Danny Williams pulled his apartment door shut, allowing it to close with a slight snap. The compact, sandy-haired detective strode down the corridor toward the elevators, with a lightness in his step and a broad grin on his face that together spelled one thing: Danny was in a terrific mood.
He jabbed a finger at the call button, tapping a mildly impatient tattoo as he waited for the elevator to arrive. In his other hand he carried a small bag, packed with a towel, sunglasses, a couple of pieces of fruit, and a small thermos bottle. Also tucked into a smaller waterproof section was his wallet and shield. A day at the beach, to be spent in the sun and sand and surf, was the epitome of Island existence to the mainland-born but Hawaiian-raised young man, but even under such circumstance he would never consider leaving his badge at home. Danny was a dedicated cop, and the second-in-command of the elite state police force; he had a day off from his duties, but not his vocation.
A short drive brought Danny to one of his favourite stretches of beach. In the early morning hours it was not yet clogged with tourists and only a few locals had arrived to stake their claim to some sand. Danny made his way to a patch of beach he had occupied before; an overhanging tree provided some shade, its trunk a place to settle against, but the water was close and inviting, and accessible no matter what kind of crowd arrived later in the day.
Danny set his tote bag and surfboard down, the grin on his face widening as he regarded the slow, steady motion of the curling waves. Cautiously flexing his right arm and shoulder, he was gratified to find no trace of the residual stiffness or pain that had plagued him for the previous couple of weeks. After a bust in which a suspect had managed to give Danny's arm a powerful wrench in an attempt to escape, Doc Bergman had diagnosed a mild strain and prescribed immobilization and rest for the affected limb. The confining sling had only lasted a day before Danny cast it away in disgust, but he had managed to take it easy and the injury had healed well. In addition, the judicious use of an herbal tea blend, provided by his fellow detective Chin Ho Kelly, had kept the muscle soreness down to a bearable level without the use of any further painkillers. The Oriental man had assured Danny that the brew was an old family recipe from generations past, and its effectiveness was legendary amongst his cousins and other relatives who were scattered throughout the Islands. After more than ten days of sipping the flavourful tea, and feeling the strength in his arm return, Danny was more than inclined to agree!
Now, on this rare day off, Danny was prepared to spend the morning in the waves on his own, and for the afternoon he would be joined by his compatriot Kono Kalakaua for more surf time. The big Hawaiian was at work for the first part of the day, but barring any serious situation involving Five-O, he would be free to spend its remainder enjoying the ocean and the beach with his friend. They planned to close the day with a meal and other 'spiritual' refreshments at a local eatery known both for its delicious Island fare and the enchanting clientele that frequented it.
The morning passed in a pleasant pattern of alternating interludes on the surfboard and the beach; the sun and the breeze kept the conditions near perfection, and crowd at the shore was not so thick that the water felt congested. Danny reveled in the gentle burn of muscles not used much over the previous couple of weeks; his injured arm had kept him away from his preferred off-duty activities of surfing and swimming, and he was both relieved and delighted to be back in the water.
Kono duly arrived in the early afternoon, bearing the lunch he had promised to bring. While the two men ate, the Hawaiian detective brought his friend up to date on what had gone on over the morning at work, touching lightly on a couple of current cases he knew Danny would be interested in. He kept it succinct, however, not wishing to spend too much of their off duty time worrying about work; the cases, and the office, would be there waiting for them the next day. With lunch (and the impromptu briefing) completed, the duo headed for the water's edge and paddled out into the waves.
O o O o O
As the afternoon drew to a close, Danny reluctantly planted his surfboard in the sand, and reached for his towel one last time. Kono followed suit, shaking the water droplets from his hair with a slightly mournful look on his face.
“I could use another couple hours in that surf, bruddah,” the big man sighed. “I don't understand how time can go so slowly when we're in the car on a stakeout, but so fast on the beach!”
Danny nodded in agreement. “It sure does seem that way,” he agreed, making a face as a thought occurred to him. “And the same thing for all that paperwork!” he added wryly, trying not to laugh as he saw his friend actually shudder at his words. Their boss was a known stickler for demanding reports and files that were meticulously written, and both men had experienced the workday-lengthening assignment of re-writing parts of files in their early days as members of Five-O.
“All I know is, I don't have to worry about no paperwork until tomorrow morning!” Kono stated emphatically. He gave his shoulders a final swipe with his towel and began to pack his gear away. “Right now, it's time for us to be enjoying the rest of the evening! You still with me, bruddah?”
