Here it is the last chapter of 'Mistaken'. I hope you enjoyed reading the story as much as I enjoyed writing it. This story developed such a dynamic and went ways I never anticipated, but I must say it was a fun ride.
Thank you all for your support, your reviews, alerts and private messages. Some of you have pm disabled, so I couldn't thank you personally. But please know that I treasure every single review. I always love to listen to your questions and suggestion. Thank you!
A heartfelt thank you to my two beta readers, who are much more than that, Cokie316 and Sherry57. You are so great. You changed writing into a totally new experience. It's a great pleasure working with you.
Now enough of that stuff and on with the story. I truly hope that you will be satisfied with this ending. If you are and also if you're not, let me know. I really love to hear from you.
Chapter 23 – Little Boy Hell Week
Danny looks out the kitchen window, seeing all his friends there, his real friends. Not former colleagues from way back, but his new family, Ohana, like they call it here. He can't quite fathom that it was just two weeks ago that they almost lost an important part of that family. The part that brought them all together. The part that made life in Hawaii so much better. The part that doesn't make him feel so alone anymore. The part that became his best friend.
It was just this morning that Steve was released from the hospital for the second time in less than two weeks. Danny watches his friend limping back to his chair after playing with Gracie down at the beach. Building a sand castle as he obviously promised her. He's only wearing boardies and a t-shirt, and of course the special boot for his right ankle. They would have cast the leg for a couple of weeks, but the wound needs to be cleaned and bandaged twice a day. So, no cast for Steve, but a stiff boot to help stabilize the bone while it heals. At least he doesn't need the crutches anymore. Danny shudders at the thought that his best friend very nearly ended up in a wheelchair.
"Danny! What's taking you so long?" Chin shouts from the lanai.
"I'm coming. Jeez, hold your horses. Give me a hand here," Danny carries an open cooler with beers and soft drinks in one hand and a container of ice cream in the other. "Gracie, go wash your hands if you want some ice cream. Steve, you want water or juice?"
"I want a beer, but I'll take water. Thank you." Steve takes the offered water bottle from his friend. He can't have any alcohol for another three days, as long as he's on antibiotics.
"Steve, we should clean and bandage the wound before you settle down. Playing in the sand is not exactly the cleanest environment." Malia offers her help caring for the wound.
"Yeah, okay." Steve struggles a little to get back up after just sitting down but manages it on his own and hobbles into the downstairs bathroom, Malia and her supplies hot on his heels.
"So, how is your head, Steve?" Malia asks him after he settled on the closed toilet seat.
"Only hurts a little, it's kind of a constant mild throbbing. But I don't get dizzy anymore and haven't been sick in a few days," Steve tells Malia while watching her opening the fasteners on the boot and carefully removing it.
"That's good. I know a concussion is very annoying and lying in bed is really not your thing. But Steve, you should still take it easy for another week or so. You were very lucky not to get more injured in that fight. That could have had a very different outcome."
"I know. I'll take it easy, I promise." Remebering his time in the hospital, being paralyzed is not a happy thought.
"Okay, this looks dry. Keep it that way, no swimming until the wound is completely closed. Let's see how it looks under the bandage." Malia cuts through the thick gauze and takes it off, revealing a half healed deep wound around the leg, just above the ankle. "Steve, this looks really good. Only this tiny part is not closed yet. It's still oozing a little. It's amazing how fast you're healing. But I bet it still hurts pretty badly."
Steve looks down at the injury with interest, "only when I put weight on it. I think I'm going to use the crutches for the rest of the day."
Malia finishes her work quickly and efficiently, has the ankle wrapped and back in the boot in minutes. "You're good to go. If you like, I could come by tomorrow morning and change it again."
"That's really nice of you, thank you, but it's okay, I can do it."
"You sure? It's no problem." Malia puts her stuff back into the bag from the hospital and disposes of the soiled bandages.
"Yeah, I'm sure." The technical part of caring for the wound is no problem for Steve at all, with his SEAL medical training. It was the concussion that prevented him from bending down the last few days. But his head is a lot better and he's sure to be able to fend for himself again.
"Okay. If you have any trouble, please call me." Malia smiles at him and hopes that he will call if he has any problems. Probably not. Shaking her head slightly she leaves him alone to tend to some business.
