Chapter 1: A Time to Heal
“Danny! Oh god, Danny…hang on, babe!” Clambering out from under his partner and kneeling by his side, Steve ran shaky hands up and over his head, fingers digging into his scalp as he tried to make sense of the scene around him, make sense of what he was seeing, the bang of the single gun shot still resonating in his ears.
He managed to grip the Velcro of Danny’s flak jacket, ripping it open and lifting the whole thing over Danny’s head, despite the moans and pants of protest. "Oh god, Danno, I’m so sorry,” he eased Danny as gently as he could on to his back, “You’re gonna be fine. They’re almost here, just hold on.”
Please hold on.
"It’s not even that bad, Danno,” he lied, pressing down with both hands hard, watching the blooming red stain on the once white dress shirt, and Danny pulling his legs up, curling in against the pain.
The gun shot had hit Danny low and to the side of his belly, below were his vest was, but Steve couldn’t tell if there was an exit wound, knowing he shouldn’t roll his partner to check.
What the hell just happened?
One minute Steve was holding his gun steady on Davis and the next? The next he was laid out flat on the ground with Danny bleeding all over him.
Steve kept up the brutal pressure, blood leaking between his entwined fingers, looking into his partner’s terrified face.
Danny’s eyes were blown wide with panic and he struggled for each and every breath, making short, aborted, choking noises as blood filled the back of his throat, seeping out and trickling down and over the corner of his mouth, over his chin and on to the collar of the white dress shirt.
Kono appeared beside him, putting something into his hands and he took it, balling it up and pressing it back into Danny, trying to stem the flow of blood.
He didn’t spare her a look, but he knew she was just as worried as he was.
They all were.
This was bad.
He wanted to ask her what had happened to Davis, where the shot had come from, what they had…what he had missed? But damnit, Danny was bleeding out in front of him, and that was all he could think about right now.
So he closed his eyes and took a deep breath, held it. The flashing red and blue lights beat behind his eye lids and he could hear Chin hollering from somewhere in the distance, his voice short and clipped and Steve knew he was directing the others, fanning out and searching for their fleeing suspect and his crew, taking charge so that Steve could concentrate on Danny.
Finally he blew out a steadying breath, pressing down harder, determined now to quell his own panic and to keep as much of Danny’s blood, as he could, on the inside.
Minutes later Steve could finally hear the sirens in the distance.
The bus rolled up outside the perimeter, and two medics jumped out, running with their gear and gurney toward them.
“What do we got,” one asked.
Steve managed, “he was shot,” letting go with the wad of blood soaked material and letting the paramedics take over.
The two men worked frantically, but in sync, cutting Danny’s shirt from his body, putting pressure on the bleeding wound with some kind of bandage. One listened to Danny’s chest, while the other wrapped a blood pressure cuff round Danny’s bicep and started pumping, counting the beats. Then the other wrapped a tourniquet around Danny’s other arm and inserted a large bore needle, hastily taping it down and asking Steve to hold the bag of fluids.
An oxygen mask and leads were placed and Danny’s heart beat jumped on the small monitor and when they rolled Danny to his side, his back was smooth and clear. Steve could only see one hole on Danny’s right flank and his heart sank, because that meant that the small caliber bullet was still somewhere in Danny’s gut.
Danny’s voice was weak and cracking, "Steve?" and the inside of the breathing mask speckled with blood.
A beat or two later and Danny was lowered back to the ground and he managed to raise his hand, reaching toward Steve and he grabbed it like the life line it was, squeezing gently, “you're going to be fine,” he said again, hoping, praying it was true.
The medic, the younger of the two, adjusted the mask over Danny’s face, and then they worked together to get him on to the back board, buckling him in and lifting. Steve grabbed a side, holding the bag of saline higher, helping them gently lower the board to the gurney, and then they were running full out toward the ambulance.
One man ran to the driver’s seat, picking up the radio and firing off Danny’s vitals and the other, along with Steve’s help, guided the gurney into the bay. Steve handed off the bag and jumped in.
He caught sight of Kono and Chin’s worried faces before the doors were slammed shut and then they were moving fast. The ride was bumpy, but Danny barely flinched as they hit a pretty deep pot hole on the back road they traveled. A little bit later the road smoothed out as they merged onto the highway.
Steve sat back on the bench, watching Danny’s face as the medic in the back with them, the older one, took another set of vitals and called them to the front to be relayed to the trauma team.
Danny’s eyes drifted closed but popped back open and his hand reflexively reached out again.
Steve took it, squeezing a little harder so that Danny knew he was there. “I got you, babe.” He had smeared drying blood on Danny’s hands and he felt a little sick at the sight of it.
The driver cursed and slowed, taking a corner a little too quickly, the wailing siren blaring at a slower moving vehicle. They turned again, which meant they were back in town and closing in on the hospital.
“See, we’re almost there, Danno,” he soothed, rubbing the hand he held. “I got you.”
The rock and sway, the lurching movement of the ambulance was making Danny’s stomach twist, but he was afraid to open his eyes and tell someone, afraid to look down at his own damn body, afraid to look to Steve for confirmation that he was going to be all right.
Because he just knew he wasn’t.
Steve was still talking to him over the blare of the sirens, trying to reassure him with his words and the vice like grip he had on Danny’s hand, and Danny was clinging on to Steve too, squeezing Steve’s fingers in his weakening grasp, because he was terrified.
Afraid…scared he was done for.
No way was he going to let go of Steve.
But he couldn’t look at him, because if he did, he’d see the truth on Steve’s face.
The face that told Danny everything that Steve was ever thinking.
“Ten minutes out,” the medic said and Steve grabbed him with both hands now.
“See, we’re almost there, Danno…I’ve got you…ten minutes to Queen’s”
But Danny wasn’t sure if he had that much time.
He couldn’t seem to get in a solid breath, even with the mask blowing oxygen up his nose, he was coughing and choking, but then he felt a light touch to his arm, fingers swirling in soothing circles and that must have meant, calm down, Danno, but he couldn’t…god, he couldn’t.
The squeezing pressure in his chest was nearly unbearable and icy-hot whips of fire kept surging up and down his right side, then zipping around and across his belly.
He wished to God he could pass out, but then he thought, No, please…I might not wake up.
Pain was good…pain told him he was still alive.
The ambulance swerved, taking a corner too fast and something felt like it was ripping in his chest.
As he gasped for breath, images, muddled conversations, even smells of his past zipped along behind his clenched eyes, like some kind of demented slide show, and his addled brain dug up a conversation he had had with Meka a couple of years back, them sitting at their desks at HQ, not long before Meka had been murdered. What do you think it feels like to get shot?
“Don’t wanna find out…” that’s what he had said then. “…It burns,” he hissed out, but god, Meka already knew that and then he snapped his mouth shut, because he suddenly realized it was him making the weird, breathy, grunts he had been hearing over Steve’s chatter.
“S’kay, babe…let it out.”
It was getting worse, second by second, the whole of Danny’s body was consumed by fire.
When he opened his eyes, Steve’s face swam into view. He was leaning over Danny, so Danny looked at him, because…well, this might have been the last time and Danny had never seen that look on Steve’s face before, stark fear and sorrow and guilt…oh, god…he really was going to die
And he needed to tell Steve, “not...fault.” Something wet and shiny on Steve’s cheek caught Danny’s attention, “crying…don’t…”
His eyes felt heavier now, so he closed them, blinking slowly to see Steve reaching toward him, running the pads of his fingers against Danny’s own face, below the breathing mask.
He needed to tell Steve more.
“Grace,” he managed and Steve nodded in understanding, so he closed his eyes again and saw her there. She was wearing a yellow dress, hands clutching a basket overflowing with found Easter eggs. Rachel had braided her hair that morning before church, but it had pulled free as she ran and played with her cousins, stopping only to plant a big, sloppy kiss on her Pop Pop’s cheek. She slid up and onto the swing her Granny held for her, because Gracie’s arm was in a sling. She was only four years old, but she looked so determined, hanging on with only one hand, as his Ma gently pushed her.
‘They grow so fast’, his Ma said. ‘Before you know it, you’ll be walking her down the aisle.’
And Danny wanted that…he wanted so badly to see her grow, to cheer for her when she walked across the platform to receive her diploma, he wanted to walk his Monkey down the aisle one day.
“Promise,” he wheezed, waiting for Steve to squeeze his hand again in answer.
His Ma looked at him, sadness in her blue eyes, but she gave him a smile anyway. ‘We’ll just have to get used to the time difference, that’s all…and me and Poppy always wanted to go to Hawaii.’ She stood in their kitchen, cutting carrots on a cutting board and he could smell her lasagna baking in the oven. He loved her cooking. And she liked to feed him. He wanted her to cook for him again. When she brought the pan out, cheese bubbling and running down the side of the dish, Danny could almost taste it on his tongue, his mouth watering with the thought of it.
“What’s happening?” Steve’s voice seemed so far away.
“I’m just suctioning out your mouth, Danny…relax.”
His Pop punched him in the arm on his way to the back deck, handing Danny a beer as he passed. ‘Me and your Ma are so proud of you, Monkey Boy…Detective Williams…I knew you could do it. I can’t wait to tell the guys that my boy made Detective.'
“The team’s prepped…ETA three minutes.”
‘No, you goof…you’re not doing it right…Ma…Danny won’t let us be the good guys!’ His mother called, ‘Danny…uncuff your sisters…go arrest Matty, I’m sure he’s into something.’
“Shit…his BP is bottoming out!”
Danny’s fist clipped his cousin’s jaw, blood blooming on puffy lips, and his knuckles stung. ‘I told you before to lay off Matty’s bike…go run home to your mommy, you little prick.’ Matty took his bike back from Tommy and the boy screamed, ‘I’m telling! I’m telling your Ma you hit me.’
‘Go ahead, tell my Ma and then I’m gonna come over there to beat on you some more…go home Tommy and I swear to God, if you touch Matty or his damn bike again, you’ll have more than a busted mouth.’ Tommy ran off with his crew and Danny turned to his little brother. ‘And you…quit egging him on…I can’t always be here to protect you.’
Danny’s eyes popped open, “Matty…”
Steve was screaming something in his face.
The gurney suddenly lurched forward and Danny nearly lost his grip on Steve, but then the doors were yanked open.
Someone pulled his bed out, the wheels slapping to the ground hard, bouncing Danny along the pavement and he cried out. “Mmnnn…Steve?”
“Right here, Danno. I’m right here.”
Why did he hurt so much?
He had his vest on, right?
“I…not shot,” Danny shook his head, convulsing as he struggled to breathe. "I not shot. I…," he wheezed frantically, "wear my vest."
Shadows converged on him, faceless people all talking at once and he didn’t know who to listen too. Something cool snaked up both legs, making a strange snick sound and his work pants and boxers were lifted away, his shoes and socks pulled off, and he was lying naked in front of a room full of strangers.
A flimsy white sheet floated briefly above him, descending over his lower half, but he still couldn’t stop shaking and shivering, he was so cold.
Then Steve’s hand was wrenched away a second later as Danny was rolled to his side and someone tapped and pressed down his spine, stuck a finger where fingers shouldn’t be.
On his back again, he could see Steve leaning against the far wall, hands on his knees, panting like he had gotten the wind knocked out of him, but Danny couldn’t focus on Steve because someone new, a man in a surgical cap and blood streaked gown asked, “…okay?”
And Danny wondered if maybe he passed out, because he didn’t know what the doctor was asking, but he nodded anyway. Figured the guy knew what he was doing and Danny needed help.
Someone grasped his jaw, turning his head straight so that all he could see were the overhead lights and then his mouth was pushed open.
He fought it for a second, all his muscles tensing, but then Steve was back in his line of sight, “You have to calm down, babe…let the doctors help.”
He could only blink as a thick tube slithered down his throat and he tried to swallow around it.
Someone pressed something cool against his chest and then a balloon type bag was attached to the end of the tube sticking from Danny’s mouth. Rhythmic squeezing forced blessed oxygen into Danny’s lungs.
Something cold and wet swiped against the left side of his chest, “gonna pinch,” and then a razor sharp blade cut into his flesh, twisting and probing, shoving something else between his ribs and if he could, he would have screamed, but instead, he used his feet to arch up off the table.
Many hands covered his battered body then, pinning him back to the bed, but he squirmed and pushed against the weight of them until finally his vision started to dim.
Is this it?
His hand flailed around until someone grabbed it, “You’re gonna be fine, Danno.”
Steve…Steve was still here.
Machines moved around him, people positioned his body as they pleased, touching him, hurting him, but Steve still held on.
“…gotta an OR ready...”
His eyes would barely open, but he could still make out his friend, his best friend, running along side the gurney as they moved Danny through the halls and then they all crammed into the car of an elevator.
He needed to tell Steve…well, that he loved him and that he was so thankful to have a friend like him.
Steve, who had barged in and hijacked Danny’s life, but had also made Danny’s life bearable during the weeks in between his weekend visits with Grace.
Somewhere along the line, he had lost time, because when he opened his eyes again, Steve was gone and he was in an operating room. All he could make out was the cluster of bright lights over head and then he felt hands on his body again.
Someone touched his thigh and it startled him, but he couldn’t move away from what was happening down there, the grasp of a hand in a very private area scared him more and then he felt burning pressure as a tube snaked up and into his bladder.
Someone else was talking to him and from the corner of his eye he could see a nurse in scrubs, mask and gloves, still squeezing the bag that forced oxygen into his lungs.
And then from the other side of him he heard, “squeeze my hand if you can hear me.”
His fingers shifted, but that was the best he could do.
The constant pain started to dissipate, he felt strangely detached, like his body didn’t belong to him anymore.
And that scared him too.
He could hear his own heart rate thumping faster on one of the monitors.
“That’s good, Detective. I’m Dr. Hoy,” the man leaned over Danny, so he could see the doctor’s masked face. “You’ve been shot, but we’re going to take good care of you. We already started the anesthesia, muscle relaxants, so you should start to feel some pain relief now.”
Dr. Hoy fiddled with something that Danny couldn’t quite see from his angle, “Dr. Akana is going to put you on the breathing machine now,” and as he spoke, the bag was removed from the end of the tube in Danny’s lung and a longer one, an extension from a machine was attached. “It feels a little different, but you can still breathe, you just have to relax.”
It was different, weird, but Danny felt some of the pressure in his chest lightening.
“We’re going to take a look at your gut first, see what…”
And he tried to listen to the doctor’s voice, the hiss and pop of the machines around him droning in the back ground and somewhere above the din of the operating room he could hear someone singing, the voice small and tinny but before he could think on what it might be, his eyes closed and he heard no more.
Chin watched as one of the uniformed officer slammed the ambulance doors shut and it pulled away with half his team, sirens screaming.
When he had seen Danny pushing Steve and then the tangle of their bodies on the ground, he couldn’t quite figure out what had happened, until a split second later, when he had heard the reverberation of the gun shot against the container units at the shipping yard.
“Shit!” They all had ducked and taken cover, Kono to his left, some uniforms to the right, but both Steve and Danny were out in the open, vulnerable.
His boss had leaned over the prone body laid out on the ground and that’s when Chin had really understood, Danny had been hit.
So he had broken cover, rushing toward his downed team members, relaying orders for a search grid of the yards, alert to any immediate threat to Danny and Steve.
When Chin got close enough to see and hear them, his heart nearly broke and he would never forget Steve’s pleading tone, the pooling blood seeping through Steve's fingers or the way Danny choked on each breath.
Kono had come from around one of the big machines that moved the containers, holding a small caliber gun in her gloved fingers. “Tossed around the back…no sign of the shooter.”
He took it from her and she moved a little closer to Steve and Danny, unbuttoning her blouse.
Chin grabbed his com mike and demanded an update, needing to be doing something.
And because more help was arriving, looking for instruction, leadership, Chin did the only thing he could do to help, he took charge.
Some of the uniforms went after Davis, who had ran when Steve and Danny had hit the ground. Davis’ crew had taken off too, but already a few had been rounded up, cuffed and were waiting in the back of cruisers for transport.
Chin handed the gun off to one of the officers, “get this to the lab, I want to know everything about it, tell them to make it a priority.”
The scene was still chaotic, but it was settling down with the round up of the few felons they had caught and most of the men were off chasing down those that managed to flee, including Davis.
Now he could hear the ambulance sirens and when he chanced a look toward Steve and Danny, he spotted Kono stripping off her shirt and handing it to Steve.
Steve balled it up and used it on Danny’s wound, but he didn’t acknowledge her presence and Kono had backed away, walking quickly toward him, a look of devastation on her face.
It was like the whole Sarin scare all over, the not knowing, but somehow, this seemed worse.
“You okay,” he asked, even though he could clearly see she wasn’t.
She nodded though, her eyes a little glassy, a little dazed. Her voice cracked when she said, “there was so much blood, Chin.”
And even if it might not have been professional, he pulled her against his side anyway. “Danny’s gonna be fine,” he soothed, giving her a little squeeze.
She nodded again, but still looked a little lost. “yeah, but…”
The ambulance squealed to a stop then, tires leaving skid marks on the pavement.
“See,” he said. “Helps here and they’ll get Danny to the hospital…they’ll take good care of him and we’ve got work to do.”
She watched as the medics took over for Steve, wiping a delicate hand over her face, stepping out of his embrace. “Yeah, yeah okay.”
Reports were coming in that Davis had pulled a Houdini, but one of his lieutenants had been picked up a few streets over, trying to break into a closed store front to hide out.
“Bring them all in,” Chin said, looking to Kono. “We’ll interrogate them back at the Palace.”
The medics and Steve, with Danny in tow, were running toward the ambulance and as the doors slammed shut, he had to trust that they would get Danny to help on time.
After it pulled off, lights and sirens blaring, he told Kono, “let’s make sure the area is secured, get forensics in here so we can figure out what the hell just happened.”
And over the next hours he and Kono spoke with each person brought in, but no one would cop to knowing where Davis might be hiding out or who had pulled the trigger on Danny.
He had just sent Kono to see Fong about the ballistics report and information on the gun when his cell rang.
His heart dropped when he saw it was Steve.
He figured, no news was good news, and it seemed way too early for an update.
“Hey, I ah…I’m just checking in…to see what’s happening with the investigation.”
Steve’s voice was strained, tired, but Chin figured that he didn’t know anything on Danny’s condition, or he would have started with that.
So he told his friend and boss what he knew, which honestly wasn’t much before asking, “so, any news on Danny?”
Steve blew out a breath before answering, ”they took him in for an emergency exploratory laparotomy.” At the mention of the word, Chin’s fingers worked over the touch screen of the computer table. He blanched when he saw an explanation and photo of the procedure.
Steve continued, “The surgeon told me depending on what they find, it could take hours. They know he has internal bleeding, a collapsed lung, but they have to open him up, inspect his organs and bowel to see where the bleeding is coming from and make necessary repairs. Steve sighed again. “I had to call his folks.”
And Chin knew how hard that call must have been. Over the years they had all learned a lot about Danny’s family, shared stories of growing up and seen pictures. They even had talked with them on the phone from time to time if they called the HQ looking for Danny, “how’d they take it?”
“His dad answered…I could hear his mom crying in the back ground.
“That sucks, brah…are they coming?”
”Yeah, I got them tickets on the red eye to LAX, pulled a few strings to bump some passengers on the first flight out from there. They’ll be landing around ten and I was hoping…”
“Sure,” because Chin knew that Steve wouldn’t be leaving the hospital anytime soon. “Whatever you need…” he glanced at his watch, surprised by the late hour, “…not much more we can do tonight anyway.”
“Yeah, okay. I’m going to put them up, I don’t want them to have to pay for a hotel, so maybe, if you wouldn’t mind, you or Kono could stock up the fridge, change the sheets on the bed in the guest room.”
“You got it…it’ll give us something to do while we wait. Kono’s at Fong’s, but as soon as she gets back, we’ll go on a market run, drop the stuff at your place and bring over the camaro.”
But Chin couldn’t help but wonder about the rest of Danny’s family, so he asked, “what about Rachel and Grace?”
“I called her when we first got here…”
And Chin could hear a small groan that escaped as Steve shifted in his seat, but filed it away for later when he and Kono could see Steve face to face. The way that Danny had tackled him could have caused Steve injury too.
“…but after the Sarin thing and the kidnapping…they decided that if either of them where in a…life threatening situation, they would wait to tell Gracie…she’s been through so much already.
“Yeah,” he looked up as Kono came through the door. “Listen, Kono’s back. I’m going to find out what Fong had to say and then we’ll stop for supplies, head over to your place.” Kono raised her brow in question, but he finished his call by saying, “after we square away everything we’ll be by to wait with you.”
“Thanks and thank Kono too…its just, you know…”
And Chin did know, “yeah,” he answered. “See you soon.”
As he pocketed his phone, Kono asked, “What’d he say?”
So on the way out he told her about Danny’s parents and they made a plan for quick fix meals and linen changes, deciding to do a quick clean if Steve’s house needed it and to drive and leave Chin’s car at Steve’s place. That way they could drive both Steve’s truck and Danny’s car to the hospital and in the morning, Chin would take the truck to pick up Danny’s folks and they could use it as needed.
It didn’t take long to pick up what they needed and do a once over at Steve’s place and then they were on their way to Queens.
They parked both vehicles in the parking garage and found the family waiting room on the sixth floor surgical ward.
Steve was slouched in his chair, his chin on his chest, one hand losing its battle to hold a half empty coffee cup in its grasp.
They slid into the chairs on either side and Chin took the cup and sat it on the table in front of them. As soon as the cup was removed, Steve startled awake.
“Hey, guys…what time is it?”
Kono looked at her phone and said, “nearly ten thirty…any news?”
It seemed to take a few seconds for Steve to clear his sleep addled brain, but he straightened in his seat and ran a hand up to smooth down his hair. “A nurse came out a few hours ago to say that Danny was holding his own. She thought it would be three or four more hours yet. You got anything else on Davis?”
“Fong said the serial number was filed off the gun, but he got a partial print off the stock. It’s running now and he did the ballistics and found a match to a B and E from ’09. He has to wait to see if the bullet or a fragment can be retrieved…” and he swallowed hard, because this wasn’t just any victim. If they got the bullet it would be because the surgeon had been able to dig it from Danny’s body. “…to see if it’s a match.”
Steve nodded in understanding, blowing out a breath. “Okay…you guys don’t have to stay…I can call…” but he stopped talking and if Chin had to guess why, it would probably be because of the look on his cousin’s face. “Or, you know…stay. I could use the company.”
So they waited.
And waited some more.
Steve went from sitting to pacing, while Kono fiddled with her phone or picked at her styrofoam cup. Chin tried to read an article in the outdated People magazine, but the printed lines kept blurring and running around the page.
He was bone tired and knew the others where only running on fumes and bad vending machine coffee. The Op had started days before and the take down at the shipping yard happened right before noon, but it seemed a lot longer then that.
Time was standing still all around them, they were in some kind of space time vacuum or something…Max would know.
So it was a huge relief when a man in scrubs approached them. “Family of Danny Williams,” the doctor asked, even though they were the only ones in the waiting room.
Chin tried to get a read on him, was the news good or bad?
Either way, they were about to find out.
“Family of Danny Williams?”
Kono looked up from the shredded mess she had made with her vending coffee cup, unable to keep her hands still, from fidgeting while she waited.
She liked to think she was a woman of action, a real go getter, a jump before you look kinda girl, but waiting, unable to do anything, especially when it was someone you loved fighting for their life, not so much…well it seemed at least the wait part was over.
They all stood when the surgeon approached, but Kono hung back a bit with Chin as Steve shook the doctor’s hand. “I’m Steve McGarrett,” her boss said, “Danny’s my partner and this is Chin Ho Kelly and Kono Kalakaua,” he inclined his head toward them, “Danny’s other team mates.”
“Doctor Hoy,” the man gave them each a firm handshake before explaining, “Detective Williams made it through the surgery and is being moved to the recovery unit now. The bullet nicked his bowel on entry, then traveled and ricocheted around his abdomen, injuring tissue and muscle, tearing a hole in his diaphragm before coming to rest in his spleen.”
Kono swallowed down a mouth full of saliva, remembering all the blood and choked off breaths and Danny dying right in front of them and not being able to do a damn thing about it.
“We were able to stop the bleeding by repairing his bowel and diaphragm, but we had to remove part of his spleen.
The vascular surgeon worked on him as well and there was some splintering of his two lower ribs on the left side, which caused the collapsed lung, but the lung itself looks good, as do his other organs.
There is swelling and so we’ve used a temporary closure and will have to go back in when the swelling goes down, inspect his other organs again and make sure the remainder of the spleen is healing before we suture him up.”
Kono heard a slight buzzing in her ears, but what the doctor was saying was more important, so when the sound persisted she pinched the inside of her arm, shook her head and then unlocked her jaw to stretch her ear drums and that seemed to work.
The doctor looked at her for a beat or two before going on, “he’s lost a lot of blood, so we’re transfusing him, supporting his breathing and other bodily functions until he’s able to do it on his own, but for the time being, his vitals are looking good.”
Kono asked, “So, he’s going to be okay,” because that’s what they all really wanted to know.
But Hoy’s face gave nothing away, “He’s body has experienced an extreme trauma and we’re worried about infection and other complications, which are likely. I don’t want to give false hope.”
The doctor took the time to look all three of them in the eye before continuing, “Danny’s in for a long recovery, but as of now his prognosis is good.”
And she and the other’s let go of a collective breath.
“Can we see him,” Steve asked and the doctor nodded.
“I’ll give you a few minutes, but then only one person every hour for ten minutes until he’s moved to SICU, then depending on his condition we can lighten the limit of visitation.”
The doctor turned and they followed him back down the hall he came from and through the double door to the surgical ward. “The unit nurse will explain the support equipment and answer any questions you might have. He’s not awake yet, but she’s about to give him the medicine to wake him. I’ll be back to check on him in a bit” Dr. Hoy shook their hands again before leaving them in the recovery ward.
There was a large nurse’s station in the center of about a dozen beds, divided by pulled curtains, but only one was occupied and as they got closer to Danny, Kono felt like she was going to be sick.
“Oh, Danny…” she said and then she stumbled to a halt, holding on to Steve’s arm and maybe Steve was holding onto her too, because Danny…Danny didn’t look like Danny and before she could wrap her head around what she was seeing, the ringing in her ears was back, and tiny black dots danced across her vision, and she pitched to the side.
Chin and Steve had to grab her before she hit the floor.
“Whoa, cuz…easy, it’s okay.” Chin guided her to a chair and pushed her head down, “Deep breaths, that’s it.”
She was horrified, embarrassed about her swan dive, because she was suppose to be strong for Danny and the other’s shouldn’t have to worry about her too.
She wasn’t the one so still, unmoving on the bed, and she wasn’t the one devoid of all color, an unnatural pallor to her skin, and she wasn’t the one hooked up to god knew how many machines, keeping her alive and she…oh, god…
“Here…drink,” the nurse pushed a small cup of juice in her shaking hands and she carefully straightened.
Steve gave her an understanding look and a pat on the shoulder before moving closer to Danny’s bed, taking up his best friend’s hand. “When’s the last time you ate,” the nurse asked and she shook her head, because she really didn’t know.
The day was a blur and all she really knew was that she needed to get up and get her act together. “I’m fine,” she tried, but Chin pushed the cup upward toward her mouth, so she sipped the juice.
“We’re all running on fumes,” Chin said. “And once we get done here, I’m dropping you at home…”
She shook her head, but Steve turned his gaze on her and said, “You both need to head home, get some rest so you can get back on the case first thing.”
“What about you,” she asked, because even though it was phrased like an order, there was no authority behind Steve’s words, just a tired sort of resonation and Steve had been favoring his side all night.
He needed to be resting too.
“Steve,” Chin tried, “you need to get some sleep too…and maybe clean up a little.”
But Steve’s attention was back on Danny, as the nurse fiddled with the dials on some of the machines.
“I’m Janie, by the way,” she said, writing something down on a chart by Danny’s bed. “I’ll be with Danny until he’s moved to the surgical care unit.”
Kono stood, grateful to be steady on her feet now and moved up next to Steve. Chin headed to the other side of the bed and they all got their first good look at their friend.
She felt tears pressing at her eyes, but she wasn’t about to start bawling now, not after nearly passing out earlier.
“I know it looks scary,” Janie said, injecting something into one of the IV lines in Danny’s arm. Kono followed the lines with her eyes, up to the pole holding four bags of fluid. One was clearly blood, the other two were clear liquid, and one was a milky white color. “But all these machines are here to help him. Dr. Hoy should have explained his injuries.”
When they all nodded she continued. “He had a midline incision, extending from just below his sternum to the top of his pubic bone. The incision was closed with temporary mesh, because he’ll need to go back to surgery…maybe later today, but probably tomorrow morning to be sure the bleeding and swelling are under control and then he’ll have sutures.”
“This machine,” she said, pointing out the one hooked to the tube in Danny’s mouth, “is helping him breathe and hopefully they’ll be able to remove it sometime tomorrow so that Danny can be more mobile. We’ll be able to get him up once he’s off the ventilator and that’s good, because he’s at risk for pneumonia and blood clots, so the sooner we can move him around the better.”
Steve asked, “Is he in any pain,” his voice shaky with fatigue and worry and tears pressed at Kono’s eyes again, the tone of Steve’s voice tearing at her heart.
“He may have some discomfort when he wakes, but we’re controlling his pain with an Epidural analgesia and once he’s more cognitive he’ll be able to control the dose. He’s also hooked up to monitoring equipment, he has the chest tube and we’re looking at his heart rate and respiration and oxygen levels, checking his urine output, that’s what most of the rest of the machines are for.”
She touched Danny’s face, near the tube up his nose. “This goes to his stomach and removes any fluid and acids and he has a temporary colostomy stoma so his bowel can heal. Do you guys have any questions?”
Steve cleared his throat, and then asked, “What kind of complications are we talking?”
“Besides the pneumonia…he’s already on some strong antibiotics to stave off infection and we’re monitoring his body temperature, looking for signs of blood clot or pulmonary embolism. He has pressure devices on both legs to help prevent deep vein thrombosis and once he’s more stable, they’ll be replaced with pressure hose. The next twenty four to forty eight hours are critical and we’ll have a better idea of what we’re dealing with.”
Steve nodded and Chin moved around the bed, patting her arm, but before they could move away, Danny’s swollen eyes fluttered.
“Danny?” Steve asked and put his free hand on Danny’s forehead. “Hey…there you are.”
Kono watched as the bloodshot eyes roamed the room, ghosting over the nurse and then Chin and her before coming to rest on Steve. “You made it, babe…you’re in recovery, but you’re gonna be fine.”
And this time, Kono couldn’t help the tears that fell.
So I'm going to ConTxt this weekend in Silver Springs MD and probably won't be able to post another chapter this weekend, but thanks to everyone who are reading along :)
Hours later, Steve found himself back in the same waiting room, looking at the mess Kono had made with her coffee cup, sitting stiffly in a hard back chair, head pounding, restless, feeling every ache and pain he had earned in the days before.
Earlier, the staff had asked him to wait while they got Danny ready to be transported to the ICU.
So he sank back in his seat for the long haul, feeling utterly exhausted, his eyes puffy and sore, like they had sand in them, but he was unable to get to sleep in between his hourly visits, not even a cat nap, because he just couldn’t turn his brain off, couldn’t stop replaying Danny screaming his name and couldn’t stop feeling the tackle that sent them both toppling to the ground.
Every time he closed his eyes, he could hear the damn gun shot, and remembered knowing…knowing even before he heard Danny’s grunt of pain or the smell of his partner’s blood, that Danny had been hit.
And it's all my fault.
He had missed something, someone in the investigation, because all of Davis’ men where accounted for, all the suspects were at the undercover buy, so who the hell was gunning for them…for him?
Because even though it was Danny that took the hit, Steve knew, without a doubt, that bullet was meant for him.
Danny had seen the shooter and pushed Steve to safety and he was having…well, a really hard time accepting that, because Danny…Danny had Grace to think about and if he…Steve didn’t know what he would do if Danny didn’t make it…how would he explain to Gracie that her Danno was gone because of something he had missed?
A mistake I had made?
And if he were honest, he was scared for himself too.
Danny was…his, partner; yes…his best friend…but also…something else too.
He couldn’t explain it, but he knew whatever it was, he had never felt it before.
Sighing, he looked at his watch again, but only five minutes had passed since the last time he had checked.
And this time when he shifted in the seat again, trying to get comfortable, trying to ease the pain in his side, his tee shirt pulled away from his skin and he looked down at himself.
He had on a dark shirt and cargo pants, so the stains weren’t as visible, but Danny’s blood had dried hard and crusty and it was sticking and chafing against Steve’s skin.
Earlier, Chin and Kono had brought him some clean clothes, when they had stopped by his place, and before leaving had made him promise to at least clean up if he wasn’t going to go home, which he wasn’t…at least not yet.
In the morning…when Chin picked up Danny’s folks and brought them to the hospital.
He’d go home then, take a hot shower and scrub his skin raw, but for now…now he had a little time to clean up and change.
Before, he was too worried, scared for Danny’s life to take the time or care who might have seen him covered in blood, but now that Danny was going to the other unit...Steve didn’t want Danny to see him like this and he was thinking that Danny would be a little more aware soon.
At least he hoped so. Danny looked…well Danny didn’t look so good, but Janie had assured him that he was making good progress.
Since that first time Danny had opened his eyes and looked at him, he hadn’t opened them again. But he would stir a little when Steve took his hand and Steve found comfort in that, because Danny was holding on.
So each time he was allowed to visit, he talked to Danny, touch him anywhere and everywhere he could touch without hurting and in return, Danny would weakly grasp his fingers, would slightly turn his head toward Steve’s voice and that…that was something, that was improvement.
Checking his watch for the umpteenth time, he stood with a grunt, his legs a little unsteady, grabbed his ratty old backpack and headed down the hall to the men’s room. Janie said it would be at least a half hour before they got Danny settled in and then probably another half hour before Steve would be allowed to see him again, so he had time.
And even though it was still dark out, the sun still a ways from rising, his phone chirped, so he plucked it from one of his pockets and saw the caller was Danny’s parents.
He took a deep breath before saying, “hello, Mr. Williams?”
