The masked man prowled the small space in front of the Lt. Commander as he eyed his prey. He tilted his head whimsically to the side as he decided which approach to adopt when it came to the head of Five-0. He was thankful for the thought to bring two of his biggest, beefiest men to hold down McGarrett, who everyone here knew was not going to go down without a fight. They had stalked the man, waiting for the perfect opportunity to ambush him and carry out the contract. It had taken a week of surveillance to determine that Williams had to be taken out of the picture; McGarrett’s partner was a menace in the sense that everywhere the Commander went Williams was hot on his heels. Now that the time was here, he had taken the necessary steps to ensure that the blonde-haired man would be kept out of the equation.
The dark haired man in front of him was like a puzzle. They knew what buttons to push to make him angry, defensive and bleed…but there was a piece missing, the piece that was going to break this man’s will and force it to bend to theirs. His training with the Navy SEALs ensured that he was going to be able to sustain incredible stresses on both his body and mind. The masked man didn’t believe it until he saw it for himself. Rocco and Nino had really gone to town on McGarrett and he had barely made a sound. He had heard the cracks of bone and seen the violent kicks from steel capped boots as they rained down on the Lt. Commander. The melody of grunts and groans that filled the room as his associates did their work was music to his ears. When it seemed like the victim had had enough, the masked man had told them to cut it out before Rocco nudged McGarrett onto his back. The three men stared down at the injured man, observing the rise and fall of his chest before Nino dragged the nearest dining chair to where they were and Rocco hauled the injured man off the ground to dump him unceremoniously onto the chair.
McGarrett’s head lolled side to side as Nino extracted a thick bundle of nylon rope and a Stanley knife before the two men made light work of tying together the seated man’s hands and feet. Suddenly their victim tried to kick out at Nino as soon as the man bent down but Rocco yanked hard on the man’s broken arm which lessened the impact of the supposed blow as the injured man’s body reflexively jerked away from Rocco. The masked man smiled as Rocco then pulled hard on McGarrett’s already broken arm to fasten it behind the Lt. Commander’s back, eliciting a further soft moan of pain.
The restrained man spat the blood out of his mouth, wincing as the movement caused his jaw to crack and ache. The clock on the mantelpiece told him that it was just shy of 6pm and that they had been going at this for a bit over half an hour. Shaking his head to try and clear the muzzy feeling, the ex-Navy SEAL then glared defiantly into the face of the masked man who stood before him. In the late afternoon sun he could see the crimson of his blood shine iridescently against the silver of the knuckleduster he held in his hand. “Tell your boss that I’m not going to rest until his sorry arse is behind bars.”
“We have nothing against you, Mr McGarrett.” The mask man spoke aloud to the quietness of the room. “Friends help each other and I need your cooperation. For my friend’s sake I need to have it, no matter what the cost, and I know you can give it to me.” A slight tilt of his head had Rocco seizing McGarrett’s hair and yanking his head back before the masked man moved close enough to be able to see the strained cords of the Lt. Commander’s neck as well as the knuckle-duster shaped bruise blooming on the side of his jaw as he clenched his teeth. Flexing his fingers briefly before gripping the knuckle-duster tightly in his hands, the masked man raised it to just level with his shoulder as McGarrett scrunched his eyes closed. With a smooth, swift movement of his shoulder he struck the uncooperative man squarely on the face, enjoying the bright slash of red as the barbed knuckleduster sliced the skin of the Lt. Commander’s cheek open.
“I’m sorry,” the masked man admitted softly. “I have no other choice then.”
It was 8.05pm when Danny pulled the Camaro to a gentle stop outside of Steve’s house. He got out and with a small kick, slammed the car door shut. The vicious movement left him with a sense of satisfaction following the extensive delays at the pizza shop when the wood fire oven had broken down. He had to resort to another shop where the queues were twice as long as people waited for their dinner. Armed with a six back of Longboards in one hand and two pizzas balanced precariously in the other, he quickly approached the front of the beach in an effort to stay out of reach of those bloodthirsty mosquitoes: the oft overlooked companion to tropical paradise. It was getting dark very fast and the air was heavy and sticky, making his shirt stick uncomfortably against his skin. He blamed the horrible humidity and his partner of all things for this rapid departure from his senses.
Against better judgment that afternoon before leaving the Palace, he found himself automatically picking up the phone and calling for two pizzas; pepperoni for himself and Hawaiian for his recalcitrant partner before jumping in the Camaro to head to the liquor shop and ultimately end up here, parked at the front of this rather unassumingly normal looking house. He snorted, there was no way that McGarrett could be called anything approaching normal. As to be expected after prolonged exposure to harmful, bad influences, it was starting to rub off on him.
They already spent most of the working day together and now somewhere, somehow, they started actively seeking each other’s company after work. The weekly drinks somehow melded to become house visits and before he could even stop to think Danny found himself introducing the light of his life, Gracie, to Captain America himself. Shaking his head in a physical attempt to clear it of such circular thoughts, he closed the distance between himself and the front door. There was simply no reason to engage in a fruitless head bashing exercise; it was better to just accept things as they were. Placing the Longboards down on the ground, he rapped smartly on the thin frame of the screen door. A few moments passed by and he savored the way the night wind was incredibly pleasant on his face. Peering past the screen, he tried to make sense of the darkness from within. As far as he could see there were no signs of life from inside. The stirrings of worry began to make themselves known and he reached into his pocket to retrieve his phone. Quickly sliding to the speed dial he selected the number right at the very top before raising the phone to his ears. He almost jumped out of his skin when he could hear Steve’s phone ringing inside.
