Steve had just gotten into bed shortly after eleven thirty when the phone rang. He picked it up on the first ring. "Hello?"
"Steve, this is Taki Woo with HPD." The line was static-filled meaning the officer was on a mobile unit. "Is Dan Williams out of town?"
Steve felt his defenses kick into high dear. "He is unavailable."
"Well, maybe you should get out to his old cottage then. Somebody torched it."
The fire was out. Fire and police vehicles were still numerous, flashing white, red, blue and yellow lights illuminating the beachfront. The front of the old cottage was now crumbling blackened beams, still smoking. Red embers glowed here and there as the fire fighters prodded through the mess. The porch supports had collapsed and the roof sagged towards the ground on one side giving the house a misshapened smile.
McGarrett got out of the car, grim professionalism set on his face. He locked the car door behind him, but only Jackson DeWitt noticed the action and he was not in the least pleased to have McGarrett there - however expected it might have been.
"McGarrett," Jackson greeted with a nod.
"Arson?" Steve asked in a word.
"Fire chief is looking into it."
"HPD called me and reported it was torched."
"HPD was premature," DeWitt bit off his words. "We probably won't have a cause before morning."
Both men turned as the fire marshal came through the burned door, a charred gasoline can in one hand.
Steve raised an eyebrow.
Jackson shrugged. "Well, it was a good thing Williams and his family are out of town."
"Are they?" Steve asked, faking innocence.
DeWitt cursed. "Cut the crap, McGarrett. I know Williams took a flight out to the mainland with his little girl twelve days ago. The boy's been in school, so he must be staying with friends - or you. I imagine you can reach Williams - wherever he is - and get him back here."
Why has DeWitt been looking into the whereabouts of Danny? "The insurance adjuster and fire marshal can handle this till he gets back," Steve answered appearing unconcerned.
DeWitt opened his mouth to say something, but Kono appeared. He seemed relieved McGarrett was present and prompted reported to his old boss instead of his current one: "There's a body."
Jackson fired a look of contempt towards Kono. The last person DeWitt would have wanted to hear about a body was McGarrett. He did not want the old Five-0 king nosing around in this. It was time to make sure both Kono and Steve remembered who was now the authority. "McGarrett, this isn't a request, it's an order from a law official to a citizen: Get on the horn and get Williams back here. I want to know the flight he's on and I want him in my office as soon as he arrives or I'll arrest you both for withholding evidence." He jabbed a finger towards Steve with each word.
Steve and a small self-assured smile and, without an answer, unlocked the door, got into his car and drove away.
Jackson DeWitt angrily turned back to the investigation. People only lock car doors to protect something valuable - in this case he suspected Lonnie Williams had been the something in that car. And that very action told Jackson that McGarrett did not trust him. That was ominous. Jackson spotted Zito coming from behind the house. "Reggie."
Zito looked miserable. "The body didn't burn like-"
"Keep Kalakaua away from it - and that lazy Gary Newman as well. You got that?" Jackson snapped. "I want that pathologist's report by morning and I want it to only me. Tell Dr. Rush I want the records sealed."
Reggie gave a vigorous nod of the head and darted away.
Steve lay awake thinking most of the night, a loaded .45 beside him. Richard had been killed because of what he knew - or had obtained. Somehow the young detective had managed to hide whatever it was. And the person who had been so intent on getting that evidence that he had killed Richard had made the link to Danno. How? And why burn the cottage? Was the person hoping that if he could not find the evidence, he could burn it? And who was the dead man in the cottage? Why and how had he died? Just before daylight, Steve slipped into a fitful sleep, gun still on the table beside him...
...The sun was up full and bright when there came a thumping on Steve's front door. Old Doc, the barn dog, was barking wildly out back, attempting to warn Steve of the trespasser. The banging came again and Steve rose, rubbing a hand over his tired eyes. He blinked.
The pounding came again.
"Somebody's at the door," Lonnie announced coming to the bedroom doorway, also having been roused from sleep. "Want me to get it?"
"Get out of sight," Steve snapped, picking up the gun as he slipped on a robe and started for the door.
Lonnie had not missed that Steve felt a need for protection. Without another comment, he vanished towards the back of the house.
McGarrett opened the front door a crack. "Yes?"
"Zito, Five-O," came the blunt response as the badge flashed.
Steve had only a moment to ponder the odd events that had placed him on the side of the door facing a Five-O detective with cause to beware. "Good morning, Reggie," he commented, opening the door wider, but not feeling the good will he showed.
Reggie did not express any friendliness. "When will Williams be back?" he demanded.
"When he gets here."
"Don't be cute with me."
"Zito, you aren't much on grace. Let me put this to you plainly. Yes, I spoke with Dan Williams last night and he said he would be returning quickly. He needed to make flight arrangements and hasn't spoken to me since. Do you understand that?"
Zito had spotted the small bulge in Steve's right robe pocket and knew that Steve was armed and aware there was something to be on guard about. "Somebody wants what Quinn had. He will kill to get it."
So it is a tangible piece of evidence, not knowledge that could have perished with Richard. "What did he have?" Steve asked.
Zito cracked a small smile. "You are better off not knowing. You didn't see Quinn yesterday?"
"Talk to him?"
"He didn't give you a package?"
