Fanfiction is, by nature, an attempt to go where tv series cannot or will not go. If the Five-0 characters continued in the logical progression of the show, this is where I think they would be in 1998.

Jack Lord forged the path for television series filmed in Hawaii. Many flattered the master with imitation and can be considered shadows of the pioneering originator. To honor Jack Lord included here are some of those show's characters in cameo appearances.

This story is my tribute:

To Jack Lord, who will never be forgotten, nor will Steve McGarrett.

To James MacArthur who is always fondly part of the team as Dan.

To a nearly forgotten, simpler Hawaii, where these characters are alive and well -- mau loa -- forever . . . . .


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"Bang, you're dead."

Despite an immediate identification of the surprise speaker, Dan Williams jumped, his pen scratching a squiggly line across the document on his desk.

"Steve!"

With a sigh Williams steadied his hand and turned to his friend who had just stealthily entered from the open lanai doors. McGarrett took up a comfortable perch on the edge of the huge desk dominating the room. Behind Williams was a massive plaque of the state seal suspended from the ceiling. On either side of the seal were two kahili, traditional Hawaiian royal standards of red and yellow feathers that proclaimed the room, and occupant, of singular leadership importance. Failing to receive the respect his rank merited, Dan brushed off the entrance with a knowing shake of his head.

Steve McGarrett tsked in disappointment and shook his head in turn. "Danno, the lanai." It was a sad condemnation of an unacceptable state of affairs. "I've warned you the lanai is too open!"

Grimacing in anticipation of the lecture, of being caught, once again, in lax behavior, Dan pushed away from the desk and studied his friend.

"It was a nice day," he offered lightly.

"It's not like the old days, Danno," McGarrett warned sternly. "You can't just amble onto the lanai on a whim!"

"It helps me think, relax."

"It's a bad habit."

"I wonder who I picked that up from?"

Catching the amused expression on his opponent's face, Steve's irritation increased momentarily. Many times he had sought solace by strolling along the lanai of the Palace, never guessing his custom would turn against him. With his sage advice falling on unreceptive ears, he regrouped with a sigh. "I'm probably quoting myself."

"Probably," Dan smiled, mischief in his eyes, "but I'D never be the one to tell you that!"

"You better not if you want to keep a golf partner who keeps your score low."

"And my tennis wins high."

"Danno, I just want to make sure you live to make the luau tonight. And a lot longer."

A variety of comments rushed through Williams' mind: Sentimentally the luau where old and current Five-0 employees and families were gathering at the Williams' beach house, was vital. It was also a political move to expedite Williams' public relations between Five-0, HPD, and the public and was critical due to the racial emotions running high on the Islands. The personal significance of the ceremony, on the morrow was also requisite since Wililams would dedicate the refurbished Iolani Palace and pay homage to his closest friend.

The festivities embarrassed the private McGarrett, but Williams had persuaded, insisted, and finally convinced the former head and originator of Five-0 to be there on such a momentous milestone. Thirty years before, Dan had met McGarrett and started a long and successful association that changed his life for the better, forever. Fitting accolades, both deserved and sentimental, would finally catch up to McGarrett. Dan wouldn't let anything get in the way of him personally delivering those tributes.

A knock sounded at the door and McGarrett stood, stepping slightly behind his friend. Williams picked up his pen to appear busy.

"Come in."

A Hawaiian woman in a bright, floral dress entered with papers in hand. She stopped cold at the sight of McGarrett. The intruder smiled benignly. Pretending not to be disconcerted, the woman advanced.

"Governor, these papers just came over from Senator Tamara." She placed them on the desk. "Are you done with those certificates?"

Governor Williams glanced at the document he'd inadvertently squiggled on, did a quick, sloppy autograph, and handed them to his assistant. "All done, Lorna. I'll have these ready for the senator after lunch."

"Don't forget the photo session at three." She placed two message memos on the desk, then took the stack of certificates. "Mrs. Williams called to remind you about the luau at seven. She wanted me to tell you, quote: 'Don't loose track of time. Seven sharp.' End quote."

Dan's eyes darted to his friend. "Not much chance of forgetting the way everyone keeps reminding me. Thanks, Lorna. Oh, and get Lynd on the phone for me, please."

Lorna glanced at McGarrett, then at her boss. "Yes, Governor."

After she left, McGarrett slipped back to his preferred corner of the desk. "She's just itching to put me in my place. She hates it when I pop in unannounced."

The phone buzzed, indicating Dan's call was ready.

"She probably thinks there's a secret entrance, like the batcave or something." The thought made Williams laugh, which he could not completely stifle as he answered the phone. "Yes?"

"Mr. Chase on line two," came the disapproving voice of the assistant.

"Thanks." He punched a phone button. "Aki, thanks for getting back to me so quickly." He put the call on the speaker. "I guess Chief Lynd is unavailable?"

"Yes, sir," the second-in-command of Hawaii Five-0 responded. "He's out of the office at the moment. How can I help you, Governor?"

"Chase is so much easier to deal with," McGarrett whispered approvingly.

Williams smiled. "A trait of the second bananas?"

McGarrett just scowled.

Toward the speaker, Williams said, "I wanted to get an update on security from you."

"Everything is going well, Governor," the brisk voice assured. "Five-0 is on top of the ceremony for tomorrow. Anything specific bothering you, sir?"

"The lanai," McGarrett muttered.

"What was that?"

Dan shook his head at his friend's interference. "What about the Capitol grounds?"

There was a deep sigh. "This wouldn't be about some unwanted intruder near your offices, would it, Governor?"

McGarrett and Williams both grinned. "Oh, you know those pesky tourists," Dan joked.

"Governor," the Five-0 officer sighed again, "I assure you security is tight. I have extra men and patrols and everyone on the guest list has been double-checked."

Williams made appropriate statements of approval, but no doubt remained from his tone that complete satisfaction was not achieved. As Aki Chase expounded on the details, McGarrett made whispered comments or grimaces depending on the information. Even as they conversed in the odd, three-way conversation, Dan sympathized with Chase. It couldn't be easy inheriting one of the top spots of Five-0 and functioning under the watchful eye of the Governor, a Five-0 veteran, and the more critical scrutiny of an 'unofficial assistant' to the Governor, in the form of Steve McGarrett.

Typically, Williams was law enforcement's strongest advocate in the Islands, even more blunt and assertive than Five-0's boss cop. Appointed by Williams' predecessor, Thomas Lynd was good, coming to head Five-0 after retirement from the ranks of MI6. Unknown to the voters of Hawaii and the current generation Five-0 staff, at Williams' election an unelected shadow advisor came with him, giving Five-0 twin advocates from the Capitol. Between McGarrett and Williams, the former Five-0 detectives wielded tremendous clout on the Islands, and the police benefited from the advocacy.

Behind Dan's early business ventures -- after retirement from Five-0, after elections to local community boards and the city council -- lurked Williams' partner, counselor, ally and friend: McGarrett. Always in the background, avoiding publicity but unstinting in support, was his former boss and mentor. Formerly in the forefront of anything he participated in, Steve's political restraint was amazing. Personally pleased with Dan's civic activism, McGarrett remained a silent partner in the various permutations of their post-Five-0 lives. Considering his volatile, blunt personality and controversial past, McGarrett felt his overt presence in Dan's public life would be a liability. Williams, however, never disguised his continuing friendship with the former Five-0 leader. Dan felt he owed everything to his friend: initial career as a Five-0 detective, a partner in their security business, civic posts up to the Governorship. Without McGarrett's faith and support, none of his successes, he thought, would be possible.

"What about Kumu-kahi?" Steve whispered.

"Tell Steve I heard that. And yes, I assure you both, we're keeping an eye on them. Our top man is on them like a bad suit. Hawaiian Nationalists are still planning a protest tomorrow, of course, they protest everything these days, but we've got a handle on it."

"Okay, Aki, thanks. See you tonight."

"Thank you, Governor."

Hawaiian Nationalists was a local grassroots movement advocating a return to a sovereign Hawaii. They demanded the US government restitute all federal land to native Hawaiians. Over the years the extreme movement had gained sentimental support from locals. In the last election their candidates made a near three-way split of some seats in the legislature and actually elected two mayors on two of the outer Islands. Government representatives were their prime targets of letter campaigns and active protests.

Complicating the situation was the local organized crime movement, Kumu. Just as the Irish Republican Army spawned violent splinter groups, the radical and violent band known as the Kumu-kahi had sprung from Kumu. No public confessions to Kumu-kahi membership existed, but in the past year they anonymously claimed responsibility for one letter bomb that had injured a postman, and several attacks on tourists. Haoles, Caucasians, wore a bull's eye because whites had toppled the Hawaiian government more than a hundred years before, and Hawaiian Nationalists called for natives to remember that as a rallying cry. The Japanese in general were the next objective, being blamed for the astronomical inflation of the last few decades and the economic decline of Hawaii.

Williams hung up and studied his friend. "What's bothering you?"

The taller man shrugged it off, but saw from his friend's expression the prevarication did not work. "All right. The threats worry me."

"Radicals, Steve. Anyone who really wanted to take me out wouldn't advertise it. They'd have a hundred opportunities. Governor of Hawaii is not a constant risk like being president. I'm not smothered in secret service. And I don't think anyone's out to get me."

"I hope you're right."

The tone clearly indicated McGarrett did not believe so, and Williams let it drop. There was neither the time nor ammunition to assuage his friend's concerns. Warring for prominence of position were Steve's natural instincts as a cop to solve a mystery, and the more pressing personal anxiety to keep Williams safe. All the protection in the world would not satisfy the ex-Five-0 chief until those issuing the threats were behind bars.

"Are you worried about Pauli Tanaka?"

"He's almost too obvious," Steve admitted. "but as one of the most vocal and militant leaders of Hawaiian Nationalists, he's someone to watch."

"Which is Five-0's job, Steve, not yours," he reminded. "Chase is a good man," Dan appeased, hoping it was enough of a vote of confidence to let the argument drop. While he trusted the state police with his life, he understood where Steve was coming from and could not condemn the anxiety or the sentiment. "I don't want anything distracting you from your speech tomorrow. You have worked on it, haven't you?"

Still commanding in presence and stature, the 60ish retired cop leaned against the wall, gazing out the lanai doors in a stance adopted frequently while he was the leader of Hawaii Five-0. The blue eyes were still as keen, and the thoughts still as convoluted under the salt and pepper hair. Thirty years of insight gave Williams the almost instinctive ability to tune into his friend's moods. Never one to hold back on blunt honesty, McGarrett's opinions were clear even though he strove for a rare show of politically correct diplomacy. Tact sometimes seemed an ill-fitting cloak of obstruction to the forthright Irish temperament.

"Of course" The tone implied a low-level interest.

Alerted, the Governor warned, "Five-0 can handle it, Steve, let them. Please. I don't want any complications."

"Neither do I," was the pointed reply. Tempering, he admitted, "Chase is one of the best cops I've met."

"He is," Dan agreed easily. "We've known him a long time. And he's so much easier to deal with than Lynd."

McGarrett turned from the window with an amused grin tilting his expression. "Your words, not mine."

"No, but you were thinking it. No secret everybody but the previous governor finds him a hard head and as immovable as Mauna Kea." Williams fought, and failed, to suppress the grin. "Sounds like another Five-0 chief I remember."

McGarrett smirked and shook his head. "I should leave before you can throw anymore insults at me."

There were many comparisons between the original organizer of Five-0 -- McGarrett -- and Thomas Lynd. Both had Intelligence backgrounds; both originally off-islanders, both hand-picked by governors. There the surface similarities ended. Lynd came under a lot of fire for not only being an 'outsider' from London of all places, but for his stern, by-the-book approach to law enforcement. McGarrett used the legal code as his bible, but there was always room for leniency for suspects who made an effort to cooperate or improve their lives. More than anything, Steve was renowned as a haole, a Caucasian, who quickly acclimated to a kama'aina, a native, with his love of the people and the land. Thomas Lynd, by the fruits of his personality and aloof nature, would always be a malihini, a newcomer. In the current controversy with Hawaiian Nationalists, his separatism did not help. Some considered Williams' failure to appoint Aki Chase, a native of Honolulu, as the Five-0 leader as yet another weak concession to the haoles, which hadn't helped Williams' popularity with the radicals.

With a history in law enforcement and racially a Caucasian, Williams became a constant target of the revolutionaries during and after the gubernatorial election. Married to a woman of mixed-Japanese/ Polynesian/Caucasian descent made Williams' family a prominent target for the radical group. Choosing a Lieutenant Governor of Japanese descent cemented the animosity of the radicals toward the administration. Pride of heritage began to blur for the normally laid-back locals, and the first few years of Dan's term had been a constant strain.

Then he delivered a sincere and inspired plea during one of his speeches at the opening of a new park earlier in the year. Appealing to the Hawaiian spirit of aloha, he reminded his constituents that all Hawaiians were ohana, family, no matter what differences they might have, and that core unity must transcend all other outside politics. The media played it as a tired old cliché, but the citizens took the message to heart. Literally overnight the fickle mood of public sentiment changed. Williams and his family became the epitome of the chop-suey mix of island natives, and aloha tolerance once more overcame the political mood of the state. Hawaiian Nationalists backed off the racial bigotry emphasis and focused more on economic pressure. Williams' popularity skyrocketed and his savvy political advisor projected the trend well into a second term.

When plans for the dedication of the Palace centered around Five-0 hit the news, however, some Hawaiian Nationalists reacted with hostility. Hate mail and personal threats increased markedly, although most Hawaiian Nationalists members still supported Williams. McGarrett practically needed a score-card with the shifting sentiments, but he continued to take the threats seriously. Not convinced Hawaiian Nationalists was the predominant hazard, he believed the unofficial rumors on the coconut wireless that Hawaiian Nationalists was a front for Kumu, and an excuse for violence by Kumu-kahi. No doubt some unsavory members of society made the rolls of all groups who might want to zero in on Williams as a target.

Williams turned back to the massive desk. Pretending to look over the papers, he admonished, "The threats from the Hawaiian Nationalists are nothing to worry about, Steve. Let it go."

McGarrett gazed out the windows for a moment, then once again reminded his friend of his theories. Steve also reiterated the old cliché that they couldn't be too careful when it was Dan's life on the line. The Governor agreed, but still felt his shadow advisor was overly protective and somewhat paranoid. He suggested it might be nerves over the coming ceremony. McGarrett flatly refuted the idea.

"Anyone in public office is a target, but you've been singled out, Danno."

"Steve -- "

"You have plenty of old enemies out there, and I'd put Alekema Alika at the top of the list."

Tony Alika had been Kumu's top dog until McGarrett took him down back in 1980. Alekema Alika, already assisting his father in mob business, took over. The son never really had the power or control wielded by Tony Alika, and Kumu paled as a threat, particularly after Tony's death.

Williams turned back to his paperwork, vainly striving to complete his duties. "Alekema's been completely clean since his parole last month. Lynd has kept me informed." He turned, satisfied with the expression of surprise from his friend. "I don't keep my head in the sand, Steve. I know I have enemies out there and most of them are old Kumu refugees. Five-0 is on them. Let it go, Steve."

Defiantly retaining his obstinance he countered, "I want you wearing armor tomorrow."

"Steve -- "

"I mean it, Danno. You wear a vest or I don't show for the ceremony tomorrow."

At the deadly serious tone, glare and ultimatum, Williams could only shake his head in surrender. "Sometimes I wonder who runs this state," he sighed rhetorically. "I'd be out on my okole if the voters knew who pulled strings around here."

Smiling at the triumph, McGarrett assured, "I only pull a few important strings, my friend. And I suppose I should let you get back to work so you'll be on time tonight, or we'll both be answering to your wife."

"I'll be on time," Williams promised.

Opening the lanai door and taking his leave, Steve reminded, "Don't forget. Seven."

"I won't forget."

"And, Governor?"

Williams looked up.

"Try to be on time."

*****

 

There was always a sense of homecoming when he walked onto these regal grounds. A refuge of peace amidst the surrounding bustle of Honolulu, Iolani Palace square seemed to put the world on pause. In the dazzling tropic sun, the majestic Palace itself sparkled brighter than it ever had when McGarrett had been in residence there. Refurbished several times since Five-0's initial occupancy, he would always think of the Palace as a place with too little storage space, draughty labs, creaking doors. Home. Glancing across King Street to the relocated offices of Hawaii Five-0, McGarrett pitied the police cooped in the former Territorial Building-cum-headquarters. Constrained by thin budgets and needing a locale close to the Capitol/Palace area, the state had opted to renovate the old building. Five-0 had temporarily housed there back in 1976. No lanai, no grand staircase, no view; McGarrett commiserated. Of course, this new generation didn't know what they were missing, but he felt pity for them just the same. Staring across at the old beige building he decided not to enter the foreign domain. Not interested in renewing old acquaintances or running into Lynd, McGarrett chose a more convenient option. Speed dialing a number on his cell phone, he sat on one of the white steps of the Palace and waited for an answer on the private line.

"Detective Chase," a clear voice announced after a few rings.

"Hello, detective. Can you meet me?" No need to give his name, Chase knew the voice well enough.

The exasperation on the other end was evident. "Yes. Where and when?"

"I think you know the answer to both those questions. Look out your window."

Steve saw a blind open on the second story and gave a brief wave. The click on the other end was answer enough. He folded his cell phone and tucked it into the pocket of his windbreaker. Leaning on the balustrade, he glanced up at the corner of the royal residence that he considered HIS corner. So much had transpired here, good and bad. Strangely, things had changed very little. On the bad side, Kumu still presented a threat, and intrigue yet lurked in the shadows. On the good side, the Williams' were his core. For years Danno's friendship had kept him balanced when his extreme tendencies threatened to tilt out of control. He would allow nothing to damage his family.

A blur caught at the corner of his eye and he scanned the wide front lawns for a sign of Chase. No sign of the Five-0 cop sprinting across busy King Street yet. Strolling over toward the corner, he called out in the direction of the magnificent Banyan tree at the side of the Palace.

"You don't have to shadow me, Detective Wolfe. Mr. Chase will be here in a moment."

A muscular, tanned, 30ish man with close-cropped sandy hair stepped from behind the thick trunk. Neither chagrined nor apologetic, he gave a salute, with a piece of red licorice, to the ex-detective.

"I don't see your name on my paycheck, so I think I'll just keep doing my job, Mr. McGarrett."

Steve refrained from a snappy retort to the cheeky younger man. Wolfe happened to be right, but the abrasive impertinence still irritated McGarrett.

One of the top officers in HPD, Mack Wolfe had an impressive record of convictions and solved cases. Black marks for a tendency to accumulate heavy debts and obvious disrespect of authority kept him from promotion. Rumor had it his flaws also kept him from being offered a position with Five-0. Nonetheless, being very good at his job and a friend of Chase's, Wolfe often worked as a liaison with the state police. That the HPD man was following him indicated someone took his concerns seriously. Only McGarrett was not the one being threatened by Hawaiian Nationalists or the Kumu. He walked back to sit on the front steps while Wolfe strolled toward him.

"You there young man!" a stentorian voice commanded. Automatically Steve straightened and whirled around to face the figurative 'ancient dragon 'descending the steps of the 'castle'. Dressed in the colorful muu'muu of the resident docents, and a wrinkled visage demanding respect, the elderly woman stopped several steps above him. The requisite cloth shoe coverings on her feet attested to her job as tour guide for the sovereign residence. "The Palace is not open until tomorrow! Come back then! And I don't want to find any trash or scuff marks on these steps! We're expecting important company tomorrow you know!"

It was not a question. Relieved she did not recognize him and amused she did not know she was talking to one of those very VIP's, McGarrett gave a short bow. Instinctively obedient to the power of authority she wielded with the force of what must be 80-plus years, he expressed his regrets.

"My apologies, Mrs. Pratt," he deferred after reading her name tag.

"Just make sure it doesn't happen again. Come back tomorrow like all the other tourists."

Steve snickered and at her scowl, then, with difficulty, sobered his expression. "Yes, ma'am."

Satisfied, she returned inside the stately doors of koa wood and etched glass, assured her supremacy remained intact.

"Can't wait to see how she reacts tomorrow at the ceremony," a laughing voice behind him spoke.

Smiling, McGarrett faced Chase. "Surprised, I'll bet." He gestured to the steps. "Since we can't talk here, shall we walk?"

Chase indicated he should lead the way. Noting Wolfe had silently disappeared McGarrett walked them across the lawn to the venerable bandstand at the front of the building where they sat on an inside bench.

"What can I do for you, Mr. McGarrett?"

"I think you know. I'm not the one threatened. I don't need a bodyguard."

Chase grimaced, clearly irritated at the interference. "Security is tight, I promise you. Bomb sniffing dogs, surveillance on Hawaiian Nationalist's leaders, ID checks on all guests." Annoyance finally getting the better of his temper, he finished curtly, "Five-0 has done everything possible for protection, Mr. McGarrett, particularly since there is no evidence of violence, or even a specific threat for tomorrow! What more do you think we need to look for?"

"The unexpected," McGarrett countered forcefully. "This is such an unparalleled opportunity for Kumu-kahi to strike -- "

"Whoa, there, wait a minute," Chase held up his hands and stood, pacing to the railing of the bandstand. Shorter and younger than his adversary, he nonetheless carried the authority of his badge in his manner. Leaning on the wood the cop responded, "The threat was from Hawaiian Nationalists, not from Kumu -- "

"Which is the perfect cover for the violence we know to be Kumu-kahi, not Hawaiian Nationalists. I'm talking about the mob here, Chase, not the nationalist politicos."

Chase shook his head, completely out of patience and restraint. "You called me out here to waste my time swinging at windmills?" he snapped sharply. "Kumu is organized crime. They might throw one of their errant thugs to the sharks, or rough up some low-lifes on Hotel Street, but they do not hit governors! Were you always this -- this -- imaginative when you were in charge?"

