Off the Deep End
AN - please enjoy the first ever story posted to FFnet to Hawaii Five-O more than a year ago, in all of its melodramatic glory.
Steve, Danny, Chin and Ben were chasing after the wakagashira (first lieutenant) to the Yakuza in Oahu, Hiro Noshimuri. Their target was cutting through the dense mid-afternoon shopping crowd like a hot knife through butter and his small and compact stature meant he could squeeze through nooks and crannies like the best of them, like a ninja. He had just rounded a corner on the shopping plaza and was bounding up the escalator, pushing past people. Steve raised his gun and aimed it at Hiro's back, but he was too agile and quick that Steve was more likely to hit an innocent bystander than Hiro himself. He gnashed his teeth as he sprinted up the stairs along side the elevator, Danny in tow. Chin and Ben were running on the bottom alongside the water feature, scanning the scene for any sign of the diminutive man.
Steve was trying to regain his breath and he slammed his fist against the stone railing, wincing as his bone hit the stone hard. His breaths were rushed and ragged and it was only then that he noticed that Danny was no longer beside him. He quickly looked around, seeing no sign of the olive green suit today or the familiar head of blonde curls. He leaned over the edge to scan the scene below them, but it was unlikely, as he clearly remembered that Danny had been right along side him as he sprinted up the stairs after Hiro. The midday sun was beating relentlessly down on them, choking off all the air and Steve lifted a handkerchiefed hand to his forehead to wipe the sweat off.
`Danno?' he shouted out, causing some people below to look up at him, confusion in their faces.
`Here, Steve' the familiar voice replied, and soon he could feel the press of cool condensation in his hand as Danny handed him an icy cold bottle of water. He twisted the top off and sculled half of it in one go; it really was one of those days. In concession Steve had taken off his jacket and rolled up his shirtsleeves.
`Thanks,' he watched as Danny mirrored him, taking a deep swig of cold water before replacing the cap.
`He couldn't have gotten very far,' Danny reasoned in between staccato breaths, `he still should be in the vicinity around here.'
`Put out an APB on him, and tell Duke to have a car parked out at the front of his Waialua house, I want 24 hour surveillance on him,' Steve instructed as he turned around to survey the crowd milling out on the plaza below. Where was Hiro Noshimuri?
Danny had just turned around to head back to the squad car to radio to Central Dispatch when a lone gunshot rang out, and people started screaming below. Danny was behind him, scrabbling madly down the stairs following Steve's lean legs as they carried him out towards the car park – where it seemed the shot had been fired. Chin and Ben rounded the corner of the fountain and people instinctively parted ways for the Five-O Team as they ran down the stairs and spilled out onto the car park, where there was traffic chaos as everyone had stopped to look around to see where the shot had come from. Young children started crying as their parents ushered them into the relative safety of the shopping complex, car doors left ajar.
`Up there!' Chin shouted, pointing to a sea-foam green Cadillac that had just pulled out of a spot on the upper North side, and they could see Hiro's face before he whipped the car around and they could make out the sole bullet hole lodged in the driver's door. Steve switched the safety off his gun and aimed, but could get a clear shot as the car was moving too rapidly as people were coming and going everywhere.
`Got it,' Ben put on an additional spurt of speed and jumped clean over the handrail onto the ground below and sprinted in pursuit of Hiro, his gun drawn as his jacket flapped with his running.
Steve was had just stepped down onto the ground with Chin by his side and Danny had jumped the last two steps to land just in front of Steve before a second shot rang out and Steve could feel his world narrow down.
Steve stared in horror before he found his voice to yell.
When Steve reopened his eyes he found himself in the hospital, the familiar scent of antiseptic and sickness overwhelmed him. He had always hated coming here, but long had accepted it as one of the `perks' of the job, much like the foregone possibility of having a social life.
Or a girlfriend, for that matter.
He rubbed the exhaustion from his eyes as he stretched a bit, easing the kinks out of his muscles as he tried to shift his train of thoughts away from the train wreck that was Cathy. Something clattered loudly on the floor and rolled around under his chair, so he stooped to pick it up.
It was a water bottle, half empty. He picked it up and put it on the bedside table.
The alternative wasn't much better, as the memories flooded back, clear and sharp as if they were unfolding right before his eyes again.
They had been chasing Hiro Noshimuri at the Ala Moana Shopping Complex. Steve and Danny had managed to corner the man inside a men's bathroom but he had come out holding a gun to the hostage's head snarling for them to back off until he was well away from here, and they had let the tether a little loose until he shoved the hostage away and was running at breakneck speed through the crowds, with the entire Five-O team behind him.
