STORM FRONT

 

by

gm

new scenes by BH

 

 

Late January 1973

 

With surprising suddenness, huge blobs of rain dotted the windshield in an unexpected flood.  The onslaught, heavy and abrupt, akin to driving under a waterfall. Startled out of his reverie, McGarrett felt fortunate he had not been behind the wheel because of his preoccupation. He glanced through the glass now rhythmically swept by the wiper blades. Clouds were dark and low all around them. Cars approaching on the other side of the freeway had on headlights, indicating they would soon be driving into the intense center of the storm.

 

"Fall-out from the hurricane," Williams declared as he put up the power windows and turned on the air conditioning of the big Mercury.

 

McGarrett nodded in agreement. It was uniquely tropical -- how the weather could be so stormy and wet, yet with the windows up it was too warm to be comfortable.  Typical Hawaiian humidity. He had forgotten all about the hurricane, which was passing to the north of the island chain, bringing unusually heavy rains and winds, otherwise veering past the archipelago without any serious effects. That was why McGarrett had pushed the natural phenomenon from his mind. He would not notice anything short of a disaster right now. His mind was too consumed by the pressing case currently targeted as Five-0's top priority.

 

"This Kailua thing is really bugging you," Williams observed quietly, indicating way he tapped his fingers on the side of the door.

 

McGarrett instantly stopped the nervous habit.  "Yeah," he sighed deeply. "It's too pat. Kailua is the original honest employee, well known for his integrity. Why suddenly embezzle two million from his bank and skip the country?"

 

Williams shrugged easily. "After twenty-three years of handling other people's money, maybe he wanted his own."

 

McGarrett shook his head, not buying the easy out. "You're sounding unusually cynical," he commented, changing the subject.

 

"Just hungry," Dan corrected with a grin. "We skipped lunch in our rush to Mokuleia."

 

McGarrett glanced at his watch. Almost four-thirty. At the mention of food he realized he was hungry as well. They were nearing the intersection which offered roads to the windward coast and the North Shore, or south toward Honolulu through the center of the island. Dan suggested a sandwich place in Haleiwa where McGarrett could indulge his passion for sprouts and whole grains and he could get a fat, juicy pineapple/teriyaki burger. Recognizing when he had been cornered, McGarrett agreed.

 

The extreme differences in culinary taste would seem, to an outsider, to be an appropriate comparison to the two officers from Five-0. Steve McGarrett, the chief of the Hawaii State police unit, was tall, dark and severe in both dress and manner. Dan Williams, short, curly-sandy hair and an easy smile, seemed more comfortable on a surfboard than in a police car. Beyond the superficial opposites, the men were linked by a bond as strong as the deep Pacific waters which ringed the islands they loved. They shared a passion for justice, and on a more personal level, they had forged a bonding friendship as an outgrowth of their working partnership.

 

When McGarrett had recruited Williams into the special Five-0 unit, there had been a mutual admiration on both sides. McGarrett was impressed by the young HPD officer who was an expert marksman and sharp detective. Williams had admired the brilliant and tough Irish cop who had created a legend for himself and his crew.

 

Over the years the respect and admiration shifted, altered in metamorphosis within the working relationship. McGarrett had seen in Williams a raw talent, a passion for integrity, a temper which was occasionally too impulsive -- traits which could have destroyed Dan. Slowly those assets were refined and tempered and Williams had turned into the best cop McGarrett had ever known -- and his closest friend.

 

*****

 

Their search for the missing bank manager had led them to an isolated airstrip at the northwest tip of Oahu near Kaena Point. At the end of the long drive from Honolulu, they had found an abandoned car which Kailua had rented. Fresh tracks on the dirt runway indicated a plane had recently landed there. FAA, the Coast Guard was alerted, but there seemed little hope of catching the escaped embezzler because of the storm.  A lab crew was sent out to collect evidence, again, the boss held out scant faith in that avenue, also because the rains would soon wash away many of the traces left behind by the criminal.

 

Now sheltered from the heavy downpour, the two detectives sat on a bench on the Kua Aina’s open lanai eating their lunch. McGarrett paid scant attention to the food. His mind was still gnawing on the puzzle of Kailua.

 

Williams finally asked, "You really don't think he's guilty, do you?"

 

With a negative headshake, McGarrett indicated that he didn't. Everything pointed to the manager, yet it went against the man's honorable character. As he often did, Williams took on the role of devil's advocate, countering McGarrett’s theories with ideas which could spark alternatives that they batted back and forth in a verbal web of woven logic.  It was a useful tool which often led to a fully formed link to the correct solution.

 

“We've seen men change character before over money or power or lust," he observed philosophically as he munched on a french fry. "What makes Kailua different?"

 

"I don't know," Steve admitted, puzzled himself over the vague theories that plagued him. "When we interviewed him he was so -- I don't know -- old world."

 

"Moral? Old fashioned?" Dan supplied with a smile, his blue eyes sparking with mischief.

 

"You don't buy that?"

 

Williams shrugged. "Guys like that are a dying breed. That doesn't spell integrity or infallibility. And it doesn't mean he's not guilty," he insisted, countering the supposition with realism.

 

McGarrett shook his head, not sure where he was going with this. "Hard to find an honorable man," he muttered almost to himself.

 

"Yeah," Williams agreed meaningfully, "but I know a few."

 

McGarrett gave a slight incline of his head, acknowledging the compliment. "So do I." One was sitting across from him. Another few were back at the Five-0 office in Honolulu waiting for the two of them to return. "Let's go, Danno. We can keep hashing this out on the drive back."

 

"The direct route to the H-2, or the scenic route along the scenic coast?" Williams quipped, sweeping his arm out as if he were a chauffer..

 

"The scenic route," Steve chose as they reached the car.

 

Unmindful of the rain, Dan stopped in mid-motion of opening the door. "I was joking. That's where the worst of the storm is hitting. You're kidding, right?"

 

"No," McGarrett admitted over the top of the car, then slipped into the security of the dry interior.

 

Williams quickly followed the lead, wiping rain out of the tight curls of his drippy hair. "Why?  We’ll be hitting right into the storm front."

 

"Call it a hunch. Pierson is staying at his getaway place near Kahana. I'd like to talk to him about Kailua."

 

With a silent nod Dan revved up the car and pulled out of the parking lot. Once back on the highway they discussed the list of suspects. One was a bank guard with a flawless record. The other was the assistant manager, an older woman who had transferred from the mainland and whose records had not yet been received. The other was an old friend of McGarrett's, the bank president, Frank Pierson, who was on the list only as a routine procedure.

 

The storm intensified as they traveled the distance along the North Shore, around the upper tip of Oahu and down toward Laie. Some sections of the two lane road were obscured by the flooding waters. It was slow going, but the traffic was thin due to the rough conditions. McGarrett radioed the Palace to inform Chin Ho Kelly of their mission and let him know they would be late returning to the city. Kelly reported there was nothing new on his end. McGarrett told Kelly to dismiss the staff. They would all start fresh in the morning.

 

*****

 

The Pierson hide-away was a luxurious, split-level, wood house set back in the wild, rustic ridges of the fluted Koolaus. The wind-eroded mountain chain towered toward the middle of the island, a lush, green, dramatic backdrop for the elegant and isolated custom home. Navigating the slippery, muddy, single-lane path back into the rural area was tricky, and Williams sighed with relief when he parked the car in the gravel drive.  A new, shiny Jaguar was angled beside the house, the hunter-green waxed sheen rippled by rivulets of rain.

 

Williams let out a low, appreciative whistle. "Bank presidents sure know how to live."

 

"I guess they manage their salary well," McGarrett said.

 

"They have a lot more to manage than detectives," Dan quipped enviously as they raced up to the door, huddling in the shelter of the slight overhang, the intensifying rain pelting them with increased fervor.  “The storm sure whipped up, didn’t it?”

 

McGarrett rapped on the door and it creaked open, obviously not fully closed.

 

"Frank!" he called into the house.

 

Instinctively they stepped into the safety of the house and out of the rain. McGarrett called several more times but there was no answer. He suggested they split up and search the rooms. He took the hall and Williams strolled left toward the living room.

 

Wiping rain from his face, trying not to drip too much on expensive Oriental runner covering the hardwood floor, McGarrett's course took him to a large billiard room which, through open sliding glass doors, led out to a wooden deck and a garden. He paused to study the scene; the backyard merged into the rough forest beyond, now flooded and dark. The open door inviting wind-whipped rain into the house.

