AN: Well, this took longer than I ever imagined it to as a hectic RL and writer's block collided to delay the writing and posting of this chapter. Thank you all for your patience, for reading and for your reviews; it means a lot to me. Special thanks goes to Tanith2011 for helping me overcome my writer's block and to my wonderful beta whose hard work has made this a better story. Thank you again for reading and I hope you all enjoy the ending of this little story.
Chapter Fifteen: Aftermath
"Sir, do you have a moment?" Danny was standing alone in a classroom. His training was over, he had successfully passed, but there was still something weighing on his mind.
"How can I help you?" his instructor replied.
"What happens when it's over? When the bomb is disposed and the scene is secured and everyone goes home? How do you move on?"
The instructor looked upon him kindly. "You are speaking from experience."
Danny nodded. "I still remember the first time I disarmed a bomb. One of your former students shouted instructions at me from behind a door rigged with more dynamite. I haven't forgotten those moments. I thought coming here would help me. That in gaining an element of control that I could find peace but…"
"They will haunt you, Danny. Every single one. You'll never forget them because you will never be able to forget how much destruction someone was willing to cause by setting that bomb and you'll never stop questioning the goodness of the human race."
"What should I do?"
"Remember. Remember that for every bomb someone sets that there is someone like you who would risk everything to stop it. It won't stop the sleepless nights but it will remind you that there is still good in this world."
Chin had expected to find some closure after booking Zar and his men but that sense eluded him as he walked alone up the stairs toward the Five-O office. Too much had happened, too many shocks in a short period of time and the implications of Steve's appearance had simply overwhelmed the tired detective.
Stepping into the familiar office, Chin instantly noticed just how much was out of place. A half a dozen Internal Affairs officers were crawling all over the space, collecting documents and searching for evidence that would be used to put Zar and his men away for a very long time.
Chin's gaze continued around the room until he spotted Jenny sitting behind her desk, doing her best to continue in her duties. Jenny spotted him and gestured for Chin to follow her into Steve's office. Looking around, Chin could see this room too had been thoroughly searched by IA.
Closing the door behind them, hope flickered in Jenny's eyes as she asked, "Is Steve really alive?"
"Yes. I saw him."
Jenny began to cry tears of joy as she declared, "That's wonderful! And now Danny and Kono will be able to come back and everything will go back to how it was!"
Jenny's voice was so full of hope that Chin hated having to end her moment of happiness. "Jenny," Chin stated solemnly, "Kono left; I don't think he's coming back."
New tears formed in the secretary's eyes. "And Danny?"
"I don't know."
Jenny mumbled her thanks as she retreated from the office, returning to the comfort and familiarity of her own desk.
It hurt Chin to worry Jenny but what else could he say? There were no words he could think of that would ease the pain that they both felt at the destruction that had been wrought upon their team, their family.
Where had it all gone wrong?
It all had happened so quickly: Danny's arrest, Steve's death, Zar's arrival, Danny's and Kono's exit, the attempt on his life…
Bodies of innocent girls ripped from their homes and murdered in the streets.
One crisis after another.
Wounds reopened before they had been given a chance to heal.
Five-O shattered into pieces.
It was enough to make Chin wonder why he was still here.
Yet, all of the reasons Chin didn't leave when things were at their worst still held true. His family and his home were in Honolulu and in Five-O. His duty as a detective had not changed and would not change. Others depended on him to fulfill his duty to his family and to Hawaii.
When Chin closed his eyes he could see perfectly the image of Steve standing on the deck on the Morning's Light. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the man stood as tall and as resolute and when Zar began his verbal tirade against Chin, Steve hadn't hesitated a second in defending his detective.
Chin had worked with Steve from the creation of Five-O and knew the man inside and out. So even beneath his anger, Chin knew one undeniable truth: Steve listened to his gut and if his gut told him that faking his death was the best way to solve this case he would have made that decision without a second thought.
Could Chin stay mad at Steve for being true to character? Could he mad if that same character defended him against Zar without knowing the facts of the situation, the same character that once caused Steve to risk his career to save Chin's?
In his heart Chin knew that the answer was no but that didn't make the upcoming reunion any easier; a fact that was made very clear when a solemn-faced Danny Williams strode into the room.
"I got Zar," Chin said.
"Nice job with the bomb."
Danny shrugged but didn't reply.
The silence quickly became awkward as neither man wanted to be the first to address the elephant in the room. Finally, Chin broke the silence, "Do you know what you're going to say?"
Danny shook his head. "No."
What could they say? What words could adequately convey the relief and the pain, the joy and the hurt?
Silence again filled the room as the detectives returned to their own private thoughts and waited for Steve to arrive.
