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Chapter 3 – Day Three

Chin and Kono reappeared in the temporary command post at the airport as dawn was breaking, Kono carrying a large box of malasadas which he set down on the metal desk behind which the head of Five-O was already sitting.

“From Leonard’s—best on da island!” the Hawaiian detective said, offering one of the pastries to McGarrett, in the process liberally sprinkling the desk with sugar.

Steve took it, managing a small smile. He appreciated the closeness of the Five-O team, who, besides his sister on the mainland, were his only family. If anything happens to Danny, it will be a grievous loss to all of them, he thought, taking a bite, then abstractedly setting the remains down on top of a stack of computer printouts as Kono hurried over to his own commandeered desk to get up to speed on the morning’s developments.

The number of people in the office command post grew as the light outside strengthened. Simons arrived from his hotel to report that currently very delicate negotiations were underway with the country to the south of Curuguay about giving the hijackers permission to land, and that the Curuguayan officials categorically denied recognizing the sketch of “Diego Volver.” Steve’s friend Jonesey turned up with news that a pair of reconnaissance planes were being fueled and prepared and would launch at nine to check out the chosen atolls, an urn of better coffee, and a basket of fresh fruit.

At eight, a Mr. Harkness from Government Intelligence came looking for McGarrett. A tall, thin man wearing wire-rimmed glasses, he identified himself as an expert in the political situation in the area surrounding the hijackers’ country. Seating himself on a corner of Steve’s desk, he began, “Basically, Curuguay has a military dictatorship headed up by one Generalissimo Santiago, a ‘president for life’ type. It’s the kind of place where professing undying love for the benevolent leader gets you not shot.”

“So, who are the opposition?” asked the head of Five-O, getting up from his seat behind the desk to pace.

“There are a number of groups, naturally,” Harkness told him. “The United States nominally backs Santiago, and we believe the Communists, possibly the Chinese, are behind some of the rebel factions. There was a big dust-up a few years back when Santiago’s son split the country. He was in his father’s cabinet, and either gained too much popularity for the old man’s ego to take, or, as rumors have it, was actually angling for the top job.”

McGarrett stopped to look across the desk at Harkness. “Where did the son go?” he asked.

The Intelligence analyst reached into the open box on Steve’s desk for a malasada, examining it skeptically. “No one seems to know. Some people think he was killed, some that he escaped to Europe or the U.S.”

Steve perched on the edge of the desk and fished through papers to come up with the sketch of the lead hijacker. Passing it across to the Intelligence analyst, he asked, “Could this be him?”

Harkness studied it. “Who can say?” He took a bite of the pastry in his other hand. “The last reliable photograph we have of the son is five years old and shows him in standard banana republic dictator uniform with a cap down over his eyes. The name is suggestive, though. ‘Volver’ means ‘to return,’ and ‘Diego’…well, ‘San Diego’ and ‘Santiago’ are both Spanish formulations of ‘St. James.’ It could be a coincidence, it’s a common enough name, but....”

“Can you get me a copy of that old photograph?” McGarrett demanded. “I want to show it to the woman who sold the hijackers their tickets in Los Angeles, and to the HPD officers who went onboard the plane.”

“I’ll get it for you, but I warn you, it’s not very good,” answered Harkness, finishing his breakfast and getting to his feet.

Danny woke groggily as a shaft of sunlight through the small airplane window fell upon his face. He struggled painfully to a sitting position, looking around to see that Mrs. Miller was once again sitting beside him in the aisle. “So, we made it to another morning,” he observed. “How’s Carlton?”

“Still alive, still unconscious. I changed his IV an hour ago,” she answered. “How are you doing?”

“I can’t complain,” he said with a sketch of a smile.

She checked his injuries, then said, concerned, “Keep moving your fingers as much as possible. I’m getting worried about the state of your hands.”

“Don’t worry, there’s a fair chance I’ll never need them again,” Danny said grimly, wearily leaning his head against the back of the seat whose supports he was tied to.

“Mr. Williams, you were the one telling me to keep up hope earlier,” Mrs. Miller reproved him.

“I’m sorry, I think the pain is getting to me a bit,” he admitted. “And under the circumstances, do you think you could call me Danny?” he asked.

“I’m Lauren, Danny,” she said with a wavery smile. “I suppose nurses and cops both have to keep up a good front for others, however they feel inside.”

“Don’t worry, you’ll see your husband again. What’s his name?” Danny asked.

“Bob,” she answered, smiling shyly.

Danny looked at her, straightening from his crouched position as much as he could and attempting a reassuring smile. “So, what do you want to tell Bob when you see him again?”

“Oh...I don’t know,” she said, looking down at her hands and fidgeting with the gold band on her ring finger. “There are so many things—that meeting him was the best thing that ever happened to me, that I’ve been looking forward to our life together here more than anything, that I miss him so much....” She looked at Danny. “We were only together five months before he came out here to start the job, and we’ve been apart for the last month.”

“That must have been hard,” he said sympathetically. “How did you two meet? Was he a patient?”

“Oh, no,” she said, smiling. “We met at a party given by one of the doctors at my hospital. It was love at first sight, and in six months we were married. What about you, Danny? Where did you meet your girlfriend?”

“At work. It took me a while to realize and accept how I felt, and then I thought my feelings couldn’t possibly be returned, but then it...it all happened. The time we’ve been together, I’ve been happier than I could have imagined,” Danny said, smiling unconsciously. “All my life, I never realized what love could be like. But we’ve never actually said, ‘I love you’ to each other. I...I guess I always just assumed...and now....”

