When the Song Dies
by Peg Keeley

onenerveleft59@hotmail.com

Malama Kanae gazed with mixed feelings out of the airliner window as it taxied across the airport to a halt. How long has it been? Five years? Six? I was always going to come home, but something always got in the way. Well, I'm here now. Home at last after so long. The people here always loved me, accepted me. What if no one comes? It was difficult to think about being rejected. She shivered, imagining a large, silent stage with thousands of empty seats staring silently at her. The nightmare plagued her nearly every night. This is my home, these are my people. I am one of them. She smoothed her jeans and shirt. She continued to watch through the portal, drinking in everything she saw as the liner turned towards the terminal. A group of about thirty people were standing beyond the fence with several banners that scrawled out "Welcome Home" and "We love you, Mali!" She gave a little gasp of pleasure. "Look, Alf! Look!" Sounding like a small child, She clapped her hands.

"Press is at the gate," the large, blond-haired, blue eyed man leaned across the isle to say.

She smiled back, her features as dark as his were fair. "Thanks, Alf. Why am I so nervous?"

"They're your people, Mali, they'll love you." He reassured her.

She turned on a smile. "Of course they will. This wahine has come home." She jumped to her feet. "I've got to go! I can't keep them waiting!" Her tone unexpectedly hardened. "Tell Randall not to screw up and drop anything."

He turned away without further comment.

-----------------------------

Mali's concert was the talk all over Oahu and no less than in the Five-O department. Kono had spent the better half of the morning arranging tickets through his brother-in-law and was thirty minutes late for the mandatory mid-day briefing.

"Sorry, Boss," he mumbled, a fistful of business envelopes clutched in his hands. "Bunch of people was depending on me."

Steve McGarrett raised an eyebrow. "Get the earlier business from Duke later."

Kono gave an uncomfortable glance at Duke and slipped him an envelope.

"Kono, just how many people did you get tickets for?" Steve suddenly asked.

He blinked in surprise. "Fifty tickets for nineteen people. Charlie gave the PBA a fifteen percent discount."

McGarrett nodded and continued. "They're predicting a sellout for all three nights."

"She was born here," Kimo commented, wanting to prove he'd done his homework on this phenomenon. "Blood is thick," he added with a shrug.

"Yes," Steve nodded, "but why suddenly now? Hawaii wasn't on her original tour itinerary."

"Her last release bombed in LA," Danny remarked a bit coldly. "Maybe she's come home to lick her wounds."

Everyone but Steve looked at him in surprise. It seemed unpatriotic to speak badly about the visiting local celebrity.

Steve went on. "HPD reports this morning that in the last 48 hours there's been an increase in cocaine availability. There's enough stuff piling onto this island to sink it. The dealers were just about giving it away. The small time sellers are all being undersold."

"Somebody's getting greedy in the market," Duke judged, getting back to business.

"And spending a lot to do it," Steve responded. "He's must be planning on getting a mother lode from somewhere. The FBI informed me that last week there was the same build up in San Francisco. Before that, Houston. Before that St. Paul."

"The route of Mali's concert tour," Danny observed.

Kimo looked at him in surprise, a teasing grin on his face. "Gee, Danny, I thought you were down on this Mali thing. Do we have a closet fan here?"

He did not reply, but it was plain he thought it was neither funny or a conversation topic.

Steve continued. "Texas Rangers came to the same conclusion. They placed an officer inside; he was killed in what appeared to be a freak electrocution accident." He walked to the window and back. "I don't need to tell you that we need to tread lightly. It all may be co-incidence. The mayor and city council see dollar signs from concert profits. I have been told pretty bluntly by the tourism board that it would not be nice to implicate a home grown girl who's made it big on the main land. Governor Masakasi has stated clearly he won't have us doing anything flashy. We need to be extra careful that we handle this discreetly."

"Flashy?" Kono asked.

Duke crossed his arms. "He's new on the job. No sense getting the public mad at him this early in his career.

"You want to put somebody on the inside?" Kimo asked, transparent that he'd relish the undercover job.

Steve raised an eyebrow. "Ideally, but it can't be just anyone."

Duke agreed. "They made the Ranger--and iced him. They won't be quick to accept just anyone."

"How about an old friend, down on his luck, needs a job?" Steve explained his plan.

Danny sat back in his chair gazing at McGarrett a moment. He could at least have asked me privately first. Steve always has been good at putting me on the spot. Some things never change. "That old friendship died a long time ago," he stated.

"Something we all don't know about here?" Kimo asked.

"Malama and I grew up together. Kid next door sort of thing." Danny filled in. This was a place he did not want to go, and a subject he did not wish to discuss with Carew or anyone else. "Our paths parted a long time ago."

"When did you see her last?" Steve asked.

Damn him, he already knows this answer. "High school graduation."

Kimo chuckled. "You never wrote?"

He glared. "I never write anyone."

"It's been long enough ago that she doesn't know what you do now but would still remember you," Steve decided.

"Well, we didn't exactly part as friends," Danny added, his last attempt to change this plan.

"Good, it'll give you a good starting place," McGarrett answered.

------------------------------

Mali was thrilled as she danced across the stage of the Waikiki Shell before the empty seats. "As a child I dreamed of singing here someday. For all the places I've been, I've only sung here once before. I want to use a new show format. I've got some Hawaiian cultural tunes. Get this to the band. This will be heaven," she announced to Alf, handing him a disorganized mound of sheet music. The nightmares of empty seats had been pushed away by her vision of cheering crowds. The clapping, adoration, to feel the enthusiasm of the crowd that she could control by the mere turn of her body, or tone of her voice. The power to emotionally move those who came to see her. Yes, that was it--to see me.

Alf turned away, trying to sift through the scores. "Most of those guys don't know Hawaiian music. I'm not sure they can get it down by tomorrow night. They won't like this."

"Make them try. If we can just use a couple it would mean a lot to the people here. Tell them I said to make it happen."

He sighed. Alf wasn't very happy with being a manager. He used to be a musician, he still wanted to be. But that was before Mali had overtaken his life. He knew he could have prevented it, but he knew he was too much in love with her to even attempt to overrule her let alone leave her. Not that she ever seemed to notice. She was a flirt; usually in every place they stopped for longer than two days she was off with a new romance. But she always returns to me. "The people here are looking forward to this. All three nights are sold out. Maybe we don't have to risk the new stuff." He smiled broadly, pleased to see her to happy. She'd been so driven and frightened these last few months. The decision to come here had been a good one. Maybe it didn't matter that there was a money deal behind it, it was still emotionally good for Mali to return to her home. He didn't much care for the palm trees, flowers, and birds. He'd grown up on the streets of Detroit and this was all pretty alien to him. But it was good for her.

"Alf," she came to him and placed her slender arms around his thick waist. "I really owe them. I want to find a way to thank them. It will be so special. My greatest concert ever. Just think, my greatest fans are here. My old friends, school teachers. My people."

He could not help but notice it sounded more like she was claiming sovereignty than identifying with the islanders. He picked up a pair of wire cutters. "It seems every concert is better than the last," he commented. "You've nothing to worry about."

She looked back across the rows of empty seats. Her mood suddenly shifted and a haunted look overtook her. "Someday they won't care anymore," she whispered. "They won't remember me."

"No one who's met you ever forgets you," he assured her, rising and putting a protecting arm around her.

She suddenly swung back into her cheerful mood, as if his one reassuring sentence was all it took. "And it's going to be great here. You'll see. Hawaii is so wonderful."

"Well, it is different," he remarked, returning to his amplifier.

"Oh, Alf, this is paradise! Relax and enjoy it!"

"I'll be happy when you collect your six million and we get back to the ol' USA."

"This is the United States!" she announced, hands on hips, laughter in her voice.

"No, McDonalds and Pizza Hut is USA, not Mama Koa's Poi Palace."

She giggled.

Danny, wearing a flowered shirt and cutoffs, came around the far right corner of the stage. He spotted her immediately and could not help pausing. Before his mind flashed the image of the little smiling child, black hair matted with sand, chasing sea gulls across the sand. The thought was chased by the beautiful maiden lying across the blanket on that same beach in the light of the full moon. The maiden to whom he'd lost his innocence.

"Mali," he said quietly.

She turned, hearing the sound, recognized him, and a smile blossomed on her face. "My God!" For a moment she stood transfixed.

Alf jumped up, indignant rage plain. "Hey!" He leapt off the stage, his large six foot six, 280 pound frame imposing as he approached Danny with every intention on being in charge. "How'd you get in here?!"

"Alf," she called out. "Wait!" She scrambled down to the asphalt and raced towards them. "Danny!" She threw her arms around him, surprising him as much as Alf. "I'd know you anywhere! Still haven't grown an inch since high school! Alf, Danny Williams. We grew up together. My God, I don't believe it!" She smoothed her long hair with a hand, and tugged at her shirt.

Alf was not impressed and he did not miss the quick primping act. This is not going to happen again. He is not going to woo his way in here. The fact Mali mentioned knowing this guy made him all the more the threat. "How'd you get in here?" he demanded again, anger plain.

"You look lovelier than ever, Mali," Danny said pleasantly, ignoring Alf. This monkey isn't going to pull that act on me. Besides, if Mali was anything like she used to be, she was calling the shots, not giagantor here. "I wasn't really sure you'd want to see me."

"Of course I would!" she said happily, then hesitated. "Oh, that! You've still had that working on you? I forgot it long ago."

"It's all long past, Mali," he replied. "I just wanted to see you again. You made it big like you said you would."

She smiled. "I sure did. And how about you? Last I heard you went to Berkley."

"Oh, I'm doing okay," he said, deliberately sounding evasive. "I finished up in the University of Hawaii. I missed it here too much."

"I've missed it, too," she admitted.

But apparently not that much, he thought to himself.

"Your aunt still living?"

"No."

Mama neither. She died last year. Did you know that?"

He nodded. "I went to her funeral."

She was slightly embarrassed. "I know I should have made it but -- well," she shrugged," -- she'd have understood." She slipped her arm into Alf's, an action that Alf found quite reassuring. "I've got Alf here for family now."

Danny glanced at Alf. The return look gave the definite message that Mali was spoken for and he could die for trying to change it.

"So, what are you doing with yourself, Danny?" asked Mali without catching the exchange of expressions between the two men.

"Oh, you know." He gave a shrug. "Things here and there." His non-committed response had been pre-planned, but it made him just a little uncomfortable. He was keeping one eye on Alf.

She gave a sly smile. "You're not out showing sexy rich tourists the town are you?" Before he could respond, she added enthusiastically: "Why don't you come work for me? We could always plug you in somewhere. Come on, Danny, it would be fun!"