 

"No sign of Frank, but there's some packed luggage in the other room," Dan reported as he came to a stop next to his boss. "Steve?"

 

Transfixed, McGarrett stood motionless, studying the layer of newspapers spread over the mat of carpet stretched in front of the back glass doors. Mud. Soggy earthen mounds globbed on the deck just outside the glass doors. McGarrett visually traced the muddy footprints back from the door to the garden path. Just to the side of the walkway, not far from the house, a shovel stuck upright in the ground. Puzzled, the head of Five-0 contemplated the clues, sorting and piecing them together.

 

Williams followed the gaze and took in the same evidence. "You think something happened to Pierson?"

 

The moment his colleague spoke, McGarrett realized the truth. It was an instinctive flash, like lightning hitting the ground and sparking fire. For a moment, he was paralyzed with the sickening theory which, by some gut instinct, he knew to be true.

 

"No," he said slowly. "I think we've just found Kailua."

 

Behind them echoed a metallic click; the sound of a pistol hammer cocking back. "Very good, Steve," came a pleasant, calm voice. "Don't make any fast moves, either of you. Remember my target scores at the country club."

 

Despite the warning, Williams and McGarrett spun around, both stunned at the obvious implications to the order. Frank Pierson stood on the steps of the broad staircase leading to the upper floor. The automatic pistol in his hand steadily trained on McGarrett’s chest gave sober weight to the unbelievable nature of the command and the deadly realization sinking into the detectives’ minds.

 

McGarrett's first reaction was anger at being so blind. He had overlooked Pierson because the man was an old friend -- acquaintance. Obviously he had never really known Pierson at all. The next instant, Steve felt subdued with regret at the waste of such a once good man gone bad. He’d seen it before and every time it sickened him when a great life degenerated into crime and murder.

 

In the following moments he felt the first inklings of fear. He knew now with certainty that Pierson had murdered Kailua and framed the Hawaiian to look like the bank manager had fled with the money. Nearly a perfect, deadly scheme; one, however, that had been discovered.  Now his life and Danno's were worth as much as Kailua's had been in this scheme.

 

"Why?" McGarrett glared with contempt at the tall, thin, graying Pierson, who looked like a mature but well preserved matinee idol. "What a waste, Frank!" Incredulity tinged his contempt and his still shocked senses. "What a stupid waste!"

 

Pierson stepped closer, surveying the Five-0 chief with a dispassionate glare. "Not so, Steve. I had an excellent motive of course. The money, Steve. Sorry to be so simplistic and obvious, but I was nearing retirement and needed to keep myself and my friend, Blane, in the luxury to which we are accustomed." He was conversational and glib and without any hint of remorse. "Disappointed? It must be to someone so -- honorable," he finished with a smirk of contempt.

 

From the corner of Steve's eye he saw Dan, angled slightly sideways toward the gunman, edge a hand toward his holster. Almost instantaneously, McGarrett felt the press of a muzzle against his back. Startled by the second gunman, McGarrett jumped slightly.

 

"Don't do it, Williams," a voice behind them growled dangerously. "Unless you want to see your boss's chest exploded by a .45."

 

Williams turned to face the second threat – a gunman well over six feet; light hair cropped short in the style of some surfers, or military personnel. A distinctive scar marred a strong jaw. His broadly built frame made him look like a weight-lifter. After a quick visual assessment, Dan decided he did not want to get into a fight with this opponent. Receiving a confirming nod from McGarrett -- as if he knew exactly what Dan was thinking -- (which frequently happened) Dan decided that compliance, at least for now, was prudent.

 

"My friend, Blane Adams," Pierson introduced curtly. "Both of you put your hands on your heads. You know the procedure," was the sarcastic finish.

 

Seething, Dan slowly brought his hands up to the back of his neck. McGarrett did the same as he shot his officer a warning glance to obey the commands. Then the detectives were ordered to turn around and lean their elbows against the glass doors. Once precariously balanced there, Pierson kept careful guard at a strategic distance.

 

Adams purposely lingered over a body search of McGarrett, who growled and clenched his jaws with barely suppressed rage. The blond seemed to delight in the restrained wrath of the detective. "Cool you’ve dropped in on our little party, Mr. Five-0." The title was delivered with the utmost contempt.

 

Repulsed by the intimate search, McGarrett ground his teeth; dug his fingers deep into his clasped hands to deter the instinctive desire to fight back. Intellectually, he could convince himself to keep a composed head. The humiliation was disgusting, but temporary. A bullet in the head was permanent. McGarrett brushed eye contact with his colleague and tried to convey the message of tolerance to Danno.

 

Concerned, Steve recognized the anger and disgust in Danno's face and knew his impulsive friend could explode into ill-considered action at any moment. Jaw tight with growing apprehension, he gave a subtle shake of his head.

 

"Come along, Blane, we haven't got all day," Pierson snapped waspishly.

 

"Too bad, cop," Adams sneered in McGarrett's ear.

 

McGarrett's stomach rippled at the intimacy of the tone and the violating touch that went with it. He knew this guy was toying with him. Still, it was impossible to not be affected by the baiting. Forcibly shifting his revulsion from the forefront of his mind, he reverted to his cop instincts to assess his situation and enemy. He snagged onto several clues immediately which could prove valuable. One was that this Adams character was almost certainly an ex-con; the skin pallor and contempt for authority likely indications. The second thing was that the contempt for police could be very dangerous to them.

 

Blane took possession of McGarrett's .38 with a final brush of his hand against Steve's back, and then moved on to Williams, who had watched the exploration of McGarrett with barely contained rage. Dan was subjected to a search which classified as intimate. Swallowing a knot of disgust, McGarrett gave another warning shake of his head to his officer to caution against a reckless move. Blue eyes blazing, Danno finally looked away, with a guttural snarl of loathing at the subjugation. The treatment lasted only a few minutes before Williams wrenched around, hitting away Blane's hands.

 

Moving quickly, McGarrett grabbed for the gun. Williams tackled the man and wrestled him to the floor. A shot impacted through the door just above their heads. The bullet was so close shards of glass sprinkled McGarrett.

 

"Back off, Steve, or the next one is through your skull!"

 

Pierson was close and McGarrett knew the first shot had been a warning. Obviously, there would not be any more leniencies.

 

"Okay!" Steve agreed angrily.

 

He released a deep breath and slowly backed away, his hands in plain view. The chief of Five-0 glanced to where his friend still struggled with the gunman. Williams was completely outmatched and repeatedly struck by the powerful Adams.

 

"Call him off, Frank!" McGarrett demanded.

 

"Blane, enough," Pierson said without much conviction.

 

Adams indulged in a few more kicks to his injured victim, muttering invectives about cops before he moved back.

 

Heedless of Pierson's weapon, McGarrett rushed forward and knelt next to his friend. Williams was huddled on the floor, clutching his chest where he had been kicked. Blood was streaming from his nose, his lip and the corner of one eye.

 

"Danno?" He placed a gentle hand on his Williams' arm.

 

"Yeah?" Dan whispered, trying to catch his breath. "You okay, Steve?"

 

"Better than you, hothead," was the sharp response. He leaned very close and whispered, "Adams hates cops, Danno. Keep your head."

 

McGarrett was roughly pulled to his feet by an impatient Adams. Pierson ordered Williams to stand.

 

"You'll never get away with this," Williams warned with a slur as blood sprayed from his mouth. He slowly came to a shaky stance, keeping a respectful distance from Adams, who trained a weapon on him. "People know we're here. Give yourselves up now!" Anger infused Williams and he stared icily at the bank president.

 

Pierson also leveled his automatic at Dan. "I'm inventive, Williams. I'll explain your deaths."

 

Blane slid his weapon – one of the Police Special .38s, along McGarrett's jaw line. "We'll keep super cop," he revealed seductively. "We might need a hostage. And I've always wanted a cop of my own."

 

Williams stiffened, as if ready to pounce and McGarrett placed a restraining hand on his friend's shoulder. He wasn't sure how they were going to get out of this, but he wouldn't let his friend try any more impulsive and stupid stunts. His mind sped over possible escapes but so far he was coming up empty of ideas. All he could think of was to stall, as Williams had started, and maybe one of them could come up with a way out. At the very least it would keep them alive a little longer

 

“Frank, you know this is crazy,” he protested in another appeal to someone he once considered a decent man.  “We’re Five-0!  You can’t just get rid of us and expect to escape!”