The sandy-haired detective was already buttoning his shirt. “You bet I am,” he replied. He slung his tote over one shoulder and picked up his surfboard out of the sand. “Come on, Kono! Let's get this stuff stowed, and head over to The Tiki's Grill!” Turning back to ensure his friend was following, he smiled and added, “We should be getting there just in time to watch the rest of the dinner crowd arrive.”
O o O o O
Kono nudged Danny's elbow, nodding in the direction of a table on the far side of the room, where the floor manager was just seating a pair of new arrivals to the restaurant. “Look over there, bruddah, our evening just got more interesting,” he said, a broad smile creasing his face. “Those two lovely wahines look like they're alone, just waiting for the two of us to come over and introduce ourselves!”
Danny followed Kono's gaze across the dance floor, his eyes widening as he saw the two young women that his friend had spotted. Lifting his beer bottle and taking a quick sip, he nodded in agreement with the other man's assessment. “I'd say our prospects for the evening just got a little better, my friend,” he said. “What do you say we give them a few minutes to settle in before we go and say hello. Don't want to scare anyone off, after all...”
“Okay, sure,” Kono mumbled doubtfully. “Whatever you say, bruddah.” Nevertheless, he obediently turned his attention back to their own table and the menus placed there by the server. Picking one up and opening it, he turned to the page detailing the appetizers and scanned the list. “What are you interested in getting to eat, then... you hungry? I know I am,” he added. “Nothing like an afternoon riding the waves to build up an appetite!”
Danny hesitated, his own menu still sitting unopened in front of him on the table. “I think so,” he replied, rubbing a hand across his forehead in an effort to banish the faint headache that was beginning to make itself felt there. He shook his head to clear it, and picked up the menu. “Let me have a look.”
“Good evening, gentlemen.” A shadow fell across the table as a clear, pleasant feminine voice uttered the greeting.
“Uh, hello!” Two menus dropped simultaneously as a startled Danny and Kono jumped slightly, both caught completely unaware of the approach of the women from the other side of the restaurant. The big Hawaiian cleared his throat and spoke again. “I mean, aloha, ladies,” he corrected himself, rising from his seat and exchanging a quick glance with his friend.
Danny pushed back his own chair and made to stand up beside Kono, but he never made it fully upright. A sudden wave of light-headedness swept over him, and the accompanying dizziness caused him to grab the edge of the table in what was ultimately a futile attempt to steady himself. As if from a great distance he heard a woman's alarmed exclamation, and then Kono's voice, calling his name. The blackness swallowed him quickly; he slid bonelessly down, and never felt himself hit the floor.
“Danny!” Kono scrambled around the table and knelt at the fallen man's side, easing him onto his back and reassuring himself in the process that the young man was in fact still breathing, although deeply unconscious. “Danny, bruddah, can you hear me?!”
Quickly slipping into full professional mode, the detective looked up at the pair of startled women still standing beside the table. “Call an ambulance, please,” he said, nodding at the closest of the two. To the remaining one, he gestured at Danny's partially drunk bottle of beer. “Can you see if you can get a plastic bag to seal that bottle into?” he requested. At her hesitation and puzzled look, he added, “My friend and I are members of Five-O. I need to secure that beer as possible evidence, in case there's been anything added to it that would make him pass out.” The woman nodded in understanding and disappeared in the direction of the kitchens.
Kono turned his attention back to his unconscious companion. “Hold on, Danny,” he murmured encouragingly. “Help is coming... I can hear the ambulance already.”
O o O o O
Danny's return to awareness was a gradual thing, beginning with fragments of sound edging into his consciousness: the muted beep of a heart monitor, the quiet hiss of oxygen, the indistinct murmur of conversation. They persisted in their nudging, gentle but increasing in volume, until finally he was able to distinguish the tones of familiar voices emerging from the blur of sound.
With what felt like a monumental effort, Danny cracked open his eyes, and wanted to close them immediately even in the relative dimness of the room. For at the first sign of awareness from him, three gazes had abruptly swung in his direction: one filled with professional focus and sizing him up in a quick instant; the second, frowning, dark with consternation and anxiety; and the third was warm with sympathy and concern.
He blinked, trying to focus on where he thought the voice was coming from, but the room shifted and swirled as he moved his head even the slightest bit. A faint groan escaped his throat as he tried to will the dizziness away.
