THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON

by

GM


August 1974
 
   
 

"Come on, Danny, where's your sense of adventure?"

"Out on the Pipe, not during lunch at the office."

Leaning against the hood of the Ford LTD, shaking his head in disappointment, Ben Kokua tsked disapproval at his colleague's perceived inadequacy. "This from the guy who took down the Manoa brothers?"

Smirking, Dan Williams ignored the jibes from the taller, bulkier associate. Wiping sweat from his forehead he checked his watch. Again. Moving away from the car he paced, anxiety starting to eat at his nerves. He had things to do this afternoon -- better events than rousting a smuggling suspect.

"Steve doesn't like change. He's already unhappy about them repaving the parking lot at the Palace. Now you want to rock the boat and have someone else bring in lunch besides Uncle Lee?"

"Change is good. And aren't you tired of Uncle Lee's? Just a little? Come on, what have we got to lose, Danny?"

Shoving his hands in his pockets, Williams paced back to the car where his fellow detective was relaxed, leaning on the car, ankles and arms crossed. It was a warm day for Kaimuki and the noonday sun was making this wait more uncomfortable than necessary. They could always go to the corner and wait under the nice umbrella tree near the apartment building, but then Todd Kuala, the suspect they were after, might spot them. And McGarrett had given them specific orders to wait -- without being spotted -- and without taking any action on their own.

Williams hoped Kuala was worth the inconvenience. In another hour he had planned on

spending a late lunch at the King Kamehameha Club with Kiki Chan. Not exactly WITH Kiki, but nearby. The stunningly exotic former Miss Hawaii -- Kiki Chan -- was the host of a wildly popular show called HAWAII LIVE. It was syndicated all over the US and had become a pop-culture rave. The gimmick of the show was that she and her TV crew would arrive at some location in the Islands and broadcast live. Mostly it was fluff-TV -- nothing too controversial or groundbreaking, but colorful, funny, and occasionally provocative because of the spontaneity of the live-on-TV bit. Kiki's luscious looks, sparkling personality and witty commentary were the real reasons behind the hit. Did he forget to list her tight outfits that gave a whole new meaning to Aloha wear?

"My chance to date Kiki Chan!"

"Look, Danny, I'll cover the paperwork for you after we arrest Kuala. You just come in with me on the pizzas."

Again Williams glanced at his watch and re-focused on the conversation. "Steve hates pizza."

"I'm telling you, everybody loves Hang Ten."

"Your kids love Hang Ten. Do you get a discount or something?"

Ben's playful expression fell. "How'd you know?"

"I'm a detective," Dan grinned, pleased at himself for the lucky guess. It had been based on a little bit of knowledge and a lot of intuition. Hang Ten was this new pizza place in Ben's neighborhood. The father of three young kids, Kokua had talked Chin Ho and family into frequenting the place. Now he was trying to convert the rest of the staff. "And I know you're tighter on funds than I am."

"Steve'll love it. So will you. Natural, fresh ingredients. Hang Ten does an incredible pineapple and sausage pizza. And special anything you want stuff."

"And you're working on commission?"

"Discounts."

Running a hand through his damp hair, Williams laughed, pleading surrender. He agreed that after they arrested Kuala he would throw in some money for pizza. On the condition that some of this sensational food was left over for him. He still intended to lunch at the club and meet Kiki. Impatience, heat, or even a hot wahine were not going to push him into any impulsive actions, however and despite his desire to meet Kiki, he would not allow this arrest to be ruined. Even if McGarrett was late he was going to wait.

"So is that Portuguese sausage and pineapple? Can we get extra cheese on that?"
 
 

*****

The neighborhood was older, a little worn around the edges. Depreciating apartment buildings and duplexes took up most of the street that seemed far away from the tropical paradise of postcard-image Oahu. Just the kind of place you'd find a smuggler who had recently upgraded his goods to include cocaine. As McGarrett emerged from his car he noted his two detectives half a block up near the Palm Beach Apartments. Both younger colleagues seemed to be amused by something and Steve thought he heard the word pizza trailing on the faint breeze. Slightly irritated at being caught in a traffic jam, the chief of Hawaii Five-0 was not in the best of moods when he joined his men.

"Wreck on Kalakaua," he tersely explained at Dan's silent look of inquiry. "Any sign of Kuala?"

"Nothing," Ben confirmed, wiping the sweat from his eyes. "What's the plan?"

With a grimace McGarrett surveyed the street. "Chin must still be stuck in traffic. Well, we're not going to wait," he nearly snorted. "I want Kuala. Ben, you take the back in case there's a way out."

"There is, I've found people here before. There's a back stairwell inside."

"Cover that. Danno, let's go."

Leading the way, Steve jogged across the street and down a few buildings to the entrance of the Palm Beach building. Stopping at the row of mailbox fronts in the lobby, he checked for the name of Todd Kuala. Number twenty-five. With a nod he led the way up the stairs to the second floor. Treading lightly down the hall he drew his .38 and from the corner of his eye saw Williams followed his lead. Having his second-in-command literally at his back was a comforting feeling. They knew each other well enough to know how the approach would go down, how the other would react in an emergency. In case of trouble there were no better shots on the team than Williams.

As they were about to pass apartment number twenty-three, a heavy weight crashed against the wood. Both officers jumped to the opposite side of the hall. In two-handed stances, weapons pointed at the door, they tensed as another crash buckled the cheap, old wood. A woman screamed.

Darting a glance down to number twenty-five, McGarrett hesitated. Another thud came from behind the damaged door and another scream.

"Police! Open up!" McGarrett commanded, pounding his left fist on the door and stepping to the side.

Down the hall the door to twenty-five opened and Williams sprinted past Steve. When Todd Kuala poked his head out he was face to face with a police special, with Dan Williams at the other end.

A deep voice boomed from behind the broken door of twenty-three, demanding that the police go away and mind their own business. McGarrett again ordered the people out of the apartment.

Without a word Williams grabbed Kuala and threw him into the hall. The criminal was so surprised he hardly reacted as the shorter detective pushed him down on the floor, ordered his hands behind his head, and quickly cuffed him. With a foot on Kuala's hands, Dan trained his gun at the door of twenty-three.

"Please help!" a woman cried, obviously weeping.

Another thud cracked the thin door. The gap was enough for McGarrett to see a terrorized, bloodied woman smashed against a wall by a thin, scruffy man. Kicking the splintered wood away, Steve trained his pistol next to the man's face.

"Let her go and back off!"

With a groan the whiskered man snarled a refusal and tightened his left-handed grip on the woman's throat. His right hand was raised to strike again. Evenly, levelly, McGarrett repeated his command, accentuating it by pulling the hammer back on his revolver.

