Once the door was shut, Ricardo comfortably disposed himself in the executive's swivel chair. His men waited until he invited them to join him in getting comfortable before also sitting. A box of cigars, purchased by one of his men in expectation of his arrival rested on the small table at his elbow. He opened the lid, lifted one out and passed it beneath his nose. His men waited for his lead before making their reports.
"You took my instructions too liberally on Hilo. I did not wish you to attempt to kill McGarrett."
Rather than argue that he had known precisely what he was going, Anders dipped his head.
"I am, however, pleased with the reports on our initial venture against Kokua." Across from him, Juan nodded but remained silent. "So, where are we with the remainder of our plans?"
Cued, Juan briefly outlined their next moves. "We have set up the bank account in Mattheson's name and bought the necessary people to make the case."
"Good. And the others?"
"Royce and Parsons will be difficult. The woman is an orphan. No family ties, and at present no boyfriends that we've been able to discover. Royce is straight. A loner."
Ricardo lifted a hand, halting the rest of Juan's report. "I am aware of Royce's history. What have you determined to be our next course of action?"
Juan flicked a glance at his partner. "Anders has a plan, but it will require precise timing and could involve something less refutable."
Anders continued, "It'll be difficult, but not impossible. I will require one other person outside the organisation, however to ensure success."
"Done. Provide me with a detailed outline tomorrow." Satisfied with what he had heard so far, Ricardo gestured for Juan to continue. "What about the others?"
"That," said Juan carefully, "will depend upon how our plans for the others pan out, senior."
"Pan out?" Ricardo set aside his unlit cigar.
"There are too many variables, senior. Too many things that could go wrong." Seeing anger surfacing in their employer's eyes Josť leaned forward. "Senior please, I beg you, consider what Juan is saying. You yourself have advised we take this one step at a time. We all know how fraught with luck these men are. McGarrett has survived numerous attacks on his character, his department and his life, by men with more wide-reaching resources than we possess. We know from our contacts that even the Chinese went after him on several occasions."
Annoyed, Ricardo picked up his cigar, bit off the end and moistened the outside. They waited in silence while he lit the end and puffed to ensure it would stay lit.
Anxieties partially eased, Josť went on. "Then there is his ex-partner. Not only Williams, but also his wife have dodged death a number of times. Nor will Kokua be simple to get at."
"Enough. All you are giving me is excuses for why you are afraid to act."
Elbow on the table, cigar suspended in the air between his fingers, Ricardo considered what had been said. In truth he valued Josť because he could always rely upon his senior bodyguard to maintain a level head in difficult circumstances. Had he listened to Josť in Eighty-three, he might have escaped Kokua before the dumb Hawaiian cop could arrest him.
As it was he had accused Josť of being a coward and sent him back to Colombia ahead of them, as Amelia's escort. In as much he had unwittingly saved Josť the same ignominy that he had suffered. And ensured that his interests in Montanino's cartel were maintained. None of his men had responded to his taunt.
"So you are saying we wait?"
"No, senior." Anders spoke out. "I'm merely suggesting that we proceed with this in three phases. Let our people take out Kokua and his department. Then we can move onto the second phase with impunity. As it is they suspect nothing."
"I would have felt more confident in this plan of yours," Ricardo said, addressing them, "if we could have bought off someone in his department."
Juan shook his head. "Es impossible, senior. This Kokua is extremely cunning. He is very careful in his choice of partners. Rydell, Royce and Parsons he retained from his first team. When Rydell chose to take the position on the Big Island, Kokua elected to replace him with Mattheson. And his experiences make it impossible to even consider tendering a bribe."
"And it doesn't help that his sister is married to Williams," added Anders. Puffing on his cigar, Ricardo carefully weighed the information. Most of what Juan had told them he already knew. In fact, he was unlikely to forget Kokua and his team any more than he would forgive McGarrett for meddling in matters Ricardo felt no cop had the right to interfere in. And Kokua had been no better. A network which Ricardo had carefully spent eight years building, preparing the groundwork for Niko Montanino and the cartel to set up operations in the Islands had come apart like an unravelled hem when a loose thread is pulled. He recalled as though it were yesterday the reaction he had received from Diedre Streit when he had demanded her help in removing McGarrett.
"If you go up against this man," she had coolly informed him, "you will lose."
Still he had refused to believe Diedre. Deep inside he was unable to countenance the Man's record of successes and was determined that he alone knew how to strike at him. He would not repeat the mistakes others had made in the past: that of underestimating Steve McGarrett.
"It will not matter in the end," declared Ricardo, leaning forward, his teeth clamped on the end of his cigar. "The Man is no longer a cop, and he is old."
Contradiction rose and quickly disappeared from Juan's face. Whatever argument he professed on the issue would not be voiced. In as much Ricardo was pleased. He disliked having the logic of his plans questioned. Assured they were on the right course, he settled back in his chair once more.
"He was old when Williams and his wife returned to the Islands," commented Anders, less intimidated by Ricardo's status than the rest of the men.
"What does that matter?"
Now Rostek removed a sheaf of papers from the inside pocket of his jacket. He unfolded them and set them on the desk in front of his superior. Ricardo flicked a glance at the sheets but made no overt move to read what they contained.
When Ricardo did nothing, Rostek pursued his briefing; blunt and unhurried, his gaze never left his superior. "In Nineteen Ninety Williams and his wife brought their family back to Honolulu, leaving the Witness Protection Program."
"More the fools they," observed Ricardo.
"Perhaps," Rostek admitted. "However the reason for their entry into the Program no longer existed. Many others would do the same given the opportunity. It's difficult to leave behind close friends and family."
Ricardo puffed on his cigar, listening intently. This episode in the life of Steve McGarrett's partner was unknown to the public and he had only a sketchy knowledge of that period in Williams' life. Content to permit Rostek some free rein, he considered where the information would take them.
Encouraged by his superior's silence, Rostek continued. "One of Diedre Streit's old pushers spotted them at the airport. To all accounts he identified the wife but not the husband."
"How could he not recognise Williams?"
Expecting Ricardo's question, Rostek explained. "Tonio only saw Williams a couple of times even though Williams had retained much of his disguise from when District Attorney initially put him on ice on the mainland. But the pusher knew the wife personally, being the one responsible for recruiting Jonny Mattheson."
"He made a bold plan and might have succeeded if he had taken into account the kids when he snatched the parents."
"Most of what I've been able to uncover at this point is conjecture. I do know from researching the old news archives that Tonio tried to kill McGarrett and the kids by running them off the road when McGarrett was taking them to a safe-house."
"This was in the archives?"
"Most of it. There are pictures of the car. It was close."
"And the parents were where?"
"In an old ship in a bone yard somewhere."
"Interesting." Reaching out, Ricardo carefully tapped ash from the end of his cigar. "How did they escape?"
"That is where the information becomes sketchy. The trial was closed to reporters and the records sealed because of the involvement of the children."
Having delivered the information, Rostek watched Fernandez for any outward change; whether or not his superior felt he had over-stepped his position by bringing the information to his attention. He could see from his expression that this was clearly something Ricardo had not wanted to hear.
"So what are you advocating? That we leave these brats out of the equation?"
"It is not my place to say, senior. I merely thought you should have all of the facts before pursuing our present objectives." "You are right when you say it is not your place," Ricardo declared. He set aside his cigar. "You have your assignments. I expect you to carry them out. And Manuel?"
