A/N: Written for casestory big bang on LiveJournal. My first ever Big Bang! You can see the cool art by anuminis over there.
Proofread by two most important people: lyricoloratura (for grammar, punctuation, effect vs. affect) and rocsfan for Hawaii 5-0-ness. Undying love and gratitude to both! (Any remaining errors are all mine. Because I couldn't seem to avoid rewriting even after I had their blessings.)
"Only you, Steven. Only you would want to spend our day off shooting at each other," Danny said with what little breath he had to spare. He was leaning back against a huge boulder as Steve served as look-out while Danny reloaded.
I couldn't help but be amused as I witnessed their interaction, just as I had been since I had arrived in Hawaii. I was assigned by my Governor to come and observe the Hawaii Five-0 Task Force to see if we could replicate it in Washington state. We were having a problem with illegal trafficking of narcotics through Washington into Canada, and Governor Gregoire sent me to observe, absorb, see if we could establish the same type of task force. I suspected that the Five-0 Team was not thrilled to have me tagging along but as Governor Gregoire was close friends with Hawaii's Governor Denning, they didn't have a lot of choice but to agree to my presence.
In the days I had already spent with the four core members of the team, I had learned much about what made them so successful. The head of the task force, Lt. Commander Steven J. McGarrett, was a Navy SEAL. He had transferred to the reserves when given the opportunity to head-up 5-0. He was tough, fair-minded, and tended to leap without looking.
Commander McGarrett was held in check as well as anyone could hope by Detective Sergeant Daniel Williams. Detective Williams was originally from New Jersey and has lived in Hawaii for 2 ½ years. His move to "paradise" was the result of his divorce and his ex-wife's subsequent relocation with their daughter to Hawaii. I had the honor of meeting Grace Williams over pizza and could understand how the entire team now considered her theirdaughter. The feeling was mutual.
The team included Detective Lieutenant Chin Ho Kelly who is a native son – kama'aina is the Hawaiian word for it. Detective Kelly is a voice of calm and a steady presence for them all. Commander McGarrett listens to Detective Kelly in ways he does not to anyone else, except possibly Detective Williams, but that's mostly because Danny seems to always be yelling at McGarrett. Yelling may be his default setting. Detective Kelly is as different from Williams as could be possible, yet they work together seamlessly. I'm pretty sure Kelly is incapable of yelling, yet can quiet either of the other two men with a lift on an eyebrow.
Detective Kelly is especially protective of the fourth member of the team, Officer Kono Kalakaua, his cousin. Officer Kalakaua has been with 5-0 from the beginning and was brought on even before she had officially graduated from the Police Academy. She is beautiful and looks like should she be a model, not an officer of the law. However, the first day I was with them, she subdued an escaping suspect with a solid round-house kick, taking out a man three times her weight. She's not a delicate flower, of that there is no doubt. She is smart, eager to learn, and does not allow the men to treat her like the "token" female.
I tried to bow out of their paintball game but they all insisted that I come along. The Chief Medical Examiner, Max Bergman, whom they considered an unofficial part of Five-0, was also playing. My presence helped balance the teams so that Team Blue and Team Yellow had the same number of players. I had assured Steve and Danny that it was not my first time in a paintball game and I would not be a liability. I'm pretty sure Danny didn't care but I recognized the "win at all costs" look in Steve's eye when we arrived at the facility.
"First, it wasn't my idea. And second, it's team-building. You should appreciate that," Steve said, watching Danny arm himself to the extent possible. Danny was seven inches shorter than Steve but you wouldn't know it from the way he acted. I'm pretty sure Danny could take Steve down if it ever became necessary, height difference notwithstanding.
"How is it team building when we are tracking Chin, Kono, and Max in hopes of capturing their flag?" Danny rightfully demanded. He hoisted himself up off the rock to take the look-out position, Steve ducking behind long enough to reload his own guns. None of the team was surprised to learn that his paintball guns were the biggest of anyone's. Nor were they surprised that Steve possessed his very own paintball arsenal.
"You good?" Steve asked me when his paintball guns were fully charged.
