MOTHER'S DEADLY REVENGE
Fingertips tapped a savage beat on the desktop. The rhythm was fast and strident, reflecting the anger and frustration of Steve McGarrett. Unable to sit still any longer, McGarrett launched from his chair and strode out to the main office of Hawaii Five-O.
He stopped beside Jenny Sherman's desk and surveyed the personnel. His staff were busy with their regular duties. Everyone, everything, seemed so achingly normal: Danno was trying to collect funds for a late lunch order. Ben was laboriously typing a lengthy report. Chin was on the phone. The news he had just received would turn this deceptively routine day into a deadly, life and death game of hide and seek.
"Something up, Steve?"
McGarrett started, surprised that he was so preoccupied he missed Dan Williams' approach. Williams held a report file in one hand and an iced soda in the other. His tie loosened, suit jacket off and shirt sleeves rolled up, he looked the part of an overheated and harried detective.
McGarrett did not comment on the casualness of
attire. It was just after two in the afternoon and the temperature was well
past ninety degrees.
"Bad news?" Williams asked, his tone now sober, sensing the serious mood of his superior.
McGarrett nodded slowly. There was no easy way to explain so he just plowed in. "Lester Smith escaped from the mental hospital last night."
Williams' expression shifted from expectation to clear anxiety, then to anger, then to a look of helplessness and controlled rage which McGarrett himself felt. Anger at the criminal; at the inadequate security precautions, at the sometimes inept legal system. All of which were to blame for this dangerous man being on the streets on this summer day.
"Damn," Williams muttered.
Chin Ho Kelly and Ben Kokua joined the group and inquired about what would elicit such a reaction from Williams. They were given the same cryptic message. A curt sentence was enough. The seriousness of the threat was compacted into the simple name of the escaped murderer.
Smith had been a real flake, McGarrett reflected. A criminal who had sent him letters notifying him of each killing Smith committed. The victims had been criminals themselves, but Smith was scarier than those he had murdered. Poorly educated, yet he possessed a native cunning that had caused the Five-0 team a number of problems. He had finally kidnapped a judge and held him for ransom. During the apprehension Smith had injured McGarrett and Ben before he was captured. Smith had been dragged away screaming revenge on McGarrett.
Criminals swearing vengeance on arresting officers was nothing unique for the state police team. Threats were common in their line of work. Smith worried McGarrett, though. This man was someone who would not forget a promised revenge.
It was irritating and slightly scary to know someone was out there waiting to kill you. It was more grating to know that criminal could easily injure or kill innocent people while trying to hit his main target. Another disturbing possibility was that Smith could take down one of Steve's men before he got McGarrett. That was a worrisome probability since the Five-0 team now would rally around him, shield him, protect him from the threat. He hoped they could capture Smith before anyone was hurt.
Ben was predictably bitter about the escape. "What do they do out there, leave the doors unlocked?"
"They probably gave Smith the key," Williams countered in a low voice. "Damn that lawyer for getting him off on an insanity plea.
The case was a sore spot for the officers. They had caught the criminal at great personal risk, only to see him figuratively slapped on the hand and instituted in a mental health facility. None of the detectives ever believed Smith was insane, just a very clever and cunning criminal. Neither had they taken his threats lightly. After years of receiving death threats, a cop could tell when a criminal was serious. None of the officers doubted Smith's dedication to revenge.
"He said he'd get you for arresting him, Steve," Chin finally said, voicing the obvious fear generating around the group. "We gotta believe him."
McGarrett nodded in agreement. "I know. And I believe he'll try to keep his promise."
"We have to beef up security," Ben began. "Put some HPD men at the entrances."
"We should put somebody on you, Steve," Dan insisted.
Instantly McGarrett refused. He would not be hemmed in by a bodyguard. He would not waste the time of an officer when he could protect himself just fine.
Williams countered with objections of his own, but was insistently overridden by his boss.
"I can't do my job if I have to drag someone along, Danno."
"Just for a few days, Steve. Just a precaution."
McGarrett's refusal was adamant. However, he agreed security should be increased for all the Five-0 staff. Ben was assigned that detail. Chin and HPD Sergeant Duke Lukela were scheduled for a court appearance that afternoon, so their contributions in the operation would have to wait until later. Dan received the task of organizing an effective search for Smith. McGarrett would walk over to the governor's office to see if John Manicote could stick Smith into a secured prison -- once apprehended, of course.
"I'll walk over with you, Steve," Williams offered causally.
McGarrett smirked at the obvious offer of security. "Thanks, Danno, but I think I can handle myself across to the Capitol
"I need the exercise," Dan countered easily.
"'I'll be fine, Danno. I don't think Smith is going to move this soon. And we all have jobs to do." He looked meaningfully at the phone "Let's' get started."
Without waiting for further comments, McGarrett strode out of the room. He appreciated their concern, but he refused to be hampered by baby-sitters. He was a busy cop and couldn't let a death threat slow down his performance in his job. He also knew Williams was more than willing to volunteer as a bodyguard. Protection provided by his closest friend would not be so stifling, but McGarrett needed Williams' talents elsewhere. In the back of his mind, McGarrett felt reluctant to place his friend any closer to danger than normal, because he already knew Danno would make an all out attempt to protect him -- no matter what the cost -- and that would include injury to Williams. McGarrett did not want to risk his friend's life, especially when he could take care of his own safety.
All the same, enroute on
the scenic walking mall between the
'Yes, Chin, I take his threats very seriously,' he admitted to himself once he was safely inside the elevator. 'Lester Smith is a very dangerous man.'
When McGarrett left, Williams hit the phones to coordinate a massive dragnet designed to capture Smith. There were a lot of places a man like this wily criminal could hide. Most of the search would be just busy work; tedious knocking on doors routine before they nailed him. Hopefully he would not come out and aggressively attack Steve. It would be nearly impossible to protect McGarrett from an assailant who could strike anywhere, anytime. Especially when Steve would not take extra precautions. To counter that flaw in the boss' personality, Dan brought in a couple of hand-picked HPD plainclothesmen. They would provide discreet protection for the chief of Five-0, whether Steve liked it or not. At the end of the case Williams would rather have a live, irate boss than a martyr.