The phone continued to ring inside before switching to voicemail. Huffing an irritated breath, Danny slid his cell back into his pocket before biting his bottom lip. He had made his decision; after all, Steve not answering his phone was an emergency. Knowing him, he could have sliced his finger off while trying to fix the sink garbage disposal unit and had fainted from the blood loss. When it came to Steve McGarrett, the impossible became possible, the undoable less daunting. Entering the alarm code into the keypad, the detective waited for the standard beep before retrieving the Longboards from the ground to enter the house. A small part of him was extremely pleased that his partner had gotten around to installing an alarm system following the whole Taser business.
“Hello?” Danny called out as he inched forward cautiously, “McGarrett, you here?” He was greeted with more silence and that knot of concern that had appeared earlier made a re-appearance. Slowly he headed for the living room into the kitchen to put the pizzas on the counter and the beer in the fridge. Now that his hands were free, Danny began his search for his recalcitrant partner. The sense of unease only intensified when he returned to the living room to scan it for any sign of Steve, only to notice that one of the dining chairs was missing and his iPhone lying on the table. It was then that the detective noticed the skid marks left of the floorboards as someone had pulled the chair to the center of the room. Following the trail of damage, shock and horror pulled at his heartstrings when he say the small puddle of blood next to a set of 4 scuff marks on the ground. “Jesus…” he uttered, in lieu of a gasp.
Quickly drawing his gun, the detective slid to the nearest wall, before beginning to edge his way slowly towards the staircase. The trail of blood got thinner to become nothing but scant droplets on the ground before disappearing. However, it was replaced with a thin wispy trail on the wall, a few inches higher than Danny. He moved towards the wall to closely examine the crimson trail. There were two lines, one on top of the other, with the thicker line being at the bottom. The horror morphed into fear and panic at the moment as his heart beat rapidly against his chest. Swallowing down the lump in his throat as it clicked, Danny rushed up the stairs and made quick work of the landing. At the end of the corridor he could see that the door to Steve’s bedroom was slightly ajar and the edges of the white curtains came briefly into view as the nighttime air filtered through the lanai.
Keeping the gun in his right hand steady, Danny carefully pushed the door open. As soon as he could see what was inside molten dread settled in the pit of his stomach and he flung the door wide open to rush out towards the dark haired man sitting out on the lanai. It would have been completely normal to watch the sunset from this vantage point, high above the majestic sunset that was unfolding in front of them. The evening breeze was sweetly spicy, with just a hint of salt there, but it wasn’t strong enough to drown out the overwhelming stench of wet copper in the air which got stronger the closer Danny got to the dark haired man sitting on the chair. He looked the picture of relaxation, except for the fact that his head was resting against his chest and his hands were bound behind the chair with thick nylon rope. Danny was horrified to see that his wrists were rubbed raw and the rope was stained red.
The armed detective skidded to an abrupt halt beside the man, who he hoped against odds was someone; anyone else than Steve himself. “No…” he repeated, as he came to rest beside the slumped figure on the chair, or what remained of his partner. His bum knee cracked as he knelt down in front of Steve, taking in the sight of his injured partner. Danny’s recently healed ACL winced at the sudden movement but he didn’t care; he was reaching into his pocket again and pulling out his phone to call for an ambulance.
“Operator,” Danny rushed into the phone. He was jabbing his fingers against the side of Steve’s neck trying to feel for a pulse. The skin beneath his fingertips was too cold for comfort but a wave of relief crashed into when he could detect the other man’s pulse. It was weak and slow but the main thing was it was still there. “This is Detective Danny Williams requesting an ambulance to 404 Piikoi St, Honolulu straight away. Suspected aggravated assault occasioning grievous bodily harm.”
“Right away,” the emergency dispatcher replied. Danny barely gave her enough time to say anything else before he hung up and dialed Chin’s number. He moved to stand up and ran a shaking hand through his hair before clamping the phone between the side of his head and his shoulder as he walked around Steve to untie his hands. After a few rings Chin picked up.
“Chin,” Danny greeted as he untied the Lt. Commander’s hands. He tried not to notice the way they swung before dangling limply on either side of the chair. From here he also saw the black, purple and yellow medley of bruises and the way Steve’s left arm was twisted at an unnatural angle. “Meet us at Queen’s Hospital now…right now! Steve’s been hurt!” With the later part of that sentence he couldn’t keep the note of panic out of his voice. Steve…Steve could actually die here.
“You got it, brah.” Chin confirmed, “Kono and I will be there as soon as we can.” There was a significant pause, “Danny?”
“Yeah?” Danny mumbled as he maneuvered around to kneel in front of Steve as he untied the thick rope that bound the taller man’s legs together. He gnashed his teeth as he untied the rope, before throwing it into a heap to the side.
“Stay with Steve.” Chin spoke, after a few moments.
Despite the circumstances, the ghost of a grin flitted briefly across Danny’s face. “I will.” Disconnecting the call, the ex-Jersey cop was relieved to hear the telltale sirens of the ambulance get steadily louder before cutting out completely. There was a lengthy pause as Danny turned to look into the slack, heavily bruised face of his partner. His face melted into a tender expression of intense concern as he surveyed the damage. “You better pull through, you hear?” he whispered softly, loud enough so that only Steve could hear him. “You’re going pull through, and you and I are going to sit down and have a long talk about security arrangements, you hear me?”
