Friends in High Places
by Peg Keeley
Kevin left the morgue considering his list of possible suspects. It's a big world and Rego had lots of enemies on both sides of the law. The Kumu would certainly have been able to retaliate for Pahoa's murder -- if the first assassin was Rego's man. I haven't even determined that. What was more distressing wasn't the possibility of the Kumu. He was already aware that Steve McGarrett had given his house arrest officer the slip. The agent had attempted, unsuccessfully to re-attach himself to McGarrett leaving the residence unguarded with the ailing Williams inside. No one had been watching Williams. And no one knew better than Kevin what Williams was capable of. How can I defend that my two lead suspects are the top law enforcers for the state?
McGarrett was in the ER waiting room when Reuter arrived. "You seem to spend a lot of time here, McGarrett. Maybe you should consider opening a satellite office."
Steve did not do Reuter the honor of a smile. "Your officer wasn't around. I had to bring Williams back here."
Kevin shoved his hands into his pockets. "Yes, I know. The agent was off searching this stinking island for you -- since you'd dodged him earlier. You are aware that house arrest means you stay put, right? I could have locked you up, but I was generous. This is the thanks I get."
Their conversation was interrupted by the approach of Danny's surgeon. Her expression was that of both annoyance and concern. "Our boy managed to do quite a number on himself," she said for introduction. "What kind of friends were you?" She fixed a condemning face on Steve, then Reuter, having no knowledge of the interplay. "You all helped him leave here against medical advice. Six hours later he's back here bleeding do death."
Kevin rolled his eyes, uncomfortable at having been lumped into this event.
Steve wanted to argue that Danny was a grown man and would have checked out regardless of his help, but held the sentiment back. "Bleeding to death?"
"Both sites are reopened. Looks like the subclavian is now involved and is leaking -- something he was spared last time. We're prepping him for surgery. We have to go back and do this again," she said bluntly. "You sure he just tripped? How did he land?"
"I wasn't there," Steve replied, wishing Reuter was not listening in. "He just said he tripped on the back step."
"Must have hit with some significant force," she concluded with a shake of her head.
Reuter showed his FBI ID. "I need to speak with him right now."
Steve began to protest.
The doctor gestured Reuter towards the cubicle. "You can only have a minute or two."
"Reuter -" Steve attempted to stop him. "You can't interrogate him now!"
Reuter gave a smirk. "I wasn't planning on interrogating him, just asking him where you were."
"I took a long walk through the cemetery at Diamond Head -- alone."
"Then he was not with you? Too bad." Reuter turned his back and walked back into the cubicle. He entered, relieved to see that Danny was alone at the moment. Reuter's former special ops partner lay on the bed, eyes closed. The bright overhead light was focused on his exposed chest where a few large dressings were placed over the seeping wounds. An IV was running at a fairly rapid rate and oxygen was bubbling through the canister on the wall down the nasal canula assisting Danny's breathing. Kevin glanced at the chart on the counter, pleased to note Danny had been given a comfortable dose of Demerol. The syringe containing the remainder of the drug was taped to the counter.
"At it again, huh Danny?" Reuter remarked feigning friendliness.
Danny opened his eyes and blinked. "Kevin?"
"Shouldn't have signed out AMA I guess. Shouldn't have allowed McGarrett to get out of the house. Shouldn't maybe have done a lot of things."
He scowled. "What are you talking about?" He tried to fight the blanket of exhaustion that pressed against him.
"How'd this happen?"
"Tripped on a step."
"Hum. You didn't leave McGarrett's property?"
He shook his head, wanting to reserve his air.
"Anyone see you there?"
He eyed Kevin more closely. "What?" he whispered.
"Were you at 409 East Papaya around three o'clock?"
"See Jimmy Rego today?" Reuter persisted.
"What?" Danny was fighting to clear his head of the narcotics. Talking was difficult as he attempted to take a deeper breath and the pain stabbed his chest.
Reuter paused. "Remember our training back in the service?" he whispered close to Danny's ear. "Hand to hand. Remember the drills? They taught us to kill with just about anything -- even nothing." He raised his head so that he was eye to eye with Danny. "You ripped Jimmy Rego's throat out today, didn't you."
Danny blinked. "Rego is dead?"
"Some one who knew Taijiquan. Job of a real pro."
