PALE SHADOW OF REVENGE

 

Story idea by Karen S

 

Written

by

Gina Martin

 

 

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spring 1976

 

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The evening had gone well so far.  Very well.  After the touchy beginning -- picking up Nan almost a half-hour late.  Fast, smooth, sweet-talking on his part had leveled out her irritation.  A brisk, almost solitary drive up the windward coast, the temperate trades blowing in her short blond hair, was a plus.  Only one other car on the road trailing behind them seemed to be leisurely cruising too since it made no attempt to overtake the Mustang.  The tourists had almost all gone back to their hotels in Waikiki.  The surfers were still on the beaches catching the last of the light and frothy waves.

 

The natural beauty of a spectacular twilight at Sunset Beach had helped elevate her mood enormously.  A classic Luau, then some fun at a new dance spot in Kahala called the Kahana Café (he winced just remembering the prices!) pretty much sealed the night as a success. 

 

After seven weeks of persuasion; two missed rendezvous because of work and one cancelled because her flight was delayed, they had at last shared a memorable date.  With the promise of more enjoyment to come.  Dan Williams had met Nan on a flight from San Francisco to Honolulu when he had gone to the Mainland to escort a prisoner.  On the United flight back, Nan had been flirty and funny.  By the time the wheels hit the runway in Hawaii, they had exchanged numbers and tentatively set up a date.  It had been a long time coming, but it seemed worth the wait.

 

The night was perfect; warm and calm with a hint of misty rain in the air.  As they drove south toward Honolulu on the coast road he tightened his arm around her shoulder.  This was the stuff romantic novels whipped up for avid, deprived readers who longed for paradise and passion.  And here he was living it.  Life didn't get much better.

 

Nan Dreisler snuggled up to him and hugged his right arm.  "This has been a wonderful night, Danny.  I always heard Hawaii was a great place.  Now I can see why.  The natives are so friendly."

 

Her tone alone was enough to convince him of her intentions.  Just to be sure he replied, "Want to try another Island tradition?"

 

"What's that?"

 

"Coming back to my place for a drink?"

 

She laughed, her dark green eyes flashing with merriment.  "And I thought Hawaiian time was slow.  I haven't had a date in a while, but I know a proposition when I hear one."

 

Rather than address the discovery of his blunt overture, he commented at his surprise that she wasn't overrun with dates.  He was, in fact, glad she allowed him to finally take her out considering it had been so hard for them to connect.

 

"Airline attendants have terrible schedules."

 

"Like cops."

 

"Yeah."  She played with the top button on his shirt.  "That's why I think I'll take you up on your offer."  She played with a curl of hair at the back of his neck.  "We have to take full advantage of our opportunities.  Didn't you say you lived by the beach?"

 

"About nine floors up from the sand."

 

"Maybe we can take a midnight swim."  She stroked the back of his hand with her fingernail.  "Since I don't have a flight until Thursday night, we can stay up as late as we want."  She scooted closer.  "I could spend all day tomorrow with you, too."

 

Inwardly groaning, he wanted more than almost anything, to accept that delightful invitation.  There was only one problem.  "We can stay up as late as you want."  He leaned over and nuzzled the top of her head.  "But I have to be at work at eight."

 

Pulling away from him she scowled and in the indistinct, reflected light of the dash instruments, he knew he had just about ruined the perfect evening.  Nan's experiences with his job had been disastrous so far and he quickly back-peddled to salvage the night.

 

"Nan --"

 

"Danny, I'd like to know what makes you think you need to be a cop twenty-four hours a day!"

 

Clearly the miffed tone indicated she had lost her patience with excuses.  The words and attitude also implied this was probably his last chance at making a connection with her.  Quickly glancing over her petite, striking figure, cute features and pert personality, he vowed to be on his best behavior.

 

He took hold of her hand and kissed her fingers, giving her his best woeful expression.  "I was hoping we could make the best of the time we have tonight."

 

With a sigh she relented and smiled, drinking in his face and settling determined, twinkling eyes on his.  "Then I guess we shouldn't waste any more time.  Let's go see your beach."

 

By the time they were cruising through Kaimuki she had settled comfortably against his side, his arm wrapped around her shoulders.  At the intersection near the mall they stopped for a red light and someone's frantic shouting diverted his attention.  With the top down on the Mustang it was easy to hear the frenzied cries for help.  On the corner at a Kentucky Fried Chicken eatery, a man in -- pajamas and a robe? -- was accosting a man in a store uniform?  Obviously some incident with a nut case.

 

Straightening, releasing his hold on Nan, checking to make sure there were no on coming cars, Dan made a U-turn and raced toward the disturbance without a thought.  It was all automatic cop response.  Drat, there was no police radio in the car.  Double-drat -- since this was a romantic evening he had put his extra pistol, a small .22 automatic, in the glove box.  He screeched to a halt just in back of the fast food store and quickly shut off the engine, unlocking the glove box, and pulling out his pistol.  After a fast check to assure it was loaded, he patted a stunned Nan on the arm.

 

"Stay here and don't leave until I come back." 

 

He leaped from the car and sprinted around the corner, tensed for anything considering he was approaching a lunatic.  Part of his mind still wondered if he should have ordered Nan to lay on the seat and keep her head down; well, maybe it was best he hadn't thought of that -- it would have seemed a bit alarming.  Like this part of the date wasn't?

While, of course, most of his thoughts were focused on how to defuse the volatile situation he was running into it at full tilt.

 

The man in the pajamas was wrestling with the employee, pushing and shoving the young teenager in a fast food uniform against the glass door of the establishment.  Added to the chaos was a new element -- a hysterical woman in a parked car.  Instantly assessing the extra component in this bizarre equation, he dashed over to pull the pajama-man off and shove him against the nearby car hood.  Placing himself between the assailant and the victim, he trained the pistol on the raving attacker.

 

"Hold it right there!  Five-0!"

 

A renewed wail of anguish rose from the interior of the car.  The young employee squeaked something unintelligible, and the man in the robe started pounding the hood of the car.  From this distance Williams could see the assailant was unshaven, red-eyed and frenzied.   Dan wondered if this was a drug-induced fit of some kind.

 

"Don't you understand?  He closed!  I need chicken!" the unbalanced man wailed.

 

"This is all my fault!" came a stuttered, sobbing confession from the woman in the car.  She slowly struggled out and when she rounded the fender Dan was stunned to see she was very obviously very pregnant.  "Robby did this for me!"

 

She waddled over to her mate and hugged the desperate, mentally-disintegrating man in the robe. 

 

"All we want is chicken," the deranged man pleaded.  "She can't sleep.  I can't sleep.  The baby is two weeks overdue.  And all she wants is fried chicken."

 

Starting to feel like a complete fool, Dan lowered the weapon and looked at the young employee who was as startled as he was.  Hardly able to grasp the situation, Officer Williams just shook his head.

 

"I'm willing to pay extra, Bruddah," Robby assured.

 

The woman yelped, crying out in a loud, piercing wail.  "Oh!  Ohhhhh!  Robby!  I think -- ohhhh -- I think that was a contraction!"

 

"What?  A contraction!  You mean -- a real -- labor?  You're going into labor?"

 

She curled over, clutching tightly to his arm.  "Yes -- ohhh -- that was a contraction."

 

As soon as she straightened he started hustling her back to the car, muttering incoherent, disjointed words about not being prepared and having left the suitcase at home.  Not sure what else to do, Dan shepherded them in the slow process of getting her back into the car.  She had to stop every few feet and engage in breathing exercises, then meander on when the contractions stopped.  Just before she reached the passenger door she nearly doubled over.

 

"OHHHHhhhAGGGGG!"

 

"They're coming too fast!" Robby snapped out to Dan in quick aside while he tried to coach on the breathing.

 

Alarmed, Williams felt his temperature drop at the thought of having to assist in a birth.  He had been trained in all forms of first aid, of course.  He knew how to stop bleeding, apply bandages and take care of all manner of gunshots, broken bones, burns -- gruesome stuff he had faced on the job all too often.  But deliver a baby!!!

 

Williams felt a push against his arm.  Nan.  She shoved him aside and took hold of the woman's arm.  "Everything's all right," she assured in a calm, soothing tone Dan had heard her use on the flight where they met.  A professional tone designed to ease nerves and let the people around know they were safe, they were in the hands of a professional.  He had a tone like that, too, but had not thought to use it.  He was just too surprised.  Now, watching Nan take over and expertly direct the situation, he appreciated her skill and level headed thinking.  "Don't worry about a thing."

 

Crisply she ordered the youthful employee to call the hospital and warn them to be prepared for a very quick birth.  Given a duty -- or perhaps anxious to be away form the wailing and imminent birth -- he scurried back into the store.  She ordered Dan to grab some towels from the restaurant just in case they didn't make it to the hospital.

 

Racing into the store, Dan went to the back room, grabbed linens and raced outside.  By now the woman and Nan were in the back seat.  She suggested he drive ahead and clear traffic.  Dashing back to his car he grabbed the blue police light he kept under the front seat and placed it on the dash where it revolved with a familiar flash.  It was late and traffic was light as he wheeled around to park at the curb and wait for Robby to follow.

 

It was a swift drive up to Leahi Hospital. On the trip he kept a close eye in his rearview mirror to make sure Nan, Robby and mother-to-be were following close behind.  After several slow turns and up a curving road, Williams realized there was another car persistently making a third in their caravan.  Strange, was that the small headlight/amber parking light car he had seen during their cruise back from the windward coast?  That didn't make sense.  Around the next curve in the road he checked -- yeah, the amber parking lights were still there.  His cop instincts started to worry, but subsided when Robby trailed him into the driveway of the hospital and no other car followed.  With a sigh he concluded he was letting the odd evening get to him.

 

In the few minutes it took to reach the doors Dan began to come down from the intense emotions and appreciate the unique situation.  He was smiling by the time he stopped by the emergency entrance and watched the nurses extricate the woman from the back seat.  In a whirlwind Robby, wife and attendants were away, leaving Nan and Danny leaning against the car to catch their breath.

 

"Would you mind terribly if we stayed to see the happy ending?  I hate it when I can't finish a good story."

 

With a regretful nod, Dan amicably agreed.  "Sure, why not?" 

 

Spend the night in the hospital waiting room as the end of his date?  Well, maybe it would score points for the future, but it was about the last place he wanted to be.  Ever.  At least, on the good side, he wasn't here because of some life and death event, waiting to see if Steve or one of his other colleagues would live through the night.

 

He nodded off to sleep several times before the end finally came  just over an hour later.  Nan woke him to blissfully announce labor had been unexpectedly short and uncomplicated.  Little Annie Beth Kahili, seven pounds five ounces of joy, had arrived into the world safe and sound.

 

"Robby wants to know if you're going to press charges." Nan reported as she slid down on the couch next to him.  "I told him you wouldn't dream of it."

 

On the verge of correcting her -- it wasn't his place to press charges that was the responsibility of the victim -- he decided to not mention the details.  He'd go out to Kaimuki tomorrow and talk to the kid and cover the bill for the confiscated towels. 

 

"Ready to go?" he wondered, uncertain what they were going to do now.  As much as he'd like to have her come back to his place, it was after two am last time he checked. 

 

"Sure."  She patted him on the arm in a friendly, non-amorous way.  "I hope you don’t mind, I'm exhausted.  Can you drop me off at my place?"

 

"Of course."  He was a little relieved.  Walking slowly toward the elevators he tiredly rubbed his face.  He was beat and longed for a few decent hours of sleep before he had to go to work.  "Maybe we can try this again tomor -- I mean tonight.  How about dinner at --"

 

"Danny, you're a terrific guy," she began sweetly.  "And you handled everything so well tonight."  She stopped at the elevator and patted his hand.  No eye contact.  "I don't think I want to get involved with a cop."

 

Not this old controversy, he sighed, irritated that too many eligible young ladies found him ineligible because of his profession.  "Nan, come on, give me a chance--"

 

"No, Danny, let's not argue.  I think we should consider fate to be against us --"

 

"I believe we make our own fates," he countered quickly, sounding more like Steve than he wanted.  "I really like you --"

 

"And I like you, Danny, but so far our dating experiences have been disastrous.  Let's just agree to be friends, okay?"

 

Too fatigued to debate, he silently went along while mentally stacking up retorts to her objections.  The ride to her apartment was short and silent.  She gave him a chaste kiss on the cheek and a regretful aloha.  As he waited at the curb she unlocked the door to her ground floor apartment that faced the Ala Wai canal at the back of Waikiki.  Turning, she waved and he tried one last time.