"Put the yacht up for sale immediately. Then find me something larger, motorised. A deep sea cabin cruiser. Something fast."
Three of the four men chorused, "Yes, senior."
Laconic, Anders simply nodded. He checked the time on his wristwatch, "I shall be implementing Phase Two in roughly half an hour."
"Good. Now we will destroy them."
Satisfied with their progress, Ricardo picked up his cigar and took a drag on the end. It had gone out. Annoyed, he dropped it back in the ashtray and sought a fresh one. With a flick of his hand he dismissed his men. Then, in the quiet of the den he drew Anders contribution across the desk and perused it at length. The content made for fascinating reading.
"His wife is one tough lady," he reflected as he finished reading the court records of Charlene Williams' statement concerning her incarceration and torture at the hands of Antonio Nicholaidis. "But even she has her weaknesses."
* * *
Perched on his fifteen-speed outside the downtown convenience store Daniel waited for his friend, Hugh Mason to finish paying for his pop and chips. It had been a fruitful day as job hunting went and Daniel was pleased that he had found something that would provide him with a supplement to the pocket money his parents gave him.
'Of course I've gotta clear this with Mom and Dad first,' he thought, knowing his mother's opposition could well be the worst he would have to weather. She felt he should wait until he graduated from high school before taking a part-time job, and that he should confine it to summer employment once he stared university.
Down the street Daniel caught sight of a cop he knew exiting a nearby souvenir store. Evidently on his rounds, the patrolman tucked his notebook into his breast pocket. Looking up he spotted Daniel and came up the sidewalk.
"Hello, Daniel. Day off from school or skipping out?"
"Hey, Frank. Skipping out? I don't think so. You know my folks." Frank laughed and Daniel asked, "So how's it shakin' bradda?"
A lop-sided smile pulling one side of his mouth, Frank Tepper replied, "Pounding the pavement, kid. What else? How about you? How are your folks?"
"Oh, you know. Dad's busy and Mom is---Mom."
Frank laughed. "So what are you doing here?"
"Job hunting, and waiting for Hugh."
Frank raised an eyebrow. The line-up in the store moved forward and Hugh placed his purchases on the counter. Money quickly exchanged hands and Daniel's friend declined the offer of a bag. Cracking the pop, he took a swig. As Hugh turned, he looked past Daniel's shoulder and frowned.
"Hey, Daniel. Isn't that your Dad?"
Daniel and Frank turned as one, staring intently at the man entering an office complex across the street and halfway down the block. At first glance Daniel had to admit the man could have been his father, but there was something not quite right.
"I hope it isn't," muttered Frank, his inspection of the man intensifying.
"Maybe you should check," said Hugh.
Even as Daniel considered doing just that the image of his mother's disapproving look flashed across his thoughts. "I think I'll swing by the office and see if he's free to grab a bite of lunch."
"But if that's him---"
"If it is, he sure won't take kindly to me interrupting him in the middle of an important meeting," Daniel countered. "And if he's at the office his secretary will tell me whether or not he's too busy to see us."
"Your funeral, bradda."
Frank touched Daniel's arm. "Let me know if your Dad's at work, would you Daniel?"
"Sure, Frank." Disturbed by the sudden cool tone in the patrolman's voice, Daniel asked, "What's wrong?"
"Maybe nothing," replied Frank, his eyes returning to the building into which the man under discussion had disappeared, "And then again, maybe everything."
"Okay, Frank. Give me a number where I can contact you."
"Call me through Dispatch," said Frank.
Surprised that Frank would direct him to use formal channels, Daniel stared down the street. Frank nodded to them and continued on his beat. At the corner he met up with his partner. They paused.
'Probably exchanging information,' thought Daniel.
"Hey, bradda. Are we going or not? I'm starving." Ever one to anticipate a free meal, Hugh prodded Daniel.
"I thought you got something?"
"Pop and chips ain't lunch," countered Hugh.
Conceding the point, Daniel waited until Hugh was on his bike before dropping into the street and heading for his father's workplace.
They parked their bikes in the rack in the area at the rear of the State Capitol building, conscientiously locking them up even though it was a government parking lot. Then Daniel guided Hugh inside through the side entrance. The officer on duty nodded familiarly to Daniel as he took down their names.
"Going to see your father, Daniel?"
"Going to try to skive another lunch?"
With an impish grin inherited from his mother, Daniel shrugged. "Hey, the old man's good for it."
"Okay. Just don't let him hear you referring to him as an old man. And make sure you sign out when you leave."
The tips of Daniel's ears burned at that mild jibe. The first time he had visited his father at work without his mother Daniel had signed in at the front, but had slipped out without alerting any of the security personnel. That had caused a bit of a stir in the Capitol building until his father had sorted out the matter.
He and Hugh took the steps rather than the elevator. The door to his father's outer office was open. Annette was working at her computer. From the corner of her eye she caught sight of the teenagers and stopped what she was doing. Her eyes went to the door of the inner office then back to Daniel as he approached her desk.
"Here to see your father, Daniel?"
"Just let me see if he's free."
As she reached for the phone, Hugh nudged Daniel. "Looks like that wasn't him we saw."
"Looks like," said Daniel.
"Sir, your son is here with a friend," said Annette. "Yes. All right. Yes. I've almost finished typing up your notes. They'll be ready for you by lunch."
Hanging up, Annette gestured. "You can go on in, Daniel."
With Hugh at his heels, Daniel crossed the outer office, opened the door to his father's inner sanctum and entered. Hugh rolled his eyes, striving to get a good look at the place. Although he had accompanied Daniel to the office on numerous occasions, they had previously always wound up cooling their heels in the outer office until his friend's father came out to meet them.
* * *
"Daniel." Dan Williams pushed back from the desk, stood and came around to give his son a quick hug. "I take it you're looking for lunch?"
Daniel made no attempt to duck the question. "Are you free?"
Ignoring his eldest son's shameless grin, Danny glanced at the wall clock. "Twelve ten. Sure. I think I can squeeze a half hour."
Danny grabbed down his jacket and ushered them out of the office. Closing the door behind him, he locked it. Annette glanced up as Danny halted in front of her desk.
"I'm taking my son and his friend to lunch, Annette. I should be back in about half an hour. I've got my pager in case there's an emergency." From the corner of his eye he saw Daniel roll his eyes. Hugh grinned back at that silent comment.
"What about the report, sir?"
"It can wait. The Governor isn't expecting it until tomorrow. I don't think he'll be upset if it doesn't arrive on his desk until after lunch today."
Twenty minutes later, seated side by side on a bench, Danny and Daniel made inroads into their take-out order of sushi and rice, while Hugh picked over his bento box selections. Danny reflected Charlene was correct when she referred to Hugh as their unofficial third son. This day was no different; Daniel and Hugh were dressed in near identical baggie shorts, muscle shirts and vulcanised sandals. Even their haircuts were similar. The only obvious difference was in Hugh's build---he tended to be chunkier than Daniel---and his hair and eyes were darker. Around a mouthful of food Hugh mumbled something.
"What was that?" Daniel asked.
Hugh swallowed and tried again. "I said, aren't you gonna call Frank?"
Danny stared at his son and read embarrassment. "Did you forget to do something?"
"Uh, not exactly Dad." Daniel popped a piece of sushi into his mouth, chewed and swallowed. "Hugh and I were at a store downtown---"
"What were you doing downtown?"
"Looking for a part time job."
In response to the warning note in his father's voice, Daniel argued, "Ah, come on Dad. You and Mom are always on about me learning to be more responsible."
