By Cokie and Sym64
A/N Cokie: Back in October yes, it has been that long... Sam sent me an email after episode 4.03. We discussed Catherine's scene in the locker room as she was leaving the Navy. We talked about Steve's comment that his transition wasn't easy and decided we needed to know more about that! Knowing we wouldn't see that scene on the show, we did the next best thing and wrote it ourselves. I hope you enjoy this introspective piece that we came up with.
A/N Sam: When I saw the scenes in 4.03 I really felt for Catherine. Her life would change tremendously after that day. And then it hit me; Steve never had this moment. Steve never had the chance to say good bye to his buddies, and to his life in the Navy. Steve had fought hard to become a SEAL, just like everyone does who becomes such a highly trained professional in the armed forces, and suddenly he wasn't one anymore. I thought he must have fallen into a kind of shock when that first case was over. When realization set in about what he had done. And I bet getting out and joining the reserves didn't go over so well with his superiors. And as a nobody from the Navy leading the Governor's task force, I bet that didn't go over so well either. So, there I was thinking about what Steve had to face besides all the BS from his new partner and the cases they worked on. I thought about the hard times he had to face after his sudden decision to leave the Navy. I told Cokie that I felt sad that Steve never had the chance to 'transition' out of active duty, and what she thought that was like for him. I told her she should write his inner thoughts, because frankly she's the master for his inner voice. (wow… Cokie is blushing…) Shortly after it was a done deal, she agreed to be Steve's voice again, and I would deliver some action background that could trigger Steve's thoughts. And then the show played right into our hands with Cath having problems with the transition.
This is a lot of blah blah for saying I really enjoyed working with Cokie again. :-) (It was great fun… thank you for your patience. Especially when I had forgotten I had already written the ending and was prepared to write it all over again… C)
Shutting up now and hope you will enjoy our little one-shot.
Thursday morning, 0620 hours
Catherine was up at dawn for who-knows-how-many days in a row. First, she had been worried whether she was doing the right thing… or things. Leaving the Navy… taking a job with Billy… jeopardizing her relationship with Steve… all of the above, and those things still haunted her. But today, she felt like the proverbial fish out of water. She didn't know what to do with herself. She had to admit she was probably still a little in shock about Billy's death. It had come so out of left field and left her feeling guilty and kind of useless. And it left her again without a purpose. She had no place she needed to be.
Yesterday, after watching the sun rise, she decided to be useful and make breakfast. Something she and Steve never seemed to have time for when both of them were working. Steve had gotten a call just after they had sat at the table, so instead of a nice breakfast, he had grabbed a piece of toast, gave her a kiss and rushed out the front door, leaving her seated there.
She felt adrift. Itching for something, but she didn't know what. Her entire balance was off.
To make matters worse, she wanted to discuss it with Steve. He had seemed to make it back to being a civilian just fine. Nothing like the indecisiveness and turmoil going on inside her. Of course, after he had left full-time military duty, she hadn't seen him for a few weeks, so she didn't know how he had really been.
She had planned to talk to him last night to ask him what he had meant about the transition. But her questions remained unanswered because Steve didn't come home until 0130 and didn't come to bed until much later than that. She had listened to him pace the floor for almost half an hour before he finally opened the French doors and walked down to the beach. Catherine had gotten up from bed and watched him, pacing in the moonlight, before he finally walked slowly back to the house with his head bowed and hands in his pockets. Coming upstairs, he quietly made his way to bed and slid in beside her, trying not to rouse her.
Catherine feigned sleepiness and turned toward him, snaking her arm across his waist. "You OK?" she whispered, not wanting to disturb the night, but needing to know he wasn't injured.
"I'm fine," was all she got as he kissed the top of her head and threaded his fingers with hers where they lay on his chest. "Go back to sleep."
She really tried, but she found herself awake and was again seated in one of the wooden chairs facing the ocean. Catherine heard the door open behind her and she waited for his touch.
He didn't fail her. Steve leaned over her chair and softly kissed her cheek. "Still can't sleep?" he asked in a low voice.
Catherine just shrugged. "Not really," she finally admitted. "Can I ask you a question?"
Steve dropped into the chair by her side. "Sure. Anything."
"When you left the Navy and started Five-0, you made it look easy. Was it? Because I can't figure out what's wrong with me. I feel," she hesitated before finally admitting, "I feel sad all the time. And not just because of Billy."
Steve was quiet for so long that she thought he wasn't going to respond. But finally, he began to talk. And Catherine listened, at times sorry that she had even brought up the conversation.
"Maybe the transition looked easy," Steve began, "but it was far from it. By the time we got back together, I guess I'd gotten used to it. But it was pretty rough there for a while," he admitted while staring out at the horizon.
"You don't have to talk about it—"
He rolled his head on the back of the chair and looked at her. "No, it's OK. In fact, it's all I've been able to think about."
"I saw you on the beach last night," Catherine admitted. "I was worried about you."
"Sorry. I was… just thinking."
"What's bothering you?" she asked.
Steve sighed and stared at the water. "Yesterday's case. It just… drudged up a lot of memories. About … stuff. You know, how things used to be and just life in general, I guess. It made me realize how close I could have come to totally losing everything."
"You wanna tell me what happened?" she asked
Before Steve could answer they heard Danny's voice call his name and turned to see his partner walking toward them. "Who the heck comes by at this time of day?" Steve grumbled but stood up to face him.
"What do you want, Danny?" Steve asked, his body in a fighting stance that had Catherine worried.
"We need to talk," Danny said in a low voice.
"Morning, Danny, this is a surprise," Cath said brightly, trying to dissolve whatever trouble was going on between these two. "Everything okay?"
"Good question," he said and looked at Steve who just sighed before turning and dropping back into his seat, staring at the water before him.
"Have a seat, Danny, don't mind him," she told him with a smile and encouraged him to take the remaining chair. Rather than pulling out another chair, she took her place on Steve's knee, hoping to calm him with her physical presence.
"Look, I'm sorry… it looks like I interrupted something, and I know it isn't a good time," Danny said, looking at the two of them. He paused before continuing. "But I need to know what caused the piss-ant mood you were in last night."
"Uh… ," Cath told him while staring at Steve for some sign that he was even paying attention to them. She could see right away that Steve had become very closed off which made her sigh. She had thought he would open up, but since Danny showed up, she wasn't so sure.
"Should I leave you boys alone?" Cath asked into the silence which was something that rarely happened with these two.
"No," Steve said in a flat voice.
"Danny, Steve was just beginning to tell me about yesterday. I got the impression that it didn't end well?"
"Oh, it did in the end, but your boyfriend here was in foul mood, I can tell you that," Danny answered and looked at Steve hoping to get a reaction. "Steve, I don't understand what had gotten into you. I hoped you would explain..."
"You really don't know, do you?" Steve suddenly asked and turned to glare at his friend.
"No." Danny threw his hands in the air and stared right back. "I'm sorry, but no, Steven, I don't."
"You don't see the parallels?"
"Para... what are you talking about?"
"Boys, please," Cath interrupted. "Steve, what rattled you like that? Maybe hearing what you're struggling with will help me understand my own feelings about leaving the Navy." Catherine hoped Steve would open up if it were for her benefit. She watched him struggle with the decision of talking with Danny listening and hoped Danny sensed the same.
