If you go chasing something hard enough to catch it, you better figure out what happens when you do.
Kono dug the toe of her boot into the back of the latest jerk's knee before snapping the cuffs on his wrists, then levered him to his feet. She mirandized him by rote, like a Catholic reciting the Lord's Prayer. He was already whining about police brutality. She wanted to tell him he was lucky she'd tackled him and not the boss, but didn't. No use encouraging the idea Five-O got rough with suspects. It was true more often than it should have been and she had a bad feeling that it was giving Danny an incipient ulcer. She knew he went through a roll of Rolaids while doing the paper work after every bust. Another law suit might be all it took to send him back to the doctors again.
At least he wasn't popping pain pills for his knee any more.
"Do you understand these rights as they have been explained to you?" she asked.
"Here," she said to an HPD officer who likely had five years seniority over her. "You heard him."
The other one was already being led away, which meant she could finally go over and see exactly what these morons had been willing to have a firefight over.
Of course, the boss and Danny were already at the pile of crates, opening up one. She caught the sound of Danny's voice. "Well, what are you waiting for? A warrant? I know you know what those are, though you've never evinced any interest in waiting to obtain one."
"Evinced." Danny's voice carried, drawing smirking attention from several of the cops beginning the clean up. Someone had to police the scene, document the damage and where every spent cartridge from the firefight had fallen. Kono was lucky it wouldn't be her. She'd be busy filling out the forms required after discharging her weapon. That was bad enough. "I have a vocabulary."
"Ergo you use it," Steve teased.
"You're a very annoying individual. Now be careful. I don't want to be blown up by whatever these idiots were bringing through here." The skylights were filthy, but let in enough light to gild Danny's hair where the sun had bleached streaks into the blond. His Kevlar vest had twisted his tie to the side and the muggy heat in the warehouse along with leftover adrenaline from the bust had his face slightly flushed, but his hair remained gelled in place. Despite his words, he bent closer to the crate, as obviously eager to see the contents as Steve.
She caught Chin's eye where he was talking with Sgt. Lukela. Chin finished his conversation and they both zeroed in on Danny and Steve as Steve levered the lid off one crate. Kono took a second to herself to admire the muscles in his forearms and his biceps as Steve worked the crowbar. The lower parts of his tattoos flashed as the sleeve of Steve's t-shirt worked up. The nails holding the raw wood lid came free with a protesting screech that made her and everyone else wince as Steve gave it some muscle. She spotted one of the nails hit the dirty, oil-stained floor and roll away. Danny scowled and protested, "Are you trying to put someone's eye out? Try be a little more careful – "
Kono found herself wondering what they'd find inside. Depending on what it was and where it came from, seizure laws might let Five-O keep it. The armory already had an array of high tech toys the boss sweet talked the Governor into getting through his military contacts, but there was always room for more. The crates in this warehouse were just like big Christmas presents to anyone who liked guns – and Kono loved a fine weapon the same way she did a good board – because who knew what might be inside: bazookas, detonators, shoulder-fired missiles, knock-off Chinese AK-47s, ammo, stolen Predator drone parts...
Beside Steve, Danny forgot his complaint as he peered into the crate expectantly. Kono watched him reach past Steve and stir the contents, sawdust sifting over the edge of the crate to hit the concrete. The scent mixed with the lingering reek of cordite and whatever else had been stored in the warehouse previously, only sharp and pleasant by comparison.
Danny's expression pinched swiftly into an annoyed frown. Kono hurried her steps, not wanting to miss the next installment of the Danny Show. Danny didn't disappoint her.
"Is that velvet?" Danny demanded, his voice pitching into outrage.
The crowbar set aside, now Steve was scowling at the crate's contents too. Kono couldn't wait to see what it was. Chin had caught up with her and they both arrived in time to see Steve lift a small bag that definitely appeared to be made of royal blue velvet from the crate. Flakes of sawdust clung to it, then pattered to the concrete as he opened it.
"So, what kind of guns – ?" Chin asked as he joined them, only to stop as he spotted the incongruous fabric.
Kono went up on her toes to see better over Chin's shoulder. "Velvet?" she repeated, her voice squeaking with excitement. There were more tiny bags in the crate, as well as larger cases and presentation boxes that looked like artwork in themselves. None of them appeared to have anything to do with arms. Kono wondered if they'd busted the loot from a jewelry heist. Maybe it was going to be stolen gems! She imagined a crate full of cut diamonds, then realized from Steve's smirk that she'd squeaked. Damn it, they gave her enough shit over being a rookie, now there would be no end of it.
Danny snagged the bag away from Steve.
Danny opened the bag and dropped something into his palm. "Hunh." He held it up for the rest of the team to study. "It's Asian, but that's about all I could guess, along with, you know, old."
Kono didn't recognize what it was. She saw Steve squinting at it too. It was elliptical, with three openings, one in the center and two smaller ones flanking it. Age stained the metal dark, but the etched steel showed an almost wooden grain. It looked like it had been buried once. She thought it was worked steel or iron and seemed to be a part of something not complete in itself. She could make out hammer work on the side facing them and, when Danny flipped it over, it revealed a design in low relief.
Chin held out his hand and Danny passed it over, then dug out another bag and another of the objects.
"You know what these are?" Danny asked.
Chin pointed to the etching. "This is mokume hada."
Kono recognized the words were Japanese, which made some sense: the design appeared Asian in style. She only spoke a few words of Island Japanese though and didn't recognize what Chin had said. It was just like her cousin to speak another language and never even mention it. Chin took an unholy glee in always surprising the team and then acting like it was nothing. Kono thought he should at least let her in on the jokes.
"Okay," Danny drawled, faking patience badly. "So that's something mokimi whatever. What is it?"
Chin looked up, his frown not really aimed at them, and answered, "It's a tsuba. Grain of wood – mokume hada – is a fourteenth-century technique."
Danny frowned and Kono frowned too, not recognizing that word either and annoyed. Chin was, in his expressionless, sneaky way, showing off again.
"If it's fourteenth century, then it's very likely either a stolen or looted artifact," Steve said.
"Like the shit that got looted in Iraq?" Danny asked.
"And is still," Steve agreed. He scowled at the crate like it was responsible for the massive looting inflicted on archaeological sites across Iraq in the aftermath of the US invasion.
"There are several standard pipelines antiquities are moved through," Chin murmured. He handed the tsuba back to Danny, who replaced it in the bag. "This is entirely different."
"We need to find out their ultimate destination and where they came from so they can be returned," Steve declared.
Kono winced, anticipating long, long hours in front of a computer for herself.
"Fourteenth century. You know, I'm not even going to ask how you know that. Instead, again, can I ask, what the hell is it?"
"Yeah, cuz," Kono agreed. She eyed the crate. Someone would have to catalog its entire contents. She had a sinking feeling she knew who it would be unless she could plead that it needed to be Chin because he'd know what he was listing. "Sounds like you're the expert."
Chin gave her a dark look that said he knew exactly what she was doing.
Her best efforts didn't save her from at least part of the grunt work. Kono ended up manning a laptop, while Chin and an expert recruited from U of H unpacked each crate piece by piece, taking digital photos and dictating to Kono as they inventoried. From the way Dr. 'Call-Me-Renee' Ames stood close to Chin and joked with him, Kono figured she was someone Chin had dated, was dating, or would some day be dating. They kept the flirting low key enough she didn't have to mime gagging at Chin more than once and Renee forgot all about it once she saw what they were unpacking.
"My God, my God, this is... I can't believe this," Renee muttered as Chin opened another box. She snapped a picture of the item in the case and then both sides of it as Chin picked it up reverently.
Kono glanced over with her fingers still on the keys. That touch-typing class her mother once insisted on had proved to be more than worthwhile. Also, it frustrated Danny just watching her type without looking. It had come easy, after all; she'd always been at ease with her body and typing was weirdly physical to her. Keyboards were just another kind of board in her head, and like a surfboard, once she got used to one, she owned it.
Light caught and twisted over the blade and even from where she sat, Kono could see it was beautiful. Ageless in its simplicity and deadly purpose. Part of her understood why someone would want to possess it.
Renee cleared her throat.
"Kozuka knife. Dark handle; shibuichi engraved with... " She leaned closer and whipped a small, lit magnifying glass out to study the blade. " ... Hotei . Blade carved with a blossoming plum branch. – I'm sure I've seen this in a museum catalog."
Kono typed in the description. She'd already memorized most of the terms Renee kept throwing out, but had to confirm on names. "Hotei," she called. "H, O, T, E, I?"
"We suspect this shipment was stolen from one because of the packaging," Chin murmured.
Renee looked at the case with wide eyes. "Oh. Of course. Looted items wouldn't have custom made presentation boxes."
The kozuka knife went back in its case and Chin placed it on a large table HPD had brought in for them. Eventually, everything would have to re-crated and moved to the evidence lock up until the case was concluded with a trial. Maybe, if they were lucky and uncovered where all of it belonged, it would go back afterward. Kono had a hunch it would, because Renee would not let this drop now that she was involved – she had a certain bulldog quality about her that actually reminded Kono of Danny, enough that she wondered if it was a haole trait; she was short too – otherwise the treasure might languish in an evidence locker for decades if unclaimed. Or be sold at an evidence auction. Her lips twitched as she imagined Renee's horror.
"Kozuka. Silver-engraved with tiger motif on front, and one edge. Signed by Soyo."
Kono typed, Chin unboxed, and Renee photographed.
"Kozuka. Gomane, copper, in the shape of a dried sardine. Gold gills, fin and tail of silver. Hamano Masayuki."
Kono glanced up. It was shaped like a fish, with the mouth open and the body as a hilt. She didn't actually like it as much as some others, but ignorant as she was, she could see it was amazing work.
Chin fished another bag out of a crate.
"Namban tsuba," Renee said. "Shakudo, movable ball, pierced, with scrolls and dragons."
"Nata, probably Chinese, heavy blade, quite rough compared to the other pieces here. Engraved with a dragon. Tsuba, iron, the thousand monkeys motif. Oh... "
Chin unrolled a heavy square of fabric, a small banner that would have been carried into battle. The colors remained rich.
"Sashimono, chrysanthemum mon, yellow on white. Seventeenth century," Renee murmured. Kono imagined it hoisted high over a rider at the head of an army pouring across a field. Like something from a Kurosawa film or Red Cliff.
The warehouse had no air-conditioning and even with the main doors pulled open there wasn't enough ventilation. Sweat slid down Kono's spine. She wanted a shower or a swim – a swim would be better, loosening up muscles gone stiff sitting at the laptop – once they were finished. Renee had that pale, pale haole skin that didn't tan; she'd gone really pink in the face, but didn't seem bothered, and Chin, of course, wasn't even sweating. Kono sometimes suspected her cousin was a really advanced android or something or would have if she didn't remember him as a teenager. She'd never even seen him out of breath. It was more than a little annoying. Even Steve sweated, after all.
Chin sucked in a deep breath. "Kono, look at this," he murmured, sounding impressed.
It was a sword in its scabbard. Chin drew it out and turned his wrist so the light ran along the slow curve and bright edge of watered steel. It looked natural in Chin's hand as he held it up.
"Wow," Kono said.
Chin moved through a basic figure with it.
"Amazing," he murmured. "The balance is so perfect I don't feel the weight."
Renee was nodding.
"It's a court blade, but still as much a working tool as a display piece. This is not loot, Chin, someone is missing these pieces."
Renee examined the sword and then the scabbard. "Tachi, obviously," she said. "Eighteenth century, pristine condition. I don't see a signature. Not every blade has one. Hmm. Kabuto gane. Shakudo and nanako mountings, gold crests which I don't recognize, but my area of expertise is several centuries previous."
Kono hurriedly entered Renee's description. Renee turned her attention to the scabbard after photographing the tachi.
"I'm a little ashamed of how much fun I'm having right now," she remarked. "I don't get to actually handle objects like this too often."
Chin smiled at her. "We understand."
Kono looked up and smirked at him. They certainly did. After all, when they'd made the bust, they'd been hoping to find some arms dealer's toys they'd get to play with after they were confiscated. Even Danny succumbed to the love of high-tech armament sometimes, though he sneered at Steve's Desert Eagle regularly, muttering, "Compensating, Commander," under his breath for Kono to hear every time he saw it.
"The scabbard is shell lacquer with matching crests."
Nothing else was as striking as the tachi, but everything had to be recorded. They went through three more crates and the light outside the warehouse door had changed into the deeper shades of impending sunset before they finished. Two halogen spotlights on tripods provided working light inside. Kono's back ached and her knee felt stiff. She'd stopped wanting a cool swim and now wanted a hot shower to loosen up and get the sweat and grit of the day off.
Even Chin looked mussed. Sawdust curls were stuck to his shirt and there were even a couple in his hair. Kono surreptitiously got a picture with her smartphone.
Renee saw and grinned at her but said nothing, just pushed her heat-lank brown hair off her forehead and went to switch off one of the halogens. "There. Damn things are so hot and then if you jostle them, the bulb blows every time," she remarked.
Chin switched off the second spotlight, dropping the warehouse interior back to the dim ambient illumination provided by the open doors and a dirty skylight. He stretched and rocked to loosen the muscles in his back before turning to Renee.
"So, what do you think?"
"I think you should take the photographs and inventory to the Japanese Consulate-General tomorrow. With a few exceptions everything we saw was from Japan and I'd give odds they'll have a cultural expert who can put you in touch with whoever lost these items," Renee answered promptly. "I haven't heard anything about a major art theft, but it's not like I know much about the criminal underworld." She grinned cheekily. "You're my only 'police' contact."
"I'll check with Interpol when we get back to HQ," Kono added.
"The Japanese have a lot on their minds," Chin speculated. "This theft might not have generated a report with them."
Kono shrugged. They still had to check. The State Department and the FBI would have data on international art thefts, too. She'd be the one checking those as well, while Chin hit up the consulate. Unless Danny and Steve took that job. Oh, to be a fly on the wall if they were the ones who went knocking at the door at 1742 Nuuanu Avenue...
"Even if they don't know about it, the consulate will have someone willing to trace back where this shipment came from," Renee insisted.
"All right," Chin said with a slow smile. "I owe you dinner for this, don't I?"
Renee grinned at him. "Tomorrow night. I want surf and turf. And cheesecake." That grin said Chin would be providing the beefcake too, if Kono wasn't imagining things. Which she wasn't.
"Absolutely," Chin agreed.
Kono rolled her eyes. Out of her three male co-workers, Chin was the one who deserved to be called Smooth Dog as far as she was concerned. She supposed she needed to look at the bright side. At least he wasn't still mooning over Malia, so things were looking up for her cousin.
Just as Kono had predicted to herself, Chin got the assignment to visit the Japanese Consulate and she got the job of checking identities and backgrounds on the bad guys they'd picked at the warehouse bust. Steve and Danny headed for HPD itself to do a little tag-team interrogation of those same guys – at least the ones who weren't still in the hospital. She would have liked to watch through the observation window, but could predict the dynamic they'd take by now anyway: Steve would be bad cop, tall and crazy, while Danny played to it as the 'sorry, I can't stop him', by-the-book good cop. It worked really well; even the most legally savvy criminals realized that Steve just didn't give a damn about the rules.
She took a certain gleeful delight in coming up with the most useful lead of the day thanks to her hours at the computer and talking to various vice and narcotics detectives over the islands. (Sometimes everyone acted like the Honolulu Police Department's people were the only law enforcement officers in Hawaii.) She even had a nice conversation with a local FBI agent working on Organized Crime.
"Background check on Makoto and Ito turned up an interesting employment history," she reported as the team lounged in Steve's office, steadily scarfing up the take-out Chin had brought back with him.
"Like?" Danny asked after swallowing. Danny had manners. She thought it came from watching himself so he didn't pass any bad habits on to Grace. Either that or his mom had made him learn them early. "Because I gotta tell you, these guys are hardcore for a bunch of punks. The Italians back in Jersey could take a lesson in omerta from them. Nothing's making them talk, not even Captain Intimidating and, believe me, he tried, right down to threatening to feed them to some sharks."
"Not that surprising. Italians don't have to cut off a finger if they screw up," she said.
Danny scowled before flopping back on Steve's couch and cursing. "Fucking Yakuza?"
"Danny – "
Danny waved his hand at Steve to shut up, while Kono laughed and Chin coughed. "Come on, Kono's a big girl. She's heard the word."
Kono stretched out her legs and kicked Danny's foot.
"I've even done it," she said sweetly.
Chin groaned and covered his face with one hand. "I don't want to hear about it, cuz! Please!"
Steve looked – oh, god, it was true, Danny was right, he did have a 'constipation face' – like he wanted to stick his fingers in his ears and chant la-la-la-not-hearing-you! Kono sat back with a secret smile, satisfied she'd put them in their place for treating her like a 'girl'.
Now she could drop the next bomb.
"Yeah, both of them have been drawing paychecks from Blue Parrot Import Export down at the docks. Blue Parrot is owned by a shell company that I traced back YIG, which stands for Yamato Investment Group, a non-publicly traded fund that is actually controlled by Hiro Noshimuri," she told them.
"Noshimuri," Steve said.
"It's vague, but it's a connection."
"Good job," Chin murmured to her.
Kono smiled with real pleasure.
Danny kicked her shoe. "What else?"
Kono curled her legs back where he couldn't reach. "Why would there be an 'else'?"
"Because you still look like the cat that got the canary and the cream."
When had Danny learned to read her so well?
"Well, I did a little digging and found out that on seven previous occasions Lorelei Trucking has been hired to transfer shipments from that particular warehouse to an art gallery/auction house downtown."
Danny crumpled the wrapper from his sandwich, wiped his mouth with a napkin and lofted both into Steve's trashcan with a sweet overhand that would have looked natural on a basketball player.
"Okay, I say we go check this place out next."
"Where is it?" Steve asked as they all headed out.
"I get to come?" Kono asked.
"It's your lead, rookie," Danny said.
She grinned and bounced a little, hoping no one saw it.
"Li, Otis and Bertrand. Downtown."
Li, Otis and Bertrand specialized in auctions and Asian art objects, but had gallery devoted to Pre-Colombian art attached, along with a room filled with Middle Eastern, African, and European pieces. None of the owners were on site when Five-O walked through the front doors. The receptionist took them back to the Pre-Colombian annex and turned them over to the senior employee, Lillian Harris. Their shoes were silent on the sand-shaded carpet. Money hadn't been spared on the gallery's design, letting them move from the brilliance of the window lit outer rooms into the artificially-lit interior areas without any discomfort. A variety of vases sported a fortune in fresh floral arrangements spaced around the room and the soft whisper of air-conditioning mingled with the faint strains of Bach played just softly enough to counter any uncomfortable silence.
The instant they stepped through the doors, Kono felt under-dressed in her tank top and jeans. She straightened her shoulders. The receptionist might be wearing a dress that cost as much as Kono made in a month – the kind Danny's ex-wife wore – but Kono's job meant something.
She reminded herself to not get defensive. This place reeked of money and there had been fundraisers for the Governor's last campaign held in the gallery portion of the business. Five-O needed to tread carefully and not make enemies here. It occurred to Kono abruptly that if Jameson lost the office, the Task Force's full immunity and means might disappear overnight and her job too. She gritted her teeth. She did not want go back into the HPD and the sort of mind-numbing uniform duty rookies were assigned.
Harris turned out to be as Anglo-Saxon as her name, a graying, gracefully aging blonde woman dressed in a Chanel suit that had been chic ten years ago and would still be in another ten years. Kono didn't actually covet it any more than she did the perfectly tasteful pearls and gold jewelry Harris wore to accessorize, but she recognized quality when she saw it.
The first thing Harris did was set aside her phone. The second was to smile at Steve, proving she had a knack for picking out who was in charge, and offer him her hand. She shook hands with Danny, Chin and then Kono afterward. Kono thought she was probably very good at persuading people to part with obscene amounts of money.
"We were hoping someone here could help us out," Danny said, which wasn't a lie, just not really honest about what kind of help Five-O wanted.
"Of course. If it's expertise in Asian works, I'm rather useless," Harris answered. "Michel hired me because I'm a Pre-Colombian expert and he needed one. Of course, everything on display here has a file with it's provenance and there's usually quite of bit of context there, but I couldn't evaluate any objects. Michel usually handles that."
"And where is Mr. Bertrand?" Chin asked.
Harris chuckled. "That's what he calls it. I call it hitting on girls half his age, but not to him."
Kono examined a case full of pots while Chin prowled further into the annex. There were no prices anywhere, any more than there were any smudges of fingerprints on the heavy glass. Probably another case of if you have to ask...
She studied the way Chin was flicking his dark gaze over everything, evaluating and probably memorizing everything about the gallery. He had on his usual long-sleeved Henley, this one a sort of dark maroon color, and wasn't much more formally dressed than Steve in his t-shirt and cargos, certainly not as much as Danny in his dress shirt, suit pants and tie, but out of all of them, Chin looked the most natural in the high-end gallery. Kono envied his bone-deep self-assurance, much the way she envied and tried to emulate Steve's kick-ass-and-take-names determination and Danny's dedication and integrity.
"What about Otis or Li?" Steve asked. "Are either of them available?"
Harris shook her head. Not a hair in her smooth, up-swept chignon shifted.
"Mr. Otis sold out almost thirty years ago and Mr. Li passed in 2004. Michel kept their names out of respect and, frankly, because clients prefer the sense of continuity that comes with patronizing a business that has a history. Changing the name would be upsetting to many of them." Her carefully lipsticked mouth pursed into an amused moue.
Translation, it let Bertrand keep a lower profile, Kono decided, if he was involved in the blackmarket side of the art and antiquities trade. Since Chin's expert at the University had made it clear the legal and illegal were inextricably twined with each other in that regard, it was a sure bet Bertrand had something to hide.
"How long have you been with the gallery, Ms. Harris?" Steve asked. He took a step into her personal space. It wasn't that he was trying to be intimidating, but the thread of impatience in his voice just always did the trick combined with his looming height.
At least with most people.
It didn't work on Danny or Chin. No one intimidated Chin, who could don a mask as expressionless as of one of those Mayan masks on the gallery's walls, and Danny was a dynamo. Nothing intimidated Danny except his ex-wife's lawyer's or Grace's tears.
It didn't work on Lillian Harris either.
