BONDS

             Written by

               Barbara Huff and GM

 

 

March 1969

=======================

 

 

Scribbling notes on the margin of a report, Steve McGarrett wondered if he or anyone else would be able to read the scrawls in the future.  He was in a hurry as usual.  A little more agitated than normal, his emotions were transferred to the page on a subliminal level. 

 

Meeting government representatives did this to him.  Today was the culmination of a verbal and administrative wrestling match he had lost.  Not with good grace, either.  He really hated coming in second to the FBI.  It shouldn’t be a power struggle or a contest, but it always was when dealing with the Feds.  When were they going to learn this was HIS rock and they were just visitors?  Sure, Hawaii WAS the Fiftieth State, but distance was a symbolic example of the separation between his tropical paradise and the mainland.  Five-0 handed the violent crimes here and Federal interference was kept to a minimum.  Steve made sure of that and it seemed he had to teach that over and over again to all the new agents they sent out here to try and tangle with him.

 

The latest case was one he finally -- grudgingly -- stepped aside for only because of the severity of the crimes.  The rough and lethal Thore brothers were heroin smugglers who were caught red handed here.  Five-0 was in the midst of linking them to the deaths of two addicts when the Feds moved in and claimed priority.  The Thores were wanted from Texas to California on drug and murder charges. 

 

Steve thought it a dangerous precedent to allow the FBI to win this.  While he agreed in principle that the multiple murders across state lines did fall into their jurisdiction, he had caught them and could make a case for murder here.  Possession being a key factor here, he did not want to back down for the government.  They might get the idea they could waltz over here to Hawaii and take anybody they wanted. 

 

Scribbling another note McGarrett closed the file and glanced at the clock.  The Feds should be here any minute.  He was going to take final statements, finish the paper work and send the Thores on their way. 

 

Of course, if the mood struck him, he could blame Danno for all of this. The young second-in-command had been the voice of reason to convince him this was not the right fight to pick with the FBI.   Not often swayed from a stubborn stance, Steve had come to recognize, through persistent persuasion, that this was not an important enough battle.  He would let the FBI win here.  This time.

 

The memory of the debate with Williams amused him and he swiveled back to stare out at the lush grounds of the Palace, eyes almost aching from the brightness of the Saturday afternoon sun baking the spring flowers, lawns and trees.  It was a perfect day -- as most of them were in paradise -- to be out there enjoying Island life.  Which was exactly what Williams was doing right now, and Steve smiled at that appreciation.  If anyone deserved to be out there on a day like this surfing, enjoying the girls and sun, it was Williams. 

 

While McGarrett was the driving force in pursuing and catching the Thores, Williams remained in the background, spearheading an embezzlement investigation, coordinating Kamehameha Day security with the Governor’s office, and keeping tabs on the administrative duties around the office.  Yesterday, Williams was worn out and looking ragged so Steve magnanimously offered him the Saturday off.  The staff worked regular office hours and days, but the detectives were expected to put in a six day week at least.  Days off were rotated, Chin the family man usually receiving unwritten priority, but that didn’t always happen depending on the crisis, and Danny, then McGarrett, were the last to enjoy a holiday.

 

Underlying his motivations with the day off, of course, was the unspoken acknowledgement that McGarrett doubted Williams was really up to Five-0 work standards.  Only two months ago, Danno had been shot and held hostage.  {episode -- KING OF THE HILL}  Steve wasn’t sure the recovery was complete from the stomach wound and extreme blood loss, but when Williams insisted on coming back to work as quickly as possible Steve had acquiesced.  He wanted his right-hand man back of course, but not at the expense of Dan’s health.  Then Williams had carried the load of Five-0 last month when Steve was so wrapped up in his nephew’s death and going after the woman he held responsible. {episode -- ONCE UPON A TIME}

 

So Danno got this Saturday off, while McGarrett locked horns with the FBI.  Well, he’d make up for it.  Maybe he’d make Dan help him restore that horrible old boat he’d been willed.  The next time both of them had the day off at the same time, of course.  Maybe one Sunday next month?

 

The intercom buzzed and Steve acknowledged it.  May announced the FBI man Fischer was here with one of the prisoners.  He told them to come through.  Standing, he pushed away all frivolous thoughts of days off and ground his teeth in expectation of the difficult afternoon.

 

Agent Fischer was a standard-issue G-Man.  Short-cropped dark brown hair, piercing hazel eyes; sober blue suit, thin blue tie..  He had a grip on the shorter, thinner prisoner that looked like it could break bones.  And the captive -- handcuffed Lionel Thore -- seemed anything but a multiple murderer.  Unshaven, skinny, under six-feet, the eldest Thore brother looked like a high school teacher on vacation. 

 

May followed them in and took a seat next to McGarrett’s desk.  She took dictation as Steve gave an opening statement and Fischer followed with his own comments.  Before they could finish with Fischer, there was a knock at the door.  It shouldn’t be the other Thore brother yet.  The second agent -- Harte -- was holding Jeff Thore downstairs in an interrogation room.  Irritated, Steve crossed the room to see who was disturbing them.

 

Just before he reached for the knob, the door opened and the last person in the world he expected to see flounced into the room.

 

“Steve!  Surprise!”

 

Gasping, falling back a few steps, McGarrett was speechless as his sister, Mary Ann, flew into his arms and tightly hugged him.  Following behind came her more subdued husband, Tom Whalen, (obligatory flower leis on their necks) whose expression assured this surprise was not his idea in a million years and he was uncertain of the reception this was going to get from big brother Steve.

 

As if knowing what the men were silently telegraphing, Mary Ann pulled back slightly and laughed.  “Tom warned me this was a bad idea, but I just couldn’t resist, Steve.  I missed you so much.  And Tom got an unexpected week off.  So where else should we be but here with my wonderful brother.”  She hugged him again.  “It’s kind of a second honeymoon for us, Steve.  It’s something we really needed.  You’re not mad, are you?”

 

“Of course not,” he mumbled, still rocked at the unexpected arrival of his sister and brother-in-law.  “But, sis, this is kind of a bad time.”  For the first time he glanced around.  Fischer was perturbed.  May was amused.  Thore was smiling.  The prisoner’s attitude raked against his nerves and Steve pushed Mary Ann and Tom to the side of the office.  At her stormy look, he knew he’d said exactly the wrong thing.  “But it’s always great to see you both,” he smiled convincingly and gave her another hug, shaking Tom’s hand in a physical show of his sincerity.

 

It had been only a month ago that Mary Ann and Tom had lost their only son.  Steve’s commiseration gift -- at first fought and misunderstood by his grieving sister -- had been to prosecute the doctor who treated little baby Tommy.  The doctor was convicted of malpractice and other crimes.  Steve and Mary Ann had patched things up.  He had called her a few times since, but after coming back from LA he had slipped back into work as usual with hardly a thought to matters outside of Five-0. 

 

That was always how his relationship with Mary Ann had been -- a bit long distance, but loving.  He didn’t know how else to be a big brother.  After their father died he had continued with high school and worked odd-jobs to help out their struggling, widowed mother.  Then into the Navy, during which time their mother died and Mary Ann grew up.  Then Five-0 and Mary Ann married Tom.   Following the birth, then death, of the baby.  Steve didn’t know how else to react, and he suddenly realized, with this unexpected appearance, that somewhere along the line he had not done a very good job of being a big brother.

 

“We’ll only be here on Oahu a few days,” Tom smoothed out the shock.  “Then we’re on to Kauai.  But if this is a bad time, Steve --“

 

“No, no, just -- well, I’m in the middle of something right now.  Do you think you could wait in the office out there just for a little while?  Or, better yet, you want to drop in at my apartment --“

 

“No, we have a hotel down in Waikiki --“

 

“You know it’s Saturday, Steve,” Mary Ann chided quietly.  “We thought you’d be working, but could maybe take some time off.  Where’s that amazing assistant you keep raving about?  Can’t Danny take care of things?”

 

Danny take care of things.  Yeah, that was his perfect job description and that was exactly what the surfer/detective was going to do right now.  Danno knew just about everything there was to know about Mary Ann and Tom because of the illness and death of Tommy.  Steve had leaned on his friend like he had never done before with anyone during that horrible crisis.  Steve had suffered loss, sudden death of loved ones and combat.  But seeing his sister and brother-in-law hurt with the terminal illness and death of their only child -- it had ripped Steve apart like nothing else that had ever happened. 

 

When he thought he was going to lose Danno in that hostage crisis, it had been different, and in a way, just as agonizing as Mary Ann’s, Tom’s and even his own suffering.  A similar kind of pain, almost on the same level as he had felt with the hurts of his own family.  It was always harder to take when someone he loved hurt.  It was strangely easier to bear when he was the one in jeopardy.  Being a man of action, he hated the helplessness when others agonized and he could do nothing. 

 

May, who had often talked to Mary Ann on the phone, and met her a few times in years past, came over and saved the day.  She suggested Steve visit with his family in the outer office while she took Thore’s statement.  Steve shepherded them out the door and closed it behind him, leading his relations into Dan’s nearby cubicle.  Kono and Chin were by the coffee stand and also chatted with the Whalens.

 

“Well, it seems the only one we’re missing is the new kid.  Where is the amazing Detective Williams?  You use his name in practically every other sentence when we talk; I thought he never left the office.  Just like you,” she mildly accused.

 

Not commenting specifically on her flippant and probably accurate remarks, he responded, “He’s going to be here soon enough.”

 

Calling dispatch, McGarrett asked whatever patrol unit was up on the North Shore to locate Williams.   He’d love for Danno to meet his sister and Tom.  But, he would also like his friend to make sure they were taken care of while Steve finished with the Thore brothers.  The patrol men were told to have Williams return to the office wikiwiki. 

 

Fischer, Thore and May exited his office.  Steve went in with his family and while Mary Ann discussed dinner plans he furiously rearranged his schedule in his head, trying to fit this new element into his already packed day.

 

 

**********

 

Not up to surfing for long after his recent brush with death, Danny Williams still pushed the limits of his physical stamina.  Drawn to the sea all his life, he could not go for long without enjoying the natural benefits of his paradise.  The waves at Waimea were almost ten feet and coming in strong.  He had been out on a few small ones and felt ready to challenge the stiffer sets.  Steve would probably not be happy about his idea of a day off.  And if he injured himself he would be in big trouble.  After taking so much medical leave after his shooting, he didn’t want to cause Five-0 any more problems because he couldn’t pull his share of the load.  Still, the waves were compelling and if he was careful he could avoid a wipe out and still have a great day out here, and then get a decent night’s sleep.  If he came back to the office injured and worn out, Steve was not going to give him another vacation day for a year!

 

“Hey, Danny!”

 

Williams looked over and saw Patrolman Paul Nakamura walking toward him.  Dan came to his feet, already knowing all his concerns were academic.  Looked like his day off was terminated.

 

“Hey, Paul.  What’s up?”

 

“McGarrett wants you back at the office, wikiwiki.  His words, not mine.”

 

With knowing resignation, Dan grabbed his beach mat, towel and board and trudged up to the parking lot with the officer.  After putting his board in his pick up truck, he used the squad car’s radio to contact Five-0.  May answered his call.

 

“Hi, Danny.  The boss man wants you back here.”

 

“Yeah, I heard.  Do you think I have time to change?”

 

“Come as you are.”  She sounded entirely too cheerful.  “Whatever you’re wearing is just fine.”

 

“What’s going on?”

 

“You’ll see.”

 

After signing off, he grabbed his Aloha shirt out of the cab and dusted off his sandy feet to slip on his sandals.  What could require his presence at the office where he wouldn’t be required in the standard-issue uniform of Five-0 -- a shirt, tie and suit?  Intrigued at the mysterious summons, he jumped in the truck and headed back toward Honolulu.

 

 

**********

 

With details completed about dinner and a few activities for the next few days, Steve felt he should return to his duties.  Chin and Kono were handling the statement with the second Thore brother, Jeff.  But typically, McGarrett did not feel comfortable leaving his obligations for others to fulfill. 

 

At May’s desk, Steve, Mary Ann and Tom coordinated a time schedule.  Agent Harte and Jeff Thore were cornered in Chin’s cubicle finishing the paperwork.  Kono was at his desk on the phone.  Suddenly three armed men with nylon masks ran into the room from the back.

 

“Everybody freeze!” one of them shouted.

 

The women cried out.  Steve and the other detectives visibly tensed and restrained from reaching for their weapons. After receiving quick confirmation from McGarrett, Chin and Kono immediately raised their hands to indicate they were not a threat to the men.  Jeff Thore, triumphant, grabbed onto Agent Harte’s revolver and pushed the FBI agent against the wall. Harte was a muscled man who pushed back and received a slash across the face with the automatic held by one of the gunmen.  The officers were ordered to disarm and all of them carefully laid down their revolvers, which were confiscated by another one of the masked men.

 

Tom grabbed Mary Ann and shoved her against the cabinet at their backs.  Steve pulled May to her feet and stepped in front of the group. 

 

“What do you want?”

 

“They’re here for me,” Thore announced, shoving Harte over to the center of the room by Chin and Kono.  “Now call up that other FBI man and get my brother over here.  Now!”  No one moved.  Thore stepped over a few paces and put his weapon against Chin’s temple.  “Move!  And if you give that agent any warning this Charlie Chan gets blown away.”

 

Steve gave May a nod and she nervously dialed down to holding.  After the message was delivered she stepped back behind McGarrett.  They were ordered to get into McGarrett’s office to wait.  Steve requested, between clenched teeth, that the women be released. Thore smashed him across the face.

 

“No body gets any favors, McGarrett.  I’ll tell you what’s going to happen and it’s not going to be good for any of you if you don’t do what I say.”

 

His lips smarting, Steve fisted his hands to restrain from fighting back.  These were not the odds to try anything, but he hated the helplessness suddenly trapping him.  When the abductors closed his office door he felt like they were imprisoned.  Itching to pace, he instead arranged May and Mary Ann to be in the far corner of the sofa.  The men instinctively crowded in front of them as vain shields.  The heavy-set gunman drew out a roll of duct tape from the baggy pocket of his vest.  Wanting to resist, knowing he could not, Steve understood this was going to be very unpleasant.

 

 

**********

 

 

When Danny arrived he wasn’t sure what to expect as he skipped into the Five-0 offices. Still feeling a little self-conscious in his surfer togs, very aware of his scruffy, unshaven appearance, worried about his reception, he was nonplussed to find the outer area empty.

 

“Hey, where is everybody?”

 

Automatically gravitating to the center and seat of power, he opened McGarrett’s door. So abruptly was he hit with something hard on the head, then slammed to the ground, the air plunged out of him and his head was ringing, his vision blurring.  Taken completely by surprise – this was the LAST thing he expected to stroll into -- he caught his breath and assessed the alarming situation.  Quickly taking in the scene from his position on the floor, he realized his friends -- and now he -- were hostages.   Restrained with duct tape, the Five-0 staff and a few others were in various bound positions at the far end of the room.

 

Receiving a fast visual that Steve and the rest of the team were okay, he receded from the edge of panic. Steve gave him a look that he read to mean stay cool.  Not hard to do when they were at such a disadvantage.

 

“Who’re you?” The heavier set man of the trio demanded viciously as he pointed an automatic pistol in Dan’s face.

 

The question gave him pause.  Deciding it was best not to be a cop right now, he responded in a scared and hesitant voice. “I -- I’m the courier – I’m supposed to pick up a package from Mr. McGarrett.”  Maybe being on the outside and not a perceived threat would give him an advantage.

 

The man with the gun eyed the young man still partially sprawled on the floor. It gave Dan a chance to study his companions. The couple behind Steve -- they looked like Steve’s sister and her husband?  What were they doing here?  Was that the reason he had been summoned back?  This didn’t make sense -- any of it!

 

What made the ominous situation really sink in was his friend. McGarrett’s jaw was swollen and blood was smeared on the side of his mouth.  It made Williams understand the gravity of their plight and that Steve had already tried to do something heroic.  Dan felt like trying the same thing, but knew, for the moment, it was hopeless.  Better to wait and see about his chances later.

