots, but Steve had a strange feeling they had missed their quarry. It was obvious they had not been hit. The shooter might be stalking them, of course, and he warily rounded the corner of the car expecting lethal resistance. There was no one there, or anywhere within sight.
An older couple in matching muu’muu and shirt entered the garage through the makai sidewalk and stopped cold when they saw Williams, revolver in hand. A moment later McGarrett, badge displayed, appeared around another car, quickly asking the tourists if they saw anyone with a gun. Stunned, they shook their heads.
“I liked it better when dessert followed a meal,” Williams quipped as they toured the garage for a few more moments, soon surrendering to the obvious that their attacker had escaped.
Trembling, McGarrett had to lean against the car for a moment to mask his stressed nerves. The attack had been completely unexpected and come out of nowhere. After the attack on Lukela and the harrowing afternoon down here in Waikiki, the dinner had been purposely targeted as a respite from danger, a removal from the violent world in which they lived and worked. A chance to renew, in his own mind, the value of a life he might have lost today because of Danno’s impulsive sense of right. Their lives could have been lost just now, too, and his heart seemed ultra-sensitive about the refined, precious quality of every moment, every breath, because at any time it could be their last.
“That was a silencer.” Williams’ voice broke the hush, jolting his boss back to the moment.
“Yeah,” McGarrett growled, re-holstering his weapon.
Grimly, Dan sighed, “I think this means we’re on the right track.”
“I think you’re right, Danno.”
The assessment was half-hearted. Words. Williams’ focus, though, was working through the horrible fear that clung to every nerve. Steve could have been killed! And instead of watching out for himself, what was he doing, but taking time to try to get Dan out of the way!
A little breathless, a little shaken, Williams paced in a tight circle for a moment. “You know, Steve, I can take care of myself. In the time it took to push me out of the way, you could have been shot!”
The heroic instinct had been a blur during the heat of the crisis, but now, thinking it over, Williams was upset at his friend’s action to see to his safety first. It had exposed Steve to danger, for one thing. And, it showed Dan’s reaction had been too slow. Either way, it was a near tragedy, narrowly avoided, and he had done nothing to help.
McGarrett seemed nonplussed at the comment. “I didn’t think about it, Danno,” he admitted, blowing out a nervous sigh. “It was just instinct.” His gaze held for a moment.
Williams was sure they were thinking the exact same thing. Their initial impulses were to see to the safety of their comrade first, themselves second. It was a selfless, honorable code, but one that would forever find them on opposing sides. Neither would ever convince the other that they were wrong to put their friend’s protection first.
After HPD support units arrived, the area was searched, but no gunman or weapon found. Lab crews picked up spent casing and embedded bullets. McGarrett was tempted to cancel the excursion to the bar, but considered it was better to see who turned up this evening.
“You haven’t had enough excitement for tonight?”
The flippant remark did not get a rise out of the Five-0 chief, whose demeanor reflected his anger at the attack. “We’re going to go stir up some excitement in the criminal classes and see who cracks first.”
A patrolman drove them to Williams’ condo where they picked up the Mustang and returned to Waikiki. Parking around the bar was limited, and with displeasure, Williams left his car parked at the curb a half block away.
Without premeditation, McGarrett started rousting familiar ex-cons as soon as they entered the dark, dank bar hazed with smoke. It could have been any slum tavern in any city in the world. The post-card paradise of hula girls and surfers ended at the door. So did McGarrett’s sense of restraint. As soon as they were enveloped in the smell, taste and feel of the sweat, liquor and smoke, he felt more like an avenging angel than a cop. They had been shot at tonight. Innocent people could have been hurt. Danno and he could have been killed. The gloves were off.
It had been a while since the head of Five-0 was down on the street personally rousting thugs. Tonight, the attitude in the bar was tense as the regulars warily watched the cops circulate the room. Some rough-looking men didn’t get much farther than the front entrance. When they spotted the detectives they turned and left, not getting close enough to be questioned by Five-0.
After almost an hour, McGarrett motioned his colleague to head for the door. “That was a waste of time,” he muttered.
“Depends what you wanted to accomplish,” Williams countered with a thin smile as he cautiously watched the shadows along the street. “You shook everybody up. You made our presence known.”
“It keeps the pressure on,” McGarrett sighed. “And that might be the only good thing to come out of this evening’s adventure.”
When they reached the Mustang, Williams was relieved there was no damage to the car. Cruising through the back streets of Waikiki, he headed for the Ala Wai and McGarrett’s apartment. He yawned tiredly, the end of a long day making its mark.
“We didn’t see the boyfriend with the tattoo, Danno. We DID make an impression on the bartender, did you notice that? I warned him if he didn’t cooperate we’d be back to ruin his business again.”
“Yeah, we weren’t very popular.”
“If the boyfriend comes back we’re going to hear about it.”
Pulling into the driveway of the condo building, Williams studied his boss as the head detective exited the convertible. “You seem pretty confident about that.”
“If he doesn’t give us some help, we just go back again,” McGarrett shrugged. “Like you said, make our presence known. Unfortunately, we’re pushing somebody hard enough to want to fight back. Maybe that was our adversary’s mistake.”
“Leaving spent shells around?” Dan yawned again.
McGarrett slapped his hand on the door. “Yeah. We’ll press Che for answers tomorrow.”
“Pick you up in the morning,” Dan nodded.
“Seven,” was the order, then McGarrett turned and walked into the building.
Williams sat there for a moment, checking the shadows again, wondering where the next surprise attack might spring from. Not exactly paranoid, he did consider, as he drove home with the warm night wind blowing in his hair, that pushing the right buttons could mean bad guys pushing back. Appreciating Steve’s chastisement earlier in the day – especially after the shooting incident in the garage – he knew they were watching out for each other. That was what came naturally to them. It might save their lives. He just hoped it did not endanger them. Five-0 would have to be on guard from now on, making this a double-edged case – the prey now turning on the pursuers.
Picking up the boss in his LTD in the morning, Dan drove to the Palace, and the pair walked down to the lab before heading up to the office. Che Fong had a report waiting for them. The bullets recovered from the parking garage matched the 9mm ballistics from the murder weapon used on Marty Kona. A killer or killers, of one, possibly two people, were now gunning for Five-0.
Chin Ho stopped for malasadas and information at a Chinese bakery on McCully by the Ala Wai that morning on the way in to the office. The baked goods were not as good as his wife’s, but tasty enough to cheer the office staff. What he was really looking for, this morning, was some solid intelligence from one of the baker’s assistants, who was a regular snitch. The informant told him low life druggies and dealers were spooked by the recent murders – but cheered by the attempted murder on McGarrett. He also learned that a bad dude from the east named McCann had been in the islands for days. Word had it that Kealoa was his accomplice and they were expecting a shipment from Hong Kong soon. Plenty of junkies wanted McGarrett and Five-0 out of the way to clear the path for the drugs. They were excited at that prospect, because supposedly this McCann was the man who could make their connection happen.
Disturbed at the information, Kelly felt this confirmed the uneasy feeling after Lukela’s attack, and the shooting at McGarrett and Williams last night. The police were becoming targets in this nasty war with the mysterious McCann.
Arriving ahead of the rest of the staff, as usual, McGarrett and Williams were in the boss’s office sipping coffee when Kelly arrived with treats and news. Sobered by the coconut wireless gossip that this McCann wanted Five-0 neutralized to clear the way for his drug shipment, the chief felt they were making progress.
Kokua entered and gave them the results of his additional research. Unfolding the sheet of paper of McGarrett’s tattoo sketch, he told them, “It’s Maori. A tribal badge. A kind of good luck symbol. Perhaps something Kealoa received when he left New Zealand. Full name is Ati Kealoa, Hawaiian father, Maori mother. Has a record in New Zealand and here. Smuggling and theft, served a few years here in Oahu state for drug pushing. Nothing on paper connecting him with this character named McCann.”
“But they are both in the drug trade,” McGarrett pointed out.
Ben nodded. “Coconut wireless puts the big shipment of drugs in from Asia. Kealoa or his buddy, McCann, are bringing in drugs. They wipe out anyone who is in their way,” he speculated.
Glancing at Williams, the boss ruminated, “It’s possible he was behind the attack on Danno and me last night, AND I’m betting they murdered Sugar Cane and Marty to keep news about their shipment safe.”
“And Shark-bait,” Duke announced to them as he briskly entered the room.
“What about Shark-bait?” Dan wanted to know, still anxious to catch the criminal who had so adroitly eluded him yesterday.
Lukela gazed at him grimly. “His body was found this morning. Gunshot to the head.”
McGarrett looked first to Williams, whose face tightened at the news.
“Everyone around Kealoa is dying,” the boss mused aloud. “Sugar Cane, Marty and Shark-bait. They knew too much about Kealoa and McCann’s operation. It has to be!”
He pieced together a supposition and shared it with his detectives. The girl somehow picked up the information from her boyfriend. Maybe tried to sell it to Marty and he had to die. Five-0 was getting close to ruining McCann and Kealoa’s operation, so now the detectives were targets.
“That would fit with what we’ve uncovered so far,” Kelly agreed.
Preoccupied, Williams commented he wished he would have caught up with Shark-bait the day before in Waikiki. He would have been alive to talk today!
McGarrett was more philosophical. “I’d rather have a mystery to solve, even a homicide to solve, and you in one piece and out of the hospital where you can do some good.” Williams shrugged a reluctant assent. “Danno, go over to the morgue and see what Doc can tell you about the COD on Shark-bait. Ben, keep digging on Kealoa, we want to find him. Chin, try to get a line on this elusive McCann. He’s got to be under one rock or another.”
When Williams walked into the office area of the morgue, Bergman glanced up, over his half-glasses, and studied him for a moment. “You don’t look like you fell off a bus.”
Growling under his breath, he sighed, “How did you find out?”
“Asked with all the innocence of a man who has never been married! Mai Kelly and Doris Lukela have open communications lines with my wife, remember?”
Displeased that he was going to get grief from the Doc over the chase, Williams assured the man that he had not fallen off a bus. Nor was he injured.
The ME shook his head in exaggerated long-suffering, pushed himself away from the desk, and led the way into the vault room. Two tables stood in the cool, open area. One was covered with a white sheet-draped body.
“You know Steve’s been having his gray hair touched up ever since you came aboard at Five-0. He’s going to need more than touch ups if you keep insisting on pulling stunts like the one you pulled yesterday,” he conversationally chattered as he moved around the corpse.
Rolling his eyes, bracing for another lecture, Williams wondered if he should try a weak defense that would be ignored, or just roll with the punches and let the coroner grouse. Moving on the other side of the gurney, he opted for silence as Bergman gave him a stern stare.
“I would hate to be standing here some day with Steve across from me and you on this slab between us. Use some caution, Danny.”
“All right,” Williams sighed, “I hear you -- enough of the lecture, Doc. What can you tell me about your client here?”
Like Marty Kona, this latest victim was killed with close-range 9mm slug. Bruises around the face, broken fingers and numerous contusions were consistent with beatings. Similar to Marty’s murder, Shark-bait, Bergman noted, was tortured before he was shot. The coroner showed the officer a bullet hole in the victim’s temple. The gun powder residue on the skin was certainly a tattoo of the close range of the shot.
Later, after more phone calls and legwork, Williams offered his lackluster report to his boss. He related that Kealoa and McCann’s locations were still unknown. His personal opinion, though, matched his leader’s – that the two drug runners were feeling threatened and were trying to eliminate all pressure.
“Do we have a picture of this guy McCann yet? We don’t even know who we’re looking for,” McGarrett mused as he absentmindedly leafed through a report in his hand.
“An old mug shot,” Dan offered. “Interpol sent a recent photo, but it’s a grainy profile shot from a telephoto lens. He’s got long hair and a mustache – that’s about all you can tell.”
For some moments, the chief was quiet, pinching his lip as he leaned back in his chair, deep in thought. Slowly turning his gaze on his detective, he nearly unnerved the younger man.
“I’m going to order Ben and Chin AND you, to stick together from now on. I’m getting some bad vibes, Danno, and I want no one on their own. This McCann seems to want to play dirty and I don’t want to make it easy for him to take us out. Got that?”
He could have been insulted at the stern tone which bordered on accusation, but Williams knew it was generated from anxiety over him. The Kaikua'ana -- big brother – effect. “I got it,” he agreed. “But it applies to you, too, Steve,” he warned firmly.
“Agreed. Then I think it’s time we do something proactive.” McGarrett came to his feet and grabbed his jacket. “Come on, let’s go – together -- back to Waikiki.”
Williams hoped it would inch them into some kind of progress on the stalled case – an investigation where they were quickly running out of time.
Lowen, the barkeep at the Coconut Hut was unhappy to see them. Before he could protest, McGarrett came down hard. “Three bodies in three nights.” He stabbed the counter with his finger. “We’re not leaving here until you spill the goods on the drug runners who are using your place for a shooting gallery. These victims were tortured. If you don’t want to be arrested as an accessory, you’d better start talking!”
The man was clearly scared. “All right, but I need protection. These guys mean business and they talk with the wrong end of a gun!”
“You’ll get protection.”
The bartender admitted that Marty told him he was working on a scoop with a drug deal. Something big enough to put him on top in the newspaper game again. Shark-bait knew too. The kid was squeezing Kealoa to get in on the action. Then bodies started turning up. He insisted that was all he knew.
Leaning elbows on the bar, he was tossing peanuts in and out of a woven basket. “Where’s Kealoa?” Williams asked.
“He hasn’t been back since two nights ago when Marty got it. I never saw him last night. If he was here, he came in the back.”
McGarrett shook his head. “You’ve got to do better than that if you want us to protect you.”
“I don’t know! That’s the truth! Shorty -- he might know. He knows everything that’s shaking in Waikiki.”
Williams glanced at his friend. “I can go find Shorty, and press him for some answers.”
“All right,” the lead detective agreed. “I’ll take Lowen back to the office for a statement and get him into protective custody.” McGarrett walked to the end of the bar and waited for the man to gather some things and join them.
