The Shallow Grave of Secret Longing

Chapter 39

Here's the last one. Thank you for coming along on the ride and for sharing your thoughts about the journey. Imaginary Beta thanks you for your tolerance. Husband and ninja cats thank you because now they get their domestic back.

Apologies to any romance aficionados. It's not really my forte; (I don't think anyone's ever even kissed anybody in my stories unless maybe it was a cat). I hope I've tied up enough of the loose ends for this to be satisfying and that it's not too sappy. Special thank you to FlamMabel for her idea about naming the dog and for another used in the previous chapter.

Disclaimer: Much as I tried, couldn't get CBS to give them up. Have repaired them to the best of my ability and can now return them to their rightful owners.

*5-0*5-0*5-0*5-0*5-0*5-0*5-0* Hawaii 5-0*5-0*5-0*5-0*5-0*5-0*5-0*

Reunions

He'd returned to H.Q. alone from the innocuous suburban home that had housed the headquarters and distribution warehouse for the human traffickers every law enforcement entity on this side of the world had been after. His team had stayed at the scene to finish transfer of the traders in human flesh and their unfortunate 'cargo' into the hands of HPD and medical personnel.

He'd come into the office to get the paperwork started. There'd be reams of it. Rank had its privilege but he'd made a promise to himself to be better about not dumping the majority of the report writing on his 2IC. Though Danny always loudly bitched about it, (as he did about pretty much everything), he never refused to do it. The disciplined detective had always made short work of the myriad of forms necessary after the apprehension and/or disposal of those trying to commit illegal acts in the State of Hawaii.

That last flying tackle had resulted in a slight collision with a concrete walkway. The body of the idiot who'd been foolish enough to run had supplied only partial cushioning for his captor when they came crashing down onto it. He winced when his fingers touched the darkening bruise on his cheekbone but he was thinking, It feels so fucking good to be back to work!

Actually, other than watching paint dry or a televised golf tournament, Steve could think of nothing more incredibly boring that sitting at a desk writing reports. He'd always been grateful for Danny's skill at it. He thought it strange the detective had so quickly volunteered to help Chin and Kono go door to door helping HPD take statements from possible witnesses. The department was down several uniformed and plain-clothed officers because they'd been shanghaied to provide protection at one of Oahu's swankier conference venues. They'd be watching over a gathering of middle-eastern 'agricultural officials'. The governor had actually tried to corral Five-0 into organizing security for it but they'd been in the middle of the investigation leading to the successful bust.

Entering his office, Steve immediately spotted the small package sitting in the middle of his desk. It was wrapped in what he recognized as one of Five-0's standard requisition forms and tied with a colorful ribbon. There was no tag or card to indicate who it was from. He inspected the box carefully before deciding it wasn't booby-trapped.

Picking it up to curiously shake it, he heard only a muffled rattle. He slipped off the ribbon and tore away the unusual wrapping to discover beneath it a box with stamped gold foil lettering that read 'Island Pawn and Loan'. He felt his throat tighten as he lifted off the lid.

There, nestled in the fabric lining was his watch. He gently plucked it from the little cardboard container and looked at it a long moment before removing his inexpensive replacement watch and slipping the treasured timepiece onto his wrist. Taking a mysteriously shuddering breath, he reached for the card that had been tucked underneath.

The message written on the cream colored card read through teary eyes was: 'Fearless Leader -Thought you might need this. It's a necessity to have a waterproof watch if you're going to keep throwing people into shark tanks. Love, your ohana.'

He was glad no one was there to see him wipe away the wetness that had suddenly begun to trail down his face.

. . . .

Even though it was no longer a necessity, he kept up the commute back and forth to Lanai.

He still had a few more days to make his decision about trying to return to reserve duty. Who knew if he could even pass the evaluation? Physically, there was no problem and even though his side still pulled a little when he stretched, thanks to Kip's ointment, (the one she'd used on Houdini when he'd been mauled by the boar), the scar wasn't even all that visible anymore.

He'd also used some on his arms but the scars there were still too new; red and raw looking. Maybe it was good to have a reminder of his stupidity. He knew that eventually they'd fade as well. Someday, they may even be invisible.

