Blood Brothers
By Peg Keeley

Part 3


Danny left Steve's office determined to see Nina Conner. He had a class at three o'clock but there was still time to check on her. It has been more than twelve years and I am still so rattled by just the mention of Caputos that my hands are shaking. Caputo has come for a purpose. What is it? To show that he is better than his old man. To show whom? A crime family? Us?

He chose his parking place with care being certain that the car was in a highly visible spot, no places to hide close by and no way someone could tamper with it unnoticed. He locked it.

There had been a pretty steady stream of people to visit Nina so that she had spent little time actually alone outside of ICU. Every hour the nurse came and let her see Max for five minutes. For those terrible five minutes she would gaze upon the man she loved reduced to a frail being kept alive by chemicals and machinery.

She staring unseeing towards the blank wall, awaiting the next brief visiting time and taking mental account of what might lie ahead. Motion at the door caught her attention and she looked to see Danny in the doorway. A brief smile broke over her contemplative features. "Danny."

He had not missed the hollow look of despair she had attempted to hide. "Nina." He gave her a quick hug. "How are you doing?"

She forced a thin smile. "What is it they say? 'As well as can be expected.' I don't know what to expect, Danny. I don't know what to do."

He sat down beside her. "Is there anything I can do for you?"

"The last time I saw him was yesterday afternoon," she said quietly. "He asked me if I would mind if he waited to trim the hedges until Saturday. He promised he'd do them first thing..." her voice choked. "O God, what has happened to us?" She gave up trying to hold the tears back and they brimmed her eyes, then slid down her dark cheeks. "What is to become of us, Danny?"

"Have the doctors said anything?"

She hugged herself tightly. "He is alive. He came through surgery. They did some kind of brain scans following surgery. Didn't tell me anything." She shivered. "What if they want me to pull the plug, Danny? What will I do?"

He wanted to assure her that would not happen, but he knew better. "Take it one step at a time."

She glanced at her watch and rose. "It's time."

As if on cue, the heavy wooden door opened and a nurse appeared. "Mrs. Conner, you may come back now."

Nina turned quickly to Danny. "Come with me."

"All right," he placed a gentle hand on her shoulder.

The sights and smells of the critical care unit were not new to Danny. The personnel and equipment might change but the atmosphere of hope and dread was always there, unchanging. Moments of miracles lightened the hours of dark and painful waiting and everyone connected with a life contained in these halls prayed the next miracle would be theirs. Not everyone was so fortunate. Nina went directly to the small cubical where Max lay, head wrapped in bandages, a ventilator tube taped into his mouth, wires and IV tubing strung everywhere. Danny watched somberly, floods of memories most of which were not good rushing over him.

Nina gazed at Max, holding his unresponsive hand, talking quietly to him, telling him to be strong, to come back, that she loved him. The five minutes passed quickly. Leaving him was painfully difficult. What if he dies? I want to be there every second, share every moment of his life.

Danny quietly led her back to the waiting room, wishing there were words to say that would help ease the agony she was experiencing.

A doctor in a three-piece suit with a stethoscope thrown over one shoulder was waiting for them. "Mrs. Conner?"

She nodded, wiping a tear away. She glanced at Danny, fear plain on her face.

"I am Dr. Abramson. I am the head of your husband's trauma team," he began as he motioned them to the couch.

Nina perched herself stiffly on the edge of the seat. "Yes, I remember from this morning."

"We have completed the initial studies of Mr. Conner's injuries." He paused to take a breath, watching her carefully. "Mrs. Conner, the damage was confined to the occipital area of the brain. It is likely that Mr. Conner will have severe memory loss. He may also lose his vision. The other bullet severed his spinal cord just below his neck."


"Yes, ma'am."

"Then he is paralyzed," she whispered.

"Yes, ma'am. Completely."

"Completely?" she whispered, numb with shock. "He can't even breathe for himself?"

"A ventilator is breathing for him," the doctor said quietly. "Right now we are attempting to control the swelling of the brain and wait."

"How long?" she murmured bluntly.

