THE STALKING WRAITH

story idea by KS

written by GM

 

PG-13 FOR VIOLENCE AND INTENSITY

 

 

 

spring of 1976

 

 

"Therefore, your honor, because of the prosecution's lack of evidence, I move to dismiss the charges against my client."

 

Under his breath, Steve McGarrett growled, earning an amused, knowing look from Dan Williams beside him.  Managing to wrestle his irritation into more subdued reactions, Steve ground his teeth.  What he wanted to do was stand up and tell the judge to ignore this smarmy defense attorney. 

 

The client in question, Dave Belden – a wealthy boat yard owner -- had ordered the murders of two people in Hawaii.  One was dead, the other barely recovered from wounds received from Belden's hit man.  No way was McGarrett going to let Belden get away with murder.  There was little he could do now, of course.  He had gathered solid evidence, offered proof of the crimes and Belden's connections to them.  Now he had to count on the judge to accept those facts over the doubts that the defense council was trying to throw out to cloud the issue.

 

"Your Honor," John Manicote countered, "the Prosecution has detailed evidence --"

 

"Supposition," the defense lawyer corrected."

 

"Gentlemen!" the judge halted with a stern tone and a glare to both attorneys.  "This is a preliminary hearing, not a university debate.  Since it is late Friday morning, I do not intend for this argument to continue through the weekend.  This hearing will resume on Monday afternoon.  The Prosecution's motion for no bail is rejected.  Mr. Belden will be granted bail."  The gavel struck the wood with a mighty crack in the still courtroom, and the official dismissed the gathering.

 

A triumphant David Belden leered at McGarrett as he walked past.  The chief of Five-0 allowed the condescending criminal to pass without comment.  What was there to say?  Belden could skip the country now that he was on bail.  He could have money stashed in any number of Asian or Swiss accounts and in the morning be on a plane to anywhere in the world. So much for all their hard work on this case.

 

"Steve, I did my best," Manicote sighed as he joined the two detectives.  "We didn't really expect it to go any other way, did we?"

 

Drawing Judge Palmer had been "a raw deal", to quote Danny Williams when they had heard who the presiding judge would be for this case.  Palmer was soft on law enforcement and liberal to criminals, it seemed, although his platform was what he called constitutional law. 

 

"I know, John.  "We'll just have to hope Belden feels over confident and stays in town for the trial."

 

"I hope you're right," Manicote offered. 

 

In the corridor, the DA shook hands with the officers and turned toward the back of the building.  McGarrett and Williams went out the front and were mired in the media spectacle on the steps of the courthouse.  Belden was smiling and laughing with reporters as he gave his version of being persecuted, not prosecuted, by McGarrett and the DA. 

 

The officers tried to avoid the crush, but Belden pointed them out to the rabid journalists and the mob crowded around the detectives. Belden taunted the Five-0 officers with being sore losers and harboring a vendetta against him. 

 

The look on Williams' face indicated he would like to respond to that, and prompting McGarrett to pushed his younger colleague through the bodies and down the steps before impulsive irritation took control of his temper.

 

Walking briskly across the courthouse driveway, they skirted the imposing King Kamehameha statue and waited for the traffic to thin on King Street. Several reporters followed and shot questions at Steve, but received no more than an angry glare. 

 

McGarrett fumed, snapping his fingers impatiently, irritated he had chosen to walk across the street from the Palace.  If they had been in his car they would have been at the office by now.  They would have had more protection against the irritating journalists -- like rolling up windows and speeding away!  Pacing impatiently, he hadn’t noted how busy this street could be when he was in his car!

 

“So much for the morning stroll, huh?”

 

Williams’ ironic, wry comment was also irritating to Steve.  B, but when he glanced at his friend’s amused expression, he relented and grudgingly sighed.

 

“Yeah. At least with wheels we have a fast get-away.”

 

Dan shot a glance at the reporters who still lingered nearby, but didn’t dare approach the wrathful head of Five-0.  “I think you’ve burned them enough.  They’re not going to get too close now.”

 

There was no light or real intersection at this junction.  The driveway of the Palace and the circular turnout around the statue were located not-quite-across from each other on the busy four-lane street.  They had to wait for a break in the busy one-way traffic.  When McGarrett spotted the next opening between cars, he tapped Dan on the arm and jogged across. 

 

On the Palace grounds, he slowed to a rapid pace, appreciating the chance to get a little exercise.  The adrenalin helped wash away the bitter taste of Belden’s victory and his seemingly constant battle with the media.  Why did the press always seem to taunt or even persecute the cops, but found high profile – rich – criminals intriguing and news worthy?

 

Striding up the broad front steps of the old building, McGarrett finally felt enough distance had passed – physically and emotionally – that he could let the infuriating issue of Dave Belden slide into the backdrop of his attention.  There were other matters for Five-0 to deal with.

 

“Any word from your informant on the knifings, yet?”

 

“No,” Dan supplied as he jogged up the worn stairs to the door, rushing in behind McGarrett and keeping pace up the dark, polished koa steps to the second floor.  “If I don’t hear from him by lunch time I’ll run down to Waikiki and see if I can find him.”

 

Two muggings with tourists receiving knife injuries from the assailant were serious business when occurring in the vacation-maze of Waikiki.  After the second attack, it had landed in Five-0’s jurisdiction.  The Chamber of Commerce was already calling him, afraid this was a serial crime and demanding protection of the visitors who supplied Hawaii with valuable revenue.

 

“I’m still helping Chin with that search for the FBI fugitive -–“

 

“Let Duke work on that, Danno.  I want you on this mugger case full time.  As soon as I’m done with that mess on the Big Island, I’ll help you out.”

 

Protesters near the volcano fields in the Ka’u district of the Big Island were harassing, even sabotaging, a developer clearing land for a housing tract.  Again, Five-0 was forced to deal with economics and politics –- necessary evils  -- that were part of modern law enforcement.   Certainly a part of the fabric of Hawaii.

 

As they reached the door to the office, he reminded, “Duke is working with HPD on the corruption charges against Officer Olina in Makaha.”

 

As if they weren’t over stressed already -- an HPD officer was being accused of extortion by some business people in the small surf town of Makaha on the leeward coast.  Five-0 normally juggled several cases at once, pulling in help from HPD frequently.  Right now, they seemed to be close to overwhelmed.  McGarrett tried to oversee every case and be involved in some aspect and degree with all, but that, of course, that would be impossible.  So, he delegated (not his best trait) and figuratively looked over the shoulders of his officers.

 

“Any messages?” McGarrett asked his secretary, Jenny Sherman, as he barely paused at her desk.”

 

She handed him a few memos and mail. Williams went to his cubicle and picked up the phone.  McGarrett sorted through the notes, prioritizing; determining whom he should call back; and the urgency of each message.  The post contained a few of the usual official correspondents from other city or government agencies.  At one envelope, he stopped in his tracks, halting just short of his desk.

 

On a smudged, small white envelope, one that might contain an invitation or a thank you card, was his name, scrawled in bold print.

 

______________________

Mr. Steve McGARRETT

Head of Hawaii FiVE-0

Iolani PAlace

HonOLUlu, Hawaii

_________________________

 

 

Mr. Steve McGarrett. 

 

He reacted immediately to the unusual scribble.  Mostly, his internal alert responded to the bold printing of his name.  Only seconds later, his mind caught up with his instincts and he knew why the appearance of the print was so startling.  A year ago, he and his team had dealt with a crazed murderer who sent him messages about his crimes.  Messages that looked just like this.

 

Holding the post at the corner, he continued to his desk then snapped the intercom on, ordering Jenny to get Che up to his office immediately.  The lab chief was to bring his fingerprint kit.  Then he ordered Danno in. A moment later, Williams was standing at his desk, observing the envelope.

 

“Remind you of anything?”

 

Williams’ eyebrows raised, then his brow knitted.  “Yeah.  Last year.  The copycat murderer.  He addressed letters to you just like that.”

 

“Yeah.  Exactly,” Steve agreed, snapping his fingers.

 

“Eddie what’s-his-name.  Eddie’s dead,” Dan concluded.  “So who’s sending you this?”

 

“Exactly!” 

 

He studied the white paper and noted there were smudges that could be fingerprints.  The stamp was crooked, as if the person sending it was in a hurry.  No return address.

 

Perhaps he was over reacting, but the note was too much of a coincidence to not be taken seriously right from the start.  Mindful that Che Fong had not yet dusted it for prints, McGarrett carefully opened it, laying flat the torn-off sheet of notebook paper inside.

 

Aloud, he read, McGarrett it is good your father was killed the way he was –“

 

Drawing in a deep breath, he automatically read on, even as he felt his voice ground to a hoarse rasp. 

 

“He deserved to be killed that way.” 

 

Shock and outrage surged through McGarrett’s system like a flood.  The horrible misery, the old, gut-wrenching anguish washed through him like an evil black tide.  The raw emotions of so many years ago, when he was a kid, when he learned his father had been killed, returned.  It all slammed into his memory:  The visions of his mother and sister at the graveside. The policeman who came to their door to deliver the news of his father’s death.  The cold feeling of abandonment that had never really receded, but left a lasting impression in the sands of his past.

 

Hands shaking, he dropped the note and leaned on his desk.  Like a haze on his mind, the terrible mood of helpless grief and frustrated rage rippled along his thoughts, leaving him physically weak and twisting his stomach into knots. After all this time, scratching the surface of this scarred wound could draw intense reaction.  He was helpless to suppress the initial emotions, and it took several moments for him to stabilize.

 

Dan whipped around to stand beside him, holding onto his arm.  “Are you okay?”

 

McGarrett nodded, but his drained face must have indicated otherwise, because Danno didn’t budge.  After a moment, he waved his friend off and Dan released his hold, but yet remained close.

 

Williams’ indignation was hot. “Who would send this?”

 

In response to his colleague’s incredulous question, McGarrett could only shake his head, still not fully comprehending the malicious message.  Fighting, and conquering, tangled emotions, he stared at Williams for a moment.  Danno, reading the note himself, was anxiously concerned.  His eyes were filled with compassion, which  Steve appreciated, but could not acknowledge. 

 

“Steve, are you all right?”

 

“I don’t know.”  He breathed deeply.  “It’s a crank,” he hoarsely decided, shaking his head.  “But, still . . . I can’t believe it.  Why would anyone -- it’s sick!”

 

“Yeah, really sick,” Dan agreed.  “And who would know about your father’s death anyway?  I mean, how he died.”

 

The question was like a cold splash of water in his face.  He stared at his friend for a moment.  “Yeah.  Who would know?”

 

“That’s not something you talk about.  And why would they want to use it against you?”

 

Typically, Williams had acted in one of his most valuable roles -- a calming voice of clarity in the midst of disorder.  And displaying another strong trait, Danno had a real talent for cutting through the confusion and coming up with brilliant comments to point them in the right direction.  He had a skill for being soothingly reasonable in counterpoint to Steve’s hot and impassioned extremes.

 

“Aside from rattling me, what purpose does it serve?” he asked rhetorically, knowing there could be a thousand reasons or none at all.  Madness and evil sometimes had no reason or pattern.  “I don’t understand . . . . ”

 

As if reading his mind of the possibilities, Williams countered, “It’s just some wacko out to hassle you.”

 

“Well, he sure knew what button to push, didn’t he?” Steve sighed, glaring at the malevolent message. 

 

Few things could strike at his heart, but this one sliced through like a blade.  In his profession, he had to be alert for the psycho fringe that tried various agitations -- everything from false confessions to staking out his favorite haunts to get his picture. Five-0 had its share of crank calls and bogus informants, but this was beyond all of the previous assaults.

 

McGarrett shoved the note around with the end of a pencil and reread the message, shivering with subsurface chills that left him cold inside.  His father had died tragically, the victim of a hit and run accident.  The driver – a fleeing criminal. 

 

At the age of thirteen, as Steve stood at the gravesite, watching the men lower his father’s casket, and holding his mother’s hand, he had experienced a life-defining moment.  He knew his destiny, his calling in life, would be to bring to justice as many criminals as he could.  He became a crusader, so this horrible anguish could be limited.  Self-appointed as a protector and advocate, he vowed many other young people would not have to grow up too fast; would not have to become the man of the family at an age when they should have been kids.  Not like his forced maturity -- when he should have been more concerned about baseball scores rather than taking care of his grieving mother and sister.

 

Making it into the Naval Academy had been part of the plan.  Serving his country in the intelligence division of the Navy, he combined his lifelong love of the sea, and his quest to deliver justice.  When the opportunity to head Five-0 came to him, it was the perfect opportunity to return to the roots of the pledge he had made at thirteen -- to apprehend and put away criminals.

 

Staring at the sloppy, scrawled words, he wondered at the power they had so many years after his father’s death.  Danno was right, he told few people about his past; the intimate details of his triumphs or tragedies.  How did some malevolent person find out?  Who was it that would send something so painful?

 

Williams used the eraser of a pencil to point at the edge of the paper.  “Look, there are smudges here.  And the writing, the printing, actually, is – I don’t know – messy and uneven.  Like a kid did this.  Someone sloppy and in a hurry.”