He shook his head and turned to look at the hospital bed, which was empty, the sheets tousled and tumbled in, a stark red crimson stain on the pillow with a dent approximately where the head should be. He moved to stand up from the chair by the bedside and laid it close to where the dent in the pillow was, and was surprised to see that it was still warm.
`Steve, you're awake,' Chin spoke softly from the doorway, and Steve could see that he looked really haggard and worn, with brackets of exhaustion framing his face and a little stubble had started growing on him.
They had clearly been at hospital for a few days, as Steve recognized that he was still in the same clothes he had been wearing that same afternoon, when all of this started.
`How long have you been here?' Steve asked.
`3 days,' Chin replied curtly, `but you've been here ever since you stepped of the back of the ambulance.'
Before Steve could get anything else out of him a doctor walked into the room past Chin and came face to face with Steve. There was an air of foreboding in the room, as if something bad had really happened here, and Steve couldn't for the life of him remember what it was. He had no idea what had happened but he was going to make sure that he found out though, because he didn't like loose ends and this was clearly one of them.
`Mr McGarrett,' the lady doctor said, `we need your signature on this form,' she handed him a clipboard with a sheaf of papers and a blue pen, and he tried to make sense of the words on the form, but the words would not register with the processing centre of his brain, as the synapses refused to light up.
`What am I signing for?' he asked gently, not sure if he was going to like what she told him.
`Everything that you asked for,' she replied, `I'm very sorry for your loss, Mr McGarrett.'
He signed the form and she thanked him, before exiting the room as quickly as she could. Chin came in and sat down on one of the two other chairs in the room, and they stared blankly at the small window, where the sun was shining overhead brightly, the spiky palm tree lapping lazily in the breeze.
Suddenly he couldn't stand it, couldn't bear to be in this small cramped space, amongst the stench of disinfectant, the melancholy and desperation and hopelessness that clung like a thick velvet curtain around here. He knew a mad urge to wash the stench off him, to wash the sticky heat of that afternoon off himself, wash the dirt and grime and sweat that accumulated in the unrelenting heat of the Hawaiian summer.
He had to get away from here, as far as he possibly could.
So Steve grabbed the bottle of water from the table and wordlessly stepped out of the room, and headed home, completely missing the look of pained sympathy Chin gave him before he buried his face in his hands.
Life had continued on, grudgingly unrelenting, and Steve could no more put returning to work off than a mere mortal could stop the sun rising from the east, or the ebb and swell of the waves from breaking against the shore. It ground on, uncaring and utterly unconcerned with the sort of earnestness that Steve in other circumstances would hold in well regard.
He had solved a few cases since then, throwing himself into his work, throwing every last moment of consciousness into catching the bad, evil people. It was paying off; Hawaii was a safer place now and his notoriety had spread amongst the hoods on the coconut wireless that `Steve McGarrett was not to be reckoned with.'
He should have been happy, by why wasn't he?
By Christmas, he had dropped 2 stone and everyone was beginning to get worried. He refused the governor's arrangement for him to see a psychiatrist, blowing it off as `unwarranted concern.' He resolutely ignored Jenny's homemade lunches, and her increasingly desperate and vocal requests for him to eat more. He blew Ben off every Friday night when the Polynesian had offered to take him out for relaxation drinks after work.
He even told his hairdresser that he was giving up on the Tuesday weekly haircuts, and that now he was only going to come there when he really needed to.
Chin knew enough to leave him well alone, but Steve was getting really sick and tired of the pitied glances that he kept shooting him, wishing that the Detective could stop looking through him, rather than at him.
Everything came to a head on yet another sunny day as he pulled up into his parking space outside the Iolani Palace. The sense of loss was so strong and acute that he nearly rammed the Mercury head first into the stone wall as the air was knocked out of his lungs. It literally hit him like a freight train. He couldn't breathe under the weight on his chest, he was going to die at this stage and he could feel his hands shaking, mirroring the tremors coursing through his body.
On autopilot he stepped out of the Mercury and swaggered up the steps. People stared at him as pushed roughly past them as he headed up the staircase and finally relief flooded him when entered into the Five-O offices. At the sight he presented Jenny, Ben and Chin were up out of their seats and approaching him, their hands outstretched.
`Boss,' Jenny began.
`Enough!' he barked out, bristling at the way they were coddling him, `everyone, go back to what you were doing, right now! We have a lot of paperwork to get on top of. Now, I am not to be disturbed at all costs, is that understood?'
