Mother's Blue Dress
The volumes of paperwork had taken hours and would take more over the next several days. Steve and Danny had handled what they could, but exhaustion at last won out. "Can I drop you somewhere?" Steve asked as they headed for the Palace parking lot, knowing Williams did not have a car. He hasn't been here long enough to get one.
Danny, for the first time realized he might not have a place to go. By now Lew must know he did not get the Five-0 job. Does he know I did? And what of Marjorie? All the issues he had left behind two weeks ago came flooding back. "No thanks, I'll arrange something."
As they stepped out side, Danny looked up to see Lew waiting for him. "Hey, Danny," Lew called, a broad smile on his face. "Bet you could use a good night's sleep."
Danny blinked in surprise. "Lew? How did you know-"
"A good cop keeps an ear to everything that goes down," Lew commented with a laugh. "Come on. Get in the car."
Danny got in on the passenger side. Everything seemed so out of place and odd. Twenty-four hours ago I was floating in an ocean, realizing I might die. Six hours ago I was stabbing a man with a plastic pen. Now I'm in a car and our greatest concern is the traffic light on Kapeolani Boulevard.
"Danny, I want you to know that it's cool about the job. I'll bet you didn't even know we were both after the same position," Lew said in a friendly way. "How I see it; I've got an in on the inside for the next opening, right?" He gave a chuckle.
Danny managed something that sounded like an agreement.
Marj met them at the door, the fine aromas of a roast in the oven wafting out of the doorway to the drive. "Welcome home, Danny! Hungry?"
He tried to give a positive answer, but knew he wasn't hungry, just dogged tired. He had slept so little on the A Beleza and none in the last 36 hours. He allowed himself to be directed towards the feast-laden dining table.
Somewhere between the salad and the soup he fell sound asleep at the table.
Danny awoke from a sound slumber with a start. He did not remember going to bed, yet here he was in the same room at Lew's he had occupied two weeks ago. For a flash of an instant he wondered if everything had been a bad dream. His sore face and the crumpled clothing on the floor testified otherwise. He showered, dressed in his own clothing and went out into the kitchen.
Marjorie sat at the kitchen table reading the newspaper, dressed in a short-sleeved blouse and jeans. "Good morning, Danno. Coffee's hot." She did not look up from the paper.
Pondering the contrast from their breakfast two weeks ago, Danny poured the coffee. "Lew here?"
"He's at the department. McGarrett called for you. He needs you down at Five-0 as soon as you can get there." She still did not look up.
He nodded. "Okay." He sat down opposite her at the table, and studied her for a moment. She never looked up. Finally he said quietly. "Marj, is everything all right?"
She looked him in the eyes, a smile on her face. "Of course, Danno. Just fine."
Puzzlement crossed his expression. "No problems?"
She blinked. "None. Should there be?"
He frowned, uncertain. "It's just that - well - before I left you were acting like -" he stopped talking.
She continued to look at him, expectantly. "Acting how?"
"Well, it's just -" he paused. "Never mind. I just don't think you understand. Lew is like a brother to me; I won't do anything to hurt him."
She gave a soft smile. "I love Lew, Danny. I really do. I think you may have misunderstood my joy at Lew having his good friend back."
"Misunderstood?" Images of her flirtation, her provocative gestures, the incriminating bra in his bed all flooded over him.
"Danny, you look confused," she commented innocently.
"It's just that -" He paused and licked his lips. Enough of the grace, just ask her! "Marj, Lew is my friend - my best friend. I would never do anything - but last time I was here…" he took a deep breath. "…you got me drunk and slept with me, didn't you?"
She sat there for a moment, the smile frozen on her face, then began a giggle that rapidly grew into laugh. "Oh, Danny, for a moment you almost had me there! Cute joke. I don't recommend trying it on Lew."
"It's no joke," he replied. Her laughter had raised his indignation. "Marj - there was the perfume, the bra -"
"Bra?" She laughed again. "You obviously don't do a lot of laundry."
He stood frozen in place. She is making excuses.
When he did not relax she chuckled. "I haven't been so flattered in years, Danny! Don't be embarrassed."
"Embarrassed?" he muttered through stiff lips. Embarrassment was not on the short list of feelings right now.
"Danny," she said as gently as a mother might correct an ignorant child, "things get caught up in the sheets in the dryer all the time. Lew loses half his socks that way."
It wasn't a sock, he thought, wishing he could believe her.
Marj settled down a bit, her broad smile mellowing. "My dear dear Danno. My God, you must have been scared witless." A single chuckle escaped her again. "I'm sorry it's just - you should see yourself."
He blinked once. I must look like an idiot. Is she right? Was this all just some messed up assumption? Is that possible? Color was creeping into his cheeks, his face felt hot. God, she must think I am some kind of pervert.
"It's fine, Danny, really. Oh - gee, now you're embarrassed," she looked sympathetic. "Hey, it's okay - really."
