This might come as a surprise to some of you, but this is the last chapter. I never intended to write about the long recovery Steve has ahead of him. Been there, done that.
But you'll get a few scenes of it in this epilogue. Athough I was accused, by someone who shall remain nameless, that I don't know what an epilogue is supposed to be. ;-) Well, what can I say? I have to agree. This is much more than an epilogue. I hope it will wrap up this story quite nicely and to everyone's satisfaction.
You will get glimpses into Steve's hard way back to his normal life. And of course Steve and Danny still need to 'talk'. You'll get that as well.
Now to the important part. The thank you note. And I really mean it when I'm saying it's the important part. Cokie and Sherry, you two are the best. I could never have done this without you.
Cokie, you are an inspiration and your input is invaluable to me. You are such a joy to work with; you're funny, snarky, down to earth and just a bundle of wits. Thank you.
Sherry, you gave me such great lessons. And I'm not talking about grammar. I learned valuable life lessons from you, and I like to thank you for that.
And let's not forget about YOU - the reader. Thank you for sticking with this story till the end. I'm blown away and very humbled by all your reviews and other responses. Thank you SO much. I always try to thank everyone in a pm, but if I missed anyone, it was not intentional. Also a thank you to all the guest reviewers. And last but not least to everyone who put this on alert or just read without responding. Thank you!
PD – Chapter 40
Steve leisurely stretches in bed and happily notices that there is only a slight twinge in his right shoulder. The last few weeks of physical therapy had been very hard and painful, but Steve was determined to get the full range of motion back. He still hasn't fully reached that goal yet but he will.
When he woke up after getting shot, it took him almost a week to leave the ICU for good, with a short stop in intermediate care. For three days he had suffered seizures and his blood pressure wouldn't stabilize. After he was finally stable enough to be moved to a regular room, he spent another three weeks in D.C. before his transport back to Hawaii. His friends all had to return to Hawaii after the first week, but Ducky and Gibbs had come by the hospital as often as they could.
Unfortunately, he had missed most of their visits the second week. After the surgery to repair his torn shoulder, he had spent most of the time sleeping his days away. He had been happy to fly home, even though the long flight had not been pleasant. Once he arrived back in Hawaii, he had been content to lie in bed for the additional week he'd spent at Queens Medical Center. Every little jostling or even just breathing had sent waves of pain through his shoulder and upper chest, not to mention the pain the extensive bruising on his lower back, belly and groin had caused. His first movements out of bed had been excrutiating , but it had gotten better when he had come home and had started doing exercises in the water after he had been allowed to swim. Being in the ocean did not just help his healing shoulder muscles but it did even more for his mental health.
But those three weeks in D.C. had taken a huge toll not only on his body, but also on his mind.
Walter Reed, Washington D.C., eight days after the shooting
Steve almost wishes he could just lie back down and black out again. But that is not gonna happen any time soon. His therapist is relentless and pushes him to go just a little further. *Go*. Yeah right. You're not *going* anywhere. Steve chuckles at that thought.
"What's so funny?" Ron Ember, his therapist, asks him. Ron is standing in front of Steve and helps him to keep his balance while sitting on the edge of the bed.
It's the second day that Steve is actually upright and not just lying in bed. Although he hasn't yet managed to leave the bed completely. He barely manages to sit on the edge of it. That is what made him laugh.
"Nothing," Steve answers and tries to suppress the groan that wants to escape. His last dose of pain meds was a while ago and all his injuries are making themselves known again.
"You wanna try and stand up?" Ron looks at his patient and readies himself to help the injured man if he decides to give getting up a try.
"No, don't think so. Can I lay down now?" Steve's dizzy and he's sure if he tried to stand right now he would face plant in a spectacular way. Besides, he can wait a few hours before trying again. It's not like he's going anywhere anytime soon.
"Of course. We go about it just like last time, let me help you get down onto your side. Just relax, Steve, I've got you," Ron tells Steve as he gently lowers him back down, careful to avoid jostling the heavily bandaged shoulder. But no matter how careful he is, Ron knows it's very painful, not only from the shoulder but also from the abdominal wound.
Contracting the muscles around the gunshot wounds is sending waves of pain through his body and leaves Steve panting, lying on his side, trying to slow his breathing. "Shit."
Ron has to smile at the softly spoken explicit. "I think we need to shorten the intervals between your injections. You're obviously in pain." Ron looks down at his patient and doesn't like the pallor and slight sheen of sweat on his face. "Steve, can you turn onto your back?"
Ron Ember doesn't wait for an answer but practically moves Steve onto his back and a moment later straps an oxygen mask on him. "Come on, take some deep breaths, you will feel better."
Steve can feel how the added air is chasing away the dizziness that threatened to overwhelm him a moment ago. Or maybe it was just laying back down that made him feel better, either way he's glad he avoided being sick. Yesterday he had not been so lucky, and dry heaving with a busted shoulder and a barely held together abdomen was no fun.
Now he just needed some relief from the pain that had increased in the last few minutes and he'd be reasonably happy. Well, happy might be too strong a word, but he would settle for content.