 

“You’ve had it,” Williams breathed out in a vicious threat.

 

"Ah, the impulsiveness of youth," Pierson sighed derogatorily. "Keep a handle on your anger, Williams. Playing the part of a hero can lead to a very short life." He glanced at Blane, then back to Dan. "We wouldn't want you to die too soon."

 

Pierson's smile made McGarrett shiver. He noticed Danno had paled slightly at the threat. The detectives were completely at the mercy of these twisted men.

 

"Now take out your handcuffs, Dan," Pierson ordered.

 

Dan flatly refused.

 

Pierson turned the revolver toward McGarrett. He repeated the order. Visibly enraged, Dan looked to McGarrett, who gave a slight nod, after which Williams slowly obeyed.

 

McGarrett mentally raced to come up with another stall. He didn't like this. Moreover, he didn't like Dan's temper so close to the eruption point. Usually easy going, Williams could be dangerous to others and himself when pushed into a corner.

 

The younger detective was ordered to cuff McGarrett's wrists.

 

“This is nuts, Frank,” Williams warned again, appalled the command.

 

“Danny, you do as you are told,” Pierson snapped angrily.  “Or do you want more demonstrations on my target abilities?  You don’t want Steve to suffer unnecessarily, right?”

 

Seething, the younger detective looked to his boss.  Again, Steve gave a nod of assent. Seeing no obvious alternative Dan snarled a noise of contempt and protest, then complied. McGarrett felt a bit sick as the metal clicked with resounding finality. He kept his expression bland when he realized the cuffs were negligently loose. He brushed Danno's hand with the back of his to acknowledge he noted the trick.

 

Pierson leveled a cold glare at Williams. "I've always liked you, Danny, but I never knew you were quite so dangerous."

 

Williams’ fists clenched. Completely aware he was being taunted, he fought to control his temper. He hated the helplessness, the hazard of the dilemma, the animosity they faced, and forced himself to stay calm. Keeping his head was the only way to win.

 

Blane ran the barrel of the revolver along the back of Dan's neck. "Dangerous can be fun," he toyed quietly. He leaned close until his breath was hot on the back of Dan's ear. "Maybe I should try to tame you."  The barrel ran a track along his chin.

 

Incensed, Williams slapped the gun away, then instantly held up his hands in a show of surrender. His aching body could not take another pounding by the merciless criminal.  "Just keep your hands off!" he shouted, his anger and vulnerability getting the best of him.  The seductive taunting to Steve and him was nauseating and terrifying.  With Steve handcuffed, they were at the mercy of their captors and he tried not to think of exactly what that might mean before the vile criminals decided to kill them.  “Back off!”  Instantly aware antagonizing the armed enemy was a bad idea, he saw he had gone too far.

 

Adams' temper erupted and he shoved the revolver under Dan's chin until the detective was forced back against the glass, hardly able to breath from the pressure on his throat. Although painful, he found the violence easier to take than the other insinuating suggestions. Then he was body pressed against the glass and Adam's face smashed against his own. He felt queasy, sickened at the contact; he could smell the odor of liquor and a musky aftershave, see the hatred in the man's expression. Eye to eye, he suddenly understood this criminal wanted to destroy him as painfully as possible. In the captor’s hands, his life was meaningless.

 

Pierson came over and pulled on his friend's shoulder. "Sorry, Blane, we have a boat to catch." He glanced at Williams, then McGarrett. "We'll take you, Steve. You could be useful leverage." He glanced back to Dan. "Sorry, we don't need two hostages. Take Williams out back, Blane."

 

"No!" McGarrett shouted.

 

Williams felt his knees weaken. His execution was imminent. He also knew Steve's would not be far behind. These two would not require a live hostage for long. Once they were clear they would murder Steve too.

 

Pierson stepped closer, pressing his pistol to McGarrett's chest. "Sorry, Steve, you both just know too much."

 

"Think it over, Frank," McGarrett implored. "Killing Kailua was one thing. Killing two cops -- there's no where to hide from that, Frank. They'll find you and bring you back! Whatever it takes they will get you."

 

Blane pulled away from Williams. The man stepped over to stand close to Steve. "Really charged, McGarrett. I'm glad we're keeping you. Maybe for a long time.  You could be exciting."

 

Pierson pushed Adams away. "Enough teasing, Blane. Just get on with it!"

 

Adams sneered at the much shorter Williams. "Afraid I’ll go for a younger man, Frank? Don’t worry, you’re the one with the money. I was just going to have a little play before pleasure. Guess we don’t have time.”

 

Numb with a level of incredulity that any of this was really happening, McGarrett had to believe he could still talk them out of the insane idea of killing two cops!  Anger and desperation pooled in his tone as he barked out denials, argued to his former friend, Pierson, that this scenario was ridiculous.  There was nowhere for them to go!  They were trapped on a storm-encompassed island!  Injuring – killing – two cops was just not going to get them out of their predicament.  Surrender was the only option.

 

Blane smirked, amused and defiant of the authority.  With the weapon he gestured for Williams to move toward the door. Laughing at the detective, he quipped, “We're going for a walk outside. Let's go."

 

Williams glanced at McGarrett. There was just a flicker of expression on the younger man's face, but it was enough for McGarrett to read and interpret. His friend was not going meekly to the slaughter. He would not cooperate, but resist -- it was his nature to fight back against hopeless odds, sometimes even against the impossible. The encouraging memory of that nature, Steve felt, was that they often won against such overwhelming circumstances.  They HAD to win this time.  How?

 

“Frank!” he shouted in frustrated dread, “Come to your senses!”

 

Williams suddenly threw himself at Blane. The two catapulted over a sofa and onto the floor.

 

“Frank, you can’t let this happen!”  His fists ached from their tight balls of restrained anguish.  “Stop him!”

 

“Sorry, Steve, survival of the fittest.”

 

McGarrett made a move forward, but was stopped by Pierson's pistol in his face. Self-preservation gave him pause.  What good would it do Danno if he was shot down right now?  The miserable grunts from his officer threw him into action, regardless of the consequences to his own life.  He dodged out of the direct line of the barrel and pushed at Pierson.

 

In all happened at once it seemed, in a blur of time and terror.  Williams fought intently, with passion and energy, and Blane countered with brute force. After a wild struggle, which carried them through the room, Williams was shoved into the glass door already hit by a bullet, cracked from the force.

 

McGarrett wrestled to free his hands from the cuffs as he abruptly threw his weight onto Pierson, pinning the bank president to the side wall.

 

Blane raised his pistol, firing two shots at Williams. The impact threw the detective through the sliding glass door and outside onto the deck.

 

"Danno!" McGarrett screamed, momentarily losing his momentum and advantage against Pierson.

 

McGarrett could hardly breath; his heart pounded wildly against his chest and his lungs constricted with panic. Williams' rain-soaked body lay unmoving on the deck. Too shocked to think, McGarrett yanked a hand free of the cuffs and took Pierson by the throat.  Pierson brought the gun up between them and fired.

 

 

*****

 

Cold water splashed on his cheek brought McGarrett to consciousness. A throbbing, agonizing pain along the side of his head came next to his awareness and he reached up to touch the soreness. Warm wetness there. His eyes snapped open, horror flooding his emotional plane before the recollections could clearly surface.

 

He was staring at a wall, which immediately gave him a reference of his place and a distinct memory of how he had landed down on the floor of Frank Pierson's house. Fight. Pierson. Gunshot. The ache on the side of his head was from a wound. He drew his fingers in front of his eyes and saw them smeared with blood; touched his cheek, which was dripping with water. He could move no further. A weight was pressing against his neck.

 

Exhausted, head spinning and throbbing in agony, for a moment longer he would lay there, until he could put more of the puzzle together. Was he still in danger? What happ-- Danno! Danno had been shot! McGarrett raised his head, all pain and analytical assessment shelved in the panic to know what had happened to his friend.

 

The weight fell from his neck and he twisted around. He was startled to see Williams, dripping wet, lying face down on the floor beside him.

 

Lifting up, Steve felt the nausea rise as his head spun into space. Dazed, he closed his eyes and reached out for a solid reference. The soggy jacket under his grip assured him he was anchored to Williams even though his mind told him his head was no longer attached and floating in the atmosphere.