“No…its Melanie, Steve…we just landed and found our connecting flight and I…”
He nodded, even though Danny’s mom couldn’t see him. He somehow had forgotten that Danny’s parents didn’t know that Danny had made it through. “He’s being moved to the surgical intensive care,” he blurted, because he wanted her to know that her son was still holding on.
He could hear a choked off noise and her voice warbled as she said, “here, talk to Jimmy.”
And then Danny’s dad came on the line. “Steve?”
“Yes, sir,” and he rushed to assure Danny’s dad too. “He made it through surgery, he’s being moved…” but before he could finish, Danny’s dad was talking again.
“Oh, thank god…thank god…Mel? Come on, Darling…Sit down here.”
Steve listened as Danny’s mom sobbed again and the soft words of reassurance from her husband and then Danny’s dad came back on the line. “Steve? I don’t know how to thank you…”
But Steve shook his head; because he didn’t need to be thanked…it was his fault that their son had been shot to begin with.
“…it would have taken us days to get to our boy, so I don’t know how to repay you…”
Steve realized he was in the bathroom, so he went into the stall and locked the door, slinking down to rest on the toilet seat, shaking his head in denial.
Didn’t they understand?
“…have you been in to see him…have they let you be with him…I don’t want him to be alone,” Jimmy’s voice cracked and it was all Steve could do to answer in a steady voice of his own.
“Yeah, they ah…they give me a few minutes every hour. He ah…he opened his eyes the first time me and the rest of the team went in to see him and he’s been responding to my voice, so…”
“Good, that’s good…okay; they’re boarding our flight already. I gotta go, but next time you see him, you tell him his Poppy loves him…oh, and his Ma too. Tell him were coming, okay? Can you do that for us?”
“Yes, sir,” Steve managed, feeling hot tears pressing at his eyes again, unable to push down or compartmentalize his emotions. “I can do that…I’ll tell him.”
“Thank you, son. We’ll see you soon.”
And then the call disconnected and Steve grabbed his head with both hands, trying not to give in to his emotions, because if he started, he didn’t think he would be able to stop.
If Danny were here he would be telling Steve to use one of the tricks he had learned in SEAL School but damnit…Danny wasn’t here, Danny was in a bed somewhere, fighting for his life.
The first treacherous tear fell, followed by another, then another and soon he was crying and rocking on a dirty toilet seat in a hospital bathroom, but he didn’t care. He gave in, let go, let his body tremble with fatigue and guilt and anger over someone hurting his…
In a burst of rage, his fist collided with the unyielding metal of the stall door, but it felt good, so he hit it again and again, until his eyes dried and he could stand, taking a deep breath.
“Pity party over,” he said and grabbed a bunch of toilet paper to blow his nose.
He needed to get changed and get back out there, so he would be ready when they came to get him again.
Because Danny needed him and he needed Danny.
He pushed the stall door open, reaching for his hem and pulling the soiled shirt over his head, feeling the cool air and new aches as he moved to toss the ruined shirt in the trash.
In the mirrors over the sinks he could see the faded red stains on the skin of his torso and a grouping of purpling bruises over his ribs and side.
He quickly shucked his cargo pants too, pulling off his badge, taking his phone and his wallet from a pocket, finding Danny’s stuff too.
Along the way someone had handed him Danny’s personal belongings and he shoved Danny’s things in one of his pants pockets.
Steve guessed, hoped that Danny’s gun had been collected at the scene.
He dropped their stuff into the open backpack before grabbing some paper towels from the dispenser, running them under hot water and the hand soap, before scrubbing at the dried blood on his skin.
He scrubbed until his skin was pink and then scrubbed some more, longing for that shower he had promised himself when he got home, but this would have to do for now.
Fairly clean, he pulled on a pair of jeans and a blue polo shirt he found in the bag, putting his wallet in his back pocket, his phone in the front and his badge at his waist, but he left Danny’s stuff in the nearly empty bag, and then he leaned over and picked up Danny’s badge, running fingers over the raised metal, the insignia for their task force, before he slipped it into his other front pocket. It felt right to hang on to it, until he could give it back to Danny himself.
Glancing at his watch again, he took the time to wash his face and rinse his mouth with cool water, run his wet fingers through his hair, then gave himself a once over in the mirror.
He felt a little better now.
Shoving the dirty pants down in the trash can with his tee, he pulled the bag out and tied it off, lifting it out of the receptacle and putting it by the door for someone to dispose of.
That was the best he could do for now, so he headed back to the hard chairs of the waiting room.
Time passed slowly and Steve tried to occupy his mind with the facts of the case, tried hard not to close his eyes, but at some point he must have dozed off, because someone was shaking his shoulder, calling his name.
His eyes blinked opened to see a new face.
“Hello, Commander McGarrett," a woman said. She was dressed in pink scrubs, short black hair tucked behind her ears and her face was open, pleasant. “We have your partner settled, so you can come back now.”
He didn’t have to be told twice, so he grabbed his bag and followed her through a maze of corridors.
Danny’s room was near the nurses station and a few other recovering occupants were also on the ward.
This time the room was bigger, walls made of glass, covered with vertical blinds for privacy instead of pulled curtains.
She pushed opened the sliding door and he followed her in, his eyes going to his partner lying on the bed.
Danny was still motionless, except for the machine in his lung, that artificially breathed for him, making his chest rise and fall and he was still surrounded by other equipment too, but for some reason, he looked a little better to Steve.
“People will be coming and going, checking on him from time to time, but if you need anything you can ask at the nurse’s station.”
He thanked her, told her about Danny’s parents arrival, and she noted their names on a computer console that sat in the corner of the room, before stepping out.
Once she was gone, Steve stowed his pack under the chair that sat near the bed and then moved a little closer to Danny, reaching for his hand. “Hey, buddy…I’m here, for a little bit at least. You’re doing great.”
Danny twitched his fingers, his head moving a little on the pillow so he continued. “Your Mom and Dad are on a flight here…they’ll be here,” he looked at his watch, about to say, in the morning, but it was already morning. “They’ll be here before you know it and your dad made me promise to tell you that your Ma and Poppy loves you.”
Danny’s eyes fluttered, but didn’t open and Steve wondered if he could really hear him. “And ah…We all love you too, you know.”
Steve reached forward with his other hand, running his fingers through messy blond hair, using his blunt nails to scratch and soothe. “I love you, Danno…you hear me? It’s gonna be all right, you’ll see.”
Steve’s hand stilled in Danny’s hair as Danny’s eyes fluttered again. “Don’t worry about us, we’re okay.” And then puffy eyes opened to mere slits, but it was enough for Steve. He leaned forward, pressing a tiny kiss to Danny’s forehead and said, “you just work on getting better.”
The Williams’ flight from LAX had arrived a little before schedule, but Chin hadn’t spotted them yet.
Yesterday, in the mist of crisis, no one had thought to coordinate a meeting place, but it seemed like a logical choice to wait near the baggage claim, so he watched as passengers picked up their luggage, looking for two people he had only ever seen in photos.
Most recently, Danny had shared pictures of his parent’s fortieth wedding anniversary, a family affair that included Danny’s sisters and extended family, and at the time, Chin had felt a pang of sorrow for Danny having to miss such a major milestone.
Danny had made some impossible choices, having left his family and friends behind, and a job that he had loved, to follow his daughter and start a brand new life here and Chin had just wished this reunion would have been because of happier circumstances.
Yesterday…the whole thing…was just messed up.
He was having a hard time with the reality of something like this happening to someone he knew and was close too, someone who had always had his back, even when others had thought he was a dirty cop, Danny had been there with a beer and an ear to listen.
And Chin knew, even though the possibility was always going to be there, that any of them could have taken that bullet, the reality of it…not something he ever wanted to have to go through again.
And he was worried for the rest of his team too.
Last night, Kono had been so quiet, withdrawn, but she wouldn’t take him up on his offer to stay with him and Malia, so he took her to her place, hugged her tight before walking her to her apartment door, promising to join her in the morning, so they could get back to finding Davis and the shooter...and Steve…
Steve looked like he was hanging on by his fingernails, laser focused on his partner and whatever emotions he had been dealing with. Chin wasn’t sure what he had been seeing between the two men, only that it was clear Steve and Danny cared for each other deeply. They were good together, brought out the best in each other, complemented, fulfilled the voids, but what that all meant, well, it was complicated… and Chin wasn’t about to speculate.
Another wave of people emerged down the stairs from the terminal and among them Chin spotted a tall, thin woman, with short blond hair, her eyes searching the crowd. Trailing behind her was a shorter dark haired man and Chin could see Danny in him, even though Mr. Williams was darker in complexion, more like Matt, it was clear Danny got his good looks from his dad.
He stepped toward them, raising a hand in greeting, “Mr. and Mrs. Williams…Aloha. I’m Chin Ho Kelly.”
Danny’s mom took his hand in hers and squeezed, leaning down to dot a kiss on his cheek, “It’s very nice to meet you Chin, please just call me Mel…Danny has had good things to say about you and Malia.”
And he smiled, realizing that maybe Danny took a bit after his mother too.
“Jim…Jimmy, this is Chin,” Mr. Williams shifted their suitcases, grabbing his hand in a firm grip.
“How’s Danny,” he asked, getting right to it.
Chin reached for one of the suitcases, pulling the handle toward him so they could walk and talk. “I stopped by this morning, before coming here, and he looked better. I also spoke with Steve on the phone a little while ago, and he told me that Danny’s scheduled for the second half of the surgery this afternoon, that he’s vitals are good, that the surgeon seemed hopeful.”
They walked through a throng of tourists, all talking excitedly to each other and snapping pictures of airport employees as they presented leis to family and friends.
“That’s good," Mrs. Williams’ said, worrying a fingernail with the corner of her mouth.
The air was hot when they stepped from the terminal, a little humid and it looked like storm clouds were gathering.
The first fat drops of rain started as they made it to Steve’s truck, which was parked close to the building in a restricted parking area, just one of the perks of being on the task force.
Chin unlocked the doors with the key fob, stowing the luggage on the back bench, the other half of the seat already occupied by Danny’s mother. His dad slid into the front as Chin got in and he explained, “Steve’s house is on the way and I need to pick up my car. We have some time if you would like to freshen up before we head to the hospital,” but he knew as soon as he said it, that his offer would probably be declined, both of them seeming anxious to get to their son.
So he was surprised when Mr. Williams’ said, “We can stow our bags, maybe get a bite to eat…” even as his wife was shaking her head no. “Yes, Mel…we’ve been traveling for almost fifteen hours straight, and we need to take care of ourselves, if we want to be able to take care of Danny.”
Chin smiled, thinking that Steve needed to take a page out of the Williams’ book. When he had stopped by the hospital, before the airport; he had found Steve curled up in an uncomfortable looking chair near Danny’s bed, his head canted to the side, at an odd angle, that was sure to make for a stiff neck in the morning, drool collecting at the corner of his mouth, and one hand resting on Danny’s arm.
And Danny...he had looked better to Chin's untrained eye, even if he was still unnaturally still, he wasn't so pale.
A nurse had stopped in while he was looking at his friend and had assured him Danny was doing better, but had said that his boss had been sleeping fitfully throughout the night, refusing to go home to rest, but when Chin dropped off Danny’s folks, he was going to get Steve to head home, even if he had to use threats and a crowbar to get the man out of that chair.
It didn't take long to get to Steve's place, the rain already tapering to an end and Chin used his key to unlock the door. The Williams' looked around, uncertain, taking in the space. Chin led them through the living room and down the hall to the spare bedroom. "How about you get settled and I'll make something fast...ham sandwiches okay?"
Mr. Williams took their bags, putting them in the corner of the room and nodded, "That sounds great."
"There is a private bath," Chin showed them the adjoining bathroom. "I'll be in the kitchen when you're ready."
Danny's mom grabbed his arm as he passed, giving him a slight squeeze before dropping her hand, "Have you or Steve...have you talked to Rachel and Gracie?"
"Steve did, last night. Rachel said she would bring Grace to see Danny in a few days..."
And she smiled, looking a little relieved and he wondered about the Williams' relationship with their ex-daughter-in-law.
It had to be difficult to be friendly with a woman that had badly hurt their son, taken their grand daughter so many miles away.
Chin left them to get settled, moving through the house, opening some of the windows to let some air circulate for when Steve got home. It didn't take him long to put together ham and cheese on soft rolls. He gathered the mayo and mustard, a plate with lettuce and tomato, a bag of chips, taking every thing to the dining room table. The plates and napkins were paper, but he did fill glasses with ice and grabbed a pitcher of fresh brewed tea as the couple came down the hall.
He noted that they had changed, looked a little more comfortable as they sat at the table.
Mr. Williams poured them both a glass of tea as Mrs. Williams took sandwiches from the platter for them, "Thank you, Chin," she said. "It’s good to know that Danny has found some good friends here, that he's...not so alone."
"Danny's a good friend to have," he told them, leaving them alone to finish their food.
He went through the house and out the sliding door and sank on to one of the deck chairs, pulling his phone and dialing Kono.
"Hey, cuz," she answered. "What's the word?
"I'm at Steve's. The Williams are eating before we head to the hospital. Anything new on the Davis front?"
"I'm having Peters brought up from holding. Figured I'll have another go at him. He’s got to know Davis' exit strategy..."
And Chin didn't want to think about Kono's second go around with Davis' second in command, plausible deniability and all that.
"Okay, call me if you get anything. I'm going to be in after I take Danny's parents to the hospital and strong arm Steve into heading home for a bit."
"Kay, good luck with that," she said, sounding a little more like herself. "I'll see you soon."
He felt a presence at his back as he pocketed his phone and found Danny's dad looking out and over the beach, toward the beating waves.
The man snapped out of whatever place his mind had taken him, "Just Jim or Jimmy," he said. "Mel's cleaning up, but then we'd like to get to the hospital."
Chin followed him into the house, seeing Danny's mom placing a glass in the drainer and drying her hands on a towel.
"We ready," Chin asked, and they both nodded, following him back out the front door.
They road behind him in Steve's truck, the ride was short, traffic having thinned after the morning rush.
They parked in the garage, made their way through the main entrance, and took the elevator up to the seventh floor. Chin spotted the same nurse from his morning visit and asked her how Danny was doing, saying, "This is Mr. and Mrs. Williams, Danny's parents."
"Aloha," she shook their hands, "I'm Tina...and Danny is doing pretty well, all things considered. Doctor Hoy will be checking in on him in the next hour or so and then they'll be taking him back to the OR."
They followed her down the hall to Danny's room, letting her slide the glass door open for them.
Chin hung back a bit, wanting to give them a chance to see Danny and not be intrusive.
He could see Steve standing as they entered; could see Steve getting a bear hug from Danny's mom while his dad headed right for the bed.
Steve met his eyes, but went back to looking at Danny's parents as they stood for a minute and just looked at their son.
Jimmy moved first, leaning over Danny and lifting the sheet that covered his chest, taking in the bandages and tubes, the wires and machines that were keeping his son alive.
Mel moved closer too, leaning on her husband, big tears bubbling in her blue eyes and falling down her cheeks, "Oh, baby...Jim...he's so..."
"Its okay, Darling," and Danny's dad pulled his wife close against his side.
Steve shuffled a little closer to the bed, his hand going back to Danny's arm. "He looks a lot better," he said, his voice hopeful.
Jimmy nodded, using his free hand to rub his knuckles in short strokes over Danny's chest. "Hey, monkey boy...Ma and Pop are here...can you open your eyes, bud?"
Danny's dad kept rubbing the same spot and soon, dull blue eyes opened to slits, skittering around the room, looking at Steve before shifting his head a little to see his parents.
"There you are," his mom said, stepping out of her husbands embrace and leaning over Danny, looking her son in the eyes. "We're here, babe. You're going to be fine."
Danny's throat worked around the tube and he blinked slowly a time or two, his eyes wet, tears leaking and running into his hair line.
Both Steve and Danny’s mom reached forward to wipe them away. “Shhh...it's okay, baby…you’re doing great…getting better. You’ll be home before you know it.”
Doctor Hoy walked into the room as Mel wiped at another tear.
“Look whose awake,” he smiled, walking closer to the bed, standing beside Steve, “Mom and Dad,” he asked, reaching across Danny to shake the Williams’ hands.
“Jim Williams, my wife Melanie. How’s my boy doing?”
The doctor went on to explain Danny’s condition as Steve slipped away, moving toward Chin. “How’s the investigation going?” And when he got closer, Chin could see just how exhausted Steve looked, his eyes puffy and he must have stiffen up over night, because he walked with a shuffled stride.
“Kono is working on Peters.”
Steve nodded, rubbing a hand up and over his head and then surprised Chin by telling him, “I’m going to head home in a few, let his parents have some time alone with him before they take him back to surgery.”
“That’s good, Steve,” he told him. “You need to sleep in a bed, get something to eat, take care of yourself so you can help take care of Danny.”
“Yeah…” and he looked back toward the room and Danny’s parents.
“Go ahead,” Chin told him and watched as he took swift strides back to Danny’s side, his hand going back to Danny’s arm.
Chin listened for a few seconds as Dr. Hoy explained what he would be doing to Danny during his second trip to the OR, how long he expected it would take and when they all might get to see Danny again.
“Someone will be by in a little while to get him ready. Do you have any questions for me?”
Danny's eyes had closed again and Chin watched as Steve rubbed at Danny’s arm, letting Danny’s parents ask what they needed.
After a while, he turned from the room and the hurting people in it.
He went to the elevator and down two floors, walking the well known path to his wife’s office.
He found her there, sitting behind her desk, a pen sticking out from behind her ear. She was writing something with another one, but after a second or two, she looked up and saw him standing in the door way.
Early this morning, after dropping off his cousin, he had gone home, finding Malia already asleep in their bed, and had tried to be quiet as he changed and crawled in beside her, but she turned toward him as soon as he settled down, wrapping her arms around him and pulling him close.
Now she stood, walking around the desk and pulling him into her office, closing her door, drawling him into her arms. “Is he okay?” she asked, because she always knew what was weighing on Chin’s mind.
He nodded, taking in her scent, burying his nose into her curly hair. “They’re taking him back to the OR soon, but his parents are with him now and Steve…he’s heading home to get some rest.”
She squeezed him tighter, “Then I’ll make some time to go check in with them, make sure they’re okay while they wait.”
And he held her tighter, closer, because he loved her so damn much and didn’t want to think what he would do if he were to ever lose her.
Thanks to everyone who is reading along and commenting! I really should be working on the next chapter of my Supernatural story, but I just couldn't help myself...
He really wasn't aware of his transition into groggy-wakefulness.
One minute he was floating on a wave of nothingness, and the next he could feel his body, heavy and numb, but a niggling discomfort lurked below the surface of his skin.
Now he could hear subdued noises, machinery, whirling and beeping and voices quietly speaking
Soon he could smell stringent antiseptic and a familiar flowery tang that reminded him of his childhood.
There was a warm touch at his forearm and someone was insistently rubbing his chest.
“Hey, monkey boy...Ma and Pop are here...can you open your eyes, bud?”
He knew that voice!
His pop…His pop had been calling him monkey for...well, as long as he could remember, because when Danny was little, he used to climb up just about anything he could, often times flying off whatever he had scaled, and into his Pop’s waiting arms.
It was a game they used to play, at home or in the park, at the firehouse where his Pop worked and when Grace came along, she was just like her Daddy…
But why is Pop here?
The rubbing at his chest started to feel uncomfortable, so he tried to open his eyes, to tell whoever was touching him that they were hurting him, and that’s when he felt something stiff and unyielding down his throat.
And it all came flooding back…he had been out in the hot afternoon sun, sweating through his dress shirt in his flak jacket, his gun drawn and pointed at a man who had been bringing drugs on to the island, a guy who was responsible for nine overdose deaths, three of those kids not much older than Gracie.
One minute, Steve was demanding for Davis and his crew to drop their weapons and to get down on the ground and the next, Danny had seen movement out of the corner of his eye, someone slinking around one of the offloading machines and he knew…if he didn’t do something and do it fast, Steve would be hit…and then it was all fiery pain and not being able to breathe, just like when he had been poisoned with Sarin and Steve…Steve had stayed with him the whole way.
Is Steve still here with me?
He needed to open his eyes now, but at first they had refused and then…they just did.
His sight was blurry, and that niggle of suppressed pain rose closer to the surface, he could feel hot tears springing to his eyes, gathering in the corners.
He searched the room, knowing he was in the hospital now, eyes glossing over the ceiling and walls, the surrounding machines
A fuzzy form morphed into Steve, his friend smiled down at him, patting and rubbing his arm and then Danny shifted his head a little, looking to the other side of the bed and saw his ma and pop…they were here…they had come to be with him…
Oh, god…Am I dying?
"There you are," his mom looked wrecked, her eyes puffy and red and she was holding on to his father, but then she moved away, stepping closer to the bed, leaning over Danny so he could see her better. "We're here, baby boy. You're going to be fine."
And he blinked back the wetness, wanting to ask her how she could be so sure, working his throat around the tube.
His mom wouldn't lie to him, right?
He was going to be okay, that's what she had said…he was going to get to see his baby girl again, be able to watch her grow up, and do all those things with Gracie that he had dreamed for them.
And he would be able to…work and Steve…
Two sets of warm hands, one large and work rough, the other soft and delicate, smoothed away his tears and his mom whispered, “Shh,” in his ear. “It's okay, baby…you're doing great…getting better. You'll be home before you know it.”
Okay, he was going to be okay.
Someone else came then, spoke with both his parents and Steve, but Danny couldn't pay attention because he was really starting to hurt, his belly was churning, a deep ache settling low in his gut and he was so hot…skin sticky and slick and he just wanted…
He snapped his eyes open and his father loomed over him, looking down at him with an expression Danny had seen only a few times before.
“What's the matter, bud…are you hurting?”
He wanted to nod his head, but he was too afraid to move. Maybe if he stayed really still, the emerging pain would sink back down under the surface, like when he had first woken.
His mother hovered by his head, whispering comforting words into his ear, trying to keep him calm and his Pop rubbed at his arm, had found that spot near his elbow that used to sooth him as a child and that's when he realized Steve was gone.
He didn't understand why, but his heart beat faster, he could feel his body trembling, and fear bubbling up within him.
His eyes frantically roamed the room.
Voices buzzed around him, telling him that it would get better soon, but he wanted Steve and then Steve was back by his side.
Danny could feel gentle pressure on his arm and his friend leaned in to his line of sight, “…you have to stay calm, okay?”
The machine that breathed for him hissed, his chest rose and fell, but Danny really wanted to hold his breath against the budding pain.
Steve kept up the tactile invasion of his senses, hands running the length of Danny’s arm, fingers soothing the hair sticking to his forehead, trying to distract him from the consuming fire under his skin.
Out of the corner of his watery eyes he spotted a man in scrubs, fiddling with one of the monitors, and then a numbing calm descended around him again, his heart rate evening out and the little black dots that were encroaching on his vision started to dissipate.
“That’s right, babe…” Steve soothed, hands still running through Danny’s dirty hair, “everything is fine…”
He was drifting now, sounds and voices distorting.
He thought he heard his ma crying and he didn’t want her to cry over him, didn’t want to be the cause of her sorrow, but even though he tried, he couldn’t get his eyes to open.
His Pop was talking again, his Jersey accent droning in the background, comforting and Danny was glad they were here with him now.
He really loved his parents and it had hurt to have to leave them behind
For most of his life they were his security and his home until…well, until he had found Steve and Chin and Kono.
“They’re coming in a minute, bud…” That was his father’s voice and Danny thought he must have missed something.
Who’s coming for me?
“We’ll be here when you get back…”
He felt like he was moving, his sheets ruffling and a cool breeze caressing his bare arms, raising goose flesh on his chilled skin and he couldn't help but to shiver.
His brain cleared a little and he managed to open his eyes to a squint, seeing the overhead lights of the hallway whiz by. He was pushed through a set of swinging doors and down another hall until he ended back in an OR room.
Why am I here?
They all said, Steve and his Ma, they told him he was going to be fine...
What are they going to do to me?
He tried to push down his rising panic.
People moved around him, talking about everyday, mundane things and Danny tried to find something concrete to latch on to, but everything was spinning around him too fast.
And when he woke again, it wasn’t to that uncertain and confusing space.
His eyes opened to a different room, curtains pulled on either side of him and people would walk by the end of his bed from time to time.
He didn't know how long he was there, but hands would startle him with their clinical touch, someone kept talking to him, asking him questions, but he didn’t think he had answered them because he kept skittering from one thought to another until finally, his mind cleared and a soft voice broke through, saying, “Daniel…can you hear me?”
“Come on Danny, open your eyes.”
He tried and eventually he did, looking around for his parents, for Steve, but the room he was in when he had last seen them was empty except for his ex-wife.
“Steve will be here soon, I think your parents later, I'm sure they are jetlagged. But it’s still fairly early in the morning,” she said, answering his unasked question before taking up his hand and giving him a gentle squeeze. “I wanted to see you before…”
He grasped her fingers, because even though things weren’t always great between them, they had been much better lately.
“Well, anyway, I wanted to check up on you, see for myself…The nurse said you’re doing very well and that they should be able to take you off the ventilator later today. I’m sure it’s frustrating for you not to be able to speak.” And then her face flushed, but he understood she wasn’t trying to insult him, that her concern was genuine.
“I should think in a day or so I’ll be able to bring Grace. When you’re feeling up to it, have…someone call me. I ah…I didn’t tell her what had happened. We’ll talk about how best to explain when you get a little better.”
She leaned forward and pressed a kiss to his forehead, squeezing his hand one more time before moving from his line of sight. He could hear her talking and then more people came into view.
Steve walked right up to the bed, carding his fingers through Danny’s hair, a small smile on his face. “I have some people here who want to see you, babe.”
And then Chin and Kono stepped closer too.
He thought that maybe they had been to see him before, but things were a little fuzzy.
“Hey, brah…you look better,” Chin said.
But Kono hung back, she looked afraid to be near him, so he waved his fingers toward her and she stepped forward, taking them in her own. “I’m so glad you’re doing better Danny…I thought…well, I thought that we might have lost you and I…”
And he understood.
He had lost coworkers and friends before, Meka...but it was very different to actually see a person you cared for go down and not know if they'll ever get back up again.
So he tugged on her hand and she leaned in closer, her eyes searching his face...Rachel was right, it was frustrating not being able to talk, but he patted her back and she nodded, because Danny was here and he was alive and that was what she needed to think about.
"So, you look like you feel better, Danno." Steve hadn't stopped petting him, his blunt fingernails massaging Danny's scalp and he wasn't about to complain. "You have some color back in your cheeks."
He liked to touch and be touched by his partner, but maybe now wasn't the time to think about that because Steve was giving him a goofy grin and Danny thought maybe he had missed something. "Don't worry about it, buddy...you should get some more rest. Doctor Hoy will be coming around a little later and I'm sure you'll want to be awake for that."
He nodded, because even though he was feeling no pain and his mind was clearer, he was still really tired.
His team chatted on around him as he closed his eyes. He listened to their conversation for a few minutes before drifting into a light sleep.
Sometime later, someone was patting his chest, calling his name.
The doctor was looming over him when he blinked opened his eyes.
Steve stood near by, but Chin and Kono were gone and the doctor was talking to him, so Danny tried to pay attention. "We're going to turn off the vent and remove the tube." and the hissing pump quieted. "Just breathe normally."
He didn't know what the doctor was doing, but he breathed in and out, relieved that he was doing it all on his own. A few minutes passed and then the head of the bed was slightly raised. He noticed the nurse for the first time as she picked at the tape on the corner of his mouth and then a pillow was laid over his stomach and she put gentle pressure over his incision.
"When I tell you, I want you to take in a deep breath and then blow it out, okay...ready?"
He took in a breath and blew it out steadily, gagging as the tube was pulled from his throat. Fire burned through his gut, but the pain settled down as the doctor wiped at his mouth with gauze. He took a few more shallow breaths and then a spoon was placed near his lips.
"Just a few." Steve said, giving him another goofy grin as he pressed an ice chip into Danny's mouth and it was heavenly. He hadn’t realized how dry he was until the cool ice melted on his tongue.
"I don't want you to try to talk just yet," Dr. Hoy said, moving around the bed. "Your throat is going to be very sore for a few days."
Steve stepped back to let the doctor through. He lifted the sheet on Danny's left side and looked at something there, then reached toward the white dressing on Danny's stomach and peeled the tape holding it into place, pressing gently around Danny's incision. "We'll probably remove the chest tube later today, but the NG tube and cath will have to stay for a few more...think you want to sit up?"
He nodded, mouthing the word 'okay' and Steve smirked at him.
The nurse pulled off the bandage and replaced it with a new one and before the head of the bed was raised, she told him, "hold the pillow to your belly, to brace the incision site."
It hurt, his stomach folding as the bed moved up, but the pain was manageable.
"The nursing staff will be getting you sitting up a little later today," Dr. Hoy said, "but for now just get some rest and I'll be back to check on you later."
"Thank you," Danny whispered, but wished like hell he didn't.
The nurse bustled around when the doctor left, pulling things from drawers, sitting a strange looking contraption by his bed and explaining that he needed to use it every few hours to help him breath deep, to keep his lungs clear. She also explained how his pain relief worked and that all he had to do was press the button as many times as he needed. "You can't give yourself too much, but if you find that it beeps and you’re still hurting, you need to let us know."
Steve came back in view when she left, plopping down in the chair by his bed.
Danny was ridiculously happy he could now turn his head to follow Steve's movements.
Steve threaded his hand through the safety bar to grab Danny's arm. "You doing okay?" and Danny nodded, even though his eyes were getting heavier. "Go to sleep, Danno. I'll be here and you parents are coming in a bit..."
He mouthed, 'Thank you' because he knew Steve was the one who had gotten his folks to him.
"Don't worry about it, babe...you're on the mend...everything’s okay now."
And Danny believed him, so he closed his eyes, but soon, they would all know how wrong Steve had been.
Kono sighed, scrubbing her burning eyes with the palm of her hand. She was tired and hungry and just wanted to go home and sleep…or better yet, grab her board and hit the surf. Maybe she could clear her head if she caught some good waves.
She could see Chin, through the open door way of her office, leaning over the computer table, looking over Davis’ financials again while she went back through all the witness statements and the previous interviews of all Davis’ known associates.
They had been working nonstop, trying to find the drug kingpin who had been evading them for days.
The shipping industry and small water transportation businesses were advised, TSA notified, smaller travel outfits warned and still no sign of the fugitive.
It was an island…and the bust at the port had been front page and the leading story on the evening news. Davis’ face had been plastered all over by the news media, reporters and TV anchors telling the story of Davis’ supposed rise within his organization, his businesses that served as fronts to launder his drug money and the trail of bodies that he had left behind.
He couldn’t have gotten far...
And then she remembered Sang Min and how he had been getting people on and off the island unnoticed for years.
For a price.
But Davis’ operation had been busted. They had seized hundreds of pounds of drugs and drug making components, millions of dollars and had rounded up most of the man’s organization.
He had to have a contingency plan in place, but she and Chin couldn’t find it.
Really she just wanted to put the whole thing behind them, get Danny healthy and forget about the whole damn take down, but…it’s been all she could think about and it was making her a little nutty.
“Ready to knock off?”
She jumped in her seat, hadn’t even heard Chin enter her office and she could have kicked herself. She was supposed to be extra observant, supposed to detect things other people missed and here she was, not paying attention to her surroundings and that’s how people got killed.
That’s how Danny…
“Don’t even,” Chin told her, like he could read her mind, but then again, maybe he could. He always seemed to know what was going through her head…maybe she was just transparent, at least to him.
She shuffled her papers, stacking them together and then tapping them on her desk to line up the edges, stuffing them back into the folders. “I guess I’m ready…my eyes are crossing from staring at the same pages, they might be in danger of getting stuck that way,” and she looked to him, her eyes crossed and he laughed.
Laughing was good.
“Come on…I’ll buy you dinner.”
But she was shaking her head as she stood, “Nah…I think I’m gonna stop by and see Danny before heading home. I want to tell the boss what we got so far, see if he has any more intel that might be useful, ask him about the people he and Danny spoke with, get his impressions.” But her cousin was smirking as they headed down the hall and she knew that he knew that what she really wanted was to check up on the rest of their team.
It had been too quiet in the office…she had missed Steve and Danny arguing, Danny ranting about whatever had annoyed him on any particular day…plus Steve had reported earlier, when he had called to check in, that Danny was doing much better and she…well she wanted to see for herself that he was.
“You sure…Malia is on till midnight and I was just gonna get something fast…then you can go by the hospital…”
They walked together through the mostly empty lobby and out to the parking lot. “Yeah, but thanks cuz…”
He walked her to her car, waiting until she was buckled in and the engine started. “Tell Danny I’ll be by in the morning…”
“Will do,” and then she pulled out, seeing Chin swing his leg over his bike in her rear view mirror, getting ready to head out.
The traffic was light, the evening rush hour already passed and she made good time getting to the hospital.
Regular visiting hours were almost over, so the elevator and halls were pretty empty, but Danny had unlimited hours because of the seriousness of his condition, even though they tried not to stay too late.
Well she and Chin did, probably Danny’s parents too, but Kono was pretty sure Steve stayed as long as he could and she wondered about that…
She knew that he and Danny were close, closer then brothers, but she always sensed…something else…something that neither of them really seemed to have acknowledged, at least until recently.
Steve had changed and she thought maybe Danny was seeing it now too.
Not that it was any of her business…but they were her ohana and she just wanted both of them to be happy and if they made each other happy, then all the better.
The ward was pretty quiet, just one nurse in sight, sitting at the circular desk, and she looked up as Kono approached.
Since Danny was being carefully monitored, they had taken to checking in first, so they didn’t walk in while the doctor was checking him or a nurse…she still remembered Danny’s embarrassed face when she had come in while he was getting a bed bath.
Funny he wasn’t embarrassed by Steve sitting in a chair a few feet away reading a newspaper, but again, not her business.
“Hi, Kono…go on in…he might be sleeping though.”
It was nice that the nurses knew Danny’s visitors by name, always made a point of making them feel comfortable while things were still uncertain.
The glass door opened on a silent glider.
She hadn’t expected his room to be empty when she got there, but Kono found Danny alone, reclining on the hospital bed, his head canted back and his mouth slack in sleep, snoring like a jack hammer.