"Well, that is hard to say," he answered.

"How long until I have to make the choice?" Her face was like stone.

Abramson glanced from her to Danny. "Well -- right now let's just wait and see."

She weakly put her face in her hands. She knew things would never be the same again. As Abramson walked away she whispered to Danny: "How will I ever make that decision?"

He placed an arm around her. "Right now you don't have to. And if they want you to, don't until you know it is right, no matter what anybody says."


Lonnie hoped to be the first one out the door of the middle school, clear the block's distance to Cook Elementary, and have Audrey safely hidden away on the school bus for home before Konito and Harpy had even thought about who they could terrorize first after school. The buzzer sounded announcing the end of the last class and Lonnie shoved his choir music into the cubby and snatched up his books from under his chair.

"Lonnie," Mrs. Jones called him back.

He froze. Not today, Mrs. Jones, can't you see I'm in a hurry. "Yes, Ma'am." He walked to where she stood behind the piano.

"I don't have your permission slip for ensemble yet."

"No, Ma'am," he murmured.

"You are going, aren't you?"

He fingered the edge of his notebook. Time is wasting. Where's Konito? Waiting for me?

"Lonnie, are you listening to me?" Mrs. Jones asked, oblivious to his fears.

"Yes, Ma'am. I-um I need to have my Dad sign it."

"Tell him it is very important. I have someone from the voice academy I want to hear you. You have great potential, Lonnie. You know that, right?'

He stared at the floor, cheeks flushing crimson. Mrs. Jones often praised his vocal talent, frequently before other students who would shun him for days. "I'll have him sign it, Ma'am," he replied, eyes still glued on the floor. Before she could go on, he darted from the room, knowing he had lost the hope of getting onto the bus early. The hallways were still filled with middle school students, yelling, slamming metal locker doors, papers skittering around in the hallway accompanied by lost pens and pencils. Lonnie grabbed his math book tossed his others books into the locker. Maybe they have already gone. He hesitated at the door outside as others streamed past him. Taking a deep breath, he broke into a dead run up the street towards the line of buses parked before Cook Elementary. Students were running out of doorways and across the lawns, jumping onto bikes, into cars, and up the steps of buses.

A body moved out directly into Lonnie's path and he collided, then bounced off, stumbling backward.

"Going somewhere, Lonnie?" It was Rolli, grinning as he chewed a wad of gum. Two other boys, both wearing black baseball caps appeared from the throng on kids.

"Is this kid messin' with you, Rolli?" one asked jabbing a finger at Lonnie. The boy was big, roughly Konito's size. Lonnie recognized him as Hank; he played for the high school freshman football team. He moved up close till Lonnie was eye to eye with the Nike logo on Hank's T-shirt.

Lonnie felt his heart racing and swallowed to try to slow his breathing. His legs felt like Jell-O as he dared to cast a quick glance around. Where is Audrey? Maybe she's on the bus. I hope she stays there.

Rolli gave a whiney giggle. "'Iole iki here thinks he a tough guy. He didn' pay his toll."

"Is that so?" Hank asked. "No toll, huh?" He glared down at Lonnie.

"Toll?" Lonnie murmured.

"Yeah, this sidewalk, this street this is all 'Iwi o'po 'Ele'e'e land. You pay us to walk on it."

Lonnie shuffled his feet. "I don't see anybody else payin' you." He hoped to find a way to escape. What did Dad tell me once? If you are someone's target, move the target. No shame in running. But he knew he could not run.

"You pay cause you messed with my blood brother," Hank placed a hand on Rolli's shoulder.

Lonnie could hear his heart pounding in his ears as Hank flexed his muscles under his T-shirt. "It was an accident," Lonnie replied. "I need to get to my bus. I got no money. I'll pay you tomorrow." He took a step backward and bumped against someone behind him. There was the rev of engines as the buses began to move.

"Awe, ain't that too bad," the one behind him murmured. "Lonnie's missed his bus." Harpy was a pudgy eighth grader. He tauntingly pushed Lonnie in the back.

