Take this kiss upon the brow!

And, in parting from you now,

Thus much let me avow--

You are not wrong who deem

That my days have been a dream;

Yet if hope has flown away

In a night, or in a day,

In a vision, or in none,

Is it therefore the less gone?

All that we see or seem

Is but a dream within a dream."

 

I stand amid the roar

Of a surf-tormented shore,

And I hold within my hand

Grains of the golden sand --

How few! yet how they creep

Through my fingers to the deep,

While I weep -- while I weep!

O God! can I not grasp

Them with a tighter clasp?

O God! can I not save

One from the pitiless wave?

Is all that we see or seem

But a dream within a dream?

 

Edgar Allan Poe, A Dream Within A Dream

 

 

 

STORM DAMAGE

written by

BH and GM

 

 

 

March 1973

 

 “Despicable!” The low, velvet voice snarled with loathing. 

 

Trembling, he fell to his knees as the special report continued. The sensational -- unbelievable -- story had occupied time on all of the television and radio stations all afternoon. The man’s thin, six-foot frame shifted on the floor as he continued talking to himself. The vision of the head of Five-0 exiting the hospital turned his stomach. Inserts of Frank Pierson the bank manager, and the accomplice Blane Adams (mug shot from an arrest the accompanying photo) blocked the bottom of the screen as the tape of McGarrett faded back to the news commentator.

 

“You killed him, McGarrett!" the suffering wretch breathed.

 

Behind the anchorwoman a picture of Officer Dan Williams and McGarrett -- tape from the film library -- played in the background as she reported that the second-in-command of Hawaii Five-0 would recover from wounds sustained during the escape of Pierson and Adams.

 

With a trembling hand, he switched channels. This news coverage showed more file tape on McGarrett and Williams. Apparently, there was plenty of that footage, he angrily and miserably judged.

 

This time a snippet of an interview with a Chinese detective came on. Outside Castle Hospital, standing just inside the lobby and out of the continued rain caused from the trailing edge of the storm, the officer assured Williams and McGarrett would be fine.  Now Five-0 was concentrating efforts on certifying the fate of Pierson and Adams. The Coast Guard and HPD had officially listed the criminals as missing due to the raging storm. What was believed to be their boat had been discovered wrecked off Laie Point. No survivors were found. A token search would continue, storm permitting, until the end of the week.

 

The report switched to an assessment of storm damage island wide, and he surrendered another sob, his heart acknowledging a personal and all too painful knowledge of storm damage. 

 

“ ‘Hope has flown away,’ “ he cried.  Pathetically miserable, he whispered the lines in woeful agony, suffering for the loss he could not bear.  “ ‘I stand amid the roar of a surf-tormented shore, and I hold within my hand grains of the golden sand -- How few! yet how they creep through my fingers to the deep, while I weep -- while I weep!’ “ he agonized.

 

Switching channels, the shuddering man watched, through his tears, another film clip of the two Five-0 detectives. Picking up a shoe to throw at the TV, he hesitated as a whisper of sinister recognition filtered into his suffering mind.  There was something in the way the two men walked close and talked easily to each other that put him on alert. Through the pain lanced a dark and more powerful emotion as revenge played liltingly through his stunned senses.

 

"So McGarrett reveals his Achilles’ heel.” He ran both his hands across his face, wiping it dry, as he watched intently several shots of the Hawaii Five-0 detectives. There were numerous photos and scenes of McGarrett, with his favored detective, that ran on all the television channels.

 

The friendly, sometimes even protective body language on the part of the head of Five-0 revealed the tale to a perceptive observer such as Derek Jacobs. Old reports and snippets of their history over the last few years came to mind. He had even met McGarrett on several occasions.  In happier days, he sniffed back more tears, thinking about those wonderful days.  The McGarrett he knew was all business; crisp, curt, straight-to-the-point, not one to encourage idle small talk or waste time. Very mission-goal oriented, with pleasant, if reserved social skills.  The TV was showing a different side to the top cop of Hawaii, one that Jacobs had never considered – or cared about – until now.  McGarrett – mentor and friend?  Yes, the younger Five-0 detective obviously harboring a serious case of hero worship – it was plain to any who looked for it in the body language, the expressive facial features and looks on the junior officer.

 

'Jacobs – you’ve found the answer. The way to avenge poor, dear Frank.'

 

In searching his memory, Jacobs could not think of a single recent photo of McGarrett without his protégé tagging along right on the heels of the imposing figure or being physically directed in some way by his boss.

 

"McGarrett and his puppy,” Jacobs chuckled darkly to himself, dashing the back of his hand across his face to wipe clear a few of the continuing tears. He shook a fist at the TV. “You will regret what you’ve done, McGarrett. You’ve robbed me of my friend. I am wracked by the storm inside me!  Now it’s my turn.” His voice trembled. “To take the storm to you, McGarrett! The storm of my revenge!  I stand amid the roar of a surf-tormented shore, and I hold within my hand grains of the golden sand --while I weep! O God! Can I not grasp them with a tighter clasp? O God! Can I not save one from the pitiless wave?’  

 

The laughter turned to a hitching sob as the image of his former lover, Frank Pierson, and himself, came to mind. True, Frank had left him for that gigolo Blane, but that didn't change the love that Derek still felt. Sweet memories burned within of the older, distinguished friend who had kept their secret.. They had traveled in the high circles of Honolulu society and no one knew of their relationship. The clandestine affair -- no -- love -- made it so poignantly heart wrenching now. To see McGarrett with Williams – in a twisted reminder of his own relationship with Frank -- it was beyond pain.

 

The anger that was now swelling inside to fill up the grief and sting was fuelling a righteous cause. He couldn't go after Blane -- Adams wasn't around any more. Besides, the young ex-con was a toy -- a temporary fling. Frank would have come back to him, but McGarrett chased him to a miserable death in the turbulent, unmerciful, storm tossed sea. The jealous Neptune would never give up his dead. So the only target left to attack, to assuage his hurt, was the cop who pushed Frank into the maelstrom of destruction.

 

The image of his friend in the throes of helplessness and suffering, then death, brought on another wave of ache and tears. Jacobs flinched from the memory and looked back at a TV photo of McGarrett and his second-in-command.

 

‘ In parting from you now thus much let me avow—‘  I will destroy you, McGarrett!”

Jacobs growled as the twisted plan that could grow only from destructive rage and hate began to take shape.

 

*****

 

Distinguished and attractive with his brown hair slicked back, Jacobs looked every bit the part of a physician strolling through the hospital, with his white jacket, clipboard, and black bag. He stopped at the main desk and inquired as to the room where Detective Williams could be found, and the information was provided with not so much as a second look from the matronly admissions clerk. He was relaxed and poised as he occasionally nodded to a passing hospital visitor or employee. Using the stairwell to make his way to the third floor, he stepped out and proceeded down the hallway past the nurses’ station to room 326. Nobody there gave him a second glance, as he did not look out of place in any regard. Jacobs pretended to study the chart on his clipboard as he slipped into the room, and looked up from it only to confirm that the patient was alone.

 

Blood loss during the surgery to remove the bullet was substantial, and the patient still bore a pale post-surgical pallor. Now two days after his near-death ordeal, Dan Williams lie sleeping peacefully, pain under control. An IV bottle dripped gently into a tube leading under the sheets.

 

Even through the haze of pain medication, Dan sensed that he had a visitor, and struggled to lift his heavy lids. They opened slowly, but his eyes would not focus properly on the figure standing several feet away.

 

“Steve?” He managed to say, despite the fact that his tongue felt too thick. He had some peripheral awareness that his boss had been hovering nearby in the hours immediately after the surgery.

 

The shape turned suddenly and moved to stand at the head of the bed. When no answer was forthcoming from the silhouette, he tried to analyze the individual. A doctor perhaps? He had no reason to fear until the face moved down to within inches of his cheek, and a smooth, soft voice addressed him.

 

“No, I am not Steve McGarrett. I am going to kill him, but not before he suffers, and you, young friend, before you die, are going to help me.”

 

Dan took in a breath too sharp to be comfortable to the stitches in his abdomen, and winced in pain.  “Who are you?” he asked. He tried to sit up, but the man gently pressed him back onto the bed.

 

‘In a night, or in a day, in a vision, or in none, all that we see or seem, is but a dream within a dream.’ "

 

“What?” Williams slurred, shaking his head to clear away the muzzy perceptions.

 

“I am but a dream within a dream,” he repeated soothingly. He kissed the detective gently on the forehead, and said, “Take this kiss upon the brow… ”

 

Before Williams could react, his visitor placed a large hand over his nose and mouth to cut off his air.  The detective furiously, clumsily, struggled with the assailant as the determined man watched him fight for his life.

 

‘Take this kiss upon the brow, and, in parting from you now, thus much let me avow, you are not wrong who deem, that my days have been a dream.’ Jacobs fought back the tears as he came to the most poignant and personal line of the poem he had adopted as his personal statement of misery.  ‘Yet if hope has flown away, it is a dream within a dream.’

 

Dan ripped the IV line out of his arm during his weak attempt to save himself, but Jacobs’s hand stayed firm.

 

“Sleep now. We’ll meet again.” He spoke the words in a gentle tone that was incongruous with the act he was committing. Within a minute, Dan’s panic was replaced by unconsciousness and his hands fell limply on his chest. Removing his hand, Jacobs made sure the patient was still breathing before he slipped out of the room.

 

Thoughts of Frank, and his sweet revenge on Frank’s murderer, crept back into the front of his mind. He took in a deep breath and moved quickly from the hospital to the overcast morning, into the moist, fresh air, which was laced with the scent of plumeria blossoms and rain.

 

Within five minutes, a nurse stepped into Dan’s room to check his vital signs. Alarmed that the now unresponsive patient had apparently gotten agitated enough to tear out his IV and lose his pillow on the floor.  She called for the doctor.

 

 

******

 

 

When the private line in his office rang, Steve McGarrett was in mid-sentence, dividing the workload between his two healthy detectives, Ben Kokua and Chin Ho Kelly. 

 

Returning to work after the horrific experience with Frank Pierson was almost surreal.  In a way, sitting here at the familiar desk, surrounded by routine and regulated tasks, McGarrett felt as if the dreadful trauma on the North Shore was nothing but an evil dream.  Then he would turn too sharply, or lift his head too fast, and the reminder of his concussion and other injuries came back to him full force.  With the memory of the injuries came the more daunting emotional recollections of the daunting ordeal – the hours of watching over his friend, uncertain Williams would survive the storm.

 

Officially, on the recovery list, coming back to work was not in question. There was no choice for Steve.  This was where he was needed, where he was most comfortable, and could recuperate with some physical remnants of the misadventure, but mentally secure knowing he was in control of his world. 

 

“McGarrett,” he snapped into the phone, already irritated at the numerous interruptions to his morning.  Being absent from the Palace for even a few days really bit into his efficiency and work progress.  “What’s that?”  The words ‘Danny’ and ‘trouble’ in the same sentence sent his blood pressure skyrocketing along with his pulse.  “I was told he’d be sleeping the better part of today –  He paused as an outlandish tale of outrageous comments from the wounded second-in-command came over the phone as Doc Bergman explained.  Most of the extreme bits flew past his conscious mind as Steve snagged on the more scary report that Williams had pulled his IV out and was in a panicked state because he believed he had been attacked while in ICU!

 

“Did he have any visitors?” McGarrett nailed right to the point.  The skeptical, even dismissive tone and delivery from Bergman left him no doubt the doctor felt Williams was hallucinating.  Still, Steve did not take it lightly.  “Tell him I’m on my way.”

 

The one-sided conversation piqued the curiosity and concern of his two associates. As he grabbed his jacket, he explained, “Gentlemen, Danno’s awake and something is wrong.” The head of Five-0 paused, a frown of concern on his face. “He’s insisting that someone tried to kill him.” Chin and Ben jumped up from their chairs. McGarrett continued, “Thing is – the staff says he’s had no visitors in the past few hours. He also seems to think that I’m in danger as well.”

 

Chin replied, “Well, is he talkin’ about Blane or Pierson?"

 

“Let’s go find out.” With that, the Five-0 men swept out the door.

 

 

*****

 

 

Lingering hurricane conditions still gripped Oahu.  Rain-frosted wind whipped the three men as they jogged up the puddled steps into the hospital.  McGarrett paced the interior of the elevator in edgy agitation until it arrived at the appropriate level. Doctor Bergman met them at the third floor nursing station.

 

“Is he all right?” McGarrett asked, anxiety rippling in his gut over the report of his friend’s state.

 

The renewed crisis summoned a recollection of the horrendous feelings of panic and desperation that had burst into his being in the past few days. The helplessness at Pierson’s house, the realization prior to surgery that he could have lost his second-in-command, his friend, made him feel ill at ease just standing where the recent emergency had unfolded.

 

“I’m sure he’s going to be fine, Steve,” Bergman assured. “He’s had a morphine-induced hallucination. It’s not unusual for people to see spiders, rats, and all manner of other frightening visages. Danny’s a cop, so it’s not surprising that he would imagine a threatening thug or murderer standing over him – especially after a traumatic incident that almost killed him.” The doctor paused and rubbed his chin.

 

Steve continued to study the physician.  “There’s something else?”

 

“Well, I am surprised that he was able to shake off the drug enough to rip out his IV and actually cause some bleeding through his sutures.”  At McGarrett’s reactionary expression, he hurried on to forestall more interpretation.  “He was very heavily sedated primarily to keep him from moving.” Steve glanced down the hallway toward the room as the doctor continued. “He’s still very agitated. He’s certain that this person is coming to kill you, and there’s no telling him otherwise. Normally I wouldn’t trouble you with this, Steve, but he won’t even let us re-insert the IV or sedate him. Steve, we need you to tell him that he’s safe, and that nobody is coming to kill you.”

 

McGarrett considered the doctor’s words for a few seconds before replying, “Doc – are we absolutely certain that what he’s saying isn’t true?”

 

Bergman smiled and shrugged, “Well, I guess someone could have floated in through the window, but the staff swears only routine hospital personnel have been in this wing. He is under a no-visitors rule right now – we had to stem the tide of HPD personnel that were patrolling through his room – he needs his rest. I suspect that you are the only one that can convince him that YOU are not in danger.”

 

Chin pointed out to Steve what was obvious to the rest of the Five-0 staff, “Boss, Danny worries a lot about you anyway. He’s out of commission now, so he can’t protect you. Especially after what you went through – he’s imagining that you’re in danger.”

 

The unnecessary reminder of the run in with Pierson and Adams – never far from his mind -- was sobering. Rubbing his aching temple, Steve jerked his head to stare at Chin and then Ben. Annoyed at the renewed pain his impulsive action brought, he rubbed both temples, closed his eyes, and took a moment to reorient his focus. Able to think beyond the headache, he considered it was true that Danno's natural tendency was to be protective. It was a strength/fault they shared -- a mutual flaw or asset depending on the circumstances. Not accustomed to intense and open displays of concern for his person, Steve found he was secretly warmed that his friend took his well-being so personally.

 

“Okay, you’ve convinced me. Now we’ve just got to convince Danno.”

 

The four men nodded and moved down the hallway to the patient’s room. All was not quiet as they stepped in through the doorway. A stocky little nurse and Doctor Hansen stood on either side of their patient’s bed.

 

“NO! No drugs! I need to see Steve!” Dan had both of his arms pulled to his chest, refusing to allow Doctor Hanson to examine his arm and re-insert the IV.

 

“Ask and ye shall receive,” McGarrett announced calmly. It was a huge relief for Steve to see his friend animated, albeit in a terribly frail condition.

 

As a testament to the pain re-invading his body, beads of sweat were breaking out on the patient’s face. Dan’s head turned to the doorway and the foggy obstinacy turned instantly to a face of concern and fear. “Steve! He wants to kill you!” His speech was fuzzy, but he had to get the urgent message out.

 

The head of Five-0, with Chin and Ben in tow, stepped next to the head of the bed, and smiled. He had to force the pleasantry act, because following closely on the heels of his relief at seeing Williams alive, came the apprehension over his friend’s weak status and agitated state. “Danno, I’m fine, and nobody is going to hurt me.”

 

“No, no, Steve, you don’t understand. He was here. He told me –” Dan shook his head to try to regain some measure of the mental acuity he knew he was missing. “And then he tried to kill me!”

 

“Danno, Doc Bergman tells me that what you saw is normal for people taking strong pain medication.”

 

The head of Five-0 spoke softly and gently, but Dan ignored the explanation, shaking his head. “At first I thought it was you, and then it wasn’t you, and he threatened you, and then he kissed me.”

 

At that last revelation, the three Five-0 detectives exchanged raised-eyebrow glances and seemed silently to agree that the doctors had to be correct. The tale their injured colleague was weaving had an imaginary flavor to it – one easily attributable to the recent encounter with Pierson and Adams, Steve was sure. On several levels, Danno had been through enough to cause all kinds of nightmares.

 

“And then he tried to smother me!" Dan continued breathlessly. "He said he was a dream within a dream – owww!” The patient suddenly turned his head in pain and closed his eyes tightly. The more he spoke the tighter the muscles in his abdomen had become. Finally, the taut muscles tugged at the sutures to the point that he could no longer ignore the pain.

 

Observing the distress on his friend’s face, Steve suddenly felt a greater urgency in persuading Dan to relent, and with that, his voice became sterner. “Danno, I will not let anybody hurt you. I’m putting a guard on the door, but you don’t need to worry about Pierson or Adams. They're in all probability dead, Danno. I promise you're safe. Now, let the doctors help you!”

 

This time, there was no argument from Dan as Doctor Hanson gently tugged his arm away from his chest and began the effort to re-insert the IV. The pain was taking its toll on his fight.

 

A few moments later, Williams spoke in a more subdued, almost dejected, tone, “You don’t believe me.”

 

McGarrett sighed as the pained accusation tugged at his heart. He chose his words carefully. “Danno, you’ve had no visitors. The docs say that the medication made you see something that wasn’t there.” He put his hand on Dan’s shoulder and leaned down so that their faces were no more than six inches apart.

 

The patient turned his head and, through tired blue eyes, tried to focus on the face of his boss. “He wants to kill you.  Be careful.” It was clear to Steve that he still did not believe he was hallucinating, but he was losing his battle with exhaustion. “Be careful.” His eyes closed and he was still.

 

“I will, my friend. Now rest easy. You’re safe.”

 

The trio stepped away from the bed, and McGarrett spoke softly. “Ben, you make sure there's a good officer on the door seven by twenty four – just in case.” The head of Five-0 was not willing to take a chance that Williams’ murderous visitor was not imaginary.

 

Ben nodded, “Already done, Steve.”

 

McGarrett then turned to Chin and said, “I’ll stay here for a few minutes – just to make sure Danno stays settled down. You get a current update on the search for Pierson and Adams. Just in case. I don’t think they could have survived, but . . . just make sure the search is thorough.”

 

Chin nodded and, with the rest of the entourage, left his boss alone in the room with the at-last sleeping patient. As the door closed behind them, Doctor Hansen spoke softly, “I’ll tell you one thing – I’d sure hate to be the fool who’d try to harm a hair on that detective’s head!”

 

The other three men chuckled and nodded. All had been witness to McGarrett's past explosive reactions when Williams was wounded or in trouble. It was rare to see McGarrett so emotional, but it happened when his closest friend was endangered.

 

Still smiling, Chin added, “I think I’d even hate to be a threatening hallucination!”

 

Ben intoned, “I’m just glad it wasn’t my day to watch him.”

 

 

*****

 

 

“You sure you don’t want this?” Ben asked Dan as he picked up the toast from the otherwise untouched hospital tray. Pillows in his bed comfortably propped up the patient, and staring out the window lost in thought. Chin glanced out the window to see if there was anything that interesting out there among the still swirling storm clouds (there wasn’t) before he and Ben exchanged looks.

 

“Danny!” Chin said a little louder than he had intended.

 

Dan started and looked over at his two friends, who had stopped by that morning on their way to the office. He looked a little chagrined as he offered, “I’m sorry, what?”

 

“I was saying that you’re lookin’ a lot better,” Chin supplied.

 

Ben nodded as he chewed on the slice of toast, “Yeah, and Steve’s doin’ much better too.”

 

The patient tensed and focused on the Hawaiian detective, “Doing better? What’s wrong with Steve?” The concern made Dan wince slightly as he involuntarily tensed his tender abdomen.

 

“Stay cool, bruddah!” Ben said quickly, gently grabbing Dan’s blanketed leg. “Steve’s fine. I just meant about his concussion."

 

“Yeah, that's good,” the detective slowly agreed, trying to breathe a little more easily after the short-lived fright.

 

Typical to Dan Williams, he had somehow managed to find a way to blame himself for an episode that was beyond the control of everyone involved.  “I should’ve done something,” Dan sighed, shaking his head. "Pierson… We never saw it coming. Steve was blindsided. I should have been able to do something.” Another deep sigh trailed from between his lips.

 

“Danny—” Chin began an attempt to stop the floodgates of regret he could see opening.

 

“Done something, eh? I can’t think of anything you could’ve done that would’ve prevented that confrontation!”

 

Steve McGarrett pushed through the door after giving a greeting to Sergeant Duke Lukela, who was standing outside as the morning sentinel for the room.  Overhearing Dan’s self-recriminations, McGarrett knew that he’d better sternly put an end to that thinking.

 

Chin and Ben looked toward their boss, relieved that he had arrived. If anyone could convince Dan that he’d been a victim in this circumstance, it was Steve. The young man, his visage still tentative, did not maintain eye contact with his newest visitor for more than a second before panning his gaze back towards the window.

 

The head of Five-0 continued. “He fooled everyone, Danno," he growled.

 

Shaking his head, forcibly drawing away from the darkness where his thoughts traveled, he finished the thought with a mental summary of the horrible events. Beaten, shot, weak from blood loss and shock, Williams was lucky to be alive. McGarrett paused to gauge Dan’s reaction. It was obvious the detective was listening, but not convinced, so Steve plunged on.

 

“Danno, you reacted instinctively to a bad situation. You did your best to help me by keeping the handcuffs loose so I'd have a fighting chance. You --" he cleared his throat, as he was flooded with unbidden emotion. As long as he lived, he would remember the horror of finding his friend shot, bleeding, collapsed on the floor next to him.  Recall the mad slide/drive/escape in the Jaguar as they navigated the muddy, rain-washed dirt road.  Most of all, he could not wipe from his mind the eternal hours sitting next to his friend, applying meager medical aid and praying Danno would live through the night. “You're lucky to be alive," he repeated, soberly aware of how close it had come to a death sentence.

 

The authority with which he spoke had an effect, though. Dan gave a nod of assent and seemed relieved to accept the perspective from his boss, but added, “Thanks to you.”

 

While he admitted he had taken desperate measures to save Danno's life, he, too, secretly felt that he himself might have done something differently in the dealings with Pierson and Adams. It was a moot thought though as a surly – to Steve’s way of thinking – duty nurse pushed into the room and “invited” the visitors to leave. The patient lifted his eyes to his boss in a brief expression of gratitude before the heavy-set woman inserted herself in their line of sight and began pushing the detectives toward the door as they called hasty farewells over their shoulders.

 

 

*****

 

 

“You seem thoughtful. Pensive. Everything okay?Steve asked. He’d been making small talk about the various active Five-0 cases with Williams as he rearranged the food on his hospital tray.

 

The patient smiled slightly as he glanced up from his unpalatable meal, “Yeah, I’m okay. I wish Ben were here to get rid of this for me.” He hesitated, and then finally came out with what was bothering him, “I’m fine, but I’m worried about you.”

 

McGarrett sighed, a bit impatient. “Danno, we’ve been over this. I'm fine. The concussion was minor.  You know how hard my head is.”

 

“Yeah.When Dan's expression did not change, he realized they were speaking on slightly different planes. "You mean your -- uh -- what you thought you saw? Bergman’s convinced that it had to be the morphine.”

 

“Yeah, I know,” Dan replied glumly. “Bergman had the nerve to send a shrink in here to try to talk to me about post-traumatic stress, and how it was possible that the experience with Pierson might have enhanced the hallucinogenic effect of the drugs.”

 

McGarrett nodded and a faint smile passed across his lips, “Yeah, I heard you told the doctor to take long walk off a short pier.”

 

A little annoyance visible on Dan’s face, he pushed the tray away, “I don’t need to be psycho-analyzed. I was scared – I can’t deny that, but it’s over.”

 

"Okay," McGarrett accepted, thankful they were past the strange incident.  “Then we don’t have to worry about nightmares.  I want you to concentrate on getting better.” The nod of assent was absent and he knew there was still something troubling his friend.  “Right?”

 

“Steve, it seemed so real –“

 

“It wasn’t,” he firmly countered, his voice rising slightly.

 

“Okay, but if it was, Steve, you’ve got to be careful.  Watch your back –“

 

“Danno,” came the exasperated snap, “I’m always careful, it comes with the badge.  There is no sinister threat being plotted against me!  At least not anything out of the ordinary.”  He tried to decrease the tension a notch with a quirky hint of humor, but Williams still stared at him with somber regard.  “Danno –“

 

“All right,” he surrendered hastily.  “I get it.  It was a drug-induced dream.  I remember enough from Psych one-oh-one.  I know the drugs could have twisted what happened to us – and – everything we went through,” he grimaced, “so I have nasty nightmares.” 

 

McGarrett tensed just thinking about the horrors his friend had experienced. It would give them both nightmares for a while to come, he guessed.  How could Danno not be affected?  He had to go a little easier on his friend, he decided.  “Yeah, it was rough and I’m not going to forget that, Danno, but we’re out of it now.  Storm’s over.”

