Friends in High Places
by Peg Keeley

Part 2

Tim appeared off the jet rap, calm, collected and searching the crowd in the terminal for a face he knew. He spotted Danny almost immediately and gave a soft smile. "Thank you for greeting me," he said politely, then gave his adopted brother a big bear hug. "How is everyone doing?"

Danny paused to take in Tim Kelley. Twenty-five, taller and leaner than his father, but the same deeply intense and controlled personality. A stranger would not have known his father had died just hours before. "They are taking it hard."

He nodded. "As I would expect." Danny started for the luggage carousel, but Tim stopped him. "Not much time, I just packed a carryon."

"Oh." For an instant, ice gripped Danny's heart. Does that mean he won't stay long? Someone needs to help the younger kids.

"I'll buy whatever I need," Tim added, correctly discerning Danny's thoughts. "What can you tell me of what happened?"

Danny hesitated, not really desirous to discuss this in the public corridor of an airport. "Chin wanted to go undercover…It was a mob thing in the Chinatown district…trying to get the dirt on the Kumu."

They cleared the door and headed for Danny's car parked near the door -- one of the few police privileges of the airport. "Dad went undercover?"

Danny nodded, unlocking the car doors. "Said it was the only way to gain cooperation of the merchants." Why do I feel like this is a meaningless recording? It doesn't absolve us; it doesn't fix anything.

So, what went wrong?" Tim asked.

Danny looked Chin's firstborn in the eye. "I don't know. They shot him -- dumped him out of the car on the palace steps," he paused to clear the lump in his throat. "Don't know much of anything yet. But we will get the answer."

By this time they were both in the car. Tim stared through the windshield for a moment, not seeing anything. "You know, he loved you as a son."

"I know," Danny whispered.

"How could you let McGarrett do that?" Tim murmured, but without condemnation.

Danny did not answer. Silence reigned for several moments in the car, neither man spoke.

At last Tim said. "Well, I guess what matters is what we do now." My father would want me to be honorable -- and exhibiting what I feel at this time will not do him that honor. No display of pain and anger towards Danny is going to make a difference. I probably cannot inflict more pain on him that he already has himself. "Alia?"

"She got in at seven. She's at home with the kids. Harry is planning to go with you tomorrow to -- the funeral home."

"I want the funeral to in our home. My father was Lutheran, but we will follow Chinese tradition," Tim stated. "I want you to back me up on this."

"Tim, I am not the son -- you are. As firstborn, this is your call to make," Danny answered.

Tim gave a half-laugh. "No, Danny -- I have never been the firstborn. I lived my entire life being compared to you. I could never be smarter, stronger, faster…" he paused, and decided to stop the thought. "I loved my father. I know he loved me. But it was hard to live in your shadow."

Danny turned the key in the ignition, awash with pain. That cannot be true. Chin and I had a unique relationship, but I was never his child, never his son. I never tried to be.

"Opa! See!" his little fingers were gripping the handlebars of the small bike as it teetered back and forth on training wheels. "See!"

"Good for you, Danny! Peddle faster!"

"Watch me, Opa!" The bike wobbled violently as the small child peddled with all his might. For an instant it was balanced, both training wheels off the ground and the five-year-old squeeled in delight. In the moment ecstatic victory the front wheel popped against a pothole and control was lost. The bike spun to the ground, throwing the young rider who skinned a knee and began to cry.

Chin was at his side instantly. "There, Danny. It isn't anything."

"But, it's bleeding!" the child sobbed.

"Good. It is good to bleed. Our price for the happiness of the ride. No tears now. Remember the ride."

No tears now -- remember the ride.

Struggling to turn the conversation away from the topic, Danny commented. "Susie will be here in the morning."

Tim lifted an eyebrow. "Susie is coming home?"

He nodded. "Steve said he'd pick her up tomorrow."

Tim scowled. "Steve is picking her up?"