Hank jabbed Lonnie's chest with his index finger, pushing him back towards Harpy. The curious were starting to gather. There were jeers and tittering. "I think he's gonna cry!" Hank tooted towards Harpy.

Rolli burst into a serious of wild giggles.

Lonnie glanced quickly around the collecting faces, praying for someone, anyone who would be on his side, offer support, offer a diversion -- save him. There was no one. Lonnie made a quick move left, hoping to escape in the growing crowd, but Hank anticipated him and caught his arm, delivering a punch to Lonnie's left cheek.

Lonnie sprawled onto the dusty ground and his face, stunned. He had never in his life been struck before. The shock of the blow paralyzed him momentarily. He spit dust out of his mouth.

There was a metallic whisper as Harpy yanked out a length of chain. The cluster of kids broke into open calls and yelling.

The chain cracked across Lonnie's ribs where he still lay on his stomach on the ground, knocking the breath out of him. He cried out, trying to get away as the feet of bystanders scuffled around him, scuffing up dust. The chain struck him again.

Rolli danced around laughing hysterically.

As the chain raked across Lonnie's back a third time, there was a sudden motion within the crowd, the feet all scattered away to give wide berth as Lonnie heard Hank give a sudden yell.

The stocky high schooler was lifted off of the ground and thrown to the side, followed almost instantly by a yelp of pain from Harpy as a fist connected with his nose.

Lonnie, lying on the ground, arms over his head, peeked out in astonishment to see a tall, lean boy standing over Harpy, hands on hips as if daring the bully to move.

"Kind of a brute, aren't you?" the boy demanded of Harpy.

Harpy was wiping the blood from his nose as his fat fingers closed over the chain on the ground.

"Oh please," the newcomer gave a broad smile. "Go for it. Make my day," he said in sincere Clint Eastwood fashion.

Lonnie felt a hand tap his shoulder and rolled over to see BJ beside him. "What's happening?" Lonnie asked in wonderment.

BJ grinned. "I told you that you needed buddies, Lonnie."

"Who's he?"

The boy turned and smiled at him. "I'm BJ's buddy." He turned his attention back to Harpy and Hank. "Beat it you skinny skulls. And get a message back to fat Konito. Tell him to leave my Hawaiian brothers alone unless he wants to answer to Wela Ula."

Harpy, Hank, and Rolli scrambled back as the cluster of onlookers parted for them, then began to break up. "We won't forget this!" Hank screamed back, shaking a fist.

Ignoring them, the boy turned back to Lonnie. "You okay?" He helped the younger boy to his feet.

Lonnie nodded, dusting the dirt from his jeans. "I'm fine. Thanks. Who are you?"

"Paul Llano."

"He's in high school," BJ piped in. "He drives a car and everything."

Lonnie noticed the red bandana tried around Paul's bicep. Before he could give a thought, he noticed Audrey standing on the sidewalk a few steps away, eyes large and round.

"You okay?" she asked.

"Of course," he answered, trying to look casual.

"We missed the bus," she murmured.

He gazed at the empty bus lot. Now what do I do? I can't call Dad. It's a two-mile walk. Audrey will complain all the way. "We'll walk, Audrey. Don't worry, it isn't that far."

Her face turned into a pout. "I can't walk that far. You call Danny."

Grinding his teeth Lonnie said fiercely, "No. He told me to bring you straight home after school. That's what we're gonna do." He picked up his backpack, wincing as the sore ribs complained.

"Hey, Lonnie, Paul can give you a ride home," BJ suggested. "Right, Paul?"

"Yeah, sure. I got nothing special happening," Paul replied. He winked at Audrey. "It's a really cool car. Chicks dig it."

She stared at him. "Really?"

"White convertible Cornet," he replied. "See it?" He pointed towards the car near the curb about twenty yards away.

Her eyes lit up. "Yeah!"

Lonnie scowled. This was all getting away from him. Years of warning about accepting rides from strangers flooded his mind. "No, Audrey, we can't."

"Why not?" BJ asked.

