An Epilog to Beautiful Screamer
By B Huff & GM
With a special mahalo to our two amazing editors – Jan & Cindy
Dan could not have told anyone with certainty how he arrived back at his apartment. He’d turned down the volume on his police radio to avoid listening to the traffic concerning the arrest of murder suspect Walter Gregson. Now that the all-consuming investigation and chase was over, and Jane Michaels’ killer was beginning his path through the justice system, Five-0’s second-in-command was consumed with emptiness and grief.
The investigation and Williams’ subsequent dramatic capture of Gregson saved the life of the suspect’s wife, Sally - Jane’s best friend. That the man had so brutally strangled the officer’s girl friend as a decoy to his real plot – to murder Sally for her money – had to be a bitter pill for all of Jane’s friends, but it was especially tough on the Five-0 officer, who had fallen for the beautiful, young socialite several months earlier.
Tears blurred his eyes as he stood near the doorway of his bedroom and stared at the picture on his bedside table. It was a candid photo of Jane and him at the beach, holding their surf boards and watching the sets at Waimea. It had been snapped by Sally Gregson when they went to a day of fun in the sun. As usual, it had been a planned charity event. He couldn't remember the details. Except Jane was striking in her bikini.
Was it their first date? Difficult to say. He had run into Jane several times before. The notorious matchmaker triumvirate – Mrs. Mary Jameson, the governor's wife, Dora Bergman, Doc's wife, and Millie Stuart, the wife of the former Attorney General, were always trying to hook up Steve or Dan with someone they thought was the perfect girl. For some unknown reason they felt it their mission in life to meddle in the affairs of the Five-0 bachelors. Many of the 'accidental meetings' or blind dates came through the various charity events and public functions involving the older women.
Aware the matchmakers were trying to set him up with Jane, he had avoided asking the alluring Miss Michaels out. She was a little too close for comfort in the ohana-fringe of Five-0. Dan worked with Jameson and Bergman, and Stuart still frequented the same social circles. To date a friend of their wives was a little too risky even for Williams, for whom romantic involvements invariably ended (some less than amicably).
That beach party at Waimea, though, had been the clincher. It had been fun and carefree and they had so much in common that Jane had been impossible not to ask on another date. A dinner with just the two of them. He didn't remember the details of that second date either, but it had been the beginning of a pleasant time in his life. Jane was remarkable, and he had cared for her very much.
A tear dripped on his cheek and startled him back to real time. He drew in a deep breath to stop himself from crying. Wiping his face clear, he turned his back on the too-painful photo, crossed the room, and opened the lanai door to allow in the ocean breeze.
The last horrifying memory he had of Jane Michaels was of her lifeless form on the floor, draped with a blanket, limbs cast at an unnatural angle… The image filled his hard-won slumber, and every idle moment of the days since her body had been discovered. How to shake it and move on – Dan struggled desperately with that question while the ache in the pit of his stomach hungered for what he knew not.
Only an hour earlier, he’d struggled with Gregson on the cliff off the Kalanianaole Highway above Hanauma Bay after the man had attempted to consummate his plot, and murder his wife. Dan had the opportunity to let the fiend die – just by letting go of his hand, but could not find it in himself to kill – even someone who had committed such a destructive act for him personally. In the back of his mind – no matter how he tried to shake it – the visage of Steve McGarrett hovered like a moral watchdog – ready to deny the approval Williams always so desperately sought from his mentor. It was – in Dan’s mind at that moment – a pitiless test of his character, but he had passed regardless.
He debated whether to have a drink or two… or three… or four... Bitterly, he knew he’d already tried that a couple evenings ago, and found that the alcohol helped for a little while, but eventually dragged him into a blacker depression than he thought possible before he cried himself to sleep. Not generally prone to over-drinking given his athletic hobbies and frequently on-call status with work, he peripherally recognized the move as an act of desperation that he did not want to repeat.
Physically exhausted, he took off his suit jacket and dropped onto the couch. Surely he would be able to sleep now that the suspect was in custody and his professional duty to Jane was behind him. It had bothered her that he was not outwardly emotional when the topic of a violent crime came up. She had not understood how emotions clouded productivity in investigations – a McGarrett conviction which Dan had taken to heart. How ironic that he was struggling now to keep his feelings to himself. With a disgusted half-laugh, he considered that Jane would be pleased with him.
Dan drifted off to a fitful sleep, but within fifteen minutes, jerked awake to escape an unclear, knife-like terror. Near tears, he realized that once again, he could not recall the specifics of the nightmare. It had been this way each time he tried to rest ever since Jane’s murder. A short period of black slumber would quickly mutate into some irrational scene which played out in a terrifyingly-real forum in his head. With his heart rate elevated, it always took a half an hour to settle down before he could attempt to rest again. This made for long nights with an abundance of time to dwell on negative thoughts.
Slamming his fist into the sofa, he rose and, without further consideration, changed into a pair of gym shorts and a t-shirt. His exhaustion was rapidly growing untenable! Roughly tying his tennis shoes, he ran out the door and made his way to the street below via the stairwell. He was determined to stop thinking… pondering… dwelling, and run until his subconscious could not argue his body back to alertness until he was fully rested.
He sprinted for several blocks east on Kalakaua Avenue, weaving through the plethora of distracted tourists. When he hit the end of Waikiki, he slowed to a distance pace, and made his way towards the road that would take him around Diamond Head.
As his body warmed up to the run, Dan’s emotions were tossed in a sea of unwanted thoughts that broke on painful shores. Jane dead on the floor… Walter Gregson offering him a glass of champagne knowing he’d just strangled poor Linda. The face of the guy he’d wrongly pummeled in an out-of-control eruption of emotion… Suddenly annoyed with himself, he spoke aloud as he pressed on.
Steve McGarrett stormed into the Five-0 offices, taking in the scene occurring in the small office near the main door. Kono, seated at the small desk nearby, was focused on what was no doubt Walter Gregson’s booking paperwork. Relieved to see that it was NOT Williams handling the processing of this heartless criminal, the scene begged the next question – where WAS his second-in-command?
Steve had spoken briefly with Williams immediately after Gregson’s capture, but had heard nothing else from his friend after that. The coconut wireless was buzzing with the tale, and Steve listened carefully for any further communication between Williams and anyone else. None were forthcoming, and Kono’s report was less than helpful. He had taken charge of the prisoner from Danny, and had exchanged no further words after that. The Hawaiian detective could only offer the very-reasonable-but-not-too-pleasing-to-McGarrett excuse that he’d been focused on his dangerous prisoner.
McGarrett had been in court for the better part of the previous
week, and had – to his great regret – been unable to spend too much time on the
case to which he had allowed Danno AND Kono – and even Chin part-time - to
“Has Danno checked in?” The question was expected, and Jenny, his secretary, was ready with an answer.
“No, boss – I’ve tried to raise him through Dispatch a few times.”
Pushing past the secretary’s desk, McGarrett made straight for the phone on his desk, and dialed Williams’ apartment. He waited impatiently through a dozen rings, before slamming the phone down.
“I can hear Dispatch paging him on the radio – he’s not acknowledging !”
The lead detective was mildly concerned, because his friend’s frame of mind was very bleak, and yet – with a couple explosive exceptions – outwardly unemotional. Steve knew Danno was in pain, but the Five-0 chief was ill-equipped to do more than force his presence upon him.
Not one known for his patience, McGarrett snapped up the phone and requested that HPD Dispatch route him to Sergeant Duke Lukela. He hoped his long-time friend was on duty, so that he would not have to risk an overt display of what his second-in-command might view as over-protectiveness. Spotting Chin, Kono, and Jenny in his doorway, Steve realized that his inner circle already knew he had the tendency to… take extra precautions with Williams. He did not view his attitude as over the top, but was fully aware that Danno suffered jokes about this from those in law enforcement circles all over the islands.
Early on in his association with the young officer, he attempted to veil his concerns about his friend’s penchant for getting into trouble. But as time passed, and he realized that his apprehension was an ill-disguised secret, he dropped the façade. Besides, Danno seemed neither adversely affected nor – for the most part – bothered by the generally good-natured teasing.
Thirty seconds later, the HPD sergeant came on the line, and McGarrett explained his anxiety – not that he would call it that – about his officer’s radio silence after Gregson’s arrest. True to form, Lukela astutely grasped what the head of the state police was requesting – a discrete BOLO – be on the lookout – for Williams.
“Ten-four, Steve – we’ll find Danny. Don’t worry.”
The senior officer opened his mouth to deny that he was worried, but thought better of it. Instead, he thanked the HPD sergeant, and joined his staff in his doorway so that he could hear via Jenny’s dispatch radio how his instruction would be translated to the units in the field. He had a small concern in the back of his head – not that it would have stopped him – that his second-in-command would get wind of his request and feel that his boss was intruding on his private grieving process.
“All units, anybody spot Danny Williams, please report his location. This is just a welfare check, so do NOT approach. Five-0 is monitoring this channel, if you get my drift.”
McGarrett’s brow furled as he sighed, “Translation – no wise cracks. I guess there’s no easy way to request an island-wide man hunt without being obvious.”
“You done the right thing, boss,” Chin agreed. “Dat boy’s had a rough week.”
Kono and Jenny agreed, but neither had time to speak as the radio crackled to life again.
“Dispatch – Unit Lima Four. I’ve got a bead on Danny.”
“Well that didn’t take long!” The secretary chirped, relief evident in her posture.
“Looks like he’s out for a run – he’s heading east on Diamond Head Road about a half mile past Makalei.”
McGarrett breathed a little easier – Danno was utilizing a healthy outlet to work through his pain – one that he himself would choose as often as not.
There was no dedicated path for pedestrians on the southern-most road around Diamond Head towards Kahala, and so – in other circumstances – Dan would have focused on each step on the narrow dirt trail as cars buzzed within a few feet of him. In his current, distracted funk, he concentrated only on the fall of each foot. Neither danger nor distance was a consideration as he moved farther from Waikiki. Unable to govern the path of his mind’s random musings, he fell prey to thoughts of the profound losses which had punctuated childhood.
Williams lost his caretaker uncle – a beat cop – to a fire almost twenty years earlier, but time had dulled his recollection of the emotional trauma he’d endured. And certainly the memory of his parents’ dramatic deaths at Pearl Harbor was fuzzy and even now articulated through a three-year-old’s immature eyes. He could not remember whether those tragedies had ever exposed the raw wound which this crime laid bare in his soul. Perhaps the difference was maturity – perhaps just time – it didn’t matter at the moment – it just hurt.
On top of the haze of heartache, Williams’ long-time companion, diffidence, was trying to claw its way back to the surface. Prone to second guessing himself, it was one part of his being that McGarrett worked tirelessly to eradicate. He had in large measure been successful – to anyone who was not intimately familiar with the young detective. As a cop, he had confidence that his profession offered some measure of protection from violence to friends and family – this deed had certainly shattered that illusion and shaken the officer to his core.
Another internal snap back to the moment pushed him to re-assert his wandering attention on the physical act of putting one foot in front of the other.
“Ocean… waves… surf… surf… surf…” The officer breathed the meditative mantra.
“Yessir – that’s what I’m telling you – he just passed Waa Street. And uh…”
“UHHH, WHAT, OFFICER REYES?” The impatient tone in the Five-0 chief’s voice was un-disguisable. Why couldn’t everyone just report the facts and leave the interpretation to him!! Two hours had passed since the initial report on his second’s position, and – while he would never admit it over the coconut wireless – he was growing concerned that his friend had pressed on substantially past his typical run distance without regard to the fact that a return trip over the same territory would be a given.
“It’s awfully hot, sir.”
McGarrett was nonplussed. Heat. It HAD been atypically warm today… He had been so concerned about Williams’ state of mind and potential physical threats – such as fast-moving vehicles - that he had not considered that the weather might be a factor as Danno tried to cope with his grief.
“Stick with him, Reyes,” McGarrett hoped the beat cop recognized his tone as conciliatory for there would be no apology – his focus was Danno.
“Yessir – like glue!”
The fact that his clothes were drenched from his body’s attempt to maintain a viable core temperature went unnoticed by Dan as he jogged along the side of the Kalani Highway. The view to his right was no longer a scenic expanse of teal ocean as privacy fences and residences obscured the tropical view beyond. The runner – lost once again in his own internal machinations -- did not notice.
The last time he’d seen her alive was in the office as she stood in the doorway. He’d been so focused on the country club murder mystery that it had over-shadowed any thoughts of lunch dates with the beautiful socialite. He was relieved – and pleasantly surprised – that she had been so understanding about his blunder, given her recent accusations that his job was too all consuming. He’d denied it out loud, but knew it was true. The planned mid-day rendezvous was his not-so-subtle way of proving her wrong. In the end, his forgetfulness – he knew – would only serve as ammunition for her perspective. WOULD HAVE SERVED… not WOULD… It would never be WOULD again…
The Jake brake on a passing dump truck ripped the distracted officer from his inward attention. Abruptly aware that the world around him was losing its color and that his location was not immediately evident, he trotted / staggered to the pole bearing a street sign. Between his blurred vision and the stinging moisture trickling into his eyes, it was only with difficulty that he could make out the words, “Hawaii Loa St.” Hawaii Loa… Hawaii Loa… Could he be past Aina Haina? That meant a several mile journey back home… His disinterested musings were jumbled. The cool metal sign pole supported his trembling form as he slipped to the ground. A firm hand suddenly grabbed his shoulder.
“You know a horse will run ‘til it drops dead, but someone’s gotta be riding it.”
“Steve,” Williams rasped, not bothering – or able to – lift his head up far enough to make eye contact with his mentor. “How…”
“How what?” McGarrett inquired distractedly as he put a canteen to his friend’s lips and studied the downed officer for physical contraindications. “Drink! You’ve dehydrated yourself!”
Williams shakily clutched the tipped canteen and let the tepid water pour into his mouth as the senior officer, on one knee, studied him.