 

“Just please be on guard,” he finished adamantly.  He attempted a gentle grin.  “I won’t be with you for a little while to keep an eye on you.”

 

Eased that they were back to light efforts at humor, McGarrett nodded, and then changed the subject to something less volatile.  Never much good at small talk, and never having to use it as a shield with his closest friend, he thought he did a pretty smooth job of transitioning to the latest buzz at the office that was non-case related.  He warned that Duke was trying to whip up interest in an outrigger canoe team for the Molokai Channel run and so far had Ben excited about the possibility.  Lukela would probably bring up the subject next time he pulled guard duty here.

 

Williams’ fondly speculated on the fun they would have with a Five-0 team – which would have to include people like Duke who were HPD but regularly assisted Five-0.  He glanced out at the rain lashing against the window and idly commented he hoped the trailing effects of the storm would end soon.

 

‘Not soon enough,’ McGarrett considered s he studied his friend’s wan face.  ‘Storm damage was pretty rough this time.  It’ll take some time for us to heal, my friend.’

 

 

*****

 

 

When Derek Jacobs arrived for work at his office, he was still preoccupied. There was the need to keep up appearances for the last week and he had done that well, he thought, considering his broken heart. No one who interacted with him at the zoo knew about his connection to Pierson. No, no one except Frank and Blane knew his true impulses in his secret, private life.

 

The labs were his refuge and he now prized the isolation as never before.  Stepping into the small administrative room where he kept his office essentials, he moved to open the blinds at the window behind his desk. When the swivel chair turned, he gasped, went weak, and nearly fell to the floor. Grabbing onto the desk, he held on with diminished strength as he stared at the intruder.

 

"Blane!" he cried out in a wheeze of shock.

 

The younger man, short-cut blond hair smudged with mud threw him a grunt. Several lacerations scraped his face and the hands that were gripping the arms of the chair. The torn clothes also showed signs of dirt and blood and looked damp. The stressed, fatigued expression was most telling of all. The eyes, which Derek had always considered cold, calculating, and a little wild, gazed at him now with emotions that scared the zoologist. He fought down the shivers as he only glanced at the glare that held both desperation and chilling detachment.

 

"What -- what are you doing here?” Jacobs could barely squeak out. It was beyond insult to injury that the trampish young tough who had stolen Frank away from him was here . . . . . but if Blane was alive . . . ! Hope! "You didn't -- Frank -- the boat -- the storm -- you're alive! Frank! Where is Frank?"

 

Frantically, Derek flew into the next room, the lab, and scanned the surroundings as quickly as he could.

 

"Frank!"

 

No sign of his friend. It didn't matter now that Pierson had abandoned him for Adams. Frank had obviously come to Derek in his time of need -- to help him now that he was on the run thanks to his foolish fling. Frank had come back for aid and consolation. Seen the error of his ways. Despite his little foray into criminal activity with Blane, Pierson was coming back. Derek would make everything right again. Hide his lover, keep him safe. Life would be as good again.

 

Running into the next room, a large holding cell with chains on the walls to restrain the animals recovering from sedation, Derek was astounded Pierson was not there. "Frank?” He didn't understand it. Rushing back to the office, he stopped just inside the room. "Frank. Where is he?"

 

"Don't know," Blane grumbled. "Probably dead."

 

Jacobs gasped. Shaken, he sank into the nearest chair. "No -- you're here --"

 

"Lucky. The storm -- surf was unbelievable," the muscled younger man snarled. "The Coast Guard turned us back. When we were close to shore we must have hit the coral reefs and the boat sank."

 

Jacobs shook his head, feeling faint with pain. He had given up his friend for dead, then hope had cruelly burst through the black like sunshine through the storm clouds.

 

"He had to have survived!  YOU’RE alive!  He has to come back to me!"

 

"Doubt it," Adams countered tiredly. "He wasn't in as good of shape as I am. And it was tough on me. Never saw him after the boat cracked up."

 

Derek stared at him and wished looks could kill. "You could have saved him," he grated hoarsely, his grief hardly allowing the words to slip by the anguish.  “You filthy trash!  Why didn’t you save him!

 

"It was every man for himself, buddy."

 

He couldn’t help the sobs choking every word, every thought. "Then why are you here?" He shook his head, burying his face in his hands.

 

"You were his safety net, Derek."

 

Jacobs cringed at the use of his name by this gigolo. He had taken Frank away, had seduced Frank into a crazy notion of riches and escape to some private paradise. How could this vile creature come here now?

 

"I don't know what you mean. Just -- just get out. Go away. You ruined Frank's life! You ruined mine! Can’t you see how I loath you?  Get out!"

 

"Not so fast," Blane shook his head. "I need your help. Frank didn't take all the money with him. He hid it away. Had me deposit it in his own bank. That was pretty clever, huh?  Can’t deny that old Frank had brains.  I was disguised and everything, but still, it worked. Trouble is, I can't go get it now. I’m too well known.  You can."

 

Jacobs scoffed. "Why would I possibly do that for you?"

 

"A couple reasons,” he arrogantly countered. “One, I don't know anyone else who would help me. And, two, if you don't, I'll figure out something else and make sure you pay for my inconvenience."

 

"Blackmail," came the soft groan, the tone knowing. Why was he not surprised? Blane knew too many secrets. Thanks to Frank obviously. "How prosaic."

 

"Whatever that means," Adams shrugged. "You know the drill, buddy. Prominent and respected bachelor moves in all the right circles. Would lose everything if all his friends found out he loves men instead of women. So you pay to keep it a secret. The number one weakness for your kind."

 

"You mean OUR -- type," Jacobs corrected bitterly. "You were Frank's lover, too."

 

Adams tilted his head back and smiled lazily. "I'm anything I need to be if the price is right."

 

"That's what you had on Frank, isn’t it?" he snapped out bitterly. It made him feel a little more understanding and compassion for his former lover. Not that he ever turned his love for Frank to hate, but he still felt the horrible loss from when Pierson abandoned him. "You blackmailed him."

 

Laughing, Adams shook his head. "Didn't need to. Sorry, Derek, but Frank fell into a common trap known to lure middle-aged men of any persuasion. He wanted something more exciting and fulfilling out of life and you couldn't give it to him.” He shrugged with a casual superiority that was confident, smug, and arrogant. "Don't worry; I'm here for you now."

 

The thought was repugnant to him, but Derek's shattered emotions were slowly knitting back into place, around the motivations that had kept him going since he learned of Frank's death. Revenge. Blane's arrogance reminded him all too much of McGarrett's righteous superiority, and the method to avenge Pierson returned.

 

"I don't want you," Jacobs assured the man. "But I could use you. So I'll offer you a trade. You help me and I'll help you."

 

As expected, the grasping, greedy nature of the ex-con came to the forefront. "What do you want?"

 

"Something that will probably come quite naturally to you, Blane. Revenge. Violence."

 

Smirking, the man's face took on a hard plane. "Sure. Against who?"

 

"Whom.”

 

“Whatever.”

 

“Against the man who killed Frank."

 

"Frank died in the storm --"

 

"Who pushed him there!" Jacobs shouted back, launching from the chair to stand in front of the usurper. "Who wanted to capture Frank? Who hounded him into the storm where he lost his life?"

 

"The cops?"

 

Blane was clearly mystified, not very bright obviously, but the hungry tone in his words denoted more than casual loathing.

 

"Yes. THE cop! McGarrett."

 

A furtive wash of sly admiration and abhorrence cast Blane's face into an aspect of strange anticipation. The indirect light from the drawn blinds gave his expression one of mysterious danger and commitment.

 

"Yeah. I know McGarrett.”

 

"McGarrett has his weaknesses -- weakness. I know what it is."

 

"Love it," Adams chuckled with a harsh grating sound that filled the room with a chill. "I wanted to get McGarrett when I met him. He had that kind of effect on me too. How you plan on doing that?  You want me to off him for you?  No problem.”

 

“Oh, no, it won’t be that easy.”

 

“He’s a cop, he bleeds.  I’ve seen it.  Good red blood, Derek.”

 

Jacob’s nose twitched at the visceral description.  He knew Williams was in the hospital from whatever happened in the pursuit of Frank.  On the television, McGarrett seemed battered and weak.  Interested now in the lurid details, Derek chose to patiently await the luscious particulars of how his nemesis might have suffered already.  For now, he had a better plan.

 

“We aren’t just going to kill him.  He is famous and clever.  We have to trap him.  I have found such a prey for us.”

 

“What?”

 

“His weakness, you cretin!  Williams!  Williams is his weakness.”

 

“Williams.  He’s not dead?”

 

“No.  Hospitalized.  I’ve already visited the dear Achilles.”

 

“Huh?”

 

“Never mind, I’m afraid the reference will go over your head, Blane.  Suffice it to say the great detective’s weak point is the one to strike at first.  We take down the vulnerable sidekick, then the wretched hero.”

 

Adams stood up and stretched.  “Oh, yeah, the little cop.  Tried to save McGarrett.  My aim musta been off.  You shoulda seen the way they tried to protect each other.  Stupid cops.  Williams was the kryptonite for sure.”

 

Jacobs observed the other man with a raised eyebrow.  “How prosaic your reference, Blane, but so accurate for our super cop.  I think you do understand.”

 

“Yeah, I get it and I'm game."

 

For the first time in many days, Derek smiled. The raw threat in those few words sent him a shiver of joy. Blane hated the top cop as much as he did. This was going to be easier than he had anticipated.

 

 

*****

 

 

The remainder of Dan’s hospital stay was uneventful, but less-than-restful for the patient. He couldn’t help but be a little more on edge, even on pain medication, as the specter of the threats against his life and the life of his boss still rang clearly in his head. Although his memory of the terrifying brush with the murderous visage had become hazy, he would not be completely convinced that it never happened. In the interest of not appearing crazy, he stopped mentioning it. After all, even Steve did not believe him.

 

Dr. Bergman, initially reluctant to release the bachelor to an empty apartment, finally gave in to his patient’s pleas later in the week. He did so with the proviso that someone check in on him daily for the next week or so. McGarrett accepted responsibility for his second-in-command, and the patient was signed out to his care. The morning of Dan’s discharge, Steve collected him from the hospital and drove him home.

 

“I’ll bring back dinner later tonight.”

 

“Sure you’re up to the extra duty?  You’re looking pretty worn out.  Concussions are tricky things.”

 

“Thank you, Doctor Williams,” the boss smirked.  “I’ve already had enough questions from Bergman, who should know better.  So, I’m going to bring you dinner– something besides peanut butter and jelly,” McGarrett said smiling as moved to leave.

 

Already tired from the simple drive home, Dan gingerly stretched out on his couch. He replied to the dig, “As long as it’s not green Jello or chicken broth!”

 

It felt good to be back at home, a breeze from the ocean wafting through the room.  Patches of sunlight broke through the billowed, dark clouds that hovered as stubborn remnants of the hurricane.  Flooding in the mountains still occurring, clean up where possible was taking place around Oahu, but alerts were still out for heavy weather for the rest of the week.  The conditions kept his memories of the crisis at the forefront of his mind.  The natural transition was then to the strange attack in the hospital.  Rubbing against the still-healing wound in his arm, he remembered the fight, the IV ripped out, the threat against Steve – still believing he had not imagined it all.

 

He tried to start a book on Hawaiian mountain flora that he’d picked up a few weeks before, but the sofa was too comfortable, the view out the lanai door too comforting, and with the lull of the wafting ocean waves, he found himself dozing.

 

Flashes of the attack played like fragmented puzzle pieces in his mind.  Sights and sounds rushed together in a blur of confusing and frightening images. 

 

‘Steve McGarrett. I am going to kill him, but not before he suffers, and you -- before you die, are going to help me.’

 

How was he going to help someone kill Steve?  He would never do anything to hurt his friend.  Still too weak and tired from the shooting and surgery, he did not have the energy or acuity of thought to come up with any answers.  Frustratingly, whatever he might be able to figure out would have to wait.

 

A noise caused him to start. He lifted his head off the sofa cushion and listened. There it was again – someone was slowly turning the knob on his front door, perhaps testing to see whether it was locked. Dan was sure that Steve would have locked it on the way out, but all the same, he stood and moved gently to the door. He carefully grabbed the knob, and with a quick movement that sent lances of pain through his stomach, he pulled it open and jumped into the hallway. Dan could see an arm with what he thought might be a camera slipping into the elevator just as the doors closed.

 

He started to jog, and then nearly doubled over with pain at his foolish physical exertion.  Holding his abdomen, he walked as quickly as he could to the end of the walkway to see that the elevator was going down.  Groaning and aching, but nonetheless determined, he shuffled to the stairwell. He took the steps as swiftly as possible, his body reminding him piercingly that it was not ready for such strenuous movement.

 

By the time he hit the lobby, his insides were burning from overtaxed, unhealed muscles. He moved out the door and shot looks in both directions. The only remotely suspicious car was a blue station wagon that pulled too quickly from his parking garage, laid a patch of rubber turning into traffic, then moving out of sight.  The vehicle was gone too quickly for the detective to spot a license plate or other identifying features.  Feeling light-headed and nauseous from the exercise, he took the elevator back to his apartment.

 

Settling back onto the couch, he worried. Am I being paranoid? Wasn’t somebody rattling my doorknob? Steve’s gonna think I’m a basket case. Exhausted, he closed his eyes as he tried to think of a reasonable – sane – way to discuss this with his friend.

  

This time when he jerked into consciousness, he knew the sound was that of Steve slipping his key into the lock to admit himself. He wasn’t certain when he had drifted off, but the sleep had been needed -- it was after Eight PM -- he hadn’t stirred in hours.

 

Dan had expected Chinese carryout, but Steve stepped in with a bag of groceries. Within minutes, the chef was placing shrimp crepes on the table. The food and quiet back-and-forth about the cases of the day relaxed both men. After dinner, they took their coffee over to the more comfortable chairs in the living room.

 

Steve truly enjoyed the banter in which he found it difficult to engage with most people. Always searching for motivations, even in himself, he’d decided years ago that it was Williams’ non-judgmental acceptance of confidences, his willingness to acknowledge and share his own imperfections that helped bond them. The comfort level with his friend had been there very early in their relationship, and had only grown with each passing year.

 

Knowing his friend so well alerted him to the quiet moodiness underscoring Williams’ frame of mind.  What inner storms were troubling the detective?  After what they had been through, McGarrett could not blame him for changeable, residual emotional effects from their life-threatening encounter.  The betrayal from a former friend, the threats, and the murderous intent – it still gave Steve dark anxiety – naturally it would leave a similar impression on Danno. 

 

After a silence where Williams fidgeted with his hands, he tentatively cleared his throat.  “So, what would you say if I told you that I still have trouble believing that I didn’t have a visitor that day in the hospital?”

 

Steve set down his coffee on the end table, and put his feet up on the footstool in front of Dan’s overstuffed chair. Carefully ruminating over an answer, he knew he needed to approach this unfounded memory from a rational perspective.  Hiding his disappointment that this phantom incident still troubled his friend, he countered with a professional tone.

 

“I would ask you what makes you think you did? How well do you remember it?”

 

“I know he threatened you, Steve.  I can give you a quote if you want it.”

 

Placidly remaining objective, McGarrett knew the only way to fight this continued dream was to counter with resolved honesty.  “Do you also remember telling us that he kissed you?”

 

Dan, who’d been studying his coffee, turned suddenly to look at Steve. “I said that?” He paused, his lip twitching with disgust. A faint, surrendering scowl slipped onto his face before he looked away. “No, I don’t remember that.”

 

“Drugs like the ones they were pumping into you can make you see things that aren’t there and forget things that are.” He cleared his throat, not liking this any more than his friend. "You were influenced by what went on up on the North Shore with Pierson and Adams. So," he said firmly, "let’s look at this case like any other. You say someone entered your room and tried to kill you, right?”

 

The young detective knew where his boss was going, and resigned himself to one of McGarrett’s famous irrefutable rides of logic. Dan responded, “Right.”

 

“Fact - witnesses say they did not see anyone unusual enter your room.”

 

Dan interrupted, “That doesn’t mean that someone didn’t enter – it just means that nobody saw him enter.”

 

“I grant you that, but let’s continue. You say he tried to kill you. Don’t take this wrong, but why aren’t you dead?”

 

Dan replied slowly this time thinking through the event as best he could remember it, “He put his hand over my nose and mouth and – wait – he told me that he was going to kill me… and then…” Williams frowned in concentration for a few moments before he looked up suddenly. “No! He said that before I died, I would have to help him – help him kill you! He said – he said he was going to kill you after you suffered.”

 

“Ahh, Detective Williams, your memory of the event seems to be changing. I wish we could find a reliable witness to this crime,” he wryly offered with a twinkle in his eye.

 

Dan ran his hand through his hair and grimaced, “Point taken. It’s just that I’ve had painkillers before, and I don’t remember ever imagining something so – so real.”

 

“The human mind has an amazing ability to mix fact with fiction. Bergman said the fact that you’re mixing fictitious crime with reality is no surprise.”  Grimly, he assessed,  “Considering our run in with Blane, I'm not surprised your nightmare included a kiss."

 

"I guess so.” The detective seemed to feel better. “So, I don’t suppose that you want to hear that someone with a camera tried to open my door today, and that I chased him downstairs where he got into a blue station wagon and drove off.” Steve’s mouth dropped slightly at the revelation. Before his boss could reply, Dan continued, “But then I guess I’m not one hundred percent certain that whoever tried my door was actually in the station wagon.” He let out a short laugh, “As a matter of fact, I felt kind of stupid when I got back upstairs.”

 

Steve, relieved that Dan was beginning to come around, replied to the tale, “No, you’re right – I didn’t want to hear that. You probably scared the heck out some reporter.” With a sharp glance, he added, “And you might have injured yourself.” His attitude softened marginally as he considered the stress -- physically and emotionally – the imaginary hospital episode was putting on Williams. "Just make sure you don't go chasing anyone else. If you think -- if there's a problem -- an incident -- you are to tell me before you do anything!"

 

The officer gave a half-nod.  “Just make sure you’re still careful, Steve.”

 

A little impatient with the continued theme of over-defensiveness, McGarrett refrained from a sharp retort.  No one who had been through what they survived would easily return to the normal world.  Shadows, sounds, nightmares – they were the storm-phantoms that haunted them both.  While his memories were not as scary as Danno’s, he was not free himself of horrible images when he closed his eyes.  Willing to cut his friend a little slack, knowing his safety motivated Williams so incredibly – perhaps gave him the extra will he needed to fight so hard to hang on to his life up there on the North Shore? – he would be gentle with the intense concern.

 

“If you really want to protect me, Danno, you’ll get on the fast track to recovery and get back to the office.  You know how bad Chin is at administrative work.”

  

 

*****

 

 

“He was there alright.”

 

Jacobs nodded, pleased at his plotting so far. “Hmm, I’m surprised they released him from the hospital so soon – all the better for us though. Did he see you?”

 

“I don’t think so, but he definitely knew that somebody was fooling around his door.”

 

“Good – paranoia – the weapon of the Caesars of Ancient Rome – it sets the scene so nicely.”

 

“Whatever,” Blane shrugged, but then smirked with relish.  “What I like is he’s scared.”

 

 

*****

 

 

“Danny Williams! What are you doing in here?”

 

Jenny Sherman’s surprise was tinged with disapproval.

 

What should have been two weeks of recuperative leave turned into four days of pseudo bed rest at home. By day five, when Williams, admittedly still feeling a little delicate, strode into the office, Jenny jumped to censure him for not taking more time off.

 

“Jenny, I’m gonna go off the deep end sitting around at home. I might as well be in here where I can at least help Steve with some paperwork.”

 

“You’re chomping at the bit to help me with paperwork? It’s too late – you’re already off the deep end! And I KNOW you didn’t drive here!” McGarrett had stepped out of his office when he’d heard his friend’s voice.

 

A crooked smile slipped onto Williams’s face. “Oh, no! I hitched a ride with an HPD unit going off duty.” Dan cocked his head in a mild gesture of accusation. “Besides – my car keys have all mysteriously vanished, but you knew that, didn’t you?”

 

McGarrett acknowledged the “theft” with only the slightest movement of his head as he scrutinized his not-completely healed officer closely, and then made his decision. While admonishing Williams that he was, in no uncertain terms, NOT okay’d for field work, he would be allowed to return to limited duties in the office as he felt up to it. While he didn’t want to overload the detective, Steve felt better having him there for reasons he couldn’t quite identify. More seemed right with the world with his second-in-command nearby. Since he’d come onboard with Five-0, Dan had become a great sounding board for Steve to voice theories on cases, organize arguments, and vent frustrations. Dan’s often outrageous “what-ifs” were initially the butt of jokes by Ben and Chin, but as often as not, the “what if” turned out to be the fact. When the younger detective was missing from the office for any length of time, the head of Five-0 felt a definite void.

 

Dan and Steve were as different in personality as Hawaii and Alaska. While deeply compassionate and committed to the welfare of humanity, Steve presented an aloof picture of inflexibility to the world. Very few people, even those who had known him for years, had ever been privy to the secret part of him that could do what he disdainfully called “bleeding.” The same compassion flowed more openly from the much younger Dan Williams. Much more readable than his boss, he enjoyed crowded social occasions, albeit not as much as adventures in nature such as surfing and hiking. People tended to feel like they were friends only minutes after meeting the affable detective. It was a gift that the officer was able to use to his advantage in many investigative situations. Yet, with everything that made the two men so different, they shared common bonds; ethic, code of honor, and drive to uphold the law that would bind the pair more tightly than either would ever consciously realize.  They seemed to live at a level beyond just doing a good job – they were passionate about doing what was right and making sure justice prevailed one case at a time.

 

Satisfied that his surprise return had achieved the desired results, Williams gingerly settled in behind his desk.  Of course, he had his own reasons for wanting to be back in the office quickly. The threatening words of his hallucination continued to haunt him.  Staying here close to Steve gave him the impression that he could even somehow – in his limited health – protect his friend.

 

I am going to kill him, but not before he suffers, and you are going to help me.”

 

Some of the exchange was still lost on him, but not that terrifying sentence.  Never far from his thoughts, he could not shake the feeling that this was no dream.  Someone had threatened Steve and him and if he could not convince anyone – particularly Steve – he would take charge himself.

 

 

*****

 

 

Over the course of the next several days, Dan continued to struggle with the paranoia that he was being watched. The pressing anxiety translated into overt concern for his friend.  He found himself less at his desk and more in Steve’s office every day.  When McGarrett left for a non field-related reason, i.e. meeting, lunch, interview, Williams tried to work his way into the equation.  What he expected to do to safeguard his friend from any threat he did not know considering he was less that useful as a bodyguard.  Just being with McGarrett, however, might help.  Steve was unexceptional in his concern for his safety and Dan knew if a crisis arose, he would somehow be able to make a difference.

 

While reviewing notes made on the chalkboard, the intercom buzzed, and Jenny reported it was time for McGarrett to leave for his meeting at the capitol.  Suggesting Williams finish the annotations, the boss grabbed his jacket and shouldered into it, stopping when he noted Williams was doing the same at a much slower pace.

 

“Where do you think you’re going?”

 

“I – uh – thought I’d come along.”

 

“To a meeting with a senator?”  The pause was only momentary before his eyes narrowed in displeased suspicion.  “Any particular reason you think you still need to be my shadow, Danno?”

 

Each time he tentatively mentioned the subject or the recommendation that Steve take extra precautions for his safety, his boss became a little less patient. The detective understood McGarrett’s growing frustration.  He had, after all, made a nearly perfect argument that Dan’s monster was not real. And yet, it seemed as if, each time he turned around, he would notice something suspicious.

 

On more than one occasion, he felt he was being tailed. It seemed there was a man – not always the same man, but sometimes it was - watching him. To the non-paranoid mind, one might have said that the men happened to be looking in his direction. More than the strangers that seemed to be observing him were the fact that he continued to catch the occasional glimpse of a blue station wagon, the same one, or one similar to the one that had raced from his parking garage.

 

“I think there’s still a threat against you,” he bluntly returned, through with the hedging.  “I think you’re still in danger.  There are people following me – I think.  I just haven’t been able to catch them . . . .  His voice trailed away as he saw the storm clouds gathering in McGarrett’s shadowed eyes.

 

“You think you’re being followed.  Like the incident with the photographer on your doorstep?” he nearly snorted.  “They never approach you?  You never get a good look at them?  Danno, you’re a brilliant cop!  How could any suspects hope to continually elude you even in your diminished condition?  Think this through; treat it like any other investigation, officer.”

 

He winced at the reminder that he was still not up to adequate physical levels – still not allowed out in the field.  And from the tone of his friend’s stern voice, his mental stability was soon to come into question if he continued this vein of commentary.  He was, however, driven on by a motivation more powerful than fear for himself, for what he must appear to others – even Steve.  His impetus was dread for McGarrett’s very life – a dread that the insane attacker would somehow use him to harm his friend.  That would drive him to do almost anything – even debate with – push Steve beyond reasonable limits.

 

“Some maniac wants to kill you, Steve.  He wants to use me somehow to get to you!  I can’t let that happen!  If you’re not going to take precautions I’m going to have to do it for you!”

 

The near-threat echoed in the air and McGarrett’s nostrils puffed in and out with intense breathing, as if physically restraining a volley of words to shoot down his companion.  The eyes blazed from heated emotions; the lips pressed together in tight control.  After a measured pause, he replied with a level, clipped tone.

 

“Danno, you have to let go of this,” he sternly ordered.  “You had a dream.”

 

“A dream within a dream?” Williams countered stubbornly.

