Red  Christmas

 

                                                                                                            By Barbara Huff

                                                                                                  With editing by gm & as

 

 _______________________________________________________

 

 

Early November 1969

 

The doors to the black Ford LTD slammed simultaneously as Steve McGarrett and Dan Williams arrived back at the Iolani Palace. McGarrett leaned on the roof of his car and listened to his passenger, who imitated his boss’s position.

 

“Did you notice, Steve, that the number of stab wounds has gone from four in victim number one to ten in victim number two, and now to sixteen in victim number three?”

 

Steve blew out a deep breath of air. “Yeah, and don’t forget the slit throats in numbers two and three.”

 

Dan wrinkled his nose. “I have the feeling this isn’t gonna stop until we catch this guy.” The pair stepped away from the vehicle and were making their way to the palace steps.

 

“I’m wondering whether the first one might not be related,” Williams said distantly, as if he hadn’t completely formed the idea.

 

McGarrett stopped walking for a few seconds as Dan continued walking. Dan was almost startled when Steve’s voice came from behind him.

 

“You know, now that you mention it—” the man’s thought was interrupted by another voice behind him. 

 

“Mr. McGarrett! Is there ANY way for a law-abiding girl to get your attention?”

 

Sultry – the detective could think of no other way to describe the voice that had called his name. It made him turn to face the tall, striking woman. She was slender and had an air of sophistication that McGarrett found instantly appealing. She wore her white blonde hair in a thick braid that wrapped around the top of her head in a crown. A little older than his second-in-command perhaps, but younger than him. And her face…her face   a porcelain complexion, pale blue eyes, and full lips, brushed with something that made them glisten. Business, McGarrett, business.

 

“Reporters need to address any inquiries to Detective Williams, Miss—Miss?”

 

Not bothering to veil the flirtatious tone, she responded, “Carla – Carla Hayes.”

 

Amused, he allowed himself the brief pleasure of the attraction he felt. “Miss Hayes.”

 

“Danny’s cute, but too he’s young.” She tipped her head to one side slightly. “Besides, I’d rather get the lowdown from the top dog. I’m not a reporter – I’m an author.”

 

“Well, you sound like a reporter.”

 

Without investing any time in the realization, McGarrett, certain the woman must be fairly new to the islands – he would’ve remembered a reporter this beautiful-- had already picked up the press’s habit of addressing his much younger second-in-command by his first name. The very capable Williams was often underestimated because of his appearance, and this fact worked against him as often as it worked in his favor. In this case, the head of Five-0 had the thought that today was an ‘AGAINST’ day.

 

He had a fleeting thought to indulge in the veiled word game with the reporter, but glanced over his shoulder, knowing Dan was waiting for him some twenty paces away.

 

“Be that as it may, Miss Hayes, Detective Williams is managing the press – and all inquiring authors – on this case.” 

 

With a smile he suspected might have been a little regretful, he turned away from the woman and caught up to his detective.

 

“She totally digs you, Steve.” Dan smiled and gave his boss a sideways glance.

 

“What’s not to ‘dig,’ Danno,” came the response from the detective. He’d also noticed the body language that accompanied the woman’s subtle innuendo.

 

“She’s the one I mentioned, the one that’s writing the book on unsolved cases.”

 

Steve didn’t respond out loud, but he admitted to himself that Danno had been right – his detective had been astute enough very early on in their association to notice what type of women turned his head.

 

Dan didn’t let go of the subject. “What a knockout!”

 

With that, McGarrett stopped suddenly and turned to his second-in-command. He paused for a few moments, studying Williams, and then started to make a teasing comment about his friend’s libido, but instead another comment slipped out as he considered the subject.

 

“You’re right – she is attractive.”  He slapped Dan on the shoulder and as they arrived at the palace doors, he added, “Too bad she’s a reporter.”

 

 

Late November 1969

 

 

Steve McGarrett and Chin Ho Kelly carefully stepped over the now-congealed, burgundy stream that wended its way from the bungalow and down its front step into the sand. With a distasteful grimace exchanged, the two men moved on to the interior of the small beachfront accommodation. Two uniformed HPD officers were diligently processing evidence – so far, it looked as though they had two coffee cups, a blood-stained butcher knife, and three burned-out camera flashbulbs. Doctor Bergman dropped a white sheet onto a lifeless form by the bed, and stood as the two detectives approached.

 

“More of the same, Doc?” McGarrett asked the medical examiner.

 

“More of the same and more, Steve.” Bergman didn’t wait to explain. “More stab wounds, more post-mortem hacking – but the same MO. It appears the victim did very little to defend himself, so I’m betting that I’ll find evidence of a sedative overdose in this one too.”

 

McGarrett squatted enough to lift the sheet and do a quick visual inspection of the body. Having seen the previous four dead men, he was braced for the gory sight, but that did nothing to assuage his revulsion. The victim was a man, apparently in his late thirties or early forties. Blood still oozed slowly from the long slice in his neck. There were dozens of stab wounds in his back, and the detective noted that it appeared that the killer had swung his weapon in a chopping fashion several times as well, leaving several deep lacerations throughout the back of the body. The brutality of the fatal assault struck even the seasoned investigator.

 

“Where’s Danno?” the detective asked of no one in particular. He was the one that the head of Hawaii-0 expected to see when he entered the one-room building.

 

Bergman obliged and motioned with his head. “He’s out back talking to the guy who found the body.”

 

McGarrett stood and, as he headed out the back door, addressed Chin. “Get this evidence processed as quickly as possible.”

 

The Oriental detective nodded and turned to focus on what the HPD men were doing.

 

As Bergman had indicated, Dan Williams was there with a man perhaps in his late twenties, in cut-off jeans and a t-shirt, with light brown, curly hair, not unlike the detective who stood next to him. Appearing as if he might become ill, he nodded as Dan patted him on the shoulder.

 

“We’ll be in touch, and if you think of anything else, no matter how insignificant you think it might be, please get in touch with me.” Dan said and with that, the man wandered off towards the front of the little house.

 

As soon as Williams saw his boss, he walked over and stood next to him, but did not speak. Instead, he shook his head and looked at his notebook.

 

“You alright?” McGarrett asked touching Dan’s shoulder.

 

The young man glanced up at his boss with an unconvincing smile and then made a point of scrutinizing the notes he’d just written. “Pretty gruesome in there.” He closed his notebook with a little more force than was necessary suddenly. “Who is this guy? What could drive a human being to hack up another human being like that?”

 

The senior detective studied his protégé for a few moments. He knew Williams well enough to recognize that he was affected by the scene inside.

 

“I can’t answer that one, my friend, but let’s not bleed too much over it. How’s about we put our energy into catching this monster?”

 

Dan looked back up at McGarrett with admiration. This man always seemed to know what to say. It suddenly seemed obvious to Williams that the more heinous the crime, the greater the need for focus and clarity of thought on the part of the investigators. It would not help any victim for him to dwell on the horror of the offense.

 

“Yeah – count me in, Steve.”

 

“Good man,” came the quick snippet of praise as the lead detective moved back to the task at hand. “What’ve we got on this one?”

 

Now, Williams reported the facts with clinical neutrality. “Victim number four is one Joseph Clark, age forty, a bartender at a dive downtown. The grocery delivery guy found him probably only minutes after he was killed – the blood was still—oozing.” Another flash of distaste came from Dan before he slid his mask back on.

 

“One thing we do have here – a gloved handprint. Our perpetrator left a bloody stamp of his glove on the table. Another indication that we’re looking for a fairly big guy.”

 

“Well, it’s more than we had, but it’s not enough. Four victims, all men, all different professions, living in different areas. All stabbed to death by somebody who apparently presented no obvious threat.” McGarrett looked down at his watch as he continued. “Let’s plan on a status meeting at 4:00. I want to review everything we’ve got on these cases.”

 

“Steve, you do remember that tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day? That’s a day that people usually spend at home with their families.”

 

Williams delicately mentioned this because he knew that his boss was so wrapped up in solving these atrocious homicides that he could well have dismissed the holiday as an obstruction of justice.

 

“Of course I do – ho ho ho and all that.” McGarrett smiled slightly as started walking back towards his car.

 

“Very funny,” Williams mumbled as he moved to catch up with his boss.

 

“Okay, I recall the date, but more than that, I tell you what I recall -- Every second we’re not looking for the monster who’s doing this, another human being is a second closer to becoming a victim.”

 

 

*****

 

 

“It’s Four-Oh-Five -- I thought Steve and Danny were around the corner ten minutes ago,” Kono mumbled as he peeled the shell from the hard-boiled egg he’d found on his boss’s desk blotter.

 

Jenny, staring through the blinds, responded distractedly. “They’re here, but they’re having a little meeting in the parking lot.”

 

Both Chin and Kono rose from the chairs they’d taken in preparation for the status meeting and joined the secretary at McGarrett’s French doors. It was apparent the two men were having an argument that their boss did not want to have as Williams gently blocked McGarrett’s progress towards the office.

 

“What could they be fighting about?” Jenny wondered out loud.

 

“It’s the day before Thanksgiving, so I have an idea.” Chin responded absentmindedly as he watched the scene outside.

 

Kono turned suddenly to look at Chin, and after a shared glance of remembrance, turned their attention back to their boss and his second-in-command.

 

“C’mon, Danny, you can do it!” Kono encouraged under his breath.

 

*****

 

“Steve, we had the morale talk last year around this time, remember?” Dan stepped into his boss’s path to face him. Williams, never anxious to butt heads with his boss, picked his battles carefully, but this was important and he was prepared to go to battle on this issue.

 

“Yeah, yeah, Danno. Esprit de corp, etcetera, but we’re not talking about white collar crime here. This holiday has been ruined for a family because somebody spilled blood.” McGarrett replied and crossed his arms, a subconscious defensive move on his part, Williams thought.

 

“Nobody’s gonna argue that this investigation isn’t important. Every single one of the team is on board with that. But we’re talking about their lives – time with THEIR families that they’ll never have again – time they NEED to decompress. We’ll solve this one, and next Thanksgiving, there’ll be some other heinous misdeed to be dealt with.”

 

Dan knew he didn’t have long to convince the man, who was tenaciously focused on solving the string of violent murders. He too had to admit that he would rather spend the day following up on any leads that might get them closer to finding the culprit. But then, he had no family that would be waiting for him at home. That didn’t mean that he couldn’t understand how important it was for the rest of the team to be with their families.

 

It was up to him – nobody else would risk the wrath of their formidable boss. Dan had decided, however, that it was part of his job as second-in-command to keep the brilliant, focused, frequently-distracted man at the top in touch with the rest of humanity. 

 

“Yeah -- criminals are many and we are few,” McGarrett stepped around the detective and started to walk again.

 

Desperate to keep the man’s attention, Dan called after his boss. “Steve! Don’t rob them of this time with their families! We can’t expect ANYBODY to be as dedicated as we are.”

 

The last words from his protégé’s mouth stopped the man in his tracks. He studied Dan’s expression. The implication of that sentence was that Steve McGarrett did not have to stand alone at the top – that there was someone else who shared his passion for justice, even in the face of personal sacrifice. The head of Five-0 found himself deeply touched by Williams’ matter-of-fact statement to this effect.

 

“Me and thee against the world, huh, Danno?”

 

The young man gave a short brisk nod and replied enthusiastically, “I’m with you, Steve!”

 

Sensing a crack in the man’s resolve to have his staff work through the Thanksgiving holiday, Dan pressed on. Time to cut the deal.  “Look, Steve, if you’ll let them off the hook for tomorrow, I’ll be here before it gets light and keep going.”

 

McGarrett knew his second-in-command was right, but the image of the blood coagulating on the steps of the beach house crept back into his mind. “Let me think about it,” he snapped briskly as he started walking toward the Palace steps. “We’re wasting time out here.”

 

Dan knew that he’d said all he could and would just have to await his boss’s decision, so he dutifully caught up with the other man, and the pair completed their journey to the office in silence.

 

 

*****

 

 

Chin and Kono had re-seated themselves in the two white cushioned chairs that were always in front of Steve’s desk, and Jenny was positioned in her own chair, which she had rolled in, a few feet to Steve’s left so that she could better take notes during the status meeting. The youngest member of the team was pacing slowly back and forth behind the chairs where the other two detectives sat. They all had the distinct impression that perhaps the two men were carrying on with their argument on another level. The other three shifted in their seats and waited patiently. At one point, Steve opened his mouth to say something, and then thought better of it.

 

As usual, Kono broke first, “Am I in your seat, bruddah?” His question was directed at the young man behind him.

 

Dan leaned around Kono’s chair, grabbing the back of it. About six inches from the Hawaiian’s face, he said, “No, no, relax, I’m fine.” He continued his pacing, and Steve observed him as he organized the papers on his desk.

 

Finally, his decision reached, Steve sighed and said, “Alright, alright. Now stop before you wear a hole in my floor!”

 

The young officer bound over to his boss’ desk. “Thanks, Steve!”

 

The senior detective didn’t respond with anything more than a long suffering nod. “Can we get on with this?”

 

Dan nodded with a smile, opened his notebook, and sat on the corner of Steve’s desk. It was telling to the other members of the staff that their boss tolerated his second-in-command’s encroachment into his space. Nobody sat on Steve McGarrett’s desk – at least not more than once – except Dan Williams, who seemed quite comfortable in the spot he knew was his.

 

The team reviewed the list of facts about the latest murder and struggled to find a clue that would point them to the culprit.

 

“Danno, you brought this up before, and you’re right -- there are a couple of differences between the first murder and the next three. The knife was not recovered in the first case, and Doc did not find any traces of drugs in victim one. The other three were all probably unconscious – or well on their way – when they were murdered.”

 

Dan got up and moved from his spot to stand near the lanai doors, but did not speak.

 

“Maybe the murderer decided it would be easier if his victims couldn’t fight back,” Chin offered as he lit his pipe.

 

Kono added, “Yeah, maybe he’s just workin’ the kinks out of his plan.”

 

McGarrett stood and moved around to sit on “Danno’s” corner of his desk. “Maybe,  he mused as he rubbed his chin.

 

“Another thing – it’s just an impression, and maybe it’s nothing…” Dan gazed out the lanai windows and was silent, needing a moment to organize the thought. Nobody spoke as they watched their youngest member’s expression darken. “The first scene wasn’t like the other three scenes. There was blood, but it wasn’t – it wasn’t a distracting focal point. The murderer killed for whatever reason, and then made his escape.” Williams turned back to look at his audience. “When I stepped into the other three scenes, the crimson hit me in the face. It was like the murderer wanted to – to play up the drama of violent death. I uh – I – and then again, maybe it’s my imagination.” The detective looked down, beginning to regret that he’d brought up such a subjective, unscientific, un-McGarrett-like observation.