“Easy, Danno.” The voice threaded back into mind, steadying, familiar. “You're at the hospital; Doc's looking after you.”
“Hospital?” the young detective whispered. “Why? What... happened?”
“Your blood pressure bottomed out, your heart rate fluctuated, and you suffered a significant syncopal episode,” Dr. Bergman recited in a steady, even tone.
Danny struggled to follow the doctor's words, concentration made difficult by the continuing dizziness and light-headedness he was feeling. “I ... what?” he asked, confusion evident in his expression.
The doctor sighed slightly, and leaned in a bit closer to Danny's side. “In other words, young man, you fainted.”
“Dropped like a stone, bruddah,” Kono added helpfully. “Right at the feet of those pretty wahines...”
Danny closed his eyes, shutting out the medley of concerned and amused expressions wavering in front of him. Another quiet murmur of dismay escaped him; the spinning in his head persisted while he tried, without success, to recall the events of the evening.
Standing next to the doctor and his boss, Kono was continuing to describe the scene in the restaurant. “We had been there for just a few minutes, Doc. Just long enough to start on a drink before we ate.”
“And check out your fellow dining companions...” Steve interjected drily, smiling slightly at the big Hawaiian's sheepish expression. “Go on, Kono,” he encouraged.
“As I was sayin',” Kono said. “We had our drinks, just one beer! And when Danny stood up to say hello to the two ladies, he looked like he felt a bit dizzy, and then fell over right in front of them!”
Dr. Bergman scowled. “And you're sure you just had the one drink?”
“Not even a full one, Doc. Honest!” Kono replied decisively. “And I bagged it and brought it in, just in case it had been spiked.”
The coroner sighed and nodded. “It's in the lab now, Steve,” he told the Five-O chief. “If there was anything added to it, we should be able to find out what, and how to deal with its effects.”
Steve paused at the bottom of the hospital bed, continuing to watch Danny closely as his second-in-command hovered at the edge of consciousness. “What about during the day, Kono,?” he queried. “Did Danno have anything unusual to eat or drink, or something from, say, somebody he didn't know?”
Kono was already shaking his head. “No, boss, I picked up lunch from my usual place at the beach, and we had bottles of soda that were sealed when I got them.” The detective paused. “There was just that thermos of tea, but Danny had already finished it before I got there. That's all I know,” he added apologetically.
“Tea? What kind of tea?” Dr. Bergman was suddenly very interested in the conversation. He fixed his gaze on the other man. “I wouldn't have thought that tea would make a good beach drink, Kono. Why was Danny drinking tea?”
“I think it was the brew that Chin gave him.” At the pair of blank looks facing him, Kono continued, “To help his arm, after he hurt it a few weeks ago...”
The coroner was nodding even before Kono finished his explanation. “Well, that might clarify a few things,” he said. “Danny was drinking tea, one of Chin's 'old family recipes', right?” He waved off Kono's stumbling response to what had largely been a rhetorical question and turned to Steve. “A Kelly family secret brew, guaranteed to cure all that ails you. And in some cases, it does!” He smirked slightly. “However, the herbal blends can also interact with other meds a person is taking, certain foods he eats, and...”
“...And certain alcoholic beverages he drinks after a day at the beach,” Steve finished the doctor's sentence.
“I'm almost completely sure that's the explanation for what happened.” Dr. Bergman reached for Danny's chart and scratched a quick note on it. “I'll run a few tests, just to rule out any other possibilities, Steve. But the best thing for our young friend is a night as my guest here, to sleep off the effects of the tea and alcohol combination, where we can watch him and make sure his vitals don't bottom out again. And before you ask,” the doctor glared defiantly at the Five-O chief. “Another two days off, at home, where he can fully recuperate before going back to work!”
“Of course, Doc, whatever you say.” Steve couldn't completely hide his smile at the coroner's stern expression. “Whenever Danno is ready to return is fine with me.”
Looking somewhat mollified, Bergman nodded his approval. “He's going to be fine, gentlemen,” he said, glancing meaningfully at Steve and Kono and starting to motion them toward the door. “But right now, he does need sleep...”
“Okay, Doc.” Kono stepped closer to Danny's bedside and gave his friend a quick pat on the shoulder. “Don't worry, Danny, I'll tell everyone else back at the office what happened, and that you're going to be all right.”