With a final shake of his head, Danny exited the room, before running down the stairs to pull the door open. He stepped aside for the EMTs to bring the stretcher inside, and followed them silently as they went up the stairs.
Danny was pacing the waiting room, trying to siphon off some of the pent up frustration and anxiety of not knowing. He liked order in his life, consistency, but ever since he had taken up the post as partner to the biggest ticking time bomb on the islands, he had thrown his principles and caution to the wind. It was the McGarrett influence; that was it. The small thought caused a tiny smile to flit across his features before Chin and Kono came bursting through the doors, concern evident on their faces.
“Any news on Steve?” Chin queried, coming to a stop in front of Danny. The three members of Five-0 turned towards the large glass window where they could see a few nurses and doctors scramble around the limp figure on the bed. Danny swallowed thickly before directing his attention back to the Korean detective who was watching him intently. He shook his head sadly.
“None.” Danny hands waved in accompaniment to his words. “They just took him in there, and shoved me out here. I know about as much as you do!” There was anger in his words but his colleagues ignored it. It was understandable and the strain of not knowing would be enough to drive anyone to the brink of patience. Chin looked down at Danny’s hands as they rested against the flat space at the bottom of the window, not surprised to find his hands balled into tight fists that looked painful; his knuckles were bright white.
Sympathy flooded him for Danny’s plight. He moved closer to place a reassuring hand on the shorter man’s shoulder. The reassuring action caused Danny to look at him, his eyes blazing a furious blue. “Hang in there, Danny.” Chin soothed as he caught the other’s man’s gaze under a weighty stare. “Steve will be okay.”
Clamping down of the rushing tide of emotions that threatened to bowl him over, Danny offered Chin a weak smile as he nodded. “I know he will,” he turned to look at Kono, who was busy dabbing her eyes with a tissue. They were red rimmed and swollen as if she had been crying. “Come here,” he stated simply before moving closer to her and embracing her in a brief hug. She was shaking and he raised a hand to softly stroke the black sleekness of her hair as he made soft shushing sounds. “Steve’s going to be okay,” he confirmed before moving to look her in the eye. “He’s a Navy SEAL ninja wannabe, remember?”
The rookie cop bit down hard on her bottom lip in an obvious attempt to control her tears as she blinked furiously. The two men gave her time to re-assemble her composure. Kono was tough; she was going to pull through. The one thing they all had going for them was that Steve was, no, is a stubborn bastard. He was never going to give up without a fight. A tired smile lit her tear stained face up and she nodded. There was barely a wobble in her voice when she finally spoke up. “Yeah,” she sighed. “I know Steve’s going to make it. But it’s hard to see him like that.” They nodded in understanding as she cleared her throat before continuing. “We spoke to the officers from HPD at Steve's house on our way over. They warned us that the EMT's at the scene thought Steve's condition was critical so I called Mary-Anne. She's coming in from LA on the first available flight. She’s going to come straight here.”
“Good,” Danny replied as he let her go and turned to rest his palm and forehead against the windowpane. The doctors had been going at Steve for the past hour or so; he wasn’t really keeping track of time right now. He tilted his head to face Kono. “Have the lab boys reached his house yet?”
“They’re combing through everything, leaving no rock unturned.” Kono replied tonelessly as she looked down at her hands. It was then that Danny noticed she was holding her phone in a grip tight enough to bruise in her right hand. “Charlie and Max have given me the word that as soon as they get a break they’ll call me straight away.”
“We’re going to go and give them a hand.” Chin added. They all shared a non-verbal conversation that communicated more than words ever could. There was no need for Kono and Chin here; their time and efforts were better utilized in the hunt for the fiends who had hurt their friend so badly. It was the partner’s job to be here, waiting in the hospital room. The best thing for Chin and Kono to do now was diverge all their efforts into finding the son of a bitch who did this to Steve. The door to the examination room burst open with a loud bang, causing the members of Five-0 to spin around rapidly as a doctor rapidly approached them. “How is Steve?” Chin shot first as he moved closer to the doctor, rapidly followed by Danny and Kono.
The doctor sighed before beginning. “Your friend in there is in pretty bad shape. How he is still alive amazes me.” He paused to rifle through the sheaf of papers attached to his clipboard before continuing, “He has sustained several broken bones and a severe concussion. We suspect there may be also skull fracture; we need to get him in for an x-ray but that’s the least of our concerns. He needs to go into surgery as soon as possible.”
“Surgery…why!?” Danny queried.
“It’s his spleen,” the doctor began. “Along with several broken ribs, it’s been ruptured. We need to get him into surgery to stop the internal bleeding before he bleeds out. We need the consent of his medical proxy, Mr. Danny Williams-”
“You have it,” Danny cut across. “Please, do whatever it takes to save Steve.” There was a hint of pleading in his voice. The doctor passed him the clipboard and a pen before he signed the form and handed it back. With a curt nod, the doctor stepped back into the examination room and gave the clipboard to a nurse who then burst out of the room, obviously heading for the nurse’s station to lodge the form. Within minutes, the nurse came back followed by a team of male nurses and they transferred the injured Steve onto another gurney before moving him towards the operating room. Danny, Chin and Kono tried to follow them down the corridor but the nurse approached them raising her hands. She shook her head sadly, “I’m sorry but authorized medical personnel past this point only.” Her expression softened, before she fixed Danny with a piercing green gaze. “We’ll look after Commander McGarrett for you. As soon as there are any new developments, you’ll be the first to know.” She promised softly before she turned around and headed into the operating room.
