A/N: And now, the denouement. Thanks to anyone who's followed along. Hope you enjoy the conclusion.
We've Got Fun and Games
Danny hated waking up in a hospital, because he always knew he was waking up in a hospital. The mattresses were too thin, the sheets rough with bleach and low thread counts. In the past couple of years, he'd gotten used to all of those things, living like a quasi-transient and all, but hospitals just had a certain atmosphere he could pick up on even if he hadn't opened his eyes yet. A hush. Also, if he'd ended up flat on his back and hooked up to multiple medical lines, that meant something bad had gone down and who wanted to wake up to shit like that? Not him, thanks. Of course, it beat at least one of the alternatives.
He dozed in that half-awake state for some time, too lazy or possibly too drugged to care. He was still on low doses of the good stuff and even if he weren't, he tended to sleep a lot when healing. The sound of a finger tapping the screen of one of those confounded tablet things, an occasional sniff, a TV with the volume turned low but still audible were all things that pulled him unwillingly up and out again. The throb in his left side seemed duller, but his head hurt from sleeping awkwardly on this damned bed.
"At twenty-two square miles, it's the world's smallest island with a population exceeding one million, a figure it reached by 1880," the tinny voice of Alex Trebek said.
"What is Manhattan?" Danny mumbled.
None of the Jeopardy! contestants even tried to question the answer and Danny lamented the state of the world for the fact that there he was half asleep and he could beat the pants off of any of them.
"Hey," someone said.
It hadn't taken too much mental strain to remember what had happened the first time he had woken up, which was a good sign as far as Danny was concerned. He hated having to have it explained to him; when the pieces didn't quite fit, it was always like he was listening to a story instead of his own life. Strange, but he guessed it made an injury more bearable if he could remember how it had occurred. It was his, he'd earned it, he could own it and not simply suffer through it like someone had randomly assigned it to him as a plot point.
A hand, soft and warm, landed on his forearm. By now, Danny had come to count on it being there the same way he'd counted on it out there in the jungle. She'd been by his side for the better part of his hospital stay. One day mostly dead, two and a half days after that he'd been stuck in this damned bed and for all the moments he remembered, she was always there. He didn't know if her dedication was healthy. It probably wasn't, but what he did know was that for the moment she needed to be there and he, well, he owed her his life. She was a tough woman. When it was good and time for her to stop babysitting him, she would.
"Hey," Kono said again. "You awake?"
"Yup," Danny said. He cracked his eyes open, reached his left hand up and rubbed at them. "Awake. How long was my nap this time?"
"Only forty-five minutes. You're doing better, brah."
She said it like she wasn't actually convinced yet, and that was a main reason why Danny didn't have the heart to pull rank and have someone haul her out of there. His memory of Nahale and the happy adventure with fun and games was very real, but it was also very hazy because of the shocked state his body had been in. Kono had lived it in living, bright color and that was probably in some ways worse than leaving pints of blood behind. Danny eyed Kono, happy to see she'd at least taken a shower while he'd Skyped with Grace (which was so not even close to as good as the real deal no matter how the advertisers wanted to sell it) and then promptly settled down for a nap.
"Of course I am," he said after a bit, waving his left hand dismissively. "I told you it's not even that bad."
Whoop, Danny knew the second the words were out of his mouth that they were the wrong things to say. Kono looked horrified. He got it. Out there when they were in the thick of it, Kono had been nothing but competent and tough, but she hadn't had the detriment of time to think, really, outside of tending to his injury and checking on him. Thinking led to bullshit things like guilt and fear and neither of those had any right existing when a person was running from heavily armed idiots. Frankly, he didn't think they had any right existing here, either.
"Hey," he said, pulling his right arm from her touch only so he could shift and grab her hand. "What's this face you've got going on right now?"
They hadn't talked about what they'd survived together, Danny realized, not even in vague terms. Kono was almost always at his side, a vigilant guardian, but when he wasn't sleeping he was being prodded and manhandled by various and sundry hospital staff. He had thought that by letting her sit with him but not taking the time to address the elephant in the corner he'd done her a disservice. She was strong, but she was human. Well, they were alone now and he couldn't take that face.
"It's nothing," Kono said.
"Liar. Tell me. You okay?" Danny could, if he closed his eyes, picture a bullet thudding into her vest and it made him sick with rage at Nahale. Grateful, too, for the man's idiot move of arming and protecting both of them when he should have just killed them outright. "Bruise getting any better?"
"Danny, I don't want to talk about a stupid bruise. You got shot because of me. You wouldn't be lying there at all if you hadn't taken that bullet instead of me."
