Pretense of Justice
Danny was aware of the sounds of the hospital staff before he gained a full consciousness. He could hear the hiss of the cuff as the sphygnomometer took his blood pressure. His throat was mildly sore, a common effect of anesthesia. Remarkably, he did not feel nauseated.
"Danny," a quiet female voice called to him.
He slowly opened his eyes and focused on the face of the nurse. "Hi," he whispered.
"Take a deep breath for me," she commanded.
He did so, or at least thought he did. Unable to feel the sensation of breathing, he listening for the sound of air passing through his trachea. It was impossible to know if breathing was easier than earlier.
"Hey, Danno," Doc Bergman moved into his line of vision. "Got some folks here to see you."
He finally forced himself alert enough and noticed the odd rods and wires around his head. He managed a tired smile. "Christmas decorations?"
Doc chuckled. Good his sense of humor is intact. "It's called halo traction just to keep everything stable and your head and neck still. Reduction went very well. No problems." He made a motion and Steve moved into Danny's line of vision.
"Hey, Danno. You're looking good," Steve said quietly, trying not to look at anything but his friend's face. The screws from the halo traction looked as though they bored right into Danny's head. Is that possible?
"Poke my legs," Danny murmured.
Steve glanced at Bergman. "Doc?"
"It's a bit early, Danny," Doc advised.
"Poke my legs," he insisted with greater force.
"Doc, do it," Steve ordered. "If he wants it, do it."
Bergman sighed, pulled the sheet away from Danny's feet, and touched the dull needle to the top of his right foot.
Danny gazed at the ceiling expectantly. "Doc?"
Steve glanced from Bergman to Danny.
Bergman moved to the other foot.
Danny was now watching Steve's face. "I don't feel anything," he whispered, discouragement suddenly washing over him.
"It is early," Bergman repeated. I did not want to do this. We should have waited.
Steve leaned close to Danny. "Give it some time," he murmured and gently wiped away the single drop of moisture from Danny's cheek. "Keep the faith, bruddah."
Ben was a cross of embarrassed and wounded when Jenny told him that Danny had been through surgery and that Steve was at the hospital. No one told me. I guess I had called in sick, but they could have called. I guess Steve is writing me off. Wasn't I wanting to leave this job -- then why does this bother me? Danny couldn't call me. I know he would have. I need to keep personal stuff out of this. Having argued with himself all the way to the hospital, he now stepped in to the ICU waiting room to be immediately confronted with Steve and Chin. Scanning their faces revealed little.
"How is Danny?" Ben was forced to ask.
Steve avoided the obvious remarks about Ben looking pretty good for a guy who called in sick. It was just too petty for the circumstances. "Surgery went well. Too early to know how effective it will be."
"How is he taking it all?"
"About like any of us would," Steve replied, feeling as though he did not have a very good response for this.
"I went out to the Moana Surfrider and came across Jack Moreland."
Really? Good for you, Ben. "Anything new?"
"I think so. His relationship with Wiseman apparently hinged on his affection for Wiseman's mother. They were together for two years. When she died in an auto wreck, his attention to Wiseman probably waned. While I was there, Ally and her mother came by. It was pretty obvious that he was attracted there as well -- and I doubt it was to the mother."
Steve thought about Jack's action to protect Ally when Ronnie died. An actor all the way. It was his opening scene for getting Ally's affections.
"And he mentioned that he played a cop in a three year series on TV."
"Yes, The Crime Fighters," Steve agreed. "I have already contacted the producer for scripts of all the episodes. They should be here by Friday."
"And " Ben felt like a salesman -- having saved the best for last. " one of the body guards wears a ring on his middle finger of his right hand."
Steve's eyebrows knit as he rapidly put together the pieces. "The bodyguard would have the strength to get Wiseman out the window, possibly contracted by Moreland. But why? Just to get the affections of Allison Stamper?" I have seen crimes of passion committed over less. Why drop him onto the set? And does Moreland have access to potassium chloride? I wonder if that might not have been in one of the TV plots. The writing of Nevermore, the red markers -- "Ben, good work."
The two words seemed like soothing salve on a burn. Ben felt guilty lingering mentally in the moment to cherish the rush of emotion that accompanied hearing them. This wasn't the time.