. . . .

He looked upward at the clear sky and relished the feeling of sunlight on his skin and the warm breeze that blew down the sloping pasture and made the long grass look like a rolling golden ocean. He'd miss this place when he returned to Oahu full-time.

The old dog groaned again as he pulled the stiffly bristled brush through the matted coat. Though it probably didn't even feel all that good to have his fur tugged on like that, the canine seemed to be enjoying the grooming.

Next, came a bath.

….

Kip looked out the window from where she stood washing dishes and spotted a tall man chasing a suds covered dog across the yard followed by six geese, three goats, four sheep and a one-and-a-half eared rabbit.

"Huh" she said to herself, "This should be interesting."

. . . .

He heard a car pull into the driveway. It wasn't the rumble of Cath's Corvette but the familiar purr of the Camaro. He wiped sweaty hands on the fronts of thighs covered by cargoes. He had no idea why he was this apprehensive about this. He'd actually been looking forward to it.

The front door opened and he heard Danny yell, "Yo! Rambo! You are about to be graced with the presence of a true princess! You ready?"

"Yeah, Danny. I'm assuming that doesn't mean you." he called back from the kitchen where he'd just finished making the salad and had put it in the fridge to chill.

Danny had finally all but begged him to let Gracie come over to see her Uncle Steve. Over the past month they'd gotten into it several times over the issue; Danny repeatedly apologizing for ever having any reservations about his daughter spending time around his best friend. It was one of the lingering issues Steve still hadn't gotten over whether because he still didn't feel Danny truly trusted him or that he still didn't yet trust himself. Though he hadn't had a flashback in more than a month and a half, it was still a worry for him.

The eager child burst into the kitchen ahead of her father before almost comically putting on the brakes and skidding to a stop on the vinyl floor. She looked unsure and her expression was mirrored on the face of the man she'd been so eager to visit. They stood staring at each other for a brief moment before Steve kneeled and opened his arms to welcome her.

He smiled as she came quickly forward to wrap her spindly arms around his neck and squeeze him tightly as she could.

"It's good to see you again your highness." he said as he closed his eyes tightly to keep any embarrassing moisture from leaking from them as he hugged her back.

The child didn't respond for a few moments as she clung to him with all her might before pushing away. Not wasting any time; dark eyes boring into his, she asked "How come you didn't want to see me Uncle Steve? Danno told me you didn't feel good but I still could come to visit and make you feel better."

He fought to control his voice as he answered the blunt but heartfelt question, "Gracie, I . . . I'm sorry I didn't let you come to see me sooner. I didn't feel very good and I was very sad and I didn't want to make you sad too."

"But, I could have helped make you happier. You told me you always feel happy when you see me."

"And I do, Gracie, but this time . . . I was so very sad I couldn't see anybody. I was kind of hiding for a while but Danno found me and made me come home." He had no idea how to explain this to a child as bright and scarily intuitive as her father without upsetting her.

"Are you happy now?" she asked, her smooth little face so serious there was nearly a crease between her eyes.

"I'm so so happy to see you. I haven't been this happy for a long time. I hope you forgive me for hiding from you. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings. I love you almost more than your Danno and no one could love you more than him."

The dark haired child continued to solemnly stare, evaluating his words before saying, "It's okay Uncle Steve but promise you won't go hide again. It made Danno really sad too."

"I really truly promise I won't hide ever again from any of the people like you and your Danno; the people I love with all my heart."

Danny had paused at the doorway to quietly witness the reunion of his monkey and the neanderthal. He felt the lump in his throat grow to the size of a boulder as the two hugged one last time then set about finishing the preparation of dinner as though nothing had ever been amiss. Perhaps there was a lesson there. If Gracie could so wholeheartedly forgive the idiot then her old man should be able to. The lingering anger over what Steve had tried to do unknotted somewhere in his body and he suddenly felt lighter than he had in many months.

"Hey! No pineapple!" he yelled, rushing into the kitchen as Steve was about to plop some slices into the fruit salad.

. . . .