"Yes, but that doesn't include having your grades suffer because you're too tired to apply yourself to your studies."
"It's only Saturday and a couple of hours on Sunday." Earnest, Daniel stared at his father. "Will you talk to Mom? Please?"
Not about to be backed into a corner by his eldest child, Danny prevaricated. "We'll see."
Danny sipped the green tea and decided Charlene was right. He really did drink far too much coffee at work. Nearby a group of native birds squabbled with a couple of imported sparrows over crumbs from someone else's lunch. Occasionally one of them would bob its way towards his feet, one bright eye cocked up at him. Today one cheeky fellow emerged from the flock. When he was within reach Danny flipped a bit of sushi rice in his direction. The finch snatched a couple of grains and fled before the sparrows could descend on him and rob him of his choice titbits.
"You were going to say something earlier---besides asking if I'd support you against your mother over a part time job."
The look on Daniel's face told Danny he would rather not pursue the subject. Clearly he had hoped his father would no pursue the topic. When prodded, however he attacked the problem full on, which pleased Danny.
"You know Frank Tepper?" Danny nodded. "Met him outside the store while I was waiting for Hugh to buy some stuff."
Hugh cut across Daniel. "When I came out I thought I saw you across the street, sir."
"Really?" Danny considered the information. "They do say we all have doubles somewhere in the world."
"Yeah, well," said Daniel, "this guy actually did look like you. What was really strange was the way Frank reacted when he saw this guy head into the building across the street."
"Really. What building was that?"
When Daniel described the building and its location Danny carefully set his chopsticks aside. Thoughts racing, he considered the best course of action. If he failed to cover all bases this simple coincidence could well be blown out of all proportion. He gestured.
"Bring your lunches."
Daniel stared at his father but got to his feet. The birds scattered with peeps of alarm. A few of the boldest resettled several yards away while the rest remained in the trees.
"Where are we going?"
"Back to the office. Bring your lunches."
"Dad?" From the look on his face Daniel knew something he had said was troubling his father. "What's wrong?"
"Perhaps nothing," Danny told him. He fixed a look on both boys. "I want you to watch what you say. Do you understand me, Daniel?"
When Danny used that particular tone of voice all of his children knew there was only one thing they should keep in mind. Daniel nodded. "Tell the truth exactly as it happened."
Satisfied that his son would follow his instructions, Danny set off. "Now why were you going to call Frank?"
Caught off-guard, Daniel stared at his father for a moment before recovering. "Oh. Yeah. He asked me to call him if we found---"
Daniel abruptly fell silent. His father coolly finished for him, "After you located me so he could check whether or not you really did see me going into that building."
"Yeah," mumbled Daniel. Face burning with shame, he paused on the sidewalk.
Danny rested his free hand on his son's shoulder, before encouraging the boys along the sidewalk. "You did the right thing, Daniel. Never be ashamed of that. Your mother and I are very proud of the fact that, when it matters we can rely upon you to do the right thing."
They were approaching an intersection. Nearby was a payphone. Danny paused and searched his pockets, but came up empty except for a couple of pennies.
"Do you have a dime?"
Without bothering to explain, Danny held out his hand. Daniel rummaged through his pockets until he located a dime and passed it over. They halted at the phone booth.
"What number did Frank give you?"
"He told me to reach him through Dispatch."
Thoughts whirling, Danny called HPD and requested Dispatch. The minute the Operator answered he requested a direct patch to Frank Tepper. It took a couple of minutes for the connection to be made.
"Frank, this is Dan Williams."
A noticeable pause greeted Danny's greeting before Tepper reacted. "Yes, sir?"
"I understand you were with my son and his friend downtown when the three of you saw an individual similar to me enter a certain building. Am I correct."
Tepper answered readily enough, making no attempt to vacillate. "Yes, sir."
"Where are you at this time?"
Again there was a pause. This time Tepper sounded uneasy when he replied. "Outside the Capitol building, sir."
"Is your partner with you?"
Giving Tepper full marks, Danny ordered, "I want you both to stay there. I'll be there shortly."
Hanging up, Danny turned to his son. "Do you have another dime?"
This time it was Hugh who produced a quarter. Trying not to rush, Danny punched in another number. "Special Investigations, Officer Sharon Parsons speaking."
"Sharon, Dan Williams. Is Ben in the office?"
"No, sir. I'm sorry."
"Find him for me, would you please? I need to see him; my office, ASAP."
"He's probably just finishing up in the gym, sir." Sharon paused, whether to write something down or just to consider where else to look for her superior. "Don't worry, sir. I'll find him."
As Danny hung up and turned his son stared at him. "Geeze, Dad. What the hell's going on?"
One finger raised in warning, Danny informed his son he was too close to stepping over the invisible line between his father and certain aspects of work the family was not privy to. Then Danny crooked his finger and set off back to the office, the teenagers in tow. They returned via the front door, passing a squad car parked out front. There were two uniform officers inside.
"That's Frank," said Daniel. "Should we---"
"Don't," his father advised as he logged them in with the duty officer.
So warned Daniel shot a look at Hugh. In obedient silence they followed Danny back to his office. The minute they entered the outer office Annette knew something was wrong. She put aside the last of her food. Danny paused in front of her desk.
"I'm expecting Ben Kokua in the next ten minutes. Send him straight in."
"Yes, Mister Williams."
On that note Danny headed into his office. When the boys halted in the outer office he paused in the doorway. "In."
That clearly shook his oldest son. He and Hugh evidently thought they would be waiting in the outer office. However Danny was not about to allow the boys the opportunity to discuss what they knew and unwittingly taint their recollection of the incident outside the store. Subdued, Daniel led the way inside. Danny pointed to a couple of chairs at one side of the room.
"Finish your food," he told them. "I've got a couple of more things to do before it gets really hectic."
"Oh, yea," murmured Daniel. But he obeyed his father, applying himself to finishing off his lunch. Next to him Hugh picked at the remains of his meal. Meanwhile Danny rummaged through his desk drawers. Failing to find what he was looking for he paged his secretary. "Annette, do you know where the tape recorder is?"
"Yes, sir. I've got it out here."
"Would you bring it in, please, along with a couple of blank tapes, the adapter and the external mike?"
Seconds later Annette entered the office with the equipment. As she put it on the desk Danny looked up from arranging some papers. "Annette, there's a squad car outside. Would you please see if Officer Frank Tepper is one of them? If he is, I want them both up here. Send Officer Tepper straight in and ask his partner to wait outside."
Intrigue lit her face as she left the office. Danny picked up the phone and hit the direct line to the Governor's office, immediately reaching the Governor's secretary.
"Office of the Governor of the State of Hawaii. Linda speaking."
"Linda, Danny. Is the Governor in?"
"Just passing my desk, sir. Do you wish to speak to him?"
"Please thanks." Off the phone he heard Linda speaking to the Governor, explaining who wanted to talk to him.
Seconds later the Governor was on the phone. "Danny, what's up?"
"Sir, could you spare me a few minutes?"
"Certainly. My office or---"
"Here, if you could, please sir."
"On my way."
Across the room Hugh suddenly lost what remained of his appetite. Daniel continued to stab at the few bits of rice clinging to the sushi dish, trying to ignore his father. The aware he was irritating his father with his continued pretence at eating, Daniel stood and looked around the office for somewhere to dispose of the Styrofoam container. Danny pointed to the far side of his desk. Collecting Hugh's container as well, Daniel dumped them in the garbage.
