A/N: I really hope the end to that last chapter didn't cause anybody to hack my account and hunt me down. I'm honestly not sure what happened. I was trying to think of what I'd done the least, and poison seemed to be the most viable option.

SORRY FOR NOT UPDATING! I had it completed and the updates scheduled. And then I looked at the conclusion chapter and decided I hated it, so I scratched it and wrote another. Be glad… you wouldn't have liked it either.

Thanks again for such wonderful reviews. I've considered a sequel, but I'm all about beating the shit out of Steve and I've basically exhausted that part of this story arc- so this might be it kiddies. If there is some sort of demand for a sequel, you tell me what YOU want and I'll cater to your wants and needs.

This is it, by the way. The finale. The last chapter. Hopefully the conclusion is alright. I wanted to leave with a bang, but I didn't want to disappoint.



Disclaimer: All recognizable characters, plotlines, and snappy catchphrases belong to CBS studios. No profit is being made in the publication of this story.

"He's dead."

"You don't know that."

"Yes I do. Literally, he's dead. No heartbeat. No blood flow. He's dead."

"Danny, you're being unreasonable-"

Kono couldn't get another word in after that; she was startled into silence when Danny sprang out of his seat and began to pace the room irritably. The shark smack of his dress shoes on the linoleum floor rang out against the otherwise oppressive silence. Kono watched him warily from the seat next to the one he'd just vacated, but she said nothing else. Danny didn't know if he appreciated it or secretly craved her empty words of comfort.

Kono began to shake ever so slightly, but the movement still caught Danny's eye. He stopped pacing when he realized she was just as upset and impatient and pissed off as he was. He moved back to his chair and put an arm around her, hoping he could offer comfort without having to churn out out falsely hopeful bullshit.

Kono leaned into him gratefully. Having her weight against his chest and her warmth seep into him let Danny relax a little so that he no longer felt the inexplicable urge to walk around angrily and punch something.

The clock on the wall opposite him ticked and tocked with irritable repetitiveness, as though it served no greater purpose than to remind Danny of how much time they had spent in that bare and desolate limbo, waiting for some kind of reassurance.

"Eight," Kono said, also glancing at the device- though she seemed not to have the terrible rage toward it that Danny did. "I can't believe it's been seven hours. No news is good news I suppose." She sighed.

"No news means that they just haven't decided the best way to remove the body yet, Kono." Danny's voice shook audibly. Whether it was out of anger or sheer agony, not even he knew.

Kono, her had still resting against his favorite pinstriped shirt, looked up to eye him beneath her full lashes.

"You're not usually so pessimistic, Danny," she said. Her eyes tightened in stress just a little, but it alerted Danny to just how much his words were getting to her.

"I'm sorry," he said honestly, deflating. "It's just… you didn't see it. It wasn't like last time, Kono; he was ready to die on that dock. He was all set to let us go on our merry way and just sit down and let his life slip away from him. He wanted to go to the fucking beach."

"He's strong, Danny," she replied, taking his hand in her own. "He'll pull through."

"He's a ninja; I'm sure his body will pull through. The question is… does he really want to?"

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

"Well, he was set to let this poison eat away at him and kick the bucket all alone. It makes you wonder what the hell he was thinking when he decided we weren't worth telling. It makes me wonder if he really has anything to come back to." Danny looked away from Kono and at the sterile and bland walls around him. This was purgatory, and Danny hated it.

Kono sat up suddenly and let Danny's hand fall listlessly to his side. She turned to look his face full on and would not speak until Danny's eyes met her own.

"He will pull through, Danny!" She said forcefully, her hands reaching out to shake him harshly. "He's going to come back to us because we're family, and family means we never, ever give up on each other."

Danny didn't know what to say, really. Here was Kono, the rookie, telling him exactly how it was going to be. He supposed she simply knew more about family than he ever could hope to understand.

"Did you ever wonder that the reason he didn't want to tell us was that he didn't want to put us through that? Did you ever think he was just looking out for his family?" Kono's voice trailed away, but Danny heard every word.

