A Big Splash
Sitting on a bench outside a small snack shop, Detective Danny Williams gazed out at the sparkling waters and bobbing pleasure boats of the Kahala Marina. It was an off-hour, too late for lunch, too early for dinner. There were few people around. It was quiet, except for the seabirds squabbling over scraps stolen from a nearby trashcan.
"Nice view," Commander Steve McGarrett commented as he handed his partner a soda and sat beside him.
"Hmm? Oh, I suppose it's nice enough. Too watery for my taste."
Steve had only known Danny a couple of months. He hadn't grasped that his partner didn't look at scenery, he watched people.
"If you're not looking at the boats, what are you looking at?"
"Those guys on the dock. Don't they look ... out of place?"
All the men had dark hair, light brown skin and prominent noses. Two were average height and weight and looked like run-of-the-mill businessmen. The third was huge, taller than McGarrett and powerful. His suit coat strained across his wide shoulders. The cops automatically ID'd him as "muscle."
In another town, Danny might have called the trio "foreigners, "but half the population of polyglot Hawaii could qualify for that designation. (And, truthfully, half of his home state of New Jersey, he had to admit.) Still, the men seemed to lack the relaxed Hawaiian spirit, somehow.
Steve's laser gaze locked on the strangers and saw what his partner meant. "Dark suits, ties, businesslike attitude ... They look like you, but less scruffy."
"Like foreigners," Danny said, applying the word to himself, as well. He still felt out of place in Hawaii.
The men weren't really doing anything, just preparing a powerboat for departure, but the hairs on the back of McGarrett's neck were standing up. The former military intelligence officer had instincts, too. He pulled out his smart phone and took a couple of pictures.
"Maybe I'll just wander over there and take a look," he decided.
"Why you?" Danny asked, jumping to his feet.
"Because you look like a foreigner," Steve answered with unassailable logic.
"I look like a cop."
Danny took the only swallow of his soda he was going to get and followed his partner to the parking lot.
The two made an odd looking pair. At 5-5, Danny's head just topped the shoulder of his 6-1 partner. The funny thing was, neither man seemed to notice the disparity.
Planning a simple reconnaissance, Steve decided to try to blend in. Just another guy going to work on his boat. He put his gear in Danny's silver Camaro and shucked his dark T-shirt. The former SEAL had a six-pack Budweiser would envy. The detective studied him, but not with envy.
"No, put the shirt back on," Danny advised. "The tattoos spoil that whole innocent cabana boy vibe you're going for."
Steve glanced at the colorful designs that covered his shoulders, and decided Danny was right. Barefoot, with his pant legs and the sleeves of his T-shirt rolled up, he sauntered out on the dock carrying a bucket with a sponge in it. Danny lurked at the end of the dock near the parking lot, keeping out of sight.
Steve glanced at the suspects casually, nodding when he met the eyes of one, then turned his gaze to a boat at the far end of the dock, as if it was his boat. His ears, however, were tuned toward the strangers. Of course, if they were foreigners, they might speak a language he couldn't understand, but, no, he heard English in an accent no more foreign than the great state of Texas. The other two voices, however, were more Middle Eastern, a not-always-justified red flag to any military officer since 9/11.
He couldn't understand much; the gulls were just too noisy, but he had to fight from reacting at the few words he caught. He wondered later if maybe he had shown some reaction, because as he passed the suspects, the lights went out.
Danny gaped in shock at the violence that exploded on the peaceful scene. With no warning or hint of hesitation, the biggest of the trio hit Steve over the head with a club that had apparently dropped from his sleeve. He gave a simple push to send Danny's unconscious partner headfirst into the harbor, then he followed the other two into the boat.
"No, no, no, no, no," Danny said in time with his pounding feet, as he ran onto the dock. A fragment of his mind was thankful he had worn his knee brace and hoped the saltwater wouldn't damage it, but most of his attention was on running.
The assailants calmly boarded the powerboat and cruised away, never looking back to acknowledge the drowning victim or notice his would-be rescuer.
