A/N Thanks everyone for sticking with 'Forgive Me' for ten long chapters. I've loved all the comments!
Your reward is a very long epilogue. Really, it's three fanfics for the price of one!
He tries the handle with his left hand. The Heckler and Koch, is held tight to his chest with his right.
Cautious. He has no idea what's on the other side.
It gives. Not locked. And no noise from rusty hinges.
Doug Warren, then, for all his yakuza background, is careless.
He exhales that held breath.
Good so far.
Though, Steve would have used a shoulder to loosen an unyielding door. Would have used a bullet to the lock if need be.
But stealth gives them the advantage.
The corridor inside is his. Offices attached to a disused warehouse. He knows that Chin and Danny are coming in from the back. Heat sensors show there are three in the building. Warren has no accomplices in this side-line of his – porn and paedophilia.
Steve's wary. Boots tread careful as he steps over the threshold. Silent. Knees slightly bent. Both gloved hands now gripping the submachine gun. Prepared. Aiming for likely trouble. Ready to dive for cover. Focussed. Listening. Checking out further doors ahead. First left. Clear. Then swinging to the right. Clear. The left again. Clear.
Gets his breathing into a rhythm. First time out since back on duty. And it's the controlled breathing that's not easy. Tension. Tight tension through his arms. Down his back.
If they flush Warren out, he's going to come this way. Steve hopes he gets to Kono and the boy, Craig, first - before that confrontation. He also hopes they're not dead already.
He edges forward. To that corner. Inch by inch. Close to the wall. Head held slightly to one side. Always listening.
Muted sound is coming at him. Moaning. Though whether it's female or child, he can't tell. Either way, he shouldn't be hearing it. Bad sign. Means he's close. But means he'll have to deal with injuries. And his head is putting images away. He has to stay focussed.
At the corner, he drops the gun. Makes himself small. Peers round. It's clear. Fire exit straight ahead. Prays Danny and Chin don't come suddenly blundering through.
Two other doors to the right. Both open.
Movement, sound coming from the second. Like crockery being washed. A kitchenette? Then this is where Warren is.
Pushes himself off to the opposing wall, quickly raising the gun again. He's perspiring under naked lamps overhead. The corridor is narrow, confined. His breathing just isn't right. His flak jacket scrapes at the wall as he moves forward again. Too much noise.
Reaches door one. Opens inwards. Door hinged to the left. Will obscure left-hand side of the room. Checks for occupants by edging round the door-jamb.
Mind tells him to move on. He has to immobilise Warren before he can see to Kono and the boy.
But eyes tell him he's not believing this.
The boy is chained to the wall. Has been beaten. Badly. And hangs slumped, unconscious.
Pierson hangs him by his wrists to a tree. Pierson yells at him. 'Give me the name, McGarrett!' Beats him. Won't stop. God, he won't stop. The pain goes on and on.
Alana tells him he'll have flashbacks. Breathing controls the subsequent panic attack. She's given him exercises. Breathing ought to control it but it's not. It's damn well not. He can't control his breathing. His short hitching breaths alone will alert Warren if he doesn't watch out.
At the bottom edge of the door, he sees Kono's feet, bound by slip ties. She's not moving there on the floor.
He can hear Warren busy next door. Steve shouldn't be doing this. Shouldn't be wasting his time. But he has to look. And he eases himself, slow, further into the room, to take in the area beyond the door. Breathing is short and fast. Heart drumming quick and fast. Hands hot and sticky on the gun. He can't push away those memories of Pierson.
Kono lies on soiled carpet. Hands tied behind her back. Eyes closed. Her face, cut and bleeding.
Glimpse of black security grid over the opaque glass of the window. No escape. Walls that close in on him.
This room is his cage. Green green forest cut into squares by the mesh. Manacles that make his wrists bleed. A victim like the others. Easton. Pereira.
And he moves fast.
Isn't thinking. Heart thumping loud at his temple.
Doesn't care about cover, personal safety. Doesn't care to say he's Hawaii Five-O.
And Warren is making for the fire exit, and Warren swings round, and suddenly Steve's facing Warren holding a raised gun at his chest.
It's Pierson. Pierson come to get him.
And Steve smashes the gun from his hand with an upwards thrust of the muzzle of the H. and K.
The crack of bone and metal. Cry of pain. His own yell.
And down comes the stock that he drives into the man's face.
Clubs the man. Anywhere. One. Two. Three. Satisfaction as metal makes contact with flesh. The man is going down. Tries to grapple with Steve. But he's defenceless in this onslaught. Strength. Brute force.
Steve has it all. Anger and strength. Merciless.
Blood and groaning, and the man's on the floor. Steve savagely pushes aside the man's flailing arms, his attempt to protect himself. And he drops to his knees, still pounding Warren.
Blind fury. Fists. Gun. It doesn't matter.
It's not Warren. It's Pierson.
