A.N. - This is an ATC to the season 5 episode "Journey Out of Limbo" and a few lines are taken from that episode, so are not my own words. Thanks to Tanith2011 for beta reading this story.
Another Point of View
The case was closed. Lin Mai-Lu would recover from his bullet wound. Norton Hummel had succumbed to his. Dan Williams sat at his desk in the Iolani Palace, completing the required paperwork that recounted the events of the past three days. The memories that had been robbed from him by his concussion had returned in full, and with them, Dan now understood how his harrowing encounter with the men in the bunker fit in with Hummel's twisted plan.
Danny put down his pen and read over what he had written. Typical of standard police reports, it was a chronology of events, devoid of emotion. The detective sighed and shook his head. He thought about Mr. Hummel and the violent death that the old army veteran had so painstakingly planned for Mai-Lu, who was supposedly his friend. Hummel would have been killed, too, along with the tour boat's captain, not to mention Steve and Ben! Was that his intention, or had he been so blinded by hate that he hadn't thought about that? Maybe he hadn't cared. Hummel had suffered the pain of losing a child, his only son. Rather than working through his grief in a healthy way, his pain had turned into festering anger and a lust for vengeance. From his college studies, Danny understood the psychological explanation of Hummel's behavior, but as a cop he only had to deal with the fallout. When someone loses touch of reality like that, he becomes a danger to everyone.
Tapping his pen against his blotter, Danny stared out his window beyond the venetian blinds as he thought about his recent close brushes with death, two in the past three days. The first, being fired upon as he fled Hummel's henchmen on horseback, only to be cornered when the mare gave out and he was forced to jump from a cliff to save his own life. The second, when the mannequin-crewed craft exploded dangerously close to Hummel's tour boat knocking him, Steve and the others off their feet, sending them crashing hard onto the deck.
But there was also another man on Danny's mind who could very well have been killed while working this case: Duke Lukela. Duke was in Leahi Hospital recovering from a bullet wound to his shoulder. He often worked with Five-O; Steve trusted him like one of his own. In fact, Danny suspected that Duke would eventually become a Five-O detective since he already fit in so seamlessly. This time, Duke had been filling in for Dan, who had been restricted to desk duty after his head injury, and the young detective couldn't help but feel some guilt.
That should have been me chasing after Durko on that beach, Danny's inner voice insisted. My memory wasn't completely back, but physically, I was fine! Steve was just being overprotective…again. He mulled over the words that had been exchanged in his boss's office the day before, clearly hearing Steve's authoritative tone:
"…and no mob scene, just the three of you."
"You mean the four of us, don't you?" Danny had countered, astonished that he was being benched.
"I mean what I say; you're still convalescing."
That was the final word and Danny knew it. In hindsight, the rational part of him knew that Steve was probably right, that he wasn't ready to chase down criminals just yet. But at the time, Danny had felt a twinge of embarrassment in front of his colleagues; for a brief moment, the emotional part of him felt like a boy whose father had told him that he couldn't go out and play with the big kids. And that had hurt.
He was brought back to the present by a low voice from the doorway of his cubicle.
"You okay, Danno?"
He could almost feel his boss's penetrating gaze. There it is again…I know that he worries, but really!
"Sure, Steve, just finishing up my report," Dan replied flatly, looking up into those intense blue eyes.
"Good," Steve returned, with a slight grin. "We just got a new case; I want to go over the details after my lunch meeting with the governor."
"I'll be there," Danny replied with a forced enthusiasm. Lunch...I could sure use some fresh air…and the chance to see Duke.
Dan didn't like the way he was feeling. After all, Steve was his best friend. But sometimes it was inevitable that the two strong wills would clash.
With a take-out bag in hand, Danny entered the reception area of Leahi Hospital and asked the woman at the information desk for Duke Lukela's room number. Then he took the elevator up to the post-surgical ward and walked down the long hallway. When he found the correct room, he quietly pushed open the door and found the Hawaiian officer sitting up in bed, his back supported with pillows, his left arm in a sling. With his right hand, he balanced the sports section of The Honolulu Advertiser against the tray that held his uneaten lunch. Duke looked up from studying the football scores and greeted his visitor; a broad smile lighting up his tired brown eyes.
"Hi Duke, how're you feeling?"
"Not too bad. The doc says that I may be able to go home tomorrow. Hey, is that a teriyaki burger I smell?" Duke eyed the brown paper bag hopefully.