She couldn’t help the small smile as she moved closer, plopping down in the chair Steve had occupied every time she had come by to visit in the last few days.
Kono took some time to study her friend.
Danny looked a little better, a bit flushed, but at least he had some color in his face now and the vent was gone, had been replaced by a nasal cannula, the thin tube tucked around his ears and the room was a lot quieter without the rhythmic whoosh of the machine.
He had on a hospital gown now, but she could still make out the heart monitoring leads that stuck to his chest, the wires bunched over his shoulder, coming out of the neck of the gown and attached to the machine by the bed.
He still had the little white plastic clip on a finger and the blood pressure cuff was still around his bicep. When she glanced at the monitor it told her Danny’s BP was 136 over 84 and his pulse was 88, but given his injuries, she didn’t know if that was good or not.
And there was other equipment too, but she didn’t know what they were for and thought that it didn’t really matter, as long as they were helping Danny get better.
Danny shifted, rubbing his head against his pillow, but he snored on and Kono wanted to reach out and touch him. She didn’t want to wake him, he needed to rest, but she couldn’t help but to reach for the hand that was hanging off the side of the bed, giving him a gentle squeeze before placing it back on the thin mattress.
His skin was warm to the touch and a little dry and she wondered if that was normal.
After a few minutes more, he moved his head again, making a strange gulping sound and abruptly stopped snoring, jerking himself awake, and then settled back against his pillow, his sleepy eyes squinting at her.
She could tell he wasn’t really all there yet, but eventually he gave her a dopey smile, and whispered, “hey, Kono…howzit?”
She leaned a little closer, worried about the congestion she could hear in his voice. “I’m okay…how about you. Feeling better?”
He nodded, shifting his legs under the blanket, coughing a little into his hand, “or you know, maybe a little uncomfortable,” his other hand roamed the bedding until he found a black cord with a button on the top and pressed it, one of the machines by his side beeping.
She waited, watching as the lines around his eyes smoothed out and then he settle back again, looking more comfortable even though he was making a face, like he was trying to decide if he needed more pain medicine or not.
“So,” she asked, trying to distract him, knowing it took a little time for his meds to kick in. “Where’s the boss man…your folks?”
“They ah…” he grimaced as he shifted his hips, one arm coming around and pressing a small pillow over his belly. “…went to get dinner…I think Ma and Pop wanted to take Gracie out for a bit, spend some time with her and Steve went with them…” When he couldn’t seem to find a comfortable position, he pressed the button again.
"Oh, I wonder where they went," she asked, leaning forward a little, tempted to touch his arm again, not really understanding the impulse. "I hope he took them somewhere nice and not…like to Kamekona's shrimp truck."
"Yeah," Danny agreed, "But knowing Steve he probably took them for pizza with pineapple or something equally as hideous and my ma will eat it, because she is just polite like that...my dad...now that's another story."
“You’re dad’s something else,” she told him, seeing him start to relax now. “He had us all cracking up…telling us about all the ‘adventures’ you used to get into…”
“Oh, that’s just wonderful,” but Danny smiled anyway, a far away look on his face, like he was remembering some of his adventures. “Like I need everyone knowing what a delinquent I was,” and then he coughed again, unable to stop, to catch his breath and Kono jumped up, not sure if she should touch him, try to rub his back because he had stuff attached to him back there.
She spotted a pitcher on the bedside table and a cup with a straw and poured whatever was in it into the cup, holding the straw to Danny’s lips and he took a few small sips, nodding and breathing through his mouth. “Thanks…” he told her, holding his belly and settling back again. “…can’t seem to get rid of this tickle in my throat.”
His face was beet red, but he was breathing better now, so she sat back down and picked up their conversation where they had left off.
“It wasn’t all that bad,” she shifted back in the chair, pulling her legs up and under her, settling in. “He told us about how cops and robbers was your favorite game and how you always had to be the cop…how you used to use little plastic handcuffs to secure you siblings to all kinds of stuff…and a interesting story about a skate boarding incident.” And she laughed at the look of horror on Danny’s face. “I want to hear all about what possessed you to tie a rope to the bumper of a fire truck and then hop on your board.”
Danny shook his head, closing his eyes now, “that my friend is none of your business.”
And she knew that if she wanted the whole story, she would have to use all her charm to pry it out of him, but maybe another time.
She had come to check up on Danny and was enjoying their time together, but she still needed to talk to her boss before heading home.
Looking at her watch, she saw it was almost seven thirty and figured they would be getting back soon; sure that Steve had taken Danny’s parents some place nice, despite what she had said earlier.
“You in a hurry,” Danny’s voice sounded rough from his earlier hacking fit, but he cleared his throat and said, “Or am I boring you?”
“Neither,” she replied, reaching forward to pat his arm. “so how about you…did you get to eat tonight?”
“Nope,” he looked like he was fading fast, but Kono was content to chat until he drifted off and then she would just wait until Steve showed to head home. After a minute or so, he finished his thought. “Doc said maybe liquids tomorrow, broth or whatever.”
She knew he would be on a liquid diet for a few days and then soft and easy to digest food, because of the colostomy, but she didn’t want their conversation to go there, so she changed it. “I was hoping to catch Steve before I go…”
He opened his eyes again, perking up a little and asked, “About the case? You got something new?”
She wasn’t sure if Steve was keeping him in the loop, just that Steve had asked Danny about the shooter before, but he was still pretty drugged up and in pain and he hadn’t remembered much.
Now it seemed Danny was feeling better, so she told him, “Davis is still in the wind, but do you…do you remember seeing the shooter?”
He looked pensive for a beat or two and then sighed. “It’s all sorta,” he used one hand to make a circling gesture over his head, “jumbled,” he finished, frustration clear in his voice and his expression. “I mean, I can remember bits and pieces…it was really hot and that prick Davis had a smirk on his face, counting the money from the duffle bag until Steve pulled his gun…”
“It’s okay,” she told him, not wanting to push unpleasant memories, “don’t worry about it. We’re looking at everything again, his life, his friends, his businesses…We’ll find him.”
Danny nodded, starting to close his eyes again, clearly sleepy, but they popped back open, “you know…I think it may have been a woman…I mean I don’t remember seeing a face, but the build was slight…I guess it could have been a small guy, but I don’t know…seems like it was a woman to me.”
She could tell his revelation was straining not only his endurance, but also his voice, he sounded raw, but that didn’t stop him from softly asking, “didn’t we interview his mother, his girlfriend and the few others on the side?”
She sat forward, nodding, “yeah, me and Chin talked to a few ‘ladies’, but you and Steve met with Mrs. Davis the day before the bust.” It might not be anything, but it was maybe a new angle. But a scorned lover didn’t fit. Wouldn’t they be aiming for Davis instead of her team? “We already spoke with Mrs. Davis again, but she claims she wouldn’t know where he may be hiding out, said that they didn’t have a good relationship.”
Danny nodded, probably remembering he and Steve had gotten the same party line when they had talked to the woman.
“It’s worth a look at the others though…maybe someone saw their gravy train drying up and took matters into their own hands.”
Danny didn’t answer, so she relaxed into the chair again, watching his sleeping face and the steady rise and fall of his chest.
A small commotion in the hall drew her attention and Danny’s folks came in with Grace between them, holding her hands, Steve not far behind.
Her eyes skimmed over Kono and then to her dad, “Danno?” Grace asked; her voice small and frightened.
Danny opened his eyes and his whole face lit up, but before she could take off Steve got a gentle hold on her shoulder. “Remember what we told you, Gracie? You can’t jump on him…you have to be very careful.”
She nodded and Steve let her go.
Grace slowly walked over and Steve lifted her up, tucking her under his arm and balancing her on his hip so she could lean over and kiss her daddy’s cheek.
“I’m so happy to see you, Monkey…but I thought you were coming tomorrow after school?” Danny looked to Steve and then his parents and Kono knew there was some sort of information passing between them.
It was his mom that spoke first, “I talked to Rachel after dinner, honey…she agreed that since you were doing so well that Gracie could see you a bit before we take her home tonight…”
“So…are you better now, Daddy?” Grace had laid her head on Steve’s shoulder, looking a lot younger then her ten years.
“I feel a whole lot better now that you’re here, baby…you want to sit with me?”
Kono spotted the doubtful look on Steve’s face, but Danny ignored him as usual and carefully scooted to the left and made some space on the bed for her.
Steve lowered her down and gently sat her near Danny’s hip and she snuggled close to her daddy’s side.
Steve rested his hand on her head for a second, and Danny reached his arm around and patted her back, began to run it up and down in a soothing manner and Kono felt like maybe she was intruding, but before she could get up and say her goodbyes, Danny asked, “So Rachel said…”
Kono didn’t know what arrangements she and Danny had made, but it seemed he was worried about Grace showing up before schedule.
“Don’t worry about Rachel,” his dad told him, leaning on the raised bed rail. “We’re only gonna visit for a bit and then take her home. She really needed to see you.”
And Kono understood that need
Danny nodded, tensing a little when Grace shifted next to him, but she settled back in, her little hand coming to rest on her father’s chest. “Did I hurt you, Danno?”
“Never,” he told her, kissing the top of her head, even though twisting his body that way had to hurt. “I’m happy you came…did you have fun with Mom Mom and Pop Pop? Did Uncle Steve try to make them eat something gross?” Danny eyed their boss as he said it, but Grace shook her head.
“No…we went to the Hilton and Pop Pop and Uncle Steve had surf and turf.”
“Is that right…what did you and Mom Mom eat?” Danny’s mom grinned at him when he looked her way, but she waited for Grace to answer for them.
“Well, we decided to share a pizza…”
“Don’t say it,” Danny pleaded, but his mom patted his leg through the blanket and sheets.
“It’s you fault you know…I was curious…”
“Yup and I don’t know why you don’t like it Danno, but pineapple is good on pizza…”
“You,” Danny pointed at Steve and Kono could see her boss was trying not to laugh. “I don’t even know,” but before Danny could finish, another coughing jag hit and he couldn’t seem to get his breath this time.
They all moved forward, trying to help. Mel grabbed up Grace, moving away from the bed, telling her it was going to be fine, while Jim went out the door, probably looking for a nurse. Kono stayed rooted to the spot, because Steve somehow managed to lower the bed rail, wrapped both of Danny’s arms around the pillow to brace his incision and leaned him up some, running a careful hand down Danny’s back. “You can breathe, babe…Slow down.”
The nurse, Tina, came in then, Jim right behind her.
Danny wasn’t coughing as much, but he looked miserable, his eyes squeezed shut, tears leaking down his cheeks.
Tina reached into a cabinet, pulling out an oxygen mask and unwrapping it, connecting it to a metal plate on the wall then turned some knobs, working around Steve to put the mask over Danny’s face.
“Deep breaths, Danny,” the nurse said, watching Danny struggle, but then his breathing seemed to slow and Steve helped him lean back.
“Better,” Tina asked, looking over the other monitors.
Danny nodded, but didn’t answer and Kono thought maybe he was falling asleep.
“Okay, let’s leave it on for a bit?”
Kono watched as Steve rubbed hair from Danny’s forehead, frowning. “He feels a little hot to me,” he told Tina and she in turn pulled a thermometer from a drawer and put it in Danny’s ear.
When it beeped, she read the results and said, “it’s a little elevated, but I’ll check in again in a bit. How you doing, Danny?”
“Fine,” Danny huffed, but Kono didn’t think anyone in the room believed him.
“I’ll be back in a little bit to check in on you,” Tina told him.
“Can’t wait,” Danny whispered, his voice muffled from the mask on his face and then he looked around the room. “Grace?”
His mom brought her over and Danny held out his arms, so she lowered Grace back to the bed. “I’m sorry if I scared you, Gracie…but I’m better now, okay?”
“Okay,” but her voice trembled, so Danny reached around her again and pulled her close.
“I’m fine, baby…don’t worry.”
“It’s getting late, Grace,” Jim told her, “and Danno needs to get to bed.”
And that made her laugh a little. She reached up and kissed her dad again, “Your Poppy said it’s your bedtime Danno.”
“Uh huh, and we all know we should listen to our dads, right?”
She nodded, but didn’t try to get up. “I’m glad Aunt Kono was here to keep you company…I don’t want you to be alone, Danno.”
All eyes shifted to her and then Danny told her, “Don’t worry, I’ve had lots of company, Monkey…Mom Mom and Pop Pop, Uncle Chin and Aunt Malia too. Tomorrow you’re coming back after school…”
“And Uncle Steve,” Gracie asked, picking her head up to look at Danny’s face. “He stayed with you, right?”
“Of course you’re Uncle Steve stayed with me…you know he doesn’t know what to do with himself if I’m not around.”
“Ready, little monkey?’ Jim asked, plucking her up and swinging her over his shoulder, before swinging her back down so she could plant a kiss on her dad’s head. “You need your sleep too…school tomorrow and then we’ll pick you up so you can visit longer with your Danno.”
“Kay, Pop Pop…night Danno.”
“Good night, baby…see you tomorrow.”
Kono watched as Danny’s dad leaned over and kissed his son on the head and then his mom rubbed his cheek with her palm, kissing both his eyelids when he closed them and she wondered if that was some kind of childhood ritual shared between them. “Sleep well, my son.”
When they got to the door, Mel turned to ask Steve, “are you staying for a bit?”
“Yes…please make yourself at home.”
She nodded her thanks then followed her husband down the hall.
Kono checked her watch again; surprised to see an hour had already passed.
“You know,” Danny said, eyes still closed, “It’s weird that you two are just standing there watching me sleep.”
“Tough,” Steve said, sinking into his usual chair.
“I got to get going anyway, brah…but can I talk to you for a second boss?”
Steve looked a little torn, but Danny raised his arm and made a shooing motion with his hand, even though his eyes were still closed.
Kono smirked, but wiped the look off her face when Steve glanced her way.
“Whatcha need?’ he asked, “Got something new to report?”
She told him everything they had and had not found and about Danny thinking the shooter may have been a woman. They discussed their suspect pool, and Steve told her what he thought about some of the women he and Danny had talked to.
“I’ve been in contact with Denning…he wants this wrapped up, so,” her boss looked back toward Danny so she did too. He seemed to be sleeping; his breathing evened out, but still a little congested, even with the mask. “If I can, I’ll be in tomorrow for a bit.”
She started to tell him he didn’t have too, knew that he wouldn’t want to leave Danny, but when the boss’ boss makes a request, they had to listen.
When she got back to Danny’s bedside, Steve was flipping some light switches, darkening the room so Danny would sleep better.
“Chin said he would be by in the morning, I forgot to tell Danny.”
Steve settled in to his chair, stretching out his legs and crossing them at the ankle, “Don’t worry about it…if he wakes up before I go, I’ll tell him and if not, he’ll be pleasantly surprised. Thanks Kono.”
She didn’t know why he was thanking her, but she nodded anyway. “I’ll see you tomorrow,” she said, moving toward the hall, getting ready to slide the door shut, but when she looked back, Steve had leaned forward, had his hand on Danny’s brow, the frown back in full force and Kono hoped that this little fever wasn’t a set back…wasn’t anything serious.
Steve woke slowly to the smell of fresh brewing coffee, sweet ocean air, and ozone charged rain from the storm currently pelting his house and burrowed back into his pillows.
Muted conversation drifted along with the storm washed breeze from his open windows so he rolled to his side to look at his alarm clock.
It was only a little past seven in the morning, but he needed to get up, so he pulled himself from his sleep-warmed sheets and blankets and rolled to his feet, quickly making his bed, tucking the edges into neat-crisp corners and then made his way into his bathroom.
He thought about taking a shower, getting dressed for work and heading down the steps to start his day… He hadn’t been on his regular schedule since the shooting and last night had been the first real full night of sleep he had managed in days, so it was about time to get back into the swing of his daily routine.
Danny was on the mend, things seemed to be getting back to normal or his kind of normal anyway, and Steve liked his daily-orderly schedule, it offered him a measure of control and therefore was comforting.
Mind made up, he decided to go for his morning swim first, and then eat a little something for breakfast, before hitting the shower and preparing for the day.
The bathroom tile was cool under his feet as he used the toilet, washed his hands. He looked in the mirror, running wet fingers through his hair to smooth down a few unruly curls before brushing his teeth. He would need to brush again after breakfast, he usually just waited until then, but he had company and didn’t want to subject said company to his horrendous morning breath.
Back in his bedroom, he pulled on clean trunks and an old tee from his dresser, thinking he would have to do a load or two of laundry sometime today. He found his beach towel tossed over his chair and shoved his feet into the slippers that were sticking out from underneath it.
The guest room’s door was ajar as he passed and glancing in, he could see that the bed was freshly made, but someone’s suitcase was turned over, piles of clothes littering the covers and he wondered from which parent Danny had gotten his sloppiness from...if he had to guess, for no particular reason, he would have to say Danny's dad.
And Steve really like Jim and Mel… how could he not, they were both so much like their son. While Danny physically took after his dad, similar build and height, he had Mel’s speech patterns and mannerisms, and he wondered what a younger Jimmy and Melanie may have looked like.
He would have to ask Danny to see some of his family photos. He knew he had an album tucked away somewhere, because one day Grace was over her dad's while Steve was hanging around, and she had brought her baby pictures for some school project. Danny had taken a weathered album from a bookshelf to show Grace his own baby pictures, and comparing them to her's, they could all see Gracie was a Williams through and through. While they were looking, Steve had caught glimpses of Danny in his younger, wilder days.
And Steve wanted to get a better look at those...he wanted to share in Danny's history.
His future too.
He found the Williams’ sitting around the little kitchen table, still dressed in their pajamas and robes.
Mel was munching on a toasted bagel, her coffee mug close at hand...and Jim was reading his dad's morning paper, the one that Steve had never gotten around to canceling, because really, who read the paper anymore…at least not in newspaper form, but apparently Danny’s dad did and for some reason that comparison pleased him.
“Good morning,” he greeted as he came into the room, stopping at the breakfast table.
“Coffee?” Jim asked, getting up to pour him a mug before he could even answer.
“Thanks,” Steve slouched against the counter, cradling the mug and blowing on the scolding brew. Danny liked his coffee molten hot too and Steve couldn’t understand how his friend hadn’t burned off all his taste buds, but then again, maybe Danny had and that was why he couldn’t appreciate good Hawaiian food.
Jim sat back down, going back to reading the paper when Mel asked, “Can I make you something Steve…maybe eggs?”
But Steve shook his head, “No thank you, I’ll grab something when I get back from my swim,” he threw a look over his shoulder to the stretch of beach that ran along the back of his home.
And they both eyeballed him, Danny showing through on their expressions and it tickled Steve all over again…he didn’t know why, except that they were apart of Danny and that’s what Steve wanted too...to be apart of Danny, to share…well, everything.
Mel sputtered, “You’re going swimming out there...it's still raining,” her hands waving to emphasize her point, clearly indicating that she thought that idea was totally bonkers, “Isn’t that dangerous?”
But Jim just pattered her arm, apparently a well practiced gesture, going back to the sports section, “don’t worry Sweetie. I’m sure Steve can handle himself out there.”
Steve nodded, “it'll stop raining soon, it's already slowed down a lot...besides," he reminded her, "I am a Navy SEAL.”
He was finally able to take a sip of his cooling coffee, savoring the rich taste, but her blue eyes squinted up at him, not seeming too convinced and then she asked, “Don’t sharks eat seals all the time?”
Jimmy erupted in laughter, sputtering while he folded the newspaper and neatly placed it on the table by his mug. Then he pulled his wife close to his side, and kissed a spot behind her ear, that made her laugh too, and Steve couldn’t help but to smile, seeing their loving relationship made him want...well, he wanted what they had and he wanted it with Danny.
He pushed down the niggling doubt that maybe Danny didn't want him that way too.
“I’m making you breakfast,” she announced. “it’s the least I can do…” and she stood, pulling from Jimmy's embrace, and going to the fridge to grab a few eggs, some more bacon and a carton of juice.
Since Steve didn’t think he could dissuade her, he thanked her for her effort, praying that her eggs were a lot better than Danny’s.
“I’ll be back in about half an hour,” he said, heading out the back door and dropping his towel over a deck chair. The rain had slowed to a drizzle, but the sun was already warming up the day. He slipped off his shoes, walking through the damp morning grass and to the sandy beach.
The ocean was warm on his feet and ankles, so he waded in up to his waist, watching the water breaking around him for a few seconds before diving in and swimming out past the gentle swell of the waves.
He liked to follow the shore line for at least a mile but he wasn’t sure if he would have the time today.
He planned to get to the hospital early to visit with Danny, make sure his partner was still improving.
He also wanted Danny’s folks to have some alone time with their son too...and he needed to show his face in the office for at least a few hours to keep the Governor happy, who had called several times to remind Steve that they still had a murdering-drug lord at large.
Steve's sleek strokes cut through the warming water.
He could feel the sun on his back as he kicked his feet and worked his arms, getting into the steady rhythm of his swim.
The repetitive motions allowed him to free up his mind and just think about whatever thoughts formed.
There was no order to them, just a free flowing influx of information or a freedom to make decisions based on his personal time alone, without outside pressure.
So his brain worked its way back to that night.
He shut down the images of Danny getting hurt and thought about Davis instead...all the people he and Danny had interviewed before the bust, what they looked like, what they had said. Since Danny had told Kono the shooter may had been a woman, he flicked through mental images of Davis’ employees, his mother, his multiple girlfriends...Steve was pretty good at reading people and Danny was even better, but no one really stuck out…and it would have to had been someone who would benefit from Davis’ escape…but even that information wasn’t enough to give him a clear indication.
It could have been anyone…
He trusted that Chin and Kono would be interviewing people again, would be trying to find an angle that would get them to Davis and Steve wanted that…he wanted the man behind bars, but more then that, Steve wanted the shooter, because…
Something hard twisted in his stomach.
His strokes faltered, because Steve couldn’t even think about that…not with…well not with everything else that had been running through his head about Danny and what Steve wanted. And he was worried that maybe Danny didn’t feel the same way... maybe they hadn’t been flirting for months now…maybe that was just Steve’s wishful thinking.
He hoped not, because after those dreadful hours…days of uncertainty, after facing the very real possibility that Danny was going to die…Steve had made a decision.
And at first he thought he would wait…wait until Danny was better, but now…now he knew he wanted to find out if they were both on the same page.
Life was too short, maybe his and Danny’s more than others, but so help him, he was in love...that's what this had to be...this longing to just be with him and not just in a friendship sorta way. He wanted to spent all his time with Danny, go out, stay home, eat dinner, fall asleep and wake up with him in his bed and the rest...they would figure out the rest soon enough.
On his next breath, he turned his head and saw that he was by the Miller’s place, had gone farther then he wanted and slowed his strokes, twisting his body and heading back toward his house.
When he got there, the rain was gone and the sand was hot on his feet, but he slipped his shoes on and went to the outdoor shower to rinse the grime off, taking a few minutes to rub his hair and body with the beach towel, before wrapping it around his waist and letting himself back into his kitchen.
The place smelled like bacon again and his mouth watered.
Mel was just scooping some over easy eggs onto a plate along with some buttered toast.
Steve usually tried to eat healthy, but he couldn't resist bacon, so he sank into a chair, leaving the damp towel around his waist as she sat the plate in front of him.
“Me and Jimmy are gonna go in around ten,” she told him, pouring some pineapple juice into a glass for him.
He nodded, picking up a piece of perfectly browned bacon and taking a bite, his taste buds exploding with the crispy texture and maple flavor, “Mmmm… this is way better than Danny’s.” and she laughed.
“Danny never did quite conquer cooking, but he can follow a recipe well enough, and he likes to bake…I betcha didn’t know that, did ya?”
And no, he shook his head, he didn’t know that. He wondered what else he might be able to find out about Danny, and then felt a little pang of excitement about the prospect of sharing stuff about him, stuff that he usually kept so guarded.
“He used to sit and watch my ma for hours,” she said, slipping into the seat across from him, nursing her second cup of coffee. “She could bake like nobodies business, worked in a bakery most of her life…she even taught Danny how to decorate cakes and cookies…when ever Gracie had to bring something in, for a bake sale or even cupcakes for her birthday, it was Danny who used to make and decorate whatever she needed…much to Rachel’s embarrassment.”
Steve thought about how that must have made Rachel feel. Did she encourage Danny for his skill or did she degrade him for his talent...not that it mattered now, she had her chance...
After a few minutes, most of his bacon was gone and Mel stood, patting him on the shoulder as she passed behind him to rinse her cup. She asked, “are you going over now?” placing the mug upside down in the drainer to dry.
“I was going to stop by this morning before work,” and he used his fork to scoop up the eggs, the yolks splitting and running, perfect for toast dipping, just like his own mom used to make for him and a little tendril of something, something like happiness bloomed in his chest. “I’ll be back later this afternoon, though.”
“’kay, babe…can you give us Danny’s address…me and his dad want to go by, pick him up some things from home, maybe tidy up a little...the boy is just like his father, I’m afraid things might be growing by now.”
Steve stood, “sure, let me just see…” and he was stupidly happy that he had guess right on that one.
Steve had written down the new address and tucked it away somewhere, Danny had moved again a few months ago, but Steve hadn’t the occasion to stop in, most nights Danny would come home with him for dinner and beers or the whole team would head out together.
He just hoped it was better than the last place…
He found the purple piece of sticky paper, on the fridge, under his navy magnet. He had to scrounge around his junk drawer to find something to write with and on, but he finally copied it for her and handed it over before sticking the original back on the fridge. “There you go. The GPS should get you there or close…I really need to update the thing.”
“Don’t worry,” she laughed, “Jimmy’s really good at asking directions…we’ll see you later?”
She left him to clean up his dishes and a few minutes later he heard her and Jimmy coming down the creaky stairs, the front door snick closed behind them.
He glanced at the clock over the counter; it was nearly eight.
With traffic, he wouldn’t get to the hospital too early and even if Danny was still sleeping, Steve could just sit with him for a while.
He jogged up the steps, stripping off his trunks and tee, tossing the damp clothes and towel into his hamper.
The water was warm and refreshing, but he didn’t linger, soaping up and rinsing down, getting out in less than three minutes and then he brushed his teeth again, swigging some mouth wash right from the bottle, spitting the blue stuff down the drain.
He found his usual work attire, tan cargo pants, but the tee was one that Danny had commented on before, he was probably just joking, but he had told Steve the green really brought the color out in his eyes.
His keys and wallet were on the night stand along with his badge. He clipped it over the front of his waistband, shoving the other things into one of his pockets before going to the safe in his closet.
He had both his and Danny’s weapons in the safe, as well as, Danny’s wallet and badge, tucked away for safe keeping, until his partner needed them again.
He pulled his own service weapon and his back up out, fitting the holster at his right side and the other tucked around his right ankle. He grabbed a few knives too, putting them in various places on his person and then he was ready to go.
Danny’s car was already hot on the inside, the leather seats sticking to the small of Steve’s back and it seemed like it was going to be another scorcher today. When he started it up, he realized it was almost out of gas, but putting it into reverse and pulling out of his drive way, he decided he had enough to get to the hospital, would go see Danny first and stop for gas on his way into work instead.
Morning commuters congested the roads, but he maneuvered around some, remembering some shortcuts to take, only slightly tempted to use the sirens and flashing lights.
He parked in his usual spot near the entrance, knowing the sticker on the windshield allowed him to park wherever he needed and he didn’t feel the least bit guilty either, because this could be considered police business.
When he got to Danny’s ward, Tina was just coming from his partner’s room.
He thought her shift should have been over by now.
“Morning,” she said, looking a little weary, tired.
“Morning,” he returned. “How’s he doing?”
She hesitated just enough to tie Steve’s guts into knots, “He’s had a bit of a rough night, been a little restless…he still has a low grade fever, but Dr. Hoy is on his way in, so he’ll be able to give you a better idea. You can go in…”
He jogged away before she finished, anxious to see Danny for himself, throwing a hasty, “thank you,” over his shoulder.
The blinds were closed on the wall and door and when Steve opened it, he found Danny lying very still on the bed.
His face was flushed, he looked sweaty…uncomfortable and the oxygen mask was back.
Last night, before Steve had said good night, Tina had come back in, looked at various readouts and let Danny take the mask off, but now he had it on again and that worried Steve too.
“Hey, Danno?” Steve spoke softly, incase Danny was sleeping, but his friend’s eyes popped open, glassy with fever, and unfocused.
Danny looked around the room, a small frown forming between his brows, like maybe he was trying to figure out where he was and then he focused on Steve and said, “Hey babe…” his voice cracked, muffled by the mask and his mouth must have been dry, because he pulled his chapped lips in, trying to wet them.
Steve poured some cool water into Danny’s cup, slipping the lid back on, bending the straw a little, before lifting the mask just enough for Danny to take a few small sips.
When Danny rested back against the pillow Steve sat the cup on the rolling table over Danny’s lap, within easy reach and plopped down in the bedside chair. “Did you get any sleep,” Steve asked, taking in the puffiness of Danny’s face, the dark circles and blood shot eyes.
“Think so,” Danny said, eyes closing again, he didn’t seem too interested in talking, so Steve took up his hand, happy to feel Danny give his fingers a gentle squeeze.
“Dr. Hoy is on his way, buddy…just rest until he gets here.”
Danny nodded, but he didn’t answer, drifting in and out of sleep for the next twenty or so minutes, his body jerking every so often and when he next opened his eyes, Steve asked, “do you need your pain medicine, Daniel?”
Danny dried swallowed, grimacing a little as his hand searched his bedding for the pain pump. Steve found it first, pressing the control into Danny’s hand, watching while he pushed the black button on top a few times.
“You have to remember, babe…stay on top of the pain so it can’t get a good hold.”
“That’s great advice,” Dr. Hoy said, coming into the room and up to Danny’s bed. Kailani followed along, gently shutting the door behind her. “Tina had told me you have a bit of a fever.”
Kailani pulled open one of the drawers by the bed, getting out the thermometer to take Danny’s temperature.
She placed the tip in Danny’s ear and Steve noticed that his partner hadn’t answered the doctor, but maybe Dr. Hoy hadn’t expected him too because he was busy looking at some of the readouts on the machines surrounding Danny’s bed. “I think we can take this away for now,” the man said, removing the mask from Danny’s face and turning off the oxygen supply, hanging the mask on the headboard of the hospital bed…not totally away, but at least Danny didn’t need it right now.
“I think your meds should have had time to kick in, so let’s take a look, okay?” The thermometer beeped and the nurse showed Dr. Hoy the reading. “One-zero-one- point-two...”
Danny lay passively as the nurse puttered around, checking the port near his elbow, but he reached over and scratched at his arm once she had released him and Dr. Hoy asked, “Danny, are you itching?”
“A little…” Danny sighed, “my shoulder and arm are itchy.”
The doctor pulled the neck of Danny’s gown back, but Steve couldn’t see anything wrong with the skin there. It was a little red from where Danny had scratched it, but there wasn’t a rash, which was good.
“The itching can be caused by the pain meds, so Kailani is going to give you something to help it stop and we’re going to add to your antibiotics, see if we can knock this fever down. I’m going to have a look now, you want Steve to stay?”
Over the past few days, when Dr. Hoy wanted to examine Danny, he always asked if he would be more comfortable with Steve in the waiting room, but his friend always said he could stay and this time was no different.
Danny nodded his head, so Dr. Hoy pulled the blanket and sheet back to Danny’s hips and between him and the nurse; they loosened the gown and pulled it from Danny’s shoulders and arms, setting it aside, exposing stark white bandages over bruised and yellowing skin.
Kailani briefly left, returning with two new bags of fluids. Steve watched as she replaced one of the near empty bags hanging from the IV pole, pulling the line from the bottom of the empty and shoving the tube up and into the replacement before hanging it up on one of the curly hooks.
She had to open a new bag of tubing, screwing one end into the existing line and attached the other to a smaller bag and hanging that one two. She finished by taking a syringe from her pocket, using her teeth to pull the cap and injected the contents into one of Danny’s IV ports, before finally putting the used needle into the sharps container on the far wall.
Dr. Hoy was busy listening to Danny’s chest and then lifted the nearly empty collection bag off to the left of Danny’s bed. “Your lungs sound fairly clear…I think we can remove the tube and get you up and moving.”
And Steve understood that they were removing potential sources for infection, trying to get Danny more mobile so he would be better to fight off whatever had already taken hold.
The doctor lifted Danny's left arm, resting his hand on the pillow over his head and Steve stood then, moving a little closer to the bed, sensing that he might be needed.
Kailani opened some gauze and pulled some surgical tape off in strips and stuck the tips to the rolling tray table for when the doctor would need them.
“You want to take his left hand Steve, make sure he holds his arm still?”
Steve nodded, reaching across and taking his hand, rubbing Danny’s other arm with his free one.
“I’m going to ask you to take a breath in and hold it. You need to hold it until I tell you, understand?”
“Uh huh…” Danny looked away from the doctor then, turning his head toward Steve and then closed his eyes and Steve couldn’t blame him, he wouldn’t want to watch either.
“Okay, big breath,” and Danny breathed in as deep as he could. “Hold it, hold it, hold it…”
Steve watched a little dumbfounded at how long the tube being pulled from Danny’s body was.
Once it was free, both of the medical staff went to work doing something else to Danny that Steve couldn’t see, but he felt Danny squeeze his fingers and wince before the gauze was taped down over the puncture in his rib cage.
“Okay, you can breathe.”
Danny slowly blew out the breath he had been holding through his mouth and Kailani said, “Bet that feels a lot better.”
He nodded, but didn’t open his eyes, not even when Steve let go of his hand and Dr. Hoy took his elbow to guide his arm back to his side.
The doctor started to pick at the tape holding the gauze over Danny’s incision, so Steve moved a little away, preparing to sit back down. But Danny grabbed his arm, looking him in the eyes and asking, “do you wanna see?”
And Steve wasn't sure exactly of what all Danny was asking with his simple question, was having a hard time trying to decipher the expression on his face, but knew the measure of trust it took for Danny to offer.
This felt…well, important, even if he didn't know if he could bare to look, to see the damage to Danny's body, but he nodded his head anyway, because it was important to Danny, so he watched as the doctor peeled back the bandages.
The incision itself was about eight inches long and ran from the bottom of Danny’s sternum to the top of his pubic bone, but the sutures were covered with little white strips of tape all the way down.