"I'm good," I assured them. Mine, like Danny's, were rented from the park. We were not allowed to leave the office area until Steve had inspected them to ensure they would fire as accurately as paintball guns could be expected to. Danny had waited patiently during the inspection, rolling his eyes but indulging Steve's military need for precision.
"You're the one who gave the passes to Kono for her birthday. I knew I should have demanded to be on her team. She won't spend the entire day whining," Steve said, peering cautiously over Danny's shoulder. I was behind him. My place was to do what I was told. And to listen to them argue.
"Hey. Hey. You are not using me as a human shield. I die you die. That's how it works."
"Not necessarily. If I stay clear, I win," Steve smirked, looking down at Danny, his expression far too competitive. I could not help but laugh at his declaration, making Danny frown at both of us.
"We are a team, Steven. You don't win if we die," Danny reminded him, using his free hand to emphasize his point, pointing from himself to me and back. "We all have to stay paint-free."
Steve shrugged and looked through the trees where we had taken up position. Our yellow flag was fifteen feet behind us and we knew it was inevitable that we would have to leave it undefended in order to capture Team Blue's flag. "Okay. Here's our strategy," Steve was saying, Danny sighing at the 'Commando' tone of voice. "Danny, take the right flank. You go with Danny. I'm taking left. They are 20 yards to the north northwest."
"North northwest Rambo?"
"That way," Steve said, pointing out to our right. "Follow that tree line. We'll catch them unawares."
"Fine. Fine," Danny said, waving in the general direction Steve was pointing. "Alert me if you die."
"Roger that," Steve said, getting into his crouch as though that would prevent Team Blue from seeing him. He stopped when his phone vibrated, taking it out of his paintball specific flak vest. "It's Kono."
"Then answer it. They can't track us out here. Even if they could, Chin promised us he wouldn't," Danny reminded him. Chin had demonstrated his proficiency with technology to an outstanding degree already. I'm no stranger around computers but Chin seems to own them.
Steve nodded curtly, putting it on speaker. "Hello," he said quietly in case they were listening for our position.
"Boss, we have a problem," Kono informed him.
"Other than the fact that we've spotted your locale and are about to take your flag?" Steve smirked.
"This is a real problem," Kono said. "We have a body."
"Max get in the way of a paintball?" Steve asked.
"No. Max is fine. We have a realdead body. We need you to come to our location."
"Nice try," Steve said, smiling tightly.
"What? What are you saying to her?" Danny demanded firmly, more hand waving accompanying his questions.
"It's just Kono trying the classic 'we have a dead body' gambit. Not going to work," Steve informed us and Kono simultaneously.
Danny reached up and took Steve's phone, ignoring Steve's protest. "Hey Babe. What's going on?"
"We're over at shelter 16," Kono said. "There's a guy here with a bullet hole in his head. Max says he's been dead for several hours at least."
"All right," Danny said. "I'll get Rambo to stand down and we'll be right there."
"Thanks brah. At least one of you has some sense."
Danny hung up the phone and returned it to Steve, frowning up at him. "Come back to the real world. She's serious. There's a body with a bullet hole. A real dead body with a real bullet wound that really killed him."
"She's playing us. Why are you falling for it?" Steve asked, looking down at Danny like he could not possibly believe Kono. I thought she sounded genuinely concerned but decided it was for the two of them to sort out. I simply waited and watched.
"Because unlike you, I understand the basics of Human to Human communications. She is serious. It's not a ploy to get us out from our cover," Danny said, extracting the map from Steve's back pocket to study it for the location of shelter 16.
"You can't be sure," Steve said firmly.
"I have an 11 year old, Steven. I can smell a lie a mile off. This isn't one," Danny told him as he started off toward the shelter. I decided to follow, Steve coming after us.
"When they shoot you, you'll have to buy the beer," Steve reminded him.
"They aren't going to shoot any of us," Danny said. They continued to argue the lack of Danny's 'strategy' versus the lack of Steve's good sense as we approached the indicated shelter. Max was squatting down, Chin and Kono standing on either side of him. "See? I told you. I told him. Would he listen? No."
"Okay, Danno. You were right. This time," Steve said, looking down at Max. "What do we have?"