Danny pulled his phone out of his pocket and speed-dialed headquarters. "This is Williams, Five-O. Officer down. Kahala Marina, dock 47." He dropped the phone and his holstered gun in his pocket and dropped the jacket on the dock. At the last minute, he remembered to pull his wallet and keys out of his pants pocket and dropped them on top of the pile. Then he kicked off his shoes and dove into the stream of bubbles that marked his partner's passage.
Swimming strongly, he stroked down and caught Steve's limp form by the back of his shirt. Getting a more secure grip with one arm around Steve's chest, Danny pulled for the glittering surface above. He broke free with a gasp that seemed to awaken Steve from his swoon.
The commander began to struggle feebly.
"Steve, hold still or you'll drown us both," Danny ordered, sputtering as Steve's arm washed water into his mouth.
"Danny?" Steve asked groggily.
"Yes, it's me. Relax and let me tow you to the platform. See, I told you I could swim," he added.
"For survival," Steve remembered.
"Not for fun," Danny agreed. He cursed silently that the platform was three-quarters of the way along the dock. It seemed a terrible distance swimming in long pants and hauling a dead weight.
"What happened?" Steve asked.
"Just your inimitable talent for making friends and influencing people," Danny answered.
That was too much for Steve's aching head. "Huh?"
"A total stranger whacked you on the head and dumped you in the ocean," Danny said bluntly.
"Just you being you, I guess."
Steve's head lolled back on Danny's shoulder as the commander concentrated on staying conscious. His head pounded so hard it would have been a relief to pass out, but he had to hold on until they got out of the water.
They finally reached the ladder. "Can you climb?" Danny panted.
"Try." Steve weakly clutched the crossbars, alarmed at his lack of strength. It was only three rungs, but it seemed like Diamond Head. Danny boosted him up until his head and shoulders were above the platform.
"Now hold on," Danny begged.
He clambered awkwardly over his friend and grabbed him under his arms to pull his torso onto the dock. Danny dropped to the ground, spent, unable to pull Steve all the way up. But his friend was safe enough and he could hear sirens coming.
Danny flopped back on the dock, trying to catch his breath as a patrol car and an EMS ambulance pulled into the parking lot together. Just behind them was a sporty red Chevy.
Chin Ho Kelly and Kono Kalakaua piled out. They had been en route to meet the other Five-O members when they heard the police call. The two cousins were mixed Hawaiian blood, as their names made obvious, but they favored the Korean part of the family with high cheekbones and pointed chins. They were long, lean and athletic, and Kono, in her shorts and halter-top, had legs that wouldn't quit, a fact that Danny appreciated when she ran over to him. (He was a detective. He noticed these things.)
As everyone came galloping up, Danny pointed at Steve and waved away help for himself. He just needed to catch his breath. Swimming fully clothed is harder than it looks. He sent Kono to fetch his things. Can't leave a gun lying around.
The girl ran his errand willingly. She was the rookie of the team, fresh out of the police academy, and gofer was part of the job description.
Danny tried to sit up, rolling futilely twice until Chin gave him a hand. Normally slicked back, Danny's sandy hair hung in spikes over his face, dripping in his eyes. He brushed it back so it could drip down his neck instead. His sodden shirt clung uncomfortably and his wet pants were heavy weights around his legs. His tie was a crinkled, shriveling ruin.
"You're a mess, bro," Chin said kindly.
"I appreciate the analysis, Mr. Blackwell," Danny answered.
"What happened?" Kono asked, setting down Danny's clothes and gear.
"Damned if I know," the detective admitted. He told them about their suspicions and Steve's ill-fated recon. "You know how Steve fights. He's got reflexes like a cat. He's a freakin' Navy SEAL! And he didn't have a chance. He walked past and this guy slammed him in the head, no warning, no hesitation. Bam! Push! Steve's in the water and they're in the boat driving away as casually as a picnic cruise."
"Professional," Chin commented.
"Cold. Even sharks hesitate before they strike. Not this guy." Danny shivered at the memory.
"What kind of boat did they get away in?" Chin asked practically.