He felt he owed something to Kip . . . of course he owed her. She'd taken him in like one of her damaged animals and helped him back to the land of the living.

He knew she'd refuse any monetary compensation, (not that there could ever be enough of it for what she'd done), but maybe he could help in another way. He'd spoken with Howard and the two of them decided that perhaps it was now time to help Kip move on as had her Ua Kane.

During the conversation with the hardware man, he'd learned Joey's body had never been shipped home, whether due to financial issues or his mother's dogged denial of his death. He felt it wasn't right. A son of the islands should be returned to his home and his family. He hoped it was the right thing to do; he was going to bring Joey home.

. . . .

She stared at his peaceful face as he slept. He didn't look any different. He was still the most gorgeous man she'd ever met. The long dark lashes lay against his tanned skin, his hair with little flecks of grey in it was a bit longer than usual and its slight curl made it stick up in wayward spikes. Even that was gorgeous.

He woke as she shifted her body against his to lay her head back down on his chest.

"Hey." he said with a sleepy smile; ocean colored eyes looking down at her.

"Hey sailor." she greeted, turning her face upward to engage in a brief soft kiss.

"That was a pretty great reunion huh?" he asked with a wicked smile; the one that always made her dissolve into a puddle of want.

"That was the best reunion we've had yet." she answered with a wicked smile of her own.

"Even better than the one in Coronado? At the time, I know you thought that one was pretty awesome." he smirked.

"Yeah, well this one was better. You want to know why?" she asked, seeming suddenly serious, chocolate eyes looking upward into his.

"Why?" he asked curiously; coming up on one elbow to look more closely into her face; lustrous sleep tousled hair framing it like one would frame a portrait. At that moment, she was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen.

"Because we both finally told each other how we feel. It's not some stupid Jane Austen tormented secret anymore."

"Jane Austen?"

She rolled her eyes as he scrunched his brow while trying to figure out her meaning.

"Oh, that." he smiled again as he shifted to press her into the pillow while his lips found hers, stopping only long enough to whisper, "I love you too."

. . . .

He still wasn't totally convinced that punk Benji had no intention of shooting him but Hakoda had chosen not to pursue it.

The old cop, though seeming to be nearly a cartoon of rural law enforcement, was a capable and effective policeman. Steve had opportunity to speak with him a few times during dinner at Kip's and had been impressed by the man's knowledge of his island, its people and how to handle their issues.

Rabbit looked miserable at the possibility his mother could be romantically interested in the old cop. McGarrett, on the other hand, thought perhaps it wasn't all that bad an idea. It might keep the youth from being tempted to stray back into the clutches of the pack of troublemakers. After the SEAL had permanently returned to Oahu maybe it would help keep the boy on the straight and narrow.

Before he went back to work, he had something to take care of on the mainland but it took a bit of convincing to make Danny comfortable with his leaving the islands. Not that he needed the man's permission or even approval but he felt a duty to reassure his worried friend.

The SEAL finally had to forcefully remind Danny that he was all grown up and could travel by himself and, in fact, if the little detective didn't lighten-up and stop fretting over his every move, there were other issues to deal with - and they weren't Steve's.

Damn! Getting away from his well-meaning but overly concerned partner was like trying to get unstuck from flypaper.

. . . .

When word came back that the burial site of Lihau Joseph Meluhia couldn't be located he thought it more than a little curious. Further, when his resources both sanctioned and otherwise came up with some intriguing questions, he had to get answers.

As the airbus circled inland to line up on one of LAX's east to west runways and he'd looked out across the greyish-orange air over the Los Angeles basin. It confirmed for him that life in Hawaii was a true blessing.

The traffic on the San Monica Freeway only reinforced it.

After what seemed miles of following a smoke belching semi and finally spotting the off-ramp for the Lorena Street Exit he steered the rental car down it. In another fifteen minutes he arrived at the address given him over the phone by one of his 'ex-military' friends before he'd left Honolulu. Carefully locking the car, he strode down the sticky sidewalk to stop before the nondescript two-story building.

The tall man pushed through the doors of the Whittier Boulevard Shelter for the Homeless. Inside he found it was cool and surprisingly clean and well-ordered.