"Go back to the movie set and relieve Duke after
you see Danny. It looks like some of the cast is connecting with you enough
that they might talk to you. See what you can get on that body guard:
his name, his past." Steve found a sudden rush of new energy and
a desire to get back into the thick of the fight -- to solve the crime.
"Chin, follow up with Che. Have him expand that fingerprint search
if he needs to. Most body guards have a sorted past of one kind or another.
See if he can get a rush on the FBI results. I'll be at the office."
Dealing with IAD, our medical insurance representative and John Manicote,
he thought but did not mention.
Ben never felt comfortable in medical settings. Somehow he had always been blessed to stay uninjured while his friends and co-workers seemed to attract all kinds of bodily damage. Steve, Chin even Duke had been targets in the last two years. And Danny -- the vivid images of his torture just a few months ago were still fresh. Now this. The nurse directed him to the cubicle and he stood in the doorway for a moment, taken aback by the halo traction. He forced himself to walk to the bedside and into Danny's field of vision. "Hey, Bruddah."
Danny gave a grin. "How's it going?"
"You're lying to me," Danny replied abruptly.
Ben bit the inside of his cheek. "So this -- thing -- has made you clairvoyant now?"
Danny did not answer.
"I am so sorry," Danny said with sincerity. "What happened?"
Ben sighed. "First there was when I missed the dinner with her parents. Her dad took full advantage of that. I tried to make it up to her. Last night I asked her to elope with me."
"Elope?" Danny did not know whether to cheer or complain. Whichever, he had something to think about beyond his own life experiences for the moment.
"We did it. Judge Tapika married us."
"Congratulations -- but I thought you just told me things were off."
He gave a slow nod. "This morning's National Enquirer had a picture of Ally Stamper and me on the front page."
"Iliki came unglued. She just -- flipped out." Suddenly Ben felt nearly overwhelmed with the frustration and futility of his relationship. "Danny, I just -- don't know where to go with this."
"She'll come around, you'll see."
"I don't know -- she was pretty mad." He sighed. "I guess you were right. Maybe Five-0 and marriage are not compatible. I actually had my resignation letter started yesterday."
"Maybe I wasn't right," Danny murmured. "Chin does it, so does Duke. Steve needs you now. You need to be there for him."
For Steve? He's lying there completely incapacitated and is thinking about what McGarrett's needs are. I should not be surprised, but I am. And I just dumped my worries on him, too. Guilt burst into his consciousness. "Look, Danny. I'm sorry. I shouldn't be putting all this on you right now."
He managed a half chuckle. "Why not? I haven't got a hell of a lot else to do except lay here and try to move a finger."
Ben wasn't sure how to respond. "Steve says it's too early."
Danny scowled. "Poke my leg, will you?"
"Just squeeze my leg or something."
Ben touched Danny's left ankle.
"Come on. Harder, like you mean it."
He did. "Feel that?"
He did not answer the question. "Thanks, Ben."
"You're going to be all right," Ben said with confidence.
Danny shifted his gaze back to the blank ceiling. "I need to get a poster of the North Shore to put on the ceiling." What if this really is my life now? I cannot imagine this. To be totally dependent on someone else for my existence, unable to feed myself, bathe myself, dress myself. And how long before my friends tire of the burden? How long can I live like this? Five years, ten, fifteen. Panic and desperation were rising in his mind.
"Danny," Ben said to him. "I cannot imagine how awful this is. Dammit, I've never so much as turned my ankle on the job. But I can promise you that I will always be there for you. Always. And if there is any way to beat this you know we will find it. And you know how stubborn Steve can be. You can bet that he isn't going to just let this happen to you either. You hear me, bruddah?"
He did not want to cry tears he could not wipe away for himself, but his body betrayed him yet again. "Yeah," he murmured.
Che's look was victorious as he showed Steve his latest findings. "The lubricant is actually a liquid moisturizer. Only one brand of it -- sold by a Swiss company out of Zurich in a tube for lip therapy." He handed a photo of the product to Steve. "I already checked and it isn't sold in the Islands -- or the US for that matter. Whoever bought it ordered it from Switzerland."
"That should reduce the possibilities a lot," Steve remarked. He handed the photo to Duke. "Make contact with the company -- see if they can come up with names of folks from the US that have ordered this stuff in the last two years. Let's see who we find."
"The fingerprints on the window ledge are not local either, and not Rickie Mattingly or anyone else we have prints on from the cast."