 

Gulping down the grip of vertigo, he tentatively whispered, "Danno?” Voice thin and hoarse, he cleared his throat again and more firmly commanded, "Danno!"

 

Panic overcoming his own physical deficiencies, he opened his eyes and desperately willed his friend to respond. Shaking the limp arm in his grasp, he repeated his demand over and over again as he glanced over his friend to absorb his condition.

 

Lids slowly opened. Williams' not-quite-coherent, pain-filled eyes stared at him. Slivers of glass and blood matted Williams' thick hair. A red stain was spreading from beneath his stomach.

 

McGarrett's own injuries were shoved into the back of his thoughts.  "How bad are you hurt, Danno?” He grabbed onto Williams' shoulder to turn him over, but his hand was pushed away.

 

Dan slightly shook his head. "Never mind. Call for help."

 

The denial scared McGarrett. To cope with his fear he complied with the practical request. Get an ambulance on the way, then deal with emergency treatment, he told himself.

 

Awkwardly stumbling to his feet, he unsteadily staggered around the living room in search of the phone, vaguely aware through dazed alarm that his procedures were backwards. Absentmindedly, he noticed the shattered glass door and the weaving trail of blood leading from the rain pelted wooden deck to Williams. The obvious track of anguished movement sickened him. Forcing himself to continue with the quest, he finally located a phone in the den. No dial tone. He unevenly managed to shuffle to the kitchen, using walls and furniture to support his wobbly gait. Finally he reached the wall extension. Dead. Either the storm had taken out the phones, or Pierson had disconnected them before he left.

 

An automatic sneer rippled on McGarrett's lips as he thought of the bank president. Pierson had betrayed him, murdered and then advanced to -- he stopped himself short of thinking 'cop killing' -- not yet.

 

Danno. Never losing the pressing dread inside, he felt it was time to give up on the call for help angle. Returning to his initial focus, he made his way back to check on Dan, who was too still, his face pallid, lips colorless, but at least breathing.

 

Afraid he would not get up again if he collapsed near his friend, McGarrett lurched his way to the front entrance. Opening the heavy door, the rush of wet bullets of lashing rain hit him with a brisk, cool whip of storm-kissed draught. Leaning on the jam he surveyed the muddy yard pooled with puddles, curtained with the gray beads of heavy rain. The Five-0 sedan was gone! Police radio -- their best, most immediate chance for contact with the outside world – stolen!. Damn!

 

Reeling with another wave of vertigo and disappointment, he took a moment to reassess the predicament. Dread filtering in again that Danno desperately needed help, he staggered into the rain and quickly checked the Jaguar interior to find there was no phone or CB inside.

 

Frustration and fear crept back into his mind like recurring, turbulent waves upon the shore and he pushed them away with activity, staving off the emotions for the moment. He trudged back to the house and searched every room on the ground floor for remote phones or CB's. None. During his hunt, however, he had the presence of mind to pick up a first aid kit from the garage. He also found a cold pack for his head to treat the bleeding and what was -- probably -- a slight concussion -- caused by the non-serious but painful bullet crease along the side of his temple. It only hurt when he thought about it, and with everything else on his mind, that wasn't often. Or when he moved, but he was learning to ignore that. Could not help but ignore that, because with each pace of unfruitful search for communications equipment, he became more and more desperate, acknowledging that Danno was seriously wounded with no medical aid quickly available.

 

As he tracked past the picturesque, panoramic windows, he noted the rain had decreased slightly on this side. The stormy clouds were still low, black, tumultuous and thick in the mountain cleft where the house was situated. His watch read only a bit after seven, but the accentuated darkness outside from the tempest, the emotional desperation, made it seem like sometime past twilight.

 

Heart in throat, he returned to the still form on the floor, taking a moment to steady himself after he sank to the ground -- watching -- not touching -- searching for a sign that the injured officer was still alive. Yes, the gentle, uneven rise and fall of the cheek was the only clue Danno was still with him.

 

"Danno?" he called quietly as he knelt by his friend. He placed a hand on Williams' shoulder and started to turn him over.

 

"No," Williams weakly protested.

 

McGarrett glanced at the trail of blood through the room. It must have been agonizing for the younger detective to make it the dozen feet from the deck. No wonder Williams didn't feel like more pain.

 

"That was a hell of a trip to get to me, bruddah," he said quietly, his hand still holding onto Dan.

 

"Had to make sure you were alive."

 

McGarrett shuddered; awed by his friend's sacrifice -- love. Pierson and Adams were the bottom sludge of humanity; amoral and without conscience. It disgusted him to think that those animals had already murdered one good man and had nearly taken the life of another; a cop, his friend. Steve blinked back the burning at the backs of his eyes. With a shaky hand he wiped his face and pushed away his fractured emotions. He tried to focus his mind on keeping his friend alive.

 

"Danno --"

 

"Don't move -- holding on."

 

Through his splintered concentration, McGarrett puzzled the comments, blaming Danno's traumatic shock and loss of blood as the reason for miscommunication. When he tried again to move Williams, the younger man shook his head.

 

"No. Pressure. Wound."

 

Pressure. Wound.

 

It knit together slowly, but when comprehension came, Steve shivered with profound fear and sorrow. Danno was pressing his wound so he wouldn't bleed out? That had to be it. McGarrett gently laid a hand on his shoulder.

 

"It's okay, Danno. I'll help. I have to get you turned over and check this out.” Throat dry, he swallowed, lips trembling against his arid tongue. "It's okay."

 

Again, Williams refused, but the denial was weak and barely audible.

 

Steve ignored the previous resistance and warned Williams he was about to be moved. McGarrett carefully eased the injured officer onto his back. Steve drew in a sharp breath. Blood completely soaked Williams' shirt and jacket. A tear to the side of the stomach indicated the entry wound. Initially, he was grateful for Blane's poor marksmanship. It looked bad enough, though, and again McGarrett forced unwanted, dire thoughts from his mind.

 

'Don't think about the internal rending of tissue and nerves, the possibility of organ damage --'

 

He slowly tore away the material and found a nasty entry wound. He quickly scanned the logical places, but found no exit wound. Bullet was still inside. Good and bad. He had no idea where it could be lodged, but at least they didn't have to deal with two rips -- the exit always being the worst from bullet damage. With luck, the bullet had missed vital organs. Only Danno could bleed out before they could reach help. With a towel, McGarrett carefully cleaned away some of the blood.

 

"Oww," Williams gasped sharply.

 

"Sorry. Hold on -- I'm going to wrap you up to stop the bleeding."

 

Williams gave a short nod of understanding.

 

McGarrett carefully cleaned the wounds, removing pieces of glass and fashioned the best pressure bandage he could. When done, he considered the first aid a fair piece of work. Then he cleaned some minor head and back abrasions of glass and patched them. Hopefully the elemental aid would keep Dan from bleeding to death.

 

Firmly he squeezed Dan's arm. "Still with me?"

 

Williams nodded and McGarrett noted Dan was biting his lower lip. He was shaking and his complexion was grayish-white. Steve looked in the box for pain-killers, but there was no medication.

 

"Hang on, Danno," he implored quietly. He could find nothing else to say and the inadequacy of dealing with the crisis added to his already high level of frustration. He patted his friend's shoulder. "I'm going to find something to keep you warm." He returned with a few light blankets and mild pain relief pills, forcing several into Williams' mouth.

 

"Ugh." Dan made a face of displeasure. "You're not going to ask me to move, are you?" His speech was slow and gasping from pain and shock.

 

"Don't do anything. I'll take care of it."

 

"Can't we just wait for the ambulance?"

 

"No, I want you dry." McGarrett deftly avoided the question of outside aid.

 

"Just don't move me."

 

In an attempt to comply with the wounded officer's request, McGarrett carefully stripped off what he could of Williams' soaked jacket and shirt and tucked the blanket over his friend so Williams was wrapped on all sides. He was disturbed to see blood was already spotting the bandages.

 

The wind blowing through the splintered glass door presented a chilling whip of swirling rain – which had started again in torrential proportions -- and gusting draughts.

 

'No wonder Danno's shivering,' he thought grimly, shivering.

 

They couldn't stay in this exposed room any longer. The weather was worsening and the open door offered no protection against the wet, violent storm. He would have to tell his friend the truth, along with the only solution McGarrett could supply.

 

"We're going to have to move you to the car, Danno. The phones are out so we'll have to drive you to the hospital."