“How are you feeling?” McGarrett’s tone was measured. Several seconds passed before the younger officer responded dully.
“Can you stand?”
Another several second pause preceeded a quiet confirmation. “Yeah.”
McGarrett gingerly pulled Williams to his feet, and maintained a firm grip on his friend’s arm as the pair slowly walked to the Five-0 sedan blocking someone’s private drive twenty yards up the road. The Five-0 chief studied his passenger in sideways glances during the silent ride back to Honolulu. Gaunt… spent… miserable… Unfortunately, there was no short cut through the grieving process, and – as much as Steve ached for his friend – he was frustratingly powerless to fix it. In his perfect world, he would simply order Danno to will his pain away.
On the short trip, he recalled the death of his infant nephew a couple years earlier [EPISODE: Once Upon a Time]. Danno had borne witness to the raw pain and torture he had endured as he grieved. Very few people – Williams may have been the only one – actually knew how the Five-0 chief had suffered during this time. His young officer had been there for him, despite what McGarrett viewed as the unmanly, awkward nature of his emotions. Danno had been on call to listen at any time of the day or night, and now that the roles were reversed, Steve was determined to support him. The only problem was he had no clue how to go about it.
Not a word was exchanged between the two men until McGarrett pushed open the door to his friend’s apartment.
“Nice… unlocked,” the senior officer observed, and then could not help but take in the room as a potential crime scene. Dan offered no defense for the mild accusation. Pulling his damp shirt off, he vanished into the bedroom and returned with a towel draped around his neck.
“I won’t ask how you knew where to find me, but mahalo.” Williams tone was atypically flat.
“Yes, well, you’re welcome,” Steve returned, grateful for the pass on his over-protective behavior as he tugged the refrigerator door open and perused the meager offerings. “Pineapple juice, jelly, milk, mustard, and mayo,” he enumerated neutrally before closing the door and turning back to frown at his friend. Another round of non-reaction…
Danno was pushing around several unopened pieces of mail on the credenza by the door, but making no move to open them. McGarrett filled a glass with water, and slowly moved to stand beside the younger officer and observe. It was apparent to him – and probably to Williams as well – that besides a single utility bill, the other articles were cards. Possibly birthday cards, as the officer had celebrated a birthday only a few days before Jane’s murder. In all probability though, the envelopes contained messages of condolence. The Five-0 chief pressed the glass into his officer’s hand, and broke the silence.
“Keep drinking. You gotta be wiped out – how about we grab some dinner before you hit the hay?”
Dan complied with the command and took a couple gulps of water before responding to the invitation.
“I’m really not very hungry – think I’ll just shower, knock back some juice, and catch a few winks.”
McGarrett studied his friend. “You just burned a few thousand calories. I hate to sound like Jenny, but maybe hunger needs to take a back seat to nourishment.”
“I’ll be fine, Steve,” Dan reassured tiredly as he moved toward the bedroom. “If I don’t get some sleep soon, I’m gonna start hallucinating.”
“I tell you what – you shower, I’ll go for carryout – that’s the best compromise you’re gonna get outta me.” McGarrett was now replaying scenes from his sporadic moments in the office earlier this week – confrontations between Danno and Jenny concerning his officer’s low caloric intake during the investigation into Michaels’ murder. The secretary had grown more assertive in her demands that his second eat more – “to keep up his strength” – her pleas fell on deaf ears, with a couple of notable exceptions where the officer had lashed out at her verbally to leave him alone - a VERY uncharacteristic display from Williams. The petite woman – though obviously stung – seemed to take it in stride, and stubbornly continued to press the issue throughout the stressful week.
Williams turned in the doorway, and tendered a faint, crooked grin, a shadow of his typical expression. “Yeah, okay.”
McGarrett sat in the easy chair opposite his friend, slouched on the sofa dozing. With a grimace, he noted that most of the chicken cashew on Danno’s plate was still there. At least he’d eaten a whole egg roll and some rice… well, a little rice anyway… He collected his coffee cup, stepped out onto the small lanai, and leaned on the rail admiring the view for several minutes. It had certainly been a tough week for his Five-0 ohana and for Danno in particular. Now that the cause of all this grief was behind bars, he fervently hoped that life would drift back to normal. Yes, Danno had experienced a loss – again… And yes, the loss was all the more traumatic because of the gruesome nature / motive of the crime AND the fact that his officer had burst into the crime-aftermath only to have the horrible scene burned into his memory forever. ANYONE would be adversely affected. Still - he couldn’t quite put his finger on it (YET), but McGarrett’s investigative sixth sense told him that something else was in play here.
He was yanked back to the moment from his ponderings by a cry from within the apartment. Racing back, and reflexively reaching for his revolver, he found Dan alert and breathing heavily.
“Not real, I’m not real…” Williams repeated frantically.
“Danno! What is it?” McGarrett pressed as he quickly took a seat on the sofa beside his officer, who had apparently been thrust back into full consciousness after a bad dream became more than he could handle while sleeping.
Dan’s breathing slowed as he re-settled onto the sofa, and glanced miserably at his boss.
“Sorry… I can’t seem…” Williams ran his hand over his hair quickly, took in a deep breath, and released it. “I can’t seem to shake this nightmare.”
The two men remained motionless while heart rates slowed and emotional ripples subsided. Finally, the younger officer spoke.
“I don’t get more than thirty minutes of sleep at a pop before I scare myself awake.”
McGarrett stood and moved back to the chair across the coffee table before he answered.
“What exactly is the nature of the nightmare, Danno?”
The two men made eye contact briefly before Dan looked away.
“I can’t really articulate a sequence of events, but at some point, I’m struggling with someone – someone without a head – a woman I think – and my hands – first one and then the other – are pulled off. I can’t recall anything else.”
The lead detective’s expression twisted slightly. “That sounds pretty… nightmarish, Danno. How long has this been going on?”
“Ever since you dropped me off here at my place the day Jane…” Williams settled back against the cushions and put his feet up.
“Have you tried sedatives?”
“I’ve tried pills, drinking until I pass out, and now exercising myself ‘til I drop – not sure what else there is to try.”
“I know you don’t want to hear this, Danno, but MAYBE a visit with Doc might help.”
It was Williams’ turn to grimace as he took a sip of the pineapple juice which had been resting next to his partially eaten meal. McGarrett pushed on with his case.
“ It’s not surprising you’re having nightmares about this, but you need to find a way to sleep. And you don’t think there could be anything else… bothering you?” The older man didn’t quite know how to say what he had on his mind since there was no clear-cut suspicion or theory attached to it.
“Anything else? Like what?” Dan stiffened slightly. “Like having my girlfriend brutally murdered by somebody we took for a friend isn’t enough? Do you think I’m feeling guilty because I wasn’t tuned in enough to realize what was going on in time to save Jane?”
The Five-0 chief held out his hand. “I hope you’re not feeling guilty, Danno, because there was no reason to suspect Gregson. His plan was vicious and insidious. That you were able to figure it out before there was another murder is a credit to your investigative skills and discipline.”
The two men made eye contact, and silently re-organized their thoughts before Dan acknowledged the compliment with a slight cant of his head.
“I don’t know what it is, Steve. I just hope it lets me rest before I go nuts.”
“Maybe you need a little more closure – the funeral—” McGarrett hated to even say it. “Well, it’s this Friday.”
Dan nodded slightly and acknowledged the possibility. “Maybe…”
The senior detective continued observing his friend, but Danno never looked in his direction before closing his eyes again. He sensed it - guilt bubbled beneath the surface. Something was definitely amiss…
Jane Michaels’ funeral was to be held outside near the gravesite at the Valley of the Temples on the windward side of the island, a pleasant drive through the lush Kaneohe basin.
McGarrett had met Jenny at the Palace, and the two of them collected a stoic Williams from his apartment. Although dressed dapperly in a verynice gray suit, the officer was noticeably gaunt. Dark rings under his eyes told the tale of sleepless nights which had not abated since the day of Williams’ infamous sojourn to Aina Haina. The secretary grumbled that the young officer was not taking care of himself, pointedly noting his weight loss as well as the other behavior-generated effects. Dan folded his arms and looked out the window instead of responding to the accusations.
It always seemed to McGarrett that the shades of green flora here were more vivid and multi-varied than on any other part of the island. Of course, the crypts and tombstones lacing the hills of the large memorial park were a stark reminder that this was home to the dead. The drive had been silent and introspective, the three in the car keeping any thoughts to themselves. As the Five-0 chief maneuvered his vehicle to a clear space along the roadside, he realized that the service was going to be well attended. Chin and Kono were already there, and opened the passenger doors for Jenny and Dan.
Apparently, Sally Gregson had been awaiting Dan’s arrival as well, and approached immediately, giving him a hug and a slow, gentle kiss on his cheek before taking his left arm in a near-vice-like grip. Jenny, in a somber black dress, already had the officer’s right arm clutched. The attention seemed only to drive his friend further into himself – a defense mechanism he could personally relate to, Steve mused sadly, as he and his other two detectives fell in behind them.
The group passed the plaque which marked the formal area for the service:
Dec 7th, 1941 – Dec 10th, 1970”
Williams did not look up, and instead allowed his two female escorts to guide him down the walkway.
McGarrett was unsurprised to recognize many political climbers and members of Hawaii’s well-to-do as Michaels’ social circle revolved around those connected with the island’s country clubs, and her charity work. Governor Jameson and his wife, Mary, were among the mourners, and gave the group a sympathetic nod. It was clear to Steve that Williams was determined to avoid eye contact with everyone, and so he acknowledged the politician on behalf of his group. As he did so, the head of Five-0 recalled that the initial introduction between Danno and Jane was through the matchmaking efforts of Mary Jameson.
The governor’s wife was in a growing circle of married women, including Dora Bergman – the medical examiner’s wife – who seemed determined to snare and marry off all of the bachelors within their spheres of influence. Unfortunately for Steve and Dan, they were viewed as particularly eligible targets. These women – the wives of Hawaii’s movers and shakers – had recently viewed Dan as the more vulnerable mark as they had tried unsuccessfully for years to match up the head of Five-0 with the perfect mate. Many of them were here today, including the Bergmans, who’d befriended Jane during their participation in several of the dead woman’s fund-raising activities.
As the group took seats in the half-ring of some hundred cushion-adorned folding chairs near the gravesite, Sally quietly pointed out Henry Michaels, Jane’s estranged father, who arrived concurrent with the Five-0 group. With a regal comportment, he was a tan-faced man of average height and weight, perhaps in his sixties, wearing an expensive black suit. The contingent of men with him appeared to be hired help and not friends or family. Williams studied the man uncertainly, and was met – after one of his men whispered in his ear - with a sustained glower, from which Dan withdrew his own gaze in short order.
As the eulogy was presented by a protestant-appearing minister, Dan offered very little in the way of obvious emotion. McGarrett studied his friend, and – outwardly – Danno seemed shell-shocked and spent. And Jenny was right, he considered – the officer looked like he’d lost a dozen pounds. His face was gaunt, making his features seem a little sharper. Most disturbing to the head of Five-0 though was the eerie hollowness in his friend’s eyes. Certainly, the trauma of walking in on a murder scene only to find the victim was a loved one was the stuff of which nightmares were made.
The pastor closed with a prayer, and following the Amen, he nodded in the direction of Gregson. Sally squeezed Dan’s arm, and rose shakily. It was obvious only to those closest in proximity to him that the detective had not expected Sally to speak. For the first time during the sad event, he seemed a little anxious, and tracked the woman’s movements to the podium some ten feet away. Her red and swollen eyes left no doubt that she was overwrought, but she pulled herself together, and managed to speak eloquently for a few minutes about the kind and beautiful soul that had been taken from them. All the while, Williams sat still, a non-blinking statue with Jenny leaning on him.
Gregson appeared to be drawing to the end of her planned tribute to her friend, and stepped to the side of the lectern. Worrying a handkerchief, her lower lip trembled as her focus turned to Dan.
“Danny… dear… sweet Danny… You meant so much to Jane. ”
“No, stop please no… Don’t do this,” Dan whispered hoarsely, his eyes reflecting his internal torture. Steve, seated directly behind Jenny, could sense the anguish his friend was enduring, but had no productive recourse. He reached forward and placed a firm hand on his friend’s shoulder, offering Danno a reminder of his presence and support. Williams did grow quiet again, but McGarrett could feel the man’s tension. Kono and Chin, seated behind Dan to their boss’s left, had a brief visual exchange, and agreed. In tandem, they each pulled up a hand and placed it on their colleague’s neck and shoulder. If nothing else, their friend would be enveloped in the physical support of his Five-0 ohana.
Tears again ran down Sally’s face as she pressed on, apparently determined to unload her burden in this venue.
“You were the love of her life, and she was ready to make sacrifices to be the wife of a man so dedicated to his job.”
Wife… The jolt that coursed through Williams was sensed only by those touching him. A half gasp would’ve been the only outward sign to the rest of the assembly. Jenny looked up sharply at Dan’s expression, and then threw a concerned glance back in her boss’s direction, though no eye contact was made.
The speaker, however, had not noticed the effect her words were having on their target.
“She was making wedding plans – it was going to be such a happy year!” Sally’s crying blossomed into sobs until the distraught woman could barely speak.
Dan shifted ever so slightly in his seat, and drove the heel of his left hand into his temple. His expression contorted as if he were living out a scene from a horror film.
“I’m sorry… so so sorry, Danny,” She shouted through the tears. “Jane’s dead, and it should’ve been me! He should’ve killed me! This should be my funeral!”
Williams shook his head – he could bear no more. He tore from the supporting hands, jumped from his seat and hurried to envelope Gregson in his arms. Pressing her head to his chest as a few errant tears trickled down his own cheeks.
“No, no, it wasn’t your fault. Don’t think like that!” The emotional officer gave the woman a kiss on the side of her head as her shoulders heaved from her violent cry. The words quieted her, and Dan – eyes to the ground – added as he guided her back to her seat, “Come on – you’ve said enough.”
