MEDICAL EXAMINATION OFFICE – 02:00
"Hey…" Danny joined Kono and Chin in the office part of Max's part of the workplace. He handed them both a coffee and set the two spares down on the table, "How is she doing?"
"It's hard to say."
Kono's response came as her eyes flitted to Chin, recognizing the same distant sadness in his eyes as there was in Catherine's, as he recounted the loss of Malia.
Steve was also being plagued by images not of his father's murder, but of himself afterwards, and he was clutching at straws to think of ways to guide Cath through her grief.
"Hey Chin…"Danny said gently as they watched Steve and Catherine stood beside the exam table through the glass, his arm gently around her as she stared at her father's pale and still face, covered up to the neck with a sheet as he was, "buddy if this is going to be difficult it won't matter if…"
"What happened to Malia can't be compared with this." He told Danny firmly, yet his eyes held a soft and caring edge that never fully left him, "I want to help Catherine, same as you do, because I know what she is going through, we all know it…" his voice went quiet, "we all know what it is like to lose someone."
Through the glass they watched as Cath stepped back away from Steve and wiped her eyes, straightening her spin and resting her hands on her hips, "they can come in now."
Steve watched her for a moment before he looked at his friends through the glass, he nodded gravely, and they entered reverently, like approaching a church alter.
"Max what do you know?" Steve looked to the man on the opposite side of the gurney.
Max spoke deliberately and gently, looking at all of them in turn as they watched and listened.
His words meant everything to Catherine, but they hurt her just the same. Her eyes couldn't move from her father's face.
He could have been sleeping.
"At first I thought that the COD was just a two gunshot wound to the chest." Max explained, "but on further examination I found discoloration around the eyes, and several hundreds of fibers on the inside of the victims mouth and neck, similarly, HPS recovered a pillow from the bed, close to where Admiral Rollins fell, which contained many traces of saliva. Although this is not uncommon to find on a bed pillow, the fibers in Admiral Rollins' mouth were of the same kind as the pillow, meaning it had been placed over his mouth for a certain amount of time."
Catherine drew in a sharp stuttering breath and Steve flexed his arm around her, worried for a moment that she would collapse.
But he knew she was made of stronger stuff than that. Yet he also wanted her to know that he was there for her, without smothering her, as he knew she would hate.
"Meaning before he was shot someone tried to smother him where he slept." She hissed, her shoulders shaking with anger, new furious tears touching her eyes.
"my autopsy concludes that someone tried to smother Admiral Rollins while he was laying down," Max almost swallowed as she stared at her father's body, her teeth pushing through.
"as you say, still lying in bed…" he shifted, "then according to the bruising on his ribs and wrists there was a struggle, and it finally took two bullet wounds to kill him."
"So if this is a robbery gone bad, someone wanted whoever found him to think that he died of natural causes, if they were planning on smothering first." She stated coldly.
Danny and the others exchanged a look and Steve put a hand on her shoulder, "Cath…"
"Smothering leaves no outward traces of foul play," She spun to face them, grabbing at the anger she felt because it hurt less than the grief which threatened to swamp her with every breath, "because of his age the next visitor, or whoever found him, may have concluded he just died in his sleep."
"It is true that any robber likely underestimated him because of his age." Steve accepted, putting his hands up to try and calm her, "he was a strong guy, in the navy his entire life…"
"He took them on long enough for them to panic and shoot him." Danny muttered.
"But that doesn't explain why someone would want to kill him!" Catherine cried, pointing at her father's body, "he had been living on this island only a few weeks and someone shoots him, after smothering him?" She drew in a long breath to try and calm herself, closing her eyes for a moment and swallowing, her words sharp and clear, "if this is a robbery gone badly, and they were surprised into not covering their tracks properly… why haven't they taken anything, and how exactly did they manage to get in without not only not tampering with the alarm, but entering the correct code that would not set it off?"
She opened wide eyes to look at them all as she recounted the points of the case they had discuss on the way in.
Steve swallowed and dropped his hands when her demanding eyes turned on him.
"I don't know." He admitted, "but we will find out Cath…"
He fought to try and calm her, to soothe her, as she pushed her hair from her face and sniffed, swallowing and her shoulders hunching.
Throwing Max and the others an apologetic and helpless glance, Steve turned back to her and gently reached out, placing his hands on her shoulders and stroking them softly.
"Cath, you need to get some sleep… we will…"
"No what I need…" She looked up at him and hissed in upset anger, "Is to find out who shot and tried to smother my dad…" Her voice caught and she stepped back, hands on her hips, "and I need you to help me do that." Her voice cracked heavily and she stiffened at her own weakness.
Steve straightened, eyes wide and honest, although he sighed in his worry for her, "of course."
FIVE O HQ – 03:00
It was another hour before they returned to HQ, sealing themselves in their own officers.
"Hey, nothing in Admiral Rollins' bank transactions that looks out of the ordinary." Danny set the statements on Steve's desk, watching as the man turned his eyes away from his laptop to glance at them briefly, not really seeing them.
"His name was Geoff." He looked to Danny, "Geoff."
"Well I didn't know him, and Admiral sounds more respectful." Danny murmured, "I don't know much about navy Life but I know that being an Admiral was quite an achievement."
"Quite." Steve looked back to his laptop.
"Anything on his emails?"
"No. Not a thing." Steve slammed the laptop shut and put his head in his hands briefly, before he shoved himself up and walked to the windows of his office to stare through the blinds out into the main concourse.