"I didn't really expect they would be," Steve replied. "Most of them were on the set. Did you include Larry Mattingly?"
"Still waiting for his file from California. We'll probably have the FBI result back first. With the holiday it may be Monday."
"The cast will be moving on to Maui in the morning. At least they'll be better isolated."
"We could shut them down," Chin suggested.
"And deal with the Governor again?" Steve shook his head. "They will still be our jurisdiction. And perhaps they won't be as careful. Anything else, Che?"
"Yes. I isolated the two bodyguards from the tape." He handed over two small slightly fuzzy photos. "The Los Angeles PD did have records on both of them. Lucius Garrod and Oscar Feccilini. Their prints did not match the window sill."
"The third bodyguard," Duke surmised.
Steve nodded. "Do we have a photo of him?"
"Chin, get out to the site. I want him brought in for questioning."
"Che, any more on that potassium chloride?"
"Chemistry suggests it was in an orange he ate. My guess is it was injected into it. He ate it within an hour of his death. I checked the trash we had saved from Wiseman's room. There was an orange skin. Testing it now. My guess is it is the source."
Chin parked the car and motioned to two uniformed officers who'd followed him in their black-n-white to wait at the car. "Let's not make a scene, just be ready in case he runs," he advised them. He found Ben near Jack's trailer. "We need to take that bodyguard in."
Ben nodded. "Moreland's going over lines in a conference room in the hotel. Bodyguards should be there."
Chin motioned back to the uniformed men and they repositioned themselves inside the lobby.
Upon the arrival of police once again to his establishment, the hotel manager gave a worried look. "Is this really necessary?" He asked.
Chin gave a look of consternation. "What do you think?" He spotted the three bodyguards at a table, dressed in casual island attire playing cards -- yet one of them had his head up and alert at any given moment.
Chin and Ben exchanged glances. "Let's do this," Ben remarked, feeling his adrenalin rising.
As soon as they entered the patio, all three guards heads were up and looking at them. They were almost as quickly dismissed once they were identified as "friendlies." Ben wondered how long that would last.
"You," Chin pointed to the unidentified one. "Your ID please."
He carefully reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out his wallet, opening it to his driver's license.
Ben accepted it. "Mr. Mariotti, can I assume you have a permit for that piece you're carrying as well?"
Mariotti rolled his eyes and pulled the small arms permit from his wallet, and a card that identified him as a former Orange County police officer.
Ben passed them to Chin. "The weapon please."
Mariotti withdrew a snubnose with two fingers and passed it to Chin.
"We need to have you come with us."
"Why?" he asked in a very non-threatening way.
"Routine questions," Chin replied his gaze following Mariotti as he rose from the table to tower over even Ben who stood 6'3". Chin guessed that he was almost six foot nine inches and all muscle. "How much you weigh?"
Mariotti gave a grin. "Is that part of the questioning?" He seemed unconcerned about their presence.
"Come with us -- please," Ben stated.
He shrugged and straightened his jacket. "Lead on."
They all went to Chin's car, Mariotti noting the presence of the uniformed officers who fell in behind them. He grinned in a friendly way as he got into the back seat next to Ben. "You boys were just a little nervous, huh?"
Ben did not reply. This guy is disarmingly open, sincere, friendly -- and a killer with past experience in law enforcement. What will he do when cornered?
Steve had Mariotti wait in the outer office, a uniformed officer on either side. He looked over the ID and the weapon having accepted a very brief report from Ben and Chin that included Mariotti's past. "Get his background now. I don't care what time it is in California, or who you have to wake up. Understood?" Steve demanded of Ben.
Moments later, Steve called Mariotti into his office. "Antonio Mariotti," he motioned him towards a seat without a handshake. "I am Steve McGarrett of Hawaii Five-0."
Mariotti gave a nod and sat down before the desk, rearranged his large frame for comfort, then crossed his legs.
He thinks he is in control, or at least can take control, Steve observed. He is probably prepared with all the routine answers. Let's see what happens. "On the morning of the 22nd, where were you?"
"I had an asthma attack. I was in my room," Antonio answered.
"Can you prove that? Was anyone with you?"
Antonio gave a quiet smile. "I'm not in to the ladies -- it is a weakness. Not into to the boys either."
"Really? What are you in to?"
"My responsibility, McGarrett."