Murmurs rippled through the crowd, which had obviously been moved by the grieving woman’s words, and the detective’s heart-rending rescue. Two of Sally’s girlfriends approached and comforted the woman for a minute. One of the women, who obviously knew Williams, touched the officer’s cheek and tried to offer more consolation with a hug, but he turned towards Jenny and closed his eyes, lower lip still trembling. The Five-0 secretary offered a sad smile to the woman, and took Dan’s left hand and re-enveloped his right arm, doing her level best to protect him from what she knew was unwanted attention from well-meaning non-ohana.
As the sad event drew to a conclusion, the pastor returned to the podium to announce that refreshments would be served in the clubhouse of the Kahala Country Club, less than fifteen minutes away. Williams flat out refused to attend, and Steve quickly agreed to take him home.
Dora moved forward and hugged Dan tightly and cried for a full minute before releasing the officer, who grit his teeth, and unenthusiastically returned the gesture.
“Danny, you look like Hell!” Bergman observed as he pulled a bottle from his pocket, and slipped it into Steve’s hand.
“Steve, he needs to get some sleep. Take him home, and make him swallow a couple of these little red guys. He’ll be four sheets to the wind for the night.”
“I’ll make it happen, Doc,” McGarrett promised as he opened the car door for his despondent passenger.
Dan was grateful to be able to turn inward with no fear of offending the driver as they put miles between the funeral attendees and themselves. His friend – a true aikane in his book – did not offer platitudes or try to make small talk. He just drove, despite the concern that Williams recognized in passing, was exuding from him.
Until Sally’s emotional explosion, Dan had floated through the funeral, enveloped in a detached, otherworldly bubble, devoid of any painful grieving sensation.
He had cried several times when he found himself alone in the days leading up to the large memorial gathering, but was determined to keep a stiff upper lip in front of the rest of the world. He’d worn his horror and grief on his sleeve the day that Jane had been murdered. The shock of realizing that the dead body on the floor was that of Michaels was nothing short of overwhelming.
On this morning, the only thing he could honestly recall doing with any purpose of thought was to pick out a suit – Jane’s favorite – the dark gray he rarely wore due to the more winter-like denier of the fabric.
It had seemed that all the eyes at the memorial service were battling the urge to observe the crushed officer. Williams was a man who had come to expect occasional attention from the press for professional reasons, but it was not a position he enjoyed. Preferring a support role, Dan always had to make a concerted effort to wear his press mask, as McGarrett had dubbed it when Williams came onboard with Five-0. He’d sat there, knowing he’d far prefer THAT attention to being the focal point of a tragedy such as this.
And Jane’s father – he’d never met the man, and certainly now understood his girlfriend’s lack of enthusiasm about any familial introductions (not that he was complaining!). He knew the wealthy industrialist to be – in Jane’s mind anyway – a world-class bad parent, not that she wanted for any material need. She’d been brought up in the finest boarding schools, traveled extensively, and been at her father’s side when it suited him to have a daughter present (rarely apparently). Dan was also peripherally aware that Henry Michaels was a major financial supporter of Governor Jameson, which was one of the reasons he had dodged interaction with Jane initially.
Jane and her friends had labeled themselves orphans by choice, and further, had included him in their club. While the choice part wasn’t true, the orphan part was – Williams was a real, dyed-in-the-wool kid whose parents had perished in the bombing at Pearl Harbor. The girlfriends all had one or more living parents who had farmed out their upbringings to the hired help.
Dan’s thoughts wandered back to the service. He could not have imagined that the situation could get any more uncomfortable – until Sally rose from her chair. She’d certainly accurately described Jane, and the impact of her loss on her pet charities – that was hard enough to hear, and it should’ve ended there. But then… then it was like she left the planet – at least the same planet on which Dan had been living. LOVE… WIFE… WEDDING… Certainly, Jane had been dancing around the subject, but he was not ready, and was certain that he had conveyed that. Jane was a beautiful and remarkable woman, but she lived in a different world than he did. She was so naïve about how most people lived. And then there was the job…
Over the course of the past few months, it had become abundantly clear to him that his commitment to his work would eventually become a major source of contention, as it typically did in Williams’ interactions with the opposite sex. She paid lip service to the importance of the Five-0 mission in his life – and he had sincerely appreciated her valiant attempts to suck it up – it was something that endeared her to him. But the underlying resentment and lack of understanding had been there – he’d sensed it just as he would detect an untruthful suspect. More than once she had accused him of being insensitive – his ability to compartmentalize perplexed and frustrated her.
He had liked her… enjoyed her company so much (when they weren’t politely – so far – disagreeing on his choice of career path or his “callous” approach to investigations or his priorities…). Heck, he might’ve eventually even been able to fall deeply, madly in love with her – IF he could’ve ignored the subtle warning signs which threatened his all-consuming passion for service to Steve – to Five-0…
Yes, the situation was on its way to becoming untenable. He’d felt it in his gut. Even now, the remembrance made him feel oddly unsettled.
Jenny wandered into her boss’s office to place several phone messages on McGarrett’s desk blotter. The head of Five-0 had just returned from Williams’ apartment, and was tugging his suit jacket off before settling into his chair.
“Did Danny take the little red pills?” Chin asked as he toyed with the un-lit pipe between his teeth.
“I stood there and watched him,” McGarrett returned tersely. “I hope Doc’s right – he did look awful.”
Jenny moved around the desk to leave, but hesitated.
“What is it, honey?” The Five-0 chief detected that his secretary had something she needed to say.
“A few hours before she was murdered, Jane stopped by the office to speak with Danny.”
“Yeah – I remember,” McGarrett nodded.
“Well, she told him very clearly and deliberately that she loved him, and it was pretty clear to me that she hoped he would say it back, but Danny didn’t. He just held his breath until she left.”
“And I think Danny was surprised to hear that he was getting married next year.” Kono added.
“Not as surprised as I was,” McGarrett leaned back in his chair. Part in parcel of being the Five-0 chief and second-in-command was acceptance of the fact that each man would know the details of the other’s life – each needed to be able to reach the other in an emergency, and so trusted personal details – medical appointments, dating habits, legal matters – were in the hands of the other. Because of that, Steve was very familiar with his friend’s activities with regard to the opposite sex, and he was confident that Danno had never withheld relevant information about anything or anyone from him. Both knew their secrets were safe with the other.
The head of Five-0 knew that his second was infatuated with the beautiful socialite, and on one occasion, he recalled Mary Jameson mention something about how she thought Jane might be “THE ONE” for his friend. At the time, he felt that the statement was not founded in anything factual, because the beginning of the relationship tracked perfectly with Williams’ typical dating pattern – namely, a short, head-over-heels phase, followed by an even briefer period of a regular date cycle. This was where he perceived the Danno-Jane relationship to be when it was cut short.
McGarrett fully expected that the next steps in the pattern would have come in due time - a cooling off period, usually precipitated by the other party attempting to advance the relationship faster than Danno was comfortable. Then – the most distracting phase for the Five-0 offices and business-as-usual - frequent phone arguments and Danno’s mood indicators that a falling out was in progress.
Now that he’d heard Sally Gregson weeping about a wedding that would never be, he wondered whether the governor’s wife had been told something along these lines in the recent past by Jane. He was certain that Danno had reservations about a lasting relationship with the woman. Exactly what those reservations were had not come up in conversation. Five-0 was still the center of Danno’s world, and so case-related subjects filled the thoughts of both men.
Chin’s voice yanked McGarrett back to the moment with a statement that suddenly rang very true.
“I’m thinkin’ that the trap just wasn’t sprung yet.”
The lead detective smirked, “You mean Danno was going to be the last to know.”
“I think Chin’s right,” the secretary admitted. “I’m embarrassed to say it, but there’s not much a lot of women won’t do in the name of landing a man – and Danny has all the makings of a great catch.”
“The makings of a great catch – as opposed to simply a great catch, Jenny?” The head of Five-0 cocked his head at the perplexing turn of phrase.
“He eats, breathes, and sleeps Five-0, Steve – too much like—” The petite woman caught herself and made guilt-laden eye contact with her boss. “Sorry...”
“Too much like me… In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act - George Orwell,” McGarrett quoted matter-of-factly, unoffended.
“His sadness is just so heartbreaking,” Jenny finished quietly as she returned to her desk.
“Yeah, Danno needs some time to work through this one.” The lead detective could not disagree – it WAS tough to see his friend in such misery.
Dan's eyes snapped open, momentarily unsure as to what elevated his heart rate and startled him back to full wakefulness. Desperately tired, he did not move for several seconds, and finally let his eyes drift shut again. He consciously started to slow his breathing, wondering in passing whether a fleeting nightmare - too common in his routine lately - had interrupted what he'd hoped would be a much-needed respite from his depression. That thought was washed away in a tsunami of noise - someone was pounding on his front door! He quickly brought himself upright, and looked at his alarm clock – one AM - as he un-holstered the gun routinely left on his nightstand. Un-nerved and annoyed, he did not bother to pull on a shirt as he strode towards the offending noise in only his boxers.
"Who is it?" Williams called through the door almost as an afterthought as it had been his intention to swing the door open and glare at the offending knocker.
"It's Henry Michaels," came the unexpected response.
Completely taken aback, the officer took in a ragged breath, and quickly pulled his hand from the knob. Jane's father paying him a late night visit - good thing? Bad thing? The man had only glared at him at the funeral.
"Hello?" The edgy voice called impatiently through the door.
Dan jumped mentally, and laid his weapon on the nearby credenza since the likelihood of needing it for Henry Michaels seemed slim. Inhaling once and releasing to clear his head, he started to turn the knob. There was no opportunity to pull on it however as the forceful opening was initiated from the outside. He had to step back to avoid being hit as the door swung energetically until it popped against the door stop and re-bounded.
It WAS Henry Michaels - still glaring - but also just in front of and slightly to either side of the man were two large, mean-faced, burly men in luau shirts. The one to Dan's right stepped forward suddenly and slammed his fist into the officer's head. Caught utterly off guard, Williams careened backward, tipped over the easy chair, and landed ungracefully on the coffee table before rolling onto the floor with a thud!
The two men snatched the stunned detective from the floor roughly, literally lifted him by his arms, and dropped him unceremoniously on his couch, a spray of blood scattering in their wake.
“What did you do with it?”
Still reeling, the dizzy officer did not respond immediately as his concentration was on using the back of his hand to stem the stream of crimson flowing from his nose. The two goons slipped quickly onto the sofa sandwiching him in between them. The one to Dan’s right harshly grabbed his neck.
“Owww, easy!” Williams’ face twisted in pain.
“Answer the question!” Left-Side Goon demanded viciously as Michaels stared implacably at the goings on.
Dan flinched, but turned to eye Michaels, slouched in the chair over which he’d just tumbled, hands folded over the slight paunch of his stomach.
“What… What was the question again?”
Michaels sighed impatiently, but maintained a level gaze at his “host.”
“What have you done with my money and property?”
“Money and… what money and property?” Now completely bewildered, Dan began to wonder if his “guest’s” violent entry into his home had given him a concussion.
“A year ago, the trust fund set up by Jane’s grandmother contained more than three million dollars. Now, there’s a little more than a million in the account, AND Jane’s collection of jade figurines – at last valuation for insurance purposes – was at three hundred thousand dollars. It seems to have vanished as well.”
Dan was surprised – he knew that Jane had no need to work, but he had only been peripherally aware of her net worth – it was not something he cared about in the least. To the contrary, he felt it was something that stood between the two of them and a lasting relationship. If they could have ever been together – really together - then an equal financial footing was a necessity in Dan’s mind. Jane had understood this – or at least SAID she did. He vividly recalled the conversation.
“Darling, are you saying that we can’t be… together because I have a trust fund?” Jane’s eyes shimmered with liquid.
Dan sighed and moved to lightly massage his girlfriend’s shoulders. The unwelcome topic of marriage was starting to seep into conversations more frequently despite his strong position that it could not work out. They’d had a couple pretty nasty arguments over his unwillingness to agree that the obstacles he’d listed were “surmountable.”
Whatever internally-motivated, psychological, fear-of-commitment issues Dan had were nothing he was prepared to address with the beautiful, persistent woman. Instead, he proffered the logical, outwardly-obvious facts. The lifestyle mismatch was a huge problem for Dan. Jane was a wealthy socialite, traveling to exotic locales on a whim, and having limited interest – BY HER OWN ADMISSION – in living fulltime on the island paradise Dan was determined to call home.
Another problem was in fact the income disparity. The officer had no problem – in principle – with a working wife. As a matter of fact, viewing his own work as so rewarding, he could not fathom why anyone should be denied the right to be passionately involved in a profession outside the home. Unfortunately, Michaels’ job was seasonal and subject to whatever social winds were blowing.
“I just never want to feel like a… a kept man. I know it sounds chauvinistic in this day and age, but I can’t help how I feel.”
“Do you love me? You’ve never said it.”
“I… I don’t know – there’s a lot about you to love.” He heard her sigh at his response, but was determined to remain truthful.
“I’ve heard the gossip about your love life, and I’m realistic enough to know that it’s true.”
It was the detective’s turn to sigh, and when he offered no verbal rebuttal, the woman shrugged slightly. “Can I assume that none of those women meant anything?”
Feeling a little cornered, Williams hedged. “I won’t say they meant nothing.”
“And there’s nobody else?”
Dan was quick to deny the possibility.
“No, no! When would I have time for somebody else between you and--” He stopped short, wondering whether he was making a classic boyfriend-girlfriend argument mistake.
“Between me and Steve?” The woman finished his thought knowingly. When the detective eyed her guiltily, she accused, “That’s the only name you say more than mine.”
“Work is important to me,” he defended, confident that he’d rather argue about work than other women.
Jane canted her head coyly, a slight pout tugging at her lower lip.
“I know, Darling – I guess I’m getting used to taking a back seat to STEVE,” she teased seductively.