He sighed. He hadn't considered that at all. But, looking back on it, it would be typical McGarrett fashion to think of others to his dying breath. Danny cringed; he shouldn't have gone there.

Danny and Kono broke eye contact when Chin's brightly colored shirt assaulted their periphery vision. The loud Hawaiian print clashed horribly with the drab white walls and speckled floors as Chin moved to sit on Danny's other side, and the sight made everybody smile just a little.

Chin sighed, his eyes cast down, and asked, "What's the latest?"

"He's dead."

Kono smacked Danny hard in the harm. He yelped, and turned to glare at her while rubbing the bruised limb.

"He's not dead, Chin," Kono affirmed, glancing at her cousin. Danny wanted to point out that, technically, yes he was, but he figured his pessimism would become infectious.

"What's going on then? What's taking so long?"

Kono, much like Danny had a moment prior, sighed monumentally.

"The poison was moving too fast so… so they froze him."

"Froze him?"

She nodded. "Yeah. They cooled him off to slow the blood flow and then they stopped his heart and put him on bypass. Last we heard, the doctors were making small incisions into various arteries throughout his chest and removing the blood and then giving him periodic transfusions. That was-" she checked her watch- "four hours ago."

Danny felt restless again. His legs seemed determined to move, and he found himself bouncing up and down in his seat like an impatient child. Hearing Kono's retelling of what the doctors had explained made everything too real. With the doctors and their complex medical terminology, it was much easier to pretend it was just a bad soap opera. With Kono, it was as real as the scuffed up shoes on his feet, and the reality hurt a lot more than the illusion that he could turn everything off like it was crappy television.

Chin's dark eyes stormed up ever so slightly at his cousin's words, but when Danny blinked it was gone and Chin was calm again.

There was very little else to say, but the silence was too oppressive to stand, so instead they filled it with menial chatter to help ease the pain of waiting for something in this nightmarishly bright place.

"What happened to Grace?" Kono asked Danny, turning back to let her expressive eyes bore into him.

"She went home with a deputy. Summers, right?" He turned to Chin- who was with Gracie last- for conformation. Chin nodded.


The silence descended upon the three like a woolen blanket; it settled into discomfort and it was almost hard to breathe. Danny supposed that, now, there was nothing to do but wait for a doctor to come through the door with an expression of relief or pained sympathy. Danny didn't know if the next words he would hear would be of celebration or comfort, but he hoped to hell that it was the former.

Thinking back on the exhausting day, he was shocked that it had been a little more than twelve hours since it began. Twelve hours ago, he was getting out of a car on the docks with a partner in full health and a daughter that hadn't been taken by a man he'd come to respect. Twelve hours ago the day was quasi- normal. It took half a day for Danny to find himself exactly where he was just months ago, waiting in a godforsaken linoleum and white walled room for some kind of news on a man he'd come to call a true friend.

He glanced over at Chin on one side, who was staring blankly at the white wall in front of him as his eyes narrowed in deep thought, and then turned to his other side to see Kono playing idly with a strand of hair while she bit her lip. Her words sunk into him as he watched lithe fingers slide over strands of silky hair… you ever think he was just looking out for his family? Danny understood in that moment what she was talking about; he too would die for his team without a second thought. He understood why Steve did what he did, and thanked… someone… that the Commander did not get the chance to follow through.

The obnoxious ticking of the clock made Danny's head pound. Each second was made audible in the pressing silence, and each one was like a tiny step closer to an end Danny wasn't sure he was ready for.

He was seconds away from standing up again and bolting outside with a half formed excuse on his lips when his plan was foiled by a man. It wasn't just any man, either; it was a surgeon. A surgeon who wore pale blue scrubs covered in periodic splotches of red that had soaked into the fabric, staining it. This man had bags under his eyes, and his hand shook slightly as he moved to shake all of theirs in quick succession. His face remained impassive, but Danny could do nothing but hope that the doctor was aloof by nature and not because he was the bearer of bad news.