In kaleidoscopic flashes, cognizance flipped through his thoughts. He could smell the pungent odor of strong liquor coming from the man or the apartment. Blood drizzled in a thin line down the woman's jawline and dripped on her shoulder. Williams was just past his left shoulder, prepared to offer back up to whatever was required in the situation. And the predicament was insanely enough, a domestic violence quarrel literally flung into their faces. That made this possibly more deadly than tracking down an armed criminal like Kuala. Emotions on all sides were boiling hot and past the breaking point. Many an officer was injured or killed in moments just like this. Safety for Williams and himself was as important as it was for this poor victim.

"I'm going to count to three," Steve warned harshly. "If you haven't released her by then I will take you down. It's up to you."

"You don't tell me," his voice bellowed, slurred words barely recognizable. "Don't tell me what to do!"

With unusual strength for a rather thin, average-sized man, the attacker threw the woman into the door, sending her head and shoulders through the cracked opening. He shoved her body the rest of the way out and made a grab for McGarrett. Already in motion, Steve seized onto the woman's arm and hauled her out of the wooden wedge. From the side Williams tackled the man to the floor.

While McGarrett dragged the hysterical, bleeding woman down the hall, Williams wrestled with the drunk. With vicious, deceptive strength he elbowed Dan's face and knocked the slighter detective into the wall. In an instant the man was charging toward him and Steve never had time to level his .38 at the man's chest.

"I got him, Steve!" Ben yelled from behind.

McGarrett was slammed into the floor seconds before Ben sailed past the head of Five-0, and tackled the who was shorter and thinner than Kokua, but fast and wiry. By then Williams was up and functional and managed to snatch Ben's cuffs and secure the prisoner face down. Kokua volunteered to get an ambulance and sprinted back down the rear stairs. Dan kept his weapon trained on the attacker, who now seemed as helpless as a turtle on its back. Breathless, Williams and McGarrett exchanged silent nods; mutually gratified they both made it out alive from the confusing few moments.

In the brief calm Steve had a chance to focus attention on the victim. The woman was bleeding from her mouth and nose. Gashes on her face, arms and shoulders were from the rough push into the split wood. She was too wrought to speak and he let her just rest in his arms and weep. The man was muttering disjointed, vile invectives, declaring himself as the woman's husband and threatening them all with personal violence for interfering with his marriage.

Sneering, McGarrett barely managed to keep from crossing the few feet of hallway and throttling the man. Violence against women and children sickened him. They were the worst of cowardly, despicable crimes and there were times when he wished the brutality to be turned on the attacker. Give the perpetrator a taste of his own savagery. Clenching his fists, Steve merely stared at the cuffed man, restraining the loathing and anger.

Turning his attention to Williams, he frowned. Everything looked a bit hazy. "You okay, Danno?"

Taking his focused concentration from the prisoner, Dan offered a weak grin. "Yeah. That guy sure has a punch." He tenderly touched his mouth. "I think I'm going to have a fat lip," he groaned. Gently he reached over and touched McGarrett's face. "He sure got a chunk of you."

Feeling moisture on his cheek McGarrett brushed at it, his hand coming away red. No wonder he had a ringing headache and the world was a little wobbly.

Dan gestured toward the woman who was still crying into McGarrett's shoulder. "How's she?"

"They'll be a lot of scars," he said through clenched teeth.

Ben, Chin, ambulance attendants and three HPD officers arrived together. It took all three of the patrolmen to wrestle the drunk away. Kuala went quietly with Kokua and Chin Ho. The woman was still sobbing when they wheeled her away on the stretcher. Steve was a bit tottering and unfocused so Williams demanded a visit to the hospital just to be sure he hadn't received a concussion.

The ER was having a slow day at Leahi Hospital and doctors immediately saw McGarrett and the woman on call. After Steve's cut was patched he received a clearance to be released, and the detectives checked on the woman. The attending physician related she was resting in a room where she would stay overnight. No signs of internal injuries and the cuts were relatively minor, if messy. After receiving a sedative she had given them her personal information. Williams took notes about Mary Kozel and promised to send an officer around to get her statement later.

*****

Some bright person in the public works department decided August was a good time to repave the asphalt around Iolani Palace. Trucks blocked the side entrance and all traffic was routed through the King Street gate until that avenue was paved later in the week. McGarrett muttered under his breath as he parked his Mercury under the banyan tree at the back of the Palace. He supposed he shouldn't complain -- most of the staff had to park across the mall-walk at the Capitol. Only the privileged detectives were still allowed on the Palace grounds. Still, he sighed as they walked into the old royal residence; he did not appreciate change in his routine.

As usual, messages were waiting for McGarrett when he and Williams returned from the hospital. He picked up the memos as he sailed into his office. It wasn't until he was at his desk that his mind registered the scent he smelled was -- pizza? The strong aroma reminded him he was hungry. About to inquire on the new menu, he stopped as he read a message that Officer Kimura from HPD Domestic Violence unit had called. Guessing the subject of interest was easy. Anxious to get the case against Mary Kozel's husband nailed down he dialed Kimura's number as he scanned the other messages.

"Lieutenant Kimura, Domestic Violence Task Force."

Steve was surprised it was a woman's voice. "Lieutenant, this is Steve McGarrett. You called me. Is this about Mary Kozel?"

"Yes it is, Mr. McGarrett."

"I'm impressed. I barely got back to the office. You're moving fast on this."

"Yes, Mary is one of my red flag victims. Her husband is a repeat offender and when I heard she had been attacked again I jumped right on this case. I'd like to come over and get your statement if I may."

McGarrett almost smiled at the surprising turn of phrase being leveled at him. "I'm the one usually saying that."

"No doubt," she responded with the lilt of humor in her tone. "Will you be there in about an hour?"

"I will. See you then."

After hanging up Steve sorted through the memos as he strolled out to the main office area. Sure enough, pizza boxes were sitting on one of the secretaries’ desks. The greasy junk food looked and smelled pretty good. Ben offered him a slice on a plate. The pizza wedge seemed over-piled with lots of goodies.

"Plenty of veggies and pineapple on this one, Steve."

Steve did not like alterations in his routine. "Where's Uncle Lee's?"

Dan and Ben exchanged exaggerated looks and Steve had the impression this had been an important sub-plot in the office lunch pattern. Jenny, Chin and the other staff members seemed part of the conspiracy.

Under the amused scrutiny of his staff, McGarrett took his first, tentative bite. Everyone seemed to hold their breath as they waited for a sign of approval or disapproval from him. He couldn't help himself, he moaned with pleasure as the tastes registered on his tongue. The secretaries and detectives smiled, as if this had been a major event. He would have to ask Danno about it later. Williams was too busy carefully feeding his bruised, swollen mouth just now.

"Decided to stay instead of going over to the King Kam Club for lunch, Danno?"

Williams nearly choked on his pineapple and sausage pizza. "How did you know?"

"It's my job to know these things," Steve assured cryptically.

Dan pointed to his face. "I don't want to meet Kiki looking like this!" He nodded to his boss. "How's the head?"

