Solitary Man, by Cokie

My friend, Kathie, suggested this song title as a good one to describe Steve. Once she did, it wouldn't let me go, so here is the product. One thing, I have listed the date of his mother's death in here, and I couldn't remember the actual date. So, please someone let me know and I will change it. Thanks.

And once again, I'm only playing with him...there is no ownership involved. Life just sucks sometimes... :)

He sat down in one of the chairs facing the ocean and wiped his forehead with his hand then wiped his hand on the dirty tee shirt he wore. Twisting the top off his beer, he took a long drink, stretching his long legs out in front of him. He could still hear the radio in the garage playing the oldies, not really his music, but not bad either. He would never admit it to anyone, but he couldn't change the radio station from the only station his dad had listened to. One side of his mouth quirked upward as he grinned to himself. Ironic. A psychologist would probably have a field day with that thought.

He was bone-weary tired from an unusually busy week of chasing perps around the island. This was his first Saturday off in since he had come back to Hawaii and he had spent it in the garage, the floor covered with a sheet which held an assortment of parts for the Marquis. Truth be told, he had removed the items to clean them and didn't have a clue if he could get them all back where they belonged. And even if he got the car back together, he had no assurances that it would ever run again.

In the background he heard the DJ announcing his next song. And here's the great golden oldie from Neil Diamond, Solitary Man.

Solitary. That's me all right, Steve McGarrett thought to himself. On my own. Misfit. Alone. But it wasn't always like this. His mind drifted back and he could see the panoramic view before him as it once was; filled with laughter and family and friends. Back before his world fell apart. Actually, the first time his world fell apart.

In high school, he was top dog. At sixteen, he was already in his senior year at Kukui High, quarterback on the football team. Back in elementary school, early in the second grade, the teacher told his mom that he was bored with his work and constantly getting into trouble. She explained that he would finish his work quickly and then proceed to make a nuisance of himself. Of course, the teacher's comments were not a revelation to his mom; she knew all about it firsthand. School rules were more relaxed back then, so his mom and teacher decided to see how he performed in the third grade and promoted him. At that point, not only was he challenged; he excelled and had kept up with the older classmates.

When he hit high school, his house was where the kids gathered. Didn't matter what day it was. His mom usually had to run kids off to go home to bed. Two reasons; his grandfather had built on great beachfront property, and second, he had a mom who loved to cook and feed a hungry football team. And mothered every single one of them. All his teammates ate up the attention and repeatedly begged to be adopted.

On April 19, 1992, their jealousy ended. On that afternoon, Mom didn't make it home. His friends were there for the funeral, standing beside him, wanting to be there for him, but his world had suddenly changed. Nothing really mattered anymore. Football was over for the year and he had no purpose. He went to school because he had to; barely managed to graduate, but refused to walk with the class. He could see no reason to do so. She had always been so proud of him, but now that she was gone, life had no meaning. He no longer went out with his friends or even cared to see them. After the first few times when he had refused to talk to them and made it plain he wanted to be left alone, no one came calling. He could handle being solitary. It was easier that way.

Steve had thought he was coping. Until his dad dropped the bombshell that he was getting shipped to the mainland to live with an uncle he barely knew and didn't really like. As further insult, Mary was going to live with someone else.

But his exile was temporary. He had already been accepted to Annapolis, so he bided his time in a place he hated, staying to himself; not willing to go out and meet people. Hatred burned inside him at his father who couldn't be bothered with being saddled with two teenagers. Even now, years later, he could feel the pains of rejection even though he now knew the reasons behind his exile.

He was thankful of that burning rage inside. He had once again excelled at Annapolis, graduating with high honors. But the fire was still there, urging him on, setting him apart from the others. He had "played nice" with his classmates, but didn't allow himself to get close to anyone. People he got close to either left him or rejected him. He didn't need any more. He was fine on his own.

His loner attitude was probably the reason he was targeted for the SEALs. You need to show up without baggage, ready to work, and he did just that. To say that training was hard is a gross understatement. His butt had never been whipped like that before. But he was strong; committed. He persevered. For the first time since football, he had learned teamwork. You had to rely on others to get the job done. In their rare times off, they burned off steam, as good old American boys can do. And they watched each other's backs. But even though he was part of a team, he didn't feel connected. Didn't allow himself to be connected. Due to the nature of their work, the teams changed. Sometimes based on what skill sets were needed to get the job done; at other times the team changed tragically. More people who left his life.

