THE    FOX   AND   THE   HOUND

 

written by

gm and KS

 

 

 

 mahalo for editing AS

 

 

August  1976

 

 

When Malia waved at him through his cubicle window, Dan Williams returned the gesture, pointing to the phone.  He couldn’t break the connection no matter how important her message.  He was receiving instructions from the Governor, in Steve’s stead, and even if the roof caved in on the Palace, he couldn’t hang up.

 

The new office manager, Malia had been with Five-0 for several years as a secretary.  When Jenny married, moved to Maui and retired a few weeks ago, Malia had taken her place.  It was a smooth transition, but everyone in the office sorely missed Jenny.

 

Malia scribbled something on a note and Dan did the same, taking details from the Governor about the Pacific Rim Conference starting in two days.  Hosted this year in Honolulu, envoys from several foreign nations would be visiting for five days.  Governor Jameson was notifying Five-0 of a last minute change in the Australian delegation.  Two more aides, two more security concerns at the opening symposium on Friday. 

 

Even now, Steve McGarrett was at the Ilikai Conference Center going over last minute details.  This kind of big political deal was nothing new for Five-0 or Hawaii.  However, every event like this made the Governor nervous and McGarrett tense.  Consequently, the work and stress trickled down to Williams, Kelly and Lukela.

 

Hanging up, Dan finished jotting down some notes and looked up when there was a knock at the window.  Malia leaned in with a slip of paper.

 

“Courtesy desk at the airport.  Your aunt caught an earlier connecting flight out of San Francisco.”  She gave the memo to the detective.  “She took a cab to your place they said.”

 

“What?” 

 

He barely glanced at the note.  Of all the times for Aunt Clara to visit, it had to be during an international conference.  Not exactly a crisis, but a hectic time.  Ruefully, he asked himself when it wasn’t hectic around here. 

 

The change in plan, though, would give him a little more breathing room for today, he realized.  If she was heading to his place, he did not have to worry about picking her up at the airport.  However, why didn’t she just go straight to the Hawaiian Hilton, her favorite hotel?

 

Probably thought it more likely to catch him at his condo.  Typically, he always was so consumed with work it was hard to spare time for her.  Just now, he didn’t have a free day until Saturday.  Aunt Clara – a veteran thespian from way back – was a master at thinking on her feet and more than capable of entertaining herself. 

 

In fact, a few months ago when she dropped in to Hawaii she joined a local theater group for seniors at the Waikiki Shell.  He wondered if she didn’t meet some gentleman she liked because here she was back again after only three months!  Considering she’d only been here three times since he was born, his naturally suspicious mind assumed something was up with Aunt Clara.

 

His phone rang and, still pondering a mysterious tryst for his aunt, he answered it, expecting it to be her.

 

“Williams.”

 

“Danno, there’s been a snag down here at the Ilikai.  How soon can you get here?”

 

A little jolted that it was the boss and not Clara, Danny took a moment to readjust his thinking.  “Uh, just a few minutes.”  He glanced at the desk clock.  “Maybe I can race out in time to miss the quitting-time traffic.”

 

“Sounds good.”

 

“Oh, Steve, the Governor just called.  We’ve got two more aides coming in with the Aussies.”

 

“Great.”  The sarcasm was as thick as a wave at Pipeline.  Dan smiled, silently amused as McGarrett barked, “How many aides do politicians need?”

 

With anyone else, Dan would have thought it was a joke.  A spin on the old line -- how many politicians does it take to screw in a light bulb?  Knowing it was rhetorical ranting, Dan assured he would be there at top speed.  Grabbing his jacked, he jogged out, calling to Malia on the run, telling her if his aunt called, he would be getting in touch with her as soon as he could.

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

Entering the Ilikai was always a pleasant experience.  While the concrete and steel jungle of Waikiki never impressed him, the ability to use Hawaii’s natural resources to enhance the tourist experience was first-class for hotels along the world-famous beach.

 

A doorman in white with a bright red sash at his waist gave Dan a nod of recognition as the detective passed through the revolving glass doors and on to the open courtyard lobby.  The conference center was to the side, but Williams navigated around the massive reflecting pool and spotted his target out on the makai deck.  He crossed over the bright tile of the bar lanai, relishing the soft, cooling ocean breeze taking the edge off the tropical heat of late August.

 

Sweating under the intense, Hawaiian sun, Dan turned into the wind.  Everything was so blue.  The beautiful blue of the Waikiki waters against the starkly contrasting white sand of the beach; the mellow azure of the errantly clouded sky -- all momentarily washed away the stress building during the hectic day.  Whenever things got too crazy around the office, he just had to focus on the natural wonders of his home and the tension eased.

 

In a sober blue suit, absorbed in a rapt conversation with the Ilikai security chief, Andrews, Steve McGarrett presented a tense counterpoint to the tranquil setting.  Noting his arrival, McGarrett waved Dan over.  As he closed the distance, Williams caught the scent of Steve’s strong after shave as it blew toward him on the brine-edged Trade Winds.  Joining his friend, he couldn’t see McGarrett’s blue eyes behind the sunglasses, but he bet they were scrunched in stress, a residual effect of the strain radiating from the head of Five-0 like the heat waves dancing off the sun-baked tile of the courtyard.  Greeting Andrews with a nod, Dan didn’t have time to say more.

 

“Danno, the elevators on the Ewa side of the hotel are under repairs.  Andrews has checked with the repair company and they’ve promised the problem will be fixed before Friday.  I want you to make sure we have an alternate route for the delegates if that’s not finished.”  He took Williams’ elbow and directed him toward the railing, dismissing Andrews.  “Also, we need that security report finished on the caterers.”

 

“Duke’s working on it,” he assured.

 

“And I don’t have time to check the kitchen staff.  Can you do that tonight?”

 

“Only over dinner,” Williams returned with a wry stipulation.  “Aunt Clara’s going to want to see something of us in the next forty-eight hours.”

 

McGarrett grimaced.  “I know we promised her dinner tonight, Danno, but I don’t see how.”

 

Clara and the chief of Five-0 had become good friends over the last several visits.  At Christmas, they did some real bonding.  Dan fondly recalled their escapades with last minute dinner and decorating. [Mele Kalikimaka – fanfiction]

 

“We’ll book it here.  Pull some strings,” he winked, only half-kidding.  “She’ll be disappointed if you don’t show, Steve.”

 

Clearly not wanting to disappoint, but realistic over the situation, McGarrett promised he would do his best.  About to issue further instructions, McGarrett was interrupted when a waiter at the bar reported there was a phone call for him.  Reminding Dan to do the background check wikiwiki, he made for the lobby.

 

Sighing, aware this personnel check was necessary tedium, Williams went to the hotel offices.  The security chief had already approved the elevator people, but Dan double-checked that the repairmen coming later today were the ones who always worked here.  Security promised to do a visual check -- make sure the men were known to them -- and call Five-0 if anyone was new to the repair team.

 

It was late in the afternoon and only blocks from his apartment.  Williams decided to drive down and see his aunt before going back to the office.  As usual, Kalakaua Avenue, cutting through Waikiki, was clogged with tourists on this fine, sunny day.  Errant tropical-storm sprinkles blew in on the Trades as liquid sunshine while he slowly crawled through the stop and go traffic for the few miles to his condo. 

 

At Queen’s Beach, he could see the unobstructed scenery of the sand and surf and noted heavy clouds were moving in over the ocean.  They might have a decent storm tonight.  Maybe he should get Aunt Clara checked into her hotel now.  Then when he and Steve returned to dine with her at the Ilikai, she could just walk from the Hilton next door.

 

He parked in his slot in the underground garage and walked into the lobby.  Mr. Turner, a neighbor down the hall on his ninth floor, was waiting for the elevator.  They chatted momentarily, and Dan mentioned his aunt was in town visiting again.  Turner, in his 60s and a retired schoolteacher, visibly brightened at the news.

 

“I’ve been awaiting your charming aunt,” he admitted.  “Didn’t she tell you we’ve been in correspondence?”

 

“No,” the detective smiled.

 

Clara was a gregarious busybody and probably knew the people in his apartment complex better than he did.  While she didn’t stay with him, she frequently dropped in and somehow managed to meet the most incredible number of people.  He speculated with silent amusement that Mr. Turner might be the real reason Clara had dropped in here unexpectedly.  Then why hadn’t they connected?  It wasn’t like Aunt Clara was shy in any way.  Perhaps Turner had been out this afternoon.

 

In the elevator ride up, he pondered with amusement how many people Clara might have befriended on the plane and what surprises she might greet him with this time.  The first time she ever came, she made friends with a man who was later murdered!  Her subsequent visits did not include adoptees with such alarming fates, but she always managed to find someone.  As long as it wasn’t another blind date with a tourist from Iowa!  Although, he smiled as walked to his door, the stewardess Clara hooked him up with at Christmas wasn’t too bad . . . .

 

Fortunately, her later visits did not include forays into detective work.  Last year she helped them in solving the case of her murdered friend.  Since then she pestered him relentlessly, and Steve a little less, to join in again in an investigation.  Happily, Five-0 was in no need of elderly undercover operatives lately.

 

“Please tell her to drop in.  After she’s settled of course,” Turner called, stopping at his apartment.

 

How about that, Dan tried to hide his smile.  Mr. Turner.  Another broken heart left on the trail after Aunt Clara.

 

“Did she see the write up in the paper?”

 

Dan stopped, fishing in his pocket for his keys.  “What?”

 

“I submitted an article about our upcoming play.  It’s in Monday’s paper.  I made sure they named her prominently.  And you, of course, too.”

 

That wasn’t good news.  There were plenty of low-life’s in Hawaii that he did not want knowing about his personal life.  Striving to be polite, he promised he would make sure Clara came down to see him at the first opportunity.  And yes, she was looking forward to the play revival with the local theater group.

 

Mr. Turner, reluctantly, drifted back to his own apartment after the obvious disappointment of not being invited down to Dan’s place. 

 

The phone was ringing when he unlocked the dead bolt.  “Aunt Clara?” he called when he stepped in, ignoring the phone momentarily.

 

No response. Closing the door, he was perplexed to see no luggage, no purse, no evidence his aunt was here.  The phone kept ringing.  Was it Steve again?  How could he possibly know Dan slipped home for a moment?  Wouldn't put it past him, he pondered as he quickly cruised through the small apartment.  Maybe it was Aunt Clara?  Perhaps she went to the Hilton after all.  Did she get bored waiting here and decided to meet at the Palace?  Just what Steve would not need today -- Aunt Clara underfoot!

 

He snatched up the phone.  “Williams.”

 

“Hello, Danny.  Do you recognize my voice?”

 

The deep tone of a man.  In the simple question, there was a heavily shaded sinister threat.  It was a familiar voice, but he couldn’t place it.

 

“Who is this?”

 

“A ghost from your past, Danny.  Someone who owes you a great deal.  And I am going to get paid back now.”

 

The message chilled him, but he forced anger at the faceless threat to override nerves.  “Who is this?” he barked out.

 

“The man who is holding your Aunt Clara.”

 

He pressed his lips together to trap the gasp that nearly escaped.  This could be a lunatic.  There was no reason to believe the claim, even though Clara was not here and her arrival had already been altered.  She had mysteriously caught an early flight from the mainland.  Suddenly, that innocuous information chilled him with dread.

 

“I don’t believe you,” he countered, trying to buy time.

 

 As he intently listened for any clue, he scanned the condo -- kitchen, lanai, living room, bedroom behind the Japanese screens -- no evidence that anyone new had been here today.  No evidence of a break-in or a struggle.  Was this man lying?  Was Clara ever even here?  What was true?

“Shall I describe her --“

 

“Let me talk to her.”

 

“Not yet, Danny.  First, you have prove your willingness to follow instructions.  And let me assure if you do not obey me to the letter, I will kill her.  There will be no second chances.  Do you understand?”

 

“Who are you?  Why should I believe you?”

 

“Still can’t recognize my voice?  I’m an old friend, Danny.  We used to play tennis and drink together and meet at the country club.  Why should you believe that I am perfectly capable of killing your aunt?  Because I killed your girlfriend, Danny.  I murdered Jane Michaels.”

 

Dan gasped.  “Walter Gregson?  You’re in prison!”

 

“Out on parole, Danny, and ready to take back everything you robbed from me!”

 

A hundred questions flooded through his mind: how had Walter been paroled after only a few years in prison?  Why wasn’t Five-0 notified?  Could that happen? How had he nabbed Aunt Clara?  What did he really want?  The man had murdered Jane.  Rage and hatred boiled inside, just as they had when he had Walter at his mercy on the beach cliff at Hanauma Bay.  Walter, a cold-blooded, conscienceless serial killer, had murdered Jane.  There was no doubt the psychopath could kill Aunt Clara. 

 

Gregson -- someone he had known in a social setting.  Who knew personal details about his life.  Who was obviously dangerous and cunning.  Gregson also knew enough to trap him, set up this phone call and keep him off-balance.

 

He closed his eyes, sick with revulsion and grief.  A sliver of logic warned him to think like a cop.  Establish proof, find weaknesses, and acquire evidence.  Those sensible steps were buried in the blinding panic that a murderer held his elderly aunt hostage.

 

“If you do anything to hurt her, I will kill you this time, Walter.  No power on earth will save you!”

 

“Then you better do exactly what I tell you, Danny.  Down to the last detail.  Any variation and your aunt is finished.”

 

In his profession as a Five-0 cop, he had been in many hostage negotiations.  Several times, he had been a hostage himself.  Policy dictated no deals with criminals, but that could not apply in this case.  He would not let anything happen to Aunt Clara.  Somehow, he would get Steve in on this and McGarrett would help.  Somehow, they would save his aunt.

 

He ground his jaws in frustrated rage.  “What do you want?”

 

“First, you call McGarrett.”

 

That was a surprise, but Dan didn’t react.  “Why?”

 

“You’re going to resign from Five-0.”

 

Sputtering with incredulity, he snapped back, “You’re nuts, Walter!”

 

“Do you want to see your aunt again?”

 

“If you do anything to her, you lose your leverage over me, Walter.  You won’t do that.”

 

“Do you want to bet on that, Danny?”

 

Playing his only bluff card had failed.  Walter had him cold.  Even without proof that Clara was with Walter, he could not act against the mad killer.  Whatever convoluted plot the criminal had in mind, he had to play along.  For now.  At some point, he would turn the tables.

 

“I’m not going to just resign from Five-0,” he countered waspishly.  “That’s insane!”

 

“McGarrett is a threat to my plan, Danny.  Don’t you think I remember how you groveled at his feet?  You used to brag how he could catch any criminal, Danny.  Well he won’t catch me and neither will you.  You have to keep him off your back.  If he finds you, if he helps to search for your aunt, if he interferes in any way Clara is dead.  And if McGarrett gets in my way he is dead, too, Danny.  Is that what you want?”

 

Throat tight with fear, Williams could hardly swallow.  Kill Steve.  Kill Aunt Clara.  Walter could do it.  He had murdered two innocent girls six years ago.  For his wife's money!  A memory-wave of anguish shot through his system, lucidly feeling again the sickening pain of Jane's murder.

 

Resign?  He had done that once before to the shock of his friend.  It had hurt Steve terribly.  How could he do it again, even to save Clara and Steve?  He would.  Because as rough as that might be, it was better than harm coming to those he loved.

 

“He won’t believe me,” he croaked in a final, die-hard attempt to sway the inevitable course of a terrible event.  “It will make him suspicious.  It would be better just to leave him alone --“

 

“I said you resign!  I'm calling the shots here!  You do what I say.  And I want McGarrett out of the way!” Walter shouted, almost squeaking with deranged fury.  “Or shall I kill her right now?  Or maybe I should just have you kill McGarrett for me?”

 

“No!”

 

“You resign.  You leave your gun at home.  Then you walk Diamond Head on Kalakaua.  At the end of the block, you’ll find a blue Chevy Malibu.  The keys are under the driver’s mat.  Then you drive to Oahu Cemetery and receive your next instructions. Be there in ten minutes!   Is that clear?”

 

The commands were coming fast and confusing.  What did Walter intend with a cat and mouse game?  Another car?  Mysterious messages in a cemetery.  The man was insane!  Cunning.  Crazy like a fox, madness. 

 

“Clear?”

 

“All right!”

