Pretense of Justice
by Peg Keeley

Part 10

Even at night gaining access to a hospital was remarkably easy. The lack of security itself was justification for what Marten knew had to come to pass. Clothed in scrubs and a white lab coat, he rode the elevator to the third floor. As he passed a clean laundry cart, he snatched a couple of hand towels and kept walking. This kind of detail was always the hard part of the job. And this one harder than most. He remembered Danny as the innocent eighteen year old who was all about serving his country; the boy who learned most painfully that serving wasn't always honorable or fair or even moral. Serving often meant sacrificing what was good and kind for what was right. And what was right often did not come easy. Like this.

Marten quietly slipped into Danny's hospital room. Williams was asleep and did not move. Good, he was smart and took a sleeping pill. Slipping his hand inside the coat pocket, he pulled out the .22, wrapping it in the hand towel. Placing the gun barrel against Danny's chest over his heart, he double-folded the second towel over the gun and chest. It would be nearly silent, instantaneous -- and not messy. He hesitated in spite of himself, looking at Danny's quiet, peaceful face.

There was a click of a gun cocking and Camp froze.

Steve turned on the small light by the recliner where he sat, his police special aimed at Camp. Neither man said anything for a moment, then Steve uttered. "Hello, Marten. I thought I was done with you."

Camp had not moved, his gun hand still at Danny's chest. "McGarrett," he said quietly. "If you were a better friend, I wouldn't be here right now."

"You mean if I had killed him?" Steve clarified.

"Yes. That is exactly what I mean," Camp replied bluntly.

"You killed Mariotti," Steve remarked.

"Of course. He was a security threat. We always clean up our own messes," Camp stated.

"And Williams is another mess?"

"He knows he is a risk. He is vulnerable. He certainly can't live like this for the next thirty or forty years!" Camp became more emotional. "You think I get my kicks out of this? I am doing this for him, not to him."

"Give me the gun, Camp."

Marten carefully held the .22 out to Steve who took it and looked at the serial number. "Danny's. Where did you get it?"

"He told his aunt to give it to me," Camp answered. "Does that surprise you, McGarrett?"

He wished it had, but admitted: "No, I guess it doesn't." He looked at Danny, sound asleep, ignorant of the debate surrounding him. "He needs to be more patient."

"Let me spell this out for you," Camp said bluntly. He motioned to the other chair. "Are you going to shoot me or can I sit down?"

"I haven't decided yet," Steve replied, but lowered the .38.

Camp sat down, seeming totally at ease, but concerned. "He doesn't want to live like this -- would you? Dependant upon others for everything. What kind of life is that?"

"I already know how he feels," Steve retorted.

Camp paused. "He cannot protect himself. He is a national security risk that cannot be tolerated."

That sounds more like Marten than the guy who gives a shit about his former trainee. "So this isn't really about what he wants -- it's about you." Steve shook his head. "It's always about you."

"It's about our nation, McGarrett, and the mostly closely guarded secrets that maintain our freedoms. It's about the mud and the dirt that average Americans don't even want to think about, let alone accept as fact because they want to sleep at night and believe that the bad guys always lose and that their little children won't ever live in a dangerous world." Camp's expression was black. "And don't give me any of that sanctimonious crap, McGarrett. You know exactly what I'm talking about. Like it or not, that is the way it is. Now, you can either let me finish this or you can think about the next time some enemy of our country decides to attack through the weakest link and know that it lies right there." He jammed a finger towards Danny. "We do this now or someday you will wish you had."

"Save your breath, Camp. It isn't going to happen -- ever."

Camp glanced at Steve then back at Danny. "You think you can stop me?"

Steve's look was grave and intense. "Yes, I do."

Camp slowly eased back and relaxed in the chair, placing his laced fingers behind his head. "What about tomorrow? And the next day?"

"By tomorrow Danny may be regaining his feeling," Steve replied. "And I may just lock you up for killing Mariotti."

Camp chuckled. "Not unless you're willing to arrest a quadriplegic and his elderly aunt as well for conspiracy."

"Clara and Danny did not know about Mariotti," Steve replied.

