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Protective Detail – Chapter 01 – Teaser


Gunfire. Explosions. Everywhere. So loud. It’s closing in. It’s really near now. The smell of gunpowder is heavy in the air. The heat causes the air to shimmer around him and he tries to make himself as small as he can. But he just knows that it’s doing him no good. BANG! That was so close. He’s shaking now, knowing that there will be no escaping. No escaping from the gunfire all around him.

Don’t move. Don’t move! Don’t give away your location. The urge to move, to run is so overwhelming, but he’s frozen in place. Eyes wild, almost unseeing. His mouth is opened in a silent scream.

He’s trained to endure this, but it’s too much. Too loud. Too terrifying. He can’t. He just can’t. Please no more. STOP IT. Please, please, stop it.

But is doesn’t stop. More explosions are going off all around him, more gunfire. Closer even than before. Hot sand is raining down on him, thrown up into the hot desert air by one of the grenades.

Breathe. Just breathe. Just breathe through the hot sand. The sand, that goes everywhere. The eyes, nose, ears and lungs. Don’t cough, don’t give away your location. Too late. They’ve seen him. They’re on him in a second. Arms everywhere. Pulling. In every direction. Pushing him down. Down in the hot sand. No air. God. No air. Need air. Please. So hot. Pulled up. Moving.

His legs give out. Still moving. How? Dragged along. His legs hurt so bad. Cowering in hiding for hours. Can’t. Can’t go on. Please let go. Pushed down again. Down into the sand. Bloody sand. Whose blood? Bleeding. So much blood.

Turned over. Sun above. Baking him. But it’s so cold. Dying in the hot sun. Freezing.

Shadows above him. Blurry. Hands on him. Gentle. Lifting. Carrying him. Caressing. The sun is graying. The world turns black.

 

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

 

Noises. Low in the distance. Sounds of cars passing by. The crashing of the waves. Soft light filters in. Hardwood floor. Kitchen. Damn, it happened again… a flashback.

The man on the floor takes stock of his body. The headache from earlier is back full force. His morning swim had helped with the pain, as it usually does. But now it's worse than before. His legs are not willing to move yet. So he turns onto his back and looks down at his stubborn legs. Every time after an episode they refuse to obey him. He is just glad he made it back into the house after he suffered through the flashback while out swimming. Thankfully it was a pretty mild one. And he only passed out after making it back.

He knows that he’ll need a few minutes to come back to himself again. And he knows that he needs to make another appointment with his psychiatrist. His legs are twitching, the first sign that they are coming back to life. He’s always worried, that they won’t, one of these days.

He gives himself another minute, just looking out to the ocean. Listening to the waves, calming himself. He uses one of the kitchen chairs to pull himself up from the floor. First he needs some water and next his phone. He finds it on the counter and dials the familiar number.

“Office Dr. Jo-Beth Jordan. How may I help you?”

 

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

TBC

 

Chapter Text

Protective Detail - Chapter 02

Five-0 Headquarters, Monday, 0930 h


Steve is sitting in his office, Monday morning, not even ten a.m. and already he’s tired. He didn’t sleep well last night. Hah, make that didn’t sleep at all. Not that he has slept well during the last week. None of Five-0 had gotten a lot of sleep in the last seven days, or had seen a lot of their respective loved ones. Not after the case they just put to bed on Friday night. Oh, to bed, that’s a good thought. Steve’s sigh can be heard across the bullpen, he’s sure of it.

He attributes the fight to his tiredness. If he had been more alert, he would never have said those things to Cath. None of your business. “God I’m an idiot,” Steve mumbles as he goes out of his office to get some coffee.

“What was that?” Danny practically runs into his friend. He looks at him with a critical eye. “How was your weekend?”

“Fine.” Steve’s not going to talk about the fight he had with Cath on Sunday morning. Or that she spent the night with a friend of hers and not at home.

“Spill it.” Danny can read Steve like an open book. It’s not really a hard task, everyone can read him like an open book. Contrary to what Steve likes to believe, he does have many faces. And the one he’s sporting right now, screams ‘miserable’ out loud.

“Nothing to spill, Danno. Don’t you have paperwork? Or something?”

“No, actually I’m waiting for the printout. I’m already done, because I was working while in my office. Not like other people I know, who were just sitting there, gazing into space.” Danny won’t give up that easy.

“Funny. You’re a real comedian, Danny.” Steve just walks around Danny and fills his coffee mug with freshly brewed coffee.

“Hi Steve, how’z it brah?” Chin asks, obviously also drawn to the rest area by the smell of Kono’s latest creation. This seems to be her new hobby finding a new brand of coffee every week. The pool of when she will run out of brands is already going.

“Careful Chin, our fearless leader is in one of his moods.” Danny sends a warning Chin’s way. Completely ignoring Steve’s dark glare.

“Danny’s imagining things. I’m fine Chin, thanks. How’s Malia?” He smiles tiredly at his friend and hopes they had a better weekend than Steve and Cath had.

“Good. We'd like to invite you and Cath to dinner on Friday.”

“Okay, I’ll ask her.” Steve’s not looking at Danny and marches out of the small kitchen.

“Steven, wait. We’re not done.” Danny follows his friend and almost runs into him for the second time today.

“Yes, Danny, we are. I’m only going to say this once, so listen. Leave. Me. Alone.” Steve glares at Danny, not even sure why he’s so mad at his friend. He takes a deep breath, clearing his head, that has been pounding for a few hours now. He looks at Danny, who’s kind of speechless. “I’m sorry, Danny. Look, I really don’t want to talk right now. Maybe we can have lunch together?”

“It’s a date. Take something for your headache, and stop glaring, you’re scaring the kids.” Danny smiles at his friend and leaves him to go pick up the printouts.

Steve looks after his partner, shakes his head and smiles. But only for a minute, only until he remembers Catherine and what he had told her. He has called her numerous times to apologize, but she hasn't taken any of his calls. It was their first real fight in all the years they have known each other. They've had arguments before, disagreements. But never a fight like this. It was not even loud, neither had raised their voice. And it was really short. But Steve knows that it was a really serious fight. That he had hurt her. Deeply. With a sigh he enters his office, sits down and tries to get at least some work done.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Tripler Army Medical Center, 11.00 h

"Ma’am, a Lt. Catherine Rollins is here to see you. I’ve told her that she’ll need an appointment… Yes, ma’am.” Petty Officer Coates puts the phone down and looks at the lieutenant in front of her desk. “Ma’am, Captain Jordan will be with you in a few minutes. Would you like a coffee or tea?”

“No, thank you, Petty Officer.” Catherine is glad she can see JoJo on such short notice. She hopes to find out what is going on with her stubborn boyfriend. She only has to wait a few minutes until Dr. Jordan calls her into her office.

She comes to attention in front of JoJo’s desk, but gets dismissed right away. “Catherine, it’s good to see you. Please have a seat. What can I do for you?”

“Thank you for seeing me, JoJo.” Catherine looks at her older friend and is not sure how to begin.

“What’s on your mind, Catherine? Everything okay?”

“No. We had a huge fight yesterday, and I left.”

“What do you mean you left? You left Steve?” That is shocking news, she can’t believe that her two friends have split up.

“No. No, of course not. I spent the night at a friend’s house. JoJo, what is going on with Steve? Why is he on medication? Why do I have to learn that by accident?” Cath is still mad at her friend for keeping that from her and from actually telling her that it’s none of her business. He had never hurt her like that before.

“Did you ask him that?”

“No. When I found the bottle of pills he said it’s none of my business. I just snapped. I can’t even remember what I said to him. I remember that he stood there in the kitchen, looking totally lost. I turned and just left. He called me at least a dozen times, but I haven't answered. I know, not very mature. But I’m still so mad.”

“And hurt?”

“Yeah. JoJo, why is he taking psychotropic drugs? Those meds you prescribed are for treatment of PTSD.”

“Catherine, we cannot discuss Steve's treatment, you know that."

“What?”

"You know that I can’t talk about what led me to prescribe anything for Steve. Everything that Steve tells me is confidential. I can’t tell you, Catherine. I am surprised though that he’s not talking to you about it. I had no idea.”

"JoJo, please. I'm his next of kin and legally you're allowed to tell me. Has he told you not to talk to me?" That thought brings some new anger to the surface.

"Cath, calm down. No, he hasn't told me not to discuss this with you." Jojo looks at her distressed friend and decides to tell her at least something to put her mind at ease. “Steve is not taking any drugs. But he doesn’t know that and you cannot tell him.”

“You prescribed a placebo? Does that mean he doesn’t need medication?”

“Steve needed help to cope with certain things. For some reason, he was unable to access the coping mechanisms he learned over the years. He has had a hard time dealing with the events of the last few months. The medication helps him do that. It doesn’t matter what’s in the pills. Prescription drugs or just vitamins, it’s not important as long as Steve can concentrate on his problems. And he’s doing a great job with that. The mind is a powerful thing, Catherine.”

“So, he’s okay?”

“Steve will always walk the line. He's had some very traumatic events in his life, from a young age on. He suffered a lot during his military career. He saw and did things, we can’t even imagine. And now, he has a very high stress level job as head of Five-0. The possibility of ASD or even PTSD has always been there, as it is for everyone in such a job. Every law-enforcement officer, or firefighter, soldier and many other high-stress professionals will tell you that. No one is safe from that for sure. Steve will always be at risk, adding to that is the fact that he suffered ASD before. But Catherine, he knows the signs, and he’s taking good care of himself. Don’t worry about him. To answer your question, yes, he is doing okay.”

“Thank you JoJo.”

“You know, you should talk to him. Tell him that he hurt you. I’m sure he knows that already, but he should hear it from you. Tell him why what he said hurt you so much.”

“Oh, don’t worry, I won’t let him off the hook too easy. I’ll let him work for it a bit.”

“Catherine, I’m pretty sure you know it, but that man loves you. More than anything or anyone else. But despite that, he’s just a man. They say stupid things at times, things they don’t mean. And we women? We sometimes hear things they never said. Sometimes, I wonder if men and women are even meant to be together.” Dr. Jordan smiles at her friend.

“Well, without men, life would be a lot easier. But I would MISS them.”

JoJo can’t but laugh at that. “Yeah, me too. This Saturday, we would love to have you over for dinner. Can you ask Steve? I assume you’re going to be on the same page by then?” JoJo could ask him herself later, but it couldn’t hurt to ask the woman in the relationship first.

“Thanks, I’d love to come. I’ll ask Steve, but I’m sure he’ll like that as well. I’ll call you?”

“Good, good. And Cath? You can come by any time. I’m sure I will always find a few minutes for a friend.”

“Thank you, JoJo.” Catherine gets up from the comfortable chair and wonders not for the first time how one of her boyfriend’s sessions with his therapist goes.

“I’ll see you out.” JoJo comes around her desk and leads Catherine out and after a friendly good bye greets her next patient.

“Lieutenant Donaldson, sorry for the delay, please come in.” She walks after the middle aged red head back into her office.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Angel ‘Z’ diner, Monday 13.00 h

The two Five-0’s make their way into the diner. They often visit for an impromptu lunch or even breakfast. It’s frequented by a lot of uniformed officers and one or two detectives. Even some overdressed business people are often seen. The food is excellent and the prices are fair. And it’s close to headquarters, one of the more important points.

Danny and Steve find a quiet booth, settle down and not a minute later place their order.

“So, I take it you and Cath had a huge fight?” Danny long figured that out.

“Yeah. She left.”

“What?!” That draws some curious looks their way.

“Keep it down, will you? She didn’t leave… leave. She left for the night. At least I hope so,” he adds softly. “I called her at least twenty times, but she wouldn’t take any of my calls.”

“Why were you fighting? What happened?”

„She found my pills,“ Steve quietly tells Danny.

“What pills?” He keeps his voice equally low.

Steve looks at his friend, not sure how to tell him. He knows that Danny still has some trouble with the concept of therapy. No matter how many jokes he makes about it. Steve knows that he should have told him weeks ago, but he just didn’t know how. He was afraid that it might change Danny’s view of him. Well maybe not his view, but his behavior towards him. Before he can answer, the waitress brings them their ordered coffee, neither of them being hungry.

“I’ve been seeing JoJo again twice a week since… Korea. At first, everything was kind of okay. The painkillers made me sleep a lot. But after I was back on my feet… I… I couldn’t sleep at night. I had nightmares. And the second week after being back… I had a flashback. I was out swimming, barely made it back. Kind of passed out in the kitchen.” Steve’s embarrassed to tell Danny. He knows that there is nothing he needs to feel embarrassed about, but he can’t help it.

“Is that why you stayed home for another week, after the doctor told you that you could come back to duty?”

“Yeah. I went to see JoJo that day and she put me on medication. That stuff needs a little time to take effect. So I couldn’t go to work, it would not have been safe. The meds help me concentrate on using certain techniques to cope with what happened. To work through it.”

“You’re on medication for PTSD right now?” Danny asks softly. He knows what it means for Steve to talk about it with him.

“No. For ASD. But the line between the two is really thin. Danny, I’m not on heavy drugs. I’m cleared for duty. I would never endanger any of you.”

“Hey! I didn’t think so. I know that you would not work if you weren’t fit. So, are you sleeping better?”

“Yeah, I am. Talking to JoJo helps a lot, and JoJo has reduced my dosage to one pill from the three I took at first. I feel a lot better. I’m able to think about what happened in Korea and with Joe, without having nightmares. And I haven’t had another flashback. Next week she wants me to stop taking the medication.”

“You okay with that?”

“Yeah.”

“Steve, I don’t understand what this has to do with you and Cath fighting?”

“I didn’t tell her.”

“You didn’t tell her what?”

“I didn’t tell her that I’m on medication. That I see JoJo twice a week. She doesn’t know about the flashback. I didn’t tell her Danny.”

“That was pretty dumb.”

“Yeah. When she found the pills, she asked about it and I lost it. I didn’t want to talk about it. Danny, we had such a great day before. On Saturday I felt so good. For the first time in weeks, I felt normal. When she asked me Sunday morning about the pills and what was going on… I just didn’t want to ruin that day, that feeling. I said something really stupid, I really hurt her. I told her ‘it’s none of your business’. Danny, I don’t know how to fix this. How could I have said that to her? She is always there for me, she's saved my life in so many ways. I’m such an idiot.” Steve puts his head in his hands.

“Yes, you are. But you’re my idiot.” Catherine puts her hand on Steve’s back and kisses him on the forehead when he turns to her.

“Cath! When did you get here?” Steve’s totally surprised to see her. He hadn't even noticed her approaching them.

“Couple of minutes ago. Steve, I’m sorry I ran like that.”

“NO. I’m sorry. Please don’t apologize. I am sorry Cath. I should have told you. I don’t know why I didn’t. I’m so sorry.” Steve has totally forgotten that Danny sits right there with them. He’s only focused on Catherine.

“I think this is my cue to leave. Steve, see you later in the office.” Danny doesn’t even wait for a reply. He looks at Cath who’s mouthing a ‘thank you’ his way. Danny makes his way out of the diner, all the time grinning about his brilliant plan, which worked like clockwork.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Steve watches his girlfriend sitting down across from him, on the place Danny just vacated. “Did Danny call you?”

“Yeah he did.”

“Well, I’m glad you took his call.” Steve knows that he’s an ass, but he had gotten worried when she hadn't taken any of his twenty or so calls yesterday.

“I guess I deserved that one. Steve, I’m sorry about the calls. I should have talked to you. Sorry.”

“Catherine, I’m really sorry about what I said. I didn’t mean it. I know it is very much your business and I want you in on it. I will tell you everything, and we will talk about what I said and why. Just not here and now.”

“Nobody’s listening in, Steve. We can talk here, it’s a nice and quiet place.” Cath doesn’t really want to postpone the necessary conversation.

“I know. Danny and I often eat here. It’s not that. And I don’t want to avoid the conversation either, if that’s what you’re thinking.” Steve hangs his head for a moment to loosen the tight neck muscles that are not helping with his still pounding headache. The pills he took earlier hadn't done a damn thing about it. “I have a meeting with JoJo in half an hour. Cath, I don’t want to miss that. But I promise we’ll talk tonight. You have the day off, right?”

“Yeah, I do. I’m going to hold you to that promise. We need to talk about this. I want to know why you kept this from me. Steve, you never did that before, in all the years we’ve known each other, you never kept anything like that from me. Why now?”

Steve looks at his friend, of course he knows the answer to that question, but he can’t tell her in two minutes. “Please give me the chance to tell you tonight?”

“Okay. But before you go to your meeting, I want you to know, I love you. And no matter that we fought yesterday and I even left our home, never doubt that. Okay?”

“How do you always know what to say to make me feel better?”

“I’m a woman.”

For the first time in over a day, Steve really smiles. Even his eyes are sparkling again. “That you are. And a very smart one at that.”

“Flattery won’t get you any extra points.”

“Was worth a try. Cath, I really should go. If nothing happens at Five-0, I should be home around six. Otherwise I’ll call you.” While getting up he’s massaging his temple again.

“Hey, Sailor, wait,” Cath also got up from their booth, steps closer to Steve and encircles his waist. A sweet kiss follows and she can feel him relax into her embrace. “How bad’s your headache?”

“Pounding since last night.”

“Did you sleep at all?”

“A little.”

Cath hugs him a little tighter, “I’m sorry I wasn’t there. You be careful today,” she whispers, before she lets him go.

“I will.” Steve bends down for one last kiss and leaves for his meeting with his therapist. Knowing that the real session will be tonight with his girlfriend, who without a doubt will drill him for every little detail. Surprisingly to him, he’s okay with that.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Health Center, Dillingham Blvd., 15.00 h

So much blood. The smell of copper is almost overwhelming. Steve looks around him and sees that he’s not the only one who’s breathing through his mouth. He closes his eyes for a second to take it all in. The noise the crime technicians are making with their equipment; Kono, who’s also taking photos; Danny, who’s talking in the outer office with one of the secretaries; Max, who’s kneeling next to one of the victims; Chin, talking to one of the CSU guys.

Steve arrived at the crime scene a little later than his teammates. He was in a session with JoJo and came straight here after Danny called him.

“Hey babe, you okay?” Danny startles him a little when he lays his hand on Steve’s forearm and softly talks to him. Getting him out of his thoughts.

“Yeah, I’m good. So, what do we have?” Steve looks at his friend, smiling reassuringly at him.

“The first victim: Nadine Webster; Doctor Nadine Webster; 56; single; retired from the Navy six months ago; was last stationed on the east coast; Capt. Webster was department head of psychiatry at Bethesda. Came to Hawaii after that, worked here at her daughter’s private practice three days a week. She had a contract with HPD and was specialized in PTSD.” Danny looks up from his notes.

“Webster?” Steve goes around the desk and takes a closer look at the victim. It’s a gruesome sight. Former Cpt. Webster is lying in a pool of blood that is slowly being soaked up by the thick carpet. Her throat has been slit with a bone deep cut. That was done with brutal force and the multiple stab wounds all over her upper body indicate a blind rage. Blood spatter can be seen all around her. The blood gives the scene a bizarre look, almost like some piece of modern art. Gruesome modern art.

Steve steps back and looks at Danny, “and the second victim?”

“Officer Kala Kalakeni.” Danny’s glad he doesn’t struggle with the Hawaiian names so much anymore. “She’s 28 and eight-months pregnant. She has been on sick leave for a week now. She was rushed to Queens Medical, she suffered one stab wound to the abdomen. They’re not hopeful but think that they might be able to save her baby. Her husband has been informed and is at the hospital.”

“Was the assistant able to give you anything?”

“No. She had been out of the office for a few minutes on her regular coffee run. When she came back, the door was open… she called 911 right away and kept Officer Kalakeni alive until the EMS were on the scene. HPD is canvassing the neighborhood. There’re no surveillance cameras in the building. Chin is looking at possible cameras outside.”

Steve looks up and sees that Chin must have left in the last few minutes without him noticing. “Danny, has the daughter been notified?”

“Not yet. She’s out of town attending a conference in Seattle. We haven’t reached her yet.”

“Okay.” Steve’s absent-mindedly rubbing his temple, where the headache is still pounding away. “Let’s see what Max can tell us and then we need to take a look at her patients.”

“You think this was a patient of hers?”

“I don’t know Danny, but that’s the best place to start. Right?”

“Steve, you knew her?”

“What? No, but her name sounds familiar. I was in Bethesda once, maybe I saw her there. But I don’t remember her face, just the name.”

“When was that?”

“About ten years ago. Danny, we need to talk to NCIS, they might want to get in on the investigation.”

“This is our jurisdiction, Steve. An HPD officer was attacked.”

“Yes, Danny, but a Captain of the US Navy was killed. Technically it’s their case. Murder over attempted murder. But I’m sure we’ll figure something out.” Steve has no intention of letting this investigation go. He’s sure that the guys from NCIS know their job, and won’t rest until the murder is solved. But this is kind of personal to him too. One of his fellow officers was killed, and if the young woman dies, it will be even more personal.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

TBC

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Protective Detail – Chapter 3

Queens Medical Center – Premature baby unit

"Mr. Kalakeni?" Steve greets the tall man standing in front of the big glass wall that separates the hallway from the premature baby unit. "I'm Steve McGarrett and this is Detective Danny Williams. I'm very sorry about what happened to your wife. Can we have a word with you?"

"Yeah," Koma Kalakeni turns away from the window to face the Five-0's. "That is my son in there. The doctor said he will be fine. How will he ever be fine if his mother dies such a violent death? Tell me how?"

"Is there any word on your wife?" Danny asks the distraught father.

"They don't know anything yet. She's still in surgery. But… they said… I don't know, I'm sorry."

"No, Mr. Kalakeni, it's okay. We understand. Can you answer some questions?" Steve leads the three of them a little farther away from the window, away from the other fathers watching their newborn babies.

"Yeah. If I can help…"

"Your wife has been seeing Dr. Webster for the last three months?"

"Yes, Commander. Six months ago she was involved in a shooting with some fifteen-year olds. She shot one of them. After a couple of months, the nightmares started. She couldn't sleep anymore, she was anxious and… she was diagnosed with PTSD and saw Dr. Webster twice a week."

"Was she any different lately?"

"Different? What do you mean, Detective?"

"Did she talk about her therapy? Tell you what they talked about?"

"NO. Of course not. What she told her therapist, is just between those two. I never asked her about it. Sometimes she told me a little bit, but I never pressured her. That hasn't changed lately. She was like she always has been."

"Can you think of anyone who might want to hurt your wife?"

"No, Commander. Who would want to hurt her? She's the sweetest person you could ever meet. You think… oh my god… you think that she was the target?"

"We can't rule anything out yet. We're still trying to get a clear picture of what happened. Mr. Kalakeni, if you think of anything else, please give us a call." Steve hands him one of their cards.

"Sure. Commander?"

"Yes?"

"Please find the bastard who did this." Koma Kalakeni looks pleadingly at the two Five-0 team mates.

"We will do everything we can to bring them to justice. I can promise you that." Steve knows that he speaks for his whole team.

"Thank you."

They leave the new father behind to meet with their teammates at HQ.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

"Danny, I need a few minutes to see Mark. If you want, you can get a coffee down in the cafeteria. Bring me one, will you?" Steve tells his friend as he presses the button for the floor he hopes to find Mark Hope on, his neurologist.

"Why do you need to see Mark? You still have a headache?" Danny looks at his partner.

"Yeah, I just can't shake it." Steve rubs his temple where the pain has been throbbing away for a couple of days now. After Korea and the numerous hits to the head he's received he has mild headaches most days. They only lasted for a couple of hours and were not that bad. But this one has not lessened in over 48 hours and it's slowly driving him mad.

"Did you take something like I told you this morning?"

"Yeah, I did. It's not helping. Before it starts to affect my work, I need to do something about it. Danny, it won't take long. I'll meet you downstairs?" Steve holds the elevator open by leaning against the door, waiting for Danny to agree or come with him. He will put his money on his friend not leaving.

"If you don't mind I'd like to come."

Steve smiles and motions for Danny to proceed him. They make their way over to Mark's office and are told that Dr. Hope will be back in a few minutes and they are welcome to wait.

"Steve, you think Officer Kalakeni was the target?"

"No, but we should look into the shooting anyway. Maybe a relative of the victim has something to do with it. But I highly doubt that." Steve leans his head back and closes his eyes for a moment. They are sitting on the couch that is standing in the outer office to wait for Mark.

"Okay, when we get back we can take a look at the case file. It was half a year ago, a long time for a relative to come after her. That would normally happen right after, while they were still enraged." Danny doubts that the shooting has anything to do with this murder, but they have to check anyway. He studies his partner for a minute, seeing the pain lines between his eyes, wondering what else beside the headache is bothering him.

"Don't stare, Danny. It's not polite."

"I'm not 'staring'. I'm looking at my friend, wondering how he's really doing." Danny defends his staring.

"Right." Steve opens his eyes and grins at Danny. "I'm fine, stop worrying."

Danny doesn't even bother to answer that, only shakes his head.

"Steve! This is a surprise. Danny, hello." Mark Hope just entered the outer office and greets them. "Come on in. What can I do for you?" He motions for them to sit in front of his desk, as he puts some files away he brought with him.

"I was wondering if you could squeeze me in, and take a look at me? I have had a headache for two days and just can't get rid of it." Steve long gave up being bothered that Danny is practically glued to his side.

"How bad?" Mark motions for Steve to get up and follow him to the treatment room that is adjoining his office.

"A solid eight." Steve says as he settles on the exam bed in the middle of the room. Danny followed them and stands a little forlorn next to the door. Steve and Danny have been here a few times before, when Steve got his follow up tests after his serious head injury almost a year ago. It's a fully equipped treatment room. Steve sits on the exam bed and waits for Mark to get his damn penlight out.

"Any dizziness or nausea?" Marks asks as he pulls a file up on the big screen hanging from the ceiling. Some colorful scans pop up, which look like some bizarre art objects but both Steve and Danny know that it's one of those fancy new MRI images.

"Lost my breakfast this morning, haven't eaten since. No dizziness, but I feel a little sick."

"Any added stress in the last few days, have you been sleeping enough?"

"Last week was pretty rough, none of us got a lot of sleep. Didn't sleep much last night. Ehm..."

"Ehm… what?" Mark looks at his obviously embarrassed friend.

"I was pretty stressed out because of a fight with Cath… that's why I didn't sleep… but it's all good, we made up… sort of." Steve is kind of stuttering, not really sure he wants to talk about this with Mark in front of Danny.

"Danny, would you excuse us for a few minutes? I promise it won't take long." Mark turns to Danny and motions for him to wait in the outer office. Which he does, reluctantly, but without protest.

"Why did you send him out?" Steve asks his doctor and friend.

"I don't know how much he knows about you seeing JoJo and about your treatment. You do see Dr. Jordan, right?"

"Yeah, I do, twice a week. What does that have to do with my headache?" Steve groans when Mark shines the light in his eyes.

"Sorry. Maybe nothing. Is it okay with you, if I call her and ask her some questions?"

"What questions?" Steve is getting a little nervous about Mark talking to his therapist.

"Only about any medication and if she thinks your headache might be related to your treatment. You will hear everything I'll say to her."

"Okay."

Two minutes later he has Dr. Jordan on the line. But it's clear pretty quickly that her treatment is not causing Steve's headache. They say their goodbye after just two minutes.

"Steve, I'm sure your headache is simply caused by exhaustion and lack of sleep. We did an MRI last week and everything looked fine. We could do another one, but frankly I don't see the need for one. You received quite a lot of hits to your head, that lead to yet another concussion a few weeks ago. You have to try and sleep more. You really need the rest. Can you take the rest of the day off and go home?"

"No. We just got a new case. I can't simply go home and sleep it off, Mark. I'll go home in a few hours. But right now, I need to work. Can't you give me something that will at least take the edge off?"

"Of course I'll give you something. But I mean it Steve, you need to sleep. I'll give you something for tonight too. Please take the pill." Mark Hope fills a syringe with a yellowish liquid, he took from the drug cabinet and injects it into Steve's upper arm. "This should help with the pain in a few minutes. Don't worry, it won't make you drowsy. I'm going to prescribe something for later, take one pill tonight and one in the morning. And take the sleeping pill tonight. It's also on the prescription. If you're not feeling significantly better by tomorrow, come back here."

"Thanks Mark." Steve hops off the exam bed and shakes hands with his doctor.

After leaving Mark's office Steve finds his friend in an animated conversation with the young secretary.

"Danny, you ready to leave?"

"Hey. Sure. Thank you for the coffee, Aileen." Danny smiles at the young woman.

"You're welcome, Detective Williams." It's clear that 'Detective Williams' would be welcome to do things other than drinking coffee with Aileen.

Steve waits for him leaning against the doorframe, grinning when Danny passes him.

"What?" Danny asks irritated.

"Nothing. I just thought you were off the market?"

"What are you talking about? I was just being nice and she offered some coffee."

"Yeah, Danny, she offered something, but it was not coffee." Steve has to laugh at the clueless look Danny shoots his way.

"So, was Mark any help? Are you feeling better?" Danny chooses to change the subject.

"Yeah, he gave me a shot." Steve rubs his arm, where the needle prick still stings a little. "We need to fill a prescription before we leave."

"Pharmacy is on level one, if I remember right." Danny presses the right button and looks at his friend who looks a lot more relaxed than just half an hour ago.

Filling the prescription and getting back to their car only takes a few minutes. Danny is a little surprised when Steve hands him the keys but is not going to question his luck to drive his own car for a change.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Five-0 Headquarters

"I'm here to see Commander McGarrett." A tall man in his fifties approaches Chin and Danny, who are standing at the smart table.

Danny looks up and takes in the features of the visitor. At least six feet, a little too heavy, but still looking fit. His hair is almost gray, with a bit of dirty blond shining through. His green eyes are a little cold but he looks friendly enough. The only wrinkles Danny can see are clearly from laughing.

"I'm sorry, he just stepped out. And you are?"

"Special Agent Niles Levin, NCIS."

"Agent Levin. I'm Detective Williams, this is Lt. Kelly."

"Detective, Lieutenant Kelly."

"Commander McGarrett will be back in a few minutes. Can we get you anything while you wait?" Danny asks him, hoping that Steve hadn't got sick again and would be back in a few minutes. When they had entered HQ he had headed straight to the restrooms.

"No, thank you. This is quite impressive. I wish we had something like it." Agent Levin seems very interested in the smart table and connected screens, which of course pleases Chin to no end.

Danny just shakes his head as the two of them engage in a conversation about the latest computer models. They seem to hit it off really well. He watches them for another minute until his partner comes back through the door. It seems like the temperature in the room drops a few degrees right away.

"Agent Levin." Steve's tone leaves no room for interpretation; he doesn't like the man.

"McGarrett." That doesn't bode well.

"I take it you know each other?" Danny asks a question the answer to which is more than obvious.

"Yeah, we know each other."

"That was in the past, McGarrett."

"Yeah, I'm sure you want to forget all about it." Steve practically spits out. Neither Chin nor Danny had ever seen him like that.

"It was not my fault. It was just bad luck."

"Bad luck? YOU were supposed to have our backs. YOU were supposed to be behind us and watch the entrance. But you LEFT your post. And because of you MY friend was killed and I was in the hospital for two months."

"It was a tactical decision to go up front."

"Without telling us! You confirmed the all clear, when you never even checked."

"I was sure you two could handle the situation alone."

"And you didn't even bother to tell us about the change of plans. We were both shot in the back and because of you my friend bled out right in front of me. You never acknowledged your mistake, you never even said you were sorry. You didn't even tell his wife in person that her husband was dead. You were our CO, we were your responsibility, but you didn't give a fuck about us. You are a miserable excuse for a Navy officer if I ever saw one."

Danny and Chin never ever heard Steve raise his voice or curse in such a way, and are quite shocked about what is happening right now. Both men stare at each other, ready to explode into action.

"I'm sorry." Levin softly says. "I'm still convinced that my decision was right. But I acted without informing you about it. I left you vulnerable in your position. And I'm deeply sorry that Dan died and you were so seriously injured. The board cleared me of all charges, McGarrett. But you're right I didn't act like an officer after it happened, that is why I switched to NCIS. I don't expect you to ever forgive me, or see the situation from my perspective. But I'm not that officer anymore. I am good at my job, and my job right now is finding the killer who murdered a Navy Officer. And I need your help with that."

"You will not work with any of my team out in the field. We will fully cooperate with you and your team, but there will be no joint operation in the field. Is that clear?" Steve is not just looking at Levin but to his two teammates.

"Yes, boss."

Danny only nods.

"I can live with that, Commander." Levin seems to be a little suicidal today. He stretches his hand out for McGarrett to take.

To everyone's surprise Steve does shake hands with him.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

"There are seven other homicides with the same MO. All victims are Navy psychiatrists, with the exception of one Army doctor. All over fifty years old. All female. All specialized in PTSD treatment. All murders happened in their offices, and every time the patient with them at the time was also killed. We didn't know we had a serial killer on our hands because the murders happened all over the map. It's pure luck that I talked to one of my colleagues the other day and he told me about his latest case." Special Agent Levin brought the pictures from the seven previous crime scenes and Chin put them on the screen.

They can all see that every scene is pretty much the same. The doctor brutally murdered from a slit throat with multiple stab wounds all over her body. The patient killed with one stab wound to the heart or upper abdomen.

"Did you cross reference the patients yet? Anyone who saw all or some of them?" Steve wants to know.

"We're not completely finished yet, but so far nothing. They all had a lot of patients. ASD and PTSD are very common, especially for members with combat experience. You don't want to know what some of the patients had to deal with during their military career. Two of the doctors were also working for the local law enforcement and were retired from the Navy."

"So, that means you have to go through a lot of files." Kono, who came into HQ just a few minutes ago, says.

"Thousands of names. The psychiatrists saw thousands of patients every year, not just as patients in therapy but also for psych evaluations. My guess is that the killer is one of those who had one mission too many. Now he can't separate the mission from his civilian life anymore. If you look at the killing itself, that was merciless, with precision and speed. He is highly trained. I'm sure he is special forces and has killed many times." Agent Levin speaks without any emotion; he himself was one of those special forces guys. "If you encounter him, I'm sure it's a 'him', be aware, he is better trained than you are. He will kill you with his bare hands in a second flat. He knows more ways to kill you than you can imagine and he has done so many times."

"I think they understand who we're up against." Steve interrupts Levin.

"I hope so. An out of control special forces operator is the most dangerous thing in the world."

"He is not a 'thing'." Steve again interrupts, and this time a little louder than before. "He is a human being. He will be brought to justice, but he will not be hunted down like an animal."

"You and I know exactly what he is capable of, Commander. We've done the same things he's done. You know 'what' he is. He is a perfectly trained killer. And if he loses his ethic grounds and his connection to society, that killer in him will come out."

"Gentlemen, we don't even know that he is highly trained as you call him." Chin tries to be the word of reason.

Steve touches a few points on the smart table and the crime scene photos of the victims pop up. "Yes we do. The victims had no chance to even utter a sound, they are not dead right away, but their windpipes are separated, they won't make any sound after that. Those cuts are textbook black op procedure." He is not looking at anybody as he explains. "Levin is right, we're looking for a highly trained person. And his level of brutality will rise. He won't be satisfied with just their deaths for much longer. We need to find out why he is killing those doctors."

"We will keep cross referencing the patients. Will you question the patients of the last victim?"

"Yeah, we'll start with that tomorrow. We already have some appointments. Kono will talk to a few HPD officers and Danny and I will talk to the Navy personnel and some civilians. Chin is going to get more background on Dr. Webster. Ask her neighbors, stuff like that. We should meet again tomorrow at 1500 h."

"I'll be here." Special Agent Levin says his quick goodbye and leaves the Five-0 HQ.

Steve looks after him and knows that three pairs of eyes are on him. This case is hitting a little too close to home. He chooses to ignore them for now.

"Kono, when you talk to the HPD officers tomorrow…"

"Yes, boss?"

"Don't ask them what they were talking about with Dr. Webster. Don't try to force them to talk about it. Don't threaten them. That could lead to a very bad reaction. And that knowledge is not important to our investigation anyway. None of them is our killer."

"Boss, do you want to do those interviews?" Kono asks a bit defensively.

"No. Kono, I didn't mean that you are not capable of interviewing them. It's just… a sensitive issue for every one of them. I'm just saying that you should know that they will feel vulnerable and embarrassed. And they just lost the one person they could talk to about it all, without being judged." Steve tries to make her understand.

"I understand."

"Good."

"Steve?"

"Yeah?"

"They shouldn't feel embarrassed. And we will never judge." They all know that she is not talking about the HPD officers.

"I know." Steve smiles his thanks at her.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Chapter Text

Protective Detail – Chapter 4

Five-0 HQ

"Hey, are you going to leave soon?" Danny looks at his friend, who seems to be in deep thought ever since Levin left half an hour ago.

"What?" Steve looks up from the report he has been trying to read for the past thirty minutes.

"I asked if you're going home now?" Danny comes completely into the office and takes the seat in front of Steve's desk.

"I'm not done here yet. You go on home, Danny. I'll be fine."

"You've been pretending to read that report for a while now, you wanna tell me what's on your mind?"

"Nothing's on my mind." Steve's not going to tell his friend what he has been thinking about the last few minutes.

"You okay?" Danny knows that Levin's visit has rattled Steve more than he wants to admit.

"I'm fine."

"As long as you believe that," Danny mumbles under his breath. "Listen, I don't know what happened between the two of you, hold your horses," Danny raises his hand to ward off Steve's attempt to interrupt, "and I won't press you into telling me. But you must admit your behavior was way off. Steven, you almost ripped his head off. And right in front of us. You, my friend were way out of character."

"I know, and I'm sorry." Steve softly admits.

"You don't have to be sorry; we were just a bit shocked. We've never seen you lose your cool, you know?"

"My cool, Danny?" Steve has to smile a little at that.

"Yeah. Out there, this afternoon? That was not the Steve McGarrett I know. He wouldn't act like that in front of his subordinates. He would never give a dressing down for others to hear. So, what gives?" Danny doesn't want Steve to feel he has to explain himself right now, but wants him to know that he's here to listen if Steve wanted to talk to him.

"I don't want to talk about the details, it's just… that man caused so much pain… he… he got my friend killed… and he almost got me killed. He blew up the whole operation. And he never stood up and admitted any of his mistakes. He still thinks he was in the right to leave us hanging out to dry."

"There were charges brought against him?"

"Yes, he was in front of a board of inquiry. They declared it 'an unfortunate chain of events'." Steve says the words with disdain.

"Did he give a statement?"

"I only read the report later since I was not present at the inquiry. I was in the hospital in critical condition at the time. He was cleared of all wrong doing." Steve shakes his head at what he thinks is a blatant injustice.

"Were you accused of anything?"

"No. There were never any charges against Dan or myself. Right after the inquiry Levin was offered a job with NCIS. He gave up his commission and the Navy let him go." It was more than obvious that no one was sorry to see him leave the service.

"So, he has a clean sheet?" Danny will not judge before he heard both sides of the story. He trusts his friend and believes him, but he knows that Steve was also seriously injured in the incident, almost died, and that might cloud his judgment.

"I know what you're thinking, Danny. I'm telling you, he killed my friend. It was his job to have our backs, but he left his post. He just left. He left, Danny. You don't leave your teammates. Ever. He was not even at his post but he still gave us the all clear." Even though Steve had no intention of telling Danny any details a few moments ago, they are coming out now almost effortlessly. "A few seconds later we were both shot in the back. Dan went down in front of me. He looked at me, knowing that he was dying. A huge pool of blood was forming under him. I tried to get to him, he was only inches away from me, Danny. But I couldn't move, I fucking couldn't move. I could only watch. He was dead minutes later and I was lying in his and my own blood. I still couldn't move, and it got harder to breathe. A few minutes after Dan died I couldn't breathe at all any more. I passed out and woke up three days later in a hospital."

"Where were you hit?" Danny softly asks.

"The bullet was lodged right next to my spinal cord between my shoulder blades. There was so much swelling and my condition was so bad due to the huge amount of blood I had lost, that they couldn't operate for three weeks. I was not able to move at all, or even breathe on my own during those three weeks. But they kept me under most of the time, so that wasn't so bad. They took the bullet out, but couldn't remove all the fragments, some are still in there."

"Weren't you wearing a tac vest?"

Steve rolls his eyes at his partner. Of course they had been fully geared up, "They used armor piercing bullets."

"Shit."

"Yeah, you can say that again." Steve sits in his office chair and looks at his friend, gauging his reaction to the story Danny just heard. "I know you think the trauma is clouding my judgment, and maybe you're right. I don't know. But the facts remain, he left his post without informing us and gave us the all clear without checking first. In my eyes, there is no excuse for that. He is directly responsible for Dan's death and for me spending two months in the hospital and two more in rehab."

"I'm really sorry."

"No, don't be. It was a long time ago. It was just a surprise to see him again. But I'll be fine. So, what are your plans for tonight? Hot date with Gabby?" Steve tries to shift the focus away from himself.

"As a matter of fact, yes. She wants to go to some vegetarian restaurant. Stop laughing."

Steve can just imagine, Danny sitting in a restaurant which serves healthy food. "D, give it a chance, maybe you'll like it."

"I highly doubt that." Danny grins back, remembering all the times he had teased his partner about his healthy eating habits. Now ending up with a health nut as a girlfriend feels kind of like some cosmic payback. "But I will like the company."

Their easy banter continues as they leave the office together. Kono and Chin left just before Danny went to see Steve in his office. A few minutes later Steve and Danny reach their respective cars, say their goodbyes and are on their way to meet with their partners. Danny to go on a date with Dr. Gabrielle Asano, and Steve to have 'the' talk with Catherine.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Steve McGarrett has been sitting in his truck in his own driveway for almost five minutes now. When he was talking to Cath in the early afternoon he was fine with the knowledge that they would have a talk tonight. But now, being at home, he was not so sure about it anymore. He still knows why he didn't tell her about seeing JoJo again, but he doesn't know if Cath will be cool with his reasoning.

He looks to the passenger seat where he threw the bottles with the prescription pain killers and sleeping pills. He could simply take a sleeping pill and he would be asleep in less than twenty minutes, which would be great for his head, which has been throbbing again ever since he left HQ. But it would be totally unfair to Cath; he promised her they would talk tonight. Don't be a wuss.

After another moment, he finally grabs his pill bottles with a deep sigh and gets out of the truck. He walks around back, pretty sure he will find his friend out on the lanai. And sure enough there she is, sitting in a deckchair, obviously waiting for him.

"I thought you were gonna stay in the truck forever. You okay?" Cath gets up when he comes closer.

"Sorry, was lost in thoughts." Steve leans into the kiss and deeply inhales her scent. "You went swimming."

"Yeah, I did. Are you hungry? I could warm something up for you."

"No, thanks." Steve takes off his gun and badge, laying them on the table and plops down in one of the deckchairs.

"You look tired. Tough day?" Cath offers him her Longboard she just opened, but he shakes his head no and she sits back down slightly across from him. "You like some water instead?"

"No, I'm fine. Cath, I'm sorry I'm late. We caught a new case and we had to get some stuff going for tomorrow." Steve tells her the short version of the case, since she will be involved in it anyway. As the liaison officer it is her job to be the link between the Navy, NCIS and Five-0.

"Officer Kalakeni, did she die?" Cath feels very sorry for the newborn baby and his father.

"No, but it doesn't look good. They put her into an artificial coma, they don't know yet if she's gonna make it. Her son will be fine though." Steve leans his head back thinking about that tiny baby the doctors saved.

Steve hears some rustling and suddenly feels a hand on his forehead. "How is your head?" Cath crouches next to him. "Tell me why you're having such a persistent headache."

"I saw Mark this afternoon, he gave me a shot and, it helped somewhat, but my head is throbbing again. He also prescribed a sleeping aid he wants me to take. He said I need to sleep." Steve laughs at that, but it's a bitter laugh; he would like nothing more than to get a full night's sleep. But that hasn't happened in weeks.

"You didn't sleep much last week and you were in a fight on Friday. Did you hit your head?"

"No… well, not much."

"What do you mean, not much? What happened?" Cath looks at her friend.

"It was during the take down, we traded some blows; I was hit a couple of times but nothing serious. This headache is still from the repeated blows I received in North Korea. I just need more sleep, Cath. Really, I'm good. My MRI last week was perfectly fine. Don't worry."

"Of course I worry. Steve, I'm sleeping right next to you. Don't you think I know that you only sleep when you're so exhausted that your body just gives in? That you have nightmares? That you spend hours at night out here? Saturday night you slept like a baby and I was so happy to see you so relaxed all day and when you went right to sleep that night I watched you for hours. Just watching you sleep peacefully for the first time in months." Cath looks at her friend and sees the pain in his eyes of hurting her by not talking to her. "Steve, I understand that you're not talking to me about every little detail. But you're shutting me out. You never did that before. Why are you doing this now? Why didn't you tell me that you see JoJo twice a week and that you're taking medication?"

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you. You have always been there for me, you helped me through all my crap, and you have no idea how thankful I am. But all those times were because of what happened during my time on active duty. What happened to me then was not personal. But this is. Wo Fat is very personal. He is a dangerous man, and he will stop at nothing to get what he wants. I thought by keeping this from you, I was kind of protecting you. I know how stupid that is. Believe me, I know. And I'm really sorry. Just for once I didn't want to be the one who needs so much support to keep my sanity. Just for once I wanted to simply not need help." Steve looks down, ashamed for not having told his friend before what was going on.

"Steve, look at me. You are the strongest person I've ever met. Always there for your friends, full of love, and always able to empathize with someone. Always giving everything you've got. Sometimes you need help, because you have seen and experienced things that are far beyond our imagination. That doesn't make you weak or less of a man. I love you, and by not telling me when you don't feel well, physically or mentally, you're hurting me. It hurts me to see you hurt. Please don't do that to me."

"I'm sorry," Steve whispers, barely looking at his friend with a shy smile.

"It's okay. You are forgiven." Cath smiles back at him letting him know that she has indeed forgiven him for keeping her out of the loop. "But promise me to try not to let that happen again."

"I promise." Steve feels like the weight of the world was just lifted off his shoulders and for the life of him, he can't figure out why he was so stupid, not telling her about his problems in the first place.

"That's all I'm asking. Come on, you need to eat a little bit and then we're going to bed." Cath stands up and pulls at his arm, trying to get him out of his chair.

"I'm not hungry and it's not even eight. I'm not tired either." Steve resists the pull his girlfriend has on him.

"Who said anything about sleeping? I know a great massage that will help with your headache, and who knows what else it might be good for." She grins down at him, and laughs when he's out of the chair in a second flat.

Their laughter can be heard long after they disappear into the house.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

Chapter Text

Protective Datail – Chapter 5

McGarrett Home, Tuesday, early morning


Steve stretches leisurely in bed, and turns to snuggle into Cath but finds the bed next to him empty. Which is odd, since he's sure she was here a minute ago. He looks at his alarm clock and almost jumps out of bed. It reads 0710. He swore a minute ago it was 0500. How the heck could he have missed two hours?

He smiles, thinking about going to bed early last night, before eight p.m. Seems that Cath's technique to help him sleep worked like a charm. He remembers that she gave him the sleeping pill around ten, although he was pretty sure that he would have slept without it after what Cath had done to him. But probably not for nine hours.

Steve must admit he feels pretty good. There is still a very light throbbing in his head. Experience has taught him that it will increase as soon as he gets up. But for the first time in days, he's not tired.

"Good morning, have you finally decided to wake up?" Cath comes into the room and stops in front of the bed, looking down at her friend. Who looks rather funny with hair sticking in all directions and a serious case of pillow creases on his left cheek.

"The bed got cold." Steve pulls on her arm and she falls half onto him with a little shriek. "I missed some serious cuddle time. We need to do something about that problem."

"Oh, I think we need to do something about another problem more urgently," Catherine laughs at him. "But we don't have time, Danny is picking you up at eight."

"I can be quick," Steve tells her as he flips them over and pins her down.

"I bet you can. But we… oh, that is not fair… seriously, Steve, stop that." Cath hopes, contrary to her words, that he will never stop what he's doing to her right now.

"You were saying?" Steve grins down at Cath, fully knowing what his actions are doing to her resolve not to have some morning fun. He starts to unbutton her blouse when they hear the unmistakable sound of the Camaro coming up the driveway. "You've got to be kidding me!"

"Told you we have no time for this." Cath laughs at Steve's dramatic sigh. She wiggles out from under him and hauls him off the bed, pushing him towards the bathroom, "you take care of your problem while I entertain Danny." She laughs out loud at his shocked face, leans in for another kiss that doesn't help with the 'problem' at all and is out of the bedroom before Steve can even catch his breath.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

"Danny, good morning. You're early, it's barely seven-thirty." Cath opens the door to let the detective in.

"Yeah, sorry, I know. There was a huge accident on the H201 and the way to Tripler is totally packed. We will need some time to get there." Danny woke up to the traffic news this morning, not the best way to start the day.

"Would you like some coffee? I just made a fresh pot. Have you eaten?" Catherine leads the way into the kitchen.

"Coffee would be great. Where's Steve? Don't tell me he's still out swimming?" Danny sits down at the table and takes the cup of coffee from Cath.

"No, actually he just woke up and is taking a shower, he should be here any minute," Cath tries valiantly to keep the grin in, thinking about what Steve's probably doing in the shower right now.

"What, he slept in?"

"If you call past seven 'sleeping in'; then yeah, he did."

"Since he's normally up before first light, it counts as sleeping in. How is he?"

"He's good. Sleep is all he really needed, Danny. Don't worry, he's fine. So, you like something to eat or not?"

Three scrambled eggs with turkey bacon, the only bacon Steve would ever allow in his fridge, toast and a lot of jelly later, a freshly showered Steve joins them.

"Danny, hope you enjoyed your breakfast," Steve laughs at the polished plate in front of his friend.

"Morning," Danny mumbles between the last mouthful of eggs. Washing it down with some more coffee. "You look rested and relaxed."

"I am." Steve grins at his two friends, which elicits a giggle from Cath and a look from Danny.

"Did I miss something?" Danny looks at his two friends, silently communicating with each other.

"Nope. You ready to leave?" Steve takes a sip from Cath's coffee, leans in for a kiss and moves to leave the kitchen.

"Don't you want to eat something?"

"No, thanks, Cath. I'm not really hungry, I’ll grab a bite later. Come on, Danny. Let's go."

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Tripler Army Medical Center, Captain Jo-Beth Jordan's office


Danny watches his friend sitting in the comfortable armchair next to him. Steve has been bouncing his knee with nervous energy ever since they sat down a few minutes ago. His partner seems always on the move but at the same time exudes a calmness Danny never saw in anyone else. It's a very interesting mix.

Danny lets his gaze wander around the office; he has only been here once before, last year, during the time Steve was in the hospital after the almost fatal helicopter crash. A time Danny doesn't like to think back to. His gaze falls on some family photos standing on the desk; one is in view from his angle. He can see an older man, judging by how he is holding Dr. Jordan obviously her husband, and three younger men. Everyone is wearing some kind of uniform except for the husband.

It is suddenly very quiet in the office and Danny looks up at the lack of noise Steve's bouncing had made up until now. He can see that his friend is sitting completely still, eyes closed and breathing in and out in a very controlled manner. Danny watches him a minute thinking Steve looks almost asleep, completely relaxed and calm. After another moment, the bouncing starts again, the breathing pattern changes and Steve opens his eyes.

"What?" Steve asks Danny when he sees him looking at him.

"Nothing." Danny shakes his head at him.

Before Steve can ask him anything else, Dr. Jordan comes into the office, carrying a few files with her, which she puts on the side of her desk.

"Danny, Steve. My assistant told me this is not a social call?" Captain Jordan sits down behind her desk, smiling at her two visitors. One whom she has known for almost his entire adult life and the other she had met barely a year ago. But she had heard so much about Danny before that, it feels like she has known him a lot longer.

"No, Captain Jordan, it's not." Danny's not sure if he's supposed to address her with her official rank or not while she's on duty.

Steve looks at his friend and has to grin; Danny is still very uncomfortable being around military personnel and even more so around therapists, or like in JoJo's case, a psychiatrist. One day he will need to ask Danny why that is.

"JoJo, we're here because of a case. We’d like to ask you some questions."

"Sure, Steve, if you think I can help."

"Thank you. Do you know Dr. Nadine Webster, former Captain in the Navy?" Danny starts their questioning.

"Yeah, I know her. I’ve referred some patients to her. Why?"

"Why did you send the patients to her?" Danny thinks it's odd that she would do something like that.

"I don’t normally treat veterans, only persons on active- or reservist duty. But not retired service members. Unfortunately it has something to do with budget plans. Nadine treats those patients since her treatment is covered by their insurance. She is really very good. But why do you ask?"

"Dr. Webster is dead." Danny informs her softly.

"What? How did that happen?" JoJo looks at Steve, who hasn’t said much yet.

"She was murdered yesterday. It seems that she was murdered by a serial killer. Eight psychiatrists and eight patients have fallen victim to him so far." Steve tells her.

"He is killing psychiatrists?"

"Yes. All Navy except one Army doctor, all female, and all over fifty years old. All of them specialized in PTSD." Danny recounts the facts for her, and becomes aware that Dr. Jordan fits the profile of the victims.

"I just talked to her yesterday. I can't believe she is dead."

"What time did you talk to her?" Steve wants to know.

"Yesterday morning. We were supposed to go on a three-day-conference together. Next Monday in D.C.; Nadine has been looking forward to seeing her friends again. She just came here a few months ago."

"JoJo, we would like to get a list of your patients, to cross reference the names with the other doctors’ patients." Danny comes to the point why they are really here.

"I can't give you that, it's confidential."

"We're not asking for their files, only their names." Danny wants to clear that up, and doesn't understand why that would be a problem.

"I have to clear that with the legal department first, Danny. I'm sorry, but I can't give you those names."

"JoJo, that is perfectly alright. We won't pressure you into revealing those names. Please ask legal and then give us a call." Steve is more than understanding about her reluctance.

"What?” Danny turns in his chair to look at his partner. “Steven, we need those names." Danny still doesn't see the problem.

"Danny, the names on that list are not for public knowledge. It's nobody's business. I'm on that list, and I don't want anyone to know about it. I'm sure none of them wants to go public with seeing Captain Jordan. JoJo, can you think of any of your patients who could be capable of doing this?" Steve can't understand why Danny doesn't understand the need to protect the privacy of the patients.

"Capable? Under the right circumstances a lot of people would be capable of doing that. But no-one comes to mind right away."

"Do you have any new patients, who have been treated by another doctor before?"

"Danny, I'm not a psychiatrist who treats patients on a long term basis. Steve is the exception to that rule. I see my normal patients only as long as they are in the hospital to do an evaluation, or my out-patients as long as they are stationed here. I have new patients all the time."

"Maybe we can find a compromise. Can you give us the names of the service members who came to see you in the last two weeks?" Steve suggests the idea he just thought of.

"Why two weeks?"

"The last killing happened two weeks ago in San Diego." Danny shares that information with her.

"I'll ask the legal department, and if they okay it, I'll send the names right over."

"Thank you JoJo. Danny, you have anything else?"

"No, not right now."

"Are you going to attend the conference?" Steve doesn't have a good feeling about that.

"Yes, I am. My flight is on Sunday. Do you think I'm a target?"

"No. There has never been more than one killing in each town. He chose Dr. Webster for a reason, but I think he may have checked you out. That is why we need those names, JoJo. But I don't think you're in acute danger right now." Steve believes that there will be no more killings in Hawaii, but that doesn't mean that the killer is not still here. Or that JoJo will be safe on her field trip. A plan is already forming in his head.

"Okay, I'll go see the legal department and hope to get back to you in a couple of hours."

"Good. Thank you, JoJo." Steve gets up from his sitting position and shakes hands with his therapist who came around her desk.

"How is your head, Steve?" JoJo looks at her favorite patient.

"Good, I feel better."

"But you still have a headache, don't you?" She knows her friend way too well to not see the pain behind his eyes, no matter how well he can hide it from most everyone else.

"Yeah, I do. But it's not too bad. I'll manage, don't worry." Steve returns the hug he is now receiving.

"Good. Danny, it was good to see you again. Take care of my boy here." JoJo grins at the annoyed look Steve sends her way. He knows that she cares a lot about him, so she's not worried that he's good with her teasing.

"I will." Danny smiles back at her, but is also a bit annoyed at his friend who assured him this morning that he was fine. To learn now that he's still suffering from a headache makes Danny a little angry. "Please call us as soon as possible."

"Will do." JoJo accompanies them into her outer office and sees them off. "Petty Officer, please get me someone from JAG on the phone."

Five minutes later she talks to a lawyer from JAG, to see if she can grant Five-0's wishes.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

"We still have an hour before our first interview on the base. We should head over to Max, maybe he can tell us something new." Steve says as he settles into the passenger seat of the Camaro. He silently laughs at the look he gets from Danny. "What?"

"You’re letting me drive?"

"You're always bitching about me driving your car. Now I let you drive, and you're still bitching?" Steve has a hard time keeping his grin in. Sometimes it's just too easy to throw Danny off.

"Are you feeling alright?" Danny looks at his friend, but only sees him grinning back at him.

"I'm fine, Danny. Actually I feel really good. I want to make some phone calls, that's all." To prove his point he gets his phone out.

"What, you can't talk and drive at the same time?"

Steve only smiles and goes through his contacts, and just a moment later gets the wanted connection and puts the call on speaker. "Hello?... Gibbs, you there?... Oh, hi, it's McGarrett… Am I calling at a bad time?" Steve wonders what that noise was all about, sounded like a big party, not a sound you would expect when calling Special Agent Jethro Gibbs.

"McGarrett, hello. Steve, how are you? I haven't heard from you in, what, six months?" They can hear him calling for some silence, and a moment later no more party sounds are coming out of the phone's speaker.

"Yeah, you know how it is. I'm good, thanks. Listen, I need a favor and I need some information about a case and an agent."

"An agent of ours?"

"Yeah."

"Okay. What do you need?"

"Thanks."

"Hey, I owe you. So, just tell me what you need."

"I need information on Special Agent Niles Levin. He has been with NCIS for the last ten years, works out of the San Diego office and at the moment he's in Hawaii."

"What do you need on him?"

"Ah, you know, the works. All the stuff that is not in the records. I pulled his file yesterday, but there is not much in it. I was hoping you could find out some more."

"Levin? Is he THE Levin?"

"Yes, he is. We are working together, kind of. Not really. We are working a murder case, and he showed up with seven more murders with the same MO. Navy psychiatrists killed in their offices. You heard about that?"

"Yeah, but no details. I'll get you any information we can dig up. What is the favor you need?"

"Well, it's kind of a big favor."

"McGarrett!"

"Alright. We're coming to D.C. next week and I need a cover for my partner." Steve looks at Danny, who almost swerved into the oncoming traffic.

"We're going to fly Back East?" Danny unnecessarily asks.

"Was that your partner?"

"Yeah, that was Danny. I haven't thought every detail out yet, but Cath and I are going as, well, us. But I need a cover for Danny, he can't be Five-0 or Navy. I thought with all your contacts you could come up with something. We're going to the Navy psychiatrists' conference in D.C. that starts next Monday. We will be the protective detail for one of the attendees."

"I'll come up with something. Anything else?"

"Yeah, maybe you could get us into the conference hotel? A three-room suite would be best." Steve knows he's pushing his luck.

"McGarrett, when this is over YOU owe ME one."

"Deal."

"Call you tomorrow."

As always Gibbs simply ends the call.

"Who was that?" Danny asks as he turns into the parking lot at the coroner's office.

"Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, NCIS. We worked together a few years ago."

"And he owes you? What did you do for him?" Danny turns toward his friend.

"That's classified." It's not, but Steve has no intention of telling anyone, ever.

"Sure it is." Danny shakes his head as he exits the car.

A few minutes later they enter the domain of Max Bergman.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Chapter Text

Protective Detail – Chapter 6

Honolulu Medical Examiner's Office


"Max!" Steve calls out to the ME who has become their friend over the last few months. Ever since he saved Steve after he got stabbed in prison.

"Oh, hi there. Steve, Detective Williams." Max looks up from his report to greet the two Five-0.

"Max, it's Danny. Remember?" Danny has told him at least a dozen times, but for some reason he is the only one of the task force Max is still not addressing by his first name.

"Right, sorry."

"Max, you have anything for us?" Steve asks the medical examiner.

"Yes, indeed I do. Please follow me." Max leads the way into the next room where the body of former Navy Captain Nadine Webster still lies in one of the pull out drawers of the cooler wall unit. He opens one of the drawers and pulls out the sled with the latest victim.

Steve looks down at the exposed wound that had almost severed her head, and asks himself what kind of person does something like that to another human being.

"I conducted the autopsy yesterday and was very surprised at what I found. I also went to the hospital and talked to Officer Kalakeni’s doctors and looked at her wound. And I took a look at the other autopsy reports to confirm my theory." Max looks up from the body.

"What theory is that, Max?" Steve nods to Max to go on.

"Captain Webster has multiple stab wounds to her upper and lower abdomen, and alone, some of them would have been fatal. Looking at the pattern of the wounds and the angle of the knife going into the flesh leaves me to believe they were done by a right handed person. All those wounds are post mortem. However the slicing of the throat, which led to her death was done left handed."

"Wait a minute, Max. Why would he switch hands? You use the knife for combat situations, like this killing, with your dominant hand. You would only use your other hand if your dominant one was otherwise engaged. So, why would he use both his right and left hand?" Steve can't think of a logical explanation for that.

"I can't answer that, gentlemen. But his dominant hand is his left. He used his left to stab Officer Kalakeni. I found some inconsistencies in the other autopsy reports and my colleagues will look into that. But I'm positive it's the same with the other murders."

"Maybe he doesn't have a dominant hand?" Danny thinks out loud.

"No, everyone does. A lot of people can use both their hands equally for almost all tasks, but if it comes down to using a knife in this manner, believe me you have a preferred hand." Steve can wield the knife pretty well with his left hand or shoot a gun for that matter, but if he has the choice there’s no question which hand he would use.

"Anything else, Max?"

"Yes, Det… Danny. When I looked at the other reports, I detected a pattern. First, there is an increase in violence from one case to the next. The stab wounds are getting more vicious. The secondary victim in each case, that I'm sure was always killed first, was stabbed once. But the primary victim always had multiple post mortem stab wounds. It began with five wounds, followed by three, six, four, seven, five, eight, six."

"He's repeating himself?"

"No, Danny.” Steve envisions the pattern in his head. “Max, he's going two back and then three forward. Or you can look at it as 'A plus one' and 'B plus one'. Why did he start with five?"

"I don't know, Steve. I just thought the number of wounds were not random. I don't know what it means." Max looks a bit irritated at his commander friend. It's not his job to know that.

"Max, you're a great help, thank you. I think it fits with using both hands equally." Steve looks at his two friends as if that would explain everything.

"Right, sure. Could you maybe explain that for us non-pattern analytical geeks?" Danny looks at his partner, whose mind he has trouble following on some days. Today is one of those days.

"He is following two patterns: 5 – 6 – 7 – 8, those are the A plus-ones; then 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 are the B plus-ones. He's always adding one. There must be a reason why he started with five and with three. We need to look at the victims as two separate cases. Take A as one case and compare them, find out what they have in common other than what we already know. And do the same separately with the B ones."

"Or… Maybe he is just nuts, and this means nothing." Danny thinks this is kind of crazy.

"No, it does mean something; we just need to figure out what. Thank you, Max. If you discover anything else, please let us know."

Steve and Danny leave Max Bergman behind and make their way out of the cool morgue. They are both glad to be back out in the sunshine.

"So, you really think the number of stab wounds has a meaning to that nutjob?" Danny asks while he again slips behind the wheel.

Steve thought for a moment before replying. "Yeah, I do." Steve turns a little in his seat and looks at his friend, "So, tell me, Danny, how was your date?"

"Don't you even start with me. I'm telling you, I'm not gonna eat that stuff ever again. First we had this green soup, just looking at that disgusting color made me sick. Then came the entrée, and I can't even say what that was. A piece of unidentifiable gray stuff with something green around and mashed dark… I don't know what. It looked horrible."

"How did it taste?" Steve asks, sure that Danny has completely exaggerated. He went to dinner there once with Cath and the food was great. They even served wonderful fish and chicken.

"Well… I’ve had worse. It was not as bad as it looked. But I'm not gonna eat there again, forget it." Danny says it with a grin; they both know that he will go again, as soon as Gabby wants to.

"So, does that mean, next BBQ you’ll eat some salmon or tuna?" Steve has been trying to get Danny to try some of his special marinated fish for years now. Without much luck.

"Dream on."

"You have no idea what you're missing."

"Steve, I tell you again. BBQ equals steak, burger and hot dogs. Nothing else."

"Danny, you should broaden your horizons, try some local food. And I'm not talking about your sugar stuff." Steve almost shudders at the thought at what Danny eats. "You know, before a bullet has a chance to kill you, you're going to keel over from sugar shock."

"Well, killed by a coco puff beats a bullet every time." Danny will not stop eating his favorite Hawaiian food.

"Whatever. Take a right here." Steve motions for him to leave the freeway.

"Why, the next exit is for the base." Danny still turns right.

"It's faster this way, we don't need to go through the visitor's gate."

"Okay."

Danny follows Steve's direction and five minutes later they enter the base to conduct the interviews with the retired Navy personnel who were seeing Dr. Webster.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam

Steve and Danny settle down behind the conference table in the room that was assigned to them to conduct their interviews.

"All four we're going to talk to had appointments with Dr. Webster yesterday?" Steve asks Danny, who is getting the files out onto the table.

"Yeah, the first is Lieutenant Jackson Miller. His appointment was at one fifteen p.m." Danny reads from the file.

"That doesn't leave much room, if his session was an hour. That puts him pretty close to time of death."

"Yeah, it does."

They are interrupted by a knock on the door. A moment later Lieutenant Miller enters. He is dressed in jeans, dress-shirt and sneakers. He looks a bit older than his thirty-five years. After greeting Steve and Danny, he sits down but keeps looking around nervously.

"Lieutenant, thank you for coming here." Steve is glad that all four former patients have agreed to meet on the base; it saves them a lot of time. "I'm Commander McGarrett and this is Detective Williams. We would like to ask you some questions."

"Yes, Sir, of course."

"What did you do during your time on duty?" Danny asks the first question, which earns him a look from Steve.

"What do you mean, what did I do?"

"I mean, were you in communications, on a ship, or what?"

"Oh. I was a helicopter pilot. I flew transport helicopters."

"Where were you last stationed?" Danny wants to get a better picture of the man in front of him, who seems very guarded.

"Afghanistan."

"Lieutenant, you were discharged from the Navy three years ago for medical reasons? After you came back from Afghanistan?" Danny looks at the man in front of him.

"Yes."

"You were admitted to Bethesda for three months?"

"Yes. Why are you asking me all that? It's in my file, you obviously have there. Why am I here?"

"You saw Captain Webster at Bethesda?"

"Until I was discharged. They told me I couldn't see her anymore, it would not be covered any longer, I had to see some other guy."

"I bet you were angry about that!" Danny wants to see the reaction of the former lieutenant, to see if he can control himself. Danny hasn't completely ruled him out as a suspect even though his alibi checked out.

"You bet I was angry. I gave my whole adult life to the Navy, I fought in war. And then after I was shot down, I was a fucking POW and they kick me out. Just like that. Do you know what it means to be a prisoner of war, do you Detective? You have no idea, believe me. Hell is nothing compared to it. When I came back here, they gave me three months to get back on my feet. Three months. This system sucks and it's not right." It's very obvious that Miller is still very angry.

"What happened after the three months assessment?" Steve asks softly.

"I was declared unfit for duty, but not in need of in-patient treatment. I was discharged." Miller calmed down and answers the question without much emotion. "Sir, can I ask you a question?"

"Yes, Lieutenant." Steve nods at him.

"Were you in combat?"

"Yes, I was."

"Then you know how it is."

"Yes, I do. Lieutenant, you had an appointment with Captain Webster yesterday at 1315h?"

"Yeah, I did." Miller looks a bit surprised. "I was really happy when she moved here after her retirement. I have seen her once a week now for six months. Why do you want to know?"

"Captain Webster was murdered yesterday." Steve tells him.

"What? No… she… who would kill Dr. Webster? I don't understand, why…" It's clear to both Steve and Danny that this is news to Miller.

"She was killed right after your session. When did you leave?" Danny is taking over the interview again.

"We… we didn't do a complete session, I left around 1400. Kala was already waiting. I left with the assistant."

"Yes we know, she already told us. Did you see anyone else when you left?" Danny had asked the assistant the same question, who said no one was in the hallways or in front of the building.

"No, I was talking with Miss Gladis, Dr. Webster's assistant. She was going to get their usual coffee. I don't think we met anyone on our way out of the building. Who would kill Dr. Webster? Oh my god, what about Kala?"

"Officer Kalakeni is in the hospital in critical condition. How do you know the officer?" Steve now gets back into the interview.

"We met a couple of times in Dr. Webster's office. Last week we both had to wait for almost twenty minutes because Dr. Webster was on the phone. Kala was waiting for her appointment and I for my prescription."

"Lieutenant Miller, in the last two weeks, did you notice anything unusual about Dr. Webster?"

"No, Detective. She was just like she always was."

"After your appointment you went to work?"

"Yes, Sir. I work at Dillingham Airfield. Next week I was supposed to finally renew my flight license. I don't think I can do that now, not without her help." Miller looks at Steve in desperation, his life finally was back on track and now he again might lose his way.

"Listen to me. I want you to call this number." Steve hands him a business card, explaining "it's Captain Jordan's number. Tell her I told you to call her and she will help you. Lieutenant, you will be fine."

"Thank you, Sir. I'll give her a call." Miller takes the card and looks at Steve.

"Good. Danny you have any more questions?" They had checked his alibi out yesterday but still they needed to talk to him in person as a witness.

"No, I can't think of anything. Lieutenant, we might get back to you for a few more questions later."

"Of course." Miller gets up and after a short goodbye leaves the two Five-0 alone.

"Danny, what the hell was that?" Steve asks almost angrily.

"What do you mean?"

"Why did you attack him like that?"

"I didn't attack him. What are you talking about?" Danny looks totally perplexed at his partner.

"Why were you so aggressive with your questioning? We already know that he is not our killer, Danny he was only a witness. Why did you aggravate him like that?"

"Steve, that was a normal line of questions, I didn't aggravate him at all. He was getting aggressive and mad all on his own."

"He is not a potential suspect, Danny. Your line of questions were unnecessary aggressive."

"I'm sorry, Steve, but I totally disagree. Besides if he's so unstable that he can't handle a simple questioning and needs to see his shrink and take medication to apply for his flight license, maybe it's not the best idea for him to be in charge of people. Flying them around and stuff. I wouldn't want to fly with someone who needs that kind of treatment." It's Steve's shocked face that lets Danny realize what he just said. "Steve, I'm not talking about you, I'm…"

"Danny! Just don't. Okay? Just don't." Steve holds up his hand to stop Danny from saying anything else. "I know you are not into therapy, that you hate the annual evals and the mandatory sessions. And I respect that, it's fine with me. But I had no idea what you really thought about the people who are seeing a 'shrink' as you call them. I thought you were better than that." Steve gets up from his seat, looking down at his friend still sitting at the table, "we have ten minutes until the next interview. I need some air. I'll be back for it in time." Without another glance he leaves their temporary office to get some air and hopefully clear his head. To get a chance to think about the bomb Danny just dropped into his lap.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Danny looks after his partner, his friend and it dawns on him that he had just hurt him. That Steve probably thinks that he doesn't trust him to do his job. Nothing could be further from the truth. Danny can't even explain why he has such an aversion to any kind of therapy. He simply doesn't see the benefit in talking with a therapist. For himself. Not for others. If someone else wants to see a psychiatrist, he or she should do that. Hell, he even told Steve dozens of times to seek help.

His wording just a few minutes ago was really off and he didn't mean what Steve heard. Damn. He didn't even mean that Miller shouldn't be allowed to fly, hell, he doesn't even know what he meant. But he does know that never in a million years would he wish for anyone other than Steve to have his back. And he in no way thinks that Steve is not able to do is job, no matter how often Steve thinks he needs to see JoJo in a week. For all Danny cares he can go see her every day if it makes him feel better.

Danny, you really screwed up. Damn.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

The next two interviews with PO Dale Thomas and PO Bob Roberts were mostly conducted by Danny, with Steve only asking one or two questions. But mostly he was a quiet observer until Captain Jefferson Cole enters the room.

"Commander, this is a surprise to see you."

"Sir, it's nice to see you. This is Detective Williams, Sir." Steve almost stood at attention and only remembered at the last moment that he doesn't need to do that anymore.

"I couldn't believe that you switched to the reserves to run a police force. You were on the fast track to the top and now you're doing police work?" It's obvious that Captain Cole is not very thrilled about that. "I think it's a blatant waste of talent, son. I at least hope they keep you busy in the reserves?"

"Ah, yes, Sir, they do. No one was really thrilled to let me go, so I had to make some concessions."

"Yeah, I believe that. I bet they give you a lot of grief every time you're doing a drill or an op. I can imagine that they come down on you pretty hard. And I bet HPD is not happy with you as a leader either; a Navy guy leading a prestigious task force." Cpt. Cole asks himself why someone would choose such a difficult path.

"You're right about both, Sir. It's not always easy." Steve is not looking at Danny, who is listening to the conversation with interest.

Danny knows that HPD was not happy with a Navy man in a leading position, but he never really thought about the Navy giving his partner grief about it too.

"Sir, thank you for agreeing to see us here. We appreciate it." Steve motions for Cpt. Cole, who has been his CO on various missions, to sit down.

"Sure, no problem. I was only told this was about a murder investigation, where I might be able to help."

"Sir, you retired six months ago?" Danny asks his first question.

"Yes, Detective I did."

"You have been seeing Dr. Webster ever since? May I ask why?" Danny thinks that if they could figure out what all the patients and the killer have in common that it would help them catch the killer.

"No, you may not. It's none of your business."

"Captain, you saw Dr. Webster yesterday at noon. Is that correct?" Steve says, taking over the interview at this point.

"Yes, I did."

"Captain, Dr. Webster was murdered yesterday. About 90 minutes after you finished your session with her. Did you notice anything unusual about her behavior or around the office?"

"She was murdered? Why?"

"We don't know yet, that is what we’re trying to figure out. Did you notice anything unusual, Captain?"

"No, Commander. Everything was like always."

"How often did you see Dr. Webster?" Danny asks him.

"Detective, I don't know how that is relevant to anything, but once every other week." It's obvious that Captain Cole doesn't like Danny at all.

Steve has to keep his grin in, he knows that Cpt. Cole can be a real piece of work if he doesn't like someone.

"Thank you Captain, if you can think of anything else, please give us a call." Steve hands him his card.

"Will do, Commander. It was good to see you again. I hope you will catch the person who killed her." Cole gets up, shakes hands with both of them and is on his way.

"Steve, about before…"

"Danny, I'll meet you at HQ. I have something else to do here. I’ll see you later." Steve is about to leave when Danny calls after him.

"Steve! How are you gonna get back? I have the car."

"I'm pretty sure I'll figure out a way." Steve shakes his head and again makes for the door.

"You gonna go and see Catherine?"

"No." Steve doesn't even turn around, but leaves the 'office'. He knows that he's being a little childish but he really can't deal with Danny right now. Besides he has a meeting with Lt. Robert O'Hare about their travel arrangements for next Sunday. After that he only needs to convince the Governor to let them go and Gibbs to come through with a cover for Danny. Oh, and of course tell Cath and JoJo about his brilliant plan. Piece of cake.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Protective Detail – Chapter 7

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam


Steve is still pretty miffed at Danny, and wonders if he has any right to be. After all, Danny has the right to his own opinion. But Steve always thought Danny knew him well enough to know that he would never work if he was not in control of himself. It was quite a shock to hear what his friend thought about people needing professional help dealing with their problems. And it hurt to learn what Danny obviously thought about him seeing a psychiatrist for years on a more or less regular basis. It's not that he has intensive therapy all the time, some years he only sees JoJo every other month or even less.

But right now he knew he couldn’t deal with the trauma of Korea and the memories the torture brought back, on his own. Steve knows that Danny never liked to talk about him seeing JoJo. They had talked about it, sure, but they never got really into it. Danny was always very uncomfortable about the whole situation. Now Steve knows why. That's not true. Steve is adamant that he will not listen to his inner voice telling him that he might have heard something that Danny never said.