 

"Nan, can I just call you?  Please?"  Her expression mellowed to sympathy and he adopted his most earnest and sincere demeanor.  "Let's try one more time, please."

 

Shaking her head, she finally smiled.  "One more chance, Danny Williams.  That's all you get."

 

He grinned in his most charming manner.  "Tonight?  I'll pick you up at seven.  In time to catch the sunset.  Then we'll go somewhere really good for dinner.  Maybe Nick's?"

 

Laughing, she agreed and stepped into her apartment.  He pulled away, grinning, feeling confident he could pull off a coup for her affections at their date tonight.  Admittedly, though, he was glad they had postponed until later, because he was exhausted now.  Pulling onto Kalakaua Avenue, he blinked, heart suddenly racing as he recognized familiar lights in the rearview mirror: two small headlights and rectangular amber parking lights.

 

Possibilities and plans tumbled through his mind as he kept watch on the mysterious pursuer that was only a block away.  From the bright streetlights of Waikiki he could tell it was a colored -- possibly green -- sedan.  Pontiac maybe, with a fastback type roof at the back. 

 

Traveling in the right lane near the beach, he made a swift maneuver across several lanes and zoomed over to the far-left turn lane.  The middle and right lanes were clear and the mystery car would have to pass right by Dan.  Then Williams would get a good look at him, and take down the license plate number.  The driver of the green car must have guessed his motives and made an illegal U-turn to get away.  The guy was smart, Danny granted.  So who was it following him?  Maybe something to do with one of the cases he was working on?  He would have to check it out in the morning at the office.

 

 

*****

 

Late already, Dan slammed his apartment door shut on the run and jogged toward the elevators.  It was a spectacular morning on the slopes of Diamond Head, and the kiss of sea mist greeted him as he dashed for the end of the building.  He finished working on his tie as he waited impatiently for the lift.  Steve was never going to understand he was late because of his date having gone horribly weird and bizarre last night. 

 

Redoing his tie again he reflected that he should be concentrating on his current, knotty case and not Nan or dates-gone-awry.  Slick Sam (where did cons come up with these pseudonyms?) was bilking rich tourists from big chunks of cash in confidence schemes centered in Waikiki.  Honolulu businessmen and politicians were turning up the heat for Five-0 to break the case that Williams was spearheading.  Fake tour agencies creaming money from State guests was just not acceptable.  Progress was expected, along with a detailed report of his investigations yesterday afternoon, this morning.  Thanks to the date, the reports had not yet been written.  He had anticipated getting up early and going in before the boss, but with everything going on last night he had forgotten that little promise.

 

By the time the lift doors opened in the lobby of the complex he had knotted his tie and was running out toward the garage.  He was several steps into the dark interior of the car park when his mind registered the incongruity of blue police lights flashing against the concrete walls of the condo units.  Sliding to a halt he turned and jogged back to observe the unexpected sight of an HPD squad car and two unmarked police sedans parked in front of his building. 

 

Chick Matsua from homicide was at the curb writing up a report and Dan joined him.

 

"What's up, Chick?"

 

"DB on the front lawn," the short, hefty Hawaiian replied absently as he finished his notes. 

 

Only policemen and a few residents mingled.  The body was already gone.  Dan had no desire to get entangled in a crime literally dumped on his doorstep, but he had to ask.  He was working on several cases and it was certainly not unique to have criminals take personal interest in Five-0 detectives in a very negative way. 

 

"You have an ID yet?"

 

"Yeah, local named Kanakili.  Scam artist, small time hustler in Waikiki.  Know him?"

 

The name sounded vaguely familiar, but off hand he couldn't connect it with a face.  "Might have something to do with a con case I'm on."

 

"Five-0 want to take this?" Matsua wondered, a challenge tracing the edges of his tone.

 

With his own dose of sarcasm Dan nodded toward the complex.  "This is where I live, curiosity's my only reason for stopping by.   And I'm late for work.  I gladly leave the paperwork in your hands," he grinned, but added as he sprinted away, "I'll have a look at the ME file later." 

 

As he headed for his LTD again, he was slightly disconcerted that a violent crime had visited at his residence.  It was a rather unusual event for cops to come in contact with felonies while off duty.  Most of the time criminal-activity-in-progress was small time stuff (although not quite as silly as he had encountered last night).  As he pulled out of the garage he glanced at his colleagues searching for clues and interviewing people.  He much preferred the serio-comic adventure of the previous night to the sad drama of this morning.

 

 

*****

 

 

Screeching into his parking slot at the Palace, Dan was again reminded that he was late.  All the other Five-0 sedans were in place.  After eight.  He scooted into the main office and presented himself at Jenny's desk.  The faithful secretary was busy typing, and Dan gestured toward McGarrett's closed office door.

 

"Steve ask for me yet?"

 

Consumed with her work, Jenny shook her head.  "He's in a meeting with Charlie Segaua."

 

"Tourist Board?"

 

"That's the one."

 

Sighing with relief that he hadn't been here to field THAT visitor, Williams moved over to the coffee tray.  "Steve said you should take care of the HPD reports.  They're on your desk," the secretary supplied absently, never breaking stride with her typing.  "And he wants to know your progress on your con man case."

 

Muttering acknowledgements, coffee cup in hand, Williams retired to his cubicle and made a sloppy, quick summary of his non-progress in the Slick Sam case.  Surprised Charlie Segaua was still occupying Steve's attention -- and happy he was not in there to hear -- Dan went through the HPD files.  Just to keep in touch with what was happening in the islands, Five-0 routinely kept track of overnight crime.  On good days they had time to assess the small stuff.  You never knew when some seemingly insignificant detail might be connected to a more serious case.

 

On the top of the stack was the latest murder, the one that had occurred in front of his condo.  Victim identified from wallet ID.  According to initial coroner's findings Lonnie Kanakili had been beaten and strangled . . . .

 

Dan leaned back, studying the grey, placid face in the ME photo, wondering why the name sounded so familiar.  He shuffled through the paperwork to the crime scene photos.  Yeah, poor Kanakili, even in death, looked known -- someone who had passed through these offices.  Dan dug a little more into comments on the victim's past and found that he had a record for hustling tourists and rich widows.  Hardly someone who would come under Five-0's scrutiny.  Probably Lonnie had been questioned in relation to a Five-0 case?  Well, it didn't seem important now, so Danny pushed it to the back of his thoughts.  What was important was seeing if Kanakili had a connection to Slick Sam.  So he went to his current, rather thick file on the con man and scanned it for known associates of the criminal.

 

A knock startled him and he looked up to see Steve McGarrett standing in the doorway.  The tall, dark haired boss had an odd expression on his chiseled face and the intent blue eyes were questioningly assessing him.

 

"Hope you're having a more interesting morning than wrestling crime stats with the tourist bureau, Danno."

 

"Yeah," Williams smirked.  "Anything's better than that.  I didn't even hear Charlie storm out of here."

 

McGarrett sighed the lament of the long-suffering.  "You must have been concentrating pretty hard to miss his huffing and puffing."

 

Williams tapped the thick files on his desk and grimaced.

 

"What?"

 

Unsure how to explain, Danny frowned.  "Just -- weird.  It's been a weird night."

 

"Not unusual for you, Danno."

 

McGarrett's grin softened the gentle teasing.

 

Williams just shook his head, acknowledging the harassment at his personal dating habits.  "No, this time it was really weird.  First, I was out on a date and we thought there was a crime being committed, and I thought we were being followed . . . ."  It sounded paranoid in the light of day and he self-consciously cleared his throat.  "Nevermind.  Anyway, on my way to work this morning I find there's been a murder in front of my building."

 

This piqued the boss's interest.  "Anyone we know?"

 

"I don't know yet," Dan admitted, still feeling strange about the odd circumstances.  "A hustler.  Maybe connected to the case I'm on. The con man running the fake tourist agency scam."  He stared at the picture of the dead body as if it could reveal something to him across the two-dimensional flat black and white image.  "A suspect we had in here one time I think."

 

"So you want to take over the investigation from HPD?"  Curious, McGarrett moved into the small office and sat on the edge of the desk.  "I know that tone, Danno.  Something about this murder is bugging you.  Any particular reason?"

 

Not sure himself for the motivation, Danny admitted to listening to his sixth sense and wondering at the coincidence of the body literally on his lawn.  "Lonnie doesn't really fit with the con man I've been chasing, but you never know."

 

Grimacing, Steve growled.  "Yeah, Charlie mentioned that open file several times.  Bad for the tourist trade."  Obviously dubious, he intently studied his younger officer.  McGarrett smoothly rose to his feet and paused at the door.  "Okay, Danno, you can handle the Kanakili murder, but I want Slick Sam put away wikiwiki."

 

"He will be.  And, mahalo, Steve."

 

"For giving you more work?  That's a first, Danno."

 

 

 

*****

 

 

The morgue was cool, filled with the odor of formaldehyde and other less identifiable scents, and amazingly quiet.  Williams never particularly liked coming here, but he didn't retreat from it either.  It was a necessity of the job and over the years he had seen a lot of dead bodies.  While they were not something he enjoyed studying, they were an occupational requirement.  The faint distaste he felt for the morgue he considered a good emotion, subliminally acknowledging that he still had some trace of humanity and respect, even for murder victims.  He had not descended to the callousness of some of the techs that blithely ate meals down here as they examined corpses, or made bets on causes of death.

 

Doc Bergman, their indefatigable Medical Examiner, was hunched over a desk writing out a report.  The only DB in the room was on one of the three tables in the center of the facility.  Dan picked up the toe tag and read that it was the body he was looking for.

 

Bergman, a crusty, irrascible physician in his fifties gave a cordial greeting and joined his colleague at the white-sheeted form.  "Strangulation."

 

Used to the perfunctory attitude, the younger officer nodded and stepped to observe as Bergman uncovered Lonnie's head.  Doc pointed out the clear marks of someone's hands around the victim's neck. 

 

"You're looking for a killer who is strong.  Your victim was hit on the head with a small, blunt object."  He turned the cadaver's head to show the wound.  "Enough force to stun the victim, but not kill him.  He might have even been conscious or semi-conscious.  Then the perpetrator finished the job, facing the victim, and strangling him.  With enough force to crush the trachea and crack the vertebrae.  The official cause of death is expiration from lack of oxygen."

 

"So the killer wanted to kill him literally hands on.  Unusual way to knock off a street hustler," Dan mused, knowing the manner of death was significant, but not understanding how right now.  "Why not just blow him away with a bullet or try a knife in the back?"

 

"That's your department, Danny."

 

"Anyone else come in with that MO?"

 

"Not recently. I can't recall anything off hand. You want me to do some checking?"

 

"If you have time."

 

Bergman shrugged, his sarcasm matching his wry expression.  "Why not?  Crime is supposed to be down according to the tourist office."

 

"Gee, I wish we saw some evidence of that on our side of the street.  Thanks, Doc."

 

 

*****

 

 

The usual denizens of Waikiki nightlife were just surfacing after noon and Williams tracked one of his informants to a sunny café on Kalakaua Avenue.  Shorty Lao was a shifty, transplanted Vietnamese venturesome-hustler who was rumored to be one of the richest street dealers of information on the rock.  He played all sides to his advantage and the only reason he had never been burned by an ally-turned-victim was that almost everyone needed him.  Enforcement officers, con men, hoods, all used the little guy for their own purposes and everyone seemed to win -- mostly Lao.

 

Weaving past brightly attired tourists, Danny wondered with some amusement what these vacationers from middle America, Canada and Asia would think if they knew a police informant was brunching with them on the sand-side lanai of this swank hotel.  Stopping at a prime beachside table, the detective slipped into an empty seat by the thin, slight Asian.

 

"Hey -- oh -- Williams!"  Lao leaned close, removing his sunglasses, and leered at the officer.  "You're going to ruin my reputation, cop man," he accused in heavily accented English.  Nervously he swiped at the thin mustache barely visible on his upper lip.  "You gotta get outta here.  I'm meeting -- meeting -- someone important," he stuttered, then guiltily pressed his lips together.  With a wave he brushed at the air, a clear gesture for Williams to leave.

 

Dan leaned back and relaxed in his chair.  "Perfect day on Waikiki, Shorty.  I'm in no hurry."

 

The Oriental released a sharp hiss.  "What do you want?  It's a freebee whatever -- long as you leave now."

