Cujo III Reloaded – This Time It's Personal
Here's the next. I hope you like it. Not a lot of Cujo in this one but he'll have lots to do before the story ends. There may even be some odd alliances.
A sincere thank-you to those who reviewed, alerted and favorited. This story really needs the encouragement you've so very kindly provided. It's proven to be the most difficult to write so far. I apologize if it shows.
Disclaimer: No money made from this and, as yet, no response to my petition to become a volunteer body-make-up person for the show, (though with my luck they'd have me applying it to Kamekona). I love the big guy mind you and I myself am a bit on the 'fluffy' side but I'd have to buy a spray gun.
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Arrest and Development
The heat wave seemed to have broken by the next morning. It was a bit cooler on the drive in. The man behind the wheel was happy that he could even comfortably wear a tie if he wanted to, (if the man next to him wouldn't threaten to cut it off his neck . . . again). Looking to his right, Danny was glad to see that Steve looked less pale than he had yesterday though the bruising had begun to turn yet another hue; this one the almost greenish color that morphs into the yellow displayed before it truly fades away.
So far, the ride this morning was a quiet one with both men lost in their own thoughts.
What's the connection between the coffee shops and the bookstores? thought the man in the passenger seat as he pondered that question for what seemed the hundredth time. What was causing the feeling he'd missed something? There'd been nothing to discover in the backgrounds of the employees. Most were just kids trying to make ends meet while they went to school with varying degrees of success. Finally, feeling that he'd better take a break before he short-circuited what were left of his brain cells after the concussion, he sighed and addressed his friend. May as well stick to routine.
"I don't know why I have to have this stupid piece of tape on my head Danny! There's no need for it. The stitches can come out tomorrow." Steve had intended to leave off the bandage but, at Danny's insistence, had placed another, (though narrower and less obtrusive), over the still healing wound.
"You're going to scare people Steven or at the very least make them lose their lunch. Having to stare at a bald patch with enough stitches in it to assemble a Raggedy Ann doll is kind of gross."
"Oh, and staring at a maxi-pad as you called it is a whole lot better?"
Danny smiled. He'd forgotten what he'd named the gigantic bandage decorating the side of his partner's head but it did look like one; startlingly similar to what Rachel used to send him on errands for when they were married. "I know it offends your finely honed sense of fashion but just remember you have your grey mamba to thank for it."
"Yeah, I reminded him this morning actually."
"Steven, please don't tell me you talk to your cat." grimaced Danny
"What do you mean? Everyone talks to their cats."
"Yeah, if by everyone you mean little old ladies who collect plastic grocery bags and empty margarine containers."
"What's wrong with empty margarine containers?" asked the bandaged man, sounding at once curious and defensive.
"Oh! My! God! You do that too, don't you?"
"It's called recycling Danny!"
"If next time I pull up to the front of your house and I see those little wooden signs that say things like, 'Cats are just little people with fur' or 'My grandkids are the flowers in my garden', I'm going to keep on driving."
"What are you talking about! I know cats are animals and . . . I don't even have grandkids!"
"And you're never going to either. Cats, plastic bags and margarine cup collections being such chick magnets and all."
"Hey, I'm not the one worried about lack of female companionship. Besides, you're the one who wound up taking his sister to his senior prom!"
"I knew I never shoulda told you that story! You know that the girl I was going to take came down with a migraine!"
"Yeah, that was her story anyway. You could've at least picked someone who was a little more creative when she dumped your ass."
"Says the man who took his girlfriend to an Army/Navy surplus store to buy her a birthday gift."
"Hey! Cath loves the surplus store . . . and she's not my girlfriend!"
Chin and Kono were already there when their leader and his second-in-command arrived and walked right past them while still engaged in noisy dispute. The cousins only smiled and shook their heads. Despite the events that had the city nearly in a panic there were some things that never changed.
The squabbling continued until they separated to go to their respective offices; Steve intending to again go through that report from his profiler friend at the F.B.I. while Danny reread the one he'd gotten from Lori. The missing member of the team had left D.C. when the conference ended and was visiting relatives before returning to Honolulu. Danny had sent her the information gathered so far and she'd taken the time to work up a report to send to him.