Standing shoulder to shoulder with him, Williams smirked. “Isn’t that violating your mandate to stick together?”
At the door to the bar, McGarrett stopped to give his second-in-command a stern glare. “I’m trusting you to watch your back, Danno,” he warned with rigid resolve. “I’ll send Duke down to help you out.”
“I’m sure I’ll be fine ‘til he comes to the rescue,” the younger man smirked. “What about you? Should I trust you alone with this guy?” he teased.
“I think I can handle it,” the boss rolled his eyes. “Thanks for the caution, officer.”
Grinning, Williams waved and walked out to the curb with them. After they drove away, he headed Diamond Head.
Another prefect day in paradise went unappreciated by Williams as he walked Kalakaua Avenue, asking local contacts about Shorty. Pounding streets in scenic, beautiful Waikiki, made it marginally, peripherally pleasant, but Dan was too distracted to appreciate the brilliant blue of the waves and sky, the cottony clouds and fresh breeze.
Mind on the death of the street kid, Shark-bait, he was committed to not going back to the Palace without Kealoa. If only he could have caught Shark-bait, the kid would still be alive. The guilt motivated him to find Shorty. So far Duke had not rendezvous’ed with him, and he was not going to wait around. He felt too pressured to do his part to solve this case.
The slender Asian was intercepted entering a tourist shop near the Beachcomber. Before the snitch could offer any sarcastic comments, Dan cornered him at the back of the store.
“I need to find Kealoa now, Shorty. No negotiations, no tap dancing around. There’s a string of bodies attached to this guy –“
“I know, I know,” he hissed under his breath, looking around to make sure they were not attracting attention. “You know I’m gonna lose business if we keep being seen together, Williams. So I’m giving this to you free so you will leave me alone! Kealoa’s been hanging out at a friend’s place on Kapahulu. Next door to the bakery. Now go!” he shoved Williams’ shoulder before hastily slipping through some clothing racks and skipping to the door to avoid further exposure to the cop.
Using the phone in the store, Williams called for back up to meet him there. Three officers, in two patrol cars, arrived within moments. The address on Kapahulu was stormed in a show of overkill force. No one was home except two scared-to-death cats, who screeched out a back window when the officers crashed in the front and back doors. Searching the small, two-bedroom house, there was no immediate, obvious clue to Kealoa’s whereabouts.
Stopping at a patrol car, Williams decided to radio McGarrett and update him. Then he would probably return to Waikiki and press more people for information about Kealoa. He was determined not to go back without this guy in cuffs.
Before he reached the mic, the radio announced a robbery in progress just two blocks away. Not wanting to get involved with a sidetracking incident, Williams told the officers to go, he would walk back to the main strip.
Checking out several places he’d visited the day before, Dan enjoyed the scenery and the engaging conversations with the waitresses at the Longboard. When he reached the blond at the shave ice stand, he ordered another rainbow treat and talked about Shark-bait and Kealoa. He was almost finished with the interrogation-meal-flirtation when the blond gave over a valuable tidbit. Shark-bait often bragged about his pal Kealoa’s bachelor pad. A little loft over on Ohia by the Ala Wai. Thanking her with a wink, she reminded him that he still had her phone number and she expected a call as a reward for her help.
Dan had come out to Waikiki with McGarrett, leaving him without wheels while on his own. He could stay and keep an eye out for Kealoa, but he should have a vehicle for that. Should he commandeer a patrol car? Too conspicuous. Or he could head over to his nearby condo and pick up the Mustang. Standing near the beach, looking across at the glistening blue/silver water, feeling the warmth of the sun on his face, enjoying the sea breeze, he decided to indulge in the pleasure of his environment. The Mustang had no police radio. He would have to hope Duke spotted the well-known Mustang and would meet up with him. It would also be a nice way to tail a suspect. Besides the obvious pleasure and comfort, Kealoa would never think he was being followed by a cop in a convertible Mustang. Hailing a pedicab, he gave the driver his address and sat back to enjoy the short ride.
Stopping in at his apartment, Dan called the office. He tried a patch through to Duke, who was out of his patrol car – probably out looking for him in Waikiki. McGarrett, Chin and Ben were all out, but he left a message with Jenny. He was going to try finding Duke, and then watch out for Kealoa somewhere around Ohia and Ala Wai, and would be out of touch for a while.
Cruising back to Waikiki, he drove the Mustang to the address just off the Ala Wai. Sitting at the curb, he wondered if he should go up and check the small cluster of tiny apartments where he thought the loft place might be, and see if anyone was home. That would be very risky, especially alone. Steve’s stern warnings echoed in his mind. He never had found Duke, and if anything perilous happened, Steve would have his head if he didn’t have back up. Contrary to what his colleagues sometimes thought, he had no death wish. If he confronted Kealoa – who might be with McCann – he would want help.
Before he came to a decision, Kealoa exited one of the apartments! Thrilled to have his quarry in sight, he had no time to think as the suspect hurriedly jumped into a white Impala and drove off. Tailing the man, Williams wondered how he was going to alert the rest of the team of his whereabouts. As they cruised along Kalakaua, Williams stopped at a red light in front of Keoki’s parking garage. Waving the kid over, Dan quickly gave him a message to pass along to McGarrett.
Striding into the anteroom at full speed, McGarrett paused when Jenny reported there was an urgent message from Chin for Steve to contact him. There was also a telex from Interpol. And Danny had called in – she took notes if he was interested. Taking the telex, then the memo sheets, Steve crossed into his office and to his desk. By the time he sat down the call to Kelly was through.
“What have you got, Chin?”
“Paul McCann came in several days ago from Tokyo,” the officer reported. “Using one of the aliases Interpol has on him. Finally tracked him down. He had a British passport, and the customs agent said he spoke with an English accent. He’s got long blond hair and is clean shaven, had a small carry on bag, no luggage. No clue where he headed. That’s all we know.”
Listening and scanning the telex, McGarrett whistled. “I just got a reply from Interpol, Chin. You and Ben get back here right away. We’ve got to move on this. McCann’s been traveling in the Far East. They confirm he’s on their wanted list under several names and has warrants out for being a major player for arranging drug deals. Thought to be a big time gangster for IRA!” He snapped an angry aside,, “Why didn’t they tell us all this in the first place!” McCann’s an assassin/deal maker,” he read, his voice tightening along with his nerves. “Runs drugs to finance IRA violence!,” he quoted. “Expect him to be armed and dangerous, it says!” He gruffed as he slapped the paper on his hand in fury. “Why didn’t they tell us this before the shooting started?”
“We sure fell into a lava pit with this guy,” Chin whistled.
“Yeah. Get some HPD guys at the airport to run down any cabs or rental car agencies he might have contacted. We need a location on this guy wikiwiki.”
Ending the connection, he read over the information again to absorb it all. Then he snapped the intercom, asking Jenny if Williams or Lukela had checked in.
“Yes,” she responded. “Duke and Danny have been missing each other in Waikiki. Danny said he was going to stake out a place for Kealoa. Then someone named Keoki called to say Danny had taken the Mustang and was following a lead on the Ala Wai, and he would be out of radio contact.”
Irritated that his officer had – again – placed himself into a hazardous situation, he asked for a blanket HPD location check on Williams’ Mustang. If any patrol units spotted Danno they were to contact him. Meanwhile, he decided to head out to Waikiki to try and connect with his second-in-command.
Over the car radio, Steve received promising information from Kokua. Kealoa’s family owned property in the hills behind Hawaii Kai. Enough room for a possible staging area of contraband. Quickly following that was a patch through from an HPD unit. They had spotted Williams’ Mustang heading Koko Head. Did Danno have a lead on his own to Kealoa’s place and been unable to contact them? Switching back to his office, McGarrett requested back up to join him at the Hawaii Kai location.
In the back hills sweeping up from the picturesque bay of Hawaii Kai, far from the marina and track houses, Kealoa wound along a narrow, one-lane paved street. Dan parked the Mustang at a curb in the last residential area until the suspect was out of his view. Then he crawled the Mustang forward, up the winding road, gliding around the curves, wary of any surprise.
Only subliminal appreciation for the beauty around him registered, but Williams recognized he was cruising into a tremendous area. A few isolated houses were perched up here in the foothills, commanding incredible views of the Hawaii Kai inlet scenically bordered by gently sloping mountains.
At each dirt driveway he paused, scanning for Kealoa’s car, then slowly moved on to the next house. The lots were huge, covered with wild banana, guava and palm trees. The area gave the impression of seclusion; remote sanctuaries overlooking the Pacific, tranquility and serenity in a pocket of Eden. His dancing nerves dispelled the idyllic image, attesting to the fact that he was aware on an instinctive level that raw danger lurked here, and at any moment the paradise could explode into a killing field.
Kealoa’s old Impala appeared around the next curve. Williams pulled the Mustang onto the shoulder near a grove of banana trees. Quietly exiting, he strolled along the edge of the tree line, observing the small wooden house nestled within a grove of pine trees, from front and side. Parked toward the back of the lot was a dark sedan. He walked along, through the trees, to check on exits – windows and doors – also listening, alert for any sign that he might have been spotted.
Should he go for back-up? Leave and call for assistance now that he had his suspect cornered? Caution, brought on by the lectures of his friends – mostly Steve’s livid anger at his risk the other day – his warnings of today -- made him pause. Was he out of line on this? He knew how upset he had been at danger to Steve, and appreciated his friend’s extreme concern for his safety. It gave him enough pause that he decided he needed to drive back down the hill and find the nearest phone.
The familiar crack of a gunshot made him jump. The sound was so unexpected in this peaceful setting. Drawing his revolver before the echo died away, he skipped forward, knowing the decision had been made for him, and he was plunged into a course of action whether he wanted to be or not. Assessing that he had not been hit by a bullet – and that the sound was far enough way to indicate it was probably not a shot fired in his direction – he sprinted toward the sound, well aware he was entering a dangerous situation.
Racing around the back of the house, he spotted Kealoa’s body on the ground by the sedan. Before he could turn his head to check out the house, he felt the ominously familiar cold of a gun barrel touching his neck.
It was not until McGarrett turned onto the winding, single-lane road ascending up the hillside behind Hawaii Kai that he received a response to his order for back up. To his irritation, the patrolmen assigned to the area had been out of their car for awhile looking for a missing hiker. They never heard his call, but now, they were on their way -- their ETA was about ten minutes — just as Steve reached Kealoa’s house. Disgruntled at the report, but accepting it, McGarrett signed off. Turning around the next bend, he sharply applied the brakes as his stomach tightened into a knot. There was the white Mustang parked on the shoulder of the road. Danno had beaten him here, and was no where in sight.
In a flash-instant, Dan recognized his terrible – perhaps fatal -- mistake -- falling for an obvious trick -- something startling in plain sight – Kealoa’s body -- to take his attention away from the real danger! The cold muzzle at the base of his skull filled him with anger, and made his skin crawl with fear. Whoever was at the other end of the weapon had already proved deadly intent.
“Give up the gun, Williams. Give it up and empty your pockets.”
The obvious surprise must have registered – had he just flinched or sucked in a breath at his name?
“Yeah, I know you. I’ve been doing my research on my adversaries here in your beautiful paradise. Kealoa was a useful associate, until he got greedy and I had to eliminate him like the others.”
Accent. British? British Isles. Admission of murder. Revealing too much information. That did not bode well, Dan considered in the space of a few seconds. The gunman did not expect him to live to talk about this encounter.
“McCann,” he hissed. Emulating his mentor, he hoped to rattle this guy. Maybe surprising the gunman would work in his favor.
There was a deep, cruel laugh. “Smart copper, aren’t you? So you know me. Well, I know all about your Five-0 bunch. Your boss is a sly one. Anyone who does business in your fair paradise has to know who might come sneaking around to try to foul best laid plans.”
“You’re just going to murder a Five-0 officer?” Dan countered with a sneer. “If you know about us, about McGarrett, you know that’s a dumb idea.” He hoped his voice sounded tough, stern, controlled – the opposite of what he felt like inside with tendrils of fear crawling along his spine. Buy time. Reason. “You think you can get away with that?”
“Don’t you worry about that, junior Five-0 lad,” came an accented voice. “You just hand over the gun good and careful.”
Surrender his weapon – never a good idea. Why? What did this guy have in mind? Why didn’t he just murder him with a bullet to the head like the MO with all the others? Not that he was arguing, but he resisted disarming, even though it might buy him some time.
The sound of a car engine stopped the monolog.
The gun dug deeper into his neck. “I believe we have company.”
A car door opened and slammed shut.
A bruising grip on his shoulder made it unable for him to casually turn and learn the identity of the new arrival. “Now you want to live for a few more minutes, you do what I say,” he quietly spat in Dan’s ear.
Live a few more minutes. Or die instantly with a bullet in his brain. Not much of a choice. Why? Who had arrived? Could Duke have found him?
“Danno!” came a low, cautious call.
Dan instinctively flinched. Steve! Hope surged momentarily – McGarrett was here – to the rescue just in time . . . . The voice was close . . . . No – Steve was going to walk into a trap!
“Danno?” came the whisper behind his ear. “McGarrett’s little pet name for you? Okay, detective, a change in plans,” the man behind him hissed. “You call the big kahuna cop. Tell him it’s all okay. Then we’ll have a little meeting here.”
Both of them were going to die unless he did something to stop it! He couldn’t allow Steve to walk into a trap! This was not about the kaikaina protectiveness. Protectiveness went both ways – to his Kaikua'ana, too. Call Steve over here to be killed? Lure him into an ambush so both of them would die? Never! Intently aware of the weapon at his neck, Dan knew to issue any warning at all would buy his certain death. Not acceptable, either. He would not passively surrender his life, but he would certainly do that before he sacrificed Steve’s.
“Tell him to come here!” McCann hissed, digging the barrel into his neck.
