Hau Kea Kalikimaka
Note: This story does not fit into the show's established continuity for this year. Maybe it's next year.
All alone on Christmas Eve, Detective Danny Williams had no plans until 2:30 Christmas morning. He pondered whether he should go to sleep and set the alarm or just stay awake until he could call his daughter, who was celebrating the holiday 5,000 miles away in New York City.
The Rockette's Christmas show, skating at Rockefeller Center — all those things he used to do with Grace when they lived in New Jersey, she was now doing with her mother and stepfather while her father languished alone in Honolulu where the temperature at 10 p.m. Dec. 24 was a ridiculous 70 degrees.
Danny told himself firmly to not be such a baby. It had been a kind gesture of StepStan to take Grace to New York for the holidays. She missed the snow and Christmas activities as much as her father did. Danny would get his holiday time with her when they got back — a New Year's Eve party and fireworks. Honolulu was the last major city to greet each New Year — a trivia fact Danny had picked up — and it celebrated as though the world had saved the best for last.
While he was trying to look on the bright side, a knock interrupted his thoughts. Despite the lateness of the hour, Danny was just as happy to be interrupted.
When he opened the door, he found his partner on the doorstep wearing a down-filled jacket more suited for zero degrees than 70.
"Your blood must be awfully thin, Hawaii boy, if you need a jacket like that on a night like this," Danny said.
"I'm going to need it later," Steve McGarrett replied. "We're going somewhere cold."
"We are? Somebody find a body in a meat freezer?" Danny asked, hating himself for sounding so hopeful. Work would take his mind off.
"Not business. Come on, quit moping about Grace. I've got something to show you. You do still have a heavy coat, don't you? A New Jersey winter coat?"
"Sure, I hope to go home someday. Where are we going?"
"Don't argue, just trust me and come," Steve replied. "Or do you have something better to do?"
Danny thought about his lonely apartment and surrendered. "Not until 2:30," he answered as he fetched his coat out of the back of the closet.
Steve drove to the heliport at Honolulu International where a military cargo helicopter was standing by. The pilot was leaning against the side, smoking a cigarette and reading a novel on his iPhone.1
"Hey, Steve!" he greeted McGarrett.
"Bill, this is my partner, Danny Williams. Danny, this is Lt. Bill Orona. He's flying over to the Big Island tonight and we're going to hitch a ride."
"I've got to drop off a passenger," Bill explained. "Might as well have some company on the way back. And Steve qualifies as a copilot. The doc's making a call to tell them we're on the way, then we'll get going."
Danny assumed "the doc" was the passenger. The detective wanted to ask about the who, what and why, but he didn't, because he knew Steve wanted him to.
An older man carrying a topcoat trudged across the tarmac toward the helicopter. At the sight of him, Bill stamped out his cigarette and climbed into the cockpit. The detective studied "the doc," estimating the man was in his late 50s or early 60s. He was lean and active, though he looked tired and had the rumpled appearance that Danny associated with a long airline flight. (No great deduction. They were at the airport, after all.)
"Dr. Peebles?" Steve addressed the newcomer. "I'm Lt. Commander Steve McGarrett. This is my partner Detective Danny Williams."
The man shook hands with them both. "Yes, Bill told me about your Christmas surprise. It's very kind of you."
Steve waved the sentiment away. "I can't let Danny mope all alone on Christmas Eve. It wouldn't be the aloha spirit."
Danny opened his mouth to say something, but for once decided not to. The detective had a different interpretation of Steve's offer.
"I'm from Pennsylvania, myself," the doctor said to Danny. "I know how much you can miss the change of seasons."
"Nothing ever changes here," Danny complained. "So, where are we going exactly?"
The doctor shook his head. "It's more than my life is worth to tell you. But I think you'll like it."
The settled themselves inside with Steve up front with Bill and Danny and the doctor in back.
"Nice chauffeur service you've got, doc," Danny commented.