"My bet is a grand jury will indict. You want to guess the odds?" Camp rose. "Let's look at this from the more -- patriotic -- view. A concerned citizen anonymously saved the life of a Five-0 officer today." He grinned. "Helps those moms and dads sleep better at night." Fearlessly, he turned his back on Steve and walked to the door of the room. "Let Danny know I dropped by, okay?"

Steve watched him leave making no move to restrain him, then very slowly exhaled, as though he had not breathed through the entire exchange. He looked at the .22, then at Danny, and sat through the black of the night awaiting the dawn….

…… Steve had dozed off in the chair briefly, but awoke to the voices of the nurses in the hallway. Dawn was just breaking outside of the window and the birds were singing to bring on the sun. He was stiff, and felt rumpled as he rose and stretched. He walked over to the bed. "Danny?"

Danny slowly awoke, puzzlement on his face. What happened? Why am I still here?

Steve said nothing, just waited for Danny to slowly make eye contact. We both know what happened. If he isn't thankful now, maybe later he will be.

"Steve?" Danny murmured.

"I need to know something," Steve said softly. "Do I need to put you under protective custody, or do I need to set up a suicide watch? You make the choice."

Danny slowly exhaled before speaking. "I was ready to do this last night. The next time Camp comes, it won't be announced. It will just come. Dammit, Steve, it isn't about if I want it or not -- but I do. This is never going to change, Steve. Can't you understand that?!" His voice choked. "They will come back. Today, tomorrow, a month from now." His right hand tightened into a fist as his emotion intensified. "Can you justify the cost of putting an officer on me twenty four hours a day for the next umpteen years?"

Steve's anger flared. "So now you're going to turn this into dollars and cents?"

"Dollars and cents! National security! It all comes out the same!" Danny exclaimed, although shouting was beyond his capability.

"And what part of it is you just giving up?" Steve demanded.

"Like I said -- it all comes out the same," he answered more quietly.

"You are a coward," Steve said coldly.

Danny glared at him, trying to deny the pain of the words. At least something can feel. "If you say so," he replied quietly. "Just get the hell out of here and leave me alone."

"Danny," Steve said quietly, looking down at Danny's right fist.

"What?" he responded angrily.

He reached out and pinched Danny's knuckle.

Their eyes met. Danny blinked. "Steve -- I felt that. I felt that!"

Doc Bergman had been in the shower when his wife took the call. As usual, she had been pleasant to the nurses, but not cheerful -- it was 5:30am. Whatever it was could have waited until after breakfast. She had always thought that being married to a forensic physician might mean, amongst other things, the patients would never call. That was before Bergman had signed on with Steve McGarrett. "Nurses' station from ICU neuro on the phone!" She shouted above the noise of the water.

He poked his dripping head out of the door. "Neuro?" He shut off the water although his hair was still soaped and, throwing a towel around himself, walked, dripping out to the hall to take the phone. "Bergman....Mother of God, that's good news!...Yes…I'm on my way." He hung up the phone and started for the bedroom.

"Lenny!" his wife called.

"Sorry about the dripping."

"No - you've got shampoo in your hair."

He grinned. "Oh."

Less than an hour later, Bergman, soap removed and clothed, had completed his assessment as the sun broke over the horizon between the buildings and shone bright red through the window. He was trying hard to maintain a professional composure -- but good news was rare in his line of work. He gave a broad grin. "Well, I am glad to say -- I told you so. Gonna get some tests done, see what the neuro conduction is like, but Danny, you've got a lot pretty quickly. Most of the time patients coming back only move a thumb or finger for a day or two."

Danny clenched and flexed his fingers on his right hand, he'd been doing it over and over just to appreciate the sensation. Even the rising stinging sensation along his spine was welcome. "My back hurts. Why can't I feel my legs?"

"Wait till I have the tests."

Steve rubbed his tired eyes. He was still realizing that this morning had almost been so different. If I had not heard him ask for that sleeping pill last night -- knowing he's never used something like that ever -- this morning would have been a tragedy. Everything is a result of that two second observation.

Aunt Clara came through the door. "Danny! Steve told me!" She hurried to his bedside where he demonstrated the movement in his right hand for her. "I am so proud of you!" she said, beaming. "You see? I knew you would beat this. You always do!"