Steve watches his friend's wife as she leaves. She had checked on him every day while he was in the hospital. His whole team came by every day, it got to the point that he actually threw them out. One of them was always with him, and after a while it had gotten to be a little too much. It took some persuading, but finally they granted him a few hours alone-time.
After finishing up in the bathroom he rummages around in the hall closet and gets the crutches out he put in there just this morning. His doctor told him it's okay to walk without them, but after a few hours on his feet, his leg hurts and he needs to take the weight off it.
It's not just his injured ankle, but the pulled muscles in his leg are giving him even more trouble than his ankle. Thankfully his elbow is completely healed and using the crutches is no problem at all. He easily makes his way across the study out to the lanai where his friends are waiting for him.
Steve has to smile when he sees that his chair is already 'prepared' for him. A second chair with a soft pillow waits for his leg to be placed on it. Obviously Malia's had a word with his friends.
"Thanks." Steve places his crutches on the ground after he lowers himself into the comfy chair and lets Gracie push the second chair under his elevated leg.
"Uncle Steve would you like some ice cream? It's chocolate." Grace looks at him daring him to say no to her offer.
"Yes, thank you Gracie. Ice cream would be nice." He grins at her and watches her scooping a huge serving into a bowl. "Ah, Gracie, I think you need to help me with that," Steve looks at the mountain of dessert, feeling slightly nauseous thinking about eating all of it.
"I can do that." She takes her spoon and digs right in, much to the amusement of the grown-ups .
"Danny," Steve mumbles through a mouthful of chocolate ice cream. He has no idea what's on his friend's mind.
"I'm still waiting. And I must say very patiently. But patience is running a little thin by now."
That actually makes Steve look up , a bit startled. He has no idea what Danny is talking about. "What?"
"I think I endured your twisted kind of humor and teasing at the hospital really well. Do you have any idea how many 'offers' and looks I got from the male population of the hospital staff ?"
Steve grins at him and puts another spoon of dessert in his mouth. "Nope, should I be jealous?"
"You're just hilarious, Steven. And you guys," Danny's looking at the four women and Chin, "better not be laughing."
"Wouldn't dream of it," Cath says with a straight face while taking the bowl from Steve after he and Grace had polished off the ice cream. She can't quite resist the chocolate covered lips of her friend and steals a kiss.
"Hey, you two. Children present."
"Danno! I'm not a baby. I know what boys and girls do when they love each other. I'm almost ten, Daddy." Gracie sounds almost outraged.
"What boys and… what boys and girls do when they love each other? Where did you learn that?"
Danny can't believe that his sweet little Monkey just rolled her eyes at him.
"You still haven't told me what you're waiting for," Steve feels the need to chime in and 'save' Grace.
"Right. I'm still waiting for the story of your little-boy-hell-week."
"Yeah, 'Oh'. So give!"
"Okay, fine. Do you know what this is about?" Steve looks at his friends, who are shaking their heads. "When I was taken to the hospital, they did some x-rays and saw that I had very old injuries. I had a lot of broken bones from when I was young. And that, well, it made their conclusion how I received those injuries a lot easier." Steve doesn't want to scare Grace, so he's keeping it a little cryptic, but knows that his friends know what he's talking about. "Danny asked me how I got those broken bones."
"Yeah, and he told me a really funny story about blowing his mother's kitchen up."
"I didn't blow anything up, well, okay a little bottle, but not the kitchen. My mom was totally exaggerating."
"I'm sure she was. But that was not how he got injured."
"No, it wasn't. I was grounded for a week for experimenting with 'explosives'," he uses air quotes, "and for taking a book out of my dad's study without permission."
"How old were you?" Cath hasn't heard a lot of stories from his childhood, even though she has known him for quite a long time.
"I had just turned five three months earlier."
"So you got into trouble and were grounded?" Kono looks at her boss and tries to imagine him as a little boy.
"It was a long week. I wasn't allowed to go swimming or visit my friend across the street. And I had to be nice to my baby sister, who started crying every time she saw me." Steve has to smile at the memory of him driving his mother nuts. "I would go to her bed and look in, and as soon as she saw me the wailing started. It was kind of fun actually; I could make her scream without doing anything."
"I bet your mom was thrilled when you made your sister scream." Danny looks at his friend.
"So, what did you do during your week?" Chin looks at his boss, who he has known for so many years now.