"Mali!" Alf roared, jumping free from her arm.

"Well, I could use the money," Danny replied, ignoring Alf's comment, but not loosing the opportunity of giving a smug smile.

"I need a go-fer," Mali snapped at Alf. "He's an old friend."

"You haven't seen him in 20 years," Alf remarked. "You know nothing-"

"Oh, Alf," she put him off. "You want the job, Danno? It won't be much, but then..." she stopped, a sadistic glint in her eye.

Danny knew the unspoken finish. …you ain't much either. She'd used it on him once before. She'd been in charge of the high school play and he'd had a brief fling with acting, at her encouragement. She'd used the occasion to embarrass him in front of sixty students and teachers.

"Look, Mali," Alf remarked, "you wanna look good hiring the locals, at least hire a Hawaiian, not some mainlander."

She almost laughed in Alf's face. "Mainlander? Tell him when your mama's family came to the islands, Danno."

He flushed. "1852."

Alf cursed and turned away.

"He always is a sore head when he doesn't get his way," Mali giggled.

Still the same old Mali. Nothing's changed about her. She is still able to run over just about everyone. "Well, I hope you have a leash for that gorilla," Danny commented.

------------------

"I tell you," Alf growled to Randall as they stacked empty lighting cases, "she just doesn't use her head. What does she know about this guy? Nothing. After that Houston incident you'd have thought she'd wise up."

"Shut up about Houston, don't even think about it." Randall hissed. He stopped, picked his acne-laiden face in thought, then shoved his hands into his pockets. Randall Higgens was not a beautiful person to look at. Small, skinny, still afflicted with acne and approaching thirty, he was a man who survived by his wits and cunning. He'd managed to talk and maneuver his way into Alf's life a little over a year ago. The troop had been in real financial trouble before then. Randall had magically been able to rework the books, and make it all work out. Alf had turned a blind eye to how he did it at first. In time, it had been revealed that there wasn't anything magical about it at all. And they now traveled a fruitful, yet precarious road. After a minute of thought Randall said to Alf, "Well, if he's a go-fer, make him 'go-fer' something. You don't want him around when Saunders shows up."

Alf bent closer to him. "You have an idea?"

"Sure, don't I always?" He dusted the dirt from his jeans. "Just get him away from Mali."

"That'll be a pleasure," he remarked. "They took off, but she's got a rehearsal at four o'clock."

"Good. I'll take him to town to make a drop for me. Give the Colonel a call. He can have somebody check Williams out."

"We won't have enough time for something involved," Alf protested.

"Don't worry," Randall reassured him. "It'll be cool by concert time."

"Better be. The Colonel is a man you don't want to disappoint. We can't afford any mistakes."

------------------

Danny and Mali wandered the shore around the east side of Oahu. It was less crowded than Honolulu's side and he knew where the deserted areas were.

"Awh, Danno," she said, lifting her head for the wind to catch her hair as they walked barefoot along the shoreline. "I need this. I really do. Nowhere else is the ocean and sand the same as here. And I've seen them all."

"I imagine so," he replied. "Are you glad?"

"About what?"

"That your life's the way it is?"

She laughed quietly. "The lonely life of the megastar? Not me. I love it." She tossed her head. "I wouldn't trade that cheering for anything. Wish it could go on forever."

"You sound like you're planning to retire or something."

She sighed again. "Look at me, Danno, I mean really look at me." She turned to face him. "When I saw you, I realized that I'm not an eighteen year old kid heading off to take the world by storm anymore." She smiled and looked down at the sand. "You make me want to go back to when life was simple and it was all still ahead. I think about retiring now and then, but I can't. This isn't just romping around singing for a lark. There are big corporate investors and all. I owe a lot of people a lot of money. I need to really hit it big--just this once."

"Do these three nights make that much difference?"

She gave him a sideways glance. "Yeah, for me they do. I guess I couldn't ever really give it up anyway. That applause keeps me going." There was silence for a few minutes and she sat on the sand, running her fingers through the fine grains. "Not going to ask me to stay, huh?"

He grinned, sitting down beside her. "I guess it's your business, Mali."

She looked almost disappointed for a moment. "I'm surprised you didn't take me over to the beach at the old marina." She cuddled closer to him. She whispered softly. "It was the most special moment of my life--even bigger than the crowds."

They sat in silence, watching the waves rolling up on the beach, each thinking back to that memorable night.

Mali moved even closer and kissed his neck. "Let's go there."

He pulled himself back a little, recalling his purpose for being here. "I can't."

She scowled.

"The beach isn't there anymore. It's a hotel now."

She looked pained. "Gone?"

"That's progress for you."

The scowl melted into the joy of her latest idea. "Danno, you come with me. Become part of the show and I'll show you the world."

He gave a short laugh. "No thanks. I've got a world right here."

"Escorting tours and bumming friends for jobs?"

He looked sharply at her. She still knows how to zing people.

"Sorry," she said quickly.

He doubted she meant it. "I keep busy. I don't really need a lot and I still have time to enjoy the surf."

"God Almighty, Danno, a beach-boy forever. Strange, isn't it? Straight as an arrow and you can't keep a job."

"Mali-"

She gave a mildly sadistic laugh. "Twenty years ago you turned in poor Kato who came to you for help. You could have saved him with just a simple story -- a little white lie. Know where he is now? Owns a stock firm in New York. He's a millionaire, imagine that. You can't keep a job."

"Mali, he got drunk and killed three people," he reminded her.

"And left it to you to save the world," she tossed out the acid remark. The hostile look suddenly faded and she burst out with a laugh. "Good old times, heh, Danno?"

He ran a hand across the sand. "I guess time changes things," he answered quietly.

"And doesn't change some others. Are you really just as straight as ever?"

He gazed out towards the horizon. "Well, going hungry a time or two makes one think."

She gave him another sideways grin. "I really did love you, you know. Your first love never really leaves you." She suddenly jumped to her feet, then impulsively kissed his cheek and tossed a handful of sand into his hair. "Stay with me. I'll see you get your share of the real life."

He watched her dart into the surf, the salty water splashing up her legs. Maybe there is some truth to that: Your first love never really leaves you. For a moment, he thought about telling Steve to forget this undercover. Then who will he assign? Someone like Kimo Carew who doesn't care about protecting Mali? And after all the things of the past, why do I still care? I don't know. But I must be careful to get whoever is smuggling the drugs without accidentally snaring her in the trap, too.

--------------------

A worn, battered panel truck pulled into the parking lot close to the Waikiki band shell. Randall casually strolled to it, chewing and snapping on his ever-present chewing gum. He had been amused when he'd been given the name of his contact in Hawaii as Colonel Sanders. "Like the chicken king?" He'd been verbally assaulted over the phone for the remark, but it had left him curious about what the man looked like. He somehow doubted the man would be sporting a goatee and white suit. The moment was now at hand. He peered into the driver's window. "Colonel?"

The man past the driver, sitting in the passenger seat, wearing a casual work shirt and sunglasses leaned forward. "Over here."

"Oh." He squinted, sizing up his contact. "Ain't as much as they said."

The driver grasped Randall by the throat and slammed his head against the door post. The chewing gum fell out of his mouth into the dirt.

Sanders waited for a moment, clearing his throat. "Don't let looks deceive you, Cowboy. Will you be on time?"

"Yeah, no problems," Randall said.

"Then why did you want to see me?"

"Mali picked up a stray. This beach-boy she knew as a kid."

Sanders sighed and lit a cigarette. "Look, I'm not here to take care of your personnel problems. I am not going to save your hides again. No more. You have trouble, I don't want your goods."

At that moment, a blue convertible Jaguar XKE spun into the far side of the lot, Danny at the wheel, Mali by his side, laughing as her hair flew wild. It skidded to a halt at the other side of the lot and she jumped out. "I'll be late for rehearsal," she announced and dashed away.

"That him?" the Colonel asked casually.

"Yeah," Randall nodded. "I just need to get me eyes in the police department this evening. Just report what goes down."

There was silence. Sanders and his driver watched as Danny walked away, seeming to be ignorant of them. "You got it." Sanders flicked his cigarette butt out of the window, gestured, and the panel truck pulled away, leaving Randall standing there.

"Shelby," the Colonel commented to his driver uneasily, "find out what you can about that beach-boy."

"I felt like I'd seen him somewhere, too," Shelby replied.

----------------------

Danny parked the Jag, then made his way inside the amphitheater and found Mali's dressing room empty. She'd already gone for rehearsal. He glanced quickly around the room, opened a few drawers. Little was in them. The cosmetic bag sat open on her makeup table. His breath caught as he noticed the small plastic bag of white powder on top of the bag. Surely not. She can't be taking drugs. Why not? An awful lot of really nice people get caught up in that awful web. Hoping to prove his deduction wrong, he took a pinch and rubbed it against the tip of his tongue. The tingle confirmed his fear. Careful to leave the cocaine just as he'd found it, he stepped away with a sinking heart. What do I do now? Using isn't the same as selling. But it puts her in with the same type of person. So, who's in this and where is the stuff? And who's the ultimate buyer? How do I get her help and not arrested? If I could get her to voluntarily go to treatment, then I could get those bastards who got her hooked. And who's that? Alf? Randall? He could hear someone in the hallway, waited until the person had gone past, then slipped back outside.

"Hey! Beach-boy! I was lookin' for you!" came Alf's loud voice.

He froze and turned. Had he been seen leaving the dressing room?

Alf cornered him by the wall. "What 'er you doin' in there?"

"Just dropped off some of Mali' stuff," he said, lamely.

Alf grasped Danny's shirt and yanked him off the floor, slamming his head painfully against the cinderblock wall. "You hear me good, Beach-boy: stay away from Mali. You're a go-fer, not an escort." To emphasize his point, he placed one hand around Danny's throat, effortlessly keeping him elevated with the other. "You'd hate to have an accident, I'm sure."

Danny let his expression look a bit fearful. "She wanted to visit the beach we use to go to, Alf. It was her idea. Maybe if you, you know, lightened up a bit here. Mali's a big girl, she can make her own choices." I cannot wait the mop the floor with you, scumbag.

Alf let him go roughly. "Well, you'd better make a few choices that are good for your health. Stay away from Mali. Randall has a job for you to do. He needs you to go with him--now." Alf watched as Danny left and felt uncomfortable. Who is this guy? Williams hadn't been put off at all by Alf's display of strength--the pulse Alf had felt in his neck had barely increased at all. But he played the role. He wanted me to think he was scared. Just who in hell is he? And Alf knew he was no beach-boy.

