SKELETONS IN THE CLOSET
A debate started as they left the crime scene at Fort Street Mall. The intense commentary by Steve McGarrett continued in the car as he drove, with his second-in-command, back to the Palace. Refusing to give up or give in, Dan Williams tenaciously held his ground in the running dialog as they jogged up the koa steps of the old Royal residence.
"Come on, Steve, you've got to try it. It's such a charge --"
"Yeah, I'll bet." The sarcasm dripped as heavily as the humidity on the steaming August day. "Danno, we risk our lives every day in the line of duty. This fascination with risking death off duty -- I just don't get it. And I don't like my second-in-command risking his neck on a sport!"
They rounded the top steps and briskly coursed the floor toward the Five-0 offices. Williams nearly trotting to keep up with the long-legged, taller boss. "And you won't till you try it, Steve. Come on. If you come tomorrow I'll take you somewhere easy."
"Both of us take Saturday off?" McGarrett dashed a glance at the younger officer. "Some place safe instead of where?" his tone wary. "Or am I gonna want to know?"
The fair-faced Williams blushed. "I was originally planning on going to the shark pit up up by Sunset. And it's not as bad as it sounds, Steve, really." They walked into the reception room of the police headquarters. "Come on, you'll love surfing, I promise."
They sailed past two gentlemen sitting in the small waiting area. McGarrett reached Jenny's desk and stopped, aware that the two strangers -- athletically built men in dark, sober business suits, hair shaved in crew cuts -- trailed after him.
"Any messages?" he asked the secretary, but focused on the two men.
Jenny Sherman had just transferred over from the Governor's office to replace McGarrett's long-time secretary May. Miss Sherman seemed to fit right in, handing her boss the memos and ignoring the visitors who were edging their way toward the boss.
"Mr. McGarrett, do you have a moment?"
The head of the crime unit surrendered a smirk. "For the US government? Sure, anytime, fellas." He nodded toward his private office. "Go ahead."
The taller one, about the same height as McGarrett, stared at Williams. "We'd like to talk to Mr. Williams, too."
The detectives exchanged surprised glances and McGarrett scrutinized the newcomers with more attention, giving them a nod. "Okay. What about the other detectives?"
"No, just Williams."
Intrigued, the officers led the way in and McGarrett closed the door behind them. Taking his time to reach the chair behind the desk, he studied the agents -- certainly they were government officers, no one else looked and dressed like THAT in Hawaii -- and pondered their mysterious and unexpected request. Standing behind his center of power, gesturing for the two men to sit in the chairs. Williams stood over by the ship model just behind and to the side of the visitors. It was a familiar site, a position where he could observe the guests and exchange subtle glances with the boss.
"So what can I do for the -- uh, CIA?"
The taller spokesman gave a nod to the silent companion and both withdrew ID badges from their jackets as if in a choreographed dance movement. McGarrett leaned forward and his eyebrows raised as he read the identification. He scrutinized the men. "NSA. What does the National Security Agency want with Five-0, Agent Kelso?"
The spokesman replaced his badge. "We have an operation coming up here in Hawaii next week, Mr. McGarrett. We would like your help." He turned to stare at Williams. "Specifically, the help of your officer, Detective Williams."
Dan's eyes widened with surprise. "What?"
Kelso explained that a group of scientists from a think tank on the mainland were coming to Hawaii for a retreat. One of these scientists was suspected of being a double-agent. Of the three prime suspects, one was a Doctor Sydney Latimer.
Williams' surprise escalated. "Syd Latimer?" He looked to McGarrett. "My old roommate from Berkley. He's with a think tank now? Yeah, he was a real brain with physics." He shook his head. "Syd a traitor?"
"He's a suspect," Kelso corrected cryptically and turned back to McGarrett. "We'd like Five-0 to help supplement security for the week. In reality, we'd like Detective Williams to renew his acquaintance with Latimer and discover if he is the double-agent. There will be NSA staff shuffled in with the domestics and we'll be keeping an eye on the other two suspects. If that meets with your approval?"
The Five-0 leader was skeptical. "What about a little more information before I make any decisions?"
With a negative shake of his head Kelso denied the request. "I can't tell you anything else until you're cleared."
With a growl McGarrett reminded he was a Commander in the Naval Reserve and held a Top-Top Secret clearance. The government agent informed that the think tank was involved in the highest level of black operations. No one at the retreat -- even the maids and dishwashers -- would have anything less than a Top Secret level. Security -- including Five-0 -- would need a Shadow Clearance, the highest level sanctioned by the NSA -- at least the highest they could say aloud.
Unhappy with the secrecy, and slightly insulted, McGarrett ruminated. He hated the cloak and dagger dealings with the government. On the other hand this was a pretty simple, inoffensive assignment and cooperation now might mean some favors and cooperation from Washington in the future.
McGarrett looked at Williams and shrugged. "I don't like the idea of being without my second-in-command for a week. You'll have to make a note of this interagency cooperation."
Kelso smirked. "I'll make it a full page commendation for both of you in your files in Washington."
McGarrett wasn't through with his conditions yet. "And if something big comes up I might have to pull him out. What do you think, Danno?"
"What, a week of sun and surf and hanging out with an old pal?" Williams smiled. "I think I can handle it."
Shaking his head in amusement, McGarrett agreed to the assignment.
The following Monday the phone was ringing when McGarrett unlocked the office doors. He grabbed the nearest phone, wondering what kind of emergency was brewing so early in the morning.
"Mr. McGarrett, this is Agent Kelso."
"What can I do for you, agent? Ready to meet with the details of the project?"
"I'll be in Honolulu in three days to go over the final arrangements. Your Shadow Clearance is through and I would like your cooperation at that time, but there's an unfortunate modification to our original plan. You'll have to select an alternate officer for the security besides Detective Williams."
Instantly wary, McGarrett's voice was tight. "Why?"
"He can't get any clearance at all. In fact, McGarrett, as far as government standard security, he's a risk. As a favor, I'll tell you if your unit handles many government projects or sensitive state projects, you might want to jettison Williams from your team. Certainly from the second-in-command slot. He's a pariah."
Stunned, McGarrett stared at the phone for a moment. "What are you talking about? What do you mean he couldn't get clearance?"
"I'm just doing you a favor --"
"What is the problem? He's an exemplary officer --"
"Sure, as a cop he's got a good record. As long as he sticks with the cop stuff he'll have no problems. But from now on if you want in on any government exchange operations you'll have to make sure the kid is not involved. Now you have to pick --"
"Why didn't he pass the security check?" McGarrett snapped, sharply cutting through the babble.
"I can't tell you that."
"This is my officer --"
"All I can say is that he's a security risk, McGarrett. Submit another name --"
"I'm not doing anything until you level with me, Kelso." McGarrett struggled to mentally regroup, still incredulous that the all-American kid Williams had failed the security check. This shocking turn of events was completely unexpected and unimaginable. "He's a Coast Guard vet, he needed a security rating for that! And I'm sure he's done nothing since then to be denied clearance!"
"The Coast Guard gave him a level two confidential clearance." His snort was derisive, as if such a paltry level was beneath his consideration. "They just didn't have the resources I have to go deeper."
A chill of dread tightened McGarrett's throat. "What does that mean?"
"No need to know, McGarrett."
"Anything concerning my officer is something I need to know! Now tell me what's going on!" he demanded.
"Think it over, McGarrett. I'll call you back at the end of the day, Washington time." The click on the other end signified the termination of the conversation.
Enraged, McGarrett slammed down the receiver and stalked into his office. Pacing, he opened the blinds with abrupt, angry motions and was unable to settle down. He grabbed the phone and dialed Williams' number. No answer. Glancing at the clock, he saw it was ten minutes to eight. Slamming the phone down he paced some more. Danno would be here in a few minutes and they could get to the bottom of this. Unable to wait that long he went out to the main office and started rummaging through the file cabinets looking for the personnel files.
"Hey, boss, we just replaced May. You doing Jenny's job now?" McGarrett didn't turn around at the cheerful greeting by Chin Ho Kelly. The Asian detective placed a plate of sliced sweet Hawaiian bread on the coffee stand. "Mai fixed us some snacks." He joined the intent boss. "What you looking for?"
About to respond, McGarrett held his tongue. What kind of skeleton did the government find in Danno's closet? How damaging could it be? Until he knew the answers to those questions he wasn't going to say anything to the rest of the staff. He pulled a thick folder from the files and slammed the metal drawer shut.
"Just something I needed to clear up. You finished with the Wailoa robbery report yet?"
"Okay, why don't you finish that? Tell Kono to go over the HPD updates for the weekend. When Danno gets in tell him I want to see him. Staff meeting at nine."
Before him was the personnel packet he had compiled in '68 when he was considering Williams as an addition to the Five-0 unit. As McGarrett thumbed through the standard reports, questionnaires, and reviews covering the life of Officer Daniel James Williams.
McGarrett was once more impressed by his intuitive decision to add the young HPD sharpshooter to the team a little over a year before. The history of Williams was one any officer would be proud of; citations for bravery, glowing commendations from superiors, superlative scores on tests, most notably on the shooting range. Digging farther back -- Dan's college assessments were above average, if not brilliant. His stint in the Coast Guard was reviewed briefly with high marks for initiative, sharpshooting (though never needed in the line of duty) and representing his branch of the service -- and winning -- a shooting competition. Even as far back as a high school student, Williams was an average student, in trouble a few items with the principle for some harmless pranks, but there was nothing sinister in his background.
Pounding the file with a fist, a growl McGarrett echoed in the back of his throat. There had been so much opposition almost eighteen months ago when he chose Williams to join Five-0. More resentment and dissention just a year ago when he announced Danno as his second-in-command. Now there was a supposed black mark against the officer and McGarrett was going to find out if it was just government spooks playing games, or if there was really a serious, haunting skeleton in the young man's past. Staring at the black and white picture of the unbelievably young-looking Danny in an HPD uniform when he joined the force, McGarrett could not believe anything was amiss in his history. Danno had performed with exceptional merit in HPD and Five-0. More than that, McGarrett trusted him and considered him a friend -- a label he issued to only a few in his acquaintance. That made him determined to get to the bottom of this and clear Danno's name.
A knock at the door preceded Williams stepping in, slightly favoring his left leg. McGarrett studied the unwieldy gait and the ungraceful way the young officer moved across the room.
"Surfing at the shark pit?" McGarrett barked sharply.
Danny winced, not entirely from his leg bumping into a chair. Face twitching with discomfort he shrugged and tried to make it appear casual. "A little wipeout." He strove for nonchalant. "No big thing, bruddah." Edging closer, he leaned on the desk. "What's up?"
"I got a call from Agent Kelso. You failed the security clearance, Danno. And I want to know why."
The information was less shocking than the cutting tone and Williams paled, shaking his head, at a loss for words.
Crisply relating the facts, McGarrett gestured to the personnel packet and admitted he was scrutinizing the history, but found nothing in the officer's past to indicate a security risk. Nothing had come up in any form for the Coast Guard, HPD or Five-0 background checks. So the government obviously went deeper, or found some incriminating evidence that was not available even to Five-0.
Clearing his throat, Danny's voice was tight and low. Staring at the floor, he drew in a breath. "What are you going to do?"
"Do? We're going to find out what they've got!" McGarrett's glare must have sizzled like his temper because his subordinate winced.
"Yeah. What did you think? It's your history! You're going to help figure it out." The stunned expression on the younger officer gave him pause.
Stuttering, speechless, Dan shook his head. "I - uh -- I thought -- aren't you going to fire me?"
The blistering anger subsided momentarily and McGarrett glimpsed a vision of the inner turmoil of his officer. He stopped his tsunami assault long enough to realize that his sensitive and occasionally self-doubting officer was in a completely different mind-set from him. Steve was livid that the government had wrongly accused his hand-picked second-in-command of -- well -- of being unworthy of the highest possible trust. The slight was a reflection on Five-0, on McGarrett's decision to hire the kid, on Danno -- and yes -- on McGarrett. Surprised, Steve now realized the anger and rejection were being taken personally by Williams.
"Fire you?" The shout actually made the younger man flinch. McGarrett took a breath and lowered his voice. "You think you're going to get a few days off while I do all the work?" The sly tone caught the attention of Williams and he glanced up hopefully. "You're gonna get to work, bruddah, and clear your reputation. Kelso is calling back later this afternoon and I want some ammunition to throw at him by then."
The dawning hope, the relief on Dan's face, made McGarrett feel a little guilty. As usual, he had been so focused on his unit, his reputation; he had overlooked what this news might mean to Williams subjectively. Tact and public relations were not his bag, but McGarrett could summon considerable charm when necessary.
To reassure his officer he offered a smile and walked around the desk to place a hand on Danny's shoulder, noting his officer cringed at the touch. "I wouldn't want you to miss a week at the beach, Danno, so let's get this cleared up, shall we?" Just to give the kid a bit of what he deserved Steve patted him, lightly. Williams cringed again. "Just a little wipeout, huh? Well, there's no time for a sick day now."
"Thanks, Steve. Where do we start?"
McGarrett picked up the personnel file and handed the thick folder to his friend. "Check this out, just to make sure, but I don't think we'll find it in here. Meanwhile, I'm going to make a few calls."
Williams' expression was knowingly amused. "Your own security network?"
"Exactly." McGarrett walked with him to the door. "Staff meeting at nine. We have Five-0 work that we can't forget. What was on your schedule for today?" Before he could answer McGarrett waved it aside. "Never mind, give it to Kono. I want you working on this until we get it done."
With a nod Williams turned to open the door, then turned back. "Thanks, Steve. For sticking in my corner. Not everybody would do that."
Thinking back, he recollected what had happened a few months ago. A would-be assassin had pelted him with three bullets. McGarrett had heard that one officer went to the wall for him on that occasion. Bucking the politicians and the overwhelming resistance over his performance, experience and youth, Danno had fought like a tiger to solve the mystery of who shot McGarrett. Williams saved Five-0's reputation and worked to keep the helpless boss safe from another attack. Not everybody would do that.
His response was simple. "I'm not everybody."
Grinning, Williams slipped out the door. "That's for sure."
The first call placed was to the person most likely to help, but not in the best position to obtain the information required. Still, Steve called Napoleon Solo of UNCLE in New York. Solo and McGarrett went back to the Korean War together and both had dabbled in intelligence ever since. Solo had remained in the espionage community with his rise in the international law enforcement agency of UNCLE. Solo was guarded about the security clearance failure, but admitted he had few friendly contacts in NSA and promised to find something as soon as possible.