Dr. Hoy explained, “the strips will come off by themselves and when they do, it’ll be time to take out the staples,” for his or Danny’s benefit, Steve wasn’t sure, but he nodded his head anyway.
There were also two drainage tubes on either side of the wound that ran to a collapsible bag, which had been pinned to the inside of Danny’s gown.
Kailani opened it and started to empty it into a little plastic cup.
Steve had seen them do this before, a nurse would come in and pour the stuff in the bag into a measuring cup, note the results on the computer in the corner of Danny’s room and then collapse the bag again and pinned it back to Danny’s gown, but somehow, this close up it was a little…gross.
Steve looked to Danny's face then, who was intently watching him, studying Steve and he wondered what Danny might be thinking.
So he schooled his features, not wanting to be pulling any number of the faces Danny claimed he made, because he didn’t want him to think that Steve thought that he was gross, and shifted his gaze back to Dr. Hoy, who had been spending a long time listening to Danny’s gut with his stethoscope.
When he was done, he gently pressed around Danny’s stomach, watching his face closely before asking if anything was really hurting, but Danny shook his head.
“Good…has anyone been in yet to talk to you about your stoma?” and while the doctor asked, he peeled back another bandage from Danny’s belly, lower and on the left side.
“No,” Danny mumbled, closing his eyes again, his face flushing a little, so Steve lightly ran his fingertips up the length of Danny’s arm, letting him know he was still there, that he didn’t have anything to be embarrassed about.
The stump was bright red and it was strange and a little shocking to see a part of Danny’s intestines on the outside…but they both just had to remember that it was only temporary.
Steve was about to say that thought out loud and when he looked toward him, Danny seemed to be studying Steve’s face again and he must have liked whatever he saw there, because he gave a little nod and closed his eyes, settling back against his pillow.
“I’ll make sure someone comes today and fits you for an appliance, explains how to take care of it, but it’s looking good too. I think if we can get you on your feet for a bit today, maybe get you started on some broth, some Jell-O, see how your digestion is, we can get you into a step down ward sometime tomorrow.”
And that was the best news Steve had heard in days.
“So, Kailani is going to get you bandaged, maybe cleaned up a little and see if we can get you out of here…that sound good?”
“Very,” Danny said, sounding a little more like himself.
The doctor shook Steve’s hand and patted Danny’s knee through the blankets. “I’m glad you’re feeling better. I’ll be back by a little later to check on you,” and then Dr. Hoy stepped out.
Kailani opened some fresh gauze, pulled some tape strips and worked to cover both Danny’s incision site and his stoma.
Steve sat, hand still resting on the bed by Danny’s hip.
She pulled the blankets up with out putting Danny’s gown back on and Steve thought that must mean Danny was in for another bath, but that was good.
He would feel better, more comfortable after getting cleaned up and it would probably help with his fever too.
“Steve?” she asked, “Can you go to the nurse’s station and ask Amy to get some supplies ready for Danny?”
He nodded, jumping up, wanting to help and as he slid the door closed he heard the nurse telling Danny they were going to take his catheter out too.
Amy wasn’t at the desk, which he thought might have been part of Kailani’s plan, to get Steve out of the room, so Danny wouldn’t have to decide if he wanted Steve to stay for that part.
When she finally did come down the hall, she smiled his way and asked, “what can I do for you, Steve?”
“Um…Kailani asked me to ask you to get the stuff ready for Danny’s bath.”
“Sure, sure…I’ll take care of it. You can head back in.”
Steve thanked her and by the time he got back to the room, Danny was propped up with a few pillows, sitting straighter than he had been so far, his blanket pulled up to his chin and Kailani was no where in sight.
“Thanks, babe,” Danny smiled. “You didn’t need to see that part anyway.”
“S’kay, Danno.” Steve plopped back into his chair, putting his feet up on the rail that ran along the bottom of Danny’s bed. “But I don’t mind,” and then his own face flushed bright red.
He meant he didn’t mind helping out…not that he wanted to see...well that part of him...oh, god...
Steve leaned over, putting his heated face into the palms of his hands.
“I know,” Danny told him, so he looked up, trying to get a read on Danny's thoughts. "You're a good friend," and Danny pulled his legs up a bit and for the first time in a while, shifted to his side to get more comfortable in the bed, “what’s with the face?”
Steve dropped his legs, shifting closer to Danny, resting both arms on the raised rails, “What face, Danno?”
"That one, right there," and Danny shifted a little closer, touching Steve's cheek with a warm palm, "we're good friends, right?"
"Yeah, Danno...best friends, and..."
"And..." Danny asked, moving in closer as Steve shifted up a little from his seat.
"More..." Steve answered, their noses nearly touching now and later...later, he wouldn’t be able to tell who moved first, but instead of a rant about his constipation face, he felt warm chapped lips brush his own.
The kiss was chaste, sweet, but that was okay, because he was kissing Danny and Danny was opening up for him, letting Steve take control, letting Steve run the very tip of his tongue over dry lips and explore his hot mouth.
When they pulled apart Danny’s blue eyes pinned Steve and he said, “You know, I’ve never…”
But Steve moved in again, not letting Danny finish, because they could go slow...they could do whatever the hell Danny wanted and it wouldn't matter if this was all Steve ever got, but...
There was a promise of more there...in Danny's reaching around to grab at Steve's neck, in Danny's whole body relaxing at the slow swirl of Steve's tongue over his bottom lip...there was a promise of a future together.
Later, after he and Steve had shared those first few tentative and soft kisses. After he had enjoyed Steve's exploring, gentle touches to his bruised and battered flesh. After he had experienced the thrill in knowing that Steve was his to touch too. Danny's body had decided it had had enough excitement for the day.
Even though it was still early in the morning, he found that he couldn't keep his eyes from blinking closed and in this more relaxed state, his mind was free to wander...to worry.
He laid propped up against the flimsy hospital issued pillows, listening as Steve turned glossy-paper pages to some outdated magazine, because, Steve had said, he had had some time before he needed to head into work and he wanted to spend that time with Danny, even if Danny would be just sleeping, which, by the way, was still a little creepy, if not sweet.
But Danny couldn't seem to get comfortable, felt restless, his skin a little prickly and warm with sweat that permeated his hair, collected in the folds of his skin, even after Amy had come and helped him to wash, even though he had fresh sheets and blankets, even though he was wearing a clean gown.
He rolled off his hip because his side started to hurt, but his back was stiff… sore, his joints felt hot too and it was an ache that the pain medicine couldn’t seem to touch.
Shifting a little more to his other hip helped, but all the moving wore him out, made him feel a little sick to his stomach, and then he heard Steve walking around the bed, lowering the side rail and perching next to him, taking Danny’s hand in his and that was good.
Danny sighed, could feel Steve’s body shifting via the grasp on his hand, and then feather light kisses dotted his closed eyes, and he couldn’t help the goofy grin that spread across his whole face.
Steve was such a sap and Danny loved that about him…all hard as nails exterior and a soft gooey center that only he got to see…well him and Gracie…in fact Steve had shown Grace his softer side first.
Steve’s hand found that spot on the inside of Danny’s elbow, the one that instantly relaxed him and calloused fingertips swirled a pattern over the delicate skin there.
Finally Danny cracked open his eyes and squinted against the artificial light of his hospital room.
Steve looked…well, happy for one.
And Danny really wanted to be the one to make Steve happy, but they needed to talk…
Well, he needed to talk, because Danny was good at talking…and he really wanted to ask Steve how…how he thought that they would work.
Danny had been working up a list while he should have been resting.
Number one, Steve was technically his boss and even though they didn’t have an official fraternization rule, somehow Danny didn’t think it would go over so well with the Governor, the rest of the police force, and let’s not forget the press, that two members of Hawaii's elite task force were in a relationship of a sexual nature, and that brought him to number's two and three.
But every time he even thought about opening his mouth to ask, Steve would look up at him from his magazine, his face open and questioning, like maybe he had been so in tuned to Danny’s body actions, that Steve could tell when Danny had something to say, and hell…maybe Steve had been, but that was beside the point…the point was, that number two…Danny was scared…yes, alright, he could admit that he was terrified, because he had never…never in all his life, had a relationship, a partnership, a friendship like what he had had with Steve and he was afraid he would screw that up, destroy whatever they had shared.
Danny had been hurt before…even before his and Rachel's break-up, and all of his failed relationships must have meant something…something about him.
Long work hours and stressful jobs could kill a romance, even with someone you loved dearly.
And it always seemed to fall apart on him and he couldn't do that again, lose everything, lose Steve…plus, how Steve could even find him attractive with…well, that was point number three.
Danny had always exuded confidence in himself.
Despite his height challenges, he had always had a good body image, worked out to enhance his form, dressed himself to show off his hard-earned physique, but now…all he had to do was look under the sheets and blue hospital gown to see some major physical flaws.
He didn’t care about the future scars, not really, although that was a part of it, a small part.
The larger part was wondering how Steve could possibly find him attractive with the ostomy... Sure, Steve had seen it and he hadn't looked grossed out by it. But once Danny got the bag attached that would contain and collect his shit...how could Steve possibly want to be naked with him, looking like that?
But Danny couldn’t say any of that…for some reason, his tongue was tied...on strike.
He sighed again, circling through his internal dialogue.
Steve’s fingers stilled on his arm and he asked, “Is it…is it because I’m a guy?"
“What?” he turned his head so fast he felt a little dizzy, but he shook it off and went on, because he needed Steve to know, that wasn’t his problem, “no…no, I’ve been…” and damn, why couldn’t he get his brain to engage and his mouth to work. “I’ve thought about…”
Shit…what is my major malfunction?
“So, you’ve thought about it, but never acted on it?”
“Yes…no…I mean…Damnit!” Danny shifted more to his back, wincing, but pressed the button to raise the bed, bringing him closer to Steve.
He felt a rush of heat streak up his chest and waited with his head bowed, breathing harshly through his nose as a wave of dizziness surged through him, but when it passed he tried again, feeling more confident in his speech now that he was eye level with Steve, “Yes,” he managed, “I have thought about it and yes, I was interested…when I was younger, but it…” he didn’t want to open up a whole new can of worms, so he decided not to get into his past failures. “It’s not that, okay…I like you, Steve…I like you a lot.”
And then some.
“The thing is…you may not know this about me, but I’m a worrier.”
Danny watched as Steve’s face went from concerned to amused, “A worrier, you say?”
“Yes, Steven…a worrier, as in I worry…a lot…about all kinds of stuff, but especially about people I love…” and then Steve leaned in and took his mouth again, this time not so chaste and sweet, running a sly tongue across his bottom lip, teasing his mouth opened and delving in, stroking the inside of his cheek before pulling away, Steve's hands resting firmly over his own where they were gripping the sheets.
When Danny finally remembered that in order to see, he would need to open his eyes, Steve was still close, his head slightly canted to the side and Danny could only make out his smirking smile, the pointy tip of his nose and then Steve said, “So you love me than…” lips so close he could feel the wet heat of them over his skin.
“Yes,” he sighed, despite all the thoughts swirling through his head, he knew that he loved Steve, had loved him for a long time now, “but I worry…”
And then Steve was getting his legs under him, pressing Danny back into his pillows with his mouth, kissing and nipping at the tender pulse-point of Danny's throat, his stubble rough jaw and chin.
“Danno,” Steve whispered sometime later.
And Danny felt bereft of the soft touches of Steve's mouth and teeth on his neck, of the warm body looming over him and he dropped his hands from where they gripped the back of Steve's tee, letting Steve arrange himself to sit again on the bed.
“You have nothing to worry about.”
He wanted to protest, to lay out his list, but Steve moved back and looked him dead in the eyes, “listen, okay…just listen to my list of reasons why you have no reason to worry.”
And by God, maybe the man really could read his mind, but he didn’t say that out loud, he didn’t want Steve to get a big head…or bigger than it already was, so instead he murmured, “okay.”
“Okay,” and then Steve took both of his hands, a serious look on his face, one Danny had never seen before. “First, our personal lives are just that. In the military, we learned it was better to not ask, and I know that DADT has been repealed, but that doesn’t much matter to some, so I guess I’m saying, half the force already jokes that we’re married, so as long as we continue like we have in the past, let them think whatever the hell they want, our professional lives should be the same…”
Danny nodded, knowing it wouldn’t be that easy, but he could understand and accept Steve’s reasoning.
“Good, second...so what if we both haven’t got good track records…I think maybe we just needed to find the right person and I don’t know about you, but I…” Steve faltered, but Danny gave his hand a little squeeze of encouragement, because he really wanted to hear what Steve had to say. “I’ve never felt this way Danny, not ever and I’ve been with a few guys before…it was convenient…comfort…whatever, and the women too…but Danny, this is different and I don’t want to label it, if that makes sense…”
And it did, to Danny anyway, because he had felt the same thing Steve was talking about. He had loved some before, Rachel he married and yet, this felt different, so he nodded, encouraging Steve to go on.
“And last, Danny…if all we ever do is hold each other and kiss, I would die a happy a man, but I want you…you understand?
I know you might not feel like that could be possible right now, but all this,” Steve gently laid a hand over Danny’s belly, “all this is temporary, your scars will fade, but even if they don’t, I would still want you…they will be a reminder to me of how strong you are…but do you get it now…I’ll take you any damn way I can get you.” Steve’s face was so open, so honest, so Danny answered him by pulling Steve’s body closer, not caring that it hurt a little to hug, not caring that someone had walked into the room, because as far as he was concerned, there would always only be him and Steve.
As they reluctantly pulled apart, a man in green scrubs came farther in, asking, “Danny Williams?”
“That’s me,” he said, watching as Steve slipped off the bed and plopped back into the chair.
“I’m Kai, I’m here to talk to you a bit about your stoma care and then I think they’re gonna see about getting you up and walking.”
Danny nodded, but didn’t answer, because despite what he and Steve just shared, he still couldn’t quite believe that this part of him wasn’t gross.
“Do you have any questions before I get started?” and the nurse looked to Steve too, probably assuming they were a couple and then it dawned on Danny, that they were a couple, albeit a new one and he smiled at the thought.
“Okay, so I have the appliance.”
Which Danny thought was a ridiculous name for it, because it made it sound like he was gonna be walking around with a fridge attached to his waist or maybe a coffee machine, not that a coffee machine would be so bad, he guessed.
“It’s very discrete and can be hidden under clothes. It’s attached with what we call a wafer.”
He showed Danny the round disk and how to measure his stoma with a guide and cut the center of the wafer to get a good fit.
He showed Danny how to pull the backing off and stick the thing to his skin and he showed Danny how the bag was attached.
“I have a belt,” the nurse reached around Danny, wrapping the elastic band around him and attached it to both sides of the appliance, “it helps support the bag and keeps it from moving around too much. You'll need to empty it at least once a week, more once you start eating solid foods, but every couple of days or whatever you are comfortable with will be fine. In a few days I’ll be back to show you how to empty and remove it, clean the skin around the stoma and reattach a new one. You should be on your feet by then, so we’ll do it in the bathroom.
Once you heal a little more, you can resume your usual activity, the appliance is very durable.
Have you talked to your surgeon about the reversal?”
Danny huffed out, “no,” looking to Steve for confirmation, feeling a little better about himself now, the reality of his situation not nearly as bad as his mind had made it out to be. “He may have told me, but I don’t remember.”
“You’re a candidate for laparoscopic surgery, which has a faster recovery time and less chance of complications. They will make three small incisions and insert some instruments into the abdominal cavity, reattaching the colon. The time frame to the surgery can be a couple to several months depending on how fast you heal, so you need to be comfortable with the care of your stoma and appliance to avoid infection and blockage. I have some pamphlets for you,” but he handed them to Steve instead of Danny, ‘and my business card in case you have any questions or concerns.” Kai gave his card to Danny then and he glanced at it before placing it on the rolling tray table near the bedside.
Amy stuck her head in and asked, “you ready to take a walk?”
He didn’t know if he could, but he wanted to try, so he answered, “sure.”
“Okay, be right back.”
Kai said, “If you need me you can call, anytime, okay?”
“Yes, thank you.”
Then he slipped out and Danny and Steve were alone again.
Steve was thumbing through the brochures, handing the one about love and relationships to him. “Alright, Steven…you have made your point.”
“I have…” Steve questioned, but the innocent act wasn’t working with the mischievous glint in his eyes.
Steve stood up and took the pamphlet from Danny, shuffling them together and stacking them on the table under Kai’s card. “How about we get a head start on Amy?”
Danny was dubious, but he trusted Steve, so he said, “yeah, okay.”
Steve pulled his blankets back, exposing Danny’s body to the cooler air of the room and he couldn’t help but to shiver.
From somewhere, possibly one of the many pockets in his cargo pants, Steve produced an ugly pair of green fuzzy socks with little white grippers on the bottom and slid them on Danny’s bare feet, tickling his insoles, making his legs jump, but also massaging his calves with firm, sure-handed strokes and Danny said, “I don’t even want to know where you got those, do I?”
“Amy,” Steve told him, like it should be obvious, straightening back up, reaching out for Danny’s hands.
Since he was over half way to sitting, it didn’t take much for Danny to straighten, feeling the pull of skin here and a few twinges there.
He shifted his legs down over the bed as Steve supported him and in some ninja like move, Steve had him perched on the edge of the bed, his head resting on Steve’s chest. “Put your arms around my neck, Danno, it’ll stretch out your back, work out some of the kinks.”
Danny reached up, feeling Steve's warm hands skitter around his sides to stroke the skin of his back as he wrapped his arms around Steve's neck, interlocking his fingers and it felt good, really good.
A bit of dizziness swirled around him, but he rested his head back in the crook of Steve’s neck and it passed.
“Doing okay,” Steve whispered, kissing Danny’s temple.
“Yup,” Danny sighed, feeling like he could stay in this position all day.
“How about your legs…are they numb?”
He hadn’t given his legs much thought, but now that Steve mentioned it, they were a little heavy, like blood was pooling there.
“Amy said they may feel strange…once you’re on oral pain meds, the feeling will go away.”
And Danny thought that it must be the catheter in his back that was pinching him, he had sort of forgotten about it until now.
“I see you’re up.”
Danny didn’t bother to turn his head, but he waved at Amy to let her know he hadn’t just passed out against Steve.
“How are the legs?” She repeated Steve’s question, but he answered anyway.
“When’s the last time you gave yourself a dose of pain meds?”
He had no idea, but of course Steve had been paying attention, because he answered for him, “about twenty minutes ago,” and then Steve was putting hands on Danny’s shoulders, pushing him upright on the bed.
Amy put the pain pump in his hand and he pressed the button.
He was still pleasantly numb, but he guessed that being manhandled and walking would probably take it out of him and even though he wasn’t a wuss, he sure didn’t like being in pain either.
She fiddled around with the IV pole while they waited for the drugs to kick in and then she opened a package and pulled out something, unfastening a long piece of Velcro from what looked like a weight lifting belt. “It’ll help support your belly and incision…you’ll be able to move around without putting too much pressure on your abdomen.
She somehow scooted in between him and Steve, lifting his gown and wrapping the thing around his middle, securing the Velcro down the center, pinning his drainage bag to the front before dropping the gown back to cover his thighs, then another gown was pulled from a drawer and she threaded his arms through the sleeves backwards, making it into a robe of sorts.
He wanted to be, but the meds were making him feel a little loopy, a little heavy.
Steve snorted and then took both his arms as Amy supported his middle and together they scooted him off the edge of the bed.
When his feet hit the floor, he could feel his knees start to buckle, but Steve had a firm hold on him, pulled him up until his legs locked.
“How’s the pain,” Amy asked, moving to the side to pull his IV pole closer.
“It’s…it’s not too bad.”
Steve shot him a look, like he had been lying, but it was the truth. Upright, he felt light headed and heavy, but the pain was somewhere in the background, just under the surface and he hoped it stayed that way.
“Okay, then lets get this show on the road.”
Steve somehow managed to slide to the side without hurting him, helping support Danny’s weight on his left and Amy shoved the IV pole into his right hand.
He leaned heavily on it, pushing it a little as he took a step with his right foot.
It felt strange, a little like his legs weren’t quite under his own control, but he managed to shuffle…right step, left step, until he had reached the sliding glass door.
“How about you try to make it half way down the hall…go to the nurse’s station and back?’
Danny looked toward the nurse’s station, seeing Kailani sitting behind the circular desk, writing something, but she looked up and smiled.
It was maybe twenty feet away, but to Danny it seemed too far to go.
“Come on, babe…you can do this.”
And for Steve, he would do and try anything, so he started the awkward shuffle again, Steve on his left, pole pushed along on the right and Amy walking behind him incase he would fall, but Steve had a hold of him, so he knew he didn’t have to worry about that.
Once he finally reached the desk, he felt a little faint and hot, but Amy told him to rest a second before going back.
It was just him and Steve on the return trip and when he had gotten back to his room, he found Amy had brought in a chair. It was thinner than a recliner, but looked like one. A sheet was tossed over the back and one of those things Danny had been lying on, it looked like a pad of some sort and the nurses had called them chucks, was spread over the seat.
Steve guided him toward the chair, arranged the IV pole so that when he helped Danny turn and sit, it wouldn’t tangle and then finally Danny was down.
“Hey, brah…glad to see you sitting up and getting around.” Chin came in the room, a broad smile on his face. “Looks like you are feeling much better.”
If he thought he could talk, he would answer, but he was out of breath right now…suddenly exhausted and covered in a sheen of new sweat, but he nodded his head, swallowing a time or two, trying to catch his breath before getting out, “yeah…I think they... need the room, so they’re... tryin' to... kick me out.”
Steve waited until Danny shifted and got more comfortable before covering his legs with a thin blanket. “If all goes according to plan, tomorrow he’ll be in a private room, feasting on broth and Jell-O and watching infomercials about gold coins.”
“That’s great news, Danny,” Chin agreed, “I just wanted to see how you were doing…do you need anything before I head out…since you don’t have a TV, a magazine, maybe?”
“Nah…” he couldn’t help the heavy droop of his eyelids, “but thanks, Chin.”
“Anytime, Danny…can I see you for a minute, Steve?”
Danny heard them step out the door and at some point later he opened his eyes to see Steve looming over him, a funny sorta look on his face, “What? Do I have a booger or something,” and Danny lifted a hand to wipe under his nose, because the ostomy was one thing, but Steve shouldn't have to be subjected to his dried snot too.
“No,” Steve leaned in and kissed his forehead and Danny thought that maybe that's what Steve had been doing before he had opened his eyes. “You’re a little warm again…I’ll let Amy know.”
“Do you have to go…what did Chin want?”
Steve pressed the call button on the bed rail, telling him, “yeah…I’m going in to work for a few hours and Chin was just bringing me up to speed on the case, but you don’t need to worry about that.”
Kailani slipped in while they were talking, “everything okay?”
“He’s warm again,” Steve told her before Danny could say he was fine…exhausted, but feeling mostly okay.
She got the ear thermometer from a drawer and pressed it into Danny’s ear, “One zero one point one…I’ll let Dr. Hoy know.”
“Go on, Steve…I’m fine…” he didn’t manage to open his eyes while he spoke, but he could tell that Steve was making a face at him, so he peeled his heavy lids back and said, “really babe…just worn out from my trip down the hall.”
The nurse had already slipped out, so Steve leaned in and kissed his mouth, ran his blunt fingers through Danny’s wavy hair, “okay, but you call me if you need me, otherwise I’ll be back this afternoon,” then Steve looked at his watch, “It’s almost ten, so your parents will be here soon.”
And as if Steve had conjured them up, Danny’s ma and pop breezed into the room.
“Hey, Monkey Boy. Look at you…you feeling better?’
His father and then his mother leaned over and each kissed him on the head.
“Yeah, I’m feeling a lot better.”
Steve patted his shoulder, giving him a gentle caress, before moving to the door, “see ya later, Danno.”
“Kay, later.” And after Steve slipped out he spotted his ma giving him one of her looks.
She had way more faces than Steve and this one he had seen a few times before.
She was questioning something he had done or said, but he couldn’t dwell on it, because his pop had set a bag on his bed and started pulling things out, handing some to Danny.
“We got your phone from Kono,” he explained, handing the cell over. “You can’t use it in here, but tomorrow, when they move you, you can.”
“How did you know…”
“Please, you think your mother ain’t gonna hunt that doctor down every time she comes to visit you?”
“Pop is gonna go out and get you some soup for lunch, baby. Dr. Hoy said you could have soup as long as the broth was clear.”
And then Danny’s belly growled.
“Maybe you should go now, Jimmy?” she asked, looking between him and his dad.
“It’s okay...it's only ten...” Danny tried to say, but his pop winked at him and went out the door.
Then his ma handed him a book…the book he had been trying to read for awhile, but had never managed more than a few pages a night, usually passing out before he even could mark his place. “We called the library and explained the situation. They extended the loan for another two weeks, so you should be able to finish it.”
He sat the book in his lap, realizing his folks must have gone by his place and he hoped that it was at least half way decent, because his ma would give him hell for being a slob. “What else you got in there?” he wondered, looking toward the open bag on the bed.
“We packed some of your sleep clothes...underpants."
Oh, god...his ma had been rooting through his undie drawer and he had kept...stuff in there...
He was sure his face must have been as red as the fire engine his pop used to drive, but his ma went on, "Dr. Hoy said that you could wear them when you are downgraded to the regular ward and I got your toiletries, your IPod, you're laptop so you can Skype Bee, Bec and Ruthie, and Pop got you some magazines, some cross-word puzzles, stuff to keep you occupied.”
“Thanks ma,” he opened his arms and she leaned in, hugging and then slapping him lightly on the shoulder when she pulled away.
“You scared the shit outta me, Daniel…”
“I know, ma and I’m sorry,” and Danny really was. He didn’t like upsetting his parents, but they understood that he loved his job and that it was something he was good at.
“It’s bad enough I have to worry about your Pop still going on calls,” and it looked like she was going to say more, but instead she shook her head, “You just be careful, baby…okay?” she pulled the visitor chair closer to him, turning and sitting to face him.
“Believe me, Ma; I don’t want to ever do this again.”
“I know, so you feel a little hot to me...are you sure you’re okay?”
He could say fine, but she always saw right through all his bullshit, so instead he told her, “I’m tired…took a little stroll down the hall with Steve, but nothings really hurting, so I’m doing okay.”
She seemed satisfied with his answer, so she shifted back, drawling one long leg up and under her, settling in, “So…Steve?”
“What about him?” but he knew what his mother was getting at.
She had taken one look and had known, however mothers could do that, but she had known, so there was no use denying anything.
“I like him,” she told him.
And Danny agreed, “I like him, too.”
“Okay, Danny…okay…just be careful…I don’t want to see you get hurt like with Richie.”
Danny hadn’t really thought about Richie since before this morning when he almost brought it up with Steve and he didn’t really want to think about him now either. “Steve’s not Richie, Ma and I’m not seventeen anymore.”
“I know, baby…and you may not know this about me, but I’m a worrier…”
When his dad came back with a bag smelling of heavenly chicken broth, he demanded to know why they were both laughing, but Danny just shook his head, “You had to have been here.”
“I bet…” his pop lowered the rolling tray table and unpacked the bag onto it while his ma looked over the brochures Steve had left there, her ears turning a little pink when she got to the love and relationship one on the bottom.
“So, I got chicken broth with some soft noodles and some Jell-O,” he put the offering on the table, “and I happen to know lemon Jell-O is one of your favorites,” he winked at Danny again, and Danny laughed at the shared in-joke.
His dad would occasionally tease him about his imaginary friends once he had grown out of them, once his baby brother came along.
And he didn’t know why, just that when he was very small, Jell-O was just about one of the only things they could get him to eat and so his friends were named, Orangello and Lemongello.
“You want juice or water, baby?” his ma asked, holding an apple juice box in one hand and his water cup in the other.
Even though his belly was growling and he felt a little hungry, once his pop took the lid off the soup, the sight and smell of it was turning his stomach, so he asked for, “water please.”
She poured him a fresh cup and then sat on the side of his bed, his pop in the chair. His dad dug in the bag and pulled out another container and handed it to his ma and then took out one for himself.
It looked like they were all having soup for an early lunch and Danny was grateful that they would be joining him instead of watching him eat.
The first little sip was tasty and his stomach gurgled and rumbled, but in a good way.
He managed about half, then took a few bites of his Jell-O, drank some of his water, but he was full and pushed the tray away.
“Done, baby?” his ma cleaned up the leftovers, pulling the tray from over him, but left it near by incase he wanted a drink or to grab his book or the pamphlets left by Kai, but all Danny really wanted to do now was sleep.
So he asked, "Can you help me get back in bed?"
His father reached around him, lightly circling his middle and let Danny grip his shoulders.
"Yup," and he planted his feet and pushed up on rubbery legs, digging his fingers into his pop's shoulders, but he managed to stand within the circle of his father's arms.
"Doing okay," his ma asked and he nodded, feeling things pull and pinch and a pressure at his bladder that had been missing for a few days.
"Can you..." he tried, blushing bright red once again. "I need to use..."
His pop got the idea and slid to the side, helping arrange the IV pole and supporting Danny to the door to the bathroom, stopping with Danny standing in front of the toilet and he was a little thankful that his pop was here with him instead of Steve, because this was even worse than dried snot.
"Do you need..."
"I got it...thank you," and he waited until his dad let go and took a few steps back, partially closing the door to give him a few minutes of privacy. He gripped the pole, the bags still shifting and shaking from being pushed and used like a crutch and with his other hand he pulled up the front of the gown.
Kailani had left a plastic measuring device inside the toilet and he stared at it as he strained to start the stream.
Finally he got a little relief but it seemed like maybe he still had to go.
He stood there a little longer, until his legs felt like noodles and his vision blinked out a few times and he thought that he really needed to lie down...now.
He dropped the front of his gown and clung to the IV pole, weakly calling, "Pop," not liking the warbly pitch to his voice, but his dad hurried in and put a strong arm around him.
"I gotcha, Monkey Boy, I gotcha...lets get you in bed."
He leaned heavily on his pop and his ma grabbed the IV pole and pushed it for him.
By the time they got to the bed, Danny thought that his father had carried most of his weight, but his pop was strong...one of the strongest men he had known.
His ma pulled the bedding back as his pop helped him sit and swung his legs up, arranging his clothes and sheets, pulling the blanket to his quivering chin and one of them pressed the pain pump into his hand, but Danny didn't know which one, because his eyes were closed as he fought off his latest dizzy spell.
He didn't think he was in pain, already felt numb, yet it was different from the numbness the pain medicine caused.
He pushed the button anyway.
“Rest,” his pop said, smoothing his hair off his forehead, lightly grasping Danny's wrist, pressing fingers to the underside and Danny thought, is he taking my pulse?
“We'll be here, babe," his ma leaned in and kissed his forehead, her cool lips lingering like she used to do when Danny was a kid and his ma would kiss them to check for fever. When she pulled back she said, "if you wake up and we’re gone, it’s only to pick Gracie up from school for her visit.”
He nodded against the pillows, eyes still closed, breathing evening out as the medicine took hold and his bed was lowered so he could sleep a little better.
Still, little surges of achy heat settled into his joints and his stomach felt off...but he was too exhausted to really worry, thinking that when he woke, it would all be better.
Chin sat slumped at his desk, frustrated and tired, but it was still early and he had a long way to go before he could go home, snuggle with his wife and get some real sleep.
They had both been burning the midnight oil, working late or conflicting hours over the last several days, only ever just passing each other in the hallway, or sharing the bathroom mirror to brush their teeth, or coming home one after the other to fall into bed…and not in the fun way, but to drop off to sleep almost immediately and well…he really missed his wife.
Malia was his… everything; she filled in his gaps, places he didn’t even realize he had and made him a whole person.
And he couldn’t help but to think of Danny laying in a hospital bed and how they had almost lost him and what that would mean for him and Kono, but mostly what that would mean for Steve, what would losing Danny do to Steve?
Earlier when he had stopped in for a short visit, it seemed something was different, something had changed between the two men, but Chin wasn’t sure if it was just because Danny had been doing better…and he did look like he felt a lot better or if it had something to do with a change in their relationship.
Danny was still Danny, but Steve was…looser…more relaxed and whatever the shift was, Chin was just happy to see that Steve was finally able to let down his guard.
And if Danny was the one who filled in Steve’s gaps…and vise versa, then Chin would truly be happy for them.
Life was too short not to live it. And not only live it, but live it with someone you love.
Without thought, he picked up his phone and dialed Malia’s cell, thinking more than likely, it would go right through to her voice mail, but that was fine.
He could tell her how much he loved her on her voice mail too.
He had almost let her go, once upon a time and was so thankful and blessed to have her back in his life, a woman that wanted to be his forever too.
The phone rang and then rang again and then she was answering, Hello, love…I’ve really missed you. her voice was instantly soothing to his jagged and frayed nerves and he loved the soft musical lilt that she spoke in, a smooth cadence reserved just for him.
“Hi, baby…I’ve missed you too.”
Are you going to make it home for dinner?
“I hope before…we’re spinning our wheels on trying to locate Davis, the leads are running dry and if no other pressing cases come across my desk, I’m gonna make you dinner.”
She laughed, delighted and the sound of her laughter delighted him, I would love to come home after hours of slaving away on the job to a home-cooked meal, Chin Ho…I’m so tired of vending machine sandwiches and chips…what are you making me?
He honestly didn’t know.
He really hadn’t done much of the cooking in their relationship, since he usually worked late or strange hours, only coming home when the case was resolved or they had done all they could have done at the time, which was okay with both of them. Malia’s patients didn’t keep office hours either, although she usually did beat him home and he would stumble in to find a plate of home cooked food or take out containers waiting for him in the fridge.
But…when he did find himself home ahead of her, he would plan and make an extravagant dinner, set the table with the good china that his family had passed on to him when they married. He would light the candles and open a good bottle of wine, because he didn’t know when the next time would be, that they could dine like this again, so each time would be as special as he could make it.
She would come home to find him in the kitchen stirring a pot or checking the meat temperature and wrap her delicate arms around him, hug him from behind and rest her chin on his shoulder, whisper words of love and gratitude in his ear, gush about the dinner offerings, which would lead to dessert, which would lead to soft kisses, which would lead to other enjoyable activities.
Which would, in-turn prompt him to beat her home again in the coming days, to do it all over again.
