Spoilers: S1x20, Ma He Kahakai (Shore)
A/N: Many, many thanks to Kristen999 for her beta'ing skills. All the bad bits are completely my fault.
Defects and Merits
We know our friends by their defects rather than by their merits. ~William Somerset Maugham
He closed the car door and then leaned down to look in the window. Chin, behind the wheel, was staring stoically ahead and avoiding eye contact. Kono had successfully fought back tears so far, but her eyes were brimming. He reached in and squeezed her shoulder.
"Let me know if I can help with anything. And take all the time you need," he added. "Family first, yeah?"
Kono flicked a look toward Chin, which Chin ignored. She gave McGarrett a weak smile and sniffed wetly. He dug a handkerchief out of knee pocket and handed it over before stepping back, ceding the space to Danny.
The background noise from the luau drowned out whatever Danny was saying to the cousins. He flexed the fingers of his left hand absently, testing the level of pain from the broken forearm; after more than a day the pain hadn't let up. He'd hoped that a couple beers would dull the ache, but it hadn't worked.
Danny finally stood up, slapping the top of the car in farewell. They watched the red car pull out into traffic before heading deeper into the crowded parking lot to find the Camaro.
"How's the arm?"
"Aches a little," McGarrett replied as he dug the car keys out of a pocket. Danny was already heading around to the passenger side when he called "Heads up!" and tossed the keyring over. They were fielded expertly even as Danny's eyes narrowed suspiciously.
"I get to drive my own car! Seriously, Steve, how much is a little achy? Are you using normal human standards or super-ninja standards? Am I going to get to perform an emergency amputation without anesthetic?" The keys jingled as Danny's hands flashed in a sawing pantomime.
McGarrett contemplated his choices. There was always the entertainment aspect of goading Danny into one of his rants. But that would require more energy than he felt like expending right now. He opted for a little honesty.
"Danny, it's been a really hectic couple of days. I'm tired. I've admitted my arm aches. My bruises have bruises from slamming onto that ledge. And I just realized that, with Chin and Kono off on bereavement, you and I are going to have to handle all of that paperwork that didn't get done prior to the extradition, but needs to be done ASAP to make all the government types happy. No Kono, no rookie to dump the paperwork on."
Waiting in his computer was a bulging file with forms from the US Marshals, the prosecutor's office, the US State Department, the Hong Kong government, and there was a brief for the governor needing to be written. It was going to take days with just the two of them
"Damn," Danny muttered. "Can you even type with that cast?"
"My fingers aren't broken."
"Ah! But the finger bones are connected to the arm bones," Danny paraphrased the song, almost singing.
McGarrett stared at him flatly. "How much have you had to drink tonight?"
"Less than you." The car door locks sprang open. "Get in the car."
They were quiet for awhile and McGarrett was able to relax as much as he ever did when someone else was driving. If his feet were involuntarily accelerating and braking on invisible pedals Danny hadn't noticed yet. At least he wasn't white knuckling the chicken bar.
"Exactly how bad is that arm hurting?"
The abrupt question jerked him out of the semi-stupor he'd fallen into. He gazed across at Danny in confusion. "What? Why are you asking that again?"
"Because you're holding the thing like it's an IED that'll blow up if jostled," Danny snapped, both hands coming off the wheel to demonstrate the explosion before slapping back into place. "And you hiss every time we hit a bump in the road."
"Do not," he said automatically, glancing down. He was sort of cradling the casted appendage. A heavy throb had joined the ever-present ache.
"Do, too. You should take one of those pills the doc prescribed."
McGarrett stared out the window.
"Do you have them with you?"
He cleared his throat and continued contemplating the dark landscape.
Danny sighed impatiently. "You did get the scrip filled, didn't you?"
"I'll take some ibuprofen when I get home."
"Question avoidance is never good. Give me your wallet."
"What do you - ?"
"I saw you putting the care instruction sheets, to which your prescription was stapled, into your wallet. And I know you have your wallet because you actually paid for drinks tonight, miracle of miracles. We're gonna stop and get you some good drugs. And you will take one and have a good night's sleep. You know, Steven, the doctors prescribe these things for a reason. I know you're Super-SEAL and are all kinds of stoic, but this is ridiculous."
"Danny, it's almost one o'clock in the morning; all the pharmacies are closed this time of night," McGarrett pointed out tiredly. He pushed the heel of his hand against his forehead. No concussion from being slammed in the head with a small boulder, but he couldn't escape the headache.