 

There followed more threats.  Don’t divulge anything to McGarrett.  The apartment was bugged.  Walter would know if he leaked anything to the Five-0 boss.  He was watching.  If Dan made an attempt to contact anyone, Clara was dead.  And maybe the people Dan contacted.  Maybe even Dan.

 

Walter hung up and for a moment, Dan was frozen with immobile shock.  It was all so incredible!  Ten minutes.  Not much time.  The cemetery -- where in the cemetery?  He glanced at his watch.  So little time.  How could he plan anything?

 

Unable to believe the sweeping menace, he could not deny the threats.  The two people he loved most were at risk if he did not go along with the insane game.  If Walter was lying then everything was all right.  He would be the one in danger, but he could handle that.  Something happening to Clara or Steve -- no -- he couldn’t gamble with their safety.

 

He checked the phone, inside and out, and found no bugging device.  Walter could be down on the street eavesdropping with a listening receiver.  There could be bugs anywhere in the apartment.  He didn’t have time to look.  He just had to obey the insane instructions.

 

Automatically he started to follow through with the orders.  Not thinking of feelings or pain, he dialed Steve’s private office number.  With a detached sense of unreality, he listened as the rings echoed in his ear . . . . 

 

“McGarrett.”

 

Curt, hurried, the boss’ bark made Dan jump. 

 

Heart in his throat, pulse pounding, he felt ill and weak and like the worst traitor in the world.  What he was about to do -- he would rather slit his wrists.  Except his aunt depended on him.  So many times, he had vowed to himself he would do anything for Steve, but it seemed repeatedly he failed in that promise.  Failed to live up to everything Steve needed in his second-in-command.  Betrayed Steve's trust and faith in him.

 

“Hello.  Hello?  Who is this?”

 

Impatient.  Harried.  Steve at his usual breathless work-pace at the office.  How could he resign?  How could he ruin his life and hurt his closest friend?  Alienate the person he needed most in his corner right now -- always.

 

“Hello, is someone there?”

 

The familiar and usually heartening voice now filled him with heartsick grief.  Closing his eyes against the emotional pain, he pushed away thoughts of the past -- the future -- the reactions on the other end of the line.  He thought only of his elderly aunt and the peril she was in now.  He was her lifeline and he could not fail in this.

 

He drew in a huge, deep breath.  “Steve, I don’t have time to explain everything.”  In his own ears, the tone was weak, the voice shaking.  He cleared his throat, eyes closed tight against the pain.  “I am quitting.  I can’t be part of the team anymore.  I’m sorry.  Don’t look for me.  Don’t ask questions.  I’m so sorry, Steve.  Just accept this.  Please.  Sorry.   Aloha.”

 

He hung up and breathed again, catching a sob in his throat, opening his eyes and staring out at the ocean view beyond his lanai doors.  Coward that he was, he did not even let his friend reply or comment or say anything.  It was better this way.  Still uncertain, he wondered if this was all just a horrible trick -- Walter could be calling from prison -- he didn’t have time to find out.  He couldn’t risk any delay or misstep that would endanger Clara.  If this was all a sick joke then he had just buried himself. 

 

Had Walter heard it all?  No way to prove or disprove the surveillance threats.  He just had to act as if Walter was telling the truth.  Considering Gregson’s bloody and merciless past, he felt -- despite all the pain he was causing Steve -- this was the best course of action.

 

Depositing his .38 and holster in his bed stand table, he strapped his .22 to his ankle.  It was a risk, but Walter might not check for a second gun.  The unknown territory he was entering -- he felt better with a weapon.

 

As a last, desperate edge, he left a note for Steve.  He knew his friend would end up here.  After that terrible phone call, McGarrett was not going to let this drop.  He knew his friend that well.  Maybe the cryptic message would help him to understand the desperation, but not reveal any clues.  No, he couldn’t pour out his anguished soul to McGarrett.  What if Walter came here and checked for hidden evidence?  Aunt Clara would be dead.  Maybe Steve.  He couldn’t risk it.  Frustrated and torn up with fury, he slammed his fist on the kitchen counter.  He wanted to scream at the agony of the trap!

 

Checking his watch, he knew he was running too thin on time.  He rushed out, and at the street jogged down the narrow residential road that Kalakaua turned into while main traffic curved mauka to connect with Diamond Head Road.  The street dead-ended against Diamond Head at Poni Moi Road, and there was a blue Chevy Malibu.  Checking under the old convertible’s floor mat, he found the key.  Before starting the car, though, he checked the trunk -- usual stuff there -- and glove box with the registration of someone in Waikiki.  Belonging to a friend of Walters maybe?  Or a stolen car?  That would be great! He couldn’t deal with the mystery now.  Jumping in, he started up the engine and drove to Monsarrat, then on to the cemetery.  It was a place he knew well.  Too many friends were buried there, just on the other side of the big, extinct volcano.   

 

 

õõõõõ

 

Steve McGarrett stayed still, holding the phone, for long moments.  Shocked beyond comprehension, he stood his ground for a time before the annoying buzz of a disconnect echoed in his ears.

 

Danno had just resigned. 

 

Numb, he fell back in his chair and stared at the phone as if it was the cause of his turmoil.  What had just happened?  It would have been more comprehensible and less painful if he had been struck with a lightning bolt!  With that thought came the awareness that his astonished incredulity was edged with a piercing hurt.  Resentment built quickly, almost instantly escalating to hot anger. 

 

Danno had done this before -- resigned -- betrayed -- how could he?

 

Taking a deep breath, feeling chilled and ill; completely blindsided, Steve slammed down on the scathing condemnation.  Without emotionally flinching any more, he could look back on the incident of Dan’s publicly humiliating resignation {episode -- PIG IN A BLANKET} with a degree of compassion and even sympathy.  Danno -- loyal and passionate -- had over-reacted to an extreme situation.  The circumstances had been brutal.  And, the apologies sincere, profuse and overwhelming afterwards.

 

There was no such crisis upon them now.  So why -- how -- could this happen out of the blue?  Okay, he exhaled slowly -- getting a firmer grip on his own turbulent emotions -- pushing aside the personal resentment and injured ego --starting to think like a cop again.  There was a reason for this.  Motive.  Opportunity.  Think like a cop.

 

Five-0 was all tied up with the security for the conference.  Other cases had been pushed onto HPD support personnel until the conference was over.  No indication from the current activities that would cause this sudden aberrant behavior from his second-in-command.

 

Feeling a little more grounded and in control, he continued the mental ratiocination.  Remembering Danno’s voice, his friend had sounded thready and strained, very upset  -- highly emotional.  Something was terribly wrong.  Had he been speaking under coercion?  That seemed the only possible answer, but how?  Again, why? 

 

The deductive-reasoning process gave Steve a sense of stability -- that he had constructed a logical/ probable scenario.  It also shot a shiver of fear along his spine.  Then who was forcing Danno to make such a call?  Worse, what were they doing to Williams to push him into such an act?  Harming him?  Threatening him?  What could they hold over his closest friend that would constrain him to resign?

 

Snapping the rotary as he brutally dialed the phone, he called Dan’s home number.  No response.  He switched over to HPD dispatch and ordered that Williams be called on the car radio.  No answer.  Centered now with routine activity, but nerves stinging with anxiety, he launched from the chair and stalked to the secretary’s desk in the outer office.

 

“Malia, what happened today with Danno?”

 

The harsh, nearly shouted command startled the young woman and she caught her breath, eyes wide with surprise.  Steve ignored the reaction and repeated the question.  Slowly, Malia recounted what she could recall of Williams’ activities. 

 

“He had a meeting with a government liaison at the conference center.  I don’t remember the name of the man.  Dan made a lot of phone calls.  Lunch was brought in and he was at his desk most of the day.  Then he met with you at the Ilikai.”  She was thumbing through memos.  “Oh, on the negative side, he didn’t go out to the airport.”

 

Steve was puzzled.  “The airport?  Security there is being handled by Duke.”

 

Malia’s face scrunched into an exasperated expression that told him he had missed something painfully obvious and even embarrassing.  “Not everything is business, Steve,” she sighed with a shake of her head.  “His Aunt Clara caught an earlier flight from the mainland and the airline called to let him know not to come to the airport.  She was going to meet him at his place.”

 

Clara.  Airport.  How could he forget?  Because this kind of personal crisis had a way of washing every other consideration out of his focus.  As he pondered the information, his sixth sense whispered something was wrong.  He didn’t know what, exactly.

 

“Is Duke still at the airport?”

 

“I think so.”

 

“Get him on the phone for me, please.”

 

Now energized with a direction, a possible angle, Steve returned to his office and paced.  Clara arriving early.  The airport pick-up cancelled.  The call -- He stopped.  Why would an airline call to deliver a message about a passenger?  Why didn’t Clara call herself?  And why go to Danno’s apartment?  Clara, allowed to be quirky and have her own way at her age, always insisted on staying at the Hilton Hawaiian in Waikiki.  She made a big deal about not intruding on her nephew at his place.  And enjoying the pampered luxury of the Rainbow Tower.

 

The intercom buzzed and Steve snatched up the phone.  He instructed Duke to check the United Airlines terminal for anyone who might have spotted Clara.  Not sure how to word this without being melodramatic or jumping to conclusions, he appreciated that his detectives needed to know there was something very wrong with their colleague.

 

“Danno’s in some kind of trouble, Duke.  I don’t understand it all, yet, but I will.  It might have something to do with his Aunt Clara.  I want to know exactly what flight she came in on, if she was met by anyone and anything else that might be pertinent.”

 

Practically throwing the phone down he jogged out, pausing only to order Malia to call the Hilton and find out if Clara was there.  On the run again, he yelled over his shoulder that he would be at Danno’s.  Racing to his car, he slammed the big Mercury into gear and screeched out of the parking slot.  All the time, his actions on automatic, his mind working feverishly to mull over the problem. 

 

Traffic was not too bad -- he had missed the quitting-time crush leaving downtown.  Speeding along Nimitz to Ala Moana, then to Kuhio to avoid the heavy congestion on Kalakaua, he had time to think through his actions.  He did not call for back-up.  Why?  It would be the smart thing to do.  Something was terribly amiss with his second-in-command and possibly Aunt Clara.  Shouldn’t he call in the troops?  Instincts told him that would be a bad idea, and he didn’t know why.

 

Coursing through the back of Waikiki, he came up on Kalakaua beyond the main beach attractions and along Kapiolani Park.  There were plenty of people still on the beach, although errant drops of rain were splattering the area.  The dark clouds were moving in fast.  Already the landscape of sand and surf and high-rises was dappled with ominous clouds.  There would be a heavy storm tonight.  Not unusual, but it would keep the tourists inside at the bars and cause more problems for HPD by morning, he assessed automatically.

 

The slots in front of Williams’ building were all filled.  Most residents were home from work now.  Parking illegally in a red zone in front of the apartment, he first dashed to the underground garage.  Both of Williams’ cars -- the Five-0 LTD and the white Mustang -- were there and they looked normal.  No signs of -- of anything unusual -- he mentally detailed.  What was he expecting, a blood trail?  A body?  The hood of the black LTD was faintly warm.  It had been parked for only a little while.

 

Shivering at the gruesome possibilities he may yet encounter, he dashed from the garage and to the elevators, impatiently pacing until the doors opened on the ninth floor.  Jogging to the end apartment overlooking the ocean, he raised a fist to knock, then quickly slipped to the side and tapped the door with his knuckles.  Not knowing what to expect, he held his breath and listened.

 

No sound came from inside.  Knocking two more times elicited no reply.  Drawing his revolver, he carefully tried the knob.  Locked.  He slipped his key in and heard the click, then silently turning the knob, he quickly dashed in, weapon ready. 

 

The apartment was eerily quiet.  It felt empty.  Quickly scanning the rooms, he finally holstered his revolver and stopped when he saw a note on the kitchen counter.  Most devastating of all, atop the piece of paper -- there was the Five-0 gold shield in its leather case.  The badge that signified Williams’ status as his detective.  It had been left behind for Steve to find.  A painful symbol that this enigmatic episode was no joke, but a somber and distressing reality. 

 

Hands shaking with resentment and emotions he couldn't even define, he picked up the note.

 

 

STEVE --

 

PLEASE  STAY  AWAY  FROM  ME  FOR  YOUR  OWN  GOOD.

 

SO  SORRY --

 

D

 

 

Sorry.  Again, the flash of fury blurred everything red, sizzling his emotional response to the crisis; considering this a personal attack.  Stay away from him for his own good!  What did Danno think he was doing?  Burning with bitter offense at the melodramatic and imperious order, McGarrett fumed.

 

Taking a breath, he calmed his wounded ego, reminding there were hidden forces manipulating events.  He didn’t know what those were yet, so he had to give Danno the benefit of the doubt.  While this resignation hurt deeply, more than he wanted to admit, he knew there was provocation.  Something incredibly important and desperate had happened to his friend in the last hour.

 

The warning for his safety, of course, was pure Danno.  Losing the irritation, he was sobered at the obvious message -- and the under lying subtext of the note.  Danno was in a real fix and perceived some kind of -- real or imagined -- threat against McGarrett.  Why?  What had happened?  Whatever it was, it was enough to drive his friend beyond the brink of reason and beyond normal conduct.

 

The vision of Aunt Clara edged into his thoughts and he acknowledged that she seemed the most likely source of motive for this.  He didn’t understand how or why or what.  He did know that there were very few things in this world that would make Dan Williams betray him.  And the sudden resignation WAS a personal betrayal -- Steve could look on it in no other fashion. 

 

Taking a few minutes to make a more detailed search of the condo, he deduced Clara had not been here.  No evidence that Danno had been here except for the note.  Everything was neat according to Williams’ routine.  McGarrett made it a policy -- one of many traits that Danno emulated -- to leave his own apartment cleaned up in the morning since he never knew how long he’d be away or how tired he’d be when he came home.  

 

Checking the bedroom, he realized the lack of a tan suit -- the one Danno was wearing today.  So, he had not changed.  Steve also noted the empty holster on the nightstand.  Unlocking the top drawer, he saw the police .38 was there, but not Dan’s spare .22. 

 

Snapping his fingers, he paced back to the living room and looked around, trying to discern more clues, but coming up empty.  He called the office.  No word from Danno.  Clara never checked in and never cancelled her reservation at the Hilton.  Then Malia patched him through to Duke. 

 

The detective had learned Clara -- easily identified because she always made such an impression -- came in on her originally planned flight this afternoon.  No one from the United courtesy desk called Five-0.  While waiting at the arrival gate, Clara made a big deal about being met by her nephew.  He always brought her an orchid lei.  Three employees at the arrival counter witnessed Clara met by a thin, tall, mustached man.  He wore a sports jacket and dark trousers.  He brought no lei.  He helped her with her carry-on and escorted an obviously disappointed Clara away.

 

At the departure level, a tour group coordinator remembered Clara and her escort claiming luggage.  He remembered her because she stopped him and asked if she could have one of the leis in his hand.  She was such a nice and gabby old lady he gave her a red carnation lei.  Her escort, who seemed anxious and unusually nervous for a tourist arriving in Hawaii, kept encouraging her to stop visiting and move along. 

 

Duke questioned him -- what made him think the guy was a tourist and not a local?

 

The guy was a tourist because he was so pale.  He remembered the two drove off in a small car that didn’t seem fitting for such a nice old lady.

 

“Did you get a decent description of this mystery man?” McGarrett asked.

 

“Yeah.  Haole, tall, thin, like I said, pale.  Thin darkish hair.  Spoke polite and cultured, like he was upper class.  The tour coordinator thought he was too polite to be a cop,” Duke reported with a slightly sour tone.

 

Mystified, Steve thanked Duke and told him to get back to the Palace.  Pacing again, he thought through the strange evidence.  Conclusions so far?   Clara had been tricked into going with a bogus escort.  Kidnapped.  Why?  Danno had no money to speak of.  Clara did, but why would someone nab her here -- why not when she was at home?  Because her nephew was here.  So the motive had something to do with Danno.

 

It was a start, but a depressing, unsettling one that filled him with more anxiety.  Someone, for some reason, was manipulating Danno -- coercing him into resigning for some reason.  That thought actually lightened his heart momentarily in a purely selfish response.  The resignation was not personal.  Of course, it never would be, but in the back of his mind, he must have been worried about that.

 

Far more troublesome, though, there was some nefarious plot afoot that was both dangerous and horrible.  Kidnapping an elderly lady to get to his friend was monstrous.  Who would do such a thing?  Someone who knew Danno, knew how much Clara meant to him?  Personal, maybe?  Revenge?  If so, that would make this so much harder.  Five-0 detectives ran afoul of so many evil miscreants. 