"Got a ways to go, Aunt Clara," Danny told her. "But it is a first step." A first step? Yes, it has to be. I really can beat this now. What is it they say: night is always darkest before the dawn? He felt beads of sweat on his face as well as his arms. Everything touching him seemed to be irritating and his nerves over-sensitive. The tingling stinging had progressed across his back, his chest and stopped ominously at his hips.

Moments later, the neuro lab team arrived with a gurney. They also had been roused to come in early for the testing -- their attitudes were less than excited. As they took Danny from the room, Steve turned to Aunt Clara. "Want to grab a cup of coffee?"

"Delighted," she replied with a broad smile.

As they sat down in the corner of the cafeteria, Steve said, "A man came by the other day to the apartment and said Danny told you to give him a gun."

Her cheerful expression sobered a little, noting the official sound to Steve's voice. "Yes. He showed a badge. He knew right where the gun was -- he even had a key and unlocked the chest himself. He said Danny wanted him to take it. Did I do something wrong?"

Steve shook his head. How do I tell her what nearly happened? I don't. She doesn't know the massive impact Marten Camp has had on Danny's life over the years and it needs to stay that way. "It is okay, Ms. Williams. Everything turned out fine."

She stirred the sugar into her coffee in contemplation. "Why did Danny give that officer his gun?"

Steve hesitated. "There was a matter the officer was handling. I think Danny and he both thought it best he have Danny's .22."

"I get the feeling you don't think so."

He blinked. She is a lot more intuitive than I give her credit for. He gave a quiet smile. "I have a team of highly trained officers -- they should be capable of making independent decisions and standing by them from time to time. Sometimes it's hard when I think things could have been handled better."

"Hum," she sipped the coffee. "I have been around that hospital long enough to hear the talk, McGarrett."

He lifted his eyebrows in staged innocence. "Really?" Fortunately there will be no gossip about what actually almost happened last night.

Steve relaxed some. "We are getting it sorted out."

"I don't want any corners cut because of who's paying what," she stated firmly. "I will see to it that whatever is necessary is done. Perhaps I should have Danny transferred to New York."

"Ah -- I don't think he would want that, Ms. Williams."

She gave a little giggle. "And isn't it so good to know that what he thinks will now matter?"

Steve blinked in astonishment. So, if Danny is immobile, his opinion didn't matter? Now he has some movement, it does?

Aunt Clara, a twinkle in her eye commented, "I tried to get that kind Dr. Bergman to tell me when Danny will be able to come home, but I don't think he wanted to commit just yet. I have a wonderful surprise for Danny."

Steve tried to conceal his shock. "Surprise?"

"I have spared no expense. I have decorators coming to completely redecorate his apartment."

"Hum, do you think he should have some input?" Steve asked gently.

"No. Do you? His taste in décor is appalling," she declared. "I've seen college dorm rooms that are better coordinated. He may complain on the surface, but underneath he will appreciate it."

Steve tried to look positive. "I'm sure he will, Ms. Williams." He will hit the roof and I will probably be the one stuck undoing it all. Thank you for your generosity, Ms. Williams.

"I want talk to you about Ben Kokua," she suddenly said bluntly.


"Yes, your officer who was shot yesterday."

What is this all about? Probably something that is none of her business, but I should placate her. "Okay," he agreed, although an edge of caution was in the tone of his voice.

"I met his young wife."

"His -- wife?" Steve was stunned. "They are engaged, not married."

"A sweet young thing. She was just crying her hear out," Clara continued.

"Iliki is his wife?" Steve was still hung on her initial statement.

Clara gave him a scrutinizing glare. "You didn't know that Ben was married."

"I -- no. He was engaged. Married?"

"They were married on Tuesday night. Imagine that. Why was he working when he should have been with his wife on a honeymoon?" she demanded.

Steve stammered, truly embarrassed and still unable to get his mind around the fact that Ben was married. He called in sick. Now it makes sense. Danny told him to take off -- so he could get married? Why didn't Danny tell me? A lot has happened since Tuesday night.

"They are having a real soul searching time. You should be there for them," Clara declared.

