Thanks so much for all of the alerts and reviews. It means so much! Here's the last part. This part has a little more Steve. I missed him in the first chapter.
The saga ends! Let me know what you think.
He remained a silent, small presence at his daughter's bedside while Rachel sat with a slumbering Grace, stroked her hair, and promised she'd feel better in the morning. There was no malice in her words, only the warmth of a promise a mother could bring.
Rachel had gotten pregnant on their honeymoon—and that irony was never lost on Danny— and even though he was newly married, and had been a cop for years, Danny was still very much a kid who loved being a goof with his boys and drinking much. In the beginning, impending fatherhood was a terrifying obstacle he couldn't escape nor comprehend. It was too much, too soon and too fast, and after the wedding, all he'd wanted to do was put on the breaks and milk the perks of newlyhood-dom. Except Rachel had already changed, trading her own late nights for early morning sickness and her beloved Choos for sensible flats. She had blossomed into a mother while Danny flailed convinced himself he'd be a terrible father. One night when Rachel was asleep, naked because she suddenly found clothes "bloody suffocating," Danny laid a trembling hand on her mounded stomach and out of sheer curiosity. He wasn't sure how long he held his hand there but he felt it eventually, a tiny thump that ignited a paternal the biggest epiphany of his life.
He was going to be a dad. There was a life waiting and depending on him.
Fatherhood was still a gargantuan task, but Danny no longer ran from its importance. That night he made a frenzied trip to the grocery store and stocked the house with every kind of fruit and vegetable he could find and he stocked the fridge and freezers with chicken breast, ground turkey and the cube steaks Rachel craved. Rachel had her eye on an old, but recently remodeled house, and Danny had bought it that weekend, borrowing a few thousand dollars from his brother to make a hefty down payment.
Becoming a dad had given Danny's life focus, clarity and an unfettered joy that nothing else had. Grace's mere existence had forced him to be a better cop and a better man.
As he stood in that hospital room, it dawned on him with a profound calamity that he'd been millimeters away from losing his daughter, from the one thing that kept his sane during the divorce and fighting when he'd gotten shot. His breath faltered and he took a step closer to the bed, needing to lay eyes and hands on Grace for reassurance, as he had done for the first months of her life, neurotically checking if she was breathing. As he drew closer, all he saw was the greatest hits from old cases—little girls with garroted throats; boys who'd been strangled; babies who'd been beaten and shaken.
Pain lanced through his chest, sharp and piercing as his stomach roiled with nausea. He muttered an excuse to back out of the room as the available air around him thinned and his skin tingled and slithered with primal, sickening horror. He knocked over some complicated machinery, but the resounding clang of it hitting the ground sounded like gunshots, a screaming child, Rick's crazed laughter. Tossing an apology over his shoulder, Danny let his watery legs carry him away from the symphony of death throes and the crunch of shattering bone. It was by sheer dumb luck that he staggered into the ER's garishly blue bathroom and he made one desperate heave for a toilet seconds before he vomited up everything he'd ever eaten since he'd moved to Hawaii. At least it was a reprieve from the apocalyptic panic that compressed his chest with icy leathery hands which made it impossible to breathe, smeared the lights and colors of the bathroom into too-bright blur, twisted his piteous groans into Grace's last breath, dying gurgles. And it only fueled his queasiness to the point where he was dry-heaving so hard his eyes bulged. It was the agony of in his chest, from his broken heart, that drove him to his knees, head hanging into the toilet.
He was going to die.
He'd always joked, albeit darkly, that losing his wife and his daughter was more than his heart could take, and now just the threat of it had all but stopped his heart. His breath rushed through him with a rapid ferocity that it made him lightheaded and only intensified the hot snaps and prickles in his fingers and ears, the backs of his eyes.
Danny needed to get help, except his legs wouldn't hold him and he couldn't gather the breath to scream.