McGarrett came eye to eye with his adversary, the intensity not intimidating the slighter man. "Don't be impertinent, mister. This is not about me trying to edge into your job. I'm trying to avert a tragedy! Use whatever cop instincts you have and pay attention to the danger signals around here!" Steve's full force of character focused on his target. "Hawaiian Nationalists are dupes! Kumu-kahi takes credit for violence in the name of Hawaiian Nationalists, but we both know who's pulling the strings! Kumu is using Hawaiian Nationalists, infiltrating their own members to push normal, law-abiding citizens to accept radical, lawless behavior, then use them for Kumu's purposes. Someone wants to blame the Nationalists when something extreme, like an assassination happens. It's a set up! It's a classic tactic, used by manipulative minds for centuries. You should know that, Chase, your grandfather is a leader in his local branch of Hawaiian Nationalists in St. Louis Heights, isn't he?"

Where lesser men had quavered, Chase took a step back and reassessed the older man. Justified anger gave way to grudging respect, then cop appreciation. Personally insulted at the elaborate investigation put onto a relative he respected, Chase nonetheless admired the skill and technique of the former detective. Within moments a calmer Chase sat on the railing and folded his arms. Conceding with a nod, he asked his colleague to elaborate.

McGarrett admitted his own sympathies in support of Hawaiian Nationalists. Living in Hawaii for many years, and adopting the aloha spirit and love of the aina, he naturally supported anything aimed at preserving the natural beauty of the people and places of Hawaii. Hawaiian Nationalists, however, took the step further, advocating that Hawaii remove the right for the US to own land and returning ownership to Hawaiians. It would never happen, of course, but the emotional appeal of the cause had caught on with many citizens of native ancestry, and Hawaiian Nationalists was wildly popular, organizing small groups all over the Islands. Unfortunately, such groups easily shifted in subtle ways to adopt ideas that only seemed in keeping with their goals, but which really supported the evil designs of those with agendas of their own. One such group was Kumu-kahi, espousing anti-US government, anti-tourist, anti-Japanese protests. Threats and several minor attacks on Caucasians were the results of the advocacy. The parallel to the burgeoning Nazi party in the 1930's seemed obvious to McGarrett, and he reminded the younger man of the danger of dismissing a seemingly benign political movement.

While Chase acknowledged his own discomfort at the radical direction of some Hawaiian Nationalists members, he adamantly denied most members even supported those fanatic ideals. Williams' ohana sentiment had caused many to reassess their methods of operation in Hawaiian Nationalists. He also admitted the seditious element could easily be spurred by the Kumu people, and wryly wagered Steve had invisible operatives digging for proof. Not denying the allegation, Steve drove home his point, reminding Chase their mutual objective was to protect the Governor from any hazard; Kumu, or Hawaiian Nationalists/Kumu-kahi. He was taking the threats seriously and expected the state police to do the same.

"And another thing," he concluded, "Don't waste skillful manpower like Wolfe on me. I'm in no danger, Chase. Your first concern should be to protect Governor Williams."

"Is that all, sir?" the Five-0 officer questioned with the barest hint of sarcasm. Not waiting for a response, he admitted with rueful covetousness, "We've already got Pauli Tanaka covered."

"Too obvious," Steve dismissed. "He's an Hawaiian Nationalists leader. Look under the surface, detective. Alekema Alika is out. He's hated Danno, both of us, for years. Danno broke up Alekema's little operations when he was learning the business from his father. And he never forgave us for putting Tony Alika away."

"Tony Alika died in prison as I recall," Chase ruminated aloud. "Alekema's been in and out of the pen since, never the Kumu leader his father was."

"He and his thugs are deadly enough. They should be your focus. Dig, Chase!"

Aki shook his head. "Like your informants? You know, the CIA would envy your intelligence network, Mr. McGarrett. Any chance I can get in on your coconut wireless?"

Clearly appraising the younger man, McGarrett shrugged his shoulders. "We'll see, Mr. Chase. You are hampered by regulations and legal parameters. In your official capacity you've done almost everything possible, it seems. Our problem here is there's no proof of a conspiracy, no certain identification of someone with a grudge against the Governor who is connected with the Hawaiian Nationalists people. Not that I know of. And Alika seems to have kept his nose clean. I assume if you knew differently you would let me know."

It was not a question. Knowing he could justifiably walk away without a response to such an arrogant assumption, Chase held his ground. "You're a hard man to deal with, Mr. McGarrett. I've heard you ran Five-0 like you were an emperor or something. You've made enemies with your methods and personality." He eyed his adversary/associate with speculation. "Some say you resigned because you failed to clear up the scandal when Williams quit --"

"I resigned because there was no more I could do for Five-0 or the people of Hawaii," McGarrett cut in harshly. "What's your point, detective?"

"Even your enemies couldn't argue with your results, and neither can I. And I can't condemn you for your loyalty, either, Mr. McGarrett. However, I can't sanction an independent investigation by unauthorized ama -- ah, -- personnel. Five-0 is on top of Alika, of Pauli Tanaka and some other problems you probably don't even know about! I'll keep you informed of any developments, and you tell me everything you learn from any unofficial sources. Deal?"

Reluctantly, McGarrett agreed.

Then Chase added, "And you've got to get out from underfoot. Trust me to do my job."

"All right," Steve sighed hesitantly. "Just do it right, Chase," he ordered, leaving the bandstand and walking back toward the Capitol.

It sounded more like a royal decree than an encouragement, but Chase took it in the spirit in which it was given. McGarrett entrusted the life of his closest friend to Five-0, and expected them to live up to that sacred guardianship. With renewed vigor Aki jogged across King Street, past tourists crowding the famous King Kamehameha statue, and on to the Five-0 offices. His staff had a lot of work to do before tomorrow if they were going to keep ahead of McGarrett.

 

*****

 

Never one to accept favors during his tenure as Five-0 chief, McGarrett found it seductively easy as a local celebrity. Despite the exploding population of the Hawaiian Islands in the last several decades, Hawaii/Honolulu, still had a feeling of a small society. Status as a famous, or infamous, public figure faded only slightly with time. If not remembered by younger generations as the head of the state police, he was known as a close friend of the Governor's and a benefactor to numerous humanitarian causes. His secluded beach house in Kauai remained remote and private enough to ensure his solitude whenever he remained in the Garden Isle. Steve's struggle for anonymity, to fade into the background, only failed when he returned to Oahu.

"Your guest is already here, Mr. McGarrett."

On the positive side, the perquisites of fame meant preferred treatment in many areas. He strolled through the tastefully appointed Roaring 20's period elegance of The Black Orchid, where he was met personally by the proprietor, Rick Wright. During an amenable chat he was shown to his usual booth where a special-blend fruit drink specifically created for him already waited. He never knew how Wright managed the VIP treatment with such short notice. Maybe an audio tie-in with the parking valet, he mused. Instinctively observing and noting people and events around him, Wright offered such exclusive treatment to few. In all honesty, Steve knew the special perqs were not because of his former profession, but his association with Williams. Not as governor, but as an old friend of Wright's.

Acquainted with Williams since the days when the young detective had frequented Wright's first club, the King Kamehameha, the small favors traded in those early days had never been forgotten. Loyalty, even in trivial things such as restaurants, sports clubs and informants meant something to Williams and Wright.

Not long before Williams' very public exit from Five-0, Wright and other high-profile businessmen had been marked as targets by Kumu. Alekema Alika, Tony's son, ran the extortion racket as a way of cutting his teeth in the family business. Wright had numerous shady connections of his own, but chose to ask for assistance from his member/friend, Dan Williams. Dan had utilized the resources at Wright's disposal: other businessmen, old friends from Chicago, a local PI, and worked outside the mainstream of law enforcement. Although not personally overseen by McGarrett, the operation was a Five-0 success. A big chunk of Alika's organization resided behind bars, including the son, Alekema, and the top enforcer of Kumu-kahi, Tomi Mano. After that, Kumu's power became seriously diminished.

The irony of the situation did not escape McGarrett. After his retirement from Five-0 he had gathered various 'experts' to assist him in his private security business. The loose association, jokingly refereed to as 'The League of the Black Orchid',(an obvious nod to the famous League of the Scarlet Pimpernel), gathered at the restaurant for their meetings. After retiring from his security business, McGarrett still kept an interest in colleague's ventures. Occasionally he had need of the expertise of the special talents of the group and asked for their assistance.

A nook in the back sheltered spacious booths away from the curious eyes of other patrons. The Governor and other celebrities favored this area for discrete relaxation and excellent, uninterrupted dining. Not until Steve was almost at the booth did he see his 'guest.' Rick silently exited in a mute signal of privacy.

"Duke," McGarrett greeted and shook his friend's hand after he slid into the booth.

"Thanks for the invitation, Steve." Duke Lukela raised his glass of juice in a silent toast. "Your business lunches are always classy."

Steve donned his most inscrutable expression. "Why, Duke, we're retired. I don't know what you mean."

Lukela smirked and nodded. "Okay." Seriously, he countered, "Are you ready for the report?"

"Go."

"Your suspicions about something going on are probably right. Two months ago Tomi 'the shark' Mano was released on parole."

"Parole? How'd that animal -- never mind," McGarrett snorted in disgust. "Danno said Alekema Alika is out, too." He shook his head. "Means trouble, Duke."

Even when he retired from Five-0, justice had been losing in the battle of leniency with courts and prison systems. Exacerbated by prison overcrowding, even the worst inmates frequently managed easily to acquire the 'get-out-of-jail-free' card.

Rick brought refills on the drinks and slipped in beside Lukela.

"Word is out that Tomi wants his place back as an enforcer for Kumu. Alekema is happy to give it to him," Wright quietly offered. "My bartender, heard from the barkeep at the Reef that Tomi's got something to prove, and he's not on the Governor's campaign contributions list, if you know what I mean."

McGarrett twirled the straw in his drink, idly stabbing ice cubes, and stared at the amber liquid while he pondered the implications. Tomi Mano was a killer, put away by Five-0 -- McGarrett and Williams -- when Tony Alika still ran the mob. A few years later McGarrett jailed Tony Alika just before McGarrett retired. Tony later died in prison, and Alekema tried to keep the crime dynasty together.

Keeping tabs on local hoods because of his security business, McGarrett's loyal contacts briefed him on Kumu's succession of leaders, including Alekema. None ever lived up to the absolute authority of Tony Alika or Pahoa, the first boss, but the mob continued to pose an effective threat to decent citizens of the state.

"You think he's a threat to Governor Williams?" Duke wondered. He glanced at his friend across the table. "They 've always hated you and Danny."

McGarrett pinned Wright with an intensity capable of withering the faint of heart. "Find out more, Rick. We need something more solid than a rumor before tomorrow."

Wright gave a nod. "I have some connections. You don't think Kumu would be stupid enough to do something at the ceremony, do you?"

"It would be the perfect opportunity," Duke pointed out. "Steve and Danny both there along with judges, cops, prosecutors. Big confusion, a hit against people the Kumu hate, plus Danny out of the way."

Skeptical, Rick shook his head. "That's a big hit, man. Kumu would have to be crazy. And the Lieutenant Governor, what's-his-name, isn't going to help with the loyalist movement. He's from Tokyo or something! He's just in there for the Japanese vote."

"Kyoto. Lieutenant Governor Shimimoto was born in Hilo, his parents were from Kyoto. And he was not appointed as a political convenience! He was a popular and savvy mayor in Hilo," Steve corrected curtly. "And you're missing the point. Governor Williams has always represented law and order. His financial and political support of the police make him a prime target. The authority position and his racial heritage make him an obvious mark for Kumu under the guise of Hawaiian Nationalists. Then there's his personal history against Alika, Mano and many others in Kumu." Convinced, McGarrett expounded on his theory with intense fervor. "What better way for Tomi to climb to the top of the heap? He takes out the Governor and he's going to be the hottest killer, and Alika the biggest thug, on this rock!"

A bit startled, Lukela and Wright exchanged glances. "Steve, there's no hint that's what Alika, Mano or the Kumu are going to do," Duke reminded in a reasonable, calm tone. "Hitting a governor is a big step, bruddah."

McGarrett removed a paper from his wallet. Unfolding it, he tapped the photocopy of the crudely lettered note:

-----------------------------

Hawaiian Nationalists

death to haole intruders

at Kalakaua palace

-----------------------------

"Ambiguous," Duke assessed.

"Why would Alika warn the Governor?" Rick wondered.

"I think Tomi is willing to take a big step to impress Alekema and put them both back in power." Noting their skepticism, he resolutely stared at each man in turn. "I think this is a notice. The threat calls the Palace by the name of King Kalakaua, the last king of the Islands, the monarch who built the place. It is a very nationalist phrase, specifically designed to make everyone believe this is political. I think it's just old fashioned crime. There will be a hit and Five-0 will be looking at the Nationalists. Mano's going to hit Danno at the Palace, at the ceremony some think should focus on Hawaiian history instead of Five-0. Kumu gets all the benefits and none of the blame!"

Still skeptical, Lukela pointed out, "This could as easily be a threat to you, Steve."

McGarrett disagreed. "It was sent to the Governor. It's meant for him," he maintained with conviction. Piqued the others did not share his urgency, he continued, "Am I paranoid? Probably. But I still have instincts, and Duke, you know those are usually right." Lukela offered a silent nod. "Am I being overprotective of my friend? Probably true on that count as well," he admitted. "Am I willing to risk Danno's life because all I have is a gut instinct and a vague theory that he's in danger? No way, gentlemen! No way!"

"What do you want us to do?" Lukela asked.

A brief, triumphant grin flashed, then vanished in his tight expression. "Duke, alert your contacts at HPD and see what they have on Tomi's and Alika's latest rumblings. I'll contact Ben and have him run some computer checks." To Rick he ordered, "Find out what the coconut wireless says about Tomi. And I know you have friends who find can find out more than the police can."

Rick smiled. "Sure."

McGarrett stood, pulling a bill out of his money clip. "I have one more stop to make. Meet with me at the Williams' tonight and give me your report."

*****

Leaning on the thick concrete wall of the lanai, Dan surveyed the magnificent, panoramic view of his city. It was impossible not to come out here and appreciate the best that his home, his aina, had to offer. Brilliant, warm tropical sun, perfect azure sky, sparkling blue ocean, and warm, sea-kissed breezes played on his senses like music to his soul. Hovering over the western skyline of the city; puffed clouds of orange, purple and subtler, indescribable shades scalloped the horizon. The view was one of the nicest benefits of the office. Despite his advisor's objections, Steve understood why Dan continued to escape to this idyllic haven where he felt part of his paradise home.

In the distance Diamond Head rose out of the blue Pacific. The dormant volcano, a stark peak of burnished cinnamon bathed in the sun's last rays, still dominated the island of Oahu, although it was now surrounded by the ever present buildings of the city. There was no getting away from the high-rises and factories that blighted the exquisite paradise of Hawaii. Progress was not always kind, but he knew it was part of his island's destiny and did his best to ease his people into the future while preserving the beauty and spirit of aloha. As a public servant he felt content with his success and learned to live with the failures. As an island son, he just felt glad to be alive and part of Eden.

As always, his gaze came to rest on the small, quaint historic monument of Iolani Palace on the makai side, dwarfed by the Capitol, now a museum. The Palace would always hold such tender memories for him.

Critics called his rededication ceremony self-indulgent, emotional favoritism. Fundamentalists objected to the heavy-handed accolade of police, i.e., McGarrett, over the historic slant focusing more on the Palace and Hawaiian history. The program, meticulously organized by his wife Kelly, opened with respectful and plentiful nods to Hawaii's past. Mrs. Williams, a native of the city, held a Doctorate in Pacific Rim history and worked as a part-time professor at U of H. She blended the presentations with chronicles appropriate to the occasion. Generous time focused on King Kalakaua, who commissioned the Palace, and on his era, along with the other turbulent periods of the building's past. Admittedly, emphases on the Five-0 years were concentrated upon because of McGarrett's status, not only as the founder of Five-0, but, yes, also because of Williams' personal relationship with the police unit and McGarrett.

Self-indulgent? Undoubtedly, he smiled. Steve, and he, too, deserved it. Studying the gleaming white building memories of his career played through his mind as if they were yesterday. Some of the best experiences of his life were linked to the spot. He had grown up there under the tutelage of Steve McGarrett. It was like an old home. Almost certain he would not seek another term of office, this was his chance to use his authority for some well-deserved public recognition of his comrade. After all Steve had done for him, it was the very least he could do, and would do, for his friend.

The only regrets came when he had resigned from Five-0 in a murky cloud of controversy. (1) The brainwashing and torture from Wo Fat's minon had destroyed his career and nearly his life. Without the solid support of Steve, he didn't know what he would have done. An unfortunate veteran himself of Wo Fat's torture and mind control, McGarrett had picked up the pieces of Dan Williams seventeen years ago and helped him build a new world. They started a top notch, free-lance security business and soon had more clients and wealth than they could have imagined. Later, Steve finally captured Wo Fat (2) and retired from Five-0.

The following years were fulfilling and busy for both of them. They finally had time for personal lives. Dan married Kelly Hatsuyuki, an old acquaintance he 'd fallen in love with, and began a slow rise in local politics as a forthright proponent of ecology and law enforcement issues. Two beautiful children, a wonderful wife, fulfilling careers in three professions, and through it all a friend who was the family, and the brother he'd never had before Five-0. Steve deserved more than he could give at tomorrow's festivities, but at least Dan could do this before his term ended.

The scrape of footfalls on concrete gained his attention and he glanced over as Aki Chase joined him. Slight and dark-haired, his exuberant face reflected an exotic heritage of Polynesian and Oriental ancestors. His dark eyes were probing and reflective as they assessed the surroundings.

"Why am I not surprised, Governor?" The query might have been disrespectful coming from someone else, but delivered with traces of exasperation and amusement, the question became rhetorical philosophy. "That mysterious intruder was right about the lanai, you know."

"I know," Williams smiled.

He liked Chase. Popular, flexible and successful, Chase seemed to break the cop mold with a winning personality and leisurely approach to life. Some felt him too easy-going to hold the second slot of the state police unit. Others felt him too good for number two, blaming politics or race when denied the top groove of Five-0. Being on the inside of politics, Dan knew political expediency was one reason Chase held the second-in-command job. Lynd, an MI6 agent with years of experience, was a by-the-book man with a stringent approach to life. The previous governor reportedly owed him big time, and many believed the payoff was snagging the Five-0 command. Dan deigned not to replace Lynd since he had no complaints with the man's results, only with the method of appointment, and he did not feel justified in sacking the man for playing politics well. Then he would be no better than the Hawaiian Nationalists radicals who objected to him. Both top officers of the state unit were efficient and dedicated and Williams felt the conflict might just come down to old fashioned personality preferences. Chase made friends, Lynd made connections.

"Are you out here checking up on me, Detective Chase?"

"Just doing my job, sir."

Williams turned to face the younger man. "What do you think about security? Honestly, now, Aki, not any of this "yes-sir" nonsense."

"As you know, Governor, security can never be tight enough. Someone who wants to make a hit will find a way. Five-0's managed to block all the easy routes for any perps, but I can't give you a one hundred percent guarantee." He nodded toward the Palace. "I've heard you had a few close calls when you were working there, so you know how tough it is to blanket the old pile with air-tight protection."

Williams clearly recalled the time an assassin tried to take down Governor Jameson in the halls of the Palace. Dan had shot the man. He had also killed the assassin bent on killing an attorney general there at the Palace. More times than he wanted to recall there had been shootings, bombings and general mayhem within the old walls of the building, and that had only been during Five-0's stint. He supposed any royal palace being the site of a revolution or army headquarters during a war had a colorful start. His years there were a minute addition to a remarkable history.

"What about Kumu-kahi?"

Chase smiled and shook his head. "Your shadow-cabinet president, personal bodyguard and all around interloper already spoke to me about them, Governor," he revealed with a long-suffering sigh.

Williams tried to hide his smirk. "You'll be wanting to show a little more respect to your elders, detective," he chided none too sternly. Studying the Palace, he sobered. "He's probably still the best cop to ever hit these Islands and a lot of other places, Chase. Don't take his advice lightly. Or him either, or you'll have me to answer to," the head of state warned.

"I don't, sir, really. But it 's daunting enough to work in the shadow of a living legend. To try to do my job with him actually as my shadow -- well, sir, . . . . " He stopped short of anything that could possibly be construed as an insult. "He's the Man, sir. So are you. I didn't know either of you very well when I was starting in HPD. I work with people every day who did work with you two, or grew up with you, or some other intimidating comparisons of your epic greatness! It's totally deserved, but sometimes the perspectives around here are pretty blurred."

Williams concurred. "Yeah, I know. I've lived with it for thirty years. And you know what I've discovered?" he asked quickly, rhetorically. "Living legends are human just like everybody else. Steve doesn't want your job or your authority. He wants to make sure I'm safe. The only way he can do that is by moving in and giving ord-- suggestions. Don't dismiss or discount him, Aki. He's the best cop you'll ever meet."

"I know," Chase sincerely agreed. With a grin he added, "And his fan club won't let me forget it."

Williams laughed. More than a few people Steve had influenced now worked within Five-0 or in the upper echelons of HPD. A new generation filled the ranks of those organizations, but many were known to the renowned Irish cop. Suzy Kelly, Chin's daughter, was one of the detectives in Five-0, along with Nephi Hilton and Sandra Welles, both former HPD colleagues. Tom Lukela, Duke's son, worked in the lab along with a guy named Keoki Kenau who played on the Five-0 sponsored Little League team Williams once coached.

The DA's office employed Lukela's daughter and one of Chin's sons. HPD still held many old friends that cooperated with the former head of Five-0. Dan wondered how all this set with the two top officers of Five-0. Neither knew well nor appreciated the two old veterans who maintained such powerful influences on the local law enforcement community. He decided not to ask since it would put Chase in a compromising position and because he really didn't care. That was all part of the past. He was concerned with the future.