They looked on and could see past the observation window in the door that the doctors and nurses were scrubbing up. Seeing the flurry of action made Danny feel a little better because Steve was getting the help he needed. Realizing that there was nothing more for them to do standing in the middle of the hallway like this, the blonde detective made his way back to the waiting room. He passed by the window that he had spent the past hour or so looking at, pausing to stare at the splatter of blood against the stark white of the tousled sheets on the bed that Steve had just been on moments ago. A gentle hand on his shoulder caused him to turn around, and he looked hard at Chin. With a nod that also counted as a dismissal, Danny watched as the cousins slowly backed out of the room before disappearing completely.
Noting that there was now nothing for him to do except wait, the ex-Jersey cop approached the row of plastic chairs lining the edges of the room before taking a seat on the one nearest the corner table. He tried sitting down but it didn’t last long; the constant tick tick tick of the clock that hung above the door was oppressively loud, creeping under his skin to make him restless. Danny took a deep breath in an attempt to calm down before flicking his eyes to the doorway. It didn’t work. An impatient man by nature, it didn’t take long before he was up and pacing again, trying to bleed as much of his frustration out as he could. He sorely wished to punch, break or smash something – he gritted his teeth as he rested his hand against the wall.
Time took on non-meaning as he continued vacillating back and forth in the room before he stopped at the window which overlooked the hospital gardens. He hated being caged in the sterile confines of the waiting room, the thick stench of sickness and antiseptic strong enough to trigger a sudden rush of claustrophobia. Danny always hated hospital stays; now he found himself in a position he would never imagine himself in, in a million years. He was shocked as hell when Steve approached him that day in the middle of August and told him bluntly that Danny was going to be his medical proxy. He had ranted and raved back then but a small part of him was secretly pleased at the notion that Steve had so much faith in him. Not that he was lacking in that department or anything; it was yet another piece of evidence supporting the facts that they were truly partners who had each other’s backs through thick or thin, who trusted the other to do what needed to be done when the time came.
He had been staring unseeingly out the window, a hand rested against the pane of glass as he leaned his forehead against the back of his hand when he heard rapidly approaching footsteps. Turning around, Danny bent down as the light in his life Gracie ran towards him and he enveloped her in a tight hug. “Monkey!” He was so glad to see his little princess; despite the circumstances, any chance of seeing her instantly lifted his spirits. A small note of sadness arose as he noted that Gracie had been crying, he moved to look at her in the eye and a part of his heart broke at seeing the tear-streaks down her face as she eyed him.
“Danno! Is Uncle Steve going to be okay?” Grace asked as her lip began to wobble. Danny quickly stood up and walked her over to the row of chairs before seizing a tissue from the corner table and bending down in front of her so that they were eye level again. Using it to wipe the tears away from her anguished face, the anxious father tried to think of a way to answer his little girl as she sat down on one of the hard plastic chairs. It was a deceptively hard question.
Fortunately, Rachel entered the waiting room. She went to sit down next to Grace before taking a cup from the cardboard cup holder she held in her hands and passed it to Danny who sat down beside them. With a nod of thanks he accepted it and took a small sip. The coffee was marvelous - just how he liked it with just the right hint of milk and sugar. It was probably the last thing his heavily frayed nerves needed right now but the act of drinking something warm was comforting nonetheless. He turned back to face Grace, whose eyes had widened to the size of small saucers by now. “He will be, sweetheart. The doctors are looking at him right now and they’re going to help him. We just have to sit tight and wait for them to finish.”
“Danny,” Rachel interrupted, giving him a meaningful look. Ten years of marriage had taught him that there was something she wanted to say to him, away from Grace. It was inevitable and better to get it out of the way and done with right now, than later.
He sighed, before turning to look at Grace again. “Your Mom and I are just going to be over there,” he indicated to a spot on the other side of the room, just far enough that Grace wouldn’t be able to hear what they said if they spoke quietly. “Give us a moment, okay?”
Grace nodded her head. “Okay,” she agreed. Making sure that the tears had stopped, he moved to stand up and placed a hand on the small of Rachel’s back before guiding her gently to the other side of the room.
Removing his hand, he cleared his throat before forcing himself to meet her eyes. “I, uh, want to thank you for being here, and bringing Grace here as well. It means a lot to me.” Danny cast his gaze down to his feet, finding himself unable to meet Rachel’s penetrating brown gaze.
She crossed her arms tightly across her chest as she studied him. Given the way things had ended in New Jersey Rachel had counted on the distance between them to help mend all the holes their vicious barbs had torn into each other, and now she found herself looking on at him, as he was now in the same position she had been in while he was with the Newark PD; it could be karma if one chose to believe in such things. There was still that sense of resentment about the way things had ended between them but now was not the time to dredge up that old history. It was neither the place with Grace eyeing them; she could feel the weight of her little girl’s eyes on her. “How is Steven?” she finally asked.
