The question, dear reader, is: Do you trust me?
Pau: Finished, ended, destroyed
Chapter 1: You Choose
— H50 —
The manila envelope came in the mail, neatly addressed with a laser-printed label that looked like it belonged to a charity. Detective Danny Williams almost just threw it away, but you didn't become a detective without a wide streak of curiosity.
He pulled out a stiff piece of paper, photo paper he could tell by the texture. The back was facing the flap, so he saw it first: the note that read, "You have two weeks to stop the Blue Skies investigation or …"
When he flipped the paper over, he choked back a cry and felt behind him for a chair because his knees had gone weak. There were two portraits side by side with rifle crosshairs neatly superimposed over the faces. One picture showed his boss Steve McGarrett and the other showed his daughter Grace. Beneath the pictures dark letters read, "You choose."
— H50 —
Thirteen days later …
Paramedics Ab Riley and Margrette Chandler parked their EMS ambulance under a tree across from the Honolulu Police Department. It was a popular lunch spot for paramedics because no one would dare try to jack their drug boxes with so many cops around.
They sat at a picnic table, eating sandwiches and idly watching the comings and goings at HPD.
"There's your friends from Five-0," Chandler commented, nodding at a pair passing on the sidewalk.
Danny Williams was arguing vehemently, but not loudly, with Steve McGarrett. Riley started to call a greeting, but hesitated when a wisp of breeze carried a snatch of conversation to him.
"Steve, the deadline is tomorrow. Please!"
"No, Danny, I can't. Look, it's just a bluff."
"We're talking about my daughter!"
"She'll be fine," Steve said impatiently. "We can protect her."
Danny's shoulders slumped. Riley thought the detective looked like hell and wondered if he'd been getting enough sleep.
When they reached the steps of HPD, Steve paused for a moment to look around. He noticed Riley who raised a hand in greeting. The commander didn't see Danny draw his gun. Shielding the movement with his body, Danny touched the muzzle to Steve's body just below the rib cage and fired.
Blood spurted. Steve dropped. Danny tossed his gun away as cops began to converge with weapons drawn. Danny knelt beside his boss, hands linked behind his head. Wide-eyed and gasping, Steve said his friend's name in disbelief.
"I'm sorry, Steve," Danny said with real regret. "If it's a choice between you and Grace, I've got to choose Grace."
At the sound of the shot, Riley had convulsed violently, sending his lunch onto the ground, to the joy of pigeons and seagulls. He grabbed his kit and ran to the steps, bulling his way to McGarrett's side and ignoring all the drawn weapons. His partner followed.
"Danny?" he said in disbelief.
"He just wouldn't listen, Riley," Danny said sadly as his hands were cuffed behind his back.
Riley applied bandages to the wound. "He's bleeding internally," he told Chandler, as she put an oxygen mask over the injured man's face.
She read off the blood pressure. It was dropping almost faster than she could keep up. She hung an IV, but it didn't help. Steve's eyes closed. His breath grew more and more shallow.
"We're losing him. We've got to get him to the hospital," Riley said.
Willing hands helped the paramedics hoist Steve's limp form onto the stretcher and into the ambulance. Riley stayed with the patient while Chandler took the wheel. She barreled out of the parking lot like an Indy driver. The police officers, including the two holding Danny's arms, watched the ambulance race away, siren screaming. It was far down the street, but still in sight, when the siren cut off and the speed dropped.
Danny sighed and bent his head. He looked at the blood covering the steps and one tear ran down his nose before the officers hustled him inside.
— H50 —
He waited an hour, staring at the wall of the interrogation room, seeing nothing but his personal nightmare.
Internal Affairs officer Sgt. Cage studied him through the two-way mirror. He brushed back his hair in disbelief. Williams killed McGarrett. It seemed impossible, despite all the witnesses. Sure, the two were always arguing; but they had also backed up each other to a ridiculous extent. There was even a rumor that McGarrett lied to federal agents on Williams' behalf. And Williams shot him in cold blood.
But as Cage studied the prisoner, he began to wonder. Williams looked haggard; his clothes seemed baggy, as if he'd recently lost weight. He appeared ill. Maybe he'd snapped from the stress. Mental illness was a sad hazard of a policeman's job. They saw so much suffering, sometimes they couldn't take it. Williams looked like he'd reached the end of his tether.
The IA officer entered the interrogation room.
"Cage," Danny acknowledged him. Cage read him his rights. Danny solemnly waived his right to a lawyer.
