January 2008, Honolulu, Hawaii
Danny had only planed to spend at most a week in Hawaii because really… Sand. Was. Everywhere. But also because Grace still had school she needed to get back to. But that wasn't what happened. He took Grace to the beach where she saw a baby seal, which was apparently the coolest thing ever. A marine biologist who had been there had spent the next two hours telling Grace all about Monk Seals and their importance in the local ecosystem and the traditional Hawaiian culture. Grace had been enraptured and had demanded to stay longer and before Danny knew it two weeks had passed and now he was out looking for a house to rent and a school that Grace could finish off the year in. This had not been the plan. But screw the plan. His little girl was happy for the first time since the divorce and he didn't feel as if the world was closing in on him, just waiting to crush him. Rachel was still on the eastern seaboard somewhere with Stan, doing who knows what and that was perfect for him. He didn't want to be anywhere near her even if it meant he missed his family. Maybe when he didn't feel quite as broken they could live on the same side of the country again, but for now this might work.
The front desk at his hotel had been kind enough to recommend a real estate agent who could show him some nice rental properties and things were starting again. The young woman he met was a pretty little Asian woman, Kalakaua something or other. She had been kind enough not to tease him too badly about mispronouncing her name and for that Danny was grateful. She was a little chatterbox full of good will and even more excited when she found out he was a cop. Apparently most of her family were either cops, paramedics or coast guard, so she had been happy to find some great places for him on a good budget. After seeing the first three he had let her know that she could look at a higher price as he had inherited some money from an Uncle that he wasn't using. At that she had asked if he would rather do a rent to own option because she knew a place right on the beach that was available. It was apparently in a good neighborhood and his closest neighbor would also be a cop. She had even revealed that one of her many cousins had been the mans partner years ago and that she thought he must be a little lonely out there with his kids gone off to the mainland and his wife passed away.
Danny had reluctantly agreed to look the place over.
Ms. Kalakaua had gone on at length about the house, describing it's history and the family that had lived there for years and how the kids had grown up and moved out and the parents had moved off to Kauai to retire but hadn't been able to sell their home yet, prices being what they were. A house on the beach, even an old one in need of a bit of work was still out of the price range for most people. Danny had worried about that for a bit, wondering if he could afford it, even with the money saved up from the last few books. But he wasn't willing to worry too much over it until he saw the place. It could be a dive after all…Right?
The place was perfect.
That was Danny's first thought on seeing the place. It was larger than just Grace and he would need, but it was stunning. It was two stories tall, surrounded by large flowering plants and trees. There was a covered deck at the front of the house that looked like a perfect spot to sit and enjoy the view and ocean breeze that seemed to circle around the house. There was a gated front yard perfect for Grace to play in with their dog Ozzy, while Danny could watch her. The front of the house had a nice large room looking out over the yard through a big window, and Danny was sure it would make a great office for him. He could sit in there and write and still be able to watch Grace.
"It's beautiful," Danny murmured as Ms. Kalakaua took them up the steps to the front door.
"It's is. The house has good bones and most of the issues are just basic things you could fix on your own, like repainting. There are only a few issues where you might need to hire someone. I would suggest thinking about replacing the windows as they are pretty old and the seals on them are starting to thin and there are a couple spots where the roofing needs to be replaced, but over all the house is in excellent condition."
"That's good to hear." Danny nodded and lightly pushed Grace into the house behind the realtor.
"The bottom floor has one guest bedroom with a full bath, along with the kitchen, dinning room, living room, a half bath and the front parlor which you could use as an office. There is also a small laundry room just off the dinning room. It's a bit of an odd placement but it was something they added in after a renovation about a decade back. The half bath is just off the hall between the dinning room and the study."
Danny nodded and looked back over the front yard from where they stood on the lanai. It really was very beautiful. The large flowering plants and trees made for a nice barrier between the road and the house, hiding the place just a bit, from the view of passers by.
"Upstairs there are three small bedrooms with a shared bath and the master suite with it's own attached bath."
Danny whistled in surprise. He wasn't sure they really needed that much space, but if the family came out to visit it might be nice to have. He did have Matty, Katie and their two other sisters and their families as well. He doubted all of them could afford to come out for each holiday but maybe they could make it out for Christmas at least. The warm weather would do his Mother some good.