Williams wished he had some of Steve's famous Irish luck and charm working in his favor now. Home-grown fundamentalists, historians, and traditionalists all objected to his choice of honoree for the dedication tomorrow. Perhaps all the headway he made with his ohana appeals would disintegrate with this grand gesture. He did not expect any overt violence or threat to anyone's life, but felt there would be some kind of ugly demonstration and possibly vocal harassment from some paid political agitators in the crowd. Hawaiian Nationalists and Kumu knew how to play to the sympathies of the native Polynesian population and had tried to turn that against him on numerous occasions. The ploy had only limited success because of his own profound sincerity with salvaging Hawaii's resources, people and land. His heritage as an island son still counted with many other natives. He believed it was enough to keep his term in office a victory for Hawaii, if not a popularity event.

"Well, I've made a few enemies here and there, especially the Kumu. I trust everything is covered for tomorrow."

"Yes, sir. HPD and Five-0 are on it. Do I think they pose any special threat tomorrow? No, Five-0 has uncovered no evidence of that, and I personally don't see any reason they should resort to such public violence. But I'm watching for them anyway, including Alika and Pauli Tanaka."

"Sounds good, Chase. Now, I think you better get me home before I'm late for the luau. I think we just have time to make it."

"Take you home?"

"You're my security escort, right?"

"Was I that obvious, sir?"

"I won't tell your boss, Chase, don't worry."

"Which boss would that be, Governor?"

"Don't get cheeky," Williams smiled, "or I'll tell Lynd. He'll probably assign you to protect McGarrett."

Chase groaned, only half-kidding. "Please, Governor, anything but that!"

 


Footnotes:

(1) TALONS OF THE DRAGON

(2) WOE TO WO FAT: Conclusion

 


 

Paradise seemed an individual concept, each person defining an elusive Eden within their own imagination and comparing it to the realities of twentieth-century earth. Without doubt this was McGarrett's Eden, his heaven of the heart. Paradise: perfect blue water rippling gently on a sandy beach, palm trees rustling in the tropic breeze, scent of flowers permeating the warm, briny-breath of ocean, cerulean sky streaked with the pink, gold and purple clouds of sunset. In the air the sweet sounds of laughter and the music of a steel-guitar wafted as pleasant background to the matchless moment.

Steve turned to glance at the assembled people scattered on the manicured lawn edging the sand. Never one to indulge or circulate through a crowd, this gathering was different. Atypically, he mingled and chatted. These were his ohana: Lukelas, Ben Kokua and family; Jenny Sherman, their former secretary, and her husband; assorted Kellys; Daniel Kulani and his calabash -- extremely extended -- family. There were long-time supporters of Dan's ecology efforts and campaigns: Richard DeMorra and Kimba Rose; Judge Carol Baldwin; Dr. Dawn Holliday, the Medical Examiner, and a neighbor residing on the Koko Head side of the estate; Thomas Magnum, who'd purchased the security business from McGarrett and Williams. Rick Wright arrived with Jonathan Higgins, Chairman of the Board of the King Kamehameha Club and colleague of McGarrett's and Williams' in numerous charities. The only one of the old guard not in attendance was Kono Kalakaua, who's duties as Chief of Police in South Hilo did not allow him to come to Oahu until the ceremony.

A few current officers from the Five-0 ranks mingled: Nephi Hilton and family, along with Suzy Kelly and family and some HPD officers. Most appeared to be casually fraternizing. Some were a bit too wary, a little too intent on the almost hidden earplug-phones. The equipment and demeanor betrayed those on security detail like the vigilant Lt. Wolfe and all the Five-0 detectives.

So, Five-0 -- Chase -- WAS on the ball, Steve concluded with satisfaction. This might seem like a calabash family (close friends, not necessarily blood-relatives) luau, but there was no casual relaxation for the well armed guests currently employed by the state. Good cops all, they were never completely off duty. Speaking of Chase he noted the detective and the prominent host, were absent. Resisting the urge to call Danno on the cell phone, he decided to wait a few more minutes. No sense panicking, or letting anyone think he was a nervous old tutu, grandmother.

 

*****

Rush hour traffic still clogged the H-1, but the limousine made good time, helped along largely by the motorcycle escort. In the comfortable back seat, Dan glanced out the tinted side window, wondering what his constituents thought of the excessive display of force. It would probably be read as indulgence. At least the limo was an extended luxury Lincoln, not a stretch presidential style. The gubernatorial budget couldn't handle anything bigger. Another mark against his administration, he sighed, wishing he could think in terms other than politics. Maybe he should go for an old VW bus in these economically tight times.

"Hope we're not running on Hawaiian time tonight, Governor."

"Don't worry, Sandi, they'll wait for me," Williams countered dryly.

"Yes, sir. But I'll get us there wikiwiki."

"Safely and wikiwiki," Chase corrected.

Despite the traffic they made good progress. Officer Sandi Welles was his driver for the evening and she had earned top marks for her driving skills. Dan had liked her since she assisted Five-0 on cases back in the 70's, but always made sure she was the driver when he did not have important paperwork or meetings during the trip. She was a first class marksman, detective, trained chauffeur, but she seemed to never stop talking!

"Of course, sir," Sandi insisted. "I wouldn't make a mistake with the Governor aboard."

Chase grinned. "Not like you did during that banquet."

The fair-skinned, blond policewoman blushed so deeply even the back of her neck turned red. Dan stifled a laugh. Even he remembered the infamous incident when she left her cell phone on and received a call, interrupting his speech. Lynd had nearly suspended her. She had been trying to get back in the Five-0 boss's good graces ever since. That was one reason Dan requested her as his driver. She might be a little irritating sometimes, but Dan completely trusted her with his life.

As they sped toward the end of the freeway, merging into lanes for Kalanianaole Highway, a rental-self-haul truck swung sharply over from two lanes. Before he could utter a warning the huge vehicle broadsided the limo, sending the big car sideways into the railing.

Williams' seatbelt held, hitting his chest with a blow. The jarring crash knocked his head into the bullet-proof side window and for a moment his vision irised to black as the car rocked to a standstill. Before his vision cleared, the limo slammed into reverse, Sandi trying to free the car and get her VIP out of danger. The truck wedged nearly on top of them and after a moment of agonizing screeches of metal on metal, Sandi gave up. In the next instant Aki had Williams by the arm and pushed him from the car, moving him to an unmarked vehicle just screeching to a halt behind the limo. Tossed into the backseat, they sped off before Aki closed the car door.

"Are you all right, Governor?" Chase asked, assessing Williams' head and face as he dialed a cell phone.

"Fine."

Eyesight finally adjusted, head pounding, Dan looked out the back window. Feeling part of an adventure movie, he watched as plainclothes officers, pistols drawn, covered the driver who had staggered out of the cab. A ball of orange fire puffed around the truck, the popping sound of explosions barely discernible. Seconds later he gasped as the limo folded from the force of a blast.

"Sandi!"

"She got out," Aki assured, pocketing his cell phone. "Another unit is bringing her to the hospital just to make sure she's okay. You'll see her there."

"Hospital?"

Chase tapped his own temple. "Can't have you arriving at your luau wounded."

Dan touched his face, wincing at the tender, puffy, damp skin. The roaring headache and slight bleeding testified to minor injury. Standard procedure insisted he go to the nearest hospital. He leaned back, forcing the pain out of his skull -- at least far enough for thoughts to share the brain space . . . the first notion being the familiar recognition that Steve was right again.

 

*****

Strolling over to a line of palm trees, McGarrett stopped, apparently observing the sunset. Noiselessly appearing beside him was a lithe, wavy-haired man dressed in casual clothes. Looking at him, no one would guess the man was an ex-Intelligence operative, a ninja and former member of the dreaded Black Dragons of Japan. Jonathon Raven had crossed his path several times when Steve ran Aikane Security. They might seem like unlikely associates, but Raven's commando-type methods worked. Originally coming to the Islands in search of his son, Raven became a self-styled Lone Ranger, helping those in need of justice. Eventually locating his son, Raven continued with the unique line of work. Deadly to his considerable enemies, Raven had proven to be a valuable ally. Running on his own code of ethics and morals, Raven's loyalty to his few friends was absolute, and Steve was happy to be counted as an associate, and not a foe.

"Looks like the Governor has bodyguards tripping over each other," Jonathan mildly observed. "I appreciate the invite, Steve, but I don't think you need my services."

A stocky, bearded man with a plate full of food and a bottle of beer joined them. Ski, short for Jablonski, filled the role of associate, side-kick and friend to Raven. Serving together in Vietnam, Raven as a covert operative and Jablonski as Army Special Forces, they made a formidable team on the unofficial side of the law. Their talents included incredible skills with martial arts, weapons and covert surveillance.

Ski offered them some food which Raven and McGarrett declined.

"Don't go sayin' that so fast, Jonathon, we could use the work. Not that you ever run out of money, but I sure do. And we don't want to insult our friends and their generous Hawaiian hospitality." Jablonski smiled at McGarrett, then continued in his Southern twang. "You were saying how much you needed our services?"

"These people are the Governor's friends," McGarrett nodded at the gathered guests. "They're trained professionals and all efficient in their jobs. You -- gentlemen -- are unique. You could spot the unusual, the detail that might make the difference. In any crowd you can be invisible." Assessing Raven, he added, "I don't expect anyone to know you're watching over Governor Williams. I just expect you to protect him from things that might be missed by the others."

"What makes you so sure your friend is in the sights of the bad guys?" Ski asked.

"My gut instinct," he responded, daring the men to refute the statement.

"Good enough for me," Ski admitted after a moment. With a wave he returned to the food tables.

Raven nodded and walked away, seemlessly melting into the crowd.

A flash of color caught in the corner of Steve's eye. He followed the blur of a young girl, his goddaughter, darting in and out of the trees just down the beach. Then a boy, his godson, in a bright aloha shirt, his pant legs rolled up to the knees, dashed from behind a tree into the surf. Seconds later the slighter, younger sister in a similar outfit chased him along the sand toward McGarrett. Several other children followed, but the race was clearly between the antagonistic pair in the lead. Whooping with laughter, the two raced toward the outrigger beached just a few feet away from him. Smiling, he watched as the taller young man tagged the canoe with his hand and triumphantly giggled at his rival, who touched the boat a few seconds later.

"Told you I'd beat you, Angie. I always do," he taunted lightly. "You're a sucker."

In response the girl shoved him into the canoe. "I'll beat you someday," she vowed, breathless from the competition.

The others ran up and tagged the canoe. They backed away as they noticed the imposing figure of McGarrett. The pair of racers looked up, startled to speechlessness. The others scattered, leaving the boy and girl, Stephen and Angel Williams, to face the adult. The sweet fragrance of fresh hibiscus touched him an instant before an arm intimately wrapped around his. Smiling, he glanced down at Kelly Williams, clinging affectionately to his arm.

"Hooligans the pair of them," she grinned with pride at her son and daughter despite her flippant designation. "You're not supporting this, are you, Steve?"

"An innocent bystander," he insisted virtuously.

He studied the offenders, then appraised the charming woman next to him. No doubt to anyone the bubbling children were related to the vivacious lady: auburn hair, dark complexions, the hint of Pacific heritage in the exotic, dark blue eyes. The red hibiscus over her left ear gave her aloha print dress and her face a hint of a mysterious, ethnic beauty. With their arrival, his paradise was nearly complete.

"We can explain, mom," the eleven year old boy volunteered as he struggled up out of the canoe. With a hand of assistance from his sister he completed the task and inelegantly dusted sand off his clothes. "You asked us to entertain the little kids -- "

The sister interrupted. "And we thought a race would be --"

"Nevermind," the mother smiled. "And not a word of encouragement to them, Steve."

"I won't," he agreed, but gave them a wink. "But you two better race in to the house and get cleaned up before your father gets here."

"Lucky for you he's on Hawaiian time again," she told her children in mock reproof.

Both miscreants smiled. "Thanks, Uncle Steve," the girl yelled as she slapped her brother on the back, jolting him off balance and giving her a head start.

"Dan must be here," Mrs. Williams deduced. "Syd is moving in for the kill."

McGarrett noted the crowd gravitating toward the house. Guests maneuvered for advantageous positions. Officer Nephi Hilton assessed everyone with sharp observation as the big cop gravitated to the back door. A short, stocky Hawaiian man bustled through the crowd and Hilton dogged him, alert for any threat he might represent. Suzi Kelly strolled over to chat with Mrs. Williams, but Steve noted the Five-0 policewoman warily watched the crowd, the beach, as she visited with her old friend.

Steve studied the Eurasian beauty on his arm, easily detecting the aggravation in her tone. A loving and loyal wife, she became protective when the political leeches crowded Dan. Steve felt the same way, but managed to conceal his dislike with a little more tact. Kelly could openly object to members of the Governor's retinue, but McGarrett was really nothing more than a family friend. He had no rights or privileges for expressing opinions in public. In private, well, he was never shy about giving Danno advice. Offering pointers to others, like Chase or Lynd, was also unofficial and off the record, but it never went further than their ears. Dealing with the machinery of politics was something he left to Dan, and to the necessary evils; campaign managers and advisors, like Syd Samuels.

Even for an official function the security seemed tight; for a casual gathering it was excessive. McGarrett's sixth sense kicked to alert status when he realized the detectives' intent attention to messages over the earsets.

"Should we go rescue him?"

Steve wondered, momentarily concerned his friend was literally smothered by the crowd. It was a security nightmare, but he saw Lynd on point, with Chase glued to the Governor's side. Nephi Hilton, then Lt. Wolfe of HPD, had somehow squeezed in like bookends to buffer Williams from the others. Although this was a private party, security was efficient and unusually taut. Pleased Chase had taken his admonitions, McGarrett breathed a little easier.

"Maybe we should just wait."

"Fine with me," she agreed, observing the crush with distaste. "Syd is pressuring Dan to announce a bid for reelection. Did he mention it to you?"

"No."

The question was a matter of public debate, but Steve still felt disappointed that the time was upon Williams to make a decision. With renewed popularity due to the ohana sentiment, the majority of citizens of Hawaii loved Williams, and Syd was pressing for a declaration and vigorous campaign to take advantage of the timing. Without asking, he knew Kelly opposed the idea. Weary of the public life, nervous about the climate of hostility from Hawaiian Nationalists, she wanted her husband back with the family.

In the difficult position of supporting his closest friend in whatever decision was made, Steve empathized with Kelly. For the good of the state and future of Hawaii, he knew Dan should take on another four years because he was the best man for the job. Personally, he would like to spend more time with his friend. In their careers with Five-0, he had faced similar dilemmas, always allowing duty to win over personal considerations. There was no longer a need for that altruistic commitment. Watching Danno work the crowd, greeting and talking with friends, Steve knew, at heart, he shared one motivation with Mrs. Williams. They wanted Dan out of the jeopardy hovering at the edges of their idyllic lives.

With a wave the Governor acknowledged them, finally weaving through the well wishers with Mack Wolfe as his shadow. It wasn't until he was nearly face-to-face that they saw the small bandage on the side of Dan's head.

"Just a minor traffic accident," he brushed off, giving his wife a kiss and hug. Over her head his expression to his friend promised an explanation later.

Aware of the not-so-subtle presence of more officers, they sauntered down the beach, McGarrett tingling with impatient anxiety. Wolfe discretely stayed several paces back and Steve knew others were lurking nearby.

"What kind of accident?" Kelly insisted. "You're supposed to have a protected limo -- "

"A drunk driver in a big truck," Dan explained quickly. "Lynd personally handled everything. He met me at the hospital." Kelly carefully touched the bandage, her distress turning to alarm. "Just a scrape, really, dear," Dan assuaged calmly and kissed her. "We swung by the hospital, just as a precaution, and I'm fine. That's why I'm so late. But this time it really wasn't my fault I was on Hawaiian time." He offered a smile that failed to reassure her.

"It's a bad omen."

"No, it's a local juiced up on Primo who's never going to drive again," he countered lightly. The tone did not convince his audience, and he tried again with forced cheeriness. "So, you're supposed to be the guest of honor, Steve, why am I the popular one?"

After a beat. "You have all the luck, Danno," playing along with the game. Dan didn't want Kelly any more spooked than she already was, so Steve would hold his tongue. For now.

"Don't let him con you," Kelly countered, relaxing a little. "He got an even bigger reception than you, Dan."

"Maybe they want YOU to run for governor, Steve!"

"You know my answer to that, Danno."

"All right, let's not talk politics, or business or anything serious tonight, okay?" She took both Steve's and Dan's arms. "Let's party. No worries, no pressures, just a celebration of Five-0's most notorious cop."

Steve's grinned mischievously. "Oh, you mean your husband's past exploits -- "

"Don't go there, Steve," Williams warned.

"Okay. Not tonight," he promised with a grin.

Seated on low tables in the sand, the huge crowd ate traditional kalua pig, poi, lomi salmon and assorted untraditional additions. Flickering torchlight wavered in the night breeze. A Hawaiian band played old standards and new ballads as old friends reminisced and relived a colorful past. Touched by so many well-wishers in one place and time, McGarrett found himself growing alternately nostalgic and disconcerted as the evening progressed. It felt worse than retirement, and he put down the feeling to anxiety over the ceremony on the morrow. Public accolades were sentimental and he disliked such personal scrutiny. The unrestricted speculations and reminders of the past were unavoidable but distasteful. He would rather live a quiet life now. Somehow he knew that was not in his destiny.

During the evening he met with Rick, who had no new information on Alika, Mano or any others. His new assignment would be to discover every possible detail of the crash. Chase also claimed no new tidbits, but McGarrett was less certain of that source. Thomas Lynd circulated, refusing to wear the fresh lei offered all guests because it detracted from the cut of his expensive suit. Like a politician, he was seen by many and saw those who mattered. After a few moments with the Williams' he paused next to McGarrett.

"I wager you're anticipating tomorrow as much as the Governor," Lynd commented politely, his cultured British accent lending the civility lacking in his cool gaze. "He's gone to great trouble to make everything perfect."

"He's lucky to be here to enjoy it," Steve snapped.

"My people saved the Governor's life today!"

"It should have never been risked in the first place."

"It was an accident, plain and simple, McGarrett. Unless you have evidence otherwise?" He received a glare as an answer. "I thought not. You are seeing mobsters behind every palm tree, McGarrett. You are paranoid."

"Not at all. I'm concerned for the Governor. I'm a cautious man by nature."

"And yet you declined an escort for tomorrow. How can we protect you if you won't let us?"

The words almost echoed from the past, so many times he'd disregarded his own safety in favor of the case or other considerations.

"I have business at the airport," he vaguely explained. "My safety doesn't concern me. The Governor's does."

"As it concerns me," Lynd stressed sternly. "Hawaiian Nationalists and Governor Williams are taken care of, McGarrett. Just worry about your speech for tomorrow. I'll oversee the rest. It will be a great day for him, but you seem unimpressed."

"I prefer backstage these days."

"Well, I heard you were less than pleased with security arrangements." The tone matched the eyes now, frosty and distant.

"No, I just wanted to make sure everyone was doing their job," McGarrett countered, his words designed to antagonize the arrogant policeman. Devilment and anger urged him on to accuse, "The Governor's life is in Five-0's hands. It's not a trivial trust."

"And you're implying that we are treating it as such?

"After today's accident I think you need improvement."

"The Governor's safety is in my hands personally, McGarrett. Let me do my job!"

Watching the Brit walk away, Steve wondered why they disliked and antagonized each other, and came up with no suitable answer.

People talked or danced for some time, but McGarrett stayed in the background. Never a chatty party person, he talked with selected guests and friends or visited with the Williams children. Chase gave him details about the crash but not enough to satisfy the former cop.

Dan, cornered by Syd, relocated the vigorous conversation into the house with Detective Hilton close behind. An irritated Kelly took the children in to prepare for bed. After the crowds drifted away Steve sought solitude on the shore. Walking along the surf he lost track of the time. He didn't realize the party was over until he encountered Wolfe escorting Dr. Holliday home. Wolfe revealed no more facts about the accident, although Steve suspected he knew a lot about what had happened.

Outwardly, the couple seemed so mismatched. Holliday was sophisticated, beautiful, elegant and incredibly intelligent. Wolfe on the other hand, was very rough around the edges, a former Army MP, now a tough-as-nails cop with a reputation for high living and spending. Most of that was in his past, now, according to McGarrett's myriad sources. The beefy, broad Wolfe was smitten by the petite, vivacious blond ME, and the feelings seemed reciprocated. Arms casually draped around each other, their intimate ease reflected the affection, maybe more, which sparked between them when their eyes met. Neither a gossip nor a romantic busybody, Steve was still aware of those around him, and this couple needed little interpretation of their body language.

"Good luck with your speech tomorrow," Holliday told him. "Sorry I'll miss it. I have to work."

"So do I," Wolfe proclaimed in a bid for sympathy.

She jabbed him in the ribs. "My job's harder. Did I tell you about the autopsy I'm doing tomorrow?"

Around a bite of his ubiquitous red licorice he teased, "My job's harder." He gave a wry glance to Steve. "I have to guard your neighbors."

"I think you drew the short straw," McGarrett told the HPD Lieutenant.

Bidding him good-night, they continued on to Holliday's house. Returning to the Williams' yard, he found only one person backlit in the torchlight.

"So what happened, Danno?"

Williams related his collision report, certain it was an unhappy accident. Having no facts to support an alternate theory, McGarrett chose to remain vague in his suspicions. He once more stressed caution.

"Nervous about tomorrow?" Dan changed the subject as he strolled with his friend.

Reluctantly Steve dropped his repeated pleas for circumspection. "Only of you embarrassing me."

"I promise, I won't," Dan beamed. "Well, not too much. Maybe I'll be brief and let you read the rest. But you can't deny me this chance at honoring you, Steve. It's been so long overdue and it's something you deserve."

Overcoming his dislike of public accolades, he accepted the compliment as graciously as possible. "Well, you're the Governor -- "

"I've heard THAT before!" Williams laughed, "In almost the same tone, too with poor Jameson. Now I know a little of what he had to endure with you!"