He struggled to recover the situation. "Okay, then - I guess I need to get up to Five-0. I, um, I'm glad there isn't any problem." Is she being truthful? I don't know. I really don't know. I want it to be so. Maybe I need to just accept it. But a piece of him doubted. I spend too much time with deceitful people. This is Marjorie. It is okay.
He hoped he was right.
McGarrett was on the lanai, cup of coffee in his left fist when Williams arrived. He had refused to take any pain medication this morning and his left arm throbbed with each heartbeat, but he would not trade the pain for the dulled mind. He turned as Jenny escorted Danny into the room. "Coffee?" He waved his own cup towards the pot.
Danny wondered whose cup he was swiping as he poured the coffee into the mug. I need to bring in a cup. As an afterthought, he realized he did not even know if he had an office.
"The Governor is pleased with how you handled yourself," Steve reported. He led Danny through his office out to the suite and pointed his cup towards the adjoining office. The small lettering on the door spelling out D. Williams. "I hope we were not premature."
Danny did not reply right away. McGarrett and I do not work the same way. He will always be in charge. But he will nearly always be right. I can live with that. A small smile curled his lips. "It's fine, thanks."
"There is one little thing," Steve remarked.
"Your weapon. Baseball bats and ballpoint pens are not this office's weapon of choice. I might add that the situation with Sizegate might have been resolved with less endangerment had you been armed."
Danny nodded and did not give an answer.
"I gave this to you once," Steve held out the .38 snubnose. "I hope this time it sticks."
I choose now to be an officer of the law and take all that involves, weapons included, or I walk away - for good. Danny accepted the gun. "Thanks, McGarrett."
The moment past, Steve quickly reverted to business. "I think Sizegate will give what he knows in time. We aren't going to shut down sex slave trade in one operation," Steve commented as they walked back into the chief's office. "Chin has been following up here and we've arrested two men we think are connected to the local trade. I only wish we could end it all this easily."
Danny gave an inward smile. Easily? We were nearly knifed, shot and drowned. If that is easy this is going to be one tough career. Sounds like fun.
Mara had found the food to be interesting. Over three days, she had grown strong enough to now care what it tasted like. A man from an embassy had come to her hospital room each day to visit her. At first, he had frightened her - she thought someone new was coming to hurt her - but the white woman with the pleasant voice who spoke the English Mara could not understand had comforted her and held her close while the man talked. After two days she no longer cringed away from him. And he was the only person who she could communicate with. After a week, she could walk and visit the flowers outside of the hospital. She saw the other rescued girl once, but they did not speak the same language and the other girl just lay on the bed curled up and crying.
Mara was able to remember more as time went by. After two weeks, she knew a little English - enough to ask for water or to indicate she wanted to see the flowers. A new woman, Mrs. Faulkner, came to visit her now. This woman spoke a little Tamil and asked Mara about things that had happened to her. Mara could not remember a lot, but her face lit up as she recalled wanting to buy her mother a blue dress.
The next day, Mrs. Faulkner brought a new blue dress with her. It was more beautiful than Mara had ever imagined. Mrs. Faulkner suggested it was time for Mara to take the dress home to her mother.
Mara could not help crying for fear and joy. She wanted to go home, but was afraid her family would not want to see her. She had little time to wonder. Mrs. Faulkner also brought another dress, this one for Mara. It was white with pink and blue flowers and there were a pair of white sandals for her feet. When she was dressed, Mrs. Faulkner led her out to an office.
As the door opened, Mara saw her father for the first time and nearly fell into a faint. He leapt to his feet and scooped his missing child into his arms, tears falling without shame. As he wept for joy, so did Mara. Within seconds, there was not a dry eye in the room.
As they recomposed themselves, Mara realized there were other people present including two men whom she thought she should know.
Mara's father spoke in Tamil, first a statement to Mrs. Faulkner, then to Mara. "Mara, these are the men who saved you on the ship," her father said quietly. "You must thank them."
Mara gasped, as the memories flooded back and she recalled the younger man who had held tight to her through the sinking of the ship, never let go in the frothing ocean even when she panicked and could not swim. She remembered the dark haired one shooting the evil fat man who had tortured her for so long. She whispered her thanks in Tamil.
Faulkner turned to Steve and Danny. "This is Mara. She and her father will be returning to Ceylon. Her father has expressed his thanks for the great compassion and courage you both have in rescuing his daughter." Faulkner gave a small smile. "She has said 'thank you.' Mara does not know this yet, but there is a young man back in Ceylon who has not stopped loving her. She will not be going home to disgrace."
Steve nodded and said how good it was to have been included in the reunion and to see Mara returned to her family. He and Danny then headed for the parking lot.
"You have these happy endings often?" Danny commented.
Steve smirked. "Not often enough. But we try, bruddah."
Danny was already glad he had made the decision to sign on with McGarrett's group. Chin was like a parent, Kono already a good drinking buddy. McGarrett could always be trusted.
"A question for you," Steve remarked as they got into the oven-hot hot car.
"Okay," Danny replied.
"Four years ago - the Franks. Where were they when their daughter died?"
Danny gave a subtle smile and did not reply.