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It was late afternoon when Kono burst into Danny’s cubicle. “We arrested Hagen!” he said excitedly. “He had photos of himself and Brian Howard doing disgusting stuff, and also some cash. He’s some kind of old friend of Steve’s, huh?”
“They were together in the Navy,” Danny said. ‘Together,’ all right....
“Hagen claims he was framed, kept asking Steve to help him. Steve looked real upset, but you know how he is, work before everything else.”
“Yeah,” Danny said. Everything else. Why did he take Kono to search instead of me? Is there something he doesn’t want me to see?
“This one looks like it’s almost wrapped up,” Kono said. “You want to go get a beer tonight? It’s Friday, and we haven’t gone out for pau hana in a long time.”
“Sure, why not.” It’s not like Steve wants to see me....
McGarrett stood in front of Eric’s cell. “You asked to meet with me? Eric, you should really have your lawyer present.”
“I don’t want my lawyer, I want to talk to you,” Eric told him. His face was pale under his tan.
I’ve never seen him look like this before...terrified, vulnerable, Steve thought. I always thought of Eric as fearless.
McGarrett raised his eyebrows. “What do you want to talk about?”
“I want to tell you everything I know.” Eric’s hands were clenched around the bars.
“You really should have your lawyer here for that,” Steve told him.
“Steve, I didn’t do it!” the panic rose in Hagen’s voice. “I know you don’t exactly owe me any favors after...after how we broke up, but please, if I ever meant anything at all to you, help me!” he pleaded, reaching through the bars in supplication.
McGarrett sighed, reaching a hand up to grasp one of the bars and leaning on it. “OK, Eric, tell me what you know.”
“So, I’ve had this boat captain gig with Howard for three years now. He pays well, she’s a beautiful boat, and it’s cushy work—all I do is travel around with the boat to meet him wherever he goes and take him and some of his rich friends out every so often.”
“That’s not all you do, is it?” Steve asked sarcastically.
“No. I also slept with Howard.” Eric took a step back and looked away.
“Don’t pretend you feel any shame whatsoever,” Steve snapped. “I know better than that.”
“I suppose you do,” Eric said in a subdued voice.
“How long was the affair going on?”
“Two years. It wasn’t much of a burden—he was too discreet to see me often, and he didn’t care if I saw other men, as long as he didn’t have to know.”
“So, your ideal arrangement, then,” Steve said bitterly.
“Steve....” Eric turned back to face his ex-lover, who leaned closer to the bars and started firing questions.
“The things we found in the secret compartment on the boat?”
“Howard’s private stash. He liked to use the handcuffs on me sometimes....”
“What about the pictures?” McGarrett asked.
“He had Matthewson come and take them. I don’t know how he found the guy, but for someone who took that sort of pictures for a living, he was pretty good. Artistic. You saw them, what did you think?” Eric gave him a ghost of his usual impudent smile.
“Very artistic,” Steve said drily. “What about the pictures we found in your room, of you and Howard together?”
“I never saw the negatives or the money before, but I saw a set of those prints. Matthewson, knowing that we met on the boat, had apparently managed to sneak on board somehow and take those through the cabin window. He sent them to Howard and threatened to show them to his wife if he didn’t pay him off. Howard showed them to me.”
“How much did Matthewson demand?” McGarrett asked, starting to pace back and forth in front of the cell.
“$25,000,” Hagen told him.
“Howard was loaded, it wasn’t much to him, but his wife kept an eagle eye on their bank accounts. He had to do some sort of deal with a company he owned to get the money.”
“Did he have you deliver the money to Matthewson?”
“No, he did it himself.”
Steve stopped in front of Eric and demanded, “Did he have you kill Matthewson?”
“No! I have no idea who killed him! It wasn’t me, and I’d swear it wasn’t Mr. Howard, either. The day he died he came and met me on the boat, and he was in a panic, because the police didn’t seem to have the negatives of those pictures, but he didn’t know where they were, either. Matthewson was supposed to mail them to him after he got the payment, but they never came.”
“Maybe you were in on it with Matthewson,” McGarrett suggested, leaning closer. “You tipped him off to take the pictures, and you were supposed to split the money, but something went wrong and you killed him and took the negatives.”