The only thing Steve heard was that if he seeks therapy he's not fit to be a full member of society and certainly shouldn't be in a position of leadership. Or in a position where lives could be in danger because of him. Danny is practically telling him that he is putting his friends in jeopardy every time he comes to work. That he can't be trusted with their safety. It never occurs to Steve even once that is not what Danny said or meant at all.

He shakes his head to get past these thoughts and concentrate on the task at hand. He needs to convince Lt. O'Hare, in front of whose office he is now standing, to arrange a transport to Andrews Air Force Base next Sunday for him and his team, including one civilian. Well, Danny is not really a civilian, but he's definitely not Navy. Steve actually has to smile at that thought for just a second, until he remembers that he is supposed to be mad at his partner.

Half an hour later he leaves the office with a big smile on his face. It took a lot of hard work and fast talk to persuade the lieutenant to get him onto that plane, but in the end he got four tickets for the military transport first thing Sunday morning.

It's barely 1130 when a slight grumbling noise reminds him that he didn't eat breakfast. His next stop should be the mess hall, but since he’s not in uniform, he decides to go to the cafeteria instead. A decision that will cause him a lot of trouble and pain.



*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*



Five-0 Headquarters

Kono Kalakaua looks over at her cousin and wonders if she should ask his advice or not. After another minute she goes over to his office where he's doing his research.

"Chin, you got a minute?" Kono asks as she enters the office.

"Sure, what's up?" Chin looks up from his computer and motions for Kono to sit down.

"I should have talked to Steve about this, but he's with Danny and I don't want him to think I can't do it, but I thought maybe you should do it, I mean, you know what I mean?" Kono uncharacteristically rambles on.

Chin just stares at her, trying to process the words that just came from her mouth. Finally, he just shakes his head. "No, I haven’t a clue,” he admits. “What's the problem, cuz?"

"Some of the HPD officers have been on the force for decades, they are way my seniors. I'm not sure if I'm the right person for the interviews."

"Kono, Steve has chosen you for a reason."

"Oh, great, because I'm the woman." Kono rolls her eyes at that.

"No. Because you lack experience and those years on the force. These men won't feel intimidated by you; they will feel superior. And that is exactly what Steve wants them to feel. They will tell you a lot more than they would tell Steve, Danny or me. And because you're a woman." Chin smiles at his cousin.

"Very funny."

"Kono, you will do a good job. Steve trusts you with this, and you have no reason not to trust yourself. You will do great. Remember what Steve told you and it will be fine."

"It would be so much easier if they were simply suspects." Kono grins at Chin. "Sorry to have bothered you with this."

"No, it's the right thing to do. Sometimes you have to question if you're the right one to do an interview. That's normal, self-doubt is good. It shows you think about what's important for the case, not for your own ego. I know it's tempting to do every interview yourself. It's a good thing, Kono, to talk about your doubts. Never hold back with that, not with me or Steve and Danny."

"Okay. Thanks."

"Do your interviews and call me if you need help."

"I will, thanks, Chin."

Five minutes later she starts her first interview with Sergeant Spike, twenty-five years with HPD.



*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*



Danny Williams enters HQ just as the last HPD officer leaves after his interview with Kono, who walks out of her office looking beat.

"Kono, how did the interviews go?" Danny looks at her with sympathy. He's sure that it was emotionally draining to interview the officers.

"Like pulling teeth. None of them have seen or heard anything unusual in the last two weeks." Kono shakes her head about this waste of time.

"We didn't expect much to come out of those interviews, but they needed to be done. We weren't any more successful at the base." Danny must admit that the outcome of their interviews was kind of disastrous. Well, it was more what he said that led to the bad outcome.

"Danny, everything okay? Where's Steve?"

"He is still on base. Has a meeting with someone, he should be here soon."

"Did something happen?" Kono can clearly see that something is wrong.

"No, nothing happened. Where is Chin?"

"I'm right here, Danny. You okay?" Chin asks as he comes to the smart table.

"Everything is fine. Did you finish the background check on Dr. Webster?" Danny has no interest in talking about what happened between him and Steve.

"Yeah, just about done with it. None of her patients' names pop up in any of the other murder cases. I talked to Agent Cleland of NCIS, and they haven't found any connections either. They are not completely done with cross referencing, but he said Levin will tell us their findings, or better the lack thereof." Chin is as frustrated as the others about the total lack of any connection or any hints about the killer.

"Come on, guys, this can't be. He killed sixteen people, and we have squat? No connection, no DNA, no witnesses, nothing?" Danny can't believe that there isn't anything except the art of killing that is linking those victims.

"How did your interviews go, Danny. And where is Steve?"

"As I told Kono, he is on the base. He will be back soon."

"Why did you guys split up?" Chin just knows that something is going on with their two bosses.

Danny looks at his two colleagues and friends and decides that he should tell them at least something about what happened.

"I might have said something that Steve might have misunderstood." Danny keeps his answer vague.

"And?" Chin motions for him to go on.

"And… nothing." Danny looks at Chin and Kono, who are both rolling their eyes at him. "Okay, I said something really stupid. You happy? I didn't mean it that way, but Steve thought I was talking about him. And after thinking about it, I can understand why he did. But I swear I really wasn't. And now Steve thinks I don’t trust him. I hurt him and I don't know how to fix it. He doesn't even want to listen to me." Danny looks up and is surprised to see two smiling faces in front of him. "What are you smiling at? I really screwed up. I'm not kidding."

"Danny! Steve knows that you trust him. He'll come around and he will talk to you. Besides, since when did you not talk? You two will be fine." Chin has no idea what Danny said to his boss, but he knows for certain that these two won't stay mad at each other for long. At least he hopes so.

"He stayed at the base?" Kono can imagine what that 'fight' might have been about and knows that Danny can put his foot in his mouth on occasion. And she knows that some things are very sensitive issues for Steve, one of those being his trust issue that was shot to hell with Jenna's betrayal. She often wonders how he can trust anyone anymore. She knows she wouldn't.

"Yeah, he said he had a meeting with someone. We weren't really talking at the end."

"Did you try to call him? How is he going to get back? Maybe one of us should pick him up?" Chin asks.

"I'll go,” Kono volunteers to pick up their personal SEAL. "That way I can fill him in on the interviews."

"Okay, but call him first." Danny doesn't want Steve to feel like he has just been handled. If he doesn't want to be picked up, they should leave him be.

"Will do," Kono has her phone out already, but the call goes straight to voicemail. She hangs up without leaving a message. "It went to voicemail."

"That's not like Steve. Kono, go there and pick him up. If he's mad, tell him I sent you." Danny knows that Steve never turns his phone off, not even in a situation like this.

Kono doesn't need to be told twice and is out the door.

"Okay, Chin, what do we do now? Any more information from Max?"

"No, nothing new. I think we should take another look at all the crime scenes." Chin puts the pictures of the first crime scene onto the big screen.

They spend the next hour going over the photos of the brutal crimes which were committed by an obviously deranged person.



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Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam

Chief Petty Officer Dale Thomas checks his weapon one last time before he makes his way over to the cafeteria. He just knows that the commander looked right through him during the interview earlier this morning. He is sure that is the reason McGarrett is still on the base and that is why he met with O'Hare after their interview. McGarrett found out that he lied to him and he plans to rat him out. Thomas can't allow that. He can't allow McGarrett to tell the world his deepest darkest secret. Dale Thomas is certain the commander found out about his involvement after he talked to Lt. O'Hare and it is only a matter of time until they will all be arrested.

He can't do that to his wife and kids. They can't find out, ever. They can never find out that he is part of the drug ring that is operating out of the base. O'Hare is the go to guy for almost everything, and when he asked Dale two months ago to be part of it, he simply couldn't say no. He needed the money. He is only a small part of the operation and doesn't know much about how it all works, but thinking about anyone finding out about his involvement sends him into a panic.

There is only one way to avoid getting caught, and that is if McGarrett isn’t allowed to tell anyone. He needs to get to McGarrett before he can make any calls. Thomas knows that he is a special trained operative and it will not be easy to subdue him, but he'll take his chances.

He has followed McGarrett since he left O'Hare's office and can't believe his luck when the man walks towards the cafeteria. It is based in one of the smaller buildings and is frequented mostly by visitors and their accompanying military personal. Obviously McGarrett has no idea that it has been closed due to a gas leak since yesterday and won’t be re-opened until the end of the week. The building will most likely be deserted since other than the cafeteria it is unused.

Dale Thomas smiles when he slips in the door right after Commander McGarrett.



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Steve wonders for a moment why there are not more people on their way to the cafeteria since it's normally a busy place, with people coming and going all the time. But he is preoccupied with thinking about his 'fight' with Danny, so he is not really paying attention. Normally he's always aware of what is happening around him, but right now there are three mitigating circumstances for him being in kind of a daze. First, he's on a military base and he's sure everyone lets his guard down a little bit on home turf. Second, Danny's words had really shaken him up. And third, he was dumb enough not to take the pain pill this morning like Mark told him to. He is now paying the price in the form of a throbbing headache. And he is just sick of it. It has been months since he received all those blows to the head, but still he suffers from Wo Fat's actions.

All those thoughts are going through his head as he enters the building and stops in his tracks when he finds the hallway deserted. He moves towards the entry of the cafeteria to read the sign taped to the glass doors. But no matter what it says, it's obvious he won't get anything to eat here.

Steve is not even ten feet into the hallway when he's stopped by someone calling his name. He hadn’t even realized that someone else entered after him.

"Commander McGarrett!" Chief Petty Officer Dale Thomas calls out as he rushes after Steve into the hallway.

Steve turns as he hears the call and is barely able to avoid the butt of the gun coming his way. He gets caught with a glancing blow and his knees buckle from the sheer force of the hit. If he hadn’t been able to lean back a little, he would be down with a cracked skull by now. As it is, Steve is only dazed enough to fall to his knees but he's still able to draw his gun. Unfortunately, his reflexes are seriously slowed and Thomas is able to kick it out of his hand before Steve can even aim at anything.

Steve struggles to focus on his opponent who manages to get another kick in before Steve is completely back on his feet. Steve gets caught in the shoulder, which throws him off to the right, but he is able to grab the man’s ankle and the added momentum causes Thomas to crash onto his back. That gives Steve the time to struggle back to his feet but Thomas is a little faster and, with a sweeping kick against Steve's right knee, brings him down hard again. Steve cries out when his leg gives way and he lands painfully on the floor, all the air rushing out of his lungs.

Dale Thomas advances on Steve like an MMA fighter on Speed. The kicks raining down on Steve are brutal and it takes a few moments for Thomas to realize that the man on the ground went still several kicks ago. Thomas is panting heavily and looks down at the unconscious commander. He is lying curled on his right side, one arm protectively at his head. Thomas can see a small cut on the side of McGarrett's head where his boot connected with his temple.

Thomas doesn’t waste any time, he picks up the gun he kicked out of the commander's hand and grabs his legs to drag him behind the door of the restrooms across the cafeteria. A minute later the hallway is empty and only a tiny smitch of blood is left as a witness of the fight.



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Chapter Text

Protective Detail – Chapter 8

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam

Steve's way back to consciousness is slow and painful. First he becomes aware that he is lying flat on his back on a cold, hard surface. And something is trickling down the side of his head into his ear, which is really annoying, but he's too fuzzy to figure out what to do about it. His ribs feel like he was kicked by a mule but he can breathe just fine, so he knows he only suffered bruises. Next sense coming back is his hearing and with it, the pain in his head. Boy, he wished it would have stayed away. He's sure that he just groaned aloud, rather pitifully. There is such fierce pain lancing straight into his brain that he is sure there is a hole in his temple and a hot stick is being pushed right through it.

Steve cries out when he is grabbed and dragged along to get propped up rather roughly against the wall next to a sink. The movement is almost too much for Steve to handle. His vision is graying and he's sure he blacked out for a few seconds when he hears the mumbling again.

He slowly lifts his head from his chest and blinks a few times to get the scene in front of him into focus. Chief Petty Officer Dale Thomas is pacing up and down the restroom, mumbling to himself some gibberish Steve can't make out. He's waving a gun around like he's discussing something with an unseen partner. Steve's own gun is tucked into Thomas' waistband.

It's very clear that Thomas is not in his right mind. Yeah, well, you figured that out really quick, Steven. Great job. Steve takes a look around and sees that they are in the restroom, probably the one across the cafeteria. He's been here before, well, not sitting on the floor bleeding from a head wound and locked in with a nutjob.

Steve pushes himself carefully up into a more upright position, wincing slightly from the pain the movement causes in his belly and ribs. His right knee also gives a little twinge of pain, but all things considered, it could be a lot worse.

Steve is still watching Thomas and wonders why the petty officer had attacked him. He takes a look at his watch and sees that he has been out for over fifteen minutes.

"Petty Officer Thomas?" Steve softly calls out to him, but gets no reaction. Thomas continues his pacing without even looking up.

Steve contemplates getting up from the floor, but is pretty sure that he wouldn't make it on his own. His best choice is to sit and wait and try to talk to him. But it looks like Thomas is not even aware of his surroundings, which is not of much use to Steve right now. He knows that he's in no shape to take the man out or even get near him fast enough to have a chance.

Steve is about to try getting Thomas' attention again when he sees the door move slightly. Someone is very slowly and carefully opening the door to the restrooms. Steve is sitting right across from the door about ten feet away from it, whereas Thomas is pacing in front of the stalls, not directly in view of the door.

It brings a smile to Steve's face when he sees Kono taking a peek around the door. Seeing him sitting on the floor, obviously injured, her eyes widen in shock. He motions to Thomas who is now coming closer, but before he reaches Steve, he turns and starts his pacing again.

A few seconds later Kono again opens the door and without making any sound moves into the room. She waits a few seconds before she makes her move.

"Five-0! Drop your weapon, hands behind your head." Kono yells at him, her gun pointing at his face.

"No, no." Thomas looks with a wild gaze first at Kono, the new threat and then at Steve who is still sitting on the floor.

"Drop your weapon. Now. Get down onto your knees."

Dale Thomas seems to come back to himself, lowers his weapon, gets down to his knees, takes the second gun out and lies down on his belly with his hands behind his back.

Kono looks at her boss; this is not what she expected. It only takes her a moment to cuff Thomas and remove the weapons from him. A second later she kneels next to Steve.

"Boss, are you okay?"

"I'm good." His voice and the pain in his eyes betray his words.

"Sure you are. Who do I call to get help in here?"

"Use the wall phone, just call the switchboard…" Steve's world suddenly starts to move around him and he tilts to the side.

"Steve! Stay with me, come on, no passing out." Kono gets worried by the glazed over eyes that are looking back at her.

"Dizzy." Steve has a hard time staying awake, the room is spinning and it makes him nauseous. "Need to lie down or I'm gonna be sick."

Kono takes off her jacket and helps Steve to slide down and places her folded jacket under his head. "Stay awake, boss. Be back in a sec." She gets up, and makes the call to the switchboard. A moment later she kneels next to her downed friend again. Putting her hand gently on his chest she softly calls out to him. "Steve, open your eyes. You need to stay awake."

"Not passing out, just resting my eyes. It's damn bright in here." Steve's not opening his eyes, but he doesn't seem close to passing out again.

"Okay. Just hang in there, help will be here any minute." Kono gets her phone out and presses Danny's speed dial.

"Who are you calling?" Steve heard the telltale noise of the phone.

"Danny."

"Ugh."

Kono smiles down at her boss, who doesn't seem overly happy about it. She really wonders what went on between those two. A second later she has her second boss on the line. "Danny, come to the base... right now. And don't be shy about lights and siren."

"What? Why? What happened?" Danny's worried voice can be heard over the speaker phone.

"Steve was attacked."

"Is he okay?"

"He says he's fine, but lying flat on your back too dizzy to even get up without puking your guts out and bleeding on the floor is not fine in my book. Sorry boss." She sheepishly looks at Steve who has opened his eyes and glares at her. "Danny, just get here."

"We're on our way." Danny disconnects the line.

"That was totally not fair, Kono." But he says it with a smile, truth to be told he doesn't feel so good right now.

She looks over to PO Thomas, who is still lying absolutely still on his belly and hasn't moved an inch. "Why did he attack you?"

"Wish I knew. No idea. He totally blindsided me." Steve closes his eyes again when another wave of nausea rolls over him.

"Steve, you gonna be sick?"

"Feel nauseous, but not gonna puke." Steve tries to get over the sick feeling and concentrates on the nearing sirens.

A minute later the place is swarming with all kinds of military personnel. Dale Thomas is taken into custody and Steve makes Kono go with him, to find out why he attacked him. The hallway and the restroom are declared a crime scene and Steve is loaded onto a stretcher and into an ambulance to make the short trip to the base hospital.

Twenty minutes later Danny and Chin arrive on the scene. It takes them almost fifteen more minutes to find out where their friends are. Chin makes his way over to the brig to find Kono and the attacker and Danny is on his way to the base clinic to check on his partner.



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Base Clinic - Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam

The scene in front of him is not what Danny expected when he finally finds Steve. His friend is slightly propped up on an exam bed with his open cargo pants low on his hips, boxer briefs equally low, dangerously close to exposing more than Steve probably cares for. Danny watches from his position slightly behind and to the side of the scene as a young female doctor glides the head of the ultrasonic hand piece over Steve's belly and abdomen. The procedure causes Steve to wince a couple of times when she presses on some particularly tender spots.

"This looks very good, Commander. I'm sure we're only looking at some deep tissue bruising. I can't detect any fluids or any other hints of internal injuries. You were very lucky to get away without a serious injury judging by the kicks you received." The young doctor wipes some of the goo off Steve's belly.

"Don't feel so lucky right now." Steve grumbles, obviously in some discomfort.

"Yeah, I can imagine. Are you still nauseous?" She asks him as she wipes the last remnants of gel off Steve.

"Yeah, but I feel a little better."

"How is your head? Is the medication making a difference yet?" She asks as she pushes the ultrasound scanner out of the way and gives Steve his shirt back.

"Not really," Steve tells her, while struggling to sit up so that he can put his shirt back on. As soon as he is upright, the room starts spinning again.

"Just breathe through the dizziness. You took a pretty hard hit to the head." She helps him with the shirt when she sees him wincing from the pain the movement obviously causes. His whole torso is riddled with bruises which will turn dark and more painful very soon.

Steve smiles at his doctor, thankful for her help. He pulls his pants back up and settles back down. "Thank you, Lieutenant."

"You're welcome, Sir. Now, let me check that cut on your temple, we might have to put some stitches in or use glue." She looks at her patient in front of her. When he came in less than an hour ago she was sure that he had serious injuries. But he seems to be a really lucky guy. He will be in a world of hurt for a while, but no major damage was done.

"Okay." Steve looks at her with a smile.

She looks over Steve's shoulder at Danny, who still hasn't spoken up, and she's not sure if her patient is aware that they have had a visitor for a few minutes now. Normally she would say he would be aware for sure, but he's still a little out of it, so he might have missed it. "Commander, you have a visitor."

"I know." Steve is aware that Danny has been standing in the room for a few minutes now.

"You want him to leave or stay?" Lieutenant Nokes is not sure how to handle the situation. She's not even sure why he was allowed into the inner sanctum of the ER. He obviously made a good case.

Steve won't say it out loud, but he really wants Danny to leave. He simply can't face his best friend right now. He looks pleadingly at his doctor to understand him. As long as she was treating him, he didn't care much if Danny was there or not, but she is going to be done with him soon and then he would have to face him, and he can't do that right now. Besides his head is hurting madly and the nausea got worse during the short moment he was sitting up and Steve has no intention of puking in front of Danny.

"Sir, would you wait outside please? I'll let you know when you can see Commander McGarrett." She turns back to her patient, who's not looking so good right now. "Commander, are you gonna be sick?" She watches Danny reluctantly leaving the room as she helps McGarrett turn on his side in case the nausea gets worse. "I'll be right back, Commander. Stay like this."

Steve closes his eyes against the sick feeling, hoping to get past it. He still hasn't eaten anything and dry heaves are the last thing he needs. Steve knows it's partially his own fault that he's feeling like crap right now. Not only is it from the mild concussion he suffered, but also that he didn't take his medication or eat anything this morning. Maybe Danny is right and I shouldn't be in charge of Five-0, I can't even take care of myself. Steve groans when the pain in his head picks up a notch. He should stop thinking and trying to relax instead.

He obviously zoned out for a bit, because suddenly he feels a prick on the back of his left hand. When he opens his eyes, he sees Lt. Nokes push an IV needle in, secure it and start the fluids.

"I'm giving you something for the nausea, Commander," she explains as she injects the medication into the IV. "This will help you really fast."

"Thanks." Steve doesn't really care what she's giving him as long it makes the spinning sensation go away; and with it hopefully the nausea as well.

"Commander, I would like you to stay with us for a few hours for observation. At least as long as the IV needs to empty. We're going to settle you in a private room and you can get some rest. I really don't like your extreme nausea and dizziness. We'll see how you're doing in a few hours and take it from there." Lt. Nokes has already arranged for a room and hopes that her patient won't put up too much of a fight.

"I should go back to work." Steve tells her without opening his eyes. If he's honest, a couple hours of sleep sound very tempting.

"Give us four hours and if you can stand up after that, you're free to go." Nokes tries to coax him into staying.

"Okay, but no hospital gown." Steve will NOT change into one of those too short, flimsy things.

"Oh, I'm sure the nurses will enjoy you without a gown even more." Nokes laughs when Steve's eyes pop open and he growls at her. "Relax, you can keep your clothes on. I'm not going to admit you. I just want to keep an eye on you for a few hours. No hospital gowns, I promise."

Steve looks at her and swears she mumbles something about a damn shame, but is too tired to care that much. "Fine, I'll stay. Can you please tell Detective Williams that I will join the team again after I'm released."

"Sure. So, I take it, you still don't want to see him?"

Steve knows that he should talk to Danny, at least to let him know that he's okay, but he is sure the conversation would end in disaster. Better to wait a bit, so that he can at least think about what Danny really said. At the moment he can't think straight, and wouldn't be able to talk to Danny in a manner he deserves. "Yeah, pretty much."

"Okay, I’ll talk to him. We will settle you in a room in a couple of minutes, just try to relax. I'll come see you later. Do you have any questions?" She puts the supplies away she used to take care of the small cut above Steve's right eye.

"Could you please call Lt. Catherine Rollins, and tell her I'm here? She is at extension 395."

"I saw in your file that she's your next of kin?"

"Yeah, that too." Steve's not really listening anymore, the nausea is slowly abating and a deep tiredness is setting in. He knows he won’t be able to fight sleep for much longer.

"Don't fight it, Commander, go to sleep." Lt. Nokes smiles down at her patient when he finally gives in and drifts off to sleep. She waits a couple of minutes until two orderlies take him to his room. She watches after him and goes to talk to Detective Williams; something she's not looking forward to.



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Danny Williams is still pretty shaken after watching his friend getting checked over for internal injuries. He shudders, thinking about those bruises he saw, knowing they will cause a lot of pain in the days to come.

Danny doesn't even know yet for sure what happened, or why Steve was attacked. But as soon as the doctor is finished with her exam, he is hoping to talk to Steve and learn more about what happened after they split up. The detective is a little surprised when she tells him to wait outside for a few minutes, but follows her 'order' anyway. As he leaves, he gets even more concerned when he realizes his friend is obviously getting sick.

Danny feels partially responsible for this and wishes he could do something for him. They are partners and it's his job to be Steve's backup and vice versa. But he left, well technically Steve left, but because of what Danny said. Damn.

Danny still is unclear how a petty officer who was not a specially trained sailor could get the drop on a SEAL. Because Steve was preoccupied, and that is also your fault. Double damn. Danny's conscience has a pretty loud voice.

Danny looks up when Lt. Nokes comes out of the treatment room and moves quickly to the nurses' station where Danny is hovering close by, waiting for word on his friend.

"Glenn, I need a room for McGarrett. Do we have a private room at the moment?" Danny doesn't like the sound of that; it seems that his partner is more hurt than he thought.

"You can have B564."

"That's perfect. Can you send two orderlies to settle him in the room? Oh, and please call Dr. Mark Hope at Queens, I need to talk to him," she tells the nurse in charge while she signs the papers necessary for admitting McGarrett for observation.

"About the commander?"

"Yes, Hope is his neurologist. Please see that you get him on the phone soon."

"Sure, I'll get right on it."

"Thank you." Lt. Nokes hurries back into the treatment room. Danny listened to her conversation and can only hope that Steve is not seriously injured, but it doesn't bode well if she wants to talk to Mark.

Danny continues to wait and a few minutes later he's finally rewarded with Lt. Nokes coming his way.

"Detective Williams, I'm sorry you had to wait. I'm Lt. Nokes, I treated your friend."

"How is he?" Danny shakes hands with the young doctor.

"Well, he was very lucky. No broken bones, and no internal injuries. He is badly bruised and will be in quite some discomfort for a while, but it's nothing too serious. He received various blows to the head and suffered a mild concussion and I'm a little concerned about the level of pain, nausea and dizziness he's experiencing. That is why he's staying for a little longer. I'm running an IV and anti-nausea meds right now. I will assess his condition again in a few hours. Right now he's asleep and will be settled in a room. Do you have any questions, Detective?"

"Can I see him?"

"Not right now, he is asleep, and I would rather keep him that way. He will join you as soon as he is released." Lt. Nokes hates being the middle man.

"Okay, thank you, Lieutenant." Danny has no intention of not seeing his partner. And since he knows where he is going to be in a few minutes, he will make sure to see him in room B564.

Danny watches Lt. Nokes leave and makes his way over to the elevator to find his friend. He will not leave without talking to Steve. This has gone on long enough.



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Chapter Text

Protective Detail – Chapter 9

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam

"Kono!" Chin Ho Kelly calls out to his cousin as he enters the building housing the holding cells and interrogation room, in which PO Dale Thomas is now sitting.

"Chin, is Danny with Steve?" Kono stands up when her cousin comes closer.

"Yeah, he went to the base clinic. What happened, and how badly was Steve hurt?" Chin asks his cousin. Neither Danny nor Chin saw their boss when they arrived.

Kono fills him in on the events that happened since she arrived on base.

"You have any idea why the petty officer attacked Steve?" Chin asks her after she finishes her report.

"No, and Steve doesn't either." Kono is shaking her head at Chin’s question.

"Can we talk to Thomas?"

"In a few minutes. A doctor is taking a look at him right now. But he doesn't seem to be hurt. I don't get it, cuz, how the heck did he knock out Steve?" Kono still can't believe what bad shape her boss was in after the fight.

"If Thomas took him by surprise, and I bet he did, he must have gotten in a good first hit to the head. And, after that…" Chin knows that anyone can get a lucky punch in, and not even a highly trained person like Steve is safe from that.

"I guess so. I just hope he's not seriously hurt. He passed out when help arrived." Kono remembers how they couldn't rouse him again after he blacked out.

"I'm sure Danny will tell us soon. Is that the doctor?" Chin motions to the man leaving the room in which Dale Thomas is held.

"Yes." Kono and Chin make their way over to him.

"Are you the two officers from Five-0?" The lieutenant asks when Kono and Chin meet with him.

"Yes, I'm Lieutenant Kelly, and this is Officer Kalakaua. Can we talk to Petty Officer Thomas?"

"Well, Lieutenant Kelly, physically there is nothing wrong with him. But I'm not sure that you will be able to learn much from him. I don't specialize in psychiatry, but it seems to me that he is in a kind of disassociated state. I will call in a specialist who can evaluate him."

"But we can ask him some questions?" Chin needs to find out if the attack has anything to do with the murders they are investigating.

"You can try your luck, but don't be surprised if he doesn’t even acknowledge you," Lt. Tipps lets him know.

"Thank you, Lieutenant." They say their goodbyes and one of the guards in front of the interrogation room lets them in to question PO Thomas.

What they see is not encouraging. Dale Thomas is sitting on a chair with his hands cuffed behind his back. He doesn't look up when they enter, and Chin and Kono are not even sure he is aware that they are in the room.

"Petty Officer Thomas?" Chin starts as he sits down across the table. Except for three chairs and a table, the room is completely bare and the gray walls don’t make this a comfortable place to spend any length of time.

Chin and Kono are equally surprised when Thomas lifts his head and looks at them. "Yes, Sir?"

"Petty Officer, do you know where you are?"

"Yes, Sir. I attacked Commander McGarrett. Sir, is he okay? I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hurt him like that. Please tell me that he's okay."

Again, PO Thomas surprises them both.

"We haven't heard anything about him yet. Petty Officer, why did you attack Commander McGarrett?" Chin asks the most important question.

"Because he found out." Thomas says it as if that would explain everything.

"Found out? What did he find out?"

"What I did. I couldn't allow him to tell anyone."

Chin and Kono look at each other; could it really be that this man in front of them is their serial killer?

"Petty Officer, what did you do?" Chin asks him.

"Lt. O'Hare said no one would ever know. But I guess the commander busted him too."

Now the two Five-0 are really confused. What the heck is this guy talking about?

"Petty Officer, please tell us exactly what Commander McGarrett found out."

Dale Thomas looks at Chin and Kono and comes to the conclusion it would be best if he came clean with them. "This morning when Detective Williams interviewed me, the commander only watched me and I knew something was not right. Commander McGarrett was very quiet; I don't think he asked me anything. It was very strange. After the interview, I stayed around and when they finished with Captain Cole it didn't take long for McGarrett to leave. I thought it was strange that Williams didn't go with him, but he stayed back. I followed McGarrett to O'Hare's office, and he was with him almost half an hour before he came out smiling. It was then that I realized he had found out about everything. He then went to the cafeteria and I really couldn't believe my luck, because I knew it would be deserted. McGarrett was not really paying attention to anything… he was really deep in thought about something. When I called his name in the hallway, I think I startled him. He was not even aware that I was there. I didn't think it would be so easy to knock him out. When he was unconscious, I dragged him into the restrooms and he was really still, for a minute I thought he was dead. And that was when I kind of woke up, and when I saw him lying there, bleeding, I don't know, oh god, I almost killed him. I am so sorry."

Thomas got more and more agitated the more he was telling them and in the end he was almost sobbing. Chin and Kono both believed that he was truly sorry about what he had done. That would explain giving up without any fight when Kono confronted him and telling them his story now.

"What were you and O'Hare doing, Petty Officer?" Chin still doesn't know what his boss found out about them.

"O'Hare is the go-to guy for any kind of drugs on the base. He asked me two months ago to help him with the distribution of them." Thomas hangs his head in shame.

"Drugs? You think McGarrett found out that you were dealing drugs?" Chin can't believe it.

"Yeah, why else would he have stayed and talked to O'Hare? He would have arrested us next."

"You assaulted a law enforcement officer with a deadly weapon, seriously injuring him. You have any idea what kind of charges you are going to face? And all this because you thought he knew something about you?" Kono is in his face about what he has done to her friend and boss.

"And for your information, Commander McGarrett had no idea about your little drug operation." Chin informs him.

"What?" Dale Thomas looks like he finally realized what he has really done and what it will mean for him.

"I think we're done here. You will be kept here until it is decided if you will be charged under the US Military Code of Justice since both you and the victim are members of the Navy, or if the DA will charge you because you attacked the head of the Governor's task force. Either way, you won't see the outside world for a long time," Chin tells Thomas who sits in stunned silence.

Chin and Kono leave him to talk to the NCIS Agent in charge of this investigation. They don't have to search for long, because Special Agent Scott Mountin is waiting for them outside the interrogation room, from where he listened to the conversation.

"Scott, you are in charge of this?" Chin greets the agent they worked with many months back when Steve was kidnapped.

"Chin, Kono, good to see you. And again we meet not under the best circumstances," Agent Mountin smiles at them. "Lt. O'Hare is being arrested as we speak. No doubt Thomas will be prosecuted under the UMCJ. Have you heard anything about McGarrett?"

"No, we don't know how he's doing yet; we're heading over after we're done here. Will you keep us informed about Thomas?" Chin answers Scott's question.

"Yes, of course. Hope your boss is all right. I'll call you later, okay?"

"Yeah, that's fine. We will meet with one of your colleagues, Agent Levin later this afternoon."

"Levin? He's handling the serial killer, isn't he? I haven't met him yet, can't tell you much about him." It's pretty clear that Scott is keeping it pretty neutral.

"He came by our HQ yesterday, and wants to meet again today. I thought he worked with the local bureau for the case?" Kono asks Scott.

"No, he pretty much keeps to himself. But a couple of probies were assigned to him to help go through all the data. But, as far as I know, no other agents."

"I see." Chin thinks it's odd that such a high profile case is no longer handled by the local NCIS office. But on the other hand, they know that Five-0 is handling the case, and most of the time they are satisfied with that since Steve is still Navy. So, maybe that is the reason this time as well.

"Chin, we should go over to the hospital and then we need to get back to HQ." Kono wants to see her boss now that she knows the case of the attack will be in good hands with Scott Mountin.

"You're right, Kono. Scott, we'll talk later?"

"Yeah, sure, Chin."

They say their goodbyes and are on their way to finally meet with Danny and Steve.



*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*



Steve is glad to finally lie back down in a relatively comfortable bed. One of the orderlies helped him use the bathroom before he settled in bed. He's lying on the covers, clad in cargoes and t-shirt. His boots are off and he's feeling pretty good. His headache has abated a little and he's not so dizzy anymore. And wonder of wonders, it seems that the anti-nausea medication is doing its job for the first time since he can remember. That stuff never worked for him before. Well, there's a first for everything.

He promised Lt. Nokes that he will stay put at least until the IV bag runs out, and he's going to do just that. Besides he really is tired and some shut eye will probably do him some good. He feels a little guilty taking a nap in the middle of the day, but hey, he was beaten up pretty good not even an hour ago.

He feels embarrassed about it, getting beaten up like that by some guy without any special training. Not his best hour. Which brings him to how he is handling the 'Danny-situation'. That is most definitely not his finest hour. If he is honest with himself, the brief stay in the hospital will give him some time to think about what happened. Why he was so hurt by what Danny said and why he feels so betrayed.

Danny doesn't trust me. That is what he always comes back to. And there is that little voice that is getting louder by the minute, telling him that Danny is right not to trust him. If I cannot even take care of myself, if I'm always running into trouble, needing therapy to keep my head straight, maybe I really shouldn't run Five-0. Or any operation, for that matter.

Steve thinks about what he could do if he stepped back from Five-0, something he thought he would never do. He left the door open to get back to active duty. Maybe that is something he should look into. But then he has Catherine to consider. She transferred to Hawaii to be with him. He can't just pick up and leave.

If Danny thinks that I'm not fit to be in charge, why the heck is he still sticking around? Maybe just to keep the others safe. Something Danny thinks I'm not capable of doing. Steve tries to figure out if that is what Danny has always thought about him or if it is a recent development. But all this thinking makes his head throb more and the pain makes him feel sick again.

Steve closes his eyes and tries to relax and not think about Danny anymore. He is not aware that his thoughts are running in a direction that is totally ridiculous and Danny never said anything like what Steve thought he heard. He's starting to doze off when the door opens, but he's too far gone to care who wants to take a look at him now. He knows they will prod him again or check his IV or something. As long as they don't shine a light in his eyes again, he's fine with whatever they wanna do. So he's not moving and hopes to slip deeper into sleep, he's almost gone anyway.

"Steve?"

Shit. How did he get in here?

"Steve, are you awake?" Danny tries again, when his friend didn't react after his first call.

"I was just dozing off." Steve tells him sleepily without opening his eyes.

"I'm sorry, Steve, but we need to talk. And it can't wait any longer. So please open your eyes and look at me. I need you to listen to me." Danny just wants his friend to know that he didn't mean to hurt him and that Steve needs to know what he really meant.

"Yes, we need to talk, but not now. Danny, I don't care if you can't wait any longer. I can't do this right now." Steve sounds a little angry, that Danny thinks he has to listen to him so that he can get something off his chest. "I just got my head smashed in and it is killing me, Danny. I feel sick. So please, let me go to sleep. We'll talk later, and I will listen to you, but not now." Steve would normally not even tell anyone that he's in pain, but he's really sick again and someone is obviously taking great pleasure in hammering on the inside of his head.

"Are you okay?" Danny's voice sounds very concerned all of a sudden, a great change from just a moment ago.

"Right now I don't feel so good. Danny, can you please get a nurse? I'm gonna be sick." Steve still hasn't opened his eyes and turns onto his side, the nausea from earlier is back with a vengeance, now that he's awake again and he's pretty sure that he will puke any minute now. Something he's not looking forward to, since he doesn't even have anything in his stomach to come up.

It takes only a minute for Danny to come back with a nurse, just in time to help Steve while he throws up. Since his stomach is totally empty, nothing but bile comes up and the dry heaves leave Steve panting. The pain in his head reached a completely new level by the exertion of his sickness. Steve is groaning because of the agony that has developed in the last few minutes.

"Commander, can you hear me? What's wrong? Is it your head? Has the pain gotten worse?" Lt. Nokes is back and this time she brought Lt. Commander Summers with her, who has treated Steve a few times before.

"Hurts… bad." Steve is barely conscious by now.

"Commander, stay with us, don't fall asleep. Come on, you have to stay awake." Summers looks down at her patient who is pressing his palm against his forehead in a feeble attempt to quell the pain. She can hear him softly groaning, he is obviously in a great amount of pain. She looks up at one of the orderlies. "Get us a gurney, we need to take him up for an MRI right now. Did you call Dr. Hope?"

"He is not at the hospital at the moment but I left a message for him." Lt. Nokes answers her superior.

"Okay. Nokes, stay with McGarrett. Call me as soon as the MRI is done. Put him in the ICU afterwards, just to be on the safe side." LCDR Summers watches her patient and Nokes leave. Dr. Summers then turns to Detective Williams, who looks a little lost and very worried. "Detective, what happened before he got sick?"

"Nothing, we talked and then he said he felt sick."

"When you came in here, which by the way, you were not supposed to do, was he awake?"

"Not really."

"Did you wake him?" Summers doesn't look very happy or friendly at the moment.

"Kind of." Danny must admit that it was probably not his smartest move to wake his friend after all.

"Detective, there was a reason why you were not allowed to see him the next four hours. We were hoping to avoid this. You know how he reacts to concussions. We were hoping if he would sleep for a few hours that he would not suffer any pain attacks. That is shot to hell now." Looking up and seeing the devastation on the detective's face, she softens her voice, "look Detective, I'm not saying that you were the cause. I'm just saying that he needs to rest. Maybe we are lucky and this was an isolated occurrence."

"He has been suffering from a headache for the last two days, even went to see Mark yesterday. Maybe that is just what this was about." Danny doesn't want to think that his friend would have to suffer for weeks again, like the last time he received a blow to the head.

"We will know more after the MRI. I'll keep you informed. But you will not see him again in the next few hours. Go back to work and I'll call you as soon as something happens. And Detective, I'm sure he will be fine." She hopes so.

"Thank you. Please call me when he wakes up. I'll be back later." Danny turns to leave and almost runs into Chin and Kono who have finally found their way over to the hospital.

Danny fills them in on the condition Steve is in, and Chin informs him about what happened.

"He was attacked for nothing?" Danny can't believe that his friend would run into trouble, even when he's not looking for it at all.

They leave the hospital after making sure that not only Summers has their number but also the nurse’s station of the ICU, where their friend will be transferred as soon as his MRI is completed.



*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

Chapter Text

PD – Chapter 10

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam

Great. Ended up in a darn gown anyway. Steve is not happy when he finally finds his way back to wakefulness. It's clear right away that he's not lying in a private room, but what seems to be some sort of ICU. Wires are attached to his chest, leading to the monitor behind his bed that is beeping in a slow regular rhythm.

Other than a very mild headache and an aching right hip and belly he's feeling rather good. There is still an IV attached to the back of his left hand, but thankfully there are no other tubes shoved into him. Thank Goodness for small favors.

When Steve hears a shuffling noise he opens his eyes to a sight he did not expect. "Mark?"

"Nice of you to join us again." Dr. Mark Hope doesn't look happy.

"Um… Hi?" Steve looks around but sees that they are alone.

"How do you feel?" Mark moves closer to his patient and pulls his penlight out. When he sees Steve grimacing even before he turns it on, he can't quite suppress the grin. But he puts the light back into his pocket.

"Thank you. I feel pretty good. What are you doing here?" Steve pushes himself a little higher up in bed and raises the headrest so that he's almost fully sitting up. He is happy not to get dizzy from the motion.

"Your doctor, Lt. Nokes called me. You had them really worried. But I told them that you checking out for a while is just your typical MO after a blow to the head." Mark smiles at his friend. "Besides didn't I tell you to call me if you got hit in the head? Steve, you know you can't joke around with a concussion. You’ve had too many head trauma already."

"I wasn't joking around. I didn't even put up a fight when she admitted me." Steve has no intention of taking any head injury lightly and he has said so on numerous occasions to almost all of his friends. But every time he ends up with a bump to the head they bring it up again. As if he would run and just leave the hospital. "No one gives me any credit for doing the right thing." Steve grumbles under his breath.

"Ever wonder why that is?" Mark smiles at him; of course he heard him.

Steve only glares at him. "So, Mark, what's the verdict?"

"Well, your MRI looks good. But I agree with Lt. Nokes that you suffered a mild concussion. I'd rather have you stay here over night, but, let me finish, I'm sure you won't. I think it's safe for you to leave, but, Steve, please take it easy for a couple of days. No unnecessary risks. Step back a little. You have a good team, don't be the first to run in. Let someone else kick in the door for a few days." Mark knows of course what he is asking and that it won't happen.

"Okay. Did you give me anything? My head doesn't hurt much." Steve swings his legs out of bed and has to laugh at the gown he's wearing. But at least they left him in his underwear.

"Yes, I shot you up with the same drug as yesterday," Mark tells him as he disconnects him from the monitors and takes the IV out. "And this time keep taking the pills. Steve, they won't make you drowsy or anything, they will only help with the pain."

"I forgot this morning, it was not intentional."

"Yeah, well, don't forget again," Mark shakes his head at his patient who has become a friend over the last few months.

Steve inwardly groans when he looks at his watch; it's past 1700. He slept half a day away. Not good at all, he needs to catch up with his team and the investigation. He feels totally out of the loop. And he needs to find out why he was attacked, he still has no idea why that even happened. "Mark, you know where my clothes are?"

"They are in the bathroom, you get changed and I’ll drive you by HQ. It's on the way."

"Thank you." Steve gets off the bed gingerly, but he's not getting dizzy or nauseous. It's a great improvement from earlier.

His surprise must have shown on his face, because Mark comments on it. "What, you thought I'd let you out of bed, if I thought you would get sick?" Mark Hope looks in amusement at Steve who seems rather surprised at how good he is actually feeling.

"Has Cath been here at any point?" Steve calls out of the bathroom where he is changing into his clothes.

"No, she's not on the base."

"What do you mean she's not on base? She should be." Steve comes out of the bathroom looking for his boots. Seeing them standing at the end of the bed he bends down to pick them up. When he gets back up he needs to hold on to the bed as he gets dizzy from the movement.

"Don't do that, Steve." Mark was right at his side when Steve sways. "Sit down for a minute. Don't change positions that fast. You okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine." Steve puts his shoes on and this time comes back up a lot slower than before, which results in him not getting dizzy at all. "What do you mean, Cath is not on base? Where is she?"

"She is at Kaneohe Bay. Attending a conference at the Marine Corps Base. They said she will be back later tonight." Mark tells Steve what he learned about Catherine's whereabouts.

"Oh, okay. Have you been here the whole time?" Steve clips his gun and badge to his belt and is ready to leave.

"No, I went back to Queens when it was clear that you're okay and just needed to sleep for a bit. I’ve only been back here for about half an hour. What's wrong, are you in pain?" Mark looks at Steve who is gently pressing his hand on his lower belly and stands slightly bent forward.

"No, it's okay. Guess the bruises are making themselves known, my belly hurts a little. I don't remember getting kicked, but there is a lot of bruising, so I guess Thomas got some good kicks in." Steve straightens up and the sudden stabbing pain from a minute ago has already abated to a feeling of mild discomfort.

"You were very lucky. Come on, I'll spring you from this joint. I'm sure your team is waiting for you. I'm surprised that Danny's not here. You are normally joined at the hip." Mark had wondered for a while now where the detective was.

"He's at HQ. No need for him to watch me sleep." Steve leaves it at that. He has no intention of discussing the subject with anyone but Danny.



*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*



Five-0 Headquarters

"Danny, shouldn't one of us stay with Steve?" Kono asks. She hadn’t really wanted to leave the hospital and tries again to persuade Danny that one of them should have stayed there.

"No, his doctor said she wouldn't let us see him anyway. Besides, you know Steve, he'll just sleep it off and will be his old self in a couple of hours. Don't worry, Kono, he is fine." Danny knows that he would normally not have left the hospital but what good would it be if he just hung around there without being able to see his friend?

"Danny, he is in the ICU. That is not fine." Kono doesn't understand why Danny doesn't even seem to be worried.

"Kono, he is only there for observation. He is not seriously injured. I think they put him there so we can't get to him. Really, stop worrying, he will be fine."

"If he is so fine, why did they call Dr. Hope?"

That is something that has worried Danny to no end. And he won't admit it, but when he saw his friend in so much pain, something he most likely caused, Danny slightly panicked. He remembers very vividly what a concussion can mean for Steve. He truly hopes that Steve will be okay. "Kono, all the stuff they are doing is just a precaution. They know Steve's history of head trauma. They are just careful. Now, we have a job to do. Agent Levin will be here in about an hour. Have we found any new information from the crime scene photos?"

Chin, Kono and Danny go over the photos again in the hope of finding some connection between the victims. Danny fills them in on Steve's theory of two separate crimes, the A plus and B plus. Danny tells them about the pattern Max detected and what Steve made of the number of stab wounds. But after looking at it from that angle they must admit that they don't see any connection at all.

An hour later they haven't accomplished anything and are glad to get interrupted by Special Agent Niles Levin.



*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*



After Steve said his goodbye to Mark with the promise of taking his pain pills later tonight, he makes his way into HQ to meet with his team. He knows that he missed the meeting with Agent Levin, but he also knows that the three remaining Five-0 will fill him in soon enough. And besides he is not sad to have missed seeing Levin again.

Steve takes the stairs to their floor a little slower than usual since his belly is bothering him again. After the sudden intense pain he experienced at the hospital he only felt a slight discomfort on the way over. Now the pain seems to pick up a notch again. He's just happy that Thomas didn't aim any lower than he did. It's painful enough as it.

Steve stops in his tracks when he hears laughter coming from their offices. He stands at the double glass door and looks in, seeing his team and Agent Levin gathered around the smart table, laughing at something Levin just told them. They are obviously getting along just fine.

Steve opens the door and walks in, putting on a hopefully neutral face.

"Agent Levin," Steve greets the NCIS man with a nod of his head.

"McGarrett." Levin's voice changes as soon as he starts talking to Steve.

"So, what did I miss," Steve looks at his team but avoids looking at Danny.

"Well, Steve, while you were taking a nap we gathered all the evidence and went over it with Agent Levin. He filled us in on the seven murders on the mainland. You can read the report later. We were just heading out, Chin and Kono will go see Dr. Webster's daughter. And Niles and I will go and talk to Max, he called with some new evidence. We will be back in about an hour." Danny tells him matter of factly.

Everyone can clearly hear that he's not in a good mood. Which actually causes Steve to look at him, but before he can even voice any agreement or disagreement for that matter, Danny and Levin are already on their way out. At least Chin and Kono stay behind with him.

"Welcome back, Steve… How are you?... I'm fine, thanks for asking." Steve mutters at the retreating form of his partner. Well, so much for being welcomed back. He is not happy about Danny going out with Levin, excuse me, Niles. And he is even less happy that he is still in the dark, not just about the serial killer, but also about why he was attacked, and if that has anything to do with their case.

"Boss, are you okay? What did Mark say?" Kono speaks up and brings Steve out of his thoughts.

"I'm sorry, Kono, what?"

"Are you okay?" Kono looks at her boss with a critical eye. She still can't understand what just happened, why Danny would just leave without even asking Steve how he was.

"Yes, I'm fine. Thanks for asking." Steve smiles at his two friends. It's not their fault that he and Danny are at odds right now. "Can you tell me what happened after I passed out? I still have no idea why Thomas attacked me. And did Levin have anything interesting to say?"

It only takes Chin and Kono ten minutes to bring their boss up to speed. They tell him about their 'interview' with Dale Thomas, how Steve's quiet behavior had led him to believe that he was made. They tell him that Agent Mountin is waiting for his call. And they tell him about the information Levin brought them, which is practically nothing.

"So, we don't know anything more than before?" Steve will think about Thomas at a later point, right now the serial killer has priority.

"That about sums it up." Chin tells his friend. "Is it okay if we go and talk to Claire Webster, or do you want to come?"

"No, that's fine. You two go. Kono, I take it the interviews with HPD were also not much help?" Steve didn't expect anything to come out of them.

"That was a total waste of time." Kono tells him frustrated.

"Well, file it under experience. Not your fault, we didn't expect them to help in any way. I'm going to take another look at the crime scene. I take it, we’ll meet here again later?" At least Danny said he would be back after they talked to Max.

"Okay, brah. See you later." Chin watches his friend for any signs that he is not as okay as he said he is. But Steve looks perfectly fine, except for the small cut at his temple that was obviously treated with some glue.

Steve watches his team mates leave and after a short moment he decides not to dwell over Danny's strange behavior any longer.

He is already half way out the building when he realizes that he still doesn't have any transportation. Since Danny picked him up this morning his truck has been parked at his house. It would be a waste of time to get his truck first, so he heads back in to snatch the keys for their SUV, which they have used various times before. Finally after getting the key, he's on his way out of HQ and calls Scott Mountin as he drives towards Dr. Webster's office.

He wants to check the crime scene again, hoping to get some kind of inspiration.

Ten minutes later he ends his call with the NCIS agent and has learned what the attack on him was all about and what will happen with PO Thomas and Lt. O'Hare. Steve can hardly believe that without even knowing it, he brought a drug ring to light. Too bad he wasn't aware of it at the time. It would have saved him a lot of pain.

A couple of minutes later he parks his car and makes his way over to Dr. Webster's office. To walk a crime scene always causes a somber feeling. And it's no different with this scene even after it has been processed and is left abandoned.

Steve first takes a look around the outer office that was used as a waiting area for Dr. Webster's patients. He looks through the doctor’s assistant’s desk, not a very interesting task since all the files are already at HQ. But that is not why Steve is here.

The outer office doesn’t 'tell' him anything, so he moves on to the inner office. He has seen quite a lot of psychiatrists’ offices during his years in the Navy. His annual evaluations were always done in different offices of different psychiatrists, depending on where he was stationed at that time and who was available. And of course he has seen some of JoJo's different offices. Steve likes her latest one the most, he feels comfortable there.

The office he’s standing in right now feels cold and somehow not real. Something is missing, but he can't quite grasp what it is that makes him feel uneasy.

Steve goes around the desk and looks down at the now dried pool of blood soaked into the carpet. He can only imagine how terrified Dr. Webster must have been in her last moments. He looks at the blood spatter everywhere and shudders involuntarily.

He wonders how the killer was able to kill the first victims without giving the second victims a chance to do anything. He would imagine if a person gets stabbed in front of someone, everyone would try to do something. Fight or flight. But they couldn't find any signs of struggle in any of the eight cases, which leads Steve to believe that their killer must have superior skills. Or there was more than one killer.

Steve sits down in Dr. Webster's chair, wincing slightly by the discomfort sitting causes him. Thankfully the pain in his head is kept at bay by the shot Mark gave him. And Steve has every intention to keep it that way. He already filled the prescription Mark gave him, right at the hospital pharmacy. His headache is just a dull throbbing right now, a very welcome change from the intense pain he suffered just a few hours ago.

Steve leans back in the chair and looks around, something is not right and he just can't see what it is. And then it hits him. The splatter free space on the desk where Dr. Webster's personal organizer was lying yesterday. He remembers it clearly, because the open book was covered with blood splatter. He knows it was not on the evidence list, so where is the book? Who took it?

He takes his phone out and calls Charlie Fong, who was processing most of the evidence. Two minutes later he knows for sure that the book didn't make it into evidence. How the heck did it disappear while the scene was crawling with police? Maybe it was just misplaced, an honest mistake. But Steve doesn't believe in coincidences.

A noise from the outer office brings Steve to his feet only to double over from an incredible pain shooting through his belly. But as fast as it came, it leaves him again. Steve straightens up and makes his way silently to the halfway open door. He can see a man in his twenties looking around the office.

"Five-0, what are you doing here?" Steve steps out of the office and confronts the young man.

Steve obviously startled him, he throws the book he had in his hands at Steve and dashes out the door.

Why do they always have to run? Steve takes off after the man, who was either just using the opportunity for a breaking and entering, or has something to do with the murders. Either way, he needs to be brought in for questioning.

But for that, Steve needs to catch him first. While he is running down the stairs after the suspect he gets his phone out and calls HPD to request back-up.

The young man is a fast runner and Steve needs to pull out all his reserves to keep up with him.



*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*



Steve's boots hit the pavement hard and with every step, a shot of pain goes straight into his brain. He has no idea how much longer he will be able to chase the suspect. It feels like they had run the last mile at full speed. His lungs are screaming for air, for some reason he can't seem to get enough of it right now. Steve is panting and he's not sure, which is screaming louder to stop, his right hip and his belly or his head.

He won't stop though; actually he's getting closer to the suspect. For the first time since they started their chase, it seems the guy is slowing down. Steve is dodging cars as they cross Waiakamilo Road, and he almost gets clipped by a van when he darts in front of it. Steve and his 'prey' leave a concert of honking horns and wildly cursing drivers behind.

Steve has thought a few times now to just get his gun out and simply shoot the guy running in front of him, but that is only the very last resort. Besides, it appears the runner is not armed. And Steve won't shoot an unarmed suspect in the back. He can hear sirens in the distance. It's about damn time. Steve wonders why the heck it took them so long to send any back-up. He called it in when they left the doctor's office, which feels like ages ago.

Steve is now doubling his effort to get closer to the young man still running a good fifteen feet in front of him. Steve hasn’t managed to reduce the distance up until now. Steve curses when he sees that North Nimitz Highway is in front of them. It will not be easy to get across. If his runner keeps going that way, they will be down at the harbor in a few minutes.

By now Steve has managed to ignore all the pain signals his body was sending to his brain. There is the fierce pain radiating from his lower right belly and hip, and the agony that has taken up residence in his head again. He is sure Mark would have a fit if he knew what Steve was just doing.

They reach the crossroad at the corner of Nimitz and Waiakamilo. Luck will have it that the crossing traffic has a red light, so they run across without any danger of being hit by oncoming cars. But it's still dangerous enough to run between the cars going their way. The sirens are very close now and out of the corner of his eye he can see a very familiar car heading their way. The Camaro is still a good distance away, but his back-up will be here soon.

Steve shakes his head a little at the stupidity of his running suspect, because by the direction he is heading, he will run out of ground really soon. This way only leads to the end of the pier, and after that it's just the harbor basin. Left and right of them, containers are coming into view; maybe his runner hopes to disappear among them.

A huge stack of containers is now in front of them and his suspect decides to go to the left of it, nearer to the water. Steve follows in hot pursuit, hearing that the Camaro has just reached the harbor grounds behind him. But he can't pay attention to it right now because he's getting closer to his runner… just a few more feet and he will finally be able to stop him. He estimates he will be on him at the end of the containers.

He is... but not as he hoped. They are just a couple of feet apart, almost in tackling distance, when they come back into the open. Out of nowhere something silvery invades Steve's peripheral vision. He has no time to think; he sees it happen like in slow motion. The runner in front of him has even less time than Steve. He doesn’t have time to react and impacts with the standing car, flies head over heels over the hood and tumbles down into the water with a splash.

Steve has just enough time to jump and try to get over the hood of the car that was so suddenly in front of him. He almost makes it, but his right foot catches the wheel case and he crashes down on the hood. The impact is hard; it leaves a dent in the hood and all the air rushes out of his lungs. Steve can only roll with the motion and tries to protect his head as best he can. Next thing he knows, the water is rushing his way. He splashed down into the harbor basin right after his runner.



*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

Chapter Text

Protective Detail – Chapter 11

Parking lot ME's Office

"So, Danny, you wanna grab a bite to eat before we head back?" Niles Levin looks at the second in command of Five-0 as they're making their way over to the car. He is not sure what he thinks of him. If one of his subordinates talked to him like Williams did with McGarrett, there would be hell to pay. The NCIS man might not like McGarrett much, but he has a lot of respect for the guy and can't understand how Williams was treating him. After all, McGarrett is his boss.

"No, I think we should head back. Converse with the team before we call it a night." To tell the truth, Danny just wants to go back to Steve. He feels really bad about how he acted when Steve came back to HQ. But he wanted to get out with Levin and if he had talked to Steve, that would never have happened. Danny is sure that Steve will have some choice words for him when he gets back. He knows that Steve ordered them not to go out with Levin and Danny ignored that. Unfortunately Danny didn't even accomplish what he hoped for from this trip.

"Okay, sure." Levin thinks the best approach to get an insight into their team dynamic is the direct approach. "You don't like your boss much, do you?"

"What? Why do you say that?" Danny looks at the agent.

"Well, the way you showed your disrespect and all. I just assumed you're not happy with him being in charge."

"Listen, Steve is not only my boss but also my friend. And I have nothing but respect for him. And quite frankly, I think you're out of line asking such a question."

"Okay. I'm sorry. I won't say anything again, but you have a funny way showing your respect." Levin says as they sit down in the car, but it's clear that he doesn't believe a word Danny just said.

- All units close to Dillingham Blvd – Five-0 requesting back-up – pursuit on foot – repeat Commander McGarrett requests back-up – Waiakanilo Road and Hart Street – towards Harbor

Dispatch repeats the request for back-up again with more details, but Danny is already speeding out of the parking lot. "What the…" Danny got in gear as soon as he heard the words Five-0. He's switching lights and sirens on as he turns into the street. The ME's office is practically right around the corner of the pursuit and it only takes them a minute to speed down North Nimitz Hwy towards Waiakanilo Road

Danny enters the harbor grounds just as Steve vanishes behind a stack of containers. He decides to go around them on the right and cut into the fugitive’s path.

He speeds towards the pier's edge and comes to a screeching halt just before they almost land in the basin. He cringes when the suspect impacts with his car but even more so a second later when Steve crashes onto the hood of his Camaro. Before Danny or Levin can even get out of the car he watches in horror as his friend flies head over heels into the water.



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It's a shock to be suddenly surrounded by water, even though it is kind of Steve's element. The crash into the car left him in a daze and he tumbled over the hood and down into the water without any control over his limbs. He crashed down at an awkward angle and was immediately deeply submerged. The sensation was like an electric shock going through him.

Steve needed a moment to orient himself, but he is now swimming with strong strokes back to the surface and pops out of the water like a cork out of a champagne bottle. After the exhausting run and the impact robbed him of his last reserves, he now gulps in huge amounts of air. He hears yelling from somewhere above but only has a fleeting thought about it, because his runner is still on the run. Well, swimming to be precise. What is this, training for a triathlon? The suspect has already put about ten feet of distance between them and swims towards the shore across the harbor basin.

Steve groans, but starts to swim after his guy. The harbor basin they fell in is about 350 feet wide and the bank on the other side is not a pier but is more like a stony shore and borders on a parking lot. It will be easy to get out of the water.

Both swimmers are rather slow; after the chase and their encounter with Danny's car, neither of them is in top form. So it takes them a little longer to swim across than it normally would. Which gives Danny ample time to get back on the highway, take the next exit and arrive across from the pier at almost the same time Steve and his suspect leave the water.

Steve stumbles out of the water just a couple of feet after the guy he was chasing. Which feels like they have been through all of Honolulu, including the refreshing waters of the harbor. Steve has no intention of letting this go on for any longer. He is tired, he's hurting and he has just had it with this guy. Steve is close enough for a tackle and does just that. He crashes into his suspect's back and they both land on the ground with a loud thud. Accompanied by some choice curses from the both of them.

The runner tries to get back on his feet, but Steve will have none of that and knocks him out cold with one hit. He put every last bit of energy into that punch and sees with satisfaction that his suspect is indeed out like a light.

Steve turns him on his belly and cuffs his hands behind his back. He is just done with that when his team arrives with sirens on full blast. He slowly gets back onto his feet, dripping wet, completely spent, slightly swaying but grinning.

He watches Danny coming closer, looking first at the still unconscious suspect and then at his partner, shaking his head but is also smiling.

"You okay, Steve?" Danny stands now in front of his friend.

"Fine." His swaying betrays his words, but he's still grinning. But he's glad that Danny's close enough that he can lean against him and his friend is keeping him upright. "Book 'em Danno," Steve says as he lays his head on his partner's shoulder, unable to carry his weight alone anymore after the adrenaline rush is fading.

"I've got you, big guy. Come on, let's get you into the car. Chin, a little help here!" Danny holds his friend around the waist and is pretty sure if he'd let go, Steve would slump to the ground like a boneless puppet.

"He was at the crime scene and took off running. Wouldn't stop." Steve is still gulping in air as he tries to fill them in on the suspect. He has his eyes closed against the hammering in his head; every beat of his racing heart feels like a little exploding bomb. "Danny, I feel sick."

"You gonna barf?" Danny has some trouble keeping his friend standing, as he seems to get heavier by the second. Where the heck is Chin?

"Nothing left to throw up. So no, I'm not gonna hurl. Need to sit down. Danny, I'm dizzy." Steve has given up pretending he's fine, everyone can see that he's far from it.

A moment later EMS arrives on the scene, and the EMTs begin tending to the still unconscious suspect and to Steve, who is now sitting in the open door of the ambulance. Someone put a blanket around his shoulders and one of the EMTs tries to persuade him to go to the hospital to get checked out.

"I'm fine." Steve grinds out between stabs of pain going through his lower belly. His right hip didn't take so kindly to his crash into the car. His hip and belly are almost as painful as his head.

"Well, Sir, I wouldn't call this fine, but I guess you're not worse off than before your swim. You should go home and rest. Get out of the wet clothes, take a hot shower and put some ice on the worst bruises and take it easy for a few days." The EMT tells not just Steve, but looks at Danny as well, to make sure he gets the message to take him home.

Steve looks around and can see that Levin is still hanging around. He's talking to Chin and Kono, which leaves him alone with Danny, a bit away from the others. "Danny, can you give me a lift?"

"Yeah, of course. Come on, I'll take you home." Danny knows that asking for help is Steve's way of telling him that he's ready to talk.

"We should talk to that guy first," Steve motions to his suspect, who is now loaded into the ambulance, still unconscious.

"Kono will keep an eye on him, but I doubt they'll let us talk to him tonight. He looks pretty out of it." Danny lends a hand, when Steve gets onto his feet a little unsteadily.

They make their way over to the Camaro and Steve looks at the hood and cringes at the damage done to it.

"Sorry about the car," Steve looks at Danny.

"Are you serious? I almost mowed you over and you apologize?" Danny shakes his head at his friend, but smiles. "And don't get the seat wet."

Steve looks at Danny then at the seat and his still dripping wet pants. "That’s gonna be a little hard to do." He takes the blanket off his shoulders, instantly missing the warmth and puts the folded blanket on the seat and backrest. Steve gingerly sits down, sighing and wincing at the same time. Glad to be off his feet but wincing at the pain sitting still causes. He looks over to Danny, who is watching him like a hawk. "Happy now?" He motions to the folded blanket.

"Ecstatic."

Steve leans his aching head back and mentally prepares for the talk they will have as soon as they pull away from the harbor and the flashing lights of the police cruisers.



*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Danny looks over to Steve who is slouching in the passenger seat, with his head leaning against the headrest. Eyes closed, and he is still trying to catch his breath that is hitching from time to time. Steve has lowered the backrest a little so that he is in a more reclined position. He has opened his belt and his right hand lies under the waistband of his cargoes. It's obvious that the poor guy is in pain.

Seeing his friend so completely drained and in an obvious amount of pain, Danny's decision is clear. He will not take Steve home until they pay Mark a visit first. He is sure that will go over really well with his stubborn friend.

"Hey, buddy, you with me?" Danny softly calls out to his friend.

"Yeah, still here." Steve doesn't open his eyes and keeps the pressure on his belly which is helping a little with the pain. The stabbing sensation came back a couple of minutes ago when he had a small coughing fit from all the salt water he swallowed.

"What's with your belly?"

"Don't know. Hurts pretty bad and I feel really sick." Steve knows that something is wrong; pressing on the side of his belly helps a little, but the pain is still getting worse. When he had to cough a few minutes ago he pressed his hand on his belly hoping to ease the pain a little. While pressing on the very tender spot, he could clearly feel something moving under his touch. "Argh…" Steve is just about to tell Danny to go to the ER instead of home, when his friend turns on lights and sirens and is already speeding toward Queens Medical Center.

"Hang in there, Steven, almost there." Danny looks over in concern; he knows that Steve is normally not fazed by pain. But now his friend is clutching at his belly, which obviously is causing a great amount of pain. He is pale and sweaty, he is panting and his groans are just pitiful. Steve's condition is deteriorating at an alarming rate.

Danny stops right in front of the ER doors and darts out of the car and into the ER, calling for help. When they come back to the Camaro, Steve seems to be zoned out. The two orderlies get him out of the car and onto a gurney where he immediately curls in on himself, groaning from the pain the transfer causes.

Steve is aware of what is happening around him and has a hard time not crying out when he gets hauled out of the car and onto a gurney. He is sure that a gut-shot couldn't hurt worse than this. His stomach is rebelling, but there is still nothing in it that could come up, so he's just retching with bile running down his chin. But he doesn't care, only wishing the incredible pain in his gut would stop.

He is not really sure what is going on, one minute he was running and swimming after a suspect and the next he's whimpering in agony. Steve knows it must have something to do with the kicks he received, but there was no internal injury. Just some muscle damage and bruising.

His wet clothes are clinging to him and he's shivering from the cold. Steve suddenly feels hands on him; he's again transferred, this time from the gurney onto the exam bed in one of the trauma rooms. His boots are taken off and someone is cutting off his pants, underwear and shirt. A warm blanket is spread over him, but is pushed down to allow access to his belly.

When he was transferred from the gurney they gently rolled him onto his back to get his clothes off.

"Commander, tell me where the pain is located," one of the ER doctors talks to him.

Steve thinks it is a pretty dumb question since he's still pressing his right hand on the painful spot on his belly.

"Stabbing pain in my belly," Steve barely groans out.

The doctor moves Steve's hand out of the way and gently but firmly starts his examination of the lower belly. Steve cries out when he presses on the most painful spot but sighs in relief when the pain is completely gone the next second.

"What the hell did you do?" Steve looks up in astonishment, still struggling to catch his breath. The pain is replaced by a dull ache, that is not painful but more like a heavy feeling. He looks from the doctor to his belly and sees that he is pressing on it, which explains the heavy feeling.

"Well, Commander, I put your intestines back in place." The young doctor is grinning at the shocked face that is looking up at him.

"What?"

"Relax, this is nothing serious. You have a small tear in the muscle tissue of the abdominal wall. Judging by the bruising, you received some kicks to your belly in the, I'd say, last eight hours?"

"Yeah, was beaten up this morning." Steve tells him, still a little out of breath.

"One of those kicks must have caused the tear. That wouldn’t be so dramatic, but heavy activity, coughing, or straining of any kind can cause the intestines to billow out of that tear. It's called a hernia but you are in luck. The tear is very small and we will be able to close it easily. But you'll need surgery."

"What?" Steve seems to have lost the ability to form complete sentences.

"It's a really small procedure, not open surgery. There will only be three very small incisions for the endoscopes. You will be out of here in the morning, barring any complications. It's done under general anesthesia."

"Mark won’t be happy about that."

"Mark? Commander, who is Mark?"

"Mark Hope, my neurologist."

"You have your own neurologist?" Dr. Dyke, which Steve now reads, asks while he is putting some heavy, flat patches on Steve's belly.

"Kind of. Right now he's treating me for a concussion and a few months ago for a more serious head trauma." Steve looks in interest at how Dr. Dyke secures the weights on his belly.

"You suffered a concussion this morning? Okay, then general anesthesia is out. I'm sure they will do it with an epidural instead, but don't worry, you won't feel a thing either way.

"Is the surgery really necessary? I feel fine now. Well, kind of."

"Commander, the sooner the better. Right now, this will be a small procedure that won’t slow you down much. You should stay out of the field for a couple of days, just to avoid any hits or kicks, but you can return to full work at the end of the week. You might feel some discomfort the next couple of weeks, but you should be just fine. However, if you wait, we're talking about several risks. First, when this happens again you could be looking at strangulated intestines, and that is a life threatening condition that requires emergency surgery. Furthermore, the tear will spread. Right now it's so small that you didn't even feel a bulge when something slipped out. Normally this wouldn't even cause this much pain, but because of the massive deep tissue bruising, you're in a world of hurt. And because of the bruising, I can only urge you to do the surgery right now."

"Okay. Let's get this over with. But I can leave tomorrow morning?" Steve will not stay any longer than absolutely necessary.

"Don't worry, Commander. This kind of surgery is normally done in the morning and the patient walks out in the early afternoon. It is really no big deal," Dr. Dyke assures Steve again.

"I’ve heard that before," Steve grumbles under his breath.

Dr. Dyke smiles at his patient and calls upstairs to get an OR. "Oh, okay. Reserve it for McGarrett, please. Thank you." Dr. Dyke turns back to Steve after hanging up the phone. "Slight change of plans, Commander. There is no OR right now, but one will be available in an hour or ninety minutes, tops. We will put you into trauma 2, and will prep you for surgery in the next hour. Did I see a friend of yours come in with you? It’s a lot quieter in there and he can stay with you if you like."

"Yeah, thank you."

"Okay, good. Sorry, but we have to transfer you again onto the gurney. But you can stay on it until you get up to the OR."

Dr. Dyke and two nurses have Steve over onto the gurney without much hassle and only minimal pain for Steve. One of the nurses, her nametag says Ono, tugs the blanket around him and asks if he's comfortable.

"Can you raise the headrest a little more, please?"

Ono adjusts the bed into a half sitting position but not too high, so that the weights on his lower belly are in no danger of slipping off. "I will take you over to trauma two and start an IV. Everything okay, Commander?" Ono looks at her patient who is shifting somewhat on his gurney.

"I need to use the bathroom."

"Oh. Sorry, but you can't get up. But we'll take care of it right away. I know the weights are uncomfortable on your bruises, they will come off soon."

Ten minutes later Steve is wheeled out of the main trauma room over to a smaller one.

"I'll tell your friend where to find you. Here on the left is a call button, press it if you need anything," Ono tells Steve after inserting the IV. "I'll be back in a few minutes to check on you." Ono makes her way out to inform his partner, who’d already run into Dr. Dyke.



*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*



Danny watches his friend disappearing into the main trauma room. A young doctor rushes in after him, but the door closes again and Danny can't see his partner anymore. A nurse calls out to him to follow her to her station.

"Detective, we need some information on your friend." The nurse hands Danny a clipboard with some papers on it. "Please fill those out and give them back to me."

"You already have Commander McGarrett's information in your database." Danny tries to give the clipboard back.

"Sorry, but it is policy to fill it out," the nurse tells him with regret. "You can sit over there." She motions to a row of chairs across from the nurses' station.

"Fine." Danny grabs the clipboard from the counter and makes his way over to the seats. It's not the first time that Danny has had to fill out those damn forms. This time it takes him barely ten minutes to get all the information down on paper.

He is just back at the nurses' station when Dr. Dyke comes out of the trauma room Steve disappeared into a while ago.

"Dr. Dyke! Hi, I'm Detective Williams. I'm here with Commander McGarrett. How is he?" Danny intercepts the doctor before he can walk out of the ER.

"He will be fine. We're waiting for an OR to be free, and then we will take him upstairs."

"What? He needs surgery? What for, what's wrong with him?" Danny wants to know.

Dr. Dyke tells him the diagnosis and what will happen in the coming hours. How they will fix the problem and what to expect after it.

"He can leave in the morning?" Danny is not so sure he can believe that.

"Yes. Detective, I’ve already told your partner it really is no big deal. I know it didn't look like it when you brought him in. But you'll see, he is fine now. You can go and sit with him until he goes into prep for surgery." Dr. Dyke motions for Danny to go see his friend.

"Thank you." Danny shakes hands with the doctor and turns to meet with his friend. And this time he will not leave him alone in the hospital again.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Chapter Text

Protective Detail – Chapter 12

Queens Medical Center

Steve has just settled back against the pillow when the door opens again.

"Hey, can I come in?" Danny looks around the door and enters after Steve motions for him to come in. "How do you feel?" Danny asks while he rolls a stool next to the gurney.

"As long as I don't move I feel okay. My head still hurts though." Steve pushes himself up a little higher hoping to get a bit more comfortable. The weights on his belly are starting to hurt; they are pressing down on the bruises and causing a constant, although mild, pain.

"Did they give you anything for the pain?" Danny can see that not only his head is hurting.

"No. They can't because of the surgery. It's not too bad.” Steve glances at his friend and then changes the subject. “Danny, we need to talk."

"I know." Danny looks at his friend and can see the exhaustion and pain in his eyes. But it's not physical pain this time, it's the emotional pain he caused his friend. "I'm really sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you. Steve, I swear, I was not talking about you. Please believe me."

"What am I supposed to believe, Danny? You said if someone needs to see a shrink to do their job, they shouldn't be in charge. I need professional help to do my job, Danny. Have needed it for years now. And I think I've been pretty good at my job so far. But apparently you think I shouldn't even lead a troop of boy scouts, let alone an elite task force." Steve talks to his friend; his voice is low and it's clear it isn’t easy for him to discuss it. And then he tells Danny what really hurt him. "You said you wouldn't want to be partnered with someone who seeks therapy or takes medication."

"Steve, that is not true. You are very good at your job. You are a great leader of Five-0 and the best partner I have ever had. Steve, I know I said those things. But I was not talking about you. Yes, I think that Lt. Miller shouldn't be in charge of people, I think he is unstable. My choice of words was really stupid and I apologize for that. But, Steve, you are very different from Miller." Danny has trouble finding the right words so that his friend will understand him.

"I'm not different, Danny. I've seen and done a lot of shit. And I struggle sometimes, just like Miller. You put everyone who is seeking help to cope with their lives, in one pot. Apparently everyone who is in therapy must be crazy and cannot be allowed to be a part of your little world. I hate to tell you, Danny, but a lot more people should seek help, but don't. Your view of people who do, me included, just makes me sick. And angry. You have no right to judge me or anyone else who is seeing a therapist.” His voice lowers as he continues, “It’s obvious you don't trust me, and that makes me really sad. Because I trust you with everything, not just my life." Steve can no longer look at his partner, he lays his aching head back and closes his eyes.

"Steve, I am so sorry. I know I need to think good and hard about what I said about Miller. But I swear you never entered my mind. I trust you with my life, with the life of my daughter. Steven, you are my best friend. I have nothing but respect for you. Please look at me." Danny has no idea how to fix what the damage his simple words have caused, carelessly spoken words which were really not directed at his partner. When Steve looks at him, they lock eyes and he continues, "I trust you as my boss, as my partner and as my best friend. And I am truly sorry for what I said. It was stupid and I was talking before I even thought. Please, Steve, I would never judge you, you have to know that."

Steve looks at his friend and can see the sincerity, truth, sadness and regret in his face. Steve relaxes a little and let a small smile grace his features. "Thank you. And I love you too."

"Moron." But Danny smiles back, he knows that his friend has forgiven him.

"There is one other thing we need to talk about." Steve shifts again and can't quite keep the groan in. The pressure on his belly is slowly getting unbearable.

"Hey, what's wrong? Are you in pain, you need me to call someone?"

"Already did." Steve motions to the call button.

"Commander, what's wrong?" Ono answers his call and steps closer to him.

"Can you take the weights off? It really hurts."

"I'm sorry, Commander. I know they are causing pain because of all the bruises. Can you hold out for another half hour? Then we will prep you for surgery and they can come off."

"Okay." Steve knows he can endure this for another half hour.