"Okay, I'll try to explain it," he began, then added, "but only if Danny promises not to interrupt. He looked at his friend once again. "No comments," Steve said seriously.
Danny stared back, taking Steve's order as a challenge. "Fine. No comments from me," Danny promised, slashing his hands in the air.
"Okay," Steve said but still looked a bit skeptical.
"You said the case brought back a lot of memories?" Cath provided as an intro for him to begin again.
"Yeah, I mean, I guess it showed me how things could have happened. Yesterday morning, I got a call from an old friend of mine who is now with NCIS, yelling for us to get over to Coral Creek Golf Course ASAP…."
Kamoawa Place, Wednesday morning, 1100 hours
Steve and Danny drove along Ford Weaver Road on their way to talk with Mrs. Marx, wife of Major Thomas Marx; their main suspect in a shooting at the Coral Creek Golf Course. No one had been injured but a lot of people had jumped into sand bunkers to get out of the line of fire. One of those people had been the Governor. They hadn't talked to Denning yet; his security personnel had whisked him away immediately and he had not been available for questioning. They were still not clear on what his business had been there. To their knowledge, the governor was not an avid-enough golfer to be on the links at 0730.
Five-0 had been called in along with NCIS who was still at the golf club following up with the manager. Steve had received a cryptic call from an old friend of his who joined NCIS after leaving the Navy. Thankfully NCIS had been more open to his lifestyle and didn't really care who he lived with, unlike the Navy back then. So, now Jerry was a special agent with NCIS. A job he had learned to love over the years.
"Tell me again how you know the agent in charge. What's his name again?"
"Jerry O'Lord. And you'd better not crack any jokes, Danny," Steve answered his partner with a grin. He was sure Jerry had heard them all.
"Oh Lord?" Danny asked with a smile.
"Uh huh. I met him during one of my tours in Afghanistan. He was a communications officer and had been assigned to us a few times. He had to leave the Navy a few years back and was offered the job at NCIS."
"Why did he have to leave? Was he injured or something?"
"Or something, Danny." Steve didn't think it was his place to reveal the reasons behind Jerry's discharge. "He didn't do anything wrong, in case you wondered about that."
"He would hardly be working with NCIS if he did," Danny answered.
"True. He's a good guy, Danny. And as far as I know, a capable agent. He said they have about ten witnesses who saw Major Marx leaving the place in a hurry. Thomas Marx is a highly decorated Marine with a spotless record," Steve explained as he pulled up in front of Marx's home. "Let's talk to his wife; maybe she can shed some light on all this."
Steve and Danny were seated at the dinner table with cups of coffee. It seemed that Mrs. Marx had needed the distraction before she was able to sit down and talk. She was now also sitting at the table and played nervously with her own coffee cup.
"Mrs. Marx, do you know where your husband is at the moment?" Danny asked their first question.
"No, Detective, I have no idea. I really don't understand any of this."
"Ma'am, can you tell us what happened this morning?" Steve wanted to know.
"Nothing happened. It was a morning like every other morning."
"Does your husband play golf often?" Danny asked.
"What? He doesn't play golf. Why would you think that?"
"Well, he was on the grounds, and we assumed—"
"NO. I… God this all so awful, I don't know how to explain," Mrs. Marx interrupted Danny.
"Why don't you start at the beginning? Your husband left the Marine Corps in 2010?" Steve asked, trying to help her loosen up a little and tell them what she knew about the incident.
"Yeah, it was…rough," she admitted, absently stirring her coffee. "It was quite a shock for him to suddenly be out of his structured life. One moment Tom was a soldier and the next he was out of the corps," Mrs. Marx started to explain. "My husband had worked very hard to become an officer, he went to the Naval Academy, spent four hard years in Annapolis, and then was given his commission. He never stopped learning and training to become a great officer."
"Why did he leave the Marines, Mrs. Marx?" Danny asked.
"My husband was a specialist who led a team that disposed of IEDs. During a transport there was an explosion… two of his men were killed… Tom… he lost his hearing in his left ear… he was medically discharged not even a week later. It was a total shock for him…for all of us. Not just having to deal with the death of his men, but also to be suddenly out of the military."
"Ma'am, I can understand that must have been a great change for him," Steve started to say but was interrupted by Mrs. Marx, who almost glared at him to disagree.
"I don't think you can understand what my husband went through, Commander. He was in Iraq, doing a job he loved and trained very hard for, and then he lost people he loved, and to boot it all, he suddenly was a civilian. While in the military he was a highly respected officer where no one questioned his judgment, and suddenly all that was gone," Mrs. Marx explained. "Once he was a civilian, every decision he made in his job was questioned by his peers. No one believed that he was qualified for that job with my father's security firm. And, unfortunately after a while, Tom started to believe it himself."
Steve had been tempted to tell her that he knew exactly how her husband had felt. Because when you looked closely at it, it was practically the same thing that had happened to him… He had lost his status in the Navy from one second to the next, was thrown into a job no one believed he could do, and no one wanted him to do. He had a partner who had no respect for him or his experience. Who constantly had told him that he was not a cop, who constantly questioned him and his methods.
"Mrs. Marx, believe me I do understand what your husband went through. Please tell us how your husband has changed in the last years?"
Steve could feel Danny's eyes on him, but chose to focus on Mrs. Marx.
Steve stopped talking, seemingly at a loss for words, but finally realized he was sitting at home with Cath and Danny.
"So in a way, you can relate to the major?" Cath prompted.
"Yeah, I can. At least I can see where he was coming from, abruptly leaving the military and ending up a civilian. Hey, sorry about last night. I was wound too tightly to sleep and knew I couldn't lie down and relax. I didn't mean to wake you."
Catherine sighed again. "Trust me, you didn't wake me." She put both hands on the sides of her head in an attempt to corral her thoughts. "I kept laying there with all this stuff going through my head. I mean, I chose to resign; I wasn't forced to do so as Major Marx was. And it wasn't a decision I made quickly. I've thought about this for months. I was hoping that maybe you could help me make sense of it."
Steve chuckled wryly. "I doubt that," he admitted. "I was pretty much a mess when I got here." He glanced at Danny. "No comments."
"Can you tell me what happened?" she asked grinning at the face Danny had made at Steve. She got off his knee and dropped down to sit near his feet, facing the two men.
And Steve began to talk…
"To the outside world, I think I presented a pretty good front. I mean, I don't think I came across as a total whack job, although Danny here would probably disagree. But underneath, I was a mess. In Korea, when I was driving away, I had watched Freddy die from the rear view mirror of the truck. That was," he paused and took a deep breath, "one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, but it was my job to get Anton back to base. And I couldn't let my feelings get in the way. I managed to drive that thing all the way across the border, but when the guards saw that beat up truck riddled with bullets heading toward base camp, everyone went on high alert. I got out and… well, let's just say they knew right away that things hadn't gone according to plan.
"After a way-too-long debriefing, it took hours to deploy the convoy and head toward Seoul to meet with the military police who would take Anton into custody. Once I had handed Anton to the authorities, I had been ordered to take a two-week R&R and was supposed to have a psych eval before going back to active duty." Steve paused for a moment, then quietly added, "but that's before I got Dad's call."
