A/N: While this is takes place early (season two or three) in the series of "Magnum P.I" I have taken some liberties with the setting. Instead of being 1980 when the series first starts, it is 2000. Thomas Magnum, T.C. and Rick are not veterans of Vietnam, which ended in with the Fall of Saigon in 1975. Instead, they are veterans of the Persian Gulf War (aka Operation Desert Storm, (1991)) and the Bosnian War (1992-1995). Thomas resigned his naval commission in 1996. Cannon established that he is 36 (born in '44) when the series first starts and I have set him at 36 in 2000 (born in '64, instead), which has him graduating from the Annapolis' Naval Academy in 1987, instead of '67.
They say to write what you know and I know more about this era than I do about the post-Vietnam era of the early 80s, so therefore, any historical references are easier for me to make.
Thank you for bearing with my poetic liberties.
Thomas Magnum walked into the upper level dining area of the King Kamehameha Club which was closed before lunch, looking for his friend, Orville "Rick" Wright. He'd come by the club, as usual, after his run on the beach and was told, by one of the waitresses, that Rick was waiting for him. "Rick?"
"Thomas? Great, you're here." Rick came off the balcony that overlooked the beach and motioned for his friend to join him out there.
Once outside, Magnum saw the dark haired, blue eyed, pianist and lounge singer, Elizabeth Bolling sitting at the nearest table. "Hello, Liz," he smiled. "How are you…" his question trailed off when he saw her eyes, rimmed in red as if she'd been crying. His eyebrows knit together and he looked over to his friend. "Rick?"
Rick took a deep breath. "Sit down, Thomas."
Magnum sat and looked across to Liz, who was furiously wiping her eyes with a well-worn tissue. "What's wrong?"
Liz shook her head and looked at Rick.
"Tell him, Liz. He can help."
She shook her head. "I already told you, Rick!" she looked back at Magnum. "I'm sorry Rick called you. I can't afford to hire a P.I."
"Private Investigator," Magnum corrected. "Why don't you just tell me what's wrong? We're friends, right?"
Liz nodded, but didn't speak.
"Liz," Rick urged. "Tell him!"
Liz took a deep breath. "I don't know where to start."
"How about the beginning?" Magnum prodded.
"Really?" she gave a short, humorless laugh. "It's a long story."
Magnum nodded, his thick eyebrows knitted together over concerned eyes. "Tell me."
She took a deep, shaky voice. "I am, as you may know, a friendly person by nature, to everyone, but I have always gravitated toward guys," her face was earnest as she explained. "They're just more honest. Women can be catty and two-faced, but most guys don't tell you that you look nice when you really don't. Guy friends won't smile in your face and then speak nasty about you when you walk away. At least, that's been my experience." She looked down at her hands and took a deep breath. "My best friends growing up were guys and I always counted myself as one of the guys. I never learned how to be coy or flirtatious like other women."
Magnum nodded. He'd seen her in action since meeting her, a couple of months earlier. She was quite friendly and some might mistake it for flirting until they got to know her and realized that it was just honest friendliness.
"Because I'm friendly, though," she continued. "People get the wrong idea, quite frequently. I mean, the men I become friends with get to know me and understand. But people on the outside start talking. In high school, people assumed I was dating BOTH of my best friends. When I was in the Army, the supply sergeant who taught me how to drive was supposedly giving me more than driving lessons. When I was in college, I was part of a study group. It seemed, to me, innocent enough. three guys, three girls, all English majors, all of us involved with people outside the group. Then my boyfriend broke up with me because he said he couldn't stand all the rumors about me and my male study partners. ALL THREE OF THEM!"
She sighed. "There are many such stories, but I can't be something I'm not. I am not willing to stop being myself for the sake of preventing rumors."
Magnum opened his mouth to say something, but was cut off as she continued.
"After college, I started teaching English and History in a high school in Miami. I developed friendships with men AND women. But, sure enough, after a time, rumors began to fly about me and one of my male friends, Jose. We laughed about it and dismissed it. The teacher in the classroom next to me, Steve, and I would talk in the hall between classes, then rumors started about us. Another person, Manny, would joke with me in the teachers' lounge during lunch, but I had never heard rumors...until..." Her story trailed off and she looked down at the tissue in her hand.