Danny took a deep breath before he ran a shaking hand through his hair. These were innocuous questions, simple to answer really, if one had the answers. He didn’t have the answers nor did he know what to say. In the end, he settled for the truth. Forcing himself to meet her eyes for the second time, he swallowed thickly before answering. “I don’t know.” A part of him ached to admit that because it meant that he was no longer in the comfort zone of a controlled environment. “He’s been hurt, pretty bad.”
Rachel could see just how much strain her ex-husband was under. The act of admitting as much clearly pained him and while in another context this might have been refreshing, this was not the time to indulge in vindictiveness either. She took a cool breath as she forced down the tide of emotions and took his arm in hers. “Come on, why don’t we sit down for a bit? I’m sure the doctors will have news of Steven soon.” She led him back to the chairs and they sat down together. Her feelings towards this man were unquantifiable. Sure, there was scorn and resentment and all those things, but there was also a spark about Danny Williams that had initially captured her. It was still there, but just buried under the stupendous emotional baggage he carried on his shoulders. At the root of every relationship was friendship and while their relationship was barely held together by the angelic string that was Grace, the element of friendship was still there. Danny could be incredibly warm and charming when he wanted to, and now it was obvious that he needed some support through this tough time.
She sighed and wondered mentally just how she had been drawn into this precarious position again as she extracted from her bag a small book before opening it to where the bookmark was before beginning to read. She kept an ear open on the conversation between Danny and Grace. A small part of her smiled as she listened to how seamlessly he melded into the role of the silly father figure. There was one thing that could always be counted on when it came to Danny Williams, and it was the fact that he would walk over earth, air and sea for his daughter. She respected that but would never tell him. She stole a glance at the pair of them; Grace sat next to Danny as she leaned casually against his right shoulder. He had seized a magazine up from the corner table that looked like it was from the 1980s and they were laughing at who knew what there. It didn’t matter, because Grace was no longer crying. Grace had been the one to demand to go and see Uncle Steve as soon as Rachel had told her that he had been hurt. “Danno will be sad,” Grace had said. “I don’t want him to ever be sad again.”
Rachel didn’t have it in her heart to lie to her little girl; Steven was as much of the family as Step-Stan was and she couldn’t deny her little girl the truth. Which was precisely how she had ended up here again of all places.
“So do you think Mr. Hoppy would look good in this rainbow—what is that, even?” he spoke, raising the paper a little higher to read the print. “Leotard,” he turned to look at Grace with a raised eyebrow. “Do you think he will look good in one?”
The sound of Grace’s laughter was the most wonderful music to her ears. She tilted her head to the side, apparently deep in thought. “No,” she answered after a few moments. “It would be better if it was frilly, and had lots of pink and purple sparkles. Like that one.” There was the sound of finger hitting paper before Danny whistled.
“Hmmm, excellent choice,” he stated simply, nodding his agreement. “It seems like we have a budding fashionista here.” Danny’s face split open with a broad grin, which made Rachel’s heart do funny things. They proved to her that her feelings towards this man were still unresolved, still-
“Excuse me, Mr. Williams?” The doctor said, interrupting Rachel’s thoughts as he crossed the doorway, before moving to in front of Danny. He eyed Rachel and Grace before staring pointedly back at the detective.
“Rachel, Gracie,” he rushed out, extending a hand to the doctor. “This is Dr Archer, he’s looking after Steve at the moment. Likewise.”
“Hi!” Grace beamed. “Is Uncle Steve going to be okay?”
“Grace,” Rachel warned before nodding her head at the doctor. “How is he?”
“We had to rem
ove his spleen because it had been ruptured. During surgery we discovered that his liver had several lacerations which have since then been stitched up. However…” the doctor trailed off, giving Danny a meaningful look.
Catching it, the detective turned to face Grace and his ex-wife. “Rachel, why don’t you, er, go and grab Gracie something to drink?”
“Okay,” she replied as she stuffed the book back in her bag, before standing up and extending a hand to Grace for her to hold. “Come on sweetheart, ” she cooed as Grace slid off the seat to seize her hand. “Let’s go and grab something to drink.”
“Mooooom!” the young girl began to protest but one stern look and she pouted before turning to look at her father. “Danno, can I-”
He shook his head. “Sorry, Monkey. I agree with your Mom on this.”
Pouting, Grace allowed herself to be lead out of the room. Danny watched as the mother-daughter pair walked down the hallway before turning left and disappearing. He stared at the empty hallway for a few moments before directing his attention back onto the doctor, who had moved to take Grace’s newly vacated seat. He held his hands out in front of him and took a deep breath. “First thing I want to know,” he paused to look at Dr Archer in the eye, “is if he’s going to make it. Let’s start with that.” His clear blue eyes gazed expectantly at the physician, who took off his glasses and pinch the bridge of his nose.
“Look,” Dr Archer said frankly as he put his glasses back on again. “He has a 50/50 chance of making it through the night. He didn’t respond well to the anesthesia and has not regained consciousness. Like I said, we have removed his spleen which had ruptured and repaired the lacerations to his liver. If he can make it through tonight without any further medical incidents, his chances of recovery are significantly better.”
“So you don’t know.” Danny stated simply. His voice had taken on a rough edge. Taking a steadying breath, he tried again for a marginally calmer tone. “Please doctor,” he brought his hands together in supplication. “Is Steve going to make it or not. Tell me what your gut instinct says.”