We didn’t even kiss goodbye, he thought unhappily. I should have made the move to do it, there in the office, or dropped by Steve’s place before I left for the airport, but I guess I wanted Steve to think it was important enough to make an exception for, and when he didn’t, I was too proud....

“You’ll get your chance. And don’t chicken out after you get out of here!” Lauren chided him.

“I won’t,” Danny assured her. Steve…if I could just talk to you one more time....

At ten yet another visitor arrived at the command post to see the head of Five-O. The regional vice president of United Airlines had flown in from California, bringing schematics, cockpit layouts, and Captain Connors, whom he introduced as “the best DC-8 pilot instructor on the West Coast.”

“Thank you, that’s exactly what I need,” McGarrett told him. “The hijackers are going to need a pilot before they leave, and I’m not sending in a real one. I don’t need to know how to actually fly the plane, just enough to convince them on the ground.”

“I think I can manage that,” said Connors. He glanced around the room, spying an open space. “If it’s OK, I’ll set up on that desk over there. Let me know when you’re ready for me.”

Steve thanked both men, directing them to the coffee urn sitting on the counter at one side of the room.

Paul Jones, who had been sitting on the corner of McGarrett’s desk drinking coffee during this conversation, stood and came to stand close to his old friend. “You’re going in as the pilot, huh?” he asked.

“Yes. I’m not leaving this to anyone else,” McGarrett said tersely.

“Steve...are you and Dan Williams...?” his friend asked softly.

“Yeah,” Steve answered dryly. “We are.” An expression of pain passed briefly over his features.

“I wondered, that night he came to your place while we were playing cards,” the Navy man observed, taking a swallow of coffee from his paper cup.

McGarrett gave him a sidelong look. “Nothing gets by you, does it?” he said ruefully.

“I’ve known you a long time, Steve. And I know you’ll get him out of there safely,” Jones reassured him with a pat on the arm.

“Thanks, Jonesey,” McGarrett told him. Everyone keeps telling me that. I wish I could be so confident. If I can’t save him, if they.... he refused to finish the thought. I’ll never forgive myself.

Kono re-entered the office, having gone down to check in with the HPD forces on the ground. McGarrett waved him over, calling, “Kono, I have a job for you.”

“Yes, Boss?” the big Hawaiian asked, hurrying across the room.

“You know Tanaka the printer, has a shop down on King?” Steve asked.

“Yeah, from what I hear he’s one of the best forgers in town,” Kono said, coming to stand in front of Steve’s temporary desk.

“I need you to take an order to him,” the head of Five-O instructed. “Pilot’s license, United crew ID. Get my picture from the Five-O files.”

“What if he says to take a hike?” his detective asked.

McGarrett gave a wry smile. “Suggest to him that if he does this for us you might not need to inspect his back room for worker safety violations. And it’s a rush job—I want it by tonight.”

“OK, Boss,” Kono said. “What name do you want?”

Jones broke in. “They won’t believe you’d send a civilian pilot. But they might buy that you’d use an ex-Navy volunteer who really worked for United.” He reached into his pocket for his wallet. “Use my name, and take whatever cards and such you need from here. And borrow my ring.” He slipped off his Annapolis class ring and handed it and the wallet to McGarrett. “You couldn’t use yours—it’d be too risky to carry anything at all with your own name on it.”

“Jonesey...thanks,” Steve said, passing the wallet to Kono and carefully putting the ring into his pocket.

“Maybe he doesn’t know you to look at, but won’t he recognize your voice from the radio?” worried Kono.

“Well, ya’ll know lots a’ pilots hail from our great western states,” drawled McGarrett. “Somethin’ about the ac-cent is sure soothin’ to thuh average passenjuh.”

Chin, who had come up to the desk during this interchange carrying a stack of files couldn’t smother a laugh. “Steve, I didn’t know you had it in you!” he exclaimed.

Danny, once again sitting in the crouch that was the most upright position he could manage with his hands bound to the seat support, was listening to another argument between the hijackers, all of whom but Fernandez were gathered in the cockpit doorway. It had now been more than forty-eight hours since the hijacking.

Garcia was saying something complicated in excited Spanish, from which the weary detective could only pick out “piloto” and “McGarrett.”

Apparently Williams was not the only one having a problem. “Hey, man, when you go that fast I can’t follow you!” the fourth hijacker exclaimed in English.

“I said,” Garcia said, speaking English with exaggerated patience, “We have the fuel we need. Now we demand a pilot, and go to the rendezvous. I do not like waiting around while this McGarrett thinks up some plan!”

“What makes you think anyone will still be waiting at the meeting place? This has been all over the news. I’m sure they were radioed to split!” said the English-speaking hijacker.

“No! The plan was that as long as we had control of the plane, they’d wait for us,” insisted Garcia.

“And you believe that?” Diego broke in scornfully. “I say we go to the country to the south of Curuguay, and I’m in charge here, so that’s what we’re going to do!” He stalked down the aisle, giving Danny a vicious kick in the midsection on his way past to vent his frustration.

Danny grunted in pain, doubling over to lie behind the front row of seats, trying to catch his breath.

Lauren Miller came hurrying up the aisle from where she had been attending to the injured Captain Carlton in the rear of the plane, glaring at Diego as she brushed past him. “Danny,” she exclaimed in distress, kneeling beside the Five-O detective.

“I’m...OK.” He straightened up again, wincing. He closed his eyes and leaned his head on the back of the seat in front of him.

“He didn’t need to do that!” she exclaimed indignantly.

“I think it’s more that he wanted to do it,” Danny observed, opening his eyes and giving her a wry smile. He cast about for a conversational topic to distract them. “So, tell me,” he asked, “Why did you decide to be a nurse?”