 

How could they narrow it down?  Maybe this ploy was something to throw off Danno and conference security?  Possible. Danno was in charge of double-checking the security at the Ilikai.  Chin was doing transportation.  Duke the airport.  Steve would have HPD focus in on security and he would go over details at the office. 

 

Well, they had a start.  The pale escort with the mustache.  Pale.  Mainland?  Prison?  That would be his next step.  He would call a meeting of Chin and Duke at the Palace and fill them in, let them know they were probably dealing with a kidnapping of Aunt Clara.  The ransom -- forcing Danno into something -- some act or deed contrary to his nature.  He didn’t have all the details worked out, yet, but he knew his friend well enough to put together a pretty accurate supposition.

 

They would drop the irrelevant details about the conference and go full throttle on this kidnapping.  No matter what the motive, he kept at the forefront of his mind the personal impact here.  A dear old lady was at risk.  His best friend was threatened.  He would not allow this unseen danger to harm two people very important to him.

 

 

õõõõõ

 

Overcast and sprinkling with the precursor of more to come, Dan coursed around the gravestones, ignoring the gentle drops showering his face.  Normally not affected by visits to cemeteries, now he was tense and keyed up with anxiety.  What would he find here?  A body?  In a macabre way that might fit his tormentor, but he didn’t think so.  Walter had other, deeper, hate-filled motives in mind.

 

This was way beyond just kidnapping his aunt.  In the short time he had traveled from the apartment to the graveyard, he tried to sort it all out.  He couldn’t.  Not enough evidence.  And the worry about Clara’s safety kept intruding.  The anger of how Walter was using him -- using Clara to get at him -- clouded his judgment.  And the horrible betrayal he had been forced to perpetrate against Steve stuck with him as an underlying pain; as certainly as the strong Hawaiian sun dominated the Islands even through the errant clouds. 

 

Steve.  It would probably not take him long to figure things out.  Then what?  If Steve became involved, it could mean his and Clara’s deaths.   So, in a cosmic balancing act, Dan had to maintain the equilibrium of two opposing forces:   Aunt Clara’s safety and McGarrett’s legendary and tenacious curiosity.  No, more than curious -- his passion for justice.  Steve would be going nuts over this.  He would never let it go, no matter how Dan tried to persuade him.  So, Dan had to stay ahead of the best detective in the Islands.  How was he going to do that?

 

Pausing by a striking white statue, he ignored the pelting, warm rain and surveyed the landscape.  Walter had given no specific instructions.  Where was he supposed to go?  His eyes automatically came to rest on a section of lawn on the other side of a narrow road.  It was an older section.  Long-time local -- rich -- families had ornate and elaborate headstones and statues over there.  It was an area he didn’t visit much.  Not for a long time.  That was where Jane was buried.

 

With a chill, he knew that was where he could find Walter’s message.  Walking rapidly, then breaking into a run, he dashed through the rain, jogging past headstones, until he found the Michaels’ family tombstone.  It was a massive cement structure with the names of grandparents, the father, and Jane. 

 

Running around to the front altar-like marker, he was appalled to see the stone had been smeared with red spray paint.  Over the name of his former girlfriend, were simple words.  The power of the defacing crime, though, was staggering to him and he felt like he had been hit in the chest by a physical blow.

 

“Walter!” he screamed out!

 

Fists clenched he looked around the cemetery, searching for the target of his rage.  The rain increased in intensity, heavy, large drops assailing him, soaking quickly into his suit.  How could the monster defile the grave like this?  Pounding on the cold slab of stone, he sank to his knees, hitting the marker with his fists.

 

The desecration surfaced all kinds of long-hidden emotions he had forgotten - or buried.   The incompleteness of his relationship with Jane.  The fondness he felt for her that had been abruptly severed.  The lasting regret that he never found out how much he really loved her or how far their relationship could have developed.  He wasn’t convinced they would have married -- their affection tempered by the reality that they lived in vastly different worlds.  He felt something for her -- deep and unfulfilled.  Her vicious murder had such a lasting impact it prevented him from getting close enough to any other girl all these years to think about marriage.

 

Years ago, Walter Gregson had murdered Jane Michaels and another girl in an attempt to make the next victim -- his wife -- look like part of a serial killing spree.  It had all been for money.  When Dan saw Jane’s lifeless, strangled body on the floor of the Makaha Country Club, Dan had been devastated.  The following days had been a blur of hatred and hurt.  He had instigated uncharacteristic, angry actions in revenge for her death.  In the end, when he captured Walter, he wanted to kill him.  Some anchoring trace of civilization kept him from stepping over the line to barbarism.  It had stopped him from murdering someone who richly deserved instant death at his hands.  Now, staring at the red paint marring Jane’s gravestone, the old anger returned.  The passion for violence and vengeance exploded inside.  Maybe this time, he would not restrain the desire to kill Walter.  But he would have to find him first.

 

Again, Dan read the words issuing the next ultimatum.  He felt like a puppet on a string.  There was, however, no choice.  He had to dance to Walter’s tune until he found Clara.  Angry at the despoiling of the tomb, at his own helplessness, he tried to rub away the paint.  It was already dried, and he finally gave up, tiredly pushing to his feet in an unsteady stance, staring that the tombstone.

 

Find Sally

 

Sally Gregson, now returned to using her maiden name, Clark. Sally had been so grateful Dan had saved her life.  But, always, between them was the uncomfortable knowledge that her husband had murdered their mutual friend.  After the trial and a few kind notes, Sally slipped back to her world of the rich and elite of Oahu society.  And Williams stayed in his world of Five-0. 

 

Last he heard, Sally had closed up the big family estate in Kahala and was living somewhere else.  His police contacts would make it easy to trace her.  Except he had just resigned.  He was no longer a cop.  But few would know that.  The resignation was hardly something Steve would broadcast.

 

Jogging through the soppy cemetery, he conceded it was probably raining heavy enough to put the top up on the car.  Not something he did with his Mustang.  After all, owning a convertible in Hawaii -- one of the greatest pleasures of freedom was driving with the top down in a tropical rain storm.  Today, he was not in the mood for the exhilarating mode of travel.  And right now this storm was getting uncomfortably intense.

 

The Chevy had an electric top and after a few tries he realized it was not working.  It led him to wonder, as he cruised through the cemetery, where Walter got the car.   Well, if Walter wanted him to be anonymous, it wasn’t going to help to have him driving around in the rain with the top down.  Sure, he did that a lot in the Mustang, but not in a downpour like this.

 

Disturbed that he would attract unwanted attention, he turned onto Diamond Head Road, automatically heading for Kahala.  Dan had to keep one step ahead of McGarrett, and not leave a trail for Steve to follow.  How was he going to manage?

 

Traffic coming south was heavy -- people returning to Waikiki and Honolulu after a day at the windward beaches.  He soon turned off to the less traveled Kalaha Avenue, a street he knew well.  He had grown up in this area.  His uncle had rented a small place from the Kulanis just up the road.

 

Turning onto Black Point, he cruised to one of the houses with wide lots on the expensive beach property.   The old house did look closed.  Parking just down the street, he walked to the yard, through a low wrought iron gate, to the double front doors.  Knocking several times, he took the lava stone path to the back.

 

Walter probably would have tried Sally’s place already -- maybe not, he reevaluated.  Walter would be known by neighbors and staff at the big house.  Was that why he needed Dan -- to be his eyes and legs and hunt down Sally for him.  To kill her? 

 

Walter harbored enough hate to want Sally dead.  And him, too.  Dan sensed, however, something deeper and more sinister.  This was too elaborate for just revenge killings.  Money?  That would be typical.  He had murdered Jane for money.

 

The gardens and lawns were still in perfect order.  The pool pristine and sparkling, the blue water rippling in moving circles as the rain bombarded the surface.  Knocking on a glass door at the back, there was no response.  He did note, however, the lock on the sliding door was broken.  So, Walter had been here already.  And found nothing?  Then why send him here?

 

Working on instinct, he entered the house.  It was a spacious place with lots of glass on this side, overlooking the million-dollar-plus view of the private beach.  Memory of the lay-out filtered back in and he made his way to the study.  Sure enough, it looked like someone had trashed the place.

 

The phone rang and he jumped.  By the second ring, he regained his breath and realized it must be Walter.  Angry, he snatched it up in the middle of the third ring.

 

“Yes?”

 

“So, you know how to follow clues, Danny.  That’s good.  For your aunt.”

 

“Let me talk to her.”

 

“Not yet.  You still have to prove you’re worth something to me.  If you’re not, then neither is your aunt.”

 

Livid, the anxiety for Clara could no longer restrain the bubbling emotions of hatred for the fiend on the other end of the line.  “Leave her alone, you monster!  How could you do that to Jane’s grave?”

 

“To remind you what I’m capable of doing, Danny,” came the vicious reply.  “So you better do exactly what I say or what happened to poor little Jane can happen to your aunt!  Are you ready to cooperate?  Convince me that you are ready for your next instructions, Danny.”

 

Shaking with rage, he struggled with control of his voice, of his temper.  Hating what Walter had done to Jane’s grave, he knew it was impractical to dwell on the minor crime.  He could blow the whole set up right now if he wasn’t very careful.  Reminding himself that two precious lives were on the line here -- and he was the only one keeping them safe -- he took a breath, convincing himself to cooperate.  Everything he did right was one step closer to finding Clara and ending this nightmare.  As despicable as it was to be controlled by Walter, there was no choice.  For now.

 

“What do you want?”

 

“You’re a detective, can’t you figure that out you idiot?”

 

“Sally.  Okay.  Why didn’t you just come out of prison and get a phone book!”

 

“Do you think it’s going to be so funny when I retaliate on this little old lady --“

 

“Don’t you touch her, Walter!

 

“Then listen up, Danny.  You find Sally.  But first, you’ll find a bank book in the safe.  Take it to the Kahala branch of the Bank of Hawaii.  They will still be open if you hurry.  Withdraw money from Sally’s account --“

 

“I can’t do that!”

 

“You can and you will!  In the safe is a manila envelope.  It gives you power of attorney over Sally’s financial holdings --“

 

“Are you nuts!

 

“Read the letter, Danny.  Get out the money!  Follow the instructions completely, to the letter, or this is the end of the line for your aunt!”

 

The phone went dead and Williams stewed for a moment, frustrated at the predicament.  Contrary to all negotiations, he was playing along without proof the victim was still alive.  He had no choice.  This was not like any other Five-0 case.  This was Aunt Clara in danger.  What if she was already dead and he went along with the plans -- playing Walter’s game like a puppet?  Well, if he hurt Clara at all, Walter was already dead.  If Dan had to give up his life to exact the necessary justice, Walter was already dead for this.

 

Stepping to the wall safe that was slightly open, he found the envelope.  Inside was a document, supposedly sighed by Sally, designating Dan as her legal representative to withdraw -- two million in a bank check!  Was Walter nuts?  Obviously still a master forger -- he had forged checks of Sally’s when they were married.  So why didn’t Walter just do all of this today and skip to Rio on a night flight?  No one would have known for months.

 

The revenge?  He wanted Dan to find Sally.  So Gregson couldn’t.  Then what?  Murder them all?  That would be the only way out.

 

Reading on, Dan nearly choked when he learned he was to go to -- Hanauma Bay.  Where Walter had been apprehended.  What then?  Hand over the money?  Find Aunt Clara’s body?

 

Groaning, he stared out the rear doors and at the grey columns of rain streaming from the dark clouds over Kahala.  He wanted so badly to call Steve, to ask for help.  His hand still on the phone, he restrained the desire.  So much he needed Steve’s clarity of logic and more, the stalwart support he could always count on in any crisis. 

 

Not any more.  Thanks to Walter he had burned bridges he might never be able to repair.  Steve might forgive him, but maybe not.  Resigning again had to have hurt Steve terribly.  Now the added charges accumulating might prevent him from wanting Dan back on the team.  So far, Dan was driving a possibly stolen car.  It looked like he was a party to breaking and entering and vandalism.  Now embezzlement.  Because he would take the fall, not Walter -- all the evidence would point to him.  Then what -- find Sally?  Kidnap her and then they would all be murdered?

 

How was he going to prove his coercion to the crimes?  Only if Aunt Clara lived.  And that wouldn’t happen if he didn’t cooperate.  He had to have a plan!  A back up ploy to ensure their safety.  What?  If only Steve was here, he would know what to do.  Once more staring at the phone, longing to call for help, he walked back to the rear lanai and in the drenching rain made his way back to the now soppy Malibu.

 

Wondering if Walter was following him, or keeping tabs in some way, he thought about searching the car for a homing device.  Walter had called him at Sally’s house.  But was that a lucky guess or surveillance?  For all he knew Walter was just playing him for a fool, and he had been a sucker to give in, but he couldn’t risk any resistance.  As long as Clara was captive, he would play out any game he needed to and deal with Gregson when they met face to face.

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

Finally deciding an APB was the only option, McGarrett issued an order for all units to locate, but not detain Williams.  It was an unusual order, but if he could get a trace on Danno maybe he could catch up to him and get some answers.

 

The low, dark clouds obscured the brilliant colors of the vibrant, on-coming Hawaiian twilight.  When McGarrett dashed into the Palace from the driving rain, he jogged up the stairs to his office, thinking out his next move.

 

The secretaries had gone home, but Chin and Duke were both there.  Succinctly, he outlined the weird happenings of the afternoon and offered his theory on the motivations.  He guessed that Clara Williams had been kidnapped and Dan was dealing with the situation all by himself.  Why?  Probably under threat of the kidnapper.  What the criminals wanted was still unclear.

 

Steve’s motives were completely obvious.  First, he wanted to find Danno and help him.  Then, find Clara.  The phone rang, not his private line, he saw from the flashing light, and asked Duke to answer it.  He continued to discuss the situation with Chin.  When a perplexed Lukela hung up, his expression caught the boss’ attention.

 

“APB on Danny.  Charlie Kiule and Donny Chow just spotted Danny.”  He looked at Chin and back at McGarrett, as if not sure how to report the strange message.  “Danny was driving an old blue convertible with the top down in the pouring rain!  Easy to remember.  Wonder why he’s so conspicuous if he doesn’t want anyone to find him?”

 

Chin smirked.  “Donny’s probably wondering what Danny did with the Mustang.”

 

Chow was a known car aficionado.  He and Williams frequently engaged in friendly sparring matches about cars.  Chow had a standing offer to buy Williams’ Mustang.  To McGarrett, he snagged on the more important relevance.  They had Danno fixed in a different car.  And a location.

 

“Where?”

 

“Out on Diamond Head Road and 18th.  He was just entering Oahu Cemetery.”

 

The implication sounded ominous, but McGarrett couldn’t dwell on the symbolism.  “Why didn’t they tail him?”

 

“It was before they heard the APB.”

 

McGarrett was already heading for the door.  “Come on.”

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

This branch of the Bank of Hawaii was open late on Wednesday because of a promotional tie-in with the nearby Kahala Mall.  Arriving well before closing, Williams presented his letter of recommendation to an assistant manager who did not know him.  The manager, Thomas Tanaka knew both McGarrett and Williams, so this was a lucky break.  Tanaka might get suspicious, but the assistant wouldn’t.

 

Hoping his nervousness didn’t show, he presented his papers and waited.  He must have looked a terrible sight -- light suit dark with spots and strips of damp from the rain.  Hair sodden.  He was lucky they didn’t call for a cop!  Unfortunately, the assistant would not handle this herself.  She needed the manager’s approval.  Dan would have to come back at closing. 

 

Outside, he stood under the overhang of the unique, circular building.  Relieved this extortion did not work, he was disturbed that he had no ransom.  The severity of his crime was just sinking in, also.  Fear for Clara’s safety had insulated him so far from bleeding too much about consequences.  Now, he couldn’t keep the guilt from pounding at his conscience. 

 

He was betraying Steve, breaking laws, going against his morals and the things he stood for as a cop and person.  This was going to catch up to him at some point and it would be bad.  No matter how he looked at it, this was a horrible mess.  Hesitant, not wanting to go on, but knowing he must, he stepped out into the rain again, heading for the car he was learning to loath.  Why couldn’t Walter have let him bring the Mustang?