Steve rubbed his left ring finger. He wore no Naval Academy class ring. Neither did Oscar Goldman, Jonathan Hart or Napoleon Solo. Those prized symbols of rank and achievement had been stolen by the Koreans when they were captured in Manchuria. (*SOME WARS NEVER END) By mutual consent the former NI officers never replaced their rings. It was a continuing reminder of what they had lost in their war.
The next call was likely to be more useful, but more difficult. Another old friend from Korea and NI, Oscar Goldman, was now the head of the powerful DC based Office of Scientific Intelligence. Less willing to grant old favors or interfere with other agencies, Oscar nonetheless appreciated the predicament and agreed to see what he could do. The NSA, however, were the bad boys of the government intelligence corps, the main dirty tricks department and the leaders of the black ops. This would not be easy.
With nowhere else to investigate for the moment McGarrett pushed aside the intrigue to focus on the nine o'clock meeting. Kono reviewed the HPD reports and there was little in them to distract the attention of Five-0. Chin turned in his report on a recent robbery and said he had an idea about the likely perpetrator. He wanted to check on a known felon who had recently been released from prison and asked Kono's help, which McGarrett okayed.
"Now, something's come up, gentlemen, that Danno and I will be working on." Williams flinched. Steve took a breath, then plunged ahead. "The government wants to include us on some hush-hush project, but they're not giving a clearance to Danno and we're going to find out why."
He didn't expect any prejudice from the others; they were a tight team and this kind of slap in the face tended to pull them together rather than apart. Everybody in the office liked Williams and as predicted his men rallied behind the youngest man.
"Doesn't sound like such a big deal to me," Kono shrugged.
Chin laughed. "So what you do this time, Danny, bring an admiral's daughter home late again?"
The unquestioned loyalty of the group was so predictable it made McGarrett grin for an instant. There was no resentment toward the younger kid who had come in and after only several months been promoted over the other detectives. The generosity exemplified their family feeling among the team, the high caliber of men, the high esteem afforded Williams.
"I hope it's that simple," Danny sighed.
Chin gestured to the door. "Then me and Kono'll be on our way." To Williams he gave a smile. "Everything will turn out okay, I'm sure, Danny."
"Good luck, bruddah," Kono waved and followed the other detective out.
Turning his attention to the boss, Danny sighed. "So what do we do now?"
"Any glimmer of an idea from your personnel reports?"
Williams shrugged. "Nah. They all seem straight. I couldn't see any flaws. What do you think it could be?"
With a sneer Steve admitted he had no idea. With government spooks involved it would be hard to guess. So they had to focus on facts. He suggested Williams make a few discrete phone calls to his HPD friends and see if anyone had been checking up on him. McGarrett would try some more old intelligence contacts, but he was certain the answers were swirling around Williams and not some mystery on the other side of the country. Something in Danno's past was blocking him from a clearance of any kind. That meant something very serious.
Retreating to his own office, Williams left. Sometime later Jenny came in with a sandwich and coffee for the boss. Startled, McGarrett was amazed it was after noon. The phone rang and Jenny took it at his desk, pushing the hold button.
"A Mr. Solo for you, boss."
"I'll take it." He swallowed a mouthful of food. "Hi, Napoleon."
"Steve, it's been a slow morning for UNCLE fortunately, for you. I've got a little bit of information but I don't know where it's going."
"The NSA background check was sailing smooth until they hit something about Danny's family. What do you know about them?"
"His parents were killed in the attack on Pearl. His uncle was a cop here in Honolulu. He retired. He died a few years back. Why?"
"I don't know. Can't get anything more specific right now. Funny coincidence, though. Something in Danny's file triggered an old memory of mine so I've been doing some family research."
"Yeah, and mine," came a surprised laugh. "There's a connection."
Napoleon reported that during World War Two his father, Commander Nelson Solo, was involved with NI. Spying was in the blood. Paternal grandfather Wellington Solo was in Naval Intelligence in the two world wars. His maternal grandparents were diplomats -- spies -- Douglas and Emily Thornton. They were friends with Jonathan and Clara Williams, diplomats serving in London. Jonathan Williams -- older brother to James and, Daniel Williams -- Danny's dad -- and Danny's uncle, James. Daniel Williams and his wife Sarah frequently traveled and often left Danny with the youngest brother, James, back in Honolulu.
McGarrett was at first impatient, wondering what the coincidental, interesting, though superfluous information had to do with the current investigation. Then his mind started working on the puzzle even as he heard the rest of the story.
Daniel and Sarah Williams were government employees, receiving checks from the War Department. Their travels took them abroad frequently. Napoleon, who as a boy spent time in London with his grandparents, thought he might have even met them on several occasions. Pleasant, unassuming people, Daniel and Sarah Williams were very Aryan with their wavy blond hair and blue eyes. Solo remembered Jonathan and Clara Williams more clearly since they were all stationed in England during most of the war and had shared some intense times in bomb shelters together during the London bombings.
"I even think I might have talked to Daniel and Sarah about their little boy in Hawaii. It seemed pretty exciting to me to dream about a tropical paradise while I was stuck in bomb torn foggy London. I never made the connection before, Steve, isn't this amazing?"
"Yeah, amazing. What I'm wondering, Napoleon, is where you're finding all this information."
Solo cleared his throat. "Well, Steve, like I said they worked for the War Department. Daniel and his brother Jonathan and their wives. Now, back in those days that could mean anything from working as file clerks to something more sinister. Are you sitting down? They could have been in MY family's business -- they might have been spies!"
McGarrett nearly choked. "Oh, Napoleon, come on!"
"I'm just sketching the background for you, Steve. Hopefully we'll color it in with some facts, but it will take time." He reminded McGarrett that his family, on both sides, consisted of covert agents. "It's not much of a stretch to guess that the Williams family could have been serving their country in just the same way. That would account for the extensive travel of Daniel and Sarah. They were back and forth from Europe, the States and Hawaii frequently before '38. Then they stayed mostly in Hawaii, but still returned to London once in a while."
"This is all fascinating, Napoleon, but what does it have to do with Danno failing a clearance check?"
"Well, I'm not exactly sure, but something must have happened with this angle because the NSA check stopped in the family history trail. But, I know a few people who might help -- some old vets here at the New York office who were involved with the OSS."
McGarrett had a hard time with the theory. "You're saying something happened with them and that it's effecting Danno now? That's absurd!"
"Maybe. But we both know that if something serious happened with a close relative it would affect a security rating for us, right?"
Reluctantly McGarrett admitted this was so. In Korea they had themselves screened US and Korean citizens as a team of spy-catchers. First hand the two old friends knew the ins and outs of the shadow world of espionage. How could spies and Danno's parents have anything to do with failing a security clearance in Nineteen Sixty-Nine? Urging Solo to keep digging, McGarrett hung up and pondered this strange turn of events. Napoleon promised to keep digging and give over whatever new information was obtained, but was skeptical if he could find anything more. The records were old and difficult to unearth, but he would make the attempt given the time.
Knowing that was all he could manage, Steve left it at that and called his second contact. Since Oscar Goldman was intricately enmeshed within the power centers of Washington DC, McGarrett had high hopes for this option. When Oscar came on the phone he was surprisingly cool.
"I don't know about this, Steve."
"What do you mean? This could affect Danno's future with this unit, Oscar. For what? Something that might have happened to his parents twenty-seven years ago? I'm not going to allow that to happen!"
"Look, pal, don't get adamant with me about this. You know my brother is under the Arizona in Pearl Harbor right now! If Danny's parents were rated with a red code seal that means they did something detrimental to the security of this country."
McGarrett ground his teeth. "Red code seal? I've never even heard of that."
"You wouldn't need to at your clearance level, Steve."
McGarrett sighed and ground his teeth. He really hated dealing with the government. "You mean you won't help Danno because his parents might have done something wrong?"
For a moment there was a heavy silence. "Not just anybody gets a red code seal, Steve. This is very serious."
"Usually it means treason. If the Williams' were traitors, Steve, they would have my brother's blood on their hands. Do you have any idea what that means to me? No offence to Danny, but how can I be a party to forgiving that?"
Not only was this getting unbelievably complex, it was getting personally emotional for those involved. Feelings about Pearl Harbor's attack still ran deep and this had hit a sensitive nerve with his old friend. Gently, he asked, "Oscar, just check into it, please. Danno was a kid when all this occurred. This is not his fault, whatever happened."
Goldman sighed heavily. "I know, Steve, I don't blame him. But things aren't looking good about his parents."
"Do what you can, please."
"I'll see," he agreed reluctantly and hung up.
The idea seemed so far-fetched, but McGarrett admitted once Solo mentioned the spy angle and the unknown suspicions against the Williams', he had instinctively felt they were onto something. Why else would the government balk at giving Danno -- a cop with a spotless record -- a top clearance? Kelso had said it was something deeper than a military background check, and certainly deeper than HPD and Five-0 checks. A spy plot that centered around parents dead for almost three decades? Well, for a Shadow Clearance maybe having parents with a shady background was bad. Bad enough to ruin Dan's clearance for all levels? That would have to be very heavy transgressions. Like treason, he thought with a sinking heart.
Williams came in a little while later and reported his investigations turned up very little. Only one person in HPD records knew of someone checking up on him. Whatever NSA had found it had not been something out of the ordinary at HPD. Dan sat on the edge of the desk and awaited further instructions.
"What do you know about your parents, Danno?"
With a blink of surprise, Williams shrugged. Cursorily he gave the standard information that they were killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Since he was four when they died he had very little memory of them outside of what his Uncle Jim used to relate about them. Isolated, childhood memories sometimes surfaced -- a flash of a phrase or an expression on someone's face, or a moment at the beach -- but most of the recollections were contained in a series of winking images -- a small, mental medley of random black and white photos.
"What's this about?"
"Just a theory. Napoleon gave me some fascinating information. He knew your parents, he thinks, before the war, or course. In London. It's possible you can't get a clearance because of something about their history." McGarrett decided to keep the more wild speculations to himself for the moment. "Is there anyone we could talk to who might remember them?"
"No one I know that's still alive. When they were killed I stayed permanently with Uncle Jim. Over by Kahala. When he shipped out in the Navy I stayed with the Kulani family, but they didn't know my folks very well. A lot of people knew Uncle Jim before the war as a young man, and I promise you he was never into anything sinister." He gave a quiet laugh. "What's all this suspicious stuff, Steve? What could my security clearance have to do with my folks?"
"For this kind of clearance the spooks go very deep, Danno. Do you remember your old neighborhood where you lived as a kid?"
"It was somewhere near Pearl, but I don't remember now."
Pinching his lip in thought, McGarrett finally released a sigh. "Okay, looks like this is going to take some old fashioned police research. Get down to HPD and dig out your uncle's files, maybe we can get a lead there. I want to talk to someone who knew your parents."
Leaping to his feet, McGarrett amended the order and said he would join the search. As they left Jenny fielded a call from Kelso in Washington. McGarrett gave her a gesture to kill the call. He wasn't going to talk to Kelso until he had some weaponry in his camp.
Buried in the dusty archives of HPD's records storage, they found the brittle, yellowed original files of James Robert Williams' personnel packet. There was very little background information beyond basic family names and dates. Few verification or reference checks were included because so much data was destroyed or unavailable in Honolulu after the attack on December Seventh, Nineteen Forty-One. As references it listed his address in Kahala and the Kulani family, along with two people from Aiea; Mrs. Patterson and Mr. Reynolds.
Stopping at the nearest desk, McGarrett grabbed a phone book and compared the names and addresses with current residents in Aiea. No match for Mrs. Patterson, but a Joshua Reynolds was listed. McGarrett wanted to give it a try and called the number. Amazingly, Reynolds was home and agreed to talk with them, although McGarrett did not state the reason for the visit.
Just beyond Pearl Harbor McGarrett turned down an old, tree-lined, narrow street. The houses here were seasoned, mostly pre-dating the war, the asphalt and the sidewalks cracked with age. Scanning the addresses, McGarrett pulled up in front of a crisp-looking, small yellow house with a well-kept yard. Emerging from the car, he started for the front door, then paused when he realized Williams was not beside him. Turning, he studied his colleague, who was transfixed by the faded-blue house next door. Backtracking, he stood beside the younger officer.
"There used to be a fence there. The house was white -- and a white wooden fence." The voice was so quiet and still it seemed he was hardly breathing. Rooted to the spot, Danny scrutinized the houses and the street. "There used to be a dog here." He pointed to where they were standing -- the driveway belonging to the yellow house. "My parents had an old black car. They parked it on the curb. But Uncle Jim used to pull his convertible up in the driveway."
A yapping dog suddenly raced toward them -- some small mixed breed noise-box that danced at their feet. The intrusion drew Dan from the musings and he turned to look at the man emerging from the house. Studying the grey-haired, slightly hunched, thin old man ambling from the yellow house, Dan didn't know what he expected. What he got was nothing. No flash of memory, or connection, or inspiration. Whatever piece of the past he had tapped into briefly was gone.
Steve threw him a concerned look, then stepped forward and held out his badge. He would take the official approach to start with, probably get a better response from the old guy. "I'm Steve McGarrett, Hawaii Five-0. This is my colleague Danny Williams. We'd like to ask you a few . . . ." His voice trailed away. Obviously the man was not listening, paying absolutely no attention to him. A rare occurrence for the head of Five-0! The old man was staring at Danno.
"You're little Danny!" He rushed forward and ruffled the hair on Williams' head! Both officers were amazed. "I wouldn't have recognized you at first, but now I do. Look so much like your mama. You have your dad and your Uncle Jimmy's hair, but your face was always like your mother's." No longer abusing his privilege of senior rights to ruffle hair, he held out his hand and mostly grabbed Dan's hand, shaking it vigorously. "What in the world brings you back here to the old neighborhood? It's been twenty-seven years!"
The dog continued yapping and Williams' confusion shifted from the man to the animal. "Akamai." He crouched down and petted the dog, which stopped bouncing long enough to receive some desired attention. "Your dog was named Akamai." With a final pat to the dog Dan straightened and looked at the man. "He was a smart dog, you always said. And your wife -- she baked sugar cookies." He glanced back at the white building next door. "I'd sit inside my yard and feed Akamai some of the cookies your wife brought over."
Reynolds's eyes were misty. "The missus died back in Sixty-One. She would have loved to seen you again. Every time a new family moved in here we'd compare the kids with you -- talk about little Danny, wondering what happened to you. We read about your uncle's passing. Not long after that she died." Sniffing away the sadness he smiled. "When I saw your picture in the paper with your important promotion to Five-0, I couldn't believe you were little Danny from next door all grown up."