"Ms. Williams, I am not here to monitor the love life of my officers," Steve said, attempting it to sound gentle. "I did speak with Iliki and encouraged her last night."

She glared at him. "You should be ashamed. She told me he thinks he has to choose between the woman he loves and his career. Now that just isn't right. They need your help and assurance."

Totally at a loss for how to deal with her he gritted his teeth and asked: "What do you think I should do?"

She sat in silence for just a moment. "You're a man. What do men do for each other? What would you do for my Danny?"

Men stay out of other men's love lives. I wouldn't have to do anything for Danny because he's smarter than to let a woman interfere with his career. Ben -- doesn't have his priorities straight. What should they be? He's always been a loyal officer, inventive -- he laid it on the line yesterday. Chin and Duke have never had these problems with their wives -- at least I don't think they have. What if they just never told me? Steve drank his coffee to avoid having to speak. Maybe there is something I can do for Ben. I should have thought of this before. "Thank you, Ms. Williams, for your concern. I will see what I can do for Ben -- and his wife."

She gave a confident smile, believing that once again she had come to the rescue of an underdog and handled the dilemma.

Duke inspected the meal tray on Ben's bedside table. "Hospital food never gets any better," he remarked.

"Gonna sneak me in some of Mary's haupia?"

Duke laughed slightly. "For breakfast?"

"Good anytime," he replied. "You think I get escape this place and see Danny?"

"I'm sure we can arrange that," Duke replied. "But everyone's going a bit nuts up there right now. I think getting feeling back has had the unpleasant side effect of feeling pain, too. Maybe a little later today. I'll get you up there, promise."

"What about that movie thing?"

"Well, Manicote says that the lawyer is trying to get Moreland released on bail to make the movie." He shrugged. "Andersen manages to have a way with these things."

Ben shook his head. "Andersen needs to be locked up for what he's doin' to that boy."

"Until we can get Mattingly to admit it, our hands are tied. His dad isn't going to face it --- people get a bit nuts around celebrities I guess. Hear anything from Iliki?"

His countenance fell a little. "She was here last night -- I was pretty doped up. Maybe this just wasn't supposed to be, Duke. Maybe I'm just supposed to be like Danny and Steve and devote myself to Five-0."

"She say anything last night?"

"I can't remember," he admitted. That doesn't sound good. I can't recall what the person I am supposed to love told me? "I think I tried to tell her it was okay to break it off. I just wanted to make it easier for her."

Duke wasn't sure that the logic was good, but did not argue. "I have to get down to the Surfrider. Steve's not gonna be leaving here today." Interfering with personal lives was not something Duke felt comfortable with, he certainly did not consider himself to be a cupid, but he stopped downstairs in the lobby and placed a call to Iliki. After basic greetings he got to the point. "Are you coming to see Ben today?"

"I want to," she said quietly, "but I don't think he wants me there. He was pretty cold last night."

"I think you should come."

"I don't think he loves me anymore," she whispered over the phone.

"Iliki, he has adored you for three years. Nothing has happened to change that. You got startled by something you didn't expect with that tabloid. Now he got shot. This is a whole lot for just a couple of days. He was drugged last night and coming out of surgery. I think he was just saying what he thought you wanted to hear. You should tell him what you really feel before this gets any more tangled."

Getting off the phone, Duke left the hospital and started his car towards the Moana Surfrider. This is an assignment that will not end. He had been astonished to learn that Andersen planned to continue the film and had retained some of the priciest attorneys in the country to see to it that Moreland was released on bail. I guess the show must go on.

Dispatch suddenly announced: "All units, 187 at 2365 Kalakaua Avenue. Closest unit respond please."

The Moana Surfrider -- homicide? Two black-n-whites had answered when Duke added his response. "Lukela, Five-0. I'm on it." He slapped the small red bubble light on his roof and hit the siren.

The hotel manager was in shock when he met Duke. "I don't understand. How can this happen? They just called the front desk like - like …." His speech failed.

"Who called the desk?" Duke asked.

"I think it was the Mattingly boy." He exited the elevator with Duke on the sixth floor. The hallway was already crowded with photographers, police in uniform and several EMTs. He led Duke into Andersen's room.

