Crash and Burn - Chapter 17: Waena

Sabrina Logan’s rental house

Reena place her digital reader on the sofa beside her, closed her eyes, and gritted her teeth against the dull pain throbbing in her temples. It had started when she first opened the file Irene sent her, the video transcript. The audio has been too damaged, scrambled with who-knew-what software to make it unrecoverable, but Irene had worked her magic and Reena now had a meticulously detailed transcript on her reading device.

And a full-blown headache.

Because, as badly as the audio was damaged, someone had also poked around the video properties, erasing them completely. It was impossible to determine when the recording had been made, not even when it had been transferred to the SD card.

She scanned the transcript again. She would share this with Steve, of course. There was nothing incriminating in that conversation if one didn’t know what to look for.

But she knew what to look for. And she also knew when the video had been recorded.

And she had the perfect weapon to bring Wo Fat out of hiding.

She checked the time. It was barely eight o’clock. Then again, USS Enterprise was docked in Pearl Harbor for the second time in two weeks.

She bit down on her lower lip. Maybe they were still out, maybe having dinner. It was rather early. But maybe they were already holed up in his bedroom. Decisions, decisions, decisions. If she called and they were...busy, he would not be pleased, though interrupting them would please her immensely. But then, if she didn’t call and gave him the file tomorrow, he might take her head off for not sending it to him sooner.

Maybe she should simply send the file without calling. But then he might not know she’s sent it.

“Oh, screw it,” she muttered and pressed the call button.

The phone rang and rang, and she knew she should not have called. Then he answered, panting, and she wished to God she’d just sent the e-mail.

“What is it, Sabrina?” he asked after the prolonged silence during which she stared miserably through her window, wishing to be anywhere else on the planet but Hawaii.

She had to clear her throat to keep the tremor out of her voice, thankful he couldn’t see her. How would she explain the tears rolling down her cheeks. “I’m sorry, Steve. I didn’t mean to interrupt, I just wanted to tell you I received the file we talked about today. I’ll forward it to you. Bye.”

McGarrett home

Standing in his living room, the sweat drying on his skin, his breath slowly returning to normal, Steve listened to the dial tone. He’s never heard Sabrina speak so quickly...And it sounded like she was crying.

He debated whether to call her back and ask her if she was okay, but it had probably just been his imagination. It was probably just his subconscious feeding the urge to go see her. And now he sounded like a shrink. He kicked the front door closed behind him, toed off his trainers, and pulled off the sweaty T-shirt. There was nothing better to jump-start a man’s appetite than a long jog down the beach.

He went to his father’s study, clicked on his e-mail program and downloaded and printed the file Sabrina had sent him. Determined to share this with his sister, he called Mary, told her to stop for a pizza, and invite herself to dinner.

Then, later, maybe, he could ask for some more advice. Because this making friends wasn’t working. Sabrina wasn’t divulging any information. Yes, it’s only been two weeks, but it could as well be two centuries. There was still a wall around her and it was obvious by her skittishness when they happened to be alone lately, that it wasn’t coming down.

And it was getting damned hard to try to get closer while still keep his distance. Because he was sinking, and fast. At times he could actually forget what had happened between them—the hurt, the abandoning, the betrayal, the promises they never got to make—and found himself drowning in her eyes, wanting nothing more than to pull her close, kiss her, hold her and never let her go again.

Today, as he’d watched her with Grace and her friends, he’d wondered, not for the first time, whether they’d have had children by now had they stayed together. And then they had been momentarily alone, when the rest of the party had gone for cake, and he’d seen that wall of hers crack a little, before she’d practically run away and reality had intruded.

So if that made him a pussy, so be it. It also made him wary. Because as easily as he had fallen before, he could do it again. And if he was wrong, it would hurt as much as it had the first time.

Sabrina Logan’s rental house

Sitting on the warm sand in front of her house, contemplating the starry sky, Reena thought about the phone call she’s received a few minutes ago. Her old partner at the CSS, now head of the R&D department, had provided the last piece of the puzzle.

The man who had sold her out five years ago, the man who had sold out his country for profit, the man whose hands were covered with the blood of good men and women, had been their old boss, Carlton Vickers. He’d died in a car accident a few months after it had all gone to hell, but first he’d erased every single string of data bearing Wo Fat’s name from the mission reports.

Elton Cook, her old partner, had gone to work when she called asking for a favor, using his newly acquired power inside the agency, to access sealed information, hack into private files within private files...Only to discover the car accident hadn’t been an accident at all. Someone had set a bomb. In the peculiar style of Wo Fat tying up loose ends.

She sighed, dropped onto her back, and curled her hands under her head.

The agency had fallen under a different administration in the past few years, but there were still enough ‘old regime’ devotees on the employment list, to keep people wary of traps. Lucky for her, Cook had restructured the R&D department, pulling in people loyal to him, keeping the department intrigue- and power-play-free. Regular stress-tests, and employee check-ups made sure it stayed that way. Not that he was paranoid or anything.

And people loyal to Elton Cook were also friends and favorite ex-colleagues of her, loyal to the bone and beyond, making her feel better about keeping this investigation, and the entrapment plan, under wraps from those who might give her prey the heads-up.

She just needed to tweak the plan a little bit before the presentation.

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