Options? Fight back. He didn’t have a chance, he knew, but it seemed the only alternative. He would not lure Steve into a deadly trap, but he would not go down easily. And if he was lucky, maybe he could move fast enough, unexpectedly, and take this guy down. At least it would serve as a warning if nothing else, and Steve would have time and be alerted. His life would be saved.
“What do you want?”
A hand gripped onto his shoulder. “First, I want your gun, laddie.” The barrel dug into his flesh. “Just remember I have the power of life or death over you.”
“You’re going to kill me anyway,” he knew without doubt. “Why should I let another cop walk into your trap?”
“You make a move, or a sound to warn McGarrett, and I drop you cold right now. Got that?”
He got it better than McCann would ever understand. If there was going to be another death on this mountain, only one Five-0 detective would need to die today. “Yeah. Got it”
“Now give me your weapon in the next two seconds or you will never know what hit you. Just be assured your friend won’t live, either. Your only hope is to get McGarrett back here so I have you both. Then we talk.”
“Okay.” Dan felt the apprehension build in his body. Talk. The only conversation would be from the barrel of a pistol. Tensing his right hand, he knew he would have to move faster than he ever had in his life. There would be only one chance at this. “Here’s the gun.”
Slowly, he raised his arm, lifting the .38 toward his back. He knew the gunman’s attention would be on his weapon. Slightly dipping his left shoulder, he suddenly pushed, shoving with all his might, throwing the assailant back.
The gunman’s weapon discharged, plowing like a fiery lance into the back of Dan’s shoulder. Pain and shocked nerves went limp, nearly causing him to drop his revolver, but he was fighting for his life, and Steve’s. Force of will enabled him to hang tough. Making a near-full circle turn, his revolver fired as a second bullet ripped into him and he fell back against a tree, sliding to the ground.
Drawing his revolver as he ran, McGarrett knew it was crazy to plunge into a firefight blind, but panic drove his motion as he sped around the house. Three shots reported, echoed in the still hills, two of them loud like thunder cracks, pinging perilously close to him as he dove for cover. Not seeing any suspect, McGarrett could not return fire until another salvo rained on him. From protection behind a wide tree, he saw the muzzle flash and returned fire. Then silence.
Danno had never responded to him. Where was Danno?
The echo of a metallic CLICK. An empty weapon? Then running footsteps sounded. Someone leaving in a hurry. He held his defensive ground for a moment, scanning the area. The Mustang was parked on the road, his officer had not answered. The Impala he had spotted was probably McCann’s or Kealoa’s. Armed and dangerous…
Slowly… cautiously, he edged to another tree, making agonizingly slow progress around the house. A dark sedan was parked in the back. Why didn’t Danno answer!?! Circling around, he warily tracked between the car and the house.
He had to do a double-take to identify a still arm extended past the front tires of the sedan as he skidded to a halt. Cautiously peering around the bumper, he caught a glimpse of an arm, splashed red, and breathed again, knowing the visible body part did not belong to his friend. Moving around, he ID’d the body as that of Kealoa. He touched the thick, scarlet dotted wrist, and felt a faint pulse before he moved over to pick up the red-tinted pistol in the dirt. Nerves still tight, his anxiety escalated. A body – a shooting – why didn’t Danno respond?
Angling to the front of the car he spotted the lower part of a motionless body on the ground. Black shoes; blue suit trousers. A gasp trembled through his chest.
He took that in with only a quick glance, knowing there could be more danger -- he allowed only a second of thought to that -- did not allow the deduction, the speculation of the still body to impress him yet. Danno – looked dead. Evaluating and judging the full horror of the discovery was yet on the horizon of his thoughts.
The ignition of an engine echoed through the hills. Tires screeched, and the roar of the car receding quickly. Someone had just escaped. Then, there was ominous, disturbing quiet. Silence. In his gut, he knew it all felt dire. Someone making a fast getaway after an ambush.
Only now could he devote his attention to the downed officer whose questionable fate had screamed at him this whole time. Slowly stepping around to a full view of Williams, slumped against a tree, he was first aware of the blood spreading across the blue shirt and suit. Breathing -- the chest was moving slowly and erratically up and down. Now, as he shakily knelt, he heard the frightening scrape of air moving in and out of damaged lungs.
Alive! He was alive! In that moment, he knew he expected the worst. That eventuality might still come to pass, he felt, as he took in the evidence of horrific wounds. Trembling, his fingers felt for a pulse on a bloody and slickly, tacky neck. Weak, shallow, faint. Barely hanging on, his mind screamed. Not far enough from death.
“Danno,” he could hardly whisper.
The eyelids flickered, struggled to open, and slowly managed to allow tortured blue eyes to vacantly stare at him. Lips parting, he attempted to speak, but coughed out blood instead, groaning in pain, and curling over, blood dribbling from his mouth. McGarrett gripped onto him to stop his decent to the dirt.
Knowing he should run back to the car and call an ambulance, Steve feared to let go. No, he was not leaving Danno’s side for one second. Terrified there was no time, that this might be the last, tentative thread of life left in his friend, he would not desert.
At the back of his mind, he knew he was abandoning Kealoa, maybe even others – dead or alive – it didn’t matter. Getting his friend out of here was the urgent crisis. He didn’t care about anyone else right now, he just had to save his officer.
“Danno, we have to get you out of here.”
The eyes still staring dully at him, Dan nodded.
Pocketing the officer’s fallen revolver, he slowly lifted Williams up. Dan’s weight fell against him and he carefully rose to his feet. As fast as he could, he wielded his burden through the quiet landscape of death, to his car. He was shaking as he slammed the sedan out of the drive, onto the road, then a residential street, speeding toward the hospital.
Slumped against him, Dan wheezed, bled, moaned in pain. “Steve . . . .”
“I’m here.” He gripped tighter to Dan’s shoulder. “On the way to the hospital.”
Nodding, Dan tried to speak again, but coughed instead in a suffering, wracked knot of blood-clogged-air.
“Don’t talk,” Steve nearly shouted. “Just breathe. Hang on. We’re close, Danno.” The wheezing increased. It seemed tighter and harder now. “Hang on. Come on, stay with me.”
“Mc—McCann – ”
He growled under his breath. “McCann. I didn't get him, no.” So it was McCann who had gunned down his friend and set up the ambush. His voice shook with inner turmoil. “But I will, I promise you, Danno.”
“Get – you –“
“– wants – kill – you –“
“Okay, okay, just be still, breathe!”
“Suckered,” Dan mumbled. “Dis -- distracted . . . .”
“It’s okay, Danno. Don’t worry about it now. Just breathe.”
“Never saw -- behind – McCann . . . .”
McGarrett divided his attention between speeding along the highway and holding onto Danno. He worked at keeping Dan’s attention -- not necessarily to talk, but to keep him conscious and alive. He feared Williams’ dipping into the unconscious blackness of death. Afraid if he passed out there would never be an awakening. He didn’t care a bit about the criminals right now, or any details that might pertain to the case. He wanted Dan to keep thinking, continuing to work the lungs, staying connected to him.
“McCann and Kealoa. I know. Don’t say anything, you can give a report later. Plenty of time later.” He hoped desperately, an assurance as much for his own nerves as his friend’s. “You can tell me all about it after you’re patched up.”
McGarrett wanted to call ahead to Leahi Hospital and alert them to the incoming emergency patient. The way Danno was bleeding and having trouble breathing he was afraid of a lung shot. Both hands, however, were occupied and he couldn’t remove either one.
His eyes darted to the mic. Call ahead. The mantra pounded in his brain. It was okay. He could let go of Williams’ chest just for a few seconds. Call dispatch. Let the hospital know they were coming in hot. Let go. Don’t be superstitious. Danno was not going to give up on him in those few seconds.
“Tr…rrap.. So – sorrryyy . . .”
Okay, Danno was still talking. He had to keep his friend awake and thinking. Stay with me, Danno.
“Trap? You’re saying trap… He trapped you?” he asked, despite his earlier admonition for his friend to not talk.
“McCann,” he wheezed. “. . . sorry . . .”
“There’s nothing to be sorry about,” he fought out, nearly choking that his friend was apologizing.
With a pat on his friend’s chest he raced, his hands trembling, his ability to concentrate on driving or anything else remote compared to staying connected to his friend. While he did not want to encourage talking, he had to keep Dan awake and alert.
In meaningless narration, he discussed how everything was going to be all right. Help was close. He had done his duty and there was nothing to worry about. Realizing he was slurring gibberish, his panic pushed him to be serious about asking for help. Danno was bleeding profusely and immediate medical attention would save minutes, critical seconds, which could spell the difference between life and death.
Quickly his hand flew to the mic and he called dispatch. Rapid fire words shot out, tersely, hastily explaining the emergency. Darting glances at his friend, he saw the lips moving, the chest heaving in labored breathing. Okay, stay with me. He sacrificed a few more seconds in an alert to notify an ambulance, crime team and Five-0 about the survivor in the hills. Then he flung the mic down and snapped his hand back to support Williams.
“. . die . . . kill . . . you . . . .” Danny’s head dropped to hit the window. “Soooo--rrrr--yyyy,” he scraped out.
In that flash of contact on some deep and intrinsic level, he read churning emotions: desperation, terror, resolution, pride. With a chill coursing along his entire skin, Steve knew Danno was trying to tell him something vital in the broken communications.
“All right, Danno! Come on, Danno, finish the report! Keep talking till we get to the hospital. Danno!” he cried, alarmed there was no response from his friend.
Duke, Chin and Ben walked in the door, discussing the progress, or lack thereof over the course of the day. While the officers chatted, Jenny finished sorting a few papers, and then placed the cover on the typewriter preparatory to leaving.
“Didn’t you hear the boss and Danny went up to Hawaii Kai,” she told them. “Checking out that guy Kealoa. I thought you’d be with them.”
“I’ve been trying to find Danny all afternoon,” Duke replied. “He was in that car of his without a radio and we never met up. Glad he’s with Steve.”
“We’ve been out on the streets,” Chin motioned between himself and Ben.
“Did he want us to meet him?” Ben wondered.
“That’s what I thought he arranged,” the secretary shrugged. “Danny was meeting him there and he called for HPD back up.”
“We’ll call him,” Chin suggested.
As usual, the police radio behind Sherman’s desk was on, but the low volume reports served as background chatter all the staff learned to tune out except for relevant information. The dispatch report for Five-0 to respond to a crime scene in Hawaii Kai seemed to leap to their attention, all responding to the subliminal recognition of an alert for the unit.
Jenny jumped and grabbed the mic, handing it to Duke who was the closest officer.
“This is Lukela. What’s the crime scene involving Five-0?”
“McGarrett reported a suspect down, no officers on site when he left. APB out on Paul McCann, driving an older model Impala. Patrol unit Bravo Seven-one is responding and will be on scene momentarily, but McGarrett has ordered Five-0 to the crime scene.”
The tense officers and secretary exchanged confused and worried glances.
“Why did he leave the scene?” Chin asked, voicing the bewilderment obvious in all of the staff.
Lukela asked dispatch that very question. Every one of the four gasped when the response came over the speaker.
“McGarrett is en route to Leahi Hospital with a wounded officer.”
Jenny groaned. Ben sucked in a sharp breath and muttered Hawaiian words that Lukela did not quite catch. Exchanging a dark and dreaded glance with Chin, he knew they were all thinking the same thing. Officer wounded. McGarrett leaving a crime scene unattended. There could only be one person the head of Five-0 would do that for – only one reason – a desperate one -- that would drive him to vacate his duty.
“Danny,” Lukela whispered unnecessarily. It felt like his temperature had dropped twenty degrees. Not Danny, please, he prayed. Not the young officer who had saved his life yesterday! Not the kid brother whom everyone had adopted as the favorite detective to tease, to laugh with, to count on when they needed a cool, clear head and a sharp aim. Not Danny! It would destroy Steve. All of them would suffer, but Steve – he couldn’t even imagine what this was going to do to the boss.
“I’m heading over to Leahi,” Ben told them instantly.
“I’ll go out to Hawaii Kai,” Chin chose.
Jenny’s eyes were watering, but she sniffed in a deep breath. “I’ll stay here and hold down the fort,” she offered. “But you better call when you find out anything,” she sternly ordered them.
Ben was already out the door. Chin and Duke gave her quick hugs.
“We will,” Duke promised.
She hugged him back. “You better go with Ben. Steve’s going to need friends there. He won’t think so. And if he orders you to go to work, you just ignore him.”
Duke patted her shoulder and agreed that he would. All of them left unvoiced the logical and reasonable viewpoint that no one would dare disobey McGarrett’s orders. This time, however, they were working from a different code. McGarrett had left a crime scene, had not called directly to Five-0, in a crisis. That meant the emergency was extreme. That indicated whatever the standard practice around here was, it was altered now. Williams was in trouble – Steve was in turmoil – and the rest of them would do whatever they needed to support the two top detectives.
Steve quickly darted his eyes back to the road, swerving the car to readjust. Almost ran into the other lane of traffic, he sighed. Taking too long to assess his friend. The white, drained skin pallor, the slumped body, the blood soaking through Dan’s suit, spilling onto Steve’s hand, shirt sleeve, jacket, and onto the seat cushion were gripping his attention. With difficulty he zipped his eyes back to the road for long moments, but always went back to his concentration on Williams.
Steve didn’t care about what had happened, the details of the report. He wasn’t worried about the blood – the stains on himself or the car. The only thing that mattered was what would happen in the next few minutes.
“Trap . . .” Dan coughed.
Taking his eyes again from the road, he stared at the face that seemed cognizant, though veiled in pain. Dan’s blue eyes turned to stare at him and they seemed to look into his mind and soul, revealing the view inside Dan’s soul as well. There was something important his friend desperately wanted to tell him. McGarrett wanted to keep him talking, keep him rooted here to reality and not fade away – afraid if Williams slipped into the darkness his friend would never return. Every breath fought out of the damaged chest, every morsel of energy, cost the wounded detective a little piece of survival.