Max looked up at him, his face pinched in what I could only assume was an excited, considering expression. He was wearing a camouflage jumpsuit under his camouflage TAC vest. "Male victim. Approximately 25 to 35. One gun shot wound to the head. Time of death estimated between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. I'll know more precisely when I can perform a proper examination." The dead man was wearing jeans and a yellow tee shirt from the facility - Olowalu Paintball Explosion. He had the familiar, sad expression of the surprised dead. I hadn't been witness to it often but I had seen it enough times to know he hadn't seen it coming until the bullet struck him.
Steve nodded, looking at Chin and Kono. Chin was wearing jeans and one of the signature blue and white shirts I had seen him in under his vest, not exactly the most subtle of outfits. But I knew it was very Chin. Kono was dressed in a black vest over a black Olowalu Paintball Rulesshirt and jeans, better to disguise her presence. Her shoes were sensible and sturdy. "Did you notify the manager of the facility?" Steve asked, assessing the situation.
"She's on her way," Kono said. "She was working in the front office so it shouldn't be much longer."
"All right," Steve said, looking around at their location. "You call HPD?"
"On their way," Chin confirmed.
"Do you know how many players are out?" Danny asked, stripping off his vest and putting it on a convenient picnic table. "What? What's with the face?" Danny asked Steve when he frowned at him.
"Our vic was shot and killed. The shooter could still be here," Steve said.
"Unless he shoots me with a paintball, this vest will do me no good," Danny reminded him.
"Paintball vests," Kono said.
"Mine's not," Steve said.
"Of course yours isn't," Danny said, waving at it. "Because you would take a shower in your TAC vest if it wouldn't waste water and make your showers last longer than 3 minutes."
"Three minutes?" Kono said with a small laugh. I was wondering the same thing and was glad Kono had asked although we didn't get much of an answer.
"Navy showers, Kono. Don't even get me started," Danny said.
"Please don't get him started. He'll never stop," Steve said.
Danny's no doubt verbose reply was stopped by the arrival of a woman driving a bright yellow golf cart.
"I'm Hiako Ueuna," she said. She was a native of the island and looked a little like Kono, the same general height and complexion, her dark hair held in a ponytail, her yellow shirt proclaiming Olowalu Paintball Rules. "What seems to be the problem?"
"I'm Commander Steve McGarrett," Steve said, extending his hand to shake hers. "Our team discovered this body," he explained, pointing to the poor young man.
"Oh my," Hiako said with a gasp. "Oh no no no."
"I take it you know him," Danny said, his hand on the woman's arm. She looked ready to pass out and he was going to catch her if that was the case.
"It's Ronald Sharper," she said in a very quiet voice.
"He works here?" Kono asked, sympathy in her tone and on her face.
"Yes. He works - worked in the office mainly. Inventory control. Shipping and receiving," Hiako said, shaking her head.
"Was he working today?" Kono asked. Chin and Steve had eased away, going to talk to the HPD officers who had just arrived and were beginning to cordon off the area. I stayed with Kono and Danny since HPD wasn't exactly thrilled I had been assigned to the task force. I hadn't gotten the entire story but there was apparently some simmering resentment toward anyone from the mainland – haolewas the local word. Pretty sure it wasn't a compliment but I hadn't taken the time to ask anyone. I knew it made no difference and simply kept my distance whenever possible.
"No. He wasn't here yesterday either. The last day he worked was Tuesday. He was supposed to work tomorrow."
"Does he have a wife? Family?" Danny asked with an appropriate mixture of authority and sympathy.
"His parents," Hiako said. "Lovely people. They are going to be devastated." Hiako looked devastated herself which we could understand.
"If you'll provide us with their information, we'll make the notification," Kono assured her.
"Yes. Of course," Hiako said absently.
"Do you know anyone who would want to hurt Ronald?" Danny asked as gently as that question could be asked.
"No. Not Ronnie. Everyone loved him."
"We'll find who did this," Kono said firmly.
"I just can't imagine how this could have happened," Hiako said, shaking her head. "It's unimaginable."
"I know it's a shock," Kono agreed. "We'll find them."