 

“THAT,” McGarrett almost shouted, “is a very astute observation, Danno! I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until you said it.” The surprise shout of praise from his mentor filled Williams with relief and pride. Steve didn’t think he was a flake.

 

Dan smiled slightly. “I’m not sure how that helps us.”

 

“It means that – until we have evidence to the contrary -- we should assume that we’re looking for two murderers, with two different motives.” McGarrett raised his eyebrows at his detectives. He moved and began pacing back and forth behind his desk and snapping his fingers, a habit with which his detectives were well acquainted.

 

“So, if we go back to the basics, it wouldn’t surprise me if victim one knew his assailant. I think we’re going to find that Patrick Ramsey was killed for one of the standard reasons.”

 

“Love or money,” Chin reflected.

 

“Yeah,” Steve nodded in his direction. “Love or money. That leaves us with three murders that are the same in what way?”

 

Dan spoke up. “All three were drugged and stabbed to death with knives that were already on the premises by a man. If it’s the same guy, then we know that he has larger-than-average hands, he may be taking photographs of his handiwork, and he’s mentally disturbed.”

 

McGarrett returned to his chair and leaned back. “It’s not much. Hopefully, our latest victim’s life will turn up an association with one of the other victims – they shop at the same grocery store – they fill their gas tanks at the same service station – something.”

 

“Anybody have anything to add?” The boss glanced from face to face.

 

“A Miss Carla Hayes – an author, she says, called about getting your perspective on a couple of unsolved cases, including this one,” Jenny said as she reviewed her notes.

 

Steve glanced up in annoyance. “Well, she’s wasting her time looking at this case because we’re gonna solve this one.”

 

Dan countered, “Yeah, but you maybe you should still talk to her.”

 

“I know the one you’re talkin’ about!” Kono spoke up enthusiastically.

 

“Thank God most of the journalists on this island are men!” McGarrett looked upward to Heaven as he spoke.

 

As the team wrapped up their notes, Chin had an inquiry. “Boss, would it be okay if I came in a little late tomorrow? Mai was sort of hoping that I would be around tomorrow for at least a little while.”

 

Williams smiled, but let his boss do the talking.

 

“Actually, Chin – Kono – Jenny – I, uh know you’re all very dedicated and willing, but I want all of you to take the day off tomorrow.”

 

The trio didn’t move for several seconds. Then they exchanged uncertain glances with each other. Kono took the brave next step, “Boss, we don’t understand. The case…”

 

Their confused looks and body language – Have I been such a slave-driving ogre that they can’t imagine that I would grant them a little time off? He felt a little embarrassment creeping into his thoughts. He pressed on, determined that his staff would accept the gift in the spirit in which it was intended. “You all certainly deserve more than just Thanksgiving Day off, but it’s all I can offer right now, so please get out of here and go spend some time with your families!”

 

Kono and Chin rose from their chairs, and Jenny moved to stand next to Chin. They were beginning to believe, but doubt still lingered. Kono asked, “Boss, don’t get me wrong – we’re not complaining, but who’s gonna—”

 

The lead detective interrupted, “If there’s anything on your desks that won’t wait a day, let Danno know about it.” He nodded his head in the direction of his second-in-command, who was suddenly extremely interested in the file he was holding.

 

It was Chin’s turn. “Boss, I can’t think of a nicer surprise than this, but – but I feel kinda bad kickin’ back all day when you and Danny are gonna be here.”

 

Williams remained mute as his boss spoke for both of them. “Don’t worry about us, Chin. I’ll probably end up stuck with some major dinner bill for both of us though.” 

 

Williams smiled. “Okay, I’ll pay, but I get to pick the spot!”

 

McGarrett glanced at his second-in-command. “I’d rather pay.”

 

The pleased, even ecstatic, expressions on their faces gave Steve a deep sense of satisfaction. Danno had been right. He had to take a moment to ponder why it was that he was not more in tune with his staff’s personal needs. Not really wanting to spend too much time on introspection, he quickly decided that this was the reason he had Danno around. Wasn’t that after all one of the reasons he brought the officer into the fold – to complement his strengths and augment his weaknesses? Yes, yes, that’s it. Good job, McGarrett, he smiled to himself. After an excited round of thanks, everyone scurried to their desks to tidy up before leaving.

 

Steve looked back to see Dan leaning on the wall observing him. The young man gave a slight nod with his smile.

 

“Is the wall gonna fall down if you move?” McGarrett asked gruffly.

 

“I hope not,” Williams replied softly, still grinning as he passed his boss on the way back to his own desk.

 

The thought passed through McGarrett’s head that it was a strange reversal of roles to see his second-in-command pleased, even proud, of what his boss had just done. Usually, it was the younger detective looking to his mentor for approval and validation, but today, the pupil had been the teacher. The head of Five-0 would never admit it to a soul, but it felt good to have Danno’s approval and respect.

 

“Danny!” Chin said loudly as he stood in the outer doorway of the Five-0 office space with Jenny and Kono. Williams poked his head out of his cubicle and smiled at his three co-workers. From their expressions, Dan could tell they suspected that he’d had a hand in their boss’s decision. He hoped they realized that Steve truly did know they deserved the time off – all he had done was to change the man’s focus long enough for him to recognize it.

 

“It almost makes keeping an eye on you worth the trouble!” Kono grinned.

 

Jenny and Chin snickered, appreciating the reference to the secret joke they shared. The boss was impossible to live with when his young protégé was traumatized in any way. He tended to place responsibility for Danny’s safety squarely on the head of whoever attended the heir apparent. Frequently, that task was easier said than done.

 

Dan frowned even as he smiled, aware of the staff’s perception – possibly somewhat accurate (maybe) – of his status with the boss. “Have a good time!”

 

Jenny blew him a kiss and the two detectives smiled and did likewise in tandem as they headed out the door.

 

 

*****

 

Williams maneuvered his LTD around a large pothole that marked the end of the residential appearance of the street. On the side of the road for the next few hundred yards was the standard Hawaiian lush green vegetation run amuck.

 

McGarrett pointed out the passenger window to his right. “There it is – 145 Ahilama Road.” The driver pulled the vehicle over almost onto the grass, which met the un-maintained asphalt. The only house on this end of the dead-end street was a two-story, New Orleans style home with a balcony over the covered porch. The building had seen better days, showing the standard signs of tropical weathering. The flower garden in the front was overrun with vines, but at one end of the bed, there was evidence that some determined gardener was beginning the daunting task of weeding.

 

“She said she collected the package this morning? McGarrett asked as he studied the house.

 

Dan nodded. “Yeah, she received a call from the radio station that it had been dropped off. She couldn’t get a courier to bring it up here on Thanksgiving Day.”

 

The two detectives got out of the car, made their way up the front porch steps and knocked. A curtain moved in a nearby window, and within a few seconds, the door opened tentatively. Carla Hayes’ demeanor was different than it had been the last time the two men had seen her a couple of weeks earlier. She seemed nervous and frightened.

 

“Is that an unmarked police car?” She asked as she motioned for the detectives to come in.

 

“Relatively speaking -- Worried about the neighbors?” McGarrett replied as he, like his second-in-command, surveyed the interior of the home. The stairs, which reminded him a bit of a very-mini version of the huge Koa wood staircase at the Palace, bisected the main level. To the left, was a sitting room, decorated Victorian style, with two burgundy velvet loveseats facing each other and an ornate coffee table between them. To the right was a dining room, with a small, but decorative, dark wood table and two matching chairs.

 

His attention turned more fully to the woman with her response to his distracted query.

 

“He told me not to call the police.”

 

Both detectives stepped a little closer to her.

 

“You spoke with him?” Williams was amazed. “You didn’t tell me that when you called.”

 

“I’m sorry – I was little upset. I try to come off tough, but get a phone call from a vicious killer and I turn to putty.” The woman’s lower lip quivered as she attempted to joke about the call.

 

“Don’t worry – we’re here now, and we’re not gonna let anybody hurt you.” McGarrett reassured.

 

A concerned expression crossed Steve’s face as he glanced around the room, a subtle nod the signal for Dan to search the premises. Williams cautiously looked around the two levels and then walked around outside while his boss accompanied Carla into her kitchen while she made herself some tea.

 

While his second-in-command conducted the search, McGarrett heard Carla’s tale. The radio station had called this morning and let her know that a manila envelope addressed to her had been dropped off early that morning. It was not unusual for her to receive packages in that manner from well-wishers and acquaintances, so she didn’t think anything of it until she returned home and opened it to find it stuffed with photos of all of the murder scenes. Dan returned, and with a slight shake of his head, let his boss know that he’d found nothing unusual in his search.

 

Some of the pictures looked like they’d been taken perhaps shortly before the murders had been committed, with everything at each future scene of horror still neatly in place, and others were grizzly scenes of the dead victims.

 

“Did you touch any of these, Miss Hayes?” Dan asked.

 

She hesitated before she spoke. “I did touch a few of them before I realized what they were,”  Carla, who’d been standing several feet away from the detectives as they used handkerchiefs and pencils to manipulate the photos, moved in and sat down next to Steve on one of the love seats. “Before I could call the police, my phone rang, and it was him.”

 

“He identified himself as the killer?” McGarrett asked.

 

“Well, he didn’t come right out and say it in so many words. He told me that he’d read my book – and that he was looking forward to my next one. He wants me to use the pictures and information in the envelopes as material for my book. He wants everyone to know how smart he is or something. He said that it was against the rules for me to help the police – that they would have to figure it out on their own.”

 

“How do you think he knew you were writing a book?” Dan inquired gently.

 

“I was interviewed a couple months ago at the radio station, where he left the package. It was just after I moved here and rented this place. I’d written a book that was published last year called Unreasonable Doubt. The host of the program and I discussed both that book and the one I’m working on now about unsolved murder cases.”

 

“That would do it,” Steve said almost to himself.

 

“Do you think he tried to get into my house?” She slipped her hands into those of the detective beside her as she asked.

 

Dan answered. “It doesn’t look that way – I just walked around back. The ground is pretty damp and marshy – Kaalaea Stream runs right behind this place, and it’s swollen from the rain, so there’s no way anyone could’ve been back there and not leave tracks.”

 

McGarrett gently extricated his hands from the woman’s tense grip as he noticed the corner of a paper sticking from the pile of photographs. He dragged it from the stack with the eraser end of a pencil. Carla gasped loudly. He felt more than heard Dan react as he read the note written in what appeared to be blood:

 

GET READY FOR A RED CHRISTMAS

 

An alarmed glance shared quickly with Williams, McGarrett hastily collected the new evidence and pushed it back into the envelope.

 

“Miss Hayes, I suspect that you’re in no danger – it would appear that our man wants you to write his story, but I don’t want to take a chance. I’m going to assign a plain clothes officer to stay here with you.”

 

“Please call me Carla – I feel like such a spinster when people call me Miss Hayes. But I don’t want any police floating around. I’ll be fine. You said it yourself – I can’t write his story if I’m dead.”

 

McGarrett frowned. “Point taken, but with your permission, I’d like to arrange to have your phone tapped. It wouldn’t be intrusive. We would have a mobile monitoring unit set up within a two-mile radius. Any incoming phone calls would be recorded.”

 

“Of course,” she nodded.

 

He turned immediately to Williams, but before he could start issuing instructions, the woman spoke again. “Under one condition.”

 

Both detectives stood paralyzed looking at her in wait of the condition. A couple of long seconds later, she said softly to the lead detective, “That you’ll have dinner with me this evening.”

 

Both men blinked. Dan felt a little awkward. He and his boss had mapped out a busy day of investigating, which McGarrett insisted would be punctuated with a Thanksgiving Day meal at some point. This gorgeous woman’s invitation had to be more appealing than McGarrett’s plan for the bachelor cops. Williams himself was anxious to get the new evidence back to the office and start reviewing it. The warning that more deaths would mar the holiday season gave him an intense sense of urgency. He would not rest until the killer was found. Dan started to suggest that he take the envelope back with him and leave the couple to enjoy a meal in private. Steve certainly deserved a real holiday as much as the rest of the Five-0 team.

 

A familiar, quick expression from his boss told Dan that he needed to keep his mouth shut though. Steve recovered quickly from the surprise of the invitation and responded. “Actually, Miss—Carla, I’ve got a pretty full schedule today. Thank you though.” He looked at his second-in-command, who could feel Carla’s eyes on him. She was astute enough to realize that she’d been turned down in the name of work, but she accepted the rejection in stride.

 

It was going to be difficult to get the tap set up that day, but the head of Five-0 let the woman know that it would be accomplished. The two men left after instructing the woman to call them at the first sign of trouble.

 

“Steve, are you sure you don’t want to—” Dan started, but his boss cut him off, as he turned his car around.

 

“Danno, I appreciate that you’re willing to plunge ahead alone, but I’m not willing to let you do that. It’s gonna take both our heads to nail this monster before he kills again, and I’ll tell you right now that we’ll do everything within our power to prevent his Red Christmas.”

 

 

*****

 

Shhhh!” Jenny put her finger to her lips as she addressed the two detectives entering the office, and pointed at McGarrett’s half open door.

 

Kono and Chin immediately ceased their banter and approached quietly. The three poked their heads around the door to see their boss and his second-in-command sound asleep. Steve was slightly reclined on one end of the sofa, his head leaning on the cushioned back. There were papers clutched in one of his hands, which rested on his stomach. Dan was slouched in one of the white chairs. He’d dragged it over so that it faced the chalk boards, which were jammed with photos and notes. His head was tipped to the left and rested on his shoulder. Both hands dangled on either side of the chair.

 

The slight creak of the door caused McGarrett to awaken. His eyes popped open and he sat up. Realizing immediately he was in his office, he took a moment to look around and assess the situation. His eyes rested on the three people standing in his doorway.

 

“Good morning,” Jenny whispered cheerfully.

 

He rubbed his eyes with both hands and nodded. “Good morning.”

 

It was Friday, and he and Danno had worked until nearly 4:00 in the morning trying to sort out tidbits of evidence from Carla Hayes’ package from the killer. Remembering Williams, he took another look around the office and at last focused on the still snoozing detective in the chair. He walked softly, Chin, Kono, and Jenny in tow, over to the chair and leaned on its high back, viewing Dan from above. Not even the presence of others around his makeshift bed roused the sleeping detective.

 

“You all had a pleasant day I presume?” McGarrett inquired quietly. All three nodded and smiled.

 

“Mai sent leftovers to you guys,” Chin added.

 

“And I have a pumpkin pie for you.” Jenny smiled.

 

At last, Williams groaned, wrinkled his nose, and tipped his head back so that when he opened his eyes, he was looking up into the upside-down face of his boss. In the same scan, he saw the faces of the other Five-0 men and Jenny.

 

“Did Santa Claus come?” Williams asked as he closed his eyes again and stretched his back.

 

Jenny giggled and McGarrett looked over at the others. “Remind me to have a talk with him before Christmas.”