"The protection of Jack Moreland -- and just the protection of Jack Moreland."
Steve noticed how intense Mariotti's responses were. Reminds of me of the Marines. "Did you see Ronnie Wiseman on that morning?"
"Yes, I did. He was in the dining room when I came down. I took a fruit plate back to my room. He was there with Allison Stamper I think."
"Remember what he was eating?"
Antonio thought for a moment. "He had one of those little cups of yogurt, a cup of coffee, a granola bar. I remember because the word was he ate like a horse -- but it seemed like he wasn't living up to that reputation."
Allison Stamper said she was going to get him into a fat farm -- maybe she was trying to get him to tone down already. It fits with the stomach contents Che described -- except the orange that was the vehicle for the potassium. "Anything else?"
He shook his head. "I didn't stick around. I had that asthma attack coming on -- I needed my inhaler."
"You didn't have it with you?"
"I usually do, but not right then."
"Your room is on the sixth floor?"
"And you took the elevator?"
"Well, I usually would have run the steps -- good exercise, but -- I was having an asthma attack -- remember?"
"Yes, I do. So why didn't you just call room service?"
Antonio was silent for a moment. "I just didn't."
"Did you see Wiseman again after that?"
The door opened and Ben entered with a note.
Steve glanced at it. "The Orange County sheriff's office says you were terminated two years ago. Would you care to comment on that?"
He shrugged. "I was moonlighting with bodyguard work. The sheriff didn't like it. Said it could be a conflict. I had to choose -- so I did. A lot more money and less danger working for Moreland."
"I can imagine," Steve commented. "Were you in Wiseman's room on the morning of the 22nd?"
"No." Mariotti was completely unruffled by the questioning. "Look, McGarrett, let's stop the dance, okay? I know where you're going with this. You know I wasn't with the others the morning of Wiseman's death. I had opportunity. I also have the ability, but what I don't have is motive. Why should I care if the guy lived or died?"
Steve's jaw set. "Your boss had reasons to have him removed."
"Jack? Murder for hire?" Antonio gave a grin. "Doesn't fit his character -- and you can't prove it. So, either arrang me or send me back. My past will reveal I had an honorable discharge from the military ten years ago, served as a civilian instructor for the Marines another five before signing on in Orange County. From there, I went into Jack's service. Clean, neat and nothing mysterious." He smiled.
Sonofabitch. He did it. He knows we know he did it. And he thinks we can't prove it. I can arrest him now -- but only hold him 48 hours most of which will be a holiday. I am not likely to get anything more before Monday. If I let him go, he can still legally leave the state. Perhaps he's too arrogant to flee. A chance I'll have to take. "All right, Mariotti. You're free to go," Steve said simply.
He rose. "A pleasure meeting you, McGarrett." He walked to the door, opened it and walked out without looking back.
"Steve?" Both Chin and Ben came to his office doorway.
"We need that source of potassium chloride and where the orange came from," Steve said hotly. "Ben, I want you to work with Che. Help him however you can."
He gave a nod. I don't have anything left anyway. Danny was right. There isn't anything else. A personal life cannot coexist with my Five-0 one. And for the time it looks like this decision has been made by fate. Iliki - I loved you!
Steve, completely unaware of the conflict within Ben, turned to Chin and placed an arm on his shoulder. "I need you to do something only you can do."
Chin looked at him expectantly.
"I want Mariotti's military past. If it was going to be easy, he would not have flaunted it the way he did. My guess is it isn't going to as simple as contacting the veteran's office."
Their eyes met. "I understand, Steve."
Ally's mother rarely was out, but had gone to have her hair done. Ally felt relieved to have a few moments to herself, even if it was to complete homework. She had promised the tutor that she would complete the next section of physics and have it ready for inspection in his arrival to Hawaii just after Thanksgiving. Her physics text and multiple sheets of notes scattered across the couch and floor. She often wished she could have a normal life with friends by for sleepovers, cafeteria lunches and metal hall lockers. She had never taken a yellow school bus or sat in an open classroom where the boys played pranks and the girls passed notes. Sometimes she ached to be average.
There was a knock at the room door. Knowing that the bodyguard her mother always placed close by would have stopped anyone dangerous, she opened it. "Jack!" she recognized Moreland in surprise.
"How's my sweetheart?" he asked gently and brought a bouquet of island flowers from behind his back. "For you."
