MONDAY, JUNE 24TH - HAWAII (LATE AFTERNOON)
Once the blankets moved, Danny didn't need anyone to say a single word. He knew. His eyes filled with tears and he held his good arm out as Kamekona unraveled Grace from her soft hiding place and deposited her on the bed. What Steve had expected to be a loud joyous event, was orchestrated in silence. There was no doubt that the joy was there, but even Kamekona didn't quite know what to make of the two.
After speaking to Rachel and gently breaking the good news, Chin and Steve worked with her to ease Grace out of her doldrums with as little of a shock as possible.
The why and the how weren't as important in the conversation for the child as much as the who and the where. Grace hadn't quite understood at first, or maybe she didn't exactly believe them, because she only stood silently in the family room shifting uncomfortably from one foot to another. She only reacted when Rachel mentioned going to the hospital.
When it finally sank in, a fresh spurt of sobs had eventually become excitement and she'd been bouncing by the time the adults had come to an agreement on the best way for her to visit Danno that very afternoon. Chin's idea to ask Kamekona to bring Grace independently from themselves and even from her mother caused Rachel to experience a spike of fear.
"Is it safe then?" Her question made Grace's eyes well with tears again as her mother waffled on allowing her to go. Chin and Steve explained that it had to do more with appearances than any actual danger in the hospital itself. Steve took personal responsibility for wanting to divide and conquer to make any subversive activity simply more difficult.
"There's no evidence at all to prove you've specifically ever been watched. None at all. We simply don't want her to be seen with any of us quite yet." With some residual reservation, Rachel did finally agree to bring Grace near a park where Kamekona had parked his food truck. With no signs of trouble, he'd outfitted Grace in an oversized t-shirt and plunked her in his truck with a few shrimp truck delivery bags. Their delivery happened to be to the employee side entrance of the hospital where Marco showed up to shuttle them in. Hiding Grace under a pile of blankets had merely been to surprise Danny in grand fashion before they entered the hospital room.
"Here you go short stuff." The big man had been touched by Steve and Chin's request for help. He'd been honored when Grace had so excitedly accepted his protection and now he was beyond words himself as Danny shed a few tears. Kamekona glanced awkwardly to Steve as Grace literally folded herself onto the bed and into her father's arms.
"Shootz," he whispered before daring to stroke Grace's head. Then he stood there for another moment completely content with Danny's silent thanks.
"I'll be outside, brah. Next time I'll bring something for you to eat. All my bags were lifted from me by that Marco. I'm not sure they feed the staff here; but that's only good news for me." His smile was back as he recovered with a subject he loved so well to talk about. Holding his arms out wide, he patted his own ample stomach as a worthy example.
"You're too skinny, Danny! But I can fix that right up."
Danny gave the man a crooked grin as he wiped his face in his arm and used his good hand to hold Grace tightly. Her excitement had turned into an emotional overload once she truly saw her father and Grace was crying softly in his chest. Not trusting his voice, Danny could only look from one man to the other with an incredible amount of genuine thanks.
"Chin's idea just to be sure. Rachel's fine with it ... she's fine with all of it. She will be coming separately later with Max," Steve offered quietly before he and Kamekona left the two to catch up on too much lost time. Ignoring everyone except for her father, Grace's arms were wrapped firmly around Danny and his eyes flickered once in confusion when Steve mentioned Max.
"Halloween. Keanu?" Steve's grinned as he added an extra subtle prompt.
The confusion lifted to be replaced by an understanding snort when that sunk in and Danny nodded that he understood. He cleared his throat to remove the rough emotional itch as something nudged sternly in the front of his mind and he motioned for Steve to wait. "Is it okay ... all of this?" He meant safe much the same way Rachel did and Steve's smug expression re-appeared with a satisfied ease.
"Yeah, it's okay. I'm just being my extra careful self." Steve was happy as Danny relaxed even more with Grace wrapped up next to him. "It's going to be fine, Danno. We identified the guy, we know exactly who he is, and we have a plan."
"Thank you." The confidence was inspiring and Danny chuckled into Grace's hair before planting a kiss on the top of her head. "Thank you all very much."
Before Steve closed the door, his smile was nearly as big as Danny's as he made one other point quite clear. "You two are to take as long as you need."
Steve looked up just as Chin and Kono rounded the corner to the waiting room. Only forty-five minutes had passed, and he and Kamekona were patiently waiting for the right time to return to Danny's room. When he had secretly cracked the door to peek in, Steve saw Grace sitting on her knees next to her father's side. Enthralled in his daughter, Danny was smiling from ear to ear. Her face was still blotchy from tears, but Grace was finally laughing and talking animatedly. He stole that secret sight for a few seconds; closing the door again softly as Danny tickled her in the ribs to send her giggling sideways over his legs.
