BLOOD SUMMONS

By gm and BH

 

 

In peace, there's nothing so becomes a man as modest stillness, and humility; but when the blast of war blows in our ears, then imitate the action of the tiger, stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood...now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide, hold hard the breath, and bend up every spirit to its full height!

William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616), 'The Life of King Henry V'

 

 

Spring 1979

 

 

As the Mercury roared past the line of squad cars tinted blue with flashing lights, Steve McGarrett's mood deepened from serious to grim. Crowded with a heavy show of HPD personnel, this operation already took on the feel of a tense show down. Noting many of the officers they passed were donning flak jackets, McGarrett felt the gravity of his position as the leader of these good men and women who were about to put their lives on the line. Next to him, his colleague, Dan Williams, seemed anxious, reacting to the extreme show of force.

 

Slamming to a halt next to two unmarked sedans, McGarrett launched from the car.  Williams automatically moved to the trunk and removed his M16 rifle, skipping to catch up with McGarrett as the chief briskly moved through the ranks of uniformed policemen.

 

With a nod of approval, McGarrett acknowledged his colleague's appropriate choice of action. Before the day was out, the forces of law and order might need Danno's expertise at sharp-shooting, just as they might need the bullet-proof vests. The criminals they were up against today had proven dangerously lethal in the past and hopefully would not choose to take those options now. However, Five-0 and HPD could not count on that.

 

With a greeting, McGarrett met Duke Lukela and followed him to the knot of plain-clothes officers standing behind a tin shed outside the largest warehouse on the dock. Backed against a long row of storage buildings for SEA/LAND cargo trailers, they were at the edge of a mammoth, metal canyon of transport boxes stretched for a half mile along the waterfront.

 

Lukela came to a stop next to a slight, short woman in a blue pantsuit. Her long, dark hair was tied back with a Hawaiian print scarf at the nape of her neck, and sunglasses tinted her exotic, Asian eyes. She could have walked out of any boutique in Los Angeles, Hong Kong, or London and appeared at home, but that would only be at first glance. Anyone observing with more scrutiny would see everything about Homicide Lieutenant Helen Wong's manner was crisply business. While shorter than all of the men present, and much shorter than McGarrett and Lukela, Wong's tone and manner were as tough as any patrol sergeant.

 

"And remember," she was saying to the ranking officers surrounding her, "watch yourselves. These smugglers have taken out a security guard and a dockworker.” To her closest colleague, Sergeant Ted Ho, she stabbed at him with an emphasizing finger. “Don't let them add a cop to the list.” She turned and gave a nod to the Five-0 officers. "Gentlemen, you made it just in time. Looks like we have these guys cornered.” There was a hint of triumph and relief in the terse declaration. "We'll know in a few minutes. I've got some officers moving around to the back. When they signal, we'll go in."

 

Ho, hardly more than a few inches taller than her, and just as thin, gave her a crisp, “Yes, ma’am,” then stepped back as a show of respect for the head of Five-0. “Sir,” he saluted.

 

McGarrett asked about deployment and how many of the criminals  were thought to be inside the warehouse. No specifics, but two homicide officers had trailed one of the known tong members here less than a half hour ago and he was still inside. No one had exited, and it was thought at least some of the gang would still be inside.

 

The joint case had started almost two weeks before when Five-0's interest in a smuggling ring, pushing everything from drugs to ancient artifacts, collided with an HPD investigation into the murders of a dock security guard and a shipping company employee. The security guard also had been feeding Five-0 – Dan and Duke – information about illegal shipments. Then, the poor snitch turned up dead. They suspected the guard could have been playing both sides in a dangerous game and his smuggling employers had discovered his duplicity, but there was no evidence to back that theory.

 

The guard, dockworker, and a few other bodies, had turned up around Oahu the last few months with a distinct method of murder. They had been strangled with a single hand in a unique pressure to the jugular, nicknamed a Shoulin bruise.

 

Normally, Five-0 would have taken over the capital case, but Wong was insistent that she be part of the operation, and on Williams’ advocacy (he knew Wong and vouched she could be a strong asset to the investigation. Especially when the police unit was a man short since Chin Ho Kelly's death almost a year ago). She proved to be an efficient and dedicated officer who quickly linked the two cases. McGarrett allowed Wong and her team to take on some of the responsibilities and he had not been disappointed.

 

"Do you have sharpshooters placed?" Williams asked her.

 

"Not yet. Glad we waited for the best," she inclined her head and offered a tight smile. "You want to find some high ground?"

 

Williams pointed toward a set of metal stairs on the outside of the warehouse. Having studied the lay out on his way, his mind was already made up. "Yeah. Should be a room with a view up there. Looks like the best spot.”

 

He glanced at McGarrett, who offered a nod of approval. "Careful," McGarrett warned.

 

"I'll see you later." With a nod of understanding, Williams jogged away.

 

Five-0 had been on the case of the particularly nasty, efficient smuggling group for months. More deadly and insidious than the gem smugglers encountered last year {fanfic – THE CHRISTMAS OF SECOND CHANCES} . This tong, out of Asia, smuggled drugs and anything else they could move. They instilled fear in those who came in contact with them – thus the reluctance of anyone to talk to the police. The tong was also well organized, seemingly compartmentalized in structure so no one could – or would – inform against them.

 

The murder of the guard brought a different level of fear, apparently motivated by self preservation, and little snippets of street talk had been dropping to HPD and Five-0.  Thanks to the coconut wireless, both agencies were met on the dock today, hoping for a bust of tong members, illicit cargo, and evidence as to the perpetrators of the murder.

 

Wong briefed McGarrett and Lukela on the plan and the layout of the interior of the warehouse. With part of his mind on the consultation, the head of Five-0 also kept an eye on Williams, who was cautiously taking the metal steps one at a time in his slow, silent, but sure ascent to the top platform. Once he reached the landing, he waited at the door to what had to be an upper level of the warehouse.

 

Watching from below, McGarrett tensed when Williams tried the doorknob and signaled a thumbs-up sign. So, Danno could give them high back up in the coming action. Just as long as he didn't run into any surprises up there.

 

Wong's plan was concise and efficient -- hit the two ground floor entrances of the warehouse simultaneously, with Williams covering them from the upper door. Inside, they expected armed smugglers who may or may not resist. HPD was as prepared as possible for that eventuality, but McGarrett agreed this was the time to move. This was the first occasion they had found a possible home ground for the smuggler/murderers and they could not let the opportunity go to waste.

 

Wong's walkie-talkie beeped and she responded. The officers were in position on the far side of the warehouse. She gave the signal to go. With a nod, she approved the men in front of her to move, and drew her revolver, running toward the main entrance. The officers on each side of the huge metal doors kicked them open.

 

McGarrett also drew his weapon and jogged forward, though much of his attention was on Williams, who had just entered from the top door. In the press of the action, he could not afford time to think through his distraction, but admitted a subliminal concern for Williams’ safety. As McGarrett crossed into the warehouse he heard no shots fired, and even as his eyes were adjusting to the dramatic change from bright Hawaiian sunlight to darkened interior, he glanced up, breathing a little easier when he noted Williams, rifle trained below, meeting no resistance.

 

The HPD officers coming through the back were herding three Asian men at gunpoint. Quickly searching the area, they found no other occupants.  According to Wong, the three men were members of the smuggling ring. Angry, she approached the men and commanded them in livid Chinese. Not for the first time in the last several months, Steve dearly wished to have Chin Ho beside him. He couldn't understand a word of what Wong was saying, but the men did not seem to like it much.

 

"Lieutenant," he quietly commented from behind. "I hope you are reciting them their rights."

 

Giving McGarrett a look that clearly relayed her irritation at his order -- either because she didn't like his interference or she did not think the criminals rated details of the legal system -- she ordered one of her men to see to the legalities. As the trio was taken away in handcuffs, she gave her own orders.

 

"The rest of you fan out and start searching for other members of the gang, and for evidence. Inside and out."

 

She did not bother to defer to him, and he was a little amused about that. Certainly not one to stand on ceremony, neither did she seem at all intimidated like her assistant Ho. Ted kept looking in his direction as if double-checking that Wong’s actions were all right with the head of Five-0.  Normally, when McGarrett was on the scene of a joint operation, he was clearly in charge.  In this case, he was taking a step back and awaiting her invitation for action.  Knowing Helen was a friend of Danno’s, he supposed the Five-0 mystique was not so impressive to her. Resisting a quirky smile, he turned and watched Williams jog over from the stairs.

 

"That was easy," the younger officer commented quietly as he fell into step beside McGarrett. "We letting HPD finish this?"

 

"Why, you want to help Lieutenant Wong?" Steve joked with a grin. Danno had worked with Wong before, but never revealed in exactly what capacity, or how closely. Steve used the more personal possibility as a continued form of taunting of his officer. "You keep telling me what a qualified officer she is."

 

"True," Dan countered, not commenting on the tease. "And I keep telling you she'd make a great addition to Five-0. This will be another commendation for her."

 

Just outside the warehouse, through the huge, open, metal doors, Lukela and several officers suddenly tensed, drawing their holstered revolvers. McGarrett hurriedly joined them, Williams just behind, both training their weapons on a cargo container the others were aiming toward.

 

"HPD! Whoever's in there, open up!" Wong shouted, her revolver pointed at the door.

 

The stiff tropical breeze swept off the ocean, stirring the scent of brine and flowers. The sun was bright and most of the officers squinted, their eyes slow to adjust from the darkness of the interior to the glare of the strong sunlight.

 

"It's locked from the outside," Lukela observed, pointing to the padlock and bolt at the side of the box.

 

Everyone relaxed, except Wong, who approached the metal unit warily. "Vei hai gam! Shing lai!" she shouted in her native tongue.

 

McGarrett couldn’t tell what it meant, but guessed it was her announcement that they were the police and they better open the door or something to that effect. Indistinct noise came from within the container. Considering the lock on the outside, it was apparent that whoever was hiding inside was not coming out on their own.

 

"Maybe it's a mongoose," one of the men snidely cracked.

 

Lukela took a large bolt cutter from a patrolman who snagged it from a nearby tool bench. The Five-0 detective snapped the lock off and everyone tensed again as Duke swung the latch free and pushed open the large metal door. Every gun was trained inside, every policeman ready to fire as meager light shone inside the dark box.

 

At first there seemed nothing within the shadowed container, then someone shined a flashlight inside. Gasps rippled from without and from within as the small beam fell on the cringing faces of about a dozen people. The powerful smell, caught on the trade wind and overwhelming the fresh ocean, hit McGarrett then, as he realized the container was filled with people -- smuggled human cargo.

 

Whipping out a handkerchief to cover his mouth and nose, McGarrett coughed against the rank odor assaulting him. Automatically stepping back, he holstered his weapon and stared, brain catching up with the initial reactions of revulsion and incredulity. Around him he could hear his colleagues coughing, moaning, swearing, retching -- the various natural responses to confronting something so wretchedly unbelievable in their island paradise.

 

Sergeant Ho, then Wong, recovered first. Ted shouted commands in Chinese, while Wong gave firm, but subdued words in a suggestive tone. The captives cowered, shaking with fear. Some hid their faces from the light or the officers. The lack of resistance brought quiet comments from many policemen. Ho took the lead, though, and stepped close, offering his hand to a middle-aged woman stooped with trepidation.

 

She said something to him and he seemed startled, then shook his head and quietly spoke to her in a language McGarrett could not understand or clearly catch. He thought he heard the word Danzhou. A province where Wong was born, he recalled. Ho reacted slightly, and then took the woman aside.

 

Wong bent low and talked with a teenaged girl. The refugee was confused and spoke haltingly in return. Wong seemed surprised, but recovered quickly and gave a reassuring pat to the girl’s hand. Then she rose, stepped back, and gave some kind of speech to the group in Chinese.

 

Ho joined McGarrett, translating under his breath, explaining Wong was trying to put the people at ease and get some answers. None of the refugees seemed inclined to give information. He said he couldn’t understand the one girl.  Several HPD officers stepped up and tried to reassure or comfort the captives.  Motions from a few of the detainees indicated they were thirsty.

 

The three Five-0 detectives were watching the recovery scene with dismay, allowing HPD to move in to provide the initial  manpower in the aftermath.  Steve’s stomach rippled with illness at the thought of the sequestered people imprisoned across the vast expanse of the ocean.  A flash of memory curled his lip – Korea -- his own personal and horrific brush with imprisonment in a cage.  Detesting the perpetrators of such cruelty, he sympathized with the victims and vowed to track down those responsible for this despicable crime.

 

One of the men in the container was angrily pointing at a dock worker lurking between a few of the HPD officers. Helen shushed the man, but turned a glare at the laborer. The thin, slight, Oriental man seemed about to flee, but Wong cracked a sharp order.

 

“Officers, arrest him!”

 

“Isn’t that Charlie?” Lukela commented to McGarrett and Williams.

 

“Charlie? Kim Dong’s pal?” the boss questioned.

 

McGarrett vaguely remembered the names. Dong was Duke’s informant, one who was working with HPD on the smuggling case and he had been murdered by the tong they were after. Killed with a vicious one-handed pinch to the neck – apparently the trade-mark form of murder for this gang. An effective way to silence the betrayers and the living who might think about disloyalty. That murder had really broken the case wide open, turning the smuggling investigation into homicide and involving the state police and HPD in a nasty Golden Triangle mob that they thought only smuggled drugs and other inanimate goods. Today, this new element of human shipments changed everything.

 

“I think I’m going to have a little talk with Charlie,” Duke decided, considering a little pressure to the small time thug might give them more information on this suddenly escalated case.

 

Williams followed along, hefting his rifle in a silent gesture of intimidation to the thug.  McGarrett joined them.

 

Pulling the little guy aside to speak confidentially, the man seemed truly frightened of Lukela.

 

“Feeling the pressure of the bust, huh, Charlie?”

 

“Hey, Duke, I don’t know nothin’.”

 

“Who are you so afraid of, bruddah?”

 

The guy was clearly terrified, looking around, as if expecting a meteor to suddenly strike him down. McGarrett suspected it was something much more earthly that instilled him with fear.

 

Steve stepped over and asked, “You afraid of the big bosses you work for? That they’ll be unhappy that you got caught? And this valuable shipment of illegal aliens fell into our hands? Time to come clean.”

 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he insisted.

 

Lukela shoved him, knowing it was a lost cause for now. To give the little creep something to think about, he reminded that Dong had been iced by the same employers Charlie was trying to protect. If Charlie wanted to live, he should come clean and appeal to Five-0 for safety.

 

Charlie’s lips pressed together in stubborn fear.

 

Dan, considering it useless, offered a shrug, and walked back to join his other colleagues.

 

Beside him, McGarrett voiced, “He’s more scared about his failure than being busted. We can lean on him later.”

 

Coming to a stop by the container, Williams was saved from the full view of the interior by the big metal doors. What he did see was enough to make his stomach crawl. He reached for his handkerchief to cover his face, and thus shifted his perspective. From the next building he spotted someone dash out of a door and skulk/skip along the side of the warehouse.

 

Turning to give the fleeing escapee his full attention, Williams handed his rifle off to McGarrett and broke into a sprint, giving chase as a matter of principle.  He realized the Oriental man was one of the gang members, so he increased his speed. Behind him he could hear other officers joining the pursuit. Ahead, the little Asian turned his skip to a sprint, then a run, and raced down the long warehouse.

 

A forklift came out of the nearest loading dock and the man leaped out of the way, attempting to catapult over the ramp. Misjudging the distances, he failed to clear the deadly metal forks protruding from the equipment. With a slam he hit the machine, then with a thud bounced onto the cement dock, then rolled over the edge and into the harbor.

 

Dan skidded to a stop at the rim of the dock, watching the man’s shirt -- the last visible part of him -- sink under the murky water. Glancing back, Dan noted he was the only one anywhere close to the scene. With a sigh of irritated resignation, he dropped his revolver on the deck, then removed his shoes and badge. Dashing another quick glance behind him he saw none of the other officers were near enough. There was no choice. Not worrying about the dirty ocean or the dangers inherent in trying to rescue someone out of the deep, slimy water, he took a huge breath as he dove into the ocean.

 

As expected, there was almost zero visibility in this dark region. He had come in almost on top of the man's position and did a quick mental trajectory guess as he angled down. Twice he tangled with giant meandering masses of kelp. Once he brushed against some trash and grabbed onto it, feeling for a form before categorizing that as a false lead. Farther down he hit what was flesh and bone in panic mode. The man must have regained consciousness in the water and was understandably alarmed.

 

Fighting against the victim; the deceptive, but healthy current, the blinding murk and trash, Dan slowly made his way to the surface. A strong swimmer in fit condition, he nonetheless started to feel weak from lack of air and exhausted from the exertion. Light shone above him like a diffused aurora. His lungs were tight and aching, his head fogging when he finally broke the surface.

 

The man in his arm lock had stopped struggling and was beyond terror. His face was blue and eyes bulging when Dan drew him above the water line. He had to pound the man's chest to deliver him from shock and get him to breathe. Panicked again, the man beat on him, chattering gasping Chinese words and fighting against the life saving grip.

 

Williams grabbed onto the man's wrists and trapped them, treading water with his legs as he tried to calm the suspect. Someone threw a lifesaver into the water, but he couldn't grab it until he had his prisoner subdued. He heard colleagues cheering him on. McGarrett was calling his name.  He could not acknowledge anything beyond his perilous struggle in the ocean. Still fighting, the man was shouting in Chinese. Finally Dan managed to get his captive in an arm lock and with his other hand seized onto the lifesaver.

 

As they were being pulled to the nearest ladder, the man continued to tussle. Dan still couldn't understand what he was saying. As the punches came with a sharp pain, he realized the man had something metal in his fist. When they reached the bottom rung of an old wooden ladder, Dan wrestled the makeshift weapon away from the man. It was a big, heavy key ring. The fugitive’ss ingrate resistance and frantic obstruction exploded and he seemed determined to throw Dan back under the ocean.

 

Two HPD men were now down at the water's edge of the last rung and both beefy men grabbed an arm of the assailant and pulled him up. The suspect squirmed, yelled, kicked and screamed, but the little guy was no match for the muscular cops. They quickly had him flung onto the dock.

 

Taking a deep breath to renew his strength, Williams pocketed the key ring and started slowly up the wooden steps, wondering if he would charge the man with assaulting a police officer, or maybe go for the bigger punishment of bodily harm with a deadly weapon. Hands reached down to grab his arm as he attained dock level, and he was not surprised that he recognized the hand/ watch/arm of his helper.

 

"You're supposed to wait for a day off to go swimming," McGarrett admonished with no amusement as he retained his hold on Williams until the officer landed both feet on the dock. "You okay? You were down there for a long time."

 

"Just happy --" he assured, still a bit breathless. "--to be on -- solid ground.” He bent over, hands on knees, to stabilize his shaking and, after a couple of deep coughs, brought up a few mouthfuls of salt water. With a pained grimace, the surfing detective – woefully familiar with occasional water inhalation episodes – then greedily gulped in air.

 

His lips and nose twitched from the oily, rank odor now clinging to his clothes and skin. Irritated, he wondered how many toxic chemicals and germs he had just allowed into his system. Silently cursing his impulsive nature, he considered he should have let the HPD rescue team go after the fleeing criminal. By then the guy would have been dead.

 

"Maybe we should get you checked out." Steve mused, it seemed more to himself than his detective.

 

Thinking back to the miserable mass of humanity they had discovered trapped in the cargo container, Dan didn't feel he should divert medical personnel for no reason. Besides, he had survived much worse than this on an average surf day at the North Shore.

 

"I'm okay, really," was his promise, straightening.  McGarrett standing next to him, dressed in a bold blue suit and bright aloha flowered tie, supportively touching his arm, seemed like a spectacular beacon against the dreariness of the water, the grimness of their venture.  Immeasurably, it made him feel better – a tangible symbol embodying the positive, not the negative of the day.  "What about those people we found?"

 

"Officer Wong is handling that." McGarrett was still eyeing him critically. "I came down here to watch your heroics.” He shook his head, still concerned. "Want to swing by the doc's before I take you home?"

 

"No, I'm fine. But that guy better sing like a mynah bird after this.” Dan watched the little Asian limping away between two HPD weightlifter-type patrolmen who hardly gave him squirming room. "Hope he gets tetanus."

 

"Speaking of which, maybe you better get a tetanus shot. That harbor is pretty nasty."

 

"You're telling me. Don’t worry -- always keep updated on my shots in this job!"

 

As they slowly walked back along the dock, they noted most of the excitement was still centered around the cargo container. Lieutenant Wong and Sergeant Ho were efficiently handling the refugee situation. HPD lab teams would be coming to cover the forensic angle here.  McGarrett felt Five-0's skills would be better served working from the Palace and continuing in the quest for the power behind the smuggling operation that had now turned out to be far more sinister than any of them had imagined.

 

Glancing at Williams, McGarrett kept a critical eye on his friend during their slow walk back to his car. He had just about held his breath for as long as Danno had been invisible under the water. The impromptu, lone rescue had nearly inspired him to dive in after his officer, believing the uneasy feelings he had experienced earlier must have been some kind of premonition. His sixth sense warning him of acute danger to his friend.

 

Watching the soggy, slow-gaited officer, he smiled now. The danger was past. Everything had worked out fine. And only one of them had to go in the drink.

 

Laughing, he slapped his friend on the back, little spurts of water splashing around.

 

“What?” Williams wondered.

 

“Just happy you’re the swimmer on the team.”

 

“Right,” Dan glumly countered. “Today, I’m not so happy about that.”

 

 

*****

 

After a bit of ribbing about his soppy, smelly condition, McGarrett allowed Williams into the Mercury for the ride home. Following a long, scrub-intensive shower, Dan decided his first chore better be to take his mangled suit to the cleaners. He didn’t really want to save it – the horrible odor would probably never come out of it – but he didn’t have a budget that allowed him to throw away suits without expending every effort to save money.

 

When he pulled up at the curb in his Mustang, Mr. Chang, the friendly proprietor of the long-established Chang's Cleaners, gave him a wave. Dan had come here to this neighborhood fixture since he lived in his beachside condo. It was conveniently close to his place, plus his favorite spot for malasadas – where he stopped for breakfast -- was just down the block.  Unfortunately, he seemed to stop here often because of the large volume of suits he damaged with annoying regularity.

 

"Ah, Mistah Williams, only one suit this time? You usually come on Wednesdays."

 

Another expense he’d like to bill the crummy criminal for – missing the sale day: two suits for the price of one on Wednesdays. "An emergency, Mr. Chang."

 

The man, who was mostly bald and seemed to be in his sixties, shook his head sadly, gingerly taking the grimy suit from his customer. His nose wrinkled. "Worse than usual, Mistah Williams.” He clucked his tongue. “Just like the blue plaid suit. No could save that one. Wasn’t worth it either, Mistah Williams. Told you that not in style no more, anyway.”