"Oh my!" She stepped back from the door, accepting the blooms. "They are beautiful!"
"I thought you might need a little something to brighten your afternoon about now," he said kindly. He glanced down at the school work. "God, I remember this awful stuff!"
"You remember your high school physics?" she asked.
"Of course I do. It scarred me for life," he said with a playful grin.
"I don't suppose you could help me with this?" she asked cautiously.
He made a broad bow. "At your service, my lady." He picked up the text and the pile of papers, sat down on the couch and motioned her next to him. She slid in close, watching as he glanced over some of the work. "Not hard, really. Most of physics is common sense once you get it." He began to explain the physics problem, pressing close against her, leaning slowly closer to her face as the explanation proceeded. "See? Try that now."
She accepted the pencil from him and began to the work the problem as he drew even closer, his arm around her drawing her against him. "This way?" she asked, her dark brown eyes looking up into his deep blue ones.
His gaze locked her attention. "Yes," he whispered. "Very much this way." He suddenly kissed her softly on the lips.
She gave a little gasp.
"Forgive me!" he blurted, pulling slightly away from her as though in emotional astonishment. "I have no idea what came over me."
She stared at him, astonished.
He paused, his next comment timed perfectly. "Allison, have you no idea what a beautiful woman you are?"
My mother thinks I am still a child. It is wonderful to hear someone call me a woman! And someone like Jack Moreland -- this gorgeous man!
He persisted. "I know you are in grieving over poor Ronnie. This is so shameful of me, but you are so breath-taking -- I cannot resist you." She will buy this. They always do. I can just imagine her soft body, so young, so fragrant, so unspoiled. Her mother wants me interested in her -- she keeps parading her by me. If the old battle-axe wants some money out of that, I can make that happen. "Allison, I am falling in love with you," he whispered into her ear and breathed softly on her young, sweet-smelling neck.
"Jack, I --- " She was at a loss for words.
"Please," he said softly and intently, "I can make your name a household word. I will see to it that you get the leading lady in my next picture."
"Can you do that?"
"Of course, I have the resources. I can hire my own production company. Ally, I will make you a star -- you and me," he said, leaning over her by now, the physics long forgotten.
"But my mother-"
"You don't have to allow her to make your decisions any more. You can leave your mother and come live with me. You are a woman -- and beautiful, sexy, mature and flowering, sensual woman. Anyone can see that." He kissed her again, this time more deeply on the lips and she responded, slowly at first, then with greater passion.
When they parted she whispered. "This isn't right. Ronnie-"
"Ronnie would want happiness for you," Jack said gently. "I know he would. We can make the bond of our relationship a tribute to his love for you."
That did not quite make sense to Ally, but she was half-afraid to say so. Wasn't this a dream come true? Jack was a famous star; he could get her into major roles, promote her career. And a leading role in his next picture -- it was too much to ask for. And to be free from her suffocating mother was something she had longed for. "Did Ronnie tell you -"
"About your pregnancy? Yes. Don't be afraid," he whispered. "There is plenty of time for children later. I will help you take care of this. Your career must come first." He ran a hand across her stomach beneath her tight halter top and felt her tremble. "Ally," he whispered, his face in hers, his body against hers gently pressing her down onto the couch. "My love, trust me. I will show you more beauty that you could ever imagine."
She could feel his hands sliding beneath her shirt and for an instant remembered Ronnie. Their first love-making had been a bumbling, childish exploration, both embarrassing and fascinating and a brief moment of joy. This was nothing like that. Everything Jack was doing was from experience and he knew just how to touch, where to touch, just how much in such a way that she felt as though her very body was singing with pleasure. Who could say no to such magnificence? She lay back on the couch tingling with anticipation.
Clara Williams looked around the room as the hospital public relations advisor stood patiently beside her. Hawaii was often a destination of the influential and although rarely did they anticipate medical emergencies, those occasions always meant his job became essential towards calming them, providing them with undivided attention hopefully to return major donations towards the hospital's work at some later time. With the filming of a motion picture going on, he was not surprised when he'd been called upon -- but he had not expected it to come from outside Andersen's group.
"It is a little small," Clara commented, hands clasped together as she paced off the solarium on the third floor.