 

Dan stood and stretched again.

 

“Go home and get some sleep, Danno.” McGarrett commanded as he rolled his head down onto his chest and back up. 

 

“I’m gonna go shower and change, but I wanna go back over to the scenes. Something about these pictures is bothering me.” He collected his suit jacket from McGarrett’s coat rack, and started out the door, but stopped suddenly. “Did you all have a great day?”

 

“Yeah, bruddah!”

 

“You know it, Danny!”

 

“It was a wonderful day!”

 

All three of his friends spoke at the same time. He grinned and nodded. “Great!” The next comment was to his boss. “Steve, you need a shave!”

 

“Thanks for noticing!” McGarrett threw at his detective. “On that observant note, I think I’ll hit the showers too!”

 

 

*****

 

“No, Jenny, don’t let her wait in my office,” McGarrett instructed. He threw a glance at Williams and rolled his eyes. “There’s evidence floating all over the place. Put her in the interrogation room.”

 

The car screeched as it rounded the corner into the parking lot at the Palace. Instead of parking, McGarrett pulled up to the steps and spoke to his passenger.

 

“Danno, get in there and take care of her. Make sure she’s got nothing new for us and pet her fur the right way. I don’t want her to get upset and go off half-cocked and do what reporters do best! I’ll be back right after my meeting with Chief Dann.”

 

“Steve, she wants YOU to pet her fur – not me!” Dan was amused at his boss’s obvious avoidance of the woman.

 

McGarrett took a moment to glare at his second-in-command before he responded in an ominously quiet tone. “Humor me, Danno, and whatever you do, don’t say anything that can be used against us – remember she’s writing a book!”

 

“Right, Steve!” Williams got out of the car and headed up the Palace steps.

 

THAT was it! He had to admire his boss’s wisdom and discipline. The man was not willing to risk his reputation or the reputation of Five-0 for a tryst with a writer, no matter how desirable the woman. He’s certainly setting the example, Dan mused as he trotted up the steps. It made the detective realize how much he had to learn from Steve. 

 

 

*****

 

Jenny spoke up as soon as she saw Dan coming through the door. “She didn’t want to wait in the interrogation room.” The secretary was annoyed. It seemed a very impolite thing for a visitor to refuse to wait where they were asked to wait. Dan shot the secretary a don’t-worry-I’ll-handle-it glance as he approached the woman.

 

“Carla! Is everything all right?” Williams asked, hoping she hadn’t noticed that he noticed her teal blue sarong. The detective wondered how she poured herself into it.

 

She smiled but looked over Dan’s shoulder as she spoke. “Hello, Danny! Yeah, everything’s fine. Where’s the boss?”

 

“He had an appointment,” Dan said apologetically.

 

She gave a slight pout. “Just tell me it wasn’t with a gorgeous blonde.”

 

Dan shook his head. “His appointment isn’t with a blonde – he might have been a brunette when he had hair though.”

 

Carla giggled. “Okay, I can’t compete with that.” She looked around the office and changed the subject. “How’s the case going?”

 

“We’re making progress and following leads as we uncover them.” Williams’ response had a very neutral and noncommittal tone.

 

“Now, you know, Danny, darling, I think I heard you say that exact same thing on the news last night.” She folded her arms and stared at him accusingly.

 

“That’s the official party line,” Dan said.

 

She smacked him gently on the arm. “You mean I don’t get some sort of special dispensation because the murderer has been in touch with me?”

 

“You’ll get everything that it’s ethical for me to tell you. Right now, we’re working an active investigation, so I can’t say much. What I will promise you is an exclusive interview with Steve AFTER the case is solved. That brings me to my next point. You really should not come here. The suspect could very well be watching you.”

 

She gave a small dismissive wave. “It’s perfectly reasonable that I visit the police. I can’t imagine that the murderer would not see that!”

 

Dan disagreed. “Carla, reasonable is NOT a word I would use to describe the sick individual who is doing this.”

 

She chose to ignore the detective’s argument, and changed the subject. “May I take a peek in his office?” She asked and tried to slip around Williams before he responded. He quickly moved to block her path.

 

“I’m sorry, Carla. It’s a mess in there right now.” He briefly considered offering her a tour of the other parts of the Palace, but decided that he himself had things to accomplish on this day as well.

 

She stepped closer to him, well inside the politely acceptable distance for acquaintances, and did not seem to care that they were standing within four feet of Jenny’s desk.

 

Seeing the surprise and mild dismay on the detective’s face, the secretary made a point of turning her chair to face the pair. Her mouth dropped open and she put a hand on her chest as Carla seductively kissed her index finger and pressed it against his lips.

 

“Not even a quick peek if I say pretty please?”

 

The act disconcerted the detective, but no pretty face was worth the wrath of Steve McGarrett. Williams grew more insistent. “Carla, I can’t help you. I’m sorry.”

 

She gave up her attempts to persuade the detective suddenly and cheerfully. “Well, I had to try! You still think fondly of me, don’t you, Danny?”

 

He smiled politely back, “Of course, Carla. Please call me if you have any further communication with the suspect.”

 

She’d turned to leave, but stopped and looked back at Dan. “My phone is tapped now, isn’t it?”

 

Williams nodded. “Yes, there’s an audio surveillance team in place listening to any incoming calls. We’ll be notified if the suspect contacts you by telephone again.”

 

She took a moment to absorb the information before she gave a casual wave and strolled from the office. “Tell Steve he owes me dinner.”

 

The scent of the woman’s cologne still hanging in the air, Jenny moved over to stand next to Dan, who hadn’t taken his eyes off the door through which Carla departed.

 

“That woman is dangerous.” Jenny grumbled as she turned and straightened Dan’s tie.

 

“Yeah,” Williams agreed absentmindedly. “Steve’s right.”

 

 

*****

 

“Sorry to interrupt, Steve, but I need Danny for a few minutes.”

 

Jenny hadn’t stepped into her boss’s office – she hated to catch even a glimpse of the crime scene photos. Rather, she’d just pushed the door open to show the second-in-command the paper she held in her hand.  She didn’t want to burst in on the two men, but both were working with an intensity on this case that left them hard to catch unoccupied.

 

It took Dan a couple moments to mentally pull back from whatever document the two detectives were pouring over on Steve’s desk.

 

When he looked confused, she started to remind him. “We need to make a couple of decisions before it’s too late.”

 

“Oh, yeah!” He turned to Steve. “I need a few minutes – Christmas party issues.”

 

 “Again?” McGarrett sounded mildly exasperated. “Didn’t we just have a Christmas Party?”

 

“Yeah – just last year, and you had a good time,” Williams accused. “Didn’t you?”

 

McGarrett paused, knowing that his friend was preparing to back him into a corner with an argument, if necessary, to carry on with his mission.           

 

Williams was certainly the social glue of the organization. Since he’d recruited the young man from the HPD ranks, the office had become somehow more – more family-like. Perhaps it was the fact that everyone was interested in the kid brother of the group, his social life and troubles, and he didn’t have the ego that would make him lie to hide failure from the only ohana he had. With no living blood relatives, Williams always made his work unit his family.

 

The holidays were upon them now, and so Jenny and Dan would be planning festivities of some sort.  He knew that Williams took the holiday merriment very seriously. The detective, probably correctly so, insisted that social occasions were very important adhesive in the structure of the work ohana. McGarrett did remember that the Christmas party the previous year had been one of the most enjoyable evenings he’d spent as part of a group in many years – possibly in his adult life. He recalled their recent conversation in the parking lot about morale and esprit de Corp.

 

He had to admit the truth though. If he couldn’t win the debate honestly, then the game would go to Williams. “Yes, I had a great time, but sometimes your idea of a great time and my idea of a great time are two entirely different things.”

 

Williams replied suddenly with animation typical to their arguments when the younger detective was trying to cajole his boss into seeing things his way. “And SOMETIMES we have the SAME idea of a great time!”

 

So different, the two of them, and yet so committed to the same things, so able to play off of each other’s strengths.

 

McGarrett sighed and nodded as he watched his detective join the secretary at her desk. Williams assumed oversight of many of the administrative functions in the office when he became the second-in-command. As distracted as the head of Five-0 was with the murders, not to mention several other ongoing cases, he was glad to see Danno not shirking his other duties. Life was definitely easier with a competent right-hand man. 

 

From the vantage point of his desk, McGarrett observed with mild interest the scene through his open door. Dan was standing, resting his elbows on Jenny’s desk. His second-in-command and his secretary were deeply embroiled in their private conversation, their heads almost touching as they spoke. Their tone was soft and almost conspiratorial.

 

So, Williams and Sherman would plan the Christmas party while somewhere out there, some demented soul did his own plotting for how he would spend Christmas.

 

 

*****

 

Kono groaned as a nearly empty container of lo mein slid from the table in his boss’s office and slapped against floor. The only one of the four detectives to react to the spill, he lethargically rose from the nearby chair and picked up the box. “Does anyone have the feeling that we’re making progress right now?”

 

McGarrett, who’d been staring out the blinds of his French doors, sighed. The Hawaiian detective always seemed to bring home an obvious conclusion from a different perspective. He looked at his watch.  “No, Kono, I do not have the feeling that we’re making progress. We’re tired. Everybody go home. We’ll get a fresh start in the morning.”

 

“Hey!”

 

Dan jumped from where he’d been sitting, staring at the photos stuck to the chalk board. The detective had not moved for the past thirty minutes, and McGarrett thought he had probably dozed off. Not having the familial commitments of the other two, both he and Williams had been working nearly eighteen hours a day since Thanksgiving. If his detective was half as tired as he was, sleep could come very easily.

 

The others quickly moved to the chalk board where Dan stood. “There are what I would call before and after pictures of each scene, right?”

 

“Yeah, and there are none of the Ramsey scene, which tells us that we were right to consider it a separate investigation.” Chin agreed.

 

Knowing his second-in-command had focused on some other feature of the photos, McGarrett was impatient to know what he’d noticed. “Yeah, yeah, Chin, that’s right. Danno – keep going! We’ve got before and after photos.”

 

Williams nodded. “From the shadows and lighting in all of these, we can tell that the befores were shot pretty close to the same time as the afters.” 

 

The detectives studied the photos they’d each reviewed many times.

“Danny, if you’re wondering why the victims let the killer take the pictures, don’t you think it’s because the killer had already shot them up with the sleeping medicine?” Chin asked as he pulled out his pipe.

 

Williams smiled with satisfaction and put his hands in his pockets. “No, Chin, I don’t! Bergman’s report called the agent fast acting, but I asked him what he meant by that this morning. A full hypodermic injected into the muscle would not have taken full effect for five to ten minutes depending on the weight of the victim. All three of our victims were pretty good-sized guys – at least one hundred and ninety pounds – and Hoyt – heck, he must’ve weighed two thirty.”

 

The head of Five-0 was on the same track now. “So, our killer had to entertain his victims for five to fifteen minutes before the drug took effect.”

 

Kono offered, “Maybe he held them at gunpoint.”

 

“Hmm, maybe,” McGarrett admitted as he rubbed his chin.

 

Dan pushed his point. “Maybe, but what if he didn’t have a gun? What if the victims were expecting somebody to come take pictures?”

 

“Like who?” Kono argued.

 

Williams shrugged, “Like…like…hmm… like a general contractor who would be giving an estimate on some repair or renovation.”

 

It was the lead detective’s turn to shout. “Danno! That’s it! Look! He pointed to several of the photos. “Water damage! All of these are pictures of water damage! An insurance company would have to send somebody out to take pictures before they would pay for any repairs!”

 

The detectives’ adrenalin rush pushed all thoughts of going home out of their heads as McGarrett snapped orders. “Chin – Kono – find out who the victims used for home owners’ insurance, and I don’t care who you have to get out of bed!”

 

 

*****

 

Jenny shook her head in consternation as she saw the state of her boss’s office. She immediately flung open the lanai doors to rid the room of the scent of stale Chinese food that hung in the air. It had obviously been another late night for her boys. She hoped desperately for their sakes, as well as the sake of the next potential victim, that the mad man who had perpetrated these atrocities would be captured soon. If the man remained at large, the detectives’ spirits would be, despite her and Danny’s efforts, dampened for the Christmas party. And that would be such a shame since Williams had managed to secure the use of a wonderful beach house for the party. The house belonged to a bank manager that Dan had met during an embezzlement investigation months earlier. The detective traded surfing lessons for the man’s four children for the use of the property for an evening a few nights before Christmas.

 

As she finished collecting the trash, the outer door popped open, and she could hear the enthusiastic banter. A good sign, she thought hopefully.

 

“We might just stop this psycho before his Red Christmas!” McGarrett exclaimed to Chin as he reviewed the papers the Chinese detective had handed him.

 

Neither man stopped walking as Chin pointed to something on the paper. “Different insurance companies – same insurance adjustment contractor!”

 

“Good job, Chin!”

 

Kono pushed through the door next, and was greeted by his almost exuberant boss. “You guys get over to this place.” He looked down at the paper again. “Express Estimates. Find out who they sent on these jobs!”

 

“On it, boss!” Chin nodded and left with the Hawaiian detective.

 

McGarrett gave the secretary a quick hug before he went into his office and closed the door.

 

Jenny just finished making the coffee when the next excited detective breezed into the office, humming a holiday tune. 

 

“Jenny!” Dan strolled over to her and picked up his coffee cup. She poured a cup and then filled the one he was holding.

 

“Did I hear you humming White Christmas?” She smiled as she handed him the other cup he knew was for his boss.

 

“I’ll take any color as long as it’s not red!”

 

The detective grinned and started for the closed door. Before he made it more than a few paces, Carla Hayes stepped in. The woman was attired in more businesslike attire on this, the fourth in as many days that she had visited the Five-0 offices. A sophisticated, summer white business suit that made her look like Grace Kelly, Williams thought.

 

“Good morning, Danny!”

 

“Hello, Carla,” Williams replied as he set the two coffee cups down on Jenny’s desk. The detective mentally braced himself for another round of high-pressure requests from the woman. She’d obviously been doing her homework about the Five-0 staff. Dan knew that looks like hers could easily loosen the tongues of unsuspecting HPD personnel (not to mention Five-0 men!).

 

“Can I assume from the perky spring in the steps of Detectives Kelly and Kalakaua that you have a break in the case?”

 

 

“You can’t assume that just yet,” Dan replied. “But we are making progress.”

 

As he spoke, he was a little surprised that Jenny had moved up and was clutching his arm. She frowned disapprovingly at the woman, who did not acknowledge the presence of the other female in the room. Amused at the secretary’s somewhat protective posture, he slipped his arm around her affectionately.

 

“Yes, yes, and you’re following leads as you uncover them.” The woman rolled her eyes. “And I gather that Steve is too busy to see me?”

 

Dan hesitated. He had standing orders to manage this relationship, but it was getting tougher with each conversation.