"Me?" McGarrett's tone denied. "I do appreciate the gesture, Danno, but you know I hate the publicity."

"I'll restrain myself. Trust me." He ignored the sceptical glare from his friend. "Too bad Agnes won't be here to share your moment of glory. Did she tell you the stars are in your favor?" Dan grinned at his own jibe, then laughed noting McGarrett did not share the humor.

McGarrett forced a bland expression to cover his displeasure at the joke about his ladyfriend and her profession. "I don't need to consult the stars about tomorrow."

Reunions with his on-again/off-again intimate Agnes DuBois were warm, stormy and delightful. A renowned spiritualist, they met on a case decades ago when she read horoscopes for a living. She successfully predicted the next murder of a serial killer, claiming his attention and curiosity, even suspicion at first. After their first date she was under his skin enough to ask her out frequently. Often he clashed with her philosophies, yet remained magnetically drawn to her charm, wit and beauty. Still residing in Honolulu, she occasionally stayed at his house on Kauai when she was not world-hopping, but was never there long enough to strain the relationship. Agnes was one of the few women in his life who had the strength and diversity to endure the McGarrett personality. Their biggest hurtle usually surfaced in the form of her 'sensitive impressions' and horoscope-related predictions. Early in their relationship he laid down the law and demanded she would not use her talents and gifts to try to influence him. Occasionally she stretched those boundaries and could not contain her psychical insight.

Steve did not want to mention she broke that long-standing decree last night when she phoned him and all but predicted ill-fortune for the gathering on the morrow. He didn't need his stars read to know what instinct told him so clearly. Trouble was brewing on the Hawaiian horizon and his best friend was right in the center of the target. Still irritated at her fanciful, metaphysical predilections, he intended to discuss the problem tomorrow -- after the ceremony -- when Danno was out of danger.

They walked in silence to the end of the property. Leaning against a palm tree, McGarrett watched the undulating waves shimmer in the silvery glow of moonlight. Somewhere along Maunalua Bay a dog barked, music played on a radio, a car honked on the nearby highway. He wished this moment could stretch on forever, but paradise could never be sustained infinitely. The unseen presence of Raven in the trees behind them attested to the reality that life could not be perfect. Even in paradise there were snakes in the grass.

"So how long you staying in Honolulu?"

"Probably go back home tomorrow night," McGarrett replied. "Agnes will be here for a few weeks before a seminar in Hong Kong."

"It'll be good to see her again."

"Yeah, it will, Danno."

"You going with her to Hong Kong?"

"I haven't decided."

Williams leaned on the tree, shoulder to shoulder with his friend. "The kids have never been to Hong Kong. Maybe we'll go with you."

McGarrett stared. "What, just pick up and leave for a family vacation?"

"Something like that." He paused, choosing his words carefully, trying too hard to be casual. "I'll be pretty busy the next few months, finishing up all the campaign promises and everything before November. I want to break Kumu for good, and get that development ban finished for Maui."

The tone alerted him, and McGarrett scrutinized his companion. Something was going on with his friend and Steve hoped it was good news. Williams' expression conveyed a sense of doubt, and Steve jumped in with both feet.

"What? Something's up, Danno, what is it? You're running for reelection?"

"I wanted you to be the first to know. No, I won't be running again."

McGarrett laughed from relief. Never realizing the tense anxiety over his friend's safety, McGarrett released a deep sigh and put an arm around Williams.

"Great, Danno, great," he sighed in heartfelt satisfaction. "That's what Syd was upset about?"

"Yeah, I told him I wouldn't run. He said some very flattering things, calling my ohana plea the 'ohana campaign.' Then he realized he couldn't change my mind, so he said some very unfaltering things which I won't repeat." Grinning, he confessed, "Nephi escorted him to the door. So, one more enemy, I guess," he finished with a shrug.

Dismissing the annoying man from his mind, McGarrett declared his relief at the decision. Williams admitted his own sense of release. The upcoming ceremony created enough stress and old scandals, he didn't need another four years of attacks. He was ready to turn his attention to his family.

"You should tell Kelly, she's been worried. The accident didn't help."

McGarrett released his hold, but Williams held on. "Let's both go. This calls for a celebration with my ohana."

 

*****

He could have sent a driver, or even a limo, but McGarrett always liked the personal touch of meeting his loved ones at the airport. Alohas were never easy when saying good-bye, but were so pleasant when greeting. Today his 'aloha' would be a bit astringent he admitted as he rehearsed his comments for Agnes and her earth-muffin philosophies. Morning rush hour traffic on the H-1 thinned and he had time -- just none to spare -- to meet Agnes and return for the ceremony, as long as the flight from San Francisco was not delayed and no unforeseeable circumstances arose.

The tempestuous relationship was an alternating blessing and trial in Steve's life, but mostly a blessing. Agnes Du Bois' unusual assistance on the 'Horoscope murders' as the press labeled them, initiated an intense chemistry sparked between the two volatile personalities. Time together between the ex-cop and the earthy, transplanted British new-ager proved an adventurous and arduous journey. As always, when he thought of her, affection overcame aggravation and he was anxious to see her again.

The abrupt broadside hit knocked his head into the steering wheel. Dazed, he fought from plunging off the road as a sugar cane truck slammed into him again. Vision blurred from another blow on the head, he nearly missed the shape of a shotgun coming out of the truck's window. Slamming on the brakes, he ducked as the windshield shattered from the gun blast. The car skidded over the embankment and into a grassy ravine.

 

*****

 

"This is not like Steve," Williams insisted as he paced inside the front double doors of Iolani Palace. Too many memories here. They were making him jumpy. There had to be a reasonable explanation for Steve's absence, but he couldn't think of one and the old ghosts and recollections were playing on his nerves. So many good times here. He glanced up at the rooms once housing Five-0. So many tough times, too. All of them revolving around his best friend. "Something's wrong."

"He'll be here," Kelly insisted, adjusting the ilima and maile leaf leis traditionally worn by alii. Everyone on the program wore them, McGarrett's still clutched in Williams' hand. "You're strangling it, dear," she warned, rescuing the leis. "He's making an entrance."

Staring out the windows with a grim set to his features, Dan shook his head. "Something's wrong. Maybe that accident -- " He glanced at her, aware the speculations of danger weren't helping her nerves.

Agitatedly brushing her husband's jacket, Kelly's tentative confidence thinned. "Last night you kept insisting everything was fine, Governor. Be still and be patient." She stopped when her fingers rubbed the outline of the thin body armor under his suit.

He noted the distressed expression and reassuringly squeezed her hand. "Don't worry, nothing will happen. Steve just insisted --"

"Good," she agreed. "He doesn't want anything left to chance and neither do I."

Lynd issued last minute instructions to Officers Welles, Hilton and Kelly. Sandi was warned twice to keep her cell phone off. Lynd would not tolerate another embarrassing inturruption from his officers. Only Williams' intervention kept Welles on the front lines now because he knew Sandi, knew the others and trusted them with his life and the lives of his loved ones. He wouldn't have it any other way. Despite Lynd's cautions, Dan asked him to keep his cell phone on in case McGarrett contacted him. Steve phoning Lynd with an emergency was unlikely, but possible. He wouldn't care if Steve called the band director, as long as word got through that his friend was all right.

"The time, Governor Williams," Lynd urged.

Ignoring the comment he glared at Lynd who was irritatingly calm, intently observing him. "Have you checked the airport? Maybe Agnes 's flight was late. Why didn't he just send a driver?" he asked everyone and no one.

Kelly firmly took him by the arm and cornered him by the koa wood balustrade. "Governor, you are more nervous than when I went into labor the first time! Chill! He's all right. He has to be! Steve is not going to miss this." Her voice softened. "It's too important to you."

He ran a hand through his gray hair. "I know. It's important to Steve, too, but he doesn't show it as visibly as I do."

"We need to get out there, Governor," Lynd called. "The band's gone through the cue song twice already." To emphasize the top man's duty he stood behind Dan. "We're running late, sir."

"Keep a lid on your British punctuality, Lynd. We're on Hawaiian time today. Nobody minds a little wait in the sun. Whose checking on Steve?"

"Chase and Wolfe. They haven't reported back yet. As soon as McGarrett shows, we'll get him on the stand. There is no need to worry, sir. That drunk, Kalama, was the only threat Hawaiian Nationalists will carry out, I promise you."

Lynd had identified the driver as a repeat DUI offender and a member of Hawaiian Nationalists. Holding a grudge against Williams, spotting the limo was more than he could pass up. Kalama was securely in jail and there was no evidence of any conspiracy.

"You need to get out there, Governor."

In agreement, Kelly tugged her husband toward the doors. "I'll make a few calls, dear. You have time. I padded the program with lots of history and stuffy professors, remember? You big shots come last."

"Don't you want to be on the stand?"

"No, you go ahead, I'll try to find Steve." With a smirk she quipped, "You could always have Syd fill in if Steve doesn't make it."

That brought a short laugh from him. "Yeah, except we're not on speaking terms anymore. Ohana was only skin deep with him."

Sarcastically she countered, "You're too controversial today, love." She handed him the mangled leis then gave him a quick kiss. "Break a leg."

Exiting the Palace to overwhelming applause, Dan plastered on a smile he didn't feel and waved to the crowd. The morning was sunny and bright, belaying the contentions swirling around him. What should have been one of the best days of his life, and Steve's, was being slowly eroded by the minute. He wondered if the Hawaiian gods were inflicting some wrath on him for misdeeds to his aina. Slightly mollified by the sight of so many friends in the audience, he forced himself to relax.

The morning newspaper and news shows splashed Syd Samuel's statements into the forefront. Bitter at the rejection the night before, Syd unloaded his vituperation on everyone who would listen. Breaking the news Dan would not run for reelection, Syd and others speculated on the old scandals. Plenty of unsavory theories completely overshadowed the Palace rededication. It would have overwhelmed the ceremony, except that the occasion sparked even more suspicions about Williams'/Five-0's/McGarrett's past. Consequently, reporters from the Honolulu newspapers, local TV news and radio rippled along the base of the dais, controlled by HPD guards.

Ignoring the all too close cameras and settling into his seat on the podium, Williams scanned the crowd. No sign of Steve. Down the driveway, no car racing up at the last minute, tires screeching, and Steve running out. Not like the old days now. His eyes caught Five-0 and HPD personnel warily weaving through the crowd. Sandi Welles and Nephi Hilton were close to Kelly. Thomas Magnum, the former PI who now ran their security business, Rick Wright, Ben Kokua and some other old friends were toward the front of the stand, almost in a defensive posture. Big Kono Kalakaua was noticeably absent. Guess he couldn't get away from his duties in Hilo. Probably better off. Pushing the paranoid thoughts away, he dismissed his suspicions as nervous anxiety over Steve's absence. Why would anyone be after Steve? After all these years of retirement, Hawaiian Nationalists or even Kumu had no reason to threaten his friend. Certainly the incident yesterday WAS an isolated attack?

He was no longer second-in-command of Five-0. Leaving to investigate the mystery, no matter how close to his heart, was impossible. Sometimes authority and duty could not grant what he truly needed or wanted. Logic did nothing to ease his mind and he forced himself to focus on the task at hand. No matter how much he wanted to call off the ceremony, he could not. Friends and family were here in force to support this important recognition of Five-0 and Steve and the Palace. Dan could not disappoint them, or Steve.

The Hawaiian Nationalists protesters, as promised, had a vocal and large contingent just outside the Palace gates, but thanks to the threatening letter the group had a restraining order to not come close to the Governor. While lawyers argued the rights of the protesters, at least this day he would have some leeway. More unhappy constituents. He expected Pauli Tanaka, always a hot-head, to storm the gates or something. Five-0 was alerted to such a stunt, but Williams no longer worried about the inconsequential dramatics. It all seemed a little removed and displaced to him now. Instead, that terrible old fear in the center of his heart was resurrected, the fear for Steve's life. It had been a while since that awful dread clutched him so tight he could hardly breath, but today it was back like a bad nightmare. All his instincts told him something had happened to Steve, and nothing else mattered. The protests, the reelection, the hate, the danger to himself, were all receded into insignificance. Steve was in trouble, and as was frequently his fate in the past, he could do nothing personally to help.

*****

McGarrett heard people talking over the loud thundering in his head. Hands gently pulled at his shoulders and tugged his foot away from something confining. Opening his eyes, he stared up at the sky, through the starred, shattered glass of the windshield and twisted metal of what used to be the car's roof. With aid he crawled out of the wrecked car before his mind completely comprehended he had been in an accident. Dazed, he sat on the grass, bleeding head cradled in his hands.

Slowly memories of his destination filtered through the painful throbbing between his ears. Airport. He had been going to pick up Agnes . Ceremony. The ceremony at the Palace. If there had ever been any doubts about a threat to Danno's life, this hit certainly dispelled them! To try such an overt shooting of McGarrett, meant that the bad guys expected him to be dead. Then Williams was as good as dead.

Wiping the blood out of one eye, he blinked until his vision no longer blurred. Several people chattered questions at him while others were scrambling down the embankment to help. They solicitously gave advice, held a cloth to his head wound and assured him he would live.

Asking the time, he realized the ceremony was already underway. How long had he been out? Irrelevant. Sternly pushing away the assistants, he struggled to his feet and asked if any one could drive him into Honolulu. One of the volunteers was a young man with a Jeep, a surfboard strapped to the roll bar.

"How fast can you drive that thing?" Steve asked, already stumbling toward the highway.

The young man in cut-offs and a surf T-shirt helped him. "Can go fast as you want, bruddah. Long as you pay da ticket, eh, bra?"

McGarrett accepted his offer and asked any witnesses to stay at the scene for HPD officers. Climbing into the high, open vehicle, McGarrett felt every ache and bump from the accident and the rheumatic discomforts from years of gunshots, accidents and injuries. The physical distress was nothing compared to his mental anxiety as they raced toward the city.

Unable to raise Lynd or Chase on their cell phones, he contacted HPD dispatch and identified himself, explaining the attempt on his life. This put the Governor's accident in a new perspective and McGarrett's urgency increased.

"It's crucial to protect the Governor!" he shouted to the woman on the other end of the line. "Full HPD alert! I also need HPD to pick up an Agnes Du Bois at the airport, she could be a target as well. Also, I am in a black Jeep heading downtown on the H-1. If any patrol car spots us, we'd appreciate a code red escort." If the HPD woman had a problem with a former officer issuing such arrogant orders, she never said. Hearing a promise that his warnings would be heeded, McGarrett tried Lynd's and Chase's phones again. Finally connecting with Aki Chase, the second-in-command was on his way.

Juggling the phone in one hand and holding onto the roll bar with the other, Steve nearly regretted his request for speed. Swerving around some slow cars, Steve almost lost the phone out the open door.

"Guess I should've asked if you could drive," he complained.

"Eh, Pipeline, dat's me, eh. I slide tru dees cars like deh smokin' waves, bra. Gonna get you downtown wikiwiki, dat's wha' you ask fo', eh? Is sum heavy stuff, man, savin' the Gov'nor and stuff."

Steve rubbed the side of his head, willing the headache to leave. The disorienting pain, the suicidal zigzag speeding, and the incomprehensible slang of his chauffeur were making him ill. When they missed a minivan by mere inches, he diverted his eyes, for the first time noting the Rose company logo etched on the dash and a crystal rose marker indented into the gear shift knob. He recognized the Jeep as one Richard DeMorra usually drove.

He speed dialed another number, listening to the rings.

"This is Richard DeMorra's Jeep, isn't it?" Steve asked his driver.

Suspiciously, Pipeline evaded. "Eh, Richard, he's aikane, like ohana. We tight like seaweed, bra."

McGarrett didn't even try to figure that out. "Is this vehicle stolen?"

"No way, man."

He nodded. "Just get us to the Palace."

Frustrated with the endlessly ringing phone, McGarrett hung up and tried to reach Raven again.

Finally Raven answered. "Jonathon, where are you?"

"The side of the Palace. When the phone rang I was chased away by some overzealous --"

"You're not by the Governor?"

"No what's --"

"Someone just ran me off the road. They'll try and hit Danno!"

"He hasn't spoken yet -- "

"Don't let him!"

"Right," Raven responded and clicked off.

On surface streets now, an HPD patrol car slid into the lane ahead of them, lights and sirens flashing. Relieved, McGarrett knew his admonitions were being obeyed despite his unofficial capacity. Alongside the Jeep a convertible Camaro slipped in with Mack Wolfe driving, Aki Chase beside him. Chase held up a cell phone and McGarrett's beeped.

"Thanks, Chase. Any word from officers at the Palace?"

"Nothing, sir."

"You can't reach anyone? What's going on?"

"Lynd makes everyone turn off the cell phones during a public event."

"What?"

"It's a long story."

"Nevermind, just keep trying."

As they zigzagged through the streets at top speeds, Pipeline handled the car with the precision of a pro.

"Hey, you got da kine big deal goin' on, bra. Like, we gonna get shot at or somting? Cause, hey, dis ain't my Jeep, ya know."

"Don't worry, I'll square it with Richard if anything happens to the Jeep."

"You will? Right on, bra! I gonna keep you round fo awhile."

McGarrett was not too absorbed in his own dread to forget to thank the surfer. He would have to come up with a more appropriate recognition when this was over. The dispatcher called him back, confirming contact with an HPD detective at the Palace, who assured everything was fine. The ceremony was underway and all was well. Relieved Danno was still safe, his sixth sense was telling him the invulnerability would not last.

*****

 

Lynd, seated next to Williams, nudged his arm. With a start Dan realized the historian speaking was finishing. It was his turn to say a few words about Five-0 and Steve and introduce the man of the hour. Wiping sweat from his forehead, he knew heat was due to his nerves and the extra padding rather than the Hawaiian temperature. Glancing around as he took his place, he could hardly breathe from the weight of anxiety pressing his chest. How could he speak and act normally when Steve was in trouble? To stall for time, he asked the Royal Hawaiian Band to play another old favorite. A plainclothes officer discretely whispered something to Lynd, who gave a nod and whispered to the Governor that McGarrett was located and was on his way. The knot of tension in his chest dissipated with palpable relief. Shaky from bottled fear, he went to the podium. Leaning heavily on the solid wood, he saw the very noticable -- elegant, red-haired, classy -- Agnes Du Bois, join Kelly at the edge of the gathering. Dan smiled, satisfied everything was okay. Steve had probably come through the back of the Palace. He could go on with the program. So much for his instincts.

Unsteady opening lines came from his mouth, but as he read the words the shadow of his recent anguish clung close. He thought all this was behind them after Five-0, but it wasn't. Old enemies didn't forget, he knew, and he had never really stopped worrying for his friend's safety. A Jeep angled through the front gates at the angry screams of the protesters. It slammed to a stop just short of the crowd. McGarrett leaped out of the passenger side of the car, waving frantically to Williams. From out of nowhere Raven came toward the stand at a dead run.

 

*****

Aki Chase tried to stop the ex-Five-0 chief, but McGarrett pushed him aside. "Get the Governor down!" Steve cried, desperately waving to Williams. "Didn't you get my warning?" He shoved the cop aside and barreled toward the stand. "Danno, get down!"

Aware no one farther away than Chase could hear him over the tumult of the crowd, McGarrett continued to shout warnings. Williams stepped to the side of the podium. He never heard the first gunshot. People at the rear of the stand fell backwards. Raven leaped up on the dais as Williams was thrown back into the seats. Lynd tackled Raven to the floor on the third shot.

In a delayed reaction, the excited confusion of McGarrett's entrance shifted to the terror of indiscriminate gunfire. Succeeding shots rang through the air as someone shoved Steve to the ground, a weight on his back. The last shot echoed away before he wrestled free and was on his feet, shoving against the panicked spectators fleeing for their lives. Chase grabbed onto him, trying to hold him down or cover him, but McGarrett tore loose again, racing to the platform.

Lynd, left arm bleeding and limp, was shouting and gesturing in a direction behind McGarrett. Several HPDs raced in the direction of King Street. Camera crews slammed into him as they juggled for shots of the downed governor, of Steve, of a supposed sniper in the Judicial Building to the right of the King Kamehameha statue. Ignoring the chaos, McGarrett zeroed in on his objective. Reaching Williams was his single focus. A loud explosion erupted and once more Steve was tackled by the overzealous Chase. Wrestling free of his protector, he saw, over his shoulder, a fiery hole on the upper floor of the Judicial Building. Only briefly wondering what had happened, he scrambled back to his feet and ran to the dais.

Williams lay on his back, blood seeping from his chest and mouth. McGarrett scrambled up, clutching his friend, horrified at the wound. He cried out for someone to call an ambulance, his numb mind desperately screaming for a miracle.

"Danno!" he commanded. "Talk to me, Danno!"

Williams eyelids fluttered open and he looked to his friend, shock glazing the blue eyes.

"Danno," Steve's voice broke. "Hold on," he pleaded in a broken whisper.

"Steve -- take -- " the eyes closed. " -- care -- ohana . . . ."

"Danno! Danno!" McGarrett clutched the still form in his arms. One hand pressed to the wounded man, he realized blood was pouring through his fingers. Viscid liquid seeped from Williams' mouth. "He's bleeding too much. Lung's hit. We've got to get him out of here now!" he shouted; not sure if his voice carried past the dread tightening his throat, eyes too blurred to see if anyone was nearby. By the force of his will he would not let his friend die. There was still labored breathing from the bullet-torn chest and he wouldn't let this life end here. "Hang on. Hang on," he whispered, closing his eyes against the burning tears.

Hands tugged at him to release his grip. "Let's go!" said the second-in-command of Five-0.