 

Leaning close, Williams kept his voice as low as the informer's.  "Small time guy named Lonnie was murdered last night.  What was he into that made someone mad?"

 

Seemingly on the brink of denial, habitually playing dumb to hike up a price, Lao ground his teeth in anguish.  "Lonnie liked the rich ladies.  He was all right.  Never left 'em sorry.  You know, thinner in the pocket book, but happier on the inside.  Don't know why he would get chopped."

 

"What was he doing last night?"

 

"Playing the strip like always.  Saw him down at Canoe House round midnight.  Said he was waiting for a lady from somewhere back cold.  She was loaded with diamonds."  He glanced around anxiously, tension mounting by the minute.  "Now go!"

 

"No name?"

 

"They never got names, Williams.  Just money.  Go ask Tito at the Ilikai bar.  Now beat it, man."

 

Taking his time, Dan came to his feet and strolled away.  Just at the entrance of the indoor portion of the restaurant he paused.  Patience was almost immediately rewarded. Tomi Mano, a known thug who worked for the local Kumu mob, joined Lao at the table.  What was Shorty doing brushing elbows at breakfast with the mob?  Well, Dan would tuck that little nugget away for future reference.  For now he would track down the last known moments in Lonnie's life and possibly in his death.

 

 

*****

 

 

By the time Williams returned to the office it was past seven-thirty PM.  He waved at Jenny as he cruised past her desk to McGarrett's door.  He knocked briefly, noted Miss Sherman's nod to proceed, and opened the door without waiting for an invitation.

 

Shirtsleeves rolled up, jacket and shoulder holster off, tie loosened, McGarrett was hovering over the desk sorting through crime photos.  Energized by his success, Williams couldn't wait to share with his boss.

 

"Steve, I got a solid break on the Kanakili case."

 

Glancing up with interest, McGarrett's crooked smile reflected weary entertainment.  "Glad someone is having a decent day."

 

Tilting his head, Dan scanned the pictures of a crime they had been working on for two weeks with no progress.  "Yeah.  I clocked Lonnie from before midnight to just about his approximate time of death.  Doc says he's looking at about two AM for the murder.  This checks with the bartender at Canoe House who saw Lonnie leave with a lady sometime after midnight.  She's a guest there at the Ilikai and actually cooperated when I questioned her."

 

"That's a nice change," Steve appreciated as he slumped down in his chair.  "So is she your killer?" he asked lightly, his eyes twinkling with mirth.

 

"A five foot two widow from Wyoming?  Nah.  The night clerk corroborated her story, which is that Lonnie had her back at the hotel by one-thirty.  The body was discovered this morning after dawn in front of my condo, so that gives us several hours."

 

"So Lonnie got from the Ilikai on the Ewa side of Waikiki, to wherever he was murdered, to your place at the Diamond Head end of Waikiki, five hours after he died."

 

Danno sat on the edge of the desk.  "Yeah.  Weird, huh?"

 

McGarrett's expression was tight with concern.  "I don't like it.  Why dump his body, after all that time, in front of your condo?"  Williams shrugged, admitting he didn't know the answer to that.  "A message, maybe?"

 

"To me?"

 

"You're working on that con case --"

 

"Yeah, but Slick Sam is no murderer, Steve."

 

McGarrett's face reflected his lack of conviction in the suspect's innocence.  "Anybody find Lonnie's wheels?"

 

"Yeah, at the Ilikai underground garage. Maybe he walked the strip for a last drink.  Or another hustle.  HPD lab says no violence obvious inside the car, so it was lights out somewhere else."

 

Shuffling through the paperwork McGarrett placed Lonnie's morgue picture on top.  "I've been scanning the file, Danno.  I'm interested to see how you read this."

 

The intrigue in the voice alone alerted Williams and his excitement escalated as he realized his friend was on the same track he was.  "Unusual method of murder for a street hustler.  Almost like there was a personal grudge."  He was searching for just the right language to describe the theory he had been building all day. 

 

Dan agreed.  "Like the killer wanted him alive and watching as his life was squeezed out."

 

Smirking, McGarrett slowly nodded.  "Yeah, kind of colorful, Danno, but I'm right with you on that.  I think this is personal.  What did you find out about him?"

 

Williams related the unimpressive background of the victim.  An average kid growing up near the docks.  Ran into small trouble as a juvenile and remained consistently paddling a course between abiding the law and making a few bucks in shady operations.  No immediate family, he was a loner who lived a good life soaking up excess riches from the lonely and wealthy tourists.  He left behind a dashing convertible Porsche, a beachfront condo near the Ala Moana mall, and probably more than a few female mourners.  Lonnie was a swinger who knew how to swing.   

 

"Boy, I'd like to live like that.  Who says crime doesn't pay?"

 

"Your envy is showing, aikane," Steve smirked.  "What else?"

 

The description trailed away to pensive silence.  Dan was still trying to place Lonnie in Five-0's history.  At the sound of clicking Dan glanced up, startled that McGarrett was snapping his fingers near his face. 

 

"Danno?  You all right?"

 

"Yeah.  Just thinking."

 

"About Slick Sam, I hope."  The younger man scowled and Steve tsked, "Don't drop your main case for this murder, Danno, but --"

 

"I know.  I won't."

 

"I was going to say, don't forget, I think there is something personal about this case."

 

Williams brightened and flashed a grin.  "Does that mean you'll hand over the Slick Sam case to Chin or Duke?"

 

"No," he firmly refused.  Continuing to scrutinize the officer, McGarrett took hold of the files in Williams' hand.  "But it means we've been at it long enough.  How about we call it a night?"  He gathered the papers and put them all in a pile.  "I'll take you to a nice little Japanese place that just opened just down the block from me on the Ala Wai."

 

"Sure."

 

When they were almost finished with the task of cleaning off the desk, Jenny came in.  "I'm going home now, boss."

 

"Night, Jenny."

 

She glared at Williams.  "There's a message on your desk.  From someone named Nan.  She wanted to remind you about your date --"

 

Danny gasped.  "Date!  Oh my gosh!  Nan!"

 

"Is that the dental hygienist?" Steve innocently asked, winking at Jenny.

 

"Stewardess," his younger colleague moaned.  "Tonight!" 

 

"Does that mean no Japanese dinner?" Steve innocently wondered.

 

Dan checked his watch.  It was approaching eight PM.  "Oh no, she's going to kill me!"  He raced out the door ignoring the amused snickers behind him, his only thoughts swirling on what excuse he might possibly deliver that would get him on Nan's good side again.

 

 

*****

 

 

Aware that the punishment fit the crime -- that he was being ignored -- Dan knocked again, then tried the doorbell again, then repeatedly knocked and called out his date's name.  His almost-date.  Already irritated at himself for not remembering the time, for not being in casual clothes, for not having the chance to go home for the Mustang -- well, things were not starting out on a good note to begin with.  The lock out didn't help.  How could he apologize if she didn't talk to him?

 

Since she was stubbornly neglecting him it didn't look like there would be any more evenings out with Nan.  Trying not to appear like a complete idiot, he quietly (but loud enough for her to hear through the adamantly closed door) apologized for being late and asked (but did not grovel down to the pleading level) for her to show some mercy and forgive him.  At least the lanai light at the door was off so the whole neighborhood couldn't witness this groveling scene. 

 

This building wasn't too far from Steve's place.  Maybe he could take Nan to that new Japanese place.  If she ever answered.  Dan moved closer to the door, self conscious of the ominous silence.  He would never live it down if Steve was a bystander of this embarrassment.

 

Twice, a short, rotund Hawaiian lady walking a brown mutt walked past.  On the third trip she stopped and allowed the dog to sniff at his shoes.  "You lookin' for Nan?  She in there.  Saw her come home from da beach a while ago."  She gestured toward the end of the building.  "I just live down two doors.  Nan sometimes goes out with me to walk Mickey, but couldn't today.  Say she had a date.  At seven."  She looked him up and down, assessing him as a possible suitor for her friend, and sniffed (much like her dog) in disappointment.  "Dat wit you?"

 

"Yes."

 

"You late."

 

He refused to absorb the guilt she was heaping on him.  Justifiable though it might be, it was none of her business.  "Are you sure she's in?"

 

"Her car still in da carport.  Saw her hangin' her beach mat on da back fence after she come home.  She there."  A wicked smirk played at her mouth.  "Maybe she just don't want to see you."  Disdain heavy in the air, she turned, with dog in tow, and sauntered down the sidewalk.

 

Never a quitter, Dan felt justified in pressing his case.  Jogging around to the rear of the apartments he decided to go through the back gate to her small lanai/yard and literally try the back-door approach.  She at least owed him a face-to-face rejection. 

 

The wooden gate was unlocked and Dan slipped the latch, collided with the hibiscus plants because of the dim light, and moved on to bang on the sliding glass door.  It was dark inside.  A dog a few lanais down from him barked.  Presumably Mickey.  Sure enough, the short woman came out to watch him.

 

"You tryin' to break in?"

 

Pretending not to notice the witness he pounded on the glass.  "Nan?"  Maybe if he ignored the nosy neighbor she would go away.  "Nan!  Come on." 

 

Knowing he would be sharply condemned for it by the observer -- and her little dog -- Dan placed his hands on the glass to shield his eyes and peered inside.  Hard to see in the interior of the apartment because of the pale light cast from a window -- his chest tightened when he spotted two inert feet sticking out from beyond the kitchen wall.

 

"She's hurt!  Call an ambulance!" he shouted to the woman without glancing her way.

 

He tried the door and it opened without problem, then he dashed in.  Stunned, shocked to immobility, he stared down at the quiescent, grey, void-staring, form -- the once charming, now very dead young woman named Nan.

 

Instinctively he was aware of several things at once: the chattering and barking outside the lanai, the brush of the Trades as they blew in the sweet scent of Hibiscus, the cruel twist of the girl's limbs, the skin-chilling cold that coursed along his nerves.  Police training compelled him to avoid contaminating the crime scene, while his heart was clutched in frozen shock and he remained stationary, unable to move or even look at anything else but the body.

 

It was the familiar sound of sirens that jolted him back into form.  Like the tide receding from the shore; his senses gradually returned, instincts and reason surfaced above the shock that had submerged him into the frothy tide of disbelief.  The expected incredulous astonishment that this could not possibly be happening to a girl he knew was slowly replaced with reality. 

 

Two uniformed HPD officers entered through the back door and gave him a curt nod.  One flipped on the lights.  Even as the loud neighbor shouted accusations at him -- certain he had just murdered "poor Nan', he slipped out of the disturbed boyfriend persona and into the customary mode of investigator -- of Five-0 cop.

 

"Call for the ME and the crime lab," he instructed Patrolman Ky Puna.  

 

The shorter partner, Koni Osaka, came forward and asked what was going on.  As if hearing someone else speak, Dan perceived his voice as controlled and professional, strangely devoid of emotion.  He explained finding the body and his initial assessment of the scene of crime.  As the room gradually filled with professional enforcement personnel, Dan drifted around the apartment studying the rooms.  Silently, detached, he observed as items were dusted; as techs examined the carpet for footprints, scrutinized the desk without touching anything.  Trailing the colleagues in their work he circuited the area without glancing anymore at the center of the swirl of activity -- the body.

 

"Danno?"

 

Snapping around at the surprising voice, Danny was speechless.  Into this odd arena of the aftermath of violence stepped another incongruity.  Holding onto his arm, guiding him outside to the back lawn area beyond the small lanai, Steve McGarrett took charge without uttering a second word, without doing anything more than being there.

 

"I was on my way home and saw . . . . " the boss trailed off the soft explanation, intently studying him.  He directed Williams over to the Mercury parked at the curb on a side street.  Opening the passenger door he ushered Dan to have a seat.  "The victim, was she your date?"

 

Unable to find his voice Dan nodded.

 

Crouching next to the car, McGarrett touched his arm and grunted in disapproval.  Dan looked at him -- really looked at him and was drawn in by the profound compassion in the bold blue eyes.  They drew him in with nearly hypnotic power and he could just about literally feel himself rise from the depths of an emotional morass.  Taking a breath he explained in deliberate detail the events leading up to the discovery of the body.  McGarrett took it all in with quiet support, nodding, but never interrupting.  Then he patted him on the shoulder and straightened, briskly getting behind the wheel and revved the big sedan to life.

 

"I'm taking you home," he clarified sympathetically.

 

The tone of commiseration gave him a guilt complex.  "I don't need to -- I -- Steve -- I hardly knew her."  He shook his head, confusion muddling his thoughts.  "I don't know why I'm so -- upset."  Staring out the window he rubbed cool, shaking fingers through his hair.  "Not acting like a very professional cop, am I?"