"I assume you are the family of Lt. Commander Steve McGarrett," he said, looking at each of them in turn. They nodded, but said nothing. Danny could fell the tension emanating from the four people in the room as though it someone invisible was beating them violently with it.

A moment passed, and then the doctor spoke.

"He's alive." The first words caused the tension to sink into the ground and out of sight. Kono sagged in relief, and Chin let his lips curve up into a small smile. Danny did very little. All he could think was he's alive in a relieved sort of way; the man who had been trying very hard to kick the bucket for the better part of the day was alive and… not well, but not dead either.

"How bad is it?" He asked, hating that he was the one to pop the question.

"Bad," the doctor replied without preamble. "The poison spread too quickly to counteract without cooling him. One his heart was stopped and he was on bypass, the movement was slower but it still spread fast enough to necessitate going into his chest and removing a lot of blood."

Danny tapped his foot quietly against the floor; he already knew all of this.

"It took us hours," the doctor continued, noting Danny's impatience, "but we managed to remove the poison from his system and replace the lost blood. It's a miracle, but we also didn't have to leave permanent scarring with the incisions because we managed to remove the poison through the wounds the commander had already sustained."

"It doesn't sound so bad, doc," Chin said, eyeing the doctor with his penetrating gaze, "What aren't you telling us?"

The doctor sighed and fidgeted a little with the surgical cap in his hands. Danny noted the man's reluctance to say anything and braced himself for the worst. Was it amputation? Permanent immobility? Would the Commander need a transplant?

"The poison began to break down bone and blood tissue and basically everything in its path the second it entered Commander McGarrett's body. Luckily the major organs and larger arteries sustained no lasting damage… the extremities weren't so lucky."

"You said you removed all the poison."

"We did. We just didn't do it fast enough."

Kono's eyes filled with water, and a great big drop leaked out. "Did he lose a limb?" She asked shakily, thinking- as they all were- that such a thing would end the Commander's career and, by extension, life.

"God no!" The doctor replied, surprised. "It wasn't so serious. The poison did, however, eat away at several small but vital arteries in the Commander's body… You are going to see lasting damage from this incident."

"Like what?" Danny asked, beginning to become agitated at the doctor before him.

"His left hand in particular was affected- the poison destroyed the major vein in the wrist. Commander McGarrett will experience fluctuating numbness from insufficient blood flow. Beyond that, the poison infected a very small vein in the spinal chord, one that controls the release of certain chemicals into the brain. Because the vein no longer functions properly, the Commander's brain will be flooded with either too much or too little of the chemicals he need. In short, expect chronic, very severe migraines."

"What if he already has migraines?" Danny asked. Kono gave him a sideways look of surprise, but Chin just nodded in affirmation.

"There going to be a hundred times worse."

"All the time?"

"I can't say, but honestly I doubt it. The body will rejuvenate, and in time there's a chance of a complete recovery. Just don't expect it in the near future."

There was a long pause after this as the teammates waited for more and the doctor waited for Five-0 to say something, too.

"That's it?" Chin asked. The doctor looked taken aback.

"Yes. That's it."

Danny couldn't help it; he burst out laughing so hard that tears came to his eyes. Kono giggled, too, and Chin grinned like a Cheshire cat.

"Find something amusing about the Commander's suffering?" The doctor asked, annoyed. Danny calmed down and wiped a tear from his eye.

"Sorry doc. It's just- well- you don't know him very well. Steve McGarrett walked through the jungle on a leg with a crushed femur. He's a smartass even when he's been shot, and he thinks a nice taser to then neck is an appropriate way to start the morning off right. Some numbness and horrific headaches? McGarrett will think it's more amusing than we did. Trust me, he's going to suffer in silence if he has to and still be a BAMF at work the second you let him out of this hospital. It's going to be MY problem to deal with this, not his."

The doctor looked Danny up and down. "You seem fond of him."

"He's a crazy, self sacrificing, reckless SEAL maniac, but he's also a good man. He saved my daughter's life today, doc."