“No!” Eric denied, stepping back. “And why would I keep the negatives?”
“Blackmailing Howard yourself.”
“But after he was dead, why wouldn’t I destroy them?” Hagen paced the cell in agitation.
“Maybe you meant to, but hadn’t done it yet.”
“I’m telling you, I’m being framed! The sunglasses, the negatives...someone planted those things! My fingerprints were on the sunglasses because they were mine, but what about the negatives and the money?”
“Wiped clean,” Steve told him.
“Why would I wipe them, and then keep them in my room?”
“If it’s a frame, who did it?” McGarrett demanded.
“Whoever killed Howard. Maybe his wife hired someone?” Eric suggested.
“How would his wife have known about Matthewson?”
“I don’t know! Maybe she was having Mr. Howard followed. Maybe it was that idiot son of hers, although I can’t see him having the guts.” Hagen came to stand in front of McGarrett, looking him in the eyes. “Steve, I’ve told you the truth, everything I know. You have to solve this. Please, Steve. You know what will happen to me if I go to prison after it comes out I was having an affair with a man.” Eric reached through the bars, grabbing Steve’s forearm and clinging to it.
“Steve? They told me you were down here,” Danny said, walking down the corridor towards McGarrett. He was holding a folder.
Hell! I didn’t hear him come in. Steve yanked his arm out of Eric’s grasp and stepped back. “Danny. What are you doing here?”
“The lab report on the apartment is ready. You said you wanted it as soon as possible,” his partner said, proffering the folder, his face unreadable.
“Thank you,” McGarrett said, taking it. “I’ll be back in the office shortly.”
“OK, Steve.” Danny turned and left, something defeated in the set of his shoulders that made Steve want to follow him and ask what was bothering him. I’ve hardly gotten to talk to him this week. I’ll be so glad when this case is wrapped up and I can see him again without worrying....
His train of thought was interrupted by Eric, also watching Danny walk out. “You’re really not sleeping with him?”
“What is with you?” Steve snapped. “Now, do you want my help, or not?”
“Sorry, Steve,” Eric said meekly. “Please, just get me out of here.”
Later that evening, Danny sat in a bar with Kono, looking morosely at his beer as the cheerful sounds of Friday night conversation washed over him.
Kono was in a good mood due to the apparently successful resolution of the case. “That Hagen’s a handsome buggah. I thought maybe he was having an affair with the wife. I can’t believe it was with the husband, instead!” He laughed.
“Can we not talk about the case?” Danny asked.
“Sure. What’s bothering you? You haven’t seemed yourself, last couple of days,” his friend said, concerned.
“I’m...I’m worried about Steve,” Danny admitted, concentrating on peeling the label from his beer bottle. “I think he’s too close to this case.” I’m afraid he’s too close to Eric.... “Steve’s loyal to his friends, but you know he’d never cover up for anyone, even one of us,” Kono said.
“Yeah. But if he has to send a friend to prison it will tear him apart, whether he admits it or not.” And I’d stand with him through this, but he won’t let me in. Why? Is it that he doesn’t want to be vulnerable, even to me? Or is it that he still has feelings for Eric?
“Nothing we can do, bruddah. Hey, next round’s on me!” the big
Hawaiian said, motioning to the bartender.
Despite the beers, Danny found it hard to fall asleep that night. He tossed and turned, and then, when he finally managed to reach unconsciousness, he dreamed....
He was in Steve’s office. After their time apart they couldn’t wait any longer, despite the risk. They kissed each other hungrily, passionately. Steve boosted Danny onto the edge of his desk, shoving everything out of the way. Still devouring his mouth, Steve stroked Danny through his pants, making him groan with pleasure. As Danny clung to Steve with his arms around his neck, kissing him back, Steve unfastened Danny’s pants, and slipped his hand inside.
“Ah! Steve!” he cried out, then, remembering where they were, bit down on his hand.
Steve bent down to take Danny’s erect cock into his mouth.
“Steve...are you sure we should do this here? Steve!”
Danny propped his hands on the desk, leaning back as waves of pleasure swept through his body.
The telephone rang.
Steve abruptly stopped his ministrations to Danny’s cock and reached for the receiver.
“Ah, Eric. I’ll be there right away,” he said into the phone.