 

The blue eyes, which had blurred from distraction, now sharpened and pinpointed McGarrett with a coherent look. "Radio?"

 

"Pierson took the Mercury. We'll have to use his Jag."

 

Williams nodded in understanding. "At least we'll go in style."

 

"Some consolation," was McGarrett's bitter retort. He thought of the uselessness of Pierson's life, of the wasteful descent into crime, of Kailua's death. Lastly, of Williams' injury, which was more disturbing than all the other infractions of the deceptive criminal's offenses. "I'm sorry about this, Danno."

 

Williams shook his head slightly. "My fault. Too impulsive."

 

"Yeah," McGarrett agreed ruefully. Soberly, he added, "Just trying to save our lives."

 

"My life," Williams corrected with a slight twitch of humor on his mouth. "Your virtue."

 

"That's not funny," McGarrett responded seriously. He shook his head, perplexed and angry; thoughts blurred by shock. "Guess it would take a psychiatrist to figure out Frank and his friend."

 

McGarrett found he did not need to analyze the motivations too carefully. No matter what method, or what happened beforehand, both of the Five-0 officers were marked for death the minute they had stumbled upon the about-to-flee Pierson. True, the slimy threats from Adams had added an element of fear that neither officer had ever dealt with before, but there was something even more elemental, basic, in the tragic events. Danno had acted impulsively, instinctively, to save Steve's -- their -- lives. No matter what the circumstances McGarrett would have done the same. It was part of their make-up as Five-0 men, as friends.

 

"Now, it's going to hurt when I move you. Brace yourself." He shifted to Williams' left side. "Can you stand?"

 

Teeth gritted, Williams offered a curt nod. McGarrett held onto his friend as he brought them to their feet and promptly kept moving, then swaying dangerously close to the floor. Gripping Williams with one arm he reached out for the wall with his other hand and managed to break the some of the fall as they crashed into the solid wood. Both men gasped and Williams sagged, moaning in pain, sliding out of his grip. McGarrett managed to snag him back under the arms and agonizingly lift him to incline against his chest, while he leaned his back on the wall. Although it felt like they were in an earthquake, he knew they were not really moving. The only direction for either of them in this condition was down, and he was absolutely positive they were not back on the floor. Yet. Sure . . . . yes… certain he was still standing. Yes, standing, but that was only a very good guess since his eyes were closed to dissuade himself from vomiting from the returned faintness and vertigo.

 

When he felt he could open his eyes again, he did, and first checked Williams' condition. The officer in his arms was not moving. Breathing, yes, moving, no. Secondly, he checked the bandage to make sure it was still in place. Dismayed, he noted the white towel was spotted with more red stains.

 

"Let's get going," he tersely ordered, the urgency of the situation seeping in to overcome any trepidation about their physical abilities to even walk. They had to get to the car and get out of here. "Come on, we can do it."

 

Without waiting for an answer, Steve took a step, Dan following his lead. On the next step Williams' legs gave out and he nearly fell to the ground. Catching him again, McGarrett used one arm to steady them on the wall and kept the other locked around Dan's chest.

 

"Never mind."

 

McGarrett slowly struggled through the house, dragging/carrying his friend to the door where both of them leaned with great relief.  Catching his breath, Steve surveyed the sloshy, dirt driveway, sure to be slippery and suctioned with goopy mud. He glanced at the Jaguar -- isolated and clear of any structure that would offer him support. Could he make it to the car without surrendering his burden to the arms of gravity? Did he have the strength himself to reach their only way out without further hurting his damaged friend? There was no choice, he had to try.

 

Muttering a warning, an encouragement, he took a step. The saturated dirt slipped under his shoe and he compensated with bending his knee and placing the other foot into the dirt so he would at least be on an even keel. When his head stopped spinning he took a breath and went for the real test -- supporting Williams on the slick soil. Taking on his friend's weight, he dragged him along and was relieved Dan offered a kind of counter balance to the awkward flight. Aching and nearly breathless, he made it to the car and leaned them there for a moment.

 

One last effort and they were home free, he told himself. Get them both into the car. Williams was carefully folded into the small passenger seat of the English sports car. Then McGarrett bent into the small coup, wondering how the tall Frank Pierson found this car comfortable. Realizing he had no key, he worked under the dash – fighting dizziness – further pelted by the rain as most of his body remained outside -- to hot wire the car.

 

"Never knew you could do that," Dan quipped as the engine roared to life.

 

"Part of my questionable upbringing."

 

Rain increasing in intensity again, the sun dipped down beyond the mountains, McGarrett leaned back against the seat and took a moment to steady his vision. He was going to be driving this little sports car in the dark on a winding dirt road slippery with lashing rain. Under normal circumstances this would be considered dangerous.  Today it was insanity born of necessity.  No matter the risk, however, he was certain he could do anything required to get his friend to safety.

 

They traversed the narrow, dicey dirt road with slow caution. The headlights, curtained by pelting rain, did little to illuminate the winding path hedged on both sides with thick forest. The mud was slick and the tires of the car often slipped from lack of traction. McGarrett's hands ached from the death-grip he had on the steering wheel. Frequently, he glanced over to check on Williams, but refrained from trying to converse. He had to concentrate on driving and Danno needed to rest.

 

The headlights caught something at the bottom of the hill-slope; it looked like a moving floor of mud. McGarrett slammed on the brakes. The Jag slid wildly on the slimy path, turning sideways as it glided downhill. Steve twisted the wheel and sent the car into the trees with a jarring crash. The Jaguar rocked from the impact. Above his heavy breathing, McGarrett could hear the rush of a nearby torrent that sounded like a raging river.

 

Blinking his eyes, he steadied his vision and roiling brain before he gave a sideways glance at his friend. "Danno, you okay?"

 

Williams face was screwed tightly with pain. He nodded his head but his expression and trembling shoulders said differently. He was wedged firmly against the door. For a moment McGarrett's hand hovered above Dan's shoulder, hesitant to cause the wounded detective more pain. Knowing it was best in the long run, McGarrett carefully eased his friend into what he hoped would be a more comfortable position.

 

"Hold on. I'm going to check the damage."

 

Steve cautiously stepped onto the muddy path and almost lost his footing. He grabbed onto the car, moaning against the vertigo that again threatened. Then he edged his way to where the hood was crumpled into the trees. The damage didn't look too bad and he was hopeful the Jag would run long enough to get them out of there. The dim reflection of the headlights glittered on the rushing river of water only a few feet from the Jag's front end. It had been a near miss and he released a shaky sigh. He returned to the car and reported their predicament to Williams.

 

"Can we go through?" Dan wondered. He made an effort to sit up. He leaned his head against the seat, eyes closed, voice low. "Pierson must have made it."

 

"We can chance it," McGarrett said noncommittally. "If the car gets stuck we're in big pilikia. It's a fast moving river." After a moment of thought he concluded, "I'll go check the depth."

 

He was half way out the door when Williams grabbed his arm.  "Careful."

 

"Always."

 

He fished a flashlight out of the trunk and stood for a moment studying the water whipping past his feet. By holding onto a nearby branch, McGarrett leaned down close to the water and gauged the speed of the stream, which he judged to be treacherously fast. There was no way to estimate the depth, but he guessed crossing the river, which was as wide as about three car lengths, was too risky. Disturbed at this latest nasty development, he slowly trudged back to the car.

 

Fighting to keep his voice level and neutral, disguising the crashing disappointment he felt, Steve revealed his theory. The stream was too dangerous to cross. In all likelihood the fast water had eroded the narrow road. Trying to drive through it might get them stuck. Worse, it could sweep them off the hill and crush them inside a wall of mud. No, he could not take the chance of leading Danno into an even more desperate situation. At least if they returned to the house they were alive and on solid ground.

 

Danno did little more than moan an assent that he approved of the plan. With that weak agreement, Steve started the engine. He said a silent prayer to whoever his amakua, guardian spirit, might be, when he backed the Jaguar out of the trees. The car crunched through the branches, sliding and fishtailing as he backed uphill, but thankfully never strayed off the muddy road.

 

"As if it's not bad enough driving with you going forward," Williams coughed, leaning his head against the window, eyes closed.

 

"I never knew my driving made you so nervous," was Steve's dry retort.