Catherine placed a hand on his knee. "You don't have to go through all this today," she told him, cutting a glance at Danny, daring him to disagree. "I'm sorry for bringing up all these memories."
Steve placed his hand on top of hers, holding it as he continued to talk.
"It's OK, really. Like I said, our case yesterday has made me take a good, hard look at myself." He sighed and added, "And I'm not sure I like what I see."
"What did Mrs. Marx tell you?" she asked.
Steve continued his story with their meeting with Mrs. Marx. "I asked her if her husband had changed since he had been discharged…"
"The first year was a terrible struggle," she remembered. "He was very closed off. He shut everyone out, trying to come to terms on his own with this change of his life. Although he excelled in his new job he still terribly missed the Marine Corps. Not so much the danger, but he missed his old friends, the trust they had in each other. You know?"
Steve nodded. He knew exactly what she was talking about. "But then it got better?"
"Yes, Commander, at least it seemed so. But then he couldn't save a man from drowning; he watched him die. It wasn't Tom's fault, but he blamed himself for it."
"Did he seek help?" Steve asked softly.
"I told him a few times that he needed to see someone. You know, to talk about his problems. But he never went. While he was still a Marine he had mandatory sessions, you know they have to see a psychologist for their evals and stuff. But he didn't trust them, and so he never went back after he left the corps."
"How has he been the last couple of weeks?" Danny wanted to know.
"On edge. It's hard to explain really. And then yesterday… a golf ball came through the window… and Tom hit the floor… he thought we were under attack." Mrs. Marx told them and couldn't keep a lone tear from rolling down her cheeks. "He was so embarrassed about it. He mumbled that it couldn't go on any longer, and that he had to stop it. Then this morning he left, and I haven't seen him since. I'm so worried about him."
"Mrs. Marx, we will do anything we can to find him, and get him the help he needs," Danny said. "Does your husband store any weapons in the house?"
"No, only his handgun and that is under lock and key in a special safe. He never had the gun out in front of the children. He taught them the dangers of any guns; he took them to the gun range to satisfy their curiosity in a safe environment."
"How old are your sons?"
"Twelve and fourteen."
"How is their relationship with their father?" Steve asked.
"They became very close since he's back. That was one of the really good things of him being a civilian, one part of it he enjoyed. Being here on the islands and having time for his kids."
"Mrs. Marx, I have to ask you this," Steve carefully begun. "Do you believe your husband might harm himself or others?"
Catherine stopped Steve's narrative. "Steve, I can see how you think you might be similar to Mr. Marx, but you weren't in the same frame of mind. You didn't want to hurt anyone."
"Catherine," Steve began and looked at Danny, gauging his reaction to all this. "Given just a little prodding, I think I could have hurt everyone." He shrugged at her look of disbelief, but then continued telling her about coming back to Hawaii.
"After the hit in Korea, we called in air support and took care of the wounded. Our commander showed up, and somehow coordinated for me to get back to Hawaii. Back on base I had to go through another debriefing that took even longer because we had the loss of Anton to deal with. Trust me… that hadn't made the higher-ups very happy. They grilled me for every piece of information; how Victor had known where we were; how I was responsible for the wounded and dead Rangers; who had I been on the phone with during the attack? All the while, I kept trying to get my sister on the phone and get in contact with HPD. When they finally let me leave, I was… I don't know Cath… it was all kind of a blur after they finished with me. I was suddenly on military transport, flying first to Seoul and then to Hawaii. Honestly, I don't really remember how all that happened."
"That must have been horrible," Catherine said.
Steve gave a half shrug. "Yeah, pretty much. I had tried to find out what had really happened but the police here were stone-walling. All they would confirm was that Dad was dead. Nothing else." He added very quietly, "Probably the longest flight of my life."
He huffed out a breath of air which almost sounded like a chuckle, and added, "I was still in the air when I got a call from the governor asking for a meeting. So, after landing, and before I went to the funeral home to make the… arrangements, I went to the pier to meet with Jameson. Not what I wanted to do."
"And she offered you a job?" Catherine asked, filling in the blanks. She looked at Danny, amazed that he hasn't said a peep yet.
"Yes. And I turned her down." Steve paused, thinking. Then he grinned. "Maybe not so nicely. And had I known then what I know now, there's no way in hell I would have listened to her."
"But you did," Catherine reminded him.
"Not at the time. I wanted no part of her or what she had to offer. Her exact words were that I would have 'means and full immunity' to do whatever the hell I wanted. But I didn't want any of it. I had no intention of sticking around. And I pretty much left her standing there on the pier. But right after that, I saw Chin Ho and we talked. He said that some Haole who was greener than grass had been given Dad's case." Steve paused for a moment when he heard a snort coming from Danny. But his partner still kept his mouth shut.
"Bet that went over well."
"Yeah, I met up with that Haole later," he added with a grin. "But after I saw Chin, I had to go to the funeral home. I had received a call from Dad's best friend, Ben Keoki, to meet him there to work out the details."
Steve stopped talking again and Catherine watched the emotions play over his face as he stared at the water. She squeezed his hand. "Let's not do this anymore."
Steve shook his head and disagreed. "No, honestly this has bugged me since yesterday. I need to talk about it."
"Major Marx's case must have really hit home with you."
"Yeah, I kept thinking… this could have been me."
"Mrs. Marx, I have to ask you this," Steve carefully began. "Do you believe your husband might harm himself or others?"
"No, no, not others, I'm sure he would never hurt anyone," the distressed woman called out. "But I'm not sure about himself. I'm worried about him. It is not like him to just leave without saying where he's going."
"Does your husband have a best friend he might seek out?" Steve asked.
"Maybe Jimmy. James Butler. But I don't think they ever talked about any of this. I don't think Jim ever realized what a big deal this was for Tom," Mrs. Marx said and looked at Steve and Danny. "Tom was not one to complain about anything. He had learned from early on, back at the academy, to suck it up and move on. He wouldn't have confided in his friend. Not if Jimmy hadn't asked about it. Tom can put up a pretty good front."
Steve didn't have to look at his friend to know that Danny's eyes were on him. He could practically hear the gears whirling in his partner's head.
"Where can we contact Mr. Butler?" Steve wanted to know. "Maybe he can help us find your husband."
A few minutes later they were on their way to see James Butler, who had an office at Kapiolani Blvd. near Ala Moana Center.
Steve threw side glances at Danny, who was uncharacteristically quiet in the passenger seat. "You okay, Danny?"
"What? Yeah, sure, why wouldn't I be? Watch the road, Steven!" Danny called out when Steve again looked his way.
"I don't think Marx is our shooter," Steve started to say.
"We have witnesses seeing him fleeing the scene," Danny interrupted.
"Wrong, we have witnesses seeing Marx leaving the golf club. He might not even have known what had happened. And none of the witnesses said they had seen a rifle, or any gun for that matter."
"He ran out of there like the devil was after him right after the shooting. I think that is at least very suspicious."
"That may be, but it doesn't mean he had anything to do with it," Steve insisted.
