TC's jaw tightened and he looked at Magnum. Magnum's brow was furrowed, but TC could read determination - that was his buddy TM, never gonna give up.

"Should we do it now?" Bri asked nervously.

Alkia shot him a disgusted look. "We'll wait till the storm's over, blockhead. You watch 'em, I'm gonna rest my eyes for a few by the fire. If one of them moves, kill 'em."

Bri, still a good ten feet from Magnum and TC, sighed quietly, but didn't let Alkia catch his unenthusiasm. Leon moved away, stretching out on the floor right near the fire, staring up at the ceiling with his hands behind his head.

Magnum, keeping his hands up, made eye contact with Bri and slowly slid down to sit beside Rick. Bri just stared at him blankly, which Magnum took neither as a sign of approval or disapproval. He had the instinctive feeling that Bri and Leon were fundamentally different. For sure, Leon was more evil. Bri seemed to be just along for the ride. Magnum made a mental note to play on the distention between the two criminals; if Bri were willing to help them out...

"What're we gonna do, TM?" TC asked. He, too, sank to the floor and put a hand on Rick's shoulder.

"I don't know, TC..." Magnum spoke softly, out of the corner of his mouth. Bri was still facing them, but his eyes were half closed, and he showed no interest in them at all. "Looks like they're getting tired. When one of 'em is asleep, that's the best time - we'd have a chance."

"What about Rick?"

Magnum avoided the question for a moment. "I figure if it all goes right, we'll have those two hostage, or at least incapacitated, until help gets here."

"IF help gets here." TC waved his hand slightly at Magnum's annoyed look. "Sounds good to me, TM. What're we gonna do?"

Magnum outlined his plan to TC. As he did so, he felt Rick's forehead, his palm telling him that

Rick was running a fever. "Damn," Magnum muttered sympathetically.

Rick, feeling Magnum's hand on his forehead, opened his eyes, blinking to clear them.

"Hey, buddy, hang on," Magnum said. Rick swallowed and tried to shift around, but injury and now fever sapped his energy.

Magnum helped Rick sit up a little, propping his friend's shoulders up on his leg. All in all, Magnum guessed that it was a little more comfortable that the hardwood floor. TC examined the arm, gently, and took in his two companions: Magnum and Rick both had cuts on their heads, Magnum's was bandaged, crusty with dried blood, but Rick's was slick and fresh with redness. TC pulled a little part of the bloody shirt to peak underneath. Rick's arm also looked horrible, swollen and a dark bruised color. The bleeding around the compound fracture has slowed, it was now a sluggish trickle, but it was obviously already infected.

Looking grim, TC leaned back against the wall, keeping his hand on Rick's bicep. Magnum didn't want to move too much and attract Leon's attention. Bri looked ready to fall asleep on his feet, which gave Magnum hope. They could move soon, and get the upper hand. Careful was the name of the game right then, however - they already had enough injuries between them to last for a long, long time.

-------

Higgins kept his feet braced far apart on the pitching deck, one both hands on the wheel as he struggled to control the wild boat. This course of action was highly illogical, dangerous and, he had to admit, bloody stupid. It had been a sort of miracle that their plan had worked, and that Tanaka had bullied his way into borrowing a police boat. Also, it was only by a series of minor miracles they hadn't capsized yet, with the waves being what they were. Now that they were finally on the water, Higgins wasn't so gung-ho about the entire plan. It was, he thought again, bloody stupid.

To his left, Tanaka clung to the dashboard, eyes firmly planted out the windshield. It didn't do much good; the rain was driving so hard that all he could see was little craters of water, splashes that formed and washed away in the blink of an eye.

"How far away is this island?" Tanaka shouted over the engines, wind, and rain. "I don't think my stomach can handle much more of this!"

"It should be dead ahead - no more than ten minutes. Though I dare say, my navigation skills in this kind of weather are questionable, at best." Higgins was also yelling loud enough to be heard. "It reminds me of the time I was caught in a flood with some of my fellow officers, all of who seemed to be hydrophobic. It seemed hopeless, until -"

Tanaka ignored him, which was an easy task in these conditions. He put a hand to his drenched Tigers cap to be sure it still rested securely on his head. There was a sudden swell of waves, and Tanaka almost lost his balance with just his one hand on the dashboard.

Higgins, realizing he had no audience, broke off in mid-sentence and glanced at him. "Ten minutes," He repeated.

Sure enough, within ten minutes, Tanaka and Higgins' strained eyes picked out the dark looming shape of Pakua Point, and the small island laying just off the coast. Higgins jerked the wheel around, fighting the storm, trying to steer the craft closer to the islet. The boat was buffeted by the wind and knocked sideways by the waves, making it an almost impossible task. Higgins gunned the engines, bringing the boat as close as he dared to the rocky shore, brow sweating the entire while. They could run aground any second, and then the game would really be over.