 

He had to meet Walter at Hanauma without the money.  He couldn’t afford to hang out at the bank, or go strolling around the mall until closing.  The plan was not working.  He would explain it to Walter, see Clara in person, and they could move on to another plan.

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

Gloomy, rainy and humid.  It seemed fitting weather for the strange errand of visiting a cemetery.  No sign of the blue convertible, so Williams must have already left!  Sourly, Steve retrieved umbrellas from the trunk and distributed them to his guys.  He suggested they fan out, find a grounds keeper and see if anyone had spotted Williams and then discover why Danno had been here.

 

Old friends and colleagues were buried here.  He didn’t bother to visit the grave sites.  His attention was focused on a pressing and urgent case.  Chin waving to him drew his attention and he briskly walked over to a well-kept section of the cemetery.  Elaborate and costly monuments marked dynasties of old family plots. 

 

“The keeper wonders if we’re here because of the vandalism.”

 

McGarrett dismissed it instantly.  “No.  Did you give him Danno’s description?”  He zeroed in on the thin Japanese gentleman and wondered if there would be a language barrier.

 

The man proved that incorrect when he adamantly shook his head.  “Somebody should do something.  This is wrong.”  He pointed to the far corner of the cemetery.  “The young man was very upset.”

 

McGarrett grabbed the worker by the arm.  “What young man?”

 

“He was here, not long ago.  At the grave.  Very upset.  Falling down upset.”

 

Steve’s tone was hard and intent.  “Falling down?  Was he hurt?”

 

“Maybe,” the man shrugged uncertainly.  “Hurt inside for sure.  Seen a lot of that here.  Fell against the big tomb.”

 

“What did he look like?” 

 

The intensity and urgency startled the man, who took a step back from the imposing and intimidating chief of Five-0.

 

“Young man.  Curly, light, hair.  Haole.  Stood in the rain, didn’t care if he was soaking wet.  Upset.  Pounded on the gravestone.  Yelled, but I couldn’t hear the words.”

 

Cringing, Steve urged the man to show them the vandalism, his nerves tight with disturbance.  Danno had been here.  Very unsettled.  What was it?  Not a body.  Thankfully. 

 

The man walked them over to study the scene of the crime.  The red paint was a glaring insult to the somber setting.  Despite the lack of respect for the dead, the message snagged at his thoughts. 

 

“Find Sally,” he whispered.

 

Scrawled across the name of Jane Michaels.  It hit him at the same instant Chin made the connection.  They looked at each other in shock.  The macabre message and marring paint was disgusting and disturbing.

 

“Jane,” he said quietly.  “Danno’s old girlfriend.”

 

“And Sally?”

 

“Walter Gregson’s wife.”

 

Tearing out at a run, McGarrett raced back to his car, not bothering about the umbrella or the rain.  Leaping into the seat, he grabbed the mic and asked for HPD to run an address check on Sally Gregson. 

 

Jane.  It had been a long time since he had thought of Danno’s murdered girlfriend.  Wiping drops of rain from his face reminded him of the anguished tears shed for Miss Michaels.  So clearly, he remembered the utterly agonizing ordeal when Danno had walked in on the crime scene and observed the girl he loved dead.  Steve audibly groaned recalling the horrible moments of running after the grief-stricken Williams and holding onto his weeping friend as Danno trembled with uncontrollable sobs.  The subsequent and necessary actions of getting Williams home and watching his friend struggle to reset to a normal appearance when he was devastated inside, were still a painful memory.

 

The following days of the difficult investigation when Williams nearly killed a suspect -- the contrite apologies and the resignation . . . .  He had forgotten that after beating a suspect, Danno had turned in his resignation.  That Steve did not acknowledge then.  Or now.

 

With a sharp intake of breath, Steve winced at the full-circle strangeness of events.  Resignation.  Jane.  What did it all mean?  Only Danno could answer that.  No, his friend would not, could not now.  So, Steve would have to find the answers for himself.

 

Aching for his friend, he wanted to find Danno more than ever.  To offer consolation and support at a time when Williams needed it so badly.  From the description of the caretaker, Danno was suffering over this.  Of course he was.  Beyond the terror hanging over Clara’s head, Danno was reliving the pain of Jane’s murder.  Living through this current crisis knowing full well what a monster -- a cold-blooded-killing monster he was dealing with in Gregson.

 

It made Steve sick thinking about what Danno was going through for the tortured past --- for the agonizing present -- for the unknown future.  Heart pounding, he watched Chin and Duke hurrying to join him.

 

“The gardener says the haole who looked like Danny drove a blue convertible with the top down.”

 

McGarrett started the engine and the others jumped in barely before the car rolled.  Explaining the connection with Williams and the tombstone, McGarrett headed toward Kahala.  He remembered Sally Gregson had a house out there.  HPD dispatch returned the call, saying they had no listing for a Sally Gregson.  Knowing she must have changed her name, he continued heading for the exclusive neighborhood while the detectives strained to remember details of the years-old case.  Duke was not even on the team then, and hardly remembered it.

 

Then he had the switchboard find out if Walter Gregson was still in prison, and if not, why.

 

Dispatch called back, giving the maiden name and the address of Sally Clark, formerly Gregson, on Oahu, as well as her address in Maui.  Only minutes later, McGarrett pulled up at the Kahala house.  After impatiently pounding on the front door, the three went around back and discovered the broken lock on the glass door, then the vandalized study.  McGarrett sent Duke out to radio for a crime lab team while he carefully picked through some papers.

 

When Duke returned, he reported Dispatch called back.  Gregson was released on parole three days ago.

 

“And nobody at corrections thought to tell us?” he exploded.  “What is wrong with those people?  We’re supposed to be notified when personal case criminals are up for parole! Get on the radio and get HPD working on this.  Get the parole officer.  Find out where Gregson is staying, what he’s been doing, who he’s seen.  This is top priority!”

 

“More important than the conference --“

 

“Yes!” he barked without thinking.  “Yes.  Preparations for the conference are rolling smoothly.  This is life-or-death for Clara Williams and maybe Danno, too!  Right now -- tonight -- this is our only priority!”

 

Grimacing, Duke continued with the bad news.  “Also talked to a neighbor next door who said there’s been a lot of traffic at this place considering Sally Clark has gone to Maui.  Two days ago, a thin man with dark hair and a mustache came by.  Less than an hour ago a young man with sandy hair, dressed in a tan suit, parked his old, blue convertible down the street and walked into this back yard.”

 

“Danno.  Well, at least we’re on his trail,” he mused as he continued shuffling through the papers.  “Duke, get Maui PD on the line and tell them to issue protection to Sally Clark.”

 

Kelly joined him.  “No cash,” Chin assessed as he studied the contents of the safe.  “But there’s a few bank books - look like they’ve been messed with.  The folders are on the floor and the books look haphazardly thrown into the safe.”

 

“Maybe Gregson was mad about all the money his ex-wife has accumulated since their divorce.”  He glanced at the evidence.  “Bank of Hawaii.  Maybe he’s going to try a withdrawal.”

 

“Kahala Branch.”

 

With a sigh, McGarrett suggested they head over to the nearby mall bank.  They probably already missed Danno and/or Walter, but it seemed to be the next clue in this bizarre fox-and-hound game he was playing with his best friend.  He always ended up one-step behind Williams.  If only Danno would stop and think things through -- trust him enough to let him help. Truthfully, he knew if their positions were reversed, Steve would do anything to save his friend and nothing to endanger the life most important to him.

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

The parking lot was empty as Dan pulled into the familiar area above Hanauma Bay.  After a day of blistering sun burns, most tourists were gone, fleeing from the tropical rain now assailing the undersea natural wonder.  The snorkelers and swimmers had packed up.  No one wanted to be hanging around the beach on a rainy day.   He had the place to himself.

 

Where was he supposed to go now?  Again, no specific instructions, but the vague notion that Walter was leading him by the nose.  Making him backtrack to those events years before when their lives had changed.  Standing at the rock wall, overlooking the cloudy bay and the multi-hued water filled with coral and marine life, he couldn’t help but look down the nearby dirt path.  The spot where he had captured Walter and nearly killed the man.  If only he had followed through that bright, hot day.  Aunt Clara wouldn’t be suffering now, Steve wouldn’t be threatened, all because of his hesitation.

 

There was no sign of Walter or Clara, but he did spot something under a lava rock just to the side of the parking lot.  It was another manila envelope.  He opened it and scowled.  The contents were smeared from the rain.  Brilliant Walter had not taken into account the storm.  That meant this was all planned far ahead of time.  It didn’t prove he was not under observation.  It didn’t mean Clara was alive.  He pushed aside the grim doubt.  Standing under a tree that afforded thin protection from the downpour, he read the cryptic instructions:

 

 

Trade Sally and money for your aunt. 

Meet me at DH

8PM.

 

Another game.  Another deadline.  He really hated Walter.

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

As he waited to talk to the manager, Samuel Akaka, McGarrett paced in the small office and looked through the windows at the small bank.  The trail so far was disturbing.  Walter was obviously after Danno.  The cemetery bit was sick.  What else would the ex-con do to exact revenge against Sally and Danno -- two people he obviously hated?

 

Akaka and a woman named Pritchard joined him.  They reported the unusual event of Williams coming in for Ms. Clark’s money.  Two million!  The amount was staggering, but Steve was more focused on the news of Danno being the mule for Gregson.  When he learned Williams was coming back for the money, his heart swelled with relief.  Finally, he was one-step ahead of Danno.  It was not easy outsmarting someone he had trained all too well.  Now, the chase would be over!  He would convince Danno to let him help and they would both find Clara and save her life.

 

The darkness now advancing with the thick clouds and the oncoming tropical sunset, the bank staff went through the motions of closing up.  Steve ordered Duke to move the Mercury away from the front of the bank and ordered his detectives to stick with HPD back up in unmarked cars for a possible tail set-up.  He wasn’t really sure what to expect, but wanted to be ready for multiple possibilities.

 

“Steve, Chin.  Duke and I are in position on the street.  Looks like the blue convertible coming our way.”

 

“Hold tight, gentlemen.  We don’t want to spook him.”

 

“What do you think he’s going to do if he sees us?”

 

“Let’s not find out,” McGarrett tersely reasoned.

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

Just before closing time, Dan sped into the bank parking lot.  There were still a few cars in front and instinctively he felt it would be too conspicuous to pull up by the doors.  Cruising for a slot, he grew unaccountably nervous  . . . . 

 

At the nearby mall that backed to the bank, there were vehicles parked near the service alley.  Sedans - Unmarked cars?  From this distance, he could see people sitting in the cars.  Too far to distinguish identities, but near enough to see the silhouettes through the dim lighting and the rain. His instincts told him it was a set up.  How could they know? He didn’t know!  Steve!  Was Steve onto him?  How?  He checked around as he drove past the bank and along the side of the mall.  Under the trees at the back -- was that Steve’s Mercury?  Did he go into the bank and find out?  If Steve was there, he was trapped.  If Walter were watching he would know it was a trap, and see Dan nabbed by McGarrett.

 

He couldn’t go to the meet without the money.  He didn’t have Sally, so he couldn’t go without the payment.  Could he risk capture?

 

Part of him longed for Steve to prove to be better and smarter than him.  A part of his conscience and heart longed to surrender this burden to his friend.  To let Steve handle this mess and be relieved of the terrible weight of his aunt’s life so literally in his hands.

 

There was no question he would take the risk of meeting Walter empty handed.  The alternative was unnecessary  danger to McGarrett.  As much as he needed the support and comfort of his closest friend, he could not give in to the desire to let Steve take over.  Agonizing as he pulled away from the bank and around the mall, he pondered his next move.  Going to the meet empty handed was better than being stopped by Steve.  If Walter saw him anywhere near McGarrett then Clara and Steve were both dead.

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

“It's Danny.  He’s just passed the bank,” Duke reported.  “Now he’s driving slow, going toward the mall.”

 

His subject was out of his line of sight now, so Steve had to rely on the others for visual reports.  Cautiously, he stepped away from the counter and crouched behind a desk to get a view of the blue car.  The convertible was closing in on the mall, away from the bank.

 

“Did he spot you?” Steve almost accused.

 

“No -- uh-oh, he’s cruising away -- maybe he’s going to turn around.”

 

Mad enough to chew nails, McGarrett watched from a concealed spot in the bank as Williams cruised completely past the building, past the mall, and out onto the street. 

 

“Don’t let him get away!”  Walkie-talkie in hand, he raced outside and ordered the unmarked units to follow Williams as he raced for his car.  Chin and Duke, already in a sedan, were in pursuit.

 

He’s heading makai,” Kelly reported.

 

“Don’t lose him!”  Steve jumped into his car and screeched out of the parking lot to join the chase.  “Street?” Steve yelled, still communicating on the hand-set.

 

“He’s just turned Ewa on Kahala.”

 

“Don’t lose him!”

 

Two other units joined the chase and McGarrett kept a tight rein on the progress as he raced through the wet streets in the closing dusk.  Drizzly rain still splashed the windshield as he swept through residential neighborhoods scanning for the blue car.

 

“Chin, do you see him?”

 

Steve thought he spotted the car, but charging around the corner, was disappointed to see it was a blue sedan, not a convertible.

 

“No, thought we had him, but no sign of him now.”

 

“Where is he?”

 

Several reports cracked across the radio, all negative.  No sign of Williams.

 

“McGarrett, this is Unit Two.”

 

“Go ahead, Unit Two.”

 

“Subject heading into Kapahulu district --“

 

“On my way!” McGarrett answered, screeching around the next corner and heading on the other side of Diamond Head.

 

By the time he reached Kilauea Avenue near the hospital, Unit Two, Chin and Duke had converged.  McGarrett slammed the big Mercury to a halt and exited the car, stalking toward his officers in angry strides.

 

“You lost him?” he didn’t even have to ask.  The chagrin was clear on their expressions.

 

“Gave us the slip, boss,” Chin was the one to make the excuse.

 

McGarrett hit the fender of the LTD.  He returned to his car and kicked the tire.  “Did anyone manage to get a license plate number?” he growled to no one in particular.

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

Turning onto the street, Williams sped away, ditching into several Kahala residential streets, cutting through Kapahulu, winding his way back to Ala Wai Boulevard and the thickest of the Waikiki traffic to avoid the tails that were probably coming after him.  It was risky to drive through the back of Waikiki where there were numerous HPD patrols.  Maybe he wouldn’t be spotted, he hoped.

 

Deciding he was too conspicuous, and thinking this was the last thing Steve would expect, he returned to his street and left the Malibu parked at the end of Kalakaua, almost where he had picked it up.  Via a route through a narrow, residential beach access, he got to the nearest sandy strip of beach and jogged along the surf to his apartment building.   If the place were staked-out they would probably not be watching the makai side.

 

He could change cars and temporarily confuse McGarrett, but that still left him without the two-part ransom.  What was he going to do about that?  A question he still had no solution for.

 

Dashing up to his apartment, he risked making a call to Detective Nephi Hilton, an ally at HPD.  Stymied in other directions, maybe Dan could make progress with one angle.  At least enough to stall Walter from hurting Clara.  He was hoping no one at HPD knew about his resignation.  That was not something Steve would advertise, certainly, so maybe he was safe. 

 

As he finished dialing he thought of the plainclothes surveillance at the bank.  Steve had already called in help.  How much did they know?  Was Dan a fugitive?  He was about to find out.  As he listened to the rings he glanced at the kitchen counter.  The note was still there, but looked like it had been crumpled up.  By an angry boss?   Steve had been here.  Concentrating, he closed his eyes, detecting the faint trace of McGarrett’s distinctive aftershave.  So, as expected, the top detective had been here, seen the note and successfully followed his trail.  Guess that proved who was the better detective.  Steve was right behind him.  Well, he had to improve or Clara was dead, maybe Steve.

 

“Sergeant Hilton.”

 

Dan was jolted from his reverie.  “Hey, Nephi, this is Dan Williams.  I need you to do an address check for me,” he rushed out.  “I’m looking for Sally Clark.  I’m thinking she’s on Maui, but I’m not sure.”

 

“Uh -- okay, Dan.”

 

Nephi and Dan went back a long time.  Dan bought the Mustang from his big, genial friend.  Hilton would have been a prime candidate for Five-0 except he had made it clear on several occasions he thought his family life more important than Five-0.  An attitude that McGarrett accepted with complete understanding.  Officer Hilton was a stellar cop and painfully honest.  From the odd reaction he was getting, he guessed Nephi knew something fishy was going on.  Should Dan press the issue or let it drop?  The thought of meeting Walter empty handed pushed him to accept the risk.