 

Williams surrendered another clogged cough. McGarrett worriedly studied him, then concentrated back on the road. After long, agonizing minutes, they reached a wide turn in the path. McGarrett thought for a moment, pondering again if this was the right direction, then carefully spun the car around and headed back up to the house. He still reasoned that remaining in comfort and certain shelter was better than risking the crossing over the turbulent river. With luck, he could provide aid to Williams until they could reach help, or help could come find them. Certainly by tomorrow they would be missed and a search would be undertaken. The thoughts were more hopeful than confident, but McGarrett felt he was taking the best – the only reasonable – action possible.

 

When they arrived at the house, McGarrett shuffled Williams out of the car and encouraged him to walk. Feeling a little better himself, he mostly carried Dan to the door. The house was dark and after trying the switches, he concluded the power was out. In the dark, he stumbled to the stairs, opting to go up to where the rain and cold were diminished and the rooms dry.

 

The first bedroom was large, comfortable and protected from the wind whipping in from the broken sliding door on the ground floor. With huge plate glass windows looking onto the mountains, the room provided a scenic splendor not appreciated right now.  More importantly it served as a warm haven.

 

McGarrett placed Williams on the bed and removed the soaked, mud-caked blanket. He drew in a sharp breath when he saw the original bandages were sopping with blood. Dan was holding on to his side, blood slowly seeping from between his fingers.

 

"Why didn't you say something," he snapped, instantly regretting the anger which was not really directed at his friend.

 

Wearily, Williams just shook his head. "What's the use?"

 

For once McGarrett did not have an answer, not even a bitter one.

 

The semi-conscious officer slowly shook his head. "Doesn't matter."

 

McGarrett bit back a caustic retort. Better to ignore Danno's defeatist self-digs than to rise to them. Without comment he made his way back to the Jag and retrieved the flashlight and an emergency kit. He didn't know what good a tool kit might do, but he felt it would be wise to be prepared. When he returned, unsteady and a little out of breath from the excursion, he knelt down at the side of the bed. For a moment McGarrett studied his pale, exhausted friend, finally having to look away.

 

"Storm front back?"

 

"Yeah," was McGarrett's terse, angry response.

 

"No air rescue," Dan said after a time.

 

McGarrett stared out the window. Under his breath he muttered curses at the abominable weather. Danno was right. No helicopter could search for them in this storm. He turned to offer some empty phrases of encouragement, but the words knotted in his throat, drowned by the helpless fear rising in his heart.

 

McGarrett gathered up the first aid material and went about re-bandaging the bullet wounds. He was depressed that there was nothing else he could do but prepare a dressing to slow the flow of blood. There seemed no way to stop the hemorrhaging with simple, first aid measures. Agonizingly, he knew his friend would bleed to death if he did not find a way out of this isolation and find it soon.

 

Clearing away the wrappings, he sat on the floor, leaning back against the mattress. It was maddening to realize he was not in control of anything; not his life, not Danno's. Bad weather, bad luck and his own miscalculations had combined to create a deadly situation which he was unable to change. Mentally, he refused to give up, but realistically he was out of options to change Fate.

 

Something brushed against his head. He turned to see Williams watching him with half-open eyes. Steve swallowed hard; his friend was fading from life and there was nothing he could do to stop the descent.

 

"Mahalo."

 

"For what?" McGarrett asked, his throat tight.

 

Dan’s eyes closed. "Trying," he whispered.

 

What could he say to that?  Trying had better be good enough this time, Danno, he agonized.

 

“Steve . . . . in case I don’t make it . . . .”

 

“You’re going to make it!” he insisted with violently, his voice shaking.  “You will make it, Danno!  I promise you that!”

 

“In case –“

 

“You will,” he interrupted, not letting the dire possibilities to be voiced.  “I don’t want you to even think about anything else!  You’re getting out of this!  I promise!”

 

The wounded officer gently shook his head, drifting away to unconsciousness before he could refute the adamant vow. 

 

McGarrett placed a hand on Williams' neck. There was still weak pulse there. He kept the trembling fingers in place as he silently studied his friend who was starting to moan and shiver with pain. McGarrett covered Williams with a clean blanket, and then settled nearby, keeping an arm on Dan's trembling shoulder.

 

McGarrett had spent many nights in much more unpleasant physical conditions than this, particularly during his captivity in a POW camp in Korea. Those comparisons could not diminish the ache he felt now.  This was a new kind of desolation and torture; isolated from help, trapped with his dying friend.

 

Night-blurred, numb hours were fraught with unfruitful dozing connected to jumpy, startled awakenings for McGarrett. He wasn't sure if the reactions came from him, or from his companion. It was tangled, strained emotions that played on his nerves more than anything else. In those dark hours, fear loomed as the largest monster of his nightmares. Fear of losing Danno. The imminent threat to Dan's life was a constant heart-straining agony. Whereas now Danno was more or less dependent on him to lead them from this mess, he was dependent on Danno to keep him -- his life and soul -- together and sane.

 

Never had Steve faced such desolation as the black, lonely hours of semi-wakefulness when he wondered if he could keep his friend alive. This had become more than just the two of them surviving against the elements, the wounds. McGarrett discovered more threats in the ethereal realm of the psyche than in the tangible, storm-ravaged world around them. He was forced to confront fears and soul-searching questions ignored in the normal, workaday world. Here, pinned down by the intensity of the crisis, Steve had to examine his own life and the position -- the central, core role in his life -- played by Williams.

 

He was surprised at the revelations surfacing; things he had always known or at least suspected, yet never consciously acknowledged. There had never been a need to recognize those feelings, because until now he had never doubted in his heart there would be a future without their friendship. Despite all of the career dangers, the serious wounds and close calls, he believed there was always a tomorrow. In the black depression of the night's introspection, he was forced to admit that Danno might not live to see another sunrise.

 

Another stabbing wound in the back of Steve's mind was the acknowledgment that Dan's life was imperiled because he had saved McGarrett. At this moment he could wish Williams less honorable, less conscientious, a less devoted friend. In truth, he would have made any compromise to keep him alive.

 

The tint of purple light glowing above the mountains brought the promise of hope to the unraveled nerves of the head of Five-0. For the first time he noticed the silence outside. The storm front had passed and with it their worst moments, he hoped. With daylight there would be a chance for search parties to find them, or perhaps for him to find an alternate route out of the wilderness.

 

Williams had spent the night shivering and occasionally muttering incoherent words and phrases. He had derived little benefit from the ill-rest, bringing his reserves down to a desperate low. Some time before dawn, McGarrett had sat up with him, trying to control the trembling.

 

As gently as Steve could, he disengaged his secure hold of Williams. More light spread across the sky, and McGarrett was heartsick to see his makeshift bandage had done little good for plugging the bleeding wound. The blood crusting the strips of gauze was stained across Williams’ torso.

 

The check up disturbed Williams enough to bring him out of his light sleep. For a moment he was startled and disoriented. McGarrett firmly held onto his shoulders until he regained full wakefulness.  "It's okay, Danno. Don't move."

 

McGarrett's voice was firm and steady, forcing a calm into the tone.  Inside, his emotions trembled in anguish. He was afraid too abrupt a movement would cause the precariously bound injuries to bleed more. For a moment, Dan's blue eyes were clouded with confusion. Steve maintained his tight grip until he saw the eyes clear to recognition and recall, feel the shoulders under his hands relax. Williams reached over to feel his side, but McGarrett stopped him.

 

Williams licked his lips. "Still bleeding?" McGarrett gave a curt nod of affirmation. Dan accepted the bad news with a brief nod of his own. "Didn't think I'd wake up at all."

 

McGarrett refrained from saying he had harbored the same fear. Nor did he mention that the bleakness of their situation had not changed.  "You're going to make it," was all McGarrett to think to say. Blind reassurance; what they both doubted, yet both needed to hear and believe.

 

If the reality of their plight depressed the younger detective it did not show on his usually expressive face. Not much of a surprise. Dan was a trooper. He recognized the desperate conditions and did not dwell on the negative or complain or rail against the injustice of life. He assessed the situation and accepted whatever steps were necessary to get them, literally, out of the woods.  More than ever Steve needed to lean on that inimitable courage of Williams'; especially when he was so close to losing the one person who gave so much stability and meaning to his very existence.

 

"Need to get out," Dan stated simply. "I'm dying for a drink."

 

McGarrett grinned and squeezed Williams' arm. The humor, despite its quirky gallows nature, was typical and it told the head of Five-0 that his friend was still with him mentally.

 

Fatigued, Dan closed his eyes. 