"Why Williams? Why kill your friend?"
"I couldn't … He wouldn't listen. He never listened," Danny said hesitantly. "I didn't want to kill him, but he brushed me off — again —and then my gun was in my hand." Danny closed his eyes and shuddered.
"Did you plan to kill him?" Cage asked.
A flash of the feisty Danny showed in his eyes, "If I'd planned to kill him, would I have done it on the steps of HPD?" Then his spirit faded again. He dropped his gaze to the tabletop.
"One of the men heard you say something about your daughter," Cage said.
"Leave her out of it, Cage," Danny said fiercely. "She has nothing to do with this. Isn't it bad enough that her father is a murderer." His voice caught. He hid his face against his shoulder.
Chin Ho Kelly burst into the room, followed by Kono Kalakaua. Chin looked wild, his hair ruffled and his shirt collar twisted. Kono's eyes were wide with shock.
"Kelly!" Cage warned, but Chin only had eyes for his teammate.
"Danny!" he said urgently. "Is it true? You shot Steve?"
Danny refused to meet his eyes. He focused on Cage.
"Sergeant Cage, I admit I shot Steve McGarrett. What more do you need? Do I have to talk to them?" he begged, flicking his eyes at his former friends.
"Danny!" Kono protested.
Cage thought Danny seemed exhausted, ready to drop. He hustled Chin and Kono out of the room.
"Danny, why?" Kono called, as Cage urged her out the door. Danny looked away.
The girl dropped onto a nearby bench and wept into her hands. Chin paced feverishly. Cage thought Chin was a dirty cop who'd escaped punishment and Cage had run afoul of Danny's abrasive personality in another investigation, but right now he felt sorry for all of them.
"Has Williams been sick?" he asked abruptly.
"What?" Chin asked, rubbing his hair into more disorder. Cage patiently repeated his question.
"He's lost weight," Kono said. Her eyes were red. Her face was wet and crumpled in distress, but she spoke calmly. "I don't think he's been sleeping well."
"How long has this been going on?"
The cousins exchanged glances, consulting without words.
"About two weeks," Chin estimated. "Ever since …"
"Danny came in one morning and shut himself in Steve's office. They argued, not like they usually do," Kono said. "They argued and Danny got really angry and …" She hesitated.
"Scared," Chin contributed. "He was scared. Neither of them would tell us what it was about. Danny just said it was personal. After that, he pretty much stopped talking."
"Which is not normal for Williams," Cage said drily.
"Every morning he shut himself in with Steve and they argued some more. I thought Danny was asking Steve for something and Steve wouldn't or couldn't give it to him," Kono said. She rubbed her eyes furiously.
"Do you think he had a breakdown?" Cage asked.
Again the cousins consulted wordlessly.
"He must have," Kono said helplessly. "How could Danny have killed Steve?" Her voice caught. She swallowed hard; then continued quietly. "How could Danny have killed Steve unless he had a breakdown? They were friends," she said plaintively.
Cage looked back at the small, defeated man in the interrogation room.
"I'm going to ask for a psychiatric evaluation," he decided.
"I think you have to," Chin agreed. "Kono, we've got to go. We've got to call the governor before she hears this on the grapevine. We've got to tell her that her task force is pau."
Pau … finished.
— H50 —
While Chin and Kono called the governor, Cage visited the Medical Examiner.
Cage did not have a lot of experience with homicides. He'd come to IA out of fraud and robbery. Most of the Internal Affairs cases involved abuse of power, embezzlement, theft, sexual harassment and/or assault. He'd only investigated one case involving murder. He'd thought it was bad seeing Meka Hanamoa's body burned beyond visual recognition; but when he walked into the autopsy room, he gagged and had to turn away.
Medical Examiner Max Bergman, who, despite his name was a short, pudgy, Japanese man, was humming the 1812 Overture with sound effects when Cage walked in. Max was brilliant and dedicated, but a little odd.
McGarrett's body lay on the table. At least, Cage had to assume it was McGarrett's body. It was hard to tell when the last time you saw the man, he was standing tall and arrogant, and now he was a lump of meat with his chest flayed open in a Y-incision, his face peeled from his skull down to his chin and eyeballs staring out of a bloody skull. The only thing that looked remotely familiar were the sleeve tattoos on the muscular shoulders, and Cage had only seen a fraction of the tattoos before.
