by Rita Ractliffe
The cool, early morning breeze swirled around him, chilling his bare legs. The deserted beach was silent and peaceful, the only sound that of small wavelets lapping onto the sandy shore. He stood for a long moment, surrounded by the bushy undergrowth, looking down the long stretch of shoreline.
"You've got to take that first step, Steve. It won't go away without it."
The soft, sugary sand held his feet firmly in place. He hesitated for another moment, turning back to look at the Mercury, parked as he'd parked it that other morning - nose buried in the bushes. Everything was the same - but it wasn't really. It never would be quite the same again.
"Innocence lost and all that....."
Turning his attention resolutely back to the task at hand, he looked once again down the length of deserted shoreline then took his first tentative step toward the water.
"No heavy jogging the doc said...brisk walk would be okay."
Steve swallowed hard, took another step and then began to walk, not looking back.
"About a mile should do it."
He began his long ground-eating stride, looking at the scenery around him, deeply drinking it all in, relishing the fact that he was here to enjoy it - this time it had been too close, far too close. While lost in his thoughts, the time passed quicker than he'd realized and he turned around for the return trip.
As he passed the McGovern house, he saw Jimmie playing in the yard. The little boy waved at him, glad to see his friend. Steve waved back, a big smile on his features. As he came closer to his original starting point, he found himself slowing down. This was the hard part...going back into those bushes. The overpowering memory of being senselessly waylaid consumed him: hot lead burning into his body, over and over again, filling it with fiery pain; his efforts to fight back to get some control over the situation, then finally brought down to face death on his belly, his lifeblood trickling into the sand below him. His heart was beating faster, even though he hadn't really exerted himself all that much during his walk.
"It's okay -- nothing is going to happen. It was a once in a lifetime...."
His thoughts broke off suddenly when he saw a shadowy figure lurking in the bushes. His heartbeat definitely sped up and adrenaline began pumping through him. He approached slowly, wanting nothing more than to just turn around and go the other way, a void the whole thing, yet morbidly fascinated with this sudden deja vu. The figure was jut behind the bushes - where Trinian had stood. Steve tried to clamp down on his racing heartbeat.
"This is ridiculous, Steve. You're overreacting. It couldn't happen again...it couldn't!"
Forward, step by anxious step, McGarrett climbed the last few feet of the slight incline, anticipation and dread both vying foremost for attention.
Dan Williams stepped out from behind the bush and smiled at his chief.
"Hi, Steve. Thought you might be here."
Sudden relief flooded McGarrett's soul, leaving him momentarily weak-kneed, and making him feel foolish for his fears.
"Danno - geez, you had me going for a moment there."
With a start, Danny William realized abashedly how it must have looked. Trying to keep a low profile so Steve wouldn't feel he was being babysat, he had given the impression of someone up to no good - and at this place, considering what had happened here, that was damned insensitive.
"Sorry, Steve. Didn't mean to startle you. Just wanted to make sure.."
Danny couldn't finish it. "Make sure you were okay, Knew you had to come back here to do this, didn't mean you had to do it alone."
"Make sure you were okay."
McGarrett caught the unstated truth, however, and was grateful for it. He smiled raggedly at his younger friend.
"Yeah...I'm okay, Danno. I am. It's going to be all right."
He stood on the little hillock and looked back down the beach one more time, the ghosts laid to rest. How often he would come back here would be worked out later - at least he knew now that he could come back here with no fear gripping him in a paralyzing hold. Striding up to Williams, he slapped him on the shoulder, his smile broader.
"Well, I guess we ought to be getting in to work, huh?"
Passing by his friend, he headed confidently toward the car.
Danny watched the departing man's stride - firm and strong. Early that morning he'd covertly followed Steve from his house, sensing today was the day Steve was going to figuratively climb back into the saddle - to confront whatever fear the shooting had left him with. Unsure of what reaction that effort might precipitate, he'd borrowed an old car from a HPD friend, put on a scruffy had, and discreetly tailed McGarrett, knowing Steve would want to do it alone.
"Didn't mean I could watch from a distance though...just in case."
Danny watched the Mercury slide smoothly out of the parking space and roar off through the feathery pines towards town.
"No, he's fine. He's just fine. No need to worry."
And with that reassuring thought, Williams headed towards his own car, rejoicing in the bright sunny day.
April 27, 1995 by Rita Ractliffe