-------------------------------

Randall chattered non-stop all the way into Honolulu. He took the small blue Jag on a hair-raising path between cars and trucks, with no apparent concern for his or anyone else's safety. "Alf, you know, he is real possessive about Mali," he told Danny as he spun the wheel.

"So I noticed," Danny answered, clinging to the arm rest on the door. "Mind watching your driving a little more closely." He winced as they ran a red light and the oncoming semi-truck wailed its horn.

"What?" Randall looked at him. "Oh." He again skidded the car into the right lane. "You'd be better off just staying away from Mali. Trust me."

Sure, I trust you. Danny smirked. "What are we doing here anyway?"

Randall slid the rental car into a parking spot near a Chinese restaurant just outside of the Waikiki district. He got out and Danny followed.

"What goes on?" Danny repeated, casually.

"Here." He shoved a vinyl flight-bag into Danny's hands. "I need to see somebody about a promo for the concert tomorrow night. There's a guy's comin' to pick up these tapes for the pop radio station. The first guy wants to talk and said he'd buy my meal. You get the cheap one. You just give him the bag and stick around and wait for me. I'll be about an hour. Think you can handle that?"

"Tapes?"

"Yeah, you know, complimentary tapes for radio stations."

"How will I know the guy?"

Randall gave a chuckle. He'll know you."

"How?"

He tossed his staff jacket with the tour logo on it towards Danny. "There." Randall headed for the restaurant door. "Just wait here. Not even you could screw this up too bad."

Danny watched him leave, resisting the strong urge to check the bag. He wondered if there were drugs inside. He suspected some drop man to appear at any minute. Get a grip, Randall isn't going to put me onto his payroll that quick. This has got to be some kind of a test. He might be watching to see if I'll check the bag. He chose to stand by the car and wait.

Randall walked in the door of the restaurant, turned back and watched Danny for a minute or two, then shook his head with a small laugh. He stepped to the payphone and pressed zero. "Operator, get me the police."

Danny glanced at his watch. Ten minutes. The sun was hot; he pushed his sunglasses back up his sweaty nose. Randall said an hour. Am I going to stand here for that hour just sweating? Probably. He moved towards the shade of a tree nearer the corner. Just as he did, there was a sudden squeal of tires as a patrol car rounded the corner before him and slammed to a halt. He spun around. Jeeze, not the kind of set up I had in mind. His mind raced through the options of how he should handle this moment. He chose to treat it as he'd observed hundreds of drug pushers caught in the act--fake it. He hid his face and started to walk away from the officers, but made it less than four steps before he heard the shot gun cocked.

"Police! You with the bag, stop!" one ordered.

Pedestrians parted like the Red Sea as Danny broke into a half-hearted run.

"Freeze!" the other officer yelled, "or I'll blow off your legs!"

"All right! All right!" He raised his hands, dropping the flight bag, still facing away. Somewhere, he knew, Randall was watching. And he was in a most delicate spot. Thank God he didn't know the officers, but as soon as one checked his wallet and saw the ID, they might blow his cover.

One kicked the bag towards his partner. Danny noticed his name tag identified him as Billings. "Against the wall," he ordered Danny.

Danny moved to the wall as Billings started to frisk him. "Look, I was just dropping these tapes off for a friend."

"Sure you were," he remarked, finding Danny's wallet and removing it. He placed the nightstick against the nape of Danny's neck as he flipped through the wallet.

The officer with the shot gun dumped the bag out and cassette tapes clattered noisily out onto the concrete.

"See?" Danny murmured, trying to watch the face of Billings.

He stared at the Five-O ID. There was a split second hesitation and he started to remove the nightstick.

Danny swung around, grabbing hold of the nightstick, and rammed it into Billings' stomach.

"Play it out!" he hissed as they collided.

Still bent double from the abdominal blow, Billings slammed his shoulder into Danny's chest with all his strength, crashing them both into the wall. He yanked the stick back from Danny's hand and brought it up, catching him under the chin and lower lip. Danny slammed to the sidewalk, dazed, blood spurting from the lip.

The officer's partner brought up the shotgun inches from Danny's head. "Oh your belly!" he shouted. Danny did as he was ordered. "One more move and I'll dust you. Got it?!"

"Damn it, it's just tapes," Danny murmured as Billings applied the handcuffs.

"Yeah?" The second crushed a tape under his heel. "What's this?" He held up the tiny pouches of white powder.

Billings yanked Danny to his feet and shoved him into the squad car. He walked to the front, glanced around, then got in as his partner did the other side. Without a word, Billings tossed the wallet towards him.

"Damn." The officer glanced at Danny. "I almost wasted a Five-O man."

Danny gingerly touched his tongue to his bloody lip. "Well, you sure played it out."

"Now what?" Billings asked.

"By the book. I have a feeling we just did a performance for someone," he remarked.

-----------------------------------

Travis Elliott was a large, dark-skinned Hawaiian who would have looked more appropriate on a beach in flowered shorts. Instead, he stood in the midst of his small kingdom of Honolulu Police Department uncomfortably squeezed into a three piece suit. It was getting late and he'd long ago abandoned his tie, jacket, and vest. When McGarrett arrived, he made a feeble attempt to look formal--he ran a quick hand through his wavy hair.

Steve always looked precise and formal even on this hot night, making Kimo, who trailed him, look even more casual in his jeans and open Hawaiian shirt. "Travis," Steve murmured as a hello.

"In my office," Elliott replied, blackly. As they entered, he firmly closed the glass door. "Sit down, Steve. You may need to."

He looked surprised, but did not sit. Kimo perched on the edge of Elliott's desk until a sharp look from Elliott caused him to rise. Elliott sat down behind his desk. "Steve, we've always worked well together, kept good communications between us."

"Can you come to your point?" Steve asked him, cutting the monologue short.

"No one informed me of your setup. I've got a Five-O cop in my tank on charges of dealing, possession, assaulting an officer, and resisting arrest. I've got a two year cop's statement that he nearly blew away Williams."

"Dan Williams?" Steve asked registering no surprise.

"Who in hell did you think I'm talking about! It was your scam, wasn't it?"

McGarrett and Kimo exchanged looks. "Travis," Steve said quietly, "Danno's out in the cold. Whatever happened, it was to keep his cover. He hasn't been in touch with us."

"They must be a real fast crowd," Kimo commented.

"Yeah," Steve said in thought. "Travis, we're going to play this out. My guess is that they're testing him. Let's see if they don't come up with his bail money. Anyone spoken to him?"

He shook his head. "I wanted to see what you wanted."

McGarrett glanced at his watch. "How long has he been here?"

Elliott looked at the clock. "About two hours."

It was just after seven. "Let's wait awhile. Who else is in the tank?"

"Cha-Lee Sting," Elliott replied. "He's a wino, this is practically his mailing address. Other one is Ken Shell a nineteen year old kid who fell from grace with his girl friend. She said he stole her car."

Steve nodded. "He's the one."

"A plant?" Kimo guessed.

"Of course. Later she changes her mind, drops charges, he's out. He'll report to whomever hired him how Danny handled himself." He turned to face Kimo. "Kimo, wait at least another hour. Then go down."

"And do what?" Kimo grumbled.

He patted his shoulder. "Feel like starting an acting career? You get to question Danno like any cop would a two bit drug dealer. Somehow I think you can get into that part."

Kimo gave a smirk of a smile. "Might actually be fun."

----------------------------------------

Mali finished washing the dirt and sweat of the afternoon from her face. She examined her skin carefully in the mirror and then began to reapply her make-up as she considered what to do with the evening. She'd had a long rehearsal, but felt good about tomorrow night. There was a knock at the door. "Come in."

Alf squeezed through the door. "Mali, we need to talk."

"Oh?" She looked up, making eye contact with his reflection. She finished applying her mascara.

"You gotta keep your stuff out of sight." He gestured to the case. "I caught Williams snooping around here this evening."

"Danno?" She frowned. Alf's getting off on this possessive thing again.

"He said he was looking for you, but he couldn't have missed it."

"Alf, don't worry about him. He's not gonna cause trouble. He's a washout." Pulling the tie that had held her hair back from her face, she shook her head and let her tresses fall loosely about her shoulders. She giggled. "Are you jealous?" She slipped a hand around his waist.

"Be serious. He could be anything. How do you know he won't turn you in to the cops or something? You don't. Mali, he could be getting ready to black mail you." He paused to catch his breath. "I have your best interests at heart. We can't afford any problems. Randall decided to set him up to get busted."

"He what!" She leaped away, fists clenched. "You had no right!"

"I have every right, Mali. I don't trust him. I don't know who the hell he is, but I know he's no beach bum. Maybe he's a cop or a reporter--I don't know. But he's trouble."

She tightened her fists. "And if he was a cop or a reporter, you just sent him off with evidence! Every cop in Hawaii would be on our doorstep right now. Talk about problems! Lucky for you he wasn't a cop, huh? He's just a harmless nobody and you're trying to get rid of him for your own good. You don't like the competition. Well, for your information, I can make up my own mind and right now there's nothing to make up my mind about! What you did was disgraceful and it's going to call unnecessary attention to us." She picked up her purse and headed for the door. "What happens if he tells 'em where his stuff came from?"

He grabbed her arm. "Where are you going?"

"Let me go!" She pulled free. "Whose show is this anyway? You're a nothing without me, either. Don't you forget it!"

"You're not going to the police station."

"Of course not. A lawyer is but a phone call away. And this comes out of your cut!" She stormed out.

Alf stood in the dressing room in silence, trying to control his fury.

-------------------------------

The barred door slammed shut behind Kimo as he slowly, hands in pockets, strolled over to where Danny lay stretched out on a wooden bench, wet washcloth over his face. Lee Sting snored soundly from where he lay on the floor under a bench contributing a repugnant body odor as well as sound effects.

Shell was sitting in a far corner, legs tightly together, hands in his lap. "Is my mother here?" His voice was high and piercing. "I called my mother. She should be here."

Kimo waved him off. "Naw, I'm not the guard, Kid. No uniform, you know?" He walked over where Danny lay. "Hey, you." He picked up the cloth, got a glance at the bruised lip and jaw, then dropped it back onto Danny's face. "Williams, right? Sit up."

Danny tried to remind himself he was supposed to be a timid guy who'd tied up with the wrong crowd. Why did Steve send Kimo of all people. He slowly rose on one elbow. "Me?"

Kimo bent down, grabbing him by the shirt, and yanked him up into a sitting position. "There, that's better." I could kind of like this.

"I didn't do anything. Can I go now?" Danny tried to look innocent. "I don't know anything." I'll kill you, Carew.

"Carew, Five-O." He flipped his badge with the mere flick of an eye towards the teenager across the cell. "Let me explain something here, creep. I am in charge and you are not." This really is fun!

