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a long wait

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“Who did this? Who hurt you?”

The pain in Junior’s voice is too much for Noelani and she has to turn away from Tani’s hospital bed to compose herself. She takes a couple of steps towards the door, pressing her lips together as she goes, pressing a hand to her chest as if that will physically keep back the sob she feels building there.

Tani doesn’t answer him.

Instead, all Noelani hears is Junior’s voice, quietly talking to Tani and the rhythmic beep of the heart monitor that tells her that her friend is still there, still fighting like she always does, even if she’s so very still and so very silent, so very, very not Tani.

Noelani’s so busy trying to pull herself together that she startles at a light touch to her elbow. She finds herself looking up into Steve’s concerned eyes, his brow furrowed as he stares down at her. “How’re you holding up?” he asks and all she can do is shake her head. “I can stay,” he adds, “if you want to take a few minutes.”

This time, when she shakes her head, it’s for an entirely different reason. “You go,” she says. “Catch whoever did this.”

In spite of their surroundings, his lips quirk up in the tiniest of smiles. “Yes, ma’am.” It’s accompanied by another, longer squeeze to her elbow that does more to make her feel better than it has any right to.

“I’m coming with you.”

Junior’s voice, angry and determined, has them both looking around. When he replies, Steve is calm. “No, you’re not.”

The riposte is instant and, frankly, obvious. “You would.”

Junior’s not wrong and they all know it but Steve doesn't blink. “Which is how I know it’s the wrong call,” he counters. “Stay here with her. Be here when she wakes up. That’s your mission right now. You hear me?”

For a second, it looks like Junior’s going to argue with him. Then he glances back at Tani and visibly wilts. He doesn’t say another word, just goes back to her side and Noelani looks back to Steve.

His hands find her shoulder briefly. “Call me if there’s any change.”

She’s very tempted to throw herself into his arms but she resists. However, as if he can read her mind - and it’s Steve McGarrett, so she wouldn’t actually put it past him - he steps closer to her and pulls her against his chest. His arms wrap around her shoulders and hers automatically slide around his waist as she lays her cheek against his chest.

He really does give the most fantastic hugs.

And it’s only when she feels his head resting on top of hers, his sigh ruffling her hair, that she realises maybe she’s not the only one who needs this.

It’s an eternity and too soon by half when he pulls away, takes a step back. “I’ll call you if I find anything,” he promises and she watches him go, waits until the door closes behind him before she sits down beside Junior, joining him in a long wait.