"You sure about this? You sure he's going to just get up and walk out of here? Injuries like this can cause a huge psychological toll on patients, especially those who have experienced ones like it before."

Kono smirked at the man, and he seemed to sweat a little under its intensity.

"Trust us, doc. We know the guy."

The good doctor let the team in to see their commander even though visiting hours had long since passed. With Chin in the lead, they filed into Steve's quiet room. As he passed over the threshold, Danny felt a wave of déjà vu wash over him; a few short months ago he was doing much the same thing when another mission much like the one that day ended with a bullet lodged in Steve's chest.

Danny shook it off and continued into the room. Much like the last time, Steve was uncomfortably still and… not himself. He was pale, and looked deathly as he lay on the hospital bed, completely unmoving. Danny had to rely on the machines to tell him that his partner was alive; the constant beep was the only affirmation of a heartbeat that, until a short time ago, didn't even exist.

Bandages were wrapped around Steve's otherwise uncovered torso, but someone had been decent enough to find the unconscious man a pair of scrub pants. Danny was eternally grateful; Steve would bitch about having to wear a gown.

The cut on the Commander's forehead was stitched and the bruise around it stuck out against his pale face but was lost in his dark hair. Danny was relieved to see that Steve was breathing on his own, and had no more assistance than a nasal canal. He chanced a look at his partner's left hand, and noted that it was already almost white from bad circulation. It seems Kono's thoughts paralleled his own, because she gave him a nod and sat down at the seat next to the bed to massage the appendage.

Danny joined Chin on the couch under the window. No words were exchanged for the moment, as all three of them watched in contented silence with thoughts of recovery.

Finally, Kono sighed and turned to face her teammates.

"What?" Chin asked her with concern.

"Do you really think he'll be alright?" She asked, sounding uncertain. "I mean, we told the doctor that he would bounce right back even considering the chronic injuries, but I'm starting to second guess myself."

Danny hated to admit that he felt the exact same way. He had laughed at the idea of Steve being permanently damaged by this mission, but the harsh reality was that he laughed only because the idea of Steve not coming back to work was ludicrous. The idea of Steve being anything but intensely trigger happy and constantly in action was disturbing in its own right. But he still knew that Steve be the exact same as he was before, even if- god forbid- he was constantly in pain from blinding headaches or a useless left hand.

"He's going to be okay, Kono, because he has to be," Danny replied as he placed a hand gently on her knee. "Even if he is in terrible pain, we won't ever know about it. He's going to be okay and he's going to come back to work as soon as he possibly can because this is all he knows how to do. He'll keep doing it no matter the lack of feeling in his hand or a horrible headache, because that's who he is."

Kono's shoulders relaxed at the thought, but her face instead morphed into a knowing smile.

"The doc was right; you are fond of your crazy ass maniacal partner, Danny." Chin smirked at his cousin's words.

Danny merely shrugged. "He do nothing but annoy the hell out of me as soon as he wakes up," he assured them, his words unconvincing even in his own ears, "but right now all I can think about is how he saved Grace's life. I owe him everything."

The cousins nodded in understanding. Silence descended once more, but it lasted only for a few seconds before Danny remembered and jumped up from the couch.

"Where are you going?" Chin asked.

"To see the governor," Danny replied, still moving determinedly to the door. "She needs to know about the case. And she needs to know that Steve is no longer available for random, dangerous black ops missions. Or working the other side. Or anything that could possibly end up with him pretending to be a criminal. OR- hell- anything that involves orders to kill shady people from the U.S. government. You know what? I'm just going to ask her to deflect everything that comes from the U.S. government to another super ninja SEAL who is ready and willing to die for god and country. Like Nick Taylor. I'll just ask her to find a whole slew of Nick Taylors to come and do any mission Steve would otherwise be responsible for."

"You know Nick Taylor betrayed his county and sabotaged the mission, right?" Chin asked.

"Not my problem," Danny replied.

"Steve's going to bitch."

"Also not my problem."

"How is that not your problem?"

"He's unconscious."

Danny winked at Chin, turned on his heel, and marched swiftly out of the room.