"Well, I was on Navy business," Peebles replied. "And I do have to be at work early tomorrow. They felt they owed me."
"Working on Christmas Day?"
"The stars wait for no man," Peebles said cryptically.
Bill hissed at him. The doctor smiled and shut his mouth.
Danny looked out the window in silence, watching the lights of Honolulu fade away. The helicopter headed out over the ocean. As they flew, to the left he could see the lights of the islands between Oahu and Hawaii, surrounded by the impenetrable blackness of the sea at night.
"Pretty, but lonely," he commented over the radio.
"Specks in the darkness, reminding us of our mortality," Peebles agreed.
Danny looked at the doctor and realized he wasn't looking down at the islands but up at the stars. Peebles recognized the opposite at the same moment and shared a grin with the detective.
After an hour, they reached the bulk of the Big Island. The helicopter passed over the lights along the coast and headed for the darker interior of the Big Island. As the helicopter labored upward, Danny saw the ground below seemed to glow in the moonlight.
"What's that?" he asked.
"You don't recognize snow when you see it?" Steve said.
"Snow in Hawaii?" Danny marveled.
"Mauna Kea is at 13,000 feet," the doctor said. "We have winter here."
"Mauna Kea. Oh, the observatory." Now Danny understood the doctor's — the scientist's — comment about the stars.
"I don't see any lights, doc," the pilot said with a mildness he didn't feel. He needed to see to land the bird.
"They're listening for you," the astronomer answered.
As he spoke, the helipad lights went on, augmented by strands of colorful Christmas lights. The snow glowed in rainbow hues that delighted the child in each of the men.
"Now watch this," Bill said, as he guided the helicopter in for a landing. The downdraft from the rotors kicked snow into the air. The particles sparkled in the multicolored lights like a shower of jewel dust.
Drawing his coat around him in protection from the cold — real winter cold — Danny admired the reflection of the lights on the snow. Like plants that need winter temperatures in order to sprout, Danny needed the cold to feel truly alive, truly at peace with the holiday season. Something that had been tight, released inside him — then a handful of snow down the back of his neck shocked him out of his reverie.
He jumped around, swatting the intruding snow away while his partner smirked at him. Steve had a really annoying smirk.
"I've figured it out," Danny said when he got his breath back. "You suffer from arrested development. You like to call me by my daughter's pet name and you have an infantile sense of humor that makes 'I had a thought,' 'Don't hurt yourself' seem like the height of wit. And now this."
As he spoke, Danny scooped up two handfuls of snow and began packing them together. It wasn't the best snow for it, too dry, but the Jersey native was an experienced snowball packer. Steve started to back away.
"You just have to act childish, don't you?" Danny continued.
"What do you call this?" Steve responded, eying the snowball.
Danny gave him a wicked grin. "I'm a father," he said loftily. "It's my duty to play with children."
He let fly with the snowball. Steve got his hand up to protect his face, but the ball broke apart upon impact, so he got snow in his mouth anyway. Danny was already packing another snowball. Steve tried to defend himself, but the Hawaii native didn't have the experience Danny did. Steve's snowballs tended to fly apart in midair, whereas Danny's struck with full force. Laughing, Steve surrendered.
"Hands behind your back," Danny ordered, holding another snowball at the ready. Steve obeyed, but tensed. If Danny tried to cuff him, he'd have a serious fight on his hands. Instead, Danny dumped the snowball down his partner's neck and watched the commander jump around to get rid of it.
"That is cold!" Steve had to admit.
"You boys finished?" the astronomer asked avuncularly.
"Time to go," the pilot agreed.
"We can't leave the lights on too long. It bothers the neighbors," Dr. Parker said, waving a negligent hand toward the summit of Mauna Kea. "It doesn't matter to our radio telescope, but the optical telescopes are up here to avoid light pollution."
The Five-O officers shook hands with the scientist.
"Nice meeting you, doc. Nice place you have here," Danny said.
"Come back anytime you feel the need for real weather," the doctor said.