They still had to make the connection between the coffee shops and the bookstores.
One by one, Chin and Kono worked their way through the list of bookstore owners, looking for the link. Steve was positive it existed and, at first, his team was as well but now despaired of ever finding what the hell it is.
Little did the cousins know that despite the usual entertainment value of the aftermath of Steve and Danny's early morning commute, the day already had a seriously downhill slant.
There was no way he was going on this date with Dave Matsui. He picked up the phone for the third time intending to dial the number on the business card he'd pulled from his desk drawer. Dave had handed it to him when they made the uhh . . . date.
Danny had complicated matters yesterday when, in Steve's absence, he'd confirmed the appointment at the gun range on Tuesday.
Danny's definitely headed for another search through several steaming dumpsters, thought Steve darkly as his hand hovered over the keypad of his desk phone.
Over the years the commander had been aware there'd been admirers who were not female and though he certainly wasn't interested, it didn't bother him. Years of being in the military with the specter of Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell hanging over everyone meant there weren't as many openly gay people as in the civilian population but he'd never had any issues with anyone who is gay. Unfortunately, there still seemed to be too many who did have issues with it but he'd never been one of them.
There'd been that one time he'd had to correct a fellow SEAL who'd gotten a little too handsy at a post op get together. When Tim had sobered up, it was uncomfortable between them for a while but they'd eventually gotten past it. Steve had been invited to and had attended Tim's and John's commitment ceremony when D.A.D.T. had been repealed. It had been a joyous gathering of friends and fellow military both gay and straight.
Anyway, he's certainly not a homophobe and doesn't want to offend Dave but how is he going to explain the misunderstanding?
The most annoying part of this situation is that Danny is having way too much fun with it. Steve thinks his friend is being a jerk about not helping him find a polite way to get out of it. He knew this was one of those times when his partner's superior people skills would come in handy. As Danny had so frequently pointed out and he'd already suspected about himself for years, his own skills in that area are seriously lacking and really . . . how much more awkward could this get?
As if to rescue him from his own thoughts, the ring of an incoming call broke the silence.
"McGarrett" he answered as the I.D. showed him the call came from H.P.D.
"Yeah Duke. What's going on?"
"Looks like there's been another one."
"Another coffee shop murder?" he asked with dread
"Looks like the others but this one's not even in a coffee shop."
"Damn! Where is it?"
"Electronics store on Twenty First Street." answered the cop.
"You sure it's our guy?"
"Same M.O.: nothing taken, no apparent motive, throat cut."
"What's the address?" asked McGarrett as he stood and picked up his badge and I.D.; clipping his gun into its holster as he strode quickly out of his office.
Duke relayed the information as Steve motioned to the cousins to follow him.
"Got another one!" he barked as he leaned into Danny's door before rushing toward the parking lot his partner hot on his heels.
When the Camaro with Kono's Cruze behind it pulled up to the storefront location of Blue Lagoon Electronics and Computer Repair, KAEO's star reporter was already engaged in a heated discussion with a uniformed cop on the sidewalk in front of it. Locked in verbal combat, neither the woman nor the officer noticed Five-0's arrival.
"Dammit! How the hell did she get here so soon?" growled the tall man as he exited the Camaro. Chin and Kono glanced apprehensively at one another as they followed Steve and Danny to the source of the noisy exchange.
As the forebodingly grim commander strode toward her, Kiki looked up in anger with a muttered "Shit!"
"I've warned you before. You will be arrested if you persist in getting in the way at crime scenes. Now clear out!" said Five-0's leader as he strode up to the fuming reporter and the familiar uniformed cop.
"You can't make me leave! I have a job to do! Haven't you ever heard of Freedom of the Press!"
"I have heard of it yes but have you heard of the laws against impeding a law enforcement investigation?"
Turning toward the officer he asked, "What's going on with this woman, Miko?"