The governor was less than thrilled that this was the first anyone had contacted her about the mission. She complained loudly about a general lack of respect for authority. When Danny told her that Steve was in the hospital barely clinging to life, she at first exploded, but quickly cooled off and told Danny she was very sorry and that she would come by as soon as she possibly could.

With that part over, Danny asked the woman as nicely as possibly to stop agreeing to let the US give missions to a SEAL in the reserves. He'd refrained from the rest of it only because the woman had readily agreed the moment he'd suggested the idea. She believed, as Danny did, that Steve was a danger to himself whenever he worked the other side.

Well that was easy, he thought as he made his way back to his apartment, I barely had to say anything.

It was well after nine by the time Danny got back to his apartment, and the long day was finally catching up with him, sapping him of his adrenaline and leaving him utterly exhausted. He had to drag his feet through the door and he practically fell into the couch the moment it entered his line of sight. He knew he should go back to the hospital. He knew he should go back and be there for his partner. But he was just so tired.

He let his eyes close, thinking to himself that it was just for a moment. Just a moment. The world fell away as he sunk into a restful oblivion. But it was just for a moment…

Ring. Ring. RIIIIIINNNNNG! The blaring sound of the cell phone next to his ear made Danny jerk awake. He sat up quickly, but regretted it a second later when his aching neck protested. Working out the kinks, he fished around for the phone he'd knocked away from him in annoyance. Finally finding it wedged between two cushions, he answered as politely as he could.

"Yeah?" His voice was scratchy from disuse and grouchy from a lack of sleep.

"Morning sunshine," Chin said, his voice much more pleasant.

Morning? Danny looked around to find that, indeed, sunshine was filtering through his thin curtains.

"Damn. What time is it?"

"Nine thirty," Chin replied, sounding bemused.

"Wow. I slept for twelve hours. That's impressive."

"No kidding. What cop sleeps that long? Anyway, Kono and I spent the night with your partner while you slept in your own bed, so we're calling to demand to be relieved of our duties for the morning. The doc said Steve won't wake up until evening at the earliest, so we figured he'd be okay if we left him alone for a few hours."

Danny laughed despite the lingering grouchiness. "For the record," he replied, "I slept on the couch. But I commend you guys for your resilience. Go ahead and head home. I'll get cleaned up and head over there myself as soon as possible."

"Thanks brah, we appreciate it."

"Course. I honestly don't think Steve will miss you."

"Speaking of Steve not being aware of things we do for him while he's unconscious in the hospital, how did the meeting with the governor go?"

Danny allowed himself a slightly feral grin. "Good. She's in full accordance of the plan. Steve is officially, I hope, off the hook."

"Good. I don't think quarterly trips to the hospital are good for his health. Or ours."

"No kidding. If it happens again, I'm going to follow him into the afterlife and beat him senseless with a copy of The SEAL's guide to survival." With that, he bid Chin adieu and hung up.

It took him half an hour to make it back to the hospital, but he could have taken two hours and it wouldn't have made a difference. Steve was still out cold.

Steeling himself in for a long afternoon, he put his feet up on the edge of Steve's bed and commandeered the TV remote (Steve wouldn't need it) to try and find some kind of sports nourishment to sustain him. He struck gold when he stumbled upon a Yankee- Red Sox game, top of the second, with no outs and Yankees up by two runs already. Smiling contentedly to himself, even if it wasn't his home team, he settled in.

He'd made it well into the afternoon watching the game and the post- game discussions, and wasn't disturbed by anyone other than a nurse who came to check Steve's monitors and change his IV. Finally, though, his rumbling stomach and rather full bladder necessitated a leave of absence from the bedside.

Standing and stretching out his stiff legs, he patted Steve on the arm and said, "Don't wake up while I'm gone. That's really going to piss me off." Checking his watch and noting that it was already five- well into the estimated time of Steve's return to the world of the living- he vowed to make his expedition quick, and hurried out of the room.