Max was using a surgical saw to remove the top of the skull when Cage entered. The sergeant had to call his name three times before Max heard him over the nauseating whine of the saw.
"Ah, Sgt. Cage, isn't it?" Max said pleasantly, shutting off the saw and lifting his face shield.
Cage spoke to the side wall, hardly able to spare Max's gruesome project a glance.
"I'm surprised you've gotten so far on the autopsy," he said.
"Ah, well, the EMTs brought the body here directly," Max said. He frowned disapprovingly. "It was not strictly according to protocol, but EMT Chandler is new and EMT Riley is always deeply distressed by the passing of a patient, all the more so because he knew Commander McGarrett." Max brightened. "Fortunately, I am fully competent to pronounce death, so no real harm done."
"Aren't you … I mean, doesn't it bother you to work on the body? You knew him, too?"
Max tilted his head. He looked mildly confused, as if Cage was speaking Portuguese while he himself spoke Spanish. "I thought the way I could pay proper tribute to Commander McGarrett was to perform a complete autopsy as promptly as possible."
"Why the skull? He was shot in the abdomen."
"True, but the commander apparently hit his head on the ground when he fell. I find signs of cerebral hemorrhage that I wish to document. However, you are correct, cause of death was massive internal hemorrhage from a gunshot wound to the abdomen. The bullet entered beneath the ribcage, ricocheted off the spine and lodged beneath the fourth rib on the left side. The internal damage was severe. I doubt whether even a team of surgeons could have saved him. The bullet is there, in that jar."
Cage took the bullet, glad of an excuse to leave.
"Thank you, doctor," he said, but Max was already lowering his face shield.
Cage left hastily before the rotary saw could get up to speed.
— H50 —
Governor Patricia Jameson was conflicted. Danny Williams had killed the man she'd handpicked to head her task force, the son of her old friend Jack McGarrett. But Williams had served her well up until then. She didn't want to persecute him if he was mentally ill, but she didn't want him to get away with faking mental illness. She personally made arrangements for Danny to be transferred to the island's best psychiatric hospital for evaluation.
Cage was surprised that Danny didn't protest.
Dressed in an orange jumpsuit, seated in his holding cell at HPD, Danny just shrugged. "It doesn't matter."
"I'm a dead man, Cage. In prison, between the cons who hate cops and the guards who hate cop killers, I won't last a year," Danny said frankly, not as if it mattered much. "I might last longer in a psych hospital, I don't know. I don't think I'm crazy, but crazy people don't, do they?"
His blue eyes were clouded with sadness.
"My training officer used to say my temper would be the death of me, but it was the death of Steve, instead."
He dropped his eyes and refused to speak again.
— H50 —
The next afternoon, they loaded Danny into the back of an unmarked, open van with bench seats along the sides. The driver's seat was separated from the cargo area by a heavy metal grille in a diamond pattern. There was a driver up front and a guard in back with a shotgun. Cage steadied Danny as he climbed into the van with his hands cuffed behind him.
"This would be easier with my hands free," Danny said idly.
"The hospital isn't that far. You'll manage," Cage said.
Danny settled himself on the driver's side bench with Cage and the guard opposite. The prisoner found he could get a grip on the back edge of the bench to keep himself from bouncing around as the van set off.
Danny kept his eyes on the front, catching glimpses of the outside world through the grille and the windshield.
About 10 minutes into the trip, he saw a rapid flickering of sunlight. He gripped the back of the bench with both hands and took a deep breath.
An armor piercing bolt smashed through the windshield, imbedding itself in the passenger seat. A gas canister hissed as the driver swerved in shock and ran the van into the curb where it jolted to a halt.
Gas billowed into the van. The driver coughed once and tilted to the side. The guard tried to raise his shotgun, but the weight pulled him over and he nosedived to the floor.
Cage realized Danny was holding his breath and did the same. Their eyes met as Cage clawed for his weapon. Danny smiled merrily and launched forward, planting his shoulder in Cage's midsection. The breath whooshed out of the IA officer and when he inhaled involuntarily, his eyes rolled up and he collapsed.
The collision had driven the air out of Danny's lungs as well. He curled up comfortably on the floor, inhaled deeply and closed his eyes contentedly.
It was the sort of neighborhood where people did not investigate funny noises. No one came out to see the tall figure wearing a gas mask and clad in sweats and a hoodie. He followed up the missile attack before the coughing stopped. He smashed the driver's window, reached in to open the door, shoved the driver over, tossed his launcher on the floor and took the wheel. The attacker drove away, leaving only a few bits of broken glass to mark his path.