 

“Yeah, can you run that down for me?”

 

“Sure, but it will take a little time.  Do you want to hold on?”

 

“No,” he snapped out.  “I -- I’ll call -- I’ll call back.”

 

Slamming down the phone he grabbed his car keys and left quickly.  Was Nephi going to run a trace on him?  Report to McGarrett about the call?  What was he going to do now?  Get out of here for sure, he knew.  After that?  Man, he needed to think.  To find a way out of this terrible trap and use his brains.  There was probably a way to outsmart Walter, but he was too keyed up to find it.  Steve could -- but Steve couldn’t help him.  He was in this on his own and he had never felt so alone, so in need of McGarrett’s help as now.

 

On the exterior walkway, he nearly ran down Mr. Turner, who was exiting his apartment.

 

“Oh, Danny, is your wonderful aunt here yet?” he asked brightly.  He looked around.  “I expected her --“

 

“No, not yet.  Change of plans.” he replied hastily, savagely punching the elevator button to get the car to their floor. 

 

“You be sure to tell her I’m inviting her to lunch when she arrives.  And tell her I’ll show her the article about you two in the paper when she comes.”

 

The elevator doors opened and both stepped in.  Dan slammed the button for ground level. 

 

“I’ll tell her,” he absently promised.

 

When he reached the lobby, he raced to the garage.  He drove out in the LTD, carefully checking to make sure he was not followed, hoping there wasn’t an APB out on the company car.  To be sure, he monitored the police channels, discovering that there was indeed an APB out on him -- locate not pick up -- but not the LTD.  Okay, that gave him a temporary edge.  It wouldn’t take long for the wily hound chasing him to figure out the switch.  By then Dan would have to come up with another plan.

 

Was Steve having the apartment watched?  Dusk now, two headlights pulled into sight in his rearview mirror.  A tail!  If he wasn’t more careful, he was going to get Clara killed, he agonized as he headed for Kahala Avenue.  How was he going to make it to the meet with Walter and Clara?

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

Fuming, McGarrett reissued the APB on Williams, barely restraining from a pick-up order.  He had to trust Danno on this -- that there was a reason for the fugitive behavior.  Why the elaborate chase?  Why couldn’t Danno just come and talk to him?  He had to know Five-0 was on his tail.  Did the kidnapper warn to stay away from the police?  Is that why Dan felt compelled to resign?  Then Steve’s actions -- his overt chase and the set-up at the bank -- might have endangered Clara and Dan.  That was an unpleasant thought he didn’t dwell on for long.  His impatient and aggressive need for answers might have been the worst possible choice.  He had to believe he was doing the right thing, though, in trying to find and help Dan.  He clung to that thought, convincing himself this was right.

 

Aimlessly cruising the Kahala neighborhoods for a brief time, he returned to the bank with his detectives.  They were to interview the manager for any other insight into this mystery.  Staying in the car, he radioed HPD and asked for an update on Sally Clark.  He learned she was under protection in Maui and had not seen nor heard from her ex-husband, or Williams. 

 

It was dark now and the rain was steadily pounding the roof of the car.  McGarrett pondered his next step.  The radio buzzed and he responded to a call from Officer Hilton.  When the sergeant reported his conversation with Williams, Steve asked if the call had been traced.  Hilton had indeed thought to do that because of the APB out on Williams.  He asked why there was an APB out on a Five-0 officer, and McGarrett declined to give out details. 

 

“What about the trace?” he demanded.

 

“Wasn’t on the phone long enough, but it was from the Waikiki area.  He did say he would call back to get the info.”

 

Steve’s pulse raced with hope.  “Okay,” he almost shouted.  “Okay, Sergeant, I want you to have the switchboard route any calls from him to my car, you got that?”

 

“Yes, sir.”

 

“And run a trace the second Danno calls you.  Mahalo,” McGarrett tersely thanked, then clicked off. 

 

Waikiki.  Might as well be on the moon for all the chance they had of tracking one person in the thousands in the center of tourist activity for the state.  The radio buzzed again and he snapped it up.

 

“McGarrett.”

 

“Mr. McGarrett, this is Officer Matsua.  Somebody just left Danny’s apartment building driving the Five-0 LTD.  We’re in pursuit on Kahala Avenue heading Koko Head.”

 

“I’m on my way!” Steve shouted, throwing the mic down and revving the car to life.

 

Energized with the closeness of his prey, with the tingle of excitement that he could finally bring this all to a close, he raced through the night streets slick with rain.  Windshield wipers slapping, he drove more recklessly than he should have, but urgency and tension lent weight to his foot and threw caution out the window.

 

The chase progressed to Kalanianaole Highway.  Matsua reported Williams tried to ditch them several times -- succeeded once -- but could not quite shake them.  McGarrett was just a minute or two behind them.

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

Well, obviously whoever his counterparts were in the sedan, they were good.  Or he was rusty at street racing, Dan bitterly mused as he flew along Kalani Highway.  Coming up on a signal, he made a fast left on the yellow light and screamed into the parking lot of a grocery store. 

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

Matsua reported Williams had pulled into the parking lot of a grocery store.  Whoever was in the LTD -- they didn’t get a good look because of the distance -- had run into the store.  Instructions?

 

Screeching through a final intersection and almost upon them, Steve ordered them to stand clear and just observe the store.  He did not want HPD men hassling Danno. This was a personal matter.  HE could approach, he could break the rules, but he didn’t want others intruding on what to him was a delicate operation.  Clara’s life was at stake, he was sure.  Maybe his.  Maybe Danno’s.  He wasn’t going to let anyone else take control.  This had come down to a private contest between him and his friend.  A challenge -- to connect with his friend, to get answers and help finish the perilous game.

 

õõõõõ

 

 

Running in, Williams found an empty aisle and slowed to a walk, purposely making his way to the back.  He didn’t have a plan.  Not for any of this.  Maybe that was where he was falling apart.  That was one reason why Steve was outclassing him at every step so far.  Steve always had a plan.

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

Slamming the car to a rocking halt, McGarrett jumped out and paused at Matsua’s car only long enough to find out Dan -- or the guy in the light suit -- was still in the store.  Trying to restrain his racing heart and the fiery anticipation of the coming confrontation, McGarrett jogged into the store.

 

 

õõõõõ

 

Knowing he could never outsmart his boss, Dan knew he had to improve on his methods, though, or he was going to get captured.  Slipping through the stock-room doors for employees only, Dan coursed through the stacked boxes to the far wall of the stockroom.  At this hour, there were no deliveries or anyone back here.  It gave him some breathing space and time to think.  Pacing, he felt trapped.  It was only a matter of time before the hounds spotted his car.  Then they would be here.  He stalked back to the storeroom doors and looked through.  There was McGarrett!  In the store!

 

Again, the nearly overwhelming desire to surrender almost pushed him to reveal his position.  If only he could give up and give in.  He couldn’t do that to Clara, he sighed, biting his lip against the temptation to call out to his friend.

 

õõõõõ

 

 

Riddled with tense expectancy, Steve charged through the store with purposeful strides, checking aisle after aisle in search of his prey.  Nothing so far in the big store, and his frustration was growing with each negative point of the hunt.

 

At the last aisle, he stopped a young kid stocking the shelves.  Proffering his badge -- nearly impressing the youth beyond speech -- he described Williams and asked if the young man had spotted him.  The employee reported he saw a light-haired man who was soaking wet go into the back storeroom. 

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

Dan leaned his head against the door, desperate, feverishly trying to think.  What was he going to do?  He glanced back through the window, appalled that Steve was just down the aisle talking to a clerk!

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

 

McGarrett automatically glanced toward the back door and gasped.  Danno was watching him through the window of the storeroom door!  They stared at each other for a moment, then the frozen shock was broken and Williams disappeared.  Steve broke into a dead run, dashed through the storeroom entrance, catching a glimpse of Williams at the rear exit near the loading dock.

  

“Danno!  Stop!”

 

Williams hesitated, only an instant.  In the light spilling from the open door, his face was white with surprise and distress.  Then he disappeared to the pouring rain outside. 

 

Racing, Steve dodged around palates of cereal and boxes of canned goods and pushed open the back doors leading to the outdoor freight bay.  He slammed the door against the brick wall as he sailed through.  Looking in both directions, he saw no one. 

 

He set out in a furious run.   Picking a direction, he ran to the end of the building.  When he reached the corner there was no sign of his friend.  The alley opened to a street siding the grocery store.  Just one house away, there was another street.  On the other side of the store was the parking lot and the small line of other shops.  Which way had he gone?  So close! He distressed in agonizing frustration.

 

“Danno!  Danno!”  he muttered under his breath.  “What am I going to do with you?”

 

Stymied, knowing each second played against him in this wily game of hide and seek, he dashed back toward the parking lot.  It would be hopeless for him to search the neighborhood behind him on foot.  And why would Danno go there anyway?  He must have doubled-back to where there were cars and an avenue of escape.

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

A yellow city bus pulled up to the curb just as Williams rounded the corner from the alley.  Steve would be on top of him in a moment.  While Dan was fast, Steve’s longer legs and tenacity might prove the winning edge.  Dan ran onto the bus without thinking.  Above the windshield, he had noted the destination -- Koko Marina.  Rushing aboard, he fished out change, tossed it in the receptacle and took a seat at the far side of the bus. 

 

Sinking low, he nervously watched as the bus pulled away and he saw no sign of McGarrett.  As they passed the parking lot and turned onto Kalani Highway, he sighed with satisfaction that the other cops did not take note of the bus.  Why would they?  Cops saw hundreds of these mundane buses every day.  None of his colleagues would think he was using it now as a method of escape.  Just as he lost sight of the grocery store, he saw Steve run to the parking lot. Studying, he held his breath and waited, but no familiar black Mercury raced in pursuit of the bus. 

 

Breathing a little sigh of relief, with elbows on his knees, he buried his face in his hands.  How was he going to maintain sanity against this pressure?  The double-edge sword of peril to Clara and Steve, and fighting against Steve, was intolerable and nearly overwhelming.  He couldn’t give up.  He was no quitter, certainly not when it came to his ohana.   But, how he longed for an end to the cruel game.

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

 

Unbelievable!  HPD officers and Five-0 could not track down one man!  Okay, Danno was the best, he admitted, breathing hard, pacing slowly around his car as he regained his energy and air.  Danno was proving his skill with embarrassing and frustrating accuracy.  McGarrett stood in the drizzly night atmosphere, then in a fit of frustration pounded his fist on the wet roof of his Mercury.

 

“I’m going to get you, Danno.  I am not going to let you go through this alone,” he vowed.

 

Chin’s LTD pulled into the parking lot and McGarrett gave a wave to Kelly and Lukela as they approached him.  Thinly exhaling, he thought about his next move and instructions.  A report came in that the blue convertible was found on Kalakaua near Williams’ apartment.  The car was registered to Gregson’s landlord, who gave him permission to use the car that morning.  Another dead end. 

 

Aggravated, McGarrett muttered under his breath at his stubborn, cunning and resourceful second-in-command.  When this was over . . . . when this was over there better be a happy ending, was all he could manage to threaten silently. 

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

One of the picturesque, hidden treasures of Oahu, Koko Marina, was a jewel nestled amid the splendor of paradise.  Set against dramatically striking Koolau mountains, the water inlet of Hawaii Kai was like a post card for South Seas tropical perfection.  During the day, Hawaii Kai boasted busy businesses of dive shops and boating support stores catering to tourists utilizing the scenic park nearby, or going to explore the underwater enchantment of Hanauma Bay, which was just minutes away.

 

Koko Marina was dotted with condos and apartments and housing tracks.  The shopping center and boat docks a local secret, off the tourist route.  Tonight, the shops were still open and when he exited the bus, Dan slipped into a close-by dark, smoky bar.  He ordered a beer and took it to a corner table, waiting to see if he was followed.  The bus ride had afforded him a few minutes to think things through.  Time for the meet with Walter was almost upon him.  He had no choice to go without the money.  He could make excuses and promises, but in the end, had to throw himself at the mercy of the criminal. 

 

Digging out more pocket change, he slipped outside to a pay phone and reluctantly dialed HPD, asking for Hilton’s extension.  They would have traces set up, but he had to risk it.  He needed the information on Sally.  It was the only thing he could offer Walter.  He had to make it sweet enough to appease the kidnapper to at least buy him more time and save Clara.

 

“Hilton.”

 

“Nephi, did you get that address?”

 

“Danny.  Sure did.  Hold on, let me find it.  My desk is such a mess.”

 

Several loud clicks sounded.

 

“Danno, don’t hang up.  We have to talk.”

 

A gasp of surprise escaped, and instinctively, Williams cried out, “Steve!”

 

“Danno, please, let me help you.  I’ve pieced together --“

 

“Steve, I can’t let you get involved!” he shouted, agonized to be talking with the one person he could not contact.  He tugged at his dripping hair.  “I can’t have anything to do with you!  Didn’t you read my note?”

 

There was no longer a danger of Walter knowing his every move or hearing his every word.  However, there was the very real threat that Steve would continue to step in the way and do something to get himself killed.

 

“Listen to me -- I know you’re under duress.  I can help --“

 

“Don’t do this, Steve, please,” he pleaded, suffering beyond belief at the choices he was obligated to make.  More than almost anything, he wanted to let his friend take over.  Almost.  “I’m so sorry.  For everything.  You’re in terrible danger if you have anything to do with me --“

 

“Let me be the judge of that!  Walter Gregson is threatening you --“

 

“Steve!”

 

“He has Clara and --“

 

“Stop!”

 

“I can help, Danno!  You don’t have to worry about me.  I can take care of myself!”

 

“He’ll kill you!  I can’t take the risk, Steve.  I have to do this alone.”

 

“Danno, you are not alone!  Don’t shut me out!”

 

“No -- you don’t understand --“

 

“Then tell me, Danno!”

 

“I can’t talk to you about --“

 

“I know Gregson has Clara.  Please let me --”

 

Dan forced himself to hang up and sever his lifeline with the one person who could give him continued strength.  The person he needed most in this crisis, the one best qualified to offer comfort and aid, was the last person he could talk to now!  The compassion and near-pleading from Steve was agonizing.  Physically suffering from the gut-wrenching dilemma, Dan left, walking in a daze in the rain.  Leaning on a wooden post at the end of the sidewalk, he consulted his watch.  Time was almost up.

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

McGarrett threw the mic into the car with a merciless growl.  “Dammit, Danno!”  For good measure, he pounded the top of the car with his fistHe walked around the Mercury, sizzling mad, talking to himself.  “Okay,” he breathed, pacing away.  “Okay, Danno, you’ve won another round, but, I promise you, this will not last!” 

 

He stared up into the black night sky, allowing the rain to wash his face and soak his hair.  Beyond caring about comfort or appearance, he paced back to his car.  All right, his friend -- his talented, skilled, wily, well-matched friend -- was making him work for this.  Obviously, the threat against Clara was substantial and Danno was not going to risk any danger to her.  And clearly complicating things was Danno's intense worry over his safety.  Why didn't Danno understand he could take care of himself?  Typically, Williams was intimidated by danger to McGarrett -- an old scenario they seemed destined to repeat.

 

Steve, though, could not allow this to go on.  As he had advised so many ransom victims in the past, the kidnapper always had the upper hand.  And adult victims rarely survived the ordeal.  The criminal nabbed the money and killed the victim in most cases.  That was why it was so important for Danno to cooperate with him.  At the end of this twisted plot, he foresaw fatal ends for Clara and Danno.  Gregson had no reason to let them live no matter what Williams did.  Yet, to save Clara, Danno had no choice. 

 

Whatever Gregson had said and done, it had filled Williams with fear for Clara’s life, and Steve’s life.  Two horrible dangers -- a double-edged sword at his friend’s throat.  Hazards that reached beyond Dan’s faith in Steve.  Instead of wounding his pride, that realization filled McGarrett with even more iron resolve.  He WOULD find Danno, and Gregson, and help get Clara out of this alive.  This was probably their most important moment in Five-0, and he would not let his friend down

 

Chin called him over to the car and Steve jogged to meet him.

 

“Sergeant Hilton just checked in,” Chin reported, the excitement sizzling his voice.  “Danny’s call came from Koko Marina.”

