Mother's Blue Dress
by Peg Keeley

Part 3

Stunned past reasoning by the events at Morgans, Danny went to the place he'd always known as home - Andy's Bar. Danny had known Andy long before he was of drinking age. As a boy, Danny had swept out the bar for Andy and Andy had been his baseball coach in little league. There had been a fairly large number of fatherless children following the Second World War, but Andy had taken special interest in him. Andy's never changed and that was a comfort. The corner bar still looked as it always had with its stucco front, and brown-red front door that stood open even at 10:00AM. Andy did not serve alcohol until noon, but many of the old men of the neighborhood would come by, talk politics and watch TV with Andy in the mornings. There was an old piano in the corner and every so often some aspiring young musician would come by and play a tune.

The screen door banged behind him as Danny entered, all the smells and sights flooding his memories with the security of childhood. "Andy?"

The large Hawaiian man burst from the back.. "Aih! Kauhale!" He gripped Danny's shoulders in his large hands and gave him a mild shake. "At last." His eyes narrowed. "You got pilikia, Keiki Li'ili'i?"

He flushed. "No trouble, Andy."

Andy shook his head and released him. "No trouble, huh? I know you boys - always some kind of trouble. Pilikia just follow you, Danno. You look like those haole - hakea, huh?"

"I guess I need a little sun," Danny muttered.

Andy grunted. "You pass, Danno." He gave a grin. "You still know a little of your Hawaiian, huh?"

"I guess I do," he said a little sheepishly.

Andy drew a mug of beer and set it on the counter before Danny. "Tell me all that has happened while you were gone."

He told some about college, knowing Andy's real interest would be in his female conquests. He mentioned the San Francisco Police Department. Andy grunted at that.

"They give you big work there?"


"Then why you come back here?" Andy demanded.

"I missed home," he admitted.

Andy shook his head. "No, I think something more. A man come looking for you here," he added.

"What man?" Did Lew come here looking for me.

"Him," Andy remarked as the screen door squeaked.

Danny spun towards the door as Steve McGarrett entered. Danny remembered McGarrett instantly. "McGarrett," he acknowledged uncomfortably, glancing back at Andy.

"It's not his fault," Steve said quickly. "I've had Andy's watched."

"You - why?" Danny asked, curiosity edging out over indignation.

Andy turned back to draw another beer.

"He doesn't drink," Danny called out towards Andy's back.

Nice touch, Steve mused.

Danny eyed McGarrett steadily, "But he does drink coffee - black, no sugar. Care for a cup, McGarrett?"

"No thanks," Steve replied and motioned towards a table on the other side of the room.

They slid into the seats and Danny remarked. "I don't think I've been in the Islands long enough to get into trouble with Five-0, have I?"

Steve issued a courteous smile. "No trouble. I wanted to talk with you. I heard you had returned to Hawaii."

"You heard? Have you had the airport watched as well?" he asked.

Steve managed a slight no shake of his head. "You did apply for a position at HPD."

He stopped. "And they never contacted me - and you had something to do with that?"

"Let's stop sparring, okay, Williams?"

He shrugged.

Steve leveled a steady steel-blue gaze on the younger man. "I have an opening in Five-0. I would like you to consider it. We are a barebones department. Everyone works together, no frills, so prima donas. But you know we are the best."

Danny blinked once. "Just like that?"

"Yes," McGarrett replied simply. "I know of your history - at least the last four years worth. You've been a good cop for Mike Stone. You can be a good cop here."

"You've talked to-" He stopped, not really surprised. He gave a little nod. "The last we had dealings you were accusing me of murder."

"No, the last time we had dealings I was trying to decide if you were a spook," Steve corrected.

"Ah," Danny paused. "And what did you decide?"

Steve just grinned. "I think you will work out fine in Five-0. You want the job?"

He scowled.

"You will need to qualify at the range."

Danny glanced down at his beer. "I haven't said 'yes' yet."

"We start work at 7:00AM - sharp. You will need to qualify today." He handed Danny a triplicate form. "They are expecting you." He reached under his suit jacket, pulled out a snub-nose .38 and slid it across the small table towards Danny. "A gift to you."