 

“I don’t want to hear about this again, Danno,” came the stinging requirement with demanding authority.  “You went through hell up there on the North Shore, I understand that.  I was there, aikane, I know.  You’ve got to let it go and stop torturing yourself.  If you need more time off –“

 

“No, Steve, I’m not going to get kicked out of the office!” he refused.  “Somebody wants to kill you, can’t you see that?”

 

Expecting a blast of hot anger in reply, McGarrett took him completely off guard by closing his eyes and taking in a deep breath.  When the eyes opened, again they were no longer blazing, but compassionate.  That was almost harder to take. 

 

“Danno, I can take care of myself.  I’ve managed to stay alive this long, haven’t I?”

 

This was no time to count the numerous injuries on the job, nor the times McGarrett needlessly risked his life for others.  Steve didn’t want to hear it because he had already made up his mind.  He didn’t believe the threat was real – didn’t believe the attack in the hospital was real. 

 

“I’ll watch my back when you can’t be there,” he assured.  The intercom buzzed again and Jenny reminded the boss, again, of his appointment.  “Now you finish this and take it easy, and we’ll call it quits a little early tonight.  How about Nick’s for dinner if you feel up to it,” he ordered in a tone that left no room for debate.

 

Nodding, Williams watched him leave.  His fears were being dismissed!  Steve was not taking this seriously – worse – he felt this fear prompted by visions from a fevered imagination.  Frustrated, he sank into a chair and stared at the chalkboard, the words a blur as his mind worked on the more important problem.  How was he going to protect a reluctant boss who did not believe there was a threat?

 

 

*****

 

 

Certain McGarrett was teaching him a lesson, the next time the Governor asked for a conference, Williams was invited to come along.  The meeting was the usual detail work and Williams took notes, interjected a few comments, but knew there was no real need for him to be there.  This was Steve’s way of getting back at him for the over-protectiveness.

 

On the way back to the Palace, Williams noticed a blue wagon cruise past with the driver leaning over snapping pictures out the passenger window.  Despite the last half-hour of routine dullness, he automatically snapped into investigative mode and could only think that this was, at last, something solid to prove to McGarrett he was not fantasizing.

 

“Steve!” he blurted out.  “Did you see that guy in that car with the camera pointed at us?” Dan asked, staring in the direction the vehicle had proceeded. His boss looked up from the document he was perusing.

 

“Where?”

 

“He went that way,” Dan pointed after the blue station wagon.

 

“Danno! Let it go! There are lots of blue station wagons and lots of tourists with cameras!”

 

Williams nearly groaned, about to argue.  When he realized McGarrett had continued walking and was not even paying attention to him, he caught up with his friend, too frustrated to continue the dispute.

 

 

*****

 

 

It was early morning, after another suspicious blue station wagon incident, that he made a decision. He was walking just outside his apartment after a short jog (which rapidly turned into a brisk walk, the mind being willing but the abdomen muscles not quite ready for the strain).  One of his first attempts at an excursion since his injury – when he was certain that someone inside the vehicle had pulled up a camera from below the dash board, and aimed it in his direction.

 

Okay, he decided, No more pupule, knee-jerk reactions. I’m going to take Steve’s advice and approach this like any other case. Williams, you are after all a detective.

 

As soon as he arrived in the office that morning, he started a new file, which he labeled, “Nut Case,” his own recognition of the improbability of the situation. He picked up the phone before the office got busy and dialed HPD.

 

“Charlie, yeah, yeah, I’m doing great, thanks. Say, I need you to do a search for me. I need a list of all blue station wagons registered here on Oahu. Okay, narrow the list to all models after 1960 – yeah – that’d be great. Thanks, Charlie.” As time allowed, he made notes on what he remembered and did what little he could in the way of tracking down leads.

  

 

*****

 

 

Scribbling remarks about a phone interview, Williams glanced up and gave a nod of acknowledgment to Sergeant Duke Lukela, who leaned into the cubicle and gave a wave.  Put on hold, Dan asked the HPD officer what he needed.

 

“I’m here checking on the lab results for the Taylor case,” he responded.  Stepping over to the desk, he lowered his voice.  “Charlie was asking if you needed some help with the blue station wagon request.”  He glanced out the window toward McGarrett’s closed door.  “How long you gonna keep at this, bruddah?”

 

Annoyed interest in his private obsession had widened to include everyone connected with his office ohana, Williams had to defend his actions.  “I think there’s a threat to Steve, all right?  How can I not act on my instincts?”

 

Studying him with solemn brown eyes, Lukela’s face was impassive.  “You’re worried about Steve.  He’s worried about you, Danny.”

 

“He thinks I’m pupule, doesn’t he?”

 

Lukela shrugged.  “I don’t know who’s right, but either way you watch yourself.”

 

McGarrett’s door opened and Lukela stepped out to confer with the boss.  They left for the lab together and Williams sighed in frustration.  He had to get some solid evidence against his pursuers soon or Steve was going to have him locked away!

 

 

*****

 

 

“Danny, why are we stopping here, and can’t we do it after we grab something to eat?” Ben complained. The pair had spent the morning questioning the victims of an armed robbery.

 

The detective behind the wheel of the LTD let out an exasperated sigh. “I tell you what – you hit that hot dog stand over there for us while I run into the library. This won’t take me but a couple minutes.” Dan had already parked and gotten out of the car before the Samoan had a chance to respond.

 

As an afterthought, Ben shouted after him, “You want the works on yours?”

 

The officer didn’t look back, but just nodded with a shaka wave that Ben took to mean “yes.” As good as his word, within five minutes, Dan came out of the building with a book in hand. Ben was leaning on the car, his half-eaten hot dog in hand.

 

“What’d ya get?”

 

“Just some background material,” Dan replied as he leaned on the hood of the car, and picked up his lunch.

 

“The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe,” Ben read the title from an upside down perspective.

 

Dan glanced at his friend as he took his first bite, and then glanced again to see that Ben had stopped chewing and was just staring at him.  “What?”

 

“Edgar Allan Poe, huh? You not gonna start quoting ravens are you, bruddah?” Ben finished the bite in his mouth and took another as he waited for an answer.

 

Dan couldn’t help, but smile. “Yeah, well, my hallucination quoted a line from a poem, and I think it was Poe that wrote it. I did a Poe study in an American Lit class at Berkeley, but it was pretty superficial and I don’t remember much to boot.”

 

“You NOT remember? Who was she?” Ben nudged his friend with his elbow.

 

Dan let out a short laugh, and nodded as he admitted, “Her name was Loretta, and I’m lucky I remember the name of the class!”

 

The Samoan smiled and continued chewing as he asked, “Does the boss know that you’re doing this?”

 

“Not specifically,” Dan replied uncomfortably. When no validating comment came from his friend, the detective continued, “It’s not hurting anything if I check this out. If something were to happen to Steve because I let the world bully me into NOT believing what I experienced – or think I experienced – I’d never forgive myself. And please don’t tell me that it was the morphine. If it was, then a short investigation will put this to bed.”

 

Ben considered the explanation quietly as he finished his last bite of hot dog.

 

Dan thought of one more point to make, “And maybe, just maybe, the fact that I think I’ve been tailed on several occasions recently and the hospital incident isn’t related. Steve thinks I’ve got a reporter watching me. But related or not, I owe it to myself and to Steve to check it out.”

 

Before the detective could make another argument, Ben jumped in, “Okay, okay, you’ve convinced me.” Dan’s blue eyes brightened as his friend added, “Not that you’re NOT pupule!”

 

“Thanks, bruddah!”

 

“I’ll just warn you, if Steve finds out –“

 

Dan cut him off with, “You don’t have to warn me, Ben, I know Steve won’t like it.  So I’m not going to tell him.”

 

Shaking his head at the ill-advised course of action, the Samoan sighed.  “Well, he’s not going to hear it from me, I know better.”

 

  

*****

 

 

“This was a great idea, Chin!” Dan exclaimed as the two maneuvered their way through the carnival crowd at Waimanalo Beach. The pair had the four youngest and the third to the oldest, Suzy, of the eight Kelly children in tow. Mai Kelly, Chin’s wife, had taken the others to visit relatives on the Big Island for the weekend, leaving their father to manage the household. For the first time in several days, Dan was not obsessing about being watched. As was the older detective’s plan, the children were occupying most of Dan’s attention.

 

The six-year-old boy, Win, suddenly bolted into the crowd. “Balloons!” he cried as he raced off.

 

Startled by the attempted escape, Dan shouted, “Whoa! Win – hold up!” The detective and Suzy gave pursuit, leaving Chin with the other three. It took the pair half a minute to catch up with Win, who managed to squeeze through the people at a quicker pace than the larger, more polite pursuers.

 

“Excuse me – pardon me – sorry – excuse me!” Dan said as maneuvered closer to his target, with the sixteen-year-old girl close on his heels.

 

At last, he was able to lean down and snatch the youngster off his feet. He had briefly thought to bring him into the air above his head, but realized in time that the muscles on his abdomen were not completely healed from his injury.

 

Instead, he slung the child onto his hip and laughed, “Win – You want a balloon?” He brushed the hair from the nodding child’s face, and grabbed Suzy’s hand as they continued the additional 10 feet to the balloon vendor. He stood the boy in front of him to pick from the rainbow of helium-filled orbs floating above them.

 

He looked at the pretty teenager, who was savoring her time with the attractive, youngest – and oblivious – Five-0 detective, and said, “I guess we’ll probably need four balloons, won’t we, Suzy-Q?” Knowing the other three Kelly children who had not escaped would be upset when their brother returned with a new toy.

 

Suzy smiled coyly, and replied, “What about me?”

 

“Oh, I forgot – a woman never gets too old for balloons or flowers!” He winked at her, and directed his next comment to the vendor, “Better make it five balloons, friend!”

 

As Dan pulled out his wallet, he glanced around casually surveying the scene. His eyes came back suddenly to a man, whose face had become familiar in the past few weeks. The man -- dark haired, drooping mustache, wrap-around sunglasses -- who was peering from an outcropping of natural trees and bushes about a hundred yards away, seemed to be staring in his direction, but did not start or seem dismayed when Dan made eye contact with him.

 

“That’ll be a buck, Mister. Mister?” The little, bald man tugged the sleeve of William’s aloha shirt to regain his attention. The detective looked down as the man repeated, “One dollar please!”

 

Dan looked down to pull out a dollar bill as and then he looked up and tried to find the face again, but the constantly shifting crowd blocked his view. More subdued, Dan bent down and tied the red balloon to Win’s little wrist. “There! It can’t get away from you!” He picked up the delighted boy and, with Suzy, a collection of balloons in her tow, clinging adoringly to his arm, they made their way back to Chin and the others.

 

Chin noticed that upon his return from their balloon adventure that Dan was suddenly more distracted, and for the rest of the afternoon, seemed to be “on duty.”

 

“Danny, what’s up?” The discerning Chinese detective was mindful of his colleague’s mood change.

 

Dan took a breath to reply as they headed towards the parking lot with four very tired children. “I saw –”

 

Before he finished the sentence, he scanned the parking lot and locked eyes with Chin, who was halfway expecting him to say that he thought someone was following them. Dan could see willingness in the barrel-chested detective’s eyes to hear Dan’s concern, and he was grateful that the silent invitation was there. Normally, Dan could use his boss as an outlet for his suspicions, worries, and other random ponderings, but this subject was becoming a sore point with Steve. A hesitation and then a sigh came from the younger detective. What good would it do to keep harping on this, even with a more understanding ear?

 

“Never mind – it was nothing.” He stopped walking and to finish his thought, “Chin?”

 

“Yeah, bruddah?”

 

“Thanks.”

 

“For what?”

 

“Just thanks.” Chin knew the source of his friend’s gratitude, but before he could respond, both detectives’ attentions were turned to the pursuit of their charges as the children spilled into the parking lot and scurried in different directions.

  

 

*****

 

  

The breeze was invigorating early that morning when Dan stepped out for a morning walk/jog. He took a moment to stretch before trotting down the sidewalk. His muscles were rapidly recovering now and it felt good to know that he could get out and work up a sweat before beginning the rigors of the day.

 

Normally, he would round the corner and head to the beach access point, but today, he changed his routine and turned the opposite direction from his regular route. He didn’t like to run near the busy road, but decided that it couldn’t hurt to vary his routine a bit – just in case the world’s wrong and I’m right, he thought sarcastically. It was hard to be alone in his belief that Steve was in danger, but the potential consequences were so dire that he found it difficult to accept the logic in what Steve, the doctors, and the other detectives were saying. Yes, he’d been drugged. Yes, his memory of the moments was spotty.

 

Shaken from his thoughts as a blue station wagon slowly turned the corner just a few houses away. Dan wasn't close enough to clearly see the face of the driver, but it was enough of a jarring recognition that Dan stopped in his tracks. Dark hair… mustache… Like the guy at the carnival -- For an instant -- no -- it couldn’t be – it had looked like the face of -- Blane Adams?  No, Adams was dead.  Adams had short, blond hair and no mustache.  Adams had died in the storm . . . .

 

Starting off at a fast walk, then a little bit of a jog, Dan approached the car, which suddenly turned into the lane directly into the path of traffic. The oncoming dump truck had no opportunity to apply his brakes, and so slammed into the wagon. The shock of the accident jolted Dan to a momentary stop. Then he automatically burst into a sprint.

 

Steam was pouring out of both vehicles. The truck driver had stumbled out of his truck and was leaning on a tree to catch his breath. The man was so pale and distraught Williams feared he might be having a heart attack. He took a moment to divert to him first.

 

“He pulled right out in front of me! I couldn’t stop! it –” the driver, a heavyset Polynesian man in his forties, was hyperventilating, his face white and his lips pale.

 

“I know –” Dan tried to calm the man as he placed a hand on the man's big shoulder. “I saw the whole thing. Do you have a radio in the truck?” The driver, breathing hard and shaking, nodded. Dan continued, “Then get on your radio and get the police here – and tell them we need an ambulance!” Dan snapped the instructions and proceeded on to the blue station wagon.

 

He was shocked again, but this time in a way, he had not anticipated. The door of the station wagon was open, but no one was in the driver's seat. Blood on the upholstery, the steering wheel, the asphalt, attested to the fact that the injured blond man had been there and fled.  The most amazing find of all, though, was the blood-matted, dark wig sitting on the floor of the car. 

 

The driver must have been more worried about the consequences of his actions -- the accident -- rather than getting medical aid. Or maybe, Dan pondered, he was afraid of meeting up with a Five-0 detective face to face.

 

Dark wig.  Could it really have been Blane Adams in disguise?  Was he truly going mad?  If the fugitive was alive and back in Honolulu, why play these games?  This was not the MO of the surly creep who had tormented, then gladly shot him, a few weeks ago.  No, Adams didn’t have the brains or imagination to set up a series of misery like Dan had suffered through lately.  This kind of crazy stalking didn’t sound anything like Frank Pierson, either.  They had only turned murderous when necessitated by a threat between them and their money. 

 

None of it made any sense.  The stalking; the strange visit in the hospital (he couldn’t remember the image of that man), but that spectre was neither Adams nor Pierson.  WAS he hallucinating?  Well, he was imagining the man with the dark wig, was he?  How did he present all this in a coherent, logical, and reasonable theory to Steve, though?  It still wasn’t making much sense to him.

 

 

*****

 

 

Dan arrived at the office that morning an hour later than he intended. With the puzzle of the accident still fresh, he entered the office with a little more reserved countenance than usual. Chin rose from his desk as soon as he saw the detective enter the office, and approached him.

 

“Danny! You okay? I hear you had busy morning!”

 

Dan nodded before replying, not sure how much of the incident he wanted to share. “Yeah, Chin, thanks.

 

“Hey, bruddah!” Ben greeted as he breezed into the office. "You weren't too close to the accident, I hope?"

 

"No."

 

“Danno, everything okay?” the head detective asked as he joined the group. Okay, the coconut wireless certainly was working over time.

 

Dan wiped the grimace from his face, and smiled reassuringly at his boss, “Yeah, Steve. I’m fine. Sorry I’m late.”

 

“Late? Sounds like you started work early today!”

 

The young man nodded slightly. 

 

“I haven’t had to direct traffic too many times in my career,” he said.

 

Dan decided it was best not to mention that he believed the driver of the blue station wagon was following him, or that it could possibly be Blane Adams. He felt he needed to build his case before bringing up the subject again.  He did casually inquire about the ongoing search for Pierson and Adams, but there were still no leads.  McGarrett routinely kept the file open, but had mentioned in the last few weeks that he did not believe either criminal survived the hurricane off the coast that night.

 

  

*****

 

 

“You panicked you fool!"

 

The bleeding, angry Adams turned from the sink and shoved Jacobs into the nearest wall. "Don't ever talk to me like that, little man."

 

The rage was still there -- livid hatred for the situation and for his plan being ruined. He wasn't sure whom he detested more -- Blane, himself, Dan Williams -- he just knew this was a set back to his master plan to get the one he ultimately hated -- McGarrett. He had to keep reminding himself that Blane was a means to an end. Soon McGarrett would be hurting as much as he did, and then he would be done with all of them.

 

“What's the big deal anyway? So this sets them on guard. I have an easy solution to that,  we just take out the little cop. Let me kill Williams. There are more direct and quicker ways to get revenge on people – even high and mighty cops like McGarrett.” His grin was pure evil as he turned back to the mirror to finish his first aid. "As much as I would love to personally get my hands on him."

 

Jacobs looked at the hulking, surly figure that Adams cut. He sighed loudly as he contemplated about the best way to respond. He needed Adams to do the physical dirty work of his plan. He sensed in his reluctant ally a communing spirit of malevolence. Hatred could make as curious bedfellows as love, he was learning.

 

"My dear Adams, imagine – if you are able – a man with no apparent vices and very few personal attachments, who for all intents and purposes, lives for his work – which by the way is to track down the perpetrators of criminal acts.  You know the type. When you take a man like that – and you commit a criminal act against something to which he’s emotionally attached, this is more painful to him than his own slow death. Of course, his own slow death will happen in due course. The pictures – his own dream within a dream -- will help McGarrett to become aware more quickly of what is happening and how helpless he is to do anything about it, thus prolonging his agony,”

 

The venom in Jacobs’ voice obviously irked Adams.  “You’ve never been put away," Blane assessed, turning around to leer at him. "You wouldn't be interested in this playing around if you understood. I like this suffering idea – as long as we don't take forever. I want that money, Jacobs. And I want it soon or I walk.” With his big hands, he twisted the towel and wrapped it around the smaller man's neck. “And we know what happens to you when I get tired of this little game."

 

"Then you don't get your money," he countered in a rasp. "Or your revenge."

 

Blane backed away, leaning on the sink to stare at his accomplice. "Yeah, I want to get McGarrett AND his favorite boy – just to see them sweat and suffer. A con's dream," he smiled broadly. "The money is a lot better than dreams.  This better not take too long, that's all I'm telling you."

 

"It won't," Jacobs assured, removing the towel and sagging into his office. "I'm ready for this to come to the next stage."

 

 

*****

 

 

The “Nut Case” file slowly filled with notes and information. The blue station wagon list – the Dream-Within-a-Dream poem – the people-after-McGarrett list all took up a pretty thick report file.  Still unable to put a clear face to the assailant in the hospital, he focused on the quotes from the Poe work.  He felt the lines were personally important to this guy who so passionately wanted revenge against Steve.  Copious notes were scribbled on a typed copy of the full poem.  Searching back to his American Lit days, he tried to remember symbolism and theories connected with poetry without getting too far off the track.  Poems were personal, lyrical messages to many, of course, and it might be impossible to nail down what his attacker really felt about Poe’s significance. 

 

With the distance of time, he had trouble remembering everything the nut had told him.  He had been under heavy sedation, and fighting for his life at the time, but what he recollected he tried to understand as through the eyes of his assailant.

 

‘Take this kiss upon the brow.’

 

Not a line he liked thinking about after what Steve told him, but if the attacker kissed him – he shivered every time he vaguely brushed against that thought – then the first line was also significant.

 

‘ Hope has flown away in a night, or in a day, a dream within a dream.’

 

The hope bit, that was pretty easy to connect with someone out for revenge.  The nut believed Steve had taken away his hope.  The dream within a dream – that was still a bit vague, and could mean about anything.

 

Thumbing through his file, he pushed aside the poetry and concentrated on the solid facts in his possession.  The registered owner of the blue wagon was a surprise – the City of Honolulu! It was a staff vehicle owned by the Honolulu Zoo, and routinely checked out for errands.

 

HPD had run the usual investigation in a traffic hit and run, but it was a low priority case. The truck driver, he had learned, was okay. The case was filed away at HPD as a possible case of someone stealing the car and running after the accident.

 

Upon learning this news, Dan checked the interviews with personnel at the zoo. The few employees with records were checked and cleared. Doodling on the file folder containing the *Nut Cases* he scribbled over and over again the name *Blane*. The image of Blane Adams -- of a disguised man who might have been Adams -- would not leave his thoughts though. Was he imagining seeing the disgusting criminal? 

 

Without bringing Steve’s attention to his interest, he double-checked the post-hurricane reports from HPD and the Coast Guard.  That terrible night when he was fighting for his life in the hills of the North Shore, Pierson and Adams had been out at sea – actually turned back to shore by the Coast Guard.  Wreckage from numerous boats littered the coastline even now – the weather still too rough, the surf too high – for much substantial clean up from the damage.  They suspected Pierson’s boat had been crushed off Laie Point, but they had never confirmed that theory.  The bodies of the fugitives had not been recovered, certainly, because Bergman was vigilant for the criminals and would have reported the casualties.  Hospitals and physicians were also alerted and no mention of Adams or Pierson came to Five-0. Every avenue had been covered.  The fugitives were dead.  They could not be following him now. 

 

Frustrated with the many mysteries with no conclusions, Dan had to find out for himself. Paperwork caught up, he decided it was time to get out of the office for a field trip.

  

“Jenny, I’ll be back in an hour or so.”

 

“Where are you going, Danny? Steve will be expecting you here for the meeting with the D.A.”

 

“To the zoo! I’ll make it back for the meeting!” The detective smiled and winked at the perplexed secretary as he strolled out the door.

 

 

*****

  

 

“Excuse me; I’m looking for somebody in a supervisory capacity.”

 

The detective's gaze was met by a tall, distinguished figure in a white medical jacket.

 

“And you are?” The employee replied pleasantly. Dan pulled out his ID and displayed it to the man while his eyes did a quick and casual scan around the room. “Dan Williams – Five-0.”

 

The man visually inspected the badge for a moment before replying, “Yes, what can I do for you?"

 

“I was a witness to an accident involving one of your blue station wagons here at the zoo. I’m told that it was registered to this department."

 

The stiff, proper man with an almost exaggerated air of propriety stared at him with cool disdain. "Our state police investigating a traffic accident and an old stolen car?” The arched eyebrow seemed a final condemnation of tax-payer funds misused.

 

"As the first officer on the scene, I’m just following through with a few routine matters," Williams confidently continued, determined not to let this condescending man know this was a fishing trip somewhere way outside the galaxy of his duties. He decided not to make up some elaborate tale about helping out HPD with a rash of car thefts. No need to give away too much information. "I'm told your department uses the vehicles more than any other unit at the zoo."

 

“We’re always on the move – that’s why we’ve got three out of four of the park’s station wagons. The zoo has several facilities across the island. Only this one is open to the public. The others are used for research, as holding areas for large animals.  We allow a few weeks of Q – A – E time – that’s quarantine, acclimatization and evaluation time before making a new arrival available to the public. I am not responsible for keeping track of zoo property. Perhaps you should speak with the security department?"

 

"Perhaps I should.” The detective nodded and pulled out his card and handed it to the man.

 

“Thank you very much for your time.  If you think of anything else, you can reach me at my office.”

 

“You are welcome, Detective Williams. Oh – and why don’t you come back to the zoo sometime, detective?  A very instructive place for behavioral studies.”

 

Nodding politely, Dan offered a slight smile and turned to walk away, but before he made it more than a few steps, he turned and said, “Oh, I’m sorry – I didn’t catch your name.”

 

“Jacobs – Derek Jacobs, doctor of veterinary medicine,” he smiled. 

 

 

*****

 

 

“Danny,” Jenny’s voice came through the intercom. He didn’t move from his position by the bulletin board, but responded, “Yeah, Jenny?”

 

“I have a message for you –” she paused, and Dan turned his head to face the speaker. “If you’re not at the deli to pick up Candice at six-thirty, you can lose her phone number.” The only outward sign the young man displayed was an extended sigh, and then he replied, “Thanks, Jenny.”

 

The other three officers turned their heads towards Williams to better judge the impact of the message.

 

After a pregnant silence, Dan glanced towards Steve and said, “That’s strike three with Candice headin’ my way.”

 

Another short pause ensued, and then the young detective, apparently already resigned to the fact that his duties were going spoil the evening he had planned, snapped his attention back to the earlier conversation. “So, Ben, I’m shotgun with you this evening for the Kaneohe stakeout setup. It’s better if nobody’s out there alone when we’re so close to a break in this thing.”

 

Before Ben could respond, their boss jumped in. “I’ll ride shotgun with Ben.”

 

Kokua’s surprised expression turned into a sour expression, and was then replaced by a face of long-suffering and resignation to his fate. Even a few hours of stakeout setup with the impatient boss could make for a less-than-pleasant evening. All of this happened behind Steve’s back.

 

To Williams, McGarrett firmly commanded, "There could be some unpleasant action out there, which is why you’re NOT coming.”

 

The protest was on his lips and the boss held up a hand to forestall the obvious objections.

 

“Danno – get out of here and go meet Candice,” Steve commanded.