 

Dan nodded, accepting the familiar lecture with long-suffering. The blue plaid suit – he had liked that a lot, too – and had been forced to trash it a few months ago when he tangled in a muddy ditch with a suspect wielding a knife. Yeah, he was sorry Chang couldn’t save that one.

 

"Had to chase a suspect into the harbor," Dan complained in way of explanation for today’s latest casualty.

 

Clucking his tongue and muttering darkly, he shoved the offending garments to the side of the counter. "Will do all I can as always," he vowed with a slight bow of his head. "Be ready for you Thursday."

 

"Mahalo nui loa, Mr. Chang. I know you'll do your best."

 

"Just in case I can not save it, I give you my brother-in-law's number.” He held out a business card. “You call him this time.”

 

Dan already had about five of the little cards. Mr. Chang always wanted to push the former Hong Kong tailor/brother-in-law's services onto the tight-budgeted officer. The mention of the relative made him fondly think of Chin and his numerous relatives. With a pang of grief, he acknowledged how much he missed his slain colleague, and then returned his thoughts to the matter at hand. Dan had yet to indulge in Chang’s family tailor, afraid of the prices. This year he had lost a few suits, though, and it was just about time to go shopping again for new duds. Maybe he could get a discount? From both the tailor and the dry cleaner?

 

He took the card. "You and your brother-in-law willing to make a deal?"

 

Chang laughed. "We deal. You see. I know I can always count on your business. Police work dangerous. You always ruin your suits."

 

"All too true," he ruefully sighed and returned to his convertible.

 

Since his LTD was at the Palace he had to drive his personal car  today. He'd get someone in the office to drive the company car back to his place tonight. Meanwhile, he would enjoy a few stolen moments in the sun with the top down. After the dunk in the nasty harbor he needed the cleansing warmth of the sunrays. Even following a long, sudsy shower, he still felt grimy. The heat on his skin might lead him to believe the last of the dirt was burning off. Or maybe his motivations came from the desire to pick up his spirits after the horrific discovery on the dock, he shuddered. Driving with the top down was his catharsis, and he needed it to cheer him after the shock of the smuggled cargo.

 

Those poor people crammed into that little tin shed all the way across the Pacific -- disgusting. He knew from Steve's manner at the dock his boss felt the same way. That meant a lot of overtime. They were going to work on this until they got these slugs who were behind the crime.

 

 

*****

 

McGarrett and Lukela reviewed the last few days worth of investigative steps leading up to the bust on the dock. For his taste, Steve had relied entirely too much on the HPD case without building an independent line of detective work on his own. True, the murder was originally HPD’s case, but it now certainly dovetailed into the Five-0 smuggling investigation.  Trafficking in human cargo made it a capitol, international crime and that put it right into Five-0’s jurisdiction. Something he could not have foreseen, but the broadened scope brought him back to his conviction that they did not have enough details. Revulsion still strong, his lip involuntarily curled at the memory of the unfortunate souls found in the small storage cube. By now most were probably cleaned up and being processed through HPD.

 

Immigration, Coast Guard and the FBI were all lining up for their piece of the action, a thought which both irritated and further disgusted him.  As each agency sought for information for various reasons, Five-0 had to fend off their efforts to take more than their fair share of the case. Too many hands in the detection-pie would only slow them down. Besides, he always preferred to work independently, even without the help of HPD if possible.

 

That luxury was no longer very practical since Chin Ho Kelly’s death. They were understaffed at Five-0 these days and temporary help was just not the same as keeping a reliable, permanent detective with the team. So far, though, Steve had found no one worthy to replace Chin. As much as Williams kept trying to push officers into the slot, McGarrett resisted. The efforts were no longer so much an irritation as an expected debate. Danno did not push too hard, and Steve was not too adamant about the resistance any more. He knew they needed at least one more officer in the unit, and eventually he would give in to Williams’ continued entreaties, but still, it was not easy.

 

Just a few months ago McGarrett had almost lost his best detective. {fanfic – THE CHRISTMAS OF SECOND CHANCES}  Danno had come so close to death during a case of another smuggling ring -- The Sumatra Tigers and Pete Shay, his former NI friend. He didn’t know what he would have done if Danno had indeed died.  It was too much to contemplate.  It made him all the more thankful that his uneasiness today at the dock was unfounded.  He had been extremely worried while Danno had been under the water, but his officer came back.  Happy ending. 

 

“It’s got to be a huge operation,” Lukela reasoned as he looked over the forms spread out on the top of McGarrett’s desk.

 

Smuggling people from China to the US. Not common. Duke was right. It would take a big operation and men at the top who were cruel, money-hungry, and had connections throughout Asia.  Included in the mass of evidence were photos of suspects, lists of addresses -- where the suspects worked, visited or lived. As Steve reviewed the paper trail, he came up with a few conclusions.

 

“We have to reevaluate this, Duke. It’s no longer a goods operation. It’s people, maybe spies, drugs, who knows what else. ”

 

Tapping one of the pictures, Duke concluded, “Too big for the Tanaka brothers to run this. Wing Ty, maybe?”

 

McGarrett shrugged. Wing Ty – a big shot here in Hawaii for all kinds of vice, but he slowly shook his head, his instincts telling him this was too sweeping of an operation for the likes of a local mobster.

 

The door opened and Williams sauntered in. McGarrett smiled, thinking back to the soppy officer of a few hours ago. Danno looked none the worse for wear. In the overview of such a hideous crime, in the shadow of memories of Chin, that was something to smile about.

 

“Danno.”

 

Duke shook his head in amusement. “Ready to get back to some work?”

 

“That wasn’t my idea of a fun time off,” he countered and joined his colleagues at the desk. “What do you think?” he wondered, gesturing to the files and photos.

 

Summarizing their conclusions, McGarrett finished with observations that they needed to fill in a lot of blanks. He suggested Lukela liaison with HPD for a more thorough rundown of what the police had on all the smugglers. Williams was to check on the interrogation of the illegal aliens and find out if they could get a description of who was behind the operation.

 

“They won’t talk freely,” Williams considered, checking over the notes. “Most probably were intimidated before they left China.”

 

“Yeah,” McGarrett agreed, knowing the routine too well. He had seen it often in his NI career. “Family and friends back in Mainland China could be threatened by these creeps if anyone talks. There are probably contacts here watching out for just this kind of bust, ready for retribution should anyone cooperate with the authorities. But the witnesses are our best lead so far. I’ve got Officer Ono working on the trace of our local gang members and their associates.”

 

Williams commented that was probably a better lead than the aliens. “But I’ll get with Helen on their statements.”

 

With a gentle slap on the arm, Lukela laughed at him. “Helen. Sounds like you’ve been getting with Helen already.”

 

Williams actually blushed and McGarrett could not resist joining in with the teasing. One of his favorite sources of amusement was ribbing his second-in-command. “Danno, you’re so easy to read. An open book. How long has this been going on? You never told us anything!”

 

“For good reason,” he countered, still blushing. “There is nothing going on. Not that you two would believe me.”

 

“You’re right,” Steve wickedly confirmed. “We wouldn’t.”

 

“Does – Helen – have some good contacts in Chinatown?” Lukela hoped.

 

“We’re going to have to get some real answers there I think.” McGarrett agreed.


Frowning at his colleagues, he assured, ”Yeah, her family owns at least one restaurant.” His friends were snickering again and he shook his head. “I’ve known Helen for years, guys. In high school she used to wait tables at the family restaurant to earn money for college. You’ve eaten at her folks’ place a lot – Mandarin Gateway.”

 

“That’s her family?” Duke countered, surprised. “I thought I knew all about ohana connections. Didn’t that change ownership recently?”

 

“To a cousin,” Dan agreed, “but the food’s still good.”

 

“You think Helen can help us with this?” McGarrett steered them back to the topic. It seemed so foreign to discuss sources in Chinatown and not immediately think of Chin as the link. Well, he had to move on this year in many painful ways, and not for the first time he considered they had lost someone almost indispensable when they lost Chin. “We’ll have to work closely with an officer we can trust.”

 

“We can trust Helen,” Dan vouched. With a twinkle in his eye he added, “Just how closely, Steve?”

 

“Not as closely as you’d like, Danno,” McGarrett grinned, appreciating the attempt to lighten the mood.

 

 

*****

 

 

The effects of the sensational arrests at the docks had filtered through the usual channels. In front of HPD there were two news vans from local stations. Wanting to avoid the crush of reporters, Dan parked around the block from the main entrance of HPD. Strolling to a side entrance, he noted a man standing in an alley waving to him.

 

“Sol?” he muttered, curious why the slightly overweight snitch dressed in an Aloha shirt loud enough to be one of Steve’s hand-me-downs was flagging him down. “What do you want?” he questioned, stepping into the alley. “A little too close to the heat for you isn’t it?” he asked the man who was grizzled and unkempt.

 

“Hey, Williams, I hit the mother lode with that info, man. Huge bust!  Lotsa great press for the good guys, right? Hey, I figure I need more dough.”

 

A few officers passed by their position and Sol turned away. Sergeant Ted Ho stopped. “Everything all right, Danny?”

 

“Yeah, Ted, it’s cool.”

 

“Okay,” Ho smiled at Dan and lingered for a moment, then walked away.

 

Dan glared at the snitch.  “Forget it, Sol.”

 

“You owe me!”

 

“You got your money already.” Impatient, Dan started to walk away.

 

The snitch grabbed his arm. “Hey, come on –“

 

“Look, Sol, I paid you plenty. You saving for a down on a condo or something?”

 

“For a lead on smugglers shifting old dusty idols and stuff from Asia, okay, you paid me your usual cheap rate. I deserve more when we’re talking smuggling slaves!”

 

Dan shrugged off the hold, and stared down the man. “Look, Sol, you have more to say you better tell me now. If it’s good, you know I’ll give you a fair price and –“

 

“You fair? Since when?”

 

Miffed at the dig about his spending habits, Dan started to leave again. “Fine –“

 

“No, wait,” Sol rushed, taking a stand to block the alley. “Hey, I’m just looking out for myself, Williams. You’re tough, I’ll give you that, but you owe me.”

 

“I paid you. Now, if you want to give me more –“

 

“No,” Sol flatly refused, his face darkening with emotion. “No more.”

 

Dan scrutinized him with a chill glare. “You know something, don’t you?”

 

“No.”

 

Dan backed the man to the wall and gave him a firm push to let the snitch know he meant business. “You do –“

 

“I don’t know nuthin, Williams. You couldn’t pay me enough if I did. These are bad dudes. I don’t want nothing more to do with this.”  Sneering, he spat out, “You’re gonna be sorry you crossed me, Williams.”  Then he slipped away and ran off as fast as he could.

 

Watching him disappear around the corner, Dan pondered the strange encounter. The guy was willing enough to ask for more money, but afraid to say too much about these smugglers. The suggestion of intimidation was a real one, he was sure, thinking back to the terror of the refugees. Pondering Sol’s mixture of greed and possible veracity, he strolled back to the HPD side entrance, wondering if he should make more of an effort to get additional information out of Sol. Well, he would see how the case progressed. They had two thugs in custody who were members of the tong, the others, he heard, proved to be just day laborers.  At any rate, they seemed to have some solid leads without spending more money on street contacts.

 

 

*****

 

 

Despite the way his friends teased him about his relationship with Helen Wong, he and the Lieutenant really were just friends. Neither had explored the possibility of anything more serious. They had known each other since high school for one. Also, she always had a steady stream of boyfriends not connected with law enforcement and had often commented she preferred to keep things that way.

 

Their working association was a good one that he would not want to mess up with personal complications. Since the joint smuggling/murder case, Wong and Ho had been invaluable to Five-0. Their efforts had plugged some holes in the conduit of contraband onto the islands. Their goal, of course, was to catch the murderer of the dock guard, and bring the smuggling ring down. With this sensational business this morning, Dan was sure they were going to see things move fast. They had two very determined people – McGarrett and Wong – out for justice.

 

Strolling through the HPD squad room, he greeted various colleagues, but did not stop to chat with any. His mission was clear and he kept moving, watching Helen from across the room. The slight woman was intent on reading files, but when he reached Liutenant Wong’s desk he saw she was upset, maybe crying?

 

“Helen?”

 

Looking up, caught off guard, he noted her eyes were indeed red, and her face reflected her disturbance. She quickly looked back at her desk. “Hi, Danny. Just going over some of the statements from the illegals.”

 

“Tough, huh?” he asked compassionately.

 

“Yeah,” she brushed away quickly, as if embarrassed at her emotions.

 

Dan accepted her effort and made her think he was blind to her distress, just as she wanted. Impossible to ignore the horrible plight of the illegals, or her reaction, he pressed on, keeping his own disturbance in check.  “Anybody talking?”

 

“Not really,” she shrugged. “Most of them are sick. Those who aren’t too bad are scared. Danny, they don’t want to go back,” she finally surrendered, glancing at him, her eyes watering. “They know what it will mean.” Wiping her face, she shook her head. “Sorry. It’s just so maddening. How could  -- scum -- who claim to be humans -- traffic in this? I’ve seen a lot of nasty things working with Vice, then Homicide, but this is the worst.”

 

“Yeah. So how are we going to catch them?” he quietly asked.

 

She turned back and gave him a sturdy look. The focus on the job, on justice, was what she needed. “Thanks.”

 

“Sure.” He pulled up a chair from another desk and joined her. “Let’s see what you’ve got.”

 

After reviewing the little material gathered from the interrogations, he agreed these people would give them little. No descriptions of the men who ran the smuggling ring. No information on their real names, where they came from, who knew about the smuggling. By the end of the day it was clear Wong and her team would have to be patient and persistent to pry details from the aliens.

 

Charlie AKA Charles Kim, refused to say anything about his business at the docks. He was not officially employed by any legitimate company there, so Wong felt they could get him to crack eventually.

 

“What about my swimmer?” he inquired sourly.

 

“Been IDed from his passport which was in his pocket. Bao Yang, from Hong Kong. Might be phony credentials.”

 

Ted Ho came over and joined them. “Why do you say that, Helen?”

 

“Anybody on the other side of the wall carries their papers with them at all times. Part of the Communist credo,” she distastefully spat out.

 

“Yeah, it’s ingrained,” Ho agreed.

 

“Glad you guys know so much about China,” Dan commented wryly. “But how does that help us?”

 

“If we know where they’re from we could narrow down the people in charge for one.”

 

Helen seemed quick to change the subject.  “What’s going on?” she asked her partner.

 

“Sorry to interrupt,” Ho tipped his head, “But Helen you might need to run down to PR and help them with the news conference.”

 

“You’re a lot more tactful,” she countered.

 

“I’m not in charge.  And I’ve got some things to tie up. See you both later.”

 

After saying good bye to her partner, Helen turned to Dan, her expression angry. “Mainland China. Hate those guys.”

 

“I never took you as political,” Dan smiled. Her glare only made him smile more.

 

“Back to business,” she insisted firmly. “Ted talked to this Yang character for a while and put him back in lock up. He’s as tight as a clam. So is old Charlie Kim.”

 

“Maybe I should see what I can do with Charlie. Or this Yang guy. Does he speak English?”

 

“As far as I can tell, he doesn’t speak at all.”

 

In view of their other slim leads, Dan thought interrogating the man might inch them forward. Considering their unpleasant meeting in the water, maybe a visit to the guy would jar him into loosening his tongue. After Helen left to deal with reporters, he walked over to lock up and requested an interview. Hoping an informal chat would yield more than a formal interrogation, Dan went for a private cell visit. Since this was minimum security he could skip the formalities.

 

“Bao Yang!”  The short Asian was sitting on his bunk, leaning against the far wall. Calling to the man several times, Dan unlocked the door and entered the cell. “Yang!” he shouted. Touching the man’s shoulder, he jumped when the Asian slumped over and pitched toward the floor. Reacting quickly, Dan grabbed him and placed him on the cot, checking for a pulse out of habit. The blue tinge of the skin told the story. Stepping back, he took a breath. The man was dead.

 

A banging on the bars startled Dan and he turned to see Officer Ted Ho.

 

“What’s going on? Did he faint?”

 

”No,” Williams responded slowly, still trying to sort it out. He checked the neck and found suspicious bruising on the throat. There was also a slight trail of blood on the shirt collar. “No, you better call the ME. This man’s been murdered.”

 

“What?”

 

He pointed out the blood that appeared to be coming from a wound in the ear. The shirt was open enough to display the bruising on the throat. He ordered some officers to come and guard the scene, directing the initial investigation necessities for the crime techs and the coroner to come. Then Dan left as soon as he could. His first duty was to report this unwelcome event to McGarrett.

 

 

*****

 

Perturbed that a valuable suspect had been murdered in police custody, McGarrett swept through the halls of HPD with sharp, fast strides. It was rankling enough that this would happen on a Five-0 related case. That one of their only leads to the alien smuggling was now dead really made him angry. The implications were serious and disturbing.

 

Williams joined him just outside the cell when McGarrett arrived. The coroner – one of several new state ME employees the head of Five-0 had not yet met – was just finishing up. Giving a nod to his colleague, McGarrett stood beside Williams as the coroner narrated.

 

Danno had told him about the discolored marks, but seeing them in person was disconcerting. The implications were beyond the regret that they had lost a suspect while in their custody. This brazen act of murder indicated their adversaries were powerful, audacious and far more dangerous than they had believed. Any witnesses who were scared before would now be terrified to silence.

 

“McGarrett,” the coroner greeted, not even looking at the chief of Five-0.

 

Far different from the days of the friendly Bergman. Impersonal. It seemed strange to think of forming a relationship with a coroner – meeting primarily over dead bodies and discussing the final moments of crime victims. Bergman’s unflappable demeanor and quirky humor had been part of his contributions along with his outstanding skill as a medical examiner. Bergman had been adopted into the sphere of the Five-0 ohana. He was retired now, living happily in Maui with his charming wife. Still, he was missed. Just as Chin’s absence was sorely felt every day. One more example that Five-0 was shrinking and suffering without the old family members.

 

“Cause of death was a neat, single thrust of a sharp, thin blade right into the brain,” the ME was saying. The new coroner was a tall, lean man with graying hair that was so thin on the top it was nearly invisible. About the same height as the chief of Five-0, this man had sharp features and quick mannerisms that made him seem in a hurry to do his job and leave. “That’s preliminary, of course.”

 

McGarrett pondered the body. “The strangulation marks?”

 

“Damaging, yes, but not fatal. The stiletto-like instrument into the ear was the cause of death, but that’s preliminary and unofficial, of course, so don’t quote me. The bruising, probably some kind of message, but that’s for you to decide. I can just tell you method and time, which was very recently.”

 

“Less than an hour ago,” Williams provided as he stepped next to McGarrett.

 

The coroner continued as if never interrupted. “I leave to you the interesting state of the clothes.”

 

“Yes,” McGarrett agreed, not missing the out-turned pockets in the denim pants and the inside-out socks on the floor. The bed was rumpled and askew, as if the thin mattress had been removed. “A search.”

 

Quiet mutterings in the hall came to his attention and McGarrett turned to observe Wong and Ho arrive.

 

“I hope you’ve done a better job protecting Charlie Kim,” he snapped, allowing his irritation and frustration vent on the HPD officers.

 

Ho actually took a step back, as if trying to distance himself from the anger. The maneuver also served to place Wong in the front position to respond to McGarrett.

 

“He was bailed!” she flung back in livid anger. “I don’t know how anybody in this department could mess up like that, but our prime arrests have both evaporated!”

 

With effort, Steve leashed his wrath. Shaking his head, he decided lecturing the detectives would serve no purpose. Both were as upset as he was anyway. Wong was too wrapped up in her own rage to notice him. Cursing, it seemed, in Chinese, she was talking to the deceased with overt anger. Realizing she had an audience, she drew in a deep breath and tread along the corridor.

 

“I’ve been talking to the refugees,” she snapped out as she paced. “I showed them his mug shot so they would know he was in jail. That they were safe!” She slapped a hand on the wall. “They are scared to talk much, but they were telling me he was their Hai Guan shushu – their uncle – their guide. The person who would take them through customs. Of course, there was no customs for them. They were herded into that shipping container like animals. This Hai Guan shushu and his gang took their money and loaded them in.” She scoffed. “At least they made it here and weren’t murdered. For all the good it did them.”

 

McGarrett exchanged a meaningful look of sympathy and understanding with Williams. This was a tough case. Unfortunately, Wong seemed emotionally involved already – upset with the situation beyond what was good for an objective officer. Still, he refrained from commenting. It was hard on all of them. She was closer to the Chinese community and had deep feelings for this. He would overlook it for now. Sometimes passion and emotional involvement could help solve a case. He would just have to watch out for what she did to channel those belligerent feelings, because all too often personal closeness to a case could mean trouble – for the officer and colleagues.

 

His heart twitched with a pang of hurt as he recalled such passion and aggression from himself when Chin was killed. He would not be so hypocritical as to rebuke her over raw emotions. Not yet, anyway.

 

“Lieutenant, did the victims tell you anything we can use?” He did not want to call them refugees. They were illegal aliens, despite their wretched treatment. He could not let any of them lose sight of the legalities here. “Or the gang?”

 

“Tong.” She shook her head. “No, they were too afraid.”

 

Nodding, he turned to Williams. From the look on Danno’s face, he knew his friend was taking this all in and coming up with a few pertinent questions. Maybe they should discuss those away from Wong.

 

“Continue with the interrogations, Lieutenant. I think you’re the only one who can reach these people. Don’t tell them this man is dead.”

 

The coroner came to his feet, but remained leaning over the body. He moved the collar away from the man’s neck. “There’s a tattoo here on the skin. Some kind of Asian symbol.”

 

Standing right at his shoulder, Helen gasped. When Steve turned to scrutinize her for the reaction, she gave him a glance, but then stared back at the body. Her face was a controlled mask, but he was curious about the overt response. He would have to ask her later, he decided, and turned his attention to what the coroner was  saying.

 

“When I have confirmation I’ll let you know.”

 

McGarrett and Williams followed the ME out. Glancing outside the barred windows in the reception area, he noted it was already dark outside. It had been a long and stressful day. Wong muttered that she would tackle interrogations on the refugees again, and Ho followed her with a respectful nod of farewell.

 

McGarrett waited until he and Williams were outside. Inviting his friend into his car, he sat there for a moment, collecting his thoughts. It was a vexing case and he verbally listed the links in their chain of suspicions. The smuggling ring that shuffled everything from people to drugs, to artifacts. Three murders in Oahu so far connected with the Asian gang. Their MO of killing was sure, quick, and now included what was probably a shiv through the ear.

 

“Deadly, ruthless and going to great lengths to keep their operation safe,” he concluded.

 

“No wonder those poor illegals are terrified,” Dan sighed, running his hand through his hair, then dropping his head against the backrest.

 

“Yeah.” McGarrett turned to study him for a moment. “You doing all right? It’s been a pretty wild day for you.”