"Look at me, Kevin. I was shot twice in the chest yesterday -- I couldn't even have gotten across town let alone be accomplishing Taijiquan moves."
He glanced at Danny's scratched and bruised right hand. "Don't insult me, Danny. I know what you can do. What you have done. Looks like you've given that hand a real work out today."
"I tripped on the step. Hit my hand."
"I know better, old partner. There won't be any Marten Camp muddying the waters this time."
Danny sighed and closed his eyes again. "Well, I hope I'm not the only suspect or you will be very disappointed."
Somehow I think I won't have any shortage of suspects. "Let me give you one word of advice," Kevin muttered, his voice thick with threat. "You stay put this time. I don't care if the doc keeps you here a month -- you don't even make a phone call without my approval, you got that?" He glanced under the gurney and picked up the plastic bag containing Danny's clothing. "I'll see you later."
As Reuter exited the cubicle, Steve was waiting for him. "Well?"
"He said he wasn't with you," Kevin replied sauntering past.
Steve noticed the plastic bag of clothes. "You obviously don't believe him. What do you want, Reuter?"
"I want to know where you were this afternoon."
"I told you. I took a walk. A long walk through the cemetery at Diamond Head."
"Then you have no alibi."
Steve squinted. Alibi for what?"
"Jimmy Rego was killed this afternoon. But I think you already know that."
"Rego? I can't say that I am terribly sorry, Reuter."
"From where I stand you had the most to gain. Rego was bringing a civil suite against you, there were charges of brutality pending. No Rego, most of this goes away. Only a little reprimand in the annals of McGarrett history. Not even a little blip compared to all your heroics." Reuter sounded mildly sarcastic.
"For the record " Steve's tone was filled with anger and indignation, " any life, even that of Jimmy Rego, is of value. Neither I or any of my staff would condone or commit this kind of act."
"Sure, McGarrett," Reuter agree with an unconvinced nod. "You won't mind if I conduct an investigation to confirm that then, will you?"
"Then I guess I am no longer under house arrest?" Steve commented.
"Hardly, I may arrest you for Rego's murder instead."
"It would be interesting to see if you have something that will stick," Steve fired back. "Last time I looked, evidence beyond guesswork was needed to convince a grand jury to indict."
"You think you have this covered," Reuter challenged. "I don't care what you say. I know you or Williams or both had a hand in this and I am going to get to the bottom of it." He turned on his heel and headed for the exit.
Duke, Kono and Ben met in Steve's empty office. Duke could not quite shake the feeling that they were intruding. "I think Steve will be back on this by tomorrow," he commented prayerfully.
Ben shook his head. "He told me that it looks like this Reuter is gunning for Danny, him, maybe both."
Kono gave a half grunt. "What is it with that guy anyway?"
"What do we have on Pahoa's shooting?" Duke changed the subject, deciding a long chat about Reuter would not be very productive.
"Len Derrick flew here from Nevada two weeks ago," Kono offered. "No job, living off a credit card." He held out the statement. "Nothing unusual. Hotel, meals, a few cash withdrawals, but not large amounts. Took a hunting trip on Maui three weeks ago."
"Anything to tie him up with Jimmy Rego?"
"Nothing obvious to tie him to anybody," Kono replied. "One of Reuter's men says it was Danny's neighbor took Derrick on that trip."
"What was he doing chatting with Danny's neighbor?" Duke countered.
"Don't know. Tried to reach the guy. Think he took a trip."
"Convenient," Duke remarked. "See what you can find out about him from the brain in HPD."
"I checked in to the marital arts thing for the FBI," Ben offered. "Lots of names -- including my son and two of Chin's kids. One instructor commented that Harry Kelley was a grad from his program -- showed me this." He held out a Xerox of a news article about Harry Kelley and his competitive Taijiquan in college. "He's pretty good."
Duke glared. "We're going to accuse Harry Kelley with killing Rego? Give me a break."
"Just making a point. There are too many people who could have done this," Ben explained. "For once I'd like to focus on clearing our people instead of implicating someone else."
Duke raised an eyebrow. "We shouldn't have to worry about clearing our people. Innocent till proven guilt, remember? I'll go talk with Steve, see if we can account for his whereabouts. Kono, Reuter took Danno's clothing as evidence. See what turned up and then visit the lady living at that house where Rego bought it. Ben -- you want to see how the Kelley kids are doing?"