Dr Archer looked out the window as he tried to marshal his thoughts into some form of order. The fact was these cases could go either way. McGarrett had massive internal bleeding from the ruptured spleen and they had done their best to stop it. However the troubling patient had crashed twice before they could completely stop the bleeding, and they had to close him up as his blood pressure dropped to dangerous levels. They weren’t sure if the rapid drop in blood pressure was from the blood loss, or the adverse reaction to the anesthetic. There were too many possible causes. All they could do was fix what they could then sew him back up.
The rustling leaves of the palm trees did nothing to sooth him and he reluctantly forced himself to regard the deeply concerned man in front of him. From the tense set of his shoulders it was clear that the detective was barely keeping it together; he obviously cared deeply for the injured man lying in Recovery and it must have torn shreds to come across a scene like that. Taking a deep breath, he tried to temper the blow he had to deal. “There is a higher chance that he will not make it through the night.” Dr Archer extended a hand to lay it gently on the detective’s shoulder. “I’m sorry but that’s my honest medical opinion.”
Even though the good doctor had tried to soften the blow, Danny was still left reeling from the news. He literally had to grab onto the hard armrest of the chair to steady himself. He should have expected it, because he had been the first on the scene and seen the massive injuries to his partner before the EMTs had arrived. That was now a sight that was burned into his memory forever. He blinked back the suspicious stinging in his eyes and forced himself to remain calm. One breath at a time, he slowly brought the tumultuous feelings threatening to reek havoc under control. “But Steve is still breathing at the moment, is that right?” he tried to reason.
Dr Archer nodded slowly, before sighing. He had gone down this road too many times before and the outcome had always been the same. A small part of him felt sorry for the detective but as a doctor he could not let his emotions come into play. Clearing his throat, he answered succinctly. “Yes, he is still breathing.” The physician could tell that the detective was clinging to this simple fact like a lifeline. He did not have the heart to destroy the small bud of hope that had appeared for the blonde haired man. “We are going to monitor his condition closely overnight. At the moment we are continuing with the blood transfusions and IV antibiotics to fight infection. Several of the cuts and gashes he has sustained are quite serious.”
“Can I see him?” Danny asked meekly. He leaned forward to rest his elbows against his knees, his hands still clasped together. Steve was fighting for his life alone in some sterile utilitarian hospital room, alone. No one should ever have to go through that by themselves, not when there were people around. Fixing the doctor with his piercing blue gaze, the detective prepared himself for an outright rejection. As the seconds ticked by, the desire to see his partner strengthened, such that it became a need. He had to see Steve; there was no other option. “Don’t make me pull rank; I will if I have to.” Preparing himself for a verbal sparring match, he was surprised when the doctor sighed and gave in, sinking lower into his chair.
“I neither have the time or the energy to fight with you Mr. Williams,” Dr Archer admitted. “If you so wish to stay by the Commander’s side, please do so.” Moving to stand up, the physician began to wordlessly move towards the door. Danny recognized the non-verbal cue and followed the man out of the waiting room. His eyes widened in horror when he caught the small dots of blood that stained the man’s white coat. A lump formed in his throat and he swallowed, trying to desperately get rid of it. His mind wondered to idle fantasy that did more harm than good as it supplied images of just how the blood ended up on the jacket. Shaking his head to clear that line of thought, the detective allowed himself to be led into an elevator, before they got off on the 3rd floor. Their footsteps echoed loudly against the near perfect silence, which was broken only by the low humming of machines and the steady beep beep beep of the monitors. They passed a nurse’s station, where the doctor paused to give a directive. “Mr. Williams will be staying with Commander McGarrett tonight. Please make a note of that in the patient’s records.”
“Will do, sir,” she replied, before moving to open the relevant file on the hospital mainframe. With a curt nod, Dr Archer continued his path down the long hallway with a window at the end, from which Danny could see the tops of palm trees. They stopped in front of the third door from the end on the right and the detective made a note that Steve was resting in room 307. The physician opened the door before stepping aside to allow Danny to enter. As soon as he stepped aside the ex-Jersey cop could see his partner lying on the bed but it was horrible; something from the worst of nightmares.
He slowly moved forward as disbelief blossomed. There was no way that lumpy mass in the middle of the bed was Steve. His eyes trailed from the thick bandages covering most of Steve’s head to cover most of his face, where a heavily bruised eye swollen shut was barely visible above the edge of the bandages. An oxygen masked covered the lower half of McGarrett’s face. It was a few moments before his partner realized that the soft beeping sounds were coming from the heart monitor just to the side of the bed. There were also thick casts on his right forearm and their outlines could be seen on his legs which were obscured by a white blanket that covered his lower body..
The physician watched with dark amusement; the shock on the younger man’s face was evident. “Do you still want to stay the night here?”
Desperately trying to temper down on the deep hatred that welled up for the animals that had done this to Steve, Danny approached the nearest chair and moved to sit down, drawing it as close to the bed as he could. He glanced up at his unconscious friend’s face before allowing his eyes to trail downwards, before spotting tops of the injured man’s fingers poking out from the side of the bed, just where the blanket didn’t quite reach. Seizing the limp hand in his, the detective was shocked to discover how cold it was. Rubbing gentle circles into Steve’s palm, he looked back at the doctor defiantly. “You bet I am! I’m going to be here when he wakes up.” He looked back at Steve’s face before allowing a tender smile to grace his features. “I know he’s going to; he’s a ninja SEAL wannabe for Christ’s sake…he’s going to make it.”