 

She spoke before he could decide on the best answer. Her eyes grew dramatically large. “Am I THAT repugnant that he forces you to deal with me OR am I that interesting that you’ve decided that you’re the one who will deal with me?”

 

“Danny is Steve’s second-in-command!” Jenny had had enough of this vixen. “And sometimes it’s his job to decide who needs to see the boss!”

 

Dan pulled Jenny from in front of him, where she’d moved to get in the face of the taller woman. The two women glared at each other and Dan grew a little concerned that he might have to break up a physical confrontation.

 

Carla looked back at the detective. “I’ve heard from more than one source at HPD that you’re McGarrett’s Golden Child – his heir apparent, they say.”

 

Her tone was baiting and Williams knew it, but he couldn’t keep the annoyance from his reply.  “Whatever that means,” Dan muttered. He swallowed his annoyance quickly and physically manhandled Jenny out of his way. “Look, Carla, I’m not Steve’s social secretary, so if you wanna make a move on him, that’s your business, but leave me out of it!” Williams was tired of walking on egg shells around the siren.

 

Carla’s mouth flew open. It was difficult for Williams to tell whether she was hurt or angry or both. He didn’t have much time to mull on it – in a flash, she pulled her fist back and smacked him in the face. The detective, caught totally off guard, did not have time to defend himself.

 

“Ouch! Hey!” Dan grabbed his nose!

 

Carla, realizing she’d lost her temper, held up her hand and looked instantly apologetic.

 

“You hit him!” Jenny accused, now completely outraged.

 

“Jenny—” Carla started, but the secretary would have none of it.

 

“That’s assault on a police officer!” Jenny stepped close to Dan and pulled a tissue from nowhere. She spoke to the detective as she dabbed at the trickle of blood that ran from his nose. “You’re bleeding!” Her indignation intensified.

 

“Jenny, it’s okay—” It was Dan’s turn to be interrupted.

 

“What’s going on out here?” McGarrett stood in his doorway as all heads snapped in his direction.

 

“Everything’s fine, Steve,” Dan assured quickly as he grabbed the tissue from Jenny’s hand. “I just – had a bloody nose.” Williams flashed a please-keep-quiet look at the secretary, who mulled it over for a few moments before her body language looked less defensive.

 

“I’ll get you an ice pack,” she said to Dan instead of saying what she wanted to say to her boss.

 

“Carla, how are you? Is everything all right?” He asked politely, but did not step from his doorway.

 

The woman’s demeanor returned immediately to her coy, feminine persona. “I heard you might have a break in the case, and since I haven’t heard from our friend, you’re my only hope for information right now.”

 

The detective smiled, “Yes, we hope to have something for you soon. Danno will be in touch.” The detective was astute enough to realize that the situation on which he’d opened his door was a little odd, but he just chose not to direct any mental energy at the situation. He and his second-in-command had a lot of work to do. He turned his attention away from the visitor. “Danno, as soon as you can get the blood under control, do you think you can join me?”

 

“I’ll be right in, Steve,” Williams assured. His boss’s door was closed before anything else could be said.

 

Carla looked quickly back at the detective she’d just assaulted and said grudgingly, “I’m sorry – I – I don’t know what came over me.” She quickly breezed past the secretary, who glared at her as she returned with ice, and left the office.

 

“Why didn’t you tell Steve?” Jenny asked as she handed Williams the ice pack.

 

“Tell Steve what? That we almost got into a brawl with a witness?”

Jenny sighed. “When you put it that way…”

 

“Yeah, so let’s just let this drop.”

 

Dan quickly stemmed the flow of blood from his noise, and joined his boss. The incident with Carla had been disturbing, and Dan wondered whether he was the best one to cultivate that relationship.

 

McGarrett looked up as Williams entered the office. “You okay?”

 

“Yeah,” he admitted sheepishly. He suddenly had the urge to confess to the man, whose penetrating stare sometimes made Williams feel like his thoughts were written on his forehead.

 

Before he responded, McGarrett continued to study his second-in-command. The young man’s too-readable face summoned a sense of amusement in the lead detective. What do you want to tell me? He let the question rest, knowing Williams would come clean if it was anything he really needed to hear. Instead, he addressed the other issue on his mind.

 

“She shouldn’t be haunting the office.” The boss’s tone wasn’t reproving, but the fact that he felt the need to point the fact out to him made Dan feel like he wasn’t doing a very good job.

 

“I tell her that every time she shows up,” Williams defended. “Steve, maybe you should--”

 

McGarrett chuckled and held up his hand. “Danno, Danno, I know she’s a man eater.”

 

Dan shot back, “AND she’s a witness in a very important investigation! I don’t think I—”

 

The head of Five-0 stopped his detective again in mid-sentence. “You don’t think I should trust you with important stuff?”

 

Dan did not reply immediately as he realized the correct answer trapped him.

 

The detective’s hesitation made his boss supply the answer. “Well, I DO trust you – with THE most important stuff, Danno. Don’t let her play you, and you’ll be fine.”

 

The vote of confidence from McGarrett bolstered Williams. He felt a little better anyway about his ability to deal with the temptress reporter. “Yeah, okay, Steve. I just hope we nail this guy soon, so she can eliminate this chapter from her book.”

 

 

*****

 

McGarrett slammed his fist on his desk. “This is him! This is the guy! Edward Todd Slater! Age thirty – height six feet two inches – weight two hundred twenty pounds – served two years at Pennsylvania State Prison for assault with a deadly weapon – confined by court order for three months at Rogers Psychiatric Institute in Philadelphia for slashing a fellow employee at the car dealership where he’d been employed!”

 

Chin grinned. “I had to get a court order to get his records from psychiatric hospital, but it was worth the trouble. The doctor who evaluated him made some notes about his fascination with knives.”

 

“These crimes fit him like a glove! Now we’ve just got to find him!”

 

 

*****

 

“Well, you certainly managed to get here quickly enough. I didn’t even have time to storm down to your office and beg for your attention.” Carla spoke to McGarrett in her usual come-hither voice as the pair sat at her dining room table while Dan busied himself setting up the tape player.

 

“You should have called us the second you hung up. We have reason to be concerned for your safety.” McGarrett’s tone was a little tense with the woman as he felt she was not taking the threat to herself seriously enough.

 

She threw a pouty look at the detective. “Don’t be angry with me. Danny told me that you would be informed as soon as I received a call from the man.”

 

McGarrett sighed as he noticed that his second-in-command was almost ready to begin the playback of the first fruit born by the tap on Hayes’ phone.

 

Dan turned up the volume on the recording equipment as the white noise on the tape ceased, indicating that a conversation was about to begin.

 

“Hello?”

 

”It’s me – Ed.”

 

“Ed. I – I haven’t heard from you.”

 

”The cops are getting too close.”

 

“Why do think that?”

 

“They were at my apartment! You’ve told them too much!”

 

“No, no, that’s not true—”

 

The loud crack on the recording told everyone listening that the man had hung up the phone angrily. Carla jumped slightly

 

“Hmm, interesting – he’s using his correct name,” McGarrett mused.

 

“You know who it is?” Carla was shocked.

 

“We think so, but he hasn’t shown up at his residence or work since we figured out who he is a few days ago.” McGarrett frowned.

 

“But you’ve got an APB out on the man, right?”

 

“Yes, but it may take awhile before he turns up.” He looked up from the tape recorder at the woman across the table from him. “He’s clearly angry with you, so we can’t afford to have you go without police protection until he’s captured. This is NOT open for discussion. I’ll have an officer assigned to you immediately.”

 

“I won’t argue with you, Steve,” she said meekly.

 

He nodded at Dan, who understood instantly that he was to put in the call to HPD. Carla Hayes was to have around-the-clock protection,

 

 

*****

 

“Okay, we may not have the guy behind bars before our little Christmas party, but I think we can all attend the festivities knowing that HPD is beating the bushes looking for Edward Slater, the insurance adjuster with a fascination for knives and a history of violent behavior.”

 

McGarrett sat at his desk, feeling as relaxed as he’d felt in ages. Each member of his team sat in their usual spots. The head of Five-0 intellectually accepted Williams’ argument that life for his staff must go on around serious investigations, and to allow anything else would be devastating in the long run for his unit. But it had been difficult for the focused leader to give in to thoughts of relaxing while their murderous suspect still roamed free. In reality though, there was little else his team could do, but wait for HPD to flush the fiend out of his hiding place.

 

“Since we’ll have family members at the festivities this evening, and I don’t want the subject to come up,  I want to tell you now what a great job each of you has done on this very difficult case. Thank you.” The rare words of praise from their boss further elevated everyone’s mood.

 

“Danno, we’ve got around-the-clock coverage for Miss Hayes, correct?”

 

Williams spoke with confidence. “Yeah! Harry Kanunu is on until eleven o’clock tonight. Then Doug Matsumoto is on until seven, and then—”

 

Steve held up his hand. He smiled, but did not look up. “Okay, okay – I get it. You’ve got it covered.”

 

Jenny spoke up. “Now everyone knows where the beach house is, right?”

 

Everyone nodded, and McGarrett added, “Seven o’clock.”

 

“Danny, will you pick up the—”

 

He winked before she could finish the sentence. “I’ll pick up everything on the list on my way back from HPD!”  

 

“And the rest of us are going to try to find the bottoms of our IN boxes!” McGarrett commanded with satisfaction.

 

“That’s gonna take days, boss!” Kono groaned.

 

“All right, let’s try to make a dent in it anyway. We don’t get funding to solve crimes, my friend!”

 

Dan laughed as he strolled out the door. “Yeah, we get funding for turning in paperwork!”

 

 

*****

 

 

“Patch him through!”

 

“Danny!”

 

“Harry, everything okay?”

 

“Yeah, yeah, everything’s fine, but we just pulled up to Miss Hayes’ place and found a package on her front porch. She wants to talk to you.”

 

“Yeah, okay, put her on.” Williams couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for the woman. As much as he had started to dislike her, he knew it had to be difficult to be in the cross hairs of a killer as vicious as Ed Slater.

 

“Danny, the package looks like another set of pictures. I haven’t opened it, but I’m certain that’s what it is. He was here – at my house.” Even over the radio, he could make out the tension in her voice.

 

“Carla, take it easy. Officer Kanunu’s right there with you.” Dan reassured the woman. “I’ll have someone come up and collect the package.”

 

“Danny, could you come up now?”

 

Williams looked at his watch and hesitated. The traffic was already picking up. A trip to Kanaluu would definitely put him behind the eight ball, time-wise.

 

“There’s another reason I want you to come. I have to tell you something.”

 

“Carla, if it’s about the other day at the office—” Dan was going to tell her not to worry about it, but she interjected at the first opportunity.

 

“No, it’s not that. I’m sorry about that, but it’s more—more important than that.”

 

Carla was a journalist – Dan wondered if she’d been holding back evidence for use in her book. The thought crossed his mind that it might not be in her personal best interest to have this series of murders solved. “Okay, I’m on my way.”

 

“How long do you think you’ll be?”

 

“I should be there in about thirty minutes.”

 

 

*****

 

It’s just not my day, Williams thought as he saw the line of tail lights in front of him. He slowed to a stop along with all of the other people heading down the road. After a minute, when there was still no movement, he realized there was no traffic coming from the oncoming direction. He picked up his radio microphone.

 

“Dispatch -- Five-Oh-Two.”

 

A voice responded, “Five-Oh-Two, Dispatch.”

 

“Dispatch, what’s shakin’ on Ahaolelo Road?”

 

“Traffic accident at Waihee and Ahaolelo, Danny.”

 

Williams groaned and then had a thought. “Can I make it through to Ahilama Road if I run against the wind?”

 

“With lights and siren – sure. I’ll let ‘em know that they need to make way for some ali’i to pass through!”

 

Dan chuckled. “Thanks, Stan! Mele Kalikimaka!”

 

“You too, bruddah!”

 

Williams, still grinning from the exchange with the dispatcher, set his police light on the dashboard and turned it on along with the siren. He angled his LTD into the empty oncoming traffic lane and moved on down the road to his destination.

 

 

*****

 

 

The police cruiser was parked in front of the house. Dan assumed the occupants were already in the house. He climbed the three steps to the front door and knocked. From some remote part of the house, the detective could hear someone beckoning him to enter. “The door’s not locked!”

 

He tried the knob, and when it turned easily. He stepped on in and called out. “Hello! Harry! Carla!”

 

“Upstairs!” It was definitely Carla’s voice.

 

Williams turned and trotted up the stairs. At the top, there was a left-or-right choice to be made. He chose left, remembering from his search of the premises on Thanksgiving Day that only a bathroom was to the right. He moved to push open the first a-kilter door into the bedroom. The unexpected, terrifying sight pushed adrenalin into his system.

 

“Harry!” He shouted, knowing the man was either dead or near death from the volume of red pooling around the HPD man’s torso.

 

While he had the urge to run to the man, he knew the scene was not yet secure. Every cop instinct he had told him he’d walked into some sort of setup. Carla! Where was she? She’d called to him. Was she unaware of what had happened here? Was somebody holding her prisoner?

 

Williams pulled his revolver and cautiously scanned the room for signs that the patrolman’s attacker was nearby. He slipped to the closet, took a deep breath, and yanked the door open – nothing but a few hangars on the rod and a short stack of shoe boxes on the floor. The house wasn’t secure, but he had to confirm Harry’s status before he left the man. He moved quickly to the prone form, and, willing the revulsion to a remote spot in his brain, rolled the man over. The dark blue of the uniform masked the blood that totally soaked it. The man’s eyes were half-open, leaving the detective with a horrifying memory that he didn’t think would ever leave his head. Dan started to place his hand on the side of the bloody neck, but he could see that the man had nearly been decapitated in addition to the numerous stab wounds in his back. The flow of red had already ebbed to a near stop.

 

Stop the bleeding and help the living, Williams! 

 

Dan had to dig deep to put this out of his head and stand. Carla and a murderous fiend were somewhere in the house, and he, himself, was in danger of ending up like Officer Harry Kanunu. His heart pounded as he moved like a cat out of the room, mindful of his breathing and the now very loud rustle of his pants. He progressed down the hallway until he heard something coming from the bathroom directly in front on him. The door was half open, but he could see nothing but the toilet and a sink. The red smudge on the sink was a dramatic contrast to the white porcelain it blemished, and Dan knew that the carnage was not isolated to the bedroom. The soft, high-pitched sound – there it was again! What was it? A dog whimpering? A five-second eternity later, the whimpering became a cry, and he knew it was a woman.

 

Carla!

 

He made his way to the edge of the room and peered through the hinge crack to verify there was nobody hiding behind the door – every nerve in his body told him there was somebody waiting to spring on him and begin slashing. With his left hand, he pressed the door all the way open to reveal the shaking woman sitting on the side of the bathtub. She was scantily clad in a short, loosely-tied pink terry cloth robe that was now marred with splotches of blood. The tears that rolled down her cheeks dragged splattered blood down her ivory face. She looked up at him, her terrified expression reinforced the sense that danger was imminent.