“Oh, the usual reasons, I suppose,” she told him, arranging her skirt over her folded legs as she sat in the aisle. “I wanted to do something worthwhile, something to help people. Some of my friends thought I just wanted to meet a rich, handsome doctor and get married, but I can’t imagine feeling that way. Bob wants me to keep working. He said my job is a part of me, and that he fell in love with the whole package.” She gave a little sniff, and blotted her eyes on her sleeve. “I’m sorry,” she said, “It’s just that thinking about him....”

“I’d offer you my handkerchief, but I think Steve McGarrett has it,” Danny said with a smile.

She sniffed again, smiling back. “So, Danny, how did you end up working for Mr. McGarrett at Five-O?” she asked.

“Well, I started out as a psychology major,” he said. “That got me interested in criminal psychology, and...I guess like you I wanted to do something to help people. I transferred to U. C. Berkeley and switched to police science, and after I graduated I came back home to Honolulu. Steve hired me to be his partner at Five-O when I’d only been on the force a few years. He...he said I had the makings of a good cop. I think he wanted someone he could train from scratch to do things his way,” he told her.

“He sounds kind of intimidating,” she said.

“I was terrified when I started.” Danny admitted, thinking back to that day. “And then he made me his second-in-command when I’d only been at Five-O for a year. He holds all of us to a high standard, but he’s fair, and I’ve come to realize he’s hardest on himself. And if anything happens to one of us, there’s no one better to have in your corner. He trusts us to do our jobs, too. When he leaves me in charge, he doesn’t second-guess my decisions. He always gives credit where it’s due, and his encouragement means a lot to me,” he said, unconsciously smiling.

“He clearly trusts you a great deal. And you trust him to get us out of this,” Lauren said, finding Danny’s smile infectious.

“If anyone can, it’s Steve. I just hope....” Danny trailed off. I hope in the process I don’t lose the man I can’t live without. “I hope this can be resolved peacefully,” he substituted aloud.

It was early afternoon. McGarrett was pacing the small amount of space available in the temporary command center, waiting for the results of the atoll flyovers. He wished he had his lanai here, or at least a window, but he didn’t want to leave the office in case the air station called.

The phone on his desk rang. Eagerly picking up the receiver and saying, “McGarrett,” he was surprised to hear Jenny’s voice on the other end.

“Steve, I have a call for you. The gentleman won’t give his name, but he was very insistent that you’d want to talk to him,” she said.

“Okay, Jenny, put him on,” Steve told her. I hope it’s not some nut...that would be just what I need now.... he thought.

There was a click, and then, “Good afternoon, Mr. McGarrett,” the person on the other end of the line said in suave, familiar tones. “Do you remember my voice?”

As though I could ever forget it, McGarrett thought. “Hello, Wo Fat,” he answered smoothly. “To what do I owe the honor?”

“Am I correct in surmising that the Naval aircraft that passed over my countrymen’s boat this morning were there on your orders?” the Chinese agent inquired.

“You can surmise anything you like,” the head of Five-O responded, perching on the edge of his desk.

“I’m doing you a favor, Mr. McGarrett,” Steve’s old adversary told him. “You can inform your hijackers that they can now expect no assistance from that quarter.”

“Now, why would you want to do me a favor?” McGarrett asked skeptically.

“Of course because I abhor waste and unnecessary bloodshed. And because, while these men were inept and careless, if they arrived only to find us gone it would create a more permanent breach between my masters and certain forces in their country than seems desirable,” Wo Fat answered.

“I see,” Steve said.

“Oh, and one more thing,” the Chinese agent said. “I did not intend this hijacking to be so...personal for you, Mr. McGarrett. Mr. Williams’ presence on the plane was purely accidental. I wish you luck in securing his safe return.”

“I’ll just bet you do,” the head of Five-O said drily.

“Goodbye, Mr. McGarrett,” came the voice over the phone.

“Aloha, Wo Fat,” he responded crisply, replacing the receiver.

McGarrett stood up from the desk. “Now, we’re getting somewhere!” he exclaimed to no one in particular.

He picked up the phone and, referring to the list of numbers beside it, dialed Barber’s Point Naval Air Station. “Yes, this is Steve McGarrett. I need to speak to Captain Jackson,” he told the female voice on the other end.

“One moment, please,” she said.

After a brief pause, a voice came. “McGarrett? Jackson here. I was about to call you. Our pilots radioed in that they saw a large unidentified vessel moored near your first target.”

“That’s what I wanted to hear!” Steve exclaimed. “Thank you, Captain, for your assistance.”

“What the Admiral wants, he gets, and apparently in his book you’re alright,” Jackson told him. “Good luck, McGarrett, and I’m glad we could help.”

Steve replaced the phone receiver and surveyed the room. The man he sought was nowhere in sight. “Chin!” he called over to the adjacent desk occupied by the Five-O detective.

“Yes, Steve?” Kelly said, hurrying over.

“Track down Simons and tell him that he has until sunset to find someone from the country to the south of Curuguay to talk to the hijackers, otherwise I’m going to invent one, diplomatic incident or no!” the head of Five-O commanded.

Leaving an HPD officer in charge of the phone and radio, McGarrett crossed the room to learn the ins and outs of the DC-8 from Captain Connors.

Once again Steve watched the Hawaii sunset soften the angular landscape of concrete and metal outside the terminal window. Much closer now than before, the United plane gleamed, a sleek, beautiful captive. Hang in there, Danno, he thought. Everything I can think of to do has been done, and it should all be over by this time tomorrow. One way or another....

His grim reverie was interrupted by Chin Ho Kelly appearing at his elbow.