Danny turned the car out of the parking place into traffic. "It will give him a chance to feel like he's doing something for the family. Susie always was close to him."

Tim continued to frown. "Susie should not be around him."

"What do you mean?"

Tim bit the inside of his cheek. "Susie has always -- well -- I'm not sure how to say this. Dad did not want her around Steve. It made him uncomfortable."


"No. Dad. I doubt Steve was ever even aware. I mean he's a big powerful police chief -- he wouldn't notice a teenage girl trying to throw herself at him."

"Throw…" Danny blinked and tried to concentrate on his driving.

"She sent McGarrett seductive notes - didn't sign her name or anything. He did not know it was her. Apparently Steve showed them to Dad just for an opinion. Dad knew right away."

Danny head swam in shock. "Susie did what? When? Is this why she left after your mother's death?"

Tim shook his head. "Susie was just fourteen, still in high school. Alia was creating trouble -- Dad thought it was a teenage thing. He had mom talk to her -- it got worse. They put her into therapy and all…for a while it was okay. Then about the time she graduated from high school it got worse." Tim paused. "Much worse."

"Steve has never said-"

"I don't think he knew it was Susie."

"He never told me about her or any other girl sending notes." By this time Danny had pulled the car off to the side of the road. Why didn't Steve say something? I can't imagine him being embarrassed. What did he think?

"Should he tell you everything?" Tim remarked. "Five years ago -- Danny, it was five years ago. Right after that East German thing. You think Steve was going to tell you some girl was sending him nude pictures of herself while you were recovering from nearly being tortured to death?"

"Nude pictures?" Danny just stared at Tim, mouth dry. This has been the day from hell. Certainly Tim is exaggerating. Susie sending Steve nude pictures of herself? This is unreal. Maybe I can wake up from this. All his mind could see was tiny little six-year-old Susie skipping down the steps of the house and giving him a big hug. Susie? "Are you sure about this?" Five years ago Tim was barely twenty. His relationship with his father had been strained then as well. Slowly it began to occur to Danny that Chin's relationship with all of his children had been strained. Except me.

Tim rubbed a hand over his tired eyes. I feel like a grave robber. My father has died and all these skeletons are tumbling out of the closet. "Mom and Dad argued. She couldn't believe it was Susie, but he was sure. Mom wanted her to get help again - but Dad…he was afraid for Steve. He felt somehow responsible. He insisted on sending Susie away."

"Sending -- no, Tim. I can't believe that."

"He made her go to school in San Francisco."

"Made, how could anyone make her-"

Tim turned to glare at him, pain and anger kindling in his eyes. "I don't know, Danny. I just know that he chose McGarrett over his own daughter, his own family. Mama usually handled everything, but not that time. Anyway, I overhead the argument. They just told us kids that Susie was going to college in San Francisco. When she stayed away, Lora really began to feel abandoned, they had been pretty close. Mom and Dad never knew I was aware of what happened. I never talked to Susie about it. I think Dad just hoped it would all go away and she'd someday come home married or something."

"She came back for your mother's funeral," Danny said quietly, still not certain he was accepting this story that seemed entirely concocted from an argument overheard five years ago by a twenty year old boy.

"She and Dad barely spoke. She was here, then she was gone."

Danny gripped the steering wheel. I need to talk with Steve about this. Certainly someone as attentive as he is will know if this is true. He is so detail driven, there will be a file somewhere. He saves everything. I just cannot accept this. Tim is making a mistake. "Five years is a long time, Tim. Maybe this will be okay now."

Tim nodded stiffly. "Sorry, Danny. I just don't know what to do with all this, you know? Is it my responsibility now to make sure she doesn't hurt someone?"

Their eyes met. "No, Tim," Danny whispered. It's mine. He put the vehicle in gear. "Lara will still be awake, I'd better get you over to the house." Do I tell him how angry Lara is that Susie is coming home? Would he tell Lara the truth? I hope not. I need time to find out the details. Maybe he's wrong, Maybe Chin was wrong all these years about this. No, he would not have risked his family, his marriage, his career unless he was certain. Chin was not a risk-taker. And the one time he did -- it got him killed.