"Damn it." Fingers drummed impatiently on the steering wheel as Danny glared out the windscreen.
"I promise, if it's still hurts this much in the morning I'll stop on the way into the office and get it filled. I'll take ibuprofen tonight, elevate it. It'll probably be fine when I wake up."
"I'm picking you up and we will stop at a pharmacy," Danny said, making it sound like a threat.
McGarrett stared up at the dark ceiling of his bedroom. He was flat on his back, all the pillows being used to prop up the arm and keep it above heart level. The throbbing had eased, but the ibuprofen had barely put a dent in the remaining pain. He supposed it had been long enough that he could take a couple more, but if he got up now he might as well admit that he wasn't going to get any sleep tonight and stay up.
Being in the military had taught him to sleep anywhere and under the most miserable conditions. On one memorable occasion he'd fallen asleep standing up while stuck on a crowded elevator during a power outage. He'd simply leaned his shoulders against the wall, crossed his arms and lights out. He'd just gotten back from a mission and hadn't slept in seventy-two hours, so it had been easy. Now, tonight, every time he started to drift off he'd move the arm and the pain would ratchet up. Which was why, an hour ago, he had used every pillow in the room to build a fortress around the limb. It wasn't moving now, but he wasn't falling asleep, either.
Ten minutes later he admitted defeat and sat up on the edge of the bed with a disgusted grunt. The first blush of dawn was visible out on the horizon and he watched it for a few moments through bleary eyes. Eventually he pushed to his feet and ambled into the bathroom. Danny would be there in a couple hours, might as well get ready for work.
As soon as the injured arm dropped below heart level the throbbing returned.
The morning ablutions took longer than normal, of course. He might be right-handed, but there were a surprising number of things the non-dominant hand was used for.
It took almost twenty minutes to get the cast water-proofed. The plastic wrap, and then the bag, constantly slipped out of place when he tried to wrap tape around the arm to hold them in place. Only sheer stubbornness kept him at it. When it was finally done to his satisfaction, he climbed into a hot shower and let the water pour over his head and stiff muscles for five luxurious minutes before reaching for the shampoo.
Getting the toothpaste on his toothbrush was irritatingly difficult, the fingers of his left hand being uncooperative. Outside of the pain that stabbed up the arm every time he moved the fingers, they looked swollen when he compared them to his right hand. He promised himself he'd do a better job of keeping the arm elevated and squirted a blob of toothpaste directly into his mouth. It felt a little disappointing, dental hygiene-wise, but it got the job done.
By the time he was dressed he was ready to amputate the arm all by himself. On top of the pain, the cast caught on everything. He had to carefully ease the t-shirt over the rough texture of the fiberglass and then wiggle his head and other arm into their proper holes; the button-up shirt was even more annoying. He didn't even want to think about the struggle with his fly. And his usual boots were out of the question; he dug an old pair of slip-on deck shoes out of the back of his closet.
Already exhausted, he started a pot of coffee and lay down on the couch to wait for Danny. He braced the injured arm between the couch back and his side, sticking straight up in the air. The pain backed off enough that he was able to drop into a light stupor; not quite asleep, but relaxing enough.
"I'm beat! Is there any coffee in this place?"
McGarrett jerked upright and the cast slammed into the carved wood on the back of the couch.
Tears of pain squeezed out from beneath his tightly closed eyes, and he kept the air blue with his mumbled curses as he cradled his arm. His voice slowly rose as his eyes shot open and he glared at a stunned looking Danny.
"…once knock on the fucking door!" He finished at full bellow before flopping back on the couch.
There was a moment of silence.
"I did knock," Danny said mildly before heading into the kitchen. "And you look like crap. Did you sleep at all?"
McGarrett swiped at the sweat and tears dampening his face and sat up again. His shirt was clinging to his back.
"You know," Danny called from the other room, "if that was an example of someone 'swearing like a sailor,' I'm not surprised it made the cliché list. Very impressive."
The aroma of coffee preceded Danny back into the living room, two mugs clutched in his hands and a malasada in his mouth. McGarrett took the one held out to him but put it on the coffee table. His hand was still shaking and the smell was making his gorge rise.
Danny finished biting through the malasada and waved it around as he chewed. "I brought extras if you want one. No? Your loss. It's not like - . What in the hell happened?"
Mug and malasada thumped onto the coffee table and Danny reached for McGarrett's arm. He flinched back, but Danny was surprisingly gentle.
"Christ, your fingers are freezing. How long have they been swollen like this? Never mind." Danny began helping him to his feet. "We're going to the hospital. And I don't want any whining from you."