“Simons just called to report. We’re all set, Steve,” he informed his boss. “Here are the details,” he added, offering him a handwritten sheet.

McGarrett quickly scanned the paper, then wheeled and hurried back to the command post, where Kono and the various other agency representatives were standing around his desk expectantly.

Setting the report down on the desktop, he stood behind the desk facing the waiting semicircle. Taking a deep breath, he picked up the radio mic. “McGarrett to Diego Volver. McGarrett to Diego Volver.”

“Diego here. Do you have something for me, McGarrett?” came the unpleasantly familiar voice.

“I have a message for you from an old adversary of mine,” Steve said blandly. “He said to tell you that your friends waiting at Johnson Atoll found things a bit too hot there and took off. I believe his exact words were that ‘you can now expect no assistance from that quarter.’ ”

There was a long pause.

“Are you still there, Mr. Volver?” the head of Five-O asked, sitting down on the edge of the desk.

“Yes. I have no idea what you’re talking about, McGarrett,” Diego said, his voice not as confident as his words. “Now, have you arranged safe passage for us to the country to the south of ours, or would you like to hear Detective Williams scream?”

Steve clenched his jaw, forcing his voice to remain calm. “The State Department has made an agreement with the foreign minister of that country to allow you to land. He will call at eight PM Honolulu time to discuss the necessary arrangements with you.”

“Very well. Obviously, we further need a pilot,” Diego continued.

“The deal is that if you want a pilot, you release the hostages first,” McGarrett informed him.

“If we release the hostages, we have no leverage with the pilot. We can’t shoot him, because we need him to fly the plane,” the hijacker said reasonably.

“You want me to send in the pilot with nothing in return? No dice,” snapped the head of Five-O, leaning intensely over the radio. “Send the hostages out first.”

“And then if you have sent a cop, instead of a pilot? I don’t think so. Here is my compromise. As soon as it becomes light tomorrow morning, so I can see any tricks you might be up to, we begin. I will send out the women and children first, as a gesture of good will. You send in the pilot. Then I send out the men,” Diego proposed. “I’ll keep your Mr. Williams. He’s in no shape to give me any trouble,” he said with a snicker.

Steve’s knuckles whitened on the microphone, and out of the corner of his eye he saw Kono make an involuntary move towards the radio, gently restrained by Chin.

Diego was continuing, “Now, about the pilot. I know you’ll send a...what is the English term? Ah, yes, a ‘ringer’ if you can, so here’s how it will work. After the women and children are off the plane, the pilot will come up the stairs alone. We’ll open the door and let him in, then close the door behind him. We’ll examine his credentials and take him to the cockpit to perform the preflight preparations. If he appears to be who he seems, we’ll re-open the door and release all the hostages except Williams.”

“The door stays open until all the hostages are out,” McGarrett stipulated.

There was a pause, then his adversary’s voice came from the radio once more. “Agreed. But only if we see no one anywhere near the plane. No cops, no soldiers, no press, no medics. I want all people and vehicles against the wall of the terminal building, no closer.”

Steve looked up at the little cluster of his assembled forces standing at one corner of the desk, giving them a half smile. Chin looked cautiously pleased, Kono determined, and Duke impassive as ever. This is what we hoped for. Having the door open will give us a fighting chance, anyway, he thought. Turning his attention back to the radio, he raised the mic and demanded, “What about the pilot, Carlton?”

“He can come out with the women, but they’ll have to carry him,” the hijacker said. “You sent in a stretcher as part of the medical supplies earlier; they can use that.”

“Can all the other passengers make it out under their own power?” McGarrett asked.

“Yes, Williams is the only one in bad shape, and he won’t be coming out,” Diego said with an unpleasant note in his voice.

Steve struggled to keep his voice even. “When will you release Williams and the pilot?”

“When we arrive at the country south of Curuguay and are convinced our welcome is genuine. Then they can go free,” said the voice from the radio. “Well, Mr. McGarrett, do you accept my terms?”

There was a pause.

“Agreed,” Steve snapped. “McGarrett out.”

“Do you think they’d actually let you go?” asked Carstairs, the FBI man, lounging against the edge of Steve’s desk.

“Not a chance,” said the head of Five-O, shaking his head. “The agreement with the foreign minister of the country south of Curuguay was to tell the hijackers they’d give them safe passage, under the condition that we keep it to ourselves. They adamantly refused to actually do anything that might anger Santiago.”

“Oh,” Carstairs said soberly.

Danny and Lauren listened raptly to the radio interchange as it came over the plane’s PA system. When it was over, the Five-O detective observed with a half smile, “Well, it looks like you’re getting out, anyway. And hopefully it will be in time for Captain Carlton.”

“Oh, Danny, do you think they’ll actually let you go when you get there?” Lauren said anxiously.

“Sure,” he lied. “They’ll have no reason to keep us.”

“I was thinking about what you said...about what things we’d tell our loved ones if we got out. Would you like me to carry a note out for your girlfriend? You could tell her that you love her just...just in case,” she suggested.

“Would you?” he asked. “I...well, it would mean a lot to me. I have a notebook and pencil in my pocket over there,” he said, painfully turning his head to look over at the seat where the hijacker had tossed his jacket. “I’m afraid I have to ask you to write for me—my hands aren’t any use like this.”

Lauren went to fetch Danny’s jacket, then returned to sit beside him in the aisle. “Danny, I hate to think of you all alone on the plane with the hijackers,” she said, near tears.