It doesn't matter as long as he can lash out. As long as he can destroy something inside of himself. He's trembling, breathless, but he still has this strength.
It's Pierson's face, body that's receiving this punishment. Just. Justice. Right and wrong. Vindication.
And hands are pulling at his own, wrestling to prise the gun from his fingers. He shoves them away, still hitting without seeing.
"Don't, Steve, don't." A soft voice, pleading. "Come on, Steve, come on, you don't want to be doing this."
"Leave me be!" he growls, but he's nearly done. Energy drains from him. A couple more blows and a firmer voice, "enough, Steve!"
And arms wrap round his shoulders, and pull him away and up to his feet. And Chin is pushing him, pinning him against the wall with arm and elbow.
Chest heaving, panting. The sound of his heart pumping loud in his head.
He's stares at the crumpled body. At the mess that is Warren's face and head. Blood pools beneath matted hair. Danny's kneeling at his side, feeling for a pulse, and he's phoning for paramedics.
"Get to Kono. Craig. Next door," Steve gasps out. "They're the ones that need help."
Steve struggles against Chin's hold. He wants to go. He wants to run. He needs to escape. And Danny's pointing at him. "You, you stay still and quiet! While we decide what to do!" And he's off to the other room with Chin releasing Steve and following him.
And Steve's left alone with Warren.
Trembling. Knees weak. Whole body wet with perspiration that now makes him feel cold. So cold. And he can't trust himself to move from that spot and help Chin and Danny.
He lets his gun thud to the floor. Numb. And leans back against the wall, looking up to the bare light bulb. He squeezes his eyes tight shut. Gulps back the nausea. Hates this corridor and its feel of claustrophobia.
He so longs for someone to tell him everything is going to be ok again.
Time. Give yourself time, says Alana.
Voices come to him from the other room. Danny phoning for additional assistance. Chin is trying to coax Kono to waking. He hears Kono murmur some kind of reply.
The utter relief of that.
And then Chin says, "we'll have to say it was self-defence. But who's going to believe that..."
Even Steve can't be sure.
'You might get flashbacks for a while,' says Alana. 'They'll spring up on you when you least expect them.'
But they'd petered out. And nothing had ever been like this. She'd said he was good to return to work.
He so longs for someone to tell him everything is going to be ok again.
The poor kid, Craig...
And he hears Danny saying the same thing...
He opens his eyes and moves down the corridor. Unsteady on his feet. Stumbling. Leaning one shoulder against the wall, swallowing hard before moving on. Past the room where his Team are.
Danny is quickly at the door. Calling after him. "Where do you think you're going?"
He doesn't reply. He really has no idea.
"Before you go getting all guilty again, the bastard deserved it!"
"Why are you even here, Williams? This isn't your department."
And Danny's trying to head Hamakua off, by walking in front of him, backwards, dancing on his toes like some boxer – and quickly isn't exactly easy. So he reverts to walking alongside his fellow detective.
"Excuse me? In case, you haven't noticed? The building you are now approaching? One home of Lt. Commander Steve McGarrett? Head of Hawaii- Five-O? What makes you think it'd be none of my-" and he points to himself – "our business?" and he waves an arm back to Kono, still over by her car, trying to phone, to warn Steve. And to Chin, trailing behind, with half a dozen other HPD and Narcotics guys.
With their dog.
Hamakua stops. As does the whole entourage. Though it confuses the dog, till it's told to sit.
"You shouldn't even know we're here. Internal Affairs said you weren't to be told. They said you'd try to interfere."
And IA, in all their astuteness would be right.
"IA are en route, by the way," adds Hamakua as he tries to walk on, waving his men to continue, some of whom have been detailed to go round to the beach entrance. Steve so does not want this at the moment.
So Danny's resolute and now firmly stands in front again and won't budge any of his tough, stocky 5' 5''.
"Yes, we are here, because we're funny like that. I don't know about Narcotics, or those dear folks at IA, but us at Hawaii-Five-O, well, we have this ohana thing going-"
"You know McGarrett. You can't honestly believe that Steve would do this?" asks Chin.
"We have a warrant, Williams, Kelly. We're just doing our job. Five other police officers are also having their homes searched. All six were the only ones in that warehouse when the stash went missing and McGarrett hasn't exactly got a clean record as far as heroin is concerned now has he?"
And that has the affect of shutting Danny up. And he would be the first to admit that it takes some doing. He allows Hamakua and his troops to walk on by.
And Kono tags along on the end, shaking her head as she passes Danny and Chin - she still hasn't been able to make contact with Steve. Which wasn't so out of the ordinary these days... Though Steve's truck is parked up in the drive so unless he's gone off in the Marquis, he should be in the house.
"Where... what are you doing?" Danny asks her. Voice strained.
"Well," she stops, hesitating, unsure, eyes checking out both Chin and Danny. "Hamakua didn't exactly say we couldn't go in too."
