It had been years since Steve’s father brought him to the caves; even longer ago than their last trip to the petroglyphs. He had actually intended to take Danny up to them once they had seen the petroglyphs, but of course that hadn’t turned out like he had planned. It was two years before Steve tried again.
The day had started out perfectly. The sky was blue and clear. It was hot, but that was no surprise. The hike was uneventful. They both should have known something was going to happen.
Steve coughed, eliciting a moan from the pain it caused. His eyes flew open when he realized he couldn’t move. He was lying on his stomach, his arms to either side of his head. His head was turned to the right and all he could see was the cave wall.
He used his hands to try to push himself up, but nearly passed out from the pain it caused in his back. He breathed through it till he could manage it better, and then decided to just try and move his head.
He lifted and turned his head till it was straight. Luckily, there was little pain. He could see the mouth of the cave, but it’s what he didn’t see that had him worried. Danny was nowhere to be seen.
He yelled Danny’s name, or at least he tried to. The sound caught and his throat and he started coughing again. The pain was intense and his vision started to grey out. He didn’t notice the movement to his right.
“Shit! Steve, lie still. Don’t move.”
Danny knelt down next to Steve’s head and leaned down to where Steve could see him without having to move.
“I’m right here. I’m not going anywhere.”
“I can’t… move. How… bad is it?”
Danny looked at the wall of rocks that was covering the lower half of Steve’s body. It stopped about halfway up his back.
“You’re trapped under a wall of rock. I… damnit, Steve! What there hell were you thinking? If you hadn’t stopped to push me out of the way…”
Steve tried to answer, but started coughing again.
Danny placed his hand on Steve’s back and whispered words of comfort to try and help Steve get his breathing back under control. He then pulled a bottle of water out of his bag and helped Steve to take a few sips.
“Thanks…” Steve’s eyes began to close.
“Oh no you don’t, babe. You need to stay awake, you hear me?”
“It’s going to be about twenty minutes before help arrives, so I’m going to try and move some of these rocks.”
Steve didn’t answer. He was fighting to stay awake. He was so tired.
It wasn’t long before his breathing began to ease. Danny had managed to remove some of the rocks from the middle of his back, and he was finally able to take a deep breath.
The feeling didn’t last. Danny went to move a large rock from Steve’s lower back, and as soon as the weight shifted more rocks started to fall. The whole wall seemed to shift, and Danny was forced to leave the rock where it was. It was too late though.
Danny moved and leaned over Steve’s head and shoulders to try and shield him from the rock slide. The weight increase on Steve’s lower back, sent ripples of pain down his legs and up and his back. He couldn’t hold back the scream as he was thrown into blackness.
Danny was kneeling down next to Steve when the rescue team arrived. Steve still hadn’t regained consciousness. Chin and Kono were with them and rushed over to their teammates.
“Thank god you’re here. I tried to move some and more fell, and I can’t get him to wake up.”
“Calm down, Danny. Let these guys take care of him. You’ve done everything you can.”
“If I hadn’t have tried to move the rocks, he’d be okay.”
They both led Danny outside and sat him down near the mouth of the cave.
“You had to try. He would have done the same thing for you.”
“He already did. He pushed me out of the way when the cave-in happened.”
The three of them sat there for what seemed like hours, waiting. They wanted to help, but the experienced rescuers wouldn’t allow them back in the cave. Danny tried to protest, but he knew they were right, and his words died on his tongue.
It took them nearly an hour and a half to free Steve from the rubble.
The first thing Steve became aware of was that he was no longer lying on his stomach, but on his right side. The next was the fact that he felt no pain. He was fairly numb all over, and he had this strange pins and needles feeling in his lower back and down his legs.
He tried to move, take stock of his injuries, but decided against it as soon as he felt pain in his lower back. The pins and needles started to feel like knives.
His eyes flew open at the sudden pain, and he groaned loudly.
The sound of his name helped to rein in the panic that was starting to build.
“Hey, babe, you need to take slow, deep breaths, and calm down.”
He did as he was told, and slowly got his breathing, and the pain, back to manageable levels.
Danny leaned over and pressed the call button on the bed.
“The doctor will be here in a minute. Just try and relax.”
He placed his hand on Steve’s shoulder and squeezed.
The doctor walked in a few minutes later.
“Good to see you awake. I’m Doctor Casson. How are you feeling?”
“Back and legs hurt.”
“Yeah, they probably will for a while. You’ve got some moderate to severe bruising from the heavy rocks that landed on your back, and that caused some swelling and nerve irritation along your spine. We didn’t find any spinal damage, so once the swelling goes down you shouldn’t have any lasting effects. We’ve got you on steroids for the swelling, and pain meds.”
“You were brought in about eight hours ago.”
“When can I go home?”
There was a soft chuckle from Danny.
“Is there something funny?”
“I was just wondering how long it would take for him to ask that question. Usually it’s the first one out of his mouth. He really must be in pain.”
Steve glared at Danny, but in the state he was in it lost all meaning.
The doctor smiled. “Well, I’d like to wait till the swelling is under control, and to make sure there aren’t any complications. If all goes well, possibly tomorrow evening.”
“Then, I’ll leave you two alone. I’ll be back in a few hours to check on you.”
Once the doctor was out of the room, Danny sat back down in the chair and sighed.
“You really scared me. The first cave-in wasn’t that bad, but the second one almost completely covered you. You could have died in there.”
“But I didn’t. I’m going to be okay.”
Danny smirked. “You know what this means?”
Steve gave him a confused look. “What?”
“I am never, ever going hiking with you again.”
“Oh come on. It’s not like…”
“Don’t even finish that sentence, McGarrett.”