“I could try the meatloaf recipe Danny’s mom gave me…it’s one of Danny’s favorites, but then again, Danny has weird tastes.”
She laughed, sending a spike of pure joy through him, sounds very exotic, Chin found himself leaning in over his desk, pressing his phone closer to his ear, and I’m sure it’ll be wonderful. Danny’s always talking about his mother’s cooking…when I spoke with her earlier, she told me that Danny had already requested her lasagna, so…maybe we can spring a little welcome home party and Momma Williams can feed us all.
“I like the way you think, woman,” he shifted in his chair, resting his head back, looking up at the ceiling, sighing “It sounds like a great plan…have you had a chance to check in on them today…I stopped earlier, and Steve was the only one there yet, but Danny looked so much better…”
He’s making remarkable progress, but…
“But…” he prompted, sitting up again, his good mood all but forgotten, worried about what she might say.
A huff of breath came over the line, a tic she had developed while thinking of how best to explain something and then she said, It’s just that he is doing so well and this morning when I checked in, he still had a low grade fever…which is not necessarily cause for worry, but it could be a precursor to some pretty serious conditions…Jim’s concerned, I can tell…the whole time I chatted with Danny and Mel, he kept checking the monitors for Danny’s vitals, was holding on to Danny’s wrist, monitoring his pulse, I’m pretty sure…I mean, his blood pressure is a bit low, but he’s still improving, that’s the most important part…I just hate to see them worry, I can’t imagine…
Steve came breezing into the office, giving him a little wave on his way to the coffee pot and Chin winced, because he was forced to make the pot this morning.
“I hear ya, baby,” he stood, moving toward the outer office, “listen, I gotta run, but I’ll stop on the way home to pick up everything I need to make you the most delicious meatloaf and then we’ll drink some wine…maybe watch a movie… snuggle on the sofa…”
Mmm…I like they way you think too…see you tonight.
“I love you.”
I love you too…so so much.
He thought about telling her he loved her more, but then they would still be on the phone twenty minutes from now, so instead he said, “Until later,” and disconnected the call
Chin pocketed his phone, made his way into the war room…or at least that’s what he liked to call the room with the his super computer and large screens, because he was secretly a geek that way.
Not a nerd, no…that was more Max’s thing…but a geek, hell yes.
“So,” he said when Steve came back carrying a mug, blowing on his brew, “Danny looks like he’s doing much better.”
Steve nodded, leaning against the computer table, his long legs crossing at the ankles. “He’s feeling better, but he has a fever, so…”
He didn’t think he should share Malia’s concern, so he nodded, asking, “What are the doctors saying?”
“Dr. Hoy hasn’t been in to see him yet today. Mel or Jim will call me later when they know. You and Kono got anything new?” Steve turned, sipping from his mug and Chin thought maybe he should apologize for the coffee.
He didn’t really drink it and Danny usually made a pot for the office, but Steve kept sipping, so it must not have been all that bad.
“Kono is on her way in.” he said. “She stopped by the precinct to talk to the detectives that worked on the B and E from ‘09, see if they remember anything else, maybe something that didn’t make it into the official report.” He leaned over the table and typed in a few commands, pulling up the original police report, the crime scene photos.
“Detective Ellison and Mahelona responded to a call from a neighbor who had a play date with her child and the occupants three year old son, found a broken window in the back door and when they entered, Michele Kapule was found on the bathroom floor, one bullet wound to the chest.
Place was ransacked, husband was at work, but came home, identified missing items...a large screen TV, some computers and jewelry, including Kapule’s wedding rings.
They found tire tracks in the yard, around the back, suspected the thief or thieves pulled a car or van around so as not to be spotted by anyone on the street, probably thought the house was empty…the neighbor, Jeanie Kruz told the responding that Michele usually worked on Monday mornings, but had some saved up vacation and decided to take a few days."
After a few more finger taps on the screen, two broken and distorted bullets and some smaller fragments appeared side by side on the monitors.
“The slug pulled from Michele Kapule was a ballistic match for the gun used to shoot Danny. The slug on the right, the one taken from Danny is also a ballistics match to the gun found at the scene by Kono.”
Steve nodded so Chin took down the pictures of the bullets and put up the crime scene photos for the Kapule’s, showing the broken window pane and the bathroom where Kapule was found, the blood stains and spatter, “there were no suspects for the robberies and even though there was a shake down of the usual criminal element, the case was never solved.”
Chin looked through the report that Charlie had sent over of the forensics at the scene, but there wasn’t anything there to help them, not that he could see anyway.
“There was a rash of break-ins through out the neighborhood and the surrounding areas in the summer of ‘09. Kapule was the only injury, so they weren’t ever really sure if this incident was apart of the others.”
“What about the husband? Was he a suspect?” Steve asked, moving away from the screen to lean on the table again.
Chin looked through the rest of the report, but didn’t see anything that would indicate the husband was suspected, or even interviewed beyond the cursory inquiry of his whereabouts. He presented an alibi of being at his office, but from what Chin could see, the man’s alibi was never corroborated.
Even if the detectives thought that the husband was unlikely, they would still want to rule him out first. “I don’t see anything; maybe Kono will have something more…”
“Hey, boss,” Kono walked in and zeroed in on Steve, pulled him into a huge bear hug, nearly lifting their boss off his feet. “It’s good to have you back…how’s Danny?”
Chin smirked as Steve nearly spilled his coffee, trying to put it down before it ended up all over both of them and then used his other hand to awkwardly pat at Kono’s back when it became clear that she wasn’t quite ready to let him go.
“It’s good to be back and better. He feels better.”
“That’s great, brah…” she shifted away, looking at the monitors and then said, “Maheloma says he couldn’t remember much, but Ellison said it never sat right with him. He thought that the case was unrelated to the others. But because of the break in and shooting, the nice neighborhood, and growing media attention, there was a lot of pressure to wrap things up.”
“So, where does that leave us?” Steve asked, reaching up to rub the back of his neck.
And Chin was gonna say, right back to square one, but Kono went on, “well, it’s a long shot, but it seems Ellison talked to an unofficial informant, someone in thick with the black market and with the skill and connections to acquire unmarked guns…”
“I feel like we may be having garlic shrimp from off a food truck for lunch today,” Chin said.
And Kono smirked, “you got it in one, brah…”
“Let’s head over, see if Kamekona remembers anything about this talk…it’s the best we got right now.” Steve started walking while he was talking, but stopped when his phone rang. He looked at the display and then shot them a worried glance before answering, “Hello? Yes…okay…should I…no, yes, of course…its fine, I’m not too busy…thank you…how’s he feeling…hair extensions,” and then Steve outright chuckled, so Chin couldn’t tell if the news was good or bad. “Okay, tell him I’ll be there in a few hours, when he wakes up…yes, Thanks Mel…I do…yeah.” and then Steve pocketed his phone and started moving again, a set to his jaw that meant he wasn’t exactly happy.
“Well,” Kono asked, because she was often just as mule headed as Steve. “What’s going on?”
They hit the stairs, and Steve’s and Kono’s long legs carried them down quickly, but Chin was close enough to hear.
“The doctor is concerned about Danny’s temperature and heart rate…he’s also having trouble…emptying his bladder, so it’s possible he has an UTI. They just came in and did some tests, took some nasal and mucus swabs and they are adding some new medications and Jim said Danny’s a little restless, lethargic…”
“He’s gonna be okay,” Kono said, walking to her car. “You can go, ya know…”
But Steve shook his head. “Maybe after we follow up with Kamekona…he’s already sleeping again so he wouldn’t even know I was there."
Somehow Chin didn’t believe that, but he had to ask, “and the hair extensions?”
Steve looked like he might not want to say, but laughed when he told them, “Danny woke from a dream before the doctor came to see him, was a little confused and upset, asked his mom to help him with his hair extensions, said he couldn’t get them to stay back in a pony tail.”
Kono’s mouth quirked, but she slid behind her driver’s wheel, shaking her head. Chin hopped on his bike, pushed the kick stand back and started it before chuckling a little himself.
Steve just shrugged, “She thinks that Danny saw an article in one of the magazines his dad brought for him… a whole review of ‘The Jersey Shore,’ his mind must have been on what he read.”
“If you say so,” Chin pulled off, watching in his rear view as Steve shrugged again and slid behind the wheel of Danny’s car.
Jersey Shore and hair extensions, Chin could hardly wait to ask Danny all about it on his next visit.
Kono spotted Kamekona as she pulled up, putting her car into park. She had lost Chin at a red light, and hadn't even seen Steve, figuring he might already be here when she pulled up, but her boss was no where in sight.
“Hey,” Kamekona called when he saw her coming towards him, “You change your mind about my job offer?”
“Which one,” she asked, because in all the time she had known the man, he had asked if she would like to work at his shack, work on his truck, work at his catering gigs, work as his personal assistant and her favorite, model in her bikini for his new ad campaign.
“Any,” he looked her up and down, but she was use to his kind of attention and put her hands on her hips, trying to appear disapproving and stern when he said, “all…a wahine like you on my truck, my handouts, my full spread in the Star Advertiser…I can’t lose.”
Chin pulled up and saved her from having to answer. “Hey brah…what’s on special today?”
And Kono followed her cousin to one of the yellow and blue painted picnic tables, swinging her leg over to be seated.
“Two spicy shrimps, coming right up.”
“Make that three,” Kono told him, “boss man is on his way.”
Kamekona went around to the back of his truck, returning a few minutes later with a tray holding three of today’s specials and some coconut waters for each.
“Here come the boss man, now.” He told them as he passed out their food, “must mean no good to have three-fourths of Five O showing up at my humble establishments…what’s this about, the Haole still holdin’ up?”
“Yeah, man…Danny’s fine, but this is about the gun we found…” Steve’s long legs folded under the table and he dug into his lunch, shoving in rice and spicy shrimp.
“I ain’t involved with no illegal gun activities…I’m an up and up business man…ain’t got no cause to deal with those criminals types…”
“It’s about a gun you were questioned about back in ’09 for a case Ellison was working on…a slew of robberies and one shooting.” Kono was surprised how hungry she was too, but she knew that none of them had been eating right over the last several days, had only grabbed what they could, when they could.
“I don’t know no Ellison…” Kamekona started to back away, but Steve looked up from his food and the man stopped in his tracks. “What…I can’t keep track of all you…”
Kono watched as the man squirmed under her boss’ stare and took some notes of her own for the next time Kamekona offered her a job.
“’09,” Steve said. “Ellison, detective Ellison says he came to see you about the gun, serial numbers filed off. Used in a home evasion to shoot a young mother home on vacation…her three year old son sleeping in his bed in the next room…ring any bells now?”
“Sure, sure…I recall now…Ellison, but I’ll tell you what I told him…too many guns to keep track of…It wasn’t one that I…well, I don’t know nothing about that gun.”
Kono pushed her plate back and Kamekona moved closer to her and said, “That’ll be twenty-six fifty.”
Why was she always the one stuck with paying the guy!
Steve stood then, reaching into his back pocket for his wallet handing over a hundred dollar bill. “I want you to think extra hard about who might have sold that gun, who was doing big business in the summer of ’09 and get back to me…we need to find out how many hands that gun passed through so we can find who shot Danny…you got it.”
“Yeah, brah…I got it.”
They huddled up around the cars, Chin looked thoughtful, but they all knew it was just another dead end. Davis might be off the island, out of reach and sooner or later something else would come along that needed their attention and it pissed her off that they might never find the person responsible for hurting Danny.
Steve started to say something when his phone chirped, so he whipped it out, answering without looking at the incoming caller and Kono wondered if he thought that maybe it was more news about Danny, but it wasn’t Danny’s folks on the other end of the line, it was Duke.
She watched as Steve listened, eyes hardening as he nodded, saying, “Yes, I understand, Duke…we’ll be on scene in ten.”
To them he said, “grab your gear, Duke has a report of Davis holed up in a house in Pearl City, sending the addresses to our phones. HPD is already on the scene and it appears he may have a hostage.
Kono jumped into her car, satisfied when her wheels screeched on the pavement.
Finally, they had something on Davis.
Her teammates headed out too, sirens blaring and even in the afternoon traffic, they made good time.
They all donned their flak vests, Chin grabbed his shot gun and Kono checked her own weapon as Steve ran up to Duke to ask for a status report.
Kono overheard him saying, “something’s not right here, Steve…”
“What do you mean, Duke…is that Davis in there or not.” Steve slipped his vest over his head, fastening the velcro and checked his weapon while he waited for the Sergeant to explain.
“It's Davis alright and it’s a hostage situation, but we think Davis is the one being held hostage.”
They both asked, “What?” at the same time, and then Chin came over to see what was going on.
“Thirty-five minutes ago, dispatch had an incoming call from this residence, what they thought was a little boy pleading for help. A woman can be heard screaming in the background and then the caller said he was Davis, the man HPD’s been looking for. The call disconnected and they couldn’t get anyone back on the line. When we got here and set up a perimeter, called for a hostage negotiator, a woman opened the front door and screamed for us to get back…she was holding a gun, but it was still unclear if she was being manipulated or if she is indeed the hostage taker.”
“This doesn’t make sense,” Kono shook her head, trying to figure what was happening, “who does the house belong too…are there any children in there?”
Duke walked toward one of the squad cars and they followed. He flipped opened his notebook and read the information he had gotten on the owner. “House is a rental, but the current occupants are Lisa Wilson, wife of Rick Wilson, a marine on active duty. They have one son, Lukas, fourteen. We’re trying to locate him.”
“Sergeant,” one of the other officers jogged over, “I got some info on the kid. Apparently he overdosed on drugs a few weeks ago…”
And all the pieces started to click into place.
This woman had somehow taken Davis when he ran…had shot Danny, but why?
“See if you can get me a line in, Duke,” and Steve strode closer to the house.
“Still no answer on the land line, we are acquiring her cell now…” after a minute or two, Duke said, “No answer there either.”
“Bullhorn,” Steve asked and someone pressed one into his hands. “Chin, head around back, Kono, you’re with me…Lisa Wilson,” he called over the horn, “This is Commander Steve McGarrett from Five 0…pick up your phone.”
They had the line on speaker, and it rang a good fifteen times before a woman, her voice broken and crying answered, saying, I’m so sorry…I didn’t mean it, I didn’t mean to shoot that cop…oh, god…is he alive…does he have a family?
Steve looked a little shell shocked, but pulled himself together and answered, “Detective Williams is fine…but I need you…”
No! she screamed down the line. That monster killed my baby boy…you understand…he killed my baby…
“Yes, ma’am and I'm sorry for your loss…”
What the hell you know about it…he was so smug…the bastard didn’t even know I was following him…didn’t know I knew all his secret hiding places…I thought…I thought I could just end it that night, you know…but then that cop…he saw me, I don’t know what happened, but he got in the way… she was sobbing now, but she managed, But he’s okay, right? You said he was okay…and Davis…he got what he deserved…
“Can I speak with him,” Steve tried.
But there was silence on the phone until she softly said, Rick showed me how to fix things up around here…before we…well, I know he was heart broken over Luki…but he won’t miss me one bit.
The line went dead and Kono looked to Steve, but her boss’ eyes were on the house. “We need to get in there...Davis’ is probably already a goner, but maybe we…”
A huge fireball bloomed into the afternoon sky, the ground around her shook so hard she couldn’t stay on her feet.
Someone grabbed her by her arm, Steve was yelling in her face, but her ears buzzed and rang and she couldn’t make out what he was saying. He leaned her up against one of the squad cars and then raced around the back of the house, to the gapping hole where the kitchen probably had been.
People were frantic, running to help the officers that were around…”Oh, god…Chin!”
Steve laid as still as possible, the ground hard under his weight, but he didn't want to move just yet, was trying to decide if he was seriously injured or just in shock.
He shifted, his ears ringing loud and his head pounded to the erratic rhythm of his heart. He could feel funny little flutters in his chest and he hurt, felt like he had been sucker punched in the gut.
His eyes burned too, tears forming and running down his cheeks. He wiped at them with dirty hands until he could see the thick clouds of smoke and soot rising from the burning building in front of him, billowing toward him, covering his prone form. The sky was black with it, the hazy fumes from the fire blocking out the early morning sun.
Time to move.
So he shook off the dizziness as he pushed slowly to his feet, having trouble getting his legs under him, but he managed to finally get upright, the buzzing in his ears subsided and at first all he could hear was his own harsh breathing.
He reached out to find something to steady himself, leaning over to brace his hands on his knees, slowing his breathing and then sounds returned.
He could hear faint sirens in the distance, people shouting and managed to look around at the chaotic scene.
People, his fellow officers, were running to help the injured as best they could, while they waited for help to arrive.
Someone grabbed his arm hard, yanking him around and asking, "...you okay?”
Officer Dunham waited until he nodded, his brain working slow and feeling thick in his head and then he remembered he wasn't standing in front of the house alone.
He pulled his arm away, overbalancing but staying upright and Dunham moved to help another person.
Steve looked around for Kono, spotting her on the ground a few feet to his left, sprawled on her belly. Her face was pressed to the grass, her hair covering most of her features but Steve could see that her right ear was trickling blood.
Someone had already reached her, was grabbing her arms and hauling her up and away from the smoldering debris, the chunks of wood and twisted metal that littered the lawn around them.
Her eyes were open, but she didn’t look like she knew where she was or what had happened, so Steve took a hold of her, held her around the waist and dragged her back toward a cruiser, propping her up against his side.
He had to clear a gob of mucus from his throat, wincing as he swallowed it down before he could get the words out, “Kono…Are you hurt?”
It didn’t appear that she could clearly hear him. She watched his mouth as he spoke, but didn't respond and he worried she may have struck her head in the fall or a piece of junk that littered the yard around them had hit her in the explosion.
The fire trucks he had heard earlier screeched to a halt and firemen jumped from their rigs and hauled their equipment, pulling hoses lose and connecting them to the street hydrants, moving in to try to contain the blaze.
Kono winced and shuddered in his arms, slapping her hands up and over her ears. He gave her another little squeeze, and leaned her back against the patrol car.
Shouting and calls for help came from the back of the house, so he spoke louder to her, asking again, “Kono…will you be okay for a second, the ambulances are on the way…but I need…”
She nodded at him, still a little dazed, and Steve couldn’t tell if she really heard him or not, but he needed to go check on Chin…a knot of worry formed in his gut. Chin would have come to check on them if he could and he hadn't.
"Keep an eye on her?" he asked Dunham, who was still hovering near by and then gave her shoulder a pat , leaving her leaning against the car, taking off to the back of the house where most of the damage was.
More officers, people who were there for the hostage situation had scrambled to help, taking the walking wounded to the front of the house, but others leaned over fallen men and women, offering whatever triage they could.
Steve frantically scanned the back yard for Chin but he came up empty, wondering if maybe he had somehow missed him out front.
He started to turn, but Duke grabbed his arm as he ran passed.
The man’s face was smudged with soot and he had a little cut over his right eyebrow. Blood ran in rivets into his blinking eyes and onto his cheek and he kept wiping at it with a hanky, smearing it over his face.
“Chin is toward the shed,” he wheezed, “I got an officer with him until the ambulances gets here…we got a handful of serious…”
Steve grabbed Duke’s shoulders when he faltered and swayed. He looked like he might be the next to go down, “Easy…easy…I got this. Why don’t you go back out front and coordinate your uninjured, wait for the medics, direct them to the wounded when they get here.”
Duke nodded, stumbling a little as he pulled from Steve’s grip. “I’m gonna check in with the firemen and see where we are with Wilson and Davis…”
“Okay, keep me informed,” and Steve turned to the increasing chaos of the back yard.
People were running back and forth, yelling at each other to be heard over the roaring fire that still blazed, consuming the broken timber and plaster at the back of the house despite the high powered stream of water coming from the firemen’s hoses.
He spotted the shed in the far corner and a woman in uniform leaning over Chin’s still form, her hands pressing down at Chin’s left shoulder.
Steve ran, skidded to a stop by his downed team mate and went to his knees, yelling, “What do we got?”
He recognized her as Amy Chen…a good cop, but he had never seen her look so panicked in the past, not even when bullets were flying.
Chin’s eyes were opened to slits and his chest rose and fell in a labored fashion, he panted with each breath, but Steve didn’t know if it was because of his injuries or the pain he seemed to be in.
Amy didn’t answer, instead she carefully adjusted the material she was using to stem the flow of blood and that’s when Steve saw it, a chunk of broken and splintered wood poking from Chin’s shoulder and Amy seemed to be trying to steady the wood more than stop the flow of blood.
A surge of sickness swirled in Steve’s belly again and he felt dizzy.
But he swallowed, trying to push down the nausea so he could concentrate on helping Chin.
He shifted to his ass and leaned over his friend, making sure that Chin could see him; resting his hand over Amy’s to hold the piece of broken two by four. “I gotcha, man…just stay still…ambulance is on the way.”
Chin nodded, eyes closing.
“Hey…open your eyes, Chin.”
Oh god…this can’t be happening…not again.
Chin slowly blinked at him.
Amy slipped her hand away, wiping Chin’s blood onto her pant leg before pushing to her feet. “I’m going to go check on Kono…”
He nodded, grateful, “Thanks, Chen…She was by the units when I left her…”
“Don’t worry…I’ll find her…”
Steve kept up the slight pressure, watching his friend try to keep his eyes open, “don’t worry, man…it’s not even that bad,” and Steve remembered saying those same words to Danny, praying this time it would be true.
Chin nodded, opening his mouth and licking his lips, trying to speak, but Steve shushed him, “Don’t try to talk…” because he was worried about Chin’s lungs, but he seemed to be breathing okay and that was good…would have to due for now.
“Malia…” Chin managed and Steve nodded, because he knew what Chin needed.
“I’ll call her as soon as you’re on your way to the hospital and when you see her, you can tell her yourself…You’re gonna be fine.”
A paramedic knelt by them and Steve showed her the injury.
She nodded, listening to Chin’s chest, taking his blood pressure and told him, “we’ll take him next, just keep holding that,” and she moved away to talk to her partner.
Steve could still hear approaching sirens and knew that more help was arriving.
The medic came back and opened a package of large gauze, grabbed at the balled wad of material Steve was using and replaced it with the bandages.
Her partner was leaning over Chin now, asking him questions, but he had to put his head down close to Chin’s mouth to hear the answers.
They worked quickly to get him ready for transport, slipping a stiff collar around Chin’s neck and an oxygen mask over his face, rolled him onto a back board and then onto the stretcher.
Steve kept holding the wood sticking from Chin’s shoulder and moved with the duo as they ran toward the waiting ambulance.
He spotted Kono sitting on the back of another bus, a paramedic looking her over, but when she saw them, she tried to stand.
Steve hollered, “Stay there,” and she nodded, sinking back down.
“You have room for her,” he asked as the medics wheeled Chin in to the back of the ambulance.
“If you’re staying, we’ll take her.”
Steve ran toward Kono, “Come on, your ride is here.”
And even though she was still looking at him, she didn’t acknowledge what he had told her.
The medic wrote something on a piece of paper and showed it to her and she nodded, giving him a thumbs up and a tiny smile and Steve’s knees felt weak all over again…Kono couldn’t hear him…
The medics had loaded Chin in and yelled, “We’re ready...she coming?”
Steve tore his eyes from Kono and his spiraling thoughts, “Yes, she's coming,” and he carefully took her arm and helped her to her feet, guiding her toward the waiting ambulance. The medic that was checking her out handed some papers to the woman and she stowed the papers before helping Kono get in, buckling her to the jump seat.
“She’s stable,” the medic told him. “I’ll make sure she gets signed in to be seen at the ER.”
And before the doors slammed shut, Kono gave him one more thumbs up.
Steve watched as the ambulance pulled out, sirens blaring and then slumped over, bracing his hands on his knees again.
What the hell just happened?
He pushed himself up though, because there would be time later to think.
Now he needed to act…to help…
Ambulances lined the street. The seriously wounded were already on their way to the hospital and most of the fire was out, small flare ups being contained. And the forensic techs had arrived; Max was just pulling up with his van.
“Commander?” Max moved toward him, his eyes taking in the burnt shell of the house and all the emergency vehicles.
“Two inside,” Steve told him, walking toward Duke, who had been speaking with a fireman over by the patrol cars. “One should be our fugitive; the other was the occupant of the house, Lisa Wilson. Duke?”
Steve saw that he now had a bandage over his brow and his face had been cleaned. Duke nodded toward the man he was talking with, “This is Captain Kama.”
Steve shook the man’s offered hand, “Commander. It appears the fire was caused by a gas leak. We shut down the lines as a precaution and we’ll be able to determine more once the structure has been approved for reentry. The inspector will be arriving and when he gives the okay, we’ll let your people in.”
“Thanks Captain…were you able to recover the bodies?” Steve looked from Kama to Max, knowing the coroner would want to get started.
“We have them around the side…found the man near the front of the house, his…remains are in better shape then the other body…”
“Can you show me?” Max asked, already moving around the house, his bag in hand and the Captain followed.
“I’ve got this Steve,” Duke patted his shoulder, “go on to the hospital and look after your people. I’ll come by when I get anything.”
He blew out a breath, torn, but finally nodded, “Thanks Duke…”
His truck was blocked in, but the ambulance that was in front was getting ready to pull out, so he got behind the wheel and took a second to just breathe.
He needed to call the Governor, but before that he needed to call Malia.
His cell was in his pocket and he checked the display to see that he had missed a few calls from Danny’s cell.
His heart skipped a few beats as he dialed his voicemail and listened.
Danny’s dad’s recorded voice told him that Danny’s fever was getting worse and the doctor had some concerns, to call as soon as possible.
The display on his watch told him it was early afternoon, so he shouldn’t run into too much traffic on the way to the hospital, but as he started the truck, he flipped on his sirens and lights anyway.
He pulled away from the house in Pearl City and headed toward Queen’s, thumbing through his contacts until he found Malia’s cell.
He waited as a soothing voice invited him to listen to music while his party was being reached and when she didn’t pick up, he left a short message, “Malia, Steve…there’s been…Chin is on his way to the ER. Kono is with him…I’ll try your office…”
The phone beeped, but he opted not to redo his message. He tried her office and someone had told him that she was out to a late lunch, so he decided to leave a message with the person on the other end of the line too and then dialed Danny’s cell.
It went to voice mail too, meaning that the Williams’ were probably in the ICU with their son, and Steve would just have to wait until he got to the hospital to find out what was happening with Danny.
The last call was to Denning, and thankfully he was not available…Steve didn’t want to take the time, knowing the man would probably want to see him personally for a debriefing, so he left a short message with the man’s personal assistant, explaining the outcome of the case and a promise to call when he got more information.
He was just turning onto Vineyard, heading to the parking garage when his phone buzzed. He fumbled it, seeing it was Malia’s cell number on the display, “Malia?”
“Steve…what’s happened…I got your message and I’m on my way to the ER now.”
“I just got here too,” he pulled up to the barrier and pressed the button to get a ticket, pulling under the rising gate and too the designated emergency vehicle spots. “I’m on my way in now.”
He could hear her breathing on the other end of the line, but she didn’t say anything and Steve knew she was waiting to hear what had happened.
“Chin and Kono came in together,” he explained, dropping down from his truck and hitting the fob to lock it, jogging across to the steps that led down to the connecting tunnel. “There was a gas explosion…Chin was around the back and Kono and I were out front. He’s got a shoulder injury…Kono was having a problem hearing…”
He thought he lost her in the tunnel, looked at his display to see if the connection was lost, but he still had bars, so he asked, “Malia?”
“I’m here…I’m at the ER…I see Kono…You coming?”
“Yes, nearly there,” and he flashed his badge at the lobby security and headed down the hall to the emergency department. “I’m coming through the interior doors now,” and once he was through, he scanned the bank of chairs in the waiting room for them, spotting Kono slumped in her seat with Malia leaning over her.
He pocketed his phone and called for Kono, but only Malia looked his way.
He hurried over and knelt in front of her, “Kono…have you been seen yet?”
“She’s having trouble hearing, Steve.”
He squeezed Kono’s hand and stood to speak with Malia, “Have you…”
“No, I called down as soon as I got your voice mail. Dr. Miller has taken Chin into surgery; to repair damage…I’m going to see if I can get Kono into a room, I can check her out…” Malia left them and Steve turned back to his other injured team mate, wanting to make sure she was taken care of before heading up to see how Danny was doing.
“I’m okay,” she said, her voice too loud, drawing the attention of other’s waiting for loved ones or to be seen.
Malia came back, reaching for Kono. “They’re pretty busy, but I’m going to get her on a gurney in the hall, get her vitals and the testing started.”
Steve followed them back through the doors, waiting as Malia handed Kono a gown, a plastic bag for her clothes and a specimen cup, bodily pointing her in the direction of the bathroom just down the hall.
Kono nodded, reaching to her side to pull out her service weapon and then her back up from her ankle, handing them to Steve before turning to head to the bathroom.
Steve tucked them into his belt, asking, “Is she going to be okay?”
“I’m going to send her for a head CT, but you said there was an explosion, so she has probably damaged her ear drums. I have a friend in Otolaryngology…I’ll give her a call if the CT is clear. I suspect it will be…”
Kono came back down the hall, holding the bag in one hand and her gown closed in the back with the other. She handed her stuff to Malia and slid up and onto the gurney.
“Can you hear me?” Steve asked and was relieved when Kono nodded.
“A little,” her voice was still raised, but she went on, “It’s like bad reception on a cell…your voices sorta cut in and out.”
Malia tucked her bag of clothes up and under the gurney, patting Kono’s arm. “I’ve got a call into Imaging and as soon as they can fit you in, we’re gonna make sure you don’t have a head injury…if everything checks out we’ll get the ear doctor down here to look you over.”
“She had some sensitivity to noise too,” Steve told her about the sirens and how they seemed to hurt Kono.
“Loud noises with an inner ear injury can cause tinnitus, a ringing sound, that’s not unusual and in fact, it’s a good indication she has an ear injury and not a head injury.”
Steve nodded, smiled at Kono as she turned her head back and forth between him and Malia as they talked, trying to make out their conversation.
“How’s Chin,” Kono asked, shifting back on to the gurney and pulling the blankets up and under her chin. She shook a little, like maybe she was cold, but Steve thought that it was more like an adrenaline crash.
Malia flagged down a nurse and asked that an IV be started and then she told Kono, “Chin’s in surgery. As soon as I find out something, I’ll let you know.”
“Kay…I’m okay, boss…go see Danny.”
He nodded, wanting to get to Danny as soon as he could. Kono and Chin were both in good hands and Malia would come and get him if anything changed, but before he could tell them he was heading to Danny’s room, Malia grabbed his shoulder.
“Steve, are you hurt…your movements are stiff…”
His chest and belly hurt, but nothing seemed broken, so he shook his head, “I’m fine.”
Malia didn’t look convinced, but she let go of him and said, “Come back down here if anything changes and you should probably clean up a little, you’re covered in soot.”
He had a bag in the truck, so he patted Kono’s arm, giving her a little squeeze as the nurse came with the IV line, telling Malia to let him know as soon as she heard anything on either of them. “I’ll check back in a bit, after I make sure Danny’s doing okay.”
It didn’t take long to make it back to his truck and pull the duffle he kept stowed under the back bench. He put Kono’s and his weapons in the lockbox and headed back to the hospital to change.
The bathrooms off the main lobby were empty, so he picked a door and locked it behind him, sitting his bag on a closed toilet seat, checking his cell to see if maybe he missed a call from Danny’s folks, but no one had left him a recent message.
He got his shirt off, turning the tap to warm and used some paper towels to clean his dirty face, washed his hands and then dried off with some more paper towels.
His torso was covered in blackening bruises and he took a minute to press a few, to make sure that they were only skin deep.
It hurt like hell, but he didn’t think he had done any serious damage, so he smeared on some deodorant and pulled on a clean tee shirt.
Even with the fresh shirt, he could still smell smoke…in his hair and on his pants.
He didn’t want to take the time to yank off his boots and change his pants, they were dark in color and didn’t show the dirt as much, but he knew Danny would smell him and want to know what had happened and would worry.
Steve didn’t want Danny to worry, so he bent to unlace his boots, feeling his bruises pull. He was going to have to put something on them later, some ointment, but not yet, because Danny would smell that too and demand to know what had happened.
He got on a clean pair of pants, stuffed his dirty clothes back into the bag and worked on getting his boots laced.
When he looked into the mirror, he couldn’t see anything that would make Danny suspicious and the smell of smoke was nearly gone.
He ran some water over his hands and rubbed through his hair, patting it dry with a few more paper towels and unlocked the door, deciding not to take his bag back to the truck.
When he got to Danny’s floor, he spotted Tina at the nurse’s desk.
She looked up and gave him a little smile, “you can go on in, Steve…he’s not feeling too great, but he’ll be happy to see you.”
“Thanks, Tina,’ Steve hurried down the hall and found Danny laying on the bed, still, eyes closed, but they opened when Steve came into the room.
“Hey, babe” Danny said, his voice paper thin and breathy. He looked hot too, his face flushed and sweaty.
Steve dropped his bag and moved over to the bed, noting that Danny’s IV lines were now in his other arm and a new bag of something dripped into his veins. He slipped the safety railing down and slid onto the edge, leaning over to kiss Danny’s forehead. “You still feel hot, Danno…what’s the doctor saying?”
But Danny didn’t answer Steve’s question, asking one of his own instead, “why do you smell like smoke?”
Steve laughed, even if he felt like he could cry right about now, knowing that he was well into his own adrenaline crash, but he just kissed Danny’s head again, pulling away a little to say, “I asked first and where are your parents?”
Danny sighed, pushed at Steve’s chest a little until he straightened up. “They went to spend some time with Grace…”
“I thought Grace was coming for a visit today?” He couldn’t help but to tuck a blonde curl behind Danny’s ear, knowing now why his partner used so many products to keep his hair off his face. Steve used the tips of his fingers to rub at the delicate skin there.
Danny’s eyes were a little bright, but Steve wasn’t sure if that was because of the fever or if Danny was trying to hold back his own tears. “Dr. Hoy didn’t think it was a good idea…kids are germ carriers, so…”
And Steve understood, “It’ll be okay…I know you miss her…you can call her once you get to your new room.”
Steve sat up a little straighter, “What did Dr. Hoy say, Danny?”