Tanaka still had both hands clamped to the dashboard, holding on for dear life, trying not to show how worried he was that the boat would sink, split, or smash.

"I don't think I can get any closer to the island!" Higgins was yelling to be heard, but the worry and frustration was clear.

Tanaka bit his lip. Damn! They'd come so far...!

"If we hit the beach, the hull's good as gone..." Higgins said, more quietly.

There was a brief nod from Tanaka. "The HPD has many boats," Tanaka replied.

Their eyes met.

"Hang on tight, in case we hit sandbars or rocks on the way in," Higgins ordered. He glanced again at the controls in front of him, moving the throttle to full power, simultaneously wrenching the wheel and bow around to face head-on to the beach.

What happened next was very blurry to the two people in the cabin of the police boat - in fact, Tanaka had his eyes closed tight, and Higgins was praying silently.

The grey and blue craft rode the waves, lurching forward as the waves lifted it and carried it toward the sandy beach. The boat would rocket forward on a sudden swell, then fall back as the waves receded, making for an extremely nauseating experience.

With a little coaxing from Higgins, the boat finally ran aground, plowing up into the sand. The propellers churned up bottom muck, whining even louder than the wind, and Higgins quickly shut off the engine. He grabbed Tanaka's arm and hustled him out of the cabin.

The boat, which had been for the most part stable in the water, was leaning hard to the right, slowly toppling over now that it was beached. Higgins and Tanaka got over the railing and dropped to the wet sand, heads bowed against the pelting horizontal rain. They hurried toward the nearby treeline, away from the unprotective openness of the beach, and stood panting under the canopy of thick treetops.

"How do we find them?" Tanaka asked. He was still speaking very loudly, over the sound of wind and thunder in his ears.

Higgins shook his head. "I was hoping they would have left us some sort of clue, some sort of..." He waved a hand, simultaneously pulling his parka tighter. "I don't know how we're going to find them, but let's start inland."

Tanaka followed Higgins through the trees and underbrush.

-------

Bri snapped his head up, blinking his eyes owlishly. He looked at Magnum, who was staring at him.

"What?" He growled. He shook his head to wake himself up; this was the third time he had nearly nodded off. Leon would have his head on a platter if anything went wrong.

"Long day," TC ventured, from his seat on the floor next to Magnum.

Bri nodded earnestly. "You have NO idea," He replied.

"So how'd you get out? Of the prison, I mean," Magnum said, as conversationally as he could. Rick's head was still resting on his leg, burning with fever, and Magnum was doing his best not to disturb him.

"It wasn't very hard." There was a distinct self-importance in the words. "We escaped in the laundry cart. I don't think the guards had been watching enough prison movies."

Magnum and TC raised their eyebrows, and TC chuckled, though it sounded a little forced.

"Brilliant," Magnum agreed, rolling his shoulders. He was getting stiff.

"The laundry's all dumped downstairs," Bri continued. He seemed relieved for the chance to talk to somebody. "And from there, we just snuck upstairs and out, over the fence."

"I thought prisons had electrified fences." TC was looked at Bri skeptically.

"Oh, no, no, not Oahu State Prison. Just a roll of barbed wire." Bri turned his right arm and showed them the blood staining it. "That's how this happened."

Magnum nodded. "Looks bad. Hurt much?"

Bri steeled himself and straightened. "No."

"A cut like that... ouch," Magnum said. "I hope you've had a tetanus booster in the few years."

"Tetanus booster?" Bri repeated.

TC jumped in. "Yeah. I mean, you could get lockjaw - tetanus. I hear that's very, very painful... Not at all pleasant for anyone."

"I think it's okay, it's not too deep." Bri looked suddenly nervous.

"Doesn't matter. Anything deep enough to draw blood is plenty serious."

Bri was wide-eyed. "You guys are kidding, right? The barbed wire, can't be so bad... Right? It's only been up there ten, fifteen years..."

Magnum and TC glanced at each other and shook their heads grimly. Bri was trying not to look panicky, but they could tell they had unnerved him almost completely. He glanced at the gun in his hand, then back to Magnum and TC.

"Tetanus, is it fatal?"

"If not treated immediately," Magnum said, exaggerating only slightly. Time for the big moment. He held out a hand at about waist level, non-threatening, palm up. "Maybe TC can get the radio fixed and we can call for some help for you." Bri's eyes found the radio sitting near the fireplace. He hadn't noticed it before; he had had too much on his mind. Magnum was staring at him. "So, give me the gun, and we'll get out of here."