She gave Steve a minatory look of the sort mother's gave naughty boys with just a touch of 'back off, bub' in the mix and waited until Steve actually stepped back. Kono was impressed despite herself. Under the careful jaw-tuck and the pearls, Lillian Harris had steel.
"Twenty-one years, if I count my college internship," she replied. She wore a pair of half-glasses on a gold chain that matched the rest of her jewelry and placed them on her nose to peer more closely at Steve. Steve didn't squirm, but Kono would have bet he wanted to and only all that training at Annapolis kept him still. "Did you say your name was McGarrett?"
Steve nodded. Danny leaned in a little, looking interested, and Chin turned toward them, making no bones about listening too.
"You have your mother's eyes," Harris declared with some satisfaction.
"Excuse me, what?" Danny exclaimed.
Harris ignored him and smiled at Steve. Steve did too.
"You knew my mother?" he asked.
"Eileen worked here part time while I was doing my college internship."
Steve must not have known. He looked a little stunned, the way he always did when something from his past – or, more accurately, his father's past – came to light. Kono tended to agree with Danny. There had been something dysfunctional in the McGarrett family that went deeper than John McGarrett sending both his children away after his wife's death. It wasn't the Navy that had messed him up. Mary was even worse, after all. Steve couldn't see it, he was too close, but everyone else couldn't miss it.
He glanced around the gallery with his brows pulled together in a confused frown. "She worked here? I don't remember that."
"Oh, not here. Michel relocated to this building ten years ago because we needed more storage." Harris gave Steve a look like she suspected he'd been dropped on his head as a baby.
"I knew she had a part time job after Mary started school...," Steve murmured, abstracted by his memories, "...but I'd forgotten." His frown deepened. "My father wasn't happy about it."
Harris laughed humorously.
"That would be an understatement. But I'm not surprised you've forgotten. Teenagers are notoriously self-involved, after all, and then Eileen died so tragically, so you must have spent all your time with your father."
Kono twitched and then made herself hide the thought that had just spun through her mind behind a bland smile. When she slid her gaze to her cousin, she saw something hiding behind his non-expression too, given away by how closely he was listening to Harris now. John McGarrett had been Chin's training officer, so maybe he'd known him well enough to dismiss the idea, but even a rookie knew that when someone was murdered, you always looked at the spouse first. Especially when there was conflict between the two, the way Harris had just intimated and Steve had confirmed.
She shifted to the side and caught how still Danny's face had become, and where Chin practiced keeping his thoughts to himself, Danny was always moving, always open, and the difference told Kono he was struggling with the same thought she'd had. Because Steve would hate it.
Kono couldn't help noticing how Harris' voice flattened just a tiny bit when she mentioned John McGarrett. She wondered if the guys caught it: Harris had disliked Steve's dad. Enough so the feeling lingered twenty years later.
"I doubt you came here for that, so please, what may I do for the Governor's Task Force?" Harris asked, smoothly redirecting the conversation away from the murder of Eileen McGarrett.
"We're looking into a smuggling ring that seems to have expanded into moving stolen artifacts," Chin said. "The names of the gallery's suppliers in Japan and Hong Kong might provide us with a starting place, if any of their shipments have been stolen."
Harris sighed under her breath. "That dirty business again. Michel will have a fit." Then she shrugged and waved them toward a door at the far end of the gallery. "Let's go back to office."
The men walked ahead. Danny watched Steve and Steve looked still lost in thought.
Kono fell into step with Harris. "Dirty business?" she asked.
"The illegal antiquities trade," Harris replied with clear distaste. "Looters." She gestured to the beautiful room with its cases of ancient objects before they walked through the employees' only door into a considerably less decorated warren of offices. "That annex could be three times its size and generate far more income if I didn't vet the provenance of every piece myself. I'm lucky Michel supports me. Even so... " She sighed again. "I'm not an archaeologist, but I think sometimes they have a point. This gallery, others, the auction houses and middlemen and experts like myself are all scavengers and private collections simply encourage the commodification of history."
She showed them into her office and opened a laptop. "I should be able to access the information you wanted."
Chin walked around her desk and watched the screen. "Send it to – "
Harris opened a drawer in her desk and pulled out a flashdrive. "I'd rather give you a copy on this."
Chin looked at her and then nodded slowly. Harris typed swiftly.
"Have you ever had any questions about any of the objects outside your area of expertise moving through the gallery?" Danny asked while they waited for the files to copy.
Harris opened her mouth, then closed it. The laptop pinged and she handed the flashdrive to Chin. "Why would I be giving you this if I hadn't?" she asked.
Steve, who had been examining a set of pictures lined up on top of a bank of heavy, wooden filing cabinets, turned back to Harris and asked, "Have you ever heard of a man named Noshimuri? Hiro or Koji Noshimuri?"
"No. I included our client list, so he might be there. But I've never dealt with anyone by that name."
Disappointment flickered over Steve's face, but Kono thought it would have been too easy if the Yakuza connection had been that obvious. Not to mention Noshimuri was too smart to have an obvious connection to any business directly involved in illegal activities. Though the gallery was definitely swank enough to provide good cover.
"My mother was working here in 1992?" Steve asked. He picked up one of the pictures. "This is her." His face had gone soft with longing.
Harris shut the laptop. "Yes. I was ten years younger than her and a brat, but she was lovely to me from the start. We weren't close confidantes, but I always felt that we might have been, given more time."
Steve continued studying the picture.
Harris seemed to consider her words, then added, "She seemed lonely and a little sad."
"Your mother. I suppose you won't enjoy hearing this and it may be that I was biased, at the time I thought marrying and having children was a waste, but I thought she was unhappy." She waited but Steve didn't say anything, so she continued. "Perhaps a better word would be dissatisfied, though she clearly loved you and your sister. I remember seeing you and your sister at the funeral. I felt terrible for you both."
"Of course. Everyone who knew her went. All of us from the gallery were there, except Wo Fat."
Steve's shoulders jerked and everyone else froze.
Kono knew her eyes had gone wide.
"Wo Fat worked at this gallery," Steve said carefully.
Danny looked braced for some kind of explosion. Kono felt the same apprehension. Just saying Wo Fat's name in the same conversation as his mother seemed dangerous. She caught Harris' gaze and tried to silently signal she should take care what she said next.
"Yes. I believe he's moved on to become quite a success in business, but he'd only recently come from China at the time." Harris had picked up on the tension. "Your mother helped him with his English, in fact, which was quite good but not quite fluent."
Steve slammed the picture frame in his hand down with a snarl and left the room without another word.
Harris waited until he was gone to comment. "He's very like his father. Though that didn't really compare with the scene Eileen's husband made once."
"Wo Fat is a person of interest in several on-going investigations," Chin offered diplomatically.
Harris raised her eyebrow. "And that's an excuse to abuse the belongings of others?"
Danny checked out the picture. Kono drifted over and looked too, picking out Eileen McGarrett easily. She was tall, blond like her daughter, and Steve had inherited her eyes. Her smile seemed genuine, but a little sad too.
"It looks like it's okay," Danny reported. "Look, we're really sorry about that, you've been great. Steve's mom's kind of a sore point – the case on her death was never closed."
She snorted, an unladylike and utterly honest sound. "I'm not surprised."
Chin's head came up.
Harris turned to Kono. "Because her husband was a police officer. An obsessed, workaholic detective who wanted to own his wife. I overheard them fighting over her job at least twice."
Kono noticed Chin blink and then nod to himself over the words obsessed and workaholic.
"The second time, he ordered her to quit, and she refused."
Chin and Danny exchanged looks, but Kono knew Harris was only going to talk to her.
"Are you saying you think John McGarrett had something to do with the car bomb that killed his wife?"
Silence except for the rustle of Danny shifting uncomfortable followed Harris' blunt declaration.
Kono took a deep breath.
Lillian Harris looked her in the eye.
"Because he thought Eileen was having an affair."
"An affair?" Danny sounded choked.
Chin looked appalled.
"With who?" Kono made herself ask with a terrible feeling of inevitability.
The shout rattled the glass wall of Steve's office. The blinds rattled too.
"No one said she – "
"No way was my mother having an affair behind my dad's back," Steve snarled at Danny. Kono had never been quite so happy to have Danny as part of the team. He was serving as a lightning rod for Steve's temper, keeping it from frying her or Chin too. Steve pointed at Danny, his finger an inch from poking Danny in the sternum. "And not with Wo Fat!"
Danny didn't back up, but he did hold up his hands, open and unthreatening, between them. "Slow down, McGarrett."
Not Steven or Steven or Commander or 'you lunatic'. Ow. Danny was on his way to pissed too.
"Come on, brah – "
Steve switched his killer glare to Chin, though it was really meant for all of them.
"What, now you're going to get mad at Chin too? What for? Being in the same room? Hearing what that woman said? Hey, next you can deck Kono!"
"Can we all just calm down – "
"No!" Steve and Danno chorused.
"It doesn't mean it's true," Danny snapped at Steve, "and, for that matter, isn't what she said anyway! Which you would know if you hadn't flounced off in a great big, Grace is more mature than that, snit! "
There was a bucket in the storeroom at the end of the hall outside HQ's offices, along with a mop and broom. Kono had seen it when she ducked in there looking for toilet paper one day. If Steve and Danny started fighting physically, she was going to get it and dump cold water over both of them. It always worked for her mother and any of the cousins when they fought.
"No one said your mother did that," Chin said, level and calm and giving away it was an act from the tension in his shoulders and back.
Kono clenched her fists.
"That Harris woman," – he made woman into a curse and Kono kind of wanted to kick him in the nads – "said – "
"Said your father thought that," Danny overrode him loudly. "Not the same thing. Jackass."
It didn't mollify Steve. He crossed his arms over his chest and scowled epically at his partner.
Kono got it, though, she did. Steve wasn't mad because of his mom. He didn't believe she'd been unfaithful and he didn't care about what Lillian Harris thought, not really. It was all about his dad and the things he didn't want to know or think about John McGarrett, because Steve was headstrong and stubborn, but not stupid. Harris had painted John McGarrett in an unflattering light, as fallible and unreliable, and as hard as Steve wanted to deny it, he had to see it was likely true.
Steve was fighting that idea with everything in him.
With a wordless snarl, he took a seat at his desk. "We have a current case to work."
"Right, right," Danny agreed.
"If Wo Fat didn't kill my mother, he had something to do with it," Steve went on. "That gallery is the tie between them, so I want to find out everything about his history with it and hers."
"Uh, I thought we were working on the current case?" Kono ventured in confusion.
"We're going to do both."
"Wonderful," Danny muttered.
"The gallery is our nexus point for investigation?" Chin wasn't really asking, just clarifying what Steve had already decided. They needed to follow up on the Yakuza connections and Noshimuri in the present, but anywhere along the way, they could find another tie to Wo Fat. Steve was convinced Wo Fat killed or had his mother killed to send a message to his father, but today's revelation changed that. If Wo Fat had been responsible it still might have nothing to do with what John McGarrett had been doing back in 1992; if the gallery and auction house had been dirty back then, Eileen McGarrett might have found out something that threatened Wo Fat or whoever else had been involved.
If, if, if.
The thing was, she could see the things Steve and the boys couldn't. She knew what it was like to have her dreams relegated to second in line because she was the girlfriend. Kono had never put up with it, but Eileen McGarrett came from a different generation. Kono could easily imagine a smart, beautiful, educated woman in a marriage where her children were moving past the point of needing her constantly realizing that aside from those children, she didn't have much in common with her husband any longer and looking for comfort somewhere else. In a job that made her feel fulfilled. Or in the arms of a handsome, intelligent man who shared her interests.
After all, she'd never mention it out loud, but it was easy to see Wo Fat had been a hottie twenty years ago, because he was still a handsome man. That sort of urbane danger wasn't Kono's cup of tea, but it might have been Eileen's.
She'd never say that to Steve.
As the three of them left Steve's office, she brushed Chin's arm. "A minute, cuz?"
He gestured her into his office after Danny disappeared behind a closed door to his.
"What is it?"
Kono straightened her shoulders.
"You know just because it's Steve's mother, doesn't mean it couldn't be true. It isn't like she would have known Wo Fat was... " Kono floundered for the right words. "A bad guy. Maybe he even wasn't one then."
"So what do we do?"
"We follow the evidence," Chin told her. "Whatever it is. If you find something, bring it to me or Danny first."
She didn't want to understand, but she did, and it made her sick with worry. Chin was telling her to keep stuff from one of the team deliberately. It felt terribly wrong, even as she could see it might be the only way to work this investigation. Danny was right. When it came to his parents' deaths, Steve was the worst sort of loose cannon. It wasn't the law or justice that drove Steve, just vengeance. So Kono didn't want to, but she knew she was going to follow Chin's advice.
It was a shitty choice to have to make, but then, Chin knew all about making hard choices and living with the consequences. He'd done it for Auntie and Uncle Keoni, when it cost him his job, reputation, place in the family and his fiance. He wouldn't be lightly telling Kono to do this.
"Okay," she replied.
Chin squeezed her shoulder, then gave her push.
"Back to work, rookie."
She flipped him off as she left his office and headed for her own and the damned laptop again.
An unpleasant air of tension filled the offices at headquarters. Kono pretended she didn't notice; the guys did the same. They weren't unaware, they couldn't be. Chin was too observant, while Danny and Steve were the sources. While Kono knew men were often oblivious, she didn't think they were out and out stupid. Most of the time. So the only thing to do was keep her head down and get on with the job.
The job which was – she checked her watch – screwing with her private life. She wasn't getting out of the Palace any time soon enough to make her date.
She thought longingly of the way that date would have gone even while she got out her phone and hit speed dial. She'd meant to really dress up – not nightclub tart gear like she wore for undercover gigs either – and have a couple of drinks, then they would have had dinner, danced or found some place with live music before ending the evening in bed. A couple of hours after that, they would’ve shared some dessert. That had been the plan.
As soon as the phone at the other end picked up, Kono said, "Hey, it's me."
Through the glass of her office door, she watched Chin working at the computer table. He walked over to one of the networked printers as it began spitting out papers and filled an empty folder with them.
"Me? Do I know someone named Me? I know a Mai and a Mimi – "
Her cousin glanced at the closed doors to Steve and Danny's offices and started toward Kono's, file in hand.
"Let me guess," Claire said in cheerful exasperation. "Work."
Chin gave a knock to the frame of Kono's door. She waved him in, then held up three fingers. Date, she mouthed to him. He hesitated, then settled himself against the jamb, leaning there with a patient look on his face.
"I am so sorry."
"I had reservations at that fusion jazz place we both like."
"Really, really sorry."
Chin was laughing at her noiselessly. Kono glared at him, though it did no good. Her laptop was beeping at her, indicating one of the searches she'd been running had finished.
"Good. I bought a new dress."
"You buy a new dress every week," Kono pointed out, feeling lucky that Claire was willing to laugh over Kono breaking the date at the last minute. "You're a shopping addict."
"I just like to keep my credit cards in shape."
Chin narrowed his eyes. Kono wondered if she'd ever actually – officially – let him know she dated women too. She hadn't ever hidden it. She decided there were more important things to worry about. Her cousin wasn't going to get pushed out of shape about who she dated. He'd better not.
He wasn't even pretending he wasn't listening to her, either. He fanned the file in his hands, signaling she needed to wind up her personal business and get back to work.
"So can you forgive me?"
"Well, it'll be hard, but I think the chocolate macadamia torte from Michelline's that's in my fridge will soothe any hard feelings on my part," Claire teased.
Kono groaned softly, her mouth watering, and said, "You're just punishing me now."
"Yes, I am. We could have had it for dessert together."
"I've got to go."
"I know. Call me in a day or two, when you aren't busy chasing bad guys."
"I will," Kono promised. "Bye."
Chin strolled the rest of the way into Kono's shoebox of an office. He set the file down and flipped it open. "Results on a background run on Bertrand's gallery. He's not sole owner."
"No, he has investors."
Chin pointed out a short list of names.
"We need to find out who they are and try to talk to them tomorrow."
He leaned over the desk, hands braced on it, and smiled. "So, do I need to get out the shotgun and give your girlfriend the 'talk' about what happens if she breaks your heart?"
Kono rolled her eyes.
"Get a life, cuz."
"What's her name?"
"Claire. Go away."
"Does she surf? How'd you meet her? What does she do – "
Kono threw a pencil at Chin. He dodged it easily. It lofted over his shoulder and hit the floor outside. She'd have to find it before some stepped on it. "She surfs, she's in sports medicine, I met her through Danny's physical therapist. Satisfied?"
"Not until I've met her," Chin insisted, but he seemed ready to let it go for the moment.
She checked the search she'd done and found she'd hit proverbial gold: employment and tax records for the gallery going back to the eighties. There was Eileen McGarrett's name and further down the list, just as Lillian Harris had said, was Wo Fat.
"Hey," she said. "How hard would it be to get a warrant for the gallery's phone records back in '92?"
Chin walked around her desk and read the laptop's screen.
"The McGarrett case may be cold, but there's no statute of limitations on murder. I think I can find a judge willing to sign off," he said. "The problem is finding the records at all."
"Why wouldn't the phone records still exist?"
"I'm not saying they don't, but if there really was a cover up, someone might have interfered with them." Chin patted her shoulder. "I'll get the warrant and tomorrow you can deal with the phone company."
"You know, some people seem to think you're a nice guy," Kono told him. "But that's just a baseless rumor."
"Hey, I don't date, you don't date."
"Ah, did you have to cancel with Renee?"
Kono inclined her head toward the two closed office doors. "We could make a break for it."
"We're on an island," Chin said seriously, "they'd find us."
"Aw, I think we could take 'em if we teamed up."
Chin chuckled and left.
Kono opened a new window and began running the names of Bertrand's silent investors through HPD's files. She sent in a request to NCIC next, which had better odds of finding something on anyone not from the islands anyway. To be thorough, she ran the names through a sex offender registry as well, before moving beyond criminal histories to Social Security, the DMV and the IRS. After that, the searches became more esoteric. Chin would run an internet scrape if they came up blank, because anyone far enough off the grid to draw a blank was a person of interest automatically. There were always phone and banking records too, though warrants always slowed getting those down to a crawl.
It was slow, tedious, necessary grunt work. Like interviewing witnesses, despite the incredible differences that eye witness accounts usually included. A headache throbbed through the orbit of Kono's left eye before she was even halfway though. Half the offices she needed to check with were closed for the day; she'd have to try each of them in person and go through actual paper records in some cases to get what she needed.
It felt strange and very probably wrong, but she went ahead and added John and Eileen McGarrett's names to her searches. Steve's dad had been in Vietnam, in the Navy just the same as his son. She put in a request for then Lieutenant McGarrett's jacket on a hunch, Lillian Harris' dislike of him later echoing through her thoughts.
Some results she couldn't expect to see until offices on the East Coast opened and they were processed, so Kono called it quits shortly after eleven in the evening. She almost turned her car's nose toward Claire's, but knew she wouldn't be good company. Thoughts about the current case and Eileen McGarrett's death were rattling around her head and she'd want to talk about both and end up biting her tongue or just as likely horrifying Claire.
Instead, she ate a TV dinner alone, set her phone, badge, and weapon on the nightstand by her bed, took a short, hot shower, and dropped off to sleep as soon as she stretched out horizontally.
Just before she feel asleep it occurred to her that John McGarrett had probably gone through the same routine many nights after his wife's death, even before he sent Steve and Mary away. It sparked a sense of sympathy for him that she hadn't felt before and made her glad of the part she'd played in taking down his killer.
Finding Eileen's killer would be even more satisfying. Determination to get justice for the dead woman formed a hard little kernel in Kono's gut. The rest of the team wanted to solve the cold case for Steve. She wanted to find out for Eileen.
Chin obtained the warrant for the phone records to the gallery the next morning, before diving into cyber research. Steve and Danny were out all day questioning associates of the men they'd arrested at the warehouse.
Kono spent her day on grunt work again, shuffling between the county clerk's offices and the tax assessor, then, warrant in hand, to Hawaiian Telcom. Records for the gallery's current phone accounts weren't too difficult to obtain. She ran into a mess of confusion, however, over what records were available from GTE Hawaiian Telephone Company, Inc. – which had been purchased by Verizon Hawaii and then sold to Telcom in the intervening years – when trying to get the records on the time frame Eileen McGarrett and Wo Fat had worked there. It took flashing her badge and mentioning bringing her boss and the Governor's office into it before someone finally agreed there were paper records from the time periods covered by the warrant. Only they weren't on site; they were stored in a records depot the company maintained at one of its equipment yards.
Sweating and irritated, she drove from the main office to the yard, found someone with a key to let her in, and began her search through the old GTE files. It took her all afternoon to find the paper records from 1992 and copy them, all while under the gimlet eye of a grim auntie who was as unhappy as Kono about spending the afternoon in an ill-lit storeroom with no ventilation. Boxes had been shuffled around and the files inside shifted from where they belonged. Kono couldn't put her finger on it, but it felt like the disarray had been created deliberately.
Maybe there had been a cover-up regarding Eileen McGarrett's death. It would be hard to destroy the records with a telephone company representative watching the whole time, but not at all hard to mess up the filing system. Of course, torching the building would work too, but that was a little too overt for a conspiracy. If there was one. Maybe GTE's employees had just been sloppy idiots.
Kono couldn't stop and go over the phone records when she did find them, just copied them and moved on, work that was practically mindless and certainly deadly dull.
Danny called it paying her dues.
The copies, which included Michel Bertrand's home phone, the McGarrett's, as well as the gallery's, filled cardboard box by the time Kono finished. She carried it out to her car with a huff of relief, only to wince as the seat and the steering wheel nearly seared her after sitting in the direct sun all afternoon. Cool air was only just issuing from the vents when she pulled into her parking spot at the palace.
Her skin felt gritty and sticky with sweat as she came inside with the box. The Governor's always impeccably made-up and coiffed assistant pointing out Kono had a cobweb in her hair didn't make her want to cry, though. She smiled as sweetly as she could and thanked her, instead, while vehemently hoping she'd break one of her three-inch heels and fall down the steps out front. Preferably while on camera for a sound-bite.
She made it the rest of the way to their offices and inside without encountering anyone else. HQ appeared empty and Kono took the opportunity to retreat to the women's washroom and clean up a little.
Danny was pouring himself a coffee when she came out and the door to Steve's office was closed.