"Can't you give him anything? His head is bothering him too." Danny speaks up for his friend.

"Commander, your head hurts? How bad?"

"About a seven," Steve admits as he lies back down, feeling a little dizzy.

"Are you dizzy, nauseous?" Nurse Ono is looking at him with a critical eye now.

"Both."

"Okay, I'm going to call Dr. Dyke and ask him about pain medication. Because of the surgery, you didn't get anything. But since you won't get a general anesthesia they need to do something about your headache anyway. The epidural won't help with that."

"Is Dr. Hope still on duty? Can you call him please?" Steve is pretty sure that Mark will not be happy if he isn’t informed.

"I'll call him and see if he can come down. Hang in there for a few more minutes," Ono informs him before she leaves them alone again.

"What did you want to talk about, Steve?" Danny thinks that distraction might be a good idea.

"You and Levin." Steve tells him without opening his eyes.

"Steve, that was no big deal. You know, I wanted to learn more about Levin, before I judge him." Danny looks at his friend.

"You didn't believe me, did you? What I told you about him." Steve opens his eyes again and looks at his friend.

"Steve, you were seriously injured during the op, and your friend died in front of you. Sometimes we just need someone we can blame for what happened. And maybe…"

"Are you saying it was my fault?" Steve doesn't even wait for Danny to finish his sentence.

"No! No, Steve, that's not what I'm saying at all. I'm just saying that it makes it easier if we can blame someone. And sometimes we might not be able to see the big picture." Danny wants his friend to understand him.

"The big picture, Danny? The big picture is that Levin is to blame for the busted op and Dan's death. I don't care if you think my judgment was impaired due to my injuries. Levin left his post and declared a place clear that he never had eyes on. And this is not even about that, Danny. You went against my orders. I said no field work between any of my team and Levin. Don't ever ignore an order again, Danny." Steve doesn't know how to make Danny see that he didn't just ignore an order. But that he went against him.

"It was not like we went after a suspect, you know. We went to see Max. Not a high risk trip." Danny tries to make light of it.

"You don't get it, do you? I told you not to go out with Levin, but you ignored me. I don't care where you went with him. I don't want you or Kono or Chin to go with him as the back-up. Do I make myself clear now?" Steve doesn't trust Levin and he simply doesn't want any of his team alone with him.

"Yeah, I get it. It won't happen again." Danny looks at his friend, "Steve? I didn't mean to undermine your authority. You know that, right?"

"Yes, Danny, I know that. But if I give you an order, which I rarely do, I expect you to follow it." Steve is not really mad at Danny for 'disobeying' an order; that is not how Five-0 works anyway. He is just worried that something might happen while Levin is with them. "If you're out with Levin again, make sure that at least one of us is there with you. I don't trust him, Danny."

"Okay. Hey, you don't look so good. Is the pain getting worse?"

"Head's killing me." Steve rubs his aching temple, but it doesn't help with the hammering in his head.

"Are you having a pain attack?"

"No. It's nothing like that, Danny. I'm just really tired, my head and belly hurts, my hip is aching, I'm hungry and cold. And I'm pissed being stuck in this damn hospital." Steve vents his pent up frustration.

"Hey, who is calling this a damn hospital? Surely not the patient I told less than three hours ago to take it easy? What did I hear about you chasing a suspect through Honolulu on foot, none the less? With a concussion! Taking a swim in the harbor? Are you nuts?" Mark Hope enters the small trauma room and looks down at Steve with a frown on his face.

"I really had no intention of running anywhere. Really. I was taking it easy, sitting around when that guy came out of nowhere. AND I called for back-up, but HPD took forever to respond." Steve feels the need to defend his actions from earlier in the day.

"Yeah, sure. They told me you need surgery?"

"Yeah, something about a tear in my belly? Dr. Dyke said it's no big deal," Steve looks at the one doctor he trusts implicitly for confirmation.

"No, it really isn't. Don't worry. Nurse Ono told me your head hurts pretty badly? Did you hit your head during the chase?" Mark gets his penlight out and this time he is going to use it.

"No, I don't think so. I was a little dazed after I crashed onto the hood of the Camaro but I didn't hit my head." Steve remembers that he protected his head with his arms.

"Okay, let me take a quick look. You need a Neuro-check before the surgery anyway." Mark shines the light into the left eye first, which causes it to water instantly and Steve to groan. "Sorry."

"Uh huh." Steve never thought that such a small light could cause such pain before his first concussion. The doctor who checked him out after he was knocked out at football practice shone that light into his eyes and Steve almost passed out from the pain back then. It's not as bad this time, but his headache increases after the 'light therapy'.

"Well, it doesn't look any worse than it did this afternoon. But I'm actually glad you’re staying the night, so we can keep an eye on you. I'll give you something for the pain and check on you again after your surgery." Mark injects the medication into the IV. "This should help you pretty quick."

"Thanks."

"I'll see you in a few hours, Steve. Danny, good to see you back. I was wondering where you were." Mark smiles at the detective, pats Steve on the shoulder and leaves them alone.

"Well, that went better than I thought," Steve mumbles while he struggles to keep his eyes open. "Wow, that was some heavy duty stuff."

"Steve?" Danny looks at his friend who looks very relaxed all of a sudden.

"Hmm?"

"It's okay, go to sleep. I'll be here when you wake up." Danny watches his friend drift into a painless sleep, aided by the painkiller Mark gave him.

"Hmm, that's good." Steve gives in to the pull sleep has on him and hopes to wake up feeling better. Before he completely drifts off, he wonders why he still hadn't heard from Catherine.



*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Kono looks down at the man they had arrested earlier and has to smile a little, despite the seriousness of the situation. He is a rather pitiful sight. One of the EMTs is in the process of taping his nose, that looks rather swollen and still very bloody.

"How is he doing?" Kono asks the EMT whose name she can read is Mike.

"He'll be fine although your boss got him pretty good," Mike places the last piece of tape on the splint on top of the guy's nose.

"He bust my nose," the suspect said, sounding pretty whiny and not very clever to Kono's ears.

"You're lucky he didn't 'bust' anything else on you." Kono can't quite keep the grin in. "Is he ready to go?" She looks at Mike again.

"Yeah, give me another minute," he checks busted guy's BP, and after another couple of minutes declares him fit to be transported to Five-0 headquarters.

"Come on, get in the car, we have some questions for you," Kono helps him out of the ambulance, which is not easy with his hands cuffed behind his back.

Chin is already waiting next to one of the HPD cruisers. After settling him into the back, Chin tells the two officers to bring their prisoner to HQ for questioning. Chin and Kono will follow them and take him back into their custody.

Ten minutes later they do just that. "Thank you guys, we’ll take it from here," Chin thanks his HPD colleagues for bringing the suspect in. It's standard protocol to have a suspect transported by HPD, unless there are special circumstances that warrant an immediate transport by Five-0.

Another ten minutes later, Chin and Kono have Donovan Shield, which they now know is the arrested man’s name, in their interrogation room.

Donovan Shield looks nervously from Chin to Kono and back and he looks behind them, obviously waiting for someone.

"Mr. Shield, you're in a lot of trouble. I see you have been arrested twice in the past. This will be your third strike out. You know what that means. Assaulting an officer, resisting arrest, fleeing a crime scene, breaking and entering, the list goes on." Chin looks down at the file in his hand. After they brought Shield in, they scanned his prints and now have his long file of petty thefts, but also two violent crimes.

"I didn't do anything, man. That dude came after me like a crazy man." Shield is almost shrieking. "I was scared, that's why I ran."

"What were you doing at the crime scene?" Chin looks at the slightly shivering young man.

"Look man, I heard that the doc got killed. I figured no one would be there, and you know, I wanted to check it out. See if I could find any drugs. They go really well on the market. That stuff is hard to get, man."

"So you broke in…" Kono chimes in.

"NO! The door was open. The dude was in the inner office, guess he heard me and was suddenly there, I don't know, man. He said something about five, but I took off and didn't really hear him. He just wouldn't give up, man. He was running after me, and I just couldn't shake him."

"Why didn't you stop?" Kono wants to know.

"What? Are you nuts? Did you see that guy? He would have made mincemeat out of me. And then, shit man, the other guy tried to run us over with his fucking car. I swear he was even crazier. Big dude was just about on me when we crashed into the car, and man that hurt." Shield looks up in the hope to at least see some sympathy. "When we got out of the water, he jumped me. Man, I'm telling you that guy is scary." Shield touches his nose and winces.

Chin and Kono look at each other and then at this poor excuse for a criminal. "Where were you yesterday between two and three p.m.?" Chin asks Shield.

"With my parole officer. Why? Oh my god, you think I killed that woman? Man, no way. I would never kill anyone."

Chin is inclined to believe him; especially since there is no way that he was involved in any of the other crimes. But they still have to investigate him. Before Chin can say anything about it, his phone rings. He leaves the room for a couple of minutes and when he comes back, his face shows worry and surprise.

"You are under arrest for now and will be formally charged in the morning. HPD will take you into custody and provide you with some dry clothes. At HPD you can make a phone call if you wish to do so," Chin tells their suspect and motions for Kono to follow him outside.

“Chin, what’s up?” Kono asks after she closes the door to the interrogation room.

"That was Danny. He took Steve to the ER. Danny said something about surgery, but said he's gonna be okay. He said to close up shop for today and that they will meet us in the morning."

"Surgery? Steve was fine when they left. What's going on?" Kono doesn't understand why her boss is in the hospital again.

"I don't know, Kono. Danny will call again as soon as he knows more. But he said Steve will be released in the morning. So, it can't be too bad. Let's finish up here and head out," Chin tells his cousin.

After handing Donovan Shield over to HPD a half hour later, they do just that.



*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

Chapter Text

PD – Chapter 13

Queens Medical Center

Danny watches his partner being transferred into bed after spending three hours in recovery. His friend's blood pressure was a little lower than the doctors like it to be after surgery, so he remained in recovery longer than the usual hour. But now he seems to be doing fine and is being settled into the private room for at least the next four hours he has to spend lying in bed.

The nurse places electrodes on Steve's chest to monitor his heartbeat, and after checking the IV she leaves them alone.

"Hey, how are you doing?" Danny sits down next to his partner's bed.

"Okay, I guess. Can't feel much of anything right now. There's some pressure in my belly, but it doesn't really hurt." Steve moves a little on the bed to get into a more comfortable position.

"Hey, don't move, you have to stay still on your back. They said everything went fine. The damage was repaired without any problem and you can leave in a few hours," Danny repeats what Steve's surgeon, Dr. Kelly, told him.

"Uh huh. He said no running or lifting anything for a few days, told me I could go to work, but only on light duty for two days. He wants to see me again on Friday." Steve closes his eyes as he talks to Danny. His back started hurting a minute ago. The anesthetist told him that it is likely that he might develop some mild pain in his lower back. It's one side effect from the nerve blockage he received for his surgery.

"Steve, you should go to sleep. It's past midnight; they will release you in the morning."

"Hmm." Steve is struggling to stay awake, but he knows that he wanted to ask Danny something. Something important that had been bugging him during his time in the OR.

"What's with the face? What are you thinking about? Steve, relax, go to sleep." Danny is amused, but also a bit worried by the animated face he sees.

Steve looks at his friend, still trying to figure out what he was missing. And then it finally comes to him, what's been missing all day, or rather who was. Catherine! "Danny, have you heard from Cath?"

"Didn't Mark tell you where she is?"

"Marine Base, but he said she would be back. And she isn't. Have you talked to her?" Steve asks his friend with worry in his voice; it's not like her to stay out of touch for so long.

"No. You want me to call her?" Danny asks his friend, but has his phone out already.

"Yeah. I just wanna know she's okay." Steve settles back against the pillows, listening to Danny make the phone call and closes his eyes again. "She'll be worried when she sees your number," Steve mumbles while fighting against the pull sleep has on him.

"Yeah, well, your phone is pretty much useless after your little swim. You can request a new one yourself. I'm not going to explain why you need one so soon after you lost the last phone," Danny tells his soon-to-be-sleeping friend.

"Hmm, Chin will do it for me," Steve smiles sleepily, thinking about his friend still owing him for the new computer he procured for Chin from a Navy buddy of his.

"Ha, good luck with that." Danny looks at Steve who is more asleep than awake at this point. "Cath's phone's busy. I'll try again in a few minutes. Go to sleep, Steven. Stop fighting."

"Wanna talk to Cath first," Steve mumbles as he turns a little onto his side and snuggles down into the bed. He winces slightly when the movement pulls on the stitches and aggravates the pain in his lower back. The movement doesn't go unnoticed by Danny.

"Are you okay? Shouldn't you stay on your back?" Danny asks his partner after Steve stops wiggling in bed.

"Hmm, fine. Try Cath again, please?" Steve doesn't open his eyes; it would just be too much of an effort. Without even realizing it, he drifts off to sleep before Danny can reach Catherine.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Catherine Rollins is miffed to say the least. She spent all day at the Marine Base in some musty room with no windows and what she is sure the most annoying AC that ever existed. It was either blasting frosty air into the room or when it was turned off, made a high screeching sound that grated on everyone's nerves.

It is past midnight when they finally leave the meeting so it's no wonder no one is in a good mood. Cath looks at her phone and is a bit worried when she only reaches Steve's voicemail. She has been on lock down all day, unable to call out. She received a note in the early afternoon that someone had tried contacting her, but she wasn't given a name. Cath is sure it was Steve. She couldn't know that she had received a few calls from various people trying to contact her about her friend. First the base hospital tried to reach her, then Mark Hope called, and later Danny tried his luck twice.

She finally gave up on Steve's phone and is now calling Danny. "Danny, hi. I'm trying to reach Steve, but I'm only getting his voicemail. Is he with you?"

"Yeah, he's here, Cath. We have been trying to reach you all day. Are you okay?" Danny speaks in a low voice, so as not to wake his sleeping friend.

"I'm fine. I have been stuck in a meeting since around 1100. Can I talk to Steve?"

"Not right now. Steve's asleep. He just had surgery." Danny can hear her gasp and makes sure to continue quickly, "he is fine, don't worry. He will be released in the morning."

"Danny, what happened? Where are you?"

"He was attacked this morning at Pearl. He suffered a concussion and spent a few hours in the hospital there. He was released and instead of taking it easy, he engaged in a foot chase across Honolulu, and ended up swimming in the harbor. But on the bright side he caught his suspect. I was taking him home but he developed intense pain in his belly, so instead, I brought him to the ER at Queens."

"What was wrong?" Catherine asks as she starts her car, parked on the Marine Base.

"This morning he received some kicks to his lower belly and there was some muscle tearing that worsened while he was running after the suspect. They had to repair that, but really, Cath, it's no big deal. His surgeon assured me that he will be completely fine. He has to stay on light duty for a couple of days but after that, he should be back to pretty much normal." Danny hopes that he can assure Catherine because he doesn't want her rushing to the hospital. It's the last thing they need, Catherine involved in an accident because she was preoccupied with worry.

"Okay. You guys are at Queens? I'll be there as soon as I can." Cath is just leaving the base when she tells Danny that she's on her way.

"Drive carefully, no need to run any lights," Danny feels the need to remind her. But it's obvious that she has already ended the call.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Hawaiian Hilton Hotel bar

Special Agent Niles Levin is sitting on his stool in the hotel bar, lost in thought and maybe also a little in his drink. He has already downed five shots of tequila, not to mention the six beers. He feels kind of sorry for himself and tries to drown his sorrow in alcohol. Never a good idea, but lately he just can't help it.

"Agent Levin? Do you mind?" Chin Ho Kelly motions to the stool next to him and settles down after Levin nods to him.

"What're you doin' here?" It's obvious that the alcohol already has some effect on the man.

"I was out for dinner with my wife, but she was called to the hospital for an emergency. When I saw you here, I thought you might like some company. You're far from home," Chin tells the agent.

Levin makes a snorting noise and downs another shot of tequila, "Not much home at home."

"What do you mean?"

"My wife threw me out. Here's to my wife," he raises his beer bottle and takes a long swig. All evening he's been alternating between tequila and beer. Not such a good mix.

"How long you've been married?" Chin Ho takes a pull from his own bottle.

"Twenty-one years. And suddenly she decides to start a new life with a twenty-two year old idiot from Indiana. He is thirty years younger for Christ sakes. What the heck does he see in her?" Levin looks at Chin and just shakes his head.

"Sorry, man." Chin knows that there really isn't much to say to that.

"Yeah. Guess it was my fault. I was always buried in work and she just got bored or something." Levin looks at Chin. "Are you even allowed to talk to me?"

"What?" Chin has no idea what he's talking about.

"Your boss hates my guts. Didn't he tell you not to spend time with me?"

"We are working together on this case and McGarrett will give you a fair chance because he believes that solving the case is more important than his personal feelings. What he thinks about you personally I have no idea, and frankly that is none of my business. If he doesn't want joint field work, I'm sure he has his reasons." Chin has no real idea what went on between these two, but he knows that Steve wouldn't jeopardize an investigation.

"He didn't tell you, did he?"

"Tell me what?"

Agent Levin looks at Kelly and sobers up rather quickly. "About what happened during the op. He is right, you know?"

"He is right about what?" Chin hopes that Levin will stop with the cryptic messages and get to the point.

"I screwed up. Got his friend killed. Botched the op and put McGarrett into a wheelchair. It's a miracle that he's even walking, let alone able to do what he's doing," Levin tells Chin while still nursing his beer.

"What happened?" Chin has the feeling that Levin needs to tell his story.

"Dan Geese and McGarrett, Mac and cheese they were called, were in the installation we were to take down. I was their CO; both of them were just out of training. But they were already really good at what they were doing. I was supposed to stay behind and cover the back entrance they had just entered. No one was in sight at all. I swear I didn't think there was any way anyone would slip by me and enter the building behind them. I was absolutely sure of that. I had a good view over the area. I moved a bit from my post so that I could also see the side of the building. I couldn't see the back door anymore, but was watching the area leading to it. I gave them the all clear. As I was moving, two guys entered through the back door, and I missed them. It was my fault that my men got shot. At the time, I thought I did the right thing and the board cleared me of all wrong doing. But one of my men died and the other was seriously injured. Later, I knew I should have stayed at my post or at least told them that I had moved. Geese and McGarrett trusted me with their lives and got shot in the back for it."

It's the first time that Levin has admitted any kind of fault on his part. He still thinks that his decision was the right one because he did save three men, but it was the biggest mistake of his life to not have informed his men about his move. It was his biggest mistake and his biggest regret. A regret that, until now, he has never been able to voice.

"You left the Navy after that?" Chin can only imagine how hard it must be for Steve to work with this man. But sees also how hard it seems to be on Levin.

"There was an opening at NCIS and I took it. I don't think anyone was sad to see me go. McGarrett was right; I was not a good officer, I didn't lead by example. But I'm a damn good agent, and with your help we will catch that son of a bitch who is killing all those women."

"Yes, we will. You know… you should talk to McGarrett about this." Chin tells the half drunken agent.

"No, he wouldn't listen. Besides, I think it's easier for him to hate me. As long as we can work together, there is no need to open up old wounds."

"You're going to be okay on your own here? I should head home; we have an early day tomorrow." For a moment Chin thinks about telling him what they found out about the man they arrested at the harbor, but decides against it. Levin is too far gone for any kind of business tonight. He'll learn about it in the morning.

"Yeah, I'll be fine. I'm heading up to my room soon. See you tomorrow, Chin. Thanks for listening." Levin stands up and reaches out to shake hands with his temporary colleague.

"Anytime. See you in the morning." Chin leaves the agent and makes his way out of the Hilton to head home.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Queens Medical Center

Dim light is filtering through the window, illuminating the two figures sleeping peacefully in the one bed in the hospital room. Dorothy, the night nurse, who is checking in one more time before her shift ends, smiles fondly down at her favorite patient. She was genuinely worried when she heard that Steve McGarrett had been admitted to her floor again. She still remembers him from his stay all those months back, when he was seriously injured. Dorothy is happy that he will be released in a couple of hours and that he seems to be doing well.

She had removed the IV two hours ago, and Steve never even stirred for it. She smiles when he mumbles something in his sleep and snuggles deeper into his girlfriend who is half draped over him. She was a bit worried at first that Catherine might hurt her patient, lying on him, but Steve didn't seem to mind, so Dorothy let them be. They are a perfect fit, Steve under the covers with his girlfriend lying on his left side with her head resting over his heart.

Lt. Rollins had refused to leave last night and Dorothy looked the other way when she made her first round, smiling at the nice young woman who had looked up rather guiltily from her position next to Steve. And later, when she made her second round, Dorothy simply didn't have the heart to wake her and tell her to leave. But now she needs to wake them, because the day shift will be here soon and they won't be as tolerant about the sleeping arrangements.

"Lieutenant. Catherine, you have to wake up," the nurse speaks in a low voice near Catherine's ear, hoping not to wake McGarrett. Of course he is the first to stir.

He blinks up at her, smiling at the sight of Cath lying in bed with him, but Dorothy can see the smile morphs into a painful frown a second later. It's time to take some action.

"Catherine," Dorothy speaks up louder now, provoking the lieutenant to finally show signs of waking. "Come on, you have to move off your friend."

"What?" Two bleary eyes are looking up at the nurse.

"You have to move off Steve, you're hurting him." Dorothy gently tells her.

"Oh!" Cath is almost instantly awake now and can see that her bent leg has found its way onto Steve's belly, obviously putting some pressure on it. She quickly removes it. "Steve, I'm sorry. Are you okay?"

"I'm fine. Good morning. When did you get here?" Steve pulls Cath down for a kiss, not caring that Dorothy is still standing next to his bed. "I missed you."

"After midnight, I didn't want to wake you. How do you feel?" Cath asks as she climbs out of the bed.

"Not bad." Steve hasn't had time to think about how he feels this morning. There is an almost painful pressure in his belly, but he's pretty sure it is more the call of nature than anything else. His head is mildly throbbing, and his back aches a little.

"Dr. Hope will come by in about an hour and Dr. Kelly will take a look at you before you're discharged," Dorothy informs him.

"Mark is still here?"

"Dr. Hope is on twenty-four hour duty until noon today. Last night your friend brought you some stuff while you were in surgery. The duffel bag is in the bathroom. Do you feel like getting up?" The nurse looks at her patient, but is sure that he is well enough to manage on his own.

"Yeah, I'm good. Thank you, Dorothy," Steve sits up in bed and is pleasantly surprised not to get dizzy or nauseous. Granted, the throbbing in his head changes to a pounding, but he can live with that. Sitting up puts some more pressure on his belly, but it's not really painful.

"Don't take a shower. Dr. Kelly wants to take a look at the small incisions and I'm sure he will change the patches to band aids." Dorothy always has to laugh about what some surgeons put on such small holes from the endoscope. Steve is taped up like his whole belly has been cut open. "Can you get off the bed? I need to see if you're able to stand on your own."

Steve slowly swings his legs off the bed and just sits for a moment on the edge. He made the mistake of jumping out of bed too quickly once and ended up head first on the floor. He won't make that mistake ever again. He slowly slides down from the bed, all the while trying to keep some dignity while dressed only in a flimsy hospital gown. He hates those things with a passion.

He slowly stands up, but stops when it starts to hurt. He puts his hand protectively on his belly and is still standing slightly bent over.

"Are you in pain?" Dorothy steps closer to him.

"A little, it hurts to stand up," Steve was caught by surprise by the intense pain that began radiating from his belly. But it's already receding and he manages to stand up a little more, still not fully upright, but close enough.

"It shouldn't hurt like that. Steve, lie back down please, and let me call Dr. Kelly. He should take a look before you go anywhere." Dorothy tries to gently push Steve back onto the bed.

"No, it's fine now. Besides I need to go to the bathroom," Steve walks around his nurse and disappears into the small room before she can stop him.

"Don't lock the door," she calls after him but shakes her head at the telltale click of the lock.

Steve follows the urgent call of nature first and after washing up, he takes a good look at all his bruises. PO Thomas hit him pretty good. Although the blow to the head was just a grazing hit, it still did some damage. There is a bruise around the small cut on his temple that put some color on his face. The whole right side of his head is very tender and the headache has picked up a notch in the last couple of minutes. Thankfully he's not dizzy.

He pulls his gown up and looks at the bruises all over his body. The one on his hip looks very nasty and the pain it causes is no fun. He can't see the worst bruises right now because his belly is patched up and not much flesh is peeking out. His upper torso is slightly discolored but his ribs are not hurting too much.

All things considered Steve knows that the confrontation with PO Thomas could have ended a lot worse. He is extremely lucky to have gotten away with just bruises and no internal injuries or fractured ribs. He feels a little stiff already and knows that his movements will be hindered quite a bit in the next few days. His back is still aching from the epidural and his knee sends a twinge out once in a while.

"Steve, are you okay in there?" Cath knocks on the door and calls out to him.

"I'm fine, be out in a minute," Steve calls back. He hadn't realized how long he's been in the bathroom already. He takes the gown completely off and takes his clothes out of the duffel bag Danny retrieved from the trunk of the car. They both keep bags in there, never knowing when they may be needed. It takes him a little longer than usual to get dressed but he manages, only getting slightly dizzy when he stands up too quickly after putting his socks on. But it lasted for only a moment. He leaves his pants unbuttoned and his briefs are riding pretty low on his hips. The bulky patches on his belly are in the way, but as Dorothy said they will be gone soon and he can dress properly then. He takes his boots in his hands and goes to open the door.

 

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Chapter Text

PD – Chapter 14

Tripler Army Medical Center – Cpt. Jordan's office

"Lieutenant, please have a seat," Cpt. Jordan motions for her patient to sit down in front of her desk.

"Thank you, Captain." Lt. Donaldson sits down in one of the armchairs, making an effort not to show how much his leg is hurting him.

"How are you today?" Of course Jordan has seen how stiff the lieutenant was keeping his body and it's obvious to her that something is going on with her patient.

"Not so good. The pills are not doing much for me today, but I'll manage." Donaldson relaxes a little after admitting that he's in pain from his old injuries. The nerve damage in his leg was extensive and even though he has full function back, on some days, the pain is unbearable.

"If you prefer you can walk about the room while we talk," the captain tells her patient, knowing moving helps to alleviate the pain caused by damaged nerves.

"Thank you, Captain, but it helps to just move the leg up and down." Donaldson bounces his leg in a very slow rhythm, almost invisible to the untrained eye. He has had years of experience in dealing with his chronic pain.

"Good. You tell me if the session gets too much for you, we can meet another day." She looks at the lieutenant, and at his nod she continues, "you wanted to tell me about your latest episode."

"Yes. It was a couple of weeks ago, and it was so vivid. Like never before. I could taste the sand and smell the gunpowder. The noises were so loud and the heat was overpowering. It was never like that before," Donaldson tells Dr. Jordan without much emotion and completely detached from the incident. "Most flashbacks until that day were mute, paralyzing and scary, but this one was so much more. This time it felt like I was dying, bleeding out under the hot desert sun. But when the hands came to carry me away, it was not like usual. This time I felt like I was saved by them."

"You were. You were found and they carried you away to safety." Jordan looks at Donaldson and hopes she can make him see that the flashback, even though it was powerful, was a 'good' one. He finally came through in one of them.

"Yes. That never happened before. I always died in them, I was never saved," Donaldson tells his therapist almost in awe. Like he realized for the first time what had happened.

"I think you're making very good progress, Lieutenant. After the episode, did you need long to come back to yourself?"

"No. I was lying on the floor, woke up and was completely back right away. That was also very strange. There were no lingering effects; not even my leg hurt much. It was truly very strange," Donaldson had never had such an episode before and wonders what it will mean for him. "Captain, I have to leave again on Sunday and will be away for a few weeks. I'm being sent to D.C. to overlook the installation of the new inventory system at Andrews, so I will miss the next three appointments."

"Okay. You will need to make new appointments. How long will you be away?" Dr. Jordan never likes it when their therapy cycle gets interrupted.

"Three weeks. Would it be okay if I call you?"

"Yes, of course, Lieutenant. Actually, I'll be in D.C. as well for a few days at a conference." Jordan informs her patient.

"What? You'll be at the conference?" Donaldson looks up almost in shock. That was information he didn't have before. How could he have not known? He recovers quickly and ads, "I read about the psychiatrists meeting in D.C. and thought it must be interesting to have so many in one place."

"It can be challenging," Jordan smiles at Donaldson, thinking about the conference where she will meet with dozens of her colleagues.

"Well, Captain, I hope it will be a success."

"I'm sure it will be. I know you need to be on base soon, and I wish we could talk some more about what you experienced during your last episode. But we will do that when you come back." Dr. Jordan was not happy when Donaldson told her that due to a special assignment on base, he couldn't stay for a full session today. Something last minute.

"Yes, ma'am. Of course. I'm sorry I can't stay longer. I'll make some new appointments with PO Coates," Donaldson stands up and gets ready to leave.

"Lieutenant, remember if you need to call me, please do so."

"Yes, ma'am, I will."

Lieutenant Donaldson takes one last look at Captain Jordan before he leaves and thinks what a shame it will be that she will be killed in his final scheme.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Queens Medical Center

Steve is surprised to see Mark when he comes out of the bathroom. "Morning, Mark." Steve moves to put his boots down next to the chair standing under the window. Moving with as much dignity as he can with his open pants threatening to fall down completely any second. He gingerly sits down on the edge of the bed and smiles his thanks when Cath helps him settle back down on it.

"How do you feel, Steve?" Mark steps closer and looks at his patient.

Steve thinks about the question for a moment before he answers, "My head hurts." Mark deserves nothing but the truth, as does Cath. They were both always there for him and are two of the three people he tells when he's not feeling well. To a much greater degree than he would tell any of his other friends, even Danny. "And my back aches. I guess I shouldn't have turned on my side after the epidural." The dull pain in his lower back had changed into a more throbbing pain radiating up and down his spine.

"No, you shouldn't have. But it will fade during the day; if your back still hurts tonight give me a call. Now let me do a quick check and then you can leave… hopefully. You still have to wait for Dr. Kelly though." Mark begins his tests and makes more or less approving noises.

"You don't look very happy, Mark." Steve doesn't like the frown on his friend's face.

"I'm not. Your pupils are still a bit sluggish and you have trouble focusing. Combined with the obvious pain you're experiencing, I'm inclined to upgrade your concussion from mild to slightly moderate. Do you have any problems forming words, any delay from thinking to speech?" Mark knows that has been the case with every head injury Steve has received so far. As it was right after he came back from Korea.

"No. I don't think so. I 'feel' normal, Mark. I've just got a headache, but I had that before I was hit." Steve doesn't feel like he has suffered a concussion, but he knows that how he feels right now can be deceptive.

"Yeah, well, I still don't like it. Steve, I want you to take the pain reliever for a few days. We need to keep your headache at a manageable level. If the pain passes five, even with the pills, I want you to get some rest. If it doesn't get better after a couple of hours, call me. Come here immediately if you experience any black outs, severe dizziness or nausea. I hope you won't have any long-lasting effects this time, but you have to take it easy for a while." Mark Hope doesn't want to see his friend suffer for weeks again.

"Okay, I'll be careful." Steve is well aware that he was very lucky not to have any permanent handicaps from the various traumatic brain injuries he has received during the last two decades. He was extremely lucky to get away without brain damage a few months back. And he has no intention risking any unnecessary damage. Not every risk is avoidable in his line of work, but there is no reason to be careless.

"And NO running after any suspects! Or swimming in the harbor. You got that?"

"Yes, Sir." Steve can't but grin at his friend.

"It's not funny, Steve." But Mark says it with a smile. "I want to see you on Friday when you have your follow up with Dr. Kelly. Come by my office then."

"Will do. Thank you, Mark."

"You're welcome. Take care and I'll see you on Friday," Mark says his goodbye to Steve and Cath and leaves them alone.

Catherine looks down at her friend resting on the covers of the bed. Steve looks rather sleepy with his pants open and very low on his hips. His right hand lies on his heavily bandaged belly. She sits down next to him on the edge of the bed, takes his free hand and asks, "does your belly hurt?"

"No, not really. It's a bit uncomfortable, but it doesn't hurt," Steve tells her without opening his eyes. The pain in his back is rather annoying and he hopes that the pills Mark gave him will not only work for his head but will also help with the pain in his lower back. "When do you have to be back on base?"

"At 1000 h. We have a couple of hours. I can take you to HQ if you like, or home." Cath can't help but try to get him home.

To that Steve actually opens his eyes and smiles at her, "Nice try. Cath, I'm fine. I'll stay at HQ… mostly."

"Mostly?"

"Yeah, mostly. Listen, I need to talk to you about something work related." Steve raises the headrest, so that he is almost sitting up. His head immediately begins to throb with a faster beat. The pills have yet to start working.

"You okay?" Catherine can clearly see that her friend is not okay by a long shot and she's not even sure if he told Mark the whole truth.

"Yeah, I'm good. I want us to go to D.C. on Sunday and attend a conference. With Danny and JoJo."

"What do you mean, attend a conference?" Catherine is not sure what Steve is talking about.

"I think our serial killer will hit again. At the conference. And I want us to be there when he does. Before he does, of course."

"You want us to go 'undercover'?" Cath looks at her friend, and contemplates what he just told her.

"Something like that. You and I will go as, well, us, but Danny will have a different identity. Gibbs will come up with something for him," Steve tells Cath as he leans his head back and presses the palm of his hand on his aching forehead. The pain is not getting better, but instead has gotten a lot worse in the last couple of minutes.

"Steve, maybe it's not such a bad idea for you to stay in the hospital for a couple of days," Catherine removes his hand from its resting place and replaces it with her own hand. She gently applies pressure on his forehead, hoping that her technique will help him again. In the past it has always alleviated the pain.

"No, I'll be fine. I'm sure the meds will kick in any minute now," Steve tells her and hopes that his words are true.

"You talked to Agent Gibbs?" Catherine Rollins never liked Agent Gibbs much, but that was probably because of the circumstances under which they met.

"Yeah, yesterday. He will provide us with information and will organize our stay in Washington. I hope he can get us into the hotel without a problem. That reminds me, I need to call Ducky."

At the mention of Dr. Donald Mallard, Cath breaks out in a smile. "Please say hi to him. I would love to meet with him again if we have time for that."

"Should I be jealous?" Steve knows how well those two got along last time they met.

"Of course you should," Cath now openly smiles at her friend. "I really like him. His stories are fascinating, and he is a real gentleman. Something most people lack these days."

"Hey! Are you saying I'm not nice?" Steve asks her in mock hurt.

"Oh, don't worry, I think you are 'very' nice." To prove her point, Cath leans in with a kiss that threatens to get out of hand pretty quickly.

"We… shouldn't… do… this… now," Steve whispers without much conviction between kisses.

"Uh huh." Cath isn't any more enthusiastic to stop than Steve is.

"No, really… this will soon get embarrassing," Steve tells his friend when he can feel his body coming awake.

Cath smiles into the kiss, but doesn't stop. "At least we know there was no damage done by the surgery."

"Funny," Steve tells her while pushing her gently away.

"Are you hurting?" Cath looks at Steve who has his hand back on his bandages.

"No, it's fine. Actually I feel better. The throbbing in my head is pretty much in the background now." Steve assures her.

"Good. So, now what? We wait for Dr. Kelly?"

"Yeah, he needs to sign my release papers and he needs to take this damn bandage off," the taped belly is already itching and the heavy bandage can't come off soon enough for Steve.

"I'm sure he will. Do you want me to leave when he's here?"

"No, why would I?" Steve looks at Cath, she should know he doesn't mind her being here.

"Just making sure. You haven't told me yet why you were chasing someone through half of Honolulu. What did he do?" Cath sits back down in the chair next to the bed and waits for Steve to tell her about what happened that led to him ending up in the hospital again.

Steve takes the next half hour telling his friend about their case, the attack on the base and how he ended up in the waters of the harbor.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Five-0 Headquarters, Wednesday morning

Detective Danny Williams is frustrated. They are three days into the investigation and can't see any results. The only thing they have is their leader in the hospital and damage of property. Danny doesn't even want to know how much fixing the car will cost and how he is going to explain in his report that he almost killed his partner and that said partner made the dent in the Camaro. Then, of course, there is the small-time crook they arrested after chasing him through half of Honolulu, the arrest of Thomas and O'Hare, not to mention blowing a drug ring wide open. All in a day's work.

But none of that is getting them any closer to making a crack in the case of the serial killings. They are at a dead end. NCIS, and now Kono and Chin as well, are still cross referencing all the patient lists they have received. Dr. Jordan just sent her list over after JAG authorized it.

Danny knows that Steve has a theory of his own and he hopes that he will arrive soon to discuss it with him. Thinking about his friend causes him to worry again. He talked to Steve on the phone and it was clear that he's not at his best right now. His surgeon came in during the conversation, so they had to keep it short. Cath is giving him a lift to HQ when he is released, so if everything went smoothly at the hospital, he should be here shortly.

Speaking of the devil, just as Danny stands up to get another cup of coffee, their boss enters the offices.

"Steve! Good to have you back. How are you doing?" Danny greets his friend who enters the bullpen.

Hearing Danny calling out to their boss Chin and Kono join them.

"Hi, Danny. Chin, Kono. I'm good," Steve tells his friends as he greets Kono with a little fist bump. "Thanks for saving my six, Kono. I haven't thanked you yet… I don't think."

"Anytime, brah." Kono beams up at her friend and boss. It's not every day that their resident SEAL needs saving.

"I have a little welcome back gift for you," Chin says, handing him a brand new iPhone. "I put all your information in it from the cloned files we took after the last time you 'lost' your phone."

"Thanks, Chin. How did you get this so fast?" Steve can't believe that his friend had the phone already waiting for him.

"I have my ways," Chin won't tell him that he has two more in store for the team. He ordered a back-up for every one of them, but so far, his stock of phones has gotten diminished only by Steve.

"I'm sure you do. Thanks," Steve smiles at Chin and grins in triumph at Danny, waving his new phone around.

"Yeah, yeah, nice. Now, can we get down to business if you're done admiring your shiny new phone?" Danny says with a smile.

"Sure. Did you talk to… I don't even know his name. The guy from the crime scene," Steve looks at Chin and Kono.

"Donovan Shield," Kono provides the name.

"Does he have anything to do with the killings?" Steve is pretty sure that won't be the case.

"No," Chin says and starts to fill their boss in on what they found out from Shield. Which is not much.

"So, we still have nothing to go on? What did Max have to say?" Steve asks Danny after Chin finishes his tale.

"You want to go into your office and sit down?" Danny looks at his friend.

"What? No. I'm fine, Danny. Stop hovering," Steve actually steps a little back from Danny who is invading his personal space. "You and Levin were talking to Max, what did he have to say?"

"He told us that the other coroners confirmed his theory about the killer switching hands during the killings. They all got back to him with their findings. And Max found a print on the body." Danny pauses and looks at his colleagues before he continues. "He sent it to CSU and Fong said it's not enough to compare it to the database, but if we could bring him a suspect he might be able to match it."

"That doesn't really help us now," Steve points out the obvious.

"No, it doesn't," Danny can only agree. "Steve, have you had breakfast yet? We could grab a bite on our way to NCIS."

"We're going to their offices?" It's the first Steve hears about the trip.

"Yeah, Levin called and asked to see us."

"That's good, I'd like to ask him some questions myself." Steve's not looking forward to spending any length of time with Niles Levin, but this is about the case, so he will be professional. At least as much as he can be. "You spent time with him yesterday; did he tell you why he's in Hawaii?"

"Steve, are you okay? You do remember that he is leading the investigation of the serial killings, right?" Danny looks worriedly at his partner, thinking that he might have some memory problems due to the concussion.

"Yeah, Danny, I remember that," Steve rolls his eyes at his friend. "Dr. Webster was killed on Monday between 1430 and 1500h. Yet, Levin came to our office the same afternoon. How is that possible? And if he was already working on the case, why was he in Hawaii? What is he not telling us?"

"I hadn't even thought about that," Danny must admit, and one look at Kono and Chin confirms neither have they. "He's working out of NCIS San Diego, isn't he?"

"Yeah. So why was he in Hawaii before the murders even happened?" Steve looks at his team members.

"Boss, you want me to run a background check on him?" Kono looks at her boss.

"No, I've got someone working on that," Steve needs to remember to call Gibbs again.

"Okay, so let's move out, get something to eat and talk to Levin," Danny's ready to leave.

Just the thought of food makes Steve slightly queasy, but he also knows that he has to eat something. He didn't eat all day yesterday. "Okay, just let me call Gibbs first, and then we can leave." Steve makes his way to his office to call Special Agent Gibbs. Who will hopefully provide him with some information.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

Chapter Text

PD – Chapter 15

Five-0 HQ – Steve McGarrett's office

Steve sits down gingerly behind his desk, laying his hand protectively on his freshly operated belly. There is no real pain, but a very uncomfortable pressure that he wished would lessen. It's worse while sitting down, and if he weren't dizzy he would stand up. But as it is, a minute ago his head reminded him that he had suffered a light, excuse me, moderate concussion just yesterday.

His vision is slightly blurry and he's pretty sure that standing up is not an option right now. He looks around for his teammates, to see if they are still watching him, but that doesn't seem to be the case at the moment. So he allows himself the luxury of leaning his head back and closing his eyes for a minute.

He is doing the breathing exercise he did in JoJo's office to get his headache under control. The pills Mark gave him are just taking the edge off and he's still left with a pretty hefty pounding behind his temple.

When he opens his eyes a couple of minutes later, Danny is sitting in front of his desk looking at him intently.

"Is it helping?" Danny asks after he's sure Steve is back in the here and now.

"What?"

"Whatever you're doing. You didn't even hear me come in or call your name. Is that some type of meditation or something?" Danny looks at his friend hoping to get an honest answer.

"Something like that. And, yeah, it's helping." Seeing the skeptical look on Danny's face he continues. "I learned it from JoJo. It's a form of self-hypnosis that helps with anxiety and pain-control."

"So, that's what you did at JoJo's." It's a statement, not a question.

"Yeah, it is. It helps me center myself, to stay calm, helps me focus. I've been able to do this since I was twenty or so. It's second nature by now." Most times Steve doesn't even think about the technique, he just does it. "Although I only allow myself to go deep under when I'm in a safe environment."

"You did that after you had the seizure and you were in the hospital. You scared the shit out of us back then." Danny will never forget his friend's empty and dead eyes after he completely zoned out on them.

"Yeah, I'm sorry about that. I shouldn't have done that." Steve still feels a bit ashamed to have scared his friends like that.

"Are you feeling better now? I know your head hurts and I'll bet the incision from the surgery is also smarting somewhat." Danny is no idiot and knows that even though he only had endoscopic surgery, there are still stitches inside Steve's belly and he was cut open. That has to hurt.

"That is actually not too bad. My head still hurts the same though," Steve admits as he picks up the phone to finally call Agent Gibbs in Norfolk. It will be early afternoon on the east coast.

"Gibbs."

"Hi, Gibbs. McGarrett here," Steve says and wonders again what kind of noises are in the background. It's the second time he's called and there's loud music playing.

"Steve, listen, I need to call you back. Say in two hours?"

"Yeah, sure that's okay," before he can say anything else Gibbs has hung up.

"Your friend is not into conversation, is he?" Danny says laughing.

"No, not really," Steve mumbles something that sounds a lot like 'not like someone else I know', before he makes another call to Norfolk.

"What was that?" Danny understood perfectly well what his friend was saying.

"Nothing," Steve only grins at Danny and waits for the call to get connected.

"Mallard."

"Dr. Mallard, hello. Steve McGarrett here, I hope I didn't call at a bad time?" Steve smiles, thinking about the ME.

"No, not at all, my boy. Steve, how are you? Gibbs said you might call."

"Thanks Ducky, I'm good. You're on speaker, my partner, Detective Danny Williams is here with me," Steve says after he activated the speaker function.

"Hello, Detective." Ducky's voice can be heard from the phone.

"Dr. Mallard."

"Ducky, did you have a chance to take a look at the case we're working on? Did Dr. Bergman send you his findings?" Steve hasn't had the opportunity to talk to Max since he returned from the hospital.

"Yes, indeed he did. Very intriguing case. Your Dr. Bergman is a very interesting young man. We had a fascinating conversation. I completely concur with his findings."

"I didn't expect anything different. I think the numbers of stab wounds and the fact that he's switching his hands are important. Ducky, do you think we could be talking about an individual who has two personalities? And if so, could he have kept something like that hidden for most likely all his life?" Steve is voicing his theory, which earns him a 'look' from Danny that he ignores.

"Well, if he has a dominant personality and a secondary one, and if he can control those different personalities, then yes, he could hide it. But that is not common. Are you suggesting that he lives two separate lives?"

"No. But I think he is acting out the urges of a different person. When I saw the pattern and talked to Max, it just came to me. I'm sorry I can't give you any scientific explanation for my thinking." Steve looks a bit sheepishly at his friend who's shaking his head.

"No, that's okay, Steve. I know from firsthand experience how your mind works. If you have a hunch like that, you should follow it. With that in mind, I will take a second look at all the evidence. This is a very interesting theory. I was thinking about two killers, but this is a very interesting new aspect. I will call you back with my findings." Dr. Mallard seems very eager to look at the evidence again from a different angle.

"Thank you, I appreciate it," Steve lets him know.

"Yes, of course. Steve, please say hello to Catherine for me. I'd love to meet with her again next week. I hope you will find the time? It would be my pleasure."

"She is looking forward to it, Ducky. Thank you for your help," Steve says his goodbyes and looks at Danny. "What?"

"Nothing. He and Catherine?" Danny grins at his friend.

"They hit it off like they had known each other all their lives. It was spooky when they first met," Steve shakes his head remembering their first meeting.

"That can happen. Are you ready to go, I'm starving." Danny's now standing by the door waiting for his partner.

"Yeah, yeah, coming." Steve gets up from his chair and needs to grab for the desk when a wave of dizziness hits him. He places both his hands flat on the desk and hangs his aching head, waiting for the dizzy spell to pass.

Danny is next to him in a flash and lays his hand on Steve's back. "Hey, you okay?"

"I'm good. Just give me a minute. I feel a little lightheaded, guess I really need to eat something," Steve says as he keeps his eyes closed and tries to breathe through the dizziness and the rolling sensation in his stomach.

"Maybe you should sit back down?" Danny still hovers near his friend.

"Nah, it's okay." Steve straightens up and hisses when the movement pulls on his stitches. He moves his hand back onto his belly, but motions for Danny to go on. "Come on, I'm fine, let's go eat."

"I'm driving," Danny says with one last look at Steve before he turns to leave the office.

There is no argument coming from Steve. If he's honest with himself, he must admit that he's in no shape to drive right now. Steve follows Danny at a much slower pace than his long legs normally dictate. He hopes that he will feel a little better after he has had some breakfast. Maybe if he feeds the guy in his head, he might even stop hammering against his temple so damn hard. The pain has risen to a nauseating level in the last half hour and he remembers Mark's words about getting some rest if it passes five. Well, the pain was never down to a five. It has been hovering around seven all the time, but now it's at least a nine.

Steve knows that he has no worrying head injury, well nothing serious at least. No bleeding and no swelling. The pain is just how his brain reacts to any hits to his head. He has received so many hard blows during his life that even a mild hit can give him a concussion. And he always reacts to it with extreme pain. It's been like that for years now. Ever since his parachute accident and the resulting traumatic brain injury.

He just wished the damn pain pills would do him some good, but it seems that they are not working at all this time. He's been suffering this damn headache for the past five days, and the concussion brought the pain to a completely new level. But he hopes that taking it easy the next two days will help and get the pain down to a more manageable level.

"Steve! Steve, are you with me?" Danny practically yells at Steve.

"What?" He turns to his partner and wonders when they reached the car and left the parking lot.

"Are you okay? You didn't answer me, where were you?"

"Sorry, I was just thinking." No need to tell Danny that he has no recollection of leaving HQ, going down to the car, settling in and driving off.

"About what?" Danny looks suspiciously at Steve, not quite believing that he is really alright, even though Mark and Dr. Kelly released him this morning.

"The case. Where are we going?" Steve looks around and is not sure why Danny's heading this way.

"I thought we could go to the Aloha Tower Marketplace. We can sit outside and you don't have to smell all the food like in a diner. And it's just a few minutes from the NCIS office."

"Thank you. Good idea," Steve smiles his thanks at Danny. Steve is always very sensitive about the smell of food when he has a headache. Smelly food always makes him queasy.

"You feel any better?" Danny asks as he turns into a parking space at Irwin Park right across from the marketplace.

"Yeah I do."

"Liar."

"Hey, don't ask if you don't like my answer. Besides, I do feel a little better. Not dizzy anymore."

"Well, congratulations. That won't help you much if you keel over from the pain in your head though," Danny tells him bluntly.

"Not gonna keel over. Can we please stop discussing this and go get something to eat?" Steve opens his door and carefully makes his way out of the car, pleasantly surprised not to get dizzy right away.

"Fine, whatever. Let's go," Danny marches off with Steve trailing behind. It's a very unusual picture for the two of them.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

NCIS Field Office Hawaii - 449 South Avenue, Pearl Harbor
Wednesday, 1030 h

"Good Morning, we're here to see Special Agent Levin. McGarrett and Williams of Five-0," Danny tells the woman at the reception desk.

Steve looks around the lobby and wonders not for the first time what he would be doing right now if he had taken Gibbs up on his offer so many years back.

"Gentlemen, please take a seat. An agent will be with you in a few minutes."

"Thank you," Danny thanks the woman and looks over to Steve who is wandering around the lobby, looking at the display cases filled with ship models. One, in particular, seems to interest him.

He watches his friend for a minute and wonders how much pain he really is in. Steve's not standing completely upright and is favoring his right leg. Danny wonders why he didn't see that earlier. Steve's touching his belly repeatedly and it's obvious that he is in at least some discomfort from his surgery not even twelve hours ago.

"What are you looking at?" Danny joins Steve at one of the exhibits.

"It's the Enterprise. Did you know that she's on her last journey this year?"

"No, I didn't." Danny looks at the ship's model in front of him and must admit that it looks pretty impressive. "Are you feeling okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine," Steve keeps looking at the details of the ship.

"Uh huh, is that why you're favoring your leg and pressing your hand on your belly? Are you in pain?"

Steve looks up from studying the model and his gaze is kind of confused. "No, I'm not, Danny. I feel good since we had breakfast. I was not aware that I was favoring anything. And there is just a little pressure in my belly, it's a bit uncomfortable but not too bad," Steve tells his friend honestly.

"You can hardly call two slices of toast and a milkshake breakfast," Danny shakes his head at Steve.

"I didn't think I could handle any more than that."

"Do you feel sick?"

"Danny, will you please stop that! I feel fine! Really, I am. Jeez, you're the worst mother hen I've ever met," Steve tells his friend with a bit of annoyance creeping into his voice.

"Fine. Don't come to me when you're getting sick. See," Danny motions to himself, "this is me, not caring. You're fine? Fine." Danny turns and walks back to the reception desk.

Steve grins after his friend, fully knowing that Danny will keep watching him like a hawk and at the slightest sign of being unwell, will jump in and make sure that he's taken care of. Steve finds that rather endearing, annoying too, yes, but secretly he loves it. Danny is one of the few people who really care about his well-being and Steve enjoys it. Although he would never admit that.

He walks after his friend and joins him in front of the reception desk.

"I'm sorry it took a little longer, but Agent Dobbs will be here in a minute and will take you to Agent Levin," Karen Donovan tells the Five-0s.

"Thank you," Danny smiles at the receptionist.

It takes less than a minute until Agent Dobbs, a very young Probie, comes to get them. Steve and Danny follow him through endless hallways and Steve falls farther behind the longer they walk. Agent Dobbs seems to be on the run or wants to get rid of them as quickly as possible.

At some point Steve gives up on keeping pace with them and just leisurely walks behind them. Engrossed in a lively conversation with Agent Dobbs, who is from the east coast, Danny doesn't seem to notice that his partner is no longer behind him. Steve watches them walk down a staircase that leads to the lower level which houses the archives and some more or less unused offices. It's the location used by the agents from other branches and field offices while in Hawaii. Steve used one of those offices a few years back.

He is just about to go down the stairs when a wave of dizziness hits him. It comes completely out of the blue, but with such force that he needs to grab for the handrail and lower himself to sit on the stairs. Wow. A moment later the pain hits. It happens with such intensity that his eyes are watering and his vision is blurry and out of focus. Steve leans forward and rests his aching head on his knees. The position hurts his belly, but he's sure that he wouldn't be able to keep his head up. The hammering in his head drowns out all other noises. He was so sure he would not get any pain attacks, but he's obviously been proven wrong. He can only hope that it won't last for long.

For once Steve is lucky, the intense pain lessens to a more bearable level after just a minute and there were no witnesses to the attack, for which he is very grateful. His vision clears up and the dizziness is almost gone. The pain is still a seven or eight, but not the unbearable agony from just a minute ago.

Steve knows that he's probably a ghostly white with a sheen of sweat covering his face. He takes some deep breaths and slowly stands up. His lower belly gives a little twinge from sitting in such an uncomfortable position, but he's not dizzy anymore. He makes his way down the stairs on shakier legs than he likes, but at least he makes it downstairs in one piece. Steve wonders why Danny didn't come back to look for him, but realizes that the whole episode only took about a minute. Although it felt a lot longer.

When he reaches the bottom of the stairs, Dobbs and Danny are just twenty feet away and still engaged in their conversation. They don't even look up, like they haven't even noticed that Steve has been missing for a couple of minutes. Just as well. Steve has no intention telling Danny of his earlier loss of time in the Camaro or the pain attack from just now.

"It was nice talking to you, Danny. Commander," the Probie nods at Steve. "Agent Levin is waiting for you," he tells them and motions to one of the doors in the hallway.

"Thank you, Agent Dobbs," Steve smiles his thanks and moves to knock on the door.

"Thanks, Roger," Danny says his goodbyes before he joins Steve to enter Levin's office.

"New friend?" Steve asks Danny when Dobbs is out of earshot.

"While you were lagging behind, I had a nice conversation with someone from the civilized world. Meaning, the east coast, of course. Dobbs is from Newark," Danny informs his friend.

"Civilized world?" Steve looks at Danny with a raised eyebrow but says nothing else about it. Instead he turns and finally knocks on the door in front of him. Not waiting for an answer he opens it and enters Levin's office with Danny right behind him.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Levin's office is a windowless room stuffed to the ceiling with filing cabinets on one side and a huge white-board on a second wall. Two desks are set against the third wall. Five chairs are standing in a semi-circle in the middle of the room. The one desk in use is cluttered with files and the white-board is decorated with dozens of crime scene photos and notes.

"It's not your high tech wall, but it'll do," Levin motions to the wall as the two Five-0 take in their surroundings.

"Hi Niles, you wanted to meet? You have any new information?" Danny greets their temporary colleague while Steve stays mute and only nods at Levin as a greeting.

Steve takes in the tense and guarded features of the NCIS agent and wonders what Levin is hiding from them. Steve is certain that something about him is not legit. He wished he could have talked to Gibbs before he had to meet with Levin again. To get more information on his past since he last met his former CO.

"Yes, a colleague of mine from the office in Pensacola called and told me that the CSU found a partial fingerprint in the doctor's agenda," Levin tells them the newly discovered information.

"How do they know it's from the killer," Danny wants to know.

"It's a bloody print, with the blood from the patient. It has to be from the killer. He's the only one who came in direct contact with the blood. The partial is not enough for a search in the database, but when we bring him in, we can link him to at least these two murders. It's enough to match it directly. I told them to send the data to your guy, Charlie Fong."

"That's great, thank you." Danny thinks that the teamwork is going better than he had hoped.

"Agent Levin, we have some questions for you," Steve addresses the agent and ignores the glance from Danny about not calling him Niles, which he asked them to do yesterday.

"About?" Levin looks at Steve, obviously not sure what he would want to ask him.

"Why were you in Hawaii before the murder took place?" Steve is not beating around the bush, but comes straight to the point.

"What is that supposed to mean?" Levin goes defensive right away.

"It's a simple question. The victim was not even cold when you entered our offices. I would like to know why you were in Hawaii before Cpt. Webster was killed."

"For personal reasons," Levin replies, thinking that is all they need to know.

"What personal reasons?"

"McGarrett, that is none of your business."

"I think it is. The lead investigator in a serial killing case comes to Hawaii on personal business in the middle of the investigation. And what a coincidence, a murder happens in Hawaii." The atmosphere in the room just turned a lot colder after what almost sounds like an accusation. "I happen to know that you were in town when Christine May was killed in New Orleans. Were you also on personal business at that time?" Steve steps a bit closer to Levin and waits for him to answer.

"I was at a conference, I'm sure you know that as well, Commander." The title almost sounds like an insult spoken by Levin.

"Yes, I do. But I would still like to know what your business was in Hawaii."

"That is something I won't tell you. Investigate me if you want, but you're wasting your time. I am not your killer. And I have *nothing* to do with the killings. I want that SOB put behind bars as much as you do." Levin's not budging in telling what he was doing in Hawaii.

"You're hiding something, and I'm going to find out what that is. And you better pray it has nothing to do with the killings," Steve promises him.

"You do that, Commander. If you have nothing else, I would like to get back to my work. I'm sure you'll find your way out on your own." It's clear that the conversation is over.

"We'll talk again, Levin." Steve turns and leaves the office without another word. He hears Danny also saying his goodbyes but is glad to have a few seconds alone in front of the door. His headache reached a raging high during the confrontation with Levin and Steve's not sure how much longer he'll be able to pretend that he's fine in front of Danny.

"There really is no love lost between you two," Danny says after he closes the door to Levin's office.

"I'm telling you, Danny, he is hiding something."

"Yeah, maybe, but I doubt he has anything to do with the killings. And you don't believe that either. You are just pissed at him and wants to find some dirt on him," Danny voices his suspicion.

"You really think that? You think I would waste any time during a murder investigation just to get some dirt on him? You can't be serious!" Steve angrily tells him.

"Well, when you put it like that, no, I don't believe you would act unprofessionally. But, Steve, you don't believe he has anything to do with the killings. Why go after him?"

"Why doesn't he want to tell us what he was doing here? And don't you think it's a bit too much of a coincidence that he was in two different cities during the murders? I'm sorry, but I'm telling you something is not right with that guy." Steve tells Danny while he tries to keep up with his friend. "Danny, slow down please." The walk up the stairs has left Steve with a fierce pounding in his head.

"Your friend, Agent Gibbs, he'll look into him, maybe we'll know more when he calls back. But until we know something concrete, we should not spend any time investigating him. If Gibbs comes up with anything, we will look into him very closely. That okay? I mean, Steve, really, he has been nothing but cooperative so far."

"Okay, fine." Steve looks at his partner and must admit that he's right. An investigation of sorts into Levin is already on the way. They should concentrate solely on finding Webster's killer, and Steve knows that was not Levin.

They have now reached the lobby and Steve feels another attack coming. "Danny, I'll be right out." Steve motions to the restroom sign and makes his way over, hoping Danny's not following him.

"I'll wait outside," Danny calls after Steve, adamant not to follow him. He said he's fine, so be it, and Danny will not make a fool out of himself by holding Steve's hand while he's taking a leak.

Steve enters the men's room and is glad to see that he's alone. He barely has time to close the stall door behind him when he's assaulted by another wave of intense pain that brings him to his knees. The nausea hits a second later and he is retching up his breakfast into the bowl in front of him. Which adds greatly to the overwhelming pain in his head.

After a minute, the nausea lessens and leaves him spitting out bile and almost makes him sick again because of the foul taste in his mouth. Bright spots are dancing in front of his eyes and he slumps back, leaning his head against the sidewall. He closes his eyes against the agony behind his forehead and the tears that are threatening to spill over.

It takes another minute of semi-consciousness for the attack to stop and for Steve to become aware again. He's still sitting on the floor, slumped against the wall, bile running down his chin. Steve hopes this was the last attack. He can't risk this happening in a situation where he can't slip away for a few minutes. He can't, under any circumstances, endanger his team. He's supposed to stay in the office for a couple of days, so there should be no dangerous situations in the near future. Still he needs to talk to Mark Hope about this.

Steve slowly clambers back onto his unsteady feet. He flushes away the evidence of his sickness and makes his way out of the stall. He tries to freshen up as best he can, but he still looks like crap. He's sure Danny will know the second he lays eyes on him that the meager breakfast was fish food by now. With a sigh he turns and walks out of the restroom.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

Chapter Text

PD – Chapter 16

NCIS Headquarter, Norfolk, Virginia

"Gibbs, I have the report about Agent Levin you requested. May I ask a personal question?" Agent Ziva David hands the report over and hopes that her boss is in the mood to answer her question.

Special Agent Gibbs looks at her and grumbles something that sounds like an affirmative, so Ziva keeps going.

"McGarrett… when he was here a few years ago I was under the impression that you knew each other from before?"

"He worked for me." Gibbs is not very forthcoming with information.

"But he's a SEAL, you worked with the Navy on something?" Ziva can't imagine that a SEAL would work FOR Gibbs.

"No, it was way back, he was still in the academy then. He did some undercover work for us. It almost got him killed," Gibbs looks at Ziva and remembers one of his first encounters with Midshipman McGarrett in 1997.

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Washington D.C.
March 1997

Agent Gibbs enters the Walter Reed Medical Center and can hear the commotion before he even reaches the ER area. A few Master of Arms, the naval equivalent of the MPs are standing around ready to take action. He can see Cdr. Jordan talking vehemently with one of the doctors and one of the MAs. She seems rather upset and is pressing a bloody gauze pad to her temple.

"I told you not to do that, it's your fault." Commander Jordan doesn't seem happy with the doctor in front of her.

"He was very agitated, he had to be restrained," Lt. Miller tries to defend his actions.

"He has been drugged out of his mind, of course he is agitated. Hell, he's probably scared out of his mind, too and has no idea what is going on with him or even where he is." Cdr. Jordan refuses to keep her voice down any longer.

"Commander, are you alright? What happened, where is McGarrett?" Agent Gibbs turns to Jordan and takes his first good look at her. There is a small cut above her left eye that, at some point, has bled profusely. But it seems that it has stopped now.

"I'm fine, thank you, Gibbs. McGarrett is gone. He fled after they tried to restrain him. He's in pain and completely confused and these men here have no better idea than to fight with him, hurt him even more in the process and then try to cuff him to the bed," Jordan tells Gibbs while throwing venomous glances the MAs' way.

"How the heck did that happen? I thought he was in a coma, and that is why he was flown here?" Gibbs looks at Cdr. Jordan for an explanation how his young undercover agent ended up missing in action.

"When he was found on the grounds of the Academy and taken to the infirmary he was not responsive and deeply unconscious. The Base Clinic was not equipped to treat him; that is why he was immediately flown here. Gibbs, they beat him up so badly, and then they overdosed him on their synthetic drug." Jo-Beth Jordan pauses and takes the bloody gauze pad off her forehead and throws it in the waste basket next to them before she continues. "He woke up in the ER and started screaming and thrashing. He was in a full blown panic. I have no idea what he saw, but it was obvious that he was scared out of his mind. I tried to calm him down, but he didn't even recognize me."

"Did he attack you?"

"No. The MAs came in and he was fighting them and I got in the way. He hit me, but it was not intentional. Gibbs, we have to find him, he is a danger to himself. He has no idea where or who he is. He is badly hurt; they broke his arm and it's only splinted, and not set yet. He has a head injury and the drugs are shutting down his system; he needs immediate treatment."

"We have the gang who did this to him in custody. Do you have any idea where he might go?" Gibbs hopes that they will find the young cadet who helped bring down the drug ring operating out of the Naval Academy. He has a promising career in front of him, and he likes McGarrett. He's a quiet and serious kid, doesn't talk much, but he's extremely eager to learn. Gibbs feels responsible for him; he talked him into working for NCIS on this undercover operation. Gibbs would hate to see the twenty-year old get hurt. 'It's a bit too late for that'.

"No. And he's not able to think about where he is going, Gibbs. He is completely irrational and not capable of planning. He is just on the run." Jordan is not sure if Gibbs or the MAs understand what the drug is doing to her patient.

"Alright. Petty Officer, is the hospital on lock down?" Gibbs asks the MA next to him.

"Yes, Sir. As soon as he ran, we positioned men on every exit."

"Are you searching the floors, and monitoring the surveillance cameras?"

"Yes, Sir. We'll find him and bring him in."

"He is NOT a criminal, he is a patient." Jordan again reminds the MA about that.

"Petty Officer, I will make you personally responsible if McGarrett gets injured by any of your men. Do I make myself clear?" Gibbs looks at the MA and hopes he gets his point across. He knows that MAs, or MPs for that matter tend to ask questions after they have 'subdued' a suspect.

"Yes, Sir" Petty Officer Dukes turns and speaks into his com link to inform his men. He doesn't seem happy about the new development. Gibbs' little speech took a lot of fun out of the hunt.

"Dr. Jordan, you have known McGarrett for a while now. Where would he go? Up or down?"

"What do you mean, Agent Gibbs?"

"People on the run in a building have two options. They can either run to the roof, or to the basement. What type is McGarrett?"

"I think he would stay close to the exit. But, Gibbs, he is not thinking straight. He is not thinking about options."

"We'll see. What is he wearing?" Gibbs wonders if he's already in a hospital gown or still dressed. A gown would limit his options.

"They cut his clothes off in the infirmary, but they put some scrub-like clothes on for the trip here. But he's not wearing any shoes." Jordan informs Gibbs of Steve's state of dress or rather, undress.

"Good. Come on, let's go." Gibbs motions for her to follow him.

"Go? Go where? Gibbs, do you know where he is?"

"He's wearing scrubs? I'd say he's hiding in plain sight." Gibbs stops one of the nurses and asks, "excuse me, where is the doctors' lounge on this floor?"

"At the end of the hallway, across from the back entrance," the young nurse motions to the far end of the hallway.

"Thank you." Gibbs and Cdr. Jordan make their way over to the indicated door. The ER of Walter Reed is very busy this night and the swarming security personnel are not helping in the crowded area.

"You think he's in here?" Jordan looks rather skeptical.

"It's a place to start. If he's as injured and confused as you say he is, he wouldn't run far. This is a good place to hide. So, let's take a look." Gibbs slowly opens the door to the room that is used by the doctors to take a breather or even a nap during their long hours of duty.

They are greeted by semi-darkness and only one occupant in one of the recliners, fast asleep. It's not McGarrett. The room houses a couple of bunk beds, a big couch, some low tables and a few recliners. And the obligatory stuff for refreshments; a small kitchenette can be seen in one corner. It's cluttered with mugs and two empty coffee pots. The whole room looks a bit messy.

A row of lockers stand against the left wall almost up to the corner. Jordan and Gibbs are about to leave when they hear it. A very soft whimpering coming from the corner behind the lockers. After listening closely they can hear a person sobbing. They both know without even looking, that they have found their wayward cadet.

What they see when they step closer to the sound is a very pitiful sight and Dr. Jordan aches for her young patient. Steve McGarrett is cowering in the corner, eyes closed and head leaning against the cool metal of the locker. His face is flushed and bathed in sweat, tears are streaming down his cheeks and he's biting his lower lip trying to keep any sounds in. But he's not successful with that, he's sobbing and making little choking sounds.

He is cradling his left arm against his chest and they can see that his wrist is in an unnatural angle, clearly broken. There is a nasty looking bruise on the side of his head; it's obvious that he was severely beaten.

"Steve?" Cdr. Jordan softly calls out to him.

The reaction is immediate and she feels sorry that her calling him causes so much pain. Steve jerks his head up and struggles to his feet with an agonizing groan. He presses himself even further into the corner and looks at them with huge fearful eyes. It's obvious that he doesn't recognize either of them.

"It's okay, Son. We're not gonna hurt you. You can step down now, McGarrett. You did good. Let us help you." Gibbs talks to him in a surprisingly gentle voice and steps a little closer to Steve, his hands spread out to the side, so as not to pose any threat to the frightened young man in front of him.

Jordan looks at Steve and she's worried that he will bolt again, which would mean that Gibbs would have to stop him by force. She can't allow that. "Steven, listen to me."

On hearing his given name Steve looks up and for the first time they see some kind of recognition. He shakes his head as if trying to get rid of the fog in his brain, but the movement causes him to wince in pain. Steve starts to sway and if the wall behind his back wasn't supporting him, he would be on the floor by now.

"You're bleeding," Steve's voice is so low they have to strain to hear him.

"It's nothing serious, I'm fine. Steven, will you let us help you?" Cdr. Jordan steps a little closer and is almost in touching distance.

"My head hurts," Steve whispers like it's a secret no one's allowed to know and hangs his head for a second.

"I know it does. I know they hurt you. Steven, but we won't hurt you. And I promise they won't ever hurt you again. Please let me help you." Jordan closes the remaining distance but does not yet touch him.

Steve's gaze darts between Jordan and Gibbs, still not sure whether to trust them or make a run for it. They can see the inner battle, but when he moves his arm and there is obviously another burst of pain going through it, he practically caves into himself. When he starts to slide down the wall, Jordan steps in and helps him ease down to the floor.

Steve immediately seeks comfort by leaning into Jordan and burying his head under her chin. She envelops him into a hug and whispers constantly to him while motioning for Gibbs to get help.

By the time Gibbs is back with a doctor, orderlies and a gurney, Steve is almost unconscious or asleep. It's hard to tell. He doesn't have any fight left when they transfer him onto the gurney.

"Get him up to the ICU right away," Lt. Miller tells the two orderlies.

"What about his broken wrist, and his head, don't you need to take a look at that first?" Gibbs asks and wonders why he's not taken back to the ER.

"We have everything set up in ICU, he needs to go on dialysis right now, before there is more damage to his kidneys. We will take care of his other injuries, but his inner organs have priority. It might not look that way, Agent Gibbs, but his status is critical. His kidneys are shutting down, next will be his liver and heart. A broken wrist is the least of our concerns."

Agent Gibbs watches the gurney disappear into the hallway and hopes that McGarrett will pull through.

"Commander Jordan, I'm sorry it ended this way. I'm sorry we couldn't protect him better. He did a damn fine job. That new drug was a real danger to a lot of people. Thanks to him, the men responsible for it are behind bars and I'm sure a lot of lives will be saved. I hope he will be okay."

"I'm sure he will be. Steve is tough, he'll pull through. I'll keep in touch with you." Dr. Jordan leaves the agent behind and hurries after Lt. Miller and her patient.

"So, I take it he did come out of it in one piece?" Agent David looks at her boss, who had just explained how he knows McGarrett. In a very uncharacteristically vivid way… at least for Gibbs. He normally doesn't tell lengthy tales. He's obviously in a good mood.

"Yes, he did. He was unconscious for three days, had a broken wrist, a couple of cracked ribs and a moderate concussion. The dialysis saved his kidneys and his life. But when he woke up he had no recollection of the time after the point of being knocked out at the Academy." Gibbs remembers how stressed out McGarrett was about hitting Cdr. Jordan.

"And you worked with him again when he was here a few years ago?" Ziva wants to know.

"Yes, in 2007, but that is a different story." One neither Gibbs nor Steve will ever tell anyone. Gibbs almost smiles at the thought, but remembers in the last second that he's not in *that* good a mood. He picks up the phone and makes the call to his friend in Hawaii.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

En route to Five-0 HQ

Danny didn't say anything after Steve sat down in the car. Steve looks at his partner and wonders what's going on, why he didn't confront him right away after they left NCIS. On the other hand, Steve is glad they are riding back in silence. That gives his headache a few minutes to settle down. But a silent Danny is unnerving. Steve knows that he's up to something, but he hasn't figured out what that is yet. He turns his head back to the side window and sees that they are almost back at HQ.

Danny grins to himself, knowing that he's irritating his partner by not commenting on him obviously getting sick back at NCIS. But he will not coddle him. At least that is what he tries to do. The urge to ask if he's okay is hard to ignore, but so far so good.

Steve's not sure if he likes this 'not-caring'. He is so used to Danny constantly asking if he's okay, that it's strange not to have that. But that is what he wanted and asked for, so now he has to live with it. Steve is just surprised by the fact that Danny is not hovering.

"Did Gibbs call yet?" Danny finally breaks the silence.

"What?"

"Gibbs, did he call yet?"

"No." Steve doesn't have time to say anything else before he is violently pressed into his seat belt by a hard stop of the car. Another car suddenly cuts them off and Danny barely avoided crashing into it by stepping on the brakes full force.

Steve can't suppress the groan when the seat belt presses painfully into his tender belly. It's not a good sign to see stars during daylight. But that's what he's doing. His hands fly to his lap on their own account and Steve's curls in on himself as far as the seat belt allows it.

"Argh, fuck. What the hell, Danny?" Steve groans out.

"Sorry. It was either that or crash into that idiot," Danny motions to the car in front of them. "You okay?" Danny glances over and it's obvious that Steve's not okay. He's a ghostly white with eyes clenched tightly shut and clutching his belly with both hands.

"I'm fine," Steve automatically pants out and is not sure if his bruised hip, his belly or his head hurts the worst. But right now he'll put his money on his belly.

Steve slowly leans back and takes some deep breaths, opens his belt and first two buttons of his pants. He pushes his right hand down on his belly and pulls it back out a moment later, with blood on his fingers.

"I'm bleeding," he shows his bloody fingers to Danny.

"Ah, damn. Put your hand back there," Danny tells his friend as he turns on the sirens to take Steve to the ER a second time in under twenty-four hours.

"What are you doing?" Steve follows Danny's order and presses his hand back on his belly. The bleeding is not too bad, but it's pretty obvious that he popped some stitches. Hopefully just on the outside.

"What does it look like, genius? I'm taking you to the hospital, where you are going to stay this time."

"I'm not going to stay, Danny. They can patch me up, and that's it." Steve knows it will not be easy to convince the doctor to let him go again. But when another wave of pain hits him, he thinks for the first time, that it might not be such a bad idea to actually stay in a hospital bed for a day or two.

Danny looks over in worry, when Steve gets quiet. Seems that he's in the middle of another pain attack. Of course Danny was aware that he has suffered at least two of those debilitating attacks today. Commander Summers had told him that it's not his fault, but Danny is convinced that if he hadn't woken Steve up after the attack he would not be suffering like this right now. He feels responsible for it, no matter what others are telling him. And he will make damn sure that Steve will not leave the hospital before he's been taken care of.

Steve turns his head back at Danny after the attack is over and seeing the set jaw and determined look, it's clear to him that he won't leave the hospital today. He closes his eyes and gives up his control over the situation. When that thought enters Steve's mind he knows that something is wrong, he never gives up control like that.

He tries to open his eyes again, but they are so damn heavy. After a moment he gives up and just listens to the siren still blaring, but it's not as loud as it was just a minute ago. It sounds like it's coming from a distance. He feels oddly detached from the here and now. Steve lets his mind drift a little and is aware that Danny is calling to him, but is unable to react. Instead of being worried about it, he just surrenders even more to the lethargy that seems to overtake him.

There is still a throbbing pain in his head and he can still feel the blood seeping out of his belly, but the agony from a minute ago is gone. He is oddly at peace with the situation. He knows it should worry him, but he just can't find the energy to care. And suddenly there is no sound at all anymore, it's completely silent. He can feel a hand on his shoulder, shaking him, but even that can't bring him out of it. A moment later that sensation is also gone, and so is Steve.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

Chapter Text

PD – Chapter 17

Queens Medical Center

Steve knows that he is lying on an uncomfortable bed in the ER. His clothes are being cut off and someone is putting in an IV. His belly is being wiped with something cold and wet. Come to think of it he feels rather cold all over, and he's pretty sure that has nothing to do with his state of undress.

"He is in shock. Get that IV running and call Mark Hope down here."

Ah, shock. Why the hell am I in shock? Steve is a bit fuzzy on the events of the last hours, but is pretty sure he didn't get shot or anything, so no great blood loss. Steve tries to remember what happened after he got hit by Danny's car. He remembers crashing into the water, but after that everything is just blank.

Not good. What the heck happened? That is an interesting question, but one he won't be able to answer right now. In fact he can't even think about it right now. He is so damn tired and the only thing he can do is give in to sleep.

Next thing he knows someone is shining a damn light into his eyes. That really hurts, stop that. Steve's sure that only came out as some unintelligent groaning… if at all.

"Steve? Steve, can you hear me?" Mark Hope shines the light into Steve's right eye and gets an immediate reaction.