"Because ---" he hesitated.

Paul laughed. "Because your Dad said not to accept rides from strangers?" He guessed.

Lonnie forced an uncomfortable nod.

"Well, what kind of a way is that to treat the guy who just saved you. Hank and those over brainless blackheads are around somewhere. They could jump you again." Paul spun his car keys in his hand. "Besides," he gave a shrug, "I'm not a stranger. You know my name, right?"

Audrey was already climbing into the back of the car. "Come on, Lonnie!"

Lonnie gave a regretful shrug and miserably got into the car. This was an awful day.


Steve had not felt this kind of anxiety in a long time. The weight of the office of Five-0 had been easy to bare for so many years, yet now was almost frightening. Files on the three comptroller candidates in his attaché, he headed for Danny's office at the university. It will be safe there -- at least I think so. Has Danno been working for Max? I thought he was, but he never said anything. He certainly didn't know about Caputo.

The door to the office was standing open, something not unusual for Dr. Dan Williams "open-door" policy with his students.

"Danno?" Steve called as he entered.

Danny sat behind his desk, but Steve's eye was drawn to the movement in a facing chair as Carrie Donagon rose. "Hello, Steve," she said with a smile.

He gave a nod. "Good afternoon, Ms. Donagon. Am I interrupting anything?" I have seen this relationship coming for over a year now. I am amazed that Danny hasn't seen it. It is obvious by the way she looks at him. How do I feel about that? I wish I liked her.

"Not at all, Steve," Danny assured him. "Carrie has been asking about history of Five-0."

"History?" Steve repeated.

"Well, Five-0 is the talk of the town right now," Carrie offered with a smile. "I hoped to get a scoop from Five-0's former -- and now newest chief."

"Temporary, Ms. Donagon, just temporary," Steve reminded her. "It is still Max Conner's department. Just what kind of scoop am I supposed to give you?"

"Please call me Carrie," she supplied. I don't think I will ever get Danny's interest if McGarrett hates my guts. They are too close.

He gazed at her. "All right -- Carrie." It was difficult for him to say. "What kind of scoop do you want from me -- Carrie."

Appearing ignorant of his discomfort, which she was not, Carrie continued. "Danny has helped me rebuild some of Five-0's past. I know there is so much you could tell me."

He gave a tolerant nod. "Why don't you tell your readers this: I am going to bring Max Conner's shooter to justice. I will hound that person until he cannot breathe without seeing me in his shadow. And I will put him away." As he spoke, his anger built, his fist clenched.

Danny pursed his lips and looked out of the window.

Carrie was not put off. "Do you have a suspect?"

Danny and Steve's eyes met. "Not for the record," Steve replied more quietly.

Carrie gave a quiet smile she hoped looked friendly and trustworthy. "And off the record?"

He fired a glance towards Danny. What as he told her? And instantly felt ashamed that he doubted Williams. What is the phrase? All is fair in love and war. "That is just that -- off the record."

She toyed with her pencil. "I took a little time to do my homework, McGarrett. There are three candidates for comptroller's office of casinos. Have you heard about that?"

He fired another look towards Danny who returned a mildly surprised one.

"Oh, he didn't tell me," Carrie hastened to add. "It's public record -- if you look in the fine print on the back of the newspaper under public announcements. It was mentioned nine days ago who the three candidates are."

"What do you want -- Carrie?" Steve demanded.

"I want to know what you think about that."

Danny winced, half-expecting Steve to explode. Carrie does have a way of irritating people. I guess she must be used to that kind of heat.

Steve did not reply for several seconds. "Sit down, Ms. Donagon."

She blinked.

"Sit down."

She did, looking expectant, recorder turned on.

He placed his attaché on the desk and pressed the two latches that opened with simultaneous snaps. "I imagine you have seen death in the course of your job, am I right?"

She nodded.

He drew out a thick portfolio of papers. "Ever lose a friend or a colleague on the job?"

She blinked again. "Once."

"Do you remember it?"