Steve finished the beer and dropped it to the ground, reaching for his second. He knew he should get his butt in gear and try to put the pieces back under the hood of the Marquis. Even though the song was long over, he couldn't get the title out of his mind.

The Marquis was his dad's. One day, he had planned to come home and they were going to fix it together. They hadn't done anything together for a long, long time. Since before. Growing up, his dad had worked many long, tough hours. He was a policeman. Steve grew up understanding his dad's commitment. Even though it meant precious few hours with his wife and kids, it was the life he had chosen. His dad had retired while he was with the SEALs. He had made maybe one trip home and they had spent three days together. Three long days, not really knowing how to talk to each other. But Steve had known that even though it wasn't perfect, he had a home and knew he was welcome there.

Until a month ago. When, for the second time, his world was torn apart.

And now, here he sat, piddling with the Marquis by himself. But he was determined to finish it. He owed his dad at least that much.

He didn't feel necessarily lonely. There was a difference between loneliness and solitary. He had… maybe not friends, but acquaintances. And some friends with benefits from time to time. He had kept track of a few SEAL buddies, and there had been nights filled with beer and wild stories; the tales growling wilder as the nights progressed and consumption increased. Afterwards, they had slapped each other on the back, given each other a drunken "Hoo-YAH" and swore to be careful.

It wasn't a bad life. As lives go.

But now he was back in Hawaii. Doing something he felt strangely inept to do. Who knew that the police had rules that were totally different than SEALs? He was used to going in, handling the situation and getting the hell out. But not here.

Now there was something actually called paperwork. And words like "probable cause", "search warrants" and "back up". How the hell could he get anything done if he had to stand around and wait for someone else to show up to cover him. Damnedest rules he had ever heard of.

He had a team that he had hand-picked and while very diverse, was learning to work together. The governor's praise at their work had been abundant in the few short weeks they had been together. He knew he could take pride in a job well done. But that didn't keep him from feeling like a fish out of water. For years, he had barked orders that were obeyed without question. If anyone had second guessed him, rarely did they bring the fact to his attention.

Until now. Apparently he didn't do anything right. At least that's how he sometimes felt. No matter what he did, there was still paperwork to finish. Ad nauseum. But Steve McGarrett was no quitter. He would learn this or die trying.

Poor choice of words.

But here he sat. After the beer and the song, he was feeling a bit sorry for himself. His stomach rumbled, reminding him that he hadn't eaten since the cereal at 0630 that morning. Apparently it didn't feel that two beers were suitable sustenance for a day's work. He guessed carry out was the best bet. Cooking for one just sucked.

Steve contemplated getting out of the chair, but that would require energy. And purpose. And he seemed to have neither.

While contemplating a third beer, he heard laughter and car doors slamming. He turned his head as three people came around the side of his house. Each bearing gifts.

Steve stood. "What's going on?"

"Aloha, Brah," Chin Ho called to him, holding up two six-packs of Long Boards.

Danny Williams held up two bags from his favorite Chinese restaurant. "Dinner is what's going on. You said you were going to work on that pile of metal in the garage today and we figured you hadn't eaten since a breakfast of tree bark sprinkled with gun powder. So we brought food to you."

"And I made my mom's prize-winning Liliko'I malasadas," Kono added with a dimpled smile, setting the dish down onto the table.

"You can cook?"

Okay, McGarrett, that didn't turn out exactly like you planned it.

"What do you mean by that, Boss Man?" Her smile had suddenly disappeared and he didn't really care for that unexplained gleam in her eye.

"Tread very lightly," Chin whispered as he and Danny began laughing.

"Okay, that's not what I meant," he backpedaled. "I mean, 'you can cook, too?' You've got a lot of other skills, I just never thought—"

"Shut up, Brah, while you're ahead," Chin warned him with a hand on his shoulder. "Trust me."

"Boss, you've just ensured that there are more for the rest of us."

"Oh, come on, I didn't mean it," he tried again. "Please, just one. I love malasadas."

"We'll see. Just don't piss me off. Then we might really have a problem."

"Noted."

They had set the food out on the picnic table, all three talking a mile a minute. He looked into the smiling faces of these people he was just getting to know. His team. Not in the normal sense. Because these folks were not "normal" in any way, shape or form. But they were learning each other and learning from each other.

And he realized he wanted to learn more.

Maybe he wasn't as solitary as he had thought. Maybe there was hope for him yet. And he could possibly belong once again.

That wasn't a bad thought at all. He smiled, and joined them at the table.

"So, what's for dinner?"