Toughing the bandage on the side of his scalp, McGarrett just shook his head. Grabbing two more slices he retreated toward his office, ordering the detectives to join him with their updates of several cases, including Kuala. And bring in the rest of the pizza.
 
 

*****

"Lieutenant Kimura is here, Steve."

"Send her in, please."

The young woman was slight, thin and looked only old enough to be a rookie cop. Maybe. Knowing age could be deceptive (Danno being a good case in point) McGarrett assessed her instinctively as she crossed the room to offer him a firm handshake. She had to be efficient and darn good to rise to Lieutenant of a special task force at this age. Again, he reminded himself that she could be thirty-five even though she looked twenty. Oriental and Polynesian women were blessed with youthful-looking beauty and he had a hard time judging anything more specific than their alluring loveliness.

"Mr. McGarrett, thank you for seeing me so promptly."

"Not at all," he acknowledged as he sat next to her in one of the white visitor's chairs in front of his desk. "I'd like to get this scum behind bars quickly."

"I agree, but let's not get too optimistic."

Incredulous, Steve told her his experience with Mary Kozel and her husband, whom he learned, was Kimo Kozel He was a repeat offender to Kimura's task force. Twice before Kimo had beaten Mary, twice she had ended up in the hospital and both times she had retracted her charges against him.

McGarrett sat back appalled. "That won't happen this time," he shook his head, nauseated at the memory of the violent battle in the hallway. "He knocked her through a door!"

Kimura shrugged and offered blandly, "Don't hold your breath. I've seen it happen before. Too many times." A restrained sigh escaped. "Like the dark side of the moon. No one wants to know about such abuse. No one wants to admit it's there. But even though we turn a blind eye it exists."

McGarrett studied her thoughtfully. "You're taking this personally, aren't you, Lieutenant?"

"And you're going to tell me I shouldn't?"

Tempering his cop-mask with compassion he admitted, "Sometimes it can't be helped. Just don't let it get in the way of your duties, officer. Or your own safety."

She reminded him that she was a veteran officer and knew how to handle herself. After she left Steve wondered about Kimura's passionate motivation and why she was taking such an interest in this case.
 
 

*****

 

The sun was setting past the tall office building in downtown Honolulu when McGarrett returned to the office. He had been checking on lab work, then out to a crime scene in Pearl City, then a stop at the DA's office to discuss the Kuala case. He was surprised to find Dan Williams still in his cubicle. Even more amazed that instead of being busily engrossed in work, Dan was staring at the wall, tapping the desktop with the end of a pencil. Many times Steve had seen his fellow detective in varying moods of frustration, anger and fatigue. He could never remember an expression of such -- simmering confusion -- was the best description he could come up with.

"What gives, Danno?" he wondered, leaning against the doorframe.

Williams started. "Oh! Steve!" His face twisted into a scowl, expressively displaying his inner irritation and perplexity. "Hi."

"I thought you had plans tonight? Is there something I should know about?"

Throwing the pencil across the small room Dan launched to his feet. "Yeah. Bad news. Mary Kozel."

It took a moment for the busy head of Five-0 to place the name with the bizarre set of circumstances he had been involved in that afternoon. It seemed like days ago. "Is she all right?"

"That's debatable. She released herself from the hospital," Williams slammed his fist onto the desk, "and sprung her sleazy husband out of jail!"

"What?"

"Yeah, Hilton over at HPD called about something else and let me know. He was on the desk when she checked the guy out. She dropped all charges."

Incredulous, McGarrett drew in-and-out breaths of empty words for a moment, not-quite-sputtering his frustrated confusion.

"How?"

"He was booked for domestic dispute. Since the wife dropped the charges HPD couldn't hold him on anything."

"What? Didn't we have him booked for assaulting a police officer? Or disturbing the peace? Attempted murder? Anything?"

"He only had the single booking when he came in," Dan sighed, leaning against the wall next to his boss. "I didn't think to tell Ben to pile up the charges. I thought nearly killing her would be enough."

McGarrett pushed away and stalked toward the door. "Well, we're going to change that. We're going to go get him right now."

Dan was instantly at his heels, skipping through the quiet halls of the old Palace to keep up with the angry boss. They volleyed ideas, possible charges back and forth as they sped through the building and out to the parking lot. Tropical twilight was fast approaching and the old downtown structures around the Palace grounds seemed trapped in time -- tinted in sepia-toned dusk. The setting seemed surreal as the ocean trade-wind breeze sifted through the rustling palm fronds and they raced to protect a victim who had voluntarily released her attacker.

"I don't get it," McGarrett nearly snarled as he pulled out into the busy traffic lanes on King Street. "Why would she do that? Lieutenant Kimura said Kozel has a history of battering his wife. How could a woman go back for that type of treatment?"

In subdued frustration Williams pounded a fist onto the car's window armrest. "I've studied psychology, Steve. There's a lot of mystery still over this whole terrible cycle. What it comes down to is battered women need to make a clean break and have someone they can turn to for help. Someone to protect them."

"That's what WE'RE supposed to be here for, Danno. Protect and serve."

"I wish it was that easy."

Returning to the Palm Beach apartments at night cast a different perspective on the neighborhood. Just blocks from nice middle-class houses and modest, neat condos, these apartments seemed seedy and suspicious. Figures, half hidden in the shadows, scurried away to hide in the darkness like feral creatures afraid of the light. Afraid of the law, McGarrett corrected. Not so far from the bright lights of Waikiki's international nightlife, there lurked so many dirty secrets and furtive crimes buried too deep to be discovered. Steve hoped Mary Kozel was not one of the ones they would have to bury in a literal sense.

Pounding on number twenty-three they got no response. The door had been boarded up and there was no light or sound coming from the apartment. Without a warrant they could not do more and went downstairs to the manager's apartment. There, also, was no response and for a few moments they quietly conferred as to their next step. The edge of their righteous anger blunted, they returned to the second floor to interview neighbors. No one in the six apartments would talk to them; some wouldn't answer the door. Tired, hungry and aggravated, they trudged outside to McGarrett's Mercury.

Preoccupied by his foul mood, McGarrett's guard was down as he opened the door of his car. More alert than his superior in this precarious district, Williams saw the threat before his friend, but was too far away -- on the other side of the car -- to do any good.

"Steve! Behind you!"

Instinctively McGarrett ducked and went for his weapon. The car door swung into the barreling onslaught of the attacker and bounced the man back. By then Williams had slid across the hood and grounded the unknown assailant with a flying tackle. Stepping a few paces over, McGarrett had a bead on the two figures as they rolled into the shadows of the side of the apartment building.

Not daring to shoot while Danno struggled with the attacker, Steve checked around them, made sure there were no more visible threats, then raced over to help. The obviously taller, deceptively cunning form was not Williams. A strangled cry that did sound like Dan squeaked out just before McGarrett grabbed the assailant and tried to yank him away. The combatant had a death grip on the slight detective and Steve was tempted to quickly and decisively blow the man's brains out. Instead, he tried a more tempered action of striking a blow with his gun to the man's head. The attacker slumped to the ground. Leveling the .38 on the offender, he glanced to make sure Williams was all right, then ordered the suspect to put his hands behind his back and remain on the asphalt.