 

He started towards her, and she reached toward him, but as she began to stand, she pointed and screamed, her eyes looking past Williams to the doorway. “Danny! Behind you!”

 

The detective spun around to confront an empty doorway where an evil fiend should have been standing. Torn between confusion and terror, he started to turn back to Carla but felt her presence against his back. His first thought was that the terrified woman was clinging to him, but that reflection evaporated as he felt the violent thump on the side of his neck, just below his jaw line.

 

Turning in the direction of the pressure, he saw a different creature than the one he’d last seen in the bloody, pink bathrobe. There was fright, but also an odd look of excitement in her face as she raised the sharp kitchen knife over her head to strike again.

 

In a single motion, Dan instinctively punched her wrist with his fist, causing the knife to sail into the bathtub, and pulled his handcuffs from the back of his belt. She punched him in the chest with her fists, but he harshly grabbed her wrist and clicked one end of the cuff in place. As he looked down, he could see the bright red of oxygenated blood almost spurting into his field of vision.

 

Carla tried with her other fist to swing at Dan as he absorbed the knowledge that he’d been struck with the knife in his neck!

 

She laughed. “Yes, I’ve killed you!” 

 

Dizzy already, he roughly yanked her to the sink and secured the free end of the cuff on the drainpipe. She fought like a wild cat to prevent it, but Dan had no time  -- only adrenaline. He backed away from her, his hand applying pressure in a vain attempt to stop the flow of blood.

 

Shocked and at a total loss to understand the reason this successful and beautiful reporter would murder him, he stood there momentarily holding his throat as she flung the words at him.

 

“Now die quickly before you spoil everything!”

 

With her toe, she pulled something small on the floor towards her, and her tone suddenly turned to the candy-sweetness that he’d come to know was false. “Lay down here with me, sweet Danny, and I’ll stroke your hair while you go to sleep!” Her face was triumphant – she’d played her ace in the hole.

 

Then he recognized it on the floor by her foot, and, with the cold clarity of impending death, he knew – what he’d mistaken for a scared woman’s fingernails digging into him had been a hypodermic needle pressed to its hilt into the back of his shoulder. He probably had only minutes before he would lose consciousness forever and bleed out. The cop inside Williams noted that this confirmed why none of the victims put up much of a struggle.

 

But the glove print was too big… 

 

He pushed himself out of the bathroom, knowing Carla’s wish was not far off, he began the long journey down the steps to the nearest police radio. The hallway was longer than it had been earlier. By the time he reached the top of the stairs, his vision was all but gone. He stumbled and fell the length of the staircase. It was strange – as he tumbled end over end, it didn’t hurt. The hard landing restored a sense of urgency to him, but it took him thirty eternal seconds to escape the slippery prison of his own blood on the wood floor.

 

He crawled out of the pool he’d made, but stood again as soon as he could regain his footing because there was no way he could crawl and keep any pressure on his small, but deadly laceration. Dan could feel the moisture soaking his shirt and pants as he staggered out of the house. He gripped the railing as he cautiously made his way down the porch steps, sensing that he would not get up from a fall again. The dead officer’s cruiser was closer than his own, and so he moved unsteadily in that direction. Despite the gravity of the situation, he found his morbid sense of humor coming to surface.

 

And to think Steve told me not too bleed too much…

 

Suddenly, hovering in his path was the outline of a man. Help was here! He stumbled toward the man, but noticed the object in the large shadowy figure’s hand – it popped open and became suddenly longer. Immediately racked with fear again, Dan knew it was a switch blade.

 

No…

 

The new attacker rapidly grew larger in the officer’s field of vision. Police training made Williams reach for his revolver, which he miraculously re-sheathed by force of habit in its holster after Carla had stabbed him. Not bothering to take aim, he fired as he saw the glint of the sun on the blade very close to him.

 

He felt the gun fire, more than he heard the pop. The man fell in front of him, and Dan did not stop to see if he was dead – he didn’t get up, and that was all that mattered.

 

Getting the car door open took almost of all of the strength he had left. At last he tumbled into the front seat. Focus…focus… The radio microphone was hooked in its spot on the dashboard, and he found he had to let go of his neck to retrieve it.

 

His voice was raspy, but at least it was still audible. “Dispatch -- Five-Oh-Two…” He didn’t – couldn’t wait for the response. “Officer… down. Request….backup…”

 

“Five-0h-Two – Dispatch. Danny! That you man? What’s your location?”

 

One thing that stood out about HPD over other police forces was their frequent breaches of radio protocol. McGarrett, initially objected to the undisciplined practice, but eventually became resigned to the fact that it was just part of the charm of Hawaiian culture and its people.

 

Dan could not remember the address, but he prayed that Harry had checked in when he and Carla had stopped. “Kanu…nu…Carla…” As he said her name, a horrifying thought struck him. What if Carla managed to escape? What if they thought the dead goon had done Harry and him in?

 

“Danny! Say again! Did you say Kanunu?”

 

“Yeah…Carla…killed…” He choked…his voice was gone. He didn’t think he’d been able to get his point across.

 

It was strange, he knew he was going to die – after all he hadn’t been able to tell them where he was. But his thoughts turned to the Christmas party the previous year. What a great evening it had been. This year would be different though. His ohana – Steve – would probably be mourning his loss. There would be no laughter, no jokes, no music, he suspected – all because he had the discourtesy to get himself brutally murdered on the very day of the Christmas party.

 

How inconsiderate can a guy get! I’m sorry Steve…

 

 

*****

 

It took a minute for the dispatcher on duty to confer with the duty officer and agree that Williams said he was at Harry Kanunu’s location, but at last the call went out.

 

“All available units – Dispatch. Officer down. 145 Ahilama Road. We have one, possibly two officers down from an unknown situation. We are out of contact with anyone at the scene at this time, so use caution in approach.”

 

 

*****

 

“You and Danno have put a lot of effort into this shindig tonight,” McGarrett commented as he signed papers where she pointed.

“It’s going to be great, boss!” Jenny said, but then another thought came to her. “I hope Danny remembers to bring the book. Maybe I should call him.”

 

Before the detective could question the secretary, his private line rang right when Kono and Chin trotted into his office.

 

The officer-down message was broadcast to all units on patrol. Kono and Chin heard the message on the police radio in the Chinese detective’s cubicle. McGarrett was receiving the call from HPD Dispatch because a Five-0 detective was involved.

 

“Answer that and tell ‘em we’re en route!” He barked to Jenny as he and the other two detectives sprinted out the door.

 

McGarrett, gripped with fear over the news of his second-in-command’s abbreviated call for help, hopped onto the radio the second they were in his car. No backup had arrived at the scene and so no news was forthcoming. The next five minutes were interminable for the three men careening toward Kanaluu. The head detective’s driving on a good day was fast and usually conducted in a distracted fashion. Add panic and urgency to the mix, and the drive was downright life threatening.

 

At last a report that two marked units were on the scene was broadcast. “Put me through to the officer in charge of the scene!” McGarrett’s tone was intense and the dispatcher didn’t waste any time making the connection, but getting someone to come to their radio took another three minutes. The head of Five-0 was ready to start shooting by the time a voice responded.

 

“Dispatch, this is Fenton.”

 

McGarrett didn’t wait for the dispatcher to announce him as it was clear the patch was complete. “Officer Fenton, this is McGarrett. What’ve you got? Where’s Williams?” Steve could feel his insides shaking, fearing that something very bad had happened.

 

Another pause caused the impatient and tense Five-0 detective to bark. “Fenton! Put Williams on!”

 

“Mr. McGarrett, we have three bodies here. Two of them have been identified. One of them is Officer Harry Kanunu, and the other one is Detective Williams.” The voice continued to speak, but Steve’s ears were ringing. He suddenly felt like a large mousetrap had been sprung on his heart. He clutched the microphone with a death grip. NO! There had to be a mistake! NO!

 

“No! There’s a mistake! A mistake!” he whispered ferociously to himself.

 

“I’ve called the medical examiner and he’s on his way, sir.” McGarrett heard the words this time, but could not find a voice to respond. He wasn’t sure he had the will to continue breathing.

 

Chin and Kono exchanged distressed looks, and Chin, in the front passenger seat, pried the microphone from his boss’s hand.

 

“Sir? Do you copy?” The voice queried.

 

“Fenton, this is Chin Ho Kelly. We copy. We are en route and will arrive at your location within a few minutes. Kelly out.”

 

The Oriental detective, full of emotion as well, fell back on years of police training, but could not speak to comfort the man sitting next to him, who kept his eyes on the road without really seeing what was in his path.

 

Kono leaned back in the seat behind the driver and was at a loss for words as well. The thought that their kakaina was gone was unimaginable. But how could a report like this be a mistake? After all, what HPD officer didn’t know a dead body when he saw one?

 

McGarrett’s face was a tense statue for the remaining minutes of the silent drive to the  Ahilama Road address. Three HPD marked cruisers, an ambulance, and the medical examiner’s wagon already blocked the road in front of the large home as the Five-0 sedan came to a screeching halt. All three detectives were out of the car before it stopped shaking. Doc Bergman had apparently just arrived on the scene as well. Officer Fenton approached the Five-0 detectives, but McGarrett did not wait for him to speak.

 

“Where is he?”

 

His question was harsh, and he had no thought that the officer would not know to whom he referred.  He pointed at the police cruiser, and every person within eyeshot grew suddenly silent. McGarrett’s fondness for his second-in-command was well known.

 

The Five-0 men were thirty feet away, but the carnage was already visible. McGarrett felt weak, but he would not stop. Danno deserved for him to follow through.

 

A dead man – the murderer – on his back outside the car barely rated a glance from the detective. His interest lie in the front seat of the cruiser. It was like a nightmare from which he could not awaken as his friend’s body came into view. He caught his breath as he saw the pool of blood on the floor board. He stopped and circled around to the driver’s side of the vehicle where he could be closer to Dan’s head. Chin and Kono moved to stand near the passenger door, close enough to begin their own grieving process, but far enough away to give their boss the private moment he needed with his protégé.

 

McGarrett sank to his knees as he opened the door. Dan was stretched across the length of the seat on his side, canted towards the dash The microphone had slipped from Williams’ hand and was now immersed in the pool of red on the floor. His head had slipped off the seat and was dangling unnaturally under the steering wheel. No white was visible on his shirt – only the red life that had drained from his body colored his clothes. Steve took in a sharp breath again, but could not contain the sob that came out.

 

“What were you doing here, my friend?”

 

A tear rolled down his face as he gently picked up Williams’ head and irrationally tried to move him into a more comfortable position, causing him to gently roll onto his back.  The skin on his blood-splattered cheek was cool but did not feel lifeless to McGarrett. Grasping at any possibility, willing to make a deal with God or the devil, he tried to find a pulse on the non-injured side of his friend’s neck, but could detect nothing.

 

God I need a Christmas miracle. Do this for me and I’m in Your pocket. Please…  

 

Steve’s tears dropped onto Dan’s cheek as he leaned over him to see if he could sense any life. He lifted one of the nearly closed eyes to reveal the blue cornea. What he saw startled him, but made his heart leap – Dan’s pupil contracted as the light hit it!

 

“DOC!” McGarrett screamed. “He’s not dead!”

 

It took Kono, Chin, Bergman, and everyone else within earshot a moment to recover from the shock of the shout. The other two Five-0 detectives looked at each other, each wondering whether their boss had lost his mind, but they moved quickly and climbed into the back seat of the car to get a look for themselves. Bergman ran around to McGarrett’s position.

 

“Steve, get back and let me take a look!” Bergman’s bark was reminiscent of McGarrett’s at that moment. Steve quickly stepped back

 

The physician checked Williams’ pupils with his small pen light, and then pulled out his stethoscope. Bergman’s startled response was more violent than McGarrett’s as he screamed. “Get that gurney over here! This man’s alive!” He rubbed his face quickly. “My God, we’ve been wasting time! Quickly! Help me get him out of here! Steve, get and maintain firm pressure on his neck – he doesn’t need to lose another ounce of what blood he’s got left!”

 

There were plenty of hands to help lift the limp blood-soaked man out of the car and onto the gurney. As they removed him, the doctor bristled, “Who decided this man was dead?”

 

One of the officers spoke up uncertainly. “Two of us checked for a pulse in his neck, and there was so much blood, we didn’t see how he could…” It was clear both of the men felt horrible.

 

“For the record, a carotid pulse is not a reliable indicator of life in the case of an injury to the neck.” He shook his head at the near-tragedy that he wasn’t certain had been averted yet.

 

“I want thirty units of whole blood – A positive – waiting…” Bergman was snapping orders at the attendant as they lifted the gurney into the ambulance, and McGarrett simultaneously barked commands at Chin and Kono.

 

“I wanna know what the Hell happened here—” Just before he had to climb into the ambulance, he saw an HPD officer leading Carla out the front door of the house. The woman was crying hysterically, but was apparently okay enough to walk under her own power. She looked down at the dead man in the front yard, and gasped, but quickly continued scanning the yard as if searching for something. When she saw the senior detective, she broke away from the man who had her arm and ran headlong towards the ambulance.

 

“Steve! Steve! He killed them!” She was obviously bleeding, but her injuries did not seem to be critical enough to keep her from sprinting.

 

The man was too focused on saving Williams’s life to deal with the distraught female. Not missing a beat, he continued his progress into his place by Dan’s head in the vehicle.

 

“Call another ambulance! Kono, you ride with her and find out what happened! Chin, you’re in charge of the scene! I want it locked down!”

 

The ambulance doors were slammed before any more words could be exchanged and each man set about the daunting tasks at hand, holiday festivities now the farthest thing from anyone’s mind.

 

 

*****

 

 

As badly as he wanted to know that Williams was going to be all right, McGarrett’s heart sank when he saw Doctor Bergman enter the hospital’s waiting room. It had only been an hour and a half. It hadn’t been long enough for the medical people to mend his friend – he’d been so—so deathlike. The only possible answer was that Danno had truly died on the operating room table.

 

“I’ve had customers who died from blood loss that had more blood left than he had.” Bergman shook his head and sat down. “Is there any coffee around?”

 

Impatient to hear the prognosis, but feeling a measure more calm in light of Bergman’s tired, but calm manner, McGarrett handed the man his own cup as he sat down next to the physician in the hospital’s waiting room.

 

“Doc, what’s the deal? Is Danno gonna be okay?”

 

“Yes, Steve, I think so. I’ve got him sewn up and transfused. He had quite a slice to the carotid and a punctured esophagus. They’re taking him up to the ICU right now. He’s in serious, but stable condition.” He took a swig of the detective’s coffee.