“Don’t worry, I’ll be alright,” he assured her. Steve won’t let them take off with me on board, he’ll know that’s a death warrant. And he’d never let them kidnap another pilot. So this will be his attempt to take the plane. At least it will all be over soon...Steve, please be careful! he thought as Mrs. Miller extracted the notebook and pencil from his jacket pocket.

“Okay, I’m ready. Go ahead,” she told him.

Danny cleared his throat, feeling suddenly self-conscious.

“Just imagine you’re talking to her,” Lauren suggested.

“Okay....” He took a deep breath. “ ‘To the one who means more to me than anything else in the world’,” he began. “ ‘As I wait here on this airplane, my biggest regret is that I never told you that I love you. I guess I always thought you knew, but I’m sorry that I didn’t have the guts to actually say the words. I hope I’ll get the chance to tell you in person, but…but in case I don’t, I wanted to say it here.’ ” He watched as Lauren wrote.

She looked up from the page. “What next?”

He continued, “ ‘I am so glad that you chose not to come on this trip. I know I’ll see you soon, but if things go wrong I don’t want you to blame yourself or feel any guilt about whatever happens. Please, please take care of yourself.’ ”

Lauren was crying. “Danny....”

“Please sign it, ‘Love, Danny’,” he told her.

She fished a kleenex out of her pocket and blew her nose, then finished the note.

“It’ll be okay,” he said, trying to convince them both.

“Who should I give this to?” she asked, wiping at her eyes.

“Give it to Steve McGarrett. He’ll know who it’s for,” Williams answered.

She tore off the sheet, folded it, and tucked it into her pocket.

McGarrett paced the midnight hallways of the empty terminal, trying to think of anything else he could do to make their plan more likely to succeed. Chin Ho Kelly once again stopped him as he passed the entrance to the corridor leading to the office command post.

“Steve, everything’s ready,” Chin reported. “The only thing left is for you to get some rest.”

“You’re right.” The head of Five-O tried to smile. He didn’t want to admit even to himself that the reason he wasn’t crashed on a cot right now was that he was afraid of the dream. It was all just a terrible mistake. He shuddered. “You, too, Chin,” he said, turning to his detective. “Go home and get a few hours of sleep. I want us all ready to go at dawn.”

“You want me to stop by your place and get you a change of clothes?” the Chinese detective asked.

“Yeah. One way or another I’m going to have to face the press tomorrow.” Steve took his keys from his pocket and detached a pair from the ring, handing them to Chin Ho. “Could you bring my silver cufflinks? They’re in a box in the top right drawer of my dresser.” Danny’s gift to me on our first anniversary...some small connection to him.

“Of course, Steve,” Kelly said, his face full of compassion.

“Thanks, Chin, I appreciate that,” his boss told him, giving him a pat on the shoulder.

McGarrett checked in with the skeleton crew in the office, then went to lay down on his cot. A blanket, a pillow, clean clothes, he thought as he drifted towards sleep. And in the morning I’ll take a shower in the crew locker room. Luxuries Danny doesn’t have. Danny....

Danny walked into the room with Chin, dressed for a day off in an aloha shirt and slacks. He gave Steve a sunny smile.

“Danny? You can’t be here, you’re on the plane,” Steve said, sitting up on his cot.

Chin answered, “Great news, Steve! It was all just a terrible mistake! Now, I’ll leave you two alone,” he said with a wink, closing the door behind him.

“Danno?” Steve asked in bewilderment. “You can’t be here. We’re at the airport...the hijacking....” He felt he was losing touch with reality.

Danny was sitting next to him on the cot with his arms around Steve’s neck, pressing gentle kisses down the side of his face—the corner of his eye, the side of his jaw—then he covered Steve’s mouth with his own.

Steve gave up caring what was real and what wasn’t, and kissed Danny in return, pressing him back against the cot. He unbuttoned his partner’s shirt, kissing his way down Danny’s chest. He worked his way over to one nipple and caressed it with his tongue, at the same time moving his hand down to stroke Danny through the fabric of the khaki slacks he wore.

“Steve....” Danny moaned.

“Steve. Steve, you said to wake you at four,” Chin said, a hand on Steve’s shoulder, gently shaking him.

“But....” McGarrett said, disoriented. You said it was all just a terrible mistake. The blow didn’t hurt any less the second time, even though he’d seen it coming. He passed his hand over his eyes to hide his feelings and, forcing his voice to be steady, said, “I’m...I’m going to grab a quick shower, then I’ll be in.”

“I brought your clothes,” Chin told him, hooking the hangers onto a wall peg. “The cufflinks are in your jacket pocket.”

“Thanks. I appreciate that.” Steve managed to sketch his detective a half smile, then went to get ready.

Danny and Lauren Miller sat on the aircraft floor watching the light outside gradually strengthen in a mixture of anticipation and apprehension.

There was increasing activity outside and on the cockpit radio as preparations were made for the hostage exchange.

“Lauren...I just wanted to thank you for everything,” the young detective said, turning to face her as well as he could.

“I wish I could have done more for you,” she said unhappily.

“You made the experience almost bearable,” Danny said with a plausible version of his usual smile. He found that the lack of food and sleep was combining with the constant pain to make him feel increasingly light-headed.

“I’m glad I met you, Danny Williams,” she said solemnly. “Will I see you when you get back to Honolulu?”

“I promise,” he told her.

There was a gentle thump as the air stairs touched the plane’s hull. Over the radio they heard Diego ordering the listeners in the command post, “Okay, now get everyone away from the stairs. Right back against the terminal building!”

Fernandez was gathering the female passengers, lining them up in the aisle. “Women and children, the front of the plane,” he called. “Men in the back.”

“Danny....” Lauren began.