"He was obviously upset as his wife told us, and he said something about stopping 'it' after a golf ball flew his way. That sounds like he was already on edge, Steve. He can very well have snapped, took his rifle out and shot up the place."
"His wife also said that he doesn't have any guns except his handgun—"
"Maybe his wife doesn't know about any guns in his car, or his garage… or… I don't know. Just because 'she' doesn't know about any guns doesn't mean he doesn't have any."
"Danny, all I'm asking is for you not to be so set on him being the shooter. What motive does he have to shoot up the place, as you call it?"
"People like him don't need a motive," Danny said.
"People like him? What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
"That was a poor choice of words. I meant a person, any person, suddenly deciding today is the day that he shoots innocent people. They don't need a reason to do that, at least not one we can understand."
The rest of the way was spent in silence, both occupied with their own thoughts.
"I'm sorry, but Mr. Butler won't be in until later this afternoon," Butler's assistant told Steve and Danny as they stood in front of the reception desk.
"Do you have a phone number we can reach him?" Danny asked.
"You can't reach him right now. He's on a flight from Dallas, and as I said, will be here later. Of course, if you want I can give you his number anyway."
"We'd appreciate that," Steve answered her. "Ma'am, do you know Thomas Marx?"
"Yes, of course. He was here not half an hour ago. I told him the same information I just told you," the assistant, Janice Solo explained.
"You don't happen to know where he planned to go from here?"
"No, Detective, I'm sorry. He didn't say anything."
"Thank you for your help, Ms. Solo," Steve said and turned to Danny to see if he might have any more questions.
"When do you expect Mr. Butler back in the office?"
"He has a meeting at four p.m., I'm sure he will be here at three. I could give you a call," Janice offered and smiled at Danny.
"That would be great, thank you, Ms. Solo."
"Janice. It will be my pleasure, Detective."
"Uh, thank you," Danny said smiling at her.
Steve smirked at the assistant's blatant flirting. "We will be in touch, Ms. Solo."
A couple of minutes later they were in the elevator on their way back to their car.
"So, what, Steven?"
"So, are you going to call her? You seemed to go along nicely."
"I have no idea what you are talking about," Danny said grinning and put the card with her phone number into his shirt pocket.
"Right. We should talk to Denning next," Steve said and changed the subject back to business.
"So, you had to wait until Butler came back to the islands?" Catherine asked.
"Yeah, we went back to the offices," Steve said and then paused, gathering his thoughts and switching gears once again… going back to his own return home.
"You know when I came back after dad was killed and had to go make the arrangements, it was then that I really realized that dad was really dead," Steve softly said.
"I'm sure going to the funeral home was not easy."
"The funeral home was…" he closed his eyes and tried to think of what to say. "Unreal, to say the least. But I was lucky, Ben and Dad had made a pact and each of them knew what to do in case of the other's death. Ben was the power of attorney and he had already contacted HPD and all the paperwork and insurance policies were completed. What HPD didn't cover, the Navy did, so mainly all I had to do was sign papers. When we were finished, Ben asked when I had last eaten and I guess I had a blank look on my face because I honestly couldn't remember. Ben put me in his car and we grabbed a late lunch. From there, I went back to the hotel and tried calling Mary."
"I bet having to tell her over the phone was hard."
Steve snorted. "It would have been had I actually been able to find her. She was off, doing who knows what. I left a message for her to call me. No, scratch that, I left probably six messages for her to call me." Quietly, he added, "She got back with me three weeks later. No explanation, no apology, no nothing."
"Mary Ann has grown up since then," Catherine told him.
His shrug told her he wasn't sure he believed that statement, but he didn't disagree with her.
"I changed out of my uniform and crashed, pretty much passing out on the bed. Like food, I couldn't remember the last time I had slept more than a couple of hours at a time. I woke up in the early morning, and I had to lay there and try to figure out where I was. It all felt so unreal, you know. The funeral was later that same morning and I felt totally out of place. It was held at the cemetery and was pretty low key… just like Dad would have wanted. A lot of his old friends were there and I saw some of our old neighbors and people from his old beat. Chin stood off on the sidelines, pretty much out of sight. But it was weird, it felt good knowing he was over there, watching."
"They were partners, weren't they?" Catherine asked. "I'm sure that no matter the circumstances, Chin needed to be there, too."
"Yeah, Chin had been a rookie and Dad trained him. Dad liked him a lot and kept telling him how much potential he had."
"Which you," Cath said, prodding his leg, "have brought out in him."
"Yeah, well, I don't know about that," Steve said with a lopsided grin. "But he did deserve a second chance. After the funeral, I changed clothes and came here to the house. Let me tell you, it's weird having to sneak through crime scene tape to get to your own front door."
"How long had it been since you had been home?" Catherine quietly asked.
He hesitated, and then answered in a whisper, "Way too long." He thought for a moment and added, "But looking back on it now, I won't take full responsibility for that. Dad had all but quit communicating with me, so there was no real reason for me to want to come home. But knowing now what he had been working on, I regret not visiting. Maybe things would have been different."
"Stop second guessing everything," Cath warned. "You can't change any of it."
"Yeah… you got that right. Seeing the house for the first time was pretty awful. But I learned things… got a shoe print, knew that there were at least two people in the house… and I even met the Haole who was assigned to Dad's case," he said with a grin.
"Was he as bad as Chin had said?"
"Worse. It was Danny," he said, grinning at the shock on her face. And he finally threw the first tentative smile Danny's way. "We drew weapons on each other immediately. And… it sort of went downhill from there. I had just found the Champ box when he came in the garage and confronted me. I tried to take it with me and he started spouting off that this was his crime scene and to set it down. I thought back to what the governor had said and my first thought was 'Oh, yeah? I'll show you.' I was angry and wanted to prove something… I'm not even sure what… so I called the governor. She swore me in on the spot. Before I even knew what I was doing, I was head of her task force. Hell, I told her I would switch to the reserves and stay here without even thinking any of it through. Do you even know how long it takes to go from active duty to reserves? It's a good thing I had a lot of leave due while they worked out the details. And trust me, I was on the bottom of everyone's shit list because I didn't go back."
"Do you ever regret your decision?" Catherine asked quietly and looked over at Danny who still sat there silently, but she could see that he was quite shocked about what he had heard so far.
He leaned his head back on the chair and thought. "Truthfully? Yeah, sometimes. I think. I mean, there are some days I wish a lot of things were different. But would I go back? I honestly don't know. I went back to the hotel that night and did my research, learning all I could about Detective Danny Williams. Bottom line, I learned he had a great record back in Jersey but he had had some clashes back there and here because…" Steve grinned… "He wasn't exactly like everyone else."
"You know, that's not a bad thing," Catherine smiled at the both of them.
"No, it isn't," Steve readily agreed. "And while we fought tooth and nail… and fists," he added, "I immediately sensed he would be a good partner. I mean, all of a sudden I was in charge of a task force and I had no people to work with. I didn't know anyone who was qualified to do this work, so I took a taxi to his dingy little apartment the next morning and forced him to work with me. I can honestly say that he wasn't thrilled."
"I'm guessing that was an understatement," Catherine agreed with a smile.
"You can say that again," they heard Danny grumble.