McGarrett Home, 1982
Stevie looks at the picture in the Aeronautics book and tries to understand what the text says. One thing he already figured out, his dad had taken out the small book that is normally in the pouch at the end of the big book. Stevie knows it contains all the information he needs to be successful in his endeavor. He needs that little book. And he already knows where it is.
It's on the top shelf of the bookcase in his dad's study. Without that book he can't figure out what he will need to do his experiment safely.
"Stevie! Come down please." His mother calls him from downstairs.
"What now?" he grumbles, but he scrambles off his bed and storms down the stairs.
"No running in the house. Can't you walk down the stairs?" His mom is shaking her head, she can't even guess how often she has told her son. Ever since he began walking, it seems that he's been on the run. That kid has way too much energy. "We need to go to the grocery store, we're out of formula, so put some shoes on." Another thing her son thinks you don't need in Hawaii: shoes.
"But mom, I'm grounded, I'm not allowed to leave the house." He looks at her pleadingly. He can't suspend his project right now.
"We need to do some shopping and I can't leave you here. So, you have to come. Now put some shoes on… and not your hiking boots."
"Mom!" Little Stevie can whine with the best of them and his puppy dog eyes are even better, "Mary will cry the whole time if I go with you. I'm not a baby anymore, mom. I can stay home alone."
"I can't let you stay here alone, Stevie."
"I'll stay in my room and read… nothing else. Please, mom?"
"You will not go into the kitchen, or the garage? You will not use a knife, scissors, or matches? You will not open the door for anyone and you will not go out to the water! Can you promise me that?"
"Yes, mom. No kitchen, no garage, no playing with knives or fire. No beach, no opening the door. I promise. Please mom, can I stay?" Stevie puts on his best pleading look.
Doris McGarrett looks down at her son. She knows that he never breaks a promise and that he's a very clever and reliable person, but he's just five. And she doesn't feel good about leaving him alone in the house even for twenty minutes. On the other hand, he's right, Mary will scream the entire time if he's next to her. "Tell you what, I'll call your dad and tell him you're alone at home and he's to call you in ten minutes for a check in."
"Okay. Then I'll stay in the living room by the phone."
"You do that. Stevie, please promise me you won't do anything stupid." She looks down at her son and hopes she won't regret this.
"I promise, mom."
"Okay, let me give your dad a call. Go get your book."
When Stevie comes back down, of course again in a run, she is ready to go. "I'll be back really soon, and your dad will call you in ten minutes. Lock the door behind me."
His mom is not even out the driveway when Stevie looks at the problem in his dad's study. As predicted, the little red book is on the top shelf. Way out of his reach. He could pull the couch table over and put a chair on it, well maybe two chairs. Or… Stevie looks at the shelf, which is really high up under the ceiling and grins.
Stevie puts his bare foot on the first shelf and grabs the highest shelf he can reach. It's easy to climb up to the second, and even higher row without a problem. A few moments later he's at the top and grins in triumph, grabs the desired book, puts it in the back of his shorts. He's ready to climb down when the phone rings. It startles him, he loses his grip on the shelf and, screaming, falls down from the top.
"Oh, my god, your mom must have had a heart attack when she found you." Cath looks around and sees that everyone has a mix of amusement and horror on their faces.
"What?" Steve looks around and grins, "nope, I was fine. You wanna hear the end of it or what?"
"Please, Steven, continue." Danny motions for his friends to shut up.
Stevie looks up at the huge bookshelf and tries to breathe. He landed flat on his back and all the air was pressed out of his lungs with a loud whooshing-sound. The phone is still ringing and if he doesn't answer it with the next ring, his dad will probably come by with sirens and lights on. Stevie turns and crawls as fast as he can to the phone.
"Stevie, what took you so long?"
"Ehm, I was just…"
"Everything alright, son?"
"You sound out of breath. What are you doing?"
"Ehm, I was in the bathroom?"
"Is that a question?"
"Are you hurt, Stevie?"
"No. I'm fine, Dad."
"Okay, good. Listen, Steve, please tell your mom that I will be home at seven. And that I will bring pizza. Don't forget that."
"Home at seven, okay, Dad."
"And pizza, I'll bring pizza… Stevie, I'll call her. You be a good boy. Okay, gotta go."