“Go,” he told her firmly. “Say ‘Hi’ to Bob for me. And look after Captain Carlton.”

She put a hand on his arm. “I’ll give Mr. McGarrett your note. I’m sure you’ll be together soon.”

“I know I’ll see him once more, anyway,” Danny said. Steve, I know you’ll come for me, and I know the sort of chances you take. Please, please be careful, he thought desperately.

“Hey you, nurse, get over here and help with the pilot,” ordered Fernandez.

“Take care, Danny,” she said, leaning down to give him a kiss on the cheek.

“You, too, Lauren,” he said, watching as she stood and went to bend over the stretcher carrying the unconscious pilot.

Garcia swung the handle down, then pushed, swinging the aircraft door open. Diego stood in front the cockpit door holding a gun loosely pointed at the exit, while Juan herded the departing passengers from behind and Fernandez, with the other gun, watched over the male passengers gathered in the back of the plane.

Lauren Miller directed operations as the plane’s stewardesses formed up around the stretcher on which Captain Carlton lay motionless. They moved slowly towards the door, the tall blonde Gracie giving Danny a worried look and a hopeful wave, and then through it, Lauren holding the IV bag high. The rest of the women followed, some of them crying as they called goodbyes to their loved ones left on board, until Garcia angrily ordered silence.

Danny struggled into the most upright position he could, fighting against the swimming in his head. It can’t be long now before I see Steve. He’ll wait for the pilot to be brought on board and the male passengers sent out, then I’m sure he’ll make his move. I suppose they’ll send a military pilot, he speculated.

After the last of the women filed out the door, everyone waited tensely.

“The pilot is coming,” called Garcia, looking cautiously outside.

“Garcia, take the gun from Fernandez and hold it on Williams!” ordered Diego. “Juan, you go wait with the passengers in the back.”

Garcia fetched the gun from his compatriot and came to sit on the arm of the seat Danny was crouched in front of, reaching down to press the barrel to the back of the detective’s head.

A tall figure eclipsed the light in the doorway. Danny peered between the seats in front of him and saw Steve, in a United pilot’s uniform, looking grim, resolute, and impossibly handsome. He quickly looked down, afraid that the hijackers would see the recognition on his face.

Steve McGarrett stepped through the airplane door and looked around, seeing two men with guns, one by the cockpit door, and the other sitting behind...Danny. Danny’s eyes were aimed away from him, but Steve could see that his partner’s white shirt was splashed with dark bloodstains, and his face was bruised and swollen. He looks rough, but he’s alive! Steve thought, his heart leaping. No time to think about that now....

The hijacker by the cockpit door gestured with the gun, ordering a third, unarmed man, “Fernandez. Take off his jacket and search him. Be thorough.” McGarrett recognized the gunman’s voice as that of the leader, Diego.

“Turn around!” Fernandez ordered McGarrett.

Steve complied. The hijacker grabbed his jacket by the collar and roughly pulled it off, tossing it over one of the first row seats, then shoved him up against the cabin wall and patted him down, pulling his wallet out of his pocket.

“No weapons,” Fernandez reported.

“Look in the wallet,” instructed Diego.

Flipping through the contents Fernandez read off, “Pilot’s license, United crew ID, Hawaii driver’s license. The name is ‘Paul Jones.’ There is also a department store credit card, a library card, and some money.”

“What’s that ring he’s wearing?” the lead hijacker demanded. “It looks military.”

Fernandez grabbed Steve’s hand and pulled off his borrowed ring. “United States Naval Academy,” he read, then held the ring up to the light coming through the open door. “It’s inscribed inside with the name ‘Paul Jones’.”

“So, Captain Jones, you were a Navy man?” Diego asked.

“Ah guess ah was,” McGarrett replied in his assumed drawl.

Diego nodded to Fernandez, who tossed Steve back the ring.

“As long as you know how to fly this plane, I don’t care where you came from,” Diego told the head of Five-O. “Just remember, any heroics and there will be cop brains all over first class.”

Steve risked a glance at Danny, still looking down with the hijacker’s gun held against his curly hair, and felt a wave of fury rising. Not yet. After they release the other passengers and I get them to take the gun off him. Then.... he thought fiercely.

The lead hijacker also looked in Danny’s direction. “Garcia! Any activity outside?” he demanded.

“Nothing. Everyone is back against the terminal as you told them,” the hijacker with the gun reported, peering out the window.

“Good,” Diego said with satisfaction, then turned to McGarrett, ordering, “Get into the cockpit and start your preparations.” He followed Steve into the cockpit, holding the gun on him.

The head of Five-O sat in the pilot’s seat and started flipping switches as Captain Connor had taught him. He checked the flaps and hydraulics, then continued down the list, Diego watching him closely. McGarrett asked him, “Shall I start the engines?”

“No. Wait until we get the rest of the hostages off and the door closed. I don’t want anyone sneaking up on us in the noise.” He stuck his head out of the cockpit to order, “Fernandez! Juan! Send out the men.”

McGarrett monitored their progress out of the corner of the wrap- around cockpit windows while continuing the preflight checks. When the last of the passengers could be seen hurrying across the tarmac, he flipped a switch, activating a warning light. He frowned, tapping at it, and toggled another switch back and forth, but the light stayed lit.

“Excuse me,” he said to Diego. “Is there any reason the rear cargo door should be open? Ahm gettin’ a warnin’ light.”

“The cargo door? Is there an entrance to the cargo area from inside the plane?” the hijacker demanded.

Steve climbed out of his seat, facing the cockpit door. He pointed down the length of the plane, saying, “Sure is, back in the tail.”