The beeping of the pump that controls his medication can be heard and Steve knows that it won't be long until the powerful drug will do its job. He welcomes the drug but just as much hates the need for it. The strong pain killers always put him in a haze for half an hour before his head clears again. The interval between doses gives him about 90 minutes of feeling like he is actually in the room and not on a drug induced 'happy trip'. After that, the next dose changes him back into the 'drooling phase' as he has named it.
He had talked to his doctor about that effect, but he was not willing to switch Steve to a non-narcotic pain reliever although he promised to evaluate Steve again in a couple of days. He might even let him try his first food by then. Up until now he's remained on TPN, which gives him all the nutrition he needs through his IV but doesn't enter his digestive system, which needs a few more days to heal before it can handle food. Stitched up intestines are not so good for processing food.
"Steve, do you feel better?" Ron can clearly see that his patient is strongly affected by the drug given to him. He knows that the commander probably hates losing control like this, but Ron also knows that he needs the strong meds for another few days.
"Hmm." Steve's already drifting, so his answer is not very coherent.
"It's okay, Steve, just relax."
Ron finishes gathering his stuff when Steve's friends arrive. He met them yesterday and thinks they have a good influence on Steve's recovery, so he's happy to see them again. "Hey, Danny. You're not planning on giving Steve any of that, are you?" Ron motions to the bag with the Subway logo on it. The fast food restaurant downstairs is very popular, but Steve isn't ready for that yet.
"No, of course not. It's for us, we wanted to have lunch with Steve. We thought he might get some Jell-O by now?"
"No, not for another couple of days. Don't give him anything to eat or drink other than water, even if he asks for it. But I doubt he will," he adds almost as an afterthought. "He's not feeling so well. PT took a lot out of him," Ron tells them as he motions to the now sleeping Steve.
"How is he doing?" Catherine stands next to the bed and looks down at her injured friend.
"Actually amazing if you consider his condition just a few days ago. But he's hurting, his shoulder hurts a lot, and the bruises on his lower body are keeping him from getting up. I think he will manage to stand up tomorrow. He was almost there today, but the pain got too bad, so we had to stop."
"I thought he's still on strong pain killers?" Danny wonders why his friend would be in so much pain that he couldn't even do his PT.
"He is. But that doesn't mean the pain can't get overwhelming at times. He just received another dose, so he should sleep for maybe an hour. When he wakes up, if he feels better, he can take the oxygen mask off." Ron grabs his gear and says his goodbye.
Forty five minutes later, a sleepy Steve joins the three friends in conversation. "Hey," Steve mumbles as he changes into a more upright position. It still hurts to sit up fully, but a half sitting position is bearable. He struggles a bit with the mask.
"Hey yourself. Have a nice nap?" Danny moves over to the bed to greet his partner and helps him take off the oxygen mask.
"Yeah," Steve yawns more than actually speaks the word and then he smiles at Danny thinking about how day by day more memories of his time in the ICU are surfacing. Gibbs' threat to tell where the bullet hit him all those years back; Catherine's pleading with him not to leave her; JoJo's hand holding; Ducky's encouraging words; Max's awkward thank you and of course Danny's whispered "Danno loves you".
"What are you smiling at?" Danny looks at his still grinning friend.
"Just happy to see you guys."
"What, you're getting all emotional on us again?" Danny still wonders if his friend didn't suffer brain damage after all. His behavior the last two days has been more than odd. For the first time, at least that Danny can remember, Steve had been expressing his feelings freely. He told all of them repeatedly how much he loves them and how sorry he is that he couldn't respond when they were pouring their hearts out while he was in ICU, just listening to them.
"No, just glad you're here, Danno." Steve knows that he's not acting normal, but he can't help it. Ever since he woke up he's been so darn happy to be alive. He has never felt this euphoric before. He has the suspicion that they are giving him drugs to feel that way, but his doctor assured him that was not the case. His doctor thinks he simply realized how close to dying he had come and that he's eternally grateful to have made it. Steve knows that Danny thinks he's brain damaged, and if this emotional phase doesn't stop soon, Steve is likely to agree with him.
"WE are happy to see you too," Cath says to Steve as she bends down to give him a proper hello. But at the same time, she glares at Danny to tell him to stop making fun of Steve's emotional state. "How do you feel?"
"Not too bad, but I couldn't stand up," Steve is a bit frustrated about his inability to find his way out of bed. He really wants to, but every time he's sat on the edge of it, the pain and dizziness has been so overwhelming that he has rather quickly abandoned the plan to stand up, much to his own and Ron's frustration. It seems that his therapist takes it as a personal failure if his patient doesn't manage to accomplish his goal.
"Don't worry about it, Steve. I'm sure you'll be running around soon enough." JoJo finally finds her way to his side and embraces him in a very gentle hug.
"I'm sure the 'running part' won't happen any time soon," Steve tells her with a sad undertone. Today he saw the angry bruises on his lower belly and groin for the first time. They cover the whole right half of his belly and continue all the way down his right thigh. He was just grateful that Donaldson only kicked him once in a really painful place and that he wasn't conscious for any of it. There was no damage done and even the kicks to his belly didn't injure him further. He is still in a lot of pain, but the bruises will fade without any lasting effect.
