"Chin's getting some x-rays right now," Kono informed Steve.
"Yeah, but how is he?" Steve wanted to know, perched on the side of the stretcher. There was a long white bandage wrapped around his arm, the arm that had been too slow to get out of the way of that knife, with a whole heck of a lot of stitches beneath the dressing. There was also the lingering ache of a recent injection of an antibiotic in his opposite shoulder, again as punishment for his lack of skill. Steve welcomed the pain as something right and just; if he'd been quicker to take down Hanolo's man in the Kahana Preserves, if he'd just been three minutes faster, they might not be in this mess. Steve wouldn't be sitting on this stretcher, waiting to get sprung. Chin wouldn't be getting pictures of the bruises on his belly and ribs, looking for broken pieces inside. And Danno wouldn't be in the cubicle next door in this emergency department providing entertainment for all of the new interns and residents to practice their newly acquired skills under the supervision of only slightly less new doctors.
"You can't blame yourself, Steve," Kono told him, reading his thoughts. "You did what no one else was able to do: you brought Danny out alive. Takahara and his SWAT team weren't able to do that, and they had a lot more resources."
"Yeah, but I've been trained to do this," Steve tried to say.
"So have they, or don't you know what the designation of 'SWAT' stands for?" Kono stood her ground.
There was no easy come-back to that, so Steve transferred his ire elsewhere. There was a lot of snarling and cursing going on in the room next to his, the room where Danny Williams had been put, and it was getting harder and harder for Steve to sit on the stretcher and listen. It sounded as though someone was trying to perform some sort of procedure on his partner, and that the process was not going well. Steve wanted to go over and shout, 'Get it right, dammit! Call somebody else in if you can't do it!' The only thing keeping him sitting on this stretcher was the fact that he hadn't heard Danno cry out in agony. That, he knew, would send him over the edge, and into the room next door to make them do it right.
Danno hadn't looked good as they shoved him into the ambulance, strapped to a stretcher. The medics hadn't dallied, either, testament to their worry that they might have to breathe for the man before they arrived at the emergency room in order to keep him alive. Steve had wanted to go with them in the ambulance; they declined, citing not enough room. Steve had argued with them until Kono came to their rescue and insisted on carting both Steve and Chin to the hospital in her own car, sirens blaring as loudly as the one from the ambulance and traveling just as fast. They'd arrived directly on the heels of the ambulance and walked in behind the medics and the stretcher with Danny on it.
Still breathing; that was what Steve clung to. To the ex-Navy SEAL with a couple of courses of battlefield medicine under his belt, it was pretty obvious what had happened: the sharp end of a broken rib had punctured a lung, and that made it hard for that lung to inhale air. Somebody needed to do something about it quick. From the sounds emerging from the cubicle next door, Steve wasn't satisfied with their speed.
Kono too looked grim, trying to ignore what was happening and focus on her boss. "Chin will be sore, at the very least, but the doc seemed to think that he could go home as soon as the x-rays were cleared." She trailed off, looking over toward the cubicle next door. More unhappy noises kept coming out, and she was as jumpy as her boss.
A yell finally erupted, and that was the last straw. Steve pushed himself up off the stretcher. "Hey—"
The nurse appeared with Chin in a wheelchair, back from getting his picture taken, and cut off Steve's attack strategy for resolving the problem next door. She also had two sets of papers in her hands along with a couple smaller sets of prescriptions. "All ready," she told them. "We're springing you; go home and take it easy, both of you. No permanent damage to either of you, but you'll each be pretty uncomfortable for the next few days. You've got a designated driver? Good; take these pills and you'll be feeling no pain for the few hours."
Steve scowled, accepting his share of the little white pellets and shoving them down his throat. "How about my partner? Danny Williams?"
"My partner. The cop who came in just ahead of us," Steve pushed. "He wasn't breathing."
The nurse frowned. "Sir, we haven't had a code—any emergencies like that—since noon. Are you sure he came here—oh, you mean the cop."
"Yes, I mean the cop." Steve gritted his teeth, feeling the tension in the pair beside him that matched his own. "The man next door."
Understanding flooded the nurse's face, and she smiled gently. "Sir, your friend has already been cared for, and is currently in the intensive care unit; I took him upstairs myself almost an hour ago. And you don't have to worry; he never stopped breathing. He's doing just fine."
"What?" But they'd seen the workers put Danny next door. "But those noises…those sounds…" Steve jerked his thumb at the cubicle next to them.
She nodded her head. "Yes, sir. I apologize for the distress. That gentleman has some mental health concerns, and he—and the rest of us!—are impatiently waiting for his medications to take effect and calm him down." She handed over the papers and prescriptions. "The ICU is on the second floor."