Hiako finally looked away from Ronald's body to focus on Kono, glancing over at Steve as he gave orders to the HPD officers. "As much as I loved Ronald, I wouldn't think his death would be a matter for Five-0." I was a little surprised that Hiako knew they were the task force but then they did tend to make the papers on a regular basis. I had been able to learn quite a bit about them via Google when I was assigned this trip. Kono and Danny didn't seem surprised that she knew so I guessed they were often identified by the locals.
"We were here playing paintball," Kono told her. "Team building."
"I see," Hiako said with a sigh. "At least I know you'll find who did this."
"You can be sure of that," Danny promised her.
"Once you've solved his murder, I hope you'll come back and play with us again," Hiako said sadly, a slow tear running down her cheek.
"Of course we will," Kono said, a hand on her shoulder. Kono nodded in thanks when Danny handed Hiako his handkerchief.
"You can come play free whenever you want," Hiako said with a watery smile. "Just please find out who hurt Ronnie."
"We will," Kono promised, turning slightly to look up at Steve when he and Chin returned.
"Is there anything you can tell us about Ronald that might help us?" Chin asked evenly. It was the only tone of voice I had heard him use although this time it sounded filled with sympathy.
"No. He didn't have any enemies. He lived at home with his parents. He was attending University of Hawaii at night. No debts. No drug habits," Hiako said, shaking her head in bewilderment.
"Does he have a computer here?" Steve asked.
"Yes. We each have our own," she agreed, wiping her eyes and nose. "Do you need his?"
"It might help," Chin said patiently.
"Of course. I'll get it for you," she said. "It's in the main office."
"I'll come with," Kono offered to Hiako's agreement. "Do you need me to drive?"
"If you don't mind," Hiako said, climbing into the golf cart on the passenger side, the tears flowing more freely as they drove away.
"Max?" Steve asked, looking over at him.
"One bullet. From a semi-automatic rifle," he said, looking up at Steve.
"Yes," Steve agreed. "Probably an AR-15."
"I don't even want to know how you can know that just by looking at the vic," Danny said, shaking his head.
"It's classified," Steve told him.
"Color me surprised," Danny replied. "You get photos of the crime scene?" he asked Chin who nodded in agreement.
"Who is going to make the family notification?" Chin asked. Steve flinched at the word, Chin shaking his head. "All right. Kono and I will go."
I was surprised by Steve's reaction but Chin took it in stride. Danny didn't look surprised that Steve clearly wasn't comfortable doing it so it was not an issue for any of them.
"Thank you. I owe you one," Steve said, clapping Chin on the shoulder.
"You owe me one million," Chin corrected, Steve unable to argue with that. "HPD is clearing out the course. There were 32 people playing."
"Okay," Steve acknowledged. "It can be opened back up tomorrow. I know Friday has to be one of their biggest days."
"We'll tell Ms Ueuna on our way out," Danny said. "You ready to go or did you want to look around a while longer?"
"I think we should see if we can find where the shooter was set up," Steve said, turning to face southeast, the direction the shot would have been fired. "You coming?" he asked me. I agreed I would.
"I'll go get Kono and we'll make the notification," Chin said. "I'll call when we're done so you can let us know where you are."
"Right," Steve agreed, going over to speak with the sergeant from HPD.
"Thank you," Danny said to Chin. "We would do it. But Steve, well, you know."
"I do know," Chin agreed. "Beers on are him when we close this case."
"Absolutely," Danny confirmed, waiting as Steve returned. "How far do you think the shooter was from here?"
"At least 75 yards," Steve said, pointing toward a stand of trees on the far side of the meadow that adjoined the shelter.
"All right," Danny said. We all headed off toward the trees as Chin turned to go to the office in order to collect Kono and his car. Max said he was returning to his lab with the body, HPD loading the stretcher in the back of the van.
We arrived back at HQ first, Danny calling Max to see if he had anything yet. Danny wasn't surprised when Max told him that results were never so quick and surely the Detective knew that which rendered this phone call entirely moot. Danny apologized in a manner I'm sure he hoped was acceptable and hung up, watching Steve go through the slides of the crime scene. I had also been studying them but nothing stood out.
"See anything new?" Danny asked as Steve paused on one of the photos of the victim, his blank eyes staring unseeingly up at the bright blue of the sky.
"No," Steve said, going to the next photo.