Today is also the first day that his shoulder and upper body are not completely bandaged. His shoulder and arm are immobilized with a special sling that keeps his arm bent and his shoulder mostly still. The wounds are only covered by thick soft gauze pads.
They had used a plate to put his shattered clavicle back together. That way he can start with PT on his shoulder in a few days. Dr. Winchester told him that the repair on his shoulder went better than expected and if he worked hard he should get good results on rotation and strength.
"Your therapist said you're doing really well. He was just leaving when we came in," Danny tells him about their encounter with Ron Ember.
Steve can only snort at that, "yeah right. I can't even sit up on my own, let alone stand up."
"Well, in that case they won't have any problem keeping you where you're supposed to be. In your bed!" JoJo grins at him, knowing how much he hates to lie in bed, doing nothing.
"Very funny," Steve says in mock anger but with a smile on his face.
"Did you talk to Chin and Kono today?" Catherine asks about their friends back in Hawaii. They still hope they might be able to come for a visit, now that they know Steve has to stay here at least another three weeks.
"No, not yet. Mary was here all morning and then I had PT, and now you guys are here."
"Mary left?" Danny had been wondering about his sister since they came in a few minutes ago. She had said she would be here.
"Yeah, she got a call from the airline. They asked her if she could take over for someone, and I told her to go."
"Why what, Danny?"
"Why do you push her away?"
"I didn't push her away! Danny, it's the first time that she has held a job for longer than a couple of weeks. She loves it. I want her to be happy and keep that damn job. She needs that. Can't you understand that?" Steve gets aggravated and a little angry, even though he doesn't know why.
"Hey, calm down. We get it. But you need her too. She's your sister."
"Yeah, and I love her, but she gets on my nerves. I'm glad she had to go back to New York." Steve paused, and then grins, finally admitting, "She's a pain in the ass."
"When will she be back?" Danny wants to know. He's a bit sad that Mary has gone; that makes it a bit harder to tell Steve that they also have to leave.
"I don't know, but not this week. Maybe next weekend," Steve says and already knows why Danny is asking about Mary. He was wondering when they would tell him that they have to go back to Hawaii. Steve talked to the Governor this morning, who asked for Danny to come back.
"We were hoping that Mary would stay with you for a while…"
"It's okay, Danny. I know you have to go back. Denning called this morning. And I'm sure your emergency leave is also up," Steve says as he looks at Cath and JoJo.
"Steve, I'm sorry, but we have to report back to base tomorrow. We're on a flight at 1800 hours," Cath tells her friend. She takes his hand and squeezes it. None of them wants to leave him alone in Washington. "We talked to your doctor. We thought he might allow you to get on a medevac flight to Tripler, but he said not for a few weeks."
"I know. He said I would risk further injury to my shoulder on a bumpy flight. I'm not stable enough to make that trip, but, hey, I'm okay with that. You don't have to worry about me. It's not the first time that I've been here alone. It's actually not too bad here," Steve tells them even though he thinks it totally sucks to have to spend any length of time in this or any other hospital. And now even more so that his friends can't come to visit him.
"You know, Steve, you don't have to pretend to be brave with us." Danny looks at his friend and wants him to understand that they don't want to leave him behind.
"I don't want you to leave, Danny. I wish you could stay. Is that better?"
"No." Danny looks down, that was not what he expected. That much honesty and emotion from his stoic partner is a bit much to take.
"Hey, partner, don't take anything I'm saying too seriously. I'm pretty high right now." Steve grins at Danny. "But I do mean it when I say that I will miss all of you in the next three weeks. Or for however long they will keep me here."
"I will call every day," Cath tells him.
"Yeah, I'm sure all your friends will call so often that you will wish for them to stop."
"Not gonna happen. Danny, maybe you can get Gracie on one of the video calls?" Steve asks a bit shyly, he's not sure if Danny is okay with his daughter seeing him injured.
"We will call you together tomorrow." Danny doesn't have to think twice about that answer. His daughter had already asked when she can see her Uncle Steve. And Danny thinks it's okay, it's not like Grace would see any of the terrible wounds Steve suffered. And Steve is talkative. So, no problem there either.
They spend another half hour talking about everything and nothing until Steve receives his next dose of pain medication. "Sorry, guys… I won't be of much use… for a while," Steve can instantly feel the drug taking effect and his surroundings melt into a distorted picture with strange sound effects.
"JoJo, is it normal that he gets this high with every dose of his meds?" Danny asks as he watches his friend dozing, completely oblivious to his surroundings.
"Well, everyone reacts differently to such strong drugs. Steve has never tolerated narcotic drugs very well. I hope they can switch him to something else soon."
They watch as Steve drifts off to sleep.
*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*
Steve McGarrett's home, present time
In the first days of physical therapy he had almost no strength in his right arm due to the torn muscles and tendons. He couldn't even lift a glass of water. Now his strength is almost all back and it's no problem to hold any kind of gun. Just yesterday he re-qualified for handguns and rifles.
He has been back to full duty for over a week now, but he still wanted to do the tests, which he did yesterday and passed with a very decent score; not his best by far, but still above average.