 

Seeing that Steve was tautly controlled, Dan knew that McGarrett had to be livid on the inside. His entire team AND his sister and her husband were being held at gunpoint by armed thugs. The blue eyes that he had come to read well, the tight muscles, the set jaw -- it all interpreted ultimate danger emanating from McGarrett  These thugs didn’t know that they had a vaguely harnessed volcano about to erupt, like Kilauea, right under their feet if they weren’t careful.  The thought was almost comical, except that he knew Steve so well.  The Irish temper would not abide this kind of treatment to his friends and his ohana. Not for long. Steve might do something rash that might get him killed.  Furiously, Danny tried to think of something HE could do to forestall his friend’s heroics.

 

In his swim trunks and Aloha shirt, Dan looked more the part a courier than the second-in-command of the state police.  His argument seemed convincing.  After what seemed to be an eternity-long pause, he saw the man lower his weapon and back away slightly.

 

“Well, there ain’t gonna be no pickup today. Sit over there against the wall, and don’t move. You do what I say and you won’t get hurt!”

 

Knowing the lives of everyone in the room could depend upon him remaining untied, Dan quickly pulled himself together and backed against the wall without ever getting to his feet. His head was still swimming from the blow he took when he first entered the room and he was grateful for the chance to rest out of the line of action.  He leaned back, trying to keep his eyes open, but he had to squint against the pain from the blow to his head. 

 

Studying his fellow prisoners, Dan felt sympathetic and sorry for Mary Ann and Tom. They were visibly horrified at the situation and cowered on the couch, their hands and feet taped.  May was scared, but had been exposed enough to the criminal element that it must have helped her keep a cool head. The cops in the room were bubbling with frustration.  Every once in a while one of them would brush eye contact with him.  Their faces calmed in that instant, realizing that only they knew that Dan was not a courier.

 

 

**********

 

Before anyone could really come up with a significant plan, they heard a commotion in the outer office.  The biggest thug grabbed McGarrett and ordered him to call out to the FBI Agent Fischer and Lionel Thore. Steve had only seconds to think of an angle that would help them.  Danno, of course, thanks to his quick thinking, was their single asset.  Now maybe Steve could do something.  It was a risk with all these hostages -- the people he loved most in the entire world were within these walls.  He could do nothing to jeopardize them.  But neither could he allow these criminals to control them.  Some, if not all of his friends would probably die today if he didn’t take some kind of action to thwart the gunmen.

 

The thug pressed the pistol to Steve’s throat, making it hard to breathe let alone talk.  He pushed it away and the man angered instantly, throwing a smashing backhand across Steve’s face.  The blow threw him into the door with a crash.  Steve pushed away the pistol that was about to connect again with his face.  The weapon struck the solid wood and discharged with a mighty crack.

 

One of the other thugs grabbed McGarrett and flung him to the floor, where he collided with Williams. 

 

“Stay cool, Danno,” he whispered urgently.

 

“You, too!” Williams hissed back, clearly upset at the events.

 

The excitable criminal opened the door.  He was flung back, shot in the chest, and dropped to the floor at the same instant they heard the gunshot from the outer office. 

 

“This is the FBI. Surrender your weapons!”

 

“This is Jeff Thore,” the mastermind of the operation announced as he checked on his fallen comrade. 

 

The wounded man was moaning loudly, curled in pain not far from McGarrett.  Bleeding from the chest and back, the man had taken a tearing bullet that left him bleeding heavily.

 

“We have hostages in here!  Now give me my brother or I start killing an FBI agent and cops!”

 

No reply. Steve knew Agent Fischer was a tough guy.  Would he negotiate?  What if he didn’t?  Steve was not going to sit by and watch his friends -- his family -- murdered!  What if he was chosen first?  He glanced over at Williams, who was eyeing him with an unnerving expression.  A familiar look of faith and expectation -- knowing Steve was going to do something brilliant at any moment and Danno was prepared to follow, then in wait to issue praise for whatever that idea might be. The glance was only momentary, but it fueled him with determination to do something quickly. If he was one of the first hostages threatened, Danno was going to do something stupid and heroic to save him.  He wasn’t going to let that happen.

 

Jeff Thore, impatient and angry, fired a number of rounds through the door.  Then he ordered one of his men to open it again.  Reluctantly, the man did as bidden.  He turned back, incredulously reporting the outer office was empty!  There was no one out there listening to their demands!

 

“They’re gonna try and hem us in,” Jeff growled, pulling McGarrett up to his knees by his shirt collar.  He placed a pistol between his eyes.  “What are they going to do, top cop?”

 

“They’re going to surround this building so you’ll have to surrender,” he snapped back.  “They’re not going to negotiate.  You’re never getting your brother so you might as well give up.”

 

Thore slugged him and sent him back to the floor.  Williams made a move to interfere and McGarrett quickly scrambled to his feet to distract the gunmen from his colleague.

 

“Give it up.”

 

Thore pushed McGarrett to the wall.  “I don’t think so.  We’re getting out while we can.”  The burley guy started to protest, but Thore overrode him.  “We’ll go somewhere safer.  Then we’ll come back for Lionel.”

 

“What do we do with them?  Kill em?”

 

Thore’s pistol pressed against Steve’s chest.  “As much as I’d like to, that would make it too hot.”  He pushed McGarrett back harshly into the chair, and moved to the “courier” on the floor. He grabbed onto Williams and yanked him to his feet.  “We’ll take civilians.  They’re less trouble.  And hero cops won’t do anything to hurt civilians. Especially women.”

 

Thore nodded toward May and Mary Ann. One thug each crossed the room and grabbed the women, who struggled and fought against the abduction. 

 

“No!” McGarrett denied.

 

Steve lunged forward and had his knees kicked out from under him.  Then Thore grabbed Mary Ann and put the pistol to her head, threatening to shoot her first if there was any more resistance from the cops.

 

The women had the tape on their ankles cut so they were mobile.

 

While the burley guy made a point of roughly securing William’s wrists with the tape, he studied his prisoner.   Eyes narrowing, he asked, “You’re not a hero, are ya, kid?”

 

Dan, who’d been assessing the twice-his-size brute, averted his eyes as he replied, “No- no, Mister.”

 

Dan managed a glance at Steve, who saw the frightening momentary flash of anger in his friend’s face before it disappeared behind a scared mask.

 

Thore let out a brief laugh, “Good! A respectful hostage!” With a flick of his head, he motioned to Burley, who shoved Williams out the door in front of him. Thore kept the weapon on teary Mary Ann and threatened the remaining officers that if they followed the escapees out of the office the hostages would be shot without hesitation.

 

With a final victorious sneer at the helpless law enforcement personnel, Thore, his hand wrapped tightly around the back of Mary Ann neck, yanked her roughly towards him and disappeared out the door.  The men in the room were on their feet instantly, helping to free each other of their bonds.  Tom was yelling and agonizing over the kidnapping of his wife. Steve, horror-stricken and enraged, watched the small, armed party disappear.

 

 

**********

 

It had taken all of Dan’s resolve to NOT react to the brutalizing he had witnessed. The thugs beating up on Steve had just about pushed him over the limit. Steve’s warning glares had stopped him, but just barely. Thankfully, Steve was now safe. But not his sister!

 

Now, as they rushed through the back halls of the Palace, Danny was desperately trying to think of a way to save Mary Ann and May.  Jeff Thore had Mary Ann in a tight arm lock with the pistol still at her throat.  Almost no chance of saving her. May, however, was being dragged alongside him, just held by the arm, as he was, by the medium-sized bad guy. Fortunately, Dan had been deemed less-than-threatening, so the big mean monster had left “his” hostage with his partner and moved up ahead to act as the scout.

 

In the few moments he had to plan this spontaneous escape, he knew the best chances were if May went on her own and he stayed behind to intercept the thugs.  Besides, if he tried to escape, there would be nobody left to help Mary Ann.  He had the opportunity to save only May, but he might be able to do something for Steve’s sister – if the bad guys let him live that long.

 

As they rounded the final landing and trotted down the stairs to the main floor, Dan’s heart beat faster when he saw the big guy turn right and head toward the back of the Palace. 

 

As he turned the corner he held his foot back and caused their captor to trip.  The guy sprawled to the floor along with Danny and May.  Expecting the tumble, Dan kicked the man in the face and helped May up on her feet, shoving her around the staircase and to the other side where a narrow door led to the basement.  He opened the door, shoved her through and slammed the door behind her. 

 

Seconds later, before he could turn completely around, he was smashed in the back of the head, the side of his face impacting with the solid koa door. He slid to the floor, his vision and senses mostly black.  He felt sick, dizzy and disoriented.  Then realized part of the problem was he was being carried away.

 

 

**********

 

As he frantically worked on unpeeling the tape on his ankles, McGarrett heard gunshots from outside.  Heart in his throat, he finally freed his feet and raced out of the office, flying down the front steps in blind desperation.  He was unarmed and rushing into certain danger, but he was not going to stand back while his sister and friends were being used as shields.  Who was shooting?  Did Fischer or some over-zealous HPD man decide to start a war?  If any of the hostages were hurt, he would have someone’s head!

 

Landing on the wood floor in a running turn, he skidded to a stop when he heard sobbing from around the corner.  Warily, he peered around and saw May leaning against the door of the basement.  When she saw him she yelped and stumbled into his arms.  Anxious to get outside, he did not have time to offer comfort. 

 

“What happened?” he asked as he pushed her against the wall for added support.

 

“Danny shoved me in here.  He saved me.”

 

It was no surprise and the heroic act undoubtedly had consequences.  Nothing obvious like Danno’s body, thankfully. 

 

“I’ll be right back.”  He ran over to the back doors, which were wide open, and cautiously peered out.  He spotted a uniformed body in the parking lot.  Yelling and running feet behind him alerted him to reinforcements.  He turned as Fischer joined him. 

 

“They got away in a squad car.  Took down a couple of cops.”

 

Steve glanced back, only seeing one body.  Some HPD men had arrived to help the injured officer.  A lot had happened in the critical moments he was stuck up in the office.  Too much unseen and unknown.

 

“The hostages?”

 

“Saw a woman and someone who looked unconscious shoved into the car.”

 

“And you didn’t stop them?”

 

“Fire on the hostages?”

 

“Take out a tire!” McGarrett shouted.  “Take out the driver!” 

 

The rage and frustration of the crisis was almost unbearable for Steve.  He didn’t care if he exploded at the FBI or anyone else.  He didn’t have time for their attitudes right now.  In the back of his mind, he thought he should probably take a little care to keep his cool for Tom’s sake.  This was hard enough on his brother-in-law without Steve tearing apart at the seams.  But the emotions could not be completely bottled.  It always happened this way when Danno was in danger.  He flipped out -- there was no other description suitable.  And he didn’t foresee much change with this horrible ordeal.

 

 “Wasn’t close enough, McGarrett, sorry.  Who are they?”

 

“Only my sister and my second-in-command,” he viciously bit back.  “Have you got somebody on their tail?”

 

“Didn’t have time.”

 

Chin, Kono and Tom joined them and he issued orders for an APB on the stolen squad car.  Also for his officers to track down any known associates of the Thore brothers on the islands.  Then they were to seal off all exits -- land, sea and air --from this rock.

 

He tried to take a minute to console Tom, who was pale-white with shock and sick with fear.  He was not a cop, he was not used to this kind of terror inflicted on his family. 

 

Steve faced danger every day and he could not admit that this had him on the raw edge of terror as well.  His option was to give in or fight back.  Following his nature, he would do battle with anyone and everyone and  could not succumb to the emotions.  He had to keep functioning.  Aggressive, offensive assertiveness  and working on this personally, was the best way to save Mary Ann and Danno.

 

“We’re going to get them back, Tom.  I promise.  Mary Ann is going to be fine.  That’s Danny Williams with her.  I’d bet my life that he would not let anything happen to her.” 

 

As he spoke them, the words were more than just shallow platitudes.  He was certain, and afraid, that Danno would do anything to save Mary Ann.  Just as he had saved May.  Noting the secretary was still there, he walked over and put an arm around her shoulder. 

 

He asked the question upper most in his mind right now about his young detective.  “Do you know what happened to Danno after he saved you?”

 

May bit her lip and struggled to stop the tears that were still trickling down her face.  “Just after he shut the door I heard something hit it.  Hard.  And it sounded like Danny cried out.”  She hesitated and he nodded for her to continue.  “I think they hurt him.”

 

He knew it already, expected it, but her surmise made his skin chill.  What retaliation would they choose against Danno after his heroics?  Hopefully, they would keep him alive.  Or maybe, they would just figure they needed only one hostage?  No, then they would have left his body here.  They still had plans for two hostages.  But that didn’t mean that the foolish, impulsive one was going to be undamaged.  He just had to hope his young friend would not do anything stupidly heroic.  Again.  He shoved that thought aside, knowing that was a pretty ridiculous and vain hope when considering Danno’s impetuous temper and history.

 

 

**********

 

 

The world turned grey for the detective as the Burley thug collected Dan by his mid-section and trotted after the others, with the bound man draped head and arms dangling downward under his thick trunk-of-an-arm. Dan’s head felt ready to explode as gravity drew the blood downward into the vessels in his head. His diaphragm was compressed upward into his lungs, so deep breathing was not an option. A cacophony of panicky noises – gunfire, shouting, somebody – poor Mary Ann he thought – crying. The journey down the narrow back steps was jarring and painful.  His body hit the stairway and doors roughly a few times as his indifferent porter stumbled through the escape.

 

The air became cooler suddenly, and Dan was peripherally aware that they’d managed to get out of the palace. While dismayed on some level that the criminals had not yet been subdued, the breeze allowed to Dan to take in air a little better and, with that, he felt some small measure of relief. A few more jarring steps, and then running, before the group reached their escape vehicle.

 

 

“Get in there and shut up!” The voice spat, and then continued, “Open the trunk! Hurry!” 

 

Dan could feel his captor’s hold loosening slightly as he tossed him roughly into the trunk of the car. His body landed unceremoniously on a tire iron. The sharp pain to his rib cage was rapidly overridden by an agonizing blow to the back of his head. With that the noise rapidly subsided for Dan. Silence and darkness enveloped him as the trunk lid slammed shut.

 

 

**********

 

 

Before Steve could issue more instructions to his men, Harte informed him that the wounded man had been taken into Federal custody.  He would be at a prison hospital and Lionel Thore would be under lock and key as well.  Steve lobbied to interrogate both prisoners and was refused.  While Steve longed to throttle the thugs, he knew when to not fight the government.  He demanded to be informed of all leads, then, and Harte did agree to that.  But Steve didn’t trust him.  And there was no time for the usual jockeying for position in the power-plays that always existed between Steve and visiting Feds.  This was too critical to be diverted by inter-agency rivalries.

 

When he had the chance, he told Chin to go down to the lab and get Che’s reports on the weapons and physical evidence left behind.  Prints on the tape, the pistols, anything else the criminals touched.  He had Kono go through HPD and find out who the new prisoner might be; who the Thore’s liked to work with as gunsels.

 

Tom eventually fell asleep on the couch.  Steve kept the phone hot with calls to various sources.  It was almost dusk when May brought in Chinese food and fresh coffee.  Tom found it hard to eat and Steve reminded him they needed to keep up their health to last out the crisis.  He had little appetite himself, but had to set an example.  Just as he had always been the take-charge big brother to Mary Ann, he had to show her husband his fearless, cool, controlled, domineering side now.  He couldn’t allow his inner fears and doubts to surface. 

 

The thought of being an example led naturally to remember his years of experience as a big brother.  There had been no time for relationships outside the little tight-knit family. When in the Navy, he had been too focused on being the perfect cadet, then officer.  No time for friendships. Then came Five-0;the example, the boss, the former NI spook who had to prove himself.  No one to get close to in the early years.  He had friends, sure, lots of them.  But never anyone close.  Plenty of people to socialize with; some to trust many to work with, all on varying levels of cordiality and intimacy.

 

Then, through a strange series of events, he had grown fond of a young HPD officer named Williams.  Soon after meeting Williams, McGarrett absorbed him into the team.  And with that new angle within his unit, came an unusual and unexpected surprise -- a spark -- a bonding -- almost from the beginning. 

 

That was just the start.  The way Williams thought and reacted and the way he tried so hard to emulate McGarrett solidified the relationship.  It had quickly developed into a mentor/protégé connection.  Now, after stress, trials and energizing give-and-take, after life-and-death crises and dull routine police work, he came to look on Danno as his little brother, even giving him a nickname to solidify the closeness.

