Well, friends here is the epilogue. I cannot thank you enough for all the kind reviews and pep talks I have received about this story. Your kind words mean more than you can know. And once again, I have to thank my wonderful beta readers for being so patient with numerous (and I DO mean numerous) rewrites. I have four betas who I feel have become wonderful friends and who I could not... and would not... do this without. Sockie1000, Rogue Tomato, Sym64 and Sherry57 have read and re-read, changed, tweaked, read again and given their blessings for this story. They are the best! And the most patient. :)
So... until the next time... I hope you enjoy the ending. Mahalo.
Chapter 16 Epilogue
Steve took off his suit jacket and laid it across his arm as he soaked in the sun's afternoon rays. It had rained that morning while they had been in court and now steam was rising off the asphalt, the grass was still damp and droplets of water was evaporating from the leaves.
He breathed in, the salt in the air tingling his nose. He exhaled with a sigh of relief.
The case was over. The trial was finished and this one could be filed away.
On Tuesday, they all had testified in the trial of Avery Makai. He, along with several members of his gang, received anywhere from 20 to 40 years in prison; Makai receiving the maximum. Today, the team had reconvened in court to give testimony against Avery's nephew, Romeo, his friend, Seth Meyers and their two accomplices. Each of the four men received 15 years, with possibility of parole. Personally, Steve would have tacked on another 20 for stupidity, but the judge was more lenient than he was.
But the judge hadn't been the recipient of a broken cheekbone.
The judge also wasn't on the receiving end of Dr. Palakiko's rather scathing tirade about disregarding her orders. Although after plying her with plenty of pizza and Diet Coke, she had become more understanding.
McGarrett flexed his leg which still ached unmercifully, although he would emphatically deny that fact if anyone asked. He had seen Dr. Palakiko again yesterday and she had grudgingly given him the OK to drive. He knew that she knew he would drive anyway, so she decided to sign off on it. That was just one more step on his road to independence. She had also given the OK for him to return to work next Monday. Desk duty only for a week, or until she deemed otherwise, but at least that would be better than staying home. There's only so much of sitting on the lanai that even he could take.
After he left the hospital, it was a week before his team allowed him to spend the night alone in his own house. Finally he managed to convince them he was a big boy who could take care of himself. But even that wasn't easy.
The first night he was alone, Danny had actually called at 2200 to make sure he had taken his meds and ask if he was in bed. Steve had hung up the phone without saying a word.
Danny got the message the following morning when Steve called him at 0600. Just to make sure he was doing OK.
Danny had called him names that Steve had previously only heard on a ship filled with salty sailors. But Steve must have gotten his point across because that night, the phone was silent.
Each of his team members had volunteered to pick Steve up this morning to drive him to court, but he insisted that he was driving himself. None of them were quite ready to let go of their Mother Hen roles. But, once again, he assured them he was quite capable to drive across town by himself.
Besides there was some place he needed to be this afternoon.
It wasn't comfortable.
But it was necessary.
During that first week at home, once his headache finally began to abate and the dizziness subsided, his memory continued to return. And with his memories came an overwhelming sadness.
He stared at the simple granite marker with the words "John McGarrett" engraved on it. And Steve knew that this visit was long overdue.
He looked up at the blue sky, unsure what to say. Or whether to even say anything. It wasn't like his dad could reply. He thought back to the telephone call on that last fateful day. Their final conversation. It had been forced; unreal. Frantic, and over much too soon.
And Steve was filled with so much regret.
"I'm sorry, Dad. I… I didn't have a clue what we were up against. Never knew Victor was that powerful. And… I know it is too late, but I got him. Too late for a lot of things, but at least he's taken care of.
"If you don't already know, you'll probably be mad that I'm doing the one thing you didn't want for me." Steve grinned. "I'm a cop. Well, sort of; I'm head of a task force. They gave me a cool badge anyway. I never intended to leave the SEALs and do this, but I had to find out what happened to you… that day." After pausing, he grinned and continued, the words suddenly coming easier. "I had seen Chin and he said HPD had put some Haole on your case, and I knew that wasn't gonna fly. So I made sure the case was mine. But I ended up working with that Haole anyway."
He paused and glanced upward once again, forming his words.
"You would like him. Danny, that is. He would talk the ears right off your head, but, when it counts, I wouldn't want anyone else at my back. I got Chin, too. When I was a kid, I remember you saying how much promise he had and that he was a great partner. And you were right. He's so smart… and calm. Sometimes he has to play referee between Danny and me, but at least we can get him to laugh. Chin brought us his cousin, Kono, and I never thought I'd willingly choose a young woman as a team member, but damn, that girl can take up for herself.