 

The responding scoff was kind.  "You walked in to find your date murdered, Danno.  A little shocking even for a tough, seasoned Five-0 officer, wouldn't you say?"

 

"There was no other sign of violence," he reported as he clearly recalled the scene.  "Just her -- murder.  Everything was tidy."  He shook his head, unable to grasp onto the meaninglessness of the seemingly random and certainly useless crime.  "I didn't know her well, but she seemed nice.  Normal.  Her apartment wasn't trashed or --"

 

"Danno."  It was a command that sharply cut through the rambling and it got his attention.  "Danno, we'll investigate --"

 

"I'll investigate."

 

Irritated, McGarrett's lips pressed together in a severe line of disapproval.  He breathed out a sigh of patient tolerance.  "We'll investigate."

 

Feeling better already, Williams released his breath, easing the stored tension.  "Then you better take the next turn off and head back to the Palace."

 

Scowling at his friend, McGarrett shook his head.  "You need a break."

 

"I need to work on this, Steve, you know that."  Resolve lent stern intensity to his tone and expression, which was subtly acknowledged by McGarrett, who gave a curt nod.  "You know how it is."

 

"When did you get so stubborn?" was the rhetorical question as the Mercury turned toward downtown.

 

"I learned from the best," Dan replied truthfully, although the quip earned him a real glare.

 

 

*****

 

 

Rubbing his gritty, weary eyes, Williams pushed away from the table.  He could no longer read the letters on the police reports, nor lines of words on the forms of the initial findings from the ME.  Glancing toward the big desk in McGarrett's office, he saw the boss had his head back, eyes closed.  Maybe not asleep, but near-dozing.  Dan felt a bit guilty about keeping Steve up so late over this personal case, but there was no convincing him to leave.  Since he was the original stubborn Irishman, Dan eventually stopped debating and gratefully accepted his friend's expert skill and much needed moral support.

 

For hours they had profiled the crime and made a reconstruction that was theoretically accurate.  Early on they eliminated robbery.  Nan had indicated (corroborated by the nosy neighbor) that she didn't date much, so they tentatively ruled out a disgruntled ex.  That left a random crime of violence that still made no sense.  It was early yet for a case -- as well as literally in the pre-dawn morning -- but Dan was impatient for results.  There were, so far, no positives in their investigation.  The only physical evidence left behind was traces of blood and skin found under Nan's fingernails.  She had put up a struggle.  But it would be later in the day before those samples could be analyzed.

 

To top it off there was an odd note from the coroner.  Doc Bergman's quirky humor coming to the fore; noting this had been the second strangulation in as many days. 

 

Is there an epidemic afoot?  he had scrawled at the end of his preliminary findings. 

 

Dan rested his head on the table, closing his eyes and seeing a blur of black lines -- contorted words against a white page.  Then he saw Lonnie's face and Nan's face floating around different spots on the page.  The lines formed into two columns, one under Lonnie's head and one under Nan's face.  Two crimes.  Two MO's that were strikingly similar.  Behind him the voice of Steve McGarrett barked out McGarrett's Rule Number Five -- the axiom that there was no such thing as coincidence.

 

 

*****

 

 

Williams awoke to a gentle shaking of his shoulder and the close, powerful scent of potent coffee nearby.  Opening his eyes he saw a mug at his elbow and McGarrett leaning over him.

 

"Why don't you get some of this caffeine into your system and I'll take you home."

 

Williams straightened, noting that McGarrett didn't look much more sprightly or alert than he felt.  Also indulging in a cup of steaming coffee, Steve sat on the edge of the desk. 

 

"The crimes are connected, Steve," Dan blurted out, taking a swig of the thick, bitter java, retaining his look with his boss.  "The similarities are too coincidental.  And you don't buy coincidence.  Neither do I."

 

Thoughtfully, McGarrett considered the theory.  "Okay, Danno, that's possible.  We'll check the autopsy reports when Doc is finished.  For right now, why don't we go to our apartments, get showers and come back after a decent breakfast."  He came to his feet, indicating that was not a suggestion.

 

Sipping the coffee, Dan stood and gathered his things.  A glance around the office assured him Steve had been up for a while, quietly writing notes on the chalkboard and tacking up pictures and reports on a current-case board.  Once he got his teeth into something Steve was more tenacious than a terrier.  He couldn't give up on the quest for justice any more than Dan could. 

 

Placing his cup on the table Steve crossed to the door to usher them out.  As Dan stopped next to him he patted the shorter man on the shoulder.  "I think you're right, Danno.  My instincts are telling me the same thing.  We're dealing with the same killer.  But what is the connection?  The only one I can see so far is you.  You're at the center of the crimes for some reason that we don't understand yet. But we'll find out.  And I promise we're going to get this fiend."

 

Dan nodded, silently accepting and adopting the fervent promise. 

 

 

*****

 

 

Going back to his apartment had worked wonders on his mood and physical state, Dan reflected as he started the drive back to the Palace.  Late morning sun felt good on his arm as he drove.  Gratefully Steve had arranged for his sedan to be returned to his place so he did not have to return to the crime scene.  Now he was refreshed and ready to get back to work. 

 

Looking ahead, he speculated on what the Doc might have found in the autopsy findings.  Contemplation of business saved him from too much self-examination.  He was disturbed that his initial shock at finding Nan's body had segued into a notably professional objectivity.  True, he didn't know her well, but he had liked her and it seemed to him she deserved more than just being relegated to a statistic for the DA's bureau and HPD files.  Alternately, maybe by utilizing his skills as a cop and catching her killer would be the ultimate tribute to her.  That seemed a thin offering of condolence -- as inadequate as when he sent flowers to Denver for her funeral.  He hadn't even talked to her parents -- Steve had handled that while Dan had been asleep.

 

As the next traffic signal turned yellow he slowed, then realized he was supposed to turn right here.  Swerving at the last minute he wedged in just in front of a delivery truck.  Angled to make the turn, he blinked, cognizant he had just seen the flash of a green sedan making the same, last minute lane change he had just executed.  The same car that had followed him the other night?

 

Honking horns alerted him that the light changed and he drove slowly, checking his rearview mirror.  No green car.  Had he imagined it?  At a laggardly pace he took a complex route back to the Palace.  No suspicious sedans turned up again.  Irritated and unhappy, somewhat confused, he was grumpy when he arrived at the office.

 

The full staff was there now and Jenny and the other secretaries offered their condolences.  Sherman also handed him a few memos and reported Steve was over at the Capitol for a meeting with Manicote.  Thumbing through the messages he appraised them as he tossed them onto the desk then walked to Steve's office.

 

The latest updates for the case were on the table and he scanned the medical reports.  Nan's killer was type O-negative.  Someone strong enough to break her neck along with the strangulation.  The same MO as Lonnie's killer.  There had been no forensic evidence left on Lonnie's body, but Nan had struggled.  The killer was injured with fingernail scratches and they now knew the killer's blood type.  What was the link between the two completely unrelated people?

 

Chin Ho Kelly and Duke Lukela entered and Williams gave them a run down of the case.  Serial killers were nothing new to Five-0 and they started going over the similarities of the two cases, admitting the MO did not sound like something Five-0 had tackled before. 

 

The Oriental detective studied the board in deep thought.  "I agree with Steve," he finally reported in a quiet tone.  "The only connection I can see is you, Danny."

 

Lukela's frowning features confirmed he agreed with that assessment, to Williams' chagrin.  "Kanakili's last arrest was over two years ago.  HPD pulled him in on a theft charge.  Even that was a waste of time.  Turned out a rich haole woman on holiday from Miami claimed Lonnie stole her diamond ring.  Later that day she found it in her luggage and Lonnie was released."

 

"But we know him from somewhere," Chin insisted, staring at the photo of the deceased Kanakili.  "He's been here before, Bruddah.  I just don't remember why."

 

"Or when," Williams finished.  "So where does that leave us?"

 

"I'll check into some of our old cases," Kelly offered without enthusiasm.

 

Volunteering to try a new angle, Duke got on the phone to the computer specialist at HPD to run a check on the MO.  Chin went over the timetables with Dan, theorizing the killer had watched his victims and knew where to find them. 

 

Dan paced beside the open lanai doors, thinking.

 

From the corner of his eye he spotted a green sedan parked at the curb of the lawn in front of the palace.  THE green sedan?  Dan spun around and raced through the office, Chin following as the younger detective shouted out a terse explanation while running down the stairs and out the Palace.  Charging down the main driveway, Dan realized within seconds that the driver of the suspect car had spotted him and the sedan was making a Y-turn in the driveway and heading out toward King Street. 

 

Knowing he had no hope of catching a car on the move, Dan quickly reversed course to his nearby car.  Shouting to Chin his intentions, he jumped in his car and sped off, screeching out of the Palace grounds and onto King Street.  The green sedan was easy to spot -- careening through traffic with reckless maneuvers.  The car scraped at least one other vehicle and caused a truck to run off the road onto the sidewalk.

 

Swerving through traffic Williams grabbed the mic and called in to Dispatch.  "This is Williams, Five-0.  In pursuit of a late model green Chevy Malibu.  Heading Diamond Head on King Street.  Request intercepting units."

 

In the next block two cars swerved to avoid the green vehicle and crunched bumpers.  Danny swung over, half-onto the sidewalk to continue the pursuit, but the big Ford sedan would not fit in the narrow space.  The panic caused by the extreme maneuver was the deciding factor that made him screech to a halt.  Slamming out of the car he raced down the street on foot, but by the time he reached the corner the green car was no where in sight.

 

From out of nowhere Chin and Duke seemed to appear.  Lukela was speaking with someone at the curb and Chin met him as he breathlessly returned to the messy traffic tie-up.

 

"You think this green Chevy has something to do with the murders?"

 

"I don't know, Chin, but it seems like a coincidence that everytime I turn around this guy is following me."

 

Again he was struck with the word coincidence.  The green Chevy had come to his notice when?  When Nan was with him?  Did it have something to do with her?  Maybe they didn't look far enough or deep enough into her background.  What if there was a dark history on her side of the case?  That wouldn't explain Lonnie's death with the same MO.  Surely she wasn't connected to Lonnie.  And if this enigmatic shadow was because of Nan, then why was he following Dan after Nan was dead?  Clearly there were questions he should ask her parents, but interviewing grief-stricken relatives on the character of their violently murdered loved-one was a task he did not want to undertake right now.  His instincts told him this puzzle would be solved much closer to home.

 

After getting more descriptions and partial plate numbers from witnesses, Williams and Kelly returned to the Palace to run the information through the computer for DMV records.  Lukela went over to HPD to run the make, model and number for criminal wants or warrants.

 

Williams was on the phone in his office when a concerned McGarrett entered, staring at him with undisguised displeasure.  Hastily the younger man hung up and tried to forestall a lecture.

 

"I didn't cause the accident, Steve --"

 

"I know, Chin gave me the details."  His expression flickered from frustration to anxiety.  "I was more worried about you.  You're taking this pretty personal, Danno." 

 

"The guy is following me, Steve!  And he was tailing me, or Nan, before she was killed."

 

For a moment of silent contemplation McGarrett studied the passionate detective.  Slowly, he gave a nod.  "Then we -- as in the whole resources of this office -- will look into it, Danno.  Not you personally.  Not you alone.  Got that?"  He raised his eyebrows expecting a response and Danny obliged with a confirmation.  "Now, Chin says he's got a few possible hits on owners of green sedans.  Let's go look them over."

 

 

 

*****

 

 

Weary did not begin to describe Danny's condition as he dragged himself into the apartment.  Legwork, paperwork and no progress in either field of investigation -- the serial murders nor the Slick Sam case that had nearly been forgotten -- made for an intense, long and discouraging workday.  Added to that was the strain of the irregular meals, overdoses of coffee and overriding melancholy of Nan's murder.  He began removing his jacket and tie as he walked through the living room, unable to shake the sadness that pervaded him in the quiet moments when he had a chance to reflect on Nan.  As fatigued as he felt, depression could keep him up for hours and he tried to concentrate on practical matters.  There would be time enough to mourn Nan after he found her killer.

 

Focused entirely on getting a few hours sleep, he reached the door to the bedroom and stopped.  Gradually his muddled, debilitated mind sorted through instincts that were blearily demanding immediate attention.  Automatically slipping his right hand onto the revolver stock at his belt he turned slowly, back against the wall, alert for any danger.