 

With a nod, McGarrett acknowledged the assessment, using Dan’s calm, centered logic to bring him out of the emotional reaction and to think more like a cop.  Deduce and analyze, he told himself, like Williams was doing.  Get past the raw feelings breaking the surface and treat this like any other case.  Easier said than done, but he worked on it, following the comments as the younger detective evaluated the paper, the writing, the dirty appearance of the note and the envelope.  By the time the observations concluded, McGarrett’s objectivity had returned.

 

“Despite the content, you’re right, Danno, this looks like a kid’s prank.”

 

“Arrest any of my Little League ball players lately for spitting on the sidewalk?”

 

In his throat, McGarrett groaned at the dismal attempt at humor, but when he glanced at his friend’s wry expression, he surrendered the tug of a grin.  Dan really did come up with some awful jokes, but they always served the main purpose – to break the tension and ease their focus in a more positive direction.

 

“Look,” Williams pointed out as he tapped the paper.  “We get a lot of harassment.  This is probably nothing.  There are no details about your father’s death.  Nothing specific.  Maybe you did something to this kid’s dad and this is a way of striking back at your authority.”

 

Not willing yet to let go of the personal assault, Steve had to admit there was sound reason behind the guess.  The fundamental investigative rules still applied, but how did you assign motive, opportunity and means to something like this?  Danno probably was close on the motive.  And any kid, even at a young age, could figure out how to mail a poison-pen letter.  Even a shot-in-the-dark generalization about his father’s death would hit too close to home.  It did sound a lot like someone blowing off steam -- a clumsy, blunt attack that was nonetheless all too stinging and effective.

 

Was he trying to invent malicious intent and sinister conspiracies behind everything that happened at these offices?  Sometimes, criminal life was simple and commonplace.  Maybe that was all this was.  Beyond the vile content, this was an amateurish attempt to hurt him, get him mad.  It worked. 

 

Che Fong, the lab chief, entered, and McGarrett tersely explained he wanted the standard procedure of investigation run on the envelope and letter.  It was not a top priority, he finished, glancing at Williams to assure his friend his initial emotional and distraught effect had been an overreaction. 

 

Chin Ho Kelly entered with a negative report on his efforts to apprehend the FBI fugitive.  McGarrett urged him to keep checking his informants, and ordered Dan to keep working on the mugger case.  He had to conclude some loose ends before leaving in two hours for Hilo.

 

 

*****

 

After the office was empty and quiet, instead of settling in and attacking the rest of the mail, he moved to the window and studied the tranquil setting of the Palace grounds.  Nerves gradually settling back to normal within the stream of routine police work, he still felt disturbed by the wounding words that struck at his heart like sharpened weapons.  Sometimes the pen was mightier than the sword.  In this case, while the blows to his psyche were not fatal, they managed to resurrect a long-resting wraith.  The spectre of his father’s death could still deeply haunt him, and even now, in the rays of the warm Hawaiian sun, he felt chilled by the shadow of a loss that might never leave him.

 

 

*****

 

 

The drive to Honolulu International passed with discussion of the current investigations and routine matters on the calendar for the next week.  McGarrett gave little thought to the brilliant blue sky, the breeze blowing off the surf, the billowy clouds dancing with the rays of the warm tropical sun.  Instead, he speculated about his mission in Hilo.  He guessing it might take up the whole weekend, but hoped it did not.  Reassuring, Williams promised to take care of everything on the home front.  Typical conversation, but always, in the back of his mind, Steve could not release the evocative spectre of the vile note and the horrible declarations about his father’s death.

 

“Want to talk about it?”

 

Normally, he was not a readable person, but Danno knew him well. 

 

“Not much to say.”

 

“I’ll keep on top of the lab reports and find out --“

 

“You have enough to worry about besides a hate letter, Danno.”

 

Dan’s shrug was as casual as his tone.  “You know, in my spare time.  Speaking of which, if you have a chance, why don’t you stay over there and get in some relaxation.  Big Island’s a great place to kick back.”

 

“It’s not very likely I’ll have spare time,” Steve scoffed.

 

“Just in case.  This letter was kind of disconcerting.  We’ve been under a lot of pressure.  Maybe a drive up to Rainbow Falls will help.”

 

“In the middle of a demonstration, a fugitive hunt, an HPD inquiry and a serial mugger, you want me to take time off?”  The sharply incredulous demand was harsher than he intended.  At Williams’ flinch, he breathed out a heavy sigh.  “Sorry, Danno.  Guess I could use a little Island-paradise magic, but I can’t afford to now.”  Williams only nodded, clearly not happy with the response.  “Mahalo, anyway.”  Williams was about to debate, and he cut him off.  “But I’ll see what the schedule brings,” he compromised, wanting to end their conversation on a positive, friendly tone.  “If I can squeeze in a few spare minutes, I’m sure you’ll have some recommendations.”

 

Smiling, Williams offered a few tips like a pro tour guide.  The tension eased, but McGarrett’s attention was still back in the office.  Still, in his mind’s eye, reading the acrid words that assaulted the old scars of his memory.

 

 

*****

 

 

Sunday afternoon offered a brief respite with his business in Hilo.  Despite his expectations, McGarrett took Dan’s advice and spent a few aimless hours in solitary exploration on the Big Island.  With nothing vital to do on the case, but still obliged to remain near Hilo, he drove over to Rainbow Falls and up the windward coast of the scenic Hawaii to treat himself to some chocolate covered macadamia nuts fresh from the farm store in Honokaa.

 

During the nights he managed little sleep because of the disturbing and unsettling dreams of the past plaguing him.  His father’s ghost emerged several times in his nightmares, always indistinct and somehow condemning; so disturbing he could hardly sleep.  Plagued by guilt and old, emotional wounds, the recurring questions that would not dissipate with the light of day, were: Why would someone taunt him about his father’s murder after all these years?  And who hated him so much to torment him in such a cruel fashion?  

 

Monday afternoon, the mission to the Big Island concluded unsatisfactorily.  Overall, he proved little help to the developer, and accumulated fatigue and stress distracted him.  Convincing part of his mind the unsettled feelings were from being away from home and his own bed -- not the poison-pen letter -- he knew the letter still preyed on his mind like a poignant spectre.

 

He did manage to help Hilo PD enough to arrest one ringleader of the protesters.  They asked him to stay on an extra few days in the hopes his presence would discourage the rest of the activists, which he declined.  A delay in flight times gave him some extra time.  Just before heading to the airport, he took the opportunity to visit a rainforest south of Hilo and contemplate primordial nature.  It helped center him, focus his priorities, and most importantly, push the past securely behind him.

 

Returning home on a late flight, he spent the night, not at the office, but relaxing at home, waiting until the next morning to tackle reports and face the routine.  While he was not in a settled state of mind enough to read or paint, he sat on his lanai and listened to the sounds of traffic and planes; watched the lights of the dinner cruise ships floating off shore of Waikiki.

 

The uncharacteristic mini-vacation on the Big Island -- and even in his apartment -- was a small victory that most normal people would have indulged in, but not McGarrett.  Not usually.  Williams’ urgings before he left, however, and several times over the phone, had been accurate.  Steve did need a little bit of relaxation before starting the next stressful week.  Danno assured everything was under control in Honolulu, and he wouldn’t give Steve any peace if he returned home too early.

 

The rare opportunity to appreciate Island life was a renewal, and Tuesday morning, when McGarrett arrived at the office, he felt refreshed and invigorated, ready to face whatever challenge hit Five-0 this week.

 

Having spotted Williams’ LTD in the parking lot, Steve entered the office, scooped up the mail under the door, expecting to see his second-in-command hard at work.  If Danno arrived before the mail, he was hot on a case.  His deductions proved accurate when he peeked into Williams’ cubicle and saw the younger man, head on the desk, sound asleep.

 

Chuckling, McGarrett moved in to the office as a startled Williams bolted up, not yet awake, but instinctively trying to cover for the lapse.

 

“You’re here too late or too early, Danno,” McGarrett smiled.  “I’m guessing late.”

 

Rubbing his face, Williams nodded, covering a yawn. 

 

“You’re almost making me feel guilty about my little excursion in Hilo.”

 

“Don’t,” he yawned again.  “I got a break on that Waikiki mugger last night.”

 

“Not good enough,” the boss countered, waving the paper he had in his hand.  “Headlines say he struck again last night.  At the Hawaiian Hilton this time.”

 

“Yeah.  I know.  The manager badgered me about it the whole time I was there.  So I came back here and tried working out a pattern . . . .” his voice faded as he noted McGarrett’s amusement.  “But you’d probably like to settle in before you hear the boring details.  The bottom line is, I didn’t catch him.”

 

“You will,” he countered certainly.  “Sooner would be better than later.”

 

Checking the mail on the way to his desk, McGarrett stopped when he came to an envelope with familiar, boldly scrawled writing. 

 

_______________________

Mr. Steve McGarrett

Five-0

HoNoluLu

________________________

 

 

“Danno!”

 

Williams joined him and studied the envelope.  “Your poison-pen fan strikes again,” was his grim, irritated comment.  “Shall I take it down to the lab?”

 

He reached for it and McGarrett took it out of his grasp.  The offer was too quick, too intent.  “I can take it,” he declared sharply, all too aware of what his colleague was thinking.  Dan was trying to protect him and he did not need the shielding from a mental case, even though he appreciated the concern.  “This is a psycho, Danno, nothing more.  I can handle it.”

 

For a moment their eyes met, each perfectly understanding the messages – the varying levels of distress for varying reasons.  Williams was the one to ease the tension by releasing a slight sigh.

 

“I know.  But, I could take care of it for you.”

 

With a nod, he silently thanked his friend, then patted him on the shoulder.  “Let’s go down to the basement and see what Che can tell us.”

 

It had been a routine procedure to run the letter through the lab.  Even if it was a crank, it could be considered a crime to interfere with a police officer’s ability to perform his duties.

 

The lab report offered no substantial leads. Fingerprints all over the letter and the envelope, presumably the author’s, but they were small.  Like a child’s prints. And no prints on record matched the petite finger marks.

 

The envelope was dusted for prints and several small prints and a few normal sized ones turned up.  Che Fong also pointed out dark smudges near the flap.  It looked like dirt to the detectives, but the lab chief had a suspicion it was something else. 

 

Carefully opening the envelope, he pulled a note out with tweezers and opened it with gloved hands.  There were more smudges on the paper.

 

“Blood?” McGarrett guessed.

 

“I think so,” responded Fong.

 

“As if he cut his finger and just let it bleed,” Williams thought, his lip curling with distaste.  “Look at the pattern of the smudges.”

 

“Right.”

 

“No,” Dan corrected himself.  Tracking with his finger, he demonstrated in the air, as if writing.  “No.  This guy cut his hand, or has a cut on his right hand.  And just kept writing.  Yuck.”

 

“Yes, he’s right handed,” Che confirmed.  “You can tell from the slant of the letters.  And some of the words are smeared with slight amounts of blood.  As if a small cut on the edge of his hand was bleeding.  No way to be sure if that was intentional.  Leaving the blood, I mean.”

 

“Maybe he was so focused on his mission that he didn’t realize he was bleeding.”

 

When I get it under the microscope I can tell you more.  And I might have enough of a sample to give you a blood type.”

 

The clinical analysis was lost on McGarrett. He had tuned out the evidence commentary and focused on the content.  He could not help himself.  The message was as damning as the first and while the sharpness of surprise was not there, the cutting hurt of the words still stung him.

 

____________________________

your father deserves To die

just likE you will die

yoU will get it

your blooD

____________________________

 

 

“I think we should take this seriously.” Grim-toned, Williams, at his shoulder, studied the note.

 

“Let’s see what Che finds,” he noncommittally responded and left the room. 

 

Dan jogged to catch up with him in the hall.  “This sicko is sending you blood smeared letters.  I think we need to take a close look –“

 

“Danno, we’ve got the lab on it.  You can make some calls to the post office, do some routine investigation, but don’t spend too much time on this.”  Sighing, recalling the words again, he strove for logic over emotion.  “This is disjointed and sloppy – like a kid.  Let’s not make more out of it than we need to.”

 

Disconcerted by Dan’s skeptical look – obviously not buying the bravado -- Steve trotted up the stairs, in a hurry to return to his office.  Back to the commonplace business of solving crimes – his refuge in work.  He did not consider this a major case, although it hit his nerves with a pain he would never admit even to his closest friend. 

 

“You have a lot of enemies, Steve –“

 

“And the ones who are really out to get me are not going to advertise, Danno,” he shot back as they entered the side door of the Five-0 wing and coursed through the labyrinth of corridors to their main office. 

 

Duke Lukela, Chin Ho Kelly and Jenny Sherman were at their desks and McGarrett acknowledged them, sustaining his forward, brisk surge through the office and to his own private domain.  Williams tagged at his heels.

 

“Psychos can be dangerous.”

 

“And I’ll watch out,” he promised as he slid into his chair and picked up the rest of the mail.  Dan’s hovering apprehension could not be ignored, but he tried to mitigate the effect the letter had on him, hoping to calm his associate.  “This is personal, yes, Danno, I know.  Believe me.  Someone out there is holding a big grudge against me.  We’re doing what we can, but I will not divert the focus of Five-0 for a personal irritation like this!  It’s harassment, nothing more.”

 

“Hopefully,” was Williams’ dark reply.  “I don’t like it.”

 

“Neither do I.”