 

With a yelp of triumph, Steve ran to his car.  Koko Marina.  Only minutes away!  They might have him this time!  The hound was closing in on the fox and this could be the end of the hunt.  He hoped.

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

He would have to steal a car, Dan cringed, hating this descent into an enforced fugitive -- now criminal -- life.  The bus would not be quick enough, with the slow speed and connections.  He would probably have to make transfers, too, and that would waste precious minutes he didn’t have anymore.  Steve’s tenacious and all too brilliant methods had cost him time.  He could not begrudge the efforts.  Steve’s interference was expected, and in a way, soothing and emotionally pacifying to his troubled nerves. It was stressful knowing McGarrett kept trying to throw himself into the unseen danger.  It was comforting to know his tenacious and loyal friend would never give up on him, never desert him, even when Dan adamantly requested such atypical actions.

 

A taxi pulled up and dropped someone off at the bar.  Dan scurried over and the driver leaned out the window.  Wary, Dan checked the area for undercover cops, then scrutinized the driver.  The stubbly beard and the chewed up cigar made him think the buy was for real.  He didn’t know any undercover guys who got into a role like this!  He almost laughed.  Steve’s prowess was top-notch, but now he was seeing McGarrett’s hand behind everyone he encountered.

 

A taxi - traceable.  But, by the time Steve followed this trail -- as he inevitably would -- the denouement would be finished.  The Fate of Clara Williams, Walter Gregson, and himself, would be decided by then.  At least Steve would be safe.  Heaven help them all.

 

“Hey, buddy, ya need a lift?  Decent fares.  Ya look like ya could use a ride somewhere outta the rain.”

 

“Yeah,” Dan decided instantly and jumped in the back.  Diamond Head crater.”

 

“At this hour?”

 

“Yeah.  I want to go on a moonlight hike.”

 

As the man turned the car into the main road along the marina, he glanced back at his fare.  “It’s rainin’.  There ain’t no moon.”

 

“Mahalo,” Dan sighed, leaning his head against the back of the seat and closing his eyes. 

 

This was almost over.  The wrenching deceit, the straining anxiety for Clara’s safety, the looming, unknown threat ominously laying ahead like the clinging dark clouds over the Koolaus.  Whatever Walter was planning as the end-game, it was almost over.  He glanced at his watch.  He would have only a few minutes to spare by the time they made it inside the crater.

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

Bitterly, McGarrett accepted that he had been outfoxed by his akamai colleague.  Again.  There was no trace of Williams, he fumed as he paced under the eves, just out of reach of the decreasing, gently sprinkling rain at the Koko Marina shopping center.  Williams’ call had been traced the phone here near the bar.  How had Williams come here without a car?  That remained to be discovered.  Did he leave yet?  Men were combing the area, but Dan could have already left via a boat or a car they didn’t know about, or he could have left with Gregson.  When Chin pulled up, McGarrett asked for an update on Gregson.  If they could not follow the trail by chasing Williams, they would try to find where Gregson and Clara Williams might be hiding.

 

“We got HPD checking on a few things now,” Detective Kelly reported as he consulted notes within the shelter of the sedan.  “Gregson rents an apartment in Waikiki.  HPD men have checked it and found no one home.  Parole officer says he’s looking for work, but isn’t employed yet.”  Kelly flipped a page.  “Gregson bought an old car -- Triumph -- it’s parked in his apartment garage.”

 

Pacing, snapping his fingers, watching the rain drops splatter off his polished black boots, Steve sighed and tried to think -- as he so successfully did -- in the place of the criminal.  He knew almost nothing about Gregson.  The man was a vicious animal and had entered McGarrett’s sphere as the murderer of Danno’s girlfriend.   So the enemy had malice, ability and cold-blooded nerve.  Proven to be a ruthless killer, Steve more than ever feared for Clara and her nephew at the mercy of this monster.

 

Duke jogged over, excited.  “Steve, we’ve been interviewing locals and tourists.  A few people spotted Danny in that bar over there.”

 

McGarrett looked to the establishment in question.  A cab just pulled up to drop off two club-hoppers. 

 

“Did you talk to the cabbies?  Danno might not have a car.”

 

“Yeah, been talking to the ones I could nail down.”

 

Duke jogged over to the cab and McGarrett followed.  The cabbie, chewing on a cigar, admitted he picked up Danny from here about a half hour before.

 

“And took him where?” Steve snapped.

 

“Inside Diamond Head crater.”

 

Flashes of how easy it would be to hide bodies in the brush and trees of the isolated area preyed in McGarrett’s mind.  He knew he might be endangering his friend and Clara by overreacting now.  But, he might be saving their lives by acting fast.

 

“Let’s go!” he ordered and raced for his car.

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

Dan paid off the driver and stood there in the drizzling rain, looking at the looming shadows around him -- the black lava walls of Diamond Head crater.  Ambling over to the nearby picnic area, he got under the shelter of the roof and leaned against a post.  Across the large crater were the lights of the army base, Fort Ruger.  They gently illuminated the interior of the extinct volcano enough for him to see shapes and landmarks. 

 

His entrance into the area was probably routinely monitored by the army.  After all, a super secret underground government installation shared the crater.  On this side of the crater, it was a park with tables and picnic areas and trails leading into the rugged, brush-strewn desert-like interior.  Many hikers made their way up to the summit of Diamond Head to catch the spectacular view from the peak.  From that vista you could see all the way across Waikiki, Honolulu, all the way to the airport on a clear day. In the other direction, you could see Koko Head, Black Point and Kahala.  He had been up here many times for the rigorous hike, the grueling 99 concrete steps up, and the opportunity to impress athletic dates with the fantastic and nearly tourist-less vista.

 

“Hello, Danny.”

 

Williams turned, surprised.   Walter, pointing a gun at him, stepped out of the darkness.  He had changed so little in the years in prison.  Well, the slimy creep always had a way of breezing through life. Marrying into money with Sally.  Slipping out of two life sentences by employing a sharp attorney.  Coming up with this horrible kidnapping ploy to have Dan do his dirty work and steal money for him.  Walter’s charmed life was over, Dan promised himself as he stared at his enemy, fists clenching in rage.

 

“Where is she?”

 

“Where’s the money?”

 

“Where you can’t get it until I have my aunt back.”

 

Angry, Walter stepped forward.  “I told you --“

 

Unable to control his temper, Dan grabbed him by the shirt collar and slammed him against a support beam.  “The game ends here, Walter.  You take me to my aunt.  When I see she’s alive and well you are going to release her.  Then I take you to the money and Sally.”

 

The revolver jabbed into Dan’s ribs.  “That’s not --“

 

“That’s the only deal!  You don’t get anything until I know she’s safe from you!  I’ve done your bidding for hours and this is the end, Walter.  You take the deal or I’ll kill you right now.”

 

“I’ll kill you first.”  The gun jammed into his ribs.

 

Barely wincing, Dan allowed his anger to filter through his voice and eyes and shaking fists gripping his foe.  “You kill me and you don’t get the money or Sally.  And if anything happens to me or my aunt, you’re finished.  Do you think McGarrett would let you live after that?”

 

Invoking the all-powerful spectre of McGarrett made Walter’s eyes widen with fear.  Less assured, he stepped back, keeping the pistol trained on Williams.  “If you try any tricks you’ll never find your aunt.”

 

“If you don’t take me to her now, you’ll never get that two million and you’ll never get to Sally.”

 

Gregson pushed away.  “Then you behave yourself, Danny, or I will kill you and think of another way to find Sally and get back my money.”

 

“Her money.”

 

The revolver wavered in Dan’s face.  “I should have had it all!  But thanks to you I went to jail instead!”

 

Fighting to maintain his reason, Dan countered levelly. “Then the only thing to do is to take me to my aunt and you’ll have what you want.”

 

The rage must have pushed him over the line and convinced him his life was worth nothing.  It was not acting.  Dan would gladly strangle the man given any more provocation.  If something had happened to aunt Clara, Walter was as good as dead.

 

“Okay,” he agreed, sliding away.  He patted down Dan’s waist and shirt, assuring he was unarmed.  “My car is behind the trees.  But any tricks and you are both dead.”

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

As he half expected, there was no sign of Williams inside the crater.  Chin drove over to Fort Ruger to interview the guards at the government facility.  McGarrett and Lukela searched the area for tracks or bodies or signs of violence.  They found crushed bush that indicated a car had parked there.  The matted brush was drier than the surrounding area so the car had been here very recently during the rain.

 

The page on his radio sounded loud in the quiet night.  So quiet he could hear the rain hitting the park shelter and pelting the trees.  McGarrett jogged over and received the call from HPD.  A thorough search revealed Gregson owned a car and property under the name of Payson.   Apparently he had these goods hidden away from before he went to prison.  McGarrett jotted down the address in nearby Aina Haina.

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

Sitting in the car with this murderer and kidnapper was a strange experience.  He wanted to throttle the man, but he was forced to be civilized.  Forced to maintain the short distance between them and keep the monster alive.  At least for a little while.

 

“You didn’t really have my apartment bugged, did you?”

 

Walter smirked.  “What do you think?”

 

“No.”

 

“Then why play along?”

 

“Because there was an element of doubt.”

 

“I played you for a sucker, Williams.   And you did a very good job of it, too.  Right down the line.”

 

“Yeah,” Dan admitted, but lacked sharp feelings of self-criticism.  

 

He had played the only way he could in this vicious game.  With a little measure of satisfaction, he knew he was playing Walter, too.  The trick -- who would win the endgame in the unforeseeable future?  He had ditched his best ace -- McGarrett.  He had to win this one on his own.  There was only one ace left up his cuff.   Covertly, he slipped the .22 out of his ankle holster and tucked it into his pocket.

 

In a few minutes they pulled off of Kalani Highway to a beach house in Aina Haina, just on the other side of the park.  Dan held his breath, not knowing what to expect.  He had half-thought he and his aunt would be murdered and their bodies left in the desolate crater of Diamond Head. 

 

On his guard, he restrained his anxious desire to see his aunt and kept a wary eye on Gregson, who had the gun on him.  Should he make his move now?  No, he didn’t know if there was an accomplice in the house with Clara.  Best to let this play out, make sure Clara was safe and could escape, then he would kill Walter before the man learned there was no money.

 

The house was a decent beach cottage with lights on and a nice little dock at the surf line.  A small boat bobbed in the water pelted with drizzly, gentle rain.  Walter unlocked the door and motioned for Dan to enter.  It was a comfortable enough place and he felt a little better knowing Clara had been kept prisoner in a decent jail.  Walter unlocked the door to a back room, the revolver still trained on his captive.  Dan stood on the threshold and blinked.  There was Clara, standing tensely by the window, with her hands behind her back.  When she saw her nephew, she gasped out a yelp of surprise!  Dan rushed into her arms and held her as she sobbed with relief.

 

“All right,” Walter said as he shoved Dan’s shoulder.  “You see she’s fine, now where is the money?”

 

“I hid it,” Dan said.  Concealed by his embrace, he retrieved the .22 out of his pocket.  In his aunt’s ear, he whispered urgently, “Run.  Now!”

 

Knocking against Walter, he pushed Gregson’s revolver toward the ground and shoved his small pistol into his opponent’s chest.  From out of nowhere, Clara bashed Gregson on the head with a piece of wood.  The jolt shifted Dan’s pistol and when he fired, the bullet only grazed Walter.  The stunned criminal went down on one knee and took Dan with him, firing a shot that zinged through Dan’s shirt and jacket.

 

“Run, Aunt Clara!  Get to the boat!” he shouted, wrestling for control of at least one gun. 

 

All he needed was one shot and Gregson was dead.  The Five-0 officer was beyond reasonable conduct or the laws of society.  This monster had murdered his girlfriend and kidnapped and terrorized his aunt and threatened his friend.  There was no reason to let Gregson continue to live.

 

They knocked into the side table and the lamp came crashing down atop them, showering them with shards of glass and plunging the room into darkness.  Two more shots flashed out and Dan managed to dash out of the way and return a wild shot.  The window crashed and windy rain flew in as Gregson escaped. 

 

Williams plunged out the window headfirst and rolled to his feet.  Walter, a silhouette appearing and disappearing against the lights of the house, was running up the beach.  Walter was making for the boat at the dock!  That was where Dan sent his aunt!  Speeding now with complete disregard for his own safety, Dan ran after him, not bothering to try and dodge the shots fired recklessly his way.  

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

McGarrett’s sedan sped up to the house, and he slammed hard on the brakes when he saw a slim, slight figure dash from the front door.  In the headlights, he realized it was Clara and leaped out to grab her.

 

“Danny!” she shouted, but held onto McGarrett in a tight embrace.

 

Afraid what her tortured cry meant, he tried to comfort her while getting information.  “Clara, you’re safe now.”  Chin and Duke, running up to join them, had their guns out.  “Where is Danno?”

 

“In the house with that terrible man.”

Two shots rang out and Steve nearly shoved her into Chin.  “Get her out of here,” he ordered and ran to the cottage.

 

The only illumination of the front yard came from the headlights of the police cars.  Revolver drawn, McGarrett slammed up against the side of the beach house and caught his breath, darting a cautious look through the window to the interior of the house.  Lights were on in several rooms and in the back yard. 

 

Heart pounding, McGarrett kicked in the front door and went in, too anxious to wait for back up.  The end of the chase was finally upon them.  The fox and hound game was over.  The victim safely under police protection.  The fox -- still in terrible danger. 

 

Every wary step in the house escalated his anxiety.  Shadows stretched out of the corners, looming at the edges of his vision, taunting him in the half-light as he raced through the eerily silent rooms.  With each moment, his fear increased; terrified around the next corner he would find his dead friend.  After all this -- after finding Clara alive -- if he lost Danno now, he could not stomach the tragedy.

 

Just entering the kitchen, he heard another gunshot -- from outside -- in the back.  He hardly paused, racing out to the nearby beach, relief at seeing Williams alive mitigated by the ongoing drama.   Gregson, heading for a boat at the dock, shot at the pursuing Williams.  Heedless of the gunfire, McGarrett watched his detective close on the criminal, tackling the man.

 

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

Afraid Gregson would overtake Clara, he ran as fast as he could in pursuit, hesitant to shoot in the night without a clear target.   Dan and Walter reached the dock and in a moment Dan was on him.  Tackling Walter threw both of them into the bottom of the small boat.  Heedless of the painful crash, Dan smashed at his foe with merciless rage. Guns lost in the fight, Gregson -- bleeding, gasping in pain -- struggled to flee his mad attacker.  Trying to get away, he scrambled toward the dock.  Dan pulled him back, the momentum throwing them over the side to tumble into the shallow water.

 

Gregson thrashed out, hitting at his opponent, but Dan fought back with unleashed fury.  The fear for his aunt, the anger at the long ordeal, the adrenalin from panic and wrath surging his nerves into sizzling energy.  Easily in control, Dan threw Gregson into the side of the boat, pounding the man’s head. 

 

“Danno! “

 

Arms fought him from behind and he tried to push off the interference, ignoring buzzing shouts in his ear. 

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

Racing onto the dock, McGarrett hoped he was in time to save Gregson.  Steve quickly holstered his revolver and leaped into the knee high water after him.

He was relieved he was in time to save Gregson.  It was not a noble, aspiration, but his only possible option.  While Steve had sympathy for killing the monster, he could not allow his friend to carry through with murdering Gregson.  As a cop, he had to cease the hostility by a fellow officer.  As a friend, he had to stop his friend from making a life-altering mistake.

 

“Danno!  Stop!  You’re not going to kill him!”

 

Thrashing in the thigh-high water, McGarrett wrestled with Williams.  Height, weight and strength on his side, still Steve did not have the passionate drive for vengeance that was propelling Williams into unleashed violence.  It was a real fight to stop the attack.

 

“Danno!  Stop!”

 

“Let me kill him!”

 

“No!  Danno!  Think what you’re doing!”

 

Grabbing his friend by the chest, he dragged the shorter detective away, pulling him back.  Breathing hard, McGarrett held onto his captive until Chin and Duke retrieved a gasping Gregson from the surf.

 

“That’s right, Danny!  Think what you’re doing!” Gregson taunted.  “I should have killed your aunt when I had the chance! Just like I killed Jane!”

 

As the detectives stumbled onto the dock with the prisoner, Williams slipped away again and lunged for Gregson, tearing at his shirt.  Lukela and Kelly swerved away, yanking the criminal out of reach.  McGarrett snagged onto his friend and restrained Williams from further hostility.