 

In this hostage catastrophe, the dilemma gave the personal angles a strange dimension.  He was used to worrying about Danno’s life while on duty -- or off, he reminded grimly, thinking about the hospital debacle just weeks ago.  Now, he was concerned about Mary Ann’s life ending in a hail of bullets.

 

As well, he dreaded anything happening to Danno, just as he had always worried about Mary Ann after losing his father.  Losing another member of the family would devastate him -- and almost equally, he feared harm coming to his sister or his adopted brother.

 

Just now, especially, Mary Ann was so vulnerable after the death of her son.  How was she going to handle this horrible experience?  Physically, Danno was not in the best of shape. How was he going to hold up to the brutal treatment sure to be leveled at him?  As certainly as the sun came up every morning over Diamond Head, Williams was going to do everything and anything to keep Mary Ann safe.  Steve already knew that would include his young friend sacrificing his own life if needed.  How was he going to survive this if one of his loved ones did not come back alive?  What could he do to cope if Danno died saving Mary Ann?

 

After yet another futile discussion with Agent Harte, McGarrett paced the office, wondering what his next move should be.  The criminals had been gone for hours.  Every minute was a strike against the hostages.  It was a limbo of peril for his sister and friend.  What would Danno have to do to protect Mary Ann?  Hopefully, the criminals were intent on escape and not harming the hostages. 

 

The phone rang.  Steve answered it and heard Chin’s triumphant voice with vital information.  The wounded criminal was ID’d and had a name and a history.  And he had an address here on Oahu!  He lived on his boat at the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor!  He ordered Chin to meet him there.  Promising Tom he would be back, Steve raced out, despair starting to creep back into his thoughts.  This little bit of information was far too late.  The boat had to be their escape plan.  If so, the criminals were hours at sea already.  Plenty of time and nothing but room to dump two bodies.

 

 

**********

 

 

Dan slowly became cognizant of the scent of Plumeria blossoms, and then in sharp contrast to the pleasant smell, the coppery taste of blood in his mouth. He willed his eyes to open slightly, not moving any other part of his body, partially because of the pain that seemed to be emanating from places he didn’t know he could hurt. The other reason was the sense of foreboding with which he crept back into the land of the conscious. The horrible incident flooded back into his mind as he focused on his duct-tape-bound hands.

 

Suddenly, something shifted next to him, and he looked to his left. Mary Ann was looking at him, her eye brows furled in fear and concern. Mascara streaked down her face from now-dry tears. Her lower lip quivered slightly as almost-familiar blue eyes gazed at him. Dan studied her features, and recognized Steve in her expression, and for a reason he couldn’t comprehend at that moment, her presence comforted him. 

 

He realized that his head had been resting on the now-mangled-and-crushed plumeria lei on her shoulder. The poor woman, her disheveled red hair now fallen from the bun that she had so meticulously made that morning, looked exhausted, but did not appear to be injured – a fact which greatly relieved Dan. He tried to give her a reassuring smile, but the plan was interrupted by the sudden eruption of voices not too far off. The detective suddenly realized they were resting on the deck of a boat – what looked to be a cabin cruiser, no more than 25 feet long.

 

They could see the heads of two of their captors on the forward deck as they laughed loudly. The raspy, grating voice that Dan recognized as the younger Thore brother spoke.

 

“We’ll be in Brazil by next week!”  

 

Trying to ascertain the whereabouts of the others, he tried to shift to a sitting position as quietly as he dare. Burley – the one that had made such light work of manhandling the detective to the getaway car – stood at the aft end of the boat, his back to the prisoners, possibly watching for signs that they were being followed. A fourth man stood at the helm, his back also to the pair.

 

“How many?” Dan asked in the softest voice he could release.

 

Mary Ann glanced at him and wiggled four fingers of her hand. They’d picked up another guy – apparently the boat’s captain – somewhere along the way. He began working and twisting at the duct tape, and Mary Ann, observing what he was doing began to do the same. Of all the responsibilities he’d ever had, the life of Mary Ann Whalen – beloved only little sister of his boss – his mentor – his friend – weighed on him heavier than any he could ever remember.

 

Out at sea with brutal murderers, bound up with probably a broken rib or two and a concussion, the situation looked pretty grim. There was no reason for these brutal men to keep them alive much longer – and the Pacific Ocean – the perfect instant graveyard – was certainly convenient. He knew Steve was counting on him though, and he knew he would protect Mary Ann with every fiber of his being – or die trying.

 

“How long have we been at sea?”

 

Dan saw the sun was now below the horizon and realized that it had been at least five or six hours since he walked into the Five-0 offices. He looked over at his co-prisoner as she looked up to meet his gaze.

 

She thought for a moment, and then replied, “A few hours, I think, maybe more – I’m not sure where we’re going – I’m just a visitor to the islands.”

 

The last comment made Dan start a bit. It dawned on him that she did not know who he was!

 

Dan had heard so much about her in the horrible weeks following her son’s death. Steve had uncharacteristically truly needed to talk out his grief, and Dan had been the perfect listener during that time. After his initial, awkward reaction to his boss’s surprising emotional outburst and verbal assault on him the day his nephew died, he berated himself for not having been more supportive right then and there. He still wasn’t certain what he could have done to ease Steve’s pain, but whatever it was, he regretted he’d been unable to do anything more than listen without flinching.

 

After that, Dan had done his level best to be supportive, but Steve had made it very difficult after his initial tearful revelation to Dan in the office that evening. The head of Five-0 put up a shield around himself that made him seem distant and aloof to everyone – even the young man to whom he had revealed his tortured soul.

 

Dan had decided it was best not to push, but he was determined to be there when the man they called the Haole Hao – the man of steel – needed a friend to lean on.  He’d stayed late many evenings in his own office working, just so his boss would know that he was available to talk or just for company. On other occasions, he called or stopped by Steve’s apartment offering dinner companionship or a drive. Sometimes, Steve politely rebuffed him, and other times, he was less patient. Dan took each rejection in stride, although he did secretly find his own feelings a little hurt. He had after all come to enjoy the counsel and time that he alone seemed to rate in the eyes of Steve McGarrett. He’d even lost his most recent girlfriend over the numerous cancelled dates.

 

It had been worth it, Dan thought, especially after a landmark breakthrough one evening only a few weeks after Williams began his campaign of availability.

 

==========

The phone rang not twenty seconds after Dan Williams’ head hit the pillow. His eyes snapped open, and he took a couple of deep breaths before picking up the phone. He’d just returned from the scene of a car accident involving a vehicle that he’d placed on the APB list. His entire evening had been full of on-call-related activities, and Five-0’s youngest detective had been only too happy to drop exhausted onto his bed. It’s gonna be one of those nights, he thought to himself as he moaned out loud.

 

“Williams,” he said softly into the receiver as he observed his alarm clock settle on 1:30. When no response was immediately forthcoming, he shook off the sense that this was yet another call from the HPD watch officer, and became more alert. He spoke again, “Hello?”

 

“Danno…” The familiar voice sounded strained and tired.

 

“Steve,” was all the detective said, half expecting his boss to start rattling off instructions. And yet, his voice – there was something amiss.

 

“Busy?”

 

Dan sat up in bed with that bizarre inquiry, and ran his hand over the thick, sandy curls that blanketed his head. “Me? Busy? Nahh. As a matter of fact, I was just thinking of giving you a ring,” Dan quipped, realizing that his friend must be suffering terribly. “So, uh, are you up for some company?”

 

The sigh on the other end of the line was loud, and then came the reply, “Hmm, yeah, I guess I could put on some coffee.”

 

“Good – I’ll be over in a few…” Dan replied softly and just as casually as if it were a mid-day call instead of one placed at a time of obvious slumber.

 

After he hung up, he rubbed his face with both his hands and swallowed. Remembering the horrific evening that Steve had broken down in front of him alone, and confessed his anguish over being the one upon whom everyone leaned. The scene was burned into Dan’s brain, with the heat of terror. To witness a bedrock, upon which his life was now established, reveal vulnerability was life changing. With that knowledge came an epiphany to Dan. It became clear to him that NO human lives without support. Despite all of the strength this one-of-a-kind legend had, his life would be better if he knew he could count on somebody – really COUNT on somebody – to be there for support.

 

‘Steve needs to lean on someone, Williams, and he’s chosen you. Don’t screw up’.

 

As he rolled from the bed, and slipped back into the khaki slacks and navy blue polo shirt he’d just folded over a chair, he renewed his resolve to be there for the man that was there for so many others in their time of need.

 

The memory of the three hours he spent at Steve’s, being regaled with the tale of the Whalens gave him the sense that he himself knew them. And he had ached for his friend as Steve had confessed to being what he considered a less-than-attentive brother in recent years, visiting only two times since his nephew was born. And now, little Tommy was dead; the opportunity to make amends was gone. Dan could do nothing more than listen and empathize, but it had apparently been enough.

==========

 

Then Steve began to take him up on his entreaties to join him for dinner. The more time they spent together, Dan noted the more comfortable Steve became with sharing his past with him.

 

And now, here he sat, next to his friend’s only living flesh and blood, feeling a brotherly protectiveness for this lovely woman, to whom he was a perfect stranger. Why she probably wouldn’t recognize his name, much less think of him as anything more than a hapless courier who had blundered into a bad situation!

 

She’s completely surrounded by strange men – and she counts me among them! The thought disturbed him, and made him all the more anxious to let her at least know that he was a cop – a stranger, but a cop.

 

“We may have to go for a swim,” Dan breathed, as he glanced toward the man at the wheel.

 

All of the creeps seemed to have their guard down at this point, believing their guests were sheep that would die quietly with barely a bleet when it was their time.

 

Mary Ann trembled and shook her head. “I’d rather be shot.”

 

Dan flinched, the painful memory of his recent gunshot wound to his abdomen still too fresh in his mind. Surprised, he still responded quickly, “No – you wouldn’t.”

 

The young man’s tone sounded very authoritative, and almost reminded her of something her brother would say.

 

He pressed the issue because he could see no other way to keep them from getting shot and their bodies dumped into deep, “We might not have a choice. I’m sorry.”

 

She hesitated, and then she looked up at him. “I – I can’t swim.”

 

Dan would have been less surprised if she’d told him salt water would make her melt. Having been born and raised near the ocean, Dan could swim before he could walk, and the thought that there were people in the world that were not at home in the water always amazed him.

 

“You’ll have to go without me,” she said meekly.

 

Dan’s voice started a little louder, but quickly grew quiet again as he remembered their circumstance. “I’m not going anywhere without you. Now, don’t give up – we’ll get out of this somehow!”

 

Pleased and comforted by the young man’s spirit and supportive tone, she smiled for the first time in hours. “You sound just like my brother.”

 

Mary Ann had no idea of the monumental compliment she had just paid the detective. He felt himself blushing, and replied, “And just like your brother, I won’t let anything happen to you.”

 

She stopped moving for a moment and looked over at him. She felt better – still scared – but there was clearly someone in her corner, apparently very determined to help her make it back to her family.

 

“Well, Sleeping Beauty’s awake!”

 

Jeff Thore’s head was suddenly turned in their direction. The escapee and his middle-sized henchman edged their way from the foredeck along the side of the cabin and hopped onto the deck, where Dan and Mary Ann sat huddled together. Smiling, Thore looked cordial and friendly as he stepped closer and leaned down to grab the scared woman’s chin.

 

Dan reacted instantly and knocked his hand back. Middleman moved quickly and kicked him in the chest. He fell back hard against the railing behind him, gasping in pain.

 

Thore laughed, “Oh my, my! The little courier has some guts after all.” His smile suddenly turned into an unpleasant sneer, “No brains, but guts.  Shoot him and dump him.” He nodded at Burley, who’d observed the scene disinterestedly from his after perch. Thore continued, his comments now directed at Mary Ann, “We’ll hang onto to you for an hour or so.” He pulled her roughly to her feet, and drew her close to his face. “Then I’ll be able to write a letter to your cop brother about your last hour on earth!”

 

Rage over-rode the pain, and Dan sprang forward in a low charge, managing to hit the startled fiend in the stomach with his shoulder. Thore cried out in pain and fell backward, slamming his head with homerun hardness onto the metal trim of the bolted-down captain’s chair.

 

Burley, realizing the situation was getting a little out of hand jumped down onto the deck and looped an anchor chain twice around Dan’s neck from behind. All of Dan’s efforts to loosen the tape paid off when he was able to yank his right hand from its sticky bond. Rather than fighting against the chain, Dan unexpectedly flung himself backward, head butting the thug behind him. The crunch and the cry of pain told the adrenaline-filled detective that Burley’s facial bones or cartilage had taken a hit. He pressed his advantage, and threw himself back again. Both men would have gone over the rail together, but Middleman grabbed the chain that was still wrapped around the detective’s neck. Instead, only Burley flipped overboard into the churning water, and Dan was pulled forward toward Middleman and the man who’d been at the helm of the vessel.

 

Thore rose with difficulty to re-join in the fight, but Mary Ann, the realization hitting her that they were about to be killed, slipped up behind him and slammed a hard plastic buoy down onto his head with such force that the already unsteady man crashed back to the deck. She then retreated from the violent scene being played out before her to the back of the aft fishing platform. She didn’t think she could do anything else to help the poor courier as he struggled so valiantly with the others. Incongruously, her thoughts re-played his entrance into her brother’s office. The poor man came to collect a package!

 

‘I bet he never dreamed he would end up in a fight for his life,’ she mused. The tension grew inside her as she knew, without actually thinking the horrifying thought, that she was getting ready to learn to swim – or die.

 

The “captain” rammed the struggling officer in the stomach with both his fists. Dan expelled what felt like every bit of air in his body as his back slammed into the deck, but he willed his legs to rise up as the man lunged toward him. The charging figure was caught in the solar plexus by both of Dan’s feet. The detective pushed and lifted his enraged attacker into the air, and with a backward summersault motion, Dan managed to toss the man over his head and onto the anchor that could well have ended up around his neck. Hearing the crash and the anguished cry, the young man didn’t wait before struggling to his feet to shake free of the chain.

 

Thore, seeing the manic, almost animal-like rage and desperation in the face of his former prisoner, backed away from the approaching man, considering the best way to handle this troublemaking courier.

 

Dan, now freed from his metal bondage, began his move toward the retreating Thore, when a sharp, hot pain shot through his back. He turned to see a rapidly recovered and enraged “captain,” who was bleeding from a large gash that ran from his left nostril almost to his left ear. The 8-inch diving knife he wielded was wet with blood, and Dan knew just whose blood it was. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see that Burley had managed to climb back into the boat.

 

Sensing that Mary Ann was now at the aft end of the boat, not far from the inboard intake, he backed toward her as three of the four angry men stepped toward him, all now clearly bent on killing him with their bare hands.

 

“I thought you weren’t a hero,” Thore spat venomously at the slowly retreating detective.

 

“I might have been mistaken,” Dan shrugged almost imperceptibly as he replied, his eyes not leaving the angry trio sliding towards him.

 

Time for a swim lesson, Mary Ann, Dan thought as he braced himself for what was likely to be a rough swim. Backing until he made contact with the trembling woman, and dizzy with pain, he turned and joined her on the platform. With his left arm firmly around Mary Ann to guide her, the two plunged into the cool water.

 

Her resistance was palpable to Dan, but he knew that she must now know that possible death in the water would be far preferable to death at the hands of these fiendish animals.

 

The temperature kept him from fainting while he struggled to push them as deep into the water and as far from the boat as he could. The darkness falling was now a blessing as he realized that the goons left behind on the boat were firing into the water. He knew later, the blessing of the night would become a curse.

 

Mary Ann was in a full-blown panic, struggling to free herself, and Dan hated what he had to do, but it was the only way. He firmly clamped his hand over her nose and mouth to keep her from taking in what was un-breathable around them. His legs were strong and drove them almost ten feet under the water before he turned sharply to prevent the shooters from extrapolating their location. His struggling companion’s hands remained bound, but she still flailed and twisted like a creature possessed. Dan was determined though to do what had to be done. Releasing her to the surface before the gunfire had stopped would have meant almost certain death for her.

 

 

**********

 

Burley and the captain were firing their semi-automatic weapons into the water, not actually able to aim at anything, when Thore suddenly grabbed Burley’s hand.

 

“Hey, STOP! What are we firing for? There’s no way they’ll make it to the shore alive – the kid’s bleeding -- if you get my drift.”