 

McGarrett leaned back on the sofa as well. “Thank God. Thank God.” He shot a glance upward and recalled the deal he’d made earlier. In Your pocket…

 

Bergman continued. “He’s got some bumps and bruises as well, but nothing broken.”

 

“When can I see him?”

 

“They’ll have him situated shortly.” The doctor looked over at the man sitting next to him and opened his mouth to speak, but stopped.

 

“What is it, Doc?” McGarrett asked, a measure of concern rising in his gut again.

 

“Nothing relevant really – it’s just that if you hadn’t noticed that Danny – if you hadn’t – well, another few minutes of being treated like a dead guy would’ve turned him into just that.”

 

McGarrett had never seen the man cry, but there were tears in his eyes now. An involuntary shudder traversed Steve’s spine – he knew it had been close, but couldn’t bring himself to think about it just now.

 

“It’s a miracle I didn’t haul him off in the meat wagon and slip him into one of my refrigerators.”

 

“Doc, I – uh, don’t think we can dwell on what might’ve been. Let’s leave that to the poets and philosophers. You brought him back, and that’s what counts, and I’m betting that’s what Danno’s gonna say when he wakes up.”

 

Both men jumped slightly when Kono popped the door open. He had the same initial reaction to the sight of the doctor sitting in the waiting room instead of attending to his friend that Steve had. He frowned. “How’s the kakaina?”

 

Bergman smiled at the brotherly reference to his patient. “He’s holding his own, Kono.”

 

As soon as he saw the Hawaiian detective, McGarrett remembered that Carla had also been injured, and so immediately pressed for the details on her condition.

 

“She’s a little bruised, and one little cut on her hand that needed stitches, but other than that, she’s fine. They’re gonna keep her overnight here just for observation. She was pretty hysterical for awhile.” 

 

“I can only imagine what she must’ve gone through. Were you able to get a statement from her?” With Williams out of immediate danger, McGarrett was able to turn his thoughts back to the horrible crime scene.

 

“Nothin’ that made any sense until after we got here and the doctor took a look at her.” Kono began. “Then, she settled right down, and became the perfect witness. She says that she and Harry Kanunu arrived at her place and found a package on the doorstep. She said it looked like the envelope that the other pictures came in, so she called Danny. He told her that he’d come over and pick it up. Well, she gets in the shower, and by the time she’s done, Danny’s knockin’ on the door. She goes to let him in when she sees Harry’s legs in the bedroom. She starts screamin’ and Danny busts in. They both go in to check out Harry, but somebody comes springing out of the closet and attacks them. The guy manages to get a knife into Danny. Then he grabs Danny’s handcuffs and pushes him down the stairs. Then he came after her, he started to stab her but then he stopped. She thinks he heard Danny getting away. So, he handcuffed her to the bathroom sink, and went after Danny. She wasn’t certain what had happened after that. She kept expecting him to come back, but he never did.”

 

“Oka-aay,” McGarrett responded slowly. “So, Danno drove over to collect a new package of pictures…” He frowned. “And walked in on a murder in progress…”

 

The Hawaiian detective nodded. “It looks that way. She’s one lucky wahine that Danny managed to put a bullet in that guy.”

 

“Hmm, yeah,” the lead detective responded distractedly. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but something about the story didn’t add up. Maybe everything would make more sense after a visit back to the crime scene. “Kono, you head back to Ahilama to help Chin. I’ll be out after I check in on Miss Hayes.”

 

“Right, Boss!” He paused, but then asked, “So Danny’s gonna be okay?”

 

McGarrett smiled and threw a nod in Bergman’s direction. “Yeah, bruddah, thanks to the doc here, we think he’s gonna be fine.”

 

Kono nodded, relief registering on his face. Steve slapped Kono on the back as he slipped out the door. It had been a traumatic and emotional few hours for the Five-0 men, and they each felt the need to be reassured that this particular emotional roller coaster ride was coming to an end.

 

 

*****

 

Steve tapped on the closed door, and then peeked into the darkened hospital room. Carla, propped up comfortably in the bed, looked in the detective’s direction. Her golden hair was pulled into a simple single braid, which was draped casually on her shoulder. Her right hand was wrapped in a gauze bandage. Puffy, red eyes told the detective she’d been crying, but there were no other visible signs of trauma. Lucky wahine indeed, McGarrett mused as he considered the conditions of the other two victims.

 

He smiled and approached her bed. “Hey, pretty lady,” he greeted softly. “How are you?”

 

Her lower lip quivered, but she smiled as a crocodile tear slid down her cheek. “I’ve had better days.”

 

He sat down on the bed, and took her hand. She sniffed, trying to maintain her composure, but after a few seconds, couldn’t hold it in any longer. She burst into tears as she leaned forward to hug him. “Oh, Steve, it was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever experienced!”

 

His heart went out to the woman, and he wrapped his arms around her and squeezed. “It’s okay now. That monster’s not gonna hurt anyone ever again.” He gently pat her back for a full minute before the sobs that racked her body subsided into rhythmic sniffs.

 

She kept her head on his shoulder for another minute before she gently pulled away to look at him. “Danny…Danny died trying to save me.”

 

Steve smiled and took her face into his hands. “Honey, relax – Danno pulled through surgery. He’s gonna be fine.” The detective refused to consider the possibility that his friend would do anything else after making it so far.

 

The woman looked as though she did not understand what he’d said. “He made it? He’s not dead?”

 

“No, thank God. It was close, but we got him to the hospital in time.” The man’s voice was thick with emotion again.

 

“So he’s not conscious yet?”

 

“It’ll be a few hours at least before he wakes up, I imagine. He’s fresh out of surgery.”

 

“Thank Heaven!” Carla leaned her head back on the detective’s shoulder for just a few moments before she sat back up. “I want you to take me to him right now.”

 

McGarrett dismissed the request. “Danno’s in no condition for visitors. Maybe tomorrow.”

 

“Please, Steve. I know he’s not awake, but I just want to see for myself that he’s alive.” Her eyes pleaded with him. “He saved my life.”

 

McGarrett hesitated as he considered her request. He had to admit that he always felt better seeing for himself.

 

Seeing he was waxing, she pressed, “Please. I won’t stay long.”

 

“Are you in any condition to get out of bed right now?”

 

“I am if you’ll help me.”

 

He relented. “Okay, but it’s gotta be a short visit. You need to get some rest.”

 

 

*****

 

The heart monitored beeped rhythmically on side of the bed, and the head of Five-0 found the sound comforting as the pair entered the room softly. McGarrett had insisted that he bring the woman upstairs in a wheelchair for the quick visit. He didn’t need to have her collapsing on him after helping her to violate her doctor’s orders. He gently grabbed her arm as she stood and she pulled her robe snugly around herself as they stepped closer to the head of the bed where they could view the sleeping patient.

 

Still gray with shock, the young man had an esophageal tube taped to the side of his mouth. The usual assortment of tubes and lines emanated from the patient’s bed. Someone had done a fair job of cleaning up the blood splatters on his face, but they missed a few spots. There were pillows on either side of his head to minimize the patient’s ability to roll his head when he awakened.

 

“Thank God.” The words slipped from McGarrett’s lips again as he gently touched his friend’s hand. He found himself wishing Carla were not here, so he could just sit alone with Williams for a few minutes and be grateful.

 

“Yeah,” Carla agreed softly, and then stepped close to the bed. With her finger, she tried to dislodge a smudge of dried blood from Dan’s cheekbone. Not looking up from her activity, she inquired, “When do they think he’ll regain consciousness?”

 

McGarrett started to respond that it was hard to say, but stopped as the patient stirred. Startled, Carla pulled her hand back as Steve stepped closer. Dan moved his head slightly and moaned softly. A slight grimace came over his face and he tried to bring his hand up, probably to remove the no-doubt offensive tube that ran down his throat.

 

“Easy, Danno. Take it easy,” Steve reassured gently. The man’s voice had the desired effect on the patient, who let his hand drop back to his side and slowly opened his eyes.

 

It took several moments for him to focus and take in what surroundings he could with the limited mobility available to him. His eyes finally settled on the figure of his boss.

 

Steve smiled. “Back from the dead.” Thank God.

 

Dan blinked and frowned. He had discovered that he could not speak and his hand came up again.

 

McGarrett gently grabbed it and pushed it back down. “It’s okay, Danno. You’ve got a tube down your throat – don’t ask me why, but I’m sure Bergman put it there for a good reason.”

 

The patient calmed down visibly and seemed to accept the explanation. He blinked slowly, still heavily under the influence of the anesthesia, and tried to focus on the other person who stood peeking around Steve’s shoulder. As he struggled to sharpen the image, Doctor Bergman and a nurse entered.

 

“He’s awake?” The doctor asked for no good reason since the answer was obvious. He stepped to the opposite side of the bed from Steve and Carla, and glanced at the patient, but focused on the heart monitor. The beeps were coming closer together.

 

The patient’s hand came up more quickly this time and made it all the way to the tube before Bergman and McGarrett reached his hand to stop him. Dan wasn’t looking at them. He was staring at Carla, who stepped back slowly from the bed, unnoticed by the others in the room. This time, he didn’t just let his hand drop. He struggled to pull the tube from his mouth.

 

“Danno! It’s okay!” McGarrett tried to calm his friend, but saw that now he was trying with both hands to reach the tube.

 

“Nurse, a little sedation if you please!”

 

The doctor, his hands busy keeping Williams’ head from moving, motioned to the woman with his head. Within twenty seconds, the nurse had injected Dan’s intravenous line. The effect was almost immediate as the patient wrestled less fiercely with each passing second. Soon, McGarrett could feel no resistance in his friend’s arms.

 

“Rest now, Danno. We’ll get that tube out of there as soon as Doc says it’s okay.” McGarrett tried to comfort Williams, but wasn’t certain he’d succeeded.

 

Dan looked at Steve until his eye lids finally became too heavy to keep open. He let out one last soft moan before he succumbed to the darkness again.

 

Bergman shook his head and explained. “Some people can’t handle the esophageal tube – it makes ‘em feel like they can’t breathe.”

 

“I thought he was settled down about the tube.” The detective glowered.

 

Carla, all but forgotten in the excitement, suddenly sank to floor. McGarrett spun quickly and lifted her head.

 

“Carla!” McGarrett almost shouted as he rushed to where she had fallen and lifted her head. Bergman was there almost as quickly and took her pulse.

 

“I’m sorry, Steve,” the woman said weakly. “I think I need to rest.”

 

Bergman nodded at Steve and they helped her into the wheelchair.

 

“I’ll be back at the scene if you need to reach me, Doc.” McGarrett hated to leave, thinking it was possible that his second-in-command would awaken again while he was gone, but the cop in him told him he needed to go back for a more in-depth look.

 

“Don’t worry, Steve. He’ll have to rest now and I’ll probably have to remove that tube by morning or my patient will remove it for me!” The doctor looked back at Williams sleeping form, and mumbled as he left, “Definitely a miracle.”

 

 

*****

 

When the head of Five-0 pulled up, Chin, Kono, and three HPD officers were standing out front. He recognized only one of the uniformed officers, Sergeant Duke Lukela.

 

“Well, at least Danny got the psycho before he went down,” one of the men exclaimed as McGarrett approached the group.

 

“Chin, what’ve we got?”

 

“Harry Kanunu was dead in the bedroom upstairs. He had multiple stab wounds on his back and his throat was slit.” Years of experience enabled the Chinese detective to make his report without flinching. “Carla Hayes was found handcuffed to the sink in the upstairs bathroom.”

 

McGarrett sighed and took a few paces. He turned and looked back at his men. “I wanna take it from the top. I wanna match what we think happened with the evidence.”

 

“Sure, Boss,” Chin responded without blinking, and they all waited for detective, renowned for his ability to analyze crime scenes, to offer guidance as to how there were to proceed.

 

“Who was the first officer on the scene?”

 

“My partner and I were, sir,” One of the HPD men spoke up and nodded to the man standing next to him.

 

McGarrett did not know the men, but glanced at their name tags. “Okay, Officer Pono and Officer Richards, you arrived at the scene and found the suspect there on the front sidewalk?”

 

Richards nodded, “Yessir. He was dead from a gunshot wound to the chest.” He hesitated and glanced at the police cruiser where Williams had been found. “And that’s where I found Danny.”

 

His partner corrected, “That’s where WE found Danny – sir, we both checked for a pulse…” The distress in both their eyes was evident. They were standing before Hawaii’s top law enforcement official, guilty of writing off as dead the officer that everyone on the force recognized as McGarrett’s heir apparent. If they still had jobs when the night was over, another miracle would have taken place as far as the two men were concerned.

 

The sister of gratitude is charity, McGarrett decided as he stood before the officers. Feeling more benevolent about the terrifying incident than he had been earlier—especially knowing that his friend had a good chance of surviving – he spoke. “Maybe it was a miracle. I don’t know. I am certain of two things though. Number One – There are many people who would have made the same mistake. Number Two – I know at least three cops who’ve learned how to tell a dead guy from one that’s not quite dead. So, let’s just move on and see if we can piece this together.” Somehow, he knew that’s what Danno would want him to say.

 

Both young officers relaxed visibly as they recognized the absolution being granted to them. The head of Five-0 had a reputation, often deserved, amongst the HPD rank and file for being a harsh perfectionist, so the two men had good reason to dread what was going to befall them. To have the man admit that he understood the horrible mistake made him rise in their estimation. Lukela, Chin, and Kono all exchanged subtle looks of approval – they too were more than a little surprised.

 

“Yessir!” Both men responded in unison.

 

The subject closed, McGarrett turned back to the subject at hand. “Okay, so you found the suspect here on the sidewalk, and Danno in Officer Kanunu’s cruiser.” He couldn’t help but wince internally at the vivid memory of the blood covered detective draped across the front seat of the car, but he pressed on, determined to put to bed whatever was nagging him. 

 

“You went into the house, and then what?”

 

Pono picked up the story as they went inside. “We made sure the main level was clear, and then we proceeded up the stairs.” The six men had followed the trail of blood into the foyer and now stood before the dried pool of blood that looked like a child’s finger painting. Williams had obviously fallen here at the foot of the stairs – the trail of hand prints led towards the front door.

 

They moved up the stairs and to the bedroom where the officer had been found, and Pono continued somberly. “We found Harry in here very dead.” The volume of blood affected all of the men. One of their own had fallen here and the graphic evidence reminded all of them of the dangerous nature of their business.

 

Not lingering long, the group moved onto the bathroom, doing their best to avoid stepping on the trail of now darkened blood. McGarrett looked into the bathroom from the doorway. “You found Miss Hayes handcuffed to the sink?”

 

Richards nodded.

 

“Kono, tell me if I get any facts wrong from Miss Hayes statement.”

 

“Right, Boss.”