What an idiot. "What's Five-O want with me?" he asked meekly. "I don't know anything about any drugs. I was doing a favor for a friend. I was told they were tapes somebody was picking up."

"Friend got a name?" Kimo put a foot up on the bench.

Cowboy antics. He isn't even from Texas. The Boston Cowboy--cousin to the Boston Strangler. He remained silent a little longer. "Look, I think I'm entitled to a lawyer, right? I mean, that is what I've always heard."

Kimo pursed his lips. "Talk now, off the record, and I could make things okay for you."

Danny stared at him. What if he really does this kind of stuff?

Hey, I got his goat for real. This is a real blast. "All right. Play it your way. Get all fancy with the lawyer stuff. I can't fix you a deal then."

"A deal? What kind of deal?" This I gotta hear.

He grinned. I always wanted to muscle crooks like this. "You tell me what the deal was. I might be able to get you some help. You know what I mean? Cancel your troubles here, get you fixed up. Get you real deal. I mean you're using, right?"

"Fixed up?" I can't believe he's pretending to cut a drug deal in a jail cell. He glanced at the teen in the corner. The guy was riveted to the conversation.

Kimo laughed. "How I see it, you take someone else's heat if you keep quiet. But if you're smart, you'll listen to me. You've got no record till now. Your friend didn't do you any favor. But I've got connections, you know? You're a new face. I could get you fixed up and making a profit by tonight. What do you say?"

You're a jerk. "But I don't know anything about drugs."

He scoffed. "Cut the act, okay? I could really use you, you know? I mean, you are really smart, probably selling for years and undetected."

"Not I'm not."

He burst into broad smile. "You're not smart?"

"Go to hell." And he meant it.

"I can send you there, too," Kimo remarked to be glib.

An officer appeared at the door. "Hey, who's Williams?"

Danny looked over to him. "Me."

"Your lucky day. You've got a lawyer and bail money here."

He rose. "Can I go?"

"That's up to Carew, here."

"Give us just a second," Kimo snapped.

Danny blinked. "I think I've got a lawyer now."

Carew cursed. "You don't tell him a thing I said or you'll never leave this place alive, you got that?"

Shell had pressed himself far back into the corner in pure dread of Carew.

Kimo grabbed Danny's arm. "Come on, smart boy." He led him out of the cell. They headed down the hall out of the cell block.

As soon as the steel door shut them away from the cell, they both relaxed.

"You're a real jerk, Kimo," Danny snapped. "I won't be surprised if tomorrow's headlines read a Five-0 cop got arrested for arranging drug deals in HPD."

"I always wanted to do that just once." Kimo laughed. "Tell me I didn't give you a shock, huh?"

He smirked. "I thought you were stupid."

"I could tell you didn't expect that. You were lost for words." Kimo gloated.

"Lost for a good reason not to slug you." They had reached the front desk.

"You okay?" Kimo asked more seriously, noting the swollen lip.

"Yeah," he answered. "There is a drug deal of some kind going on. It's tied to Sanders. He was with Higgens in the parking lot today."

"Can he make you?" Kimo asked.

He paused to consider that. "No, I don't think so. I've never actually met him or anything. I need to locate where they're storing the drugs. My guess is a false bottom in one or more of the trunks that hold the lights and sound equipment. They'll try to move them out quick. There'll be all kinds of stuff movin' in and out of there tomorrow before concert time."

"Want a cup of coffee or anything?"

"My gun."

Kimo stopped at the front desk. "Get his personal items."

Moments later, Danny tucked away his badge and weapon. They walked to interrogation room 3. The door opened to reveal an attorney who was immaculately dressed, considering the late hour.

"Mr. Williams, Miss Kanae has retained me to represent you," the small Indian man stated, extending his business card.

"Good, I need all the help I can get." Without looking at it, he stuffed the card in his shirt pocket.

-------------------------

ull moon hung brilliantly in the eastern sky as Mali's lawyer led Danny from the police station. It was close to midnight. "I guess I'll see you later," Danny commented, turning to go.

The lawyer caught his arm. "Where are you going?"

"Back to my place."

"Miss Kanae requests I bring you to her hotel room."

"What?" He turned in surprise.

"She put up your bail money. Maybe she wants to keep track of her investment. I'll drive you."

As they got into the car, Steve and Kimo watched from a window. "Kimo, be sure there's a tail on that nineteen year old when he's released. Then you get on to Sanders. I want to everything he does, who he talks to, what he says. And use a camera."

------------------------

Mali hurriedly opened the door at the first knock. "My God, Danno, what did they do to you?"

"Nothing much." He came uneasily into the room.

"Mr. Athers?" She motioned to the lawyer.

He stood in the doorway. "Miss Kanae, your friend here is in a lot of trouble. I'm not sure you really want to be seen with him. His hearing will be next Monday." He hesitated a moment. "You might convince him to give the police the information they want. They seem convinced he's not behind this. It would be in his own best interest to co-operate. Well," he paused again, "good evening, Mr. Williams, we'll be seeing each other again."

She shut the door as he left, then pulled Danny to the couch. "Come on, sit down. Let me see that bruise."

"Don't bother," he answered, taking a seat.

She disappeared in the bath, then returned with a washcloth and ice from the ice bucket.

He flinched as she pressed it against his jaw and lip.

"Interesting twist, isn't it?" he remarked.

"What is?"

"I've never had a day of trouble till you came back. You know those morons you've got working for you set me up."

"I know," she replied, sliding close beside him. "I'm really sorry about it all. Alf's such a jealous baby."

"Jealousy? You think that's all this is about?"

She shrugged. "Well, yeah. Alf just thinks he has to be the lead pack dog or something." She giggled. "You just have to get used to him."

"I'd rather not. Mali, I think they're pushing drugs."

Her eyes narrowed slightly. "What makes you say that."

He wrestled for an instant about telling her everything, and thought better of it.

"They got those drugs to plant on me."

She lowered her gaze. "They don't sell, they buy."

"For you."

She nodded, blushing. "It's really not a big thing, Danno. I just use a little from time to time. It helps me relax before a concert. I'm not a junky."

He didn't respond.

She hurried to continue her reasoning. "You know, just like some people use coffee to wake up in the morning. Alf and Randall are good guys really. They'd do anything for me."

Anything? "Coffee's not illegal. And you're fooling yourself, Mali, those guys are no good. Did they get you hooked?"

She frowned. "I'm not hooked." She tossed the washcloth to the coffee table, frustration suddenly venting. "Why are you so black and white? Most of life is really sort of gray. It's all relative, you know?"

He took her hand to draw back her attention. "Mali, I've spent twenty years trying to tell myself you're a pompous brat, but all the while, unable to keep from following your every move. I care about you. I don't want to see you get ruined by these guys. They're into something big. It'll get you hurt--maybe worse."

There was a silence for a moment as she stared at him with her deep black almond eyes. Then she giggled. "Oh, Danno, you are so dear--and so naive." She pulled her hand away. "Did you really think you could walk back into my life after twenty years and have me fall at your feet?"

He felt indignation rising. He rose. "I didn't ask to come here--that was your idea. I didn't have to do anything." He headed for the door. "I've gotta be going. Thanks for the bail out. I'll pay you back." It was not what he felt, but at this moment, he wasn't sure what he did feel. He yearned to tell her the truth, perhaps then she'd believe him about Alf and Randall. They'd killed one man, would they kill her, too? If the steaks were high enough he believed they would. He paused at the door, again uncertain of where Mali fit in to this whole picture. He could still see her as the child he shared popsicles with, the young girl he shared love with. "Mali, they're planning a big sale. That's why they set me up. They don't want me around when it goes down."

She came to him. "Who told you that?"

"It's pretty obvious, isn't it?" He shook his head. "It had to be something big for them to get me arrested. They wanted me out of the way. Alf got mad when you hired me. He is serious business. I could have got killed today. You could be in real danger."

She gave a little strangled laugh. "Alf? Dangerous? He's a big cuddly teddy bear. Alf would die for me. He loves me--maybe more than I desire. Without me, he wouldn't have a life."

He looked away from her. "Well, maybe so. I'd best just leave you with the guy who worships you. Godhood has to be tricky at best."

She hurried to him, pulling his hand back from the door. "Look, I'm sorry about all this. Really. It's not as bad as it seems." She carefully placed her arms around his neck. "We don't have a lot of time--let's not spend it fighting. I really do want to be with you."

He scowled, aware he had just experienced another of Mali's amazing mode shifts that seemed to change her entire being like turning on a light switch. In high school, I thought that was cute. I liked that spontaneity about her. It's not so cute anymore; something is really wrong with her. He felt the urge to protect her from Alf, Randall, the world, and herself. "Malama, you're a hard woman to know."

She smiled, this time seductively. "Isn't that when it's the best?" She kissed him gently on the lips, tenderly avoiding the injury. "You were my first love, Danny Boy, no one will ever change that."

He gazed into her dark face, wishing things were different, trying to keep it all in perspective. "Haven't you heard? You can't go home again." Does she even know who Thomas Wolf was?

She didn't seem phased at all. "I told you, didn't I? Your first love never really leaves you," she whispered into his ear, then nibbled his lobe.

"Mali-"

"Ssssh." She embraced him and kissed him passionately. She drew him towards the patio. "Look, Danno. A full moon tonight. If only we had our beach."

He knew exactly what she meant. He recalled that warm senior prom night, the iridescent droplets of salt water reflecting the moon light on Mali's soft flawless skin. Every moment of that night of first love was fresh before him as the Mali of today stood in the full moon of this night.

She embraced him, running her fingers up through his hair, then pressed her mouth to his in a fierce passion as if to force the clock to turn back twenty years.

A small voice scolded him that he should put out this fire. This isn't the time, no matter what she says. She is still a suspect and this is an undercover assignment. I do this and it could blow the case. He started to pull away, but Mali held on tighter, issuing a tiny moan of protest. Her perfume enveloped him. The same scent he had always known to be hers. Her hands were stroking his neck, his face, his back. He could feel her body pressing against his, just thin sheets of clothing between them.

He took her in his arms and returned the kiss, immersing himself in her desire. It really did seem like the clock was turning back as he felt his better judgement yielding to hopes long dead and an old love that had never died. You never really leave your first love.

----------------------------

There was the clean sound of splashing water as Danny roused from a sound sleep. It took a moment to place his surroundings. The sun streamed through the open balcony sliding door and the curtain drifted lazily in the breeze. He glanced at his watch as he sat up. Nearly 10 o'clock. There was the smell of hot coffee and he realized he was hungry and hadn't eaten since lunch the day before. By the couch was a room service cart with coffee and danish. He half dressed, then helped himself.