He felt like lead. Like his body was made of metal and he sat at the bottom of the ocean while the pressure of the water pressed relentlessly against him. He wanted to move, but every attempt was thwarted by the pressure of the sea. He was in no pain, but the deep water was quite enough discomfort; it was smothering him.

Disjointed voices floated around him through the water. Laughing voices. Concerned voices. The moved in and out of earshot as though they were riding on the waves above where he lay in this oppressive hell.

He wanted to join them. To break the surface of the water and float, as they surely were. But he could not.

The voices he was sure he wanted to be with began to fade away entirely until there was nothing but the silence the sea around him to keep him company. He felt lost to the world above him.

A pinprick of pain. Just behind the eyes. And then a pounding in his head. And an ache in his chest.

No, no. This should not be happening. He shouldn't be in pain. There was no pain here.

But there it was; the terrible ache spread throughout his body until he could not take it any longer. He felt himself rising to the surface, closer and closer…

Steve thought he would resurface with a great, shuddering gasp for air. But, as it turns out, most of that energy was used to crack open his heavy eyelids. After a considerable effort, he managed to pry them to at least half mast and blink once or twice.

"Aah, Commander. So glad you could join me. I was worried reducing your morphine so much would leave you in too much pain to function." The voice was so unlike the others he had been hearing; it was sinister and cold. Steve's mind worked overtime as he fought to remember why he was in the hospital, for the smell of antiseptic and the feel of death was a dead giveaway. Morphine circulating in his system left him feeling very silly, as though he was floating on a cloud. He worked very hard to think about how he came to be there.

I was on a mission. The docks… Danno… Grace… a sharpshooter. And then poison. Oh, yeah. That.

The events leading up to that moment fell gently into place in his mind. He remembered fighting on the docks, and hiding the poison from Danny. And then he remembered sitting down. But everything else after that was nothing more than a foggy, painfully indistinct jumble of colors and sounds. He was surprised by his memory, especially since he could feel the slowing, hazy effects of the pain meds still in his system. It made him loopy.

Oh, yeah. The voice. The sinister one. Steve tried to sit up, but found that exceedingly difficult when he couldn't feel his left hand, and a blinding pain shot through his right side.

"Easy there, Commander. Wouldn't want you to hurt yourself." The voice sounded bemused, but Steve still had no face to place it with.

Finally managing to sit up at least partially, ignoring the pain in his side, the odd numbness in his hand, and the first signs of sensitivity to light, he looked upon his visitor. The man was seedy looking, with slicked back hair and a sneer plastered across his face. He was dressed like a gangbanger. He was a gangbanger. Steve caught sight of the tattoo on his left arm that screamed Asesino. His mind tried to tell him what that meant, but the drugs were slowing him down.

What was an Asesino doing in his hospital room?...

Oh yeah. He'd killed their leader. Two of them.

Even as he felt residual pain medication slow him down and leave him feeling like a strung out college kid, he understood that much.

Steve was well aware that, sitting in a hospital bed sporting nothing but scrub pants and a very fashionable IV, tweaked out on meds, and very weak to boot, he was at quite a disadvantage.

"What do you want?" He asked, making his best attempt at menacing and cringing internally when the words lacked any real power. He couldn't help but notice just how alone he was in his hospital room. Where were the voices he'd been hearing? Where was his team?

The man laughed. "I am just here to give you a message from my new boss," he replied.

"Well, that sounds ominous," Steve said with a lackluster air. So many people had tried to kill him up to that point, so what was one more, really?

The seedy looking man gave another dry chuckle as he fished around in his pockets for something. "I like you, Commander," he said. "It's really a shame that I'm going to have to kill you."

Steve waved him off noncommittally, even as the clear part of his mind told him that it was the drugs that made him do it. "Nah," he said to the man, "you wouldn't have like me at full health. I'm not nearly as pleasant."

"That's really too bad," the Asesino replied. With a flourish he produced a wicked looking, standard issue military grade gun. It was sleek and shiny, and Steve couldn't help but admire it.

"You know," he said, "I think I have one just like that." He cocked his head, looking at the item.