"We take care of each other. Mary's back on the mainland, so they are my family. At least the family I have here.
"I… uh," he paused, blinking back the moisture in his eyes. "I miss you," he whispered. "I'm sorry we never really got to know each other as adults. That's… well, that's mostly my fault, I guess. But one thing I have realized in the last couple of weeks is that we are a lot alike. Both stubborn. Danny calls it 'pig-headed'. Maybe he's right, but I'd like to think it's what mom always called us – her 'obstinate McGarrett men'.
"Hey, I almost forgot." He grinned again. "I got the Marquis to run. For a few miles anyway. Had to have it towed back to the house, but it was a start. I'm still working on it and I'm not going to give up."
He paused once again and his voice got quieter. "I understand now. About why you sent us away. And while I don't like it," he glanced away and swallowed down the hurt, "and I don't agree with it, I understand. And because of that act, you made me who I am today, so I guess I need to thank you."
He stood there quietly, his thoughts speaking volumes. Finally he decided he had said all he could.
Quietly, he added, "Love you, Dad."
After a few more minutes, he turned to walk back to the truck. He saw a figure heading in his direction, so he stopped and waited, looking back at the stone. "OK, Dad, he's here. Wait 'til you get a load of the accent. Did I mention he's from Jersey?"
Danny approached slowly until Steve looked at him and offered a half smile. "How'd you find me?"
"Excuse me?" Danny pointed both thumbs toward his own chest. "Good detective; small island." He hooked both hands in his pants pockets and rocked on his heels. "Actually I just had a hunch." He looked closely at Steve. "You OK?"
Steve looked him in the eye. "Yeah, actually, I think I am."
"That's good. Listen, ah, we had a discussion after you took off and we decided to have a cookout. Tonight. At your house."
Steve shrugged his acceptance. "We'll have to get food."
"Taken care of," Danny assured him. "Kono and Chin went to the grocery store and are headed to your house as we speak."
"What's the occasion?"
"Well, if we need an occasion, how about the fact that the case is over and Makai is behind bars? That's a pretty good reason to celebrate."
"True," Steve agreed.
"And," Danny added, emphasizing by waving his hand in Steve's direction, "we never celebrated the fact that you are once again in your right mind."
"Danny, I was never not in my right mind."
"Hey! You didn't know your partner. Or, I might add, his darling little daughter, so I think that qualifies as not being in your right mind."
"OK, fine. Not in my mind. Anything else?"
"Well, we thought… if you're comfortable with it, that is, that you might like to tell us about your dad. Maybe you and Chin could share some stories and we would be able to know him a little better."
Steve looked back down at the stone. "You know, I think I might like that. On one condition."
"What's that?" Danny asked as he turned to walk back to the cars, Steve falling into step beside him, trying not to noticeably limp on the grassy surface.
"I'm giving you fair warning, that if you try to take a beer out of my hand, I will break your fingers. I don't care if you think I shouldn't drink with whatever pills that quack continues to make me take. Understood? I need a Longboard."
Danny carefully pondered the request. "I'll be lenient tonight… to a certain extent. One beer… on the house."
"We'll see," Steve agreed. "Which," he continued, reaching up and rubbing his forehead. "That brings up another subject."
"And what might that be?"
They had reached Steve's truck and he leaned against the back bumper, taking pressure off his leg. "Somewhere in the last few weeks, I distinctly remember you telling me that Five-0 is a democracy."
"Well, first, I seem to recall that I have a title that proves otherwise. But I also distinctly remember another conversation where I said we were a benign dictatorship. Ring any bells?"
Danny scratched his cheek, his face screwed up in contemplation. Finally shaking his head, he looked sadly at Steve. "Um, sorry, but I don't recall that. But maybe you should mention delusions to Dr. P. I'm sure she could help you. I mean, there's got to be some kind of pill for it."
Steve rolled his eyes and slapped his partner on the arm. "Two Longboards tonight and I'll drop it."
Danny grinned, and after consideration, nodded. "Deal."
Steve moved to the cab and opened the door, turning to his partner once again. "Then let's go; I'm actually hungry. What's Chin grilling?"
"I'm having brats and burgers. If I know you, you'll probably want grilled coconut tree bark with a side of steamed tofu."
"Nah, what with having to be in court this week, I haven't had time to harvest the tree bark."
"In that case, there may be a salmon with your name on it."
Steve smiled at his partner and placed his hand on Danny's shoulder. "Thanks, Danny."
"You're welcome, Steven. That's what partners are for."
"No," Steve replied. "That's what friends are for."