HERO: THE RETURN
By Delia Lavender
(I do not own Hawaii Five O, Joe White or any other character from the T.V. Series.
I write only for fun – not for profit.)
He had wanted to give her everything a young man could...while he was still able to do so.
He was still stronger than most men half his age. He had broken a man's neck for her...
He didn't feel the least bit guilty about it. Scum like that rapist, Horace Cromwell, should be eliminated. He would do the same to anyone who dared touch Fiona. And he would help any other woman in Fiona's situation.
Fiona thought he was a hero, but he wasn't - he was merely a dedicated man, with a strong sense of duty.
He was a SEAL, after all.
And he knew the meaning of sacrifice. He had sent Fiona away...
Because it was safer for her. Wo Fat, his enemy – and the enemy of Steve McGarrett - would eventually have learned of Fiona's existence. He would have captured or killed her.
But although she hadn't wanted to leave, she'd done what he'd asked of her. She'd conspired with him, allowing him to renounce her in a staged, public display of vicious temper.
He had sold the furniture she'd bought for them, destroyed the lovely home she'd created...
He'd repainted the walls a bleak gray. The furniture he needed, he'd bought from a low-end thrift store. All his books were in piles again, crowding the corners.
Even the Formica dinette set was gone. He'd bought it to impress her, at the antique store where she'd worked. He'd told her its color reminded him of her eyes...
Thankfully, she'd had a sense of humor. Fiona's eyes were turquoise. Not like the damned dinette set...more like the shallows around the island.
He'd had to be so patient - he'd had to work so hard - just to get her to go out with him.
Oh, Fiona...he could barely stand sleeping in his own house, without her beside him.
But it wouldn't be long now. He was almost ready to reclaim her.
Wo Fat was in prison, his gang on the run.
Hawaii Five O would pursue the bastards: they wouldn't rest until they'd rounded every one of them up.
He had fulfilled his duty to Steve...he had reunited him with his long-absent mother. He'd let Mom explain where she'd been – and why.
Kono, dumped from a boat on Frank Delano's orders, had been rescued. She'd gotten free of her bonds and popped to the surface, badly startling an elderly fisherman in a rowboat. The old angler had immediately hauled her aboard. Kono, still under medical observation, was sharing a hospital room with Malia, who was recovering from gunshot wounds. Chin was leading the Delano investigation.
God help Delano, when Chin caught up with him. He would take revenge, on behalf of his wife and his cousin...
Just as he would do, if it was Fiona in the hospital.
But he would no longer be working directly with Hawaii Five O. He was finally ready to retire. He had his pension and more than enough savings to be comfortable. A grateful government had rewarded him well...
It was time to contact Fiona, directly.
He would ask her to become Mrs. Joe White.
Your eyes are as aqua,
As a slab of Formica...
It was Joe...it was Joe...!
So far there's no law,
Against coconut bras...
That's the code!
They'll hold the presses,
When you wear sarong dresses...
Apparently poetry wasn't his strong suit...
Please come back and be mine!
...But who cares?
Within five minutes she was on her feet, running to find Urban. She sprinted out of grandmother's guest cottage, raced across the courtyard and past the fountain. She jerked open the back door to the main house, slammed it noisily and galloped across the kitchen. She headed across the hall, directly for Urban's den. She found her cousin, pale and alarmed, standing by his desk.
"Fiona...I thought it was home invaders!"
She did not actually run into Urban, but she came close. He sat down abruptly, his heavy bulk sagging into his chair. The springs squeaked. He breathed heavily and his jowly face flushed red in reaction.
"Urban...Urban!...Joe's sent for me!" she waved a sheet of paper under his nose.
His expression froze. He stared at Fiona as she started to pace, still clutching the paper.
"My God..." he began.
"...Oh, Urban...it's over! I'm going back to Hawaii!"
"Are you certain it was Joe e-mailing you? Doesn't Kono usually..."
"It has to be Joe...he used our code. No one else knows about the coconut bras." she started to giggle, excited to the point of giddiness "You should have seen him, Urban. One time, he stood right behind the bra display – and it looked like he was wearing the demo model!"
