Title: The Hardest Part

Disclaimer: Not mine.

A/N: Written for the LJ drabble comm. The prompt this time was "guilt." This didn't turn out quite as interesting as I'd hoped, but here it is nonetheless because it seems silly to leave fic on my computer. Beta'ed by geminigrl11.

Summary: They say waiting is the hardest part.


They say waiting is the hardest part.

Planning the bust is easy. Three armed dealers, two well-backed buyers, a whole lot of drugs, and going in hot is Steve's best option. Getting in isn't even much of a task, not with the careful cover fire from Chin and Kono while he takes the left flank and Danny takes the right.

In the grand scheme of things, it also isn't hard to miss the shot that takes Danny down. In the barrage of gunfire, Steve has a lot to track, and it isn't until Kono cries for help that he realizes something has gone wrong at all.

It's surprisingly easy to assess Danny's condition. His partner is unconscious, with one shot to the thigh and another to the chest. A tourniquet to the leg, pressure on the chest, and he works to control the bleeding even as he explains patiently to Kono how to keep a read on Danny's vitals.

It isn't even hard to get in the ambulance, no matter what the medics try to tell him. Easier still is sitting there, letting the medic work, inserting IVs and threading a tube down Danny's throat. Steve doesn't take his eyes off his partner's too-pale face.

He answers the doctors' questions, calls the governor for an update, and leaves a message with Rachel for good measure. He checks in with Chin and Kono, and the perp who shot Danny will be in interrogation when Steve gets back.

None of it is hard. Steve is trained for combat and as long as he's doing something, it's all second nature.

Then Steve sits down in a waiting room and the hard part begins.

It isn't the second-guessing, though Steve does plenty of that. What if he'd gone in faster, what if he'd taken out the shooter sooner. What if there'd been a better way to enter the scene altogether.

It isn't even the doubt, which weighs heavily nonetheless. The injuries are serious, and it could take weeks or months to recover, assuming Danny makes it through surgery at all.

It's the guilt. This is his team, and he calls the shots, and they trust him to do it right. Steve takes precautions, but the mission is always his endgame, and sometimes he plans with that in mind first. Safety is just a convenient afterthought.

Steve fights crime like he has nothing left to lose. But Danny has a lot to lose. His daughter and his life, just to name a few.

Danny isn't the only one.

This team is Steve's family and Danny isn't just a partner. He's a friend. More than that, Danny trusts Steve with his life, and this time, Steve let him down.

"Steve McGarrett?" a voice asks.

Steve startles, looking up.

"I'm here to update you about Detective Williams," the doctor says.

Swallowing, Steve pushes the guilt aside and gets to his feet.

They say waiting is the hardest part and Steve really hopes that's true.