"It's certainly got space," Danny said as they stepped into the front hall. It was nice and wide, opening up to the stairs leading up to the second floor and off to the right Danny could see the entrance to the parlor he could use as an office and the hall leading down to the back of the house. Off to his left he could see a smaller hall leading to what he assumed was the guest room. "You said it had laundry as well?"
"Oh yes, just down the hall past the study and through the doorway on the right. That will go into the dinning room, which will have the door leading into the laundry room. There is also a trap door in the laundry that leads to a small panic room that was built after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, that the previous owners were using for storage. Originally it was meant to be a bomb shelter."
"I'm guessing the laundry was placed in the entrance to the bomb shelter for convenience?"
"Yes. Originally the laundry room was in the area where the guest bedroom and bath is. That space used to be a formal living room with a small bath and then the laundry between it and the family room."
Danny nodded and followed her through the lower level, looking over the rooms and trying not to sigh. The house was expensive but so far it was also everything Danny could want in a home, other than the fact it was on an island in the middle of the ocean, on the opposite side of the country from his family. Still, he could fly them out for the holidays. His parents could have the room down here and the rest of the adults could fight over the guest room upstairs or stay in a hotel. The kitchen was a dream; his mother would have fits of ecstasy if she saw it and Danny could certainly picture her in there with his sisters cooking up a feast. There was a private beach on the property as well and Danny was pleased to note you could see it from both the living room and the kitchen, making for easy monitoring of the kids.
The upstairs bedrooms were also something he wasn't used to. Space came at a premium living in a big city like New York and even in Newark. The home Rachel and he had owned had been easily half the size of this house, and the rooms were much smaller. Here each bedroom upstairs was large with a good sized closet, the master's even being a true walk-in with an installed wooden shelving system that had (thank you God) a spinning tie rack. He was still waiting for another shoe to drop because a house this nice shouldn't be as low a cost as what it was, especially since it was on the ocean. It should have been easily over a million but the owners were only asking a little over half of what Danny figured it should cost.
"Oh, that," Ms. Kalakaua waved it off when he asked, smiling at him. "The owners said they wanted a lower rate so that people with a family could afford a home like this. They don't particularly like how expensive it is for people to own homes here anymore and they said they still had enough money to live comfortably, so they didn't see the point in asking for more than what they thought was reasonable. It's a great deal, really. Their only stipulation was that it go to a family."
"Wow. That's just…wow. And they're sure?"
She laughed, a warm honey sweet sound that had Danny smiling automatically. "They're sure. I sent them some information about you and Grace and they said they would be more than happy to let you buy it if you were interested."
"I'm interested. Yeah."
"Good. I'll have papers drawn up." She smiled at him again. "Feel free to keep looking around and I'll just step out to make the call for you."
"Thanks." Danny ran his hands back along the side of his head, fixing his hair. "What do you think, Monkey? Does this feel like home?"
Grace looked up from where she was gazing out the window at the ocean in the backyard. "Yeah! Are we gonna live here now, Danno?"
"I think so, Monkey." Danny smiled at his daughter and tugged playfully on her pigtails, making her whine and dance away from him. His smile broadened as he watched her. "Which room did you want to sleep in?"
"The big one with the giant bathroom!"
Danny chuckled. "Well, I think I'm gonna have to pull rank on you and take that one myself."
"No fair! It had a door to the balcony."
"So did the right corner bedroom," Danny pointed out. "Why don't we set you up there and then when you get older if you want you can have the room at the front corner of the house. It's a bit bigger."
Grace sucked her bottom lip into her mouth and twirled her finger through one of her pigtails. "Okay."
"Alright. Once the house is ours how about we go looking for a new bedroom set for you? Grandma gave your old furniture to your cousin Caitlyn once I told her we were going to look at houses out here."
- - - H50 - - -
Three Days Later, 2727 Piikoi Street; Oahu
John McGarrett had been watching the stocky blond man and his little girl moving about his neighbor's house for about two hours already. He knew they bought the house from George Kaapana and his wife, Hanna. He had since found out the man was divorced. That his name was Daniel Williams and that he was a cop from New Jersey. What he didn't know was how a cop from New Jersey could afford to rent-to-own a house on the beach in Oahu, even if George and Hanna had sold it at a ridiculously low price. He was going to find out though. He couldn't risk that the man might be a spy for one of the various criminal organizations he'd pissed off in his many years on the force.