Nodding, Danny acknowledged that was last year when he was named second-in-command of the state police unit. Reynolds was nice enough not to mention the sharp controversy surrounding that appointment. Everybody in the 50th state, except McGarrett, seemed to think he was too young and inexperienced for the job. What would they think now with this clearance mess?
The emotional impact affecting the elderly man escaped the young detective. His snapshot memories were more like snippets of old film that played in his mind's eye from a subjective point of view. He could remember kneeling inside the fence and sharing cookies with the scruffy little tan dog. Akamai would lick the frosting off his fingers. Through the wooden border he remembered glimpses of his parents as they would enter or exit the black car. Then the film faded out and the recollections of this neighborhood ceased. And just like any member of any theatre audience, he watched the childhood fragments with a disassociated detachment.
Feeling a tug on his arm, Danny drew out of the reverie and focused on McGarrett who was watching him with close scrutiny. "Let's go inside."
Reynolds settled them in some comfortable chairs near the living room windows. Offered refreshments, McGarrett declined. Williams was busy concentrating on the house, but no flashes of inspiration filtered through his puzzled mind. He had expected something with coming back here to the old neighborhood, but was so far disappointed. The brief recollections were cold and two-dimensional. More emotional impact came from watching a good baseball game. As a dabbler in psychology he wondered if there was not enough emotional imprint from this part of his life -- or if he was repressing whatever he lived through here.
"So what brings you back, then, Danny?"
McGarrett watched his colleague, and when there was no response took the lead. "We wanted to come back and find out more about Danny's childhood here. He remembers very little. Especially about his parents."
With a shrug Reynolds described Daniel and Sarah Williams as a very nice couple, good neighbors, who weren't at home as much as the Reynolds would have liked. For the several years they lived next door they traveled extensively. Most of the time the younger brother, Jim, was there. After Danny was born Sarah was home more at first, then resumed her travels with her husband. Little Danny was left with his uncle, who was out of school and didn't seem to have a job.
"He had plenty of wild oats, though," Reynolds smiled. "Member of the hundred mile an hour club -- which meant something in those days."
"What?" McGarrett puzzled.
"Cars," Williams supplied with a smirk. "He raced an old Model-T and they could crank up the engine to over a hundred. What a charge, huh?"
Laughing, McGarrett shook his head. "It's in the blood, obviously."
Dan just grinned.
"Daniel was some kind of salesman, I think." Reynolds continued. He described the frequent business trips taken by the couple. Once in a while they would entertain very sophisticated looking people. "My Lily, she always wondered why such a professional couple would live in this quiet neighborhood. More in style with Manoa or St. Louis Heights. But in those days we had a wonderful view of the harbor." His voice dropped and he cleared his throat. "Too built up now," he finished with forced casualness.
Steve's tone mellowed with compassion. "What happened that day?"
They all knew what day, what date. Anyone alive in Hawaii, in America, on that fateful day would never forget the moment they heard the news -- the instant of disbelief, then horror, and then sorrow. The elderly man leaned against a chair and folded his hands around a glass of lemonade.
On that Sunday morning Reynolds was up early, he reminisced, clearly recalling everything as if it had happened yesterday. Akamai barked aloha when Jim and Danny left with some fishing tackle. Sipping coffee in the kitchen later, Reynolds saw Daniel and Sarah in their backyard digging around in the flowerbed. Soon after that the Williams' left, dressed in casual clothes. Reynolds was pruning some plumeria in the front yard when he heard the popping sounds of what he thought was far-off gun practice by the Navy, and planes flying overhead. Some of the aircraft was so low Akamai barked at them. Reynolds wasn't familiar with the red spot on the side of the fuselages. When the noise down at Pearl escalated Lily Reynolds called her husband into the backyard and they watched as ships, buildings and hangars exploded.
"That's when we turned on the radio and heard the alert that Pearl was being attacked. Didn't know by who." Voice shaking, his eyes misted. "The back of your house caught fire."
"Me and a few of the other neighbors were able to extinguish it ourselves. No fire trucks were available for up here. Saved most of the house -- the front at least." He shook his head. "The next street over another house exploded from an anti-aircraft shell. One of ours we found out later. Common damage that day since our Navy was using old ammo left over from the big war. A few intersections away several people were killed when the Japanese strafed the area." His head shook and he stared out the window looking into a past that would never die. "We stayed in all day and all night listening to the radio. My girls were both grown and married to fellas on different islands. We were worried about an invasion."
As the days of martial law began for Hawaii, Island life quickly stabilized to a new phase. There was no time to mourn or pause; they were on the front lines of a surprise war. No household, no family was unaffected by the tragedy of the attack and the subsequent years of war. The threat of invasion was a tangible dread and the military warned of spies under every bush.
It wasn't until later in the week that Jim Williams returned and cleared out some belongs from the house. Then he told Reynolds the Williams' couple had been killed in the attack. They never saw Jim or Danny again.
Walking back into the kitchen, depositing his glass on the counter, Reynolds paused at the window, staring at the neighbor's backyard. "Your Uncle Jimmy took something out of the flowerbed in the back. Lily -- she was the horticulturist -- she always wondered if you kept up with the flowers he took. Your mother loved them. She -- and you -- were always digging around in the flower beds whenever she was home, remember? Lily and Sarah could talk about the gardens for hours." He shook his head. "Mostly military families moved in over there after you. Never someone who shared Lily and Sarah's passion."
Dan felt McGarrett's stare and glanced at his friend. "I don't remember the texture, the feelings." Inside, there wasn't even a sense of being cheated out of precious memories. There was nothing. "Digging in the flowerbed stirs some memory, but nothing specific. Not connected with my mother."
Overhearing, Reynolds intently scrutinized the younger man. "I have something that might help." He disappeared for a moment and returned with an item clutched in his fist. Sitting down next to Williams he opened his hand to reveal an old gold-trimmed, enamel locket.
"This is a Lily. Your mother teased my Lily, said she loved flowers because of the name. Your mother had this made for my wife." A little choked up, he cleared his throat and turned the locket over. "Made in Dresden Germany," he read. "I can't make out the engraving anymore, but that's what it says. Before the war this was a real treasure. After the war Lily didn't say anything about where it was made, but she loved it." He gestured to a large photograph on the mantel, a family portrait with Reynolds, a grey-haired woman, two younger women, two young men and three children. "Had that taken before she passed on. See what she's wearing?" In the picture the locket was around the neck of the older woman. "Lily prized this like few other possessions."
Taking William's hand he dropped the necklace into his palm. "I want you to have it."
On a day of shocks, this was another startling turn of events. "I couldn't --"
"Lily often wondered about you and spoke many times of your mother. They would both want you to have this." He closed Danny's fist around the gift. He shook his head in wonderment. "Ironically, your mother must have worried about all those trips she made. The danger of long ocean voyages and such in those old clipper planes. Because she told Lily that if anything ever happened to her, Lily was to take care of this necklace."
He wiped away the moisture in his eyes and explained when Jim Williams came back to the house a few days after the attack, that was the last time they saw any member of the Williams family. No reason to return what with the damage and the tragic turn of events. Daniel and Sarah had been killed in the first attack, Jim said, and he was joining the Navy. Danny was staying with some friends of Jim's while he was gone. Lily wanted to adopt the little orphan, but Jim said he'd have other children there to grow up with in Kahala. Then after the war the Reynolds never heard if Jim came back or not and everyone lost touch.
Sincerely, Danny thanked the older gentleman and shook his hand. Pocketing the necklace he bid good-bye and walked out, pausing in the front yard to study the house next door. No more memories came back. With another farewell he went to the car.
Driving back toward Honolulu, Williams studied the glittering water of Pearl Harbor. In a distant tone he recounted recollections of leaving the house for a day of fishing on December Seventh. Fishing on the dock, he and his uncle had a front row seat of the bombs and explosions across the water at Pearl. It had been quite a spectacular event. Some of the planes flew so low the young boy could see the pilots in the cockpits.
Uncle Jim had hustled them back to the car and raced through the streets of Honolulu. It had been an exciting trip with the reckless driving and people crowding the roadways -- ambulances and military jeeps racing every which way. They had stayed at Jim's Kahala house, but Danny was not allowed to play in the water all the rest of the day. The guardian had announced that they would be staying there from then on, that Danny's parents were not coming back.
What he didn't admit was that he had cried himself to sleep that night and many nights following. A buried memory resurfacing. He also recalled that the next day he had turned four.
The memories were coming more freely now, but not of the family life at the house in Aiea. It was the next day -- December Eighth -- the first birthday party he remembered. It was a weird event. Some of the neighborhood families gathered in the front yard. There was a cake and games, but no presents. No parents. It was the first time he accepted that his mother and father were no longer part of his life and Uncle Jim was his parent. Danny had never returned to the old neighborhood. Soon after that Uncle Jim left for the Navy and Dan stayed with the Kulani family, who had taken in some other children orphaned in the attack.
A strong hand gripped his shoulder. "You okay, bruddah? This is some heavy stuff. Memories aren't easy to deal with sometimes."
Giving a confident nod to his friend, Williams assured he was fine. A little unsettled, but doing okay. He appreciated the sympathy from the stoic McGarrett. Steve had lost his dad when he was a young teen and his mom had died several years back, so he could empathize a bit with what Dan was going through. A little. Danny had mourned his parents so long ago it seemed like a distant dream. Now the emotions were cooled and almost disengaged from his heart. It was all a bit abstract and weird.
"We've still got a mystery to solve, Steve. What does my past have to do with being denied the clearance? There's nothing shady in my uncle's life, and my parents don't seem to have been around long enough to make an impression of any kind beyond gardening." He sighed, puzzled. It had never really bothered him being an orphan because Uncle Jim had been his father figure and the Kulani clan his ohana. His real father was little more than a black and white image on a photo, his mother not filled in with much more detail.
"What did your uncle have to say about your parents? Why were they at Pearl?"
"I always thought my dad must have worked there." Williams shrugged. "Uncle Jim didn't talk about them much. Not like there was a feud or anything, but I always sensed he disapproved of them for some reason. At least disliked something my dad did. Uncle Jim was my real parent. I don't remember my mother or father much at all." He brought out the locket. "I have an old black and white picture of my mother. And a picture of my family in the back yard of our house. Now this."
McGarrett's eyes widened. "That's it? No -- well, usually -- " he took a breath. "Sometimes heirlooms are handed down."
Williams shrugged. "I guess to a bachelor uncle, who was little more than a kid in Forty-One, sentimental relics didn't seem important." He stared out at the water. "I don't remember him bringing back any toys or anything back from the old house. Maybe a lot of things were destroyed in the fire. Funny, he never mentioned that." Williams released a confused sigh. "Maybe he just didn't want me to feel worse than I already did. I stayed with him so much most of my stuff was at his place anyway. I didn't really connect the idea of my parents traveling a lot with spending so much time with Uncle Jim, but it makes sense now." He smirked. "And Uncle Jim sure didn't bring any of my mom's flowers from the backyard. He didn't think much of gardening."
Ruminating more, he voiced that it seemed odd his uncle would know on December Seventh that his parents were not coming back. At Steve's surprise, Dan related some of his memories of that night.
Honolulu was in a state of confusion. Most people didn't know for days if relatives or friends were dead, wounded or missing. And James Williams made no attempt to go back to the Aiea neighborhood; they had gone straight to Kahala. More oddities to add to the growing queries. More puzzling questions.
"So what do we do now?"
"Go back to the office and see what my contacts can tell me. You feel like digging up some of your uncle's past with your calabash relatives?"
"Sure. I don't need much of an excuse to head out to Kahala for some great Kulani kau kau. You want to come? You've never met my adopted family."
"No thanks, some other time. I'll call if I find anything important."
Napoleon was working late in New York and admitted he was getting involved in this fascinating research connecting him with Williams. He also still insisted there was a mysterious intrigue link with the Williams.
"Hey, think about it, Steve. According to these old files the Williams' traveled extensively in Europe and they were fluent in German. I can remember sitting at the dinner table and all the adults would slip back and forth between English and German. It was damn confusing to a kid. Anyway, they all worked in the top, top secret area of the War Department in conjunction with the OSS. It's here in the old files."
After a moment of prevarication Solo admitted he couldn't say exactly what files or how he had obtained them. Still skeptical, McGarrett wondered how they could be spies before the war started. They both died during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
"That was December Forty-One. The war in Europe started years earlier. These spies were already working before the US entered the war."
Before Dan's parents died were they spies, Steve wondered incredulously? In the records it said Daniel and Sarah returned to Hawaii in the fall of Forty-One for a special project. Then the report stopped, or at least that was all Solo could find. The remainder of the Williams' file was listed under red-code seal of the classified War Department records.
"Do you know what that means?"
"No," McGarrett admitted shortly, ignoring Oscar's previous speculations. "What's the bottom line, Napoleon?"
"Well, you're not going to like this much, old friend, but I think I have the explanation here about Danny's failure with the clearance. You sure you want to hear it?"
"Okay. Don't say I didn't warn you. According to my sources here who used to be OSS, that meant they were under suspicion of the worst kind." He cleared his throat. "That's sometimes, among other things, a category for traitors, Steve."
"You've got to do better than that, Napoleon!"
Solo tried to calm the outburst, explaining his boss, Alexander Waverly, was heavily involved with OSS previous to UNCLE. The elderly superior personally knew the Williams agents, especially Jonathan and Clara, since they were based in London. On the sly Solo found some information in the red-code files indicating Daniel and Sarah were sent back to Hawaii to stop a German agent from collaborating with the Japanese. In December of Forty-One word came back to the OSS that the Williams' were suspected as double agents, collaborating with the German they were sent to find. After that the OSS classified them as traitors, blaming them for leaking information on American military readiness to the Germans and Japanese. For all the years after the war their records were in the red-code file. When NSA did a deep background check on Dan, the red file history popped up.
"No one going for top, top secret, and certainly not Shadow Clearance, is going to pass with a family tree like this, Steve. Parents suspected of leaking information aiding in the attack on Pearl! In the spy world this is serious."
"I don't believe it." McGarrett based that purely on his core trust in Dan Williams. Nobody as good as his friend could have parents who betrayed their country and contributed to the tragedy of Pearl Harbor! "I won't believe it without proof."
Napoleon countered that the family was connected to Germany, the mother's family emigrating from Hamburg before the First World War. Aside from the obvious family connections and the Aryan background, spies were a dangerous lot, never to be entirely trusted. "The government bought the double agent idea."
"And it won't be the first time the US government is wrong, either, Napoleon, so don't be naïve."