"We met with Chin and offered him a job… had to convince him to work with me, too," Steve said with another grin. "I must have looked desperate and pretty crazy to these guys."
"They said 'yes', didn't they?" she asked. "So, you weren't too crazy."
"Yeah, they did say yes," he agreed. "Chin brought us Kono and we managed to close the case. Well," he amended, "we thought it was closed. And the governor didn't waste any time in getting us an office. She was anxious to get us set up. Of course, I now know why." In a much quieter voice, he added, "I played right into her hand."
"You couldn't have known that her motives were anything but true," Cath argued with him. "Please stop beating yourself up."
"Yeah, I guess. But here I was… all of a sudden, out of the Navy. I never… Cath, I never meant for that to happen. Yeah, I told the governor I would quit, but when I said it, I don't really think I knew what I was doing. And all of a sudden, I was out. The guys in my unit were yelling at me, asking what the hell I was doing and honestly, I didn't have an answer. And my CO and some of the higher ups weren't too pleased either. I had a few scathing emails and phone calls."
"But you did what you thought best at the time," Cath reminded him. "I'm sorry you had it so rough. Makes me see that I should be fine after all."
"No, that's not true, Cath." Steve leaned forward in the chair and placed his hand on her shoulder. "Don't think that. It isn't an easy transition and you shouldn't believe that it is. It's like when we would have down time together… do you remember we felt we always had to make plans? Know what we were going to do at any given time?"
"Yeah," she agreed. "In the military, everything is regimented down to the minute. I still find myself making lists in my head of what I need to do and when I need to do it."
"Exactly. And when you suddenly don't have that, you feel… unbalanced. You feel… crazy. At least, I know I did. And added to that, I had a partner who was hot-headed and disagreed with just about everything I said and every decision I made, unlike the men who were in my unit in the Navy. Did I ever tell you that our first day out, he slugged me in the face?"
"He ninja-ed me first," Danny defended his actions.
Steve gave her a slight grin and ignored Danny's argument. "Yeah, and he told me he didn't like me. Really hurt my feelings."
"Yeah, I just bet it did," she replied.
Steve glanced once again at his partner before continuing. "Honestly Danny was the least of my problems. We had the governor on our side, but that's about all. HPD hated our guts… or hated everyone other than Danny. For months, they laughed or made totally snide remarks whenever Chin Ho showed up at a crime scene. Most every cop on the force thought he was dirty and they couldn't believe he was once again wearing a badge. And because of her relationship with Chin, they didn't trust Kono either. They really hated me coming in as a "nobody" and taking over crime scenes they felt were theirs. I met with a lot of resentment at first. The cops would talk to Danny but not to me." Steve paused and looked at Danny, trying to see if he had been aware of what had been going on back then. But his partner's face didn't give anything away. As an afterthought, Steve added, "All except Duke. Duke's always been cool."
"Yeah, I like him," Catherine added.
"He was a friend of Dad's. I can remember him from when I was a kid. And I can't ever remember Duke ever saying anything bad about anyone."
"He always seems so rock-steady no matter what's going on," Cath added.
"Yeah," Steve replied. "And we almost lost him last year."
"But you didn't," she quickly pointed out.
"No, we didn't," Steve agreed.
"You always made sure that your team was safe," Catherine reminded him.
Steve almost choked on his water hearing that. "Tell that to Danny."
"What do you mean?"
"You promised to keep quiet, Danny." Steve growled at his friend. "Shut up and pretend you're not here."
"Okay, okay. Jeez," Danny grumbled but shut up.
Steve shook his head at Danny, and wondered if he should really keep talking about this with him here. After a moment he continued in a quieter tone. "He always said I was reckless and a danger magnet," Steve elaborated. "He still calls me that," he grumbled after a moment. "You know back when we just started with Five-0, I was often worried for the safety of my team. I could never be sure if HPD would really back us up when we needed it."
"Cath, I wasn't kidding when I said they hated me. I always worried they would take it out on my team," Steve said remembering some of the snide remarks and glances he had to endure. "And Danny's attitude in some instances didn't really help." Steve ignored the grumbling noise coming from his right, but threw a warning glance in his friend's direction. "They thought he was disrespectful to their culture. And in a way they were right. He didn't really mean any disrespect, but his behavior showed them otherwise." Steve looked at his friend once again, adding, "I know you were only seeing the cases in black and white and didn't look at the difference in the cultural aspects. This is Hawaii and they are very in-tune with their ancestry and culture. Hawaiians are very friendly and open, but they don't appreciate anyone stepping on that." He grinned. "Both literally and figuratively. But I seem to remember that point was gotten across by a very large rock."
Danny snorted. "Don't remind me, OK?"
"But now it's all good, right?"
Steve grumbled and thought about what Chin had recently told him about Captain Grover. "Not so sure about that. You know back then I thought a few times that it would be easier to just quit."
"You? Quitting?" Cath called out in surprise. "That is so not you."
"When I came to Hawaii, Catherine, I had lost everything. I had to leave my dying best friend behind," Steve said with a low choked up voice. He looked up and saw that Cath and Danny looked at him with sorrow and compassion. "Shortly after that, I had to listen to my father getting shot. And to boot it all the higher ups were really pissed that Anton was killed during the attack, and we had nothing to show for all the trouble we went through. I was just waiting for them to court martial me for any of it," Steve admitted. "When I arrived in Hawaii, I was alone. I had tried to contact you, but you were out of reach. And so many things happened here at once... I just... I just wished someone had been here, you know?"
"I'm sorry, I couldn't be there for you," Catherine softly said.
"It's not your fault," Steve mumbled and leaned forward to give her a kiss, but hissed when he bent his leg to push himself up in the chair.
"What's the matter? Steve?"
"Nothing," Steve answered, wanting to change the subject.
He sighed and looked at her worried face. "Really, it's nothing. It's just a scratch under my knee. It burns a little bit, that's all."
"Are you serious? Come on, Cath, it's nothing. Really," Steve said and again glared at Danny. "Shut up, Danny."
"Hey! I've been good and haven't said anything!" he retorted. "Now show your girlfriend your leg."
"Yeah, show me and let me be the judge of that. While I take a look you can tell me what made you think about quitting," Catherine told him.
Steve watched her get up and stand in front of him, a determined expression on her face. He again sighed deeply, but was secretly thrilled that she cared so much for him. "Fine. Take a look at the scratch and knock yourself out," he told her with a twinkle in his eyes.
"Drop them, Commander."
"Yes, ma'am." Steve grinned and stood up, letting his sweat pants fall to his ankles, revealing a big patch right under his knee. Looking down he saw that it had quite a bit of dried blood on it.
"Sit down," Cath told him and peeled at the sticky part of the big band aid and pulled it off with one quick move.
"Shit," Steve cursed under his breath. He hissed at the sudden fresh burning pain. It felt like she had ripped off half his leg.
"Oh, Steve, that looks nasty. When did you put the band aid on it? How did this happen?" Cath looked up at him from her position kneeling in front of him. "Steve?"
"Damn, that hurts," he grumbled.
"Yeah, I can imagine. The band aid had been stuck to the wound and it looks pretty inflamed. Didn't you get is checked and cleaned?"
"I cleaned it," Steve answered.