"It was one of the big ones...and it was suspended there, right at his chest level, and..."
"Calm down, Fiona...please calm down," he got out of his chair again and grabbed her arm, leading her over to the wing chair. "Sit down, dear. I'm going to get us a drop of sherry."
She stared at him curiously, as he opened a decanter on the side table, near his bookcase. He poured a small amount of sherry into two crystal glasses. He brought them both over and handed her one.
She took a sip. "Thanks, Urban...I'm sorry I scared you. I'm just so excited..."
"I know," he said, settling back into his chair "It's been a long time for you..."
"...Ages," agreed Fiona "I thought I'd die...I've missed him so much. Do you think he'll still find me attractive? I don't look quite the same. I've lost most of my tan, and I've changed my hair: it's shorter and wavier now. It's gone back to its natural color, since I stopped using the sable rinse." She touched her hair, stroking the heavy waves that flowed past her shoulders. She isolated a few strands, staring critically at their reddish-brown color "Maybe he won't recognize me..."
"Believe me, Fiona...he'll recognize you," said Urban "Mind showing me the e-mail?"
"Of course," she said happily. She handed him the sheet of paper "Just don't spill your brandy on it. You're such a klutz..."
"...And you're a ditz." Urban chortled, then he turned his attention to the e-mail. He was silent for several moments.
"Fiona," he said, looking up at her, a little indignantly "That is the worst poem I've ever read!"
Fiona giggled again "I think it's his first one...or rather his second. He did mention writing one about his puppy, back when he was five years old. I think it went: 'Spot, Spot...runs around a lot...'"
"Well, he's hardly improved." responded Urban.
"He promised me a poem and he delivered one. It was part of the code...I think it's sweet." Fiona took another sip of her sherry.
Urban examined the e-mail again, his blue-green eyes – so similar to Fiona's – sharply following every word of the message. He nodded his head, which caused his frizzy red curls to shake.
Fiona bit her tongue, trying hard not to laugh.
Dear Urban...he'd always taken things so seriously...
He was no different, now.
Urban nervously cleared his throat before speaking.
"Has it occurred to you, Fiona, that Joe might want you to marry him?"
Her eyes widened. For a moment she sat very still.
"He didn't say anything about...about that in the e-mail. He knows how I feel about marriage, Urban. I'm sure he remembers..."
"And yet he's been married...three times, is it? He's a conventional man, Fiona...an older conventional man. He won't do less for you than he did for the others...especially now, when he wants to retire."
"I...I suppose, but..."
"I know you love him, Fiona...but do you love him enough?"
She was silent for a few moments, but her reply was strong, when it finally came.
"Yes, I do!" she said decisively.
"Even though he's twice your age? Even though he's lived a dangerous life...and undoubtedly has enemies? What will happen ten years from now, when his age catches up with him?"
"Oh, Urban! What's the matter with you? Joe is in great shape. And even if he wasn't...you know I'd stay with him. Even if it meant pushing him around in a wheelchair."
"Fiona...you have to consider this. Right here in San Diego there's hundreds of officers - men close to your own age, with bright futures. Many of them would love to meet you..."
"No. I only want Joe..."
"But why, Fiona? Why don't you want a young man?"
"You wouldn't be asking me this – if you'd had to live with mother and Mark!" she said, belligerently.
He wasn't surprised by her outburst. Her home-life had been a disaster...he had always known it. He had been thirteen when his father, Colonel Roger McNeff, had brought Fiona home to live with them. She had been rejected by her mother, who hadn't wanted another female around...especially a pretty, fifteen-year-old girl. Aunt Ruby hadn't wanted anyone coming between her and her new husband, who had just turned twenty-two.
"Rotten Aunt Ruby" couldn't tolerate reminders of her true age. To Urban's knowledge, Ruby had had four husbands and three face-lifts. He'd heard she was still married and still guarding her prize: Mark - a coarsely good-looking con man, fifteen years her junior.