I can't believe I was so stupid. Yet even as he considered the night, he felt a passion for Mali that he had known years ago. Maybe certain people really are just meant for each other. I would have chosen Lani to go through this life with. Lani. A wave of guilt washed over him. She would never have even considered sexual relations before marriage. What would she think of this? What opposites. Lani who was pure, honest, loving, giving to all with no thought for herself. Mali, a border-line schizophrenic, junkie, self-centered, ego manic. Yet I was drawn back to her like a magnet. What do I do now? Get off this case. How? Do I just walk away? Tell her what and who I am and what I know?

He took a sip of coffee. It was good, the nutty aroma filled his head and he tried to clear his mind. What do I really know? Is Mali a victim or a co-conspirator? She is at the very least into a drug habit. That could be dealt with later. Get her cleaned up--then what? Do I give up my life and chase her across the continents for the next umteen years? Or do I expect her to become the model wife with a houseful of little kids and dirty laundry? Neither of those scenarios seemed likely. He considered the night before and his feelings, not sure what to believe about himself. He would not ever have imagined he could become so intimately involved with her again. The old pain of rejection had been etched deeply upon his life for years--could it have really been so totally wiped away in one night? Had it ever existed? There is no future for us. Keep my mind on the job. The drugs. Where did they come from? How did Alf get them in? What does he plan to do with them? I could find them without problem. It's taking out Alf and Sanders together that will be the trick. And what of Mali? What of Mali.

He bit into a cheese danish. Mali sneezed twice in the bath and the flavor went out of the food. She'd just snorted her morning fix. The romance and charm was broken.

The bath door opened and she appeared in a lovely mint green sleeveless top and white shorts. She gazed at him. For some unexplainable reason, he felt suddenly embarrassed to be standing there bare chested with a danish in hand. She smiled and skipped giddily across the floor. "Isn't it a beautiful morning?"

He smiled slightly. "It's fine, Mali."

"Don't you wish we could stay here forever?" She ran a hand across his chest. Her finger hesitated a moment over the peculiar starburst scar over his sternum. For a moment, he thought she would ask about it and hoped she wouldn't. "We did it," she said instead, hugging him.

"We did?"

"We turned back time! It is all ours again!" She giggled. "You'll come with me now, right? There isn't anything for you here that could replace me, is there?"

He broke the embrace gently and turned to pick up his shirt. "Look, Mali, about last night-"

"Oh, hush, Danno, don't go and say something to spoil it. Don't tell me you have a fiancée hiding around somewhere."

"Nothing like that," he replied quietly.

"Good." As if that concluded the conversation, she raced around the room like a school child, threw open the curtains to the balcony and stood out upon it like a stage. "The world's at my feet! Tonight will belong to me!" She raised her arms towards the morning breeze. Her face was flushed with excitement--and cocaine.

He finished dressing, careful not to be noticed tucking the pistol he'd wrapped in his shirt back behind him in his belt. "I'd better go, Mali."

She spun in surprise. "Go? Go where? Just like that?"

"Your buddies are going to wonder where I am."

"I don't care; why should you?"

"I don't care about them. I care about you--now more than ever. They're bad business. I don't trust them. And I don't like seeing you strung out on cocaine. If you are serious about us being together prove it. Drop them and get enrolled in a drug rehab program. I will be there for you. I'll help you."

She laughed at him, gesturing to his coffee. "You get your morning fix, why shouldn't I?" She slapped her hand on her leg in sudden irritation. "You're just like Alf, just like him. One night and possessive as hell."

"This has nothing to do with being possessive. I'm interested in your future. Alf and Randall are headed for trouble and so are you unless you leave them right now. They will get caught. You know that. And when they tell the cops they're buying for you, what then? If they were your real friends they'd see you got help, not drugs."

She stood, hands on hips, face now flushed with anger. "My dear straight arrow, Danno. Out on bail for drug possession and still you sound like the white knight. You didn't squeal on Alf and Randall. I thought you might have changed a bit, but you haven't. You need to be a little more flexible. You need a nice little drug habit--help you unwind a bit."

He didn't answer for a moment. He, too, was realizing things hadn't really changed. Mali would never be what he wished. If he had been about to share the truth with her, he was thinking better of it now. Could it be she is in on this with them? He dismissed it. They are using her drug habit to hide what they do. Not even Mali would ever smuggle drugs. Didn't she do that commercial last year telling kids about the dangers of drugs? He couldn't look her in the eye, if he did he knew she would know something was happening. "I'd better go get some work done."

Mali was not accustomed to being put off. Her once loving eyes blazed with fury. Warmth a gaiety faded from her face. "You need to see the real world, Danny. I am a real person with big things happening. You couldn't possibly understand the pressure. Don't you judge me! I gave you a chance to be with me. I asked you. I've never asked that of anyone else!" She snatched up her purse. She yanked out a dry cleaning slip. "Well, 'go'fer,' know where the Sparking Cleaners is on Makapau? I left two dresses there yesterday. Get 'em to my dressing room."

--------------------------------------

Danny met Duke at the prearranged spot on a bench of a bus stop. Sitting side by side, Duke with newspaper spread across his knees, they were quiet for a moment.

"Heard you had a wild night," Duke remarked.

Danny looked over at him in shocked surprise. God, has he been tailing me?

"I meant at the police station," Duke added, but instantly concluded the truth. "Watch yourself, Bruddah."

He stared down at the pavement instead of at Duke. "I'm pretty sure they're going to transfer the drugs tonight. Alf's been nervous as a cat all day. I overheard his comment to Randall about being relieved after tonight was over."

"Well, the drugs are drying up on the street. Word is The Colonel flushed out his competition and is now going to drive prices up," Duke supplied. "How does the lady fit into this?"

He never lifted his gaze. "I don't know for sure. I don't think she knows, but she is using."

Duke gave no response for what seemed an eternity. "Shall I tell Steve to pull you out?"

He shook his head. "I haven't gotten the drugs yet. Maybe I can prove she's innocent."

"Bad deal, Danny," Duke sympathized, "this may do in her career."

Danny recalled how Mali had told him that the cheering audience meant everything to her and she could never give it up. "Meet you at 8:00. You know where."

Duke did not watch him leave, he kept his eyes on the newsprint, but he wished Steve had chosen someone other than Danny.

----------------------

McGarrett had waited patiently for action that did not come. Duke gave his report, what there was of it, and could see Steve was less than pleased. "It'll be all right," Steve finally told him.

Duke could not help but notice it sounded more like a wish than a promise. "Kimo reports there's not been anything going on at Sanders; he hasn't even could out to pick up his daily paper."

Steve cracked a smile at that. "He called over here complaining that all he'd observed was a fly doing pushups on the windshield."

Duke gave no response. Kimo totally lacked a sense of humor, so he doubted that had been the wording of the complaint. "I've got records on one of those managers off the telex," Duke announced. "Randall Higgens, alias Rudolph Higgens, alias Randolph Waites." He handed Steve the blow-up of Randall's driver's licence photo.

Steve noted silently that it came from Phoenix.

"Minor but consistent rap sheet over the last ten years. Possession of narcotics twice. Drunk and disorderly once. DWI once. And this one." He showed the report.

"Illegal sale of a controlled substance," Steve read.

"Marijuana. They let him go because it was such a small quantity."

"He may be moving up," Steve remarked offhandedly. He moved to the table where the blue print to the band shell was laid out. "I want plain clothes people at all exits, mixed in with the crowd. Make sure they all know the two managers photos." He handed back the glossies of Alf and Randall. He circled the delivery area behind the shell with his finger. "Takes a lot of guts to schedule a drug deal to go down in front of six thousand people. Maybe that's what makes it so perfect."

------------------------------------

The atmosphere began to buzz with excitement. Wires were strung, scaffolding secured, lights tested and flashed. Some of the employees of the snack bars were arriving to warm up their grills. At five o'clock an armored car carrying cash for the concessions arrived. At 6:00 some patrons sat in their cars in the outer parking lot waiting. Scalpers moved quietly from car to car. Danny had been kept busy most of the day and under close observation by either Randall or Alf. If his apparent display as an unwilling snitch in HPD had given them confidence in him, it did not show. Danny had not seen Mali most of the day. She had locked herself in to her dressing room for the last several hours. A band member commented that was normal for her. Perhaps, but he was unhappy that their last exchange had been so unpleasant. He wished so much to spare her from what would fall on her associates. If he couldn't get her out, she'd be swept away with them, guilty by association. If he could only catch Alf and Randall in the act he could perhaps protect her. That would mean finding the stash of drugs and staking out the right spot. He had to get off by himself. At seven thirty, the gates opened and Mali's admirers began to stream in. The sun was dipping low, shadows lengthened. Danny had only half an hour to report by to Duke. He continued rolling wire as he glanced at Randall, less than twenty yards away from him. I've got to slip away from this guy.

Shelby, Sander's driver, entered the lot and made his way through the throngs of people to a security guard. "I have to see Alf Georgson or Randall Higgens."

"Who?" the guard murmured, disinterestedly.

"Mali Kanae's managers. I've got an important message."

Shelby glanced at his watch. Thirty minutes to show time.

The guard hesitated, then spoke into his radio.

Danny noticed Randall speak into his radio, then, casting a glance back towards him once, turn and disappear into the enlarging crowd. Danny dropped the coils of wire on the spot and dashed towards the storage area to the rear of the shell.

Randall recognized Shelby as he approached the gate. Glancing quickly around, he took Shelby by the arm and they ducked inside the door of a custodial closet.

"Why do you need to bug me now?" Randall snapped impatiently, kicking an empty mop bucket.. ""I'm not supposed to see you till eight."

Shelby wasted no time. "That beach-boy: he's a cop."

Randall froze. "Oh, man." He also was aware he'd just left Danny on his own at the worst possible moment.

"And not just any cop--a Five-O cop," Shelby continued. "That's the state's top. You don't mess with these guys. Tell your boss lady the deal's off. Sanders doesn't want your goods."

"You can't do that!" Randall snarled.

"Sanders is throwin' away all he's invested on the streets."

Shelby shook his head. "He's out. End of discussion. He didn't even want me to come back here, but---I thought I owed it to you."

"Why would you owe me something?" Randall sneered. "What the hell do we do with six million in cocaine?"

"Shut up, man," Shelby hissed, glancing around even though they were inside a closet. "You solve your personnel problems. I'll see what I can do. Meet you back here at 8:30."

Randall looked hopeful. "You've got another buyer?"

He shrugged. "Maybe. Haven't got much time. It's almost certain to be less than Sanders."