Steve tries to get away from the searing pain the light causes in his head, but his head is being held by a hand on his forehead as the light bores into his brain. He is sure that he just lost a few million brain cells.

"Argh, stop that." That came out a little clearer and Steve thanks whoever listened and turned off the damn light.

"Steve, can you open your eyes please?" Mark is pleased to finally get a response since he has been trying to rouse his patient for almost two hours.

Steve becomes aware that he's lying in a bed under a warm blanket with both his legs elevated. It's rather comfortable and he wants to go back to sleep but the guy with the light is still talking and it's getting annoying. Why the heck is my belly bandaged like it was cut open? And why am I aching all over? Steve comes to the conclusion that he should open his eyes; maybe that guy can give him some answers. He just hopes he can clear his brain enough to understand what the man is saying.

He slowly opens his eyes and is greeted by the face of Mark Hope only inches away from him.

"Mark?" Steve croaks out.

"Finally." Mark sighs in relief. "You had us worried there for a while. How do you feel?" He asks while checking the two IV bags hanging above Steve's bed.

"Achy. My head hurts. What's with my belly?" Steve lays his hand on his thickly bandaged lower belly.

"You popped some stitches, they had to put new ones in," his doctor informs him.

"Stitches?" Steve looks in total confusion at Mark.

"Yeah, the seat belt did some damage when Danny had to… you have no idea what I'm talking about, do you?"

"No. Why do I have stitches? Was I in a car accident? Is Danny okay?" Steve suddenly worries about his partner even though he is still mad at him.

"Steve, what is the last thing you remember before you just woke up?" Dr. Hope asks.

"I was running after a suspect, he was at the crime scene. We were down at the harbor when I got clipped by Danny's car. Well, I crashed into it. I fell into the water right after the suspect. I… I don't know… that's it. Did I pass out and drown or something?" Steve has no idea what happened after he crashed into the water.

"Let's see… you arrested your suspect… you had surgery last night… got released this morning… went to work… were at NCIS and in an almost car crash. Any of that ring a bell?"

"I had surgery? No, I can't remember any of that. I was at work?" Steve can't believe that he has no memory of any of that.

"Do you remember getting attacked on the base?"

"Yes, of course. You released me and told me I had a mild concussion. I went back to work and went to the crime scene." Steve stops and lays his head back, when a wave of nausea sweeps over him, but it's mild and not making him sick. But the headache picks up a notch. "Mark what happened, why can't I remember?"

"Your concussion is more serious than we thought. Due to your various hits to the head in the last couple of months you developed Post Concussive Syndrome way sooner and faster than I thought possible. You need to rest, Steve. If you don't, you'll risk permanent damage, not just to your memory. I told you last time, you have to take a head injury seriously. I want you to stay in that bed for the next two days. And I expect you to sleep most of the time. Steve, you need to give your brain time to heal. And that won't happen if you are running around Honolulu solving crimes."

"But that's my job," Steve meekly says. He knows that Mark told him to take it easy and rest. And that he was very adamant about the "staying in the office" part.

"Yes, it is. But if you don't listen to me, you won't be able to do your job for much longer. Steve, I'm not kidding." Mark looks in frustration at his friend and patient. "If you were a football player you would not be allowed to play anymore. The risk of a head injury would be too high. You can't risk any more hits before you'll end with some kind of disability The next hit could very well be your last. Right now, you're not at a stage where I will bench you, but you're not far from it."

Steve has known for years now that he had a high risk of developing severe complications from a head injury due to the various traumas he'd received. He often wonders when the Navy will take him out of the game and declare him unfit for duty for his own safety. It seems that he's getting closer with every new hit to the head.

"Okay."

"Okay? Just like that?" Mark Hope looks at Steve suspiciously.

"Contrary to what everyone thinks, I'm not stupid. I know when I'm beaten. And you're right, I should rest, I'm really not feeling so good. But I need to get out of here on Saturday. And I need a phone. But I promise I'll try to sleep."

"We will make sure that you do. Now, Danny is waiting outside, he can tell you what happened while you were at work." Mark tells Steve.

"No. I don't feel like talking about that right now. Maybe later. I'm tired and my head hurts," Steve is sure Mark knows that it is just an excuse not to talk to Danny, but he can't face his partner right now.

"You don't want to see Danny?" Dr. Hope knew that something was wrong when he saw Steve at the base clinic, but everything seemed fine this morning. "Steve, I don't know what happened between you two, but I know that you talked it out."

"I can't remember that, Mark. And right now, I'd rather not talk to him. Do you think I will eventually remember what happened in the last twenty-four hours?" Steve asks his friend around a yawn.

"That's hard to say, but yes, I believe so. Don't worry about it right now. Try to get some sleep. I'm going to talk to Danny." Mark watches Steve struggling to stay awake.

"Mark, I need my phone. Please," Steve tells his friend as his eyelids begin drooping against his will.

"I'll get your phone. But first you need to sleep. Stop fighting it, Steve. When you wake up you can make your phone calls. But no work from the hospital. You got that?" Mark injects another dose of pain reliever and light sedative into the IV in the hope that Steve won't be able to fight the much needed rest any longer.

"Don't knock me…" Steve is not able to finish his sentence, but opens his eyes one more time to glare at his doctor and friend. It's not a very effective glare with glassy eyes, it only makes Mark smile. Not the desired effect he was going for. "Not fair," Steve whispers before he finally succumbs to sleep.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Dr. Mark Hope takes one final look at his now sleeping patient and silently leaves the hospital room. He's not even completely out the door when he's confronted with Detective Williams.

"Dr. Hope, how is Steve? Why isn't anyone telling me anything?" Danny Williams sounds rather angry about the situation.

Mark can understand that, it's been almost three hours since Danny brought his friend in. And Mark knows that he has not been informed about his status yet. But that was simply because they needed to first finish all the tests.

"Danny, please, let's go talk in my office." Mark tries to steer Danny away from the door to Steve's room.

"No, I want to see Steve first," Danny tells the doctor and tries to walk around him.

"You can't right now. He is sleeping, and I don't want him to wake up. Danny, please, it's important that he is not disturbed now. Follow me into my office and I'll explain." Dr. Hope leads the way to his office and hopes that Danny will follow him.

Danny takes one last look at the door and grudgingly follows Steve's doctor. Two minutes later they are sitting in the same office they were in just a couple of days ago.

"Is Steve going to be okay?" Danny wants to know what is wrong with his friend, why he passed out on him.

"Steve is going to be fine. But I want him to stay until Saturday. And he actually agreed to it." Dr. Hope still thinks that Steve has something up his sleeve; it was way too easy to convince him to stay.

"He did?" Danny looks doubtfully at Mark.

"Yeah. Danny, do you know Steve's history of head injuries?"

"Pretty much, yeah. I know he had some traumatic brain injuries during his time on active duty and of course after the helicopter crash," Danny doesn't like to think about the time they thought his friend was dead.

"Yes. At a younger age Steve played football for many years and suffered some minor concussions. It's a big problem in high school these days. You remember what I told you about brain injuries?" Dr. Hope looks at Danny.

"You said something about the brain remembering each of them, and it's easier to get a concussion if you had one before," Danny can't remember exactly what it entailed, but he remembers that it was not good.

"Yes, something like that. Steve's brain can't take many more hits without serious repercussions for him. In the last few months, he has suffered a few mild brain injuries. A concussion is a mild but traumatic brain injury. It is the mildest form of a TBI. Now, with Steve, every TBI has consequences. They are a lot worse than for others because of his prior serious injuries." Mark tries to paint a clear picture for Danny to understand.

"What does that exactly mean?"

"Steve developed PCS in a matter of hours…"

"Does that mean he has to suffer those terrible pain attacks again?" Danny interrupts Steve's doctor.

"Unfortunately, yes. Steve has already suffered a few of them; the latest one knocked him out in your car. But I'm confident that he will only get them for a couple of days. I have him on pain medication and a light sedative. I think with enough sleep he can beat this. He is in the very early stages and I hope we can avoid any long lasting effects. I think this time the prognosis is very good because he is responding to the pain reliever. The last time he had the attacks, that was not the case." Mark is very positive about the outcome of the treatment.

"So, basically you're telling me he is going to sleep for two days and then he will be fine?"

"Hopefully. Steve is not seriously injured. It is just because of his prior injuries that he had that breakdown. Well, the running around after a suspect and of course getting hit by a car didn't help either. Although there is one little problem." Mark pauses and looks at Danny before continuing. "Steve can't remember the last twenty-four hours. His last memory is getting hit by your car and crashing into the harbor basin." Mark hopes that Danny understands the implication of that.

"So… He is still mad at me and doesn't want to see me? Is that what you want to tell me?" Danny dreads having that conversation with Steve again.

"Yes. But I'm sure his memory will come back in the next day or two. Don't worry about it. Still, I won't allow any visitors in the next twenty-four hours."

"What? We can't see him? Mark, I don't think that's a good idea. Remember the last time we stayed away? That didn't end well."

"I'm only asking you to stay away until morning. Come back here tomorrow and I'm sure he will be a lot better and probably even have his memory back." Mark is pretty sure that will be the case.

"Okay. But you call me as soon as something changes." Danny is willing to do this Mark's way if that will help his friend get better. The last thing Danny wants is his friend to suffer any more than he already has.

"Deal. I'll call you as soon as there is any change. One other thing. Steve demanded to have his phone, and I agreed. But if he calls in to work, keep him informed but don't engage in lengthy discussions. Although you can't keep him out of the loop either. I'm afraid that would only make him leave the hospital."

"Don't worry, we'll handle that." Danny is sure that, over the next two days, they will have to deal with a lot of calls from Steve.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Queens Medical Center
Room 615

"Steve, how do you feel? Are you still nauseous?" Mark Hope sits down on the chair next to Steve's bed.

"I feel a little better, thank you. I got dizzy when I went to the bathroom," Steve admits. He doesn't know if he was supposed to get up without calling anyone, but Mark didn't say anything, at least not that he can remember.

"I suppose you didn't call a nurse?" It's more of a rhetorical question to which Mark already knows the answer. "Next time you need to get up, please call someone. The medication you're getting might make you a bit lightheaded. So, no walking around on your own from now on."

"Okay. I wanted to ask you something about my medication. I read that valproic acid can cause headaches, nausea and dizziness."

"That is certainly true, but why do you ask that?" Mark looks at his patient in confusion.

"Because I've been taking it for a few weeks now, and I thought maybe that was the reason for my headaches. JoJo said it's not likely, because they didn't start right away, but then I read up on it, and it's a common side effect," Steve tells his doctor.

Mark looks at Steve and takes his chart, flips it open and takes a closer look at it. "Steve, your blood and urine tests were completely clean except for the antibiotics and a very low level of the painkiller I prescribed. But there was no other drug of any kind in your system. When did you take the last dose?"

"That I know of? Yesterday, but I'm sure I would have taken my meds this morning," Steve tells Mark with a frown on his face.

"Well, even from yesterday, there would be enough in your blood to detect it. Maybe you haven't taken it for the last few days?" Mark knows the medication is not just the most commonly prescribed anticonvulsant but also has promising effects on preventing nightmares and flashbacks in PTSD patients. JoJo probably prescribed it for recurring nightmares. Mark knows that Steve suffers from them.

"Maybe," Steve says, clearly skeptical. He knows that he took the pill. Just like he has for the last few weeks. "Did you come to talk to me about something?" Steve wonders why Mark is here again.

"No, I'm going to check on you every two hours. I'm sorry, but you have to put up with me for a while," Mark smiles at his friend and is glad that he's willing to stay in the hospital. He was a bit surprised at how easy it was to convince Steve to stay. It's probably a testament to how bad he's really feeling. "How is your headache at the moment?" Mark still has the chart open and is constantly scribbling in it.

"Not too bad, maybe a four. At least as long as I don't get up," Steve doesn't need to tell the doctor that his head threatens to explode every time he so much as sits up.

"Well, you're not supposed to be up. Dr. Keller will take a look at your incision in the next hour. He will probably take the thick bandages off."

"He went a little overboard with that stuff, don't you think?" Steve had to laugh when he saw how wrapped up his belly was when he took a closer look in the bathroom.

"Well, you know surgeons," Mark has to admit that the bandages are a little bit much. "Okay, everything looks good. I want you to sleep some more. Is there anything you need? Oh, I almost forgot, I tried to call Cath, but it seems she's not available again."

"Yeah, I know. She is on her second day of conference calls and she is just thrilled about it… wait a minute, why do I know that?" Steve remembers her sour look this morning when she told him about it.

"I wouldn't worry about your memory, seems to me it's already on its way back." Mark grins at Steve and stands up to leave.

"Thanks Mark."

"See you in two hours." Mark calls from the door and is gone.

Steve stares at the ceiling and contemplates who to call for help. He needs to get his pills analyzed to confirm his suspicion, but he doesn't want anyone to know about him taking that kind of medication. Yes, he told Danny, so he knows it already. But he is out, since Steve is still mad at him, even though he has the sneaking suspicion that they are on speaking terms again. Cath could help him, but first, she is not available and more importantly, Steve thinks she is in on it. Whatever it is.

He could call Chin, but he's probably out with Danny, so he would also know. All that considered he makes his choice.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Five-0 HQ
Wednesday, 5 p.m.

Dr. Max Bergman makes his way into the headquarters of the Governor's special task force. He remembers the first time he came here. How it made him feel to be a part of that team. Although he didn't feel like he belonged with them right from the beginning. Their start was a bit rocky with the kidnapped daughters of the ambassador. And he knows that his behavior was much more 'strange' back then.

He has a much better handle on his life now with being around other humans, live humans that is. He has even made friends other than his roommate. Everything took a turn for the better after he patched McGarrett up. Steve for him now. The others followed soon after. He only has a problem with Detective Williams. Williams often speaks so fast that he irritates him. But Max is working on that and mostly he remembers to call him Danny. Well, sometimes.

"Max, hello. You wanted to see us? Do you have any news?" Danny greets their ME.

"Well, hello Det… Danny. Yes, I do. I now have confirmation back from all the other MEs. And after they examined the bodies again, they all came to the same conclusion, that our killer is left handed but uses his right hand for the post mortem wounds."

"You could have told us that on the phone, Max. Is there a reason you came here in person?" Danny wonders why he left his lair.

"Yes, there is. I wanted to talk to Steve," Max tells them as he's looking around, wondering where their boss is.

"Steve's in the hospital for a couple of days. He was more seriously injured than it first appeared." Danny informs their friend.

"Is he going to be alright?"

"Yeah, don't worry, Max. He will be fine. Can we help you?" Danny offers to answer any questions he might have.

"No, but thank you. Can I visit him?" Max needs to talk to Steve in person about his request.

"Not for the next twenty-four hours. Max, is this about the case?"

"No, no, not at all. Well, not really. I'll just wait until I can talk to him." Max doesn't feel comfortable sharing this with anyone but the commander.

Danny is about to say something else when they are interrupted by Max's phone. Max looks at the caller ID in wonder, and doesn't seem to know what to do with it.

"Aren't you going to answer it? Max?" Chin looks quizzically at the ME.

"Yes, of course," Max seems to wake up from his daze and hits the accept button. "Bergman."

"Max, hi. Are you alone? Can you talk?" Steve's voice comes out of the phone.

"Ah, no, and yes." Max looks in irritation at the Five-0, but doesn't give away who is calling him.

"Max, where are you right now?"

"Five-0 headquarters." For some reason Max is sure that Steve doesn't want them to know that he's calling him.

"Alright, not what I was hoping for," Steve almost sighs into the phone. "Okay, Max, please listen. I need to ask you a favor, but I don't want anyone to know. Can you please come to Queens? I'm in room 615."

"Yes, of course. I'll be there shortly." Without even waiting for a reply he ends the call.

"Everything okay, Max?" Danny finds his behavior very odd and would love to know who was on the phone.

"Yes, everything's fine but I need to go. If you have any more questions, call me." Max is already half out the door, more than eager to visit the head of Five-0 in the hospital. Wondering what kind of favor he needs from him.

He hopes that he will find the courage to ask Steve a favor of his own.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

Chapter Text

PD - Chapter 18

Danny shakes his head while watching Max Bergman leave HQ. "Don't you think that was kind of odd?" he asks Chin.

"Odd? Max? I think his behavior was pretty normal… for him at least." Chin has to smile thinking about their new friend.

"Who do you think was on the phone? And what does he want from Steve?" Danny has his suspicion about who the caller was, but hopes that he's wrong.

"With Max you never know." Chin looks at Danny and wonders why he is suddenly so interested in Max.

"Yeah, well, I was just wondering. Okay, now that Max confirmed again that the killings were all done by a left handed person and the post mortem stabbing by a right handed, maybe Steve's theory isn't so far off after all." It occurs to Danny that they haven't had the chance yet to look into the killings as two separated cases.

"Did any of the other investigators look into it like it was done by two individuals?" Chin asks Danny.

"What do you mean?"

"What if there are two killers? That would explain how he was always able to keep the doctors from doing anything in their defense while killing the patient first. Don't you think that would be the most logical explanation?" Chin wonders.

"No. What would motivate two people to go on the same killing spree? It's unlikely that our serial killer is a 'team'. Although you're right, it would make the killing 'easier' if there were two. But working as a team is risky and the lack of any evidence, any traces speaks against two people. It's harder to avoid trace evidence and mistakes if there are two people." Danny, just like Steve, had thought about two individuals but he doesn't believe in it.

"If they were both military, they would work well as a team. Maybe their motivation lies in their service? Maybe they both think some injustice was done to them, and now they are trying to right that wrong?" Chin has thought about the motivation for those horrible murders just as much as the other three Five-0, but has been unable to come up with any logical explanation.

But that is just it, there might be no 'logical' explanation. How can there be one for such murders? What normal person would think there is anything logical behind killing in such a way? Chin looks at Danny and is sure that he's pretty much thinking along those lines as well.

"Is there a profile of the killer yet?" Danny asks Chin.

"Only single ones. They haven't been investigating the murders as one case for that long, so there is no profile done yet." Chin read the single profiles for the single killings but is still waiting for the NCIS profiler to come up with one that includes all the murders.

"Did you find any information that might help us in narrowing down the pool of suspects?" Danny hasn't read the profiles yet.

"No, they are not giving us anything. The only thing that's in all of them is: 35 to 45 years old, white, male. But other than that, they vary in their assessments of education, occupation, marriage status. It doesn't give us anything concrete."

"I wonder how they come up with, for example, 38, married, three kids, high school teacher? How would they know any of that?" Danny knows that the profile can often be as completely on the money as it is completely off.

"Danny, did the guy from Norfolk call back yet? Agent Gibbs?"

"Not that I know of. Steve called him before we saw Levin, but he was busy and promised to call back. But, as far as I know, he hasn't yet. We need to call Steve, if we can bypass Dr. Hope that is. He is watching him like a hawk. He wouldn't even let me see him."

"Did Dr. Hope say when we can see him?" Chin can understand that Dr. Hope is very cautious regarding Steve's head injury.

"He said to call in the morning. I tried to reach Cath to at least inform her about Steve, even though Mark said she wouldn't be allowed to see him either. But she's unavailable. I left a message for her."

"I think we should talk to the investigators of the other killings. Maybe they will tell us something that wasn't in the file or Levin failed to mention." Chin calls the information up on the big screen. "If you want, I'll start with the west coast."

"Yeah, okay. I'll take the east and when Kono's back she can try to get the Chicago guy on the phone. Where is she anyway?" Danny hasn't seen her in the last hour.

"She said Charlie called and asked to see her. I don't know what about." Chin informs his second boss about Kono's whereabouts.

Danny and Chin spend the next hours on the phone with various NCIS agents, and comparing notes, trying to get a better picture of their killer.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Steve had managed to get out of bed and take his pill bottle out of his pants in the closet. On the way back he was almost overwhelmed by dizziness, but he made it back to bed in one piece. But the little adventure left him slightly out of breath and with a severe headache.

Steve still has an IV running and he's very grateful that he could grab onto the stand, without it he's sure he would have landed flat on his face. He's leaning back on the bed waiting a few moments before he puts the headrest upright some more. At the moment he can't handle sitting up very well.

He takes his pill bottle and reads the label again. For the first time he sees that there actually is no list of ingredients printed on the label. Why didn't I notice that before? The pills have a name he can't even pronounce and he remembers JoJo's words about what they contain and how they would help him.

His musings are interrupted by a tentative knocking on the door and a moment later it is opened by Max.

"Max! Hello, come in. I'm awake. Thank you for coming so quickly," Steve motions for him to come in. Hopefully unseen by any nurses who would without a doubt inform Mark right away.

"Steve. Good to see you. How are you?" Max steps closer and takes in all the 'stuff' attached to Steve's bed. Thankfully most of it is not used.

"I've been better, but I'm doing okay. Max, I need to ask you a favor. Can I count on you to keep this between the two of us?" Steve looks at his friend and knew before he even asked that Max wouldn't tell anyone.

"Of course. What is it that you need?"

"Can you analyze these pills and tell me what they contain?" Steve gives him the bottle of pills, fully aware that his name is on the label.

"You want me to analyze your pills? Do you have the suspicion that they don't contain what they say they do?" Max looks from the bottle of pills up to Steve and back.

"Yes, I do, Max. How long will it take?"

"Well, Charlie Fong could do it a bit faster." After seeing Steve shaking his head at the mention of their colleague working at CSU, Max continues, "But I could also do it in my lab, I guess I can have the information in about two hours."

"That would be great, Max. Thank you." Steve smiles his thanks at the ME.

Max looks around the room and tries to come up with a way to ask his favor.

"Max, is there something I can do for you?" Steve can read Max pretty good by now, and can clearly see that he has something on his mind.

"Yes, indeed there is. I don't want you to think this is in trade for analyzing the pills. I went to HQ to ask you about this." Max looks very uncomfortable asking this favor.

"Max, just ask me."

"I was wondering if I could come to D.C. with you?"

"How do you even know we're going to Washington?" Steve hasn't told anyone yet, except Gibbs, Danny and Cath. He's pretty sure none of them would have told Max.

"Dr. Mallard told me when we spoke on the phone. I'm sorry, wasn't I supposed to know? I didn't tell anyone," Max looks suddenly worried.

"No, it's fine, Max. I just wondered who told you. Why do you want to come?" Steve reassures Max that it's okay for him to know.

"Dr. Mallard invited me. Well, not directly right now, but he said if I'm ever in town I should come see him." Max is actually blushing.

What is it with Ducky? Why does everyone want to spend time with him? Steve has to smile at the thought of Ducky, Cath and Max having dinner together. "I'll see what I can do, Max. If I can get you on our flight, you can come. You might actually be able to help."

"Thank you, Commander. I mean, Steve." It's obvious Steve just made Max's day.

"You're welcome, but I can't promise anything." Steve will try to get him on the plane but is not sure if that will happen or not.

"Yes, of course. I'll leave you now to rest and call you as soon as I know something. Thank you again, Steve. For trusting me."

"Thank you, Max." Steve knows that he can trust Max with this.

A moment later Max is out the door and Steve is left alone. He hopes that the analysis won't tell him what he suspects. He has no idea how he would handle that. With that thought he lays his head back and tries to get some more sleep.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

"Steve? Are you awake?" JoJo comes into the dimly lit room and steps closer to the bed. She was here to visit Mark Hope and was very surprised to learn that Steve had been admitted earlier in the day.

"Yeah." Steve is really not in the mood to talk to his therapist right now. Not after what he just learned. He had just gotten off the phone with Max who told him that his pills are practically nothing but sugar pills.

"Are you alright?" JoJo looks down at her friend and tries to see any 'damage'. "What happened?"

"Long story." Steve hopes that she doesn't want the long version of it.

"You wanna talk about it?"

"No, I don't. Look, JoJo, I'm really tired and my head hurts. Can we do this another time?" Steve closes his eyes and hopes that she'll get the hint and leave him alone. He needs time to think about what she did.

"Something is obviously bothering you. Is it something I can help you with?" JoJo can clearly see that Steve is distressed about something. Normally he only needs a little nudge by her and he spills the beans. She sits down next to his bed and hopes that will be the case today.

"No, you can't. If you don't mind I'd like you to leave," Steve opens his eyes and looks at his longtime friend.

JoJo almost reels back from the emotions in Steve's gaze. There is hurt, betrayal and confusion clearly written on his face. "Steve, did something happen?"

Steve is debating whether to talk to her about it right now, but he hadn't been lying when he told her that his head hurt. And Mark would not be happy if he found out that he not only had one visitor, but is entertaining yet another one.

"JoJo, I don't know if I can talk about it now. I'm not feeling so good and I need time to think about what Max just told me." Steve tells her tiredly.

"Okay, then please just tell me why you're in the hospital." JoJo can see that Steve is on the brink of sleep. Although she wants to know what has her friend so upset, she can accept that he needs to first come to terms with whatever is eating him.

Steve closes his eyes and tells her about the attack on the base and what happened after that. "I can't remember the last twenty-four hours, Mark told me what happened. He thinks I will remember in the next couple of days."

"Where is Danny?" JoJo wonders why Steve didn't mention him once when he told her about what happened to him.

Steve sighs audibly and recounts the words Danny used back on the base. "Mark said we talked it out and everything is fine, but I can't remember that either."

"Steve, you do know that Danny doesn't see you in that way. He has no problem with you seeing me. He has a problem with therapists for himself, not for others. Granted his choice of words was rather poor and I can understand that you're hurt by them. But I know that he didn't mean them. And you know it too."

"Yeah, I guess so. I don't know… there seems to be a bit of truth behind it. Why would he have said it otherwise? He doesn't think anyone who is taking drugs for mental issues should be in charge of people." Steve looks intently at JoJo, looking for any signs that she knows that he knows he is not taking any drugs of that kind. "You know it's hard enough as it is, with all the worry about losing my commission, losing my job with Five-0 because I'm taking psychotropic drugs. I could be discharged from the Navy because of it, and the Governor could decide I'm not fit to lead his task force. I really don't also need Danny's attitude."

"Steve, you're not going to be discharged or lose your job…"

"I know that! Because I'm not taking any fucking drugs! YOU lied to me… argh…" It was not a good idea to start yelling at JoJo. His head is not taking kindly to his agitation and now the yelling sends his headache into new territory. "Just leave me alone, please," Steve is almost begging now.

This deteriorated so fast he can't even grasp what happened in the last minute. He was so intent on not talking about it with her. But somehow it just slipped out.

JoJo looks in shock at her friend and patient. He is obviously in the middle of a pain attack. His breath is coming in short pants and he's pressing the palm of his hand on his forehead. He groans as he turns onto his side and curls into himself. This reminds her too much of a time not that long ago when he was in agony from another head injury.

JoJo presses the call button and just a few seconds later a nurse comes into the room. She leaves with the promise to inform Dr. Hope right away.

Dr. Jordan steps closer to Steve and tries to comfort him as best she can, but knows that it does nothing to alleviate the pain that is threatening to knock him out.

A few more minutes pass before Mark Hope comes into the room. Steve still seems in the throes of a vicious attack.

"JoJo, what happened?" Dr. Hope is immediately at his patient's side and tries to talk to him. "Steve, can you hear me?"

The question only causes the injured man to groan pitifully and it's obvious that Steve is not able to answer any questions right now. Mark doesn't hesitate and injects another dose of strong painkillers into the IV and they are relieved to see that it takes effect almost immediately.

Steve's breathing calms down and his body relaxes visibly. He blinks a few times but drifts off to sleep without much effort.

JoJo covers him with a light blanket after he settled down and it is obvious that Steve will sleep for a while.

"I'm going to keep him under for the night. I told him no visitors and that he should sleep. Not that I'm not glad to see you, but why are you here? And did I see Max leaving a while ago?" Mark asks while he checks Steve's IV line and makes sure that it's not tangled the way Steve lies curled in the bed. All the while Steve looks completely undisturbed, even as Mark reattaches the heart monitor to him. He turns the sound down and is happy to see that the frequency is slowly returning to normal.

"I came to see you actually, but then I learned that Steve is here. So I came to check on him. I'm sorry, Mark, but I think this is my fault." JoJo tells Mark about her treatment and that Steve obviously found out about it.

"I'm generally against placebos, not because they don't help, but because of the potential danger to the doctor/patient relationship," Mark tells his colleague.

"I know. I very rarely use them, but in some cases they are indicated and the only viable treatment. They did wonders for Steve. He really doesn't need any drugs, but this time he simply couldn't access his coping mechanisms. I knew it was a dangerous game, and I truly hope that I haven't lost him. I did it because it was best for him."

"He might see it as a betrayal."

"Yes, I know. He will question what else I have lied about to him," Dr. Jordan knows that it won't be easy to repair the damage.

"Did you lie to him on other occasions?"

"No. Never. I never lied to Steve. And I never prescribed any placebos before." JoJo is starting to question if doing so now was a wise decision, considering Steve's trust issues. "I think I made a mistake, and I hope that I can remedy it."

"JoJo, you and Steve have known each other for a long time. He considers you one of his closest friends and I know he trusts you implicitly. I'm sure you will work it out. Don't worry, he knows that you would never hurt or harm him intentionally." Mark Hope is sure that his statement will be true.

"I hope so, Mark." JoJo doesn't even want to think about losing her friend over her poor judgment. Her only excuse for this mess is that she really thought she was doing the best for her patient.

They leave Steve alone to sleep in peace and hope that he will wake up to a better morning.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

Chapter Text

PD – Chapter 19

Steve woke up Friday morning, feeling well rested, with a very low level headache and was bored out of his mind in a matter of a couple of hours. He endured being examined by his surgeon, Dr. Kelly, who was very satisfied with his progress. But by noon the nurses were not able to keep him in bed any longer and he was on the search for his clothes, which were hidden at the nurses' station, by order of Mark Hope, who obviously knew his patient too well.

"Steve, what is it I hear from my nurses? You want to leave?" Mark Hope asks his friend after he was called by his staff to please deal with the impatient SEAL.

"Mark, I'm perfectly fine. I only have a mild headache, no dizziness or nausea." Steve looks at his doctor and hopes to be convincing enough to be let go.

"That's good, Steve. That is what we're aiming for. And you're feeling good because you are actually resting and not running around."

"I'm going crazy lying in bed, doing nothing. I'll stay in the office and go home early," Steve knows that he sounds a bit whiny. But he doesn't care, he just wants to leave. "You know, I could sign myself out."

"Yeah, you could. But you won't. Because you're not an idiot," Mark smiles at his friend who is making a snorting noise at the remark about not being an idiot.

"You're pretty much alone with that assessment."

"Oh come on, Steve, nobody thinks you're an idiot. I tell you what, why don't we go down to the cafeteria and have lunch together. We can chat a little bit, and if you keep the meal down and your headache isn't any worse, I'll sign your discharge papers," Mark offers a compromise.

"Really? Okay, let's have lunch. I'm not really hungry, but to get out of here I'll eat." Steve smiles at his doctor and looks down at his hospital attire.

"If you promise not to bolt on me I'll even let you get dressed," Marks laughs at Steve, who looks a bit ridiculous in his hospital gown.

"Depends on what's for lunch," Steve smiles back at his friend.

"Fair enough," Dr. Hope says as he walks out the door to get Steve's clothes.

Steve is left alone for a moment and just hopes that he will stay as well as he is feeling right now. This morning he woke up to an empty room and was feeling really good. Over the course of the last hours the headache had gotten a little worse, but it's just a run of the mill headache, nothing to fret about.

A good ten minutes later Steve and Mark are sitting in the cafeteria. Steve is nibbling on a chicken sandwich but is enjoying his milkshake. He's never had better milkshakes than in this cafeteria.

"You know, they could make a fortune with their shakes," Steve tells Mark after taking another bite of his sandwich.

"Yeah, they are pretty good. So, Steve, tell me, do you remember anything from the last couple of days?" Mark Hope looks at his friend, who is pushing his lunch out of the way, obviously intent on not eating any more of it.

"Yeah, I remember that I talked to Danny before surgery and that I went to NCIS, but I don't know how I got there or how I ended up here in the hospital. But the important parts are back."

"I'm sure the rest will come back in time. Do you want to talk about what happened with Dr. Jordan?" Mark knows that Steve is still struggling with the concept that his therapist and longtime friend lied to him.

"No, not really. She is a potential target, and I need to concentrate on that. Everything else… we'll figure out after the case. It's not important right now." Steve hopes that he can put the betrayal to the back of his mind and not constantly think about it.

"Okay, I can understand that. But Steve, I hope you know that JoJo only had your best interests in mind? She never meant to hurt you, and she surely never meant for you to feel betrayed by her. You need to see this as a medical procedure, not as a lie."

"I'll try to do that, but she did lie. And I wonder what else she has lied to me about." Steve is not mad about taking placebos but is struggling with the implication that JoJo might have lied to him on numerous occasions. He trusted her with 'all' his secrets and he's suddenly not sure that she kept them safe. He has lost his trust in her and that is throwing him more off balance than he ever thought possible.

"Dr. Jordan knows that she took a huge risk by giving you a placebo but she thought it was in your best interest. Steve, she was willing to risk your friendship for you to feel better. Think about that. Taking those pills did help you, didn't it?"

"Yeah, it did. They worked like a charm. That's not what I'm mad about. I just don't know if I can still trust her. She talked to you about it, who knows if she has talked to anyone else? I feel like I have lost the one person I could always go to, always tell everything, be completely open with." Steve hangs his head and wonders why he is talking to Mark so openly about how he feels.

"I know, Steve, but try to see it from her perspective. You needed help and she saw a way to help you and took it. She went with it fully knowing that it might blow up in her face. She is just as miserable as you are."

"Thank you, Mark. I'll think about it." Steve looks at his friend and hopes that he will be satisfied with what little he has eaten. "Will you sign my discharge papers now? I have eaten, and I feel fine. I have wasted enough time lying around and sleeping."

"You don't call that half sandwich lunch, now do you?" Mark motions to the forgotten and only nibbled on sandwich on Steve's plate. "But I think I can let that slide for today. Yes, I'm going to discharge you. But… do not engage in any fighting, running, or any stressful activity. Steve, I mean it. If you will not stay in the office today and at home tomorrow, I won't let you go. I want your word that you'll follow my orders."

"I will. I'll stay behind my desk for the rest of the day and I'll stay home on Saturday. But I am going to DC on Sunday." Steve is sure that the case won't be solved in Hawaii but in DC.

"Good. If you experience any more pain attacks please call me. We'll figure something out to help you. And remember to take your pain medication, and I want you to take the sleeping aid again tonight," Mark tells his patient as he follows him to the station to dispose of their trays.

"I hate taking the sleeping pills, they really knock me out and I don't like that." Steve always had a problem with narcotics; he doesn't like to be that helpless and knocked out.

"Take them, Steve. You need the rest. Besides, Cath is right next to you, she'll watch over you," Mark says with a smile, and remembers that he wanted to ask about Catherine. "I haven't seen her since you've been here. Is she okay?"

"Yeah, she's fine. They have had some conference call with a big wig from Europe where she is needed. It's the third day in a row and she is just thrilled about it. She will be gone all day, but hopefully be home by eight." Steve still struggles to remember to tell the time not in 24 hour form like he's used to do. For him it's way more logical to call five p.m. simply 17.00 h. But 'normal' people seem to prefer the 12 hour version.

A few minutes later Steve has his discharge papers in hand and is considering his options; he could call a cab, or one of his team, or even ask Kamekona to give him a ride. But the decision is taken out of his hand when the elevator doors open to reveal Danny.

"Hey, you're not fleeing the hospital, are you?" Danny asks as he steps out of the elevator.

"Nope, officially discharged," Steve waves his discharge papers around, and looks in mock anger at Danny when he snatches them right out of his hands to study them. "You here to pick me up?"

"Well, I came here to visit you, but obviously now I'm in the taxi business," Danny tells his friend, grinning and giving the papers back after he made sure that Steve indeed was discharged. "How are you doing? You okay?"

"Yeah, I'm good." Steve looks at Danny and after seeing him rolling his eyes at that statement, he doesn't hesitate to correct it at least a little. "Okay, maybe not good, but I'm doing okay. Happy now?"

"No, but I'll take it. You're on desk duty for two days; does that mean you're doing all our paperwork?" Danny grins at the shocked face of his friend.

"What are you talking about?"

"It says so in your discharge papers. Light duty until Sunday," Danny happily informs Steve.

"That little sneak," Steve grumbles as he reads the 'fine print' of his discharge papers. When he looks up he sees a smiling Mark Hope waving from his office door before he disappears behind said door. "I told him I would stay in the office, no need to make it official."

"Well, you said that last time you were discharged and look where you ended up. Steve, it's no big deal. Why are you upset about that? It's not the first time you've been benched," Danny watches his friend who is still grumbling as he presses the button for the elevator.

"No, it's not. But I gave him my word that I would take it easy, isn't that enough?"

"What the heck is with you? He is not questioning that you're honoring your word. Why is that even upsetting you? You're not normally the sensitive type," Danny asks his partner while placing the "sensitive" in air-quotes.

"You're right. Sorry, I guess I'm overthinking everything at the moment."

"Guess so. Any prescription you need filled before we leave?" Danny asks as they enter the elevator and lets his finger hover over the buttons for the floors.

"No, we can go right back to HQ," Steve tells Danny and watches him press the button for the ground floor. "So, did I miss any breaks in the case?"

"No, none at all. I talked to Agent Gibbs, but he would like you to call him back. He said he tried to reach you but only got your voicemail. Was your phone off?"

"Mark turned it off after he knocked me out yesterday. I only realized it this morning." Steve had totally forgotten to call Gibbs yesterday, and after JoJo he was not able to call anyone. He woke up this morning after Mark sedated him and he had been sleeping for more than 14 hours. "I'll call him from the office."

"Yeah, you do that."

"Danny, thanks for bringing my clothes and stuff… again." Steve swings the duffel he's carrying for emphasis.

"Maybe they would be willing to give you a locker here, I mean as you're a guest so often. It might spare me some trips to provide you with fresh clothes a few times in one week. I think you're aiming for a new record."

"Very funny." But Steve can't quite keep the smile off his face; it was kind of ridiculous how often he has been hospitalized this week.

"After you were so adamant that Levin is hiding something, I looked into it. Why he's in Hawaii."

"Did Gibbs send over his file?" Steve asks as they make their way out the hospital to the parking lot.

"Ah… no. He said he needed to talk to you about it. He didn't want to tell me," Danny looks a bit accusingly at Steve.

"Danny, he knows that you're my partner and in command when I'm not there. I don't know why he didn't tell you, I didn't ask him to keep anything from you." Steve wonders why Gibbs kept the information to himself.

"Maybe it's something classified?"

"I don't know, Danny. But we'll find out soon enough. What did you find out about Levin?"

"He flew in from San Diego last Thursday. He rented a car at Dollar and is staying at the Hilton. He gets drunk almost every night at their bar, but is always in his room before midnight. He has a daughter attending the University of Hawaii, studying Marine Biology. I think he simply came here to see her," Danny recounts the information he has gathered about Levin since yesterday.

"Huh, not really what I was thinking about, but thank you for looking into it. Did you come up with any information from the patient lists?"

"No, there are no patients that have seen more than one of the victims. Steve, we really have nothing to base our investigation on. And, honestly, your hunch to go to DC is really not a solid lead either." Danny doesn't want to offend his friend, but he still doesn't see why Steve thinks they will catch the killer in DC.

"I know, Danny. But you were a detective for many years in New Jersey, I'm sure you followed a hunch at times?"

"Yeah, sure, but a hunch won't give you a search warrant or arrest warrant."

"I know that, but when you have nothing to follow up on, you should follow your instinct, right? Besides we don't have any other leads, as you said yourself. I'm sure you had cases where you 'knew' who did it, but you couldn't prove it. I don't know who did it, but I 'know' that he will hit again in DC. Danny, I can't explain it, and I can understand that you are skeptical, because as you so often say, I'm not a cop. But I know how to follow my instincts."

"Since we don't have any good leads, or, for that matter, any leads at all, your hunch is as good as anything. So, let's go to DC and catch the killer." Danny looks at Steve and is happy to see that he is sitting in the passenger seat, obviously no longer having problems from his abused belly.

"Chin and Kono will keep up the investigation on this side. We need to coordinate with NCIS and Navy security to keep all those attending safe. Capt. Jordan might be a target, but she's not willing to stay away. Cath and I will be her security detail, right there out in the open. You will be our back-up, and not be in the open. I don't know yet what Gibbs came up for you…"

"You want to flush him out and hope he goes after JoJo," Danny looks at his partner for confirmation.

"I think he's planning something bigger this time. But he might single Capt. Jordan out to satisfy his personal need for revenge."

"Why are you calling her Capt. Jordan?"

"What do you mean? That's her name and rank." Steve doesn't look at Danny as he explains it to him.

"You always refer to her as JoJo. What's going on?" Danny tries to read Steve but finds him extremely guarded and unreadable.

"Nothing is going on. She is part of an operation; therefore I'll address her as Capt. Jordan. Is that a problem for you?"

"No, no problem. I was just wondering." Danny leaves it at that, but knows that something is not right. He has known Steve long enough to know when something is wrong. He will let it rest for now, but will watch out for any trouble on the horizon.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

Chapter Text

PD – Chapter 20

Steve and Danny make their way into HQ a few minutes past 1400 h and are greeted by Chin and Kono.

"Steve, good to have you back. You okay?" Chin welcomes his boss back.

"Thanks, yeah, I feel fine."

"Hey, boss." Kono hones in for a quick hug.

"So, Danny told me I didn't really miss anything?" Steve looks at his two team members.

"No, Kono and I just finished our background checks into all 'questionable' patients that popped up in our research, but nothing came out of that. It seems that every lead is a dead end. If you even want to call them 'leads'." Chin has been just as frustrated as everyone else about the case. And just as stumped about the total lack of any traces at the crime scenes.

"Did you find out what happened to Dr. Webster's agenda?" Steve looks at Kono, remembering that he had asked her to look into the missing date-book.

"No, I spoke with one of the guys from CSU, and he remembered bagging it, but it never made it into evidence. Charlie told me he went through everything that was sent to him, but the book was not among the evidence." Kono can't understand how the book could disappear. "You think it contains important information and the killer took it?"

"I don't know, Kono. It would be very risky for him to get his hands on that book after it was processed. How would he have gotten access to it?"

"Steve, are you suggesting that it was a police officer?" Danny had ruled that out, but wondered who else would be able to get his hands on the missing book.

"I'm not suggesting anything, Danny. I just think we can't rule out anything. It could possibly be a former patient who might be an officer of the police force or the Navy, or it could be someone completely unrelated to either. Due to the lack of evidence we have to think in every direction. And it just bugs me, how that book disappeared. Something like that normally doesn't happen. Have you asked around if anything has disappeared from the other crime scenes?" Steve asks Kono. He is mad that they lost evidence. Missing evidence is the worst that can happen in any investigation.

"Yes, I did, but so far, I have only heard back from New Orleans. They have 'misplaced' the victims' cell phones. I spoke to one of the agents, and he said the phones never made it into evidence. The phones were on the scene and bagged, but never arrived at their lab," Kono tells her boss.

"Please call every agent in charge, and ask about the evidence. This might be our first lead." Steve tells Kono.

"Right on it, Boss." Kono leaves the three men to make the calls to the NCIS agents in charge of the different crime scenes.

"Chin, have any of the investigators looked into a connection between the victims?" Danny looks at his colleague for that information.

"Everyone cross referenced the patients with the various doctors. You mean if the doctors have a connection?" Chin knows that he didn't look into that, and he hasn't read any report about it from the others either.

"Danny, you think they might have worked together at some point, or something like that?" Steve had ruled that out early because they all had very different backgrounds. Even though they were all former military and in the same age range, their bios were still completely different. He doubts that there will be a common factor.

"There must be a reason why he is killing those people, right? There are a lot of psychiatrists out there, why does he single them out? Why not anyone else? I think they have something in common other than the obvious. And what about the patients, maybe they aren't as random as we thought?" Danny thinks that comparing the victims would be the first step in any investigation and wonders why that hadn't been done. Granted, they have only known the murders were part of a serial killing for a short time, so that might be a reason why it hasn't happened yet.

"No, Danny, the patients can be ruled out, they clearly don't have anything in common," Steve replies. "They range from every gender, age, occupation, in every regard you can think of. They were always locals. And the prime target was the psychiatrist each time; the patients are only collateral damage. But the idea about the doctors might get us somewhere. Danny, you and Chin can look into it, I'll join you after I have talked to Gibbs, okay?" Steve looks at his second in command.

"Yeah, good. Come on Chin, more files to look at."

Chin and Danny make their way into their respective offices after agreeing how to go about the research. Steve watches them go and makes his own way to his office to finally call Gibbs.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Steve sits down behind his desk and gets his phone out. But, before he calls Gibbs he wants to talk to Cath. She came by the hospital last night, but she was only allowed to see him for a short while. Not that Steve would have known, since he had been sedated and slept right through her visit. He had tried to call her a few times this morning after learning that she had been sent home yesterday, but so far he hadn't been able to reach her. Since she was still participating in the meeting at the Marine Base, she may still be unavailable.

"Rollins," Steve hears his girlfriend's voice on his phone.

"Hi, Lieutenant."

"Commander. I was hoping you would call."

"I have actually tried a few times already. Are you still at the meeting? Will you be home tonight?" Steve asks as he unscrews a water bottle to take his next dose of pain medication.

"No, the schedule changed. I'm just on my way to Hickham. I only need to report in, and I think I could be at Queens around 1700 h."

"I'm at HQ."

"What? Mark told me he would keep you until tomorrow. You didn't leave AMA... Steve, please tell me you didn't leave the hospital like that."

"Relax. No, I didn't. Mark released me. I'm doing much better and was going stir crazy lying in bed. I'm doing good, but he benched me for the next two days," Steve grudgingly tells her.

"Okay. Do you want me to pick you up later?"

"That would be great, thank you." Steve finally has the water open and takes a swig from it to wash the pills down.

"So, you're doing better? They didn't let me stay last night, but you seemed to be sleeping peacefully." Cath remembers sitting at his bedside for a few minutes last night and has to smile at the thought that he had actually been snoring; something he doesn't normally do.

"I'm doing okay."

"You should have stayed at the hospital after you were first injured, Steve…"

"No, Cath, even Mark didn't predict that it would get this bad. I'm fine now. Listen, I'm sorry to cut this short, but I need to call Gibbs, so I'll see you in a few hours." Steve wants to end the call before she can worry even more.

"Oh, okay. Ask Chin what time they want us to come to dinner. Remember, we're invited tonight?"

"Will do. See you soon. Love you." Steve is still a little amazed how easy it is for him to tell Cath how he feels about her.

"Love you too." Cath smiles when she ends the call, she's very happy that Steve opens up and can actually express his feelings.

Steve ends the call and still has a smile on his face when he dials Gibbs' number.

"Gibbs."

"Gibbs, Steve here. I'm sorry I didn't call sooner…"

"Your partner said you were in the hospital. Are you okay?" Gibbs knows about Steve's prior head injuries and worries about his friend.

"Yeah, Leroy, I'm fine. Mild concussion, but I'm doing okay." Steve tells him the same he just told his girlfriend.

"How many times have I told you not to call me that?"

"I lost count... Leroy. It's your name." Steve grins, fully knowing that his friend hates that name and knows he's the only one who can get away with calling him that. Although Gibbs has told him not to call him by his first name, there was never much heat behind his request. So Steve keeps calling him Leroy, just to annoy him.

"Are you fit to come to DC on Sunday?" Gibbs asks after grumbling something Steve couldn't understand.

"Yeah, I'll be fine. Did you find anything out about Levin?" Steve switches to business.

"His record is pretty much spotless. There was a complaint filed against him about 'sexual harassment' when he became a Special Agent. But there were never any charges filed and they dropped the complaint."

"Who filed the complaint?" Steve knows that it's easy to get such a complaint by an angry coworker. Some of those complaints are not worth the paper they're written on, but they can destroy a career in a heartbeat.

"Anders Down," comes the short answer.

"Anders?"

"Yes, he was saying that Levin was coming on to him. Down was passed on the promotion to Special Agent, and when Levin suddenly was his superior, well, he filed the complaint. A week later he took back his accusations and quit his job," Gibbs tells Steve.

"That's all there is about Levin?" Steve thinks that isn't much for a twelve year career at NCIS.

"No. His solving rate is above average and he is well liked by his peers and superiors. The last few weeks have not been easy on him. He lost a big case to a technicality and his boss was not happy. And there was a brawl in a bar where he got arrested, but no charges were brought up. But that has all happened in the last six months," Gibbs recounts the information he found out.

"In your opinion, is he a good agent?"

"Yes, I think so. I think he has some personal problems at the moment, but before that he was a very good agent. I think he is trying to use this case to get back on track and that could be dangerous. He might get too focused, making it personal. I would be careful around him. Watch your back."

"I will. Thank you for looking into it for me."

"No problem. Are you guys any closer to solving the case?" Gibbs had familiarized himself and part of his team with the case.

"No, not at all." Steve looks up when he sees Danny standing in front of his office door. He motions for him to enter. "I'm putting you on speaker, Danny just came in."

"Hello, Detective Williams." The agent can be heard over the phone's speaker.

"Agent Gibbs." Danny's greeting is neutral, but not unfriendly.

"Leroy, did you come up with a cover for Danny, and were you able to book us into the hotel?" Steve hopes that it wasn't too difficult to arrange everything.

"You owe me big time, Steve. Well, at least now we're even. I booked you into a two room suite; sorry couldn't do better than that. But I'm sure you will manage, I just hope your partner doesn't snore."

"Who says that Steve doesn't?" Danny feels the need to defend himself.

"He doesn't." Gibbs says matter-of-factly. "Detective, I think I have the perfect cover for you. Since you are rather good with words, or at least you're very vocal, I've arranged for you to be with the Washington Post. As a member of the press who is covering the congress, you will be able to roam the hotel freely and speak with everyone without looking suspicious."

"That sounds good," Steve grins at Danny who is still frowning about the "being vocal" remark. Not that he can deny it, but he doesn't have to like it.

"Speak for yourself. I don't know anything about being a reporter," Danny doesn't want to sound like he is whining, but he kind of does.

"Oh, come on, Danny, being a detective is not that different from being a reporter." Steve thinks that Danny would make a good investigative reporter. "Gibbs, thank you for organizing all that."

"Sure, no problem."

"Listen, we're bringing one more person. Dr. Bergman will be joining us, but he plans to stay with Dr. Mallard so we won't need a room for him."

"Ducky has already told me; he seems very excited to meet your Dr. Bergman." Gibbs needs to school his features to not let a smile slip out while remembering what his ME told him not even an hour ago.

"Yeah, I think they will hit it off pretty good," Steve tells his friend with a laugh. "Leroy, I'll call you as soon as we're in DC. If you have the time would you like to meet for dinner at the hotel? We could talk about strategy and you could meet Danny."

"Sure, call me. I'll bring DiNozzo and Ziva."

"Where's McGee?"

"He's at Quantico for training, so he won't be on the case," Gibbs doesn't elaborate why their youngest team member won't be joining them.

"Oh, okay. Talk to you tomorrow." Steve ends the call without a real goodbye. Gibbs never was very fond of ending a phone call the proper way.

"You're not going to tell me how you know Special Agent Gibbs, are you?" Danny looks at his friend.

"Nope. Told you, it's classified."

"Right, classified. A reporter? Really, Steven?" Danny doesn't seem very happy about his cover.

"I think it's perfect for you. What? You don't like it?"

"No, it's not that. I don't know, seems strange not being a detective…"

"Danny, didn't you do undercover work before? You have a written commendation in your file for helping in a sting operation."

"How do you know about that?" Danny was sure that part of his personnel file was sealed.

Steve only rolls his eyes at him. "Do you really think I would have hired you without checking you out first?"

"You didn't 'hire' me, you hijacked me." Danny needs to remind Steve.

"Yeah, and you loved every minute of it." Steve grins right back at his partner.

"Loved it? You, my friend must have hit your head way harder than we thought if you believe I even liked it. Let me tell you…"

"Yap as much as you like, but you loved it…"

"Yap? Yap? I don't yap. You need to get your head screwed on right, hey wait…" Danny follows his friend out of the office all the while telling him how much he 'hates' him and his job.

They spent the next few hours going over paperwork and the victims' files, hoping to come up with a link between them. But at 1730 h, with little or no progress, they give up for the day. Cath picks Steve up to meet later with Chin and Malia; Danny's on his way to a date with Gabby and Kono is meeting with her mysterious boyfriend. Very much to the dismay of Chin, who is very skeptical of that relationship, simply because she doesn't want to talk about it.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Cath looks at Steve as he walks in front of her, house key in hand to open their home. He had gotten pretty quiet the last half hour and she has the suspicion that his headache is back. "That was a really nice dinner, don't you think?" Cath closes the gap between them and encircles his waist from behind while he inserts the key into the lock.

"Yeah, it was. The cake Malia made for dessert was really great," Steve replies and abandons the key for a moment, turning to his girlfriend.

"Yeah, we could see that you liked it, you had seconds and thirds." Cath smiles at him, happy that he finally has his appetite back. "That's more sugar than you normally eat in a month."

"Probably," Steve mumbles as he leans in for a kiss.

"I hope you left some room for tomorrow's dinner at JoJo's."

Steve ends the kiss way too soon for her liking, turns and says something she couldn't quite hear.

"Steve, what did you say? Hey wait," Cath walks after him into the house and wonders what brought on his sudden mood change.

"I said that I'm not going to JoJo's tomorrow," Steve tells her as he enters the kitchen to get a bottle of water.

"What do you mean, 'you're not going'? We told her on Monday we would come to her dinner party. Why don't you wanna go?"

"A lot has happened since Monday, Cath. I'm not going, but I'm sure she will be happy to see you."

Cath watches him take his bottle of pain medication from the counter and washes down two pills with a swig from the water bottle. "Is your head bothering you again?"

"No, not really. I just want to keep it that way. Mark said I should keep taking the pills on a schedule and not wait until the pain is back. Cath, I don't want to see Cpt. Jordan tomorrow. We… she has done something, and I can't face her right now. Not if I don't have to."

"Captain Jordan? What the heck happened? Steve?" Cath can't believe that he doesn't want to see JoJo.

"Just let it rest, Cath. I don't want to talk about it. Have you seen my sleeping pills? I promised Mark I would take them tonight."

"They are upstairs in the bathroom. Steve, please just tell me why you're upset with JoJo," Cath pleads with her friend and watches him struggle to answer her question. She can clearly see his inner battle and can pinpoint the second he decides to come clean with her.

"She lied to me about my medication. I'm taking nothing but sugar-pills." Steve spits out the last words at her.

"How did you find out?" Cath tentatively asks.

"When I asked Mark if the drugs could cause the headaches, he told me nothing showed up in my blood work. I then had the pills tested. She lied to me. And since she told Mark about it, it makes me wonder who else she has talked to about me. Talked to others about what I have told her. Cath, I trusted her with everything, and now…"

"Steve, she gave you those placebos because she thought it was best for you, so you could…"

"What? You knew about this?" Steve has never raised his voice against Cath, but now he does. "She told you? Cath, tell me the truth. Did JoJo tell you about this?"

Cath looks at her friend, afraid to answer him, not knowing what will happen, but finally replies. "Yes. She told me on Monday. Steve, I have been so worried about you, and I begged her to tell me what was going on. But she refused to tell me anything. Finally she told me not to worry, that you're doing well and that you're not taking any drugs." Cath steps closer to Steve who had stepped away from her, obviously shocked by her confession. "Steve, I swear she didn't tell me anything about what you have talked about. She wouldn't ever betray your trust; you know that she wouldn't. Steve, I'm sorry. I would have told you that I talked to JoJo, eventually. But it has never been the right time. I'm sorry that you found out this way."

Cath looks at Steve for any kind of reaction; but he looks back at her with such a guarded face that she can't tell if he's mad at her or not.

After what feels forever, he finally speaks up. "JoJo had no right to tell you… and YOU had no right asking her. But," Steve stops and sighs, "I don't blame you for what you did. I know it's partially my fault. But right now…" he hesitates again, rubbing his hand across his forehead and through his hair while struggling for words. "I'm sorry, I can't…" He looks around the kitchen at anything other than Cath, trying to say what he needs to say. Finally he gives up. "I can't stay… I have to go…"

Cath can only watch as Steve turns and almost runs out of the house. A moment later she hears the engine of the Silverado and slumps down in the kitchen chair. She puts her head into her hands and lets the tears flow down her cheeks.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Steve's not sure where he is going, but after pulling away from the house, he drives aimlessly for several minutes, trying to calm himself. He feels a little ridiculous at leaving like that, but he needs to clear his head. They are in the middle of a tough case with the serial killings, and he can't allow his personal problems to interfere with that. But that is exactly what is happening, and he needs to put a stop to it.

He needs to clear the air with Danny, because he realizes he's not completely over what Danny said to him. Yes, Danny apologized to him, and he believes that his partner was sorry for what he said. They worked well together this afternoon, but that doesn't mean he can just forget the words. He knows he needs to put it behind him and work through it, but he can't concentrate on that with the issue with JoJo looming over his head.

And now Cath had dropped the next bomb into his lap. He feels a bit overwhelmed right now, and to do his job he needs to push all those emotions down and concentrate on their case. He can do that, but not at home with Cath nearby wanting to talk it all out. He needs to get into his SEAL zone. Shut it all out. Trust in the teamwork and shut every personal aspect out.

In twenty-four hours he will don his uniform and transform into a slightly different person. Back into a SEAL. It couldn't hurt to start the transformation right now.

With his mind made up, he steers the truck towards the Hilton, because one thing is clear, if he wants to succeed with any of this, he needs a good night's sleep.

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

Steve grabs the duffel bag that's always in his truck and makes his way into the lobby of the Hilton. He could check into any other hotel, but Five-0 gets a discount, so why not take advantage of that? For a moment he wonders if this is really the right thing to do, since, after all, he does have a perfectly comfortable bed at home. But he needs to clear his head, and this seems to be a good place for it.

It only takes him a few minutes to get a room and he's on his way to the elevator when he spots Niles Levin sitting at the bar right across the lobby. To put all his personal problems behind for the sake of the case, Steve knows he should clear the air between them.

Steve makes his way over and stops next to Levin. "Mind if I sit down?"

"McGarrett. You're the last person I expected to see tonight." Levin seems genuinely surprised to see him. "Yes, of course, please sit down. Can I get you something?" He's already motioning for the barkeeper to come over.

"A Longboard," Steve tells the bartender after sitting down. "You're staying here at the Hilton?" he asks Levin even though he knows the answer to it.

"Yeah. But I'm sure you know that already. Probably also how often I've sat in the bar or what I had for breakfast. I'm sure you checked me out very thoroughly." Levin says without any anger in his voice.

"Yeah, we did." Steve admits.

"Yeah, well, can't really blame you." Levin takes a swig from his own bottle and looks at Steve, saying, "thank you for letting me work with your team."

"We have the same goal, catching the killer. Personal feelings have no place in our line of work." Steve hopes he will never jeopardize a 'mission' for personal feelings. So far he has always been able to keep his control, even with Victor Hesse who killed his father. It would have been easy to kill him, but that is not something Steve's honor would allow.

"That is not always easy." Levin knows all about personal feelings interfering with work.

"No, it's not."

After a semi-comfortable silence, Levin suddenly speaks very quietly, "I'm sorry."

"What?"

"I'm sorry for what I did." Once he began with his apology his next words are easier to say. Rolling his bottle of beer between his hands, he continues, "You're right, I was not a good officer. And I'm deeply sorry that my judgment got your friend killed and caused you to be injured. McGarrett, I swear I thought I was doing the right thing. Now I know I should not have given you the all clear. But I was so sure that no one could have followed you into the building. But I should have informed you that I changed positions. I am deeply sorry for my mistake. It has taken me all these years to see that I made a huge mistake." Levin knows that he can't undo the past, but at least he is able to see his wrongdoing now.

Steve looks at Levin, and can see that the guilt Levin is feeling is real, and is eating at him. "We should have checked again before we moved further into the building," Steve admits to Levin.

"No." Levin slaps his hand down on the table between them. "No, McGarrett, it was NOT your fault. None of it was. You did everything by the book. It was not your fault. I was responsible for you. Both of you were on your first real mission after training. I should have kept an eye on you... it was my fault. Don't question what you did, you did everything right. You trusted your CO; you did what you were trained for." Levin leans back and slowly shakes his head. "I screwed up. But I didn't realize it at the time. I'm sorry. I don't want you to forgive me; I just want you to know that I regret the outcome of that OP every day. And that I wish it hadn't happened like that." He is finally silent. This is the most Levin has ever talked about the incident, and only the second time that he has admitted his mistake.

Steve looks at his former CO, who had the same training Steve had, something that forges a bond between them, even if Steve doesn't want to admit it. He knows that it took Levin courage to admit his mistakes, even after all those years. Sometimes it takes a long time to even acknowledge that mistakes had been made. "Thank you," Steve pauses a second before he finishes, "Niles." He offers his hand and Levin takes it for what it is. A peace offering.

"Steve. Thank you."

Suddenly the silence becomes a bit uncomfortable before Steve speaks again. "I should head to bed. I'll see you on Sunday. Our flight is at 0630 h so don't be late." Steve takes a last swig from his bottle and gets up to find his room. "Thanks for the beer."

"You're staying at the hotel?" Levin looks at the key card in Steve's breast pocket.

"Long story." Steve grins at Levin and leaves him wondering why he's staying at the Hilton.

It takes Steve only a couple of minutes to reach his hotel room and even less to get ready for bed. He checks his cargoes and even his duffel bag for his medication bottles, but it's clear after a minute that the pain meds as well as the sleeping pills are at home. So much for taking the sleeping aid tonight.

Steve flops down on the bed and gets his phone from the night stand. He wants to send a short message to Cath before he tries to get some sleep.

Cath, sorry I left like that. I'm fine. I need to clear my head, staying at the Hilton. See you tomorrow. Love you. Steve.

After sending the message, he puts his phone back, turns the light off and closes his eyes.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

Chapter Text

PD – Chapter 21

One glance at his watch shows him that he just spent another hour tossing and turning in bed without falling asleep. It was getting rather frustrating, his body was screaming for rest, but his mind just wouldn't slow down. His thoughts have been all over the place since he laid down two hours ago.

At first he was thinking about JoJo, but that was really upsetting, so he turned to Danny, which was not much better. But at least they had talked about the most important parts of their 'fight'. Steve smiles at the thought of 'fighting' with his partner. Most outsiders think that they fight all the time, but that's not true. Danny's way of communicating lets them think he's constantly at odds with his partner, but nothing could be further from the truth. If he ever got quiet, Steve would start to worry, but as long as he rants and raves, everything is just fine.

But some days Danny goes a bit too far with his choice of words and even Steve has only so much patience. Steve knows if he had been on top of his game Danny's words wouldn't have hit him so hard. But now the damage is done and that voice in the back of his head reminds him again and again of what Danny said. And Steve just thinks that some of it might be true. That Danny doesn't really trust him anymore. Not after everything Danny has learned about Steve. It has been a few weeks now since he has brought Grace over for a surfing lesson or just for an afternoon of fun at the beach. Maybe he doesn't want any 'psycho' around his daughter.

Steve punches his pillow in frustration. He just wishes he would finally find his way to sleep. After he stopped thinking about Danny and how he thought Danny was losing trust in him, his mind turned to the case. And that frustrated him even more. He simply can't grasp the fact that they have no leads at all. Every angle they have followed up on has ended in a dead end. He just can't understand how the killer could have committed all those crimes and not leave any traces behind. Or at least any that would help them catch him.

Steve turns onto his stomach and tries to stop thinking about anything. Of course that's an impossibility. After a minute he rolls back onto his side when his lower belly is not too happy about the added pressure. He hugs his pillow closer to his chest and rests his head on the second pillow. The blanket is already half on the floor and the rest of it is pooled at his ankles. But he's just too tired to care about getting a little bit cold, he only wants to sleep. His body demands sleep desperately and he hopes he finally will be able to give in to it.

After another few minutes of letting his mind roam over the events of the day, ending with his conversation with Levin, he finally drifts off to sleep.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

NATO 'Incirlik Air Base' – Adana – Turkey – Early 2002

The Mess Hall was a busy place this early in the evening; hundreds of all kinds of military personnel were trying to get a decent meal. Steve was part of a group of twelve people dressed in light beige camo fatigues without any identification or rank insignia. Everyone seeing them knew what that meant, a SEAL team prepared for taking on a mission behind enemy lines.

They were waiting in line for one more mess hall meal before heading to their final briefing. After that, they were boarding a plane that would take them to their target. It was a quiet group, even though they had young and inexperienced sailors on their team. Such sailors were normally loud and overconfident. Not so the SEALs. It's not like they don't know how to blow off steam, but they would never do that during preparations for a mission. The group was extremely disciplined, calm and efficient. They practically moved as one, as a real unit. Not like a bunch of young sailors or soldiers, excited about their new assignment.

Steve stood last in line with his best buddy, PO first class Dan Geese. They met at Coronado and he, Carl Jennings and Dan hit it off right away. It's normally not good to get attached to someone right from the start, because the dropout rate is over 70 percent in BUD/S. But they just knew that they would all make it, and they did. Jenny was stationed with a different SEAL team at the moment. Steve hoped to stay with Dan, and that Dan would be his chief when Steve was ready to lead a group. He was still a few months from that, and even though they all had their insignia and were considered SEALs, they still had a lot to learn. They had both mastered their six-months-probation on a team and were getting their final 'training' now.

SEAL training is the only training where officers and enlisted men train together. They are considered equals. Of course they have the same command structure as the rest of the military, but it's still different.

"Did you get a chance to call home?" Steve asked his friend as they waited for the line to move.

"Yeah, she's really nervous; her mom is staying with her right now. The closer she gets to the due date the more anxious she gets."

"Hey, it's your first kid, of course she's nervous," Steve tried to calm his friend.

"Guess so," Dan didn't want to admit that he was at least as nervous as his wife.

Steve was about to answer when he was suddenly pushed into his friend. He turned to see what moron had barreled into him, but when he laid eyes on the 'moron', all fight left him. He was stunned into silence.

"Could you please move on?" The lieutenant behind him asked.

"Yes, ma'am, of course. I'm sorry I was in the way," Steve was blushing with his apology when she was the one who should have apologized for running into him. Not the other way round.

"Well, would you move? Maybe sometime today?" Lt. junior grade Catherine Rollins laughed at the flustered young man in front of her.

"Uh… yeah… sorry," Steve mentally shook his head; he was normally not that stunted when it came to the female population of the planet. But this woman seemed to be something special.

"I'm Lt. Rollins, and you are…" it seemed that the young lieutenant was equally interested but much better at communicating that interest.

"Uh… Steve… I'm Steve."

"Mac, Cheese, grab your stuff, come on," their CO's voice called them and interrupted the 'moment'.

"Well, 'Steve', seems that you need to hurry. Maybe I will see you again later?" Lt. Rollins looked at the sailor with a hopeful smile.

"Yes, ma'am. I know where to find you." Steve turned back to his buddy with a huge grin on his face.

Dan only shook his head and grabbed his tray and they both made their way over to their group that was watching the 'incident' with interest. Which caused Steve to blush even more. But he didn't really care, because he knew he would meet Lt. Rollins again.

"Guys, eat up, we're meeting in thirty minutes at the command center," LCDR Levin told his men after McGarrett and Geese were finally seated at their table.

"Yes, Sir," the group answered almost as one.

Thirty minutes later the twelve SEALs were sitting in the command center getting their last briefing about their impending mission.

"Intel says that the group functions as HQ for all the training camps still working in Iraq. Your job is to extract information about them, including all maps and if possible to take as many prisoners for interrogation as possible. We don't expect much resistance. The main group left the camp yesterday. The remaining group is probably heavily armed, but only a handful of people. You can expect to find a group of 12 to a maximum of 20 men. Any questions?" Commander Winters looked at the men sitting around the table.

"Do we have any Intel about the layout of the building?" Steve asked the first question. LCRD Levin had told him that he was expected to lead the small group that would enter the back of the building.

"No, Lieutenant. We only have information about the outside, no Intel on the inner building. But we expect it to be a simple construction. Anything else?"

"What's the extraction plan?" PO Miller asked.

"We expect you to be at point Delta at zero three hundred. You and your packages will be picked up by helicopter." Commander Winters paused to give the men the chance to ask any more questions, but their briefing was very thorough and this meeting was only for final changes. If such would arise. "Good then. Good luck to you." He hoped to see all of them back after a successful mission.

The men filed out of the building and made their way over to the hangar to pick up their gear and get ready for insertion into enemy territory.


*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*


The SEAL team was sitting inside a plane's cargo bay, their only illumination coming from the red light of the jump lamp.

"Masks on." Each team member heard Jump-master Johnson's voice in their ear piece.

Steve secured the mask over his face that would provide him with air during the last minutes of the flight and during the HALO jump. They were currently at 30,000 feet and the ramp would open in a couple of minutes, which meant they would lose the rest of the lowered air pressure and would need the air supply to be able to breathe. The pressure had been lowered continuously during the flight to get ready for the ramp opening. That was the part Steve didn't like about the HALO jumps, the feeling of not getting enough air until you put on your mask. But that was part of the training. It's the only part of training he had to retry for, everything else he had mastered on his first try. But during the low pressure breathing, he had panicked and had to grab the mask before the training officer gave the signal. He was not the only one, and it's normal during training that trainees have to take a second or even third try to master something. It's normal and expected. But it still bugs Steve to this day that he failed on the first go.

Steve looked over to his jump buddy and checked his equipment before Dan checked Steve's. A minute later they gave the thumbs up to their CO. A short moment later the ramp was lowered and it was amazing how loud it got in the bay as soon as the air rushed in. Without the ear pieces they wore, they wouldn't have been able to hear any commands, even if they didn't have their masks on.

The whole group was now gathering on the ramp, waiting for the green light to come on before they jumped out into the night. A moment later they got their signal that they were over the target and without hesitation, the twelve men jumped out of a plane that was traveling at a speed of 480 knots, or 550 miles per hour.

Steve thought it was an exhilarating experience to fly through the night from an altitude of more than six miles, while rushing down to earth at a speed of more than 120 mph. He was happy that they were inserting via HALO, it gave them the advantage of inserting without the risk of traveling on the ground for several clicks. The free fall was over soon and the chute opened automatically at 1,000 feet; that sounds more than it is. The chute needs 600 feet to fully open, so that really leaves no room for malfunction or error. Steve's landing was almost textbook perfect and a look around showed him that his teammates had all made it down safely.

They came down only 400 feet from the target and it took them only moments to regroup.

The group split up as they had planned beforehand. Geese and McGarrett along with two more men, were the first to enter from the back; Levin stayed back to coordinate the two groups. Levin decided not to use a sniper this time, since there weren't any posts on the outside. He left two men to hang back as the back-up, but positioned them at the front of the building.

He had four men at the back of the building, two men as back-up, and five men entering from the front while he remained at the back. So far the OP was picture perfect. But that changed a few minutes later as his back-team led by McGarrett entered the building and disappeared from view.

"No hostiles, all quiet," Levin heard McGarrett's low voice after his team made its way into the back of the building. "Tom and Joe take the upper floor, Geese and I are on the lower floor."

"Roger that. Entry and perimeter all clear, no hostiles." Levin relayed the information after he moved to the right to get a better angle on the side and front of the building.

A moment later he heard shots fired and agonizing screams coming from the back of the building.


*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*


"Roger that. Entry and perimeter all clear, no hostiles." Steve heard his CO giving him the all clear and tapped Dan on the shoulder, motioning for him to move on. He of course also heard their CO and just waited for Steve to give the go ahead.

Steve grabbed his assault rifle a bit harder and carefully made his way further into the building, while his two teammates made their way silently to the upper floor. Dan was right in front of him and they communicated without words before entering the next room. But before they even made it to the door, they heard a creaking noise behind them. A second later all hell broke loose.

Steve was violently shoved in the back while at the same time he watched his friend get hit in the lower back. He knew right away that it was serious, the bullet penetrated Dan's vest at the area around the kidneys. A hit to the kidney is the worst that can happen, bleeding out happens so fast, that not even a surgeon on site can do much to prevent it. But Steve didn't have time to think about it, because the force of the impact of the bullet high up between his shoulders threw him to the ground.

He heard more gunfire, not sure where it was coming from, probably from his two team mates who came down from the upper floor after the shots were fired. Dan was lying right in front of him, looking at him, pleading with him for help. Steve tried to move; he brought his hands next to his shoulders and pushed himself up off the ground. That caused an agonizing pain to erupt in his upper back, and he couldn't hold in the scream that robbed him of all the air in his lungs. He dropped back and hit the ground with a groaning thud. His head hit the floor and his vision grayed from the impact.

Steve tried to get his arms to move again but was unable to do so. The pain in his back stole his breath away and he could only watch as his friend bled to death. Dan looked back at him, calmly, knowing what was happening to him. They didn't exchange any words, they only locked eyes and Steve tried to give his friend strength in his last living moments.

Steve heard the gunfights around him, but simply didn't care what happened. He knew he was just as gravely injured as his friend. Dan had lost all color and his breathing was slow and shallow, it would only be a few more moments before there wasn't enough blood left for his heart to pump. Dan Geese was able to grab Steve's limp hand and squeezed it one last time, but Steve couldn't squeeze back. Dan's eyes had closed a few times by now, but after the squeeze they didn't open again, and a few seconds later he took his last breath.

Steve's head was turned to look right at Dan and seeing his friend stop breathing caused the tears that were pooled in his eyes to fall. He struggled to breathe in; every breath was accompanied by an agonizing pain in his back. The pain traveled up and down his spine, mostly up to his neck. With every second, it got harder to get any air in. It felt like a huge weight was sitting on his back, pressing him down into the ground. He pulled in as much air as he could, but soon he just couldn't get his chest to expand. He couldn't move, he couldn't breathe. Steve knew that he would die in this fucking building somewhere behind enemy lines. In a few moments he would follow his friend, and he didn't even know how it all happened. How this perfectly executed mission could have gotten so messed up from one second to the other.

His last thought was of the woman he had met just a few hours ago. Somehow thinking about her brought a smile to his face, no matter that he was lying in a pool of his own blood with his dead friend lying right next to him. But the thought of that lieutenant, whose first name he didn't even know, gave him an odd sense of peace. A few moments later his eyes closed and lack of oxygen caused him to pass out.


*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*


"McGarrett! Mac! Hang in there, don't you dare die on me! McGarrett!" Steve heard someone shouting his name. He felt like he was floating, but it was also bumpy and someone was still sitting on his chest… and back. Why the heck is everything hurting… why can't I move? Steve tried to open his eyes, but couldn't. And something was in his throat, making him gag.

"That's it McGarrett, come on, fight it. Come back to us." The voice was again yelling near his ear. He couldn't make out who was yelling at him, or why. But he became aware that he was in a helicopter strapped on a stretcher, and it was suddenly frighteningly clear that he couldn't move at all. He was secured by straps all over his body, he was wearing a neck brace and in addition to the brace, his head was secured to the backboard he was lying on. When he realized that he couldn't breathe on his own, but that the air was forced into his lungs via a tube, he panicked, finally opened his eyes and tried to struggle against the binding.

His struggling resulted in even more panic when he realized that he couldn't move a damn muscle, and fighting against the binding caused intense pain in his back. He was on the verge of passing out again, when the face of a medic appeared over him.

"It's okay, Lieutenant. Relax, we'll get you out of here soon. You will be fine. Just relax, let us do all the work."

Steve tried to do what the smiling face in front of him told him, but it was hard when he couldn't breathe or move. His vision was graying again, and the medic said something, but he couldn't understand him. The roaring in his ears got too loud. Finally he closed his eyes and gave in to the drugs the medic had just injected him with.

Next time he struggled to awareness he was still strapped down with a neck brace on, but he was no longer in the helicopter. He was lying on a table in a combat hospital and some French guy with a strong accent was talking to him. Steve had a very hard time understanding him, so after a moment, he gave up and closed his eyes again.

Twelve hours later Steve was in the ICU ward of the small combat hospital, waiting for the transport back to 'Incirlik Air Base', from where he would be evacuated to Ramstein in Germany. It was the first time since he got shot that he had been awake for more than a few seconds. A surgeon stood next to his bed and looked down at him with a frown on his face.