 

After Dan left, Steve fumed, suppressing the anger and distress smoldering within.  He didn’t like the idea of being hated by some unseen force no matter how young or innocuous.  What he despised was using his pain from his father’s death to strike at his heart.  He could never reveal how affective that grief was to him.

 

 

*****

 

With Duke back from his case with his corruption investigation this morning, he was now helping Kelly track the FBI fugitive, Sharp.  McGarrett was getting pressure from the governor to step up the investigation, and some FBI agents from Washington were flying in to help the small local office supplement Five-0’s efforts.  McGarrett read that as intruding on his turf – even though it was a Federal matter – and was irritated at the edict.  All of Wednesday was spent tracking leads with the local FBI chief, but they were no further along than they had been last week.

 

This morning he had taken time out to attend Dave Belden’s preliminary hearing.  Belden was supposedly sick and could not attend yesterday’s scheduled hearing.  This morning, again, the hearing was postponed.  McGarrett arranged for HPD to provide some loose surveillance on Belden.  Too many cases already had Five-0 swamped.

 

Friday he was scheduled to testify in the trial of the notorious cat-burglar Bordeaux.  He urged Lukela and Kelly to hurry up and find the counterfeiter Sharp.  He didn’t want to have to deal with this any more.

 

Yesterday morning, just as he had this morning, he had scanned the mail, relieved to find no hate letter. 

Now sunset, the office was quiet, with only he and Williams left.  He wondered if he should order some Chinese food to be delivered, or if they should make a clean break and go out to a restaurant.  He suspected Williams lingered only because he did.  Danno was a little protective since the hate letters, but McGarrett felt no sense of heightened danger.  Just anger.  The pain had receded in the last few days.  The horrible ache of remember hurt.  The ghostly wraith of his father’s violent death thinned.

 

Fatigued from the long day of Five-0 work and the emotional weight of the threats, McGarrett was too weary to continue.  He needed a break.  Decisively, he donned his shoulder holster, gun and jacket, then strode out to Williams’ cubicle.

 

“Come on, Danno!”  He slapped the wood of the doorframe, startling the younger detective.  “Let’s go get something to eat.”

 

Williams rubbed his eyes and nodded.  “Great idea.  If I see any more lines I’ll go blind.”

 

When they reached the parking lot, Dan asked, “Your car or mine?” Suddenly he stopped next to the Mercury.  “What’s that smell?”

 

McGarrett, at the driver’s door of his car, sniffed.   “Blood.”  In the lamplight, the hood of the car was unusually glistening.  And he spotted a pool of something on the ground near his foot.  “Blood,” he repeated tightly.  “On my car.”

 

Crouching down, he angled to see the hood from a new vantage point. It seemed most of the hood and windshield were covered – not smeared – but splashed – with blood.

 

Gulping down a knot of nausea, he backed up, studying the car.  Williams joined him on his side, revolver in hand.

 

“Call for a lab team, Danno.”

 

The detective hesitated, and only assured Steve was all right, did Dan move to his LTD and radio in for back up and a crime team.  All the while, both of them scanned the dark, not seemingly sinister shapes of tall trees and deep shadows surround the Palace.  Steve’s skin crawled with chills as he shivered with apprehension.  While there was no tell-tail sign, he FELT he was being watched.  Whoever did this was out there observing – enjoying the macabre spectacle.

 

He turned the revulsion into anger, then into resolve.  He continually insisted this was a minor annoyance,.  But he could not admit, not even to Danno, how much this hurt him right down to the inner core of his heart.  Someone hated him enough to bring his past into the picture.  Figuratively, this could be his father’s blood – splashed all over the car of the hit and run criminal.

 

Why was someone doing this to him?

 

 

*****

 

It wasn’t often that the headquarters of the state police became a crime scene.  So it was with a surreal mixture of anger and agitation that McGarrett watched his team work literally in the shadow of his office.

 

Darkness covered the ancient grounds like a velvet sheet of tropical splendor.  The caressing Trade Winds fluttered through his hair and brushed his skin as he observed men snapping pictures, the light flashing bright-white, then the vista slowing receding, washing dark again.  The rustle of the tall palms was intermingled with quiet voices drifting on the sea-breeze air; the scrape of shoes on the pavement, the muted murmur of traffic just over the stone wall isolating the Palace from the hustle of downtown.

 

Lab techs scrutinized the asphalt; searched for prints in the grass and filled them with clay molding, searched an ever-expanding area for evidence of the intruder who had vandalized the car of the chief law enforcement officer of the state.  Occasionally Steve commented, or advised, but mostly he paced and supervised, leaning over shoulders to double check that his officers were performing in their usual efficient manner.  Which they were. 

 

The entire car, and Williams’ were checked for bombs, booby-traps or other mischief.  Only the fresh blood seemed to be the extent of the damage.

 

As crimes went, this was sensational, yet hardly qualifying as a major crime.  Not many thugs had the effrontery to assault McGarrett’s personal property.  Even less would dare to do so right under his office window! 

 

The audacity, the insult, and the outrage angered him to such a degree he could hardly make more than a few terse remarks to his men.  He mostly paced to work through the fury seething through his system. 

 

“Here.  You look like you could use this.”

 

McGarrett spun, almost bumping Williams, who was at his elbow.  The younger officer held out a cup of coffee.  McGarrett took the mug without comment and turned back to observe the operation.

 

“Che said it won’t be long until he’s got the sample ID’d.  It IS blood, though not human.”

 

McGarrett’s lip curled with distaste.  “This psycho is sick.”

 

“Yeah.  We should have taken him more seriously.”

 

“So you think this is the poison pen man.”

 

“Don’t you?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“What really worries me is that he’s escalating.  First nasty letters.  Now, this really personal attack on something that belongs to you.”

 

“Getting more personal,” McGarrett pondered, watching the lab men cleaning up their gear.

 

“We should put a guard on you.”

 

“No way!”

 

While disturbing, Steve still had to consider this a prank.  A very nasty and personal one, but still nothing heavily criminal.  With no solid leads the time and budget of Five-0 had to be focused elsewhere.  There was no where else to go at this point with the letters, so he ordered Williams to work on the mugger case and not worry about harassing letters.

 

 

*****

 

 

When Williams pulled into the parking lot on Monday morning, he suppressed a yawn as he cruised around the Palace, past the banyan tree, toward the front.  Over all it had been an uneventful weekend.  Most of his time was spent bored to death on stake out in Waikiki.  At least it had cleared him of being on call.  And thanks to the girl watching it was one of the more pleasant stake-outs. 

 

Exiting the car, he saw Steve’s black Mercury coming up the drive, so he and leaned on his car, waiting for his boss.

 

McGarrett smiled when he pulled into his parking slot, waving at Williams.  “Trying to impress me with your eagerness for your work?”

 

“Something like that,” Dan smiled, falling into step with his boss.  He hesitated.  At McGarrett’s urging, he explained, “I’ve been doing some thinking, Steve.  Monday and Thursday were the letters.  Tuesday and Friday – it’s a pattern.  Maybe this guy is on a cruise ship.  He can mail things only on certain days -- or go ashore at regular stops.  So I checked, but none have been in and out of port on these dates so I thought of military ships -–“

 

“Danno.”  The stern warning was clear and both stopped on the steps before they reached the front door.  “I thought I told you to concentrate on the mugger and not on my personal problem.  Hmm?”

 

Undaunted, Williams admitted that was true, but he was not going to sit around and wait for someone to attack McGarrett in a more personal fashion than in letters and blood.  His psychological training put him on alert -- as did their years of experience with nut cases. 

 

The loyalty, the stubborn tenacity was to be expected, but still, it impressed and somewhat embarrassed him that Dan was taking this on as a private project.  It would be difficult to sway his friend from protecting him, but he had to.

 

“Then let me make it completely clear, Danno.  I appreciate your concern, but I do not want you wasting time on this case!  Is that clear?”  His hard stare held until the shorter man gave a curt nod.  “I will handle this myself.  Don’t worry.”  He unlocked the front door and they silently ascended to the second floor.

 

When they walked inside the main office door both stood frozen for a moment, looking at the mail on the floor.  With a glance at his friend, McGarrett picked it up and quickly went through the envelopes.  Both sighed when it was clear there was no mysterious poison letter.

 

“That’s a relief.”

 

McGarrett double-checked the stack of letters.  “Maybe.  It’s not Tuesday, yet.”

 

“So you’re starting to like my theory about the cruise ship?”

 

“Too early to tell, Steve commented as he moved through the main office into his own.

 

“Maybe the letters will stop.  Or not.  I do think your stalker has moved up to a higher profile.  The letters aren’t enough.  The violence is escalating.  Remember Eddie Josephs, he was a classic psycho that copied crimes, the violence coming closer and closer together, his intensity escalating.  This person starts out at a distance -- a hate letter.  Then the blood.  Then the blood on the car.  I’m afraid of what he’ll do next, Steve.  Now it has to be more personal.”

 

“Maybe.” 

 

“I want to give you a guard –“

 

“No way, Danno, no way!  We’ve been over this!”

 

“Steve –“

 

“This office has enough to do with out babysitting me!  And unless we get that mugger off of Waikiki, my hide won’t be worth persevering.”

 

The phone in his office rang and he nodded toward the inner sanctum.  “That’s probably the mayor calling to complain now.  Why don’t you bring in some coffee and I’ll do my best to defend you.”

 

“McGarrett,” he answered, dumping the paper and mail on his desk.

 

“He deserved to die!  Your father deserved the pain and the blood!  Just like you deserve to die!”

 

The squeaky, high-pitched voice whipped in his ear.  The words rushed and pushed together in a blur.  The hang-up click was a loud slam, followed by the dial tone.

 

It was so quick he had to concentrate to distinguish the message, to comprehend the message.  A breath caught in his throat, as he stood immobile, the phone in his hand, the content of the call slowly filtering through his brain.

 

“What is it?”

 

The clear and anchoring voice of Williams snapped him out of it.  He slammed the phone down with the impetus of growing anger. 

 

“It was the mystery crank!”  He leaned his knuckles on the desk.  “Telling me my father deserved to die and so do I.”

 

Williams came up beside him.  “Guess there wasn’t time for a trace.”  He placed a hand on McGarrett’s arm.  “Are you okay?”

 

Seething, McGarrett slammed a fist on the desk.  “No!  I’m not okay!” 

 

Startled, Williams drew back. 

 

“Sorry, Danno.”

 

“No, I understand it’s upsetting.  Did you recognize the voice?”

 

Bitterly, he related it sounded like a ten year old in a hurry.  It made no sense.  How could a kid get his private office number?  Why would a youngster be interested in persecuting him about something that personal?  How would anyone but his small circle of friends know about his father’s death?

 

“Maybe it’s a crank, but maybe it’s not,” Dan ruminated after a moment.

 

Filling in the tense silence, Williams reiterated the lab report issued on the first letter and the car.  There was, after all, some traces of human blood on the car.  Same type as on the letters. 

 

“I think your tormentor is ascending to a new high.  If this is for kicks, he’s increasing his adrenalin by making it more personal.  The blood on your car and this phone call are getting closer, more personal.  Almost touching you.”

 

McGarrett only nodded; fuming, pondering.  “What’s really sick is that someone is using a kid to do his dirty work.  The voice on the phone was high and almost – almost hysterical.  Whoever is behind this is some kind of beast.”

 

“Which is why you need to have a guard –“

 

“No.”

 

Grimacing, Williams shook his head.  “It’s in the interest of the state to protect the top cop, Steve.  You’re being stubborn –“

 

“I’m being practical, Danno!  We treat this like the misdemeanor it is.”

 

“It’s eating you up!”

 

“Then I just have to do a better job of ignoring it, don’t I?” he snapped back.

 

The phone rang again, startling both.  Williams automatically moved to the phone at a side table and asked HPD to trace the incoming call.  After the third ring, McGarrett answered.

 

He breathed out a long sigh, glanced at his colleague, then answered, “Yes, tell the Governor I can come right over.”  He hung up with a decisive slam of the receiver.

 

Dan canceled the trace.

 

“You-know-who wants to see me, and I bet it’s about the mugger.”  He glared meaningfully at Williams.  “And you know what that means.”

 

“I’m on it,” the officer responded unhappily, and stalked out.

 

After Dan left the office, McGarrett leaned on the wall and stared out the window, reflecting on the distressing call and letter.  Someone out there hated him.  Enough to threaten his life.  That in itself was nothing new.  The fact that this invisible tormentor had wounded him deeply with the haunting spectre of his father’s untimely death – that was the really disturbing part of the mystery.  Who hated him that much, to not just want him dead, but to torture him like this?

 

Added to the emotional anguish and the stress of the threats, now came the unusual tension of the disagreement between he and Danno.  It was not unusual for Williams to be overprotective of him, and he could often be accused of the reverse, but Steve did not want it in this case.  Perhaps because it was connected with his father and that made it so personal.  Also, because he did believe what he told Williams.  He was a public official and he could not use his valuable time, or Five-0’s, tracking a prankster – however torturous the attack.

 

 

*****

 

 

When he returned from the Governor’s office Chin and Duke were there catching up on paperwork.  Danno was out, presumably tracking the mugger.  He conferred with them about their cases, then spent the rest of the morning reading Williams’ notes on the mugger case. 