Almost an hour passed before Dan noticed the heat had risen again and the usually refreshing trades did little to diminish the temperature in the office. Only Jenny was still on duty. Chin and Duke were in court. Ben was downstairs in the lab with Che.
Danny's stomach rumbled and he realized they had never ordered lunch. He checked the soda cup and found it empty. Although accustomed to the horrible hours, dietary habits and duties working for Five-0, soda and snack foods still did not make for much of a lunch. Sacrifices were necessary if you wanted to work for the most elite police force in the country (at least the top unit in his humble opinion). One of the first concessions was in the realm of a steady diet, followed closely by anything resembling a social life.
For a moment he gazed longingly at the surf poster
hanging on the wall. Thanks to Smith he had to cancel a promising date with a
girl up on the
Frustrated, he stalked to the common office area. At the fridge he mentally debated the advantages of a carton of milk over soda, finally opting for the caffeine/sugar-laced soda. He felt he would need that extra punch to see him through the long afternoon. Strolling back to the desk area he stopped at Jenny's desk.
"No word from Steve, yet?"
The secretary shook her head. "I think he and Mr. Manicote are continuing their discussion over lunch."
Dan smirked. He was glad he wasn't in John's shoes today. 'At least they would get lunch, though.'
"How 'bout ordering something from Uncle Lee's?"
Jenny was wary. "Something decent.
Dan adopted his most sincere expression. "All the sushi and shave ice we can eat. My treat."
Jenny made a face of disgust. "Nothing raw," she retorted. "Cooked food, Danny Williams, and going Dutch is fine with me."
Dan smiled and relented his teasing. "Anything, as long as it's delivered as soon as possible."
Chin's Chinese relative known to all as Uncle Lee,
owned a Japanese restaurant just off of
Jenny grinned in return. "Someday I'm going to learn not to rise to your bait."
"Then when would I have any fun?" he countered with a mock expression of hurt. After a moment, he sobered. "Oh, before I forget," he said and jotted some notes on a piece of paper on Jenny's desk. "I may be leaving to go over to HPD. I couldn't get through to Diane at Manicote's --"
"Danny, she's engaged! You shouldn't be chasing her!"
"I'm trying to get a message to Steve . . ." he trailed off and glanced at Jenny. This time he had been the one to rise to the bait. "Jenny, you're a busybody," he accused with a grin of acknowledgment that he had been taken in by her. "I'll get back at you for this."
Retaliation complete, Jenny smiled smugly as she glanced at the paper.
"It's a warning that I'm having a vest sent over to Manicote's," Dan translated. "Sometimes Steve forgets simple precautions like that."
"He certainly does," Jenny sighed reproachfully.
For a moment they traded eye contact and a mutual exasperation with their boss. It was an added duty they shared to watch over McGarrett when he occasionally forgot to watch out for himself. If Steve resisted a bodyguard, Dan would insist at least he get some bullet proof gear for the duration of the threat. With a psycho on the loose they could not be too careful. Which reminded him, he wanted to arrange for extra HPD guards around the Palace at quitting time.
Dan returned to his office and was settled at his desk for a few minutes when he remembered he left his soda on Jenny's dusk. He emerged just as a florist's messenger arrived with a huge tropical arrangement. Dan took no notice of the man until he heard the deliverer state the flowers were for McGarrett.
The arrangement was so large he couldn't see the man's face. Seconds clicked by as Dan's mind automatically analyzed the voice, the rough, uncultured accent, the tone. It was a heartbeat or two before sirens sounded in his mind and he knew this man was in the wrong place.
Because of the heat he had shed his revolver at the same time he had removed his jacket and tie. It could prove to be a fatal oversight, he realized. The phony deliverer was Lester Smith. At the same instant Smith was alerted to Dan's tense reaction. From under the flowers Smith pulled out a weapon. Williams lunged for Smith and the pistol.
Smith shoved the flower vase at Dan and tried to clear the pistol. Both men crashed into the doorframe of Williams' office, then wrestled and slid along the glass partition. Smith fought like a wild animal. Dan had not forgotten the man's canniness and strength, but in this one on one fight it was all he could do to hold his own. Without his own weapon, Williams would have to take Smith's and take it quickly. Smith had the edge in size and ferocious, maniacal power. Dan tried to compensate with determination and skill.
Smith altered his grip and savagely jabbed his elbow squarely into Dan's nose. The blow stunned the detective and he lost precious seconds of alertness. With ruthless strength Smith instantly followed up the advantage by repeatedly slamming Williams' head and face into the glass. The window splintered and Dan felt hot blood flow down his forehead and cheeks.
Dan's struggle shifted from trying to seize the gun, to instinctively protecting his eyes as the enormously strong Smith pounded his face into the shattered glass. Smith delivered a last, crushing blow to the head, then smashed Dan's hand into the splintered window until Williams' grasp slipped from the pistol. Dazed, bloody, and bewildered from the blows, Dan felt his knees buckle.
Blood clouded his vision and he hit the floor with a jarring crash. From the periphery of awareness he knew Jenny had dashed away. He was relieved about that. His mind was moving slowly with disorientation, aware he had lost the fight and was probably about to die. With all the strength he had left he rose to his knees. He wiped the blood from his face determined to look his executioner in the eyes, to meet his death on his feet.
Another door in the office crashed open and he heard Ben's voice demanding Smith to drop the gun. Smith fired and Dan lunged toward the sound to tackle him. Instead, Smith pulled Williams up to use as a shield.
"You fire again and your boy is dead!" he shouted.
With an arm lock around Dan's neck, Smith dragged Williams backward into McGarrett's office. With amazing swiftness Smith opened the door, turned, and blasted several bullets into the room. The captive detective struggled to get free during the distraction, but Smith only tightened the grip. Now Dan fought just to breathe.
"He's not here!" Smith screamed. "Where's McGarrett? I'm here to kill you, McGarrett! Come out!"