Aki Chase and Thomas Magnum carried the Governor off the stand, Hilton, Wolfe and Welles covering with drawn pistols. The nearest car was Wolfe's Camero and McGarrett climbed in the back, the officers carefully but quickly placing Williams in next. Steve left a hand on the torn chest still pumping blood, assuring Dan was still alive. HPD escorts and the officers riding shotgun were peripheral notations. His only focus, only concern, was the life slipping away in his arms. The hospital was only minutes away, but in those precious minutes his friend could bleed to death. So close to him, Dan's face was waxenly pale against the copious splashes of blood.

They were almost at nearby Queen's hospital before he wondered what had happened to Kelly, if she or Agnes were hurt, or how the other victims had fared. He had a vague impression of seeing Agnes near Kelly. Lynd, and others on the stand down and bleeding, including the little old lady, Mrs. Pratt, who had ushered him off the steps the day before. Where was security? Why hadn't anyone acted on the warnings he phoned in on the way to Honolulu? Did they catch the assassin? He looked at the pale face close to him and all but one question fled: Would Danno live?

Moving through the corridors to the ER blurred into a surreal montage of motion, sound and terror as Williams body was carried to a stretcher and raced through the halls. Dr. David Kelly paused at the door of the examination room and waved at him. Someone asked Steve to sit down and he walked away, leaning against the wall of the ER, hearing the sound of Lynd's voice drone around in his mind. The inner pain was louder than the inquiries and he could only focus on his friend's fight for life. Two nurses and Lynd ejected him from the room to make more space for the trauma team.

At the doorway to the waiting room he leaned his head back and stared at the ER entrance. A hand on his arm startled him out of reverie. Agnes Du Bois, his beautiful, refined, cool and composed friend clung to his arm lending calm, silent aid while tears streaked down her face. Too unstable to speak, he simply hugged her with one arm. Understanding his turmoil, she quietly explained in her soothing, cultured Biritsh accent that Kelly was in an examination room, a bullet graze on the leg being treated. Four others, including Lynd, were being treated for more serious wounds. Judge Carol Baldwin was killed along with the elderly Mrs. Pratt and Professor Toshimoto. Agnes asked if he wanted her to stay and he shook his head. With an understanding hug she said she would stay with Kelly and left.

Activity in the always busy waiting room weaved around him as if he was an untouchable citadel. Aware of Five-0 and HPD officers, non-seriously injured casualties, and the other, regular patrons of ER, he felt removed and detached from the routine business. The odor of his friend's lifeblood still on his clothes and skin gave Steve a full sensory attachment with the tragedy. Inside he ached with fear. Dan could very well die and there was nothing he could do to stop the tragedy. Outside he itched with dried blood and tears, stained with evidence of his failure to preserve a life he treasured above everything.

 

*****

"Steve? Steve?"

McGarrett blinked, readjusting to the surrounds, dragging his attention from the misery within to the real, painful world. Dr. Daniel Kulani quietly repeated his name.

Dan's oldest childhood friend, and personal physician, Kana (his Hawaiian name) Kulani's usually bright face was grave, the customary energy drained from grief. Wearing surgical greens Kulani's grey/blond hair made him seem pale -- or was it the fear that drained his face? Arms and chest brushed crimson with blood, Kulani's tall, slender form exuded tragedy. Steve closed his eyes, refuting the visual evidence -- not so much the clothes and expression, but the bright blue eyes brimming with tears.

"Steve," Kulani gently repeated, "Dan's still alive."

Opening his eyes, Steve felt a shiver of fear deep into his bones at the tears sliding down Kulani's face. Kana assured again Williams was alive, but in extremely serious condition. One bullet to the chest clipped a lung and the aorta of the heart, causing internal bleeding. Out of surgery, the Governor was monitored in post-op now, weak and unstable. Kana took Steve to the doctor's lounge where stained clothes were exchanged for extras Kulani kept there.

"I'd like you to come with me to tell Kelly -- " he fought back a sob, while McGarrett cleaned away the evidence of the catastrophe. "We have to talk to her, and the kids, of course. Tutu is bringing them over."

So linked to Danno, he had given no thought to his godchildren, whom he loved as if they were his own. He had spared no attention to Kelly, who must be suffering more than he, as hard as that was to imagine. Usually more disciplined and unselfish, he had wallowed in indulgent pain for -- hours -- he saw, glancing at the clock. Time to pull himself together. He had failed to keep Danno safe, and life or death was beyond his abilities. Dan's fate rested in the hands of doctors and God. His duty now was to take care of his ohana.

'Steve, take care -- ' Danno had admonished. Take care of his ohana? He was sure the message was meant to convey that message. Take care of himself? Steve didn't want to think the 'last words' were so selflesslly for him -- for the friend who was not careful enough to prevent this. Steve had failed in his primary duty already, he would not fail in this secondary responsibility of keeping the Williams family safe.

"Finish getting changed and cleaned up," Kulani suggested, gesturing to McGarrett's appearance. "It would alarm the kids to see you like that."

"You can't bring Stephen and Angel here. Are they under guard? Kelly -- they need protection, they can't come here. Too open -- "

"Steve!" Kana inturrupted, pleadingly. "Steve, they have to --" his voice broke, "to say good-bye to their father. You know how important that is, Steve."

When he was thirteen years old, Steve's father had been killed, without a chance to say good-bye. Kulani and Danno hardly knew their parents, all killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor. They knew the agony of parental loss and Kulani didn't want the Williams children to suffer the void of shocking, sudden death without a chance to say last words. Aloha.

In that moment of rock-bottom grief and desolation, McGarrett knew a terminal point of anguish. The world collapsed around him, there was no refuge left. He could go no further into the dread and fear of losing Dan. His heart and soul could not fathom that death, therefore, he would not allow it to happen. Stephen and Angel would not lose their father, Kelly would not lose her husband, he would not lose his friend. If by no other means than his desperate determination, if it took his dying breath, he would not allow this death.

"He's not going to die," he grated out between clenched teeth.

Kulani shook his head sadly. "I hope not. He's my oldest friend, my ohana." No longer restrained, tears slipped down his face.

"He will not die!" Steve repeated. "I won't let him."

"The bullets angled through the chest, tearing up tissue and nicking his heart," Kulani reminded. "Only about twenty-five percent of these chest injuries are non-fatal, Steve. We can't expect him to live through the trauma."

"I expect it, Doctor!"

About to protest the delusion, Kulani simply shook his head and turned away. Resolved not to give in to the despair again, McGarrett requested to be shown to the recovery room. The corridors were lined with HPD personnel. Officer Hilton was at the door and gave the former chief a solemn nod. The doctor let him enter alone and Steve stood just inside the door, observing his friend. Hooked into monitors, IVs and oxygen, Williams was pale even against the sterile white hospital linens. Slowly stepping to the bedside, McGarrett 's resolve nearly faltered. Dan seemed so close to death. Gripping the cold hand, he repeated his command for his friend to hang on, to fight for life.

Kelly arrived in a wheelchair pushed by Agnes . Already in tears, Mrs. Williams dropped her face to her husband's hand and cried, holding McGarrett's hand at the same time until the physical detris of shock and anguish were spent. In numb silence they endured the mutual fear robbing them of motivation, conversation, thought, even tears. Glancing past the stricken wife, he caught sight of Kulani's grave, moist-eyed countenance. The doctor caught his attention and mutely shook his head, closing his eyes to let the tears fall. Giving Kelly a brief hug, Kulani left. Unable to move, dread rooting him in place, Steve forced torment out of mind, replaced by resolute anger. Others might give up hope, but he refused to surrender. To accept death was unthinkable, but sitting here dwelling on the possibilities were wearing him down. Squeezing Kelly's hand, and Danno's, he quietly promised to return and left with Agnes . Hilton and an HPD woman remained in the room, guards in the corridor -- more than adequate security after the tragedy.

"What are you going to do?" Agnes asked as they walked down the corridor.

"I'm going to find whoever did this."

"Steve." She stopped him, holding onto his arm. "You're not a policeman any --" The raw danger in his eyes warned her not to complete the obvious words, nor to warn him of the implicit hazards in his course of action. A lava flow would not keep him from forging ahead on a quest for revenge that was inevitable. Her only hope of bringing him to reason was the dirtiest trick she could pull out of a sleeve and she did it without flinching. "You're going to leave Dan and Kelly? What about the children, Steve? What if --"

"He's not going to die," he growled. "I'm not going to sit around here while everyone else prepares obituaries!" he nearly shouted. "And don't you dare give me any of your predictions or impressions or readings now, either. I love you, Agnes, but don't come between me and what I have to do for Danno!"

"For yourself," she corrected bluntly, without rancor. With placid truth. "You want revenge, Steve. I can't help you with that. I can only advise you. Not with the stars, with my heart. Dan and Kelly and the children need you here more than the madmen who did this need you hunting them!"

With deadly, level stillness he warned, "I will not be a party to this -- this deathwatch! I am going after the shooter because when Danno wakes up -- and he will -- he will live, I promise you! I want him to know justice has been done!"

McGarrett stalked away and Agnes leaned against the wall, mute sobs shaking her to the core. She didn't know who she cried for; Dan, Kelly, Steve, herself. She only knew the tragedy would grow more painful before the anguish and grief ended.

At the elevator McGarrett almost ran down Lynd, who was in a wheelchair pushed by Chase. The detectives asked after the Governor and McGarrett coldly related the official condition, not straying into opinions or speculations. Lynd was only slightly wounded by ricochet bullet fragments to the neck and arm and was expected to go back to work on the priority case immediately. Steve asked after their investigation and if they had captured the would-be assassin.

"No, not yet," Lynd curtly responded. "You'll be notified when we do, just like the rest of the public."

Steve glared fire at the impudent man but held back his retort. Antagonism would not sway this adversary; only appeals to reason would help.

"Did you check the building --"

"McGarrett!" Lynd snapped.

"What building? The Judicial?" Chase wondered.

"We're not at liberty to discuss that with you, Mr. McGarrett," Lynd broke in sharply, clearly pulling rank. "You're not part of the force anymore. This is our investigation."

Bristling at the cold rebuff, Steve's eyes narrowed, his jaw muscles tightened in anger. "Then where the hell were you when the Governor was shot? You were supposed to protect him! He shouldn't have even been on the stand!"

Lynd sneered. "You expected me to pull the Governor off the dais without any threat? You're more obsolete than I thought, McGarrett. Now stay out of my way!"

"I'm already part of this, mister! That's my friend lying up there --"

"If you care about the Governor so much maybe that's where you should be," Lynd countered, his voice chill. "The Governor might want you around, but I don't. You don't own these Islands anymore. And that goes for your friends, too. I've booked Jonathon Raven, you're lucky I haven't booked you!"

"What?"

"I could have saved the Governor, if your friend Raven hadn't interfered! If the Governor dies the blood is on your hands, McGarrett. Now stay out of my way!"

With a nod he cued Chase to wheel him away. McGarrett thought he was beyond further shocks, but Lynd had surprised him. Could it be possible Raven's interference had kept Lynd from saving Danno's life? In Steve's zealous fervor to protect his friend, had he ultimately been the instrument that put Williams in the line of fire? Obliquely, he wondered if things could get any worse. Not daring to speculate, he slowly started down the hall. Near the OR Mack Wolfe and Dawn Holliday exited from the post-op area. Holliday held an evidence envelope in her hand.

McGarrett felt a surge of anger and his sarcasm was biting. "He's not dead yet, doctor. You're a little over-anxious, aren't you?"

Both of them stung by the vicious accusation, Wolfe took a confrontational step forward, but Holli held him back.

"I'm sorry it seems that way to you, Mr. McGarrett," Holliday apologized. "We want nothing more than the Governor's full recovery. How is he?"

"Still critical. What are you doing?"

She held up the bag. "We're here collecting evidence."

Aware his remarks were inappropriate, he remained guarded. "The ME personally comes to the hospital to collect evidence?"

Wolfe and Holliday exchanged glances, as if daring the other to take the lead. "Just to be on the safe side," Wolfe offered.

"This is an important case," Holli added cautiously. "I wouldn't want anything to -- go wrong."

Reading between the lines; the glances, the tension, Steve knew there was something wrong already and these two were part of it. He didn't think they were hiding something from him, necessarily, but from someone.

"What are you going to do with the evidence?"

"I'm taking it personally -- "

"Under protection," Mack supplied.

"Personally, under guard, back to my lab, where I'll go over the evidence myself." She stepped closer and lowered her voice. "I want to make sure everything is done right. I promise."

"I'll hold you to that," he vowed, determined he would discover more of these intrigues later. That she was under Mack's guard already told him something. There were sinister forces at work here, and he intended to find out the details.

"I can tell you one thing already," Holli admitted. Gesturing to the evidence bag she claimed, "The hit man was a pro. The bullet had a full-metal jacket."

Wolfe nodded. "Must have expected a quick head shot."

Dawn poked him in the side with her elbow. Noting McGarrett's grim expression, they apologized. This would not be easy for any of them, but no one took it more personally than McGarrett.

"I'll have more later," Holliday told him.

"I'll be in touch."

Her open expression of acceptance belayed her reply. "I can't share evidence with you, Mr. McGarrett. I've already been reminded you're not part of this investigation."

So Lynd had already warned her. He'd have to work around that obstacle.

McGarrett exited out the back entrance to avoid reporters, vainly trying to work through the livid anger coursing through his system. Tearing out of the hospital, Steve nearly missed Duke and Magnum pulling into the back parking lot. A few reporters recognized him and Magnum maneuvered them to the sanctuary of his convertible Benz and into city traffic before any of the news hounds could pursue.

"Where we going?" the former PI asked.

"My guest house at the Williams estate where I can clean up. Then to the Black Orchid. We need some answers. But first I have to spring someone from jail." He asked to use Magnum's cell phone, his was missing.

"How's Danny?" Duke asked.

"Not good," McGarrett surrendered after a moment, the tone funereal.

Duke recognized the set-jaw attitude of stubborn resolve against the impossible. McGarrett often adopted that defense against the world and Lukela let it slide. Steve wanted to spend his time catching the assas-- the shooter instead of camping out at the hospital in defiance of the odds or predictions of doctors. In times past, when Danny had been injured Steve would haunt the hospital until Dan was conscious or out of danger. Williams did the same when Steve, frequently, was wounded. This time was worse; he'd seen the shooting and sincerely feared Dan would not live. Duke just hoped this cop-acting would not keep Steve separated from the Governor if Dan died. Not saying good-bye would add to McGarrett's ultimate grief.

Returning to the empty estate turned out to be more difficult than McGarrett expected. No, he hadn't expected anything, and felt unsettled the longer he stayed, fleeing as soon as he showered and changed. In the restaurant manager's office, the League of the Black Orchid council of war gathered. Jonathan Higgins, Rick Wright, Thomas Magnum, Ben Kokua and Duke, sat in comfortable chairs. They sipped cool drinks, the windows open to the ocean across the street. McGarrett paced. The League, as Steve had come to think of the group, had assembled many times before to solve puzzles and find answers. Never had their mission been so vital.

Still distracted with shock, McGarrett realized Higgins was speaking to the others, organizing the group, all of whom had worked together before. Looking at the short, stocky Britisher, Steve remembered his first encounters with the stuffy, pompous man. Efficient and proper, Higgins had been everywhere, seen everything and done it all before coming to the Islands as a representative of Robin Masters, the millionaire author. Higgins, as the President of the Board of Directors of the King Kamehameha Club and other holdings owned by Masters, had met McGarrett when Steve was still with Five-0. McGarrett never appreciated the man until his work with Aikane Security brought him in contact with a new group of acquaintances. Steve had found resources and talents such as Higgins, Magnum and Wright were valuable to have around when operating on the unofficial side of the law.

A TV in the corner displayed the film footage over and over again of the assassination attempt. Several angles from several news videos and still cameras captured the horrible moment. As the commentators dissected the event frame-by-frame, McGarrett was transfixed at the surreal tragedy unfolding in grainy slow-motion from various perspectives.

 

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Governor Williams, looking into the crowd (at McGarrett's flamboyant arrival), leaned over gradually as the tape frame-advanced the fateful events. The first bullet apparently missed Williams, hitting Mrs. Pratt seated at the back of the stand. The second shot hit the microphone on the podium, deflecting off the metal and through Williams' vest, seriously injuring the Governor. Succeeding shots killed Judge Baldwin and Professor Toshimoto. Another shot struck the podium, fragmenting into Lynd. Other shots deflected into the crowd, one hitting Kelly Williams. Hours after the shooting, three fatalities and numerous casualties were attributed to the shooter.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

The news special then degenerated to speculations by the anchors who reran the tape of the shootings and the explosion in the Judicial Building. They reported rumors about a suspect cornered or killed at the building, but there were no facts to back up the theory. Higgins muted the sound and suggested they make good use of their time.

Rick gave them all the data his informants had collected on Tomi Mano and Alekema Alika. The Kumu thug could have been behind the shooting, but none of the Kumu contacts were talking. HPD contacts were also playing it close, not revealing much from crime scene evidence. Lynd was a nasty man to cross and few wanted to risk their careers for sentimental assistance or even exchanged favors. Magnum suggested one more avenue of information.

"The ME. Dr. Holliday's report could tell us a lot."

Rick shook his head. "Never happen. She's in tight with Lt. Wolfe, and we know his close pal is Chase."

McGarrett related the mysterious encounter with Wolfe and Holliday, stating he would work on that angle himself.

"Maybe Five-0 already has the killer." Duke gestured to the TV where a graphic indicated breaking news live at the Judicial Building. "Let's see."

Higgins turned up the volume.

 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

"We're here at the scene of a possible bombing of the Judicial Building only moments after the attempted assassination of Governor Williams," the young, excited Polynesian woman declared as the camera panned up to the charred and damaged second floor. "Hawaii Five-0 and HPD have been investigating the scene for hours," she announced, the camera returning to her lovely face. "A coroner's vehicle pulled up moments ago and (a graphic insert at the bottom corner of the screen visually synched with her report), a gurney was taken inside. There is speculation that a body was found in the rubble of a second story room where other physical evidence was also recovered. I'll remind you that several eye-witnesses claimed this is where they saw rifle fire erupt during the shootings."

The camera jiggled slightly. The woman looked above the lens, obviously receiving instructions from someone. The graphic disappeared. The woman turned, the camera angling to the entrance of the building. Lynd and several Five-0 and HPD officers emerged, Chase flanking the Brit. Just behind them were Lt. Mack Wolfe and Dr. Holliday, both grim and unhappy.

Racing over, the camera stabilized on Lynd, prominently focusing on the torn, blood-stained jacket he had not replaced and the bandages covering his neck, his arm in a sling. Gesturing to Chase, the second-in-command handed him a rifle bagged as evidence.

"You can see here," he announced in his officious voice, "that Five-0 has recovered the murder weapon. Details will be released as they become available, but I can tell you the assassin attempted to set a booby-trap, probably to stall for time. The explosives detonated, killing our assassin. His name will be released when we have a positive identification." Looking right into the lens, he stated, "Evidence indicates the assassin seems to have acted alone. I am happy to have brought this investigation to a quick and easy close. I can only hope our governor is as fortunate in his recovery to full health. That is all, thank you."

Holliday and Wolfe actually rolled their eyes at Lynd's statements. Chase was more poker-faced, but his discontent was clear in his demeanor. Officers shielded Lynd from the hungry reporters. The camera stuck with Chase, Wolfe and Holliday, who all seemed as shell-shocked as McGarrett himself. The live feed ended and the anchor-people began their vacuous speculations.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Steve turned off the TV. Stunned by the nearly instant culmination of the investigation, he still managed to catch some incongruities.

"What's he hiding?" Duke was the first to voice their skepticism. "He's sweeping this under the rug wikiwiki, isn't he?"

"Something's sure fishy," Rick agreed. "He acts like he's running in the next election."

"For governor?" Magnum suggested.

They all turned to McGarrett. Assenting with their suspicions, he agreed it could not be this easy. Why would the head of Five-0 announce a close to the investigation without thoroughly examining the facts? His associates obviously disagreed with the findings. Too many questions remained. He intended to find the truth. All of it.

"We'll find out," Magnum promised.

McGarrett studied the dynamic, younger man, impressed at the quality of associates surrounding him. When he had first become aware of Thomas Magnum, the young ex-Navy officer-turned-bum had seemed like a freeloader. Mooching off the kindness of Robin Masters, the famous author, Magnum's PI business seemed nothing more than a poor attempt at legitimacy. Over the years and a few cases, McGarrett came to admire the tenacious, brave ex-Navy Intelligence officer. After Steve retired from Five-0, his association with the PI became almost equal, since Aikane Security sometimes overlapped the private investigator's clientele. The mutual respect climbed so high that when Steve and Dan were ready to retire from the security business, Magnum was the first on the list to take over.

"Carol is dead," Magnum reminded. Carol Baldwin, a former DA had been a personal friend of Magnum's and known to all the former enforcement officers in the room. "The Governor is dying. We won't drop this."

Ignoring the certainty of Dan's demise from his colleague, McGarrett darkly approved of independent actions. Five-0 and HPD had blocked them out, but they would not be forced away. Their friends were hurt or dead and no one would rob them of righteous justice. Revenge, some would label it, he knew, and for the first time in his life the definitions were unimportant. He knew in his heart the hatred for the assassin was real, justified. Someone would be brought to book for this suffering, and he wanted to be there when it happened.

"This never should have happened," Duke condemned, speaking to no one in particular. "Security looked tight enough, but after those threats to Dan -- " he shrugged, unable to constructively advise how the officers in charge could have altered their defenses in lieu of the hindsight now afforded them.

"Let me look into the investigation," Higgins volunteered. "I think Lynd might talk to me."

"Yeah, you're on his wavelength, Higgins. Regimental, British and by-the-book."

Stuffily, Higgins ignored Rick's affront. "On a few matters I've consulted with Lynd. We also have partnered in bridge occasionally. I will handle him."

Ben Kokua suggested he go over the video footage. "Digital enhancement might show us things our eyes missed," he offered. Injured in the line of duty and forced to retire from Five-0 years before, Ben started his own computer company. Steve utilized his talents on occasion, happy to keep in close contact with his former detective. "The TV stations won't look deep enough."