“Wait, Steve....” Danny protested.
Danny was suddenly on the bridge of a naval vessel. He was dressed again, but still painfully unsatisfied, his erection straining against his pants.
By the rail, Steve and Eric stood together. They were naked, kissing, evenly matched, light and dark, magnificently erect cocks standing vertically against each other.
Danny made a noise of protest.
They both turned to look at him.
“Steve, who let this civilian on the bridge?” Eric said.
“Sorry, I was amusing myself with him while I waited for you to come back,” Steve answered.
“He’s cute, but we don’t need him now,” the blonde man said.
“Danno, go file something, won’t you?” Steve dismissed his partner, turning back to Eric and kissing him, his hand taking hold of Eric’s cock....
Danny woke up. His eyes were wet with tears, and, as in his dream, he was painfully erect.
God, I’m pathetic....
He got out of bed and went to the bathroom, turning the shower on
blasting cold. He stepped in, wincing at the shock, then stood with his
forehead against the tile, helpless to stop the tears trickling down his face.
Steve, please tell me it isn’t true....
Steve stood looking out the door of the lanai in his office. The office was full of pools of shadow, illuminated only by his desk lamp.
Eric...lover, betrayer, friend, enemy...I don’t know how to think of you, but I don’t believe you committed these murders, and in that case I owe it to you to find out the truth, the same as I’d owe anyone else, Steve thought.
I should go home and get some sleep. I wish Danny were waiting
for me there. Danny...something precious and shining in my life. I don’t
want the stains of my past to touch you.
In the morning McGarrett gathered the team together for a fresh round of orders. “I want to concentrate on the wife and the stepson,” he declared, pacing behind his desk and ticking off his questions on his fingers. “Did either of them know about the affair? Was the wife having Howard followed? What did the stepson do for money?”
“But, Boss, all the evidence points to Hagen. Why aren’t you satisfied with it?” Kono asked.
Steve turned to face the Hawaiian detective. “It doesn’t hang together. Why would Hagen keep the pictures instead of destroying them? Why were they wiped for prints? We’re not finished with this case,” he snapped. “Kono, go back to the stepson’s friends. Find out whether he was short of cash, and how he usually got it. I’m guessing the mother.”
“Chin,” he said, turning to where Kelly stood impassively in front of the desk, between Danny and Kono. “I want you to lean on the private agencies in town. See if any of them were hired to do anything related to Howard.”
McGarrett crossed to his coat stand and reached for his jacket. “I’m going to talk to Mrs. Howard and her son about Hagen, see if they knew about the affair.”
“What about me?” Danny asked. I need to shake off that dream....
“Go back to checking Howard’s financial records. Check out Mrs. Howard’s, too.”
‘Go file something, Danno....’ Steve, why? Why don’t you want
me with you? Is it...is it for the reason I’m afraid of?
McGarrett interviewed Mrs. Howard and Noel Harrison in the hotel suite she had moved to from the condo where her husband had been killed. They sat in the living area on comfortable seats arranged around a low coffee table. “Mrs. Howard, I need to ask you some difficult questions about your husband,” Steve said, leaning forward and clasping his hands.
“About Brian? Why?” Mrs. Howard said, sounding confused. “Why did Mr. Hagen kill him? It can’t have been just because he left him the boat!”
“Mrs. Howard, did you ever suspect your husband of having an affair?”
“He...well, when we first met, he was very good to me, always buying me little gifts, taking me places,” she said, looking down at her hands. “The last couple of years he’s...he’s seemed cooler. But I never caught him at anything. No lipstick on his collar, or receipts from jewelry stores for gifts he never gave me or anything. It was just a feeling,” she said, turning her large blue eyes on McGarrett.
“Brian Howard was a jerk, Mom. I always told you so, but you wouldn’t listen,” Harrison, sitting next to her on the couch, broke in, scowling.
“Hush, dear,” she told him, patting his arm.
“Mrs. Howard, how well did you know Eric Hagen?” Steve asked.
“Why, I met him often, of course, on the boat, although usually Howard just went out with his business cronies. But I wouldn’t say I knew him well.”
“Did Mr. Howard spend a lot of time on the boat?”