"He's gone," Ben shouted from the cover of the outer corridor. "Give yourself up!"
"Never!" Smith screamed in return. He slammed the door shut and pressed Williams to the cool wood. "Where's McGarrett?"
Panting, Dan shook his head. "Don't know."
Smith tightened the arm lock until Williams gasped for air. He pressed the pistol to his victim's head. "Where is he? When is he coming back?"
Williams used the slight slack he had to shake his head in refusal.
Smith released the neck lock and pulled the police cuffs from William's belt. In a few seconds the cuffs were tightly snapped onto Dan's wrists.
"You help me and I'll let you walk out of this alive," Smith offered.
This close, Smith was as scraggly and disgusting as Williams remembered him. Dan sneered from the nearness of the bad breath, sweat and cheap booze which permeated the gunman. He had never believed Smith was insane, just a mean, desperate killer. Years in police work had taught him to distinguish the fine line between insanity and the criminal impulse of the human psyche. Now, at this range, Dan knew the distinction of definitions were irrelevant. Insane or not, Smith was bent on seeing McGarrett's dead body at his feet. It didn't matter how many other bodies accumulated along with Steve's. Somehow he already felt he was one of the statistics in Smith's mind. It added resolve to his determination not to cooperate in any way with the criminal.
"Go to Hell," Dan spat back.
For a second Smith's craggy face clouded with anger and the shadow of imminent violence. Then suddenly he offered a deranged, yellow-toothed grin. Dan preferred the anger.
"Good," Smith pronounced. "Now we know where we are."
Distant sounds could be heard on the other side of the thick koa wood door. Along hallways and stairways of the Palace, running feet and shouting voices echoed in eerie, muffled resonance. The action seemed so far away, yet was of intimate importance to him.
In his mind, Williams knew the routines so well he could picture them unfolding. The ranks were closing in on Smith. In a matter of minutes the Palace would be barricaded and they would be under armed siege. It was a comforting thought for Dan, even though he was dangerously in the middle of the combatants.
"They're not going to save you," Smith said, as if he could read Dan's thoughts. "But to negotiate they're going to bring me McGarrett. Then I'll kill him. And you, too."
Dan closed his eyes against the imagery. He was a sacrificial pawn to lure McGarrett into a fatal trap. There was nothing he could do to stop Smith.
"They'll have you surrounded by now," Dan threatened. "Give it up.
Smith leered with a dangerous laugh. It sent chills along Dan's spine.
"You don't think I'd let myself get caught so easily, do you?"
Again, the cagey, cunning evil of this man surfaced. The beginnings of real fear crept into Dan's nerves.
Returning along the Capitol mall to the Palace, McGarrett's long, brisk strides helped vent some of the irritation he felt. The lunch meting with Manicote had been irritatingly unproductive. There was little John could help with from a legal standpoint except for future appeals and hearings.
All was academic until they had their hands on Smith again. McGarrett hoped that would be soon. A rogue killer on the loose brought the staff to a virtual standstill until he was caught. And if they were lucky enough to bring in Smith without further deaths or injuries, they would still be at the mercy of the escapee for a while. McGarrett didn't appreciate being at the mercy of anyone, particularly anyone so vile as Smith.
He rounded the corner coming onto the Palace grounds and almost stopped in his tracks. Two blue and white squad cars screeched around the corner of the Palace and halted at the steps. The officers raced from the cars into the Palace. The actions brought a chill to his heart. He broke into a jog which lasted until he reached the double doors at the top of the back steps.
A young HPD officer he didn't know by name almost ran him down coming out of the building.
"What's happening, officer?"
"Hostage -- uh, shootout, sir," he replied with trepidation. "It's in your office, sir."
Before another heartbeat went by McGarrett raced through the doorway to the staircase and up the broad koa steps to the second floor. There was a mass of activity as HPD uniformed and plainclothes officers crowded in the hall of the Five-0 wing on the Diamond Head side of the building. McGarrett plowed through the men to the short, arched entrance way leading to the slightly ajar door of the Five-0 offices. Further progress was blocked by the firm, restraining grip of Duke Lukela.
"Steve, don't go in there," he warned.
McGarrett glared at his intrusive officer. "What's going on, Duke?"
Lukela was a valued, plucky, down to earth HPD sergeant who often worked directly with Five-0. He was a model cop and had proven his bravery and temerity many times under fire. At the moment he was perhaps at the pinnacle of his courage as he retained an unwelcome grip on the chief of Five-0.
"Hostage situation, Steve. It's too dangerous for you to go in."
McGarrett somehow knew all the answers before he asked any of the burning questions which pounded in his brain. Duke's expression, his wary, regretful eyes told an all too expressive and terrible story. Steve had to catch his breath to bring out the words stuck in his throat.
He knew who the hostage had to be; the officer on the team most likely to cause that kind of reaction from Lukela. He understood why Duke wanted him out of the way. It made him more eager than ever to charge right through the door.
Lukela stared at McGarrett. "Steve . . ." There was apology and uncertainty in his halting explanation.
McGarrett's mouth was dry. "He's got Danno, hasn't he?"
Duke acknowledged with a silent nod. McGarrett slammed a knotted fist into the wall.
"He's in your office using it as a shooting gallery. Ben's checking out the situation first hand. An HPD SWAT team is standing by just out of sight on the lanai," Duke replied quickly. "You'll just be a target if you go in, Steve."
A movement down the hall caught his attention and McGarrett identified the figures of Jenny and Chin sitting on a bench. Jenny was crying. It took a lot for the persevering secretary to lose control, he knew. The experience must have been pretty bad to shake her rock-sturdy self-mastery. He wanted to go down there and comfort her and ask what had happened. He was afraid to ask, afraid to think too deeply or question too much.
Gunshots, followed by the splintering of solid wood, sounded from within the office. McGarrett yanked free of Duke's grip and almost launched through the doorway. Duke pushed him to the wall just their side of the door. McGarrett wrested free and peaked around the corner, into the main office of the state police unit.