So he was relaxed and content when the rest of his team arrived at the hospital. Then utterly intrigued when he saw the close camaraderie between the two cousins which meant that they had important news to share.
"You look as if you have something," Steve leaned forward eagerly. Kono was particularly happy as she sat next to Steve with her tablet and immediately shoved it under his nose.
"Oh, I do and you'll like it," she pulled up her most recent findings and explained her tactics.
"I'm getting more of course. But the fastest information to look for on Brian McNamara includes the basics such as familial relations, current personal data and the like such as financial records, place of employment and residential address."
She tapped a few keys to open her photo application and then aimed the screen of the tablet towards Steve. He almost laughed when the first image popped across showing a much younger McNamara in an obviously staged professional boxing stance.
"I told you that you would like it!" Though the image wasn't even close to what she had to really show him, Kono grinned at his reaction.
"He was a boxer, no lie. In college, he had an excellent record and decent reputation across the amateur circuit. He went professional after he graduated but never quite broke out into the big leagues. I'm not quite sure why, though we have some suspicions based on his conduct."
Steve couldn't stop the disgusted and very loud snort that blew from his mouth. "Conduct? Why am I not surprised about the man's lack of ethics?"
Kono flipped through more images of the same to explain his eventual venture to law school once the idea of a pro boxing career had fizzled. "He's described as a swarmer or 'pressure fighter'. I found a few old match videos online if you want to see them."
His dubious eyebrows must have given him away, because Kono laughed outright at his confused expression. However, Kamekona was listening closely as he playfully shadow-boxed the air from where he sat.
"Joe Fraizer, brah!" The big Hawaiian slapped his own chin excitedly. He gestured towards Kono's tablet and the picture of a younger McNamara. "He's got a strong jaw that one then. He can take a hit up close, shake it off, and move on like it's nothing."
"You aren't supposed to be listening," Steve warned him only half seriously before turning back to Kono. "Why exactly is this important?" He had to ask it since now Kono, Chin and even Kamekona were bonding over the interesting description.
"He's a short man with a limited reach. He adopted this style where he stays close to his opponent by throwing a rapid fire of flurries, hooks and uppercuts. Other boxers seem to hate it because they get crowded, are less able to use their own power, and then get backed into a corner. But to do that and get close enough, he'd have to pay the price by getting hit a lot to get on the inside."
"Strong jaw, like I said," Kamekona reiterated his earlier compliment and then shrugged sheepishly at the team. "What can I say? I like the sport."
Chin's observation was perhaps more informative. "Opponents didn't like to take him on with the reputation he started to build. After a while, he had trouble getting quality matches. Based on some of the later fights before his career officially tanked, McNamara fought dirtier, more angry and with much less integrity."
It meant that the photograph sent to Steve held new meaning, as did Danny's residual reactive flinching and overly subdued behavior. He was returning to his old self, but Steve's entire demeanor abruptly changed with the lawyer's background now revealed in more detail. "He used Danny as a punching bag. He toyed with him like a rabid dog and he liked doing it."
The photograph lingered in his mind to be replaced by the upfront and personal reality of seeing Danny in real life. McNamara was a bully. He flaunted himself and he enjoyed impressing ... or intimidating ... people. Steve realized the injuries and bruises were incredibly measured and doled out with an exact precision. McNamara not only could take a punch, but he knew how and where to lay one with just the right amount of force to inflict pain and to cripple.
"I want more," Steve ground out angrily. "Channing is a nobody compared to this guy. I want more, Kono. I want him served up, ripped apart, and put away."
She sobered when his fury soared. She had a lot, but she knew that her findings were circumstantial. However, the odd facts were slowly being strung together and they were all determined to create one cohesive whole.
"His father was a darn good lawyer with a great reputation back in his day. He's ninety-three years old and in a retirement home in L.A. From what I can find out, the two are fairly close and McNamara calls or visits often enough." He waited impatiently as Kono continued her descriptive explanation which she seemed to need for her build up because Steve could feel the good stuff was just on the tip of her tongue. It was apparent that Chin already knew based on his pleased expression, though he was allowing his cousin to own the show.
"I've confirmed his home residence and related information. Plus his current employment status and professional history, including his case records. Those things are on the up and up," Kono grinned and then glanced once towards Chin.
"He has two monthly recurring gym memberships and still works out religiously like a gym rat. One gym is downtown here and the other is at home in L.A. The one in L.A. is a hardcore, competitive professional boxing club."
Chin was eyeing Steve carefully because the more Kono spoke, the more deathly quiet the man had become.