Danny deflated. "I don't know boats," he admitted, hating to confess such a gap in his detective skills. The two Hawaiians looked at him. Maybe Danny imagined the reproach. He gestured, empty hands out. "What! I never had to identify a getaway boat before!"
"Okay, okay." Chin gestured for him to calm down. "Can you describe the boat?"
Danny's look was definitely reproachful. "Of course I can describe it, but I can't identify it."
"How big was it?"
Danny shut his eyes, picturing the boat against the dock and estimating its length. "About 25 feet," he said with assurance. "White with a turquoise stripe wider at the front ..."
"Bow," Chin corrected.
"... narrowing to a point at the back."
"Thank you, admiral."
Chin grinned. "Cabin or open cockpit?"
"Open cockpit, with seats in the nose, too, in front of the windshield."
"That's called a bow-rider," Kono said helpfully.
Danny gestured at a nearby vessel. "None of those tower things on top. One seat for the driver, bench seats along the side in back, all turquoise. Couldn't really see into the front, excuse me, bow seats."
But he had a vivid memory of the boat driving away with one man's arm casually draped on the side.
Chin made notes. "What about the engines, outboard or inboard?"
"Inboard, two propellers."
Danny scrubbed his hand through his hair. Drops of water spattered Chin's notes and made Kono duck. Danny looked at the paramedic who was listening to Steve's chest with a stethoscope.
"Too bad sailor boy isn't with us. He could probably give us the name, rank and serial number of that boat."
Steve could hear the conversation, but wasn't really following it. His head ached so badly and there was something important he needed to remember, but the word "boat" penetrated the fog. He spoke.
"What was that?" Danny demanded.
"He said 'Harbormaster,'" the paramedic answered helpfully.
Danny rubbed his head again. "Is that someone we need to talk to?"
"No, bro, it's a brand of boat." Chin reached for his phone but Kono already had hers out.
"I've got it." Flying fingers called up the Harbormaster website on her smart phone. She sorted through the parameters of size, engines etc., then showed Danny the selections left. Squinting at the small pictures, he pointed without hesitation. "That one. It's even got the same paint job."
The pictures reminded him of something else and he smacked his forehead with the heels of both hands. "Stupid! Steve took pictures. His phone. My car." He pointed. Kono ran.
While Chin called in the APB, Danny took Steve's phone from Kono and poked the screen with his finger, calling up the pictures then sending them to headquarters.
Kono was puzzled. "Doesn't Steve have security on his phone?" She couldn't believe Steve was so careless, so Danny must be doing something she wanted to understand. The detective was harassed and weary, but rookies gotta learn.
"Of course, he has security or anyone could pick this up and play with it."
"Then how did you get in?"
"De-tec-tive," he said, tipping the phone toward himself with each distinct syllable. "Observation makes a good detective. Observe and remember, young padawan."
"Yes, master," Kono said with a grin.
"That will let you describe a boat, even if you don't know boats," Chin pointed out.
Danny threw his hands out. "Exactly!"
"So, do you know my sign-in?" Kono asked.
"Yes, surfer girl, I do," he answered, leading Kono to wonder if WAVE was too obvious. "But I don't know his," Danny continued, pointing at Chin. "Because he is more wily than all of us."
"Suspicious of nosy haole detectives who covet my unlimited texting," Chin retorted.
Danny heaved himself to his feet and went to check on his partner.
"His vitals look good," reported the paramedic, whose name badge read "Riley." "But there can be delayed effected from both head injuries and near drownings. We should get him to a hospital."
Danny and Riley started as Steve sat bolt upright so swiftly he had to clutch his temples as if his head would fly off.
"Hospital! I remember. Bomb. Hospital. That'll make a big splash. They said 'Bomb. Hospital. That'll make a big splash'," he repeated.
"Boss, are you sure?" Kono said urgently.
"It was noisy — the birds and the water. I couldn't hear it all, but I'm sure of what I did hear. Bomb. Hospital. That'll make a big splash." The paramedic tried to restrain Steve who struggled to get up. "We've got to warn the governor."