His private office's door was ajar, the beautiful wood split with bullet holes. Ben was crouched behind the waist-high wood partition of the waiting area near the front door. He launched from the hiding place and hurriedly crawled back to the hallway where McGarrett stood. The flight was followed by a barrage of bullets which forced Steve completely back into the hall.
"That's what'll happen to any of you who try to get into this office!" a raspy voice yelled out. "Now get McGarrett!"
"Smith," Steve identified unnecessarily. "I'm going to talk to him." It was not a request.
As one man, Duke and Ben moved to bodily block McGarrett.
"You can't, Steve," Ben insisted firmly. "The minute he sees you he'll kill you.
McGarrett stopped resisting, but he didn't retreat. "What are his terms?"
"You," Duke flung back. tersely.
"Just me? That's it? I walk in, Danno walks out? As simple as that?"
With an economy of words Kokua explained Smith had demanded McGarrett's presence in the outer office. If it was not soon, Williams would be shot.
Steve peeked around the corner again to assess the situation. His attention momentarily was snagged by the broken glass at Dan's cubicle and the obvious evidence of blood splattering the floor and wall.
He swallowed down a wave of illness. "Have you seen Danno?" Both officers shook their heads.
"How bad is he hurt?"
Ben was terse. "Don't know. Smith's doing all the talking."
"Not for long."
Steve edged around the doorframe but Ben kept a grip on his arm.
"I'm not going to hide out here in the hall while he's got Danno!" McGarrett snapped back almost viciously. He shouldered away from his detective and studied the office. Smith must be able to see the outer office. No way to get in without being cut down. Smith was probably secured somewhere that was also out of the way of the windows. It was a very defensive position.
"I've sent some of our best over to the Capitol," Duke responded. "It'll be the right angle, but I don't know if they can see into the room."
McGarrett edged a little farther into the office. "Smith, can you hear me?"
"Well, McGarrett! Glad you finally made it! Come to the door."
"Why do you think? I wanna talk to you!"
The brashness of the attitude surprised even McGarrett, who thought he was prepared for Smith's twisted psyche. There was no subtlety here, no sign of the artifice and basic cunning of the man. Something was wrong with the situation. Yet, he had no time to reason it out. There were more pressing matters to address.
"Let me speak to Officer Williams."
"I want you to talk to ME!" Smith demanded.
Steve ground his teeth and fought back the vitriolic response on his tongue. Smith had the upper hand right now and McGarrett could not afford to lose his temper.
"I talk with Officer Williams first, then I'll talk to you."
There was a slight thud against the door. McGarrett winced, imagining the sound was from Dan being literally thrown up as a shield. He flexed the tight muscles in his fists, trying to release some of the tension which strained his nerves and temper at the breaking point.
Things were happening very fast, and in a way it was a relief. There was little time to dwell on the depressing knowledge that Danno was injured and held as a helpless hostage. All because Smith was after him and Williams had gotten in the way. Dan's life depended on what happened in the next few minutes and McGarrett was going to proceed very carefully.
"Danno? Can you hear me?"?
A restrained breath, unconsciously held, was released. Some of the tension dissipated. Danno was alive, that was one big question satisfactorily answered.
"Are you all right, Danno?"
"Okay," was the terse response.
It didn't ring with the confidence usually attributed to his buoyant associate. He translated it to mean Danno was not in good shape but was holding out.
"That's enough chit chat," came Smith's voice from beyond the door. "Your cop here is alive, McGarrett. If you want him to stay that way you do what I say."
"All right, Smith, what do you want?"
The meaning was perfectly clear. It was a chilling notion to think Smith wanted him to just step out into the open and present himself as a target. McGarrett was not suicidal. Yet, he wanted Dan Williams, and himself, to come out of this alive and intact. He hoped he could accomplish both those farfetched goals.
"Just like that?" Steve asked incredulously.
"Yeah, McGarrett. I want a private talk. Then we negotiate on how I get outta here. You got two minutes. If I don't see you by then, well, you'll hear my answer."
"Even trade?" McGarrett questioned. "Myself for Officer Williams?"
"Right," Smith agreed.
"No, Steve --!" came Williams' strangled, abruptly cut off reply.
"Deal, McGarrett?" Smith pressed.
It only took a moment of decision. "Okay, Smith --"
"No, Steve!" "You can't!"
Lukela and Ben protested together. Both physically blocked their superior from making a move.
Duke was just inches away and his expression was belligerent and grave. "We can't let you, Steve." He swallowed hard. "Not even to save Danny." Duke was pushing the bounds of discipline by his aggressive disobedience. He and McGarrett went back a long ways and Steve allowed him a lot of latitude. However, this was exceeding the limits of their friendship, yet, Lukela's desperation forced him to persist. "You can't let him kill you!"
Ben's expression and tone were equally grim. "He'll shoot you, Steve. You'd be point blank and he won't give you a second chance."
There were so many layers of tension here it was almost overwhelming. McGarrett's own motivation was to save Dan's life as well as his own. As for his men, they had already reached and surpassed a terrible personal dilemma. They had accepted the loss of Williams, if necessary, but not the loss of McGarrett. This kind of choice was too much to ask of any officer. A part of his heart ached for the grief they already felt for their friend who was just about written off. Yet Steve had to push them to accept his own actions because he would not surrender Dan's life to this madman.
As much as McGarrett could he opened up and let them see his own intensity, his desperate commitment to save Dan.
"I've got to try, gentlemen. I won't stand out here and let him kill Danno!" His voice caught just setting up the terrible scenario.
Duke and Ben exchanged glances and their expressions showed they would no longer fight him. Without further comment he stepped away from them and to the edge of the doorway.
"Dan Williams has to come out before I show myself, Smith," he shouted.
There it was again, that easy acceptance. Strategy absent of guile. Steve felt the hairs on his neck stand on end. There was a missing piece of the calculation, but he still could not grasp it.
"Get ready to move in," McGarrett said in an aside to his officers. "If he lets us cross simultaneously I'll get Danno out of your line of fire. Then go for Smith."