“I’ve got an infection…somewhere…they’re testing my blood and urine now…seeing what grows…I got,” he looked down at his IV’s then up to the pole holding the bags, “new meds, antimicrobial something or the other…”
“How are you feeling?”
“Like a freakin pin cushion…sore...tired, like I’m gonna break my fifteen year streak, but better now that you’re hear.” and he pulled Steve down, dotting a tiny kiss to the corner of Steve’s mouth. “Now, you gonna tell me why you smell like smoke?”
Steve sat back again, running his fingers gently down Danny’s forearm, over the former sight of Danny’s IV’s, careful of the blooming bruises, but enjoying the feel of gooseflesh and Danny’s hair standing on end to meet his fingertips.
He spotted the bowl on the rolling table and checked his watch, “is that your lunch? You need to eat…”
“Don’t change the subject, Steven…”
Steve slid up and over Danny, careful to support his weight on his arms.
After he felt the bowl to determine the soup was stone cold, he snagged a stack of papers sitting there.
Danny pinched his side when he was sitting back up and he couldn’t help the yelp.
“What the hell,” Danny asked, pawing at the hem of Steve’s shirt. “Are you hurt?”
He slapped gently at the hands, shifting up and off the bed before Danny could get a good look at Steve’s stomach. “I’m fine….it’s fine, relax Danno.” He sunk into his usual seat, looking at the medical power of attorney and living will papers in his hands before looking toward Danny. “What’s all this?”
“Ah…” Danny looked down to his sheet covered lap and then he began to pick at a nail on one of his fingers. “My case manager came in today and talked with me a bit about those papers. My medical power of attorney is out of date, lists Rachel, so…”
“Oh, okay… so you gonna name you folks or…”
“No, no…” Danny lifted his head and met Steve’s eyes. “I talked to them about some other things they can take care of while they are here, but I was thinking you…you should be my medical power of attorney.”
Steve knew his eyes had widened in surprise and a tiny lump formed in his throat, but he nodded, a flush of happiness working its way up his chest and to his face. “I ah…I ah, sure…I can do that.”
“Yeah,” Danny looked up too, seeming unsure. “It’s just, you know, my parents are so far away and Rachel shouldn’t have to…”
“I get it, Danno,” Steve sat the papers aside and took Danny’s warm hand in his. “It makes sense…do we…what do we need to do?”
Danny’s shifted back on the bed, but kept a hold of Steve’s hand, his eyes bright and watery again, clearly not feeling well. “I just need to fill in the information, they have a notary here, so we can sign and they’ll put it in my file, but we need to talk about my living will…”
Steve’s heart did a little funny flutter, like right after the explosion, but he schooled his features and nodded, “yeah, babe…tell me what you want and I’ll do…I’ll do the same…I’m not even sure who’s listed as my…maybe still my dad or maybe Mary…” and he knew he was rambling, but this was not a small thing…Danny trusted him with his life, Steve knew that, but now…now Danny trusted him with his death too and that made Steve feel…well, he didn’t know how that made him feel…he didn’t want to think about Danny’s end, not when he and Danny just started whatever this thing was…
A relationship, a little voice whispered in his head.
“I ah…well, I don’t want to die, but I…” Danny’s blue eyes seemed clearer as he looked at Steve, looked right through him. “I don’t want to live if there’s no hope, Steve…I don’t want to be hooked up to machines, if there’s no hope…I…I need to know you’ll be strong enough to let me go when the time comes.”
Steve could feel the press of tears now, but he didn’t let them fall. He used his free hand to rub at his face and when he looked back up to Danny, he nodded, not trusting his own voice.
He loved Danny, knew that Danny felt the same even though neither of them had ever said the words out loud.
Sometimes, it was better to just show it, so he leaned in and kissed Danny’s mouth again, soft and gentle, teasing dry lips apart and running just the tip of his tongue over them lending Danny his own moisture.
When he pulled away, Danny shifted back, squeezed Steve’s hand and closed his eyes.
Steve thought he had drifted off until Danny whispered, “don’t think I’ve forgotten about the smoke…when I wake up, you’re gonna tell me everything.”
And Steve thought, yes…I’ll tell you everything, anything…whatever you want, Danno.
Whatever you want.
Danny knew he was dreaming…
And yet he could feel his physical body and he hurt, his joints were aching and his limbs were heavy and hot, his breathing was labored and he could feel tears burning behind his closed eyes.
When he had finally drifted into an uneasy sleep, he had had a fever, had had a fever for days and the strange landscapes of his mind must have been a product of his condition, because even though he knew he was dreaming, even though he had told himself over and over to just wake up, he couldn’t.
Hazy images and familiar voices, soft singing to strained shouting filled his wandering mind and he felt like he was bouncing from one memory to another…his mom holding him when he was very little, rubbing his back and whispering words of comfort in his ear…Rachel holding Grace on her lap as Danny drove like a mad man to the hospital, his baby’s broken arm tucked against her mom’s chest as she sobbed into Rachel’s shoulder…falling off his skateboard and breaking his own arm along with dislocating his shoulder and walking a couple of miles to his pop’s station, refusing to cry, because he didn’t want his pop to think he wasn’t the tough little bugger he claimed to be…Rachel hurling angry words at him, talking between her teeth because Gracie was only sleeping the next room over, yelling at him that she was done, that they were over…
His chest constricted and he felt his legs jerk, but the images rolled on.
He saw Gracie, lying next to him on the hospital bed, curled up to his side, her head resting on his shoulder and then he was tearing down packing boxes, tossing aside anything that separated him from his baby until he could see her, duck taped to a chair in a hot storage unit, her face streaked with dirt and tears…
And then he found himself standing on the wrong side of the fence, watching a fading image of his brother, Matt…walking away from him and out of his life, taking with him his friendship, just throwing away their brotherly bond and Danny was alone again…no matter what, he always ended up alone and lonely.
Fear surged through him, taking his breath and he shook his head.
Wake up…just wake up.
He was back in Steve’s garage, pointing his gun at the man…at Steve, who would go on to fill his life with frustration and friendship, who would make him crazy one second and surprised him with his kindness the next…
And then Danny was back in the shipping yard...
Steve stood several feet in front of him, gun pointed at Davis, a creepy smirk on the felon’s face.
He looked around, because he knew what was going to happen next, started to launch himself at Steve when a shot rang out, but Danny was not fast enough this time, was too late because Steve went down.
Danny ran forward, wildly looking around for help, for Chin or Kono or any other officer that he knew had been there that day, but they were gone, even Davis had disappeared …and they were all alone.
Steve was in a heap when Danny reached him, face down and blood pooling around his head and Danny knew this wasn’t right…this hadn’t happened, yet he was afraid to touch Steve, to turn his partner over because if he did, maybe this nightmare place would some how become reality and Steve would be dead…Danny could tell that Steve was dead, his body unmoving and pale, but he had to know for sure, so he reached tentatively forward, his hands trembling as he grasped Steve’s shoulder to turn him over and Steve was…
Hollowed blue eyes stared up at Danny.
A small hole on Steve’s forehead, right between his eyes oozed blood and Steve’s mouth drooped open, like he wanted to tell Danny one last thing.
It’s not real…it’s not. Steve’s not dead.
Danny’s breath caught and his chest clinched and his shoulders shook in a silent sob.
And when he opened his eyes for real, ran a shaking hand up to scrub at them, they were dry, but his body still shook and shuddered and heaved to the remembered hurts.
It took him a few minutes to realize he was really awake and for the strange dreams to start to fade, for the shaking of his body to settle and for his heart to calm to a more normal rhythm.
He carefully moved his head on the flat pillow, feeling his headache flare as he looked around the room.
He was still in the ICU…still in pain and sick…still bone tired.
He didn’t know what time it was, because his view never changed.
The lights were bright in the windowless room and the curtain by his bed was pulled, so he couldn’t see the sliding glass door or out to the hall and not being able to see started his heart to racing again.
He knew there were people out there, a nurse or doctor, other patients, but his mind gibbered that he was all alone...there was no one else out there beyond this room…
When he was younger, he was always anxious about being alone…left alone in his house or even left to wait by the shopping cart while his ma went to get the family car.
One time his pop was working nights and so he wouldn’t have come home until after the kids were all on the bus and his mom had gone into work. Danny had been sick, the last in his family to catch a bug that had made the rounds with the neighborhood kids and his class mates and his ma had let him skip school, had let him sleep in while she went on to work with a promise that his pop would be home soon.
Laying here now, Danny could still remember slipping from his bed and watching his ma back her station wagon out of the drive and pull away and down the street, turning the corner and out of his view.
The street was empty, not another car or kid waiting to go to school…
He had stayed by the front window, cold and miserable, feeling like he needed to puke, and waiting for his pop, watching the clock tick past the time his dad should be home. He split his time watching the street and watching the clock and with each passing minute it had become harder and harder to breathe.
He could remember his stomach twisting and sweat breaking out on his skin and the panic that pumped through his veins…he had felt a lot like he felt right now.
But he couldn’t push the irrational fear away, couldn’t reason with himself to think clearly, to assure himself that he was an adult now and that he didn’t need to be afraid of being alone, and all the while his heart rattled on in his chest and his breaths came in short, aborted pants.
His legs moved sluggishly against the sheets and he felt the leads and wires pull on his chest and back as he shifted, trying to get up, because he had to get up…he had to get out, he needed to find someone…find Steve or he was going to…
He had been afraid, so afraid...since he had heard the shot and had felt the bullet rip into him…since starting this…whatever it was with Steve…
What if it didn’t work out between them?
It never worked out…
Rachel, Matt, and Gabby…people always left him…
What if Steve gets tired of me…my attitude and my big mouth…my messiness…Steve is such a neat freak…
What about my complaining and and the food I like?
What if I don’t get better and never get the chance to find out?
Danny suddenly reached up and slapped at the machine by his bed, turning it off like he had seen the nurses do when they had gotten him up to walk. He yanked the wires from the machine, trying to get the safety rail out of the way, managing to swing his legs down so he could sit up, because he had to…go…the walls were closing in all around him and he needed to get out of this room…
He gripped the side of the bed and pulled upright, leaning forward over his achy belly, trying to hold onto his incision.
Spasms rippled through his pelvis and he really needed to pee, but that would have to wait until…until he found Steve.
He needed to find Steve...Steve said he had wanted Danny…anyway he could get him, so if that were true, than Danny wouldn’t be alone anymore and Steve would help him…Steve would take him away from here, away from the pain and sickness, away from the uncertainty.
Because Danny was tired of worrying, tired of being scared about…well, about everything.
He knew if he could just find Steve, he wouldn’t have to worry, because Steve would have his back, Steve would take care of Danny so that Danny wouldn’t have to worry anymore.
Danny tried to shake off the dizziness that swirled through his head, chasing his disjointed thoughts round and around.
He managed to reach for the IV pole and roll it toward him, because he was still connected, still had lines in his arm, fluids and antibiotics and who new what else and the catheter was still in his back, even though they had been weaning him from it’s use, offering him oral pain management and muscle relaxants.
He leaned heavily on the pole, sliding to his bare feet, huffing for breath and hung on, needing the support.
He took a tentative step toward the door, heard harried voices coming down the hall and the drawn curtain ripping back on squeaky gliders, but before he could bring his eyes up from his planted feet his knees unlocked and he was falling, pulling the IV pole over as he went.
Shouting echoed round the room, spun around his head and someone was leaning over him, whispering urgently into his ear, telling him to hold still, “Lie still, Danno…don’t try to move.”
Danny didn’t think he was trying to move.
“Slow you’re breathing, babe…slow down…”
He was still huffing, but he took in a deep breath and held it, trying to ease his racing heart, feeling a warm wetness seep into the front of his gown and realized he had pissed himself and then just who it was that was on the floor with him.
He pushed back, pushed at the hands that tried to sooth him. “No, Steve…no…”
Someone else was talking…someone was telling him he was having a panic attack and that they were going to give him something to help him calm down, but he didn’t want anything. His teeth were chattering, but he managed to squeak out. “No…I, umm, I, I…”
He felt the brush of something cool and damp near his shoulder and then a pinch as a needle pierced his skin.
A warm flush spread outward, consuming his body, relaxing his muscles and easing his breathing and Steve’s face finally swam into view, or maybe he had just finally opened his eyes. “That’s it, Danno…relax and let the medicine help you.”
“Umm,” he locked eyes with Steve and then gripped weakly at Steve’s polo. “I ah…I,” and he didn’t know what he was going to say, but Steve hushed him anyway.
“It’s okay, babe…you don’t need to worry…just relax. Did you hurt yourself?”
Danny didn’t think so, except for maybe his pride because he could feel the cooling pee he was sitting in and the material of the gown that lay sodden against his legs.
“I think you’re gonna have a shiner, Danno.”
And his face didn’t hurt until Steve had mentioned it. He uncurled his fingers from Steve’s shirt and lifted his hand toward his right eye, feeling a tenderness around his cheek bone before Steve’s hand joined his and twined their fingers together, moving Danny’s hand to rest against Steve’s chest again.
Amy knelt beside him, pulling the ties to his gown and Steve helped ease it from his shoulders, letting it pool in his lap and then she threaded his arm through a clean one, tucking it over the shoulder of the arm connected to the IV lines. “If you can get him into the bed, we’ll clean up and then you can help us get him settled. Doctor Hoy will be in soon and will look him over, but I think he’s fine, except for the eye.”
Danny heard them talking, talking about him, but he was too tired to care, feeling warm and comfortable…safe in the circle of Steve’s arms.
Steve shifted, getting an arm under Danny’s knees and scooped him up. Cool air caressed his flesh before Steve settled him onto the bed and covered him with the sheets and blanket, keeping a tight hold on Danny’s hand.
He could see both Tina and Amy working on a small puddle and a few smears of blood and he wondered where he was bleeding. The soiled gown got tossed into a clothes hamper and a pile of towels and fresh sheets were placed on the bed side table.
Amy came over while Tina finished with the clean up. “Do you hurt anywhere Danny?” she asked, moving the bedding to look at his healing incision and stoma, feeling around his belly, but he didn’t hurt there.
His voice still warbled, “my…my hips…little sore.” It had taken the brunt of his fall and somehow he had managed to smack his face on something too.
The IV pole had been righted and Amy looked over the bags and connections to be sure they were in working order before moving on to look at his reddening cheek bone. “I’ll get you an ice pack.”
She left them alone and Tina had stepped out too, pulling the curtain back to cover the sliding glass door and Danny tensed, an uneasy feeling niggled at the back of his brain, but he was able to push it down this time. “What time is it,” he asked, partly to distract himself from thinking about what had just happened and partly because he really wanted to know.
Steve glanced at his watch before answering, “It’s a little after six in the morning…did you get up to use the bathroom, Danno?”
He nodded, knowing by Steve’s raised brow that he wasn’t being totally truthful, but Danny wasn’t ready to tell Steve the real reason he had tried to flee the room, not yet at least.
And since he christened the floor, it was a plausible excuse.
He lifted his hips, feeling sticky and dirty and worried that he smelled. “What time is it,” he asked again and Steve frowned at him.
“It’s almost six fifteen, babe…”
“Oh…okay…in the morning?”
“Yes, Danno…its morning.”
Tina slipped back into the room, wrapping a chemical ice pack into a wash cloth and holding it to his face, letting Danny press it over his cheek bone where he hurt the most. “How are you feeling, Danny? Still no unusual pains?”
He shook his head, feeling his eyes droop, but he didn’t want to go back to sleep…he might end up back in that place, so he fought to keep them open and slurred, “no…just sorta sore all over.”
“Okay…you need to tell me if anything doesn’t feel right, but I think you lucked out and didn’t seriously injure anything else.” She patted his arm and went on, “you need to get help though, if you want to get up and out of bed. Okay?”
“Kay,” he mumbled, still fighting to keep his eyes opened.
“Okay, I’m gonna get you cleaned up and then you can rest some before your breakfast gets here.”
“What time is it?”
He saw the worried look Steve shot her, but he didn’t know why Steve would be worried.
“It’s early morning, Danny. It’s Wednesday and you’ve been here in the ICU a little over a week. I know it’s hard to keep track, so how about I talk with Steve and your parents about some ways to help you remember?”
He nodded, finally closing his eyes.
Steve squeezed his hand and he felt his fingers twitch in the lose grasp, but he was losing his battle to stay awake and alert.
“Okay…just rest while we do the work.’
He thought he nodded again, but he wasn’t sure.
He could feel something being spread over his blanket and then held in place by either Tina or Steve while his blanket and sheets were removed and he realized he had a bath sheet covering him.
The arm without the IV was exposed and the gown pulled away, but his body was still covered with the sheet.
His arm was lifted and a warm, damp cloth wiped downward, followed by a soft towel to dry him. The process was repeated with the other arm and then over and across his chest, careful of the sticky disks still attached to his skin.
His belly was next, lower and over the sticky parts and then down his legs, his feet and he drifted, only rousing when he was helped to his side and the cloth moved rhythmically down his back.
He cracked opened his eyes to see that Steve was standing in front of him, rubbing his shoulder as Tina continued to clean him. When she was done, she reattached the wires to the silenced machine, turning it back on before changing his bedding by flipping his body this way and that and then she and Steve helped get him into a fresh gown.
A new top sheet and blanket replaced the bath sheet and Tina tossed the soiled linens into the hamper, rolling it out in front of her when she left.
“Feeling better, babe?’ Steve’s hand moved up to Danny’s forehead, scratching through his unruly hair and Danny was secretly please Steve had figured out how much he liked for someone to rub and massage his head. It was one of his quirks and he was about to tell Steve not to stop and opened his eyes, but Steve was frowning. “You’re still pretty hot, Danno. Dr. Hoy said they were going to try something different if your fever hadn’t gone down some.”
Danny sighed, partly because of the head rub and partly because he was tired of having new meds introduced and having to deal with each new side effect and he was tired of needing new meds…he was so damned tired of being tired.
He was losing time, fitfully sleeping all hours of the day and night, missing visits from his parents and Steve, phone calls from Gracie…
He was suppose to be in a regular room by now, but because he already had a bladder infection and there was worry that the bacteria would spread to other organs Danny was being aggressively treated and Dr. Hoy had decided a few more days of monitoring in the ICU.
But Danny wasn’t sure how long ago that was, because time didn’t have a lot of meaning in his current state.
He sorta felt like he existed in a fishbowl, but then a fishbowl had a view and all he had to look at was the same three walls and the curtained window and sliding door to the hall.
The lights were always on, unless someone thought to dim them if he fell off to sleep, but it made it hard to determine the time of day and that made him anxious for some reason, especially if he woke to find himself alone.
Steve’s hand stilled in his hair and he peeled open his eyes to see a fellow carrying in a tray of food. “I have your breakfast, Mr. Williams.”
Steve stood and rolled the table over Danny’s lap as the tray was placed on it.
“Have a good day, sir.”
Steve took the lid off as Danny raised the head of the bed and adjusted the pillows. “What time is it,” he asked, because he knew Steve had come early and it shouldn’t be time for breakfast yet, unless he had actually fallen asleep.
“A little before nine in the morning…looks good,” Steve smiled at him, but Danny doubted that.
Steve unwrapped a plastic spoon and put it on top of the folded napkin, taking a little cap off a cup of black coffee and opened a carton of apple juice.
There was a bowl of something creamy looking, cereal…maybe cream of rice or runny oatmeal, a slice of lightly toasted bread and a pat of butter, a small cup of plain yogurt and a packet each of salt and pepper.
Danny’s taste buds missed bacon and sugary malasadas, but his belly was on the same page as his breakfast, sorta…he actually hadn’t been hungry since his surgery, but he ate what he could anyway.
“You’re not going to watch me eat, are you…that’s almost as creepy as when you watch me sleep.”
Steve smirked, but sat back in his seat, picking up a cup of coffee he must have gotten while Danny was drugged and sipped, nodding his head toward Danny’s breakfast. “Eat, babe…I swear I won’t stare…”
“Don’t you have to be at work or something?” and Danny used his plastic utensil to poke at the cereal. He put a tiny bit on the end of the spoon to taste it, missing the look that crossed Steve’s face.
“We are out of commission for awhile, remember?”
Danny dropped the spoon, remembering why they were out of commission, because three-fourths of the team was in the hospital, “I ah…I…”
“No worries, Danno…you’ve been sleeping so much, I wondered if you even remembered me telling you…now keep eating.”
Danny picked his spoon back up, trying to remember Steve actually telling him. He recalled the smell of smoke and Steve’s bruised torso and he knew that Chin was recovering from surgery and that Kono had to stay over night, but how long ago had that been?
“Are they doing alright?” and he wondered if he had asked that question before, because Steve quirked an eyebrow at him.
“Everyone’s fine. The other injured have all already been released…Kono’s hearing is getting better and Chin’s getting sprung sometime today. He might need some rehab, but he was pretty lucky, all things considered.”
Danny nodded; dropping the butter into his cereal and sprinkled it with the salt and pepper, trying to coax some flavor, taking another small bite. “What’s happening with the case if we’re done for an unforeseeable future?”
“Denning has some analyst looking over the evidence along with Homicide…seems that Wilson had a connection with Kapule. Both the husbands were military. They’re trying to track the gun used in the attempted murder of Kapule and how it got into Wilson’s hands…fire inspector determined the explosion was intentional. A pipe behind the stove was disconnected. Wilson had to be identified using dental records, but Davis’ body was in better shape. Max told me he had drugs in his system, one bullet wound to each knee and had somehow managed to crawl toward the front of the house.”
Danny sipped his cooling coffee, wishing he could sweeten it, but sugar was out for awhile, anyway. “I’m trying to work up some sympathy here, but…”
“Karma’s a bitch,” Steve supplied.
Danny agreed, “Got what was coming his way, I guess…but what if Kapule was involved with his wife’s attempted murder, shouldn’t…”
“Nah,” Steve stood, putting his coffee on the table next to Danny’s. “Let homicide take care of it…now, stop stalling and eat.” He dipped the spoon into the cereal and raised it toward Danny’s lips.
“Seriously,” Danny complained, but he opened his mouth and did his best to choke down the bite of food. His stomach was already unsettled and the cereal sat in his gut in a solid lump, but he knew he had to eat anyway, had to get his strength back so he could get the hell out of here.
But being hand fed was never one of his fantasies, so he grabbed the spoon before Steve could force another on him.
He managed two or three more bites of the cereal and then tried the yogurt, nibbling on the dry toast hoping it would help ease his stomach.
“You’re looking a little green, Danno…” and Steve rubbed his fingers through his hair again, smiling like a loon when Danny groaned, leaning into the touch.
“I think I’m done…okay? I can’t eat anymore…”
“It’s okay. Dr. Hoy said it’ll take awhile to get your appetite back and for your digestion to come back on line…eat some more yogurt though…you need the live cultures.”
“Ewww…” Danny thickly swallowed, “I did not need that visual, thank you very much.”
“Morning, Danny…” Speaking of Dr. Hoy… “I heard you tried to take a walk this morning?”
Danny raised his hand to probe at his cheek bone, wondering where the ice pack had gone. It hurt, was a little tender, but he had had worse.
“You’re definitely gonna have a black eye, Danno.”
That was just great!
The doctor leaned on the raised bed rail, saying, “Tina told me you were a little confused…a little anxious too…and that happens when patients are with us for more than a few days, so there are some things we can do to help you feel more comfortable.
Things like only dimming the lights in the evening, turning most of them off at night and leaving them on during the day, even if you do take a nap. That way your body can get back into a more normal Circadian rhythm, which can help with your sleep patterns and blood pressure, your over all sense of well being…
“Anything else we can do, Doc?” Steve leaned along the other side of the bed, resting his hands near Danny’s head.
“Well, we can bring in an alarm clock with a low light display so Danny can always see for himself the time and time of day. We have them here, so I’ll inform Tina…I see you didn’t eat very much. How’s your belly feeling?’ The doctor pulled back his sheets and lifted his gown, feeling around his stomach.
Danny answered, “I don’t feel hungry, so sometimes it’s hard to eat.”
The doctor nodded, moving on to look at the read outs before taking the thermometer out of the bed side drawer and sticking it in Danny’s ear until it beeped. “One zero two point two…how’s your pain?”
“It’s manageable…I’m mostly sore and achy…”
“Okay, here’s what we are going to do. I’m gonna remove the PCA tubing and we’ll control your pain with the oral meds and muscle relaxants. You need to stay in bed unless someone is here to help you…” Dr. Hoy looked him in the eye until Danny nodded in agreement. “And we are going to continue to monitor and do some testing today. I’ll have one of the nurses come in to do a urine test. Basically you pee in the hand held urinal and once you’re done, she’ll pass a catheter up into your bladder to drain and measure whatever you can’t pass on your own. We’ll send it to be cultured and see what grows, it’ll help us have a better idea on how to treat the infection and keep it from spreading to the kidneys.”
Danny could feel his face heating, a flush working its way up to his cheeks.
“You need to eat when you can.
The stoma specialist will be by later today to take a look at you and make some suggestions on foods that might be more appealing and you don’t need to stick to the hospital schedule, eat when you feel hungry and what you like on the list of approved foods…you can also have flavored protein shakes if you want.”
“Let’s sit you up a bit and get this tube out of your back.”
Steve took an arm too and they got Danny up, a pillow in his lap to lean on. He was a little worried about the actual removal of the tube, but it turned out the tape pulling on his skin hurt worse then the tube snaking out. Dr. Hoy looked around inside the bedside table, coming up with a tiny round Band-Aid that he took great care in opening and pressing over the puncture on Danny’s back.
“So, once the test analysis is done, we’ll talk about options for continual treatment and try to get you out of here before the end of the week. Sound good?”
“Yeah, sounds perfect…” Danny let Steve help him back against the bed, fluffing his pillows and he was pleasantly surprised not to feel the pulling and pinching at his back now that it was gone.
“Okay, I’ll be around later to check in…get some rest.”
“Thanks Doc,” Danny called after the man.
“You want to try to finish your yogurt while it’s still cool…maybe drink your juice?” Steve rolled the table parallel with the bed, picking up Danny's spoon, like maybe he was thinking about feeding him again.
“Maybe the juice…” and he watched while Steve struggled with opening the little straw that came with the juice box.
“Need some help there, Super SEAL? I can see the plastic is putting up a pretty good fight…”
“Ha ha, Daniel…but I,” the plastic gave way under Steve’s teeth and Danny wondered if he should be grossed out or not. “Got it…I got it,” and Steve poked a hole in the box top and handed it over to Danny.
He sipped it, because at least it tasted like something and he was thirsty, thirstier than he had thought, since the sides of the little box were caving in as it emptied.
“More?” Steve asked, standing to go get Danny some more and as usual, Steve’s timing was perfect, because Luka, one of the ostomy specialist came strolling in as Steve slipped out the door and Danny knew he would stay gone until Luka was done with him.
“Morning, Danny,” Luka sat in the chair Steve vacated, relaxed, not rushing through like some of the other specialist that had been in to see Danny since his surgery. “I hear you’re having a problem with your appetite, brah." And Luka was so laid back, Danny was sure he could just curl up where he was and take a nap. “I brought you a list of foods you can try…Your folks or Steve can bring you in food as long as it’s on the list and I have some protein shakes coming too. If you can’t eat what you have at least drink the shakes…the chocolate is nasty, I’m just being honest here, man…but the strawberry and vanilla are both pretty good…”
Luka’s dark eyes were so sincere and then he straightened in his seat, “Hey, I’m sorry man…I shouldn’t have said anything about the chocolate…I mean, maybe it’s your favorite flavor, maybe you’ll like it…”
“Don’t worry about it, Luka,” Danny told him. “I’m not a huge fan of chocolate anyway…would probably go for the strawberry…”
“Cool…okay, that’s cool…how about we take a little walk to the bathroom and take care of business?”
Danny swung his legs over the edge of the bed once Luka had lowered the rail and used the controls to lower the bed. He kept a hand at Danny’s elbow, but let Danny get to the toilet under his own steam and Danny was happy to see he hadn’t felt as shaky as he had earlier.
“Do you need me…”
“Kay, I’ll wait out here.” And Luka pushed the door closed all but a sliver.
Danny turned and sat on the toilet, lifting the hem of the blue gown to see his bag. A clean collection container sat on a shelf on the other side of him and it took a second to get it opened and positioned at the bottom of the bag, where he unfastened the clip.
He tried not to look as he emptied the contents into the container, but once it was emptied and securely refastened, he checked for signs of blood, the consistency and other things he had been taught.
“Temporary,” he mumbled to himself, startling when Luka asked if he was okay through the partially opened door. “Yeah…I’m almost done.”
“Take your time…and do your exercises.”
Danny nodded, even though Luka couldn’t see him. He put the container on the shelf, since his crap was still being studied. Once they didn’t need to look at it anymore, he could just empty it into the toilet and flush it away.
He took a second to flex and squeeze the muscles in his pelvis, his sphincters, because he took the warning seriously and wanted to be able to control his bowel once the reversal was done.
He used some tissue to wipe, knowing that he could have a little mucus, but the paper came away clean, so he stood and flushed the toilet, washed his hands and made his way back to his bed while Luka went into the room. A short time later, the toilet flushed again and Luka came out, disposing of the container and stripping off his gloves. “Looks good, brah…”
Danny hated this…hated everything about it, but he had to deal with it anyway and it seemed, at least this part of his recovery was going right.
“Do you think your bag needs changed?” Luka pulled more gloves from the box by the door, walking toward him.
“I think it’s good.”
“Let me check…” he studied the bag and the skin around it and then he nodded, “looks good...everything looks good, so I’ll be back in a few days to check in on you.”
“Thanks, Luka…see ya in a few.” Danny sunk back into the bedding, exhaustion enveloping him like a warm blanket, so he closed his eyes to wait for Steve to return.
It could have only been a few minutes later, but someone opened the door and put something down on the table near Danny, sank into the chair by Danny’s bed.
Hand’s smoothed through his hair again and Danny couldn’t help the little sigh that escaped.
“Like that, huh?”
“Umhmm…” Danny opened his eyes to see Steve watching him, leaning his chin on the arm that rested on the rail.
“You scared me earlier…Tina called to tell me you were restless again, so I decided to come early and we were talking when your heart monitor was turned off…”
Danny shifted closer, touching Steve’s face. “I’m sorry, babe…I just…I was having some vivid dreams…probably from the new medicine and I…I just got panicky and had to…I don’t know, I just wanted to get out of this room…”
“Is that all…” Steve stood up a little, leaning closer to kiss Danny on the forehead and then his nose before dotting the side of his mouth with tiny pecks. “You were talking, saying some things…”
Danny’s eyes crossed as Steve leaned in closer and kissed his mouth again and when they pulled apart, Steve plopped back into his chair.
“I ah…I don’t know what I was saying, but its fine…I’m fine…”
Steve looked like he was going to say more, but Tina came in, carrying some supplies.
“You want me to…” Steve started to stand, but Danny grabbed his arm before he could get too far away.
“No…Stay…I want you to stay…”
Tina set up her supplies and Steve stayed in the chair, holding Danny’s hand, but kept his eyes on Danny’s face instead of what was happening down below. He told Danny he had been to visit Chin and that Kono had called to say she would be by for a visit later. His ma and pop were on their way in.
The nurse worked quickly and efficiently and it was over much faster than Danny expected with a minimal of pain and discomfort. She patted his ankle on her way out, promising to let him alone for the next few hours at least.
They sat in comfortable silence for a bit, Steve settling back, settling in and Danny tried to find a comfortable spot. His hip hurt and he rubbed at it with his hand.
“Do you need a pain pill?”
“Nah…I’m good.” and his eyes drooped, closing.
He heard pages rustling as he drifted, knowing that Steve had grabbed his library book and was reading the adventures of Odd Thomas and just before he fell completely asleep, he felt Steve's fingers in his hair again, and Steve's hot breath on his cheek as he whispered, "You're not alone, Danno...never again...I'm right here, babe...so you don't have to worry...I'm not going anywhere."
Danny's breathing evened out and he sighed, letting go of his uncertainty, his worry and fear.
"Sweet dreams, babe..."
Because no matter what else Steve might be, the man always kept his word.
Steve rubbed his hands up and over his head, feeling bone tired and stiff in his joints, the chair in Danny’s new room doing a number on his abused back, but Danny was sleeping peacefully and drug free for the first time in almost two weeks, puffing out snuffled breaths through his slightly parted mouth.
This morning, Danny’s fever had been down for the third day in a row and he had finished his second course of IV antibiotics, so Dr. Hoy deemed him well enough to be moved to the step down unit and Steve was relieved…it looked like Danny was finally over that last hurdle and getting better.
A few hours ago, they had moved him to a corner room, which was bright and airy, two of the adjoining walls had banks of large windows and Danny could clearly see the sky and near by buildings and if he chose to get up and move around the room, he could look out through the slotted shades to see people and cars, life bustling in the courtyards and streets below.
This had seemed to go a long way in settling Danny’s nerves, helping him relax and rest, because the last several days had been hell on all of them.
New tests, new procedures, new medicines, but Danny’s fever had burned on…not too elevated, but high enough to make Danny miserable, which in turn made Steve anxious and worried.
Danny had been jumpy and fidgety, scaring the life out of Steve when he had found him days before, thrashing on the floor, suffering an apparent panic attack.
After that Danny had been withdrawn and at times… weepy. Like when he had awoken from another vivid medicine-induced dream, grabbing desperately at his mother’s arm, as she wiped at Danny’s heated neck and face with a cool damp cloth, begging her for her and his pop to forgive him, for not being able to stop his brother from getting on that plane and running.
Mel had just hushed Danny, leaning in to kiss at his bruised cheek, telling her son that he wasn’t responsible for his brother’s actions and Jim…Jim had to excuse himself, walking from the room with bright eyes and a frown so much like Danny’s. But he returned quickly, taking up his son’s hand and holding it for the rest of the afternoon, patting it and shushing Danny at every twitch and mumble.
Steve couldn’t help but to feel a tiny pang of…jealousy...for a family that loved and wasn’t ashamed to show it. But it passed quickly when on one of his nervous-pacing circuits around the room; Mel had grabbed him and pulled him into a bear hug, whispering to him her own gratitude, her appreciation for Steve in Danny’s life. And that tiny jealous place was filled up with something Steve couldn’t quite name, something that he had missed out on growing up, because of his own family’s dysfunction
Steve rationally knew... these people...they weren’t perfect, but they were pretty damn close and he wanted to be apart of that.