 

“Yeah,” he confirmed, but didn’t open his eyes “I’m fine. Just hoping tomorrow is better.”

 

Steve gave a curt nod. “Well, I’ll go get some dinner and meet you back at the Palace, and see if we can come up with some fresh ideas.”

 

“Sure.”

 

“What sounds good?” he asked as he started the car.

 

“Anything but seafood,” Dan decided as he exited and McGarrett pulled away.

 

 

*****

 

The return to the Palace was quick and the delicious odor of their favorite Cantonese dishes an incentive. McGarrett had to smile when he pulled up in the parking lot to see Williams already there, leaning on his Mustang. The company LTD was over to the side of the old building and ignored by the second-in-command as long as his sports car was here. Exiting his Mercury with four bags of food, he laughed, amused his officer was having so much fun using his own car for the day.

 

“You’re liking this too much.”

 

“Yeah, I keep hoping you’ll let us drive our own cars for work,” Dan grinned as he walked up the steps beside his superior, taking a few of the bags.

 

“Then you and Duke would both drive convertibles. Not the Five-0 image I like to project.”

 

“Too bad,” Williams coughed.

 

McGarrett stopped. “You all right?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

For a moment longer he stared at his friend. When Dan continued up the stairs, he followed. He admonished his officer to go see a doctor, now concerned anew about the swim in the harbor.

 

“I’m fine,” Williams insisted.

 

The hour was late and the rest of the staff had already gone home. McGarrett unlocked the etched-glass front doors. The interior of the hundred-year-old Palace was dark and he flipped on the lobby lights. The inadequate wall sconces cast shimmering yellow glows along the dark wood of the walls and floor. The koa steps seemed illuminated as the light glowed off the waxed sheen and offered an eerie depth to the fine grain. Their footfalls were the only sounds as they walked toward the second floor.

 

“So what are you thinking about the murder?” McGarrett inquired as they reached the landing and turned to the second half of the steps up to their wing. “I saw that your mental wheels were turning.”

 

“I think this guy was dangerous for his friends. He knew too much. He had to be silenced. Pretty scary that it happened at HPD.”

 

“Yeah. An undetected murder in the middle of a cop station.”

 

“Another weird thing,” Williams coughed, stopping on the step to catch his breath. “Ted and I ran into Sol just outside HPD today.”

 

McGarrett stopped beside his friend, less interested in a snitch than in his officer’s health. “I think you better go for a check up.”

 

“I’m fine,” he waved away. “It’s just been a long day. Don’t forget we still have Charlie out there somewhere if we can track him down,” he changed the subject.

 

Unhappy with Dan’s fatigue, cough and stubborn attitude, McGarrett continued walking beside Williams. Knowing it was useless to argue for now, he continued the train of thought. “And the search of whatshisname?”

 

“Yang. Well, the killer was looking for something, but it seems crazy to think someone who is smart enough to break into a holding cell would think a prisoner could keep anything.”

 

McGarrett paused to unlock the Five-0 office door. “Maybe it was so valuable the prisoner hid it during his search. It was minimum security, not a serious search procedure. And his clothes were exchanged for dry ones. He could sneak something in.”

 

“Or maybe it doesn’t matter whether he had something,” Dan offered around a huge yawn. “Maybe whoever was looking for this mystery object had to find out whether the guy still had it on his person.”

 

“Very good, Officer Williams” Steve joked. “Am I keeping you up too late?”

 

“As a matter of fact, yes,” Dan joked over another sleepy yawn. “Must have been my swim.”

 

In concerned sympathy, Steve assured, “Well, I won’t keep you up too much longer. I just want to go over the events and get some solid thoughts together before we call it a night.”

 

McGarrett snapped on the lights and strode toward his own office. Placing the food bags on Luana’s desk, he then reached the door knob and was turning it when he stopped. Something was not right. His momentum kept him moving and his door opened before he braked. Dan’s cry of surprise made him spin around.

 

“Hey!”

 

The light to Williams’ cubicle was now on and it showed a mass of clutter strewn all over the usually neat desk. Papers, files and personal objects littered the floor.

 

“My office has been tossed!” he incredulously declared. Amazed, he stared at McGarrett. “What’s going on?”

 

Trying to answer that question, McGarrett looked at his own office door, now slightly open. He raised his eyebrows in silent inquiry and moved cautiously toward his domain. By the time he drew his weapon, Williams had joined him, his .38 also in hand.

 

They burst into the office at the same instant. The room was dark, but indirect light from the open lanai door gave it the impression of being empty. A fleeting image of a dark, moving shadow on the lanai made them both start. Something flew past Steve’s face – close enough for him to feel the breath of movement on his cheek, to hear the “zing” of an object whizzing past. McGarrett instinctively ducked, then raced across the room in an instant, Williams just behind.

 

Then Steve felt something stab him --  a sharp pain in his arm. The slice of material, the moist dribble of blood, the hurt, registered at the periphery of his senses as he kept moving, trying to bring his revolver up to fire at the attacker.

 

Behind him, Williams tackled the assailant with a heavy grunt and went down, bouncing off the desk and rolling onto the floor. The report of his discharged weapon exploded in the near-silent room and the odor of gun powder stung like a bitter cloud, burning his nostrils and eyes at this close range.

 

“Danno!”

 

Fumbling on the desk, Steve reached his lamp, which was out of place and difficult to locate, and snapped it on. Gun already trained at where he thought the fight was, he blinked, momentarily blinded by the sharp contrast of the close light in his face when his pupils had been enlarged to see in the dark room.

 

Williams was just struggling up from a still form on the floor. He shook his head as he touched the neck of the slight figure. “Dead. I didn’t mean to kill him,” he whispered, shaking his head.”

 

Aware there still might be a threat on the lanai, Steve didn’t wait for an answer. His left arm now throbbing, the blood dripping freely, he gingerly crossed the room and did a fast check of the lanai. No sign of anyone, but he was sure a second assailant had escaped from here when they had entered. Returning to the office, he holstered his weapon and pressed his right hand on the forearm that was bleeding and tender. He cast cautious glances around the interior, finally assured there were no more attackers.

 

Now focused on the detective sitting on the floor, he realized his colleague had not responded. Blood oozed onto the floor and soaked one arm of Dan’s jacket.

 

“Are you all right?”

 

Silence. Williams seemed dazed.

 

“Danno, are you all right?”

 

“Yeah,” Williams countered tiredly, or resignedly. “Yeah, I think all of this is his blood,” he grimaced, clearly shaken at the event. Turning the body over, they saw a Ninja fighting star protruding from the Asian’s chest. He pointed to the man’s neck where he had checked for a pulse. “Look at this, Steve.”

 

On the pale skin was a dark smudge. Crouching down to investigate, McGarrett saw it was the tattoo of a tiger. It reminded him of the first dead body they had encountered that evening. The strange claw marks that now made him think of an attack by a jungle tiger.

 

Pointing to McGarrett, Williams’s face clouded. “You’re hurt, though.”

 

McGarrett winced, the pain  irritating him when he moved his arm. It seemed neither deep or serious, but annoying. “He must have nicked me with that Ninja star.”

 

“I’ll call a doc,” he volunteered and after a moment of searching discovered the phone on the floor.

 

Williams helped McGarrett wrap a handkerchief around his left forearm as they studied the body, then the rest of the room. Thinking aloud, McGarrett pondered that the two men were searching for something. An item they had not found on the dead prisoner at HPD. An object that they might not have found here. What was so important to burglarize the state police, kill an incarcerated man, attack Five-0 officers?

 

Sitting behind his desk, McGarrett checked for any missing articles. Williams did the same in his own office and when he returned, seemed worn out, but reported nothing obvious absent.

 

Despite Dan’s advice for Steve to go to the hospital -- insisting he was well enough to oversee the investigation -- McGarrett remained as lab personnel, the coroner (who finally introduced himself as Lane), and HPD officers arrived.

 

“Doctor, would you please check out Steve’s arm,” Dan asked before the ME had even set down his medical kit.

 

Lane’s expression was uncomfortable. “I’m a coroner. Dead people are my specialty.”

 

After an initial surprise at the refusal, Dan swiftly snapped back, “You’re a doctor. Steve is hurt. Do something!”

 

Glaring at Williams, then at McGarrett, he asked, “It’s ridiculous to call upon my medical skills – which are post mortem by the way -- when the hospital is just minutes away!  Go to the ER!”

 

“I don’t have time right now,” McGarrett shot back, now openly irritated. “Just patch me up so I can do my job.”

 

Shaking his head, Lane applied simple first aid, muttering that he really did not have much in his bag to help with an injury. By the time the quick procedure was finished the room was filled with onlookers and techs moving about the crime scene. They started dusting for prints and taking photos of the rest of the room, but could do little more until the coroner finished his check of the body.

 

Through the course of the next several hours it was determined that Luana’s desk in the outer office was also searched, as were the evidence rooms downstairs. It was clear the attacker/murderers were ruthless, dangerous, committed to finding whatever it was that was missing. By the time they were prepared to go home, McGarrett knew it was all linked to the smugglers. There was no evidence to back up this theory, just a string of clues and his gut instinct.

 

Too tired to keep up with the case for tonight, and admitting he could use a few pain killers, McGarrett was ready to leave. Williams offered to drive him to the hospital, which he again refused, but accepted the ride as long as it took him home.  A sure sign of McGarrett’s fatigue was that he agreed without opposition or condition.

 

“Not that you’re in much better shape,” the head of Five-0 commented as they both wearily, slowly made their way down the stairs.

 

Dan coughed and nodded his head. “Does that mean we get to come in late tomorrow?”

 

“No. But I’m thinking about picking you up early and taking you to a doctor.”

 

“You mean someone who is not a coroner?”

 

“Yeah. Your cough is getting worse.”

 

“I’ll go if you will,” Dan challenged when the reached his car, smiling when the only response was a grimace.

 

McGarrett slumped back against the seat, the events of the long day, and his injury, catching up to him. Williams gunned the Mustang to life and backed out of the slot. A slight glow of light caught his eye and he stopped, realizing his LTD’s interior light was on. Now that he checked his company vehicle, he saw the driver’s door was ajar.

 

All senses on alert, he snapped his car off and drew his weapon.

 

“Steve, my LTD’s light is on and the door is open. Someone is – or  was -- in there.”

 

McGarrett reacted as quickly as his associate. He sat upright, pulled his revolver and scanned the area as he exited the car. Weapon in hand, Williams was already out his door and looking around the dark grounds while he jogged toward the LTD. Opening the driver’s door in a single, fast throw, he quickly determined there was no one in the car. The mic was on the floor, the glove box open. Clearly the interior had been searched.

 

Sighing, Dan shook his head.

 

McGarrett cursed. “What is going on tonight?” he angrily exploded. “What are they looking for?”

 

“Whatever it is,” Dan shook his head, “they didn’t find it in here. It’s always clean. Why would they think I would keep anything important in my car?”

 

“Because they are desperate,” McGarrett concluded, rubbing his face to fight off the fatigue.

 

“Why don’t you go home, Steve. I’ll take care of this.” He used McGarrett’s keys to unlock the Mercury and made a call to HPD for yet another crime lab team to respond at the Palace. The officer at dispatch asked if there was also another dead body. Dan did not deign to respond to the flippancy but merely repeated he needed a crime team. Moving back to his exhausted friend, he placed a light hand on Steve’s arm. “It’s been a long day, Steve. As soon as the troops arrive I’ll drive you home.”

 

“I could say the same to you. If you stay I’ll stay,” he curtly replied.

 

Dan nodded, knowing that stubborn tone when he heard it, all too aware it was useless to argue.

 

This investigation was quicker than the one in Steve’s office. There was little to check and less to clean up. Before long they were ready to roll again. The trip in the convertible was wasted on the boss, who leaned his head back against the seat rest and dozed until they reached the apartment on the Ala Wai. No theories had been traded, no conclusions or guesses offered by either detective. They were too tired.

 

Out of a leery sense of superstition or overt caution, Dan escorted his friend to his apartment. A quick check of the neat front room assured that Steve’s place had not been ransacked. Feeling better, and advising his boss to sleep late in the morning, Williams left, puzzling out the strange and varied events of the long day.

 

Although it was late – rather very early in the morning if he wanted to look at it that way -- he realized dinner had been a casualty of the unusual proceedings. Go home and rest his weary body, or feed his hungry stomach then sleep? Pulling onto Kuhio, impulse answered for him as he stopped at the curb in front of Ono BBQ, just makai from Steve’s place. The former officer who owned the restaurant on Kuhio – Tim Ono -- was always happy to see Five-0 detectives, even at this late hour. While waiting for his food, Dan discussed a few cases with Tim, but the ex-cop, whose brother was still on the force and sometimes helped Five-0, wanted to hear about the latest sensational event – the people smuggling. It was all over the news apparently, to Dan’s dismay. While he ate his mahi mahi and lau lau Tim put on the TV in the bar. Sure enough, the late news was covering the story on the smuggled illegals.

 

Dan watched the crowd clustered around the docks. He thought he saw a few familiar faces that had been pinned by Five-0 before. Well, the docks were a rough area. Still, he would mention to Helen that they should check the news footage. Maybe some of this smuggling gang went back to the docks for something and it was caught on tape. Since someone in that gang was certainly hot to get a hold of whatever it was that was missing, maybe they tried back at the crime scene first.

 

 

*****

 

 

When he opened the door to his apartment Dan was not expecting, or prepared for, the mess that met him when the lights popped on. Sighing deeply, muttering to himself in angry and tired curses, he wanted to scream at someone in frustration, but just shook his head. Cushions thrown, chairs overturned, desk drawers and books removed and scattered on the floor – his place had been tossed, too.

 

Now weary of the routine, he nonetheless searched the house with his revolver in hand, all too aware of the deja vu of it all. No intruders discovered, he called HPD again. Cringing when the smart aleck officer quipped, “Don’t you guys over there at Five-0 ever sleep?”

 

“Just do your job,” Dan snapped back, pausing to get through an extended coughing spell. “Believe me, this is not my idea of a good time.”

 

Hanging up, he took a moment to close his eyes, feeling a little dizzy. Just the retched harbor water caught in his throat, he determined. And waiting too late to eat. And way too tired to still be up. He glanced at the clock on the floor that had been broken at One-twenty-four AM. Well after their encounter at the Palace. What had the criminals been doing for the hours between about Nine-thirty PM – when they had discovered the intruders at the Palace – until after One AM? It hadn’t been to ransack Steve’s place. Tiredly sitting on the kitchen floor, he mused on several theories until the techs arrived.

 

“You testing us or something, Bro?” one of the techs asked as he surveyed the scene. “We in trouble?”

 

“No,” Dan denied wearily. “This is happening for real.”

 

“Man, tough day for Five-0. Bring a whole new meaning to brinin’ da work home, yeah?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

Dan chose not to call Steve. It was a decision that would earn him some reprimands in the morning he was sure, but would allow McGarrett much needed sleep tonight. While the arm wound was not serious and did not even require stitches, it had nicked a muscle and was annoyingly sore. Plus, Steve was not bouncing back like he used to from all these little and big injuries in the line of duty.

 

Neither of them were taking the hits well as they got older, he mused sourly.  Bloody but unbowed’, was his mental quip of their tenacious capacity for stubborn devotion to duty.   

 

Steve would not voluntarily stay out of the action, so Dan would have to see that the action avoided Steve occasionally. The boss of Five-0 was not needed on a crime this minor, so Dan refused to alert him in the dead of night.

 

The phone ringing startled him. Was it Steve? Clairvoyant as his friend could be, it would be amazing if he had picked up on this. Answering it, he was surprised, but not as expected. It was Helen. An angry, disturbed Officer Wong. Her apartment had been searched. HPD was on the way. She wondered if it had anything to do with the murder at HPD.

 

So much had happened in the convening hours that Williams felt that crime scene at the jail was a lifetime away. It was easy to theorize about the clues and come to some kind of tentative conclusion on the spot.

 

“Yeah, Helen. It is connected.”

 

As long as Dan had known her, Helen had been a cool character. Her family owned and operated a small Chinese restaurant downtown. All her siblings, and her, worked there after school. All raised money to put themselves through college. The whole family the epitome of self-sufficiency and a tough work ethic. Several of the kids were highly paid professionals. She was probably the one who was at the bottom end of the economic scale now – she was a cop. Once the children were all out of school the parents sold the restaurant and retired.  Perfect examples of the American dream.  The thought made him uneasily think of the refugees and that clicked over to a thought on the desperate tong opposing them with this case.

 

He appreciated her cool and calm right now. They were facing some merciless, relentless criminals who were bold enough to attack the state police on their home ground. To kill and silence in jail. Far-reaching and deadly, this gang – tong – were after something and would do anything to get it – whatever that precious item.

 

 

*****

 

It wasn’t absolutely necessary for him to go over to Helen’s apartment in Kaimuki, but she was close, and the break-ins certainly seemed connected to their joint case. Mostly, he needed to talk this through with a colleague who could reaffirm his own instincts – that someone involved with the smuggling tong was after some unknown object – and the investigators had no clue what it was. Normally, of course, he would discuss the case with Steve, but McGarrett needed to sleep off the mild pain medication and the long day.

 

The HPD crime lab team was still there when Dan pulled up to the front of the two-story complex. Helen was outside pacing the sidewalk while fingerprint techs and a photographer were busy inside her first floor apartment. Hands in the pockets of her pants, she looked like there should be storm clouds hovering above her head as she vigorously stalked out her negative energy. The comparative image that popped into his mind was automatic and it seemed amusing.

 

“Steve tries this when he’s frustrated,” he quietly commented as he joined her pacing stride. “But I don’t know that it helps.”

 

She glared at him, displaying that her legendary cool was now simmering. A warm night breeze ruffled her long, dark, silky hair which was now untied and brushing gently in the trade wind. “The only thing that will help is catching these creeps, Danny, but we’re a long way from that.” She glanced through the open door of her place and her face scrunched in renewed irritation. “What is it they want?”

 

Hands in his pockets, Williams shrugged as he coursed alongside her track. “Don’t know. What gets me is they thought he had it with him in lock up. Then they trashed my car and office and both our places.”

 

This made her come to an abrupt halt. “Not Steve’s place?”

 

“No I checked when I took him home. Just his office.”

 

Concern overrode her displeasure. “I heard he was hurt. He okay?”

 

Dan nodded as he coughed. “His arm was stabbed but it’s not serious.”

 

“You’re okay?” She assessed, scrutinizing him from head to toe and back.

 

Utterly fatigued, he felt better that she asked after both McGarrett and him. “Yeah. Just wishing I could manage some sleep before dawn.”

 

“Go home.” She gave his arm a gentle nudge. “They’re almost finished.”

 

“You’re doing okay?”

 

“Yeah, just mad.”

 

“Witnesses?”

 

“Nobody admitting to seeing anything. Of course my neighbors aren’t too happy about my buddies waking them up at this hour to ask questions.”

 

Dan nodded, surveying the scene that was so commonly a part of his life; the flashing blue lights, middle-of-the-night response, the police, the disgruntled civilians, the technical details of gathering information. Tonight it was more personal than usual – his friends and he were the victims this time. They could and would fight back.  Sobered thinking about the events, he was still upset at McGarrett’s close call.  If Steve was not such a professional he could have been seriously injured tonight. That made this very personal.

 

“You want to stay somewhere else tonight?” Dan asked as he brought his gaze back to his associate.

 

Laughing, she flirtingly responded, “Why Officer Williams, what kind of invitation is that?”

 

Feeling the blush even though it was probably not apparent to her in the dim glow of the street light a few feet away, he smiled. “That’s not what I meant.”

 

“I know,” she teased and lightly punched his arm. “But there’s already talk, you know.  If my mother was here she’d want me to accept.”  At his shocked expression she laughed.  “She fancies herself a matchmaker, you know, and asks about you whenever I’m between boyfriends.”

 

“I know what you mean about the gossip,” he sighed, McGarrett’s teasing about Helen a clear memory. “Despite that, do you need any help?”

 

“Mahalo, but I can take care of myself.”

 

“Sure.”

 

The crime lab officer joined them and offered an initial report. The back door showed signs of slight tampering, but it was so minor it was almost missed. While the usually orderly belongings had been tossed around there seemed to be no damage. In her tour of the apartment Helen had found nothing missing. As the cluster of officers drifted away to their cars she thanked them all by name and returned inside.

 

Joining her, Dan studied the scene that was all too familiar. Papers, furniture, pictures askew or overturned on the floor. The aftermath of someone searching with determination and speed.

 

Promising to get with her in the morning – late morning – he returned to his Mustang and cruised back to his place. When he was in the elevator going up to his apartment, he leaned his head against the wall, remembering he had intended to tell Helen about the news footage. Well, he would mention it after a few hours of stolen slumber.

 

 

*****

 

Despite a decent night’s sleep, McGarrett felt a little groggy when he arrived at the office just after Seven-thirty AM. His injured arm still ached, but it was merely bothersome, not an intense pain like many wounds of the past. Nothing that would keep him from putting in a full day’s work, although he had to admit it was tough getting out of bed this morning. Age. Slower to heal, slower to mend, more aches and pains plaguing him.

 

Brewing some strong coffee, he was the first one in and intended it that way. Thanks to the inconsiderate criminals from last night he had some minor straightening to do at his desk. Glancing through the windows at Dan’s cubicle, he noted his friend had not cleaned up either. Well, there had been a lot going on last night.

 

Entering his inner office, he noted that at least the cleaning crew had scrubbed the carpet. Nice he did not have to worry about the blood stains. He called HPD for an update on the forensic reports, but those were not available yet. When the tech on duty asked if Five-0 wanted all the reports, he snapped that of course he did. Hanging up, he only fleetingly wondered what kind of a tech was working at this hour to ask such an inane question. One that had not worked with Five-0 before, obviously. If McGarrett was on the case, he certainly wanted every crumb of information available.

 

Sorting out his strewn papers and files, downing two cups of rich, bold, black coffee, he glanced up at the clock when he heard the front door open and shut. Just after eight. It should be Danno.

 

Lukela walked through the doorway and Steve was struck by the incredulous expression. It was no easy task to surprise the veteran cop, but something had this morning.

 

“You guys had an incredible night!  Why didn’t you call?”

 

“You mean the office and Danno’s car?” he responded. “It was late. We handled it. I’m waiting for the lab reports now. If they can figure out what to send us,” he griped, still nettled about the strange questions.

 

The expression remained. “Not just the office and car. Danny’s place and Helen’s!”

 

Puzzled, Steve gave a slow shake of his head.

 

Duke also shook his head. “You DO know about Danny and Helen’s apartments being tossed, right?”

 

Never one to appreciate a surprise of any kind, McGarrett was incensed that vital information had been kept from him. Deliberately apparently.  “No,” he responded with an even tone that was edged in aggravation. “But that’s about to change.” He snapped up the phone and dialed quickly, tapping his fingers on the desktop as he waited. One . . . two . . . three . . .