“Sooorrryyy,” he whispered again.
“It’s all right, don’t worry about anything, Danno,” he assured, his heart cracking every time Dan suffered to struggle out a message to him. They were obviously important words for the victim, but Steve just wanted him to survive, to use the breath and energy to live.
At the honk of a horn, McGarrett glanced back at the road, appalled he had veered into the opposite lane again. Upset at the reasons for his friend’s injury -- compounding his panic at the wounds -- he gripped hard on the steering wheel, removing his hand from supporting Dan long enough to wipe his face dry. Unsure if he needed to issue a rebuke or thanks, he knew his heart was too fractured to verbally respond at all. He opted to pat his friend’s arm instead, hoping his emotions would be conveyed in that familiar response.
Dan’s head sagged to the side, heavily leaning on Steve’s arm, and McGarrett glanced over to see Dan seemed completely drained of life.
“Danno!” Steve held his breath to hear the painful, if reassuring scrape from Williams’ lungs. Not hearing anything, he shook the drooping shoulder. “Danno! Come on! Don’t do this! Don’t give up now!”
The hospital was just up ahead and he was torn between stopping and proving that his friend was still alive, or racing on to help. He chose to rocket around the corner through the last intersection and screech up to the ER with reckless speed. He leaped out, yelling, opening the passenger door and dragging Dan over. Attendants took over for him and lifted the drooping body from his arms. The transfer to a gurney was made on the run.
Amid shouts that the patient was DOA, around the squishing sound of Dan’s chest being compressed by one attendant -- the sight of blood splattering on the white uniforms as they ran to a room -- Steve felt only his forward momentum kept him on his feet. Weak inside and out, drained and filled only with dread, he ran behind the knot of medical personnel working on his friend, muttering prayers and demands.
Pacing in the waiting room, McGarrett knew he had duties to perform, but he had trouble focusing on even the simplest tasks. While waiting, his mind kept playing over alternatives he could have taken – steps -- right and wrong -- from the moment he arrived at the grounds of the quiet house.
Alternately, as he paced, he felt cold and warmed at the depth of his emotions, at the profound link that gave he and Danno an opportunity to communicate without words. He wiped the sweat off his face and hugged his arms around his chilled chest. He couldn’t stop the shaking of his limbs and forced himself to keep moving to ward off the extreme physical reactions to the tragedy.
McGarrett glanced up to meet the worried looks of Lukela and Kokua.
“Are you all right?” Duke asked him. “Where are you hurt?”
“Why haven’t they treated you?” Ben blurted out, shocked. “We thought Danny was the one hurt.”
Feeling like there was a hole inside his chest, McGarrett numbly shook his head. “I’m – uh – I’m not – not the –” he shook his head, unable to explain. He was not the one hurt? How could he voice such a pronouncement when his pain was so palpable it radiated with a throbbing ache in every breath, every thought?
“Your face,” Ben pointed, flinching.
“Your jacket –” Lukela swallowed hard. “That’s not -- it's not your blood.”
McGarrett glanced at the jacket, sleeves, shirt cuff, and hands, which were soaked red. Realizing Ben was staring at his face, Steve knew inadvertently he must have smeared himself with blood. He couldn’t deal with explanations because that would mean formulating into words the hell he had lived through on the anguished drive here. Or articulating the pain still bubbling within. Work the case, work the mind, distract the emotions that were surging under the surface.
“Did you get to Hawaii Kai yet?”
“No, we came here first,” Kokua responded, still staring at his boss’s markings. “Chin’s taking care of that.”
“How’s Danny?” Duke finally asked the question hovering between them.
DOA – the dreaded letters reverberated in his head -- he’d heard them when they raced down the corridor. Danno had to be alive now, though, because it had been a long time. It seemed like a lifetime, but in minutes, he didn’t know. Long enough for his men to get here.
Self-conscious about how much blood Danno had lost – how much of it he was wearing – and how serious they now knew their colleague’s condition, he muttered clichés about Danno in surgery, serious but still alive.
Before he slipped up with any words more personal or revealing, he ordered them to join Kelly in the field and take care of any loose ends. They balked. Lukela voiced that they should stay there. McGarrett responded that he knew they were needed at the crime scene. What he could not express was the deeper meaning – that he could not stand for them to be here. He couldn’t bear to have them witnesses when the doctors came out here and delivered life or death news. He had to face that alone.
“Any response to the APB out on McCann?”
“Not yet. Is he the one who shot Danny?”
“Yeah. I’m fine here. Just a waiting game.” He stared at the operating room doors. “Go help Chin.”
“Jenny made us promise to stick with you,” Duke countered.
“So Jenny’s giving the orders now?” he tried to joke and his grave voice only made the flat message sound pathetic.
“I guess you don’t know how she runs the outer office,” Duke countered, his attempt to lighten the mood slightly more successful.
“I’ll square it with Jenny,” he promised and dredged up the hint of a smile. “Go on. I’ll call and – keep in touch.”
The officers nodded and left without another comment. What could they say? They knew, they understood.
McGarrett paced down to a set of chairs in the hall and shed the ruined jacket at some point; disgusted and revolted by the gluey blood that had soaked through to his shirt. He rolled up the sticky sleeves and wandered, too numb to care anymore about how he looked or felt on the outside. Inside he was dying and there was only one cure – good news at the end of this horrible wait.
Biting his lip, leaning against the wall, he stared at the OR doors, willing them to open and a smiling doctor to emerge. Hoping for good news and a happy ending to a drama filled with blood and sacrifice. His mind frequently wandered to the questions of what had happened in Hawaii Kai. How had Danno been shot? What was it he was so desperately trying to tell him? Trap. Call. Sorry. What did it mean? He couldn’t’ even remember all of Danno’s pain-filled mumblings. All he clearly remembered was the inner panic he felt, the stark fear that his friend would die before his eyes.
When the doors did open, they startled him from his glum reverie. A grim Doctor Ed Horner exited the surgery and walked toward him. A surgeon at Leahi Hospital, McGarrett knew the doctor fleetingly as a fellow member of the Pacific Golf Club. A little on edge at conferring with a casual social contact when Danno’s life was in the balance, the head of Five-0 proceeded in his usual abrupt manner when dealing with members of the medical community.
“Doctor, you’ve been with Danno? How is he?” The man’s distant demeanor slipped, glancing at McGarrett from head to toe, the doctor was visibly upset and it spiked his anxiety. Danno’s condition was his instant thought. “What?
“He was shot in the lung, Steve, and it collapsed. Adding to the tremendous amount of blood loss, it’s serious.”
“Then he’ll live,” his hope spiked, as if not hearing any details of the report.
The doctor’s face was a mask of non-emotion. “He’s holding his own, Steve. We’ve managed to repair… ” He scrutinized the officer. “Why don’t we sit down –”
“I’m fine!” he barked back.
Horner was distracted by the detective’s appearance. “Are you injured?”
“I’M FINE!” I’m not fine! He silently corrected, knowing he had never felt so emotionally frayed. “What about Danno?”
“Shall we get you cleaned up? I have some spare clothes –”
“I want to know about Danno! ” He snapped out, strained and impatient, his concerns escalating. What was Horner hiding? “How is he? Tell me now!”
With a nod of understanding, he explained, “I think you’ll be most interested in the general diagnosis than details about our work.”
McGarrett offered a curt nod of acknowledgement.
“He was shot twice, once in the shoulder, once in the chest which tore one lung. The internal damage is repaired, the hemorrhaging stopped.” He paused only for a moment to await more reprimands. At the silence, he continued. “The chest injury was very serious, Steve. He’s defied the odds by surviving so far. This is, of course, complicated by the extreme blood loss.”
Marginally relaxing, Steve asked when he could see the patient.
Horner glared at him. “He’s still critical, Steve. He’s in recovery, then he’ll move to ICU.”
“What – you just said –”
“His blood loss makes his serious condition precarious,” the doctor assured, holding up his hands to forestall more questions. “I’m going to monitor him now. I know that Niles Bergman is your usual physician so I took the liberty of having him contacted.”
Another relief, but McGarrett pressed with the guarded question. “He’ll be all right?”
Scowling, Horner gave the blanket assurance that ahead were possibilities of pneumonia, infection and the body unable to cope after such intense trauma. On the positive side, surgery went well, Danny was normally strong, healthy and vital. Steve should go home, and return the next afternoon. By then the patient might be stable enough for a visitor.
McGarrett objected, but was met with firm resistance at the idea of hanging around Danno’s room, or even the halls.
“You look like you could use some rest and a change of clothes,” Horner observed astringently, glancing at the detective’s bloodstained shirt. “You wouldn’t want Danny to see you like that, I’m sure.”
McGarrett resisted. “He might –” What could he say? This doctor had no understanding of his NEED to be here, or how he thought he could help Danno by just being in the same room. “I want to see him.”
“No, he’s in recovery and that needs to remain a sterile environment. You can’t go into any post-surgical areas in your condition.”
McGarrett glanced down at his appearance and understood the practical rules. Needing to see Danno for himself but not wanting to risk any further infection to the precarious medical condition, he surrendered. Danno had to have every advantage for healing.
“You can’t stay here, Steve, and there is no reason for you to do so. Danny will be monitored around the clock by a professional staff. There is no room for lurkers in ICU, its filled with life-saving equipment. Everything is taken care of for him. Your need to take care of yourself.”
Appearance noted so distastefully by the physician, Steve felt self conscious and frustrated. This doctor was pleasant on the golf course, but tough here on his own turf. Not so easy to manipulate as Bergman. Reluctantly, the head of Five-0 conceded – to himself – he must present a pretty scary picture here near the OR.
The whole situation seemed to disturb Ed, and Steve wondered if this was the first time he had professionally faced a violent and serious injury with a friend. Certainly the first time he had ever seen his golfing buddy appear like this. Steve knew in the past, and now, when his men were injured, he transformed into a monster of intensity and wrath. It was probably startling for the physician, who seemed anxious to have Bergman come and take over this nettling problem.
“You’re sure Danno’s all right?”
Horner nodded and gingerly patted the detective on his blood-encrusted sleeve. “He is stable and in good hands, I promise, Steve. He won’t wake up tonight. Go home, you’ve been through enough.”
It wasn’t the same as a brusque snap from the occasionally surly Bergman, but it had to do for now. Danno was all right. Danno would recover. Next time he came here Steve would be able to talk to him. Horner had made a good point – he’d better not look like this, he reasoned – it would scare Williams if this bloody outfit was the first sight to greet him when he awoke.
“All right, Ed,” he conceded. “Contact me if anything changes, please. I’ll be back in the morning.”
“That’s only a few hours away now – I can call you –”
“I’ll be back in the morning,” came the stern decision.
“Probably too soon,” the doctor shrugged. “Steve, he’s in the best of hands.”
Marginally relieved, irritated he could not at least see his friend, McGarrett accepted the restrictions with ill grace and left. Once out in the sweetly-scented evening air, he felt slightly recharged with optimism. The elevated attitude lasted only until he slipped into the driver’s seat of his Mercury. The stench and stain of the blood baking into the upholstery nearly made him gag. Taking a few deep breaths, he swallowed, closed the car door, rolled down all the windows, determined to get through this.
Visceral evidence of the tragedy nearly collapsed his emotions into a puddle of despair, but he fought and overcame the disturbing shudder of weakness rippling through him. Here his friend had nearly bled to death. Danno was not dead, though, he was all right.
Flinching when he touched the mic, he called Dispatch to order around the clock guards on Williams. The creed of leaving no one alone was still in force—more important than ever after what had happened to his friend. Then, forcing himself to start the car, he drove like a robot, mechanically getting from the hospital to his nearby apartment without looking at the seat again.
Despite his certainty that he would not be able to get a wink of shuteye, Steve had dropped into a near coma of renewing sleep after a purging, hot shower. He blinked as he looked at his alarm clock – SEVEN O’CLOCK!! Adrenalin virtually flung him from his bed as he took another short shower, dressed and raced out the door.
First stop – Leahi Hospital. To his tremendous frustration, the nursing staff would not allow him into the ICU room on the grounds that Doctor Horner had left strict no-visitor instructions when he left. The head nurse did take pity on the Five-0 chief long enough to assure him that the patient was listed in critical, but stable condition. She gently suggested that he try back a little later.
With thoughts of getting his hands around Ed Horner’s neck, he stomped desultorily out of the hospital. At least Danno was stable…
Next he went to HPD and ordered his recently repaired Mercury thoroughly cleaned, picking up Williams’ LTD as a replacement. Instead of then going to the office, McGarrett checked in with Jenny, who had just arrived at her desk. He assured her that Danno was stable. He admitted that he had not yet been allowed to see his friend, but brushed the fact off with a complaint about the more strict rules surrounding ICU patients.
Nerves too rattled to go sit at his desk, Steve knew had to do something to keep his mind away from the trauma over which he was still suffering. Tempted to return to the hospital, he knew it would be an exercise in futility. And he couldn’t stand the thought of aimlessly pacing halls when he could be actively doing something constructive.
Until then, he needed to piece together the crime and answer the disturbing questions plaguing him – what had Danno been doing, how had he been taken out, what did his cryptic messages mean? Gnawing at him was the horror of the shoot-out. Arriving too late to help his officer, he heard the shots and narrowly avoided being wounded or killed himself.
‘McCann -- kill . . . ‘ Danno had told him on the agonizing drive to the hospital. ‘. . . trap . . . . .’ Trap. What kind of trap? ‘Sorryl.’
Piecing the fragmented message together still made no sense. McCann wanted to kill them? Trap. It was a set up to lure the Five-0 detectives to their death? Sorry – sorry about what?
Well, he wasn’t going to get any answers to those questions until Danno regained consciousness. To get the crime straight in his mind, though, he needed to go back to the shooting scene and understand what had happened. It had been a blur when he was out here and found Danno shot. Now he could be a little more objective and study it with more of a detective’s mind set – he hoped. Emotions were still running hot and wild, the vivid memories of the tragedy still so fresh, but as usual, he hoped work could set his mind straight, or, if nothing else, distract him from the horror. With his plan of action helping to keeping him focused, he drove out to join his other detectives, who were already back in Hawaii Kai to wrap up the crime scene investigation.