Randall jutted his jaw out. "I know this scam. Sanders is gonna cheat us."

Shelby smiled. "Your boss lady goofed. Risks go up, prices go down. Take it or leave it."

Cursing, Randall stormed away in search of Alf.

-----------------------------------------------------

The sounds of thousands of fans in the shell were muffled through the cinderblock and concrete that divided the storage area away from the performance side of the shell. Danny had opened the three of the large sound crates on wheels with no luck. He rummaged through the contents; tangled cords and cables mixed with frayed electrical wire and a few small 3" and 5" speakers. Running out of time, he warned himself, not even wanting to take time to check his watch. He stood up, stuffing the contents haphazardly back into the crate. He glanced at the six crates remaining and did a mental "eany-meany-miney-moe." He took hold of an electrical box. It was locked. Encouraged since the rest had been open, he pried the simple lock off with his penknife and threw back the lid. It was empty except for one orphan light fixture. Half way down, was a false wooden bottom. He tapped it, then used the penknife to gently pry it up. Shining white plastic packages of cocaine glimmered in the faint light. If pure, it was easily valued over 12 million after cutting. Although he'd known this would be the find, he was stunned. He felt the thrill of the find, the bust pending, "the bad guys gonna lose," but at the same time, the pit of his stomach twisted with fear for Mali. He lowered the false bottom back into place.

"Looks sort of pretty, doesn't it?" Randall said suddenly.

Danny spun to face him.

"Surprise, surprise, surprise," Randall chuckled. "So, the beach boy isn't a beach boy after all."

"It's over, Randall," Danny announced quietly.

"You think so?" Randall grinned.

There was a sudden motion and Alf, who'd been in the dark on the other side stepped forward, a coax cable in hand.

Outnumbered and certain his cover was blown, Danny took his only option and made a start for his weapon, but in a sudden lunge, Alf had the cable taut around Danny's neck.

"Check him, Randall," he ordered.

Randall found the gun instantly. "Well, well," he smiled, turning it over in his hands. "What a clever toy."

Alf tightened the cable as Danny gasped for breath. Blood thundered in his ears and his face throbbed with each heart beat.

"You listen, cop," Alf muttered in his ear. "There's a lot of people out there. No doubt some of them are your friends. We're gonna take a nice leisurely stroll to see Mali. No quick moves. Randall here wouldn't think twice about shooting you in the back." He released the cable.

Danny breathed deeply, rapidly, rubbing his hand against his neck where a deep red welt had already sprung up. "Why not just kill me now?" he panted, afraid of them dragging Mali into this mess. "Look, leave her out of this."

"Last time we got creative with you, Mali nearly nailed me," Alf growled.

He glanced up, question on his face. What does that mean?

"Move."

-------------------------------------

Steve sat in his car in the parking lot. The area was rapidly filling with cars and people of all sorts. It was 8:00 on the dot. He picked up the hip radio. "Duke?"

"Hey, Steve," his voice came back. "Nothing yet."

He turned back to the car phone. "Central, get me Kimo Carew."

"Carew." His voice responded. He sounded bored and disgusted.

"Kimo, what's Sanders up to?"

Not a damned thing and you cut me out of the biggest deal to hit this island since I got here. But he said: "Not much, Steve. Seems to be having a barbecue for friends." His reply came from the eastern slope of Sanders' estate.

"Watch him close."

"Will do." Yeah, watch him break into those lobsters while I'm munching peanuts and drinking warm Coke.

Steve cut the line to him. He went back to the other radio. "Kono?"

"Everything quiet, Steve," he replied from his station near the main gate.

"Saw that guy, Higgens, talkin' with a haole, but couldn't get the conversation. He was sure mad though."

"Keep looking." He got out of the car, radio under his jacket and blended in with the crowd.

------------------------------

Mali was at her mirror completing her exaggerated makeup when Alf, Randall, and Danny entered. "What's all this?" she snapped, not taking her eyes off the mirror. "It's ten minutes to curtain. I need some peace and quiet."

"We've got trouble," Alf stated, sternly.

She giggled, not looking away from her mirror. "You've always got trouble." She leaned forward, painting on her eyeliner.

He tossed Danny's ID to her dressing table.

"What's th-" She stopped, staring at it. "My God," she whispered. The shock quickly turned into anger. "You liar!" She spun around and screamed at Danny. "You cheating liar! How could you betray me like this!"

Mali, if ever you believed me, this is the moment. Don't go with these guys. Get up and call that security guard in here. Only you can save us. "I'm not the one who's betraying you, Mali," he replied calmly, "it's these guys who are using you for their gain."

"You think they're using me?" she snapped hotly.

"Look at you! It's the drugs that are destroying you and your music! All of it!" he shouted intently, emotion overriding his attempt to be in control. "These two are working out drug deals with Sanders. They've been smuggling drugs in the equipment cases! They're using your tour to do it! It's still not too late to walk away. If you don't, you'll fall with them."

She stared at him, then, much to his shock, burst into laughter. "You really don't get it, do you? She laughed again, harder. "Five-O, huh? A little more successful than you let on."

He was stunned beyond reacting. No, this cannot be for real. No.

She jabbed a finger in his face. "This is my big chance to make it and you won't spoil it! You know what this is? Twenty years ago revisited." She tossed her hair brush down. "You haven't changed a bit, Danno. But I have. This time, I win. I have eighty kilos of cocaine in a box that's gonna make me rich beyond your biggest dream. You won't stop me now."

Randall spoke up. "Sanders canceled the deal."

"What!" She spun. "He can't do that."

"He did. His man'll be back at 8:30 with a new offer."

"This is your doing." She snarled at Danny. "Well, your narcissistic bleeding heart is your undoing!"

He stood silent, the reality of Mali's involvement slowly, painfully, sinking in.

She turned away. "I've gotta get out there. It's time."

"Mali, what do you want me to do with him?" Alf asked.

She glanced back at Danny with a look of contempt. "Get rid of him. I don't care how." She slammed the door behind her. Outside, her look broke, melting into sorrow. She'd hoped to recapture her youth and Danny had been part of that dream. How dangerous it had been to hang onto half of a love for those years. She'd barely known it for what it was. How could he do this to me? She tried to fan the flame of hatred desperately. The cheering crowd could be heard, but this time it did not touch her soul. Breathing deeply, she forced all her feelings, those of love, of hate, away from her thoughts. Biting her lip, she headed for the stage.

------------------------------

In the dressing room, Randall snapped his gum and grinned. "Well, Alf?" He pulled out Danny's gun. Alf pinned Danny's arms back. Breaking the large man's grip would be impossible. Alf hesitated. As much as he disliked Williams, he was not pleased with the thought of killing another man. The image of the grotesquely contorted body of the dead Texas Ranger still haunted his memory. He did not want to bare the guilt of another murder. Randall, you told us nobody would get hurt. He wondered if there could be another way.

"Wait a minute," Danny said hurriedly, as if reading Alf's thoughts, "I wouldn't use that gun if I were you."

"Oh no?" Randall placed the gun barrel against Danny's head between his eyes. "Don't wanna die by your own gun? Wonder what it'll feel like, Beach-boy? Will you feel the bullet split your skull and smash into your brain? Or maybe feel just nothing." He chewed his gum and chuckled.

"You ever seen someone shot in the head pointblank?" Danny asked, looking Randall in the eye. There was a moment's silence. "Sort of like dropping a watermelon. Make a big mess in here. Leave lots of evidence."

Randall hesitated, glancing at Alf. "What do you think?"

Danny could feel Alf's grip lessening. "I don't know. What alternatives do we have?" He paused, then said to Danny: "I don't suppose it's possible to cut you in for a million dollars. You just keep quiet and disappear from Mali's life forever."

"No chance," Danny replied. "Your best bet is to turn state's evidence and see if the DA will give you a deal."

"That doesn't seem too rewarding," Randall scoffed.

"You'll be alive. Kill me and you won't be for long."

Randall gave a laugh. "For a little guy he sure talks big."

"Just think about this," Danny argued. "You whacked a cop in Houston--Five-O knows that. Now you kill me. Where will you go? You won't make it off this island before you get arrested. There's no way out."

Alf shifted his feet nervously. "Randall?"

He'd spotted Mali's cosmetic bag and a big grin of an idea suddenly lit up his face. He scooped up the plastic bag of white powder. "Hey, Alf. I got us an answer. This cop got himself busted pushing yesterday. Today he happens to snort up a bit--who'll believe him then? No murder charges. No cops gunning for us. Maybe he'll take the fall for this. They can suspect all they want, but they won't be able to prove a thing."

Alf grinned. And we don't had to kill someone either. We make it out of this one and I'll quit. I'll take my cut, go back to school and become an unknown director at some high school teaching marching band. I've had enough of this. "I like it, Randall. You always think of something."

"Yeah, I do, don't I?"

---------------------

The darkened stage suddenly exploded with the light centered on the slender form of Mali, a huge pink, purple, and yellow lei festooned about her shoulders. A roar of cheering and applause erupted from the crowd. "Aloha ohana!" Again the crowd roared. "Aloha kama'aina!" New cheers. "Aloha Hawaii!" She burst into a loud Hawaiian folk tune about a bird of paradise, her body dancing and weaving to and fro.

Steve watched for a minute, remaining aloof from the wild exuberance of Mali's fans. "Duke," he said into the radio.

"Yo, Steve. He hasn't shown yet," Duke answered, knowing what the question would be. He thumbed through the program, glanced at the show for a minute, trying not to look out of place. He was worried. Danny was five minutes late.

--------------------

Randall gently tapped the crystallized powder out of the folded slip of paper into a drinking straw. "You know," he grinned at Danny, "you really shouldn't knock what you haven't tried." The introductory music from the stage filtered down through the walls. "I bet you thought Mali was the same little school girl, didn't you? Did it break your heart, beach-boy? Old girl friend is a drug dealer. Kind of gets you right in the heart, huh?"

Danny chose not to argue. There wouldn't be much point. He was trying to decide what his chances would be once Randall loaded him up on cocaine. He'd read about the effects, so suspected he was ill-prepared for what he would experience. Hopefully I will stay alive. He mentally decided right now that no matter what, he would make his way to the his rendezvous with Duke and get help. It was better than a lead slug in the cerebellum.

Alf pinned Danny's arm back tighter as Randall came over, the drinking straw in his hand. Danny began to struggle and Alf punched him hard in the kidney. He sank to the floor where Alf pinned him flat, knee in his back. He reached down and grabbed Danny's hair, pulling his head back, hyper-flexing his neck. "One more move and I'll break your neck," he growled.