"Of course," she whispered, her mind flashing back to the night she and her cameraman had an auto accident racing to a story. I have worked hard for years to put away that night...the look of Mark's face as the life faded from his eyes...the smell of gasoline and death...the sounds...his wife...I was driving.

McGarrett waited, knowing well what was going through her mind. "Not a pleasant memory, is it?" he said quietly. He opened the flap and started dropping photos into Carrie's lap. "Truck Hauana. Frank Kamana. Ben Kokua. Nick Takea. Lori Wilson. James Carew. Kono Kalahuna. Sam Lukela. Noelani Ka'chelauli'i." He paused a moment. "Dan Williams." He dropped the last picture into her lap.

She sat pale-faced staring at the scattered photos of tortured people.

Danny walked out of the office.

Steve brought his face close. "You still want to know how I feel about the son of Eugene Caputo on this Island seeking a political office?"


The black Mercury Monarch turned into the circular drive, past the decorative palms and Spanish bayonet, and came to a stop before the broad flat flagstone steps that led up to the large double doors of the large house. A man in a suit and tie stepped swiftly from the car and rang the doorbell.

A large, serious looking man answered the door.

Gordon Mack knew the guard who had opened the door carried a handgun under his jacket. The bulge was poorly concealed. "I need to see Caputo."

Victor Amoranz recognized him and stepped back to permit him to enter. "I'll ask-"

"Now," Gordon snapped.

Victor was unimpressed. "Wait here."

He did, but not patiently and he nervously drummed his fingers on the small table in the hallway that supported a potted flower.

"Aha! Gordon!" Caputo appeared in the doorway. "Good of you to visit." He smiled broadly.

"Don't know how good it is," Gordon muttered. "There's somebody watching the house."

Junior smiled. "Yeah, kind of cool, isn't it." He peeked through the blind. "Five-0 guy or a HPD detective is my guess. Too alert to be FBI."

"Get serious," Gordon snapped. "The word is McGarrett is back."

Eugene chuckled. "I am impressed."

"You hired me as your attorney, Caputo. As your legal advisor -"

"What? As my legal advisor what!" Eugene challenged returning to his office as Mack tailed him.

"You need to be very careful."

"About what? Am I doing anything wrong?" he demanded. "You are watchin' my books. Watchin' everything I say, everywhere where I go -- you're like a little mother. How could I be doin' anything wrong?" He spread his arms wide.

"Max Conner."

"Max Conner what?" Caputo retorted.

"Word is that you did it."

"The word? Whose word?"

"It's not a long reach, Junior. McGarrett is gonna try to pin this to you."

He laughed again. "Let him try."

"Can he do it?"


"What happened to Conner?"

"I just know what I read in the papers, Mack." He shrugged. "My theory is one of my competitors wants me to look bad."

Gordon considered that for a moment. "I don't think any of them has the balls. But you -- you've got the motive and the balls."

"Thank you very much -- I think. I didn't do nothing, Gordon, so put your heart back in your chest. It is cool. You got that? Cool." Caputo poured a drink. "Join me?"

"No thanks," Gordon replied nervously and headed towards the door. "You ax a cop and I can't protect you, Caputo. There's too much history, too much past for that." He left.

Eugene shook his head and walked back towards the kitchen. A basketball game was playing on a small TV set on the counter where Bruno Luccio sat perched on a barstool with a large sandwich and a beer. "Bruno, did you lose that gun like I said?"

"Yeah, boss," he replied, only half his attention away from the Celtics.

"What'd you do with it?"

"Dropped it off a pier like you said."

"And it's gone."

"Yeah, Boss." He took a drink of Coors and belched.

Eugene shook his head. "You're a pig, Bruno." He left the room.

Bruno shook his head. Maybe I'm a pig, but I ain't a fool. And I didn't throw no $1000 Beretta in the ocean either.