 

As he had guessed, that was the reason the Governor called him over to the capitol.  The mayor of Honolulu and the chairman of the Waikiki Business Association were there as well.  They were putting the pressure on Five-0 to stop the muggers.  Already there were suspected two copycat attackers who were caught.  And the national press had picked up the minor crime spree, making Hawaii look dangerous and discouraging tourism.

 

He would be the first to admit Williams and a small group of HPD support officers had done everything they could think of to catch the mugger.  Stake outs, decoys and many of them staying late into the night in Waikiki had proven ineffective.  He could see no pattern to the muggings or the victims or the locations.  Random violence.  Sometimes it worked all too effectively for the criminals.

 

The thoughts strayed to the very specific and structured harassment he was experiencing, and he pulled out the lab reports on the letters, rereading the data he had nearly memorized:  Small prints on the letters.  Smears of human blood, type B.  A child’s voice on the phone.  Cat’s blood on the car. 

 

What did it all mean?  He checked Dan’s notes  out of curiosity. Eddie Josephs didn’t have any disgruntled relatives or friends out there copying his hate mail.  The printing and tone of the messages, after all, were so similar it was spooky.  Birth records indicated a younger sister, but she had no driver’s license, no billing records or tax records in the state of Hawaii, so Dan guessed she lived out of state.  He put an HPD detective onto the trail that he considered hopeless and far-fetched.

 

He still had not answered any pertinent questions about the assailant.  He was no closer to finding out about this madman now than he was on the first day of the onslaught.  It proved that even the top cops of the state could be vulnerable and fallible, either disadvantage was bad but together they could prove – what – that he and his staff were human?  That they could catch international spies and mass murderers but not a prankster with a personal grudge? 

 

He knew until he could answer the most basic questions – why and who – this would not come to an end.  This was too personal.  Someone out there wanted him to suffer deeply.  Eventually, they would tire of the toying and then they would move in for the kill.  Figuratively or literally, he didn’t know, but he wasn’t going to allow it to go that far.

 

 

*****

 

 

On his own, Dan engaged in some private investigations to find out who mailed the letters.  He doubled checked the lab reports.  Then he researched paper, envelopes, etc.  All standard materials -- so common they were used by the state -- the same stock Five-0 used for their office supplies! 

 

Weary of the legwork, and frustrated at getting nowhere, he returned to possible links to Eddie Josephs.  This was also a dead end, literally and figuratively.  No relatives listed that he could find.  No known close friends according to neighbors.  Dredging up information on someone who had been a loner and died over a year before was taking up too much of his time.  He pushed it off to an HPD detective.  For now he had to focus on catching the Waikiki mugger.

 

 

 

*****

 

 

The tropical sun was far behind the horizon when McGarrett hung up the phone with Chief Dann.   The head of HPD was not happy about McGarrett’s request to siphon more patrolmen and detectives into the mugger case.  A mugger and a poison-pen stalker.  Who would think the great Five-0 would be so stymied by such inferior criminals, who were so annoying?

 

The outer door slammed and Steve guessed it would be Williams.  Chin and Duke were in Maui tracking the fugitive.  He went to the door and chuckled when he saw a completely soaked and exhausted Williams trudging through the dimly lit room.

 

McGarrett met him by the door.  “Been swimming?”

 

“Yeah.  And guess what I caught besides a fish or two in my pocket?  The mugger.”

 

Steve clapped him on the back, then laughed when water splashed off.  “Congratulations, Danno.”

 

“Thanks.  I wanted to let you know right away.  Maybe you’ll sleep better.”

 

McGarrett laughed again.  No one else in the world would divert from changing out of soppy clothes to come and personally deliver good news to him.  Danno was really priceless sometimes.

 

“I know the Governor and the Mayor will.”  The news was a relief.  He didn’t realize how stressed he had been over the simple crime.   And how pleased he was that, as usual, Williams came through with persistence and success.  McGarrett started locking up. “I’ll take you out to celebrate, but you’ll have to change first.”

 

“If you don’t mind, I think I’ll just go home and sleep for a change.”

 

“You mean the nights in Waikiki are too much for you?”

 

“Yeah, when it’s a stake out.  Speaking of stake-outs, how’s the one going on Belden?”

 

Locking the office door, they started down the hall of the Five-0 wing.  Steve slackened his usual brisk pace to compensate for Williams’ lethargic gait.  “I’ve had to pull back to minimal surveillance.  Apparently, he’s still got the Asian flu, but I don’t believe it for a minute.  He’s going to try and skip bail.”

 

“We should alert airport security.”

 

“Already did.”  He grinned.  “You know, we are doing our jobs around here even if you are sunning yourself in Waikiki, Officer Williams.”

 

Williams tiredly smirked.

 

Switching to a sincere tone, McGarrett proudly congratulated, “Good work, Danno.”  Once more patting him on the shoulder, he grinned again.  “I knew you would get him.”

 

“Mahalo.”  Williams whole face brightened and he seemed to loose a great deal of the fatigue pressing on him.  “I’ll see you in the morning.”

 

 

*****

 

The bright spot of the week for Five-0 was that Williams finally apprehend the Waikiki mugger the night before.  As usual, instead of congratulations from the local politicians and business community, Five-0 only received comments that it was about time. 

 

Williams spent most of the day at HPD interrogating the man – a window washer named Kulua.  Now Williams was finishing up the reports and clearing the decks to take on a new case.  McGarrett decided to let him handle an attempted murder investigation that came in overnight instead of working on the FBI case.

 

Considering Danno’s bedraggled appearance the night before, Steve was surprised when Williams phoned him early Tuesday morning and suggested they breakfast at one of their favorite spots in Waikiki. With the sun sparkling on the nearby water, they enjoyed a leisurely meal and Williams detailed his capture of the mugger.  Amid rainbows arching over the hotels, and tourists preparing to take surf lessons, Dan related his adventure.

 

The arrest was front page news. McGarrett only glanced at the article folded on the table.  It was far more interesting to hear the details of the stake-out – amusing or complicated features of the caper that would not be included in the dry police form used for reports.

 

It was past EightAM when they both drove up to the Palace.  McGarrett felt relaxed and calm, the irritating case behind them; the value of casual companionship helping to ease him into the day.

 

As they rounded the balustrade on the second level and approached the Five-0 door, they stopped.  A parcel was set on the floor outside the office.  The brown paper bag covering (from a local supermarket), was wildly crisscrossed with errant strips of transparent tape.  Some of the covering looked dark with an oily stain.  Facing up, were scrawled the red-painted words:

 

 

Remember MR Patrick McGarrett

 

Inhaling sharply, McGarrett clenched his shaking fists.  The malevolence of the message was sinking deeper than he expected.  After days of torment, he thought himself immune to the tauntings, but a new level of vulnerability was suddenly exposed with this new attack.

 

Dan gently moved him out of the way and for a moment watched him, then studied the box with a furrowed brow openly revealing concern.  Crouching down, he studied the parcel,

 

“Back off, Danno.  It could be a bomb.”

 

Sniffing Dan coughed.  “I don’t think so.  It smells like – like something died.  And I think that might be blood.”  He stood.  “That’s your father’s name, wasn’t it?  Patrick?”

 

“Yeah,” he nodded, feeling his whole body shake with the residual anger and anguish of haunted memories and revulsion.  “Yeah.  How – who would know that?”  He smashed his fist into the nearby wood molding and cursed, rage flaring through the hurt and scarred past.  “Why are they doing this?”

 

Dan moved close and touched McGarrett’s arm.  “We’ll find out, Steve.”

 

“Go check the rest of the building, Danno.  Then --“

 

“Steve, I have experience with this kind of stuff.”

 

“Don’t try anything --“

 

“I won’t.  But I can be checking it out while you get Louis Chu gets over here.”

 

All right,” he reluctantly agreed.  “Watch yourself.”

 

Jogging down the stairs, he raced to the phone in the lobby and called HPD for the bomb squad.  Che Fong and one of his assistants were just arriving and he ordered them to keep everyone else out.  Then he raced back upstairs, relieved that Williams was keeping his distance, but still visually examining the wrapped box.

 

McGarrett stared at the offensive package, pounding his fist against the wall, thinking, blocking his strained feelings. No matter what mental tricks he conjured, the wraiths of the past would not release him.

 

Back against the white plaster, he pounded his fist on the wall.  “I am going to find whoever is doing this.  I promise!”  His voice was shaking as much as his body and he drew in a deep breath to get control.  It took him a few moments to settle, to reach a level where he could speak without divulging his weakness. 

 

Why was this happening?  What enemy was out there resurrecting his father’s death?  Someone out to get him?  Or his family?  A cold wash of fear suddenly swept over him.  What if his sister and her family were in danger?

 

McGarrett raced past him and into his office.  “Take over here, Danno.”

 

He ran back down to the phone near the front doors and connected to an operator for a long distance call.

 

“Hello?”

 

It was a young voice.  His nephew, Patrick, aged six.  “Patrick, hi, it’s Uncle Steve,” he announced, a little breathless.  “Is your mommy there?”

 

He heard the boy call and a moment later Mary Ann answered.  “Steve?”

 

“Sis, you haven’t been getting any crank calls or any letters or packages that are unusual?”

 

“No.  Steve, what’s going on. 

 

Mary Ann was a woman with a family of her own.  She didn’t need big brother to protect people that were his responsibility.  The apprehension and iron resolve in her tone was pure McGarrett and it almost made him smile and cry at the same time.  She was brave and tough, just like their mother.  He shared a lot of history with his little sister.  The pain of their father’s untimely death was one of the greatest burdens they shouldered together.  From that moment on he had never stopped being a big brother to her in a very over-protective way.  And he had never been able to get much past her, either.

 

“I’m okay, honey, I just have a little problem here with some crank who’s bothering me.  I wanted to make sure nothing was wrong with you and the family.”

 

“What kind of crank, Steve?  Are you in danger?”

 

Even a little information was too much and he grit his teeth in anger at himself for letting too much slip.  “I’m fine, honey.  I’m a cop, remember, I can take care of myself.”

 

“Not from what I’ve seen, Steve.  Last time we visited you had been shot!”

 

“Mary Ann, really, I’m fine.  Listen, I have a busy morning ahead, so I have to go.”

 

“You work too hard, Steve.”

 

“I know, love.  Now listen, sis, if you get anything funny in the mail, or any kind of strange calls I want you to let me know right away.  Promise”?

 

“I promise, Steve.  And you call me and let me know if anything happens.  I mean it!”

 

“I will.”

 

“I’ll call you Sunday.”

 

“I look forward to it.  Give my love to the family.”

 

After hanging up he sagged against the wall, his head in his hands.  It was both liberation and agony to speak with his sister about the possibility of danger.  She fretted over his safety constantly.  And just hearing her voice dredged up so much of the past.  The good and the horrible – the memories of that terrible day when the police had come to inform them their father had been killed.  Mary Ann had sought shelter in his arms, begging him to say it would be all right.  He hoped he had made it all okay – or the best he could – in the following years.

 

Drawing out of the past, he returned to the corridor and watched Che Fong and his lab people search the hall and the area around the package for clues.  Dan gave him a silent, speculative, questioning look, which he returned with a confident nod.

 

The trudge of heavy boots and someone giving orders drifted up the stairwell, and Lt. Chu and his bomb squad, in flak jackets and helmets, joined them.  McGarrett lead them up the stairs, explaining the situation.  Chu set up a shield with a mechanical arm to carefully transport the suspect parcel into an insulated bin.  He demanded McGarrett and Williams leave.  Reluctantly, they went downstairs and waited, relieved when Chu and his men emerged from the building with the portable disposal can.

 

With careful tread they moved it to the bomb van in the front parking lot.  A scanner in the truck told them there were no metal parts in the box.  Unlikely it was a bomb.  --- came upstairs and reported they would take it to the lab for an x-ray.  If it was cleared, then they would open it in a controlled environment.

 

While they proceeded with that phase of the operation, Che was already studying the crime scene, and reported finding minute traces of leaves and dirt on the floor.  The Palace was well cleaned every night, and this meant the perpetrator had left the evidence.  There was also an oily substance left on the wood floor that Che would analyze. 

 

Jenny Sherman and the rest of the staff had arrived by this time and McGarrett directed them to get on with their duties.  Chu called, informing him that they had opened the package.  It turned out to be a dead cat inside, which they would send over to the lab.

 

“Now we know where the blood on your car came from,” Williams snapped after the bomb officer left.

 

“From a sick mind,” McGarrett vollied back, irritated at the wasted morning, at the continued personal attacks.  “I’m going down to the lab.  Take care of things here, Danno.”

 

 

*****

 

 

Watching the lab techs work was almost like watching grass grow.  They worked at their own meticulous and dedicated speed, and refused to be hurried by McGarrett literally looking over their shoulders.  The results were depressing.  Che mentioned, in his own brand of quirky humor, that this was a historic case for Five-0.  They had his prints, his blood type, his footprints, an estimate on his height, weight and a guess on his age. The perpetrator was a child, or a very small adult, with small feet and small hands and fingers. 

 

They recently walked in dirt with traces of banyan leaves – possibly the area right in back of the Palace.  Obviously he could break in and out of a public building without notice in the middle of the night.  And still they couldn’t catch him.

 

The joke did not cheer McGarrett, who returned to his office and glumly reported the findings to Williams.  His second-in-command’s brightness did not help, either. 