Nervously rubbing his fingers together with his thumb on his right hand, Niles Bergman entered Leahi Hospital at a rapid stride. Ed Horner was known to him more as an excellent golfer rather than on a professional level. There were many doctors in Honolulu, and few had the need to interact directly with the Coroner. He had never thought his side-duty of physician-on-call to Five-0 would bring them together.
Agitatedly punching the elevator button numerous times with unnecessary repetition and violence, he muttered indiscernible reprimands to the detective in the ICU upstairs. Every Five-0 officer should come with a clearly-visible warning label attached, so anyone working with them would be forewarned that they were a highly irritating and injury-prone lot. That negligently they would adopt you with charming sociability, draw you into their circle, and then break your heart with their foolhardy heroics.
The elevator doors swooshed open and he strode in, savaging the interior button to the ICU floor. Danny. The personable, funny, endearing young man should have come with a label . . . . The metal iris opened and he hesitated. The anger and bluff was not working. He rubbed his face with trembling hands, trying to gather his shaking nerves. Few things drove fear into his soul these days – he had been through a lot in his many years. Losing this patient – that scared him. Pretending to be angry – no – he WAS angry. But it didn’t push away the tender feelings so close to the surface. Taking a deep breath, he marched down to the ICU. Having no surviving family members, never having children, he and his wife, Dora, had been drawn into the caring Five-0 family unawares.
This is what it must feel like to have children come to harm, he considered as he stopped outside the department doors. Surreptitiously crossing the fingers on his left hand, he took a deep breath and entered, hoping for good news, but the reality of his profession prepared him for tragedy.
Ed Horner was scanning a chart when he stepped to the nurse’s station. Bergman greeted the younger doctor, who seemed more nervous than he had ever seen the placid Hawaiian, with a handshake and subdued tone. The doctor led him to the patient’s bed.
Williams was attached to the usual monitors and IVs, but Bergman had to grind his teeth to restrain an audible groan. The young officer was washed-gray pale and his lips were colorless. Ed handed him the chart, but he had barely scanned it. The details had been covered over the phone, which was why Niles was distraught. Williams was gravely wounded and recovery would be an uphill battle. Lung damage, extreme loss of blood, would make the recuperation ahead tricky and uncertain.
Stepping over to the patient, he took a pulse out of habit, noting how death-like the skin seemed in its coolness. Looking down, he shook his head, his seemingly prophetic words now echoing with bitter irony in his mind. Just yesterday he had reprimanded Danny! Stood across from him with a corpse in between them!
‘I would hate to be standing here some day with Steve across from me and you on this slab between us. Use some caution, Danny.’
What happened, Danny? He wondered sadly, shaking his head. Slightly squeezing the young man’s hand, he leaned over and whispered, “We’re rooting for you, Danny. Just rest and get better. Steve is counting on you.”
Leaving the room, he drew the doctor into a corner. “Where is Steve?”
“I told him we could handle everything.”
The Coroner was skeptical, amazed. “And he believed you?”
“He was suffering,” he related in a quiet, shaken tone. “I’ve never seen anyone so – so distraught. He was covered with blood and he had no concept – he seemed oblivious to the facts – in complete denial, Niles, and his eyes – I’ve never seen him reveal so much – he was in terrible pain.”
“Yes,” Bergman sighed deeply. “When one of his men is hurt, it gets to him like nothing else. And you must know how close he is to Danny.”
“He was a different person.”
Strange how used to the alteration he was, Bergman considered. McGarrett, to the majority of people, was the tough, harsh, tight taskmaster of law on the islands. Most would never know the deep and passionate vulnerabilities lurking beneath the stern armor. When that severe exterior was pierced, it was straight to the heart. And no one held more of a soft spot in the Five-0 chief’s heart than his youngest detective.
“How did you manage to get him to leave Danny’s side?”
“I explained that Danny was stable and wouldn’t awaken today, so he could leave.”
Bergman’s gaze narrowed. “An overly optimistic viewpoint,” he countered unhappily. “You didn’t give Steve enough details to know how serious it is.” Ed stiffened at the implied criticism as the medical examiner added, “He would rather you deal with him candidly, however unpleasant!”
“Danny’s condition is critical, yes. He has a chance to recover. That is true. Remote, but true. Steve being here will not make a significant difference. I was looking out for Steve’s well-being. There is nothing more we can do for Danny.” He seemed irritated now. “I’m a surgeon, you know, I don’t deal well with grieving relatives and friends.”
“I’m the coroner!” Niles snapped back.
It seemed strange to Bergman that an ME could know how to handle this medical situation better than a surgeon!. The edge was in knowing the men involved. “Steve will want – NO – he’ll NEED to be here if Danny’s condition deteriorates! And THAT could very well happen,” he countered, his voice shaking. Upset at how perilously close Williams was to death, and that McGarrett, who would normally stick to his friend like a barnacle, had left under almost misleading advice. He didn’t want to admit it, but the words tumbled out in anger, “Ed, there’s a good chance Danny won’t make it through tomorrow!”
“I know that, Niles, but I was trying to help Steve!” the surgeon defended.
“I know.” The ME sighed – he couldn’t argue with the compassion. “Ed, just be prepared -- if Steve finds out about this maneuver – however well intentioned -- there will be hell to pay.”
“If you want to handle it differently, then you should. You’re the physician of record for both of them.”
“Yes, I am their physician,” he sighed, not sure whether he regretted that or not.
Years ago, Steve began suggesting to him that he mend a knife wound, or a gunshot nick, or a scalp laceration for McGarrett mostly, Chin or Kono occasionally, then Danny when he came aboard. It was easy for Bergman since the Five-0 detectives interacted with him often. He was known, accepted and trusted. Qualities not shared with all doctors. So he had slowly been drawn into the unofficial post of Five-0 physician. No, he did not regret it. To have passed on this sideline would have meant skipping out on a lot of irritation and anguish. It would have also left him absent of many much more pleasant memories of interactions with these just men and supportive women. He, and especially his wife, had become close friends with not only the detectives and staff, but the spouses as well. Had he not joined this group he would have missed out on so much. Sadly, his status included him today in this heartrending tragedy.
McGarrett parked to the side of the road where he had arrived before. With a chill he took a moment, leaning on his car, to study the white Mustang resting at the shoulder of the road. He would have to drive the car back, he supposed, and keep it safe until its owner could drive it again.
Mood melancholy already, he paced up to the house, eerily aware of retracing his steps. The first time this had been taken in running panic – hearing the shots – fearing what he would find. Knowing what he HAD found chilled him again.
Chin Ho Kelly was at the side of the house with Duke Lukela and Ben Kokua. The officers were working with two patrolmen to help the lab techs who were taking measurements and searching for spent shell casings. Che Fong was making notes in a book and directing an assistant to take photos of some footprints.
Aside from his own impressions and disturbance that he brought with him to this investigation, McGarrett felt an aura of tension already present. Confusion, depression and unrest. Of course that was expected since one of their comrades had been shot here, but he studied the faces of the men – not the environment – and picked up on the stress – the subtle emotions among his colleagues.
“What have you got?” he asked Kelly, hoping he did not have to voice his subliminal questions. Maybe a blanket, typical inquiry would set things up for the right response.
“That’s where Kealoa died,” Chin reported tersely, then gestured around them.
Pointedly not looking at the copious bloodstains in the dirt, nodding, remembering Jenny had related that detail this morning in their brief conversation. Kealoa dead. Dead men tell no tales. It was all up to Danno, then, to tell them what had happened. Until then, it would be up to his staff to reconstruct events and catch the criminal who had shot his friend.
He avoided the exact position of where he had found Danno, but that was where his detectives now lead him. Looking at them, not the ground, he listened to their report.
“Footprints in the soft mud show where a shooter stood,” Chin pointed out. He held up an ejected clip, bullets and shells. “Looks like maybe from a 9mm. Still had a few rounds in the clip. Some ejected rounds. I’m thinking his gun jammed.”
“Yeah,” McGarrett dryly scraped out. “I was getting plastered. I heard something – had to be his weapon jamming.” He shivered at the memory of the shoot-out, of what he had then discovered . . .” Walther PPK’s – they’ve been known to jam easily, but MI6 still favors them. James Bond’s pistol of choice.”
“What does that mean,” Ben wondered. “Another connection to McCann?”
“Danno ID’d him as the shooter,” the boss nodded. “This only confirms it.”
“We’ve been going over angles,” Kelly informed his boss gravely, gesturing to the ground. “We think we know what went down.” He stared at McGarrett with open remorse. “Did you see what happened to Danny, Steve?”
Shivers coursed along his skin. His throat was dry and he cleared it. “I didn’t see the shooting.” His voice caught at the very thought of having witnessed his friend being gunned down. If only he had been close enough to make a difference – to stop the tragedy . . . .
Kelly somberly stared at him. “Do you want to know what we found?”
The tone, the expression, were enough for him to deny the option, but he knew he could not do that. He came out here to find answers. Danno’s comments were puzzles echoing in his mind – not just the fragmented, dire words – something else. A deep intuition that there were things out here in the woods which he needed to know. He felt a desire to understand what happened to his friend – how he’d nearly lost his officer.
“Yes, tell me.”
Chin led the way over to an area where marks clearly indicated a body outline. Yes, this was where he found Kealoa.
“This is what we think the shoot out must have been like,” Kelly narrated. “We think Danny had the gun at his back, and, according to his wounds, his shoulder was from back to front.”
McGarrett flinched, nodding, not recalling if Horner had related that information to him or not.
“We talked to Doc Bergman a little while ago,” Ben supplied.
”Is Danno all right?”
Was that good or not? Should he be at the hospital? He shouldn’t have left. But he needed to see about the case, too. Needed to know his men were on the road to seeing justice done. That the fiend who shot Danno would be tracked down and captured.
McGarrett felt with a margin of relief that their known ally was on the case. Danno was in the best of hands. He needed to work on the case, now. “Go on.”
Duke quietly wondered, “You think Danny went down before you were fired on?”
“Yes,” he hoarsely recalled.
“And he knew you were here before you heard a gunshot?”
Kokua’s question puzzled him. “Does it matter?” He remembered quietly calling for his friend. The Mustang was out front. Danno was here ahead of him . . . . “Yes, I called for him. Why?”
“We think he must have shot Danny just after you arrived.”
“He must have,” Steve cringed. Danno was shot, then came the firing in his direction. “Must have,” he whispered, rushing gruffly to the point so he could stop recalling the horrific memories. So he could stop reliving the agonizing condemnation that he had been only moments too late to save his friend from the shooting.
Duke crouched down to point out the prints in the soft earth. “Looks like the footprints place the smaller man – Danny – directly in front of the gunman.” Lukela came to his feet and watched McGarrett.
He knew there was a point here, but he was missing it. Steve shook his head, knowing he should be able to think this through – would be able to think things through if not for the emotional knot of anguish over the recent event and the heavy concern for Williams. “Okay,” he deeply breathed out, “that looks like what happened. And?”
“The chest wound was from front to back.” Ben pointed to the dirt. Steve noted his hand was shaking. “So we think Danny was hit and then turned – he might have tried a – a shoot out. We think,” Kokua unsteadily reported in a subdued voice. “After he knew – you – were coming.”
“A shoot out?” McGarrett shook his head. With a gun to his back? No – Danno wouldn’t try anything so crazy…
‘McCann -- kill – trap -- ’
Trap. To lure him in to join his already captured detective? Trap. Danno was supposed to what? Be quiet? OR call him to his doom? Feeling himself tremble, he took that as emotional confirmation of the guesswork. Caught with a pistol to his back, Williams was given the order to lure McGarrett into the trap. Instead – yeah – the shootout, he quietly gasped under his breath, moaning in the anguish of the realization. Danno WOULD do something so crazy. Crazy – something foolhardy and dangerous – from the detective who jumped onto a bus to catch a suspect? A shootout with an armed criminal? To save Steve. What crazy thing WOULDN’T Danno do to save him?
Studying the lay out of the scene it became clearer with each heartbeat. The trap, the desperate folly that had no chance – to keep McGarrett from walking into a bullet. Feeling ill, Steve just nodded. Realizing his limbs were quaking as much as his insides, he wandered away, back to his car, his mind imagining the deadly scenario with painful clarity.
Knowing the pieced-together puzzle explained everything, he made it to the bumper of his car before his weak knees gave out, then leaned on the vehicle. It was futile to ask why Danno would do such a thing. All the answers were clear. Given a choice between saving his own life and saving Steve’s – no choice -- McGarrett knew with a sickening certainty. Equally as convinced, he felt his staff had correctly reconstructed the set up, the shooting, the explanation of why his second-in-command was in the hospital as opposed to both Williams and McGarrett being in the morgue.
Humbled and fractured inside, McGarrett pushed himself off the sedan and stared at the Mustang. What about Danno’s car? It had to be taken off this hill and back home – taken care of in the absence of its owner. Who would do that? Danno would want no one else entrusted with his most valued possession. HE had to drive it home and it irritated him for no good reason. Almost resenting this duty, he ordered one of the patrolmen to drop the LTD at Williams’ place.
Nearly retracing the recent, manic drive into town, McGarrett gripped the sports car’s wheel with intensity. He had been in the car many times before, in the passenger seat, enjoying the speed, the thrill of the salt-kissed wind in his hair, the warm sun on his face.
This time, in the driver’s seat, the roiling and varied emotions of the horrible day bubbled to the surface filled with darkness. The fear for his friend and the fragile emotions from the shooting now turning to anger. At Danno. What was his colleague thinking trailing a suspect in this car with no back up, no police radio, no extra ordinance. He was warned not to go anywhere alone! Certainly not after a suspect! Didn’t he learn anything from the lecture after the bus incident? Why approach the suspect alone – he could have waited for back-up – he knew it was coming! Why did he think he could win at a shoot out with a skilled mercenary pushing a gun in his back? Why did he do it? McGarrett was a veteran cop and before that a spy – didn’t he think he could take care of himself? Why didn’t he think!