McGarrett maintained there had to be another explanation and he was going to find it. After nearly three decades that would not be easy. If the Williams' were such notorious traitors, why had no word leaked out before this? Solo suggested the precarious morale, especially in Hawaii at the time, would have been reason enough for a cover-up. The government was notorious for cover-ups, he wryly reminded. No spy agency liked the public to know about their mistakes.
Skeptical, McGarrett vowed he would keep digging until he found what he considered a better explanation than the official version of what happened with the Williams family.
As always, Danny's arrival at the Kulani house in Kahala was met with great joy. Wise enough to know this impromptu visit was work-related, the older Hawaiian couple of Tutu and Kahuna Kulani insisted they visit first, talk business second. Cool drinks and snacks were brought to a table on the far edge of the wide lawn. Looking out over the beautiful ocean, Dan curbed his impatience and visited with his adopted ohana. He didn't get out here nearly enough because of his consuming Five-0 career, so he accepted the socializing as his family dues.
Kahuna, a slight, wrinkled Polynesian, finished his beer and looked directly at the younger man. "So, you got big case we can help you with, Danno?"
Tutu, who had never seemed to change from her grandmotherly ways since Dan could remember, smiled at Williams. "You take your time. You keep too busy and don't come see us so much anymore."
Apologizing, again, Dan gave them a brief explanation that he was curious about his family and wanted to know all they could tell him about Daniel, Sarah, and James Williams. Conversation quickly diffused into old stories of the wild Jim Williams, but every question Danny asked about his parents were answered with negatives. The Kulanis never met Dan's parents.
"Did Uncle Jim ever do any gardening?"
"Not as long as I can remember," Tutu shrugged.
Kahuna laughed. "That was too sissy for your tough guy uncle, Danno."
That drew a laugh from Williams. Jim had been a compassionate friend/guardian until the attack. Then there was a strange, but short period when he was subdued and distant. All too soon he left for Navy service in the Pacific. When he returned he was tough and distant, but still a caring, loving father figure. Jim's most memorable cop partner, Big Jack McNeil, was in the John Wayne mold of a hard-nosed tough guy. Uncle Jim, however, was more soft-spoken and openly caring. It obviously took a big-hearted guy to give up his life to raise his brother's orphan. There was never a complaint or regret from the older Williams, though, and Dan had tried to be a decent kid to show his affection and regard for his uncle. Wishing he could live some of those years over again, he would have asked some personal questions, found out what his uncle wanted out of life. What he thought of raising a nephew. Why he never talked of his relatives.
"So, you gonna tell us why you are so interested in your uncle and parents?" Tutu's face reflected her concern. "You never asked about them as a keiki."
As long as he could remember, Dan never displayed much curiosity about his parents. Uncle Jim's reluctance to discuss them must have diminished any questions in the young boy. As he grew, it seemed disrespectful of Jim's place in his life to wonder too much about the parents he could hardly recall. So after a while Dan never brought up any comments or inquiries.
"Some things have come up at work, Tutu, and I realized I didn't really know my parents. I was hoping my uncle would have said something about them to you."
"We were sorry we never met them," Kahuna admitted. "And Jim never liked to talk about them. He centered his life around you."
After dark, when Dan returned to the office it was with a peace offering of homemade sushi, egg rolls and coconut cake from Tutu Kulani for his dedicated boss. Dan was feeling a little guilty about being the reason Steve was staying late again. McGarrett didn't seem to need much of an excuse to work his life away, but Dan didn't like being the reason for keep his friend at the office.
While McGarrett munched Williams related his information that the Williams family seemed to be cut off from Uncle Jim in Hawaii. And Jim never discussed them. Danny received presents from an Aunt Clara from London and other far-flung spots, but never any personal contact. He had never even met the aunt until he went to Berkley to college, after Jim's death. Then she came to visit Dan frequently and sent him airfare to spend holidays with her in the east. Now it seemed, in retrospect, that there was deliberate avoidance within the family -- a rift between the Hawaii relatives and the ones in the east.
Steve covered his conversation with Solo, coming to an abrupt halt after the background of Mrs. Williams' family. Sitting on the edge of the desk, his voice dropped to a mellow tone of sympathy. "This isn't going to be easy to hear, Danno. From what Napoleon says, your parents were sent back here in the fall of '41 to deal with a German spy. According to this source, your parents were double agents."
Too shocked to speak, Williams shook his head.
"They joined in with the German they were tracking, according to official reports. When they died in the attack they were labeled as traitors."
Dan gulped, then took several breaths. "That's unbelievable. My father was James Bond?"
"Not exactly, but it sounds like your whole family was. Your Uncle Jim, and you, have broken the mold."
"I think it's time I go to someone who would know." He stalked to his office and flipped through his address book. With McGarrett sitting on the edge of his desk, Williams dialed his aunt's number. It was late in Connecticut, but Dan was too impatient to wait until the morning.
"Aunt Clara, this is Danny."
"Oh, Danny, what a nice surprise." She laughed. "You know, you're the only person in the world who calls me Aunt Clara, I don't think you have to announce yourself anymore. Are you all right?"
"Fine, Aunt Clara, and enough teasing. How are you?"
She launched into a brief but spirited recitation of her recent summer stock performance a few nights before. After receiving a few chuckles from her nephew her tone sobered.
"I don't have to be a detective to know if you can't wait for my Sunday night call then something is going on. Did you get hurt? Are you all right?"
Constantly, it seemed, she worried about his dangerous profession. Now that such startling news about his family was coming to light, the worry seemed ironic. "I am, really." He took a breath and exchanged a glance with Steve. His friend gave a nod of encouragement and Danny continued. "Something's come up at work and I need some family information, Aunt Clara. What can you tell me about my parents?"
After a beat Clara started chattering about sterling qualities and attributes of her brother-in-law and his wife. For several moments Danny let her go on and halted her when she came to a pause. He clarified that he wanted to know about them, about what they did. And -- taking a deep breath -- were they spies?
Silence followed for several moments. "Danny, whatever gave you that idea?"
Drawing courage from Steve's solid expression of support, Williams took another steadying breath. "From an old OSS colleague of yours. Aunt Clara, I've been denied a security clearance because my parents are suspected double-agents or something and I want to know the truth."
"That was never proved, Danny, and believe me, your Uncle Jonathan tried very hard to clear them. I think you should leave it where it belongs, in the past."
Adamantly he refused to do so. His family's past, after all, was affecting his future and, more personally, his standing in Five-0. What would McGarrett think of him after this? Danny worried he would not only be ousted from the police unit, but would be crossed off the very elite list of personal friends to Steve McGarrett. Williams would do almost anything to avoid those banishments.
Under Dan's relentless badgering, reluctantly Clara gave him a sketchy history lesson. It was very difficult during the war, especially being over in Europe, to unearth any information to clear the Williams'. Jonathan and Clara did their best to investigate although they could never find any proof that Daniel and Sarah were innocent. Nor could they discover any solid evidence against Gruber.
"The German they were tracking."
McGarrett wrote down the name.
After the war it was even more difficult to research the events on Pearl Harbor Day. The German SS was in shambles; OSS was being reorganized, agents were moving on in a new era of covert espionage with new enemies and new missions. No one wanted to talk about their past spy activities, and operatives in Hawaii were happy to bury the intrigues along with the dead.
As she talked, McGarrett wrote down some questions for his colleague to ask the lady. What was the specific mission? What was Gruber doing here? Was Jim Williams involved?
Vaguely she replied that she didn't know the details of the mission. She didn't know much about Gruber except he was a crafty little man with an old heritage in German royalty and a great deal of respect in the spy community. As for her young brother-in-law Jim, he made it clear he wanted nothing to do with the family or the family business. That was why he stayed in Hawaii and left Danny with friends instead of sending the child to Europe to be with the older Williams'. He wanted the child to have no connection with the life of spies.
James always resented his brothers' dedication to espionage and insisted he could be a better parent to Dan than Jonathan and Clara. During the war Clara and her husband were active spies and had no time or facilities to care for a boy. After the war Jonathan and James never healed the rift and so neither reconciled. Following Jim's death Danny moved to the mainland where Clara found him and tried to make amends.
"Leave it alone, Danny. There's nothing you can do after all this time. I'm sorry about your clearance. I still have some old friends in these circles. Maybe I can talk to Alexander and --"
"No thanks, Aunt Clara, I'll handle this myself. Is there anything else you can tell me?"
"No, I'm afraid not, Danny. Sorry. Please reconsider."
"I can't. I'll talk to you on Sunday. Aloha."
Hanging up, he stared at his colleague. With certainty he stated his opinion that she knew more than she would tell him. Not sure what was more upsetting -- the information or the withholding of it, he sighed, running hands through his hair. With difficulty he asked for a leave of absence to investigate this on his own. Reasonably he pointed out that Steve would do the same thing under the circumstances.
"Yeah," McGarrett smiled in agreement. "But I hope I wouldn't be too stubborn to accept some help on such a daunting project." He leaned closer. "Look, Danno, this is important to you, and to me, too. I want this cleared up and you back on the job wikiwiki. I'd like to help."
In a sea of disillusionment and confusion, Williams wasn't surprised at who the solid anchor was in his life. Grateful for the offer he thankfully accepted.
The phone rang in Steve's office. Taking a chance it was not Kelso, McGarrett answered it, and was surprised it was Mr. Reynolds. McGarrett put his call on the speaker. The old gentleman remembered something else as he was sitting down to watch a spy show on television. One of the spies was blond and reminded him of a visitor Mr. and Mrs. Williams had before they left for the last time on December Seventh. A slight blond man had come and stayed only for a few minutes. After he left Daniel and Sarah went to the back yard and dug something out of the flowerbed. He remembered seeing them carrying something and putting it in their car and leaving.
Admitting they had more questions than ever, McGarrett suggested they take a break and start putting the puzzling pieces together in the morning after a decent night's sleep.
Dan went back to his apartment and dragged out the old sea chest stuck at the back of his closet. Digging through his uncle's old stuff, he found a box of items Dan had removed from an old safety deposit box Jim once used. He had cleaned it out after the older man's death, packed away the items -- mostly documents and a few personal trinkets -- and left for college on the mainland soon after that. He'd never thought about the possessions until now.
Documents were in a manila envelope. Under that was an oil cloth wrapped around a wooden box. It all smelled and felt like earth. Opening the box, Dan found an old wooden jewelry box with a bright red Hibiscus painted on the lid. Inside it contained odds and ends. At the bottom, underneath the trinkets, was a ledger-like diary with names and dates in small, neat penmanship. Pressed, dried flowers -- Hibiscus and Plumeria dropped from the inside of the book. The transactions were dated the last part of October, November and ended the Fifth of December.
With a chill Dan thumbed through the beginning pages, but no name or year was mentioned. Could this have belonged to his parents? The back lining was loose and inside he found an old black and white snapshot of a man with wavy, blond hair standing at the ornately carved wooden door of a beach house.
Going back to the jewelry box he noted a dried Hibiscus flower stuck to the inside of the lid. He found some expensive looking women's rings and necklaces. Could this have belonged to his mother? He froze when he realized it did belong to her when he saw a gold locket with an enameled flower. Fetching the locket given him by Reynolds, he studied the matching pair. The new one, his mother's, was painted with a Plumeria. Opening the locket, he was amazed to find a picture of himself as a young boy.
With a rocking flash of memory, he recalled the Hawaiian shirt he was wearing in the picture. This snapshot was taken in the backyard. That was his house and the garden behind him. His father had a shirt on just like the one he wore. It was his favorite shirt with blue, purple and white flowers, he remembered. His mother had picked them out at a shop in Honolulu the last time they had returned to Hawaii. The shirt was one he insisted on wearing constantly. The shirt he wore fishing with his uncle on that last day. Forcing himself to move on he opened the Reynolds locket. Inside was a small picture of a garden. The Williamsí garden? He couldn't be sure.
Settling into his most comfortable spot on the sofa he started reading the entries of the ledger. There was continual reference to "G" and he took that person to be Gruber. The blond in the picture? Also names of flowers -- obvious codes, but for what he didn't know.
Flowers. Codes. He looked at the pictures in the lockets. Why would his mother do that? Because she and Lily shared a love of the flowers? Or was there a hidden reason?
Grabbing the phone, he was frustrated McGarrett did not answer at home. Trying the office, he became more frustrated. Where was McGarrett? Trying, but not having a clue what he was doing, Williams tried to decipher the messages on his own. At some point in the hours approaching dawn his head dropped onto the book in slumber.
In the morning Danny was the first one in the office and made camp at McGarrett's desk. The picture and ledger were on McGarrett's desk when the boss entered and he raised his eyebrows in silent inquiry as to why his detective was usurping private territory.
Quickly summarizing the journal entries, Williams explained his theory about the codes to Steve. Settling in and sipping coffee while studying the messages, the leader tentatively agreed that the pattern of flower names seemed to be some kind of code. It would take some analyzing. Sadly, he noted it was not much to show for the life of Dan's parents. They had left almost nothing -- or possibly very little -- of which his uncle had saved almost nothing.
"This is about all I have from my mom. Nothing from my dad." He sighed, explaining he had also found some hidden pictures. "At least I have a photograph." Dan showed him the family photo, then the snapshot of the man with the wavy, light hair.
"He looks familiar."
"I know, but I can't place him. Like someone famous or something."
Chin arrived with fresh donuts and was brought up to date on the inquiry. He agreed that the man looked familiar, but the house in the background was easy to place. "In my Uncle Ho's neighborhood. Out by Black Point. Want me to check it out?"
McGarrett thought the idea a good one and suggested he take Danny along. The two detectives left as Kono entered and the boss had another assignment for the Hawaiian. With all of the native contacts in Kono's extended family, there must be someone who was around that knew the ins and outs of Honolulu society before the attack on December Seventh.
The big man's eyes lit up. "Hey, boss, for a change you've giving me something easy. How long do I have?"
"Same as always, Kono, ASAP."
Kalakaua grabbed a couple of donuts. "Sure, I'll make some calls."
With the rest of his staff busily working on the Williamsí problem, that left McGarrett with the choice of completing some tasks on case paperwork, or trying to break this interesting code. The decision was easy and McGarrett leaned back in his chair, the full morning sunlight from the lanai doors streaming onto the desk and the open journal. He was soon caught up in the daily lives of Daniel, Sarah and even little Danny Williams from twenty-seven years before.
What emerged was a rather chilling picture of life for a pair of crafty, shrewdly slick professional operatives of the spy game. Daniel and Sarah knew their stuff and Mrs. Williams' daily journal reflected a deft art at writing down what seemed like family observations, but what was really covert surveillance on suspicious characters littering the landscape of 1941 Honolulu.