He wasn't planning to object. He couldn't even pretend he could 'breathe through the pain' anymore. One look at his hand and he knew a couple ibuprofen and elevating the limb wasn't going to help. From looking mildly swollen an hour earlier, his fingers now looked twice their normal size; he couldn't even bend them. He gritted his teeth and headed toward the stairs.
"Where are you going?" Danny snapped.
"Wallet. Badge. Gun," he said, pointing up.
"I'll get 'em. You start heading toward the car."
They were in the car and roaring away within two minutes. Danny wanted to run the siren, but settled for just the lights. They were at King's Medical Center within ten minutes. There was a refreshing little argument when Danny tried to park in one of the spots clearly marked for emergency vehicles ("Thisisapolicecar,Steven;ofcourseit'sanemergencyvehicle!" "Notthatkindofemergency,Danno."), and ended up walking in from the parking garage.
McGarrett let Danny handle the check-in process. Watching the guy tear strips off of the emergency room personnel was rather calming and took his mind off of the pain stabbing up his arm. Not that Danny in full vitriol was really needed. The triage nurse took one look at his arm and shuffled him into an exam cubicle.
"I'm sorry," the nurse said, glaring as Danny followed them into the curtained area, "but only family is allowed – "
"You can – "
"Actually," McGarrett broke in before it got too ugly, "Detective Williams has my medical power of attorney; I'd like him to be here."
The nurse looked disappointed, but took his vitals without further comment. She then helped him out of his shirt and into a hospital gown before disappearing behind the curtain wall.
He sat on the edge of the exam bed, absently cradling his arm against his chest.
"I have your power of attorney?" Danny asked, looking around for somewhere to sit, settling on a wheeled stool. "Does this mean I get to handle your checkbook?"
"Not officially and only if I'm disabled. I have the paperwork ready, but we need to go to a notary public. That is, if you don't mind?"
"I don't mind, but shouldn't it be family; shouldn't it be Mary?" Danny asked quietly.
"Mary's not here. And she can be unre-, she can be hard to find." McGarrett grimaced; sweat dripping down his back as he tried to ride out the pain. His voice roughtened. "I'd rather have someone who's close by, who I see every day. A friend. Someone I think of as family."
There was moment of silence.
"I'll try not to abuse the privilege," Danny promised finally.
"See that you don't," he said, mustering up a smile.
They were quiet for a few minutes, and then Danny started pacing around the small enclosure and telling stories about perps and emergency rooms back in Jersey. They were all amusing and he tried to be distracted but after twenty minutes he had to admit defeat.
"Danny," he interrupted a story about an addict who'd tried to hide a crack pipe in a place crack pipes should never go, "would you go get the nurse or a doctor or somebody who'll cut off this arm for me, before I take out my knife and do it myself?"
Luckily for the rest of the hospital a doctor was already on the other side of the curtain when Danny whipped it back.
"No need to go shoutin' yourself hoarse, young man," she snapped out cheerfully as she pushed a laden trolley into the exam area. "I'm Dr. Branson. Sorry to have taken so long, had to grab a few things; but I'm here now. Make yourself useful and plug this in behind the bed."
She tossed a power cord to Danny and then turned to McGarrett. She put down the computer tablet she'd been consulting and picked up his arm.
"So, Commander McGarrett, quite an extensive medical history here. Don't suppose there are stories attached?" she asked, smiling wryly when he shook his head. "The current history says you're not on any meds," she murmured as she manipulated his fingers, 'hmmm-ing' when he hissed with pain. "Not even the ones you were prescribed for pain two days ago? Anything OTC?"
"No, ma'am. Well, a couple ibuprofen last night."
She peered at him disapprovingly over the top of her bifocals. McGarrett resisted the urge to squirm like a kid.
"Have you been keeping it elevated at all? A little? Hmm."
"He used it to subdue a suspect the first night after it happened," Danny volunteered.
"I didn't hit him with this arm, Danny. I just grabbed his gun hand," McGarrett snapped.
Branson pushed her salt-and-pepper bangs back from her face. "Well, if my suspicions are correct, you'll have a few days to contemplate the importance of following doctor's orders."
"Why? What do you think's wrong, Doc?" Danny asked before McGarrett could get in a word.
"Let's get the cast off and run a couple more tests first." She picked up the saw Danny had plugged in for her and tested it absently against the palm of her hand. Both men flinched when the spinning blade hit flesh – and stopped spinning. "Love doing that," she chuckled as she pulled up a stool and moved McGarrett's arm into position. "Okay. Just hold it there."