"No, no, he didn't, did he?" says Chin grimly and he moves off towards the door. Danny and Kono follow.
Inside, the living area is already a mess. Doors and cupboards are being thrown open by the various uniforms. Sofa cushions are everywhere. The dog with a wonderful wagging tail, as if it truly gets a high out its work, is sniffing around in the kitchen.
Steve, dressed in jog pants and wife-beater, stands lost in the centre of it all, watching helplessly as the contents of another cupboard is sent sprawling to the floor.
His arms hang loose at his sides. The warrant is screwed up in one hand. He looks awful. Dark shadows round his eyes. Like he'd slept in late and had thrown on the first thing he'd come to. Danny suspects that in the two months since Pierson, the nightmares haven't left him.
'Time, he needs time. Give him time, Danny,' Dr. Mahelona had said.
But... if Steve had a habit, looking at him now, you wouldn't disbelieve it.
"Steve, we couldn't stop them," apologizes Chin.
"Why..." Steve swallows hard, unable to comprehend. His eyes like – well, this must be a nightmare too. "Why are they... the dog's not finding anything," he says more resolute. But only just. "The dog won't find anything."
"Yeah, why are you doing this, Hamakua?" joins in Danny. "I hope you guys are going to clear up after? No way to treat an innocent man, now, is it?"
"Procedure," growls Hamakua, rifling through Steve's cutlery drawer and then stooping, checking underneath.
"Don't think you'll find eighty kilos taped there, somehow," murmurs Kono, beautiful and sarcastic, glancing over the rest of Steve's house.
The dog-handler with dog is now heading for the stairs. Steve gazes after them. The bottom has just fallen out his world. Again.
"I can... am I allowed to go with them?" he asks as Hamakua passes by to follow. As if being invaded by HPD is a completely new thing to him. He does this stuff all the time.
"Sure," relents Hamakua. The man has some common decency then.
Danny goes too. As does Chin and Kono. Hamakua doesn't object though this is just too many people cluttering up a possible crime scene. But it won't come to that. No way. No way.
The bathroom nothing. A guest room nothing.
"You see, Hamakua? Waste of police time and tax-payers money," says Danny leaning on the door jamb as the dog and handler do the rounds of Steve's own room.
Bed not made. Sheets still twisted. So not Navy ship-shape. And Danny's theory looks correct that Steve had had a rough night.
And Steve's face – this is very much intrusion of personal privacy on a grand scale.
Danny nods to Kono and Chin to keep back out on the landing and they understand perfectly.
Danny turn back and there's Steve wincing, body tense as hell, as the dog jumps on Steve's bed, rootling in among those sheets.
Then the beastie is at the bedside cabinet – and – whines. Paws at the bottom drawer.
Is the guy crazy? Drugs in his bedroom? Steve had became addicted after all? And Danny could throw a hissy fit. Not the time and place, however.
And the effect on Steve is electric. Desperate, scanning the window, like he's about to throw himself out.
Scared. Scared is not a good Steve look.
"Ok, ok, that's enough already," and Danny is across the room, placing himself between the cabinet and the dog, pushing the animal firmly away with his legs. "As Officer Kalakaua said, there's no way are you going to find eighty kilos of smack in such a small wee cupboard, my wolfie friend."
"Williams," warns Hamakua. "I suggest you go downstairs. Or even better, go outside and leave. I don't want to have to arrest you too."
"Well, if you don't want to, then you don't have to," Danny responds, still pushing the mutt away with a few insistent pushes with his knees. The dog-handler's at a loss what to do next.
"I should take him to the vet's." And Danny's pointing to his own nose. "Has something wrong with his sense of smell. Distemper. Fleas or something."
"Williams!" warns Hamakua, again.
And there's Steve, still standing by the bed, staring at the cabinet. At the dog. Still horrified by how this might turn out.
"Look, Hamakua. How about you go downstairs and outside. And get into your car and drive all the way back to HQ?"
"You want me to turn a blind eye?"
"You're not going to find eighty kilos of heroin here. Haven't we already established that? If the Commander has taken it, don't you think he would have found somewhere else to stash it anyhow, huh? And not in his own home? Please give the man some intelligence!"
Hamakua nods over to the cabinet.
"Even a few ounces. For personal use. Is enough to bust him."
"Hammy, Hammy, Hammy," and he really hopes this is his pet name, "some slack here, please! You know McGarrett! The man would go through hell to save your butt. Doesn't that mean anything to you?"
"The same can be said for those other officers."
"No. No. It can't. This is McGarrett. Incorruptible."
Hamakua and the dog-handler glance at one another. They know it's true. They're also thinking about Steve's time with Pierson.
The poor dog's going nuts meanwhile and is scrapping, no scratching Danny's newest bestest shoes.