 

“Yeah, hello.”

 

“Danno why didn’t I know about your apartment?” he barked, not intending to lash out in such abrupt irritation. “What happened? Are you all right?”

 

The reminder of his own assault burned along his muscle as he flexed his fist on the phone. Certainly someone would have told him if Danno had been injured in a similar attack. Just as they should have informed him about the burglary to his colleague’s apartment?

 

“Uh, yeah, fine, Steve. I – uh – it was pretty late,” he coughed, “so I thought somebody on the team should get a good night’s sleep.”

 

“Hmmm. I’ll be over in a few minutes.” He slammed down the phone without waiting for a reply. “He needs a ride anyway,” he supplied to his other officer.

 

Duke merely nodded.

 

“Anything else I need to know about this morning?” the chief asked as he rounded the desk. He didn’t break his stride, but expected the detective to follow along with a response.

 

“Not that I know of,” Lukela supplied. “I’ll lean on HPD for those reports. Should be here when you get back.”

 

“Nice to know someone’s on the ball,” he conceded as he rushed out the door.

 

Now, the cryptic comment by the lab tech made sense, Steve realized as he slowed his pace to walk down the stairs. Not that it was an excuse for Danno, who should know better than to exclude him from anything involving Five-0.  And what happened to a detective on the squad meant it happened to Five-0. Ohana. More than just a phrase after losing Chin. Renewed with irritation at his friend for trying to protect him (contrary to his own musings about the bonds of ohana), he increased his pace in the parking lot.

 

 

*****

 

The abrupt and unpleasant exchange with McGarrett brought Williams awake with disturbing clarity. Knowing he had miscalculated in his attempt to watch out for Steve’s health, he knew he should hurry to get ready. Stalled by a coughing fit, he sat there for valuable minutes trying to push away the grogginess and fatigue. Not enough sleep, he sighed, wondering if he was getting old. Ever since the swim in the nasty harbor he had been tired out. Lack of sleep, he decided with another cough and a resolute sigh. If Steve was on his way, well, in his mood it would not take him long, so Dan had to get going.

 

After his shower, Williams rummaged through his closet for a decent suit. It was time to go to the cleaners again. Maybe the dark blue sports coat – no – too hot today,  He really needed to expand his wardrobe, he sighed, mentally clicking over his bank account and wondering how much he could budget . . . .

 

Cleaners. Ruined suit. Because he rescued that miserable criminal from the harbor and the guy had been murdered. All for nothing. He had taken his suit to the cleaners yesterday . . . .

 

Key ring. The Asian thug had a key ring he was trying to protect. Key ring!  Quickly he searched his change on top of the dresser. No key ring. Keys. No key ring. Closing his eyes he tried to remember every detail of what happened; the dirty, stinking water, the struggling criminal, the chattering in Chinese, the stabbing from the metal key ring – that he seized and placed in his LEFT pocket. NOT the pocket where he automatically placed his keys and change!

 

He snatched a blue suit off the hangar and hurried to finish dressing. When the doorbell rang he was just knotting his tie. Forgetting about the knot, he raced to open the door and didn’t give Steve a chance to blurt out any reprimand.

 

“Steve, I just remembered, that guy I saved from the harbor yesterday, I took a key ring away from him!  I can’t find it. I think I must have left it in my suit pocket,” he explained in one breath, stepping past McGarrett and onto the outdoor walkway in front of his apartment. “We have to get to the cleaners!” he explained and paced toward the elevators, trying again to knot his tie.

 

McGarrett was only steps behind him. “Key ring?”

 

“Yeah. I’ll explain it all.”

 

 

*****

 

Chang’s Cleaners opened early for people to drop off their clothes before work. The machinery was already running, steam flowing from the back reaches of the store. Heat poured from the open front door and mingling with the natural tropical humidity of the morning when the two detectives entered.

 

“Mr. Chang –“

 

“Ah, morning, Mistah Williams. You suit not able to save – so sorry. Got the rest of you order, ready in back.”

 

“Okay. Listen, when I dropped it off yesterday, did you find anything in the pockets?”

 

“Sure I save,” he nodded with a smile. “You usually take everything out of pockets. Not like most. I check all pockets, even yours. Found something.” He called to his wife in the back, then turned back to the officers. “Snagged on the lining.”

 

A slight Chinese woman came from the back and gave them each a polite nod and bow but did not speak. She handed an object to her husband then scurried away again to be enveloped by the waves of steam.  Chang held out his aged, wrinkled hand and Dan held out his own. Dropped into his palm was a tiger shaped key ring with a jade inset jewel along the top of the back. Chinese characters (for Tiger he guessed) were etched on the green jade and inlaid in black. As a trinket it was probably slightly valuable.

 

“Mahalo, Mr. Chang,” Dan bowed.

 

As he turned to leave, Chang halted him. “You got last week’s cleaning, don’t forget.”

 

“Yeah, thanks.” He had not expected to pick it up until next week – payday – but now he was down another suit unexpectedly and he would need it. Counting out the money in his pocket, he paid for the two suits and after thanking his friendly neighborhood launderer, walked outside into the cooler temperature.

 

“Welcome. You come back Friday. We talk to my brother-in-law,” Chang called after him.

 

Walking in the sunlight, Steve examined the jewelry. As a clue, Dan felt it must be immeasurable. One murder, an attack on state policemen, three attempted burglaries and breaking and entering the Five-0 offices.

 

“High stakes, Danno,” his friend muttered, as if reading his mind. “High risks. Therefore, the prize has to be incredible.”

 

Williams sighed. “I know it must be important, but it looks like something you could buy at International Marketplace.”

 

“Yeah, so we have to investigate further.” He pocketed it. “Maybe we should transport it in an armored truck,” he offered facetiously as they walked to the Mercury.

 

Dan couldn’t argue with that. “Maybe we can crack the mystery today. Otherwise, I don’t know anyone who’s going to volunteer to keep this little trinket.”

 

Both grew quiet and looked at each other. “I’ll go ahead and take it down to lock up.” But Dan made no move to take the key ring.”

 

Steve tossed the jewelry in his hand. “Yeah.”

 

“What are you thinking?”

 

“Clearly there’s a leak.”

 

“And you’re thinking if this is such a hot item maybe we shouldn’t advertise?”

 

“Exactly, Danno. We don’t know who to trust if someone was able to get inside HPD and kill our suspect.”

 

“Yeah, right, but you don’t suspect Helen, do you?”

 

“No, I don’t suspect anyone specifically yet, and I can’t say for sure there is even a leak. But someone got into that cell and killed the guy.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

Steve tossed the key in his hand again. “I think I’ll take care of this for now.”

 

 

*****

 

Discussing possible ramifications of the mystery while the two top detectives entered the Five-0 offices, McGarrett came to a sharp halt when they passed the front door. A tall, broad-shouldered, muscled man with crew-cut auburn hair stood from his chair in the waiting area.  At first glance, Steve could feel the Federal vibes from the man and instantly braced himself for the inevitable tide of interference from the government agencies.

 

“Mr. McGarrett?”

 

“Yes,” Steve acknowledged tightly. “FBI?”

 

The man smiled easily, with a glint of humor in his green eyes. “Ten ring the first time,” he gave in with a nod. “Agent Dale Hanley,” he offered with an open hand.

 

Steve accepted the shake,  warming to the forthright agent. For a Fed he seemed all right. Upfront and right to business. Finally, a Fed he might be able to get along with!  Maybe.

 

After introducing Williams, the three went into McGarrett’s private office. Taking a proffered chair in front of the desk, the agent commented on the mess. McGarrett gave a quick explanation of the events of the last twenty-four hours. He left out details of the recovered key ring in keeping with the pact between he and Williams. No telling who to trust, and the FBI was certainly on that list. Not of suspects, but of agencies out to hijack this case from Five-0. After the summary, Hanley casually glanced around, seemingly unruffled by the bizarre string of circumstances.

 

“Well, looks like our adversaries are some wily characters.” It would have been hard for anyone to miss the Five-0 chief’s flinch over the inclusive language, and Hanley was sharp. He gave a grin and a nod to the detective. “I know, locals have problems with the big bad evil Feds stepping on toes. And your reputation precedes you, Mister McGarrett, that your toes are larger than most. No offense, but you’re territorial.”

 

Instinctively protective of his patch, McGarrett found it hard to be too offensive with this easy going agent. Protective of his bailiwick, yes, but accepting the possibility that they might be able to work with this agent.

 

“Yeah,” McGarrett submitted with a smile.

 

Dan cleared his throat and coughed, but looked like he was choking on a laugh. Steve ignored him.

 

“I think we can still find some common ground. My team is over at the police station now conferring with their people. I’ve come here to liaise with you. If you’ll catch me up on all your statements and records concerning this smuggling bunch, that will be a good start. And the murders, of course.” He smiled, a gesture of openness, but not much warmth.

 

Willing to meet the man part way, McGarrett tentatively nodded. “All right. I’ll even give you an office for your stay here, Agent Hanley, but I want this completely understood.  This is not your case. This is a Five-0 case – illegal aliens aside – we have murder and smuggling as existing cases which supercede Federal jurisdiction. But,” he conditioned with a slight grin, “I’m willing to share with the government.”

 

Chuckling, amused, Hanley replied guardedly, “Sure, Mister McGarrett. The government is always happy to work with cooperative officials.”

 

“Fine. And you can call me Steve.”

 

Coming lithely to his feet for someone so tall, Hanley told him, “Dale to my associates.”

 

“Danno will show you to a place where you will have access to all pertinent material.” To Williams he said, “Let him have – the – uh – spare office,” he stumbled, not wanting to mention it used to be Chin’s cubicle.

 

The empathy and mind reading were apparent in Dan’s blue eyes. The shared understanding was both touching and difficult to take. Steve brusquely turned away to shuffle papers at his desk. When the others were gone, McGarrett sighed deeply and sank down in his chair behind the desk. Even after all these months Chin’s loss was still so close to the surface sometimes. A friend cut down in the line of duty.

 

The memory served to chill him with an almost forewarning. They were now, again, dealing with ruthless people who murdered. So impudent that they killed within HPD!  So bold they attacked McGarrett and Williams last night right here in the Palace!  And further searched Wong and Williams’ apartments.

 

The perils of yesterday sobered him: the near foreshadowed premonition of danger -- the dip in the harbor when Danno was chasing the suspect. The blood-letting here where either one of them could have been seriously injured or killed. And Danno’s devoted tendencies to protect him – all reasons screaming for him to watch out. These merciless criminals were capable of anything, he reasoned, and reminded they could not be too careful pitted against such adversaries.

 

 

*****

 

Checking in just before lunch, Williams stepped into McGarrett’s office and froze. Steve’s face beamed with such a triumphant smile it took the younger detective off balance for a moment.  After closing the door, Steve dangled the key ring in his fingertips, he knew his friend had discovered a secret.

 

“What is it? Priceless artifact?”

 

McGarrett laughed with delighted appreciation. “Even more cunning. It’s brilliant. You won’t believe it.” On the desk he separated the silver key ring and the jade off of the tiger shape upside down on the blotter. “There are characters.  The symbol looks like the tattoo on the dead guy, doesn’t it?”

 

Dan examined it from the sunlight streaming through the open lanai door. “Yeah, looks the same.” Watching McGarrett, he knew the Cheshire grin spoke of more. “You have something else.”

 

“Look at this!  Under here.” He slipped the jade aside and revealed the imprint of a key shape. “An old spy trick.”

 

“Sure,” Dan suppressed a cough. “Make an impression of a key and then mold a copy.”

 

McGarrett’s eyes narrowed. “You still don’t sound very good.”

 

“Can’t seem to get the harbor out of my lungs,” he joked.

 

Grunting his disapproval, the boss continued. “Does that look like a safety deposit key to you?”

 

“Yeah. But for what bank? Here or China or Hong Kong?”

 

“I don’t know, but the character could be a clue.”

 

“You going to ask Helen?”

 

McGarrett shook his head. “No, not yet.”

 

“You can trust her, Steve,” Dan assured.

 

“I want to check things out myself, first.”

 

The thrill of the chase was sending exhilaration through his system like energized nerves. It was like this rarely, but frequent enough that McGarrett did not forget the reasons he was a cop. Moments like this made it all worthwhile. He sensed, now, a cunning intelligence behind this caper. The illegals smuggled into the country – just part of an international, deadly operation. Murder, intimidation, attacks – none of it beyond their adversaries. It gave him a sense of anticipation to be pitted against someone who might match his own level of skill and mental acuity. It also caused him some trepidation to know his foes were dangerous and willing to do almost anything to get this shiny prize back.

 

The knock at the door startled Steve and he slipped the key ring into his pocket before he called for the person to enter. When Helen walked in the Five-0 men exchanged silent looks.

 

“Street talk says our old pal Sol has something to tell us about the smugglers.  I think I’ve found him. He’s hiding out in some dive on Hotel Street. You guys want in on this?”

 

Anxious to track down what he could find on the key, McGarrett declined, but offered, “Danno, you go with Helen, let me know if you find anything.”

 

“Check,” Dan agreed, pondering Steve’s motives as he left with the Lieutenant.

 

He wondered at Steve sending him off with Wong. Matchmaking, or making sure that Five-0 kept a hand in all angles of the investigation? Steve was smarting a little over Hanley hovering and inserting himself into all phases of the case. The agent was nice enough, but always underfoot and making sure he or his fellow agents were involved with everything from interviews with the refugees to reading paperwork.

 

So far, Steve had kept the key ring a secret from the Feds. Also, the significance of the tattoos. Not that they really knew the importance of the markings anyway, but checking the autopsy reports on the other two victims of Shaulin bruising, they also wore the symbols on their necks.

 

“Where are we going?” Dan asked as they reached the parking lot. “My car or yours?”

 

“Yours is nicer,” she decided, crossing to the dark LTD at the front of the Palace.

 

Dan laughed as he started the engine and swung the car out toward Richards Street. “So are you going to offer Sol more money?” He eyed her with a smile. “Your offer must be better than mine.”

 

“I have a more generous nature,” she winked. “Did you know the informants don’t like you very much. Too cheap.”

 

“Ouch!” he pretended to be hurt, but quickly grinned again.

 

“Anyway, word on the street is that  there’s another drug shipment coming in within the next few days. I think Sol can point us in the right direction.”

 

“We’ll set up the nets,” Dan responded around a yawn, then a cough. Leaning his head on the door, he closed his eyes, fighting to stay awake.

 

“You all right?”

 

“Just didn’t get enough sleep,” he yawned again.

 

Hotel Street was a haven for the downtrodden, the pushers, the addicts. They parked around the corner from a seedy café and walked to Sol’s dive. The informant was not there, but a quick search of the small studio room netted a note about a local company.

 

“Hmmm. Tiger Shipping. They are restaurant suppliers in Chinatown.”

 

The information brought a niggling of recognition in the back of his mind. “Moe Kanaloa,” he blurted out. “Small time racketeer. Yeah, Tiger Shipping. We busted him last year. Money laundering. You think he’s out al --” Dan stopped. “Yeah, he is out. I think I saw him on the news footage of the docks!”


At Helen’s confusion, Williams explained his viewing of the news the night before. He wanted to go after the lead, but Helen was more interested in finding Sol. Deciding to split up, he would head back to the Palace and get Steve. He asked if she would be all right her on her own. She promised to call Ho as back up and would report back later on what Sol told them.

 

Returning to the Palace, Dan animatedly reported his connecting-of-dots to the boss. McGarrett smiled with growing excitement. It was all coming together. Kanaloa seemed a little bit of a small fry to be meddling in international smuggling and murder, but, Steve never ceased to be amazed at people’s greed and what it would drive them to do for more power or money or both.

 

Pocketing the key ring he was still studying, he suggested, “Let’s go find him and get some answers.”

 

 

*****

 

 

“Nice.”

 

McGarrett grinned at his companion as he slowed the Mercury to approach the turn off just ahead. He knew what Dan Williams was referring to and the assessment was correct. The island native had been commenting on the natural beauty of Oahu’s windward coast since they emerged from the Pali tunnel.

 

It was a particularly nice day today. While not completely immune to his idyllic home, McGarrett had not noted the mist hovering around the mountains until Dan had mentioned it. Nor had he paid any attention to the drizzly columns of rain from an off shore storm in Kaneohe Bay, or the double rainbows arcing within the angled cliffs of emerald sharply contrasted by the cloud-mottled azure sky.

 

McGarrett had a lot on his mind this afternoon with the new element of Tiger Shipping thrown into the mix of the smuggling tong -- the vague connection to the violent crimes and this small time hood, Moe Kanaloa. It was intriguing and he needed to sort it out. Without being armed with a search warrant, he hoped they could rattle Kanaloa enough for him to spill some admission of his involvement in smuggling illegal aliens into Hawaii from China. A thorough search of Kanaloa’s fleet of fishing boats and his office at the docks would commence as soon as they had warrants.

 

Preoccupied with his aching arm, lingering fatigue and the recent violence against them, Steve had not even thought about the splendors of Hawaii during the drive as they sped toward the ocean. Not until his subconscious tracked the third or fourth sigh from Williams did he get the hint. The silent appreciation turned to verbal longing when they hit the stunning vistas of Kailua.

 

“You sound like you need a vacation,” McGarrett observed with a wry smile. As if that was going to happen now that the smuggling case was breaking open.

 

“This is one of the most incredible views,” Dan countered indirectly. “On Oahu, that’s saying a lot. And these homes are fantastic. Every room with a view I bet.”

 

“Yeah,” he agreed. “Thinking of moving?” he teased. Not even he could afford these prices for real estate, and Danno brought home considerably less than he did.

 

“No,” Dan scoffed. “It IS the fastest growing city on the island. Who wouldn’t want to live here? You’ve got everything -- the beach, the ocean, the mountains -- which are just an incredible background to the bay. Nani.”

 

“Oh, yeah.  Whatever that means.”

 

“Beautiful.  Doesn’t the artist in you just long to come out here every Saturday and capture it?”

 

“Sure. And what Saturday would that be?”

 

“Well,” he smirked cagily, “you could stop working on your boat.”

 

Glancing over, McGarrett caught the readable tease in the expression, the twinkle in the blue eyes and the humor in the tone. He countered with a straight face and a wry tone. “If I fix my boat, then I can sail it out into the bay and paint.”

 

“That’s a big IF,” Dan countered, never missing an opportunity to jibe his boss about the never-ending repair project on the sail boat.

 

“I’ll remember that, Detective Williams, next time you want a sail.”

 

Smirking, Dan gestured ahead. “I think the turn off is up here,” he finished with a cough.

 

“Am I going to have to make a doctor’s appointment for you myself?”

 

“I’m fine.”

 

Slowing the Mercury, McGarrett turned into a gravel drive. They stopped at the first two-story house set back slightly from the highway. The front of the home was magnificently covered with glass panels that took up most of the makai wall facing the bay. On the north side was a huge deck for barbeques. Parked at a careless angle, was a dark, late model LTD, perhaps a year newer than Williams’ company vehicle. Steve rolled his car to a stop beside it.

 

“Looks like Kanaloa has company,” McGarrett observed of the shiny Ford.  He gestured to the window sticker.  “Rental.”

 

Williams whistled as he emerged from the car. “See what I mean? Wow, what a house.”

 

As they walked up the gravel path dividing bushy, tropical plants, McGarrett studied the area, noting the garage must be in back. No one appeared in the non-curtained windows. No noise came from the house set away from neighboring lots separated by rows of bamboo and banana trees.

 

McGarrett rang the doorbell and waited, stretching his collar and tie away from his neck. It was hot here next to the wall of windows with the sun bearing down full force in an intense, afternoon angle. Shrugging uncomfortably under his jacket, he removed the warrant from his pocket and rang the bell again.

 

“Shall we look around back?” Dan frowned.

 

They split up to circle the house and met in the back yard. There was an expensive foreign sports car under a carport. The vehicle elicited an excited whistle from Dan. The attitude died away as they approached the rear door. The shorter detective became all business as they stood on each side of the door and McGarrett knocked.

 

The door slid open at the pressure. Calling, receiving no reply, Steve slipped his hand to retrieve his .38 from under his jacket and glanced at Dan, then nodded that they should proceed.

 

Drawing his revolver, Dan mouthed a silent ‘Okay’.

 

Pocketing the warrant, McGarrett stepped cautiously into the house, Williams just behind.

 

The first room entered was the kitchen. It was so eerily quiet Steve noted the ticking of the clock on the wall. A chair was knocked over from the polished wood table that was smashed into the corner.

 

“A struggle?” Dan whispered. “A search?” he amended, clarity rippling his brow..

 

That would be consistent with recent events, he considered. Nodding, McGarrett warily peered into the near corridor off the kitchen. It was a long hallway in two directions.  A short corridor in front gave way to a foyer and the base of a staircase. The halls to the right and left were empty and both cornered a few feet from this point. The silence was oppressive, the stillness allowing for a faint murmur of traffic from the highway to be heard.

 

“Moe Kanaloa!” Steve shouted out. “This is Five-0!” Silence. “First floor,” he quietly instructed, pointing to the left.

 

Dan nodded and crept away in that direction, while Steve stepped to the right.

 

Meticulously searching each room, McGarrett’s nerves were taut. On a sub level, his instincts told him there was danger here. Though the outward appearance of an open door and an overturned chair could be completely innocent, his gut feeling was it was not something simple. There was peril here. The enemies involved in the smuggling were ruthless murderers. They would be unlikely to leave accomplices behind.

 

With every step into each room with a spectacular view of either the ocean or the mountains, his anxiety escalated. Around every corner he expected to see Kanaloa dead. Maybe the smuggler had run afoul of his associates in China. Maybe they knew Five-0 was on the verge of an arrest and snuffed out the loose end in Hawaii.

 

Each still, empty room tightened his fears. The place was like a tomb. Too quiet. He could hear his accentuated, tight breathing, heard the muted wind off the coast, the hum of cars on the highway. He had not detected a sound from the other part of the house. So Danno had found nothing either. A chill ran down his spine and he thought he should have had them stick together. What if there was still danger lurking here?  Sharply turning around, he started back for the kitchen with an ever increasingly paced tread.

 

The silence eerily excruciating on his taut nerves, McGarrett was jogging past the staircase when he heard TWO shots reverberate, breaking the sepulchral silence. The quick succession nearly blurred the sounds into one explosion, but he was certain there had been two reports. Breaking into a run, he passed the foyer and dashed on, stopping at the corner at the hall in the wing where he had sent Danno.

 

Another shot -- quieter this time -- popped somewhere ahead of him.

 

A quick peak around the corner revealed no clue to what had happened. Taking a breath, he looked again, this time taking longer, drinking in the details of the visual emptiness. It was so quiet now!

 

“Danno?”

