When the Song Dies
by Peg Keeley

Malama Kanae gazed with mixed feelings out of the airliner window as it taxied across the airport to a halt. How long has it been? Five years? Six? I was always going to come home, but something always got in the way. Well, I'm here now. Home at last after so long. The people here always loved me, accepted me. What if no one comes? It was difficult to think about being rejected. She shivered, imagining a large, silent stage with thousands of empty seats staring silently at her. The nightmare plagued her nearly every night. This is my home, these are my people. I am one of them. She smoothed her jeans and shirt. She continued to watch through the portal, drinking in everything she saw as the liner turned towards the terminal. A group of about thirty people were standing beyond the fence with several banners that scrawled out "Welcome Home" and "We love you, Mali!" She gave a little gasp of pleasure. "Look, Alf! Look!" Sounding like a small child, She clapped her hands.

"Press is at the gate," the large, blond-haired, blue eyed man leaned across the isle to say.

She smiled back, her features as dark as his were fair. "Thanks, Alf. Why am I so nervous?"

"They're your people, Mali, they'll love you." He reassured her.

She turned on a smile. "Of course they will. This wahine has come home." She jumped to her feet. "I've got to go! I can't keep them waiting!" Her tone unexpectedly hardened. "Tell Randall not to screw up and drop anything."

He turned away without further comment.

Mali's concert was the talk all over Oahu and no less than in the Five-O department. Kono had spent the better half of the morning arranging tickets through his brother-in-law and was thirty minutes late for the mandatory mid-day briefing.

"Sorry, Boss," he mumbled, a fistful of business envelopes clutched in his hands. "Bunch of people was depending on me."

Steve McGarrett raised an eyebrow. "Get the earlier business from Duke later."

Kono gave an uncomfortable glance at Duke and slipped him an envelope.

"Kono, just how many people did you get tickets for?" Steve suddenly asked.

He blinked in surprise. "Fifty tickets for nineteen people. Charlie gave the PBA a fifteen percent discount."

McGarrett nodded and continued. "They're predicting a sellout for all three nights."

"She was born here," Kimo commented, wanting to prove he'd done his homework on this phenomenon. "Blood is thick," he added with a shrug.

"Yes," Steve nodded, "but why suddenly now? Hawaii wasn't on her original tour itinerary."

"Her last release bombed in LA," Danny remarked a bit coldly. "Maybe she's come home to lick her wounds."

Everyone but Steve looked at him in surprise. It seemed unpatriotic to speak badly about the visiting local celebrity.

Steve went on. "HPD reports this morning that in the last 48 hours there's been an increase in cocaine availability. There's enough stuff piling onto this island to sink it. The dealers were just about giving it away. The small time sellers are all being undersold."

"Somebody's getting greedy in the market," Duke judged, getting back to business.

"And spending a lot to do it," Steve responded. "He's must be planning on getting a mother lode from somewhere. The FBI informed me that last week there was the same build up in San Francisco. Before that, Houston. Before that St. Paul."

"The route of Mali's concert tour," Danny observed.

Kimo looked at him in surprise, a teasing grin on his face. "Gee, Danny, I thought you were down on this Mali thing. Do we have a closet fan here?"

He did not reply, but it was plain he thought it was neither funny or a conversation topic.

Steve continued. "Texas Rangers came to the same conclusion. They placed an officer inside; he was killed in what appeared to be a freak electrocution accident." He walked to the window and back. "I don't need to tell you that we need to tread lightly. It all may be co-incidence. The mayor and city council see dollar signs from concert profits. I have been told pretty bluntly by the tourism board that it would not be nice to implicate a home grown girl who's made it big on the main land. Governor Masakasi has stated clearly he won't have us doing anything flashy. We need to be extra careful that we handle this discreetly."

"Flashy?" Kono asked.

Duke crossed his arms. "He's new on the job. No sense getting the public mad at him this early in his career.

"You want to put somebody on the inside?" Kimo asked, transparent that he'd relish the undercover job.

Steve raised an eyebrow. "Ideally, but it can't be just anyone."

Duke agreed. "They made the Ranger--and iced him. They won't be quick to accept just anyone."

"How about an old friend, down on his luck, needs a job?" Steve explained his plan.

Danny sat back in his chair gazing at McGarrett a moment. He could at least have asked me privately first. Steve always has been good at putting me on the spot. Some things never change. "That old friendship died a long time ago," he stated.

"Something we all don't know about here?" Kimo asked.

"Malama and I grew up together. Kid next door sort of thing." Danny filled in. This was a place he did not want to go, and a subject he did not wish to discuss with Carew or anyone else. "Our paths parted a long time ago."

"When did you see her last?" Steve asked.

Damn him, he already knows this answer. "1960."

Kimo chuckled. "You never wrote?"

He glared. "I never write anyone."