"I don't need-"

"You left your weapon in San Francisco. Stone told me." Steve leveled a steady, non-flinching gaze on his would-be officer.

Williams purse his lips." Sounds like you guys are regular pals."

The gaze flared hot for a moment. McGarrett hated insolence. "You will need to stay armed here."

Danny gave an uncomfortable glare. "Stone told you that, too?"

Steve reminded himself again that he was trying to bring this young officer onto his team, not arm wrestle with him - at least not yet. He chose his words with care. "Mike told me that you prefer to talk your way through situations."

"Never shot anybody, never killed anybody. I'd like to keep it that way. And I can take care of myself."

McGarrett raised an eyebrow. "I don't question that. But let's just say a gun does a better job than a baseball bat of making the other guy more willing to talk things through."

Danny slowly picked up the pistol and dropped it into his jacket pocket.

Steve extended a handshake. "Welcome to Five-0."

The dingy little room that contained only a mat on the floor and a sink that was coated with black grime had not frightened mara. She was glad that Hajjid had gone away.

As soon as the door closed, Thanuja spun towards her, guarded excitement on her face. "Do you think Mr. Molland will hire us both?"

Mara's brow wrinkled with suspicion. "He did not say what kind of work he had for us. How does he know we can do it?"

"Maybe he will train us, or maybe he can tell how smart we are," Thanuja suggested, trying to bolster her courage.

An hour passed, then two. The girls huddled together on the small dirty mat. "Are you afraid?" Mara whispered to her friend.

Thanuja tried to look the brave one. Maybe, if I look not afraid it will be all right. "It will be fine, Mara. Mr. Molland is a very busy American. Did you see his clothes? He must have a lot of money - so he is very busy. Americans are always very busy." She tried to sound like the authority, but her eyes betrayed her own fear.

Mara said nothing else for a time, but she knew Thanuja was afraid as well in spite of the brave words. The sun outside was going down and there was no light in the dark room. "Maybe they forgot us?" she whispered.

At just that moment, the door opened and a fat man dressed in a print shirt, white slacks and sandals shuffled into the room with Hijjid who held a kerosene lantern high to provide better lighting.

The man rubbed his chin and gazed at the two girls. "These all you have?" he asked in Sinhala.

Haijid nodded with a shrug.

The man frowned. "Scrawny things. You -" he pointed to Mara, "-stand up."

Nervously, she rose to her feet, wiping the dust from her dress.

He walked over and looked at her closely. He lifted a tress of her hair to his nose and sniffed. He grunted. He suddenly grabbed her left breast and pinched her nipple.

Mara jumped back in shocked anger.

"No tits," the man grumbled.

Haijid mumbled something about Mara being new.

The man nodded and grinned, his large teeth showing. "Good point. We can share the adventure." He pressed a roll of cash into Haijid's hand. "Come along, girl."

Mara, fear obvious, exchanged looks with Thanuja.

Haijid grabbed Mara by her hair and the girl started screaming. He struck her across the face with his free hand. "Shut up!"

Stunned by the blow and pressing her hand to the blood that was springing from her split lip, Mara stumbled into the hallway and stopped short before the big man.

He gave her a kind smile. "There, child. You will have to come much quicker than that. You are mine now. I have paid for you."

Mara gave a confused look. "If you work well, someday you will earn your freedom. I have just given 50,000 rupees for you. You must pay me that much to go free. Do you have that?"

She just stared at him. She could even imagine that much money.

"I thought not." He patted her gently on the shoulder. "I will help you earn it."

Danny did not return to the Morgans' until close to 2:00PM being confident that Lew would be up by then. As Danny pulled his borrowed Toyota onto the drive, Lew appeared at the front door beaming broadly.

"Danny! God, you are a sight for sore eyes!" Lew embraced him in a fierce bear hug as he exited the car. "You need a couple of days at the beach! Mainlander white!"

"So Andy told me," he laughed. "Called me hakae."