Water flooded his eyes, and then dropped down his cheeks. As static crackled in his eyes, and his vision shorted out, flashing between black and white and oversaturated color, he wondered if these would be his last memories.
He drifted in a horrible purgatory between consciousness and not, too weak and too frazzled to do anything but. Suddenly, there was a hand on his back, and then a strong arm around his waist to prop him up against the wall.
"Danny. Danny? Hey, can you open your eyes? It's Steve…come on, man."
Steve was shaking him, rattling him like a dog killing a rat, and wouldn't stop. When his eyes finally opened, the lights were grating and harsh, and he could only make out some watery approximation of Steve's chiseled features.
"What's going on, Danny? What's wrong?"
Danny saw both of Steve's hands, as he leaned forward to flush the toilet and realized Steve wasn't shaking him, but that he was trembling in painful, teeth-chattering jags. He was grateful when Steve pulled his shift open with an efficient snap, even though it gave him a terrifying case of déjà vu. "Did Rick hurt you?"
God yes, Danny wanted to say.
There was a hot hand on his cold, clammy face. And Steve was making 'little boy' face with eyes were too blue and too big, and the only tell about how much Steve was freaked out.
"Danny. You're scaring me here, and I don't scare easy. Talk to me right now."
"Dying." He clutched at his aching chest, and rasped, "…heart attack?"
All of the color from Steve "Ninja" McGarrett's face drained away into a horrified shade of crisp white. His mouth dropped open and shook his head in defiance. "No, Danny. You're gonna be fine. I'm going for help," Steve clapped the cheek he had been palming seconds before. "Stay awake. I'm serious. Stay here."
Steve left before Danny could protest that idea of gurneys and needles and tubes only made him feel worse. He closed his eyes and bared the agony all while trying not to tear his hair out and or scratch at his crawling skin.
The next thing he knew Dr. Jensen was squatting down in front of him, Steve at his side. They were all wedged into the men's room stall, and it was too many hands touching and groping, too many eyes leering. Dr. Jensen remained unmoved by his tortured moans, and pressed two gloved fingers into his check, checking his pulse. "Jesus, Danny," she muttered obviously discovering just how fast his heart was beating. "Your chest hurts, I take it?"
He nearly bit his tongue on his snapping teeth, so he nodded, still huffing and puffing like he'd ran a marathon.
"Okay…you're doing great, Danny. I have to know, does it shoot down your left arm? This is important."
The molten core of the pain was in chest, it burned and glinted, but he didn't feel it anywhere else. He shook his head with emphasis. No.
"What else are you feeling, Danny? Tell me as best you can."
"…light hurts…sounds not right…gonna die." Danny heaved.
At that Dr. Jensen seemed relieved and her shoulders dropped a bit and she sat back on her heels. "I'll need to run some tests, but I think you're having an anxiety attack."
Danny glared at her with all the nastiness and cynicism he could muster. And he heard Steve's distant, nervous chuckle.
"Have you ever had one before?"
He had when there was two lines instead of one on the pregnancy stick and a stack of bills for his wedding on the table. "…ne'er like this…"
"We need to get you to a bed so I can rule out a MI. If you're having a panic attack, I can give you a mild sedative and you can get some rest."
For Danny, utter humiliation was having Commander Steve McGarrett practically carry him out of the bathroom stall, one arm around his back, the other supporting his elbow like he was someone's grandmother. Steve didn't seem to mind, snagging a stool as Savannah worked, taking his vitals and hooking him up to an IV with the port that was still conveniently placed in his arm and a heart monitor and pulse ox to double-check his rhythms.
"Danny, I know it's hard, but you need to try to slow your breathing down…" Dr. Jensen said quietly, checking the monitors.
He gripped the rail of the bed against the pain and the effort of the task. "...can't..."