"What about him?" Bri asked in a low voice, indicating Leon with a flick of his eyes.

"YOU'VE got the gun, remember?" TC said.

"Correction. He has ONE of the guns." Three startled pairs of eyes zeroed in on Leon, who was now sitting up, watching them and listening to every word they had been saying.

Bri scrambled to his feet and turned toward his cohort, hands spread. His gun hung loosely from his right hand, near Magnum. Magnum moved his eyes from the revolver to Bri's face, and saw that Bri kept glancing at him.

"Leon, listen, it's not like it sounded. I wasn't going to -"

Leon stared coldly at Bri, getting to his feet. Bri's hands were shaking in fear as he faced down Leon, and he babbled something apologetically. Leon cocked his head to the side, contemplating. There were a few seconds of frozen, dead silence, and then - as thunder crashed - Leon brought the gun up and fired.

Magnum and TC both instinctively dove to the sides as Bri's body went crashing to the floor, blood foaming and spurting from a chest wound. He landed on the floor near Rick, his arms and legs thrown wide.

While TC scurried over to Bri, Magnum was in action, snapping up Bri's discarded weapon. It took him a split second to find it and draw a bead on Leon, and he squeezed the trigger with all his might.

A single shot rang out, but it didn't come from Magnum's gun. Leon dropped like a sack of wheat, heaped on the floor in a quickly growing pool of blood.

Magnum stared at the revolver in momentary confusion. He hadn't felt any recoil - obviously, he had made the mistake of trusting that a round had been chambered. And yet...

A gust of rainy wind filled the small cabin, and with it, an unmistakable voice: "Magnum!"

Magnum turned to the doorway, where two figures were highlighted by a flash of lightning.

"Higgins?" How the hell...?

Higgins and Tanaka, dressed in matching black rain slickers, entered the room. Tanaka bent and felt Leon's neck, then gave Magnum a grim smile.

"I happened upon the suspect holding a gun on an unarmed civilian," Tanaka said quietly. "He had intent to kill, and I had to put him down."

Magnum dropped the revolver and nodded. Higgins was looking the other way, quite literally, as he knelt next to TC and Bri. TC had a hand clamped over the bullet wound on Bri's chest, applying pressure. It was a sucking chest wound, it had obviously punctured a lung - the chest cavity was filling with air, causing his other lung to collapse. Bri was weezing, coughing and choking on his own blood, which was trickling from the corners of his mouth. Higgins folded his handkerchief and handed it to TC, then did his best to tend to Rick, although there wasn't much he could do for him that Magnum and TC hadn't thought of.

Magnum looked around. "What a mess."

"It could have been a lot worse," Tanaka reminded him softly.

"This is bad enough."

Tanaka didn't disagree with him.

-------

They waited out the storm. It blew over almost as quickly as it had arrived. Usually the passing of a storm leaves the air fresher, somehow more purified, but in the small cabin the smell of blood hung thick in the air.

Tanaka and TC had gone back to the HPD craft on the beach, and TC had crawled inside and put in a call to the coast guard. They and HPD officers were already on the way, proving they really had intended to search the island as soon as the storm let up.

Leon's body had been laid out against a wall of the cabin. Bri's had been stretched out on almost the opposite end of the cabin, in a more respectful way. He hadn't lived for more than ten minutes after receiving Leon's bullet in the chest, but had died in something resembling peace, after Magnum had made it clear that they didn't hold him responsible for Leon's evil deeds.

The whole affair left Magnum with a bittersweet feeling. Rick was going to be fine, surgery and a set of pins for his arm took care of the bad fracture, and Magnum's head wound was nothing serious. It hadn't even required stitches. TC had faired the best, there was hardly a scratch on him. They had come through in one piece, and that was what mattered most.

Magnum was now sitting on the couch in the guesthouse, sipping a beer and watching a baseball game. Things had morphed back into their regular routine - Higgins had even denied that he and Tanaka had rushed to the island to "rescue" Magnum, scoffing at the idea. That was Higgins all over again - Magnum had just smiled nicely at him. Still, Magnum felt that he was missing something. There was certainly no remorse in him for the death of the two criminals, except for a few seconds of guilt he had felt when Bri had died. That had long since passed.

Magnum racked his brains. A promise he hadn't kept, something unresolved...? He tried to recall the last bribe he'd made to TC.

The phone beside Magnum rang loudly, even over the TV. Magnum glanced at it, annoyed at it's intrusion. With a small sigh, he picked it up.

"Thomas Magnum, private investigator."

"TM, it's TC. Boy, you owe me a dinner so big and so expensive that that tab of yours at the club will pale in comparison."

Magnum snapped his fingers. That was it.