"If there's any wrong doing here, let Hawaii-Five-O sort it. Let's keep it in house, huh?" Danny presses. "We'll bring him in ourselves if need be. Trust me."
Hamakua nods. "Think you can overlook this?" he asks the dog handler.
The dog-handler nods back, pursing his lips. He's not exactly happy. "I'll go and check the garage and we can be out of here." He pulls the dog after him, and both he and Hamakua push past Chin and Kono, looking very worried at the door.
And Danny's instantly down to the bottom drawer and pulls out the small bag of white powder.
And Danny can't hold onto his pent-up emotion any longer.
"Are you insane?" he tries not to scream out - it's doubtful HPD are out of earshot.
Steve's eyes open wide. He's still scared. He looks over to Chin and Kono, who have edged into the room. He's scared of his own damn Team?
"It's not mine," he pleads. "It was Mary's. She was stressed out when she was staying here. I meant to..." he fades off.
"Well, now, that's a new excuse. Never heard that one before. 'It's not mine. It's someone else's. I was just holding it for them,'" mimics Danny.
"You... you don't believe me?"And Steve's again looking from one to the other.
"Even found with this stuff, you'd lose your badge. Go to jail," says Chin sadly. "Hamakua could have sent you for blood tests."
"Then you don't believe me?" Steve swings round to face the window wiping a hand across his mouth. He's perspiring. And Danny's knows these are all the hall marks of a liar. But he wants so much to believe Steve.
"But why hold onto it?" he asks, just so incredulous that Steve could be so stupid. "Mary wasn't about to come back for it any time soon? Look, follow me! Come, come!" and he's beckoning Steve, like a child, through to the bathroom. And Steve slowly follows, past Chin and Kono, stopping at the door, while Danny, lifts the toilet seat and pours out the powder, flushing the contents and the bag away.
"See, this. This is what we, non-crazy people do with illegal substances that have been left on our premises so as not to incriminate ourselves! What were you thinking!"
"You don't believe me," says Steve again numbly. He's hurting. Bad. And that makes Danny hurt bad too. Danny sighs and sits on the edge of the bath-tub.
"You don't talk to us, Steve," says Chin from behind on the landing. "You're just not talking to us. How are we supposed to know how or what you're thinking? What you're going through? We can guess. We had to guess over Warren. But we're not mind –readers. We're here to help but you won't... share with us."
Steve's leaning against the door-post. Closes his eyes. A hitching noise in his throat.
"You know all there is to know about... me and Pierson," he says. And even saying that didn't look easy.
"Yes, we did," agrees Danny. "So that must put us in a position to understand, don't you think? So what was it? You kept the smack just to prove you could resist it? See? I'm guessing here? But I'm not knowing."
"You want talk? Then you don't understand," Steve suddenly says, throwing open his eyes. "If you want to talk, there's beers downstairs in the fridge. I just want to forget. I'm going for a swim." And he shoves off the post and pushes past Kono and Chin to his room, shutting the door.
They're watching him. Faces all turned his way. And he looks to the door. But Alana said he could do this. He looks down to his hands hidden by the wooden front of the witness box. He controls their shaking with steady breathing. He should not be like this after all this time.
'There are drugs I could prescribe,' she suggests.
But he won't take them. He's not exactly depressed. Though the guilt never leaves him. He just has this constant fear of panic attacks. The claustrophobia. When he feels exposed. Vulnerable. Like now.
"So tell me, Commander McGarrett, in your opinion, would you say you used reasonable force when arresting my client, Doug Warren?"
"Objection! Can we please stick to facts? The question is for the court to decide."
"How many times did you strike Doug Warren?"
They've agreed a figure. Danny told him to say six. Called to the stand, each one of them has said six. But it's a lie and he's under oath.
"Commander? An estimation will suffice."
"Well, that figure tallies with other members of your task force," says the prosecuting attorney, Bryson drily. "Of course, numbers don't really matter here. You left my client with a fractured wrist, jaw and skull and in need of forty five stitches to his face and scalp. Though, a question on numbers... since the Hawaii-Five-O task force was established, how many people have you arrested with similar injuries?"
"I can't... we've arrested- I haven't access-" He stammers. Flustered.
Alana said he could do this. He has to control his breathing and he can do this.
"Don't know? Total arrests have reached a very creditable figure of eighty-six. I'm sure the tax-payers are more than happy with that." There's a titter from the press section of the court-room. "It's injuries, I'm interested in. Still don't know?"
None. The answer is none. Only Doug Warren.
"For the benefit of the court, I'll list them on your behalf." He consults notes. "You or your colleagues have shot dead fifteen – you personally, ten of those. A further sixteen have received one or more gunshot wounds. Twenty three, bruising and cuts. One, a fractured ankle. But not one has ever been incapacitated to the same degree as Doug Warren."
"I didn't kill him," he blurts out.
"No. By pure luck, you did not."