After three months of medical treatment and extensive physical therapy and four weeks of desk duty he is almost back to normal with only a few surgical scars as a reminder of the moment he almost died. You did die. Without Max and Ducky you'd be dead. His inner voice reminds him again of how close this really had been.
"Did you sleep well?" Cath puts her hand on his stomach as he settles back down in bed after his morning stretching.
"Hmm, think so." Steve stretches again, but this time to claim a kiss from his girlfriend.
Catherine gently traces the still slightly pink scar on his midsection where the bullet came out of his body, after doing so much damage. Such a tiny piece of metal had ripped Steve apart, wreaked havoc from back to front. Almost killed him. Causing him almost to bleed to death. And the same bullet had ripped into a second person and had killed that one almost instantly. Catherine is always amazed at what such a small piece of metal does to a body. How devastating the impact of a bullet can be.
"Are you ready for Danny?" Cath knows what Danny is up to, but promised not to tell Steve. And she didn't.
"Not so sure about that. You think I'm ready?" All week Steve had tried to find out what his friend had planned for today, but no one was willing to say anything. After a few days he gave up and decided to give them the joy of surprising him.
"Relax, Steve, this is about having fun with your friends. It's not a test, jeez, sometimes you *are* dense," Cath tells him as she lets her hand wander from his stomach, making Steve moan with pleasure.
"Do we have time for this?" Steve is not willing to stop her, but knows that Danny will be on time.
"Plenty of time, don't worry."
And he doesn't, but instead gives in to her gentle ministrations.
*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*
"Uncle Steve," Grace Williams calls out as soon as she lays eyes on her favorite uncle as she and her dad enter the house.
"Hey, Gracie," Steve greets his honorary niece with surprise in his voice when she practically tackles him. He shifts her over to his left hip, away from the injured right side. His shoulder is almost back to normal, but that doesn't mean he's ready to carry Grace's weight with his right arm. And his whole right side is a bit tender. He unconsciously protects the wounded areas; they still cause an occasional twinge of pain when he moves wrong or put pressure on an especially tender spot.
"Guess what, Uncle Steve!"
"We will get to spend the whole morning together, just the two of us," Gracie tells Steve and beams at him.
"Really? And what are we doing?" Steve is a bit confused why he would be alone with Gracie. He thought Danny had something planned with him.
"That is a surprise, Uncle Steve," Grace says and shakes her head at Steve's question.
"Oh, and what is your dad doing while we do whatever we're doing?"
"He will wait for us, of course." Again with the head shake, like Steve doesn't know anything. Which he doesn't.
"Of course." Steve looks at Danny for clarification but his friend only shakes his head.
"Come on you two, let's go." Danny waves at Cath and ushers his daughter and his partner out of the house.
"Danny, where are we going?" Steve almost whines as he follows Grace rather reluctantly.
"It's a surprise, Steven. Didn't you listen to my daughter?"
"I hate surprises," Steve grumbles under his breath. "Danny! Tell me where we're going." Steve stopped next to the car and makes no move to get into it.
"Jesus, Steve, will you just relax and get in the car?" Danny looks exasperated at his partner.
"I'm not going anywhere until you tell me where we're going." Steve knows he's a bit silly, but he doesn't like where this is heading. He doesn't really want to spend time with Gracie all alone. He still remembers what Danny told him about his trust in people in psychological therapy.
"Are you serious?"
Steve looks down into the car, seeing that Gracie is busy finding her favorite station on the radio, and paying no attention to them at all. He still lowers his voice so he's sure that she won't hear them, "why does Gracie think we are spending the morning together? Alone."
"Because you are," Danny looks at his friend and wonders what Steve's problem is now.
"Maybe I don't want that," Steve says very softly, lowering his head and waiting for the storm that his statement will cause. He looks up in surprise when Danny suddenly stands very close to him.
"Steven, please just get in the car. I promise you have nothing to worry about. Okay?" Danny tells his friend calmly and with a gentle voice he only uses with his daughter when she is sick. And now obviously also with his dense partner. "Come on," Danny gently claps Steve on the back and motions for him to get in the car.
"Fine." Never having seen this side of his friend, he finally sits down in the Camaro.
"Why can't he be easy for once? But no, always making a thing out of everything…" Danny shakes his head on the way around the hood of his car and keeps mumbling to himself.
"I'm not making a *thing* out of everything," Steve says when Danny sits behind the wheel.
"Sure you do. Always need to know every little thing…"
"It's called 'attention to detail', it's a survival skill," Steve defends his tendency to scrutinize everything.
"Survival skill my ass…"
"Danno! That's a bad word. You have to pay up!" Gracie interjects from the back seat. "You're up to two-fifty for this week."
"How much do you charge, Gracie?" Steve is curious about the curse-word-rate.
"Oh. And you're up to two fifty? Wow." Steve laughs at his partner.
"Hey, it was a tough week." Danny tries to defend his less than stellar record of cursing in front of Grace.
"I bet it was." Steve smiles at his friend.
Giggles from the back seat and soft laughter from the passenger seat are the only sounds that can be heard over the grumbling of the driver and the softly playing radio.