The white convertible Cornet pulled off the tarmac and turned down to the small tin and woven grass shack that was half-hidden in the weeds and undergrowth amongst the trees about a hundred yards back from the quiet road. As the car stopped, six boys and two girls ranging in age from twelve to seventeen came up from around the shack to greet Paul and the others. Paul jumped over the car door, exchanged slapping handshakes with the boys, swung one squealing girl up into his arms and rubbed her nose with his in the traditional Hawaiian kiss. BJ also joined the bunch, leaving Lonnie uncomfortably exchanging hot looks with Audrey.

"We going home?" Audrey whispered.

"Told you this was a bad idea," he muttered angrily, imagining that when Danny found out, he'd be the one blamed for this.

Paul spun back towards the car. "Hey! Meet da new bradduh!" He gestured towards Lonnie and Audrey.

Like the children of never-never land led by Peter Pan, the group followed Paul to the car. Their curious chatter faded away to silence as they stared uncomfortably at Audrey.

Lonnie felt embarrassment rising in his face as he glanced from one brown Hawaiian face to the next. Audrey's blonde features seemed stark and unwanted.

"This is Lonnie," Paul continued, without apology or hesitation, "and his kaukini haole Audrey."

There were a few scowls and looks of confusion.

"My Dad said to go straight home," Lonnie muttered.

"Not to worry," BJ spoke up. "It would have taken an hour or more to walk home." He shrugged. "So just spend it with us. He doesn't have to know."

"Will Danny be mad," Audrey whispered, beginning to come aware that they were in the wrong place.

Lonnie sighed, his shoulders sagging. "Not if you don't tell him."

"Yeah, guys, come on," Paul called to the others. "Lonnie, come get a drink." He motioned to the girl he had been so affectionate with. "Hannah. How about showing Audrey how you make those shell necklaces."

She agreed with a kind smile. "Sure." She waved to Audrey. "Come on, Sweetie, we can make some stuff to sell the tourists." She led Audrey away to where she had several barrels of small shells and a wooden bench to sit on while working under the shade of a tree.

Paul tapped Lonnie on the arm. "Come on, Bro, she'll be fine." He directed Lonnie inside the shack were there were old beer and soda cans -- crushed and uncrushed -- bits of empty food wrappers, trash, and other assorted odds and ends tossed about. The few pieces of furniture had been liberated from trash piles and looked like it. "Lonnie, these guys will be your new brothers." Paul gestured around to the other boys who had followed them inside. "We pledge to protect each other, fight for each other to the death. We are bonded together by blood."

"Blood?" Lonnie murmured wondering if they were going to cut their fingers and stuff like he remembered from Indians in old westerns.

"We are all Hawaiian -- you are Hawaiian. Unless we stand together proud of who we are, the Haole win. We cannot be pushed under the feet of the Haole. They want us to be like them, go to their schools, speak their talk. We are the Wela Ula -- defenders of the true Hawaii."

The boys around cheered, jumped up and down and slapped each other, laughing.

"Are they gonna cut my arm or something?" Lonnie mutter to BJ.

"No man, no need. We are all born blood brothers," he replied.

Paul put his hand on Lonnie's shoulder and squeezed slightly. "Today you were saved by the brotherhood. The 'Iwi o'po 'Ele'e'e can not hurt you again because you are part of us. They are afraid of us!"

The boys broke into new cheers and shouts. A few made remarks about the manhood qualities of the rival gang.

Paul raised his hands in a comical attempt at seriousness. "Now, this is a serious occasion!" He pulled a red bandana out of a tissue box in a corner and dusted it off. "Everyone who finds their heritage and joins with us receives the colors and a new name." He pulled a paint marker from the same tissue box. "Name! You must have a name!"

"A warrior name!" one high school boy shouted.

"No, a girl's name!" a younger member giggled and the first one punched him in the shoulder.

"Warrior name!" another boy agreed with the first, having witnessed the punishment of the second.

"A royal name!" put in BJ.

Paul turned to BJ. "A royal name?" He gave Lonnie a half smile. "Are you royalty, Lonnie?"

He glanced at the floor, embarrassed. Why do I want to be accepted by these guys? They are a gang! I am not supposed to be here!