"I was too close to use my gun. If I'd discharged my firearm, I would certainly have killed him due to the close proximity."
"Commander McGarrett," says the judge, leaning forward across his desk. "Please refrain from speaking in court except to answer counsel's questions."
"And you address me as your Honour."
He nods. He's been told that. Forgotten. 'Sir' comes so automatic. And automatic mode is what gets him through life lately.
"Commander?" asks Bryson. "The rank of Commander comes from your days as a Navy Seal?"
"You are trained, given the knowledge on how to subdue a man without using a firearm? Even rendering him unconscious if need be?"
This is going to condemn him.
"With one blow?"
He can't answer, this is going to condemn him. He glances over to his Team. Danny buries his hands in his face. Chin's tight-faced. Kono chews a lip and looks to her feet. They've all had their turn as witnesses. Lawyers assured him, that 'full means and immunity' meant this would never come to court. That Hawaii-5-O would never face a police brutality charge. Somehow, the legal process went through unhindered. Jameson was powerless. A bribe somewhere? Wo Fat?
"Commander? With one blow?"
"Am I permitted to ask why you didn't do this in the case of Doug Warren?"
"I... I couldn't."
"He perhaps wouldn't stay still long enough for you? That's ok, Commander. You don't have to answer that question. I'd like you to answer this one, however. Would you say, that in order to kill or injure a man, you'd have to feel a certain degree of anger?"
"Objection! Counsellor is again asking for an opinion."
" Commander McGarrett? Some nine weeks ago, you were admitted to Queen's Medical Centre with severe injuries yourself, were you not?"
"Objection. I can't see how Commander McGarrett's own previous medical condition has any relevance with this case," says their defence attorney.
"If you'd be patient I'm trying to ascertain state of mind, your Honour."
His stomach lurches. He's breathing faster. Tense. More than ever. He hadn't been warned they'd go for his state of mind. His Seal background, the fact that he knows how to kill a man, yes. But not this. He looks to the door. He needs someone to tell him everything's going to be ok.
"Over-ruled. You may answer, Commander."
He says nothing.
State of mind. He can see where this is leading. He looks to his Team, trying his damn hardest to remain impassive when inside he's desperate to run for that door. And Danny shakes his head – they're powerless to help. And suddenly... here in this court room... A new guilt. He's shut them out when they've tried to understand. Do understand. He's let them down. Lack of trust that they're helping him.
Catherine. Her body alongside his. Playing with his hair. His ear. 'You'll be ok, Steve. You'll be ok.'
But she's gone now.
"Commander? You are obliged to answer?"
He can do this. Alana said he can do this.
"A simple yes or no will suffice."
"Your injuries were the result of prolonged torture carried out over the course of nineteen days?"
He hesitates again. The question is so black and white, the images in his head, aren't. They come at him again unwelcome. The green green of the forest. The blue of the sky. Freedom of the hawk flying. Freedom from pain, from guilt wasn't his. He can't ever forget.
'It's normal to feel guilt. It's normal to feel anger,' says Alana.
"I imagine you have, or rather had, no great regard for..." and he consults his notes again, "Matthew Pierson? Did you feel anger towards Pierson, the man who tortured you?"
He answers anyhow.
"You don't have to answer that," says his Honour.
"No. I did not feel anger." He hopes he can convince the court. Though he knows it was anger that made him want to kill Warren. He hopes he doesn't have to explain himself over Pierson. That he felt guilt. Not anger.
They're watching him. Watching him for his every reaction. He doesn't want to explain this stuff.
"What about now? Pierson took his own life. How do you feel about Pierson now that time has passed?"
"Objection." The defence is working hard for him.
He can't reply. He doesn't know. He damn well doesn't know. Then it's anger. Anger that Pierson held him captive. Threatened Danny and Catherine. Killed Pereira and Easton.
"Commander? You are still under oath."
"I... pity him. He's was unstable. He couldn't help himself. That's how I felt back then. That's how I feel about him now. "
"Well, that's very commendable of you, I'm sure. That you could control your emotions like that. Your honour, I like to present to the court, a detailed study of a psychologist, Dr. Leo Roberts, covering the condition of Post Traumatic Stress," and the clerk comes forward and present s it to the judge. "I've highlighted an area of particular interest, on page forty-three, that outlines the phenomena of some delayed reactions in these cases."
"And you have a point here, Counsellor?"
"Dr. Leo Roberts, who I might add is highly acclaimed in this field, has put forward the hypothesis, backed up by several case studies, that those subjected to violence, who initially do not experience anger towards their attacker, are prone to do so at a later date, and this is likely to be anger set off by the slightest trigger, some memory. This delayed pent-up anger can be violent in nature and is often targeted at an innocent third party, with no connection whatsoever to the attacker. I'm putting it to the court, that Commander McGarrett did not feel anger towards Matt Pierson, but at a later date, gave into this latent anger, exhibiting uncontrollable rage towards Doug Warren. I'm putting it to the court that he did use unreasonable force to arrest my client."