Both officers indicated they did not agree with the procedure, but could not come up with a suitable alternative to save both detectives. The SWAT team was alerted and HPD sharpshooters signaled that they were set.
"Time's up, McGarrett!" Smith shouted.
"I'm coming out. Let me see Officer Williams."
There was no response. McGarrett took a chance and poked his head around the corner. The office door had opened and Dan Williams leaned against the frame.
Steve gulped down a tightness in his throat. Dan looked terrible; his face pale and tight, fatigued and pained, streaked with blood.
"Danno?" It was a quiet, private question for reassurance.
"Don't do it, Steve, he'll kill you!"
Williams' head was jerked back. A pistol was placed against his temple. Smith was still unseen but his threat was obvious.
"Show yourself, McGarrett!" There was no leniency in the command.
McGarrett took a step into the room. Without warning Smith's pistol was turned toward McGarrett and fired. Steve was slammed back against the wall.
"No!" Dan screamed.
He fell back against Smith, then was struck in the head with the butt of the pistol. Then Smith grabbed the cuffs and yanked the dazed Williams through the office. The gunman blasted bullets through the front door and the low partition as they raced to the adjoining corridor leading to the interrogation rooms. As they ran past the partition Williams blearily spotted McGarrett slumped against the wall.
Dan did what he could to impede the criminal, but his injured condition was no match for the determined Smith. Amazingly there was no opposition in the corridor as they made their speedy, reckless flight through the old hallways of the Palace. Williams was sick with revulsion that he had been the instrument of Steve's murder.
That Smith was still using him as a shield was unconscionable.
They came to the end of the corridor and Williams resisted with every particle of energy he had left. With a last surge of strength he pushed Smith into the wall and cried out for help. Smith slammed the pistol onto the side of his head and his world plunged into blackness.
McGarrett leaned back in his chair and gingerly rubbed the sore spot on his ribs. Nothing was broken, thankfully, but the bruising from the .45 bullet certainly hurt. He glanced at the bullet-proof vest which was slung across the desk. Good thing Danno had sent the vest over to the DA's office. The precaution had saved his life.
The painful injury was certainly preferable to the alternative.
However, it was the only thing about the afternoon which WAS acceptable. He launched from the chair in irritation. Regretting the sudden movement, he sat down at the edge of the desk and caught his breath. It offered a grim chance to survey the ruined office. Bullet pocks lined the wall, dotted the chair. Blood stains dotted the carpet near the door.
Incensed at the untenable situation he carefully stood and went out to the freedom of the open lanai. He gently pounded his fist onto the wrought iron railing as he gazed out at the peaceful, verdant grounds of the Victorian palace; an oasis amid the bustling city surrounding him. The tranquility did not extend to his mood. Anger flooded his entire being. He could not remember a stand-off which had turned more sour than this. Nor a crisis which was more important to bring to a successful conclusion. He tried not to dwell on the grim possibilities of the hostage situation. Danno injured, whereabouts unknown, in the hands of a deranged man who hated both the top officers of Five-0.
McGarrett thought back to a case of several years before. A lunatic was taunting them -- him -- with death threats. Not death for himself, but for someone close to him. Dan had come up with the shrewd perspective which explained the mind set of their tormentor.
'What would you do if you put yourself in somebody else's place who really wanted to hurt you -- put you through torture?' Williams had asked those few years back. 'I mean really put you through torture. What would you do? I wouldn't kill you. Too easy, too fast.'
It would have been easier to take if Smith had taken him hostage instead of his closest friend. McGarrett had been through this hostage trauma before with Dan. It WAS torture being on this end of the waiting game; knowing at any time you could receive word that your friend was dead. Killed for the impact of painful vengeance. Dan was right. If someone wanted to hurt you it was too easy to just kill you. Having a friend in the hands of a madman was the most painful thing he could imagine.
He sensed the presence of Ben, he thought, behind him. Without turning he barked, "I want an explanation! Now!" he demanded. The harshness of his tone barely covered the raw anger and remorse which burned inside. His emotions were boiling over and he needed some targets for his wrath.
"It's my fault." The quiet, tremulous voice came from Jenny. McGarrett spun around in surprise. The secretary came in from the open doorway, her face a semi-composed mask; a commendable show of near-control. Her eyes and face were puffy from shed tears but she put on a brave show. "He came right into the office, boss. Danny tried to stop him and I didn't help, I ran away."
The tears were rolling down her cheeks now. To forestall a dreaded outburst McGarrett comforted her by putting an arm around her shaking shoulders. He was stiff with the rigid control gripping his own emotions. He forced down his anger and anguish and tried his best to offer comfort.
Details had to be reported, facts had to be established, explanations given. Part of that report would be what happened before he came onto the scene. He thought back to the sight of Dan in the doorway. He wasn't sure he wanted to know what happened. All the evidence pointed to violence which he was filling in with a rampant imagination.
"Not now, love," he said quietly. Neither of them needed gruesome facts now. They needed a reassurance unavailable to them.
"I need to tell you, Steve," she continued. Misreading his reluctance to apply to herself she said, "Danny did everything he could. He saved my life." She sniffed back more tears.
Steve closed his eyes against the raw anguish weaving between them. He wanted to stop her, but a part of him had to know the truth no matter how much it hurt. Fortunately, Jenny's account had very little detail. She had not stayed for more than the few seconds it had taken her to run from the office to find help. She had seen Smith overpower Dan --. McGarrett gritted his teeth. The vague description of the fight was enough, his imagination filled in the details he did not want to even think about. The graphic physical evidence left behind -- on Danno's face -- at the scene -- was more descriptive than any eye witness account. The trail of blood belonged to Dan. Smith had escaped, taking along the injured officer.
McGarrett released Jenny and patted her shoulders, yet avoided her eyes. "Will you be okay?"
"I'm fine," she sniffed.
It was a lie they would both accept. No one would be fine as long as there was a missing family member. The analogy was more than just the usual familial, brotherly term used to describe a fellow officer. The Five-0 team was a family, his ohana. In the years they had worked together Steve had adopted Dan not only as a second-in-command, but as a kind of kid-brother. No effort would be spared to save Dan and nothing would be all right until he was safely back home. He noted Chin, Ben and Duke were hovering just inside the office.