 

The captain, the gaping wound in his face throbbing and blood trickling into his mouth and down his chin, looked at his associate – he wasn’t convinced. He wanted nothing more than to fill the guy who had done this to him full of holes.

 

Reading the man’s mind, Thore pressed, “What more fitting death than to be eaten alive by sharks, eh?”

 

The thought made the wounded man’s lips turn upward. The captain would’ve laughed, but his face hurt too much. Yeah, hopefully the sharks will get ‘em before they drown!

 

 

**********

 

Dan gasped as he came to the surface. The choppy water was making it impossible to get oriented, and the stab wound in his back was already making the officer feel nauseous. And the struggle with Mary Ann had depleted him for the moment. He could see the white hull of the boat, which was still no more than fifty feet away, but it appeared that his pursuers were no longer pursuing. He’d guessed that they knew he wouldn’t make it back to shore alive anyway. His thoughts turned to Mary Ann Oh, God! Have I drowned her?? His arm was wrapped around her shoulders, and he moved her gently to where she was floating on her back., making sure to keep her head above the water. She was breathing and showed signs of stirring. Dan began speaking gently to her, reassuring her that they would be fine.

 

‘If sharks, hypothermia, or blood loss don’t get us first,’ he continued sarcastically to himself.

 

He tried to spot land on the horizon, but found it difficult to see more than a hundred feet. The rolling swells were making it rough to see much of anything from their sea-level perspective. Next, he looked skyward to see if he could spot a familiar star, but the sky was overcast. Not even a hint at where the moon might be.

 

His head was throbbing. His vision was blurred and his eyes burned. He cursed to himself in frustration. DAMN the clouds! DAMN the waves! DAMN his eyes! DAMN the pain in his back! Think, Williams, think! Where do you KNOW you last were? How did we get to the boat? How long were we really on the boat? Full circle back to DAMN again, he thought. Maybe we can float until daybreak. Yeah, I should be more buoyant without blood, his typical gallows humor crept into his thoughts.

 

An errant wave suddenly smacked him in the face, and he coughed to get the liquid out of his mouth and throat. Mary Ann began to choke as well and suddenly began struggling to become vertical again.

“Easy, Mary Ann, easy! It’s okay! We made it! We’re okay,” Dan said desperately trying to keep her from flying into an all-out panic again. He wasn’t sure he had the strength to prevent her from drowning them both at this point. He continued in an attempt to keep her calm. “Just relax – I’ve got you, and I won’t let you get hurt. I promise. Are you with me?”

 

Still clearly terrified, she couldn’t stop the tears and sputtering, and was unable to do much more than kick since her hands were still secured by the rapidly loosening tape. She studied the face of her partner in misery. His eyes were calm and his look reassuring and confident.

 

As soon as he saw that he had her attention, he spoke again, “Mary Ann, you need to slow your breathing down and try to relax. You’re hyperventilating, and that’s gonna make you dizzy, so let’s take some slow deep breaths.” The authority with which the young man spoke calmed her a bit, and she did her best to slow her breathing.

 

“You won’t let go of me?”

 

“I will not let go of you.”

 

“No matter what?”

 

“No matter what. Now, I don’t want you to be afraid – I’m going to turn you around so that your back is on my chest. That way, I can get the tape off your hands. I won’t let go of you, so don’t worry, okay?”

 

She nodded timidly and let the detective gently spin her to face away from him. With his arms under hers for support, he was able to gently peel the imprisoning tape away from her soft, little, very-un-McGarrett-like hands.

 

She felt a little better, more secure, wrapped in this man’s arms. She no longer had the sense that she was sinking. But she was having trouble that she was a little embarrassed to voice to a young man that she did not know – even in such a dire circumstance.

 

“Umm, I’m having a little difficulty kicking – it’s my panty hose. They’re slipping.”

 

The admission gave Dan pause for not more than a second. “It’ll be easier for you if we get them off. Can I help you?”

 

She couldn’t help but smile at the bizarre situation as she responded, “I don’t see any other way.”

 

He nodded even though she couldn’t see him, “I’m gonna turn you back around to face me so that you can put your hands around my neck. Then, I’m gonna peel them off, okay?”

 

“Okay – now you know, you can’t just tug at them from the toe – you have to start with the elastic at the – the top,” she instructed as he gently floated her around to face him.

 

“I know,” he said, a shy smile crossed his lips as they’re eyes met. He’d dealt with panty hose more than once on much more pleasant occasions than this. “Pardon my hands,” he said as he reached up under her dress and grabbed the restricting elastic.

 

He made quick work of sliding the hose down her legs, with Mary Ann lifting each leg so that he could reach her toes without taking her head under water – something he was very careful to avoid. He stuffed the hose in the waistband of his swim trunks, knowing that they could well come in handy at some point.

 

“What are we going to do?” Mary Ann asked, almost as if she thought that Dan must have a plan. He’d gotten them this far, hadn’t he?

 

Dan sighed – he didn’t have a good answer. Here the pair were, floating in the darkness, in a swell-filled ocean, drizzle falling on their heads. Dan was treading water for both of them, bleeding from a stab wound to the back that was probably six or seven inches deep, with no sense as to the direction of the nearest land mass. It seemed like a lot to overcome to the detective, who wasn’t entirely certain how badly he was injured. But he thought of Steve and Tom. They must be going nuts right now with Mary Ann dragged off by those scum bags! He mused as he looked down into her expectant eyes. She trusted him with her life, and with that knowledge, he felt himself somewhat renewed in his determination to see them through this mess alive. He swore to himself that he would return Mary Ann to Tom and Steve. 

 

“Well, I – uh haven’t got all the kinks worked out of my plan, but we’re gonna be fine,” he responded. How that was going to happen would have to be revealed to him, he hoped, soon. Exhaustion and the fear of swimming further out to sea made him decide that the best course of action would be to conserve energy.  “First things first.  Let’s talk about buoyancy and why you don’t have to worry about sinking,” Dan said, only too cognizant of the fact that he might not be able to stay conscious to keep her floating.

 

 

**********

 

 

It was dark when he reached the harbor. The normal spectacular, multi-hued tropical sunset had been obscured by a mild storm front that moved in during the course of the afternoon.  Despite the slightly inclement weather, the boats off shore of Waikiki -- big ships and little catamarans -- were littering the horizon with their dinner cruises.  He slammed to a halt in the parking lot of the harbor and jogged to a slip where Chin was waiting. An empty slip. Just as he had feared.

 

Too late to institute a search operation with the Coast Guard, McGarrett ordered Kono to check the marina authorities for records of departures. HPD helped interview boat owners at nearby slips, but only a few were on their boats. Many boats were gone due to the popularity of sunset sails.

 

McGarrett contacted his friend Sergeant Duke Lukela with HPD, and had him bring in a special team of officers.  Sergeant Chip Malone and his partner Moe -- his four-legged partner -- searched the dock area.  Moe, trained as a K-9 defensive partner, was also a talented search-and-rescue asset.  He reacted to the scents of both Mary Ann and Williams at the slip.  It confirmed Steve’s fears that his sister and his friend were somewhere aboard a boat in the Pacific with three hardened murderers.

 

McGarrett left Tom asleep on the office couch that night.  Exhausted from frayed nerves and anxiety, McGarrett’s system was still racing with the passion to find his loved ones.  Outer islands were alerted to the description of the boat they were looking for. The law enforcement community on Oahu was still searching, but Steve was guessing they were going somewhere safer, and maybe catch a plane out of Maui or Kauai -- both close -- and avoid Honolulu altogether.  His men were still going through details of the Thores’ records, and their friends. 

 

With no patience for tedious detail work, Steve went in another direction.  Dropping in at the prison hospital, he bullied his way in for an interview with Taggart Stuart, the wounded criminal.  Harte and Fischer had failed to leave any documentation banning him from talking with Stuart.  The man was in Federal custody, but not going anywhere.  With the nature of the crime that had just been perpetrated on Hawaiian soil, McGarrett wasn’t certain he would allow any of them to leave.  For the time begin anyway, he had carte blanche in his opinion.

 

McGarrett learned from the doctor that Stuart’s gunshot wound was in the upper chest.  Painful, with a loss of blood, but not life threatening.  As he walked into the prison ward, McGarrett checked out the other occupied beds at a glance, mindful of the guard at his back.  He wouldn’t have much time in here. If anyone reported this to the FBI, he would be yanked out of here in a flash. Casually, he stood at Stuart’s bedside for a moment, keeping his body between the guard and the prisoner.

 

“Stuart.”  The command was low, but hard.  The man, handcuffed to the bed railing, snapped his eyes open.  “We’re going to have a little conversation.”

 

The man smiled wickedly, showing off several gaps in the teeth.  “Yeah, cop?  About what?  I ain’t telling you nothin’.  You’re the same as the Feds.  And I don’t talk to stinkin’ cops no matter what the flavor.”

 

Edging closer, McGarrett stood next to the man, eyeing the bandaged chest.  “Well I’m not interested in evidence for court, Stuart.  And I don’t care about your constitutional rights.  Your friends abducted two people from my office today.  I intend to get them back in one piece.  You’re going to tell me where Thore and the gang are going.  What are their plans?  Who are they meeting?  Where are they hiding out?  In return, I’ll leave you alone.”

 

Stuart laughed.  “You think big talk like that is gonna scare me, cop?”

 

“No.” 

 

Steve stepped forward and in a quick movement twisted the bedclothes tightly around Stuart’s neck.  Still shielding his actions from the guard, he used his right hand to press down on the criminal’s wound.  The man wriggled, his eyes shutting from the agony.  Steve pushed his body against the man’s hand so the cuffs would not rattle as the man shook in pain.

 

“You nod your head when you’re ready to tell me everything I need to know.”  His voice was calm – almost pleasant – but the steely determination was hard for the prisoner to miss.

 

Forcefully, he jabbed with extra might against the bandages. Blood started to seep through the white swaths. Steve knew he should have been appalled by his actions.  This was so unlike him, but he knew he had never been pressed to the wall like this before. Precious hours had slipped by and his sister and friend could be dead already.  But normal channels would not work.  Police procedure was not enough. In good conscience -- the conscience of his heart -- he could not allow this man to lay here with the vital information needed to save those he loved. This might cost him his job.  He didn’t care. The lives at stake here were far more important to him than his career.

 

Stuart nodded, finally, and McGarrett released his pressure on the wound.  He waited a moment for the thrashing to cease and Stuart to regain some breath as he slowly loosed his strangle hold. 

 

“If you don’t tell me exactly what I want to know the next phase will be worse. If you alert the guard, you’re going to be sorry. He won’t be able to save you.  Do you believe me?”

 

The eyes were filled with hatred, tears and fear. Stuart nodded.

 

McGarrett released the tight cloth.  “Where is Thore going?  I want exact locations and I want it quick.  Don’t waste my time with trivial extras.  Where is he going?”

 

Kauai,” Stuart gasped.  “Some little boat dock on the north shore.  Away from the resorts.  A pal of Thore’s uses it sometimes.”  He took a shaky breath.  “They’re gonna lay low till things cool down.  Then they’re gonna meet a freighter.  Don’t know the exact coordinates. They’re catching a freighter to Hong Kong.”

 

“Well their travel plans have just changed.”  He stabbed his finger toward the man and the guy flinched, backing into the corner of the bed.  “And if you don’t want me to tell them who spilled the information on them, then you’re not going to share this little visit with Harte or Fischer, are you?”

 

The hate still sizzled in his eyes, but it was overpowered by the residual pain.  He gave a tight shake of his head.  Without another thought to the scum, Steve wheeled around and nearly jogged from the room.  They had a location. There was a good chance the hostages were still alive and held there in Kauai as insurance against capture.  For the first time in the ordeal he felt a solid, real sense of hope. He really believed, in a few hours, he would be reunited with his sister and Danno.

 

 

**********

 

“You’re doing great! You’re a natural!”

 

“Don’t let go of my hand!”

 

“I won’t let go!”

 

“I’m so tired. Can I float with you again for awhile?”

 

He brought his legs underneath him, and pulled her over so that she could rest against his chest.

 

“How deep do you think the water is?” The blackness of the water added to her sense that they were hovering over a vast, bottomless pit.

 

“Oh, it’s not more than seven feet, I’m sure,” Dan replied teasingly, and then changing the subject, “Mary Ann, why didn’t you ever learn to swim?”

 

“I fell out of a row boat in a city lake when I was four. If it hadn’t been for my brother jumping in after me, I would’ve drowned. After that, there was just nothing – nothing short of brutal murderers chasing me out of a boat – that could get me into anything deeper than a bathtub.”

 

Despite their peril, she marveled that she was actually floating in the ocean, which was no doubt much deeper than seven feet! A perplexing thought struck her, and she lifted her head from her new friend’s shoulder. “How do you know my name?”

 

Dan smiled. Steve had summoned him from the North Shore, he was certain, because his sister had dropped in from the mainland unexpectedly, and he needed him to take over the proceedings with the Thore brothers. The whole puzzling thread of events was slowly falling into place.

 

“Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Detective Danny Williams. I work for—” the woman’s reaction to his statement was immediate and palpable.

 

She gasped so loudly that Dan stopped speaking, wondering if she was okay. A smile and then a laugh came forth. The detective was uncertain as to the source of her mirth. Then, oddly, tears began to flow, even through the laughter.

 

“Are you alright?” Dan was growing concerned, his eye brows furled.

 

“Danny! I’m so happy to meet you. Steve talks about you so often. I’m afraid he’d be lost without you.”

 

The news filled Dan with emotion. He didn’t picture Steve being lost without him – that was a woman reading between the lines – but the thought that his boss spoke of him on occasion to his sister pleased him for a reason he couldn’t quantify.

 

“You don’t look so happy,” Dan responded to Mary Ann’s tears. It was futile in the sloshing water and drizzle, but she went through the motion of drying her face with the back of her hand.

 

“I was just thinking about Stephen. He has to be crazy with worry right now,” she said softly, laying her head back down on his shoulder.

 

Dan nodded, “Yeah. His baby sister kidnapped out of his office.”

 

She was tired, but she had to lift her again to make eye contact, “AND his little brother.”

 

Dan knew in his heart that her words rang true, but to hear the words spoken as if the observation was obvious struck a chord deep in Williams’ soul. His friend had invested an incredible amount of his valuable time in him professionally and personally. The thought that Steve felt an emotional kinship with him (one that was reciprocated) gave the detective a sense he’d found his place in the world.

 

His only living relative, Aunt Clara, loved him dearly, but she lived a world away, and they had very little in common. He did his level best to call her weekly, but often as not, one or the other of them was too busy to talk for more than a few minutes. Every year, he promised himself that he would try to be a better nephew, but time always seemed to work against him.

 

To have a brother – was it envy he’d felt earlier?  Not any more. 

 

 

**********

 

 

In the early hours of the morning, before dawn, Kauai PD, Five-0 officers and the FBI agents crept through the thick ferns surrounding a small cabin on the beach of Hawaii’s northern-most island.  The boat was tied to the small dock just past the thick strip of sand.  Feeling a tension and anticipation that nearly made his nerves dance just under the skin, Steve held his revolver with a tight grip.

 

The FBI, issuing flack jackets and rifles to the team, gave the signal to move in.  Two teams hit the front and back doors simultaneously.  Powerful flashlights and flood lights from outside snapped on as the doors crashed in under the assault of the heavily armed party. There were several bodies on cots in the big main room and two of them sat up instantly, firing pistols blindly at the intruders.  Both men went down in a rain of multiple bullets.

 

“Watch it!” Steve shouted above the yells for surrender, the gunfire, the tramping of feet.  “There are hostages here!”

 

The other two criminals, Thore included, raise their hands in surrender.  They were roughly dumped on the floor, cuffed and searched.  Steve raced through the other small rooms in the cabin -- a bathroom, kitchen and small bedroom.  No Mary Ann.  No Danno.  No sign of the prisoners.  Sweeping back into the main room, Steve wedged past Harte and grabbed Thore by the front of his T-shirt.  He slammed the criminal into the wall.

 

“Where are they?  Where are the hostages you took?”

 

The FBI men pulled him off and he fought back like an enraged tiger, breaking free and attacking the criminal again.  It was only then he noted abrasions and wounds on the man -- injuries he had not had while in Five-0 custody.  Again subdued, this time by four members of the tactical team, McGarrett was breathlessly restrained as he shouted demands to Thore. 