"Yeah? When?" Cath looked at the wound and then back at Steve waiting for an answer.
"After it happened?"
"Is that a question? When was that?" Cath shook her head at her boyfriend and stood up to get their first aid kit. The big Navy one Steve had brought home one day from the base. He had said 'just in case'; seemed like this was that case. "Stay here. I'll be right back."
"Yes, ma'am." Steve didn't dare to object.
Steve watched her leave to get supplies to clean the now oozing wound, and he cursed himself for not taking better care of it yesterday. He had completely forgotten about it. But he should have changed the bandage.
"Man, your girlfriend can be quite commanding," Danny whispered.
"You have no idea," Steve said back with an equally low voice just before Cath returned.
"Okay, let's get this cleaned and wrapped up," Cath said as she settled down at his feet again to clean the wound. "So, tell us what made you think about quitting," Cath brought them back on track.
"The first time I thought about it was when we investigated Meka's death," Steve said and looked apologetically at his friend. "Danny's former partner with HPD."
"Oh yeah, I remember," Cath said.
"Everything I did or said was wrong in Danny's eyes. Or Chin and Kono's eyes for that matter," Steve remembered. "Ouch," he suddenly called out when Cath rinsed the wound with an antiseptic solution.
"Don't be such a baby," Cath laughed, but softened when she looked up and saw the expression on Steve's face. "I'm sorry. Is it bad?"
"Nah, it just burns. It's okay," Steve assured her. "Where was I? Right... I felt like a total outsider. I knew nobody took me seriously or thought I belonged to the 'men in blue'. But I was just following the evidence like Danny had taught me. And suddenly that was wrong too. I was glared at for even voicing the question if Meka might have taken money."
"You were just doing your job."
"Yeah. But I totally missed the point."
"What was that?"
"Meka was Danny's friend, and he knew Meka didn't do it. He thought I didn't trust his judgment. But that wasn't true, I just thought we needed to look at the case from all angles. And when you are too involved in a case or a mission, you tend to make mistakes. I was still thinking like a SEAL, emotionally detached from the job and only looking at it objectively," Steve explained his thought process back then. He still thought like that, but that process was now infiltrated by 'cop-thinking'. Steve had to grin at his own word creation.
"I can understand that," Cath said and gently dabbed the wound dry. "Sorry, this will hurt again," she warned before she put the antiseptic ointment on it.
"Yeah, I thought I was doing the right thing. But my team saw that very differently. When Danny stormed out of the office, Chin and Kono looked at me... I swear if looks could kill, I'd have been buried long ago," Steve said and chuckled at the thought, even though back then he only felt confusion about Danny's reaction.
"I couldn't understand what was wrong about my thinking. And really there wasn't anything wrong, I just was too blunt about it, you know. Danny had lost his friend, and I... well, I wasn't taking that into account."
"Danny is a hot head, you know that, Steve."
"Hey, I resent that," Danny couldn't keep quiet any longer.
Steve answered as if he hadn't even heard him. "Yeah, but he blew up in my face. Even though he knew I was right," Steve said, and remembered Danny's reaction in the car. He had made light of it back then, but it had hurt a little. "Sometimes it gets a bit much, you know? Especially back then," Steve said and didn't dare look at his friend.
"I'm sorry I didn't realize you were still struggling with everything when I asked you to talk to me."
"No, Cath, don't. You didn't know anything about the Marx case or my thoughts when you asked. I should have talked about this sooner," Steve stopped her. "It's my fault. I have learned to deal with every crisis on my own, and in the end I did. It's just that the case yesterday reminded me that it could have ended differently."
"Differently?" Cath asked and gently put a new gauze pad on the now cleaned and cared for wound. She looked up when Steve didn't answer immediately. "What?" She asked seeing him looking at her.
"What are you doing?"
"Tending to your wound?"
"Yeah, I can see that. But you are not wrapping a bandage around that little scratch!" Steve told her in his no nonsense voice.
"Watch me!" Cath grinned back at him.
"Cath," Steve whined. "Just put a band aid on it and be done with it."
"Steve, this is slightly infected. You need a little more than a 'band-aid'." Her tone of voice showed him that any argument would be useless.
"Good choice, Sailor."
"Hmpf," Steve chose to not comment on that. "Danny and I could have ended hating each other," Steve softly said.
"Ah come on, I don't believe that." She glanced at Danny and grinned. "Admit it, Steve, you love each other."
"Yeah. Yeah, we do," Steve said and grinned at his partner who was obviously a bit uncomfortable all of a sudden. "But back then, it could have gone another way," Steve remembered some of the more colorful terms his partner had for him. "It's not easy to constantly hear what an idiotic moron you are. To constantly have to defend almost every decision you make, not only to HPD but also to your own team.
"I think you exaggerate a little bit?"
"Yeah, I am, but that is how I felt on some days," Steve admitted. "There were days, I was just not my normal self. Those were the days I struggled the most with leaving the Navy, leaving everything behind and starting a new life."
"That I can understand," Cath said and put the final touches on her handiwork. "There... all cleaned and wrapped up. Now tell me how you hurt yourself like this."
Steve looked down at his leg and had to admit it felt a lot better with the bandage on it. He stood up and pulled his pants back up before he settled back down in the chair, taking another swig out of his water bottle.
"Okay, we had to wait until Butler was back, so we tried to put together what really happened at the golf club," Steve again started his narrative…
Five-0 had spent most of their morning and early afternoon interviewing the Governor and then they had talked to Steve's friend at NCIS. But they hadn't learned anything new from either conversation.
It still looked like Marx was the most likely suspect so far. They had found a few shell cases, but not a weapon. So, Steve asked again how it was that none of the witnesses had seen Marx carry a weapon away from the scene.
"Danny, I'm telling you, Marx isn't our shooter."
"Just because the witnesses didn't see a gun doesn't mean there wasn't one, Steven."
"You're right about that. But I still won't jump to conclusions just because he left the scene in a hurry. There might be a good reason for it," Steve told Danny what he strongly believed in. "There is no evidence other than him leaving that links him to the shooting."
"His wife said he has been on edge for a while now. And remember he thought he had been under attack the day before, maybe he went there to… I don't know, he might still have been angry and needed to vent."
"Just because one is on edge doesn't mean he would run around shooting around like a mad man," Steve countered.
"Why didn't he ever say anything about what a hard time he was having? Why has he not sought help?" Danny wanted to know.
"Probably because no one ever cared enough to ask how he felt about it all," Steve answered. "We're here," Steve abruptly said and exited the car after turning off the engine. "Let's go talk to Butler."
Steve walked ahead of Danny and was trying to ignore the looks he knew were boring in his back. He was not really watching where he was going and that's why he missed the metal rod sticking out of the pillar. The parking deck was under construction and the path Danny and Steve were using should have been cordoned off.
Steve yelped in pain when the rod cut through his pants and slashed into his skin. It was a pretty deep cut to the side of the knee, and it started bleeding instantly. Steve hissed and grabbed at his left leg, cursing his stupidity for not watching out better.
"Hey, let me see," Danny called out as he caught up with his partner.