"It's been long enough ago that she doesn't know what you do now but would still remember you," Steve decided.

"Well, we didn't exactly part as friends," Danny added, his last attempt to change this plan.

"Good, it'll give you a good starting place," McGarrett answered.

Mali was thrilled as she danced across the stage of the Waikiki Shell before the empty seats. "As a child I dreamed of singing here someday. For all the places I've been, I've only sung here once before. I want to use a new show format. I've got some Hawaiian cultural tunes. Get this to the band. This will be heaven," she announced to Alf, handing him a disorganized mound of sheet music. The nightmares of empty seats had been pushed away by her vision of cheering crowds. The clapping, adoration, to feel the enthusiasm of the crowd that she could control by the mere turn of her body, or tone of her voice. The power to emotionally move those who came to see her. Yes, that was it--to see me.

Alf turned away, trying to sift through the scores. "Most of those guys don't know Hawaiian music. I'm not sure they can get it down by tomorrow night. They won't like this."

"Make them try. If we can just use a couple it would mean a lot to the people here. Tell them I said to make it happen."

He sighed. Alf wasn't very happy with being a manager. He used to be a musician, he still wanted to be. But that was before Mali had overtaken his life. He knew he could have prevented it, but he knew he was too much in love with her to even attempt to overrule her let alone leave her. Not that she ever seemed to notice. She was a flirt; usually in every place they stopped for longer than two days she was off with a new romance. But she always returns to me. "The people here are looking forward to this. All three nights are sold out. Maybe we don't have to risk the new stuff." He smiled broadly, pleased to see her to happy. She'd been so driven and frightened these last few months. The decision to come here had been a good one. Maybe it didn't matter that there was a money deal behind it, it was still emotionally good for Mali to return to her home. He didn't much care for the palm trees, flowers, and birds. He'd grown up on the streets of Detroit and this was all pretty alien to him. But it was good for her.

"Alf," she came to him and placed her slender arms around his thick waist. "I really owe them. I want to find a way to thank them. It will be so special. My greatest concert ever. Just think, my greatest fans are here. My old friends, school teachers. My people."

He could not help but notice it sounded more like she was claiming sovereignty than identifying with the islanders. He picked up a pair of wire cutters. "It seems every concert is better than the last," he commented. "You've nothing to worry about."

She looked back across the rows of empty seats. Her mood suddenly shifted and a haunted look overtook her. "Someday they won't care anymore," she whispered. "They won't remember me."

"No one who's met you ever forgets you," he assured her, rising and putting a protecting arm around her.

She suddenly swung back into her cheerful mood, as if his one reassuring sentence was all it took. "And it's going to be great here. You'll see. Hawaii is so wonderful."

"Well, it is different," he remarked, returning to his amplifier.

"Oh, Alf, this is paradise! Relax and enjoy it!"

"I'll be happy when you collect your six million and we get back to the ol' USA."

"This is the United States!" she announced, hands on hips, laughter in her voice.

"No, McDonalds and Pizza Hut is USA, not Mama Koa's Poi Palace."

She giggled.

Danny, wearing a flowered shirt and cutoffs, came around the far right corner of the stage. He spotted her immediately and could not help pausing. Before his mind flashed the image of the little smiling child, black hair matted with sand, chasing sea gulls across the sand. The thought was chased by the beautiful maiden lying across the blanket on that same beach in the light of the full moon. The maiden to whom he'd lost his innocence.
"Mali," he said quietly.

She turned, hearing the sound, recognized him, and a smile blossomed on her face. "My God!" For a moment she stood transfixed.

Alf jumped up, indignant rage plain. "Hey!" He leapt off the stage, his large six foot six, 280 pound frame imposing as he approached Danny with every intention on being in charge. "How'd you get in here?!"

"Alf," she called out. "Wait!" She scrambled down to the asphalt and raced towards them. "Danny!" She threw her arms around him, surprising him as much as Alf. "I'd know you anywhere! Still haven't grown an inch since high school! Alf, Danny Williams. We grew up together. My God, I don't believe it!" She smoothed her long hair with a hand, and tugged at her shirt.

Alf was not impressed and he did not miss the quick primping act. This is not going to happen again. He is not going to woo his way in here. The fact Mali mentioned knowing this guy made him all the more the threat. "How'd you get in here?" he demanded again, anger plain.

"You look lovelier than ever, Mali," Danny said pleasantly, ignoring Alf. This monkey isn't going to pull that act on me. Besides, if Mali was anything like she used to be, she was calling the shots, not giagantor here. "I wasn't really sure you'd want to see me."

"Of course I would!" she said happily, then hesitated. "Oh, that! You've still had that working on you? I forgot it long ago."

"It's all long past, Mali," he replied. "I just wanted to see you again. You made it big like you said you would."