Duke was accustomed to gore, but the scene still caught his breath away. Rickie Mattingly sat on a chair, wrapped in a bed sheet smeared with blood, rocking to and fro slightly, weeping. He was extremely pale. Larry stood beside him, shocked past words, his hand protectively on his son's shoulder.

Andersen was sprawled on his back across the large king sized bed, his naked lower half on the bed, his upper half off the side against the floor. The bed, the walls and the floor were spattered with the blood from his multiple stab wounds. A uniformed officer with latex gloves on held out the plastic bag containing a table knife.

Duke looked from the weapon to the grizzly results. "What do you have?"

"Call placed by the front desk at 6:39am. Report that a man had been stabbed to death. We haven't taken any statements yet," the officer replied.

Duke nodded and took the evidence in his hand. It would take forensics to count the number of times Andersen had been stabbed, but the ragged tears on the skin told of the amount of force needed with the dull table wear. The torso had been punctured so many times it looked something like hamburger meat. Comparatively, there were only a few stabs on his arms, most of them the upper arms and none on his legs. There was one wound to the neck that had penetrated the trachea and the most disturbing one through the right eye socket. This was a crime of rage. Duke turned towards Rickie and Larry and chose to address the father first.

"Can you tell me what happened?"

Larry stared at him. "I didn't know," he murmured. "I didn't know."

"What didn't you know?" Duke asked him.

He shifted his gaze towards the body. "That bastard!!" He flew into a rage and three officers leapt upon him to keep him back from the body. He continued to scream and rage under the restraint of the officers.

Well, the Dad is certainly a likely suspect. "Get him out of here," Duke ordered them. "We need the police psychiatrist on him as soon as you can get him booked."

The officers pulled Larry from the room, still kicking and fighting.

Duke glanced down at Rickie who remained as he had been on Duke's arrival. The explosive outburst of his father seemed to have gone unnoticed. Duke pulled up a chair and sat opposite the boy. "Rickie, I need to talk with you. Is that okay?"

Rickie glanced at him, then pulled the sheet more tightly about himself.

"Did Andersen hurt you?"

Rickie continued to stare at nothing. He grimaced as he took a breath and finally whispered. "Ally."

Duke looked up in alarm. Allison Stamper was not in the room. Where is she? Just as he started to rise, Steve and Chin entered. Duke was only mildly surprised that McGarrett had heard so quickly about the stabbing.

"Duke? What's happening?" Steve asked.

Stepping away from Rickie Duke reported: "Somebody stabbed Andersen to death with a table knife. Boy's dad went psychotic when I started to question him. He's been taken to HPD for booking and an evaluation by their shrink. I was just starting to talk to Rickie. He said just one word: 'Ally'."

Steve glanced around. "I'll check her room. You work on Rickie. Chin, Ally trusted you once before; you come with me."

Duke nodded. Returning to Rickie he asked quietly: "Did Andersen hurt Ally?"

Rickie made brief eye contact. "I couldn't let him do this anymore." He gasped. "I don't feel very good."

Duke touched Rickie's arm in support. "What couldn't you let him do anymore?"

Rickie broke into quiet sobbing, lowering his head between his arms.

Duke glanced at the EMT. "Take him to the med center. We need a rape workup."

Steve knocked on the door to Allison's room and it was answered by the bodyguard. Steve and Chin held up their badges. "Have you been here all night?" Steve asked.

"Yeah," he announced.

"Awake or asleep?" Steve demanded.

"Sleeping -- right there." He pointed to the blanket draped couch.

"Then you wouldn't know if Allison Stamper left by her own will?" he asked.

He scowled. "What's happening?" The arrest of Maggie the day before had rattled him. He was now defensive of the island cops going after Allison.

"Where is Ally?" Steve demanded.

"Steve," Chin called, having moved farther back into the suite. "Shower is running."

Steve knocked with the gun butt on the door. "Ally, we need to talk to you."

There was no response.

"Ally?" the guard called, now in alarm.

The three of them exchanged glances, a little reluctant to break through the bathroom door where a young female was showering.