Danny answered his phone, placing it on the tech table so we could hear the conversation as well. "Chin. You're on speaker," Danny said in greeting.
"We told Ronald's mother," Chin said. "She took it hard. As you would expect."
"And his father?" Steve asked, bouncing on his toes and earning a silent frown from Danny.
"His mother wanted to do it. We drove her from the elementary school where she teaches to the bank where Mr. Sharper is assistant manager. She said we could leave them alone so we did," Chin said.
"All right," Danny acknowledged. "Do they want to view the body?"
"Mrs. Sharper said she didn't think so. But she's pretty torn up," Chin said.
"I get that," Danny said. "Where are you now?"
"Mrs. Sharper said that Ronnie has…had a boyfriend. We're going to talk to him," Chin explained.
"Do you have any reason to think he's involved in Ronald's death?" Steve asked.
"We won't know until we talk to him. Mrs. Sharper said they'd been dating for over a year. They met at UH. She said Ronnie was majoring in Political Science. He wanted to enter politics to help reduce the amount of gun violence," Chin said.
"Oh," Danny said. I thought that summed it up pretty well. What else was there to say about the irony of the situation?
"Yeah," Steve had to agree. "Come back here when you're done with the boyfriend."
"Roger that," Chin agreed.
"Kono there?" Danny asked in concern.
"I'm here," Kono confirmed. "I'm okay."
"You sure, Babe?" Danny asked her gently.
"Yeah. You know."
"All right," Danny said with a nod they could not see. "We'll see you when you get here." Danny disconnected the call and turned his attention to study Steve who was watching him with a new expression. "What?"
"You don't think it's a hate crime, do you?" Steve asked.
"Hate crime? Because he was majoring in Poli Sci? Some rival gang from the Philosophy department?"
"No, dumbass. Because he's gay."
I had to stifle a laugh at their conversation. I took a step back so they wouldn't feel like they had to amend their usual method of communicating.
"First off, I'm not the dumbass here. And secondly, why would someone use a high powered rifle to shoot one college student because he's gay? This is 2012, in case you have forgotten. Homophobia is not as rampant in the real world as it is in the military world where far too many of your ideas were formed for my personal comfort."
"I'm not a dumbass," Steve said. "And gays are no longer banned from the military, in case you'veforgotten. I don't think homophobia is rampant. But there are plenty of zealots out there. Not that I'm one of them."
"You are a zealot of your own causes. The ones that live inside your head. That have very little to do with the real world where the rest of us spend the vast majority of our time," Danny said.
"I'm not a homophobe," Steve said for emphasis.
"I never thought you were, Babe," Danny assured him, turning back to the tech table.
"Why do you call Kono that?" Steve asked, moving to stand a little too close to Danny – just like they always seemed to, two magnets inexplicably drawn toward each other.
I was pretty sure they had forgotten I was there and felt like if I could, I should have left them alone. But it wasn't possible so I stayed quiet and observed.
"What? Kono is her name, isn't it? Or is there some Hawaiian ritual I don't know that means haoles can't know the real names of the kama'aina?"
"Not Kono. Babe."
"I call everyone babe, Babe. You haven't noticed?" Danny asked, looking up at Steve like he was absolutely sure that Steve had had a blow to the head that had gone unnoticed by Danny.
"Not everyone," Steve said, muttering something else Danny couldn't catch. I didn't hear it either but I would have paid money to know what he said.
"Once again, for the rest of the class, Steven," Danny said, looking over at me with an indulgent smile that I noticed was generally reserved just for Steve.
"Never mind," Steve said, shaking his head and turning to go into his office.
"Where are you going?"
"To call Max," Steve called over his shoulder.
"I just did that. He'll be royally pissed if you call him again so soon. He'll let us know the minute he has anything to tell us," Danny said, following Steve into his office. I stayed where I was lurking since I could still see and hear them. Was it eavesdropping if they knew I was there?
"I need to do something," Steve said, sitting heavily in his chair and frowning up at Danny.
"I get that. I really do. But until we have bad guys to chase or suspects to dangle off roofs, we're going to have to wait."
"One time,Danny. I hung a suspect off a roof one time."
"One time more than anyone else I know," Danny informed him. "Let's go grab a sandwich. We'll be back by the time Chin and Kono get here."