"I'm going to put you into Chin's care," he said quietly to Jenny. He escorted her into the room and over to the Oriental detective.
She started a protest but McGarrett instantly broke in. "You' re going home, Jenny and you're taking some time off. And don't argue with me."
His tone was stern and almost harsh. Nothing had gone right for him so far that day. This one thing he had control over and he was not going to let anyone ignore his order. In the back of his mind he guiltily thought there was a part of him that wanted Jenny out of the way. Her overtly emotional presence was an obvious reminder of how they all felt and at the moment he could not deal with any more emotional residue. Also, his sense of chivalry came to the forefront. He wanted to protect her from any further pain just in case the unspoken worst happened. He could not deny the fear rising in his mind as an ominous shadow, that there was the real possibility things could get worse.
"We'll let you know right away. I promise."
"I'll hold you to that," she replied with a weak effort at a threat.
Once she was led from the office by Kelly, Steve glared at Ben and Duke. Hanging onto thin vestiges of control he demanded an explanation of what had happened and how Smith could escape -- with Danno -- under their noses!
Ben cleared his throat. "You won't believe it, Steve."
The responding tone was lethally grim. "Try me."
Kokua glanced at Duke for silent support, then back to Steve.
"Smith ran through the corridor along the interrogation rooms, to the makai hallway." Ben paused to gather courage. "They escaped -- in an old, unused dumbwaiter."
McGarrett was so speechless with incredulity he could not even formulate a scathing retort to the absurd explanation. He stepped to a chair and slid into the comfortable leather cushions.
Lukela intervened with the voice of calm reason. "Along that hallway is the old dumbwaiter used by the King's servants when Kalakaua resided in the Palace." He went on to remind the boss that the Five-0 wing on the Ewa side of the building, in the last century, was the royal dining room. When Kalakaua; the last King of Hawaii, and later his sister Queen Lilliokalani inhabited the Palace, all the modern conveniences of the late Victorian age were incorporated in daily life for the royals. Included in the Palace was a dumbwaiter which was used to transport food from the basement kitchen to the dining room. The small cupboard accessing the dumbwaiter had been closed, painted over and forgotten since the fall of the monarchy. No one, except obviously Smith, remembered it existed until today's great escape.
Then Ben continued, delivering the second blow. "When they reached the basement Smith, and Danny, somehow left the building without anyone seeing." He paused, obviously to gain extra courage. "He used Danny' s LTD as the getaway car. There's an APB out now on the car and Smith and Danny."
McGarrett shook his head, thunderstruck by the unbelievable comedy/tragedy of errors. A dumbwaiter! A stolen police sedan complete with policeman!
"A dumbwaiter!" he shouted. "Danno's car!" like an expletive, came a few moments later.
For what seemed like a very long time, he sat there in stunned silence. Many minutes passed before he could assimilate the information enough to even think.
Well, there was the cunning and guile he had been waiting for from Smith. He had never anticipated this kind of coup, this kind of incredible moxey! Aside from the very personal aspects of the situation, Smith was proving to be an incredibly formidable opponent. Obviously, from the fact that he remained a few steps ahead of them at every turn. For once McGarrett had a very hard time anticipating the criminal's next move. At this point, he had trouble working on his own next step. He would not admit that he was rattled by the sequence of surprises, but he was certainly out of step.
Some of the elements would have been funny if it was
not such a dire situation. They had been made royal fools. They would be the
laughing stock of
Danno was injured. Smith's mental state was dangerous. The outlook for Williams' future was very grim. Steve glanced through the door, at the wreck of Dan's office, then to the bullet holes strafed along his desk and back wall. For a moment he allowed some guilt-ridden, self-indulgent 'what-if's' to enter his thoughts. If he had played it differently he might have been killed. Or he might have been the one taken hostage. He wondered how the situation could have been altered.
This afternoon when they had calmly discussed Smith they had admitted to the danger of the man. They had not conceived of the deranged man's incredible talent for survival and vengeance. They --HE -- had been taken by surprise at the level of Smith's determination and violence. The worst case scenario had been fulfilled with the recrimination hitting his closest friend. Vengeance fueled and drove Smith. It was his purpose in life.
McGarrett had his own purpose now, and he pitied Smith if the criminal was stupid enough to bring any more suffering onto Dan Williams. If Dan was killed then Smith would see a backlash of revenge that the criminal might not even survive. Vengeance against the criminal -- wishful thinking. For a flash of a second McGarrett questioned what he would do at the end of this ordeal if Dan was killed by Smith. McGarrett wondered if he was capable of cold blooded murder for revenge, which would make him no different than Smith. For that hypothetical question McGarrett had no answer.
It had been an incredibly long, bad, depressing day. He had to muster all the energy and courage he had left to face the next routine steps of investigation. Somehow he had to push this a little farther away from such a personal perspective. He could accomplish nothing when his emotions were so caught up in the case.
'Score one for old Sherlock,' he thought with a rueful salute. Holmes had correctly insisted emotions clouded the clarity of deductive reasoning. Steve felt he had to regain some objectivity or he would never recover his balance.
With a deep breath he came wearily to his feet and leaned against the desk. He didn't really know where to begin, but he made an effort. "Keep checking your sources, gentlemen," he said without looking at his detectives. 'Fall back on routine. One foot ahead of the other,' he thought just this side of despair. "Hit the streets. Look under every rock and roust every snitch. Any rumble on the coconut wireless, I want to hear about it. And get that APB to every cop on this rock."
"Will do, Steve," Duke promised and was out the door.
Ben lingered for a moment. "Why don't you take a rest, Steve. We may not get any leads for awhile."
Steve almost grinned at the typically cryptic comment by the broad-shouldered Samoan. What a tactful way to say he probably looked as bad as he felt.
"I need to stay here," he replied. He hoped Ben read between those lines because he couldn't explain more. "I need to think," he finished thickly. "Smith has outsmarted us one time too many." His voice started to shake. "I promise it will be the last time."