*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*
Danny Williams looks at his partner, who is quietly sitting in the passenger seat, staring out the window. His daughter has obviously realized that something is not quite right and took her iPod out and listens to her favorite songs.
"Yeah?" Steve looks a bit startled as he turns to Danny.
"Did you hear from the Navy yet?" Danny knows that Steve is waiting for the results of his evaluation last week.
"No. I have the physical next week."
"But you had the eval last Friday. How did that go?" Danny had tried all week to get something out of Steve about it, but he had totally clammed up and hadn't said a word about it. "Did JoJo do it?"
"No. That would be a conflict of interest. Some captain from Washington came over for it."
"From D.C.? They flew someone in from Bethesda? Don't they have shrinks here in Hawaii?"
"She asked to do it," Steve tells him with disdain in his voice.
"Because she hates me." Steve knows that he's unfair and that she surely doesn't hate him; resent him is more like it.
"Oh-Kay. What did you do to her?" Danny looks at the back seat and after seeing that Grace is obviously still happily listening to her music turns his attention back to his friend. Or at least as much as he can while driving.
"Our last meeting didn't go so well, and she got reprimanded because of me," Steve tells his friend without revealing anything. He thinks it was not fair that she got called before the board; after all she might have saved his life.
Steve just now remembers that he never told his friends or Catherine about what happened a few days after he was left alone in Washington.
Washington D.C., Captain Billings' office, a little over three months ago
"Commander McGarrett, how are you this morning?" Captain Jen Billings looks at the man in front of her, who will be her patient for the next two weeks. Maybe longer if he has to stay more than the planned three weeks. She skimmed through his file and read that he's alone here with no relatives or friends to visit. They had to go back to Hawaii four days ago. That doesn't make it any easier for his recovery. She can see that he is obviously in some discomfort at the moment. His right arm is kept in a sling and she knows that he suffered severe injuries to his abdomen. Those injuries are the reason he is sitting in a wheelchair in front of her desk.
"Thank you, ma'am, I'm good."
"Well, Commander, I think your definition of good differs quite a bit from mine," she tells him with a smile on her face.
Steve looks at the captain sitting behind her desk and wonders not for the first time why he was ordered to come to her office. He even had to reschedule his PT for this visit. Granted he was not looking forward to another hour in the torture chamber but sitting in a shrink's office is even worse. "Ma'am, why am I here?"
"I take it you want to stay in the Navy?" Billings asks, but continues without waiting for an answer. It was a rhetorical question anyway. "Then this is mandatory. Commander, you suffered trauma we need to discuss. You were tortured and shot. I would like to work with you on that."
Steve can only stare at her. She can't really believe that he would talk to her about what happened? That is just ridiculous. "What do you mean 'work on that'?"
"Well, I know what you went through, and I want to help you overcome that trauma," she tells him, still with the same smile on her face.
"Oh, you're one of those," Steve tells her matter of factly, like it would explain everything.
"Commander, what do you mean?"
"One of those shrinks who think they *know* what it is like to be in combat or to get shot, or tortured, or whatever. When did you experience any violence first hand?" Steve looks at her challengingly and is again glad that JoJo never ever pretended to *know* what he had gone through.
"Well, I don't think one needs to experience a violent act to understand the horror of getting hit by a bullet. I can imagine what it must feel like…"
"Ah, but there is the difference, Captain, you said you *know* what it is like. You don't know anything. You can imagine all you want, but you will never *know*. And don't think this will get me engaged in a lengthy discussion of what it is like. That approach was tried by others long before you. Nice try though." Steve grins smugly at her. As smugly as he dares, after all she outranks him and could get him into trouble.
"Commander, whether you like it or not, we have to talk about it. I have to write a report, and I can't do that without you telling me about what happened. And without my report, well, you won't be declared fit to remain in the Navy. It is actually pretty simple," Captain Billings tells Steve the facts. She knew that he would not be willing to talk, but she didn't expect this kind of irritability and aggressiveness.
"Yeah, it will be, because I don't remember anything about it. I only know what my team told me. I have no recollection of it," Steve says as he looks her straight in the eye, daring her to question the truth behind his words.
"You don't remember what happened in the elevator?"
"And you don't remember what happened in the janitor's office, how you got injured?"
"No, I don't." Steve isn't really lying, he doesn't remember what happened. There are only flashes of memories, but nothing is in order and he has no desire to discuss any of that with a person he knows nothing about.
"Well, Commander other people long before you have tried this approach of not remembering. Nice try though," she throws his own words right back at him. "I don't buy it."
"You can believe whatever you want, but in case you haven't noticed, I was unconscious for three days, and I suffered seizures for almost a week. I lost almost three liters of blood and I died on the scene. If you really think I would even remember a shred of what led to that condition, well, as I said, believe what you want." Steve gets rather miffed at the captain, and his agitated state is not helping with his general feeling of being unwell.
He woke up this morning with a major headache and relentless pain on the right side of his abdomen. His shoulder is still aching mercilessly since last night after Ron rotated it for the first time. He was gentle and it was only a miniscule movement, but it almost made him scream.