By the time he whipped the Mustang into it’s parking slot and screeched to brake just inches from the concrete wall, he was churning with livid emotions Pushing out of the low car he slammed the door with a vicious sweep of violence that rocked the vehicle. What was Danno thinking – he wasn’t thinking! Pacing up the sloping driveway to street level, McGarrett growled under his breath, muttering angry comments until he reached the sidewalk. He ought to go back to the hospital right now and – what – yell at his unconscious officer? Castigate the man who nearly died because of his sacrifice? Vent the passion of affection, frustration and a broken heart at the victim who caused all these sizzling feelings to erupt? Try to scream some sense into a friend who had proven all too clearly that his spirit was as true as his selfless actions!
McGarrett stared at the ocean, pausing to release a sigh of tension which nearly broke into a sob. What was Danno thinking? He was thinking about how to save a life more important to him than his own. All the anger and irritation blew away, like sand on the Trade winds, with the tender recognition of remorse and fear. How close he’d come to losing his friend – how thin the line between life/death, heroism/cowardice, desperation/love. Danno HAD made the right choices and though Fate seemed to have turned against him in the terrible gamble with an armed opponent, he was still going to make it out of this alive. He HAD to make it.
The officer pulled up in the LTD and McGarrett took a moment to clear his face to mask any errant emotions roaring within and seeping to his countenance. When he slumped into the sedan he was back to business, immediately on the radio to receive an update on the case, and on Williams. He put into motion several other lines of investigation for other pending cases. Always in the back of his mind, though, and rippling beneath his surface, was the raw humility of what had happened the day before for him -- because of him.
Leahi Hospital was close, just a few blocks away. His mind / heart had been there since he’d left. Bergman was there, Horner had been confident, assuring him Danno would not regain consciousness soon. Still, there was no where else he felt he should be right now. His staff was working hard to find McCann – the criminal would be brought to justice for this he had no doubt. Soon he would be at the office, or out on the streets, working to track down McCann. To heal himself, he had to stop and see Danno.
Arriving at ICU, McGarrett was a little surprised to see Bergman in Williams’ room. He had the impression – or WANTED to believe – that Danno was on his way to a speedy recovery. The ME’s grim concentration on the monitor at the beside seemed suddenly ominous. Stepping into the room, he got his first clear glimpse of his officer and the pale, still form took his breath away. The last time he had seen his friend, he had been bloody, still, no longer breathing. Now, his pasty-white pallor was frightening, reminding him that his friend had suffered, had lost a great deal of blood, and during their whole harrowing trip had trouble fighting for enough air. The medical equipment crowded around the recumbent form, brought home to him how serious this was for the younger man. He HAD been overly optimistic, he now feared, and worried that if not worse, then Williams was no where close to an uphill recovery.
“Doc?” he whispered, approaching the bed, looking at his officer, not the doctor.
“Steve!” Bergman considered him over the top of his glasses. “I’ve been expecting you.”
“He’s holding his own,” was the couched reply.
The guarded tone more than the words drew his gaze from the shallow breathing that he could hear from where he was standing. His skin felt washed in ice water. “What is it?”
“He’s got advantages going for him, Steve, but I won’t minimize the injuries. We’re in serious condition here.”
The evasiveness from the usually blunt ME chilled him with fear. He looked back to his friend. The blood, the gasping for air, he remembered it all so vividly. The pronouncement from the ER team that he was already dead – but he had come back. He reached over and brushed the back of his trembling hand to Williams’.
“He’s going to come out of it.” Fact. Belief. Certainty. He would give the doctor no opening for doubt or negatives. “He WILL come out of it.”
Bergman cleared his throat. “I’m guessing you’re staying?”
“Yes.” He would stay for as long as it took.
Bergman patted his shoulder. “I’ll alert the staff. Steve, I hope he makes it, I really do. If he does, it’s going to be only through your stubbornness and his. And that’s pretty formidable.”
The pronouncement scared him. “That close?” he whispered.
“Too close,” the medical man sighed. “But I have faith in you two. Just keep the faith, Steve.” With a final squeeze of the arm he was gone.
Gripping onto the cool, limp hand, he held on, willing energy and power and obstinate inflexibility into the tight hold. “You WILL make it, Danno. You have to tell me what happened. More than anything, Danno, you have to know that I forgive you.” His voice trembled, and he leaned close, to whisper the message in the ear of his friend. “You tried to tell me, didn’t you, aikane. You tried to apologize, because you failed.” He scoffed between a breath of disgust and of ire. “I am angry, but not for the reasons you are feeling guilty about. I am so angry that you chose to risk your life for me. Trust me, we are going to have a lot to talk about when you wake up.” The voice was filled with remorse and affection so deep he hardly recognized his own tone. If only Danno could hear him. He would know it was an empty threat. All he wanted was his friend to live through this. Blame, censure, disagreement were the last things on his mind. “Just wake up, please.”
Williams’ condition remained the same throughout the afternoon and early evening. Chin dropped by for an update – there were no phones in the room – and to give an initial report. No luck finding McCann. The usual informants and all the data they had on the fugitive were useless. The airport and docks were closed so the man couldn’t escape the island, but neither did they find him, yet.
Frustrated at the stalemate, McGarrett paced. He longed to be out doing something productive, but hated the thought of leaving his friend. In the last few hours he had discussed the case with the unconscious officer, talking it through for his own benefit, and keeping a connection between them. Just letting his friend know he was still here. After Kelly left, he started another monolog of listing the facts they had and wondering what he could do next.
“If only you were able to work the case,” he paced, tapping Dan’s arm. “No more surfing on bus tops,” he growled, a trace of a laugh sputtering out at the memory. “I really chewed you out for that one, Danno. If only you were here now to do something crazy like that. I’d give anything . . .” He sucked in a breath, shaking his head. “Danno, we’ve got to find McCann. He’s still here – of course he’s still here!” the realization hit him. “He’s still got a shipment of H coming in, doesn’t he? You still CAN help, my friend. You’ve been the one getting our most important information in all this. From your informants!”
He didn’t know where to find Shorty, but he had a snitch himself that might help in Waikiki. It would mean leaving here for a while. Danno was still about the same, no improvement. No slipping into a worse state, either though.
He leaned over and placed a gentle hand on Dan’s head. “Danno, I’m leaving for just a little while. I’ve got to get McCann for you, Danno. You keep resting and getting more energy. When I come back I want you awake so we can talk, you got that?” He squeezed the shoulder and stared at his pale friend, willing him to hear, to understand, and to obey. Squelching last, second thoughts, he spun around and practically jogged out. The sooner he got this over the sooner he would be back.
The nightclub crowd was gearing up at the Beachside Bar, which was not on the beach at all, but two blocks mauka from the Waikiki strip. It was where Kokua’s snitch was playing a gig tonight, though, so he had tracked down Tiki prepping for his performance.
“Ain’t no word I heard about a hit on your cop,” he denied, shying away from Kokua.
The bigger, broader detective backed him into the wall of the back room of the bar and gave him a shove on the shoulder. The eyes betrayed Tiki’s intimidation at the no nonsense cop.
“Tiki --” he warned under his breath.
“Hey, Ben, I swear I heard nothin’. Man, people are nervous on the streets, they ain’t talkin’ much. Your HPD guy almost got knifed by a druggie – I heard dat. Druggies goin’ crazy, man. Your Five-0 dude got shot up – yeah, coconut wireless talkin’ all about that, yeah? Who’s behind it, ain’t nobody talkin’ about DAT.”
Ben growled that he better be the first to know when Tiki heard anything of value. Just to make sure his message was understood, he took a place in the corner of the bar as he waited for Tiki to set up for the happy hour crowd. He was going to see who gravitated to the snitch, who came to make contacts in the bar. Steve had demanded they work their contacts and that’s what he was doing. Anything to help find the crumb who shot Danny.
Disturbed at the memory of the shooting scene, and the way Steve looked at the hospital – it was a haunting, constant reminder that Williams was in extremely serious shape. He was too scared to even think that Danny would not pull through. He had to. Life without him around Five-0 was unthinkable – Steve without him was unthinkable.
Duke felt irritated at not having informants in Waikiki. He had to rely on Chin and Ben to work this area. His old beat, and the people he still pressured to work for him, were on the low streets in the slums and old neighborhoods of Honolulu. Motivated, though, to help get the man who shot Danny, Lukela tagged along with Kelly to question those who would talk to them. It was a small list. Junkies wanted their score badly – as the nut in the alley had proved. Lack of a fix was driving the addicts to desperate measures. They didn’t want to help Five-0 and HPD. On the other hand, most street people now knew of the shoot out and that a Five-0 officer was down because of a distributor. Between a rock and a hard place, some addicts reluctantly cooperated to lessen the heat from Duke and his colleagues. By the end of the day, though, they still had no location of where McCann might be hiding.
Night turned the Waikiki strip into a mini festival of lights. Crowds, which had hours earlier been attired in swim suits and towels, now continued to add to the color with their bright new aloha shirts and muumuus. As his Mercury screeched to a halt at the parking garage by the Royal Hawaiian, McGarrett’s thoughts flitted only momentarily to the meal he and his friend had shared in Waikiki only two evenings previous. A poignant burn filled his eyes, but he bit his lip to the point of pain to bring himself back to the moment as he spotted Keoki. Thankfully, the young man was still there. McGarrett briefly explained that Danno had been shot by a drug dealer who had worked with Kealoa. He needed to find anyone who would know more about it.
“Sure sorry about Dan, Mistah McGarrett. He’s a cool dude. He gonna be all right?”
The response was quick and absolute, despite the warning echo in his mind that it was yet to be a certainty. “Yeah.”
“You tell him I say hi. And you go check Shorty. He’s hanging at the bar inside. He’ll know anything that you need to know happenin’ here in Waikiki.”
McGarrett parked in the nearest spot and briskly walked into the beach bar at the Pink Palace of Waikiki. Shorty was easy to spot, at a corner table close to the sand. A tourist-looking man with balding hair was with him. McGarrett came up behind the slightly built Asian and moved the bald man’s chair out.
“Excuse us. Mister Lao and I have business.”
The man started to protest, but Shorty took one look at McGarrett and shook his head. “Go get a drink, Mitch. We’ll finish this in a few.”
Affronted, but sensing the danger and resolve from the new arrival, Mitch left. McGarrett took the seat, leaning forward to be close to the snitch. “In case you don’t know yet from the coconut wireless, Kealoa is dead.” The news seemed to surprise Lau, but McGarrett didn’t pause. “His friend McCann killed him and seriously wounded Danny Williams.”
“Real sorry about Williams.”
“Yeah, your compassion is obvious.”
“Okay, I’m not crying, but it’s too bad anyway. You’re here to ask me what I know, but I know nothing, McGarrett.”
Leaning his elbows on the table, he edged forward to stare eye to eye, within a few inches, of the shorter, now intimidated Asian. “This can go one of two ways. You tell me everything I want to know about McCann. If I like what I hear I leave.” His voice and expression were as cold and brittle as dry ice. “If I don’t like what you tell me, we go downtown. After I interrogate you until I’m tired of that, I’II put you in jail. Danny Williams has a lot of friends at HPD. They’re worried about him. They’re upset he’s in the hospital and his shooter is walking around free. They might lose track of time and paperwork. They would mean to get you a lawyer, but you could get lost in the system. Indefinitely. By the time you got out you would have no more business. Your rivals would have taken over while you went gray and everyone on this strip forgot who you are. Am I correct that you are going to choose option number one?”
Without hesitation Shorty gave up McCann. Described as a blond, pony-tailed Brit – fancied himself James Bond gone bad – even used the same kind of gun – a Walther PPK.
It all came out in a rush, and McGarrett’s heart surged with grim pleasure. He had been right to follow Danno’s lead and push Shorty. He had been right about the Walther and McCann!
“Gonna be junkie Christmas around here,” he readily told the head of Five-0. “H comin’ in from Hong Kong in crates marked as Santa dolls. McCann is determined to break your blockade of the white stuff.”
“Santa dolls. A little early for Chirstmas.”
“Not for the junkies.”
“Kealoa’s got – had – a loft on the Ala Wai. Williams must have checked it out. Maybe McCann is there.”
Shorty scribbled out numbers on a scrap of paper.
“Warehouse at the docks. Just check for a Hong Kong shipment of Santa dolls. Can’t help any more. Honest.”
Sure that word should curl this man’s tongue, McGarrett nonetheless accepted the information. With a final warning that this better be good intelligence, he left, immediately radioing for his men to start a search of shipping company manifests.
McGarrett’s Mercury led the line of police cars that screamed to a stop around the small apartment complex facing the Ala Wai Canal. Weapon drawn, McGarrett raced up the narrow flight of stairs to the door of Number Four and barely pounded the knocker, announcing them as police, before kicking in the wood. The door splintered and he entered, ready to shoot or be met with a hail of bullets, but no action was required. The small studio apartment was vacant of McCann.
What he did find, though, was evidence of someone leaving a mess, or packing a few things in a hurry. An empty box of 9mm bullets sat on the small table in the kitchen, along with today’s paper. Disturbingly, on the small, fold out bed, were articles, pictures, photos – about Five-0 detectives. Tracking the police for a while, he knew all about his opponents. Danno and he had nearly, literally, run into the pony-tailed tourist – snapping pictures in front of the Coconut Hut!
“He’s been watching us for a while,” Chin assessed beside him.
Only nodding, McGarrett pushed around the snapshots of his men in various, routine activities. In the parking lot of the Palace, at the Coconut Hut, in Waikiki. Several of the photos were of Danno, and it made his skin crawl to know his stalker had set him in his sights for days before finally taking the last, deadly step to attempted murder.
