I know it's been forever. I've had this chapter mostly done for a while, but I haven't worked on it in so long. I do intend to finish this story, so thank you all for reviewing.
Chapter Three "Detective Work"
Ashlin walked into the newspaper office as she always did. Only this time, she was met with curious stares. That was to be expected. She reached her desk and set her bag down. Another deep sigh and she sat in her black swivel chair. She turned on her computer and searched her bag for the last SD card from her camera.
"Dawson!" the voice of her editor echoed through the newsroom. She looked up as he approached her desk. "What are you doing here?" he asked, more softly.
"Working," she replied.
"I can see that. I thought I told you to take the week off."
"I'm not doing anything."
"Don't lie to me. I'm sure there's a lot to do around the house and you don't need to be thinking about work now."
Ashlin knew that. She wanted to think about work; it was easier. But he was right. Her mom wouldn't be able to clean up all of Tom's things and make funeral arrangements by herself.
Ashlin nodded and picked up her things. "I'll be in on Monday," she said and left. The drive to her mom's house seemed longer and quieter than ever before. That is until she reached the crime scene and saw all the police officers and caution tape. Her mother's house was only a block from where it happened. As she drove through slowly, she saw a group of detectives standing on the opposite sidewalk. She almost slammed on her brakes. Steve hadn't told her his team was investigating Tom's death. But she kept driving and when she arrived at the house, she asked her mother about it.
Anna nodded slowly as she rocked back and forth in her chair on the porch. "He said he would," she said. "But I hoped he wouldn't."
"Why?" Ashlin asked, sitting on the railing across from Anna.
"It will only make it worse... but Steven always had to know."
Ashlin nodded and they fell silent. She wanted to go back down the street and see what was going on, but she had a feeling she'd only be in the way and she wasn't sure she really wanted to know.
"He came to see me this morning," she finally said.
"That's good," Anna replied. "You two always did get along well."
"Only because I wasn't like his sister."
"Have you heard from Mary Ann?"
"No. Steve said he called her last night but they didn't talk long. It sounds like he hasn't heard from her much either."
Anna only closed her eyes and nodded with the rocking chair.
The two of them sat in silence most of the morning. Many times Ashlin started to say something only to realize there was nothing to say. She swung her legs back and forth as she leaned against the eaves' support. She began to wonder how many more mornings she would have with her mother. Anna was in the later stages of bone cancer. Recovery was not possible at this point.
Thankfully, Ashlin didn't have much more time to think about that because two very different men came walking up to the house.
"What are you doing here?" Steve asked as the two of them stopped on the porch steps.
Ashlin didn't move from her seat. "This is my mom's house. What are you doing here?"
Steve peered around the pillar. "You said you were going to work."
"So did you."
"I am at work and I know for a fact that you don't work here."
Ashlin jumped off the railing and turned to face them. "Well, now that's cleared up, I'm Ashlin, and you are?" Here she turned to Danny and offered her hand.
"Danny Williams," he replied, shaking it and looking mildly confused. "Is she always like this?"
"Always." Steve nodded.
"Why thank you," Ashlin said. "Is anyone interested in some lunch? Good, because I'm starving and I don't like eating alone."
Steve looked over to see that Anna was dozing in her chair. She might be there all day. Then he and Danny followed Ashlin into the house.
"Make yourselves comfortable," Ashlin said, leaving them in the living room. There were boxes half full scattered across the room. The walls were covered in pictures, most of the Dawson family, but there were several McGarretts in there too.
Danny sat in a comfortable chair and watched as Steve surveyed the memories. He assumed Ashlin had taken most of these pictures because the quality of the photography seemed to improve with the ages of the people in the pictures.
Steve stood with his hands on his hips for a long time, staring at the wall of faces. Every once in a while Danny would notice a slight smirk or furrowed brows as Steve looked from picture to picture. When his eyes came to rest on one of himself and Tom in their football uniforms he got a look that Danny hadn't seen before. Steve cleared his throat.
"This was taken right after our first game," he said.
Danny stood and joined him.
"We were the only freshmen who made the varsity team," Steve continued.
"Chin said Tom only played till his junior year," Danny said.
"Yeah. There was a... accident. He couldn't play anymore."
Danny looked over at Steve, curious and sympathetic. "What happened?" he asked softly.
"We went surfing in the middle of the night. There were sharks." Steve looked down avoiding Danny's eyes.
"You got attacked by sharks?"
"Lunch is ready," Ashlin called from the other room.
Danny had a feeling there was more to the story. He had never seen Steve look so guilty.
Lunch was something neither Steve nor Danny had ever seen. Ashlin told them it was something she'd learned to make in Ethiopia.
"So you just travel all over the place taking pictures?" Danny asked as he took a bite. It was spicy, but otherwise fairly normal.
"That's the idea anyway," Ashlin said. "I spent about a year in Africa. Before that I was in Australia for a while."
"Where haven't you been?"
"Europe. China. Siberia... shall I go on?"
"No, please," Steve said. "You've been working at the paper haven't you?"
"Yeah. I get to run around and take pictures of things. It's great fun."
"Sounds like our job," Danny said. "Except with Steve it's run around and shoot things."
"Don't make puns, Danny," Steve said. "It's beneath you."
"Hey, Shakespeare was an expert punster."
"So it's been done."
Ashlin suddenly laughed. Once she started, she found she couldn't stop.
"Did I miss something?" Danny asked.
Ashlin held up one hand as she tried to compose herself. She knew if she didn't stop laughing, she'd start crying. "It's Tom," she finally said. "He was a lot like you."
Steve inhaled sharply as he realized that was true. "I can't believe I didn't notice."
"It's subtle," Ashlin said, "but he would often quote Shakespeare in completely inappropriate contexts... and he and Steve had to disagree about everything."
"Not everything," Steve said. "Besides, Tom would never have worn a tie to work."
"I like the tie."
"It's comforting to know he's like this with all his friends," Danny said, smirking. "And thank you."
"You're welcome," Ashlin said. "Tom might have worn a tie. For fun."
"He would never have been that ridiculous," Steve argued.
"He would have if it annoyed you."
"I think I would have liked this guy," Danny said.
"I should have introduced you," Steve said quickly, pulling out his phone to check the time. "We should get back to work."
Danny gave Steve a curious look and they got up from the table.
"Don't be a stranger," Ashlin said coming around the table and giving Steve a hug.
"I won't," Steve promised.
As he and Danny walked out the front door they heard a voice from the porch.
"Going without even a hello?"
Steve turned to see Anna awake in her rocking chair. "We didn't want to wake you."
"Ah, I sleep all the time." She got up and crossed to where Steve and Danny were standing. "I hope you plan on making a nuisance of yourself around here, Steven."
"He does that all the time," Danny said.
"Mrs. Dawson," Steve said, "this is my partner, Danny Williams."
Anna smiled at Danny and shook his hand. "Are you keeping this boy in line?" she asked.
"I try," Danny said. "He makes it difficult."
"Just call me when he's acting up, and I'll talk some sense into him."
"Okay," Steve said. "We have to go, but I'll be back."