The double life was made sadly poignant by the commentary on family life in the quiet Aiea neighborhood. Jimmy Williams was mentioned fleetingly, along with little snippets about Danny. Intellectually Steve knew this was primarily a mission log, but it depressed him to see the true nature of Daniel and Sarah emerge. Full-time government agents, they had almost no time for their small son. The boy was given over to Jimmy as the main caregiver or left to play in the yard. Meanwhile the parents conducted their covert assignments; following suspected enemy agents, communing with Washington DC, or developing film in their spare room. Obviously Jim knew of the family occupation and was considered the babysitter, not an operative.
Comparisons were inevitable and McGarrett thought of his own youth. Like most Irishmen, the patriarch McGarrett had been a tough man far too fond of drink. Home life had been hard on them all, but crushing when his father was killed by a hit and run criminal. Still, for the most part, Steve had grown up with two caring parents and a devoted sister to whom he was still close.
In contrast, mostly his uncle had raised Danno, even before the parents were killed. So wrapped up in their career -- which, admittedly, was vital to the national security -- the young couple hardly paid attention to the small son. What would life have been like for Danny if his parents had lived? Probably very much as it had turned out -- being raised by others. On the positive side, Williams' gregarious and generous nature seemed to have flourished from the calabash family of a bachelor uncle and the Kulanis. Certainly the uncle was a potent influence since Dan followed in his footsteps to become a cop.
How was the young detective coping with these incredible revelations about his parents being spies? So far Danno seemed to be keeping pace, stoically pursuing the mystery. If he knew his young friend, though, there was going to be a time of emotional reckoning. Underneath the talented cop was a sensitive young man and at some point in this case the magnitude of this personal bombshell was going to burst on Dan. They'd been through enough crises together for Steve to know that his officer's impulsive temper, and/or his deep insecurities would probably surface at some point. Steve wanted to make sure he was there for his friend no matter what happened.
It was commonly known in the offices of Hawaii Five-0 that Chin Ho and Kono possessed myriad relatives. Without this vast collection of calabash ohana the special unit would be deprived of countless informants as well as valuable meals thanks to the many eateries owned by the prolific clans. Never able to keep track of all the hui relations, Williams just referred to his colleagues when he needed the assistance of these valuable contacts. It never occurred to the youngest member of Five-0 that some of Chin's old family would be in one of the exclusive areas of Honolulu. Black Point was at the base of Diamond Head. There wasn't much of a beach, but it was prime real estate with a breathtaking view and huge plots of land that held massive mansions. Rich, famous and celebrated resided here -- old money and new -- heiresses, movie stars, sugar moguls, pineapple barons.
Turning into a long, narrow, tree-shrouded driveway, Chin parked the LTD next to a Mercedes in front of the house.
"My cousin the doctor is here," Chin nodded to his colleague.
Always impressed with the rich and famous, Williams sighed, wishing his single living relative was this loaded. Not that he would mooch off of the kindly Aunt Clara, but he wouldn't mind borrowing a Mercedes when he visited her back east. The thought of his elderly aunt was mixed with disturbance at the moment. Almost certainly she was withholding information from him and right now he didn't know what to do about her.
Ringing the old-fashioned brass bell by the door, Chin stepped back and waited. Only a moment passed before a thin, slight old woman answered the door. She smiled at Chin and they jabbered in fast Chinese, then he turned and introduced her as a cousin. They were shown into a courtyard, then to a beautiful lanai with padded rattan furniture. Only a few moments passed until a hefty Asian man about Chin's height arrived, smiling, shaking their hands. Then a taller, thinner, older man with a walking stick followed behind.
"Cousin George," Kelly supplied, then bowed to the elderly man. "Uncle Ho, this is my colleague Danny Williams."
Chin gave a brief explanation in Chinese. To Williams he translated, saying he was giving a summary of why they were here and what they wanted -- in Chinese -- since Uncle Ho would get a fuller understanding in his native tongue. Being over eighty, his hearing was not what it used to be.
"That day will never be forgotten." No one had to ask what he was referring to. "We missed much of the panic. Only heard some planes." The walking stick was pointed to the sky. "No radio."
"I was out for my morning swim," George gestured toward the ocean. "I saw some of the planes, but that was nothing unusual. Sammy Cooke came running down the beach and told me the news. Pearl Harbor had been bombed!" His face turned bitter. "That was a rough time. Any Asian was mistaken for Japanese. We had to keep a low profile for years."
Intellectually Williams knew the ugly history of the prejudice against Japanese and Orientals after the bombing. It was worse on the mainland where those of Japanese decent were herded into intolerable prison camps. In Hawaii the work force of Asians was sorely needed for the war effort since the Islands instantly became the Pacific hub for the US military. From the service personnel there was resentment and some nasty incidents involving Asians.
For the most part Danny had grown up oblivious to the ugliness brought to his native shores by the sudden war. In his neighborhood near Kahala he was raised along with Polynesians, haoles, and Asians of all mixes. It wasn't until his Coast Guard service on the mainland that he had a cold dash of reality with the outside world and intolerance. It made him grateful to have lived in the relatively safe isolation and melting pot of Hawaii all his life.
"What about before the war? I'm interested in one of your neighbors," Williams asked Uncle Ho, taking a lead in the questioning.
Ho raised his eyebrows. "That is a long time ago."
"Not too long," Chin urged gently.
"It involves a case I'm working on." Dan withdrew the picture of Gruber from his pocket. "Do you recognize this man or this house?"
George leaned over to study it. "Sure," the younger man said instantly. "He was a foreign haole. Very pale and light haired. He didn't like going out in the sun. Lived just around the cul-de-sac." He gestured makai. "Just down the beach two houses. On the other side of where my old pal Sammy lived." (I am guessing that you mean this to be in the past tense here)
Williams looked to the elder, who nodded and picked up the narrative. "A German man -- Gruber. Kept to himself in the neighborhood. Worked with business downtown. The house owned by big company."
Again George broke in and recalled Gruber was disliked by the locals. The German entertained lavishly for haoles and Asians who seemed rich. George remembered the big, chauffeur driven cars and elegantly dressed party-goers that seemed like magical beings from another world to the Island lad. George and his friend Sammy used to earn tip money by polishing the cars or running small errands for Gruber.
Reluctant, but knowing he had to cover all his bases, Williams pulled out the picture of his family. "Do you recognized any of these people?"
Ho shook his head. George's face took on a sly grin. "I recognize the woman. What a looker. That was Gruber's girlfriend."
"That a lie!" Danny insisted in a snapped shout. The startled looks of the others made him realize how stupidly rash his outburst was and he took a breath. "Sorry. I meant -- that's not what my investigation indicates."
Calmly, Chin took the family picture and again showed it to his relatives. He conversed in Chinese and Williams guiltily figured he was trying to appease the injured feelings and still salvage something of the investigation. It gave him valuable time to gather his turbulent nerves. Until that moment he thought he had this all under control. Sure it was a shock to discover his parents were spies. Yeah, it was disturbing to know people thought they were traitors. What he didn't realize until now was that it was eating him up inside and attacking emotions he never knew he had about his parents.
When the short conference was over Williams apologized again and Chin's relatives seemed to accept the outburst with placid civility. Either they were very congenial and gracious, or Chin had really smoothed things over in a big way, or both.
In English, Uncle Ho and George continued with a brief narrative about Gruber. The sandy-haired woman frequented parties at Gruber's house. George was not likely to forget someone who looked like her. More than a look, a -- presence-- was what George recollected about the classy, beautiful woman.
The foreign man, Gruber, had been killed during the attack on December Seventh. Intrigued at that surprising news, Williams asked for all the details they could remember. Ho explained the house was empty for weeks -- an estate manager closed the house. Neighborhood gossip speculated that the company that owned the house was tied up in Europe and could not deal with holdings in Hawaii during the war. Sometime after the war things settled down and in late '45 a brother of Gruber's came and claimed the house. The brother was wounded in the war and kept to himself, devoting his time to his successful business and quiet walks on the private beach.
After tea Dan apologized again for his outburst and they left. Chin cruised slowly past the German's house and Dan compared his picture to the current mansion. It looked remarkably the same. With little imagination he could fantasize about the luxurious cars in the wide, curved drive, the glittering gowns . . . . There he stopped. He could not imagine his mother consorting with a German spy!
On the way back downtown Williams was caught up in disturbing thoughts. When they stopped in front of an unfamiliar building he started. "What are we doing here?"
"Public library," Chin smiled. "You'd know that if you had kids. We going to check out this Gruber guy. I think I know where I've seen him before."
Obviously the family man knew his way around the library and they went to the information desk to request some old newspapers, specifically two years ago, around Aloha Week, in late summer.
"That's when our last baby, Lia was born," he reminded Williams, who still didn't have a clue about the memory signposts. "I was going to take Mai to the opening of a fancy new restaurant for Aloha Week, but Lia was born too early."
Not being a father, Danny didn't quite grasp the significance of the timeline, but he did perk up when they found what Chin was looking for. A picture of a man standing in front of a new hotel in Waikiki. The person seemed to be an aged Helmut Gruber; grey hair and a scar down the side of his face.
Dan took the picture from his pocket and compared the photos.
"Could be a brother," Chin speculated dryly.
"Could be the same man," Williams countered with an edge. "What better way to duck out of everyone's attention than pretending you're dead in a devastating bombing? Then resurface years later as a near-look-alike relative. What do you know about this guy?" He read the caption in fine print. "Wolfe Gruber."
"Not much." He rustled the papers. "But I can find out." He studied his young colleague. "What makes you think it's NOT his brother?"
Dan scrutinized the black and white photos. It was a good question and he didn't have a very solid answer. "The resemblance is too strong, maybe." He shrugged in perplexity. "Maybe I'm just suspicious of everything now and I'm not taking anything about my past at face value. You check out all you can here. I'll walk back to the office, it's not far."
The pleasant day and warm sunshine tempered by an ocean breeze were lost on Williams. With his mind mired in the past he had no appreciation of his current paradise. Years ago bombs had rained down on this city. He had stood not far from here and watched, not understanding he was seeing the murder of his parents as he beheld the attack.
Very few details of his parents had filtered through his clogged mind in these last few days. Was he psychologically blocking the memories? Were they too painful to recall? Combining through his erratic bits of recollections formed a vague and nearly non-existent picture of his mother and father. Over the years he had romanticized them in a constructed image built from hazy images, comments from his uncle and the dramatic, tragic nature of their deaths. In these last two days he realized he knew nothing about his family or past and felt adrift and disillusioned by the revelations.
Skipping up the steps of the Palace he knew things might just get worse. What if his parents were traitors? There was nothing he could do about it now, but it would be something difficult to live with. Particularly in Hawaii where there was an every day reminder of the attack, from glimpses of the Arizona Memorial, to some buildings that still displayed bullet holes, to people maimed from the violence.
Cryptography was not one of his strongest talents, but the tenacious part of Steve's nature nearly demanded he take a crack at this before asking for help from an outside source. Reading over the small, fine handwriting of Mrs. Williams, he admitted this was purely a selfish act on his part. Justifiable, but still self-serving, he knew. For one reason, he didn't want general knowledge of Dan's predicament to get out. If he consulted colleagues at Naval Intelligence or the FBI (who might not even be as good as he was!) they would surmise and guess at something close to the truth. McGarrett's pride did not allow him to admit to them that his officer was at risk of not just being denied clearance, but possibly being forced off of Five-0 by the governor. If the NSA pushed they could make a case against Williams, as second-in-command, being too close to the machinations of Five-0 to include in secret projects.
Concentrating on the list of code words, he first indexed all the flowers mentioned in the journal, agreeing with Williams' assessment that it sounded too unnatural to be a legitimate diary. The flowers were out of context in many cases, some passages not making sense at all. After cataloging the flowers, he then scanned the surrounding phrases to see if any other clues were apparent.
Since the Seventh was the critical date he worked backwards from there. Reversing over two weeks period a pattern emerged that was disturbing him. Scanning the list, he compared it with his sketchy history of events on the Island on that fateful weekend:
Saturday night, while the Japanese were in aircraft carriers barreling toward the unsuspecting Americans, there was a battle of the bands for Navy musicians from the many ships harbored at Pearl. There was a swank party for officers at the Royal Hawaiian. Several of the known American intelligence agents on Oahu observed the Japanese embassy doing extraordinary burning (excessive smoke from the chimney).
By Saturday the 6th the log notations had come to an alarming archetype. When the key flowers were mentioned so were the same descriptive phrases and initials. Side by side he made three columns.
Gardenia - - sparkling - - G (seeds) (white)
Plumeria - - trusting - - - D
Hibiscus - - devoted - - - D
Chinese lantern - tricky - J
There was mention of seeds, excursions and sightseeing. Reading between the lines and collating a picture, McGarrett's dread grew. It seemed the Williams were engaged in regular meets with 'G' who was always mentioned with sparkling seeds or Gardenias. Gardenias were white -- Steve made a note of that.
'The Chinese Lantern seeds could not remain in unfertile ground and on Friday the 5th of December. The Plumeria ('trusting D') seeds were replanted to a better location, with Hibiscus (D.)'.
Only a few lines were noted on the fateful morning of the 7th. Scrawled, hurried, the fine script said only this:
'Planting time is over. Time to take the seeds and run. Gardenia and Chinese Lantern are overpowering the garden. Must save the Hibiscus.'
In simple terms he would have to judge that Gardenia stood for Gruber. White was a symbol for him -- in the photo Gruber was dressed in a white suit and his hair was so pale blond it looked white. Did Chinese Lantern -- J -- stand for the Japanese? Were Gruber and the Japanese closing in on the Williams? Were they in danger? What was the Hibiscus -- proof? Why did they have to save it? Did they go to the Aiea house that day to retrieve something or to hide something just before the attack?
With the diary came more puzzles and questions than before. Steve wasn't sure about any of the codes, but he had a guess. Something he didn't want to voice, or even explore until he had more evidence.
A knock preceded Williams, who looked tired and worn out. Steve closed up the book, hiding the notes.
"How's it going?"
"Slow," McGarrett offered with a tight smile. "Where have you been?"
"Black Point, the library and walking a few blocks." At his boss's quizzical look he laughed. "Long story." He placed the photos on the desk as he sat on the edge. "Uncle Ho came through. Gruber was a neighbor of his 'till Gruber was apparently killed on December 7th. Now the estate is owned by the Trans-Europe Company, which is owned by Wolfe Gruber, this guyís look-alike brother."
"Wolfe Gruber, the millionaire recluse?" At a low whistle, the top cop was surprised at the money and fame creeping into their investigation. "So this look-alike has big bucks, big money links and the family luxury estate." They shared a knowing, suspicious glance. "A twin." He scrutinized his associate. Or something else? What are you thinking? A look-alike close enough to be the same man?"