Diego swore in Spanish, then exclaimed, “McGarrett! I should have known he would plan something. I’m going to check out the cargo door.” He ran out of the cockpit, calling, “Garcia, come watch Jones! You, Jones, stay here!”

The man who had been pointing the gun at Danny came to stand in the cockpit door, while their leader ran toward the rear of the plane, followed by the two unarmed men.

As Garcia turned to watch his compatriots’ progress down the aisle of the plane McGarrett leapt on him, slamming the hijacker’s gun hand into the doorframe until he dropped the weapon, then giving him a couple of sharp punches.

Diego turned to run back up the aisle, shoving past Fernandez and firing at McGarrett as the head of Five-O dove for Garcia’s dropped gun. He came up with it and returned fire, hitting Diego squarely in the chest. The hijacker collapsed in the aisle as Garcia jumped on Steve from behind. McGarrett threw him off and knocked him to the ground with a punch. He grabbed the hijacker by his shirt collar and, kneeling over him, repeatedly slammed his fists into Garcia’s face, all the frustration, anxiety, and adrenaline of the past three days coming together with the sight of him pointing a gun at Danny’s head to give Steve the overwhelming desire to kill the man with his bare hands.

Steve was only dimly aware of the fact that Kono and Duke, having heard the shots, had burst in through the aircraft door from their place of concealment under the stairs. Kono quickly ducked behind the first row of seats and shot Fernandez, who had scooped up Diego’s gun where it had fallen from his lifeless hand and was aiming it at Steve. The hijacker crumpled, clutching his leg and screaming.

As Kono ran to pick up Fernandez’s dropped gun, Duke grabbed Steve’s shoulder and pulled him off the now-unconscious Garcia. “Steve! It’s over! We’ve got them,” he told the head of Five-O, who was breathing hard, his knuckles bloodied.

McGarrett got to his feet and took in his surroundings. Diego lay dead. Fernandez was on his side in the aisle, groaning and clutching his leg, and the fourth hijacker, whatever his name was, was cowering in a row of seats towards the rear of the plane with his hands in the air begging, “Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!”

“Kono! Book them!” McGarrett ordered. “Duke! Get an ambulance crew to take care of these two,” he ordered, indicating the wounded Fernandez and Garcia.

Now that everything seemed to be more or less under control, Steve was finally free to do what he’d been longing to for the past three horrible days. He reached his partner in two steps and dropped to his knees beside him in the aisle.

“Danny! Danno, are you okay?” he demanded, taking his partner by the shoulders and looking him over.

“I am now, Steve,” Danny said, smiling up at him.

Steve looked down to work on freeing his partner, then stopped in horror. “Danny, your hands....”

“Yeah. They’ve got me tied with wire. The stuff around my wrists is pretty tight,” the younger man explained.

McGarrett looked down the aisle. The complement of law enforcement on the plane was rapidly increasing, and uniformed HPD officers seemed to have the conscious hijackers well in hand. “Kono!” he called to his detective. “Find a toolkit somewhere. I need wire cutters!” As the big Hawaiian hurried off in search of the required implement, Steve worked the wire holding Danny’s wrists to the seat anchor loose and unwound the length binding his ankles.

“I knew...I knew you’d come for me. I’m so glad you weren’t shot,” Danny said, leaning his head on McGarrett’s shoulder.

“Danny....” Steve began, his voice unsteady. Unable to continue in words, he wrapped his arms around his partner and held him close, until they were interrupted by Kono hurrying back up the stairs onto the plane.

“Here, Boss, I found some wire cutters!” Kono exclaimed, passing them over. He looked down, and his eyes widened. “Danny, you’re a mess, bruddah!”

“It’s nice to see you, too, Kono,” Williams said with a smile.

“Boss, you want I should help Danny down to da ambulance?” Kono offered.

“No, I’ll take care of that,” Steve said firmly. “Help Duke, then find the hijackers’ hand luggage and send it to the lab.”

“Okay, Boss,” Kono said, crossing to Garcia, who was sitting up and groaning.

Chin appeared in the aircraft doorway. “Danny!” he exclaimed, beaming, then, taking in the young detective’s battered appearance, added, “You look pretty bad.”

“So I hear,” Williams said with a wry smile.

“Chin, you’re in charge of the scene here,” McGarrett instructed the Chinese detective. “We’ll need to identify and search the hijackers’ luggage, and get photos of all four of them, since we still don’t know who they really are.”

“Will do, Steve,” Chin said, giving Danny a last happy look before exiting the plane.

McGarrett, holding the wire cutters Kono had given him, looked at Danny’s wrists. “Are you sure you don’t want to wait and have a doctor do this? he asked seriously.

“No, I want it off now,” his partner told him firmly.

“I’m afraid this is going to hurt. It’s cut pretty deep,” Steve warned him.

He worked the wire cutters under the wire where Danny’s wrists crossed and cut through. Then, steeling himself, he peeled the wire strands from the flesh as gently as he could.

Danny inhaled sharply once as the wire began to tear free, then closed his eyes and clenched his jaw determinedly.

“It’s OK to yell, Danno,” Steve said into his ear.

“What, in front of ‘Steve McGarrett, Man of Iron’,” his partner answered with an attempt at a smile.

“Just flesh and blood,” Steve said softly.

Danny, reminded of a precious memory in a hospital room, did smile at that.

McGarrett finished unwinding the wire, tossing it aside. “Can you move your fingers at all?” he asked, concerned.

“A bit,” Danny said, making the attempt, then crying “Ahh!” unable to hold back as feeling returned to his hands. “God, Steve....” he said through clenched teeth, sweat standing out on his face.