"Dad, shouldn't we---"
His father shook his head, reinforcing his instructions with a verbal command. "Sit."
Eyes wide, Hugh stared at Dan Williams. This was the first time he had ever heard him use such a sharp tone of voice. The intercom buzzed.
"Officer Tepper is here with his partner, sir."
"Very good. Send Tepper in."
Seconds later Frank Tepper entered the office and halted. Danny gestured. "Please. Come in and close the door, Frank."
Tepper glanced at Daniel and Hugh, but the teenagers studiously avoided making eye contact. Danny knew that in itself warned Tepper what the gist of this summons was about. There was a tap at his office door.
"Come." The door opened and Ben Kokua stuck his head in. "You wanted to see me, Danny?" Then he caught sight of Tepper. "Tepper."
"Saw your partner outside."
Frank failed to comment as Ben entered the room and closed the door behind him. It was only then Ben saw Daniel and Hugh seated to the left of the door, which hid them from view until it was shut. He raised an eyebrow but refrained from inquiring as to the reason for their presence.
Once again the intercom buzzed. "Yes, Annette?"
"The Governor's here, sir."
"Okay, Annette. Ask him to come in."
The Governor opened the door, inspected the gathering with a quick penetrating glance, stepped inside and shut the door behind him. To Danny he remarked, "Full house, Danny."
"Yes, sir." "Ben, how are you?" "Good, sir."
He nodded to the teenagers before asking, "What's this all about, Danny?"
With a lift of his hand, Danny gestured his son to join him at the desk while he set up the tape recorder, started the machine and spoke concisely. "This recording is being made in the office of Dan Williams at thirteen fifteen hours on Friday, October the thirteenth, Nineteen Ninety-five."
Daniel swallowed hard, seeking support in his father's face and, like his mother, finding it. Danny continued.
"Present at this time are myself, Dan Williams, the Governor, Police Chief Ben Kokua, Officer Frank Tepper, my son, Daniel Williams Junior, and his friend, Hugh Mason. Daniel, please tell us what you told me at lunch."
"Take your time," Ben coached him. "Don't rush it. We've got time. Just say your name and tell your story. Try to keep it concise and speak clearly. Okay?"
With a brief, nervous nod, Daniel took a minute to organise his thoughts. He scrubbed his sweaty palms down his shorts, suddenly aware of his grubby appearance amongst these men in their pressed linen suits and street uniform. For once he was glad his father had remained silent, allowing Ben Kokua to instruct him in what they wanted.
Step by step Daniel outlined what had happened from the moment he had spotted Frank while waiting for Hugh outside the store. Danny asked, "What was it that made you doubt it was me, Daniel?"
"I don't know Dad," Daniel replied truthfully. "Something---just the way he walked, I guess."
As soon as Daniel was finished his father asked Hugh to confirm what Daniel had said.
"All right," said Danny once the teenagers had concluded their statements, "you can wait outside. You are not to discuss what you saw or what you've just said. Understood?"
Daniel nodded without hesitation. Hugh was slightly more hesitant, but Danny suspected the boy would comply. They left the room. Once the door closed behind them, Danny gestured to Frank.
"Officer Tepper would you please give us your account."
Now aware of what was expected of him, Frank answered readily at first. "As Daniel Williams Junior has testified, we met outside the convenience store where he was waiting for his friend. Hugh Mason was inside buying some pop and chips. When he exited the store he asked Daniel if that was his father down the street, referring to Daniel Williams Senior."
With Frank's gaze fixed on him, Danny nodded, urging him to continue. Frank shot a look at his superior and was surprised to see Ben Kokua reinforcing the request that he continue with his report.
"Daniel Junior and I both turned. We saw a man who resembled Dan Williams Senior cross the street and enter a building known by HPD to belong to a member of the local business community who has ties to one of the Tongs. At that time Daniel expressed his doubt that it was his father and suggested to his friend that they ride their bikes over to his father's office. It was my understanding from their conversation that they were going to attempt to talk Daniel Senior into buying them lunch."
In spite of the seriousness of the situation Ben Kokua silently laughed. For his part Danny maintained a degree of dignity in the face of the barely controlled mirth even the Governor was struggling somewhat unsuccessfully to suppress. After a second quick look around the room, Frank began the more serious portion of his recitation.
"Once Daniel Junior and his companion had departed the scene, I met my partner at the corner. We decided to remain in the area to see if our suspicions concerning Daniel Senior were correct. When the gentleman in question emerged from the building he was tucking a thick envelope into his jacket pocket."
Now Frank frowned, his gaze firmly fixed on Danny. "He was wearing a light grey suit."
Ben Kokua and the Governor looked at Danny. He was clearly wearing an oyster grey suit. The Governor requested definite elucidation.
"Is the suit that Daniel Williams Senior is presently wearing the same grey?"
Frank shook his head. "No, sir. What Mister Williams is currently wearing is actually a different grey. The other man was wearing a light charcoal grey suit."
"Thank you for that clarification, Officer Tepper. Please continue," said Ben.
"My partner and I watched the gentleman in question summon a cab. We then followed the cab to a credit union in Pearl Harbor, where the subject went inside. Approximately twenty minutes later he reappeared, hailed another taxi and returned to the city."
Now Frank Tepper looked extremely uncomfortable. With his gaze fixed on the opposite side of the room, carefully avoiding catching anyone else's eyes, he finished.
"We followed the taxi to this building. We parked out front while the taxi went around to the rear parking lot. Several minutes later it reappeared with another occupant inside."
"Another occupant?" Ben Kokua held up a hand to prevent Danny asking any questions. "You're positive?"
"Well, as much as we could be, given the distance, sir. The man we followed had grey hair, like Mister Williams Senior. The passenger who left was dark."
"Thank you, Officer Tepper. Would you please wait outside? And ask your partner to come in?"
"Sir." Frank nodded to Ben Kokua and the Governor. "Chief. Governor."
With Tepper's departure from the room Danny switched off the machine, flipped the tape and prepared the tape recorder for its next stint. All of them waited in silence for Frank's partner to arrive. When he entered the office Ben gestured for him to take his place in front of the desk. No less comfortable than his partner had been, he also looked to the Chief of Police.
"Just state your name," Ben directed, "and tell us what happened this mroning when you met up with your partner, Frank Tepper downtown after he had met Daniel Williams Junior." T
here was something about Frank Tepper's partner that raised the hackles on Danny's neck the instant their eyes met. This man was predisposed to believe he was the person they had followed downtown and was already making up his mind as to what had transpired, and why.
"Officer Ken Van Voert. My partner met me downtown. We had split up to do our cruise through the shops. Public relations," Van Voert explained. "When Frank caught up with me at the street corner he told me he had just seen Dan Williams Senior entering a certain building across the street."
"You're certain it was Dan Williams?" To Ben Kokua's question Van Voert nodded firmly. "Yes. He was wearing a light grey suit." When Ben appeared about to pursue that Danny shook his head. "Continue, please officer."
"Anyway, Frank---my partner suggested we hang around and see if Mister Williams would reappear. I reminded Frank we only had another five minutes in that area but he insisted. About five minutes later Mister Williams came out of the building. We saw him putting something that looked like a fat envelope into his inside suit pocket. He got into a taxi and took off. We followed him to Pearl City where he entered a credit union. At that point I wanted to leave, but Frank insisted we hang tough. When Mister Williams came out of the credit union we followed him back here."