 

The criminal glared at him.  “Had a good time with them before they became shark bait,” he smiled.  “Your sister,” he laughed.  “I’ll tell you all about it, McGarrett.  And the cocky kid.  Bled like a pig when we opened him up.”

 

“That’s enough,” Harte said, glancing at the infuriated McGarrett and sneering with distaste at the prisoner. “What did you do with them, Thore?”

 

“We dumped them in the ocean.”

 

“Looks like they gave pretty well back.  Musta been the spunky kid,” the FBI man guessed with satisfied amusement.  “Is that a broken nose, Thore?”

 

“Shut up.”

 

Steve might have been physically restrained, but his vile was unleashed verbally at the thugs and at the FBI.  Beside himself with grief and terror in equal parts, he could not imagine Thore was telling the truth.  This could not be the end.  The final hours of his sister were spent in torture and horror?  And Danno, what had they done to him?  He couldn’t bring himself to imagine the possibilities.

 

“Get them out of here,” Harte ordered.  He gave a nod to his men and McGarrett was released only after the criminals were removed.  “Cool off, McGarrett.  There’s nothing you can do now. It’s over.”

 

Kono and Chin were both nearby and they stood silently as McGarrett composed himself.  They shifted their gazes uncomfortably, not certain what they could do to comfort their boss – a man who had -- until Williams came on board – taken comfort from no one.

 

Devastated in their own right at what was shaping up to be the loss of one of their own, they both knew there would be no easy way to make this man accept that he had just lost his only sister and the man who was becoming known to the entire island law enforcement community as McGarrett’s “right hand.”  Both men knew, without so much as a word exchanged between them, that they would have to let the agonizing situation play out as their tortured leader would have it unfold.

 

Steve could not accept they were dead. Why would the cowardly thugs dump valuable hostages into the ocean before they made a clear escape?  It didn’t make sense.  In the back of his mind, a latent fear rose -- the worry he had harbored all along -- that Danno was a danger to himself more than anyone else in such a situation.  He would have fought like a madman to protect Mary Ann.  Had it been a futile sacrifice in the end?  It seemed so.  What could one bound Five-0 officer -- even with all the determination in the world -- do against four armed and vicious killers?

 

Not wanting to dwell on agonizing speculation, Steve looked over the shoulders at the officers inspecting the small cottage.  There was no obvious sign of the hostages ever having been here.  But there might be something on the boat. His men followed and they trooped out to the dock.  With flashlights they carefully searched the boat. Not moving anything, they easily identified large splashes of blood on the deck and side of the boat.  Duct tape strips -- several -- with dark smears were found.  As if Danno and Mary Ann had managed to free themselves maybe?  The plumeria lei Mary Ann had worn was there, too, crushed and torn. 

 

Was Thore lying?  Had Danno managed to get them free?  There was a fight.  Danno had not gone down without a hell of a struggle.  Maybe he had not gone down at all.  Maybe he had freed himself and Mary Ann and gone overboard voluntarily?  Mary Ann couldn’t swim, he mentally reminded with a chill of fear. But Danno was an expert. The uncertain dangers of the ocean as opposed to certain death at the hands of the criminals?  Yeah, Danno would choose that long-shot.  He lived every day banking on long-shots on the job.  And he was crazy enough, confident enough in his abilities as an athlete, to make such an escape work for him.

 

Steve stood over the pool of blood and walked the trail across the deck to the rail.  Following the path, he stared out at the dark sea.  Were his sister and the friend he considered his brother out there waiting to be rescued?  Or had they truly been brutalized and murdered before being dumped in the sea?  Faith in his man told him to believe in the best hope. Believe in his friend. They were bound by emotions deeper than he could fathom, as if they were really the same blood, the same under the skin.  Deep down, in the deepest part of the heart -- the soul -- they were the same.  And Steve knew that he had to give his friend the benefit of the doubt and believe he was alive and he had kept Mary Ann alive.

 

Sharply, he turned on his heels.  “Come on,” he ordered his men as he leaped over the side and onto the dock.  “We’re going back to Honolulu. I think Thore is lying. I think Danno escaped and he and Mary Ann went into the water to get free.”

 

“Sounds like a pupule thing he would do,” Kono agreed without surprise.  “But how we gonna find them, boss?”

 

“We’re going to get the Coast Guard to get everything out on the water and in the air.  And HPD, too.  Danno bought a long-shot chance for him and Mary Ann.  I’m not going to blow it.  We have to do everything we can to find them.”

 

 

**********

 

 

The waves had been beating against them for a couple of hours Dan guessed. The exhausted detective felt certain that blood loss was taking its toll on him as well. Never give up. Never give up. He whispered his mantra to himself. How he hated to broach the subject with Mary Ann, but there was just no good alternative. He didn’t think he could stay conscious much longer.

 

“Mary Ann?” He touched the back of her head, and she looked up at him as he continued, “I don’t want you to be upset, but we’ve got a little problem.” He could feel her body tense as she spoke.

 

“You mean besides floating in a dark ocean with no sign of land?”

 

He sighed, “Yeah, besides that.” He actually felt less pain than he’d felt earlier, the cool water numbing his skin, but he knew he was markedly weaker by the minute.  “Back on the boat, when I was fighting with those creeps—“ He paused, and Mary Ann jumped ahead to the logical conclusion.

 

She burst out, “You’re hurt, aren’t you?” 

 

He nodded, “One of ‘em managed to get a knife into my back.” 

 

She gasped, now remembering the scene.  Her own fear of the anticipated watery escape had made her completely forget the brutal struggle that had transpired.

 

He added, “And I think I might have a concussion to boot.”

 

A large tear left the corner of her eye and traveled slowly down her cheek, but she answered in an almost clinical tone. “Let me feel.”

 

She cautiously ran her hand under his arm and around his back. Just below his right shoulder blade, she felt an open wound, about two inches wide. As her fingers hovered over the area not quite touching, she could feel warmth. Knowing it was blood slowly leaving its host, she pressed down to see if she could seal it off. Dan flinched and groaned, almost pulling away from her in the process.

 

Panicking for a moment, she grabbed him around the neck and pulled near to him. She’d hurt him and he was reeling from the pain.

 

“I’m sorry,” she cried.

 

‘Listen to me,” His voice was decidedly weaker as he spoke, “You can float – you must remember that. You don’t need me to float.”

 

 

**********

 

 

The FBI had interrogated Thore, and -- no surprise -- he had not changed his tune.  McGarrett was not going to bother trying.  His job was out here, pushing the search effort.  His forceful attitude -- a familiar McGarrett trait that Tom was more than used to -- helped his brother-in-law steady himself.  Tom believed there was hope, but wouldn’t go so far as to voice a belief that Mary Ann was alive. Just months ago they had lost their baby. His world was pretty rocky right now.  Well, Steve was going to restore his faith.

 

“Danno saved them,” he told Tom matter-of-factly as he waited for confirmation of the resources that the Coast Guard would be bringing to bear as soon as it was light enough.

 

Tom, tapping nervously on the side of his empty coffee cup, almost smiled.  “You keep saying things like that, Steve.  I’ve never heard you speak so highly of anyone.  I wish I could share your faith.”

 

“Try, Tom.”

 

Whalen shook his head.  “It’s hard after what we’ve been through.  I can’t imagine losing Mary Ann.  She’s so much a part of me.  And I know, you feel the same, but I can’t explain how close we are.  Losing Tommy could have destroyed us, but it bonded us.  The adversity made us closer, made our feelings deeper.  Maybe because we knew how precious and fragile life is and how easy it is to lose those you love. I guess I’m afraid to believe I could lose her – but afraid to hope too much.”  He covered his face with his hand.  “I’m not making any sense.”

 

Near tears, Steve could not voice how much Tom had been so right on target.  He thought back to his father’s death, his mother’s death.  How close those events pulled him to his sister.  They had survived the grief together.  Then he thought of only weeks ago when Danno was trapped at the end of a hospital corridor bleeding to death.  He had thought he was losing the man he’d accepted as his protégé, the friend whom he’d adopted as his brother. 

 

Tom’s words hit home with a force that shivered through to his marrow.  He had fought like a madman to save Danno.  He had to. There was no choice.  Now, there was no choice.  He could not believe he would lose two people who filled most of the space in his heart.  He trusted that given the chance, Danno was fighting just as hard to stay alive and keep Mary Ann alive because he felt the same. They were like family. Ohana. All of them bonded by cords of loyalty and love. Danno would not let him down. 

 

Again the lance of fear raced through him -- that Danno would do anything to save Mary Ann.  Even at the expense of his life.  Don’t let that happen, he silently pleaded.  What would he do if his friend didn’t come out of this?  He thought of the comments by Thore.  The blood on the boat deck.  The overwhelming trait within Williams to do anything for him.  He closed his eyes, praying his friend was still alive.

 

Save yourself, Danno. For me, come out of this alive.’

 

 

**********

 

She wept and buried her face in his shoulder, “I don’t want to float without you.” 

 

He squeezed her arm and responded hoarsely, “Think of Tom. Think of your brother.  Think of Steve.  He can go on without me, but to lose you like this – he’d never be the same.”

 

She looked up at him and blinked, trying to gauge the depth of his belief in the remark. He looked down at her as he brought his hand up to swipe some tendrils of hair from her cheek. His gentle, protective demeanor brought Steve to mind AGAIN. Her intuition told her that her brother was right about this man. Men! How can they be so oblivious! She pondered briefly, but suspected she would never know.

 

“Danny, we BOTH have to make it out of this! He’d miss me, but you’re the one who makes the difference for him every day. You’re what’s right in his world. I can hear it in his voice every time I talk to him. Now, please, don’t talk to me about floating alone,” she implored.

 

Dan so wanted to lay his head back onto something solid. He was tired, so tired, and wished he had the clearness of thought to ponder more plainly what she was saying before he had to answer.  Steve really talked about him like that? 

 

There was more he wanted to hear about -- Steve’s life in the early years.  What he was like -- there wasn’t time or energy now.  With sickening soberness, he knew his time was running out.  He thought about how crazy Steve had been over the hospital ordeal.  He had scared Kono and Chin with almost unbalanced rage at the hostage situation.  What would Steve do if he died?  He had no control over that, he knew, as he struggled to keep his eyes open and his grip on Mary Ann.  All he could do now was try to save this important woman in his arms.

 

“We may not have a choice.” The reality of it was a harsh one, but to not prepare her for what was probably to come could mean her death.  “I need to tell you something,” Dan hesitated slightly, suddenly filled with regret for things that had been left unsaid between him and Steve.

 

Maybe he could tell Mary Ann what he couldn’t tell her brother – something that he desperately wanted Steve to know if he was never to see him again. Perhaps one day, she would be able to share with Steve what had been in his heart – what two guys just don’t say to each other very often, no matter how much they care.

 

“There is nothing on this planet that I wouldn’t do for Steve. He helped and supported me right from the first time we met. For some reason I’ll never understand, he saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. And he’s helped me everyday to become a better person. If I die out here tonight, knowing that Mary Ann Whalen, much beloved sister of Steve McGarrett, will do what she has to in order to return to her family and live a happy, productive life, I will die happy.”  Dan could feel the emotion threatening to choke him, and Mary Ann’s teary countenance was no help.

 

She was overwhelmed – at the mutual respect and love that these two men shared, at the willingness of each to put the other’s needs ahead of his own. She was happy, even in the face of their terrible circumstance, that her big brother had at last found a kindred spirit from whom he was willing to accept support and comfort. Even as she rejoiced for her brother, she was tragically sad because she could see that Dan was trying to convey to her some final words of comfort for Steve.

 

“I want you to thank Steve for me, and tell him that I have no regrets.” Dan touched the woman’s face, her lips quivering, more from crying than the chill she felt. The need to reassure this poor woman crept back into his being. She had endured so much in the past year. “You’ll be alright. Please don’t give up.”

 

Mary Ann found herself heaving sobs against his chest again for a few moments until she regained enough of her composure to respond. “I won’t give up. I’ll float.”

 

The conviction in her voice relaxed the weak detective, “Atta girl.”

 

Suddenly, he gasped with fright as he felt a rough brush against his calf. The sudden tension in Dan’s body alerted Mary Ann to some unseen danger. He scanned the surrounding water, knowing he was being sized up by a shark for a midnight snack. His heart pounded as there was another brush against his leg, and then something hard slammed against his head! The jarring collision made Mary Ann scream. He kicked quickly to turn and identify the large object that had approached so them so stealthily. Still gripping his charge in his left arm, he rubbed his right hand along the side of the large floating mass. It was slimy and hard, wood perhaps? Whatever it was, it was floating.

 

“Well, it’s not a yacht, but the deck’s not underwater,” his teeth chattered. “We need to get you out of the water.” His tone sounded suddenly desperate to her, and she wondered at his renewed sense of urgency. He pulled her in front of him and instructed her to lift herself up onto the platform.

 

“On three,” he instructed. She nodded and reached her hands onto the top of the object as best she could.

 

“One…Two…Threeeeee!”

 

Dan pushed with his arms and kicked with every bit of strength he could summon, pushing her upward. He didn’t know whether it was enough when he sank back into the water, but the pain in his back was enough to make him black out. For a few moments, he let the current tug his body in a direction he knew he didn’t want to go. Then, the thought of leaving Mary Ann on the open seas alone made him shake off the false sense of peace that came over him momentarily. He somehow summoned the will to kick his way back to the surface. The floating object now was about ten feet away.

 

“Danny! Danny! Don’t leave me!” He looked in the direction of the voice, and willed himself into action. His arms were numb and his back was on fire, so it took him longer than he would’ve liked to maneuver his way back to Mary Ann. There were definitely sharks milling around his legs again.

 

“I’m coming – Stay there!” He coughed between painful breaths of air. He didn’t know how long it took, but he eventually managed to grab onto the side of the “thing” again. Next problem – how to get me out of the water! This is getting depressing.

 

 

**********

 

 

At dawn, McGarrett lifted off in the Coast Guard chopper from Barber’s Point.  A vessel and a recon plane were launching at approximately the same time.  It had taken a lot of persuasion to convince the Commander of the Coast Guard to commence the all out search.  Two people, one or both wounded, overboard in the middle of the night -- it was a near hopeless scenario.  It was obvious the Commander did not expect to find them.  If they managed to stay afloat at all it wouldn’t have been for long.  It was unlikely they had lived until this morning.  Between the exhaustion, injuries and the sharks there seemed little chance they could survive.

 

Odds did not factor into the equation as far as McGarrett was concerned.  And Five-0 and the Coast Guard had worked together long enough for the officers to know this was not a personal whim.  McGarrett would extend any effort and often pushed other agencies to do the same.  This could not be an exception.

 

The light peeking over the meniscus of the ocean brought the first wave of optimism that Steve had felt since the ordeal began.  As he and Tom looked out the open door of the huge Coast Guard helicopter, Steve had only a glancing appreciation for the stunning morning in paradise. Much more bright and energizing was the thought that this day would bring him back together with those he loved.  Search teams were scouring the Pacific between Kauai and Oahu.  The main bulk of the force would be concentrating close to Oahu.  He WOULD bring Mary Ann and Danno home today.

 

 

**********

 

Dan had discovered that their floating thing was a giant crate of some sort. He had decided that it must’ve fallen from a ship. He had been able to find a support beam that ran between opposite points on one of the sides. Although slippery, with Mary Ann’s assistance, he was finally able to get his body on top of the crate. He lay there on his stomach, breathing heavily. He would not have expected a cold, slimy wooden surface would feel so good, but it did.

 

Mary Ann huddled against him as she was able to get her first visual inspection, albeit a shadowy one, of the stab wound in Dan’s back. Blood trickled slowly, but consistently from the gory opening. She reached around him, and gently pulled her panty hose from Dan’s waistband.

 

“I need my panty hose,” she said softly through chattering teeth, feeling the need to hear a voice more than the need to explain herself.

 

Dan, unmoving, mumbled, “Don’t get dressed on my account.”

 

“I’m going to try to make a little pressure bandage,” she responded. “This may hurt a little, but I have to do it.”

 

Dan didn’t respond until she began applying pressure to his back. He groaned, but knew the bleeding needed to be controlled. She lay down next to him, and kept her hand firmly on the balled-up hosiery, praying that what little she could do might make a difference.