 

The name, written in blood, was still damp.  Which meant the perpetrator had been there very close to the time they had both arrived.  The oily substance on the package and the floor was the residue from the cat skin.  The soil was common dirt mixed with gravel, grass and car oil.  The leaf particles came from a banyan tree – possibly the one right at the back of the Five-0 wing!

 

“He’s stalking you,” Williams reminded darkly.  “He was probably sitting out there under the tree waiting for you the other night!  Or now and we’d never know it.  It’s like he can melt into the background.  He comes and goes like a ghost.”

 

The analogy gave McGarrett a chill.  It was how he mentally thought of this entire episode – a haunting by a ghost.  His father’s spectre.  He pushed the conversation into a more productive direction and asked what Williams brought with him.

 

“I think I have something, Steve, but it’s weird.”  He took a seat on the edge of the desk while McGarrett slumped in his chair.  “I’ve been trying to figure out where this person would know about your father’s death, and his name.  Records would give him that, but he’d have to know where you grew up.  And he’d have to guess about the year and the name of your dad.  Unless it came up as public knowledge.”

 

The tone and knowing, triumphant expression told him his friend had the answers already.  It was a slim measure of hope in an irritating string of tense days. “What did you find, Danno?”

 

Handing over Xerox copies, he revealed, “Remember Mr. Steven McGarrett,” he quoted.  “That same article that Eddie Josephs was using, had all that personal information on you, Steve.  The reporter gave a short bio on you in the second or third week of the string of articles, remember?”

 

McGarrett shuffled through the pages of a series of magazine articles that had been published a few years before.  Last year, a psycho named Eddie – used the articles to create copycat killings.  He had thrown himself out a window and died rather than be caught.  {episode – I’LL KILL EM AGAIN}  Before each duplicate murder he had sent McGarrett a warning letter addressed Mr. Steven McGarrett.  Even down to the misspelling of his first name.  It was dejavu.

 

“Your sister is fine.  No one else on the team is targeted, so this is personal for you, Steve.  Someone read these articles, found out something that really hurt you in the past, and is out to hurt you now.  I think you’re in real danger.”

 

“From a midget with a grudge? Danno, we’ve discussed this --“

 

“The violence is escalating, Steve.  Bloody packages and blood on your car. The guy could be out there right now watching you, stalking your every move!   What’s going to be next?  Every strike is more personal.  The change of pattern indicates something has happened in this person’s life and that can only mean more trouble for you.  At the very least, I think this should be a priority and utilize the whole team to solve it.”

 

As usual, he could not deny the logic and clarity of Williams’ salient argument.  In the pondering silence, Williams reminded that Chin and Duke were due back to Honolulu later that afternoon since they had successfully captured the FBI fugitive in Maui.

 

Reluctantly, McGarrett agreed, and ordered his friend to clear away as many assignments as he could to HPD.  Starting this afternoon the harassment of the top cop was going to become Five-0’s priority investigation.

 

 

*****

 

Both breathed sighs of relief when Steve retrieved the mail and found no letter from the persistent and deranged persecutor.  McGarrett then began to wonder at the absence of an attack.  What did the silence mean, if anything?

 

Williams ran though speculations off the top of his head while he poured coffee for both of them.  He sat on the edge of McGarrett’s desk, ruminating aloud, while the boss let the theories brush through his own various suspicions.  Both officers jumped when the phone rang.  Instantly, Williams was on his feet, ordering a trace from the other phone.  When he gave an affirming nod, Steve snapped the phone to speaker so his colleague could hear.

 

“McGarrett!” he barked.

 

“Steve, this is Chief Kalua in Hilo.”

 

Again, both officers sighed deeply in a release of tension.  Williams broke his connection and shared a chagrined look with his friend.

 

“What is it, Chief?” McGarrett almost smiled.

 

“Got two of those protesters, chained themselves to bulldozers at the development site.  Can you come down here and help us?”

 

McGarrett glanced at Dan.  “I’ll see what I can do, Chief.  Either Danno or I’ll be down there to help you out.”

 

“Mahalo, Steve.”

 

McGarrett switched off the speaker.  “Feel like a trip to the scenic Big Island, Danno?”

 

“Anytime,” he grinned wistfully.  “Want to finish the paperwork for the preliminary hearing for my mugger?”

 

Chuckling, McGarrett shook his head.  “Not a chance.”  He unlocked his desk drawer and brought out several files and loose papers.  “I’ll brief you on my schedule for the next few days, then you can drive me to the airport.  I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

 

 

*****

 

 

With McGarrett out of town, Dan took the investigation of the letter threats as his main focus.  He talked with the Post Master and arranged to have the mail to the Palace scanned carefully, taking note of any printed envelopes.  And, as always, he warned their postal deliverer to be wary of any suspicious packages.

 

Extra guards were placed around the Palace and increased patrol units cruised past Steve’s apartment.  Late night sessions with all detectives – profiling – what kind of psycho this might be, were held until the early morning hours.  Expert psychologists were brought in to give advice. 

 

Desperate and frustrated, Danny wondered if he should stake out the main post office during one of his lunch breaks, looking for kids mailing letters.  Or short, petite people.  Or teens.  They couldn’t rule out smaller people at this stage.  Dan had ordered a trace on any relations or friends  of Eddie Josephs, but that, so far, came up negative.

 

Returning from the post office, there was a message from Chin saying he and Duke caught David Beldon trying to leave in a chartered jet to Hong Kong.  At least bail had been revoked and they wouldn’t have to worry about that criminal.  If only he could find the elusive one tormenting Steve.

 

 

*****

 

 

In a heightened sense of alert, Dan arrived at the Palace early on Thursday morning.  The mystery stalker had turned unpredictable.  Guards were now stationed around the Palace and Hilo PD had been alerted to keep a watch on McGarrett just in case the stalked switched islands.  So far, there was no indication of McGarrett being threatened while away.

 

Dan’s nights and waking hours remained unsettled despite the precautions.  He preferred to be at the office working on the case rather than trying to snatch a few extra minutes sleep.  Part of the vigilance was because of the image of Steve hovering behind him, watching what Dan was doing, how he was handling the case and the office in Steve’s absence.

 

Nerves were tight since he was also convinced all his warnings were appropriate.  Someone was out to get McGarrett and his closest friend’s life might depend on how quickly they could catch this psycho.

 

Trotting up the Palace’s front steps, Dan stopped instantly when he saw the note hanging on the ornate wood.  No – not hanging – stabbed to the beautiful koa wood by a shiny knife.  He cautiously stepped closer.  Gulping, he cleared his throat of a knot of nausea.  Speared to the door by a red smeared scalpel!  He would bet that the crimson tint was blood.  It still looked wet.

 

The red-smeared words, squiggled on a dirty, torn piece of notebook paper, were what chilled him.  He suddenly felt cold standing in the warm breath of an ocean breeze, under the Hawaiian morning sun.

 

_________________________

DANNY WILLIAMS

DESERVES TO dIE

jUST like Your father

jUST like YOU

For what you DID

____________________________

 

 

How could this happen?  With extra guards, the stalker had still managed to sneak over here and deliver the grisly message!   

 

Breathing evenly, he trotted back down the steps, striving to retrace his footsteps.  He used the car mic to order Che’s team to check the front of the Palace and the note.  When he signed off Chin was pulling up and he asked Kelly to oversee the lab techs.  He strolled around the parking lot, then the grass, then the dirt under the banyan tree in the back of the Palace.

 

Che’s unit had been back here already taking casts of small prints.  He would have them try again, but doubted they would find anything beyond the diminutive sneaker sole marks already cataloged.  He wondered if the assailant lurked here at night before the staff left.  Did he watch them from the dark?  Did he secretly track their movements like a ghost?  Certainly none of the detectives or staff had noticed a small person or a kid following them.  And he would have noticed that!

 

Scanning the buildings across from the square, peering across to the Capitol, he wondered if he was under surveillance now.  His skin crawled as he recalled the note.  This time the threat was directed at him.  The sights had broadened to include him, not just McGarrett.  That didn’t’ make him feel too happy.  At least Steve was on the Big Island and away from the danger.  Until he heard about the content of the new note.

 

Turning to enter the Palace from the back door, he paused and scanned the surroundings again.  Seeing nothing unusual, he continued.  By the time he reached the Five-0 wing he had determined his next step.

 

Retrieving the mail at the door, he walked to McGarrett’s office and studied the chalkboard that held their investigative notes.  Copies of the messages were tacked to the edges and he scrutinized the writing, the paper, the wording.  Summaries of evidence were listed. The clinical evidence held little comfort now that he felt the press of the threat like a brush of wind across his neck.

 

When the phone rang, he groaned, knowing it would be McGarrett.  He had phoned yesterday morning about this time and it would be characteristic of him to check in again.  To be apprised of any updates.  Dreading to answer it, Williams picked it up.

 

No surprise, it was McGarrett, wondering how everything was going.  He had another problem with the demonstrators and would need to stay the rest of the day.  Was that all right?

 

“That’s fine, Steve.”

 

“We get any other surprises today?”

 

He knew what Steve meant.  It was a loaded question he did not want to answer.  Telling the complete truth would send Steve back here to the heart of danger before he could find the threat.  He couldn’t lie to Steve, but maybe he could prevaricate a little.

 

“Yeah, another note.  This time stabbed to the front door of the Palace.”

 

“The front door!  What is wrong with those security patrols?”  The anger was hot and clear.  “What did it say?” 

 

The dread and anxiety were so clear in the voice that Dan cringed.  It was in that moment the deception rolled off Danny’s tongue with surprising ease.  He had to protect his friend even if it was a small token.  Just temporarily, for the rest of the day, he could ease Steve’s burden just a little.  He would pay for it big time later, but for now Steve could have a day of relative peace.  “Oh, you know, just the usual threats,” he shrugged off with a tone he hoped sounded casual.  Che’s got it now.  We’re on it, though, so don’t worry.”  He pushed a false enthusiasm into the pep talk, as if motivation and skill had made a difference so far.

 

Later, he would have to face McGarrett’s unleashed wrath when the boss returned and read the note himself.  For now, there would be hours or days of respite.  His friend deserved the break, even if it might be the wrong choice, he decided.

 

On the Big Island, Dan was sure the threat was mitigated, if not completely erased.  That was just a hunch, of course, but Dan’s instincts told him the stalker was not trailing Steve.  Everything was centered at the Palace so far.  No straying to apartments or to field action away from this hub.  He noted that in the back of his mind as he continued to reassure his friend, and assure himself he was taking the right action.  Steve had enough on his mind and didn’t need to worry about him.  That was the rationalization.  He hoped it washed away some of Steve’s ire when he found out about the incomplete report.

 

“You’re sure everything’s okay?”

 

“Sure.  Don’t worry, Steve.  I can handle things here.”

 

“I know that, Danno, I just – well, if it’s just another threat I’ll deal with it when I get back.”

 

“Yeah,” Dan cleared his throat uncomfortably.  “Don’t worry about it now.  Maybe we can clear this up right away and you can take a few days to enjoy Hilo.”

 

The stern tone denoted there was no such possibility.  “I’ll call you later. I’ll try to be home by this afternoon.”

 

“Okay,” Danny grimaced, “but you don’t have to.”  That would be a tight time schedule.

 

“I want to be there.” 

 

Energized by the need to get results, Dan met Chin and Duke as they were coming into the office.  The lab tested the blood – human, type B.  They also confirmed the traces of soil and leaves matched the banyan area between the Palace and the Capitol.

 

“You going to let Steve know about this new threat”? Chin wondered mildly.

 

Danny knew what he meant but sidestepped.  “Steve has enough to worry about on the Big Island.  Maybe we can get some leads before he comes home.”

 

Duke shook his head.  “He’s not going to be happy when he reads the new note.”

 

“I think we should put a guard on you, Danny,” Chin advised.

 

“Let’s hold off on that for now,” he countered, hoping he did not sound too much like an echo of Steve’s adamant refusals for help.  “I want you to check around the grounds, Chin.  Find out if there are any lurkers who like to hang around lately.  Ask the groundskeepers, janitors, the postman and the night-watchmen here and at the Capitol.  Anyone you can think of working around here.”

 

“You’re thinking this nut might still be around?”

 

“Could be.  Duke, check in the neighborhood for people who work shifts that might bring them here.  Garbage men, city workers, things like that.”

 

Lukela’s distressed expression clearly displayed his feelings.  “That’s a pretty big job, Danny.”

 

“Get some help from HPD.  We can decrease the extra patrol units cruising past Steve’s apartment I think until he returns.  Use the men here around the Palace.  Everything seems to be centered here.”

 

“This is where all the action is,” Chin supplied simply.”

 

“Yeah”, Dan agreed thoughtfully.  This was the center of power.  McGarrett’s real home.  And his, it seemed.  And the stalker knew that, too.  “Our focus needs to be here.”

 

 

*****

 

 

Williams was still at the office at twenty to NinePM when Steve called from the airport in Hilo.  He was finally on his way home, and gave the flight number.  Dan agreed to pick him up, and for the next hour organized notes from Duke and Chin and his own discoveries.  He had not been idle for the day, and had canvassed the Capitol for patterns of employees that worked irregularly with Five-0 – staff in various government offices.

 

Not sure how to level with the boss about the contents of the latest threat, he decided not to say anything right away.  Steve was obviously calm from the brief respite and he would like to extend that peace as long as possible. 