 

“Danno!”

 

“Let me at him, Steve!” Dan nearly pleaded, but the fight was gone out of his struggle and his voice.  He leaned back against Steve.  “He was going to kill Aunt Clara!”

 

“And you were going to kill me!” Walter continued to taunt.  “Just like you tried to kill that kid!  Don’t you think I remember what you did to the last guy who made you mad!  Police brutality, Danny!”  

 

Grateful his friend was alive and the nightmare was over, McGarrett stung with anger and pity at the monstrous gibes.  If ever anyone deserved to die, it was this beast.  Yet, there was nothing they could do but allow the due process of the law to provide justice and lock Gregson away forever.

 

Holding tightly to his friend, Steve waited in the lapping waves until Gregson was taken away.  Then he guided Dan out of the surf, leading them toward the beach where Five-0 sedans and HPD patrol cars with revolving blue lights cluttered the yard.  He held onto Dan until they reached solid sand.  

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

The moment snapped into clarity, sweeping away the blind fury and gradually replacing it with reason and sanity.  Steve.  Steve was with him, holding onto him, keeping him away from Gregson.  The hatred sizzled still, but exhaustion tempered the wrath.  The game was over.  They had won.  Aunt Clara was safe.  Steve was safe.  Gregson was detained.

 

“It’s okay,” McGarrett assured breathlessly.  “Clara is fine, Danno.  It’s okay now.”

 

Williams only nodded, stumbling along, allowing his friend to guide him and take over the burden of the aftermath.  Dazed at the intensity of his wrath, at the sudden release from acute danger and disgust to safety and security, Dan gradually oriented again to the real world.  Gregson was no longer a threat.  Clara was fine.  Steve was well.  It was all okay.  Steve just promised him that and he believed.

 

Aunt Clara  was suddenly in his arms, crying and he felt McGarrett’s strong hold on them both; literally and figuratively supporting them.  It really was going to be all right now.

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

On the drive to Waikiki, Dan wondered if he had ever felt this wet in his life.  It seemed he had been dripping for days.  Sitting in the back seat of McGarrett’s car, he had his arm around Clara’s shoulder and watched her face as the streetlights errantly cast illumination into the car.  Finished crying, Clara was strangely, uncharacteristically reticent.

 

Being the nearly clairvoyant gentleman, Steve drove, silently supportive, but allowing them a measure of privacy.  All were exhausted, and from what he had seen of his colleagues, Chin and Duke were as glad this was over as he was. 

 

During the trip, Clara revealed her side of the ordeal.  Gregson had appeared at the airport, introduced himself as Dan’s associate, and explained he was her escort since Dan was busy with an important case.  An all too familiar scenario, she thought nothing strange in accompanying him.  When they bypassed Waikiki and kept driving, she was suspicious, but he said they were meeting Williams on a stake-out.  Then they arrived at the beach house and she knew something was wrong, but by then he had her literally under the gun.

 

Shivering with residual anger and torment that she had gone through such a harrowing experience, Dan was awed at her resilience.  Especially when she mentioned how she worked on escape while locked in the room.  By the time Dan entered, she had removed a leg from a chair and used it to beat on Gregson and aid her flight.

 

“You’re really incredible,” he beamed.

 

“Well, I wasn’t going to sit around and do nothing,” she huffed indignantly.  “I’ve been in my fair share of hot spots you know.  During the war I was in the field, you know . . . . “ she trailed away with that thought as she covered a yawn.  “Excuse me.  I think everything is catching up to me.”

 

“We’re almost to the Hilton,” McGarrett offered.

 

Calming now, Dan began to edge away from the glow of relief and the residual giddiness of sharp contrasts -- the life-and-death struggle terminated by McGarrett.  The reunion with his aunt.  The final comprehension all was well.

 

Now, he had to deal with the aftermath -- face Steve with his betrayal and the wild things he had done.  Not a moment he looked forward to, but one he would have to get over with as soon as he could.  Was Steve going to take the resignation seriously?  He didn’t want to think so, but he had disobeyed Steve’s direct orders.  Had been a party to several criminal activities; ranging from probably Grand Theft Auto to breaking and entering, attempted robbery of funds, aiding a criminal. 

 

On a personal level -- he didn’t even want to go there -- but couldn’t help himself.  Steve had been so livid with him!  Hoping he could explain it all away, he gazed out the rain-spotted window, observing the bright lights of Waikiki, as they headed for the hotel.  He hoped his future was not as murky as the hazy view of the city.

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

One of the Five-0 detectives had thoughtfully called ahead.  When the party pulled under the flower-draped overhang at the lobby, it was nearly midnight.  A solicitous hotel manager was there to smooth the transition. 

 

They looked like wrecks, Steve admitted, his wet suit and ruffled appearance at least as bad as Williams’.  Clara seemed exhausted and tense, but calming down from the horrific experience. 

 

“In all the excitement,” Clara sighed in the elevator up to her room.  “I forgot.  That nasty man still has my luggage!  I don’t have a thing to wear!”

 

Steve and Dan exchanged weary smiles, appreciating her adroit effort to settle them down from the extreme emotions.  Clara was still holding onto her nephew as if she was afraid he would disappear, but otherwise she was showing every sign of returning to normal faster than McGarrett could credit his own nerves.  Danno still looked rocky under the surface, but was keeping upbeat and quietly stalwart for his aunt.  Too quiet, McGarrett reasoned with concern.

 

Taking charge, Steve suggested, “I’ll have the hotel select something from the stores.  They have an extensive shopping area in the village.”

 

“I know, but it’s so late!”

 

Steve winked at her.  “I’m the head of Five-0, remember?”

 

“Yes,” she smiled like a pixie.  “Wonderful to have friends of influence.  Did I ever tell you, Steve, about the --“

 

“Not now, Aunt Clara,” Dan sighed wearily.  “Please.”

 

Shrugging, she continued with her story, heedless of her nephew’s objections as the elevator stopped and Steve led them toward her ocean front room.

 

“One of the nicest things about staying here,” she blithely indicated the sumptuous rooms and stunning scenery Waikiki out her window.  “I know the shopping at the Hilton Hawaiian Village is incredible.  And you thought I just stayed here for the view.”

 

A smile finally reached Dan’s eyes, as he teased back, “No, Aunt Clara, I thought it was so you could check out all the young surfers.”

 

Laughing, she slapped him on the arm.  “Danny, I’m too old for that type of thing!”

 

“Oh, yeah.  Then why is Mr. Turner, in my building, so anxious to see you.  He’s got a crush on you, Aunt Clara.”

 

“No,” she denied, not-very-convincingly.

 

“You’ve been flirting with him,” he accused.

 

Saucily, she replied as she glided around the room, “You don’t think I come to beautiful Hawaii just to visit you, do you, Danny?”

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

Steve phoned the manager on duty and explained the situation about Clara’s belongings.  He assured sufficient supplies would be sent up to make her comfortable for the night and the next day.  Only too happy to cooperate.  Next, Steve called Duke, who was cleaning up crime scene details at the house.  He asked Lukela to search for Clara’s luggage and get it over to the hotel at the earliest opportunity.

 

After Clara was settled, the detectives stayed until she threw them out, declaring she felt secure and safe at the hotel.  Steve promised increased guards for the night just to make sure.  Shooing them away, she ordered them to be available for a late breakfast with her in the morning.

 

 

õõõõõ

 

Well past midnight, McGarrett and Williams, still in damp suits, left the Hilton and headed for Williams’ apartment at the other end of Waikiki.  More than ready to change out of his wet clothes, McGarrett felt he was not finished with his duties yet.  Head leaning back against the seat, eyes closed, Williams was exhausted, but his fingers tapped nervously against the side of the passenger door.  The case might be all pau, but there were still issues to settle.

 

“I never made it back to the Ilikai.  I’ll do that first thing in the morning.”

 

McGarrett scoffed.  “The only thing you’re doing first thing in the morning is having breakfast with Clara on the lanai of her room.”

 

Dan straightened, staring at him.  “Steve, the conference --“

 

“Is going to be ready without your help for one day, Officer Williams” he sternly drew the line.  “Your job is to play tour guide to a very nice malihini of our mutual acquaintance.  The closest you’re getting to the Ilikai is when you and Clara meet me there tomorrow night for dinner in the Canoe House.  At sunset.”

 

McGarrett didn’t need to look at his friend to feel the disapproval. 

 

“I want to do my part --“

 

“Then you’ll do what I ask,” Steve commanded simply as he pulled up at the curb of Dan’s apartment. 

 

‘You’ve done little of that lately,’ he almost added, but knew that would sound churlish and petty. 

 

The crisis was over, his friend and Clara were alive and the bad guy arrested.  Everything he wanted out of the horrible hunt of the day had thankfully come to pass.  Searching his inner core, he understood there was no longer any trace of the hurt or anger he had initially felt at Danno’s resignation and headlong chase around Oahu.  There were reasons, frightening coercions, and reasonable explanations.  Now, after the drama, the threats, the high emotions, he could drift back to routine with equanimity, compassion and sympathy.  Glancing at his exhausted friend, he knew Danno was feeling worse than anyone about the day’s misadventures.  No need to belabor the details. This was a happy ending.  Coming around to the passenger side, McGarrett waited as Dan stood on the curb and surveyed the building. 

 

“It seems like a long time since I left here.”

 

“It was.  A lot of mileage.” The tone was not completely devoid of irony.  It had been a long and grueling trail.  In time and space and events. 

 

The rain had stopped, Steve noted, thankfully, as they strode along the wet-slick sidewalk to the elevator.   All seemed quiet at this end of Waikiki at the post-midnight hour.  Inside the apartment, Dan removed his damp jacket and draped it on a stool at the kitchen bar.  Spotting the note left there for McGarrett, he suddenly started shaking uncontrollably. 

 

Clara was safe and Gregson behind bars.  The kidnapping nightmare was over.  Now came the tough conclusion.  Afraid his friend was about to collapse, Steve grabbed onto him and helped him to the sofa.  He sat there, holding onto his silently trembling friend until exhaustion stilled the anguish.  Unable to think of anything comforting to say, he waited out the emotional reaction.

 

“Why don’t you take it easy, Danno,” he finally commented.

 

“I didn’t want to betray you, Steve.  I’m so sorry --”

 

“I know that.  When I figured out what happened with Clara, I understood.  It was a terrible thing to go through.”  He fished in his jacket pocket and retrieved a leather case.  He placed it in Dan’s hand.  “That’s yours.  I don’t need to hold onto it anymore.”

 

“You mean --“

 

“When you have a chance, I’ll want a full report of course, detective.  You’re still on the payroll,” he forged on quickly, not wanting to get mired in any more emotional backwash.  It had been a long, tumultuous day and it was time to heal.  “Right now, why don’t you get some sleep?”

 

Williams shook his head.  “I couldn’t.”

 

McGarrett nodded, understanding the need for contact and companionship after a crisis.  Something he rarely admitted even to himself, but always appreciated when others -- notably Danno -- responded to silent needs.  In truth, Steve didn’t feel much like returning to his apartment and trying to sleep.  A near impossible task -- despite his heavy fatigue -- after the keyed-up actions of the day and night.

 

“Okay.  Why don’t you change?  Have you eaten lately?”

 

Dan’s blank stare answered clearly. 

 

“Okay, I’ll make something.”

 

“I couldn’t eat.”

 

“Well, I could use some strong coffee.”

 

Williams tiredly nodded, then trudged toward the bedroom.  It was then McGarrett noted the tear in the back of Dan's shirt and part of the white material tinged pink from blood.

 

“Danno, you’re hurt.”

 

Williams checked his side and seemed numb to the minor injury that looked like a nick from a bullet.  McGarrett took charge, scrounging for first aid supplies and helping patch up the slice.  He suggested that they take a trip over to the ER at Leahi, but Williams refused and went to change clothes.

 

Unhappy at this vibrant evidence that everyone coming out alive from this misadventure was a close thing, McGarrett went through the motions of making coffee and calming his own strained nerves.   Danno came too close to taking a bullet from Gregson.  This could have been so much worse, he sighed raggedly.  Hours ago, he had been angry, hurt at the actions precipitated by his friend.  Now, all that mattered was that all were safe and the criminal behind bars.

 

Able to gain perspective and calm his nerves, when Williams returned, Steve sat him down with a hot cup of coffee.  Dan slowly delivered the explanation of events with clarity:  The empty apartment, the phone call, the horrible ultimatum.  Here, the objectivity slipped and Dan’s voice tightened.  McGarrett quietly urged him to continue only when he was ready.  Typically, the younger man kept going, toughing it out.

 

“Of course, I thought he was lying -- well -- knew there was a possibility he was trying to trick me, but I couldn’t know for sure.”  He took several long sips of his coffee.

 

“Of course not,” McGarrett agreed reasonably.  “The convertible ploy was good, though.”

 

“The what?”

 

“Keeping the top down in the rain.  Only Dan Williams is crazy enough to do that,” he grinned.  “Crazy like a fox, Danno.  That’s how we were able to track you so easily for a while.”

 

“Well, you’re certainly the best tracking hound on the island.”  Williams frowned.  “Steve, I hate to shatter your illusions, but that was no cunning ploy on my part.  The electric top was broken.”

 

Steve’s grin faded quickly when he saw Williams was not seeing much humor in the tense situation.  “Then I’m grateful for good luck.”

 

Dan nodded, still deeply troubled.  “When he threatened to kill Aunt Clara, and you, I had to go along with anything he said.”

The dilemma angered McGarrett, whose sympathies were completely with his officer.  Had the situations been reversed, Steve would have been forced to comply, just as Williams.  An unwilling puppet on a string.  Something McGarrett would have detested.

 

“Yeah, I thought it was something like that.”  What else could have motivated his friend to perform such extreme acts, but severe threats to the people closest to him?  “I still wish you would have let me help.”

 

“I couldn’t, Steve, I’m sorr--“

 

It’s okay, Danno.  It’s over.”

 

“I didn’t break into Sally’s.”

 

“I’m sure you didn’t, Danno,” Steve smiled.  “And she’s safe, under guard, in Maui.  In the morning I’ll call off the watchdogs.”

 

There was silence for a time and McGarrett allowed his friend to just still, mutely collecting thoughts and emotions. Deep confessions were not something either of them indulged in with any fondness, but both seemed to mutually acknowledge it needed to be done tonight.

 

As the younger man continued recounting his side of the ordeal, McGarrett was again amazed at his friend’s talent as a cop, his clever wit, his ability to think fast and stay cool in a crisis.  Above all, he was impressed all over again with Danno’s tenacity and loyalty.  Of course, Dan would do anything to save Clara, but he would also do anything to keep Steve safe, and as always, that both comforted and frightened the top cop.

 

Grimly, Steve admitted, “I wasn’t too thrilled at the cat and mouse games, Danno.  The chase through Kahala.  The bank,” he laughed without much amusement.  “The grocery store.”

 

With the ghost of a smile, Dan explained his disappearing act on the bus.

 

“Using a bus! I never would have . . .  that’s embarrassing.”   Steve shook his head, unable to phrase the right words that were both condemning and admiring for Williams’ sly actions.  “Makes me glad you didn’t decide to become a criminal on my beat.”

 

Grudgingly, Dan smirked.  “I hope you know how --“

 

“Danno, I know.  You don’t have to apologize again.”

 

“I feel so bad --“

 

“You were trying to save Clara. And me,” he reminded, knowing that was always a motivation high on Williams’ priorities.  “I understand.”

 

Dan nodded, for now accepting the assurance.  “I hated leaving the bank without the money.  I didn’t know what Walter would do when I showed with no cash.  But, I couldn’t risk being seen with you.  I didn’t know if he had the place watched, or had a gun on you or anything.”  He rubbed fingers through his hair in irritation.  “And I -- I didn’t want to face you.  Everything would be over then and you’d be right in the middle of the danger.”

 

Patting his arm, McGarrett could not easily reconcile the choices.  “I know you felt we were threatened, but you shouldn’t have tried this on your own, Danno.  I would have been glad to take the risk to help you.”

 

“I couldn’t allow it.”

 

An old argument.  Sometimes Danno could be so stubborn.  Usually, he could be convinced to see things Steve’s way, but not in a case like this.  A source of irritated pride for McGarrett.  How could he condemn his friend for wanting to save his life?  For doing exactly what Steve would do in this situation?

