McGARRETT IS MISSING
Critically examining his face in the mirror, Steve McGarrett was pleased the abrasion over his left eye was mostly integrated with his eyebrow and hardly noticeable. There would be a bruise of course -- probably looking like a whopper of a black eye -- but the injury was comparatively insignificant. Stiffly turning from the mirror, he limped to the bed and seized a cane. Weighing it in his hands, he considered the benefits of using the implement, or just chucking it (what he really desired) and taking his chances for painful and unsteady travel without assistance. Swallowing his pride, he gripped the cane in his left hand and used it as he slowly ambled to the door.
Hilo Community Hospital was a small set of rooms adjacent to a medical clinic. The staff was thankfully reasonable and sparse, ensuring adequate treatment and very little interference. Once before he had been a patient here and the stay had been rather endurable. [FISSURES**] Pausing inside the room to smooth out his multi-colored Aloha shirt, he glanced down at his left leg. The white trousers hid the stitches and bruises. By some miracle he had avoided smashing his kneecap or bones, but had a terrible bone bruise that was throbbing with pain along with the lacerations.
The anguish was nothing compared to the agony of limping through the forest days ago with his badly injured leg and throbbing head. Those atop his already injured ribs from an incident -- again -- on the Big Island more than a week ago. [STARING INTO THE EYES OF THE DRAGON*] Only his endurance, his stubborn will to survive and get back at Charlie had pushed him to brave the tormenting pain. The injuries were relatively minor compared to what could have happened if Charlie Bombay would have had his way and killed him. Better than the fate of Kimo the pilot. Steve knew he had a lot to be thankful for. He was a survivor. 'A shark, just like Charlie,' came an unbidden thought and Steve winced, shoving aside that nasty resemblance that held no validity.
He hobbled down the corridor. He was releasing himself, so no medical personnel were cluttering his escape route. Out of courtesy, Hilo PD was sending a driver to take him to the airport, so he had some spare time to ponder unpleasant comparisons between he and Charlie.
Steve's drive and professional motivation had contributed to the plane flying through that storm days -- three days -- ago. If Steve had been a little less persistent -- obsessed -- with getting Bombay back to prison, would Kimo still be alive? Standard procedure for prisoner transfers was by private plane -- less complicated than public shuttle jets and planes. They had received clearance and warnings from the FAA and been given the okay to fly. Steve should feel no guilt about the incident. It was not his fault that weather and a faulty engine combined to crash them into the jungle. He was doing his job. Like a shark.
Certainly it was Steve's survival force that kept him alive all these years -- kept him and his unit at the top of law enforcement. Those traits, perhaps, he shared with Charlie, a criminal who had been adept at avoiding the law and flourished in crime rackets in Hawaii. In the end, Charlie had been done in by the survival brutality of his own kind -- fellow sharks after the blood of the weakest member of the team.
An Hilo PD car was at the curb and McGarrett trudged the last few steps to the glass door. Before he could reach it, the door was opened and Dan Williams stepped into the hospital.
Smiling, Steve felt a laugh nearly bubble out of him. Of course. Danno managed to be Steve's own personal "aloha" committee -- seeing Steve off, or welcoming him home for nearly all excursions. There was something so comfortable and warm with that realization that it touched McGarrett right to his soul. He couldn't count the times Danno had gone out of his way to help him out. Today it seemed that once again it was no problem for the younger officer to drop everything in Honolulu and come over to Hilo just to escort his boss back home.
Williams paused a few feet away, letting McGarrett have plenty of space. Concern briefly clouded the blue eyes, and then it was not quite swept away by a camouflaging smile. "Well, you're almost in one piece, I see."
"Almost. Things not busy enough for you back at the office?"
The shrug was easy. "Nah, nothing better to do. Besides, I can't let you have all the fun over here on the Big Island." He glanced around, puzzled, accustomed to more frenetic releases from McGarrett's hospital stays. "No papers to sign? No doctors telling you to stay a little longer?"
"I told them I was out of here this morning."
Dan opened the door and the car door for McGarrett, helping the injured man and his cane into the front seat. On the drive to the airport Dan gave a brief description of events at his end. Eddie and pals had been flown back to Oahu and were in jail, booked for murdering Charlie Bombay. The prison guard who helped Charlie escape was dead. The Bombay incident seemed to be closed.
McGarrett didn't have the energy or interest to comment. Out of sorts, he kept thinking back to the grueling trek through the rainforest. Charlie terrorizing a poor man and his daughter -- plain people whose lives were shattered by uncommon violence. They had seen a face of Hawaii few people confronted. Steve could say the same. The little family was simple, dirt poor and terrified.
Stopping at the small terminal Dan parked at the curb and glanced at his friend. "You're pretty quiet, Steve. You okay?"
Dan gestured toward the building. "Hawaiian Air is perfectly safe. Don't worry, it'll be a short and sweet trip."
Until Danno had mentioned it, Steve didn't even notice his fists were balled with tension, his breath short and tight in anxious anticipation of the upcoming flight. It would not be a small private plane -- they would be in a big commercial jet. Leaving the ground, again, was a distressing thought though. There was no question he would do it -- he couldn't waste time and money taking a boat back to Oahu! But the return to flight made him jumpy, no question.
How had Danno figured that out? Was he that obvious? Or did Danno just know him so well? "It shows?"
"A little. Nothing too obvious. Look on the bright side. Being nervous will get you some extra attention from the stewardesses."
Laughing, the tension broken, Steve shook his head in amazement. In his mental tally of similarities and differences between Charlie and he, Steve came up with one more point -- a big one -- on the negative side. Charlie's friends helped him into the grave. Steve's friends -- friend -- probably kept him from that final pit on a regular basis.
Maybe he was a little forceful, and a bit aggressive, but Steve was not a shark. A dolphin? Naw, too fun -- that would be Danno. Maybe he was more like a whale, thriving in a pod, respected and feared. Not ruthless. Not a shark like Charlie. Now he was being whimsical. Maybe it was just the drugs.
"Steve?" Dan tentatively caught his attention. "What were you saying? Are you worried about sharks? Steve," Williams lowered his voice, both compassionate and sincere, "we're not going to crash into the ocean, I promise you."
McGarrett offered a tired grin. "I'm fine. And no, I'm not worried about sharks at all. Let's go home, Danno."