Urban could visualize them: Mark still loitering poolside, growing his beer gut and checking out the women, while Old Ruby glared anxiously from her lounge chair, sharpening her talons.
Fiona distrusted men her own age. But who could blame her? Thank God for his father...it was no wonder Fiona had admired him so.
And it was no wonder she admired Joe White.
"Fiona...I'm sorry. I've never asked you this before...I know I don't have the right...but did Mark ever molest you? It would explain so much if..."
"No, Urban...it didn't come to that. But I think it might have, if it wasn't for Uncle Roger. He walked in unexpectedly, one day. He saw Mark drunk and chasing me through the house, with mother right behind us, screaming...she blamed me for everything, you know. I always envied you Aunt Pearl. Maybe, if she had lived, she could have influenced mother..."
"She would have tried, Fiona...but I don't think it would have worked. I've never seen two sisters so...dissimilar. Grandmother used to talk sometimes...she used to wonder about it."
"I wish Aunt Pearl had been my mother..."
"So do I. But we wouldn't have been any closer. You are my sister, Fiona."
Her eyes teared up and she looked at him, a tender expression on her face.
"I love you too, Urban...you've always been my brother...and I don't know what I'd do without you. But surely you know that I love Joe. Are you afraid that what I feel for him is...just obligation?
"Not exactly...but I think you need to consider what you're doing. You have to question yourself. This is an unusual situation. It would be tragic for Joe, if..."
"I know. He's fought the Bimbo Wars, already. All he needs now is to be married to a neurotic."
"You're not neurotic, Fiona. You're amazingly well-adjusted. And I like Joe very much...but I'm concerned for you. Joe saved your life. It would be so easy to mistake..."
"No. I loved Joe before the...the incident with Horace. Joe is a fully realized man...although sometimes he can be silly."
"So I've noticed." said Urban, dryly.
"But I don't think he's silly with anyone but you, Fiona. Most men I know would be scared to death of him. He's a boot camp nightmare. To see those ice-cold eyes glaring at you...to hear that gruff bark at five in the morning..."
Fiona laughed outright.
"You don't know the half of it!"
He wouldn't ask her to marry him, yet. He wanted to buy her a ring, first.
She'd left a ring behind, when she left for the mainland. It was a little gold wedding band, which she'd found at MidCentury Retro, when she'd worked there. It helped her out, she'd said, when male customers became a bit too friendly. Usually it was all she needed – that, and a casual remark about her husband's career as a karate instructor.
The ring had fit her perfectly. He took it from its box and looked at it.
He remembered the designs she'd liked. He remembered her favorite metals, her favorite stones.
He'd take the ring to the jewelry store, where they'd size it. Chin had put him in touch with a good jeweler "He'll give you a discount, brah – I did him a favor, once." he had said. And Joe planned on taking his advice.
Even if she never wanted to marry him, Fiona was still going to wear his ring.
Urban insisted on escorting Fiona back to the island.
"It's quiet at the office," he'd said "Denise can handle anything that comes up. Besides...I need some time off."
Of course he hadn't fooled her, but that was all right.
If anything went wrong, he wanted to be there to pick up the pieces.
Not that he didn't trust Joe – he respected and admired him – but he wasn't sure he was good for Fiona.
Urban's father had been a colonel in charge of supply, but he'd known some men from Special Forces. "Those guys never retire," he'd told him "They're always on alert, ready to go...no matter what they have waiting at home."
He didn't really want that for Fiona.
But there wasn't a thing Urban could do – if they really loved each other. But did Joe want Fiona enough to retire? Would he be content to sit on the sidelines, after the exciting life he had led?
He got his answer...at least part of an answer...as he and Fiona got off the plane. There, just past the hula girl standee and the plastic lei display stood Joe, anxiously watching the departing passengers. Urban saw his expression change from eager watchfulness to rapturous joy...
"Joe!" shrieked Fiona. She dropped her overnight bag onto Urban's foot, sprang forward and raced into Joe's arms.
Sadly he picked up her abandoned carry-on and headed toward the baggage carousel, leaving the two of them alone while he searched for the luggage.