“Steve, look at this,” Kokua called from the kitchen.
In the trash was a piece of crumpled paper. Unfolded, was scribbled a number and name. W # 102 – Tiki Trader.
Satisfaction at the case coming together, he sighed. “Warehouse number One-hundred and Two.”
The warehouse raid could not go down until the morning at the soonest. It was late, he was tired, but there was no where else for him to stay. As was his usual routine, when Danno was sidelined, he would at least check in on him and stay for a while to ease his anxieties, otherwise he would never get any sleep tonight.
Nearly skipping into the hospital with a perceptibly lighter gait, he looked forward to just seeing him. Hoping his friend would be conscious – probably not talkative, but receptive to listening for a short time -- McGarrett breezed into the ICU and came to an abrupt halt when he was stopped at the station by a stern Hawaiian nurse he had never seen there before.
“No visitors, sir,” she snapped out sharply.
Obviously a new shift had come on and Horner had failed to notify them of who he was and why he was allowed to be here in violation of standard procedure.
“I’m here to see Danny Williams,” he tersely explained and moved to bypass her.
She shifted to block his path again. “Sir, you cannot be in here!” she repeated with quiet, firm authority.
Catching a glance into the ICU room where he had last seen his friend, his insides knotted when he saw there was no patient in the bed! “He’s gone! Where is he? Where is Danny Williams?” Feeling numb all the way through, he immediately thought the worst, while his reason argued that Danny was fine when he left. If something catastrophic had happened he would have been notified! Why didn’t they tell him?
“Out here,” she demanded and directed him by the arm to escort him away. “There are critical patients here, please leave –
Almost too stunned to think clearly, he stumbled out of the unit, but once on the other side of the doors he spun on her. “I want to speak to Bergman now!”
“He’s not here –“
“Call him now! I have every right to be in there with my officer –“
Suddenly, two security guards were at his elbows, gently, but firmly, attempting to guide him out of the area. Incensed at the indignity of being pushed around by hospital security, he stepped clear of ICU and brushed off the men. There was no question they knew who he was and were not willing to push him too far.
“Where is Danny Williams?” he demanded of the nurse, in an intense, low voice that shook with emotion.
Apparently complying with orders brought out the reasonableness of the nurse, and she admitted that Williams had been taken into surgery. She was not at liberty to discuss the nature of his condition –
McGarrett didn’t wait for more of an excuse and raced to the OR, where he badgered the nurses on duty there. The only information he was given was that Williams was in surgery. Livid at the red tape that he could not bypass or break, he paced, anger and fear building with each step as he walked the hall.
Before long, the ER doors opened and Bergman, his hospital greens disconcertingly splashed with red, emerged. He was not surprised at McGarrett’s presence and gave him a nod. The look was not dreadful, the cop considered, but it seemed difficult to breathe again past the twist in his chest. Bergman did not look pleased, or relaxed – no – he was tense and grim – he decided as he raced over to close the distance between them.
“How is he? What happened?”
Bergman patted his shoulder and released a sigh. “He’s stable, Steve. There was a problem with some internal bleeding, but it’s repaired. He’s holding his own for now.”
The words were hardly encouraging, and once he got past the intelligence that Danno was alive, the tone, the demeanor, the message slowly sank to weigh down his brief surge of hope and relief.
“How bad?” was all he could scrape out.
“He’s critical, Steve. Surgery on top of his weakened condition did not help. I can’t minimize where we’re at here.”
He cold hardly speak past the sob collected in his throat. “He’ll make it.”
“I hope so.”
Horner emerged from the OR doors and McGarrett accepted his quiet diagnosis that the situation was not good. Frustrated and appalled this had come out of nowhere, McGarrett had to lash out at something. He should have been here with his friend during these critical turns, but had no idea Danno’s condition was so desperate. He had to blame someone for the oversight that could have cost him precious, final moments with his friend.
He glared at Horner. “You told me he was improving! That he would be fine! You didn’t even call me!”
“I left a message with a nurse,” the doctor countered sadly. “I am sorry, Steve, I was trying to help you. There was nothing you could do for Danny.”
“Nothing I could do! I could have been here with him!”
Bergman physically restrained the seething detective. “Ed, why don’t you let me have a talk with Steve, please.”
With alacrity, the surgeon left and Bergman retained his hold of McGarrett. “Steve, I think the crisis is over. Danny is holding his own.”
The volcanic temper simmered at the diagnosis. “What does that mean?” he snapped out at his only remaining target. “Holding his own? I’ve heard it before, but NOW, I’m not sure!”
The anger and desperation in the detective’s eyes made the medical man flinch as he hesitated in his response, which had to reassure, but truthfully. “That means that Danny’s vital signs are stable, and that he is in no immediate danger.”
He narrowed his eyes, steeling himself for the truth he was about to demand. “You’re tap dancing, Doc! I need an answer!”
Bergman knew the Five-0 chief wanted to hear to bottom line. He’d hoped the man would not push him to say something he was not completely prepared to promise, but here he was in a corner with the most persistent and stubborn man he’d ever known. There would be no escape for him before he offered his honest opinion.
“I THINK he’ll live, Steve. I wish I could promise that, but I can’t. If I was a betting man, though, I would put my money on Danny.”
The response took some of the angry wind from the detective’s sails. He took a moment to take in a ragged breath and release it before he shot a seething glare at the door through which Horner had vanished a minute earlier. “He told me Danno would be fine! You know I would have never left if there was any chance of danger!” he shouted, the raw terror surfacing, the hurt nearly unbearable.
“Ed thought he was helping you, Steve. He’s not used to dealing with you as Danny’s personal avenging angel.”
Not mollified, McGarrett still felt delicately broken inside. He had almost lost Danno, and he hadn’t been here. He was out running around Honolulu looking for scum when his friend was here alone facing death! He was not finished with his chastisement yet, but mollified enough to move on to the more important issue. “I want Horner off the case as of now! I’m staying with Danno tonight. Straighten out the staff, will you? This better not happen again.”
“I’ll issue the appropriate storm warning,” he agreed, patting the detective on the arm. “Danny has a lot going for him, Steve. Not the least of which is you.”
The encouragement helped cool his bubbling temper. While still livid, McGarrett felt there was something to the comment about his presence. It would belay medical science to think companionship could make a difference, but he felt Danno would know he was close by. It was the way they worked in any crisis situation. They didn’t have to look around or speak. They just knew what the other would do, how they would move, what they would think. He knew he was making a difference – if only for himself – when he was here with his friend.
Just after dawn, Bergman was there to check on the patient. McGarrett sat up from his position scrunched in a chair at the side of the bed. Ready to rail at the doctor again, he was tempered in his attack by a favorable report. Williams’ vitals signs were good and considering his surgeries, remarkably strong. The physician was confident enough to consider an optimistic recovery.
“I need the truth from you,” he snapped out, still smarting from what he considered a deception.
“Danny is showing every sign of a steady recovery, Steve.”
He glanced at the patient, who was visibly better, his skin pale but no longer holding the gray pallor of death as when they brought him into recovery last night.
“Steve, go home and get some sleep. I’ll monitor him myself. Barring something unexpected, I can safely assure you he’s going to be fine.”
Gradually losing the sharpest wary and distrustful feelings against the medical profession in general, McGarrett felt he could trust Bergman – he always had. There was a heavy reluctance to leave his friend’s side, but the ME had a stubborn set to his face and – maybe more? Was he making this as an offering of atonement?
“All right, Doc. You know how to reach me.”
“And I promise I will if anything changes for good or ill. But he’ll be just fine.”
“I’ll be back soon, my friend,” he whispered to the still patient, patting the cool hand atop the sheet. “Just keep improving. I won’t be long.”
Once showered and changed, McGarrett knew he would leave his apartment. He had no intention of staying when he had important business. He had a drug dealer, murderer and would-be cop killer to catch. Now that his friend’s health was stable, he felt he could direct his energies to lay his hands on the monster who had put Danno in this hospital bed.
The first rays of light colored the early morning sky, but no sun had yet struck warehouse 102, which was abuzz with police activity. The search for the crates had commenced in the wee hours, and had been found only minutes before McGarrett arrived. The wooden containers were fresh off a ship, at a major container dock. TIKI TRADER would pick up four of the crates of merchandise within a few hours. That gave them very little time to set up, but McGarrett rushed his through procedures. Che Fong raced down to place tracking bugs in the crates, which were indeed filled with little porcelain Santas filled with drugs.
Feeling uplifted at the progress, satisfaction turned to nervousness, to anger, when McCann had not shown up by late morning. Had he been spooked? Did he know they were there? He’d placed a stake out team inside and out of the building to watch in case the killer tried to sneak in. His instincts told him McCann would not leave the island without his drugs, but why the delay? Perhaps the horrible, previous events had forced the man to rearrange his plans for processing or distribution? Marginally frustrated McGarrett left the stakeout, deciding that a trip back to the hospital was in order. He left Chin with the very clear order to call him if McCann showed up before he returned.
Arriving at the hospital, his anxiety heightened to see Bergman was in the room with Williams. The wounded officer was far too still and pale for his taste, but the Doc did not seem too disturbed. When asked about Dan’s condition, the ME motioned for them to move out to the corridor. Concern escalating, he hastened out, then rounded on the doctor.
Bergman smirked. “Calm down, Steve. His condition is improving marginally. He’s still precarious, but I am optimistic.”
Knowing the Doc would not waste time prevaricating with him, the head of Five-0 was still wary. “Recent behavior has made me even more distrustful of your profession, Doc.”
“Present company excepted, I hope.”
“Yes. When I came in, your expression was – somber.”
“To use a pun, grave,” Bergman confirmed with a sigh. “Something that our boy in there barely avoided.” He shook his head and huffed.
“I was just thinking of my last conversation with Danny. I boxed his ears for that stunt with the bus. Ironically, I was worried –” he stopped and cleared his throat. “I was afraid of – of --” He stared at the chief for a moment. “We talked about the fact that I didn’t want to end up with the two of us standing over him at my work station.”
“I know,” he shivered with a shaky sigh. He worried about it constantly.
“I’m glad it won’t be our last conversation,” Bergman almost smiled.
“Me, too, Doc.”
When deep sentiment came from a rugged character known for candor, like Bergman, it clouded him with dread. The doc had been unsettled by Danno’s heroics, afraid one day the impulsive stunts would lead to Williams’ death. That the youngest of the Five-0 detectives would end up as a professional subject in the morgue. Not this time, Doc!
“He’s going to pull through this,” he insisted, touching his friend’s arm. Pulling up a chair, he settled in and watched the slow breathing of the man on the bed. After Bergman left and the last nurse exited from her rounds, he started a quiet conversation. “We didn’t get him yet, Danno, but soon. Soon… he’ll be locked up forever.”
Five-0 and HPD had the dock covertly covered by numerous operatives throughout the day. It was as if he had been meant to be there. As soon as Steve returned to check in with his team during the mid-afternoon, a truck pulled up bearing the label, Oahu Delivery Service – a firm no one participating in the radio chatter had ever heard of before. Lukela was close enough to notice a rental sticker on the truck; another suspicious factor that confirmed this was probably McCann. The driver, though, was a chubby guy with short hair fringed under a ball cap. A courier, then, McGarrett figured. A middle man to the murderer he wanted to literally seize with his bare hands.
A series of loose tails followed the truck to an unlikely location, an empty, out-of-business garage off Nimitz Highway. The man unlocked the pad lock and opened the big metal door, backing the truck inside the shadowy interior. It was slow work for the lone man to get things set up, but with the help of a dolly and the lift gate of the truck, the driver unloaded the crates by himself.
“No McCann,” Kelly commented as he watched through binoculars.
Beside him, McGarrett, also scrutinizing the activity through field glasses, released a noncommittal noise.
Kokua radioed, wondering if they should move in now.
“No, Ben. I want McCann. I want him red handed.”
The driver, now finished with his task, secured the building again before he pulled away.
“What do you want to do, Steve?” Lukela wondered. His unit was at the end of the curved driveway leading to the nearby, busy street.
McGarrett kept his binoculars trained on the driver, the truck, the building. Something was wrong, he could feel it. What?
“Stop that driver, Duke! We need to question him.”
“McCann could be watching,” Kelly warned.
“I don’t want him getting out of our grasp! We need to know what this driver knows,” McGarrett returned, placing the car in gear. “We have what our enemy wants. He has to find a way to get it without springing the trap – and he already knows he’s hotter than Pele on this island right now!”
Zipping from their hidden location, McGarrett joined Duke’s HPD squad car and Ben’s sedan in blocking the path of the delivery truck. The driver was already leaning on the hood, his hands raised in surrender. In the process of interrogation, he vociferously claimed he knew nothing about the contents of the crates. He was just hired to pick up the load.
As Duke and Ben checked his ID, registration, etc, Steve stared at the man. A few glances shot his way indicated the green-eyed haole with a bushy mustache noted his interest. Quietly, the chief ordered him to repeat his story.
“I was hired to pick up this load, that’s all, man.” He stepped back when Lukela moved to search him. “Hey, I’m clean!”
McGarrett’s cold nerves prickled under the skin as it came together. In the same heartbeat he drew his revolver, steadily aiming it at the man’s chest. Only then did his brain follow up on the instinct-based suspicion: slight accent, light wisps of blond under the hat, ball cap bulging with something stuffed under it. The diction sounded American, but the vowels were a little too long and odd. Like an Englishman striving to sound American.
Whether Lukela picked up on the urgency in McGarrett or had his own suspicion of the suspect, he didn’t know, but was pleased when the Hawaiian sergeant started quoting the man his rights. It had the desired affect of intimidating the already nervous man, who edged away from Lukela.
“There’s a bulge in your back pocket, McCann.”
McGarrett’s voice was deadly harsh, deathly quiet, as still as his lethal aim. Around him, he heard pistols drawn in automatic support of his reaction. His men did not need to wait for orders or explanations in this kind of tense situation. They were tracking a lethal monster – a would-be cop killer. Everyone surrounding this man was on a hair-trigger of justice.