"Despite being ordered to stay back, she barged into the scene and walked through a puddle of blood and then tracked it back out to the walk." answered the red-faced Miko Kiliona already knowing if the reporter didn't back off immediately McGarrett would have her detained if not drawn and quartered.
With a barely concealed look of disgust, McGarrett barked "Arrest Ms. Kenworthy and book her for interfering with a police officer in the performance of his duty and for being an all-around pain in the ass. We'll let the station bail her out."
"You fucking asshole!" she yelled as she was led away by the now smirking Kiliona. "You're gonna pay for stopping a member of the press from doing her job."
"Ms. Kenworthy, you are about as much a member of the press as . . . "
"Steven, we've got more company." exclaimed Danny; gesturing toward the street.
Steve turned toward where Danny pointed and muttered, "Oh great" as another two news vans pulled up to the scene. It was odd they were so far behind KAEO's news crew. They jumped out to set-up their equipment as Talia, the little redheaded camerawoman, was busy getting shots of Kiki being arrested. Danny could actually see a smile on her face as she shouldered the camera and pointed it toward the enraged reporter. Kiki spotted her and going completely ballistic screamed, "You stupid bitch! Point that camera at the fucking crime scene! I'm gonna get your ass fired! I'm gonna get all your asses fired!"
Steve stood with arms crossed and a smug smile on his face as he watched Kiki being folded into the back of the black and white. He assumed she was threatening him as well. Let her do her worst. He didn't think Denning would give a rat's ass what the irate reporter wanted.
"This is gettin' old." said Danny as they walked toward the front door of the electronics store; not clarifying if he was commenting on the murder scene or the attitude of KAEO's finest as she was being busted and thrown into the back of a squad car.
They carefully avoided the still drying footprints that led away from the door and stepped around the pool of red that had collected just on the other side of the threshold.
The body lay behind the free standing display of brightly colored mousepads hanging on peghooks just inside the entrance.
He lay on his back; eyes filmed over and a surprised expression frozen on his face. There was a small screwdriver still clutched in one hand. The name badge pinned to his shirt read 'Matthew' and it had a smiley face sticker on it. The C.S.I.'s were busily unpacking their equipment also, having arrived just ahead of the last two news crews.
Just outside the doorway they heard someone loudly exclaim, "Oh God! Matt!"
"Danny, go outside and see what that's about." ordered Steve as he began his inspection of the scene. The disturbing scent of blood was strong in the now busy space. He was glad it was cooler today. In the heat, it would be even more unpleasant.
The detective stepped back out onto the sidewalk to see a distraught bearded youth who'd apparently dropped a cardboard carrier that had been holding two large Styrofoam cups of coffee. The brown liquid had splatted messily onto the kid's pant legs and then trailed across the walkway toward the gutter.
Reaching him in quick strides, Danny took his shoulder and steered him toward the patrol car parked at the curb a few feet away. He pulled open a rear door and had the young man sit with his legs dangling out onto the asphalt. With the kid's distraught and shaky appearance, Danny was worried he'd actually collapse before there was a chance to question him.
"I was only a couple minutes late!" moaned the ashen-faced boy.
Danny looked on in sympathy. This was going to be a long day for everyone except the victim.
Several hours later, they'd gathered all they could gather and returned dejectedly to H.Q. Someone had turned on the television and streamed its images to the big screen in the main room where they stood gathered around the smart table. The latest murder was featured on every local station; preempting even the usual reruns of Gilligan's Island. No one had any doubt it would soon make it to the national news as well. At least two of the local channels had footage of Kiki Kenworthy as she was being stuffed into a squad car. Other than the newscaster's voiceover there was no audio to the clip but if one read lips, (or even if one didn't), it wasn't difficult to make out what she was saying.
Of course KAEO hailed her as an unjustly detained heroine. It was actually the station's news director who'd sent the video file to their competitors. It got their footage, credited or not, shown on the other stations and besides, he'd had enough of the overly ambitious viper's attitude. The last straw was when she'd threatened to have his best cameraperson fired for not shooting her 'good' side during a staged interview with a local politician. As far as he was concerned, the woman had no good side.