Danny's eyes, which had begun to drift shut again under the combined influence of medication and exhaustion, flew open in panic at Kono's words. “No!” he exclaimed weakly. “You can't tell'em, can't tell anybody! Nobody, I mean...” The young detective struggled to sit up. “Kono...”
“Are you kidding, bruddah? This is the best story to hit the office in a while!” With no further danger to his friend and a full recovery promised by Doctor Bergman, the Hawaiian detective was clearly enjoying Danny's discomfiture. “I bet you won't hear the end of it for a while, either...!”
“Oh no,” Danny mumbled in dismay. He was beginning to lose the battle to stay awake, but managed one last protest to try to counter Kono's threat. “You can't hold this against me ... forever...!” he managed to say. Looking beseechingly at Steve, he continued to speak even as the lure of peaceful drugged sleep reached out to snare him. “You know it, there's gotta be some sort of sta... um, stat... yeah, statue of limitations for that...” The last thing the young detective heard, as he finally succumbed to the darknes, was the small room echoing with the sound of three voices raised in laughter.
O o O o O
Three days later found a fully-recovered, well-rested Danny Williams trotting up the steps outside the Iolani Palace. The grounds were already bustling with people, and the day's first crop of tour buses were lined up along the curb. The young detective was arriving later than his usual time, having been diverted (at Steve's insistence) for a final check-in with Dr. Bergman. Now, given a clean bill of health from Five-O's personal physician, Danny was more than ready to return to work.
Dan opened the door to the outer office area, pausing briefly in the entrance to survey the room. He allowed the familiar sights and sounds of Five-O to seep into his consciousness: the low murmur of voices from a pair of HPD detectives standing in Kono's open cubicle, the clatter of the teletype machine competing with the gentler ticking of a typewriter, head secretary Jenny Sherman seated in her usual place, talking on the phone while sorting through a stack of files, the small vase of flowers and a figurine of Lady Liberty on her desk providing the only non-regulation touches in the entire room. Danny smiled in acknowledgement of Jenny's welcoming wave and headed for the cubicle he called home, the one closest to the closed door of Steve's private office. On the way through, however, he changed direction, turning instead to poke his head into the nearest workspace to the door, where the faint smell of pipe tobacco announced that Chin Ho was present.
“Danny! Good to see you back!” The Oriental detective rose from his chair, dropping his pen and carefully setting his pipe into its ash tray. He extended his hand to clasp Danny's in a firm handshake as he spoke. “Hope you're feeling better... and listen, about the business with the tea...”
Waving off Chin's apology with a quick smile, Danny returned the older man's handshake. “Not to worry, Chin, I'm fine,” he said. “Besides, it really did do a good job on my arm.” He flexed his muscles in a mock show of strength, carefully avoiding the case files that were stacked up on the edge of Chin's desk, forming a semi-circle around a gleaming bronze statue. “Next time I'll know enough to stay away from the alcohol...” He trailed off as he got a good look at squat figurine. “What's this, Chin?” the young detective asked curiously. “I don't remember seeing it here before...”
“Oh, you mean the Buddha?” Chin looked nonplussed for a moment. “I, uh, had this at home for a long time. Just decided it was time to have something new here at work.” He leaned back over the desk and began to rummage through the paperwork. “Steve wanted to start the morning briefing as soon as you arrived, Danny. Will you be ready to go in a couple of minutes?”
“Sure, no problem.” With a lingering look at the figure on Chin's desk, Danny turned and left the cubicle. “I'll just check in with Kono on the way by,” he said. “And then head into Steve's office...”
The two HPD members who had been meeting with Kono passed Danny on their way out; their jovial greetings and broad smirks caused the young detective to pause and stare after them as they left the office complex. Stepping into the open doorway of the Kono's workspace, still looking towards the exit, he was startled to feel himself bump up against something spiky. Coming to an abrupt halt, he was startled to find himself face to face with the regal visage of a five foot tall statue of Pele, the Goddess of Fire, complete with her spiny lava crest curling up over her head.
“Whoa!” Danny jumped back in alarm, looking at the imposing wooden figure in astonishment. “When did you get this in your office, Kono?!” he demanded. A tiny seed of concern began to unfurl in his mind, but he pushed it aside and waited for his friend's reply.