Later that evening, Danny had emerged from an uneasy sleep when Kono had come for a visit, and he would barely look at her, his eyes skittering around her, but never settling on her face. He only spoke one word answers when Kono had directly asked him some questions, wincing at Kono’s raised voice, because she was still recovering from her own injuries.
And when Steve had questioned him when she had left a little while later, Danny confided in quiet answer that he had felt like what had happened to his team was somehow his fault… because he had been seriously hurt and couldn’t be with them to back them up...because his team maybe hadn’t been as careful and cautious as they could have been, anxious to get the person responsible for landing Danny in the hospital, fighting for his life.
Steve understood Danny’s frustration, and he really understood the feeling of helplessness, but nothing that had happened had been Danny’s fault…now he just had to get Danny to believe it.
So he tried to assure him that no one…not him or Kono or Chin had blamed Danny for the outcome of the case, but Steve wasn’t sure how successful he had been, because even though Danny had nodded in all the right places during Steve’s talk, he had turned his head away when Steve was done and closed his eyes, falling into another bout of restless sleep.
Tina had come into the room then, a tentative smile on her face, because Danny had been even shying away from hospital personnel that had entered his ICU room…the Phlebotomist that came to draw Danny’s blood for testing, the people who brought his food three times a day, even the nurses that had been with him since the beginning.
Tina had looked over the readings on the near by machines, Danny’s heart rate, his blood pressure, the IV connections. She had pulled out a thermometer and took Danny’s temperature, which was still hovering just under one hundred and explained, that as long as his temp was still down, they would move him in the morning.
Danny’s folks had gone home, to Steve’s for the night, but Steve had curled up in the reclining chair and tried to get some rest, because he couldn’t leave Danny, not after the panic attack and the whispered words that Danny had been chanting, because Steve had made a promise and he intended to keep it.
In the morning, Amy had come in and after the usual checks, had removed the heart monitoring equipment, the IV lines. She even pulled the drainage tubes near Danny’s incision, checking the healing wounds and then covering them with a special bandage so that Danny could shower later and within the hour, Danny was on his way to his new room on the third floor.
After the staff had gotten him settled, Danny looked around the space, gave a small smile and sank back into his pillows, closing his eyes and drifting off to sleep.
And Steve...Steve had been watching Danny sleeping peacefully…creepy or not…ever since.
Danny moved then, rolled a little to his side and looked around his new room with sleepy eyes.
Steve stood and leaned over the raised rail, dotting a kiss onto the fading and yellowing bruise on Danny’s cheekbone. “Hey babe…did you get a good nap?”
Danny nodded, wiping at his mouth with the back of his hand and a tiny line of drool, “yeah…what time is it?”
Steve looked at his watch, and then showed Danny the display face. “Its almost noon…you want to get out of bed, maybe sit up for a bit?”
“Yeah,” he pressed the control that raised the head of the bed, grabbing the rail to help shift himself up, running the other hand through his wavy curls. “I need to pee again.”
Steve waited until Danny had swung is legs down to dangle off the bed before stepping in and wrapping Danny in his arms. If asked, he wouldn’t be able to express just what he was feeling at that moment, but he knew he wanted to hold Danny, hold him close for as long as Danny would allow.
And Danny...he buried his face in the crook of Steve’s neck...breathing him in deep...putting his arms around Steve’s middle.
Steve let his hands wonder up and down the plains of Danny's spine, rubbing at knotted muscles there, his neck and shoulders, the small of his back.
His fingers skimmed over the small band aid there and then around to the gauze at Danny’s sides, one covering the bullet wound and one covering the place where the chest tube had been. For some reason, he wanted to gently touch Danny’s belly too, but that would require moving him from their comforting embrace, so he settled for kneading muscles one-handed at Danny’s shoulder blades, his hips, using the other to smooth through Danny’s messy hair.
And if the contented sigh was anything to go by, Danny seemed to be enjoying Steve’s attention, but eventually he lifted his head, giving Steve a quick peck on the lips and then sitting up. “I want to continue this when I get back, but right now…”
Steve released him, stepping back, but didn’t offer help, because Danny had been a little…snappy lately...feeling sick and out of control of his own body, and just wanting to be allowed to do things on his own.
Danny shifted down, holding on to the side table for support, but he seemed steadier on his feet today.
Steve followed along fairly close, just in case and waited by the partially closed bathroom door, hearing clothing rustle and Danny’s strained voice, “Are my parents out to lunch?”
“They’re in the cafeteria…are you okay with,” Steve picked up the daily menu that told them what Danny’s food would be for the day and read off the list, “a turkey and low fat Swiss cheese sandwich on white bread…fruit salad…skim milk and cranberry juice…or do you want your folks to bring you up something?”
Because sometimes, Danny just couldn't eat what was given him and they would end up getting him noodle soup or a slice of white bread with a spread of creamy peanut butter.
The toilet finally flushed and Steve heard the water running from the tap, staying on longer than necessary to wash hands, so he guessed that Danny had found the shaving kit with his toiletries and a new toothbrush and tooth paste his mom had brought.
Once the water was turned off, Danny shuffled out, looking a little flushed and sweaty, but he went for his chair and gingerly settled in it before he answered Steve. “I’m not all that hungry, so it doesn’t matter.”
Steve wanted to argue with him, but he knew it wouldn’t get him anywhere and only upset Danny.
Besides, Jim and Mel would be back soon and Danny never argued with his mom when she told him to finish his food.
“When can I take a shower?” Danny asked, his gaze drawn to the window and the open blinds, the soft sunlight filtering in and the dust particles floating in the air. “I’m feeling pretty scuzzy.”
Steve shrugged, but moved toward the door, “hang on a sec and let me check.”
The nurse’s station was just down the hall and the nurse that had helped settle Danny in his new room was behind it, fingers gliding over the keyboard, looking intently at the computer screen.
Steve had to read her name tag...Malie, but she smiled up at him when he got close enough, her dark eyes friendly. “What can I help you with, Steve?”
“I ah…well; Danny wanted to take a shower, if that’s okay?”
“Sure,” she scooted off her stool, coming around the kiosk and heading for Danny’s room. “Good afternoon, Danny,” she greeted, breezing in and opening a cabinet along the far wall, pulling out some towels and taking them into the bathroom.
They could hear the shower running and then she poked her head back out of the door. “When you’re ready, you can get in…but sit on the bench. The shower head is adjustable and comes off so you can direct the spray. Try not to get your bandages too wet and be sure to just pat dry, okay?”
Danny nodded, starting to push himself up from his chair.
“Steve, can you stay close?” she asked him.
“Sure…not a problem,” she gave his arm a little pat on her way out as he followed Danny into the tiny bathroom.
There was a bar of institutional soap and a little bottle of shampoo, a wash cloth hung over a rail inside of the bath, towels folded on the sink counter and a bath mat lay on the floor in front of the shower. “How do you want to do this, babe?” he asked, because he didn’t want to presume Danny would want Steve to see him naked, even though he would really like too. And not because of his libido, but because Steve had an unexplained need to see the damage done to Danny’s body...to see with his own eyes that Danny was healing.
Instead of answering, Danny pulled back the generic plastic curtain, letting out some steam, which clouded the small room.
He reached up and undid the strings of his gown, with his back turned to Steve he dropped it to the floor, giving Steve a perfect view of his ass and Steve had to reevaluate his reasoning’s.
“Stop staring at my ass,” Danny teased, but not turning...letting Steve look his fill before stepping over the little metal threshold and into the space, sitting on the plastic fold-down seat and pulling the curtain almost all the way closed.
Steve sat on the only other available surface, the closed toilet seat, waiting to see if Danny needed help.
He watched in silhouette, through the flimsy curtain as Danny soaped up his wash cloth and ran it up and under his arms, listening to the low moans as the hot water loosened stiff and tired muscles.
Danny grunted as he bent a little, lifting his feet to wash, along with his legs and Steve felt slightly stalkerish, but he couldn’t turn his eyes away from the sights and sounds, proof of Danny’s healing, his recovery.
The nozzle was removed and Danny directed the spray to wash the soap from his skin, used it to wet his head and than lather his hair before rinsing.
Danny sat under the warm water for another few minutes before shutting the faucet off.
Steve grabbed one of the towels and held it open in front of him, so that when Danny pushed the shower curtain back, he could step into its folds and let Steve wrap it around his wet body.
He maneuvered Danny to the closed toilet seat and sat him there, using a hand towel to dry Danny's shoulders and neck, rubbing briskly through Danny's hair.
“Not a word,” Danny smirked, looking Steve in the eyes, daring him to make fun of the mess on Danny’s head, but he didn’t say anything…instead he moved lower, running the towel down both legs and picking up each of Danny’s feet, rubbing them dry.
When he looked up, Danny had a peculiar little smile on his face, his eyes squinting and Steve didn’t think he had seen that look before, but he liked it…liked it a lot.
Danny let the towel part and Steve got a close up look at the taped pad covering Danny’s incisions, the little punctures where the drainage tube had been and his dripping colostomy bag.
He didn’t give much thought when he gently grasped the bag, being careful not to put much pressure on it and dried it off with the hand towel he still held.
Danny used the corners to wipe under his arms and pat his chest and belly dry, the rest of the moisture on his skin absorbed by the towel he had wrapped himself in.
“Is that good?” Steve asked, wanting to make sure Danny felt comfortable.
“Yeah…I think its fine.” He wrapped himself in the towel again, pushing up from the toilet as Steve stood too, pulling Danny in close.
“All done in there,” Malie asked, peaking into the small room.
Steve nodded, but he didn’t release Danny until the nurse left and came back carrying a small duffle.
She handed it to Steve and he recognized it as the bag Mel had packed and delivered this morning, along with a huge breakfast for Steve and creamy poached eggs for Danny, when they had found out Danny was going to the step down unit.
“I just need to check a few things and than you can help him get dressed. Can you sit back down for a minute, Danny?”
Steve guided him back to the toilet seat and stepped back to the corner of the room. Unwilling to leave, he busied himself with folding the towel he had used to dry Danny.
The nurse pulled the one wrapped around her patient opened, letting it pool in Danny’s lap and looked at the gauze and bandages on Danny’s skin. She picked off the band aid at the small of his back and removed the squares of cotton on each side and Steve got a good look at the puckering scars. She took off the ones in the front too, inspecting the strips of tape running up from Danny’s pubic bone to just below his chest, covering the surgical incision.
“We can leave these off now,” she explained, “In a few more days you can start using some lotion made to help smooth out scars on your sides and when your sutures come out you can use it there too.” She straightened up, backing toward the door, “Your lunch will be here soon, so go ahead and get dressed and after you eat, if you feel up to it, you can take a walk.”
“Thanks, Malie.” Steve said and heard Danny echo him.
When they were alone again, Steve unzipped the bag and pulled out a tube of deodorant.
“Oh, yes,” Danny grabbed for it and yanked off the cap, smearing the stuff under both arms, looking very pleased with himself. “What?”
“Nothing,” Steve laughed, taking it back and putting it on the counter near the toothbrush and paste Danny had used earlier.
He found a pair of blue boxer briefs, blue and grey checkered sleep pants and a soft grey tee, all smelling freshly laundered.
Danny’s eyes lit up when he saw the undergarments and made gimme hands, but Steve took the tee shirt instead, helping Danny thread his arms through and pulling it down to cover him. Danny tentatively stood, cheeks turning a little pink as he shucked the towel and stepped into the boxers and sleep pants Steve held and once Steve had them in place, he leaned in and kissed Danny’s neck, “you’re beautiful…do you know that?”
Danny huffed against his chest, shaking his head, but Steve just tightened his hold, saying, “yes you are, believe it…beautiful…every inch.”
Danny opened his mouth, like he wasn’t quite done with the subject, but then his mother’s voice rang out and she tapped on the bathroom door, “Daniel…are you in there?”
“Almost done, Ma…be out in a few.”
“Okay, baby…I brought you some…”
But Steve tuned out her voice as she moved away from the door and Danny reached up and kissed him, saying, “It’s just…it’s been a long time, you understand…but I’m starting to believe you.”
Steve buried his nose in Danny’s damp hair, drinking in the clean scent of him, knowing he would need to comb it soon, or it would be a hopeless mess, but he nodded, “You can believe it, babe…I won’t lie to you, even if you don’t want to hear what I have to say.”
Danny snickered, pushing back and turning to look in the mirror, his eyes growing large as he took in the state of his hair. “Please tell me you have a comb or brush in that bag?”
Steve rummaged through it, but didn’t see one. He checked the shaving kit bag too, but came up empty. “Maybe…”
“Ma,” Danny called and his mother came to the door, pushing it open a little, a huge smile on her face when she saw Danny dressed and standing, her eyes going to the unruly hair.
“Oh, dear…okay, just hang on a sec.” She left and they could hear her searching through her purse, the contents scattering as she upended it. “I found a comb…is that okay, sweetie?”
She passed the comb into Steve, who handed it to Danny, who ran it through his blond strands, wincing when he found a few tangles, but soon his hair was smooth, combed back, like he usually wore it. But Steve knew that without product, it would curl as it dried…not that he was complaining.
Danny shuffled passed him, patting him once on the chest and Steve could here Jim saying, “Looking good, Monkey Boy,” before Steve could make it out of the bathroom.
He grabbed the towel Danny had left draped over the toilet seat and the one he still held, the dirty gown and tossed them all into a cloth hamper that sat near the door to the hallway…a real door, wooden and solid and normal…
Danny’s dad was helping him ease down into his chair and Danny’s mom had taken a new pair of slippers from a Wal-Mart bag and slid them on to Danny’s feet. “Did you eat yet, baby?”
Danny shook his head, looking like he might want to roll his eyes, but thought better of it. “Not yet, Ma…it should be here soon.”
“Kay…” and she settled into the chair. Jim took a seat on the bed, leaving the other chair open for Steve.
He sank down in it, feeling suddenly tired, but he settled in to listen to what Danny’s folks were saying, missing the beginning.
“…so that way, she can spend the weekend with us, if Steve doesn’t mind.”
They all turned to him and he nodded, not really knowing what he was agreeing too, but Danny must have known that too and took pity on him, saying, “That’s nice of Rachel and Gracie loves to spend time at Steve’s…you guys don’t have to come here every…I mean, you should explore the island…enjoy yourselves while you’re here…before you have to leave…” and Steve could sense the question in Danny’s statement…he wanted to know how long his ma and pop would be around and he could also tell that Danny was hoping it would be for awhile.
“Danny,” Mel said, reaching across to take Danny’s hand, “as much as it’s nice to spend time with my grandbaby, and God knows me and pop miss her dearly, I rather spend time with my own baby…you are not a bother or burden or deterrent for me and pop…we came here for you, not to vacation.”
And then Jim added, “Besides, you can show us around this rock when you’re feeling better.”
Danny’s eyes widened and he looked to his dad, “But Pop…what about work…the house…Dinky…”
“Ruthie has Dinky,” Jim said, shaking his head, “Bee and Bec have been stopping by, checking in on the house and you know how your Ma has been on me to take some time…maybe even retire.”
Now Danny’s eyes were welling, but he didn’t say anything…for the first time in Steve’s experience, Danny didn’t seem to know what to say.
So Steve decided to ask what he really wanted to know, “Dinky?”
Mel giggled and Jim rolled his eyes, but it was Danny who answered, “Dinky is a little terror of fur and barks and snips at anyone who dares go near Ma…I have to fight him off every time I’ve come for a visit, just to kiss my own mother.”
“You think you got it bad, kiddo” Jim spoke up, laughter clear in his voice, “try living with the little shit…I got so many scars just from kissing your mother good morning…in our own bed.”
Danny laughed and Mel piped in, “you all should know not to mess with Dinky or his ma…speaking of the girls, I’ve checked with the charge nurse and she told me your room has internet access, so maybe a little later you’d might like to Skype your sisters…they’re all pretty anxious to see you.”
The next few minutes were filled with embarrassing stories of Danny with his sisters growing up and the things they used to con him into doing with a smile or a pout, like paint his nails…"Clear polish only." And the tea parties he had to attend when he was in charge of them for the night, while his parent snuck out on a rare date. He offered homework and sporting events help and investigated each and every new suitor, much to the girls’ dismay.
But Steve knew, all that was just practice for Gracie and probably a big part of why Danny was such a great dad.
Soon after their laughter died down, Danny’s lunch came and he picked at his sandwich, eating it in torn off pieces, but he managed to drink his milk and juice, not really interested in the peeled apples or melons.
Danny’s mother didn’t comment, so she must have been satisfied, but while Danny fiddled with the rest of the sandwich, Jim stood and offered, “How about I go down and get Steve and you some soup, some dessert…”
Steve had had a huge breakfast this morning, courtesy of Danny’s mom, who was intent on feeding him, so he wasn’t really hungry, but he knew he had to say yes so Danny would want to eat what his dad brought back too. “I could go for something…thanks Jim.”
Danny pushed the bowl of fruit back, having only nibbled on a piece of melon, but he looked like he was really finished for now. “Don’t think I don’t know what just happened there,” he said, giving Steve the stink eye.
But his mother told him, “leave them alone, babe…you know how your pop worries and now you have Steve to look after you too…might as well get used to it.”
Steve's heart did a funny little flutter at the acceptance in Mel's voice, but Danny didn’t comment. He sunk back into his chair, rolling his shoulders, trying to get more comfortable and after a while, his eyes began to droop.
It would take a while yet for Danny to regain his stamina
Steve thought that maybe he should get up, move around, or he might be taking his own nap, but Danny’s mom reached out and grabbed his arm. “When I stopped by Danny’s apartment, I found a tenants warning…I brought it with me, but I don’t want to burden Danny with it. It says he missed his rent date.”
“Can I see it,” Steve whispered, not wanting to wake his partner. He read the notice, a little shocked at how high the rent was at Danny’s newest place.
“I’ll have to bring it up, because I’m sure he’ll have other utilities he needs to pay and I wanted to find out about his hospital bills too…what he’ll be responsible for.”
“Don’t worry about that,” Steve told her. “He was hurt in the line of duty, so he won’t have to foot any of the bills. I’ll make sure of it. Can I hold on to this?” He was thinking he could bring it up later, while he and Danny took a walk and his parents went to pick up Grace.
If things kept going like they were, Danny would be released in a few days or so and he would need someone with him for a bit. Danny’s parents were already staying with Steve, so it made sense that Danny would too and why pay for rent and electric, cable and internet at a place he wouldn’t be at for a few more weeks…besides, Steve liked the idea of having Danny close.
They both turned at approaching foot steps, expecting to see Jim at the door with a tray from the cafeteria, but Steve jumped up when he saw the man dressed in an expensive suit. Mel probably didn’t know who it was at Danny’s door, but she stood just after Steve did.
“Governor Denning,” Steve moved forward to shake the man’s hand.
“Commander,” the governor returned the firm grip and then reached out for Mel's, “Mrs. Williams.”
She shook it, turning when she heard her son shift, his quick catch of breath, dropping Denning’s hand and dismissing him as she moved to kneel in front of Danny.
“Are you okay?” she asked and Danny nodded, rubbing his hand over his eyes and looking around, jerking a little when he spotted Denning, starting to push himself up, but his ma put a firm hand on his shoulder, saying, “I don’t care if its the president of this great country…you stay put…he can come to you,” and she shot Denning a look, just daring him to contradict her, but Denning nodded, moving around the cluster of chairs and reaching to shake Danny’s hand.
“Quite right, Mrs. Williams,” he gave her a small smile and Steve made a mental note to never cross Danny’s mom, seeing for himself where Danny got his feisty spirit from. “I just wanted to check in and see how you are doing and I wanted to thank you, on behalf of myself and the State of Hawaii, for your honorable service in the line of duty.”
Danny looked like he didn’t know what to say, but he accepted the praise, looking from Steve, to his mother, to the governor, before clearing his throat and speaking, “thank you, sir…but I was only doing my job.”
“And a job well done, son…” Denning stepped back as Danny’s dad came in, holding a tray of food.
“Here we go,” he announced, stopping in his tracks when he spotted Denning.
“Ah...Mr. Williams. I’m Governor Denning, I just stopped by to check in on Danny and to thank him for his service,” and Mel took the food from her husband, sitting it on the table so Jim could shake the governor's hand too.
“Pleasure to meet you, sir.” Jim said, looking vaguely uncomfortable, but still polite enough to maintain eye contact.
“Yes, well…Commander, if I could speak with you for a moment?” Denning moved toward the door, “and Detective, I wish you a speedy recovery.”
“Thank you, sir.”
They stepped into the hall and Steve pulled the door closed behind them.
Denning got right to the point. “I wanted to report the findings of the case and to let you know it has been officially closed. The team has concluded that there was no direct connection between the two cases in which the gun was used, but because of your work, a major drug operation has been disbanded.”
Steve crossed his arms over his chest, fearing a ‘but’ was coming,
Denning finished with, “I realize your team is handicapped at this time, so I would like to offer another week of paid leave for you and Officer Kalakaua. I’ve spoken with Detective Kelly this morning and he informed me that he would be out at least two more weeks and I understand it could be months before Detective Williams may be ready to return to light duty, so in the interim, I have compiled a list of officers who can work with your unit and fill in until your members are able to return to active duty.”
“Yes, sir…” Steve knew it was a real possibility…that a replacement was in order and so did Danny…at least the governor wasn’t entertaining ideas of a permanent new member and pushing Danny out completely, “thank you, sir.”
Back in the room, Danny perked up, dropping his spoon and watching as Steve walked in and sprawled in his seat.
Steve gave him a small smile, but didn’t think that it put Danny at ease.
“You know,” Jim said, looking at his watch. “I think we can go pick up Grace, spend some time…be back here by three…that’ll give you a few hours to rest before hurricane Gracie blows in.”
Danny pulled his eyes from Steve, looking a little confused, but agreed, “Yeah…thanks pop.”
Danny’s mom put the lid back on the soft noodles and broth, sitting it on the end table along with the spoon before bending and kissing Danny on the head.
His dad patted his shoulder as he passed, “be back soon, Monkey Boy...try to behave yourself in our absence...no more black eyes...”
“So…” was out of Danny’s mouth as soon as his parent’s cleared the threshold and Steve could tell Danny was worried and didn’t like it one bit.
“So nothing,” he assured, looking at his own bowl of noodles, which contained less broth. He used the chop sticks placed on his napkin to scoop some up and shove them in his mouth, swallowing before he continued. “He just wanted to thank us again, let me know that he expects me and Kono back to work in a week…”
Danny didn’t look convinced, but Steve didn’t see the point in telling him now that they would have to find someone to fill in for Danny until he was able to return to work himself.
It was too far off to worry about and besides, Danny needed to concentrate on getting better.
He ate in a comfortable silence while Danny stared out the windows at the passing clouds. When he was finished, he tossed the container in the trash and asked, “How about we take a walk in the courtyard, get a little sun?”
Danny turned toward him, a far way look on his face and Steve wondered what he had been thinking about. “I would like that very much, thank you.”
So he went down the hall to the nurse’s station, asking Malie if he could get a wheel chair for Danny, planning on pushing him down to the courtyard and them taking a leisurely stroll through the flower gardens...sitting on a bench to rest when Danny got tired...
His heart beat picked up as he pushed the chair back to Danny's room.
...and then Steve would spring his plan for Danny once he was released, hoping that Danny would agree.
Danny bulked when he saw Steve bring in the wheelchair, an epic rant working its way up his throat, but one look at his friend’s hopeful face made him snap his mouth shut.
He knew he had been…sullen over the last few days, his mood swinging wildly.
And even though he didn’t want to be pushed in the chair, which made him feel like a needy invalid, he also didn’t want to take his frustrations out on Steve either.
Steve announced, “Your chariot awaits,” in a very terrible and very fake English accent, bowing slightly at the waist, sweeping his arm toward it in a grand gesture, like he was acting out one of his famous McGarrett bed time stories for Gracie.
“Chariot…really,” Danny’s tone was dry but he couldn’t help the smirk that lit his face.
Steve was such a sap sometimes.
Danny carefully pushed up, his hands braced on the sides of his chair, his legs still feeling a little shaky from lack of use.
Steve hovered close by, his hands held loosely at his sides, like he was unsure what to do with them.
Fully upright, tiny twinges of pain zinged up Danny’s tender stomach and across his achy back, but it felt great, more than great not to be tethered to any medical equipment or monitoring devices. It felt wonderful to be finally free of the machines, because it meant one more step closer to being able to go home.
And he was really looking forward to being in his own place, with his own stuff, sleeping on his own lumpy and thin mattress.
He was so very weary of being confined to his room, either lying in his bed or sitting in the plastic-lined recliner, with only the occasional stroll around the ward.
Bored with watching the same four television channels with the same day time TV programming, game shows and soap operas or so called reality TV at night.
And he was really tired of feeling like he was on display, .like he was an animal in an enclosure at the freaking zoo, people coming and going at all hours, disturbing his sleep to poke and prod at him.
He was tired of living on someone else’s schedule.
He slid his cold bare feet into his new slippers…the bedroom kind, not those ridiculous foot thongs that Steve insisted on wearing on weekends… and cautiously turned and bent to sit, those little zings feeling more pronounced, but still manageable.
When he was finally seated, he took a deep breath and huffed, “thanks,” already feeling worn down and exhausted.
This sucks. he decided, feeling close to tears and then suddenly angry because he couldn’t seem to control his surging emotions, but then Steve was pushing him from the room and through the hall, punching the down button when they got to the bank of elevators.
The doors parted almost immediately and soon they were alone in the descending car and one of Steve’s hands found its way to his hair, stroking downward to squeeze and kneed the tight muscles of his neck and shoulders.
He sighed, content and a little in awe at Steve’s willingness to show him what he felt for Danny through his gentle and careful caresses and tender whispered words.
And it was…something he hadn’t felt in a long, long time, but that didn’t matter, because Danny wanted what Steve was offering, wanted to love and be loved…care for and be cared for.
He reached back and took Steve’s fingers in his hand, riding the rest of the way down in silence.
Steve patted him when the doors parted and put both hands on the wheelchair handles, pushing him through a series of corridors, passing the cafeteria and then out and into one of the campuses garden courtyards.
The sun was high in the sky and birds perched in the near by trees, tweeting and singing their exotic songs and a salt-heavy breeze ruffled his hair.
He turned his face up and breathed in a deep cleansing breath, smelling the light fragrance of flowers and the sea, closing his eyes and enjoying the sunshine on his scruffy cheeks.
He had missed being outside…
Steve snickered and stopped pushing him forward, “Need a minute alone there, Danno?”
He didn’t even bother opening his eyes…knew that Steve had one of his goofy looks on his face and deadpanned, “yeah…if you don’t mind.”
He could hear Steve settling down, probably on one of the benches that lined the walk way and then Steve told him, “but I like to watch.”
And he sputtered, eyes flying open to stare at Steve.
Whatever goofy look might have been there was replaced with a smugness that Danny had only seen after Steve had gotten his confession from a roof dangling or shark caged suspect.
But the more Danny gaped at him, the more he seemed to deflate and squirm until Steve finally cleared his throat and said, “So…” and then he let the sentence drop, giving Danny a chance to change the topic, but Danny wasn’t so sure he wanted to.
“You know I…” he started, but he too stopped, unsure how to finish his thought.
Steve sat forward a little on the bench, reaching over to grasp both of Danny’s hands in his, looking a little unsure of himself. “Listen…I know this is all new and I don’t…”
When he didn’t go on, Danny sighed and said, “We are pathetic, ya know that, right?”
Steve laughed and patted his hands, “Yeah…it’s just…”
Now Danny laughed, shaking his head, “Yeah…I know.”
Steve nodded and looked around the courtyard before returning his gaze to Danny, “Listen…you’re mom went by your apartment to get you some of your things and she found a notice on your door from the rental company…”
Shit…my rent…and my bills…how could I’ve forgotten about paying my bills? “I ah…yeah…it was due at the beginning of the month, I can’t believe…well, my checkbook is in the top drawer of my dresser, if she’ll…”
Steve shot him a funny look and rubbed one of his palms over his cargoes and said, “Yeah, about that…I was thinking, you know…you’ll need some help once you’re discharged and since you’re folks are at my place, I thought you all might be more comfortable…you could get out of your lease…”
Something in Danny’s stomach slipped and sweat broke out on his forehead, under his arms…thank god for his earlier deodorant application…and he could feel it dribbling down the small of his back.
He wanted that…he wanted to spend as much time with Steve as he could, because he had almost lost…well, everything, so if any time would be the time…it would be now…but his folks were here and what would he tell Grace…it was …complicated. “I ah…yeah, that’s a nice offer, Steve…but I can’t…I mean, you’ve done so much so far and my parents…I don’t…”
Steve quickly nodded, but he looked disappointed, a little frown marring his otherwise kissable lips. “Yeah…of course…I just thought that…you know…”
And Danny thought, maybe he did…but what if he was wrong…what if Steve was just asking him to come stay until he recovered, until he was able to get around on his own and then he would be back to looking for the next livable apartment, a place good enough to bring his daughter but not drain is bank account, which was hard to find on this rock.
But what if he wasn’t wrong?
Steve was asking him something important here…maybe asking him to make a commitment; he could tell because he could hardly look him in the eye, so he said, “I’m not sure if I do…know, I mean…what are you trying to ask me here, Steve?”
The birds sang on and the sun still shined down and now Danny could feel how sweaty Steve’s palms were against his own and then Steve took a deep breath and said, “I want you to come and stay with me. You can stay in the other spare room…”
Danny slouched a little in his chair, looking down at his lap, but back up when Steve started talking again, giving his hands a gentle shake.
“…and then, when your better and your ma and pop go home, I want you to bring your stuff up to my room…our room and Gracie, when she comes and stays, she can take the spare room…we can paint the walls…I mean…if that’s what you want.”
He took a shuddering breath, because that was what he wanted…but it was still so complicated.
He and Steve were work partners and he wasn’t under any delusion that the people they worked with and for would all be so accepting.
And he was afraid to jeopardize what they had now…what if they were moving too fast and he screwed it up?
Steve shook his hands again, getting his attention. “I know it’s a lot and maybe it’s not fair of me to ask this right now…you have a lot going on…”
Danny laughed and rubbed at his nose, but his hands went right back to Steve’s.
“…I just think, you shouldn’t have to worry about anything right now…not your rent or bills or about us…you’re going to be laid up for a while...”
Danny opened his mouth to deny that he was going to be depending on someone else for awhile to help him, but Steve leaned over and planted a soft kiss on his forehead.
“…you are, Danno…as much as you don’t like the idea, you’re going to need help.” Steve’s mouth still hovered by Danny’s brow, but he shifted his face down and kissed Danny square on the lips before sitting back and saying, “and I don’t want you to have to put money out for a place you’re not even going to be staying at…so move in with me…if you decide after you’ve recovered that you want to have your own place, that we’re moving too fast, I’ll help you…I’ll help you find a suitable place for you and Grace.”
And Danny still had his doubts…was still really afraid…scared shitless, but he nodded his head anyway, because for once in his life…he was going to do something for himself…something that he wanted. “Yeah…okay…okay, Steve.”
Steve leaned back in and kissed his mouth, gently pulling Danny’s bottom lip with his teeth, nipping at the corner of his jaw before wrapping his arms around him and just hugging him, holding him tight.
“Don’t worry,” Steve whispered in his ear, “It'll be fine. You'll see. I promise, babe.”
He didn’t know how long they stayed like that, only that he was reluctant to pull away from Steve’s embrace. But they had heard muffled voices and footsteps approaching, so Steve asked, “Ready for you’re afternoon stroll?”
“Do I have a choice?” But he didn’t mean it, because he really did want to get up and stretch his legs.
“Nope…now get your ass in gear. Grace will be here soon and I know she’s anxious to see you…she really misses you, Danno.”
“I really miss her too,” and that was true…he missed her so much, but she had seen him when he was not at his best, seen him in pain and it had scared her and then she wasn’t allowed to visit for awhile and he worried…because Gracie had already been through so much…too much.
Steve fell in step beside him, wrapping a comforting arm around his shoulder, “she’s fine, babe…she's strong and stubborn just like her daddy.”
They walked down one of the rock covered paths and Danny’s slippers weren’t quite protection enough, but he moved along anyway, because the sky was blue and the sun was warm on his skin and the air was fresh and clean but more importantly, Danny didn’t want to go back to his room. He would be happy if Steve would just steer them toward his car, because of course Steve was driving his car, and take him home.
Steve’s arm tightened around him as they turned a corner and the path smoothed out, soft earth replacing the rocks and Danny felt an uncomfortable pressure building in his belly. When he pressed his arm against his stomach, he could feel that his bag was almost full and he got a little panicked, because he had been warned not to let that happen.
He had a sudden vision of the damn thing exploding and its contents running down his leg, so he stepped from Steve’s one armed embrace and backed up a little toward a few large potted plants that lined this part of the path. “I ah…I need to…” he shrugged one shoulder, not sure how to finish, but settled on, “I’ll be right back,” and then started back the way they had just come, ducking behind a tree, hearing Steve call after him.
But he ignored him and lifted his shirt, pulling at the soft elastic of his pants, immediately seeing the problem.
“Don’t..." he pleaded. "…just stay there. Please, Steve…can…can you just stay there…or better yet, go back to where we just were and I’ll be right there, okay?”
“Sure, Danno." Steve's voice sounded a mix between concern and confusion, but he agreed, "I’ll meet you there.”
He waited until he heard Steve stride back up the walkway and then looked back down his pants, hoping that no one in the patient rooms above were gazing out their window and into the courtyard below.
His collection bag was fat…bloated with gas, which explained the pressure in his belly, but this was the first time Danny had seen his bag this full.
He took a quick look around before pulling the little flap that let the flatulence out and promptly gagged. “My god…that is rank…”
Everyday he was getting better at dealing with this, but the smell still sometimes surprised him.
When the bag was mostly flat, he resealed the flap and righted his clothes, stepping from behind the tree to go find his, what…boyfriend?
None of those seemed right, but regardless, he found Steve…his Steve…pacing up and down the dirt path, hands shoved deep into his pockets, muttering something, but it was too low for Danny to hear and as soon as Steve sensed his approach, he turned and hurried toward him.