Dictating the Miranda rights as he snapped cuffs on the brute, Steve quickly backed away and crouched down to check on Williams. The younger detective was sitting up, massaging his throat and groaning.

"I'm okay," he croaked.

Nerves racing with adrenaline, McGarrett nodded and patted him on the shoulder, tense and ragged from the unprovoked skirmish. He kept his revolver trained on the man lying in the parking lot.

"What -- was -- that -- about?" Dan wheezed.

"I don't know." Stalking over to the man he dragged the man over into the dim light of the street lamp on the corner. Kicking the suspect over onto his back, Steve gasped. "Kozel?"

Dan instantly scrambled to his feet, drawing his gun and holding it toward the dangerous criminal. "What are you, nuts?"

The obviously drunken man spat at the young officer. "You stinkin' pigs! You shoulda mind your own business! You and that stinkin' woman cost me my job today! The apartment manager kicked me out! I got no place to live! I got no money! You dirty cops'll pay for that! You pay for getting your face into my business!"

Nose twitching at the stench of sweat and liquor -- at the foul creature before them -- McGarrett sneered. "Keeping scum off the streets IS our business."  He went to his car to radio for back up.

"What I do in my place is my business. Big pilikia you bit off comin' against me, pig!"

He made an effort to roll up and onto his knees. With a kick Williams knocked him back down to the street. "You don't know what pilikia is," Dan coughed. "We're from Five-0, you idiot!" He reached down and grabbed the man's worn T-shirt by the collar. "You've tried beating up on a woman who couldn't fight back. You picked the wrong guys to mess with tonight, Kozel!"

From behind, McGarrett gently disengaged Williams' grip. "Easy, Danno."

"He tried to kill us!"

"And we got him," McGarrett reassured as he pulled his excitable colleague away to lean against the car. "This time we can put him away for a long time and no threats he gives his wife will make any difference." He patted Williams on the shoulder and raised his eyebrows, silently requesting confirmation that they were on the same wavelength. After a curt nod from the younger man Steve released his hold. He leaned next to his friend and breathed out a deep sigh, rubbing his aching head. "I'm just glad we can get him locked up solid this time."

Sirens quickly grew in volume and two HPD squad cars skidded around the corner, skidding to a stop by the Mercury. McGarrett explained the situation, allowed two patrolmen to take custody of the offender, and gave specific instructions for booking charges. Returning to the car he suggested they go get something to eat and call it a night. They stopped at a restaurant close to Williams’ nearby apartment. Neither were very hungry, making a poor showing at dinner, and soon agreed to just go to their respective digs and try and get some rest. McGarrett promised to pick up his second-in-command in the morning since they had left Dan's LTD at the Palace.

After showering and sitting out on his lanai to relax -- trying to ignore the headache that refused to go away, McGarrett found it impossible to get his mind off the troubling case of the Kozels. Technically it was not even in Five-0's jurisdiction, but the sleazy case had literally been thrown in his face and he would not back down now. Not after the overt attack tonight. This was his case all the way now and he wouldn't let it go until the locked cell door was between him and Kozel. The finality did not give him any peace and for a long time he sat on the dark lanai, staring out at the lights on Diamond Head, trying not to think of Mary Kozel and the terror she had lived with -- the nightmare she could not tear herself away from. The dark side of the moon. And he wondered, frustrated and furious, what he could do to make a difference.
 
 

*****

At the beginning of the day shift at HPD, McGarrett and Williams found their way to the Domestic Abuse Task Force unit, which was, in fact, Lieutenant Kimura's desk in the corner of the Vice Squad room. The thin, slight officer was just returning to her lair with a steaming cup of coffee. Studying her, McGarrett was glad, in a shamelessly chauvinistic way, that he and Danno had been the ones front and center to take the heat from Kozel the night before. He shuddered to think what would have happened to the petite Officer Kimura. Yes, he silently chided himself, he knew she was a trained HPD officer, but even Danno had a tough time with the beast last night and might have been killed had not McGarrett been there to help. What might have happened to Kimura under similar circumstances? Fortunately they would never have to find out. Kozel was behind bars for good.

"Oh, Mr. McGarrett, Detective Williams. Good morning. What can I do for you?"

McGarrett flickered a smile in her direction. "I guess you haven't heard yet. We had a little -- " he glanced at Danno, whose neck was covered up with a shirt and tie, but there was a nasty bruise and scrape along the side of his face. "A little encounter with Kozel last night."

She nearly dropped the coffee mug. The hot liquid, however, did spill and she cursed, quickly putting the mug down and wiping her hand on her trousers. "What? He was out of jail again?"

Dan pulled out a chair and offered it to McGarrett, then let himself gingerly down into another one that he pulled close to her desk. "I think you better sit down, Lieutenant."

Wrath growing with each detail of the incidents -- Kozel's release, his wife's defense -- his attack on the officers -- Kimura was seething at the end of their narrative. Muttering curses under her breath she visibly fought to calm herself enough to converse with the other officers.

She leaned over and gave Dan studious attention. "Are you all right?"

"Just banged up a little. For a thin guy Kozel has incredible power."

Kimura growled. "Fuelled by liquor. Believe me, I've seen it before. Some average guys turn into monsters with the booze. I promise you, gentlemen, this case will be my top priority!"

McGarrett glanced at Dan and saw he was equally surprised at the woman's vehemence. Not commenting on the ire, McGarrett assured her the case would be handled by Five-0 from here on and she did not need to worry about a conviction. McGarrett was taking this one to the wall.

She nearly snarled at him. "This is MY case, Mr. McGarrett! I'm not letting Five-0 take it away from me!"

His eyes narrowed, his voice calm, the firmness in his tone and expression lent subdued forcefulness to his clipped words. He did not like his routine altered -- and his MO was to take charge when he was involved in a case. A young HPD Lieutenant was not going to change that. "Kozel attacked Five-0 officers twice yesterday. That puts it in my ball field, Lieutenant. Any assistance you want to provide is fine but --"

"You have little experience in assault cases like this, McGarrett," she snapped and came to her feet. "How could you possibly understand it?"

With clarity as sudden as the afternoon trades sweeping rain clouds away from Waikiki, McGarrett caught a glimmer into the passion, the commitment of the young HPD woman. In a flash of his instinctive intuition he understood her motivations and why she was taking this so personally.

Sympathetically he reasoned, "You're like a terrier after a rat. You're obsessed. But you don't have to handle this alone."

"Yeah, obsessed, you could say that," she granted defensively.

"We're here to help. You can back off."

"Not until Kozel is in jail for the next two decades!"

Dan edged forward and nodded compassionately. "You're taking this personally, Lieutenant. Trust me when I tell you that this close is too dangerous. Personal involvement will only hurt you." He reached over and touched the fist she had balled on the desktop. She flinched away. "I've been there, Lieutenant, I know."