A stout woman stood behind the counter to the left of the door. Above it was a large sign declaring 'INTAKE DESK. SIGN IN HERE. NO DRUGS OR ALCOHOL BEYOND THIS POINT'.

"Excuse me." he smiled, immediately getting her attention. "I'm looking for one of your associates, John Mauritius, is he here?"

"He should be in about another half-hour if you'd like to wait." she replied, hazel eyes checking him out like a hungry dog checks out a T-bone.

"Yes, I'd like that, thank you." he smiled back at her trying not to squirm at the obvious scrutiny but also trying to work the charm that, at times, served him so well.

She directed him to a few plastic chairs lined up against the wall across the way. He realized she had a good view of him there and smiled at her once again before sitting and picking up a ratty copy of yesterday's Los Angeles Times newspaper. The lead story was an account of a drive-by that had claimed the life of a ten year old. Dammit, he thought sadly then, after quickly reading the story, set the paper down and pawed through the rest of the messy pile of periodicals scattered about on the plastic seating.

In half an hour on the dot, the heavy glass door swung open and there appeared a man who looked to be a couple years older than himself. He saw the woman at the desk smile at the stocky man and lean forward to tell him there was someone waiting as she pointed in his direction.

The dark-haired man turned and took a step toward him with a smile and a curious expression.

"Joey?" asked Steve

. . . .

"So you are the brown-eyed girl." declared Kip with a mischievous smile as she handed Cath a cup of tea. This time it was only chamomile. Steve had asked her not to give any of her 'special' tea to his girlfriend as she was still active military and could be subjected to testing for 'herbs' at any time.

"Uhh yeah, I guess so. My eyes are brown but who calls me that?"

"Your boyfriend. He told me his girl had beautiful brown eyes and he was right. He said they reminded him of Marilyn's."

"Marilyn?" asked Cath, wondering who this Marilyn was and if she should be jealous.

"My cow . . . well, my late cow." answered Kip trying to remember if she wasn't supposed to spill this bit of information.

"Oh, nice" said Cath. "So Steve says I have eyes like a cow?"

"He meant it in a good way. He said you had big soft eyes with beautiful long eyelashes."

"Well, in Steve's world, I'm sure having eyes like a cow is a high compliment indeed." she laughed, "They don't call him Smooth Dog for nothing."

"Smooth Dog?" asked Kip, eyes dancing.

"It's his SEAL name." answered Cath with a laugh.

"The things one learns . . . " tsked Kip shaking her head from side to side, an amused expression on her face. "Of all the names one could have given that boy; Smooth Dog is probably one of the least likely."

"Trust me." said Danny from his seat on the other side of the kitchen table; this time covered by a puzzle of fireworks bursting over the reflective surface of a lake. "You're not the only one who's ever said that." he snorted as he fit another piece of the puzzle into place. This is actually kind of addictive, he thought as the complex puzzle was starting to more resemble the illustration on the lid of the box it came in.

"So, will you help me with the party?" asked the 'brown-eyed girl'.

"Of course! A party would be fun. Haven't had one in a long time. Not since those narcs showed up and . . . uhh . . . never mind." she mumbled as she saw both Howard and Danny shaking their heads at her; Danny actually adding the universal motion of waving a hand before his throat meaning 'shut-up!'.

Cath saw them out of the corner of her eye and wanted to laugh but didn't want to embarrass anyone let alone the kind, if quirky, woman who'd had a large part in rescuing the love of her life.

Steve had told her everything and there was no possible way to repay Kip and Howard, (not to mention Danny), for what they'd done for Steve.

"So, by the time Smooth Dog gets back from wherever he's gone, it will be party time." smiled Kip.

"So Kip, please tell me about the time the narcs broke up the party." prompted Cath, her eyes sparkling as both men looked about to swallow their tongues.

Kip smiled like the Cheshire Cat. She knew she was gonna like Stevie's girlfriend. Besides being beautiful, she was smart and had a sense of humor. The woman would surely have no trouble keeping the restless Ua Kane in line. "It's a really good story." she said, pouring another cup of chamomile for Cath and, from another pot, cups of herbal tea for herself and the two men. "It started out with the usual celebration at the end of the harvest . . . "

. . . .