"Lieutenant, can you hear me? Blink once for yes."

Steve did as he was told.

"Very good. Twice for no, okay?"

Again one blink. Steve looked at the doctor, not understanding why he couldn't move. He couldn't even breathe and it finally dawned on him that he was paralyzed. The bullet must have hit his spinal cord. Shit.

"Lieutenant, I know you have a lot of questions and I will try to answer them all. You were shot in the back. The area affected by the bullet is high up between C4 and Th4. The bullet fragmented and did a lot of damage to the area, and there is extensive swelling. It doesn't look like your spinal cord was directly injured, but it is compromised by the swelling. We need to keep you as still as possible to prevent the fragments from moving and doing more damage. Lieutenant, I won't lie to you, this is a very serious and complicated injury. We can't help you here. You will be flown to Turkey and from there directly to Ramstein, where you will have surgery. I know your first question is whether the paralysis is permanent." The doctor stopped to give Steve a moment to comprehend everything that he had just been told. "I can't give you an answer for that. We have to wait and see. But it's a very good sign that you can feel pain even though you have no control over your muscles. All we can do right now is keep you stabilized and prevent any further damage. I'm sorry I can't give you any prognosis."

Steve looked at the doctor, still not completely understanding the severity of his injury. He understood that he might end up paralyzed but didn't understand that his condition was still listed as critical.

"We will keep you sedated to make the flight back bearable for you. Just try to relax, next time you wake up you will be in Ramstein." Steve watched the doctor inject something into his IV and just moments later he was back under.

When he opened his eyes, he was not in Ramstein but was looking into the smiling face of that Lieutenant from the Mess Hall.

"Hi there. I was just delivering the mail when I saw you here. I'm really sorry about your friend. I heard what happened."

Steve looked at Lt. Rollins and tried to figure out why he was not in Germany as promised, but obviously on the base in Turkey. And why they allowed him to wake up. His throat hurt, and his back was on fire. But he tried to muster a smile for the Lieutenant. It will be months before he learns that she had been sitting next to his bed for twelve hours straight, watching over him.

"There is really bad weather between here and Germany, they couldn't risk flying you out on such a bumpy ride. You'll have to stay here for a few more hours." Lt. Rollins provided him with the information she heard from the surgeon. "Your doctor said he will be here in a few minutes, they want to do some tests. Don't worry, I'm sure you will be fine. They said you're doing much better than they hoped for. You keep that up, okay?"

Steve blinked at her and hoped she would stay a little longer.

"By the way, this is not how I pictured seeing you again, Lieutenant McGarrett," she told him with a smile.

Steve frowned at hearing his last name and rank; he had hoped she would call him Steve and tell him her first name.

"You'd like me to call you Steve?" Lt. Rollins saw the frown and interpreted it right, smiling again at him. "I'm Catherine. It's nice to meet you, Steve. Listen, I'm really sorry, but I can't stay any longer. You keep fighting, okay? You're going to be fine." Catherine Rollins leaned over and softly kissed his forehead. Seeing the smile on his face, she knew that she'd done the right thing and would make sure to get a real kiss the next time they saw each other. And she would make sure to keep an eye on this Lieutenant McGarrett.

Five minutes later Steve got prodded and poked by a commander who prepped him for his transport to Ramstein. Shortly after, he was again sedated and fell asleep hoping he would be able to move when he woke up again.

That didn't happen when he opened his eyes again, but he was lying in a nice hospital bed in the ICU in the clinic in Ramstein. Two doctors with serious faces were in front of him and a nurse was checking all the lines going in and out of his body.

"Lieutenant McGarrett. We were just discussing your case. You've been here for 48 hours now, and I'm sorry to inform you that the swelling is still too intense, so we still can't do the surgery. Any operation would be too risky right now and would unfortunately do more damage than any good. We're going to make you as comfortable as possible, but I'm afraid the next few days will not be a pleasant experience." The doctor looked at Steve in sympathy, knowing how scared his patient must feel. Trapped in his body, in pain, confused and not knowing what will happen.

"I promise you we will do everything to get you back onto your feet. You just have to have a little patience." Army Lt. Colonel Myers looked at his newest patient and hoped that he would keep up the progress he had shown so far. McGarrett was in much better shape than anyone had hoped. After the massive blood loss and trauma he had received, he had flat lined twice but was now doing remarkably well. "We contacted your father, and he will be here in the morning." Myers smiled at the stunned face that was staring back at him. "He said he'd be on the next flight out."

Steve's heart monitor beeped in a faster rhythm at the news and they could see that he was very excited about his father coming to visit. Steve closed his eyes and tried to calm down, but thinking that his dad was flying half-way around the world to come see him brought tears to his eyes.

"Lieutenant, you need to calm down. I think it's time for you to go back to sleep, but we will let you wake up again when your dad arrives. Go to sleep, Lieutenant."

Steve couldn't fight the medication for long and soon drifted off to sleep, thinking about seeing his dad in a few hours.

A loud pounding sound knocks at his consciousness. Still thinking of his dad, Steve struggles to come awake. There is not just a pounding at his door, but also in his head. Awareness comes back slowly and with it comes disappointment. He's not in the hospital in Ramstein anymore, and his dad is not standing on the other side of his door. He's lying tangled in his sheets on his bed in the Hilton. It's daytime and someone is knocking on his door.

"Yeah, yeah, coming!" Steve calls to the closed door as he scrambles out of bed, almost stumbling over his boots lying on the floor. He's only dressed in blue sleeping shorts and looks like a man just fallen out of bed. His hair is standing in all directions and he grumbles something unintelligible on his way to the door. He holds his aching head for a moment and tries to come fully awake.

One look through the peephole causes him to break out into a smile and he opens the door to reveal Catherine.

"Good morning!" she greets the half sleeping man in front of her. She can't really keep the laughter out of her voice at the sight in front of her.

Steve steps aside and motions for her to come in, yawning widely while doing so. "Mornin' Cath."

"Uh, wild night?" Catherine looks at the chaos in the hotel room. Clothes are lying around, thrown there during his search for his medication. His bed is a complete mess, much like the man standing in front of her.

"You could say that." Steve looks at her and grins. He knew that she would be there this morning after he texted her last night. "I'm sorry about last night," he tells her as he grabs a T-shirt and puts it on.

"No, don't be sorry, I understand. I should have tried to talk to you, not go to JoJo. I'm sorry about that." she has had a lot of time to think about her actions and she would understand if Steve were mad at her.

"It's okay. Really, I'm not mad at you." Steve steps closer to his girlfriend and the kiss that follows makes up for the night apart.

"I brought your pain pills, figured you're overdue," she tells him after they separate.

"Thank you," Steve takes the bottle of pills gratefully; the headache made itself known as soon as he opened his eyes. But it was nowhere near as bad as the days before. Still he intends to take the medication Mark prescribed for him. "I'll take a quick shower and if you haven't eaten, we can go have breakfast."

"Steve, do you have any idea what time it is?" she grins at him.

"Um… no?" Steve looks around for his watch that he took off last night.

"It's past noon," his girlfriend informs him.

"What?"

"You obviously slept really well," she tells him as she hands him new underwear out of his duffel bag.

"I was dreaming about you. How we met. Well, that was only a small part of the dream. But for the first time I dreamed about it without waking up from it." Steve is a bit amazed how calm he was during his dream about that incident; normally he wakes up drenched in sweat like after a nightmare.

"Did you get shot in your dream?"

"Yeah, it was the whole thing, right until my dad came to see me. That's when you knocked on the door." Steve wonders how far his dream would have gone if Cath hadn't come and woken him. "So, I guess it's not breakfast then, how about lunch?"

"Sounds good. Go take your shower, I'll wait here."

"Care to join me?"

"Only if you promise me lunch afterwards," Cath tells him but is already getting rid of some of her clothes while following Steve into the bathroom.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

Chapter Text

PD – Chapter 22

Saturday

"Danno, can we go see Uncle Steve?" Grace's question comes totally out of the blue and surprises Danny.

"Not today, Monkey. Steve is not feeling well and needs to rest," Danny tells his daughter, who he picked up this morning from Rachel and Stan's house. He places his coffee mug in the sink and sits down across from her at his dining table, where she's coloring until the rain stops and they can go out.

"Doesn't Uncle Steve want to see me anymore?" Grace asks her father quietly as she looks at him with sad eyes. She had been wondering about that for a few weeks now.

"What? Why do you think that?" Danny looks at his daughter in total shock. "Steve loves you, Monkey. Why do you think he doesn't want to see you?"

"We haven't been to his house for a long time… we haven't been swimming or building any sand castles… we didn't go eat pizza… we didn't go surfing… and you promised me you would let me go flying with Uncle Steve, but we didn't do that," Grace counts off all the things they haven't done using her small hands, just like her father would. "And last time we saw him, you yelled at him and called him crazy for letting me swim out into deeper water with him. Is he mad at me because he got into trouble with you because of me?" Grace looks at her father for an answer.

Danny can't believe what he's hearing; could it really be that he kept his daughter away from his friend on purpose? No, I didn't! "Steve is not mad at you, Monkey. In fact he asked me the other day when we will be coming by again. And I'm not mad at Steve, I'm sorry you thought I was. I just got a little scared seeing you so far out in the ocean. But I know that Steve will always make sure that you're safe. I'm sorry, I shouldn't have yelled at Steve like that."

"Then we can go see Uncle Steve?" Grace asks hopefully.

"Well, we can call him and ask. But, Monkey, Steve was a little sick this week and he might not feel so well. So, if he says no, it's not because he doesn't want to see you. Okay?"

"Okay. We can bring him shave ice, that will make him feel better," Grace suggests her universal remedy when not feeling well.

"I'm sure he will like that. Go call him and ask." Danny motions for her to use her own cell phone, since Steve's number is programmed into it for emergencies. And getting shave ice with her favorite uncle is an emergency in Grace's book for sure.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Max Bergman looks down at his suitcase, the one he has now packed and repacked four times. He asked his roommate to lend him his suitcase, figuring it wouldn't be very professional to travel with Star-Trek-themed-luggage.

He hasn't been this excited in quite some time. Dr. Mallard is a legend and his hero. Well, something like that. Ever since Max attended a lecture by Dr. Mallard he has wanted to meet the man. But the chance never came, and that is why he is so grateful that Steve is willing to let him go to DC with them.

The commander has no real reason to allow him to come, and Max has the suspicion that he had to trade in a favor or two to get him on the plane. He will be sure to make it up to him.

"Max, you want to take all that stuff?" Quinn O'Donnell, Max's roommate, looks at the overflowing suitcase and then at Max.

"Yes, these are just my essentials." Max shakes his head at his friend. It's not like he is taking two pieces of luggage with him. Speaking of which, maybe I should take two bags instead of one suitcase?

"Essential? Don't you think they have coffee mugs in DC?" Quinn picks the Captain Picard coffee mug out of the bag, and holds it up laughing.

"It's the one I'm using next week, it would be bad luck to change the schedule," Max tells him in all seriousness. He rotates the use of his many themed mugs on a schedule and he never changes the order of that. He will certainly not start now.

"Okay." Quinn knows that his genius friend has some ticks, but who doesn't? "So, you're going to meet with Dr. Mallard?"

"Yes, while my colleagues stay at the hotel, Dr. Mallard has invited me to stay with him." Max is not sure if McGarrett arranged that for him so that he's not in the way, or if the NCIS' ME really wants to spend as much time with him as possible. Either way he's happy about staying with Dr. Mallard.

"How long will you be gone?"

"I'm not sure. At least three days?" Max pronounces it as a question since he doesn't know how long their stay will be. "The congress goes on until Wednesday. So, I guess we will be there as long as that… or until they catch the killer," Max continues.

"Do they have a lead?" O'Donnell has been following Max's work closely. He is in his final year of residency at Queens Medical and already received a job offer to stay at the hospital after he finishes his education. There was a job opening in radiology and he accepted their offer. He can't wait to work with Dr. Hope again. O'Donnell developed a great eye for diagnostics and Dr. Hope offered him a job on his team. An incredible opportunity.

"I'm not sure. But I assume they are going to the capital for a reason."

"Well, I'm sure you will have an interesting time. Would you like to go out for dinner tonight?" Quinn asks as he carefully puts the mug back into the suitcase.

"Yes, I would like that very much."

"Okay, great. Say seven?"

"Yeah. Will you make reservations?" Max looks at his roommate for confirmation.

"Yeah, you just finish your packing, I will worry about dinner," Quinn smiles and already has a restaurant in mind he has wanted to try for a while now. He leaves Max to his chore and goes to make the reservations.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Chin looks at his wife of a few months and still can't quite believe how lucky he was, that she was willing to marry him. After all he had put her through. She never corrected anyone when they were accusing her of leaving him, when he was the one who was stupid enough to push her away. For her protection. Yeah right. Now he knows just how insane that really was.

"What's on your mind?" His wife asks him while putting on her shorts.

"Just thinking of how lucky I am," Chin tells her as he moves over and hugs her close to him, inhaling her scent.

"Can't argue with that," she tells him.

"Oh, really?" Chin has to laugh at his wife's teasing.

"Really." She gives him one last kiss and wiggles out of his embrace. "I think Cath and Steve liked it here yesterday."

"I'm sure they did. At least Steve enjoyed your cake," Chin tells his wife with a fond smile. "He didn't eat much the whole week."

"Yeah, well, you can't blame him. A concussion will take anyone's appetite. I'm glad he's doing better. He seemed okay." Malia of course knows about Steve's history of head injuries and as a doctor, has a much better understanding about the risks Steve is facing with every new hit to the head.

"He was limping slightly when they left," Chin had noticed the barely visible limp when he showed them to their car.

"I don't think he's aware of that. It's a normal response after surgery to your lower belly. I'm sure the stitches are smarting some, that's what's causing his limp. Don't worry about it; I'm sure in a day or two he will be back to walking normally." Malia explains the not quite natural walking after surgery.

"I hope so." Chin hopes that his friend will be back to a hundred percent while they are in DC.

"Why aren't you and Kono going to DC with them?" Malia had wondered about it, even though she's happy to have her husband on the island and not a few thousand miles away.

"The Governor didn't approve. Steve tried to persuade him to let us come as well; he argued he needed his whole team in DC. But Denning didn't go for it. I think it was hard enough to get the approval for Danny to go. And I have no idea how Steve managed to get Max on the military flight. I think I don't even want to know what kind of favor he had to trade for that."

"Well, I'm glad you're staying."

"We will have a lot to do, don't think we will have the time off while Steve and Danny are in DC," Chin explains to Malia.

"I know. I'm just glad you're here and not so far away, that's all." Malia tells him as she ties her running shoes. "So, are you ready for getting your ass kicked, Lieutenant Kelly?"

"Oh, you bet, Dr. Kelly. Bring it on."

The two make their way out of the house for their half hour run. They don't often have the chance to work out together, so this was a very welcome opportunity on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Officer Kono Kalakaua looks over to the man she has fallen in love with. For a few weeks now they have been trying to see each other as often as they can, but it's difficult.

They both have busy jobs and it doesn't make it any easier that they try to keep their love a secret. Something Kono won't accept for much longer.

First it was her, who didn't want to reveal the name of her boyfriend to anyone. Kono simply didn't know how to tell her friends. Her law-enforcement friends. Chin and Steve both believe that Adam is the head of the Yakuza, and she knows that Adam had his hands in how Joe was injured. Steve wouldn't tell her what happened, but she found out that something went down at Adam's house.

Her friend wouldn't tell her either, so she let it rest. Grudgingly, but for the sake of their friendship she stopped asking. She believed him when he told her that he is trying to turn the business legit. That he is not involved in any criminal activity. She is not completely blinded by love and knows that he is using the businesses his father built with money that was probably gathered with methods that are against the law.

But there is no proof and as long as there isn't any, she will not think twice about loving Adam. She herself, and Five-0 have walked the line of legit activities quite often. She and Steve even broke the law without question when they stole the ten million. But they never did anything illegal for their personal gain. They never did anything to get any monetary gain. All their deeds were done to save lives. And in Kono's eyes that makes a big difference. Not to mention that they were done under the guise of 'Immunity and Means'. Therefore they were sanctioned by the law by the Governor.

Of course all that thinking doesn't help her in figuring out how to tell her cousin or her boss and friend that she is sleeping with the enemy, so to speak.

"What are you thinking about?" Adam Noshimori looks over to his lover.

"Nothing."

"Come on, Kono. You're thinking about your friends again. Admit it. Do you want to break up with me?"

"What? No. No, I don't. It's just…"

"You don't know how to tell them," Adam tells her. He figured out long ago what is bugging his friend almost every time they see each other. "Why don't you just tell them? It's none of their business anyway."

"It's not that simple. And you know it. Why aren't you telling your people that you are with a cop?" Kono knows that he didn't tell anyone about them yet. "Maybe we're just not meant to be together."

"Kono. We have talked about this. They wouldn't understand…"

"What is not to understand? I thought you were running a legit business now? Why would 'they', whoever they are, have anything against you seeing a police officer?"

"I'm doing business with a lot of 'shady' people," he puts the shady in air quotes and hopes she understands what he is trying to say. "Nothing illegal though, but they would be very nervous if they knew I'm in a relationship with Five-0. Kono, it's not that easy to cut all binds to the Yakuza. My dad was very much involved with them. But I am not." Adam gently tucks her hair behind her ear and goes on, "I will get all our businesses out of their hands. But it takes time. I'm not doing anything illegal, but I can't say that about my associates. My business with them is legit, but I can't say that all their business is as well. Does that make me a criminal? No. I have no proof about any illegal activity. I swear, I don't." Adam looks at Kono and can see that her doubt is growing the longer they keep their relationship a secret. They have to do something about it. "Why don't we tell your friends together? At Five-0."

"You want to come to HQ and tell Danny, Chin and Steve that we're together?" She looks at her friend like he has just lost his mind. "Do you have a death-wish? If Chin didn't kill you, Steve would for sure, and what was left of you would be disposed of by Danny." Kono has to smile a little when she thinks about her three 'protectors'.

"Okay, I was just thinking that we need to stop with the hiding."

"I know," Kono whispers as she crawls closer and settles on top of Adam. "And we will. But now is not a good time." Kono descends on her lover and a moment later there is no more talking.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Professor Dr. Ben Jordan sets the table and looks over at his wife who is preparing one of her salads for their dinner tonight. "You know, I can't wait to continue the conversation with Steve," he tells JoJo.

Ben Jordan is a professor at the University of Hawaii, at the 'Matsunaga Institute for Peace & Conflict Resolution'. He specializes in Human- and Civil Rights and Justice. He loves to discuss the theories about nonviolent conflict resolutions with Steve. It's not like Ben is a pacifist; how could he be when he's married to a navy captain, and the father of three sons, two of which are also in the military? But the science of Mediation and Negotiation has always fascinated him. All his life he has been the one who tries to settle the fights between his family members and friends. He is always the word of reason, and mostly he succeeds in avoiding a bad fall out between two people.

But that doesn't mean he wouldn't defend his family or himself with force if necessary. He loves to talk to Steve about his vast experience in conflict solution, both violent and nonviolent ones. It always gives him good examples for his students to be able to analyze real conflicts. That is, as far as Steve can talk about such subject matters.

Steve came to him when he took on the role as head of Five-0, to educate himself on civil rights in regards to law enforcement. He was well versed on the aspect of the rights concerning military law and rules of engagement, but a police force is something else. Ben Jordan was more than happy to help him out and show him the different nuances.

Ben has to smile when he thinks about people thinking that Steve does not know anything about procedure and such stuff. As if he would not prepare himself prior to taking on a new job. That would be totally against everything he had learned during his career. Preparation is everything, and will save lives. Everyone who thinks Steve doesn't know about police procedure just doesn't know him at all. Whether or not he follows said procedure… well that is a different matter.

"I'm sorry, honey, what did you say?" Ben asks his wife who obviously has been trying to get his attention for a minute or two.

"I said I doubt that Steve will come tonight," JoJo tells her husband and busies herself again in the kitchen.

"Why wouldn't he come? Isn't he feeling better? I thought he was released from the hospital? Is he okay?" Ben was concerned when he heard about Steve's bad luck this week.

"No, I think he is doing a lot better," JoJo looks up at her husband who wandered into the kitchen.

"Did something happen?" Ben knows that something is wrong, something his wife didn't tell him.

"You could say that. I can't tell you about it, though. But Steve is not talking to me right now. And I highly doubt that he wants to spend any length of time in my company."

"Beth?" Ben Jordan sees his wife's sad eyes and knows instantly that something big must have happened. He can clearly see that she thinks she has lost one of her oldest friends. "What happened?" he softly asks her.

"I really can't tell you, it's privileged. I did something… and Steve lost his trust in me. And I don't know if I can gain it back." JoJo looks at her husband willing him to understand that she can't talk about any details.

Ben smiles at her encouragingly, "Steve does not only trust you, Beth, he also loves you. You are one of his best friends. He'll come around, no matter what you did. He will talk to you, and you'll work it out."

"I don't know. I used very poor judgment, and made a huge mistake. It helped him immensely… but the price for that was too high. If I have lost Steve's trust for good, he will get in real trouble, Ben." She wants her husband to understand that this is not just about her, but mostly about the dire consequences for Steve. "He will not talk to another therapist, he would never do that. He only talks to me because we have known each other for so long. You have no idea how much he struggles with his evaluations every six months. He is not one to open up. But he needs therapy, he knows that, but still, he would not go see someone else. If I can't fix this, Steve will be the one who will suffer from my mistake." JoJo was thinking about nothing else but finding a solution for the problem she created.

"Trust me, it might be a bumpy ride, but in the end it will be fine," Ben engulfs his wife and is already thinking about how he can help in the matter. He simply couldn't watch his wife suffering and he is very fond of Steve as well, and doesn't like to see him miserable.

"I hope so," JoJo leans against her husband and prays that he is right. He usually is.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Steve frowns at his vibrating phone, seeing Grace's picture flashing with every ring. He has all kinds of scenarios in his head, and none of them are good. "Gracie! Is everything okay, where is Danno?" He answers her call and expects to hear bad news.

"Hi, Uncle Steve. Danno is in the bathroom. Can we come see you today?" Grace's shy voice can be heard from the phone.

"Does your dad know you're calling me?"

"Danno said I have to ask you first because you were sick this week. I can bring you shave ice, that will make you feel better. Can we please come see you?"

Steve has to smile at the pleading tone of his partner's daughter, "I would be very happy to see you today, Gracie, but I'm not home at the moment. How about we meet in an hour? We could go for a swim and later we can go eat pizza, if you both like that."

Steve has to pull the phone from his ear when his honorary niece squeals into the phone, happy to be seeing her uncle in a short while. "Grace! Gracie, give the phone to Danno please."

"Hi, Steve. Is it okay to come by? If you're not up to it, she will understand," Danny tells his friend as he watches his daughter rummaging through the closet in search of her bathing suit.

"No, it's fine, Danny. Beach and Pizza okay for you? We're still at the Hilton, but we'll be home in about an hour."

"What are you doing at the Hilton?" Danny asks, still watching his daughter pulling all the clothes out of his closet.

"Eh… long story." Steve curses himself for telling Danny where he is right now. "What are you doing, Danny? Redecorating? Those are very strange noises I hear in the background."

"My daughter is looking for her swim suit," comes Danny's answer.

Steve can hear the smile in his partner's voice. "She has one at my place, tell her to stop making a mess." Steve can just picture Danny's clothes thrown around the apartment. He mentally shakes that picture out of his head. "See you in about an hour, Danno." He doesn't wait for a reply but ends the call and turns back to his companion across the table. "Gracie and Danny are coming over, I hope that's okay? Sorry I didn't ask first."

"No, that's fine, I like Grace coming over. So, I take it, you're really not coming to JoJo's tonight?" Cath can't believe that he is not going.

"No, I'm not. I will see her in the morning and I will be civil around her, and act 'normal'. But I will not socialize with her," Steve stubbornly tells her.

"Well, that will be a little hard to do, since we're sharing a suite with her and Danny."

"I bunk with Danny anyway, so no need to spend any time with her outside of work."

"Steve," Cath rolls her eyes at him.

"What?" Steve looks at his girlfriend, already knowing that he has to talk to JoJo before they arrive in DC. Her life might be in danger, and it would be unprofessional to act like he is right now. "I'll talk to her on the plane, okay?"

"Good."

Half an hour later they are on their way home to spend the afternoon with Grace and Danny. Later in the evening Cath will leave to meet with JoJo and the trio will visit their favorite pizza parlor.

It will be a nice finish to the last day before they go to Washington and hopefully catch the serial killer before he can harm anyone else.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

Chapter Text

PD – Chapter 23

Danny Williams looks around for his friends, but for once he's the first to arrive. It's barely five in the morning and that is normally not Danny's time to be anywhere but in his bed. He didn't sleep well and was up long before his alarm went off. He took a long shower and had an early breakfast at one of the all-night-diners. He just loves it that he can have breakfast at any time of the day. It's his favorite meal and other than most people he tries something new almost every day. Not that he doesn't have a favorite dish, of course he does, but since he's been in Hawaii he has tried so many things he can't even remember all their fancy names.

One day he was even adventurous and tried something with more fruit in it than he eats in a month. He will never tell anybody, but he really liked it. Today though he went with a very traditional breakfast of eggs, hash browns and bacon. With buttered toast and jelly on the side. If Steve had seen all that greasy stuff he would have told him in no uncertain terms what that was doing to his body. With a slide show on his iPhone even. Danny shudders at the images of clogged arteries and damaged hearts Steve showed him the other day. He wonders where his friend finds that stuff.

Danny gulps down the last of his by now almost cold coffee and throws the cup into the waste basket. All under the watchful eye of the security guard who has been eying him since he entered the waiting area. Granted he doesn't look very military, but he does have a visitor's badge prominently clipped to his shirt. Danny subconsciously looks down at himself and wonders why the guard is watching him so intently. He doesn't seem to be interested in any of the others waiting for their flights. There are a few small groups standing around the area.

He is just about to go over to him when the door to the waiting area opens to reveal JoJo, or better Captain Jordan. She is dressed in her service khakis, and that answers Danny's question about what Steve and Cath will be wearing today. He had been asking himself what uniform they would travel in or if Steve would even wear his uniform.

"Danny, good to see you. You're early," Cpt. Jordan addresses Danny as she shakes hands with him.

"Yeah, well. Honestly? It's my first time flying on a military transport, and I was not sure what to expect," Danny tells her a bit sheepishly. He had meant to ask Steve, but forgot about it.

"Ah, I see. Nothing to worry about, Danny, it's not much different than a 'normal' flight. Actually we're in luck, we're flying with the Aeromedical Evacuation Team. They normally transport wounded soldiers out of war zones, but today they are on transport duty from Tripler to Walter Reed. I think we have a stop at the Naval Base Coronado." Cpt. Jordan informs Danny of their transport.

"Coronado?"

"Yeah, I heard they have a few people there who need transport to Bethesda."

"So we're not flying with any missiles or anything like that on board? With whatever they normally transport on these flights?"

Cpt. Jordan actually has to laugh at Danny's worried face, "No, Danny, we're not flying with any missiles."

"Don't say that, you never know what Steve will carry around," Danny tells her with a laugh. "Speak of the devil," Danny says and motions to the door.

Steve and Catherine have arrived. And they look very much like the officers they are. Danny has seen Steve only a few times in uniform, and that was always in his dress blues, or working uniform. This outfit was new to him. And if he's honest the khaki doesn't scream Navy at him. Well, neither did the green camo Steve had on for his training week. Catherine on the other hand, in her blue working uniform she normally wears looked always like a Navy officer. Danny needs to remember to ask Steve why he has a different working uniform than Cath or the rest of the Navy.

Danny watches his two friends as they come to attention in front of JoJo. Their greeting is very formal, and Danny wonders if that is just protocol or if there is something more behind it.

"Captain," Steve greets the officer who outranks him.

"Commander, Lieutenant." Cpt. Jordan looks a bit irritated at Cath and it's obvious to Danny that this formal greeting was not because of protocol, but because Steve didn't want to talk to her.

"Danny, good morning. You okay? You look tired," Steve asks his friend as he turns away from JoJo.

"Couldn't really sleep after I took Grace home, but I hope to get some shuteye on the flight," Danny tells his friend.

"I wouldn't bet on that," Steve mumbles before he continues. "Sorry that you had to cut your weekend short. Will you get her again next weekend?"

"Yeah, Rachel said it would be okay." Danny was pleasantly surprised by his ex-wife's gesture to allow him to get Grace two weeks in a row. "And thank you for letting us come over yesterday. I know you weren't feeling so great, but Gracie had really missed you."

"No, Danny, it was fine. We want you both to come over whenever you would like to," Danny tells his friend. "I missed her too," he adds quietly.

"I'll make sure that it won't be that long again," Danny promises his friend.

"Good." Steve looks at Danny and sees that he's carrying his gun in its usual place on his belt, "Danny, you have to check-in your gun when we board."

"What? Why? You have your gun… I mean, you do, right?" Danny noticed when they came into the waiting area that Steve is not openly carrying his service weapon, but he is sure that his partner is armed.

"Yes, I do. Ankle holster. But I'm in uniform and authorized to carry any gun I like on any military flight. Or civilian flight. But you're a civilian guest." Steve raises his hand to stop Danny's protest, "you're law-enforcement, I know. But in the Navy's eyes, or the Air Force with which we're flying, you're a civilian. I'm sorry, Danny, it's my fault; I forgot to get authorization for you to carry your gun on the flight. Your weapon will be in the cabin in a secure box until we land. Sorry."

"But we all went through that training program with the US Marshals Office, so we can carry our gun on flights." Danny still thinks those two hours were a waste of time, but unfortunately a requirement for all law-enforcement officers who want to keep their weapons on their person while flying. The TSA has pretty strict rules about that.

"That doesn't apply to the military." Steve tries to explain to his partner.

"Oh, okay. I guess I won't need my gun on the flight anyway." Danny doesn't have a problem with surrendering his weapon for the duration of their flight; he was just surprised to learn that he's not allowed to carry it.

"Well, I hope not," Steve grins at his friend.

They get interrupted by a small ruckus at the door, and have to smile when they see Max Bergman entering with a suitcase that would be sufficient for a four week vacation.

"Max! Over here," Steve calls out to their ME.

They all watch Max Bergman making his way over to the corner where they are all waiting.

"Steve, thank you so much for allowing me to come with you," Max greets Steve with a handshake, something he normally doesn't do.

"I'm glad I could get you on the flight. Max, have you met Cpt. Jordan?" Steve asks his friend without even looking at his therapist.

"I can't say that I have. Captain, nice to meet you," Max is not sure what to do, but seeing the warm smile on the captain's face and the outstretched hand, he relaxes and offers her his own hand.

"Please call me JoJo. I have heard a lot about you, Max." JoJo smiles at the ME.

"Ehm, well, yes, thank you. Catherine, good to see you again," Max is glad to turn to a familiar face. He is still not quite comfortable meeting new people, but it's easier for him while he is with friends. And he certainly counts Five-0 and in extension, Catherine as friends.

"Hi, Max."

Before they can talk some more they all turn when the door opens again to reveal Agent Levin. Danny looks at his partner, expecting another scowl, but is surprised to see a smiling Steve who actually walks towards the new arrival.

"Niles, good morning. Let me introduce you to the others," Steve greets the NCIS Agent to the astonishment of Danny and Catherine. "I'm sure you remember Lt. Rollins?"

"Yes, of course. I'm glad to see you under better circumstances," Levin stretches out his hand which Cath reluctantly takes. There is obviously some animosity between those two.

"Agent Levin." Cath remembers the last time she saw him, and that is a very dark memory. Steve suffered a terrible injury because of him; that is something for which she will never forgive him.

"Niles, this is Cpt. Jordan. She will be attending the conference. You already know Danny and Max." Again Steve is not looking at JoJo, but keeps his eyes trained on Levin.

"Yes, of course. Captain." Levin keeps the greeting short and professional. "Steve, can I talk to you for a minute?"

"Yeah, sure," Steve tells him and moves out of earshot with him.

Danny watches the interplay and wonders what he had missed. Last time these two were together, Steve was ready to rip Levin's head off, and now they seem to be best buddies. Danny can see that Steve is listening intently to what Levin has to say, he nods a few times, even lays a reassuring hand on his shoulder. After a couple of minutes they shake hands and come back to the group.

Danny looks at his friend, but Steve doesn't elaborate on what just went on. Before he can ask him about it, they are called to the security check as their flight is ready to board.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Steve of course knows that Danny is a bit confused about his behavior towards Levin, and Steve forgot to tell him about his conversation with Levin Friday night at the Hilton. No wonder Danny is throwing some irritated glances his way while they are waiting on the tarmac to board their plane.

The security check was a breeze and the group is now waiting patiently, making small talk as they wait. Steve sees JoJo and Cath standing a little away, and JoJo is glancing his way from time to time. Catherine is probably telling her that he promised to talk to her on the flight. He is still angry at her, fully knowing that his anger is irrational, but that knowledge doesn't really help him. Steve knows that JoJo had his best interests in mind when she prescribed the placebos. And that is really not the problem. She talked to both Mark and Cath about his treatment. That is something he can't forgive. She had no right to do that.

There is that nagging voice in the back of his head that wonders what else concerning him she has mentioned to other people. Has she talked to other people about what he has been telling her in absolute confidence? To her husband, Cath or Danny? He would die of shame if they knew about some of the things he has told her. She knows things about him that he doesn't want to become public, not even to his closest friend or the woman he loves.

Steve becomes aware that Danny is talking to him, and obviously has been for a while now. "What? Sorry, Danny, what did you say?"

"Where the heck were you? Never mind," Danny waves his friend off when he starts to answer him. "Ambulances are coming. How many people can they transport on one flight?"

"That depends. If they are not transporting any material, and only wounded, there is quite a lot of space in there. They can transport up to 36 critically wounded that need to be transported lying down plus 54 ambulatory patients. But there won't be that many on this flight."

"Wow, they can transport 90 patients in one go?" Danny thought that was pretty impressive.

"Yeah, but they are not only used to transport soldiers, they were also flying the wounded after the earthquake in Haiti. The AirEvac team does humanitarian missions as well."

"Were you ever flown out on such a flight?"

"Yeah." Steve doesn't really want to talk about the time when he was one of those critically injured people who even needed full life support during the flight. "It shouldn't be long now before we can board." Steve motions to the last ambulance pulling away.

If he saw it right there were only six gurneys and a handful of walking patients brought onto the plane. It takes another five minutes for an airman to appear and tell them that they are ready for the group to board.

"Max, Danny, come on, let's get a seat," Steve ushers his two friends onto the ramp. He feels even more responsible for them now than usual, since they are not used to military protocol and Steve sees it as his duty to make sure that they both have a safe trip.

A few minutes later they are all buckled in safely in their designated seats and are waiting to take off. Cath is sitting to the left of Steve and Max and Danny are on his right with JoJo and Levin down the row on Cath's side. There is one long row of seats along the side of the cargo bay. Only half of the plane is fitted with gurneys for the wounded, the rest is left for the seats and equipment they are transporting.

"Do we get service on the flight?" Danny speaks up again.

"Service, Danny? You mean, like a flight attendant?" Steve looks at Danny in amusement, not sure if Danny is serious or not.

"Yeah. I mean it's a long flight."

"It's only five hours to our first stop in Coronado."

"Yeah, but almost six more to Washington. Don't we get anything to eat or drink?"

"Well, we will eat on the base. We have to wait for refueling before we can fly the rest of the way." Steve looks at his second in command and has to smile at the thought of seeing Danny on a 16 hour non-stop flight in this uncomfortable seat.

"What are you smiling at? I think that was a very reasonable question."

"Yes, Danny, it was. Sorry, the service is not first class, but when we reach cruising altitude you can at least wander around." Little does Steve know that they are heading right into a storm front and they will definitely not wander around the cargo bay.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

Chapter Text

PD – Chapter 24

It is a strange experience to take off sitting in a plane sideways. Something Steve has never liked very much. It is not too bad when the plane has reached its final altitude but takeoff and landing is kind of strange while not facing forward.

But today it's a very smooth takeoff and it takes them only a few minutes to reach their cruising altitude. They all seem to relax a little when the plane levels out.

"You said we can walk around?" Danny looks at his partner, who he is sure has sat on flights like this or at least similar ones hundreds of times.

"Yeah, but you have to wait for the green light to come on," Steve tells Danny and motions to the small LED lights along the side over the seats. They are all alight in a fade red at the moment.

"Oh, okay. Why are they red?"

"Don't worry, Danny, they are only checking all systems before they give the all clear on deck." Steve hasn't even finished when the lights turn to green and they can hear various clicks from people eager to get out of their uncomfortable seats. "Come on, Danny, I need to talk to you," Steve leans closer to his friend so that only he can hear him.

Danny looks at his partner and follows him. They make their way across the cargo bay and disappear behind a huge rack that spans from the deck to the ceiling.

"Where are we going?"

"To the office," Steve grins at Danny.

"Right."

They come to a stop in front of two doors, one sign on it says 'Crew' and on the other it says 'Officers'.

Steve opens the door without even knocking and motions for Danny to get in. It's a small area with two bunk beds and a couple of recliner-chairs mounted to the floor with a table in the middle, also screwed in place. And what looks like a built-in fridge. "It's for the pilots on long flights. No one will come in here in the next two hours." Steve explains before Danny can even ask. "The crew's one is exactly the same, by the way. Except it is bigger, I think they have four bunks."

"I saw a report about the new 380, they have something like this for their pilots and crew, just a lot more luxurious." Danny remembers the documentary he saw the other day.

"They have to. Sometimes they fly for a really long time with refueling in flight," Steve says as he opens the fridge. "I'm not your flight attendant, but I can give you a soda if you'd like one?"

"Is there water in it?"

"Yeah." Steve takes a bottled water for Danny and for himself out of the little cooler unit. He comes back to the table, gives Danny the water and sits down with a sigh.

"You okay?" Danny thinks that his friend looks rather well, and not like someone who spent a good portion of the week in constant pain, in the hospital and had surgery, twice.

"What? Yeah, I feel fine. I guess I'm just a bit frustrated. Sorry. Listen, Danny, we need to talk. When this case is over, we need to sit down and have a 'real' talk. I can't go on like this anymore." Steve raises his hand to stall Danny's startled reaction before he goes on, "and we need to get things in the open. What you said… I know you're sorry… but… Danny, I'm not over it." Steve looks down and gathers his thoughts. "I'm not mad at you." At the unbelieving gaze from Danny he is quick to reassure him, "I'm not. But we need to talk about it; and not just for a few minutes while I'm doped up on painkillers and can't think straight."

Danny looks at his partner pretty much speechless. He thought that they had cleared the air, and they were working fine together on Friday and had a good day with Grace just yesterday. This was kind of a surprise for him. More so that Steve talks this openly about it.

"Danny, this is not a bad thing. I just need some answers for a few things that are nagging at me. But we have no time for it now. Now we have to talk about Niles."

"Niles? Can you please tell me why you are suddenly best buddies with Levin?" That is something Danny has been wondering about since this morning.

"I'm not. Danny, trust me, I'm not." This will get a bit difficult to explain, Danny doesn't know about the placebos, JoJo, and that he spent the night at the Hilton. "I met Levin in the bar at the Hilton and we had a talk. We came to an understanding, I think. But, Danny, something is not right with him. I can't put my finger on it, but I trust him even less now. I believed what he said, that he's sorry, and that he admitted a mistake. But, I don't know, Danny. My gut tells me not to trust him."

"You said that from the beginning. We will keep an eye on him, but your friend, Gibbs, didn't find anything on him. Right?"

"No, he didn't. Nothing concrete at least. But I don't believe Levin's reasoning why he was in Hawaii. He told me this morning about his daughter."

"Was that when he took you aside in the waiting area?"

"Yeah. Why did he do that? That was long off the table, why start it up again? He knows that we investigated him, I told him about it. I think he wants us off him. Throw us off by giving us very calculated information. He is hiding something, and we need to find out what that is. I told Chin to dig deeper into the time he's spent on the islands."

"Steve, I think you're interpreting something into it that is not really there. Most likely he just wanted to come clean after your talk in the bar. By giving you the last information that was still missing. What do you think he is hiding? Huh, Steve? What?"

"I don't know, Danny. I just wanted to tell you that we talked and that my opinion hasn't changed. I don't trust him."

"Okay." Danny takes a deep breath and after just learning that his partner still has some issues with him he needs to choose his next words carefully. "But so far he hasn't given us, or even you, any reason to believe that he's keeping anything from us." Danny sees Steve starting to protest and waves him off, "but as I said we will keep an eye on him. And we won't leave him alone with anyone. Okay?"

"Okay." That's all Steve wanted from Danny. "Thank you."

"Now… tell me what's with you and JoJo and why you were at the Hilton." Danny grins at his friend; it's obvious that Steve thought he was getting out of telling Danny about his problem with his therapist. No such luck.

Steve sighs again and tells his friend about what he asked Max to do for him, and what the outcome of it was. He tells him about his conversation with JoJo, and Catherine's involvement. Ending with spending the night at the Hilton and he even tells him about his dream.

"So, something good did come out of that mission! You met Catherine," Danny tells his friend with a smile.

"Yeah… yeah, I did. You know she sat at my bedside for twelve hours. I didn't know it back then, she didn't tell me." Steve thinks back to their meeting while he was still in Bethesda, still bound to a wheelchair because his legs wouldn't work like they should have. But at least he could move his arms and upper body after the swelling went down and they operated on him. But it took him three months to walk again. She was at the hospital to have surgery on her knee that she blew out while stationed in Turkey. They did a great job; she doesn't have any problems with it. While she was there recovering they spent some time together in PT.

"She's a great woman, and you're really lucky to have her." Danny hopes Steve knows how lucky he really is.

"I know, Danny." Steve gets up and almost falls back into his seat when the plane suddenly dips. They obviously hit some turbulence. "We should head back."

"You need to talk to JoJo before we reach DC," Danny tells him the obvious.

"I know, and I promised Cath to talk to her during the flight." Steve needs to grab for the doorframe as a more severe turbulence makes the plane take another dip. He can feel his stomach rolling in unison with the motion of the aircraft. He is taking some deep breaths and hopes to keep his breakfast in. Mark told him that nausea could be a side effect of the pain reliever he's taking, adding that to the concussion from a few days ago makes him very prone to motion sickness.

Both men hang on tight to any surface they can grab on to, in case the bumpy flight turns into a rollercoaster ride again. They make their way back over to their seats and can see that Max switched places and is now animatedly chatting with Cath. When he sees Steve and Danny approaching Max moves back to his seat, but Steve motions for him to stay.

"Commander McGarrett, it's good to see you again," Major Finn greets Steve as they are about to sit back down in their seats.

"I'm sorry, but I don't recall having met you." Steve looks at the major after fastening his seatbelt, not recognizing him at all.

"No, you wouldn't. It's very nice to see one of my former 'passengers' alive and well again," Finn tells Steve and the other three in earshot. Max, Danny and Cath seem very interested to hear how the major knows Steve.

Steve looks at the officer, still not knowing when they met and still obviously waiting for an explanation.

"Last time you flew with us you were sedated and on full life support. You were the most critical injured we flew out of Incirlik in 2002. Frankly, Commander, I wouldn't have put my money on you. I'm very happy to see that you obviously recovered."

"I'm here thanks to you guys." Steve thinks that the work these Air Evac teams are doing is nothing short of amazing.

"You can transport patients who are on life support?" Max asks the major.

"Oh, yes. You see, normally we fly people out of war zones. A lot of them are critically injured; they are often on ventilators or need other intensive care equipment. Our job is to get our injured troops from a front hospital to a clinic that can better deal with their injuries." Major Finn explains, all the time grasping one of the litters mounted to the floor to keep from falling during the turbulence. "Today though we're more on a training run than anything else. There were some repairs done on Boing's plant in Long Beach, and the flight to Honolulu was a test flight. But we're also taking those guys back to Bethesda," he motions to the few patients who came on board with them.

"So this is not your normal route?" Max wants to know.

"Oh, no, not at all. I mean we're flying where we're needed, but that seldom includes Hawaii," Finn tells them with a smile.

"Thank you for getting me out back then," Steve stretches his hand out and is glad to be able to express his gratitude for what they did for him. They made sure that he was stable and that no movement endangered his spinal cord. They prevented him from ending up in a wheelchair. At least they had a huge part in it, just like all the other people who took care of him after he got shot. Even Levin had a part in his rescue, Levin made sure that he was safely transported to the helo without further injury during said transport.

"You're very welcome, I'm glad we could help you." Major Finn shakes the offered hand, and looks at Steve for a moment. "What happened to your head? Are you okay?" He motions to the still visible cut and bruises from his run in with PO Thomas.

"I'm fine." Steve has no intention to tell the tale. He would rather forget that embarrassing encounter.

The major has met enough SEALs to know that the discussion is over, and if the SEAL says he's fine, then so be it. But it's in his nature to offer assistance, "if you need to lie down now, or later on the second leg of our flight, let me now and I'll prepare a litter for you." In the major's opinion the commander looks a bit green around the gills and is pretty sure that he suffered a concussion and isn't feeling 'fine' during this rather bumpy flight. But he also knows that SEALs are determined and that he will most likely simply ride it out.

"Thank you, but that won't be necessary," Steve tells him. He will not lay down on one of those litters, no matter how sick he might get.

"Okay. If you change your mind, just come see me." Major Finn says his goodbye for now and turns to tend to his patients again.

The mood gets a bit somber after he left, Danny, Cath and Max again were reminded that their friend was a combat veteran, who has experienced things probably far beyond their imagination. They were reminded of how lucky they all are that he is among them and very much alive and well.

The red light above their seats never changed back to green, so they were all forced to stay in their seats for the rest of the flight to the mainland. After four long miserable hours they are finally on their final approach to Naval Base Coronado.

Steve managed to not get sick, but he still feels nauseous and hopes that the second part of their trip to DC would be a smoother ride than the last five hours. Due to the different time zones it's already early afternoon in Coronado. They have a layover of about 90 minutes which gives them ample time to grab something to eat as Steve has promised Danny.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

The three officers and the three civilians enter the huge mess hall to get a late lunch. They have at least 90 minutes to kill until the second part of their trip to DC. Steve promised Danny food, and he's one to keep his promises. He knows that the food in the mess hall is actually very edible, he ate every meal here for a little over six months. At least he hopes that it's still pretty good.

Steve leads the group to the end of the line of a handful of very tired looking guys. They only have to wait a couple of minutes until they can choose their meal. The service is very efficient, which is important since most of the guys eating here have only a very limited amount of time to get finished with their meal. Steve smiles when he thinks about some of the fast meals he 'enjoyed' here so many years back.

"Wow, Steve, this is really good," Danny says between two bites of his pot-roast. "You sure you only want a sandwich?"

"Yeah. Glad you're enjoying your meal. They have a dessert bar over there on the right." Steve motions to the huge selection of desserts.

"Do not worry, I have every intention of raiding it," Danny tells his friend.

"I'm sure you do." Steve shakes his head and takes another bite of his sandwich, glad to be rid of the nausea from earlier. As soon as they left the airplane he felt better.

"Steve, you and Cath plan to be my 'protective detail' in DC? You really think that will be necessary?"

Steve's head snaps up when he's addressed by Cpt. Jordan, "yes, ma'am," he tells her and feels everyone looking at him. He glares at Cath, who just kicked him under the table. "Yes, I believe you might be in danger. Cath and I will stick to you while Danny will be in the background. We will brief you in the morning when we meet with NCIS." He sees Cath kind of smiling, his speech obviously found her approval.

"I'm looking forward to seeing Agent Gibbs again," JoJo tell the people around the table but looks only at Steve, who is still trying to avoid her gaze. But she was at least able to catch his eyes once or twice. She is very determined to talk to him before they board the plane again. But it's obvious that Steve will keep avoiding her. So she has to play the rank card. Seeing that he's done with his sandwich and knowing that he won't eat any dessert, she stands up and looks at him again. "Commander, I would like to have a word with you. Please follow me."

A deer caught in the headlights would be the perfect description of Steve's look right now. That she would pull rank was not something he anticipated. Of course he has no choice, "yes, ma'am, of course." He stands up, excuses himself and follows Captain Jordan.

His friends back at the table think that he looks more like a lamb being led to the slaughter house than a Navy SEAL on his way to a meeting with a captain. They can't suppress a little grin at the sight.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Steve looks straight ahead and tries not to think about the little smirks he saw on Cath's and Danny's faces when he left the table. This is not fair. On the other hand he is kind of glad to get it over with, and he knows that he wouldn't have had the courage to seek her out. And he's sure JoJo knows that perfectly well. She knows him inside and out and can probably even read his mind. He tries to keep the smile in when he thinks about that, but it's too late, JoJo has seen the smile. Damn.

They reach a table at the end of the mess hall, far away from prying eyes and ears. JoJo looks at him as he approaches the table, and smiles reassuringly. But he can see the sadness and uncertainty in her eyes. It hurts him to see that, and it hurts even more to know that his behavior is putting it there.

"Steve, would you like to sit down?" JoJo sits down at the table and hopes Steve will follow her example.

He sits down across from her, but thankfully it's one of the smaller tables, so they are not that far apart.

"I'm sorry I pulled rank just now, but I feel we need to talk. And it didn't look like you would have made the first move?" JoJo keeps it hanging like a question.

"Guess not." Steve looks everywhere but at JoJo.

Cpt. Jordan sighs, he is not going to make it easy. "Steve, will you listen to me, and give me the chance to explain myself? Can you do that?"

"Do I have a choice? Or will Captain Jordan order me to listen?" Steve knows that was his anger talking, "I'm sorry, that was uncalled for."

"You have a choice, if you don't want to talk to me, I won't make you. It's your choice, Steve."

Steve looks at her and makes his decision, "okay. I'm listening."

"Thank you, Steve." Even Steve is aware of how relieved JoJo sounds that he's willing to listen to her. "I know you feel betrayed by me," JoJo begins tentatively and gauges his reaction, but there is none. "When you came to me after your first flashback after Korea I was very worried. You never had any flashbacks without being on drugs or having a fever. For you to have such an episode was very alarming."

Steve looks up and can see how serious JoJo is about this, he hadn't thought about that fact before. But she is right, he never had any serious signs of ASD or PTSD without the additional factor of fever or narcotics. "I hadn't realized that," Steve quietly tells her.

"I know." She looks at him and seeing that she has his full attention, continues, "you went through a terrible ordeal, one you were only very slowly coming to terms with. You needed help fast, faster than any drugs would give you. If I had prescribed you any 'real' drugs, we would probably have needed weeks to find the right dosage, or even the right drug. Steve, you always had a very powerful mind, if I could tell your mind to get better… I knew it would work."

"I feel kind of stupid that I fell for some sugar pills," Steve admits.

"What, you would rather have the flashbacks, than take some 'sugar pills' and work through your issues?"

"When you put it like that…"

"Steve, you should be happy that they worked like they did," she holds up her hands to stop his protest. "As a doctor my job is it to do the best for my patient. Steve, sometimes it's best for the patient not to know every detail of his care. Sometimes it's best to tell him about his treatment in stages. When he is ready to handle it all. But, Steve, this is not about the placebo, is it?"

"No," Steve looks at her and is not really sure how to explain how he feels.

"Okay. You do know that I didn't lie to you to hurt you, or to make you look stupid like you call it? You know I lied to you about your treatment because it was best for you at the time. And Steve, please believe me that I would never do anything that would jeopardize your mental health. If I thought you needed 'real' drugs, I would give them to you right away."

"I know that," Steve tells her.

"Will you tell me why you are so mad, that you can't even look at me?" JoJo softly asks him while getting up from her seat and coming to sit beside him, not touching him, but still close.

"You told Cath and Mark about it," he says so softly that she has to strain to hear him. "Did you also talk to them about the things I've told you?"

"NO. Never. Is that what this is all about? You're worried I might breach privilege and tell what you tell me in confidence? Steve, please look at me." She waits a moment until he locks eyes with her. "I swear I never ever told another soul anything of what you told me," she pauses to let it sink in before she continues. "Steve, you have known me for over 15 years now. You know I would never betray your trust."

Steve is only able to nod, he can't speak right now. He wouldn't trust his voice.

"I realized that it was wrong to tell Cath about your medication. And I'm deeply sorry for it. I shouldn't have done that, Steve. I apologize for my misconduct. But again, I swear I never discussed any of what you are telling me with Catherine."

"She said you wouldn't tell her anything at first. Why did you in the end?" Steve finally found his voice again, even though he knows it sounds like he will start crying any minute now. But JoJo has seen him in worse shape, so he's okay with that.

"She was so worried and distressed about your fight. And she felt so guilty for not taking any of your calls, I just couldn't let her leave like that. But I should have kept the information about your medication out of the conversation. I'm sorry, Steve." She looks at her friend and has to ask what she has been wondering about since they came to the airport this morning, "you are not mad at Catherine about it?"

"No. She had no right to go to you, but she did it because she was worried and I didn't tell her anything. It was partially my fault. I can't be mad at her. We talked about it and made up," Steve blushes a little when he thinks about how exactly they had made up.

"I'm glad you're not angry with her. I know I shouldn't have talked to Cath, and you have every right to be angry with me, Steve. But I had to talk to Mark. I was talking to him as a colleague who was treating you for a head injury. And again, I didn't tell him anything about what we talk about. I only told him about your medication. He is your doctor and he is bound to that privilege just like I am. He wouldn't break your trust, Steve. Sometimes we have to confer about your treatment. For example, when his treatment might interfere with mine or vice versa."

"Did you talk to anyone else, like Danny?"

"NO. Absolutely not. Not Ben, not Danny, or anyone else."

"I wouldn't want anyone to know about the things I tell you," Steve tells her in a low voice.

JoJo is well aware that he is not using past tense, which gives her a little hope. "I will never tell anyone, Steve. You have my word as your friend, your doctor and an officer."

"Please don't lie to me again," Steve hasn't asked the one thing he still needs to know. "Have you ever lied to me before?"

"No. No, never. I didn't keep any information from you, I didn't lie to you and I didn't prescribe anything other than what I've I told you before this."

Steve looks at his friend, he has known JoJo all his time in the Navy, and he always felt safe with her. He always trusted her, from the minute he met her. He knows that she told him the truth, and he knows that she wouldn't hurt him on purpose. She is one of his best friends, he loves her and the thought of losing her has weighed heavily on him the last few days. "Okay. I believe you." Steve tentatively smiles at her.

"Thank you, Steve. You don't know how much that means to me. I'm so sorry for all of this."

"I'm glad you made me talk about it. I hated being mad at you," Steve admits. Steve stands up from his chair and winces when a twinge of pain goes through his belly.

"Hey, you okay?" Of course that didn't go unnoticed by JoJo.

"Uh huh, the seat belt pressed on the incisions during the turbulences. It hurts a little, but it's not too bad, just shouldn't sit for so long." Steve stands tall again and the pain is almost gone.

"Major Finn offered you to lie down during the flight, maybe you should take him up on that offer?" JoJo knows that the still healing wounds from the surgery hurt a little. It doesn't matter that he was cleared for duty, the wound would still smart some, and sitting with a seat belt over the belly has to hurt.

"Maybe if it gets too bad during the flight, but I think I will be okay."

"Okay. We should head back, before they send out a search party," JoJo says with a smile.

They start to go back when Steve holds her back, "JoJo. Wait a second." Steve closes the gap between them and engulfs her in a hug, not caring what people might think if anyone would see them. But it looks like no one is interested in them at the moment. "Are we good?"

"Yes, Steve, we're good. Thank you." JoJo hugs him back and revels a moment in the knowledge that she didn't lose him as a friend.

They separate and make their way over to their friends' table, both with suspiciously wet eyes.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

Chapter Text

PD – Chapter 25


The second leg of the flight to DC was uneventful after they left the storm front behind. They landed at Andrews Air Force Base shortly after midnight local time. Steve had called Gibbs from Coronado and told him about the delay for refueling and taking on injured sailors to be transported to Bethesda. So their dinner plans for today were cancelled; instead they would meet early in the morning for breakfast.

Steve is totally surprised to see Ducky waiting for them. "Ducky, I didn't expect to see you tonight." He greets the ME with a friendly hug.

"My boy, it's good to see you again. It's been a long time," Dr. Mallard is very happy to be able to greet his friend.

"Let me introduce you to the rest of our team. Of course, you remember Cath," Steve smiles as the two of them hug enthusiastically. "Dr. Mallard, this is my partner, Danny Williams."

"Please call me Danny. Nice to meet you, Dr. Mallard." Danny shakes hands with the ME.

"Likewise, Danny."

"Ducky, you talked to our ME on the phone. This is Dr. Max Bergman," Steve has to grin at the look of awe on Max's face.

"It's nice to put a face to the voice. Welcome, Max. Thank you, Steve, for bringing us together."

Steve only nods at him and wonders if Max will find his voice again, but it doesn't look like it, so he keeps going with the introduction.

"Ducky, you remember Captain Jordan?"

"Of course, how could I forget? Dr. Jordan, I would be honored if you would join Catherine, Max and me for dinner tomorrow at my house?"

That little information makes Steve look at Cath; he had no idea that she and Ducky had already made dinner plans. She only smiles back at him.

"It would be my pleasure." Jordan loves to chat with the versatile doctor. His field of expertise in forensic psychology is most fascinating.

"I hate to interrupt… Dr. Mallard, please meet Special Agent Levin from NCIS San Diego. He is working the case for NCIS."

"Agent Levin, I have reviewed your report about the killings on the mainland. It's good to meet you in person," Dr. Mallard tells the agent.

"Dr. Mallard, I've heard good things about you. I would like to hear your profile on the killer if you have developed one yet."

"We will all meet with Gibbs in the morning, and will discuss the plan for the day. And of course Dr. Mallard will inform us about his findings." Steve wants to end this conversation in this unusual place of the airfield. He wants to get his people safely to the hotel since they could all use a few hours of sleep. They have a long day ahead of them.

A few minutes later Max Bergman and Dr. Mallard are on their way. Niles Levin also said his good byes; he will be staying at the same hotel, but insisted on his own car. Steve found that request a little odd, but is also glad not to have to spend so much time with him.

Steve has to sign for the Navy issued van and a few minutes later they are on their way to DC. The trip should not take them more than thirty minutes since Andrews Air Force Base is only about 20 miles from their hotel.

"Why are you driving?" Danny pipes up from the passenger seat.

"Because the car was issued to me?" Steve grins at his second in command.

"Wouldn't it be logical then, that *I* would drive a car that was issued to *me*?"

"It would."

"AHA!" Danny almost yells in triumph. "Then tell me, Steven, why are *you* always driving the car that was issued to *me*?"

"Well…"

"Ha, you don't have an answer for that, do you? You control freak!"

"I'm *not* a control freak, and of course I have an answer for that," Steve very smugly grins at Danny.

"Oh really? Well, I can't wait to hear that," Danny tries to ignore the snicker from the back seat. JoJo and Cath obviously having a good time listening to them.

"I never drove *your* car."

"What? What!? You always drive my car…"

"Nope. I never drove your Mustang," Steve reminds Danny of the car that he had years ago.

"What the heck are you talking about? You seriously think I would have let a Nutjob, one that I had just met, I might add, drive my car? Of course you didn't drive my Mustang."

"See, I never drove *your* car," Steve is still grinning and Danny is getting suspicious.

"We're talking about the Camaro, *my* Camaro," Danny emphasized the ownership.

"Huh. Tell me, Danny, did you sign for the car?"

"What?"

"When it was issued to you? You know getting the keys, the papers, and the loooong talk about being responsible for the car issued to you and sponsored by the State of Hawaii?" Steve's grin is getting bigger by the minute.

"Um, we went there together, and…"

"And then Rachel's lawyer called and you were on the phone. Ever asked yourself who signed for the car keys?"

"You didn't!?" Danny's voice is rising again.

"Relax, Danny. I signed for it in your name. The car IS issued to you… well, almost," Steve smiles at his friend. "But technically it's not *your* car. It partly belongs to the State of Hawaii. I mean they are paying for your insurance, repairs and modifications."

"Did you sign for all our cars?"

"Of course I didn't sign for all the cars, why would I? Honestly, Danny? I didn't even think about it until right now. And, hey, I let you drive 'your' car… on occasion."

"Yeah, and you hate every minute of it…"

"I told you I get motion sickness if I don't drive."

"Yeah, right. You were perfectly fine when we had the dog and you rode in the back of the car." Danny loves to remind Steve about how he had to sit in the back so the dog could sit up front.

"Says who?"

Danny only shakes his head, but wonders if his friend really gets car sick, or not. Cath said he does on occasion, but Danny is still not convinced.

"Are you two always like this in the car?" JoJo knows that they 'argue' a lot, but has never been a witness to it.

"No, of course not…"

"Yeah, pretty much," Danny says at the same time.

"I see." JoJo smiles at Danny, who turned around to the two women.

"What is that supposed to mean?"

"Nothing, Danny. Just that I now have a picture of how you two interact with each other." JoJo informs him.

"Danny, don't fall for it. Don't argue with a shrink; you can't win," Steve stage whispers to his partner.

It's probably a good thing that they are just a couple of minutes from the hotel by now. It's almost one a.m. which means that it's only seven p.m. in Hawaii. Not really the time to go to bed, but as they want to get up early in the morning they need to switch to local time right away.

Two minutes later Steve parks the car in the underground parking garage of the Fairmont Hotel. They found a parking spot relatively close to the elevators that will take them to the lobby. The check-in is swift and without a problem, and a few minutes after arriving, they are already on the way to their two bedroom suite on the tenth floor.

Gibbs had told them it was the best he could do, and Steve is grateful for all he has done, but he would prefer not to share a room with Danny, or anyone else other than Catherine. He's a bit worried that he will have a nightmare and he doesn't want to share that experience with anyone but Cath. Of course with Danny there, he could simply take one of his sleeping pills, that would prevent any dreams. But they are going to meet Gibbs at 0730 hours, and the pills would knock him out for a good seven hours. So, that idea is out.

"Wow, this is kind of nice," Danny says as they enter the spacious main room of the suite. Two double doors on either side lead to the bedrooms.

"Do you want left or right?" JoJo asks Steve and Danny.

"I don't care as long as there is a soft bed behind those doors." Danny is already on his way to the door on the right.

Steve follows and they both stop in front of the bed. The *one* bed in the room. Granted it's a gigantic bed, but it's still just one bed.

"Are you sleeping on the couch, like at my place?" Steve asks his friend in hope.

"Not a chance. You can take the couch." And with that he flops down on the right side of their bed.

"In your dreams." Steve throws his bag on the left side and turns to take a look at the girls' room.

He makes his way through the main room again and stops in the doorway to look at the even bigger bedroom with *two* big beds in it. "Um, you wouldn't by any chance like to switch rooms?"

"Nope, we're very happy with our room." JoJo grins at him from the edge of her bed, where she is sitting and taking off her shoes. "If you would be so kind and leave the women's quarters now, Commander!?"

Steve grumbles something unintelligible and turns to leave, but is stopped by Catherine's soft voice, "wait a second."

When he turns back, she is right in front of him and he receives a very sweet good night kiss. Steve looks down at her, but she only grins and closes the door in his still smiling face.

He shakes his head and makes his way back over to Danny, who has the covers turned down on the bed already. "They have two beds," Steve informs his friend and motions with a wink over his shoulder to the other bedroom, as if Danny wouldn't know what he is talking about.

"Let me guess, they wouldn't go for a switch?"

"Slammed the door in my face," Steve keeps the good night kiss to himself, but he can't help but grin thinking about it.

"Ah, well. You wanna take a shower?"

"You can go first if you like." Steve takes off his shirt and hangs it in their huge closet. Everything in this suite seems to be huge.

"Actually I'm going to take a bath. There is a Jacuzzi in the bathroom," Danny tells his partner.

"Oh, okay then. I'll be quick." Steve grabs some sleeping pants and vanishes into the bathroom.

Not even five minutes later he emerges freshly showered and still toweling his hair. His hair is standing in all directions after that treatment, but he doesn't seem to care. Steve rummages through his bag for a tee shirt to sleep in when he becomes aware of Danny staring at him.

"What?" He looks first at Danny and then down his own body, in case he forgot to put his pants on. Nope, dressed.

"I'm sorry," Danny says softly.

"What?" It seems the only thing Steve is capable of saying at the moment.

"I'm sorry I wasn't there."

"Danny, what are you talking about?" Steve pulls his SEAL shirt over his head and looks at his friend for an explanation.

"I'm sorry I didn't have your back last week. You know, for not being there when you were attacked. Those bruises look really painful." Danny motions toward Steve's upper body and the now covered bruises. Remembering seeing his friend getting treatment at the base clinic, Danny knows that his belly looks even worse.

"It's okay. They don't hurt much anymore. Besides, it was not your fault, Danny. I wasn't paying attention and let him get the drop on me. Not my finest hour." Steve is still a little embarrassed about being taken out by a relatively untrained person.

"He got a lucky punch in, happens to the best of us. Don't fret it," Danny knows that Steve is angry at himself for the knockout.

"Hmm," Steve unscrews a water bottle and takes a swig to wash down the scheduled pain medication he's still taking.

"How is your head?" Danny had seen his friend take the pain reliever twice today.

"Good. No pain, no dizziness or nausea. I'm good. Belly hurts a little from the long hours sitting on the plane, but all looks good." Steve had taken a close look after the shower, after he took the water proof band aids off. And he checked his belly like Dr. Kelly showed him to do. There was not much pain and everything felt like it should.

"Okay, good." Danny winks at Steve and moves to go take his bath. "Good night, in case you're asleep when I'm done."

"I won't be, not really tired," Steve says as he pulls a file folder out of his notebook bag.

Thirty minutes later Danny finds Steve fast asleep in the middle of the bed, hogging two pillows and every available blanket.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Danny is not sure if he should be amused, annoyed or downright miffed. For now he settles on amused and wishes he could get to his phone to take a picture. This would be such good blackmail material. But he can't get to his phone, or anywhere else for that matter. Because he is pinned. Pinned under his freakishly tall partner, who is happily drooling on his shoulder and softly snoring into Danny's ear.

Two hours into the night, Danny woke up to a strange noise coming from close by. It took him a minute to realize that Steve was making the noise, a mix of strangled sobs and painful groaning. He was restless and obviously in the middle of a very unpleasant dream. At first, Danny wasn't sure what to do; he was a bit reluctant to touch his partner, fearing that he would snap awake. So he first spoke softly to him, which settled him down a little, but he was still making that sobbing noise.

Danny then gently touched his friend's shoulder and was surprised when Steve turned, hugged Danny close, sighed loudly and settled into deep sleep. That was half an hour ago, and his friend still seems very happy with Danny as a pillow.

"Aw, what the heck," Danny whispers as he wiggles into a more comfortable position and drifts to sleep to the soft breathing of his friend and the comfortable weight on his chest and shoulder.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Steve comes slowly awake, lying on his right side, with an arm over his midsection holding him gently in place. It takes him half a minute to realize that he's spooning with his partner. And that he's the little spoon. That actually makes him laugh.

"If you ever tell anyone about this, I'm going to tell that you drooled on my shirt," Danny growls after Steve's soft laughing woke him up.

"Did not," Steve says while he moves from this rather comfortable position onto his back to look at Danny.

"Yes, you did."

"Hmm… sorry?" Steve must admit that he feels really rested and can't remember any dreams. Only that he fell asleep and is now awake.

"What time is it?" Danny also rolled onto his back and stretches leisurely.

"Almost six thirty, guess we should get up," Steve doesn't make a move to actually get up.

"Guess so." Danny isn't any more enthusiastic about getting out of bed than Steve is.

"You wanna shower first?" Steve slowly sits up and looks at the still horizontal Danny.

"No, not really."

"Fine, I'll go first," Steve tells his friend as he crawls out of bed. "Danny?"

"Yeah?"

"Thank you."

Danny only waves him off, turns and hopes to get another five minutes of sleep. He's sure that Steve won't take much longer than that to complete his morning routine. Maybe six minutes including getting dressed. Danny gets the chance to doze for exactly another five minutes before Steve is back, showered, shaved and half dressed.

"How do you do that?" Danny shakes his head at his partner as he scrambles out of bed and walks into their shared bathroom. He will never understand how one can get ready in such a short time. Just showering will take him ten minutes, let alone shaving. Still grumbling he steps into the shower and starts his own routine.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

Chapter Text

PD – Scene 26


Fairmont Hotel, Georgetown, Washington D.C.

Steve throws yet another confused look Cath's way. Ever since Danny and he emerged from their room both she and JoJo had been smiling and giggling. "What?" Enough is enough.

"Nothing. Did you two have a good night?" Again those strange noises as she tries to suppress her laughter.

"Yeah… why?"

"No reason, just curious," Cath says, but can't keep her grin in.

Steve chooses to ignore those two for the time being. He shakes his head and turns to Danny, who is also looking very suspiciously at JoJo and Catherine. "Chin called while you were in the shower…"

"In the middle of the night?"

"Huh? Danny, it was not even one a.m. in Honolulu when he called. Remember, we're six hours ahead of them? Anyway he said they will look into Levin this morning and Kono is going to talk to PO Bob Roberts again."

"Why? Did he come up with something new?" Danny wonders why Kono wanted to talk to the petty officer they interviewed on the base last week.

"I referred Petty Officer Roberts to Nadine, I thought you interviewed him?" JoJo pipes into the conversation.

"Chin said he called yesterday and wanted to talk to me. Kono is going to meet with him this morning, their time. He didn't want to talk on the phone, but wanted to come to HQ. Kono will call right after she talks to him. I don't know what it's about." Steve gives the information to his 'team' as he presses the button for the elevator.

Steve looks at Danny and has to smile at seeing Danny again in his work clothes. He is wearing one of his beloved ties and even a suit jacket. His name tag that announces he's part of the press, is clipped to his lapel.

Catherine is wearing her uniform and just like Steve is carrying her gun openly on her belt. It's not part of her normal job, but Steve knows that she is qualified to handle the weapon very well. She has no combat experience, but went through training. And Steve took her through extensive training when they worked together so many years back. Even though she was never even near the 'enemy' he wanted to make sure that she could hold her own.

A few moments later they file into the elevator and are on their way to their breakfast meeting with Special Agent Gibbs.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

"What do we know about the killer?" Gibbs asks the people sitting at the table.

They are in a conference room, which will serve as their HQ during their stay. The hotel provided them with a small breakfast buffet and the staff just left after bringing more coffee and tea. Steve and Gibbs decided it would be best if they had a room where they could put all their equipment and made it their tech center so to speak. They have a flat screen on the wall that is connected to Five-0 HQ, but it is understandably dark at the moment, since no one's at HQ right now.

Danny wondered for a moment what kind of equipment Steve felt necessary to have in all the big silver boxes stacked against one of the walls. Their conference room is guarded by two MPs standing in front of the door, so no unauthorized people are able to enter.

"Ducky, would you give us your profile first?" Steve asks the local ME, as he puts more scrambled eggs on his plate. He already ate his normal granola with milk and fruit, but he's still hungry, so he indulges himself in some greasy stuff. Very much to the amusement of Danny who is getting his second serving of french toast. Steve takes his full plate and a pot of tea and sits back down at the table.

"Good to see that you got your appetite back," Danny motions with his fork to the eggs, pancakes, waffles and even bacon on Steve's plate.

Steve only grins at him after he gulps down a glass of orange juice.

"Yes, of course, Steve. I was discussing my findings with Max last night," Ducky looks at Max who nods his approval. "We discussed the stabbings and looked at the similarities in all of the cases," Ducky says as he spreads out the crime scene photos on the table.

They all look at the gruesome pictures, and Steve is sure that if he hadn't seen them before, he would not finish his breakfast. The first thing they noticed on the pictures is the amount of blood at all the crime scenes.

"He must have been covered in blood after the killings," Danny muses as he looks at the pictures.

"Yes, most likely." Dr. Mallard agrees with that assumption. "If you look closely you can see that the first victim is lying differently in every picture. They are lying on the floor just as they fell down after being stabbed." Ducky uses his laser pointer to show them what he is referring to.

"And why is that important?" Special Agent DiNozzo speaks up for the first time.

"He didn't care about them, they really were only collateral damage," Steve points out what he and Danny assumed from the beginning.

"Yes. Those people were only killed because they were there. He did not kill them with any intention other than getting them out of the way." Ducky feels sad for all the people being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"That is why he killed them with one stab. Fast and efficient. Why didn't he finish off Officer Kalakeni? Why did he let her live?"

"Well, Steve, I can't say for sure, but he might not have been aware that she was still alive. And by all means she should have been dead. Have you heard anything about her status?"

"No, she was still in a coma on Friday when I talked to her doctor and they didn't know if she would make it. We will be informed as soon as she wakes up, or…" Steve still hopes that she will make a recovery, so that her son doesn't need to grow up without a mother.

"Let's pray she'll make it," Dr. Mallard looks at all of his colleagues and can see that they are thinking the same.

"What about his intended target, the psychiatrist?" Danny gets them back on track.

"That is a very different matter. They were all killed in a vicious and brutal way. But they were all placed in the same position with great care. Although he slit their throats they were not immediately dead. They couldn't make a sound, but they were alive for a short while. And I'm sure they were conscious until the blood loss made them pass out." Ducky looks around the table and chooses his words carefully, thinking about the potential target sitting right there in front of him. "He watched them die and I'm sure he enjoyed their suffering. It is a horrible death; they were not able to breathe and were drowning in their own blood. They were not able to utter any sounds after their windpipe was severed."

"He did that to avoid detection by their screaming?" Levin asks the ME.

"No, I don't think so. He made sure that they were alone, so even if any of them had been able to scream, no one was there to hear them." Ducky read the reports and came to a different conclusion about the way he killed his victims. "No, I think he rendered them speechless, because no one was hearing him."

"What do you mean by that?" Gibbs had followed the conversation quietly so far.

"I think it is pretty clear that he seeks revenge on those doctors for some injustice done to him or someone he cares about." Ducky looks around and sees agreement on all their faces.

"You think he is seeking treatment, but his doctor isn't really listening to what he is saying?" JoJo wonders if anyone would be able not to see how disturbed this patient must be.

"I think he is seeing a psychiatrist, but I doubt he is able to communicate what is really wrong, he has perfected his ability to hide his disorder. I'm convinced that he has seen a therapist for quite some time, but was probably declared fit for duty and may have been sent back into the field. I'm sure he is blaming his therapist for everything that has gone wrong in his life from there on. By rendering the psychiatrist mute, he is paying back for all that has been done to him."

"Then why kill all the others?"

"Well, Catherine, I can't tell you that for sure. But I can tell you that his killing is gaining in intensity. Each killing being more vicious than the previous one. I agree with Steve that he will make his move at this conference. I think Steve is right in his assumption that the killer has ties to the military; he might even still be on active duty. This opportunity, to have so many potential targets in one place… I don't think he can pass that up."

"Do you think he will escalate, will he stick to his M.O. or will he do something completely different?" DiNozzo asks what everyone is eager to know.

"Coming to this conference would mean parting from his M.O. already. This place is full of security and crowded with lots of potential witnesses. But I think the urge to kill the people who he thinks are the reason for his misery, is too overwhelming."

"You think he will do something drastic?" Steve was sure about that even before they came here, but wants the confirmation to convince his friends about his theory. After all they followed him here, just because he 'felt' it was the right thing to do.

"Let me try to make something clear, so all of you can understand his motivation." Ducky rummages through his briefcase and pulls some handwritten papers out. "I wrote a profile of our killer. Now, remember, I'm not a profiler per se, I'm merely trying to come up with some insight from the forensic side of the crime."

"Ducky, we appreciate every little insight," Steve assures his friend.

"Thank you. I'm certain our unknown suspect suffered a horrific injury of some kind during a tour of duty. I'm sure that he spent many months in the hospital and in rehab. I'm sure he received psychological treatment. At some point he was declared fit for duty and sent back. But he still suffers from psychological problems. Anxiety, nightmares, maybe even flashbacks. Dr. Jordan, maybe you can explain what a flashback really is, I think it's important to understand that."