Steve lifted something in front of his face. It took Danny a minute to focus on what it was: a picture of Grace on her eighth birthday that Steve had snapped with his iPhone. She wore a tutu that probably took all the pink and purple tulle in Hawaii. She had a huge party with laughter and balloons and too much cake. Grace and her nine of her closest friends nearly overdosed on sugar and candy. He'd planned it all on his own and had commandeered Steve's house for the festivities.
He looked at the picture and felt something in his chest loosen, a thread being pulled from a seam. Air rushed in, a little bit at first, but it steadily increased until he could do more than pant. He'd regained control over his limbs and shakily reached up to hold the phone, to press the screen to keep the picture in living color.
"She's right down the hall, Danny, and she's fine, a little shaken, but she's a fighter just like her dad. When I saw her, she was holding Charlie, telling him about the ride in the ambulance," Steven promised. "I didn't tell them that you're not feeling well. They think you're debriefing your captain back in Jersey." He pushed the picture down to grab Danny's eyes. "They're taken care of Danny, so you need take care of yourself right now, okay?"
"Tryin'," he rasped.
It took an eternity but somehow, the paranoia faded way, dragging the nausea and tingling limbs with it. All that remained was a hollowed out husk who could do little more than breathe and clutch that stupid phone like it was a lifeline to sanity.
"There ya go, Danny, just keep taking deep, slow breaths. Your heart looks good. I'm going to run some blood tests to be sure. But I think we're in the clear. You need to rest, okay?"
Dr. Jensen had injected some Valium into his IV, not enough to knock him out but it made him feel drowsy with an artificial calm. She left with forty-seven tubes of Danny's blood, and it was just him and Steve and the trauma hovering in the room. Somehow, he was able to think about more than just making it through the next hour.
"I'm…feeling better, I think." He whispered. His chest was still tight, and his stomach muscles still spasmed, and he wasn't sure he could walk twenty feet if he had to, but he wasn't seeing Grace's demise with his waking eyes, so he considered that a win.
"I'm calling bullshit on that one," Steve said. "All that stuff that happened to Grace happened to you, too. You need to decompress, Danno…and not hyperventilating and passing out in a bathroom by yourself."
Danny played with the pulse ox clip on his finger and allowed himself to ask the first question that fluttered through his mind. "Is HPD going to arrest me for shooting Rick?" He wondered, staring at the ceiling.
"For shooting Peterson when he was running away? No."
"He wasn't running away, Steve. He was a in custody and I shot him."
"In my report, he was running away."
"And how will that line up with the ten thousand witnesses at the park?" Danny's heart thumped uncomfortably fast, but it was with anger this time, not panic. "Lying about what I did…isn't much different than what Peterson did?" He sat up, swinging his legs over the side of the bed, aggravated at how lightheaded that made him. "I mean, I believe in justice but how many lines are we going to cross?"
"Lay back down before I cuff you to the bed," Steve hissed. When Danny didn't obey, Steve whipped out his cuffs and clicked them around his wrist before chaining it to the guardrail before Danny had even noticed he'd moved. He stood at Danny's bedside, where he had been for the past hour until Danny acquiesced, lying back down on the thin pillows.
Steve watched the monitor and didn't engage him until he was satisfied with the numbers. "You're really trying to give yourself a heart attack, aren't you?" Steve shook his head. He plopped back down in his seat, legs crossed loosely at the ankle.
"For Grace? I'd cross them all and I'd sleep like a baby at night. I'm a SEAL, Danny, the stuff I've done in the name of my country, to save lives…it's ugly and sometimes I hate it, but it's not wrong."
"Well, I'm a cop, Steve. I took an oath to uphold the law. Shooting a guy, a handcuffed, unresisting scumbag, is still wrong."
Steve crossed his arms over his chest. "That's really how you want it?"
"Then you're fired, Danny. Effectively immediately."
Danny settled against the pillows, feeling muted shock, thanks to the drugs, and bit betrayed that Steve had given in so easily. Beneath it all, he understood that he deserved some kind of punishment even if it wasn't the slightest bit remorseful.