“Yes, he really loved it. Especially when we were here in Hawaii, he was always over there.” She sniffed and took a handkerchief out of her purse to dab at her eyes.
“I’m afraid what I have to say will be painful to you, but your husband was having an affair with Eric Hagen,” McGarrett told her.
“What...what do you mean? Brian? An affair? You mean...you mean an affair with a man? That’s not possible!”
“I’m very sorry, Ma’am,” Steve said. “We found some photos of them together taken by a man named Matthewson who was murdered a few days ago.”
“I can’t believe it. Show me the photos,” she demanded.
“Are you sure, Mrs. Howard?”
“Yes! Brian would never have done something like that! He loved me!” she declared shrilly.
“Mom, face the facts! He was a closet queen who was screwing that pretty-boy captain on his boat every chance he got! He didn’t even stop when he was being blackmailed!” her son said angrily.
“Noel, you will not talk about your father that way!” she cried.
Noel said scornfully, “He wasn’t my father!”
McGarrett placed his briefcase on the coffee table and opened it, removing an envelope. He removed the least explicit of the photos inside and leaned over to hand it to her. “Here, Mrs. Howard.”
“Oh, my god!” she cried, dropping the photo on the table and burying her face in her hands.
Steve looked over at her son. “Mr. Harrison, how did you know your stepfather was being blackmailed?” he asked, eyebrows raised. “That fact hasn’t been advertised anywhere.”
“I...I...I mean, I didn’t know, but what else would those pictures be for?” Noel stammered, not meeting the detective’s gaze.
“Could it be that you were in on the blackmail plot? Perhaps you let Matthewson onto the boat that day?” McGarrett suggested.
“Don’t be ridiculous! I...I didn’t know anything about Brian’s filthy habit!”
“Did he keep you short of money? Is that why you did it?”
“You can’t talk to me that way! Mom, tell him!” Harrison demanded.
Mrs. Howard looked up. “Noel, is it true? Brian was being blackmailed?” she asked.
“I told you, I have no idea!”
“He was, Mrs. Howard,” McGarrett told her. “He paid $25,000 to the man who took these pictures. That man is dead now.”
“Mr. Hagen killed him?” she asked.
“Maybe. But there’s still $20,000 of the money not accounted for.”
“You searched my place, and didn’t find it!” Noel said defiantly.
“Mom, why don’t you go lie down in the bedroom and rest.” He pulled
his mother to her feet and steered her out of the living room, although she
looked back uncertainly at McGarrett.
That afternoon the team once again gathered in McGarrett’s office to report. “That Noel...his friends say he’s always complaining about his stepfather keeping him short of cash. He got handouts from his mom, but that was just pocket change,” said Kono, sitting on the arm of one of the white chairs in front of Steve’s desk.
“No one admits to being asked to do anything related to Brian Howard, or to ever having seen Mrs. Howard or Noel Harrison,” reported Chin, standing beside him. “I didn’t get the feeling anyone was hiding anything on this one.”
“Mrs. Howard’s finances are clean, as far as I can tell,” Danny said, from his usual perch on the corner of the desk. “Noel Harrison definitely hasn’t deposited anything like $20,000 in his bank account, either.”
McGarrett started snapping his fingers and pacing. “I want to know what happened to that money. Matthewson didn’t have it. It’s not in anyone’s bank account, and we couldn’t find it in the boat, the Howards’ condo, the son’s apartment, or Hagen’s room. He claims he never even saw the $5,000 before, but I’d bet it came from that $25,000, put there by him or by whoever’s trying to frame him.”
“If the son has the money, would he have given it to one of his friends to hold?” asked Chin.
“Not that bunch,” Kono said, shaking his head. “You’d have to be pupule to trust them any farther than you could throw them.”
Stopping and turning to face the others, McGarrett said intensely,
“We find that money, we find our killer.”
“Where do you think he hid that money?” Kono asked Danny as they took a coffee break in the outer office.
“Well, it wasn’t in his hotel room, and you don’t think he’d have given it to one of his surfing friends...what about a girlfriend?” Williams suggested, leaning against the divider between his cubicle and the next.
Kono shook his head. “He took out girls, but nothing steady. If he hid it somewhere, it could be anywhere on this island!”