"Do you now? Do you know you're going to die from one, as well?"

Steve just shrugged a little. "It makes sense. I am in the military after all."

The man gave a last laugh and pointed the gun at Steve. Steve himself knew he ought to feel frightened or angry or something, but all he could feel was the pain in his side and the high from the residual drugs.

"Steve?" Both patient and mercenary turned toward the door. Danny stood on the threshold with a gun just like the Asesino's, and this one was pointed at the man in question much like his was aimed at Steve. The Commander felt an oddly timed surge of delight at the sight of his partner.

"Danno!" He cried, smiling brightly. Danny gave him an odd look, but did not move his gun from the other man.

"What do you want?" Danny sneered.

"I already asked, Danno. He's supposed to kill me." Steve frowned, his mind processing the words. "Come to think of it, I think I'm supposed to be freaked out about it."

Danny rolled his eyes at his partner. "How high are you right now?"

"Um… Pretty high I think. I would feel better if this guy hadn't reduced the morphine." Steve stuck his tongue out at the gangbanger. Danny chuckled a little.

"Look, whoever the hell you are," he said to the other gunman, "I've tried really hard to keep this man alive for the last two days. I would be very unhappy if he died now. So I have no qualms about killing you right here in this hospital. Put down your gun, slowly, and I won't have to splatter your brains all over my friend here."

The man looked uncertain about his position. Steve thought it was probably time to pipe up.

"I would do it," he said, giving the man a very concerned look. "Danny never goes back on a promise, you know. It won't end well."

The man hesitated just a little, and then began to lower his gun. Danny moved in at the first sight of the man's surrender and had him on the ground in seconds.

Steve couldn't help it. He gave the man on the floor a dispassionate look and said, "Book 'em, Danno."

"I'm only letting you off the hook because you're strung out," Danny said, glaring lightly. Steve grinned.

Hauling the man upright and leading him out the door, he turned to Steve And said, "Stay," with discernible authority.

Steve gave Danny a smirk. "Where am I going to go?"

By the time Danny handed the gunman off to HPD and returned to Steve's room, the man had been alone for more than an hour. Luckily, he'd fallen back asleep and had been unable to cause more damage to himself.

Danny had been sitting down for less than a minute before Steve let out a groan and blinked awake.

"Good morning sunshine," Danny said, echoing Chin's words.

"It's night."

"I see you're less cheery than when I left." Danny wanted to laugh at his partner's grumpy looking face.

"The doc took me off morphine completely. He said it was better for my body that way."

Danny perked up. "The doctor came by?" He asked. "What else did he say?"

"That I was lucky to be alive. That the poison ate away at important arteries. That my left hand is going to be messed up and I'm going to have horrible migraines from now own."

Danny nodded in understanding. "How are you holding up?"

Steve sighed and glanced down at his almost white left hand. He shook it out and Danny was pleased when a little color came back. "I'm fine," Steve said, "all things considered."

"Well… that's good to hear because we were worried there for a while. That you weren't going to bounce back. I was worried."

"That's so sweet of you Danno."

"Shut up, I'm being serious." Steve sobered. "You were going to let yourself die, McGarrett. You were all set to send my on my merry way and die on your own. Why the hell would you think that would be okay?"

Steve gave Danny a long look, as though scrutinizing the man. "You did really well today, Danny."

"You're avoiding the subject."

"No, I'm just stating fact." He paused. "I-I didn't tell you because I knew- or at least I thought at the time- that there was nothing you could do. I didn't want you to have to be a part of that."

"So you though it would be better to wander off alone and die?"

"In all fairness, I wouldn't have gone very far."

"Clearly." Danny gave a disgruntled sound and glared at his partner. "You are ridiculous, you know that?"

"I beg to differ."

"Of course you do. I don't much care, though, because from now on someone else is going to take over all of your secret spy-"

"I'm not a spy."

"You're right. Spies don't get the shit kicked out of them nearly as much."

"I'm hurt."