He had enemies. Too many of them, it seemed, and he wasn't willing to risk one of them finding out how close he was to getting all the proof he needed to take down the Yakuza and their inside men in HPD, the Governor's Office and several other important positions throughout the state. All he needed were a few more months, maybe a couple years at most if the whispers about the Chinese boogieman, Wo Fat, were real.
Hearing his burn phone ring, John set his binoculars down and moved away from the window in Mary's old room, that looked over the trees into the neighboring yard. "What have you got for me?"
On the other end of the line was perhaps the only active cop in the HPD that he could trust. Even though he knew Meka Hanamoa, had trained him like he had trained Chin Ho all those years ago, he was worried to trust him too much. He was too paranoid, but right now he didn't think he was wrong to be paranoid.
"Daniel Williams is an active Detective with the Newark PD. Recently divorced and retaining primary custody of his daughter, Grace Williams, age 7. His Commanding Officer had nothing but good things to say. The guy has one hell of an arrest record. It's insane. Something like 65 closed cases since becoming a Detective."
John arched an eyebrow at that and listened as Meka flipped through some papers on the other line.
"Okay. Uh, he has one younger brother. Named Matthew, works on Wallstreet. Three younger sisters. The oldest is named Katherine, aged 27, single and working as an editor for a pretty big publishing company. The other two sisters are twins. Identical. Names are Bethany and Maria. Both have just turned twenty and are currently in college. Uh, his father is Frank Williams, a retired Fireman. Looks like he was also in the Navy up until the oldest daughter was born in '83. Mother is Margaret Williams, who is a retired Nurse. She still volunteers at the hospital and works part time as a travel agent in a small company owned by her sister-in-law."
"Anything on the ex-wife?"
"Yeah. She's a British citizen. Name is Rachel, maiden name is Morrison. She's a lawyer for a firm in New York. From what I could find, the devoice was nasty. Accusations were being tossed about on both sides. Detective Williams claimed he walked in on her having sex with another man, a Stan Edwards. Looks like the ex-wife was getting serious with the guy to. Rumors are that he proposed, but I can't find any confirmation of that. I talked with some people, found out the guy didn't know Ms. Morrison was married and actually tried to apologize to Detective Williams when he found out."
"How did Williams get custody of the daughter," wondered John. That wasn't something that usually happened.
"Don't know. I did find out that he spoke with the Judge in private during the custody hearing. I'm waiting to hear back from the Judge. Thought I'd see if he'd be willing to shed some light on the matter."
"Good. Let me know if you hear back."
"Yeah." There was a long pause over the line before Meka let out a long sigh. "Williams first partner was dirty. IA cleared Williams. And Williams actually testified against his former partner. Apparently IA didn't have much of anything on the partner until Detective Williams contacted them."
"Hmm. Alright. Keep me updated." John ended the call and dropped the cell on the bed, turning to gaze back out the window at his new neighbor. This answered a lot of his questions, but also brought up so many more. Plus it didn't answer where the younger Detective got the money to get the house next door.
- - - H50 - - -
2725 Piikoi Street; Oahu
Danny was happy with the new house. He knew it was going to take a lot of work to fix the house back up, but he was sure in the end it would be worth it. Grace seemed to love it here, she loved the beach, she loved the people, and she loved the animals. Hawaii was not New Jersey. He knew that, he knew so much was going to be different. That wasn't going to stop him. The only thing that mattered right now was his daughter, was Grace. As long as she was happy he would be happy. Danny would just have to get used to not living in a large city. He could live without concrete, skyscrapers, thick blankets of smog, cabbies that spoke little to no understandable English, and all the sounds and scents of the large city that he'd grown up then. He would just have to find a way to love Hawaii is well.
He would worry about that tomorrow though. Tomorrow he could start trying to find reasons to like Hawaii. He could try to not think about all the fruit on the pizzas, he would try not to think about the constant sun, he would try not to think about all the people wandering around in short shorts and tank tops, or the possibilities of tsunamis. He would try not to think about everything about Hawaii that wasn't New Jersey. Instead he would think about his new house. He would think about all the work he still had to do to make it the home that he knew Grace needed to have. Tomorrow they would start by going out to buy some paint. They would need to repaint both the walls inside and the outside of the house. Once they had gotten the paint, they would go looking for a window shop where they could get some replacement windows for the ones that were currently rotting away in their frames in the walls.