There was danger in letting so many strong and stubborn personalities gather in the same room, Paul Jameson thought as he analyzed the looks Steve McGarrett, Jonathan Kaye and John Manicote were currently giving one another.
A meeting that had started with those present expressing heartfelt joy and relief at seeing Steve alive had quickly descended into heated arguments as none were happy about the events that had conspired in Steve's absence. And no man was angrier than Steve McGarrett.
"Alexander Zar, Scott Miller, Parker Clausen," Steve said, his voice filling with more disdain after every name. "Can someone explain why these menwere running Five-O?"
"You died, Steve," Kaye stated. "Someone had to replace you and once Zar was in charge he remade the team in the image he wanted."
"Danno should have…"
Manicote interrupted, "You put the Governor and Five-O in a bad position by choosing to go on your own. Don't criticize the decisions we made."
The two men stared into each others' eyes as tension filled the room.
"Gentlemen," Paul called out. "Please, we'll be here all night if we start second guessing all the decisions that were made. What's done is done. We need to decide what to do with the situation we have now."
"Very well," Steve conceded. "Our first decision will be to reinstate Danno and Kono."
"That's your call, Steve," Paul replied softly.
"What about those girls? What will happen to them?" Manicote asked.
Kaye spoke up, "There's an organization on the mainland that deals with victims of human trafficking. They'll care for the girls and as they improve find them foster homes and help them through the process of gaining citizenship."
"Good," Steve said.
Paul nodded his agreement for in spite of the disagreements in this room they all could agree that those girls were the real victims in this case and it was important that they receive the best possible care. Now, that he knew the victims were being cared for, Paul asked about the perpetrators. "What about Zar, Black and Da Shu? I don't want these men troubling Hawaii again."
Manicote spoke first. "Zar won't be a problem. Kelly and Lukela found enough evidence that I should be able to convince a judge to put him away for life."
"I spoke with the FBI and they assure me that Black is being taken care of as we speak," Kaye added. "I'm confident with the men we captured today and the support of the authorities in Singapore that it won't be long before Da Shu is brought to justice. Regardless, his operation is in shambles."
"Catch him, Jonathan," Steve stated. "My men paid a heavy cost in playing your games."
"We will, Steve," Kaye promised.
After covering a few more logistics, the meeting was called to a close. The two Jonathans left quickly leaving the two old friends alone. Steve looked weary as he rose and headed for the door; Paul could see that he was worried about the reunion with his team.
Knowing all too well how the heavy the weight of responsibility could wear one down, Paul called out a word of encouragement to a man he considered a good friend. "It will get better."
Steve turned. "You believe that?"
"Yes. You should be proud. Your men didn't let anyone stop them from finding the truth and keeping these islands safe. They'll come around."
"Thank you, Sir."
Then without another word the two men who held nothing but the utmost respect for the other clasped hands and found strength in the presence of the one another.
The staircase to the Five-O offices never felt as long and as steep as it did at that day. A thousand worries crossed Steve's mind as he climbed those steps and tried to come up with the words that would bring peace to his hurting team.
Opening the door to the outer office, Steve braced himself for what he'd find but the sight of the IA officers ransacking the place in search of evidence was a shock all the same. Suddenly, a woman's voice rang out loud and clear and she threw herself at him. "Oh, Steve!"
"I'm here, love," Steve replied as he wrapped his arms around his sobbing secretary.
Jenny held him tight as if she wasn't quite sure that Steve was real.
"Everything will be fine," Steve promised.
Jenny pulled out of the embrace and wiped at her tears with the back of her hand. Her eyes looked sorrowful as she replied, "I hope you're right."
Before Steve could ask his secretary what she meant, Jenny gestured towards his office. "They're waiting for you."
Patting Jenny reassuringly on the back as he passed her, Steve opened the koa doors and stepped into his office.
Danny and Chin turned to face Steve and for several seconds all they could do stare at each other. Then walking over to the large desk, Danny crossed his arms and leaned against the front, in the spot that Steve often took for himself.
Not sure how to begin but knowing he had to say something, Steve began with the most neutral comment he could think of. "The Governor told me you did work on this case, both of you."
"No thanks to you," Danny shot back.
Steve bristled at the remark but tried to keep calm. "You're upset."
"Upset?" Chin countered. "Your death destroyed Five-O! It almost got me killed – for real!"
"You think I wanted this?" Steve asked pointedly.
"It doesn't matter what you wanted or what you thought would happen," Danny argued. "What matters is what happened because you decided to act without telling anyone!"
"There was an attempt on my life. I thought there was a leak in Kaye's organization."
"Two weeks, Steve," Chin stated. "You're telling me in two weeks time you had no opportunity to tell us the truth, to let us know you were alive?"
"While you were dead, did you ever consider what was happening to Five-O?" Danny added.