"Danno! Danno! Can you hear me?"
Yeah, but if I wake up, I'm gonna hurt. Go away, Steve. Bother somebody else, why don't cha?
"Why isn't he responding?"
"The nurse said he wouldn't, remember? Said she gave him some heavy-duty pain-killers."
Good stuff. Helps me to understand why the druggies get hooked.
"He's got a damn hose going into his chest!"
"That's for his lung, Steve."
"I know it's for his lung, Kono. It re-inflates the lung. It just looks…uncomfortable," Steve finished weakly.
"That's not the only hose he's got," Chin observed. "Look at the size of that one underneath the sheets. Can something that big really fit?"
Don't even go there. I don't want to think about that one.
"Three days," Kono said, the words floating airily above Danny. "That's what the docs said. They think he'll be ready to get out in three days."
Three day vacation? I can handle that. Uh…maybe not. They really did jam those hoses in me. Somebody knock me out!
"I think he's waking up. Danno? Danno, can you hear me?"
Yes, I can hear you! Stop shouting in my ear!
"I think he needs more pain meds. Listen to him; he sounds like he's in agony."
I am in agony. You're hurting my ear drums.
"Listen, Danno, they're kicking us out now but we'll be back. Don't go anywhere, hear me? We'll be back."
Not…going…anywhere, Steve. Ummm….drugs nice….
Danny Williams glowered as Steve McGarrett rolled the car to a gentle halt in the driveway. "This is not my place."
"Behold the detective," Steve smirked. "Once again, he deduces the obvious. Where did you think I'd be taking you? Into that shoebox you call a home?"
"Like, that's where my bed is, genius."
"It's also a dump, and it doesn't come with hot and cold running nurses. You'd be alone."
"It is not a dump, and I like being alone. I cherish my alone-ness. You, Steven, you're the one who needs an audience."
"You so do not like being alone. You pick up Grace every chance you get. How alone is that?"
"Which means that my place is not a dump," Danny shot back. "Do you think I'd expose my daughter to anything less than pristine cleanliness?"
"You're not saying anything about being alone," Steve observed. "Look, you were only allowed to leave the hospital because I promised that there would be someone around to take care of you and make sure that you didn't fall over and rip out your stitches. You want me to go back on my word to the doc?" He opened his car door, stretching out long legs to reach the driveway.
"Oh, so now you're worried about your reputation? Why couldn't you be this worried when you were dangling what's his name over a cage full of sharks?"
"You can argue all you want, Danno, but you're staying with me for the next few days, and that's final." Steve had no doubt that he'd win the argument. Danny didn't have the strength for a protracted battle. Steve crossed to the passenger side of his car to open the door for his unwilling guest. "You going to sit there all day, or are you going to come inside?"
"Only because I care about what your neighbors are saying about you." Danny swung his feet out and stood up. "If I started to walk home, they'd talk."
Too fast. Blood drained out of his face, away from the remnants of two black eyes, and he whitened. Danny sagged back against the car. "Crap."
"No, you don't." Steve grabbed him under the arms, holding him upright. "Breathe deep. Hang onto me."
"I don't want to hang onto you. I want to sit down."
"You're going to fall down if you don't listen. Yo, Kono! A little help, here?"
Kono darted out from inside Steve's house to pick up one side of the sagging cop. "Danny, you've got to lose weight. You're heavy."
"It's all muscle, Kono. No fat."
"I don't care if it's a ton of bricks. You're heavy. Pick up your feet," she scolded him, approaching the steps that led into Steve's home. "You can't climb the steps if you don't pick up your feet."
"I could always throw you over my shoulder," Steve suggested.
"Like hell you could." Danny put a little more effort into placing each foot onto the next stair tread, the pair helping him up and into the house.
Okay, so the man's descent to Steve's sofa was little more than a controlled fall. Sweat had beaded out on Danny's forehead, and Steve arranged the man's legs up onto the rest of the cushioning while Kono dragged a pillow over for his head. Danny's contribution to his status consisted of dragging in as much oxygen as he could into his recently re-inflated lung. Steve was satisfied with that; the memory of Danny gasping for breath just a few days ago was still too recent for comfort.
Chin emerged from Steve's kitchen, a tray of drinks in his hands. Danny eyed him suspiciously. "Aren't you supposed to be wearing a sling?"
Chin chuckled. "Dumped it yesterday, bro. I'm headed back to work Monday. You?"
Danny glowered. "I've been hijacked by Super-SEAL," he complained, jerking his thumb at his host. He changed the subject. "So, what's the word on Hanolo?"