"You could never know," she barely whispered, shaking her head. "You couldn't understand how personal this is. You've never lived on the dark side of the moon." Her whole body was shaking, her voice a weak tremble. "I told you I've seen this before. I have. Starting with my mother when I was ten. She kept going back to my father, kept getting him out of jail. He was fine when he was sober -- an average guy with an average job and average family. But sober didn't happen often around the house. He'd come home and bury himself in the bottle. No one guessed what a mean drunk he could be until my mother's hospital visits became regular occurrences. Until he killed her when I was fifteen."

With a twist of his heart McGarrett bit his lip, holding back the commiseration he wanted to offer but knew would be rejected in her state of mind. He had guessed something of the sort a few minutes ago and he knew there was nothing he or Williams could do for the officer now. The past was gone. She was on a crusade to help others -- to stop tragedy before it reached the level she had experienced.

Kimura's eyes were moist and she savagely wiped them with the back of a hand. Drawing in a gulp of air she settled into a livid grip of agonized control. "I've worked my whole career to set up this task force. And do you know how seriously HPD takes domestic abuse? They even put a nice little label on it when it's really brutal crimes against women and children. I have one other officer -- Patrolman Ky Puna -- working with me and he's on the night shift. Two of us to handle --" her voice cracked. Steadying, she took another breath.

"We're on your side," he offered quietly. "We want to help. This is not a territorial dispute between us," Steve assured.

"Kozel has hung himself with his own rope this time," Williams assured, carefully stretching the collar away from his tender neck where the criminal had throttled him. "We're the big dogs on the block. When he attacked us he stepped over a line that he should have never crossed. We can carry a lot of weight and put him away for a long time. Let us help you on this."

Warily, she studied them and finally surrendered a nod of approval. "Okay. You handle Kozel. But I'm going to deal with Mary."

"We don't have to bring her into this at all," McGarrett countered. "She was reluctant to put him away before. Just leave her out of this."

The look Kimura cast him was withering. While it didn't daunt the seasoned McGarrett, he was impressed with her grit. Not many people were so fearless coming up against him.

"She's going to need help, counseling, support. Leaving an abusive husband is like kicking any other bad habit. It takes time and a lot of inner power. Mary has never shown much strength before." She shook her head and sighed. "At least they don't have any children." At their surprised expressions she narrowed her eyes as she stared at them. "Harsh? Maybe. But it's better this way, trust me." Her expression darkened. "And I'd just like to know where she is. He might have taken his anger out on her before he confronted you two."

McGarrett hadn't even thought of that. So the boss of Five-0 was learning something new in his advanced and experienced age. Even big dogs could learn new tricks.

"You're right. Please keep us informed of what you find."

She managed a tentative smile. "I will. And thanks." This time the smile reached her dark eyes and she favored both detectives with her esteem. "Maybe this little terrier could use the help of some big police dogs sometimes."

"Any time," Williams smiled, more than favorably.

McGarrett pushed him away. "Let's go, Rover, we have work of our own to do." As they walked away he glanced back and gave Kimura a nod. Having a scrappy fighter like her in their corner was an unexpected asset.
 
 

*****

After a business lunch with Manicote, McGarrett returned to the office and was again assaulted with the unmistakable aromas of pepperoni, cheese and other less identifiable scents. He collected his messages from Jenny and stopped at Ben's cubicle, since Kokua was the only detective in at the moment.

Quickly going over details of the latest on Kuala, McGarrett pinned down the officer about the trend toward pizza. Chagrined, the family man briefly outlined his scheme to change the office eating habits and gain favor, and coupons, at Hang Ten's pizza joint. Shaking his head at the amusing office politics, McGarrett retreated to his office, thumbing through the memos. He tackled the most important ones first and the fourth one down was a note that Lieutenant Kimura wanted him to call her.

When she responded she sounded tense. "Mr. McGarrett, I've been tracking down relatives and friends of Mary Kozel's all day. I can't find her anywhere. I'm really worried."

Rage, exasperation and impatience mingled in his emotions as he tried to sweep aside his personal animosities and focus, like a cop, on the case. Abuse -- violence, drugs, neglect -- against women and children hit him like no others -- it was all way beyond criminal in his book. Kozel was a beast and if he had done anything in retaliation to his wife -- well, they were going to find out.

"Where are you now?"

"At HPD. I'm about to head up to Mokuleia where Mary's brother has a place. Maybe she's hiding out there. Of course, there's no reason for her to cooperate, she hasn't in the past. But I just want to know she's okay."

"Yeah. You keep at it from your end, Lieutenant. I'm going to have a talk with Kozel. I'll radio you later."

"Fine. If I find her I'll leave you a message." There was a silent pause. "I wish I could tell you to give him a black eye for me when you see him."

McGarrett surrendered a snort of rueful amusement. "I think Officer Williams would be glad to deliver that message for you. McGarrett out."

"What message?" Dan wondered when he poked his head through the door.

"Never mind. I don't want to give you any ideas." Ignoring Williams' perplexed expression, McGarrett grabbed his coat and put it on as he joined his detective. "We're on our way to see Kozel. Kimura can't find his wife."

Williams' face darkened. "Sometimes I'd like to throw away the book, Steve and have just a few minutes --"

"Yeah, I know, Danno. That's why we're the good guys. We can't ever forget about the rules. It's what separates us from animals like Kozel."

When they reached the rear of the Palace parking lot they crossed to McGarrett's black sedan and Williams' LTD parked next to each other in the secluded area by the grass, under the huge banyan tree. The detectives were shocked to see the car's windshields and outer mirrors had been smashed and broken.

Offering a low groan, Williams warily checked out his car, casting flinching glances at the Mercury that was also dented on the sides and hood. McGarrett, unaccustomed to such vandalism directed at himself or his staff, was speechless.

Williams joined him to commiserate. "Looks like someone took a baseball bat to these . . . ." his voice trailed off.

"Didn't anyone see anything!" Steve asked to the sky, with the precursive rumblings of a bubbling volcano about to erupt. "A crime has been committed and no one saw anything?" McGarrett nearly shouted.

While irritated, Dan was not nearly so livid as his friend. "Well, we're parked in the back. Anyone could walk by anytime and not be seen." He patted the thick trunk of the unique tree with overhanging branches that dropped into the ground. "It wouldn't be too hard."

Chin Ho Kelly pulled into a nearby parking slot and whistled as he approached the leader. "Looks bad, boss. Who's got a grudge against you?" He leaned close to the windshield. "Baseball bat looks to me."

"Yeah, someone with a hefty swing," Williams assessed glumly. "If I didn't know better . . . " he rubbed his neck and glanced at McGarrett. "But Kozel is in jail." On the boss's glare he cleared his throat. "Right?"