Randall knelt before them, slipped the straw into Danny's right nostril and blew sharply. Danny winced as the cocaine stung his nose and sinus. Alf released his head and waited.

Danny felt frozen in time, wondering what would happen. He was a bit surprised when it seemed that nothing happened. Maybe it was a mistake. A minute passed and he began to feel better about this. No wild thoughts, no crazy imaging. These guys won't beat me after all.

Alf could feel Danny starting to relax under his grip. He got up, leaving Danny on the floor. Danny rolled to his back and lay there gazing up at them.

"Starting to feel better now, aren't you?" Alf said with a grin.

He didn't respond. I can just play stupid here. It's going to be all right. He felt unexplainably happy, almost to the point of giddy. The music had gotten louder.

Alf glanced at Randall. "What time is it?"

"Almost 8:30. Time to talk with Sanders' man."

"What are we gonna do with him?" Alf toed Danny's leg.

Randall handed Alf a silver belt of Mali's. "Just tie him up a little. He's not gonna hurt anybody. We'd just better get back here before intermission so Mali doesn't find him."

Danny calmly lay there letting Alf tie his wrist. This is okay. I can handle this. They can't do anything to me anymore.

Alf hesitated to leave. "Will he take off?"

They went out and shut the door behind them. Randall gave a laugh. "He'd have to untie himself. Even if he did get out, he won't be much good to anybody. He got a pretty big fix."

"How big?" Alf asked suddenly, in alarm. Randall only laughed. "Did you overdose him?" "Sure I did."

Alf seemed displeased. "I thought we weren't gonna kill him."

"Naw, I never said that. Just I wasn't gonna shoot him. This is a perfect crime, Alf. We can get the body and dump it down some field somewhere," Randall explained. "No coroner's ever gonna prove he didn't do it himself."

As soon as the door closed, Danny began to worm his way against the leather belt. I can do this. Those guys are mine. He'd remembered to flex his wrists, so the belt was already loose when he relaxed. Within five minutes, he was free of it. He felt a strange buzz and tingling in his limbs. I guess I have to expect a little something. He sat down on the couch, listening to the music. I have to go. I have to catch Alf and Randall--in just a minute.

-----------------------------------

Mali mellowed into a quiet lovely tune, then charged into her favorite explosive piece. She played her audience like a fine-tuned instrument and they were enraptured. They stormed, they whistled, they screamed with adoration yet McGarrett found no joy except to admire her showmanship. He was beginning to be anxious at Duke's silence. It was 8:30. Thirty minutes late.

Duke's concerned voice crackled: "Want me to circulate?"

"Stay put. Kono?"

"Yeah, Steve?"

"Work your way around to the stage area. Danno hasn't shown."

"Sure, Steve."

"And Kono--keep a low profile, let's not scare anybody off."

----------------------------------

Alf and Randall met Shelby near the storage room where the drugs were hidden. "I've got another buyer," Shelby announced. "Four million."

"Peanuts!" Randall fumed.

Shelby shrugged and started away. "Suit yourself."

"No, wait," Alf called after him.

"No dialogue. Take it or leave it."

"All right. All right," Alf said trying to pacify Randall.

"No, man, this is a rip off!" Randall protested.

"What choice do we have? You wanna try to sell it on the street yourself? In twenty-four hours? We can't get it back outta here. This is all we got."

"Just tell me one thing--is Sanders in on this?"

Shelby gave a broad smile. "Does it matter?"

"Yes, man, it does," Randall snarled.

He spread his hands and shrugged. "I'm starting my own business. Now, you wanna sell your goods or talk?"

Alf and Randall exchanged looks. "You got the money on you?" Randall asked.

Shelby snorted. "You take me or some kind of ass? You get your stuff ready, I'll be back in ten minutes."

-------------------------------

Danny felt the initial euphoria passing like a slowly receding wave. I have to go. It's the drugs that are slowing me down here. His hands tingled, muscles twitched. He stumbled to his feet. His head buzzed. He needed to get out--to walk off this strangeness. He couldn't concentrate. The music he could hear seemed to intensify, catch him up and lift him away. He tried to clear his head--he could hear his heart pounding rapidly. He pulled hard on the dressing room door, fumbled with the knob and finally got it open. The evening breeze was invigorating. He stumbled outside. He wanted to run, stretch his tingling muscles, but he couldn't. In trying, he fell on his face. I have to stop the drug deal. He did not recall his earlier decision to seek help. He knew he could do this. They would not expect him. He would stop them. He stumbled and staggered his way back to the storage area.

-------------------------------

Mali finished her sixth piece, not disappointing her audience. They cheered, kindled hundreds of matches and cigarette lighters that flickered like stars in the night. She broke the mood and began a quiet, painful ballad about a love betrayed. Her voice almost broke with emotion. The song mournfully droned on, telling of a sorrowful, permanent ending of a lifelong friendship. Mali wished she'd skipped the piece. The emotions were straining to leap out of her, engulf her and burn her alive. The images of a lifetime exploding upon her memory--two children chasing crabs on the beach; drinking lemonade; sweet, romantic nights of adolescence. What had she done? She struggled through the piece, just praying to make it through and get onto the next song. Almost time for intermission. She needed to put all of this behind her. She'd never return to Hawaii again.

The piece ended. There was total silence, as if the crowd's heart was breaking with hers. But only for a split moment--she pushed her way into a new ballad on an upbeat theme. But McGarrett was aware of what had transpired. No simple love song had it been. In sudden revelation, he put the pieces together as he grabbed his radio. "Duke! Kono!"

"Yeah, Steve," Duke's response was instant.

"Move. Find those two managers and hold them. Duke, check the dressing rooms! Kono, get down to that storage area!"

--------------------------------

The battered panel truck pulled up to the door of the storage room and Shelby leapt out. Randall met him at the door and they walked back into the store room where Alf waited with the crate. Picking up one of the white packets at random, Shelby opened one end and tested the contents against the tip of his tongue. He nodded. "Good stuff, Randall. Help me get it loaded."

Moving the 80 packages took a few minutes, but when it was completed, Shelby reached into his jacket pocket and handed a thick envelope over to Alf. "Don't spend it all in one place." He walked over and got into the van.

Alf fingered the envelope and grinned. "Four million dollars doesn't weigh a lot."

Randall shook his head. "Only you could get swindled and be happy about it."

In the shadows, Danny had arrived at the corner in the shadows just in time to see the money exchange hands. All I have to do is just arrest them. Before he could step forward, there was a shout.

"Hold it!" Kono stepped into the light, gun extended. "Hands up--please."

Shelby glanced into the side mirror, spotted Kono, then gunned the engine. Tires screamed and expelled gray smoke as the vehicle tore across the pavement towards the exit.

Danny, still in the shadow and unnoticed by any of them, turned around to the blue jag that sat less than ten feet away. He jumped over the door, popping the keys out of the visor, and moments later, roared out of the lot after the van.

Kono was yelling over the radio for Steve and backup when the jag flew past so quickly he couldn't see the driver. "I need black and white to intercept a 1967 white chevy van headed south on route 92. And a blue 1980 jag may be involved, too." He kept the gun leveled on Alf and Randall.

Even as Steve was receiving the call from Kono another came in from Duke.

"Steve you'd better get over here to Miss Kanae's dressing room right now."

"Kono," Steve radioed him. "Is your back up there?"

"Sure is, Boss," he replied as the uniformed officer joined him.

"Then bring Georgson and Higgins to Miss Kanae's room."

"Sure thing, Boss." Sirens screamed by on the highway as the black and whites sought to overtake the van. Kono hoped they'd succeed, but the guy had a big head start.

-------------------------------

Danny could see the van ahead as it wormed its way through the Saturday night traffic. The engine of the little sports car throbbed beneath him as he tried to close the distance. He had no thoughts of danger to himself or others as he ran through two red lights sending other cars careening out of the way. The van was closer. They were almost on the edge of town. He gunned the accelerator again. His head throbbed, sweat was pour off him and saturating his shirt. He suddenly felt very ill. He lost control momentarily and the jag weaved to the sidewalk, striking a large postal box and sending it flying through a shop window, letters scattering across the pavement. He yanked control back, narrowly missing a phone pole. Gotta catch that van.

Shelby was in a hurry to get some distance between himself and Waikiki band shell. He was unaware of the pursuer and was feeling a bit pleased with himself that he'd chanced to make this buy. He'd stolen the funds off Sanders' books, but felt confident he'd get it replaced in less than a day when the goods hit the street. His first major investment. His future looked bright. He gasped in shock as a small blue convertible cut in front of him. He slammed on the brakes. The little car lost control as he struck it broad side. The heavier van fishtailed to the side, hitting two more cars before it flipped. Had Shelby been wearing a seatbelt, he might have been spared but he wasn't. He died on impact with the road. The rear doors popped open, plastic kilos of cocaine spilled out onto the roadway. The squad cars arrived on the scene, sirens still blaring and rescue teams were summoned.

Upon entering the dressing room, Alf looked around quickly, surprised to see Williams gone.

"Looking for something?" Duke asked. "I've already radioed Che." He handed Danny's gun and ID to McGarrett.

"Where's Williams?" Steve demanded.

"I don't know," Alf answered truthfully.

McGarrett looked at him closely, then Randall. "You gentlemen think this is some kind of a game? You are in serious trouble here."

"You got nothing on us," Randall said confidently. "That money is investments and ticket receipts. I dare you to prove otherside."

Duke sucked in his breath and lifted his eyebrows. There is one foolish young man.

"You dare me?" Steve said with an ominous tone. "Your equipment is all impounded. Forensics will go through everything with a fine tooth comb--starting with this." He pointed to the small bag of cocaine on the dressing table.

Randall shook his head. "You planted that stuff."

It was all Steve could to do keep from reaching out and strangling the skinny wise guy. "Okay, Higgens, you have a colorful past. Was this whole thing one of your schemes? Smuggle drugs in what? Packing crates? My guess is Sanders was giving a fair price--that is until he made Williams for you. Am I right so far?"

Randall didn't answer.

Kono was pushing the drug paraphernalia around the dressing table with a pencil. "Whose fingerprints do you suppose is on this stuff?" he added.

There were footsteps as Che Fong came to the door, attaché in hand. He went to the table and checked the bagged cocaine first.

"So," McGarrett paced the floor. "What's next?"

Randall shrugged. "Your story, man."

"Where's Williams, Higgens?" he asked, trying to control his temper.

He spread his hands. "He'll probably turn up. You hear he got busted yesterday? Maybe he got stoned or something. You just can't trust nobody today."

Che turned from his chemistry set. "Cocaine, pure, uncut."