"Credit card and cell phone records show a consistent history of McNamara either visiting or calling his father weekly. He always makes time for the senior McNamara and hasn't missed visiting him personally on Father's Day in the last four years."
"Father's Day?" The change in subject seemed irrelevant at first and Steve was unable to hide his escalating emotions. Danny had been taken just before the special weekend. It hadn't been one of his scheduled shared times with Grace, but he and Rachel had worked it out. Then Danny had disappeared and the Camaro left abandoned with blood spatter on the driver's side seat. Steve at first wasn't certain as to why he should care if McNamara took such a loving, vested interest in his own elderly father.
"So? Why is this important?" His tone held a bit of temper essentially aimed at the world.
Kono held her hand up because she wasn't yet done. Her face was apologetic and as sheepish as Kamekona's had been just a few minutes earlier. "I called the retirement home and asked if I could speak to the elder McNamara."
Chin laughed out loud. "She made believe she was a writer for a boxing publication. She was doing a story on has-been, where-are-they-now burn-outs."
"I'd like to think I had more style than that!" Kono rolled her eyes at the rude choice of words before make an important amendment. "My story focused on retired masters .. but I wanted a father's impression and of course, the subject of Father's Day just happened to come up."
Her face was slightly sad as she thought of the elder McNamara's lonely venting. "The good son purchased round trip airline tickets to visit his elderly father between June 14th with a return flight booked for the morning of June 20th. But he never got on the plane. Mr. McNamara confirmed that Brian didn't visit this year. As a consolation prize, he sent his father a small flat screen with a blue ray."
More information came quickly to prove that Brian McNamara had essentially vanished for that one critical time period. "I asked around discreetly and he wasn't on the island. He didn't go to the gym or stay at his rented apartment. He didn't go to the office or to his favorite restaurants."
"This is definitely more and now we're getting places," Steve finally smiled at her pleased face. "So if he didn't leave the island and he wasn't working ... then where was he? Where did he go and why?" They were a rhetorical questions and no one needed to answer because they all knew precisely where McNamara had been. The essence would be to find factual evidence.
"It coincides to when you received your last packaged threatening note, too." She didn't say it, but it was obvious the ex-boxer was responsible for the evidence of the ongoing beatings in the photo. He had been part of the kidnapping plot, he had been on American Samoa, and he was absolutely in the employ of Allen Darien. Danny had identified him and Pete Channing's description for the police sketch artist was unerringly that of Brian McNamara, Esquire.
"Timeline fits on the surface, boss." The evidence was mostly circumstantial but it was an excellent beginning. Steve allowed himself a brief chuckle as Chin proudly stretched himself on the hard plastic chair across from him.
"It fits like a glove. We just need absolute solid proof to put him there."
"Great job, Kono." What she had discovered about the man, his background and daily habits was daunting and Steve's compliment was genuine. But he wanted irrefutable proof and she closed her tablet cover before he could voice the obvious. There was no doubt that they all wanted it.
"I still need more. Much more."
"Bank accounts and hidden financial records are going to take some time for me to find." Monetary evidence of would set things straight, but Kono had just begun that more lengthy search. "As his only living relative, I'll include his father's records in that too."
None of them had noticed Doctor Ramirez sauntering over to casually listen in to the very interesting conversation. Hands shoved deeply into his pockets as always, his face was pensive for a long time. He finally mumbled a distracted hello when Chin noticed him first.
"He obviously was on Samoa. But then he had to leave," Ramirez was talking to himself as he considered the situation. He grinned at his success before slapping Steve sharply across the back. "How and when did he get back here by Monday's opening arguments? That TV segment proves he was here then. He would have had to been approved by the disaster recovery team, the officials in charge and the airlines."
Steve sunk deeply into the chair he was in as he mulled it over. It only left Saturday or Sunday as options. "He wouldn't have been approved for any of the emergency transports so that leaves the first commercial flights allowed in and out over the weekend. Private aircraft are still banned."
"That only leaves Sunday then," Kono confirmed.
"Thanks, Doc," Chin smiled appreciatively as he pulled out his cell phone. "I got this one. I'll get a list of the flights and then their passenger lists. I'm sure there weren't many. One or two tops at the most were allowed back."
Ramirez was pleased as he bounced on his toes. His hands were now laced together behind his back and he was beaming widely at the concept. He was on a role participating in an unplanned bit of detective work. "Unless of course he used an alias?"
"Maybe yes, maybe no," Kono admitted. "I still haven't identified any aliases other than his boxing moniker."
As she shared it with them, she made a hateful face about what she'd found online. The lawyer's father had shared it too with an embarrassed laugh from the elder. "Mac 'The Ape' McNamara."
Steve and Ramirez said it at the same time, but no one actually laughed at the coincidence. "That fits."