Stevie gets up from the floor where he is still kneeling, and takes the book out. The small book left an imprint on his backside and he tries to take a look but only manages to turn in a circle and sees nothing. He is way too excited to think any more about his sore back. He takes his new possession to his room and is back on the couch, reading, when his mom walks into the door.
For the rest of the day, little Stevie is not running around, but walking at a rather slow pace. It will be hours later before his mom finds out the reason for it.
Doris McGarrett gets woken up by her son standing in front of her bed in the middle of the night. He's in his pj's, teddy bear in his arms and softly crying.
"Mommy, my back hurts."
"So, you did hurt yourself?" Danny interrupts.
"I fell onto the book. The edge caused a bruise on the small of my back. It started hurting really bad later that night and woke me up. So I took Bunny and went to my mom."
"Your teddy's name was Bunny?" Danny is grinning at his friend.
"Just saying. It's more like a name for a… well, a bunny?"
"It was a cool teddy. I think I still have him somewhere."
"I can just imagine, giant five-year old Stevie standing in front of his parents' bed with his teddy in his arms." Danny smiles softly at Steve, glad that he is willing to share such a story with his friends.
"I was really small."
"I was a very small five-year old. I was just a little over three feet. Everyone thought I was still a toddler. When I started school after the summer, I was the smallest, almost a head shorter than the rest of the class. But that changed the next summer, when I started to really grow."
"You were just as short as Danno, Uncle Steve?"
"Well, maybe not as short as your dad… hey, no hitting the wounded," Steve rubs his arm where Danny playfully hits him.
"Guys, please. Steve, please go on. How did you get hurt?" Cath wants to know the rest of the story.
John McGarrett carries his sleeping son up to his room after they came home from the emergency room. Thankfully nothing but a bruise was diagnosed, he was given a shot for the pain and his parents were told to treat the bruise with ice.
"John, how is he?" Doris had stayed home with their baby girl. She's looking at her boy in his dad's arms.
"He is fine. I'm just gonna lay him down and I'll tell you in a minute." John lays Stevie on his belly in his bed and gently covers him with the blanket and tucks the bear next to his sleeping kid.
"What did the doctor say?"
"It's just a bad bruise. It took a lot of prodding and nudging for him to finally tell what happened. The doc started to look funny at me. Thank god Steve told him what he did. Doris, I don't know what to do with him. His curiosity will kill him one day, I just know it. He climbed onto the bookshelf in the study and fell from the top. He could have broken his neck. I knew when I called him that something was wrong. I bet you it had just happened then."
"His spine is not injured?"
"No, he is absolutely fine. He was in so much pain, because he didn't say anything to us before. If we had known, we could have iced it for hours and it would be much less painful now. They gave him a shot for pain. The Doc said he will sleep for at least twelve hours. I guarantee you he'll be awake way sooner."
"Does he need to stay in bed?"
"No, if he feels up to it he can do whatever he likes. The doc's words, not mine. Come on, let's go back to bed. Couple hours and I have to be at work."
H50 – H50 – H50
John McGarrett was wrong about one thing, his son didn't wake up in the early morning hours. He slept for over fourteen hours. Doris McGarrett hadn't had such a quiet day since Steve was born. The house was quiet but she couldn't find any peace. Every half hour she checked on her sleeping son. Watching him sleep. Looking like a little angel.
And then the most amazing thing happened, her little angel opened his eyes and was like his old self again. Even though his parents had felt the need to rush their son to the emergency room in the middle of the night because he was in such bad pain, sleeping away half a day was obviously all Stevie needed.
Doris is preparing another bottle for her baby girl when Stevie comes down the stairs, maybe a little slower than usual, but still more running than walking.
"Mommy, there was a bag of peas on my bed." Stevie holds up the bag of former frozen vegetables in his small hand and looks at his mom with big eyes.
"Well, Sweetpea," she smiles down at her son, who is still holding the soggy bag, "we needed them last night for your back. Come here, Sweetie, let me take a look."
The bruise on Stevie's back is now a deep purple but he assures her that it doesn't hurt at all. After telling him that his dad will have a talk with him tonight, she sits him down and makes him something to eat, since he missed breakfast and lunch.
"Can I have ice-cream, it would cool my back from the inside?" Stevie figured it couldn't hurt to ask, since his mom put vegetables on his back, he could put ice cream from inside on his bruise.