 

Dust motes cavorted in the sun-streamed hall sprinkling the corridor with the only movement. The smell of gunpowder silted the air as it drifted to him on an ocean breeze. Fear gripped his throat, choking dread and anxiety to clog his tight air.

 

“Danno!”

 

Heart heavy, his foreboding nearly culminated to a terrible conclusion. Who was engaged in the gun battle? Who had been shot?  Danno?  Kanaloa? The panic reached his voice.

 

“Danno!”

 

Indiscriminant gunfire rained down the hall. Steve dove for cover around the corner, hitting the wall with a slam.

 

From outside he heard noises in the front, then an engine rev to life and tires screech. Torn between what he would find here in the house and a fleeing suspect outside, he knew whatever had happened he was not going to let the assailants get away. Danno must already be out there – that explained the silence.  Still concerned he broke into a run, decided he better provide back up for his impulsive officer.

 

Racing through the hall to the kitchen, he flew out the back door. Only dust met him in the yard.  The LTD was gone. Hardly catching a breath, he jumped when bullets popped around him. Diving against the wall, he waited, stilling his breathing, listening for more sounds. There was no movement outside the house. No one else. Where was Danno? Still inside?

 

Long moments stretched and he kept his senses tuned for any telltale noise. His other sense – the cop instinct  that ran deep within – told him the danger was past. He had been tricked by a clever slight-of-hand – lured out here and more than one person had escaped. Then who was left inside? Only Danno, and from his associate there was ominous and dreadful silence.

 

Swinging back in through the doorway, Steve retraced his track through the house, down the hall. He slowed his breathing and heart rate, tried to focus on sounds, hoping to catch a hint if the gunman was still here. He wanted to shout out to find out what happened to Danno, but his own survival took precedence. He couldn’t do anything to help his colleague if he could not save himself. In one of the most difficult moments of his life, he waited, slowing down from the panic, the rush of battle, to prepare for whatever was ahead. Only his ears could alert him to danger, and he needed those and all his other senses to get around this corner and down the hall where he felt his friend had to be. Danno had not left the house, pursuing the suspect. He had to still be here but unable to respond . . . .

 

Circumspectly, he peeked around the corner in a quick glance. No one there. No sound.  Calling, he ordered his colleague to reply.  Nothing.  Cautious, but rushing, he dashed in and out of a few empty rooms. Then he stopped just outside the room at the end of the hall. Aiming the revolver, he noted his hand was shaking. Inhaling, he swung across the open doorway and drew in a deep breath of surprise.

 

Kanaloa. Dead. No Williams. Where was Danno?

 

Finding the dead informant was a shock, but only in that the discovery intensified Steve's concern for Williams. Doing a fast, running search of the house, disturbed that there was no sign of anyone! Underlying fear bubbled to the surface amid confusion and disbelief. Danno was gone! Whomever had killed Kanaloa had taken Danno!  

 

Breathing hard, Steve ran to the back yard.  The car Williams had admired only a few minutes earlier was just vanishing around the curve in the road. He raced back through the house and reached his car and put out APBs on both vehicles. Then he contacted Duke to get a crime lab team and the coroner out here immediately. At the same time he alerted Lukela, then HPD, of Williams' status as missing. Patrol cars roaming the island would be on the look out for the detective immediately. He just hoped it was soon enough.

 

Nervous and distressed, he checked the yard and found nothing of interest except some huge, deep footprints imbedded in the sandy soil near where the LTD had been parked. Kanaloa was nowhere near the size of the giant that had made these prints. Someone involved with nabbing Danno?

 

He returned to the room where the murdered man was tied and careful not to disturb any evidence, he studied the scene. Walking in from the hall where Danno would have come from, he tried to put himself in Danno's place. What had happened when his friend came in here and entered the murder scene? There was no sign of struggle, no tell-tale disturbance of any kind. Just a dead body and a missing detective.  That meant Danno had been subdued quickly, forced into instant silence and submission.  Quick acting drug?  Violence?  Something that did not leave visible trace.

 

He reiterated in his mind that there was only one explanation -- Danno had been kidnapped -- forced away from the scene for reasons unknown. Who had been here waiting for them? Why hadn't Danno called out for help?

 

Kanaloa looked like he had been killed by the same method favored by the smuggling tong. The bruising on the neck was all too familiar. He couldn't spot any tattoos, but Kanaloa was Hawaiian, so perhaps he was not a full-fledged member of the tong.

 

Snorting with frustration, he lightly pounded a fist on the wall as he leaned against the door. What had happened? Why nab a cop? The reasons for a murderous tong to do so were all frightening and as much as he hated to speculate, the insidious possibilities chilled him. Nothing good could come of this and while he fought to find some hope, it was a struggle to hold onto any optimism.

 

Returning to his car, he radioed Central and received updates. Lukela was on his way to the beach. No sign of the red sports car or the LTD. No sign of Williams. Pacing in the sand, he looked out at the perfect blue ocean beyond the highway, the arch of a rainbow streaming through the clouds just in front of the distant mountains. An alluring day in paradise, but it all seemed grey and dismal to him.

 

Lukela's blue LTD pulled into the lot. Before the dust settled, a rented black sedan arrived and Hanley nearly leaped out before the car could stop. Growling in the back of his throat with disapproval, McGarrett met Lukela and gave him a personal summary of events. Before he finished his first sentence, Hanley was there -- grim faced and solemn -- listening, hovering, looming like a spectral shadow over McGarrett's world. When Steve ordered his detective to intensify the APB and put more units on the street to find Danno, the FBI man finally spoke.

 

"Wait a minute on that, Detective.” The tone was firm and resolute.

 

McGarrett glared him down. "We don't have time --"

 

"I'm afraid you do, Steve. We've been working on this case jointly, but only to a point. This disappearance makes things harder for me, but simpler, too, in a way. We've had our eye on a suspect and this clinches his guilt I'm afraid."

 

Not liking this vein of conversation, McGarrett stared back at the agent. "What do you mean?"

 

Almost as tall as him, Hanley firmly looked back; steadfast, level, calm. "We've been collecting evidence against an officer who had contact with Yang and access to the jail cell. An informant put him in communication with the smuggling ring and claims this officer has actively road blocked Five-0’s efforts to make significant arrests. The snitch also claims we are going to find evidence of a payoff in this suspect’s possession.

 

“Who?” McGarrett demanded, irritated at the sweeping condemnations that he instinctively knew he was not going to like. Reasons: the attitude – almost guarded – of the usually straightforward agent. The nearly apologetic, but firm tone that this FBI man had bad news that McGarrett would refute, but he was going to hear it anyway. “Who is this suspect we’ve managed to miss?” 

 

“Dan Williams."

 

Steve's first impulse was to laugh in derision at the absurdity of the statement. Hanley's grim demeanor, however, precluded any humor in the ridiculous situation. In those precious seconds, he assimilated the list of accusations and tumbled them through his thoughts in relation to the disappearance of his friend. That the agent was serious was obvious. That he thought Danno's abduction was a plot by Williams to escape discovery -- or prosecution for wrongdoing -- was ludicrous.

 

There were so many denials and insults he could lob back he could not even choose. Refuting the idiotic claims was the first rebuttal and he flung it out sharply.  "I can’t believe you have wasted your time like this," he scoffed viciously. "Dan Williams is the most honest officer you will ever find. He has nothing to do with this tong or anyone in it. Whatever you think you have you’re wrong. Or, someone’s manufactured things to make a Five-0 officer look bad, to throw suspicion off the real criminals.” Tone hard, eyes blazing, temper barely in check, he snapped out, "I'm not even going to qualify your ridiculous ideas!  Dan Williams has been kidnapped by the animals we're perusing. His life depends on us finding him as quickly as possible!  Don't get in my way, Hanley!  If you want to make yourself useful, fine, you can cooperate with Five-0. If you don't, then just keep these absurdities to yourself while I try to save my detective!"

 

The coroner arrived and McGarrett turned to leave, but Hanley stopped him. "Sorry, Steve, this is my jurisdiction now. My crime scene."

 

The glare had to contain some of the fire blazing within, because Hanley dropped his grip.

 

"Don't try it,” McGarrett breathed threateningly. “You don't know what a bad day is until you try to cross me on this."

 

“I overheard what you told Duke. Williams was shooting at you, man! Isn’t that a big enough clue for you?”

 

“If he’d fired at me, he would’ve HIT me! Danno doesn’t miss!  So obviously, he was not doing the shooting!  He had already been nabbed by then. Shooting at me was a diversion so they could get him away.”

 

“Well, has it occurred to you that maybe he didn’t really want to hit you? Just slow you down so that he and his associates could escape? I’m betting that Williams was feeling the heat, and he realized that the jig was up!”

 

“You are wrong and you are wasting my time!  Instead of accusing Danno you should be looking for him!”

 

Irritated, but not cowed, Hanley gave a sympathetic shake of his head. “I don’t know what it would be like if one of my team betrayed me, Steve, so I can’t really understand what this means to you. I DO appreciate the disbelief. Your loyalty is commendable –“

 

McGarrett scoffed derisively, but the agent continued, ignoring the rude noises.

 

“The fact is, this IS NOT your jurisdiction anymore. This is a Federal case. It has been since you and HPD found the refugees. This morning, before I came out here, I had enough evidence to throw Williams in jail. With his disappearance the case is just about closed.”

 

“Not by a long shot –“

 

“Look Steve, we’ve got a thick file back at Langley on you. Careers have been bent butting up against you. That’s why, before I drove out to this idyllic spot of paradise, I talked to your boss.”

 

McGarrett felt the lava-intense temperature of his temper reach a boiling point. “The Governor?”

 

“Yeah. You want to talk to him go ahead. He knows all about this and admitted he – and you – have no choice in this. I’m sorry, I can imagine this is very personal to you, but your part in this is over. This is my case now.”

 

About one thing, Hanley was right. He had no idea what it was like for a friend to betray him. Steve had experienced that just a few months ago with his old NI buddy Pete Shay. It would never, ever happen with Danno.

 

Hanley started toward the beach house. McGarrett kept apace with him, black shoes tanned with light dust from the sandy soil. He fleetingly felt it served as an allegory – dust in their eyes covering the real issue – framing Dan was a ploy to keep them occupied and off balance. What worried him was what they had done with the scapegoat.

 

“You’ve got this all wrong. Dan Williams is a victim here!  There are foot prints over there the size of small boats. Some sumo-sized person drove away in a rental car.  He was carrying a load. That would have been Danno!”

 

Just before they reached the back door, Hanley stopped and stared at the detective. “Then the sooner we find Williams, the sooner we can get some answers.”

 

“That’s the first smart thing you’ve said,” Steve snapped out and preceded him into the kitchen.

 

 

*****


As difficult as it was for Steve to swallow, there were some things he could not control or change. For now – temporarily – he could not intimidate nor remove Hanley. That being irrefutable, Steve then chose to become the FBI man’s shadow. If the Feds were going to pin things on Danno, Steve would make sure he was there to counter the trumped up clues.

 

Allowing – not that he had any choice -- the enemy into Danno’s apartment was sickening, but it had to be done. The front room was messy – evidence of  the recent search that had taken place just last night. Steve explained that in a desultory fashion, resenting that he had to discuss it at all.

 

Following Hanley through the rooms, he barely kept himself from grabbing things away from the agent. Personal items that Danno would not want touched. When one of the clumsy agents dropped Danno’s surfboard on the floor McGarrett chewed him out like a CPO leveling a green Ensign.

 

Before the clutsy man could right it, Steve grabbed the prized object away from him and held onto the blue and white custom board that Steve had given his friend. The board became like a shield, metaphorically providing a tangible barrier to separate him from this violation of his innocent friend’s privacy. It became his protective armor in it’s sentimental richness. This had been an expensive token, custom painted with his friend’s name even, from him to Danno. On one level it replaced a broken board with a better one. On a deeper plane, it was Steve’s way of showing how much he valued Danno. Rarely able to express such emotions in more personal ways, Steve used the valued gift as a symbol of appreciation and friendship.  Just like the wrist watch he had given his friend long ago.

 

No doubt it showed nicks and scrapes from the rough work out it received every time Danno used it. More abuse than it would ever get from a clumsy FBI agent knocking it to the floor. It was the principle that drove him to protect this treasured gift right now.

 

He was hurting and disturbed at the ominous disappearance of his friend. Danno could be dead right now. He could be injured or – well – the possibilities were all grim and unpleasant. Holding onto this board was a little bit of a lifeline for Steve until he could find his friend. His grip tightened around the fiberglass edges, a physical display of his angry, checked frustration at this outrage! 

 

Unable to contain lashing, acid comments to Hanley, Steve verbally refuted any claim to legitimacy at this search. At first, Hanley countered the attacks with reason. Angry that McGarrett would not drop the opposition, the FBI man at last came to stand at Steve’s shoe tips.

 

“Steve, please, this is not easy for any of us when a colleague in enforcement is – uh – suspected –“

 

“Then stop it!” he snapped. “I can assure you Dan Williams is being set up!  He is innocent –“

 

“All right!  I’ve heard it!” Hanley sharply countered.

 

Trying to defuse the tension, Hanley asked him to stay in the kitchen area while the agent searched the fridge. Refusing, Steve leaned the board against a living room wall. Then McGarrett paced, finally exiting to the small lanai of the living room, livid at his inability to stop this madness.

 

“Sir, I’ve found something!”

 

McGarrett stepped back into the apartment in time to see a young agent present a suit – still in it’s dry cleaning bag – to Hanley. Dan’s off-white leisure suit. The lining of the pocket was torn and pulled out and the young man handed the senior agent a small bank book.

 

“Check it out,” Hanley told the officer.

 

Before the agent had taken more than two steps Steve snatched the book out of his hands. Ignoring the protests, he scanned the name. Jeff Carson. Bank of Hawaii. Deposits only – he repressed a whistle. Eight thousand dollars worth of deposits in the last two months.

 

Hanley stood next to him, left palm up.

 

“This means nothing,” Steve insisted and slapped the book into his hand.

 

“We’ll see.”

 

“Hanley,” he ground out, hoping it did not sound like a plea, “This is all circumstantial evidence. Let’s keep a lid on this until we get more information. We really don’t know what is going on yet.”

 

Hanley tilted his head, considering. “Only my men know about our line of inquiry  so far, and the Governor. No reason not to keep it tight. I would be the last one to want to damage the reputation of a good officer.”

 

Steve gave him a grateful nod.

 

“Steve, it it’s any consolation,” he said as he gave the bank book to the young agent to bag. “Your Governor didn’t believe me, either. And you know what, this once, I wouldn’t mind being wrong.”

 

It was no consolation to the head of Five-0. Justice was not a concept taken lightly. Injustice a crime considered even graver. When inflicted upon himself or one of his own, McGarrett’s natural territorial tendencies flared. He took this frame up as a personal attack against his ohana and that stung more than if it had been targeting him specifically. It intensified his passion to clear Danno’s name.

 

However, that was not the only impetus driving him. His foremost goal and most pressing desire, was to find Danno. Until he had his friend safely back with him, all of this flurry of accusation and trumped evidence was dust clouding the primary issue. Danno had been taken and the dread of that insidious act gnawed at him.

 

“You ARE wrong!” McGarrett flung back. “And this phony attempt at framing him is intended to steer us away from the fact that my officer is missing!  Go ahead and let it cloud your judgment, Hanley, but it is not going to distract me from the real issue. Now get out of here and let me do my job!”

 

More irritated than angry or insulted, Hanley ordered his men to wrap it up. Arms folded like a wrathful sentinel, McGarrett paced, watching the tech crew and agents trail out the door, his mind, meanwhile, worrying on far more pertinent matters.

 

Who knew they would be at the beach house? Helen. Ho. Possibly the informant Sol if Wong had ever caught up with him. And the officers could have inadvertently told any number of people.

 

Was Danno’s kidnapping premeditated or an act of impulse? The lack of violence or signs of a struggle suggested premeditation. How could anyone simply snatch a fit, armed police officer? And the question that burned his mind and set his heart on a troubled and dark course was the one that he could not answer: why. Why grab Danno? 

 

 

*****

 

 

The search of Dan’s cubicle at the Palace was nothing short of excruciating. While Steve hoped to keep this unusual procedure secret, the staff and various HPD support officers were now clued in to events.  Unable to watch the Feds ransack their friend’s desk, Steve and Duke retreated to McGarrett’s office. Hanley had been fair about the investigation and shared all the supposed evidence the Feds had against Danno.

 

The bank book, the testimony of Sol the snitch. The informant had been found by the Feds and was singing like a mynah bird, saying Danno worked for both sides of the smuggling tong – and Five-0 -- and the circumstantial evidence that Williams HAD been the one to discover the body in the HPD lock up. The Feds had taken the extra leap claiming Danno had killed Yang.

 

McGarrett had refuted with facts of his own, leaving out the vital clue of the key ring. He didn’t want to let that go yet until he knew just how important it could be. Meanwhile, he and Duke had to work at finding Danno, and clearing him while juggling the original case – bringing down the smugglers.

 

“Well, we got the heat on somebody,” Duke sighed. “Like Pele’s tongue.” Sitting in a white chair in front of McGarrett’s desk, he watched the boss pace across the room. “Shook them up real good.”

 

“Yeah,” Steve agreed tightly, sharply turning by his door, straining to hear what was going on in the outer office, then continuing to stalk. “So how do we turn the heat back on the bad guys?”

 

Duke reviewed the options, but McGarrett found he only half listened. This was hard, to not have Danno here bouncing around the thoughts and sparking them with new energy. Bringing his unique and talented insight to the case. Lukela was smart and dedicated, yes, but Williams had an intuitive grasp of police work – and an even sharper sense of McGarrett’s mind. Their mental back-and-forth was like ideas being shuffled as in sync as a card deck.  They could sometimes communicate, it seemed, without words, and he missed that so much right now.

 

When Lukela fell silent, McGarrett quietly voiced his mental review of events, trying to glean some fresh clarity to the puzzle. Everything had seemed normal; the bust at the docks with HPD, Wong and Ho. Then it all fell to pieces. The killing at HPD was not usual, but Wong, Ho and Five-0 seemed to cover that with normal . . . .

 

Replaying the scenes again, he realized there was at least one other person closely connected with this case. And in every instance – the dock bust, the death in the cell, the clue about the Tiger Shipping – every time, Lieutenant Helen Wong was there -- acting – in retrospect – suspicious.

 

A light knock on the door startled him. He automatically offered permission to enter and for an uncomfortable moment was disturbed that, as his mind expected, it was not his second-in-command entering.

 

Hanley gave a nod. “Just wanted to let you know we’re through.”

 

McGarrett nearly grabbed him. “Dale, there is someone who has as much suspicion about this operation as Danno. More, I think. How can you call him a suspect? There were others involved in this, some using the same informants. Like Lieutenant Wong!”

 

Hanley shook his head almost sadly. “Well, from what my sources tell me, Williams was involved in some sort of relationship with her, so I wouldn’t say that Wong’s activities or testimony could clear him!”

 

The remark only further irritated him, but Steve valiantly restrained from commentary.

 

“Besides, we have another piece of evidence I haven’t shared with you yet.” He handed Steve a folded paper. “Your informant gave us  this. Taken earlier this evening.”

 

Unfolding it, Steve was not impressed. A picture of Williams – at a distance – at the airport. The only way he could really tell it was Danno was the stature, the distinctive curly hair, and the unique, plaid blue suit.

 

“So, this could have been taken any time. It was not today.” Danno had been wearing a medium blue sports jacket and dark blue slacks. He had been snatched from the beach house against his will. He would not be strolling around at the airport!  Unfortunately, there were no convenient clocks around for a time check in the photo, nor any shop keepers or security guards in the shot to use for verification. “Do you have any witnesses?”

 

“Not yet.”

 

“You won’t find any.”

 

After the FBI agent left, Steve waited a few moments, then also left, instructing Duke to keep on top of his sources.

 

*****

 

Driving through the dark streets of Honolulu, McGarrett realized most people were probably at home having dinner – no – it was long past supper time, he figured as he consulted his watch. Normal people. Not many of those would be cops. None working for Five-0. Duke worked pretty hard and mostly succeeded at being a good father and husband despite the taxing hours at the office. Chin had been the closest of any of the detectives to be typed as a regular guy.

 

McGarrett and Williams, no, they lived for the job. Another glaring reason why this whole scheme was so ludicrous. Someone had planned it well, made a good frame, but it would not last. Soon the edges would fray under his relentless drive and this would be cleared away. The FBI charges, however, were nothing compared to his sense of fear for his friend. Danno was in danger every minute it took to clear his name. What had happened to him? Where was he?

 

Considering the time, he called Dispatch  and paged Lieutenant Wong and was not surprised to find she had gone home for the night. Cruising toward her apartment, Steve absently rubbed at his sore arm, the fatigue and tension of the last few days accumulating. His stomach growled, reminding him he should have eaten something for dinner, unsure if he had even had lunch. Rubbing his eyes, he determined not to lose focus. Danno was out there somewhere counting on him to come through and figure this out. Maybe Helen could shed some light on it.

 

Not formulating a game plan, when Wong answered her door Steve stepped into the modest apartment that still showed signs of being tossed the night before. She had managed to do a little more straightening than Danno – he gulped down the wave of painful regret that came with the intense emotion over his friend’s disappearance.

 

“Danno is missing,” he blurted out harshly, turning on her with no disguising his feelings. “The FBI thinks he’s been taking pay offs for this smuggling tong.”

 

The abrupt, direct attack startled her and that was just what he wanted. With a gasp, she put a hand to her mouth. “No, how could they think that?”

 

“From a frame. And I want to know what you know about it.”

 

“What? Is he okay – no – you don’t know that, he’s missing.”

 

The shock was real, he was almost sure. Maybe she was concerned for his friend. Maybe she cared for him, too, he considered, but was it enough to allay his suspicions? No, not with Danno’s well-being in the balance.

 

“When they started talking about informants and Yang murdered in the cell and all those little events, I remembered some things, Helen. You talked to the refugees in a different language, didn’t you?”

 

She flinched, her eyes showing obvious guilt. Like a predator after his weakened prey, McGarrett went for the kill.  “When you saw the tattoo on the victim’s neck you recognized it!  Didn’t you?”

 

Almost shaking her head, she wanted to deny it, but couldn’t. He grabbed onto her arm.

 

“When you told us about Tiger Shipping, you knew more than you revealed to us!”

 

“I – uh – “

 

“We know there’s some inside connection there has to be!  Our suspect was killed inside HPD!  They are blaming Danno!  Whoever is behind this must have him!  Danno’s life is probably at stake here, Helen!  We need to find him and clear him!  Tell me what you know!”

 

Almost in tears, she agreed. “All right. I don’t know if this will help, I don’t see how it can,  but I did recognize the tattoo. It is from the Lo Foo Sing. They blackmail and pressure people into slavery. They ship them here and put them in bondage. It’s been going on for years, Steve. Up until recently it was a small operation, mostly focusing in the Danzhou province.” She eyed him hesitating.