When awareness returned to Dan Williams he almost wished it hadn't. His head and face ached with a terrible throbbing. He felt ill, dizzy and disoriented. When he opened his eyes he was momentarily frightened by the dimness then realized it was nighttime. He blinked several times to focus. Finally, he understood he was having trouble seeing because blood had dried around his eyes and he could not completely open them.
He was lying in the back seat of his own sedan with his hands cuffed behind his back. He rubbed his face against the leather to scrape the caked, itchy blood from around his eyes. Wind-whipped rain pelted on the car in a tinny, steady rhythm. Tiny rivulets of water trickled down the door from the slightly opened window. Occasionally a gust of strong wind would send a spray of showers across his face.
Williams' last recollection was the battle in the Palace. He didn't remember an escape. He wondered why he was still alive and it worried him. Something else -- with stunning force he remembered the shoot-out. Sickening revulsion hit him like a physical blow. Smith had shot Steve!
Steve was dead? Dan had been used to kill his friend! The memory was such a tangible pain he bit his lip to muffle an audible reaction and he blinked burning tears from his eyes. He had shielded Smith for those vital seconds it took to shoot McGarrett. What if Steve was dead? The possibility filled him with anguish. He was not sure he could live with the guilt, knowing he had caused McGarrett's death.
"So you're finally awake," cam Smith's grating voice.
Williams remained silent. He didn't trust his voice at the moment. And he would not give Smith the satisfaction of seeing his pain, of seeing how successful the vengeance had been.
"In awhile we'll be taking a little ocean cruise."
Williams focused on the sounds around him. The echo of the lapping water; the creaking of boats secured to wood, the traffic, all indicated they were near a dock harbor. A small one, possibly along the windward coast, he deduced due to the lashing rain coming through the back window.
"As soon as the crowds leave, gonna steal a pretty little boat down there. Then we're gonna sail to Maui -- I mean I'll sail. You aren't gonna make the full trip, Williams."
The threat was no surprise to him. Dan had been prepared for death since Smith had overpowered him in the office. Prepared, but not ready. Williams silently vowed he would not go down without a fight. Not after what Smith had done to Steve.
McGarrett was in deep mediation and he jerked to alertness when the office door crashed open. A breathless Chin charged into the room.
"A patrol unit has spotted Danny's LTD at Koko Marina. They have it under observation with orders to wait for us."
Steve had already grabbed his revolver from the desk drawer, grabbed his jacket, and rushed to the door. "Did they spot Danno or Smith?"
A charge of adrenaline rushed through his system. He did not know what they would find, but the chase was nearly at an end. As they raced to the windward coast he pondered what was ahead. What if Smith tried another stand-off? What if he used Danno again as a hostage? McGarrett had learned some things in their last encounter.
He would not let Smith win this time.
In the distance Williams heard sirens. but the sound soon receded and was drowned by the normal background noises of traffic and rain. A part of his heart sank into hopelessness at that point. Smith had outsmarted and outmaneuvered them all and made it look very easy. Killing a cop or two would be child's play for the cunning criminal.
"You'll never get away with this," Williams threatened with all the bitterness he felt. He forced his words to ring with a conviction he did not feel. "Give it up."
Smith laughed. "You cops think you're so smart." He cuffed Dan on the head. "You dumb cops ain't gonna get the better of Lester Smith."
Williams was afraid that sickening statement was true. The evil-laced tone of the criminal scared the captive detective.
The Five-0 sedan slammed to a halt next to two HPD patrol cars. The Koko Head Marina shopping area was moderately busy. The steady rain was warm but intense and it drove most shoppers indoors in the wooden, nautical-styled motif shopping center fronting the marina. The detectives and Duke joined the patrolmen standing in the shelter of a walkway. They carefully peered around a corner of a row of shops. Williams' sedan was parked in an uncrowded section not far from one of the dock accesses. The patrolmen reported no one exiting the vehicle since their arrival. The lot was poorly lighted, but McGarrett could make out the profile of someone in the front seat of the LTD. One of the officers had strolled by the car earlier and tentatively confirmed Smith's identity.
"How do you want to handle this, Steve?" Chin asked.
McGarrett had pondered tactics the entire trip from
"We have to work on the assumption Danno is still alive and still a hostage," he explained. "We get some marksmen out here. Then we clear the area and -- "
"Mr. McGarrett, someone's getting out of the car," one of the patrolman interrupted.
The group watched as Smith, identifiable now under a lamp, cautiously emerged from the driver's side. He opened the back door and pulled Williams from the back seat. Even from this distance it was obvious Danno was not in good shape, yet was resisting, albeit without much affect.
McGarrett was gripped by the acute urgency to get Williams to safety. There was very little time left. Obviously Smith was taking a boat from the marina. After he was free of the dock he would have no need for a hostage. Every minute became a strike against Dan's chances.
"Duke, get me a vest from the trunk of the car."
Ben was quicker to voice an opinion. "You're not thinking of going out there --"
"Yes I am," Steve cut off the protest. "He's not expecting a dead man, Ben."
"You think that's enough to keep him from trying again?" Chin asked harshly.
"No, but it will buy us time, maybe rattle Smith enough to get his attention off Danno. Then the rest of you will move in."
Kelly shook his head. "I don't like it."
"It's the only way," McGarrett insisted.
Words coming fast and clipped, McGarrett outlined his plan. The men would run to different sides of the marina and hopefully ring in Smith. McGarrett would go up the center and try to head off Smith before he got out to a boat. None of the officers liked or approved of the plan, but McGarrett's forceful insistence was enough for everyone to comply without further complaint.
Smith and his captive walked along the rain-slick dock in a slow, staggered line. Williams struggled under Smith's iron grip, while the fugitive studied the boats tied to one of the docks farthest from the shopping area. The pair approached a boat near a light pole and Smith stopped dead.
Just beyond the pale glow of lamplight there was a dark shadow traced against the rain, outlined against the dim illumination of the lamp. The indistinct figure took a single step closer to the light.