"Until?" Magnum prodded.
"Steve was involved in a serious car accident. He was okay, but someone had tampered with his brakes. Then, not 6 months, later, Jose had an accident. Again, his brakes had been messed with. The two of them shared no students; they taught different subjects and different grade levels. They were both well-liked among students and staff. They didn't socialize outside of school. In fact, they only knew each other through me. Then, Manny was… killed in a car accident." A tear escaped her eye, and she wiped it away at once. She sniffed and added. "I'm the only common denominator."
Magnum leaned forward, reaching out as if to comfort her, but she shook her head before he could. "I went to the police. I begged them to look into it. They dismissed it, very politely, of course. When another friend of mine, outside work, found that his car was leaking from the engine and discovered that his brakes had been cut, I went back to the police. Then I quit my job, packed up and moved here to Hawaii."
Magnum nodded. "Trading one paradise for another."
She smiled, only slightly. "That is what I told you, isn't it?"
Rick spoke then. "Keoke was in an accident last night."
Magnum'ss eyebrows went up. "Is he okay?"
Rick looked grim. "They're keeping him a couple of days because of a concussion. Other than that, just banged up. He's lucky, but, Thomas, I just got word from a buddy of mine that police are saying his brake line was cut."
Magnum looked back at Liz. "You think Keoke's accident is related to Miami."
Liz's lip quivered. "I d-don't know, for sure. I spoke to the police, but they suggested that I was being paranoid. I must have worn my emotions on my face when I came to work today – "
"You did!" Rick interjected.
She nodded. " – because Rick brought me up here and I'm afraid I unloaded on him. It was his idea to call you, but, as I said, I don't have the money to hire a private investigator."
Magnum shook his head. "Keoke's my friend, too. I never take it lightly when someone threatens my friends. Why don't you tell me why you think this accident is related to Miami – other than the brakes being tampered with? What if it's something else?"
Liz shook her head. "Maybe it is paranoia. I've only been here for 6 months. Keoke could have enemies who might want to see him harmed, but he's always seemed to me to be a sweet guy with a friendly disposition – the kind of guy everyone likes."
Rick nodded. "That's Keoke."
Magnum nodded in agreement. "Is there something else?"
"My car has been in the shop for the past three weeks. Keoke's been taking me home from work each night I've worked since I've been without a car. The other night, I was telling him that I had made flan and he said he'd never had it, so I invited him in. He left about 45 minutes later."
"And from the outside observer that could appear to mean something," Magnum said, grimly.
She tilted her head and pursed her lips. "Tell me that it didn't go through your mind at all," she challenged with an arched eyebrow.
Magnum straightened. "What? No! Come on, Liz! I know you," he insisted. His tone gentled. "Listen, I wouldn't assume."
Her other eyebrows rose and she waited.
Magnum frowned. "Really!"
Rick smiled, sheepishly. "Normally, it would cross mine." Then his eyes widened. "But I know you, Liz! I don't think that you and Keoke – " he added quickly.
She smiled a small smile and held up a hand. "Thank you, Rick."
Magnum held up his hand. "Is your car still in the shop?"
Liz nodded. "Yes. They're waiting for a part."
"How about I give you a ride to visit Keoke when you get off work today? We can talk more about who you might think is responsible."
"But that's the worst part! I don't know who might be responsible! I have no idea!"
Rick stood. "Liz, let Thomas take you home. Clean up a little and go visit Keoke. Take today off. Tell him I'll be by later."
Liz shook her head. "Rick, I have to work. Who will…"
"Don't worry about it," Rick shook his head. "Go."
Liz shook her head again, but stood. "But…"
Rick took her by the hand. "You've been here for enough hours I can give you the rest of the day off and call it an emergency leave, which I can give you without docking hours. Really, Liz, don't worry about it. Go with Thomas."
She looked at Magnum, who nodded. She took a deep breath and looked back at Rick with the same small smile. "Thank you, Rick. For everything."