Magnum pointed out that even with all their unofficial and official confidants, it would take some big favors to pry useful information out of those who might know something. Rick could handle his low-life informants in whatever manner was effective. Legitimate sources would be tougher. Five-0 had a lid on the investigation and access was nearly impossible.

For the first time McGarrett's expression brightened. "I think I might have a way. Someone owes me a favor. It's time to cash it in."

He ended the meeting with a warning. They were to find the killer by staying on the right side of the law. Not willing to be a party to criminal activities, if they stretched and bent rules to find the man responsible for downing Williams, he did not want to know. He only wanted results.

 

*****

 

Waiting at the car with Duke were Raven and Jablonski. McGarrett advanced on the pair, pleased to see there had been no problems bailing Jonathon out of jail.

"What happened?" he asked before the younger man could speak.

"Those HPD goons pushed me away from the stand when my cell phone rang!" Raven snapped, visibly upset with the tragic string of events. "By the time I got back there it was already too late. I heard the first shot and tried to get to the Governor, but," he shrugged, "I just couldn't reach him."

"Could have if that idiot Lynd hadn't slammed you," Ski insisted hotly. "Saw the whole thing."

Unbidden the horrible scene had replayed itself over and over again in McGarrett's thoughts. Lynd's condemning accusations echoed in his mind. Had his interference initiated the split-second delay that could have saved Danno? He had to know.

"What do you think?" McGarrett questioned, subdued, distant. If this had been his fault he could never forgive himself. "So much happened in those critical seconds. Is it possible Lynd mistook you for a threat and was distracted from saving the Governor?"

Raven and Ski exchanged looks. Obviously both had their own opinions on the subject. Steve encouraged them to speak freely.

"I don't think so," Raven responded with hesitation. "He might have perceived me as a threat, and tackled me to protect the Governor. But I don't know if anything could have saved Governor Williams. Everything happened too fast."

It came as a partial absolution to Steve's personal guilt. Perhaps his actions had not endangered his friend. It was another question they might never be able to answer.

"What about you?" Steve asked Jablonski.

"When we heard the sniper fire I saw the Governor was down, but Jonathon looked okay. So I took off to find the shooter. So did lots of others," Ski added. "For all the good our little circus did. Dumb fool blew himself to bits!"

Steve assessed the report. "What direction did the shots come from?"

"The Judicial Building," Raven countered flatly. "You saw --"

"Is that what you saw and heard?" Steve pressed them.

Exchanging looks, Raven admitted they were not sure until they saw puffs of smoke from the top floor of the old courthouse.

"It took a real good shot," Jablonski assured. "This was a big time pro. I'd start looking at what's got to be a short list of people who want the Governor dead and can shoot like that."

"Hit men can be hired," Steve reminded.

"Then you follow the money," Ski countered.

McGarrett informed them of the breaking news that the shooter and weapon were found. He then related his doubts on the quality of the investigation, adding his intentions of an independent inquiry since Five-0 seemed to have dropped the ball.

Jonathon wondered if a parallel study was necessary; if McGarrett's motivations were revenge, guilt driven.

Teeth clenched in suppressed hostility, Steve assured them his motivations were just, but irrelevant. Ending the threat to Williams' life was his sole objective. Until he was sure the shooter and collaborators were brought to justice, he would not cease his investigation. Then he asked, "Do you know Thomas Magnum?"

Raven gave a nod. "In passing."

"He's inside. Tell him I want you to work on the shooter angle."

"Ah, Mr. McGarrett," Ski interrupted, "we're not very good at research, we're more the search-and-destroy division."

"There will be a chance for that," he promised severely. "As soon as we find the right target." When he reached Duke's car, Raven stopped him.

"Steve."

McGarrett waited.

"Thanks for bailing me out."

"You shoulda been there," Ski said. "When those uniforms saw you posted bail they couldn't unlock the door fast enough. Pays to have friends in high places."

Steve grimly replied, "Don't worry, gentlemen, you'll get a chance to earn it back."

 

*****

 

Duke drove him out to Koko Head. On the way he called Agnes at the hospital. There was no change in Dan's condition. Mrs. Williams was still with the Governor and the children were with Tutu Kulani at the family estate in Kahala. When Agnes pleaded with him to return, his chest went cold, demanding she level with him. Admitting there was no change in Dan's condition, but fearing the worst, she wished him back to be with his ohana should the worst come to pass. Adamantly denying Williams would die, McGarrett hung up on DuBois.

'Hale o Loka', the Rose home was a lavish estate with a priceless view of the coastline. Built by Richard's father, Kimba's late husband, Joseph Rose, it was the evidence of a shrewd businessman's multi-billionaire reward. Left as a legacy to Kimba, she ran the business of the Rose corporation. Richard continued the Rose legacy of redeeming 'markers'; rose imprinted crystal discs numbered and allotted to people Joseph Rose respected or to whom he owed something. The marker could be redeemed at anytime, by the bearer, for a favor.

At the poolside, he and Duke were warmly greeted by the hosts.

"Steve, Duke, I'm so glad you're both all right," Kimba welcomed, taking McGarrett by the arm and leading him to a seat at the table. She asked after Dan and how Kelly was holding up. McGarrett responded vaguely with guarded, terse reserve. "I'll go by later if you think she needs the company," Kimba kindly offered.

Steve thought back to the anguished scene at the hospital and suggested Kimba wait until Williams' condition stabilized.

Members of several joint charities, they knew each other well enough to retain a first-name relationship. Respect for who DeMorra and Mrs. Rose were and what they did had admitted them to Williams' inner circle. They had attended the family luau the night before -- an eternity before -- the destruction of his world.

"You're hurt," she commiserated over his scraped face and bandaged scalp. "Is there anything we can get you? Were you shot?"

"No, I'm fine. I was -- too late."

"Pipeline gave us a wild version of his role in this morning's events. Hard to believe half of it. What are the doctors saying about the Governor?" Richard asked, pouring iced tea for the guests and making sure introductions were completed between Duke and the other person already at the table, Taki Mochadomi their attorney.

Steve glossed over Dan's condition, unwilling to touch that territory yet. He bluntly came to the point by snapping down crystal marker number seventeen on the table.

"I've come to ask a favor."

Carrying on the father's legacy, Richard had more than just his father's looks. Estranged for years from the rich parent, raised by his mother, Richard knew very little about Joseph Rose. In the Islands Joseph was a philanthropic giant, a revered leader. The markers were just one of the examples of his quiet goodness. Arriving in Honolulu the day of Joseph's funeral, Richard had been overwhelmed by the domineering shadow of his father. The blood connection was too strong for Richard to deny his duty, the redemption of the markers. It was touching to see Richard not only grow and mature under Kimba's nurturing influence, but to see Richard take on the Rose mantle as part of himself.

With a solemn nod, Richard accepted the token. "Ask."

"We need to know what evidence the police have. I need crime scene reports, autopsy findings, anything."

Richard smiled. "As you know, Kimba and I have a bit of a talent for subtle information gathering."

"Spies," Duke corrected blandly. "You're PI's without the licenses and can't keep your curiosity to yourselves about most of the little intrigues around the islands."

Kimba laughed. "Duke, you're very well informed for a retired cop."

"Connections," Lukela smugly admitted.

Moch nodded with a smile. "A daughter in legal circles and a son-in-law on the force."

Inside the open-air living room next to the pool a radio played soft Hawaiian music. A DJ spoke over the fading music to announce updates on the investigation. Everyone listened as the woman reported the body suspected to be the assassin was positively ID'd as Pauli Tanaka, leader of the Hawaiian Nationalists.

Stunned, the group listened speechlessly as Lynd's voice proclaimed the .30-06 rifle found with the body was the weapon, registered to Tanaka, used to murder the three victims hit in the assassination attempt. With such complete evidence gathered, Lynd officially declared the case closed.

"That's absurd!" Moch exclaimed, outraged. "Pauli's impulsive and a loud-mouth, but he's not an assassin!"

"No, never," Richard agreed. "A lotta people aren't gonna buy this, Steve. Five-0 credibility is gonna hit the rocks on this."

Lukela offered that he hadn't known Tanaka personally, but knew of the activist and other mainstream members of Hawaiian Nationalists.

Richard revealed that Pipeline, the man with his Jeep who picked up Steve at the accident scene and droveh im to the Palace, was a friend of Tanaka's and had relatives invovled with Hawaiian Nationalists. Their reputations were of peaceful protesters who knew violence and extremism hurt their cause more than helped it. They disliked the government, but would never try to murder Williams.

McGarrett gave a slow nod of approval. "Then you can help," he asked the others.

"Yes," DeMorra agreed. "Moch has already discovered something of interest."

With a shrug, the attorney revealed, "Completely unofficially, I was discussing the terrible events of this morning with a friend at HPD. They mentioned Lt. Wolfe was particularly interested in the findings from his girlfriend, the ME, Dr. Holliday. Whatever she had made him very nervous according to my source, and he asked her to hold it until he personally retrieved the evidence."

Steve leaned forward, intent. "Is that a quote? Those exact words."

Disconcerted at the intensity, Moch looked around at the group. "No -- no, not exactly. But the intent --"

"The intent is enough," Steve snapped. To Richard and Kimba he ordered, "I want to meet with Dawn Holliday personally and look over whatever evidence I can. But I can't show up at One West Waikiki myself. Her office at the morgue is too public. It will attract too much attention."

DeMorra flipped the marker in his palm a few times. "Whatever it takes, Steve, we'll get that report."

The next time Richard flipped the crystal, Steve caught it in his fist. "One more thing."

"Sure."

"Thanks to Pipeline's timely assstance to me, your Jeep was involved in a little tangle with the Palace gates this morning. If it hadn't been for his reckless driving I --" He didn't want to think too deeply about what would have happened if he had not arrived at the Palace when he did. As it was, he was tragically late. "Send me the bill." He handed the marker to Richard. "And, as part of my favor, give one of these to Pipeline."

"Sure," Richard smiled. "He'll be happy to know you backed his wild story."

"And that he has such an important ally," Kimba added. "What really happened?"

McGarrett sighed. "It's a pretty fantastic story. Whatever he tells you is probably close to the truth."

 

*****

 

Afternoon waning, the drive back to Honolulu was intense. McGarrett called Agnes again, no response. Concerned, he called Suzy Kelly. She reported she was back at Five-0 headquarters, leaving Sandi Welles to shepherd Mrs. Williams and Ms. DuBois. Not having Welles number, he asked Suzy to forward a request to call him. Surprised at the rapid pace of time, he realized the sun was close to the distant western horizon. Twilight. An end to the worst and longest day of his life.

The call was returned by Agnes, who had left the cellphone off because of the tense situation at the hospital. Kelly Williams wanted to talk with him and she handed over the phone. In a hoarse, strained voice she reported Dan's condition was weakening. Kulani, Ben Kokua and Kono Kalakaua were with them and she urged him to return as soon as possible. Breaking into sobs she said she needed his strength and so did Dan. Gruffly he promised he would be there soon.

Giving Steve a few minutes after he hung up, Duke finally asked, "So we're going back to the hospital?"

McGarrett tightly uttered in a raw voice, "Not yet."

"Steve -- "

"Not yet!"

 

*****

 

Only late diners were left at the Black Orchid, the band playing a final round of slow songs. Upstairs in the manager's office, the secret underground exchanged information and built theories like a house of cards. In their unofficial capacity, the group of friends collated tidbits far short of evidence and barely above coincidence. Marshaling the troops like he ran Five-0, McGarrett received each item of hearsay, gossip, liberated files, with his years of cop experience and intelligence networking. He had built cases from shakier foundations, but this time there was no room for error. Solving this case was as personal as it could get. For his own guilt and inadequacy, he needed to present this case to Danno like a ribbon-tied gift.

Rick updated on the car that ran Steve off the road. HPD found the car that afternoon, the driver, a member of Hawaiian nationalists, dead from a .30-06 rifle, steel-tipped loads. No reports on ballistics, but Magnum said his sources felt blame would once again fall on the already dead Tanaka. The time factor made it barely possible, but everyone at the gathering was skeptical.

Duke said something that had been bothering him about the hit. Why try to kill Steve on the highway and not wait to shoot him at the Palace with Williams? It would seem to be a much simpler tactic. No one could answer the query and he sarcastically said he couldn't wait to hear how Lynd explained that. Steve's own theory was that the hit man who tried to take him out on the freeway was the more inept of the two, but the message was clear. Williams and he had to both die, or, rather, Williams had to die and McGarrett had to be killed to assure the success of the assassination. That would also explain why Danno was not hit until after McGarrett was hit.

"The angle, too," Magnum pointed out. "Governor Williams needed to be at the podium for the assasin to get a clear shot."

DeMorra reported he had talked to Holliday, who might be able to meet with McGarrett later, but not at the ME's office. He pushed three autopsy forms across the table. "You'll notice the little item at the top. Angle of entry of the wounds. What Thomas was saying about a clear shot." He pointed to the three sheets scrawled with hand-written comments. "No specifics, but she is having problems with the angle of the wounds."

According to the analysis, Judge Baldwin's bullet wound sloped slightly down and to the right, just as Mrs. Pratt's and Toshimoto's. All three were seated behind Williams. Toshimoto and Baldwin were hit by the same bullet -- Toshimoto was behind Judge Baldwin. Coroner's conclusions, interestingly, interpreted that the victims were hit from an angle. The shooter used a high powered weapon, full metal jacket loads, intended to kill. The assassin probably tried for a head shot, but missed.

"Tomi Mano was the top Kumu hit man, remember?" Steve reminded, drawing no conclusions, but keeping the knowledge in mind.

"The bullet pierced the Governor's body armor like it wasn't there," Richard commented sadly. "The rounds easily killed the others and fragmented off of wood or metal to cause the other injuries."

Magnum was studying another set of papers. "The paraffin test on Tanaka was negative. Holliday doesn't think he fired the rifle. HPD has an amended note here saying the rifle found next to him, a new Remington, was damaged too badly to run any kind of ballistics tests."

"We're crawling ahead by inches!" Steve snapped, irritated. "Let's hurry it up, gentlemen, we don't have a lot of time on this." Steve slumped into a chair. A hand rested on his arm.

"Steve," Duke quietly advised, "You're beat. You need to rest --"

"No! Time is --"

"I know we're racing against the clock. So is Danny. Why don't you go back to the hospit --"

"I will!" Steve shouted tightly. "We've got to get this investigation straightened out first! Then I'll see Danno." To Magnum he ordered, "Thomas, find out where Mano is, what he's doing, and if he's purchased any ammo or rifles that could fit this MO."

Steve's cell phone beeped and he went into another room to take it, afraid of what might be relayed. It was Agnes .

"Steve, you've got to come back now! Dan is holding on, but Kana and David Kelly are here and -- and it's not looking good, Steve. Kelly needs you here." Quietly, gently, she pleaded, "It's where you need to be."

He could hear the strain in the voice, recognized her struggle to maintain a calm exterior while suffering inside. One of the things he loved about her was her strength, when they'd met she had shown tremendous fortitude as she helped on the murder investigation despite threats to her life. In other crises their relationship weathered, she seemed the epitome of strength. This devastation would take more courage than any of them ever expected to summon.

"Soon, love, soon, I promise," he vowed and hung up.

He returned to the group to find Raven and Ski had joined them. Under the 'don't ask, don't tell' label, Ski revealed the sniper rifle already identified and traced. It was a new Remington .30-06 with a foldable stock for easy travel. According to the Manofacturer, in the most recent shipment from the factory, two weapons were stolen enroute to San Diego. Tracing serial numbers, one was the rifle recovered with the body of Pauli Tanaka. An informant said he saw one of these rifles in the back room of Sammy's Fishing Hole, a bar out by Waimanalo."

"A Kumu front," Duke defined.

"Can you get any more details on that?" Steve asked Ski.

"Doubt it, but I can sure try."

"That means two unique rifles of very similar Manofacture were stolen at the same time. One winds up here with Pauli. Where is the other one? With Kumu and Tomi Mano?"

"Speaking of Sammys," Rick added, "I heard Syd Samuels was going to sue the Governor for breech of contract or something ridiculous."

"He's probably got lots of sleazy Kumu connections. He's a lawyer, remember?" Ski speculated.

"What about Syd?" Magnum asked. "Kumu is obvious, but we can't discount anyone as a suspect."

"I checked him out," Duke responded, looking through his notes. "He's plenty mad at the Governor, but no obvious links to Kumu or Hawaiian Nationalists. Kept his nose clean and no one has anything to say about unethical or illegal activities. His business depends on a good reputation, and aside from being a pushy, irritating leech, he's clean." To McGarrett he asked, "How's the Governor?"

Steve gave a medical placebo of 'condition unchanged', and focused on the case. "Magnum is right, we can't assume anyone is above suspicion. I checked out Syd myself when Danno wanted him as a campaign manager. Four years ago he was clean. Go through his life with a fine tooth comb, Rick." To Magnum he ordered, "You'll have to handle Chase and Wolfe. Discretely. They're' cagier than average police officers." He wondered again about the mysterious encounter with Wolfe and Holliday at the hospital. Were they there protecting evidence or confiscating and altering evidence? To Lukela he assigned, "Check out the other Five-0 officers, Duke."

"They're our friends!" Lukela protested. "Suzy grew up --"

"Check them out," he repeated with a steel edge. "Danno's our friend and he's lying in a hospital bed fighting for his life! Don't any of you forget that!"

The decree echoed around them in the still room and it gave him a few seconds to regroup. Fatigue and sorrow left his nerves and patience in shreds while his heart still lingered in that claustrophobic room at Queens. Launching to his feet he leaned on the wall, gazing out the open window at the night lights of the harbor. Simmering with indecision, he stared at the dark beyond. He could not bear to be an accomplice to the mourning procession at the hospital, yet he longed to be there, sure his presence would help Danno. The cellphone beeped and he responded after the third ring.

"This is Richard," the voice announced. "Your marker will be redeemed. How soon can you come to Dawn Holliday's house?

"Right now."

"Okay, I'll meet you there."

Steve actually flinched when he steered off Kalani Highway to the Williams' driveway. The house was as dark as the dread in his soul. He hoped there would be light and life again in the familiar estate. Cruising to the next gravel lane, he pulled into the deep, extensive front yard of Dr. Holliday's beach-side house. The front lanai of the bright, white villa was alight and Richard stood by the door. He ushered McGarrett into a large and tasteful living room where Holliday waited.

She came to her feet and shook his hand, offering condolences and asking after Williams. Another quick brush off that the doctor obviously did not buy was offered then he quickly moved along to the purpose of the visit.

"Richard approached me with your doubts about the assassination attempt," she started, then noted McGarrett's aggravation at the term. "Or murders, I should say." Sympathetically, she added, "I really am very sorry about Governor Williams. He's a good man and a wonderful neighbor. My motives are only to find the turth, I promise you."

McGarrett's intent focus leveled onto the ME. "You want to explain your little visit to the hospital searching for evidence?"

"I will," she vowed. While she searched for a sketch pad she explained, "Mack -- Lieutenant Wolfe -- is unhappy about Lynd's quick close of the investigation." She returned with pad and pen.

"Tanaka is good with a rifle, yeah, everyone knows that," Richard added. "But people who know him, like my friend Pipeline, they say Tanaka had nothing to do with bombs. This is a frame, man. Someone wants him to take the fall for this."

"A lot of people agree with you," Holliday agreed.

"And the hospital?" McGarrett reminded.

She met Steve's blunt challenge with a direct stare. "Mack and I were -- concerned -- about Lynd moving so fast. We had been at the Judicial building when he made the statement he was closing the case. I was afraid he'd either use the evidence to fit his own theories, or discount something for political expediency. Either way, as Coroner, it was my job to protect the evidence from the shootings. So we went over to the hospital immediately."

"And you felt you needed protection?"

She smiled. "Mack thought I needed the protection."

"From the people behind the shootings?"

Holli shrugged. "Mack thought there was a possibility of danger. I approved -- it helped back up my authority."

"Then you didn't buy Pauli Tanaka as the killer."

She didn't respond. Clearly she was hiding something, protecting someone. McGarrett wanted to find out more, but she changed the subject.

"Richard, and others I've talked to, are dissatisfied with how easy it is to place the blame on Pauli Tanaka, who can't defend himself." Her pretty face brightened and she gave him a look boding ill for someone. "But I can."

Holli powered up the TV and VCR, explaining that she requested and received footage of the shooting from the local station. Ben Kokua's program, she explained, gave a digital time code for each frame of film and broke down the action to fractional seconds. Steve gritted his teeth as the all too familiar replay unfolded frame by frame.

"What I needed was the specific position of everyone who was shot." She indicated the victims seated behind the podium.

McGarrett's eyes strayed to the image of Williams, frozen in the fateful second before a finger squeezed a trigger and changed their lives.

The frame advanced and it showed the elderly woman, Mrs. Pratt, tilting back in her chair.

"That's what I needed to know. Mrs. Pratt and the others were seated straight, facing forward, directly behind the Governor.

She knelt by the table and drew some lines on the paper. Steve was once again struck with how incongruous her occupation seemed for the petite, vivacious blond. Rather than being a liability, her looks probably were an asset. So many would be knocked off balance when introduced to this Medical Examiner that it probably worked to her advantage. Whatever opposition wasn't bowled over by her incredible skill, would be leveled by her high intelligence. The 30ish woman had looks, brain and charm. He hoped Mack Wolfe knew what a treasure he was courting. From recent indications of Wolfe's new stability, it seemed the lieutenant knew a good woman when he met one and improved himself accordingly.

Sketching out rough line drawings of the Palace, the Judicial Building and Territorial Building, she finished with little squares indicating people on the raised stand.

Holliday theorized Williams was intended to die with the first shot, but happened to move toward McGarrett at the instant the bullet was fired. So the first bullet hit the woman behind the Governor. "Moving away from the podium saved Governor Williams' life," Holli concluded. Uncannily assuaging some of his guilt, she rephrased. "Your unconventional arrival saved his life, Mr. McGarrett."