"He ain't no royalty, he's a half breed coconut boy," a middle school boy remarked. "He ain't really one of us. He brown outside but white haole inside."

"Hey!" BJ retorted angrily, "he is one of us!"

Lonnie wished a hole could open up in the floor and swallow him. How did I get into this mess? What will they do to me now? I know where they hide out. Will they beat me up, too?

Paul let the noise of the argument die down. "Okay, so everybody has an opinion." He twisted the blank bandana in his fingers. "I think Lonnie needs a name that will remind the rest of us that we are his brothers." He carefully began to write with the paint marker in gold lettering on the red fabric. KOKO. "Your name is Koko -- Blood -- because you are of our blood. The blood of warriors and the blood of royalty. You decide if your blood runs true." He held out the painted bandana towards Lonnie. "Will you accept the color of your heritage and your name?"

Lonnie stared at the bandana in Paul's outstretched hand, then at BJ. He slowly took the bandana from Paul, glancing around the group wondering if someone would object.

Paul burst into a smile. "I give you Koko!"

The whole group burst into cheers and back slapping-even those who moments before had been objecting.

BJ smiled broadly, like the father of a newborn son. "See? I told you this would be better. You watch, Lonnie, ain't none of them Black Skulls gonna touch you while you're wearing your colors!"

"Wearing---" Lonnie stopped. I can't do this! My dad will kill me! I can't be in a gang. What if he finds out? What if Mrs. Jones finds out? Boy, I'm gonna get it!

"We all have our brother names here," Paul explained quietly as he drew Lonnie aside away from the roughhousing boys and took him outside the shack into the sunshine. "Mine is Koa - the brave one." Lonnie could see Audrey under the shake tree giggling as she made shell necklaces with Paul's girlfriend. "I know what you're thinking," Paul commented to Lonnie.

He looked up at the tall teenager. I doubt it.

"Your Dad -- your haole Dad -- said to stay away from gangs. Now here you are. Hum?"

Lonnie looked down at the ground and sighed.

"He doesn't understand, Lonnie. He wants you to live his nice haole life where he looks like a saint for keeping his half-breed son. He wants you to be like him. You can never be like him. You are Hawaiian. He probably has made all those generous moves about showing you some of your heritage. He showed you what he wanted you to see. But when he dates a girl, what color is her skin?"

Lonnie picked his brain trying to recall the last time his dad had even had a date. He spends all his time on us. He never goes anywhere. But he did not share that with Paul.

Paul motioned towards Audrey. "Now there is your kaukini -- your cousin. She lives with you too, right?"

Lonnie wondered how Paul knew so much about him.

"You see, haoles stick together," Paul whispered into Lonnie's ear. "And that's okay. We're Hawaiian, and we stick together. Things have been different since she came, right?"

Lonnie tried not to give an answer, but his expression gave him away.

"See?" Paul continued. "There's nothing wrong with wanting to be with your blood brothers -- Koko." He tugged Lonnie'e bandana. "This is what you have been missing. Now you belong. It won't matter here if you are short."

Lonnie frowned. "There's nothing wrong with being short," he blurted hotly.

"Then why are you so mad about it?" Paul asked. "Who told you that anyway? Your Dad?" He laughed gently. "Trust me, Koko, you need help or you need to learn Karate. Maybe both." He crossed his arms and gazed at nothing. "Okay, just think about it. If you decide not to be part of Wela Ula, just leave that scarf home tomorrow. I won't let the brothers ever ask you again -- but they won't intervene either. But I'd better warn you, Konito's gang thinks you are one of us now. How long are you gonna last next time?"


Steve had accompanied Danny home. They were discussing the status of Max's case as well as the governor's appointments as they came through the door into the cottage, Chinese food in hand. Audrey was building a dollhouse out of Lego blocks. Lonnie sat at the dining table, a textbook and two volumes of the encyclopedia spread out before him.

"Dinner time, Lonnie," Danny interjected into the middle of the conversation. "Get the table cleared off."

Lonnie slammed the book shut hotly. "I'm tryin' to do my work here."

