THE PACT

by

gm

 

 

January 1969

 

 

5:36PM.  Only two minutes after he had glanced at the clock before.  His desk still looked like it was under siege from the army of files and reports still needing to be completed.  Jenny Sherman sat in front of the desk, relating a summary of the messages from Senator Watanabe.  The clock now read 5:38.  Almost evening.  Traffic would be clearing now, thinning on the freeways.  Might be a good time to leave. . . .  Exit the office before the staff?  Leave before SixPM? 

 

Silence.  He looked at Jenny, who wore a bemused expression on her face.

 

“You might as well go, Steve.  No use staying around here.  You mind hasn’t been on your work all day.”

 

True.  But he wouldn’t admit it aloud.  Jenny was the only one who could get away with such a comment.  Well, her and Danno.  And that’s who he needed to see.  That was where his mind had been all day, and last night.  Not here, not on business.  On his recovering officer sleeping in a hospital room across the island.

 

Leave before Six?  Yeah.

 

“Okay.  You know where I’ll be --“

 

“I’m sure Chin or Kono can handle things tonight,” she assured.  “Now go.  And tell Danny hi for us.  We’ll drop by when he’s feeling better.”

 

Nodding, McGarrett grabbed his coat and shrugged into it as he briskly walked out.  “Sure.  See you tomorrow.”

 

Traffic was light on the Pali Highway and McGarrett’s mind drifted frequently to where it had been almost constantly since yesterday.  Over twenty-four hours had given him perspective.  Had, unfortunately, turned the urgent, near panic of yesterday to residual fear that would not be shaken.

 

Cops were in danger every day.  It was part of their profession.  But his second-in-command -- his friend -- being shot while at the hospital!  Danno was supposed to be coaching a Little League game!  Saturday -- his half-day off to go to the game.  It was obscene!  When he’d received the phone call from the hospital he was confused and shocked.  Danno, at the hospital, shot -- it was impossible!

 

Somewhere in his mind, he knew the scenario of a cop wounded was likely -- probable -- and he avoided pondering the possibilities. There had been strikes for himself, and a few heart-in-throat near misses for Williams.  How he dreaded the day when he got the report that one of his men had been hurt on the job.  In the back of his mind, he knew that one day he might get that news about Danno, and he knew it would be worse than the times Chin or Kono had been injured.  Luckily, none of his guys, until now, had received any serious gunshots or knifings or even punches.  Until yesterday.

 

On the long drive out to the windward hospital yesterday, he had received more detailed reports.  Out at a ball field in Kaneohe, a man had been injured from a bat.  The over-zealous and responsible coach -- Williams -- had accompanied the man to the hospital.  No one was sure what happened next, but there were gunshots and a barricade and Williams was down, wounded, taken hostage.

 

Arriving at the hospital the day before, Steve had worked himself up to an extreme pitch of livid dread.  What had happened?  How?  Why was his officer still a captive?  The news, when he got the report, of Dan’s stomach wound, drove him with more urgency to rescue his friend.  The weak, pain-filled voice of Danno from just down the hall -- so close but impossibly far -- had been the stuff of nightmares. 

 

Pulling up to the hospital, Steve sighed with relief as he jogged inside.  The doctor assured him Williams would be waking this evening.  While mentally he had been here all day, physically he could not afford to abandon his duties, so he had not personally seen his friend since early this morning when the young detective was still unconscious.  Duty demanded the boss of Five-0 stay in Honolulu.  The entire staff had been here yesterday, and today they were one key-man down, so work was piled up and he had been on the run constantly.  But in the back of his mind he felt guilty about that.  Because he wanted to be here.  Why didn’t he feel guilty about wanting to be out of the office?  He could do nothing for his friend here, but the feelings were still undeniable.

 

The report from the doctor, which he got while briskly striding toward Williams’ room, was encouraging.  The stomach wound -- not as serious as it could have been -- had been stitched, the bullet removed from a cracked rib where it had lodged, infection and fever under control.  Williams was responding well to the antibiotics and his continued slumber, the doctors felt, was from the general trauma of blood loss and other related conditions from the gunshot wound.

 

Entering the room, McGarrett stood by the bedside for a moment.  Gently, he touched Dan’s arm.  “Danno, time to wake up.”

 

No response.  Instantly, he was concerned, but the doctor behind him assured the patient was fine. Give him a few more hours maybe.