They nodded and set out on their assignments. Duke waited behind, studying the news report. There really are too many suspects. I doubt Steve or Danny would do this. But what about Harry? Those kids were pretty upset about Rego's release and Danny's shooting. But are we making a mistake in accepting Rego shot Pahoa? And who was Len Derrick anyway?
Ben was hoping he'd gotten the right detail as he pulled up to the Kelley residence, but as Faith opened the door to permit him inside, his opinion rapidly changed.
"We were just talking," Faith offered escorting him into the living room where all the Kelley children sat around, none of them looking particularly happy and all of them leveling a flat suspicious gaze on him.
Why do I feel like I've just teleported into Lord of the Flies? "I wanted to let you know that the man who killed your father is dead," he said. How do you say that gently to a bunch of teenagers?
No one reacted with much emotion. "Okay," Alia replied. "Is it over now?"
"Is what over?"
"Susie told us that the DA was going to arrest her for getting the gun."
He glanced over at Susie. "The DA has decided to drop the charges, Susie. There is no longer any point. I think everyone is aware you were under great pressure. It's not like you're going to go out and rob your neighborhood." He managed a comforting smile that she did not return.
"I am free to leave and go back to San Francisco?"
"If that's what you want to do," Ben replied. He glanced around at the eight somber faces. "You guys doing okay?"
"We're fine," Tim offered. "Thank you for dropping by. Is that all?"
He seems like he's in a hurry to get rid of me. Ben tried to recall what he knew of Tim, mildly regretful that he had not had more contact with Chin's family. It was always Danny's thing. He paused in mid thought. "Look, the FBI took over this whole mess and they will probably be sending an agent out to ask some questions. Maybe if you can just answer them for me we can avoid that."
"Questions? Questions about what?" Alia demanded.
Ah, I remember her. The one that married to mob guy's son. "They are going to want to know where you all were today."
"You're kidding," Alia snapped. "Do they think we went and hunted the guy down like a vigilante mob and killed him?" She put a protective arm around Tilda.
It does sound a bit silly, doesn't it? "I've just got to ask," Ben commented. "Where were each of you between about 1 and 4?"
"Well, we were at school," Lara said boldly. "Me, Tilda, Faith and Thomas had school.. I brought the girls home here after school. We'd been here every since."
Ben glanced at Harry.
"I was at the university in the library. Finals this week," he replied.
Alia crossed her arms in defiance. "I was at the mall," she said through tight lips. "I guess my credit card receipts can prove that."
He frowned. "I was at the cemetery visiting my father," he said in a hushed reverent tone. "I was concluding a time of mourning."
"You were alone?" Ben asked, recalling that Steve had also discussed being in a cemetery.
He began to say yes, but Susie interrupted. "I was with him."
Ben hesitated, aware that Tim had been about to say something different. "Tim?"
"Yeah," he murmured. "Like she says."
Ben waited a moment longer. "You're sure? This is all correct? The FBI gets into this and they may choose to check out some of your stories. They have got to be the truth."
"You were supposed to be Daddy's friend," Susie said accusingly. "Why are you trying to frighten everyone? We tried to get Daddy's killer arrested and I almost got arrested myself. I don't know who killed the guy -- but I am glad it was done. Steve McGarrett is a good man and that evil Rego was trying to hurt him, too. Can you imagine how awful it is to know that my best friend's fiancé killed my father? He probably killed her father, too! All this killing! Does it end now? Please tell it is all going to stop here."
Ben closed his notepad and placed it and his pen in his jacket pocket. "I hope so, Susie. I really hope so. I just want to keep you kids safe." Tim accompanied him to the door and let him out. As Tim turned back, Susie came up behind him.
"Where were, you, Tim?"
"I told you -- the cemetery. I didn't need you lying for me," he said gruffly.
"I doubt they would have believed that," she snapped.
By this time they were back to the living room where Lara was questioning Thomas. "You skipped school this afternoon. What if the police find that out?"
"They won't," he replied.
"So where were you?" she demanded.
"We decided to just go and get some down time," Harry interjected. "I wanted someone to hang with -- I got Thomas from school and we just hung out."
"You came home all wet," Lara persisted anxiously.
"We jumped in the fountain to cool off," Thomas explained.
"Or maybe to get rid of evidence."
"Evidence! Evidence of what!" Harry exploded.