 

“I’m going to get you out of here,” McGarrett vowed fervently.

 

Outside a rumbling sound echoed through the mountains. At first the edge of McGarrett's consciousness identified it as another storm front. Moments later, he realized it was a helicopter. He raced to the window and scanned the sky. There was no sign of the chopper, but the sound was coming closer.  How to alert them?  Had Frank taken their weapons?  Did he have time to search the house – he had not even thought of that!  Signal!  What to use . . . . He grabbed for the emergency kit and retrieved two road flares from the box, then raced downstairs and into the yard. The flares were placed at strategic points in the driveway.

 

McGarrett waited, the chopper coming ever closer. When he sighted the helicopter he was elated, then almost instantly panicked when he realized the rescue team would never see the small flares from so far away. The chopper was flying along the mountain rim almost circling around the house, but flying away, not toward them.  Desperate, he seized the flares and wildly waved them around.  No use, the chopper was not close enough!

 

McGarrett ran back upstairs and did a fast search of the living room, finally retrieving a .38 from under a chair.  In a last ditch effort, he ran outside again and fired several shots into the air. No change. The chopper was flying in the wrong direction!   What could he do?  He needed something they could see . . . . With rash impulse he swung around and fired the remaining bullets into the Jag's gas tank. The car exploded in a blinding flash of fire. McGarrett was no longer looking at the car, but at the helicopter. He didn't breathe until he saw the chopper make a slow turn in their direction. He would thank Pierson for the use of the car -- if he let the slime live when they met again.

 

He ran back upstairs to check on his friend. Williams' eyes were open. There was very little energy left in the detective. McGarrett knelt down next to him.

 

"Thunder?"

 

"No." McGarrett gave a small smile. "Storm's over, Danno. We're getting out of here."

 

 

*****

 

 

“Take it easy, Steve! Let the doc take a look at your head!” Ben Kokua implored his boss with a gentle grab to the distraught man’s shoulder.

 

McGarrett recoiled angrily at the touch, and ignored the plea. Instead, he remained focused on the target of his frustration. “I don’t understand, Doc! The bullet needs to be removed!”

 

“Thank you, Doctor McGarrett, for your expert opinion,” William Hansen, the chief of surgery at Castle Memorial Hospital, raised his voice marginally. The slender, graying man stood there in green hospital scrubs, with his surgical mask still tied loosely around his neck.

 

The two Five-0 men had been flown in earlier that morning. The Coast Guard chopper which spotted them was searching for anyone who might have been stranded due to the storm, and it was only through McGarrett’s desperate – and expensive – Jaguar-flare that they were found before Williams died of shock or blood loss.

 

Hansen happened to be the surgeon on call and immediately rushed the wounded detective into surgery. He was able to do an emergency repair job on the primary source of bleeding, but realized in short order that Dan was too weak to last through the exploratory procedure which would be necessary to locate the bullet. It was this news that so upset the head of Five-0, who was impatient to be certain that his friend would recover. It was obvious to his men and the hospital staff that the detective himself needed to be treated for a head injury, but – true to form – he’d refused to be examined. Instead, he hovered near the waiting room, leaving only to spend a few minutes in the men’s room cleaning up.

 

Now, McGarrett stood there incensed that the medical man was not yet prepared to pronounce Williams repaired and ready to begin healing. Dismissing the sarcastic barb, with exasperation, he started to counter, “But, Doc—”

 

Hansen abruptly cut in. “Steve, listen to me! Now that I’ve got that artery stitched up, he’ll keep more of what we’re transfusing into him. I want to give him a few hours to stabilize before I put him under again. That’s his best chance!”

 

CHANCE… The word reverberated in McGarrett’s head as dizziness washed over him for the umpteenth time. Chin, Ben, and Hansen all stepped forward to grab and guide him to the nearest chair.

 

“A chance, Doc… what kind of chance?” Steve clutched the physician’s arm as he settled into the seat. At that moment, the word did not bode well for Danno.

 

“He made it through the first round, and he’s holding his own in post-op. You’ve got to trust that we’re doing everything we can,” the physician intoned gently, as his bushy eye brows arched for emphasis. “Now, if you want to be conscious when Danny comes around, I’d suggest you let me take a look you!”

 

“I’ll handle this one, Bill – you go take care of Danny.” The familiar voice somehow infused McGarrett with a measure of comfort even before he could put a name to it.  Doctor Bergman, the state’s chief medical examiner and the official Five-0 physician, strode up.

 

The surgeon rose from his stooped-over position and gratefully greeted his colleague. “Niles… Sorry to call you back from your Maui golf date.”

 

Attired in a gray and white aloha shirt, Bergman dismissed the apology with a wave of his hand. “Don’t worry about it – the course was too damp from the rain. I would have ended up sitting in the hotel bar for another day with a bunch of dermatologists from Toledo.”

 

Relieved to have the recalcitrant detective taken from his care, Hansen offered a knowing grin as he turned to leave. “I’ll update you in a bit, Steve!”

 

McGarrett nodded glumly and started to rub his temple, but grimaced in pain as his fingers lit on a particularly tender area.

 

The medical examiner took the seat next to his patient as he pulled his glasses from his shirt pocket and set them on his nose. His face twisted in concentration as he studied the bloody crease on McGarrett’s temple. “How do you feel, Steve?”

 

“I have a headache.”

 

“And…” Bergman pressed benignly.

 

The head of Five-0 sighed. “And I’m a little dizzy.”

 

“How long as it been since this happened?”

 

It all seemed like another lifetime ago.  The memories were sharp even in his tired and dazed state:  The unsuspected threat from a once friendly ally.  Frank’s betrayal and deadly alliance.  The gunshot, Danno flying through the glass . . . .

 

“I… I, uh… what…” McGarrett frowned as he tried to reconstruct a timeline and do the math. He gave up in short order and offered up what he knew to be true. “It happened yesterday… late afternoon.”

 

The doctor stopped his examination and straightened. “I thought this happened this morning?”

 

Chin Ho Kelly, who’d been listening with quiet concern, took a step forward and outlined the story. Steve did not object as the interlude from interrogation allowed him to dwell for a minute his friend’s condition. Danno was better off than he’d been at daybreak. A gunshot wound to the stomach was serious any way you looked at it. Blood loss… damage to vital organs… shock… So much could cause death…

 

“Steve… Are you with me?”

 

The detective was wrenched from his pondering as it sank in that he was being addressed. He looked up and focused on the concerned expression of his doctor. “Yeah, Doc… I was just thinking about Danno.”

 

The doctor grunted and stood. “I suspect you have a mild concussion – I’m going to take some x-rays just to be sure there’s nothing else but exhaustion going on. How’s about if I get you a bed down the hall from Danny? That way, you can catch a few Z’s.”

 

Steve nodded tiredly. With dejection, he realized there was nothing else to be done at the moment.

 

 

*****

 

Steve…

           Steve…

                    Steve…

 

“Steve, can you hear me?”

 

McGarrett’s eyes snapped open and he started to sit up, but moved too rapidly for his mending head. He gasped and clenched his eyes shut as he reclined himself delicately back onto the bed.

 

“Easy, Steve, everything’s okay.” It was the raspy voice of Doc Bergman, and the reassuring words allowed the detective to reflect for a few moments on his circumstance before he opened his eyes again to look at the figure standing at his bedside.

 

Before he spoke he slowly looked around the room. Shadows from the street lights edged in through the canted blinds. Alarm set in once again, but he took care to sit up slowly as he spoke. “It’s night! Doc, what’s been going on?”

 

With a tired smile, the doctor explained. “Sleep is what’s been going on. You’ve been out about twelve hours.”

 

“TWELVE HOURS? Danno! What about Danno?” Near panic tinged the detective’s hoarse, sleep-heavy voice.

 

“That’s why I’m waking you. They’re getting ready to take him back into surgery. Hansen wanted to wait until tomorrow, but after studying the results of the CAT scan, he’s afraid it’s too close to a major branch of the left common iliac artery. If it were to shift, Danny could start hemorrhaging again.”

 

“I was hoping to talk to him before he went in again,” McGarrett admitted quietly.

 

“Funny you should mention that, Steve,” the medical examiner grinned. “He wants to talk to you too.”

 

Surprise and then exhilaration nearly exploded from the man. “He’s awake?”

 

Bergman nodded slightly as he cautioned, “Yeah, but I’m not sure how lucid he is.”