The Hawaiian detective shrugged, trying and not entirely succeeding at looking nonchalant. “You know I've always shown the proper respect for our gods,” he said. “I decided it was time for me to represent that, here in the office. And besides,” Kono gave a slight smirk as he added, “Pele can be a bit intimidating to any shady character we bring in for questioning, for sure!”
Danny smiled weakly at Kono's explanation; as earnest as the big man was, there was something about his answer that didn't quite seem right. “Okay...” he said slowly, giving the statue another dubious glance. Forcing his attention away from his inner suspicions, the sandy-haired detective turned to the business at hand. “Chin said that Steve wanted to meet right away; are you ready to start now? I just need to grab my coffee mug and a notebook from my office...”
Already out of Kono's cubicle and moving toward his own, Danny missed the grin that spread across the other man's face. He leaned in to his workspace and reached for his notepad and mug, both in their customary places, and was about to step back out again when an item sitting on the corner of his desk caught his eye. For there, resplendent in its golden robes, right arm raised in the familiar gesture, left arm holding the spear, was a statue of King Kahmehameha, standing proudly over the tumble of files and other paperwork that covered most of the desktop.
Danny felt his jaw drop in surprise. Encountering a third statue (correction, fourth, he thought to himself, remembering the figure of Lady Liberty on Jenny's desk), brought this occurrence out of the realm of coincidence and very much into the state of it being planned. The tendrils of concern ucurled a bit further, nudging at a fuzzy hint of memory, but he was unable to put his finger on it. Aware that all eyes in the office were now on him, Danny shook his head slightly, then backed away from his doorway and headed for the coffee pot, empty mug still in his hand. As the strangeness of his morning continued to increase, he reasoned that a strong cup of coffee was probably the best thing for him at that moment.
A single tap on the door and then walking right in was Danny's customary way of entering Steve's inner sanctum. On this occasion, he repeated his usual ritual, followed closely by Kono and Chin as they too crossed the threshold into the head of Five-O's office. And stopped abruptly in his tracks, this time unable to keep an exclamation of surprise to himself.
“What the hell...?!” Danny gaped at Steve's desk in shock. “Not you too, Steve!” He spun around and glared accusingly at his fellow detectives, before turning back and staring at the offending object with narrowed eyes. On the desktop, in addition to the green-shaded lamp, a few files and Steve's usual yellow pad of notepaper, was a small, dignified statuette of Lady Justice, with her eyes blindfolded and balance scales held in her right hand, sword at the ready in her left. It was a wholly appropriate item to be on Steve's desk, yet in none of his previous times in this office could Danny remember seeing it or anything like it. He looked helplessly at his boss for a moment, finally managing the question that burned in his mind. “Would somebody please tell me what's going on here?!”
Steve McGarrett smiled at his confused second-in-command, as quiet chuckles broke out from the other two men in the room. “I think Kono and Chin just wanted to make sure you felt comfortable in your return back to work,” he offered, drawing more laughter as Danny continued to draw a blank.
“Well, bruddah, we did just want to welcome you back.” Kono stated, while Chin nodded in agreement with Steve's words. “And maybe a bit more...”
“That's right.” Chin stepped forward and put his hand on Danny's shoulder. “You had a close call, my friend, one that shouldn't have happened. Alcohol and my tea, not a good combination! Next time you got to remember that, okay?”
Kono was already shaking his head. “No, no, that's not all he's got to remember,” he said earnestly. “It's the not passing out in front of the lovely wahines that's the most important thing...” He turned to Danny. “I know you were a bit dopey in the hospital right after it happened, bruddah, but you were a bit concerned that we were going to remind you about it for a while. So me and Chin and the others,” he gestured to Steve and also back to the open office door, where Jenny was standing and listening. “We decided to let you know that we will not do that...”
The vague memory of a few moments earlier abruptly crystallized into a sharp recollection in Danny's mind as he listened to Kono speak. He remembered the hospital room, and the residual light-headedness from his inadvertent dangerous drug interaction... and his sleepy pleading with Kono not to spread word of his situation, stumbling over the words in his groggy state... With a feeling of dread he tuned back in to what the Hawaiian was saying.
“... And as a token of our promise,” Kono was continuing to speak. “ Each office now has... a Statue of Limitations. Just for you, Danny.”
It was fully several minutes before Steve was finally able to convene his morning staff meeting. Seated at his desk, he regarded the array of expressions facing him: two amused, and one chagrined, but all ready to begin their day of work as the finest police force the Island had to offer.