Mutely Steve nodded, wanting to believe she was right.

"Your shooter supposedly fired from the second floor." Drawing a line to the center of the dais, she continued. "Dramatic. And dead on, if you'll excuse the expression. Most of the shots were ricochets, or fragments so they are almost useless in the reconstruction. Mrs. Pratt, the first woman hit, Professor Toshimoto, the man at an angle behind her -- remember that -- and Judge Baldwin, in the last row. All were hit at an angle from the left of their chests." She scribbled zigzags through the straight line. "Toshimoto and Baldwin were not directly behind each other." She pointed to the video screen, reversing the image a few frames. Judge Baldwin was behind and slightly to the right of Toshimoto. "If the shots came from the Judicial Building, they would have been in a straight line of fire -- the podium, to Mrs. Pratt, to Toshimoto. Judge Baldwin would have never been hit!" Again, the technique pointed to a professional who was a sharpshooter. "The hitman was not in the Judicial Building!"

"To the left?" McGarrett repeated. He took the pen and, starting at the podium, traced a line going back to where the shots must have been fired. "At this angle?" he asked after only drawing a line a few inches long. Dawn nodded and he continued, ending at the building next to the Judicial Building. His former temporary headquarters, the Territorial Building. The current home of Hawaii Five-0. He looked at the others, speechless at the implications.

Steve felt the blood drain from his body, pushed out by a chill coursing through his system. Glancing at the others around the table, he knew they were aware of the conclusions and the implications. He was the only one who could voice the suspicions.

"The building directly to the left of the Judicial Building," he whispered in shock, "is Five-0 headquarters."

"Five-0," Richard whispered. He glanced at the others. "No wonder Lynd wants this case closed so fast. He must be in on it."

"Or he's covering up for one of his officers," McGarrett darkly speculated.

"Not Aki," Holliday insisted. "He's one of the original good guys, McGarrett. I didn't give you this information to put you on his trail. And don't think Mack is involved in some conspiracy either. He's one of the truest cops you'll ever meet."

"Then why did you share this with us, doctor? Why not go to Lynd?"

"Because Aki, Mack and I know there's a cover up going on here. I can't bring you his report, Lynd had it sealed, which is suspicious enough. Anyway, Pauli Tanaka was dead before the explosion. All the burns and damage occurred post-mortem."

"Meaning what?" Richard asked.

"Someone killed him and left the body and rifle there, then set the explosion to destroy it all. An experienced hit man," Steve speculated. "Like Tomi Mano. Rifles and bombs are part of his MO."

"Well, whoever did the bomb wasn't perfect, or they didn't want to destroy everything," Holliday said.

"What about ballistics?"

Holli shook her head. "No bullets were recovered intact, Richard. They were .30-06, but that's all I can tell you."

They shook hands and thanked the doctor for her help, promising to get to the truth. Richard pulled a crystal Rose marker out of his pocket, number seventeen, and offered it to her. Glancing at Steve, who nodded his approval, he explained.

"You're the pivitol solution in the investigation, Doc. Any time you need a favor, you know where to come."

"Thanks. I'll probably take you up on that one of these days."

 

*****

 

Back at the Black Orchid, a few of McGarrett's unofficial force remained. They were given the new data, all skeptical of the suspicions.

Still doubtful, Richard protested, "Not Lynd, he was hit."

"Ricochet," Magnum reminded. "An accident."

"Or a miss," Duke weighed in, skeptical of police involvement. "What are you thinking, Steve? Anybody could be in that building. All the officers were at the ceremony with us! Any shooter could walk in! You can't think anybody at Five-0 could be involved!"

"A pro would want to check the lay of the land first," Magnum insisted, ignoring Duke's voice of reason. "He'd at least do a check of the angles and distances for a hit like this."

"Mano's been there," McGarrett insisted, warming to his theory. "Mano, with inside help, could set up the hit in a few minutes, then, with more help, leave undetected. He would know the schedule, the timing, that Danno usually wears a vest for public appearances these days because of the threats. And Tomi would have the access to the weaponry; and he has the motive."

Rick agreed. "A pro would take a lot of money to hit a governor. Who would pay that? Kumu, Alika and Mano, they have a motive already."

Ominously motionless up to this point, McGarrett's foreboding voice cracked. "Only Five-0 and HPD security knew my timetable and route," he uttered darkly. "Only Five-0 knew Danno would wear the vest. The killer must have known to use steel tips -- "

"Any assassin could load full metal jackets --" Duke began.

"Maybe," Steve reluctantly admitted. "But it's an assassin's bullet if he wants to kill with every pull of the trigger! Otherwise he would use hollow-tips for maximum damage and probable kills!" he shouted, his voice sahking with anger and pain. "No, gentlemen, this was a hit to kill!""

"And the other victims?" Duke asked.

"Panic and confusion," Magnum labeled. "He was confident enough to stick around and fire multiple rounds."

"Must have been pretty sure of his escape route," Rick concluded.

"Or his decoy," McGarrett slowly opted, the ideas just formulating in his mind. "Like Pauli Tanaka already dead, with a .30-06 rifle in the room. Then he just folds up his own rifle, tucks it -- anywhere -- maybe right there at the Territorial Building -- or takes it away in a duffle bag! No one will be looking for anything suspicious if the shooter is already caught!"

DeMorra reminded the decoy rifle was conveniently damaged in the blast, eliminating the testing of ballistics for the assassination shots or for the driver who attacked McGarrett.

Steve's deep, solemn tone bespoke certainty. "It's someone in Five-0."

"What --?"

"They knew every move Danno would make and his decision not to run for reelection gave his determination to finish his agenda even more power," McGarrett explained, gaining conviction with each word. "He was more of a threat than ever to Kumu. Five-0 and HPD at the ceremony did not answer my cell phone warnings after my accident. And what about the truck that hit the limo last night?" Steve singled out Higgins with a rapier glare. "Find out Lynd's contacts, movements and bank accounts to the last detail, Jonathan."

"He's the head of Five-0!" Higgins reminded incredulously. "Because few people like him doesn't mean he's the --"

"No one is exempt," McGarrett assured. "He's not the shooter, obviously. Maybe a more likely suspect is Chase. He has relatives involved with Hawaiian Nationalists, is sympathetic to the cause, maybe tie-ins with Kumu." Noting the surprised, even distasteful expressions around the room, he ignored their squeamishness. No one was above suspicion on this case and he would do whatever necessary to put his hands on the man responsible for shooting Dan. "Someone on the inside -- Five-0 or HPD -- has the means, the opportunity. Chase and Wolfe, for instance, were safely away from the ceremony until after I survived my accident! Wolfe could be his accomplice, or concealing evidence."

"Then is Doctor Holliday involved, too? She gave you the most important evidence uncovered so far!" Magnum shook his head. "No motive," he reminded. "No connection to Mano."

"None that we know of," Steve corrected.

Higgins asserted that Chase might be the more likely suspect. Lynd was a conciencious officer, obviously efficient, not particularly liked, but respected. He occasionally visited a girlfriend in San Francisco, lived modestly in a condo, owned nice but not overly expensive clothes, and led a low-key lifestyle.

"Who pulled the trigger?" Rick wondered. "Has to be a good shot. My bet's on Tomi the shark. And if the shots were fired from Five-0, why didn't witnesses see a rifle or gun smoke or sunlight reflecting off the rifle or scope? Why did they see it from the Judicial Building?"

Magnum offered several theories that could fit the facts. A matte-finish lens on a scope would eliminate reflection. Who reported smoke coming from the Judicial Building? Lynd? Everyone noticed suspicious events AFTER the shootings, but what about before?

Lukela, ever the voice of reason, calmly reminded, "Steve, these facts could fit a lot of theories and a lot of suspects. Let us narrow it down, see what else we can come up with."

 

*****

 

Steve's vengeance-quest was not enough to drive away the torment and terror clinging to his subconscious. The thought of Five-0 officers involved in the murders and assassination attempt was sickening to him. Five-0 had been his life. How could it now be an instrument of his friend's attempted murder?

Desperately in need of rest and solace, he admitted his drive for retribution was a path of denial. His friend's condition worsened with each hour and Steve could not stop time or magically rescind the inevitable conclusion of the descending spiral. In some superstitious corner of his mind he was afraid his return to the hospital would initiate some psychic trigger. Subconsciously signaling Dan it was all right to let go when the ohana gathered for the final aloha. Fearful of being a symbolic party to Williams' surrender, he forced himself to do anything, be anywhere, but at the hospital. As night advanced to its zenith, his heart ached with the certainty he had to return to his friend's side. Whatever fate met him there, his place was with Danno.

"I'll be at the hospital," he explained in a whisper and exited, the trace of his bitter anguish a tangible spirit left behind.

 

*****

 

After midnight, McGarrett walked the corridor of ICU with a pace slowed by trepidation. Usual activities of nurses and doctors filled the area with sound. Personnel, HPD guards and technicians occupied the halls with motion and a link to the world beyond the pained and dying. Amidst it all he felt isolated, alone and cocooned within a private shell of emotion. The last terrible hours filled with rage, hurt and revenge left him drained. It was his defense mechanism of coping with the untenable. Denial and deflection -- catching bad guys and non-stop activity, kept the full-force of grief at bay. All the while his heart tugged thoughts back at his friend's side; where it seemed he had always been, where he belonged.

Two HPD officers and Suzy Kelly sat in chairs by the Governor's room. She stood as he approached and gave him a familial hug. Briefly returning the warm greeting, he wondered at the show of affection, immediately thinking the worst.

"Danno?" he whispered.

"He's -- he's still alive. We were hoping you would get back in time."

Cold shivers racing along his spine, he asked, "In time for what?"

"Kana and David have been by several times tonight." She hastily wiped away a tear seeping from a corner of her eye. "They --" her words faltered under his severe glare. "They aren't optimistic."

Alarm tightening his throat he pushed into the room. From the corner of his eye he noted Kelly Williams asleep in a chair by the end of the bed. Agnes dozed, leaning against the arm of a chair and the corner of the room. The person dominating his mind lay pale, still, and seemingly integrated with machinery. Steve caught a breath at the chalky face washed in the subdued light of sterile bedding and florescent bulbs. Squeezing his hand in silent support, Suzy left him to deal with his emotions alone. Quietly bringing a chair over, Steve sat next to his friend, tentatively holding Dan's cold hand in his, despairing at the pall of death hovering so near.

Fighting back tears, he started demanding, commanding Dan to fight with all his might against the darkness. Whispering of memories, family and friends, he mounted the reasons for Williams to beat the odds and return to full strength and health. He recounted the events of the day, why he had not been at the ceremony, his failure to foresee the attack, his anger at the frailties of humanity. Passions giving way to routine, he debriefed his former detective as if they were once more officers of Five-0. Narrating the progress of the investigation, it gave him the opportunity to talk out the flaws, the strengths of the theories. Using Dan as a sounding board, he described the suspects, their conformities to the guidelines of investigation, and his personal take on each man. Occasionally he would pause, almost expecting Dan to interrupt with a salient observation or silly joke.

Gazing at his friend, the meaningless monologue trailed away in a hoarse whisper. Then halting words of love spilled out with tears welling in his eyes. Entreaty of desperation and loneliness begged the younger man to not give up, but to return for the completely selfish reason that Steve needed him back. They beat the odds before, they could do it again. Squeezing the limp hand in both of his, he prayed for a miracle, prayed for deliverance.

So focused on his supplication, he jumped when a hand touched his shoulder and glanced up at Kelly Williams. She tried to offer a brave smile, but it wavered into a grimace of pain before she sank her face into his shirt. He continued to hold onto Dan, while comforting the distraught wife.

"Sorry," was her muffled apology against his neck.

Holding her until the sobbing stopped, she drew away but he caught her tight.

"It's been a terrible day, Kelly. You're entitled to this." Surprised at the stable tone of his voice, he added, "I'm here for you both. Everything's going to be okay." He glanced at Agnes, who stood by the door. Her sorrowful expression denied his optimism and he ignored her lack of faith. "Danno's going to be fine."

The door cracked open and Kana Kulani peaked in. "We're here," he quietly announced.

Stephen and Angel Williams filed in, both staring at their father with woeful distress, then rushing to their mother's arms, pulling Steve into the embrace as well. Kono Kalakaua slipped over to the back wall and gave Steve a sad nod. Other members of the Kulani clan entered along with David and Suzy Kelly and a few of their siblings. Draped in leis and carrying ancient gourds, Kahuna Kulani, Kana's adopted father, came in with Tutu, his wife, the grandmother of the large and extended ohana.

"A gathering for aloha," Kana explained quietly as he and Steve moved to the wall to accommodate everyone into the small room.

McGarrett glanced with horror at the ritual articles. This ceremony equated to Hawaiian last rights.

"You can't allow this!" he spat out defiantly. "Danno is not dying!"

Kana's face seemed to collapse in pity and Steve looked away, refusing to acknowledge the mourning already living in the blue eyes. "He won't last out the night, Steve. We've come to say aloha."

McGarrett tightly closed his eyes to fight back the tears. He wouldn't believe it, so why was he reacting like Danno was already dead? This life so precious to him was not going to abandon him. He would not -- could not -- allow it!

"You're wrong. He's not dying," he grated.

Kulani placed gentle hands on his shoulders and Steve jerked away.

"Say good-bye, Steve. Let him go. 'Aloha a hui hou aku', till we meet again."

He defiantly held Dan's hand in both of his, willing all the energy and fight he could imagine to channel through the tangible connection. "You are going to fight this, Danno!" he demanded. "Don't give up on me! Fight for your life!"

Someone touched his shoulder and he wrenched away, enraged and disgusted. Shoving through to the door he looked back at the brother helplessly surrounded by the loved ones who had given up on him. He refused to be included in their midst. His cell phone began to ring and he ignored it, glaring at the others.

"I am going out there to find whoever shot you, Danno, and you're going to be awake to hear about it when I get back!" he vowed.

Blinking back the anger in his eyes, he stalked down the corridor.

"Steve! Wait!" Agnes ran up to him and held onto his arm, as much for her support as for his own. Turning away from her tear-drenched face he could not swallow the knot of fear in his throat. "Steve, please, don't leave. If you don't say good-bye now you'll never forgive yourself."

He wrenched from her grasp. "No," he barely growled. Shaking his head he refused to give in. "He can't . . . ."

Agnes hugged him, burrowing her face in his chest, he felt her nod. "He will," she sobbed. "He's dying, Steve. I can feel it. Don't leave him."

Tearing her away with trembling hands, more determined than ever, woodenly he stalked away. He promised he would not fail his friend. Fear of Williams' death still clung to him like a shadow, but he knew they could beat it if only Dan would not give up -- if he did not give up. Later, when the others were gone he would come back. During the longest hours of pre-dawn he would be back here to cajole, entreat, beg and demand his friend to hold onto life. Steve would get them both through to the dawn and to life. Both their futures depended on Dan coming through this alive.

 

*****

 

Racing through the nearly deserted streets of Honolulu, McGarrett didn't answer the phone until it started it's third set of rings. Feeling under control enough to speak to the persistent person on the other end, he finally responded.

"McGarrett."

"Magnum here, Steve. I've found Tomi Mano."

Steve gulped in a breath. "Where?"

"Sammy's Fishing Hole, that dive out by -- "

"Yeah, I know. I'm on my way."

"Steve --"

He clicked off, not in the mood for protests or orders. Surprised to already be on Kalanianaole Highway, he realized his subconscious had brought him out here to the Williams' home again. As he sped past he glanced at the darkened estate, a renewed ache stabbing his heart. There would be life and light back there again, soon, he promised himself -- he promised Danno.

Sammy's Fishing Hole was a run down shack seemingly held together by the neon signs advertising beer. Steve pulled up to park across the street, next to the Mercedes Benz partially hidden by an old lava block sea wall. Quietly he joined Magnum in the Benz.

"I can handle this Steve," the mustached PI assured.

"Then why did you wait for me?"

Magnum's green eyes glanced away, toward the bar, but his gaze was far from the present. "I've been there, where you are, before. You think retribution will help the pain go away. So you do anything, risk everything, to payback for the hurt." He sighed, giving a nod, then looking back at the ex-cop. "I wish I could say it helps."

"It may not help," McGarrett admitted, "but it does make a difference." He glanced at the bar. "Let me take this alone, Thomas. You don't need to --"

"Carol was my friend. So is the Governor. Don't push me out of this, Steve."

McGarrett studied the ex-intelligence officer whom he admired -- whom he called a friend. If anyone could understand what he was going through, Magnum could. Losing his wife and almost his daughter to terrorists, Magnum knew everything about sudden death, anguish and revenge. With a nod Steve gave his consent.

Pistol in a holster tucked at his back, Magnum went in the front. McGarrett, too recognizable, stayed at the side, ready to move to the front or the back if his assistance was required. Alone in the still night, he wished he would have called Raven or some of the others for backup. But his impulsive quest for revenge had brought him out here without adequate reinforcements or plans. Uncharacteristic, except when one of his guys had been hurt or had landed in danger. Then Steve was prone to exhibit incredible bursts of impulsive anger focused on whoever had caused the unfortunate situation. Right now, he wouldn't give odds on Tom Mano's survival if the hit man came under his power.

Magnum was taking too long already, Steve decided, and edged over to the nearest window. Smudged, dirty glass revealed a storage room. He crept toward the back of the building, then froze when he heard a screen door slam shut. Pressing against the old stucco, he watched a man with long, wavy hair walk toward a BMW. In the man's hand was a rifle.

Instinct carried him silently to the prey and his revolver was pressed to the man's neck before he even thought about his actions.

"Try something." The words were as cold and deadly as his heart. "I'd love you to make a move."

The man's head turned slightly, enough to positively identify him as Mano. The recognition was mutual, and Mano's eyes widened in the meager light of a single bulb from the back of the bar. In that instant McGarrett flushed with hate for the man who nearly killed his friend; shook with rage that the man lived while Danno fought for his life. Steve pressed the muzzle to Tomi's head. Mano's stark fear quelled some of the inner demons tormenting his soul. At the very periphery of his vision he noted Magnum, also holding a weapon on Mano, but not making any aggressive moves. Whatever Steve chose to do now, Magnum backed him.

"Very slowly drop the rifle, Mano. Any other movement will cost you your life, and believe me, right now I'd love nothing more than to pull this trigger."

Seconds of indecision passed in silence. McGarrett clicked back the hammer. Mano carefully leaned to the right to place the rifle against the car. His hand hovered near the barrel, as if weighing his chances for self-defense.

"You' ain't gonna kill me, McGarrett," Mano told him, but the words were more confident than the tone.

"You want to bet your life on that?" Steve took a step back. "Move away from the weapon."

Mano held his ground. "You want me alive, McGarrett. so I can testify fo' you or somethin'. You can't afford to kill me, man."

"I think the question is, can I afford to let you live?"

Tomi grabbed for the rifle. It was barely off the ground when McGarrett shot him. Mano slid off his car to the ground, groaning in pain. Blood from the exit wound covered his chest that rattled with labored, constricted breathing.

Steve knelt beside the dying man. "That was stupid, Tomi. You're pau. Come clean and tell us everything."

"Why should I?" he whispered, his eyes no longer focused.

"Not much time left, Tomi. Who hired you?"

Magnum knelt on the other side of the man and shook his shoulder. "You shot Governor Williams and the others, didn't you, Tomi?" He exchanged a frustrated glance with Steve. "No time left, Tomi. You want everyone to think this was all your idea? You take the fall alone? Then the police will have to go ripping apart your house, upsetting your family. Is that how you want them to remember you? Making it hard on everybody right up to the end?"

"Give us a name, Mano," McGarrett ordered.

"Alika," the hit man whispered.

"Did he hire you to shoot Williams and the others?"

Mano nodded. "Take out Williams. Take out you," he gestured toward Steve. "Big bucks. Mo' to come. Easy money." Now he was gasping for breath. "Inside cop. No worry . . . . ."

The final breath came out as a groan. His eyes remained half-open from shock and pain, but no life remained. McGarrett released a sigh. For the first time he noticed others standing in the dirt lot. Patrons of the bar, he guessed. Witnesses to collaborate Mano's dying confession. If only the man would have told them everything.

"Inside cop," Steve repeated.

"Inside job," Magnum translated. "You were right." Wailing in the distance, sirens mingled with the nearby crash of surf. "Cops are on the way. I can handle the paperwork. Why don't you make better use of your time?"

Steve thanked him, left his revolver in Magnum's care, and suggested the police look for him at the hospital. He really needed to get back. Driving into town, he couldn't let go of the confession about a cop helping with the assassination attempt. Why did Mano force his hand? Not sorry the low-life was dead, McGarrett regretted having to kill an informant who could have made things so much easier. With more loose ends to tie up, he diverted from the hospital.

 

*****

 

McGarrett circled Palace square, formulating ideas. This is where it all started and ended for him -- the Palace, Five-0, the shooting. He put in a call to Raven and parked around the corner on Richards Street to avoid suspicion if the car was sighted. Standing in the alcove of the Judicial Building he had a clear view of the Palace across the street. So many memories -- now all of them tainted by the horrific shooting. Studying the angles, he crossed the lawn to stand by the Territorial Building belonging to Five-0. The angle was only slightly different, but enough for a sharp ME like Holliday to notice.

"Perfect set-up," Raven quietly concluded, somehow materializing silently next to Steve.

McGarrett shook his head in amusement. "What are you doing here? Or should I ask?"

"Just getting the lay of the land. Ski is at the back of Five-0 checking out the security system." The athletic ninja was dressed in black, including gloves. "Do you happen to know the layout of the offices by any chance?"

"Yes," Steve admitted, eyeing the younger man. "I'll tell you as we go along -- "

"No, hold on, Steve, you are not coming with me."

"If you're good enough to break into the office of the state police, you're good enough to get me inside, too."