"No." Steve gave the small confident smile he reserved for when he wanted his opponent to know that he was in control. Am I in control? "Reggie, do you have a warrant for this questioning?"
Reggie gave a power grin of his own. "Better. I have a warrant for your detention." He held it up. "Let's go, McGarrett."
Steve just barely concealed his surprise.
DeWitt's expression was one of pleasure as Reggie delivered Steve to the new Five-O chief's office. "Have a seat, McGarrett," he offered cordially.
Steve quietly did so with almost regal elegance. It was more than a little uncomfortable to be in the old office facing DeWitt. "Speak your mind, DeWitt."
Jackson gave a grunt of a response and sat down behind the desk. "I told you last night to come clean with me."
"Regarding what - exactly?" Steve asked poker-faced.
"Richard Quinn was killed because he got into something over his head. You knew him; he was inept, stupid, a real bad police officer who blundered everything he touched."
"Then he was not on assignment from you?" Steve asked.
Jackson scowled. "He was part of a team effort - but he went off on a tangent that was not authorized. I'd never have let him go after hot evidence alone like that. I might as well have put that gun to his head myself."
Steve mulled the comment for a moment. "I still am not certain what role you think I have."
"Richard was too stupid to get that far alone. He had help from outside the office. Was it you?"
"No," Steve replied, but longed to be asking more about just where Richard's investigation had taken him. There is no one safe for you, Danno's words rang in his head.
"Was it Williams?" Jackson demanded.
DeWitt was getting more agitated. "I can't find him. You can. You spoke with him last night - I hope."
"I already told Zito I did. Danny will call when he's on a flight home," Steve replied, praying Danny would not. "What ties Quinn to Williams?" Steve did not actually think DeWitt would answer.
But he did. "Quinn's cellular phone. He made 12 calls to the answering machine at Williams' address. But the tape was missing from the recorder. We think it contained information about where Quinn hid the evidence. Not too many people would have gone out that way. My guess is somebody looking to destroy the evidence got sloppy last night and burned himself up."
"That's pretty sloppy," Steve remarked. Outwardly he remained passive, but internally he was stunned by the sudden revelation that Quinn and Williams must have been investigating Five-O itself. A leak in DeWitt's office could have been the tip-off about Danno's cottage. "Do you think that the msn who burned got the answering machine tape?" Steve asked, watching carefully for DeWitt's response.
Jackson became aware that McGarrett was now conducting the questioning. "That doesn't concern you. I want you to know this very clearly: You are a civilian. You are required to turn over any information you gather - or that comes into your possession - to me. You understand that? I want Williams in protective custody when he's found and the boy, too."
Steve felt all his protective fight or flight instinct rush into gear. "What do you mean?"
"The boy is at risk," DeWitt commented. "I want him in juvenile hall where he can be protected. Where is he? I checked with the school and he isn't there."
"You can't lock him up without his father's permission."
"I can with a court order. Do I need to get one?"
"I'd say you do," Steve replied hotly.
"Is he with you?"
"Not just now," Steve answered carefully.
DeWitt sneered. "You had him in the car last night. I should have taken him then." He glanced at the clock. "Tomorrow morning at eight. They'd better both be here."
Steve lifted an eyebrow. "I can't make any promises for Williams. Am I free to go?"
DeWitt nodded, grudgingly.
"Oh, one more thing," Steve said in feigned innocence. "What about that body in the house? Any ID?"
DeWitt sneered again. "Good day, McGarrett."
Steve left, feeling not anger but regret for the disgrace Five-O was going to go through.
Zito, tailed by Gary Newman, entered DeWitt's office as Steve left.
"Well?" DeWitt glanced at Gary, whose gaze had followed Steve.
Gary shook his head. "That fire last night was amateurish. Splashed gas, a match - poof. Back half of the house still okay. Place was tossed though. Somebody lookin' for something."
Jackson nodded, appearing bored. "Fine, Newman. I want you off this for now. I need somebody to tie up the details for Quinn's memorial. You knew him. I want you to do that."
"What?" Gary could not believe his ears.
He was angry. DeWitt was obviously pulling him to a boring detail and away from the action. Why? He stomped away from the office looking for Kono.
Zito pursed his lips as he watched Gary go. "Not happy, huh?"
Jackson gave him a cold look. "And you?"
He pulled his hands out of his pockets. "Answering machine has no prints but those of Williams and his kid. If McGarrett has that tape, he wore gloves."
"If McGarrett had that tape - and understood whatever it said - he wouldn't have been in here playing twenty questions just now," Jackson replied. "So he either doesn't have it, or can't understand it."
"That's good, right?"
DeWitt looked at him with contempt. "Williams may understand what Quinn's messages were. And if McGarrett doesn't have that tape, the kid does."
"So, we find Williams and let him and the kid lead us to the tape?"
"Damn the tape. Williams will lead us right to Richard's goods." DeWitt paced the office for a moment. "Keep someone on McGarrett's place with a night scope. Any movements at all I want to hear about - but take no action, you got that? And another thing."
Zito looked at him, question on his face. "Yeah?"
"Whoever gave the information to Quinn could give it to someone else. Get Loui tracking that."
"Loui? You sure you want him?"
"Yeah. These locals talk to each other. If it gets too hot, we can just cut him off."