“Easy, Danny, easy.” McGarrett had his arms around his partner once again, holding him close, their little tableau untouched by the controlled chaos going on around them. Kono reappeared, giving Steve and Danny a look in passing as he led a group of airline ground crew down the aisle, followed soon thereafter by Chin with a retinue of lab technicians.

After a time, Danny relaxed somewhat. “Okay...it’s not so bad now,” he said, taking a deep breath.

“Can you stand?” McGarrett asked.

“I think so, if you give me a hand.”

Steve stood up, helping his partner to his feet.

“Let’s get out of here. Can I lean on you?” Danny asked.

“Always, Danno,” Steve said softly, putting an arm around his partner’s shoulders. Together they made their way to the aircraft door and stepped through. As they paused at the top of the stairs, blinking in the bright sunlight, McGarrett looked down to find that someone had let the press through the barriers around the plane and that they had wasted no time in setting up an array of cameras. “Smile, Danno,” he said. “I’m afraid we’re going to be the front-page picture on every newspaper in the islands tomorrow.”

“I hope they get my good side. The one I can see out of,” his partner rejoined.

As they limped their way down the stairs, Steve was glad to see Duke run over from the cluster of cars next to the terminal building, bringing HPD officers to keep the press back and let the two detectives pass through, the reporters’ shouted questions washing over them. They made it to the cluster of assembled emergency vehicles waiting beside the terminal building, pausing in the shelter of an army truck.

“We need to get you checked out by the docs. Can you stand?” Steve asked.

“Yeah, my legs are fine now that I’ve stretched them a bit. I just wanted an excuse not to let go of you for a bit,” Danny said sheepishly.

“Me, too,” Steve admitted.

They stood for a last precious moment holding each other. Then Steve escorted Danny over to a waiting ambulance, reluctantly relinquishing him to the attentions of the white-coated attendants while hovering nearby.

A small Asian doctor seated the injured detective on the back deck of the ambulance. “Have you experienced any nausea, or blurred vision?” he asked, gently examining the cut on Danny’s temple.

“No, just a bit of a headache,” Williams reported.

“These cuts on your wrists are fairly deep, and your hands are swollen. Wiggle your fingers?” the doctor requested.

Danny did so, wincing. “Lauren...Mrs. Miller told me to keep moving them as much as I could,” he said.

“Who is Mrs. Miller?” asked Steve, leaning on the side of the ambulance and carefully monitoring the proceedings.

“One of the other passengers was a nurse,” Danny explained. “She helped Captain Carlton and me as much as the hijackers would allow. She’s a remarkable young woman...I owe her a lot.”

The doctor looked up at McGarrett. “He should have a more thorough exam to rule out more serious problems with the head wound and check for nerve damage in his hands, and he needs the cuts on his wrists taken care of.”

“Okay, doc, but I don’t need an ambulance,” Danny insisted, standing. He walked back towards their previous haven behind the parked truck as though to distance himself from the possibility, his partner at his heels. “What I really need is a shower and a change of clothes.”

Steve looked around. “Kono!” he called, having spotted his detective talking to a ground crew member next to a cart loaded with what looked like hand luggage.

Kono waved, then turned to gather a few items from the cart before hurrying over. “Yes, Boss?” he asked as he arrived, slightly out of breath. “I found the hijackers’ bags and sent them to Che in the lab. The airline is gonna take care of sending the passengers’ things to them,” he reported. “Also, I got your and Danny’s stuff here,” he said, displaying the items in question.

“Thanks, Kono,” Steve said, accepting his wallet and the borrowed pilot’s jacket from his detective. He continued, “I’d like you to look after Danno. Drive him to the hospital, then take him home so he can wash up. Afterwards, if he’s feeling up to it, bring him to Five-O.”

“I can drive myself back to Five-O,” Danny protested.

“Not with your hands like that,” his boss said firmly. “Besides, that crowd of vultures will probably be waiting on the steps, and I’d like you to have an escort.”

“Let me drive you, bruddah!” Kono requested earnestly, beaming at his friend. “I’ll go get my car and pull it ’round here.” He hurried off.

Steve turned to his partner. “I’m sorry, Danno, you know I’d do it myself, but I can’t just leave this zoo to Chin. I wish....” he said, looking around in frustration at the activity surrounding them.

“It’s OK, Steve, I understand.” Danny smiled at him.

All I’ve asked for these past three days was to see that smile again, even one more time. I’ve regretted so many things—that I didn’t put him first, that I let the job get in the way, that I didn’t even kiss him goodbye...and now that I have him back, I still can’t do any better, Steve thought bitterly, shaking his head, his jaw clenched in anger at himself.

“Steve....” Danny began, moving to stand close to him in lieu of reaching out with his damaged hands.

He was interrupted by the sudden appearance of Duke Lukela, presumably tipped off to their location by Kono. “Steve! The hijackers are all in custody,” he reported crisply.

“Thanks, Duke,” McGarrett said. “I’ll be heading back to the Palace shortly, so send anyone who needs to see me there.”

“Will do,” Lukela reported impassively, then added, “It’s nice to see you on your feet, Danny,” his face transformed by a rare smile as he turned to head towards the terminal building.

Danny had turned back to Steve and opened his mouth to speak again when a familiar black car pulled up in front of them with a flourish. “Steve, don’t look like that,” he said in response to his partner’s expression as Kono jumped out of the car. “I’ll see you soon.”

“Soon, Danno,” McGarrett said softly to himself as the car drove off, feeling an irrational pang at letting his partner out of his sight, and a surge of weariness as the adrenaline of the rescue wore off, but over everything, joy at the knowledge that they would have time, now, to erase the regrets.

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