Danny chewed his lip and stared at her. That was … well, like he said, he got it. He might even feel the same thing if their positions were reversed, but at the end of the day it was a useless thing to feel. He waited for her to sneak a peek at him, then tilted his head to the side and squeezed her hand.
"Yeah, I suppose you could look at it like that. I mean, Jesus, I should have just let you get shot, right?" Danny put no bite in the words. "What was I thinking? From now on, I'm going to let all of my partners get shot right in front of me."
"That … isn't what I said."
"Sure it is." Danny held up his left hand, index finger high, when Kono looked ready to protest. He could see now, that this little speech should have been done two days ago and that error was on him. "Anh, my turn. The thing of it is, you see, is that I wouldn't be lying in this bed right now at all if it weren't for you. I'd be ashes and dust, kid. You cannot go thinking that my taking one was in any way your fault. Nothing good will come of it, and it doesn't really matter because I'd do it again in a heartbeat."
"But, even at the end," Kono said, "Nahale had me, it was you who…"
"No. Now pay attention to me. Knowing our boss and his propensity to get us into ridiculous situations daily, I'm giving you a direct lesson you can employ in the future here. I'm not going to bury this little gem in too many words. And don't look at me like that. Yes, I know I do that and yes, I know you all think so. I happen to believe words are good and people should know how to use them to full effect." Danny paused, took a breath. "Okay, anyway. Shit, you people and your guilt complexes, I swear. Instead of manufacturing some cockamamie blame for yourself, think instead about how you kicked ass, took names and saved my damned life, huh?"
Kono blinked at him a few times, her expression one Danny had to admit he loved provoking in people – the stunned fish look when he'd said something far too astute to contradict and in a way that left mortal brains spinning in circles. It faded quickly, though, as a myriad of things flickered in her dark eyes and he could almost see things sliding back into the right places. Those things never should have been knocked askew, and which he chalked up to extreme stress and exhaustion.
"Yeah," Kono said. Her shoulders straightened, fire lit in her eyes and she nodded. "I did, didn't I?"
Surprise and no small amount of delight filled Danny. Relief, too. This was the first time Kono looked like herself in days, all piss and vinegar and sass, which somehow only served to make her more gorgeous. It was vaguely sickening, honestly.
"You did, babe. Let me tell you, it was beautiful."
"Thanks, Danny," Kono said softly.
Something in the air shifted, settled into a level of comfort that hadn't quite been there before. Danny flicked his gaze to the TV and silently answered most of the Double Jeopardy! clues before the contestants could, they seemed particularly slow on this episode, all the while holding Kono's hand. They sat like that for some time, well past the end of the game show. Danny didn't mind at all, and resisted the urge to close his eyes and take yet another nap.
"So, I'm getting out tomorrow morning," he said eventually.
Technically, anyway. The wound truly wasn't that bad, certainly not the worst he'd ever had, and he'd been fever free for twelve straight hours, so Doctor Kuoha had agreed to release him to recuperate under the steady and calming presence of … Steven J. McGarrett. Danny had figured the good doctor might be good at medicine but wasn't the best judge of character if he'd been conned into that, but he didn't want to say anything and ruin his chances of getting off the Big Island. He didn't have much reason to like it, what with being shot and chased through the rainforest and all. He figured once he got home, he could wiggle his way out of McGarrett's house, because it was unrealistic to think he'd do any actual recovering there.
"Yeah, I know, that's great. Steve and Chin touched down about half an hour ago. They need to wrap up a few things with the Luna case tomorrow morning," Kono said, wrinkled her nose at the mention of Luna. That bastard. "We're all going to fly back together."
"Oh, joy," Danny said, deadpan. "You know I cannot wait for that."
"You might get lucky and Leilani will be working again." Kono's eyes twinkled. "You can flirt your way into a neck massage this time."
"Or everyone might get to witness the Steve McGarrett Effect in full force and I and everyone within a complete square mile around him will be invisible."
Kono laughed, but Danny's brain went back to Nahale. He hadn't really asked about the case. For once in his career, he didn't care so much about paperwork or making sure the evidence was airtight. It was his and Kono's takedown, everyone knew that, but short of briefing Hilo PD about his version of events and ultimately testifying in court, he didn't need any part of it, didn't need the closure. Secretly, though, he'd reveled in learning that Nahale had sustained partial loss of motion in his left arm due to the bullet Danny put in his shoulder. He figured there would have to be a massive inquest of the Hilo Police Department, and IA in every department on the islands would be like rabid watchdogs for months, if not years. Damned scumsucking dirty cop dirtbag drug pusher. Even if he wasn't technically HPD anymore, that sucked for the honest cops, who were the majority.