 

On the drive back from the airport, he filled in McGarrett in about the work they’d been doing.  Distraction could only work so long, but it seemed to keep Steve’s mind out of specifics.

 

“Duke and Chin came close to striking gold.  They found a maintenance man at the Capitol who’s seen what he thought was a kid about dawn a few mornings this week.  But he couldn’t be sure exactly what days.  Chin found a night watchman at the Capitol who says a kid crossed Beretania around dawn several times for the last few weeks.”

 

“Description?”

 

“Nothing useful.  Of course, it could be some kid on the way to school for all we know.”  Not so smoothly, he transitioned.  “So, how was Hilo?  Go over to see the volcano?”

 

“No, Danno.  Are you trying to change the subject?”

 

Still striving for distraction, he answered truthfully.  “You’re a little relaxed.  Thought a few more minutes of not thinking about your stalker might help.”

 

“Mahalo.”  He seemed to struggle with some internal doubts.  “I don’t think I’ll relax again until this kook is behind bars.”  Pensive, he turned his gaze from the lights of the harbor to Williams.  “What about the newest note?”

 

“No new evidence,” Dan prevaricated, hoping Steve did not ask about the contents.  The time was almost at hand, however, when Steve would demand to see the copy of the note and he would have to reveal the newest threat.  It would only give Steve more to worry about, and Dan wanted to avoid that until the very last minute.  In a sense, he felt guilty he had not been able to catch this nut case yet.  He should have been able to do that for his boss while Steve was away.  “Che went over it.”

 

"As soon as we get back to the office I’ll check it out.”

 

Suppressing a groan, Williams feverishly started running explanations over in his mind.  Steve would not be happy about his obstructive -- no -- his shielding.  Steve knew his intensions were honorable, but it would the proud and stubborn Irish cop would not like being protected.

 

 

*****

 

 

At the Palace, Steve frowned as they pulled into Dan’s parking slot next to three HPD cars.  Several patrolmen were visible on the front steps.  He glared at his friend and exited the car without a word.  Inhaling a moan, Dan followed the unhappy boss.

 

Inside his office, McGarrett slammed the door shut.  “You want to tell me about those guards surrounding the Palace?”

 

“Protection –“

 

“Not like an armed camp, Danno.”

 

“Why are you so set against staying alive?”

 

“I’m not!  It’s about the excessive show of force and the public scrutiny that I don’t want!”

 

“You’re worried about publicity –“

 

“Do you think I want everyone in the state to know about this stalker?  About our vulnerabilities or my father’s death?”

 

“No, Steve, but you need to have a guard –“

 

“We’ve gone over this!”

 

“Why be a Lone Ranger?  You can’t do this alone!  Not against this ghost!”

 

He stabbed a finger to the outside.  “That is overkill. Most of those patrolmen better be gone by the time I leave here tonight.  One at my apartment, maybe.  But we’re here at the Palace!”

 

“Steve --”

 

McGarrett’s eyes narrowed dangerously.  “This is not up for debate, Danno.  I mean it.  Those patrolmen leave.  Now!”

 

Fuming, Williams stalked away, his face darkly clouded with anger. McGarrett seethed, wincing as he heard the office door slam.  Being here in the midst of the tension had instantly snapped him back to the peril of the situation.  Danno had guessed right; he had relaxed a little in Hilo and felt better temporarily seeking haven in the eye of the hurricane.  Now, back in the middle of the volatile storm, he was frustrated and angry. 

 

While Danno had only his life and safety in mind about the protection, the younger officer should not have overstepped his bounds.  Alternately, Dan only acted on what he felt to be the right course and Steve should not have yelled at his friend.  Danno, as always, was only watching out for him.  At any rate, his tense reprimand of his closest ally was inappropriate and over-heated. 

 

Urged by guilt, he hurried out of the office to catch his friend and apologize.  They should not be arguing.  This was the time to pull together.  Typically, Danno had his best interests at heart even if the methods were grating on Steve.

 

The central, double-storied lobby of the Palace was dark, the wall sconces radiating subdued light in the large, open area dominated by dark koa wood.  Trotting down the stairs, McGarrett could see a indistinct scene outside, through the frosted, etched glass designs in the windows of the front doors.  Rushing forward, his mind was preoccupied with Danno’s misplaced loyalty and rebellious overzealousness.  As he reached the door, he saw a distorted image of a white car speed past. 

 

Out the door, striding onto the steps, he watched in horror as the white Thunderbird raced toward the parked Five-0 LTD.  Only peripherally did he note the placement of HPD officers near their cars by the streetlight near the front driveway leading to King Street.  Danno had dismissed the guards as ordered.

 

Obliquely he noticed the speeding vehicle had no headlights as it veered toward a figure crossing the parking lot.  Before he could blink or act or think, the Thunderbird’s lights blazed on, catching Danny Williams in the twin streams of light.  Dan leaped out of the way, but the car honed in on him.

 

Before a cry could leave his throat, McGarrett watched helplessly as the Thunderbird scraped along the LTD and Dan was struck by the speeding car.  The limp body catapulted onto the trunk of the LTD and bounced off to land in the shadowy grass.

 

Then the car was gone. 

 

McGarrett’s heart pounded against his chest with painful throbs.  He called out words he didn’t even understand as he automatically raced over to the lawn. 

 

Williams was lying on his left side.  Still.  Too afraid to move him, McGarrett first checked to see if he was alive.  His shaky hand could not pick up a pulse so he touched the chest and breathed again when he found a heartbeat.  His hand came away wet and red with blood.  His stomach curled with anguish.  Only now, he noted the glistening trickles darkly tracing down Danno’s immobile face.  A head injury?  Other grievous damage?  He checked again for a pulse and found a faint beat on the sticky skin.

 

Someone came up beside him and he mumbled instructions, not sure, what he was saying.  He checked for obvious damage and bleeding without moving the body, and realized he was continuously talking, asking Danno to speak to him, demanding responses to his obscure chatter.

 

On Williams’ leg, he spotted a long, nasty gash on the left thigh that was bleeding heavily, but not pumping blood as if from an arterial wound.  Abrasions along the scalp at the back, and along the side of the head were the source of the trickling blood.  Removing his jacket, he pressed it against the thigh and was disheartened there was no reaction to what should have been excruciating pain. 

 

Again, he gently shook Williams’ shoulder, trying to bring him to consciousness.  Dan’s head moved, and dark liquid spilled from his open mouth.  Kneeling closer, McGarrett listened for breathing and heard irregular, scraping, labored breaths fighting in and out of damaged lungs.  Touching the lacerated face, the skin seemed cool, but McGarrett himself was shivering, so it was hard to tell body temperature.  Dan was slipping into shock, loosing blood fast.

 

His world telescoped into a tiny microcosm of keeping his friend alive.  Nothing else beyond the moment held importance.  He could not let his friend die. He could not allow that to happen!  When the ambulance attendants arrived, so focused was he on helping Dan he had to be bodily moved so they could transport the victim.

 

Once the ambulance sped away, McGarrett slowly transitioned back to the real world.  The familiarity of squad cars, policemen and crime technicians helped to jolt him back into a semblance of routine.  Only then did he survey the wider picture, though never losing the numb disorientation of the event.  This should not be happening on his home turf.  His officers should not be run down at their own offices!  This should not have happened to Danno.

 

A patrol sergeant asked if he should call Lukela.  Obviously a friend from the force.  McGarrett agreed and followed the officer to the nearest vehicle where the call was put through on the radio. 

 

 

*****

 

In his minds eye he had envisioned a hit and run a thousand times.  Ever since he learned how his father died, he had imagined it.  Nightmares had played it out in color and black and white.  Never had he expected to witness such a horrible accident.  In his worst imaginings, he never wanted to think it could happen to his friend.  Just like his father.

 

No, Danno was not going to die.  He was going to be all right.  Oblivious to the hospital waiting room and the background activity of policemen and hospital staff, McGarrett stared at the dried blood on his hands and fought against the despair gnawing away his empty mantra of hope.  Danno had been badly hurt and his desperate faith would not alter the reality of internal damage or head injuries.

 

Just as wishes and hopes had never changed harsh reality those long years when he learned of his father’s death.  No amount of denial or confused or angry revolt could transform what had happened.

 

Half-heartedly he had kept a finger on the pulse of the investigation.  As eyewitness to the crime, he had offered almost nothing of useful testimony.  The parking lot lights were dim.  The car turned on it’s headlights only at the last instant.  His eyes were on the airborne body of Danno, not on the vehicle or the license plate.

 

Cop thought processes clogged frequently as the anguish and guilt crashed into the analytical routine.  This was his fault.  The monster who hated him wanted to kill him.  Danno had cautioned him, but he was too proud and stubborn to heed the warnings.  Now Danno paid the price for the lack of security.  Why did the maniac go after his detective? 

 

From the start of this roller-coaster ride from Hell he felt raw inside.  The old hauntings, the never-forgotten pain dredged up with fresh insult.  Now his closest friend gravely injured because of some unknown event in his past.  Something he had done called this wrathful vengeance upon him.  He still didn’t understand what or why or whom.

 

Pacing at the end of the corridor near ICU, McGarrett stopped when he saw the approach of his two detectives.  Kelly and Lukela were grimly somber and gave their reports in subdued tones.

 

“How’s Danny?”

 

McGarrett didn’t make eye contact with Chin Ho, instead staring at his fisted, stained hands.  “Not good.”  His voice was unsteady and strained, barely keeping the vulnerable emotions in check.  “Concussion.  He lost a lot of blood from a bad slice in his leg.  The worst is three ribs were broken, one penetrated a lung.”  He ground his teeth.  “And the doctor thought Danno was lucky.”

 

Lukela was philosophical.  “At least he’s alive.”

 

Barely,’ Steve wanted to fling back, in no mood to be comforted.  “They’ll let me see him when he’s settled in ICU.” 

 

Hoping to distract his consternation, he asked about the investigation. 

 

“No trace on the car yet, Steve, but we can’t expect much with so little to go on.”

 

“Did you remember anything else about the license plate or something unusual about the model?”

 

“No,” he growled.  

 

All he remembered was the body catapulting into the LTD and landing on the ground.  He was a cop.  Now, an eyewitness to a malicious attack on his officer and he couldn’t offer any useful information!  The head of Five-0 was a spectator and completely useless to the investigations!  

 

“Why did he go after Danno?” he agonized, barely audible.  “I am the target!”

 

Not expecting a response to his remorse, the silence caught his attention.  Glancing at his colleagues, the surprised – no – suspicious -- fleeting looks exchanged by his officers alerted him. 

 

“What?”

 

“Danny didn’t show you the last letter?”

 

“No.”  He glared at Kelly.  “What about it?”

 

“It wasn’t a threat to you.  This time it said Danny deserved to die and he would.”  He stopped and glanced at Lukela, as if wondering if he should go on.  “I guess he didn’t have time to let you know.”

 

Delivering the rest of the bad news, Duke finished, “It said he deserved to die like your father.”

 

Sickening waves of revulsion swept through his system, followed almost immediately with anger.  Danno had deliberately deceived him!  No doubt trying to protect him from further anxiety, Danno had not exactly lied, but withheld vital information.  His friend deliberately deceived him!  The misguided favor nearly killed Danno.

 

Livid, McGarrett dismissed his men.  He went to wash up, simmering with wrath.  Then, with hardly restrained temper, debated with the duty nurse until she allowed him to enter Williams’ room.  He charged in, ire forcing speed and abruptness to his onslaught. 

 

Just inside the door of the room he stopped.  The anger still raged just under the surface, but it was nearly washed cold in the chill of fear and pity; fury and compassion; overwhelming him at the sight of his badly injured friend.

 

Danno lay still and pale on the bed, covered in bandages and IV tubes.  McGarrett wanted to kick in the nearest wall – bitterly incensed over the deception.  Why did Danno think he could keep such imperative evidence a secret?  The understanding that it was again Danno’s misguided sense of protection fueling his foolish deeds made the reality of the attempted murder both more difficult to accept, and more poignant.

 

Simultaneously, he felt like crying at the terrific dread; at the attack, at the and nearly painful relief that Danno would live, and the terror that he was nearly killed.  He felt weak and broken inside thinking about the severe wounds sustained by his friend and the excruciating recovery ahead. Days in the hospital and weeks of recuperation pending.  And still the looming threat of the unseen assailant threatened from some shadowy perch out there.

 

Ever-present, in the back of his mind, of course, was the understanding that this was his fault.  He was a victim here, but being a target made those around him targets as well.  Something he had not taken into account when he continually and adamantly refused offers of protection.  He never thought the threat would expand to include his friend.  If he had listened to Danno’s warnings a stronger security force would have been at the Palace.  Danno might not be lying here gravely injured. 

 

Seething, McGarrett paced, struggling to come to terms with the divergent emotions tearing at him.  When he finally settled and the anger burned away to a low simmer, he paused to stand at the bedside and check his friend.  Dull blue eyes stared back at him.

 

Words caught in his throat.  “Danno.”  He shook his head, uncertain what to say.  He cleared his throat, but nothing else came out beyond the strangled regret.

 

“You okay?” Danny mumbled.