“Are you okay? What happened?” and Steve’s hands ran up and down his arms, across his back, like he was trying to find and sooth Danny’s hurts
“I’m fine, really. I just needed…” and he knew his face was heating, his cheeks pinking, but Steve nodded and swung his arm up and over Danny’s shoulder again, pulling him in and planting a kiss on Danny’s temple.
“Okay…okay. Come on.”
And he allowed Steve to guide him along. Steve stopped from time to time to point out some indigenous plant or flower, but Danny didn’t care. He just wanted to spend time with this man, regardless of what they were doing.
Oh god…I’ve got it bad.
Another twenty minutes and Danny was dead on his feet. "I think I'm done."
Steve steered him back toward the hospital entrance and the waiting wheelchair.
He was grateful to finally sit down and Steve didn’t seem to mind pushing him back passed the cafeteria and through the maze of corridors until they reached the elevators.
“If you want to nap for awhile, you have some time before Grace gets here.”
“Yeah,” this time there were other people in the car with them and Danny found that he was a little disappointed not to feel Steve's hands somewhere on him. “I think I could use a good nap.”
Once back into his room, he slid from the wheelchair and shuffled toward his bed, kicking off his slippers and climbing in, pulling the blankets up to his shoulders and settling back against the cool pillows.
Steve busied himself with returning the chair and then picking up Danny’s book, settling into his usual seat, flipping through the pages to find his spot, “You want me to read aloud…I think we’re about to find out what happened to Stormy.”
Danny shifted to his side, curling his legs up and tucking his hand under his pillow. “Sure…”
So Steve started reading and Danny listened to the smooth cadence of his natural voice and decided that he liked it when Steve read to him.
At some point he must have drifted off, because he opened his eyes to his mother’s kiss and his father’s pat to his ankle and his sweet monkey calling him, “Danno!”
He held out his arms, but his pop held Gracie back, reminding her to be very careful around Danny’s belly. She solemnly nodded, her eyes losing a little of their brightness, but she carefully crawled onto his bed and hugged him, kissed his cheek.
“What happened to your cheek, Daddy?”
“Huh,” but then he remembered, “Oh…it’s nothing, Monkey…I just slipped, but it’s just a bruise. I’m fine.”
“Oh…okay.” She looked like she wanted to say more, but she didn’t, instead she snuggled closer and laid her head on his shoulder.
He was about to ask about her day when his dad said, “Hey Gracie…Mom-mom and Poppy are going to get your daddy and everyone some dinner. What would you like?”
Her face scrunched up in thought and she looked to his parents and then to Steve, who had moved and perched on one of the window sills so his ma would have a place to sit, and then she said, “I’ll take whatever Danno is having.”
His pop laughed, but nodded. “You got it. Two soft noodles in broth, for my monkey boy and his little monkey, coming right up.”
“And some creamy peanut butter on white bread. Mel, Steve?”
Steve said, “I’ll go with you,” but his pop was quick to decline his offer.
“Me and Ma got it…now, what can I get for you?”
“A sandwich or a slice of pizza would be great, thanks Jim.”
His parent’s left them amidst another lively conversation about the latest dumb thing Tommy had said in school today. “But don’t worry, Danno…I told him that he was wrong.”
She chatted on about her upcoming school project and how she was having a hard time with her Pre-Algebra, but that Mr. Kealoha told her not to worry, that sometimes it takes awhile to understand new concepts. “Plus, you can help me, right Daddy?”
Danny wasn’t sure he could remember all that much about Algebra.
In school he loved History and English, especially Etymology, but he was never all that great at Math but he told her, “sure I can.” and Steve said he could help too and Danny would bet money that Steve was one of those weird people that actually loved numbers and equations.
It fit his personality, but that was good, because if Danny couldn’t help his daughter with her homework, than Steve could.
Steve would help Grace and that thought warmed his heart, so he shot Steve his own goofy grin and got one back in return.
Grace talked a little bit about her past few weeks, weeks that Danny had missed. She told him about Charlie’s new teeth and how he’s toddling around after her and how she and her mom had a mommy/daughter day at a spa. “But I really wished I could have been here with you, Danno…not that spending time with Mommy isn’t fun…I just missed you.”
“I missed you too, baby. But you got to spend time with Poppy and Mom-mom, right? I bet that’s been fun.”
And she was off again talking about all the places his folks had been able to take her and the fun things that had gotten up too. “And me and Mom-mom made lots and lots of food. We put it all in Uncle Steve’s freezer and even Uncle Steve helped.”
“He did, huh?”
And Gracie enthusiastically nodded her head. “Oh yeah, Danno. Mom-mom said he’s a natural and between the two of you, you might be able to have a proper dinner date with a good meal and dessert."
Danny shouldn’t have been surprised, his mom was liable to say whatever popped into her head, but for some reason he was. “Well, well,” he sputtered, “I guess we’ll find out soon enough.”
“How come,” she pushed up to her elbow and looked him in the eyes.
“Because, in a few days or so, Danno gets to go home and since I’m still…a little sore I might need some help and Poppy and Mom-mom are already at Uncle Steve’s, so I’m going to stay there for awhile again…if that’s okay with you, that is?”
Her whole face lit up and she snuggled back down and hugged him. “I love it at Uncle Steve’s house.”
Steve leaned forward, looking like he might have something to say, but Grace asked, “Danno?”
So he answered, “Yeah, Monkey.”
“Is your belly…I mean, I know you got hurt. Mommy told me, but there’s still something wrong with your belly, right? That’s why I have to be so careful.” She shifted her head to look up at him and for a second he didn’t know what to say, but he always believed in telling his daughter the truth, so he nodded his head.
“Yeah, baby. When Danno got hurt, the doctors had to take out and repair some things in my belly.”
He was trying to think of how to explain his ostomy when his daughter sat up, looking a little excited. “Do you have a bag thingy, Daddy? A bag that you go…um…number two in?”
Steve snorted, but Danny wasn’t sure if it was because of Grace’s description or the look of horror on his face.
“Marcy has one, Danno…she showed me when I first started school…she said she only showed it to special people…her real friends. So one day after school we were on the play ground and she told me she had a secret she wanted to share and I know what you say about secrets, daddy.” She looked a bit concerned for revealing that little piece of information, but when he didn’t say anything she went on, “So me and Marcy went around to the side of the school and she showed me what it looked like and told me why she had to have it…she was born with a belly problem.”
He still didn’t know what to say, but Steve stepped in and helped him out, “that’s right Gracie. Sometimes when people have belly problems they need to use those bags, but the good news is that once Danno’s stomach gets better, he can have it removed and his belly will work again.”
“Oh…okay,” and she sunk back down and rested her head on his shoulder.
Danny looked to Steve, who just shook his head and shrugged, raising his brow.
Finally he told her, “If you ever want to see it…”
She eyed him for a second then shook her head, “that’s okay Daddy…Uncle Steve’s seen it, right?”
“Ah…yeah, Monkey. Uncle Steve’s seen it.”
She nodded against his chest, saying, “Good.”
This time when he looked to Steve, he was nervously scratching at the back of his neck, but he had a huge smile on his face.
His parent’s returned a few minutes later.
His pop was carrying a large brown bag and his ma a pizza box and Danny’s belly rumbled, making everyone laugh, but they all knew it was a good sign.
Mel passed out some paper plates and handed him a container of soup and a fork and spoon. Gracie got up and sat near his knees, on the other side of the rolling table, sharing it with him.
She got a smaller container of soup and a slice of pizza topped with pineapple and ham, but Danny let it go, taking the lid off his own meal and sniffed the broth.
His dad passed a foil wrapped sandwich to Steve and passed him one too, but he knew without opening it, it would just be his old stand by. Not that he was complaining, because some days it seemed like all he could stomach was peanut butter on white bread. They used to call them choke sandwiches back when he was in school, but now he was just grateful that they went down and stayed down and didn’t upset his stomach.
His ma handed out cold cans of coke to the others and a cup of some kind of juice for him before taking a slice of pizza, putting the closed box over on the counter when he scrunched up his nose.
“Is the smell bothering you, baby?”
“No…it’s fine.” He busied himself with pushing his spoon through the dark beef broth, worried because he had only had chicken before, but he managed a couple of noodles while everyone else feigned eating their supper, waiting to see if he was going to be able to eat.
After his first few bites, Grace nibbled on her pizza and his mom folded hers in half, showing his daughter the proper way to enjoy a slice.
Steve devoured his turkey club on rye and his pop ate his BLT and then ventured a slice of the pizza.
They looked up when a knock came at the door to see Chin and Kono standing in the opening.
“Did we come at a bad time?” Kono’s voice was still a little loud, but not as loud as her last visit.
“No…get in here and eat the rest of that monstrosity before it corrupts my folks anymore than it already has.”
Kono leaned in and kissed him on the cheek before helping herself to a piece of pizza.
Chin’s right arm was high on his chest, in a sling and Danny could make out the padded bandage under his Henley, but he dropped a small bag he was carrying on the rolling table and reached for Danny with his good hand, “You’re looking good, brah…I bet they spring you soon.”
“I sure hope so…”
Danny’s mom handed Chin a paper plate with a slice of pizza and a can of coke and the two new visitors settled in wherever they could find a spot, Chin on the window sill next to Steve and Kono at the foot of his bed.
They ate and talked and laughed, his folks recanting some truly embarrassing stories from his younger days, but it was nice…having his whole family around him.
He sipped his broth, but gave up about half way through. He wasn’t hungry but when his ma glanced his way, giving him a disapproving look, he opened his sandwich and pulled the bread apart, nibbling on one half as Kono told his parents about her past surfing career.
“I’ve been even teaching Gracie and Danny…they’re getting pretty good…Gracie is much better, but…”
“Hey…be nice. It’s not easy standing on a piece of wood on top of a wave.”
“Polystyrene foam covered with layers of fiberglass,” Kono and Steve and Chin all corrected and then cracked up over speaking in stereo.
His mom bustled around the room, cleaning up the remains of their shared meal and Kono stood and gave him another kiss. “When you’re feeling up to it, we should show you’re folks just how good you are out there on the waves.”
He doubted that would be anytime soon, but nodded anyway. “Yeah, sounds like a plan.”
“Kono can take me and Poppy and Mom-mom, right Danno? If your belly is still hurt, you can watch from the beach like you used to before you learned how to surf.”
She looked so hopeful, but her mom-mom tweaked her nose and said, “Pineapple pizza is one thing, little miss…but I draw the line at getting in shark-infested waters on a stick.”
“Aw…but Mom-mom…it’s really safe if you know what you’re doing and…”
“How about this…when your Danno gets a little better, you and Kono can show me and poppy and everyone else your moves and I’ll take lots of pictures of my beautiful grandbaby and show them off to everyone I know …how’s that sound?”
“That sounds great!”
“It’s a plan, then.” Kono hugged Grace, his ma and pop and then Steve.
Chin made his rounds too, leaving Danny for last. “It’s good to see you looking so well.”
“You too,” Danny nodded toward the bandages and sling.
“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go home to my wife and eat her first attempt at meatloaf,” he patted his belly, “Glad I saved some room…oh, I almost forgot.” He reached for the bag he had left on Danny’s table, handing it to him. “I brought you some dessert.”
Danny unfolded the bag and saw what was inside, shooting his father the stink eye, “Pop?”
“What? You love jello…”
“Lemon, right?’ Chin asked, backing out of the room.
Kono snickered, “and orange…don’t forget the orange, brah.” And then they were through the door and gone.
“What’s the big deal…Chin tells me we’re what you call ohana, family, right? We’re all family here.”
Danny sighed, knowing he was fighting a losing battle. His team would know his whole life story before his parents left the island at this rate.
He pulled the jello cups from the bag, handing one to Grace, holding one up for Steve who took it and asked, “What’s with the jello? What did I miss?”
“Daddy’s imaginary friends.”
“Grace!” Danny’s face was turning an interesting shade of pink, he just knew it was.
“What, Danno? It’s only fair that Uncle Steve knows if everyone else does, right Uncle Steve?”
‘Then you tell him…I’m gonna eat my jello.” And putting words to action, he ripped off the foil top and picked up his spoon, actually enjoying the tart taste and texture of one of his favorite childhood treats.
Steve was rolling by the time Grace was done embellishing the story, adding on a whole slew of flavors for friends and Danny enjoyed hearing both of them talk and laugh.
His ma finished tidying up his room and his pop pulled his laptop from its case, setting the computer on the table over his lap and powered it up, setting the connection so he could Skype his sister’s back home. In another half hour or so it would be early morning on the east coast and the girls were going to gather at his parent’s house so they could all talk.
Danny hadn’t seen any of them in person in years, even though they did manage to video chat when they could.
He knew that Ruthie’s girls were starting at a new private school this year, because her husband, Scott had gotten a promotion and Ruthie wouldn’t have to work, but she enjoyed nursing, so she was thinking about just going part time.
And he knew that Becca was starting her new teaching job this fall, moving from one school district to another because her husband, Josh had gotten his transfer to Andrew’s AFB near D.C., once he got back from his latest tour, which made his ma and pop very happy. Washington was a lot closer than Colorado, although she had often lamented that she didn’t know why he couldn’t be moved to Hickam. Danny told her she was nuts to want to willingly move here, but he would be ecstatic if she ever did. He would love to spend time with his sister…to have another New Jersey native on his side.
Little Bee was harder to keep up with. She was so busy during her last semester, but he knew she was excited to be accepted for her residency at New York Presbyterian.
“I think I got this thing figured out,” his dad told him, stepping back so Danny could see the Skype connection.
“Looks good to me,” he said, glancing at the clock on his monitor. “It’s should be almost ten in the morning there.”
“Okay, fire this baby up.” Jim leaned over him, looking to see what button to punch to make the connection, finding the call tab and tried to click on it, mumbling under his breath about his goofy thumbs. “Got it…Mel…come on, the calls going through.”
Steve stood and started toward the door, but Mel and Grace both asked him where he thought he was going.
“I guess I thought…”
“That always gets you in trouble,” Danny added, but smiled when Steve returned to his perch on the window sill.
Once the connection was made, it was hard to keep track of all the conversations going on at once.
His sister’s looked great though, all smiles and warm wishes and even Dinky wagged his tail at Danny’s voice.
His Ma told them, “Me and Pop will talk to you all after you have a chance to speak with your brother and Gracie.”
A chorus of, “Okay, ma,” came over the video feed and for the next few minutes he had to reassure them that he was actually doing better and was hoping to be able to go home soon, which reminded him of Steve, so he looked Steve’s way and inclined his head in invitation.
Grace spoke with her aunts while Steve moved closer.
They gushed over how beautiful she was and how tall she had grown since they had last seen her, but after a little while, Grace ran out of things to talk about, so she said her good byes with a promise to speak again soon and moved off the bed so Steve could lower the rail and sit by him.
“Whoa…and who is this?”
It was Steve’s turn to turn an interesting shade of pink.
“Ruth Ann!” his pop yelled from the other side of the room, clearly not caring that Danny now knew that he was listening in.
”What pop? I’m married, not blind!”
“Ruthie,” Danny thought he better speak up before a room full of Williams, here and on the east coast, started in on each other. “This is Steve, my partner.”
“Oh, so you’re Steve…we’ve heard lots about you. It’s great to finally, sorta meet ya. I’m Ruth and these,” she pointed toward the other two women sitting on the leather sofa by her, "are my sisters, Rebecca and Bethany.” The little scruffy dog on her lap growled at the screen and she patted his head, “and this little munchkin is Dinky.”
“It’s nice to sorta meet you,” Steve told them. “I just wish it was under better circumstances.”
Danny listened as they gave Steve the third degree, questioning him on everything from his partnering to his eating habits and anything that fell in between and before they were done talking, they had somehow conned Steve into inviting them all out when they could, offering them tours of the island and his spare bedrooms if they wanted to visit.
Danny was getting tired, so he said, “I think ma wants to talk to you all…she wants to make sure her little boy is doing okay too.”
“Don’t be jealous of the Dinks, Daniel. We all know who the real momma’s boy is.” Ruthie and his sisters laughed, but wished him a speedy recovery and blew him kisses as he handed the monitor to his pop.
“What just happened?” Steve wondered aloud and Danny patted his hand.
“Don't worry about it, babe. It’s the Williams Effect,” he explained. “We have a way with people.”
They sat side by side in comfortable silence while his parent’s finished up their conversation, checking in with each of his sisters and asking about the house and news from the neighborhood.
Danny tuned them out after awhile and closed his eyes, started to drift off with Steve’s warm weight beside him, but his eyes snapped opened when Steve shifted, moving from the bed.
He spotted Dr. Hoy standing near the doorway, speaking with his parents and then his ma and pop came to say their good nights.
His ma said, “We’re going to take Gracie back to Steve’s to watch a movie and then home. We’ll see you in the morning, baby.” And she planted a kiss on each eye lid and told him, “Sweet dreams.”
His dad kissed the top of his head and patted his arm before Gracie climbed up and kissed him on the cheek. “Good night, Danno.”
“Good night, Monkey. Be good for Mom-mom and Poppy.”
“Promise,” she said, sliding down and hugging Steve around his legs, “Good night, Uncle Steve.”
“Good night, Gracie…see you soon.”
“Yup, this weekend again, Mommy said I could.” She gave Steve one more squeeze before joining her grandparents in the hall to head home for the night.
The doctor had waited patiently for the good-byes and then moved to the bed, asking, “How are you feeling this evening, Danny?”
“Better…still sleeping more than I’m awake, but it’s getting better.”
“Good,” the man went to the computer on the shelf in the corner of the room and typed on the key board. “How about you’re pain? Are the oral pills giving you good control?”
“Yes, I mean, I’m due for my next dose soon and I’m still pretty comfortable.”
“Excellent…you mind if I take a look?”
The exam didn’t take long.
The Doctor palpated his belly and incision area and looked at his stoma for few seconds before lowering Danny’s tee.
He pulled his stethoscope from his pocket and listened to Danny’s heart for a few minutes and then went back to the keyboard to input his findings. “I think you are making great progress…you’re surgical site looks good, your stoma looks good and you’re fever is still down.” He finished with the computer and signed it off, turning back to Danny. “If you keep this up, I’d say you can be home by the weekend.”
“Really?” The weekend was only three days away.
“Yes, really. We need to run some non-invasive tests, do some imaging over the next few days. Make sure the bacterial infection is completely gone. Take a look at how your spleen and diaphragm are healing and get the ostomy nurse to go over some at-home techniques for caring for your stoma and some food strategies, but after that, you will be able to go home.
I’ll probably prescribe Hawaii Home Care to come in a few times a week for a bit, but after that, you won’t need to see me for a few months…do you have any questions?”
“No, I mean…Luka was telling me that I can do most things with the stoma, but when will I be able to have it reversed.”
Dr. Hoy pocketed his stethoscope and crossed his arms over his chest and Danny was worried that that was a bad sign, but he went on to explain, “Usually it takes three to six months for your type of injuries to heal enough to allow a reversal. We’ll have to assess the type of surgery at a later date, but I think you’re a good candidate for laparoscopic. It might not be possible and if that’s the case, we’ll have to open you up again. It’s a small chance, but you need to be prepared if that is indeed the outcome and remember, just because your ostomy may be reversible, doesn’t mean you have to have it done.”
Danny wasn’t sure if he understood…were there people out there that could get rid of the bag and go back to a normal bowel function and choose not to?
“Some patient’s decide that they don’t want to be opened back up and have to go through a long recovery and because they get used to their new bowel habits and realize that they can do just about everything they did before, they choose not to have a reversal, but lets cross that bridge when we come to it, okay?”
“Good. I’ll see you in the morning.”
Steve stepped out with the doctor, but Danny didn’t know who wanted to talk to whom, but he guessed that Steve would tell him if it was anything he needed to know.
He let his eyes shut again, feeling sleepy and warm…happy.
Because in three more days he was going home.
This is the last section for this part of the series. I wanted to thank all those that read and responded with lovely feedback. It is very gratifying to see that people enjoy something that I’ve come up with and your comments and kudos often lifted my day. The next part in the series will be snapshots or time stamps in this universe and will include Danny and Steve’s continual struggle with Danny’s recovery and challenges it will present. I also want to explore as many aspects of their relationship, love/sex life, work challenges, and family as I can. Please feel free to make any suggestions for what you might like to see. Thanks again! Dawn Twilight
Steve maneuvered carefully through the streets, trying to avoid potholes or unnecessary lane changes as Danny reclined in the passenger seat, gazing out the window at the clouds and passing traffic, unusually quiet, but that might have had something to do with the pain medicine he had been given just before he was discharged this afternoon.
Danny’s parents had gone on ahead, taking a stack of prescriptions to the pharmacy down the street from Steve’s house. The plan was to get everything Danny might need and get him settled in for a quiet evening at home, but Kono and Chin had asked about dropping by and Grace was already staying the weekend.
He knew that everyone was excited to have Danny with them, but Steve was worried about overtaxing him…he already seemed so worn out and all he had done today was get his stitches removed, take a short walk in the courtyard, get dressed to go home…only to sit on the bed for hours while they waited for the discharge papers… and see Dr. Hoy for a final visit and instructions. Mel had taken the release papers, had listen intently, like Steve had, to all the restrictions and follow-up information, tucking the paper with the emergency contact information in her purse, telling him she would post the numbers on the fridge.
A car in the next lane signaled, but zipped in front of the camaro and Steve had no choice but to slam on his break pedal and then lay on the horn, “Asshole,” he threw out his right arm automatically, as if it alone could keep Danny from lurching forward in his seat.
He heard a slight grunt, already apologizing, “Sorry, Danno…sorry.”
Danny had a pillow clutched to his stomach, but his face was already free of pain lines, so Steve wasn’t sure if the sudden deceleration had actually caused him any pain or if the fear of pain had caused Danny to tense up and hurt himself.
“Not your fault, babe.” Danny was already relaxing back into the seat, this time closing his eyes and Steve noted the car that had cut them off was making a right hand turn and memorized the plate number, not sure what he would do with that information, but at the very least he was going to pull the idiots driving record, see if he had any outstanding parking tickets or speeding fines so he could yank his license.
“Just let it go, babe.”
Steve smirked and sighed…Danny knew him so well.
And thinking about that little fact caused a little tendril of anxiety to coil in his gut, because no one…not even Cat, his one and only stable relationship, had gotten under his skin like Danny had…no one had ever even cared enough to try to scale the walls that Steve had thrown up over the years.
But Danny...he had picked at them...pulled them down brick by brick just by being a friend, an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on and Danny deserved so much…maybe more than Steve would be capable of giving him…he wasn’t exactly good at relationships…sure, he had said all the right things to Danny and meant every word, but still…what if he fucked this up?
What if Danny decided…
“I can smell the smoke from here.”
Steve glanced at Danny, realizing his hands were gripping the steering wheel a little tighter than necessary and uncurled his fingers, resting one hand loosely on his thigh.
His boyfriend? Mate? Significant other? Danny…his Danny still had his head slightly turned toward the window and his eyes were closed. So he asked, “What?”
Danny turned toward Steve then, “You’re thinking too much…I can smell the smoke,” and then he reached over the gear shift and center console to grab Steve’s hand. “It’s a little late to have a freak out, don’t you think?”
“I’m not freaking out,” but his voice actually warbled. “I mean,” he turned his eyes back to the road before Danny had to remind him, “I’m not freaking out about us.”
When he looked back, Danny narrowed his eyes, squinting at him and so he cleared his throat and said, “Much…I’m not freaking out much…I just…”
Danny patted his hand and closed his eyes again, “I know, babe…I know.”
The rest of the ride was quiet, but it was a comfortable silence.
Steve's truck was already parked in the drive when he pulled in and he spotted Kono’s car and Chin’s bike along the street.
He killed the ignition, climbing out and pocketing his keys before heading around to help Danny.
Danny’s mom had already opened the front door and waited patiently as he reached into the car to raise the seat and then stood by helplessly when Danny swatted his hand away.
It took a few minutes, but Danny had finally managed to swing his legs out of the low slung car and leaned forward, resting with his elbows on his knees and his head bowed for a second before reaching up his hand so Steve could help haul him to his feet.
The pillow landed on the ground, but Danny didn’t seem bothered, so Steve left it, wrapping his arm around Danny’s waist for support and taking some of his weight as they shuffled toward the front door.
Danny tiredly whispered, “Are there a ton of people in there?”
His hot breath tickled Steve’s ear, making him shiver, but he answered, “I don’t think so, Danno. Just our family.”
They reached the door and Mel held it open for them, leaning in to kiss Danny’s cheek as they passed over the threshold and Jim squeezed Danny’s shoulder on the way out, heading to the car to get his son’s duffle bag.
Earlier they had already taken all the cards and plants, some of the flowers, leaving most for the nurses to distribute to other patients. By the end of Danny’s three week stay his room had looked like a florist shop and Danny didn’t want the fresh ones to go to waste, so they decided to leave them for people whose rooms needed a little brightening.
As Mel closed the door, Steve spotted Chin and Malia in the dining room, sitting at the table and drinking coffee from mugs, a monopoly game board between them and he assumed both Jim and Mel had been playing too. They both looked up and greeted them with warm smiles, but they didn’t crowd the door, giving Danny some space.
He could see Kono and Grace through the dining room window, in their bikinis on the beach, surfboards pitched in the sand, running back and forth along the shoreline, carrying buckets of wet sand, obviously making castles or in Kono’s case, forts.
Danny sagged a little against him so he asked, “Couch or recliner, babe?”
“I’ve got it,” Danny told him, shrugging out of his one arm embrace and giving a little wave to his visitors. “I hope you’re not playing for cash…” he called to his friends as he stiffly walked to the recliner and gingerly sat. “My mom’s a monopoly shark.”
“Daniel…” his mom scolded, “Don’t be telling all my secrets.” Mel picked up a throw from the back of the couch and draped it over Danny’s legs, asking, “Can I get you anything, baby? Are you hungry or do you want a drink?”
“Nah, ma…I’m good.”
“Okay. I’m going to go see what Gracie is up to…she and Kono have been in the water all day…I’ve got a ton of pictures for you to look at later.” She didn’t say anything about telling Grace that her dad was home, but she probably decided it would be better for Danny to get settled before hurricane Gracie came blowing in.
The TV was on, the volume low and the Game Show Network was playing reruns of Wheel of Fortune, so Steve settled on to the end of the sofa nearest Danny as Malia and Chin made their way in and sat in the other seats, “We just wanted to see how you were doing,” Malia said, “but you look wiped, so…”
“Don’t rush off on my account.” Danny told them, waving a dismissive hand, flipping up the foot rest and settling in. “I am wiped, but that’s nothing new, so if I start to snore mid-sentence, just carry on without me.”
Malia nodded, understanding, knowing that Danny was still feeling rough, but Chin's lips upturned in the tiniest of smiles and said, “You got it, brah…if you need to, just take a nap and don’t worry about us. We only came for Mel’s homemade chicken and dumplings anyway.”
“Chin Ho Kelly,” Malia slapped her husband on his uninjured arm and Steve laughed, feeling like maybe a weight was lifting, like things were getting back to normal or what passed as normal for them anyway.
“What…you’re the one who said…” But Malia’s hand shot up to cover Chin’s mouth.
“Don’t listen to him Danny…we came to see you…and then to eat…but to see you first.”
Danny waved them all off and Steve watched the exchange, missing Danny’s quick comebacks and rants, but soon enough he would be feeling better…more like himself, Steve had to believe that.
They watched the show, a puzzle already up with a few letters exposed, the category quotations. Danny glanced at the screen and said, “Here is my handle, here is my spout.”
Jim came back through the door then, carrying Danny’s duffle, his pillow, plus a suitcase of clothes they had collected from Danny’s apartment. “So, my little tea pot, I’ll take this stuff to your room.” Everyone on the couch snickered and giggled, but Danny ignored them while Vanna White actually had to turn the lit letter board tiles to reveal more of the answer. Several more spins and letter guesses later had proved that Danny had already gotten the answer right. “Don’t ever bet Danny money in this game…he’s like a word savant,” Jim warned them and then told his son, “Ma already turned down the bed so you can lay down while dinner is cooking and I’m sure she’ll unpack you if you want.”
“Thanks pop.” Danny yawned and eyed the suitcase, but didn’t say anything else about it.
Steve had already told him that his parent’s had gone to his place and packed his clothes and some other essentials. Mel had brought some boxes to pack up Danny’s kitchen and closets…and Steve found that there wasn’t a lot…some dishes and pots and pans, which Danny wouldn’t need, and some books, personal paperwork, photo albums, a few mementoes of his past, Grace’s artwork…
A lot of the furniture came with the apartment, but the few things Danny had moved with him fit into Steve’s garage and when he felt up to it, he could look through the boxes and decide what to keep.
Steve had already talked with the rental company and paid the amount owed to get Danny out of his lease, canceled the power, cable, and internet and brought Danny’s checkbook, folder with his bills, and a stack of mail to look through.
They had put the fairly new flat screen TV into Steve’s other spare room, so Danny would be able to watch it if he didn’t want to get out of bed, or listen with his headphones if the waves bothered his sleep.
Pat Sajak had spun the wheel for the final round, the category was a phrase and the first contestant guessed the letter ‘S’, earning a thousand dollars and a second guess, but before the portly woman could guess another consonant, Danny said, “On the same page.”
Chin shook his head and announced, “Whoa, brah…no betting Danny, got it.”
Before the show ended, they all heard Grace pounding through the kitchen, calling, “Danno?”
“In here, Monkey.”
Danny’s daughter pulled up short, walking the rest of the way and carefully climbing up and onto her dad’s legs, turning to sit in his lap. “I’m glad you’re home, Daddy…We’ve been making sand castles…you want to see?”
Danny kissed her head and said, “Sure, baby…how about you head back out and I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
“Kay, Danno.” She pressed a kiss on his face and he asked for another and than another until Gracie finally declared him, “Silly…come out soon, okay? Before the water comes up and takes my castle down to Davy Jones Locker.” She scrambled down, ready to run back to the beach, but she slowed her pace when she saw her mom-mom watching from the kitchen.
“Have you been watching Pirates again?” Danny called over his shoulder.
Grace holler back, “I love Orlando Bloom,” and Steve could see a look of horror appear on Danny’s face.
“How do we go from sweet Disney Princesses to hunky Will Turner…how does that happen?”
Malia opened her mouth to answer, but Danny shot her a look and this time it was Chin’s turn to cover his wife’s mouth with his hand. “Please don’t get him started.”
“Come on, Danno,” Steve got up from the couch, “Let’s go see Grace’s castle and whatever passes as a castle for Kono.”
Danny lowered the foot rest, letting Steve help him up, but shrugged out of Steve’s embrace, giving him an apologetic look.
They had spent the last few weeks talking about being careful not to reveal their new found relationship or act out of character, but Steve was finding it hard to keep his hands off of the man, because Danny was so touchable and huggable and kissable.
But Danny needed to talk to his parents, although Steve thought that Mel and Jim had to have already known.
And they needed to speak with Grace…Danny didn’t want to keep anything from her, and yet they both knew that she wasn’t really old enough to understand anything beyond the basic.
They had also decided that they weren’t going to mention anything to Chin and Kono either.
It wasn’t that he didn’t want to tell them. But he knew that Danny was deeply worried about the implications, was worried that coming out to them while trying to keep their private lives private from the rest of the world, just wasn’t fair to them and if the shit did eventually hit the fan, at least his team mates would be protected, would be able to claim plausible deniability.
As for the rest of the PD, they could go on speculating and joking that he and Danny were already an old married couple and think whatever they wanted…nothing new there…
It’s what Danny wanted, at least for now and Steve was willing to give that to him because something had happened…
Steve didn’t know the whole story, just that the first and last relationship Danny had had with another guy, Ritchie, hadn’t turned out well and that Danny didn’t want to talk about it
And Steve didn’t push, but he did want to know, did want to understand where Danny was coming from, but after a few aborted conversations Danny had plainly asked, “Why can’t we just have something for ourselves…”
And Steve had to admit, he did like the idea of having something that was just between and for them.
Kono waved, standing from leaning over her own sturdy looking sand structure, coming closer as Steve helped ease Danny into a lawn chair.
She jogged up and wrapped her arms around Danny, hugging him maybe a little too tight, but he didn't seem to mind. In fact his hands lingered on her back and Steve could hear the whispered, "Thanks, Kono," before she stood and stepped back to scan the beach for Grace, finding her working on her own structure.
"No problem, brah...I got a cousin who knows a girl who makes and sells them on the net...they are suppose to be very comfortable."
Now Steve knew that they were talking about the gift she had brought Danny a few days before, a special belt made from soft stretchy material that enclosed the ostomy bag and kept it from rubbing against Danny's skin or held it snug against his body so he could do more physical activities.
"Hey, if you really like them, they have them in prints like Hawaii blue or sunset patterns...I can hook you up."
"Yeah...that'll be great..."
"I'm gonna take Grace back out...she already showed Mel and Jim all her moves so now they have something to compare you too."
Danny swatted at her, making shooing motions so she ran back to Grace, grabbing her board and following Danny's daughter back into the ocean.
Steve had snagged the blanket and draped it over Danny's lap, knowing if he got too hot, he would just kick the covers off. “I’m going to see what’s cooking. You want a drink…some iced tea maybe?”
So he turned to go back into the house, but Danny grabbed his sleeve, looking up at him like he had something important to say.
Steve took a second to stared into Danny's eyes, search his beloved face, before smiling and asking, “Whatcha need, babe?”
“Nothing…got everything I need, but thank you.”
And Steve wanted to lean in and kiss him so badly.
Kono and Grace were paddling out and no one in the house seemed to be looking out at them, so he reached and grabbed Danny’s hand, pulling him forward, meeting Danny halfway. “Me too, Danno. Got everything I need right here.”
And then he did kiss him, slow and gentle, keeping one eye on the girls and thinking, it might not all be smooth sailing, but Danny was worth it…Danny was worth everything to him.
Ma and Pop Williams head home.
Danny struggles with his limitations and frustrations.
Steve has to hire someone to take Danny’s place (temporarily) and can’t bring himself to tell Danny.
Steve reaches his limits.
Danny is having a sexual problem and tells Steve about his last encounter with Richie.
They make progress in the bedroom...and then they eat cake.