 

McGarrett paced, not wanting to accept waiting.  He had waited all day! Yesterday was an agonizing wait!  What was he supposed to do?  Just sit here?  Yes.  Wait.  Impatiently.  Because he needed to be here.  After the fear and drama of yesterday, the concern of today, this is where he needed to be.  Not sure what he should do, he finally settled in a chair next to the bed.  Placing a supportive hand on Dan’s cool arm, he paused -- an anomaly of quietude for the volcanic-energy of his personality.   But for Danno, he would linger.

 

The impatience gradually drifted away on the tide of reflection and speculation.  He relived the trauma.  How close he came to losing his newest, and very valued, detective.  He conjectured on what he would have done if Danno had died.  It was a close thing as it was.  But dead?  He found only a big empty pocket surrounded by pain in his mind when he thought of that.

 

“Steve?”

 

The blue eyes were blurry and blinking open and McGarrett gripped tighter on the arm he was holding.  “Danno,” he smiled.  “Good to see you back.  How are you?”

 

Inane words.  Strangely, he had not thought about what he would say.  Although he had long waited and hoped for this moment, he was at a loss to communicate.

 

“Sorry.”

 

Strange word -- strange thoughts after all that had happened.  The unexpected comment confused him.  “For what?”

 

“I could have killed him.  I had my .22.  I was a coward.”

 

Steve swallowed the huge lump in his throat.  The guilt was unexpected, as was the commentary.  AS were his feelings of overwhelming refute, affection, defense.  “You are the bravest man I know.  You were bleeding to death and you didn’t take an innocent, sick life.”  He felt shaky remembering the ordeal so clearly.  This was not what he had in mind as a reunion conversation. He wasn’t sure what he expected, but not this.  Guilt was so inappropriate -- except to Williams -- he ruefully assessed.  “I don’t want you to think you have failed in any way.  Understood?”  It was gruffer than he wanted, but recognized the raw, harsh tone in himself as anger at the situation -- irritation that his officer could be so twisted with an inaccurate impression of his bravery.  “Understood?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

You couldn’t pay for innocence like that and he was glad Williams still retained it, but sadly, he would lose it soon enough -- the longer he worked for Five-0.  Better than losing his life, like he almost did yesterday.

 

 

=====

 

In his delirious state, Auston had asked about his 'Lieutenant'.  The fellow soldier he imagined Danno to be -- the one he had tried desperately to 'protect' here in the hospital -- out on that miserable hill in Vietnam.  In reality, the CO had not made it.

 

It nearly killed him to make the pronouncement.  "He's dead, mac," McGarrett gruffed agonizingly.

 

It was smart to stick to reality.  Any little blip in the way Auston remembered things could set him off again.  As Steve looked at Danno's bloodied, still form, he could not risk any more upsets from the deranged corporal.  He just had to pray his words were not prophetic for Williams.

 

The instant an orderly arrived to take charge of Corporal Auston, McGarrett crawled over to the nearby Williams.  Checking for a pulse himself, despite the doctor already attending Danny, Steve was startled at the cold skin beaded with sweat.  He gently called to his young detective, but the wounded officer was out. 

 

While the doctors worked to staunch the blood flow and prepare him for transport to the OR, Steve assessed the damage.  Abdominal wound.  Gut shot.  The physician initially reported Danno was going to make it, but now Steve wasn’t so sure.  Danno had been bleeding out for a long time and his temperature, his death-like pallor frightened the veteran cop.  Was he really going to live?

 

Slipping a hand under Dan’s neck, he focused only on his friend.  Not the uncertain future, not the harrowing past.  Gently he patted Dan’s face with a shaky hand.

 

“Danno?”

 

He needed a confirmation that Danno was going to come out of this alive.  Some kind of sign.  A doctor’s guesses weren’t good enough.  After all the anguished hours of fighting for this moment, of finally achieving the goal -- now holding onto his friend -- he selfishly needed this.

 

“Danno?”

 

In the horrible crisis, he learned a measure of what a vacuum there would be in his life if he lost Danno.  This young, brash, skilled officer had evolved into something of a kid brother in his eyes.  Nearly insane with panic, Steve had ripped into personnel here at the hospital -- officers, military, colleagues -- anyone who tried reason, logic or blockading his efforts to rescue his friend.  He wanted to tear apart anything and anyone who got in his way.  Cooler heads had prevailed.  Luckily for all of them -- for Danno -- for him -- they were right.  Despite the delays and agonizing hours, Williams was alive.  Humbled by the power of terror, Steve longed to talk to his friend and validate the suffering on all sides -- be certainly assured the ordeal was over.

