A/N Another long delay, but I'm finally back. I apologize for not responding to all the reviews. I read every one of them, and I loved every one of them. (You, guys, are amazingly encouraging, you know that? :-)) And I'm hoping to get better at responding in the future :) Thank you all again! You've been a terrific audience. Hope you like this last installment.

I think most everyone found the scene with Steve jumping onto Wo Fat's boat a bit disconcerting, given his previous injury. I realize that it's been done before, but here's my take on that particular scene. Enjoy.


Chapter 4

The speed boat plowed forward, cutting through the blue expanse, and Steve closed his eyes briefly, relishing in the familiar feel of the wind whipping at his exposed skin, the cold refreshing spray of the ocean against his face. His tongue flicked out to lick the salty water from his lips. "Freedom."

He shook his head in mute wonder, as he thought back to the events of the past few hours that began with the sensation of Victor's shiv slicing through his flesh and ended so swiftly, so anticlimactically in front of Kamekona's shave ice stand. He didn't know what to think of all of this just yet, didn't know how to feel. He didn't allow himself time to process it all: his escape, his father's secret dealings with the Governor, Danny's car-ride confessions.

"Danny." Steve blew out a breath that felt a hell of a lot shakier than he would have liked and forced himself to keep his eyes on the large boat ahead. Danny assured him that he was fine, that there was nothing further to discuss. "Fine, my ass." He knew that look in his partner's eyes; has seen that same look staring back at him in the mirror on more than one occasion. And he trusted Danny's "fine" about as much as he did his own. The man ran himself ragged trying to get him, McGarrett, out of this mess, and now he was suffering the consequences. But then he wasn't the only one. There was Chin with his undeserved guilt over not being there openly for his friends and his ever-growing worry over Kono. And there was Kono herself with the oppressing weight of the IA investigation bearing down on her. His friends sacrificed so much for his sake, for his absolute inability to put a lid on his emotions - something that Danny warned him long ago was going to get him in trouble. He was going to make it up to them, make everything right. He wasn't sure how yet. Hasn't yet figured out the strategy. But he will. He will.

And his first step was going to be getting the bastard responsible for all their pain and heartaches. Now, whether Wo Fat decides to do things the easy way and let them throw him behind bars where he belongs, or whether he decides to take the hard road and go out in the blaze of glory - that would be entirely up to that man. Though Steve couldn't deny that his fingers itched for his sidearm at the mere reminder of the man's name.

The boat loomed before them, and Steve felt his heart thud painfully in his chest at its closeness. This was it. His chance to finally get the man responsible for his parents' murder; the man who took a sledgehammer to the new life he'd built for himself in Hawaii; the man who nearly destroyed his ohana and put him through hell.

A feral grin twisted his lips, as he quickly pulled out his weapon, checking the clip.

"Danny, you ready?"

The reply was in the negative, but he detected a familiar note of sarcasm in Danny's voice, and he took comfort in that. "Maybe things actually could go back to normal?"

"Good. Come on!"

And he jumped, secure in the knowledge that his partner had his back.

The momentum carried him forward, slamming his midsection viciously against the hull. Pain, heretofore relatively dull and inconsequential, roared into the forefront of his consciousness, blinding him to all other sensations. His grip slipped momentarily, nearly causing him to fall back into the choppy waters below. He dug his fingers into the slippery gunwale, pulling for all he was worth, until he heaved himself over the side, plopping awkwardly onto the hard water-spattered deck. Curling in on the raging inferno that was his stomach, he lay dazedly in the very spot where he had fallen, gasping for breath, as he waited for the pain to subside.

He wasn't given much of a chance. The sharp retort of a gun brought him back to his senses, and he slid sideways, gritting his teeth and returning fire even as he felt a bullet splinter the wood beside him.

Another of Wo Fat goons burst through the cabin door, and he spun to face the new threat, cringing at the way his hands shook when he fired. His aim was off, way off. Three shots to take down one guy. "You're slipping, McGarrett."

He pushed himself to his feet, biting back the pain, forcing it deeper into the back of his mind. He succeeded... almost. Up until he realized that Wo Fat wasn't there. After all this time, after being a hair's breadth away from catching the man who haunted his dreams, he found himself vaulted back to square one. Back to nothing. Nothing but a pile of useless dead bodies, dead ends.

A quiet whimper caught his attention, and he whirled back toward the open cabin door, remembering the second goon that he shot. "He knew where Wo Fat was. He had to!" Pulling the guy up by his lapels, he slammed his back against the railing, growling out his frustration.

"Wo Fat! Where is he?"

The man's response shot down any remaining hope, filling him with disappointment and nearly incapacitating despair. He failed. Again.

Steve let go suddenly, letting his hands fall away from the crumpled sweat-covered fabric. Mumbling a weary "Book'em, Danno," he stumbled away from the still-trembling Asian, subconsciously moving closer to the gunwale.

He stood there, staring out into horizon where the bluish gray of the sky lost itself within the overpowering azure of the ocean. His nemesis was somewhere on the other side of all that vast expanse, and that realization brought with it a wave of bitterness that sullied in his mind the normally comforting blue. Now it only served to add further to his internal turmoil, taunting him with its impassive emptiness, cruelly reminding him of the enormity of his defeat.

The dull throbbing in his abdomen became a bother, and he pressed his hand against it, not surprised to feel wetness there. He pulled his hand away, gazing dully at the bright crimson that stained his palm.

"I'm bleeding," he murmured to no one in particular. And then as though this admission had unlatched something within him, unclipped the invisible restraints that have been holding him together and upright, he began to crumble to the floor, like a marionette, whose strings have been cut, no longer having the energy to break his fall.

But instead of the expected jarring impact, there was suddenly a pair of strong, familiar hands underneath him, catching his limp body, cocooning him in their safety.

He looked up blearily, finding himself staring right into the stormy blue of his partner's eyes.

"Let me guess, you're fine, right?" Danny observed sarcastically, his voice thick with poorly disguised worry.

Steve smiled faintly, feeling himself growing weaker with every moment. But even as the light grew dimmer, smothered by a heavy curtain of darkness, he found warmth and comfort in the protective envelope of his friend's embrace. A certainty he hadn't felt before had filled him to the very core, pushing back the crippling despair.

"No, I'm not, Danno," he thought dimly, clinging to the fading remnants of the blurry face above him, "but I will be. We all will be."


This is it. Yes, I meant to leave it here - no hospital scene or any such other recuperation/comfort scenes. Further treatment and recovery at a proper medical facility is to be assumed :)