Dan slowly un-tensed – he hated it when women got into his past relationships – there was never a good outcome when he was honest with them.
“I know you haven’t proposed or anything, so I’m just talking hypothetically now.”
Uh oh…. Again a little discomfort seeped into Dan’s soul – had he lowered his guard too soon?
“Have you been listening to me?” The officer stared in amazement into Jane’s beautiful face.
“What if we were able to live only on what we earn?”
Dan couldn’t help but smirk at the rich girl’s naïve statement. “Living only on what we make – now that’s a novel concept. You DO know that’s what almost everybody else on the planet does – including ME?”
“I know,” she gave him a gentle shove and continued as her eyes lit up with another thought. “Danny… what if YOU came into a lot of money?”
The detective burst out laughing! “Sweetheart, if I had lot of money tucked away, then we wouldn’t be having this conversation, but trust me when I tell you that I don’t – just a slowly growing pension and a modest savings account. Please just tell me you understand what I’m telling you.”
“Okay, we agree!” She announced, ignoring his request, and held out her hand to offer a shake.
Dan firmly grabbed her soft appendage (and boy was it soft), and gave a single shake as he reiterated the pact. “We agree that we will each live off of only what we earn.”
“AND that if you suddenly become independently wealthy, we’ll reevaluate our positions with regard to marriage!”
The officer recalled nodding – no harm in agreeing to that since the likelihood of a financial windfall in his life was non-existent. “Agreed.”
“That’s all I need to hear! I love you – even if you aren’t ready to say it to me!”
They sealed the deal with a sensual kiss, all the while Dan knowing that the commitment issue would rear its persistent head again well before he became a millionaire – it always did.
A hard shove in the officer’s rib cage by Left-Side Goon brought him back to the moment.
“Money from Jane’s accounts – I don’t have access to her money! And I don’t know what you’re talking about with any collections—”
A firm blow into his solar plexus by Right-Side Goon stopped any further dissension from Dan, and pushed all the air out of his body for a few moments. The move doubled him over, but he was quickly yanked upright again by his hair.
“I’ll tell you right now that I know you’re lying.”
“I’m not—” The detective could do nothing more than deny the outrageous accusation, but whichever thug had his hair tightened his grip, causing Dan’s face to twist in pain.
“Look you little scam artist,” Michaels rose quickly and stood over the officer in one stride, grabbing him by the neck before continuing.
“Right now, to the rest of the world, you’re the victim – the grieving lover,” The man spat with venom. “I’m willing to leave the world with that impression – however false I think it is – IF you return the money and collection to me.”
Dan’s eyes had been closed in pain, but he slowly opened them as he felt Michael’s moist, wine-tainted breath on his face. The older man’s eyes narrowed and bore into him.
“On the other hand, if you go to the police – before you take a dive off your balcony – I am going to drag your name so far into the dirt, you’ll look forward to being a CORPSE!”
Michaels delivered a forceful blow to the detective’s stomach, and moved to the other side of the coffee table, straightening his suit jacket along the way. His henchmen followed behind, but not before Dan was delivered a harsh back-hand to his face as the two men retreated with their boss.
“I’ll be in touch soon – and you’d better have the right answers!”
The door to his apartment slammed shut, leaving the officer writhing in pain on his couch. He fell over and doubled up into a ball for several minutes trying to regain a measure of control and clarity of thought.
Steve... he had to call Steve… What time was it? It didn’t matter – he needed to reach out to his mentor. He half sat up and reached for the phone on the end table. His hand, draped in blood from his earlier efforts to slow his nose bleed, shook as he dialed the familiar number.While the phone jangled in his ear, he managed to get his feet back on the floor. Three rings later his boss’s very-alert-sounding voice responded in an all-business clip.
“McGarrett.” The man was used to being awakened for police business, as was Dan.
“Steve—” Williams rasped, and then choked – with the copper taste of blood backing up into his throat, he realized that he needed to attend to his injuries before telling his story. Feeling nauseous and knowing a race for the bathroom was imperative, he quickly abbreviated the conversation. “I’ll call you back.”
Slamming the phone back onto its cradle, he moved more quickly than he would’ve thought possible at that moment, barely making it to the toilet before throwing up. Dropping to the bathroom floor, he emptied the meager contents of his stomach, and then wretched for a few minutes. Finally spent, he lay himself down on the cool tile.
Stunned and appalled at the turn of events on the heels of such a personal tragedy, Williams tried desperately to return to a zone of mental comfort by thinking like a cop. Jane’s father had accused him of stealing her money? The thought was an anathema to him!
His tender cheek touched the floor, and he winced. Blood was still evacuating from his nose, but at a slower pace. He reached up, dragged the only bath towel within reach down on his face, and closed his eyes to re-center himself.
It wasn’t more than a few minutes before he bolted upright, bumping his head on the underside of the toilet – in a visceral reaction to the sound of someone pounding on his door. This time, the door opened, and Dan took a sharp breath – had Michaels returned to drop him off his lanai??
“Danno! What the… Danno! Where are you?” The almost vicious sound of the Five-0 chief’s voice was music to his ears as it echoed through the apartment.
“Steve…” Dan sat up gingerly, but could not get to his feet before McGarrett’s very concerned face appeared suddenly in the doorway.
“Danno! What the Hell happened?” McGarrett, in a Navy-blue sweat suit and tennis shoes, kneeled by his protégé to assess the physical damage, trying to make some sense of what had somehow occurred. His face wound up as if the pain was transferred to him by merely looking at this friend’s condition. “I’m calling an ambulance!”
“No… no, I’m okay,” Dan hoarsely insisted as he weakly held up a hand.
“You’re NOT okay. Who did this to you?” Steve demanded.
“Jane’s father…” Dan wheezed.
“Jane’s father was here?” The older man – vacillating between wanting immediate law-enforcement-type answers and recognizing his friend’s urgent need for medical attention – rolled two toilet paper pillows, and carefully placed first one, and then the other in his friend’s hand. “Put these up your nose!”
Hands shaking, Williams complied slowly with the order, managing to get one cushion positioned as he responded hoarsely.
“He knocked…” The injured officer squeezed his eyes shut and swallowed.
Apprehension mixed with anger over his friend’s battered condition, McGarrett snatched the tissue from Dan’s hand, then placed his left hand flat on top of the officer’s head.
“Hold still,” the older man admonished as he carefully inserted the other pillow into Williams’ bloody nostril.
“Ahhhh… owww,” Dan groaned, but opened his watering eyes and slowly looked up at his mentor, whose hand was still resting on his curls.
“Can you stand?” McGarrett’s anxiety was unmistakable.
Williams nodded, and slowly began climbing to his feet. The healthy officer wasted no time in grabbing his friend’s arm and assisting. Steve maneuvered Dan back into the living room, carefully avoiding the major blood spatters, as he lowered the younger man into the arm chair where Henry Michaels had been seated less than thirty minutes earlier.
Once his friend was settled into a relatively comfortable position, the head of Five-0 did not immediately commence interrogating the victim of the brutal assault. Instead, he busied himself wetting a washcloth and pouring a glass of pineapple juice from the fridge. His brow furled in passing as he noticed A LOT of un-touched food prepared by his Five-0 ohana and friends.
Next, his eyes were drawn to the living-room-cum-crime-scene. Danno’s gun lay on the credenza by the door – he had obviously not been expecting company, but trusted that the caller or callers did not have ill intentions. From the a kilter position of the coffee table and blood spray laced liberally between the door and the sofa – and the twelve-inch wide, deep-red stain on one of the cushions – McGarrett formulated a scenario. Danno had allowed his attacker to enter, but was quickly overcome.
Settling on the coffee table a couple feet in front of his friend, who appeared to be asleep from the backward tilt of his head on the chair and closed eyes, one of which was swelling into an impressive shiner. He placed the warm washcloth on his detective’s naked knee, eliciting a response.
“Mahalo, Steve.” To McGarrett’s relief, the officer seemed more coherent than he had been a few minutes earlier. Dan scratched his blood-caked chest before he retrieved the rag, and tiredly accepted the proffered juice. In addition to being beat up, the young man looked positively drained of energy - no surprise really, given the strong sedative coursing through Williams’ system.
“Danno – talk to me,” The senior officer’s soft tone belied the urgency he felt to know what had gone wrong here on this night.
Williams took a couple sips of juice, and looked around his living room before quietly speaking.
“Henry Michaels and two thugs stopped by to make me tell them what I did with Jane’s fortune, and some collection of something.” He took one more tug from the glass before handing it back to his boss, and positioning the wash cloth over his eyes.
McGarrett frowned, “What do you mean what you did with Jane’s fortune?”
“I guess Michaels is under the impression that I stole money from Jane,” Dan offered flatly without moving. “A lot of it.”
McGarrett’s eye brows arched. “That’s ridiculous!”
A hint of a shrug was Williams’ only non-verbal reaction. “However nuts it is, he’s going to drop me off my lanai if I don’t cough up the dough.”
“He threatened you?” The Five-0 chief was now completely outraged. “Well, it’s gonna be kinda tough from behind bars!”
Dan did not react to his friend’s angry retort. Instead, he pondered on Michaels’ accusation. “He says millions of dollars are missing.”
“I’ll take care of Michaels, Danno,” Steve assured with a light squeeze of Williams’ knee as he reached for the phone on the end table. “And you, my friend, are going to the hospital. It’s distinctly possible you have a concussion.”
“It’s like a nightmare, and I can’t wake up.” Dan murmured without any objection to the hospital reference (which alarmed McGarrett all the more).
“Don’t worry, Danno – the good thing about nightmares is that eventually daylight comes.”
McGarrett had waited with a snoozing Williams until the ambulance arrived, and once again found himself disturbed that his friend offered no resistance to being manhandled onto a stretcher and hauled off. The head of Five-0 felt marginal guilt at waking Doc Bergman (but not enough to stop him from doing it). He wanted to make sure that his officer was properly evaluated by a trusted agent who was already aware of all of the recent traumatic events.
And now, as McGarrett raced through the dark streets of Honolulu, he reviewed his scant knowledge of the adversary he was about to smash. Henry Michaels. Showing up at his daughter’s funeral with bodyguards had given Steve pause, but only in passing. The man was an international industrialist. Of course he would have enemies and, like many rich men, traveled with private protection. Now that he knew what the man was capable of, he remembered some of the rumors floating around Honolulu about their sometime-resident businessman. He was a thug. Muscling his way to wealth through power grabs and cut throat deals. He had never attached a sweet girl like Jane with Henry. She was the polar opposite of him. Maybe it was her form of coping, or rebellion, to use her inheritance for good, when her father had made it with shady ethics.
It gave him a pre-knowledge of his opponent. Henry's treatment of Danno was all the evidence needed that there was none of Jane's compassion or generosity in the man. There was only a ruthless drive to take what he thought his due. Well, on this rock, the man was going to find that McGarrett was the one who would decide what he had coming – like maybe a prison sentence for harming a Five-0 officer!
The Michaels' estate in Kahala was set off the narrow, two-lane avenue and protected by tall palm trees, thick ferns, and a tall block fence. The wrought-iron gate stretched across the wide driveway was closed and locked. A security camera and an intercom were the only access to the fortress by the sea.
McGarrett's Mercury slid to a halt just inches from the black gate, skidding on the loose dirt to the side of the cement. Dawn was a dark glow over the mounds of Koko Head crater. The quiet, sleepy neighborhood was disrupted by the growl of two squad cars which came to a stop just behind the Five-0 sedan.
Without a hint of patience, McGarrett ordered Duke Lukela and the beefy Officer Ono, first ones out of the lead blue and white HPD vehicle, to break the lock on the gate. The command was obeyed and moments later the black Mercury was leading the charge down the long drive to the palatial house near the ocean. The APB on Michaels had put the millionaire at his estate in the early hours of the morning following his assault on Williams. McGarrett crossed town with all speed.
Two huge bodyguard types emerged from the house before all four HPD officers were out of their cars. Prepared for a conflict, McGarrett drew his weapon first and ordered the men to stand down. Backed up by Lukela, Ono, and two patrolmen as big as the bodyguards, the hired protection backed off quickly, raising their hands. Although the odds were not overwhelming for the professional protectors, he thought perhaps they were more deterred by his deadly serious command and the anger that resonated in his voice and glare.
Striding through the house, he spotted the object of his rage through broad glass windows, out on the back patio. Dressed in a plush, white bathrobe, Henry Michaels appeared ready for morning coffee with an ocean view, but the sight of McGarrett rushing out, gun drawn, caused him to freeze with one hand on the back of a chair and the other on the morning paper.
"What is this?"
"Henry Michaels, you are under arrest for assault on a police officer. Raise your hands and step away from the table.” Voice tight, he approached the loathsome foe with measured steps. "Or would you like to resist? I can always offer you a taste of what you gave to an unarmed man when you beat him up this morning."
Lukela arrived and grabbed both of the man's wrists, locking them into cuffs before there was a challenge to the command.
Michaels' lip curled as he spat out, "You're an idiot if you think this is going to stick."
Taking the man by the collar, McGarrett shoved him toward the door. "Fortunately for you, we operate by a set of rules. Even for scum like you."
Michaels shook his head. "I'll be out in an hour and I'll have your badge by lunchtime! You and that crook Williams. You have no idea who you're dealing with. If you arrest me the whole dirty mess will come out about your officer!"
Steve stabbed him with a finger to the chest. "Are you threatening me?"
Michaels' bluster waivered. "Everyone will know he's a crook!"
"If you had any evidence of that, you would have offered it to the proper authorities. In fact, I am the authority, and I didn't see that come across my desk. So whatever obscene game you’re playing with your dead daughter’s money is going to come out, Michaels!”
McGarrett subdued his rage at the wretched attitude. His confidence in the authority of his position and office provided a righteous dominance that made him appreciate that this fool had no idea how pathetic his words rang and harmonized with the falsity of his character. So many had come and gone with the idea of being beyond the law because of their cunning, their station, their riches, or their lofty plans for self-aggrandizement. Most of them fell under the weighty leveler of all -- justice. Some were able to find a loophole and slip their way free of the law, but not many. At least not when McGarrett had them in his sights.