Steve shook his head. "That doesn't feel right."
"Eating?" Danny asked, frowning at Steve when he stood up. "Then where are you going?"
"We'll go to the University and talk to his professors."
"Idea is sound. But it's still winter break," Danny reminded him, watching as Steve sat back in his chair with a huff.
"We should have brought his computer with us," Steve said, unnecessarily straightening the papers on his desk.
"To what ends? We couldn't do anything with it," Danny pointed out.
"We could have… you know," Steve said with an all encompassing wave of his hand.
"Sure. Or we can actually take a chill and eat while we wait like normal people which in no way implies that I think you are one," Danny suggested. "Come on. Let's go grab some sandwiches."
"All right," Steve reluctantly agreed. "Call Chin and Kono and tell them to stop on their way back."
"And you can't call them exactly why?"
"I'm in charge. I give the orders," Steve said cheekily, smiling when Danny had to laugh before calling Chin as ordered. We went down to the sandwich shop on the corner, where they managed to eat between arguing about everything under the sun.
Chin and Kono returned not long after we finished eating and recounted their afternoon. They had gone to the lifeguard station when they arrived at Waikiki Beach. Mrs. Sharper had told them that Ronnie's boyfriend, Nepoe Paiohipio, was working as a lifeguard until sunset and they should find him there.
They had found the head lifeguard at the station, surprised to discover it was one of their cousins, Lapee. She had told them where to find Nepoe and had said she would cover his station when they said that he would probably be leaving. They had assured her that Nepoe wasn't in any trouble and then gone to tell him.
Chin and Kono had told Nepoe that Ronnie had been killed and at first he couldn't understand what they were saying. It was a common reaction of the family and friends of victims – shock and inability to absorb the information.
At first, Nepoe had thought Chin and Kono were going to tell him that Ronnie had been arrested protesting again. He finally understood that Ronnie was dead and agreed to their suggestion that they take him to Ronnie's house. Ronnie's mother had suggested it and they agreed it was the best idea.
On the way to the Sharpers' house, Kono asked Nepoe if Ronnie was with him the night before. Nepoe said he wasn't and thought he had been at home. The Sharpers thought Ronnie was with Nepoe. When Kono asked when he had seen Ronnie last, Nepoe said it had been the day before and Ronnie was wearing jeans and a yellow Olowalu Paintball shirt. He didn't appear upset by anything although Nepoe said he had seemed a little distracted. Nepoe had eaten most of Ronnie's fries at lunch and Ronnie hadn't yelled at him. Kono said that had made Nepoe cry for the first time.
"Thank you for doing the notification," Danny said, a warm hand on Kono's arm. She shrugged but it was clear it had affected her. When it was no longer hard to make notifications was when you had to leave law enforcement.
"We ran background on him," Steve said, looking up from the table he had been studying with far more intensity than it strictly needed. "Nepoe has no record. Not even a parking ticket."
"What about Ronnie's arrests for protesting?" Kono asked, looking up at the screens.
"Trivial arrests," Danny said. "No charges ever pressed. Mostly activism stuff. Save the whales. Withdraw from Iraq. What you'd expect from a Poli Sci major."
"Nothing worth being killed over," Chin said, watching the pictures move across the screens. "Max have anything yet?"
"Not yet. Danny's too scared to call and check," Steve claimed, watching Chin connect Ronnie's computer to the tech table.
"You keep believing that, Big Guy," Danny said, shaking his head. "This his computer from work?"
"Yeah. We didn't ask about a home computer," Kono said in realization. "We should have gotten it."
"Since he was killed at work, that's the most logical place to start," Chin told her. "This doesn't give us anything, we'll get his home computer."
We watched Chin pull up the computer files, all of the information pertaining to Ronnie's paintball job. There were invoices, purchase orders, email exchanges with vendors, a few emails from Olowalu Paintball Explosion players. All very ordinary, all very non-threatening.
"This is incredibly not helpful," Danny observed, saying out loud what we were all thinking. "He seemed to be very good at his job."
"That's what Ms Ueuna told me. He was efficient, thorough, a model employee. Except for being anti-guns. But his feeling was that people who played paintball didn't necessarily need to shoot real ones," Kono said.