 

“So, what would you have done if Walter was angry at losing the money?”

“Letting Walter call the shots was revolting.  I did have a plan.”

 

Suspicions flaring, McGarrett had the impression there was something else he was not being told.  Something Dan would have plotted, an ace up the sleeve. 

 

“To stay sane, I had to keep my own ultimatum.”

 

Not liking the sound of that, Steve asked him to continue.

 

“My only plan -- not a very good one, but all I could think of -- was that Walter was desperate and needed the money.  But he also wanted the revenge against Sally.  If things hadn’t turned out the way they did, I would have traded myself for Aunt Clara, convinced him to let me take him to Sally, and tried to somehow overpower him.”  Grimacing, he shrugged, “It wasn’t much.”

 

Steve’s skin chilled thinking how easily he could have lost Dan over such heroics.  Walter would not have hesitated to kill any and all of them.  Certainly, Gregson was not intending to let Clara or Dan live.

 

“I’m glad it didn’t come to that.  It was rough enough.”

 

“Yeah.”  With a sigh, he leaned back and studied McGarrett.  “Thanks for hanging in with me.”

 

“You should have let me do more.”

 

“I wish I could.  Believe me.  You don't know how close I came to caving in and asking for your help.  But I couldn't take the risk to you.” 

 

Nodding in reluctant understanding, Steve warned, “Well, there better not be a next time, Detective Williams.  This disobedience to my authority can not go on.”

 

The threat was only partially teasing, and Dan nodded, understanding the subtext of the message: Knowing Steve hated Dan placing himself in danger to save him, knowing he always would take those risks.

 

“You know, you could go home and change.  You don’t have to hang out here.  I’m okay.”

 

McGarrett squeezed his shoulder.  “Try to get some sleep.  I’ll see you tomorrow.”  He stood and headed for the door.  “But only at dinner,” he warned sternly, jabbing a finger at his friend.  “Your day is devoted to Clara, remember?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

 

If asked, Dan would not have been able to coherently respond to why he was here.  Standing on the other side of the mesh-bars, he looked at the small holding cell and wondered why he had come to visit Walter Gregson.  After a decent night of exhausted sleep, and a good breakfast with Aunt Clara, Dan had left his relative to have her hair done, buy new tropical clothing, and get dressed up for the upcoming dinner with Steve.  He, then, had come to HPD lock-up to visit the man he could still, quite easily, murder without any provocation.

 

Gregson walked into the small room and Dan felt irritated to be separated from the animal by the mesh-bars.  For a moment he stood there, giving away no outward clue to his disposition.  Gregson, angry and sullen, glared at him with undisguised hatred.

 

“What do you want?”

 

“To kill you.”  The response startled the man and that pleased Dan.  “You deserve it after what you did.”

 

Sneering, but unsettled at the stark threat, Gregson stayed clear of the thin metal separating them.  “I have nothing to say without an attorney.”

 

“I don’t want your confession.  I don’t need it.  We have you dead-to-rights, Gregson.  I just wanted to come by and let you know you will never see another sunset.  We’re going to put you away for the rest of your life.  No possibility for parole this time.  And that’s just barely the beginning of what you deserve.”

 

“You know why I won’t be going to jail again, Williams?  Thanks to you.”  He nodded smugly.  “You have a history of violence against suspects, remember?  Remember Jane?  The poor sod you thought murdered her?”

 

“Shut up!”

 

“I’ll never be convicted after they hear what you did to me!  Look at these cuts and bruises!” he shouted, pulling up one of his sleeves.

 

Muscles knotted with tight control, Dan wanted to plunge through that mesh and kill this beast.  Barely in check, he reined in the livid fury.  Walter deserved to die at his hand -- deserved it for Jane and the ordeal Aunt Clara went through. 

 

Yes, years ago he had lost control.  If he lost it now, he could blow the whole case.  He was older and more mature than he was when Jane died, so he should have learned something.  Learned that justice could come without the rage.  Maybe just that he had to be the one to stop the violence and let others work for his cause.

 

Heaviest in his thoughts, however, was the knowledge that if he did anything to blow this case he would never forgive himself.  Neither would Aunt Clara or Steve, and those two condemnations he could not endure.  Much easier, he could withstand the silly taunts of this animal. 

 

“Come on, Williams.”

 

“I’m not going to give you the satisfaction.”

 

Lips rippling with disgust, Gregson stared at the man who had foiled him twice.  “You better hope I never do get out, Williams.  If I do, your life is worth nothing.”

 

“Then we’re even,” Dan snapped back and turned away.

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

Fuming, Dan stalked out of the interrogation room.  The sharp slam of a door down the hall caught his attention and he came up short, startled to look up into the blazing eyes of Steve McGarrett. 

 

“Steve!”

 

Taking Dan’s arm, he led them to an unoccupied room.

 

McGarrett held the door open until Williams entered the private room, then he slammed the door shut.  “Danno, I told you --“

 

“I needed to see him, Steve.”

 

McGarrett’s expression was dangerously grim.  “And compromise our case against him?”

 

“I didn’t!”

 

“He was already claiming police brutality!” McGarrett shouted back.  “His attorney brought up your incident with that artist from six years ago!  Stay away from him, Danno!”

 

Angry at the implications, Williams flung back, “I am not going to do anything rash, Steve.”

 

“Like harassing a suspect?  Like coming here when I expressly forbid you to be involved?”

 

“I didn’t harass him!”

 

“You better not.”

 

Frustrated, knowing Steve was probably right, but also irritated at his own sense of helplessness, Dan tried to explain.  “Steve, don’t you see, I needed to go back and close this.  Personally.  Gregson dangled me at the end of his rope yesterday and had me completely at his mercy.  He threatened you and Aunt Clara and drove me to do things I hated.  I know we’re going to bury him at the trial,” he conceded, still striving for understanding from his friend.  “But I needed to go there and just tell him that it was over.  That we won.  It’s stupid, I know, but it was something that I needed to do.”

 

Nodding, McGarrett seemed placated and released a heavy sigh.  “I do understand, Danno.  But this was not the way to handle it.”

 

Williams needed him to understand -- to know exactly what was going on with this struggle that still haunted him.  “Walter -- he knows me too well,” he admitted, the anger now washed away with regret.  “He knew where I was vulnerable:  Aunt Clara.  You.  Jane.”  He leaned back against the wall.  “I had to see him here, behind bars again where he won’t hurt anyone else.”

 

“He won’t I promise,” McGarrett assured harshly.  “He is pau.”

 

Dan nodded, knowing McGarrett was going to push for no parole ever.  Walter would be in prison for life. 

 

“Now, let’s not have any more disobeying orders, hmm?”  The edge to the tone and the glare indicated this was not a request.

 

“Okay.”

 

McGarrett patted his arm.  “Go back to Waikiki.  Take Clara shopping.”  His expression was set and unrelenting.  “Put this behind you, please.  It’s pau.”

 

“All right,” Dan agreed with a sigh.

 

They left HPD together and parted at McGarrett’s car parked crookedly at the curb.  Steve must have rushed over here from the Palace in a big hurry.  It didn’t make him feel too privileged to be the target of his boss’ wrath.  Dan wondered who had finked him out and knew Steve had spies everywhere. 

 

Gunning the Mustang to life, he slipped it into first gear and wound his way through traffic toward the freeway.  Reveling in the bright, strong, warm Hawaiian sun in his face, the baking rays browning his arms, he felt a hundred years away from the gloomy, dreary rain and desperation of yesterday.  Rejoicing in the stereotypical splendor of paradise, he raced through the streets, feeling the power of the vehicle and the rush of wind in his hair.

 

Pondering more than just the beauty of the Island, he admitted his next course of action was necessary, if dangerous.  He didn’t want to disobey McGarrett deliberately, but he would, because he did have another piece of unfinished business to complete.

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

Typical of tropical weather, storms in Hawaii could be brief and intense.  Following the wet and drenching weather of the last twenty-four hours, on the slope of Diamond Head today the air was crisp, bright and clean.  The sun seemed brighter than ever.  The Trade Winds snappier than he could remember, blowing through the thin material of his Aloha shirt.  Gardenia and plumeria scented the wet grounds of the cemetery with fragrant wreaths of freshness on the breeze.  Multiple rainbows garnished the lush green Koolau’s in the distance.  So different from the murkiness and desolation of yesterday.

 

Literally and figuratively, a new day had dawned.  Where he had experienced fear and danger, now he appreciated the refreshed and sunny skies of hope and gratitude.  As he stopped at the cement monument, he was surprised the red paint was gone.  He had expected it to still be here, but that seemed foolish upon reflection.   It was what he remembered so clearly -- the pain had been as intense and bright as the red paint.   The terror of last night washed away as if cleaned by the tropical rain; the peril dissipated as the sun chased away the dark clouds, so this was clean and clear, too.  And like the red paint, the fears and hurt that marred his heart were gone. 

 

He had come here -- for resolution, he imagined.  He didn’t really know.  It had all been so tangled in hot emotions and anguish.  Jane’s death six years before -- Gregson’s actions yesterday.  He could not separate the vicious acts from the emotions.  What was he doing here? He sighed as he stared at the gravestone, hands in the pockets of his jeans, trying to remember details about Jane that he had not thought of in years.

 

Disturbingly, the memories were not very sharp anymore.  He could remember her face and her voice and the sparkle in her eyes.  But only snatches of moments.  And still, the confusion about his own feelings for her.  He had never sorted that out ever.  When they were dating, he did not want to think about a permanent future.  He was a Five-0 cop and that level of commitment did not go well with personal lives.  Certainly not families.  He had seen the struggle Chin had balancing it all.  His career was too important to think about changing. 

 

In some back corner of his mind, he must have assumed he and Jane would just go on; dating, having fun, seeing each other.  Maybe, all along, he didn’t think it would last.  Growing up in Kahala, he had rubbed elbows with the rich and privileged, but never been part of the elite of the millionaire class that was Jane’s world.  He never really thought about his place or his future with her.  He always wondered about how she would fit into his life at Five-0.  All he knew now was that it was over.  The doubts and uncertainties had been answered in a horrifying and vicious termination. 

 

Sensing a presence behind him, picking up the faint scent of familiar after shave, he knew who was there before he turned to greet McGarrett.  Beyond amazement at his friend’s clairvoyance, Dan shook his head.

 

“How did you know I’d be here?”

 

“Considering your mood, it seemed your next logical step,” McGarrett replied with concern.  “I didn’t want to intrude, just wanted to make sure you were okay.”

 

Dan turned back to stare at the tombstone.  “Walter sent me out here yesterday.”  He touched the stone.  “Almost like reliving it again.  The loss and confusion.” 

 

“I know.  I was on your trail.”

 

”Even here?”

 

“Yeah.  It was a terrible thing for Gregson to deface the grave and bring you here.  I’m sorry you had to go through that.”

 

The bleak memory of yesterday’s discovery here in the rain flashed in his mind like a black and white snatch of film.   Almost detached -- distant now in time and experience -- the pain then had been sharp and bright like the red paint.  Today, things were muted, diluted, altered in the perspective of the bright Hawaiian sun of a new day.  Lucid in the aftermath of relief.

 

Cleaned away, just like the red paint -- washed clear -- as the brief and intense tropical storm had washed the land clean.  The stark terror was only a memory now.  The horrible fear for his aunt’s fate no longer a factor; the recollection of those moments in the rain here now subdued.  The sharpest edge of hurt was gone, but the distaste and bitterness lingered.

 

“You didn’t mention . . . .”  Dan shrugged, realizing it was something Steve would not want to bring up.

 

“Neither did you.  I figured if you wanted to talk about it you would eventually.”

 

“Mahalo.”  Williams brushed his hand along the cold, rough stone that now showed no effects of the graffiti.  “The message here, on Jane’s gravestone, it was pretty stunning.”  His voice hoarse and tight, he drew in a deep breath, staying the bubbling emotions that threatened to spill out with the anguished memories. After a moment, in control again, he continued.  “Walter ended everything with Jane.  I’ll never know what could have been.  What might have happened.  What I really felt for her.  He took all of that away.  Yesterday, Walter wanted me to remember his power -- what he was capable of doing.  I couldn’t take any risks after this.  He was reminding me he could kill the people I loved.”

 

Offering silent sympathy, McGarrett placed strong, supportive hands on his shoulders.  The effect calmed him tremendously.  This had been a harrowing ordeal, but they had all come out of it alive.  Six years ago, Jane had not.  There was, though, nothing he could have done about that.  And maybe it was time to put it all behind him.  When he left this cemetery today, he needed to leave all the ghosts here.  Stop worrying about the unanswered questions and the unfinished story.  Look to the future.  His was solid and bright and incredible.  He had loving family and friends and a wonderful life.

 

Turning, he gripped Steve’s arm.  “Mahalo.  It’s okay.  I can leave this behind now.”

 

McGarrett was skeptical.  “No rush, Danno.  These things take time.”

 

“No, I’m fine.  Really.”  Aware his friend was not privy to his thought processes, he simply explained, “It’s over.  Walter’s escapade brought it all back, but now I realize the unresolved issues are never going to change.  I can’t let them effect me now.  Six years ago, I had to move on and I did.  Yesterday, I was so afraid Walter was going to rob me of my loved ones again.  He didn’t.  Everything’s okay.”

 

McGarrett patted his shoulder.  “You sure?”  His expression and tone still dubious.

 

“Sure.”

 

Walking away from the grave, they ambled toward the cars, the Mercury parked in front of his Mustang. 

 

McGarrett didn’t seem convinced.  To forestall more restrictions, Dan assured, “Really.  I'm fine.”  Changing the subject to get them out of the somber mood, he asked lightly, “After yesterday, should I be worried?  You’re not getting in the habit of following me, are you?” he asked again as they reached the Mustang.

 

McGarrett almost smiled. His voice was a little more than mock-stern.  “No.  Just please, obey your standing orders, Danno.  Take care of your aunt today and stay out of trouble.  I’m heading for the Ilikai.  I’ll meet you there tonight.”  With a shaka wave, he walked back to his car.

 

Dan started up the Mustang and waited until Steve’s vehicle was well ahead of him before pulling away from the curb.  He didn’t want his friend to know where he was going next.  Steve might try to stop him from making one more closure to yesterday’s events.

 

 

 

õõõõõ

 

 

At the risk of continued disobedience to his boss, Williams drove to the Palace.  Malia greeted him with a warm smile and sympathetic comments that she was happy his aunt was fine.  Stopping by Duke’s desk, Dan consulted with the only other detective in the room.  Chin and Steve were at the Ilikai going over last minute procedures for the conference tomorrow.  Dan promised he would be back on the job by then to fulfill his expected duties.

 

Finding Lukela was doing a report on the Gregson affair, Dan leafed through the notes.  In the personal articles discovered at the beach house, he spotted a folded newspaper article. 

 

 

-------------

“A new Honolulu Playhouse for Acting will be opening soon and some actors of all ages are arriving in Honolulu for the premier.  Including the renowned, veteran  thespian, Clara Williams,  Aunt of Dan Williams,  second in command of Hawaii Five-0. "

---------------

 

So, that was how Walter had figured it all out.  Good old Mr. Turner’s ploy to impress his aunt, had backfired.  Hoping Clara nor the well-intentioned Turner never found out about their inadvertent role in the kidnapping, he placed it back in the stack of evidence.  Armed with this information, it would have been an easy thing for Walter to discover Clara’s flight number and do some skullduggery behind the scenes.  Simple for a cunning criminal mind.

 

The door slammed and Dan looked up to see McGarrett.  At his boss’ stern glare, he knew he was going to hear about his latest breech of discipline.  With a silent nod, Steve motioned toward his office and Dan followed.

 

“Danno, you are supposed to be with Clara --“

 

“Steve, I am not going to sit around the Hilton watching my aunt get her hair done!  I have useful things I can do.”

 

“Danno --“

 

“You wouldn’t condemn me to following her around the mall and carrying her bags, would you, Steve?”

 

“Don’t tempt me.”  Shaking his head, seemingly accepting the inevitable, McGarrett picked up a folder and tossed it to the detective.  “Well, since you’re here, I’m going to put you to work.”

 

“I guess I deserve that,” Dan countered with mock reluctance as he crossed the room.

 

“And finish before dinner,” he warned.  “Clara will have our heads if we aren’t there on time.”

 

Turning at the door, Dan grinned.  “That’s one order I promise I won’t disobey.”

 

 

PAU