Danny looked around at the boxes stacked everywhere and winced. Maybe he would look into getting some new appliances for the kitchen as well. The stove didn't look like it had been updated since the late 70's. And he wasn't a fan of tile floors in the kitchen. He spent too much time cooking when he wasn't working and tile just hurt to stand on after more than a few minutes. He could replace it with a nice hardwood, it wouldn't be too hard. He had spent the summer between college classes working construction with his Uncle. He knew what to do and it would save some money to do it himself.
"Daddy," Grace called the living room. "I'm hungry!"
"Alright, Monkey. Hold your horses. We'll get something to eat soon. Just let me finish unpacking this box first."
"Okay," Grace called out.
Danny smiled and pulled out some Italian salami his Mother had mailed to them from the butcher down the street from her home, getting everything ready to start slicing it up only to look up from the counter at the sound of the back screen door slamming closed as Grace raced outside in her pink swimsuit. Danny rapped his knuckles against the kitchen window until she turned around to look at him. Once he was sure she wouldn't go in deeper than her ankles while he was inside, Danny went back to making them some sandwiches and lemonade. Grace waved and ran the length of their beach, dancing out of the reach of the waves as they rolled in. The sound of her joyful, carefree laughter brought a smile to his face.
Danny moved the salami to the side and picked up the block of cheese, setting it on the carving board. A couple slices for his sandwich and then all that would be left to add would be some of the deli sliced turkey he had bought at the market in town and a large piece of lettuce for Grace's sandwich. They were fairly basic sandwiches but it was something familiar in this unfamiliar land. It would, hopefully make the transition from life in New Jersey to life in Honolulu, easier. Easier for whom was the question he didn't want to ask himself because the answer was fairly obvious.
A pained yell from outside had Danny dropping the knife he had been using to cut the crust off of Grace's sandwich. He ran toward the sliding door, his heart beating wildly in his chest as he caught sight of Grace sitting in the sand crying as a strange man stood, looming over her. Wishing he had grabbed his gun, Danny ran off the back lanai and into the sand yelling out, "Grace!"
The man looked up, his lined face taking in the sight of Danny charging at him. The part of his mind not focused on Grace was mildly impressed that the man didn't seem worried about Danny.
Danny slide to a stop in the sand pushing between Grace and the stranger. "Who're you," demanded Danny.
The older man arched an eyebrow at him and let a slow small smile spread across his face. "I'm your neighbor, Detective McGarrett."
"And I should believe that why?"
Slowly the man reached into his back pocket and pulled out his ID. Flipping it open he waited as Danny looked over the badge and the photo ID confirming his words. Danny nodded but still watched him warily.
"Grace, babe, you okay."
Grace sniffed and pressed her face into his leg, little hands gripping the fabric of his pants. "I got sting'd, Danno."
Glancing down at his daughter, Danny took in her appearance; carefully checking her over for any signs the Detective being there wasn't kosher. "Where, monkey?"
"My foot." Grace sniffles and lifted her foot up towards him. "It hurts."
"Jellyfish sting, from the looks of it. Doesn't happen often," Detective McGarrett commented.
"You know this how?"
"My son got stung once while swimming. It's painful but treatable." Detective McGarrett nodded his head towards his house. "I should have something to help with that?"
Danny and the Detective watched each other, a silent battle of wills taking place before Danny nodded. He would trust the man. For now.
Picking up Grace, he followed the other man along the edge of the beach, ignoring the way the waves lapped at his loafers. The house next door was an older model two-story home. It white paint was tinged with age and in need of a fresh coat of paint, but otherwise the house looked to be in good condition. The man, Detective McGarrett walked into the house through the open sliding glass door, leading Danny through what looked to be an overly cluttered office space to where his dinning room table was. Looking up at Danny he pulled out one of the chairs for Danny to sit down, Grace still hanging onto Danny, her face pressed into his neck as she cried.
"I just need to step into the kitchen. I'll be right back."
Danny nodded, feeling a bit more relaxed about the man but still not willing to drop his guard just yet.