"On the phone to the Governor," he said. He held up the pot, the gesture silently asking if Kono wanted a cup too.
Kono really liked Danny and wondered if it had been his mom, Rachel, or having a daughter that had civilized him.
She figured Gracie was the answer. Danny would do anything for his daughter, including learning to treat all women the way he wanted his daughter to be treated. Not that Kono thought he'd been a pig before, but Danny was a lot more aware than the average decent guy. He'd clearly thought about it at some point.
She shook her head. All she'd had since breakfast was a soda and bag of nacho Doritos from a vending machine at the Telcom equipment yard and her stomach wasn't sure if it was too empty or needed to empty itself completely. Cop shop coffee the way Danny and Chin made it would only make her feel worse.
Danny followed Kono into her office carrying his coffee mug and waited while she sat, opened her laptop and checked over what she'd received on the searches she'd started the night before.
"Steve wants to know when he can interview Bertrand's investors."
"I haven't got to it yet."
Kono didn't mean to sound defensive, but she'd spent the day doing a job none of the rest of them wanted to do, and the temptation to snap hovered just behind her teeth.
She pointed to the box of telephone record copies.
"I've been busy."
"Hey," Chin said, arriving at her office door before Danny could say anything more, "Danny. Can I talk to you?" He shot Kono an apologetic look.
Kono rolled her eyes.
Customs and Immigration had come through with the records on Wo Fat. When he'd first arrived in Hawaii, how long he'd stayed, and every time he'd come through from outside the United States since. Nothing about it raised any red flags with them or to Kono's suspicious eyes.
"Sure," Danny agreed. He smiled at Kono again, saluted her with his cup, and followed Chin out and into Chin's office.
Kono went back to work, finding the email and attached report she'd been looking for and forwarding it to all of the guys even before opening the HPD forensic analysis of Bertrand's financials. Bertrand's newest investor was Paul Alana, an island-born businessman with homes in Honolulu and Los Angeles and an impressively successful business shipping certified organic pineapple and sugar cane to a chain of health food restaurants on the West Coast.
Another quick dive into airport records showed Alana was currently on the island too.
Kono grinned as she got up, intending to go tell Steve, but Chin waved her into his office before she'd taken three steps.
"Come on, Chin, you know if it were anyone else we'd be looking at the spouse from the beginning. If Rachel – God forbid – got killed, me and Stan would be the first people the department suspected," Danny said as Kono walked in.
She turned around and shut the door tightly, wishing she was on the other side of it. "Guys... "
"Kono, if you didn't get that Lillian Harris was pointing at John McGarrett – "
"I got it," she interrupted in a soft voice. "I just – Danny, this was Steve's dad."
Danny looked at her and she realized he understood, maybe felt it even more than she did. Steve was his partner; Danny knew the way Steve felt. Hell, Danny had been married, Danny had Grace, Danny understood the pain and grief that the destruction of a family could leave behind – indeed, had left behind for Steve and Mary McGarrett. Danny was a pitbull too, though, and he couldn't let anything go, even when it hurt him or someone else.
It made him a great detective as well as a pain in the ass and Kono had a good idea it was why Rachel had divorced him. She sympathized with his ex-wife. She really did like Danny, that was true, but Danny was probably hell to live with day in, day out. Endless righteousness got tired fast in her experience.
"We can't shove this under the rug the way HPD did," Danny said. "The entire case file is missing, for Christ's sake. On a homicide of a cop's wife. That's not incompetence, that's a cover up of some kind."
"I'm not saying to ignore anything," Chin replied, "I'm advising some... discretion."
"What, you want me to lie to my partner? Tell him I'm not looking at his father as a suspect?" Danny's hands flailed in frustration, ending up threading through his hair, tangling it into a mess. He looked as exhausted as Kono had ever seen him. Worse than when they'd pulled fifty-two hours of surveillance and then busted a meth lab on Molokai.
The door behind Kono jerked open.
"What the hell are you all doing in here?" Steve demanded.
"I think they were plotting world domination, boss," Kono chirped. "They got really quiet when I came in. Hey, I got a location on Bertrand's investor. Paul Alana. He's here in Oahu. Arrived the day before yesterday."
Steve gave Danny and Chin a suspicious look.
"Good," he snapped, "let's bring him in." He swung around and strode out. "Danny! Come on."
"Aye, aye, sir, full speed ahead, sir!" Danny called after him. "It might help if we got the address first." He lowered his voice. "Thanks, Kono."
"Address is in the email I sent to everyone."
Danny dug out his phone and nodded as he found the message.
"Really," he said as he left at a trot, "thanks."
They brought in Paul Alana, Noshimuri's other investor and the forty percent stockholder in the gallery, for questioning five days after the antiquities bust. Steve was already antsy by then over how long they'd been on the case, enough so that Chin had pointed out, "Brah, making a good case takes time. You were with Intelligence, you know it can sometimes take years."
Steve had nodded, but replied, "I know, but that's why the Governor gave us full immunity, so we could stop wasting so much time on the red tape."
"We're wasting everyone's time if the case doesn't stick," Danny muttered.
It didn't help that Alana turned out to be an arrogant prick. His attitude exacerbated Steve's temper, but it still shouldn't have devolved as far as it did as fast as it did.
The Island was sweating through a hot spell, temperatures edging into triple digits Fahrenheit, though it was still comfortable enough outside with a nice ocean breeze. Inside was a different story. The big hotels had HVAC systems that could turn rooms into refrigerators, but most government offices, including HQ and HPD's stations, were struggling along with fans that threatened to short out old wiring already stressed to max by lighting and computers. The interrogation rooms had no windows to open and were sweltering.
Danny's dress shirt had a dark sweat-stain down his back and he'd pulled his tie completely loose. Steve and Alana looked cooler, but only because their shirts didn't show the sweat. Kono was running with sweat in just her tank top and jeans. Even Chin looked wilted at the edges.
They were watching from the other side of the observation mirror as Steve pushed Alana for information on Noshimuri and the Yakuza.
"I'm not Yakuza," Alana snapped. "Do I look Japanese? How stupid are you?"
Steve had Alana in a chair with his hands cuffed behind its back. He kicked the leg, sending it and Alana skidding toward a cinder block wall. Kono winced as Alana's head snapped back against the gray-green-painted cement with a thunk she could hear through the glass. The single fluorescent bulb lighting the room combined with the color to make everyone inside look pale and sick under their slick coats of sweat.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa there," Danny said.
Steve stalked to the other side of the room. "I am really getting sick of this shit."
"Yeah, well, I'm getting a headache. I'm going to get a coffee. You want something – "
"Yeah, I do!" Alana yelled. "My fucking lawyer!"
"Funny, did you hear something?" Danny asked Steve.
Steve almost smiled. "Mosquito?"
"Get me a coffee too."
"Two coffees, two aspirin," Danny agreed and exited the interrogation room in search of the some cop shop caffeine.
Steve watched Danny disappear out the door with a faint, indulgent curl to his lips that Kono didn't like. He waited just long enough for Danny to move beyond hearing distance, then addressed Chin and Kono through the mirror.
"Cut the video."
Chin switched on the intercom. "You sure about that, brah?"
"Cut the video and the audio," Steve insisted.
Chin cut both.
Kono had been half-expecting it, but the speed with which Steve moved across the room and grabbed Alana still shocked her, along with the violence that followed. There was no way Danny would have gone along with this and Steve had deliberately waited until Danny was gone knowing that. Alana howled with the first blow, but quickly lost the breath for that. Kono's skin crawled as Steve started getting creative. This was wrong, all wrong, no matter what Alana had done.
Which as far as she knew was only own a piece of property linked to a crime scene.
Steve was going too far.
Steve had already gone too far more than once, she thought, and she was only waking up to it now.
Chin froze beside her then muttered, "Sonovabitch," before bolting out the door and into the interrogation room with Steve. Kono pulled herself together and followed as fast as she could, glimpsing Danny down the corridor carrying two Styrofoam coffee cups. He dumped them and started into a run as he caught sight of Kono. She dismissed him as she raced into the interrogation room and grabbed Steve's wrists as Chin wrapped his arms around him from behind and dragged him back.
"Enough!" Chin shouted. Steve stood taller than him and had been trained in every dirty hand-to-hand fighting technique the military knew; Chin was barely holding onto him. Kono threw all her weight and muscle into just keeping Steve's hands out of the fight. "You can't kill him, brah!"
"What the everlovin' fuck!?" Danny exclaimed as he bulled into the room. He waded in and between the three of them, they pulled Steve out of the interrogation room, garnering a few bruises in the process.
Despite his diminutive size, Danny was strong and the instant Chin and Kono let go of Steve, he used that strength to slam Steve back against a wall.
"I don't know what shit you got away with in Afghanistan or wherever the hell the Navy sent your sorry ass," Danny declared, standing as tall as he could, right up in Steve's tipped down face, "but you don't pull that crap in the States. I'm a cop and I swear I will arrest you myself if your ever do that again!"
"You work for me," Steve snapped and pushed Danny back.
"Then I'll quit and make it a goddamn citizen's arrest," Danny said and he was completely serious, serious enough Kono saw it filter through Steve's hard head and make him hesitate.
Steve swiped his hand through his sweaty hair and then swore, stomping away down the corridor. "Do it your way then," he yelled as he walked away, "but get some god damned answers before the day's over, Detective Williams!"
They didn't get anything, though, because Danny and Chin took Alana to an emergency room and then his lawyer arrived, shutting down everything. Alana stayed in a hospital room over night and the Governor showed at HQ the next morning. She didn't bother shutting the door as she ripped Steve up one side and down the other, using language that made Chin blush and stabbing her index finger into Steve's t-shirt covered chest over and over until he backed into a wall.
"You are just damned lucky Paul is a friend of mine!" Jameson hollered. "A friend who knows that suing you and the HPD and the State would put any chance of my re-election next term in the toilet! Do you know how many lawsuits are already pending thanks to your cavalier attitude toward the law?"
"You promised me full immunity – "
"Never goddamn mind what I promised you – which you're taking advantage of or you would be in jail right now, mister – you denied a man his civil rights, assaulted and tortured him and put him in the hospital. An innocent man, Commander McGarrett, who invested his money with Noshimuri's holding company only three weeks ago through a stockbroker, which you would have known if you had done your actual job rather than pursuing an obsession with the past."
"It ties in," Steve insisted.
"I gave you this job to protect the citizens of Hawaii," Jameson said. "Not to pursue personal vendettas."
"My mother was killed by a car bomb, you want people like that loose here?"
Jameson's age abruptly showed through her make-up, for just a second, as her expression crumpled and her shoulders slumped, but she came back at Steve as tough as ever. "No, of course not, but I don't want someone running around the islands who thinks he has carte blanche to assault innocent or guilty people either!"
Steve recoiled while Kono wished she could applaud. Steve believed the end justified the means and so often Kono found herself going along or even agreeing, but the problem, she was realizing, was that there was no way to know what the end would be. There were terrifying arrays of consequence to every action – she thought of Chin covering for Uncle and the very real possibility that Auntie's blackmarket Chinese kidney had been the result of murder itself. Not only had it been purchased with stolen funds, it had been blackmarket – they didn't know how it had been obtained. It wasn't just Chin's HPD career down the toilet. It could be some Chinese factory worker's body dumped in a river. So many ripples.
"Listen to me, Commander McGarrett," Jameson went on. "As of now, any ongoing investigation of the Eileen McGarrett car bombing is under Detective Williams' purview. Your job remains the pursuit of the current smuggling case. Anything you discover in the course of your investigation that pertains to Detective Williams' case you will immediately turn over to him. Am I understood?"
"Ma'am – "
"Am. I. Understood?"
Steve came to attention and gritted out a clearly furious, "Yes, ma'am!"
"Good." Jameson raised her voice. "Detective Williams! I know you heard all of that."
Danny sidled into the office, his expression almost as stiff as Steve's. "Ma'am."
"Find out what happened so this can be put away."
Jameson nodded and strode out of the office and through the main room. She nodded to Kono and Chin as she went.
Kono's attention snapped back to the boss's office as Steve and Danny's voices both rose into sheer fury.
"I told you so!" Danny shouted. "I told you and I am not letting you screw up this case the way your father did!"
The punch Steve threw knocked Danny back against Steve's desk and sent a pile of papers and his laptop sliding off, where it cracked apart at the hinge with a snap of plastic and electricity that hung in the air afterward.
Steve looked more shocked than Danny did, while Danny cradled one hand to his jaw.
"God and the Governor, McGarrett," Danny slurred. "Remember?"
Danny straightened, stalked past Steve and out, and disappeared into his own office. He closed the door behind him quietly.
Kono looked at Chin, hoping he had some answers, something they could do. He looked as conflicted and lost as he had when he told her what had really happened with their Uncle and the missing money he'd been blamed for taking.
Five minutes later, Danny came out again, and said in passing, "I'm picking Grace up from school." He didn't return to the office and when Kono hacked the GPS locator on his phone later, she found it was at his ex-wife's house.
A cold shiver ran through her; she blamed it on the air conditioning finally being ramped up to deal with the heat. It wasn't a premonition of things going wrong everywhere she looked. It wasn't. Danny couldn't be that stupid...
Kono remained angry with Danny in the morning and irritated at herself for being angry with him when she didn't know anything in fact; when Steve waved her to join him, she went eagerly, ignoring Danny's squinched brows and Chin's silent concern.
She climbed into the passenger side of Steve's truck and buckled up without saying a word.
"Bad morning?" Steve asked as he steered out of the palace parking lot.
He shot her a concerned glance. "You're quiet this morning."
"Just frustrated," Kono answered honestly.
They spent their day, with a stop for a lunch of less than stellar loco moco at a diner the longshoremen frequented – and didn't everyone go quiet and watch them from the corners of their eyes – tracing where the container with the antiquities had come from in conjunction with a US Customs agent. The reek of diesel fuel exhaust, dead fish, and rotting produce, along with the everpresent salt, permeated everything in the unseasonable heat and Kono enjoying one worker's second hand smoke just because it overwhelmed the other smells for a while.
The trail was frustrating. The antiquities had been on four different chartered dry cargo tramp container ships, none carrying more than 40,000 tons deadweight, but the paperwork was a confused mess, probably falsified in spots, or just plain missing. Corruption flourished in every major seaport and whoever orchestrated this smuggling pipeline took full advantage. Without Steve's in-depth knowledge of Southeast Asia (courtesy of the US Navy and his last posting before he returned to Hawaii), they would have been stymied. As far Kono could make out, the container in question had moved from the Port of Nagoya to Macau's Ka-Ho in the PRC, and from there through Laem Chabang and then Tanjang Langsat, Johor, before reaching Honolulu. Japan, China, Thailand, Malaysia, US: with the exception of the Port of Honolulu, the pipeline never moved through a country's biggest port, and that exception likely only because Honolulu was Hawaii's only big container port. A 40,000 DWT ship wasn't anywhere close to the size of a ULCC (ultra large crude container), but it wasn't exactly compact either. It couldn't cozy up to just any dock.
The last ship on the list, the Manlangit Sarimanok, was already loaded and underway again, they discovered, following its own schedule after refueling. Satellite coverage and the Coast Guard would be shadowing the cargo ship until it docked at the Port of Long Beach next, though, after Steve made a couple of calls, and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) would be taking a much longer and more thorough look at it once it docked.
She could see that if she meant to work cases with international implications, she was going to need more than English, Hawaiian, and the bits of Chinese and Japanese she already had. When she'd find time to study them, she didn't know, but a working knowledge of Filipino, Thai and Korean would have helped while trying to interview dockhands and sailors off the container ships. The mix of nationalities moving through the port astounded her, though the suspicion with which everyone regarded her badge didn't. It certainly didn't buy her or Steve any cooperation.
Steve's inclination to pin someone against a container and threaten the cut him with his own switchblade did. Kono began to appreciate how he'd picked up his way of operating. The port was like another country, not America, and the unwritten laws were different. Where sweating longshoremen labored, day in and day out, relying on muscle and toughness, might did make right, and fear trumped anything else.
"You know," Kono said as she flipped through her notes, "whoever is behind this isn't cheap or lazy. Moving something around as much as they do just to obscure the trail costs a lot of money. Of course, if it's arms they're moving, they're making a better profit, but still... most arms dealers want to maximize profit and protect with their goods, not spend money to stay under the radar."
Steve grunted. "Most ones that are caught."
Oh. Oh yeah. It was like all the statistics on criminals. They only knew about the ones they caught. They caught the dumb and careless ones and that made them think that all criminals were like that. Experience eventually created its own set of blinkers. A smart criminal would use that against the law.
Not just the law, either, Kono saw. The same truths affected the military. Only the military weren't inculcated with the idea that their opposition was stupid. Maybe that was why Five-O had been so successful. Steve didn't assume the criminals they were chasing were stupid.
Even though an awful lot of them were stupid, Kono admitted to herself.
She ate some more of her own lunch, because Steve wasn't in the mood to talk, plowing through his food like it was a job he had to get done before time ran out between glaring back at the other diners.
The Manlangit Sarimanok was a tramp without a set route, but had been sailing between Tanjang Langsat, Honolulu, and Long Beach for the last five years regularly. Kono checked the dates and wished she had the information she'd written down in a computer instead. Comparing it would have been a lot simpler. It looked like the Manlangit Sarimanok always sailed after the Midori Maru arrived from Laem Chabang and the Midori Maru left Laem Chabang a day or two after the Jīnsè Yĕtù docked after leaving Ka-Ho. Only the Excelsior Navra sailing from Nagoya interrupted the pattern. It only matched with the Jīnsè Yĕtù the one time.
"I think the Japanese connection is a red herring," she said.
Steve looked up from his plate with a squinting frown.
"It only shows up once and how many museums can be emptied without the authorities coming down hard? I think it was a one off."
He looked thoughtful. "You think someone took advantage of an already in-place route?"
"The Yakuza," Kono confirmed. "Or someone with a connection to them."
Steve tapped his finger against the tacky red table top. "Ka-Ho."
"I think that's where the pipeline originates too."
"Peoples' Republic of China."
"That might be a coincidence," Kono offered.
He shook his head. "No, no, it isn't. Wo Fat's Chinese."
"Chinese-Japanese," Kono corrected. Wo Fat's mother was listed as a Chinese national. They'd uncovered a picture of her during the background investigation and Kono thought she had clearly not been all Chinese. Hawaii saw every possible mixture of races and Kono knew a half-Caucasian when she saw one. Not that it probably mattered, beyond explaining Wo Fat's connections in the PRC and to the Yakuza were likely both blood ties.
"It's the Chinese part that's important," Steve insisted with a strange expression in his eyes. He closed his eyes, though, and scrubbed his fingers over them, erasing whatever it was thoroughly. He looked unhealthily exhausted when he wasn't concentrating on something. Like he wasn't getting enough sleep not just when they were going balls-to-the-wall on an urgent case but all the time.
Kono shrugged. "You think." She gave him a skeptical look, hoping he'd say more.
"Yeah." Steve shoved his emptied plate away and tossed down a couple of crumpled bills to pay. "Come on. I want to go talk to Chin's friend again."
Kono paused to add a tip. She'd waitressed in high school and knew it was hard, shitty work. It couldn't pay any better at the docks than it had at the beach either.
Renee talked to them between a couple of classes, sitting in the cramped, but cool confines of her office at the university.
"The stuff you guys had me look at, that was not the norm," Renee confirmed.
"What kind of illegal antiquities do you suspect are usually moving through Hawaii?" Steve asked.
"Thai. If the looters aren't stopped in a few years Angkor Wat will be a bare spot on the ground. The Myanmar government are brutal if you get caught without greasing the right palms, so there's less coming from there. There are always Korean pieces – a lot of them faked, actually, purporting to be from North Korea, but again, you really don't want to mess with the government there. Art work, weaponry, bronzes, textiles, pottery, jewelry. Jade and ivory, religious objects. Some statuary, but looters prefer smaller, more easily transported and concealed items. Even the ballsiest wouldn't go for the Elgin marbles these days. There are some legal controls, after all."
Kono picked up a heavy book from Renee's desk and flipped through it. Terracotta soldiers and horses from a Chinese emperor's tomb were the main subject. "I imagine something like this would be worth a fortune, though."
Renee laughed. "Yes, but you won't see Qin Shihuangdi's warriors outside of Shaanxi province. The Chinese government aren't about to let looters get a hold of those."
"What would you expect to see coming out of China then?" Steve asked.
"Quite frankly? Nothing the PRC isn't interested in letting go."
"You mean the government is complicit in the looting?" Kono was shocked, though she didn't know why. Corruption was everywhere.
"Well, probably that too, on an individual basis."
Steve leaned forward, his elbows on his knees. "But that's not what you mean, is it?"
"No. I meant that the PRC knowingly sells on the blackmarket to generate untraceable local cash for the agents in other countries," Renee said. She sat back in her desk chair, making it roll back, so she grabbed at her desk to stop it. Embarrassment made her face go pink, hiding her freckles. "Yeah, you'd think archaeologists would all be eggheads with glasses, lost in the past, right? But you've got to learn to be really aware of the political climate when you're running digs in countries that are usually poor and unstable or at best you'll end up robbed blind and at worst someone will get killed or jailed." She gave Steve a twisted smile. "My last dig, I fired two people before we even left the US. One thought he was going to buy opium and smuggle it back here in our equipment. The other one worked for the CIA."
"You object to helping out your country?"
"I object to ending up in a Malaysian prison because someone I hired to do a job was off playing James Bond, pissing off the people in charge of whether I get to do my job. I really object to be lied to by my own government too."
That made Steve and Kono both wince. They thanked Renee for her time when she said she had a class and headed back to headquarters. Kono wasn't sure what Steve had got from the conversation, but he seemed satisfied, as if it had confirmed a theory. Since that put him in a better mood than he'd been in all day, she was more than willing to go along with whatever it was.
Especially when it let her get away earlier enough to swing Michelline's for a dessert and then by the clinic to sweep Claire away on a replacement date, even if it ended up being delivery pizza eaten on the couch in front of the TV. They didn't talk about much since they were both tired, but the company made even that pleasant. There was cuddling and dessert and a wide bed with clean sheets. Kono kept a set of spare clothes in the back of her car – you learned to, working with Five-O – so she could drive into to work in the morning without stopping back home.
"This is going to be fun," Chin muttered as Kono walked into HPD's Support Services with him and Danny.