 

McGarrett suspected that he was the cause of strikes one and two with the young lady, and felt more than a touch of guilt at the prospect of being associated with strike three as well. His friend still seemed not quite himself since he’d been released from the hospital weeks earlier. Plus, he was still obviously distracted with his obstinate refusal to let go of his paranoia.

 

‘Storm damage.  The undercurrent, residual effects of a violent storm that is sometimes not as noticeable as the more obvious, intense destruction.  I shouldn’t have let him come back to work so soon. He deserves a few hours to himself, especially with someone named Candice,’ McGarrett reasoned.

 

His officer’s mouth opened in surprise and then smiled, “Really?” He took a few steps toward Steve, waiting for a confirmation of the great news.

 

Steve’s eyes met with his friend’s, and replied, “Yes, yes – I certainly wouldn’t want to be the cause of a rare Williams strikeout.”

 

Half to himself, Dan replied, “They’re not that rare anymore!” Then without waiting for a change of heart from his boss, he moved toward the door. “Thanks, Steve! I’ll just have time to pick up my car.”

 

He was already speeding towards the door when Steve called out, “What’s the plan?”

  

“Beach Party in Lanikai!” The young man was out the door before another word could be exchanged.

 

Chin smiled with approval, “He needed that, boss!”

 

Steve smiled, but deflected the praise, “I hope he can relax a little, and forget that damn hallucination. I don’t know why he’s so stubborn.”

 

The Samoan detective replied offhandedly, “Yeah – he gets more like you everyday.”

 

The lead detective cocked his head, and said, “What? Me – stubborn?”

 

The Chinese detective couldn’t help but laugh, knowing he’d just heard the truth about both men.

 

Realizing the slip of tongue, Ben backpedaled as best he could, “I mean, well, you know, boss. He just…”

 

The sentence died, and McGarrett, not wanting to admit his agreement with the observation about his own obstinacy, grunted and turned his attention back to his plans for the evening, “So, Ben, what time do we need to roll out of here?”

 

 

*****

 

 

Dan stopped by his apartment long enough to change into blue swim trunks and a blue luau shirt with peach flowers. He didn’t take the time to button the shirt before he was out the door to swap out the stodgy company car for his Mustang convertible. The muscle car, despite its compact appearance, was great for hauling surfboards and hiking gear.  Not to mention impressing girls.

 

Yes! I’m going to be on time! Dan was elated at the thought of a pleased Candice waiting for him at the deli next door to her apartment near the corner of Ala Wai Boulevard and Nahua Street in Waikiki.

 

Mindful of his environment, he approached his car with a little more deliberation than usual, keeping all of his senses tuned to anything out of the ordinary. The professional diligence, however, lasted only an instant before it was replaced by momentary excitement about the upcoming date. 

 

Once on the road, however, thoughts of the past weeks, the constant paranoia about being watched -- continued to tug at his attention as he drove, still catching himself watching carefully for more blue station wagons. Wondering idly whether he was being foolish for allowing himself a brief, pleasant distraction, his mental turbulence came to a crashing halt when he caught sight of the attractive Polynesian woman in the bikini top and very short shorts waiting for him. He pulled up in front of the deli with a minute to spare, and Candice was clearly surprised and happy.

 

That’s a pretty pathetic statement about me. My date is surprised that I showed up.

 

The officer resolved to be a better communicator in the future. He routinely left dates standing before canceling at the last minute because, each time he fervently hoped that he would be able to complete whatever task he had been assigned in time to make it. Of course, his optimism was beginning to flag as he scratched more names out of his address book.  There was a good reason why he didn’t date the same girl more than a few times – not many would put up with a cop’s schedule.

 

As he stepped out of his vehicle to greet her, his anguish over his situation slipped back to the forefront of his thoughts. He took a moment to notice – really SEE and comprehend -- a car that had been behind him for several blocks before he had pulled over. Could it be?  Was he crazy?  The blue Chevy station wagon was now stopped one block away on the same side of the street. 

 

There were lots of blue wagons owned by the City alone.  Seeing those on the streets had to be common, just nothing he noticed before.  Right?  Before he could further evaluate the vehicle, a very affectionate Candice wrapped herself around him, and gave him a passionate kiss.

 

“I owe you an apology,” were the first words from her mouth. With her lips still touching his, she continued, “I REALLY thought you were going to cancel on me again, and so when I called your office, I was already angry at you.” She smiled seductively and went on, “But I promise I’m going to make it up to you.”

 

Dan began, “Well --”

 

Before he could accept her un-necessary apology, the woman pressed her mouth against his again. Dan felt diverted from the attention even as he ran his hands over her smooth back, but from what? Discomfort that he felt he was being watched? Panic that he was missing an opportunity to catch the specter that was tormenting him? Yes, he decided to both. Williams’ thoughts simmered with annoyance at being unable to enjoy the company of his affectionate companion. Carefully, he maneuvered the woman so that he could turn an eye toward the blue Chevy wagon. It was still there.

 

Dan gently wrapped up the passionate display, and opened the car door for Candice. The Mustang jumped into the fray of the evening rush. In the course of their drive to Lanikai, on the southeast shore, Dan did his best to casually evade anybody that might be following, but traffic was moderate with numerous slow downs from tourist buses. Once out of town no sign of the Chevy, he noted with relief. The woman rubbing his leg and playing with his hair proved to be more of a distraction than he would have liked, though, as he kept checking the rearview mirror.

 

The sun was shining in streaming rays over part of the ribbon of highway snaking up the coast.  Along the close shoreline, and drifting into the mountains, though, were thick, dark clouds.  More residual rains from the tropical storm that refused to leave the island chain.  Sprinkles were already dotting them with light spray, which felt exhilarating as they sped along the coast with the top down.

 

Snap out of it, Williams! You’re being a paranoid fool! he chided himself. There is so much of life to enjoy, can’t you get your mind off of the job?

 

As they pulled into the parking area and Candice waved at some friends, Dan was just beginning to shake the detective mode from his thoughts when he yanked himself back to full law enforcement officer alertness. A blue station wagon paused at the entrance to the parking lot before continuing down the road!

 

“Damn!” Dan spat the epithet aloud.

 

“What??” Candice asked as if she did not hear clearly.

 

With sickness in his soul, Dan knew what he needed to do. He pulled the car to the front of the parking lot, but did not park.  As the misty sprinkles turned to real rain, he cast another glance at the daunting blue wagon, then took a deep breath and committed to the necessary course of action.

 

“Candice,” he took her face into his hands, and continued. “Please don’t hate me, but there’s something I’ve got to take care of.”

 

Surprise and then anger flashed onto her face. She slapped his hands away from her and got out of the car. “Hate you? I’m never going to give you another thought!” She stomped off towards the beach.

 

With a pained expression, he looked after her until she vanished into the crowd. "What did I just do?" Dan’s head spun with thoughts of the evening that might have been. “This has got to end!” he snarled aloud. Kicking the vehicle into first, he laid a patch of rubber leaving the parking lot.

 

When he reached the highway there was no sign of the Chevy.  Peering down the hill leading back to Honolulu, he saw no station wagon.  So the suspect headed north.  Instinctively feeling this was correct, he turned right and sped away.

 

 

*****

 

 

Returning to the scene of the crime – even the good guys do it! Dan smiled grimly.

 

The drive to Waimanalo, which was just a few minutes south from where he had left Candice, was pleasant, but too short to dull the regret for the evening that was not to be. After failing to spot the Chevy wagon, he pulled over at the beach where he’d been with the Kellys two weeks before. Already the rain had brushed through this area, it would be light for another two hours, so the parking lot was still peppered with cars. Dan could see a dozen people still engaged in sand castle building, body surfing, and leisurely strolls. A very tame beach by all accounts. With the image of himself, Suzy, and Win at the balloon stand in his mind, he walked out to where he had a sense he was standing when he saw his phantom, and turned to scan for the position the imagined stalker stood. He noticed the copse of trees and bushes straight in front of him. He strolled toward the area trying to remember what this scene looked like on that day.

 

Before he stepped impetuously into the dense foliage, he turned quickly and scanned for any signs of somebody watching him at that moment. There was a tall, muscular haole wearing a blue LA Dodgers baseball cap about a hundred yards away, just standing between him and his Mustang. He struck the detective as out of place because he was wearing what appeared to be some sort of navy blue pants and dark shoes. His light blue, polo shirt was a little too dressy for the beach. He seemed to be staring in Dan’s direction, but it was impossible to tell because of the dark sunglasses wrapped around much of his upper face. The man made visual contact -- Dan was sure despite the shades.

 

Fear rippled his stomach muscles – an instinctive dread he had not experienced for weeks.  It came slamming into his mind and body as he relived that horrible pause-on-the-edge-of-destiny moment when Bland Adams aimed the pistol at him.  His time was up -- his life was worth nothing.  Adams pulled the trigger and then came the agony, the driving rain, the desperation that Steve had also been killed. 

 

Just thinking he might be confronting Adams again, he was ashamed to recognize that dread returning.  Here on a public beach, not armed but able to defend himself, he still felt the shiver of alarm. 

 

The stranger moved to a nearby trashcan, pulled the top off, compressed the garbage with his fist, and tossed what appeared to be picnic refuse into the container.

 

Dan relaxed and immediately felt paranoid and not a little foolish. “Heck of a way to live,” he mumbled as he proceeded on his way into the brush.

 

He studied the ground and foliage for signs of humanity. Unfortunately, signs were too abundant. It appeared that more than one individual had recently used the foliage to cover their deeds. An empty wine bottle, several cigarette butts, and a few items of beach paraphernalia littered the ground. Dan bent over and picked up a small plastic bucket and shovel, the kind common in sand castle construction. A brief inspection of the refuse made it clear to the detective that the only evidence he could recover at this late date was for the crime of littering. Disgusted with the faceless perpetrator, he took a moment to collect the garbage, and walk it back to the trashcan, which the man in blue had just organized.

 

The breeze felt good on his face as Dan strolled back to his car. What now? Not back to Lanikai. He’d just blown a great evening in lieu of picking up cigarette butts. “Williams, you are losing it!”  he condemned as he rubbed his hands through his hair. He decided to try to shake the nowhere-to-run feelings he’d been having lately by heading on south to a more private beach.

 

The storm was moving in with full force and the surf was rough and powerful. The waves slammed into the lava rocks as Dan carefully negotiated his way along the water line. Makapu’u was isolated, and the officer was enjoying the solitude of the hike along the rocky shore, though he had to watch his step with the rough surf and slippery rocks.  The strain on his still-healing muscle was becoming a bit intense, but he decided he needed the work out so he kept hiking.

 

Low tide had peaked about an hour before, leaving rocky shelves and tidal pools exposed. Now, the cycle was reversing and the waves were rushing farther into shore, rescuing sea creatures that had been landlocked. For a few minutes, Dan leaned against the rocks and let the waves kiss his tennis shoes. The sound of surf and the briny smell that the detective had known his whole life momentarily stilled the turmoil that churned inside him. Wisps of dark clouds tinged in pastels looked like something a child would draw. Life in paradise is…well, paradise, he thought.

 

With his mind neutral, senses came to the forefront and he felt a moment of inspiration that seemed practically McGarrett-like. He 'felt' that he was no longer alone on the beach. Nerves, filled with adrenaline, he inhaled slowly as he took a casual glance behind him – there was the man in blue – the very Blane looking figure – he’d noticed at the trashcan at Waimanalo. And if that wasn’t enough, the car the “trash” man was driving was a haunting blue station wagon!

 

The flutter of fright returned and he subdued it with anger. Determined to confront his stalker, he rapidly, recklessly, jumped along the wet rocks.  The man dipped out of sight suddenly, and Williams rashly renewed his effort to reach the mystery man.  Taking too big of a leap, too fast, the detective slipped and tumbled into the shallow pool below. Within a second, merciless waves rushed in and slammed him into the jagged lava.  The impact drove the air out of his lungs and he gasped to get above the churning froth.  The mighty sea’s force knocked him again into the rocks, doubling him over with agony at the abuse to his sensitive injuries.

 

With the incredible force of the swell action in the tidal basin, it was all he could do to hold his breath and protect his head. Knowing that he would never make it back up onto the rocks from whence he fell, he took advantage of the very brief lull of whipping tide and pushed himself away from the craggy shoreline. As he turned to dive under the approaching wave to prevent being slammed back onto the rocks, he could see a figure maneuvering his way down the rocks towards him.

 

Under normal circumstances, Dan might have been more willing to consider the possibility that the man was trying to help him, but today, he couldn’t bring himself to take a chance. Unarmed, not in peak physical condition, trapped in the surf, he would not be a match for someone out to harm him. After only a second of deliberation, he pushed himself  farther into the water, the current helping to drag him away from the approaching man. Dan decided to take his chances with the ocean.

 

Molokai Express, here I come…

 

The current, which moved past the southern shores of Oahu, was named for the place an object would end up if allowed to go with the current. Of course, the downside of traveling on the Molokai Express was that it frequently flowed some thirty feet below the surface of the water for miles at a time – a tough haul for an air-breathing creature.

 

With every ounce of energy he had, he turned and jumped into the oncoming wave. This time, he managed to miss the violent break of the wave and make it farther away from the shore. After several minutes, he finally found himself in water deep enough that his body no longer dragged on the rocky bottom with each passing wave. He swam parallel to the coast to avoid the Molokai Express, and about fifteen minutes later was able to return to shore at a more swimmer-friendly spot.

 

Worn, exhausted, he wondered if this had been the correct choice after all. Not back on field duty yet, certainly not in the shape for fighting waves, he now realized, any more than he was fit to battle someone out to hurt him. Paranoid and dizzy, he carefully maneuvered his way through the darkness back to his car, jumping at every noise. When he finally did make it back to the Mustang, he nervously checked out his convertible for signs of tampering before dragging his sore, tired body into the driver’s seat. Grabbing a towel from his bag, he took stock of himself, and suddenly became aware of the pain from his leg and his head – and his chest – and his back – and …

 

“Geez, I hurt all over,” He said aloud as he wrinkled his nose.

 

He tried to move to a sitting position, but a jet of pain plowed into him. Before he could take the next step and turn on the ignition, a beam of light shone in his face. Startled and momentarily blinded, Williams held his arm up to shield his eyes, “What the...”

 

“You okay in there?” The voice asked.

 

“Uh, yeah, what’s going on?” Dan replied, certain that he didn’t want to share his experience with anyone just now.

 

“HPD – Danny? Is that you?  Yeah, shoulda recognized the car.” The man wielding the flashlight brought it down to shine on the ground instead of Dan’s face.

 

The detective recognized the patrolman, “Joe Matsukino! Yeah!”

 

“We got a call that someone had fallen into the surf at Makapu’u.  Storm’s comin’ up so we gotta watch for accidents.  Had plenty in that last storm.”

 

Now, Dan suddenly, and with secret chagrin, was willing to consider the possibility – even the probability – that the mystery man had been trying to help him.  The man in blue had, in fact, probably been a sightseer who happened to stop at the same two scenic beaches along Oahu’s coast – just as Williams had stopped -- to appreciate them.

 

“Do you know who called it in?” Dan asked evaded the implied question.

 

“Hmm, it was just an anonymous call. Are you okay?”

 

“Yeah, sure. I was in the water earlier, but I’m fine.” The detective tried to sound more casual than he felt.

 

The HPD officer laughed, “If I’d known it was you, I wouldn’t have bothered to get out of the squad car. I saw you surf the Pipeline a couple years back in the Kamehameha Competition.  You can really handle yourself!”

 

Not feeling up to the banter, but having no choice, Dan smiled modestly, and replied, “Thanks, Joe, but you’re being kind – that was the day I started thinking that it might be time to retire from competition. And I’m definitely retired now.”

 

“I know what ya mean – those waves never get any smaller!”

 

Dan hoped the officer didn’t notice as he winced at the officer’s observation, “As a matter of fact, I think they’re getting bigger.”

 

 “Well, watch out for rocks, Danny!”

 

“Thanks, Joe – I’m headin’ home now, so if you get any more calls about swimmers in distress, it’s not me.”

 

 

*****

 

 

“He’s not dead! Lucky for you, Blane!" Jacobs snarled.

 

They had left their perch on a lookout above the highway, and onto the beach below. They had followed, at a discrete distance, Williams' Mustang back to Honolulu and to the detective's apartment building. The angry mastermind had observed much of the debacle.

 

Righteously wrathful, Jacobs continued, "I send you out --"

 

"Oh shut up!" Blane snapped and backed his impatient anger with a shove to the slighter, thinner man. "I should have just killed him --"

 

"That's not the plan!"

 

With a finger drilled into Jacob's chest, Adams poked his co-conspirator with decisive, violent jabs. "Plan!  This is stupid! Just let me kill the stinkin' cop and give me my money!"

 

Jolted back to his proper, superior position in the unhappy partnership, Jacobs shoved the hand away. "You agreed to do this my way! It was your --" he refrained from an outright insult. Blane was precariously tempered and now was not the time to cross him. Yes, Derek had the control of the prized money, but was not willing to do the dirty work – yet. He inhaled slowly and released the breath before he continued in a slightly more even-toned tenor. "We need a less hazardous location to subdue our prey, and I believe I have found the perfect spot. Quiet, convenient to transportation, secluded…”

 

“And it better be soon, little man!”

 

“Yes, Blane, I promise.  Very soon.”

 

 

*****

 

 

“Ben, I’m coming to the conclusion that any lead can be connected to anybody eventually.”

 

It was the day after the embarrassing incident at Makapu’u. Chagrinned by his ridiculous behavior, fear of his colleagues discovering the lengths to which his paranoia had driven him, he was ready to abandon his lone belief in a conspiracy against Steve.

 

“What does that mean?”  Kokua was obviously eyeing Dan’s face.

 

“It means that my paranoia got me banged up yesterday, not to mention the fact that it also wiped out my last chance with Candice. It means that the world is right, and I’m wrong. My attacker was a hallucination, and the unusually large number of times I’ve spotted guys in blue station wagons is because there are quite a few of them around,” he admitted with a shrug. "The State Park Service bought a virtual fleet of used blue station wagons from the feds to use at the zoo, the botanical gardens, and every other park on the island.” He let out a short laugh, and added, “That little piece of information explains why my prime suspect was a zoo employee!”

 

“I’m glad you’re wrapping this up. You’ve been a little too jumpy lately. And you look like you got in a fight with a barracuda!” Ben’s accurate observation referred to the numerous cuts and bruises the sandy-haired detective sustained during his struggle to escape from the Molokai Express.

 

 

*****

 

 

Shuffling through the paperwork, absently sorting the thick pile of forms that had stacked up over the last few days, quickly flicking them into piles of priority, Steve came to a stop at a computer printout.  Scanning it with a glance, he gave it more serious scrutiny when the information did not make much sense.  Why had this landed on his desk?  The names were familiar – cons serving time thanks to Five-0.  More specifically, cons who had threatened McGarrett.

 

The realization came with a flash of irritation.  He knew who had put that on his desk.  The same detective whom, at first overtly, then after chastisement, with varying degrees of subtlety, continued to warn him that his life was in danger.

 

Shaking his head with ire born of frustration, his flash temper was mitigated only by the deep affection he held for his officer.  If Danno were not loved like a brother, Steve would have exploded out the door and really censured his continued obsession with the phantom nightmare from the hospital.  Reminding that his friend was just watching out for him, McGarrett’s strong streak of independence bristled that anyone – even his closest friend – was hampering him, hovering too protectively, expressing a ridiculous level of concern for him.

 

He had a huge amount of faith in his officer’s instincts. Why did he so completely dismiss the concern? He pondered this for a moment, but then replayed the conversation with the doctors in his mind.

 

“Morphine-induced hallucination,” he said aloud. With that, the head of Five-0 sat back down at his desk.

 

They had been over this for weeks and he determined to bring it to an end right now.  McGarrett’s own feelings over the horrific incident at Pierson’s house were still raw with sharp emotion.  He had come so close to losing Danno.  Through that agonizing night he had watched his friend slip slowly away from life and Steve had said very little to express the anguish and fear he harbored at the idea of Williams’ death – at the stark emptiness of being alone.  HE could never bring those admissions to the surface.  That terrible night Danno had tried, actually, to tell him something of the sort and he had refused to allow the words to be spoken – afraid of hearing things he could not handle – feelings he himself could never say. 

 

In counterpoint to his own inhibitions, Williams now became a thorn in his side articulating constantly, in varying methods, his overt trepidation for McGarrett’s safety after the crazy nightmare in the hospital.  In almost a backlash reaction, Steve was resisting the concern as fervently as Williams pushed it onto him.

 

The lack of patience over the entire affair brought him to his feet.  Swearing he was going to handle this with tact – firm, clear, no-doubt-what-he-meant tact, he swept through the door to end this debate.

 

 

*****

 

 

Dan heard the door to Steve’s office open as he stood at the end of the hall with Jenny and the other detectives. They were conferring over the possible meanings of some notes that one of the suspects in the Kaneohe case made. The second-in-command recognized the scrawls as shorthand, and so they were enlisting Jenny’s aid to interpret. None of them gave more than a cursory glance at the boss while they continued their discussion.

 

Steve stood in the doorway for about thirty seconds observing the proceedings. He would be sequestered for most of the day assisting the D.A. on a case. While he was pleased to see signs of progress on the case which was consuming much of the time of his staff, he’d stepped out because he had a mission and was annoyed enough to interrupt his staff.

 

“Why are you so stubborn?”

 

McGarrett’s tone turned the question into a statement, and all heads turned to look. Standing in his doorway, with his sleeves rolled up and a computer printout in hand, he was looking in the direction of the group. Everyone, including the target of their boss’s ire, knew the statement was directed at his second-in-command.

 

Dan recognized the paper in his boss' tight fist. A few days earlier, as part of his phantom investigation, Dan had slipped a report into Steve’s IN box. It identified a list of individuals, whom McGarrett had been instrumental in convicting, and who had been released from prison in the past two years. The younger detective hoped that the list might spur a memory in his boss about someone who might be holding a life-threatening grudge against him.

 

Five-0’s second-in-command knew why the boss was frustrated, and he had to admit that he was ready to throw in the towel on this one as well. Not feeling up to a verbal thrashing, the young man turned and walked over to his desk, opened the middle desk drawer and pulled out the “Nut Case” file. He held it up in the air in a somewhat dramatic display, and dropped it into the trashcan in his office.

 

“There! I’m done! It didn’t happen. You’re right and I’m completely wrong, and I won’t waste another minute thinking about it.” Having said his piece, he stood there, waiting to see if the annoyed man before him would be sated with his admission and promise.

 

McGarrett stood there staring suspiciously for ten seconds before he slowly released an audible sigh. “Okay – but I don’t want to hear another word about this.” His whole body and mind seemed to grind to a halt as he scrutinized his youngest detective.  “I thought you weren’t going to surf the big waves!” he growled in accusation.

 

“I – uh – didn’t – really . . . .”  The explanation would be worse than the weak denial so Williams left it at that.

 

“Well don’t!” McGarrett barked, then abruptly turned, and stalked back into his office, slamming the door closed.

 

With that, Dan stepped out of his office and moved back toward his peers. He quietly whistled a “whew.”

 

The group all felt relieved that their kaikaina was spared from the wrath of the boss. It always bothered the rest of the staff to see the young man take a tongue-lashing from the imposing, and frequently overly harsh, head of Five-0.

 

 

*****

 

“Well that went well, McGarrett,” the head of Five-0 muttered vilely to himself as he threw the computer papers into the trash.  “Yeah, set your friend straight with tact and compassion,” he snarled as he pushed his chair out of the way and slammed open the lanai doors overlooking the Palace grounds.

 

Taking a moment to stand in the doorway, he breathed out a sigh of frustration.  Irritated at himself, at the situation that had caused paranoia in Williams, at the younger detective whom he loved as a brother but could be so stubborn . . . .

 

With a measure of calm hovering over him now, he smiled at the irony of his vexation.  He was both annoyed and proud of the traits that Williams displayed, depending on the situation.  Stubbornness, tenacity, and suspicion were all aspects counted as favorable for an officer in the state police unit.  Just not when they were used to further a completely lost, exasperating cause like Danno had his teeth into now. 

 

 

*****

 

 

“Police department. How may I direct your call?”

 

“Yes, this is Dr Hansen from Castle Hospital. Could you tell me who the Five-0 detective is on call this coming weekend?”

 

“Uh, yes, sir that would be Detective Kelly.” As Jacobs hung up the telephone, he smiled. “Ah, this weekend looks good.”

 

 

*****

 

 

“Steve, are you sure you don’t want any help wrapping up these reports?”

 

The second-in-command stood in his boss’s doorway. Steve put down the document that he was holding and leaned back in his chair. He took a moment to study his friend, and was glad to see that he seemed more relaxed than he had been in the past weeks.

 

“You go on. I heard Ben mention some of you were heading up to the North Shore for the weekend.”

 

Dan smiled and shrugged, “Yeah, Ty Matsuki’s parents have a beach house, and I’m thinking that sounds pretty good, but only if you’re sure you don’t need–”

 

“Let’s not apply the word need here. You’re indispensable to me, but I’ve got to give you a break every now and then,” he smirked.  “Chin’s on call, and I can back him up. You and Ben go have a great time – but no big waves, right?” Steve admonished as he began to envision where his guys would be heading and Dan’s passion for surfing.

 

While Williams was back on the team without medical restriction, the memories of the ordeal weeks ago at the North Shore were never far away.  Yet another tropical storm, though not as serious as the last, was heading toward Oahu. It was an all too familiar scenario with the tense experiences they shared from dangerous nature and more treacherous criminals.  Williams had not mentioned any comparisons with that storm front and neither would McGarrett.  This tempest was bringing amazingly intense surf to the North Shore and talk centered on the attraction such prized curls brought. 