"Nice rationalization," Danny said with a nod. "Did she tell you anything else?"
"No. She has no idea why Ronnie would have been there on his day off. And after dark. They close at sundown. Better for the environment not to install lights," Kono explained.
"Is it true you can rent it at night for private games?" Steve asked.
"You can," Chin agreed.
"Ms Ueuna said they haven't had a night session since last month. There weren't any this week. No one should have been there after dark," Kono said.
"Surveillance video?" Steve asked.
"No," Chin said, shaking his head. "They keep track of everyone who enters or exits when it's open. She said the corporation didn't see any need for surveillance. This might change their mind."
"Who owns Paintball Explosion?" I asked. I didn't know if the question was welcome or the information relevant but in my experience all information pertaining to a murder could be useful.
"Ms Ueuna said it's part of the Paintball Explosionchain. Two locations on the islands. Fourteen on the mainland," Kono said.
"Okay, okay," Steve said, bouncing on his toes. They had told me earlier that doing that meant his frustration was growing and if there wasn't some real action very soon, breakage would begin occurring. "Was there anything special about shelter 16? Any reason for him to have been there?"
"That shelter has a unit they use for storing extra supplies," Chin said, looking at the schematic that he found on Ronnie's computer.
"He was responsible for inventory control, right?" Steve asked.
"Why would he be looking into it after dark? On his day off?" Danny asked. "Are there other shelters that have storage units?"
"There are 10 shelters altogether. There are 6 that have storage, the smaller shelters. The 4 larger shelters have more picnic tables and larger barbeque pits," Chin said, pointing at the different shelters on the map.
"Shelters are often used for storage," I said, pointing at several of the smaller ones. "Paintballs take up a lot of room."
"You paintball often?" Chin asked me.
"Sometimes. Not a lot," I said with a shrug.
"If there are only 10 shelters, why was the one we were by called #16?" Kono asked, leaning closer to Danny to see the map.
"They start at 10," Chin said. "And there's no 13."
"That makes sense. I guess," Kono said. "Where does that leave us?"
"Kono, go over to Max's lab and see if he'll tell you anything," Steve ordered.
"Max is rendered speechless every time Kono gets near him," Danny said firmly. "We'll go. You keep looking through Ronnie's computer."
"Got it," Kono said with a nod, watching Danny practically drag Steve out of the bullpen.
"Why do they act like that?" I asked, watching them leave close together.
"Like what?" Chin asked absently, going through Ronnie's files.
"Like they are 13," I said quietly. It was rude, I knew. But I didn't think Chin or Kono would take offense from it.
"Because they are," Chin said, shaking his head and smiling at me in conspiracy.
"Oh totally," Kono said, winking at me before turning back to look at the computer files Chin was downloading. "You might want to go with them. For the amusement value if nothing else."
I decided she had a good point and hurried to catch up. They slowed for me, continuing their conversation with barely a pause.
"Let me do the talking," Danny instructed Steve as we approached Max's lab.
"Then we'll never find out anything. You'll talk so much our ears will bleed," Steve said.
"Har, har. You are quite the comedian. Oh my sides."
"Shut up," Steve finally said. I suspected he thought there was nothing else he could say that would even begin to slow down Danny. We entered Max's lab, the smell familiar and slightly unsettling, as always.
"Ah. Commander. Detective. I was preparing to call you with my preliminary results," Max said, straightening to look at us, pushing his glasses up his nose.
"What have you found?" Danny asked, focusing on Max. From the look on his face and his body language, I could tell that being up close with dead bodies didn't exactly freak him out, but all things being equal, he preferred visiting with the living. And who could blame him for that preference?
"Nothing," Max said, blinking and reminding me of an owl. Which frankly made very little sense even inside my own head. Maybe reading Harry Potter to my niece every night before I came to Hawaii had caused Hedwig to build a nest in my brain.
"Nothing," Steve repeated, looking down at Max, his face an interesting mix of dismay and incredulity.
"He was killed with a single shot to the head. Death caused by .223 caliber ammunition. TOD was approximately 0600 this morning based on amount of cooling of the core body temperature. Sunrise was at 7:09 a.m. We discovered the body about four hours after he was killed."