 

“Miss Hayes and Officer Kanunu arrive and find a package on the doorstep. She calls Danno to come get it, and then gets in the shower. Officer Kanunu is presumably confronted by, and loses a struggle with, the suspect in the bedroom. She gets out of the shower and starts into the bedroom to get dressed. Danno arrives right as she discovers Officer Kanunu. She screams. Danno rushes in and comes to her aid. He enters the bedroom.” McGarrett, with his entourage in tow, paused long enough to return to the bedroom. “He enters the bedroom – and forgets to secure the scene before checking on Officer Kanunu.” The detective stopped again and frowned.

 

“That doesn’t sound like Danny.” Chin observed.

 

Kono agreed, but added a possible explanation, “Maybe he was distracted with the sight of Harry and all.”

 

“Maybe.” McGarrett added noncommittally. He opened the closet door from whence the killer had sprung. The space was small and immaculate. “The suspect was certainly neat to have hidden in here and not so much as pushed a hangar out of place.”

 

He closed the closet and went back out onto the landing. “So the struggle takes Danno and the suspect out into the hallway, where Danno takes a knife hit to the neck.” He studied the trail of blood that led from the bathroom down the steps.

 

He looked at Kono. “It looks to me like the trail leads from the bathroom down the steps. Are you sure she said that Danno was stabbed out here?”

 

“That’s what she said, Boss, and then he pushed Danny down the stairs.”

 

McGarrett, completely focused, was trying to build a picture of what had occurred here those hours ago. He stepped back over to the bathroom and studied the blood pattern there for several seconds before he followed it back to the top of the steps.

 

“Miss Hayes has to be mistaken. Danno was stabbed in the bathroom.” He made a mental note to follow up with Carla on that one, and moved on. “So, the suspect stabs Danno and throws him down the steps.”

 

Kono injected, “Oh yeah -- before he pushed Danny down the steps, he took his handcuffs.”

 

McGarrett frowned in concentration again. “The guy stabs Danno in the neck and knocks him down this flight of stairs. What made him think he might need the handcuffs and why – while he was at it – didn’t he take Danno’s gun too? He’d be alive and at-large at this very moment.”

 

The questions returned blank stares from the other officers. The lead detective added, “And what was Carla doing all this time?” He didn’t wait for an answer. “Okay, assume he predicts the need for the cuffs. He sees that Danno isn’t done for yet, so he runs and grabs Carla and cuffs her to the sink so that he can vault down the stairs and chase Danno to the car. Danno manages to turn and fire on the suspect.” McGarrett quickly trotted down the steps and out the front door, and everyone else followed suit. He stopped and stared at the spot he remembered seeing the suspect’s prone form.

 

“Interesting though – the suspect was lying on his back with his head towards the car, right?”

 

“Yes, sir, that’s correct,” Pono confirmed. “He had a single bullet wound to the chest.”

 

“So, if he was chasing Danno out of the house, then Danno would’ve had to turn and fire on him.” McGarrett frowned and continued to study the sidewalk. “And the guy would’ve had to spin to end up on his back the way he did.”

 

Chin stepped up and said what his boss was thinking. “Kinda looks like the guy was waiting for Danny when he came out of the house.”

 

“Hmmm…” McGarrett made the noise as he moved down to stand by Kanunu’s cruiser. The detective continued his pondering. “Now that the suspect is no longer a threat, Danno makes it to the radio, and calls in the officer-down.”

 

Steve leaned against the hood of the car and crossed his arms as he thought. Finally, he said out loud, “Doesn’t play out very smoothly, does it?”

 

“No, it doesn’t.” Chin agreed. “Miss Hayes was pretty upset though. She might’ve been a little mixed up about what happened. I mean she was almost murdered.”

 

“Danny thought the lady was dead,” Duke mentioned.

 

“He couldn’t have been certain of that, Duke. The suspect followed him outside and Danno got him, so the guy never returned to do Carla in,” McGarrett countered.

 

Duke shrugged. “I was standing in the Dispatch Room when the call from Danny came in. I heard him say that Carla had been killed.”

 

Steve stood there for a few moments, puzzled about several nagging little details that would not allow the story to gel properly. He sighed. “Well, I guess Danno will be able to shed some light on this soon enough.”

 

With that segway, Duke found it appropriate to bring up the subject. “So, Danny’s gonna be fine?”

 

McGarrett responded, “Yeah, Duke, he’s resting comfortably now.” I hope, he added to himself recalling that he’d had to pin his friend’s hands down earlier. “I’m gonna head back over there now.” He glanced at his watch. It was too late to be conducting cross-examinations of the patients, but he planned on hovering fairly close to Williams on this night, so he wouldn’t be far when Carla awakened.

 

 

*****

 

 

McGarrett was glad to have the drive back to the hospital to ponder on the evidence he’d just reviewed with his team. He conjured up images of the unlikely scenes… the big, as-yet-unidentified, but now-dead suspect jumping from the miniscule closet and catching an already-wary Danno off guard… the fight between Danno and the suspect that left Danno stabbed in the throat, disarmed of his handcuffs – and NOT his gun -- and shoved down the steps… the suspect catching an obviously-very-slow-almost-sloth-like Carla, dragging her to the bathroom, barely touching a hair on her beautiful head in the process as he cuffed her… Danno radioing in the call and erroneously reporting that Carla had been killed instead of what he’d seen with his own eyes – that Harry Kanunu had been brutally stabbed to death.

 

The image of Williams struggling to the front seat of the police car… bleeding profusely from his neck… barely able to speak… knowing he was probably going to die before help arrived. McGarrett could feel his own pulse quickening as he imagined how horrifying it must been for his friend. Knowing he was going to die... what would he have wanted to let investigators know about what happened? What message did he want to get across? That Carla had been murdered? That would’ve become obvious very quickly. He would’ve had to be having difficulty speaking, bleeding profusely from his throat

 

Carla was murdered… Carla was killed… Carla killed… Carla killed…

 

Like a bolt of lightening struck him, he plunged his car to the side of the road and slammed on the brakes, ignoring the car horn of some angry tailgater.

 

The other possible meaning of the phrase had not come to mind before this moment – In McGarrett’s mind, Carla had been a victim. Another scenario pushed its way into his mind – Danno is invited into the house and called up the stairs, where he is caught off guard by his female attacker… He realizes he’s bleeding heavily and cuffs her to the sink so that he can get to the car to radio for help… The suspect – in cahoots with Carla or there for other reasons – shows up and tries to finish off Danno, but can’t argue with the bullet… Danno makes it to the radio to call for help AND to warn the police that Carla was in on it! Carla killed all right! Carla downright butchered!!

 

It all made sense! That scenario was much more compatible with the evidence. And the memory of Danno thrashing wildly in his hospital bed, after seeing the woman, struggling with everything he had to warn him of the black widow behind him. A jolt of panic struck the detective as he realized that he’d casually given the murderess a personal guided tour to his completely vulnerable and incapacitated friend!

 

 

*****

 

 

Carla Hayes had to wait until her doctor looked in on her. He insisted she take a sedative, which she easily placed under her tongue until she was free to spit it in the toilet. It was good, she decided, that the doctor had seen her take the pill – it would offer up a good alibi in the unlikely event that she required one.

 

She slipped up the stairwell at the end of the hall, and had to wait a few more minutes until the medical people left Williams alone in his room. Finally, peeking through the cracked stairwell door, she watched as the same doctor that had visited the detective earlier left, carrying the esophageal tube. He muttered to the nurse with him.

 

“I should’ve put the nasal tube in right off the bat – he always bounces back sooner than I expect.

 

For a few moments, she was concerned that Danny had regained consciousness and had perhaps told his story to the physician, but the conversation of the pair turned to an upcoming Christmas party in short order.

 

The hallway now clear, she slipped quickly into the darkened room. The heart monitor beeped rhythmically as she approached the young man. His eyes were closed and the tube that had distressed him earlier had been replaced with a somewhat less annoying nasal tube.

 

She pulled the empty syringe out of her pocket and pulled back on the plunger, filling it with air. Soon, a bubble of air would be traveling through the man’s IV line into his bloodstream. That alone might not kill him immediately, but an air embolism could explain his death in the case of an autopsy. She would have to smother him she decided.

 

“How many times do I have to kill you?” She said softly, almost amused with the statement. As if on queue, Williams’ eyes opened slowly. She tensed, but recovered quickly, knowing he was sedated and very weak.

 

He focused on her, and she thought he might try to call for help or strike at her, but he did neither. His heart rate didn’t even go up.

 

She relaxed a bit and smiled sweetly at him. “They must have you on some pretty potent stuff, Sweetie.”

 

The patient’s mouth moved, but as close as she was, she couldn’t make out the words. She put her hear down to his mouth. “What’s that, Sweetie?

 

“Why?” The detective could do no more than offer a barely audible whisper. 

 

“Why?” She repeated the question quietly, but still two orders of magnitude more loudly than it had first been asked.

 

“Why did I enlist the aid of a psychotic freak to copy a gruesome murder OR why did I feel the need to make you a victim? Both reasonable questions, but I don’t really have time to go into all of the gory detail – I need my beauty rest. For old time’s sake, let me answer the second question for you.”

 

She held the hypodermic up to the dim light of the monitor to be sure it was properly primed as she spoke. “It became very clear to me that I would never be able to get close to Steve with you around. The solution was obvious. If everything had gone as planned, today, you’d already be dead along with poor Harry, the innocent bystander here. And little old me – well, I would be in Steve’s loving protective custody, being the only witness to the horrible murder of his obviously much-adored second-in-command. You wouldn’t have had to worry though – I’d have been there to comfort and support him through his mourning. And I’d have had the inside track on the investigation, which would have ultimately added a fantastic – maybe even Pulitzer-worthy – angle to my book.”

 

Her cheerful tone turned a little more somber as she continued. “As it stands now, I think I did a fair job of improvising a story. You were a very naughty boy to have handcuffed me like that. Santa would not be paying you a visit – even if you were going to be alive.”

 

She reached down and grabbed the IV line. “All told, I think I’ve been pretty clever.”

 

The light over the doorway suddenly illuminated the room with a soft glow, startling the woman to the degree that she dropped the syringe.

 

“Beautiful – cold-hearted – brutal – yes to all of the above,” McGarrett said as he stepped from the small bathroom and quickly moved to put himself between the murderess and his friend. Chin, Kono, and Doctor Bergman pushed through the doorway from the hall.

 

“But not too clever. You should’ve let us figure out what happened instead of telling us. You hung yourself with your own words.”

 

McGarrett said calmly as he glanced back to see that the doctor was checking on his patient. Dan’s eyes were closed again, and Steve looked to Bergman for reassurance. The doctor breathed a loud sigh of relief that the drama was over, and nodded at the detective.

 

“I – I – you don’t understand, Steve –” Carla trembled and her voice was instantly teary as she clutched his arm.

 

“Oh, honey, you’re in the wrong profession. You should’ve been committing murders in Hollywood.” McGarrett couldn’t bring himself to look at her any more. He turned away and shook her from him. “Book her!”

 

Kono and Chin left with their prisoner nestled securely between them. The top detective heard the door close behind them, and was relieved that she was removed from the presence of Williams, who was apparently sleeping soundly despite the knowledge that the woman who tried to kill him was making another attempt.

 

McGarrett saw the doctor’s affirmative signal, but he wanted to hear it. “So, Doc, how’s he doing?”

 

“He needs to rest, but he’ll be fine. Between the anesthesia and the post-op sedative I gave him, he should sleep the rest of the night. I’m amazed we got him to wake up long enough to let him in on the little setup.” The doctor patted the patient’s hand gently and commented, “I don’t think I’ve ever met such a conniving, vicious creature as the one the boys just removed from this room.”

 

“Wait ‘til you hear her confession,” McGarrett reached under the bed, pulled the tape recorder from its hiding spot, and turned it off.

 

Good definitely triumphed over evil today, but not without paying a price.

 

 

*****

 

After repeated assurances from Doctor Bergman that Williams would not awaken anytime soon. McGarrett returned to Carla Hayes’ home. He searched her office and collected a few boxes of papers. The case was solved, but the puzzle was incomplete.

 

 

*****

 

The small chapel on the main level of the hospital was properly adorned for Christmas with several wreaths, each capped with a different color of bowed ribbon. McGarrett hadn’t set foot in a church for personal reasons in many years, and so felt a measure of discomfort and not belonging as he hesitantly made his way to the altar at the front. He looked back at the four rows of empty pews, relieved that God had no other customers to deal with here.

 

“Can I help you, my son?”

 

The old priest stepped from a vestibule behind the altar. His presence momentarily startled the detective, but he recovered quickly. After all, to find a man of the cloth in a church was not too surprising.

 

The detective gave a small shrug, “I just stopped in to pay my respects.”

 

“And to ask why or say thank you?” The man had a calm manner born no doubt of many years of dealing with troubled souls.

 

“I asked for a miracle today, Father.” McGarrett sat down in the first pew. “Not just a run-of-the-mill-don’t-let-him-die miracle, but a full-blown Lazarus-style-bring-him-back miracle.” 

 

The man, dressed in a common black frock and white collar, sat down in the same pew. “That’s not an uncommon request in these parts.” There was a wizened sadness in his voice. “Had your loved one been ill?”

 

“No, Father” Steve looked up at the priest and had to smile. “My—my loved one was stabbed.”

 

“It’s especially hard to come to grips with sudden death from violence,” the priest intoned gently. 

 

McGarrett made eye contact with the man as he realized they were not on the same wavelength. “You don’t understand, Father. I stopped in to say thanks.” It was amazingly liberating to say it out loud, and the detective laughed softly.

 

The old man arched his eye brows.

 

“You don’t believe in miracles, Father?”

 

The priest smiled. “Touché’!” 

 

 

*****

 

Steve awakened and had to look at his watch to know whether it was night or day as there were no windows in the ICU room in which Dan had been placed after his surgery. From the kink in his neck, he knew he’d slept soundly for at least a couple of hours, but he’d spent much of the night there in the room consumed with the tale Carla Hayes’ manuscript painted. Bergman had been correct. His friend was still sleeping deeply. Leaving instructions that he was to be called immediately if Williams awakened, he went home, got cleaned up, and made it to the Palace only a little later than usual.

 

Jenny rushed from the filing cabinet to hug him. She couldn’t get the knot in her throat out of the way to speak at first.

 

“He’s gonna be fine, love.”

 

She nodded and pushed herself away, not wanting him to see her tears. The thought that their Danny could be dead today shook her. The office – the Five-0 Ohana – Steve – would never have been the same. She forced herself to stop thinking about what might have been and went to get the boss some coffee.

 

Within minutes, McGarrett’s office was buzzing with banter from Chin and Kono as well as Walter Stuart, the attorney general, and his assistant, Neil Sandarski. McGarrett had agreed to a short meeting with the prosecutor so that he could begin preparing his voluminous case against Carla Hayes. Just as they all seated themselves, Jenny opened the door and allowed Governor Jameson to enter the room.