"Steve!" Danny's command was so sharp, Steve winced and collapsed back on the stretcher board. "Steve, do you trust me?" Danny demanded in a more temperate tone.
At another time, Steve might have made a sarcastic quip, but out of his pain and confusion he simply said, "Yes, I trust you, Danno."
"Then trust me to do my job. I'll call the governor. I'll get things moving." Steve nodded, eyes squeezed shut in renewed pain. "You lie still and rest up. We need you back to full strength," Danny ordered. Steve relaxed with a visible effort. Danny patted his shoulder. "Good boy. Sit. Stay."
The detective walked out of his partner's earshot and turned to Steve's phone again. He thumbed through the contacts and pressed the button for Governor Jameson.
"Hello, commander." The governor's voice came over the phone.
"Governor, this is Detective Williams. We have a situation." He explained concisely. "We need to put a warning out on the island, all the islands, I guess, since they left in a boat." Danny nodded in response to a complaint. "Yes, ma'am, I realize we don't have a timetable. They could have been talking about today, next week, or the anniversary of 9/11. We can't know. But the ruthless way they attacked a potential witness tells me this is a credible threat — and it's going to happen soon. They said it would make a big splash, so concentrate on any hospital that's having a special event or important visitors."
"VIP patients," Kono contributed.
Danny gave her a thumbs up and relayed the addition. He listened for a moment; then relaxed.
"Of course I'll take care of him. He's my partner. We'll be back as soon as we can."
He turned off the phone and spoke to the attentive Chen and Kono.
"She's going to get the ball rolling. We've got to get back to HQ and see if we can identify the target. Hey!" His shout made Kono start, but he was looking past her to where attendants were loading Steve into the back of the ambulance. "No hospital!"
He grumbled to himself so only his team heard. "All the trouble I went to in order to drag him out of the ocean, I'm not going to send him to get blown up! No hospital!" he said more forcefully, stalking over to the ambulance guys.
They tried to argue, but there were few who could outargue Danny Williams.
"No, no, no. This man is a witness in protective custody. I'm putting him in a safe house."
The driver surrendered. "Where do you want us to take him?"
That stumped Danny. Five-O was still new. It didn't have a safe house.
"His place," Chin suggested. "The bad guys don't know who he is."
"Good. Good idea." Danny got Steve's wallet and showed the paramedics the address on the driver's license.
"Someone should watch him, someone with medical training," Riley advised as he packed up his gear.
"I know someone," Kono volunteered, snatching out her phone again. "Hi, this is Kono Kalakaua. Yes, it's good to hear your voice, too, but I have an emergency, Dr. Tanaka." She explained quickly. "Can you come? Great! It'll be good to see you again." She hung up. "Okay, she'll meet us there in about 15 minutes."
"Okay." Danny told the ambulance guys, "She'll go with you to let you in and there's something else I'd like you boys to do for me." He walked off with them, fishing for his wallet in the pocket of the suit coat he carried on his arm. His wet pants clung to his legs. He'd lost one sock in the plunge. The other squelched as he limped, leaving damp footprints behind.
Kono watched with admiration.
"I didn't know he could do that. I knew Steve could, but not Danny."
"What's that, little cuz?" Chin asked.
"Take charge. Dominate. I mean, look at him. He's short, a little scruffy, maybe kind of funny looking — great shoulders, though," she added thoughtfully. "His clothes are wet and crumpled and he looks like a homeless person who got caught in the rain, but he's in control and nobody's questioned it, not Steve or even the governor."
"The governor couldn't see him," Chin pointed out. "But I get your point."
"What is it?"
"Confidence," Chin decided. "He's good, as good a detective as I've ever met. And he's in his element right now. This is the kind of situation he's trained for. He's still a stranger to Hawaii, but once he gets familiar with the place — and he will ..."
"... because we'll help him..."
"... he'll be hard to beat," Chin finished.
"Are you two coming?" Danny called from the parking lot. They hastened after him, and shared a grin over their unhesitating obedience.