Lew laughed. "Come grab a beer."

As they entered the kitchen, Danny glanced around but did not see Marjorie. He did not ask about her. "How's it going, Lew?"

"Good. I have the really good promotion in the works." He slid Danny's bottle of beer down the table and used the bottle opener to pop to metal cover off his own. He took a quick sip. "You remember that group the governor formed - Five-0?"

He gave a sudden stiff nod. Uh-oh.

"Well, word is that McGarrett is recruiting. He sent a message to Elliot and he was supposed to send recommendations." Lew gave a grin. "But I checked - there's nothing says I can't self nominate. So I did."

"You did?"

"Yeah, I sent my resume and history to him."

Danny swallowed once. "Hear from him?"

"He interviewed Ben Kokua yesterday. I got a call this morning to meet with one of McGarrett's men tomorrow."

Danny gave a nod he hoped was convincing. "Hey, I wish you the best." What a damned thing. Should I tell him? Maybe it's not the same job. Maybe there are more positions open. I feel like I've just betrayed my best friend.

"So, did you apply at HPD?" Lew asked suddenly.

"What?" Danno attempted to snap his attention to Lew and away from the sudden soul searching.

"Marj said that you were going apartment and job hunting. Any luck?" Lew grabbed a bag of pretzels and opened the top. He pulled out a handful and shoved the bag across the table towards Danny.

"I, um, have a lead in the department," he commented, trying to walk the narrow line between truth and injury. "I have to qualify today," he tagged on.

"Hey! Great I haven't been up to the range in a week or two. You need a weapon."

Danny shook his head. "I picked this up this morning." He showed the snubnose.

Lew scooped it up and examined it. "Nice piece. Not too heavy." He hefted it lightly in his hand. "Let's see how it shoots." He jumped to his feet.

Danny followed, a slight reluctance present in his gate that was completely missed by Lew.

Lew rambled and chatted as they drove out towards the shooting range about everything from Marjorie and her insatiable desire for motherhood to his determination to make detective before the end of the year. Danny barely listened to him. As the tropical vegetation flashed past the window, the weapon feeling heavy in his pocket, the memory that had already begun to form since speaking with McGarrett began to take shape. His mind was taking him back to where he did not really want to go…

…It was a dark moonless night. They had been camouflaged in all black with greasepaint to even hide any shine of their skin. Danny had kidded Thomas, who was black, that he was a natural for the work. Thomas Banks had the experience and had ignored the remark of the one he often called "Babyface."

Kevin Rueter was the third member of the team. He and Danny had been recruited together out of high school and spent the last two years training for anything the job might throw at them. They were always together and the department paraded the two twenty-year olds as the cream of the future crop. Their first assignment had gone flawlessly; they had accomplished the goal in perfect stealth fashion. Although Thomas gave no words of praise, there had been no complaints. The team quickly built a reputation for excellence and success. It was why they had now been selected for the mission to Mexico. Getting into Mexico was never hard - it was getting out that sometimes could be touch and go.

"We need to retrieve a company man - Atwater, Luke G.," Thomas explained in his usual staccatic fashion. "And we need to complete his assignment." He tapped the village in central Mexico. "An American smuggler is delivering a shipment of arms to a revolutionary faction. We need to retrieve the cargo and neutralize the smuggler."

Banks' words always sounded so benign, but his team knew that neutralize was an order to kill. No questions asked. The Federals were more than willing to permit the team to clean up an American embarrassment and had supplied everything needed from transportation to underground information.

"El hombre que usted busca tiene muchos fusiles y muchos amigos. Ellos no vendrán pacíficamente," the Mexican commander announced to them. "Sea muy cuidadoso. Hay palabra que su Americano ha sido matado."

Thomas made no attempt to translate in front of his team. To reveal that neither of his partners was fluent in Spanish would have shown a weakness and Danny and Kevin, watching Thomas closely for clues, nodded at the appropriate times. They already knew that the desperatos had plenty of arms and were dangerous men. Nor did Thomas display any emotion at the statement that Atwater might be dead. "¿Cuántos hombres que él tiene?" The demand to know the number of men that held Atwater flowed naturally from Banks' mouth.