 

Mary Ann’s physical discomfort would not allow her to lay down for long. She sat up and scanned the dark horizon for any lights or other signs that land might be nearby.  For the first time since they’d been in the water, her eyes could make out something – what she wasn’t certain, but it was white. She hated to wake her sleeping partner, but there was no other answer.

 

“Danny? Danny?”

 

The still form took an uncomfortably long time before he stirred at the woman’s voice, “Hmmm?” He could barely bring himself to reply.

 

“There’s something white on the horizon!” She couldn’t keep the excitement out of her voice.

 

Even the “good” news was slow to bring the detective to a waking state. Pain seemed to leap from every cell in the castaway detective’s body – even the numb parts. His thought process seemed mired in tar. A gradual recollection of where he must be and how he got there sank in. Mary Ann repeated her news just in case Dan had not heard her. Try as he might, he could not suppress his cries of pain as he moved his body to a sitting position. He sat there for a moment, with his helpless-but-sympathetic companion squeezing his shoulder, noticing in the process that their haven from the water was listing. It wouldn’t be long before they’d be back in the water. His eyes burned as though the darkness was too bright, and he realized he’d been asleep for a short while anyway.

 

Other senses began to kick in as he recognized the wave action was tossing them more roughly than it had been, and he was hearing a familiar sound in the distance! Mary Ann, wrapped around his shoulder like a blanket, was pointing to something. His blurred vision could make out the white line that he established as crashing surf! Were they close to land? Why couldn’t he make out any features? What else would make the waves break like that?

 

“Are we near land?” Mary Ann asked desperately.

 

Dan studied the scene for a few moments before the answer came to him. He could see that the current was carrying them toward the surf rapidly now.

 

“Not exactly,” he wished he didn’t have to explain, but knew he owed the frightened woman the benefit of an explanation. “I think we might be on one side of one of the atolls that are halfway between Oahu and Kauai.”

 

His guess was based on a lifetime’s experience in the waters around his beloved islands, and on the assumption that their captors had been heading either to Kauai or Maui when they parted company. There were no geological features that would cause surf action between Oahu and Maui, but just south of the regularly-traveled sea lanes between Oahu and Kauai, was a small atoll. In high tide, small, pleasure vessels could pass over it without ever knowing it was there. But in low tide, the atoll became a hard-to-see, jagged outcropping of volcanic rock that could sink an unwary captain.

 

“It must be low tide,” Dan mused as he studied their situation. Of course, he thought bitterly.

 

There would be no soft landing for them. On the bright side, the likelihood of being consumed by creatures of the deep had just diminished dramatically. Wave action now became the top contender for means of death.

 

“I’m sorry, Mary Ann, it’s about time for your next swim lesson.”

 

Dan’s voice had no humor when he said it, and she knew there was no choice. Trying to find a shred of hope in his voice, she asked, “Will we be able to wait for help on the atoll?”

 

“For a little while,” Dan said softly, if we make through the surf, he completed the thought silently. Then, aloud, he finished the answer.  “Until the tide comes in.” He looked over at her dashed expression and thought to bolster her spirits again.  “That’ll give us a few hours anyway. By then, Steve will be here.”

 

She let a smile slip out. “Your faith is amazing.”

 

“Not so amazing if I know my McGarretts. He’s working right now to find us, and he won’t stop until he does.”

 

Dan said it as much for himself as for Mary Ann. They had to believe that help was on the way. Dan further explained to her that they were going to have to jump from their makeshift raft before they hit the surf. The crate would become a hazard when it splintered on the rocks. She nodded timidly, accepting his expertise on the subject without question.

 

They carefully rose to their feet on the unsteady deck, and with Mary Ann’s hand wrapped tightly in his, he looked at her and said, “You are one tough lady, Mrs. Whalen.”

 

Shaking in anticipation, she smiled, determination to live filling her.  “And you are one amazing cop, Detective Williams.”

 

A last meaningful look exchanged, Dan pulled her to the edge of the crate, and they jumped into the water.

 

The next few minutes were the most physically harrowing of Mary Ann’s life. With her arms wrapped tightly around Dan’s neck in abject terror, all she could do was pray that Dan could navigate the surf. The waves raked over them several times, rolling them like dice on a crap table. All the while, Dan’s arms remained locked around Mary Ann’s head and shoulders – his back and legs accepted the brunt of the painful scraping along the volcanic surface. At last the waves got smaller and they were able to plant their bare feet on the painfully jagged surface of the atoll. Clinging to each other, the pair staggered as far from the water as they could. The detective could stand no longer. He collapsed on the rocks, and Mary Ann took his head in her lap, and reclined onto the rock behind her. It wasn’t especially comfortable, but at least it was solid.

 

She gazed down at the still form; his shirt now stained deep pink from the mix of blood and salt water, wondering how much longer he could make it without medical attention.

 

Hurry, Steve! We need you! she silently implored her brother to rescue them.

 

 

**********

 

 

Returning to the base twice to refuel, McGarrett found, as he looked out at the declining, late afternoon sun, that his sense of desperation was at its peak.  They had searched the ocean between Kauai and Oahu in ever-widening grids.  It was a slow and tedious task since trying to sight two swimmers from the air or sea was difficult at best.  In between, two other emergencies arose and the Coast Guard ship and the helicopter had to divert for those situations. 

 

Even Steve’s stubborn tenacity recognized it was not possible to expect to find Mary Ann and Williams now.  Staying alive and afloat for more than twenty-four hours was ridiculous. Danno could have made it alone; Steve knew but did not voice this to Tom, his constant companion. But Mary Ann couldn’t swim.  Danno would have been helping her.  Wounded, fatigued, he would not have lasted this long, and he would never abandon her.  What a way for this to end, he bleakly thought with sickening dread.

 

Soon they would have to call off the search because of darkness. They would start up again tomorrow, but procedurally there would be fewer men and less equipment. The search would become more of an administrative accounting operation to prove that every effort had been made to rescue the lost.

 

He could hardly fathom the reality of the tragedy.  It would hit him at some point, but right now he could fight it off by staying active.  By being out here doing something as futile as searching the huge Pacific Ocean for two bodies.  He was keeping his failing hope alive by sheer stubbornness at this point -- a need to push the search effort even if he wasn’t sure he believed in its usefulness anymore.

 

This was worse than the hostage crisis at the hospital.  There he knew Danno was at the end of the corridor.  He could almost see him, sometimes hear him.  That connection made him believe he could save his friend.  Now they were all lost -- adrift in an endless sea.  A metaphor that might be all too accurate if his friend died.  He would be so completely lost without Danno’s constant support, loyalty and talent.

 

At the hospital, Steve had worried he would never be able to talk to his friend again.  Never be able to say things he should have.  Did Danno even know how important he was?

 

Steve would tell him now.  If he found Danno he would let his friend know the priceless bond they shared and what the young man had brought into his life.

 

“Mr. McGarrett?”

 

The pilot’s voice over his headset.  “Yes?”

 

“The recon plane just spotted what looks like two bodies on Invisible Atoll.  We’re swinging over.”

 

“Great!” Steve shouted, his heart caught in his throat, his mind grabbing at any morsel of hope it could find. Excited, he clapped Tom’s back then moved from the jump seat in the back of the chopper to join the men near the cockpit. 

 

Tom was right behind him.  “What do they mean two bodies?  And what is Invisible Atoll?”

 

The pilot responded to the second question first.  “It’s a little atoll a few miles off the coast of Oahu’s North Shore.  It’s surrounded by coral and sometimes people go out there for snorkeling.  But in the afternoon, at high tide, it’s covered with water.  We get a lot of accidents out there. Never thought to check it out.”

 

“What do they mean about the bodies?”

 

“Recon says they spotted something pink and something blue and white on the atoll.  Checking it out they found no boats in the area and what looks like two bodies washed onto the atoll.”

 

Tom’s face reflected panic.  “Bodies --“

 

Steve’s surge of excitement did not diminish, refusing to consider what he could not accept.  “They have to be exhausted, Tom! They made it to the atoll!  That’s the important thing!”

 

As the chopper swung over the Atoll location, Steve’s optimism graduated to panic.  The atoll was clearly visible from the air, the multi-colored coral providing a spectacular picture-postcard sight with the spot of black lava rocks surrounded by shades of green, ringed by the indigo ocean.  Yes, there were two still forms atop the rocks.  But those rocks were quickly disappearing with the splash of the advancing sea.

 

“Hurry up and get a harness down there!” McGarrett ordered.

 

“They’re not alive,” Tom agonized.

 

 

**********

 

He heard the drone for what seemed like a long time.  Without the energy to move, he kept his eyes closed and listened.  Sounded like a motor.  A boat?  A chopper?  That was what they had hoped for all day.  Last night, they had crawled up to the small bit of rock that was attainable in the receding tide.  The coral had saved them from sharks and other predators of the sea.  Frustratingly, they could see the lights from the houses far away on the North Shore.

 

After dawn they could see planes in the distance, some boats that sped by, but no one ever came close enough to spot them.  He had slept most of the hot day too exhausted to care about his skin blistering in the unforgiving sun.  Too weak to worry about his agonizing thirst.  Mary Ann never complained about the harsh conditions.  She did have an angry tirade once about how close they were and how far away they seemed from civilization.  It was so reminiscent of her brother that he laughed until he drifted off to sleep again.

 

Now, he couldn’t even lift his head up.  He was so totally fatigued all he wanted to do was sleep.

 

“Danny?  What’s that noise?”

 

The fear in her tone caused him to snap his eyes open.  She was fuzzy and in his blurred vision looked like three or four Mary Ann’s.  He was reminded that his duty was not finished.  She was still alive and while he could still breathe and move he was obligated to protect her. He could not give up yet.

 

“And the water!  Danny, my feet are wet!”

 

She curled up next to him, as if scrunching into a ball would keep them safe a little longer.  He placed a hand on hers, closing his eyes again, hoping she would go to sleep and not feel it when the ocean engulfed them – wait -- him.  SHE was going to get out of this.

 

“Remember your promise,” he whispered.  “You’re going to get through this.”

 

“So are you,” she insisted.

 

He smiled at the McGarrett-esque tone and demand.  As if just by their will they could make things happen.  They could.  He’d seen it so many times in Steve. The poignant moment was an emotional high followed instantly by a crash into depression.  He would give anything if he had just one more minute with his friend to say the things that he’d left unsaid. If he had just one more chance . . . .

 

“Danny!  It’s a helicopter!”

 

 

**********

 

Steve couldn’t respond to the exclamation that they were dead.  To come this far -- to find Danno and Mary Ann had made it safely to land -- if they weren’t alive he didn’t think he could survive this.  Then the red-haired figure in pink sat up and waved!  Tom shouted, crying with joy, and hugged Steve. McGarrett felt his own tears welling up with relief.  As the chopper hovered, his initial happiness crashed.  Mary Ann was alive and trying to get Danno’s attention.  Danno was not moving.  At this distance, he could see the torn blue and white Aloha shirt Williams wore was stained red.

 

“No!  He’s got to be alive!  Don’t let it end like this!” The words he was thinking slipped from his mouth, not able to be contained.

 

 

**********

 

She was violently shaking his shoulder and yelling.  Groaning, he recognized the noise and realized it was close.  With her help she rolled him over on his back and he saw the wonderfully delightful sight of the orange and white of a Coast Guard chopper. Hanging out the door, was another welcome and familiar sight and he managed to smile weakly. 

 

“I told you he would come,” he sighed, but his quiet words were drowned by Mary Ann’s yells and the chopper blades.  If he had the energy he would have waved, too.  “I knew you’d get here, Steve,” he sighed.

 

“It’s Steve!”  She was screaming in his ear, shaking him.

 

With all the effort he had left, Danny slowly sat up with her help and managed to get one swipe of a weak wave out of his lead arm. Steve waved back and wore the biggest grin ever. As the basket was lowered, Dan couldn’t stop smiling himself. 

 

There were no extra crewmen to help in the rescue, so the basket was lowered alone.  Williams struggled to hold it steady.  Water was already lapping around their feet as the blades whipped at them.  Mary Ann also held onto the basket, but did not make a move to leave.

 

“Get in!”

 

“You’re hurt, Danny, you go first!”

 

Williams shook his head, as dizzy as it was, in abject frustration.  McGarretts!  Can’t live with them and can’t live without them.  Their stubbornness was insane.  They were about to be rescued and she -- just like her brother -- decides to play hero!  Several times the basket whipped out of his hands and he let it go, no longer having the strength to work so hard. Mary Ann had to retrieve it, and she fought to keep a hold of it.  The wind up there must be rough because the pilot seemed to be having a hard time keeping the chopper steady.  This was no time for an argument.

 

“You can’t swim, Mary Ann!  The tide is coming up!  It’s up to our knees!  Now get in here and let them take you up now!”

 

Reluctantly obeying, she jumped into the basket and it was cranked up.  Without her support, Dan fell back onto the rocks.  He would have passed out again, but the lapping water around his ears, then over his face, convinced him to struggle up again.  He was covered in water and the wildly splashing waves from the chopper blade wind made it impossible to stay down.

 

Before Mary Ann had reached the safety of her rescuers, Dan had to stand to keep above the water.  He was amazed at how heavy the wind was, then realized, slowly, that it was his own diminishing power that was causing him to sway. 

 

With a crash, he was back in the water, unable to stay on his feet. The waves were taking control now. He’d struggled until his blood-starved, numb muscles would cooperate no more. Acquiescing to the demanding water, he felt more comfortable than he’d felt in hours.

 

Suddenly, he could see Steve there with him, in the almost peaceful water below the violence of the waves.

 

“Danno, I’m here.”

 

“Steve, I really want you to know how much it’s meant to me – being part of Five-0 – being your second. I tried very hard to live up to what you believed I could do and I only hope that you know that I did my best. l couldn’t ask for a better friend, and if I had it all to do over again, I wouldn’t change a minute.”

 

There – he’d said it. Mary Ann was safe, his last duty to his friend discharged, and he tried to find his face again to say goodbye, but instead caught an angry earful.

 

“Danno! Don’t do this! Come on, breathe! Breathe!”

 

 

**********

 

Steve’s attention had been divided between Mary Ann and Danno.  The basket was swinging in the wind and the co-pilot operating the winch had to keep it slow to make sure she didn’t dangerously swing too much during the ascent.  Back on the atoll, Williams seemed to be having a tough time staying on his feet. 

 

Finally, the basket reached the hull and Tom grabbed onto Mary Ann.  Their hugs and tears briefly included him, but he disengaged almost immediately as he began to supervise the basket descent again. As McGarrett leaned out to confirm his friend’s position, he saw Dan collapse, tumbling into the water that was now covering the atoll, and within a few seconds, a huge wave hit and swept him off the atoll.

 

“Danno!” he yelled.  He shook Mary Ann’s shoulder.  “How bad is Danno hurt?”

 

In the arms of her husband now, she peered down and saw the water had engulfed him.  “Oh, no!  Steve, he’s in terrible shape.  He insisted I come up first --“

 

McGarrett shouted several more times, but Williams did not move. Then Steve grabbed onto the edge of the basket and leaped in. The descent wasn’t fast enough and when he saw Dan’s body disappear under the ocean he jumped over the side, hoping his instant judgment of location was going to clear him of the coral.

 

The impact with the water from that height was hard and for moments he plunged down.  The cool water was a shock, too, but he started swimming up immediately, powerful strokes taking him instantly to the surface.  He had missed the coral fortunately, but had to leap far from Williams’ position.  Fighting the chopper wind and the waves, he swam hard to his friend’s last location.  Diving under the surface, he took two descents before spotting Danno.  His friend was floating face down, completely limp.

 

He grabbed onto Dan’s waist and swam up.  It was slow, tough going and he finally made it, gasping for air when he hit the surface.  Danno, however, was not breathing, and Steve pumped his chest several times. 

 

“Danno! Don’t do this! Come on, breathe! Breathe!”

 

Water expelled from his mouth and he coughed, wincing from the pain of breathing again. Steve swam over to the basket and hauled his friend in, giving the signal to crank it back up.  His shoes scraped against rock and he found he could stand on the highest peak of the atoll.  He didn’t even have to tread water before the basket came back down for him.