"This is the largest meeting area here," he replied. "And since your nephew can't leave this floor," he shrugged, "we are a little limited." I wonder what the nursing staff will say to removing a critical patient from the neuro unit for his aunt's football party. He helped her get ideas for table placement and where the staff would place her nephew, almost as though the patient was part of the furniture. He'd have maintenance install a ceiling mirror this afternoon. He'd provided her a list of caterers but she already knew who she would use -- unfortunately not one the administration had worked with before, but that was only a minor inconvenience. At last all of her demands had been met, the advisor looked over his sheet, decided which strings he would need to pull with whom to have this come to pass. Getting alcoholic beverages into her party would by far be the most difficult part -- but rules were made to be broken.
As Clara shook the man's hand in parting she thought: A very nice man. Someone who is used to buttering people up. No doubt I will receive an invitation to take part in some renovation project at some time. And maybe that's not all bad. She turned and headed into ICU. I had thought about donating something major to the memory of my brother. This might be a good time to do that. One of the nurses waved to her with a smile as she headed for Danny's cubicle. "How is he doing this evening?" Clara asked.
"Improving, Ms. Williams," she reported. "Stable and getting ornery."
Clara smiled. "That's my Danny." She entered the cubicle. "Good evening, Danny." She came to the bed and kissed his forehead, trying not to look at the screws on the halo traction. "How are you feeling?"
"I don't feel anything," he said tolerantly. Dammit, I can't even keep her from treating me like a five-year-old.
She glanced at the evening meal tray of apple juice, orange gelatin and chicken broth. "You aren't eating."
She gave a superior sniff. "Can't say it looks very appealing." Her eyes lit up. "Danny, I have a surprise for you."
He tried to glance at her. What now?
"I have decided to throw a football party for you tomorrow," she announced.
"I know it's hard to keep track of time in here - tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I have invited your friends from the office - and Jenny helped me select a few others - all to a Turkey Day football party we'll hold in a meeting room at the end of the hall."
"Aunt Clara, I don't want to party."
She beamed. "You just feel that way now. You'll see. You shall feel so much better! The Cowboys will play the Redskins! I know how much you like Roger Staubach."
"I don't care about Roger Staubach - you follow the Cowboys, not me."
Her smile faded only slightly. "Well, the Baltimore Colts are having such a bad season -maybe you should have decided to follow the Rams or Steelers."
"I don't want to talk football," he said flatly.
"Okay, then how about some of this soup, it's getting cold." She picked up a spoon.
"I'm not hungry," he answered.
She crossed her arms. "All right, what can I do for you?"
Go away. But he knew better than to say that. "Poke my leg."
"Danny, I have done this six times today," she remarked.
"And maybe this time something will happen."
Without further argument, she walked to the foot of the bed and tapped Danny's ankle with a finger nail.
"Did you do it?" he demanded.
"Yes," she answered gruffly, hiding her own disappointment. "Now, you need to eat something."
He did not reply.
"It just so happens I have something else here. Lilly Kelley's egg drop soup." She pulled the Tupperware bowl from her large purse. "It's probably not as warm as it could be." She could tell she had his attention. "Try some?"
"Okay," he murmured half to get her to stop fussing, but Chin's wife's egg drop soup was definitely worth the amount of effort this would require.
The trip from the plastic bowl to his mouth was a tumultuous one, soup dripped on the sheets and on Danny's gown. And the art of swallowing while flat on his back was one Danny was struggling to master. Aunt Clara's anxiety seemed to rise as the soup splashed. "I can see why you don't want to eat," she commented.
"It's all right," he said, feeling sorry for her frustration. "I think with practice we'll get better at it." Practice? I don't want to practice this. I don't want to even consider this may be permanent.
Just as Clara was about to say something, Chin came into the room. "Chin Ho!" she said joyfully. "Danny, Chin is here."
"So I guessed," he commented.
"Hi, Danny." He came close, noting the mess from the soup. "The egg drop soup any good?"
"Lilly's soup is always the best," he remarked.
"Must be - looks like you're workin' for it," he remarked. "I wanted you to know that we're making some progress with the Wiseman killing."
"What's happening?" he asked, relieved to be included in the team's events.
"Looks like Moreland has a third bodyguard - Antonio Mariotti - who was not accounted for that morning. Video tape shows a guy with a ring on his middle finger in Wiseman's window - Mariotti has a ring."
"Talk to him?"
Chin nodded. "Steve did. Guy doesn't scare easy. His military past seems to have some holes in it Steve would like filled."