The man shrugged. "Yo no sé. Cuatro o cinco a lo más. Pero todo muy entrenado y peligroso."

Banks led his team aside and took the time to light his cigarette. "Well, they've got guns and people who know how to use them; maybe four or five men. His troops will meet us a twenty-three hundred hours. It may be too late for Atwater. Too bad, he was a good friend." That was all Thomas said. Any emotion of loss or remorse regarding Atwater, Banks kept to himself.

A Mexican informant led the group of six Mexicans and the three Americans through the dense underbrush to a small square white stucco two-room cottage a short distance from the village. Thomas and Danny along with three Mexican officers moved one side a the building and Kevin and another three of the commander's best troops were at the opposite entrance.

"¡VAYA!" Thomas shouted and the officers poured in through the doorways. There were bursts of gunfire, screaming people, crashing of wood and china. Within minutes the cataclysmic destruction had ended and the only sound for a moment was of someone sobbing and moaning.

The flashlights and lanterns threw brilliance upon the scene of carnage. Four wounded sprawled on the floor - a man, a woman, a small child and Thomas. Danny instantly knelt next to his team member who lay, alert, but breathing in gasps.

Thomas' hand was pressed against the wound in his chest. Blood glistened in the beam of light as its drizzled between the man's fingers.

"Rueter, call for help," Danny announced.

Just as Kevin started to speak, one of the Mexican officers began shouting at the wounded man who had been the one moaning.

"¡Dónde están los otros!" He struck the man with a rifle butt. "¡Dónde están los fusiles! El dinero!"

"Hey!" Kevin shouted. "Stop that."

Thomas fixed his gaze on Danny. "Take control," he managed to gasp out.

Danny glanced quickly at the degenerating situation, his pulse quickening. "There's no guns here, Thomas. The woman and child are dead. Where's the guns that were supposed to be here?"

Thomas managed a nod and whispered. "Take control or you're dead next. Tell 'em you are in control. Tell 'em in Spanish."

"I don't speak-"

"Estoy encargado," Thomas whispered.

"Estoy - en - encargado," Danny stammered, his tongue unwilling to form the unfamiliar words.

The Mexican troops glanced at him. It would take more than a few words of a foreign language to convince them.

Rueter brought up his M16, safety off. "You heard him," he growled at the men. "Este - what did you say, Danny?"

"Encargado," he repeated with a little more conviction.

"El tonto estúpido," one of the officers snarled quietly to his comrades. One of them giggled.

Kevin aimed the weapon at the man. "Where's the guns that were to be here? Where is the American? Where is Atwater?"

"No sé," the Mexican replied with a shrug. He motioned to the wounded man on the dirt floor.

Another officer kicked the wounded man. "¡Discurso, perro! ¿Dónde el rehén Americano es? ¡Discurso o usted mueren!"

The man cried out as he was kicked and punched repeatedly.

"Stop!" Danny shouted so loud his voice cracked, searching for the Spanish word. I've heard Thomas speak Spanish many times. What is the word?

"Los Americanos que huelen lo yendo a matar. Ellos matan su mujer y a niño. Usted es próximo. ¡Diga mí donde el dinero es!" the officer screamed at the groaning man.

"Dinero?" Kevin asked, recognizing a word. "Dinero? Danny, he wants money. We didn't come after money."

Danny glanced at Thomas who was nearly unconscious and wished their fallen leader could provide them with assistance. "You!" he pointed at the lead Mexican officer. "What --donde dinero? What dinero?"

There were chuckles amongst the Mexicans.

I am not in control here. We are at risk! The mission is a washout! We need to get out of here. Danny glanced at Banks. The large black man was still, his eyes fixed unblinking. Danny glanced at Rueter who gave a slight shake of his head. How can I just accept that Thomas is dead if I do not check him? If I check him, I display weakness.

Kevin, kept his M16 steady and murmured. "Williams, we need to get out of here. I don't know what the hell this was, but it went bad."

