He heard the explosion, felt the truck stop abruptly, but he just couldn't open his eyes or sit up. Even if he could sit up, the man with the foot on the rope attached to him prevented that. That last blow to the head seemed to have done some damage. His head felt like it was splitting open; he was nauseous, his vision blurry. He felt himself floating in and out of the darkness.
He felt the truck start to back up, the shift of his body as it lay on the floor told him that. There was excitement in the voices of his captors. He knew the language, but the pain in his head and body seemed to make his mind numb and unable to catch all the words. He thought he made something out about an ambush.
After a few more minutes – or it could have been hours as he didn't know how long he was in the blackness that time – he felt the truck come to a stop. While in the darkness this time he remembered seeing Jenna being shot just after she'd given him the pin to pick the lock of the chain that hung him from the ceiling. He remembered closing her eyes, taking the silver chain from her neck. At least he'd be able to bring something of her home to her family once he'd found them. Now, it was doubtful that he'd ever make it home. He was losing hope – almost.
He smelled the fire first, the burning of the engine oil, the upholstery of the vehicle; was it this vehicle? He struggled against the muscle and body aches and managed to sit up, but didn't have the strength to move anymore. The change from lying down to sitting almost did him in. He struggled against the pain screaming at him from his bruised abdominal muscles, fought to hold back the vomiting and to cope with the newest wave of dizziness. He looked around as his captors exited the truck, leaving him behind, still bound at the ankles and wrists. He heard the shooting start, the air rushing out of those just outside the truck he was in as the bullets struck them, taking their lives.
He listened to what was going on around him even though he couldn't see it. He thought he heard the familiar sound of American gunfire and yelling. Couldn't be, he thought to himself. He was in the middle of the jungle in North Korea and no one knew where he was. "You've done it to yourself this time, McGarrett," he said to himself.
He tried to move, to get up, but that effort took what little he had left in him. He felt things go dark around him again.
5-0 – 5-0 – 5-0 – 5-0 – 5-0 – 5-0
When he awoke this time, all was quiet. He heard birds chirping from the trees – like it was just another quiet day in the jungle. He could still smell the remaining fire burning. He just stayed still until the new wave of dizziness from his attempt to move passed, his head back against the truck wall, eyes closed, and he remained still.
Suddenly, brightness hit his face. He turned his head toward the light, opened his eyes, wondering what new assault to him was on its way. He squinted, "Danny?" he screamed internally. He must really be losing it, hallucinating. He squeezed his eyes shut, opened them again, expecting the image to be gone. It was still there.
"Steve!" came the shout. "I've got Steve! He's alive," he yelled again before jumping up into the back of the truck and coming toward Steve.
It was Danny! His adrenaline kicked in again, making him more alert. Danny reached him and Steve held his wrists up toward him. His first thought, "Danny? Where's Wo Fat?"
The look on Danny's face at that question, and the response that he could have predicted from his good friend – the familiar "Shut up!" – told him that Wo Fat had slipped away again. The tarp over the back of the truck was lifted again and Steve looked to see Chin and Joe standing there. They looked as shocked to see him as he'd been to see all of them.
Danny helped him to the back end of the truck and Joe and Chin helped him out. He felt his knees buckle, but was caught under both arms and supported by Chin and Joe. "Hang on, Son," Joe encouraged. He regained his footing somewhat, but not without needing continued support from his team. As Danny and Joe changed position, Danny taking over the support of his friend along with Chin, Steve looked around him and saw more men, but his vision was blurry still. He squinted as they came closer and recognized members of SEAL Team 9.
Joe was doing a quick survey of Steve to see if there was anything that needed immediate attention or if they could wait until they'd gotten him to the pick-up zone and helo.
"Damn, Commander, you look like Hell," said SEAL Team 9 Commander Wade Gutches as he gave Steve a clap on the back.
"And you guys have never looked better, Sir," Steve replied gratefully, although the attempt to talk caused considerable pain.
Gutches shot Lt. Commander White a look as he saw Steve's face pale considerably at that attempt to talk. "Let's get you to the pick-up zone," Joe said, finishing his assessment and deciding that Steve could wait until they'd gotten him the hell out of here. The sooner the better.
5-0 – 5-0 – 5-0 – 5-0 – 5-0 – 5-0
Every step seemed to take something out of him, even with the support from Chin and Danny. He felt himself start to pass out a number of times, but felt the additional weight of him as he fought to stay conscious on Danny and Chin being supported without question. Danny and Chin continued to encourage him, telling him they were almost there. It kept him conscious.
Lt. Commander White and Lt. Bradley Jacks – the man he'd rescued from the sky diving incident – led the way, while Commander Gutches and two other SEAL Team 9 members brought up the rear.
As they came toward the end of the trail, Steve looked ahead to see a clearing. At the same time he heard the familiar sound of the helo coming in to pick up the group. His adrenaline soared again as they reached the clearing at the same time the helo put down.