"Stop this. Stop it right now," Alia announced. "That's what they want. They want us to be wondering who did this. We are all okay. We must stop the fighting and stay together right now."
Silence closed over the group as they looked from one to another cautiously. "Well, I say if one of us killed the bastard -- good job," Thomas announced.
There was a light rap on the door and Duke looked up to see Steve McGarrett. A sigh of relief escape him as he waved the chief inside the office. "Steve, I am sure glad to see you."
"I got your message."
Kono and Ben should be back here any time," Duke advised.
"Good," Steve sat down dramatically in his chair. "Jameson officially called me back to work -- thank God!"
Duke gave a weary agreement. "I have Che's report on Danny's clothing that he will be giving to the FBI ."
"Let's have it." It will be nice to have him cleared before he gets to recovery.
"Nothing to tie him to the address where Rego was killed. But also no traces of sand from the back patio of your place."
"Maybe he never walked on the sand."
Duke hesitated. "No traces of blood or skin on the back steps where he fell either."
Steve blinked. "We will need him to tell us the exact spot," Steve replied.
"No scuffs on his shoes -- Steve, there isn't anything that supports his story."
Steve rubbed his neck. "He couldn't have gotten far alone. Did you check all the cab services?"
Duke nodded. "No one went out there."
"What reason is there to doubt his word, then? He fell on the steps -- that's it."
"And, um, we need to account better for your time."
"My time?" Steve raised his eyebrows. "Okay, Duke. I went to see Billy Swan. I wanted to see what more he knew about the assassin. He did not give us anything new -- but I think he knows who's in position to take over the Kumu. It has probably already happened."
"How long were you there?"
"About an hour. Then -- just as I said -- I went to the cemetery."
"Did you see Tim Kelley there?"
"He told Ben he was at the cemetery this afternoon -- it's his alibi. Susie says she was with him."
"We may have just missed each other." Susie and Tim together? That would be remarkable in itself.
"Steve, this Reuter guy isn't going to let go of this. Airlines have a reservation for Susie Kelley on a flight tomorrow back to the mainland. I thought she was staying until the will was read."
Kono burst through the door, Ben at his heels. "I got it!" He stopped short, seeing Steve present. "Boss, I got it!" he amended.
Steve found it interesting that in spite of their differences Kono was calling him 'boss.'
"I got the tie from Len Derrick to Jimmy Rego. Derrick came here from Nevada -- there are two phone calls from Rego's phone at his apartment to Nevada the day after Chin was killed. Rego was hiring Derrick to take out Pahoa before Pahoa ratted on him."
Steve glanced over the phone records. "Let's get Brian Liu back in here."
"He's in FBI protective custody," Duke replied. "We can't get near him."
Steve gave a grim nod. "Give a copy of this to Reuter. Let's see what Liu would like to add to this story -- but I want you there, Duke."
Ben spoke up. "I spoke with the Mrs. Stipe at the Papaya Street address. Has a kid who's been trouble at the high school. Word is the boy is a dealer -- supplies about half the high school's needs. He leads a charmed life. Has managed not to be picked up in that crackdown operated by HPD. They've got a couple of photos of him they're bringing up here."
"Good idea, maybe his charmed life includes contact with Jimmy Rego out behind his house."
"Well, his is one of the few names that did not turn up on the martial arts list," Duke remarked. "Even my name turned up there!"
Steve grinned. "Should we consider you a suspect as well?" He went to his chalkboard and began to write down the list of names and facts. "Rego killed Chin -- giving a lot of people motive to kill him. He also hired the hit man who shot Pahoa -- giving a lot more people reason to hit him. Whoever killed Rego was proficient in Taijiquan and was smart enough to know it would make finding him -- or her -- harder."
"Her?" Ben asked.
"Just trying not to eliminate anything," Steve replied. How many times has Danny given me a hard time for discriminating against women? Not this time.
"Too bad Stipe hasn't studied martial arts," Kono brooded.
The intercom buzzed and May announced the arrival of the surveillance photos.
They spread them out across the desk and hovered over them. "That's him," Ben pointed out Mano. "HPD has been watching him for a while."
"This one," Duke murmured. "And this one." He pushed two towards Steve. "Isn't that Thomas Kelley?"
Steve felt his mouth go dry. Certainly this can't be truth. There was no mistaking the profile of Chin's son talking with Mano. The second photo was less clear, but the two were in serious discussion. "Pick up John Stipe."
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