"Sunrise?" Danny asked.
"The amount of sun exposure helps to determine the TOD, Detective," Max said as though explaining it to a small, somewhat unintelligent child. I'm sure Danny didn't appreciate his tone but didn't react except for one shake of his head.
"Right," Danny said. "We found an impression in the grass 73 yards from the shelter. That would be from the shooter, right?"
"That is an acceptable hypothesis," Max agreed. "Any shell casing?"
"No," Steve said. "It was a professional job."
"Clearly," Max agreed, doing his owl-blinking again. "Otherwise, the victim was a healthy 26 year old male. No injuries. No illnesses. No suspicious substances found on the body."
"All right," Steve said. "This seems a dead end."
"Anything out of the ordinary on his clothes? His shoes?" Danny asked.
"There was mud on his shoes consistent with the terrain of the paintball park," Max said.
"It rained last night. It would make sense his shoes would have been muddy if he was there before daybreak," Danny said.
"But why was he there on his day off before the park was even open?" Steve asked, frustration evident in his tone.
"That's the big question," Danny agreed. "Let's go see what Chin has found."
Steve nodded, and after thanking Max, we returned to headquarters to find Chin and Kono still going through Ronnie's computer files.
"Anything?" Danny asked hopefully.
"Not yet," Chin said. I heard some frustration leaking into his tone which I was pretty sure was unusual for him. "Bills of lading. Invoices. Orders. Tracking numbers. All very ordinary and boring. Nothing worth being killed over."
"We probably need to get his home computer then," Kono suggested reluctantly. "Maybe it was something unrelated to Paintball Explosion."
"We don't have any reason to believe someone was targeting him," Chin reminded her. "Nepoe said Ronnie didn't have any enemies. And an AR-15 wouldn't be the choice weapon of a college student."
"Who would use one?" Kono asked. "Wouldn't there be a registry of them?"
"Theoretically they all have to be registered. But you can buy them at Wal-Mart," I pointed out.
"Great. I'll just get Steve a gift certificate there for his birthday," Kono said shaking her head in clear dismay.
"Guns, Gear, and Ammo would be even better," Danny told her to Steve's happy nods.
"There's no such thing, is there?" I had to ask, making Danny laugh. But no one answered my question which was fine. I'd Google it when I had time. If I remembered.
"I'm all for the 2nd Amendment," Kono said. "But really? High powered rifles at the same place you buy toilet paper and baby food?"
"You are right about that, cuz," Chin had to agree. "Makes our jobs harder."
"That's for sure," Kono said. "What now?"
"Now I have to go pick up my little girl from school. It's our day off and I have a dinner date," Danny announced happily.
"You're having dinner with Grace?" Steve asked. His expression was one that Danny had previously termed kicked-puppy-dog-face.
"It's Thursday, isn't it? Don't I always have dinner with Gracie on Thursday, providing you haven't blown up us or yet another warehouse?"
"Yeah," Steve agreed. "Where are you going for dinner?"
"I don't know. I usually let her decide," Danny reminded him, looking up at Steve's expression of barely hidden longing. "Would you like to join us, Steven?"
"If you're sure," Steve said, already heading into his office where he picked up his keys to the Camaro and to shut down his computer. "We'll take up again tomorrow morning."
Chin and Kono nodded in agreement, watching Steve and Danny leaving the office, Danny's hands more fully defining whatever critical point he was in the middle of making. I tried to stop from smiling at the manner of their departure but suspect I didn't fully succeed.
"I guess we should wrap it up too," Chin decided, powering down his tech table.
"Sounds good. Not really a day off, huh?"
"Typical," Chin said. "You ready?" he asked me before gathering his keys and phone. I agreed that I was and followed them out into the hallway, Chin locking the door behind us.
"Do you want to come have dinner with us?" Kono asked with genuine enthusiasm. "Malia is going to come. I know you want to meet her."
"I don't want to intrude," I said, glancing from Kono to Chin, both of whom were nodding.
"Please do come," Chin said, heading for the stairway. I followed them down and out, riding with Kono to the restaurant. Chin said he would meet us there after he had collected his wife from the hospital.