 

Removing his army helmet, Steve bent low and tried once more to call his friend out of unconsciousness.  Then someone touched his arm and reported it was time to move the patient.  Knowing Williams could not feel it, he patted Dan’s shoulder, offered reassuring words of hope and support, then helped lift the wounded detective onto a gurney.

 

Disappointed, intensely alone, agonizingly uncertain, he stood there in the wrecked hospital room, watching as his friend disappear behind closed doors.

 

=====

 

The guilt-ridden comment made Steve wonder what it had been like for Danno those long, painful hours.  Trapped with a crazy, unwilling to hurt the unbalanced person even to save his own life.  Hoping the police outside that room could rescue him in time. 

 

“It must have been pretty tough,” Steve opened, hoping to hear details he could not ask for.  How much would the stoic young man who wanted to live up to impossible expectations feel about revealing what it was really like?  “Must have seemed like a long time.”  Maybe even longer than what it seemed like for Steve.

 

“Yeah.  But I knew you would come for me,” he quietly admitted.

 

McGarrett could have taken that as lip service, but he clearly read the familiar sincerity of his colleague.   Danno meant it.  That humbled him more than anything he had seen or felt yesterday.  “I tried everything I could,” he replied simply after clearing the lump from his throat. 

 

He didn’t want to discuss the details now.  Plenty of time later, if Danno wanted to know.  How could he avoid it?  McGarrett’s stunt of the helicopter arrival made the evening news and the front page -- almost eclipsing the hostage drama itself.  Steve didn’t like that -- eschewing the celebrity status everyone in the media in Hawaii tried to push him into.  The focus here was that Danno was alive and would recover.

 

“I had a lot of time to think,” Dan quietly began.  “You guys are my ohana,” he spoke plainly.

 

Steve’s throat tightened with emotion.

 

“But I have an aunt back east.  I don’t see her as much as I’d like to, but we’re kind of close.  Not like my hanai ohana here, she’s a real relative.”

 

Only able to nod, McGarrett listened to the intent and obviously important message.

 

“If something happens to me -- if I’m killed --“

 

“Danno,” he snapped out instinctively.  “Nothing is going to happen to you.”  He tried a lopsided, nervous smile, but inside his nerves felt like poi.  This was too soon after the all-too-nearly-fatal crisis to be talking this nonsense.  “You’re going to inherit Five-0 from me someday,” he joked hoarsely, heart twisting at the emotions this serious talk exposed.  Too soon after it almost came true.

 

“Seriously --“

 

“I am serious.”

 

Williams offered a little smile of satisfaction, but would not be deterred.  “Steve, if it does happen,” he continued, undaunted, “please will you personally call Aunt Clara and break it to her easy?  I’d really appreciate that it would come from you.”

 

Nodding, McGarrett wanted to rage out at his foolishly naive friend, and at the same time release the tears pushing at the back of his eyes.  How could such an idealist survive as a cop?  Maybe it was the innocence left inside his friend that made him such a good cop.  Maybe the freshness of the attitude was right and McGarrett -- the tough-as-nails veteran was the one who needed to reassess his thinking.  This was practical.  This is something he would normally applaud.  It just seemed too cold and too real after yesterday.  He didn’t want to think about this ever again in his career.  He wanted to believe Danno would continue in Five-0 for another few decades and never get another scratch.  That Williams WOULD inherit the kingdom from McGarrett like an heir apparent in a master plan. 

 

Ever pragmatic, Steve knew that might not even happen.  Danno, tragically, could be right.  A cop’s life was living on the edge of danger every day.  They might never be able to have a conversation like this again -- either one of them.  Suddenly, as sentimental and distasteful as the conversation had turned, it was right.

 

Matching the sober tone of the conversation, Steve nodded.  “Sure, Danno.  And  -- uh -- if something serious happens to me, I’m asking you to do the same and call Mary Ann.”

 

With an expression reflecting he had just been entrusted with the Holy Grail, Dan nodded.  “I promise.”

 

Nodding, Steve patted his hand, and Dan took it in a weak handshake.  With both hands, Steve held onto his friend’s for a moment, relieved beyond words that he had not been forced to make any personal calls yesterday.  Hoping he would never, ever have to make one back east to Aunt Clara ever in his career, he offered a tired grin.

 

“Now, no more talk about somber pacts, all right, aikane?”

 

“Okay.”  Weary with the brief exchange, Williams closed his eyes.  “Hey,” he sighed,  did our guys win the game yesterday?”

 

McGarrett chuckled.  It had been the last thing on his mind.   “We did, coach,” he whispered, knowing his friend was already asleep.  “We won the whole ball game.”

 

 

PAU