Williams shrugged, seemingly in a noncommittal manner, but his expression denoted the doubts he harbored. "That's what I'm thinking."
"Based on what evidence?" McGarrett queried neutrally.
Offering a sheepish near-grin, Dan held his ground. "I know it's all coincidence, but you don't like those any more than I do, Steve." He leaned his fists on the desk. "Gruber maybe knows my parents were onto him. The attack changes everything. It's this spy's chance to slip away and make a clean break. Who's ever going to know?"
McGarrett stood and paced, snapping his fingers. Unknowingly echoing his subordinate's earlier comment he admitted a war was a very good place to use as a cover for disappearing. When Williams elaborated about the reclusive (to his neighbors) Gruber, Steve warmed to the theory. Why fake a death, if he did?
"Get down to public records and dig up Gruber's death certificate." At Williams beginning protests he amended. "I know it will be tough, a lot of records at that time were sketchy. See what you can find." As the younger man was leaving Steve stopped him, his voice compassionate. "Danno, it might be helpful if you check on your parent's death certificate, too."
Williams froze by the door. Tone tight, his voice was low. "Why?"
"Just out of curiosity." He shrugged casually, though his associate was not watching. "While you're there it might be a good idea. Do you know any of the details?"
With some surprise, Williams admitted that he didn't. His uncle had never told him and he had never asked. Reconsidering his order, McGarrett joined his friend at the door and suggested Williams didn't have to check on the Williams. Steve could do that himself.
With a deep breath Dan adamantly countered that he could -- should -- investigate. It was time for him to find out about a past that had been buried for too long.
Intrigued at why Kono would want to meet him at one of the oldest hotels in Waikiki, McGarrett had agreed. After the cocktail hour Steve found the big Hawaiian at the lanai piano lounge of the historic Halekulani Hotel. Built to resemble an old tropical plantation, the hotel was distinctive in design and unique in hotels on the world famous beach. Bungalows surrounded the main building and offered a degree of stylish privacy amid the sterile high rises towering above the sands. The first case of Earl Derr Biggers' famous fictional HPD detective Charlie Chan took place in this famous hotel in the book titled House Without a Key.
Mysteriously, Kono had suggested Steve bring to the meet the photos of Danny's parents and the mystery man Gruber. Easy to spot in a brown and blue Aloha shirt, Kono Kalakaua waved McGarrett over to the bar. The detective was sitting on a stool by the piano, talking to the lounge singer, and Steve wound his way through the moderate crowd to join his officer.
"Steve, this is one of my uncles, Kiki Kalakaua."
McGarrett shook hands with the older man. Dark and vigorous, with rich, flowing white hair, it was hard to peg the age of the pianist, but the veteran cop would guess the years at something past seventy.
Kono took a sip of a beer. "Kiki been here forever. Since before Pearl. You want to know what happened in these Islands in those days, you ask Kiki."
Kiki played a jazzy rendition of Kuuiipo. "Kono say you lookin' for information about before the war."
The man smiled, revealing a few missing teeth. Noting the crooked nose, Steve pondered how long Kiki'd been playing in bars and how dangerous it might be to be the piano player in such places. Kono's closed expression revealed nothing and McGarrett wondered how much Kono had revealed about Dan's history. Hoping his man had divulged very little -- so as not to color the witness's old memories -- he began with a vague tale. He wanted information about some people who might have come here before the war. They were killed during the attack.
Showing the pictures of the Williams, Kiki studied them as he played. Slowly nodding his head, he smoothly switched to a slow rendition of On the Beach At Waikiki.
"Yeah, I can say de come here. Seen them enough. Not so many places for malihini to party in those days. Used to love to dance to the Hawaiian songs." Tilting his head to the left, he nodded to the woman, who was on the left side of the photo. "She was always smiling. Big tipper. Not her husband."
McGarrett smirked at that. Danny was known to be very tight with the money -- obviously an inherited trait. "What can you tell me about them?"
"The wahini bright like the sun when she come into de room. Cept when dis bad haole come. Not long before the end -- the attack -- dis white haole wit a funny tongue come. Nui pilikia. He think a lot of the haole wahini. Her man don't like the malihini and they have words." Kiki laughed and played with one hand so he could slide a finger down his nose. "Dat's how I got dis big bump when da kine nose broke. De two kane have one big fight, bruddah."
Chilled at the thought of what he believed would be the response, Steve brought out the snapshot of Gruber. Kiki drew in a breath and looked with astonishment at the Five-0 leader. "Hey, like it was yesterday, man, I remember dis haole. He the one broke my nose. Da next day we got da bombs. Never forget."
"This man and this one," he gestured to Gruber, then Daniel Williams, "were here on December Sixth and had a fight?"
"Never forget. Anybody here on dat Sunday morning never forget none of what we did that weekend. Gonna always remember."
Excited, McGarrett exchanged a glance with Kono. "Who was this haole with the white hair, Kiki? You remember?"
"De call him a funny name. Like a hat." He patted his head.
Kono was confused. "A hat? Like a cap?"
"Da kine for football."
McGarrett nodded. "Helmut. Anything else you can think of, Kiki, please give Kono a call."
"Hey, what da cops want with these dead folks? De die in the attack you know. Except the mean dude -- da white haole."
McGarrett heart beat with excitement. "What do you mean? He supposedly died on December Seventh, too. What makes you think he could still be alive?"
Kiki nodded, then offered a conspiratory wink. "Heard tell he was killed in the attack. Den about ten years ago I seen him at the Royal Hawaiian when I was playin' the lounge there on da beach. He come in -- older and face scared -- but I know it was him. He didn't recognize me, but I know. Same mean look in those scary blue eyes."
In the process of replacing the pictures in his jacket pocket, McGarrett stared at the man. "Are you sure?" The pianist nodded. "What made you think he and the Williams' were dead in the first place?"
"Coconut wireless, bruddah. I don't see my regular customers comin' in weeks and months after the bombs, den I wonder. Everybody like to talk about what happened and who was killed. Wahini and her man de popular round here. Everybody heard de were at Pearl dat morning. Other haole, he never come back either. Figure he's gone, too. Until I seen him at the pink palace."
Steve gave a generous tip in the glass atop the piano. Again he thanked the man for his cooperation and asked if he could come back if he had anymore questions. The Hawaiian smiled and agreed, especially if he was going to give such bountiful tips. He started playing a sentimental version ofMoonlight Serenade as McGarrett briskly left.
Back at the office Steve started making inquiries about the businessman Gruber. A few friends in legal and civic circles easily supplied the information. Gruber was rich, powerful and solitary. He contributed heavily to commerce in Hawaii, mostly Honolulu, and offered charitable donations that were respectable, if not generous.
Staring at the old photo of the suspected spy, Steve was forming a theory he did not much like, one that his young associate would like even less. There would have to be more proof before he said anything to Danno, but if the case kept on going in this direction it would be rough on everyone. McGarrett was afraid the Williams' were double-agents, collaborating with the German on secrets -- whatever the seeds stood for -- and fleeing just before the attack on the morning of the Seventh. If that was accurate, then they knew about the attack and were running away from danger. Without their son. How was he going to tell that to his friend? And what about clearance? Five-0 worked on plenty of top secret projects with the state and Federal government. If his investigation corroborated the original accusations, then this old spy skeleton-in-the-closet could mean the end of Danny Williams' chances for any kind of clearance in this office -- possibly an end to his Five-0 career.
When Williams returned he practically dragged through the door, emotionally and physically worn. Taking pity on the young officer McGarrett steered him to a chair and asked the last time he'd eaten. Danny couldn't remember. McGarrett went to the empty outer office and poured two strong cups of coffee -- the cure-all for everything at Five-0. Then he placed a phone order for some Chinese food from an all night delivery joint on Beretania. Opening the lanai doors he took in deep breaths of fresh ocean air and urged his friend to join him on the lanai.
When Dan started to give a report, Steve stopped him cold. "No business, Danno. Give it a rest. This case is getting you down and I don't want you out of commission because you're burned out. Pace yourself. We're going to take a break here and relax, eat dinner, then we're going to tackle this with fresh energy."
Williams laughed and McGarrett was puzzled. "Your advice," Dan sputtered, unable to stop giggling. "You're giving advice on moderation and pacing!"
McGarrett pretended to be insulted. "Very funny. You better watch it or you'll end up working through your chow mein dinner."
When the meal was delivered they pulled two chairs out on the lanai and in a rare time out ate from the light of the dying tropical sun. Conversation included theories on two other cases that Kono and Chin were focused on, and a court date that would require both of the top detectives at the trial the next week. Once the meal was cleared away Steve made fresh coffee and they sat by the long table at the side of the room spreading out documentation of their day's activities. McGarrett was pleased to see his friend was more relaxed and settled, more prepared to face the tough case ahead.
"The hall of records didn't have anything more than the date of my parentsí death," Dan revealed first. He laid out some photo copies of some familiar, yet odd looking sheets -- police reports from Nineteen Forty-One. "A diligent HPD officer on the job then was really ahead of his time. He took a careful look at all civilian deaths that day. Including three by bomb attack on a car registered to Daniel Williams." His voice caught and his tone dropped to a subdued sigh. "My parents and a man identified as Helmut Gruber -- ID's courtesy of partial wallets found in the mostly destroyed car -- were all in the same vehicle. It was found on the side of the road on the highway up the middle of the island. The theory was that the Japanese strafed the car and it exploded."
McGarrett studied the difficult to read forms. The cop, Sergeant Tosaki, was thorough and good. His conclusions were obvious. McGarrett wondered why that bothered him. Especially when a number of other deaths were reported because of cars being bombed or enflamed. Because those other casualties were not part of a spy network, nor were they related to Danny Williams.
"The information on Gruber is worse. Wolfe Gruber has no immigration documented in Hawaii, no records of any kind, not even a driver's license -- he has a chauffeur. So there's nothing to link him to Helmut Gruber. I sent a telex to Washington for immigration stuff but you know how long that could take."
The ringing of the phone startled them. Glancing at the clock, McGarrett wondered who would be calling the office at twenty minutes to ten PM. Answering, he was mildly surprised at the gruff voice asking for Williams. With a gesture he motioned for Dan to get the phone on the other table while McGarrett listened in.
"You want information about your parents. Go to Aloha Tower. Leave now. Alone." The phone clicked off.
Slowly hanging up the receiver Dan shrugged. "What is that all about?"
"I donít like it. It could be a trap."
"You've been stirring up a lot of dust, Danno. Someone might not like you digging for old skeletons in the closet."
Dan stared at his friend. "I have to go."
"Not by yourself. I'll tail you."
"Steve I don't want you in danger --"
"And I don't want you in danger. I'm going. I'll leave now and get there a little ahead of you."
Visibly struggling with his instincts; to obey his superior, to protect McGarrett, he vacillated. "Steve --"
McGarrett picked up the phone. "And I'm calling in some back up. Discreet back up. Just in case we're being watched, you better go first. Take the scenic route."
"Yeah, all of Hawaii is the scenic route," he muttered with a shake of his head, still irritated at his stubborn boss. "Okay."
McGarrett was still talking to someone at HPD when an explosion rocked the floor and shattered the lanai windows. Dropping the phone he looked out, half expecting the horror that met his eyes. Williams' LTD was a sizzling ball of flames! Not thinking, hardly breathing through the panic compressing his chest, he raced downstairs. He stumbled and nearly fell when he saw his officer sitting on the steps of the Palace.
"Danno!" Grabbing the younger detective by the shoulders, amazed he seemed fine, McGarrett sank down beside him. "You're okay."
White with shock, Williams nodded.
Hardly whispering, Steve shakily assessed, "It was meant for you." He gulped in some much needed fresh air. "Timer." Patting Danny with the force of relief and residual anxiety, the younger man coughed from the powder. "Thank God. That was too close."
Trembling, Dan could only nod.
"This is personal now, Danno," McGarrett snarled, his right fist tight, punching the air. "We're not stopping until we get to the bottom of your parents' life and death." His eyes narrowed at the burning car. "And we don't stop till we get whoever did this."
Wiping sweat off his face with jittery hands, Dan stared at the flaming car. "Who?"
"Only one coconut's fallen off the tree so far. Gruber."
The necessary steps of the investigation of the bombing had been completed. Quickly afterwards he hustled Williams away from the Palace. It was after midnight when McGarrett implemented one of his typical surprise frontal assaults on a suspect.
Not everyone could get away with harassing -- aggressively questioning -- supposedly law abiding, important citizens, but McGarrett could and often did. The governor would no doubt hear about tonight's visit and bring heat down on Steve, but it would be past tense by then. As they drove up the funereal-quiet street in Black Point, Dan appreciated his friend like never before. As they had established yesterday, Steve was not everybody. McGarrett was the stubborn Irish cop who was sticking in Williams' corner when things went against him. When someone wanted to kill him.
To legal minds and rational civil servants this rash offensive would be madness. In tomorrow's papers the stunt might even draw more publicity than the car exploding in the parking lot of Iolani Palace. To by-the-book cops the strategy might seem insane. As he had many times before, Dan Williams literally and figuratively backed up his boss, admiring the style and nerve of the man that criminals feared and most of Oahu grudgingly respected.
Pounding on the elaborately carved front door -- the same one in the black and white snapshot of Gruber -- the echoes sounded like thunder on the quiet street. A light came on in one of the windows at the end of the house and moments later the door was opened by a bulky Hawaiian man in a light bathrobe.
"McGarrett, Hawaii Five-0," Steve announced and pushed his way into the house. "Where is Mr. Gruber?"
They entered a spacious and well furnished living room, austerely decorated with subdued and sparingly tasteful furniture and paintings. Nothing ostentatious, nothing elaborate. Surprisingly sedate for a millionaire. McGarrett kept his ID wallet in his hand.
"Please tell him Steve McGarrett would like to talk to him." As the man started to leave McGarrett halted him with a sharp command. "Wait. Has Mr. Gruber left here tonight?"
The Hawaiian was stoically neutral. "I've been in my room at the back of the house for hours. I wouldn't know." Then the man disappeared.
"Boy, he's worth his wages, isn't he?"
McGarrett scoffed. "Yeah, loyal and tight-lipped. Two perfect qualities for a servant."
A moment later the servant preceded a sturdy, older man with wavy white hair and a wrinkled, tanned face that was distorted by two disfiguring scars along the left cheek. In his sixties, the man in a satin bathrobe gave them a steely glare with ice blue eyes.