 

Skin prickling with anticipation of some unseen, unknown threat, he examined every shadow, peered into every dark corner of the unlighted room.  Practiced eyes roamed the common scene of his living quarters as adrenaline raced through his system, washing away the fatigue and replacing it with the familiar edge of instinctive professionalism. 

 

What had alerted him?  A sound?  Something out of place?  The question revolved in his mind even as alerted senses scanned the kitchen, the living room, the small portion of the bedroom he could see from this vantage-point.  His mind finally registered the incongruity of the cool night trades brushing through his hair.  Glancing at the glass door to the lanai his heart leaped into his throat.  The door was open!

 

Someone was in his apartment.  Whoever it was did not make any noise.  Distantly he could hear the faint background sounds of the surf and the rustling palms.  His own breathing filled most of his audio senses.  Motionless for uncounted moments he felt confident enough to make a move.  He dashed over to the kitchen first, checking behind the counter to make sure the small room was empty.  With a deep breath he steeled himself to rush into the bedroom -- the most likely, most effective place for an intruder to hide.  In a few leaps he was through the door and against the wall, sweeping the small bed area with his revolver, seeing nothing.  A quick check of the closet, the bathroom, and under the bed revealed no one -- nothing out of place.  Too tense to believe it was over yet, he cautiously stalked back out toward the lanai, checking to make sure no one was lurking there.  Clear.

 

Back to the counter, he sat on one of the barstools and calmed his breathing and heartbeat.  After a few moments he felt confident enough to pick up the phone and dial HPD.  He was going to play this safe and smart.  Ordering a lab unit to come out and dust his apartment, he hung up and hesitated, wondering if he should call Steve.  Of course McGarrett would want to be in on this, but Williams felt guilty just thinking about bringing his friend out on a mundane break-in.  Instinct told him this was more than a simple B&E, but still not enough to disturb the head of Five-0.  Dan would get sour recriminations in the morning, but decided to handle this himself.

 

 

 

*****

 

 

Dusting for prints was left to the expert lab techs.  Danny defrayed his nerves by making coffee and double-checking the rooms for items stolen or misplaced.  He found no evidence that anyone else had been here, or of anything missing.  The latch on the lanai door, however, showed subtle signs of being jimmied, but it had been by a careful expert; hardly obvious to anyone but another professional. 

 

After the HPD team left Dan sat on his sofa, staring out at the dark ocean, trying to fit all the frustrating, confusing pieces of the last few strange days together.  No brilliant solutions or flashy inspiration struck and the next thing he knew the morning dawn sunlight was shining in his face.

 

 

*****

 

 

"You want to explain this?"

 

The crisp, strident command was quiet, but the edge to the tone unmistakable.  Prepared for the reproach, Dan looked up from the HPD report tossed onto his desk and stared into McGarrett's blazing blue eyes. 

 

"Someone broke into my apartment yesterday, but nothing was taken."

 

"And you didn't think that was important enough to tell me?"

 

There was a trace of wounded pride along with the stern censure and Williams instantly flushed with regret.  "Sorry, Steve.  I didn't think it was serious enough for two of us to lose sleep over."

 

Slipping into the cubicle, leaning over the desk, his face intent, McGarrett's expression reflected the overwhelming worry prevalent in the narrowed eyes and the strained voice.  "A dead body -- someone possibly connected to a Five-0 case -- is left in front of your condo," he ticked off on his fingers.  "The girl you were dating is murdered.  You've been followed, the perpetrator willing to hurt innocent people to elude capture.  And you didn't think this was important?"  Anger sizzled at the borders of the words.  Momentarily the ire lighted the eyes and expression.  Then, with a deep sigh, the tension eased.  Steve straightened and his taut shoulders relaxed slightly.  His face lost none of his fervor.  "I'm taking this very seriously, Danno.  Bet on it."  Shaking his head, he backed away slightly, then turned around again to stab a finger toward the younger detective.  "You are being targeted, Danno."

 

Williams didn't want to accept that disagreeable idea, but could offer no argument.  He rarely could since McGarrett was usually right about these things.  "I don't like to think that I am the cause of all this."

 

"Not the cause, Danno.  Someone else is the villain here, but you're in the eye of the hurricane and I'm not going to let anyone get any closer to you."  He stabbed the lab report that had been flung on the desk.  "Smudged prints.  The intruder probably wore gloves.  There was someone there."

 

"Why?  Nothing was taken or disturbed."

 

"You were.  It rattled you.  And me," he admitted with a rueful sigh.  "Whoever this is, he's stalking you, playing with you."

 

The thought chilled him and he shivered, feeling oppressed with the reality of the grim events.

 

"Someone has you in his sights and we're going to find out who."

 

Chin Ho knocked at the door and stepped in.  "We got something," he smiled with satisfaction and waved a piece of paper.  "Got three hits on that description of green sedans.  One is a guy named Al Malua who owns one.  Has a record.   HPD checked him out, he's not at home, but I just got his work address at a construction site out by Hawaii Kai."

 

McGarrett triumphantly took the slip of paper.  "Let's go, Danno."

 

 

*****

 

 

Glancing at the glistening water shimmering just past the houses, Williams momentarily felt a little disappointed in his chosen profession.  Most of his life he expected to -- wanted to -- be a cop.  There were times, however, like today, when it was a rough job.  Here they were spending a perfect day in a spectacular paradise, trying to find a monster that had killed an innocent, beautiful girl.  How many more tragedies would they witness, or be part of, before the nasty case could be closed?  There was comfort in the fact that they had the ability to catch such demons, but a certain moroseness that it was necessary at all.

 

"Don't worry, Danno, we're going to get this guy," McGarrett quietly assured, as if he could read the thoughts of the younger man.

 

"I hope so," Williams countered without much zeal.

 

Steve squeezed his shoulder in a silent pact that his words would come to pass.  That the head of Five-0 would accept nothing less than complete success from this case that had turned so personal.  The gesture and confidence encouraged the younger man and when they reached their destination his faith in his friend and himself was unshaken.

 

The building company was working on a large apartment complex at the base of the mountains behind the Koko Head harbor.  McGarrett spun the big Mercury through the rows of trucks and heavy equipment and parked at a trailer labeled :

 

FORMAN'S OFFICE

 

They walked in and proffered their badges for a secretary, who walked them into the next room where a cigar smoking, overweight man was leaning over a blueprint table.  About to protest the interruption, McGarrett forestalled the comments by again thrusting his badge into prominent sight.

 

"We're here to talk to one of your men.  Al Malua.  Where is he working?"

 

The foreman talked around the cigar.  "I got hundreds of men out here, mister.  Check with my secretary here.  What ya want with him anyway?"

 

"To talk," McGarrett replied curtly.

 

Nodding, taking in the measure of his guests, he shrugged.  "Just don't make a scene, will ya?  We got a deadline to meet around here."

 

"Thank you for your cooperation," McGarrett offered flatly and led the way to the reception area.

 

Malua specialized in concrete work and could be found on the far side of the site.  Given specific directions, McGarrett assured the secretary they could find their own way around.  They drove through the crowded, busy site on a dusty road clogged with equipment.  Near the end of the project they spotted the green sedan they were looking for.  Both checked it out, satisfied they had the right vehicle when they noted several scrapes and crudely-not-quite-repaired dents in the Chevy.  Wary, they asked one of the men where they could find Al Malua. 

 

The man whistled at a big local guy taking a break in the shade of the partially constructed complex.  The average looking, grimy man sauntered over.  Again the detectives identified themselves, showed badges, and asked the man to state his name and if he owned the green sedan. 

 

Admitting he was Al Malua and that the car was his, they asked if he had been driving his car in downtown Honolulu the day before.  Smugly, the man said he had not, that he stayed in a shared apartment in Kaimuki and only drove to work, to the liquor store, and home.  He had a lot of witnesses to back him up.  Even the leadman, who had chewed him out for taking too long a lunch break the day before, would vouch for him.

 

"Did anybody borrow your car yesterday?"

 

Malua shrugged.  "Hey, anybody could take it.  Don't use it all day."

 

During the interview they had attracted a lot of attention.  Not surprisingly, more and more workers gathered to observe their colleague being hassled by the cops.  Al would be a minor celebrity after this and probably get some free drinks after work, Danny reasoned.  Still, the crowd was making him a little nervous and he didn't know why. 

 

From the edge of his senses -- sight and sixth -- he saw something -- felt something and turned to the side.  A thin man, taller and more muscled than he was, shifted behind a big burley man in the shadows.  Wondering if it was the right thing to do, but suspicious of the furtive action, Williams moved to keep the man in sight.

 

"Is there a reason you don't want to be seen by the police?"  He commanded the man to come out.  Where the light was better.  "Come over here.  What's your name?"

 

Stepping into the sunlight, the dirty, sweaty, lean man with a mustache and longish hair stared at him with arresting, hard eyes.

 

"Lew Morgan.  I thought you might remember, Danny, but I guess not.  Funny, cause I still remember who you are."

 

Exhaling sharply, nearly forcing himself to breathe again, Williams was speechless.

 

"What are you doing here, Morgan?"  The voice just to the side and behind him was steady, solid-as-Diamond Head, authoritarian and the most comforting sound Dan had ever heard.  Smoothly, as if unexpectedly confronting a former-cop-turned-killer-parolee was the most normal thing in the world, McGarrett eased past Dan and stood face to face with Lew.  "I didn't know you were out."

 

The former policeman had been sent to prison for murdering his wife.  He stared at his old high school chum, his former colleague, with unblinking innocence.  "Good behavior."

 

"Your employers know your history?"

 

Morgan flicked a cold glare at McGarrett.  "Sure.  They don't care."  His focus returned to Williams.  "I'm a good worker.  Some people don't judge a man for old mistakes."  His voice became a frosted whisper of condemnation.  "They don't hold the past against me."

 

"Are you telling us you regret killing your wife?" { episode -- MOST LIKELY TO MURDER}

 

The incredulity was so blatant it snapped Morgan out of his cool facadé and he assessed the head of Five-0 with full attention.  "The parole board believed me.  I suppose it's too much to expect the great, magnificent Five-0 to forgive me."  He looked steadily at Williams.  "You made sure I paid."

 

"Five years?" Danny blurted, astonished, but beginning to regain his equilibrium.  "For killing Marge?  You call that paying your debt for first degree murder?"

 

Lew leaned close, coming eye to eye with Williams.  "I was charged with second degree murder, Danny, remember?"  Momentarily he threw a frosty glare at McGarrett.  "You and your big shot Five-0 buddies tried to destroy me.  But the jury gave me eight to ten.  Crime of passion.  Remember, I was a victim, too."  The words were slashing, vicious denunciations; as cutting as his malevolent eyes.  "The wronged husband of the cheating wife, remember?  Six years in that pit, but I survived.  The parole board found something worthy in me.  Time off for good behavior."

 

"The jury caved in to your persuasive charm, Lew."  Years-old contempt for Morgan and his ability to sweet-talk his way out of tight spots foaming out of Dan.  Unexpectedly, from some deep and submerged pockets of hidden wrath, Williams could not contain the disgust bubbling forth.  "They believed your lies.  You got off easy, just like you always did in school."  From the shadows of his history came furtive memories of Morgan's loose moral conduct, his shabby lack of respect, his contempt for justice.  "Just like you tried to do on the force, Lew, letting other officers cover for you.  Slipping on the wrong side of the law to make a dirty bust or cut corners on cases.  This was murder, Lew!  You killed your own wife!"

 

Morgan backed away slightly, assessing the shorter man with a neutral expression, his eyes shaded behind a mask of deception.  "The law says I have a right to be out.  But, I forgot.  Five-0 detectives are too good for the law, aren't they?" he flung back with icy, unruffled speculation.  "You run by your own code, isn't that right, Danny?  You talk to me about cutting corners?  When you belong to McGarrett's private club?"  He nearly spit at the sandy-haired man, and threw a vile glare at the head of Five-0.  "No commoners allowed, right McGarrett?  How can you stand to be in the presence of such a low-life as me?" 

 

McGarrett stepped between them and forced Morgan away from the crowd.  With a glance he assured Williams was behind him and they didn't stop until they reached the Mercury.

 

"Where were you yesterday afternoon, Morgan?"

 

Unbelievably placid again, Morgan stared down the taller detective.  "Here."  Control and cold nerve were back completely.  "Working all day."

 

"Witnesses?" Danny accused more than asked.