Detective McGarrett returned quickly enough with a small yellow plastic tub and a large bottle of vinegar. He set the tub on the ground by Danny's feet and opened the bottle, carefully pouring a good amount of it into the tub. "It's the best thing for a jellyfish sting." He looked up at Grace and smiled gently. "I know it's smelly but it will make it stop hurting. Can you be a brave girl for your Daddy and I, and put your little foot in the vinegar for me."
Grace sniffled and loosened her hold on Danny. Glancing at the yellow tub and then at her Dad, Grace nodded and scooted down, letting Danny stand so she could sit in the chair on her own. She scrunched up her nose as her foot dipped into the vinegar. "It's cold."
"I know, keiki, but it helps. I promise." Detective McGarrett smiled at her again and stood up from where he had been crouching by her feet. "She should keep her foot in that for at least half an hour. I'm going to go upstairs and get a tube of hydrocortisone cream to help with the itching and swelling afterwards and we should call for an ambulance-"
"What," Danny whispered, panicked at the mention of needing an ambulance.
"We need to make sure it wasn't something as dangerous as a box jellyfish. Plus they can make sure she isn't having any allergic reactions." Detective McGarrett squeezed Danny's shoulder gently, waiting for Danny's panic to subside. "She'll be fine and by this time next week she'll be back to running around on the beach."
Danny snorted. "She's not getting within ten feet of the water if I have any say in it."
The older detective chuckled and turned to go upstairs, leaving Danny and Grace alone in his dinning room. Danny watched him leave and couldn't help but to look around. His Mother would call it snooping, but Danny would just smirk and tell her he came across the tendency to snoop naturally. His Mother was, after all, a very accomplished snooper.
Danny leaned down and gave Grace a quick kiss to her forehead before walking over towards the wall. There were quite a few pictures in the room besides the painting on the wall, which Danny assumed, butted up against the kitchen. All of the pictures seemed out of date though. There were several of Detective McGarrett and who Danny guessed was his son, another group of nearby photos showed a lovely woman laughing, hanging up laundry on a line on the beach behind the house and again of the woman holding a baby or playing dolls with a young girl. They looked like a very happy family but Danny couldn't help but wonder why the only photos here were so old. Based on the other mans appearance, these photos were at the very least a decade out of date, if not older. He supposed that there might be more recent photos in other rooms of the house, but it still struck Danny as odd.
Danny was just stepping away from the only picture of the family all together when Detective McGarrett came back. Danny blushed but didn't apologize for looking at the photos. They were out in the open on the walls and on the hutch right where anyone could see. If he had riffled through all the papers stacked on the desk in the other room that would be different.
"That's my late wife, Doris and our two kids, Steve and Mary." Detective McGarrett looked over at the picture Danny had just been looking at. His gaze was full of old grief, lounging and even a little pride. "My boy, Steve, he'd be about your age now. He was quite the football player in High School. Broke a bunch of records that none of the kids since have been able to match."
"Does he still play," Danny asked, quietly wondering if he had seen the boy play in any professional league games.
"Not since his Mother died." A long stretch of uncomfortable silence stretched between them.
"Is he a cop like you," Grace asked; tear reddened eyes watching the two men.
"No. He a SEAL."
Grace looked at him like he was crazy, making him smile even wider. "How can he be a seal? Is he a Selkie like in Grammies stories?"
For the first time since meeting him, Danny saw the older a true smile stretch across his face before he burst out with a deep rumbling laugh. "Oh, keiki, no, he's not a Selkie. He's a SEAL. It's a special unit in the Navy that does the extra special dangerous missions."
"Oh. Do you miss him?"
Grace wiggled in her seat, glancing down at her foot in the vinegar bath and back up at her father and Detective McGarrett. Danny could see her little brain trying to decide if she could get up yet and offer their new neighbor a hug. She was just that kind of girl. So sweet hearted and empathetic towards others. It used to make him worry for her because she was so friendly and trusting that she used to talk to everyone and anyone. There was a stretch of two years where he was always on the edge of his seat waiting for someone to call to say a stranger she went up to had taken Grace. Fortunately that never happened and Grace proved to be an excellent judge of character and had listened to him when he told her not to talk to strangers unless Mommy or her Danno said it was okay.