Rick ducked his head, embarrassed. "Go on, get outta here."
She picked up her bag and nodded at Magnum, who motioned her to go first, then gently put his hand on the small of her back to guide her out of the club to the valet. While they waited for the Ferrari to arrive, she looked up at him and took a deep breath. "Just in case I forget to say it later, thanks, Thomas."
He smiled a closed-mouth smile down at her and said. "You're welcome."
The car arrived and he held the door for her as she got in. Then he walked around and entered the driver's seat, put the vehicle in first and started off down the road, following her directions to her house.
Magnum walked with Liz up to her door. She unlocked the door and invited him in. Instead, he took her elbow to hold her back, as he walked around her and inside the small house ahead of her. He looked around, cautiously, then motioned her to come in.
She did, with a frown. "I have never been directly threatened, Thomas."
He nodded. "I know, but it doesn't hurt to be careful."
Liz eyebrows knitted together. "I guess you're right." She glanced around, concerned.
He walked over and looked down at her, touching her arm, lightly. "I know I am."
She smiled a smile that didn't reach her eyes. "Excuse me," she said. "I'm going to go put on some jeans."
As she moved out of the room, she called out behind her. "Make yourself at home. Help yourself to a drink - everything's in the kitchen."
He moved into her small kitchen and looked around. Her kitchen was well stocked with healthy ingredients - with the exception of a box of Oreo cookies - which told his trained eye that she cooked more than she ordered in, liked to eat healthy but allowed for an occasional treat. He knew when she was working, she ate in the kitchen of the club, but when she was home she obviously cooked. He found her glasses and lemonade in her refrigerator. He poured two glasses and returned to the living room in the front of the house.
She emerged from the hallway to the bedroom wearing jeans and a black tank top that showed her curves off nicely. Her jeans were slightly long for her and she carried black and tan Espadrilles in her hand, leaving her feet bare. Her dark hair was pulled back in a practical ponytail.
He looked at her and realized that she was missing a good four inches off her height. He looked down to her bare feet and smiled broadly. "You wear heels all the time?"
Liz blushed and glanced down at her feet. "If you were all of 5'3", you might too!"
Magnum laughed. "I never knew! You always wear those long dresses that cover your feet. "
She raised an eyebrow in his direction, put the shoes down on the floor next to the couch, and took one of the glasses from his hand. "And you're supposed to be a great private investigator," she said with an easy smile.
He chuckled and she offered him a seat on the couch. She took a sip of the lemonade and set the glass down on the coffee table. Then she began to put her sandals on.
"So," she said, fastening the ankle strap on the right ankle. "What brought you to Hawaii? You're not from here, are you?"
"No. I was stationed at Pearl. Then I wasn't and decided to stay in paradise."
She nodded. "I get the attraction, especially after having spent my formative years in northern Indiana. Paradise is much nicer."
Magnum smiled at her as she finished with the left ankle. Then she straightened and placed her hands on her thighs and looked back at him.
"So, what's the plan?"
"Well, one way to attract someone who is stalking you and trying to take out potential competition is to become that potential competition," Magnum said, frankly.
Liz's eyebrows came together over widened eyes and she shook her head. "Oh, no. That's not a good idea!" She glanced out the open door, through the screen to the Ferrari parked on the street. "Especially given what you drive!"
He lifted a hand in a 'calm down' gesture and smiled. "We'll talk about that later. For now, let's just go visit Keoke, like we planned."
She nodded and took a deep breath. "Let me just put some sunscreen on. I'm afraid that my shoulders burn something awful without it." She stood and went to the table by the door which had a pink bottle of sunscreen on it. Before she could open it, he was there and took it from her.
"I'll get your neck, too," he said. He was aware they were standing near the open front door and front windows and counted on any observer seeing him put the sunscreen on her - an innocent gesture that could easily be misconstrued.
He poured some of it on his hands and began to spread it across her neck and shoulders, down to her elbows. He began to feel an intense warmth on his hands. He frowned.
She jerked away suddenly with a gasp. "Thomas!" She looked at her arm with wide eyes. "It's burning!" She ran past him into the hallway.