A few minutes later the two pieces of fiberglass casting were pulled away to reveal the darkly bruised and swollen forearm.
"Jesus, Steve." Danny leaned back, looking a bit nauseous. "That looks worse than when you originally broke it."
McGarrett grimaced. "Thanks for the cheerful encouragement, partner. Doc? What's that for?" he asked, indicating a mysterious box covered with dials and readouts.
"That," she said, lifting his forearm gently before swabbing the area with an alcohol pad, "is going to measure the pressure in your muscles here. Hold still. This is going to numb the area."
"And why do we want to do that? Measure the pressure, I mean; not the holding still part," Danny asked, watching with a rather horrified expression as the hypodermic needle slipped into the swollen flesh.
"Well," she said, stripping the sterile wrap off a needle she then screwed to the end of a thin tube, which in turn was attached to the pressure meter, "I believe your friend is experiencing what we call compartment syndrome."
"The crush syndrome thingie?" Danny asked skeptically. "Steve didn't have anything heavy holding down the arm. He's heavier than he looks, but he just fell on it."
"You know what she's talking about?" McGarrett interrupted before the doctor could respond.
"I can know things!"
"I'm not saying you can't!"
"Sure sounded like it from here!"
"How long have you two been married?" the doctor broke in, exasperated.
The two men exchanged confused looks.
"Why do people keep asking us that?"
"I've no idea."
"So what is compartment syndrome?"
"My rookie year we responded to an accident at a construction site. A pallet of mortar mix landed on this guys legs, must have been close to a half ton." Danny grimaced as the doctor inserted the pressure meter's needle into the muscle midway between Steve's wrist and elbow. Looking a little queasy, he picked up the two halves of the discarded cast, absently fitting the pieces together. "Apparently if you're trapped under a heavy load like that for long enough and then released it causes swelling in the muscles that can cut off blood flow and damage nerves."
"And kidney damage and other nasty things if not treated soon enough," Dr. Branson added, removing the needle and turning off the pressure meter. "But I don't think we need to worry about that here, it was caught early. Normal pressure for this we like to see less than 30 mmHg. Yours is over to a significant degree."
McGarrett held up a hand to stop Danny. "So, what do we need to do to fix it?"
"Surgery," she said bluntly, snapping off her gloves and tossing them in the waste basket. "I'm going to give you some material to read, but basically what we have is tissue called fascia which separates the different muscles from each other. Fascia doesn't expand, which is a problem when there is damage to the muscle tissue that causes it to swell. Swelling causes pressure, pressure – if not curtailed – can block blood flow which can damage muscle and nerves.
"To fix it I'm going to perform a fasciotomy. I'll make a surgical cut through the fascia to relieve the pressure. The wound will remain open, allowing the swelling to go down – hopefully no more than forty-eight to seventy-two hours – and then I'll perform another surgery to close it. The arm will have to be splinted during this time, but we should be able to re-cast it a few days after the second surgery. Questions?"
Before McGarrett could respond Danny's hand shot into the air.
"What causes this, if not the crushing thing?"
Dr. Branson looked at McGarrett, then shrugged, amused. "A lot of things, some preventable, some not. The forearm, along with the lower leg, are a popular spot for this. The severe bruising that occurred at the time of the injury may have contributed. Or the cast may have been too tight. Some people are just prone to it. There is a whole list in the material I'll give you. Following doctor's orders couldn't have hurt," she added, staring at McGarrett over her glasses again.
"How about whacking a suspected murderer with your cast?" Danny asked, smiling blandly when McGarrett shot him a you-are-so-dead look.
"Can I go home after the surgery?" McGarrett asked, starting to feel put upon.
"I'd rather you stay in hospital until after the second surgery. I'll want to monitor the pressure and make sure no infection sets in. If all goes well, you should have full use of that arm again. But we want to make sure all goes as well as possible; so, expect to be in the hospital for the next three to five days."
"Excellent." Dr. Branson bounced up from her chair and whipped back the curtain. "The nurse is going to bring you the operation paperwork and your reading material. And a little something to help you relax. You're not allergic to any meds, correct?" she asked, checking the tablet again. "Good. I'm going to go order the operating theater and start scrubbing up. See you in a bit."
Both men were silent, watching the petite figure pushing her trolley out of sight.