Steve freezes. Holds his breath. This is exactly what Alana had explained to him. He looks to his team again. Pain. Hurt. They know it's all true too. They've known it along. He's seen it in their eyes.
Pity in their eyes. He's never wanted their pity. But now he's needs it so much. He's needs someone to tell him everything's going to be ok.
"Objection! Supposition on the part of the prosecution!"
"Sustained. You're going to need something more substantial than this, Counsellor."
"I'm getting there. A second document, the work of one Dr. Alana Mahelona."
More papers get to the judge's desk.
"Case notes?" The judge raises his eyebrows.
It's noisy as both counsellors speak at once.
"Objection! Inadmissible evidence! Defence has not been notified that these were to be submitted to court!"
"Case notes that clearly state that Commander McGarrett does suffer from delayed and transferred anger issues!"
They tell him that even if a question is sustained, it's still left in the minds of the court...
There's a brief silence as the judge flicks through the papers. Steve swallows hard. They're watching him. They're watching him. They're going to know everything. Everything that's held private. Inner most thoughts. His feelings of guilt. The way he begged Pierson to forgive him.
"Those... those sessions with Alana... were confidential," he says hoarsely.
The judge nods over to him. Agreeing with him. Addresses the court.
"I'm adjourning to consider the legality of this. Both counsellors meet me in my office."
"The court will rise!"
And Steve is leaving the stand. Noise. Loud conversation. The scraping of chairs. And Steve is running from the stand. Press of people. Can't breathe. Can't hardly see. Confusion.
"Steve! Don't! Wait up!"
Across the room, Danny, Chin and Kono are pushing through the crush of spectators, all leaving too.
A reporter tries to ask him questions. He shoves past. Faces. Faces. Giddiness. Buzz in his ears. The door...
But he's running. Running. He's even running from his Team.
The wind ruffles his hair.
This is good. So good.
The horizon stretches for all eternity, losing itself in an infinity where blue ocean meets blue sky. Below, is a cliff drop of some five hundred feet. Below is the green green of the forest. The strong breeze teases uppermost leaves of tree-tops like white crests of waves rippling across the surface of the sea.
There's a rhythm here and he's soon into that rhythm, letting it soothe him. Lets the fresh air clear his lungs, his mind. Alana has given him lessons on how to relax, to meditate. He understands how, but it seldom gets him to where he wants to be... free.
But here... things are different.
Nine weeks has been too long to keep away from Ka'a'awa Valley where his father brought him as a boy. But over the next two ridges, is where Pierson set up his camp.
He needs someone to tell him everything's going to be ok...
The warmth of Catherine close to skin... the wrap of untidy sheets... the smell of her, nestling into the curve of his body. She'd traced a finger over his scars. 'It'll be ok.' But he'd wept like a child. The shame of that. 'It'll be ok,' she'd reassured him. And she'd held him so tight. A week. And she'd listened. And he never wanted her to leave.
But he knew it was wrong of him to expect her to take his burden.
...Alana, in her neat white office. Wants to know how the week went. He doesn't like to tell her.
'It's good you're talking to someone besides me. But still not to your Team?'
He shakes his head. He plays with his fingers, leaning forward, elbows resting on his knees. She's told him in earlier sessions that he should lean back and relax. That this posture is one of readiness for flight. Or... to hold himself in - when he should be ready to open up.
'Why is that do you suppose?' she asks.
'They know all there is to know. They must know I went through hell. What can I add?'
'You feel ashamed? That you showed physical weakness? Vulnerabilty?'
'You know, I'm going to have to accept that as a 'yes',' she says.
They discuss his feelings of guilt over Pierson. Feelings that won't go away. Even though Pierson killed two other men. He explains that as a commanding officer he was responsible for those serving under him.
'From what I understand, you had no option but to get your men out of there. You had to accept Luke Pierson's word.'
They talk at length about his mother's death. How as a sixteen year old boy, he'd been taken to the hospital. His mother hadn't died immediately. Ten minutes after arriving in ER. He, his father and Mary had paid their last respects. They would never see her again. His mother lay peaceful and quiet. A sheet covering her injuries. Dressings on one side of her head with just a spot of blood leaking though. Not breathing. And they'd been nothing he could do to bring her to life again.
And he's been feeling guilty ever since, says Alana.
'Sounds like shrink talk and you'll have bear with me, I have loads more coming,' she smiles
And he half-smiles back.