"What do you mean coming here in the middle of the night?" After assessing both detectives he zeroed in on McGarrett. Much the same height and build as the leader, Gruber boldly confronted the intruder. "Who are you?" There was a slight accent. "You obviously don't know who I am?" Spoken with the arrogant superiority of the rich or to one used to having his commands obeyed.
Stepping into the center of the room he diverted a glance at Williams and drew in a sharp intake of breath. Studying the man carefully, McGarrett felt a flush of excitement and triumph. The slip solidified his theories into certainty, but still without a shred of proof. That was all right, he'd been in this kind of precarious spot before. And the bad guy always made another slip and then another until the strong hand of the law put a grip on the criminal's shoulder. Slowly coming out of his surprise, Gruber focused again on McGarrett.
Introducing himself and his colleague, McGarrett then admitted that he did, indeed, know the millionaire's identity. The present one as well as the past one.
For a frozen instant the amazingly well-preserved elderly man stood immobile, hardly breathing, staring at McGarrett. The cold blue eyes flickered with some fleeting emotion, but too quick to read the expression was gone, replaced by resolve.
"I don't know what you mean."
"You're Helmut Gruber."
It all came together for the detective in that moment. The German's disconcerted surprise -- like he had seen a ghost -- when he spotted Danno. The face so similar to the Gruber in the picture. The perfect opportunity to cover-up using the Japanese attack as a screen. Having the man at a disadvantage, Steve pressed his prey.
"You were a spy here in Hawaii in the days preceding World War Two. I think you killed Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Williams and left a body to be mistakenly identified as your body." Williams gasped and Gruber flicked an annoyed glare at him, then stared at the accuser again. "You laid low until after the war and came back and brazenly took up your old life here in Honolulu!"
It took the older man only an instant to jolt out of his shock and take control. With rigid bearing he stalked across the room and opened the front door. "You will leave now. If you utter those absurd accusations in public, or if you harass me again, my lawyers will see you in court." He stared at McGarrett while the policemen walked by, studiously ignoring the younger officer.
Next to Gruber, McGarrett stopped and stared at the older man. "You've played a bold game, Gruber, but it's over now. The truth catches up to you, just like murder. Skeletons buried in the closet are always discovered."
As they stepped out to the Mercury, Steve diverted over to the blue Mercedes parked at the side of the drive. Touching the hood he gave a nod to his colleague. "Still warm." He surrendered a Cheshire-cat grin. "We have the right man."
Williams leaned on the top of the sedan. "Steve, why didn't you say something? I'd like a warning about that kind of bombshell you know."
"Sorry, Danno, but it all came together in my head suddenly and I didn't want to lose the opportunity." He slipped into the car and Danny followed, still pale with surprise. Steve patted his shoulder. "Sorry. My tact isn't very good, I'm afraid. I was so focused on Gruber and the case I forgot how personal this is." Nodding, Dan accepted the apology silently. "Now I'm taking you home so you can get some sleep and then we've got some hard work to do tomorrow. We need proof that this is Helmut Gruber and not Wolfe."
McGarrett pulled out of the driveway and headed back toward Honolulu. Williams was ominously silent and the boss asked if he was okay.
"What makes you think Gruber killed my parents?"
"Some coincidences. You know how I mistrust coincidences. And my gut instinct," Steve sighed, striving for the promised tact that was so difficult for him to manage. "In that diary from your mother she mentions someone they're following -- 'G' she calls him -- which I think was Gruber. There are codes there about something your parents had -- maybe proof of Gruber's spy activities."
"How can we prove that?"
"I'm working on it. Your parents were meeting Gruber the morning of the Seventh. In their belongings you didn't find much, so I'm assuming whatever they took from Gruber they no longer had on them. What if Gruber came after it -- whatever it was -- and killed them? In the attack it would be easy to bomb a car and everyone would think it was courtesy of the Japanese."
Leaning his head back against the seat, Williams closed his eyes and sighed. "I wish I could sleep, but I think I'm too tired and at the same time too keyed up. This meddling in the past is getting to me."
Pulling into the driveway of Dan's apartment, McGarrett was sympathetic. "Just sleep as long as you need to, come in when you can. I need you in good shape, Detective Williams. It's going to take the resources of my top officers to crack a twenty-seven year old murder mystery." He sighed, trying to say what he meant instead of spouting clichés. "I need you at your best if we're going to clear your parents' reputation. Clear your past."
Staring at the ocean across the street, Williams opened his mouth several times to speak, then closed it in uncertainty. Finally he stared at McGarrett. "Prove Gruber murdered my parents you mean."
McGarrett bit his lip, hoping for a response somewhere between the truth and diplomacy. "Maybe. We don't know for sure yet. That's why I need you in top shape, Danno, to find out."
With a nod of his head the young officer managed a ghost of a smile. "Mahalo, Steve. For everything. Only a true aikane would stick with me through this. I -- I'm really grateful."
McGarrett cleared the knot out of his throat and patted the officer on the shoulder. "You're welcome. Now go get some sleep. I'll see you in the morning."
McGarrett pulled away and instead of heading for his nearby apartment he turned right on Ala Moana. A few moments later he was at the Palace, at his desk, taking the old diary out of his locked desk. Fleetingly he wryly acknowledged that he was ignoring his own advice (not unusual) and returning to work. There were a few details with this code that he wanted to try and break . . . .
When Danny arrived late the next morning at the Five-0 offices, Chin was busy at work. Numerous newspapers were spread across his desk. Over his colleague's shoulder Williams saw, with some surprise, the papers were Honolulu society pages from before the war.
"They let you take these out of the morgue at the Advertiser?"
"You got to have pull," Kelly smiled proudly. "Not just anyone can get these." Rubbing the dust off his hands he laughed. "No one else wants them. They ancient history, bruddah."
"Find anything interesting yet?"
"No, don't think so. I don't really know. Steve said I'd know when I saw it."
Smiling at the typically cryptic comment from the boss, Williams nodded and moved on to his cubicle. Jenny had left some memos and messages for him on his desk. McGarrett's door, he had noted, was open, the office empty, so he would wait to confer with Steve. He had time to return some calls and check on the progress of a burglary case he was working on.
"Danny! Come here!"
The urgent call launched him from his office and Williams joined Kelly. The Chinese detective pointed to two old photos from the society page. Both dated October 1941. No need to read the caption for the names. In the photo was a striking blond woman whose family resemblance made it obvious she was Danny's mother. The woman was dancing in the arms of a short haired blond man with strong, blunt features. Gruber. In the background was a man with an unhappy expression. A man with curly hair and a dark expression -- Daniel Williams. The second photo made Danny cringe -- Mrs. Williams, leaving the Royal Hawaiian Hotel on Gruber's arm -- Daniel Williams in the background.
"This is what I was looking for I guess."
Danny took the pages. "Keep digging, Chin."
Returning to his cubicle Williams felt slightly ill. What did this mean? His mother consorting with a German spy? He thought they were following the creep! He was under the impression -- from the diary -- that they were assigned to bring down the spy. Was his mother trying to get in good with the German and get information? Then why did his dad look -- look like he could kill the spy?
Reading the gossip columns didn't help. Sarah Williams was implicated with Helmut Gruber on several occasions. On a back page he found another photo of Gruber and Mrs. Williams exiting the now familiar house at Black Point. What did it all mean?
A knock startled him and he looked up to see McGarrett leaning by the desk. "You okay?"
Williams pushed the paper toward his boss. "I don't think so."
McGarrett barely glanced at the incriminating pictures. "Chin told me. And he's got a few more. Let's not jump to conclusions."
"Isn't it obvious!" His voice cracked with disturbance. "My mother was having an affair with a German spy!" He brushed fingers through his hair and stared up at the ceiling. "Maybe she was trying to catch him. Maybe this was part of her job --"
A firm hand gripped his shoulder. "Maybe we don't have enough evidence to know what was going on. Yet. Haven't I taught you anything this last year?" he smiled -- pouring on the charm instead of intimidating his newest officer. Normally he would have snapped out something sharp to jolt the young detective out of his melancholy.
Responding to the gracious approach, Williams took a calming breath and sighed. "Okay." The phone rang and he answered it. "Hello." Smiling, he responded with, "Mahalo," and hung up. To McGarrett he explained as he came to his feet. "A tip on the burglary ring I've been chasing out at Makaha."
"Take it," McGarrett gave his blessing with a wave of the hand. "Check back in later and I'll bring you up to speed on this Gruber business."
"Thanks," Williams called from across the office and ran out the door.
Smiling, shaking his head, McGarrett's amusement faded as he studied the photos in the paper. Taking the old prints to his office he perused the photos, reading between the lines as it were. He had accused his subordinate of jumping to lurid conclusions, but he was embarrassed to admit the beautiful (could he think that about Danno's mother!!!) Mrs. Williams' body language was unmistakable while she was dancing with Gruber. As was Daniel Williams' expression obvious -- the short, curly-haired man that looked alarmingly like Danno seemed ready to tear Gruber apart limb by limb.
If this was photographic evidence of an elaborate, covert act to lull Gruber into false security, it was a very believable ploy to those studying the history from nearly thirty years into the future. What had been believed by Gruber, by Daniel Williams, in 1941? And how did it affect the lives and deaths of Danno's parents? How did it affect Danno now in 1969? Whatever those answers turned out to be, it had snagged the undivided attention of Steve McGarrett, who was not shy about pressing the entire influence and force of the state police into the case. If anybody asked, he would deny any allegation of special treatment. Privately, he had to admit he was doing this out of a sense of loyalty and friendship to Danno.
No stranger to surfing the beaches of the leeward coast, Williams had rarely been to the exclusive Makaha Country Club on the dry side of Oahu. This was where he was 'requested' to come to interview Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Pryce, the couple whose condo was burglarized the night before. They had caught a glimpse of the burglar, they thought, when they came home from a banquet at the golf course clubhouse.
Taking the statements, Williams was sure they had indeed seen the tricky thief who had been very busy for the last two weeks. This was the third hit on this coast and Williams could detect a pattern here. Each hit was after a function at the golf course. Encouraged, he assigned one of the HPD detectives to go over employees at the golf course and see if anyone, any shift, matched the description. On his way to the club house, Dan paused, studying the grounds. His mind drifted to three decades before. Because of their covert jobs his parents had moved in these circles -- rich, powerful, influential, and famous -- a level of society he had never touched and never would. They had, however, made an attempt at a normal life -- living in a quiet suburb instead of pricey Diamond Head or Manoa. They had tried to give him a normal life with Uncle Jim and the little house by Aiea.
Long sublimated questions haunted him now. What were his parents doing with Gruber? What had they been like? For the first time in his life he wanted answers to those questions. With the cloud of suspicion hanging over their heads he needed to know.
The gunshots plunked into the Five-0 LTD before he could respond. Instinct drove him back toward a ditch in front of the sedan. The blast of the exploding car threw him into the dirt, rolling down the slight, tree-lined dirt area as hot metal and flaming debris showered his body.
When Jenny burst into his private office McGarrett jumped, startled at the surprise. Within that same instant he knew there was something desperately wrong. Her pale face, the urgency of her lined countenance, the taut grip on the door knob attested to bad news.
"Detective Kokua just called from Makaha Country Club. There's been shooting. And a car explosion." McGarrett was on his feet. "Danny's been hurt."
McGarrett was already jogging out the door.
Coursing through the fire trucks, the ambulance, the squad cars and curious spectators, McGarrett finally spotted his shaken officer. Williams sat on a stretcher, arguing with a medic. Assessing as he approached, Steve saw there were some bloody rips in Danno's white shirt, dirt and scrapes on the face, but was relieved Williams was well enough to be sitting up and stubbornly debating with the medics. Expecting worse, McGarrett's flash of relief quickly shifted to anger at a second attack on his officer. This investigation was turning deadly and he had to find a way to turn the tide in their favor.
"Danno, you okay?"
Williams was startled at the arrival. "Steve! You didn't have to come out here on this." He glared at the attendant and jumped off the gurney. He swayed slightly and McGarrett had his arm in a tight grip before the attendant could assist. "I'm just a little banged up. Nothing serious." He started to move off but McGarrett held him in place.
"We'll let a doctor confirm that. What happened?"
Quickly relaying the incident, Williams reluctantly admitted he had seen no one and had no clues to offer. Only suspicion, he finished darkly. McGarrett promised to work on that angle while Williams took a quick trip to the hospital. The stern command was not to be ignored and Danny submitted to the cautious command. The boss gave him no choice, demanding to personally drive the injured detective.
That evening when McGarrett pulled up at Dan's apartment the young officer was still a little shaky. No surprise. Two bomb attacks in two days would unsettle anyone. Williams had left the hospital against doctor's wishes for the young man to stay overnight. The boss was feeling a little sensitive about the detective's safety. Escorting the detective up to his apartment, McGarrett insisted on waiting -- making sure Danno was okay-- until some relief officers arrived. Steve had offered to stay himself, or have Williams stay at his place -- both options declined by the young officer. McGarrett, however, insisted that some HPD officers stay watch outside the building.
Stepping inside, Williams stopped and McGarrett bumped shoulders with the frozen officer. Williams' usually neat apartment was ransacked. Silently, automatically, both officers drew their weapons and cautiously stepped further into the main room. McGarrett pointed toward the closed bedroom door. In standard procedure they flanked the door and Williams slowly turned the knob, then swiftly pushed open the door. The room was empty. Doing a fast search of the bathroom they holstered their weapons and McGarrett volunteered to call a lab team.
Standing near his bed, Williams surveyed the mess with dismay. What had the burglar been after? Immediately he thought of the most valuable items he possessed now -- his parent's belongings.
About to check the closet where he placed the jewel box, he turned to check on McGarrett. Steve's voice sounded odd . . . .
Standing behind McGarrett, Gruber held a Luger just behind McGarrett's right ear. Dan drew in a sharp breath. They had been caught cold. He must have been hiding in the kitchen. Neither of them had figured that out and the mistake could cost McGarrett's life.
"Don't try to reach for your gun." The old spy's blue ice-eyes were deadly. "I came for the evidence. Where is it?"
Looking to McGarrett, Dan read the tight, irritated expression to mean Steve was mad and stubbornly opposed to giving in. Did he have what it took to bluff an old spy like this guy and save Steve? He hoped so. "I don't know what you mean."
Gruber pushed the pistol harder and McGarrett winced. "Now. You have ten seconds."
The refusal was sharp and confident and took every one in the room by surprise. On some instinctive level Williams suddenly knew exactly how to handle this spy. Checking once more for Steve's approval -- and there was a spark of proud defiance in those blue eyes -- Dan pressed his only advantage.