"I heard you're staying at Steve's for a while," Kono said casually. She tapped the back of Danny's hand with her fingertips, then released it as if she'd just realized they were holding hands.
"It was a stipulation of my release. I had to choose between two evils." He shrugged. "McGarrett squeaked by."
"Oh, come on. He's not here right now, you can admit that you're looking forward to it."
Danny thought of his aggravating partner's house rules and the fervor in which he did pretty much everything in his life, and he was already exhausted beyond his existing exhaustion. Steve was either going to take care of him to death, or go the other extreme and tell him to suck it up like any Navy SEAL would and that if Danny were strong enough he could recover through pure mental will. There tended to be no middle ground with the guy. It appalled Danny that he wasn't really bothered by either option, though.
"It won't completely suck, I suppose," Danny grumbled. "There are worse things than being stuck as Steve's houseguest."
"I knew it," a voice crowed from the corridor.
Danny heard the telltale shuffle-thump of a person on crutches and closed his eyes tightly. Timing, he hated it because he never had it in the right way.
"I knew you loved me. You all heard it, Danny loves me," Steve said as he swung into the room. "He can't wait to stay with me."
Chin trailed behind, and he had his "you are all weirdoes, why do I put up with you?" expression on in an impressive preemptive mask.
Danny winked at Chin, who quirked an eyebrow and headed to the windowsill for a perch.
"I don't recall saying that, McGarrett. You're bearable, that's all. On a scale of one to ten, you're probably a four and a half."
"Ouch. Cold, brah. You're totally a ten in my book." Steve clomped to the chair on the opposite side of Danny's bed to the one Kono currently occupied. His face turned more thoughtful. "Seriously, though, you okay for the trip over? You look a little tired."
"I am tired, but that's not stopping me from getting off of this rock," Danny said. "No way. I expect you've got all the pillows floofed and stocked the fridge with actual people food for my arrival."
"Yes, I said floofed, as in to floof to maximum floof levels. Of floofiness."
"Well, aren't you the pretty little princess?" Steve said.
"Ahem." Chin's throat clearing was pointed and loud. "Not that it isn't riveting to listen to you two bicker for hours…"
Kono snickered, did a poor job of hiding it behind her hand.
"…but I was hoping to maybe get the unabridged version of how you and Kono managed to take out seven armed men and capture a major drug player. You know, the stuff that didn't get in the report."
"Ah, I'm going to give that one to Kono. She's the hero of the story," Danny said.
Kono looked uncomfortable for a fraction of a second, but lost that when she glanced at Danny. She began talking, unusually quiet at first.
Danny fell silent and just watched them all. He saw Steve look at him and then Kono and then back to him throughout the course of the story, could virtually see things clicking away in there, slotting together what not even the words Danny loved so much could express. He saw the pride in Chin's eyes when Kono described the hand-to-hand with Nahale, then the worry when Kono mentioned how she'd lost the skirmish and finally gratitude at hearing about the lucky shot Danny had taken to bring the guy down. Danny nearly groaned when Steve perked up and actually preened a little when Kono said she'd used techniques she'd learned from him. Like the guy needed any kind of ego boost whatsoever.
Danny's mind wandered again, probably the drugs or having lived it once or whatever. He was a city boy. He liked the hustle and bustle and concrete, horns blaring and obscenities being shouted for minor transgressions. Sure, he was getting used to the slower pace of island life, was perhaps becoming mellower himself. This was mostly due to people here who were the closest thing to family away from family he'd ever had, these people in the room with him right now. That didn't mean he didn't sometimes daydream about Jersey, New York and, hell, the whole Eastern Seaboard. Before Five-0, though, he'd been a miserable fish out of water, ostracized by his fellow officers of the law and he'd worn his otherness like a badge and shield. He was man enough to admit both of those things, and to admit that having his little foster family and Grace made Honolulu a reasonable facsimile of a busy city and O'ahu in general tolerable.
He caught Kono in one of her frequents glances to him as she continued to elaborate on their ordeal, eyes carrying ghosts that would continue to fade with time. Danny rolled his eyes when Steve went over the top enthusiastic at something undoubtedly related to his own insanity. One beaming smile from Kono back at him, and Danny's heart was fit to burst. He guessed that in the grand scheme, he was a pretty fortunate guy.
Not that he'd ever say that out loud.