 

Unflappable, Lew continued to stare at McGarrett, not looking at his old friend.  "Ask away.  I'm sure guys saw me."

 

Dan could barely hold in his anger at being ignored, while at the same time being goaded.  The contempt and hatred was just under the surface of Lew Morgan, but it was so subtle and artful only those who knew him well could detect it.  The scorn was a shadowy film of repugnance on every word and expression and it hit Williams squarely in the face.  

 

Closing in on the suspect again, he aggressively demanded, "Did you take Malua's car into Honolulu yesterday?"

 

"I don't drive."

 

McGarrett ground his teeth.  "Where were you two nights ago?"

 

"I have a little room at a motel in Kaimuki."

 

"Anybody see you?"

 

"I'm sure you'll knock yourselves out trying to find someone.  Good old footwork."

 

Williams moved forward, not sure what he was going to do, but needing to do something.  McGarrett edged him out, swiftly moving in front of him to come close and toe-to-toe with Lew.  "We're going to make sure you have solid alibis, mister."  His eyes took on a dangerous glint.  "You fooled me once with an alibi that seemed honest, Morgan, but you won't do it this time.  If there's the slightest crack in your story you will be sorry you came up against me again."  He turned and grabbed his colleague by the shoulder, urging Danny toward the car. 

 

Morgan called out,

 

Williams spun around to respond, but McGarrett ushered him into the sedan.  As they drove away Steve glanced at his simmering friend. 

 

"You okay, Danno?"

 

Williams muttered some comments about the old investigation with Morgan.  McGarrett silently nodded his head at a few items and after Dan was finished, contemplated for a moment.

 

"He really got to you, Danno."  No verbal response.  "Guess he's had a lot of practice at that."

 

"Yeah.  I was always a push-over."

 

"You were a good friend," McGarrett corrected firmly.  "And Lew knew how to manipulate you."  "Old friends.  It's hard to deny their power.  You never put Morgan behind you."

 

"Maybe not," he admitted, a little surprised at the evaluation.

 

Studying his friend for a moment, McGarrett gave him a stern look.  "Don't let the past haunt you, Danno.  What happened with Lew was not your fault."

 

"I know.  It's just hard to forget, I guess."  Recalling suddenly, he gasped, everything falling into place.  "Margery's boyfriend!"

 

Startled, McGarrett sharply stared at Williams, put his eyes back on the road for a moment, and then glanced back.  "What?"

 

"Lonnie Kanakili came into our sights all right, Steve!  Interviewed him as a possible suspect in the murder of Margery Morgan six years ago!  Do you remember?"

 

"Yeah," Steve thoughtfully agreed.  "Yeah, boyfriend number one."

 

Shaking his head and sighing, Dan felt disturbed at the remembrance of the all too personal crime.  Margery, a high school friend who had married his pal Lew, had been murdered.  Through the course of the nasty investigation Five-0 discovered her policeman husband had killed her.  Dan's old buddy was a killer.  And not just of his wife, but of one of her boyfriends, too.  Kanakili had been a surviving boyfriend.

 

The bitter taste of that experience had diminished over time, but never disappeared.  How could he completely recover from being deceived and betrayed by a friend he had once been so close to? 

 

After high school Williams had gone on to college.  Dan returned to Honolulu after the university and had signed on with HPD.  Lew had drifted around in those years, never regaining his status of high school hero, then finally joined the police force in Danny's footsteps.  Williams' promotions were rapid and clean.  Morgan seemed mired in the loop of questionable arrests on his record and a few too many black marks for roughing up suspects.  When Williams attained the enviable appointment to Five-0 the old friendship really split.  Morgan insisted Five-0 was an elitist club, declared he and other HPD were lesser mortals, and the two chums' bond cooled considerably.

 

Looking back on the last twenty years of his life, Dan was amazed that the path he had taken seemed so easy.  Many times success had simply meant being at the right place at the right time: doing his job, doing what he felt was right.  Meeting and impressing McGarrett.  Joining Five-0. 

 

Most of his old colleagues at HPD had been happy for him, landing such a prime career advancement as a detective with Five-0.  It had disappointed him that Lew had been one of the sour officers that resented the promotion.  The rancor had never been anything too overt -- just a sharp, biting word here or there, a sniping comment about his new friend McGarrett, or how much time Five-0 took out of his social life.  What kind of a friend was jealous instead of happy for the professional move of a lifetime?

 

If he had been more perceptive and less blinded by past loyalties he probably would have seen through Lew's act back in 1970.  He might have been a better detective and figured out, as Steve had, that from the start Lew was a prime suspect in Margery's murder.

 

Trudging through his mental haze of misery, Williams realized his friend had been ominously silent for too long.  Looking at McGarrett, he saw a familiar, predator anticipation on the chiseled face.  "What, Steve?"

 

"Lew Morgan is on parole and his wife's first boyfriend is killed.  Are you saying Lew is connected to Lonnie's murder?"

 

Flustered now, Dan shook his head in bafflement.  "I -- I don't know."

 

"We suspect that whoever killed Kanakili killed Nan."  McGarrett pondered the complexities.  "We started out with two murders.  They've suddenly turned into something much graver.  A trail of revenge and death directed right at you, Danno."

 

"Me?"

 

"Yes, right at you," the older man stated firmly, his conviction growing with every sentence.  "Did you notice, Lew didn't even ask why we were there or what crime we were questioning him about?"

 

Desolate with turbulent, churning emotions; of past and recent heartaches, Dan acknowledged, "Yeah.  Because he already knows?"  He shook his head.  "Lonnie?  Revenge?  Okay.  You really think Lew could be the one following me?  To get back at me?  Revenge?  Then why kill Nan?"

 

"Because she was connected to you.  It makes sense, doesn't it, Danno?  Lew was certainly linked with Lonnie.  His wife's first -- first known -- boyfriend.  We know he's capable of anger, complex and premeditated murder.  Why not revenge?"

 

Williams gave a nod.  Six years ago the bit hustler Lonnie -- boyfriend-number-one for Margery Morgan -- had lucked out that Lew Morgan had found boyfriend-number-two first.   Otherwise the jealously outraged Lew could have killed Lonnie back then when he killed Margery.

 

"My instincts are telling me he's as guilty as sin.  He killed twice before that we know of.  Lonnie and Nan were killed by strangulation, just like Margery Morgan.  The green sedan following you is traced back to someone who works with Lew.  It all fits too well, Danno.  We can't discount this."  He took his eyes off the road long enough to stare at his friend for a moment.  "Don't neglect the power and potency of revenge.  He's had six years to simmer in anger.  Lew hated you when we put him away."

 

On the drive back to Honolulu, McGarrett reminded his colleague of Morgan's personality in those dark days of the murder investigation. There was a tremendous undercurrent of antipathy and resentment from Lew through the whole nasty inquiry.  He couldn't stand that Dan had moved on from high school.  Lew was a changeable personality -- premeditated planning; but fits of anger, instant hot rage, begging.  Lew tried to play them against each other -- Five-0 Vs patrolman/cop.  Many had tried that and it never worked with Danno.  Williams was loyal to the core and that was why he found it so hard to accept failure and betrayal in an old friend.  Lew hated Dan and Steve for not saving him, for not including him in the Five-0 club.

 

"Hated us," Dan corrected darkly.  "But enough to kill not only Lonnie, but an innocent stranger just for revenge?"

 

"Yeah."  Compassionately he studied his friend.  "He's capable."  Williams reluctantly nodded.  McGarrett knocked his knuckles on the steering wheel.  "All we have to do is prove it, Danno."

 

 

 

*****

 

 

After a nearly sleepless night Williams pulled into the Palace grounds before dawn the next day.  He went over the physical evidence from the crime scene of Nan's apartment.  They had traces of skin and blood from the killer.  Now they had a suspect to match it against.  Anxious to remain on the trail personally, Dan drove over to HPD and searched out the old case files kept in the basement.  The booking sheet form Lew's arrest was no help, so he went back even farther, to Morgan's police packet. O-negative blood.  Same type as Nan's killer. 

 

It made him sick to think his former, best high school buddy, was not just a wife killer, but a serial killer.  Why?  Dan had dabbled in psychology as a minor degree at the university, but this kind of criminal psychosis was beyond his comprehension.  Or perhaps the confusion was because this man-turned-monster had once been his friend?

 

He was acting like Lew really was the murderer. Steve believed it.  And Steve was usually right about most sixth sense impressions.  He had been so right about Lew -- suspicious of his supposedly solid alibi right from the start. 

 

On the way back to the Palace, Danny stopped to get some breakfast from the nearby popular King's restaurant.  He didn't have much of an appetite, but the good food would help balance out the gallons of coffee he figured he and McGarrett would consume before this case was over.  They were far from making a case against Morgan.  Aside from the coincidence of the blood type and the sedan, they had nothing except motive (Lew's hatred for Danny), and that was rather abstract.

 

Stepping out of the café he stopped cold when he saw the rear end of a green Chevy sedan pull out of the parking lot.  He raced to his car, threw the food on the seat and picked up the mic.  Before he said anything he stopped and took a breath.  What was he going to say?  That he spotted a suspicious car leaving the parking lot of a restaurant?  Was the stress making him nuts?  He threw the mic down and started the engine, racing out after the car.

 

Keenly aware of his past mistake in recklessly pursuing the car the last time, Dan stayed cautious.  Within two blocks the green sedan was lost to him.  Pulling to the nearest curb he leaned his head on the steering wheel.  What was he doing?  He was going to have to be a lot better cop than this to prove Lew Morgan was harassing him and had murdered Nan and Kanakili.

 

 

*****

 

 

McGarrett opened the styrofoam carton and grimaced at the King's Hawaiian bread toast mushed atop scrambled eggs and Portuguese sausage.  He wasn't usually a breakfast person, but when a pensive -- sullen -- Danno had brought in the treat, he couldn't refuse.

 

"Sorry," Williams sighed at his elbow and placed a steaming cup of coffee on the desk.  "I was a little careless when I thought I saw -- well -- I did see a green sedan pull out of King's."  He released another long sigh and rubbed fingers through his hair.  "This has got me rattled, Steve.  Guilty."

 

McGarrett pushed aside the food, leaned back in his chair and studied his friend.  Quietly, with firm determination and conviction, he reaffirmed that none of this was Dan's fault.  Lew was a user -- a loser.  He used Dan in high school, on the force, and when he murdered his wife.  Dan should remember he's too good a guy and shouldn't feel responsible for an old buddy gone wrong.  Lew was a loser and Dan tries to be the good guy all the time, giving the benefit of the doubt to someone who doesn't deserve it.

 

"If Lew did this, and we really don't know if he did, then he did it to get back at me.  That makes it my fault."

 

Unsure which issue to address first, McGarrett chose the factual data to start his defense.  "I read your note.  The blood type of Nan's killer matches Lew's."  The younger detective nodded.  "And if he is on a new wave of murders, which I think he is, he's the murderer Danno.  Nothing you have done or haven't done should cause you guilt."

 

Impelled by Williams' silence, Steve continued, recounting issues against Morgan. Steve reminded his colleague that he was livid when Lew killed Gary Oliver.  After all the work the police had done trying to catch Margery's killer, they were stunned, depressed, and worn out when they realized Lew was the murderer and had used the brotherhood all along to try and weasel out of prosecution of the crime. 

 

Steve suspected Lew from the start, but it was not easy for Dan to be convinced.  How could such a young and relatively innocent new cop like Williams believe his old pal was a murderer on two counts?  A murderer of his wife, both Danny's old friends.

 

Morgan's acting was first rate too.  He was manipulative, plotting, begging, and then, when cornered, prone to violent outbursts of anger at Dan.  When he was with McGarrett he mostly was cowed, pleading.  At the end he was calm and remote, saying they (the victims) deserved to be murdered.  Talent for prevarication served Morgan during the trial that didn't go as well as Steve hoped.  Lew conned his way down to two counts of second degree murder.

 

For the last six years he had simmered behind bars, smoldering with hatred.  Prison records showed a few early violent altercations with other inmates, but then a clean slate.  How would this type of psychotic person react to years in prison?  Steve reviewed the record and was not surprised he survived very well in custody.  Manipulating others.  Probably never got caught doing anything wrong.  Oh, and he was always smart too.  Cagey, survival smart.  When Morgan was released on bail for good behavior it should have been no surprise.

 

Why would Morgan turn to murder again? Revenge, of course.  Did he really think he could get away with hassling the second-in-command of Five-0? Not with McGarrett around.  Lew was stalking Danny like a pale shadow -- hardly seen -- never fully understood, but incredibly dangerous.  He had to be stopped.