"Why did you run?" asked the tall man as he sat across the table from the one who so resembled Kip. His stocky build, curly hair and bright inquisitive eyes left no doubt he was the offspring of Kip and Malu Maluhia.

John/Joey, looked down for a long moment before sighing and answering. "I was so fucked-up. I realized I had to leave when I hurt my dad. It was just too dangerous for me to be around them. I really don't remember much about that time, just the feeling that I needed to get away."

Steve nodded in understanding as he thanked the waitress who refilled his cup before she hurried away to tend to another table.

"How did you wind up here?" asked Steve as he took a sip of the dark bitter coffee that no amount of sugar and cream could tame.

"I had some friends here from my time in Iraq. They offered to put me up until I could get it together again. I owe them my life."

"Why didn't you ever go back home?" asked Steve as he eyed the small group of obvious gang-bangers who'd sauntered into the busy coffee shop.

It seemed they were only there to meet their tight-jeaned, sloe-eyed girlfriends waiting a couple of booths over. The tall man relaxed a bit and returned his eyes to his companion.

"I don't know. After a while . . . after I'd found out my dad had died and had been buried for two months before I even knew about it, I guess I was just too ashamed. It just seemed easier to let them think I was dead."

Steve couldn't quite get his head around why someone would intentionally abandon his mother when all he had to do was get back on a plane but he very well knew the distorted reasoning that can be part of the disorder. "But how were you able to have everyone think you were dead?"

"It worked out kind of by chance. Someone had stolen my I.D. and then, when the asshole who'd taken it wound up dead in a bar fight in East L.A., it just seemed like a good idea to stay that way."

"How did you get away with it? Didn't the coroner's office catch on when they ran prints against your driver's license?"

"It's kind of like that line in that movie 'Chinatown'. It's L.A, Steve. There are ways to get around rules in a place that had nearly 900 homicides that year and an overworked medical examiner's office."

"Lucked out there." snorted McGarrett.

"Plus," continued Joey, "it doesn't hurt to 'know people'."

Steve nodded. It was a term Danny frequently used when relating tales of his time spent as a Jersey cop and the sometime difficulties of conducting a successful investigation. Greasing the palms of the right individuals or having access to those who held power was a way of life in some places. Why should Los Angeles be any different?

"Anyway, the asshole who stole my I.D. was nearly a dead-ringer for my driver's license photo and fit my general description so it wasn't as difficult as it could have been or should have been. A few bucks for someone to 'misplace' evidence and voila."

"So, even with all the rules and procedures in effect since 9/11, you still pulled it off." said Steve shaking his head whether in admiration or dismay, Joey couldn't tell.

"The patriot act maybe made it a little harder to do but not impossible."

"Guess not." was the tall man's succinct reply.

"Probably couldn't get away with it now. They've gotten a lot better about fake identification and stuff." said Joey, musing to himself.

"You know, your mother still thinks you're coming home." stated Steve waiting for Joey's response. The expression of surprise on the tanned face across from his was quickly replaced with one of profound sadness.

The two men who'd both nearly been lost to their demons regarded each other silently.

. . . .

For a while it was a hot debate as to whether the luau would be held on Oahu or Lanai. Steve didn't much care which. The McGarrett house had always been the gathering place for his ohana's celebrations but Kip's place had plenty of property on which to party plus no one had to worry about kids wandering off to get into trouble in the surf. Of course, a goat might eat them but it was unlikely.

McGarrett was still surprised someone would actually try to out argue his fierce partner but he knew Kip had a few more years of experience to hone her debate/intimidation skills. She'd certainly had enough practice on her animals and anyone else who may have fallen into her compassionate clutches – himself included.

Howard had nudged Ua Kane, (he still called him that), to tell him his money was on Kip as they watched from the old chairs set on the grass that ran down to the sandy beach behind the house.

She stood with feet firmly planted, hands on hips and bosom thrust forward as Danny debated his point in his usual kinetically adorned way; Kip matching him word for word if not gesture for gesture.