“He’d want it to be somewhere safe. Somewhere he could get to when he needed it, too, if he took out that $5,000 to put in Hagen’s hotel room,” Danny mused.
“So he didn’t bury it,” the big Hawaii detective said, “But that doesn’t get us any closer to what he did do with it.”
“Well, if you wanted to hide something in a safe place you could easily get to, where would you put it? Somewhere no one would notice when you came to get it.”
“Maybe a locker?” Kono suggested. “But it could be anywhere—the airport, bus station, even the shopping mall.”
“I think he’d choose somewhere he was familiar with. He didn’t live in Hawaii, so maybe that’s not so many places. Kono, you’ve been looking into his life—what did Noel Harrison like to do besides hang out at the beach?” Danny asked him.
“His friends say he liked to cruise for chicks in his mustang, play pool, hang around in bars drinking beer....” Kono blew on his coffee and drank from the paper cup. “No lockers there.”
Danny paced back and forth in front of the door to his cubicle in unconscious imitation of Steve.
“Where are there lockers? Places where people would need to leave things...the airport, schools, maybe Sea Life Park....”
“I can’t see him spending much time in those places,” Kono objected.
Williams continued, “...hotels, but then he’d have to talk to someone at the desk...swimming pools....” he abruptly stopped pacing and turned to Kono. “He looks like he works out. Did he go to a gym?”
“You know, I think his friends said something about a gym when I was asking about alibis for the day Matthewson was killed.”
“So...what about a gym locker?” Danny suggested.
“Hey, Danny, maybe you’re right!” Kono said excitedly.
“Is Steve still over meeting with the Governor?” Danny asked.
“Yeah, I think so.”
“Well, it’s worth a look,” Williams said, finishing his coffee in a
gulp and tossing his empty cup in the trash. “Come on, let’s go see if we
can find out which gym.”
Danny and Kono came back to Five-O headquarters from the lab just as McGarrett returned from the budget meeting, all of them entering the outer office together. “Boss! We got it!” Kono said exuberantly.
“Got what?” McGarrett asked.
“The money! Danny thought maybe Harrison might have a gym locker somewhere, and he was right! We got the name of the gym he uses from one of his friends and convinced them they should cooperate, and there was a briefcase in the locker.”
“With the money?” McGarrett asked Danny, raising an eyebrow.
“Yes, the briefcase had $19,500 in it. Che Fong went over the case and the money and found Brian Howard’s prints, along with Matthewson’s and Harrison’s, and another set, probably Stoltz. No sign of Hagen’s.” his partner told him.
“Let’s all go pay Mr. Harrison a visit,” McGarrett said.
They spoke to Harrison and Mrs. Howard in Mrs. Howard’s hotel suite, once again sitting around the coffee table in the living room.
“Mr. Harrison, would you like to come clean about your involvement in blackmailing your stepfather?” McGarrett asked the scowling young man sitting beside his mother on the sofa.
“I told you, I had nothing to do with it! It was Eric Hagen!” he protested.
“We spoke to employees at the Island Fitness gym and found that you keep a locker there,” Danny told him. “In that locker we found a briefcase containing $19,500, the amount of money missing from the blackmail payment.”
“Noel!” his mother cried, turning to her son. “Please tell me you didn’t do this!”
“Of course I didn’t, Mom! I had nothing to do with it! These pigs must be trying some kind of frame-up just to get the case off the books,” Harrison said with a defiant sneer.
“No frame-up,” McGarrett told him. “That case had four good sets of prints—yours, your stepfather’s, the murdered Mr. Matthewson’s, and the man who prepared the case for Mr. Howard.”
Harrison jumped to his feet, followed by Danny and Kono, keeping a watchful eye on him. “It’s a lie! I never touched any briefcase!”
Steve also stood. “Sit down, Mr. Harrison!” he snapped.
The young man looked uncertain before the force of the head of Five-O’s gaze. He sat back down.
Danny and Kono made themselves at home, Kono going to stand by the TV and Danny perching on the arm of his chair.
McGarrett loomed over Harrison. “So, Mr. Harrison...was it the money? Is that why you killed your stepfather?” He walked around behind the suspect’s chair. “Or was there something more?”
“I...I told you, I didn’t kill anybody!” Harrison protested.