He glared at them until they couldn't meet his eyes, `yes, boss,' came the collective reply. The door shut with a resounding thud which reverberated in the small office. The three remaining people in the room looked at each other.
`This can't go on,' Jenny whispered after a few moments of silence, `he hasn't been the same since-'
No need to bring things like that up,' Ben said on top of Jenny, stopping her in her tracks.
Three pairs of eyes stared at the wooden door with `S. McGarrett' on it, wishing that they could break it down, and reach out to the man who desperately needed their help right now, right before he went off the deep end.
Which was only a matter of time.
That time came after a particularly traumatizing case that the Governor had refused to let the Five O team near, until Steve had burst into his office red faced and fairly radiating anger after he returned from the crime scene. Chin and Ben had known by now to give him a wide berth, as wide as he needed and Jenny had prepared a cup of calming chamomile tea for him, still steaming when he entered his office.
The victim was a young police officer fresh out of the Academy who had taken his lieutenant commander out for some drinks upon graduation from the academy. He had taken a bullet meant for his lieutenant commander and the sight of blood, so much blood and those unseeing blue eyes as clear as the sky on a sunny day and the mop of delicate golden curls had been too bloody much and before he knew it Steve was throwing up, throwing up the measly breakfast of a square of toast he had managed to keep down that morning, leaving him feeling wrung out and bone dry.
He was still seething when he entered his office and the door's hinges were lucidly loose with all the times the door had been slammed that he really didn't need to put that much effort into it, as he slammed it shut and locked it. The sight of the cup of steaming tea mortally offended him and he lifted it up and threw it at the wall, savouring the burn of the hot liquid as it trickled down onto his hand, hot enough to burn and the shattering of china against the wall and the shards of glass on the carpet.
He went back to his desk to sit down and pulled open the drawer where he had taken to keeping a silver flask of scotch in his office, when the exhaustion was too much to bear and he needed a quick sharp something to snap himself out of it.
It was becoming increasingly frequent. He resolutely ignored the dented and half empty bottle of water that rolled out from the depths of the drawer with the force as he pulled the drawer open. He slammed the drawer shut and sent ink flying every from the pot on his desk, the calligraphy pen send black trails across the stark white of the paper with the Five-O letterhead on it.
When he needed something to calm his nerves and sooth the rage that had been simmering near the surface for the past few weeks, the scotch was exactly what he needed. In the back of his mind as he lifted the flask to his mouth the soft white noise that was the concern of his colleagues replayed itself in Steve's mind, their voices a cacophony of pleas for him to speak to somebody, for him to stop drinking (Chin had even gone as far as alleging that Steve was becoming an alcoholic) for him to just stop this, stop everything that he was doing to himself.
To just stop, because it was the last thing that Danny would have wanted.
That name, those two syllables which hurt more than any thorn could, that had somehow become something significant and wonderful and comfortable, yet horrible, in the sense that they were driving him to the very edges of despair.
He savoured the burn of the alcohol as he took a swig straight from the bottle, doing his damned best to ignore those reproachful blue eyes that he knew would be staring at him, and the quirky mouth that would be turned down into a frown at him right now, only if they were here to see him.
Which they weren't.
Steve took another swig of his scotch as he stared at the corner of the desk that those blue eyes had oft stared at him with warmth and affection and-
He threw the empty flask at the wall with all his strength, feeling vicious satisfaction as it bounced on the wall, leaving a sizeable dent in the gyprock and landed close to the shattered remnants of the cup of tea Jenny had brought for him, and he buried his head in his hands as he fought off the urge to hyperventilate as the world squeezed down on him, and pain, fresh and raw as that fateful afternoon, came back to the fore, flooding his senses.
Steve stood on the precipice, staring down at the water churning past the jagged rocks below. The sun was setting over the magnificent waters of the ocean, which was shining iridescently in the late afternoon sun. The half-empty water bottle was clutched in his hand, the last tie he had to Danny, his last act of kindness.
His last act before death.
Steve finally felt at ease, as he took in the familiar scenery and breathed in the fresh air of the ocean breeze, and made his decision. He savoured the way the ocean breeze feels excellent on his heated skin, the hair whipping past his face.
He loved the way the sting of the salted ocean water was like heaven on his face, numbing all his hands and feet and the skin on his belly, as all sound cut out and the coolness seeped into his lungs, making him feel at one with ocean. The blessed silence, where he didn't have to think or feel or hurt anymore.
But most of all, he loved the way that the water streamed past his eyes, until he couldn't tell whether his eyes were stinging because of the salt, or because of the tears that he had finally allowed himself to cry.