"McGarrett! I killed you!" Smith screamed!
He reached for the pistol in his jacket pocket. Taking advantage or the distraction, Williams jabbed an elbow up into Smith's chest and hooked a foot behind a heel. Both men went down in a tumble on the wet boards of the dock.
McGarrett rushed toward them, revolver trained on them but unable to get a clear bead on Smith to fire a shot. Although Williams' hands were cuffed behind him, he still managed to pin Smith to the dock. McGarrett piled atop the criminal in an effort to seize the weapon. Smith kicked and punched in a ferocious frenzy to escape. Punches to his bruised rib hampered McGarrett, who could not quickly overpower Smith. The best he could manage was to toss the weapon out of reach.
"I'll get you yet, McGarrett! You won't beat me this time!"
His vile threats were screamed with venomous, hysterical hatred. The emotion lent strength to his fight. He crashed his head backward into McGarrett's face. Smith wrestled free enough to get a foot against the exhausted Williams and shove him into the water.
Above the rain McGarrett could hear the thunder of running feet as reinforcements descended on the scene. His first instinct was to jump in after his friend, but Smith had regained possession of the pistol. There was not enough time to reach for his own gun, and McGarrett felt the seconds kick into slow motion as he awaited with dreaded anticipation the repeat of bullets slamming into his chest. To his shock, Smith turned the pistol toward the water where Williams was struggling to stay afloat.
"I got you, McGarrett!" Smith shouted as he loosed shots into the water.
Before the gun could be emptied, McGarrett tackled him, tearing the weapon away with savage fury.
"You can't touch me McGarrett! I got you!" Smith continued in a scream.
Chin and Duke grabbed onto Smith and pulled him away. The madman was still shouting his promised revenge. Ben had thrown off his shoes and jacket and dove into the water. There was no sign of Williams.
The stiff wind hit his rain-soaked skin and clothes and McGarrett shivered. His hands were trembling, but he knew it was from the fear. He almost held his breath as he knelt on the dock waiting for a sign of Ben and Danno. McGarrett tried to reassure himself; Danno was an experienced swimmer and surfer. Danno could survive underwater for a few minutes. McGarrett glanced at the pistol in his hand. Danno could survive a wipeout, but not after being shot. With a shaky hand McGarrett gave the weapon to one or the other officers, no longer wanting to possess the weapon.
Smith's continued invectives grated on his already raw nerves with each word uttered by the criminal.
It seemed forever before a head -- Ben's -- popped up out of the water. Almost instantly he dove back down, obviously still searching for Williams in the dark, murky water. McGarrett was achingly conscious of the elapsing time.
"I got you. I will get away with murder, McGarrett, and there's nothing you can do about it. "
'This is his ultimate revenge,' Steve realized with a cold grip of terror. Not his own death, but the cold-blooded murder of his closest friend. A murder which could never be avenged. Already established as a murderer because of insanity, it would be nearly impossible to prove Smith was sane. If Danno -- died -- justice could never be satisfied. The murderer would never pay for the crime in a court of law.
Shaking from rage and fear McGarrett lifted his own revolver from the dock, staring at it, weighing it in his hand. For a trembling moment time paused as his world focused on the weapon, the instrument of ultimate revenge at his fingertips. One bullet would be all he would need to eliminate the plague of Smith. A bullet in revenge for what had happened to Danno. It would be so easy . . . .
Several yards away the ocean exploded as Kokua shot out of the water. In his arms he supported a limp Williams above the lapping waves.
The pistol dropped from McGarrett's nerveless hand. He raced over to help the patrolmen lift Dan to the dock. He was actually of little aid to the stocky officers, but it was important he be a part of the rescue.
Williams was rolled onto the boards, face down, water dribbling from his mouth. McGarrett reached along Dan's neck for a pulse. There was a an encouraging steady life-beat keeping the younger detective rooted in this world and not the next. And there appeared to be no bullet wounds. Danno would be all right.
For several minutes McGarrett just knelt there. He had not the strength nor will to move. In the aftermath of such intense emotions, he felt weak with relief that the long, arduous ordeal was over. He leaned his head in his hand for a moment and tried to still his shaky nerves.
One of the officers returned his revolver. Steve accepted it, surprised at the sudden, heavy weight of the weapon. He glanced over at the oddly silent Smith. It had been a day and night of near misses. He wondered how close he had really come to going over the brink; how close Smith came to losing his life to McGarrett's cold-blooded bullet. Too close. He glanced down at Danno who had come too close to death. Williams was breathing with a steady, easy rhythm. Hopefully, there would never be another experience as harrowing as this.
He looked up at Smith. Their eyes met. The hatred was still there. Smith had lost again and he would never forget it. For McGarrett, there was a guarded, weary acceptance of the hard-won victory.
"Get him out of here, Chin, " he ordered.
He returned his attention to Williams, but part of his mind was still on Smith. He could almost feel Smith's hatred burning across the distance between them.
McGarrett chose to ride in the ambulance with Williams on the way to the hospital. It gave Steve a chance to recollect the tattered fragments of his emotions. Very briefly Williams regained consciousness. He was momentarily disoriented, then tried to tear the oxygen mask from his face. Only after McGarrett's reassurances did the younger man calm down.
"You're alive." It was a comment of relief, surprise and joy. The emotions were reflected in the bright, yet tired expression and in the sparkling blue eyes of Williams. "How?" the confused, soggy detective wondered.
"A vest," Steve replied simply.
A slow smile spread under the mask. "Smith?"
Dan was regretful. "I wanted him dead," he said, his voice blurred by the plastic mask. "I would have been glad to do it."
"No, Danno," he vehemently denied, placing a hand on his friend's arm. "Not you."
Williams' eyes closed and he relaxed into unconsciousness. McGarrett wondered at his own conviction against the act of vengeance. He questioned if he had done the right thing in not killing Smith when he had the chance. Telling himself he could never live with Smith's murder on his conscience, because he honestly believed in playing by the rules even when the bad guys didn't. He hoped they did not live to regret his sense of moral justice.