Kono wished she could pat her cousin's shoulder. Too many people in HPD still believed Chin was dirty and Chin was never going to willingly clear himself. Unlike the rest of their family or his fellow cops, Chin understood loyalty. The only thing Kono could do for him was keep silence with him, because that's what he wanted.
It still steamed her that her uncle had sacrificed Chin's career and family standing.
"Records & Identification," Danny said and led the way, even though Chin had more cumulative years with the HPD than he did. Danny was just a force of nature sometimes, unintimidated by anything, certainly by people he'd determined were wrong. He'd skipped shaving again; the blond stubble obscuring the bruise on his jaw from Steve's fist. Two days scruff or not, Danny had on his dress shirt, tie, and suit pants; as much his armor against the job as the kevlar vests they all carried in their vehicles were armor against bullets.
They'd left Steve holed up in his office, involving in a series of calls to his old intelligence contacts, sharing what they'd discovered about the smuggling pipeline in exchange for whatever they could share about Chinese intelligence operations in the South Pacific and Hawaii. Kono would have liked to have stayed, but she didn't have the clearances that Steve still had as a Navy reserve officer.
Instead, she was heading for a file room and another dreary paper chase, this time hunting copies of every report that would have gone into the Eileen McGarrett case file.
Nineteen years meant the McGarrett case was colder than Kamekona's shave ice.
It also meant that a good portion of the officers and technicians who had worked it were no longer with the department. Some of them wouldn't be in Hawaii any longer and few might even be dead.
"Were do we even begin?" she asked.
"With the detective who headed the case," Danny said.
"Do we even know who that was?"
"We don't even have a case file number, brah."
"Ah!" Danny held up his index finger. "Maybe not, but I already found out who led the investigation. It's a matter of public record after all."
"Except we don't have the records." Kono looked around the file room, with its endless rows of shelves holding box after box of case files. They weren't even separated between closed and open after you went back a decade. It was all by number.
"There's another form of public record." Danny grinned. "There is this amazing thing known as the internet. – You may be familiar with it, Chin."
Chin raised an eyebrow, which just made Danny grin harder, so Kono punched him lightly in the arm.
" – A car bombing resulting in the death of a respected detective's wife is going to make the paper," Danny went on. "Five minutes and a few mouse clicks and I found an archive of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin's articles from 1992. It only took me that long because I didn't know the Star-Advertiser wasn't the old name."
"They merged last year," Chin said.
"What evs. Before I left Jersey, my friend, and of no interest to us at present. What is pertinent is that several articles mention the lead officer in charge the case, Detective Hal Aarons."
"Which gives us somewhere to start: Detective Aaron's case notes from 1992." Chin grimaced at the stacks of file boxes, but squared his shoulders, ready to begin.
Once more into the breach
, Kono recited in her head, amusing herself. Give them all a good shoot-out over facing down stacks of paperwork of any kind. This was the true test of a cop's dedication.
"And Detective Aarons himself, if he's still around."
"I'll go ask someone if he is," Kono volunteered.
"You will help Chin," Danny corrected. "I will shmooze the guys I know from homicide."
Kono wanted to object, but of the three of them, Danny was the one most likely to get real help from the rest of the police department. He might be a haole, but he was a haole cop, and he could commiserate with them over Steve's highhandedness and he'd had a startling good clearance rate before being shanghai-ed into Five-O.
He returned an hour later.
"Aarons took his twenty-five and retired eight years ago," Danny reported. "Sounds like he's a smart man, he moved away from this tropical tourist trap back to the mainland." He waited a beat, but neither Kono nor Chin rose to the bait the way Steve would have. Danny huffed in frustration and Kono hid a smile. Danny liked Hawaii, she knew he did, but he liked jerking Steve's chain even more. She hoped he was missing the back and forth bickering they fronted their friendship with enough to dismiss the punch Steve had thrown. She enjoyed working with him, he never patronized her, but she didn't want to see him on the outs with Steve.
If Five-O was ohana, then Steve and Danny were their dad and mom.
"What's that expression?" Danny inquired.
Kono shook her head. "Nothing." She was never telling Danny he was the team's mom.
"Where'd Aarons move?" Chin asked, steering them back to the case.
"State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers has him in San Francisco. That's where his pension check is going. I love unions."
"How'd you get anyone with SHOPO to tell you that?" Chin askied.
Danny batted his eyelashes. "I'm just that good."
"Pull the other one, brah."
"It's not like he went into WitSec. I called a clerk I met when I joined and she ran his name for me. I got his number too and left a message asking him to call back."
Danny turned out to be right about something else. Whoever had pulled the Eileen McGarrett homicide file hadn't been willing to go through the file room and pull every duplicate copy generated by the redundant bureaucracy of the Honolulu PD. Not only was it tedious and dusty – and Kono knew damn well she'd seen a rat in the shadows – but while it was possible to covertly destroy one file or even an entire box of them, it wasn't possible to spend a day pulling files from various locations and destroy all of them and not attract notice. At least five different cops poked their heads in to gossip while she and Chin and Danny worked. Sgt. Lukela even offered them one of the civilian aides to make copies and get coffee, but Danny waved him off.
"Better to keep everything we do find to ourselves. Someone destroyed the original file," he said after Lukela left.
After finding an interview log from a patrol officer who had been at the scene, they added the case file number to their search parameters and moved faster. A lot of cops were involved in any homicide investigation and almost every name the found turned up one or two more.
"Tomorrow we visit the evidence locker," Danny said.
Chin looked up from a sheaf of photographs in a folder from the Medical Examiner's office. "I'll pass, thanks."
Kono tightened her fingers on the box she was replacing. Telling Chin to let Uncle clear his name wouldn't do any good. She'd already made her feelings known to him. Loudly. More than once. Chin wouldn't be moved, so Chin would continue paying Uncle's price. She addressed Danny instead. "Do you think any of the evidence will still be there after nineteen years?"
"Considering HPD's record of less than stellar accounting and my own experience of how evidence ends up pitched or degraded?" Danny replied. "It's a crap shoot."
"Lovely," she muttered.
Chin closed the file on the pictures from Eileen McGarrett's autopsy. "The Governor is right. Steve shouldn't be on this case. He shouldn't see these."
"It's bad enough he's living in that house with the blood stains still on the floor in the den from his dad," Danny agreed. "That cannot be healthy."
Kono didn't agree. She thought Steve took comfort in the familiar spaces and selling or moving would have just cost him another connection to his past.
They continued past the end of the day shift, rebuilding the old case file paper by paper. Chin found the evidence inventory, which had Danny pumping a fist. "Yes!"
"I think if the evidence is still in existence, we need to send it to the FBI for analysis," Chin said.
"You think the forensics lab was dirty too?" Danny asked.
"No, well... But the FBI has more experience analyzing explosive debris, nothing to lose from whatever results they find, and better equipment."
"Hey, full means," Danny said. "I think the Governor would spring for whatever equipment we need."
"That still leaves out qualified people to use it." Chin shook his head and held up his hand. "And, before you say it, no I am not an expert in bomb analysis." He cocked his head and Kono and grinned. "And neither is your friend Charlie. Not on the level we may need."
"What about Steve's little CIA analyst? Jenny – "
"Jenna," Kono corrected.
"Kaye," Danny finished. "Think she could pull some strings? The Agency must have their own people to keep track of bombers."
"Maybe." Chin shrugged. "But that would mean bring this to Steve. Unless you can call her up and ask her?"
"What, me? No. No, she's got the hots for McGarrett, or at least she's bought a first class ticket on the same crazy revenge on Wo Fat train Steve's taking." Danny scowled. "Not that it isn't understandable, but he's going at it all wrong."
"Once we have the evidence, I vote we send it to Quantico," Kono said. She glanced at Chin and added softly, "It's like you said. Steve doesn't need to see it. Or be reminded."
"Then we're all agreed?" Danny polled Chin.
Jenna Kaye was at Five-O headquarters with Steve. Both of them were bent over Chin's computer table, with the hanging flatscreens displaying photographs of Asian artworks, most of it with evidence tags, none of it from the recent warehouse bust.
Kono didn't know quite what to make of the CIA analyst. They'd only met once, not even formally introduced, but she had seemed very open, almost juvenile, when she was a good ten years too old to really be as uncertain as she acted around the guys. It didn't gibe with her job, either. Kono couldn't decide if this was an act Jenna had perfected to move in a man's world and never dropped or just brought out when she didn't know the people she was working with or was deliberately playing the guys. She didn't buy it and she knew from the little sideways smile Jenna gave her that Jenna knew that. Kono couldn't decide if that invitation was another level of play or friendly acknowledge woman to woman.
Spies, she thought, were all enough to give anyone a headache.
Never one to hesitate over demanding what he wanted to know, Danny asked, "So what brings you to our hallowed halls?"
"Steve asked me to come in so we could work out how the antiquities scheme ties into Wo Fat's arms deals." She shot an uncertain look at Steve. He glanced up at Danny, his expression hard for a breath as he took in the file box Danny held, newly labeled in black marker McGarrett, Eileen Ann.
Danny hefted the box higher, holding it almost protectively in his arms.
Steve's expression hardened. "It looks like the illegal antiquities are going to crack open something much bigger. Jenna's been helping me – she has a high enough clearance I can share what some of my contacts in ONI have provided."
"So the rest of us aren't good enough for all the G.I. Joe secret shit now?" Danny snapped.
Jenna winced visibly.
"You're busy following the Governor's orders," Steve pointed out with just an edge to his voice. "It saves time to have Jenna here. I don't have to waste time briefing her on what I find out afterward."
"And vice versa," Jenna murmured. "I'm a little more than wallpaper, you know."
"No offense," Danny said. He glanced at the computer table. "Unless you screw up Chin's equipment."
"Then there will be hell to pay," Chin agreed. "Nice to officially meet you, Ms. Kaye."
"Don't set any coffee cups on the table and we'll be fine."
"And no gum," Steve added.
Jenna glared at him. "You know that wasn't gum. – Well, it was gum. It just had a transmitter hidden in it."
"B-Plus for effort, though. Also, Chin sweeps the offices every day."
"Hey, I'm not a field agent. I got the same course on basic field craft every recruit does and then they put me in front of a computer screen."
Danny shook his head and went on to his office to leave off the file box.
"Want to brief us, boss?" Chin asked.
"I'll let Jenna."
Danny came back far enough to lean against the door jamb and listen as Jenna spoke.
"We don't have enough proof for an arrest but Wo Fat is more than a dirty businessman in bed with the Yakuza." She moistened her lips nervously. "He's more than just an arms dealer too. If he wasn't, he wouldn't have the sort of intel that has let him stay ahead of any operation aimed at him up until now."
"So what else?" Kono asked.
"Not everyone agrees, but I believe that Wo Fat is an intelligence agent for the People's Republic."
"A Chinese spy," Danny said flatly.
"Well, isn't that wonderful."
Steve scowled and said, "He's been operating unchecked for twenty years. I am going to put a stop to him."
"Somehow, I don't think it's going to be as easy as you just saying so." Danny sounded skeptical, but not of the facts, just that accomplishing Steve's objective would take a lot of hard work. "Ah, what am I saying? We'll find him, you'll threaten to break all his bones, and somehow we'll write it up in a report that makes us look like heroes for when he goes on trial."
Kono saw Steve's expression.
Wo Fat wouldn't be going to trial if Steve got to him first. If they proved Wo Fat had killed Steve's mother, no one would even try to arrest him. Steve would put him down whatever way it took. It would be up to the rest of them to make sure it wasn't cold-blooded murder in front of witnesses.
She believed they were up to the job.
Despite Chin's desire to avoid anything to do with evidence lockers, he ended up going with Danny the next day, while Kono partnered Steve again as they began the slow process of interviewing the associates of the four gunrunners they'd picked up at the warehouse. Jenna's theory about Chinese intelligence smuggling antiquities to sell on the blackmarket and fund their off-the-books agents was beautiful, but it didn't gibe with the Yakuza connection. They needed to figure out how the two had tangled up: that would be the weak spot in the operation.
Talking to Makoto Moriaka's father turned out to be like questioning a cinderblock wall, though.
"That was a waste of time," Kono said as they walked back to Steve's truck.
"Did you notice the old man's fingers?"
Kono frowned as she tried to remember. "No. I don't think I saw – "
"Ring and pinkie, right hand, first joints of both were gone," Steve said. "Yakuza."
"The scary part is they do it to themselves."
"Don't we all?" Kono quipped.
He paused and arched his brows at her. "Maybe so. Maybe the Yakuza are just more obvious about it."
Kono laughed. "Or maybe they're all just crazy-ass mofos."
Steve walked around and got in the driver's side of the truck without opening the passenger door for Kono. She tapped the window and waited until the door unlocked. The seats and surfaces inside were already toasting hot.
"You totally failed the gentleman part of officer and a gentleman, didn't you?" she kidded as got inside.
"Right. Mr. Focus is distracted."
"Well, I worry you might punch me if I tried to treat you like a girl."
Kono rolled her eyes. She didn't want to be a guy and had never thought her life would be better if she'd been born with a dick. Being a woman was great – if she had to endure menstruating, well, at least she got multiple orgasms too. So it would be nice if just once a guy would get that she didn't necessarily want to be one of the boys, she just wanted to be treated as just as good as the boys. The distinction seemed to escape even the best of them.
Georgie Ito didn't have anyone close to him; parents dead, no siblings or cousins, one uncle still in Japan – no doubt Yakuza too – and his neighbors said he was pretty quiet for a guy in his late twenties, didn't bring his dates home with him or throw wild parties. His neighbors didn't like him much, but didn't have anything solid against him either. The best they got was from the apartment building's aging maintenance man.
"He's a thug. The bad kind of thug," Archie Hama said, "one of the smart ones. Good riddance if you're locking him up."
"Thanks for your time," Steve told him.
"Huh, not like I got much else to do with it."
"Did anyone ever visit him?" Kono asked.
"Ain't like I'm the goddamn Neighborhood Watch, is it?" Archie grumbled. "I wouldn't know. No, wait, I saw his girlfriend with him a couple times. Real pretty." He shaped a Jessica Rabbit outline while leering at Kono. "Curvy, though, not like you. Friendly too. Said her name was... what was it... Nalani."
That matched what they thought after arresting him: Georgie was the leader of the little group they'd picked up. He'd lawyered up and said absolutely nothing beyond, "I'm not saying anything without my lawyer present." Not even while Steve did his best intimidating routine and Danny tried psychology, except one grinning, "Fuck you," after Steve busted his lip.
Ollie Kichida, on the other hand, had been frightened, but not frightened enough to do more than mumble that they had the wrong guy, he was just doing some day labor off the books, cash to move crates for a guy who didn't want to pay union wages to the longshoremen. Kichida had made bail the day before; his family offering up the deed to their house to make it. They'd cleared out of the house too: his mother, two brothers, a wife and two sons were all gone. When Kono peered inside she saw they'd stripped the interior, leaving behind only larger pieces of furniture. No cars were in the drive or the garage. The door swung open with a push, not even latched.
When she and Steve checked with them, the neighbors said the Kichidas had packed up and left the day of the warehouse bust. Ollie was in the wind.
A quick check with Customs showed they'd taken a redeye flight out of Honolulu International with a Tokyo destination.
Aside from seeing them leave, the neighbors didn't know anything useful about the Kichidas. The family had been insular. The neighbors weren't much better, communicating obvious hostility while remaining formally polite. After talking for a while, it became clear they didn't even know if the sun rose in the east, or if they did, would never say so to a cop, never mind sharing what the Kichidas had been into. Stone walls everywhere they turned.
And then there was Darnell 'Ōpūnui and Darnell's family.
Darnell's extensive, local family were probably the antithesis of the Kichidas.
The 'Ōpūnuis were related to at least half the people on the island to some extent. No doubt, some third cousin's nephew was shacked up with a distant Kelly or a Kalakaua relative. Hawaii was like that; if your weren't related or married, then you worked with someone who was (and every time Kono or Chin came up with yet another connection, Danny muttered about inbred redneck hillbillies getting a bad rap).
Some of Darnell's people wouldn't talk anything but pidgin, though, and Kono found herself taking the lead while Steve stood back and looked intense. A nice girl-mean guy version of good cop-bad cop that Kono felt almost guilty for playing as she assured one Auntie she understood, every family had boys in it like Darnell. They meant well, but they just couldn't stay out of trouble. Nice as the sunshine, but dumber than rocks. Why, the stories she could tell about her cousin Chin Ho...
Steve choked on something that wasn't a bug.
Auntie Nomi was only too happy to gossip all about Darnell's failures as well as his sister's. She settled onto a worn couch and patted the cushion next to her for Kono to sit as well. Auntie Nomi, in her purple and green-flowered house-dress, left just enough room for Kono to perch at the edge.
"That Nalani," Auntie said with a disapproving nod that made her chins jiggle. "That girl thinks being pretty is going to be enough." She eyed Kono. "You know better, don't you? It'll get you a man, sure, but then what's that worth? A good man wants a good woman, not a bimbo. My Ernest, he always said I was the best woman he ever knew." She patted her more than generous bosom and smiled, displaying perfect dentures amid still beautiful skin. "Of course, he liked the packaging too. You need to eat more, girl, a man needs something to hold onto, you know."
Out of the corner of her eye, Kono saw Steve focusing on a picture hung on the wall. It was a beach scene and not particularly well done, but he stared at it without blinking. His mouth kept twitching though.
"That's good, Auntie," Kono agreed. She took the high road and ignored both the comment about men and Steve's reaction. "Do you know any of the men Darnell was hanging around with?"
"That Ito fellow. Nalani introduced them."
Which explained Darnell's connection to the three Yakuza, but not why they'd included him in their group.
"We need to look at the rest of the 'Ōpūnuis and their connections," Steve said once they were out of Auntie Nomi's house. "Darnell had to have something better to offer than his sister. Ito isn't the kind of guy who does anyone any favors."
"Not without a reason," Kono agreed. She took in a deep breath of fresh air. Auntie Nomi's house had been thick with the cloying smell of air fresheners and potted violets. "Back to the office?"
"Yeah. I want Chin to put the 'Ōpūnuis under a microscope."
It took Chin exactly three hours, forty-three minutes to uncover what Darnell had brought to the Yakuza's table. Kono timed it. Danny handed her a fifty without comment when she pointed at the clock. Steve pretended he didn't see them betting and Chin was bringing up dossiers on the hanging flatscreens and either didn't notice or didn't care.
"Nalani 'Ōpūnui gives us our connection between the Yakuza and Darnell," Chin explained. Even Nalani 'Ōpūnui's DMV photo looked good. Kono felt an unaccustomed stab of jealousy. She knew her own looks were great, but Nalani was amazing. She belonged in Hollywood. No wonder even chilly Georgie Ito had fallen for her.
He forefronted another file.
"This is Reggie 'Ōpūnui, Nalani and Darnell's cousin."
"Another cousin," Danny murmured, "Why am I not surprised?"
Steve smacked the back of Danny's head lightly, not even ruffling his hair, and Danny mock glared. It looked like they were getting back on track. Nothing would be really right until they were working their cases together again, of course. She and Chin needed to help Danny more, so that could happen.
"Reggie," Chin explained, "has been running with and getting in trouble with one Jimmy Halē since they were thirteen and boosted their first car."
"Precocious little shits," Danny commented.
"Come on, Danny, you're saying you never got into any trouble as a teenager?"
Danny scrubbed at his face, scruff rasping under his hand.
"I couldn't reach the gas pedals on a car when I was thirteen, okay?"
"You know, that's why I always have to drive."
"You are such a huge jerk, McGarrett, you know that? Just because I'm not a damned giraffe... I'm not short."
"Hate to break it to you, brah," Chin said, "but you aren't tall."
"I know I'm not tall, but I'm not short. Just slightly under average," Danny replied defensively.
"What ever you say," Steve agreed. "Napoleon."
"Can we get back to the case?" Kono interrupted before Danny could blow a fuse. That had been just a little over the line, more a dig than banter.
Chin worked a little more magic at the table computer and a picture of James Allen Halē appeared next to Reggie's, providing another distraction.
"Jimmy gave up boosting cars after a stretch in juvie. On the surface, you'd think he cleaned up his act, but Narcotics has a folder on him. All Jimmy did was use the contacts he made there to start dealing grass and some meth. Jimmy's just smart enough to stay small and not use too much of his own inventory. He's just dumb enough to employ Reggie – who took a possession fall seven months ago."
"And?" Steve prompted.
"Reggie kept his mouth shut about his supplier, so Jimmy owes him. And Darnell's the guy who bailed Reggie out and paid for his lawyer."
"We're still just talking about a small time drug dealer, though," Kono pointed out.
Chin opened another window with a small flourish.
The display showed a US CBP ID card with a photograph of a man at least two decades older than Jimmy, but sharing many of the same features.
"Meet Thomas Halē."
"Father?" Steve asked.
Danny muttered, "It's always fathers with you, isn't it?"
Chin shook his head. "Uncle. But they're tight."
Danny came over and began reading through the elder Halē's dossier. Kono couldn't wait and sidled over to lean against his shoulder and read it too. Thomas Halē had been with Customs for twenty-three years, passing on at least one promotion that would have moved him away from his long time post. Which was down on the docks of the Port of Honolulu. She hadn't seen him when she and Steve were down there. They'd talked to a younger Customs officer, not the guy who had handled the Manlangit Sarimanok.
"Anyone want to lay a bet Halē isn't the guy who cleared the cargo we confiscated from the warehouse?" Danny asked.
"Not a chance, brah."
"Come on. Kono?"
"I think I'll keep my winnings."
"Could you guys can the illegal gambling so we can get back to work?" Steve asked with a smile.
Danny examined the ID photo again. "So, we're thinking Halē's dirty and Jimmy's close enough to know... but not above clearing a debt by putting his uncle together with the Yakuza?"
"That's what I'm thinking," Chin confirmed. "Once I run his financials and pull all the records on all the Formal Entry processes he's cleared, we'll go after him."
Danny grinned. "Follow the money."
"We need to check out the customs broker," Steve said. "We should have already done that."
"Halē will know," Chin agreed.
"Good work," Danny said. He smiled at Steve. "I've got to pick up Grace again, so I'm out of here."
"What's with that?" Kono asked, reminded of Danny's GPS tracker saying he'd spent the night at Rachel and Stan's.