Doris McGarrett unlocked the front door and went quickly inside to disarm the alarm system. She was here to get the last of her stuff to take to her new place. Just a couple more boxes and a few pieces of clothing and, oh yeah, that box of costume jewelry she kept forgetting.
She looked around cautiously, trying to spot the evil little shithead that seemed to have a personal vendetta against her. Why Stevie would even put up with such a creature she had no idea.
Spotting neither hide nor hair of the feline, she set down her bag on the table beside the door and walked up the stairs to her now former bedroom. She'd insisted on taking Mary's old room instead of taking over the master bedroom she and John had once shared.
It didn't seem right to make Steve move out the room that was now his and . . . well, it just didn't seem right.
Entering her most recent ex-bedroom, she went directly to the closet to pull out the last two boxes of her belongings and grab the two jackets that hung there. Setting it all on the bed, she turned toward the dresser to get the jewelry box.
Uh oh. The lid was open.
Now, gathered around the smart table, the team discussed what they'd found and, again, it wasn't much.
It was Danny that gave the first summation: "Despite not being a coffee shop this time, all indications are that it's probably the same killer. He's settled on a definite M.O. of disabling the surveillance cameras and waiting until the employees are opening for the day before using a knife to cut their throats."
"You think the killer waits inside the stores to ambush the employees when they come to open up?" asked Kono
"That's a good possibility. We haven't found anything that says he does but we haven't found anything that says otherwise." answered the Jersey detective.
"The only reason this murder was discovered later in the day is because the electronics shop didn't open until ten. We're still waiting for Max to confirm the T.O.D. but it looks like this one was dead for a bit longer than the others before the body was discovered." stated Steve
"Danny and I compared the report we got from Lori and the one from my friend at The Bureau and the two were nearly identical in the profile of the killer. We're probably looking for a middle-aged white guy who may have issues with a younger lifestyle. Almost all of the victims were in their late teens or early twenties except for that one store manager and he may just have been collateral damage."
Added the Jersey detective, "There was most likely some sort of trauma, physical or psychological that triggered the killings."
"Well, Denning's going to lose it over this one. Actually, the entire city may lose it over this one." said Chin glumly
"Yeah, if coffee shops aren't safe and now electronics stores are on the killer's radar; things are gonna get pretty tense." added Kono
"Shit" echoed both Steve and Danny at the same time; no doubt expressing the sentiment of all four people gathered around the smart table.
The sleek little cat sat at the open doorway watching the tall female. She'd just picked up the box that held the sparkly things. Well, there weren't as many sparkly things in it as there used to be. Many of them were now in his hiding place. She couldn't have them. They were his now.
The female turned toward him with an angry look on her face. He was familiar with angry expressions. They didn't scare him. The loud man wore one quite often.
"McGarrett" answered the SEAL in his usual abrupt way.
"Could you please come and get your little monster away from me!"
"He's got me trapped in the closet and he won't let me out."
"Well, you did squirt him with perfume. I'm sure he hasn't forgotten it. He's got a pretty long memory for stuff like that."
"Whatever! Just come get the little asshole before I have to do something we're both going to regret."
"You wouldn't hurt him!"
"Don't be so sure. The little bastard stole my jewelry!"
"What do you mean he stole your jewelry? What would a cat want with jewelry?"
Danny's face began to crack into a very, very, large smile as he listened to one side of the conversation. Yes, there is a God.
"When I got here, the box I keep it in was open on top of the dresser and half the stuff in it was missing. He's already made off with my earrings twice! It couldn't be anyone else. The alarm system you've got here is loud enough to alert Baltimore when it goes off."
"Mom, I've got a case. I can't come home right now. You'll just have to deal with him."
"I can't. I have work to do."
"One word for you."
"What word is that?"
Turning to Danny, he said, "Give me the keys. I'll be right back. Have to rescue my mom from Cujo."
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No promises about ETA for next chapter but it shouldn't be too far away. Actually know what I want to put into it for a change.
Please review if you're so inclined.