"That's everything?" "Yes, sir." Never once taking his eyes off Danny, Van Voert added, "I'd know Mister Williams anywhere. I've been detailed to him in the past."
Something in the manner in which Van Voert spoke alerted Danny. Ben caught his eyes. They would have to look into Van Voert's record and see when he might have tripped over Danny in the course of an investigation, perhaps while Danny was still with Five-0. It was exceptionally telling that he had failed to add the piece about seeing the taxi leave with someone in the back seat. Then again, it could merely have been a oversight on his part, attributable to Van Voert failure to see the significance of something his partner had caught on.
"Thank you, officer," said the Governor, apparently unaware of the tension in the room. "Would you please wait outside?"
Ben added, "You are not to discuss this with anyone, including your partner."
"Sir?" For a moment it appeared Van Voert would balk at those instructions, but then he nodded and left the office, closing the door firmly behind him.
"Any ideas, Danny?"
"Well, for starters I think we should get copies of the logs for both entrances," he suggested.
A quick look flashed across Ben's face. He disappeared into the outer office, returning moments later. "Okay. I've got Van Voert and Tepper handling it."
"Right. I think that concludes this formal session at," Danny glanced at the clock over his office door, "thirteen forty-two hours."
The Governor glanced from Ben to Danny and back again. "What now?"
"I'll get Kimo and Sharon out to check the credit union and find out what Danny's double was up to," said Ben.
"Safe bet it's an attempt at a smear campaign." Danny reflected on the need for quick damage control.
"Then we better keep this in-house," the Governor declared. To his surprise Ben shook his head.
Ben explained, "I'd like to pull in Vic Norris and Adrian Schaefer."
"You want the press in on this?" Shocked, the Governor made no attempt to cover his dismay that Ben Kokua should suggest breaking the story before they had a firm hand on what was happening. A thoughtful look appeared on Danny's face. Before the Governor could object, Danny nodded.
"How do you think we should handle this, Ben?"
"Remember that time when someone attempted to discredit Five-0?"
Even as he nodded, Danny knew what Ben was about to say even before the words were out of his mouth. The incident had been shortly prior to Ben joining the team, but as a cop and an Islander he was familiar with most of the details.
"We know we can trust Vic and Adrian. We've worked closely with them over the years."
"We give them a brief run-down of what's going on without any names," said Danny.
"And ask them to sit on the story until we give them the go-ahead. If something should break before we're ready, they're to come back to us before they release anything."
In full agreement, Danny explained for the Governor. "We'll give them a by-line, sir. Make it appear things are worse than they are so we can keep what we have under wraps until we've caught those responsible."
Still dubious, the Governor shook his head. "I really shouldn't let you get dragged into this any further, Danny, but I have to acknowledge your investigative experience, and respect the working relationship you two have. All right. Go ahead. But keep me apprised at every step."
"Understood, sir." The intercom buzzed. "Yes, Annette?"
"Sir, the officers are back with the copies Chief Kokua requested."
"Please send them in."
The minute the men entered the office Ben signalled them to close the door. Danny depressed the tape recorder 'On' switch, announced the time for the next bit of information.
"It is now fourteen hundred hours. Officers Tepper and Van Voert have returned with copies of the front and rear door logs for personnel entering and leaving the building." He looked up. "Which of you has the front door log?"
Tepper raised the sheets in his hand. "Here, sir."
"Would you please read out loud what's on the sheet?"
Taking a short breath, Tepper said, "At oh six fifty-one this morning, October thirteenth, Nineteen Ninety-five Dan Williams Senior entered the State Capitol building. At twelve forty-six Dan Williams Senior entered the building, again by the front entrance, this time in the company of his son, Daniel Williams Junior and his son's friend, Hugh Mason. That's everything."
"Thank you. Officer Van Voert."
"At twelve eleven Dan Williams Senior left the State Capitol building in the company of his son and his son's friend. At twelve twenty-three Dan Williams Senior entered through the side of the building." Van Voert quickly scanned back over the two pages.
Without thinking he blurted, "Son of a bitch. You can't enter a building without first leaving it."
'Got them,' thought Danny, pleased with the discovery. Undisguised relief coloured the Governor's face. Even Ben appeared mollified with the results of those findings.
His face slightly red, Van Voert caught Danny's gaze. "Sir, I'd like to apologise for my earlier attitude. I've obviously been listening to the wrong people and made assumptions based on gossip instead of solid information."
With a lift of his hand Danny let Van Voert know that he accepted the apology and would not hold a grudge. Ben Kokua took a long, slow deep breath and released it. One more potential obstacle had been removed. Alongside him the Governor frowned in thought.
"I think I'll add Van Voert and Tepper to our team. If you're amenable, that is."
Upon due consideration Danny realised keeping the two on side with Kimo and Sharon would mean they could effectively maintain damage control. Additionally it would expand their manpower base.
'And we can certainly do with a couple more reliable people,' thought Danny.
"Well, I can see you've got this well in hand," remarked the Governor. "I'll get back to work. Danny, don't forget the meeting at three."
With that the Governor left. Ben directed himself to his subordinates. "I want the two of you to drive Mister Williams' son and his friend home. Then get back to SI and write up your reports. Wait for me. Don't tell anyone what you've been doing. Not even Lieutenant Mattheson. I'll brief him myself."
Frank reminded Ben, "Our Shift Commander will want to know what's up, Chief."
"I'll speak to him. He's aware SI has an investigation underway."
"Do you want us to file our reports, sir?"
"Not with the Watch Commander." Barely one step ahead of his new team members, Ben instructed them, "If I'm not there when you finish up, pass them to Lieutenant Mattheson, Sergeant Royce or Sharon Parsons."
About to say something else, Ken Van Voert promptly reconsidered. Ben added, "I'll brief you both in full when you get back from dropping off the boys. Until then you aren't to discuss this, either with them or amongst yourselves."
"Yes, sir." Van Voert answered for both of them.
"And if you would," Danny requested, "make sure those two," he gestured toward the outer office and the waiting teenagers, "don't say anything either."
The manner in which Frank acknowledged the instructions partially assuaged Danny's concerns. It went without saying he would have to fill in Charlene when he got home. Whether Daniel said anything to his mother or not, Danny knew his wife would suspect something was up.
Ken asked Ben, "Is that everything, sir?"
After silently conferring with Danny, Ben Kokua nodded. Ken and Frank nodded and left the office. In the wake of their departure they left the door open. From the outer office Danny heard his son's reaction to the directions, and the way in which he raised his voice it was evident Daniel was hoping his father would change his mind.
"You're taking us home?"
"Ah, man," groused Hugh.
"We've got our bikes. We can ride home."
"We'll put them in the trunk," said Frank, refusing to back down.
"Does Dad know---"
"The Chief told us to take you home and your Dad didn't argue, so let's go, Daniel."
In spite of the seriousness of the situation Danny could not help grinning as his son lost the battle of the wills. Ben reached out and closed the inner office door. "He sure hasn't changed over the years."
"No. None of them have," said Danny reflecting that perhaps it was a good thing his children had inherited a double dose of tough character from him and their mother. "I'll have to call Ted and have him certify these as genuine as soon as Annette types up the transcript from the tape."
As though cued the tape recorder reached the end of its tape and switched itself off with a loud click. Danny jumped, cursed and returned Ben's amused look with a sour grin.
"Nerves," he said.
"I'm not surprised," Ben told him. "You've been under a lot of stress lately, not knowing if our mysterious sniper has you or your family in his sights."