"The information is damaging -- too condemning to let anyone else have it. My parents died for it, didn't they? It's our only ticket for safety now, isn't it?"
Gruber looked like he swallowed something sour. "You don't know --"
"I know the codes revealed your whole operation. What would the world think of your spy history and your fake death?"
Gruber released a smirk. "You think you are very clever, my boy. Not so much. I do this not for me, but for us. You and I together."
Williams took a careful step forward. "What are you talking about?"
"Your father did not die in the crash. Gruber died in the crash. Your mother, poor darling, and Gruber were dead. We looked so similar. I went deep undercover during the war -- "
"No." Feeling sick and faint and cold all at once Williams took another step closer. "Not you."
With his left hand Gruber gestured to the grey, wavy hair and his eyes. "We are the same."
"On December Seventh the car was fired upon. I jumped to safety. Your mother and Gruber --"
"No!" Williams looked to McGarrett for guidance, for support. Gruber had relaxed his stance slightly and McGarrett gave the slightest shake of his head. He wasn't buying it either. "My father wouldn't do that!"
"Sarah and I captured Gruber."
"I have been watching you from afar ever since."
McGarrett could take no more and finally sneered derisively, "Then why do you still speak with a German accent? And why do you look so much like Gruber from the old photos?"
"Silence!" Gruber shoved the Luger hard enough into McGarrett's neck to make the cop wince.
Throat tight with raw emotion Williams felt his insides heat with hatred. "You killed them. You murdered my parents. They were onto you and you killed them."
"Your mother. I killed your mother, I am sorry to confess, my son."
"Don't call me that!"
"Don't you see the resemblance? I knew your mother in Germany --"
"I loved her for years. But she was an American --"
"Come with me now --
Gruber pulled back the hammer on the Luger. "Very well," he gave a short spurt of mirthless laughter. "Yes, I killed Sarah and her husband. I pushed the car into a ditch, then shot holes into it. Another tragedy blamed on the Japanese that day. And there will be another tragedy for you now if you do not give me the diary."
Williams stared down the German agent. "I don't have it here."
Grabbing McGarrett, Gruber started for the door. "I will take your friend with me. In one hour I will call you and arrange a meeting place. Bring the diary or your friend is dead."
Frustrated and beside himself with anger Williams wanted to make a move for the German, but didn't dare. With the Luger pressed into Steve's neck McGarrett had no chance of escape. In helpless rage he watched as McGarrett was led out of the apartment. Dan followed, but Gruber threatened to wound McGarrett if Williams pursued them. Stopping on the steps, Williams watched as Steve, with a gun to his head, disappeared into the darkness.
When Danny returned to the Palace all was quiet, the rest of the staff at home for the night. Should he call in Chin and Kono? Would greater numbers make it easier to save Steve, or would they be more of a threat? Considering his options he raced up the steps and into McGarrett's office. Quickly searching the desk area he guessed the diary was locked inside. With his knife he reluctantly broke the lock on the long center drawer and breathed a sigh of relief at finding the diary.
Thumbing through the pages he found Steve's folded notes at the end of the book. Puzzles and codes were never very interesting to him, but he quickly saw the patterns McGarrett had deciphered. Along with the answers came the unexpected flash of unwanted memories.
Long buried, images winked into his mind as he remembered the Hibiscus and Plumeria bushes in the back yard of the Aiea house. Hibiscus. His mother thought they were the most important flowers in the garden. Why could he recall that? Why couldn't he remember other details? And what did it mean? No, he gasped, sinking into the chair as memories flooded in. She had pressed Hibiscus flowers into the diary. And into the jewelry box. How could flowers be important?
Grabbing all the notes and the book he rushed out of the office and back to his apartment. Throwing scattered belongings aside he went to the back of the closet and dug out his mother's jewelry box. Apparently Gruber had not had time to search his closet because it was still inside his uncle's old trunk.
Yes, inside were the pressed Hibiscus and Plumeria flowers that had been inside the diary. And there was the locket with the Hibiscus painted so delicately on the enamel of one of the necklaces. Beside himself with frustration he knew he literally held the secret to the whole mystery right here in his hands. Why couldn't he find it? He ran his fingers over the painted Hibiscus painted on the lid of the wooden box.
Looking inside, he searched the contents again: the locket, the diary, and the dried flower. Touching the petals on the inside of the lid, he realized they were coated with something -- glue maybe -- to keep them intact. He closed the box, then opened it again, checking the dried flower again. Underneath the stems it was lumpy --
Carefully he peeled back the dark felt lining. Diary pages! He slipped the old pages out and read the now-familiar small writing in his mother's hand. Times and dates documenting Gruber's movements on December Fifth and Sixth of Nineteen Forty One. This was the proof! They had been staring at it for days! His uncle had buried it, literally, for years! And this information would save Steve's life.
The phone rang and Dan grabbed it.
"Meet at the end of Ala Moana Park. Come alone. I will see any others. Leave now, on foot." The connection was broken.
There wasn't time to have the pages copied so Dan quickly secreted the pages back into the lid of the jewelry box. He didn't want to have those on him at the meet. Just in case -- no -- he wasn't going to let anything happen. Not to Steve and not to himself. The murderer of his parents would not get away with any more cruelty in his life.
Pocketing the diary he jogged downstairs to his car and locked the jewelry box in the trunk. Then he jogged across the busy Ala Moana Boulevard -- which was almost as busy as usual even at this late hour -- and across the long park. The tip of the park extended past boat docks and to a breakwater that formed the western end of Waikiki. It was a great place to assure they were alone. But how did Gruber hope to escape? Water on three sides, there was no where to go but back through the park. Well, this guy was a crafty spy for thirty-five or forty years -- he would certainly have something up his sleeve. Danny hoped two Five-0 cops could match the cunning.
Clearing the trees of the park and running onto the breakwater, Williams spotted two silhouettes against the moonlit ocean. He slowed to a walk and approached carefully. McGarrett had his hands restrained behind him, the Luger at his throat.
"That's far enough," the spy commanded when Dan was about ten feet from them. "Drop your weapon."
Obeying the order, Dan noted McGarrett was held close to the German -- little possibility of escape. Williams gave him a nod, which was returned. In the dim light it was impossible to see any expressions, but Williams instinctively sensed McGarrett was cool and ready for anything.
"You brought the evidence?"
With his left hand Dan patted his jacket pocket. "My mother's diary, is that what you mean? It doesn't mention you at all. What's in it? Why is it dangerous to you now after all these years?"
"Your mother was very clever," Gruber responded almost wistfully. "She was quite the spy." His tone turned hard and vicious.
"She must have been," McGarrett responded, "She caught you cold. Before the attack, didn't she? That's why you had to kill her and Daniel Williams."
Gruber glanced at his captive, but then stared at Danny. "I didn't want to."
"But you did,'" Williams breathed sharply.
"I had no choice. They were going to expose my identity as an agent for Germany. Now throw me the book and I will release your friend."
Unable to see Steve's expression, Williams had to make the decision on his own. Give in to the demands and hope the murderer kept his word? It was a dangerous gamble, but there seemed no choice. Should have never come alone, he agonized fleetingly. Should have had back up. But he couldn't take the chance of endangering McGarrett. Now he had no option but to play Gruber's game. Slowly he removed the diary from his pocket and tossed it onto the rocks a few feet in front of the spy.
Keeping the weapon trained on the Five-0 leader, Gruber pushed McGarrett away and retrieved the diary. Sadly he shook his head. "I've regretted killing your mother for all these years. But at least I spared you, my son."
"I am not your son!"
Gruber pointed the Luger at Williams. "The opportunity is mine to kill you now. But I cannot. Doesn't that prove my feelings for you, my child?"
Angry, disillusioned, Dan wanted to scream in frustration at the mind games the spy was playing. Glancing at McGarrett, he was close enough now to see his friend's solid expression of trust. Steve still expected him to get them out of this -- still relied on him to act like a cop and not an emotional kid. Gruber's whole life was built on lies. He couldn't let the lies get to him.
"Why are you doing this?"
McGarrett sat up, struggling to his knees while his hands were still bound behind his back. "To keep you silent." He spoke to his officer but stared at the German. "Killing two policemen would be harder to conceal than killing your parents. If he acquires your loyalty then he's hoping we won't reveal everything. At least until you get a chance to leave the country, right Gruber?"
The older man smiled with a nod of appreciation. "You are too clever for your own good, McGarrett." He pointed the gun at the downed cop. "What am I to do with you now?"
Temper flared, Williams could not contain his livid anger at the murderer who could easily kill them, too. He rushed forward, lunging at Gruber. McGarrett kicked Gruber's feet out from under him. The Luger discharged as Williams tackled the man, the momentum tumbling them down the rocky breakwater and into the splashing surf.
McGarrett struggled to his feet and watched helplessly as Williams and the German disappeared into the dark ocean. Moments later a breathless Danny burst out of the water -- alone. Gasping for air he plunged down several times and returned to the surface without his catch. Steve scrambled down to the surf line and crouched down to peer into the sea.
The next time Williams emerged, Steve admonished, "Danno! Enough! It's been too long. He's gone."
"It's not very deep here," Danny countered, gulping in air. "I can find him."
"Not in the dark, Danno. Let it go." His voice was quietly intense. "Let it go. In the morning we'll get a crew out here."
Reluctantly Dan climbed onto the rocks and sat there catching his breath, looking into the deep water just off the break. After Steve ruefully reminded that he was still bound by his own cuffs, Dan unlocked the handcuffs and once more turned to the dark, satiny ocean.
"If he's drowned then I guess it's some kind of justice, Steve, but I didn't want it to end like this." He rubbed the water out of his wet hair. "If he's dead then there are no answers. And no diary to prove my parents were innocent. Like the rest of my heritage -- washed away with the tide." He looked up at his friend. "He WAS lying, right? You don't think he really was my father, do you?"
"No," McGarrett assured absolutely. "Take another look at the old photos, Danno. Your resemblance to your father and your uncle are unmistakable." Standing up he tugged at the younger man's arm and urged him to start back toward civilization. He stopped abruptly and picked something off the rocks. "And I don't think you have anything to worry about." He handed William the battered old diary. "Looks like your heritage, and your future, are intact."
In the early morning hours, when dawn was a glowing promise of a new day, McGarrett and Danny sat at the long table in Steve's office going over the diary. Detailing his notes, Steve reviewed his hypothesis of the spy codes and the activities of Daniel and Sarah Williams. It all seemed to fit together, but there was no way to be sure after all this time. Except maybe one last avenue of information.
Dan placed a call to the east coast. When he got his aunt on the line he explained the discovery of the diary, the encounter with Gruber, and the mystery of the codes. From the diary he read several passages to her. Putting the call on the speaker for Steve to hear, Dan asked his aunt to fill in the blanks for him.
"It was a long time ago, Danny," Clara Williams began reluctantly. "After all this grief you've been through you deserve more. I wish I could help you. Daniel and Sarah used an old code that a few of us knew and at this late date I can only guess what it meant. The Hibiscus probably symbolized Daniel, your father. The Gardenia, as your superior inferred, was Gruber. The Chinese Lantern must have stood for the Japanese. The Plumeria, I'm sure, was for you, Danny."
Sarah's concern for her son seemed evident. Even in coded documentation she was thinking of Danny's safety all along. James was probably assigned to protect Danny and himself, but James never turned in the evidence apparently, or never read it. There had to be so much confusion and grief that day so long ago. Instead of searching the belongings James had packed them away. Or perhaps, in protest of the family involvement in espionage, he simply stored them away. Since he was gone now, too, they would never know for sure.
"What about Gruber --" he began hoarsely, "-- Gruber and my mother?"
"Don't believe everything you hear from a spy," she snapped back firmly. "That's certainly something I can vouch for, Danny. Your parents loved each other -- and you -- very much. They were good operatives, real patriots to sacrifice their home life for their country. Trust me about that."
"Thanks, Aunt Clara."
"Does this mean your parents can be cleared of treason?"
Danny looked to McGarrett, who gave a nod of affirmation. "I think so, Aunt Clara. I think we have enough information to straighten out the whole mess with Gruber. I wouldn't take it to court, but it might be good enough for the intelligence types."
"Count on that," McGarrett promised with grim resolve.
"Aunt Clara, I know you never came here because of the bad memories. Do you think you'll come out to Hawaii now?"
"I'd like that very much, Danny. When I'm not so busy. Remember, I have my theater group touring in Europe --"
Danny drew in a sharp breath. "You're not still spying, are you Aunt Clara?"
"Who said anything like that, Danny?" The impish tone clear in her voice.
Williams looked at McGarrett and shook his head. "I don't want to know."
Under the circumstances it would be inappropriate to smile, but McGarrett DID feel a glow of satisfaction that his hunch was completely on target. After checking Danny's apartment and favorite beach, Steve reflected and came up with this location as the most probable spot to find his errant friend.
Honolulu docks. Standing on the Ewa side of the quay, Williams was staring toward Pearl Harbor. The spot he had stood twenty-seven years ago as he watched the bombs fall on a crumbling world.
"I talked to the NSA guys. You've been cleared for security work, Danno." Williams gave him a nod. McGarrett followed the gaze, across the water, to the white memorial.
"It seems like so long ago," Williams sighed. "I had no idea what was going on. It seemed like exciting war games with the planes and the explosions."
McGarrett stared at his friend. "What about now?" That's what he was worried about. The past was over, but what did all these revelations do to the detective of today? There had been no big blow-out, no emotional catharsis of the Williams' amazing history. Maybe such dramatic demonstrations were beyond the touch of the years. Danno had been so young when his life had changed, maybe the old family skeletons were buried too deeply to affect Dan now. "How are you doing?"
"Still a little stunned, I guess," he shrugged. After a moment he surrendered a lopsided smile. "It's so much to take in. But it really doesn't change anything, does it? I had a good childhood -- a good life -- surrounded by people who cared about me. I wish my parents could have been a bigger part of that . . . ." He shook his head. "But I think it turned out okay anyway." He glanced up at McGarrett. "If I can stay on the team, that is."
Trying not to show too much of the relief he felt, McGarrett clapped his friend on the shoulder. "I wouldn't have it any other way, Officer Williams. Now what do you say we go catch some criminals?"
"Hey, what about that assignment watching Syd? My background should be cleared. I was looking forward to a week on the beach!"
"Some guys have all the luck."
They walked back toward the cars together. Williams drove away and for a moment Steve McGarrett stood on the dock, gazing across the water at the military base of Pearl Harbor. It had been an earth-shattering event for the world, and for someone close to him now. He was glad some wounds could heal with barely visible scars -- on the outside as well as the inside.