Steve continued, pacing back and forth out of Harrison’s view, “Maybe it was personal. Maybe you couldn’t deal with finding out that he was a homosexual. Your stepfather. A member of your family. Not exactly something you would want your friends to know, hm?” McGarrett didn’t dare look over at Danny. He stopped pacing. “Was that it? Is that why you killed him?” he demanded.
“That’s not...I mean...I didn’t!” the young man said nervously, turning in his seat to watch the head of Five-O.
Danny followed up. “Or did it bother you for a different reason? Maybe it made you realize something about yourself....”
“You’re crazy,” Harrison told him scornfully. “As if I would be like him.”
Steve leaned on the back of Harrison’s chair. “You really didn’t like your stepfather, did you?” he said softly. “Now, why is that? It’s not just that he kept you short of cash, surely.”
Mrs. Howard broke in. “Of course it’s hard to have a step-parent. But Noel respected Brian!”
“Respected him! How could I respect someone like him?” Harrison demanded of her.
“He was your father!”
“Stop saying that! He was not my father! And how can you possibly defend him, now that you know what he really was?” he said angrily.
“He loved me! Even if he sometimes...sometimes had...those urges, he was still good to me—to both of us!” she retorted.
McGarrett said, “That’s it, isn’t it, Harrison? It didn’t matter to you what Brian Howard did, or what he was. What you just couldn’t live with was that she chose him over you. You killed him because you were jealous.”
Harrison leapt to his feet and faced McGarrett across the chair, fists clenched, shaking with anger. “That’s a lie! I did it for her! She was too good for him! She refused to ever hear anything against that creep, but you saw what he was! He didn’t deserve her! He never deserved her!”
“Noel!” Mrs. Howard screamed, white-faced. “How could you? I loved him! And I loved you! And now I’ve lost you both!” She dissolved into sobs, burying her face in her hands.
“Book him, Danno,” McGarrett snapped.
Back at Five-O after finishing the formalities of Harrison’s arrest, Danny headed for Steve’s office. He knocked perfunctorily, then opened the door. Steve and Eric Hagen, looking gorgeous as usual in an immaculately tailored gray pinstripe suit, stood side by side, looking out the open door of the lanai. Eric was resting a hand on Steve’s arm, leaning forward to laughingly say something.
As Danny stepped through the door they both turned to look at him, the scene reminding him sharply of his dream. ‘We don’t need him now...go file something, Danno.’ “Sorry, Steve,” he said, backing hastily out of the office and closing the door.
He stopped by the secretary’s desk in the outer office. “Jenny,
when Steve gets done in there, can you tell him I’ve gone for the day?”
Having explained Harrison’s plot to Eric, Steve asked, “So, what are your plans now?” A gentle breeze blew in from outside, rustling the papers on Steve’s desk.
“Since I’m not profiting from my crimes, I get to keep Kealani. I’d thought I’d take her back to California, start up my own charter business,” Hagen told him.
McGarrett gave him a half smile. “You always did land on your feet.”
Eric turned to face his ex-lover, saying seriously, “Steve...thank you for believing in me. I don’t know how you could, after what I did, but I know I owe you more than I can ever repay.
Steve looked away. “I only did what I would have done for anyone. Tried to uncover the facts.”
“Sure, Steve...well, if you’re ever in California, feel free to look me up for old times’ sake.” Eric winked, then turned and left the office with the subtle swagger back in his step.
McGarrett shook his head in tolerant exasperation. He was in a good mood. The case was finally over, Eric wasn’t in prison but was going to be safely out of Steve’s life and relegated to part of his past once again, and Steve and Danny could pick up where they had left off. I’ll cook Danny dinner tonight to celebrate. Maybe steaks? He’d like that....
Steve turned to his desk, and picked up the phone to call Danny’s office. No answer. Huh. He tried Jenny. “Jenny, do you know where Danno is?”
“He said to tell you he was going home for the day, Steve,” she informed him.
McGarrett tried his partner’s apartment. No answer there, either.
Steve had hoped that Danny might be waiting at his place to surprise him, but when he got there it was dark and empty. Where the hell is he? No point in cooking just for myself, McGarrett thought. He ate a sandwich, tried calling Danny’s apartment again, then sat trying to interest himself in a magazine.
The doorbell rang.
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