"No, it's okay. Just a scratch." Steve revealed a two inch long bloody gash on his leg. He had pulled his pant leg up and cursed again at the ruined pants and at the wound that was smarting pretty good.
"Ouch. That looks nasty, you might even need stitches. It needs to be cleaned," Danny pointed out the obvious. "Can you walk?"
"Seriously, Danny?" Steve shook his head at his partner. "It's a scratch."
Even though it really was not a serious injury by a long shot, it still hurt like a bitch. The side of his leg looked bloody and already bruised. And that was what the leg felt like. Not to mention that he was still bleeding all over the place.
"I'm sure they have a first aid station in the building," Danny told his friend.
"Nah, I'll be okay. We have a first aid kit in the trunk. You go ahead, Danny, I'll be right up," Steve said and turned to go back to the car to put a bandage on his bleeding leg.
"You sure? I can wait."
"No, you go, I'll catch up in a couple of minutes," Steve said over his shoulder.
Steve limped back to the Camaro, and took the first aid kit out of the trunk. He hissed again when he cleaned the wound with a pre-soaked antiseptic wipe and then dabbed at the now again free flowing blood. He pressed a gauze pad on it for a moment until the bleeding had more or less stopped. Then he took the biggest band-aid they had in the box and put it on the now cleaned wound. "That should do it for now," Steve mumbled under his breath.
He looked up when he heard fast footsteps nearby. Steve couldn't quite believe his luck; three rows down was Major Marx. Walking quickly to the end of the parking deck.
Steve shut the trunk and hurried after Marx. "Major, can I have a word with you?" Steve called out when he got closer to Marx.
It seemed like the major didn't even hear Steve, at least he never acknowledged him or slowed down. Soon they were at the end of the parking deck and it was suddenly very clear that Marx was not on his way to a parked car.
Before Steve could reach the major, who was obviously completely spaced out, he had climbed over the balustrade.
He now stood with his back to the deck and it would only require another step for him to fall down the three stories to the ground.
"Marx! Don't do it," Steve called out from a few feet away. But to no avail, it still looked like the major was in his own world and didn't even acknowledge Steve.
McGarrett stepped closer and could now see that Marx had a gun in his right hand. He held it loosely and it pointed downward. For a second Steve debated whether to draw his own firearm, but he was sure Marx would not be a threat to anyone but himself.
Steve looked to his right and could see Danny just coming back onto the parking deck, probably in worry why it was taking him so long to follow. Steve motioned for him to keep his distance, but Danny came a bit closer and drew his weapon when he realized that Marx was armed.
Steve watched his friend taking position behind a car, aiming his gun at Marx, ready to shoot as soon as he would raise his gun against Steve or Danny. Steve came to the conclusion not to draw his own sidearm, but it felt good to know that Danny had his back.
"Major Marx," Steve again tried his luck.
Very slowly the ex marine raised his head and turned towards Steve. It seemed like he realized for the first time where he even was.
"Sir, what are you doing?" Steve asked in a friendly voice. "Can I talk to you for a minute?"
"Who are you?" Marx asked and pointed his gun in Steve's general direction without actually aiming at anything.
Steve could practically feel Danny stiffening and taking aim.
"I'm Lieutenant Commander McGarrett, Sir. I would like to have a word with you."
"Yes, Sir. Please, can you give me a minute of your time?" Steve asked. He thought it was not the right time yet to address the major's position. Steve was still not quite sure Marx had realized where he really was.
"I have to stop it." Marx answered Steve's question from a minute ago.
"What do you have to stop?"
Steve looked at Danny; it was obvious that Marx was in great distress, and that it would be best if a professional would talk to him. But since no one but he and Danny were here at the moment, Steve was the best chance they had right now. He saw Danny talking on the phone, obviously calling for help.
"Sir, can you elaborate on that?"
Marx was quiet and Steve wondered if he would answer at all when he suddenly started to talk.
"Have you been in combat, Commander?"
"Yes, Sir." Steve thought it would be best to keep his answers short.
"Been in Annapolis?"
"Hmm." Marx fell quiet again.
Steve thought it was a win that he hadn't made any attempts to jump off the deck. He leaned against the low railing and looked like he was deep in thought. Steve looked over at Danny, who shrugged his shoulders, also not sure what to do.
"Did you have your own unit, Commander?" Marx started talking again.
"On occasion, Sir."
"You're a SEAL, right?"
"Ah, yes, Sir."
"So, it took you years of hard work to become one? Get through hard years at the academy and then vigorous training to become a SEAL?"
"It hasn't always been easy," was Steve's answer, not sure where this was going.
"You worked your ass off to get to your position? Were respected by your superiors and your peers? Everyone listened to you when you gave an order, or simple advice to the newbies? Right?" Marx had now fully turned to Steve and got louder with every word.
"That pretty much sums it up," Steve slowly agreed.
"And now? Who the hell gives a fuck now? Who listens to you now? Huh? I tell you who. NO ONE gives a fuck. About YOU, me or what either of us DO or SAY."
"It can seem that way sometimes." Steve was not really sure if what he was doing was the right thing, but he thought it best not to disagree with him. So not to aggravate him even more.
"Seem that way? No, Commander, I'm telling you it doesn't seem that way. Even the rookies fresh out of college look at me like I know nothing, and they know it all. With what they think is such a great education." Marx said and looked like a tiger ready to explode into action. He twisted around on the ledge, nearly giving Steve heart failure. But once again, Marx didn't seem to realize how close he was to death.
"Can you fucking believe it? We have fought in war, were responsible for who-knows-how-many people and million dollar equipment. And I don't even want to know what you did during your active time. And now a fucking rookie tells us what is right and wrong? Even my closest friend has no respect for me, is constantly questioning my decisions. I'm just sick of it!" Marx yelled the last sentence and reached his hand up to rub the back of his neck.
"I know" Steve began in a quiet voice. "It can be hard to… adapt to civilian life. But, Sir, they don't mean it like that. They just don't know any better. You can't let it get to you or you'll go nuts," Steve tried to get through to the very agitated man in front of him. He took a step closer to Marx and involuntarily winced when the wound on the leg again burned. For a second Steve's thoughts went to the cut on his leg and he wondered if he would need stitches after all.
"You're wounded," Marx said and looked down at the bandage on Steve's bloody leg.
"It's nothing, Sir. It's all good."
"No. You're bleeding. Let me help you."
Steve was taken completely by surprise when Marx tugged his gun into the back of his waistband, climbed over the railing and stepped closer to him.
"How did you get injured?" Marx quickly asked as he leaned down to look at the wound. "Were you shot? Damn, we need to find cover. They shot at me yesterday, you need to be careful out here," Marx rambled on and had put Steve's arm over his shoulder. "You can lean on me; I'll get you to safety. I'm not letting you die."
It was clear, that Marx again was not with them, but probably back when his men got blown up. Steve was sure there had been a few severe leg injuries. The blood must have triggered something in Marx to throw him out of reality.
Steve glanced up at Danny's last position to see that he had moved out of Marx's line of vision. "Yes, Sir. Thank you. We can take cover in one of the offices," Steve suggested. His first priority was to get Marx away from potential targets, innocent people passing by on their way to their cars.
"Yeah… yeah, that's good."