 

“Go on,” he urged, trying to put some compassion in his tone, but from her flinch he knew he had not managed anything but gruff sternness.

 

“I know this because my mother was once a slave.”

 

“Your mother?” Surprised, he eased off, pacing, snapping his fingers. The close relationship to such an evil operation was unexpected, but now that he thought about Helen’s drive to pursue the heinous criminals, her dedication and reactions, it all fit. “Will you tell me about it?” he asked, finally mastering a calm and reasonable tone. “Please.”

 

Her tale was one that had probably been enacted many times in Asia. A poor daughter sold into slavery. Mrs. Wong, though, had a happy ending to her story. Purchased, here in Hawaii, by Mr. Wong, who had fallen in love with her, she was paid off from her masters – Lo Foo Sing – and permitted to live a free life. It explained a great deal and it gave him a solid, searing ray of hope in the bleakness of the case.

 

“We need to talk with her, Helen, and get details –“

 

“I can’t ask her that, Steve. No, she separated from them years ago. She’s hidden from them –”

 

“This is Danno we’re talking about, Helen!” he reminded with sharp emphasis.

 

She studied him for a moment, the tears pooled in her eyes not diminishing. “Okay,” she surrendered reluctantly.

 

 

*****

 

The small house in the rural hills of Wahiawa was homey. Helen had not called ahead, but her car was obviously known because an older woman emerged onto the dimly lit lanai as they approaced. The woman waved and a Boxer-mix dog rushed past her to run up to the car. The mutt gave perfunctory barks in his direction when he exited, but mostly hovered around Helen and escorted her up the wooden steps to the white cottage.

 

Before they stepped into the light of the door lamp Helen and her mother were conversing in Chinese. Chin would have known if it was Mandarin or Danzhou he fleetingly thought. Mrs. Wong gave him a polite bow and invited them into the house.

 

Introductions were made inside a cozy living room filled with tropical cane or wicker furnishings accenting two stuffed, comfortably worn recliners facing the TV. Old, classic Oriental drawings hung on the walls and a woven rug with intricate Asian patterns draped the hardwood floor.

 

Mrs. Wong beamed with delight. “Helen told me she was working with you, Mister McGarrett. Her father will be so sorry he missed you. He follows the crime articles with rapt attention.” She gave her daughter a hug. “Helen and he love to talk about her profession. I think he always wanted to be a policeman instead of a restaurateur.”

 

It was then Steve remembered an office conversation with Danno – it seemed like ages ago but was only yesterday he thought – explaining the Wong dynasty of restaurant workers putting themselves through college from the family owned eatery.  Admirable family that had conquered a mother brought here in slavery.  He wanted to tread carefully here, not hurt these good people whom he instantly respected for their work ethic and morals, but he had a mission.  Whatever it took, he would have answers to help Danno’s plight.

 

“Danny isn’t with you tonight?” she asked a little too forcefully. “You keep promising to bring him by.”

 

This she asked her daughter in a manner that felt like it was a common matchmaking question. ‘What policeman did you bring home for the family to meet this week?’ type of interview. Linking such a request with Danno was amusing and under any other circumstances he would have been smiling. Tonight, his eyes burned with the painful regret that his friend’s abduction was the reason for the late-night visit.

 

In way of explanation, Mrs. Wong told him, “Danny loved coming to the restaurant to flirt with the girls.”

 

Helen blushed. “He loved the food,” she corrected too quickly.

 

“I have three daughters and all waited tables for the boys after baseball practice. The Mandarin was always full of kids having fun.” She smiled at the memories. “If you have time I’ll tell you about the night they won the championship and celebrated by balancing chop sticks –“

 

“Mother, I don’t think Mister McGarrett has time for that story,” she adroitly interrupted.

 

She dismissed the cut in with a knowing smile, then told him, “Henry, my husband, has his weekly poker game tonight.” She gestured to the cushioned sofa. “Won’t you join me for tea?”

 

“I’m sorry, no, Mrs. Wong. We are here on business.”

 

A bit perplexed, she did not seem completely surprised. “I thought something of the sort. What business could you have here?”

 

McGarrett looked at Helen and hoped she could read his silent message. He was giving her a chance to broach the subject with her mother. If the Lieutenant did not take the step immediately and boldly, Steve was taking over. The situation was too desperate to worry much about feelings or manners.

 

Taking a breath, Helen turned to her mother and started explaining something in Chinese. Without an interpreter, it was easy for McGarrett to read the body language. The elder Wong’s expression turned from polite to worried, then upset, to a cold, hard mask. The kind of closed expression he had been forced to train Williams to adopt as the youngest officer in Five-0. The demeanor of someone schooled in presenting an impenetrable barrier to the world.

 

Mrs. Wong shook her head and would not look at McGarrett again. She whipped out a scathing rebuke that was obvious in any language; her sharp tone, the cutting words, the hurt, shamed sorrow in her daughter’s eyes. Then Mrs. Wong turned and scurried away, but McGarrett dashed around to block her retreat into a hallway.

 

“Mrs. Wong, please listen. I know a little about your past. No details, but I know you have had dealings with Lo Foo Sing before.”

 

She released a small gasp of surprise-mingled terror. As if the name of the tong was enough to invoke evil spirits loose in the house. Shaking her head, she tried to circumvent him, but he remained an implacable wall of resolute determination.

 

“They are why we are here. This is not common knowledge yet, but Dan Williams has been abducted by Lo Foo Sing.”

 

Closing her eyes, she gasped and seemed to weaken, to pale. Shaking her head, she muttered in Chinese and Helen softly responded. Continuing to shake her head, McGarrett had the sense that his last chance was slipping away from him. Whatever horrors she had endured as a slave to a tong – and he did not even want to imagine those – he had to break through to her. Similar horrors, or worse, could be inflicted on his friend. A Five-0 cop in the hands of a tong – he tried not to think about it.

 

“The street informants have dried up, Mrs. Wong. They are afraid to talk. But anything you could tell us would help. Anything. Danno’s life is at stake here. You care about him. You want to see him alive again. So do I. Please help.”

 

Lips trembling, she stepped back until she bumped into her recliner. Heavily falling back, she would not look at him, but stared at the far wall. “No. I have lost contact – that is not part of my life. I know nothing –“

 

Steve crossed the room in an instant, kneeling beside her so there was no escape. “Your relatives still own the restaurant. You have friends there. You must talk to people, hear things!  Mrs. Wong, Danno’s life is in the balance!”

 

She turned to stare at him and he felt the next few moments might mean life or death for his friend. He could sway this woman to help with passionate entreaties, or push her so hard she closed down. For the sake of his friend he had to give her just the right nudges without shoving her over the edge.

 

“Your information,” he began with a gentle, but firm – desperate tone, “anything you can tell us – might save his life!  I know it’s a risk to you. I appreciate how hard this is. But wouldn’t it be worth it to save someone you care about?”

 

“You are right,” she barely whispered. “Immigrants from my region, we are still a community here. I know things without asking. I know Lo Foo Sing loyalists meet twice a week for Mahjong at the Golden Dragon.”

 

“No kidding,” Helen muttered in amazement, breaking the concentration.

 

Mrs. Wong was confused and McGarrett enraged.

 

“Why are you surprised?” the mother asked the daughter.

 

“Ted Ho meets there for those crazy meetings, too. And for the food, too. We argue about it every week, same thing. I ask how he could lower his standards to eat at such a second-rate place.”

 

Mrs. Wong’s tension faded away and she scoffed. Several bullet-speed Chinese phrases were flung out. Then she seemed to remember the haole in their midst and with a nod to McGarrett translated,  “Ted eats there? What happened to him? He is usually so discriminating.” To Steve, but making sure her daughter heard, she pointedly said, “I heard his family is from the Danzhou province, too.  He was always so nice. So is Danny,” she sadly decided. “Too bad my daughter won’t date detectives.”

 

The joke went over his head because he was thinking of Ho being from the same province as Mrs. Wong. As the smugglers. The chill along his skin was enough to confirm what his mind took a few moments to consider and believe. Ted Ho. Helen’s second. Knew everything that Helen knew, was at all the places Helen was. If he had suspected Helen, why hadn’t he thought of Ted?

 

One more thing, he thought he would try. It was another long shot, but he had such a surge of hope now that he believed he found the real leak. Maybe there was one more thing these two women – whom he trusted – could tell him.

 

Withdrawing the jade key chain from his pocket, he asked, “Can you tell me anything about this?”

 

As he looked at it more inspiration struck like a the crash of a twelve-foot wave.  The key ring reminded him of Chang and the dry cleaning – and the blue plaid suit! he triumphantly realized. Danno’s suit had been ruined months ago!  Well, another little piece of evidence to throw at Hanley. Finding Danno, though, was more important.

 

Mrs. Wong took it and sat at the dining room table where a chandelier cast stronger light. Asking Helen to fetch her glasses from the kitchen, the elder woman studied the item. With the aid of her glasses, she examined it. 

Muttering a few words in Chinese, she consulted Helen, who seemed to concur with the opinion. Both agreed that the Chinese writing was a transliterated sound that meant nothing in either Mandarin or the Danzhou dialect. The symbols when spoken, made the sound, “SAY”

 

Say. Say. The word played in his mind as he twisted and turned it, rolling it through his memory and thoughts. It was niggling something at the back of his brain – some kind of association. With what? China? Human cargo? Slaves? Smuggling? Jade – The memories from not so long ago when he had been faced with another crisis – betrayals from friends, Danno injured and barely hanging onto his life thanks to Shay . . . .

 

He gasped and both women stopped talking to observe him with worried stares. Lo Foo Sing. Tiger Patrol – Tiger Shipping – Sumatra Tigers – the smugglers from last year . . . .

 

It couldn’t be – but it had to be!  How had he missed the connection before? An old enemy who knew all about the smuggling and the depths of depravity, who would stop at nothing to gain lucre from human suffering, murder, vice. A man who knew him too well. Who would be happy to do something to Danno merely out of spite.

 

“Shay,” he trembled, feeling like the heat had drained away form his body. “Shay. Could it mean Shay?”

 

Helen and Mrs. Wong exchanged a glance and Helen gave a nod. “Sure. All it takes is an extra stroke. Transliteration. You know someone named Shay?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

Hardly able to contain himself, McGarrett stood, snatching Helen’s elbow, and made excuses to Mrs. Wong. Assuring her she had been an enormous help, he hurried out the door, not allowing Wong to dally. Once they were in her car, he sat in the dark and stared at her.

 

“Ted is our leak.”

 

Her laugh was nervous and incredulous. “Ted? No!”

 

“Yes,” he countered almost viciously. “Ted. He knows everything you know, Helen. And think about it!  He was there at HPD – saw Danno talking to Sol – there when the suspect was killed! It would have been easier for him to murder the guy than Danno.”

 

“What about this Shay guy?”

 

“Long story. I’ll fill you in later. The important thing is we nail Ted. He’s going to lead us to Shay and to Danno.”

 

 

*****

 

The rough sound of metal against metal alerted Dan to the approach of other humans. He eased his neck into an upward cant and squinted to see a large shadowy figure descending the ladder from the top of the hatch. The thought to attack the brute, who was twice the detective’s weight and at least nine inches taller, was relegated in short order to the bad idea list as Dan realized his muscles were not willing to cooperate.

 

With the delicacy and ceremony of a baggage handler at the airport, the thug roughly grabbed Williams and yanked him not onto his feet, but upward, and tossed him like a sack of potatoes over his shoulder. Dan’s diaphragm was compressed with painful suddenness and remained that way as he was literally manhandled up the ladder. His breathing in recent hours had become mysteriously labored – as if his lungs were shrinking, and the rough treatment was not helping his discomfort. Other flu-like symptoms seemed to be descending upon him as well.

 

Oblivious to the delicate nature of their cargo, two other men – both Asian and not quite as big as the monster who’d snatched him from the floor – pulled him upward and let him drop summarily onto the deck of the ship. Shivering violently, he coughed for a few seconds to clear his throat of whatever muck had been jostled from his lungs as a result of his ride topside.

 

He’d expected to be blinded by the tropical sun or perhaps to feel a cool evening breeze, but even through slightly blurred vision, he could tell the sea-going vessel was in an indoor wet-dock repair facility. It gave him a clue, within a couple square miles anyway, as to where he was being held.

 

Dan had realized hours earlier that his prison cell was the refrigerated cargo hold of a docked fishing trawler. The twenty-foot by fifteen-foot tank bore only a few remnants of a recent catch, but its floor was coated with a few inches of some of the vilest, dead-fishy ocean water the detective had ever had the misfortune to smell. There was no place to sit, or even stand, where one did not have to have some body part resting in the cool stench. The chill he’d begun to feel even before he’d been kidnapped from the beach house had intensified with the miserably cold accommodations into which he’d been locked.

 

It only took a few seconds before “the Brute” appeared from the hold and took Williams onto his shoulder again. The three thugs with their limp prisoner made their way off the boat, which was a little shy of a hundred feet long, and marched around the dock’s edge to the empty berth opposite Dan’s “prison.” It was there that the detective was plopped onto a bench at the water’s edge. As Williams slowly and ineffectively rubbed his arms trying to generate some warmth, the two smaller men squatted and clamped a rusting metal shackle on Dan’s ankle and latched the other end of the restraining device to an old boat anchor, weighing seventy five to one hundred pounds. With dejection, the detective realized that, in his current condition, he might as well have been secured to a brick building – there would be no escape as long as he was attached to the cumbersome weight.

 

“I have to admit that chop suey Chinese kung foo stuff is pretty impressive – took out an armed cop before he could make a peep!” The haole in the white linen suit chuckled and kicked the bench upon which the drained detective rested.

 

Williams, his pallor gray and his lips a shade of blue, managed a hate-filled glare at Pete Shay. “I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to find you here!” Despite the raspy-voiced epithet he’d just flung, Dan HAD been surprised when he first laid eyes on the familiar face at the beach house.

 

He’d moved as stealthily as he could, periodically holding his breath and listening for signs of human movement. When the echo of a coin dropping and rolling a few feet on the wood floor struck his ears, he turned down the corridor and headed toward the partially closed door at the end of the long hallway. As he floated gently toward the sound, he wondered whether it had been prudent of him and Steve to separate. He peered through the crack to see nobody behind the door, so he pushed the door open with his foot. On the floor by the foot of the large bed was a young Asian man of perhaps twenty. The terror on his face as he huddled on the floor gave Williams the panicked sense that he’d just walked into a trap. For the briefest of moments, Dan could see his own reflection in the large wall mirror across the room, and behind his image, was that of a large Asian man and a sneering Caucasian figure. There was no time to react or consider further as an unexpected pain enveloped the back of his neck at the base of his skull.

 

 He awakened in the thick, cold blackness of the hold, devoid of his suit jacket, his socks, shoes, belt, wallet, and both of his guns. Clearly, an in-depth search of his person and belongings had happened during his unconsciousness. That marginally-humiliating thought was quickly displaced by the comprehension that he was Pete Shay’s prisoner. After several minutes of feeling the walls and assessing his own physical condition, Dan knew he was in deep pilikia. As for why Shay had kidnapped him instead of just shooting him (AGAIN), even a bad theory wouldn’t gel in his spinning head. As the Five-0 detective, chilled and depleted, finally leaned his back on the cold metal wall and slid to the watery floor, he sensed that whatever malady was affecting him was truly the least of his problems. He drifted off into a fitful sleep of fear… for himself and for what had become of Steve as well.

 

He had no idea about many hours he’d been there before he’d been “rescued” by the goons who’d brought him out of the reeking hold. In no mood and not feeling clear headed enough to play games, Dan, still shivering, hoarsely stammered the question uppermost in his mind.

 

“St… Steve?”

 

“I wouldn’t worry about him -- Danny boy – you’ve got your own problems right now!”

 

“Wh- why, Shay…. Why grab me in- instead of k- killing m- me?”

 

“Originally, I only needed you alive as a contingency – just in case I needed to… what’s the term... acquire, shall we say, more evidence from you.”

 

Dan managed to cant his head up to see his captor’s face. “Evi-- dence… of what?”

 

Shay grinned and sighed dramatically. “It was supposed to be a surprise, but I promise I wasn’t gonna kill you before you knew.”

 

“Knew wh- what?” Annoyance colored Dan’s raspy, trembling voice as he slowly ran his hands over his arms.

 

Satisfaction oozed from the criminal’s expression. The former spy had aged in the months since their encounter last December. His hair was now predominantly grey and thinned. Lines were deeper, accentuating the narrowed, cruel expression that seemed a constant on the weathered face. “That Steve knows about you – about how you’ve been taking payoffs in exchange for information and to lead investigations astray!”

 

Like molten lava bubbling towards the surface and then finally erupting explosively onto the earth’s surface, through the haze of hypothermia, illness, and exhaustion, Williams’ anger built as he realized that Shay had somehow managed to set him up as the leak. Dan tried to lunge for the legs of the man standing only a few feet from him, but, while he did manage to move the anchor a foot, it kept him from reaching his target. His chain tether stopped him painfully and he dropped to the dock with a thud.

 

Pete laughed. “Yes, it’s true – I’d say at this point, you’re probably better off dead – I’ll be doing you a favor!”

 

Dan came to his knees sluggishly as he retorted, “Steve ww--would NEVER believe that!”

 

“Ya know, Danny, it doesn’t really matter at this point what Steve believes – it’s out of his hands and into the very capable hands of the Feds! End of game! Five-0 loses… STEVE loses! AND his right-hand man is on his knees before me preparing to tell me what I want to know in exchange for a painless death!”

 

“I won’t tt-tell you ANYTHING!” Dan’s angry words trailed into and mixed with a cough.

 

Shay suddenly backhanded the detective who fell sideways to dock. “I control your fate now, Williams!”

 

Unable to rise, Dan, disregarding the blood streaming from his nose, smiled and whispered, “You may control my… fate, Shay, but I am the cap… tain of my… soul!”

 

The criminal was apoplexic with rage as he delivered a swift kick in the ribs to the prone, but defiant detective. “NO, Williams – I’ve got your soul as well!”

 

Dan gasped in agony and squeezed his eyes shut as he brought the knee of his unchained leg up to his chest. His wrath not yet spent, Shay lashed out again with his foot, this time impacting with the detective’s head, which snapped backward abruptly. Panting for a few seconds as he studied the immobile form, the former NI operative took a cautious step closer and finally nudged Williams with his foot. When the detective didn’t move, he whispered a curse under his breath and then sighed. “I guess I’ll have to wait a little longer to find out about my key chain, but it was worth it.”

 

 

*****

 

 

Shay barked an instruction to return the prisoner to the hold, and watched as the dead-limp Williams was born back to the old trawler and taken below. Rubbing the back of his neck, he chastised himself for letting the detective get to him. He used to be able to control a situation better than that. But there was something about the Five-0 detective’s stubborn refusal to buckle – even at the cost of his own life – which rankled him.

 

He’d known from his brush with Williams the previous December that the cop had a naďve moral superiority he found disdainful, but he’d been able to use it against him in his attempt to gain a foothold in Five-0. What he hadn’t counted on was Steve’s trust in his officer and the depth of their friendship. The pair had ruined a beautiful smuggling operation, which would have set him up for life. He thought he’d at least exacted revenge against McGarrett by murdering Williams, but the detective had miraculously pulled through. On this trip though, he was determined to finish the job that he’d started, and go one step farther by bringing down the entire Five-0 unit along with the high-and-mighty Steve McGarrett.

 

Shay smirked as he considered his good fortune. This new operation turned out to be the perfect vehicle on more than one front.

 

Wing Ho Lee, the head of the brutal Lo Foo Sing tong in the Hainan Province of China, had contacted Pete not long after his ignominious public departure from the realm of upstanding, law-abiding citizens. Shay had come highly recommended by a former customer in Hong Kong as a reliable source of knowledge on Military Intelligence and law enforcement procedures. Lee was seeking just such an expert to step in and do whatever needed to be done to increase the success rate of illegal shipments through Hawaii. In recent years, nearly half of his contraband had been seized by authorities before they could make their way to their final destinations. Uncertain what could be done to alleviate his losses, which were becoming more substantial each month despite the number of heads that rolled (literally!) with each failed shipment, the leader of the Tong was shrewd enough to know that he needed a consultant – a specialist in Hawaiian law enforcement. Pete Shay’s credentials spoke for themselves, and after a brief interview with Lee, Shay was retained to clear road blocks however he saw fit. That Shay was deriving a deeply personal satisfaction at the prospect of settling the score between him and his former-friend-turned-arch-enemy was a perk of the highly lucrative job.

 

“For once, business and pleasure mix!” Shay muttered as he left the smelly boat garage, knowing he had to check on a couple more leads on his key chain. It was possible – VERY UNLIKELY, but possible – that Williams knew nothing of the all-important bauble. Using his many years of spy experience, Pete had disguised the imprint to his Bank of Singapore safety deposit box as an unremarkable personal effect. Anyone who happened upon it would think as much of the accompanying lint if he were forced to empty his pockets.

 

The safety deposit box was where he kept his “retirement fund” (in large denomination U.S. dollars and marketable precious gemstones). Also, in the box, Shay had placed several pieces of documentation proving Wing Ho Lee’s close personal involvement in numerous illegal activities not only abroad, but within Chinese borders. If Peking authorities were aware that the Lo Foo Sing also smuggled contraband INTO the communist nation, Lee and his lieutenants could well be tried and sentenced to death. So Pete considered the information an insurance policy against any second thoughts the Chinese tong might have about paying his hefty fee once the job was done. But now that the key chain (ergo the key) to the information had been stolen by that mistrustful little worm,  the late Bao Yang, the wretchedly faithful watchdog whom Lee had sent to “assist” Shay in his communications with local Lo Foo Sing members, the risk existed that Pete’s “boss” would be made aware of the insurance policy.

 

Unlike standard protocol in U.S. banks, if one were to present one’s self at a bank in Singapore and request access to a safety deposit box without a key, access would – by law – be denied without a police presence. Shay had thought – until this unfortunate circumstance arose – that this would work in his favor. No matter, he decided. If all went as planned in the next twelve hours, his final operation could be considered successful on all fronts. He and his key chain would blow these islands to collect payment from the Lo Foo Sing, leaving a no-doubt shattered Steve McGarrett to ponder the treachery of his second-in-command and the downfall of Hawaii Five-0.

 

 

*****

 

 

“I don’t like it.”

 

The statement was as tough and sharp as nails. What McGarrett came to expect from Lieutenant Wong at her most professional. It did not faze him in the least. He wrote the book on tough around here and in these circumstances there was no room for compromise.

 

With each passing moment he dropped deeper into his foreboding sense of dread about Dan Williams’ fate. The disappearance, then the frame, had clued him into a dire plot that bode no good for his officer. Now that he knew Shay was involved he was chilled with fear. Pete Shay had no love of McGarrett and proved months ago he had no conscience. He had nearly succeeded in killing Danno then.{fanfic – THE CHRISTMAS OF SECOND CHANCES}  Had he carried out his evil plot this time?