Danny used his phone to take a couple of pictures of the snow, then they returned to the helicopter. The astronomer waved as they took off. Danny kept his eyes on the colorful patch of snow until the lights were extinguished.
As Steve drove back to his partner's apartment, Danny's wristwatch alarm went off. It was 2:30.
"Pull over," the detective demanded. "I have to call Grace."
"Right now. It's 7:30 there and she's probably got all her presents open by now."
Steve pulled into a corner strip mall. Everything was shut on Christmas morning, but there was light enough from signs, holiday decorations and streetlights. Danny shed his coat — it was much too hot now — and stepped out of the car as he speed dialed a new number.
"Picture a hotel room with a small tree in the corner and one of the packages begins ringing," he told his partner.
Steve smiled to think of the surprise Grace was going to get.
Five thousand miles away in New York, a phone rang under the tree.
"You'd better get that, Grace," said Rachel, Danny's ex-wife.
Searching at the back of the tree, Grace found a small package well hidden. Inside was a phone still ringing. Caller ID told her who was on the line.
"Daddy?" she answered.
"Merry Christmas, monkey," Danny told her. "Do you like your present? Your mother and Stanley and I thought you were old enough for your own phone."
Grace exclaimed her delight and promised not to abuse the privilege.
"We'll go over all the features — and all the rules — when you get back," Danny promised.
"I got you a present from New York," Grace said, touching a box that contained a New York snow globe. "Stan says we have to mail it back. We can't carry it on the plane. So don't open it until I get home."
"I promise." He couldn't imagine what his daughter could purchase that wouldn't be allowed on a plane. He didn't think about the more than three ounces of liquid in a snow globe. "What did you buy me, a new gun?"
Grace giggled. "I'm too little to buy a gun. You'll have to wait and see," she said primly.
"Tell me what other presents you got?" Danny said.
Steve waited patiently while his partner talked. A patrol car pulled up. The officers were curious about the men standing in the dark parking lot. Steve walked over, hands in plain sight, and showed them his ID.
"My partner had to call his daughter in New York at exactly 2:30," he said, emphasizing "exactly."
"Gotta keep the kids happy on Christmas," one of the officers agreed.
"Sorry to bother you, but there have been a lot of break-ins around here," the other officer said.
"No problem." Steve waved the patrol car away and sauntered back toward Danny.
"No, I didn't spend Christmas Eve alone," he heard his partner tell Grace. "Steve came over. He pretended he was feeling sorry for the poor lonely guy from New Jersey, but I'm a detective, you know. I realized his sister is in Los Angeles and his girlfriend is on duty. He didn't have anyone to spend the holiday with, either."
Sometimes Danny Williams was just too good a detective, Steve thought.
"We went on a helicopter to Mauna Kea on the Big Island and there was snow there. Really, snow in Hawaii. I felt like it was really Christmas. You should have seen it, flying in the air colored by Christmas lights, it looked like fairy dust." He e-mailed Grace a photo of the Hawaiian snow; then said he'd better sign off. "Merry Christmas, monkey. Danno loves you."
"Merry Christmas, daddy."
"Can we go now?" Steve yawned and stretched. "I'm ready for a nap, then a nice, peaceful holiday. No bodies, no grand theft, no explosives, no trouble."
As if the gods disapproved, the two cops heard a crash from around the corner, as of a brick being hurled through a store window.
Even as he drew his weapon, Danny glared at Steve, "This is your fault, you know. Mayhem follows you like a faithful bluetick hound."
"Me! You're the one who insisted we stop here," Steve protested. He drew his gun and stalked toward the commotion. Danny slipped into position beside him, covering his flank.
They moved toward the thieves in concert, like an unoiled machine, complaining all the way.
Notes: The title means Christmas Snow (or, translating each word literally Snow, White, Christmas because, if I understand correctly, the noun comes first and the modifiers after in Hawaiian).
1 If they can do product placement, I can do product placement.