"Allsion, we are coming in," Steve announced, mentally plotting how to minimize her exposure once they did. He slammed his shoulder into the door, expecting to hear screaming, but was only greeted by billows of steam and the splashing sounds of water. He hurled back the shower curtain to find Ally Stamper huddled, unconscious, by the faucet of the tub, blood from her slit wrists flowing freely down the drain. Throwing a towel over her, he lifted her out onto the bath floor. "She's alive, we need the medics," Steve declared.

The hospital room Ben now occupied was much less threatening than recovery had been the night before, but Iliki still hesitated in the doorway.

He was sitting up in the bed, his left arm in a sling, TV controller in the right flipping channels on the television to pass time. He had not noticed her arrival.

"Can I come in?" she asked quietly.

He looked at her in surprise and punched the button to shut off the TV. "Iliki," he said in embarrassed haste. "Yes, sure. Come in."

She carefully came into the room, arms wrapped about herself in discomfort.

"Please, have a chair," he motioned her to the one beside the bed.

She came close, but did not sit. "How are you feeling?" she ventured to ask.

"I'll be okay. Getting shot hurts more than you think it will," he commented. "Not like flesh wounds on TV." He gave a self-conscious smile.

Her brow furrowed in concern. "I am sorry about all this. I really made a mess of things."

"You made a mess? I made the mess. I just haven't been thinking clearly. I'm sorry for everything I put you through." He bit the inside of his lip. "I never meant to hurt and deceive you. That night we eloped -- it was so special. I guess to you it seems like a trick now."

She fingered her long dark hair and shook her head. "No, it doesn't."

He relaxed a little. "I was just so afraid of losing you." His dark eyes met hers and did not waver. "I want to spend my life with you, but I don't ever want to hurt you like this again."

"Last night you told me to leave," she whispered.

Did I? His mouth hung open for an instant. "I -- I thought that -- I mean -- I just want you to be happy. I don't think I can do that for you. You need someone more -- stable."

She managed a small smile. "Now you sound like my father."

He smirked. "Maybe your father has been right."

"I guess it all looked like fun, getting married and all, but it really did change everything. I should have trusted you more. I was so---" She tossed her hands as words failed her. "I want our marriage to be something special. We can't just walk away from this."

"What about the annulment?" he asked gently.

Iliki twisted a strand of hair. "Ben, I didn't tell my dad about our marriage."

"That was probably a good thing. You could just get it annulled quietly," he replied. And her father won't come to kill me.

"I didn't annul it."

"You what?"

"We're still married."

"We are?" His face brightened with hope.

She nodded. "I got to thinking -- really thinking and --- " Her heart was pounding in her ears in fear. What if he really doesn't want me anymore? "I guess we can annul it if you want to, but -- I really want to be Mrs. Ben Kokua -- even if it is wife of a Five-0 detective."

He threw back the blanket in spite of the pain from his shoulder. "Iliki -- I want to be with you!" he blurted. "I was just trying to do what you wanted." He pulled her close, tears brimming his eyes. "I will do anything, go anywhere. I want us to be together forever and ever. We can work out everything else -- I don't care about my job or where we live or your parents." An hour ago I was recommitting myself to Five-0. An hour was a lifetime ago.

Tears running down her cheeks, she hugged him carefully around his injury. "I love you, too. I love you so much!"

He embraced her, squeezing his eyes tightly shut, feeling at peace as all the fears and stresses seemed to disappear. If I have Iliki nothing else matters.

Rickie Mattingly lay curled in a hospital gown, wrapped in a white hospital blanket on the gurney appearing very small and helpless; a stark contrast with the defiant young man in his picture. The ER exam had revealed a ruptured colon and internal bleeding. Nearly catatonic, the boy had laid zombie-like through the medical exam and given no responses to questioning that had been attempted first by Steve, then by a rape psychology specialist. He was in the process of being prepped for emergency surgery.

Allison Stamper had regained consciousness during the second bag of IV fluid as the alcohol and barbiturate cleared her blood stream. At Steve's suggestion, Chin went in to her.

She recalled him and smiled when she saw him. "I remember you," she whispered through a hoarse voice.