"Yeah, but he might have friends who hold a grudge." Shaking his head, he continued to survey the damage, finding it difficult to pull away from the amazing destruction. "Right here on the Palace grounds. In broad daylight! My car!"

Williams and Kelly exchanged smirks. Dan's tone and expression were neutral when he concluded, "A baseball bat to the cars, that's pretty low-life, Steve. I wouldn't put it past Kozel, but what's the point of having some aikane come over and smash Five-0 property? That's aiming pretty high for these drunken scums."

Shaking his head, he frowned, glancing at Dan. "Let's go ask Kozel who he's been talking to."

This time Williams didn't bother hiding the smile. "Your car or mine?"

Using executive privilege, McGarrett borrowed Ben's LDT. At HPD they stopped at Kimura's corner and found the petite young woman fuming. Still unable to find Mary, she was trying to cut through red tape to borrow an HPD car. Her car had been vandalized in the HPD parking lot! Like many officers, she drove her own car as a police vehicle and the short, dynamic woman was livid. Just as with the Five-0 cars, no one had seen anything. The officers agreed this was no coincidence, it had to be connected to Kozel.

Incensed, she volunteered, "I'll hit the road again. I've got to find out who might be hiding Mary. I'm more worried about her than ever. I'll keep my ears open for info about the cars, but it could be any one of Kozel's pals."

Knowing this was an all too intimate case, McGarrett warned her to be careful.

"So Kozel doesn't knock me around like he does Mary? That wouldn't happen, trust me." She smiled evilly. "Even though Kimo promised he would like to try. I told him I'd love to do the same to him."

Dan was concerned. "You talked to him?"

"Went down to lock up before dawn. I had to see the animal in his cage."

"You need to back off, Lieutenant," McGarrett warned sternly. "This is too personal for you."

Kimura's eyes were as cold as her icy tone. "There is no other way for me to take this." She glanced at Dan, then back to Steve. "I told you what happened in my family. I can't let that happen to Mary. Not to any woman I might be able to protect."

"Watch out," Dan advised sincerely, gripping her arm. "Crusades can destroy protectors, too."

"What more can happen to me, Officer Williams? I've already been to the dark side of the moon." She moved away from the officers, sneering. "Let me know what you find out from Kozel. Anything besides threats. I've heard them all before."
 
 

*****

HPD lockup was a busy place on that afternoon. A bar fight with some sailors and bikers had taken out two bars on Hotel Street. All the officers had their hands full and it was a few minutes before any one could give their attention to McGarrett. The Five-0 cop requested to see Kozel and was already moving to the door when the officer stopped him.

"Mr. McGarrett, there's no prisoner here named Kozel."

Williams gasped quietly. McGarrett froze. Fear tingled at his nerves and he enunciated in clipped words, "Kimo Kozel. Brought in last night for assault against police officers!"

The man at the desk cringed. "All I know is what the report says, Mr. McGarrett. Before I came on shift this morning, Kozel was released on bail."

"How'd that scum make bail?" Dan gasped.

One of the unruly bikers grumbled an inappropriate comment about cops and Williams turned on him as if to pick a fight. Leashing his own temper, McGarrett pulled his colleague out of the way and took a quick look at Kozel's paperwork. Judge Harker, a liberal, cop-antagonistic, bleeding-heart had let Kozel off on bail, sighting that a drunk and disorderly attack on policemen was not reason enough to keep the man from his rights to be out earning a living once he was sober.

Grumbling all the way to the car, McGarrett slammed his door and shot the LTD away from the curb like a rocket ship. He told the simmering Williams that they would go to Kozel's brother's house. The brother had posted bail. Maybe Kozel was there. Where else could he be if he was unemployed and without a place to live. Dan picked up the mic and requested HPD backup, reflexively rubbing his neck.

"I don't want just the two of us to handle two Kozels. I'd feel better with an army."

"Good idea."

"I hope it's a younger brother. Shorter, weaker brother."

Around a smile McGarrett asked him to call Kimura and there was no response. He hoped that meant she had succeeded in finding Mary Kozel and the officer would provide protection for the abused woman. Then he concentrated on the immediate problem.

Moku Kozel, the brother of Kimo, was out in his front yard when an HPD squad car immediately followed by the Five-0 LTD, pulled onto the dirt shoulder of the property. Ruefully muttering that Moku was bigger and nastier looking than Kimo, Williams joined his boss at the front lanai of the house.

A heavy construction driver, Moku was built like he could push dump trucks instead of drive them. The scars on his arms and face made him seem formidable and indicated he had seen his share of confrontations. He was suspicious and uncooperative, refusing to answer any questions about his brother. The bail was legal, Kimo was out looking for a job and the cops had no right to hassle a guy trying to make an honest buck.

"We want to ask him some questions," McGarrett reminded sharply. "Where was he going today?"

"Around," Moku evaded.

As tall, but broader than the brother, McGarrett held his ground. "Some police cars were vandalized today. You wouldn't know anything about that, would you?"

Moku smirked at the assembled officers. "Not me."

Dan stepped forward defiantly, daring the larger man to give him any kind of excuse for action. "Did you pick up Kimo from jail this morning?"

"Yeah." He leaned over slightly to emphasis his towering bulk over the slighter detective. "So?"

"Is he driving his car?"

The man looked back at McGarrett. "Nah, he borrowed mine."

"Are you going to give us the information?"

Reluctantly Moku gave them the make, model and year of the car. He refused to admit he had any idea where the brother was going to look for work. Returning to the car, Dan put out an APB on the car and Kimo Kozel. McGarrett went next door to a row of three connected apartment/houses. Two residences were empty, but a salty, elderly man with a stubbly beard and an unlit, chewed up, half-cigar in his mouth opened the third door. Flashing his ID, McGarrett explained he was looking for information on Kimo Kozel.

At first the man, Mr. Taylor, was reluctant to cooperate. Slowly, patiently, McGarrett drew out a few tid-bits. When Williams joined the conversation, Taylor had thawed enough to conversationally explain his relationship with the Kozel family.

"When I moved here about five years ago it was the two boys and the father lived here. Tom was the father's name. Big man. A loud drunk." The label didn't seem to bother the old guy at all.

"Much trouble?" Dan asked casually.

"Police were called a few times. Once Tom sent one of the boys through the front picture window."

Williams raised his eyebrows at that. Kimo and Moku had to be in their late twenties or early thirties. And their father threw one of them through a window? Glancing at his friend, he saw McGarrett's jaw tighten and the lines around the icy blue eyes were taut from the troubling history.

"Do you know Mary Kozel, Kimo's wife?"

"Met her a few times. They lived there for a while -- Kimo and the misses. She seemed a nice sort," he shrugged.

"Did you ever observe Kimo abusing his wife?"

"Knock her around? Yeah, used to hear her cry. Guess he punched on her when he drank too much."

Dan's voice was level and controlled. "And you did nothing?"

Taylor shrugged again. "His wife, sonny. Man can't interfere between married neighbors. I mind my own business."