"Yes, of course," JoJo says, but looks at Steve, making sure that he's okay with all this. Everything Ducky had said about their suspect so far could also be said about Steve, but he seems to be doing okay. At least on the outside." A flashback is not a voluntarily sought out memory. We all know that we can go back in time to relive a happy memory; that would be something we choose to do." JoJo pauses until she is sure everyone remembered having done that. "A flashback is nothing like that, it is completely involuntary. It is much more intense than any memory you have revisited. It is mostly triggered by something that doesn't even need to be related to the memory. During an intense flashback the person cannot discern that the experience is not real. They are 'reliving' the memory like it happened back then." JoJo sees some kind of understanding on all of their faces, but feels the need to bring the point home. "For example, if a person gets shot, in the flashback he will feel the pain of the bullet hitting him. Every emotion from back then is experienced again. A flashback is just as horrible as the actual event. They are debilitating and can be very scary." JoJo looked around the group while she was explaining what their UNSUB most likely experienced on a regular basis. She knows that some of the people at the table know that Steve also had suffered from that disorder.

"So, how will this help us? I mean it's all nice and good, this psycho stuff, but how will that help us catch the killer?" Sometimes DiNozzo is not very good at choosing his words wisely.

"If our two doctors are right and he suffers flashbacks, he will do anything to stop them, to avoid them. And if he has gotten the idea that the 'shrinks' are the reason that he is still getting them, he will stop at nothing to punish them for his suffering." Steve speaks up to make them understand their suspect's desperation.

"Why would he make them responsible for his failure to get over what happened to him?" Tony still doesn't see the benefit of knowing about the killer's psycho problems. And he's probably not the only one.

"I don't know. Maybe because he is deranged? Maybe he really is nuts, or maybe he simply needs an outlet for his anger? Who knows, but the why is not important."

"Steve is right," Dr. Mallard comes to his friend's aid. "Our killer suffers from a psychological disorder that makes him believe that to ease his own suffering, he has to kill off therapists. I'm even going as far as saying that he thinks he will spare others the suffering by killing them. Killing them off before they can make any more mistakes in the treatment of their patients."

"But that would mean he is aware of his disorder," Danny says after listening to Dr. Mallard's explanation.

"Yes, of course. Almost everyone recognizes that having recurring nightmares, anxiety attacks and flashbacks is not normal," Dr. Mallard explains.

"But why are so many avoiding treatment if they are aware of their problems?"

"Danny, there are many reasons. Mostly out of shame. Most are also afraid about the reaction from their friends or co-workers if they would find out. Most patients think in the beginning the nightmares will pass and they will be able to handle it on their own, and that often works. But if they get panic attacks or flashbacks, then they can't handle it alone. Unfortunately, society still mostly thinks that people with ASD or PTSD are just crazy, unstable people. But let me tell all of you… it can happen to any of us. It doesn't need to be a traumatic event like a combat experience, or a shootout. Losing a child, or a parent or partner can cause severe cases of PTSD. For example first responders like EMTs are at high risk for problems from dealing with drama on a daily basis." JoJo pauses to let her little speech settle in. "Not every PTSD patient is affected in his day to day life. Most of them can 'function' very well with the right medication or even just the right therapy. They are not crazy."

"So, what you're saying is what exactly?" Tony still doesn't see the benefit of the information about the 'psycho-status' of their killer.

"I'm saying that despite his disorder, he has either a high end job to be able to afford his travels all over the country. Or that he has a job with the military that lets him travel a lot, with quite a lot of free time. I'll put my money on the military." Ducky chimes in again. After all he was asked about the profile he came up with. "In my opinion he is highly trained and his intelligence is above average."

"Ducky, thank you. Gibbs, did your team check every panelist?" Steve can completely understand Tony's reservations for the 'psycho stuff'. It's nothing new to him, he has experienced the doubt and suspicion from others often enough.

"Yes, Ziva is just comparing the list we received from the Navy this morning," Gibbs informs his friend about their progress.

"What about the security?" Danny cuts into the conversation.

"It's in place. We have MPs and MAs, let's just hope they can work together."

"That's not what I mean. Did you check them?"

"Check them, Detective? They are Navy." DiNozzo tells Danny, as if that would explain everything.

"I know that they are Navy, or Army or whatever. But did you check their background? Are they who they say they are?"

"Danny is right, who ran the background on the security for the event?" Steve backs his partner up.

"We checked their IDs of course, but we didn't run any background checks on them." Tony must admit.

"Tony, get on that," Gibbs tells his senior agent.

"Yes, Boss, on it." DiNozzo leaves the conference to get a background check on the way.

"When will the first panel start?" Steve turns to JoJo.

"In about half an hour. But you really don't have to babysit me there. I mean no one is coming after me in a secure room," JoJo smiles at her friend.

"Sorry, but there is no such thing as a secure room." Steve will not take any chances.

"The K9 unit went through the hotel, they finished just a few minutes before we met. No explosives in the conference rooms. We will repeat this tonight and in the morning." Gibbs wonders who will pay for this joint operation of NCIS, Navy and Five-0. The Navy and Army are making a training drill out of it, but his boss, the director was not thrilled about the whole thing. After all it is not their case.

"Thank you. We really appreciate all your help."

"No problem, Steve. But remember, after this we're even," Gibbs tells Steve, knowing that he won't be even any time soon.

"Yeah, right," Steve grins right back.

"Oh, damn it, Steve, tell us what you did for him," Danny tries his luck again.

"Danny, I told you it's classified."

"So you said," Danny grumbles and is clearly not happy.

"Are you going to mingle with the 'press'?" Steve still is amused about Danny's reluctance to see his cover as a great opportunity.

"As far as I know there is only one other guy here. From the Navy Times."

"Yeah, I know. This conference is not really that interesting. No offense, JoJo." Steve tries to stop her upcoming protest, "even though there are a surprisingly large number of 'guests' attending from all over the states."

"That, my friend, is because it IS a very interesting conference," JoJo informs Steve and everyone else who wants to hear it.

"Yeah, for a bunch of shrinks."

"You know, Cath and I have considered switching rooms with you guys tonight, but I think that is off the table now," she grins at Danny and Steve.

"Thank you, but Danny and I are very happy with our sleeping arrangement."

"Yeah, I believe that," Catherine says with a laugh.

Steve only shakes his head and turns to Max and Ducky, "what are you guys up to today?"

"Dr. Mallard will take me to his work," Max announces happily.

"That's good. So, we will see you tonight?"

"Yes, you remember where I live?"

"Yeah, Ducky, no problem." Steve will never forget where Ducky lives after he spent two days there in the presence of Ducky's then still alive mother. It took him two days to be well enough to finally escape her clutches.

"Good, good. You all take care then." He and Max stand up from the table and say their goodbyes to the rest of the team.

A few minutes later they all leave the conference room. Gibbs to coordinate with his two team members; Levin to spend the morning in the video surveillance room; Danny to mingle and 'surveil'; and Steve and Cath to accompany JoJo wherever she goes today.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Five-0 Headquarters, Monday morning, 0900 hours – 1500 hours D.C. time

"Petty Officer Roberts, please have a seat. What I can I do for you?" Officer Kono Kalakaua motions for the petty officer to please sit.

"Please call me Bob, I'm not in the service anymore," The young man tells Kono as he sits down in front of her desk.

"Okay. Bob, you talked to Lt. Kelly and wanted to speak to Commander McGarrett about something. He is not available at the moment, but I hope I can help you?"

"Um, I guess so. McGarrett told me if I remember anything else I should call. Um… I'm not sure if this is important… maybe I should wait until he's back?"

"Did you remember something about Dr. Webster?" Kono can see that Bob is very nervous, and she is not sure why.

"Not really, no." It seems that Bob Roberts needs some time to come to a decision to tell his story or not.

"Would you like something to drink? A coffee or a soda maybe?" Kono tries to make her witness feel a bit more comfortable.

"No, thank you. I'm sorry, I'm a bit nervous."

"That's okay, take your time."

"Um… when I was still active I was seeing Captain Jordan. But when I was medically discharged… I broke my ankle and I lost over fifty percent function of the joint, so I was not able to perform my duties anymore… anyway… Captain Jordan was my therapist… for some other issues back then," Bob tries to explain without revealing too much.

"You don't have to tell me why you're seeing your therapist, it's okay."

"As a veteran I was switched to a different health plan and had to switch my therapist. Dr. Jordan referred me to Dr. Webster. That was kind of okay, I mean she was not Dr. Jordan, but she was okay. Um… at Dr. Jordan's office I ran into one of her patients a few times while I was waiting. He had appointments before me. Two weeks ago I saw him at Dr. Webster's office. He was talking to her assistant, making an appointment."

"Do you know his name?"

"No. He's a lieutenant, but I don't know his name."

"Okay. Please go on," Kono is curious where this is going.

"I wasn't thinking about it back then. I mean why would I? But last Thursday I saw him again. This time at the bar at the Hilton. The guy he was with, I knew him from somewhere, but I didn't know from where."

"So he was with another guy at the Hilton? Was that also an officer?"

"No… I mean… I don't know… they were both in civilian clothes."

"Do you remember now where you know him from?" Kono doesn't see anything unusual about this report so far.

"Yes. That is why I called. Yesterday the 'Star Advertiser' ran an article on the serial killings. Have you seen it?"

"Yes, I did," none of them was very happy about the article.

"They recounted the timeline of the killings on the mainland, and there was a picture of the latest crime scene. In the background is the guy from the Hilton. And then it just clicked, I saw him and the lieutenant in New Orleans."

"New Orleans?" Kono looks at her sheet with the background information about PO Roberts. It said that he was in New Orleans after the murder took place.

"Yes, I was there with my new boss. I'm a mechanic and he took me to New Orleans because he wanted to buy one of those old second World War planes. I checked the plane for him. Anyway… that man and the lieutenant were at the hotel we were staying. They were having a very heated discussion, I don't know what about, but the guy from the picture was really mad. Here is the picture from the newspaper," Roberts puts the cut out article on Kono's desk.

"Are you sure it was this man you saw in New Orleans and at the Hilton?"

"Yes, absolutely."

"And you're sure that the lieutenant was at Dr. Jordan's, Dr. Webster's office and also in New Orleans?"

"Yes."

"Can you tell me when you saw him at Dr. Jordan's office?"

"Um, I haven't seen her for about four months, so I'd say five or six months. But I can't tell you the day or week."

"That's okay, we will find out who had an appointment before yours, that way we can find the lieutenant. Would you wait here for a moment?"

"Yeah, sure."

It takes Kono only a few minutes to get PO Coates on the phone, and after another five minutes she has the information. Three lieutenants are displayed on the screen in front of her. Now Roberts only needs to ID the right one.

"Bob, does one of them look familiar," Kono asks her witness after she brought him to the smart table and showed him the pictures on their screen.

"That's him. Lieutenant Donaldson."

"That's the guy I just learned about," Chin says just as he comes out of his office.

"What?"

"I just got off the phone with the bartender at the Hilton, he described the only 'guest' Levin had, other than Steve and me. That's him," he motions to the picture on the screen. "How do you know him?"

Kono asks Roberts to wait in her office for her to take his formal statement, and fills in her cousin.

"We need to call Steve."

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

Chapter Text

PD – Chapter 27

Fairmont Hotel, Georgetown, Washington D.C. – 1530 hours local time

Something is not right, and Steve is very aware that he should be more concerned about it. But for some reason he doesn't really care. He can feel slight tremors going up and down his whole body, but oddly enough he's not feeling any pain. He remembers vividly being in pain, in ungodly pain just a few minutes ago. Now he's enjoying the pain-free sensation for just a moment longer. Steve is sure that his body will send out the signals of his injuries soon enough.

He tries to move a little but finds his legs uncooperative. Not really a surprise after the memories he lived through again. He is sure that no one even realized what an intense flashback he just suffered. He was twitching and screaming in agony anyway before he passed out. Donaldson made sure that every nerve ending in Steve's body was on fire and sending shock waves of pain through his entire body.

Steve is just grateful that he hasn't lost control over his body functions yet. But a few more of those bursts… and he won't guarantee anything. His breathing is already affected and also his cognitive ability. He learned all about the effects of prolonged exposure to electroshocks during his training. The lingering concussion amplifies all effects of the shocks, and it won't be long before he becomes so disoriented that he won't be of any help to JoJo whatsoever. JoJo!

Steve finally opens his eyes and looks right into the concerned face of his older friend. And it is now that he becomes aware that his head rests on her thigh while she gently strokes his hair and her other hand rests on his chest. No doubt to control his irregular breathing. His arms are painfully stretched above his head which makes the position very uncomfortable.

With full awareness the pain comes back and plows into him like an out of control freight train. Steve closes his eyes against the agony the overhead lights are causing. They are burning a hole in his brain. His back feels like it is broken in half with the bones sticking out. He knows that's not true, but the intense pain in his lower back makes him think that there might be a different reason for his legs not obeying than the flashback. His wrists are cuffed to the hand rail. The position combined with the use of the cattle prod triggered the memory.

He now remembers what led to his current condition.

 

Fairmont Hotel, Georgetown, Washington D.C. – about twenty minutes earlier

"Steve, you really think someone will try anything here at the conference? I mean with all the security and military, that would be pretty bold," JoJo looks at her 'bodyguard' who has been shadowing her all day.

"I don't know for sure, but I think that he will use this opportunity and Dr. Mallard and Gibbs agree," Steve tells Cpt. Jordan as they step into the elevator that will take them to the tenth floor where their suite is located.

"But that would be dramatically against his MO, wouldn't it?" JoJo looks at Steve for confirmation.

"Yeah, it would be. But as you heard, Ducky thinks that he won't be able to control his rage any longer and with all of you guys together in one place, the urge to do something would be overwhelming," Steve tells his therapist while he tries to loosen his tight neck muscles. Listening to a bunch of psychiatrists for half a day was not helping with his headache and sitting still for hours on end had put him a little on edge.

"Are you still getting dizzy spells?" JoJo looks at Steve and tries to see behind the mask she knows he can put on to hide how he really feels.

"No, it's just a headache. Listening to your psychobabble all day will do that to every normal person," Steve grins at his friend.

"Ha ha," JoJo says, but smiles right back at him. It's good to get rid of some of the tension they all felt during the day. It seems that they are on the right path repairing their strained relationship. "You know, you didn't have to accompany me upstairs. The floors are cut off; no one will get on to them."

"JoJo, no security system in the world is foolproof. If he wants to get on to the floor, he will. Sorry, but you have to put up with me for a little longer," Steve will not let her out of his sight. And even that won't guarantee her safety.

"I only need to grab my net-book and we can go back." JoJo needs some files for her speech in half an hour, but forgot to bring them.

"Okay." Steve taps his ear-piece and calls out to his partner in the lobby. "Danny, do you read me?"

"Loud and clear. Everything okay?" Danny's voice is delivered directly into Steve's ear.

"Yeah, we're about to reach our floor. We'll be back down in about ten minutes. Anything going on at your end?" Steve asks while he positions himself in front of JoJo to exit the elevator.

"No, everything's quiet. Gotta go, Steve. NCIS just arrived, see you in ten." Danny tells him and his ear-piece goes quiet again.

The elevator door opens and Steve doesn't even have time to utter a word of surprise when the bullet hits him square in the chest and throws him back against JoJo. He could only hear a low pop and knows that the assassin is using a silencer. Steve has trouble breathing, he can't draw in a breath and it's only JoJo who's keeping him upright. She is leaning awkwardly against the wall with her arms around Steve's waist to keep him from sliding to the floor.

"I should have known that you would be wearing a vest," Donaldson sneers at Steve as he steps into the cabin, gets a key out and overrides the functions of the elevator. "Take your shirt off."

"What?" Steve pants out.

"Lieutenant, what are you doing?" JoJo cries out in total shock.

"Get down onto your knees, cross your ankles and take your shirt off. Now." For emphasis he aims his gun more at JoJo than at Steve.

Steve does as he's told and starts to unbutton the shirt of his service khakis. His breathing slowly returns to normal and he's sure no broken ribs resulted from the impact of the bullet. Thankfully it was a small caliber. The undershirt-vest he's wearing wouldn't do that much against a large caliber weapon. He takes his shirt off and is left with the thin, dark blue vest and the white undershirt.

"Now take your gun out. With your left hand, and put it on the floor and slide it into the corner. Slowly. And take your com link out and throw it over," Donaldson is still pointing the gun at JoJo who's standing behind Steve. Donaldson steps onto the ear-piece and destroys the only link to Steve's team. "Good. Now your phone and take the vest off."

Steve looks at his opponent, but it's clear that he wouldn't have a chance against him from his position on his knees. Donaldson is clever enough to keep his distance. Steve slowly unfastens his vest and throws it into the corner where his gun is already lying. His phone meets the same fate as the ear piece. There goes another one.

"Captain, step back into the corner," Donaldson motions with his gun for her to move, which she does reluctantly.

Steve is well aware that he needs to do something, or he will most likely be dead in a couple of minutes, shot by the serial killer they are trying to catch. He looks warily at Donaldson who pulls something out of his back pocket. Before Steve can fully register what it is, the three darts shot from the stun gun are already embedded in his upper body and the electricity is streaming through his body.

Steve is thrown onto his back as all of his muscles are cramping caused by the painful seizure that is holding his body hostage. He is unable to move, no one can fight the involuntary muscle movements. Waves of agonizing pain are cruising through him, rendering him powerless to do anything but try to ride it out and stay conscious. The pain is getting unbearable and Steve wonders for a fleeting moment why it doesn't stop after five seconds. His vision is graying and the last he hears before he passes out is JoJo's cry to stop it.

"Stop it, please stop it. You're killing him!" JoJo yells at Frank. She can barely look at the still convulsing form of her friend on the floor. Who continues to be tortured by Donaldson.

"You know, Captain. I modified this gun, and I took the safety out, it won't stop after five seconds," her patient tells her with gleeful joy in his voice as he steps closer to Steve. "It will only stop when I want it to."

"Please, Lieutenant, please stop it." JoJo is not sure how long the electricity has been flowing through Steve by now, but it's been at least fifteen seconds. Way too long. "Please."

"Okay." Suddenly the body on the floor stops seizing, in fact stops moving at all. "Cuff his hands to the handrail," Donaldson tells her and throws a pair of handcuffs onto Steve's body.

JoJo steps closer to her fallen friend and kneels down, checking for a pulse and breathes a sigh of relief when she finds a strong beat. With trembling hands, she puts one cuff on Steve's wrist and to her surprise Frank drags the still unresponsive body over for her to put the second cuff on Steve's other wrist. Effectively binding him to the railing.

"Step back from him," the lieutenant barks at her when Steve shows the first signs of waking.

Steve blinks his eyes and tries to get the scene in front of him into focus, Donaldson stands to the side of him and JoJo is pressed into the corner to his left. He can see that she's in dire distress, not able to comprehend the situation they are so suddenly in. He just hopes that she won't do anything stupid by trying to save him.

Lieutenant Frank Donaldson has put both of his guns away and is now fumbling with the baton hanging from his hip holster. Steve only now registers that he's wearing an MP-uniform. Steve has to concentrate to understand what he is saying, which is not easy with the hammering in his head and the residual pain still coursing through his body.

"You know, I love the wonders of technology. Look at this wonderful instrument for example," the deranged officer takes the baton out of his holster and shows it to them. "I modified this standard model just like the stun gun. It sends way more powerful shocks out than the normal model and it keeps it up as long as I want. Or as long as the battery holds, but believe me, anyone would be dead before it runs out."

Donaldson puts the tip of the club to Steve's right shoulder and he can't help but flinch at the contact, even though it's not switched on. The lieutenant grins down at him.

"Please don't hurt him again," JoJo is pleading with her patient.

"Oh, Dr. Jordan, you would rather have me try this on you?" Frank takes the baton off Steve and turns to JoJo.

"NO, please, leave her out of this," Steve speaks up for the first time since he woke up.

"Now that's the spirit," he turns his attention back to Steve. "Can you imagine there are studies by the manufacturers where to contact the body for maximum efficiency?" Lt. Donaldson shakes his head, but keeps grinning. "I'll show you what they recommend."

Before anyone can react he presses the club into Steve's right shoulder and turns it on. Which causes Steve to instantly seize and groan. Ten seconds later he slumps back after the device is taken off.

Steve hears his torturer talking like from a distance. In the background he can hear that JoJo is crying.

"As you can see, the shoulder area is very effective, but not the best place. The next recommended place is right under the rib cage."

This time Steve can't keep the scream in when the current courses through his body.

"Wouldn't you agree, Commander, that this is more painful than on the shoulder?" He paused, waiting for Steve to reply. "I can't hear you. Do you need some encouragement?" Donaldson puts the tip back onto Steve's body without turning it on.

"Yes… it… is." Steve barely manages to pant those words out.

"I know, right? But we can do even better. They say the second best place is right over the hip, here I can prove it." And again he uses the baton without any emotion or mercy on Steve. Watching him writhe and twitch in agony

Steve's not sure how much more he will be able to endure, the pain that is coursing through his body is so intense that he can't think of anything other than praying for it to stop. All his muscles are locked in one big cramp. The most intense pain is located at his hip and radiates in such excruciating pain-waves through his belly that it takes his breath away. When it finally stops after ten agonizing seconds he slumps to the ground only being held by the cuffs keeping his arms above his head. The voices around him waver in and out, but he can make out JoJo, pleading with his torturer to stop.

Steve is not really listening anymore, he's reminded of another time he was hanging by his arms suspended above his head and someone else using a cattle prod on him. Steve knows that he will suffer a flashback any minute now. His breathing quickens even more and he hears Donaldson talking like through a fog.

"But the most effective way to use it is the lower belly and groin area."

It only takes very few seconds for Steve to pass out when Donaldson pushes the device onto his most sensitive body parts.


*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Steve looks up at JoJo and tries to form words, but that is beyond his ability at the moment. It's hard enough to even breathe let alone speak; JoJo seems to understand his struggle and tries to calm him down.

"Steve, it's okay. I'm fine, he didn't hurt me," she whispers for just him to hear. "Can you move?" Cpt. Jordan looks in worry at the unmoving man in her arms.

Steve shakes his head and bites his lips to keep the groan in when another spike of pain shoots through his back and abused belly. Something is seriously wrong; the feeling in his legs should have been back by now. And there was never any pain in his back after a flashback. Steve lifts his head a little more and sees that the elevator door is open and Donaldson is nowhere to be seen. He shifts to look at JoJo and cries out from the pain in his back that is threatening to send him back into blackness.

"Don't move, Steve. He kicked you a few times when you were out." JoJo tells him about the brutal kicks Donaldson sent into his lower body. Donaldson had lost it in a total fit of anger when his torture victim had passed out.

"Can't feel my legs… hurts real bad," Steve closes his eyes against the agony in his head and even more so in his lower back. Maybe his first thought about his back being broken in half wasn't so wrong after all. "Where did he go?"

"I don't know; he left a minute ago."

"JoJo, you have to leave. Get out of here," Steve struggles to sit up, ignoring the knife seemingly sticking in his spine. He grabs the handrail he's still cuffed to and pulls himself up into a sitting position. The world swirls around him and he bites down hard on his lower lip to keep from screaming. He has never felt such pain before. There is no doubt in his mind that he has a serious back injury.

"I'm not leaving you." There is no way in hell that JoJo will leave her injured friend behind.

"JoJo, get my keys out of my pocket." Steve at least hopes they are still there. Just as she is about to wiggle them out of his pant pocket, Steve's legs start to twitch. They are coming back to life after all. He groans when they start to tremble, it feels like they are just seconds from cramping. But with the new sensation in his legs the intense pain in his back lessens. Now that he can move his legs again, he pulls them close to his body to lessen the strain on his lower belly and groin. Fierce pain from the various kicks and the use of the prod still courses through his front.

A minute later JoJo has the handcuffs open and finally with his arms freed from that uncomfortable position, he presses his right palm firmly on his lower belly as he makes his way back to his feet. Almost doubled over from the intense pain originating from below his belt, he is leaning heavily on JoJo.

"Are you okay?" JoJo knows what a stupid question that is; she can clearly see that her friend is in severe pain. But she also knows what any hit to the lower region does to a man, and that mostly there is no serious damage done. It's just seriously painful. But Steve had surgery just a few days ago, and those hits and kicks could have severely injured him. She needs to know if he's injured or 'just' in pain.

"I'll be fine," Steve pants out between gritted teeth. He is standing a bit more upright by now but his hand is still roaming over his belly. "Did he hurt you?" Steve finally looks his friend over.

He works hard to push the still intense pain especially in his back and groin, further into the background. His heart is racing and it feels like it's about to jump out of his chest. His vision is in and out of focus and he knows that the electric currents that were racing through his body minutes ago could have caused serious damage to the heart muscle and still could cause seizures and heart failure.

"No," JoJo assures Steve. "Do you think he's trying to leave?"

"No, he would have killed us if he were on the run." Steve needs to pause and slow his breathing down, he's is still breathing way too fast. "I think he's going to stick to his plan and kill more people. We need to contact Danny and Gibbs. Urgh…" Steve barely has time to turn sideways before he gets violently sick.

Steve is doubled over and rests his head on his bent forearm he's pressed against the wall. It seems that he's losing everything he ate in the last few days. But after half a minute he's done and turns away from the mess on the floor. "Sorry," he tells JoJo in embarrassment.

"You feel better?" JoJo asks and hands him a tissue she fished out of her pocket.

Steve looks at her with bloodshot eyes, he is trembling and his hands are shaking. He is drenched in cold sweat and he knows his body is shutting down after the 'electro therapy'. "We gotta get outta here," Steve's speech is slightly slurred, another fact to worry about.

He lets go of JoJo and stands tall, moving in front of Captain Jordan and motions for her to follow him. Steve is well aware that they are not armed, but he's pretty sure that Donaldson has left the basement by now and the chances of encountering him again are slim. They are in a small service hallway, normally not accessible for guests. Donaldson overrode the elevator and so they were able to enter the sub-basement with all the service- and utility rooms. First they try the door right next to the elevators, but the door to the stairwell is either locked by Donaldson or it is blocked from the outside. Either way, they won't get out of the hallway through it.

They carefully make their way through what seems like a maze of a hallway and behind the huge metal door they are just passing they can hear the low hum of the heating system. Steve and JoJo are just about to try their luck on the handle of the door that promises to hold the janitor's office, when the lights go out and they are bathed in darkness.

"Shit." Steve only has time for one expletive when the door is ripped out of his hand.

The momentum of the opening door makes him stumble forward for a second before he finds his balance again. But by then Donaldson barrels into him. Steve doesn't have time to think, instinct and training take over. Forgotten are all the pains of his body, forgotten are the tremors running through his limbs, and forgotten is the racing heart. The only thing that matters now is an opponent willing to kill him and JoJo. Steve doesn't waste any time thinking why Frank doesn't simply shoot him.

They are still in darkness except for the green emergency lights that went on as soon as the power went out. But they are only bathing the scene in a surreal pale green light. Steve can't really see much, his vision is blurry and unfocused. But his fists still hit the target, and he hears the grunts of pain from Donaldson with satisfaction.

They land on the floor with a resonating thud, and are fighting for dominance. Steve has his right hand firmly around Donaldson's gun hand and keeps the gun away from him. He is just glad that he didn't fire a wild shot yet, but it seems that Frank can control himself. Steve bangs the hand with the gun on the floor and can feel that Frank's grip is loosening, but he's not letting go yet.

When Frank seems to get the upper hand and lands his knee on Steve's belly, Steve doubles his effort to knock Frank out. Somehow they make their way back to their knees, still struggling for the gun, when suddenly the light in the room comes back on. Steve is distracted by JoJo for a millisecond, but it's enough for Frank to land a hard blow to his face that causes Steve's head to snap back and he loses his grip on the gun hand.

Steve uses the momentum to fall completely back and swipes Frank off his feet with a kick when he was just getting back up. Donaldson crashes down hard and the gun slides across the floor. Steve makes a dash for it, thinking that Frank will do the same. But he doesn't go after the gun. He pulls his knife out and goes after JoJo.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

"Please, let's talk about this. Frank, don't hurt Cpt. Jordan. Put the knife down," Steve talks in a calm and soft voice to his opponent, Lt. Frank Donaldson. They are facing each other from about ten feet. They are both panting heavily after their fight just moments ago. Steve didn't anticipate that Frank would go after JoJo instead of trying to get his gun back.

Steve moves slowly closer, all the while watching Donaldson, keeping his eyes on the knife currently pressed against Cpt. Jordan's throat. Not quite drawing blood yet, but Steve can see that the tiniest increase in pressure would cut the skin.

"We can work this out, Frank. No need to hurt anyone else. Let her go and we will talk," Steve inches closer, trying to reassure Dr. Jordan to keep calm. She is looking intently back at him and he can see her rising panic and fear. He needs to keep her calm and end this fast.

"There is nothing to talk about. You think I'm stupid? The second I let her go, you will kill me," Donaldson tells Steve without any emotion in his voice. No agitation, no rising voice level, no looking around in panic. Donaldson is completely focused and calm.

"No one is going to kill you as long as you let her go, Frank. But I can't let you leave with Cpt. Jordan. You know that. There is no way out of here. What do you want to accomplish?" Steve again moved a little closer to the lieutenant.

For a second Steve can see a flicker of doubt in Donaldson's eyes. This is not how he pictured his escape. It is obvious that he didn't anticipate Steve following him. But the doubt is replaced with determination the next second.

"Frank, you can't win. The second you hurt Cpt. Jordan I'll put a bullet in your brain." Steve raises the gun a little to emphasize his words. He might be able to kill Donaldson regardless of JoJo standing so close to him, but he doesn't want to risk it if there is another chance. His vision is blurry, and he feels dizzy but he's not wavering and will not give in to the pain signals his body is sending out. The 'electro therapy' a few minutes ago did a lot of damage and left him trembling from pain and with muscle spasms caused by the prolonged exposure to the electricity.

"No, you won't," Donaldson tells him with a grin.

Steve frowns for a second, but by the time he realizes what is happening it's already too late. There is only a low popping sound before his right side explodes in pain. He is slightly thrown forward and to the side by the impact of the bullet. He manages to stay on his feet and turns to face the new threat that is staying in the darkness of the hallway behind them. But before he can make out any target he is violently thrown onto his back as a second bullet embeds into his right shoulder. Steve blinks furiously to stay conscious as searing pain lances from his shoulder across his chest. He can hear JoJo screaming his name but is unable to focus on her. The bullet fractured his collarbone, traveled further in, destroying muscle and tissue along the way before it was stopped by his shoulder blade, cracking it in the process. The pain from his shattered shoulder is threatening to overwhelm him. With his right arm rendered completely useless he fumbles with his left hand to touch his side, it comes back bloody. The first bullet went through his side just above his belt.

He looks up when a shadow falls over him, blinking in total surprise, shock and confusion at the shooter.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

Chapter Text

PD – Chapter 28

Fairmont Hotel, Georgetown, Washington D.C. – Janitor's office

Steve looks unbelievingly at the man in front of him. He tries to bring the blurry image into focus but his vision is shot to hell due to the pain from his shoulder and the continuous blood loss. The shoulder wound isn't bleeding much, but the through and through is another matter and causes an increasing pool of blood beneath him.

He is still lying on the cold concrete floor and can feel how the cold is overtaking his body. That might also be caused by the onset of shock. Steve can feel how his body is slowly shutting down. He won't be able to stay conscious much longer. The blood loss, pain from the bullet in his shoulder and the torture he endured just a few minutes ago are too much for his traumatized body to handle.

But at the moment he is still able to push down on the overwhelming pain and is finally able to get the scene in front of him into focus.

Steve looks at JoJo, who was pushed to the ground after the shooting, and tries to make sense of what has just happened.

In front of him stands Danny, his best friend. Looking down at him with as much shock as Steve is currently feeling.

"Danno?" His confusion is clearly heard in the stammered word.

"Steve," Danny utters before he is pushed forward. He uses the momentum to crouch down next to his friend and is shocked to see the amount of blood seeping out of the wound above his belt. "I'm sorry," Danny whispers as he presses on the bleeding wound.

Steve groans from the intense pain that flares up in his side and looks from his friend to the man who stepped out of the shadows of the hallway, the man who shot him and obviously took Danny hostage.

"Step away from him," Niles Levin barks the order at Danny.

"No, he's bleeding out. I need to stop the bleeding," Danny doesn't budge and presses down a little harder, fully knowing his friend must be in agony by now from the pressure he is applying.

"Do I look like I care? Step away from him. Now!"

"Do as he says, Danny," Steve pants out. His breath comes in short pants and he is already drenched in sweat. "He'll shoot you."

"You better listen to him." Seeing that Danny complies he continues, "get over to Captain Jordan and get your handcuffs out."

Special Agent Niles Levin carefully steps around Steve, who is still lying on the floor in an ever growing pool of blood. Levin makes sure not to get in range of Steve's legs or arm. First, he kicks the gun out of the way and trains his own on Danny and JoJo. Then he looks at Donaldson, who is still standing in the same spot, but he is swaying and the knife falls to the ground.

"Frank?" Levin tries to see what is wrong, and it only takes him a moment to see the growing spot of blood on his uniform shirt.

The bullet that went through Steve embedded in Frank Donaldson's stomach. A deadly hit.

"Niles… you shot me," Donaldson speaks up for the first time since Levin entered the stage. He presses his hands on the bullet wound in the middle of his abdomen.

Later in autopsy they will learn that the bullet nicked the celiac artery and the injury left him bleeding out internally in a matter of minutes.

"This changes everything," Levin tells no one in particular and watches as Frank stumbles back against the wall and slides down to the floor. "Guess we aren't leaving now. I'm sorry, but neither are you." He slightly turns and points his gun down at Steve who is barely conscious; the blood loss has reached an alarming amount by this point. "I'm sorry," he tells Steve and pulls the trigger.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

A little earlier in the Hotel Lobby

"Ziva, where is Williams?" Special Agent Gibbs practically barks at his team member.

"He left to look for McGarrett and Cpt. Jordan. They are stuck in one of the elevators."

"I don't have any information about a stuck elevator. Who said that?"

"An MP called it in," Ziva tells her boss about the call a few minutes ago.

"How do you know it was an MP?"

"Agent Levin took the call and said an MP was on the phone."

"Shit." He takes his own phone out and dials his other team member, "DiNozzo, where the hell are you?"

"On my way to the basement, boss. Williams said… what the… Gibbs, get down here. We have a situation. Lock down the hotel. Our killer made his move."

"Ziva!" Gibbs doesn't even need to tell her what to do she is already on the phone with security provided by the Navy. "Basement… now." Gibbs tells her as he opens the door to the stairwell leading down to the basement.

It takes him only a minute to reach DiNozzo, who is standing in the dark hallway in front of the open elevator, shining his flashlight around.

"Why is it dark?" Gibbs got his own flashlight out when he entered the hallway.

"Lights are out, boss."

Gibbs shines his flashlight into DiNozzo's face, "I know that they are out." Gibbs is not in a good mood and stupid answers don't particularly help in that regard. "Why are they out, Tony?" Gibbs asks, rather exasperated.

"I couldn't check yet, but I think he took the fuses out. But only in this sector, behind E2 lights are on," Tony gives the information to his boss and refers to the sections they named on the floor plan.

"Okay, get the MA's down here, I want a post on every damn door leading out of this maze," Gibbs tells his senior agent.

"On it, Gibbs." Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo is not wasting any time and makes sure that his boss's orders are put into action right away.

"The hotel is on lock down, no one is getting out," Ziva, who just joined them, informs Gibbs. "What happened here?" She looks into the elevator that is now obviously a crime scene.

They can see blood and vomit in one corner and a uniform shirt, bulletproof vest and a smashed iPhone in another.

"That's McGarrett's stuff. I got a call from Lieutenant Kelly, he found some disturbing news about Levin and couldn't reach McGarrett or Williams. That's why I tried to call Williams, he was with Levin."

Meanwhile in another part of the basement

"I hope they won't be stuck for too long," Danny Williams says to his companion Niles Levin as they make their way down the stairwell. They were informed a couple of minutes ago that an elevator was stuck in the basement.

"Why were they in the basement? I thought they wanted to get Captain Jordan's laptop?" Levin asks about the strange location of the elevator in question.

"Maybe it went down there because of a malfunction?"

"Maybe." Levin opens the door for Danny to enter the hallway in the sub-basement.

Just as Danny enters, his phone starts ringing. He fishes it out of his pocket but stops moving altogether when he hears a cold voice, "don't answer that." The order has a lot more weight after he feels a gun pressed into his back. "Turn it off. Put your right hand onto your head."

Danny does as he's told and feels his gun being taken out of its holster. He is cursing himself for turning his back on Levin. For being alone with him. Steve told him not to do that, worse even he ordered him not to do that. And again, he did it without even thinking about it. Damn!

"You should have listened to your partner," Levin snarls into his ear.

"You won't get away with this."

"Oh, but I will, Detective. Let's go, we have an appointment with my brother."

"Your brother?"

"I'm sure you understand the concept of having a criminal as a brother, Detective. With Mattie being on the run. I came to Hawaii to talk to my brother, after the murder in New Orleans I suspected it was him. It took me a few weeks to figure it out, but then it was too late, he had already killed again."

"How can you let him get away with this?"

"Danny, come on, you let your brother go. Why do you even ask that?" Levin motions for Danny to move on.

"Matt didn't kill anyone," Danny spat out and he knows he wouldn't have let him get away with any violent crime.

"Yeah, you keep telling yourself that. He was laundering drug money. How many people were killed for that money, huh?" Levin asks him with disgust in his voice. "He is not one bit better, and you let that scumbag of brother get away, didn't you? Did you lie to the FBI for him? Or did you let your partner do that for you? What, Detective Williams, cat got your tongue? How far would you go for your family? Shoot an unarmed person, or maybe two?" Levin is getting agitated and hits Danny in the kidneys with his gun. "Think about that before you judge anyone ever again." Levin pushes the groaning detective forward.

They are in a small hallway and Steve's voice travelled over to them.

"Make a sound and you're dead," Levin whispers and motions for Danny to move forward.

The hallway is still in semi darkness, only illuminated by the pale green emergency lights. They move closer to the door opening and can now see the scene in front of them, JoJo being held by Donaldson with a knife to her throat and Steve with his back to them, barely able to stay on his feet. Only his hand with the gun is not wavering.

Danny is shocked when the gun behind him goes off before he can even react. He sees his friend thrown forward and to the side, turning to face the new threat. But before either one of them can do anything he's thrown onto his back by the second bullet that catches him in the right shoulder.


*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Fairmont Hotel, Georgetown, Washington D.C. – Sub-basement

"Dr. Mallard, this is not the right way. I think we should not follow this path," Max Bergman says to his colleague for the umpteenth time.

"Maybe we should have turned left instead of right. Max, don't worry, I'm sure we will not miss Dr. Jordan's presentation," Dr. Mallard tells his young friend.

They have spent a wonderful day in Norfolk together; Max Bergman was very eager to listen to the older ME.

"We should not have come without calling first, Commander McGarrett will not be happy with us."

"Nonsense, my boy. He will be happy to see us. After all we have some news for them."

"I don't think that he will consider it important to learn what the latest victim had for lunch," Max highly doubts that that information is of any value to Commander McGarrett or any of the detectives working the case.

"On the contrary my friend. Every detail is important. I remember a case about thirty years ago, when a young woman from England was found murdered in a restaurant. You see, I thought at first that…"

"Did you hear that?" Max Bergman holds his friend back at a corner leading yet to another part of the sub-basement where they are still looking for the elevators.

"Hear what?"

"That was a gun shot," Max says as he pulls his phone out of his pocket and dials McGarrett, but the call goes straight to voicemail, just like the one to Detective Williams. "Something is wrong," he says and looks cautiously around the corner. He dials yet another number and is glad to hear someone picking up, "Agent Gibbs?"

"Max, we don't really have time right now."

"No, don't hang up. Agent Gibbs, we're in the basement of the hotel, and there was a shot fired."

"Where are you, Max?"

"I don't know," Max must admit. "Dr. Mallard and I are a little lost, but I see a number on the door next to us, E2.098. The noise came from down the hall."

"Stay exactly where you are, we're on our way." Gibbs, as usual ends the call abruptly.

"We should check it out, maybe someone was hurt," Dr. Mallard moves down the hallway.

"No, Agent Gibbs said to stay here."

"Come on, Max. Everything is quiet now."

Mallard doesn't even wait for Bergman but cautiously moves further down the hall, towards the only open door.

When they reach the doorway they get the shock of their lives. There is blood everywhere, and five unmoving bodies are strewn around in front of them. An MP they have never seen before, is slumped against the wall, obviously dead. Captain Jordan also sits against a wall, head lolled to the side and with a bloody gash in her uniform shirt on her upper left arm. Special Agent Levin is without a doubt dead, with a bullet hole between his eyes. Detective Williams lies on the ground on his back with a nasty bleeding head wound. And in the middle of the room in a huge pool of blood is Steve McGarrett, gun in his limp left hand.

His head is turned towards his partner, and his eyes are fixed on the unmoving body. His mouth is moving but no sound escapes. He takes one shallow breath before his eyes close.

Both Max and Dr. Mallard know that they were just witness to McGarrett's last living moment.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

Chapter Text

PD – Chapter 29

Fairmont Hotel, Georgetown, Washington D.C. – Janitor's office – a few minutes ago

"This changes everything," Levin tells no one in particular and watches as Frank stumbles back against the wall and slides down to the floor. "Guess we aren't leaving now. I'm sorry, but neither are you." He turns slightly and points his gun down at Steve who is barely conscious; the blood loss reaching an alarming amount by now. "I'm sorry," he tells Steve and pulls the trigger.

"Nooooo," Danny yells as he charges Levin.

Niles Levin stumbles back a step, surprised by the turn of events when suddenly Williams flies his way. Instead of shooting Steve he fires his gun towards the detective, the bullet stopping him cold.

It's a grotesque picture Steve sees from his place on the floor, his vision was already blurry and the fast movements are a bit too much for his brain to handle. He only sees some flying shadow that seems to stop in midair and lands with a thud right next to him. Steve is by now almost too dazed to realize that his best friend has just been shot in the head.

What he does realize is that Danny landed with his leg right next to his left hand, and Steve knows that Danny carries a gun in his ankle holster. A gun that is hopefully still there. The movement to reach the gun causes such fierce pain in his shoulder that the world around him almost grays out completely.

But rage fuels him and clears his vision upon seeing JoJo lifelessly slumped against the wall. That sight pulls him out of his daze of pain and blood loss. Steve pulls up his friend's pant leg and grabs the gun nestled in its ankle holster.

Levin stands just a few feet away from him, his gun again trained on him. But before he can fire his weapon Steve puts a bullet between his eyes. Adrenaline is coursing through his body, released after seeing his two friends get shot. But Steve knows that it won't help him for much longer, he is well aware that shooting Levin will pretty much be his last action.

Not being able to hold up the hand with the gun any longer, he lets his arm fall back to the floor. All fight leaves him, and he's only able to turn his head to look at his friend. Danny is lying completely still after jumping in the line of fire, taking a bullet for Steve.

"D…?" The name is more a dying breath than a call to his friend.

Steve is not aware that they are no longer alone, that Drs. Mallard and Bergman are standing in the doorway. That they are too shocked to even move. Steve takes in another shallow breath and can feel how his heart suddenly slows down after it had been beating out of his chest after it was subjected to the electroshocks. He knows it should worry him, but he can't find the energy to care. He closes his eyes and his last thought is of Cath, wondering where she is.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Both Max and Dr. Mallard know that they were just witness to McGarrett's last living moment.

That knowledge makes them burst into action. Max still has his phone in his hand and calls 911, it only takes him a moment to request assistance and he's pretty sure they will not only send an ambulance but also alert an air evac team from Bethesda after he told them about the injured Naval officers.

"Max, I can't get a pulse, start compressions," Ducky has checked carefully for any sign of life from Steve, but from the amount of blood on the floor it was pretty clear from the start that he wouldn't find any.

"Oh my god!"

Both Max and Ducky look up when they hear Catherine calling out from the door. "Cath, come here. We need your help." Ducky stands up from crouching next to Danny. He can see that she is shocked at seeing all the blood. It's not just the sight, but also the smell. "Catherine! Help Max, Steve is not breathing. You need to do that for him." Dr. Mallard is glad to see that his words make her spring into action.

He has his hands full with Danny's bleeding head wound, but is sure that it is not life threatening. It is just a heavily bleeding graze. He is turning the detective into a secure position in which he can stay until he wakes up or EMTs can take care of him.

He throws a look at Max and Cath, who are working on Steve, and what he sees is not encouraging. Catherine is pushing air into his lungs while Max is busy doing heart compressions. But Ducky knows that it won't do much good if Steve has already lost more than three liters of blood. He desperately hopes that is not the case.

Three liters is the critical amount a body can lose; if that were the case there is not much of a chance to save him even with CPR. They need to refill the lost blood as soon as possible to get at least a minimal pressure up.

Being done with his task of securing Danny, he turns to JoJo, but sees right away, that she is not seriously injured. A bullet grazed her upper arm and took a chunk of meat out, but the wound is not bleeding much. He suspects she simply fainted. He puts her in the shock position and is happy to see her coming around thanks to his ministrations.

"Steve?"

"Captain, please stay down. Max is taking care of Steve." Ducky moves a little out of the way for her to see what is happening to her friend.

"Danny, what's with Danny?"

"He will be fine, it's just a graze," Ducky assures her.

A commotion can be heard from the hallway, and finally help is coming. "Gibbs! In here, we need help." Ducky was never so relieved to see the agents.

They go to work right away. Ziva takes the first aid kid from the mounting on the wall and uses a few gauze pads to try to stop the bleeding from Steve's abdomen. Tony tries the same with Danny's head wound, which is a lot easier. A simple patch and a bandage does the trick.

"The bleeding won't stop," Ziva says as she pushes down with almost her full weight on the still bleeding wound just above Steve's belt.

"I need a flashlight, and get the damn EMS here," Ducky takes his jacket off and kneels next to Ziva. "Let me see, Ziva." Ducky takes the flashlight from Gibbs and shines the light directly on the wound. "Ziva, hold it like this." He gives the light to the female agent and takes the gauze pads off his friend's wound.

He doesn't bother to acknowledge their collective gasps when he pushes right into the wound with two fingers. It takes him a moment to feel around and find out where the blood is coming from. "Got it," he exclaimed as he presses down on the leaking artery. "Max, Cath, keep going," he encourages them to not give up.

Ducky looks up and sees in Gibbs' eyes that he knows how hopeless all their efforts are. Steve has been without a pulse for over four minutes now, and the amount of blood on the floor speaks volumes. But he won't give up. If the EMTs arrive soon and provide him with fluids, they might be able to restart his heart.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Dr. Mallard has been clamping the artery for two minutes now, keeping Steve from further bleeding out. But he's not sure if all they are doing will make a difference.

Max is still giving his all to do the heart compressions, and Cath is still breathing for her friend every thirty compressions. They are trying their best to keep their friend alive. A moment ago the EMTs arrived and they will take over any second now. Ducky watches as one of them gently pushes Cath out of the way and how he presses a mask with an Ambu bag on Steve's face.

A second medic attaches the electrodes to Steve's chest and a moment later they hear the wailing sound of a Flatline.

"Keep the CPR up… what's your name?"

"Max."

"Good, Max. Tom, start an IV, we need to get his pressure up. Who are you?" The EMT turns to Dr. Mallard.

"Dr. Mallard, I'm currently clamping his nicked artery."

"You need to get your fingers out of there, we can't shock him with you touching him," the EMT tells Ducky the obvious, simultaneously getting big patches out of his pack and pushing them under Steve's back to try to slow the bleeding from the entry wound. Thankfully that hole is not leaking much.

He gives another stack of patches to Ducky to put on the bigger exit wound as soon as he takes his fingers out of the wound.

"Tom, push the fluids."

The defibrillator is by now charged and ready to use, "Max, stop now. All clear, please." After making sure that nobody is touching the body he gives the first shock to Steve's heart.

But after that, they still hear nothing but the wailing sound. "Trying again… three hundred… all clear."

Again with no better result. "Max, start CPR again."

The EMT pulls two syringes out of his big bag, one of which he injects into the IV port and the other directly into Steve's chest.

"Try again with three hundred, all clear."

Ducky takes his hands off the already bloody patches and watches as Max also takes his hands off. Out of the corner of his eyes he can see that everyone in the room seems to hold his or her breath as the still nameless EMT presses the paddles onto Steve's exposed chest. A very small jerk goes through Steve, and everyone is looking at the EKG monitor.

The wailing sound stops and for a couple of seconds there is absolutely no sound being heard from any equipment or person. And then there is what they were all waiting for, a high beeping sound. Very fast, but definitely a beeping and not a wailing sound like before.

"Got him!" Everyone can hear the excitement in the voice. "Tom, intubate him. Dr. Mallard, press on the wound. People, we need to get him out of here, right now. You," he turns to Tony and gives him two IV bags. "Hold this."

"Okay."

In the meantime more paramedics have arrived and are currently tending to the still unconscious Danny. He is loaded onto a gurney and wheeled out of the room in a matter of minutes.

"Where are you taking him?" JoJo has the presence of mind to ask.

"Walter Reed, and you can come along with us. You need stitches for that wound." The young woman who came with the second EMS crew is gently nudging JoJo up off the floor.

"Captain, go with them. I'm sure Steve will also be taken to Bethesda," Gibbs tells the older officer.

"We're flying him over there in a minute," Tom announces while he tapes down the breathing tube he just inserted. He keeps bagging Steve, but now he has a tube down his throat that is delivering the air right where it's needed.

They have Steve placed on a gurney and are pulling it up to wheel him out to the waiting helicopter on the roof.

Gibbs looks around the room, two dead men are still lying on the ground. And a huge pool of blood in the middle of the room is witness to the drama that happened here just a few minutes ago. His gaze falls on Catherine who stands lost in the room and staring down at the blood. The blood that was being pumped out of her friend, her lover with every beat of his heart.

He looks at Ducky who looks like he is watching his own horror show right now. And finally he turns to Max who doesn't seem to know what to do; he is watching Catherine but seems reluctant to talk to her.

Suddenly Cath looks up and locks eyes with Gibbs, "every time he's working with you he gets hurt, Agent Gibbs." It doesn't sound like an accusation, more like a resigned recounting of facts.

"Let me drive you to the hospital. Max, Ducky, come on," he tells his three friends. "Tony, you and Ziva coordinate the crime scene. I want a report later about what went down here. I want to know every little detail about why we have two dead people and three injured." He doesn't wait for them to say anything but moves on to guide Catherine out of this hellhole of an office.

Five minutes later they are en route to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Where they will hopefully hear good news about their friends.

 

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Chapter Text

PD – Chapter 30

Major Andrew Winchester puts on a fresh pair of scrubs after getting rid of the blood soiled ones. It's never a good idea to greet the family of a wounded soldier dressed in clothes covered in their loved one's blood. And there was a lot of blood on his scrubs from Lieutenant Commander McGarrett. So much so that it's a wonder that the man has any left at all.

Andy Winchester sighs; this is the part he always dreads, telling family bad news. But it's part of his job and more often than not he has to deliver devastating news to the waiting family. The people who land on his table are almost always at the end of their rope and no matter how good Andy's team is they can't save everyone.

The major makes his way over to the surgical waiting area and wonders what to expect. He knows that McGarrett was rushed to the ER five hours ago by a medevac chopper. He was flown in directly from a crime scene at a hotel in the heart of DC. To call his condition serious five hours ago would be an understatement. Andy knew right away that there was not much hope for the lieutenant commander.

Andy opens the door to the waiting area and is surprised to see so many people, and it's clear that not all of them are family. There are two people he identifies as police officers of some sort right away. Then there are the two Navy females and two men he would categorize as doctors. Major Winchester has the uncanny ability of sizing up the people he meets and knowing what they do for a living. And he is seldom wrong.

One thing is for sure, all six of them are definitely close to McGarrett, anyone could see that. He turns his attention to the highest ranking officer in the room.

"Captain Jordan?"

"Yes, Major Winchester, how is Commander McGarrett?" JoJo asks the question they all want to know the answer to.

"Who is McGarrett's next of kin?" Major Winchester looks at all of them.

"That would be us," Danny speaks up for the first time and motions to Catherine and himself.

Andy looks at the blond man in front of him, who looks rather distressed and very pale. He looks almost as pale as the big patch on the side of his head. And he can see that he at some point tried to wash the blood off his shirt. It's now pinkish and everyone knows that a lot of it is McGarrett's blood. "Would you like to follow me into my office, please?"

"These are Steve's friends, whatever you have to say you can say in front of them. How is Steve?" Danny doesn't want to go to any office; he just wants to know how his friend is doing. He's wasted enough time waiting around after he was treated for the graze on his temple.

"Okay. Let's have a seat." Andy motions to a group of chairs next to a couch and waits for all of them to take a seat. "Cmdr. McGarrett made it through surgery." Major Winchester can see how they all take a deep breath after knowing that their friend is alive.

"So, he will be okay?" Catherine looks in hope at the surgeon.

"I can't tell you that. You have to understand, Cmdr. McGarrett arrived here five hours ago already in full arrest. He had lost a huge amount of blood and his heart just couldn't pump anymore, because there was not enough blood left to keep a circulation up. We pushed fluids and blood into him and were able to get his blood pressure back up. We were able to repair the damage the bullet caused in his abdomen. That was a through and through and the bullet nicked an artery, which is why he was bleeding out."

Major Winchester waits for the information to settle in before he continues. "We lost him again on the table, but your commander is a fighter and we got him back. We also extracted the second bullet. That one did a lot of damage to his shoulder. His clavicle is shattered, muscle and tendons are torn and his shoulder blade is fractured. It's too early to tell if he will regain full function of his shoulder. But even if he does, it will take months of therapy. But it's way too early to even think about that. He will need more surgery on his shoulder, we had to stop when his BP dropped dramatically again. His condition is critical at the moment and the next 24 hours will tell if he will recover."

"He'll make it," Danny says with conviction.

"I hope so and we will do everything we can to help him. But, please remember, his heart gave out three times. During that time his brain was not sufficiently supplied with oxygen, there is no guarantee that he didn't suffer any long term effects from that. And we still can't say for sure what kind of damage the electric currents did."

"Are you talking about brain damage?" JoJo asks the Major.

"I'm just trying to prepare you for everything that might happen. He already suffered two seizures because his brain is misfiring due to the lingering concussion and electric currents." Winchester tries to paint a clear picture of what to expect. He wants McGarrett's friends to understand that even though he survived the surgery he still might end up dead or severely brain damaged or with another disability due to his injuries. "Commander McGarrett is critically injured and any kind of complication might arise. Kidney failure is a high risk in his case. He is not out of the woods yet. I just want you to realize that. His chances are not even fifty/fifty. The best case scenario is him getting away from this fully recovered… it's possible. But the most likely scenario at the moment is that he won't. I'm really sorry that I can't give you any more hope than that. It's up to him now."

"Thank you, Major. Can we see him?" Catherine is very anxious to see Steve. It's hard for her to keep it together, knowing that her friend is fighting for his life right at this moment.

"Give us about an hour to settle him in the ICU, he is still in post-surgery. Please prepare yourself for seeing him attached to all kinds of machinery, the most disturbing the ventilator. He needs assisted breathing at the moment." Seeing the alarmed faces he is quick to assure them that he is breathing on his own but the vent makes it easier for him. "He is very weak and his blood pressure is still on the low side. We will take him off the vent as soon as possible."

"Will someone tell us when we can see him?" Danny would like nothing more than to see his friend right now, to make sure that he is indeed still among the living. He has no doubt that his partner will make it.

"I'll let the nurses in ICU know that you're waiting in the ICU waiting area. You can only see him one at a time for five minutes every hour." Seeing the upcoming protest he quickly continues, "I'm sorry, but this is a very busy ICU and we can't have the care disrupted by family. I understand that you all want to be there for him, believe me I understand that. But he is deeply unconscious right now and won't even know that you're there." He further placates them with a little bit of hope, "as soon as possible he will be transferred to intermediate care, where you can stay with him for longer. Do you have any questions?"

"When will you know if there is any brain damage?" Cpt. Jordan asks.

"When he is stable we will run some more tests. We did an EEG, and that looks good, even though he had two seizures during surgery. But I'm sure those were caused by the trauma and are an isolated occurrence. We are not worried about that too much right now. Our main concern at the moment is his survival. Everything else is secondary at this stage." Major Winchester hopes that they understand how serious their friend's condition is.

"Thank you, Major for what you have done for Steve." Catherine lets him know and is eager to go to the ICU to hopefully see her friend in a little while.

"You're welcome. Please ask one of the nurses to contact me if you have any further questions. I'll inform the ICU staff that you're waiting for word from them to see your friend." Major Winchester leaves them to think about what he just told them and makes his way to the elevator to see his patient in recovery.

It takes him only a couple of minutes to reach the recovery ward and he doubles his effort to get there when he hears the code blue when the elevator door opens. He knows instantly that it's coming from McGarrett's cubicle. And he is right about it; his colleagues are already frantically working on the man fresh out of surgery.

"He's crashing, his BP is none existent. Andy, can there still be more damage? His abdomen is rigid, he must be bleeding again," his friend Commander Philips, head of ICU, tells him over the noise of the alarms. "You have to take him back to surgery, we're losing him," Philips says as he injects yet another drug into the IV.

"He won't survive another go in surgery," Andy doubts that he will even make it to the OR.

"It's the only way, he is losing more blood than we can push in, there has to be a leak." Philips switches the brake of the bed off and they start to roll towards the elevator.

"Meagan, call down to the ICU. In the waiting room are his friends. Tell them we need blood, we're running out of supply with this guy." Winchester thinks back to the surgery this morning on PO Epson, where they used almost their complete supply of O negative. "Please check to see if any of them is O negative. We need blood for him. And start the emergency protocol." Andy sends her off with the plea to hurry if they want to save his patient. McGarrett is a universal donor with his rare blood type of O negative, but the downside is that he can only receive blood of the same type. "Okay, guys, let's hurry and get him back to surgery."

 

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The group just arrived in the ICU waiting area when they are approached by a nurse. "Are you here for Commander McGarrett?"

"Yes, can we see him now?" Danny is the first to react.

"No, I'm sorry. The commander was just taken back to surgery…"

"What? But Major Winchester said…" Catherine interrupts her.

"Ma'am, I can't tell you what happened. I'm here to ask you about your blood type. We need blood for McGarrett. He has a rare blood type and we're running out of supply for him. He is O negative." She pauses to see if that gets any reaction, most people react when they hear their own blood type. But this group stays quiet. So she continues, "which means he can only receive from an O negative donor. Any of you know your blood type?" The nurse looks around and knows that at least the two officers should know that information.

"I thought most people have blood type O?" Danny was sure to have heard that.

"O positive, yes, but not negative, only about 5 % of the population have O negative."

"And of course Steve needs to have that," Danny says frustrated about his friend's luck.

"He is a universal donor; his blood can be given to any person on the planet. Only his blood type can be used for that, but unfortunately we can't use anything but his own blood type on him. Please, this is a matter of urgency…" The nurse looks at the six people in front of her. They have already started their emergency protocol in case they are running low on blood. But it will take some time to get fresh supplies from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and from the Naval Academy in Annapolis. A life flight is already on its way to collect the available blood, but it looks like McGarrett can use every drop of blood they can get.

Only one of them is O negative, and so they can't all donate for their friend. But they are willing to give blood anyway, and the hospital will gladly drain them. There is never enough blood, so every donor is more than welcome. They will all donate later in the day, except for Detective Williams who is already a bit low on blood due to his head injury that had been bleeding heavily.

"Dr. Mallard, are you willing to give blood for Commander McGarrett?" The nurse is bound by law to ask and get a written consent.

"Of course. Please take as much as possible," Ducky tells the nurse and hurries after her to give his blood to help save his friend.

The rest of them stays back and can only hope that the surgeons will be able to save Steve.

"Why did they have to take him back to surgery, Max?" Catherine looks at the remaining doctor.

Max Bergman looks totally surprised to be asked such a question, after all he was not privy to more information than the others have been. One look at the distressed girlfriend of their task force leader shows him, that she doesn't really expect him to know the answer to that, "I'm sorry Catherine, I don't know for sure. He might have developed a bleed. That can happen even directly after surgery."

"Major Winchester said they would settle him in ICU, why does he always have to do it the hard way?"

"I'm sure he will make it, Cath." Captain Jordan hugs her friend and gently leads her to one of the couches standing in the waiting area of the ICU. "Come on, let's sit down. Not much more we can do right now. Danny, why don't you sit down as well? You look like you could use some rest."

Danny only looks at her and shakes his head. He can't sit down while his friend is fighting for his life. He has to do something. And that something right now is pacing. He thinks about how this even happened, how it was possible for his friend to end up almost dead on the floor of some basement? What they could have done differently, what they could have done to avoid this.

"Nothing."

"What?" Danny looks at Gibbs who he just heard.

"You could have done nothing differently. This is not your fault, Danny. That's what you were just thinking, what you could have done differently, right?"

"My best friend is dying right now, and I just wish I was a second faster, or…"

"He is not dying. Steve is tough, he will make it." Gibbs tells him with conviction. "And as far as I see it, you took a bullet for him. What else do you want to do?"

"I… I don't know… I just feel so helpless."

"We all do, Danny," JoJo tells him quietly. She feels guilty that her patient caused so much horror and she didn't have a clue about any of it. He was just a patient trying to cope with his chronic pain from his leg injury. There has never been any issue of serious mental illness. Sure he suffered from the occasional episode on days the pain got really bad, but that is not uncommon for veterans. She simply can't understand how any of his evaluating doctors and how she could not have seen it. Eighteen people are dead, including Donaldson and Levin. If she or one of her colleagues had seen it, maybe they all could have been saved. One of her closest friends might die because none of the so called "professionals" saw that there was something seriously wrong with Lieutenant Donaldson.

"The same goes for you, Doctor. It's not your fault. I know you shrinks think you know it all, but you don't. Donaldson was a mental case, and he was very good at hiding that from everyone. Don't blame yourself," Gibbs knows that she will do so anyway, no matter what anyone would tell her.

Gibbs looks at Lieutenant Rollins and wishes to be able to tell her something, but he knows that she doesn't like him much, and anything he'd say would make it worse. So he stays quiet and just hopes that their friend would make it.

 

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"Where the hell is this blood coming from?" Andy Winchester looks at the mess in front of him. He just opened the wound on the right side of Steve's abdomen again, and the blood was practically overflowing right out of the incision he cut. "I need more suction," he orders his assistant to clean the area, so he can actually see something.

When the blood is finally sucked out, he is shocked to see that the artery he so painstakingly fixed just a few hours ago is again leaking blood. From a tiny little hole escapes a little fountain of red liquid with every beat of his patient's heart. It's a very small leak, but over time he's again lost an alarming amount of the life sustaining blood.

The hole is quickly repaired and they make doubly sure there is no blood coming from anywhere else. After they are sure, they clean the whole cavity again. That is the last thing they need now, an infection.

Winchester places a new drainage and is just about to close up when his anesthesiologist tells him to hurry up, "Andy, hurry, he can't hold out for much longer." Tom Wilkinson pushes down the plunger to administer yet another drug into McGarrett's system. A drug that will hopefully help to stabilize the dropping blood pressure. "We need to get more blood into him, or we're going to lose him."

Just a second after an alarm starts blaring Steve starts to seize again. "Tom, get that under control." Major Winchester takes his hand off his convulsing patient and hopes that the seizure won't cause any stitches to pop again. Thirty seconds later the body is completely still. "If that bastard who did this to him wasn't dead already, he should be subjected to his electro therapy." Major Winchester of course would never hurt anybody, but seeing what the use of that electric device caused his patient makes his blood boil.

"This is the last bag of blood," the nurse informs him as she hangs another bag onto the stand with all the other bags of medication.

"Did they find any donors?"

"Yeah, one of his friends is giving blood right now. The life flight should be back within the hour. Hopkins couldn't give much, but Annapolis had a good supply. So, he should be alright, blood wise," his assistant tells him the first good news of the night.

"That's good, that's real good. Let's finish up here and settle him in ICU as soon as possible." Major Winchester tells his team as he again checks every tube going in and out of Steve's body. He places new electrodes on his chest, careful of the thick bandages covering the shoulder wound and keeping the shoulder immobilized. "Okay, I think he's good to go." Andy looks down at his patient and is amazed that he survived yet another hour on the operating table.

 

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Andy Winchester looks at the people in front of him, and can see that they are even more anxious than they were when he first met them.

"McGarrett is holding his own. Dr. Mallard, thank you for giving blood, he is already receiving your donation," Andy starts his tale with the good news.

"Why did he have to have surgery again?" A very pale Williams asks him.

"Detective, before I answer all your questions… I talked to your doctor, and he told me that you left AMA to be here with your friends?"

"I'm fine," that is actually something that brings the first tentative smile to everyone's face, because that is normally someone else's line.

"No, you're not. You were shot and suffered a concussion. I will allow you to go see your friend in ICU, but after your five minutes you will be admitted, get a CT scan and will spend the night here. That is not negotiable." Major Winchester can be very authoritative and Danny can only nod. "Good."

"What about Steve?" Cath turns the conversation back to the reason why they are all here.

"I told you that the commander suffered two seizures during surgery. During one of them he must have popped a stitch repairing his nicked artery. We didn't realize that. He lost blood through a tiny hole. The blood gathered in his abdominal cavity. We were able to repair the hole and there was no further damage. At the moment he is getting settled in the ICU."

"So, the surgery went without problem?"

"No, Captain Jordan. He seized again." Seeing their shocked faces he continues quickly, "that is no reason for major concern just yet. Please remember, Commander McGarrett was subjected to intensive electro shocks. They are still causing his brain to misfire. That manifests in seizures. But the last one was barely thirty seconds. That is a very good sign, the two before that were significantly longer," Major Winchester knows what they are all thinking. "It is way too soon to think that he'll keep getting seizures. Unfortunately it is not that easy to determine the damage that was done by the electricity. We can say though that he didn't suffer any heart damage. His heart was out of rhythm, but is doing fine now. The heart is basically a muscle, and damage to it can be pretty easily determined."

"His heart is okay?" Danny wants confirmation.

"Yes, absolutely. There will be no lasting effect. It's not as easy with the brain, obviously. But my experience shows that he will get past these seizures in a matter of days and will suffer no long lasting effect from them."

Andy can see that they all relax a little bit hearing the news. "However, the situation hasn't changed. He is still listed as critical, it still could go either way. Added to the recent trauma is the fact that he is still recovering from his surgery last week. Even though he is in top shape, he is run down from all the injuries and stress. That is not helping." Winchester pauses to let it all set in before he continues, "we will keep him sedated overnight and probably all day tomorrow. In addition to the gunshot wounds, he received very painful injuries to his lower back, belly and groin. I understand that he was kicked?" He looks at JoJo for confirmation.

"Yes, when he was unconscious, Donaldson kicked… he was so brutal and I couldn't help him… Steve couldn't move his legs when he woke up, he was screaming in pain…"

"I don't know how he managed to walk; there is extensive bruising, which would cause intense pain. When he is more stable, hopefully in the morning, we will do more tests and an MRI."

"When can we see him?" again Danny tries his luck. He just wants to see his friend, all this talk about his injuries is making him even more anxious to see his friend.

"In a few minutes. Remember, only one at a time, and not more than three per hour. So take your pick. Williams, you will be admitted after your visit, remember that," Winchester will make sure that Detective Williams gets the care he needs, if he wants it or not. "Okay, who is first?"

"Danny, you go first. The sooner you go, the sooner you can get treatment," Cath is glad that Winchester insisted on admitting Danny, who looks like he will keel over any second.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, Danny, I'm sure. Go," Cath motions for him to go see his friend and partner.

"Thank you." Danny turns and walks out of the waiting room and follows Major Winchester to the nurses' station.

"Sergeant Akira, will you take Detective Williams to see Commander McGarrett, and afterwards 'deliver' him back down to the ER?"

"Of course, Major. Detective, please follow me. We need to dress you a bit differently," she tells him with a smile.

Ten minutes later, Danny stands in the doorway of the cubicle in which his best friend is lying. He is shocked at what he sees.

"I know it's a lot to take in, but your friend is keeping up really well." Akira tells him softly after seeing his shocked reaction as he stopped dead in his tracks in the doorway. "Come on, step closer and talk to him. He's sedated, but you never know, he might hear you." The sergeant gently nudges him forward.

Danny looks down at his friend and has to swallow the bile that is rising in his throat. Winchester prepared them for what to expect, but the sight in front of him is still a shock. Steve is so very pale, he's never seen anyone as pale as him. Unless it was a corpse in Max's autopsy bay. Danny can't even count all the tubes that are leading to various softly beeping machines. The beeping concert is only drowned out by the sound of the ventilator.

For the love of him he can't find it in him to say anything. Danny has never been speechless, but now he can't even form a word. To see this strong man, lying there on a bed, looking very much like he's already dead, is just too much. Maybe it's because of the concussion and the fear of losing his friend, but Danny Williams just stands there.

And then the most amazing thing happens. Steve's heartbeat that was over 95 when Danny entered slows down to a healthy 60 beats per minute. It's almost like Steve feels Danny's presence. That gives Danny the courage to finally touch his friend and even speak, "Steve, listen to me. You have to keep fighting. You hear? We're counting on you to keep this up."

"Detective, you have to go now," Akira again gently leads him, this time out of the room and out of the ICU, where another nurse is already waiting for him to take him back to the ER so that he can be admitted and get his aching head checked.

If he stays in the hospital for the night, he might be able to get to see Steve again during the night. With that in mind he follows the nurse to surrender himself to the hospital staff.

 

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Chapter Text

PD – Chapter 31

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, ICU Waiting room

"Max, you, Gibbs and Dr. Mallard can stay in our rooms if you like. Cath and I won't go back to the hotel; we'll stay here tonight," Captain Jordan had already made up her mind that she would not go back to the hotel, but would stay with her friends. She is sure that no one would be able to get Cath away from the ICU ward.

"I think it is a good idea not to drive back to Norfolk. Dr. Mallard, you should lie down and rest after the blood donation," Max says to his new friend. He was worried after he learned that the older ME made them take more than the usual 500ml of blood. "Captain, will you call us with any news?"

"Of course, Max." JoJo assures Steve's friend.

"I'll drive you to the hotel," Gibbs tells the men. "Thank you, Dr. Jordan. We will be back in the morning." He then ushers the two MEs out of the ICU waiting area, leaving the two women alone.

JoJo sits on the couch next to Cath and places her hand on the younger woman's knee. "Catherine? Are you okay?"she asks, looking at Cath's solemn expression. She hasn't said much since they learned of Steve's injury and JoJo is very worried about her friend.

"I can't do this anymore," her voice was so low that JoJo has to strain to even hear her.

"What do you mean?"

"This," Catherine glances up and motions around the room. "The waiting to learn if Steve will live or die. I just can't do this anymore." She puts her head in her hands but keeps talking, "when Steve was still an active SEAL it was really hard, often not knowing where he was or what he was doing, when… or even if I would see him again. I thought it couldn't get any worse than that. You know, with him deployed and me also in different locations when we weren't working together." Cath looks up at JoJo, "but this… this is way worse. Having him home all the time, but knowing that he faces danger every time he goes to work. He has had more injuries since he began leading Five-0 than during his active duty. JoJo, I just can't bear seeing him get hurt. And this time it was my fault. I should have gone with you and not check the conference room like he told me."

"Well, first of all, it's not your fault, Catherine. Steve gave you an order... let me finish," Jojo says, holding up her hand to stop Catherine's upcoming protest. "If you had been with us, you would be dead now. Donaldson had no use for you and would have shot you. I'm glad you weren't with us, but you did your job. And I'm sure Steve is glad as well."

Seeing that her words have sunk in, she continues, "and secondly there really isn't much you can do, Catherine. If you love him, and I know you do, you can only stand by him and endure it. Just like he endures putting you through all this, and believe me it hurts him a lot. Or, if you don't love him, you can leave." She paused to let that option sink in. "But we both already know the answer to that question." JoJo smiles at her friend.

"Not much of a choice, huh?" Cath glances at JoJo and shows a small smile. She knows that she would never leave Steve like that. And if this is the price she has to pay to be with him, then that is what she will do. Even though sometimes it really sucks.

"No, we can't choose who we love. We can only hope that in the end, all the pain is worth it." JoJo hopes that they won't have to pay the ultimate price and lose their friend. She knows, if that were to happen, none of them would ever be the same.

Catherine looks at JoJo and can see that she is keeping her injured arm very still. She is still wearing the bloody shirt with the tear from the bullet in it. "JoJo, are you sure you okay? Does your arm hurt?"

"It hurts, but I'm fine. It's only a graze, really not worth worrying over."

"How can you be so calm, JoJo? I feel like I'm falling apart, but you're calm and collected, you even thought about Ducky needing rest."

"That is only on the outside. Believe me, I'm anything but calm. I'm so worried about Steve, about him not making it or being left with a disability. But right now there is not much we can do about it." JoJo tries to smile at her young friend. "I'm going to check on Danny. Will you be okay here on your own for a while?"

"Yeah, sure. I hope they will allow me to see Steve in a few minutes. Danny left over half an hour ago. You don't think something's happened?" Catherine suddenly has a very bad feeling about why they haven't come get her to see Steve yet.

"I'm sure everything is fine. You heard Major Winchester, they are busy. Don't worry, I'm sure they will come and get you in a short while." JoJo hopes that will be true. She doesn't know how much more bad news they can take. "I'll go and check on Danny, but I'll be back soon, I promise."

"Okay. Thank you, JoJo." Cath wouldn't know what to do if she were alone with the situation and her worry about her friend. He is so much more than your friend! Cath smiles at her own thought, but still hasn't figured out what to call Steve other than 'friend'. Boyfriend sounds like the boy she dated in high school, not like the man she is living with. Maybe it is time to really define their relationship and give it a name.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Danny hates this. And now he can finally understand why his friend resents a CT scan so much. It's not much fun to lie in this darn tube. It's not a tube, don't exaggerate like that. Well, it feels like a narrow tube. Danny actually laughs when he realizes that he's having a conversation with himself.

"Detective Williams, please lie still," the slightly annoyed technician tells him for the third time.

"I am lying still," Danny grumbles and wonders what the guy is talking about. As if I could move much, even if I wanted to. He feels like he is strapped down and his head screwed in place.

Exaggerating much again? Shut up. Danny is getting a bit worried hearing himself constantly talking, that is so not him. Maybe I am hurt more than I thought? Argh, darn, shut up now.

"Detective, you HAVE to lie still!" That didn't sound so friendly anymore.

"I AM lying still," Danny yells back.

Suddenly he hears not the annoyed technician but the gentle voice of his doctor. She was very nice to him in the ER and patiently explained why he should stay the night. "Danny, you have been constantly talking since we began. Those movements won't let us get a clear picture. If you can lie completely still for five minutes, I promise to get you out of there then. Can you stop moving for a few minutes?"

Shit. "I was talking out loud?"

"Yeah," Dr. Floralys tells him with a soft chuckle.

"Okay, shutting up now." Danny can feel himself blushing.

"Thank you. We will start the scan again, and you will be out of there really soon, Detective." The technician starts the scan anew and as promised is finished in less than five minutes.

"See, that wasn't so bad," Dr. Floralys tells him as she holds the IV Bag while Danny transfers from the scanner bed to the gurney.

"Speak for yourself," Danny is not happy about being wheeled around the hospital. He told them that he could walk, but they wouldn't hear of it. So now he is again lying on a gurney to be transported back to a treatment room.

His doctor only smiles at him and hangs the bag with fluids on the stand above his gurney, "I'll see you in a few minutes, Detective." With that she leaves him in the hands of two nurses who are pushing him out of the room.

"I'm telling you, I can walk," he again tries his luck with the nurses.

"I'm sure you can but why don't you just enjoy the ride, Mr. Williams?" Petty Officer Walker has been warned that her patient is not very happy about staying in the hospital. But she has handled other stubborn patients before, so he shouldn't be a problem.

"Fine."

Walker smiles down at him and pushes his gurney into the elevator to get him to his room on the Neuro wing of the Hospital.

"Why are you all wearing different uniforms?" Danny wants to know while they are waiting to reach the right floor.

"Because Navy, Army and the Air Force personnel all work here. This is a joint military hospital for all the branches of the military. I know it can be a bit confusing with the ranks if you're not familiar with it. Your doctor is a Navy captain which is a pretty high rank, whereas an Army captain is a junior officer," she tells him as she pushes the bed down the hallway after they reached the Neuro wing.