Danny only stayed a minute or two at the Kelley home. There were three different women there than had been there earlier -- people from their church. He could tell that the older children were not very comfortable with their presence. Thomas and Harry were out on the front steps in spite of the late hour when they arrived. Both greeted their brother warmly. Harry gave Danny a nod -- Thomas ignored him.

Back in the car, Danny decided to go downtown and walk the streets. Leaving his tie and jacket in the car, he rolled up his shirtsleeves and opened the top two buttons of his shirt and began to walk.

"Aunt Clara is here," Chin said with mild sternness in his tone.

"I'm not going home," seven-year-old Danny had declared.

Eyebrows lifted in mock surprise, Chin responded. "Why not?"

"I don't want her sissy stuff."

Chin sat down on the floor of the coat closet with him, squeezing his body next to the small boy. "Now that is a real issue. No man should have to do sissy-stuff."

Danny poked out his lower lip and crossed him arms angrily. "I'm stayin' here."

"You are?" Chin gave a small nod. "And what of Aunt Clara?"

"Don't care."

"Oh, but Danny - you have to care. You are the man of the house - you need to be there to protect her."

"With a piano?"

Chin bit his cheek to hide his chuckle.

"How about a gun so I can protect her?" The boy's eyes lit up.

Chin's humor had a note of serious. "Guns are no way to protect people. You protect her by doing what she says and helping her. She needs you."

"She bugs me. I don't want to play that silly piano."

"You can make good money playing piano."

Danny did not respond.

"Tell you what - you play that piano without complaining and I'll give you a nickel on Fridays. But -" he raised a finger, "-I don't want to hear you complained once all week. Do we have a deal?"

The child's face twisted in thought - attempting to envision a treasure of nickels.

"Look, I give you the first one up front. Show my good faith." Chin dug the coin from his pocket.

"Shows I trust you to do what's right."

Danny stopped in a bar and bought a beer. Most of the evening crowd had already thinned out. The remaining patrons at the counter had been dulled by their intake. He slid onto a stool next to one. "Koma," he greeted the man.

The forty year old part Hawaiian man glanced over at him, then took a drink from his own bottle. "Danno, man," he murmured. "Sorry."

He nodded. "I'm looking for some talk, Koma."

Koma shook his head. "Nobody talkin', Danno. They all hidin'."

"From what?"

Koma was more drunk that alert, but he still gave a chuckle. "Shit, Danny, we all know the real you here. Not that up-town cop stuff. They all wonderin' who you're gonna kill."

"Then maybe you can give me the right name so I take out the right guy," Danny suggested.

Koma shrugged. "Ain't hearin' nothing'. Nobody talkin'. Stuff happenin', Danno."

Danny finished off the beer and slid the bottle away.

"Hey!" Koma called, waving a drunken hand towards the bartenders. "Another beer for my friend here." He patted Danny's shoulder.

The bartender glanced at Danny, then popped the cap off a second beer and slid it towards him.

"Thanks, Koma, but I need to keep my head," Danny muttered rising.

"Shit, you need a stiff drink." Koma pushed the bottle into his hands. "From me to you. Drown your sorrows."

"Koma, if you hear anything…."

"Yeah, I know, Danny Boy, I know the routine."

Danny stuffed a $20 bill into the man's pocket. "Thanks for the beer." He took the bottle with him. He walked down towards the beach, but the area was oddly quiet and empty except for the occasional tourist couples giggling and hugging on benches or sand.

"I wish I had someone who loved me like Lilly loves you."

Chin gave a parental grin. "I have a wonderful wife, but she doesn't take any silly stuff from me. And I didn't find her in a bar either. Life is going to be what you make it, Bruddah. It won't just happen by itself."