Danny did not say anything.
Chin sighed and glanced at Clara. "Can we have a minute?"
"I have a guest list to complete," she announced and headed out of the door.
Chin watched her leave. "A guest list?"
"Don't ask. But you are probably on it. Chin, I don't think we'll be able to get the files from Special Ops. Steve kind of burned that bridge for us. Camp isn't going to want to play."
Chin scowled. "We should be able to blackmail him if necessary."
"Blackmail? Marten Camp? Do not even think about it, do you understand me?" Danny tried to calm himself. The very thought of Chin Ho attempting to power-play Camp brought chills to him.
"Steve wants him contacted."
"Then Steve should do it himself."
"He doesn't think that will work."
"I don't either," Danny admitted.
"Danny," Chin paused. "There has been no media leak about what happened to you. If Camp were to find out would he help?"
Would he? Camp is impossible to predict. Maybe. He did show up during the Stasi event - even though my rescue to him was secondary. Camp has had a tough time with the company since then. He received a written reprimand in his file. He blames Steve. "Is there another way?"
Chin slowly shook his head. "Don't think so, Bruddah. We need Mariotti's file and fingerprints."
"Okay," he agreed. "There's a post office box Camp uses at the Merchant Street post office. Box 007."
"007? You're kidding," Chin remarked.
Danny managed a small smile. "Camp is about the theatrics."
Chin gave a wry look. "I guess so."
"Don't know how often he checks it," Danny added. "I haven't tried to contact him in a long time."
"Glad to hear it," Chin assured him.
Steve met John Manicote in the parking garage attached to the downtown office building that housed the offices of the medical insurance office. Balkin and Maxwell had called another meeting.
John commented that it was surprising to hear from them so soon. He still had all of Steve's paperwork under his arm.
"Is that good or bad?" Steve asked.
John pressed the button for the elevator the lit up. "They must have a strong hand. Usually they will stall for months if it looks like they might have to pay something. Hate to say it, but looks like they must think they are coming from a pretty solid place."
The doors slid open and they stepped into the car. "How could they go after Danny under these circumstances?" Steve mumbled.
John gave a wry expression. "Danny? I think it's you, Steve. IAD won't care about Danny. They'll be after you."
"You approved the disability, then let him come back."
"He couldn't stand it. It was just a couple of hours at a time."
John sighed. "You don't have to explain it to me. I just need more time to find a way out of this." He found the button marked 5 on the pad of the elevator and pressed it.
Moments later they were stepping out onto the fifth floor that was totally comprised of the insurance company. A secretary motioned them towards a conference room where Hariett and Chad were already waiting. A formal handshaking commenced purely for social reasons - none of them felt very congenial, then they sat - John and Steve on one side - Chad and Hariett on the other.
"We felt it best to move things along quickly," Hariett started. "It would be in Mr. Williams' best interests to work this out quickly."
"Really?" Steve stated. "Is that to reassure St. Francis that you are paying the bills?"
Her expression was stone. "It would be premature to make any assumptions. You have completed the required forms?"
John passed the large file over the table to her. She began to scan the papers.
Chad spoke. "Mr. McGarrett, I need to be certain you are aware of your rights."
"My rights? You want to know if I know the Miranda? I'm chief of Five-0 for godssakes," he snapped. "And my attorney is present."
Chad lifted an eyebrow. "You were the one that filed for Mr. Williams disability following an accident in September?"
"Not an accident. An attack," Steve corrected.
"Not related to Five-0. File indicates it might be related to military service - Is Mr. Williams active in the reserve?"
Hariett looked like she was involved in the paperwork but suddenly commented. "Mr. Williams is not eligible for VA benefits - I checked."
Chad scolded and folded his hands on the table before him. "Is there an explanation for how a man can be injured in military service, yet not be eligible for VA benefits?"
John spoke. "Mr. Williams will invoke his fifth amendment rights."
Chad literally grimaced. "Fifth amendment? Isn't that like admitting some kind of guilt?"
"No - it might tend to suggest that," John snapped back. "In this case, he would not be free to discuss this matter."
Hariett looked up from the work. "Mr. McGarrett, it is final decision of Oahu Life that Mr. Williams' earlier claim is rejected on the grounds that it may be the result of a terrorist act. I suggest that he appeal to the VA in some manner to attempt to get this addressed. As for his present injury - the hotel has completed the incident report, but is clearly not at fault. Because he was performing duties without medical release, we are not compelled to cover this incident."