 

Anguish told him there was no reason to keep Danno alive. Why had he been snatched in the first place? To get back at Steve? That was part of it certainly. Pete hated him for ruining the complex and lucrative smuggling operation Five-0 had busted last December. Pete – Steve’s former NI partner – had turned sour, using his contacts in the Far East to smuggle all sorts of goods including rare gems.

 

“It’s the middle of the night –“

 

“And time is running out for Danno!” he shouted, well aware it was almost midnight. “Ho will come in here because you order him to!  The case is breaking open and you need him!”

 

“I can’t do this to Ted,” Wong argued.

 

Steve closed the door to his office and walked around the irate officer. She was stinging from the possibility of betrayal by her friend and colleague. She would have to stand in line because Steve had experienced it months ago from Pete. It had been such a hard realization, but he had accepted it. Easily, actually, because it had been Danno who had discovered it and paid the price, nearly with his life.

 

There had been no question of loyalties then – Pete or Danno. Shay had saved Steve’s life once, but was a stranger now and Steve wondered if he had ever really known him at all. Danno – well – Danno was the finest friend he had ever known and had staked his life on that trust. Without a shred of doubt he knew Danno would do the same.

 

What scared him was if Pete had snatched Danno for revenge, or for some other purpose. If it was revenge then Danno was already dead. If for another reason – but what? Shay was looking for something obviously. Something he thought Bao Yang, Wong, Danno, Five-0 possessed -- and he wanted it back.

 

He slipped his hand into his pocket and thanked his solid instincts on keeping this incriminating piece of evidence. This key ring had to be what Shay wanted. He had searched high and low for it and not found it because McGarrett had it.

 

Stopping next to his desk, he picked up the receiver of the phone and felt the twinge of pain from his arm muscle where the ninja star had sliced into him. Fatigued, drained from the tension and worry, he kept pushing. Soon he would run Shay to ground and find Danno and then he could rest. There was only one obstacle in his way.

 

“Call Ho and get him over here,” he ordered Wong and held out the phone to her.

 

She hesitated.

 

“I don’t want him on his guard, I want him thinking this is just a meet about the case!” he barked harshly. He wasn’t going to plead. She was an officer. She was Danno’s friend. There would be no comparison between the lives at stake. One a traitor, one a loyal comrade. Just like last year. No question who was the more valuable and who McGarrett was going to get back.

 

Helen took the phone and hung it up. “Steve, I’ve known Ted for a long time. He’s never done anything questionable. Let’s just lay this out for him and –“

 

“We need information from him!” he reminded, his tone harsh and grating. He was losing patience with her and was constantly aware of the pressing time factor. Every minute lost was a possibility that Danno was not coming back to him. “He’s guilty, damnit!  Who had access to the cell? Who has been with this operation from the beginning? Who plays Mahjong every week with Lo Foo Sing people?”

 

“Give him a chance –“

 

“To come up with some phony alibis? To waste time? With Danno’s chances of coming out alive fading by the minute? No way!  Danno is paying the price right now and we stop it as soon as we can!  We work this like a trap, Helen. We lure him in and grab him and show him he has no way out. Then he leads us to Danno.” Snatching up the phone again, he handed it to her. “Call him.”

 

 

*****

 

 

When the knock came at the door, McGarrett cast a glance to Helen, who was seated in one of the white chairs in front of the desk. Her mask of cool reserve was firmly in place. Tough, he reminded. She was tough and taking this well considering. He had demanded that her close friend was a double agent and had been a party to framing her old friend. Situations he had faced himself between Pete and Danno and his loyalty to Williams had never wavered. Danno could not be guilty. He would never believe it of his closest friend and continued to disavow it now to the FBI. So he had sympathy for her, but not much. There was room for very little emotion now except desperation and fear. Desperation to get Danno back and fear that he might fail.

 

Ted Ho entered the room and as always gave a slight nod of the head in deference to McGarrett. The man was polite, respectful of authority and tough to think of as a traitor. Steve’s mind flashed back to Pete; the comments covering his opinion of Shay not so long ago.

 

“What did you want to see me about?” Ted looked first to McGarrett, then to Wong, and she did not crack in her icy expression.

 

“I understand you frequent a place called the Golden Dragon, Ted.” He didn’t invite the detective to sit. The defensive position was a subtlety to not let the guilty party feel too comfortable. “Meet friends there, do you?”

 

Ho tried a weak smile, completely taken off guard. “Yes.” He glanced at Helen, whose frosty demeanor had not melted. “Why?”

 

“Because your friends are members of Lo Foo Sing, and they are in league with a murderer and smuggler name Pete Shay!”

 

Ted flinched and it was as good as a confession. Feeling the heat at the back of his neck, Steve stalked the short distance between them and attacked. This man was the figurative key that he had in his possession. Seemingly everything he needed to crack this. What he didn’t have was Danno and that was the prize he needed, in counterpoint to the key ring – Pete’s prize which he wanted back. If only there could be a trade, but he was afraid that was far too simple for Shay. Knowing his old NI buddy, Shay had safeguarded his hostage so there was little chance of Steve finding him.

 

The key ring clutched in his hand snapped up in front of Ted’s face and the jade tiger dangled like a lure before his eyes. “Shay has been going to great lengths to get this back. I want to know why and I want to know his location and where he is holding Dan Williams!”

 

Ho slightly shook his head, his face wavering with tightly controlled emotion.

 

“You’ve betrayed your oath to the uniform, Ted,” Steve relentlessly pressed on. “I don’t really care why. I just want you to make it right.” The cracks were there, he appreciatively noted. “Tell me where Shay is holding Danno.”

 

Sorrowfully, Ted looked at Helen. “I’m so sorry.”

 

She jumped to her feet. “Why? I defended you!  I trusted you!”

 

Laughing a bit nervously, his eyes filled with tears. “The usual reasons. Relatives back home Then it was the money. I am sorry, Helen. You’ve been good to me and I betrayed our trust.”

 

Words Steve longed to hear – had hoped to hear from Shay in December. Instead, Pete had tried to kill Danno and had come back for revenge.

 

To McGarrett, Ho confessed, “Yes, I’ve been feeding Shay information. Little things about the HPD operation. He needed it to free up his assets. Five-0 was pressuring him. He couldn’t move his goods.”

 

“And you killed for him?”

 

“I had no choice,” he pleaded. 

 

McGarrett got him back on track. “Where is Williams?” Ho hesitated, morose regret palpable. “If you’re not talking because you’re afraid the Lo Foo Sing are going to hurt you, then you’re afraid of the wrong thing right now!”

 

Fear replaced the regret momentarily. “I don’t know. Really. I just know Shay wanted Five-0 out of the way.”

 

Well, as usual, Pete manipulated things to his liking. Snatching Danno and building that frame had distracted HPD and the Feds. Thankfully, Steve believed in Danno and had never swayed from his trust of his friend.

 

“You have to know more,” McGarrett insisted. Ho was their only link. He HAD TO know more!  “Think!” he demanded. So upset, he grabbed Ho by the collar. “You have to know something!”

 

“I don’t!” he promised.

 

McGarrett released him and paced back to stride a path behind his desk. No, Ted had to have something else!  It could not be this frustrating. The leak was here in his office and Ho had to lead him to Shay and Danno!

 

“Where did you meet Shay?”

 

“At the Golden Dragon, but only once. The first time we met at the docks. Then at the restaurant, and that was it.”

 

McGarrett glared at him. “The docks?”

 

“The large boat facility out on Sand Island.” Ho was crying silently, tears dripping down his face. “I am shamed. I would not lie to you now.”

 

Helen’s icy façade crumbled and her anger and hurt were plain on her face as she stood next to him. “A lot of good that does now, Ted. I  can’t believe you did this!  Murder!  Framing Danny!  Betraying all we believed in!  How could you?”

 

He silently shook his head.

 

She held out her hand. “Surrender your weapon, Sergeant,” she ordered crisply, but the professionalism was marred by her shaking voice and the tremble of her lips.

 

Ho pulled his .38 from his belt holster and before the weapon reached her outstretched hand, he whipped it up to his temple and fired. Helen screamed and fell back on the chair. Gasping, Steve stared in horror at the bloodied, fallen officer; at Helen, whose blue jacket was splattered crimson. Breathing deeply, McGarrett couldn’t move, still taking in the horror of the act.

 

The door burst open and Duke stood there, weapon in hand, aiming into the room. He raised it instantly when he took in the situation. Lukela had been in his own office listening to everything on the open speaker at McGarrett’s desk,  waiting to take Ho into custody. The surprise on the Hawaiian’s face was momentary. It was quickly replaced with grim acceptance, even understanding. Honorable to the core, Lukela could never understand betrayal, but he could appreciate the need to gain back a measure of integrity, even in death.

 

Lukela crouched down and felt along the neck. “I’ll get the lab team up here,” he commented quietly. Stepping around the body, he came over and put an arm around Helen. “Let’s get out of here. You can make a statement in my office.” He stared at McGarrett. “We heard everything, Steve.”

 

McGarrett was still staring at the body, too many thoughts about principle and betrayal and death flowing through his mind. Anger at Ho, desperation that they might yet find another body before this case was over still pressing in his heart.

 

“Are you okay?” Duke wondered, giving Helen a little push toward the open door and stepping over to McGarrett.

 

“Yeah, Duke, I’m okay. I – uh – didn’t want this.”

 

“I know. It wasn’t your fault, Steve.”

 

“I pushed him hard –“

 

“He was guilty.”

 

“Yeah,” he sighed, “but I never like it to end like this.”

 

“Steve, there’s something you need to know,” Duke told him hesitantly.

 

A voice from the door announced, “I think he means to warn you that I’m here,” Dale Hanley said from just inside the office. “I heard part of what happened .”

 

Pushing the tragedy of Ho away was a flash of shining hope. The FBI had heard the confession!  Danno was cleared. Before he could revel in that, he stopped the comment, guarded at Hanley’s grim expression.

 

“It won’t change anything until we have proof.” He held up some papers in his hand. “Warrants to indict in absentia –”

 

“I don’t want to hear it!” McGarrett told him, and turned to Duke. “Ted said he met Shay at a large boat repair facility.”

 

“Yeah. Sand Island. I know exactly where he means. I can give you details for a raid.”

 

McGarrett rounded the desk and avoided stepping too near the corpse. “Let’s go.”

 

Hanley stood in his way. “If this guy Shay is behind the smuggling and frame, and if Williams is there as you think, then we are coming too.”

 

“Just don’t get in my way.” To cover all bases, he glared at the agent and imparted an important bit of information he had remembered at one point during the day and had not had time to relay.  “By the way, that airport photo of Danno – it’s an old shot taken months ago. I don’t know how or when or what circumstances brought it to you, but it’s meaningless. That unforgettable blue suit he’s wearing was ruined on a case quite a while back. The whole office can verify that along with his favorite dry cleaner. A nice old guy named Chang who would be happy to clear things up.” Not bothering to wait for the triumphant surrender of embarrassment from the Fed, McGarrett spun and briskly left.

 

Instead of anger at the insulting, victorious comment, Hanley shook his head and surrendered a slight smile to Duke. “So, is he ever wrong?”

 

“Not that I’d ever admit.”

 

“Quite the loyal crew,” the Fed surrendered.

 

Hanley followed as Lukela and McGarrett trotted through the dark office. Having lost all track of time, McGarrett knew it was well past midnight. Placing men in position to storm the boat dock would be easier at night. He would order SWAT to be deployed and maybe let the FBI in on the operation, not sure if he could keep Hanley out of this. That didn’t matter – whatever it took to get Danno out.

 

 

*****

 

“I’ve positioned sharpshooters here… here… and here,” Duke pointed to locations on a schematic of the Sand Island ship yard, where Ho indicated he’d met Shay. The more McGarrett learned about one building in particular, the more right it felt. The company which owned the boat maintenance building also owned a string of restaurants all over the Islands. The Golden Dragon, where Helen Wong’s mother indicated the Lo Foo Sing met, was among them.

 

Despite the smallness of the hour, McGarrett had rousted a judge from his bed to issue a search warrant while Duke pulled together a formidable team of hand-picked HPD personnel. After a round of argument with Hanley, the FBI agent managed to make the head of Five-0 see the wisdom of including his best men, together with an impressive team of divers who would approach from underwater through the boat bay entrance, and await a signal to move in. With atypical cooperation, the team had been able to approach the subject facility through a closed back road and be in place before dawn.

 

Now, McGarrett and Lukela stood, with Hanley and his assistant, in the warehouse which abutted the boat yard property.

 

“As far as we can tell, there’s nothing going on inside the maintenance building at the moment – is that right?” McGarrett frowned as he studied the plans for the neighboring building.

 

Duke once again laid indicated reference points on the diagram as he spoke. “Dale’s got a spotter who made it into the building through an unlocked door in the back. He say’s there are two suspects – armed with small caliber hand guns – who seem to be patrolling the area around the indoor dock. And there’s a fishing boat – ninety… maybe a hundred feet long moored there – looks like some engine work is being done.”

 

“No sign of Shay or Danno?”

 

With a curt shake of his head, the Hawaiian detective added. “No, BUT the spotter says there’s somebody on the deck of the trawler – Oriental guy – real big.”

 

“Big enough to match the footprints at the beach house?” McGarrett looked up from the paper to meet Duke’s dark eyes.

 

“Yeah – that big.”

 

“That’s him,” the head of Five-0 growled. “The one who grabbed Danno.” He could feel it.

 

Dale jumped in. “So, we sneak in through the un-locked door and strategically position ourselves behind the crates, which are along this wall.” The agent ran his hand along the diagram. “This will give us a perfect view of the maintenance dock and the boat. Then we wait—”

 

“Wait? Wait for what?” Steve’s eyes narrowed. “If Danno’s in that building—”

 

“What if he’s NOT? Or what if he is, but by waiting for a few minutes, we catch some key information which will blow apart this ring?”

 

“As soon as I know where Danno is, we’re moving! He could be hurt!” McGarrett spat.

 

“Be reasonable, Steve! I agree – if Dan’s hurt – we move, but don’t you think he’d want us to hold off for just a SHORT while if it meant taking out the ring leaders of this group?”

 

“No promises, Dale!” The head of Five-0 insisted.

 

All four men jumped slightly as the clandestine radio receivers in each of their ears came to life. “Hotel Ten checking in – a white four-door Chevy just pulled up Haole gettin’ out… six feet… brown hair… tan suit. He’s alone… goin’ into the building.

 

“Shay?” Hanley questioned.

 

McGarrett nodded distractedly as he pulled the small walkie talkie from his pocket, but before he could interrogate the officer who’d checked in with the information, another officer’s voice came reported.

 

Lima Two reporting…

 

“Our spotter,” Hanley’s assistant breathed as the voice on the radio continued.

 

“White male has just blown in through the front door… He’s just said…

 

There was a short delay, causing the head of Five-0 to grind his teeth and grimace. Finally, Lima Two came back.

 

“Okay… he’s shouting…to the guy on the boat deck, I think… Bring him up!

 

“Let’s go!” McGarrett was already jogging towards the door as he re-pocketed the radio. Duke and Dale exchanged cautionary glances as they moved to catch up with the focused Five-0 detective.

 

 

*****

 

The stealthy sojourn from the back door of the large building to the crates from which one could take in the scene on the indoor dock was painfully slow for McGarrett. It took almost five minutes to make it to the hidden vantage point, and all the while, the detectives could hear noises ; a loud clank… metal scraping against metal… the occasional voice in no language he understood. At one point, while the two Five-0 men and Hanley were still unable to raise their heads to take in the view, the spotter’s voice quietly announced, “The big guy is lugging somebody – Williams, I think… Yeah, it’s definitely him… he’s bringing him around to this side of the dock….

 

The head of Five-0 listened to the “blow-by-blow” as they moved into position. By the time McGarrett was in position to see what was going on for himself, the spotter had reported that Dan had been brought to the bench and shackled to something.

 

Filled with relief that his friend was not dead and anticipation that this nightmare would soon be over, he still burned to get his own visual confirmation of the fact. In tandem with Duke and Dale, he brought his head upward and peered across the empty space in the direction of the dock and the trawler tied on the other side. His eyes locked immediately on his friend, who sat on the floor leaning against the bench. To not give his team away, he was forced to remain in hiding behind the wooden crates some fifty feet away. Still it was close enough to take in Williams’ gaunt face and pain-filled movements. His detective was bare foot and slowly rubbing his hands on his arms. His once white, button down shirt was gray, possibly damp, and no longer buttoned. The only obvious injury was a black eye. As he battled the urge to race forward, he gingerly unsnapped his holster in preparation to move.

 

Pete Shay stood twenty feet away, his back to Williams, issuing instructions to the two smaller thugs. They nodded and, to McGarrett’s delight, they left the building – apparently, Shay was not expecting company. When the tall, muscular man turned and strolled towards his prisoner, Steve felt a twinge of pain as he saw the face of the man whom he had called friend as recently as the previous Christmas. Absent a history with the former NI spy, Danno had seen through the man quickly, but had been unable (to McGarrett’s great remorse) to convince him of Shay’s criminal involvement. Anger subsumed the pain in short order as Pete focused on Williams.

 

“How’s it goin’, Captain? Still feeling feisty?” Shay’s expression was one of amusement as he slowed to stand before the prisoner, who responded lethargically with only a tired, but simmering glare as he took in another pained breath.

 

Pete looked downward at Williams and stuffed his hands into his pants pockets. “Ya know, when I told them to put you on ice, I didn’t mean for them to turn on the refrigeration unit in the hold -- These guys are cards!” Shay gave an exaggerated laugh and shook his head. “And I have to say, Dan – you Hawaiian boys are real marshmallows when it comes to cold temperatures – you look like you’ve just spent the night on an ice pack in the Artic!”

 

McGarrett did not think he was capable of greater rage than he already felt towards his former trusted NI comrade, but as he took on his friend’s damaged condition, more anger percolated from his soul and seemed to crawl across his skin like fire ants. It was clear that Danno had suffered greatly at the hands of his cruel captors. With a few deep breaths, Steve willed himself to focus on Shay, whose attention centered on Williams.

 

“But down to business – you have something that belongs to me!”

 

For the first time since the law enforcement personnel had been in place, the prisoner spoke / wheezed loudly. “If— it’s your— integrity—”

 

“HA!” Shay interrupted harshly and delivered a brisk slap with the back of his hand to his captive’s face. “Oh, no, cop – you’re NOT gonna push my buttons today!”

 

McGarrett felt his legs moving to stand almost involuntarily, but firm hands on both of his arms – one of Lukela’s on one side and one of Hanley’s on the other. With a lightning fast annoyed glance fired in the direction of each restrainer, he re-crouched and forced himself to center on the good news. Danno was alive and not injured (yet) enough for him to keep his mouth shut. Of course, the head of Five-0 realized that this was also the bad news. His second-in-command had never quite gotten the hang of quiet indignation – even in the interest of self-preservation. Conflicting emotions raged inside him. Fear… Relief… Frustration… Anger… Affection… It was hard to reconcile consciously, and so McGarrett ground his teeth to bring forth the discipline to focus on the task at hand – namely to rescue his friend from the clutches of a friend-turned-fiend.

 

The voice of the former NI operative echoed across the room. “I’m looking for nothing so lofty – like a morally intact fool such as you or STEVE might be seeking. I merely want to recover something which was stolen from me.”

 

Dan, still reeling from the blow moments earlier, slowly licked the trickle of blood from his lower lip and offered a shaky smile. “A key chain…”

 

Shay’s nonchalant demeanor suddenly turned all business. “Yes, my key chain. Where is it?”

 

McGarrett tensed, fearing his second would respond with another inflammatory retort. Easy, Danno…

 

“Why… why do you want it?”

 

“That’s NONE of your business! Now where is it?”

 

“I have it,” Williams coughed again.

 

Skepticism colored Shay’s question. “Now, WHY would you hang onto that cheap piece of junk instead of checking it in as part of Yang’s personal effects?”

 

“You… killed… for it … must be important.” Dan smiled again.

 

The man looming over the detective grabbed Dan’s arm. “Where is it? Tell me now, Williams, or so help me…”

 

Having worked with Shay for numerous years, McGarrett had come to recognize the former spy’s moods and could see that the man was nearing a flash point. Whether Hanley was ready or not, Steve tightened the muscles in his legs in preparation to spring out of his hiding spot and prevent further damage to his second-in-command.

 

“You—you’ll KILL me?” Williams released a single tired laugh. “I’d rather die than help you!”

 

Shay suddenly drew a small hand gun from his jacket as he exploded with an animal-like shout and yanked the detective to his feet. McGarrett had seen enough, and Duke, agreeing, grabbed Hanley’s arm instead of his boss’s as the head of Five-0 sprang from his hiding spot.

 

“Is that a go?” The radio receiver in the FBI leader’s ear crackled the question from a confused officer.

 

Hanley grimaced and snapped quietly as he followed McGarrett. “Yeah! Go – everybody!”

 

“Okay, Pete! The game’s up!” The Five-0 chief shouted as he trotted forward, his weapon pulled and ready to fire.

 

Confused for only a second, Shay panned the room and let his gun track with his eyes to see the plethora of armed men revealing themselves. He quickly twisted his gasping, in-pain prisoner and clutched Dan in front of him.

 

“NOOO! How could you know?” Shay’s eyes darted wildly as he tried to divine the trail of evidence, which he thought to be non-existent – but clearly was not since SOMETHING had led McGarrett to him. With his arm wrapped tightly around Williams’ neck, the desperate crook quickly turned his focus on his current predicament and self-preservation. “No matter now, Steve – you know I’ll put a bullet right through his head!”

 

“Look around you, Pete! You’re not leaving here! Now DROP the weapon!” McGarrett leveled viciously as he took a step closer to the man and the unwell prisoner he held propped in front of him.

 

Shay’s eyes narrowed slightly and he tightened his grip on the Five-0 detective’s neck. “Maybe I won’t leave, Steve, but  I can repay you for your trouble!” With a maniacal grin, he cocked his gun and pressed it roughly under Williams’ chin.

 

Sensing his former colleague’s fatalistic state of mind, McGarrett swallowed and held up his hand. “This is it, Pete – if I’m standing when you check out, then YOU LOSE! It’s ME you want! Trade – me for Danno… You can’t kill us both – they’ll burn you the second you pull that trigger,” McGarrett reasoned with an almost sinister poker smile. “You lose, Pete.”

 

As the meaning of the words sank into the muzzy-headed prisoner, he looked in his boss’s direction and desperately pleaded, “Nooo, Steve…n…no.”

 

Both Shay and McGarrett ignored the strained whisper, and Shay leaned his head against the side of Dan’s and grinned. “Your boy means that much to ya, does he?”