"Stan's on Maui and Rachel's trying to clear her calendar to join him," Danny said. "She's working evenings this week too, so I'm keeping my princess company and doing general homework helping, et cetera."
"Sounds like you and Rachel are getting along better." Chin kept his expression neutral, which was better than Steve did. Steve looked conflicted, like he wanted Danny to be happy and have a decent relationship with his ex-wife but at the same time was jealous of her. Kono wasn't sure if she was reading Steve right, though. Maybe he was still pissed at Danny and annoyed Danny was in a good mood anyway.
Danny sawed his hand through the air. "You know how it is. You can't stay mad forever. Plus, there's Grace."
"You should be careful, brah."
Kono couldn't read Danny at all as he answered, "We'd never do anything to hurt Grace on purpose." She decided it was worry and wondered what exactly had him worried and if it wasn't, in addition to investigation Eileen's murder, that putting him and Steve at odds.
"Howzit today, brah?" Chin asked as Danny came in behind Kono. She saw Steve was already in his office, telephone held to his ear. She felt good after getting out and catching a few waves in the still shivery gray pre-dawn, while the beaches were almost empty and only the hardcore surfers were out. Her knee reminded her that the surgery hadn't been a complete fix or she would still be competing, but she had a bottle of Tylenol in her desk that would get her through the day unless she did something stupid. She flexed it surreptitiously, not wanting Chin to catch her doing it, and decided she'd take five minutes in the ladies room to drop her jeans and wrap an Ace bandage around her knee for a little support and compression.
She hoped they didn't have any foot chases today, but the waves had totally been worth it. Riding the ocean's power as the sun first lit the water filled her with energy and peace at the same time.
Danny looked rough and wrung-out, despite having shaved, like he hadn't had nearly enough sleep. The bruise on his jaw had faded to green and yellow, but showed up clearer. She thought that was the same pants he'd had on the day before, though his shirt was fresh.
"It's good, it's good, what do you think?" Danny replied. He arched his eyebrows. "Is there some reason it wouldn't be?"
"You tell me," Chin said. He pointed to his neck.
Danny slapped his hand to his own neck in the same spot. Kono glimpsed a reddened mark that could have been a hickey, but Danny closed his collar and pulled the knot of his tie tight, hiding it before she saw enough to be sure.
"Have we heard from Detective Aarons?" Danny asked.
Chin shook his head. "Nada."
"We need to talk to him. He probably has his case notes and we need those too."
"Maybe he hasn't picked up his phone messages. He could be out of town."
"And left his phone at home?" Kono asked in disbelief.
Danny and Chin looked at each other and chuckled.
"Some people don't carry cells, cuz." Humor laced his next words. "And some people shouldn't have them."
"Hey, I resent that," Danny objected.
"Didn't say a thing about you, Danny." Chin quirked a teasing smile Danny's way that said he'd meant him, of course. "The guilty flee when no man pursueth."
"That's it. The disrespect I can handle, but when you start quoting literature at me, I'm outta here," Danny replied and stomped onward to his office, muttering loudly about Chin's ancestry and personal proclivities.
"He makes such a good Rodney Dangerfield," Chin said. He narrowed his eyes at Kono. "Did you mess up your knee?"
"How did – No! My knee is fine. Danny's right, you're just creepy," Kono told him and tried very hard not to limp or wince as she walked past Chin and his computer table.
Steve shoved his phone in his pocket, grabbed a shirt to pull on over his t-shirt, then strode out of his office.
"Maybe you can get your girlfriend to kiss it better tonight?" Chin teased.
Kono watched Steve's forehead wrinkle as he brought his brows together. Girlfriend. She kept walking. "Maybe she will," she said to Chin.
"Sorry – "
"Chin, let's go," Steve said. "Priscilla Māhoe's mother says she just showed up at her place. I want to talk to her about Moriaka." He shrugged into his shirt. "Kono."
"Put some ice on that knee."
She didn't even try to figure out how he'd known about her knee, just grinned at him. Steve had heard Chin and her. Bossing her around to take care of herself was his way of saying he didn't care about what he'd heard.
Chin squeezed her shoulder on his way out after Steve.
Well, one down, one to go. Maybe she should say something to Danny and stop wondering. After she got that bandage from her desk and the Tylenol. Ow.
"Aren't you and McGarrett usually joined at the hip?" Chief Adams asked Danny. He asked it with an amused and friendly look, though, and no innuendo in his tone. Danny just laughed instead of bristling and gestured to Kono. The blinds over the large window behind his desk were halfway up, letting the room fill with light so brilliant it bleached the color away. The light even gleamed white off the brown skin under Adams' closely-cropped hair.
"Thought the rookie needed to spend some time with a real cop and learn some things."
"Oh, that's why you brought me to Chief Adams," Kono cooed.
Adams laughed easily. Danny mimed a mortal wound to the heart.
"Officer Kalakaua, I suspect the HPD is going to be kicking itself for years over losing you to those cowboys at Five-O. Your badge and patrol car will be waiting if you ever change your mind," Adams told her.
"Thank you, sir."
"Stop that. We poached her fair and square."
"Take a seat, Williams, and tell me why you're really here."
They settled into the chairs facing Adam's desk. Kono stretched her leg out straight to ease the pressure on her knee.
"We know you've got more work than time," Danny said. He eyed the files on Adam's desk with a jaundiced air. "But we ran into what looks like a lead on the Eileen McGarrett case – "
Adam's previously steady gaze flickered. "I remember that one. I was a rookie, but every cop on the island took that killing wrong."
"Yeah," Danny agreed, "Any cop would. Problem is, the case file's gone missing."
Grim anger greeted that news. Danny held up his hand before Adam's could explode. "And that would be why McGarrett isn't here – he's too close to it when it was probably his dad who removed the file."
"You said you had a lead?" Adams prompted after regaining control.
"More like a thread," Danny said. "Something to tug on. Some new connections, new ways to look at what was already investigated, maybe a new question or two. Plus, it's been nearly twenty years, which means there's new forensic tests that could get something else from the old evidence."
Kono stayed quiet while Danny worked Chief Adams, watching as the two men got comfortable with each other, and the way Danny had Adams nodding along with him as he ticked off items on his fingers.
"We've got the Governor's backing, which means money to spend on a cold case that the PD can't spare. I know how it is, there's never enough in the budget to stretch for something like this when there's too much on your plate already."
"It isn't that we don't want to," Adams said.
Danny gestured wide. "Exactly."
"So what do you want from me?" Adams wasn't completely bamboozled, but the little dance had been all about Danny showing his respect for the other man.
Danny shifted a little uncomfortably while shooting Kono a nervous glance, then nodded to himself. "Did you work the case at all? It hadn't occurred to me that you could have been on it."
"I was on patrol back then."
"What was the talk about McGarrett back then?"
Adams steepled his fingers before him. "I presume you mean John McGarrett? The only talk about the current McGarrett then was which college would recruit him – the boy was a star on the football field."
"Steve's dad, yeah."
At least they weren't looking at Steve as a suspect, Kono thought with silent hysteria. Though, God knew, plenty of high school age kids did kill. But Steve hadn't had any motive or the training then to make a car bomb. These days, of course, he could put one together in his sleep. His old friend Nick Taylor had shown just how dangerous someone like Steve could be if he ever went off the reservation.
After a long minute of thought, Adams picked up his phone and pressed a button. "Maura? What do I have scheduled for the rest of the day?" He paused, listening, then said, "Hold my calls and push everything back half an hour or reschedule, with my apologies. I know, I owe you." He set the receiver down again.
"Thank you, Chief," Danny said.
The glare of light from behind him made it hard to see Adams' expression, but not the motion as he nodded.
"John McGarrett, according to talk back then, was a typical cop in most ways. He was heading up the Organized Crime Unit, which meant a hell of lot of paperwork, and probably neglecting his family."
Now it was Danny nodding.
"You know what that can do to a marriage."
"Why I'm in Hawaii now."
"Silver linings, brah," Kono murmured.
Adams exhaled slowly before going on, his voice lower and less certain. "You hear things, even as a rookie, though."
"Like?" Danny asked quietly.
Kono slid her hand into her pocket and hoped Adams wouldn't notice her turning the voice recorder on her phone on. She didn't want to make notes; it might make Adams rethink talking about the past. She had to glance down to use the touchscreen and wished for once that she had something less cutting edge. Buttons she could have memorized and used by feel.
"Maybe McGarrett was a little too much of a hard-ass. Maybe evidence sometimes 'appeared' very conveniently. Most people weren't too worried about the Yakuza back then, but he was obsessed with an up-and-comer."
"Noshimuri," Kono said.
"You've been doing your homework," Adams approved. "Yes. No matter what he did, McGarrett couldn't quite get enough on him to bust him."
"And this was pretty widely known through the HPD?" Danny asked.
"Like I said, even the rookies driving patrol knew about it." Adams sighed. "Anything else I can tell you?"
Danny stood up, so Kono followed suit.
"Nothing except whatever you just didn't say," Danny said.
Adams went still.
"Sometimes patrol officers see a car they know," Adams said.
"Like a Mercury Marquis."
Another nod confirmed Danny's guess. Kono blinked until she remembered the car Steve was restoring. The Mercury Marquis had belonged to his dad. Oh shit.
"Some place it wasn't supposed to be."
"Three or four times, I saw it at an apartment complex in the afternoons. Once I saw him with a blonde woman. My training officer told me to keep it to myself."
"Did you find out who the blonde was?"
"No," Adams answered. "Jake – the guy I was riding with – said something about McGarrett playing pattycakes." He lifted a shoulder. "I remember that because it didn't make sense. Maybe the blonde was a CI. Maybe she was a friend. Jake was on his third divorce and figured all guys – " He gave Kono an apologetic look. " – cheated and all wives deserved it."
Yeah, that would explain why the guy had been on his third divorce.
After they'd left the Chief's office, on the drive back to HQ, Kono couldn't stay quiet. "He was having an affair."
"Maybe," Danny said. He braked for a yellow light and someone behind them honked in frustration. Kono understood why Steve preferred to drive even in Danny's car.
She fiddled with her phone, double checking she'd got the interview recorded. She shifted and then reached over and turned the air conditioning on high. The fan sounds eased the uncomfortable silence in the car.
"Look, Kono, if you stay a cop, this is what you're going to run into over and over." He tapped his fingers on the steering wheel and kept his eyes forward on the stop light. "Even the good guys aren't perfect."
"Steve's going to hate this."
The light went green and Danny shifted and accelerated through the intersection and down the street. "It's nothing new," he said eventually. "Adultery. Adams is right about cop marriages too."
"I know, but... " Kono looked at Danny, then at the storefronts sliding by her window, then back. "Did you ever cheat?"
Danny flicked his gaze to the side. "I never cheated on Rachel," he stated. His eyes were clear blue and sincere. The Camaro hummed down the road, engine a throaty, even roar, course undeviating, almost as good as a lie detector.
But Danny hadn't answered Kono's question. She thought about hickeys and nights spent over at his ex-wife's home; she decided she didn't want to know the answer after all. Even good guys weren't perfect.
"This – if McGarrett was having an affair, it's another motive," Danny said. "Shit, we need to talk to people that knew both of them. Friends. Neighbors. His partner. He must have a had a partner – why don't we know who John McGarrett partnered?"
Kono let him redirect the conversation to the case. "You could ask Steve."
"Yeah, I could stick my hand in a shark's mouth to find out if it has teeth, too."
"I'll call Mary. She might remember some family friends."
"I'll pull John McGarrett's personnel file and find out who partnered with before talking over the OCU."
Chin and Steve were back when they arrived. Kono and Danny didn't say anything about the interview with Chief Adams, instead they joined in as Chin and Steve explained what Marioka's ex-girlfriend had told them, because it was pure gold.
All the Yakuza money in the islands was being laundered and invested by a single accountant slash stockbroker, a lilywhite-looking WASP with a handful of Ivy League degrees and a perverted taste for little girls. Not just school girls. Little girls. Kono gagged a little as Chin explained what Priscilla Māhoe had revealed.
"The accountant is a pedophile."
"Why'd she tell you this?" Danny asked.
"Priscilla is pretty pissed off over being dumped," Chin said.
"She isn't pleased over having to work at the cannery, that's for sure," Steve added. He looked focused and intent, because they had a line on Noshimuri now. Probably planning how to arrest the accountant using a full out SWAT assault. It was hard to grudge him that. Kono thought going in hot was fun too.
"The thing is, Priscilla's smarter than Marioka's average bimbo. She paid attention when everyone was talking."
Kono guessed what Chin meant was the Yakuza had treated Priscilla and any other women like they were furniture. Probably why Priscilla hadn't lasted, if she had any spine.
"I kept thinking she was going to whip out a set of notes."
Chin laughed. "Yeah. It didn't hurt that she took one look at you and – " He stopped.
Kono shoved her elbow into his side viciously. "What, went into heat? Half the women on the island see the boss and want to climb him like a tree."
"Please, please, tell me you aren't one of that demographic," Danny begged.
"Yeah, I don't think I'm Kono's type," Steve said. Embarrassment and amusement tangled in his expression.
Kono widened her eyes at him. Oh, fuck you, Steve, she thought. He thought he had her number, well then, he needed a little lesson. "Oh, I don't know. The muscles, the tattoos, my tastes could stretch to that. I like a guy who can keep up with me."
All three of them were staring at her in horror. She laughed at them. "If I didn't know him."
Danny was covering his face. "TMI,TMI."
"So Priscilla had some names for us?" Kono asked brightly.
"One very important name: Devon Edlinger."
Chin put a Hawaii driver's license on display that showed Devon Edlinger, complete with his razor cut blond hair and wire-rimmed glasses.
"Priscilla heard Marioka and Ito talking about Edlinger. They were worried."
"You mean even these guys have some limits?" Kono asked. Though, of course, they did. There were as many kinds of criminals as there were individuals who committed crimes. Most of them despised child molesters and rapists, especially if they considered themselves professional criminals.
Chin snorted. "No. They were worried that if Edlinger progressed from child porn to actually going after a kid, he'd get himself busted."
"Which is exactly what's going to happen," Steve declared.
"You are not setting up a little girl as bait for this douche," Danny snapped.
"Of course not!" Steve looked horrified, which relieved Kono.
"We're going to get him on possession of child pornography. Priscilla says this guy has an entire library of it – most of it provided by the Yakuza, imported from Japan." Chin straightened up. "She says she was there when Marioka delivered a selection to him. They were providing it to keep Edlinger from going out to find his own." He folded his arms. "This is one pissed off woman. She'll testify."
"Is that enough to get a search warrant, though?"
"It is if we go to a judge who owes the Governor a favor or two," Danny said. He shrugged. "What? It's the truth. You use what you've got and this sleaze – " he stabbed a finger at Edlinger's picture, " – needs to be locked away."
Steve looked pleased. "Edlinger will talk."
"And then you'll have Noshimuri and his entire organization," Danny agreed.
"And once we start squeezing his balls, he'll give up Wo Fat," Steve said.
"Just be satisfied getting a potential molester off the streets along with taking down the entire infrastructure the Yakuza have built here, McGarrett." Danny thumped Steve's back companionably. "Don't get greedy."
Chin and Danny went through every warrant application letter by letter, then walked them through the court, and had them in hand. The judge took a look at Priscilla's signed statement and signed off. The Governor wasn't even mentioned. Kono knew that was good. Five-O played the political muscle card too often and it was going to cost them some day, because it kept them from making any other allies in the law enforcement bureaucracy.
Kono had participated in enough arrests, raids, and searches by this point to appreciate the textbook quality of the op when they swept up Edlinger. It went so smooth and sweet it was almost surreal. The kind of bad guys they usually went after tended to shoot back, but Edlinger was a pussy and hadn't a clue what kind of hammer was coming down on him until SWAT smashed down his front door. They swept through each room, clearing it without problems, like black-armored angels of wrath, but no shots were fired, no one even tripped on a rug, and Kono never even broke a sweat. She got home early enough to do her laundry and call her mother before fixing herself dinner for once. She came in to the office the next morning still pumped from their success.
With HPD still cataloging the filthy trove of child porn Edlinger had in the false back of his bedroom closet, along with everything he had on his personal laptop, there wasn't even a tiny chance Edlinger could wiggle his way out. Edlinger, at his attorney's urging, was singing in exchange for a deal that wouldn't put him in central lock-up bunking with a Samoan inside for beating a man to death for leering at his daughter once. (Chin had helpfully given Edlinger the file on his potential bunkie to read.)
Steve was all over using everything Edlinger spilled to put together a case against Noshimuri and all his thugs and Chin was up to his neck in it too, following the financial forensics and fitting the pieces together into as complete a picture of Yakuza operations in Hawaii, the West Coast, plus the tentacles that reached as far as Australia and New Zealand. Danny and Kono did their part too, but when Chin started getting testy over their 'interference' in his system, they decided to get out and pursue other avenues in regard to Eileen's case.
Maybe Kono was getting a little obsessed. She wasn't going to let anyone know she thought of it as Eileen's case.
Other avenues included old neighbors and friends of the McGarretts. Steve hadn't been any help there, but Mary had got back to them with an email of names she remembered. Out of the list she sent, they found Don and Marla George still lived two houses down from Steve's place, Marcy Iona was divorced and lived on the Big Island, Oliana Kamaka was on vacation – Europe, long saved for according to her son – and Wilhelmina Baker was more than happy to talk to them if they came to her. She owned and worked at a nursery and didn't drive any longer.
A high school age kid directed Kono and Danny to the employee's only portion of the front building and dimly-lit office with the door propped open. "Mrs. Baker?" Kono called.
"Come in. You can shut the door if you want this private."
Danny pulled the door half-way shut. Enough to give them privacy, but let them hear anything happening outside.
Wilhelmina Baker was in her fifties, wore thick, unapologetic, black-framed glasses, and dressed in a peasant blouse and jeans. She'd cut her completely white hair into a neat cap. She reminded Kono of Dame Judi Dench. She didn't stand up when they came in, just nodded to them and gestured them to take seats while she shut down her computer. She moved with deliberate care. A cane with a padded wrist brace was snapped into a holder mounted on her desk. Unsurprising in a nursery, she had a pot of red tulips on the window sill behind her.
Though the office was larger and less elegant, it reminded Kono of the one belonging to Lillian Harris at the gallery. It smelled like cool, damp soil and a mixture of fertilizers and living rather than cut flowers, though. It smelled good, the way the sawdust scent of a lumberyard did. The papers on the desk were in neat stacks. It looked like Mrs. Baker was preparing her quarterly taxes.
Music from the customer portion of the building drifted in, an eclectic musical mishmash of zydeco and local Hawaiian sounds that made Kono want to tap her toes and dance. Good music to listen to while working.
"Oh, don't call me that. I'm divorced. Willy is fine."
"Okay, Willy," Danny said with a grin. The chairs were blond wicker with cushions and he pulled his a little closer to the desk before sitting. "We're hoping you can help us."
"I'm not crazy, you said you wanted to talk to me about Eileen McGarrett?"
"Right," Danny agreed. "It's a cold case, but we never really give up."
"Well," she said, "what can I tell you that will help?"
"You knew both Eileen and John?"
Wilhelmina nodded. "I did. Back when I was married to the Bastard."
"The Bastard?" Kono asked.
"Mr. Baker. He left the island, thanks to John."
Willy gave her an amused look. "The four of us used to socialize, then I got my diagnosis. Eileen found me crying over the divorce papers a month later. A couple of days after that, the Bastard packs his stuff and my lawyer tells me he's giving me the house and alimony and anything else I wanted. He'd have given up the Crown Jewels, if he'd had them. It was hard to miss that he looked like he'd either run face first into a bulldozer or a pissed off cop's fists."
And they got another facet of Steve's father, one that sounded a great deal like Steve.
"Yeah?" Danny chuckled. "Sounds like he deserved whatever McGarrett dished out."
Willy shrugged, the movement lasting a little longer than normal. Kono didn't want to ask what the diagnosis had been; it wasn't her business. Obviously, Willy Baker had coped, even if her ex-husband couldn't. "I sold the house and started this nursery with the capitol it provided. Even twenty years ago, beachfront property was worth a hell of a lot. Looking back, it was kind of shitty – that house had been in Mark's family for two generations. But back then? I was just pissed at him for being such a cowardly shit."
Kono nodded at that. Some people just couldn't deal with illnesses. She'd had a boyfriend when she blew out her knee. When it became clear her pro-surfing career was over, Brad had moved on to the next hottie with a plus-one ticket to Famoustown. She got over it, because she hadn't been in love with him, but she still thought of him as Bradley the Big Douche. She'd heard he accidentally ran his nose into Chin's fist too, which was only okay because she hadn't been on her feet to punch him herself.
"You didn't come to hear about my problems with Mike Baker."
"No, actually, we wanted to know if John and Eileen had any problems."
Willy blinked in surprise. She pursed her mouth, then took off her glasses and opened a desk drawer to fish out a handerkerchief she used to wipe the lenses. Her eyes looked larger without the heavy lenses and more hazel than brown. She didn't wear mascara, but her lashes, like her brows, were still dark. Her brows drew together in a frown as she thought.
"I read in the paper that John had been killed," she said at last.
"Yes. As a result, some things have come to light that could give us a chance at solving Eileen's murder," Danny explained patiently.
"It feels wrong, considering he was nothing but good to me," Willy said.
"But Eileen was my best friend and she was so sad sometimes." Willy replaced her glasses and straightened her shoulders. "John never hit her or their kids, but he starved her of any life outside of the house. Eileen did everything. She was the one who did everything for the kids, the one who made that family work, and John was hardly ever there."
"Typical cop," Danny said. "Speaking as a divorced one."
Through the open door, the sound of two children quarreling pitched above the noise of an old-fashioned cash register ringing up, then a mother calling both kids to get in the car. All of them listened in awe as Mom declared, "If I catch either of you pulling the leaves off those plants, I'm taking you both to the barber and getting your heads shaved."
Two high-pitched voices piped in unison, "Yes, Mom."
Willy snickered right along with Kono and Danny.
"That's one threat I've never tried on Gracie."
"You never threaten Grace," Kono said confidently. "Bribes. You bribe you daughter."
"You have a daughter?" Willy asked.
"Grace. Yes. I moved here after the divorce so I could see her as often as possible."