"Jesus, Ben," Danny swore again, "They nearly blind-sided us."
"Nearly." Ben stared out the open door. "Except for the luck of the Irish."
In that remark Danny knew Ben Kokua was referring to Steve McGarrett. Rather than be drawn in that direction Danny came out from behind the desk. Disconnecting the power cord and external mike, he gathered up the recording equipment and took it out to his secretary.
"Annette, I'm sorry but I've got a rush job for you."
The expression on Annette's face was sufficiently eloquent that even Ben read it as a silent rebuttal. But she accepted the tape recorder, plugged it into the power bar under her desk and set the tape on rewind.
"How soon do you need this, sir?"
"As fast as you can transcribe it. Do the best you can but I want it before the end of the day."
"When you come out of your meeting with the Governor and the DA?"
"All right, sir. And what about the tape?"
"Make me a copy. Then package everything up, including the photostats---Ben, could you pass me those, please?"
Accepting the three sheets of paper Danny handed them to his secretary. She pulled out a blank file folder, stamped the front with CONFIDENTIAL and stuck the photocopies inside.
"All right, sir. I'll get right on this."
Putting action to words, Annette began setting up the tape recorder with a headset. Ben headed for the door, and Danny accompanied him as far as the passage outside.
"I think we should get together at my place tonight," suggested Ben.
Danny shook his head. "No can do. Charley and I have to attend a social. I'd like Steve in on this and I know he's busy tonight, too."
"All right. What about tomorrow?"
"I'll check with Charley but I'm pretty sure I can swing it."
After a moment's consideration Ben asked, "What are you going to tell her?"
"I'm not sure."
"Good luck," said Ben.
With a grin and a lift of his hand he left the building. Danny watched him go. In truth he knew he had to tell Charlene most of what had happened, but definitely not everything. At the same time he knew his wife would know he was withholding information from her. To his benefit they had almost seventeen years behind them during which they had set solid ground rules on when and where she was to give him space. And when it came to work, he could rely upon her to trust him implicitly.
Waves slipped in and out with the soothing hush of waters washed by tropical sun and brushed by trade winds. Tourists sprawled on the sand, baking in the late afternoon sun. Sweat and suntan oil gleamed on tanned and bleached bodies alike. Seated in the shade of an umbrella at the beachside bar, Rostek waited for his employer.
It had been incredibly simple to make the transition to the semblance of Dan Williams. Where as little as ten years earlier makeup and latex prosthesis would have been relatively easy for even the most average observer to pierce, his disguise today had been nearly perfect. His height had worked in his favour. And his slender build gave him the ability to expand his frame where necessary.
He had to admit to a degree of trepidation when he had entered the credit union to open the bank account into which he had deposited the money Fernandez's contact had passed him in the alley behind the Tong owned building. At one point he had been fairly certain he was being followed but had resisted the urge to check. The whole point of this exercise was to have his presence noted.
Back at the last stop on his route he had experienced one bad moment when signing in with security at side entrance to the State Capitol building. Once again careful preparation had ensured success. For years he had practised the ability to forge signatures, and he had put it to good use. Fortunately he was able to slip into the downstairs men's washroom without encountering anyone. Once in a cubicle he took off his disguise, tucking it into the bag from which he had taken his change of clothing. One of the building cleaners had been paid to make that drop the previous evening. With his disguise in the bag, and dressed as a visitor he waited for an opportunity to slip out.
That had come soon enough when a small tour group had, as expected departed the building. Blending into the group, he accompanied them to the bus in the parking lot. At that point he parted from them and called for a taxi. Total elapse time to complete that phase of the job, twelve minutes.
Looking up, Rostek caught sight of his employer. Accompanied by his wife, Fernandez was sauntering towards him across the bar. Rostek stood and pulled out a chair for his employer's wife. Amelia, her face almost devoid of emotion, inclined her head in silent thanks as she was seated. Orders were placed while Rostek waited for Fernandez to speak. Although it irritated him to be so blatantly placed at the lower end of the social scale by this petty drug baron, Rostek was willing to bide his time, accepting his pay and waiting for the day when he could move on to other employment.
The waiter appeared and placed their drinks in front of them. "Will that be everything?"
Haughty to the point of snubbing their server, Fernandez looked to Rostek to tell the man to leave. Anders nodded. "Yes. Thank you."
He paid the waiter, adding a tip that was carefully calculated to ensure the man would forget them. Their server withdrew and Amelia sipped the fruity concoction. Her eyes remained fixed on the scenery, appreciably bored. Children squealed. A couple played a choreographed game of tag that lovers pursue while sailboarders, surfers, and two individuals wearing snorkelling gear moved in and out of the water. Further up the water's edge a young man with a boogie board paused to speak to four men who were preparing to launch a small outrigger.
As usual Fernandez did not ask how things had gone, he expected his people to enlighten him. Rostek bit down on his irritation. It would not do for his employer to know he was pushing those particular emotional buttons. Face carefully schooled, he made his report.
"Everything went smoothly. There is a possibility that I was spotted by some cops, but I'm not sure."
"But that's exactly what we were hoping for." An edge appeared in Fernandez's voice.
"Tell me." Now Fernandez displayed the godfather style he had learned from watching his deceased father-in-law work his subordinates.
"I made the pickup at the building and took a taxi to the credit union as planned. No one there thought anything strange in Dan Williams setting up an account. When I picked up the taxi to head over to his office I thought I saw a cop car following us. However they parked out front."
"So they may simply have had business inside," Fernandez mused. Lifting his hand, he flicked a finger to indicate Rostek should conclude his report and picked up his drink.
"I made the change, slipped out with a bunch of tourists and caught a cab to the drop point where I got rid of my disguise. Then I caught a city bus here."
That he was not dealing with one of the house servants failed to impact Fernandez's thinking. His men were there simply to help him succeed in his enterprise, which was all that mattered. If they failed him, he permitted them one more opportunity to prove their worth. A second failure meant removal from his organisation: a permanent termination. During his father-in-law's tenure as head of the organisation two individuals had elected to switch employers. Only one had survived, but he was in a coma and unlikely to recover.
This was the tactic Fernandez employed. He paid his men well and saw to it that their other needs were also met. In that way he sought to ensure their loyalty. Unlike Montanino, however, Ricardo was all too conscious of his origins. Instead of empathising with those who, like him had clawed their way up from poverty, Ricardo enjoyed lauding it over them. Of guaranteeing they never forgot that he had made it while they were still mere underlings. Only Josť maintained something other than a servant-employer relationship with Fernandez.
'And that,' reflected Anders, 'is probably due to their having been together from the beginning to when the old man found them on the street in Bogota and brought them into the organisation. What he saw in Ricardo no one will ever know. He was a fool to trust him, though. If you nurture a viper, sooner or later it'll sink its fangs in you. Such is the nature of the beast. It lives to feed and breed.'
While Fernandez's attention was fixed on three nubile young things waggling down the beach in the direction of the water, Anders dared slip a glance in the direction of Ricardo's wife. He was shocked to discover Amelia watching him from the corner of her eye. The minute their eyes met, however her attention moved almost casually back to her drink.
"So we wait until Sunday evening," declared Fernandez, his attention returning to the business at hand. "Then you will make an anonymous phone call to the one of the local reporters."
"Who have you decided I should contact with this information?" Anders wanted to know.