Catherine stood at the foot of the smart table, staring at photos of the crime scene and her father's body.
She had her arms wrapped tight around herself, jaw locked, no tears in her eyes.
She knew that by now she had cried them all.
Her heart hurt. But she knew that the best balm for it would be to find out who murdered her father.
She clung to the strength he had taught her, the strength that had got her through naval academy when people doubted her, what got her through dangerous missions gone sideways like Kabul and Afghanistan, what got her through when Steve was hurt…
It would get her through this struggle now.
"It is hard; to watch someone you care about going through a difficult time." Danny said as gently as he could, hands in his pockets at Steve's side as the man folded his arms, eyes locked on Catherine through the blinds.
"The more I try to help her the more she will push me away." Steve muttered.
"But you don't give up trying to help…" Danny told him, "You don't."
Steve looked down at him almost questioningly.
"We didn't stop trying to help ou when you looked for your fathers killer." He reminded him.
Steve straightened and looked down, before the tiniest of smiles touched his face and eyes, "no you err, preferred to get in the way most of the time…"
Danny lifted his eyebrows, "that's not true and not funny…"
Steve sighed and looked back to Cath's figure.
"She will be okay, solving this case will be closure, and then you can help her grieve just… steer her." He counselled, gesturing a pushing forward motion with his hands.
"Yes." Danny nodded, "steer."
"Hey Guys," Kono stuck her head around; I've finished with the CCTV."
"And?" Steve stepped back to face her, arms folding to his sides.
Through the window Danny could see Cath be joined by Chin, and her cover her face with her hands in frustration for a moment.
He turned back in time to see Kono shake her head sadly.
"Their faces are covered and they are all in black." She explained as she walked with them to stand with Catherine and Chin around the smart table, swiping up a black and white image of the street where Admiral Rollins had been living, "They enter using the security pad on the door to deactivate the alarm. They don't turn around or give us a clear image."
"They knew the code?" Danny narrowed his eyes.
"Duke said there had been no sign of a forced entry, and the system hadn't been tampered with." Chin recalled.
"My dad wouldn't have given that code out lightly..." Catherine said quietly, "he wasn't like that."
"Well it turns out he wouldn't have had too." Kono agreed, "I got in touch with the manufacturer of the alarm system that Admiral Rollins had installed in his house. It turns out that while upon installation the owner is advised to set up their own brand new personal digit, for their eyes only or whoever else they chose, but there is a 'master' code that is kept there for safety reasons, the same for every alarm… and I checked, and they are in place so that when the alarms are fitted in the homes, the complex owners can get in in an emergency."
"Duke said as much when they filled us in." Catherine stepped up, "he was explaining how that is how the site manager and security found him."
"So what you are saying is the company who own the complex where admiral Rollins was newly living would have known the code to get into his house, would have known how to get into all the houses…" Danny put it all together.
"Who runs the complex?" Catherine asked as Steve opened his mouth to do the same.
"An Elli Leo, and Tamas Leo." Chin snapped up their profiles, "They are brothers originally from the mainland who run the complex of some one hundred homes, their new profit and turnover is incredibly high. It's making them millionaires almost in a year."
"I know it's a retirement village but how can their turnover be that quick?" Danny looked to Steve who almost shrugged.
"Well that's the thing about retirement homes, people die and new ones move in, they don't leave the condos to anyone…"
"No but the number of deaths in the Leo's village where Admiral Rollins was living is quite high." Kono informed them, swiping around letters and bills they had pulled as background on the complex, "People who move in, usually don't live there for more than two weeks."
"Just two weeks?" Cath whispered.
"That's how long…"
"My dad had been there two weeks." She cut Steve off.
Silence settled for a moment and Danny drew in a long breath through his cheeks, "Okay…" He settled his stance as Steve watched Catherine's intent eyes carefully.
"Here's what I'm thinking, stop me if it sounds crazy…" Danny pushed his palms together, "but these Leo brothers they don't charge high rent, which is what makes it attractive to people to move in… I'm thinking that they couldn't make the kind of money they wanted keeping old residents, so they let them stay for two weeks, long enough for relatives to stop ringing and checking up on them every day, long enough for them to get settled… then they smother them with their own pillow, so it seems they die of natural causes, they are seemingly blame free and a new resident is already queuing up to live there."
"And they use the 'master' code to sneak in and out." Chin confirmed.
"Do we have an address?" Steve looked to Kono who was already tapping on the screen.
"Waikiki, Kola road."
"We are there." Cath just about had her SIG drawn in the same moment.
OUTSIDE FIVE O HQ – 03:20
"Catherine..." Steve walked up to her as she yanked on her body armor, doing up the Velcro with a firm smack of her hands. She checked her weapon without so much as a glance at him as he walked to gently wrap a hand around her wrist.
"If you are going to suggest me staying behind you can save your breath." She turned to look at him, anger masking her tears, "I am coming with you Steve."
"If any part of what we suspect is true of these brothers and what kind of operation they were running, smothering old people, my dad included," she barely realized she was shouting, "how can you ask me to stay behind?"
"I know how it feels, okay, I do." He insisted.
"Then you of all people should not be…"
"Steve this is not up for discussion!" She cried, holding her hands out after smacking them to her forehead, "okay?"
It wasn't really a question.
He locked his jaw and cocked his head, "as you were then lieutenant."
She pushed her lips together and spun, climbing into Steve's truck and slamming the door behind her.