"I'm not feeling well; I'd like to go back to my room now. Can you please call someone to take me?" Steve is not above asking for help when he needs it. And now he does need it. The pain in his side has reached a level he can no longer ignore.
Captain Billings looks at her patient and it's pretty obvious that he is in serious pain. He is ghostly white with a sheen of sweat on his forehead. And for the first time she asks herself if it was such a good idea to make him come to her instead of seeing him in his room. "You should have told me that you're not feeling well, Commander. Your doctor told me that you were allowed to travel in a wheelchair as long as you stay in it." Jen Billings comes around the desk and stands in front of Steve who has pressed his left hand on his abdomen. He has bent forward and can't stop a groan. His breath is labored and she can see the intense pain in his eyes. "I'm sorry I made you come here," Jen says as she lays her hand on his left shoulder.
Steve can only nod and closes his eyes, the room is suddenly spinning and he gets a sickening feeling in his stomach. Something is not right. It's so hard to keep his eyes open and remain sitting upright. There is such intense pain in his right side. He can hear the captain calling his name, but his head is so heavy all of a sudden and it feels like his brain is filled with cotton. And someone has dimmed the light; it's getting dark in the room and he has trouble making out the people around him. Where the heck did they come from and why is he lying down and suddenly moving?
Seeing the lights rushing by overhead makes him even more dizzy and nauseous. He must have lost time again, next thing he knows there are hands on him, moving him onto a cold hard surface. They are talking but he can't understand a word they are saying. Someone is pressing on his belly and he screams; that's the last he knows.
*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*
"Commander! Commander McGarrett! Come on, open your eyes," Major Winchester calls out to his patient lying in recovery.
"G'way." Steve answers without even trying to open his eyes.
"Can't do that, McGarrett. Come on, wake up, you're long overdue." Andy is not giving up that easily on his stubborn patient who should have been awake an hour ago.
"Tired," Steve mumbles and hopes that might convince the annoying voice to shut up.
No such luck. "I know you're tired, and you can go back to sleep. But first I need you to come fully awake."
That doesn't make any sense and if he weren't so damn tired he would even voice his opinion, but it seems like a monumental effort and Steve just wants to go back to sleep. "Ugh… what?"
"That's it. Look at me, Commander."
Finally Steve manages to open his very uncooperative eyelids and looks at the guy in front of him. Why the heck am I back with Winchester? "What happened?"
"You tell me, Commander. You collapsed in Billings' office and were rushed to the OR. You were bleeding and by the amount of blood we found in your peritoneum you had been doing so for a few hours. Care to tell me what you did to tear a new hole into the artery I have stitched up twice before?"
"What?" Steve has no idea what his doctor is talking about. Bleeding? That thought makes him come fully alert.
"You must have been in a good amount of pain for a few hours. Why the heck didn't you say anything?" Andy Winchester can't believe the commander kept quiet about the discomfort he must have been in. Free flowing blood in the abdomen irritates the organs and causes severe pain over time. But Andy is not putting the blame solely on McGarrett; the nurses should have known that something was wrong from the elevated temperature and low blood pressure. But for some reason McGarrett's vitals were not taken this morning. An inquiry in that neglect is already on the way, there might even be charges of dereliction of duty for the nurse responsible.
Steve McGarrett was still on the 'close-watch-list', even though he was allowed to attend physical therapy at the therapy department. There was a whole list of tests that had to be done every day on a schedule to catch any problems early on. A simple cursory exam would have shown that something had been amiss with McGarrett this morning.
"It didn't hurt much until later when I was with Captain Billings, and it all went downhill so fast…" Steve can't quite grasp what really happened.
"It's okay. But I still would like to know what you did last night. You have a pretty nasty bruise above your hip."
While Winchester is talking he hangs a new bag of saline on the hanger that already holds two IV bags.
"I woke up last night and needed to use the bathroom…"
"Did you call a nurse?"
"Um, no. I felt good and got out of bed without much problem. I went to the bathroom and everything was fine, but then I got dizzy and… uhm, kind of stumbled a bit…" Steve is blushing thinking about how his aim had been slightly off. "I… uhm, kind of fell against the sink."
"You hit the sink with your side?" Winchester asks sternly.
"Yeah, but nothing happened. I was fine, I mean it hurt a bit." Steve knows that's the understatement of the week, but he WAS fine a minute later. "I grabbed on to the sink and a minute later the dizziness was over and I went back to bed. No big deal."
"No big deal?" Winchester shakes his head at that comment. He knows that types like Steve don't mean to be difficult. They simply can't see that it's not always in their best interest to do everything on their own, not matter how good they might feel. "Commander, there is a reason that you were not allowed to walk around on your own. Your blood pressure is still fluctuating, that is why you got dizzy. With your injuries, every fall could have devastating consequences. What if you had fallen and busted your shoulder? I don't have to tell you what that would mean."
"No. I'm sorry, I just…"
"I know. It's okay, just don't do it again. You will stay in your bed from now on. No wandering around. If you have to go somewhere you WILL call for help. Do you understand me?"