There was a door to their backs. Without Mexican escort it would be a long dangerous trek back to US soil, but to stay here was suicide. Danny gave a slight nod. His left fist was at his side and he slowly extended one finger, two fingers, three fingers - and the two Americans dashed for the darkness…

…It took six months for the wheels of Intelligence to slowly turn but at last Rueter and Williams were called to a tribunal hearing on the incident in Mexico. Kevin was called in first and when he returned, he left, not speaking a word to Danny whom he passed sitting in the hall patiently. No smile, no word of encouragement, Rueter stared fixedly ahead at the exit until he was through it.

Deputy Director Innes called Danny into the room where ten serious looking men in dark suits congregated around the oval table. He was gestured towards a seat. It was still warm from Kevin's body.

"The Tribunal has considered the statement that you submitted regarding the events of November 15 of last year. Do you have anything to add, Williams?" Innes asked.

Danny shook his head. "No, sir."

"Does the Tribunal have any questions of Agent Williams?"

"I have one," a gray-haired gentleman said quietly. "You left your partner, Williams. You left him to die."

"No, sir," he replied, emotion steeled. "Banks was already dead, Sir. We did not want to join him - Sir."

The man gave a humf. "Did not want to join him, hum? Were you aware of the focus of Colonel Estrada's soldiers?"

"We were attempting to neutralize an American supplying arms in insurrectionists. If Colonel Estrada had something else in mind, we were not aware of it."

"You and Banks entered from the west side of the building according to your statement," the man motioned towards the diagram of the fated little house.

"Yes, sir," Danny replied, never flinching.

"You had some Federals with you?"

"We had some Mexican soldiers. I am not certain that they were Federals," he replied.

One of the men scribbled something on his notepad.

There was silence at the table just a moment. The men glanced amongst them and the gray-haired man who had asked the questions gave a marginal nod.

Innes spoke. "It is the decision of this tribunal that this action be classified as just. There are no charges pending and you are re-instated to full service. Any questions?"

Danny knew he had questions - lots of questions - but that none of them would be answered by this bunch. "No, sir."


He rose, his legs shaking like rubber. Why am I so unnerved? He made it out of the office and almost to the exit from the building before Innes stopped him.

"Williams, a word."

Danny paused, hand on the panic bar of the door. He did not turn back. "What - Sir."

"My office - please."

He glanced back. Please? Not a command but a request?

Innes steered him into his office and shut the door. "These past few months have been difficult for all of us. Atwater and Banks were good men."

"Yes, sir," he replied stiffly.

"You and Rueter behaved well."

He did not answer. The memory of a dead mother and child, his dying team member and the Mexican soldier torturing a dying man flooded his mind.

"Ballistics confirms that none of your rounds hit anyone. Not Banks, not the man, not the woman, not the child."

He did not reply. What if I had killed them? Could I live with shooting and killing someone, especially an unarmed civilian?

"It was a righteous action," Innes added.

Danny stood in silence.

"You may speak freely, Danny," Innes commented.

So he did. "Righteous? There was nothing righteous about that incident, Innes. We both know that. Estrada was paid by a warlord to have the poor harmless relative of his enemy killed. There was no gunrunner, God only knows who killed Atwater. And Thomas -" he stopped, "-he was killed by an American round, Innes. An American round. So, if I did not kill him, Kevin did. Does he know that?"

Innes played with the paper on his desk. "Yes," he said quietly. "He does." He looked up, regaining some authority. "Rueter is a soldier, dammit, and so are you. Not the wear-the-uniform-and-get-ticker-tape-parade kind of soldier, but in your country's service just the same and just as necessary. He will get through this - and so will you."

But Danny had not gotten through. He had transferred into espionage and been assigned to keep track of a compromised agent back in his home state of Hawaii then followed her to San Francisco. When his tour was up, he did not re-enlist…

… Lew laughed as he slammed the door to the car. "Hey, Danno, you're a million miles away. Let's go see if you can shoot that little pea-shooter."

End Part 3

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