 

It was a loaded question that he could not answer honestly.  Looking at his perilously injured friend, Steve knew he would not be all right for a while.  Knowing Dan focused on an entirely different level, he responded accordingly.

 

“A lot better than you.”

 

“Catch him?”

 

McGarrett shook his head.  “Not yet,” he whispered, clearing his throat again to attain a modicum of steadiness.  “How are you?”

 

“Can’t think – sore – too slow . . . .“

 

McGarrett gripped onto his arm, wanting to comfort him.  “Not much you can do against a car.”  The impotent ferocity flared, and instead of consolation and reassurance, he wanted to lambaste this misguided kid brother who dared to put himself in danger in Steve’s place.  In the next breath he wanted to apologize that he had brought danger into his house.  The exasperation won out.

 

“What did you think you were doing?”

 

Dan flinched at the verbal onslaught.  Steve’s anger instantly dissipated into sympathy and his tone revealed the sorrow, not the resentment, he had felt since the attack. 

 

“Why didn’t you tell me about the last note?  I could have –  he shook his head and sighed.  “We could have done -- something.” The anger flared again.  Dammit, you could have been killed, Danno!”

 

“Sorry,“ Williams’ winced.  “Mistake.”

 

Grimacing, McGarrett patted his arm.   “I know you were only trying to watch out for me.  You have to understand . . . .   It tore him up inside to think how close he had come to losing his friend.  Because someone wanted to kill him.  Seeing the weak, injured officer overwhelmed him with regret and sadness, washing away the annoyance at the insubordination.  “You know how I hate it when something happens to one of my guys,” he concluded softly. 

 

Dan nodded.  “Didn’t want you to worry.  You had – enough on – your mind.”

 

Not as much as I do now,’ he thought, but responded hoarsely, “I can take care of myself, Danno.  And I promise you there is no where on this rock that this devil is going to be able to hide now.”  He patted the cool hand that he still held onto.  “I promise.  I’ve got guards posted around the clock.  You’re going to be completely protected.”

 

“You, too.”  His eyes closed.  “Be safe.”

 

That plea of concern for his security stabbed him with a pang of anguish.  He nodded an agreement, but Williams was already drifting off to sleep.  “I will,” he whispered, then vowed,” you will be, too.”

 

Lingering a moment to assure his friend was breathing evenly and in no medical crisis, he stepped away.  At the door, he took a deep breath, then exited, prepared to pick up the gauntlet and take care of whoever had rained terror and pain upon his house.

 

 

*****

 

Satisfied an HPD guard was stationed outside of Williams’ room in ICU, and sentries at the entrances and exits of the hospital, he checked in on Danno again..  The patient was asleep and he charged away, more resolved than ever to catch the inhuman monster who was terrorizing them.

 

Duke emerged from the elevator and met him in the hall.  “Steve, you won’t believe this!  We just found the white Thunderbird!  We’re pretty sure it’s the right one.  There’s a black gash in the side from where it hit Danny’s car.  Che’s down there now checking it out.  And you won’t believe where we found it!  In the physician’s parking lot of the hospital!”

 

“This hospital?”

 

“Yeah.  Chin is downstairs questioning the owner right now.  Here’s the kicker.  The owner’s a surgeon who has been here monitoring a critical patient since this afternoon.  He has a whole staff corroborating his alibi.”

 

“So the car was stolen,” McGarrett ruminated, his mind speeding through errant clues and connecting them with light speed.  “Then returned to the lot, so the driver?  Why?”

 

“It doesn’t make sense,” Lukela admitted around a yawn.

 

It was the first time he was reminded that it was late into the night – hours had been spent waiting here while doctor’s worked to save Williams’ life.  Most of the rest of the world was winding down from the day, but Five-0 was on the job until Danno’s attacker was caught.

 

“Maybe he works here.  The doctor’s lounge isn’t always watched and almost anyone familiar with the routine could lift the keys and borrow the car.”

 

Re-entering the elevator, McGarrett punched the down button.  “Remember the reports we have about the mysterious figure crossing Beretania and spotted by the Palace at odd hours?”

 

“Then why bring the car back?”

 

McGarrett shrugged.  “Anybody questioning the staff yet?”

 

“Yeah, Officer Ross is helping Chin.”

 

The elevator opened and they discussed possible candidates for their suspect.  The only consistent description they had, that fit the clues, was the diminutive size of the perpetrator.  As far as Duke had seen, none of the staff was small enough to be mistaken for a kid.

 

The third floor doctor’s’ lounge was a central meeting place for physicians and it was a large,  comfortable room adjoining a locker room where personal effects were kept.  Nurses and PA’s were allowed in the staff room that also doubled as a general relaxation room with a TV, vending machines,  and couches and chairs.  The room was available to the all the third floor employees, including the various personnel in Mental Health, Surgery and Internal Medicine.

 

McGarrett shadowed his officers in a few interrogations, but soon realized he was not needed for the one-on-one with people who were not suspects.  Since it was late into the night shift a number of key personnel were not there.  He asked to go through employee records and permission was slow in coming. 

 

The lounge was crowded with more HPD officers and medical staff on breaks.  Some people in loose white shirts mingled, shyly asking the police or medical aides their names, but McGarrett noticed there was something a little off about the aides. 

 

He learned that they were semi-paroled mental patients from the nearby ward.  Some inmates were part of a program allowing them to work supervised jobs around the hospital.  Others were allowed to leave the hospital on Mondays and Thursdays.  Some of the patients close to being cured were in out-patient programs and half-way houses, preparing them for a return to the real world.

 

Duke joined him when Steve was looking over the current duty roster for the surgery department. The subliminal information finally coalesced into clarity.  He rushed over to the hospital supervisor who was reluctantly helping with their inquiries.

 

“The mental patients are allowed to leave the hospital every Monday and Thursday?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“I want a list of those names.”  Words ran together in a rush.  “And the names of everyone who was out today.”

 

Nearby, Chin picked up on his excitement.  “What’s the tie-in?”

 

“I got the letters on Tuesdays and Fridays.”

 

“One day for mailing,” Chin comprehended.

 

“The package and Danno’s hit were on a Monday, and a Thursday.” 

 

McGarrett and Kelly reviewed the lists for that week.  Over twenty names were there, and almost every one for Thursday matched the list for Monday.  He started to jot down the dates, from memory, when the menacing letters had arrived.  The administrator said it would take time to work out all the dates and names.  Steve then demanded the files on all the patients, and the administrator adamantly refused.  Every psychiatrist would have to be notified and give permission for records to be released to the police.

 

Duke suggested they start with the youth patients, and was surprised there were no people on the program under the age of twenty-five.

 

“Short patients,” McGarrett modified.  “Anyone who would pass as a youngster?”

 

That would require a staff nurse or physician’s aide to assist since the administrator knew none of the patients in question.  Instead of waiting, McGarrett and Lukela stormed down to the Mental Ward and confronted the duty nurse, with the administrator in tow.  When asked who on the list was short and small in stature, the nurse immediately determined only one person could qualify.

 

“Ruth Josephs,” she responded with finality.  “A young lady who has had a very tough life.”

 

“Josephs.”  A name that had been hovering around the edges of the investigation.  “I’d like to see her file.”

 

McGarrett could not access the records without permission.  The administrator left to call the treating psychiatrist.  Steve sympathetically asked the nurse to tell him as much as she could without violating privileged information.   He knew he was pushing the legal limits here, but Danno’s safety was worth the risk of complications in court.

 

“I really can’t help you,” the woman reluctantly reminded.

 

“You said Ruth had a tough life.  What happened?  Generally.  Drugs?  Abuse?”  The woman’s mouth was set in a firm line and he poured on his most sincere and compassionate tone.  “Your patient might be responsible for critically injuring one of my officers tonight.  Until she is apprehended, the danger continues for my detective.  You might be saving his life if you can tell me anything.  Can I see this Miss Josephs?”

 

“No, visitation except for family members is forbidden without the doctor’s permission.  She couldn’t possibly be a threat to anyone.  She’s just a little slip of a girl, barely out of her teens.  And poor thing, she’s never been quite right.”  Hesitating, she sighed with confusion.  “Ruth saw her father commit suicide a few years ago.”

 

A small young woman.  That could account for the diminutive prints.  The news chilled him and his instincts immediately spiked.  A mental patient who watched her father's suicide.  Somehow, in some twisted way, could the woman have made a connection with his father?  And the name -- it was too much of coincidence.  Josephs. 

 

Requesting again to see the file, he was refused.  He asked if she could at least confirm or deny that Ruth’s  blood was Type B.  Surprised, the nurse confirmed it was B.  Intently, he asked about relatives.

 

“I don’t know . . . .”

 

McGarrett reminded her of the importance of the investigation.  Lives were at stake.  The urgency, the appeal to protect others seemed to register and she reluctantly agreed to leak a bit more information.

 

“She was making progress when her only brother – well, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to tell you, since this is so important.  You would know this anyway.  Her only brother was killed by the police a year or so ago.”

 

Steve could hardly get the question out.  “How?”

 

“I don’t remember the details.  It set her back, though.  She’s always been immature and struggling.  To be expected with her family situation I suppose.”

 

“Family situation?”

 

The nurse frowned and dropped her voice.  “Let’s just say there were problems with her father before he died.  She took a turn for the worse when her brother died.”

 

“Eddie Josephs.”

 

The nurse was thoughtful.  “Yes, I think that was his name.  So you do know him.”

 

It hit him like a flash of light and he nearly stopped breathing.  Eddie Josephs.  The psycho young man with major problems with authority. Paranoid schizophrenia.  Over a year ago he had killed innocent people in a series of copycat murders.  The victims were pawns, instruments to goad and defeat McGarrett and Five-0.  He had used articles in Honolulu Magazine - spring and summer 1973 -- 20 weeks of articles where Five-0 and sensational were showcased.  The articles Danno had mentioned that had revealed information about his father’s death.

 

Eddie Josephs.  Eddie was dead.  They had suspected some connection with him right from the beginning, but had turned up no connection with Ruth during their investigation.  Not that they found, he bitterly remonstrated now.  A vital clue they had missed could have saved Danno from ending up in ICU.  Anger at the senseless attacks, at the missed opportunities, lent an edge to his motivation.  Right now, this unlikely suspect was at the top of his list.

 

Eddie’s capture was one that he still remembered with horror.  They were listening to the madman rant.  Before Danno could cuff Eddie, the deranged young man threw himself out a window to his death.  Dan had been so upset that he let down his guard and lost Josephs.

 

Eddie Josephs.  Ruth Josephs.  The obviously disturbed girl was seeking vengeance for her brother Eddie.  How had she flown under their radar?  Danno was checking into relatives of the nut case that had sent the letters originally.  How had she evaded their inquiries?  Only a question that would be answered with hindsight.  Far too late to help Danno.

 

“Only a few weeks ago she made enough progress to go on the day-furlough detail.”

 

“A few weeks ago?”  Almost the time the hate letters started.

 

Duke asked, “She has access to the staff lounge on this floor?”

 

“Of course.  It’s part of her recovery program.  She’s an aide, too.  She takes coffee refills to the lounges and does little things to help the staff.”

 

Hardly able to contain his agitation, he demanded he be allowed to question the girl.  Again, he was met with opposition.  He paced away, deciding to harass the administrator until he received cooperation. 

 

Impatiently he tracked down the administrator and pressured the man until he at least ordered the psychiatric staff to check on Ruth’s whereabouts and if anyone had seen her leave or return tonight.  Angry, he asked Duke the rhetorical question of why they had not found Ruth Josephs before.

 

Before Lukela could respond, the nurse said Ruth had been there since she was a teen.  Records would have been in juvenile jurisdiction. 

 

One of the Mental Ward attendants then called back in a frantic voice, saying the other attendant was dead.  The ward was unlocked and McGarrett, Chin and several HPD officers stormed into the eerily quiet section.  In a small supply room they found a man, obviously dead, lying on the floor.  A broken coffee mug, with spilled coffee was nearby. The man’s face and white uniform were brown with coffee stains, as if he had been drinking when attacked.  Stab wounds marked up his back and chest, but the slashed throat was probably the cause of death. 

 

Crouching beside the body, Steve checked just to make sure. “Dead.”

 

Chin nodded.

 

Steve turned to the stunned nurse and demanded they go to Ruth Josephs’ room.  Speechless, she unsteadily lead the troupe down the hall and as the nurse searched for the appropriate key on her key ring, McGarrett tried the door.  It opened, and he was not surprised to find the small room empty.

 

In a glance he saw newspaper clipping plastered on the walls.  Pictures of himself and his staff; the Palace.  Magazine were strewn across a small table.  The same magazine that ran the series of articles Eddie used for all his information.  On the window sill was a framed photograph of Eddie.  There was no time to investigate.  His priority was Danno, but the initial glimpse into this nest told him everything he needed to know about his stalker.

 

To the officers he ordered a lock down of the hospital.  No one in or out until they found the girl.  He ordered Chin and Duke to get more manpower and extend the search to the grounds.  While the nurse gave the officers a description, Steve raced back to the main staff lounge and asked if anyone had seen Ruth.  One nurse thought she’d seen Ruth taking a snack cart down the hall.

 

The entire floor was searched and no cart or suspect was found.  After assuring he had done all he could, he felt the best place to be was where he would do the most good.  For himself and his stricken officer.  He would feel a lot better if he took on the personal responsibility of guarding Williams.