She smiled. "I sure did. And how about you? Last I heard you went to Berkley."

"Oh, I'm doing okay," he said, deliberately sounding evasive. "I finished school, but I had to come back. I missed it here too much."

"I've missed it, too," she admitted.

But apparently not that much, he thought to himself.

"Your aunt still living?"


Mama neither. She died last year. Did you know that?"

He nodded. "I went to her funeral."

She was slightly embarrassed. "I know I should have made it but -- well," she shrugged," -- she'd have understood." She slipped her arm into Alf's, an action that Alf found quite reassuring. "I've got Alf here for family now."

Danny glanced at Alf. The return look gave the definite message that Mali was spoken for and he could die for trying to change it.

"So, what are you doing with yourself, Danny?" asked Mali without catching the exchange of expressions between the two men.

"Oh, you know." He gave a shrug. "Things here and there." His non-committed response had been pre-planned, but it made him just a little uncomfortable. He was keeping one eye on Alf.

She gave a sly smile. "You're not out showing sexy rich tourists the town are you?" Before he could respond, she added enthusiastically: "Why don't you come work for me? We could always plug you in somewhere. Come on, Danny, it would be fun!"

"Mali!" Alf roared, jumping free from her arm.

"Well, I could use the money," Danny replied, ignoring Alf's comment, but not loosing the opportunity of giving a smug smile.

"I need a go-fer," Mali snapped at Alf. "He's an old friend."

"You haven't seen him in 20 years," Alf remarked. "You know nothing-"

"Oh, Alf," she put him off. "You want the job, Danno? It won't be much, but then..." she stopped, a sadistic glint in her eye.

Danny knew the unspoken finish. …you ain't much either. She'd used it on him once before. She'd been in charge of the high school play and he'd had a brief fling with acting, at her encouragement. She'd used the occasion to embarrass him in front of sixty students and teachers.

"Look, Mali," Alf remarked, "you wanna look good hiring the locals, at least hire a Hawaiian, not some mainlander."

She almost laughed in Alf's face. "Mainlander? Tell him when your mama's family came to the islands, Danno."

He flushed. "1852."

Alf cursed and turned away.

"He always is a sore head when he doesn't get his way," Mali giggled.

Still the same old Mali. Nothing's changed about her. She is still able to run over just about everyone. "Well, I hope you have a leash for that gorilla," Danny commented.

"I tell you," Alf growled to Randall as they stacked empty lighting cases, "she just doesn't use her head. What does she know about this guy? Nothing. After that Houston incident you'd have thought she'd wise up."

"Shut up about Houston, don't even think about it." Randall hissed. He stopped, picked his acne-laiden face in thought, then shoved his hands into his pockets. Randall Higgens was not a beautiful person to look at. Small, skinny, still afflicted with acne and approaching thirty, he was a man who survived by his wits and cunning. He'd managed to talk and maneuver his way into Alf's life a little over a year ago. The troop had been in real financial trouble before then. Randall had magically been able to rework the books, and make it all work out. Alf had turned a blind eye to how he did it at first. In time, it had been revealed that there wasn't anything magical about it at all. And they now traveled a fruitful, yet precarious road. After a minute of thought Randall said to Alf, "Well, if he's a go-fer, make him 'go-fer' something. You don't want him around when Saunders shows up."

Alf bent closer to him. "You have an idea?"

"Sure, don't I always?" He dusted the dirt from his jeans. "Just get him away from Mali."

"That'll be a pleasure," he remarked. "They took off, but she's got a rehearsal at four o'clock."

"Good. I'll take him to town to make a drop for me. Give the Colonel a call. He can have somebody check Williams out."

"We won't have enough time for something involved," Alf protested.

"Don't worry," Randall reassured him. "It'll be cool by concert time."

"Better be. The Colonel is a man you don't want to disappoint. We can't afford any mistakes."

Danny and Mali wandered the shore around the east side of Oahu. It was less crowded than Honolulu's side and he knew where the deserted areas were.

"Awh, Danno," she said, lifting her head for the wind to catch her hair as they walked barefoot along the shoreline. "I need this. I really do. Nowhere else is the ocean and sand the same as here. And I've seen them all."

"I imagine so," he replied. "Are you glad?"

"About what?"

"That your life's the way it is?"

She laughed quietly. "The lonely life of the megastar? Not me. I love it." She tossed her head. "I wouldn't trade that cheering for anything. Wish it could go on forever."

"You sound like you're planning to retire or something."

She sighed again. "Look at me, Danno, I mean really look at me." She turned to face him. "When I saw you, I realized that I'm not an eighteen year old kid heading off to take the world by storm anymore." She smiled and looked down at the sand. "You make me want to go back to when life was simple and it was all still ahead. I think about retiring now and then, but I can't. This isn't just romping around singing for a lark. There are big corporate investors and all. I owe a lot of people a lot of money. I need to really hit it big--just this once."