'I've known you for a month now, Steve. Summing you up, I'd say you were reserved with others until they prove themselves worthy of your friendship, and then they're rewarded with utmost dedication and loyalty. The same is true of your work. Dedicated and loyal, throwing yourself into a task with one hundred percent commitment. They're both coping mechanisms, Steve, to deal with the guilt and the hurt from that trauma of your mother's death. And more recently, your father's too. You've been hurt by life and therefore, though you long to trust people, you find it difficult to do so. You might get hurt again. Your father sent you away. You had to be self-reliant emotionally at too early an age. And that self-reliance, independence, means that strong friendships are again difficult to form. But if you do bond this way, you still wish to maintain this self-reliance within the friendship. It's why you're finding it difficult to open up to your colleagues. Throwing yourself into your work is a way to forget. Seeking perfection in everything that you do is a way to block out the guilt of that time when you perceived yourself as weak. And we're getting a repeat of that over Pierson. You could never bring your mother back, Steve. Neither can you be held responsible for Pierson. The only way you're going to drive away the guilt is to... forgive... yourself. You have to learn to accept there are things in life you can't always change. It's ok to be weak and human. Imperfect.'
He shivers. The breeze is freshening off the sea though it's miles away, and clouds are forming fast. A shower already darkens the sky to the south over Honolulu, throwing up a full rainbow at its edges. He'd better head back. He'd changed after leaving the courtroom and only wears a T and cargos.
He looks up as suddenly, as directly high overhead, a bird in flight shrieks a warning into the wind. He holds a hand to his eyes, following the way it swoops and dives and then glides. He can't tell... maybe a hawk...
And... looking away... glimpses of clothing, flashes of brightness through the undergrowth.
He's not going to be alone for much longer.
He waits, looking out to the ocean, as Danny climbs the last piece of pathway, breathless.
"You just do not do this!"
He could joke and pretend that he thinks Danny is talking about climbing mountains but he knows exactly what Danny is really talking about.
"How did you find me?" Composed. In control again.
"How did you find me?" He says again, not taking his eyes off the distant sea.
"Oh, Mr. Inscrutable. You think you're a closed book? You think I don't know where you'd head out to at a time like this? You think I don't know you that well? You think I wouldn't even care to know? Well, that's an insult. But..." Danny holds up his hand in mock protest. "But that's ok, I understand that you don't understand the finer points of being a friend, that you are 'Understandingly Challenged."
"I've never thought that. I've never given you cause to think that," says Steve, facing Danny.
Danny throws him an incredulous look.
And Steve turns his head towards the east, feeling the chill of the sea wind.
"I'm not about to throw myself over a cliff top, Danny," he says. He's seen the look in Danny's eyes, however much Danny tries to cover. Danny's fear.
"No, but you've just committed professional suicide and resigned?"
"You don't understand-"
"There you go again with this understanding thing again!" And Danny throws up his arms. Exasperated. A second or two and he simmers down. Hands go in his pockets – he's still in his day pants and shirt, though the tie has gone - and he stands beside Steve but he's not looking at the view.
"You don't talk to us, Steve," he says. Quiet.
"What... what do you want to talk about? You already know everything that went on with Pierson."
"Oh. Oh." And Danny draws back with mock surprise. "So now it speaks! What is it with you? You only hold meaningful conversations on mountain tops? Let me assure you, they go a whole lot easier on a flat horizontal surface!"
Danny sighs and scrubs a hand over his face.
"I know, I know we kinda blew it big time when we doubted you over the heroin, but who could blame us? Look, until today, we didn't even know you'd been seeing Dr. Mahelona? Why the big secret, huh? It's like you're on a freaking commando raid or something!"
"I let him down," Steve blurts out.
This time Danny looks at him with real surprise.
"Pierson? Sure." And Danny shrugs and pulls a face. "This Navy Seal thing - you never leave a man behind... Has the Navy blamed you for anything? They looked into this, right? And only the other day, totally exonerated you from any ill doing? Wasn't the brother totally to blame? Isn't he the one being arrested for possible homicide? Didn't Pierson punish you enough without you having to punish you too? Pierson isn't here to accept your apology. He's never going to be here to forgive you." Danny comes round to Steve's front and positions himself between Steve and the cliff edge. "When is this ever going to end? You can't keep running away. So this resignation thing is you hitting you?" And he punctuates both 'you's' by jabbing at Steve's chest. "Dr. Shrink Williams, here!" This time, he points to his own chest. Both hands. Expansively. "Hey, hey. I forgive you." And uses both hands to point at Steve again. "Will that do?" And those hands are waving about. "Kono forgives you. Chin forgives you. There isn't even a case to answer in the first place!"
Steve looks away. A lot of this stuff has gone over in his mind a million times.
Danny calms down a notch and moves over to Steve's right, kicking at a stone. "You've shut us out. What is that if it's not leaving men behind? You paid back with interest with Pierson. You keep forgetting. We found you, Steve. We know how much you paid. That torture..." and he shakes his head. "No, I'll never be able to understand that. Never be able to know what it felt like to live through that."
And Steve hopes he hides his flinch at the word 'torture.'