"You see, that's something John McGarrett wouldn't have done. If Eileen had taken the kids to the mainland and her family, he would have stayed with his job. He was – he treated her like a subordinate, like he would have someone in the Navy, really, he treated everyone that way. I'm sure he popped Mike in the kisser because he saw him as failing in his duty to me."
"He sent Steve and Mary away after Eileen died," Kono said.
"Did he?" Willy didn't sound surprised. "I wasn't there for them. I'd moved out of the neighborhood by then and trying to build a business and deal with my disease didn't leave me enough extra to help anyone else. I feel badly about that."
"Do you think McGarrett would have been unfaithful to Eileen?" Danny asked. "Would he have done that if he thought she was involved with someone?"
"You're talking about the young man from the gallery."
"Wo Fat," Kono confirmed.
Willy was shaking her head. Her voice quivered and rose. "Eileen would never. She didn't. I know. She came and talked to me after John accused her. It – she was wrecked that he would think so."
"But he did think so."
"According to Eileen."
"I'm sorry for upsetting you, Willy," Danny said gently.
"Not your fault, I get teary over the stupidest things anyway," Willy dismissed the apology. She glared at the wall for a moment before continuing, "You asked if he would have cheated on Eileen. I don't know. That night, after he made a scene at the gallery and told her she had to quit, she stayed at my house. Apparently, he threatened to kill her friend. She was so angry and hurt by it all and then she said... She said John was a terrible hypocrite sometimes." She shrugged. "I don't know about what, though. She may have been talking about his job."
"It's still helpful," Kono assured her.
"I can't be sure, but it seemed like John was perfectly happy with Eileen as long as her life revolved around him and the kids. As soon as she had something that was just hers, he hated it. Well, maybe hate is too strong a word. Resented it."
"She was friends with Wo Fat, though? The man John thought she was involved with?" Danny inquired.
"Friends... Yes, friends, because Eileen was a friendly person, but I don't think it was a really close friendship. She liked him, she said he was smart and courteous and paid her attention, but it was all on the surface. There was nothing sexual in it for Eileen, nothing even very intimate."
Kono knew it didn't matter in the terms of the case whether Eileen had been seriously involved with Wo Fat or not. Her husband had thought she was. He'd been angry, he'd made threats, he might have been unfaithful himself, and then Eileen McGarrett had died. Been killed. Danny was right. How had HPD not put John McGarrett under a microscope? He'd had motive, his Navy training and time in Vietnam meant he had the skills, and his job as a police officer meant he'd know where to get explosives. So there was means. The only question remaining was if he'd had opportunity.
They needed to know more about the car bomb itself and where John McGarrett had been when it was put in Eileen McGarrett's car.
Willy folded her hands together. They were trembling a little from emotion and maybe illness. Kono felt badly for upsetting her so much.
"I told her to get a divorce," Willy said. "She said no. She loved him."
Danny came by Kono's apartment in the morning. He poked in her refrigerator while she watered her plants. She needed to clean; there was dust on nearly every surface.
"You haven't got any food in here at all," Danny commented.
"There's cereal and soymilk."
"That isn't food."
"Excuse me, I haven't had any time to shop lately." Or do laundry, Kono reminded herself as she pulled her bathroom door shut to hide the overflowing hamper.
Danny closed the refrigerator door. "Okay, I'll give you that one. We'll stop along the way, grab some malasadas and coffee."
"Where are we going?"
"Kailua – "
Kono finished her walk through the apartment, gave the refrigerator door an extra push to make sure it was closed – it didn't always and Danny wasn't wise to its eccentricities – and made sure everything was off that needed to be. She checked she had her weapon, her badge, ID, and shoved her phone in her pocket. "Okay, but we should stop at Shirokiya and get andagi."
The door locked with a distinct clack behind her. Danny looked inquiring and skeptical. "Andagi?"
"Don't worry, you'll love them."
"That's what people say about anything with pineapple. This isn't going to involve pineapple, is it?"
"It's a Japanese-type cake donut. It involves lard and sugar and vanilla," Kono assured him.
"Two of the major food groups!" Danny said happily. "Now, if I get cream with my coffee, my day will be made."
"Your arteries are going to explode someday."
"Hey, I see you eating malasadas every time I bring them into the office."
Kono settled into the passenger seat of Danny's car and relaxed. Danny maneuvered them through the thickening morning traffic without difficulty. He even took the same shortcuts Honolulu natives did to save time, including cutting through the back of a particularly large parking lot to avoid one slow intersection everyone hated.
"Hey, Danny," Kono said, "take the Pali Highway or we'll be sitting behind tour buses all the way from Aina Haina to Kailua."
"Hey, you were the one who wanted to hit Shirokiya first."
"It'll be worth it," she assured him. "Anyway, who are we going to see in Kailua?"
"Adams called me last night, said he'd got hold of the bomb tech who worked the case back then and he has the complete forensics file on the car bombing," Danny explained. "He's willing to give it to us if we come talk to him face to face." He turned the car into the closest parking they were going to find before they headed into the Ala Moana Center in search of caffeine and pastries.
They ate andagi and sipped coffee in the car afterward as Danny sped northeast past the Oahu Country Club and through the Honolulu Watershed Forest Reserve. By mutual, silent agreement, they kept the talk to lighter matters like whether the place on Beretania or Leonard's had the best malasadas and whether Kamekona could really make it as a sumo wrestler. The fact that John McGarrett had become their prime suspect in his wife's murder was off the table.
Robert Chang was living with his divorced daughter, taking care of her two kids, while she worked at the MCBH up the road every day. The children had left for school by the time Danny eased his car up to the curb in front of a cookie-cutter tract house and Chang invited them both inside once they'd showed him their IDs. Chang himself was only Danny's height, with iron-gray hair and still sharp, dark eyes.
He had a dusty, corrugated cardboard box sealed with duct tape on the dining room table. The house itself was clean, though littered with toys, while a plasma screen, Xbox and Wii were the center of the living room. Morning light poured in from the kitchen. "Everything I had on the case when I retired," he told them. "Coffee?"
"Only if you have a washroom I can use first," Kono said with a laugh.
"She hasn't developed a cop's bladder yet," she heard Danny confide.
"Don't laugh, kid," Chang said, "someday you'll be charting everywhere you go by where you can stop and piss."
"I've got a nine year old."
Chang handed her a heavy ceramic mug with a USMC logo on it when Kono returned. The contents smelled strong enough to take the place of military grade speed. Kono sipped it cautiously, while Danny slurped his down in something like bliss. They sat at the dining table and Chang sliced open the taped box. Neither Kono or Danny said anything about the legality of switchblade he used. It went back in Chang's pocket once he had the flaps of the box pulled wide.
"Manuel Adams talked to me last night," he said.
"We would have tracked you down eventually, but it's a lot easier this way," Danny said. He nodded to the box. "You might not have brought this out without the Chief, right?"
Danny nodded and said to Kono, "See, this is why you don't always do it Steve's way. You can't force cooperation. Not even from people who are on the same side as you – especially from them."
"Now there was something John McGarrett never got," Chang remarked.
"You knew him."
"By the time I was pulled from the case of his wife's murder I knew him better than I ever wanted to."
"Ouch," Kono commented.
Chang thumped the side of the cardboard box. "You see this? Everything in here is exactly as the investigation uncovered it. I don't know what the homicide file looked like, but I know I was 're-tasked' because I wouldn't change a report to satisfy McGarrett. He shouldn't have been allowed anywhere near that investigation."
"Yeah, I got you there," Danny agreed.
Kono sipped her coffee and tried to hide the wince that followed tasting it.
"What kind of change did McGarrett want made to the report on the bomb?"
"He wanted me to leave out some things. Said they were 'opinion'."
"But in your case that would be an expert opinion," Kono asked, "wouldn't it?"
That made Chang snort. "And not just mine."
Danny wouldn't be detoured from his course of questioning. "So what was it?"
"I examined the bomb debris, the triggering mechanism, and the materials. All of them were straight out of the Navy's explosives' manuals. Except for a couple wire twists that were a signature some guys picked up in Vietnam."
"McGarrett was a lieutenant in the Navy and served in Vietnam."
"So were a hell of a lot of men and women living in Hawaii." Chang went on and poured himself a second cup of coffee.
"That didn't prove anything. The fingerprint did."
"What fingerprint?" Danny didn't even try to hide his burning interest.
Kono set her coffee mug down fast, almost sloshing the motor oil thick liquid onto the table top.
"I pulled a fingerprint from the passenger side door. Never matched it to anyone. McGarrett wanted me to falsify my report and say it matched some Yakuza guy's prints." Chang shook his head. "I have no idea if that guy was involved or McGarrett just had it in for him, but there wasn't even a single point in common with the print I pulled."
"Noshimuri?" Danny asked.
Chang nodded. "Yeah. I ran the print, just to see who it belonged to."
"The original fingerprint... Is it in there?"
"It disappeared. I don't know how or when." Chang grimaced. "I don't even know who, though I always suspected McGarrett. If he couldn't get me to set up the guy he was after, then McGarrett wanted to make sure it couldn't be used to exonerate him."
"Shit!" Danny clutched at his hair for a second. "That sonovabitch!"
Kono stared at the surface of her coffee. How many people had really thought John McGarrett was kind of a sketchy character but never said a word? Then again, how many people knew their neighbor was beating up his wife every payday or a priest was touching some of the altar boys or the woman in marketing was padding all her accounts. No one wanted to know, no one wanted to have to do something. People turned a blind eye all the time and cops were the worst.
She could almost understand Wo Fat's weird attitude toward Steve under the circumstances. If he and Eileen had been friends, then he'd look kindly on her son, only Steve was John's son too and seemed bent on following in his father's steps.
No doubt Wo Fat wished he'd never heard of or met any McGarrett.
"It wasn't McGarrett's print?"
"No. Not that his print on his wife's car would have meant anything."
"So someone else."
"Hell, any good lawyer would point out the print was on the outside of the car. It could have been anyone," Chang said. "It didn't prove anything, except that it worried McGarrett so much, you know?" He shoved the box toward Danny. "Take it. Maybe you'll have better luck now than Aarons and I had back then. At least you won't have McGarrett interfering."
Danny angled a look at Kono, a look filled with sardonic amusement.
They sent the evidence from the car bombing to the FBI labs, along with copies of Robert Chang's findings for comparison, and returned to work on the ever expanding antiquities case, which had in turn become the Yakuza investigation, information from which was also being shared with numerous agencies including again the FBI (interstate crime), the DEA, ICE, Customs, the BATF, local law enforcement departments in several cities including Long Beach, Seattle and and LA, the CIA, and, from what Kono could determine, even the dog catcher's cousin's wife. No way the Yakuza didn't know the hammer was about to come down. With that many people in the know, someone would have leaked it.
Kono imagined local Yakuza in the other cities scrambling like cockroaches in the light in response. It helped that she and the rest of Five-O had the pleasure of serving the arrest warrant on Hiro Noshimuri three days later.
Noshimuri was stone-faced through the arrest, as Steve cuffed him, and through booking. His facade never cracked once.
His employees weren't as stoic and the yelling, threats, and offers to 'make a deal' were music to every cop's ears.
They got the same line, every time: "Give us Wo Fat and you can walk."
All of them except Noshimuri, because everyone knew he wouldn't buy it, no matter how they sold it. Noshimuri was going down, but he'd go down without uttering a word.
Kono was fine with that.
The entire team swooped do
wn on Thomas Halē only a day after the Noshimuri bust, armed with warrants to examine his home, holdings, storage, and bank accounts or other financial dealings. Success bred success; judges were happy to issue warrants for the conquering heroes who made h
eadlines. Everyone from the Governor to the State Attorney General on down were catching a lot of reflected glory.
Of course, Steve wanted to go in guns blazing. Danny got him to compromise. They were geared up, with more back-up on call, but they knocked on the man's door before starting an assault. It was a Saturday morning. People were mowing their lawns, jogging, yelling at the neighbor and their dog for the poop in the daffodil bed; a shoot-out in suburbia would be a bad thing if it wasn't necessary.
Halē owned a small house in a less than well-to-do suburb. It certainly didn't scream money-grubbing crook the way Edlinger's walled villa had. The maroon Lexus in the driveway was six years old. The house itself needed a paint job.
"This guy isn't a violent criminal," Danny said. "He's just some shlub who got greedy."
Whatever he'd done with the money, he hadn't put into his home. But Chin would find out where it had gone. Maybe Halē had a drug habit or gambled. Either could suck up enough income to push a man into taking bribes to look away.
"He's a Customs agent."
"Who is at home, not getting ready to re-enact the Alamo."
Danny still pulled on his kevlar, buckled it tight, and had his weapon in his hand, his body turned sideways to the door and to the side, when he rapped his fist against the front door of Halē's house and shouted, "Thomas Halē! Five-O! Open the door!"
Halē's face went grim and pale as Danny pushed the warrants into his hands. He barely glanced down at them, just stepped back, allowing Danny and Steve to march into his house. Kono followed and stayed in the foyer, watching Halē to make sure he didn't try to rabbit or pull a gun and do something even stupider when or if the rest of the team found something. Chin would be around the back of the house, watching for runners or anything else. They were all wearing radios to stay in touch; Chin would let them know if he caught anything or anyone.
Danny and Steve methodically searched each room of the house. Neither Halē's sister or nephew were present, which made it both easier and safer, though it was easy to see that each of them lived there too. The house had three bedrooms and all were obviously used.
After a while, Halē slapped the folded papers of the warrant against his palm and turned to Kono. "Mind if we go sit down in the kitchen?"
Kono toggled on her mike and spoke quietly. "Boss, Mr. Halē and I will be in the kitchen. Over."
Danny's voice rose loud enough to be heard from the other end of the house. "You couldn't just yell? Seriously? Radios between rooms in the same house? What's next, texting each other while we're at the same table? Emailing each other when we're riding in the car, IMs from the... "
Kono gestured for Halē to proceed her. She glimpsed Chin leaning against the backyard fence through the kitchen's window. Breakfast dishes were washed and air-drying on a rack next to the sink. A single cup of coffee, still half full, sat on the counter. Halē picked it up and brought it to the table before seating himself. Kono leaned against the counter.
Danny's voice drifted in from the direction of the bedrooms. "Contrary to what you may have been taught in the military, it isn't necessary to destroy someone's belongings to search them, Steven."
Halē grimaced but said nothing, just sipped his coffee. He left the warrants sitting on the table by his other hand, tapping his fingers slowly, almost meditatively, just short of them. Some of his color had come back, but he still had a green, ill tinge a
nd his expression stayed bleak as if he'd seen lava flow through his house and life instead of Steve and Danny. Maybe there wasn't that much difference metaphorically.
He only looked up when Danny and Steve tromped into the kitchen and dropped a heavy duffle bag onto the table top.
"Interesting, the things you find in a hidden space under the bed and the dust bunnies," Danny declared as he unzipped the bag and pulled it open to display packets of twenties, fifties and hundreds stuffed inside. He fished out a cheap account book sitting on top and opened it. "I'm sure the accountants will appreciate you keeping such close track of what you have here."
Steve pulled out a packet of hundred dollar bills and fanned it. "Nothing to say?" Steve prompted. "No denials, no insistence it isn't yours – ?"
Halē sighed quietly.
"Well, to be fair, Steven, most people, and the IRS, spend a lot more time arguing money is theirs than that it isn't. Maybe Mr. Halē here is just unfamiliar with the technique."
"And I'm here all week," Danny agreed. He pulled out a straight chair with a screech and settled himself in it. "So, see, here's the thing."
Halē gave him an unimpressed look, like he was already tired of listening.
"I have got to wonder, what with you having this fiscal cushion, why you live in such a shithole."
"You don't get to talk, Danno."
"Oh, but I do," Danny insisted, "because I too live in a pisspoor excuse for an apartment. This is because I live on my less than generous fiduciary recompense from the grand state of Hawaii. Now, I suspect the feds pay a little more, but not that much more." He raised his eyebrows at Steve. "What about the military? The navy pay you enough to stuff hundreds in a hole hidden under your bed? Or, wait, you lived on boats, so if you put a hole under your bed, you'd probably have drowned – "
"Who paid you the money?" Steve demanded.
Danny pouted. "There he goes again," he said to Kono, "ruining my fun."
Kono shrugged at him elaborately and widened her eyes.
"Do yourself a favor and talk to us," Danny told Halē. He sounded sympathetic.
In contrast, Steve didn't sound sympathetic at all. He loomed over Halē in his chair. "Who bought you?"
"Twenty years, that's kind of impressive, actually," Danny went on.
"I mean, here you've kept your head down all this time, put the money away, played it cooler than freon, and then, bam, we show up anyway. And you know why we showed up at your door? Yeah. Jimmy. Your own flesh and blood."
Halē closed his eyes and curled his hand into a loose fist. He didn't deny it; he'd already connected the dots the same way Chin had only in reverse.
"You know, if it was me? I'd be pretty pissed right now."
"Tell me that when it is you," Halē said.
Danny flattened his hands on the table and leaned forward, the sympathy leached out of his voice when he spoke. "No. It's never going to be me, get that? Just because you got dirty, don't think the rest of us are or ever will be." He jerked a thumb at Steve, then pointed at Kono. "You see these people? They are never, ever going to sell out for
Halē laughed rustily. "There's more ways they get to you than money."
"So who got to you?" Danny had reverted to sincerity. "Give us a name. Something to take the weight off."
"I'm fucked anyway," Halē muttered finally. "Li Nuan."
Kono straightened up. She saw Steve and Danny's interest sharpen too. This was a new name.
"Li Nuan," Halē repeated slowly. "Licensed Customs Broker."
"That's not the name on the Entry Processes for the last shipment off the Manlangit Sarimanok." Steve growled under his breath. "Don't screw around."
"The last shipment was Jimmy's friend's outfit. I gave them the pipeline, walked the guy from Blue Parrot through the paperwork myself, then signed off the way I've been doing for Li."
"Wait, wait," Kono said. "Li. Li, Otis, and Bertrand."
Steve scowled epically. "Li's dead."
"Relative," Danny said quickly. "No way is this coincidence."
Halē shrugged again, his eyes blank, and Kono thought he'd just given up. He didn't care enough to try to fight what was happening or try to wiggle out of it. She had to wonder what had sucked all the life from him, because it wasn't the bust. No way. Halē had broken a long time ago. He wasn't fighting them, any more than he'd fought the Yakuza when they showed up to muscle their way into the lucrative antiquities trade. In the end, it didn't matter to the case, but Kono wanted to know. Knowing would be like inoculating herself against being corrupted in the same way.
She looked at Halē's profile. Of course, there really wasn't any vaccine against despair.
"It was never guns, you know," Halē said. "Never guns or drugs. Never human trafficking. Just art. Artifacts. No one was ever hurt."
"Right," Danny said as he got up. "You mean you didn't chance getting hurt. Guns and drugs and humans, another agent with a dog could have sniffed out and then it would have all blown up in your face. Don't tell me you had morals. You were just too smart to run that risk. Too bad you weren't smart enough to keep your nephew from finding out and running his mouth to someone with a Yakuza connection, huh?"
He angled a look at Steve, who was still glaring at Halē.
"C'mon, let's get out of here before the stink sticks."
"Sonovabitch!" Steve exclaimed as they pulled up to Li, Otis, and Bertrand in a stinking cloud of tire smoke. When he turned his head, white hairs at his temples caught the sun, something that had only shown up since his return to Hawaii. The crinkles at the corners of his eyes were deeper too, marking sleepless nights spent pursuing his obsession with Wo Fat when he should have been sleeping after a full day's work. Either the SEALs really did learn to do without sleep or he was hitting some military-grade speed to keep going without significant rest. His expression set into stony frustration and for a second it looked like he would kick in the door of the closed and obviously shut-down gallery.
Instead, he kicked the tire of Danny's car hard enough it rocked. His boots had to be steel-toed or he would have broken something. Danny scowled and ran a hand down the hood of the car as if to comfort against the abuse.
"Hey! Don't abuse the automobile!"
Steve made a frustrated, nearly obscene gesture at the gallery and growled.
Kono pulled out her phone and found the home number she'd obtained from Lillian Harris. The call went through immediately.
"Hello? Mrs. Harris? This is Officer Kalakaua from Five-O ," she said.
Steve wheeled around and started toward her, reaching out to grab the phone away from her. Danny snagged his arm and held him back at the last second, while Kono danced out of reach like she was trying to find a spot with better reception.
"Yes," she said into the phone. "I was wondering if you would be willing to speak with us further – "
Lillian Harris interrupted her to agree, adding that the gallery had been closed without warning or notification the night before and she'd discovered the same only that morning. "But I still have keys, if you need to get inside." Her voice revealed steel. "That bastard. I'll be fine, but he's left everyone else who works there hanging. You know there won't be any paychecks for the last two weeks."
"Do you know why he closed up?"
"I can only assume he has something to hide."
"He didn't tell you?"
A peal of sardonic laughter sounded through the phone's speaker. "No, he didn't. My dear, it might be for years, but I've always been nothing more than employee to Bertrand. I'm not one of the old boys."
Kono nodded to herself, understanding exactly what Lillian meant.
"I don't think he's coming back at all," Lillian added.
They could point Interpol at Bertrand, but Kono sympathized with Steve's frustration. It wasn't as satisfying if you didn't snap the cuffs on your own arrest. The gallery might have provided hard evidence on Wo Fat's involvement with the antiquities trade too and now they just had one more dead end.
Detective Aarons finally responded to their calls and agreed to a conference video call. Unlike some people (from New Jersey, Kono joked only in her mind), Aarons had no difficulty with technology. He was a big, blocky man with a large, freckled bald head and hazel eyes gone blue-ish with the years. Sagging eyelids gave a hound-like melancholy to his features and his white whiskers hadn't seen a razor in a week.
Kono and Danny stayed in HQ's central computer room to conduct the interview rather than set up in one of their offices, since Steve and Chin were out, stuck at the courthouse testifying on one of their other cases.
"Just got back from a fishin' trip up in the mountains. No cell coverage," Aarons explained his delay in returning their calls. "You got something new on the McGarrett killing?"
"Another avenue to explore," Danny said.
Aarons squinted at the camera – at the screen showing their faces more likely – and said, "Not from the Islands originally, are you?"