Michaels might be able to dodge the full measure the legal system could offer because of his money and notoriety. And it was distinctly possible – as distasteful as the thought was to the senior Five-0 detective – the thug might be in jail for only a few hours for his heinous treatment of Dan Williams. He would, however, most certainly pay a measure of discomfort and humiliation for his act. If nothing else, this served to show anyone coming into McGarrett's beat that mistreating one of his officers would not be tolerated and would not go unpunished. Petty? Steve called it merited.
"I think you're the one who has no idea who you are dealing with," McGarrett replied threateningly. "This is my rock, mister. You've beaten up one my officers. A man who is well respected and popular with HPD. And they’re going to be as angry about your violence as I am. I hope you have a good time in lock up as a guest of the penal system of Hawaii."
The pale, anxious expression was a sweet reward. McGarrett savored it as Officer Ono was less than delicate in his handling of the millionaire and shoving him toward the front door. Breathing in deep lungs-full of sea air, McGarrett stood there and felt the rage melt a little. This would take the guy down a notch or two and, while he would be safe enough in jail, McGarrett wanted him to squirm for a while.
Still livid with the father of the murdered girl, he knew he had done all he could for Danno on this count. His friend's precarious emotional state, however, was not as easily fixed. Slapping the cuffs on a perpetrator, throwing them in jail and walking away was a tangible and satisfying conclusion. Now Danno needed closure as well. Jane's murderer was in jail. The funeral was over. Michaels would be dealt with. What else could he do to help Danno mend?
As Steve strode back to his car, the echo of Michaels’ adamant denials rang in his ears. He was insistent that Danno stole money and a priceless collection from Jane. Despite how ridiculous the charges, they had to be based on something. He needed to find out more about the funds and the goods before the governor called to rail at him for arresting a very wealthy contributor to his political agendas. Under the circumstances, he thought Jameson would understand.
Before heading to the Palace, McGarrett stopped by Queens to check on his second, and was pleased to see his friend deep in the throes of IV-introduced sedation. Bergman confirmed Williams’ generally-battered and depleted condition. X-rays revealed no broken bones, but the medical man could not rule out a concussion given the officer’s rough ride over his furniture. Bergman promised that the patient would not awaken for several hours, and crankily noted that he would appreciate a round of the same sedative for himself. The crusty – and sleep-deprived – medico did indicate that the assaulted officer would be allowed to go home that evening only if no further contraindications revealed themselves during the course of the day.
McGarrett left the hospital feeling a measure better knowing Danno was getting top-notch medical care in addition to much-needed sleep. He made a note to have Jenny cancel a dinner meeting with the HPD Chief of Police – collecting his second-in-command and getting him settled at home would be a top priority this evening.
When he returned to the Palace, it was still early, but nearing normal work hours. Intimately aware of the scheduling at Washington Place, the governor’s residence across the street from the Capitol Building, he took some time to formulate a plan while being productive. Shuffling through dreaded paperwork for a time, McGarrett allowed the clues, the bits of conversations, the observation of principle players in the dramas of the last week to run though his mind. Satisfied he had a solid theory and a good strategy for nailing down the truth, he moved forward. Retrieving the private phone list in his desk drawer, he dialed a number he rarely used. When a familiar female voice answered, he took a deep breath.
"Good morning, Mary, this is Steve."
"Oh, Steve, good morning. How are you? And how is Danny doing?"
"I’m fine, thank you, and Danno is—uh – well -- as well as can be expected," he responded, forcing it out with a civility that was strained. While his tone was calm, the composure was on a tight leash. "As a matter of fact, he’s the reason I'm calling you. I was wondering if you have time to fit me into your calendar this morning. I have something we need to discuss."
"Oh. Really. Uh, well, yes, of course, Steve. Shall we plan on tea at eleven?"
Glancing at the clock, a growl built deep in his throat, but he gulped it down. He didn’t want to wait that long, but the First Lady of the State had numerous obligations, and this – while urgent in his opinion – was not a hair-on-fire emergency.
"Eleven is fine," he coolly accepted. "Thank you, and I have one more request, if I may be so bold.”
“Of course, Steve. What is it?”
“Is it possible that I can persuade you to invite Dora Bergman, Millie Stuart, and Sally Gregson as well? That is of course if their busy schedules permit.” He knew the request was a not-so-subtle indictment of the Matchmakers’ Club, but he needed to get to the bottom of this for the sake of his friend – and frankly possibly his friend’s safety after Michaels was released on bail.
Only a brief pause ensued before Mrs. Jameson agreed.
By ten-forty he was walking over to the old, colonial-styled house resting under the shade of a magnificent awning of huge trees. The American and Hawaiian flags fluttered in the gentle morning breeze, making it a quaint picture of a bygone era set against the dramatic tones of blue sky, cottony white clouds and green, lush mountains behind the city.
Greeted by the butler, Kalei, he was directed to the downstairs lanai in the back. Opening onto a charming garden and manicured lawns, the covered deck was set with Victorian/tropical furnishings of white rattan. China and silver place settings were already on the table.
Standing by the railing near the stairs that led down the rear path, Mary Jameson stood in a muted, pastel Hawaiian print dress. A lovely woman with salt and pepper hair in a short bob, her usually-pleasant and friendly face was stiff with anxiety. Steve noted the three other expected guests, Millie Stuart, Dora Bergman, and Sally Gregson gathered on the wide lanai, each adorned with equally-pensive expressions.
McGarrett greeted all of the women cordially, and was asked to take a seat at the table. After tea was poured and scones and muffins were placed within easy reach on the table, Kalei was dismissed. Steve made no attempt to take any tea or refreshments. Nor did any of the women make a move. They were all waiting for him to start. The tension was palpable, and it gave his mind the necessary jolt to make a final, mental arrangement of his interrogation.
“Danno and I never discussed this, and I suspect that his perspective would be somewhat different – say, from that of the fly rather than from that of the all-knowing spider.” All four women cringed visibly as McGarrett finished formulating his question.
“How DID Danno fall into a relationship with Miss Michaels?”
The tale emanated from Dora, Millie, and Mary in tag-team fashion. One would say something, and another would add information. They explained that they worked with Jane on several committees and just knew she would be perfect for Danny. Arranging “chance” meetings several times, they were surprised when Danny rejected the sweet girl. Finally, he took the bait and asked her out on a real date. Then Jane's natural appeal worked its magic.
McGarrett sat there, privately annoyed at the matchmaking plots around which he and his second-in-command routinely danced. Before he could inquire further Sally – who had not contributed to the earlier confession – made an inquiry.
“How is poor Danny?" I’m afraid I embarrassed him at the funeral.”
McGarrett was not willing to lie about that, but chose not to address the events which transpired at the funeral. “Danno was admitted to Queen’s Hospital early this morning after Henry Michaels and his thugs paid him a visit and beat him senseless.”
All four women gasped and exchanged horrified expressions, but McGarrett pressed on. “He accused Danno of stealing Miss Michael’s money and a valuable collection of some sort.”
Gregson’s expression and sudden loss of color told McGarrett that he’d hit pay dirt. Several small gasps and varying expressions of stricken alarm rippled around the group.
"How badly was he injured?" Millie whispered, both hands covering her mouth.
“Some blood loss, but no broken bones.” The detective did not have any compulsion to reassure the women immediately. As a matter of fact, he felt like regaling them with the horrific details of how he found poor Danno bloody and curled up by his toilet, torn between the call of powerful sleeping pills and the need to stop the blood flowing from his nose.
“I don’t know Mr. Michaels very well, but I can’t believe he’s capable of doing that! He’s always seemed so polite and good humored.” Jameson breathed quietly.
“His good humor and courtesy left quite a bloody aftermath in Danno’s apartment,” the detective responded through clenched teeth.
“That’s what got Niles out of bed this morning,” Dora looked away. “He didn’t wake me.”
McGarrett narrowed his eyes and pierced Gregson.
“Sally – you wouldn’t happen to know anything about Jane's missing money or some collection, would you?”
The young woman was overtly contrite and upset, and reached for a nearby napkin to worry.
“Let’s have it – the whole story,” McGarrett commanded, zeroing in on the youngest woman with laser-like anger. “Where did Henry Michaels come up with this idea that Danno stole Jane's money and her property?"
Tentatively, Sally edged away from him. Tears were pooling in the corners of her eyes.
“Danny has the money AND the collection – he just doesn’t know it,” she started. “It was all part of a plan.”
The three older women were visibly surprised and dismayed at the revelation.
“A plan?” The officer leaned forward, ready to absorb the confession.
She turned to the others and told them that Jane was deeply in love with Danny, but that he did not yet reciprocate the feelings. He was hung up about the different incomes, and was dedicated to work. To even out the financial situation, Jane and she devised a plan.
Recalling the woman’s very emotional outburst at the funeral, McGarrett grew wary that she might break down again. To his relief, an unproductive display of tears did not happen. She merely continued twisting the cloth napkin.
"Jane hired my accountant so her father and his people wouldn't know about it. She took two million from her trust fund and created a joint Swiss account for her and Danny."
McGarrett reeled back in his chair.
"She what!" he shouted.
Soft cries of distress circled around from the others.
Livid with barely restrained fury, he demanded, "What – how could you be so stupid!"
Dissolving in tears, Sally struggled to explain. Shaking his head, McGarrett leaped from the chair and paced, hoping the activity would take him away from the impulse to throttle the idiotic young woman!
Sally pressed on, and revealed that, over the course of months, Jane had given Williams a priceless collection of rare jade carvings from the Ming Dynasty. They were treasures she had collected in her world travels with her grandparents. She felt if Danny had them in his possession, along with part of her trust fund, they would be on an equal financial footing. With that obstacle out of the way, she was determined to start working on lessening his dependence on his job. Sally cast a quick, guilty look at McGarrett, then rushed on, saying Jane was clearing the way to get a proposal early next year. She was certain she could change him and lure him away from being a policeman.
“This stunt could’ve cost Danno his security clearance – a Swiss bank account with a large sum of money sitting in it, AND NO income tax records to explain it!” McGarrett continued pacing as he stroked his forehead – a headache was creeping to the surface of his scalp.
Millie clucked her tongue and sputtered, "Do you have any idea of the legal implications of this to Danny?" she snapped. Leaning forward in her chair, she continued, "This could end the career of an officer! How could the two of you think this was a harmless game of cupid?"
Sally shook her head, but managed to maintain control as the verbal onslaught from all sides continued.
"And Danny was beaten because of this?” Dora was appalled. "I don't know Henry Michaels, but he sounds like a criminal to me. It's fortunate he wanted information or Danny might be dead!"
At this, Steve winced, thinking the same thing, but finding a sliver of compassion for Sally, who had been a well-meaning co-conspirator to her friend's wishes of love fulfillment. It seemed a modern-day cautionary tale of why mixing up love potions is a bad idea. You never knew how they would backfire. While feeling sorry for Sally, he was still enraged at her. Good intentions or not, she had endangered his best friend's life.
Mary summed it up. In her stately manner, typical of the elegant aplomb she graciously exhibited as first lady of the state, as the helpmate of the distinguished and refined governor, she glared at Sally. With an almost majestic pose, her body language radiated a disapproving air.
"You two were very silly little rich girls," she intoned sharply. “Jane decides she is in love with a young man who is honest enough to tell her that he does not return her affections. Then the two of you plot like school girls to manipulate him!"
Steve flinched at the icy, condemning voice that sliced through the morning with the sharp blade of truth. He was livid with Jane’s and Sally's machinations, but he knew the rebuke was like a whip on the tender flesh of the grieving. To her credit, the chastised recipient took it in silence, straightening her spine and looking Mary directly in the eyes.
Mrs. Jameson softened only marginally, "I hope you've learned a lesson from this.”
Nodding vigorously, Sally agreed that she had. No more meddling. The older women had mercilessly nailed it – the appearance, or even implication, of an inappropriate or illegal act in his line of work could ruin a career, or end a life.
Moments of silence froze the scene. Birds chirped in the trees, traffic rumbled distantly, breeze gusts rustled the trees. No one moved except McGarrett, who was still shaking his head. Even he had not guessed the depth to which the conspiracy went, or the ultimate end result. Adding selfish atop unimaginable, Michaels would’ve willed the purported love of her life to leave a profession for which he had such a gift, and loved so much… His stomach flinched at the thought that anyone would want to manipulate and control a person in the name of love. He could not fathom it. If she had loved Danno so much, why did she want to change him?
One more mystery came to the Five-0 chief’s mind. He stopped pacing and tightly gripped the back of a nearby chair to face Sally.
“The jade collection – how is it that Danno does not know he has it?”
“I’m not certain, but I’m under the impression that he doesn’t know what they are.”
McGarrett’s eye brows shot upward momentarily, but he said nothing as he wondered whether the priceless figurines had been dropped into a box with dozens of other silly, romantic little gifts Danno had received from women – teddy bears, too-cute, girly knick knacks, unmanly ties, etc…
Staring at the cloud shadows playing across the distant mountains, Steve took a deep breath to bring his scorched emotions under control. "I know you meant no harm, but we have a problem that we have to fix.”
Gregson nodded fervently, with supporting affirmations from the other women, as the detective laid out instructions.
“Sally, you need to work with my office to provide all the information you have regarding the bank account Danno does not know he has.” Turning to Mrs. Jameson, McGarrett softened his brusque tone. “Mary, I MAY require some assistance in setting Henry Michaels straight with regard to the facts in this case. I understand that he’s a major contributor, and has some social ties with you.”
“I would not call him a close friend, but he has been to our home for dinner a few times. Paul and I will assist with him in whatever way we can, Steve,” Mary confirmed. “Of course, he’ll have to face any legal ramifications of assaulting a police officer.”
“He’s facing them now at HPD,” the detective confirmed grimly.