The wedding proceeded, without any muss or fuss, in the tiny chapel at the Honolulu Hospital. That was so Malia could attend. The rest of the ohana was there, including Steve's mother, who had arranged for the flowers. Fiona wore a long white sarong dress, printed with a pale, delicate design of silver flowers against faint, aqua-colored vines.
She wore Joe's ring...a curving platinum band with a blue-green, heart-shaped diamond.
Urban cried, as he walked Fiona down the aisle.
"Buck up, cousin," said Steve McGarrett, after the ceremony "Here...you can borrow my handkerchief. Fiona is part of our family now...and she's married to a great man. Don't worry. Come eat some wedding cake..."
And he did. There was a beautiful reception at the Tiny Bubbles Cafe, where he and Fiona had first met Joe.
And the cake was indeed spectacular. Urban had two pieces on top of his lunch.
Tiny Bubbles was much more crowded than the chapel had been. Joe had rented the place for the afternoon, and many of his and Fiona's friends had stopped by.
Urban recognized Fiona's old employer, Mrs. Lee...but who was the girl who accompanied her? He liked her plump figure and her pink-flowered dress...he liked her pretty face and heart-melting smile. For a moment their eyes met...
But then she disappeared into the crowd. Urban sighed and ate some more cake.
A few minutes later, Mrs. Lee approached his table. She'd brought the pretty girl with her.
"Mr. McNeff...do you remember me? I'm Mrs. Lee from MidCentury Retro...Fiona's former employer? I'd like to introduce my daughter, Katrina. She's just back from university...she's going to take Fiona's old position. We hear that you're an importer..."
After their honeymoon, Joe bought Fiona her dream bungalow. It was located in a gated community, close to a private beach.
Joe could never quite get over his inflated sense of caution, where Fiona's safety was concerned.
"Joe, what about your old house?" she asked, after they signed the escrow papers.
"I hate for you to even see it. I undid everything you ever did for the place. I painted the walls an ugly gray that I'd found on special at the discount paint store..."
"It had to be done. But there's nothing there anymore - just piles of books and some crappy furniture..."
"We could sell it...or we could rent it out. Haul your books to the new place, and give away the crappy furniture. We can paint again...start from scratch..."
As it happened, they didn't need to repaint. Urban bought the place. Urban was fulfilling a long-held ambition – he was expanding his business into Hawaii.
"Leave the painting to me," he said "I know exactly what I want."
Joe was astonished, when he saw the end result at Urban's Housewarming.
"Fiona...this is almost how it looked before, after you redecorated."
"Well, we were raised together. Urban and I have similar taste."
"Look...a yellow Formica dinette set!"
"It's from MidCentury Retro, of course. Urban is pretty thick with Mrs. Lee...she's helped him a lot. And he really likes Katrina..."
"Now all he needs is a folk art parrot..."
"I already got him one...it's yellow and red. It's in the big box with our other Housewarming gifts..."
But they weren't able to stay as long as they would have liked, because they were expecting an early morning furniture delivery. They left by eight o'clock, with Urban and Katrina trailing them to the car.
"Good night Fiona...Joe. Thanks again for the funky parrot." Urban said, leaning toward Fiona's open window.
"Drive carefully...I can't wait to see your place!" added Katrina.
"We're looking forward to having you over. I'll call you tomorrow." said Fiona, as she fastened her seatbelt.
"We love what you've done to the old place...it really looks like home." quipped Joe.
"Guess Fiona and I should stop reading the same decorating books!" replied Urban. He put his arm around Katrina as they drove away.
They were in bed by eleven o'clock. Joe rolled over onto his side, as he always did, and took Fiona into his arms.
"Happy?" he murmured.
"Very happy," she replied "You know...I'm glad we didn't have a big wedding..."
"You are? Most women want big weddings."
"Not me. I was nervous enough...a big wedding would have killed me."
"Well, you don't need a big wedding to have a happy marriage."
"So true. I had a friend who spent $75,000 on her wedding...and it lasted four months."
"We'll do much better than that." said Joe. He reached over Fiona's shoulder and turned out the bedside light.