"Like any good citizen."

Taylor missed the biting sarcasm and McGarrett coolly asked a few more questions about Kimo, his work history, anything else Taylor could contribute. The detectives learned Kimo's trade was a truck driver and always seemed to have a job of one kind or another, mostly in the food delivery line.

Thanking the man McGarrett and Williams returned to the car. As they drove away Dan was shaking his head in disgust. He felt nothing but contempt for the story they were uncovering. Neighbors, even relatives, who knew about the abuses to Mary, did nothing to aid her. Any one of them could have prevented so much grief and pain if only they had held out a helping hand.

More radio silence from Kimura. McGarrett turned the car toward the North Shore and had Williams on the mic talking with Kimura's partner on the task force. Ky Puna had not heard from his partner. They got the address of Mary Kozel's brother -- no phone -- and drove toward Mokuleia. The house was in the back hills away from the beach and along a tree-lined dirt road.

Coming around a blind curve, McGarrett saw the oncoming truck only an instant before the huge transport slammed into the LTD. Steve had been quick enough to veer into a ditch and the larger vehicle managed only a glancing blow to the left rear fender of the Ford. But it sent the sedan careening through the cane ditch, skidding on the undercarriage, as if the car was surfing across the mud. By the time the Ford rocked to a stop all the wheels were bent and the car was smashed beyond operation.

"Steve?"

Blearily McGarrett opened his eyes before he could consciously connect with what had happened. His lungs were filled with dust, his head and body ached -- throbbed -- and why were his eyes closed?

"Steve!"

Slowly the lids blinked open and he could see a fuzzy image of a very concerned Dan Williams leaning close to him. Then the world trembled -- jarred -- and he realized it was Williams shaking him.

"Are you with me, Steve?" His body shifted -- Dan turning him sideways in the seat. "We need to get out of here, Steve, I can smell gas leaking."

"Danno." He couldn't managed enough coherent thought beyond the headache to ask what had happened. It seemed a lot for him to be able to stay awake. "Danno."

An enormous jolt threw his left shoulder into the steering wheel. He heard Williams cry out something, but the world faded away to black again before he could understand. His own coughing woke him up. Instincts urged him to escape, subconscious alarms warning of extreme peril. Unable to see or breathe clearly he pushed against something -- was that Danno? -- in his way and fell. At the end of the freefall was another collision and black.

*****

"Steve?"

The voice was low, intent and very close to his ear. It was the urgency that cut through the pain, the disorientation, and the muzzy dislocation of dark, mental numbness. Again there was shaking and movement beyond his control. Enough of that! He decided assertively and forced himself to open his eyes and get a grip on reality.

What his senses told him was confusing enough to disorient him again, but his survival/cop instincts told him there was an immediate crisis. Dan Williams was leaning on him, a hand pressed to his mouth. Blood was smeared on Dan's face -- at some places abrasions and cuts were still bleeding. Steve could feel water soaking his legs below the knee. The smell of earth was nearly overpowering, strongly mingled with the stench of fire. His brain really kicked into gear when he recognized the alarm in Dan's close, desperate, blue eyes.

"Steve, we were run off the road." It was an urgent whisper. "I didn't have time to call for back up! Do you remember?"

"Fuzzy."

"You got smashed on the head pretty hard, Steve." A gentle touch on his head. Danno's face momentarily registered concern, then cleared back to -- fear? "But we've got to keep quiet now." He shook his head, reassessing his anxiety about the head wound. "I'm going to wipe away some of the blood, okay? See how bad the damage is."

"Okay."

Wincing, but bravely not moaning at the agonizing touch, McGarrett focused inward on memories. What had happened? Slowly his fragmented, throbbing mind connected the events and he could recall driving along the cane road, then a truck coming out of nowhere. Then -- black.

"What's wrong?"

Williams snorted with a humorless grimace. "What's right?" He darted a quick glance over his shoulder. "Kozel took us out with a truck. If the car hadn't wedged into a cane ditch we'd be pancakes right now." He glanced back to McGarrett. "Kozel knows we're alive. He took some shots at us." His tone elevated. "A shotgun in case you're interested."

"We can arrest him." Somehow McGarrett knew it couldn't be that simple, but he didn't know why. "Book him."

With a groan Dan explained he had been busy getting Steve out of a burning car. In the struggle he had lost his own pistol. They still had McGarrett's, but Kozel had the advantage by knowing the territory and being in a lot better shape than the two good guys.

"Mary's supposedly hiding in the house on the other side of this cane field. All we have to do is get there."

"Better than sitting here and waiting for Kozel."

Nodding, Dan agreed. Giving another check of their surroundings, he helped McGarrett to his feet. Once standing, Steve could make a steady, slightly-uneven pace through the tall cane. The house was just over a small rise. The two detectives crouched in the foliage to make sure it was safe to cross the clearing. Dan pointed to the blue car in the driveway. Moku Kozel's car -- the one that Kimo had borrowed. No sign of Kozel. With a burst of speed they dashed across the dirt road and to the front of the house.

When they reached the front lanai they stopped cold. The door was open and red smears were brushed across the faded-paint wood of the doorstep and the lanai. Williams groaned. McGarrett drew his revolver and exchanged a nervous glance with his partner. Moving to either side of the door, Williams kicked it in and McGarrett swung into the room. He would have fallen straight to the floor if Dan hadn't grabbed him and pulled him back on his feet. The weird observation flitted through his mind that he probably shouldn't be the one with the gun, but it quickly died as horror and illness overwhelmed all his senses.

The front room smelled powerfully of the acrid blood that was pooled under the two bodies sprawled on the floor. Keeping a steadying hold of McGarrett's arm, Williams leaned over and checked the woman's face. With a grim nod he communicated the silent question between them -- what Steve suspected. Mary Kozel. The body near the doorway to the kitchen was male and Williams verbally guessed it was the brother. In the corner of the room a gun case with shattered glass told the story. One of the three rifles -- no -- shotgun slots were empty. From the look of the bodies there was no doubt a shotgun at close range had been used.

When Dan straightened his fist went tight on his hold. "Steve." He nodded out the kitchen window. An HPD blue and white squad car was at the back door. He bit his lip. "You don't think --"

"Let's find out."

Gingerly they stepped over the body and warily crept through the kitchen. Without opening the backyard screen door they could see a body draped out of the front seat of the police sedan. Even upside down Lieutenant Kimura was easy to recognize.

Williams' grip was so tight it numbed McGarrett's arm. Then it was released as Dan's form folded against the nearest wall.

"She never had a chance," Dan choked out, in a taut, strained whisper.

Never feeling completely whole, totally together since the accident, McGarrett viewed the macabre scene with rippling revulsion that was numbed by shock and disorientation. The bodies of Mary and her brother were tough, but he had not looked at them closely, had not been touched by the personal tragedy. The walk through the living room had been automatic -- some senses acknowledging the bodies, mostly wariness, alert for danger from the criminal at large.