"That woman can out argue the devil." said Howard in admiration as both watched; transfixed by the 'Great Luau Debate of 2013'.

"I wouldn't count Danny out yet." said an amused McGarrett, "He's the most dogged person I've ever met. The little guy never gives up!"

"Yeah, but he's never gone against Kekipi Meluhia, the woman's a freight train and you do not want to stand in her way when she's on a mission." chuckled Howard before he took a long pull on his beer.

After several more heated minutes, the argument . . . err debate was apparently over. Both parties smiled and shook hands before coming back toward where the two men sat in the shade.

"Okay Rambo" announced Danny actually looking a little worn as he came up to them running his hands through his hair, "Party's on Lanai."

A surprised Steve and the not remotely surprised Howard glanced at each other, the older man silently mouthing, "Told you so".

"Okay, great. I assume you'll make the arrangements for everyone to get from here to there?" asked the tall man as he took another swig from his Longboard.

"Yeah, yeah. Gonna start calling people in a couple minutes. Maybe our large entrepreneurial friend can help out. I'm sure he's got an entire fleet of cousins and boats. We'll work out something."

"You do know I'm perfectly capable of handling the logistics myself don't you?" grumbled McGarrett, still a bit sensitive about looking as though he couldn't take care of his own life.

"Yes, Steven. I do know that but having an amphibious landing craft storm the beaches of that dinky little island or dropping everyone from a plane to parachute in probably won't work all that well."

"Danny," smirked the SEAL, "It's way too rocky on the northern shore. There's nowhere for a decent beach landing and throwing Kamekona out of a plane - even with a parachute - is a little too scary . . . even for me."

"What's this about an assault on my dinky little island?" asked Kip walking up to them after fetching a couple of iced bottles from the cooler and handing one to Danny who smiled his thanks before twisting off the cap.

"We're trying to figure out how to get everyone to your place for the luau." answered Howard

"I'll talk to Malu's nephew Kamekona." she answered, "Easy."

….

The McGarrett house was all abustle as the guests prepared to leave. They were going to meet the boat commissioned to transport everyone directly to Lanai. Steve had insisted on paying Ha'upu as well as inviting him and the crew to the luau.

Those waiting to pile into the two SUV's were: Danny, Gabby, Grace, Cath, Kono, Chin, Kamekona, Charlie, Max and A'ala, (most of the men were still amazed their quirky little M.E. had managed to snag such a gorgeous companion), as well as Dave Esquivel, and the O'Maras.

Steve had invited the doctor who'd had such a huge roll in saving him from himself and he truly liked the Alfred E. Neumann doppelganger. He was pleased the shrink had immediately agreed to come to the 'Welcome Back' luau.

Bill O'Mara and his wife Junie had decided to take their vacation on Hawaii this year and were also part of the celebration of Steve's return to Five-0. Danny's current partner had immediately offered to put them up at his house for the duration when he'd heard of Danny's former partner's impending visit.

He'd ridden along with the ex-Jersey detective to fetch the couple from the airport and after greeting Junie and her husband a little awkwardly, (the vague memory of being slung upside down over the big man's shoulder making an unwelcome appearance in his head), it was as though he'd known them forever. He enjoyed the back and forth between 'Tiger' and his ex-partner. His plan was to get one of them drunk enough to spill on the origin of the nickname.

…..

The group disembarked at the marina and Howard was there to pick everyone up in his battered old Chevy. Three of the women plus a protesting Gracie, (Danny insisted his daughter ride in relative safety fearing one good bounce and she'd fly out of the back of the truck), squeezed into the cab. Cath and Kono rode in the back with the guys - the two adamant about not being favored just because they were female; besides, there was only so much room in the front.

The other three women had no problem with riding on a cushioned seat rather than the metal bed of the pick-up. Danny, mumbling that his ass hadn't yet recovered from his last ride in the back of the truck belatedly realized Steve wouldn't even remember it. He immediately shut-up, not wanting to answer the question posed in the quirk of his partner's eyebrows. Steve wasn't going anywhere now. There'd be plenty of time to talk about it later.