"Yes, I do." Steve is well aware that he could have gotten hurt a lot more than he obviously did. "Why am I here?" Steve asks and motions around the room.
"You're in recovery. You had surgery; we had to repair what your stumble caused. It was not too serious, just a tiny hole next to the stitches. Something like that can happen even without added trauma. The stitches stretch the artery walls and sometimes that causes another leak. But it is unusual to happen after almost two weeks, so I think your fall caused it."
"So, I'm back to square one?" Steve shifts a little in bed to get more comfortable, but that only results in a spike of pain in his shoulder.
"No. As I said it was not that bad. We didn't even need to do open surgery."
"For not being too bad it hurt like hell," Steve grumbles while still trying to find a less painful position for his arm.
"I know. The blood in the abdomen can cause severe pain, adding that to the blood loss and the onset of shock, you were quite miserable. Lucky for you, Dr. Billings knew right away what was happening and called for help. You were in the OR in a matter of minutes."
"Oh, okay." Steve's not happy that he obviously has to thank the shrink for getting away mostly intact. Damn.
Winchester grins at his patient, knowing what he is thinking about seeing the psychiatrist. "We will get you back to your room in a couple of hours. Go back to sleep, Commander."
Even though Steve was able to follow the conversation easily he has no trouble going back to sleep in a matter of seconds.
*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*
"What the heck, Steve? You had surgery? Why is this the first time I hear about it?" Danny looks almost accusingly at his friend.
"It was no big deal, and I didn't feel the need to worry any of you," Steve tells his partner. It really was like that; when they talked on the phone after his third surgery he was fine and didn't feel like sharing his not so smart move of getting out of bed on his own. There was no harm done and he simply didn't want to worry them with something that was already dealt with. And later it never came up again.
"Does Cath know?"
"No. And please don't tell her. I'll do that when it comes up again. Danny, really it was no big deal. No harm done."
"I beg to differ, but okay. Now why would Captain Billings…" Danny looks at Steve and continues after he nods, "be punished? Looks to me like she made sure you got help as soon as possible."
"That's what I thought. I actually went to her and thanked her for her quick reaction. But my physician saw that very differently. She talked to him before ordering me to come see her, but she never asked him if it was okay for me to go to her office. I had only permission to go to PT, and that only under supervision." Steve still thinks it's not fair, she did ask if he was allowed out of bed. She might not have been specific, but to officially reprimand her was a bit much in his eyes. He might not like her, but she was only trying to do her job.
"That is pretty harsh," Danny says as they stop at a red light. "So, how did it go last week?"
Steve looks at his friend; he knows that he had dodged his questions all week. He is well aware that Danny only asks out of concern. "Not good. I total tanked it. I don't really wanna talk about it."
"Okay. But if you ever want to, you know where to find me."
"I know, Danny." They both know hell will freeze over before Steve will talk about his psych problems with Danny. He will talk to his friend about everything, except that. But they are both okay with it.
"I hope it will work out."
"Yeah, me too." Steve's not sure what he will do if he didn't pass the psych evaluation. He doesn't even know if that would affect his status as head of Five-0. After all, they have evaluations every six months as well. But he never had a problem with that. Well, sure you don't, they don't have your classified Navy file. Steve has to grin at that thought.
"What's so funny?" Danny likes to see his friend smile and getting into a slightly more relaxed mood, but wonders what brought about that change.
"Nothing," Steve tells Danny just as they arrive at their destination. Which lets the smile disappear just as fast as it came on.
*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*
"What are we doing here? Danny?" Steve looks at his friend who just put the car in park in the parking lot of 'Makani Kai Helicopters'.
"You and Gracie are finally taking that long promised flight over the island," Danny tells Steve.
"Isn't that great, Uncle Steve? Can we fly out over the ocean and look for dolphins or whales? Please, can we?" Gracie could hardly wait to finally be sitting in a helicopter with her Uncle Steve and looking for any kind of marine life. As soon as they reached the small airport, her iPod was back in her backpack and she was ready to go.
"Who are we flying with?" Steve tries to ignore the excited Grace for a minute.
"Just you and Grace," Danny tells him, but looks a bit strange at Steve whose face he cannot name right now. Happy or joyful would not come to mind.
"Who is sponsoring this? Danny, renting a helicopter for half a day costs a small fortune. Who is paying for this?"
"Will you just stop with the interrogation? If you must know, Stan is paying for it. It was Gracie's wish for her birthday, and he was happy to do it. I provide the pilot and he rented the chopper," Danny says with a smile. By now he's okay with accepting this gift from Stan for his daughter.
"Uncle Steve, can we go now?"
Danny watches his friend looking with an almost pained expression at his daughter and he suddenly gets the feeling that this was a horrible idea. It never occurred to him that Steve might not be able to fly. "Gracie, first we need to meet with Gabby. And Steve and I need to talk to the man who's giving us the helicopter. Okay?" Danny is by now next to the car and helps his daughter climb out of it.
"Will that take long?"
"No, Monkey, not very long. You and Gabby can get some ice-cream," Danny tells his daughter as he waves to Gabby who had just arrived. He had planned to spend the time with her while his partner and daughter were on their trip. Now he is not even sure that flight will happen.