Danny grinned and leaned closer. "I knew I'd like you as soon as I found out you'd gone back to the mainland."
A smile twitched at Aarons' mouth. "It's cheaper."
Danny groaned his agreement. "Tell me about it."
"How about I tell you about the Eileen McGarrett case," Aarons offered.
"That would be even better," Kono said.
Aarons laid out everything about the case, every piece of evidence, every lead he'd followed, and it became clear to Kono that he had never let go of the case and in fact had memorized the file.
"The Yakuza angle never pinged me," Aarons told them frankly, "McGarrett was pushing it, pushing it hard, but it struck me as faked up. No one wanted to look at McGarrett though – hell, even I didn't – because he was a fellow cop. Then I got told to back off all the Yakuza-related aspects of the case, that they were OCU's problem."
"McGarrett was head of OCU."
Aarons scowled at them. "Yeah. It didn't sit right with me. I started looking at him, the way I should have from the beginning. I could never find enough to pin on him, though. He had an air tight alibi for when the bomb had to have been placed in his wife's car. After a while, the case went cold. A lot of people figured that was better than having to arrest another cop. Busting him wouldn't save his wife, so maybe it was better. Especially since I hear McGarrett's dead now too. Doesn't matter much anymore."
"Not for his kids," Danny pointed out. "Besides, you're saying McGarrett got away with killing his wife."
The sound of swift, indrawn breath snaps Kono's attention from Aarons' face on the hanging flatscreen to the doorway behind her where Steve and Chin are standing in the go-to-court suits.
Chin had a chance to grab Steve's arm, but none of them could stop the slow-motion explosion.
"My father did not kill my mother!" Steve yelled at Danny. Kono froze, afraid he would lunge at his partner and with his skills, do Danny, then her and Chin – because they would have to stop him – real damage. Steve didn't move, though, despite the tremors of reined in anger anyone could see.
"So now we're supposed to ignore the evidence, just like the HPD did nineteen years ago?" Danny replied, his chin up and his gaze gone flat and distant.
Steve pointed at him. "Don't even say that." His voice had gone hoarse and low, a pained quaver at the bottom of the register making Kono ache for him.
"I gotta. I'm a cop. That's what a real cop does. It isn't all about firefights and bad guys, Steven, it's good people who do bad shit. Being a cop isn't fun and that's why." Danny looked sad. He'd likely seen plenty of unhappy people doing stupid, ugly things to each other in New Jersey. Kono knew she had missed out on something most cops experienced by going from the academy to Five-O and not doing the dirty, day to day work most cops did in the beginning.
Steve just shook his head in denial.
Kono wanted to wrap her arms around him and hug him. She switched off the call to Aarons instead. At least they could keep this within Five-O. Outsiders didn't need to see them rip each other up. That kind of weakness would draw the predators circling their task force like blood in the water.
"Wo Fat killed my mother," Steve insisted.
"Why?" Danny asked. "Why? There's no evidence, there's no motive, and I'm not saying he's not a bad guy, he is quite clearly a bad, bad guy, but Steve, that doesn't translate to guilty of every crime ever committed. It doesn't clear your father."
"You'd rather it was my father!"
"No, Steve," Chin said, "no. We'd rather it was cut and dried and obvious anyone else did it." The muscle on his forearm rippled as he tightened his grip on Steve's wrist. "Danny hates this. I hate it. Kono – "
"Would give anything for the evidence to tell us Wo Fat was guilty," she interrupted.
Steve's gaze switched back and forth over the three of them and then he shook his head, denying them or the facts or how much he didn't want to accept what might be the truth after all. Kono couldn't blame him. She even understood, just a little, from how the family had reacted to Chin's presumed corruption. She'd refused to accept it, because she loved her cousin too well, believed in him, and the circumstantial evidence and rumors had been nothing in comparison to that faith. Steve had loved his dad, that was all too clear, even if their relationship had been fraught and distanced.
"I know," Steve insisted. "I know he did it. I don't care what the evidence says. Anyone can manufacture evidence. I've done it –– "
"When?" Danny snapped.
"In the SEALs." Steve looked wounded that Danny would think he would manufacture evidence for any of their cases.
"Okay, okay, yes, obviously, evidence isn't everything and we all know exactly how less than reliable even eyewitnesses are." Danny heaved a deep breath. "But we want to get who really did it, you understand? Framing up Wo Fat... "
"Would put Wo Fat away, but if he isn't the one who killed your mother, then that sonovabitch is still walking free," Chin finished. "You don't want that."
"No," Steve admitted with an exhausted sigh.
Chin let go of his arm and closed a comforting hand on Steve's shoulder instead. "I know, brah, I know."
"Steve – " Danny started.
Steve shook his head again, before spinning on his heel and nearly bolting out of HQ.
"Well, shit," Kono commented. That had gone... not well. She tried to imagine the sick feeling Steve must be experiencing and cringed inside.
"Yeah," Chin agreed.
Danny closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. Light glinted off the hairs on his forearms, bared where he'd rolled up the sleeves of his shirt. "You know what we've got to do now?"
Chin's expression went blank, pretty much the way it did any time he had to deal with other cops who bought the whole rumor of him being dirty.
"We've got to interview Wo Fat," Danny answered himself. "Whoo hoo, that's gonna be fun fun fun."
"Should one of us go after Steve?" Kono asked.
"No," Chin said. "Right now, we're the last people he wants to see."
Finding Wo Fat didn't take even a half hour; he clearly had put himself out in the open deliberately, considering how easily he disappeared off the grid when he desired. Chin set up a meeting politely over the phone, formal and courteous, because that was part of the dance. Wo Fat issued the invitation, keeping it polite acknowledged the man's subtle gesture at cooperation, and in the end cost -O nothing.
They agreed to meet at a business suite in one of the most exclusive hotels.
"Do you really think he'll show?" Kono asked.
"He'll be there," Danny said.
"It makes him look better and he has to know that we don't have anything meriting an arrest," Chin added.
Kono slithered into the backseat of Danny's car and fastened her seatbelt. Her knees hit the back of the driver's seat until Danny moved it forward from where Steve had left it.
She felt woefully underdressed in her jeans and tank-top once more as they rode a glass-walled elevator up to a penthouse suite and decided that she would bring in a practical but dressy outfit to keep in her locker from now on, so she could wrap that armor of looking good around herself on interviews like this one. Looks were a weapon and a protection and a distraction. She just hadn't realized how much a part of her job they would be as a cop. Just because she was a rookie didn't mean she wanted everyone to see that when she was on the job.
Wo Fat's bodyguards were better than most hired muscle, polite and intelligent and fading into the background without ever leaving the room. Kono kept them in periphery of her vision though, unwilling to have them at her back. At the same time, she thought Wo Fat probably needed them, if only to slow Steve down if he went all crazy ninja and came after Wo Fat all by himself. She didn't think he was ready to become a vigilante yet, but he was hovering near the edge. She couldn't bear to contemplate what would happen to Five-O if he ever went over that edge. Would they follow him or save him or be forced to stop him? She could only hope Steve knew how much what he did mattered and left them a choice they could all live with afterward.
She declined the drinks or coffee Wo Fat offered each of them, echoing Danny and Chin.
"I see Commander McGarrett is not with you," Wo Fat commented. His dark eyes and poised expression were almost like Chin's, only Chin always had a glint of humor and warmth about him. Wo Fat was chill as the eye of a shark, reflecting only his estimation of what he saw as threat or prey. It made Kono shiver, though she would have said it was the glacial setting on the penthouse's air conditioning if called on it.
"Perhaps that is for the best," Wo Fat added.
"You're definitely not on his ten favorite people list," Danny said.
"Commander McGarrett inherited many admirable qualities from his father," Wo Fat agreed, "but also his faults."
Danny shrugged, neither denying or agreeing, while Chin gave a tiny nod. Chin was the only one of them to have known both John and Steve, after all.
"We were hoping you could tell us what you remember about Eileen McGarrett," Danny said. "Since it turns out you knew her."
Wo Fat seated himself on a massive chair then set about pouring himself a cup of coffee. The seductive scent wafted across the room. Kono pushed down the desire to change her mind and ask for a cup. All of Wo Fat's movements were precise, deft, and smooth. The expensive gray suit he wore moved naturally with him, refusing to even wrinkle.
He sipped his coffee, placed the delicate china cup back on its saucer sitting on the black-laquered tray, then carefully straightened his cuffs. "Ah, yes, Mrs. McGarrett," he said. His voice held something other sardonic amusement. Kono finally identified it as wistfulness. "A woman of great honor and beauty, with an equally lovely heart."
Kono felt her eyes widen. Maybe McGarrett Sr. had had a reason to be jealous, at least of Wo Fat's intentions. She flicked a glance Chin's way and then to Danny. Danny and Chin both got it too; they had both loved women they had lost in one mannor or another. Wo Fat had been in love with Eileen McGarrett.
She knew then, no matter what things Wo Fat had done, that he hadn't killed Eileen.
"I admired her greatly."
"And Mrs. McGarrett," Danny asked, "how did she feel about you?"
Wo Fat raised an amused eyebrow. "Are you asking if she returned my feelings or rejected them?"
"Neither. My admiration of her included her unswerving loyalty to her husband and family and I never troubled her with anything more than a friendship in the same vein she offered me."
Danny was nodded. "That's what everyone has said."
Wo Fat nodded once. "I am glad that no one has slandered her with any rumor otherwise."
"No one believed it except her husband," Chin said.
Wo Fat looked out the wall of windows that showed the endless blue horizon of the Pacific. His expression gave nothing away. Seen in profile, he was a very handsome man, and must have been even more so as a young man. Kono could imagine how John McGarrett might have felt threatened by Eileen spending her time with him. She still thought John McGarrett should have trusted in his wife.
"It is true. He believed she had betrayed him with me. I only understood this after her death, when he became... obsessed with twisting what had happened to blame me." A slow, cruel smile twisted Wo Fat's mouth. "I admit to taking a certain pleasure in thwarting him." He met Danny's gaze. "Repeatedly. Eventually, we reached a stand-off."
"And now you're continuing the game with Steve."
Wo Fat paused. "Perhaps," he said. "Perhaps not. I did warn him he might not like what he found if he kept trying to uncover the past, but he is an intriguing opponent."
"Like that John McGarrett made the bomb that killed his wife?" Danny said baldly.
That made Wo Fat actually blink and consider Danny and then Chin and Kono more closely. Again the close-mouthed smile and cool amusement lit his dark eyes. "I see I have underestimated you."
"People do that."
People tended to focus on Steve and forget that he didn't carry the team, that they were greater together than apart, and that he'd recruited each of them because they were damned good at their jobs by themselves too. Kono included herself in that estimate, if only because her inexperience let her think outside the box most police officers created from experience. Besides, she knew she was smart and tough and a hell of a shot with a sniper rifle. She didn't go in for false modesty.
"Did he?" Chin asked. Did John McGarrett kill his wife?
"He thought she had betrayed him because he had betrayed her."
"But did he kill her?" Danny insisted.
Wo Fat lifted his cup and sipped. "I believe he was alibied, present at the police station, when the vehicle his wife drove blew up."
"He could have put a timer on the bomb."
That earned Danny a nod.
"He could. He could have recruited an accomplice to place it in the car as well."
Danny leaned forward intently.
"Hypothetically, that knowledge protected me from John McGarrett for many years and has become valuable in and of itself since then," Wo Fat murmured. "I'm afraid I didn't know the name of the woman at the time. That only came later when I realized Commander McGarrett's father was intent on using everything he could find out about me against me."
"Mexican stand-off," Chin murmured. "What changed?"
"I'm afraid I don't understand. What do you mean?"
Chin smirked at him. "Victor and Anton Hesse worked for you."
Wo Fat smiled.
"Something changed. You stopped caring about what John McGarrett had on you. Or your counter threat wasn't useful any longer and you moved pre-emptively," Chin went on.
"Perhaps. Matters are always more complex than they appear on the surface, Inspector Kelly."
"Huh," Danny muttered.
"I believe we have reached an impasse," Wo Fat said. "If there is nothing else you want to ask me?"
"Not for the moment," Danny said. "But you know the whole 'don't leave town' speech already, right?"
Wo Fat smiled at them all. "I have no intention of leaving Hawaii until my business here is finished. You can assure Commander McGarrett of that if you like."
"Find Steve," Danny told her. It wasn't as easy as that, but Kono figured that if they hadn't encountered him while talking with Wo Fat, then there were only two others he might have turned to: the Governor or Jenna Kaye.
She tried Jenna first, just because it was easier to access her.
Turned out she was right anyway.
Steve and Jenna were in Jenna's little rat-trap of a room, laptops open, the table, bed, and walls plastered with papers and files, at least half of them with Classified stamped in red over the text. Kono did her best, but couldn't help looking at the surveillance photos pinned up everywhere. Most were of Wo Fat, some of Noshimuri, and at least a quarter of them appeared to go back through decades, judging by the differences in fashion and the subjects' younger faces. Not one of them showed anything any more dodgy than two men golfing or eating together.
"What do you want?" Steve demanded as soon as Jenna opened the door and let Kono in.
Kono narrowed her eyes. "How about you stop acting like a spoiled brat?" she snapped before she thought it out.
Jenna took a step back and glanced between them, more than a little alarmed. Steve straightened and glared at Kono. Kono wanted to apologize, a little, but on the other hand didn't, because he wasn't acting rationally. She didn't know what was wrong with him, if it was just grief and exhaustion or if the endless stress was actually getting to him. She wanted to help, but she didn't know what would work for Steve.
"You didn't answer your phone, you took off without any back-up or explanation, and you... You're scaring all of us, Steve," she blurted.
Steve's stance softened, maybe even became apologetic too. He only shook his head though. "I know you're all wrong," he said stubbornly.
Kono glanced at Jenna. Jenna just looked helpless and held up her empty hands.
"Victor Hesse came onto the radar because of Wo Fat. It was all a set up from the very beginning." Steve gestured to the files strewn around the room. "Maybe not Anton Hesse's death, but the set-up that drew the Navy's attention, that got me assigned to catching them, that was all orchestrated!"
It sounded like a conspiracy theory to Kono, but she had to admit that Wo Fat was devious enough to manage it. She just couldn't understand why he would. It was apparent he'd had enough power or blackmail material to keep the elder McGarrett from ever arresting him, possibly had knowledge of someone McGarrett himself had had an affair with – which might have been enough to keep John McGarrett quiet if he cared what his children thought – and there was no reason to change the status quo.
"Wo Fat is too smooth," Jenna added. "The CIA has never come close to finding enough evidence to turn him or arrest him, but now he's surfacing repeatedly. It has to be deliberate."
Kono didn't know if that was true, though she conceded that pretty much anything Wo Fat did seemed to be deliberate and five steps ahead of everyone else.
"Then we have to figure out why he's exposed himself. What's different about Steve?" Because it had to be about Steve, didn't it? Wo Fat had had nineteen years to play games with McGarrett Senior and only bothered to keep him at bay. Suddenly, she wondered if there was someone else in the game, someone they hadn't even glimpsed, that Wo Fat had to maneuver around or against. Someone in a position of equal or near strength, with similar resources to Wo Fat.
Huh. So this was how conspiracy theorists were born. Healthy paranoia mingled with simple possibility and suddenly anything took on a darker tint. Even the Governor putting Five-O together was as much politics as a desire to clean up the islands, wasn't it?
What did Pat Jameson see when she looked at Steve McGarrett?
Kono frowned at Steve.
What did Wo Fat see?
"Sins of the father?" Jenna offered cautiously.
Kono thought about Wo Fat and shook her head. "He's too practical to go in for that kind of vendetta."
"He's a conscienceless killer," Steve insisted.
Well, Kono didn't doubt that, but she didn't think that made Wo Fat stupid. She kept thinking of sharks. It was all about survival. In Wo Fat's case survival meant success. Blind vengeance had no place in the world Wo Fat swam in, any more than it did for a shark. Killing was a tool, one meant to provide food or defend against a threat. Anything else was a waste of energy. Wo Fat wouldn't waste energy, money, or time on anything without a genuine reward at the end.
"Okay, then just give me one believable motive for Wo Fat – then – to have killed your mother," Kono said.
Steve had that mulish look, the one that went with the muscle ticking in his cheek, the one Danny could tease away and Kono had no idea how to deal with at all.
"Maybe she found evidence of what the Chinese were doing – the antiquities smuggling. Maybe she found out he was a spy and using her and everyone else at the gallery."
"Because he was so sloppy back then that a housewife working part time could figure him out," Kono replied sardonically. "Your mom wasn't living an episode of Scarecrow and Mrs. King, boss."
"It makes sense."
"I'm going to arrest him."
Kono exchanged another helpless look with Jenna. She supposed arrest was a hell of a lot better than Steve deciding to just go after Wo Fat and kill him, but it was like he wasn't hearing anything anyone said at this point.
Steve headed for the door and Kono's stomach fell. He was going right now? She had to stop him. She had to... She started after him, then spun around and whispered to Jenna. "I know you have your own reasons to hate Wo Fat, but for Steve's sake – "
Jenna swallowed hard and nodded. "I'll warn him."
"Thank you," Kono replied gratefully and ran after Steve.
"Hon Municipal Building Heliport," Chin directed while Danny drove and Kono braced herself in the backseat again. She would never listen to Danny criticize Steve's crazy driving again. Danny was actually overtaking Steve's monster of a truck while threading through Honolulu's traffic. Okay, a sports car should be able to overtake a four-wheel drive truck, but not in downtown traffic. This wasn't a closed track with stunt drivers and the blare of horns and screeching brakes behind them signaled a trail of vehicular chaos that would result in most people losing their license.
"How do you know?" Danny asked as he whipped the Camaro's wheel right then left, working the clutch and gas pedal like he'd been taking lessons from an Earnhardt. The car whipped through an opening that barely existed, into a clearer lane, and he accelerated again.
"Jenna just texted me."
"She's with Wo Fat?" Kono asked.
"Yes," Chin said. He glanced up from his phone, flinched and added, "Take the next right."
"The alley?" Danny asked. "We'll lose Steve."
"It's a short cut, but Steve's truck won't fit."
Danny braked and wrenched the steering wheel around, drifting sideways for a heartstopping moment in which Kono thought the Camaro's driver's side would slam into a parked van. She felt the engine roar and Danny hit the gas again and tore through the narrow alley, scraping the sides several times and smashing aside several garbage cans. Kono took a moment to thank a higher power that the alley was too narrow for garbage trucks so it had none of the huge commercial dumpsters in their way.
"Left," Chin said as the alley opened out into another street. He reached over and pushed the horn, allowing Danny to keep one hand for the steering wheel and the other for the shift.
Between Chin's short cuts and Danny's insane driving, they arrived at the heliport enough ahead of Steve to rush inside, flashing their badges to get some answers. A mechanic, still wiping his hands on a dirty rag, pointed them to where Wo Fat had gone. "Better hurry!" he called out as the three of them sprinted for the exit to the helipad.
Wo Fat had four massive bodyguards with him this time, and Jenna Kaye beside him, looking petrified and out of place in her casual tank top and white shorts. Wo Fat kept her plastered to his side with a strong grip on her upper arm. One of the tank top's straps was broken and dangled over her shoulder, giving away that she'd been fighting to get free.
Danny aimed his pistol at Wo Fat, while Chin and Kono tried to find some cover and keep a bead on the bodyguards. The bodyguards themselves had no cover at all, standing out in the open between the building's door and the executive helicopter winding up. The pilot, eyes hidden behind aviator glasses, a helmet hiding his or her hair, everything else obscured by the flare of sunshine off the cockpit glass, paid no attention to anything outside the instruments.
"Hold it right there!" Danny shouted. The wind from the steadily speeding rotors of the helicopter caught his tie and whipped it back over his shoulder.
"Detective Williams," Wo Fat called. He had one hand on Jenna's bare arm. Kono could see just how tense Jenna was, quivering with the need to pull away and run. It scared her, the way every hostage situation did, because no matter if Kono did everything right, the situation depended on the bad guy to end well.
"Jenna," Danny called. "Move away from him."
"Not yet," Wo Fat said. He had to raise his voice to be heard over the helicopter. The kerosene scent of burning fuel fouled the air and bits of grit from the concrete pad peppered their faces and arms. One of the bodyguards moved to block Danny's shot at Wo Fat.
A gunshot knocked the bodyguard to the side. Kono didn't take her eyes off her targets, but she felt Steve's arrival, even before he moved into the periphery of her vision, his weapon leveled at Wo Fat and his face twisted into a mask of rage.
"Let her go or I'll shoot you right now!" Steve shouted.
"I've been waiting for you, Commander!"
"I'm here." Steve stalked closer, his aim at Wo Fat never wavering, not giving a damn about the target he presented himself. Kono knew how heavy a pistol could become, holding it out at the end of outstretched arms, after a while, but Steve didn't seem to feel it. He didn't blink at the wind from the rotors either, though it plastered his shirt to his chest. "I should just shoot you now."
"That would be a mistake, Commander McGarrett, that your friends would pay for."
"Much like your father, they appear to be all you understand."
"You killed my mother."
"No, Commander, your father did that. I warned you you wouldn't like what you found if you kept digging into the past."
Wo Fat dipped his hand into a pocket and tossed something onto the concrete beside Steve's boot. It glinted, brassy bright, revealing it was a key. "I have shown you as much forbearance as I could until now, Commander, out of respect for your mother. That's over now."
"What is that?" Danny questioned.
"The key to the past."
"Skip the mystic metaphors, please."
Wo Fat smirked, glancing away from Steve for a moment, and nodding to Danny. "Everything I ever gathered on or about Commander McGarrett's father and his mother's death. It has little value to me now that the senior McGarrett is no longer with us. It includes proof he made the bomb that killed his wife."
Involuntarily, they all looked at the key.
Wo Fat pushed Jenna in front of him and scrambled inside the helicopter, bodyguards rushing after him. Kono and Danny both pulled their shots because Jenna was in the way, while Steve fired into the open door on the side of the helicopter. Chin rolled out of his bit of cover to unload his shotgun at the helicopter's tail rotor. The bodyguards fired back, forcing the team to duck back into cover, as the pilot took the helicopter forward, barely lifting the skids off the ground, and then up, all of it much faster than Kono had ever seen before.
In moments, the only thing left was the fading throb in the air and distant spec against the cloudless blue sky. The team was left standing, along with Jenna, with nothing to show for the short fire fight except the brass key still lying on the ground.