By this time EMS and SWAT were on the scene, but they all remained in the background allowing Five-0 to handle the situation for now.
Steve thought about how to take the gun from Marx and getting him the help he needed. They slowly made their way over the parking deck, Steve purposely slowing him down, leaning heavily on Marx. It was not needed at all, but he thought Marx would focus on him if he thought Steve really needed help. And so far it had worked well.
Five minutes later they reached the elevator, and that was where Steve made his move. He had Marx disarmed and in handcuffs in just a few seconds once they were in the confines of the elevator cabin. When they reached the office floor, paramedics already waited for them and took Marx into their custody. It was clear that he needed medical help more than anything else right now
Steve reached the ambulance right before the major was placed inside and with hand signals, asked the medics to move away.
Marx stared at Steve and Steve didn't know if he was back in this reality or not, but spoke to the man.
"Major, Sir, I apologize for the ruse."
"You're pretty fast on your feet," the man commented.
"I pretty much blew it, didn't I?"
"Not at all, Sir. You're unharmed, and you have a wife and kids who are on your side. I'd say that you're a pretty lucky man."
The major closed his eyes and when he opened them again, they were moist. "Yes, I guess I am. If I can just get my head straight again. Thank you."
"Would you mind if I visited some time?" Steve asked him. "You know, maybe we can talk."
"I think I would like that."
"Good. Take care, Sir." He nodded to the medics that he was finished.
Marx was already on his way to Tripler, where he would undergo a psych evaluation, when Danny met up with his friend again.
"That was a hair brained stunt," Danny began. "What the hell were you thinking confronting him like that. He had a gun, Steven."
"He wasn't going to hurt me, Danny. I could tell."
"Really? You could tell? Was it your Ninja-sense that told you that the unbalanced Marine holding a gun wasn't going to hurt you?"
Steve turned to glare at his partner. "You know, just drop it. I doubt you would understand anyway."
Danny could see the tension in Steve's face and had no clue why he was so uptight. "Fine. Did you at least let the medics take a look at your leg?"
"What? No. I'm fine, Danny. I told you it was just a scratch," Steve said and looked down at his leg with the still bloody bandage on it. The pant leg was ripped and also a bit bloody, but it really was no big deal. Thankfully his blood had helped to resolve the situation with Marx. "We need to talk to Chin, see if he came up with any leads on the shooter."
"You still think Marx wasn't our shooter?" Danny asked.
"More than ever. I don't think he would harm anyone, Danny."
"He's right," Chin said as he stepped out of the elevator.
"What?" Steve and Danny asked at the same time.
"The shooter has just been arrested by HPD. A sixteen-year-old with his dad's rifle. He wasn't trying to shoot anyone, he said he underestimated the automatic weapon and suddenly it wouldn't stop firing," Chin told them and rolled his eyes at that stupid excuse.
"No, Steve, I'm not. He took the gun out of a locked cabinet and played around with it. Said he pulled the trigger once and it kept shooting and shooting. His words."
"So, case closed?" Steve asked.
"Case closed," was Chin's answer.
Steve looked at Danny and could see that he had something on his mind but wasn't saying anything. Which was just as well with Steve, he was not in the mood to talk about the day's events.
The three of them talked with SWAT and HPD and then were on their way to finish the paper work on this very strange case which would take several hours to complete. Later that night, Danny popped his head into Steve's office before leaving.
"Hey. How about a late dinner?"
Steve rubbed his eyes with his thumb and forefinger. "Uh, no, not tonight. I need to head home," he said, typing a few more words on the computer. "Maybe a rain check?"
"Yeah, sure. Steve…"
"Yes, Danny." He glanced at Danny before looking once more at his computer.
"Ah, nothing. We can talk later."
"Yeah. Later." Steve went back to typing, dismissing his friend.
"And that 'later' is why I'm here," Danny said, breaking Steve's 'gag order'. He stood up and stretched before turning to his partner. "I now understand why you see the correlation, but I don't think you are anything like Tom Marx."
"I'm more like him than anyone realizes," Steve replied. "After thinking about the major and all that he's gone through, it made me realize that no one here ever questioned me about leaving everything I've known all my adult life to come here, abruptly changing into someone else. I mean, Danny, you came 3,000 miles to be with your daughter. I understand that, but I came even further and left everything I had known. Nobody has ever questioned how I felt about that. But I gave up everything to be an officer of the law… and this isn't who I was or who I ever intended to be. From one day to the next, my priorities changed. My life changed. I…" he hesitated, glancing at the two of them before continuing, "I don't want to end up like he did."
"Oh, Steve, you won't," Catherine hastily assured him.
"And you know that how?" he asked.
"You've got a group of people who know you and love you, and you love them," she replied.
"And Major Marx has a wife and two kids who love and need him, too," Steve countered. "That's what was bothering me. If this could happen to him, why can't it happen to me?"
"Well, there is one thing you have that Major Marx said he was lacking," Danny told them, moving to stand in front of Steve's chair.
Danny looked his friend in the eye. "You've got a best friend who does understand you and who does know what you've been through. And this friend will do everything in his power to make sure you are grounded… even though it may be the hardest job he's ever tackled," he said, grinning at his last comment. "Promise."
Steve thought about that for a moment, thinking about what he had said about Danny in the last few minutes. How he felt like Danny had been against him. But Steve locked eyes with his friend and after seeing the truth and conviction in Danny eyes, he finally nodded. "Then it's a deal." Steve knew there would still be hurdles to cross and heads to butt, but they could deal with them as they came
"Good," Danny replied, and then turned his attention to Catherine. "Now, I gathered during this conversation that you feel adrift, too?"
"Well, yeah, but after hearing about Major Marx, I suddenly feel much better about myself. Hey, is there anything we can do for him or his family while he's in the hospital?"
"I want to visit, but we need to talk to his doctors. It will probably be a while," Steve told her.
"Then we will visit his wife. She's going to need reassurance, too. And I might be just the person to help her," Catherine decided.
"Oh, really?" Steve asked with a grin.
"Of course. Because of my background I can really empathize with her. And I'll make some cookies today to take to the kids."
"Sounds like you have everything planned out," Steve commented, grinning at her new-found action.
"Yeah, and it will do me good to get out and stop wallowing in all my thoughts."
Danny rubbed his hands together. "Sounds like a plan is shaping up, but do you think we could begin all of this after breakfast? I'm starved and think food is in order. My treat. How about we go to Rainbow?"
Steve stood. "You're buying? Let's go."
"You might want to change out of sweats and that holey shirt you're wearing," Danny told him.
"Give me three minutes," Steve said, turning toward the house.
When he was out of earshot, Catherine hugged Danny. "Thanks for coming. I don't know if I would have known what to say to him."
"Glad I came. I knew something was eating him yesterday but had no idea it was like this. He'll be OK though."
"Yeah, he will," Catherine agreed. "And I need more than three minutes to get ready, so you guys best cool your heels and wait for me."
"Chop, chop, woman! My stomach is growling."
Catherine went into the back door just as Steve was coming back out. He stopped her and gave her a kiss and spoke words Danny couldn't hear, but when he came outside he was smiling.
And Danny knew it would be a good day after all.
*Ho'olilo means "Transition" or "to transform".