Kono grinned; it had been her operation from the beginning, and she was pleased to be able to announce its end. "There's a court date scheduled for about two months from now, but nobody thinks that it's going to happen. Hanolo's lawyer is trying for a plea, and the new prosecutor is arguing to throw the book at him."
Danny raised his eyebrows. "New prosecutor?"
Chin took over. "Wing, the old prosecutor—you remember him?"
"Not really. I was a little busy at the time. Breathing; know what I mean? Takes up a lot of your time."
Chin ignored the interruption. "It was Wing who erased the tape from Hanolo's night club. He came down to the Evidence Room and checked out the tape early in the morning, counting on the fact that Emerson would be too busy to remember everyone who came through. Wing folded quick; seems he was getting into financial difficulties. His law school loans were coming due, and prosecutors don't make all that much. Hanolo has had Wing in his pocket for several months, is what it looks like, but it was all petty stuff, until now. If this hadn't come up, Wing would still be employed and passing information to Hanolo."
"All it took was a magnet," Kono added. "He took the tape to one of the chambers, passed a magnet over the tape, and the evidence was gone. Nobody knew anything; Wing even wiped his fingerprints off the tape before returning it, just so the fake signature wouldn't stand out and give him away." She smiled grimly. "He lied to Judge Hardaway, too. He never told him that you were on the way to the courthouse. He intended to let the judge close the hearing before you ever got there. Hanolo would have walked, and Wing was going to disappear with the bonus that Hanolo promised him."
Chin set the tray of drinks on the table in front of Danny. "Wing's going to plead guilty. He'll be disbarred, too." He handed off a glass of something that looked vaguely like fruit juice and suspiciously healthy. Danny eyed it nervously. "Yeah, bro, it's good for you. Drink up."
Danny's hand shook under the meager weight of the glass, and Steve, fearing the worst for his furniture, took it from him. "Here. Doc say you need to get plenty of fluids." He helped his partner take a long sip, supporting his head. "Better?" Hell, it couldn't be worse. Don't blame you for not wanting your daughter to see you like this; your face is a mess, and you'd scare the bejeebers out of her. Too close, bro. Too close.
"Yeah." Danny breathed deeply, catching his breath. "Not too bad." He tried raising his arms above his head, going for a position of ease—then winced, and put his arms back down. Any movement that pulled at the healing wounds on his partner's back, Steve realized grimly, were going to have to wait.
Danny moved back to the original subject, one that he had a personal interest in. "Hardaway," he remembered. "Judge Hardaway. Did I see what I thought I saw?"
"Yeah." It was a moment that Lt. Commander Steve McGarrett would cherish for many years: the ex-Army Ranger, baseball bat in hand, proving that you could take the boy out of the military, but you couldn't take the military out of the boy. That boded well for Steve's own plans for his future. "Seems that with the budget cuts, they don't always have enough bailiffs to keep order in the court. A baseball bat was Judge Hardaway's solution. Not particularly elegant, but it worked."
"Boy, does it work." Chin rubbed reminiscently at his own midriff, feeling the bruises underneath his tee. "I thought I was gone. No offense, Kono."
"None taken. Those mothers were big."
Danny settled back deeper onto the sofa, trying to ease the irritating pressure on his back. "Two down, one to go. What about Cutler, the little slime with a whip?"
Steve looked uncomfortable. "He's…uh…in the hospital."
"The hospital that I just left, Steven?"
"Uh…yeah. But he was on another floor."
"That makes all the difference." Sarcasm flowed heavily. "I was in intensive care, getting stabbed with hypodermic harpoons, while he was lounging in a pleasant room—"
"Two guards at all times!" Steve protested.
"I wasn't allowed to eat for two days. He, on the other hand—"
"His shoulder was dislocated."
"It was?" Danny brightened. "And how did that happen, Steven?"
"I…uh…It seemed like a good thing to do at the time," Steve confessed.
"It was a very good thing," Danny reassured him. "Wasn't it, Kono?"
"Absolutely," Kono instantly agreed. "We completely wiped out Hanolo's people, and cleaned up some dirty fringe in the D.A.'s office. I hear the governor's going to put an official commendation in for us." She grinned at the three. "This may not be important for you, but I'm just a rookie. I can use all the commendations I can get. Can we do this again?"
Even though Chin had dumped the sling, there was still a bandage covering the bullet hole in his arm. Steve's arm bore a similar white dressing over a slice from a knife. Danny could now see through black eyes where the swelling was gone down, and he used those eyes to stare at his fellow cop. In fact, all three of them stared at her with expressions of disbelief.
It was Steve McGarrett who broke the silence. He leaned over to stage-whisper to his partner.
"And you think I'm an adrenaline junkie?"
Kono leaned back in her chair, putting her feet up in a position of utter ease. "Just taking lessons from my boss, boss."