Concealed in a nearby garage, the gas-masked man pried open the rear door of the van and let the bad air out. He checked the men inside. Pulse and respiration seemed normal enough. Satisfied, he casually hoisted Danny over one shoulder and carried the smaller man like a sack of potatoes to the back of a battered van with surfboards hung on both sides.
He laid the unconscious detective on his side on an open sleeping bag, lifting Danny's head and folding a corner underneath to serve as a pillow. He looked at the handcuffs behind Danny's back, saw they were secure and shut the back door.
Returning to the police transport, he deposited the driver in the back with the other officers and shut the door.
Back at his van, he removed the gas mask, revealing a head of spiky, bleach-blond hair and a goatee to match. A shiny burn scar tugged at one cheek, lifting a corner of his lip in a perpetual sneer. Beneath his hoodie and sweats, he wore a tank top and gaudy flowered board shorts. His bare shoulders were evenly tanned, with pale hair on his arms and legs.
He snapped off his gloves, tossed them and the sweats in the back with the still-handcuffed prisoner. He drove off, just another surfer headed for the beach.
— H50 —
Disheveled and furious, Sgt. Cage stormed into the Five-0 headquarters backed by two officers with weapons drawn. The sergeant saw Chin in his office in conversation with Kono and banged open the door. "Kelly!"
He halted abruptly. The men with him hid their guns behind their backs. Despite all the glass walls, they had somehow overlooked the other occupants of the office.
Governor Jameson's two aides looked alarmed at the intrusion. The governor looked annoyed.
"Cage?" Chin's one word demanded an explanation.
"How long have you been here?" It wasn't quite clear whether Cage was addressing Kelly or Jameson. The governor answered.
"We've been here …" She glanced at her watch and seemed surprised by the passage of time. "… more than two hours, planning the commander's memorial service. Why?" she asked, sharply, sounding like the prosecutor she had been.
"Williams has escaped."
"He had help from outside. Someone fired knockout gas into the transport. When we came to, Williams was gone," Cage said bitterly.
Chin's eyes blazed. He slammed both hands down on the desk. "And so you immediately thought of me! Why would I help Danny escape?"
"He was your friend," Cage said weakly.
"So was McGarrett," Chin countered. "Steve gave me a second chance when no one else would." The look he gave Cage scorched like a flamethrower. "I would never help anyone who killed hm."
"Sgt. Cage!" An officer ran in. "We were too late to block Williams' bank account. He emptied it two days before he shot McGarrett."
"Chin. Chin, the picture," Kono said quietly.
One of the aides handed Cage a manila envelope.
"We found this in the commander's desk a few minutes ago," Jameson said.
Cage pulled out the picture that demanded Danny make a choice between his friend and his daughter.
"Danny would do anything for Grace. Anything," Kono said in a choked voice. "Danny," she said sadly. "Why didn't you come to us?"
"He did," Chin realized. "He went to Steve. Tried to get him to back off the Blue Skies case, but the boss wouldn't back down." Chin shook his head in realization. "'He wouldn't listen.' That's what Danny said. 'He wouldn't listen.'"
"But Chin, you see what all this means?" Kono asked her cousin. "The bank account and the escape."
"Yeah, cuz, I see it." Chin sat down heavily and put his face n his hands.
"What?" Cage demanded.
"Danny planned it," Kono said plaintively. "He didn't snap and shoot Steve on impulse. I could almost have understood it if he'd just lost it. He loves his daughter so much. But he paid someone to break him out. He planned Steve's murder." Kono rubbed her eyes as tears ran down her cheeks.
"And he played us, cuz. He played all of us with that mental illness scam." Chin didn't look up, but his voice was heavy with disgust.
Jameson glared at the IA officer. "I think you have a job to do, sergeant," she said pointedly. "Find Williams!"
"Yes ma'am!" He collected his men and ran out.
Chin wrapped his arms around his cousin and let her hide her face against his chest.
— H50 —
The surf van headed out of the city toward the jungle interior of the island. Danny didn't regain consciousness as swiftly as the driver expected, but he decided the prisoner had drifted from the anesthetic into a natural sleep. Finally a change in the prisoner's breathing, a sense of tension in the back, alerted the blond man to the detective's awakening.
"You were supposed to hold your breath, Danno," Steve McGarrett said.
To be continued
A/N: See how nice I was not to leave it two paragraphs back?