"But I try to understand. And I know you have this code of honour thing. I know it's strong, here, with you," and he thumps his heart, "but you resign, what are you leaving behind then, Steve? This Warren thing is just a blip. We'll get over it. That attorney for the prosecution? Bryson? He made a mistake big time, bringing in Dr. Mahelona's notes? The case is going to be thrown out. And Judge Packard is none too pleased that Bryson is a drinking buddy of Jameson's opponents."
Danny comes back to his side. Looks out over the forest.
"I became a cop, Steve, to put wrongs, right. Thought I could play a hero and do that."
"I thought you said it was down to some hot chick, Penelope?"
"Oh, Penny. Oh yes, she of, "and he makes an hourglass shape with his hands. "Well, yes, that did have some contributory factor in my formative career decision making. Remember, I was very fresh out of high school and of an extremely impressionable mind."
"Innocent? You?" And Steve can't help a half smile.
"Yes. Don't jest. I was innocent once upon a time. That aside. I did have these higher ideals – and you know, Steve... we don't have much in common... your taste in cars, pizzas, shirts is highly questionable... but I thought we had this one thing in common - to put wrongs, right. And I didn't ever think you'd ever want to give that up. I know you're into sacrifices, but it's not really the sort of sacrifice you should be making, Steve. To give up on that."
"I'm just ... not proud... of what I did. To Warren. To Pierson."
"You were a rookie commander. You made a mistake. It's in the past. Fact. Detail. Move on. Move out. Whatever it is you Navy Seals say. 'Throw the next problem at me. I'm ready'. "
Steve smirks. "You should have been in the Seals. Morale."
"Oh, but I don't like to swim, remember? And neither do I have a penchant for the tattoos."
"What's wrong with tattoos?"
"Like you have to prove something? How macho you are?"
"Like the way you joined the police force to impress Penelope?"
The hawk suddenly drops from the sky, hunting prey on the forest floor.
"Hey, a hawk!" says Danny, holding up his hands to shield his eyes as he watches the bird now ascending high into the blue. Steve follows suit.
"You know what a hawk looks like? I didn't realise you were into Hawaiian flora and fauna."
"We saw one... where... when... we found you." He's evasive, skirting round actually mentioning that day at the camp-site.
"You can say Danny. I'm not going to break. Sometimes... a little claustrophobic, yeah." He shrugs. "Alana says I'm on the mend. Time, you know," and he shrugs. But all the things he's feeling will never leave him. The intensity will go, sure. Scars always fade...
His eyes fix on the hawk again. It's flying so close now, he can make out the detail of the markings of its feathers... beak... talons... Detail.
The detail of the vein of a leaf, the mesh of the cage, a droplet of water. And he sees these things again... Detail. Always looking for escape. A way out. A plan. But detail of memory lets in the pain again. His mother. His father. He can't ever run from his thoughts.
"But... back then. You saw the hawk too, Danny? Honest, I thought I was hallucinating. I thought it was my father talking to me. Hey, I even thought it was my father watching out for me. How crazy is that?" He thinks Danny will laugh at him. That it's a mistake to confess this much and give this man extra fuel to laugh and jibe.
But Danny pulls a face, considering. "On a scale of one to ten? Then it's a firm eight. But you were drugged." And he's squinting back away from Steve, unable to meet his eye, as if he too has something painful to admit.
"Your father, huh?... I don't believe in all this stuff... if it keeps people happy, that's their affair... problem... but," and his voice sounds like it's choking and goes soft, almost silent. "I don't think we would have found you if it weren't for that hawk ... watching out for... you."
The hawk swoops again.
Ghosts that tell him to live.
Detail. Danny is here at his side because he wants to be. Because he has a reason to be. There. He's been there for nine weeks. And his Team too. More if you include the search. Concrete. Firm. Unquestionable detail.
Danny coughs. "Coincidence. That it hovered right over you, like it'd tracked you down."
"What? Oh yes... coincidence, huh. "
"Because stuff like that does not happen. Not in real life."
"But... if it were your father, he should be giving you a good verbal spanking by now and convincing you go back to the Governor and asking her to ignore the resignation."
"She didn't accept it," he says. "I'm still officially your boss. She told me to go away and reconsider. How did you find out anyhow?"
"It's good," and Steve nods, shoving hands into his cargo pockets, feeling so easy with this conversation. It's been too too long.
"Yeah, it's good," agrees Danny, mirroring him, shoving his hands into his pants.
There's a pause while they both survey the distant horizon.
"So..." and Danny releases a hand from one pocket, waving it in complaint. "You let me pour my heart out and say stuff that I wouldn't ordinarily say? Even about... spirit hawks?"
"That's about the drift of it," says Steve, kicking at dust with the toe of a trainer, nonchalant, stifling a smile.
There's another pause.
"So... your resignation? Thought about it yet?"
"Yeah." And Steve turns abruptly. "Let's go catch bad guys."