 

Stopping at the ICU desk, he was disturbed to find no one there.  Jogging around the corner, he gasped when he saw the sentry officer lying on the floor at the end of the hall.  Unfortunately, the policeman must have succumbed to Ruth’s deceptive appearance and it opened him up to attack.  It seemed ridiculous that a diminutive, slight girl could overpower and kill trained policemen.  The officer’s body was gashed red from multiple stab wounds.  Copious amounts of blood pooled on the tile and dripped a trail away from the body.

 

Where had she obtained a weapon?  In her advantage, none of the poor victims expected an attack from a young person they knew.  The surprise must have been the key.  Also adding power was murderous insanity and deranged commitment from the misleadingly slight and quiet girl. 

 

Drawing his gun, he raced along the red stains, cold with fear as the trial ran to Williams’ room.  Bursting in he spotted a small figure in white, wielding a scalpel, hovering over Dan’s unconscious form. 

 

His entrance startled her and she swiftly grabbed Dan, using him as a shield.  The barely conscious Williams tried to fight back, but she had him in a headlock and he could barely breathe -- could not offer any resistance in his handicapped and weak condition.  Risky to shoot her while she was so close to his friend, he still took aim. 

 

“Drop it!”

 

The scalpel in her shaky hand slid onto Dan’s neck.  “He deserves to die!  Just like my father!  The blood -- all the blood!” 

 

Deranged and unstable, she coursed the blade to cut into the base of Dan’s neck.  He winced, but was too weak to react further.  The slash was shallow, not bleeding too much.  In her unbalanced state, she was capable of killing, but right now, she was clumsily causing pain, and not life-threatening injuries. 

 

Steve couldn’t wait much longer.  If he fired now her hand could cut right through the jugular. 

He ignored the incoherent rantings and concentrated on the trembling hand sliding an incision across Dan’s skin, blood dripping on the sliced neck.  Agonizing over the torturous wound slowly inflicted on his friend, he had to wait.  The scalpel slid across, away from the jugular.  When her hand raised above Dan’s face, Steve fired.

 

The shot clipped her arm and she stumbled back.  Part of the equipment came with her; IVs, lines and tubes flying, monitors crashing to the ground.  Bleeding, gasping, groaning, Williams slid, about to tumble off the other side of the bed to the floor. 

 

Steve dashed over and caught Williams before the limp body hit the ground.   His gun was knocked out of his grasp and he kicked it away from Ruth’s reach as he carefully dragged his friend out of harm’s way.  Like a wild animal, the slight woman screamed, flailing away, throwing every possible object she could seize at McGarrett and his burden.  In her frenzy, she thrashed out to stab Williams, while McGarrett fought to grab Ruth and simultaneously shielding his detective. 

 

One of her agitated stabs hit it’s mark, slicing Steve’s arm.  Biting back a cry, he fell back, crashing into the wall and sliding to the floor.  Blood dripping along the painful slash on his right arm, he focused on protecting his distressed friend and gave up trying to grab her.  Hardly able to move his injured limb, he warily watched her, gauging his chances of grabbing his gun that was far out of reach, or staying close to Dan.  Leaning Williams against the wall, Steve slid over to make a grab for his revolver.  While he sorted through the objects he noted Ruth had fled.

 

Ignoring his own pain, he turned his attention back to his friend.  Holding onto Danno, he covered the long, bleeding gash on the neck with his hand.  The slice along the jaw-line seemed superficial, but copious.    Pressing his hand to the wound, he stridently called for help.  Finally, a nurse appeared and he ordered her to find a doctor and get bandages. 

 

Eyes closed, Williams leaned against him, breathing with difficulty.  His weak grip on McGarrett’s hand told him his friend was still alive and fighting, but the injuries and shock were breaking down his already depleted condition. 

 

A doctor and nurse appeared and worked on patching the wound and reconnecting the appropriate tubes.  He watched anxiously, itching to be off in pursuit of the criminal who had nearly killed his friend, but too concerned with Danno’s health to leave.  Only when he was sure Danno was all right did he retrieve his revolver and leave the room.

 

The muscles in his right arm hurt all the way from finger to shoulder, so he held the revolver in his left hand.  Checking the corridor, he saw another doctor and nurse running toward him.  In the other direction, he noted Ruth crouched like a cornered animal at the end of the hall, waving a blade at him.  Racing toward her, he aimed his revolver as he closed the distance.  Loss of blood was starting to make him light-headed.  With determination, he focused on his target.

 

“There’s nowhere you can go!  The hospital is sealed! Drop your weapon!”

 

Ruth crawled to the side and slammed into the exit door of the emergency stairs, but did not enter the stairwell.  Instead, she screamed.  Her face, in the bright light of the corridor, washed with madness and pain.    

 

“You deserve to die!” she shouted as she faced him.  She still held the bloody scalpel in her hand.  “You deserve the blood!  You and Williams killed my brother!”

 

Steve slowed, keeping a safe distance, maintaining a steady aim.  The girl was so deranged there was no telling what she might do.  “We didn’t kill him.  He threw himself out a window.”

 

“Lie!”

 

“We wanted to arrest him –“

 

“You killed him!  Williams killed him!  He didn’t deserve to die!  My father deserved to die!  You deserve to die! His blood was everywhere.  I made sure of that!”

 

Steve’s stomach rippled with revulsion.  “You killed your father?”

 

“They all said it was suicide!  He needed to die!  The blood needed to flow!  Eddie didn’t kill himself.  He shouldn’t have died.  You deserve to die!”  She pulled at her hair and screamed.  “Eddie – where is Eddie?!  She rubbed the blood from one hand against the other.  “Eddie!”

 

Suddenly, she spun and fled to the stairwell before McGarrett could stop her.  He cautiously followed, gun still trained on the fugitive.  In the closed stairwell he heard nothing.  The silence was unnerving and he carefully checked behind the door.  Then up and down the steps.  No lurking threat.  Then he glanced down between the railing.  Far below, several flights, Ruth’s small body was twisted on rails.

 

Wincing, he jogged down, slowing cautiously when he reached her position.  Blood splattered the concrete stairs, the metal handholds and the once white jacket.  He didn’t have to check for a pulse, the open, vacant eyes testified to the certainty of death.  The ironic twist of fate turned his stomach.  Did she jump, as her brother had?  Did she accidentally fall when fleeing from him?  He might never know.  He left the grotesque body as it was and trudged back upstairs.

 

In Williams’ room, the doctor was finishing his ministrations.  The neck wounds were superficial, and except for some bleeding where IV lines were yanked from his arm, Dan seemed fine.  No serious set back to recovery.  The doctor then checked out McGarrett, insisting there would need to be stitches.  Steve demanded the doctor do the work right there where he could keep an eye on Williams.

 

Chin, Duke and several HPD officers came in and out and finally lingered in the hall.  The staff nurse who had been hit on the head would be all right.  The other casualties were dead.  Considering the mania and dedicated blood-lust, the body count could have been worse.  

 

Steve listened to his detective’s reports on the details of Ruth’s body and the rest of the investigation.  Spent, he collapsed in a chair in Williams’ room, surprised he was shaking and shivering with cold.  The only calm he found was seeing the calm, restful expression on Dan’s face – drugged into peaceful sleep to restore him after the events that had nearly killed him.

 

 

*****

 

 

“Well, we knew we were dealing with a first-class psycho,” Dan concluded grimly as he sat up in bed, shaking his head.  “Unfortunately, from the beginning, we didn’t realize how crazy -- or  deadly -- she was.”  His face reflected the puzzlement.  “Or that she was a she.”

 

The bright sun shone through the window and McGarrett paced in and out of the sun-stripes reflected on the floor of the room.  The bandages under his shirtsleeve itched, and he refrained from scratching them.  The harrowing experience was still draining; physically and emotionally disturbing. 

 

“Yeah,” Steve quietly agreed. 

 

“I can’t believe Manicote ordered an IA investigation.  Sometimes I don’t know what he’s thinking or who’s side he’s on.  Why would he do that to you?”

 

The indignant loyalty – so typical and welcome – warmed his heart and Steve grinned.  “Just to clear the air, Danno.  Ruth’s death was suspicious considering what she put us through and how her brother died.  How she died.”

 

The special DA inquiry was routine, but McGarrett had welcomed the scrutiny to assure there were no doubts about Ruth’s death being accidental.  The last thing he needed was to be accused – in the press or by HPD – that he might have manipulated her into jumping, or even pushed her over the railing himself. 

 

The provocation was certainly there, that was obvious.  She had stalked and threatened him, killed two others by poison, and nearly killed Williams twice in one night.  Some would have considered it appropriate for him to help her down the middle of the staircase.  With a history of mental problems and confessing to killing her father, she would never see the inside of a jail.  She would have stayed in a mental hospital and a few years down the road perhaps been in another out-patient program because of her supposed improvement.

 

“Last year, if I hadn’t let Eddie get away from me –“

 

“Danno, you can’t blame yourself for the actions of a disturbed criminal.  Eddie, and his sister, were insane.”  Absently, he rubbed his sore arm.  “We can only speculate on the causes and effects.”

 

What they did know, McGarrett shared with Dan.  A search of Ruth’s room revealed information about Steve’s dad from one of the magazine articles Eddie used for his killing spree.  Clippings showed her obsession with Five-0’s top two officers.  Articles in her room circled and smeared with blood – detailed Steve and DA’s attempt to arrest Eddie and his unfortunate suicide.

 

To strengthen their case, they also found stationary taken from hospital.  Ruth’s fingerprints in the stolen doctor’s car.  Proof she had access in and out of hospital on the days they received attacks or the day before they received letters.

 

Eddie, a regular visitor to Ruth, apparently shared everything with her.  She, in turn, shared his paranoia and hatred for authority.  She knew all about Five-0, Steve and Dan from the articles. 

 

Hospital and police records indicated their father was abusive; Ruth being a frequent visitor to the hospital for broken bones or beatings.  When he died of slashed wrists, no one suspected that Ruth might have killed him.  A few years before Eddie started his serial murders, Ruth was hospitalized after the father’s death.  Her psychosis was blamed on finding her father’s body, and she was placed in a mental institution. 

 

With hindsight, the mental instability of the family, the father’s death, the violence all came together.  McGarrett wished someone would have caught the problems long ago, before they developed into a crisis, but he experienced that feeling frequently.  His job was stopping people after they had already gone over the boundaries of the law.  He cleaned up after others let these disturbed people through the cracks of society.

 

“Why didn’t she turn up when we did a track of Eddie’s relatives?”

 

“She was a kid when she came here to Hawaii and into this hospital.  State records were sealed because she was a juvenile witness to her father’s suicide.  We never thought to dig deeper into Eddie’s past.”

 

“I didn’t.”

 

“You’re not the only officer on staff, Danno,” was the rather sharp retort to the guilt.  “She caught us off our guard and we never got on the right track.”

 

“So what set her off?”

 

Shrugging, McGarrett paced over to the window and gazed out at the perfect sunshine beaming on the trees and grass outside the hospital.  “I don’t think we’ll ever know.  This is just guess work and educated speculation after the fact.  Only Ruth knows for sure.  Maybe she had revenge in mind ever since Eddie died.  Or, when they allowed her out she might have been walking across the grounds and spotted us at the Palace.  Maybe it triggered something.  It could have been completely random.  Or, she would have obsessed over those magazines Eddie must have brought her.  Obsessed about Five-0 and us.”

 

Williams snorted.  “Or maybe she saw us here during one of our frequent visits.”

 

“Yeah,” Steve sighed sadly.  This was an all too familiar setting for Five-0 officers.

 

Williams shook his head in amazed regret.  Pupule.  It was such a complicated maze from beginning to end.  At least it’s over.”

 

“Yeah.”  He eyed his friend with irritation.  “At least for her.  But for you,” his eyes narrowed and he shook his head.  “You’re never going to withhold facts from me again are you?”  The stern tone was clearly a warning.

 

“Sorry, Steve, but I didn’t want you worrying --“

 

The voice was harsh.  “I mean it, Danno.”

 

Properly chastened, Danny nodded.  “I know.  Sorry.”

 

Relaxing a little that there would be no more coups, he nodded.  Pleased he was in complete control again, he reminded, “I can take care of myself, you know, Danno.”

 

Dan’s eyebrows raised and he nodded toward Steve’s bandaged arm.  “Really?” 

 

McGarrett scowled.  “I don’t need you protecting me by keeping secrets.” His tone softened as he recalled how his anger at the insubordination had been overpowered by the anxiety over Danno’s health.  “It nearly cost you your life.  How can I do a good job if I don’t have all the information?  Or if I have to worry about you?” 

 

“It won’t happen again.”

 

“I know.”

 

This was partially his own fault, of course.  He had built a tight, bonded unit with Five-0.  They took care of each other.  They were ohana.  It was inevitable they would take risks for each other that were unwarranted, even crazy.  It was a different kind of madness than what they saw from Eddie and Ruth.  It was their own kind of passionate folly that pushed them to extremes within their own ranks. 

 

He had demanded loyalty and dependence from his men.  They, in turn, showered him with such devotion it was sometimes staggering to comprehend.  Such intensity was not what he bargained for when he organized Five-0, but it was part of what made them the best.  Not just the best cops.  The best friends.

 

 

PAU