 

"We're going to get him like we do every other criminal that comes into our sights, Danno.  Piece by piece the evidence will come in.  We'll link it together and nab him.  Trust me."

 

Williams simply nodded.

 

"I already put Chin and Duke on tailing Lew and his friend who owns the green sedan."  Pressing his lips together he studied his colleague.  "We'll get HPD to run the other owners of the green sedans just to make sure we've covered all our bases."

 

He hit the intercom button and requested the secretary to patch him through to Chin.  Kelly reported Lukela had followed the suspects from home to work, where he had taken over stakeout duty at the construction site.  Morgan and his pal Malua had arrived, in the green sedan, early that morning.  Morgan had been in and out of sight for hours.  The green Chevy was still parked in the employee lot.  McGarrett ordered to be notified if anything changed, then he signed off.

 

"He's got me jumping at shadows Steve."

 

"We'll get him Danno, don't worry.  Why don't you get with HPD about those other sedans, hmm?"

 

Shoulders slumped, Williams nodded, then silently turned and left.   McGarrett exhaled, buzzing his lips in frustrated irritation.  Had he jumped to a huge, ridiculous conclusion about Lew being guilty of trailing Danno, of killing Nan and Kanakili?  Was his suspicion based on his intense disgust of Morgan?  Everything he had told Danno about Morgan was true.  The man was a manipulative snake.  Did that make him a murderer?  There was no evidence to back him up, but like so many times before, he was basing his judgement -- and the resources of Five-0 -- on a gut instinct.  And just as he had so many times before, he knew he was right. 

 

 

 

*****

 

 

Trying to concentrate on some of his backlogged paperwork, Williams pushed his pencil around and stared at the files with unseeing eyes.  Meeting up with Lew the day before had been more disturbing than he had ever imagined.  Not that it had been something he thought about much.  Reliving the past was not a preoccupation.  On the few occasions he met up with old friends from his youth, like Kana Kulani, Lew's plight was commented on and the conversation moved on to more pleasant things. 

 

Dan had grown up, moved on and made a good life for himself.  He enjoyed mingling with old friends like Kana, but important to him now had become his more recent associations.  Like the bonds he had forged with Duke, and Chin and the man who was the closest friend he had ever had, Steve.  The parallel of the two friendships struck Dan with an incredible force.  No real comparison between the former friend Lew and the current friend McGarrett.   Steve was everything great and honorable.  Lew was a loser in every sense of the word.  Dan had been in the middle six years ago during the ugly investigation when terrible truths had been uncovered. But not now.  There was no middle ground, no more innocence.  He was no longer a young cop trying to retain a foothold in the past and the present.  The only place for him was at McGarrett's side.

 

 

*****

 

 

Just before noon McGarrett left for a lunch meeting with Manicote.  Williams had finally received DMV records of all the green Chevy sedans on Oahu and had two possible leads.  Two owners were ex-cons and had been arrested by Five-0.  It was a stretch, but in the absence of a slip-up by Morgan, they had to eliminate the negatives in order to concentrate on the one they thought to be the right suspect.  Grabbing his jacket, he headed out for Kahuku, where one of the cons worked at the Kuilima.  Then on the way back he might stop at Hawaii Kai just to talk to some of Morgan's co-workers, maybe get a lead from them.  As with the case six years ago, the key point in the investigation seemed to hinge on breaking Morgan's alibi.

 

 

*****

 

 

The ex-con working on the North Shore had a solid alibi for the murders.  The guy had a night job, was positively working all week, and his green Chevy was on jacks and under repair.  To Dan, that only meant the noose was closing tighter around Lew Morgan's neck.

 

It was nearly evening when Williams pulled his sedan next to Chin's LTD at the construction site.  "Have you been here all day?"

 

"Traded off with Charlie Kiule and Donny Chow.  Pretty quiet," Kelly admitted drowsily.  "Lew and Malua were on the far side of that second building last I checked.  They're pouring concrete in the back."

 

Emerging from his car, Dan shaded his eyes and studied the scene.  He could see various workers going about their business.  Everyone looked busy.  Morgan was not in sight, but Dan didn't worry about it.  He had seen Malua's green Chevy Malibu when he drove in.

 

"I'm going to talk to a few of the men, Chin."

 

Williams made his way through the partially constructed building and started chatting with a few of the workers.  Most were grudgingly cooperative and gave little information.  Morgan kept to himself, like most of the men, and liked to take a break away from the crowd.  He rarely stuck around and chatted with the rest of the crew.  Intrigued, Williams searched around and thought he saw Malua and Morgan at the back of another building.  He asked the man he was interviewing if Morgan or Malua had been there all day, but the man couldn't be sure. 

 

Strolling behind the main building, Dan managed to appreciate the spectacular view.  At the rear of an inlet to Koko Marina, this site would house a shopping center and a row of condos.  Backed against the mountains and fronted by the water, it was a magnificent place.  If you didn't mind being outside the city.  For work purposes he had to be closer to downtown Honolulu.  And he was happy with his beachfront apartment now anyway,  but it was something to think about for the future.  Maybe he would retire here.  By then, though, the whole bay would probably be covered in condos.

 

Fresh cement circled the back of the building and forms were set for more slabs for what looked like steps or walkways down to what would be a private dock area.  Malua and Morgan were at the far corner and as he approached, Malua looked up, his face suddenly blanching with alarm.  It was then that Williams realized the man standing next to Malua was not Lew Morgan, but someone who at a distance, was similar in build and attire.  Someone else entirely!

 

Dashing through the construction debris, Williams closed on Malua, who immediately took off running.  Bulky and out of shape, the big man tripped on some loose boards and slid down the slope toward the inlet.  Dan leaped down the hill and grabbed the man before he slipped into the water.

 

"Where's Morgan?"

 

Malua tried to struggle away, but the policeman held him in an unrelenting grasp.  "Ain't here!  Don't know where he goes!" the man blurted, yelling, shaking. 

 

He continued to try and distance himself from the angry officer, but Dan's intensity and volume increased as the man pulled away.   "Where is he?"

 

"Pays me and Ed to cover for him once in a while."

 

Danny tightened his hold on the man's shirt collar, closing off a portion of the much needed air for the gasping man.  "You let him use your car!"

 

"No, man, no," he wheezed, "he's got his own wheels.  Parks them at the back of the site.  He hops the fence and goes somewhere.  Then he comes back before quitting time."

 

Angry and frustrated at himself, Dan took a moment to catch his breath.  Lew had lied!  All along he had lied!  That was no surprise -- six years ago he had proven himself a liar and murderer.  What was sickening was that Dan had fallen for it.  Again.  Completely.  Lew lied about his alibis, about driving, about a car.

 

"Where is he now?"

 

"He never says, man!"

 

"Does he go back to the apartment?"

 

"No -- I think he has another place.  Or a girl, maybe.  He comes back sometimes wearing a nice shirt, not a work shirt."

 

Chin caught up to him and Williams ordered him to talk to this Ed character that was masquerading as Morgan and try and get some more answers.  Allowing Malua to get to his feet he got a description of Morgan's car -- a green Chevy Nova sedan.  Slightly different year and model than Malua's -- and crudely painted green to deceptively look like Al's car, Malua claimed.  So Morgan would appear to have an alibi when he really didn't.  It was cunning.  What he should have expected from Lew.

 

*****

 

 

Flying into the Five-0 offices, McGarrett felt a little irritated that all the staff had gone home.  There was nothing the secretaries could really do on a case like this, but he felt abandoned by the lack of moral support.  Gone were the days when Jenny shepherded them, loyally sticking around all night during a hot crisis.  Flinging open the door to his office he wondered how the years had raced by so quickly and yet he seemed to be standing still in time.  Faces and crimes changed, but Five-0 kept going at full speed.

 

For an infinitesimal moment a shadow, a sound, an indistinct aberration flared into his consciousness.  Instantly, however, pain exploded on the left side of his head and everything went black . . . .

 

Throbbing pain, horrible sound blurred his senses as he tried to open his eyes.  Rattled, everything was moving . . . . Someone was shaking him.  He tried to stop it, but couldn't.  His hands weren't working . . . .

 

Opening his eyes, squinting beyond the pain, the face of Lew Morgan slowly focused into clarity.  The expression was so evil it made him shiver.

 

"Hello, McGarrett."

 

Recoiling, Steve sucked in a breath.  On the floor, his shoulder pushed up against the side of the desk, his hands cuffed in front of him.  He was cornered.  No where to go.  And a madman was leaning over him with murder in his eyes.

 

"I wanted you to be awake, McGarrett.  To enjoy your last few minutes of life.  And know that I beat you!" 

 

Morgan punched him and the blow knocked him onto the floor.  Gasping for breath, reeling from the dizzying blow, he blinked away the grey mist just in time to avoid another blow.  Rolling away, he tried to get up on his knees, but Morgan tackled him, pushing his shoulders to the floor.

 

"I'm going to kill you, McGarrett!" Lew promised, his hands closing in on Steve's neck.

 

Lashing out like a tiger, McGarrett knocked away the hands and fought back with all his strength.  Morgan screamed out his hatred for Five-0, McGarrett and Williams. 

 

"You plotted against me all along!  You turned Danny against me!  I couldn't be part of your Five-0!  You turned Marge against me!"

 

Unable to focus enough to formulate a plan, constricted by his bound hands, Steve waged a mostly defensive battle, only occasionally striking an effective hit against his crazed opponent.  Survival instinct pushed him on when his physical abilities waned.  He knew he was fighting for his life with a man who was powered by the energy of madness.  They crashed into the lanai doors and Steve's vision misted to grey again.

 

 

 

*****

 

 

When he reached his sedan Williams ordered an APB on Lew Morgan and gave a description of both the fugitive and the car.  He also had the airport and harbors sealed in case the con was trying to get off the rock.  For some reason Dan didn't think that was Morgan's style.  Lew never admitted defeat.  Six years ago, even when he had been confronted by McGarrett with the summary of premeditated crimes, Morgan still would not admit guilt or failure.  Just that the victims had deserved their fate.

 

Then he patched through to the office and was disappointed that McGarrett was not in.  Frustrated and surprised that the boss was quitting work (although it was nearly sunset) before receiving reports on the day's activities, Dan climbed into the car and raced toward Honolulu.

 

Contacting Duke, who was in Pearl City checking on another green sedan, Williams asked him to start a search to find Lew's possible apartment.   Speeding past the back of Waikiki on the freeway, he patched to McGarrett's home phone, but received no answer.  He debated on whether he should go to police headquarters and participate in the computer record search, but decided his time was better spent at the Palace coordinating things until he located Steve.  Was the boss at dinner? 

 

As he reached the downtown area he tried to mentally place himself in Lew's twisted psyche.  What would be the next move for Lew?  His arrogance would not drive him away.  He had boldly, blatantly murdered people under Dan's nose.  What would he do now that he was pursued?  If he went back inside the slam he would never come out again.  What kind of desperate act would a psychotic killer do when cornered?

 

The black Mercury was in the usual parking slot when Williams pulled into the Palace lot.  So Steve must have gone out to grab food and returned.  Typical.  McGarrett wouldn't let go of a case --wouldn't go home -- unless he knew what was going on with his detectives and the investigation.

 

 

 

*****

 

 

The huge building was almost mystic in the darkness.  Old-fashioned Victorian styled outside lamps cast wavering glows through the etched glass windows of the Palace.  There were no lights on upstairs, but Dan knew the course well so he needed no illumination aside from the windows at the front and rear.  It did strike him as odd that McGarrett had apparently returned not long before him, but had not flipped on any of the lights.  Maybe the State Assessor was pressuring about the budget and Steve was conserving energy.

 

His lone footfalls echoed loudly in the empty halls and as he approached the Five-0 office wing he instinctively slowed.  Why?  His skin was tingling with anticipation -- a sixth sense of danger -- but that was ridiculous.  This was his home ground, what could be the danger here?

 

The front door was ajar and he pushed it open quietly, peering into the dim office area.  The desks were dark lumps; barely discernable shapes shaded beyond the blanched, gentle radiance cast through the windows.

 

The door to Steve's private office was half-open and Williams stepped in as soundlessly as he had traversed the outer area.  The desk lamp was the only light in the room and McGarrett's chair was turned around so the back faced the door.

 

"Steve?"