 

While Williams was back on field duty, the boss had purposely kept him out of hazardous situations.  Now McGarrett worried about the temptation to the recovering detective, blithely ignoring the irony that concern was a commonly shared reaction between them.

 

Dan, pleased with the rare words of praise, let out a laugh, and replied, “Didn’t I promise – no more Pipeline?”

 

“Just come back in one piece on Monday!” McGarrett admonished only half-joking.

 

“This from the man who’s planning to force me out onto the high seas on a barely seaworthy sailboat?” Dan’s eyes twinkled as he teased his friend about the old sailboat that had consumed much of McGarrett’s spare time in the past few months.

 

“You’ll be eating your words when we pull into the marina in Lahaina!”

 

“Or are pulled,” the young detective mumbled as he turned to leave.

 

“One piece – Monday!” McGarrett shouted, and watched fondly as his second-in-command strolled and out of the Five-0 space.

 

‘Definitely more relaxed, and he didn’t caution me to be careful,’ McGarrett thought, pleased that his friend’s paranoia seemed to be subsiding.

 

It was odd – Steve did feel better about Danno returning to his old self, but he somehow – for some reason he couldn’t quite verbalize – had a flash of discomfort. His second-in-command had expressed apprehension about his safety for the past weeks, and Steve had given no credence to the anxiety.   Now he was thinking those same thoughts (not involving a vision of a murderous phantom in the hospital, though) about Dan’s safety.  He was probably lucky Danno hadn’t mentioned the paradox or they might have been pulled back into another debate about the vision.

 

 

*****

  

 

Dan slid his LTD into the slip next to his Mustang in the parking garage of his apartment. He hopped from the car with his suit jacket slung over his shoulder and his tie already loose when he heard a voice.

 

“Help me! I’m hurt! Help me!”

 

The detective looked in the direction of the building maintenance room across from the elevator, and then picked up his pace to a trot. “Mr. Tanaka? Is that you?” Dan called, trying to get a bead on the location of the troubled voice he thought must be that of the building’s maintenance man.

 

“Help me!”

 

Yes, Dan decided the cry was definitely coming from the maintenance room. The door was ajar, and the detective carefully pushed it open farther and stepped inside to assess the situation. The dimly-lit room, with its cement walls and floor, and pipes running along the right side, smelled vaguely of rust.

 

“Mr. Tanaka – where are you?”

 

Dan called and moved several feet farther into the room. He heard the “thooop” sound at the same time he felt the sharp pain strike him between his shoulder blades, then on the side of his head. A light as bright as noon at the beach came on and the door to the maintenance room slammed shut.

 

As he struggled to reach the source of the pain in the back of his head, he spun to face a muscled man, face deformed by a stocking mask. A second figure hovered in the shadows behind a blinding light – Dan had a passing recognition that the man was holding what seemed to be a large camera!

 

Struggling to not panic, he tried to grab his gun, but the disguised man was already upon him, and Dan found his assailant’s hand covering his own on top of the weapon. As dizziness began to invade his body, he pushed himself away, leaving his revolver in the hand of his attacker. He stumbled backward, first over a pipe, and then, with the room spinning out of control, he fell into a trashcan. He made it twenty feet to the wall opposite the door where he’d entered. Dan leaned his head against the wall and tried to re-establish his balance, but the strength in his legs was draining.  Dizzy, everything was tilted, disoriented.

 

As his body slid down the wall to the cold cement floor, he tried to focus on the figures approaching him. The detective felt the grip of human hands on his arms, and suddenly felt too weak to struggle. His body refused to take action on the terror he was feeling as he observed his situation through a haze. He could feel the man’s hand briefly stroke his neck before loosening his tie and then unceremoniously yanking it off his neck. Next, Williams could not believe it was his arm as he watched his sleeve being rolled up. He tried again to get up off the floor, but felt a knee on his chest, and a tightness on the bicep of his left arm. As if peeking through a fog, a dazed Williams could only watch as a detached observer as the man jabbed a syringe into his arm and fished for a vein. It stung as he roughly maneuvered the needle around. Seconds later, a cold burn shot into his vein and traveled up his arm, warming his entire body almost instantly. The two figures hovered quietly over him, watching as the drug did its work.

 

The more slender man who had been clenching and unclenching his fists bent over close to Dan’s face and maliciously whispered, “Enjoy.”

 

It didn’t hurt. As a matter of fact, he didn’t hurt anywhere at that moment. He thought he could even hear the sound of the ocean in the distance, and all he wanted to do was sleep. The last thing he remembered was a hand stroking his hair.

 

“Say good bye to your puppy, McGarrett,” came the haunting whisper.

 

He knew the voice. A dream within a dream… He drifted away hearing a peel of soft laughter from the man he’d convinced himself was an evil hallucination.

 

  

*****

 

 

The light was in his face again, and he became aware that a hand was pressed against his naked chest. It moved slowly down his abdomen to his right hip. The touch was gentle, but firm. Then there were two hands, one stroking his neck. The other hand had moved lower sliding over his hip, down his leg to his knee. Dan willed his eyes to open and focus on the figure hovering over him, and was repulsed to see that it was silhouette of a man. The overhead lights were blinding, and he could not make out his captor’s face. Was he wearing a hood?

 

“There’s something erotic about being touched against your will, don’t you think?  When you are helpless?  When anything can happen to you?”

 

Adrenaline helped the detective to attempt to stop the unwanted advance, but he discovered that he was unable to pull his hands from above his head. Moving as if in molasses, he lifted his head to examine his situation. His hands were shackled to rings on the wall above the bed – no – tray – it seemed to be a wide, hospital gurney missing its standard padding – upon which he had been laid out. His ankles were similarly restrained, and chained to large metal rings, but he couldn’t quite focus past his bare feet to determine how the rings were secured. The only article of clothing he seemed to be wearing was loosely tied green drawstring pants of the kind medical personnel wear. His mind cried out for his body to take action against this violation, but he couldn’t bring himself to do more than tug weakly at the chains. The thought that he had been undressed and restrained in such a manner all while he was unconscious truly disturbed him.

 

“Who…” Dan tried to speak, but his tongue was as helpless as the rest of his body.

 

“Who, indeed…” As the man spoke, his hand traveled back up the detective’s body and stopped at his mouth. As the thick, velvety voice continued, his index finger stroked Dan’s face and lips. “You may call me Master.”

 

Fear began to work against whatever drug crept through the detective’s system, but he could not muster an outward reaction.

 

The voice continued, “I hope you had a nice nap, because now we’re going to play a little game.”

 

The hand pinched his face until he wanted to cry out in pain, but the bruising grip prevented him from eliciting anything but a teeth-clenched moan.

 

" ‘That my days have been a dream, yet if hope has flown away, in a night, or in a day, in a vision, or in none, is it therefore the less gone? All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.’ That was our poem, you know.”

 

“Why – are--  you -- doing -- this?”

 

“Don’t you remember our last meeting?  I promised to kill McGarrett.  With your help.”

 

Involuntarily sucking in a sharp breath, Dan tried not to react, but he hurt, was confused, and the fear gripped him before he could control his emotions.

 

The triumphant laugh was pure evil.  “Yes . . . .  Thank you for helping me . . . . He’s already dead.”

 

“Noooooooo.”  Williams tried to grasp onto the notion that this monster was lying, but the threats, the continual pressure of being stalked – the KNOWING that Steve’s life was in danger . . . . What if this maniac had done it?  What if everything he had tried – no – it was not enough – clearly it was not enough because Steve was dead!!!  How did he help?  Nooooooooooooo!  He shook his head to fight off the dread, the thought that he had failed and his friend was murdered!  “Nooooo!”

 

“Yes!  McGarrett is dead!” the voice taunted.

 

‘Fight.  Don’t give in.  You’re a cop, act like one!’ he berated himself while inside he felt the grief overwhelm him.  Determined not to let these creep see him weep openly, he tightened his eyes against the tears and let the anguish turn to anger.

 

He did his best to recollect his discarded “Nut Case” notes. He struggled to remember the importance he had placed on the Poe poem, but it was all a muddle in his foggy brain, in the reason clouded with drugs, grief, and fear. The voice sounded so familiar – he could almost see a face.  The hallucination from the hospital – yes – but not a dream or an imagined nightmare – no – this was real!

 

“Answers will come all in good time, but in the mean time, my able-bodied assistant will help you to your feet.”

 

As the “master” spoke, he gently stroked his captive’s head and chest – a very incongruous act, Williams thought as waves of revulsion passed through him. The reflection flitted through his mind that this man was treating as if he were a pet.  Snarling in defiant rage, he fought back, resisting the best he could.

 

Just then, a large man-- still in the stocking mask – the one who had subdued him in the maintenance room -- stepped out of the shadows and looped a metal lariat around the detective’s neck. The lariat was of the type that dog catchers might use when restraining an animal. The large gauge wire twisted into a noose, and was attached to a metal rod, so that animal control personnel could avoid being bitten.

 

The master unshackled him, and he wrestled violently as he was summarily dragged into another room, with cement walls. Part of the room was actually caged off, like one might see in a zoo. The big man skillfully wielded the noose implement to maneuver Williams into the corner of the cell, and then pressed him down to a sitting position on the floor. The master turned on what seemed to be a flood light, and then sat down next to a movie camera.

 

“This is the dream within a dream,” he sneered.  “Action!” Jacobs barked enthusiastically.

 

 

*****

 

 

The Monday morning seemed to gear up in typical fashion for McGarrett. He’d arrived earlier than usual to get a head start on what he knew was going to be a busy week. He didn’t expect his second-in-command in until a little later that morning, as he knew that he would be at the DA’s office closing up details on the Pierson/Adams embezzlement /murder investigation.

 

Over the weeks since the surprise crime and horrendous incident with Pierson up at his hillside home, red tape had slowly circulated through the halls of state law. With no bodies, but a wrecked boat, Pierson and Adams were presumed dead. The case had been officially pushed to the 'Open-But-Cold' file. A small file for Five-0 and in this instance a disappointing one. McGarrett had so wanted to close that with an arrest and conviction. He owed it to Kailua – the poor bank manager Pierson murdered. He owed it to Danno and himself after their treatment at the hands of the criminals. He owed it to himself for the betrayal of a former friend who had almost cost him the life of his closest friend.

 

Gazing out at the clear, bright Hawaiian morning, he found it hard to believe they had lived through the frightening trauma up on the windward coast. That day and night he had endured a storm from the forces of nature -- wrathful elements of wind, rain and surf that had isolated him and his colleague. Storms of human nature -- the hatred and duplicity of Pierson and the raw, murderous impulses of Adams. Assaulting him worse than these -- the turbulent anguish when Danno had been shot. The emotional upheaval of the terrible hours when he was certain that at any time he would lose his friend.

 

Blinking, the sunny grounds of the Palace came back into focus. So far away the stormy day and night, yet still a haunting in the back of his mind. No wonder Danno had been so fixated about that hallucination in the hospital. He shouldn't have been so tough on his friend. After all, the nightmare was out of concern for him. As usual – his friend's most strident and protective motivations were always centered on him.

 

During the course of the silent and solitary morning reverie Jenny, Ben, and Chin had made their way to their desks.  Routine movements that caught his attention briefly as he finished the paperwork.

 

“Morning, boss!” Jenny chirped. She carried in the mail and what appeared to be a plain shoe box, tied with packing string. The box was addressed to Steve McGarrett in block letters. No address was present – just his name.

 

“Morning, Jenny. I presume this came by courier?”

 

“I guess so. It was sitting outside the office door when I arrived a few minutes ago.”

 

Ben and Chin entered Steve’s office still laughing at some previous exchange.

  

“Gentlemen, did either of you notice this package outside the office door when you arrived?” Both detectives looked at the box, and indicated that they had not noticed the it earlier.

 

“Hmm. Well, it’s not ticking,” Steve said softly as he held it up near to his ear. As he picked up his scissors to slice through the string, he addressed the detectives, “So, Chin, it was a quiet weekend. I halfway expected a call what with Danno being out-of-pocket on the North Shore.”

 

Chin nodded his agreement and replied, “It was quiet. I only got the one call on Saturday. Criminals must have decided to take a holiday!”

 

McGarrett gently lifted the lid and peered inside. There was a note on a 3X5 card, a roll of 16-millimeter film, and an unsealed envelope. Then, using his handkerchief and a pencil as a matter of routine, the head of Five-0 pulled a stack of perhaps two dozen small photographs from an envelope and spread them across his desk. The photo on top gave him an uncomfortable pause as he recognized it as a picture of a hospitalized Danny Williams. His eyes were closed and his face was pale. His pulse quickened as he spread the photos more rapidly over his desk. All of the shots were of Dan, some, but not all, taken while on duty. In most of the snapshots, the captive detective seemed unaware of being photographed, but there were several in which the detective was looking directly at the cameraman. One photo in particular struck Steve as he recalled the day – the exact moment! -- a couple of weeks ago.

 

“Steve! Did you see that guy in that car with the camera pointed at us?”

 

“Where?”

 

“He went that way,” Dan pointed after the blue station wagon.

 

“Danno! Let it go! There are lots of blue station wagons and lots of tourists with cameras!”

 

Snapping back to the present, Steve read the note aloud:

 

=======

McGarrett,

   Welcome to the beginning of the end. Suffering heightens one’s knowledge of self. And I can only pledge to you that as you have helped me to know myself, so shall I help you in that same regard. Consider me your dream within a dream…

  

=======

 

The last sentence of the note galvanized the detective, and he jumped from his chair, a chill coursing through his body. His explosive movements startled both Ben and Chin, who glanced at each other and then braced themselves for the frightening revelation that had just come to their boss.

 

“A dream within a dream! My God!” The horror in his voice caused both men to move closer to him.

 

“What is it, boss?” Chin pressed.

 

Steve looked up from the note to see the very concerned faces of his detectives. It wasn’t often that they were witness to any display of angst from their boss.

 

“A dream within a dream! That’s the SAME phrase Danno said his hallucination used!” The shock was equally electric for the other two detectives. McGarrett continued, more to himself than to anyone else, “I’ve spent all this time convincing Danno that he imagined this guy!” He stopped the unproductive line of thinking and jolted himself back to the present situation. “Where’s Danno now?” Without waiting for an answer, he pressed the intercom button, “Jenny! Call Manicote’s office and find out if Danno showed up!”

 

Ben stepped closer to the desk as his frown turned to one of grave concern. “Boss, Danny never made it to the North Shore.  I was up there all day Saturday. I thought he’d probably made up with Candice, and decided to spend the weekend with her.”

 

McGarrett could feel beads of perspiration breaking out as he picked up the phone and dialed Dan’s number. After a dozen rings, he slammed down the receiver.

 

“Chin, see if you can raise him through dispatch. If not, ask dispatch if he’s checked in yet today at all. If not, get someone over to check his condo. Then put out an APB on him, and make a note that abduction might be involved.”

 

Chin nodded and raced out of the office.

 

“Ben, get these pictures and this note down to Che Fong. Tell him to give it top priority! And get me a film projector that fits this film wikiwiki!” Ben raced from the room with the evidence.

 

“Steve –” Jenny’s voice came through the intercom. “Manicote’s secretary said Danny hasn’t shown up yet.”

 

“Damn it!”

 

McGarrett cursed himself and slammed a fist down on his desk. Danno had warned, pleaded, and tried to cajole him into taking this threat seriously, but the head of Five-0 would have none of it. Steve had patronized his friend and then dismissed Williams’ concerns. Hadn’t he developed enough trust in his second-in-command’s instincts to pay heed to events that were so troubling to Danno?

 

Where to begin? He flashed suddenly on the incident with the file, which his protégé had dramatically thrown in the wastebasket. He raced from behind his desk and into Dan’s office.

 

“Thank God!” Steve breathed loudly.

 

The janitorial service had not bothered to empty any of the trash receptacles over the weekend. The file was easy to retrieve and, with the exception of a coffee stain from an upturned cup that had been resting on it, seemed to be in tact. He rocketed back into his office and performed the same operation on his trashcan. It took a few moments longer, but within thirty seconds of digging, he was able to fish out the computer printout, which Dan had wanted him to review.

 

 

*****

 

 

“You think I’m going to make this easy for you?” Dan shouted as he knocked the metal bowl of water back towards his captors.

 

He quickly dove toward the bars of the cage, obviously hoping to catch one of the men off guard. The move was almost successful as the photographer barely missed having the camera spill from his shoulder.

 

Voice One, spoke up dramatically, “Ooops! Now you’ve gone and spilled your water for the day.”

 

Williams, clad only in blood-smudged hospital scrub pants, hovered at the cage bars for several seconds, his hands wrapped loosely around the metal rods bracketing his gaunt face. Frustration, anger, and exhaustion all played in his expression. A pink-ringed purple bruise marring his right cheekbone and a small, but fresh split in his lower lip spoke of an earlier altercation. Both wrists were inflamed – clear signs that Dan had been struggling against restraints.  Finally, with a half-hearted shake of his head – apparently trying to battle an impending loss of consciousness – his eyes rolled back in his head, and he slid to the cement floor.

 

Grinding his teeth to withhold his gasps of anguish, McGarrett could hardly watch the torturous film. Sickened, enraged with helpless frustration, he continued to observe the events after the fact, striving his best -- and failing miserably -- to be objective. He was a detective, and his friend's only hope of salvation was for Steve to find the answers: Who had taken Williams; why, where. Critical clues had no doubt been captured on the film, and those should be the only focus for the head of Five-0. SHOULD -- but were not… Every time a new indignity, a new pain was wrought upon his friend, a fresh stab of agony swept across his own nerves.

 

With no choice but to watch, he paced, never taking his eyes from the film. Some moments he would stop, his fists balled into death-grips of rage. Another scene would send him back to pacing, growling under his breath, unable to verbalize the prayers, threats, and commiserating gasps that played through his mind.

 

Despite the sense that he was not being objective, years of detective training was too embedded in his being for him not to attune to many key elements. Two men were involved in the making of this sadistic film. The first fiend – Voice One – which Steve silently dubbed -- had a cultured tenor, and seemed to be the one in charge. The second – Voice Two – belonged to the muscular, masked thug, who actually performed the atrocities. Not on a completely conscious level, the head of Five-0 collected facts through tormented eyes.

 

A pair of large hands slipped through the bars. One hand grabbed the detective’s hair and lifted his head while the other lifted one of Williams’ closed eyelids.

 

The image was not good enough for McGarrett to make a judgment about his friend’s condition, but it was apparent from the sluggish manner in which the captive pulled away that three factors – any or all of them – could be at work – exhaustion, drugs, and injury. The three detectives observing all gasped audibly.

 

What appeared to be a metal pipe pushed into the field of vision and tapped Williams on his bare shoulder. The result was obviously an electric shock – the prisoner cried out as he arced backward away from the bars and landed in the middle of the cage. The sound of metal against metal took over the audio feed as the muscular, masked figure belonging to Voice Two opened the cage door and entered to stand over the detective. With his foot, the man rolled Dan’s head towards him.

 

“Yep, he’s definitely out!” mumbled Voice Two as he then proceeded to kneel and roughly topple the prone form flat onto his back. The man wasted no time in placing a tourniquet around Dan’s arm and pushing a hypodermic to the hilt into a convenient vein.

 

“Why did he do that?” Chin nearly shouted. “Danny’s already out like a light!”

 

No audible response from the other two men was forthcoming as the film cut disjointedly to another scene.

 

“Say it!” The more refined voice of the cameraman shouted.

 

Dan glanced sideways at the camera, not lifting his head from the wall. “Go to Hell,” he growled hoarsely.

 

“Right along with McGarrett,” the voice supplied. “You’ll be joining him there, soon!”

 

Williams lunged at the camera and was kicked back.

 

The head of Five-0 – knowing his second-in-command – anticipated Williams’ reaction to the verbal prod, and shouted through clenched teeth, “No, Danno!! Don’t react!”  He launched himself from the chair he had momentarily sat down in, and hissed through his teeth in anguish.  “Why are you so damn defiant?” he asked rhetorically.  “Why can’t you be patient!” he nearly shouted to the screen.

 

Williams suddenly lunged again for the bars. This time there was a discontinuity, which made it apparent that the young man might have successfully hit his target.

 

“What do you think the guy meant about you being in Hell?” Chin asked as they watched the fuzzy black of between-scenes.

 

Rubbing his face, McGarrett shook his head, nearly beyond the ability to think clearly at all.  Yeah, he was supposed to be a cop, but how could he think like one when his friend had endured this torture?  Guilt plagued him – he had blasted Williams time and again because he did not believe the warnings.  He accused his friend of hallucinating the danger!  He had dismissed Danno’s concerns and now his friend was suffering worse than what had happened at Pierson’s house – more than anything he had imagined before this horror.

 

“It sounds like he’s making Danny think you’re dead,” was Kelly’s guess.

 

Diabolical.  Unable to order the film rewound, so he could watch some of it over again (he could not stomach it), McGarrett thought about the comments by the tormentor.  Yeah.  There was a torture worse than what Danno was physically going through on the film.  The mental anguish he would have if he thought McGarrett was already dead and, as the accuser said, he had failed. 

 

Groaning, Steve leaned against the wall and as the screen flickered with light again he forced himself to watch.  The film blurred as he blinked back the moisture in his eyes and quelled the sickening revulsion in his gut.

 

 

The next clip appeared abruptly.  Dan’s resentful attitude was still there, revealed in his angry expression, but now, clear signs of a recent beating were present. In addition to trickles of blood trailing from both nostrils, a red streak ran across his left cheek. It was hard to tell whether it was smeared blood or an inflammation.

 

With each scene came the sickening realization that the brutal treatment was taking its toll. It was obvious that the incidents had taken place over the course of what had to have been a brutally long weekend of mistreatment for Williams. His friend was loosing strength, the injuries, and drugs sapping his energy, but never his defiance. That was scary. Steve knew Dan would never surrender, but how long would his sadistic captors tolerate the stubborn, unbending attitude? Dread hung heavy, nearly choking him, as the film rolled on, cutting to what smacked of a different time of day.  The agony in his heart was a match for the physical torment his friend was enduring. 

 

Dan was sitting on his haunches, back leaning on the wall, in the corner. He slowly offered a tired, but hate-filled glance in the general direction of the camera before he closed his eyes and let his head drop back to rest on the wall to question his captors. “No… I won’t…”

 

“My, my, you ARE stubborn. Say it, and I’ll let you sleep for a few minutes,” Voice One coyly entreated.

 

McGarrett nearly choked on the bitter accusation that echoed his own condemnation of his friend only days ago!  How could he have ever said such a thing! 

 

“Say what?”  he spat out with sarcasm and looked directly at the camera for a moment.  “ That this is a dream within a dream?” Looking at the camera again.  That  day was just dream;  hope has flown away in a night, and then a day.”

 

“No! Get it right!” the cameraman demanded hysterically. THAT MY DAYS HAVE BEEN A DREAM, Yet if hope has flown away IN a night, OR IN a day, In a vision, or in none.”

 Voice Two laughed wickedly. “In a vision, or in none, Is it therefore the less gone? All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream." The camera jolted as Voice One became more agitated.  “Say it correctly!”

 

“Or you’ll what, run me over with your blue station wagon?”

 

“Call McGarrett a murderer!  He was a murderer!”

 

When the prisoner did not respond – it appeared as if he might have dozed off – it became apparent that Voice Two was standing nearby. The poke with the cattle prod jarred Dan awake, and he cried out in pain as he tumbled sideways to the floor.

 

“Call McGarrett a murderer”! 

 

“I – will – never – say -- it…” Dan moaned as he rolled to one side and curled up.

 

“Say it!” Voice One barked impatiently. “McGarrett was a murderer!!”

 

The cattle prod touched the back of Dan’s neck, eliciting another pained gasp.

 

“Say it!”

 

“No. . . never . . ..” Williams’ response could barely be heard.  “Dream within a dream is but a dream within a dream. I stand amid the roar of a surf-tormented shore . . . “

 

 

Kokua and Kelly exchanged sickened looks, McGarrett noted out of the corner of his eye. He was too enveloped with pain to look at them, afraid to show the revulsion and terror within to anyone else – even his detectives. The youngest member of the staff was not making it easy on himself. In some perverse way, McGarrett was glad to see the spark of rebellion present – that was an indication that Dan had not yet been harmed irreparably. Now, Steve ground his teeth in frustration at his friend and slammed his fist onto his desk, bracing himself for the retribution he was certain was about to be meted out to Williams.

 

 

Punishment came quickly. The big thug lost his patience, with an angry shout reached down, and roughly yanked the detective up to his feet. “If you don’t start cooperating, little cop, I’m gonna hurt you bad!”

 

Dan managed to look up and defiantly meet the livid gaze of the big man who gripped him by his arms. “Threaten me with something you’re not gonna do anyway, you – NUT! I’m gonna make you pay for what you did to McGarrett!”

 

A violent backhand sent Williams flying into the wall. He dropped to the floor as the enraged thug started towards him.

 

“Stop! Now!” Voice One commanded, but the muscular man collected the target of his wrath from the floor anyway. “Stop NOW!  This is not what I want!” Voice One demanded in a screech.  “This is the dream within a dream.  The dream unfolding.  You can’t kill Williams yet!”

 

The man hesitated, obviously struggling between his desire to murder the defiant prisoner and the obligation to follow orders.

 

Dan, back in the tight clutches of his angry captor, shook his head slightly and studied the mask, which was eight inches from his face. His eyes grew large.