"Quit changing the subject. Someone else can do it, Steve. Someone who doesn't insist on putting every other life before their own."

Steve eyed Danny warily. "I'm pretty sure we all do that. It's written in the handbook."

"You're funny."

"What can I say, it's a gift." Steve stopped and sat up slightly. His right hand fluttered to his head and he closed his eyes very tightly. Danny knew what was happening; it was the first of many migraines to come for his partner.

"You okay?"

Steve nodded.

"Bullshit." Danny quickly made his way to the wall and turned the lights off before hitting the call button next to the switch.

"Thanks," Steve offered, eyes still closed. A nurse entered the room and jabbed a needle into his IV, and he relaxed.

Danny patted his leg and sat back down.

"Anytime, buddy."

Steve knew what was coming. He always knew. There was the first pinprick of pain behind his eyes, and then the telltale nausea. Soon most light would feel like he was being stabbed in the cornea and his head would begin to pound like crazy. He knew it. And he knew it because it happened almost every day.

He sat back in his chair and put his hands over his eyes, annoyed. Even after a month and a half, the migraines had no signs of stopping. Even after he'd been out of the hospital for five weeks and back at work for four, his head still pounded almost daily. It was very annoying.

The upside, of course, was that- apart from that and residual numbness in his left hand- he was completely healed. His right side had long since stopped aching- though it scarred prettily nastily- and he was back to work fully.

But, of course, that didn't stop him from having those damn headaches almost every day like clockwork. Most days he'd be at home when they hit and he could just sleep it off, but today they'd wrapped up a big case and the paperwork had been immense. He hadn't realized it was so late until his head began to feel like it was being assaulted by a jackknife.

Suddenly, the lights turned off and the terrible jabbing lessened. Steve didn't have to open his eyes.

"You okay?"


"Bullshit." Danny's voice drifted closer until he was sure the other man was standing right next to him. A bottle and two pills were pressed into his hand.

"You should lie down," Danny said, and Steve let his partner help move him to the couch.

Once settled in, he cracked his eye to find Danny leaning back precariously in his office chair.

"Don't break that," he said as though chastising a child. Danny rolled his eyes.

"Is it bad?" He asked.


"You are such a liar."

"Can't you just let me pretend?"

Danny laughed a little. The pounding in Steve's head lessened into a dull throb as the drugs kicked in. He let himself relax.


He nodded.

"What languages do you speak?"

Steve opened his eye again and rolled his head to look at Danny incredulously. "What?"

"What? Last time I drugged you, you told me all kinds of good stuff."

"It's Aspirin, Danny, not Vicodin."

"Couldn't hurt to try. Are you going to tell me?"

Steve resisted rolling his eyes only because it hurt.

"Why do you want to know?" He asked.

"Why don't you want to tell me?" Danny shot back quickly, and Steve could hear the smirk. "I already know four of them- Mandarin, Spanish, Russian, and I think you've mastered English at this point."

"Fine. I speak Hawaiian."

"Oh. I probably could have guessed that. What's the other one?"


Danny burst out laughing, and Steve mock- glared at him. "You're telling me that big bad SEAL McGarrett speaks the language of love?"

"Ha ha," Steve replied dryly. Danny wiped a mock tear from his eye.

"Who knew you were such a romantic."

"It makes me seem suave. Trust me, nothing scores more points with the ladies than a little French."

Danny sobered up. "You're right," he offered, frowning at the idea. "Good thing your brass attitude drives them away."

"Says the guy who's his ex wife's bitch."

Danny stuck his tongue out at Steve. Steve moved his foot to the office chair and gave it a slight tap, grinning to himself as Danny overbalanced and toppled over.

"Sometimes I wonder why I saved your life, McGarrett," he said from the ground, rubbing his bruised back. Steve chuckled and closed his eyes again.

"Your life would be so boring without me."


A/N: Thanks for waiting! Trust me, you would have hated the original chapter because, originally, I killed Steve off. I just went back and decided I hated that so I wrote another. Sorry if it was disjointed. And thanks for being such a wonderful audience.