He wondered where the hell they'd gotten their hands on this helo. It looked ancient, but as long as it got them all out of here safely, he didn't care. As he'd almost made it to the helo, the bright sun on his face, causing him to squint, he saw a form coming toward him. As the form reached him, he barely had time to see that it was Agent Weston before she'd thrown her arms around his neck and hugged him so tight he couldn't get any breath in.
Immediately he thought of Kono. Why wasn't she there? Had something happened to her on this mission? As Lori let go and headed back to the front of the helo, Steve looked at Chin. The question was unspoken, but Chin new exactly what Steve wanted to know.
"She's good, Brah," he answered him. "Back at base camp manning the electronics. She's the one that found your convoy," he said, seeing immediate relief in Steve's eyes.
They got Steve into the helo, all climbed aboard and took off from the clearing. Once seated in the helo, Steve had another surge of adrenaline. Commander Gutches and Lt. Commander White saw Steve reaching for something, knowing immediately what he needed. Gutches handed it to Joe, who put the rifle into Steve's hands. He watched as Steve checked the clip and made sure to chamber a round. Danny, Chin and Lori, watched the frantic movements of Steve and saw him immediately relax a little once he had the weapon in his hand. The military men among them knew that Steve needed to have the weapon to get back some of the feeling of control he'd lost while held captive and tortured by Wo Fat.
5-0 – 5-0 – 5-0 – 5-0 – 5-0 – 5-0
After they were away from North Korea and headed toward the nearest U.S. Military base in South Korea, Steve began to relax, the adrenaline wearing off yet again. Joe White felt Steve's involuntary shaking as he leaned back against Joe's legs as he sat on the floor of the helo. Joe looked down to see him fighting to stay conscious.
Joe put a hand firmly on Steve's shoulder as Chin handed him water to try to get him re-hydrated and Danny wrapped him in a blanket to keep the warmth in. Chin ended up having to hold the water bottle to Steve's mouth because his hands were shaking too badly. Lori watched it all from the front seat of the helo. They all knew that Steve's body was going into shock, whether he wanted it to or not. With the immediate threat to life removed, his body started reacting to the torture he'd endured these last couple of days.
Steve gave Danny and Chin a look of thanks for their assistance and began to lose the fight to stay conscious as they were about to land at the US Military Base just over the border in South Korea. They had contacted Kono and she relayed information to the base so that they'd be ready for the team's arrival. Then, she packed up her equipment and used Frank Baffa's old surplus army jeep to get over to the military base and meet the team. She needed to make sure for herself that Steve was okay.
Those closest to Steve in the helo helped to lay him flat on the floor and raised his legs to keep the blood flow toward his heart and head. They put another blanket over him in an attempt to keep his body warmth in. Steve had given up the fight to remain awake and Danny carefully took the gun from his hands. Lt. Jakes had removed his shirt and put it under Steve's head as a cushion.
As the helo touched down, the medical team swarmed Steve, removing him from the helo and placing him on their stretcher. Steve opened his eyes briefly as he was moved and made a half-hearted attempt to sit up.
"It's okay, Commander," came the answer from one of the Corpsmen moving him toward the ambulance. "We've got you, Sir. Just relax," he assured him.
5-0 – 5-0 – 5-0 – 5-0 – 5-0 – 5-0
That was the last Steve remembered until he next woke up in the Infirmary in a soft bed, with clean sheets and the smell of antiseptic all around. He'd undergone a series of examinations, x-rays, blood work and the like all during the two days he'd remained unconscious.
His first sight was of Kono, who was sitting in the chair alongside his bed sipping a cup of coffee as she watched his eyes open.
"Welcome back, Boss," she said with a smile as she stood up to get closer to his side.
He let a weak smile show, although the action made him wince with pain at the split lip that was healing. "Good to be back. What time is it?" he asked.
Kono looked at her watch as Danny, Joe, Chin and Lori had peeked around the curtain at hearing Kono's voice. "It's 0900 hours," she answered. Thinking that he'd simply slept through the night, he took in the sight of the IV that was in his arm, along with the heart monitor that he heard beeping in the background.
Danny chirped in, "You know she means 0900 hours on Saturday, right Big Buy? You've been out for two days, and I might add you had us a little worried," he added.
"Thanks, guys. But, how'd you find me?" he asked, looking at Commander White. "Joe?"
"Jenna Kaye called us from your satellite phone," he answered. "Kono here was able to track it to your general location before we lost the signal again. Once we got here, we were able to pick up unusual movement around the bunker based on satellite information and went from there," he concluded
Steve's face looked solemn. "She's dead. Wo Fat shot her," he told them.
"Yeah, we found her when we were searching the bunker for you," Danny answered, touching Steve's foot at the end of the bed.
The nurse and the doctor made their way into the room, and the team was kicked out while they checked him over.