 

“It’s you…that scar…” Dan gasped and went slack jawed. “I wasn’t crazy . …” The detective slowly panned to look into the camera lens – rather his focus was the man behind the camera. “But you… you’re not…”

 

Voice Two suddenly delivered a hammering punch to the distracted detective’s head, dropping Dan summarily to the floor. Williams lay motionless in a heap at the creep’s feet.

 

 

The film snapped to black.  Revulsion and rage bubbled in Steve’s gut. Suddenly, in two strides, he was at the projector, and a half second later, his shaking hand was resting on the power switch. To watch the scene was too agonizing.

 

“No, Steve!” Ben called, but did not move. “Danny’s life might depend on what we see here!”

 

His jaw clenched, knowing his detective was right, but he could not bring himself to remove his hand from the switch. He closed his eyes to keep the tears blocked, but the raw images from the movie were worse than the grief and he blinked until his eyes were clear.  Staring at the dark wall behind his desk, he worked hard to empty his clogged mind.

 

How could he continue the torment to himself?  He had to of course.  Danno had lived it, had suffered it for real.  If he was still alive, which didn’t seem possible after such maligned treatment, and then he was STILL undergoing the torture.  Close to tears; to an explosion of anger that would rock these old walls, to screaming out in rage, McGarrett stood there, trembling with the suppressed pain. 

 

“It looked like he recognized the attacker, didn’t it?” Kelly suggested quietly, his voice hoarse.

 

“Yeah,” Ben growled.  “And they made him pay for it.”

 

The unchecked brutality was sickening, but more than that, Steve gradually considered, it was familiar.  How?  He couldn’t grasp it now, his mind too clouded by anguished emotions.

 

Forcing out the acknowledgement of the second comment, McGarrett focused on the other observation.  Recognition.  “He knew,” came his certain, trembling conclusion.  He knew that when Danno said it, but could not react to the clue because he was too wrapped up in the pain.  Good thing his detectives could find some kind of objectivity because he was failing miserably in that department.  “Yeah, he knew his attacker.  And was surprised at the cameraman,” he threaded together.  “Someone he didn’t expect,” he concluded, proud of his friend for thinking like a cop under such duress. 

 

Okay, if Danno can do it, so can I.

 

The film turned white again, a prelude to another clip, and McGarrett, shaking in anticipation of what might come next, allowed the film to play on.

 

 

The lighting changed again. The metal bowl which Dan had slammed so violently numerous scenes earlier was sitting upright, ignored on the edge of the camera’s eyeshot. Dan sat back to the camera, legs crossed, in the corner unmoving, this time leaning his forehead on the wall. He held his arms in front of him as if he were chilly.

 

The sound of the cage door opening could be heard, and Dan turned to see who was entering his cell. Dark rings under his eyes were immediately visible on his tired face, and he seemed only marginally interested in the activity. The wire-hoop restraint became visible as someone off screen manipulated it, and Dan put up another aggressive struggle to keep it from being secured around his neck.

 

“You think you can get away with this ---“

 

 

The film broke or was roughly spliced to immediate white.  When it phased in again Williams was in a different position, the collar around his neck so tight he was fighting for air.

 

 

“Time for more lovely elixir,” Voice One sing-songed in grating delight.  “This little wonder drug is a little derivative of heroin, by the way, detective. Very soon, you will be begging me for the next treatment.  Oh how I look forward to that!”

 

“Not – in --  this --  lifetime,” Williams snapped back, gasping out the words with aching defiance.

 

“Give me your arm!” Voice Two barked.

 

When Dan, who was pressed to the floor with both hands trying to prevent his air flow from being interrupted by the noose, ignored the command, the large hulking figure in the hood stepped into the scene.

 

“Thought you’d be begging for a hit of this joy juice by now – supposed ta make heroin look like liver n’ onions!”

 

A thick chuckle resonated – the cameraman – or someone else in the room – was obviously enjoying the scene. “Dream within a dream, dear Williams,” he silkily laughed.

 

 

The horror that these fiends were pumping some addictive drug into his friend made McGarrett’s heart sink to an even deeper abyss.

 

 

The thug roughly pulled Dan’s arm to him, and wedged it between his knees while he applied the tourniquet and brusquely plunged the hypodermic into a vein. Dan didn’t flinch – he was too busy straining against the tight metal that was tearing into his neck. The thug put his foot on Williams’ chest and pressed him tight to the floor – a superfluous operation in light of the tight control the man at the end of the noose had over the captive. With a pleased grunt, the figure released his grip on the prisoner and stood, apparently to observe the immediate effect of what he’d just done.

 

The hooded figure finally squatted again after about thirty seconds, and roughly grabbed Williams’ jaw and turned it in his direction. The fight was rapidly leaving the detective as he put up only a token resistance to the harsh treatment.

 

“Does that hurt?” The goon asked loudly as he suddenly poked the prisoner in the still-fresh, pink scar from his gunshot wound weeks earlier. A gasp escaped from Dan, and pain registered quickly in his eyes. The man slowly stood laughing. “Yeah, I guess it does. You shouldn’t play with guns, cop!”

 

Dan, released by his captor, curled into a ball on the floor, and did not react to the goading.

 

 

The too-bright-white naked light jumped onto the screen as the last of the film rolled out of the projector. Standing near his desk, McGarrett unleashed the horror within – he snatched the nearest object -- his pen set -- and threw it to the floor. After only a moment, he swept a hand across his desk, violently shoving everything within reach to the floor. Most of the top bare, he slammed his right fist onto the wood several times. His face turned away from his associates, he shook with revulsion and sorrow. Air choking on the sob that clogged his throat, he gulped down the evidence of outward grief/wrath/ helplessness. Unable to trust himself to speak, he covered his mouth with one hand and crashed out to his lanai.

 

 

*****

 

 

When he felt he had control over his outward emotions, McGarrett returned to the office. 

 

“It looks like Danno almost had his own kidnapping solved before the fact,” McGarrett sighed before the others could say anything. Suddenly, and with a frightening ferocity, McGarrett slammed his fist on his desk and kicked the inbox on the floor in frustration. “Damn it! Why did I dismiss this? I trust the man with my life on a daily basis, and then I arbitrarily decide that his concerns are unfounded. What was I thinking??”

 

“Steve, you had medical experts to support your position,” Chin said forcefully stepping closer to lean on the desk, but his boss would have none of it.

 

“Chin, if Danno ends up—” he said much more quietly, but then couldn’t bring himself to say the words too horrible to let ring in the air. “I don’t know--”

 

The haole hao – the man of steel as he was called – was unable complete the thought aloud. He felt a wave of emotion preparing to strangle him. He didn’t want to let a single tear out – especially in front of one of his men – so he took a breath and managed to force himself back into detective mode.

 

“That last break – it looked like they stopped the camera,” he breathed out between grinding teeth.  “Editing out something they didn’t want us to hear.”

 

“Danny knows the big guy,” Kokua reminded darkly.  “Might have said his name.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

It wasn't hard for McGarrett to follow Dan Williams' paper trail in the 'nut case' file. In his administrative detective skills, Danno was first rate. His notes were clear and concise, leaving it easy to interpret just what he meant. In his private investigation, he did not fail to catalog everything relevant to the track.

 

In the observations, Williams gave marginal comments when he thought things were on the right path. Steve was amazed at the legitimate case file – official in every way – for the nut case.  Knowing Danno was one to think things through; in his mind, verbally, on paper, McGarrett dismissed nothing.  Impressed at the detail and notes, he poured over the scribbles for hours, completely understanding his friend’s methods and thought processes.  Much attention was given to the Poe poem and the notated stanzas underlined and commented on the most in marginal notes, were, agonizingly, ones quoted often by the abductor on the film.  Danno had been right on target, had spent a lot of time obsessing about the poem – analyzing it -- totally breaking down every line.  McGarrett could have saved his friend if only he had believed. 

 

 

*****

 

 

It was late afternoon now and the long hours of this day had sent McGarrett and his staff on forays into the streets then brought them always back here.  Lukela, Kelly, or Kokua checked names of suspects who held grudges against McGarrett.  Instinctively, Steve felt they were not the sadistic, vicious men who had kidnapped Williams. 

 

McGarrett concentrated on the remarks left by his colleague and zeroed in on a couple of points.  Disturbingly, *Blane*, *Pierson* and *Adams* were scrawled in several places on various pages of random notes.  Danno was haunted by the spectre of Adams and Pierson. He had never dropped them.  Could Danno have seen Pierson – was that who attacked him at the hospital?  Danno would have remembered the betrayer wouldn’t he.  Danno had been right about the danger, though, so how far could he be wrong about Pierson and Adams?  

 

“This is amazing,” he commented to no one in particular as he sipped a cup of coffee.  “How did Danno amass all this information?  He’s got HPD reports and traffic files – how did he manage all this behind my back?”

 

Behind his back, he thought he heard a cough, a cleared throat.  When he turned, it was to find passive expressions on the faces of Duke, Chin, and Ben.

 

Over the last few days -- after the incident of the wreck of the blue station wagon -- he felt he was close. The visit to the zoo brought several little asterisks in the notes. The name Dr. Derek Jacobs was underlined several times.

 

Just to satisfy himself, Steve put in a call to the Coast Guard and assured that the wreckage found off Laie that dreadful hurricane night was indeed Pierson’s boat.  While no bodies had been recovered, it was good enough that Manicote had started the proceedings to consider the bank president and his cohort legally dead.  Just days ago Danno had talked to Bergman, it said in the records, and the ME reported no bodies fitting the fugitive’s descriptions had turned up. 

 

Frustrated at losing his way in his friend’s footsteps, he decided he needed to get out of the office.  Traffic in the worsening rain was irritating, and he arrived at Honolulu Zoo with a sense of relief.  Checking with the veterinary staff, he learned that Dr. Jacobs was on holiday for the week.  McGarrett returned to the office, listening to the police band as he navigated the city streets.

 

The storm was back in full force, whipping rain and wind long Oahu’s coasts and even Honolulu.  Up on the North Shore, more storm damage and HPD was busy handling it.  They had requested more assistance, but McGarrett refused, securing Lukela and a few others to help Five-0 find Danno – that was his priority now.

 

Storm damage – Steve had his own to deal with now – damage to Dan – to him.

 

With no more clues at hand, McGarrett – his skin fairly crawling with dread – forced himself to watch the movie again, hoping to find evidence, but managing only mounting frustration during multiple reviews of the dreaded film. He called himself a detective. Danno, while wounded and drugged, had held onto the most vital clues for weeks! Then, in that last reel, he seemed to recognize his captor.  It had been a shock to Danno to know the assailant, but confusing not to recognize the cameraman – no – that the cameraman was not whom he expected it to be.  What did it mean? 

 

About to shut down the projector, McGarrett hesitated.  Pieces of the case notes popped into his head and he realized there was mention of them IN THE FILM!  Cringing, rewinding it, he started from the beginning.  Quotes from Poe’s poem.  The blue station wagon. NUT he called the muscle man!   Surly a reference to the infamous nut case file! Danno was sneaking in clues!  Even if he believed McGarrett dead, he was planting clues for his colleagues!

 

“I love you, aikane,” he almost laughed at the sheer audacity and wit of his officer.  “We’re going to beat them, Danno, I promise.  If only I can GET your messages!”

 

How was McGarrett going to read the verbal hieroglyphics Williams had given him?  Held captive and being tortured, possibly to death, he was paying the price for Steve's blindness and even believing him dead, was trying to light the way for Five-0.

 

And McGarrett? He was running around Honolulu without a hint of who he was pursuing, why, where or the worst of all -- his friend's current fate. This sadistic movie could have been filmed at any time this whole weekend! Was Danno even alive anymore?

 

Groaning, Steve fell back into his chair, weak with misery.  Danno had been so right and Steve would not listen, would not accept evidence presented to him repeatedly by his top detective.  If he got Danno back from the grave a second time – just as he had that stormy night on the North Shore – he was not going to take him for granted ever again.

 

 

*****

 

 

The lights slammed on, jolting Dan out of his brief, fitful sleep. Between the poison drug now coursing through his veins and a recently delivered sucker punch, he was in no mood to deal with any more outside influences. He noted with only passing interest that he had, at some point in the past few hours, been returned to the examination tray where he’d originally awakened. The shackles on his ankles and wrists stung as they rested against raw skin. His stomach growled, but he felt no hunger despite not having eaten a bite since… since when? Lunch at the office on Friday? What day was it now? He couldn’t tell day or night in either the cage or here in the “examination” room.

 

Over the course of the past hours / days, he’d been kept awake until he literally lost consciousness, only to be awakened by the jolt of a cattle prod a short time – a very short time it seemed – later. He’d been drugged, punched, kicked, starved, and manhandled in pride-stinging ways, but somehow the fear he was fighting surrounded the interrogation sessions.

 

The “master” hated Steve and had killed him.  How?  How did Dan possibly help in the heinous crime?  Did it matter?  Dan had failed.  Somehow, Jacobs figured out a way to get to Steve.  Dan knew he shouldn’t have buckled so easily to Steve’s pressure to give up his investigation.  It had cost Steve’s life and maybe his before it was over.

 

He kept trying to place the voice – it was not Pierson -- but it did sound frustratingly familiar. He was certain he could associate a face with the voice if he could shake the fog from his head. In a glaring – and brief – moment of clarity, he recognized the small scar on his attacker’s neck, and realized that he was once again in the clutches of Blane Adams, but how had Adams survive the storm?  How had he hooked up with someone who held a grudge against McGarrett? A grudge so huge that kidnapping, torture and probably murder were involved…

 

Between the wooziness from the drugs, the violence, the cold, the fear, a lack of food and sleep, Dan found it impossible to focus on a level where any major part of his police training could help him. The only thing he could try to do now was to survive long enough to avenge Steve. Teeth chattering, he closed his eyes and prayed silently that he would be allowed to sleep for a while before the next round of torment began.  He tried to think of a warm, sandy beach, the sun blazing down on skin that was beading with sweat instead of shivering from the raw cold of the concrete, the starvation, and the constant waves of anxiety.

 

He could hear somebody in the next room. For a few moments, he thought he’d been having a nightmare, but the reality of his plight snapped back when he attempted to roll over. No, Williams, you’re not having a nightmare – you’re living one…

 

Just then, Blane Adams stepped around the corner. “Time to feed the animals.”

 

Dan knew already that the creep wasn’t speaking of food. He’d been offered nothing, but water during his entire captivity, and he doubted the trend was going to change in the near future. A part of the detective, feeling the need in his body, was glad that it was time for a fix. He was filled with disgust with himself for looking forward to the drug, but had to admit that it did take the edge off his discomfort and it seemed to take any hint of hunger away completely. He knew he was weak from not eating, and was sickened with the thought that, if given a choice between a slice of papaya and the drug, he would prefer the needle at this point. He prayed that he would be strong enough to choose the food, but honestly wasn’t certain. Williams knew he needed to be alert for an opportunity to escape, but the fog in which he was enveloped made it difficult to see more than twenty seconds into the future.

 

The muscular man sauntered up to him and roughly backhanded him. The harsh treatment almost made him pass out, but he inhaled deeply and tried to clear his thoughts for the impending confrontation. It wasn’t hard to liken this to the first confrontation with Adams weeks ago; in the isolated cabin on the North Shore, amid the crashing storm.  Blane wanted to kill him then, and there was a moment, like this, when Dan knew his life was meaningless to the killer.  Not hopeless, though, like Jacob’s poem.  Blane tried to kill him then and he had survived.  He wanted to live now, needed to outlast his tormentor to revenge Steve. He wanted to encourage the violence, enrage the monster to the point of inattention.  It seemed the only way to outwit him.  He put on the most defiant, contemptuous expression he could muster, but then faltered slightly when he saw the hypodermic. The thought of his triumph weeks ago, of his duty to avenge his friend, won out over the fear rippling inside.

 

“Go ahead, Adams,” he taunted with the most bravado he could muster.  “You can do whatever you want with me – half your size – chained and drugged! That’s the only way for you, isn’t it?” Dan’s heart beat faster, knowing he was taking a chance by angering the surly, twisted man without any way to fight back – unless his plan worked.

 

The man backhanded his prisoner across the face again. “Why should Jacobs have all the fun?”

 

Dan felt the blood rushing from his nose, but he pressed on, deciding that he’d rather be beaten to death than die a slow drug addict’s death. Worse, endure the torments that played in his imagination. His voice sounded hoarse, “Unchain me if you want to have some fun!”

 

The man, rage fueling him, was breathing deeply as if he’d just run a race. Suddenly, he straightened, his demeanor defiant. "You want to see some fun, little cop? I promised that to you and I never got to show you.  You and McGarrett!” The laugh was merciless. "Just remember – you asked for it!  You’re not gonna survive this, but I’ll be sure and tell McGarrett every detail before I do the same to him."

 

Dan gasped.  It was trick – had to be – Steve was dead – they told him that.

 

Adams guffawed at the detective.  “Yeah, McGarrett is alive. Not for long. You and your McGarrett.”

 

Steve alive!! He had to get out of here!  He had to warn Steve – they were coming after him next!

 

“I’m gonna show you what I wanted to do to him back at Frank’s place but Frank was a little jealous.  In the slam, we dream of what we’ll do to cops if we get a hold of them in a dark alley.  Well this is your dark alley, little Five-0 man.”

 

Still reeling with the amazing shock that he had been duped and that Steve was still all right – for now – Dan had to keep reminding himself to keep focused.  He still had to live through Adams’ next treatment. 

 

Blane laughed at him.  “Why do you think we’re filming this, you stupid cop.  We’re showing this to your pal!  We’re torturing McGarrett with this, idiot!  That’s why we’re making you suffer.  But this is over now.  You’re dead.  Next is McGarrett.  Man, killing you is gonna to be so fun, but wait till I get to the top cop.”

 

Steve’s been seeing this!  Sick.  Focus!  This is your only chance to warn Steve!

 

Adams' hateful expression was almost instantly replaced with what Dan could only describe as an evil, maniacal smile. "Just what shall I do first, cop? There are so many little games we could play.” An idea had crystallized in the fiend’s mind. He pulled the tourniquet from his back pocket, and tightly tied it around Dan’s upper bicep. "I think more drugs. I want you really doped. Then we're going to play out a little story for the camera, Williams. I think all this torture is a waste of time, but as long as I have to do it, I'm going to enjoy it.  Double since I know, McGarrett is going to watch you die.  I’ll be sure to tell him how much fun I had when I see him."

 

The officer flinched from the pain, but maintained his mask of contempt, as Adams drove the needle into his arm and fished for a vein. It didn’t take him long to find what he was looking for and press the plunger that drove the drug into Dan’s bloodstream. It took only seconds for Dan to feel the effects, but he tried to ignore the warming sensation. The officer steeled himself as the much larger man leaned over him.

 

Despite all the terrors he’d endured during his captivity, he now felt a new dread. He was gambling with a murderous fiend who hated cops. Adams had promised some awful things before. Now without means of fighting back, Dan truly feared what was about to happen to him – he’d incited the thug in a gamble, but it appeared as though he was about to lose the bet.

 

The detective heard a click and felt first his left arm drop, and then his right. Adams had unshackled his hands!! That was the good news – the bad news -- that he still couldn’t move! Dread filled him, as he realized that his muscles weren’t prepared to cooperate. Adams was so confident in the drug’s incapacitating ability that he turned his back on the detective to unshackle his legs.

 

Somehow, through shear determination he sat up.  When he saw the screwdriver sticking out of Adams’ back pocket, he slid his shaking hand over and snatched it just as Adams turned and grabbed him by the throat.

 

“Okay, cop, let’s see what you can do to stop me!”

 

Dan pushed his left hand into his attacker’s face and quickly pulled his right hand into himself. Adams’s own momentum towards the detective drove the screwdriver upward, under the man’s sternum all the way to the hilt.

 

For a few horrific moments, the man’s expression revealed shock and pain. Through some involuntary reaction, he continued to squeeze Dan’s throat tighter and tighter. The officer struggled to pry the large, constricting hands from his neck before he passed out. Finally, Adams’s body dropped onto him, trapping him under the heavy, still form.

 

Dan could feel the warm wetness beginning to evacuate from the dead man onto his own naked chest, as he laid there gasping and shaking.

 

Cringing as he pressed against the dead weight constricting him, the body finally toppled to the floor. Dan slowly sat up, rubbing his neck where Adams had held his death grip. His wrists and ankles were raw from the shackles, his body weak, his limbs trembling, but he forced himself to rise.

 

Dizziness and nausea swept through him, and the room reeled, but he knew his escape was not a done deal. His dead attacker might have still sealed his fate by shooting him up. He’d been subjected to the drug enough times now that he knew he had only a few minutes before he would lose control of most of his higher order faculties and probably drop – like a rock off a cliff – into unconsciousness. If he didn’t make good with an escape now, he would awaken re-shackled. The master – no, not the master – it was Jacobs – Adams had said it! The voice – David… NO – Derek Jacobs -- the vet from the zoo!! He’d been right – it WAS a zoo employee! Triumph at the memory was fleeting though. At this point, the WHO didn’t matter as terror began to override the pain and drugs

 

Jacobs – would be returning soon he feared. He couldn’t think. Panic overrode the pain and drugs as he made his way up a few steps and through the innocuous efficiency-style room to the door.

 

Looking to neither the left nor the right, he pushed the door open and ran headlong into the darkness. He sprinted across the asphalt area just outside the building to the cover of some bushes just as headlights crested in the road leading to the building.

 

It’s him!

 

Truly afraid for what would happen to him if he were re-captured, he ran as fast as he could, with no regard for any natural dangers that could befall one when running barefoot through a pitch black jungle. Trees and shrubs tugged at his flesh as he ran through the dense foliage. It felt like he’d run miles when something tore at his bare foot. A cry of agony escaped his lips as he fell. He struggled to his feet, and started to run again, but suddenly, he was falling again, this time down a steep embankment. He scraped along the ground as he slipped into the brush below.

 

The landing was hard, mixed with rocks and mud. As Dan hit, his legs would no longer support him, so he toppled headfirst into the damp ground. Grateful to have stopped, he could not remember why he was running and why he shouldn’t close his eyes. So, he lay there, curled up in a ball, and dropped into the peace of unconsciousness.

 

 

*****

 

 

“You moron!!!” Jacobs kicked the empty bed, his eyes glued on the inert form sprawled on the floor, and eyes open, a pained expression frozen on its face, blood still trickling from an ear. “I told you not to underestimate Williams, and now look!” He suddenly kicked the body.  Pacing, he literally pulled at his hair as his mind worked the bitter new twist of fate into come kind of sense. "Idiot!" Jacobs shouted at the corpse.

 

Leaning his head on the wall, he swallowed the knot of illness in his throat. The rotten smell of blood and death was pervading his nostrils now. It was strange that he was revolted by it in a human he detested, but was never fazed by it in the many animals with which he worked.

 

A vet ought to act with more decorum, he finally decided, and after taking some deep breaths, he moved closer to the body and tentatively touched the neck.

 

“Hmm, the body’s still warm, so I doubt he’s gotten far, but it’s too dark to look for him now,” he said, noting the empty syringe near the bed. “At least the fool shot him up before Williams killed him. But I can’t take a chance that our young friend hasn’t called the cavalry."

 

Sneering, suddenly realizing he was talking to a dead man, he stood and surveyed the room. "What shall I do?” He walked around in a circle for a time, talking to himself. “I’m going to listen to the police radio for awhile and see if any calls come in about our little situation. If we don’t hear anything by morning, I think we can assume that our friend is passed out or OD’d in the foliage nearby. I’ll dump you, dear Blane, someplace fitting for a man of your questionable stature, and then, I’ll come back at dawn and see what I can see.”

 

He inhaled sharply, realizing he was doing it again. Talking to a dead man. He had to leave before he drove himself insane. He was going to salvage this. He had to avenge Frank. The only way to do that was to murder Williams. That was the best way to get McGarrett.

 

Hatred and rage engulfed him again as he paced his office and thought of the uselessness of events in the past months. Frank left him for this! For a fling and a dream – a dream within a dream – he hysterically, ironically conceded and it was all ruined now! Frank was dead and why? Because McGarrett wouldn't let him leave -- hounded him to death -- driving him into the angry surf of the storm. The whole plan for vengeance was wrecked now, just as that escape boat had been dashed to the lava rocks of Oahu.

 

He slowly sauntered up the steps and he twisted his hands through his hair, leaning elbows on the desk, frantic with grief and frustration. In the back of his mind was a glimmer of survival -- which he could now escape from the web of revenge he had constructed. Did he want that? Give up now? No! Williams could be dead already… or too weak to find help. The game was still alive. His plan could still work. And safety -- he did want to live, yes -- survive this and move on someday. To do that he would have to remain free of detection. That meant finding Williams.

 

He flipped on the police band on the radio and listened to calls for a while. No alerts about Williams. Good news. How could he know for certain? He almost giggled at the thought. It was brilliant and absurd simultaneously and struck him as perfect.

 

Without waiting for common sense or stable emotions and thoughts to tilt him back to a more rational mindset, he picked up the phone receiver and dialed the operator. Within moments, he was connected to Hawaii Five-0. After telling the receptionist he had important information about Danny Williams, he was immediately put through to the target of his wrath.

 

"This is McGarrett. What do you know about Dan Williams? Who is this?"

 

"This is someone who hates you, McGarrett. Now I am punishing you for your crimes!  ‘Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream?’ “

 

"What crimes?”

 

“How does MURDER hit you?”

 

The cop’s voice, still tense, took on a more measured tenor. “Murder of whom?”