Dora stood, and approached McGarrett. “Steve, we’re so sorry for Danny. Let us know if there’s anything we can do.”
The officer responded with a nod, and Mary walked him to the door. Placing a gentle hand on his coat sleeve, Mrs. Jameson advised, "Let time run its course. Healing will come."
With a nod of silent agreement, McGarrett left. On the walk back to the Palace, he appreciated the time to physically stretch. The sun baking his skin, the scent of the ocean on the wind, the bright day clearing the morning mists, gave freshness to his bleak soul. The truth could be painful and dark, but there would be healing, cleansing and mending after the wound. In comparison to many of his experiences, this was a relatively simple fix as far as the crime went. It was the emotional upheaval that would take time for Danno and all of them to deal with. But they would prevail. Just as the sun burned out the morning clouds, they would triumph. Eventually. That was the trick. There was no such thing as instant healing.
It was lunchtime when McGarrett returned to the office. Sally Gregson showed up in the early afternoon with the bank account paperwork, which made Dan a wealthy man. Chin and Jenny eyed the young woman distastefully as McGarrett brushed over the stark facts of the case with them. He instructed Chin to contact Walter Stuart, the now-retired former Attorney General, for legal advice on the best way to proceed (He was fairly certain that the man would be in the loop in short order given that his wife had the inside track on the details.).
The rest of the work day was overloaded with meetings and calls on his own calendar as well as numerous tasks from what would’ve been Williams’ packed day. He’d forgotten how much of the workload his second-in-command had lifted from his shoulders when he came on board. The memory always came back with a vengeance when Danno was not able to execute his duties. Never far from his thoughts though, was the revealing conversation with the Matchmakers’ Club. Each time the errant memory erupted, he had a flash of anger that his friend was being subjected to this additional un-necessary trauma on top of an already tragic situation.
By the time he leaned back in his chair to take a break, it was almost five PM. Chin left for home right after reporting that the story with the money was just as Sally had told it. Danny and Jane were listed as joint tenants of a substantially endowed savings account with full right of survivorship, meaning that the death of one joint tenant automatically transferred the full balance of the account to the survivor. All Williams needed to do to access the funds was to present the proper identification. Exactly what his friend would decide to do with the money was entirely up to him.
Reluctant to jump to the next phase of this horrible game of Truth or Consequences, he steeled himself for the inevitable. Sometimes being the flag bearer for honesty had a down side. Today was it. How was he going to minimize further fracture of his friend’s already-wounded emotions? He wasn’t sure, but knew that Danno would want the facts sooner rather than later. It was bad enough that he was going to be the last one to know that he had been the victim of a campaign of subterfuge.
The senior detective grabbed his jacket and headed out the door to Queens Hospital, where he hoped his friend was feeling up to going home. As he jogged down the wide Koa wood staircase which graced the large center hall of the Palace, he acknowledged Kono coming through the front door.
“Boss!” The Hawaiian detective’s expression was deadly serious as he approached to within whispering range of the lead detective. “Michaels made bail an hour ago.”
“An HOUR ago!” McGarrett shouted as his thoughts raced to his paramount concern with that fact. “Michaels doesn’t know that Danno wasn’t involved with the missing trust fund monies yet!”
Kono followed his boss’s train of thought as the two men accelerated their pace out the door. “You think he’d try to hurt Danny again?”
“I have no doubt that he’s mad enough! Let’s go!”
Dan yawned, leaned his head back against the pillow, then popped back upright, forcing his eyes to open. Steve was due here any moment – or at least that’s what he recalled the nurse telling him. Anxious to leave the hospital, Dan was propped on top of the covers on his bed dressed in hospital scrubs – the scant clothing in which he’d entered the facility were bloody and deemed to be unsalvageable. Despite several hours of much-needed black sleep under his belt, the officer was still drowsy. The pain from the beating was under control with whatever painkillers Doc had loaded him with during his slumber, and a side effect was – he suspected in passing – lethargy.
Eyes closed again, he wished his mental clarity would return enough to ponder Michaels’ mysterious accusation and the senseless beating he’d endured…
Suddenly aware that he had dozed off again, he was startled by the very-annoying creak of the door. He fully expected to see Steve standing over him as he opened his eyes, but was shocked - no, horrified as the visage of Henry Michaels and his two henchmen pressed close to him. He gasped in alarm, and started to cry for help.
Moving quicker than the sluggish officer, the brutes grabbed his arms with stunning force, and shoved a pillow in his face to cover his shouts.
"I made a promise to you, Williams,” Michaels hissed into the officer’s ear. “Your balcony isn’t particularly convenient at the moment, but the roof of this building is!”
With a nod from his boss, one of the thugs removed the pillow and instantly ploughed a fist into Dan's jaw, dazing him, leaving his mouth numb, and his head reeling. Ripping off the pillowcase, he tore a strip from it, stuffed a wad of the cloth deep into Dan’s mouth and skillfully used the strip to secure the gag. The other muscle-bound shadow used another pillowcase to tie Dan's hands behind his back with the same technique.
“The only way you get to live through the next few minutes is if I walk outta here knowing where the jade is!”
Jade – why was Michaels asking about jade? Dan still had no clue what the mad man was talking about! Thoughts muddled from hits to the head, and the gag rammed down his throat making breathing a chore did not give the hapless officer any viable way to respond.
"Okay, sport – you only have a couple minutes to change your mind. Then you're going head first into the Hawaiian dirt. That won't get me the jade or my money back, but I'll have a whole lot of satisfaction knowing you paid the price for coming up against me!"
With one more painful punch to the jaw, Dan lost his battle with consciousness.
Anxiety pressed McGarrett's stride into a brisk jog through the corridors of the hospital, and Kono kept pace with his boss. Initially concerned that there was a commotion at the nurse's station, the Five-0 chief relaxed marginally as he heard some verbiage about a lost post-surgical patient. In changing rooms, the man had been in the hall one minute and gone the next. That was one mystery Steve was not interested in solving. In fact, it would serve as a nice distraction so he could whisk Danno out of here without any complications from hovering medical personnel.
Barreling into the appropriate room, the two detectives stopped as soon as they entered. McGarrett fully expected to have his concerns about Michaels paying his friend a second visit realized, – but after a brief analysis of the situation – he and the Hawaiian detective exchanged relieved looks. He had thought Danno might be up and anxious to leave, but the covered figure in the bed indicated his friend had gone back to sleep! Not a huge surprise really, given the exhaustion and recent physical trauma his officer had experienced… Maybe it was a mistake to take him home so soon? Hesitantly, he approached the bed.
He touched the covered shoulder and gave a slight nudge. A groan came from the patient. "Danno.” McGarrett gently pulled the sheet, and gasped as an older, dark-haired man in a hospital gown was revealed!
“Auwe!” Kono nearly shouted!
The senior detective was dashing to the door even as his agile brain worked through the clues, clicking them into place in a complete, viable and horrifying theory. Rushing down the corridor, he tagged the first nurse he saw and let her know with a running shout that the missing patient was in the room he just left! Racing on, he skidded to a halt, causing Kono to nearly bowl him over. At the end of the hallway the pair had nearly missed an empty hospital bed blocking the door to the stairwell.
Now in full-blown panic, McGarrett knew that if the suspects were able to leave the building with their victim, Danno would most certainly pay with his life! The men covered the distance to the stairwell in a few seconds, and shoved the gurney out of the way. As they started down the steps, McGarrett’s thoughts caught up to his observant mind while he validated their current course of action. An echo of Henry Michaels' threat that he would throw Danno off his lanai leapt out of the cacophony of possibilities and brought him to a sudden stop, the end result being a collision with the much larger officer immediately behind him.
“Boss! What are ya doin’?” Kono exclaimed as he clutched the railing, and tried to regain his balance.
“They went to the roof!”
“What?” The big Hawaiian was completely perplexed as McGarrett spun with the agility of a cat and slipped past him to take the stairs upward two and three at a time.
Heart in his throat, he drew his revolver as he slammed against the door and out into the bright Hawaiian sunlight. The knot of men at the edge of the roof froze his blood. Danno was more than half-way over the edge, with Michaels gripping him by the hair, the two thugs holding onto his shoulders as they manhandled him toward the empty air beyond the brink.
"Don't any one of you move!"
They did. All turned to stare at the Five-0 cop.
Certainty of intent lending his voice a deadly tone, the senior detective ordered, "Not one more move! If you do anything that I deem a threat to Detective Williams, I WILL kill you. All three of you if necessary!”
Kono burst onto the roof breathing heavily, and aimed his weapon in the direction of the suspects as his boss continued shouting instructions.
“Ease Williams onto the roof and away from the edge! Very, very slowly! "
The thugs complied, lifting Dan’s limp, bound form onto the gravel-and-black-topped surface, taking a step away, and raising their hands. Obviously, they were not willing to die for their boss. The livid Michaels, glaring at McGarrett, stubbornly refused to give up and would not release his hold on Williams’ hair.
“Your boy here stole—” The angry industrialist started, but was summarily cut off by the Five-0 chief.
“My BOY is innocent! I know what happened,” Steve interrupted with a growl as he and Kono slowly approached the criminals and their victim. "If you want to make a move and die needlessly, go ahead. It will be my pleasure to kill you after what you've done to him."
The resolve was a bitter pill, but convincing enough for the rich man. He snarled, but let go of Williams, who dropped into a heap at the man’s feet.
Remaining vigilant as all of the men were ordered into face-down, spread-eagle positions on the roof and Kono ensured that none of the men were armed, McGarrett knelt beside his detective and cringed at the intense nose bleed being partially absorbed by the cloth wrapped tightly across the victim’s face. He untied his friend, and gently tugged the gag from his throat. A quick triage revealed that Danno’s split lip had been re-opened from the rough treatment, and it looked like he might now have TWO shiners, in addition to more scrapes.
He held the younger officer against his shoulder until the blue eyes fluttered open.
"You're safe," McGarrett assured quietly as he pressed the pillow case bindings against Williams’ nose in an attempt to staunch the blood flow.
Taking in full gulps of air, Williams nodded cautiously.
"Steve," he whispered hoarsely, remaining still in McGarrett's steadying hold. “I don’t understand…”
The injured man did not finish the sentence, but it wasn’t necessary. The head of Five-0 knew full well that his second was completely unaware of the facts which in some small measure, made sense of the harm which had been inflicted upon him.
Williams’ eye lids slipped shut and his breathing slowed, as McGarrett promised, “Soon, aikane, soon…”
Dan’s roof-top experience earned him one more night at Queen’s before Doc Bergman would discharge him. Williams had been – to McGarrett’s great concern – nearly listless since the incident, and he fervently hoped that getting him back home to recuperate would help his friend’s mood.
The drive from the hospital was made in silence, with McGarrett throwing surreptitious, but piercing looks in his passenger’s direction. It was more than apparent that Danno was physically and mentally miserable. After one bumpy ride through a pot hole caused his friend to groan, the driver took extra care to proceed smoothly – not his typical modus operandi when behind the wheel of a vehicle.
As the pair rode the elevator up, McGarrett was glad he’d thought to pick up a meal BEFORE collecting Williams since Danno was clearly not up to any stops.
His lip twitched in sympathy as he watched his friend gingerly settle onto his sofa while he pulled sandwiches out and placed them on plates. The food tasted wonderful to the Five-0 chief, and his stomach appreciated being fuelled, but he had less interest in the meal than observing his battered second-in-command. Conversation was almost non-existent.
Danno made an effort to eat, managing perhaps a quarter of the sandwich, and a half glass of mango/pineapple juice, wincing occasionally from some movement-induced pain. Afterwards, Steve cleared away the food, reminding Dan that there were plenty of leftovers.
McGarrett returned to the sofa a few minutes later, took a seat next to him, and held out a glass of water and two red pills. Dan balked, but Steve insisted. It was time to take something to ease the soreness and help him sleep.
Williams had broached the subject of Henry Michaels’ inexplicably aggressive behavior in the hours after he awakened, but McGarrett deflected the question, wanting to get him settled at home before breaking the news. Knowing it would be a bit before the medication took effect, and feeling like he was taking the coward's way out, he plunged into what he had been dreading for hours.
Dan gave him a steady stare. "Something’s on your mind – and I hope it’s whatever you’ve been trying to avoid telling me. Give."
His friend knew him too well… Nodding, McGarrett took a deep breath. Levelly, with an even tone and a flinty heart, he recounted the intelligence gleaned from his meeting at Washington Place. Explaining about the plot between Sally and Jane, then the bank accounts and the ploy to entrap him, he gently laid out the facts. Taking in the news initially with surprise, then a tinge of anger when Steve revealed the full depth and breadth of the plan, Dan’s reaction was far more subdued than McGarrett expected.
Danno's typical incendiary flare of impulsive fury had not happened. Generally the younger detective would be engulfed in a level of hurt or resentment, but eventually come down from the spike of emotion. Instead, there was almost no sign of a reaction. There was a momentary hint of a deep, smoldering bitterness, but very quickly, a tough, neutral shield was in place.
"Danno, say something."
Flinching, Dan smoothed out his expression again. "I don't know what to say, Steve. It's all pretty – I don't know. I guess I'm having trouble just… just getting it." He shook his head, and immediately regretted the pain it generated, but still finished his thought. “At least I know why Michaels wanted to beat me to death.”
“Yeah – well, he’s now officially charged with attempted murder in addition to assault on a police officer,” McGarrett growled.
Dan nodded again before leaning his head on the sofa and closing his eyes.
"Mahalo, Steve, for everything. I don’t think I could get through this without you. "
"Anything I can do for you, anytime, you know I will, Danno. We’ll get back to business as usual soon."
Without lifting his head, Dan nodded, settling more comfortably onto the cushions and stretching out as much as his bruised body would allow. McGarrett patted his arm, then moved away, quietly exiting the apartment. Business as usual. Why did he feel like that was an empty wish? Something about Danno's attitude was bothering him, but he didn’t know what, and he was not entirely certain he knew how to find out if Danno himself would not tell him.