 

“Steve! Walter! Gentlemen! Don’t let me interrupt. This has been such a high profile case that I had to stop by and see if I could better understand the story,” The governor said as he shook Steve’s hand and then acknowledged Kono for the chair that had magically appeared behind him. “I heard on the news this morning that Danny is in stable condition.”

 

McGarrett nodded and smiled. “Yes, sir, he’s gonna make it.” It was apparent to everyone else in the room that the man had not slept, but that fact had not diminished his drive.

 

“Excellent news! Please pass on my best wishes to him!” The governor leaned back in the chair.

 

Jenny re-entered the room with a cup of coffee and handed it to the man. “Just like you like it, sir!”

 

He squeezed her hand. “Are the boys treating you all right?”

 

“Like gold!” She winked and left closing the door behind her.

 

Jenny had worked as an assistant secretary in the governor’s office until she’d been offered the executive secretary position with Five-0 earlier that year.

 

The governor turned his attention back to McGarrett. “So tell me – we know who did it. Do we know why?”

 

Stuart spoke up. “I’m not sure we have a complete story yet, but we have her confession on tape for the murder of Officer Kanunu, and for the attempted murder of Williams.”

 

Seated at his desk, McGarrett’s voice was patient. “Not to disagree, Walter, but I think I can paint a pretty complete picture for you. Of course, I reserve the right to change the story as the evidence presents itself.”

 

The governor nodded, “By all means, proceed, Steve!”

 

“Hold on to you hats, gentlemen!” McGarrett started. “The victim that we initially thought was the first one in the series was actually not related – except insofar as his murder was the evil seed upon which the others were built. Patrick Ramsey was murdered by someone he knew. We will solve that case in due course.”

 

Steve shot a look at Chin and Kono, who both nodded with conviction before he continued.

 

“The mastermind behind the other murders was Carla Hayes. Violent murder is not the typical weapon of choice for women. Statistically, a woman will choose poison or a firearm to kill, if murder is her intention. But Miss Hayes was writing a book, and in her mind, it wasn’t just any book. This was to be a book that would propel her into the forefront of the literary world with its drama, made all the more amazing because her gripping story would’ve been touted as true.”

 

“She had just moved here from the mainland to try to get her creative juices flowing when she read about the stabbing murder of Ramsey. Somehow, she concocted a sick and twisted plot to make that unfortunate man’s murder into the first of a dramatic set. To make it more newsworthy, the killings had to be bloody, apparently random. As we know, nothing can whip the public into a frenzy like random murder.”

 

“You can say that again,” Jameson groaned.

 

“But Miss Hayes felt ingredients would still be missing from her production. She needed to find a way to add a personal touch and then set it against the backdrop of paradise during the holidays. With her journalistic connections and inarguable beauty, she did her homework, and learned that Five-0 would take the lead in investigations of this nature.”

 

The detective rose and walked around to sit in Danno’s spot on his desk. “There was an entire file in her office dedicated to notes on Five-0, me in particular. I was to become one of the actors in her play.”

 

“Next, she needed to find someone demented enough to go along with her plan – someone willing to commit murder on the scale that she intended.” The detective nodded at Chin, who picked up the thread.

 

“She lucked into Edward Slater, an insurance adjuster with a history of violence and a passion for knives, when he came to her house to evaluate some flood damage that had occurred before she rented the place. It’s anybody’s guess as to how the pair managed to work out a deal – and we’re not sure what he thought he was getting out of the deal – but we do know that all of his victims were customers.” The Chinese detective looked back at his boss.

 

“Hayes’ didn’t care who Slater selected as victims – he had carte blanche to kill whomever he chose. Her only requirement was that it be bloody, and get more bloody with each murder. She had the scenario all written down before it happened. She gave him the medication that he somehow managed to inject into his prey when he arrived at their homes to document damage they’d each reported. Each unsuspecting victim slowly slipped into lethargy and was unable to defend himself as he was stabbed to death. That allowed Slater to take photos before, during, and after with no interference.”

 

The governor, disgust stamped on his face, inquired, “So, where do you and Five-0 fit in?”

 

“Miss Hayes made several attempts to gain privileged information on the cases and personal contact with me. She wasn’t above using her feminine wiles on me and my men, so that could explain why she knew what she knew. What she didn’t count on was Danno’s bull dog refusal to allow her special access to me. So, she had to find a way to make us come to her. That wasn’t too difficult for her -- she had Slater leave a package of photos along with an especially sinister note – written in blood. It gave us reason to believe that she would be the conduit through which we could gain insight into the killer.”

 

“The initial assumption yesterday was that Officer Kanunu and Danno just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. In reality, Danno was the target. Slater figured out that she was helping the police, and angrily let her know that he was unhappy. With that phone call on tape, I saw that our witness needed police protection, whereupon she now had an officer with her twenty four hours a day. Whatever evil plan she intended would have to include the murder of whoever was there to watch over her as well.  She was somehow able to get in touch with Slater. She managed to convince him that he needed to come to her place and kill her body guard and then lie in wait for another cop that would be along shortly. After he’d done her dirty work, she would save herself by killing him – in self defense of course. She would tell the world that Slater came to kill her, and that the two cops died trying to protect her.”

 

“It almost worked!” Kono was appalled and could not keep the fact to himself.

 

“Yeah, bruddah.” An involuntary shudder traversed McGarrett’s spine. “If it hadn’t been for the fact that Slater was stuck in a traffic jam, everything might have gone off as planned. But Danno, being a cop in a hurry, wasn’t about to let a traffic accident slow him down. He buzzed right through on official police business. Slater started getting nervous, so as soon as he could, he turned off on Mahakea Road, which is one street over from Ahilama.”

 

Kono injected. “We found the suspect’s car parked there   it looks like he went cross-country to make it to Hayes’ house.”

 

McGarrett nodded and continued. “Carla got concerned when Slater didn’t show up that Danno would arrive before Kanunu was dead. And she knew that even Slater might have trouble subduing two cops. So she decided she’d better pitch in and get her hands dirty. She sedated Kanunu – a little poke though his shirt would’ve hardly been noticed. Then, she stepped up behind him and slit his throat. As soon as he fell, she stabbed him in the back a bunch of times to make his murder look like the others. She’d barely finished the job when Danno knocked.”

 

McGarrett stood and walked around to stand by the French Doors. He could feel his heart beating faster as he began to describe what were almost his friend’s last moments.

 

“She ran into the bathroom and lured him upstairs. Danno knew that the killer was a big man, not a slender female. So it was fairly simple for her to catch him unawares. She managed to stick him with the hypo – probably before she stabbed him. He knew that he was going to pass out, so he did the only thing he could do to keep her away from him. He handcuffed her to the sink. By this time, Slater managed to hoof it from his car, and he realized that the party had started without him. He met Danno outside as he struggled to get to the radio to call for help. Danno shot him, solving Hayes’ problem for her, and managed to drag himself to the radio to call for help.”

 

“Carla thought Danno was dead right up until I told her that he wasn’t. If Danno had died, she was expecting that her testimony and the evidence would say that Danno and Kanunu had been victims that got in the way of Slater’s attempt to kill her.”

 

The head of Five-0 sighed and had to admit, “Her book would’ve been the stuff best sellers are made of.”

 

The governor shook his head. “Steve, I don’t know how you managed to unravel this mess into a coherent timeline, but I have to say, I’m impressed.”

 

The detective turned to his two detectives. “Incredible dedication on the part of my team, from my secretary right up to my second-in-command.” Smiles flickered across the faces of his men, but vanished behind stoic masks in short order.

 

“As it stands now, the evidence is simply a prosecutor’s dream.” Stuart too was astounded at the case that the detective had just laid at his feet.

 

 

*****

 

 

The media had exploded that day with stories of the dramatic finale to the serial killings. Many put a Christmas spin on the tale by including what details they could of Williams’ revival from the dead. Tales ran rampant in the HPD ranks of the drama of the young detective’s supposed death and then subsequent restoration to life. If Steve McGarrett was a legend before the incident, there was no doubt now that the legend would include the story that he commanded his detective to rise – and he did!

 

McGarrett cautiously pushed through the door into Williams’ room. He’d arrived a little later than he’d intended, but the office had been a mad house of phone calls and paperwork as was frequently the case when high-profile events happened. He was surprised to see Doctor Bergman standing at the patient’s bedside, and instantly filled with concern that something was wrong.

 

Bergman’s smile reassured him that the visit was routine, but he asked anyway as he approached the bed. “Everything okay, Doc?”

 

“See for yourself!” Bergman stepped aside.

 

Dan, still looking incredibly pale and tired, looked up to see his boss. The young man was smiling slightly and had a placid expression. The nasal tube was still present, but did not seem to be bothering him at the moment.

 

In that moment, when his eyes met his friend’s, the memory of holding his head in what he thought was death, the frantic ambulance ride, and how the medical personnel had literally ripped him from Williams’ side when they entered the hospital all came crushing down on him. He felt his eyes pooling again as he put his hand on the patient’s curly hair.

 

His voice was thick with feeling as he spoke. “Lazarus Williams.”

 

The joyful expression on McGarrett’s face was one Dan hoped he would never forget. “Steve.” He mouthed the word, but no sound came out.

 

“He can’t talk, and I don’t expect that he’ll have his voice back for a few days at least. There’s too much swelling around his larynx.”

 

“I guess that means I won’t have to listen to any lip for a few days.” McGarrett didn’t take his eyes off Dan as he spoke.

 

“It’s just remarkable,” Bergman marveled.

 

“I suppose you’ve come up with a scientific explanation for how we made it to the hospital alive.” McGarrett didn’t really care at that moment whether a logical reason existed, but it seemed appropriate to ask.

 

The physician recognized the detective’s first person plural reference to Dan’s survival as a clear sign of the incredible bond between these two men. McGarrett consciously or not decided that if Williams did not survive, he would not survive either.

 

Bergman smiled. “I’m trying to make one up before the next medical examiners’ convention. Here’s my theory so far, Danny!”  Williams slowly focused on Bergman as he spoke. “Your body temperature dropped because you were soaking wet with your own blood. It slowed your heart. Shock caused all of the peripheral, non-essential blood vessels to close, thereby reserving what blood you still had for your vital organs. And the fact that your head dropped off the seat meant that what blood you had was still making it to your brain. Incredible luck!”

 

McGarrett looked back at Williams to gauge his reaction to the doctor’s somewhat graphic depiction of the physiology. The patient seemed attentive, but unbothered.

 

Dan moved his hand toward his boss’s sleeve, and Steve moved closer to listen to the faintest whisper that was his voice and read his friend’s lips.

 

“Case closed before Christmas?”

 

McGarrett smiled. “As promised. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve.”

 

Dan frowned. “I missed party.”

 

“Danno…” The man’s voice was soft and affectionate. “There could be no Five-0 Christmas party without you.”

 

 

*****

 

“You just have to get more creative every year about where we have our Christmas parties, don’t you!” McGarrett addressed the man in the wheel chair next to him as he leaned back in the only chair with arms in the hospital’s atrium.

 

Jenny and Five-0’s two clerks spent this particular Christmas morning decorating the room before they ushered the delighted Williams in. Also in attendance was Chin and his wife, Mai, their eight children, Kono with his a girlfriend. Duke Lukela and his wife, Doctor Bergman and his wife, and several other medical personnel, whom Williams had befriended. Food, punch, and gifts floated around the room amidst the joking and laughter. Jenny hovered and fussed continuously over Williams, who patiently endured – enjoyed even – the coddling.

 

“Now, Danno, you promised an entertaining time. Just because you’re hospitalized, don’t think I’m letting you off the hook.”

 

Still unable to speak, Williams smiled and held up his index finger in a hang-on-for-a-minute motion. He nodded at one of the matronly nurses that were standing with the Bergmans. She flashed a knowing smile and slipped out the door. Within a minute, she stuck her head back in the door.

 

“Ready?” She asked with a smile at the patient, who gave a slight nod with his mischievous grin. The woman vanished for a few moments before she returned carrying an institutional size jar Maraschino cherries and set it on the hospital tray before Williams.

 

Completely perplexed, the group watched with interest as the nurse opened the jar and stepped back. Dan threw a grateful glance at the woman as he pulled a cherry from the jar and popped it into his mouth, stem and all. He chewed for a few moments and swallowed, but then he frowned in concentration for a good twenty seconds, obviously manipulating something still in his mouth before he leaned forward and let his project drop out on the tray. Satisfied, he looked up at everybody.

 

“You tied the cherry stem into a knot with your tongue,” Jenny observed. She looked up at him with a skeptical smile. “And just how hard could that possibly be?”

 

Dan pushed the jar in her direction and challenged her with his expression. She didn’t take her eyes off the detective as she reached into the jar and pulled out a cherry. She let the juice drip back into the jar for a moment before she daintily pulled the cherry to her lips and pushed it into her mouth. With that Dan looked around at the faces in the crowd and gave them the same testing expression.

 

With that, Chin and Kono stepped up and took their cherries. Everyone else filed up and retrieved a cherry and began to attempt to the feat that Dan had accomplished. As the grimaces and contortions gripped the faces of the group, Dan smiled and casually held his throat. Laughing was not such a good idea either, he decided, as he could feel it in his injury. Dan picked up the pen and jotted down something on a page of his notebook. He held it up for all to see:

 

20 SECONDS!!

 

“Very impressive time to beat,” McGarrett intoned with seriously. “You’re just full of hidden talent.”  Dan canted his head as best he could in acknowledgement of the compliment and pushed the jar in Steve’s direction. “So, the gauntlet is thrown down.”

 

He shook his head and grinned as he reached his hand into the jar and entered the contest with the rest of his ohana. The team’s laughter and the uncommonly merry disposition of the Five-0 chief served to make the event an experience that further cemented the bonds of McGarrett’s ohana.

 

Williams lasted a good two hours before McGarrett insisted, without much argument from the patient, that it was time for Dan to return to bed. The round of Mele Kalikimakas and get-well-soons, complete with pats and hugs depleted the last of Williams’ reserves. By the time McGarrett helped him back into bed, he could barely raise his hand.

 

“Good party,” He whispered as he closed his eyes.

 

“It was a great party,” McGarrett agreed.

 

“Steve?” Eyes still closed, he confessed. “Your Christmas gift – there was no time...”

 

The older detective was touched at the concern, but knew the truth. “Danno, I don’t remember ever receiving a better gift than the one I was given this week.”

 

This was the time of giving and gratitude, and on this particular tropical Christmas, there was no doubt in the mind of Steve McGarrett that he’d been granted something special indeed by the man upstairs. His second-in-command and trusted friend was still among the living, and he felt like the most blessed man on the planet.

 

Mele Kalikimaka, my friend.”

 

PAU