Since his mother couldn't argue with that childlike logic, and the fact that he looked so adorable, he had a huge bowl of ice cream after his burger. There are some perks to falling off a bookshelf.
"Uncle Steve, you can't cool a bruise from the inside. The ice cream melts and is not cold anymore." Gracie is shaking her head at him.
"Well, that may be so, but it tasted really good."
"So, your dad had a talk with you about your acrobatics?" Danny wants to know.
"No. He never came home that night because he was working on some surveillance. When he came home in the morning, he was really tired. Since he needed to sleep I couldn't play in the house. So the beach ban was lifted for the day and I spent the day outside. Well mostly in the garage, working on my project."
"Stevie!" His mom comes into the garage looking for him.
"What are you doing here? Dad doesn't like you to be here alone."
"I'm cleaning his tools. See?" He holds up some wrenches, not telling her, of course, that he needs them for a totally different purpose than cleaning them.
"Okay. Now get done with that, dinner is ready. Get washed up."
"Okay, I'll put everything back."
"You do that." She looks at her son, barely able to see his head behind the bench, shakes her head and leaves him to his chores.
Stevie looks after his mother and then back to his gathered stuff. Tonight he will start his first experiment.
H50 – H50 – H50
Stevie is concentrating on his work. He cut a towel in half to make it a square, then he knotted the eight lines to the towel, very carefully to place them as directed by the book. After that, he knotted the wrench to the end of the lines. Now his model-parachute is ready for its first test. He followed the description in the book to the letter, and is sure that his parachute will work.
Of course he needs a lot more towels to make another one, because he is a lot heavier than the wrench. So he needs lots more cloth. But first he needs to test the model. After checking to see that his mom and dad are still in the living room, he moves silently into his parent's bedroom and out onto the balcony.
It takes another minute of preparation, but then he's ready to drop his first experimental parachute. The model is perfect in every aspect of ratio and weight. He lets it drop and a perfectly shaped parachute opens and the wrench lands on the ground with a soft thud.
"Huh." Stevie looks down to the ground. "This is not high enough."
"Oh my god, please tell me you didn't jump off the roof, Steven." Danny practically screams at his partner.
Steve only smirks at him
For the next two days little Stevie is suspiciously quiet. His mother even checked if he might have a fever and she asked him repeatedly if he was in pain from his fall. Which he denied.
In fact he was really busy making his parachute, and not a model one, but one that could carry him. He'd procured two sheets out of his mom's closet and was sewing them together. Something he didn't have a great talent for. His finger were a witness to that. But after two days, his work is finally done. Tonight he will try his parachute. He only needs to figure out how to get to the roof without being detected.
He had already taken the gear from the garage. His dad had bought him his first climbing gear and he will use that to get safely attached to his parachute. For the first time he thinks it's really cool to be so small. All his friends are taller and heavier than he is. He's sure this wouldn't work for them.
A few minutes past midnight, he climbs the ladder to the attic and from there up to the roof. It's not easy getting all his stuff up there, but he manages. It's almost a full moon and a warm night. He carefully makes his way to the top of the roof. The highest point, he needs the height for the chute to open. He should actually be a little bit higher, but he intends to throw the sheets up into the air, so they have a moment more to expand.
He looks down and thinks for the first time that it is a lot higher than the balcony. Instead of preparing to jump he sits down on the rooftop, suddenly scared to jump off. It didn't seem to be so high from below. Stevie crawls to the edge and looks down and feels suddenly dizzy and a little sick. He closes his eyes and lies still, hugging the roof. He lies on the crest with his arms and legs to the left and right of it. He can't even get up to get back down. Everything is spinning around him and he is sure he's going to fall off.
He starts to cry and calls his dad. Who he knows is asleep and will not hear him. He is sure to never get off the roof again which only makes him cry harder. Until he hears a voice.
"Stevie, don't move." His dad is on the roof and a moment later hugs him to his chest with Stevie's arms tightly around his neck.
"Daddy, I'm sick."
"It's okay, we'll be down in a minute."
And they are. Little Stevie is shaking and not letting go of his dad and…
"You didn't jump!" Again Danny is interrupting.
Which causes a 'Danny!' by six people. "Stop interrupting."