 

Back in the chopper, the co-pilot was administering first aid to Williams.  Mary Ann hovered close, quietly talking to Danno as if she had known him all his life.  Obviously, under the duress of the situation, they had bonded in an unexpected way, formed a relationship he had not considered.  As if Danno was one of the family. He knelt down beside them, blinking back the tears at the poignant scene.  This was what he had hoped for -- his sister -- and his kid brother -- alive. 

 

“How is he?”  He asked, watching as sterile pads were placed on a nasty wound on Dan’s back.

 

“He’s going to be fine,” Mary Ann insisted firmly, another McGarrett-like attitude, as if commanding it would make it so. She hugged Steve tightly.  “He’s stubborn, just like the rest of the family.”

 

“Yeah,” Steve smiled, hugging her back.

 

The co-pilot finished securing a pressure bandage to the gaping wound in Dan’s back, and, having done all he could, left the chilled, unconscious patient on his stomach, draped in two blankets.

 

Steve’s untrained eye silently assessed and diagnosed the two patients. Mary Ann had numerous scrapes and a bruise on her cheek. If one of those slimes hit her  . . . .

 

She was clearly exhausted and dehydrated, but other than that, she appeared to be in relatively good condition.

 

Dan, on the other hand, had not faired so well. In addition to the same evidence of prolonged exposure to the elements, massive abrasions along his legs and back, he’d clearly been in a fight. It was nothing short of a miracle that Dan had been able to keep himself, let alone himself AND Mary Ann, afloat in a dark, cool, shark-infested ocean for any length of time. That he had managed it overnight was a testament to his determination.

 

Steve said another silent prayer of thanks for the return of the two people closest to him. He continued to pray that Danno would make it to the hospital. To make it this far and then die – a fear that Steve harbored in his gut – was just an untenable possibility.

 

Tom hovered over his wife and tried to get her to lie down and rest, but she was not to be pulled from physical contact with the man who’d been her life preserver. The co-pilot draped a blanket around her now-violently shivering form as she continued stroking Dan’s hair and murmuring, through dry lips, reassurances to him.

 

“I did what you said, Danny. We’re going to be fine… You were right – Steve came for us… Steve came for us… Steve’s here with us… You said he would come –” Tears began to flow as she looked up at her brother, who was sitting on the floor with his hand on Dan’s shoulder.  “And he came… I was just ready to give up, but Danny insisted that you’d be along to collect us.”

 

Steve’s lips trembled at the faith – in him – that had kept the pair going.

 

She continued, “And you knew that we – Danny – would find a way to keep us alive until you got here, didn’t you?”

 

Steve could feel the moisture in his eyes as he nodded. “I knew.”

 

He reached across and touched her cool cheek with the back of his hand. He truly had believed.

 

“Oh, he knew alright,” Tom confirmed to his wife, whom he sat behind, hands securely locked around her shoulders. “Everybody told us there was no way we’d find you alive – everybody. But Steve insisted…” His voice trailed off as he considered the horrible possibility that they might have given up.

 

 

**********

 

The flight in didn’t take more than thirty minutes, but it felt like longer to McGarrett, who was impatient to have both Mary Ann and Dan medically evaluated by professionals.  The pilot of the Coast Guard chopper had radioed ahead, so a medical team was standing by in the parking lot of the familiar Queens Hospital when the chopper set down. Before the blades stopped, the co-pilot slid the large side-door open, and motioned to the people in white jackets to come forward. McGarrett was grateful to see that Doctor Bergman was one of the approaching physicians.

 

By now, Mary Ann was unable to move under her own power from her reclined position against Tom.  She resisted assistance for another few seconds as she stared down at Dan’s motionless figure. He hadn’t moved the entire flight, and her brother’s worried countenance fueled her anguish about deserting one who would, she knew without a doubt, never desert her.

 

“He would never leave me – he promised,” Mary Ann repeated what she had said several times during the flight.

 

Steve could almost hear his friend saying the reassuring words to the frightened woman. Only calm, repetitive bolstering would’ve penetrated the mantle of panic in which he knew his younger sister would’ve been enveloped. Her intense phobia of water was well-known to him. That Dan was able to get her to accept what she refused to accept her entire life – that she could survive in water over her head – was just another of the numerous miracles that the head of Five-0 believed had occurred in the past hours.

 

“Don’t worry, sis,” McGarrett said to her softly as he gently helped Tom lift her out of the helicopter into the beckoning arms of two attendants. “I’ll stay with him.”

 

“And you can bet he will too,” Bergman said as he lifted a blanket from the foot of the gurney so that the two attendants could place her shivering form there.

 

Doctor Hansen, another doctor familiar to McGarrett, took over care of Mary Ann as she was whisked away by her medical team. Bergman, another physician Steve did not recognize, a nurse and two attendants remained to remove the more critical patient to the hospital.

 

As soon as the team got Dan’s limp body onto the gurney and they began moving toward the hospital entrance, Bergman began his examination. He concentrated as he listened to Dan’s heartbeat through his stethoscope.

 

“Do we need a type and cross-match, Doctor?” the nurse at his side asked.

 

“No – Have five units of A Positive brought down,” Bergman responded tersely. McGarrett observed the doctor closely, watching desperately for reactions to vital signs, as they trotted into the hospital and into one of the treatment rooms. Once there, the head of Five-0 knew he was in the way, but would not be compelled by the head nurse to wait outside.

 

Distractedly, Bergman threw an instruction to the annoyed nurse. “Don’t waste your time, Doris – he’s part of the package with this patient.” With one last glare in McGarrett’s direction, she moved to assist the doctor, whom she knew would be barking instructions at her momentarily.

 

The unresponsive patient ultimately ended up on his stomach so that the knife wound could be evaluated. McGarrett could see that blood trickled consistently from the hole as long as there was no pressure. At last, Bergman turned to Steve. “I need to get him up to surgery. His body temperature was what’s kept him from bleeding out, but he’s warming up now.”

 

“Will he be alright, Doc?” The intense expression on McGarrett’s tired, unshaven face softened the physician slightly as he guided McGarrett out of the room.  “Let’s talk after I’m finished.” That was not the answer the impatient detective wanted to hear, but Bergman held his ground.  “Go check on your sister, Steve. I’ll find you when I’m done.”

 

He was frustrated, but at least he had a course of action. Steve purposefully moved down the hallway to learn from the desk clerk that Mary Ann had been admitted and was already situated in a room on the third floor. He climbed the steps two at a time, and burst into her room without the ceremony of a knock. Tom looked up at Steve and smiled as Doctor Hansen adjusted the IV.

 

“She’s going to be fine, Steve,” the relieved husband shared.

 

Hansen nodded as he continued his task.  “Yes, I want to get her re-hydrated intravenously and keep her overnight for observation.” Satisfied that the clear solution was flowing properly, he looked at Steve, the epitome of what a concerned big brother should be, Hansen silently noted. “I’m pleased, but completely and utterly amazed that this young woman was able to stay alive overnight alone in the open sea, and come out with nothing more serious than a little sunburn and a couple of abrasions,” the doctor expressed, his bushy eye brows arching as he spoke.

 

McGarrett started to speak, but the patient he thought was sleeping spoke first.

 

“I wasn’t alone, Doctor.” Her voice was hoarse, but certain. “And I would’ve died – a horrible death – if I HAD been alone.”

 

McGarrett was satisfied with his sister’s response, so did not bother pouncing on the physician with whom he’d had run-ins with before.

 

Hansen corrected as he touched the patient’s arm, “I’m sorry, Mrs. Whalen. I just meant that I’m amazed that one human being – or two – could survive without a boat for that long.”

 

Mary Ann’s sleepy eyes opened, and she looked up at her brother, “He doesn’t know Danny Williams very well, does he?”

 

Happy to see his little sister so full of spunk, Steve decided to rescue Hansen. “Oh, he knows him all right – just not like I – uh we – do.”

 

“Is Danny going to be alright?” Her eyes clouded with concern as she realized her brother had promised to stay with Dan.

 

He smiled gently at her. “They’re sewing him up now. Get some sleep!” She smiled back and without any argument she closed her eyes. Within seconds, it was obvious from the patient’s breathing that she had drifted off into a much-needed slumber.

 

 

**********

 

The next two hours were the usual agonizing pace-and-wait for the head of Five-0. His vigil in the hall outside the surgical waiting room was interrupted by visits from Chin and Kono, both of whom decided to remain in the waiting room against their boss’s insistence that they go home. It had been a long twenty four hours for everyone in the Five-0 office, and he was reminded of this as May showed up to wait with her guys. Her arm in a sling from the scuffle the day before, she too looked worn out, but refused to leave until she learned Dan’s condition.

 

At last, Bergman stepped out of the door at which McGarrett had stared for what seemed to be an interminable amount of time.

 

“Let’s go in here,” the doctor nodded in the direction of the waiting room. He acknowledged the presence of the Five-0 staff as he sat down. Not standing on ceremony or hedging with a man he knew did not want to hear anything but the to-the-point truth, Bergman spoke.  “Okay, he’s lost a lot of blood, but we knew that. The knife wound was deep, but it didn’t penetrate any vital organs. In addition to the obvious cuts, scrapes, and bruises, he also has a concussion – we won’t know how severe until he regains consciousness.”

 

The doctor rubbed his face for a second, and McGarrett knew the man well enough to know he wasn’t finished. “What else?”

 

“Steve, Danny lost a lot of blood over the course of many hours.  Blood is what takes oxygen to the brain. In times of trauma, the human body will slow down or cease blood flow to non-vital areas just to keep it going to the brain. If enough blood loss occurs, the next thing to suffer is the higher function areas of the brain. What I’m trying to tell you is that there is a fair possibility that not enough oxygen got to Danny’s brain in the last hour or two before we got the bleeding under control.”

 

McGarrett could feel the bile welling up in his throat as he demanded. “What are you saying? That Danno might have brain damage?”

 

Bergman responded, knowing there was no good way to lessen the blow. “How severe it may be, we won’t know until he wakes up.”

 

McGarrett leaned back into the sofa as he tried to absorb the crushing blow. He was oblivious to the presence of May, Chin, and Kono as they moved closer to him, the only thing they could do to show support for their boss, who was clearly reeling from the doctor’s revelation. Typical to the man, however, he reacted angrily to news which displeased him.

 

“That is unacceptable! Danno’s survived too much in the past twenty four hours -- To have us pronounce brain damage is -- is not going to happen!”

 

He stood, shaking off the people around him, unable to offer the comfort that they probably deserved from him at that moment. All the more painful, his team knew, that normally, it would be Danno that would serve as the buffer between him and the rest of the world in excruciating crises. Now, he felt like it was he that was adrift and alone, anchorless . . . .

 

 

**********

 

McGarrett went home long enough to shower, but returned to the hospital without as much as a glance at his bed. He was beyond exhaustion, and running on what energy caffeine could bring him. He peeked in on the sleeping form of his sister, who was resting comfortably. He hoped that all of this ridiculous brain damage business would be dismissed before she awakened in the morning, knowing news of this nature would be devastating to her. He made his way through the eerie, nighttime halls of the hospital to the Intensive Care Unit, where his second-in-command lay recovering. The sound of the heart monitor was comforting and almost hypnotic. Steve pulled a chair close to the bed and lay his head down on the bed beside the patient.

 

He wasn’t sure what noise awakened him, but he snapped to disoriented consciousness with the wariness of a cop at a crime scene. The heart monitor was still beeping rhythmically, and Dan was still asleep. He had to look at his watch to see, from the windowless room, that it was almost seven o’clock in the morning. Another noise from behind him alerted him to the presence of someone, and he turned to see Mary Ann and May peeking through the partially open door. Upon seeing that Steve was awake, May pushed Mary Ann through the door in a wheel chair.

 

“They would only let me come for a visit if I could find a ride,” Mary Ann explained.

 

May picked up, “I thought I’d stop by before I open up the store. How is he?”

 

McGarrett fervently hoped that May had not mentioned the doctor’s horrible brain damage comments to his sister. From Mary Ann’s cheery demeanor, he felt his concerns were unfounded. No matter how grown up Mary Ann was, Steve could not help but feel protective of his little sister, especially after her harrowing experience.

 

“He’s still sleeping,” was all McGarrett could think to say.

 

Mary Ann didn’t wait for any additional comments before she responded softly. “It’s pretty tiring work, swimming for two people all night!”

 

Her brother nodded at her, again filled with gratitude that his sister was still with him.

 

“It’s getting crowded in here,” Bergman announced as he stepped through the door to check in on his patient before heading to the morgue to do an autopsy. He looked down at the patient in the wheelchair, and spoke to her gently, “And how are you feeling, my dear?”

 

She smiled tentatively, “I’m feeling much better, thank you. How long before Danny wakes up?”

 

Bergman glanced at McGarrett, not feeling ready for another confrontation with the stubborn detective. “He’s been through quite a bit – it might be awhile.”

 

As if in objection to the doctor’s words, a soft groan came from the bed. In unison, all heads snapped in the patient’s direction. Steve leaped to his feet and moved to stand close to the head of the bed.

 

Bergman moved to stand next to him, May wheeled Mary Ann around to the opposite side of the bed.

 

Not waiting for a medical opinion, Steve placed his hand on Dan’s head and spoke. “Danno, talk to me!” When no response was forthcoming, McGarrett, no longer satisfied with waiting passively, spoke again with all of the authority he could bring to bear, “Danno! Wake up and say something to me – anything!”

 

Another soft moan and the patient stirred. His eyes opened slowly and panned lethargically around the room without moving his head. Dan’s blue eyes were foggy, but they met Steve’s and stopped.

 

“Okay, this is a step in the right direction,” McGarrett said more to himself than anyone else. “Now, Danno, speak to me. Say whatever’s on your mind!”

 

Steve waited -- his eyes intent on his friend – there was no one else in the room. Twenty seconds ticked by as the patient blinked and grimaced. At last, he took in a long, slow breath, licked his lips and spoke.

 

Dan’s voice weak and hoarse, “I take one morning off, and the office goes to Hell in a hand basket.”

 

Relief and joy flooding every fiber of his being, McGarrett burst out laughing, and was joined in relieved laughter by the others in the room. The sudden outburst of noise made the patient flinch slightly, but even that reaction was welcome to the man standing over him.

 

Eyes moist again for the umpteenth time in the past twenty four hours, Steve leaned his head against Dan’s gently. “I’m sorry, Danno. I guess I can’t let you have any more days off. You just get into too much trouble!”

 

Dan smiled slightly and closed his eyes again, mumbling a reply before sleeping again. “I was afraid you’d say that.”

 

Bergman, who’d observed the awakening from near the foot of the bed, could only shake his head, “Amazing!”

 

 

**********

 

The balance of the day was a whirlwind of activity both at the hospital and at the Five-0 offices. Members of the press began appearing at both locations demanding information. News of the incredible story of the prisoner escapes and their kidnapped victims’ dramatic journey from the Five-0 offices to Invisible Atoll. Even the manic and intrusive presence of the press couldn’t dampen Steve McGarrett’s disposition on this day. The two people closest to him in the world had been miraculously returned to him. Yes, the day was a gift that he would savor.

 

“Tell them we’ll release a statement before the end of the day,” Steve said tersely to May as she reiterated her request for more specific guidance about what to tell the media.

 

She nodded as she handed him a fresh cup of coffee, “Did you see that the FBI claimed credit in their statement for the re-capture of the Thores?” The secretary was referring to the front page story about the fiasco. Under normal circumstances, she knew that her boss would have quickly consumed the major news stories before his first appearance in the office, but today, it hadn’t been more than forty five minutes since they’d parted company at the hospital.

 

“I don’t care,” her boss replied quickly with a smile and a raised eyebrow glance at her. She’d worked for the man long enough to sense his good humor and enormous relief at the outcome of the events of the past forty-eight hours. He put his arm around her shoulder as they walked back towards her desk, “You’re okay – Mary Ann is okay – and Danno’s going to be fine! If the feds want the credit, let ‘em have it. I have what I want.”

 

She nodded and smiled at the rare almost-personal admission, happy and relieved that all would be right with her world that day.

 

“Have we got HPD coverage set up at the hospital?” He asked. There would be no intrusions on his sister or second-in-command while they rested today.

 

“Chin took care of it, boss!” Her response was followed by the ring of the phone, and she turned her attention to that as Steve collected the stack of mail that she’d placed on the corner of her desk for him.