Steve stayed until his bag of saline was empty, his test results came back perfectly normal and Dr. Jensen discharged him with an order to rest and a sincere hug. "Take care of yourself," she said, pulling back to look at both Danny and Steve. "Grace is ready to go home too. Make sure she pushes fluids and stays out of the sun for a few days. You," she pointed at him, "take some days off and relax, and talk to someone if you feel panicky again."
"Of course. Thanks, Dr. Jensen."
"My frequent flyers call me Savannah. Get out of here, Danny."
Steve herded him towards the door. "We're going, Savannah. Thanks again."
Rachel sat in the waiting room chairs with Grace in her lap, and Charlie bundled in his carrier. She gazed at him tiredly as he approached and looked away just as quickly.
"How are things with you…and Rachel?"
Danny's shoulders tightened reflexively. "Grim. Bleak. Icy." He supplied. "Rick won. Stan took the bullet and he's her hero. Pretty sure we're going to be doing the custody dance again."
"No you're not," Steve began, "because you're going to fight. Danny, I don't know the first thing about being a dad or being married, but fight for that kid the way you did today…"
"Grace was kidnapped because of me, because of something I did before she was born…do you get that? This whole thing is my fault."
Steve stopped Danny with a firm grip on his shoulders. "No, it's Rick's fault…he was dirty and got caught and couldn't hack it in prison. He only wins if you let him."
Danny wished it was that simple, that Steve was right, but Rick had just detonated the bomb of his already precarious family predicament. But Steve's heart was in the right place, so Danny forced out an optimistic smile. "I won't, Steve. Don't worry. Why don't you go home and get some sleep." I'll come by tomorrow and clean out my desk."
Steve clapped him on the shoulder. "Come by tomorrow evening. I don't want to see your ass in the morning."
Danny approached Rachel and smiled down a groggy Grace. Her little wave stoked the paternal fire inside of him as Rachel stared just passed him, face set in cold indifference. "She wanted to say good night."
"Aww, don't worry about that, Monkey. I'm staying with you tonight. This isn't debatable, Rachel." Danny announced and he leaned in to scoop Grace out of her lap. He walked out to Rachel's SVU, and his ex-wife had no choice but to follow.
As soon as both kids were safely tucked in the back seat, Danny shut the door and blocked Rachel from climbing in the driver's seat. "If you even think of bringing lawyers into this, of taking away custody for something that was utterly out of my control, I will have to bring up issues of Charlie's questioned paternity and maybe tell them that you're prone to violent outbursts against a police officer in elevators. I'm her father, Rachel. That nightmare that happened to her today well it happened to me too. I had a gun waved in my face and some whackjob blackmailing me my daughter's life. If you think that I wouldn't die for that kid, then you've must have sleepwalked through our entire marriage. I don't care if you hate me, but you are not taking my kid away from me. Nothing ever will." Danny promised. "I didn't fight as hard as I could last time, but I will this time. Just don't make me."
Rachel placed a hand on his chest, the way she had when they were still married, but still refused to meet his eyes. "I'd never take her away from you, Daniel. And…I'm sorry about…today, what happened to you. That's all I can do right now."
"That's all I want, Rachel."
He stepped aside, hoping that Chin could hook him with his old security job or maybe he could work on a cocoa farm. That sounded good. He could wear a colorful Hawaii shirt, spend days in the sun walking amongst the cocoa trees and become Hawaii's first Willie Wonka. Nope, Danny wouldn't miss the badge at all.
As he climbed into the passenger seat, Danny's phone rang. He slumped against the headrest, wanting nothing more than to abuse Stan's elaborate marble shower and crash in Grace's giant pink-drenched bedroom. "What, Steve?"
"You're re-hired. See ya next week." Steve announced before hanging up.
Danny could only shake his head in disbelief, and clipped his shield back to his belt with pride.