Danny sighed and listened to the sounds from the kitchen of Lilly chattering to toddler Tim as she cleaned up from the Christmas meal. He looked over a Chin, hoping for a blessing. "Did I make a mistake?"

Chin lit his pipe and gave a quiet chuckle. "A little late now, isn't it?"

He looked down at the floor. "Chin, I'm afraid."

"Afraid? You? I can't imagine that," Chin said quietly, puffing on his pipe. "You're eighteen. You live by your choices now. You did not ask me or Andy or anyone when you make this decision. You even got me to tell your Aunt Clara so you wouldn't have to face her. Now you're not so sure?"

He sighed. "I had to do what I did, Chin. I had to. But it's not what they said. I don't like what I've become."

Chin waited for further explanation that did not come. Danny was obviously awaiting some word of comfort or advice or -- something. "We live with our mistakes -- when we're lucky. And even the mistakes go to make us stronger and better if we let them. Learn from the mistakes, don't let them drag you down crying for what might have been."

He drained the beer and tossed it into the trash. "O God, I miss you, Chin!" Emotion sprang outward and he began to weep beyond control, leaning against the trunk of a tree, as the tears flowed.

Danny wasn't surprised that the lights were on in the office although it was just before four a.m. He had met with little success in finding anything they did not already know about Chin's death. He had generously tipped informants with the promise of riches to come if they could bring in the right lead and had only come to the office now because he'd run out of cash and would need to wait for the bank to open.

He looked around, but did not see anyone present. Steve would not be far away. He retrieved a set of keys from his desk drawer and unlocked the file cabinet in May's area. He wasn't sure what he was looking for or that it would be in the file. Just how would Steve have labeled a file from a girl seeking his attention? Would he have filed it with the usual work or with his personal work? A scan through likely file titles in the proper date range took a little over half an hour and revealed nothing.

Steve and Danny each kept a double locked personal file and had entrusted each other with the contents. Danny knew it was that trust that had helped Steve locate him when Gorek had kidnapped him five years ago. He tipped the chair in Steve's office and removed one key from the hollowed leg. This isn't exactly that kind of emergency -- but I have to know.

Like Danny, Steve had filed his personal issues chronologically. Skipping past files that would have included ONS classified material, Danny looked first under 1970. There were only three files. One contained several small personal envelopes containing folded notebook paper the even after all these years smelled of cologne. The schoolgirl long hand, doodled daisies and hearts in the margins and pink ink all looked of harmless early adolescence -- until he read the words.

They would never understand this love I have, but I know you will. You must love me. I have seen it in how you smile when I see you. Do you want to touch me like I want to touch you? I want to kiss you, hold you, make passionate love to you. I am not too young, you know. Young women make wild and passionate love and I can last all night My body yearns for you…

Jeeze. He stopped reading. This is unbelievable coming from a fourteen year old girl. She was starved for love. I've seen this in children from abused homes -- but Chin and Lilly loved their kids. I know Susie's home life. There were three more letters. Attempting to look at the issue professionally, he looked at their content, but it was impossible to remain unaffected. Oh, Chin! You must have been so pained! And Lilly! What did Steve think? I cannot imagine the dishonor for Chin. Emotion squeezed his throat. He could vividly recall the fourteen year old, giggly and boy-crazy Susie. She seemed like any other teenage girl. Happy, carefree. What was really going on?

The door opened and Danny jumped -- brought back with a start to the present.

"Danno?" Steve stood in the doorway, tired sadness on his face. "You all right?"

"What?" He blinked. "Yes. Um. Yes, I'm fine." He looked down at the letters in his hand.

Steve had already noticed Danny was in the personal file. "Did you find something to help us get Chin's killer?"

He has to know what I have seen. "Um. I talked with some snitches -- time will tell I guess. I ran out of cash."

Steve nodded. "Fill out the requests." Tense silence clouded over the room. "Danno? There is something more, I assume."