About to argue more, Raven shook his head. "Fine. We get caught, bail and attorney's expenses are on you again."

When they got to the back Ski had already dismantled the state of the art security system, claiming electronics were only good at catching incompetent amateurs. McGarrett noted his former company, Aikane Security, had installed the system and made a mental note to let Magnum know about the breech. Perhaps Raven and Ski should be on the payroll as trouble shooters.

With startling ease they made their way into the main office furnished with secretarial desks. Having once worked there, Steve remembered the locations of the offices. There was no hope of finding any incriminating physical evidence, but they spotted scraped wood on the pane of Chase's window, opening the possibility it was used as a rifle rest. Wondering why no one heard anything, Steve revealed Higgins learned that the building was virtually deserted, everyone, including office staff, being given the time off to attend the ceremony. While Ski and he looked through desk notes, Raven crouched at the window, studying the line of sight to the Palace. Guessing the assassin used a shell catcher for the semi-automatic bullet casings, he knew such containers were not perfect. Figuring the shooter fled in a hurry, he studied the floor, hoping to find a stray shell. Wedged in a corner of an old broken piece of linoleum under a desk, he found a .30-06 shell.

Momentarily blinded when the lights came on, the three froze. Aki Chase glared at them with amazed anger.

Forestalling an explanation by Jablonski, Chase held up his hand. "I know why you're here," his voice coldly enraged. "I just wish you would have waited so someone else didn't have to do the paperwork on your arrests!" he shouted.

McGarrett joined him. "We know about the coroner's report, Chase. The paraffin test, the angle of the wounds. Your window sill is scraped from a rifle barrel!" He paused for a second to let it sink in, surprise and anger giving way to confusion on Chase's face.

"This is breaking and entering," Chase insisted, his tone less confident.

"Look at this." Raven indicated the floor by the desk. "A spent shell casing I just found. I didn't touch it yet."

McGarrett closed on the Five-0 officer. "A .30-06 matches the slug dug out of Dan Williams' chest! I'll bet we find even more implicating you, Chase." Gradually his tone calmed, reformulating theories as he interpreted his shifting instincts. "How can you explain it all?"

Chase glanced at each man, tongue-tied with irritation. "You should be the ones explaining to a judge," he countered without conviction. "If you want to do your friend some good then get out of this investigation and let the professionals handle it! I don't need to prove anything to you!"

"You know, Chase. You have the answers, don't you? Well, I want them!" McGarrett demanded.

Chase denied everything. Asked about the coroner's report he paused, studying McGarrett in silence, assessing his adversary. "I don't know how you did it, McGarrett, but you're as good as your fan club thinks you are."

Steve studied the young cop. "You knew the shooter must have been here at your own headquarters," he appraised with certainty. "You wanted to handle an internal investigation without fanfare because Lynd has closed the case. But you, and Wolfe, and Holliday can't accept that. That's how my people got the information. It was deliberately leaked, wasn't it?"

Startled and pleased, Chase calmed down enough to take a seat on the edge of the desk. Glancing at the three intruders, he evaluated their trustworthiness. Finally deciding to take a gamble, he pulled some papers from his windbreaker pocket. "Computer printout of financial records." He laid them on the desk. "You aren't the only one with contacts, McGarrett. I don't know how you missed this."

"Your computer records?"

"Records of deposits to an account in a San Francisco bank. Regular payments, never under five thousand dollars, every two weeks."

"Follow the money, I told ya," Ski reminded. "This only means something if we can tie this rich guy into the shooting."

McGarrett continued to pin Chase with a glare. "Detective Chase is going to do that by telling us the unexpected identity of this account holder." His little guerrilla army had been chasing their tails, gathering bits of clues around the periphery of the investigation. The Five-0 officer had struck gold.

"I can tell you who is making the payments," Chase began. "Alika. Since he's been inside his boys have been investing their mob money very wisely. They invest, they launder, they support their local politicians both legitimately and in payoffs. With a legal court order I obtained the records of these sums deposited into this account. I've got Mack Wolfe checking on who matches with the numbers."

Raven skeptically observed that using Wolfe meant Chase wanted to keep the investigation unofficial, perhaps to keep suspicion off himself.

"Mack is the only one I trust," Chase countered. "I read Dawn Holliday's report, too. I think someone in this office was working with the hit man to get Governor Williams out of the way. I could have come to you, McGarrett, but you're old friends with practically everyone in this office! I didn't think you would be objective or rational under the circumstances."

Ignoring the insult, McGarrett was interrupted by a call. "I hope I can redeem my character," he retorted caustically. "And maybe my informants can tell us the other side of the coin." He paused as the person on the other end of the phone talked. "Rick, did you get the financial information yet?" He glanced at the others, narrowing his eyes at Chase. "Yes, thanks." He clicked off. "You'll be glad to know there's nothing suspicious about your money situation, Chase," Steve tightly reported. "You have modest credit card debts and a few hundred in the bank. Your fellow detectives are all in similar financial situations, I'm pleased to say. All except your boss, who is in debt because he frequently flies to San Francisco to be with his girlfriend on weekends."

He picked up the computer readout while he answered his phone again. "McGarrett."

"Steve, Ben and I have come across something very interesting," came a familiar British voice.

"Go ahead, Higgins."

"Using the video taped replays, and going over everyone's statements, I've made a timeline of everyone's whereabouts prior to and during the shootings." Typical British thoroughness," Steve figured, but didn't see how it would help him now. "I've come up with an inconsistency."

THAT got his attention! "Go ahead, Higgins."

"You said Lynd was warned of danger to the Governor after your accident. Chase called Lynd, correct?"

"That's what I was told," he said, giving away nothing as he stared at Chase.

"Lynd did not have his cell phone turned on. An officer came up to the podium, three minutes prior to the shootings, and spoke with Lynd. But Lynd made no effort to warn the Governor."

"He didn't deem it important enough," McGarrett growled.

"Nor did he seem to consider it important when the shooting started. From one camera's perspective, I've found Lynd bolting off the stand after the first shot. When he intercepted Raven, Lynd was leaving!"

"Out of the line of fire," McGarrett whispered.

"Indeed. It looks like he had no intention of saving the Governor."

Trembling with anger and remorse, Steve nearly dropped the phone. Rick came back on the line and finished his report. The name of the owner of the account was almost anti-climactic. He already knew the identity of the guilty party.

"Lynd owns this account."

Chase was speechless.

"I knew it!" Ski shouted. "I KNEW he was no good! Any stuffed shirt who won't wear a lei to a luau is just plain no good!"

"Wow," Raven breathed. "The last person you'd expect to sell out to Kumu."

Ski shook his head. "Nuthin' surprises me, pal. Money like that crosses all lines. Any cop, any judge, any color, anybody can cave with that kind of cash."

"And easy to frame the Hawaiian Nationalists when you're the boss cop," Chase added.

"Then who's the shooter?" Raven asked McGarrett, who was strangely silent. "Steve?"

Hardly breathing, McGarrett whispered, "He wasn't stopping you from getting to Danno, you stopped Lynd from fleeing the podium, Jonathon," he pieced together, dazed from the realizations still hitting him hard. So many little steps leading up to the tragedy, yet everything he had done had failed to keep his friend safe. "Lynd did it for money," was the tattered murmur. He had seen a lot of crime committed for the sake of money, but never anything so personal. "He wanted Danno dead. For money."

Ski came up and placed a hand on his shoulder. "Hey, why don't you let me take you home, Steve. You've had a helluva day."

"McGarrett shook his head. "I'm going to see this through."

"Tomi Mano's the shooter, I bet," Chase guessed. "I seem to recall Tomi is pretty good with a rifle. We can check it out."

"He already confessed," Steve quietly inserted. "Before he died."

No one seemed to breath for some moments. Several times Chase indicated he might break the silence of the astonished men, but ultimately found no words.

"You found him first," Ski finally assessed.

"Self-defense," McGarrett assured. "Magnum was one of several witnesses."

Chase glared in anger at the ex-cop. "Is there any other possible place in my life you can interfere in?"

Ski literally came between them. "Hey, there, buddy, if I was you I'd be thankin' Steve for savin' you all kinds of paperwork. You got a confession, you got a dead shooter." To Steve he wondered, "Did he tell ya who else was in on the plan?"

"Unfortunately, no."

Raven showed Chase where the shell casing still rested and offered him a pencil from the desk. "Dust the end for a thumb print and see what you find."

"Mano and Alika," Steve agreed. "The money and the talent. They've had scores to settle with Danno. They found a very high placed cop who had vulnerabilities they could exploit, and waited for the right opportunity. Yesterday's ceremony must have been more than they could pass up."

"And Kalama, the drunken truck driver from Hawaiian Nationalists was really a drunk with a grudge. Then they frame poor Tanaka to take the fall," Jonathon finished. "Are you going to be able to prove all this?"

Chase ran down the chain of evidence; ME reports, the shell casing with possible fingerprints, the money trail linking Lynd to Alika. It was enough for Chase to go for an arrest of his own boss.

"Where is Lynd now?"

"Should be at home, still recovering. I'll get a warrant right now."

Steve held onto his wrist before he could remove his cell phone. "No, that might tip him off. We've got to trap him."

"We?" Chase chortled. "There is no we, McGarrett! I'm the cop here, you're the intruder!" Backing off", he insisted, "What's your idea? Not that I'll let you help, but I'm open for suggestions."

"Catch him unawares," Ski advised.

"At five in the morning?" Raven countered.

Five AM. Where had the time gone, Steve wondered, aggrieved? He had meant to return to the hospital and be with his friend through these last, slow, dark hours until dawn. Superstitiously and statistically he knew those were the toughest moments to endure, to hang onto life. Countless hospital vigils and stays confirmed that truth. How could he be so consumed with a case -- even this case -- to forget to return to his friend?

"The hospital," he told them urgently. "Call Lynd," he ordered Chase. "Tell him the Governor is asking for him."

"He might check," Chase countered.

"Call Hilton or whoever's on duty and have them pass the word. While Lynd is on his way there you can get warrants. There must be a judge you can wake who is above suspicion. Then get units over to Lynd's house and a team here to search the office properly."

"Legally," the detective corrected.

"Have your people set up an alternate room with a decoy for the Governor. I need to get back to the hospital."

McGarrett's phone beeped and he answered it. "McGarrett."

"Steve," Agnes 's voice barely reached a hoarse whisper. "You need to come back now. Right now, Steve!"

He felt the blood drain from his face and he gripped tighter to the phone to keep his hand from shaking. The dry knot in his throat choked his breath and he swallowed hard. "Danno?" he murmured.

" Hurry, Steve, he's -- "

He hung up before she could tell him something he didn't want to know.

 

*****

 

He raced the few blocks in record time. Rushing into the hospital he couldn't help but notice the morning ADVERTISER already on the stands. A picture of McGarrett, leaning over a downed Williams, emblazoned the front page.

Tension gripping every nerve, he dashed out of the elevator and rushed past the police gauntlet to the familiar ICU room. People crowded around the bed, obscuring the patient. McGarrett stood in the doorway, hearing sniffs and sobs, seeing heads bowed in grief. Stopped cold in his tracks, he could not look. Kelly, the children and Kana stood with their backs to him. Agnes and Suzy Kelly stood on the far side by the wall. Tears pooling in his eyes, he leaned against the door, weakness and panic binding him in place.

Agnes noticed him, her tear-streaked face brightening. "Steve! Finally!" she sighed.

"Uncle Steve!"

"Steve, I'm so glad you're back!" Kelly smiled, dragging him over to the bedside.

Astonished, he saw the monitors indicated Williams still lived! The chest still moved with breath and life! He glanced around the smiling faces afraid to accept the optimism in their expressions. Kulani quietly explained their friend had slowly gained strength during the night. Contrary to medical opinion and the severity of the wounds, it looked like the Governor would live. They expected him to regain consciousness shortly, which was why they wanted him to be there.

"I'd like to think it was the ritual last night, giving him an aloha of farewell if he needed to leave." Kana winked. "I think it was probably your yelling at him that did it," he finished with a grin.

"He's going to live?" Steve hardly dared to hope. He maneuvered over to the side by Agnes and gripped tightly onto his friend's hand. "I knew you wouldn't give up, Danno," he choked out somewhere between a smile and a sob.

Kelly delivered a kiss on Dan's pale cheek. "Don't you think you've rested long enough, darling? We're all waiting for you to wake up. You're running on Hawaiian time again."

"We've been coaxing him for a while," Kulani elucidated. "I thought you yelling at him again might do the trick."

"I never yell at anyone," McGarrett corrected stiffly.

At the tug on his hand he gasped and looked down to familiar blue eyes staring at him with silent humor. The threatening tears finally cascading down his face, McGarrett laughed with pure joy as his friend tried to smile at them around the tube in his mouth. Enduring the kisses and hugs of his family, Williams maintained his weak grip on Steve's hand. Giving a wink to McGarrett, he closed his eyes, never letting go of the lifeline to his oldest friend.

 

*****

 

With one arm around Agnes's shoulder, Steve exited the room feeling numb. Exhaustion hovered near the edges of his isolation, but all he could comprehend now was emptiness. After the last two days of incredible anguish he was washed null from the inside out.

"I've never been so happy to be wrong," she finally sighed in a quiet, fatigued voice.

He patted her arm, squeezing her tight, a silent forgiving of her painful miscalculation.

"You made the difference, Steve. You changed Dan's destiny." Her eyes twinkled with love. "Not for the first time, I bet." She squeezed him, the pride throbbing in her words. "This would have been a terrible ending without your stubborn Irish pride."

He dredged up a lightened tone, but the shudder in his sigh spoke of nerves tattered from anguish. "Danno's alive, that's all that matters, honey."

At the intersecting corridor they stopped, HPD officers crowding the hall. Chase and Suzi Kelly held a handcuffed Lynd between them. Jonathon Raven appeared at his elbow.

"They've got him cold," the mysterious ally told him.

McGarrett stared at the Five-0 chief who had caused him so much pain, and found only a slight rippling of the rage he expected. Too depleted to hate Lynd as much as he deserved, McGarrett watched as Chase brought the police leader to him.

"He fell into the set up like a blind man," Chase reported. "He's already talking deals for leniency."

Staring into the cold, hazel eyes of this fiend, Steve couldn't find words strong enough to condemn the criminal.

"How could you?" he began, the incredulity expressed in his deathly-quiet, strained voice. His fists clenched with pent-up rage. "The betrayal to your responsibility as head of Five-0! The murders of innocent people!" The anger rose in the volume of his word, in his flushed face. "You nearly killed the Governor -- you nearly killed my friend! In the name of greed!"

Almost as an instinctive response to everything, Steve threw a leveling punch into Lynd's face. The cop staggered back, kept on his feet only from Suzy's and Chase's support.

"I think that says it all," Raven smirked.

Chase gave a salute to McGarrett, which said it all for him, then escorted Lynd away.

Agnes and Raven held him back as Chase disappeared with the catch. Steve pushed away the imprisoning arms and leaned against the nearest wall.

Agnes , shaking her head, hugged his arm. "My hero," she labeled affectionately. "Feel better?"

Wincing as he flexed his hand he replied, "Yeah."

"Are you going to be okay?"

"I am now. Let's get out of here."

"Sounds like good karma to me."

 

*****

 

Two days later Williams recovered enough to have the tubes removed and sit up long enough to hear an edited account of McGarrett's exploits. Knowing many details and accomplices were left unmentioned, Dan promised to wheedle it out of Steve in the future. The bottom line, Steve assured, as he leaned on the wall and stared out the window, was that Lynd was behind bars along with Alekema Alika. Meticulous records, kept as insurance by Lynd, implicated dozens of well-known figures in the state as Kumu payoffs. HPD and Five-0 were working overtime gutting the mob that had caused them so much trouble for years.

"Another chapter in the book of the legendary Steve McGarrett," Dan smiled.

"And if you try to honor me with another ceremony, Danno, I'll leave the island!"

"Okay," he agreed easily. "I'm pretty tired of the headlines, too." Soberly he fondly studied his friend. "I'm just glad you got out of this okay, Steve."

"Both of us were pretty lucky," McGarrett agreed.

"Yeah. We're alive. Kumu is crushed. Even Lynd is out of my hair. And I heard Syd's backed out of the threatened lawsuit. For once public opinion is so overwhelming in my favor he thought he better lay low." He grinned mischievously. "In fact, I think there's going to be a lobby to get you to run for governor in my place."

"No way," Steve promised. He crossed to the bed and sat on the end.

"How about new head of Five-0?"

Steve shook his head, waving away the idea. "Not even dog catcher, Danno!"

"Good, cause I'm going to offer Five-0 to Chase. I'm sure you'll find ways to get in his way before I leave office."

"Good man," the former chief confirmed ambiguously.

Dan's eyes glittered with amusement. "Didn't we already have this conversation?"

"We did. And this is where I'm going to end it and let you catch up on your rest. The sooner you're well the sooner we spring you out of here."

Convalescence would take place on McGarrett's isolated estate on Kauai to keep the world at a distance. He was anxious to get back there, get Dan to the protection and privacy of the remote beach house. Stepping to the door, he reminded he had promised Stephen and Angel an afternoon sail, and heaven forbid he was late for that important appointment.

"Steve, thanks." Already praised a dozen times for his efforts to save Dan's life and his energetic investigation, McGarrett sloughed it off. Williams was persistent. "I mean, thanks for not giving up on me." The phrase had almost taken on the stature of a quotation between them through various crises. "I couldn't give up when I knew you wouldn't either."

"You heard about my scene I take it?"

"No, I heard it -- felt it, Steve. I knew you were here."

Chilled at the implications, McGarrett stared at the younger man. "But you were -- you weren't conscious."

"I was almost dead," Dan corrected. "It's hard to define exactly, but it was like I could see everything clearly, and hear you commanding me to fight. I can't begin to explain, Steve, but maybe Agnes has bee right all these years with her mystical stuff. Maybe some powers transcend the limitations of the world we know. Here I am thanks to your Irish temper."

Unwilling to accept the credit, he nonetheless felt awed at the connotation. There were indeed more things in heaven and earth than he could dream. "You were always pretty good at following my advice."

"Thanks for following mine."

McGarrett frowned, trying to place the reference. "What advice?"

Williams seemed far away although his eyes stared into Steve's. "The shooting and ceremony are pretty much of a blur. I remember you being there. I thought I was dying. I asked you to take care."

Steve swallowed the knot in his throat. "You wanted me to take care of your family."

Dan smiled. "Take care of YOU, Steve. You're ohana."

Too touched to comment, McGarrett nodded, placing a hand on his friend's arm.

"Anyway," Dan sighed, "I can't argue with the results."

He could not dispute the results either. Dan was alive and his paradise, his ohana, were once more intact.


PAU


Hawaii Five-0 character list:

Agnes DuBois -- Samantha Eggar --

episode -- Horoscope For Murder

Sandi Welles -- Amanda McBroom --

episodes: Loose Ends Get Hit, Tour De Force: Killer Aboard, Dealer's Choice - Blackmail

Suzy Kelly -- Jean Marie Hom

episode -- Death in the Family


ISLAND SON CBS 1989

A series dealing with Daniel (Kana) Kulani, whose parents died during the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Adopted by Hawaiians, he grows up as an "Island son" and leaves the islands for a mainland career in medicine. Years later when his marriage fails he returns to his homeland and family.

Dr. Daniel "Kana" Kulani -- Richard Chaimberlain --

Kahuna and Tutu Kulani -- Kwan Hi Lim, Betty Carvalho


RAVEN CBS 1992 - 1993

As a young man Jonathon Raven lived in Japan with his diplomat parents. When they were killed by the dreaded tong Black Dragons, Jonathon secretly learns the martial arts from a master and infiltrates the gang, killing those who murdered his parents. Raven's wife (the master's daughter) is killed by the Black Dragons and his young son taken away. He searches the world for the son, finally narrowing the trail to Hawaii. There, with his friend Ski, they help people in need, hunt for the son, and try to stay out of the clutches of the Black Dragons.

Jonathon Raven -- Jeffrey Meek

Herman "Ski" Jablonski -- Lee Majors


MARKER - UPN 1995

Richard DeMorra returns to Hawaii for the funeral of his father. His inheritance is adopting the responsibility for redeeming 'markers' or favors his multi-millionair father gave out to people who deserved some kind of reward. Richard, aided by his 'stepmother', their lawyer, and a beachbum friend, go through various of adventures redeeming the 'markers'.

Richard DeMorra -- Richard Grieco

Kimba Rose -- Gates McFadden

Taki Mochadomi -- Keoni Young

Andy Bumatai -- Danny (Pipeline) Kahala


ONE WEST WAIKIKI - 1994 - 1996

HPD has a rapscallion of a detective named Lieutenant Mack Wolfe. He's abrassive, coniving, and a push-over for any get-rich-quick scheme. He's also a handsome, clever and talented homicide detective. The main object of his flirtatious nature is a brilliant and charming Medical Examiner named Doctor Dawn Holliday. Together they bring a whole new meaning to the beautiful scenery of Waikiki.

Lt. Mack Wolfe -- Richard Burgi

Dr. Dawn Holiday - Cheryl Ladd


MAGNUM PI 1980-1988 CBS

For the benefit of anyone whose lived in Gilligan's Island for the past two decades -- Thomas Magnum -- a new word had to be invented to describe him. The 'HUNK' in the Hawaiian shirt, tooling around Hawaii in a red Ferrari, is a PI who lives off the generocity of the mysterious and rich novellist Robin Masters. Supposedly Masters' security chief for his windward Oahu mansion, Magnum scrapes together a living doing small PI jobs with the assistance of his Vietnam vet buddies TC and Rick, and the grudging cooperation of Jonathan Higgins, the British major-domo of the Masters estate.

Thomas Magnum - Tom Selleck

Rick Wright - Larry Manetti

Jonathan Higgins -- Jonathan Hillerman

Rogwer Mosley -- TC