Looking over to his very quiet friend makes him feel a bit uneasy.
"Steve, it's so good to see you well again." Dr. Asano greets Steve with a handshake and a bright smile.
"Hi, Gabby. Thank you, how are you doing?"
"Fine. I heard you two are going on an exciting trip," she says to Grace, but looks questioningly at Danny and Steve.
"Yeah. Steve and I need to clear some formalities with the owner. Could you maybe take Grace for a few minutes, they have a small diner over there. I'm sure they have ice cream or pie."
"Okay, sure. Grace, are you ready for some ice cream?"
"If we must," Grace tells her without a shred of enthusiasm. She doesn't understand what the delay is all about.
Danny watches his two girls leave and turns his gaze over to his partner, who is standing a bit forlornly next to the Camaro. Steve is rotating his shoulder in very small circles. Danny has seen him do that quite a few times, and he's not sure if Steve developed a tick after being injured or if his shoulder is still causing him pain.
"Steve, I'm sorry. Are you okay?"
"You should have told me, Danny."
"Yeah, you're right. I wasn't thinking. I thought with you being cleared for full duty, I thought you'd be fine to fly…"
"I am. It's not that." Steve looks at his friend, and can see that he has really no clue what makes him feel uncomfortable with spending time with Grace alone.
"So, you're not in pain? Your shoulder is okay?"
"Then, Steve, what is it? Why don't you want to spend time with my daughter, which I might add you should see as a privilege," Danny tells his friend, hoping to lighten the mood a little.
"Danny, you know I love Gracie. I'm always happy to spend time with her. Or with the two of you," Steve says and pauses to gather his thoughts. "I told you on the flight to D.C. that we need to talk. We haven't done that yet, Danny."
"This is still about that?"
"Yes. Danny, you said some pretty heavy things. You practically said you don't trust me. You said you wouldn't want to fly with someone like me. You accused me of being unstable and a danger to everyone who comes near me…"
"Now, wait a minute, I never said that. Steve, that is not true." Danny looks at his friend and it's clear to him that Steve really believes that he thinks or at least thought that.
"Yes, you did. You didn't name me, but you said people like Lt. Miller, and Danny, I'm just like him. And now you want me to fly Gracie around. Danny, you make me feel like you're setting me up to fail your test. It's not fair to just throw me into this situation without asking me first. What if I'm not able to fly, maybe I don't feel comfortable flying just yet. You ever thought about that?"
"Steve, this is not a test. I thought it would show you that I trust you completely. With my daughter and to have my back. I'm sorry, Steve. About what I said back then, and about springing this on you like this." Danny can see that his friend is willing to listen to him, so he continues. "I said some pretty dumb stuff back on the base. I've had a lot of time to think about that. Back then I believed what I said, that Miller was unstable and that I wouldn't want to fly with him. I believed that people seeking therapy must be crazy, why would they need a shrink if they weren't?" Danny doesn't like 'annoyrism' face making an appearance so he is quick to keep going, "but I realized that I was wrong about that. I realized that everyone can face a situation in his or her life that can't be mastered alone. And that there is nothing wrong with seeking help."
"I'm still seeing JoJo twice a week for some issues," Steve tells Danny softly, still not sure what his friend thinks about that.
"I know. And I think it's a good thing if it helps you. Steve, I'm deeply sorry that I not only hurt your feelings but also that I put you in a category with delusional people who are *crazy*. I am sorry that I treated you that way. You deserve better. I'm sorry."
This was not what Steve had expected. He knew that Danny was sorry about what he said, but he didn't expect his friend to really think about his words. To think about why people are seeking therapy, and that not everyone who is seeking help is a lunatic. Which was Danny's opinion a while back. But it seems to Steve that he isn't placing everyone in the same pot anymore.
"Yeah, okay. I believe that you have really thought about this. That's all what I ever wanted. That you think about what you said to me. I knew you were sorry, but that was not what this was about, Danny. So, thank you." Steve smiles at his friend, happy to have this finally out of the way.
"Okay. Good. Can we now get Grace and get the two of you on the way?" Danny starts to make his way over to the diner, but is halted by Steve.
"No. Why don't you and Gabby come with us?"
"But the whole plan was to show you that I trust you with Gracie," Danny starts to argue.
"Danny, I know that. But we don't really need to go through that now, do we? You never did not trust me with Grace, did you?"
"No. I trust you with my life and of course with Gracie's. I know you would do anything to keep her safe."
"Then let's all go. Unless you don't like to fly with me?" Steve couldn't quite resist, "maybe you're a bit apprehensive to fly over nothing but water?"
"What? No, you moron! I just thought you might like to spend time with my precious daughter, but fine if you don't want to," Danny rants in mock anger, arms flailing as he marches off to get his daughter and girlfriend. Leaving a grinning Steve behind.
He started to follow Danny when his phone rang. Reaching for the phone he checked the screen before hesitantly taking Dr. Billings' call. After a few moments, he replied, "thank you".
Releasing the call, he smiled in relief. Seems to him that everything is finally back to normal.
*~* *~* *~* Hawaii Five-0 *~* *~* *~*