He gave a gentle fatherly smile. "We've all been concerned for you, Allison." He sat down next to her. "You had a pretty tough day yesterday."

She turned her face away. "I did a terrible thing," she whispered.

"Would you like to talk about it?" he asked. It seemed unlikely this frail girl could have murdered Andersen.

She looked back at him. "I killed my baby." Her face twisted in sadness. "Jack said…it was supposed to be so different." She blinked back tears. "Now thye tell he had Ronnie killed. And he talked me into killing my baby."

Chin nodded. "This must be very difficult for you." He waited just a moment. "Can you tell me anything about Mr. Andersen and last night?'

A haunted look came over her. "I didn't know."

Odd, that was Larry Mattingly's statement, too. "Didn't know?"

"Hans said he wanted to help me feel better. I shouldn't be alone." She stopped talking.

"What did he do to help you not be alone?"

"Went to his suite."

"Was anyone else there?" Chin glanced at Steve standing in the shadows. McGarrett gave an approving nod.

She seemed to be struggling to remember. "Had a drink. It made me feel so funny. Light-headed."

"It was just you and Andersen in the room?"

She nodded. "I felt so dizzy. It's all so fuzzy." She squinted. "I woke up hearing screams." The pieces seemed to be coming together for her.

"Andersen screaming?"

"No. Rickie. Hans was ---" she paused, "-he was hurting him. There was talk about Rickie and Andersen, but I didn't know…Rickie was begging him to stop." Alarm washed over her. "I suddenly realized my clothes were gone.I was just laying in the stuffed chair naked. I was afraid. Hans saw me move, that I was awake -- he laughed. He said Rickie would never get it on with a woman. He got up -- Rickie was crying. He told Rickie he was going to show him what it was like with a woman. Rickie tried to stop him and he hit Rickie really hard in the stomach. Rickie fell down…." She pressed a hand to her face. "Hans came towards me -- I was too tired to move -- and Rickie…"

"Did Rickie do something to stop him?"

She nodded slightly. "He hit Hans with something -- Hans grabbed him and then Rickie had something he stabbed Hans with. Then they were both screaming. Hans -- he fell down and Rickie just kept hitting him -- I was really afraid. I was so dizzy, I crawled away -- got back into my room."

"Where was Rickie's father?"

Her look was sadly vacant. "Never saw him."

Isn't that the epitaph of Rickie's life? His father was never there. "Allison, what did you do when you got back to your room?"

Tears clouded her eyes. "I thought Hans would come. My mother betrayed me. Jack lied to me. Ronnie was dead. I thought Hans would kill Rickie. I didn't want him to hurt me like Rickie. I thought if I could kill myself first…." She made eye contact with Chin. "I didn't want to die, but I have killed my baby…" she buried her face.

Chin walked over to Steve. "One messed up little girl."

Little girl? How ironic, that was what her mother wanted to keep her. Steve gazed at the sobbing teen.

It was nearly mid afternoon when Steve was able to get away from the emotion and paperwork that surrounded the death of Hans Andersen. Needing the relief, he decided to escape up to his hospitalized detectives. Stopping by Ben's room, he kidnapped him in a wheelchair and minutes later, they were all in Danny's room.

"How you doin', Bruddah?" Steve asked of Danny.

"Better than I was," he replied, although his expression was a pained one. "Got a nice morphine drip going. For three days I just wanted to feel anything -- now they've got narcotics running to stop the feeling. Ironic, huh? Feels like every nerve is doing overtime. Everything feels and everything hurts."

"Some people are never happy," Ben commented.

Unable to move his head, Danny could not see him, but knew his voice. "What about you?"

"I'm ready to get outta here," Ben answered. "This getting' shot stuff isn't all it's cracked up to be. No fun being on disability when you really can't do anything."

Steve gave an internal wince and recalled the recent insurance war. Unfinished business, but John is not confident that we will make it through.

"What about those two kids?" Danny asked.