The mustache could be a fake – the face – it WAS familiar . . . . “I bet it’s a 9 millimeter Walther PPK. You’re padded! When we search you, we’re going to find stuffing in your shirt and a pony-tail under your cap!” he announced, his voice starting to shake.
“I’m just a driver!”
With slow calculation, he replaced his .38 in its holster. “Go for it.”
The man’s glare turned as cold as Steve’s heart. The eyes betrayed any chance that he was wrong. The killer knew the game was up. The drama all played out in the eyes, and Steve knew his were burning with rage and vengeance.
Kelly stepped closer to his boss. “Steve . . . ”
The pushed-over-the-edge leader ignored the entreaty. He stood before the man who had shot Danno – who’d tried to kill him twice. There had been no mercy shown when Danno was gunned down. How could he offer any today?
“Go for it, McCann!”
“You’re nuts –”
“Maybe…You murdered to keep these drugs secret! You shot a cop,” he hissed, his voice breaking. “Go for it,” he demanded with a hiss.
“Not a chance, McGarrett.” The full British accent suddenly appeared. “Your men would drill me before I cleared the pistol.”
“More of a chance than you gave my officer.”
“I’m not suicidal.”
“Lie and Let Die,” Steve hardly whispered.
His face turned gray with fear. “What do you want? A confession? That’s not legal here in the States –”
“I already read you your rights!” Duke tersely shot out.
“That wasn’t by the book!”
“You think these cops are going to care about legal? My man is in the hospital, barely alive thanks to you,” he hissed. “We’ll say it was self defense. You drew your weapon. We had no choice –”
“All right! You want a confession? Okay, McGarrett. I’ll tell you the whole story,” he laughed with derision. “I DID give your bloke a chance! All he had to do was call you over so that we could talk – make a deal! DANNO wouldn’t do it though! Instead, he decided to be the big hero—”
Instantly, McGarrett – enraged at the use of his friend’s nickname by the lying snake -- lunged for McCann and wrestled him against the hood of the truck. Only a few hasty punches were landed before his men pulled him from the suspect. Kokua and Lukela restrained the boss while Kelly and two patrolmen cuffed McCann.
Dozing, thinking, dreaming; McGarrett leaned his head against the wall and watched the patient with unsettled sentiment. The rest of the afternoon had been spent at the office in an attempt to drive out the searing knowledge of what had happened in Hawaii Kai. After dark, he had escaped the Palace with paperwork and duties fulfilled but emotions running high. Night found him here, again, leaning against the wall of the ICU.
Humbled, frightened, awed, Steve’s jumbled mind mired in the feelings roaring through him. The underlying bond shared with his friend enabled them to feel what the other thought, what either would do, and all the reasoning behind actions that needed no explanation. The gift was immeasurable and precious beyond scope.
Terrifyingly, he nearly lost his brother-in-arms. Because Danno was trying to save him. Every time he thought of that moment – the gun to his friend’s back – and Danno’s choice – protection instead of saving himself – every time it shadowed him in distress
The head resting on the pillow turned shifted marginally, and, to McGarrett’s joy -- the eyes blinked open. McGarrett came to his feet and stood by the bed, trying to smile in reassurance, but feeling too distraught for anything but a stern nod.
“Everything’s okay, Danno,” he reported first, deciding encouragement was a good place to start.
Williams’ head nodded slightly. “You?” he whispered.
“Fine. Don’t worry about me.” There was so much he had to know, but first clarification of the theories that filled his mind. Danno was going to be okay – that was the first and foremost doubt settled. The second had to be known – the truth behind the sacrifice that he was certain took place in the serene and remote hills. “You made a terrible choice out there, didn’t you, Danno?” He searched the face for confirmation, for any sign that such an intense question might upset the patient, but unable to restrain the burning question.
Williams’ still-washed out countenance bore an unsurprising expression of confusion for several moments before he somehow managed to mentally pull together at least some of his circumstance. A faint smile flickered across his lips. “Danger . . .”
His friend was probably remembering the shoot out. Did he recall the harried, nightmarish drive form Hawaii Kai to the hospital at all? Maybe not. That would be a good thing, Steve thought, since he relived it constantly, the harrowing emotions of the horror never far from his thoughts.
“I’m fine. There’s no danger any more, Danno. Relax.”
He nodded slowly.
Thinking back to the terrible scene, the thick trees and green slopes overlooking the ocean; the body placements, he did not feel satisfaction that Danno was brokenly confirming his suspicions, confirming what McCann confessed. The younger officer had walked into a trap and been given a horrendous option. He had been threatened with death and ordered to call his friend into the trap. Most men would collapse and choose the possibility at a few more moments of life in the hope that they would be spared. Most would choose to sacrifice the colleague rather than themselves. Knowing Danno as he did, the decision made under the gun made awesome and chilling sense. Tears welled in his eyes as he comprehended the final alternative which was ultimately made for him.
“You tried a shoot out,” he asked for confirmation in a dry voice, the words cracking on his sorrow. “Why?” he asked, already knowing the thought process, the conclusion. He didn’t really have to ask -- he understood the motivation. It was as clear as glass. The story written on the desperate face he knew so well; the broken message excruciatingly attempted in the car, on the blood-stained body which attested to the results of the erroneous, heroic option. The groggy, but pain-filled eyes seemed to hold an absurd glow of triumph that he had made the right choice. “You didn’t -- there was no chance,” McGarrett whispered, tasting an errant tear which overflowed from his eye.
“Worked…” the patient wheezed.
Patting Williams’ arm around the IV line, McGarrett just nodded. Throat too tight to speak, he could only give a silent affirmation. They were both okay, after a fashion. Wounded – one physical, one emotional. They would recover, but he felt they could never look at things the same after this. Not after the proof that one of them would die so the other could live. Live and not die.
“Mc… ” Dan could not complete the word – the vile name – but Steve knew his question.
In McCann’s hotel room they had found a wealth of information on McCann’s international drug business. Interpol was helping various government agencies from Malaysia to Singapore in the roundup of the criminal’s associates. He would save the details for later. It was all still too close to the surface – the stalking, the shooting . . . .
“You don’t have to worry about him any more.”
Weakly, Williams nodded.
“Rest. We’ll talk later.”
The command was easy to obey for the recovering officer, and his eyes closed in slumber. McGarrett stayed, content to hover for a time, feeling this was the most important place for him to be right now.
Quietly opening the door to the hospital room, McGarrett stepped in surreptitiously, expecting the patient to be asleep. Pleasantly surprised to see Williams turn to look at him when he entered, his joy was tempered at the pensive, troubled countenance. Concern shooting into the forefront of his mind, the intent expression relayed a troubled, weary man deeply pondering anxious thoughts.
“Danno?” he whispered, unnerved at finding his friend so remote.
Williams nodded, not even bothering to speak.
Knowing how much energy it took for someone recovering from terrible injuries to communicate, he just applied a gentle touch to his friend’s hand and pulled up a chair to sit close by the bedside. “Don’t talk. You don’t have to say anything, Danno,” scrutinizing the recovering officer as he offered a gentle smile. There was so much he wanted to say, needed to impart, but it could all wait. Danno was awake and alive and with him now. Was anything more important? No. Everything else could wait.
While the face was still pale and washed out, the condition weak, and the IV lines pumping in medication, he had expected something – what – more cheerful? Danno had no idea of how close he came to dying so how could he understand the relief Steve felt just standing here conversing with his friend?
“Wasn’t sure you’d be awake.” He had stayed late into the night, but Williams never awoke after that first, disjointed conversation. It had given him so much to ponder as he sat there staring at his friend -- when he returned home very late – and continuing as he drove back here this bright and crystal morning. Slightly disappointed he had not been here when Danno woke up – annoyed that the staff did not notify him as he had reminded them last night -- he wondered, “You been up long?”
With a slight cant of his head he gave the question some thought, then silently shrugged.
Groggy, probably sore even through the sedation and pain medication, the boss mused, but still, he didn’t like the mood. “You’ve been through a lot.”
Williams nodded tiredly. “Steve,” he barely whispered. “Tell . . . ”
His voice and energy faded and McGarrett responded. “I know, Danno,” he broke in quickly, not wanting his friend to have to explain anything. After raging through grief, terror, anger, he had settled back on the acceptance that risks were part of the business and, unfortunately, expected with his friend. He didn’t like it, he would continue to encourage caution, but he did not expect anything less from someone so dedicated, so loyal.
“You don’t need to fill in the blanks. Not now. You did a crazy thing out there trying to save me.”
Grimacing, Williams half-shrugged, then reluctantly shook his head. ”Sorry.”
Only Danno could think of such heroics as a failure! Exposing the flash of irritation at the attitude, at the choice made for his benefit, McGarrett sat on the side of the bed and shot back, “You mean failing to dodge a bullet that nearly got you killed?” The harsh sarcasm caused Williams’ eyebrow to twitch. Mellowing instantly, he stared at the blanket draping Dan’s leg and picked at the threads as he continued thickly. “Or the part where you decided to risk your life and warn me, saving my life even at the possible loss of yours?”
Closing his eyes, Williams’ expression could have been a quirky grin or a scowl. “Sorry -- shot.” He gasped a few breaths, straining. When McGarrett tried to quiet him he shook his head. “Sorry -- no – back – up – dis – obey –orders.”
“You’re sorry you disobeyed orders?”
“Knew – you – mad . . . .” he wheezed. “always – are -- Kaikua'ana.”
“What?” he gently chuckled. He had never been good at picking the Hawaiian language, but that one sounded new.
“Big -- brother,” Dan supplied with a twitch of a smile.
Big brother. Little brother. Kaikua'ana. Kaikaina. That was as good an explanation as he could ever come up with, touched and awed, once again, at their incredible relationship.
McGarrett patted his shoulder and ordered him to stop talking, while he reeled at the apology. Danno was upset – he had been trying to tell him he was sorry even in the horrible drive to the hospital. Sorry for disobeying orders!
Tears in his eyes, he tried to deny it. “Danno, no, I’m not mad at you!” Only a partial lie. “I was upset –” how did he explain it all now? “I was –” he shook his head.
Turned inside out, grief-stricken, devastated at the shooting. Near insane at the thought that he was going to lose his friend because Danno tried to save his life. So many emotions had surged though him, leaving their internal scars and lingering misery. He couldn’t confess it all. Not even to Danno. Not now, anyway. Maybe, at some point, when the pain was distanced with time and cushioned with healing.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been so terrified in my life,” he quietly began. “When I found you shot,” he cleared his throat, and continued softly, “it was bad. I was only thinking of you surviving. We figured out what we thought you did and yeah, I was mad, Danno. But humbled and afraid, too. I never blamed you for disobeying my orders. You mean for not calling back up?”
“Tried,” he nodded.
“I know,” the boss assured gently. “I got Keoki’s message. I know you tried to track down Duke and stayed in touch with Jenny,” he related as he mentally reviewed the series of misfortunes and missed events that led to the tragedy of Williams alone with McCann.
“After bus . . . listened . . . sorry . . . put . . . you . . . through . . . so . . . much.”
Embarrassed at the reprimand he had exploded at his friend over the bus, he didn’t now whether to smile or laugh or cry at this repentant attitude. It was good to know Danno would use a little more thought before he leaped into danger in the future. Or at least would try. The last thing he wanted Danno to worry about, though, was guilt. Or any misconception he had about McGarrett’s attitudes about him.
“Danno, I was mad at you, yeah,” he admitted with chagrin. “This shooting,” he shook his head, unable to keep all the ragged emotions at bay. While his voice trembled and thickened, he looked away, then realized his friend needed more than just his words over this deep matter. Staring at the groggy blue eyes, he assured with all his heart, “I was a little angry at you for placing yourself in front of a bullet that should have been for me. But I’ve lived long enough to know that we all make mistakes, and I have to be at the front of the line if I’ve given you any reason to think I don’t value you –“ his voice broke all together. “More than anything,” he finished in a thick whisper. “I hope that’s what you understand and remember, Danno.”
A slight smile formed on the pale lips and he gave a nod, his eyes pooled with moisture.
Leaning back, breathing in some deep air and wiping his heart off his sleeve, he dredged up a smile. Poking the leg under his hand, McGarrett admonished in as light a tone as he could manage, “Just remember I’m a cop, Danno. I’ve been trained to handle myself in dangerous situations! Let me take care of myself! I don’t want you to ever do anything like that again.”
“Neither – do -- I.”
Making his way to the front of the briefing room was a slow process this morning. Coconut wireless had spread the word that Danny Williams was going to recover from his wounds. That the shooter was in custody and had confessed in front of a whole squad of brothers, including the Five-0 detectives, was good news that could not be suppressed. McGarrett’s and Williams’ legends were enhanced again, with the quick arrest and confession. Just from the parking lot to this room he had been regaled a dozen times with praise and supportive words from various colleagues on the force.
More than pleased with it all, Lukela was mostly humbled and grateful for the recovery, the arrest, and closing the books on a horrible incident. He still felt so thankful for Danny’s quick actions in saving his life. That that pupule detective had then sacrificed himself for Steve, well, he didn’t admire anyone more in the whole world – except McGarrett.
Thumbing through the overnight sheets, he smelled the odor of the rank cigar before Chief Grover came to a stop beside him.
“Heard that scum, McCann’s hired a high-priced mouthpiece. Thinks he can get off on a technicality.”
“Isn’t that what they all think?” Duke smirked.
“Yeah. Who cares. He’s going down forever. McGarrett will see to that.”
So today, after the huge drug bust and catching a murderer, McGarrett was on the chief’s good side for a change. While the man talked, Duke just nodded, going with the flow. On another day it might have irritated him, but not today. It was such a petty thing. Most trivial matters were insignificant compared to what happened in the last few days; in the alley with the druggie, with Danny’s sacrifice, with Steve’s suffering. He could live with the irritation – live and let live.