Neither man seemed to have anything they wanted to say. The nurse came, bearing reading material, legal papers – which McGarrett signed after actually reading them – and the promised drugs. She chivvied McGarrett out of the rest of his street clothes and stuffed them all into a plastic bag which she bestowed upon Danny, who had spent the time making jokes about hospital gowns. One last check of McGarrett's vitals and then she left them alone again.
McGarrett closed his eyes, enjoying the effect of the fentanyl he'd been given. He could feel himself relaxing, muscle by muscle, as the pain eased; he hadn't been aware that he'd become so tense.
He idly noted that Danny had been silent for several minutes, which was rare. He could hear the other man pacing back and forth at the foot of the bed.
"You looked like death warmed over earlier; still do, really," Danny announced abruptly, sounding annoyed. "Scared the crap out of me."
McGarrett didn't even crack an eyelid. This sounded like Danny letting off steam, which was probably good for his partner's blood pressure.
"Sorry, 'bout that," he murmured
"I should have known you'd have a 'special' broken arm."
McGarrett was confused for a moment, wondering if it was the drugs, and then his brows snapped down in a scowl. "Why do you say that? What does that even mean?"
"I'm sure I don't know, Steven," Danny muttered. Picking up the two halves of the cast, Danny fit them together and then held them up for examination. "I hesitate to bring this up, seeing as how you're already worked up about the surgery and all."
"I'm not the one who's worked up. There's something with the cast? Why would I be concerned about the cast?" McGarrett stretched out his good hand as if to take it, but Danny held it out of reach. "Okay. What are you up to?"
An orderly appeared and unlocked the wheels on the exam bed.
"Me? Nothing." Danny followed as the orderly began pushing the bed down the hallway, turning the cast so that the appropriate area was facing McGarrett. "So, you're not concerned about the cast. Which is a good thing, 'cause that means you're not going to be upset that the doc sawed right through Sandrine's phone number, right?"
"Wakey, wakey, Steven."
"Is that SEAL for 'I'm awake'?"
McGarrett ran his tongue over his teeth, trying to get some moisture back into his mouth, and tried again, "I just need to go to the Hilton."
"What? You think hotel food is better than hospital food? The doctor didn't mention that you'd still be loopy. Are the pain meds really that good?"
He finally opened his eyes, just to glare at his partner, who sounded much too chipper. "Sandrine works at the Hilton. I just need to go back there to get her phone number again. Is there any water?"
Danny grabbed the mug, which was on a table just out of McGarrett's reach, adjusted the bendy straw and held it steady as McGarrett drank.
"Enough? Good. I can't believe you spent all that quality sleep time figuring out how to hook up with that woman. Especially after I gave the cast to Fong to see if he could resurrect the number. He actually sounded a little hopeful," Danny said with a grin. "Anyway, I brought you your jammies, so you won't be stuck with your ass hanging out of the lovely hospital gown. And your shaving stuff and other toiletries. If you have a book or something you want me to bring, I'll start a list."
"Thanks, partner," McGarrett murmured. He fumbled with the bed controls, finally getting the head up to a comfortable position. His head was still a bit woozy, probably a combination of the pain meds and lack of food, but the pain was at a manageable level, so he wasn't going to complain.
"Dr. Branson said to remind you not to use your left arm. Frankly, it wouldn't be something I'd be tempted to do, but knowing you…" Danny smiled innocently when McGarrett glowered.
The arm in question was currently propped up on a couple pillows at his side. It was strapped to a splint, taped only at wrist and elbow. Between was a gauze dressing, covering most of the forearm.
"And that IV is hooked up to the happy juice machine there. Nurse said you can push this button," Danny pointed to the device that had been looped around one of the bed rails, "every fifteen minutes for a squirt of the good drugs. I've been pushing it for you while you've been asleep. No, no, don't thank me."
A tired smile briefly crossed McGarrett's face. "I do thank you. I really appreciate you doing all of this for me. I didn't expect you to stick around here, especially considering…" his voice trailed off.
"Considering what, budd?" Danny asked, leaning forward in concern. "What's up?"
"With me out of commission, and Kono and Chin on bereavement, you're going to have to handle all of that paperwork for the Jordan Rutherford extradition by yourself," McGarrett said, allowing his grin to grow at the slide show of emotions flying across Danny's face.
"Damn it!" Danny finally sputtered, red faced. "I knew you did this on purpose. I can't believe I let myself feel…"
Still smiling, he let his head sink back into the pillow as his eyes closed. And he drifted back to sleep to the familiar and comforting sound of Danny's voice.