"Um, yes." He was aware that he still held the letters and that his hands were shaking. He felt unexplainably afraid. "Tim told me about Susie's letters."

I suppose it is not surprising that the dirt comes back before Chin's body is cold. Chin, I promised you I would never tell him. Forgive me. "Sit down." Once they were both seated on the white leather chairs, Steve continued: "She was having a difficult adolescence. I guess it was a fantasy world -- but it rattled Chin. Had I known it was Susie when I got the letters, I would probably have put them aside. But I didn't."

"You wouldn't have told Chin?" Danny asked in shock.

"Kid stuff. That's all. He did not look at it that way though."

"You think this is kid stuff?" Danny murmured.

Steve ignored his questions. "Chin was so ashamed."

Danny blinked trying to understand. We're both pretty tired, this isn't like it sounds -- is it? He took a deep breath. "Tim tells me this isn't all there was."

Steve squinted. "What do you mean?"

"He said it happened again -- five years ago."

"Danno, there are wackos out there that send all kinds of stuff - you've received solicitations, too."

"Not from Susie Kelly," he replied a little harder.

Steve rubbed a weary hand on his forehead. He is tired, in pain, he has lost a father figure -- he's trying to do what? Protect me? Protect Tim? Or maybe he's thinking I shut him out. "Okay, Danno. Yes, I received a series of anonymous photos five years ago. Also three years ago and last year. There is nothing to connect them to Susie Kelly and it isn't fair for Chin, Tim or you to accuse her." He rose and walked to the file drawer, flipped through and pulled out three manila folders with dates on them. He tossed them into Danny's lap. "Go ahead -- look a them." He sat back down, hands in his lap waiting expectantly.

Danny did not want to see the photos, dreading what he would say or do. Chin knew they were Susie, that's good enough for me. And Tim mentioned only one other time -- there were three! Did Steve stop telling Chin after Chin sent Susie away five years ago? All three sets had been sent locally from Honolulu: 1973, 1975 and 1977. He slowly pulled out the glossies and felt his stomach squeeze. The photos were all either taken from the neck down -- or the face had been cut out. They were instant photos that would not require a developing lab. Danny felt the color rise in his face as he looked back up a Steve.

"Now, do you think that Chin Ho Kelly's daughter would stoop to something like this?" Steve asked softly.

"Chin thought so," Danny barely uttered back. He slid the photos back into their respective envelopes.

"Danny, I don't know what Chin thought he saw -- but Susie is NOT the person in those photos. I know that. She is grieving and doesn't need you or Tim jumping to crazy conclusions."

I want so much to believe him. But I have to know. Shouldn't Steve want to know for sure, too? "Doc could probably tell us if all the photos are the same woman," Danny managed to say.

"For what reason, Danny?" Steve replied quietly.

Doesn't he see this? "If they are -- and Chin knew the first girl was his daughter then maybe -- dammit, Steve," he nearly choked on the emotion and dread.

Slow anger began to burn in Steve's eyes, his posture. "I have told you that isn't Susie. That is good enough for me."

Danny could feel his hands shaking with emotion. "Steve, maybe someone else should get Susie from the airport."

What is he implying here? How dare he -- McGarrett struggled internally to contain the sudden explosion of rage. "Why don't you tell me why I shouldn't punch you in the mouth right now for that," he commented quietly in a deadly tone.

Unable to respond, Danny sat rooted to the chair.

Steve slowly rose and paced to the other side of the office. The hint of dawn was beginning to turn the eastern sky violet. "All right, Danno," Steve said turning. "Have Doc see the photos. I've have May pick up Susie."

Danny slowly let his breath out. "Okay. Thank you, Steve."

He nodded. I hope we are both still thankful when this is over. I have resisted this for five years always dreading the possibility. I had always hoped to protect Susie from herself until she could get her life straightened out. I may have run out of time.

end Part 2

Part 3

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