Danny told Kono. "Let the guys in. They know what to do. Tell your doctor what's going on. We'll swing by my place to get some dry clothes, then pick you up."
Danny grinned because that's what she called Steve.
Kono took off in her little red compact.
"You'd better drive. I'm a mess," Danny said, handing over the Camaro's keys. Chin had taken a beach towel out of Kono's Cruze. He spread it out on the passenger seat, then gestured Danny in. "Good thing Kono was here. She's used to wet passengers," Chin said.
Danny dropped in heavily, all his animation rushing away. He scrubbed his face tiredly. "I'm already bushed and it looks like it's going to be a long night," he sighed.
"Power nap, bro," Chin advised. "Trust me to be your chauffeur."
It was good advice. Danny was asleep before Chin slid behind the wheel.
Steve woke up to early morning sunlight coming through his own bedroom window. There was a stranger in his room.
A grandmotherly Japanese woman with iron gray hair and a matronly figure sat beside the window reading a paperback. Steve faintly remembered a voice in the darkness, a soft hand on his cheek and an annoying light flashing in his eyes.
"Dr. Tanaka?" he ventured.
"Ah, right on schedule," the woman said, setting her book aside. "How's your head?"
"It aches, but I've had worse." He touched the sore spot and felt a small shaved patch with a crusty strip.
"There was a small laceration. I superglued it together. You shouldn't even need a bandage," the doctor said.
"Thank you. You were here all night?"
"Kono asked me to keep an eye on you," Tanaka said.
"Are you one of her many cousins?" Steve asked.
The doctor laughed. "No, but I was her next door neighbor when she was a girl, so she thought of me when she needed medical help in a hurry." She looked into Steve's eyes and listened to his lungs. "Head injuries can be tricky, but you look fine."
The doctor's manner was maddeningly familiar. "I know you, don't I?" Steve asked.
She smiled. "I treated you once when you were a boy, when your doctor was out of town."
"When I fell out of the tree," Steve remembered.
"You were so disappointed you weren't going to need a cast on your arm."
"But the sling you gave me made me ultracool at school for a week." Steve grinned.
He sat up, realizing he was naked under the sheets. He felt sticky from the residue of saltwater on his skin.
"Can I shower?" he asked, toughing his wounded head.
"Just don't scrub at it and it should be fine," the doctor answered. She put her stethoscope in her bag. "I'm told breakfast will be ready when you are," she added as she left the room.
"Breakfast?" Steve wondered. He realized he could hear faint voices from his kitchen.
He showered quickly and dressed, carefully patting his head dry, then came downstairs from his bedroom to find intruders in his home.
He heard Danny's voice as he came into the kitchen. "What do you think, doc? Can it be saved?"
"It's not really my field, but I'd take it to one of the techs at the hospital and let him check it out," Tanaka said.
"I rinsed off the saltwater and oiled the metal bits like the instructions said, but I didn't have time to gently dry it with the hair dryer that I don't own, anyway."
Steve came into his kitchen to find a comfy domestic scene with his team and the doctor sitting around his table eating his food. The subject under study was Danny's knee brace. Steve hoped it hadn't been ruined on his account.
The smell was heavenly. Coffee, bacon and ...
Standing at the counter, Danny skewed around, "Hey!" he greeted his boss. "You look better. I hope you really do like pancakes. You said you did."
"I do." Steve obeyed the doctor's pointing finger and sat beside Kono, who waved at Steve because she had her mouth full. "I just didn't expect to find you playing short order cook in my kitchen."
"Doctor Tanaka told us when she expected you to come around," Chin said.
"So we came around to see," Danny said.
"And we were hungry," the young, athletic rookie added, swallowing hastily.
"So we scavenged in your kitchen," Danny said without shame.
"Mi casa es su casa," Steve answered wryly.
"Don't confuse me with Spanish when I'm trying to get the hang of Hawaiian," Danny grumbled. He transferred two disks onto a plate and set it before Steve. The commander raised his eyebrows.
"Blueberry pancakes, even."