"I think we shall use an old acquaintance of Williams'; Adrian Shaefer. He's known Williams and McGarrett the longest. It will be amusing to watch that relationship destroyed when he realises Williams is no better than any other would-be politician."
'This is a bad idea,' thought Anders, but he kept his opinion to himself. Instead he nodded.
"As you wish, senior. Do you wish me to go by a pre-composed transcript or just wing it?"
"I will consider it," replied Fernandez. He turned to his wife. "Amelia. We are leaving."
Laconic, Amelia continued sipping her drink. "I want to go shopping, Ricki."
"Tomorrow," he told her.
She flinched then, as Fernandez took hold of her biceps and squeezed. If it had been anyone else, anywhere else Anders would have intervened. But this was his superior and the woman was his wife. It would not be wise to say or do anything that might jeopardise his livelihood at this point in time.
"Ricki," Amelia hissed as he forced her to stand, "you're hurting me."
"Then do not make a scene," he commanded, his words hissing, reinforcing Ander's impression of a serpent.
Without a backward glance Fernandez ushered his wife from the bar. Content to allow the domestic confrontation to work itself out in private, Rostek remained at the bar, nursing the second drink which he had, in truth, not wanted. Eventually dusk drew down the sky. As the breeze switched around, bringing the cool air in over the land off the water, he got to his feet and left.
His presence would not be required until the following day, so Rostek took time to stroll the walk along Waikiki. Music drifted out from the various hotels, most of it popular Polynesian melodies which the tourists demanded. Occasionally the deeper base thump of modern music from local bars and passing cars drowned out the more acceptable tunes.
Rostek reached the zoo and turned to retrace his steps when a sudden thought struck him. "The registers."
This was something he ought to have taken into account. Anyone checking out Williams' alibi for today would first check the door registers. Memory might be fallible, but the paperwork would be the clincher.
It was a small thing, but in his entire career he had never left a loose end. Worse, this one little thing could well be enough to make the whole plan unravel. Without conscious thought his footsteps began leading him back in that direction. At a street corner he halted.
"Think," he ordered himself.
The only people in the building at this time would be the night watchman and the custodial staff. He had to remove the pages before Monday morning. Carefully considering the possibilities, he headed back to his car.
14 October 1995
Intrigued by the opportunity to see how the Chief of Honolulu's Police Department lived, Ken Van Voert was intent upon being the first to arrive at Ben Kokua's residence. He parked down the street from the housing complex and sauntered up the street. Someone approached from the opposite direction. Ken paused in a pool of shadow, waiting to see if the individual was someone he knew. As the person passed through the glow from a streetlight he identified Kimo Royce.
Aware someone was watching him Kimo paused. His gaze swept the spot where Ken stood. "Who's there?"
"Sorry, Serg. It's just me." Ken stepped into the light.
That Kimo chose to question whether or not Ken thought he was being followed rather than joke with him about playing spy told Van Voert more than he liked concerning the case in which he and Frank had suddenly found themselves embroiled.
"Not that I know of."
Even so Kimo double-checked the street before gesturing Ken to follow him. "Come on. The Chief's expecting us."
"I haven't seen anyone else yet."
Kimo grinned at him. "You don't know this bunch very well."
To that Ken shook his head. They crossed the street and met up with Frank who had appeared from the same direction Ken had come, but on the opposite side of the street.
"Thought you'd beat me, bradda," Frank greeted his partner. "'Evening, Serg. Guess we all wanted to be early."
Frank missed the look Ken shot him. Instead of responding to Frank's hail, Kimo led them to the address they wanted. Ben Kokua opened the door to Kimo's knock. When Frank and Ken entered they were surprised to discover the living room already full of people. In quick succession they picked out Sharon Parsons, Dan Williams, Jonny Mattheson and, to their astonishment Steve McGarrett. Ben Kokua made the introductions.
"Frank, Ken, you already know Kimo, Sharon and Jonny." Both men nodded as each person greeted them. "And Chief of Staff to the Governor, Danny Williams, of course."
"Sir," said Frank.
"And this is Steve McGarrett. Steve," Ben pointed to each of his patrolmen in turn as they shook hands with McGarrett, "Frank Tepper and Ken Van Voert."
"Tepper. Van Voert."
"Mister McGarrett," Ken managed. Frank shook hands with McGarrett but seemed to have temporarily lost his voice.
"So, two more victims for the team," observed Jonny, his familiarity warming both men.
To Ken it was astonishing how easily these individuals, in particular the famous Steven McGarrett welcomed two relative strangers into their small circle. There was a trust here each man had earned, working in close association with one another protecting each other's back in and outside of the line of duty, not to mention their families and friends. Being included in this exclusive group made Ken nervous. He knew he had yet to earn that same degree of trust.
Beside him Frank was less affected, possibly because he was chummy with Dan Williams Junior. However he was clearly as intimidated by the present of the Man as Ken was. They secured seats on either side of Sharon. Ken quickly swept the room. He noted there was no sign of alcohol anywhere in the apartment, although there was a pot of coffee on in the kitchen. Mugs of coffee sat on the table between McGarrett and Jonny Mattheson. Next to Dan Williams sat a bottle of water, half-empty, while Sharon sipped a soda.
'Looks like what they say around the office is true,' Frank considered. 'The Chief doesn't drink.'
"Either of you want something right now?"
Both shook their heads and Ben sat on the remaining empty chair. Leaning forward, he began, "All right, this is where we stand to date. We have one dead cop who worked on a case that involved Steve, Kimo, Sharon, Jonny and I. Although Jonny was only in on it at the end."
"Our sole connecting point at this time is Ricardo Fernandez," added McGarrett.
Suddenly Frank understood what they were doing. This was a police briefing, away from HPD. Cold fingers crept up his spine. He glanced at his partner. Saw the look Ken swept over the others in the room. Their eyes met briefly. Then they became aware the rest of the group was waiting for them to recover from the initial shock of what was happening.
"Sorry we're doing it this way," Jonny explained, "but given the nature of what's been happening Ben's place seemed to be the most secure."
"Yes, sir. But," Ken put his partner's unspoken question into words, "which dead cop are you referring to?"
"Rob Rydell," said Sharon, her teeth clenching around the last letter in the deceased Hilo Police Chief's name. "He was murdered."
"Murdered?" Frank glanced from Sharon to Jonny to Ben. "But the papers said---"
"Death by misadventure is the official line," Steve told them. "At least for the time being."
"Since Steve was shot at during the funeral it was decided this case would be kept under tight security until we got a break."
"You were shot at?" When Steve confirmed what Ben had said, Frank asked, "If you don't mind my asking sir, where did the sniper get you?"
"Across the shoulders," Danny informed him. "A fraction lower and Steve would have been paralysed."
"And if he hadn't bent forward," said Sharon, "he might even be dead."
All of them knew they had Frank and Ken's undivided attention. It was now Ben and Danny's turn to recount the events of that afternoon. Jonny swore several times, apologising when his oaths went beyond what he knew his sister would consider acceptable in mixed company.
"So as we suspected they did go after you," Jonny shook his head. "Damn. It's a good thing Daniel spotted their man going into that building."
"Sir," said Frank, addressing himself to Ben, "What about the register sheets?"
"It's Ben," his Chief admonished him to use his first name, "Danny and I already took that into consideration when we had you and Ken make those photostats. The District Attorney had the original sheets replaced with the copies you made. The originals have been certified and date and time stamped, and locked up in the District Attorney's office along with the tape and transcripts of your meeting this afternoon with Danny and me."