Kamekona's bulk challenged the vehicle's suspension and the strength of its passengers as the men managed to tug him across the lowered tailgate and into the bed of the truck.

The laboring vehicle, packed to the max with passengers, slowly made its way to party central.

As they reached Kip's and the truckload of soon to be partiers disembarked, Steve was immediately assaulted by what seemed a heat-seeking missile - the happily squealing Mary Ann.

"Mary!" said Steve in astonishment as she threw herself into his arms, "How did you get here?"

"I came in yesterday and decided to surprise you instead of showing up at the house. Danny arranged for your friend Kip to put me up. She's a trip! Do you know she used to grow . . . "

"Mary!" exclaimed Danny as he grabbed her arm and said, "Let me introduce you to my friend Dave Esquivel." He dragged her off leaving a still stunned McGarrett staring after them.

The luau was already in progress. All of the locals Steve already knew were there plus several others from other parts of the island, (Kip's family no doubt). It was Danny who introduced him to a very large woman named Nanala who bore an unfortunate resemblance to their shrimp truck entrepreneur.

Everyone cheered as Kip and Joey appeared on the back porch. Steve, (as was pretty much everyone), amazed at her transformation. Her hair had been tamed into an actual style, (Mary Ann's work), and soft ringlets framed her face. Her jeans and T-shirt had been replaced with a gauzy aqua colored dress. Her son was resplendent as well in linen slacks and a custom made Kekipi Meluhia Hawaiian shirt. He looked overjoyed to finally be home. The reunion between mother and son had been painful, tearful and every other adjective one would care to use but both of them glowed with happiness as they stood there.

"Aloha nui aloha!" greeted Kip, "I'm so happy you all could be here to help celebrate with us."

"Aloha!" was the response from the crowd.

Kip, looking out over the gathering of friends and family, turned to hug Joey so tightly that Danny and pretty much everyone else thought the poor guy's eyes were going to be popped out of his head from the force of it.

Releasing her almost blue looking son, Kip yelled, "Well now, let's get this damned shindig underway!"

The party stretched into the wee hours; celebrants all having a grand time as music, food and love flowed in abundance. The only hitch in it all had been when the goats made their appearance. They'd gotten loose and eaten their way through half of the buffet before being corralled. Koa had managed to knock down only Chin and Joey before following his little harem back to the pen.

The old dog now named Aumakua wandered through the crowd eating whatever was offered him; allowing a few quick pets in exchange for the food before moving on. Eventually he found Steve and shadowed him the rest of the night.

. . . .

"No offense Rambo but your sister could use someone like Esquivel. She's a little out there."

"I know that Danny but . . . does it have to be my damned shrink!"

"Relax, he can't tell her anything. It would be a violation of patient-client-you-know."

"This is a disaster."

"Come on babe. We are 'Disasters R Us' aren't we? This is just a minor one. I'm sure he'll figure her out quickly enough and the thrill will be gone. Mary can only keep it together for a couple weeks at most before genetics kick in."

"Hey! That's my sister you're dissing!"

"Don't I know it."

. . . .

Before the party wound down, Kip raised her glass toward the two men sitting on either side of her at the head of the long, main, table. Howard, Cath and Danny beamed happily not too far away.

"This luau, as you know, is to welcome home my son, Joey. I never gave up believing he wasn't dead and, finally, I had someone to believe with me and who traveled so far away to bring him home to me."

There was a happy rumble from the crowd as they all raised their glasses as well.

I would like us all to drink a toast to my son Joey and my other son, Stevie . . . err Steve, she corrected. "To their return to the people who love them."

"Aloha"

*5-0*5-0*5-0*5-0*5-0*5-0*5-0* Hawaii 5-0*5-0*5-0*5-0*5-0*5-0*5-0*

Would be lovely if you'd let me know your final thoughts on this story. Have very much enjoyed writing it for you.

Next Five-0 story won't be for at least a couple of months. It will probably be a lighter one. El Gato del Diablo needs the exercise

I know there are a couple of things still unresolved; thinking of writing a short piece to get them taken care of. If you'd like to remind me of something or would like to suggest anything, please let me know.

Aloha