Dr Archer smiled grimly before he approached Danny and reached out behind him, bringing a long cord with a button at the end to show the seated man. “This is the panic button,” he directed. “If the Commander’s condition changes during the night, press this button and a nurse will come by to check on him. Now do you have any questions?”
The detective shook his head. “No.” The doctor then went to the end of the bed and seized the clipboard lying at the table at the end of the bed before proceeding to make a note in Steve’s chart. Judging from the reading of the heart monitor, Danny guessed that he was recording his partner’s O2 stats, blood pressure and heart rate. Once done, Dr Archer closed the clipboard and moved around to exit the room. Just before he crossed the doorway he heard a very small mumbled ‘thank you’ emanate from the interior.
Shaking his head, he turned around to face the anxious man before raising his arm to lean against the wooden frame, eyeing him critically. The physician sighed. “You have nothing to be thankful for,” he began to explain in a tired voice. “Your friend there is still in the woods, so to speak.” A small part of him felt extremely guilty as he watched the grateful smile slide off Danny’s face to be replaced with horror. “We have tried our best but sometimes even that is not good enough. I meant what I said earlier, Mr. Williams.” With that, the older man moved to close the door, leaving the detective to his own thoughts.
Danny could only stare at the door in mute disbelief before shaking his head at the tenacity of the doctor. Letting go of Steve’s hand, Danny reached into his phone for the fourth time that day and sent a quick text message to Rachel telling him where he and Steve were. He put his cell phone on the side table before pulling open the drawer underneath. There was a Bible in there but he closed it. He turned to face his friend. “You know,” he began to say aloud, not really sure if Steve could hear him wherever he was. Still, he hoped that his partner could hear him. “You really did it this time.” He paused to take a breath, before moving towards the window. The palm treetops waved lazily in the breeze, as gentle as the sway of a hula girl’s hips. Darkness had descended over the islands and the first stars were winking into sight in the night sky. The peaceful nature of the night did nothing to calm the furious rage bubbling inside him. He glared at the man lying on the bed. It was deathly silent; there was nothing except for the soft hissing of the ventilator and the steady beep beep beep of the monitor as the green line raced across the screen. “You got so badly hurt that you weren’t even able to use those Bear Gryll tactics you’re so fond of. Seriously! What use is being able to locate edible lichen and scale huge rocks with no support when you’re dead?”
The sounds of the doorknob twisting diverted Danny’s attention before he watched it open to reveal that nurse from the station earlier, before Rachel and Grace entered. His ex-wife was carrying a plastic bag in which he could see the outline of a takeaway container and a bottle of something or other as her other hand grasped Grace’s tightly. She kicked the door shut as Grace wandered over to Steve’s bedside to stare at her favorite Uncle. It was heartbreaking watching her, as tears streamed down her face at seeing Uncle Steve like this. Danny went around and knelt down as he pulled her into a hug before she sobbed quietly into his shoulder. She clung onto him and he rubbed gentle circles into her back as he whispered comforting words into her ear. “Don’t you worry your little head off, Uncle Steve’s going to be okay. He’s just in a cocoon right now; once he comes out of it he’ll be even more awesome. How great would that be?” He let her go just enough to be able to see her face and place a hand under her chin. He forced a smile that in no way reached any deeper than his face. “Shhh, dry those tears; there’s no reason for you to cry anymore, Monkey.” He enveloped her into another big hug before letting her go. She moved to sit down on the lone chair in the room.
Rachel stepped forward and deposited the plastic bag down onto his lap. “That’s a bottle of water and some lasagna from the Italian takeout place across the road. Come on Grace, it’s time to go home.”
“I want to stay with Uncle Steve until he wakes up,” Grace began but Danny shifted the bag to the floor before he put a hand on her shoulder; she looked at him in surprise. His daughter gave him her best puppy dog eyes look but he sadly shook his head. Normally he would be the first to be in favor of spending more time with her but given the circumstances it was not in her best interests.
“Listen to your mother on this one, okay?” He leaned in to give her a kiss on the cheek and envelop her in another big hug. “Go home. You don’t want to worry Step-Stan now, do you?” He closed his eyes and savored the moment for a bit longer before letting her go. “Bye Monkey, Danno will drop by as soon as he can.” Grace looked at him with earnest eyes before a grin broke out and she kissed him on the cheek. Sliding off the chair, she moved to stand by her mother’s side.
“Bye Danno.” She smiled, before looking at Steve. “Bye Uncle Steve!” she paused to give him a little wave. “I hope you get better soon.”
Rachel moved to press her closer to her side, before looking down at her daughter. “I’m sure he will sweetheart. Now it’s time for us to go home.” She looked back up at Danny, who was watching the pair with an intense expression of longing. Something within her responded and she felt the breath rush out of her lungs. “Bye Danny, please let us know if Steve’s condition changes.”
She moved to open the door and ushered Grace out. Before Rachel knew it Danny was standing beside her, resting a hand gently on her arm. A small but real smile broke out on his face this time as he regarded her warmly. He was standing close enough that she could smell the faint tang of his aftershave. “Thank you Rachel, for being so understanding about everything,” he said seriously before giving her a quick hug.
He let her go and stepped aside for her to open the door a bit wider. Smiling for the first time today, she realized exactly why people were willing to stake their lives on this man; he could be counted on to do the right thing. “Everyone needs life support at some stage, Danny,” she replied cryptically. “Bye.”