The manner in which everyone else in the room took the information in stride made Ken and Frank even more conscious that they were newcomers to this tight knit company. At the same time they were being afford the same level of acceptance.
'At least,' thought Frank, 'they're making us believe we are.'
"Kimo. Sharon. Would you please brief us on what you turned up this afternoon."
Senior partner of the pair, Kimo outlined their leg of the investigation. "Sharon and I interviewed members of the credit union Frank and Ken saw Danny's double enter. It appears the person in question opened a bank account, supposedly for campaign contributions. Quite a sizeable sum, I might add, boss."
"How much?" Steve McGarrett wanted to know.
"Oh, not much," replied Kimo, his expression deadpan.
Sharon told them, "About five hundred thousand."
"Enough to hold a great party," observed Ben, making light of the situation.
"Obviously what Fernandez considers the going amount for complicity," Danny mused out loud.
In the wake of Danny's reflection Frank exchanged a quick glance with his partner and knew Ken had made the connection. They had been rookies when Niko Montanino and his son-in-law, Ricardo Fernandez had attempted to kill Steve McGarrett. They had successfully wiped out the rest of Five-0, as well as murdering the new District Attorney. That had been fifteen years ago, but for everyone in the room the incident was as fresh as if it were yesterday.
Danny's blue eyes lost their sparkle. "Charley is not going to be amused."
Frank leaned over to Jonny and asked, "Who's Charley?"
"But I thought---sorry." Frank mentally kicked himself. 'Charlene---Charley.'
McGarrett leaned forward, staring at his ex-partner. "So you've made your decision."
More rhetorical than a question, it nevertheless elicited a response from Dan Williams.
"Charley asked me to give her a few days. There's a lot to take into consideration, for both of us. And you know Charley."
"So who's wearing the skirts?" Jonny Mattheson needled him. Danny grinned and the air in the room lightened appreciably.
"Yeah, well, being Chief of Staff and looking at the job of running the entire state are two entirely different things."
"Heavier workload, too," said Ben Kokua.
'So there it is. The only thing is, when Montanino and Fernandez were taken down the Lieutenant was just a patrolman at the time,' thought Frank, caught up in making the connection between the men apparently on the same hit list. 'And Dan Williams wasn't even in the picture. Unless they're on the list by association.'
"It's a safe bet they'll break the story next week." Sharon put into words something all of them had to have been thinking.
Danny shook his head. "Maybe. Then again, they may wait and try to build a more solid base."
Ben summarised, "So, in short, our man walked into one of the Tong businesses and made it appear he had been paid off. Then he casually opened a bank account, not caring whether he was seen or not, and headed back to the Capitol building as though returning to work, signing in to ensure everything was above board."
"Except they didn't count on being seen by Daniel and Hugh," said Danny.
"So we're looking for someone who's more than your run-of-the-mill muscle. He's good with disguises and a competent forger. That should give you something definitive to run with, Jonny. By the way," Steve asked, "did anyone interview the Tong?"
"No," Ben told him. "That's on the list for tomorrow."
"Let me do that," said Steve.
Ben shook his head. "You and Danny shouldn't be seen to be involved with this investigation, Steve."
"Even if we are," Danny stated.
"You should know we've brought the press on line as well." Ben glanced around the gathering, weighing the reactions from each person.
McGarrett asked, "Who?"
"Vic Norris and Adrian Schaefer."
"Good men." Satisfied with the choice, Steve pursued the logical thread to that questioning. "How much are you telling them?"
"Only that someone may be attempting a smear campaign against Danny and we need them to run a good by-line, running interference for us as it were for the time being," Ben told them. "So what do you think? Will they go after the rest of us?"
No one spoke. Each person suddenly developed an intense interest in their choice of beverage, except for Steve McGarrett and Dan Williams. Without lifting his head, Frank watched the silent exchange. Despite an eleven-year separation while the Governor's Chief of Staff had been on the Witness Protection Program they had retained that ability to read one another without voicing their thoughts out loud. There were times when he and Ken had that same affinity, but their partnership paled next to what the ex-head of Five-0 had with his old partner.
"I think we've covered just about everything." Ben unintentionally broke across Frank's introspection.
On that note everyone stood. Sharon, Kimo and Jonny left immediately, in quiet consultation. Steve McGarrett and Danny moved into the kitchen, discussing something. Ben turned to Frank and Ken, drawing them across the living room in the direction of the door.
"We'll give the others time to get clear."
"If any of us are being followed, won't our tail be alerted to the number of people who were here this evening?"
Expression a study, Ben Kokua explained, "Only you, Kimo and Ken would have been seen coming in the front."
The reminder that the other members of the team were more than familiar with subterfuge caused Frank to blush. Ben clapped him on the shoulder before heading into the kitchen to join Steve and Danny.
"Good going, bradda," Ken teased. "Tellin' the Chief his job."
Before Frank could respond the doorbell rang. He and Ken quickly withdrew around the corner in the living room, out of direct view of anyone at the front door.
"Hello, Jamie. Bit late for a social call." Ben greeted his caller congenially.
"It's only a little after eight," a woman objected, holding up a baking pan inside a plastic bag. "I was making squares and thought you might like a bit of a treat, knowing your sweet tooth."
"You're welcome. Good evening Mister McGarrett, Mister Williams."
McGarrett responded warmly, "Miz Lennox. Seeing to Ben's nutritional requirements?"
"Of course. This is just what every growing boy needs," Jamie quipped.
Steve and Danny made no attempt to cover their amusement at Ben's reaction when he parried, "My growing waistline, you mean."
Of Puerto Rican descent, on the downside of her fifties and full-figured, Juanita Lennox's acquaintance with Ben Kokua went all the way back to High School. At one time she had even set her cap for him, but had lost out to another woman. Indirectly involved in Montanino's strike against Steve McGarrett, Jamie had nearly become a statistic. These days she kept her association with Ben to that of a good friend. They enjoyed the occasional meal out and a movie from time to time, but that was the extent of their relationship. And both were comfortable with that.
Ben accepted the pan, gazed at the contents and shook his head. "I think I'll take some of this into work, Jamie, otherwise they'll have to provide me with my own personal lift just to get up and down stairs."
Laughing, Jamie waved and disappeared off down the hallway. Pan in hand, Ben closed the door, locked it and turned around just in time to catch Danny pantomiming a Sebastian Cabot-style waistline.
"Cut it out," Ben ordered. "Just for that you can help me eat this."
Danny inspected the offering. "Butter square. Nice. I could always take some home for the kids."
"There's an idea."
But when Ben held out the dish Danny shook his head. "Hey, bradda, I didn't say we'd eat all of it for you."
"Danny," Ben pleaded.
"Sorry, Ben. I'm afraid you're going to have to taste it just so you can tell her truthfully that you had some."
Faces contorted in a vain effort to keep from laughing, Frank and Ken watched Ben with unguarded interest. He turned to them and held out the dish.
"Okay, men. It's time for you to show your true colours."
After a brief silent consultation they joined the others in the kitchen, while Ben removed the dish from the bag and set it on the counter. They inspected the contents. Ken sniffed appreciatively.
"Smells all right." He looked at his partner. "What do say, bradda? Do we sacrifice ourselves for him?"
Knife in hand, Ben stared at them. "That wasn't a request."
Frank slapped a hand to his chest. "Ave, Caesar. We who are about to die salute you."
"Very funny. Take it." Ben ordered them, levering out the first bit of square.