Jenny scrutinized the un-touched sandwich on the desk in Williams’ office, and sighed. This was Danny’s tenth work day back on the job after his recuperation, and he STILL was not taking in enough food to sustain himself. AND to top it off, the normally-cheerful officer seemed to be in a perpetually-surly mood.
Collecting the plate, she narrowed her eyes and marched purposefully through her boss’s open door, where she knew all of the detectives were congregated. The head of Five-0 was seated at his desk going through the items in his IN box. The other three detectives were studying a large street map, which was rolled flat on a table in the corner. With Williams’ un-enthusiastically-sampled lunch plate in one hand, and the other one on her hip, she decided to vent her frustration with the second-in-command of the unit.
“Danny Williams!” Her tone was loud and accusing, startling all of the officers, who snapped their attention in her direction.
“You didn’t eat your lunch AGAIN today!” She wagged the sandwich in his direction. “You’re losing weight that you do NOT need to lose!”
“I am not!” Dan retorted defensively. “And I did eat lunch yesterday!”
“Hmmm, no, bruddah, you didn’t,” Kono chimed in. “I ate your sweet-n-sour pork after you said you didn’t want it.”
Leveling a narrow glare at the Hawaiian detective, Williams snapped, “Okay, so what if I skipped lunch! Whose business is that! Besides, I had dinner a few hours later!”
“But you didn’t eat much then, if I recall, Danno.” McGarrett’s hands were now folded on top of his desk as he suddenly took a focused interest in the topic. Dan’s gaze turned to his boss as the too-observant man continued. “Juice, coffee, a couple bites of chicken, and then you pushed the green beans around until the waiter brought out the macadamia nut ice cream, which your spoon never touched. I was there – remember now?”
McGarrett had heard the petite woman badger his officer several times about his eating habits over the course of the past several days. One mildly-heated exchange on his second’s first day back to work stuck in his mind.
“Uh… Jenny,” Williams frowned into the cup she’d just handed him.
The woman turned, eyes narrow, expecting the detective’s consternation. She was going to make him say it anyway.
“What’s with my coffee?”
“It’s cream – you need the calories,” she snapped.
“There’s a whole cow in here!” Dan objected.
“Women drink black coffee when they’re on diets – you do NOT need to lose any more weight!”
“For Pete’s sake! Can’t I—”
“No! It’s THAT or Kool-Aid!!”
McGarrett – busy in the extreme that day – had paid the incident little attention, and he regretted it now. He wasn’t sure whether Danno drank the coffee or not – it seemed like he had accepted the beverage grudgingly. A week-plus had passed, and the Five-0 chief had yet to ascertain the source of his second’s moodiness and lack of appetite.
Williams blinked, and then looked slowly around the room at the expressions on the faces of his colleagues. They were all against him.
“What is this? I’m fine, and considering how much work there is to do, I don’t see why we’re wasting time standing around examining what I put into my mouth!”
“You’re NOT fine, Danny!” The secretary snapped.
“I’m doing my job! I’m not four years old – I’ll decide if and when I want to eat!”
Jenny looked ready to cry as she stepped to the big desk and set the plate down. “Boss?”
“And now, you’re telling on me to Steve? I can’t believe we’re talking about this!” Dan took a few steps closer to the desk, clearly hovering between chagrin and anger.
McGarrett considered the upset woman for a few seconds before zeroing in on his second-in-command again. “Eat the sandwich, Danno – now!”
Williams’ eye brows climbed towards his hairline, and remained there for a few seconds, before he ended up ignoring what he’d said earlier about who would decide if and when he ate. Scowling, he came forward, grabbed half of the turkey sandwich and took a bite, chewing grudgingly as he turned back to the table.
“Geez! Fine, I’m eating the sandwich!”
The Five-0 chief watched his friend quietly for several minutes after the secretary left and everyone’s focus had returned to police work. This was more than a debate about a sandwich. While his detectives quietly studied the map and discussed the logistics of tailing a suspect, McGarrett covertly scrutinized his second-in-command. Jenny was right, as she was frequently. The feminine perspective had shed new light on the uncomfortable observations dancing in the back of his mind.
Jane's murder… The investigation and Gregson’s capture… The funeral… The midnight assault… The hospital incident… AND THEN the shocking revelation of the manipulative plot from such an unexpected source as the disarming Miss Michaels. That string of events would be enough to rock the most mentally sound of individuals. There were subtle signs completely missed by McGarrett. Disappointed in himself – he was after all a former NI investigator, the head of a police agency, an outstanding, trained observer, and, most importantly, the closest friend of the man in question. How had he missed the underlying clues shouting from the wounded Williams?
Concerned with the big picture, of course, he could be forgiven, he supposed, when the case had officially closed. Gregson apprehended, the money transfers and conniving manipulation of two rich girls exposed and untangled. Williams exonerated of any wrong-doing. Henry Michaels up on charges.
All the while, Danno seemed to return to normal relatively quickly. At least from what Steve observed. He now realized he had seen only what he wanted to see. Danno was back at work, taking care of the usual strained and busy schedule of police duties at Five-0. He’d heard a mild grumble or two from the staff about his second’s churlish mood, but it was said often enough about McGarrett himself that the mutterings held no significance.
Steve had intended to keep a closer eye on his younger friend for a few days after his return to work, but it was difficult, given the heavy workload and hectic pace. In retrospect, he recognized that Williams had a decided lack of enthusiasm for anything and everything – a sure sign that Danno was off his game. The deciding factor was that the officer had apparently been snapping at Jenny!
The three detectives across the room turned to stand in front of his desk. Uncharacteristically, Danno was in the back, his gaze distantly centered at some point on the horizon, out the open lanai window.
"We got it all covered," Chin hesitantly started. He glanced at Williams for a comment. When none, was forthcoming, he finished, "You want to get HPD alerted?"
Before responding, McGarrett allowed the silence to become awkward. He was hoping his second would notice, but only the other two detectives seemed to be aware, glancing uncomfortably over their shoulders a couple of times and exchanging furtive looks.
Finally, the Five-0 chief – to the overt relief of the other two ATTENTIVE detectives – broke the stillness. "You go ahead, Chin. Kono, you help him. Danno and I need to talk."
Possibly the firm tone. Maybe the recent blow up with Jenny. Whatever it was, the other detectives were savvy enough to know they needed to clear this space and left with some alacrity, closing the door behind them. Likewise alerted, Williams gave him a wary glance and did not approach the desk. The strain between them was undeniable. How could he not have noticed this separation before?
"Sorry, Steve. I shouldn't have snapped like that."
Nodding, McGarrett moved to sit on the corner of the desk. He was taking this on instinct. This was not the time to shout at the repentant detective. Seeing a clear path, he trod carefully, and with more patience than he felt.
"No," he agreed. "Snapping at the staff around here is my job."
The lack of expression on the younger man's face indicated he didn't know quite how to respond. Good. He needed Danno to be slightly off-guard and thinking. He allowed the uncomfortable silence to fill the room again, this time to bursting. Then he gave a nod of his head in dismissal.
"Why don't you go give Chin and Kono a hand?"
Mutely, Dan gave a return nod of acknowledgement and left the room.
Closing the door from his boss’s office, Dan then stood motionless, hand still touching the knob. He’d treated Jenny atrociously all because she was concerned for his health. He didn’t deserve the priceless friends who were trying to support him through… through whatever was happening to him. The secretary acknowledged his presence near her desk with a glance, but continued fussing with the inked ribbon in the typewriter.
“Jenny,” Williams started quietly.
The petite woman pulled her lightly-inked fingers from inside the typewriter and froze, but her eyes remained focused on the machine. Her injured feelings were obvious to Dan, and made him regret his irrational lashing out all the more.
“Here, let me help you,” the officer moved closer, gently hauling her to her feet before taking a seat at the desk. She allowed the act, and took a tissue from the box on her desk to wipe the black smudges from her fingers while watching Williams untwist the ribbon. He worked silently and took less than a minute to correct the problem with the off-track tape before spinning the chair around to face her and accept a proffered tissue. Her lower lip quivered, and Dan thought his heart was going to burst with guilt. He wrapped his arms around her waist, and hugged her tightly, his face buried in her side. She hugged back.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered.
“What’s wrong, honey?” the secretary cried.
“I don’t know,” Dan shook his head slightly. “I just… I feel… I don’t know.”
Kono and Chin appeared from one of the offices, and made eye contact with Jenny, who shook her head and ran her hand over the officer’s hair.
“It’ll be alright – you’ve been through a lot lately.”
McGarrett turned and with a closed fist pounded the French doors open. Stalking out to his private lanai overlooking the state Capitol, he leaned on the white railing of the Palace and pummeled a fist on the surface. Business people ambled to and from the state offices. Tourists meandered with cameras and guide books. Life as usual in paradise. Even the perfect temperature and sunny sky, the gliding white clouds and the whispering palms seemed to announce that all was well. Steve had been lulled into complacency. Aggravated at his inability to detect Danno's slowness at returning to normal, he paced, filled with irritation, remorse and an element of guilt.
Danno had been through so much. Jane's loss. Stunning abuse and accusations. Threat to his professional career. Betrayal. In retrospect it seemed ridiculous that any one person could go through all of that without help. Real assistance. Not just the stoic, John Wayne tough-guy-fix that McGarrett himself adhered to and expected from the rest of his staff as well. No, this was going to require something more than Steve could offer with dinners, sailing, and sticking close to his friend. No matter. He was willing to do anything for Danno. Anything. Even arranging for a heart-wrenching remedy.
When Williams returned from HPD he was surprised to see the outer office of Five-0 was empty. Glancing at his watch to confirm what he already knew – but could not easily accept – was that it was nearing Six PM. Losing track of time was one of the many little quirks that he saw in himself with a kind of third-person hindsight.
Likewise, after doing something careless or thoughtless, he acknowledged he knew better, then took no steps to correct his behavior. Such had been the case over the past week or two. He’d lost his temper on numerous occasions, regretted it almost immediately, and then went on-to lose his temper again a short while later…
Like the incident with Jenny in Steve's office. The chagrin at his actions had stayed with him the rest of the day. And Steve’s reaction –an atypically-quiet and damning indictment had burned in his mind and heart for hours. Would it be enough to prevent his ire from flaring up again and scorching some innocent bystander? He truly hoped so since he didn’t know how much of this nonsense the people around him would take before they jettisoned him.
There was light streaming from below the door of McGarrett's office. The late evening sun slipping down to the horizon shed its burning glow over Honolulu in the last dying moments of day. Of course, Steve was still here – because his second-in-command had not been pulling his weight lately. More guilt made his stomach ache.
Knocking, Dan stepped into his boss's office and came to a complete and immediate stop on the threshold. McGarrett was not behind the desk. Instead, Martha Bishop, psychiatrist, was seated on the sofa near the lanai doors.
From outside, McGarrett entered and gave his friend a nod. "Danno. Dr. Bishop is here to talk to you. I think she'd like to hear what you have to say.” Then he walked past the second-in-command, exited the office, and quietly shut the door behind him.
The message was loud and clear. Delivered in a tone that was familiar – command and compassion. An order cloaked in a kid glove. It was not to be disobeyed or questioned in any way.
Feeling betrayed and maneuvered…again, he angrily stared at the psychiatrist. Her return expression was bland and open. The ire flared to his boss. Steve had trapped him! He should go out there and tell Steve… Tell him what? The burst of fury sizzled, then faded. Tell Steve he was too good of a friend? That after all the shepherding he had done, he had turned to someone who might be able to knock some sense into the hard-head?
For a moment, he thought he could play dumb to Dr. Bishop. Steve's parting shot and Bishop's expression clued him that he had just reached the end of his road of denial. Leaving the room without seeing it through was not an option. Releasing a subdued sigh, he realized he was actually grateful in a way, to be pushed into this corner. Recognizing his insides were torn up, was he silently crying out for help all this time? The short fuse, the anger, the sleepless-zombie imprisonment all pointed to a deep wound that was not healing. Steve had been there for him the whole time, but the internal demons needed more than what an understanding friend could offer.
"Isn't that supposed to be where I sit, doctor?"
His wry tone held a hint of rebellion and lingering miff, and just a tint of self-depreciating acceptance to let her know he was staying. Albeit, not with complete cooperation. He knew he had no viable choice, but giving in meant the crumbling of his final line of defense, and he was reluctant to release all the bitterness -- and something he suspected was much darker and more horrible than he could define.
Start at the beginning, start with the facts. He went through it all – the murder, the father, the betrayal. At first just an outline. Then little pieces of broken memories, fit the jigsaw together. He added more detail and depth, making the tale grow in dimension and color. He talked a bit tentatively of Jane. At first, her angelic generosity, her cheer, her beauty. Everything about her was great. His voice thickened and caught.
Clearing his throat, he kept himself talking. Unable to stop the torrent of emotions burning raw, like scalding lava, he kept reaching, scratching deeper into his soul as exposed nerves and feelings surfaced.
Her murder… He approached it carefully, as if looking sideways at something horrendous, sensing something too awful to face. The broadcast regarding a second murder at Makaha had sent all Five-0 officers out to the leeward coast. Steve and Chin arrived first. Dan was on the H-1 when he heard a dispatcher mention the latest serial killer victim had been a female in her late 20’s. From there he had no idea how he reached the county club, dazed by fear and denial. Time and reality did not pool until he froze in the doorway, looking at the sheet-draped body covering everything but Jane's light pink shoes. Without seeing any more, he knew…
Eyes moist, he wiped his face and took a breath. At some point Bishop had turned on a light. It was dark. He ran his fingers through his hair and shivered at the memory of seeing Jane's body. Almost instantly, that image was replaced as Sally jumped into his thoughts. Sally Clark Gregson. Wife of the murderer. Best friend of victim two.