Danny watched as his ex-wife closed the door before he went to sit back down on the chair. He observed the steady rise and fall of Steve’s chest as the man fought for his life; the detective did not put too much thought into whether his partner was breathing on his own or whether the machine was doing everything for him. The main thing was the SEAL was breathing because that meant he still had a chance. “I know you’re made of sterner stuff than this, Steven. You’ve survived Annapolis…” He trailed off before fixing his stare on the injured man’s face.
There was an interminable pause as the detective became lost in his thoughts before his voice took on a rough edge. “Don’t you dare give up on me, you hear? I will come and drag you back here if you do.” Danny leaned his elbows on his thighs again and let his hands fall onto the sheets of the bed, tangling in between the material as he took a shuddering breath before continuing in a smaller, tired voice. “So you better wake up soon. Gracie will never forgive you if you don’t.” Swallowing back the suspicious lump in this throat, his voice took on a pleading tone as he buried his face against his outstretched arms on the bed. “Please wake up,” he mumbled again, half muffled by the sheets on the bed which hid the tears that had finally surfaced as he gave into his grief.
It started when he tried to open his eyes and was alarmed that he couldn’t open his left eye. He realized that it was swollen shut and his right eye was hidden under a swathe of bandages. Even more startling was when he tried to move his arm to push the bandage away from his eye to find that his right forearm was encased in a thick rigid caste. The movement caused him excruciating pain before he became aware of the dull ache that ran straight through his body. He felt heavy and extremely sore; every breath was painful. Growing increasingly alarmed, Steve ground his teeth as he forced his left arm to rise high enough to push the bandage away from his eye. It was a small movement that left him feeling drained and very tired. Sorely tempted to sink back into the welcoming darkness of sleep, the Lt. Commander forced his remaining open eye to scan the room quickly to get a better grip of his bearings.
He was in a hospital room obviously. The clicks and beeps of the monitors maintained a steady rhythm and the midnight wind could be heard whistling through the treetops. Silvery light filtered in through the window to pool at the bottom of his bed, before he noticed a lumpy shadow cast against the tousled sheets near the bottom of his bed. Following the trail, he saw the outline of his partner with his head buried between his hands as he rested it on the bed. In the moonlight he could see the errant strands of blonde hair sticking up randomly as the man slept.
A long buried emotion welled up inside him when he realized that he wasn’t alone. Countless times through the years he had opened his eyes to the sight of an unfamiliar ceiling and an unfamiliar room, but the one constant that had remained was the lone empty chair sitting by the bedside. Despite the pain it caused, McGarrett pushed himself up the bed all the better to take in the sight of his partner. His heart seized in his chest and if possible, he felt it constrict even tighter as he observed this man, who for no other reason that a common bond of partnership was here with him. There was no contract saying he had to stay by his bedside like this; Danny was doing this because he was truly worried about Steve, and that meant so much to him, more than he could ever possibly put into words. The beeping of the monitor got quicker, not to mention louder and the ex-Jersey cop was soon shifting in his sleep.
Steve watched as Danny slowly raised his head before leaning up to stretch his arms over his head, wincing as a bone cracked. His partner then turned his eyes to look at him, and it was a long moment before his eyes widened when realization dawned through his sleep heavy mind that Steve was awake, and staring at him.
“Do you make a habit of watching people sleep like that? It’s pretty creepy to be honest, McGarrett.” It was meant to be scornful, but the note of relief was evident in Danny’s voice as he broke out into a smile before standing up from his chair to step a little closer to Steve. He looked down at the injured man with a soft fond expression. “How are you doing?”
Steve found himself raising his eyes to meet Danny’s. The warm weight on his shoulder was comforting; a physical reminder that he was not alone here right now. It was an anchor he could count on during this crisis and he was immensely grateful for that. He tried to speak but found his jaw clamped tightly shut by a brace as the oxygen mask muffled his words. The Lt. Commander wanted to covey that he was going to be okay, that these were nothing but a few grazes and bruises would heal eventually. He had been through tougher things in his life; this was nothing compared to the time he spent in Afghanistan with the SEALs.
Somehow, Danny understood as he smiled down as the man lying on the bed. “You and I are going to have a talk tomorrow when you wake up again because you my friend, have this knack for getting into trouble.” A bit of Steve melted when he saw the smile get bigger, as the crow’s feet around Danny’s eyes winked into existence. “It’s been two days but you seem to be finally well on the road to insufferable recovery.” The hand slipped away as Danny went to settle back down onto the chair, tilting it to face his partner before he raised his hands. “I have no doubt you will be up to your old tricks again in no time. I better enjoy the peace and quiet while it lasts. Things are definitely going to get a lot more hairy tomorrow.”
Warmth, relief…. a myriad of unfamiliar emotions swelled up inside the injured man before they overwhelmed him. He tilted his head to the side, away from Danny. He was thankful that it was dark because otherwise his partner would have been able to see the tears of joy welling up, before they slid down his face, getting lost in the bandages. He had a feeling that Danny somehow knew anyway, because the detective seemed to be unusually perceptive when it came to noticing small nuances in his behavior.
Even if he knew, Danny choose not to say anything. “Come on princess,” he continued with the ghost of his usual mocking tone. “You need your beauty sleep. Can’t have you losing your looks, right? Chop chop!” Leaning back into the chair the blond haired detective smiled.
McGarrett was going to be okay.