Jenna picked it up and offered it to Steve. Steve glanced down from staring at the sky where the helicopter disappeared and grimaced before taking the key. Then he holstered his sidearm and pulled Jenna into a hug that looked to be as much comfort for himself as for her. Jenna hung onto him tightly.
Just as they'd all expected, Wo Fat disappeared, despite the APBs put out on him for kidnapping Jenna and anything else Chin and Danny could think up in conjunction with the state's attorney. They kept searching for him, and with a warrant for his arrest, they were able to leverage more warrants that let Chin and Jenna and the forensic accountants go after all of Wo Fat's official and unofficial holdings. Sooner or later, they would find whichever safehouse he was using.
Kono heard Danny assuring Steve of that every day.
"We got Hesse, right?"
"Hesse got away. Twice."
"We got him again."
"Look, we catch 'em. It's Corrections' responsibility to keep them locked up," Danny snapped. "I'm trying cheer you up here."
Chin chimed in. "I've got the warrants for Noshimuri."
"Yes!" Danny pumped his fists. "See? Let's go bust him. If you're good, maybe we'll let you play with SWAT's concussion grenades."
Kono didn't bother reminding him they had their own flash and concussion grenades in Five-O's armory. The prospect of clamping handcuffs on Noshimuri and maybe blowing something up had Steve looking interested and alive for the first time in a week. It wasn't really true, she knew, how they joked about Steve's love of destruction, but at the same time she knew fighting could bring someone like Steve a level of catharsis talking never would.
The four of them geared up together, checking each other's kevlar and that they all had reloads and their radios were functioning before pulling out of the palace parking spaces to rendezvous outside Noshimuri's business offices with HPD. Noshimuri was an old man, but his Yakuza guards weren't, so SWAT would be in place as well.
Kono rode with Danny, following Steve, and Chin took drag on his bike.
"Wo Fat could be back in China or anywhere else by now," she said.
Danny was back to driving like a little old grandmother again. He muttered under his breath when he stopped at a red that Steve had gone through on yellow. "Yeah, I know," he admitted. "But he isn't. He's not done with Steve."
That was what she was afraid of too.
"Any luck running down what or where that key fits?"
"No and Jenna's striking out too," she said.
Jenna had stayed at HQ for this bust, since she didn't have a badge or anything to offer toward securing Noshimuri. Kono made a note to get the analyst down to the shooting range and make sure she was qualified. If she was going to go on hanging out with Five-O, she would need to start carrying. And Kono knew from the way Jenna talked about her fiancée and her rage at Wo Fat using her that they would have a very hard time keeping Jenna away when they caught up with Wo Fat again.
It became apparent fast that Wo Fat hadn't given Noshimuri a courtesy heads up in regard to the whole smuggling pipeline blowing up or that the Yakuza's favorite pervert accountant had spilled his guts from Honolulu to Houston. The surprise on the old man's face as Five-O stormed into his office was priceless. Kono wished she had a picture of it, but couldn't fish out her phone to take one, what with having to keep her gun pointed at the sleaze in a suit next to him.
She could hear the satisfaction in Steve's voice as he announced loudly enough for everyone in the offices to hear, "Hiro Noshimuri, you are under arrest."
Danny recited the litany of charges they've put together while Steve puts on the handcuffs.
No one discharged their weapon or even fought. No one even tried to run. Noshimuri was completely blindsided. It was the second clean bust in a row, which only served to make Kono nervous. Their luck didn't run that way normally.
It should have all felt better than it did, but as they headed back to HQ to finish up the paperwork that went with every big bust, no matter how smoothly it had gone down, all Kono could think was that with Wo Fat gone, Victor Hesse jailed and Noshimuri under arrest with a slamdunk case against him, Steve had no more reason to keep hanging around. Either he'd go back to the Navy or he'd go after Wo Fat by himself. Five-O wouldn't exist without him and she feared that it wouldn't go on without him either.
And Steve was in no mood to stick around for the rest of the team: he was still angry over the investigation of his mother's death, over their suspicion of his father and over being pushed aside by Danny and the Governor.
Governor Jameson left her security outside and strolled inside Five-O with a wide smile for everyone.
"Congratulations," she declared. "I am damn impressed by this latest bust." She nodded to Jenna though she obviously didn't know her from Eve and headed on into Steve's inner sanctum.
Kono shook her head with a grin as the Governor stooped and fished two bottles of beer from Steve's tiny refrigerator. She set one before Steve and twisted the cap off the second on expertly before taking a long swallow. Even if Jameson hadn't already had her vote, Kono had to admire a woman who knew how to drink a beer with the guys without pretending to be one of the guys.
"Quit being such a grumpy gus," Jameson told Steve. "You've done more in the last few months than HPD has done in twenty years. You will catch this Wo Fat character. Now, get out there, share some beers and congratulate your team."
Steve raised his eyebrows, but followed orders and the mood in the offices raised as they all toasted the arrest of Noshimuri and the rest of the Yakuza in Hawaii and on the West Coast.
"Here's to Priscilla," Danny said, lifting his bottle.
"Priscilla," Chin agreed.
Kono clinked her bottle against Steve's, then Chin's. The Governor shared the toast with Danny. Steve stood back a step but a smile lifted his lips as he handed a bottle to Jenna. "Here, you had a hand in this too."
"And this is?" the Governor asked while smiling at Jenna.
"Jenna Kaye. CIA." Jenna smiled back. "I'm just here to work on my tan."
"Oh, I imagine you've done more than lie on the beach."
Jenna ducked her head, still smiling.
The Governor turned her attention back to Steve. "I know I've been hard on you lately and probably put a strain on your working relationship with Det. Williams," she said, with a nod to Danny, "but you've outdone yourself with this last bust. And I wanted to mention that our new State Attorney General, who is an old friend, has been very impressed by the quality of the cases you've been presenting." She shook her head with a grin. "He's an old friend and loves to tease me, you know. But these days he's so busy with cleaning up the islands with Five-O's help that he even forgets to call me Pattycakes."
"Pattycakes?" Danny echoed.
She covered her face with her hand. "Oh God! Forget I said that. It's an old, old nickname. Which I hate."
Danny held up his beer bottle. "I swear by Longboard never to use it."
"You're a good man, Detective."
"Yes, yes, I am."
Steve reached over and lightly punched Danny's shoulder. "And that ego isn't too big to get through a doorway. Yet."
Kono thought she might cry with relief. Steve and Danny were going to be okay. And if Steve and Danny were okay, then Five-O would be too.
"You should talk about ego, McGarrett. Yours is like a whale on steroids."
Chin snickered loudly and everyone laughed, letting the idea they'd won this one raise them up like catching a really good wave, so the last tainted tension drained away.
Steve remained twitchy and Danny was on the phone with Rachel with his office door closed too much and Chin looked tense enough that Kono knew IA must be sniffing around again, while Jenna spent endless hours at the computers, but Kono still thought things were slowly looking up over the next days. No one mentioned going any further with Eileen McGarrett's case while they waded through the paperwork on Noshimuri. They got their warrants for Wo Fat, too. They
get him, even if it was for something as stupid as Al Capone's back taxes. Steve wasn't talking about leaving Five-O or splitting up his partnership with Danny. They were still a little more distant, a little more careful with each other than before, but the friendship remained strong underneath.
"They're grown ups," Claire told her when Kono mentioned her worries, "there's not much you can do to make them get along if they don't. It sounds like they're fine, anyway."
Kono located the storage locker the key went to thanks to Claire, too. Claire saw a picture of the key on Kono's laptop and casually said, "That looks like Marco's key."
A couple of questions later and Kono knew Marco the receptionist had his grandmother's furniture in storage, that he was feuding with his sister over inheriting it, and the name of the high security storage facility whose prices he complained about at least once a month.
The idea of simply not telling Steve crossed Kono's mind once she had the address, because nothing they'd find there would be good, but she couldn't stomach the lie of omission. Steve needed to know. To tell the truth, Kono needed to know too. She still felt like everyone else had sort of forgotten Eileen herself. It wasn't all about Steve's grief or whether John McGarrett or Wo Fat had been the killer. It was about Eileen McGarrett, who had died, and now seemed nothing more than an excuse for a multi-generational vendetta.
They didn't let Steve go by himself. As Chin pointed out reasonably – though none of them believed it – the key and locker could be a set up for an ambush.
Steve and Chin checked the lock and the door and even pulled out one of the nifty tech gadgets the Governor had paid for that sniffed for explosive compounds, just to make sure the lock wasn't wired to a bomb. After all, someone on this case had liked bombs, and twenty years later they'd likely still use them. From Jenna's research, they knew Wo Fat had a signature car bomb trick he used regularly, though it wasn't anything like the bomb that killed Eileen McGarrett.
"Better safe than in pieces," Danny said.
"As far as I can tell it's fine," Chin reported as he closed up his gadget. "Everyone needs to step back around the corner anyway."
Everyone meant Kono, Danny and him. Steve wouldn't turn over the key to them. He wouldn't even put on a protective helmet or goggles, which had Danny muttering under his breath about reckless idiots. Kono grabbed Danny's arm to hold him in place while Steve flattened himself against the wall beside the door and reached to the side to turn the key in its lock.
Kono held her breath. The sound of the lock clicking open and then the door on its hinges swinging inward was magnified by the shot of adrenaline provided by her nerves.
Her heart kept tripping along too fast, she could feel sweat on Danny's arm under her fingertips, and Chin's equipment belt creaked when he shifted. Down the hallway, Steve stopped where he could look through the open doorway. There were no explosions. Wo Fat was not waiting inside like an evil jack-in-a-box.
"Clear," Steve called to them in a creaky voice.
They scrambled to join him before he could step inside the unlit storage unit.
The only illumination came from the hallway's lighting, giving only the impression of dim shapes and emptiness.
Chin pulled a flashlight from his kit and played the beam methodically around the room, starting with the floor, looking for trip wires first. Kono got her flashlight out and started cataloging what she could see.
It didn't take long.
The unit held a bare metal table, a straight chair, a digital recorder on the table, and a set of filing cabinets.
Steve headed for the table and picked up the recorder. Over a sound of protest from Chin, he started it.
"You can't have proof."
"I have your poor unwitting accomplice."
"She wouldn't – "
"Whatever she felt for you died when you used her to kill Eileen."
"You would destroy her too."
"Yes. I would not hesitate, if you reveal any of what you've discovered about my activities. Understand, I have so much less to lose than either of you. A blown cover. My superiors will build another for me in another country. I have not failed them or betrayed them the way you have betrayed your oaths."
"Your lucky she's become so useful to me. Lucky she understands the nature of our relationship and accepts it. She's even used it to further her own career. I have to congratulate you on your taste, at the least."
"I'll find a way to bring you down, sooner or later, for what you've done."
"I did nothing. You made the bomb and I have never understood why, when you say you loved her. Why kill your wife? You see, I remember it all so clearly, that day, seeing your 'friend' leave the package in your wife's car and walk away."
"It was supposed to be you. She loaned you the car every afternoon to get lunch."
"But instead it was your wife, who was so kind that she worried I wouldn't be able to work the clutch that day, because I'd dropped a crate on my foot earlier. Bad luck, I thought. Bad luck, indeed, for her. How very regretful your actions must seem now."
"It was supposed to be you."
"Did you think that when you faced your son and your daughter? Is that why you sent them to the mainland, McGarrett? Couldn't you look in their faces?"
"They were safer – "
"They were never in danger from me, any more than Eileen was."
"Some day – "
"Did I mention I was recording this?"
Kono swallowed hard. She didn't know the second voice, but she did know Wo Fat's distinctive tones, and the other man could only be John McGarrett. No one else could have sounded so guilt-ridden and poisoned with hate all at once. He'd tried to kill Wo Fat and murdered his wife instead.
Steve's expression was impossible to make out in the dim space. He held the recorder in his hand and didn't move, so still Kono wondered if he was breathing.
"He couldn't look at us," he said eventually.
"Steven," Danny murmured as he moved close enough to take the recorder and hand it to Chin. "Come on, let's get out of here. Chin can take care of this."
"I got it, brah."
Steve looked at the filing cabinets and visibly shuddered. "Yeah. Yeah, okay," he whispered.
Danny glanced back Chin and Kono, his worry clear in the blue of his eyes, as he guided Steve out of the unit, one hand on his shoulder. "Let's go back your place," he said, letting them know where he meant to take Steve.
Steve let him lead.
Chin brought the contents of the filing cabinets out to Steve's house later that evening. Kono helped him load the boxes of files, discs, and even a few evidence bags into the back of her car and drove, following him on his motorcycle.
Steve and Danny were on the lanai.
They trooped inside and began going through the files Wo Fat had left for Steve. A good deal of it was files and information John McGarrett had put together on Wo Fat, proving Wo Fat had known all along exactly what John had on him and recovered it all once John was dead. But the rest was the case Wo Fat had built against John McGarrett. Only the name of the woman John had used as his patsy to place the bomb in his wife's car while he was alibied at work was missing, neatly razored out of the paper deposition she'd given, along with the name of the attorney and witnesses to that deposition. It didn't matter. The details were too damning to ignore.
Kono couldn't deny the anger and pain that colored the woman's words, even in text, over the way she'd been used and the result. She hadn't known she was carrying a bomb.
She supposed that was why Wo Fat hadn't taken revenge on the woman.
"This is... " Danny flailed his hands. "I don't know. Steve. He didn't mean to kill your mom."
"But he did," Steve said. He folded over and covered his face with his hands. "He did."
Danny hesitated, but Kono didn't. She hitched her chair closer to Steve's and wrapped her arms around him, leaning against his back and holding on. Only a breath later, Danny joined in the hug from the other side. Steve shuddered once and remained tense for several breaths, then finally relaxed into their touch. She realized Chin had come around the table and was crouched before Steve, hands locked on Steve's forearms, his forehead resting against Steve's. Steve wasn't the only one who felt betrayed here; Chin had idolized John McGarrett, modeled his police career after him, and finding this out about him had to cut him almost as deep as it had Steve. Kono snaked one arm loose and latched it onto Chin.
Danny was murmuring something.
"You're not him, you know, you're better than him. Don't let this get to you. He screwed up, not you, and it's okay to be mad at him, to be fucking furious, because he lied and messed up, and it's okay to hurt, because you loved him, it's okay to still love him too," Danny said sincerely. "I know, I still love Matt, and he fucked up royally, and I don't forgive him, but he's still my brother, and it's still your dad, you can't just stop feeling for him."
"What Danny says, brah," Chin confirmed. "Hold on to the good."
"Fuck him," Steve whispered. "Fuck him, how am I supposed to tell Mary Ann what he did?"
"You just tell her, boss, you don't lie," Kono told him.
"God damn it."
Kono suspected Mary Ann wouldn't be as traumatized as Steve was. She certainly hadn't had the same relationship with John McGarrett. Mary Ann had been rebelling against anything she thought her father would have wanted since her mother's death. Finding out she was right about him being a rotten father wouldn't surprise her. It would hurt, because on some level Mary Ann had to remember being his favored little girl and being loved, but she had already given up any illusions John McGarrett was a hero.
"Don't tear yourself up over this," Danny said.
"He should have confessed."
"That would have been honest, but it would have been even worse for you and Mary Ann," Chin stated. "Think about it. He did something awful, but if he'd confessed then, you and Mary Ann would have lost both parents at once."
"We lost him anyway."
Kono said softly, "Not the same way."
"I know," Chin murmured. "It was the best he could do at the time."
"And once he lied," Danny added, "he just had to keep going. There was nothing else left for him."
No wonder John McGarrett had never made any kind of life for himself outside the job after his wife's death. He'd been paying the price as well as he could from the day his bomb exploded and killed the wrong person.
Steve shook his head, just a small motion, before shrugging Kono and Danny away as he sat up.
"I don't know what I'm doing anymore."
"You're doing the job, doing what you're best able to do," Danny said. "Since you came back to Hawaii, you've made a huge difference. We shut down Sang Min's human trafficking op, put a wrench in Wo Fat's spying, busted dirty customs agents, locked up Victor Hesse, we busted Noshimuri and wrecked Yakuza operations from here to the East Coast. Hell, Interpol loves us. We just took a nasty pedophile off the streets. You want to know the truth? In less than a year, you've done more, and done it honestly, if a little recklessly, than your dad ever did. All without framing anyone. That's what you're doing."
Steve swept the papers on the table back into a manila folder.
"We don't have to use any of this to get Wo Fat," Chin said.
"Even if we don't, he's going to use what he had on Dad."
None of them could argue that.
"That's why he gave me the key. He wants me to know he can ruin my father's reputation and use that to smear me if I keep coming after him," Steve said.
"Well, yes," Danny agreed. "But so what? He's an idiot if he thinks that will stop you."
Steve blinked and then smiled at Danny. "You know that?"
Danny nodded emphatically, then pointed at Steve. "I know that. I know you. Blackmail isn't going to stop you."
Steve's entire body showed his relief. "Yeah. You're right. Wo Fat just threw away an advantage, because now I'll be ready for whatever he reveals."
Danny went on nodding. "That's it."
"We will get him," Chin said.
"We're with you," Kono added.
Danny swept out his arms as if to encompass Kono and Chin. "See? With us on your side, there's no way you can fail. 'Cause it isn't just you in this Steve, it's us."
She thought she would drive home and sleep in her own bed, but Kono found herself parking her car just behind Claire's on the little residential street where she had an overpriced bungalow instead. Streetlights made the shadows darker, colors dim, everything desaturated and cool, though when she opened the door the air was muggy thick and warm. It was too late for fireworks and Honolulu's constant light washed out most of the stars when she looked up. Something in her neck creaked with the movement.
Kono shut the door to her car as quietly as she could – Claire lived in a family neighborhood – but the dog two houses down across the street barked anyway. He wouldn't quit until he heard another door close. With a sigh, because she would have dawdled a little longer if she could have, Kono started up the path to Claire's door.
Claire had the door open for her and the screen door propped wide too by the time Kono reached the little pool of yellow light cast from her porch light. She had on a too big red t-shirt and shorts. Her feet were bare, showing off her pearl pink painted toenails. Claire kept her fingernails short and bare; the dichotomy never failed to charm Kono, she was such a mixture of pragmatism and girliness, all without apology.
"Dickie's better than any alarm or security patrol," Claire commented.
Kono laughed softly and stepped inside. The screen door creaked loudly before latching with a slight clang from the spring. The dog down the street, Dickie, gave one last, deep woof and stopped. Kono waited while Clair turned the lock on the screen door and the bolt on her front door.
Claire set her hand on the small of Kono's back and gave her a little push toward the living room. "You look exhausted."
Kono let herself relax enough to favor her bad knee as she made her way to Claire's overstuffed, lemon yellow monstrosity of a couch. It was the color of a mutant shave-ice monster, but it was the most comfortable piece of furniture she'd ever sat or stretched out on and big enough to let two people lie on it together. She kicked her shoes off and settled herself on it. "Oooooh."
"You just date me for my couch."
Kono wiggled her toes at Claire, who stood at the foot of the couch, arms akimbo and an exasperated expression on her face.
"No, it's a great bonus, but it's your massages that really bring me back every time."
"Are you staying the night?" Claire asked. Kono noticed she had a tall glass of something iced and alcoholic sitting on a coaster next to the chair she favored. The TV in the corner was off, but the remote sitting next to the glass, along with a book, told a story of solitary relaxation. Kono hadn't planned her stop, so she wasn't sure if she was welcome to stay or not. Both she and Claire liked their separate solitudes sometimes.
"If you pour me a drink, I guess," Kono said. She wouldn't drive with one of Claire's extra-stiff drinks sloshing through her veins. She wasn't that stupid.
"You want anything with it?"
Kono let her head fall back and her eyes close. She could feel how tired she was in her back and her shoulder blades and the bones in her neck. Now that she was horizontal, she felt a dozen times heavier too, like she'd never want to struggle upright again. It made her wonder how Steve did it; she knew she'd been getting roughly three times as much sleep as he did and she still felt tired to the bone. Someday he was going to crash hard. She understood, though, a little why he kept pushing himself. Ever since they'd begun Five-O, it had felt like they were in some kind of race and could never, ever let up, not for a moment.
It felt like they had to get everything done before some waiting, hovering threat crushed them all. Kono couldn't pinpoint what it was, though it was more than just Wo Fat being out there somewhere. She worried over the ten million dollars they'd lost and who had replaced it in the evidence lock-up too. That was going to come back and bite them on the ass sooner or later.
She only opened her eyes when Claire stroked her hair off her forehead. "Sit up." Claire waved the tall glass, frosted with condensation, that she'd brought with her enticingly.
"Do I have to?" Kono whined.
"I could drink this myself."
Kono pushed herself up on her elbows, then twisted so she was sitting properly on the couch. Claire immediately sat down next to her and handed over the drink. It tasted divine, cold, refreshing, and with a kick like a pissed-off mule. After two swallows, Kono could feel her muscles and her brain unknotting. She leaned into Claire's shoulder.
"Long day, dear?" Claire asked lightly.
"We found the storage space. The evidence there... " Kono shook her head. She trusted Claire, but this wasn't hers to tell anyone. Just Steve's. "It got real personal for my boss."
"Personal like hurting?"
Kono nodded. Claire saw through her evasions to the big truths.
"Bad enough to mess him up?"
"This would mess up anyone." Danny would say it was just the icing on the cake of dysfunction and Steve was already a walking, talking emotional disaster area before this proof Wo Fat left behind for him like a poisoned party favor.
Claire hugged her. "I'm sorry. That sucks."
"Yeah," Kono agreed as she leaned closer, "it does."
"Is he going to be okay?"
Kono got rid of her drink and wrapped her arms around Claire. She hid her face against Claire's neck. She didn't know.
Monday morning, Kono pulled into her regular parking place and smiled at the sight of Steve's truck taking up more than its fair share of space. She hadn't really been worried, but it was good to know he was still on the job, no matter what shit life threw at him.
As she walked in, Steve threw a kevlar vest at her. Danny already had his on and was checking the clip to his sidearm.
"Gear up, Kalakaua," he told her. "Jenna's got a line on Wo Fat's safehouse."
Kono caught the vest and shrugged it on.
"C'mon, cuz," Chin said, shotgun laid casually over his shoulder. "Let's go."