The instinctive objectivity reminded him that Jane hated his ability to remain detached from a situation, to reach a clinical level of analysis, and see things from a purely rational point of view. She’d never understood that. AND she had never really approved of his profession. There were subtle digs, pleading comments about missing too many dinners, not joining in when she and her non-working friends went for a sail to Maui, or too busy on a case to attend a charity ball.
That perspective caused him to alter his position, and he twisted from defensive to an offensive stance. Sally and Jane had conspired to give him what they thought he should have, what they thought he would want. Ambushed, they hoped his next step would be to quit Five-0 and live a life of luxury, a meaningless existence devoid of what he cared about the most. All of the clues were there – he just couldn’t see them.
Alternately sitting, standing, leaning, now he paced. Agitated, he railed against people pushing him, using him. Suddenly, he turned and stared at Bishop, as if she was his target and needed to know.
"Jane and her friends never really knew me. She wanted me to fit into her little mold of a rich playboy. Well that's not me, and I'm GLAD it's over!! I'm glad I escaped!!"
He suddenly flopped into one of the white chairs in front of the desk. Shaking so violently, his world blurred. The echo of his words thundered in his ears along with a pitiful sound that seemed to be sobs.
"I'm relieved she's dead," he brokenly whispered. Sinking his head in his hands he shook. "I'm glad I'm free.”
Sobbing in gasps of anguish he wept into his shirtsleeve. It seemed forever before he stopped, slowly drawing in hiccoughing breaths until he could sit up and wipe his face. He couldn’t look at Bishop. He stared at the floor, seeing nothing, thinking only about the remorse-filled confession that stained these walls with his bitter, black admission.
"I was glad she was dead. I am no better than Walter Gregson," he unsteadily whispered. “He killed her as a red herring to get money. I was glad she was gone so I wouldn’t be trapped into marriage. Mary, Dora, Millie – they were all going to be so disappointed in me.”
Another large tear managed to escape and tumble to the floor followed by more heavy breaths. He shook his head. There was nothing else to say. He had hit the depths of Hell.
"Danny, I'd like to ask you a question."
Too numb, he did not answer or respond.
"Did you want to marry her?"
He didn't want to talk to her or anyone. "No.” Compelled to reply by some deep down need that demanded he finish this, he told her, "I don't think it would have worked."
"Did you want her dead?"
He scoffed. "Of course not!!”
His reaction was hot, spontaneous. Certain. No!! No, he did not wish any kind of ill on Jane. Even after he found out about her tricks, he did not hate her or regret their relationship. He was angry with her and Sally, yes, but that was different. Abruptly – like a shock of cold water to the face – he could see that now in the radiant light of relief and truth. Morose doubts and fears had festered and coalesced for many days, but now that they had been faced and liberated, there came an unexpected clarity. Yes, in the back of his mind he’d felt guilty at his relief that he was not going to be trapped into marriage. That realization made him angry and confused, hating himself without understanding why.
"Separate the two," Bishop advised with firmness. "You are relieved you're not getting married. Correct?"
"Very - it wasn’t going to work," he repeated.
“And if she had lived?"
"I guess – we – uh – would have figured that out," he tiredly admitted.
Leaning back, he rubbed his hands through his hair and closed his eyes, shaking his head. It had been so painful, but it was all out in the open. At least to Bishop. Steve was on the other side of the door. How could he face the most honorable man he knew with this knowledge? What would Steve think of him? He couldn't hide it. Steve knew all along there was something wrong. Confession might be good for the soul, but it wasn't always good for a friend's opinion.
He stood, shaky, then plopped down on the sofa, too wobbly to stand.
"Do you want me to go get Steve?" Bishop asked him quietly.
"No!” He couldn’t hide in here forever. Didn't he just learn he couldn’t hide at all? It had to come out. Was he brave enough now? All he felt was mush inside. He shook his head. "Steve – he deserves to know – what I – what I was thinking and feeling.” His voice choked. "How can I?"
Bishop had been standing for a few moments. She leaned closer. "It's up to you of course, but let me counter that with a question that might help you decide. What kind of friend do you take Steve to be?"
A surge of energy flashed with indignation. "The best. He'd do…" his voice faded away. With a certainty stronger than knowing the sun would come up over Diamond Head tomorrow morning, he knew Steve McGarrett would stand by him no matter what. Through anything. To Hell and back. Even when he didn't believe in himself, Steve always did. "He's the best."
"Then I don't think you have anything to fear."
"Is there anything else you want to talk about?"
A chortle escaped. "No. I don't think there's anything left inside me.” Talked out. As if the guilt had been smashed and obliterated until it it was ultimately ripped from his soul. Gone was his strength. Gone was the pain. "I’m empty.” He leaned his head on the back of the sofa and closed his eyes.
As soon as the door opened, McGarrett was there, almost crowding Bishop in the doorway. Danno was… spent, washed out. He looked asleep, breathing a little heavy, his face showing signs of crying. Was that his imagination? He thought, from his pacing post outside the office, that he’d heard some weeping, and certainly some angry words... Steve had suffered for what seemed an eternity, and was in truth well over two hours, waiting for the marathon session to end.
Almost whispering, he asked, "Doc?"
"Steve, you know I can't tell you anything about a confidential –"
"I just want to know," McGarrett sharply countered with cutting command, "if he's all right."
Bishop gave him a thin smile. "You did the right thing to call me – there was most certainly trauma buried that he could never have handled alone. He’s been through a lot, but I think we got to the root of his issues. I am confident that he’ll make a full recovery. Anything else, he'll have to tell you.” There was a twinkle in her eye and a smile as she patted him on the arm. "You're a good man, Steve,” Bishop intoned as she started to slip past him.
“Mahalo from the bottom of my heart, Doc,” the officer quietly replied as he grabbed her petite hand, and squeezed gently. “This meant a lot to me.”
“Good, because I’m exhausted,” she whispered, and pulled away from his grasp to head towards the door.
McGarrett entered the office slowly and stood observing his friend. Drained. Not eating or sleeping well, some terrible anguish beyond grief gnawing at him, no wonder Williams was on the verge of collapse. When he heard the faintest suggestion of a snore, McGarrett smiled. Moving to his bottom desk drawer he pulled out a blanket and spread it across Danno. Turning out the lights he paused in the doorway to stare at a young man who had been through so much and came out a champion. It was said that brave men were not those who lacked fear, but those who did their duty despite the fear. That pretty much summed up Danno in his eyes.
Pounding reached him at the bottom of a long, black pit. His mind questioned the sound. A dog barking. What dog? Puzzled, consciousness thinned the veil of slumber until he was aware enough that it was not a drum, or a dog, or thunder. Snoring. Was he snoring? No. He was in heaven. Where else could you smell something so delectable? A scent divine and luscious… Snort!
His eyes popped open as he realized that not only had his own snoring awakened him, but he was reclined on the couch in Steve's office! Sitting up slower than he wanted, muscles aching and cramped, he spotted Steve at the desk. Smiling, McGarrett was backlit by the sun illuminating the sides of blinds behind him. Two cups of coffee and a pink donut box were at the boss's elbow.
"Morning, Danno. Have a good sleep?"
"Uh. I spent the night on the sofa?"
"Actually, I slept great." Williams acknowledged with only mild chagrin as he ran a hand over his face and stretched.
Smiling broader, Steve gave a nod. "I kinda thought so.” He grabbed a Styrofoam cup and came to sit next to Dan, proffering the steaming drink to his friend. "This will wake you up."
"Why did you let me stay here all night?” Dan ruffled his hair as if it could be out of place.
"You needed the rest."
Williams saw that McGarrett's suit, shirt and tie were different, ergo, his boss at least had enough sense to go home at some point. "I didn't mean to ruin your night. Sorry about that session with Bishop.” He tentatively took a sip, glancing at his friend over the rim of the cup, gauging the reaction.
McGarrett's tone, expression and manner were casual. "No problem, Danno. Hope it helped."
Williams stared uncertainly towards his boss. Steve didn't want to know. Yes, he did. He needed to know. More specifically, HE – Dan - needed Steve to know.
"What… uh, what did she tell you?"
"Nothing.” McGarrett got up, and grabbed his own cup. Holding it with both hands, he leaned against the desk, a safe distance away, but close enough. Waiting. “Not that I didn’t interrogate her,” he admitted quietly before meeting his protégé’s eyes.
Dan’s lip quivered before he smirked at the admission.
McGarrett turned away. Was he hoping Williams would reveal the mystery of why he had suffered so and if he was over it? Yes! He deserved to know and probably hoped for it. Not as a confession, but as a sharing.
"What is that incredible aroma?" he asked, taking a sip of the coffee diluted with cream and sugar. Nothing like the black sludge which was part of his pre-Jenny fare… It was a stall. Time for him to gird his courage.
“Starving… Mahalo, Steve."
In response, McGarrett brought the box over and handed it to his friend. Dan placed it beside him. Before reaching in, he gestured to the empty space on the other side of the sofa and inquired, "You're gonna share, aren't you?"
The eye contact lasted for a long moment. Hoping – yes – Steve recognized this as an invitation. Uncertain exactly how to begin, he had to get this off his chest. Over coffee and malasadas was probably one of the best ways he could think of for a serious talk between two friends. The sun rising behind them, it seemed a good place for a fresh start.
"Steve, do you want to hear about what I figured out when I was talking with Bishop last night?"
"Yeah. Are you ready to tell me, Danno?"
"Yeah, I am."
Williams hurried up the steps of the Palace in a race to be on time to the office. Guilt at having missed so much work in the last few weeks was urging him on to greater speed. Blowing into the lobby and trotting up the wooden stairs, he reached the Five-0 suite doors just moments after eight AM. His early meeting with Mrs. Jameson had run longer than he had anticipated.
Entering the office, he noted Kono and Jenny were at the table pouring coffee and selecting snacks from an assortment of muffins while Steve stood in the doorway to his office, reviewing notes. McGarrett looked up at him and smiled. Responding in kind, Williams felt a warmth of acceptance and belonging so profound it felt like his heart skipped a beat. This was his home. So many dark events had tried to pull him away from this center, this ohana. But as it should be, the good guys had won in the end.
"Hi, Steve! Jenny, those coconut pineapple muffins? Don't eat ‘em all, Kono!"
"Yes," Jenny confirmed. "Some with macadamia nuts and some without."
"Then you bettah get over here and get some, bruddah, ‘cause no reason to let ‘em get dry." The Hawaiian detective warned with a grin.
"Save some for Chin," Jenny ordered.
"If he's late, he's gonna lose out," Kono predicted.
Dan dropped a muffin onto a plate, and started to move toward the coffee pot, but the secretary grabbed his wrist and positioned another muffin on his plate. The pair exchanged a meaningful look, and Williams bent down to give her an extra-long squeeze and a kiss on her cheek. Their strained relationship was completely mended. She was forgiving and he was repentant. Everyone in his unit had risen to the occasion and come through with amazing support after Jane's death. He could never repay them for their kindness, but he could show them how much it meant by doing his best as a part of the team.
"Duke will be over any minute with the overnights," McGarrett reminded. "Let's go over the U of H robberies first." The lead detective started to turn back towards his desk, but paused when the outer door opened and slammed quickly, and a flustered Chin hurriedly joined the group.
"Sorry I'm late, boss. Mai and I had our own little mystery to solve.” He hefted a manila envelope in his hand. “This was delivered by special courier yesterday. “My kids…” His eyes were wide, and excitement rippled across his normally-poker-faced features. “Well, they've had university trust funds opened for scholarships in their names!"
Dan looked away and focused on pouring his coffee, but felt Steve's eyes on him. A brief silence ensued as the rest of the team took its cue from the boss, and turned to observe the youngest officer, who cleared his throat before speaking up.
"Chin. Those funds have been granted to your kids from the Jane Michaels Foundation. You'll get a better explanation in the mail soon I’m sure.” He frowned. "That was supposed to go out before the contracts. Mary Jameson is chairing the foundation for me, but she's still catching up. Your kids are going to be the first recipients of the grants."
It looked like Chin was about to cry. To forestall that, Dan hurried on. "The money Jane left me is going to fund educations for a lot of deserving kids. That would’ve made Jane very happy."
"Don't know what to say, bruddah,” Chin sniffed, and gave Dan a tight hug.
Jenny followed with one also. "That was so nice, Danny.”
"Good going, bruddah!" Kono slapped him on the shoulder.
“So all of your new-found wealth has been donated to the foundation?” The Five-0 chief inquired with a crooked grin.
"Yeah, the Ming Dynasty collection will be auctioned off, and the proceeds will be added to the foundation’s assets." Williams laughed as he continued. “The Asian antiquities expert came to my place with two armed guards to pick up the carvings, and I KNOW he was wondering, ‘what’s this idiot doing with this priceless collection!’”
McGarrett chuckled, “And I bet you didn’t rise in his estimation when he saw the box of junk in which you had them stored so securely!”
Dan grinned, and looked down. “You’re right, Steve – to say that he was mightily displeased is an understatement.”
The laughter quieted and – as silence enveloped the room – Williams grew uncomfortable knowing that the emotionally awkward moment was not going to die down anytime soon. He’d done the right thing, and he knew it. Following in the footsteps of Steve McGarrett, he’d had no alternative – not that he wanted one…
"I don’t know anything about being rich or running a foundation," he shrugged, obviously preferring the incredibly-generous act be played down or not discussed at all. “So how about we talk about the U of H case – I DO know something about that.”
Proud and pleased with his young associate, McGarrett squeezed his shoulder. Things were just about back to normal again. There was sadness for Jane's loss, of course, and the horrendous manner in which she was taken out of this life. But the extremes were gone. Henry Michaels in jail for assaulting an officer, kidnapping, and attempted murder… The foundation a living legacy for good... And his friend's emotional health on the mend.
"You're a good man, Danno" the lead detective told Williams, echoing the comment of Dr. Bishop as he wrapped an arm around the smaller man’s shoulders. “I’m sure Jane is proud of you.” He paused for only a second before adding, “And so am I.”