"Every day, but I trusted that the team I built could handle the situation; I never imagined that the Governor would bring in an outsider." Steve voice starting to show his frustration, the anger directed at him was beginning to take its toll.
Danny started to pace. "You trusted us to handle Five-O but you couldn't bring yourself to trust us with the truth!"
The depth of his men's anger shocked Steve. He had expected his men to be hurt over the deception but he had never expected to find out that faking his own death had almost destroyed everything he had worked so hard to build. Duke's words had told him as much but they hadn't sunk in until he felt anger radiating from his second-in-command.
"Danno," Steve called out softly. "You won't be here if I didn't trust you. I knew the only reason I could fake my death because I could trust you and Chin and Kono to run things in my absence. Even when I tried to contact you and I learned that you were no longer part of Five-O, I believed that you would still be here when I came home. Can I trust that will you still be here tomorrow?"
Danny looked away, unable to answer. For the first time in this conversation, Steve began to fear that the sacrifices he had made to solve this case would cost him Five-O.
Chin stepped forward and looked Steve in the eye. "You did what you thought you had to. We know that. But why must you always go it alone?"
Steve debated several answers but in the end he knew his men deserved the truth. "I don't know, Chin. I do what I feel I must."
Chin nodded as if he had been expecting that answer. Danny was still avoiding Steve's gaze.
Taking advantage of the lull in the conversation, Steve decided it was time to ask the question he should have asked when he first stepped through the door. "Where's Kono?"
"Kauai. He an Assistant Chief of Police there now," Danny replied in a cutting tone that dared Steve to take offense.
"Temporarily?" Steve asked, hoped, prayed.
Danny and Chin exchanged a look. "You'll have to ask Kono," Chin stated.
Kono was gone and the look in his detectives' eyes told Steve that they believed that he wasn't coming back. "What happened?"
"Zar," Danny spat. "When Zar fired me, he called Kono some racist names and he quit."
Chin continued, "The Governor offered him the job on Kauai and he took it."
Steve felt every one of his forty-five years as he sank into a chair. "Oh, God."
Steve's rare display of weakness caught Danny off guard. He had expected Steve to fight back, to yell, to be firm in his defense of his actions. Instead, Steve remained calm and let the pain he was feeling show.
Danny had wanted Steve to give him an excuse to hit him but Danny couldn't be angry at the weary man, burdened with the weight of responsibly and the decisions he had been forced to make.
Danny's desire to scream at the world ended with the honest cry that had escaped Steve's lips.
Moving slowly, Danny eased into the chair next to the man whom he considered a friend and finally spoke the words that were weighing on his heart. "We thought you were dead. We believed that you were dead. What else where we supposed to do?"
In that moment the dam burst and Danny's eyes filled with tears as the detective finally let the anger fade and depth of his pain and his grief show. "You died, Steve."
Steve's eyes met Danny's. "I had no choice."
It was the simple unvarnished truth and Danny was grateful for that. "I know."
Chin sat down in the third chair. "They broke us, Steve. Five-O shattered."
"No," Steve declared. "What I saw on docks was not a broken team, I saw a team that faced impossible odds and still didn't hesitate to do what was right." Steve paused to let his words sink in, before asking, "Are we going to let this case destroy us?"
Chin shook his head no and Danny replied without hesitation, "No, Steve."
As Steve looked at his men he saw that the pain wasn't gone, that the hurt was still there but he was also filled with the knowledge that they could work together to put the pieces back together again.
Several days pased but the healing came slowly. Steve, Danny and Chin worked together to tie up the loose ends of this case but the laughter and the lighthearted fun they usually shared was still missing. Steve told himself that it would only be a matter of time as the team was making conscious efforts to come to terms with all that had happened but that didn't make the process any less painful or difficult.
While Five-O was beginning to move forward there was another relationship that was showing serious signs of damage that couldn't that wouldn't be able to be healed with time. HPD's trust in Five-O remained at an all time low as Steve was just beginning to realize how much harm Zar had done to many of their long term operations. After several meetings with the Governor and Chief Dann, the decision was made to appoint Sergeant Duke Lukela as the official HPD liaison to Five-O. Their hope was that Duke's steady nature and the respect he garnered around the force would be an asset to repairing the strained relationship between two departments.
With Duke now in place, the next task to on Steve's list was the hardest of all.
Staring out at the waters of the Pacific, Steve wished the flight from Honolulu to Lihue was both shorter and longer. Shorter because he feared that he was already too late. Longer because he still had no idea what he would say.