"My partner explained that to me…"

"Your partner? Is he waiting for you in one of the waiting rooms? I can tell him where to find you if you like."

"No," Danny replied, then hesitated before explaining. "He's in the ICU, he was injured alongside me. I hope to see him later?" Danny looks hopefully at the nurse who looks rather understanding.

"I'll see what I can do. What's his name?"

"Lieutenant Commander McGarrett. And thank you."

"You're welcome. Now, here we are. Your room for the night." PO Walker helps Danny transfer from the gurney to the edge of the bed in the double room. The second bed is empty at the moment, so they were alone after the second nurse left with the gurney. "Let me disconnect the IV for a minute, so you can get out of your shirt." Walker easily disconnects him from the IV and helps him remove his shirt. She gives him a sleep shirt to wear and busies herself with the IV-stand to give him some privacy as he takes his pants off and puts the sleep shorts on.

"Thank you."

"Here let me help you with that," she tells Danny as she pulls the blanket out from under his legs and places it on top of him. "The doctor should be here any minute. If you need anything, please use the call button."

"Thank you. Can I have some water please?"

"Yes, of course. I'll bring you a pitcher." PO Walker connects the IV again and checks the flow before she leaves Danny alone.

Before she can bring Danny his water, Captain Floralys walks in, again with a smile on her face.

"Detective Williams, good to see you're already settled in bed. That is where I want you to stay until morning. I don't want you wandering around, although I'm pretty sure you had plans to go to the ICU later."

"Listen, Captain. My friend is lying in there fighting for his life. I need to be there, not lying in this stupid bed. I'm fine."

"Detective, you are not fine. You have a severe concussion; that bullet almost killed you. You lost a good amount of blood and your BP is way too low at the moment." Seeing his upcoming protest she continues, "I'll make you a deal. You rest for a few hours, let the IV run its course, and then after midnight a nurse will take you to the ICU for another short visit. BUT you will not walk anywhere on your own. Do we have a deal?"

"I'll make sure he stays put," they both turn to see Captain Jordan standing in the doorway.

"Any news on Steve?" Danny is quick to ask.

"No, not yet. I'm sure Cath is with him right now. How are you doing, Danny?"

"I'm fine, which I keep telling everyone, but nobody is listening," he grumbles, glaring at the doctor.

"He is doing okay, as good as can be expected," Dr. Floralys tells JoJo. "The CT scan was inconclusive, so we will do another one in the morning. The head injury still needs observation, and his body needs the chance to replenish the blood loss."

"I'm sure Detective Williams will listen to his doctors. Right, Danny?" JoJo looks at Danny and dares him to argue.

"Yeah. But only if I can see Steve at midnight."

"You have my word, Detective." Captain Floralys promises him.

"Thank you," he tells her and watches her leave. "JoJo, how is Cath holding up?" Danny lays his aching head back on the pillow and closes his eyes. With JoJo he doesn't need to pretend to be fine anymore, not after he got his wish to see his friend again later tonight.

"She will be a lot better when we hear that Steve will be okay," JoJo lets him know.

"Yeah. JoJo can you call Chin and Kono again and give them an update?"

"I'll do that before I go back to Cath, I just wanted to see how you are first," Captain Jordan doesn't look forward to talking to Steve's friends again. After all, she has nothing new to tell them.

"Thank you."

"It's okay, Danny. Try to sleep a little. If anything happens with Steve I promise to come see you right away. And we'll make sure that you see him at midnight," JoJo tells Danny as she sees him struggle to stay awake. The stress of the day and his head injury finally catches up to him.

"Okay… but get me…" Danny can't even finish his sentence before he succumbs to his body's demand for rest.

JoJo smiles down at the sleeping man and silently makes her way out of the room.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Catherine is led into the cubicle Steve occupies and just like Danny earlier, she stops in the doorway trying to take it all in. She sees the nurse next to his bed who is adjusting one of the many monitors and glances at all the machines trying to make sense of it. It takes her almost a minute to finally look at Steve who seems so small with all the equipment attached to him. Countless tubes and wires are leading from his body to all the monitors.

The light blanket covering him only reaches his waist, so she has a clear view of the bandages wrapping almost all of his upper body. She looks at the bloody output that is coming out of the tube sticking out of the bandage on his lower right side. She is disturbed to see the finger thick sized tube coming out of his chest. That one is clear and she knows it's in there because at some point during his ordeal, his lung must have collapsed.

She cringes when she takes in the cooling packs on his lower belly and groin area. Winchester wasn't kidding when he told them that Steve had suffered severe bruising. But what she finds most disturbing is how very pale Steve is. He doesn't look like there is any life left in him. Catherine tentatively steps closer to the bed, careful of not being in the way.

"It's okay, you can sit in the chair on the other side of the bed," the nurse tells her while finishing adjusting the monitors." She offers Cath a sympathetic smile and motions to the chair next to Steve's bed.

"Thank you."

Catherine sits down on the left next to Steve's ICU bed and gently takes his slack hand into hers. She knows how silly it was hoping against hope to get a reaction from Steve. She just wished that he would give some sign that he was really alive in that body in front of her. Just the tiniest flicker of hand movement or anything would make her happy.

But, of course, there is nothing. He doesn't miraculously respond to being touched. He just keeps lying there, unmoving. After a minute of just watching him, she calms down a little and even starts to really touch him. She gently lays her hand on his forehead and strokes his sweat soaked hair back.

"Why is he so warm?" Catherine can feel the heat coming off Steve, and there is a sheen of sweat on every part of his body that is not covered by bandages or the light blanket.

"He's running a fever, but that is nothing unusual after surgery," the nurse informs Catherine. "You can wipe him down if you like," PO Knightley smiles at the lieutenant and shows her the utensils to use for the job.

"Thank you," Catherine is well aware that the petty officer just allowed her to stay a little longer with Steve.

"I'll be back in ten minutes, don't worry, we will monitor him from the station," Knightley tells Cath and leaves her alone for a few minutes.

Cath looks after her and for the first time since she entered the ICU becomes aware how many cubicles there are. Most of them are occupied and it's a very busy place. When she entered a few minutes ago, she only had eyes for Steve and didn't even realize what a loud and hectic place this was. Hectic is probably the wrong word, but it seems like that to Cath. Every cubicle can easily be seen from the station in the middle of the room. The nurses' station looks like a command center with dozens of monitors hanging above the station, placed in a circle. One monitor for every patient.

She turns back to Steve and takes one of the packed small towels stacked next to the bed and takes it out of the wrapper. It is presoaked with a non-smelling liquid and feels cool to the touch. She has never seen anything like it and wonders if they use these sterile towels to prevent any risk of infection.

Catherine gently wipes the cloth over Steve's face and his upper body. Even though the cloth is wet, it soaks up all the sweat. And finally she gets her wish of some kind of reaction. The heart monitor slows down considerably. Steve's heart rate settles at a very steady 60 bpm. It's the same effect that happened when Danny was near Steve.

"Steve, can you hear me?" She knows that he can't, but she tries anyway. Major Winchester told them not long ago that Steve is heavily sedated and would not be aware of what is happening around him. But she is convinced that her presence calmed him and that is the reason why his heart rate went down. She knows that he can feel her presence. "Steve, you're doing really great," she told him, leaning close to his ear. "You hang in there. Please don't leave me."

Cath finishes wiping him down and throws the used cloth in the disposal. She takes his hand again and settles back down in her chair, hoping that she will be allowed to stay a little longer.

Ten minutes later PO Knightley and a doctor, Commander Philips come into the cubicle. They seem worried.

"What's wrong?" Catherine doesn't like the concerned faces of the nurse or the doctor.

"His BP is rising," Philips hasn't even finished when the heart monitor also starts peeping in a way too fast rhythm again. "This shouldn't be happening," the commander tells no one in particular and checks the pump that is regulating all the medications currently flowing into Steve's system.

Another sound goes off on a monitor that Cath has no idea what's it for, and just a second later she can see tremors running up and down Steve's body. It's clear that he is having another seizure. Twenty seconds later, he lies still again and the monitors return to their normal concert of rhythmic beeping without the frantic note to it.

Catherine watches helplessly as Commander Philips checks Steve's vitals and makes notes on his chart. She can see him frowning from time to time, and shaking his head when he replaces the cooling packs on the lower body, after they fell off during the seizure.

"Is he okay?" Cath can't stay quiet any longer.

"He is holding his own. I'm a bit concerned about him still having seizures. That shouldn't continue to happen." Seeing the alarmed look on Cath's face he continues quickly, "it's no reason for major concern yet. Everyone's brain reacts differently. And this seizure was very short and mild. I'm still confident that he can get past this without any lasting effect." He pauses as he checks Steve's output. "But the longer they continue, the less likely he'll recover. Right now he is still critical so let's worry about that once he is stable. Unfortunately, he is not out of the woods yet."

Cath can only nod and hopes that her friend will not develop any form of epilepsy. That would mean the end of his career in the Navy and probably Five-0 as well. Don't think about that, he will be fine. Cath gives herself a little pep talk.

"Lieutenant, I'm sorry, but you need to leave now." Philips looks at the distraught friend of his patient and can see that she is very reluctant to leave his side. "I promise we will take good care of him. You can see him again in about an hour."

Not willing to risk the good will of the nurses or the doctor, Catherine agrees quietly and makes her way out of the ICU, in search of JoJo who should be back from checking on Danny by now.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Neuro wing, Room 249, 2345 hours

"Kono, I'm telling you I'm fine," Danny says again and tries to keep his voice down. He doesn't want the nurse who is 'patrolling' the hallway and has already passed his open door at least three times by now, getting wind of him using his phone. He's sure he is not allowed to even have it.

"JoJo said you were shot in the head, Danny." Kono can't believe they didn't learn about Danny's injuries sooner.

"That is totally *not* true. The bullet grazed me."

"Fine. Please tell me that Steve is doing better," Kono stops nagging her second boss wanting to know how her first boss is doing.

"I don't know. I'm going to see him in a little while." Everyone could hear that Danny is more than worried. "It's really bad, Kono," he explained. "He lost so much blood and he coded three times. I… I just don't know, Kono."

"Do you want us to come?"

"No. Not now, they only let us see him for a few minutes every couple of hours. It doesn't make sense to come here; stay in Hawaii and find everything out about LT Donaldson there is to know. I want to know how he managed to fool his way through dozens of evaluations and psychotherapy. I want to know every little detail of his life."

After the dramatic outcome of their trip to Washington, it's the only thing they can do, find out what caused the lieutenant to snap in such a way and kill all those people. And what Levin's role in it was. Danny still isn't over the fact that he let Levin get the drop on him.

"Will do, Danny. Please let us know as soon as Steve wakes up," Kono tells him the only outcome she will accept. There is no way that she will believe her friend will die.

"I will, Kono. Keep me posted about what you find out. And I will ask Agent Gibbs to send you his files about the investigation."

"Okay. Take care, brah."

Danny says his goodbye to his young colleague and starts to get out of his bed.

"We had an agreement, Detective," Danny startles when he hears the voice from the door. "Don't you dare try to get out of that bed on your own." Walker is back and she doesn't look happy at all.

"I was just going to the bathroom," Danny tells her.

"You are supposed to call me if you want out of that bed." PO Walker watches Danny as he tries to hide the dizzy spell that getting upright caused.

"Um… maybe you can help me?" Danny must admit that he wouldn't make it on his own, not even to the bathroom, and for certain not up to the ICU.

"Detective… Danny, you suffered a severe concussion. I know the symptoms didn't manifest before now, but that was only because you were running on adrenaline after the shooting. Now you have to take better care of yourself, or you won't be of any help to your friend. It won't help him or you if you face planted, now would it?"

"No," Danny can see that she does have a point. His head is killing him and he can't even see straight, let alone walk. "Guess I hit my head a bit harder than I thought," he sheepishly admits to the nurse.

"Guess so. Now, do you need to go to the bathroom, or do you want to go straight to the ICU?"

"Bathroom first."

It takes Danny only a few minutes to reach the adjoining bathroom with the help of PO Walker and to be done with his business. "Okay, ready to go."

"You are not 'going' anywhere," PO Walker tells him with a grin and points to a lovely wheelchair.

"You've got to be kidding me!"

"You wanna see your friend or not?"

Danny grumbles something unintelligible but sits down in the wheelchair. When she places the blanket over his knees, his death glare bounces off her and makes her grin even wider. "It's cold in the ICU, you will be thankful."

"Yeah, right."

Five minutes later Danny is again in the ICU looking at his friend. Steve looks a little bit better, at least he has some color back.

"I'll come get you in five minutes," Walker tells him gently after she positioned his wheelchair next to Steve's bed so that he could touch his friend.

"Petty Officer?"

"Yes?"

"How is he doing? I mean what are those monitors telling you?" Danny looks at his nurse and hopes she will tell what all those readings mean.

"You should talk to the commander's doctor about this."

"Please…"

Walker finally relents and gives him a bit of hope, "at the moment, he is holding his own. There are no alarming readings on any of the monitors. But you should really talk to his attending physician."

"I will. Thank you."

Danny is left alone with Steve who looks a bit restless. His movements are miniscule, although he is turning his head to the side once in a while. When Danny hears him gagging on the tube, he grabs his hand and softly speaks to him.

"Hey, Steve, calm down. Everything is okay. We're all safe, you can rest. Just sleep and you will be fine." Amazingly Steve does settle down and seems to go into a deeper sleep than before. Danny wonders why he is this aware at all, Winchester told them that he would be sedated for at least twenty-four hours. He shouldn't be able to fight the ventilator. Danny reminds himself to ask the doctor about that.

A few minutes later PO Walker returns and takes him back to his room. He wanted her to take him to the ICU waiting room, but she wouldn't allow it. "You have to lie back down, Detective. In the morning you will be evaluated again, but I wouldn't bet on a release any time soon."

"I can sign myself out," Danny tells her. He will not stay in bed while Steve is fighting for his life.

"You could. But I guarantee you that if you do, you would not be allowed to see your friend. Think about that. Danny, we only want what's best for you. Don't underestimate your injury. You lost a lot of blood too," Walker tries to reason with her patient. "By the way, that is why you are shivering right now. Told you it would get cold."

Well, Danny couldn't argue with that, he was cold. Damn cold. Damn blood loss. "Why wasn't Steve cold? He felt normal to the touch."

"He is running a low grade fever. It happens after surgery, nothing to worry about."

"Oh, okay."

They reach Danny's room and PO Walker has to steady him when he transfers from his wheelchair to the bed. He is dangerously swaying on his feet. And is very glad to lie back down.

"I'm bringing the pain meds in a few minutes. You should go to sleep for a while." Walker helps him settle down in bed and pulls the blanket up over him.

"But I need to go back to the ICU in an hour."

"Not in an hour," she quickly replies. Seeing his upcoming protest, she hurries to continue. "Danny, you can't be up every hour, but I promise to take you again tonight. Now, try to sleep. And Danny?"

"Yeah?"

"NO more phone calls." She grins at him before she leaves him to get more much needed rest.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

Chapter Text

PD – Chapter 32 - Gibbs

Andy Winchester has to smile upon seeing the two women sleeping on the one couch in the ICU waiting area. He had talked a few times with the occupants of the room during the night. His 24-hour shift is over, but before he leaves he wanted to talk to McGarrett's friends again. It is just six in the morning, but the NCIS Agent from last night, Gibbs has already arrived back with his friends. Andy greets him in a low voice, trying not to wake the two officers.

"Agent Gibbs, do you mind stepping out with me for a minute?"

"No, of course not," Gibbs tells the major as he silently makes his way out of the room while also trying not to wake JoJo and Cath, who were up all night.

"Agent Gibbs, how is Dr. Mallard? I heard that he gave more blood than he should have at his age." Winchester was a bit worried about the ME.

"He's good. He spent the night under the supervision of Dr. Bergman. Thank you for asking." Gibbs' experience with officers is not the best, so he is a bit surprised by this kind of concern.

"That's good to hear." Andy motions for Gibbs to sit down in one of the chairs in the doctors' lounge they have reached. Unfortunately Major Winchester doesn't have an office on this wing, so this will have to do. "Can I get you a coffee? It's pretty strong, just to warn you."

"Thank you, yeah, coffee would be good."

A minute later they are both nursing their hot beverages and Andy wonders how to begin. "Agent Gibbs, last night Detective Williams said I could talk to you about Commander McGarrett if he or LT Rollins weren't available?"

"Yeah. But they are both here."

"Yes, I know. But I don't think they understand the severity of the situation. They are very stubborn in their assumption that McGarrett will make it." Winchester pauses to let the meaning of this settle in. "I would like for you to talk to them. You should discuss bringing his family here, so they have a chance to say goodbye."

"Say goodbye?"

"His vitals are worsening, his kidneys are short of shutting down, by that, I mean he is not producing any output, and we've had to put him on dialysis. In the last two hours, his temperature has risen to 103. The swelling in his lower spine is not going down despite the steroids he's been given. His breathing has deteriorated and the ventilator is not just assisting anymore. He is only a six on the Glasgow Coma Scale. That is very bad." Winchester looks intently at Gibbs to see if he is still following him. "We stopped the sedation to test his status, and we only got signs of withdrawal from painful stimuli; but nothing else. I'm very sorry to tell you this, but our assessment is that we have to expect multiple organ failure in the next 24 hours."

"Are you saying that Steve is going to die?"

Andy Winchester needs to choose his next words very carefully, knowing that many people are rooting for the lieutenant commander. "I'm sorry, but we think he needs a miracle to beat this. Don't get me wrong, we will do everything in our power to get him better. But modern medicine can only do so much."

"I don't understand this, he got through the surgery and you replenished his blood loss, why isn't he stabilizing?" Gibbs knows that it's not just a matter of filling up the missing blood or stitching something back together, but he was still hoping that was all his friend needed.

"We think the main reason for his poor condition is the use of the electroshocks and the immense pain they caused him. He is still suffering muscle spasms, he's constantly trembling and his brain is still misfiring which causes him to seize. The seizures are very mild, but by now they are worrisome due to their frequency. And due to blood loss, the organs were not sufficiently supplied with oxygen for quite some time."

"And you want me to tell his friends this?"

"I don't want you to give up hope," Winchester tells him adamantly. "There is always hope until it is really over. But you should take precautions for what is most likely to happen. Call his friends and family, they might like to see him before it is too late."

Gibbs had received a lot of bad news in his life, he had seen men die; hell he lost his own family. But this doctor was asking him to tell his friends that their lover, their best friend was going to die. And there was nothing for him to do but watch his friend, whom he owes his life to, leave them forever.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Gibbs watches Major Winchester leave the ICU ward and turns back toward the nurses' station. He will not accept that his friend is going to die. Not on his watch. Gibbs feels responsible for what happened to McGarrett. Steve and his friends were guests on his turf, and Gibbs had let them get hurt. In a few hours he will get the report from Ziva and Tony about what really happened, and what Levin's role in all this was. He is sure the fallout from this will have biblical proportions. Heads will roll for sure.

But he doesn't have time to dwell on that. He has to go see his friend, and tell him what he thinks about the crap he is pulling right now. Gibbs is sure that all Steve needs is a good kick in the butt. And that is exactly what he's gonna get.

That thought makes him smile and remember another time he had a heart to heart with his younger friend.

Eight years ago, Tidewater Drive, Norfolk, Virginia

"You're an idiot, McGarrett!"

"Remind me not to do you any favors again… argh… watch it… damn," Steve tried to turn on his back as he told his friend what was on his mind.

"Wow, that is bleeding a lot. Hold still… stop wriggling… Steve, stop that," Gibbs hissed near his ear.

"How bad is it? Damn that hurts," Steve panted out. He tried to see the damage but couldn't.

"Well, nothing vital got hit."

"Are you laughing? This is not funny… argh… stop it," Steve could barely keep from crying out by the sudden intense pain.

"Damn! That hurt? Steve? Steve! Don't pass out on me," all amusement from a minute ago was gone from Gibbs' voice. "Stay with me."

"Not… passing out… just resting my eyes." Steve's eyes were indeed closed and his forehead rested on the concrete as he tried to breathe through the pain the movement caused.

"Yeah, well, we can't have that right now. We need to get out of here before they blow the whole joint." Gibbs told his friend as he tried to stop the bleeding. "Steve you shouldn't have done that," the special agent whispered.

"Couldn't get a lock on the shooter behind the crate."

"We'll talk about that later. We need to move now. Can you get up?" Gibbs crouched down next to his injured friend. "Do you think you can walk?"

"Yeah," Steve was not really sure, but they didn't have a choice.

Gibbs looked around to make sure that none of the smugglers were close to them at the moment. The one who shot Steve was already dead on the ground; shot by Gibbs just moments after he hit the ground when McGarrett barreled into him. The idiot jumped in front of him at the very second the bad guy was going to shoot him execution style. Gibbs still had no idea where the heck Steve had suddenly come from.

Gibbs had been kneeling on the floor and the shooter was ready to take his final shot. But instead of getting hit in the head, Steve took a bullet to his six when he jumped in front of him at the very last second.

"Come on," Gibbs said as he grabbed Steve's right arm and helped him to his feet.

"Argh… I don't think that's just a flesh wound." Steve hung on to Gibbs as the pain in his butt traveled down his right leg.

"Maybe the bullet hit your hip bone or something," Gibbs said as he looked in worry at his friend. It was clear that Steve was in much more pain than a simple shot in the meaty part of that particular anatomy dictated.

"Terrific. Only I can have that much luck." Steve leaned even more on Gibbs as every movement of his right leg sent daggers of pain through his whole backside.

Gibbs only smiled and dragged his friend forward, hopefully getting out of the huge warehouse before they encountered any more hostiles.

This whole operation was a disaster. He now regretted asking his friend to help him out with the surveillance. Steve was willing to help even though he was on a week's vacation after his latest deployment. Gibbs suspected that he was quite happy to have something to do after his meet with Rollins fell apart when her leave was canceled. So they had sat the last three days in a room listening to a Mandarin/English gibberish with Steve translating everything that was said.

They were totally surprised when their room was suddenly stormed by three heavily armed guys. They had obviously been made, without even realizing it. They were both taken hostage and separated. Two guys took Steve and the other Gibbs. Ten minutes later he saw his friend again, in a flying leap right into the line of fire.

And now he was practically carrying his friend out of the house. At least he hoped they were on the right way out. The last conversation they listened to was about a big explosion that was going to happen. And Gibbs was pretty sure they were now right in the middle of the danger zone.

"How you're holding up, Steve?" Gibbs propped his friend against the wall as he tried to open yet another locked door. He watched his friend out of the corner of his eye and could see that he was not putting any weight on his right leg.

"Want me to open that door?" Steve avoided an answer by offering his help. No need to tell Gibbs that he couldn't put any weight on his leg without being in agony. There was obviously something seriously wrong. For sure this was not just a flesh wound.

"No, and don't deflect my question."

"It hurts," Steve grumbled back.

"It stopped bleeding," Gibbs observed the positive side after taking another close look.

"Urg," was Steve's not very coherent answer to that.

It took them ten more minutes to finally get out of the warehouse. By that time Steve couldn't keep in the groans of pain any longer. Every little movement and even the slightest bit of weight on his leg caused him to groan in agony.

An hour later they learned why that was. The bullet that entered the gluteus maximus, which is just a fancy name for the big butt muscle, had travelled down and was stopped by the upper part of the femur, thankfully not cracking or fracturing it. But the bullet was stuck and caused immense pain with every movement.

Another half hour later, Steve had surgery to dig out the bullet that was meant as a head shot to kill Gibbs. Steve had saved Gibbs' six by throwing his own in the line of fire. The operation went without problem and two days later McGarrett was released into the care of Dr. Mallard, or better, into the clutches of Mrs. Mallard, Ducky's… well, let's say… very unique mother. But that was another story entirely.

"Agent Gibbs, can I help you?" One of the nurses at the 'command center' in the middle of the ICU asks him and pulls him out of his memory.

"Yes, I need to see Commander McGarrett."

"I'm sorry, but I can't let you…"

"Listen! His doctor just told me he's dying. So what harm can my visit do?" Gibbs will see his friend. And it better be right now.

The petty officer in front of him looks him up and down and comes to a decision. "Okay. But you have to wait a few minutes, they are just doing an x-ray of his lungs. It won't take long."

"Thank you, Petty Officer Wilkes."

"You're welcome."

Five minutes later Gibbs watches two technicians wheel a portable x-ray machine out of Steve's cubicle and place it at the far wall behind the nurses' station, next to other transportable equipment used in the ICU.

"Agent Gibbs, you can see him now," Wilkes informs him.

Gibbs follows her, but his firm belief of a good outcome wavers a little when he sees his friend for the first time since he had been transported out of the hotel last night. The sight in front of him is not what he expected. It is shocking to see Steve attached to so many machines with tubes and wires everywhere.

"I'll be back in five minutes, Agent Gibbs."

"Yes, thank you," Gibbs is grateful that Wilkes leaves him alone. No need to share his emotions with everyone, and the sight of his dying friend evokes strong emotions in the stoic marine.

Gibbs carefully steps closer to the bed, sits down on the vacated chair and thinks about what he can do. If Steve had been awake he would give him a piece of his mind, but now, sitting next to the unconscious man, the fight kind of leaves Gibbs.

"Steve, I'm sorry. I'm sorry that I didn't find out about the connections between Levin and one of JoJo's patients. You asked me for a thorough background check and trusted me. I'm sorry, Steve. This is my fault." Gibbs looks up to see that no one is listening in before he continues, "you know that I just broke one of my rules, don't you? I'm sure you would have something to say about that." Gibbs grins despite the grim situation.

"Listen, Steve. I know you feel like shit right now. But you have to fight. I know you can ignore the pain, you have to remember your training. You have to get through this. Your friends need you. You have any idea how Cath is feeling right now?" Gibbs was hoping against hope that his words would cause some kind of reaction, but there is just nothing.

"Listen, you stubborn bastard. I will not accept you giving up. You better start fighting right now, or I swear I will tell Danny where that bullet hit you. I'm not kidding, I'm going to break my promise and tell him. So you better wake up and keep me from doing it. I'll give you today to rest, but if we don't see any improvement tomorrow morning, the story will be made public." Gibbs stands up to bend over close to Steve's ear, "mark my words my friend. Tomorrow morning, or else."

He takes one final look at his friend and makes his way out of the ICU ward to meet with Cath and JoJo again, trying hard to think of how best to tell them what Winchester told him just a short while ago.

But before he can make it out of the ward, he runs into Drs. Mallard and Bergman, both on their way hopefully to be allowed to see Steve. They will be the first to learn about the grim prognosis for the task force leader.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

Chapter Text

PD – Chapter 33 – Ducky

"Max, really I appreciate your concern, but I am fine." Dr. Donald Mallard was getting a bit annoyed with Dr. Max Bergman. His hovering was getting on his nerves, even though Max only has his best interest in mind.

"I promised Agent Gibbs to look after you. And I have every intention of keeping that promise."

"I know, I know. Thank you, Max."

The elevator opens and they make their way out of the cabin only to run into Gibbs.

"Jethro!" Ducky greets his friend and comes straight to the point, "how is Steve?"

"Let's talk over there," Gibbs motions to a quiet corner a bit out of the way across the waiting room of the ICU.

The two MEs follow the agent, wondering what this is all about. Five minutes later they are shocked into silence after Gibbs recounts what he has learned from Major Winchester.

"Have you talked to Catherine yet?" Dr. Mallard wants to know.

"No, I was just on my way. I saw Steve… he… he is not reacting to anything."

"That is not surprising, Agent Gibbs. I'd say his injuries dictated a heavy sedation. He won't hear or feel anything as long as they keep him under." Max can't quite understand what the NCIS agent expected.

"That is not what I mean. He is not responding to their treatment. His fever is rising; his condition is getting worse by the minute."

"Oh. I see."

"Max, will you please go with Jethro and stay with Dr. Jordan and Catherine?" Dr. Mallard looks at the young ME to follow his plea.

"Of course. Where are you going?"

"I'm going to go see Steve. Take a look at his charts. I'll join you in a few minutes," Ducky tells them and doesn't even wait for their reaction to his plan.

He makes his way straight to the nurses' station and it only takes him a minute to be allowed to see Steve. The nurses had obviously given up trying to keep his friends away.

Dr. Mallard has a very clear picture of the type of damage done by the bullet to the abdomen. It would have ripped with great force through Steve's body, and Ducky had seen enough wounds of that nature to know how long and difficult Steve's recovery would be.

Ducky steps closer to the bed, careful not to disturb any of the machines helping to keep Steve alive. He looks in worry at the dialysis machine. It's normally the beginning of the end when the kidneys fail to do their job. But Dr. Mallard knows that Steve has a pre-existing injury of his right kidney from a prior accident. So it might be possible that his kidneys are not failing because his body is shutting down but because one kidney wasn't working at hundred percent to begin with.

He grabs the chart hanging at the end of the bed and takes a closer look at the diagnosis, which is not good at all. Before he sat down on the chair, used just a short while ago by Gibbs, he takes in all the readings on the monitors. He is glad to see that they don't cause reason for alarm at the moment.

"My boy, you are really hurt badly this time," Ducky tells the unconscious Steve as he takes his slack hand. He just needs to feel for a pulse to make sure that he really is alive. "I wish, at some point, we would meet someplace else, and not in a hospital."

Dr. Mallard stands up again, takes his coat off and hangs it over the backrest of the chair, then he settles down next to the bed again. "You remember the last time I came to see you in a hospital bed? I can tell you, that was quite a sight…"

Eight years ago, Naval Medical Center, Portsmouth, Virginia

Steve couldn't remember the last time he felt so fuzzy. He was lying on a surfboard and just enjoyed the gentle up and down on the waves… wait. What? Steve struggled to open his eyes, but that didn't really help him figure out where he was. He only saw white. Well, that's not true, he also saw a blurry image. But it took too much energy to try and get the image into focus, so he closed his eyes again and gave in to the gentle movement.

Next time he woke up, the gentle movement wasn't as pleasant anymore, but instead made him feel sick to his stomach. He was still in the same position, but realized now that the *surfboard* was a long pillow along his right side and he was propped up on it. Steve blinked a few times and came face to face with Dr. Mallard.

"Hello, my boy. Are you with us now?" Ducky softly asked him.

"Urg… wha' hap'n?" Hell, was that his voice?

"You got shot."

"Wa'?... doesn' hurt…" Steve's voice was seriously muffled by the pillow his face was still pressed into.

"Yes, I'm sure it doesn't, you're so doped up right now… hey, don't go back to sleep. Steve, come on open your eyes."

"Tired." Steve only wanted to go back to the dream of surfing the waves of Hawaii. Even though he had no idea why he was thinking of that, he hasn't surfed in years.

"I know you are. You seem to be having a hard time shaking the anesthesia."

"Ana… what?"

"You had surgery. Remember, you were shot? They had to dig the bullet out," Ducky patiently explained again. He knew that waking up after an operation can be confusing.

"Hmm." Steve vaguely remembered being with Gibbs on surveillance detail. But he couldn't remember getting shot. "Where's Gibbs?"

"He is back at the crime scene. I'm sure he'll check back in a little while." Ducky looked at his young friend, seeing that he was trying to breathe deeply in and out. "Steve, do you feel sick?"

"A little," Steve answered as he tries to get through the nausea.

"That's probably from the narcosis, I'll get your doctor, she can give you something for it."

"Hmm." Steve's too tired to say any more than that. Not even the nausea could keep him from falling back to sleep.

Next time he woke up he was in a different room, but still in the same position. And Ducky was still sitting next to his bed.

"Hi," that sounded a bit more like his voice.

"Well, hello. You had us a bit worried, taking your own sweet time waking up," Dr. Mallard told him, but he was smiling. Obviously glad to see Steve awake again.

"Sorry. So, what's the verdict?" Steve asked as he tried to turn on his back, but was halted by sharp pain lancing in his backside. "Argh… what the…"

"Don't move. You remember what happened?" Ducky was standing up and had laid his hand on Steve's right shoulder to keep him from moving again.

"Uh… yeah… I think. Our surveillance got busted and I took a bullet. Damn. Did it do a lot of damage?" Steve looked worriedly down his right side.

"Well, that depends. It could be a lot worse. There is some muscle damage and the bullet was stuck in your femur. They had to cut into your thigh to get it out. You have now two neat holes in your body. And of course a hole in your femur that will need some time to close. You'll be on crutches for a couple of weeks to keep the weight off the damaged bone. But other than that, nothing vital was hit. You were very lucky."

"Don't feel too lucky right now," Steve grumbled into his pillow. He could feel the throbbing in his six and leg getting worse.

"Yeah, I can understand that. You have to lie on your stomach or sideways like this for at least a few days." The ME looked at McGarrett and could see that the drugs were not doing their job efficiently enough. "Steve, are you in pain?"

"It's not too bad." The grimace accompanying his answer contradicted his statement.

"No need for you to suffer, my boy."

A few minutes later the called nurse injected another dose of pain meds into Steve's IV, bringing almost instant relief.

"Thank you." Steve closed his eyes for a moment when the room started spinning. He knew it was a side effect from the pain medication. That was one of the reasons he didn't like narcotic drugs. They always made him dizzy and slightly nauseous.

"Steve, you feel okay?"

"Just a bit dizzy," Steve answered sleepily. That was the second reason why he had such an aversion for those kinds of drugs; they made him fuzzy and knocked him on his ass. That thought actually made him smile.

"Go to sleep, Steve. When you wake up again you will have a surprise visitor, so rest up now." Ducky smiled down at his friend, silently laughing at his struggle to come awake again to ask about the visitor, but it was a lost cause. The ME saw with satisfaction that Steve had gone back to sleep.

A loud beeping pulled Dr. Mallard out of his memory from eight years ago, and it became painfully clear that his friend was not just sleeping peacefully like all those years back. He was in the middle of a severe seizure.

Doctors and nurses are buzzing all over him, injecting medication into his central IV and checking monitors and machines. Two minutes later Steve is again lying completely still, with the monitors again beeping in a non-alarming way. The medical personnel leaves the ME be and he is grateful to be allowed to stay a bit longer with his friend.

After the last nurse leaves the cubicle, making sure that she can't do anything more for her patient, Ducky takes back his place next to Steve's bed.

"My boy, listen to me. You can't do this. Your friends need you. Your girlfriend, may I call Catherine your girlfriend? She is devastated. You just have to pull through. And you can't leave Gibbs with that kind of guilt. He feels responsible for this. You have to wake up and kick his butt." Ducky again got up from the chair and bent down to Steve, just like Gibbs did earlier, "you have to pull through for your friend Danny. He is also blaming himself. You have to tell him that it was not his fault. Otherwise, I don't think he will ever forgive himself."

Dr. Mallard straightens up again, takes his coat and after one final look at the injured man, leaves the ICU to seek out his friends, to give them as much comfort and hope as he can.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

Chapter Text

PD – Chapter 34 – Catherine

Lieutenant Catherine Rollins has never before felt so helpless. She has been in some hairy situations while she has worked with Steve or for the Navy in general. Granted she hasn't seen combat, but she has been in the middle of a few SEAL operations and Naval Intelligence OPs. Some of them were dangerous and brought her close to the end of her wits. But nothing in her training, her career or her life experience could have prepared her for this. For hearing that her best friend, the man she loved with all her heart was dying.

Cath looks unbelievingly at Agent Gibbs who just told them what he learned from Major Winchester. "I won't believe it. Steve is not going to die! He will fight… he can't die," Cath looks around and sees on JoJo's face the same devastation she feels. "He can't," she whispers.

"I hope you are right, Catherine. I really do," Gibbs has never been good with words, but he knows what it means to lose the person you love. "I know it is hard, but the major said we might like to think about getting his family here…"

"NO! We are NOT giving up on him. No one is going to say goodbye to him. You understand that? No one!"

Gibbs almost takes a step back at her outburst, but he can understand her feelings and steps closer. "Catherine," he softly calls out to her. "We are not giving up on him. None of us will. Ever. But maybe we should get his family, to support him. Not to say goodbye. I'm sure Chin and Kono would like to be here. And his sister." Gibbs takes one look at the trembling woman in front of him and takes the last step and is a bit surprised when Catherine actually seeks his comfort.

"I can't lose him," she whispers into his shoulder.

"You won't. I promise." Gibbs gently pushes her at arms-length, so he can look her in the eyes, "I promise."

Seeing her nod he continued, "you go see Steve now. Tell him to fight for you. Tell him you love him and he better think twice about leaving you."

"Okay." Cath obviously needed this little boost. She seems a lot calmer and assured of a positive outcome of this tragedy. "I'll go see Steve now."

Cath looks at JoJo and Max, who are nodding their encouragement and she smiles at Gibbs for helping her over her mini crisis just now.

On her way out she runs into Ducky who was just coming out of the ICU, "Ducky, did you see Steve?"

"Yes, indeed I did. I talked to the nurses, and they assured me we can see him whenever we like. You won't have a problem," Ducky tells her rather sadly. He knows it means that they were informed to let the family in whenever they wanted, because the patient was dying.

"Thank you. Ducky, can I ask you another favor?"

"Certainly, my dear."

"Can you please check on Danny? He is on the neuro wing, can you tell him I will come see him after I see Steve?" Catherine is well aware that they need to discuss calling Chin and Kono to tell them whether or not to come.

"Of course I will," Dr. Mallard assures her and she watches him leave the ICU.

Two minutes later she is again standing next to Steve's bed, taking in all the machines that are keeping him alive. She was very disturbed to learn that he had stopped breathing on his own, that he now needs full life support. And the fact that his kidneys had shut down was even worse. But she knows that he has been on dialysis before and his kidneys were fine afterwards.

She sits down on the chair still standing close to his head and grabs his slack hand, "Steve, we really need to stop meeting like this. You remember the time we were together on the East Coast?"

Eight years ago, Naval Medical Center, Steve McGarrett's hospital room

When Steve opened his eyes again he still felt a little sick and even dizzier than before. A true sign that they had doped him up again. Steve hated the fuzzy feeling and not being in control. He lazily blinked a few times to get the scene in front of him into focus, but he had a really hard time with it. He wondered why he was so affected by whatever drugs they were giving him.

He was still hugging the large pillow and was mostly lying on his left side while his right side was supported by the soft but still firm pillow. It went all the way down from his head beyond his knees. He had to admit the position was rather comfortable but he was getting a bit tired of lying with his six hanging in the air every time he woke up. But as he figured out earlier, moving hurt pretty badly and he was sure lying on his back was completely out of the question.

He could already hear the jokes about him getting shot in the butt. He would be the butt of the jokes for years to come. Nope, he had to keep this classified. His injury would not leave this room, he would make sure of that. Steve became aware of a low voiced conversation going on behind him. He was facing the door so he could at least see who was coming in, but he couldn't see who was already in the room.

Steve raised his head to take a look behind him, but abandoned that plan rather quickly when another wave of dizziness hit him. He closed his eyes and buried his head back into the pillow. Holding on tightly to the supporting pillow he hoped for the room to stop spinning.

"Steve, are you awake?"

Hearing that voice caused his eyes to pop open. "Catherine?" He couldn't believe it, bending down close to him was his best friend, Catherine Rollins.

"Hey, sailor." She accompanied her greeting with a gentle kiss to his forehead. "I leave you alone for three days, Steve, and now look at you."

"Hmm. I thought you were in Montreal at a conference?"

"I was, but it was cut short. But I'm flying to New York in a few hours for five days," Catherine tells him as she sits down next to him and takes his hand in hers, careful not to disturb the IV.

"You're leaving again so soon?" Steve couldn't quite keep the disappointment out of his voice.

"Yeah, but I'll be back in a few days, and then I'll get my leave. I'm sure you will be on sick leave for a few weeks, so we can have some time together. How does that sound?"

"Good," Steve smiled at the thought of spending any length of time with his friend.

"Now tell me how do you feel?"

"Not too bad. It hurts to move, but if I lie still it's okay." As if to prove his words his movement to turn a bit more on his side sent fierce pain all the way from his backside down his leg. That of course didn't go unnoticed.

"Do you need me to call the nurse?"

"Hmm, no. I'll be fine," Steve mumbled into the pillow, hoping for the pain to lessen. He really didn't want any more drugs, he was barely able to keep his eyes open as it was.

"You sure? Because really, you don't look fine at all." Catherine felt his forehead to see if her suspicion of a fever was correct, but he felt cool to the touch. So there must have been another reason for his flushed face. She had to smile when it dawned on her that her friend was mortally embarrassed about his injury. She bent down to him and whispered in his ear, "I promise I won't make one single joke and I won't tell a soul about where the bullet hit."

Catherine had to laugh out loud when Steve just groaned and buried his head even deeper into the pillow.

"Listen, Steve, I have to go, but I promise I'll be back in a few days. You get better, you hear?"

Steve nodded his head and looked up at her, "be careful."

"Steve! I'll be sitting in a hearing and taking notes, how dangerous can that be?"

Steve scrunched up his face, "yeah, that was what I was doing with Gibbs. He said, and I quote: 'You only have to translate, no action guaranteed.' Yeah, right, *no action* my ass. Argh."

Steve got a bit agitated and moved while making his point which again resulted in a sharp pain in the… well a rather cute part of his anatomy. At least it was, according to Catherine, who was trying to calm him down. "Come on, Steve, it could be a lot worse. Your femur could be shattered, but it only has a small hole in it. Ducky said you need to use crutches for maybe two weeks. That's not too bad." Cath told him as she helped him get a bit more comfortable and rearranged the pillow. She took a sneak peek at the bulky bandages that weren't covered by the gown. A few spots of blood were visible, but all in all it didn't look too bad.

"Please promise me to be careful, Cath."

"I will be," she sighed. As if her job posed any dangers. "Until I'm back, Ducky will take care of you when you're released. You behave yourself." Cath bent down again and the kiss she gave Steve was sweet, gentle, but also a promise for a lot more than just kissing when she returned. She looked back at Steve from the door and smiled at Dr. Mallard who was still sitting in the corner. Knowing that he would be there for Steve, she closed the door and hoped to see her friend up and about in a few days.

Unfortunately that was not the case.

Dr. Mallard's House, Norfolk, Virginia

Catherine laughed looking down at Steve. He was laying on his stomach on the bed and was fast asleep, clad in sweatpants and T-shirt. Next to him *on* the bed were two small dogs who growled at her when she stepped closer.

She took a look around the bedroom, it was clear that the owner was an antique lover. It was a lovely décor, not her style at all, but it did have style. Of sorts. Her friend on the bed looked absolutely beat, he didn't even stir when she sat down on the bed next to him. She completely ignored the still growling dogs.

She could see that the right half of his backside still had a bulky bandage all the way down his leg. She had been sure that he would be down to some band aids by now.

Catherine bent down and laid her hand gently on his back. It took a moment for him to come awake. He was lazily blinking up at her, "Catherine?"

"Hey, sleepy head." She bent down even more and softly kissed him when he turned a bit on his side.

"Please tell me you're here to rescue me?" Steve said while he threw his arm around her midsection like he didn't want her to leave ever again.

"Rescue you?" She asked with laughter in her voice.

"Ducky's mother is nuts," he whispered as he fearfully looked around. "She won't let me out of bed. I could barely keep her from changing the bandages. Please get me out of here."

"Why do you still have such thick bandages?" She gently touched the injured area.

"Um, the wound got slightly infected. They cut it open again yesterday, and cleaned it," Steve looked up at her with pitiful eyes. "That really hurt. They gave me some shots afterwards, and that hurt even more. But they let me out of the hospital, because Ducky is a doctor. Can we please go now?"

"I don't know, sounds like you need to be under supervision," Catherine was a bit worried about hearing that the wound had become infected.

"No, no, you can supervise all you want. Please, Catherine. You have a hotel room, right? Please get me out of here. You have no idea what Ducky's mother does with me," Steve could whine with the best of them.

Catherine couldn't keep her laughter in any longer. Here was her big bad Navy SEAL begging her to save him from the clutches of an older lady. "Can you even get up?"

"I can get up just fine. There should be crutches somewhere around here," Steve told her as he looked around for his discarded crutches.

"How will you sit down in the car?" Catherine was still not sure about taking her friend to her hotel.

"Um… didn't think about that, but I'll manage. It's just for a short while." Steve knew sitting would hurt. A lot. "I'll be fine."

"I'll ask Ducky, if he says it's okay… then, and only then will I take you *out of here*."

"Thank you. Cath?"

"Yeah?"

"Can you please help me to the bathroom?" Steve motioned to his crutches he finally discovered standing next to the door, out of his reach.

With Cath's help Steve managed to get off the bed, not without some pain when his bottom hit the mattress, but he kept the groaning to a minimum to not alarm Catherine. While he hobbled to do his business, which he ensured Cath he *can* do alone, she went to seek out Ducky. Hopefully to spring her friend from the 'deranged' mother.

Fifteen minutes later Steve sat very happily in Catherine's rental car, despite the pain sitting on the wounds caused. But everything was better than spending another day with Ducky's nice, but seriously nuts mother.

"How are you holding up?" Cath looked in worry at her passenger after the first few miles.

"Okay," Steve told her through gritted teeth. Sitting for longer than a minute hurt a lot more than he thought. He tried to keep the weight off the leg and the wound in his six as best he could, but it still hurt like a bitch.

"Ten more minutes, tops. I have a room at the Holiday Inn Airport. You okay until then?" Cath could see that Steve was getting rather pale and his breathing had got a bit too fast for her liking. "You want us to stop?"

"NO. I'm okay… really. I just didn't expect it to hurt this much," Steve even managed a small smile despite the pain. It was *just* pain. He would survive.

"Okay, but tell me if you need us to take a break," Cath told her stubborn friend.

Fifteen minutes later she helped Steve lay down on the bed in her hotel room. She looked down at him as he buried his head into the bed covers. "Come on, I need to check the bandages. Sitting on the wound can't have been good for it." She gently pulled his sweatpants down and was not surprised to see a lot more blood than before their trip. "Ah, Steve, you were bleeding. Hold still, I'm gonna take a look."

"Urg." Steve didn't even lift his head, he was too busy not getting sick. The antibiotics made him nauseous and the trip in the car had only made it worse.

"Okay, here it goes."

"Ouch… be gentle, will ya…" his voice was a bit muffled but it was clear that he was not happy with Cath ripping off the bandage.

"Sorry. Don't be such a baby… oh… I take that back… that looks like it hurts," Cath saw the wound for the first time and could imagine that the angry red wound must really hurt. The wound on his cheek was small but really deep and it looked like they cut it open to clean it. The wound on the backside of his upper thigh was a lot bigger and still oozing a little blood. Both were irritated, red and obviously inflamed.

"It looked a lot worse yesterday. In my bag is a spray can with the foam they want me to spray on the wounds twice a day." Steve told her from his prone position on his stomach. "There are also bandages and stuff in there."

"Do I get a special treatment for being your personal nurse?" Cath asked him as she pulled the needed utensils out of the medical bag Ducky had packed for him.

"Anything you want."

"Don't make any promises you can't keep, sailor." Cath read the instructions on the spray can and then sprayed a good amount on the two wounds. The white foam dissolved almost immediately. "What is this stuff?"

"Antibiotic… I forget the name," came the pained answer.

"Does it hurt?"

"It burns a little, but it will numb it in a minute," Steve thought it felt actually really good when the numbing effect started the last time Ducky used the spray.

"Do I have to wait, or can I put the bandage on right now?"

"As soon as all white is gone you can put the bandage on."

"Okay, then we'll wait a moment," Cath told her friend as she went to lie down next to him on the bed. She looked at him and had to smile at his drooping eyelids, he was already struggling to stay awake. "It's okay, Steve, go to sleep," she whispered and gave him a gentle kiss. Not even a minute later he was fast asleep. It was very tempting to take a picture, him out cold with is bare six hanging in the open. But she had promised him *no jokes*, so she restrained herself. Well, almost.

Her own chuckling brought her out of her reverie. The reality she came back to caused her to become somber in seconds.

"Steve, you have to listen to me. We are not giving up on you. And you can't give up either. You have to fight this. I know you can do it. Please, Steve, don't leave me. You promised to take me to the National Gallery, and I'm holding you to that. It's a good thing you won't need crutches this time when they let you out of here." Catherine chokes up on the thought of him walking out of the hospital. She looks at his still form, and realizes how far away from that he is. "Steve, I love you. And I don't think I could live without you saying that to me again. Please, hear me. Please fight for us."

"Lieutenant, I'm sorry, but you have to leave now. We have to change his bandages," a nurse stands next to Cath and smiles at her. "He is holding his own at the moment. We promise we'll do everything we can for him."

"Thank you."

"I'll be back in a little while," she whispers in his ear after she gently kissed her friend goodbye for now. She gathers her stuff and makes her way out of the ICU, to go back to her friends and give JoJo the opportunity to be with Steve.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

Chapter Text

PD – Chapter 35 – JoJo

Dr. Jo-Beth Jordan watches her friend Catherine come into the ICU waiting room. She can see that Cath obviously came to a conclusion while she was sitting with Steve.

"Catherine, is everything okay?"

"Yeah, the nurse said Steve was holding his own. They are changing his bandages right now, but in a few minutes you can go see him," Cath looks at JoJo and seeing her nod she continues. "I'm going to see Danny. I don't know what to tell Chin and Kono. What should we do?"

"Talk to Danny about it. But I think Chin and Kono should make their own decisions. I could try and get them on the next military flight, but they might not be able to leave. It's not like they can simply close shop and come here. They are the Governor's task force, and no matter that Steve is seriously injured and thousands of miles away, it's not something I see happening." Jojo looks up to see if everyone understands what she is saying. "They have an obligation, a duty to fulfill, they can't just leave whenever they want."

"I know, as much as they would like to, it's not that simple." Catherine knows all about being bound to a commitment they made when they joined the Navy or in Chin and Kono's case, law enforcement. Even though family should always come first, that is not how real life works. "I'll talk to them and with Danny. Maybe they can talk to Denning and he will okay it."

"You do that and I'll go see Steve," JoJo tells Cath as she hugs her before she leaves the waiting room to go see her longtime friend.

Who are you kidding? Steve is more like a son than a friend. JoJo shakes her head at that thought, but smiles about the truth of it. She looks around the busy ICU and thinks back to her very short stint in the ICU during her rotation as a resident as she makes her way to Steve's bed. Even though she specialized later in psychiatry she had to go through the normal studies of medicine. It was a long and hard way for her, she was always much better at talking with people than 'patching them up'.

Sitting next to his bed she remembers the one time she had to 'patch up' Steve. An experience he finds embarrassing even to this day.

Eight years ago, Holiday Inn Airport, Norfolk, Virginia

Jo-Beth Jordan stood in front of room 356 waiting for the door to open. She had called from the lobby and Catherine had asked her to come up to their room before they go out to dinner.

"Will you just stop whining, Steve!" The door opened and JoJo was a bit surprised to see Catherine almost yelling back into the room as she opened the door. "I'm sorry, JoJo. Men!"

Jojo laughed as Cath rolled her eyes at the man back in the room. "Hi Catherine, good to see you." She was let into the room and looked around for Steve, but he was nowhere to be seen.

"What the…" Catherine threw her hands up in a resigned gesture and shook her head. "I'm sorry, JoJo but he is a bit stubborn right now."

"What are the crutches for?" Dr. Jordan motioned to the two crutches leaning against one of the armchairs in the room.

"Steve is supposed to use them for another week, but of course he thinks that doesn't include indoors," she smiled a bit annoyed at JoJo. The last week had not been easy, but she must admit that it was probably a lot harder on Steve than on her. She knows that his injury hurt a lot more than he wanted to admit, and that lying on his stomach all the time was driving him nuts.

She filled Steve's therapist in on how Steve got injured while helping a friend. With one ear she was listening first to the flushing of the toilet and then to the water running. She was just finished with her tale when they heard a loud thudding noise from the bathroom.

"Steve?" Catherine rushed over and knocked on the closed door. "Steve, are you alright?"

Not hearing any sound other than the water still running, she opened the thankfully not locked door. They both gasped at what they saw. Steve was lying on the floor in a heap, obviously out cold.

It took them both only a moment to kneel next to Steve. JoJo checked for a pulse and was relieved to find a strong regular beat. "Steve, can you hear me?" JoJo spoke to her friend on the floor and shook him with a strong grip on his shoulder. That didn't cause a reaction at all.

"Should I call 911?"

"No, Cath, wait a minute. I think he simply fainted," JoJo told Cath as she gently checked Steve's head for any injuries. Finding none she again spoke to him and shook his shoulder, "Steve! Come on, wake up!"

This time there was a reaction. Steve groaned and blinked up at her, obviously trying to understand what he was doing sprawled on the bathroom floor. "Are you with me now? Steve?"

"Urg… yeah." He tried to get up but was stopped by JoJo.

"Stay down, Steve." She kept her hand on his back to keep him from getting up too fast. "Turn on your back first. Cath, can you give me a towel please?"

Jojo put the folded towel under Steve's head after she helped him turn onto his back. Steve looked up sheepishly from his prone position.

"I got really dizzy all of a sudden, I didn't even realize it until I blacked out." Steve closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths.

"Do you still feel dizzy?"

"A little, room's still spinning. I feel kind of shaky." Steve looked up at JoJo and continued with his confession, "I haven't been feeling well since they gave me that shot at the hospital this morning. My head hurts and I got sick after lunch," Steve admitted without looking at Catherine whose death glare he could practically feel. He didn't need to also see it.

"What shot was that?" Dr. Jordan wanted to know.

"They said it was a one time antibiotic after they took the stitches out. I felt kind of weird a few minutes later."

"And you didn't feel the need to tell anyone?" Cath finally spoke up. "Of course you didn't."

"I thought it would go away," Steve had to admit that was a bit stupid.

"I think you're having a reaction to whatever antibiotic they gave you," JoJo told them the pretty clear diagnosis for the sudden fainting spell. "We should take you to the hospital."

"NO. I'm not going back to the hospital. No way," Steve told them with conviction in his voice. He slowly sat up, and winced when his six made contact with the tiles. "I'll be fine."

"Steve, you are not fine. You just passed out. I bet your blood pressure is really low right now. This reaction could get worse, you might even stop breathing, if you go into anaphylactic shock." JoJo looked seriously at Steve.

"I have an epi-pen," was the pathetic answer to that.

"Are you serious? You want me to use your epi-pen on you when your heart stops?" Catherine's voice held barely contained anger, she really couldn't believe her friend sometimes.

"Why do you have an epi-pen?" JoJo was more interested in that.

"The Navy makes me carry it, I'm allergic to oxycodone. Never needed it though."

"I see. Well, I still think you should get checked out, but I'll make you a deal. We get you to lay down in bed, and I go get my medical bag out of the car. I'm going to check your blood pressure and your wound," JoJo grinned at his shocked expression about the prospect of her checking his butt. "You're bleeding. I think you hit your six while going down. If I'm satisfied with my findings and you get better in the next two hours… no hospital."

"Okay," Steve was not happy about it but grumbled his acceptance.

"Good. Can you get up if we help you?" JoJo asked but was already grabbing his right arm and Cath took his left to pull him up.

Together they managed to haul him to his feet. Steve swayed dangerously but they took his arms over their shoulders and kept him from falling back to the floor.

"Don't put your full weight on your leg. You know you should use the crutches," Catherine reminded him as they made their way over to the bed. Where they deposited him again on his stomach.

"Okay, I'll go and get my bag. Cath, can you help him get out of his pants?" JoJo grinned even more when Steve, after hearing that, buried his face deep into the covers.

"My pleasure."

"No funny business while I'm gone," JoJo called from the door and winked at Catherine before she went to retrieve her medical supplies. Like most doctors she had an emergency bag in her car.

A loud beeping sound pulls her out of her memory. She looks up in worry, but can't see any alarming readings on the monitors. "What's wrong?" she asks the nurse coming into the cubicle.

"Nothing's wrong, it's good news. We set the alarm to beep when his heart rate goes under 65, which it just did." The nurse motions to the monitor.

"That's good, right?"

"Yes, Captain, that's very good. We have seen this effect every time one of you have been with him. His heart rate went back up every time he didn't have physical contact."

JoJo hadn't been aware that she had been holding Steve's hand ever since she came into the room. The thought that her presence has a healing influence on Steve makes her smile. She watches the nurse check all the monitors before she leaves them alone again.

"Steve, I know you can hear me, and I'm sure you know I'm here. Listen to me, you always had incredible healing powers and an unbelievably strong will. I want you to use that now. I want you to fight." JoJo squeezes his hand a bit tighter, "Steve, we miss you so much. Please come back to us. Don't leave us."

JoJo looks at Steve; seeing him so completely still is frightening. She hopes for any sign of life in him, but of course there is no reaction to her little speech. Or to still squeezing his hand. She bends down to him and gently kisses his forehead.

"Steve, please get better," she whispers into his ear before she leaves the ICU.

On her way out she is rather surprised to see Max entering the Intensive Care Unit.

"I hope it is okay to go see Steve?" Max looks a bit unsure.

"Of course, Max. Talk to him, I'm sure he can hear us." JoJo doesn't care what the doctors tell her, she knows that he can hear them. What other reason would there be for his heart rate to drop every time one of his friends is talking to him, or is just near him?

"Yes, I will."

Dr. Jordan watches Max disappear into the ward and makes her way over to the waiting room, to see what Cath and Danny have decided.

 

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Chapter Text

PD – Chapter 36 – Max and Danny

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, ICU

Dr. Max Bergman is not sure what he is even doing here standing next to Steve McGarrett's bed. He has never been good with patients or human interaction in general. That's why it was very clear early in his studies that he would practice medicine only on dead people. They at least wouldn't expect a conversation. Commander McGarrett isn't talking to you either. Huh.

Max looks around the room and feels a little like he is in an aquarium. Three glass walls of which one has an opening without a door. There was no privacy at all. At least not at the moment as all the vertical blinds are open. Dr. Bergman looks down at the patient in the ICU bed and has to say that the man doesn't have a lot in common with the commander he knows as the leader of the Governor's Task Force. This man in the bed looks so fragile and small with all the machines attached to him.

The only thing that does look familiar is the frown on his face. Wait… what? Why isn't he relaxed, why is he frowning? "Commander McGarrett? Steve, can you hear me?" Max steps closer and tentatively touches Steve's arm. "Steve?"

Max almost jumps back when the injured man turns his head toward him. But he doesn't open his eyes, or do anything else. He just turned his head and lay still again. Maybe Dr. Jordan is right and he really can hear us, Max muses.

"Steve, hi, it's Max. Max Bergman?" Max feels a bit stupid introducing himself, but it's the first thing that came to mind.

"I'm not good at this stuff... guess you figured that out. Most people think I'm weird and act cautiously around me. But you and Danny never did that. Oh, of course I saw the mildly amused smiles you exchanged at the beginning, but you accepted me right from the start." Max settles down on the chair and looks around before he hesitantly grabs Steve's hand and continues. "You were the first to tell me to call you by your first name. You offered your friendship. And I thank you for that."

Max looks down at his friend and doesn't really know how to say what he wants to tell him. "You allowed me to come to Washington… you didn't have to do that, but you did it just as a personal favor. Thank you for that, Steve. You are a very good friend. I would not like to lose you." Max pauses a moment and looks at the monitors before he sighs and continues, "Your injuries unfortunately indicate that it will probably happen." Max shakes his head at his insensitivity, "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that. I hope you will prove all the doctors wrong. I think I should go. I'm sure Danny will come see you soon."

Max stands up from the chair, takes another look at the readings on the monitors and leaves without another word.

On his way out he again thinks he really sucks at visiting sick friends. Hospitals always make him ill at ease. Before he can leave the area, the elevator doors open and he is very happy to see Danny being pushed forward in a wheelchair.

"Detective, I just told Steve that you would come see him soon."

"Steve is awake?"

"What? No. No, I'm sorry, no he is not. I just told him, you know. Dr. Jordan thinks that he can hear us, I mean…" Max runs out of words, but Danny obviously understands him.

"I know, Max. It's okay. Max?"

"Yes, Danny?"

"Thank you. Thank you for saving his life back at the hotel. I heard what you and Dr. Mallard did. Thank you." Danny stretches his hand out and Max is very happy to take it.

"No thanks necessary. I'm glad I could help."

Danny would swear that their ME is blushing. "Has there been any change?"

"Did Catherine talk to you?"

"Yes," is Danny's grim answer.

"No change since then. He is holding his own at the moment. He is fighting, Danny."

"He better be." Danny nods at Max and his nurse wheels him the rest of the way to Steve's bed.

"Danny, I'll be back in a few minutes to take you to your next scan," the nurse who brought him to the ICU informs him.

"Thank you, Sergeant." Danny looks at the nurse as she leaves and then turns to Steve, "you know I could really use your expertise here. All these uniforms are creeping me out. I never know if I'm talking to an officer or if they are Navy or Army, or whatever. Why the heck can't you all dress the same?"

Danny of course knows that he wouldn't get an answer from his friend, but he still has to try. "And don't even get me started on all the people running around in scrubs with stripes on them, or some without. They are in blue, or green, and I even saw some in red. And the uniforms are also all in different colors, mostly tan or blue. And why the heck, Steven, do they have camouflage on them? I mean, come on, this is a hospital. Do they think they need to play hide and seek? I'm telling you, this is all nuts." While Danny is rattling off the reasons of insanity regarding the dress code, he is watching in wonder how Steve's features are relaxing and how his heart rate is slowing down.

"Hey, Steve. You can hear me, right buddy? You know, that is really not nice, worrying us like that and lying here and listening to your friends pouring their hearts out. But you seem to like that. The pouring out of our hearts, I mean." Danny smiles at his friend, who is by now completely relaxed, no frown in sight.

"Steve, you really scared us. I know you've seen and been through some shit in your life, but I also know that you can beat this. Like you have every other time. So you better not give up, you hear?" Danny looks at Steve and thinks it's time to get the big guns out. "What do you want me to tell Grace if her favorite uncle doesn't come home? How could I ever explain to her that I let Levin shoot you? Steve, I am so sorry."

Danny looks around to see if they are still alone before he continues. "You know what? You better wake up and tell me "I told you so". You were right. See, I can admit that, you were right about Levin. You really need to wake up so you can hear me say it."

"Detective, I'm sorry, but we have to go now." Danny's nurse returns and interrupts his monologue.

"Just one more minute. Steve, I've got to go, but I promise I'll be back as soon as I can. You just rest now." Danny stands up from his wheelchair and bends down to Steve to whisper something in his ear.

"Okay, we can go now," he answers while turning to his nurse and sits back down.

Before he leaves the cubicle he looks back at the bed and could swear that Steve is smiling. As far as one can smile with a tube down one's throat. When Danny finally leaves he does it with hope in his heart; he is sure that his friend will make it.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Kiwi Street, Ewa Beach – Home of LT Donaldson – Monday 1900 hour – local time Hawaii

It took Chin Ho Kelly a few hours to get the search warrant for LT Donaldson's home. That the crime scene was not in Hawaii but almost 5000 miles away didn't make that task any easier. But finally they had all the papers granting them access to the suspect's house. For now they only knew that he was guilty of kidnapping and torturing their boss and Dr. Jordan. His involvement with the serial killings is still an assumption after Danny told them about his talk with Levin.

But they still need to prove it before they can say for sure he was the killer. Chin opens the door with Kono and the Crime Scene Unit behind him. They clear the house before they call the technicians in, but it's clear from the moment they enter the house that they are alone.

Chin is not sure what he expected, but the house is spotless and the interior is colorful but still not tacky. The living room looks inviting and lived in, with magazines lying around and books and open DVD's on the small table next to the entertainment center. But other than that it's all tidy and clean. There are no dirty dishes in the kitchen or any waste left in the disposal.

"Chin, you need to see this," Kono calls from a room next to the kitchen.

"Wow," is the only thing that comes to mind upon entering the room that Donaldson obviously used for his planning. "This looks just like Hector Ruiz's room, when he was targeting SEAL team 9." Chin looks at all the pictures and maps on the wall and on every available surface.

"Chin, look at this. It's a surveillance picture of Dr. Jordan and Steve," Kono explain as she shows him the picture. It shows JoJo and Steve sitting outside of a coffee shop engaged in conversation. "There are also pictures of just Steve and of Steve with Danny, and with Cath. Do you think Steve was a target?"

"Maybe. There are a lot of other pictures of Dr. Jordan. She was in his focus for sure. Why did he kill someone else? Why not kill her?"

"He might have felt that she was helping him. Who knows what he was thinking, he was obviously not right in his head," Kono tells her cousin.

"Yeah. Let's process the place and inform Agent Gibbs."

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, ICU Waiting room

When Danny is finally done with his tests and an MRI, he is wheeled into the ICU waiting room at almost noon. The nurse assigned to him understood his need to be with his friends and gave him thirty minutes before she would come back for him. So, now Danny is sitting in his wheelchair in the waiting room and listening to Gibbs talking on the phone.

It's not much to listen to, since Gibbs is not talking much and they can't hear the other end of the conversation.

"Thank you Ziva. Good work. Get some rest."

Danny looks at Gibbs and wonders if he is always so impolite or is just that way with 'his' people. He has never once heard him say something like goodbye. "What did they find out?"

"Shouldn't you be lying in a bed, Detective?"

"I'm fine, Gibbs. I feel much better this morning. Now, what did your team tell you?"

Ever since this morning someone has always been with Steve; at the moment it's Ducky's turn again. So Gibbs addresses the remaining people in the room. Dr. Jordan and Catherine managed to get new uniform shirts and obviously freshened up at some point. He learned that they got rooms in the adjoining Navy lodge which is provided as housing for visiting family members of injured military personnel.

Max still looks a bit out of place and Williams looks ready to explode. Gibbs is sure that his morning has not been a pleasant one.

"Steve and Dr. Mallard were right, Donaldson had planned something big. He had checked into the hotel on Saturday. Ziva found twenty charges of C4 in his room; some of them with a timed detonator, some of them with a remote one." Gibbs can see that they are shocked about that amount of explosives. "He had them in his suitcase. They were already armed and ready to use. I think when you went up to your room, he had just came back from planting one of his charges."

"Where?" Cath is pretty sure she knows where that bomb was placed.

"In your room, it was on a timer. Ziva arrived just in time to defuse it. He set all of them at the exact same time. Even if there had not been people near all of them, the damage would have been enormous."

"You think he meant to plant them in the conference room?" JoJo wants to know.

"The expert of the bomb disposal team thinks that Donaldson planned to use most of them on the central beams in the parking garage. According to the plans Chin and Kono found, that placement would have caused a lot of damage to the structure of the hotel, it would have been enough for instability of the whole structure. Maybe even enough for a collapse." Gibbs waits for it to set in.

"But with that he would have killed or injured a lot of civilians as well," Danny voices the horror of that scenario.

"Yeah, but I think he was beyond caring about that. I will never understand how someone can kill innocent people. He saw that probably as punishment for what was done to him," Gibbs tells him shaking his head.

"And what exactly was that?" Danny still hasn't heard who this Donaldson even was, let alone what his motivation was.

"We are not completely sure yet. Tony tried to look at his file, but it's sealed. We need to wait for the official channels to de-classify it."

"You've got to be kidding me," Danny exclaims in a little outburst.

"No," JoJo speaks up for the first time. "LT Donaldson was an operative with Special Warfare, there is a lot of classified stuff in his file that even I have never seen."

"He was a SEAL?" Danny asks and wonders if he ever worked with Steve.

"No, he didn't pass BUD/S. But he was recruited into a different program with Special Warfare. I never read that part of his file. I don't know what he and his unit really did. But I know that he was injured during one of his deployments. After three months he was sent back to his unit. Two months later he was back in Bethesda, seriously wounded and in bad mental shape." JoJo looks at all of them to see if they are still following her tale. "I don't have any specifics about what happened, but I know that he was the sole survivor of an OP in Afghanistan and suffered extensive damage to his leg. But not enough to get discharged, he was transferred, retrained and did seemingly well with his new job."

"When did you first see him?" Danny wants to know.

"When he was transferred to Hawaii, about two years ago. He was doing well, there was no issue any longer of his survivor's guilt. He suffered from occasional flashbacks when his leg was bothering him. But his work performance was never affected, he responded very well to his medication." JoJo is by far not over the fact that she didn't realize how disturbed the Lieutenant must have been. "I never suspected that he had other serious issues. I know his wife left him after he came back from Afghanistan, she couldn't handle his time in evaluation before he was released. He spent three months in the psychiatric ward here in Bethesda. But as I said, he responded well and was declared fit for desk duty after his evaluation time."

"Yes, that is the only thing Tony could find out. He was retrained based on his degree in computer engineering. He wrote and installed 'Inventory Management Programs' on different bases. That is how he got around so much."

"How does Levin fit into all of this?" Catherine thinks with disgust about the man that has caused Steve so much pain over the years.

"Donaldson and Levin are half-brothers. Levin was six when Frank was born. They grew up together and were very close. When their parents died in a car crash when Levin was 21 he became Donaldson's legal guardian. At the time he was already in his second year at the Naval Academy. Donaldson was placed in a boarding school to prepare him for attending the Academy."

"That is quite a commitment for a twenty one year old," Danny has to wonder about young Levin.

"Yes, it is. And he risked his career for it too. The board allowed him to stay after a hearing and Frank was placed in boarding school."

"What? You can't have a kid if you want to go to the Academy?" Danny can't believe what he is hearing.

"There is no simple yes or no answer for that. Of course you can have a child when you're in a relationship with a partner outside the Academy. But pregnancy or fathering a child with a fellow student while at the Academy is grounds for dismissal. Single parents are not allowed."

"Gibbs, you've got to be kidding me."

"No, Detective. And frankly I think it's a good rule. How will you manage to become an officer, get your degree, give birth and raise a child? And be successful with all of it?"

"Well…"

"Exactly. You have to commit those four years to the Academy. Of course you can have a kid after those four years, even without being in a relationship, but not during that time. Besides, it's the rules, take it or leave it."

"Gentlemen, can we go back to the case?" Catherine of course knows all about the rules of becoming an officer. One of her friends got pregnant and was dismissed, along with the father of the child. They paid a high price for their stupidity. "Why didn't you realize that one of JoJo's patients was the lead agent's brother?"

"They have different names, and Donaldson's file has many 'blank' pages. It was simply not listed that he even has a brother."

"Yeah, but Steve asked you to look into Levin. And since he was a legal guardian at some point, that should have been in his file," Danny tells Gibbs angrily. Steve was so sure they would find something in Levin's file that would have brought them closer to solving this crime. And he was right with his, admittedly at the time, unfounded belief in Levin's involvement. If Gibbs had found out about Donaldson, they would have checked it out, since Steve didn't believe Levin's story about coming to Hawaii to see his daughter.

"It is in his file, but under Frank Levin. He changed his name to Donaldson after his mother when he attended the Academy. And that is not in Levin's file, since Frank was over eighteen by then. I saw no reason to investigate his brother."

"So they have the same father?"

"Yes. Levin's mother died a week after Levin was born. His father remarried three years later and gave birth to Frank, Levin's half-brother. But frankly it is not really important that they were brothers. What's important is that Levin got suspicious about Frank after the murders in New Orleans. He found his brother's cell phone on the scene. And instead of reporting it, he buried the evidence and covered for his brother." Gibbs looks intensely at Williams who doesn't seem to be listening to him. "Danny, are you alright?"

"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine. Just got a bit dizzy right now," Danny has to admit that being in an upright position is really not so great for his headache. Ever since he woke up this morning his head has felt ready to explode. And getting all those tests didn't really help.

"Danny, you really should lie down. Come on, I'll take you back to your room. Did the doctor talk to you about the results from the CT?" Catherine offers her help to get him to rest.

"MRI, they did an MRI since they couldn't see anything on a CT last night. No, she hasn't talked to me yet. But I guess everything is okay, since they allowed me to stay with you guys," Danny tells them as he tries to breathe through another bout of nausea. Puking in front of Gibbs is out of the question. So he will just tough it out. Besides, he is not the one to worry about. At least not in his book.

"Okay, but still, you should lie down." Catherine has already turned the wheelchair to take him to his room.

"First I need to see Steve, then I'll lay down." Danny will not leave before he had seen his friend again. It's been a few hours since the last time.

Catherine finally gives in and they make their way over to the ICU and relieve Ducky from his rotation at Steve's bedside. They were very adamant not to leave him alone for even a minute. And in the last few hours they managed to keep that up, and they have every intention of continuing until Steve wakes up.

 

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Chapter Text

PD – Chapter 37

Floating…

Where am I? Why is it so dark in here? And where the heck is here?

Numb…

Why am I so weightless, not feeling my body? Ah, right, I'm floating.

Cold…

Darn, it's cold here. Not a good idea to float in the water when it's so cold. Water?

Adrift…

What? Wait, I'm floating in the water? How did that happen? Did I go overboard? No, no that can't be right. And why is it still so dark? If I'm adrift, they won't find me. I need to start swimming. But I'm so numb, can't really move. Maybe it's not so bad to keep floating a little more, it is kind of comfortable… if it weren't so damn cold.

Steve is not aware that he is making his way back to consciousness. He is still sedated and on strong pain medication, but his mind is already fighting against it, even though his body is too weak to help in any way. He is still listed as critical and in the ICU after his second surgery. A ventilator helps him breathe and he is attached to all kinds of equipment. There are more tubes going in and out of his body than anyone cares to count.

The most intrusive one is the ventilator that is down his throat supplying him with air. A little bit lower at his left collarbone is the central line, four bags on a stand next to his bed emptying their contents right into it. Sneaking out of the bandages covering most of his chest and immobilizing his right shoulder and arm is a tube that was needed after his left lung collapsed during surgery. A little below the chest tube the drainage is sticking out that helps drain the abdominal gunshot wound. In his left arm leads yet another IV that is attached to a bag of blood hanging on the stand with the other four bags of medication, saline and TPN.

Of course there is also the not visible obligatory Foley catheter. The collection bag hangs next to his bed and is filled with slightly pinkish liquid. It's a very good sign that his kidneys started working again after just one cycle of dialysis.

It's his second night in the ICU and his doctors and nurses are more than surprised with his progress. His BP is slowly stabilizing and they are very happy about his blood work. He has just received his last bag of blood. In a few minutes his surgeon will check the chest tube and probably remove it.

Even though he is still listed as critical it's a good sign that no infection had set in. The wound caused by the bullet is healing well and the drainage will be removed in a couple of days. His chances increased immensely after he survived the last twenty-four hours. His doctors changed their assessment to cautiously optimistic after their grim prognosis in the early morning. And after his temperature settled on a manageable 101.

But they are still very reluctant to say anything about probable brain damage due to the fact that he flat-lined three times and had numerous seizures.

Andrew Winchester comes into the ICU to check on McGarrett. If anyone had asked him this morning about the commander being on the mend at this point, he would have told them not to bet on it. But McGarrett is stubborn and is fighting for his life. Winchester has no idea how he managed to do it, but he made it through the day. It was touch and go for most of it, with one crisis after the other, but in the early evening he finally stabilized and Winchester was watching the vitals in wonder.

It seemed that the commander had gained strength and now shortly after midnight they are even debating taking him off the ventilator, after one of the nurses told him that the patient gagged a few times before he settled back into deep sleep. A sure sign that he is starting to fight the assisted breathing despite the sedation.

"Dori, how is he?" Major Winchester asks his assistant as he enters McGarrett's cubicle.

"He seems a bit restless. I think he is in pain when he moves, but he settled down when Lt. Rollins or Detective Williams was with him," Sergeant Dori Winchester informs the surgeon.

"Did he wake at any time? He should not be aware of anything, maybe we need to up his sedation," Winchester muses aloud.

"No, he never woke up, or came even close. But it seems that he is either dreaming or fighting against the medication. And he reacts when spoken to," Dori was very surprised when McGarrett turned toward her voice when she talked to him last time she checked on him. "I think he is trying very hard to wake up."

"His vitals are looking good, and his breathing has improved a lot. I think we should ex-tubate him and let him wake up for a while. We could finally check his brain functions. After that we could sedate him again if necessary." After making up his mind, Winchester prepares Steve for taking the breathing tube out.

First he checks the chest tube and decides to take it out, the last x-rays looked good and he's sure the tiny hole in the lung tissue is closed by now. Steve never even stirs when the tube is pulled out of his chest cavity, or when Winchester closes the small hole with two neat stitches.