 

 

**********

 

 

“I don’t know, Steve,” Mary Ann said uncertainly, dressed in a new muu muu which May had dropped off at lunchtime. Her brother and husband sat with her in her room. Twenty four hours earlier, she’d been lifted from the ocean into the waiting arms of her family. Doctor Hansen had pronounced her fit for discharge, with the condition that she get plenty of rest on her own over the next week. Clutching Tom’s hand, she continued, “I just feel so – so guilty. Danny hasn’t even been awake again since this morning and here I am, talking about leaving for a vacation on Kauai.”

 

The woman had been as delighted as her brother at the brief conversation with Williams that morning, but he’d returned to a deep repose from which he was occasionally jostled by medical personnel. He might’ve mumbled something unintelligible or perhaps just groaned as he was rolled for evaluation of the sutured wound on his back. A drainage tube had been sewn inside the wound to facilitate faster healing, but it had to be monitored regularly.

 

“Sis, trust me. Danno would want you to go. You can spend a few days resting up, per the doctor’s orders, and when you come back, Danno will be awake, and I’m sure, anxious to see how you’re doing.” He leaned over to where she sat, and placed his hand firmly on her shoulder for emphasis. “Now, let’s get to the airport so that you can be there in time for dinner in Lihue.” She broke eye contact with Steve and looked at Tom to see that he was nodding in agreement.

 

“Let’s go, honey,” Tom said softly as he helped her to her feet. McGarrett stood and moved to retrieve the wheelchair that was by the door. When she saw the wheelchair, she spoke again, “I don’t need a wheelchair!” Both Tom and Steve ignored her protestation.

 

“Do I have to?”

 

“Yes,” Steve replied, his tone commanding the concession, so she sat down in the chair as Tom took over control of the mobile contraption.

 

The trio’s exodus from the hospital was met by numerous well-wishers on the hospital staff, as the woman’s remarkable lack of serious injury had spread through the hospital grapevine quickly. Steve went on ahead to pull the car up to the entrance so that his sister could simply step from the wheelchair into his waiting sedan.

 

As he maneuvered his vehicle into position, he grimaced – Mary Ann and Tom were enveloped by half a dozen reporters. Annoyed with himself for not checking that door for press personnel before going to his car, he quickly drove the car up to the crowd and was out of the vehicle to intervene within seconds.

 

“Can you give the poor woman a break?” He spat as he stepped in front of the nearest reporter. In the same smooth movement, he opened the front door of his car, and guided her into the seat.

 

She smiled shyly, not accustomed to the attention. “It’s okay, Steve.” Her protective brother ignored her as he made sure she was tucked inside before closing the door.

 

Tom quickly slipped into the back seat as McGarrett moved to the driver’s side. Knowing it was a waste of time to demand a spontaneous press conference from the chief of Five-0, the reporters stepped back slightly before Fred Ward, the same reporter that had covered the hostage crisis with Dan and the marine for Channel Nine, called out. “Mr. McGarrett, how’s Danny?”

 

The aloof countenance still on the detective’s face, he paused for a moment leaning on the top of his door. The people of the state of Hawaii had been intensely interested in and concerned for Williams during and after the hostage ordeal. He had received numerous get-well cards and well-wishing letters after the incident. Even the press had treated Dan with kid gloves on their reporting of the story, and in subsequent updates on his condition. It suddenly occurred to him that perhaps a short, polite status on his detective’s condition was in the best interest of Five-0 and his detective.

 

“He’s been through a lot, but he pulled through the surgery just fine, and now the doctors tell me that he needs to rest.” McGarrett flashed a rare smile at the surprised reporters. “So let’s see if we can’t let him recuperate in peace, shall we?”

 

Ward, sensing the atypically generous mood of the head of Five-0, pressed on. “Mr. McGarrett, have the doctors given any indication of how long he might be out of commission?”

 

With this question, Steve hesitated. A regret that he’d tossed away when his friend and sister had been rescued leaped from his mental waste basket. He’d spent fruitless hours wishing he’d let his second-in-command know how important he was to him. The opportunity to make sure this regret never happened now stood there before him, microphone poised to record whatever he chose to say.

 

“The doctors have issued no edicts in this regard, but Detective Williams will have whatever time off he needs to make a complete recovery – despite the fact that he’s like my right arm, and day-to-day operations are much more difficult without him.” His pronouncement was accepted eagerly by the handful of press personnel like a hungry dogs accepting a table scrap. Satisfied, he slid into his car and pulled away.

 

“They seem like a very nice group of reporters, Steve,” Mary Ann mused as she studied her brother’s set jaw.

 

Steve let out a short laugh.  “Don’t let them fool you, sis.”

 

 

**********

 

The hospital still had its nighttime aura as Dan awakened for the first time in twenty-two hours. General muscular soreness and the delicate skin on his scraped back helped him more quickly recollect his circumstance. Loathe to move too quickly, he glanced around the dark room without only the slightest movement of his head. He suddenly realized that something else had caused the bed to move, and saw the hand of his boss tightly wrapped around the railing.

 

The man was slouched down in a large chair, which now directly abutted his bed. For the grip Steve had on the metal support, one uninitiated would suspect that he was wide-awake and ready to jump to his feet. Dan had teased his friend about being an alert sleeper, with a hair trigger awake switch on more than one occasion. With his head cocked far to the left resting on his shoulder, and his normally impeccably coiffed hair fallen onto his forehead, Dan knew the man was asleep.

 

Touched that Steve was there, and at once more at ease, he began to take stock of his condition in greater detail. Legs, neck, backside all feeling cramped and in need of a stretch…an incredibly uncomfortable knot between his shoulder blades…stomach growling…eyes stinging slightly…mouth parched…and did he mention stomach growling?? Definitely time to get up, Dan decided.

 

Not surprisingly, as soon as the patient moved to draw in a deeper breath, McGarrett jerked awake and looked around the room suspiciously. He ran his hand quickly over his hair to push it backward out of the way before he noticed Williams looking at him.

 

Steve took in a breath to clear his head as a smile slipped onto his lips. He did a quick once-over visual inspection of the patient for any outward signs of a problem.

 

Before he could speak, Dan broke the silence in a soft, thin voice, “You alright, Steve?”

 

Instantly warmed by the fact that the first words out of Dan’s mouth were an oh-so-typical expression of concern for him, Steve leaned over and gently grabbed Dan’s arm. “Hey, that’s supposed to be my line.” He swallowed and asked, “How are YOU feeling?” 

 

Dan winced as he tried to shift himself to a more comfortable position. “I think I need to get outta here and get something to eat.”

 

McGarrett stood and cranked the bed up to a sitting position as he responded with a soft laugh.  “Oh no you don’t. You are going to be resting here until Doc gives you the okay to leave. I’ll bring you something decent to eat.” Dan frowned slightly as Steve, remembering that Dan had not been conscious for more than a few moments since his sea rescue, continued.  “You had quite a cavern in your back that the docs had to plug.”

 

With the unpleasant memory flooding back into his thoughts, Dan uncomfortably flexed his shoulders.  “It was a diving knife.” He paused for a few seconds, now mentally embroiled in the struggle for his life and the life of Mary Ann.

 

Imagining the thoughts that were replaying in Williams’ mind, McGarrett spoke. “You put up one helluva fight, Danno.”

 

The young man looked up into the eyes of his mentor, the pain and horror still obvious there in the weary and anxious expression.  “They were going to do something horrible to-” He stopped suddenly and drew in a sharp breath. “Mary Ann! She’s alright?”

 

Steve, stifling a chill that ran down his spine as Dan confirmed the narrowly-avoided fate of his sister, spoke quickly to calm the young man before his agitation rose any further. “She’s fine – barely a scratch on her!”

 

Dan sighed in relief and looked down to study the IV line that he just noticed taped to the back of his hand.  “Thank God.”

 

“Yeah,” McGarrett agreed, and then sat on the edge of the bed. He struggled to find an eloquent way to make his point. It always seemed easier for him to say personal things in the hours before the sun rose.

 

“Danno…If I could have chosen anyone in the world to be with Mary Ann through a horrifying and dangerous situation such as the two of you just survived --” Steve stopped. No…no…that sounds like I’m glad he was kidnapped…

 

He started again, “I don’t know whether I can explain how sickened and yet simultaneously relieved at the fact that --” He sighed, exasperated with himself.

 

“Are you trying to tell me that you’re glad I was able to save Mary Ann without getting killed in the process?” Dan could see the moving and overwhelming emotion his friend was trying to share, and didn’t want him to agonize too much over the semantics of it all.

 

Steve had to smile. Leave it to Danno to distill his point to the degree that he wondered why it was so hard to say.

 

“Very, VERY glad. You and Mary Ann are the last two people on the planet that I would want to lose,” the admission now seemed somehow easier. “Mary Ann is my only living flesh and blood, and, I know she’s an adult now, but I was the one for a long time to take care of her.” Steve looked down. “I don’t know whether I’ll ever be able to shake the sense that it’s my responsibility to make sure she’s okay – however powerless I may be to protect her.”

 

McGarrett looked down and shook his head before he looked up again into the very readable and pleased face of his friend.  “And you – you. Your brains—your determination—your grit – it’s what got the two of you to the atoll. I don’t know what I would’ve done if you hadn’t --” He could feel himself choking up, but he was determined to finish at least one sentence in this conversation. He gently squeezed Dan’s arm.  “If you hadn’t made it.” There. He’d said it – sort of – and he felt better – even relieved -- for having said it.

 

To hear such praise and sentiment from the person whom he respected and admired above all others was monumental indeed to Dan Williams. He had been teased about his adulation for Steve on more than one occasion, but he brushed off the comments, deciding several months ago that there was nothing wrong with revering those whose lives were worthy of reverence. And now, to have the man confess his corresponding respect and brotherly affection was an act that sealed a crack in the foundation of Williams’ life.

 

Losing his family twice over in his childhood – once when his parents were killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, and again when his caretaker uncle was killed in a fire – gave Dan doubts about his place in the world. The adrift feeling, while for the most part buried in his subconscious, still clung in some residual way to him even as an adult. The emotional anchor that familial ties bring had only been established in the most tenuous way with his Aunt Clara. She’d been mysteriously un-reachable after his parents were killed, and he lived with her for only a few months after the death of his uncle before returning to the Hawaii, the only place he’d ever thought of as home.

 

And now, here it was – a true invitation into the McGarrett ohana – not just the Five-0 family, but a key to the gate – which allowed him access past the reserved barrier visible to the outside world – that made him a welcome fixture in the personal life of Steve McGarrett. A bond that had been growing, solidifying, strengthening from their very first meeting was now consciously recognized by both men. Moisture filled Dan’s eyes as he recognized, even through the haze of medication, the significance of the conversation.

 

“It’s a big, scary world, Steve, without ohana and a little faith,” Dan found the voice to respond.

 

“And I DID have faith in my ohana,” Steve replied softly but emphatically. “And I know you kept it in kind.”

 

“I wouldn’t be here if we both hadn’t kept the faith.” Dan could suddenly not keep his eyes open. “I knew you’d never give up on us.” He managed to reach out toward Steve, who took his hand and, after squeezing it for a moment, gently lay it down on Dan’s covered form. 

 

Faith in ohana – THAT was the foundation of it all. The pre-dawn conversation with his kaikaina would be another gift he would not forget.

 

 

**********

 

Tom and Mary Ann remained on Kauai for six days, with Mary Ann calling in to Steve daily to check on Dan’s progress. Williams remained in the hospital under the watchful eye of Doctor Bergman, who was still suspicious about potential side effects from the trauma at sea. On the eighth day, Williams was sent home to remain, under threat of suspension, until the doctor certified him fit for duty. An exception had to be made in the case of a court appearance the following day.

 

Both Dan and Mary Ann, along with the rest of the Five-0 staff, were asked by the attorney general to provide statements at the Thore brothers’ hearing, which was a precursor to a trial that was probably months away. The purpose was to gather witness testimony under oath while events were still fresh in their minds. After the nasty turn of events that day, both McGarrett and Walter Stuart were in lock step in their refusal to allow the Thores to be extradited without due process in the state of Hawaii. The Feds weren’t happy, but there was little they could do to stop the wheels of justice at the state level that wouldn’t take longer than just allowing it to happen.

 

 

**********

 

The hearing itself was the day after Dan’s release from the hospital. Not yet up to activity for any length of time, he still insisted upon providing his testimony. The Thores learned that day that Dan was not a courier – a fact which seemed to particularly enrage the younger Thore.

 

The day was exhausting and traumatic for both Mary Ann and Dan as they each reported on the events as best they could recall them. Dan’s statement and subsequent responses to questions were that of one schooled in the art of clinical testimony, a simple, un-embellished, neutral reporting of the facts. Mary Ann’s, on the other hand, was filled with emotional observations, feelings, and dramatic re-tellings of what she witnessed and the events she miraculously survived. Between the two witnesses, a complete picture emerged of what happened and how heroic action and determined hearts triumphed over the callous and evil natures of the accused.

 

Steve marveled at his sister’s resilience as he listened to her impassioned story. He initially regretted that she would not be spared the pain and trouble of re-living the nightmare, but as he watched her, he realized how truly therapeutic it was to share what had happened. He sat there in the back of the courtroom and considered for a moment how unexpectedly purging it had been to share his thoughts on the death of his nephew some months ago with his second-in-command.

 

The experience, McGarrett suspected – no, knew – was not a particularly pleasant one for Williams as Steve now recollected his explosive and teary initial catharsis. His second-in-command had reacted, not with revulsion or disdain at his boss’s revelation of his feelings. Instead, he seemed somehow to accept the pain as his own, knowing/sensing that a burden shared is a lighter load. On that particular day, McGarrett had to admit that Williams’ tendency towards too much compassion – what the head of Five-0 called bleeding -- had worked in his favor. It suddenly became clear to him how Dan had been there, unobtrusively available to listen – to help carry the painful burden, if he were willing to share it. And for the first time in his life, he felt that he could. 

 

 

**********

 

The next day, nine days after the dramatic sea rescue, Mary Ann was scheduled to return home. She had remained in Honolulu to testify after Tom reluctantly left her to return to work. Steve had collected Dan from his apartment to accompany him to the airport. First, they made a quick stop at the Palace so that McGarrett could sign some documents that would not wait.

 

It was Dan’s first time in the office since he’d been dragged away by Burley, and the staff gathered around him to inquire about his health and when he would be returning to work.

 

“Well, I can’t come back until after my doctor’s appointment on Thursday. Bergman thinks I’ve got brain damage or something – he’s making me go through a battery of brain function tests before he okays me for duty,” Dan grumbled.

 

“I think you got brain damage too, but you had it ever since I’ve known you,” Kono mused.

 

Dan smiled and let out a humph.  “This from the guy who can’t categorize and file case reports?”

 

“Maybe brain damage helps with that sort of thing,” Kono replied as Chin snickered.

 

Steve couldn’t help but revel in the typical bantering between his guys. It made the office feel like home again. He glanced at his watch, knowing that Mary Ann had to be collected from his place, and spoke.  “Come on, Danno! Let’s take our sister to the airport!”

 

The unconscious recognition of Dan’s status in Steve’s mind was not lost on the rest of the Five-0 staff, who exchanged glances at the remark.

 

Williams didn’t seem to notice the “slip” of tongue – instead, he selected a few files from his IN box, and responded to May’s silently accusing and disapproving stare, “A little light reading.”

 

Mary Ann McGarrett Whalen sat at the gate with her two “brothers” until the last call to board the plane to Los Angeles rang out over the loud speaker. With that she reluctantly rose.

 

“Any parting words of wisdom from my two brothers?” Her gaze shifted between the two men, who’d risen with her.

 

Dan spoke first, “I have two words – swimming lessons!”

 

Mary Ann giggled, and grabbed his hand, “I promise!” And after a teary hug and a kiss to Dan, she turned to Steve, knowing her big brother would never pass up an opportunity to counsel.

 

“I have two words as well,” he smiled and squeezed her in a tight hug. “Be happy.”

 

After a quick reciprocal squeeze, she pulled away from him gently and, eyes brimming with tears, nodded. The woman marched to the door of the jetway and turned to wave before she disappeared from sight. The image of a grinning Steve, standing there with his hand resting Dan’s shoulder would stay with her for a long time.

 

Mary Ann McGarrett Whalen was happy that her brother no longer had to weather his storms alone.

 

 

PAU