"Do these three nights make that much difference?"

She gave him a sideways glance. "Yeah, for me they do. I guess I couldn't ever really give it up anyway. That applause keeps me going." There was silence for a few minutes and she sat on the sand, running her fingers through the fine grains. "Not going to ask me to stay, huh?"

He grinned, sitting down beside her. "I guess it's your business, Mali."

She looked almost disappointed for a moment. "I'm surprised you didn't take me over to the beach at the old marina." She cuddled closer to him. She whispered softly. "It was the most special moment of my life--even bigger than the crowds."

They sat in silence, watching the waves rolling up on the beach, each thinking back to that memorable night.

Mali moved even closer and kissed his neck. "Let's go there."

He pulled himself back a little, recalling his purpose for being here. "I can't."

She scowled.

"The beach isn't there anymore. It's a hotel now."

She looked pained. "Gone?"

"That's progress for you."

The scowl melted into the joy of her latest idea. "Danno, you come with me. Become part of the show and I'll show you the world."

He gave a short laugh. "No thanks. I've got a world right here."

"Escorting tours and bumming friends for jobs?"

He looked sharply at her. She still knows how to zing people.

"Sorry," she said quickly.

He doubted she meant it. "I keep busy. I don't really need a lot and I still have time to enjoy the surf."

"God Almighty, Danno, a beach-boy forever. Strange, isn't it? Straight as an arrow and you can't keep a job."


She gave a mildly sadistic laugh. "Twenty years ago you turned in poor Kato who came to you for help. You could have saved him with just a simple story -- a little white lie. Know where he is now? Owns a stock firm in New York. He's a millionaire, imagine that. You can't keep a job."

"Mali, he got drunk and killed three people," he reminded her.

"And left it to you to save the world," she tossed out the acid remark. The hostile look suddenly faded and she burst out with a laugh. "Good old times, heh, Danno?"

He ran a hand across the sand. "I guess time changes things," he answered quietly.

"And doesn't change some others. Are you really just as straight as ever?"

He gazed out towards the horizon. "Well, going hungry a time or two makes one think."

She gave him another sideways grin. "I really did love you, you know. Your first love never really leaves you." She suddenly jumped to her feet, then impulsively kissed his cheek and tossed a handful of sand into his hair. "Stay with me. I'll see you get your share of the real life."

He watched her dart into the surf, the salty water splashing up her legs. Maybe there is some truth to that: Your first love never really leaves you. For a moment, he thought about telling Steve to forget this undercover. Then who will he assign? Someone like Kimo Carew who doesn't care about protecting Mali? And after all the things of the past, why do I still care? I don't know. But I must be careful to get whoever is smuggling the drugs without accidentally snaring her in the trap, too.

A worn, battered panel truck pulled into the parking lot close to the Waikiki band shell. Randall casually strolled to it, chewing and snapping on his ever-present chewing gum. He had been amused when he'd been given the name of his contact in Hawaii as Colonel Sanders. "Like the chicken king?" He'd been verbally assaulted over the phone for the remark, but it had left him curious about what the man looked like. He somehow doubted the man would be sporting a goatee and white suit. The moment was now at hand. He peered into the driver's window. "Colonel?"

The man past the driver, sitting in the passenger seat, wearing a casual work shirt and sunglasses leaned forward. "Over here."

"Oh." He squinted, sizing up his contact. "Ain't as much as they said."

The driver grasped Randall by the throat and slammed his head against the door post. The chewing gum fell out of his mouth into the dirt.

Sanders waited for a moment, clearing his throat. "Don't let looks deceive you, Cowboy. Will you be on time?"

"Yeah, no problems," Randall said.

"Then why did you want to see me?"

"Mali picked up a stray. This beach-boy she knew as a kid."

Sanders sighed and lit a cigarette. "Look, I'm not here to take care of your personnel problems. I am not going to save your hides again. No more. You have trouble, I don't want your goods."

At that moment, a blue convertible Jaguar XKE spun into the far side of the lot, Danny at the wheel, Mali by his side, laughing as her hair flew wild. It skidded to a halt at the other side of the lot and she jumped out. "I'll be late for rehearsal," she announced and dashed away.

"That him?" the Colonel asked casually.

"Yeah," Randall nodded. "I just need to get me eyes in the police department this evening. Just report what goes down."

There was silence. Sanders and his driver watched as Danny walked away, seeming to be ignorant of them. "You got it." Sanders flicked his cigarette butt out of the window, gestured, and the panel truck pulled away, leaving Randall standing there.

"Shelby," the Colonel commented to his driver uneasily, "find out what you can about that beach-boy."

"I felt like I'd seen him somewhere, too," Shelby replied.

Part 2

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