 

Jacobs laughed even as tears began to stream down his face. “That’s the question of the hour, is it? You don’t even know what lives you’ve destroyed!”

 

“Look, pal, the only way out of the trouble you’ve made for yourself is to tell me where you’re holding Williams!”

 

The command enraged Jacobs. Whom did that cop think he was bossing him? He had all the power now! He had what McGarrett prized most in the limbo between life and death. The cop was not going to dictate to him!

 

"I choose not to return Williams to you! Not alive McGarrett. You don't deserve him!  You destroyed my dream, my life!  You made me lose hope.  Now I will destroy yours!  I’ve taken away your hope of seeing Williams alive again.  Now I’ll come for you!”

 

The threats and invectives were invigorating. It charged him with energy, with a tantalizing thrill traveling along his nerves.  Right alongside the fear of discovery and the triumph, that he was indeed fulfilling his long-awaited dreams of revenge.

 

"How does it feel to bleed inside?"

 

He verbally ravaged his victim. Perhaps the recent, visceral evidence of violent death colored his words. The images of his hate appeared in his mind as forms and symbols that were almost lyrical in their physical poetry of graphic pain inside and out.

 

"How does it feel to hurt like this!" he shouted and slammed the phone down with such force it skidded across the desk and onto the floor.

 

 

*****

 

 

Shaking, McGarrett stood there like a statue, his body weak, his insides agitated, and fluid with terror. He had been touched by a madman and the effects were rippling through him like a cold wave. This unknown person filled with such acrid vile hated him. The loathing was the cause of Danno's disappearance and who knew what else.

 

The implications of all of it hardly registered beyond the horror still pressing on him. Danno was in the hands of a raving lunatic. How was he going to find his friend?

 

A motion at the edge of his vision reminded him there were other matters to deal with. Slowly clicking back into cop-mode, his brain snapped back to instinct. Follow the familiar path, track down clues, systematically stick to the routine and they would find Danno. He had to believe that.

 

"Steve, we couldn't get a trace on the call," Ben quietly reported. "Just not enough time."

 

Fist still strangling the phone, McGarrett slammed it back into its cradle with an echoing crash. "He says he has Danno," McGarrett began, unable to explain all he had gleaned in the brief encounter with raging lunacy.

 

Stepping away from his desk, he paced, thinking. No, that was not what the man said exactly. Replaying the recording he had automatically started when Jenny told him about the call, he flinched as he heard the threats and taunts over again, but in a strange way, the continuous repetition of the only evidence in Danno's kidnapping was settling. Here he had the voice print and tangible record of his opponent. The man's instability was frightening, but the unhinged pattern meant this foe had multiple weaknesses.  The man was deranged, but he had purpose and method in his danger.  If only Steve could exploit them in time to save his friend.

 

“Did you recognize the voice?” McGarrett whispered, his voice trembling.  “It seemed so familiar . . . .”  He shook his head.  “There at the end . . . .” the man had lost it – emotions ripping his taunting into pathetic ravings.  Of a lunatic.  “Unraveled.  Before that it was so familiar.”

 

Like a chill needle suddenly scrapped along the back of his neck, Steve shivered. Derek Jacobs. The face, name, and voice all fell into place with sudden clarity.  He knew that name from something other than the zoo. Jacobs, Jacobs, he ran the name repeatedly in his mind  . . . .

 

"Yes!" he suddenly shouted, clapping his hands in excited exhilaration. Yes! Derek Jacobs! He had met Jacobs at the club with -- with Frank Pierson! They were on the same charity committee. "Yes!" he cried out to the walls of his office. And with the name came a face and a voice -- a tone he had never heard in the comfortable confines of Honolulu's finest clubs, but a lean, tenor tone that, if pushed into sanity, could belong to the infamous recording of the madman who held Danno.

 

With the place of a name and face and possible voice, came other snatches of the past. Frank and Derek together in numerous situations involving the club. Now knowing what Frank had revealed at his house, a subliminal sense easily transferred to Derek. Pierson and Jacobs were probably lovers. It was a wild guess, but one based on years of intuitive reasoning and observation of people. He never suspected it from Frank, but now -- after the horrible day on the windward coast when Adams had shot Danno, Pierson had shot him, and then the criminals left them for dead -- now it all became clear.

 

Danno recognized Blane as the assailant!  Yes, now that he thought about the build, the way the man moved – yes, it was Adams!  That meant that Blane and Frank had miraculously survived and Jacobs was hiding them. 

 

The reason why the vicious brutality was so familiar on film was now explained.  Frank had called off Adams at the mountain cabin just as the mysterious cameraman – Jacobs -- tried to call off Adams in the movie.

 

Why the kidnapping?  Why take Danno?  Where was he being held?  Suddenly he couldn’t move or talk fast enough.  Shouting an order for Lukela to get a squad car up to Pierson’s place on the North Shore, he also dispatched Kokua to Pierson’s Honolulu home and another squad to the zoo again to get all the information they could on Jacobs.

 

Kelly would get current address and make of car ownership on Jacobs.  By the time he had an address McGarrett wanted to be on the doorstep.  Exhilarated they had direction and suspects and even something of motivation gave him hope and revitalized his energy.  He was not robbed of hope of getting Danno back.  He knew how he was fighting and knew that Danno was still alive.  Betting on his luck and willpower, he believed he was going to rescue his friend.

 

 

*****

 

 

Exhausted emotionally and physically, Derek dropped to the chair, only then recognizing the tears coursing his face and knowing his passionate delivery had been marred by the trembling in his weepy voice. That didn't matter. McGarrett would hear the heartbreak and agony he felt -- it had to be a mirror of what the cop was going through and that gave Derek a strange charge of unholy energy. That he could inflict this kind of pain on the person who caused his -- yes-- there was something to this world of violence and passion. An aspect of life and death he had never understood before in his clinical world. Animal care and intellectual pursuits had not prepared him for this.

 

With a dry, bitter laugh, he appreciated the irony. He had slipped onto Blane's level without ever knowing it or sensing a similarity there with someone he still hated. Maybe all mankind was this makeup; beast and brain.  Hadn’t he dissolved Williams to such a piteous visceral stage – on the same level as all creatures – the primal, most basic survival of living from feeding to feeding?  In Williams’ case existing now for the drugs, he was being supplied. 

 

All these years Derek only saw the separation of the animal kingdom with humans. Now he understood men could live in both worlds and that no man was above the bestial level. Frank's loss had brought him to the basest of animal nature and instead of fearing it or fleeing from it, he now willingly embraced it all, dragging his enemies down with him.  Wrestling his hated foe in the primordial mud of elemental emotional grime and winning.

 

Pushed beyond his boundaries from grief and anguish, he had reinvented himself into a new world.  When he impersonated the doctor at hospital.  When Williams interviewed him it had been as if a different man was doing the talking to the detective; he had been so cool and composed.  Now the violence – blackmailing a thug! -- kidnapping a cop!  He had never dreamed he could twist and turn like this – oh, what passion did to a man!  It was as if he had harbored a hidden, secret person under the skin and tragedy allowed it to erupt to life.  A life – double life.  Hadn’t he existed that way for years, hiding his true nature and covertly finding friends to share it with, like Frank?  Maybe it prepared him for this deceptive layer all this time.

 

Now, for his survival, he had to finish this. Find Williams, destroy him, and thus destroy McGarrett. The mind of the clinical scientist reverted. Steps to success. This had all been planned out well. Williams' escape was not going to ruin any of this.

 

First, dispose of the body. Blane might be found if anyone came here so housekeeping was the first order of business. Then find Williams. That was not even a challenge he confidently felt. Drugged, injured, weak from lack of food, Williams would not go far. Where was there to go? Here in the rugged pali of the windward coast, set back in the deeply wooded hills far from any settlements, the officer would never make it alive to civilization.

 

As repugnant as it was, Derek prepared for the unpleasant first task. He donned overalls, then moved to the other room and wrapped Blane in a tarp. It was hard work dragging the muscular man to the door, then hefting the literal dead weight into the back of the station wagon, but Jacobs managed.

 

Driving slowly down the narrow dirt road etched along the side of the hill, Derek carefully watched for signs that Williams had come this way. Nothing apparent. When he reached the edge of a turnout, overlooking a pali, he stopped and exited the vehicle with his accomplice. Releasing the brake – the car in neutral (with it’s the inert bundle) -- he gave it a push down the slope. The heavy car snagged shortly on a tree then it plunged farther down the hill. He was exhausted and took a moment to catch his breath before hiking back up the hill. For a bit, he could take his time. This was an isolated area; no one would find Blane for a long while. When they did, they would never trace him back to him. There seemed a rash of car thefts from the zoo facility lately. A Five-0 officer had talked to him about it, he giggled. Yes, he was covered by Williams in some official report somewhere. The irony made him laugh aloud. As dense as any other cop, Williams had come to him fishing for evidence, never knowing he was alerting his worst enemy – his ultimate tormentor and murderer.

 

 

*****

 

 

Twilight washed a vague glow behind the billowed storm clouds knotted in the western sky.  Racing up the coast, showered with ever-increasing rain, Steve tried to avoid the subliminal link with the unsuspected tragedy at Pierson’s house.  Whipping the Mercury up the hillside path above the windward coast, to the lab, he slammed on the brakes and skidded the heavy car in the mud just a few feet from the entrance.  Not bothering to check out tire tracks or other minutia now, he ran to the door, drew his revolver, and rushed into the building. 

 

Mildly surprised it was not locked, he expected his officers, Ben, Duke, and Chin, to cover him as he raced inside.  There should have been a whole army of officers with him, but the storm was thinning out the reserves.  If needed, he would call a statewide alert if ht thought it would help.

 

The blind-covered windows offered no light and he flicked a switch, taking in the reception area, then the empty, sparely decorated office with a glance.  Crashing a heavy door open, he came to a laboratory/medical clinic with a metal door at the other end of the room open.  Breathing hard, he halted; listening, sensing, until his nose itched on the inside.  The subconscious alert was an odor he had recognized that made him come to a stop.  Blood.  The rancid scent of blood nearly gagged him.  He had sniffed it a hundred times, but not like this – not when he so feared what he would find because he had seen in living color whose blood it could be.

 

Taking a few steps forward, he cautiously peered into the other room, revolver ready.  Switching on the light, he gasped.  The bars, cell, blood-smeared chains, gurney – everything he had seen in the macabre film.  There on the cement floor a copious pool of blood.  Ben and Duke angled past him through the door and circumspectly circled the smears and the largest puddles.  Both officers exchanged glances, and then looked to McGarrett.

 

Swallowing a wave of illness, Steve gulped down hard.  Focus, focus.  Smear marks – concentrate on those.  “Someone was – hurt – pretty bad,” he faintly managed to croak.  He cleared his parched throat and took another breath to calm the tremor vivid in his voice and extending to his limbs.

 

“Dragged,” Lukela unnecessarily pointed out.

 

McGarrett nodded.

 

“A body was dragged away in something,” Kelly quietly observed.   “The puddle’s smeared and no trace where we came in.”

 

McGarrett turned back into the office, unable to think it through, complete the conclusion to it’s natural end.  He closed his eyes and had to open them again to stare at the grey floor and wash out the stark blood-red glaring in his mind.  The smell, the color, the cloying confinement of captivity was too overwhelming.  He had seen who was here and what they had done to him and now the final crushing blow.  Evidence of horrible harm – mur – no – terrible harm.  He couldn’t take the next step even mentally.  Though was there any reason to hope?  Didn’t that poem – and Jacobs -- talk about taking hope away?  How could Danno have survived the drugs and torture and the loss of blood obviously left behind in this prison?  He didn’t know, but he had to cling to that slim thread of hope.  No body.  He wouldn’t believe the worst until he saw a body.

 

“Shall I get a lab crew up here?” Kelly asked when joining him.

 

“Yeah, I want this place swept for every tiny detail!”  He looked out the open door to the pelting rain crashing into the mud.  “No way to trace where Jacob’s has gone or what kind of car he has,” he shook his head, frustrated and angry at the negatives piling up.  “Get the lab boys out here now.  Any piece of evidence is important.  Duke, you stay here and wait for them,” he ordered as the other officers came in.  “Dig around in the rooms and see what you can find.  We’ll get back to the office and find out anything else we can about Jacobs.”

 

 

*****

 

 

With the aid of flashlight, Jacobs searched the area from the top of the hill down. His search was methodical and reasoned, as his scientific training deemed. He found clear evidence of Williams' flight -- broken bushes, blood traces, sometimes even foot prints. Although he was no tracker -- not a nature man at all -- he could not miss these obvious signs. With each piece of leftover trail came more confidence that he was going to pull this off. He would recapture Williams. He would bring him back to the facility and torture him until he was dead. Could he do that?  The physical torment – the dirty work – was what he had brought Blane aboard for and the thug had managed that well until his stupid neglect got him killed.  Did Jacobs have it in him to torture and kill a human?  He couldn’t even do that to animals and felt horrible when he caused an animal pain.  Hurt Williams?  Torture the person McGarrett valued.  Yes, he could do it.  His newly discovered bestial side eagerly awaited the chance to destroy Williams – and McGarrett through Williams – in the most horrible way possible. Then -- well he would think of a suitable way to return the body where McGarrett would find it. After that -- he would work on a fatal trap. The lure was easy. The end for McGarrett -- just a matter of time.

 

 

*****

 

 

“Where did you say they found the body?” The intensity in his tone came through loud and clear even over the phone.

 

A body – not Danno’s – on the mountain not far from the lab.  Had to be who belonged to the huge puddles of blood.  The body that had been dragged from the horrendous holding cell, yes?  The murdered person who was NOT Danno!  To Steve, the rest of the information seemed irrelevant and he listened with only partial attention to the words.

 

“On a hiking trail on the windward coast. Some hikers spotted a hand sticking out of the bushes,” Ben replied.  Rain hitting the roof of the car was clearly audible on the strained connection over the radio.  “Fingerprints definitely make the guy as Blane Adams. Recently deceased.”

 

"WHAT!” McGarrett snapped. “He died – he was supposed to have died in the ocean with Frank Pierson!” He shook his head, assimilating the surprising information.  Danno HAD been right!  Adams and Pierson had survived and enticed Jacobs into this insane scheme of kidnapping and torture.  It seemed so ridiculous. Even when he had seen it in Danno’s notes, he had been skeptical.  This was so unlike Frank – well – so had murder and homosexuality and embezzlement seem beyond the nature of the bank president. “Have Che Fong get me whatever he can as quickly as possible, and Ben –”

 

“Don’t worry, Boss,” the detective reassured. “I’ll get the info back to you sooner than possible.”

 

McGarrett allowed the phone to drop from his hand. What was going on? As the phone hit its cradle, Steve’s office door opened, and Chin walked purposefully in to stand at his boss’s desk.

 

Blane Adams. Stunning. Pierson and Adams supposedly perished in the storm. Where had they been hiding all this time? They must have been trapped on Oahu because of the storm and tracked Danno -- for what purpose? He thought more seriously about the message from the kidnapper.

 

"You don't deserve him."

 

What kind of a message was that?  It would answer a lot of questions if he knew that -- maybe the big one; what happened to Danno.

 

“What’ve you got?”

 

“Adams was found in a blue station wagon, like Danny was tracking at the zoo.”

 

It seemed the last item to crash in to condemn him for blindness to his friend’s pleas.  Danno had been right all along – about the stalking, the danger, the station wagons, even about Adams and Pierson.  How wrong could McGarrett get?  One-sixty off, apparently.  That his friend paid with self-doubt, criticism (from his best friend), pain, torture and maybe his life made the guilt infinitely worse.

 

 

*****

 

 

The night had been as tortuous as any McGarrett had ever spent. Racked with guilt over his friend’s peril, conscious mostly by virtue of nerves, will, and caffeine, Steve rubbed his face to wipe away the fatigue and tension. Ben walked in with fresh coffee and a bag of something his boss assumed was pastry of some sort.

 

“Steve!” Chin burst into McGarrett’s office desperate to share news.

 

McGarrett, whose head pounded from a tension headache that he hadn’t shaken for days, was seated at his desk rubbing his temples.

 

“The fingerprints on the screwdriver –“

 

Chin paused until he stood right in front of the boss, who stood in anticipation of good news. ‘Please, dear God, a break – we need a break. Danno’s only crime is getting too close to me – being too protective of me.’

 

“Out with it, Chin,” McGarrett could wait no longer.

 

“They’re Danny’s.”

 

As Chin offered no speculation on the news, Ben did so.  “Somehow, Danny killed the guy.”

 

Steve felt so weak with relief he grabbed onto the edge of the desk.  Danno killed Blane.  Danno survived long enough to kill one of his tormentors.  Danno could be alive!  He didn’t have to say it, the grins bursting out on his detective’s faces were enough to know he was mirroring the goofy delight.  Their kaikaina could be alive.

 

McGarrett shook his head as if trying to rid the confusion. Adams and Williams? Had the ex-con and the ex-bank manager gone after Danno after their supposed escape? McGarrett’s thoughts were racing. Jacobs and Adams together? He wouldn't guess and didn't want to know the seedy details of that relationship. Perhaps Jacobs was a third party to the embezzlement scheme. Anyway, for some reason they had turned on McGarrett and Williams, and Jacobs and Pierson were the ones left alive with Danno.

 

Snapping his fingers, he walked a path in front of the desk. “So what happened after that? Did Jacobs and Pierson manage to subdue Danno again or –” Steve face twisted in concentration as he stopped speaking in mid-thought.

 

“Steve – you think Danny got away?” Chin sat down in one of the chairs in front of the desk as he mulled over the possibilities.

 

“If he did, then where is he?” Ben followed Chin’s example and sat down in the neighboring chair.

 

“Maybe he’s hurt.”

 

“Or trapped.”

 

“Or unconscious.”

 

As his two detectives batted possibilities back and forth, Steve stood and began pacing, a ritual all too familiar to his men.  He had to believe this meant Danno was still alive – HAD to believe.

 

“Ben, you say Doc said Adams had been dead no more than a few hours before he was found?” McGarrett remembered the answer, but it helped to state the question aloud.

 

Ben nodded and added, “That’s right. No time for any levidity or rigor mortis to begin.”

 

“So that means that it’s been no more than eleven hours since Danno and Adams had it out. Eleven hours.” McGarrett began snapping his fingers AGAIN as he paced. “We know they’ve been keeping him drugged, so it’s just possible that he made an escape, but couldn’t quite get to help.”

 

He could only pray that statement was more than a hope. If Danno had killed one of the captors, AND if he hadn't escaped, would his life be worth anything now?  Was the silence because he HAD NOT made a successful escape?  No, Steve could not believe that this was the end.

 

  

*****

 

 

Light was peaking through the leaves. Shivering as the cool breeze brushed against his damp form, he struggled to focus on the manmade object in the distance. An hour earlier, he had awakened from his black slumber in the mud as he slowly became aware of the throbbing pain in his head and his torn foot. His wrists and ankles burned as they were raw from the shackles that had held him for so many hours. Dizzy and limping, his progress seemed agonizingly slow as he made his way down the rough terrain. He crossed a dirt road once or twice, but was so afraid of colliding with the master that he opted to make his own path. Drugs and injuries had driven much of the reason from his brain.

  

Is it a phone booth? Oh, God, let it be a phone booth… He held his breath as he peered through the bushes, where he crouched. His ears strained for the noises of humanity. Any sound other than those found in nature might have forced him in a different direction, so afraid was he of being re-captured. After several minutes of watching and listening, desperation finally won over fear. He stood cautiously, as if trying not to awaken a sleeping beast. Warn Steve!

 

He took a deep breath to try to clear his head as he darted suddenly from his hiding spot. Even the dizziness from the sudden movements did not stop him as he weaved toward his target. How far? The phone booth did not seem to be getting any closer.

 

Come on, keep going, don’t give up…

 

He fell twice as vertigo overtook him on the fifty-foot trip, but each time, he managed to steady himself against the ground.

 

Ground is down, sky is up…

 

At last, he was rewarded as his body slammed into the side of the rusting booth. The box had clearly seen better days, but Dan had no thought of whether the old phone was in order. It had to be. He sat on the floor of the booth for a moment and fought to clear his head. His thoughts snapped back to his objective after forgetting for a few moments why he was there. He pulled himself up and lifted the receiver from the switch hook. Dialtone…Dialtone… As relief and joy flooded his body from the beautiful buzz in his ear, he leaned his head against the cracked glass and dialed the operator.

 

“Operator –” His voice was hoarse and weak, and he found his thoughts difficult to organize into a coherent sentence.

 

 

*****

 

 

“Boss, you look awful – You need to get some rest.”

 

Ben’s evaluation was met with a rueful look, but before Steve could respond, Jenny, who normally would not arrive in the office so early, screamed, “BOSS!” All three men jumped and were galvanized into action as they raced to the secretary’s desk.

 

“It’s Danny! Line One!” Her voice cracked as she turned to speak into the receiver, “Hang on, Sweetie! Steve’s here!”

 

“Trace it!” He barked to Jenny as he leaped back to his desk to pick up the line. Chin rushed over to the tape recorder and activated it just as his boss picked up the phone. “Danno! Are you okay? Where are you?”

 

“Steve…” The voice was weak.

 

“Danno – answer me! Where are you?” Steve could feel his stomach twisting as responses did not come quickly enough.

 

“Not sure…”

 

“Look around! Are you inside or outside?”

 

“Phone booth – Steve – He wants to kill you. He—” The sound of the phone handset being dropped made the men listening hold their breath.

 

“Danno! Danno!”

 

Twenty seconds passed before the thin voice could be heard again. “Dropped the phone.”

 

“You’re in a phone booth. So you’re near a road. Are you near the ocean? Talk to me, Danno!” McGarrett feared the connection would be lost before the call could be traced.

 

“I’m going—I don’t know. I can’t hear the ocean – Steve –” A gasp was audible. He’s coming! I’ve got to go!”

 

“Danno! Don’t hang up! Run if you have to, but for God’s sake, don’t hang up! We’re tracing the call!” The sound of the handset being dropped again resonated. McGarrett’s jaw clenched as he strained to hear anything on the other end of the line.

 

Ben shouted, “Got it! He’s calling from a phone booth with a Punaluu address!”

 

“Jenny!” He barked as he and his two detectives ran past her desk, “Have a chopper waiting for us at the Governor’s helipad! I don’t care what it’s doing – I want it there yesterday!”

 

“On it,” She snapped, as tears streamed down her face.

 

 

*****

 

 

Blind terror driving him, Dan pushed aside the door of the phone booth and continued his headlong plunge down the hillside. It was the sound of a car door that had returned him to the realization that he hadn’t reached safety yet. Steve was alive – confirmation that Jacobs had been lying! Now the immediacy of his own circumstance pressed in on him.

 

He could hear footsteps breaking the foliage behind him. The crackling and tearing was growing louder, but the dehydrated, exhausted detective could move no faster. He fell, and landed roughly on the slope. His head spun, but he quickly struggled to his feet, with no time to consider from whence his energy reserves were coming.

 

“Wait!” came the terrifying command from behind Williams, who knew his pursuer was about to win the race.

 

The tackle came fast and hard, and both men tumbled several feet down the slope before rolling to a halt with Jacobs ending up astraddle the weak detective. Dan could not take steps fast enough to defend himself from the fists of the man whose face was twisted into one of maniacal rage.

 

“I’m feeling much more in touch with my bestial self – I should never have left all the dirty work to Blane!”

 

Two backhands were enough to leave Williams stunned into near immobility, but Jacobs, obviously enjoying the violence, took two extra swipes at his victim before he retrieved a hypodermic from his pocket.

 

“You lied… Steve’s alive…” Dan whispered as the vet positioned the tourniquet and pushed the hypo’s full volume into the spent detective’s arm.

 

With a satisfied grin at his handiwork, Jacobs tossed the syringe and ran his hand over Williams’s hair. “Yes, yes – STEVE is alive to see my handiwork.”

 

Unable to struggle further against the man still sitting on him, Dan could feel the familiar, now-pleasant wave of relief spreading through his bloodstream as he tried to focus long enough to rejoice aloud. “Steve is alive… he’s coming to help me...”

 

“Here?” Jacobs sat upright and put his hands on his thighs as he considered the thought for a few moments. He looked back up the hill at the phone booth with a wave of amazed realization. “That old booth still works?!”

 

Dan squeezed his eyes shut and grimaced as the crazed vet turned on his captive again and clutched a fist full of his hair.

 

“McGarrett is on his way!” Jacobs spat venomously. He raised his free hand to land another blow on the helpless detective, but stopped in mid-swing. Taking in a sharp breath, his thoughts raced. McGarrett was on his way… Isn’t that what he wanted all along? To lure the man who destroyed his life into a trap? A trap, which would end in his agonizing death? Slowly, his gaze returned to Williams as a sneer slipped onto his face. “You think you’ve ruined the plan, my pet, but you’re wrong! I promised that you would help me make McGarrett suffer before he died – you’ve done that, and NOW, you’ve lured him into a trap!”

 

The implication of his phone call and the truth in what his captor had just said slowly struck Dan. He took in an agonized gasp. It was true! He had just summoned Steve to a meeting with this murderous fiend! “No!” The detective wheezed as he found a new will to struggle, albeit feebly. “Steve… no!”

 

Jacobs gleefully ran his hand across his prisoner’s face with a near-feminine flourish and giggled. “I couldn’t have planned it more perfectly!”

 

 

*****

 

 

The nearest area big enough for the chopper to land was a clear field across the street from the old gas station and what Steve suspected was the target phone booth. As the chopper swung into position and glided down toward the ground, McGarrett was disheartened to see no immediate sign of Williams. Further tightening the knot in his chest was a late model Cadillac, parked in what had been the gas pump lane.