"You had blueberries in your fridge, so I figured you'd like healthy pancakes. If you'd rather have plain, I can make more," he gestured with the plate of blueberry pancakes.
"No, these are fine. Better than the ones I make. They always come out purple."
"Ah," Danny said wisely. "I'll bet you put your berries in the batter. You need to sprinkle them with a little of the flour, then put the berries in the pancakes after you pour them on the griddle."
Everyone stared at him as he started to eat.
"So, I watch Food Network. Is that okay with everyone?"
"Fine with me," Kono said, snatching a spare pancake off the platter.
"Food Network, Animal Planet," Steve teased.
"Yes, I spent many hours alone watching cable TV until you came along to make my life so exciting," Danny retorted. "Discovery Channel, History Channel, anything but cop shows. They're so unrealistic," he snorted.
They all ate in silence for a while, well supplied with pancakes, coffee, juice and bacon.
"Only two pancakes?" Steve asked plaintively, as he wiped his plate clean.
The others all looked at the doctor. She tilted her head thoughtfully. "One more," she decided. "Don't overstuff yourself and don't overdo, or you'll end up flat on your back again."
Back at the griddle, Danny rolled his eyes at the idea that Steve wouldn't overdo, but Dr. Tanaka didn't see. She patted her patient on the shoulder and kissed Kono on the cheek.
"Call me anytime, my dear," she said fondly as she went to wash her hands. "You have interesting friends."
Danny scraped out the bottom of the bowl to get two more pancakes.
With the doctor out of the room and Danny's back to him, Steve risked asking the burning question of the morning. "Hey, thanks for the rescue, but please tell me you're not the one who undressed me and put me to bed."
Danny grinned over his shoulder. "I couldn't put you to bed soaking wet, could I?"
He paused for a long moment.
"Awwwwk-waaaard," Kono giggled into her juice.
"So I paid the EMTs twenty bucks apiece to put you to bed, because, frankly, neither of us wants to go there," Danny continued.
"I'll split it with you," Steve said.
"Well, you already have," Danny admitted sheepishly, as he delivered the final pancakes, one to Steve and one to himself. "I only had twenty-seven on me, but I had your wallet. I appreciate the offer, though. You are an expensive rescue. The knee brace is going to need professional help, the dry cleaner shook his head at the sight of my suit and my tie is beyond hope."
Steve winced. "Not the one Grace gave you?" As much as he teased Danny about his ties, he knew where to draw the line.
"No, thank heavens. Fortunately I was not wearing one I was emotionally attached to."
"No worries, brother, you have too many ties as it is," Chin said.
"In your opinion," Danny retorted.
The commander made a show of checking his wallet while he covertly studied his team. There were dark circles under their eyes and lethargy in their movements. He recognized the signs of a night of catnaps and too much coffee.
"Am I the only one who got any sleep last night?"
"Pretty much," Chin agreed.
"Not a thing," Danny answered, stifling a yawn. "Well, no move from the bad guys. We hard-working police officers checked information, searched hospitals and exhausted six bomb-sniffing dogs. To no avail."
"I know what I heard," Steve insisted.
"I'm not arguing with that," Danny argued. "But I wish you'd heard a date to go with 'Bomb. Hospital. Make a big splash.'"
"Shhh," Kono warned, as Tanaka returned.
"I'll be going now," the doctor said. "I'm planning a party tonight for friends coming in on the hospital ship and there's still a lot to do."
"What did you say?" Danny yelped.
"Hospital ship?" Steve demanded.
Tanaka blinked. "Yes, the Navy hospital ship Solace is coming into Pearl today. She's due at 2."
The Five-O teammates felt as if the air had been sucked out of their lungs. They managed somehow to politely usher the doctor to her car with copious thanks, before collapsing back at the table. They tried to wrap their minds around the enormity.
"Blow up a Navy ship ..." Steve began.
"... a hospital ship! ..." Kono emphasized.
"... in Pearl Harbor!," added Danny, to whom Pearl Harbor had always represented a disaster rather than a place.
"That would make a big splash," Chin finished soberly.
To be continued …