Next he checks the drainage, but that needs to stay for another few days. The bullet did a lot of damage while traveling with high speed through Steve's abdomen from back to front. It nicked an artery and the right kidney on its way and ripped muscle tissue and intestines. Steve was incredibly lucky not to have bled out on the scene or to have developed any infections from the waste that spilled into his abdomen from the damaged organs. He has to thank Drs. Mallard and Bergman for that.

They did an incredible job stopping the bleeding with their 'surgery' while Steve was still lying on the concrete floor. Without them he would be dead for sure.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Something is pulling at his chest, and with that the fire in his shoulder starts to burn with great intensity again. Steve tries to voice his agony, but finds himself unable to do so. There is still something stuck in his throat. Probably the same thing that made him gag a few times now. He is too out of it to realize what that torture device is that is down his throat, but he is with it enough to feel the pain of being prodded and handled by nurses and doctors.

He has been in that not quite awake state a few times now, which always brought intense pain and fear. The fear of not understanding what was happening, where he was or why he was there. He can't remember any OP that went wrong. How he got obviously seriously injured. Was anyone else hurt? Where is my team?

From the last few times of waking up he mostly remembers pain and darkness. But this time was different, he can hear voices. Granted he can't understand what they are saying and it is still dark, but it's a new sensation. And he figured out that he is lying in a hospital bed. That at least cleared up where he was. He can clearly hear all kinds of monitors and is wondering if they are all attached to his body.

Speaking of 'body'. Where the hell is my body? Steve finds his own question a bit odd, but he can't really feel his body. There are points of more or less intense pain, but the rest is just not there. There is the agonizing fire in his right shoulder, the low throbbing in his right side, the stabbing pain in his lower back and the intense pulling pain in his groin.

But he can't feel his legs, or his left arm. He wonders why he is on such strong drugs that he is so detached from his body, but still in that much pain? Something seems to be very wrong about it. He'd rather feel his body and not have those intense pain experiences.

Maybe he should try to make someone aware of his distress? He again tries to open his eyes, but find that an impossible task.

"arghnnngggghnfuckngn" The white hot agony engulfs him when his shoulder is moved and soon after he is gone again.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

"Commander? Commander McGarrett, can you hear me?" Major Winchester was quite shocked when his supposedly sedated patient suddenly cried out in pain when Andy moved his arm out of the way.

Winchester gently lifts Steve's left eyelid, but it's clear that he is deeply unconscious again. "I think you're right, he's trying very hard to wake up." The major very carefully arranges the right arm back on Steve's chest.

His patient's shoulder is immobilized but his forearm is not included in the bandaging. They needed free access to his chest, and his arm would have been in the way. Major Winchester had pulled out the chest tube and wonders now if his patient had been aware of his prodding. But he hadn't seen any reaction from Steve.

"Okay, I think it's time to wake him up and see if he can breathe on his own. Please inject the drug." Andy looks carefully at the heart monitor as Dori injects the medication that should wake Steve up in a matter of minutes. So far his heart rate has been at a steady 80 beats per minute, a bit too fast, but not unusual considering the injuries. Even though the drugs roaming around the commander's system should have kept it around 60.

It only takes two minutes until two glazed over eyes are looking back at Andy. "Commander, can you hear me?"

Major Winchester is rather concerned, his patient opened his eyes, but they are completely unfocused and he can't detect any recognition in them.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Steve sees a blurry blob in front of his face and hears a voice that is urging him to look at something. But he can't really understand what that annoying voice is saying. Try as he might he's not able to get the blob in front of him to clear up, it's just a whitish shape of something, making noises that are hurting his head. Not to mention that the blob is touching him and that is pure agony.

There is a fire burning in his shoulder he somewhat remembers from before. Steve is sucking in a breath… or tries to. He only ends up gagging on the blockage in his throat, which intensifies the pain radiating from his shoulder all the way across his chest.

Steve is now fighting against the thing in his throat that is keeping him from breathing. He tries to sit up and would have screamed from the incredible pain lancing through his right side if the damn tube wasn't still stuck down his throat.

Steve is in full panic mode. Not realizing what it is that is keeping him from breathing, or as he feels like it is keeping him from doing so. He is thrashing on his bed, very weakly but still enough to send his doctor into action.

Afraid that his patient might seriously hurt himself Andy makes one last attempt to get through to him before he sedates him into oblivion again.

"Commander! Stand down!"

Steve's not sure who was just yelling the order, but he obeys regardless and stops all movements. Now lying absolutely still he can feel how his chest is moving on its own and how air is being pressed into his lungs. Slowly realization dawns that he's on a ventilator. Knowing that of course doesn't help with the strong urge to gag against the tube.

"I'll take it out in a moment, Commander. Hang in there."

Stop yelling, that hurts. Steve wishes all that noise would calm down, it's making him dizzy and very disoriented. Noises are coming from all angles and he feels overwhelmed by them. And then suddenly most of them stop and the rest is not as loud anymore.

Major Winchester saw his patient's distress and turned the sound off on most of the monitors. Andy learned years ago that people waking up the first time after being unconscious for a while are very sensitive to noise. McGarrett seems to be an extreme case, judging by his reaction to what was happening around him.

"Commander, try to relax. I'm going to take the tube out now," the major tries to calm his patient down some more before he takes out the tube that was assisting Steve with his breathing.

Steve really tries to keep calm, but it's hard not to freak out. He was obviously seriously injured and is in the ICU of a military hospital, if the officer in front of him is any indication. But he really has no idea how he got here or what happened to him. And why the heck isn't he in Hawaii? He already figured out that this is not Tripler, which he knows too well from his various visits, but another hospital somewhere in the world.

Was he on a reserve drill and got injured? No, can't be, you're not due for any drills for a few months. An OP then? That must have been so classified, that even I don't know about it. That thought actually makes him smile. Or what can be called smiling with a tube coming out of his mouth and lines of pain on his face.

All his thinking is not getting him any answers but it manages to calm him down.

"Okay, we're ready to take you off the vent. I want you to cough when I tell you to. Okay? Do you understand me?"

Steve nods his head after he thought for a moment about what the officer wants him to do. He is a little worried that he needs so long to process what is said to him, but doesn't have time to contemplate that any longer when Winchester tells him to cough. Which he does as best he can, but pulling the tube out still hurts and he starts gagging and coughing even more.

Ice chips appear out of nowhere and he eagerly takes them into his mouth. The moisture feels just heavenly going down his abused throat.

"Thank you," Steve croaks out to whoever gave him the ice.

His vision is still slightly blurry but it's a lot better than before. He can at least see that the officer in front of him is a major, which means they are equally ranked.

"Commander, I'm Major Andrew Winchester, and I was your surgeon. Do you remember what happened?"

"What?" Steve is still stuck on trying to understand the part about who the guy in front of him is.

"Do you remember what happened?" Andy repeats the question and looks with a critical eye at his patient. It seems that McGarrett is having a hard time focusing on him, his eyes roaming all over the place. "Commander, try to look at me please."

Steve tries to do what the major wants from him, but he isn't able to keep his eyes from rolling back into his head. He is not aware that he is having another seizure.

"Damn. Dori, 10mg Diazepam IV," Andy tells the assisting nurse.

Major Winchester was hoping to avoid having to administer more of the sedative since one of the strong side effects suppresses the respiratory system. But with Steve seizing it's unavoidable. They can only watch as the seizure runs its course. McGarrett is scheduled for an MRI and a consult with their Neuro specialist in two hours, to find out why there is still sporadic excessive neuronal activity in his brain.

As far as Winchester knows they already received McGarrett's medical file from Dr. Hope. Who even offered to come to Washington but their resident Neuro surgeon wanted to wait until he did more tests.

First of all the commander needs to stabilize before they can even think about wheeling him around the hospital from one test to another.

"Dori, we need to closely watch his breathing. He might need assistance again," Andy tells the longtime head nurse. "Better prepare BPAP for him, just in case."

Andy hopes not to have to use another ventilation on McGarrett. Although it's non-invasive, it's still not much fun.

Even with the administered diazepam, this seizure lasted a lot longer than the last ones. Over two minutes. That was cause to worry. Winchester read McGarrett's medical file, and with all the head trauma he had received over the years, it was even possible that the electro therapy caused irreparable damage. They could very well be looking at PTE. Winchester still hopes that the abnormal neuronal activity is an aftereffect of the prolonged exposure to the electro shocks. That McGarrett didn't develop Post Traumatic Epilepsy.

Andy Winchester continues his examination of his patient, but it seems that the seizure didn't do any damage to either the drainage or any of the stitches. "Dori, I'm going to talk to his family again. I'm sure McGarrett will sleep for a few hours. Please inform me of any changes. And please keep a special close eye on his breathing."

"Of course, Andy. We're all rooting for him," Dori tells her husband, Major Winchester. He is not her CO, she isn't even in his chain of command. They would not be allowed to work together, or to be in a relationship for that matter. A charge of 'conduct unbecoming' loomed over their heads when they fell in love five years ago. And only after Andy asked for a transfer could they make their engagement public. Being in a relationship with a subordinate is an absolute no go, even more so than in civilian life.

"Good, I'll check on him again in an hour." Major Winchester makes his way out of the ICU to inform McGarrett's friends of the new development.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

Chapter Text

PD – Chapter 38

Steve has been listening to the low chatter in the background for quite some time now, but he is still not able to make out the different voices or what they are saying. Somewhere above and to the left of him is a low beeping sound that he finally identified as a heart monitor. He is a bit annoyed by the mask that is sitting snugly over his mouth and nose, providing him with oxygen. But his arm just won't obey him enough to try and pry it off. His whole body feels completely limp.

If the numb feeling of his body is any indication, he is on strong pain medication and probably muscle relaxants as well. He'd bet he would be considered 'high' in everybody's book. That is probably one of the reasons why he can't make out the voices still softly talking. They are familiar, but it just won't fall into place.

Since he hasn't opened his eyes yet, or even tried to, he doesn't know that he is in a private room of the intermediate care unit. Although it's a step down from the ICU, he is still listed as 'serious but stable'. The new location allowed for more and longer visits by his friends and they had practically camped out in his room ever since he had been transferred here last night.

Steve hasn't been awake since he was taken off the ventilator and had suffered a severe seizure right after. That was two days ago. Since then he'd had three more seizures, but the last one was a full twenty four hours ago. The consulting specialist is very hopeful that it was indeed the last one.

Steve remembers vaguely coming awake before and that there was a major talking to him, but it's only a glimpse of a memory he can barely hold on to. He has no idea where in the world he is and why he landed in a hospital. There is no memory of any event that would lead to ending up in a hospital bed in obviously serious condition.

The last thing he clearly remembers is… he's not even sure about that. There are flashes he remembers. He knows he had an argument with Danny, but has no idea about what, but feels sad and angry about it. And he remembers a huge fight with Catherine, but feels relieved and happy about her. So he thinks they made up, even though he can't remember it. And he remembers being mad at JoJo for something he doesn't know. That disturbs him greatly, because he has never been at odds with her before.

And he remembers taking a swim in the harbor after getting hit by a car, which looked oddly familiar. But the memory was so quickly gone that he couldn't grasp what had really happened. He also remembers that they were investigating a murder and that JoJo had something to do with it. It is all very confusing and it doesn't really help that the more he thinks about it, the more his head hurts.

Steve can now make out three different voices, two women and a man. But he still doesn't know who the voices belong to. He sighs and it seems that he actually made a noise, because suddenly the voices are a lot closer and louder than before.

They seem to address him, coaxing him to open his eyes. But he really doesn't want to do that. It would require such energy and Steve's not sure he can muster it. But the voices are very persistent. He can still only understand every other word or even less.

Steve slowly turns his head to the left, toward the gentle prodding voice of a woman. He knows that voice but he just can't place it without a face to it. He is a bit worried about how hard it is for him to think, it worries him that he can't really process what is happening around him.

He blinks his eyes open and tries to get the blurry vision into focus. After a few moments he can see more than just distorted shapes.

"Steve, can you hear me?" Catherine's voice travels to his ear.

"Hmm," Steve tries to answer, but the mask keeps him from more than a mumbled reply. Which is fine with him, since he isn't able to do much more than that anyway.

"We are so happy to see you awake," Cath bends down a bit more and gives him a gentle kiss on the forehead, which makes him close his eyes again. "Steve?"

He lazily opens his eyes again, but they are already closing again before they are even completely open. "Wha' happen'?" Steve's question is again seriously muffled by the mask, but he hasn't made a move to remove it yet. That is something he would normally have done first thing after waking up.

"You got shot. You remember anything about that?" The male voice asks him. He is too far from the bed to see him clearly, and without the face to the voice Steve doesn't know who he is.

Steve is getting distressed, not only by the question he has no answer to, but most of all that he can't place the voices without seeing the speaker. Something seems seriously wrong about that.

"Steve, what is it? Are you in pain?" Catherine gets worried when Steve suddenly appears so restless and the heart monitor beeps in alarm after his heart rate speeds up.

He calms down instantly though when he finally recognizes Danny as the speaker from just a moment ago. "Danny?"

"Hey it's okay, calm down. You will be fine. You will remember when you're more alert," Danny keeps talking as he steps around the bed to make room for the nurse that came into the room after the alarm went off.

"Commander, you're awake. That is good, I'm going to get the doctor," the nurse says and is gone as fast as she came into the room.

"Cath?" Steve tries to get his arm to move to finally get the damn mask off his face, but he just can't do it. Which again results in a mild panic. "Can't move," he barely gets out, exhausted from his slight struggle to move.

"It's okay, Steve. They gave you a lot of drugs, don't try to move. You will be fine, I promise. It's just the drugs. Try to relax," Catherine bends down low and speaks soothingly to him while she has her hand gently on his forehead.

The contact calms him down a little and Steve closes his eyes again. He is so darn tired.

"Steve, try to stay awake for a minute. Can you do that?" Cath urges him to fight against the pull sleep already has on him.

"Tired," Steve is sure he couldn't open his eyes again even if his life depended on it.

"I know you're tired, the doctor will be here in a minute. Just hang in there a moment longer."

"Okay."

They all watch Steve struggle to stay awake, but it's clear that he will lose any second now. And they only have to wait a moment before his breathing evens out and he is back to sleep.

"He recognized us. That's good, right?" Danny looks at JoJo, who hasn't said a word because she thought more people talking would have overwhelmed Steve. It seemed that two has been almost too much for him to handle.

"I think so, Danny. He seemed lucid to me. A bit slow, but I think that is due to the drugs," JoJo tells them and hopes that her assessment was right. "Let's wait for what his doctor has to say."

They don't have to wait long. Army Captain Donald Haven comes to see his patient. Haven is very young, but also a very committed and bright doctor. All of them instantly liked him and felt that Steve was in good hands with him. Danny especially liked him, because he was not a military guy; he entered the Army after he finished his residency in a hospital in Chicago. He didn't act or talk like the doctors with a military career behind them.

"The nurse said the commander was awake?" Captain Haven asks as he checks Steve's vitals and adjusts the pump that delivers his medication on a schedule. "Was he lucid?"

"Pretty much, yeah. I think he had a bit of trouble understanding who was talking to him, but after a moment he named LT Rollins and Detective Williams correctly. He asked about what happened, and he got agitated when he couldn't move," JoJo recounts Steve's short wakefulness.

"I lowered the muscle relaxant. That will help with the lack of feeling of his body. It can be unnerving to not feel much. I also lowered his pain medication," when he sees them starting to object, he is quick to continue. "I promise he won't be in pain, I just want him to become a bit more alert next time he wakes up. I'm only dialing back on the heavy narcotics."

"But he won't be in pain?"

"Lieutenant, we can't make him totally pain free, for that we would have to knock him out. But he will be comfortable, any pain he might experience will be mild. Later on, when he is more stable and we lower his medication, his pain level will increase. But that is not avoidable with this kind of injury. At some point he needs to sit up and later get out of bed; that will hurt, but we will make him as comfortable as possible."

They are all satisfied with that for now and watch Dr. Haven complete his examination and promise him to call as soon as Steve shows signs of waking again.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

So, guess you did it again. Damn. Ended up in a hospital. And it looks like you're really hurting this time. Steve muses silently while he is trying to figure out what kind of injuries he suffered. He is sure that he took a bullet to his back or abdomen, he's not quite sure which. There is the same mild throbbing in his right lower back and his front. Probably got through. That did some serious damage for sure then.

Steve has seen enough gunshot wounds up close and personal to know what kind of damage a bullet to the abdomen does. It's not a pretty sight. That low are a lot of intestines, and getting hit there will make a mess.

Steve tries to move his arm down to touch his hurting right side just above his belt, but halts every movement when a fierce pain shoots into his shoulder caused by the minuscule movement he made. It feels like a hot poker is stabbing high in his right shoulder. The pain goes all the way to his back, cycles back all over the right side of his chest and travels down his arm. The pain travels with lightning speed and it feels like his shoulder explodes in white hot pain.

He feels darkness descending, and fights against the pull unconsciousness has on him. Steve tries not to move and to only take very shallow breaths. After a minute the incredible pain recedes and leaves an intense but bearable throbbing to the rhythm of his heartbeat. It now feels like someone is hitting him on the same spot over and over again. After a while it is down to a dull pain that is no longer separated but is a constant reminder of his injury.

Don't try that again. Steve tries to relax a bit more, he practically melts into the mattress and tries very hard to ignore the aching right shoulder. Instead he concentrates on his left side, which seems not to be injured or hurt. He doesn't dare yet move his arm, even though he would love to remove the itching nasal cannula that is providing him with oxygen. But he fears his assessment is wrong and another wave of intense pain would hit him. He is sure he wouldn't be able to fight a wave like the last one again. So he is content for the moment to revel in the feeling of an intact arm and side.

Steve is a bit concerned that his legs and lower body feel so very heavy that he doesn't even try to move either of his legs. He can clearly feel a very annoying tube in a very unpleasant place. Which pisses him off even more than the injuries. He hates that thing with a passion. That has to go. Sooner rather than later. Steve realizes for that to happen he needs to open his eyes and voice his discomfort to a nurse or anyone who will listen.

Maybe opening my eyes would help figure out what the heck happened. He remembers having been awake before, but it's all really hazy. The last he clearly remembers is joking with JoJo in the elevator about listening to a bunch of shrinks all day. He remembers that the door opened and there is just nothing after that.

Steve is vaguely aware that he was a lot more confused the last time he was awake; then, he had no idea where he even was or why he wasn't in Hawaii. Now everything up to the point of him and JoJo in the elevator is back. The thought of not knowing if something happened to JoJo finally helps him open his eyes.

The sight that greets him makes him smile despite the pain he's in. Next to his bed sits Danny in a chair, fast asleep. He is listing dangerously to the side and Steve wonders how he manages to not fall off. Steve takes a moment to study his friend. Danny has a dark graze on his temple that provokes a flash of memory for Steve. He sees Danny jumping in front of him as Levin fires his gun. Steve cringes remembering the thudding sound Danny made on impact on the floor. Danny looks totally beat, like he hasn't slept in ages. Which he probably hasn't.

Steve takes a look around the room but can see that they are alone. He now also becomes aware that he is connected to all kinds of wires leading to monitors behind him. There are even wires attached to his head and he wonders what they are for. He turns his head back to the left and ponders how to wake his friend without startling him into falling off the chair.

Before he can even think about speaking he needs to gather at least a little bit of spit. His mouth feels like the desert, and come to think of it his throat hurts a little. 'Ventilator' is his conclusion. Thankful not to remember being on it, he tries his luck with calling out to Danny.

"D…" Jeez that was pathetic. Come on, you can do better than that. "Danny!" His weak call ends in a slight coughing fit that aggravates his shoulder and his groans of pain are what wakes his friend.

"Steve!" Danny jumps up, barely avoiding toppling over with the chair. "Here take some ice chips, they will help," Danny tells his friend as he offers him a spoonful of the cool chips.

Steve greedily takes the chips and they feel just heavenly going down his abused throat. They stop the coughing instantly, and he tries to lie still to keep his shoulder from any more movement. Another spoonful appears in front of him and that one he savors even more.

"Okay? You feel better?"

"Hmm, thanks," Steve croaks out. His voice seriously lacks. No wonder, after not being used for so long. How long exactly he has no idea though.

"You like some more?"

"No." Steve already feels a little nauseous, and he has no desire to get sick.

"Okay," Danny says while putting the cup with the ice back on the tray. "You, my friend, really know how to scare us to death."

"What?"

"You have any idea how close to dying you came?"

"You saved my life, Danny. Thank you." Steve looks at his friend and can clearly see that he has been more than scared.

"You remember what happened?" Danny asks in surprise. They were under the impression that Steve wouldn't remember much about what happened. That is at least what all the doctors have told them. Well, they also told you that Steve would die.

"Not really," Steve says as he closes his eyes to try and pull up more memories. "You took a bullet for me."

"Well, you had already taken two, you didn't need any more than that," Danny tells him with the first smile on his face in days.

"Thanks," Steve says and looks around the room. "Where's everyone?"

"JoJo and Cath are trying to catch some sleep, they will be back in a little while. How do you feel?"

"Tired," comes the answer. Steve has trouble keeping his eyes open, he wants to ask so many questions but somehow his brain is a jumbled mess and he's having a really hard time getting a sentence out. "Shoulder hurts… need… out." Steve's no longer able to keep his eyes open or to tell Danny about how uncomfortable he is. Finally he gives in to the pull sleep has on him.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

Chapter Text

PD – Chapter 39

Steve has slept for almost six hours before wakening again, and now he is lying in bed slightly elevated into a more sitting position. This way he can at least look at his friends who are telling him about the last few days.

"When Gibbs told us he was informed that they expected you to die…" Catherine tells him softly. She still chokes up every time just thinking about those terrible hours in the ICU when Steve has been so close to dying.

"Hey, it's okay. I'm not dying any time soon," Steve says as he squeezes her hand that he's been holding since he woke up about ten minutes ago. He looks at his three friends and can see that they are still shaken up by the events of the last days. Steve has no real concept of how much time has passed since he was shot. "What day is it?"

"It's Friday," Danny tells him. "You were in the ICU until Thursday morning, then they downgraded you from 'critical' to 'serious but stable'. This is a step down from ICU."

"Why do I have these things on my head?" Steve motions with his left to the wires leading to the EEG monitor. It was obvious to him why he was still attached to an EKG and various other measuring things, but why this?

JoJo steps closer to the bed and tries to explain why he is still closely monitored. "The use of the electro shocks caused your brain to misfire. That resulted in seizures. You had quite a few and the wires are leading to the EEG, to monitor your brain waves."

"Seizures?" Steve looks in worry at JoJo, he knows having any kind of seizures would be really bad.

"Don't worry about it; the last one was thirty hours ago. The neurologist thinks that you won't have any more. They did an MRI and EEGs, and nothing indicates any long term effects. They will monitor you a bit longer but he is sure that nothing will happen again." JoJo can see that her words reassure him and that he relaxes a little.

"That's good, right? I mean they didn't do any damage, did they?" Even though the seizures are over, he wanted to ensure he wouldn't be declared unfit for duty because of them.

"The neurologist will talk to you about that later today. He will do a lot of tests, which he hasn't been able to perform because you haven't been awake or aware that much." JoJo and his friends all hope that Steve hasn't suffered any brain damage.

"Okay," Steve says as he closes his eyes. All the talking has tired him out, which is really annoying. He's only been awake for a few minutes and already he could go back to sleep. But he fights against the almost overwhelming feeling of exhaustion, "I can't really remember what happened after the elevator."

Steve, as well as Cath and Danny listen to JoJo telling them what went down after Steve took a bullet to the vest. He unconsciously touches his chest when she says how the impact threw him back and he had almost passed out from it.

Cath and Danny had learned a few days ago what had happened, but not in such detail. "He used that damn Taser on you over and over. Steve, I'm so sorry I couldn't help you."

"I don't remember it, JoJo. It's okay," Steve tells her, but is not meeting her gaze. He does remember that he had a flashback, a bad one. But he's not ready to talk about it in front of Catherine or Danny. He can't remember being cuffed to the railing or getting up and confronting Donaldson in the office. Or about getting shot. And he pulls a total blank about shooting Levin.

Steve is surprised that he had been able to do anything after getting shot and losing so much blood. "You took a bullet for me."

"We already covered that, Steve. You would have done the same."

"Thank you. And I'm sorry you got shot."

"Hey, you only apologize if you get me shot. This," Danny waves around the room, "is not your fault. I'm the one who should apologize."

"What? Why?"

"I got lax. I turned my back to Levin, I put myself in a vulnerable position. I'm sorry I didn't heed your warning more than I did," Danny admits to his friend with an uncharacteristically low voice.

"Danny, don't beat yourself up. It's not your fault. Even I didn't expect something like this," Steve tells his friend. He would never blame Danny, he hopes Danny will see that he is really not to blame for anything. Steve shifts a little in bed and is again reminded that he suffered some severe injuries. What was uncomfortable before is now downright painful. His shoulder is throbbing mercilessly and the damn Foley stopped being annoying a while ago. Now it hurts and adds a great deal to him being miserable. "Can you please call the nurse?"

"Steve, are you in pain?" Catherine again squeezes the hand she is holding.

"My shoulder… argh," Steve can't suppress the groan his shifting on the bed caused in his right side. It's obvious that his pain medication was lowered a bit too much.

While they are waiting for someone to react to them pressing the call button, Danny tells his partner about Chin and Kono. "They did a great job finding all the evidence, not just about the murder in Hawaii, but also on the other killings all over the country. Donaldson kept a journal about planning and executing his murders," Danny recounts what they had found out as he watches his friend biting his lower lip in pain caused by his injuries. "They also found out about Levin's role in all this. We will talk about that a bit later. We have set up a video conference, but you have been asleep up until now, but as soon as you're able you can talk to them. They are very anxious to see you."

"Did you call Mary?" Steve asks without opening his eyes. The pain in his shoulder is increasing by the second, and if he doesn't get any relief soon, he won't be able to keep it together for much longer.

"Yes, and she was here yesterday. She will be back tomorrow when she's flying to New York. She's going to stay for a few days, until she has to go back to work." Danny is very happy that Steve's sister was able to come and willing to stay with her brother for a few days during her layover.

Steve's no longer able to ignore the fire burning in his shoulder, he looks pleadingly at his girlfriend, "Cath… can you…"

"JoJo already went to see what's taking them so long. Just hang in there, they'll give you something soon," Cath looks down at her friend and can see that he must be in an incredible amount of pain to ask for pain medication.

"Okay," that came out more as a pained grunt than anything else.

It takes two more minutes for Dr. Haven finally to arrive. If Danny didn't like that guy he would have given him a piece of his mind for letting his friend suffer for so long, but he keeps quiet.

"I'm sorry, there was an emergency with one of the other patients. Commander, I'm Captain Haven, I'm your doctor during your stay in Intermediate. I know you're hurting right now, and I'll give you something for it in a minute, but first I need to ask you some questions."

Captain Haven puts Steve through a complete Neuro check before he finally sets the pump to release a pain reliever into Steve's IV. They can watch how it starts working almost instantly.

The pain lines edged onto his forehead for the last minutes smooth out; his breathing that was bordering on panting, evens out; his whole body visibly relaxes.

"Thank you," Steve whispers almost to himself after the burning pain is down to a mild throbbing. It still hurts if he so much as takes a deep breath, but he can live with that. As long as it doesn't feel like his arm is being ripped out and a red hot poker is being pushed into the gaping wound. That's gross. Yeah, but that's how it feels. Steve has to chuckle at the picture he just came up with. Right out of a zombie movie. Wow, you are high again. That actually makes him giggle.

His friends look at him in amusement. "You feel better?" Danny can't quite keep the smile out of his voice.

"Hmm, lots better." Steve looks back at him; it's obvious that he's doped up to the gills. "No zombies anymore," he mumbles and grins up at his friend.

"Do we want to know what you're talking about?" Danny asks for all of them.

"Prob'ly not."

"Commander, Major Winchester will come see you in a little while to discuss your options," Captain Haven tells Steve.

"Options?"

"He will tell you all about it. Also the neurologist will do some more tests as soon as you're up to it. Do you have any questions?"

"What about some of the tubes and wires?" Steve suddenly remembered the uncomfortable feeling below his belt.

"Sorry, but you need all of it at the moment. After Major Winchester talks to you, we'll see if we can free you of one or the other." He turns and addresses Steve's friends, "If you have any questions later on, please tell the nurses and they'll get a hold of me."

"Thank you, Captain, we certainly will," JoJo tells him.

They watch Captain Haven leave and turn back to Steve. But it's obvious that he's in a drug induced haze.

An hour later Steve emerges a bit from his 'trip' just in time for Major Winchester to arrive. "Commander, good to see you doing a lot better."

"Have we met?" Steve thinks that he looks kind of familiar, but he's not sure.

"Yes, but I was pretty sure you wouldn't remember. I operated on you when you were brought in on Monday. And we talked briefly when you woke up in the ICU and I took the chest tube out. But you started seizing right after being ex-tubated from the vent, so don't worry that you don't remember any of it. That is perfectly normal." Winchester assures not just Steve but also his friends, who he addresses next, "Would you all excuse us for a few minutes, I need to talk to Commander McGarrett."

"I'm sure Steve won't mind us staying," Danny looks at Steve for confirmation.

"I don't mind," Steve agrees with his friend. He's pretty sure he will tell them later anyway.

"I do. So please," Winchester motions to the door, "go get some coffee or something. We won't take long."

Major Winchester waits for them to leave, which they do reluctantly. They just don't want to leave their friend alone.

"What is that all about?" Steve asks his doctor.

"I just think you should have the opportunity to make the decision about what I'm going to tell you without them pressuring you in any way. I have seen this very often and I always talk to my patients alone as long as they are able to make their own decisions," Andy tells his patient. "And I'm sure you are able."

"Okay. But they wouldn't pressure me into any decision." Steve is sure that his friends will respect his opinion about… whatever this is about.

"Don't be so sure about that, Commander. They almost lost you." Winchester busies himself for a moment with the monitors behind Steve before he sits down in the chair Cath has occupied the last hours. "Commander, I don't know if you are aware of how incredibly lucky you have been. A few days ago we told your friends that you wouldn't make it."

Steve looks at his doctor a bit startled, he knew that he was seriously injured, but had no idea that they were informed that he wouldn't make it. He doesn't know what to say, and can only imagine how hard that must have been for all of them.

"You are a tough fighter, McGarrett. You made it through the first twenty-four-hours when none of us professionals thought you would. Only your friends had no doubt about the outcome."

That actually makes Steve smile, "they know me better than you do, I guess."

"That is true. Commander, when you were brought in, we had to stop the bleeding in your abdomen; that was our major concern. You had lost a huge amount of blood and the bullet ripped through your abdomen and did a lot of damage to your intestines and even nicked your kidney. I can't point out enough that it is a miracle that you survived." Winchester pauses a moment to see if Steve is still able to follow his words.

"An injury like that to the kidney normally leads to bleeding out, not matter what one does. Adding to that was also a nicked artery. Not to mention the waste that spilled into your abdominal cavity. It was a lot of work cleaning that up."

"I was pretty bad off." Steve interrupts and for the first time realizes that he came really close to dying. Probably closer than ever before.

"Yes, you were. We also removed the bullet or rather, fragments of a bullet from your shoulder. That is why we are talking right now," Winchester tells Steve and can see that he is processing every word he is saying. It's a huge improvement from the last time he was talking to the commander. "We had to abort that part of the surgery because you were crashing."

"What do you mean, abort?"

"There was a lot of damage to your shoulder. The shoulder joint is one of the most delicate joints of the body, and it affects the whole upper body if something is not working properly. The bullet fragmented after it shattered your clavicle. The biggest part embedded into your shoulder blade, cracking it. The smaller fragments did a lot of damage to muscle, tendons and nerves."

"That doesn't sound good."

"No. If we leave it like this, you won't be able to use your arm. You wouldn't even be able to lift your arm or rotate your shoulder. Now, we have two choices, we could wait until you're more stable and then take the last fragments out. That would be the safe option."

"But?"

"But that would also mean that you would lose the use of your shoulder. With physical therapy you might be able to get 30 to 40 percent function back. That is not as bad as it sounds."

"That is worse than it sounds. 40 percent." Steve shakes his head, already going with option two whatever that might be. "What is option two?"

"We operate now. It is still soon enough to repair most of the damage, the longer we wait the less likely is a recovery. But that operation will be risky, we fear that you are not stable enough for a lengthy operation. And there is no guarantee that you will get full function back. But you would at least have a fifty/fifty chance. Without the surgery now, you will lose most of the functions of your right arm. But you will be alive."

"We can't wait with the second option?"

"No, the sooner the better. It's already almost too late to repair the damage. Some nerves will not be repairable. Even in the best case scenario, you will most likely regain about 90 to 95 percent. But that will not hinder you in any significant way, as long as you don't want to become a contortionist." Winchester smiles at Steve's doubtful look.

"So, the bottom line is, I either wait and lose the function of my arm; or I risk an operation now that might or might not give me function of my arm back?"

"That pretty much sums it up, yeah. Do you want to discuss it with your friends?"

"No. When would you operate?"

"If you decide to have the repair operation… right now. Otherwise we would wait about a week."

"Okay. Then let's do this now."

"One more thing. If your condition begins to deteriorate in the OR we will abort. Just so you know that we might not be able to finish the operation."

"I understand."

"Good. I will secure an OR and be back to do your prep in about half an hour. Tell your friends what is going to happen. Or do you want me to tell them?"

"No, thank you, I'll do it." Steve watches as Major Winchester leaves the room and thinks how best to tell his friends.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

It was easier than Steve thought to tell his friends about the immediate operation. They were very understanding and now he watches them standing quietly while he is being prepped to be taken to have surgery on his damaged shoulder.

One of the nurses has already injected a sedative into his IV and he finds it very hard to keep his eyes open. It is not putting him to sleep but he feels even more detached from his body than the pain killer had already made him feel. Steve has no doubt that he made the right decision and is glad that his friends didn't question it.

"Commander, we're going to take you to the OR now. Just relax, you will be fine in no time," the nurse who injected his earlier sedative tells him.

They disconnected him from all the monitors and it's a bit unnerving not to hear the low beeping of the heart monitor. But he was glad to be rid of the electrodes on his head. Of course the new operation means that the damn Foley will stay a little bit longer. But at the moment he is so doped up that he doesn't even feel it.

"Hey, Sailor. You behave yourself. We will be waiting for you," Cath softly tells him as she bends down and kisses him goodbye.

"Hmm, I will."

"We'll see you soon, Steve." Danny grabs his left hand and smiles encouraging at him.

"You see, everything will work out," JoJo says as she leans over him.

"JoJo," Steve softly calls out to her.

"Yeah?" JoJo bends down a little more.

"Please take care of Cath for me," Steve asks her as his eyes are closing. He is finally giving in to the sedation.

"I promise." JoJo gently kisses his forehead before he is wheeled out of the room, again leaving his friends to wait for the outcome of yet another operation.

"He will be fine, he will be fine," Cath is telling no one in particular. She's not even sure if she wants to convince just herself or the others.

"He will be. Cath, he will be." Danny is not so sure about it, he thinks it is way too soon for his friend to have another operation. He just woke up. He doesn't quite understand how the surgeons can take him back so soon. Of course he understands that the damage needs to be repaired, but at what cost?

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

When Steve opens his eyes again he looks into the smiling face of Major Winchester, who is looking down at him.

"Welcome back, Commander. I'm happy to tell you that the operation went without a hitch. There was less nerve damage than we feared. I'm very optimistic that you will, maybe not fully recover, but at least up to 95 percent."

"Thank you," Steve says very low. His throat hurts and he is slightly nauseous. Both caused by the narcosis and the ventilator he was on during surgery.

"How do you feel? Any pain?"

"Sick. But no, doesn't hurt," Steve answers truthfully. He can't even feel his shoulder or his other gunshot wound.

"That's good, we will keep it that way for a little while. Don't worry about the nausea, we will give you something for it."

Steve can hear him speaking to another person and is sure he just gave instructions for some anti-nausea medication. Which would come in handy before he pukes.

"We will keep you in recovery for another couple of hours, and then transfer you back to your room in Intermediate Care. Commander, you did really good. We are very happy about your vitals," Andy tells him how surprised they all were at how well Steve held up during the four hour surgery. "Please try not to move your shoulder or your arm."

Steve thinks that is a ridiculous request since his shoulder is thickly bandaged and his arm immobilized to his chest. He is bandaged like a mummy, not even his fingers are peeking out. He couldn't move his arm even if he wanted to. Which he doesn't, remembering the incredible pain his last try caused.

"I'm going to inform your friends, and they will wait for you in your room. I'll tell you about the operation later today, when you're more aware. Go back to sleep, you will feel better when you wake up." Winchester watches his patient fighting sleep for a minute until he gives in and nods off.

As promised, Steve is transferred two hours later to his room where his friends are already waiting. But he doesn't do them the favor of waking up, he sleeps right on.

"You should all go to your hotel, I doubt McGarrett is going to wake up any time soon. It's his normal way of reacting to any narcosis. It's marked in his file that he always has a hard time shaking the anesthesia," Winchester informs them after checking his patient. "Go and get a good night's sleep. Come back in the morning, I promise he will be awake by then."

"He will be okay?"

"Yes, Captain. There can, of course, be unforeseen complications but we have already downgraded him to stable. It almost seems that the surgery gave his whole condition a boost. He is doing well."

"This is going so fast. I mean it was like yesterday he was dying and today you're telling us he is well." Danny is still very suspicious.

"No, I didn't say he was well, Detective. I said he is doing well. He has a long road of recovery ahead of him. A painful recovery. His shoulder injury is very serious and he will need to work hard to get full function back. He will be in a lot of pain not just from that injury, but also from his abdominal wound as well. And he's looking at a few weeks' stay here before he can be flown back to Hawaii. But all in all, he was very lucky, and I'm optimistic that he will make a full recovery. And that is something I wouldn't have bet on a few days ago. But that is how it is, when someone rounds a corner it can go really fast. Either way."

All present are very happy that Steve rounded the corner the right way. No matter how hard or long his road back will be, they will be there along the way.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

Chapter Text

PD – Chapter 40

Steve leisurely stretches in bed and happily notices that there is only a slight twinge in his right shoulder. The last few weeks of physical therapy had been very hard and painful, but Steve was determined to get the full range of motion back. He still hasn't fully reached that goal yet but he will.

When he woke up after getting shot, it took him almost a week to leave the ICU for good, with a short stop in intermediate care. For three days he had suffered seizures and his blood pressure wouldn't stabilize. After he was finally stable enough to be moved to a regular room, he spent another three weeks in D.C. before his transport back to Hawaii. His friends all had to return to Hawaii after the first week, but Ducky and Gibbs had come by the hospital as often as they could.

Unfortunately, he had missed most of their visits the second week. After the surgery to repair his torn shoulder, he had spent most of the time sleeping his days away. He had been happy to fly home, even though the long flight had not been pleasant. Once he arrived back in Hawaii, he had been content to lie in bed for the additional week he'd spent at Queens Medical Center. Every little jostling or even just breathing had sent waves of pain through his shoulder and upper chest, not to mention the pain the extensive bruising on his lower back, belly and groin had caused. His first movements out of bed had been excrutiating , but it had gotten better when he had come home and had started doing exercises in the water after he had been allowed to swim. Being in the ocean did not just help his healing shoulder muscles but it did even more for his mental health.

But those three weeks in D.C. had taken a huge toll not only on his body, but also on his mind.

Walter Reed, Washington D.C., eight days after the shooting

Steve almost wishes he could just lie back down and black out again. But that is not gonna happen any time soon. His therapist is relentless and pushes him to go just a little further. *Go*. Yeah right. You're not *going* anywhere. Steve chuckles at that thought.

"What's so funny?" Ron Ember, his therapist, asks him. Ron is standing in front of Steve and helps him to keep his balance while sitting on the edge of the bed.

It's the second day that Steve is actually upright and not just lying in bed. Although he hasn't yet managed to leave the bed completely. He barely manages to sit on the edge of it. That is what made him laugh.

"Nothing," Steve answers and tries to suppress the groan that wants to escape. His last dose of pain meds was a while ago and all his injuries are making themselves known again.

"You wanna try and stand up?" Ron looks at his patient and readies himself to help the injured man if he decides to give getting up a try.

"No, don't think so. Can I lay down now?" Steve's dizzy and he's sure if he tried to stand right now he would face plant in a spectacular way. Besides, he can wait a few hours before trying again. It's not like he's going anywhere anytime soon.

"Of course. We go about it just like last time, let me help you get down onto your side. Just relax, Steve, I've got you," Ron tells Steve as he gently lowers him back down, careful to avoid jostling the heavily bandaged shoulder. But no matter how careful he is, Ron knows it's very painful, not only from the shoulder but also from the abdominal wound.

Contracting the muscles around the gunshot wounds is sending waves of pain through his body and leaves Steve panting, lying on his side, trying to slow his breathing. "Shit."

Ron has to smile at the softly spoken explicit. "I think we need to shorten the intervals between your injections. You're obviously in pain." Ron looks down at his patient and doesn't like the pallor and slight sheen of sweat on his face. "Steve, can you turn onto your back?"

Ron Ember doesn't wait for an answer but practically moves Steve onto his back and a moment later straps an oxygen mask on him. "Come on, take some deep breaths, you will feel better."

Steve can feel how the added air is chasing away the dizziness that threatened to overwhelm him a moment ago. Or maybe it was just laying back down that made him feel better, either way he's glad he avoided being sick. Yesterday he had not been so lucky, and dry heaving with a busted shoulder and a barely held together abdomen was no fun.

Now he just needed some relief from the pain that had increased in the last few minutes and he'd be reasonably happy. Well, happy might be too strong a word, but he would settle for content.

The beeping of the pump that controls his medication can be heard and Steve knows that it won't be long until the powerful drug will do its job. He welcomes the drug but just as much hates the need for it. The strong pain killers always put him in a haze for half an hour before his head clears again. The interval between doses gives him about 90 minutes of feeling like he is actually in the room and not on a drug induced 'happy trip'. After that, the next dose changes him back into the 'drooling phase' as he has named it.

He had talked to his doctor about that effect, but he was not willing to switch Steve to a non-narcotic pain reliever although he promised to evaluate Steve again in a couple of days. He might even let him try his first food by then. Up until now he's remained on TPN, which gives him all the nutrition he needs through his IV but doesn't enter his digestive system, which needs a few more days to heal before it can handle food. Stitched up intestines are not so good for processing food.

"Steve, do you feel better?" Ron can clearly see that his patient is strongly affected by the drug given to him. He knows that the commander probably hates losing control like this, but Ron also knows that he needs the strong meds for another few days.

"Hmm." Steve's already drifting, so his answer is not very coherent.

"It's okay, Steve, just relax."

Ron finishes gathering his stuff when Steve's friends arrive. He met them yesterday and thinks they have a good influence on Steve's recovery, so he's happy to see them again. "Hey, Danny. You're not planning on giving Steve any of that, are you?" Ron motions to the bag with the Subway logo on it. The fast food restaurant downstairs is very popular, but Steve isn't ready for that yet.

"No, of course not. It's for us, we wanted to have lunch with Steve. We thought he might get some Jell-O by now?"

"No, not for another couple of days. Don't give him anything to eat or drink other than water, even if he asks for it. But I doubt he will," he adds almost as an afterthought. "He's not feeling so well. PT took a lot out of him," Ron tells them as he motions to the now sleeping Steve.

"How is he doing?" Catherine stands next to the bed and looks down at her injured friend.

"Actually amazing if you consider his condition just a few days ago. But he's hurting, his shoulder hurts a lot, and the bruises on his lower body are keeping him from getting up. I think he will manage to stand up tomorrow. He was almost there today, but the pain got too bad, so we had to stop."

"I thought he's still on strong pain killers?" Danny wonders why his friend would be in so much pain that he couldn't even do his PT.

"He is. But that doesn't mean the pain can't get overwhelming at times. He just received another dose, so he should sleep for maybe an hour. When he wakes up, if he feels better, he can take the oxygen mask off." Ron grabs his gear and says his goodbye.

Forty five minutes later, a sleepy Steve joins the three friends in conversation. "Hey," Steve mumbles as he changes into a more upright position. It still hurts to sit up fully, but a half sitting position is bearable. He struggles a bit with the mask.

"Hey yourself. Have a nice nap?" Danny moves over to the bed to greet his partner and helps him take off the oxygen mask.

"Yeah," Steve yawns more than actually speaks the word and then he smiles at Danny thinking about how day by day more memories of his time in the ICU are surfacing. Gibbs' threat to tell where the bullet hit him all those years back; Catherine's pleading with him not to leave her; JoJo's hand holding; Ducky's encouraging words; Max's awkward thank you and of course Danny's whispered "Danno loves you".

"What are you smiling at?" Danny looks at his still grinning friend.

"Just happy to see you guys."

"What, you're getting all emotional on us again?" Danny still wonders if his friend didn't suffer brain damage after all. His behavior the last two days has been more than odd. For the first time, at least that Danny can remember, Steve had been expressing his feelings freely. He told all of them repeatedly how much he loves them and how sorry he is that he couldn't respond when they were pouring their hearts out while he was in ICU, just listening to them.

"No, just glad you're here, Danno." Steve knows that he's not acting normal, but he can't help it. Ever since he woke up he's been so darn happy to be alive. He has never felt this euphoric before. He has the suspicion that they are giving him drugs to feel that way, but his doctor assured him that was not the case. His doctor thinks he simply realized how close to dying he had come and that he's eternally grateful to have made it. Steve knows that Danny thinks he's brain damaged, and if this emotional phase doesn't stop soon, Steve is likely to agree with him.

"WE are happy to see you too," Cath says to Steve as she bends down to give him a proper hello. But at the same time, she glares at Danny to tell him to stop making fun of Steve's emotional state. "How do you feel?"

"Not too bad, but I couldn't stand up," Steve is a bit frustrated about his inability to find his way out of bed. He really wants to, but every time he's sat on the edge of it, the pain and dizziness has been so overwhelming that he has rather quickly abandoned the plan to stand up, much to his own and Ron's frustration. It seems that his therapist takes it as a personal failure if his patient doesn't manage to accomplish his goal.

"Don't worry about it, Steve. I'm sure you'll be running around soon enough." JoJo finally finds her way to his side and embraces him in a very gentle hug.

"I'm sure the 'running part' won't happen any time soon," Steve tells her with a sad undertone. Today he saw the angry bruises on his lower belly and groin for the first time. They cover the whole right half of his belly and continue all the way down his right thigh. He was just grateful that Donaldson only kicked him once in a really painful place and that he wasn't conscious for any of it. There was no damage done and even the kicks to his belly didn't injure him further. He is still in a lot of pain, but the bruises will fade without any lasting effect.

Today is also the first day that his shoulder and upper body are not completely bandaged. His shoulder and arm are immobilized with a special sling that keeps his arm bent and his shoulder mostly still. The wounds are only covered by thick soft gauze pads.

They had used a plate to put his shattered clavicle back together. That way he can start with PT on his shoulder in a few days. Dr. Winchester told him that the repair on his shoulder went better than expected and if he worked hard he should get good results on rotation and strength.

"Your therapist said you're doing really well. He was just leaving when we came in," Danny tells him about their encounter with Ron Ember.

Steve can only snort at that, "yeah right. I can't even sit up on my own, let alone stand up."

"Well, in that case they won't have any problem keeping you where you're supposed to be. In your bed!" JoJo grins at him, knowing how much he hates to lie in bed, doing nothing.

"Very funny," Steve says in mock anger but with a smile on his face.

"Did you talk to Chin and Kono today?" Catherine asks about their friends back in Hawaii. They still hope they might be able to come for a visit, now that they know Steve has to stay here at least another three weeks.

"No, not yet. Mary was here all morning and then I had PT, and now you guys are here."

"Mary left?" Danny had been wondering about his sister since they came in a few minutes ago. She had said she would be here.

"Yeah, she got a call from the airline. They asked her if she could take over for someone, and I told her to go."

"Why?"

"Why what, Danny?"

"Why do you push her away?"

"I didn't push her away! Danny, it's the first time that she has held a job for longer than a couple of weeks. She loves it. I want her to be happy and keep that damn job. She needs that. Can't you understand that?" Steve gets aggravated and a little angry, even though he doesn't know why.

"Hey, calm down. We get it. But you need her too. She's your sister."

"Yeah, and I love her, but she gets on my nerves. I'm glad she had to go back to New York." Steve paused, and then grins, finally admitting, "She's a pain in the ass."

"When will she be back?" Danny wants to know. He's a bit sad that Mary has gone; that makes it a bit harder to tell Steve that they also have to leave.

"I don't know, but not this week. Maybe next weekend," Steve says and already knows why Danny is asking about Mary. He was wondering when they would tell him that they have to go back to Hawaii. Steve talked to the Governor this morning, who asked for Danny to come back.

"We were hoping that Mary would stay with you for a while…"

"It's okay, Danny. I know you have to go back. Denning called this morning. And I'm sure your emergency leave is also up," Steve says as he looks at Cath and JoJo.

"Steve, I'm sorry, but we have to report back to base tomorrow. We're on a flight at 1800 hours," Cath tells her friend. She takes his hand and squeezes it. None of them wants to leave him alone in Washington. "We talked to your doctor. We thought he might allow you to get on a medevac flight to Tripler, but he said not for a few weeks."

"I know. He said I would risk further injury to my shoulder on a bumpy flight. I'm not stable enough to make that trip, but, hey, I'm okay with that. You don't have to worry about me. It's not the first time that I've been here alone. It's actually not too bad here," Steve tells them even though he thinks it totally sucks to have to spend any length of time in this or any other hospital. And now even more so that his friends can't come to visit him.

"You know, Steve, you don't have to pretend to be brave with us." Danny looks at his friend and wants him to understand that they don't want to leave him behind.

"I don't want you to leave, Danny. I wish you could stay. Is that better?"

"No." Danny looks down, that was not what he expected. That much honesty and emotion from his stoic partner is a bit much to take.

"Hey, partner, don't take anything I'm saying too seriously. I'm pretty high right now." Steve grins at Danny. "But I do mean it when I say that I will miss all of you in the next three weeks. Or for however long they will keep me here."

"I will call every day," Cath tells him.

"Promise?"

"Yeah, I'm sure all your friends will call so often that you will wish for them to stop."

"Not gonna happen. Danny, maybe you can get Gracie on one of the video calls?" Steve asks a bit shyly, he's not sure if Danny is okay with his daughter seeing him injured.

"We will call you together tomorrow." Danny doesn't have to think twice about that answer. His daughter had already asked when she can see her Uncle Steve. And Danny thinks it's okay, it's not like Grace would see any of the terrible wounds Steve suffered. And Steve is talkative. So, no problem there either.

"Thank you."

They spend another half hour talking about everything and nothing until Steve receives his next dose of pain medication. "Sorry, guys… I won't be of much use… for a while," Steve can instantly feel the drug taking effect and his surroundings melt into a distorted picture with strange sound effects.

"JoJo, is it normal that he gets this high with every dose of his meds?" Danny asks as he watches his friend dozing, completely oblivious to his surroundings.

"Well, everyone reacts differently to such strong drugs. Steve has never tolerated narcotic drugs very well. I hope they can switch him to something else soon."

They watch as Steve drifts off to sleep.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Steve McGarrett's home, present time

In the first days of physical therapy he had almost no strength in his right arm due to the torn muscles and tendons. He couldn't even lift a glass of water. Now his strength is almost all back and it's no problem to hold any kind of gun. Just yesterday he re-qualified for handguns and rifles.

He has been back to full duty for over a week now, but he still wanted to do the tests, which he did yesterday and passed with a very decent score; not his best by far, but still above average.

After three months of medical treatment and extensive physical therapy and four weeks of desk duty he is almost back to normal with only a few surgical scars as a reminder of the moment he almost died. You did die. Without Max and Ducky you'd be dead. His inner voice reminds him again of how close this really had been.

"Did you sleep well?" Cath puts her hand on his stomach as he settles back down in bed after his morning stretching.

"Hmm, think so." Steve stretches again, but this time to claim a kiss from his girlfriend.

Catherine gently traces the still slightly pink scar on his midsection where the bullet came out of his body, after doing so much damage. Such a tiny piece of metal had ripped Steve apart, wreaked havoc from back to front. Almost killed him. Causing him almost to bleed to death. And the same bullet had ripped into a second person and had killed that one almost instantly. Catherine is always amazed at what such a small piece of metal does to a body. How devastating the impact of a bullet can be.

"Are you ready for Danny?" Cath knows what Danny is up to, but promised not to tell Steve. And she didn't.

"Not so sure about that. You think I'm ready?" All week Steve had tried to find out what his friend had planned for today, but no one was willing to say anything. After a few days he gave up and decided to give them the joy of surprising him.

"Relax, Steve, this is about having fun with your friends. It's not a test, jeez, sometimes you *are* dense," Cath tells him as she lets her hand wander from his stomach, making Steve moan with pleasure.

"Do we have time for this?" Steve is not willing to stop her, but knows that Danny will be on time.

"Plenty of time, don't worry."

And he doesn't, but instead gives in to her gentle ministrations.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

"Uncle Steve," Grace Williams calls out as soon as she lays eyes on her favorite uncle as she and her dad enter the house.

"Hey, Gracie," Steve greets his honorary niece with surprise in his voice when she practically tackles him. He shifts her over to his left hip, away from the injured right side. His shoulder is almost back to normal, but that doesn't mean he's ready to carry Grace's weight with his right arm. And his whole right side is a bit tender. He unconsciously protects the wounded areas; they still cause an occasional twinge of pain when he moves wrong or put pressure on an especially tender spot.

"Guess what, Uncle Steve!"

"What?"

"We will get to spend the whole morning together, just the two of us," Gracie tells Steve and beams at him.

"Really? And what are we doing?" Steve is a bit confused why he would be alone with Gracie. He thought Danny had something planned with him.

"That is a surprise, Uncle Steve," Grace says and shakes her head at Steve's question.

"Oh, and what is your dad doing while we do whatever we're doing?"

"He will wait for us, of course." Again with the head shake, like Steve doesn't know anything. Which he doesn't.

"Of course." Steve looks at Danny for clarification but his friend only shakes his head.

"Come on you two, let's go." Danny waves at Cath and ushers his daughter and his partner out of the house.

"Danny, where are we going?" Steve almost whines as he follows Grace rather reluctantly.

"It's a surprise, Steven. Didn't you listen to my daughter?"

"I hate surprises," Steve grumbles under his breath. "Danny! Tell me where we're going." Steve stopped next to the car and makes no move to get into it.

"Jesus, Steve, will you just relax and get in the car?" Danny looks exasperated at his partner.

"I'm not going anywhere until you tell me where we're going." Steve knows he's a bit silly, but he doesn't like where this is heading. He doesn't really want to spend time with Gracie all alone. He still remembers what Danny told him about his trust in people in psychological therapy.

"Are you serious?"

Steve looks down into the car, seeing that Gracie is busy finding her favorite station on the radio, and paying no attention to them at all. He still lowers his voice so he's sure that she won't hear them, "why does Gracie think we are spending the morning together? Alone."

"Because you are," Danny looks at his friend and wonders what Steve's problem is now.

"Maybe I don't want that," Steve says very softly, lowering his head and waiting for the storm that his statement will cause. He looks up in surprise when Danny suddenly stands very close to him.

"Steven, please just get in the car. I promise you have nothing to worry about. Okay?" Danny tells his friend calmly and with a gentle voice he only uses with his daughter when she is sick. And now obviously also with his dense partner. "Come on," Danny gently claps Steve on the back and motions for him to get in the car.

"Fine." Never having seen this side of his friend, he finally sits down in the Camaro.

"Why can't he be easy for once? But no, always making a thing out of everything…" Danny shakes his head on the way around the hood of his car and keeps mumbling to himself.

"I'm not making a *thing* out of everything," Steve says when Danny sits behind the wheel.

"Sure you do. Always need to know every little thing…"

"It's called 'attention to detail', it's a survival skill," Steve defends his tendency to scrutinize everything.

"Survival skill my ass…"

"Danno! That's a bad word. You have to pay up!" Gracie interjects from the back seat. "You're up to two-fifty for this week."

"How much do you charge, Gracie?" Steve is curious about the curse-word-rate.

"A quarter."

"Oh. And you're up to two fifty? Wow." Steve laughs at his partner.

"Hey, it was a tough week." Danny tries to defend his less than stellar record of cursing in front of Grace.

"I bet it was." Steve smiles at his friend.

"Shut up."

Giggles from the back seat and soft laughter from the passenger seat are the only sounds that can be heard over the grumbling of the driver and the softly playing radio.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

Danny Williams looks at his partner, who is quietly sitting in the passenger seat, staring out the window. His daughter has obviously realized that something is not quite right and took her iPod out and listens to her favorite songs.

"Steve?"

"Yeah?" Steve looks a bit startled as he turns to Danny.

"Did you hear from the Navy yet?" Danny knows that Steve is waiting for the results of his evaluation last week.

"No. I have the physical next week."

"But you had the eval last Friday. How did that go?" Danny had tried all week to get something out of Steve about it, but he had totally clammed up and hadn't said a word about it. "Did JoJo do it?"

"No. That would be a conflict of interest. Some captain from Washington came over for it."

"From D.C.? They flew someone in from Bethesda? Don't they have shrinks here in Hawaii?"

"She asked to do it," Steve tells him with disdain in his voice.

"Why?"

"Because she hates me." Steve knows that he's unfair and that she surely doesn't hate him; resent him is more like it.

"Oh-Kay. What did you do to her?" Danny looks at the back seat and after seeing that Grace is obviously still happily listening to her music turns his attention back to his friend. Or at least as much as he can while driving.

"Our last meeting didn't go so well, and she got reprimanded because of me," Steve tells his friend without revealing anything. He thinks it was not fair that she got called before the board; after all she might have saved his life.

"How so?"

Steve just now remembers that he never told his friends or Catherine about what happened a few days after he was left alone in Washington.

Washington D.C., Captain Billings' office, a little over three months ago

"Commander McGarrett, how are you this morning?" Captain Jen Billings looks at the man in front of her, who will be her patient for the next two weeks. Maybe longer if he has to stay more than the planned three weeks. She skimmed through his file and read that he's alone here with no relatives or friends to visit. They had to go back to Hawaii four days ago. That doesn't make it any easier for his recovery. She can see that he is obviously in some discomfort at the moment. His right arm is kept in a sling and she knows that he suffered severe injuries to his abdomen. Those injuries are the reason he is sitting in a wheelchair in front of her desk.

"Thank you, ma'am, I'm good."

"Well, Commander, I think your definition of good differs quite a bit from mine," she tells him with a smile on her face.

Steve looks at the captain sitting behind her desk and wonders not for the first time why he was ordered to come to her office. He even had to reschedule his PT for this visit. Granted he was not looking forward to another hour in the torture chamber but sitting in a shrink's office is even worse. "Ma'am, why am I here?"

"I take it you want to stay in the Navy?" Billings asks, but continues without waiting for an answer. It was a rhetorical question anyway. "Then this is mandatory. Commander, you suffered trauma we need to discuss. You were tortured and shot. I would like to work with you on that."

Steve can only stare at her. She can't really believe that he would talk to her about what happened? That is just ridiculous. "What do you mean 'work on that'?"

"Well, I know what you went through, and I want to help you overcome that trauma," she tells him, still with the same smile on her face.

"Oh, you're one of those," Steve tells her matter of factly, like it would explain everything.

"Commander, what do you mean?"

"One of those shrinks who think they *know* what it is like to be in combat or to get shot, or tortured, or whatever. When did you experience any violence first hand?" Steve looks at her challengingly and is again glad that JoJo never ever pretended to *know* what he had gone through.

"Well, I don't think one needs to experience a violent act to understand the horror of getting hit by a bullet. I can imagine what it must feel like…"

"Ah, but there is the difference, Captain, you said you *know* what it is like. You don't know anything. You can imagine all you want, but you will never *know*. And don't think this will get me engaged in a lengthy discussion of what it is like. That approach was tried by others long before you. Nice try though." Steve grins smugly at her. As smugly as he dares, after all she outranks him and could get him into trouble.

"Commander, whether you like it or not, we have to talk about it. I have to write a report, and I can't do that without you telling me about what happened. And without my report, well, you won't be declared fit to remain in the Navy. It is actually pretty simple," Captain Billings tells Steve the facts. She knew that he would not be willing to talk, but she didn't expect this kind of irritability and aggressiveness.

"Yeah, it will be, because I don't remember anything about it. I only know what my team told me. I have no recollection of it," Steve says as he looks her straight in the eye, daring her to question the truth behind his words.

"You don't remember what happened in the elevator?"

"No."

"And you don't remember what happened in the janitor's office, how you got injured?"

"No, I don't." Steve isn't really lying, he doesn't remember what happened. There are only flashes of memories, but nothing is in order and he has no desire to discuss any of that with a person he knows nothing about.

"Well, Commander other people long before you have tried this approach of not remembering. Nice try though," she throws his own words right back at him. "I don't buy it."

"You can believe whatever you want, but in case you haven't noticed, I was unconscious for three days, and I suffered seizures for almost a week. I lost almost three liters of blood and I died on the scene. If you really think I would even remember a shred of what led to that condition, well, as I said, believe what you want." Steve gets rather miffed at the captain, and his agitated state is not helping with his general feeling of being unwell.

He woke up this morning with a major headache and relentless pain on the right side of his abdomen. His shoulder is still aching mercilessly since last night after Ron rotated it for the first time. He was gentle and it was only a miniscule movement, but it almost made him scream.

"I'm not feeling well; I'd like to go back to my room now. Can you please call someone to take me?" Steve is not above asking for help when he needs it. And now he does need it. The pain in his side has reached a level he can no longer ignore.

Captain Billings looks at her patient and it's pretty obvious that he is in serious pain. He is ghostly white with a sheen of sweat on his forehead. And for the first time she asks herself if it was such a good idea to make him come to her instead of seeing him in his room. "You should have told me that you're not feeling well, Commander. Your doctor told me that you were allowed to travel in a wheelchair as long as you stay in it." Jen Billings comes around the desk and stands in front of Steve who has pressed his left hand on his abdomen. He has bent forward and can't stop a groan. His breath is labored and she can see the intense pain in his eyes. "I'm sorry I made you come here," Jen says as she lays her hand on his left shoulder.

Steve can only nod and closes his eyes, the room is suddenly spinning and he gets a sickening feeling in his stomach. Something is not right. It's so hard to keep his eyes open and remain sitting upright. There is such intense pain in his right side. He can hear the captain calling his name, but his head is so heavy all of a sudden and it feels like his brain is filled with cotton. And someone has dimmed the light; it's getting dark in the room and he has trouble making out the people around him. Where the heck did they come from and why is he lying down and suddenly moving?

Seeing the lights rushing by overhead makes him even more dizzy and nauseous. He must have lost time again, next thing he knows there are hands on him, moving him onto a cold hard surface. They are talking but he can't understand a word they are saying. Someone is pressing on his belly and he screams; that's the last he knows.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

"Commander! Commander McGarrett! Come on, open your eyes," Major Winchester calls out to his patient lying in recovery.

"G'way." Steve answers without even trying to open his eyes.

"Can't do that, McGarrett. Come on, wake up, you're long overdue." Andy is not giving up that easily on his stubborn patient who should have been awake an hour ago.

"Tired," Steve mumbles and hopes that might convince the annoying voice to shut up.

No such luck. "I know you're tired, and you can go back to sleep. But first I need you to come fully awake."

That doesn't make any sense and if he weren't so damn tired he would even voice his opinion, but it seems like a monumental effort and Steve just wants to go back to sleep. "Ugh… what?"

"That's it. Look at me, Commander."

Finally Steve manages to open his very uncooperative eyelids and looks at the guy in front of him. Why the heck am I back with Winchester? "What happened?"

"You tell me, Commander. You collapsed in Billings' office and were rushed to the OR. You were bleeding and by the amount of blood we found in your peritoneum you had been doing so for a few hours. Care to tell me what you did to tear a new hole into the artery I have stitched up twice before?"

"What?" Steve has no idea what his doctor is talking about. Bleeding? That thought makes him come fully alert.

"You must have been in a good amount of pain for a few hours. Why the heck didn't you say anything?" Andy Winchester can't believe the commander kept quiet about the discomfort he must have been in. Free flowing blood in the abdomen irritates the organs and causes severe pain over time. But Andy is not putting the blame solely on McGarrett; the nurses should have known that something was wrong from the elevated temperature and low blood pressure. But for some reason McGarrett's vitals were not taken this morning. An inquiry in that neglect is already on the way, there might even be charges of dereliction of duty for the nurse responsible.

Steve McGarrett was still on the 'close-watch-list', even though he was allowed to attend physical therapy at the therapy department. There was a whole list of tests that had to be done every day on a schedule to catch any problems early on. A simple cursory exam would have shown that something had been amiss with McGarrett this morning.

"It didn't hurt much until later when I was with Captain Billings, and it all went downhill so fast…" Steve can't quite grasp what really happened.

"It's okay. But I still would like to know what you did last night. You have a pretty nasty bruise above your hip."

While Winchester is talking he hangs a new bag of saline on the hanger that already holds two IV bags.

"I woke up last night and needed to use the bathroom…"

"Did you call a nurse?"

"Um, no. I felt good and got out of bed without much problem. I went to the bathroom and everything was fine, but then I got dizzy and… uhm, kind of stumbled a bit…" Steve is blushing thinking about how his aim had been slightly off. "I… uhm, kind of fell against the sink."

"You hit the sink with your side?" Winchester asks sternly.

"Yeah, but nothing happened. I was fine, I mean it hurt a bit." Steve knows that's the understatement of the week, but he WAS fine a minute later. "I grabbed on to the sink and a minute later the dizziness was over and I went back to bed. No big deal."

"No big deal?" Winchester shakes his head at that comment. He knows that types like Steve don't mean to be difficult. They simply can't see that it's not always in their best interest to do everything on their own, not matter how good they might feel. "Commander, there is a reason that you were not allowed to walk around on your own. Your blood pressure is still fluctuating, that is why you got dizzy. With your injuries, every fall could have devastating consequences. What if you had fallen and busted your shoulder? I don't have to tell you what that would mean."

"No. I'm sorry, I just…"

"I know. It's okay, just don't do it again. You will stay in your bed from now on. No wandering around. If you have to go somewhere you WILL call for help. Do you understand me?"

"Yes, I do." Steve is well aware that he could have gotten hurt a lot more than he obviously did. "Why am I here?" Steve asks and motions around the room.

"You're in recovery. You had surgery; we had to repair what your stumble caused. It was not too serious, just a tiny hole next to the stitches. Something like that can happen even without added trauma. The stitches stretch the artery walls and sometimes that causes another leak. But it is unusual to happen after almost two weeks, so I think your fall caused it."

"So, I'm back to square one?" Steve shifts a little in bed to get more comfortable, but that only results in a spike of pain in his shoulder.

"No. As I said it was not that bad. We didn't even need to do open surgery."

"For not being too bad it hurt like hell," Steve grumbles while still trying to find a less painful position for his arm.

"I know. The blood in the abdomen can cause severe pain, adding that to the blood loss and the onset of shock, you were quite miserable. Lucky for you, Dr. Billings knew right away what was happening and called for help. You were in the OR in a matter of minutes."

"Oh, okay." Steve's not happy that he obviously has to thank the shrink for getting away mostly intact. Damn.

Winchester grins at his patient, knowing what he is thinking about seeing the psychiatrist. "We will get you back to your room in a couple of hours. Go back to sleep, Commander."

Even though Steve was able to follow the conversation easily he has no trouble going back to sleep in a matter of seconds.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

"What the heck, Steve? You had surgery? Why is this the first time I hear about it?" Danny looks almost accusingly at his friend.

"It was no big deal, and I didn't feel the need to worry any of you," Steve tells his partner. It really was like that; when they talked on the phone after his third surgery he was fine and didn't feel like sharing his not so smart move of getting out of bed on his own. There was no harm done and he simply didn't want to worry them with something that was already dealt with. And later it never came up again.

"Does Cath know?"

"No. And please don't tell her. I'll do that when it comes up again. Danny, really it was no big deal. No harm done."

"I beg to differ, but okay. Now why would Captain Billings…" Danny looks at Steve and continues after he nods, "be punished? Looks to me like she made sure you got help as soon as possible."

"That's what I thought. I actually went to her and thanked her for her quick reaction. But my physician saw that very differently. She talked to him before ordering me to come see her, but she never asked him if it was okay for me to go to her office. I had only permission to go to PT, and that only under supervision." Steve still thinks it's not fair, she did ask if he was allowed out of bed. She might not have been specific, but to officially reprimand her was a bit much in his eyes. He might not like her, but she was only trying to do her job.

"That is pretty harsh," Danny says as they stop at a red light. "So, how did it go last week?"

Steve looks at his friend; he knows that he had dodged his questions all week. He is well aware that Danny only asks out of concern. "Not good. I total tanked it. I don't really wanna talk about it."

"Okay. But if you ever want to, you know where to find me."

"I know, Danny." They both know hell will freeze over before Steve will talk about his psych problems with Danny. He will talk to his friend about everything, except that. But they are both okay with it.

"I hope it will work out."

"Yeah, me too." Steve's not sure what he will do if he didn't pass the psych evaluation. He doesn't even know if that would affect his status as head of Five-0. After all, they have evaluations every six months as well. But he never had a problem with that. Well, sure you don't, they don't have your classified Navy file. Steve has to grin at that thought.

"What's so funny?" Danny likes to see his friend smile and getting into a slightly more relaxed mood, but wonders what brought about that change.

"Nothing," Steve tells Danny just as they arrive at their destination. Which lets the smile disappear just as fast as it came on.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*

 

"What are we doing here? Danny?" Steve looks at his friend who just put the car in park in the parking lot of 'Makani Kai Helicopters'.

"You and Gracie are finally taking that long promised flight over the island," Danny tells Steve.

"What?"

"Isn't that great, Uncle Steve? Can we fly out over the ocean and look for dolphins or whales? Please, can we?" Gracie could hardly wait to finally be sitting in a helicopter with her Uncle Steve and looking for any kind of marine life. As soon as they reached the small airport, her iPod was back in her backpack and she was ready to go.

"Who are we flying with?" Steve tries to ignore the excited Grace for a minute.

"Just you and Grace," Danny tells him, but looks a bit strange at Steve whose face he cannot name right now. Happy or joyful would not come to mind.

"Who is sponsoring this? Danny, renting a helicopter for half a day costs a small fortune. Who is paying for this?"

"Will you just stop with the interrogation? If you must know, Stan is paying for it. It was Gracie's wish for her birthday, and he was happy to do it. I provide the pilot and he rented the chopper," Danny says with a smile. By now he's okay with accepting this gift from Stan for his daughter.

"Uncle Steve, can we go now?"

Danny watches his friend looking with an almost pained expression at his daughter and he suddenly gets the feeling that this was a horrible idea. It never occurred to him that Steve might not be able to fly. "Gracie, first we need to meet with Gabby. And Steve and I need to talk to the man who's giving us the helicopter. Okay?" Danny is by now next to the car and helps his daughter climb out of it.

"Will that take long?"

"No, Monkey, not very long. You and Gabby can get some ice-cream," Danny tells his daughter as he waves to Gabby who had just arrived. He had planned to spend the time with her while his partner and daughter were on their trip. Now he is not even sure that flight will happen.

Looking over to his very quiet friend makes him feel a bit uneasy.

"Steve, it's so good to see you well again." Dr. Asano greets Steve with a handshake and a bright smile.

"Hi, Gabby. Thank you, how are you doing?"

"Fine. I heard you two are going on an exciting trip," she says to Grace, but looks questioningly at Danny and Steve.

"Yeah. Steve and I need to clear some formalities with the owner. Could you maybe take Grace for a few minutes, they have a small diner over there. I'm sure they have ice cream or pie."

"Okay, sure. Grace, are you ready for some ice cream?"

"If we must," Grace tells her without a shred of enthusiasm. She doesn't understand what the delay is all about.

Danny watches his two girls leave and turns his gaze over to his partner, who is standing a bit forlornly next to the Camaro. Steve is rotating his shoulder in very small circles. Danny has seen him do that quite a few times, and he's not sure if Steve developed a tick after being injured or if his shoulder is still causing him pain.

"Steve, I'm sorry. Are you okay?"

"You should have told me, Danny."

"Yeah, you're right. I wasn't thinking. I thought with you being cleared for full duty, I thought you'd be fine to fly…"

"I am. It's not that." Steve looks at his friend, and can see that he has really no clue what makes him feel uncomfortable with spending time with Grace alone.

"So, you're not in pain? Your shoulder is okay?"

"Mostly, yeah."

"Then, Steve, what is it? Why don't you want to spend time with my daughter, which I might add you should see as a privilege," Danny tells his friend, hoping to lighten the mood a little.

"Danny, you know I love Gracie. I'm always happy to spend time with her. Or with the two of you," Steve says and pauses to gather his thoughts. "I told you on the flight to D.C. that we need to talk. We haven't done that yet, Danny."

"This is still about that?"

"Yes. Danny, you said some pretty heavy things. You practically said you don't trust me. You said you wouldn't want to fly with someone like me. You accused me of being unstable and a danger to everyone who comes near me…"

"Now, wait a minute, I never said that. Steve, that is not true." Danny looks at his friend and it's clear to him that Steve really believes that he thinks or at least thought that.

"Yes, you did. You didn't name me, but you said people like Lt. Miller, and Danny, I'm just like him. And now you want me to fly Gracie around. Danny, you make me feel like you're setting me up to fail your test. It's not fair to just throw me into this situation without asking me first. What if I'm not able to fly, maybe I don't feel comfortable flying just yet. You ever thought about that?"

"Steve, this is not a test. I thought it would show you that I trust you completely. With my daughter and to have my back. I'm sorry, Steve. About what I said back then, and about springing this on you like this." Danny can see that his friend is willing to listen to him, so he continues. "I said some pretty dumb stuff back on the base. I've had a lot of time to think about that. Back then I believed what I said, that Miller was unstable and that I wouldn't want to fly with him. I believed that people seeking therapy must be crazy, why would they need a shrink if they weren't?" Danny doesn't like 'annoyrism' face making an appearance so he is quick to keep going, "but I realized that I was wrong about that. I realized that everyone can face a situation in his or her life that can't be mastered alone. And that there is nothing wrong with seeking help."

"I'm still seeing JoJo twice a week for some issues," Steve tells Danny softly, still not sure what his friend thinks about that.

"I know. And I think it's a good thing if it helps you. Steve, I'm deeply sorry that I not only hurt your feelings but also that I put you in a category with delusional people who are *crazy*. I am sorry that I treated you that way. You deserve better. I'm sorry."

This was not what Steve had expected. He knew that Danny was sorry about what he said, but he didn't expect his friend to really think about his words. To think about why people are seeking therapy, and that not everyone who is seeking help is a lunatic. Which was Danny's opinion a while back. But it seems to Steve that he isn't placing everyone in the same pot anymore.

"Okay."

"Okay?"

"Yeah, okay. I believe that you have really thought about this. That's all what I ever wanted. That you think about what you said to me. I knew you were sorry, but that was not what this was about, Danny. So, thank you." Steve smiles at his friend, happy to have this finally out of the way.

"Okay. Good. Can we now get Grace and get the two of you on the way?" Danny starts to make his way over to the diner, but is halted by Steve.

"No. Why don't you and Gabby come with us?"

"But the whole plan was to show you that I trust you with Gracie," Danny starts to argue.

"Danny, I know that. But we don't really need to go through that now, do we? You never did not trust me with Grace, did you?"

"No. I trust you with my life and of course with Gracie's. I know you would do anything to keep her safe."

"Then let's all go. Unless you don't like to fly with me?" Steve couldn't quite resist, "maybe you're a bit apprehensive to fly over nothing but water?"

"What? No, you moron! I just thought you might like to spend time with my precious daughter, but fine if you don't want to," Danny rants in mock anger, arms flailing as he marches off to get his daughter and girlfriend. Leaving a grinning Steve behind.

He started to follow Danny when his phone rang. Reaching for the phone he checked the screen before hesitantly taking Dr. Billings' call. After a few moments, he replied, "thank you".

Releasing the call, he smiled in relief. Seems to him that everything is finally back to normal.

 

*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*