Kimura, however, was a different matter. While still insulated by his injuries -- the pain, the bewilderment, the shock -- McGarrett FELT the horror of Kimura's brutal murder. She was one of their colleagues. She had been working with them. In her own gutsy way she had come out to save someone -- in vain -- and had been murdered for her crusade.

A knot of bile gagged his throat and he cleared it away with a cough, turning from the shattered car and horror of the body without most of a face. Rage pushed away the abhorrence and sickness. Wrath avalanched his limiting injuries and headache. Emerging from the cocoon was a galvanized weapon of resolve. Kozel was not going to get away with murder. Glancing at his colleague, he patted Dan on the shoulder. No, Kozel was not going to get away with these murders, or any others.

White particles exploded past his face at the instant he heard a shotgun report behind him. Intuitively he dove to the left, by a counter. Williams, on his right, went down in that direction as another blast peppered the kitchen. McGarrett returned fire twice, one of the bullets pinging into the wall. It was then he realized his perception was not up to standard and sourly decided it was probably not to their best advantage that he was the one who ended up with the gun -- and the disorientation.

Across the way, Williams' wry face seemed to indicate he had come to the same rueful conclusions. Another shotgun blast came perilously close to hitting the younger cop. Dan backed into the corner.

"Give it up, Kozel!" McGarrett shouted.

"You ruined my marriage! You ruined my life! You gonna have to pay just like the others!"

Another blast ripped through the wall, plaster and dirt showering Williams, who was only inches away from that round. McGarrett saw there was a door behind him and wondered where it led. Around to the rear of the living room maybe? With only four shots left in his revolver it seemed unlikely he'd hit Kozel before the thug got the better of him. Nodding over his shoulder he gave Dan the signal that he was going to slip out the side. Dan shook his head, not liking the idea.

'No choice,' Steve mouthed back.

"I'm gonna kill you all!" Another blast tore through the wall.

With a resigned nod Dan agreed. He quietly searched the cupboards and drew out a few pans. Pushing them away from him, toward the door, he knocked them around. Two more gunshots splintered the area. As intended, McGarrett used the diversion to slip away. Through a narrow hallway he circled back to the living room. Kozel was approaching the kitchen, the shotgun booming away, ripping the partition apart.

Steadying himself against the wall, Steve held the revolver in two hands. Emotions running high, he knew he could stop the rampage right now, just shoot and kill the crazed murderer without complication. Three people dead. One more possible casualty considering the condition of the kitchen destruction. If Steve called out a standard police warning Kozel could turn on him. In Steve's shaky condition there was a good chance of getting killed. Who would blame him for shooting Kozel now? Not those disenfranchised, dwelling on the dark side of the moon. Only himself, he knew. Despite the danger to himself or his colleague, he had to play this by the rules. The law was the only barrier between him and the seditious savagery of this madman.

"Freeze, Kozel. Drop the gun and you'll live."

"You won't!"

Kozel spun around. The shotgun came up and Steve fired. And missed! In a breath's instant second and third rounds fired and Kozel fell back, the shotgun recoiling in his hands and peppering the wall just over McGarrett's shoulder. Steve's heart was pounding in his throat. That had been too near to disaster to even think about.

Williams was standing in what was left of the kitchen doorway. His pale countenance indicated he understood how close they had come to tragedy. Shaking his head he crossed the room to check on Kozel.

"Pau," he pronounced and took the shotgun away as a precaution. He sauntered over to McGarrett and studied the boss. "Good shooting, Steve."

"The second and third time."

"Whatever works," Williams sighed. For several moments he surveyed the room filled with blood and death. "I'll call for back up."

McGarrett closed his eyes. "I think I'll wait here."

Even though the wall was solid it felt like it was swaying. He knew that was him, not the house. He stayed there, unable to erase the images of the carnage imprinted on the insides of his eyelids. Before long even the nightmarish swirls of blood and bodies receded into the grey mists of his mind.
 
 

*****

Waking from a light doze, McGarrett blinked, orienting himself after a moment's confusion. The view from the breezy lanai of his office had not changed in the last few -- minutes? -- that he had nodded off. Evening at the Palace was quiet, and he was glad he came in tonight to catch up on things. He had taken the whole day off to recuperate from yesterday's battle on the North Shore.

Unable to stand the silence of his apartment he had come here. There was always something to do at his office. Weapons to push away the haunting hush of specters. Few things unnerved the head of Five-0, but the harrowing experiences of recent events managed to leave him shaken. Being alone was not what he wanted. Surrounded by phones and paperwork and the comforting cushion of a presence here, he did not have to worry about ghosts. At least not the ones created by his work. With a ghoulish smile he recalled that many people thought Queen Lilioukalani haunted this old building. It was, in fact, where his office was now that she was imprisoned and died many years before. Well, being an anomaly -- a non-superstitious Irishman -- he dismissed the fanciful thoughts. Any notion, however extreme, was a welcome distraction. Better than dwelling on the dark side of the moon.

"Are you ready?"

McGarrett swiveled the chair so he could face the doorway. Williams tiredly entered and flung himself into one of the chairs. Danno had taken no time off and looked like he could use it. He insisted the office needed him to manage things until McGarrett was back. Steve knew the ghosts would plague Williams, too, if the younger detective allowed the quiet to surround him for long.

"Guess so," Steve sighed tiredly, but made no attempt to move. "I never thanked you, I don't think."

"For what?"

McGarrett chortled. "Saving my life. Just after the car wreck, you could have taken him, Danno, couldn't you? You didn't go after Kozel 'cause you were trying to save my life."

"And mine. He had a shotgun."

"Mahalo."

"You're welcome."

McGarrett still remained in place. "Did you hear about any arrangements?"

"Yeah," Dan sighed deeply. "Lieutenant Kimura had no relatives. Her partner Ky Puna is handling things. A memorial service is scheduled for the day after tomorrow." He moved over and stood at the lanai door. "What a waste. I wish we could have put it together sooner."

Too fatigued in body and soul to comment, to philosophize, Steve stared out at the night lights of Honolulu. "So do I, Danno. But I wouldn't call her life a waste."

"No, just her death."

He stared at the cold slice of pizza on his desk, finally realizing that Danno was staring at him and too polite to comment on his boss' stupor. McGarrett thought of the strange, oddly amusing office humor the last few days about pizza verses Chinese food. How Ben was a good cop, a good husband and father -- a decent man to his wife and kids and those who knew him. Why couldn't all men behave so honorably? They should -- it was what made marriage so sacred and society civilized when partners married and loved their families. How different the world would be if people took on the simple responsibility of being good spouses and parents when they committed into those bonds. How different it would have been for Mary Kozel. For Lieutenant Kimura.

"Then we'll have to do something to change that," he stated decisively. "Make Lieutenant Kimura's and Mary Kozel's cause known."

Dan stared out the window, slowly nodding. "Yeah, I think they'd approve of that."
 
 

PAU