"Yeah," Danny said with a grin. "I figured you could use some good chow." Danny removed the tray of unappetizing hospital food, turning up his nose at the bland fare. "Looks like I was right." Then he unpacked the bag and handed the burger to the patient.
With one hand, Duke awkwardly opened the paper wrapper of his burger, lifted the spicy sandwich to his mouth and took a bite. "Mmm…" He closed his eyes, savoring the combination of flavors. "Now that's more like it! A guy could starve in this place. Mahalo, Danny!"
A few minutes of silence passed between the two men while Duke ate; time during which Danny tried to figure out how to say what he wanted to say. He glanced downward briefly and spoke what had been on his mind, "Duke, I'm sorry you were hit. I know that you were filling in for me on that beach. I should have been out there with you guys. Maybe it would have been…"
"Stop right there, Danny," the silver haired officer interrupted while he wiped a dribble of teriyaki sauce from his chin with a napkin. "No maybes. We both know that this is an unfortunate part of the job." Duke lifted his sling bound left arm for emphasis. "This was not your fault."
"I know," Danny replied. "It's just that I think that this time, Steve was being…" Dan searched for the right words, "…let's just say overly cautious."
Duke grinned at the younger man's self-consciousness. The HPD officer had known Steve McGarrett for a long time and knew very well about the responsibility the head of Five-O felt for the welfare of all his detectives, his second in command's in particular. "That could be, but he was probably just reacting to his own fear."
"Fear?" Dan asked, surprised by the older man's explanation. "What do you mean?"
"Danny, try to put yourself in Steve's place. Ben told me how scared Steve was when they pulled you out of that ambulance the other day; he said that Steve even stopped the attendants before they could get you into the emergency room just so he could try to rouse you. Ben said that he'll never forget the panicked look on Steve's face when you didn't respond."
Dan listened thoughtfully and nodded, thinking of the times when Steve had been injured and their roles had been reversed. "Yeah, I've been there and I know how that feels," he admitted. "When Steve was in that accident last year in Benny Jalor's car, Duke, the way he looked…trapped upside down like that…and when he told me he couldn't feel anything, I was amazed that I could even think straight, I was so scared."
"I remember," agreed Lukela, who had been on the scene that night even before Williams had arrived.
"I thought that he was going to end up in a wheelchair, that is, if he even survived the night," Dan continued. "And then, the next day he's out of bed and out of the hospital, against Doc's better judgment, and back at the Palace!" Dan's voice rose more than he intended, letting out some of his frustration.
At that, the Hawaiian officer knew exactly what was bothering the younger man. "So it bugs you that Steve is keeping you on desk duty when, under similar circumstances, he just checks himself out of the hospital and goes back to work like nothing happened."
"I guess it's something like that," Dan confirmed.
"You know what the difference is, don't you?" Duke asked matter-of-factly.
"Yeah," Dan answered sheepishly, "Steve is the boss."
"And you have to follow his orders, even when you think he's being…how did you put it? Overly cautious," Duke completed the thought. "Danny, he's not going to change, so you're going to have to figure out a way to deal with it."
"Well, I've had plenty of practice the last two days," Danny commented dryly.
Duke studied his visitor's expression and could still see a hint of annoyance in the young detective's eyes. He thought for a few moments, shifting to a more comfortable position in the bed before he continued. "Let me ask you a question. Suppose there's a person who has witnessed a crime and say that this person clearly saw the perpetrators. They know that this person can identify them so they try to kill him, but he gets away and contacts the police. As a cop, what do you do?"
The answer was obvious. "Put the witness in protective custody," Dan responded immediately. Realizing what he had just said, he relaxed and smiled. "Okay, I get it!"
Duke nodded. "And that's what Steve was doing with you…protective custody."
"How'd you get to be so smart, Duke?" Dan asked.
"With age comes wisdom," Duke replied with a chuckle, just as the floor nurse entered the room.
"Excuse me, Mr. Lukela, but I need to take your vitals now," the young Polynesian woman said.
Dan stepped away from the bed to give the nurse room to work then glanced at his watch. "I've got to get back anyway; we have a new case. Take care, Duke, and thanks!"
"Thanks for the lunch," Duke mumbled around the thermometer in his mouth.
Dan exited the hospital, feeling far better than when he had arrived. Sometimes it takes a good friend to point out what you already know, he mused. He returned to the Palace, ready to get back to work, with a greater understanding and respect for his boss.