"No, I didn't jump. When I looked down I suddenly got really, really sick and dizzy. I got so scared that I started shaking, I couldn't stand and if my dad hadn't come up I would have spent the night there. I don't really know why that happened, but I went into shock and was totally out of it. Maybe it was still left over from the fall. My mom had asked me a hundred times in the last two days if I was in pain. I told her 'no' every time, but it really hurt. I don't know, but whatever it was, I didn't jump off the roof. Actually it was right up here." Steve points to the roof directly above them. "The next morning, dad and I went back up there to get my gear. Dad carried a bag up, and he threw it off the roof with my chute attached to it."
"And?" Danny looks at his friend.
"Let's just say, it's a good thing I didn't jump." Steve grins back
"So how the hell did you get hurt?" Danny had been waiting for that long enough now. "What other kind of idiotic plan did you come up with?"
"My best friend lived across the street and I wasn't allowed to see him all week because I was grounded. On Sunday that was lifted, I guess my parents thought keeping me in the house any longer would be too dangerous." Steve smiles at the memory of not getting grounded into the next millennium for his roof stunt, instead only getting the lecture of his lifetime. "And after breakfast he came over to play on the beach. After a couple of hours we got bored and started playing in the driveway. My dad was washing the car and mom was doing some gardening. Jeff and I were playing ball. I had gotten a football for my birthday and we were throwing that around. Jeff threw the ball and it was flying really far and I ran after it. I don't remember anything after that. I ran onto the street right in front of a car and was hit full force. Right under my parents' noses."
"Uncle Steve, were you hurt badly?"
"Very, Gracie. I had lots of broken bones and internal injuries. But that wasn't the worst. I hit my head really hard and had a traumatic brain injury. I was in a coma for over three weeks and the doctors told my parents that I wouldn't wake up again. And even if I did that I wouldn't be myself anymore.
My mom was at the hospital every minute, with my sister. Mary didn't cry at all, not one time. My mom wouldn't listen to the doctors who said that I wouldn't hear anything; that I was not just sleeping. They had said there was not much brain activity. But she just ignored them and read all my books to me, and dad spent every free minute at the hospital and told me stories.
After a little over three weeks I woke up. Just like that."
"Did you have any after effects from the head injury?" Malia wants to know.
"I don't remember much about the time right after I woke up. I do remember that I couldn't move much, my leg, hip and pelvis were broken and I was in a kind of body cast. My left arm and shoulder were also immobilized. I spent two months in the hospital and still needed crutches when I started school. And my head started to hurt when I got tired. I still get a headache when I'm really tired. And I remember that I hated Tuesdays and Fridays."
"I had physical therapy on those days."
"You didn't like that?" Danny wants to know.
"No. I don't remember what we did, I only remember the pain. But all in all I was incredibly lucky, all the bones healed without a problem, even my hip and pelvis. I had no problems about six months later when I tried out for football."
"My god, what your parents had to go through. I can only imagine if anything like that were to happen to Grace." Danny hugs his daughter a little tighter.
"But Danno, I always look left and right before I cross the street. Uncle Steve you shouldn't have run into the street like that."
"You're right Gracie. But I was playing with my friend and not paying attention to anything else. Don't ever do that. Never run after a ball near a street, Gracie, in fact, never even play near a street." Steve pushes himself up a little higher in the chair to get more comfortable, his leg is still hurting.
"You okay?" Danny knows that his friend is in pain from the injured muscles in his leg.
"Yeah, I'm fine. So, Chin, how about those special burgers you promised?"
"Coming right up. Danny, some help here?" Chin motions for his friend to follow him inside to get the food out.
"I guess your friend, Jeff, was pretty shocked that day?" Malia asks while putting the plates on the table.
"Yeah, he was. A month after the accident, he moved with his parents to The Big Island. His dad got a new job there. By the time I was out of the hospital and running around again… well he was far away and it wasn't the same anymore. The first two months in school I couldn't do that much, and I was younger and smaller than all the others. So I didn't really fit in. That only changed when I joined the football team. A good six months after the accident I was as good as new, well almost."
"Almost?" Cath can't really believe that her friend survived such a horrific accident without any long term repercussions.
"Yeah, as I said, if I tired myself out, I got a headache and if I didn't take a nap then it got really bad. And I was even more hyperactive than before, I just couldn't sit still. Except for in school, I had no trouble sitting there for hours on end."