Danny smiled at his daughter and ruffled her hair until she batted his hand away. When he turned back to face Detective McGarrett he was surprised to see the man was heading to the front of the house, moving to look out the window.
"The ambulance is here," he called out. "I'll let them in."
"Thanks," Danny called out.
Several minutes later found Danny and Detective McGarrett, John, sitting by Danny and Grace as the paramedic handed her a lollipop.
"She'll be fine. You should keep an eye on it and you'll need to use ice packs or over-the-counter pain relievers for welts. You should also clean the open sores 3 times a day and apply antibiotic ointment. This will prevent any infections, but it's doubtful that is even a concern for her. She's young and healthy so she'll jump back in no time, brah." Closing up his medical kit, the paramedic smiled at Grace, said his goodbyes and headed out.
"Thanks man," Danny said looking over at John. "Really. I wouldn't have had a clue what do.
John nodded. "What else are neighbors for?"
- - - H50 - - -
Later That Night, 2727 Piikoi Street; Oahu
John was again sitting on his daughter's old bed, watching his neighbors through his binoculars when Meka walked in with Chin Ho. The fact that Meka had brought Chin over was a little startling. Meka didn't nessesarily believe that Chin was dirty, had in fact spoken out that if IA couldn't find anything more than ghosts then the rest of the department should give him a chance, but IA had just hung too heavy of a shadow of doubt over Chin for anyone else to take Chin's words of innocence as truth. There were days that John was sure that Meka might not even speak with Chin if John hadn't trained them both. Meka had a lot of faith in him and John worried about that. He needed Meka's assistance to figure out the puzzle of his wife's murder, the involvement of the Yakuza and who Shelbourne and Wo Fat really were. The downside was that if he let Meka in on what he was working on then Meka, his wife and their little boy would be in danger. There was already a chance that Meka was targeted and so was Chin. John wasn't sure but he thought that Chin's being targeted by IA may have been a sideeffect of John's unauthorized case. Chin didn't believe that though, had in fact told John he knew who took the money. When John had asked him why he didn't just tell IA, Chin had told him he wasn't wiling to do so, that getting his job back wasn't worth what it would cost the other man.
"Still at it then," asked Meka as he leaned against Mary's old desk.
John hummed and looked back through the window. He wasn't willing to just believe the other Detective wasn't a threat even if they had already met face to face. He had o be certain.
Meka sighed and waved his hand at Chin, obviously passing the job of trying to convice John that he was too paranoid, over to the older more experienced partner.
"John, are you certain this is nessesary? From what Mek tells me you've already found, it doesn't appear like the guy is any danger to you. For God's sake, he brought his daughter. Do you think any man would willing put his daughter in the line of danger just to get to you?"
"He could. There are men out there that would put a child in danger just to get a shot at me."
"And you think this guy," Chin waved his hand in the general direction of the house next door. "This guy, who was a cop, whose father was a firefighter, whose mother was a nurse, whose grandfathers were cops, would put his daughter at risk just to get you?"
Chin sighed and moved to sit down next to John on the bed. "John, you've already lost Doris to this, and you're losing Steve and Mary Ann because you pushed them away. If you keep going after this like an enraged bull you're going to miss their entire lives, you're going to miss the chance at meeting the people they love, at future spouses and grandchildren. Is it worth it? Is losing your family really worth this? I know you loved Doris, but you can't spend the rest of your life swallowed up by grief and guilt. You didn't kill her. The Yakuza did."
"Please leave, Chin. You aren't needed here."
Chin sat still just watching him for a moment before standing and striding towards the door. "I lost my entire family, John. They may still be alive but I'm as good as dead to them and let me tell you that that feeling kills me a little everyday. Don't keep your kids feelig like that for much longer or if you ever finish this quest for vengence you might just find they won't accept you back in their lives."
Meka watched Chin leave, swallowing back the emotions burning in his gut. He knew he had been right to call the older Detective, he just hoped that Chin's words would burn their way through the fog of vengence that seemed to be clouding John's mind. He wanted to know the man that some of the older men on the force still talked about, he was tired of knowing a ghost of a man.
Not sure what he could say that might make John realize all he had lost and was going to lose, Meka walked away from the desk, resting his arm lightly on John's shoulder for a moment, before turning and following Chin out of the house. Leaving John sitting alone in the dark, watching the neighbors and pondering the possibilities of attack.