Randall glanced at Alf who was beginning to look nervous.

Duke caught it first. "You doped him up, didn't you?"

They didn't respond.

But Steve saw the whole picture. "Did you OD him, Higgens?"

"All fiction, Cop," Randall commented, but he was sweating heavily. "I don't know nothing."

It was Alf who cracked. "I didn't wanna kill him. I just wanted him outta the way!"

"Shut up, man!" Randall yelled.

"Where is he?" Steve demanded.

"I'm trying to tell you," Alf pleaded. "We left him here. I don't know where he is."

McGarrett turned to Duke. "Get everyone looking for him. He may have made it out of here, but he won't be on his feet for long."

"Steve there's a hell of a lot of people out there."

An officer burst through the door. "Mr. McGarrett, there's just been a four car pileup on Rte 92. The van and the jag we were after are both involved. Fire department wants you right now."

-------------------------------------

Firetrucks, ambulances, and broken automobiles were scattered all over a fifty yard stretch of highway. Night in this small world had been turned to day by spot lights and headlamps. The fire chief went to meet Steve on his arrival. Kimo's black car pulled up, blue light flashing.

The fire chief pointed to the head of the scene. "Steve, the van of dope's back this way." "Kimo, check it out," he ordered and Kimo started away.

"The Jag is over here. The driver is one of your officers," the chief explained. "Right there." He pointed to a cluster of paramedics, then moved off towards a fireman waiting for him with a report.

"Two minor injuries, one major, one fatality," Steve heard the man say.

He made his way to the group of medics around a stetcher the chief had indicated.

Danny spotted him from where he lay. "Steve," he gasped. "We got them."

"McGarrett, Five-O." Steve showed his badge to the men. Previous experience had shown him that EMTs were rarely impressed with credentials. He could make his own assessment. Danny was breathing unnaturally rapidly, sweating heavily. Steve bent close to the stretcher. "Danno?"

"Steve?" His eyes opened. The pupils were so dilated they nearly obscured the blue iris. "Steve." A tremor twitched through his extremities.

"Hold still, man," the paramedic told him. "Ease up here."

"Gotta get up," he murmured.

"Danno." Steve placed a hand on his shoulder. "What happened?"

"Steve." He tried to get up again, but McGarrett pushed him back.

"Danno, hold it together. Tell me what happened?"

He was breathing harder. One paramedic put a oxygen mask over Danny's face. "Slow your breathing, pal. It's okay. Could he have a head injury?" he asked his partner.

"This looks like overdose symptoms."

"It is an overdose," McGarrett stated. "A murder attempt with a deliberate OD."

"Nice friends. If the accident doesn't get him, the OD will." He looked up at Steve for the first time. "Well, we'd better get him downtown or he'll go into cardiovascular collapse right here."

"Just let me have a minute," Steve insisted. "Danno, what can you tell me?"

Dan looked towards McGarrett, eyes wide. "Help me," he mumbled.

"Danno, who's responsible? Higgens and Georgson?"

"Mali," he uttered, gasping for breath.

"Danno," he gripped his shoulder, "what about Mali?"

His gaze was becoming stuporous, the sweat soaking his clothing, running down his face. "Her deal," he finally murmured.

Steve sat back on his heels. Of course, it had to be. "Are you sure?"

He didn't respond as the paramedics moved back in with the oxygen. "I need to get him moving now or he's gonna crash," the medic stated firmly.

McGarrett stepped back as they lifted the stretcher into the ambulance.

Kimo came over, picking his way through broken glass and chrome. Together, they headed towards the van. "Well?" he asked.

Steve squinted at the van that still lay on its side in the center lane. The cocaine was spilled about like snow; two shotgun armed officers standing guard. Shelby's body could be seen crushed up against the windshield. "Danno said Mali's in on the drug deal, but we're going to need more than that. Our case on Higgens and Georgson is weak. We need iron-clad proof tying them to the dope--and tying her to them. Right now all we've got is Danno's word."

"The word of a guy half-stoned out of his mind won't go far," Kimo agreed, seeing the situation.

McGarrett paused in thought. "Duke's processing the two managers. Go back and keep an eye on Mali. When the concert is over, bring her in. But nothing flashy, okay? Stay away from the press."

----------------------------------

Kimo stood patiently in the wings as Mali whipped her audience into a frenzy during the last song. She was basking in the roar of the crowd, sweat glistened on her brow from the lights and the hot night. She threw kisses to them. "I love you all!" she laughed into the microphone as they applauded again. She gave a wave of victory and exited the stage, her cheeks flushed with the thrill.

As she came by, Kimo took her arm. "Miss Kanae?"

"Who are you?" she snapped angrily. "Give me a break, huh? I'm working, fellah."

"I am too. James Carew, Five-O."

There was a flashing moment of fear on her face quickly exchanged for non-emotion. She looked away back towards the crowd, then to Kimo.

"Come with me, please." He led her to the car.

-----------------------------------

Steve paced the small confine of the interrogation room as Kono stood silently at the door. Seated at the table, in obvious distress was Alf Georgson. Higgens had been useless. A seasoned small-time crook who thought he knew it all, he'd managed to maneuver his way into a murder charge for the Houston cop-killing.

"I never wanted any of this to happen," Alf said, trying to feel his way through the situation. "I watched her start as a nothing and grow into a great star. She just couldn't handle it. It wasn't enough--she wanted more. No matter how much she had, she still wanted more. It was never enough. I love her, McGarrett, I really do. I'll confess to anything, but I won't hurt her."

"She used you."

"Don't you think I know that?!" he wailed. "It doesn't matter. Nothing matters. She's strung me along for ten years while she picked up short-time love affairs time after time. But she always comes back to me. I'm her protection from herself. I won't hurt her."

"What about those she's hurt, Georgson? Don't they count, too? What about that Houston cop?"

"She didn't do that," he said quickly. "She knew nothing about it till it was over. She thought he was a drifter. Randall called--"he stopped. "Damn." He shook his head. "I must not be very good at this. I'm falling into all the traps, huh?"

McGarrett was silent.

Alf heaved a deep breath. "Look, I'll give you what you want on Randall, on Sanders--I'll plead guilty to attempting Williams' murder and killing that Ranger. Just leave Mali alone."

Steve eyed him closely. "Cop killing is a capital crime in Texas. You'd risk death by lethal injection just to protect a girl who doesn't even care about you?"

"She does care. You'll see. She really does." Alf was distraught.

"Can't you see that protecting her is the worst thing you can possibly do? Leaving addicts alone, hoping they'll cure themselves, denying the problem--that's what kills them. Mali's only hope is the truth."

He wrung his hands, shaking his head. "No, man. I won't hurt her."

---------------------------------

It was well after midnight when McGarrett arrived back at his office. He knew Kimo would have been waiting with Mali quite awhile. The hospital report had been good. Hopefully, in a day Danno would be able to give a clear-headed account. As he entered the room he noticed the uniformed policewoman standing near the door. Kimo had thought of everything. He could tell by Mali's posture that she was tense and hostile. In her face he could see how emotionally draining the last day had been. As he took a chair facing her, she hunched forward on the edge of her seat. "Miss Kanae," he said quietly.

"Isn't there a law against keeping me here against my will?" she blurted, angrily.

"Not for forty eight hours."

"Then you have 46 hours and 22 minutes left," she remarked, glancing at her watch.

"Hum," he said quietly. "Have you heard that your managers have been arrested for misuse of a controlled substance and attempted murder?"

"You won't make it stick."

"Oh no? How did Alf come to have four million dollars in cash?"

"I don't know. I was onstage--remember? In front of six thousand witnesses. You're probably one of them."

"Where you were and what you arranged for can be quite different. I know that a deal was made with Sanders to smuggle cocaine into the islands. I know that you had the same arrangement in San Francisco and Houston. I know that your men killed an officer in Houston and how. And I know that you arranged for this whole fiasco. What I don't know is why. You had it all, why did you throw it away on something like this?"

"What would you know," she said icily. "You don't really have anything on me or you wouldn't be talking to me in the middle of the night, right?"

"How about the drugs in your dressing room?" He looked at her closely.

She looked away. "Maybe somebody planted them there."

"Like somebody planted them on Williams?"

"That wasn't my idea! Alf didn't ask-" she shut her mouth.

"But he did ask tonight--didn't he?"

She turned her head angrily away.

"Didn't he!"

"Danno betrayed me!" she shouted. "He didn't give me any choice! He tricked me and used our old friendship to destroy me! There wasn't any choice!"

"Oh, you had a choice, okay," he answered, hotly. "You could have chosen to stay clean and develop a career, but you sold it all for a cheap fix." She didn't say a word. He added, "Alf doesn't have much stomach for this kind of thing. Or Sanders."

"Sanders," she muttered. "Alf snitched on Sanders?"

He didn't answer.

"Alf is a jerk."

"He cares very much for you," McGarrett answered quietly. "Too much. He and Higgens will be going to Texas to stand trial for murder. But you'll stay here."

She glanced away towards the wall, an oath on her lips. "Oh what? Drug possession? I'm a star, I'll do my time in one of those fancy drug clinics. Real tough time. Hey, McGarrett, everybody's got a drug habit."

"Everyone doesn't contract a murder."

She paled slightly. "I don't know anything about a murder."

"You didn't tell Randall and Alf to get rid of Williams? They overdosed Danny on your cocaine tonight, then left him to die in your dressing room."

The color drained from her face.

"You didn't even know what they did with him, did you? And you didn't care."

She stammered, trying to find something to say. She wanted to call McGarrett a liar, continue the fight, but she was drained of energy. "You're making this up," she said weakly.

"We've got the drugs, the finger prints."

"Damn Randall," she murmured. "He said nobody'd get hurt." She wiped a hair from her face, fighting to compose herself. She stared dumbfounded, then sank into a chair and began to weep. "I just wanted to make it really big. I needed the money." She looked back up at him, makeup smeared. "I've lost it all, haven't I?"

"Don't expect me to pity you," he replied. "You had more than most ever dream of, and you threw it and everyone who ever cared about you away like dirt."

She shifted, uneasily.

"Let me tell you what happens now," he said quietly. "I'm going to hold you for drug possession, drug trafficking, and accessory after the fact in a murder, for openers. There will be more. Higgens will decide to save his skin, so I'm sure there will be more."

"Alf will never let him testify against me. And my lawyer isn't here. I can recant everything I've said."

"You can." He paused. "I'll let Williams fill in the details."

"Danno!"

"Yeah." It was his turn to smile. "He's going to be all right."

She covered her face with her hands. Internally torn between relief and grief. Ever so slowly, her emotions and future crumbled and she began to sob.

end