Steve growled. "And you get to make this call independently? You didn't even read all the paperwork. I spent over 12 hours putting that together. Certainly there is someone higher than you to take this to!"
"Easy," John murmured, touching Steve's elbow.
McGarrett tried to control his anger, ordered his hands to relax, the indignation on his face to melt away. I have to do this right. Help me, John! Say something!
Chad had been quiet for a moment. "McGarrett tell me about Williams' return to work."
"Technically, he did not return to work," John said for Steve.
"Technically?" Chad echoed.
"He was visiting - just lending a hand. He was not on the clock," John added.
"But he was taking statements at the Moana Surfrider, wasn't he?"
John held out the log of statements that had been cataloged. "I don't see his initials on any of them."
Chad grudgingly accepted the photocopy. "Then why was he at the hotel Monday night?"
John gave an innocent looking shrug. "Visiting someone? He just happened to slip in the stairway." He glanced back at Hariett. "A simple accident that could happen to anyone. People like to know they can trust their medical insurance to be there for them in a crisis after an accident."
She simple scowled more deeply and did not reply.
Chad's expression darkened. "This won't work, John. We all know that he was working for Five-0 on or off the clock."
"You may think you know it, but you'll have to prove it. Williams could choose to visit anywhere he likes. He wasn't actively engaging in official police work at the Moana Surfrider."
"And what about his actions at Five-0 offices. He was actively working on the report for Jonathan Kaye."
"Jonathan Kaye is a United State Senator - not part of Five-0."
Chad shook his head. "That won't work, John. Kaye assigned that to Five-0. McGarrett assigned it to Williams."
John suddenly sat more erect in his chair and scribbled something in his notepad. He turned to Steve and whispered into his ear: "There is no elevator in the Iolani Palace."
Steve blinked. "What? No, there isn't."
John looked back at Chad and Hariett. "Excuse us just a minute." He pulled Steve's arm and they stepped out into the hallway. "The Rehabilitation Act of 1973," John murmured.
"The what?" Steve murmured.
"Danny couldn't come back to work because he walked with a cane and there is no elevator in the Iolani Palace. You could not legally require him back to work. He was free to come and go as he chose, to do with his time as he chose provided he stayed off the clock." John gave his first smile. He turned towards a secretary. "I need a phone." She offered him a line. He quickly dialed a number. When the operator answered he said, "Doc Bergman."
Six minutes later, John and Steve reentered the conference room, John clutching a fax sheet in one hand.
"Are you ready to continue?" Hariett asked, mildly annoyed at the delay.
"Yes," John said with a grin. "I think this will explain our stand very effectively." He handed them the faxed letter from Bergman.
"This was just written now!" Hariett announced angrily.
"It contains Dr. Bergman's professional medical statement for conditions that existed on Monday," John retorted. "Bergman claims Williams would have been fit for duty on Monday if stair-climbing was not involved. According to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Steve would have been violating Danny's right to make him return to work - there is no elevator in the Iolani Palace. If Danny chose to come in to visit - even to do light work that was find - as long as he stayed off the clock. So - he was fit to be on the first floor of the Moana Surfrider assisting officers if he chose. He was also fit to take the elevator to the sixth floor and review the crime scene."
"But his injury did not result from being on the sixth floor," she snapped.
"It resulted from an exchange that started on the sixth floor," John explained. "The state of Hawaii cannot require Williams to be back at work nor can the state refuse him the opportunity to work due to the provisions of the Rehabilitation Act passed last year by Congress." He paused. "So, if Oahu Life persists in this vein, I will advise Mr. Williams to sue the state in federal court for violation of his civil rights." John paused. "I think that might influence renewal of your contract. This is November - I am sure that is being negotiated right this minute."
Chad blurted: "Manicote, you are a state employee. You can't tell another state employee to sue your mutual employer! That is unethical."
John glared at him. "Somehow I'm not sure we want your ethics examined too closely either."
Hariett rose abruptly, her expression one of hostility. "We will take this under advisement and get back to you."
John and Steve headed out of the office and back to the
elevator to the parking garage. As the doors of the elevator carriage
slid shut, John leaned over and kissed the metal surface.
End part 6