For ten years, Kono had been an integral part of Five-O. The Hawaiian detective had caught Steve's attention with his assistance on bringing, at the time, the biggest drug lord in Honolulu to justice. When an opening had appeared on his team, Steve wasted no time in recruiting the young Hawaiian for he saw the potential within him. Over the years, the two had clashed at times but Kono's loyalty had never wavered. Fiercely passionate and yet gentle, Kono was always willing to get his hands dirty and go that extra mile to solve a case; he lived to protect the land, to see that all people received the justice they deserved. Five-O would be a lesser team without Kono in it.
Never one who was free with praise and affirmation, Steve wished that he had taken more time to tell Kono just how much he meant to Five-O's success. Now, Steve had the opportunity to say the things he should have said before but he couldn't help but worry that it wouldn't be enough.
A single plane descended toward the runway and Kono knew that the time to face the consequence of his choice had come. Steve McGarrett was on that plane and Kono knew why his former boss had come.
Kono had made his decision but, if Steve begged him to return, could he say no?
Time had tempered the anger and hurt and, while Kono still felt those things, he knew in his heart that Steve had acted as he always did: in the way he believed was right. Kono just wished that Steve could learn to trust, to let others take the risk with him.
Perhaps one day Steve would learn. However, that was Danny and Chin's problem now. Kono would be firm; he was done with Five-O.
As Steve stepped onto the tarmac, Kono forced back tears that were threatening to fill his eyes. Here was a man who had taught him so much, who had mentored him and helped shape him into the man he was today. Yes, Steve's decisions had hurt him, had angered him, but nothing Steve could do could ever change that fact that he had believed in him when no one else thought that a young Hawaiian detective from a poor family could ever have the talent and finesse needed to be a member of Five-O. In order to following the calling in his heart, Kono would have to hurt the man who had taught him believe in himself.
So it was with a heavy heart that Kono approached his friend. "Hello, Steve."
Steve smiled and his eyes twinkled as said, "Interesting place you got here."
Kono smiled back. "Wait ta you see da chickens."
"I hope you're not talking about your staff."
Kono laughed and suddenly the tension from the moment subsided as Steve gave him permission to talk about his new life. Gesturing for Steve to follow him, they walked to Kono's car where the Hawaiian drove around the island, using the opportunity to talk about KPD and the island that was being to feel more like home every day.
As Kono showed Steve around, the older detective couldn't help but be impressed at what he saw and heard as the younger man spoke about Kauai, his team, and the land that he saw as his to protect. Steve couldn't miss the change in that had occurred in the Hawaiian. Being out of the big city and into the countryside seemed to invigorate the young detective and the role that he had taken on had empowered him to view himself as a leader.
The more they talked, the more Steve realized that they were really saying goodbye. He couldn't avoid the words he had been holding back any longer. "You're happy here."
"Yes," Kono stated sincerely.
Steve took a deep breath and then spoke some of the hardest words he had ever he to say. "Then you should stay."
Kono didn't bother to hide the shock from his face. "I thought you would argue for me ta come back."
"If you were leaving over anger, I planned to," Steve admitted. "But it isn't anger that's keeping you away from Five-O."
"No," Kono agreed as he looked out over the countryside. "It's da land."
It was time. If Steve failed to speak the words on his heart he would always regret it. Looking into the gentle brown eyes of his friend, Steve said, "Kono, you are a good detective and a better man. You have a passion for justice and a dedication to your work that is a credit to you and to your people. It's been honor to have you serve on my team."
"The honor was mine," Kono replied as a lump formed in his throat. "E pili mau na pomaika'i me 'oe."
May blessings ever be with you. Steve recognized the Hawaiian phrase and held back tears as he looked at a man whom he held in the highest esteem. Once, in anger, Steve had confessed to Kono that he loved all of his team like brothers and now it felt like he was losing a member of his family.
Wrapping one arm around Kono's shoulders, Steve spoke a word that meant so much more than goodbye, "Aloha, Bruddah."
The finality of the moment hit Kono as pulled his former boss into a full hug. "Aloha."
For several moments the two men held one another and shared the love and respect that they held for each other. As the two friends pulled apart they were at peace with their decision to part and filled with hope at the future the other held.
As Jenny looked around the office she found comfort in the fact that things were almost back to normal; at least that's what she could tell herself as long as she didn't look at Kono's empty cubicle.
Five-O had come so close to being destroyed. They had survived but not without paying a high cost. Nothing could ever change the fact that an enemy had succeeded in shattering Five-O into pieces. For things that are broken can sometimes be fixed but when things are shattered they can never be remade completely whole. No matter how hard and long one looked one small sliver will always be missing. Kono was so much more than a sliver and, while Ben Kokua had been hired to fill the empty gap, the team would never again be remade completely whole. Jenny could bemoan this or let it go and hope that the team would make something new. Regardless, one thing was true: Five-O would never be the same.