 

The lanai doors were closed and the room seemed humid and still.  Not knowing why, Dan held his breath as he crept forward.  This was familiar territory.  This was home.  Safety and ohana were words associated with this old building, this room.  Why were his flesh shivering and his nerves standing on end?  A faint, sibilate hiss of breathing could be heard and it sounded unnatural -- tight and strained.  When he stepped closer to the desk he heard the all too familiar click of the hammer of a gun being cocked back.

 

"Aloha, Danny"

 

It was a voice well known to him since high school.  Even through the cracked tension it was accustomed -- related to a pleasant, uncomplicated past.  An instant later reality returned with bitter comprehension reminding that the Lew he had known as a youth no longer existed.  Morgan had allowed a bitterness with life to transform him into a twisted monster.

 

"Where's Steve?"  Rising anger made his tone a harsh, unforgiving demand that masked the fear steeping under the surface.  "What have you done with him?"

 

As he voiced the dreaded inquiry he suddenly knew.  Since Morgan's release from prison he had been a focused killing machine.  Killing people connected to the old case of Margery's murder.  Killing people close to Dan and making sure he literally tripped over the bodies.  Of course Lew would come here.  To the center of his loathing against those who had caught him and imprisoned him six years before.  Of course he would come back to the core of power of Five-0 and finish off the two people he hated most.

 

"He's here," Morgan assured as he stepped out of the shadows at the side of the room, closer to the desk light.  His cracking voice and face, reflecting the strain of violence and rage contained within.  The police .38 in his hand was steadily trained at Williams.   "Waiting for you.  Waiting to die."

 

The revolver covering Williams, Morgan moved behind the desk and pushed the chair around.  A still McGarrett was slumped to the side, hands cuffed in front of him.

 

Dan stared at the figure, afraid to know the truth, but compelled to discover the agonizing actuality.  "He's alive?"

 

"For now."  Irate, he punched McGarrett's shoulder.  "I wanted him conscious so he could watch as I squeezed the life out of him.  So he would die knowing I was better than Five-0.  Better than you!  He will die knowing you -- his aikane, his pal -- couldn't stop the murder of the great Five-0 chief!  Don't you love the irony of it, Danny?  Old ousted cop, betrayed cop -- betrayed by all his friends and family -- I come back and take care of you all!" 

 

Terrified, Williams swallowed the knot in his throat and tried to appear normal and placid, tried to control his own rampant fear. 

 

"And after you watch me crush the life out of McGarrett then it's your turn, Danny, old chum.  You'll die last, because you are the worst of all!  The grand betrayer!"

 

Morgan rushed closer and pointed the shaking revolver in Dan's face.  Wanting to go for his gun, Williams restrained, knowing he had no chance with a .38 just inches from his nose.  As if reading his thoughts, Lew reached around and grabbed his holstered police special, placing it out of Dan's reach on the desk.

 

Remaining as motionless as possible, Dan forced himself to be calm and quiet and not react to the insanity.  Lew could easily kill him and Steve.  For now he had to play along and wait for an opportunity: For Steve to regain consciousness, or to surprise Lew, or to keep Lew off balance long enough for him to go for his second gun in the ankle holster.  Nerves taut, he played along by being passive, by not lashing out against the tormented lunatic that had once been his friend.

 

"You abandoned me when you joined Five-0!  You ignored me so you could be part of McGarrett's exclusive club!"  The anger escalated to screaming rage.  "Then to really make me suffer you had an affair with Margery!"

 

"You're crazy!"  That did it.  His own rage and dread exploded, lashing out at the lunacy of the deranged man.  "You're really nuts --"

 

Lew swiped the gun across his jaw and Dan staggered back.  Before he could make a motion to reach for his own revolver Morgan had the weapon pressed against his cheek.  "You deny --"

 

"We were all friends, Lew!  I would never cheat --"

 

Morgan grabbed him tightly by the collar.  "Behind my back you conspired with McGarrett!  Was he sleeping with Margery just like you were?"

 

"Lew!"

 

"You seduced my wife so she would turn against me!  You and McGarrett wanted me out of the way! You trapped me --"

 

"You are insane!"

 

"Margery must have slept with all of you!  She hated me!  And she knew how you betrayed me -- is that what you did, Danny, old pal?  Turn my own wife against me?  Because you were better than me?"

 

"You're out of your mind!"

 

Oblivious to any reason or denial, Morgan ranted on.  "You could have helped me, Danny, but you turned your back on me!"

 

"You murdered your wife, Lew!"  Even staring down the sights he could not restrain the truth that would not be denied.  "You murdered Nan -- a decent girl who helped people."

 

"She was part of your world, Danny.  She had to die."

 

In the dim light he thought he saw a movement in the chair behind the desk.  Was Steve really alive?  He had to keep Lew's attention.  Keep this mad man thinking about the anger instead of McGarrett.  It was an easy step to use his own rage and anxiety to goad the gunman.  "You couldn't handle life after high school, Lew!  You were a sloppy cop and a bad husband and you threw away --"

 

Morgan slugged him again, this time driving him to his knees.  Catching his breath, Dan regretted losing his temper, but Morgan was out of control.  Like a wild animal.  At the same instant they both heard the creak of a metal spring.  Both turned to see McGarrett leaning forward, trying to quietly come out of the chair. 

 

"Liar," Steve condemned in a broken hiss.  "You're blaming us for your failures, Morgan."  He leaned heavily on the desk, his face ashen, blood dripping in a thin line down from his hairline to his cheek.  "But you're the failure."

 

Morgan spun around raising the gun,  Dan threw himself against the con both of them skidding into the desk, fighting for the revolver.  Savagely punching and twisting across the floor they lost the weapon and the revolver bounced to the wood slats.  McGarrett stumbled toward it.  Morgan raced after it and reached it first.  Dan grabbed for the .22 pistol secured in an ankle holster.  Morgan coiled around to aim at McGarrett and Dan fired.  Lew jerked as two more bullets plowed into him, flinging him onto his back.

 

Scrambling over on his knees, Williams kept his gun trained on the man.  Blood spread across Morgan's chest.  Momentarily frozen in place, Dan kept his aim on the con as McGarrett, clumsy with hands cuffed, took possession of the .38.

 

"Danno?  You okay?"

 

 Williams finally took a deep breath, then moved over to a dazed McGarrett, who had blood trickling down his face, and took hold of his arm. 

 

"Yeah.  He's pau," Dan sighed.   It's over."  He stared at Steve for a moment, stunned, overwhelmed with gratitude and relief.  “Yeah.  How about you?  Did he hurt you?”  Dan fumbled in his pocket for keys to the cuffs.  After several inept attempts to unlock the bands with trembling hands he finally managed to free one of McGarrett’s wrists.

 

Taking possession of the keys, McGarrett finished opening the other cuff.  “I think I’m in better shape than you.”

 

“No, I’m okay.”

 

While his mind processed the truth; sight verified that it was undeniable, Danny shifted slowly out of shock into functionality.  The terror, the fear, the pain was gradually ebbing away, but there was still so much to register.  His former friend had turned into a beast -- a murdering, vile fiend -- that he had just killed.  Of all the emotions swirling inside, he identified the anger, the desperation to save McGarrett and himself, the revulsion that someone he knew had killed people in an effort to exact revenge against him.  What he did not find inside was any regret or shame surfacing through the shock.  The obscene shadow of vengeance had stalked him and he had eliminated the threat.  To consider Lew Morgan in any other light was to diminish the relief of his and Steve's safety. 

 

An old friend dead, a newer friend alive.  Yet it did not seem like a victory.  Just a necessary duty.  One that he would never regret, but one that he could not find any pride in.

 

Realizing he was shaking, he took a few deep breaths and ignored McGarrett's urgings to sit and rest.  Instead, Dan insisted that Steve take a seat in the outer room while he called for an ambulance and some HPD officers.  In fact, now that he focused on his boss, he saw the taller man was even more unsteady than he felt.

 

Taking charge, since McGarrett was not following his advice either, he walked toward the door.  "You got a nasty hit on the head, Steve.  You better sit down while I make some calls."  He didn't want to stay in the office.  Not with the body.  "You need to see a doc."

 

McGarrett slumped into Jenny's chair at the reception area and watched silently as Williams issued orders for medical assistance, a coroner, and police crime teams.  As he talked, several times Dan stretched over to stand in the doorway and gaze at the inert form, as if suspecting it might jump up and take them by surprise.

 

"I think you need to take a break, Danno."

 

Coming back to hang up the phone, Williams sat on the edge of the desk and stared at his friend. "I know.  I just feel -- I don't know what I feel.  The rage, the relief --" he took a deep breath and hung his head on his chest and closed his eyes.  He had been justified in his actions, he had saved Steve's life and his own.  Why didn't he feel better?  "I can't explain it."

 

"You don't have to," McGarrett quietly assured, patting Dan's arm.

 

Looking up, Dan studied his battered friend.  Being injured in the line of duty was nothing new for Steve, but this time it had been through revenge aimed at Dan.  That didn't make this any easier.   Seeing his friend alive, however, made it all worth it.

 

From some deep, irrepressible core, Danny found a trace of assuagement and wearily tried to grin.  "Thanks."  No explanation needed for friendship.  Real friendship.  Not the kind of twisted, unbalanced, immature relationship he had shared with Lew.  But a true bond with a matched brother -- an equal -- at least a friend who treated him as an equal. 

 

 

*****

 

 

The knock at the door surprised him.  It was sunset and Dan had been leaning on his lanai railing watching the gold light of the descending sun play on the undulating waves.  Standing there alone he was trying to forget, wishing the cool, calming water could wash away the inner aches still lingering, and the physical pains left over from the fight.  He wasn't expecting anyone, and for the entire day had avoided any contact.  It didn't take much of a detective, however, to guess who might be dropping by.

 

Walking inside he felt confident in his assessment.  Yesterday had been an emotionally upsetting day.  Steve had been in the hospital for the morning, catching up on sleep and being evaluated for the slight concussion received in the assault.  Williams had waded through the necessary reports after a fatal shooting, worked around the repair people in and out of McGarrett's office, dealt with the media and the DA's office.

 

When Steve released himself from the hospital he had ordered Dan to take a day off.  So Williams, under vociferous, but unsuccessful protest, had stayed away from the office.  It had been meant as a recuperation, and though he had resented it at first, he realized that Steve was right, as usual.  He needed time to readjust to the terrible events of the last few days.  To come to terms with the guilt at having been the center of revenge that had cost lives -- of nearly being the cause of Steve's death.  Now, at the end of the day, he was ready to face life again.  And glad that he had a good friend to share that with.

 

Hiding the smile he felt, he opened the door, not at all surprised to see McGarrett standing there with bags of Chinese take out.

 

"Delivery without the order, that's progress."

 

"I was reading your mind," Steve grinned and walked in.

 

Silently musing that ESP seemed to be part of Steve's usual MO, he just shook his head and closed the door.  He went to the fridge to get cold drinks and McGarrett placed the food on the counter.  When Dan turned around McGarrett had moved into the living room and was pacing around some open boxes.

 

Self consciously, Dan felt compelled to explain, but refrained from comment.  It was obvious what he was doing and as any good mind reader would, Steve had already figured it out.

 

"This was a big thing, bruddah," the older cop sighed.  He fingered a trophy stuffed into a box with some certificates and an old baseball cap.  "It's going to take some time for you to heal."

 

"Yeah."  Giving away old trinkets from his past would get them out of sight.  He could redecorate and wipe the sharpest memories out of the apartment.   Closing the boxes and heaving them out of his life would take away the physical reminders.  "Memories fade."

 

Steve ambled back to the bar and leaned on the counter.  "You had no choice, Danno.  You had to kill him." 

 

"Yeah.  I know."  There was still no regret over that.  The DA and HPD had ruled it justified action in the line of duty.  Morgan was a dangerous criminal.  His shooting had saved McGarrett.  "Just takes time."

 

"And I thank you for saving my life."

 

"It was my fault you were at risk in the first place."

 

"Not your fault, Danno.  You were as much a victim of Morgan's insanity as any of those he murdered.   You had to destroy him to save yourself.  And me.  Mahalo."

 

Part of Lew Morgan would always be with him.  Eventually, though, even the worst of those memories would fade, too.  The forgiveness -- that would take longer.  Lew had murdered to get back at him.  Morgan had tried to kill Steve and him.  That he would never forget.  The old, unworthy comrade had nearly destroyed the more recent, cherished associate.  At least Dan had been able to make a difference when it counted most and saved the most valued friend.

 

 

PAU

 

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