"Steve, you said you still get headaches?" Malia knows a lot of accident victims who suffer their whole lives with some form of repercussion from their accidents.
"Yeah, I do. But I learned to live with that a long time ago. I have had them for most of my life, and they can get annoying at times but mostly I just ignore them. Most times I don't even register them until I have time to sit down for a minute. And they're not serious anymore. When I was a kid, they were pretty severe at times but that changed when I was around twelve or so. But actually it didn't really bother me that much. If I didn't feel well, I just slept for a few minutes and everything was fine again. Really it's no big deal."
Steve looks around and sees the worry in the faces of the women around him. But it really is no big deal to him, it's just how it is. He realized when he got older that it could have been a lot worse. The most likely outcome of such an accident is instant death. Having the ability to go to school three months later, becoming a star quarterback, and a SEAL later in life was pretty good considering that by all means he should have been dead for thirty years now.
H50 – H50 – H50
The team BBQ starts to wind down when the rain began in the early evening. Steve struggles with his crutches since it's a little awkward to hold them with his still splinted finger, but he manages to use them without too much trouble. He is getting tired which results in a slight headache, a consequence of his concussion or from his childhood head trauma. Whatever the cause, it's getting to him more than it normally would.
He carefully makes his way into the living room, puts his crutches next to the couch and lowers himself onto the cushions. He finds himself immediately surrounded by the five females of the party, all more than eager to make him as comfortable as possible. Gracie puts a pillow on the table in front of the couch and then Kono helps him settle his leg onto it. Lori brings him his drink from the kitchen and Catherine gets him his medication, while Malia takes his temperature, which still fluctuates daily from normal to a little over 101 in the evenings.
Chin and Danny just watch in amusement as the five women swarm all around him.
"Uncle Steve, is your leg hurting? Do you want another pillow?"
"No, Gracie, thank you. But you could open the fasteners on the boot." Steve motions to the Velcro strips. The boot is a little tight and his ankle began to hurt more in the last hour by the pressure on the still healing wound.
"Okay." She goes right to work and a moment later the pressure lessens considerably.
"Steve, let me take a look. Maybe I wrapped it a little too much." Malia gently takes the boot off and takes a look at the bandages. "Looks good, I guess you were just on your feet a little too much today. The ankle is a little swollen, but keep it elevated and you should be fine. Does it hurt much?"
"No, it is fine since the boot is off. Thanks, Malia."
"You're welcome. Please don't put weight on the foot without the boot on."
"Oh, don't worry, I won't." Steve has no desire to walk on his leg any time soon.
"Steve, I'll come by tomorrow to take another look. That okay with you?"
"Really, Malia, you don't have to do that." Steve hates all the attention he's getting lately.
"Hey, brah, let her come by, or I'll have to listen to my wife complain all day," Chin tells Steve with a smile, ducking the pillow thrown at him by said wife.
"Fine. Would you like to have lunch together? We could go to Morimoto's; he has a great new menu. My treat." Steve doesn't care where they are going as long as he's no longer confined to his hospital room or now his house.
"Uncle Steve, can we come too? Danno, please can we go?" Grace is almost jumping up and down by the prospect of seeing her Uncle Steve again the next day.
"Of course you can, if your Dad doesn't have other plans?" Steve looks at Danny.
"A free meal? Sponsored by you? We'll be there for sure." Danny laughs at his friend.
"Good. So you're all coming?"
Steve looks around his living room, filled with all the people he calls family. His best friend; who has saved his life more than once. Who he knows he can trust with all his little, and not so little secrets. Who will always have his back, no matter what.
His friends, Chin and Kono, who became much more than teammates a long time ago. Gracie, who sees an uncle in him. Who he loves dearly.
Lori, who is not quite as close to his heart as the others, but he considers her kind of family none the less.
And of course, the most important woman in his life, Catherine Rollins. He told Danny he loved her, and in the last week he came to the conclusion that there is no other woman for him. That he doesn't want any other woman, even though neither of them are ready for more than they are having right now. On Monday she will leave again for another TAD; for how long they have no idea. They will miss each other, but they are okay with the knowledge that she will be back as soon as she can.
Steve leans his head back and lets the chatter of his friends relax him further. At some point their conversation and laughter morphs into background noise and he drifts to sleep, knowing that he is surrounded by friendship and love.
H50 – H50 – H50
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