 

Jacobs was here! The head of Five-0 was certain that the well-to-do vet would be driving a high-end ride like that. As the blades whipped the area with wind, he immediately noted movement a hundred yards down the hillside. Two small axis deer played across his line of sight, diverting his focus from the scene just beyond, but moments later, the lead detective zeroed in on the sight for which he’d been praying for nearly twenty-four hours – Danno! Partially clad in only hospital scrub pants, marred with dirt or blood or abrasions, Williams was seated, leaning against or possibly pinned to a banana tree – it was difficult to tell from the helicopter vantage point.

 

Without waiting for the skids to hit the dirt, McGarrett was out and running. Drawing his revolver, he scanned the area for any sign of the suspect. As he slowed his progress to accommodate the steeper terrain, he was suddenly aware that he was plunging headlong into an unsecured situation. There would be no way that a man as obsessively angry as Jacobs would would pass up an opportunity to do in the target of his wrath. In fact, the lead detective considered, a foolhardy dash to Williams was probably exactly what the maniac wanted him to do.

 

Fighting with everything, he had to keep from racing to his friend’s side, McGarrett stopped thirty feet short of his destination in the partial cover of a large Hibiscus bush. Straining his senses, he tensely took in the area around him in anticipation of Jacob’s almost certain appearance. Natural sights and sounds were plentiful, but nothing of man caught his attention – except the object of his fervent search.

 

Despite the enormous danger before him, McGarrett could not help but feel a measure of exhilaration at having found his friend alive. With that foremost prayer answered, Steve desperately studied his friend’s features and demeanor, searching for clues as to the detective’s condition. Not unconscious, Dan seemed dazed. Cuts and bruises were plentiful, even from thirty feet away. The gag in his mouth was blood soaked, probably being fed from the small crimson river running from his nose. His breathing, while not too accelerated, did seem labored.

 

Particularly disturbing to Steve was his friend’s complete lack of reaction to his presence despite the fact that the younger detective seemed to be looking tiredly in his direction. The head of Five-0 knew that it was likely a mix of drugs and exhaustion, but his own joy and relief at having control of Williams’ fate returned to him was clouded with the graphic reminder that Danno, obviously spent physically and emotionally, was still in serious medical jeopardy. To what degree he was injured remained to be seen.

 

“Danno!” McGarrett called. Another slightly louder shout to his friend seemed to bring Williams slightly out of his stupor. With bleary eyes, he struggled to focus on the source of the sound. Slowly, the light of recognition came across Dan’s expression, but it was not what McGarrett expected.

 

The detective cried fragilely, shaking his head, desperate to deliver a message that was blocked effectively by the gag.  Rubbing the binding with his shoulder, it partially slipped off his mouth. “No – Steve – no . . . .”

 

“Everything’s gonna be fine, aikane,” McGarrett reassured hoarsely, now wondering whether he was being overly cautious. Perhaps the sound of the helicopter had frightened off the unstable suspect.

 

“Trap…”

 

Williams’s response immediately confirmed his initial suspicion – Jacobs was lying in wait for him.

 

The head of Five-0 now could make out a wire, which transected his friend’s neck and disappeared around both sides of the tree trunk. It was the reason Dan would be unable to move – whether or not he had the physical wherewithal.

 

“Yes, Steve, it IS a trap, but then a smart cop like you has already figured that out, haven’t you.” The velvety growl came from behind Dan’s position. McGarrett instantly adjusted his focus to watch a grinning Derek Jacobs leaned out slightly from behind the cover of the tree and slip his hand onto the wire around Williams’ throat.

 

The suspect locked eyes with Steve – the crazed, cornered expression in that desperate face nearly immobilized McGarrett.

 

Jacobs’ smile cracked even wider. "Don't come a step closer, McGarrett – not yet. I want to savor this moment!"

 

Burning to close the distance between him and his friend, the lead detective nevertheless remained frozen in position, his gun aimed carefully at the older man’s chest. "Step away from him, Jacobs! Your sadistic violence ends here!"

 

A flash of anger momentarily darkened the vet’s countenance, but he recovered quickly. Jacobs gave a slight, but violent tug on the wire, causing Williams to grimace and squeeze his eyes shut. “You’re right – it DOES end here! You see, I’m going to shoot you with dear Danny’s gun.”

 

“And what’s to stop me from putting a bullet right between your eyes?” McGarrett came back evenly, hoping he was adequately hiding the agony of watching Williams' weakly struggle with the tight metal cutting into his neck just below his chin.

 

“If you shoot me, I’ll fall backward over the pali – which is barely two feet behind me – and when I do, the weight of my body will pull this wire right through our friend’s jugular vein. If I manage to jerk backward as I fall to end my dream, I might even manage to sever his head!”

 

The head of Five-0 tried to keep his outward reaction under control, but could not prevent his lip from twitching in fear for Danno’s life. “And if I let you shoot me – what’s to stop you from killing him after I’m dead?”

 

Jacobs arched his eyebrows and laughed. “That’s just it – NOTHING! And if you kill me before I kill you, then your puppy still dies, and you live on with the grief – the same grief you gave me when you murdered Frank!” The vet’s eyes suddenly pooled and his lips trembled. “You’ll go on living your own dream within a dream, knowing that I tortured and murdered this lovely creature all because of YOU!!”

 

McGarrett flinched internally with the knowledge that the fiend, however warped he had become, was in fact right on target in his perception of the horrible burden that he would carry with him should he alone he survive this confrontation.

 

“Shoot him,” Dan wheezed, his face twisted in pain. “Shoot…”

 

Of course, now was not the time to feel affection, but Williams’ plea for Steve to save himself by shooting the suspect evoked the emotion unbidden. He swallowed the lump in his throat as he watched Jacobs step further from the tree, revealing his entire torso – and the presence of a gun – Dan’s service revolver – in his right hand. The wire trailing to Dan’s neck was still wrapped around his left hand.

 

Frantically searching for an answer, which would not end up with two dead detectives, McGarrett opted to try to buy time. "This has nothing to do with Dan Williams!” He reasonably but angrily countered. “Let him go!"

 

"It has everything to do with him," Jacobs cried out, tears glistening down his cheeks suddenly more prevalent than the beaded sweat. "You took Frank away from me! He would’ve come back. Blane was just a fling.  By taking dear Danny away from you, I’m giving you a taste of what I’ve suffered!  How does it feel to bleed inside, McGarrett?  I know, I’ve been bleeding for weeks.  But what I’ve done to you and your puppy it’s helped me feel so much better."

 

“Shooooot,” Dan groaned.

 

With the recognition of desperation in his friend’s voice, McGarrett suddenly noticed that Dan had somehow managed to unleash the wire from the opposite side of the tree. The stainless steel still ran across Williams’ throat, but he was free to tug it away and slip from its deadly grasp. That he had not done it yet, Steve knew immediately, was because as soon as Jacobs learned that he would not be able to kill Williams, there would be nothing stopping the fiend from firing on McGarrett.

 

The lead detective quickly raised his gun and prepared to unleash a round into the dangerous man.  Jacobs must have sensed his decision, for the maniac shifted to take aim, then, before he could squeeze the trigger he slipped suddenly and vanished into the surrounding gooseberry bushes. “Whoa… ahhh!"

 

Williams cried out and fell to the ground as the wire raked across his neck.

 

“Danno!” At last, free to leap to his friend’s aid, McGarrett wasted no time in closing the ground between them. Sliding on his knees the final two feet, he quickly, but gingerly tugged Williams’ hand back and was relieved to see only a rough-hewn burn interlaced with breaks in the skin. Drops of blood were quickly finding their way to the surface, and Steve wasted no time tugging his handkerchief out and pressing it against Dan’s neck.

 

Without wasting a word to explain, McGarrett suddenly and violently took his foot and broke the taproot branch of the bush closest to him. He knew Jacobs had to have fallen off the lip of the pali, but he needed to be certain of the man’s fate. It was to his instant horror that an out-of-control monster lunged from the underbrush and clutched wildly at the head of Five-0’s ankle.

 

Steve gasped from the surprise appearance.

 

“NO! I’ll take you with me! I’ll kill you!” Jacobs wildly screamed.

 

Steve quickly collected his gun from beside an unmoving Williams’ head. Taking aim, he shouted, “You’re under arrest, Jacobs!”

 

The announcement seemed to shock and further enrage the demented man, who struggled to gain a better foothold that he apparently had. “Never! Shoot me! End my misery!”

 

The head of Five-0 hesitated – not because he was considering shooting the suspect – but because he was relishing the fantasy of shooting the man who had kidnapped and tortured his friend. A few seconds later, the sound of sirens drawing near told him it was time to end his dream. “No, Jacobs – I think I’ll just arrest you instead.”

 

Derek Jacobs gulped back a sob before he began to laugh. Just as McGarrett leaned down to drag him up onto solid ground, the miserable wretch released his hold and dropped backward into space. Steve – despite his hatred of the man – gasped and then held his breath until the figure vanished under the canopy of trees a hundred feet below.

 

 

*****

 

 

A dream within a dream within a dream within a Steve within a dream within a Steve…

 

“Maybe we should let him sleep, Doctor?” The sound of a female voice cut through the gelatinous bubble of fitful sleep into which McGarrett had fallen.

 

He snapped to alertness and pulled himself upright in a single movement to find Doctor Bergman and a white-haired nurse hovering over him.

 

“What time is it? How is he?” The detective demanded as he rose before he was certain those were the right questions.

 

Ben and Chin, with ambulance and two HPD units in tow, arrived minutes after Jacobs had fallen to his death that morning, and clambered down the hillside to join their boss at their prone friend’s side. Williams, to Steve’s dismay, had dropped into limp, unresponsive unconsciousness by the time he’d crawled back to his side.

 

The multitude of bumps, scrapes, and bruises visible his friend appalled McGarrett. Williams’ hollow cheeks and raccoon eyes were a testament to four days of starvation and sleep deprivation. The trip back up the hill was not a long one distance-wise, but because of the recent rain and the abundance of clutching, vine-like vegetation, the journey was rough. Ben and Steve, along with the ambulance personnel and one of the uniformed HPD men, did their level best to keep from jostling the victim carefully strapped into the stokes basket, but numerous slips and stumbles made the ride a bumpy one. Wanting the rescue operation to be smooth and painless for his friend, McGarrett still desperately hoped – with each major bump – which Danno would react in some way. A frown… a groan… some sign that he was not slipping away. It was not to be though – Williams rode out the journey up the hill and to the waiting care of Doc Bergman at Castle Memorial Hospital like a rag doll… oblivious to the inadvertent grueling handling and unavoidable machinations of his rescuers.

 

The impatient boss had paced and waited in the hospital lounge for word on Dan’s condition for more than two hours before Bergman offered a preliminary report that there were no obvious broken bones. The toxicity screen on his blood revealed an unidentified compound, but the physician was not certain what effect, if any, it would have on his patient. With a promise that he would call if Dan awakened, Bergman persuaded McGarrett that he should go on with his routine.  With the realization that his friend was safe and would probably sleep for the remainder of the day, the head of Five-0 did go home and get cleaned up before he went to the office and took over the reins of the after-action activities on the case.

 

He’d called several times and confirmed that Williams was sleeping. Finally, with all the immediate duty-related fires tamped out for the day, McGarrett had returned to the hospital that evening. It was late, and he himself had not slept more than an hour or two since he’d learned of Danno’s kidnapping, but he was determined to establish a personal level of comfort that Williams was on the mend. Thinking he would be able to at least sit with his friend – a much-needed healing routine for the lead detective – he’d put up an angry argument with the staff when he learned that Dan had been sequestered from ALL visitors. Stuffed into the nearest waiting room to await Bergman’s promised imminent return from his autopsy duties, he paced impatiently. Anxious about the unusual treatment and aggravated that his badge did not clear the way for him to see the patient, McGarrett finally dropped onto the couch for a few minutes. That opportunity was all his body needed to shut down.

 

Now, the lead detective hovered over Bergman, who looked drained himself, and awaited an explanation for the situation.

 

The medical examiner nodded slightly at the nurse as he stuffed his hands into his pockets. “I’ll take it from here, Sara.”

 

As she turned to leave, the petite woman shot a wary glance in the direction of the visitor. The tall, striking figure, who had been so difficult all evening, suddenly seemed vulnerable and anxious. She’d been in the profession long enough to know that the tough façade he’d been presenting was expertly masking intense concern. Why men put so much energy into hiding their feelings was beyond her. With a brief shake of her head, she left the two men to their masculine maneuverings.

 

“Why the stonewalling, Doc? Is Danno okay?” The detective immediately demanded.

 

“I won't sugar coat this, Steve. Danny's not in good shape."

 

Pinching his lip solemnly, anxious for the rest of the report, McGarrett steeled himself and showed no outward reaction to the dire pronouncement. Visions of the horrific movie of Dan's captivity had played in his mind almost constantly. The sadistic treatment, the knowledge that his friend had been repeatedly injected with a potentially addictive drug -- captivity at the hands of a malicious madman – preyed on him. Jacobs had known about pain, all right, and he knew how to deliver it with a stinging and reverberating anguish. None of it boded well for a quick recovery. No, Steve had not expected this to be a conference chock full of good news. However, he did have to hang on for the bottom line – that Danno would recover completely. Only that would drag him out of this depressing abyss of emotional torment in which he’d been dwelling.

 

"Will he be all right?"

 

“If we can keep his vital signs stable while he metabolizes the Diphenhydratequalone.”

 

“That’s the drug that Jacobs was… was using?” McGarrett clenched his jaw as a vision of his friend pinned to the floor being roughly injected with the toxin pushed into his mental line of sight.

 

The physician nodded. “Yes. I had to track down a zoologist at the Honolulu Zoo. That guy informed me that use of DHQ had been suspended after it failed its trial.”

 

That didn’t sound good, he grimly mused.  “Failed its trial? It was experimental?”

 

“It was designed to be a calming agent for use on large animals, but it became apparent that the drug introduced some nasty side effects, namely extreme paranoia, cardiac arrhythmias, tremors, generalized agitation, aggressive behavior….” Bergman looked towards the ceiling as he recalled the list of contraindications. Finally, he returned his focus to the detective. “And lastly, it turned out that the sedative was addictive. As far as I can tell, this is the first case of its use on a human subject, so there’s no data to tell us how the treatment will affect Danny.”

 

McGarrett ran a hand over his face as he assimilated the news. The terms were all daunting.  Pooled together in a heap they became discouraging and overwhelming.  He addressed a side issue unrelated with the threatening condition. “You make it sound so… so clinical, Doc.”

 

“That’s my job, Steve,” the medico asserted gently.

 

“When will we know the answers?” The detective turned toward the wall and idly studied the light switch.

 

“As it happens, I’m afraid,” Bergman shrugged slightly. “He came around a couple hours ago and---”

 

“He woke up and I wasn’t permitted to see him?” The detective spun angrily and his eyes bore accusingly into the physician.

 

“Steve – I wasn’t here, but I’m told that Danny didn’t want any company.”

 

“Didn’t want— he didn’t mean me!” McGarrett shouted.

 

“Easy, Steve, remember the list of side effects I just rattled off?” The doctor held his hands up in a defensive gesture. “Danny’s not himself, and he may not be for awhile.”

 

Steve didn’t know what that meant exactly and refused to inquire.  What he did know was that he did not like the sound of it at all and there was only one thing that would help ease the anxiety, even if it did nothing to alleviate the untenable situation.  “I want to see him NOW!” The head of Five-0 started for the door with an exasperated, but resigned-to-the-situation medical examiner in tow.

 

 

*****

 

 

McGarrett was simultaneously disturbed and pleased to see that his friend rated an orderly at the door. His eyes narrowed slightly at the large sentry as they passed him and entered the dimly lit room.

 

The head of Five-0 was immediately surprised to see his second-in-command sitting on the bed, knees pulled protectively to his chest. Dan, eyes closed, was rocking almost imperceptibly, and didn’t look up to see who had entered. His flushed face glistened with micro beads of perspiration.

 

McGarrett shot an uncertain glance at Bergman, who was focused on his patient. Both men stepped to the bedside, but it was the detective who reached out slowly to touch his friend. “Danno,” he greeted softly to announce his presence a second before his hand lit on Williams’ damp arm.

 

“Don’t! Don’t touch! Don’t touch!” The patient snapped in a quiet, but nervous tenor.

 

The head of Five-0 recoiled quickly as he responded, “Danno, it’s me – Steve. You’re safe now.”

 

“Away… go… go away... go,” Williams breathed as he continued rocking.

 

McGarrett fired a frustrated fleeting glance at the medical man, who diverted his eyes downward and folded his arms. Not willing to be put off so easily, he tried again. “Danno… please… open your eyes.”

 

“Dream… within a dream… within a dream…” Dan intoned softly.

 

A shiver coursed through Steve – he himself had awakened only a few minutes ago with that same chilling mantra wrapping itself around his thoughts.

 

“Danno, wake up and look at me!” McGarrett commanded.

 

The patient did not respond immediately, but after several seconds more of mumbling phrases from the now-infamous Poe poem, Williams slowly opened his eyes. He continued to rock as he suspiciously scanned the room. When his gaze reached the two men at his bedside, he stopped.

 

The head of Five-0 smiled gently. “Danno.”

 

The patient glanced at the doctor before his eyes came to rest on the detective standing only two feet from him. He squeezed his eyes shut and re-opened them as if to clear his vision while words absentmindedly escaped his lips via the faintest whisper. “Go… go…out … out…”

 

“Danno—” Steve reached for his friend’s arm again, but quickly pulled back again as Williams erupted.

 

“Get out! Go! Leave… me! Now!” His hoarse voice was loud enough that the orderly opened the door to see if his services were necessary.

 

 “Danno—”

 

“Get out!” Dan whispered angrily as he shied to the other side of the bed and looked away.

 

Bergman tugged lightly on McGarrett’s sleeve, causing the detective’s head to snap in that direction. Hurt momentarily graced the man’s expression, but it quickly vanished behind a stone mask as the doctor gently guided the lead detective from the room. The pair walked in silence to the end of the hallway before Bergman tried to offer some verbal balm. “Steve…”

 

He didn’t’ think it would be like this.  The suspected side affects – he never guessed they would apply to his friend.  Danno had seemed – he didn’t know – more together when they were at the pali. Maybe the crisis of the moment had pushed him to think more rationally.  Or perhaps the drug had time to take deeper effect of his mind.  “I know – you warned me,” McGarrett interrupted tiredly, his tone tinged with dejection.

 

“I’m sorry, Steve. He needs time,” the physician placed a comforting hand on the detective’s back.

 

Of course, Steve held the intellectual knowledge that it was probably the drug talking… probably…

 

Naturally, Danno had every right to be repelled by the sight of him. He was after all the root cause of his friend’s horrible experience. Not only was he – Steve McGarrett – the ultimate target of the fiend, but he had failed to heed his best detective’s admonitions that a crime was in the making. It had caused immeasurable pain and suffering for Williams. Steve swallowed, annoyed with the self-pity that suddenly washed over him. He cleared his throat, took in a deep breath, and blew it out. “He’ll have whatever he needs.”

 

Bergman canted his head and gave the detective a light shove. “Go home and get some rest.”

 

“Doc!” The late night silence of the hospital ward was broken with the shout of the orderly who’d been standing at Williams’ door. “The door! I think he’s jammed the door!”

 

Both men and two nurses who were within earshot all mobilized and headed toward the source of the excitement.

 

The detective was the first to try the door and agreed with the attendant’s assessment of the situation. “Danno! Are you all right? Open the door!”

 

“Danny!” Bergman called immediately on the heels of McGarrett’s entreaty. “Son, open the door!”

 

“He wouldn’t hurt himself, would he?” The head of Five-0 wondered aloud.

 

“That… wasn’t a documented side effect for any of the large animals in the test,” the physician responded distractedly. “But then how would a tiger kill himself?”

 

McGarrett snapped his focus momentarily to Bergman, who caught the horrified expression being leveled at him.

 

“Sorry,” the medico muttered as he leaned his head close to the door. “What happened here, Nate?”

 

The orderly responded with chagrin. “Right after you and Mr. McGarrett left, I heard a noise comin’ from Mr. Williams’ room, so I started to open the door, but I guess he musta been standing right there. He pushed the door shut and wedged somethin’ into the crack – the door stop maybe?”

 

“Danno! Do you want us to leave?” The head of Five-0 was not certain what good it would do to have a dialog with someone in the throes of drug withdrawal, but he could think of no other place to start.

 

The muffled voice came from low on the other side of the door. “Yes… go… Steve… please.”

 

McGarrett was infused with hope just to hear his friend say his name. Kneeling, and then bringing himself to a seated position on the floor, he looked up the small crowd and commanded, “Everyone please go away!”

 

The medical people all looked to Bergman who hesitated for only a moment before he nodded his consent for his subordinates to obey. The medical examiner stepped back several steps before quietly issuing inaudible instructions to Nate, who glanced in McGarrett’s direction before nodding and jogging down the hallway.

 

As the lead detective watched the nurses vanish around the corner, he spoke into the door. “Danno, everyone has gone away, but I will not go, aikane.”  When there was no answer, he called again. “Did you hear me, Danno?”

 

A brushing against the door hint at the un-well detective’s presence before he finally responded.  “Yeah.”

 

Slow, McGarrett, go slow…. The head of Five-0 burned to make progress with the situation quickly, but his experience a few minutes earlier served as a graphic reminder that his friend was very ill. With that fact at the top of his thoughts, he held his tongue, and waited.

 

Several, interminable seconds passed before his patience was rewarded with the sound of Williams’ teary voice. “Steve…”

 

“I’m here, Danno.”

 

“Why…”

 

There it was.  The condemnation McGarrett had piled upon himself since Williams’ kidnapping was now leveled at him from the victim.  Why had he not believed Danno’s warnings?  Why did he allow this to happen? When no further information elucidating the question was forthcoming, McGarrett pressed. “Why what, my friend?” 

 

“Why… how can you stay here after what I did?”

 

The question stunned the senior detective. “After what you did?”

 

Dan sobbed, “I helped…”

 

“What?” McGarrett’s expression contorted.

 

“Him… I helped him…”

 

“You helped who? Jacobs? Danno, you were his prisoner! You did nothing wrong!” It was not uncommon for victims of violent crime to assume some responsibility for what happened to them, but he found himself amazed that his friend could place any blame on himself.

 

“No… I called you… I knew he wanted…”

 

The lead detective was now tracking with his protégé. “You knew he wanted to kill me… and you think you were wrong to call me for help? Is that it? Danno…” He felt his own eyes pooling. “Don’t you know that from the moment I learned Jacobs had grabbed you, I would’ve given anything… ANYTHING to find you.” He leaned his head against the door as his own confession poured out. “You tried to warn me… over and over… I didn’t listen, and look what happened to you. I don’t know if you can ever forgive me.”

 

Both men sat, inches apart, on opposite sides of the door. Several seconds passed before Williams broke the silence. “Steve?”

 

McGarrett took in a ragged breath before he answered. “Yeah, Danno?”

 

“I forgive you.”

 

The head of Five-0, overwhelmed with the priceless commodity he’d found in Williams, shook his head. “I don’t know… I just don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t made it.”

 

“Steve…”

 

“Yeah?” McGarrett silently cursed in passing as he realized he’d wept to the point of a runny nose. He slowly tugged out his handkerchief as he waited. Several seconds later, he called softly, “Danno?” Suddenly, he could almost feel Williams’ lack of presence. “Danno! Are you all right?” He scrambled to his feet, and noticed Bergman and Nate with one of the building maintenance men bringing up the rear.

 

With the physician’s concerned expression, the detective explained that he thought Dan might have passed out near the doorframe. The maintenance man made short work of removing the door from its hinges, and within two minutes, Bergman and McGarrett were able to slip past the a-kilter door to find Williams unconscious exactly where the lead officer predicted.

 

As Nate collected the patient and distributed him into his bed, Dan groaned.

 

“Easy,” commanded McGarrett as he helped to adjust the pillow under his friend’s head.

 

Williams' eyes opened half way as his nose crinkled in discomfort. “Steve…”

 

“I’m here, Danno,” the head of Five-0 assured softly.

 

“Don’t leave yet.”

 

No words were more welcome on Steve McGarrett’s ears that night. Danno had recovery time ahead, but if strong friendship had anything to do with it, he would pull through with no lingering effects.

 

“Nothing will tear me away, aikane.”

 

 

PAU

 

 

After the Storm

Sung by Hawaiian Style Band

From their "Rhythm of the Ocean" CD

 

 

I opened my eyes on a night like no other

And my dreaming lived as real

All around, everything in ruin

Gonna take some time for things to heal

 

After the wind and the rain

Nothing gonna be the same

My whole world changed

After the storm

 

Take something so strong

Make you feel so small

Blows your illusions in no time at all

Nature’s gone insane

Long time about a hurricane

The sound of the trees breaking in two

There was nothing you could do

 

After the wind and the rain

Nothing gonna feel the same

Everybody’s world change

 

After the damage was done

We were crying in the morning sun

Now it’s back to square one

After the storm

 

Who could ever forget it

When it’s everywhere you turn

Life goes on you live and you learn

 

Starting over

Back on line

Picking up the pieces one day at a time

It’s bringing people together

It’s tearing others apart

It’s a blessing in disguise or a broken heart

 

After the wind and the rain

Nothing ever loves the same

Our whole world has changed

After the storm

 

After the danger was done

We were crying in the morning sun

Yes it’s back to square one

After the storm

 

After the driving rain

What could ever be the same?

Everything is so strange

After the storm