"Well, some producer somewhere gets a nice income tax write-off for the investment loss. Maggie Stamper is trying to plea out by rolling over on Moreland. Don't think there is anything she can give us we don't already have. Forensics reports that Andersen, Rickie and Ally were all loaded on drugs. Andersen apparently doped her on barbiturates without her knowledge. He gave Rickie more than his usual coke dose. Andersen himself was on some kind of hallucinogenic. He probably didn't know what he was doing himself. Mattingly is in surgery for a ruptured colon. If Stamper hadn't woken up, Mattingly probably would have been killed. No difficulty with a self-defense plea for Rickie in the stabbing death of Andersen."

"They were just kids," Danny murmured. "It seems like it's very parent's dream of have their son or daughter be idolized by the world. Even most of the good parents don't understand what they are doing to these innocent and moldable children. The addiction to the applause -- the emotional starvation of rejection is just too much for them. And the bad ones like Maggie Stamper and Larry Mattingly -- they are just throwing their kids to the wolves for their own gratification."

"Are you charging the boy's dad?" Ben asked.

"We still don't have a law against stupid," Steve remarked. "All we've got is neglect. John doesn't think that'll even fly. Difficult to prove neglect when your kid makes a couple million dollars a year. A shame that he'll go unpunished."

"He'll have to live with what he allowed to happen to his son," Ben suggested. "No matter what, that boy is messed up for life."

Bergman stepped into the room. "Thought I'd find you all here," he remarked. "Some nurse called and reported Ben as AWOL." He placed a clipboard on the bedside table "Well, Danny, in a couple of days we can put your physical therapist back to work again. Maybe you'll lose the halo by Christmas, but it will take a lot of work to be standing up for Ben here on the 27th, that is if there will be anything on the 27th." He looked at Ben.

"We're working on that," he replied. "She told her folks we were married and her dad kind of accepted that. Her mother cried and still wants a church wedding. Iliki brought by two catalogues of stuff already. Makes me want to elope again."

"Don't worry, Ben -- I'll be there. Promise," Danny said with determination.

Bergman gave a knowing nod. Nothing works better to get Danny to do something than to tell him he can't.

Steve pulled a notice from his pocket. "Jenny gave this to me. Looks like it has your name on it." He handed it to Ben.

He unfolded the paper one-handed. "Appointment to Maui?"

Steve gave a slight shrug. "Tourism is kicking up down there. I suggested to Jameson we needed a bigger presence on Maui and should have an officer there all the time. He agreed." And my only other option is to eventually lose you. Sooner or later your new wife will come first. Probably better that it be sooner. "Congratulations on your marriage," he added wisely.

Ben hesitated. "Steve, I don't know what to say. Thank you." I would never have imagined Steve to be so -- intuitive.

Thank Clara Williams. "Just get healthy, okay?" he said with a smile.

Bergman took hold of the handles of Ben's wheelchair and with a comment about returning the escapee to the second floor, they left.

Danny slowly lifted his hand and put it on Steve's arm. The movement was still something he did not take for granted. "You did that for him?"

Steve blinked, also appreciating Danny's action. "Of course, it was the least I could do, don't you think? I didn't want him up and quitting on us. We are too good a team to risk losing anyone."

"Duke told me that his father once said that it is how we respond to what looks like unbeatable odds that tests our character. I somehow think you believe I failed that test."

"It doesn't matter," Steve answered. "Let's look to the future now."

Not this time. "It wasn't that I wanted to die. The first time Camp came and I thought he was going to take me out right there -- I wanted to live more than anything. I did not want to die -- I just didn't want to live."

Steve waited for moment. Is there some response to this? You either live or you die, not much in the middle. "You didn't want to live like that -- dependent on others."


"You think it was going to be easier for those who care about you to accept that you didn't think enough of us that we would maybe want that burden?" Steve paused to let it sink in. "Do you trust me, Danno?"

Their eyes met. "With my life." As he said it, he realized that he had not acted out those words. If I trusted Steve with my life, I did not do that when I thought I might be dependent on him and others for it. But he came through anyway. "Okay, I got it."

Deciding enough was said for the moment, McGarrett gave a grin. "Good, because I think you'll need my help a little longer. Your aunt painted your bathroom pink."


"And wait till you see the chicken themed kitchen."



Former child actor, Paul Peterson (of the Donna Reed Show) has an organization dedicated to the support
and legal rights of children in entertainment at A Minor Consideration.


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