If either man heard him, they did not seem to notice. Steve was commenting on the stakeout Louie was keeping of Caputo's residence. "I told him to call in anyone he needs to keep the heat on. I want Junior to get the message loud and clear that nothing changes since Max's shooting. I'm going to haunt him till I catch him or till I drive him off this rock."

Danny set out the little cardboard cartons and chop sticks. "Eat, guys."

Audrey left her building and ran over. "Not that funny food again." She wrinkled up her nose. "I want a fork."

Danny reached into the drawer to get her one.

"You need to learn to eat with chop sticks," Lonnie grumbled at her. "You aren't in New York anymore, you know. People in this culture eat with chop sticks."

"But I don't want to!" she protested.

"Lonnie, leave her alone." Danny scowled at him.

He plopped angrily into the chair.

Steve's sharp eye noticed Lonnie's face. "Something happen to you today?"

"Me?" He looked over at the man he would usually have worshipped, this time in fear. "No. Nothing."

"Your left cheek looks a little swollen," Steve persisted.

Danny was looking closely at him, too. Lonnie waved a quick hand. "No, nothing. I bumped into a locker. Maybe something like that." He fired a look at Audrey who focused on twirling Chinese noodles through her fork.

Steve allowed his mind to go back to the urgent issue at hand. "According to Max's notes, Junior is doing a good job of riding the line on this," Steve commented. "Max had not been able to crack who his front people were."

"I was looking into Michael James, the governor's number one guy on the decision committee," Danny answered. "He was into the rackets under Alika a number of years ago. But nothing new. He's been a representative to the state house from Maui for the last two years. Still has controlling interest in a real estate firm there. Only contact with Caputo on that one is that he sold property to a Gordon Mack for a pretty hefty piece of change about two months ago."

"Gordon Mack? The attorney?"

He nodded. "The same one who used to advise Tony Alika."

"Hum," Steve commented through a bite of bean sprouts. "Gordon Mack buys property from Michael James then is seen entering Eugene Caputo's home today?"

"Circumstantial," Danny commented.

Steve nodded. "But worth following up with. What does he plan to do with the property?"

"Nothing going up yet. Zoned for tourist commercial. Maybe a hotel. My guess is casino."

"Did he get the property at fair market value?" Steve fired back.

"I have to still check into that one. I don't have a lot of time to run to Maui," Danny replied.

"I'll send Richard Quinn out there."

Danny forced a smile. "Trying to get him out of your hair?"

Steve shook his head. "He's the type of shoot off his own foot."

Danny did not give an opinion. "You know this thing for Junior is a pride issue as much as business. Imagine the feather in his cap for out doing his old man and uncle. They failed here. The Don or Godfather or whomever they all answer to back in Chicago will really notice if he wins this one."

"Wins?" Steve muttered. "Like the game that Gino and Tony played?"

Danny poked at the box of Chinese noodles. "We'll get him, Steve. We have to." He was quiet for a moment. "There's not a day goes by but that I don't remember what they did. Ben, Nick, Frank, Truck, Lori..."

Steve sat silent, knowing Danny had left out the most important name.

Danny suddenly jammed the stick harder into the box. "I've always felt somehow unfulfilled that one of them didn't make the wrong move so I could just blow them away."

"Part of the job," Steve said quietly, "is to deny ourselves vengeance." But you have voiced what we both feel. And wasn't that what I wished I could tell Carrie Donagon today?

He abandoned the food, elbows on the table. "It could have been so different. If Lani had not died -- if we'd married --" he shook his head. "I guess I might not have ever come back."

Lonnie suddenly exploded. "Too bad, huh? Cause you certainly would not have had a one night thing with my mom. Then I wouldn't be around to bother you either!" He jumped to his feet and stormed from the room.

Danny stared at the door to the bedroom Lonnie had just slammed. He blinked and looked back a Steve. "Well, I guess that wasn't handled very well."

"You'd better talk with him," Steve advised.

"He'll be fine. Let him calm down and I'll talk to him later," Danny replied.


End Part 3

Part 4

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