 

“Let’s go!”

 

McGarrett slipped out of the bed and noticed the wheelchair at the foot of the bed, aimed in his direction. He opened his mouth to object, but the doctor quickly squelched any notion that his patient would go anywhere unless he rode. Not wanting to waste valuable time arguing, he slipped into the chair and allowed himself to be conveyed down the hallway to the post-op ICU, where Dan had been since he’d come out of the operating room that morning.

 

The beeps and clicks in the intensive care unit gave McGarrett the sense that he was entering a scene from a science fiction movie. He pushed the very disconcerting sensation aside as he caught sight of the prone form of his friend in the first bed. McGarrett stopped the progress of the wheelchair with his hand and glanced up at his physician chauffer, who allowed his patient to rise unassisted and plod, with something bordering on trepidation, towards the critically ill man on the gurney.

 

He stood quietly and studied the pale face. Williams’ eyes were closed and his hair was covered by a surgical cap. Several small nicks and scratches dotted Dan’s face. Anyone who didn’t know that his friend had been thrown through a plate-glass window, and then crawled on his stomach through a thousand shards of glass to reach his boss might suspect that the prone form was especially clumsy with a razor.

 

McGarrett brought his hand up and placed it on Williams’ arm. The sensation apparently startled the patient, whose eyes opened – not all the way -- but enough to see who stood nearby.

 

It took several moments for Dan to focus on the smiling countenance of the man at his bedside. He slowly offered a weak smile. “Steve… I was… worried… ‘bout you.”

 

McGarrett could feel himself choking up at the thought that his critically ill friend was spending any energy on concern for his well-being. He hoped his voice didn’t sound emotional, but suspected otherwise. “Danno… don’t worry about anything. The docs got that bleeder under control, but they’re gonna have to go back in and snag that bullet here in a few minutes.”

 

Dan could barely keep his eyes open, but he nodded almost imperceptibly as he acknowledged the information. “Yeah… I heard… that’s why I need… to tell… you.” He stopped for a few moments and closed his eyes as he grimaced in pain.

 

The head of Five-0 squeezed his friend’s arm gently in commiseration. He would’ve done anything to be able to alleviate Williams’ suffering at that moment, but the wave of discomfort seemed to subside enough for Dan to inhale slowly and reopen his eyes. It was very apparent that he was determined to continue.

 

“Save your strength, Danno. Tell me after this over. I’ll be waiting.” McGarrett commanded gently.

 

“No… now… jus… just in case…” Their eyes met, and Steve knew that Dan thought he might not make it through the next round of surgery.

 

There was a quiet desperation in Williams’ expression, and, while McGarrett wanted to refute the possibility that his friend would die on the operating table, he could not. Their friendship was based on honesty and mutual trust. If the unthinkable happened, and Steve had prevented Danno from voicing his final message, McGarrett knew that he would go to his own grave hating himself. So he fought the urge to reassure and nodded. “Okay, my friend… just in case… tell me.”

 

“Don’t blame… your… yourself…” Dan breathed.

 

Steve knew instantly what was on his friend’s mind. Danno knew him well enough to know that he was being consumed with guilt over the horrific incident of the day before. Unable to respond immediately to his friend’s generosity, he listened as Dan emphasized his desire.

 

“Promise me…”

 

“I trusted the wrong person,” Steve let the whispered confession slip past his lips. “And look where it landed you.”

 

Dan sighed patiently. “Trust the right one now… promise me…”

 

McGarrett had to tighten his lips to stop them from quivering. Danno suspected he was dying, and his last wish was for Steve McGarrett to go on with his life, absolved of complicity and free of guilt. How could there be a truer friend? “I promise…”

 

Williams relaxed visibly with the words and nodded as his eyelids drooped to completely cover the blue corneas. 

 

 

*****

 

“Ka he ‘e nalu hmmm… red… I don’t…hmmm,” Dan Williams mumbled softly.

 

The patient was situated back in the ICU following the surgery in which the doctors removed the bullet which had torn through the young man’s viscera. It was twenty four hours after Steve McGarrett first spotted the helicopter in the distance, and Doctor Hansen now briefed the head of Five-0, as well as Ben and Chin, who’d arrived just as Dan was being wheeled from the operating room.

 

The surgeon did another quick check of the Williams’ vital signs as he expounded. “The bullet trajectory was such that it managed to lodge in the ileum after it bisected one of the minor peritoneal branches of the left common iliac artery. We were able to resect the ileum in the first pass, but I’m glad I didn’t delay the second round of surgery to extract the round. Danny was extremely fortunate…”

 

The head of Hawaii Five-0 listened intently to the explanation despite the fact that most of it was lost on him. He had not yet heard what he wanted to hear – that Williams would make a complete recovery.

 

“Doc! Are you telling me that he’s going to be all right?” That was, after all, the bottom line for the impatient detective. Hansen spared a glance at the other two Five-0 detectives who seemed un-fazed by their boss’s demeanor and interested in how the doctor would respond.

 

“Yes! Yes, Steve, he’s going to be fine as long as he allows himself to properly recuperate before plunging headlong into some other dangerous situation.” Hansen was familiar – too familiar for his taste – with the impulsive natures and what he called immortal attitudes of the Five-0 detectives.

 

“Oh, he will, Doc, believe me. He will,” McGarrett said determinedly as he rubbed his face, and then once again studied the sleeping form before him.

 

“I ka moana…” Dan moaned.

 

“I wish you’d be delirious in English,” Steve commented softly to his friend.

 

Ben shrugged, “He’s not makin’ a whole lot of sense, boss… something about his surf board and heading toward the beach.”

 

McGarrett chuckled for a few moments as gently responded to the ramblings. “In your dreams, my friend. You’re going nowhere near a surf board for the foreseeable future.”

 

“Steve, go home and get some rest. We’ll call you if his condition changes,” Doctor Bergman assured as he stepped into the room and approached the group.

 

“Hmm, Steve… Steve…” The patient mumbled, causing McGarrett to quickly move closer to the bedside.

 

“Danno, I’m here,” he intoned, and with a glance over his shoulder at the two detectives and the doctor, he continued, “And I’m not leaving.”

 

“Steve… help… hmmm… the blood… he wanted to kill you… I couldn’t breathe… and it hurt…” 

 

McGarrett sighed, and responded gently, but firmly, “I know it hurt, but you held up like a trooper. Now you need to sleep. Doc’s got you all fixed you up.”

 

Dan apparently took the words to heart, because he settled down and, within moments, the gentle rise and fall of his chest told the onlookers that he’d settled into a deep repose.

 

 

*****

 

Steve impatiently paced up and down the narrow strip of flooring between the hospital room window and the patient's bed. After twelve hours under the watchful eyes of the ICU staff, Dan had been deemed well enough to be moved to a step-down room down the hall. Despite the early hour, McGarrett was there, bent on being present when his friend awakened. He arrived at dawn, much to the consternation of the floor nurse, but his persistence was rewarded as the patient began to stir. As soon as Williams' eyes blinked open, McGarrett leaned close and flashed a grin.

 

"Hi. Feeling better?"

 

Williams nodded then glanced around the hospital room. His gaze stopped to study the bright sunshine blazing through the slates in the window shades.

 

McGarrett's grin widened. He couldn't help the elation at seeing Danno alive and recovering. It had been a hellish couple of days, but they had emerged into a very bright rainbow. It was more than just the island of Oahu coming through the storm. Steve felt as if he and his friend had passed through some kind of blurry portal and into a new world. Less poetically, he recognized the reaction of joy born from utter relief and deliverance from sheer terror.  He’d been scared to death that Danno would literally die in his arms. Now those fears were an echo; ripples which would never completely be silenced, but which were no longer deafening.

 

Williams looked back at him. "Pierson and Adams?"

 

McGarrett shrugged. "They were either caught in the storm, or haven't been traced yet."

 

Justice, retribution, would be nice, but didn't seem so important to McGarrett anymore. He fondly studied his friend; mending, alive. That's what really mattered.

 

"Don't worry, we'll get them."

 

Williams nodded, then asked quietly, "You okay?"

 

McGarrett cleared his expression, wiped away the mental turbulence. He offered a warm smile to his friend. "I'm fine now. Storm front's past."  After the storm, always a rainbow.  Especially today.

 

Williams gave the slightest of nods, seeming to agree. He understood completely.

 

 

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