 

Desperate to do something, Williams’ gaze dropped to the area around his shackled foot searching for something he could use given his limited mobility and strength. His ears rang as he spied through a dark tunnel the anchor to which he was attached. He’d learned he could move it, and it struck him with the clarity of a brass wind chime that he didn’t have to move it far at all in order to keep Steve from sacrificing himself! A half foot and gravity would do the job… All Dan had to do was hang on to the devil who had him by the neck. His path now clear, Williams slid his un-tethered foot under one of the two-foot-long prongs of the galvanized steel claw. He desperately wanted to take a deep breath before he acted, but knew that it would be rejected – probably violently – by his lungs, so he made do with a half breath.

 

Moving as quickly as he could, he simultaneously clutched Shay’s arm with both of his own, lifted the anchor off the dock with his foot and half-pushed / half-tossed it into the water. Without the force of the weight to back him, Williams would not have been strong enough to move the healthy, well-rested Shay, but the anchor did its job. There was no time for anyone – including the shocked criminal – to do anything as the two men were dragged into the water and quickly pulled into the murky green depth.

 

“Danno!” McGarrett screamed as he raced for the dock’s edge and dove headfirst into the oil-laced water before anyone else could reach him.

 

Ignoring the sting to his eyes, he scanned the area beneath him as he propelled his body downward with everything he had. The cloudy scene fifteen feet below him came into view, and he saw Shay struggling violently to rid himself of his human anchor. The weak detective, who had reached the floor of the underwater garage some twenty five feet below the air, relinquished his hold with one final twist from Pete. Shay swam away – not upward – but laterally, probably knowing the likelihood of escape was increased if he did not surface directly into the arms of the law enforcement personnel on the surface.

 

Steve did not care that Shay’s form was vanishing into the bubble-filled fog. His focus was on Danno, now chained to the anchor which rested on the flooring beneath his leg. Adrenalin pushed his heart to pound as he kicked downward. Hold on, Danno! Hold on! His ear drums pressed painfully inward from the pressure, and his wounded arm burned, but he only dug harder at the water, defying anything to stop him from reaching his friend.

 

McGarrett wanted nothing more than to see Dan struggling to free himself – a sign that his battle with Shay had not depleted him beyond the point of redemption – but the only movement from the detective seemed to be a result of the water lifting and cradling him. Interminable seconds later, the head of Five-0 reached Williams, whose closed eyes opened with Steve’s intense grab of his arm. Their gazes locked for a second and, on a level he did not consciously acknowledge, it disturbed Steve that his friend did not seem to share the lead detective’s dread. He could only assume that Dan was weak and close to permanent unconsciousness as he moved to the anchor and first tried unsuccessfully to lift it, unable to do so because of the diminished strength in his arm. Then he began to feel along the chain for a way to free the detective. His own lungs began to burn, and he hoped that the experienced swimmer and surfer in Williams remained aware that breathing was not an option at the moment.

 

Yanking against the chain as violently as the water would allow, he was horror-stricken that his efforts were proving futile. He ignored his body’s growing need for air and moved back to Dan’s arms, hoping unreasonably against hope that he could just pull his friend upward.

 

To his surprise, Williams suddenly fought back and pushed him away. He looked into his friend’s eyes to try to divine the reason for the insane move, and found that Dan was shaking his head even as he continued to fend off McGarrett’s grasp. In that instant, Steve -- even as his brain was becoming oxygen deprived – realized that his loyal-to-the-death friend was bidding him to save himself – to leave him and be absolved of guilt from the act.

 

No! I won’t leave! The head of Five-0 wanted to shout at his second-in-command. Don’t give up, Danno!

 

Suddenly, two huge, eel-like, black monsters came at McGarrett from either side, and began dragging him upward – away from his friend! NO! NO! He kicked and thrashed and looked down to see more dark creatures blocking his view of Williams. Just as his head broke the surface of the water, hands seemed to come from everywhere, clutching… dragging him onto the dock. He found himself choking and gasping and trying to shout all at the same time. “Danno… No… let me…”

 

“Steve! Let the divers get Danny – you can’t help him!” It was Duke’s voice, and the meaning slowly sank in as his lungs re-oxygenated his blood. He looked up into the faces of Duke and Dale. Once eye contact was established, the Hawaiian detective, still poised to physically restrain his boss if necessary, reiterated, “Let the divers help Danny!”

 

“Pupule…” Steve slowly looked away and muttered almost tearfully. “Danno…”

 

Running his hand backward over his dripping hair, his focus turned to the swirl of water four feet from the dock where he now rested. He struggled, and, with the help of Lukela and Hanley, managed to come to his feet. A thin, olive-drab, wool blanket landed on his back, but he did not think to take his eyes off the water to express gratitude to whomever had dropped it there.

 

At last, his impatience was rewarded as four shiny black heads appeared from beneath the water. The divers, all in black wet suits, were clumped together and making their way towards their colleagues on the dock. Between the two men in the back, Dan’s head and shoulders were visible. His eyes were closed and he looked frighteningly dead to McGarrett.

 

“Danno!” He croaked as the officers around him leaned out to help the two divers in front as they brought the anchor upward toward the wood surface.

 

Hanley and two SWAT officers each managed to get a grip on some part of the weight as it struck the air. McGarrett shook off the blanket and quickly moved to join in the effort to get his friend, his now bloody ankle still attached to the anchor, onto the dock as well.

 

“…Bolt cutters!”

 

“Ambulance… blankets… gurney!”

 

People were shouting, but Steve focused on Williams’ still form. His face was a startling shade of pale blue, and his lips were nearly purple. Angry that he couldn’t kneel by his friend, all he could do was watch as one of the divers rapidly performed a few cycles of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, turn over the victim, and push on his back a couple of times.

 

“Breathe!” The young man in the dark wet suit shouted the command harshly at the prone, unresponsive man. As if in reply, a flood of water poured from Dan’s mouth. The detective did not seem to regain consciousness though as he choked and gasped.

 

McGarrett sank to the deck nearby in provisional relief and let his own exhaustion win for a few minutes as he watched the very capable medic treat his friend. The large warehouse-ish space was bustling with search-related activities and law enforcement personnel exchanging information, but Steve knew his place was here, seeing that the needs of his officer were well met.

 

 

*****

 

The halls of Leahi Hospital stirred with medical personnel attending to their various morning duties. A food service worker pushed a tall cart of hospital trays past McGarrett, leaving an almost unpalatable aroma of breakfast fare wafting in her wake. As the heavy-set, middle-aged Polynesian woman spared the head of Five-0 an askance glance, he realized that he probably looked like a vagrant who’d wandered into the building. He’d removed (or it had been removed for him – he’d honestly been too distracted during the ambulance ride with Danno to recall) his soaked suit jacket, but he still sported his damp pants and his shirt, and his shoes squished with every pace. It had only been an hour since they’d wheeled an unconscious, wheezing Williams into one of the treatment rooms. Steve had tried to bully his way in, but it was almost as if the staff had been forewarned and placed their most surly and aggressive nurses there to block him. He leaned against the wall and smiled at the recollection of Danno once joking that McGarrett’s face was on a wanted poster in the hospital’s employee lounge, with an armed-and-annoying label.

 

“Mister McGarrett.”

 

Steve was startled out of his inwardly directed attention to see an unfamiliar physician approaching him. The small Japanese man, looked to be in his forties, wore green surgical scrubs and glasses. Frown lines were etched deeply between the man’s brows, but his expression seemed friendly and empathetic. As soon as McGarrett anxiously acknowledged his identity, the medical man explained.

 

“I’m Doctor Takahashi, and I’ve been assigned to Detective Williams’ case…” The physician paused to take in the man before him and changed the subject. “Perhaps I should take a look at you as well?”

 

“I’m fine, really, Doc,” Steve came back quickly and dismissed the notion with the slightest wave of his hand. “How’s Danno? What’s the verdict?”

 

Takahashi eyed the man skeptically for a few seconds as he re-oriented his train of thought back to the patient he’d just left. “Your man is holding his own. I understand he was the victim of a kidnapping.” The man shook his head, “Very unfortunate timing – he’s got pneumonia… of the bacterial variety, which means he will hopefully start responding to IV antibiotics within the next twenty four hours.”

 

“Pneumonia? Where would he have caught pneumonia?”

 

The head of Five-0 was stunned at the diagnosis – he’d been prepared for other assault-related diagnoses, not a germ. Even as he spoke the words, his mind began to replay several scenes in recent days – Danno had been fatigued, coughing… had even complained quietly on one occasion that he couldn’t seem to get the harbor out of his chest – after his dive into the water to save the Lo Foo Sing scum. 

 

Unaware of the detective’s internal machinations to that effect, the doctor responded. “Pneumonia of this type can be caused by a number of factors. He aspirated a fair volume of ocean water into his lungs this morning, but there’s no way bacteria from even the most tainted water could’ve taken hold so quickly—”

 

McGarrett interrupted gently. “Doc, he, uh… he took in a lung full of harbor a few days ago as well… rescuing a suspect.”

 

Takahashi’s eyes grew slightly larger and he confirmed what Steve already somehow knew had to be true. “That would be a likely source of lung infection… yes, indeed.”

 

“But he’s gonna be all right?” Steve pushed.

 

“He’s listed in critical, but stable condition. In addition to the pneumonia, he was terribly dehydrated when he arrived – AND he also sustained numerous bumps, scrapes, and abrasions. One set of bruises on the back of his neck was particular nasty – THESE I’m guessing are related to ill treatment at the hands of the kidnappers.”

 

McGarrett’s eyes narrowed slightly, but he said nothing, wanting the medical man to get to the point.

 

Takahashi continued. “That said, his prognosis is good, barring any other complications.”

 

Releasing a loud sigh of relief, the Five-0 chief smiled for the first time since he’d shaken the physician’s hand. “Thank you, Doctor. Can I see him? Is he awake?”

 

The doctor grinned. “You’re welcome – Yes – No.”  Not up to a word game, McGarrett did not move until the man, some seven inches shorter than him, clarified. “Yes, you are welcome to stop in for a brief visit, but no, he is not awake – and I would not anticipate that he will have any extended periods of alertness for the next day or two at least. Detective Williams is very ill, and needs his rest.”

 

Steve nodded firmly. “And he’ll have it, Doc – no problem.”

 

 

*****

 

McGarrett gently flexed his arm as he climbed the koa wood staircase towards the Five-0 offices. He’d slept well two nights in a row, with nothing more than the responsibility for the safety of Hawaii’s citizens on his shoulders. It had been two days since his second-in-command had been rescued and, while he had not yet managed to catch Williams awake in one of his numerous visits to the hospital, he knew that his friend was on the mend. With a quick stop this morning, before a breakfast meeting with the Governor, Steve was pleased to see the clear plastic tent gone from Dan’s bed. He decided he might have to try his Irish luck at lunchtime to see if he would find his protégé’ more alert – or at least able to look at him. An unwelcome recollection pressed on his mind, edging out the positive thoughts he’d been carrying in his head.

 

The day before, he’d been compelled to return to the boat yard and examine the scene for clues which might point to where his old NI chum might have absconded. The FBI, HPD, and Duke had all searched the building at length after he and Danno had been taken to the hospital two days earlier. Links of the building owner to the Lo Foo Sing were abundant, but – as far as others were concerned – nothing relating to Shay was to be found. Steve decided that what was needed was another pair of eyes – eyes which knew the slippery Pete so well that they would interpret innocent-on-the-surface facts for what they were in actuality.

 

He took the trip alone, and spent an hour combing the building. With the structure searched, he stood on the dock and stared at the fishing trawler. It seemed a long way from the bust at the dock where McGarrett had felt a twinge of concern and dismissed it as nothing after Danno’s dip into the harbor.  Maybe he should have paid more attention to his instincts.  In comparison to this horror, the swim in the harbor was insignificant – except for the pneumonia.

 

Finally, with no small measure of unease in his gut, he wandered around the water’s edge – not taking his eyes from the boat – and boarded. The smell on the deck was an olfactory stew of paint thinner, oil, and rotting fish. Danno had been held here on this wretched craft and now, Steve felt duty-bound – not as a cop, but as a friend – to know more details about Williams’ imprisonment. The metal doors which covered the cargo hold were open, and McGarrett – drawn and repelled simultaneously – moved toward them as he pulled the small flashlight from his pocket and turned it on.

 

Before peering over the large rusty lip into the dark cavern, he instinctively steeled himself with a deep breath – it was this act which was almost his undoing for several seconds. The air drifting from the hold accosted his lungs with the vile odor of decomposing organic matter. He reeled backward and had to give his brain a few moments to recover before he took in a more gingerly, cautious breath and held it.

 

Pointing the light into the darkness, he stepped forward and surveyed the area, which had been his friend’s prison for many hours. He hadn’t needed any additional fuel to stoke the flames of rage he now felt towards Pete Shay, but here it was. The hold was one of the most repulsive places to which he’d ever experienced. Yes, he decided lividly, Shay had found his element – he was running with people who cruelly treated human beings as cargo. No matter how long it took, Steve vowed that he would continue his fight to bring these creatures – and all of their ilk – to justice.

 

A smear of admiration for Williams spread across his mind as he recalled the ill detective’s defiance in the face of such treatment. It was never clearer to McGarrett than it was at that moment – his esteem and respect for his protégé were well placed. His pall lifted with the knowledge that the betrayal of one man found its compensation many times over in the honor of another.

 

He entered the Five-0 outer office and nodded at the secretary as he drew near to her desk. “Luana… messages?”

 

The woman was already fishing into in IN box on the corner of her desk to snatch several papers and proffer them to her boss.  From the stack of letters, memos and report forms, a post card nearly slipped to the floor.  As he stepped toward his office, he smiled at the bright picture-side of the card – a shot of Iolani Palace in all it’s splendor on a crisp and sunny Hawaiian afternoon.

 

‘Who’s the joker,’ he wondered, flipping it over to check the address.  Sure enough, the bold printing, in red ink, announced that the card was addressed to McGarrett.

 

As the familiarity of the handwriting sank in, Steve fell against the doorframe of his office.  His eyes scanned over the single-line message several times, mind refracting on the past as he read the chilling words:

 

--see you soon to finish the job –

 

No signature.  No need, the threat was enough, the script enough.  Pete Shay.  Steve could imagine him dashing away at the airport – undoubtedly in disguise -- and leaving with just enough time to pick out this postcard – which would have screamed appropriateness – and sent it with this dire threat. 

 

At Christmas he had sent a card promising to comeback and finish his job – i.e. – kill Danno.  So, Danno was still on the hit list.  Steve was just going to make sure that didn’t happen.  Luana was talking and he came to grips with this nasty attempt to irritate and intimidate him.  The irritation was working, but he was already making plans to thwart the threat.

 

“I’m sorry, what did you say, Luana?”

 

“Only one message since your last check-in. Agent Hanley stopped by and dropped off a draft of his report on the Shay case.”

 

McGarrett accepted the documents from the Hawaiian woman. “Hmm… Hanley… good man… for a Fed.”

 

He gave her a thin smile as he started past her desk, but turned as she added a very disturbing remark.

 

“Oh! He said to let you know that he was heading over to Leahi to review a few things with Dan! He’ll let you know if he has anything to add to the report after that!”

 

The cheerful delivery of the message was lost on McGarrett, who quickly reversed his course, dumping the papers he’d just collected back into his IN box as he trotted for the door.  Hanley – maybe another threat on the horizon of his recovering officer!

 

“Interrogate Danno – in a pig’s eye!” The lead detective growled as he yanked the door open and disappeared from the confused secretary’s view.

 

 

*****

 

Anxious to head off what could be an upsetting conversation for his friend, Steve raced with lights and siren all the way to the hospital, and parked in a convenient – but illegal – spot near the front. Dale Hanley had turned out to be a decent investigator and generally stand-up guy as far as McGarrett was concerned, but he feared that the agent’s by-the-book proclivity might cause him to force Williams through some absurd rigmarole to document his innocence in this entire incident. If that had to happen, it would – in due time – but Steve was determined that he would be there as his detective’s staunchest advocate and protector, if need be.

 

He took the stairs in twos to the second floor and strode down the hallway, past the nurses’ station, and around the corner towards his friend’s room at the very end of the hall on the left. Two uniformed HPD men were stationed about ten feet from the doorway, and each respectfully acknowledged the Five-0 chief as he approached.

 

“You can take five, guys!” Steve commanded, and the two men nodded and strolled down the hallway. He slowed his approach as he could see the door was a kilter. Preferring to avoid blowing in like a tornado, he took a cleansing breath and placed his hand on the door to enter, but the voice on the other side stopped him in his tracks.

 

“Thanks, Dale, but I don’t need to talk to Steve to know what happened,” Dan’s voice was soft and had an early-morning, gravelly edge to it.

 

Not generally inclined to eavesdrop, the statement perplexed him, and without considering further, he aborted his entrance.

 

*****

 

A faint, knowing smile brushed across Williams’ face as he slowly explained. “You revealed evidence, which convinced you of wrongdoing on my part… Steve argued on my behalf…You countered with more evidence… He argued more loudly… You cranked up your volume… He shouted… You shouted… And in the end, he went out and found a way to prove your evidence wrong.” Dan took a pained cough and Hanley moved to hand the patient a glass of water which rested on the tray nearby.

 

“Wow,” Dale breathed. “That’s… that’s exactly what happened.”

 

 

*****

 

Wow, McGarrett mused silently. No matter how many times his second-in-command displayed how well he knew his boss, Steve never ceased to be impressed. There were times when he would’ve sworn that nobody knew his preference or intention, but somehow, Danno had discerned the truth.

 

*****

 

Unsurprised, Williams nodded slightly as he gingerly sipped from the glass.

 

The FBI man rubbed his chin as he continued. “Well, do you mind if I ask you a couple of questions about what happened on your end of the deal? For the record, this is a personal inquiry and you don’t have to answer.”

 

Dan, his brow furled slightly, leaned his head back onto the pillow and brought the glass to resting position on his stomach as he considered Hanley’s curious disclosure. There were only a few seconds of deliberation before he agreed. “Shoot.”

 

Hanley gave a nod. “Thank you… You certainly know how to end a stand-off.”

 

Williams’ lips turned upward slightly and he managed a tentative shrug. “The old go-down-with-the-anchor trick – not used too much anymore.”

 

“I guess you didn’t think Steve could’ve talked Shay out of it?”

 

Dan offered a dismissive expression. “Steve was talking Shay INTO it – not out of it.” His eyes dropped to his drink. “To save me.”

 

It was immediately apparent to Dale that Five-0’s second-in-command had understood – despite his un-well and damaged condition – that his boss had stepped forward with the intention of trading his life for that of his officer’s.

 

“Well, I want you to know that – between you and Steve – I don’t think I ever saw more selfless acts in a single day. It took four of us to get Steve out of the water when you were down there.”

 

Emotion flushed the pale detective’s complexion as he returned his focus to the FBI agent. “Steve lives by certain principles. Right near the top of his list is, ‘never give up.”

 

McGarrett hesitated for another second as he inwardly confirmed his outward composure. THAT principle was just the bone he had to pick with his second-in-command! He inhaled with a re-discovered appreciation for the sensation, and pushed his way through the door into the room.

 

His eyes met those of Dan’s as he strode to the foot of the bed. With a gentle nod and certain smile, he took a seat on the edge of the bed and brought his hand down lightly on the patient’s blanketed leg. “Danno.” The name embraced much more than a mere identity for the head of Five-0. It meant camaraderie… security … promise-fulfilled… The near loss of his friend and everything for which he stood in Steve’s life made the lead detective’s eyes sting. He swallowed, hoping, but somehow not truly caring whether Agent Hanley recognized his emotional state in seeing his second-in-command conscious for the first time since he’d been wheeled in two days earlier.

 

Obviously, the patient’s emotional reaction equaled the visitor’s. Dan gave a tired, crooked grin. “Steve.”

 

“Did I hear you say, ‘never give up,’ Danno?”

 

Williams frowned, and despite his lack of perfect mental acuity, he recognized his mentor’s mildly accusatory tone, but was not certain as to the origin of the gently-delivered indictment.

 

“In the water…” McGarrett reminded.

 

Those words summoned the terrifying, albeit foggy recollection of what Dan thought were his final moments on earth, and the Five-0 lieutenant suddenly realized the perspective from which his boss was viewing the memory. His expression eased into a more relaxed countenance. “Steve, I didn’t give up – you were drowning!”

 

McGarrett had known at the time that his friend did not want him to risk death on his behalf, but now, with Williams’ explanation echoing in his head, it struck him that Danno had not only NOT given up – he’d succeeded in his objective.

 

Steve slowly inhaled, and let his friend know through only his expression that he understood. He cleared his throat before he responded somewhat gruffly to mask his affection for Williams. “Okay then – I’m glad we’ve cleared that up.” McGarrett turned his head in Hanley’s direction. “Is there any other information you need from my detective before you close your investigation?”

 

Momentarily caught off guard by the sudden attention, Dale closed his notebook as he answered. “Umm… uh, no, I think everything is in order, Steve… I guess I’ll be on my way.” The agent thanked the Five-0 detectives and promised as he stepped out the door that a copy of his final report would be delivered to the Palace within the week.

 

Dan canted his head sideways as he watched the door waft shut, and then looked at this boss. “Guards… I’m under guard…”

 

McGarrett shrugged slightly and gave a slight nod of admission. “Shay.”

 

“He got away?” Williams was surprised and more than a little dismayed. His boss responded with another nod and looked out the window.

 

With a sad smile, Dan shook his head. “Wow… he’s good… too bad he turned into a…” The words trailed off, and McGarrett looked back to see that his second-in-command – despite everything that had happened – was loathe to curse the former NI operative.  Shay had been a close friend of Steve’s – he’d even been in the running for the Five-0 slot -- still vacant as a result of the murder of Chin Ho Kelly.

 

“A treacherous snake? A slimy, good-for-nothing lowlife? A no-account, back-stabbing miscreant?” McGarrett’s lip curled into a gentle grin as he voiced the sentiment. “It’s okay, Danno. In the past few days, I’ve gotten a pretty good lesson in how to recognize a friend – especially the crazy, go-down-with-the-ship-anchor-and-all type.”

 

Williams, appreciating the atypically gentle chastisement, returned Steve’s piercing gaze. “At the time, it seemed like the only action I could take that would take our fate out of Shay’s hands.”

 

“Shades of Invictus, eh, Danno?”

 

“Can I help it if my mentor is always quoting inspirational poetry?”

 

Steve McGarrett, feeling the emotional warmth inherent in being understood by a kindred spirit, could not contain his grin. “Well, I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m certainly grateful for your unconquerable soul.”

 

 

"Invictus," by William Earnest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be,
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance,
I have winced but not cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance,
My head is bloodied but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears,
Looms but the horror of the shade.
And yet the menace of the years,
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

 

PAU