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H50 Fic: The Eleventh Hour 12/13

March 3rd, 2011 (07:05 am)

A/N: And the resolution begins :) Thank you!  Previous parts here.

 

HOUR TWELVE

It came back in flashes.

One second, Steve was on the floor, hard cement under his head. The next, he blinked up at the ceiling, and realized that it hurt to breathe. His breath caught in his chest, but he forced himself through it, exhaling with a cough.

Kono's face appeared above him, creased with concern. She looked a little pale, her dark hair tucked hastily behind her ears. She was still wearing her vest, but her gun was holstered. "Just take it easy," she told him.

Steve blinked, rolling his head as he tried to take another breath. There were cops everywhere now. It seemed loud and busy, but distant. Steve turned his head the other direction and saw a pair of paramedics, working fast, equipment spread out on the floor.

"It's going to be okay," Kono said, but she was a bad liar. Steve wasn't sure if it was just the rookie in her or if she was just too genuine to pull of falsehood well, but he knew it wasn't true.

Because the medics were working harder than the cops and Danny's legs were stretched limply out in from behind them and sometimes, Steve just knew things.

"Steve," Kono said, a little more insistently now. Her hand is on his shoulder. "Can you hear me?"

Steve could hear her, but didn't know how to answer. His head was swimming, vision still gray around the edges. The need for oxygen was paramount, but the simple act of breathing seemed like almost more than he could handle. The medics shifted, lifting their burden, and as they moved apart, Steve caught a glimpse of Danny.

His shirt was cut away, a heavy bandage replacing Steve's makeshift one. The bloody remains were still on the floor, in a red heap. Danny's face was stark white now, pallidly cast in the dying sunlight outside. One of the medics was holding a mask over his face, squeezing a bag of air in even, steady motions.

"Steve," Kono kept saying, like it made a difference.

Steve liked to take things to the edge. He believed that any boundary was worth breaking if it got the job done. He accepted that sometimes compromises had to be made.

Not like this.

Lung burning, his back arched as he sucked in hard. It didn't seem to make much difference.

Nothing made much difference. When was he going to learn that?

He closed his eyes, remembering the sound of the gunshot that killed his father. Remembering the slur of Danny's voice before he passed out. Remembering the failures that started this, that might end this.

"Hey!" Kono was yelling now. "A little help over here!"

Somehow Steve doubted it would make much difference as his reality faded again.

-o-

He came to in an ambulance. There was a medic by his side that he didn't recognize. He was older than Steve, a little portly, with warm smile lines around his eyes. He looked at Steve over his clipboard with a warm grin on his face. "They said you were a stubborn one," he said. "But I never would have guessed that you'd have the strength to wake up right now."

Steve's brow furrowed and he tried to speak but found his mouth dry.

"Careful," the medic said, holding up one hand. "You've taken quite the beating."

Steve shook his head, swallowing hard. "Danny," he said.

The medic nodded, patting him gently on the shoulder. "At the hospital already," he said. "Don't worry."

But it was Steve's job to worry. It was Steve's job to keep his team safe. It was Steve's job to make sure they all got out of there alive. "Is he-"

The question was cut off by a sharp pain in his side. He grimaced, trying to breathe through it, but the movement just made it worse.

The hand on his shoulder was steadier now. "You've got some broken ribs," he said. "We've got to be careful for perforation-"

It was almost on cue, the splitting agony that almost made Steve roll right off the table. Because his chest hurt and he couldn't breathe and Danny had to be okay-

Steve was being held down forcibly now, and the medic's voice lost its humor. Steve couldn't make out the words, though, couldn't make out much of anything. The need to breathe reached a horrible pinnacle until his awareness petered out once more.

-o-

This time, Steve woke up on a bed. It was narrow and uncomfortable, the metal sides up as if to hold him in. He was covered with a sheet and wearing a gown, but the front was partially open.

He felt unusually numb, and it wasn't hard to figure out that there was something strong running through the IV hooked to his hand. His entire body felt sore, achy, but his side was particularly absent of feeling.

Looking down with a frown, it took him a minute to realize that there was a tube in his chest, hooked to a drain.

A chest tube. Presumably for a punctured lung. Which explained why it had been so hard to breathe.

That was one answer down. Only a hundred left to go.

Such as, was Blaine being properly watched? Was Malcolm even still alive? Had anyone figured out Blakely's involvement? Where were Chin and Kono? Was the governor aware of what had happened? When was he going to be discharged?

And that didn't even get him started on the important things. Like, where was Danny? Was his partner okay? What was his partner's condition? Had Danny been conscious at all? Had anyone taken the time to inform Grace?

His questions were cut short, however, when there was a movement at the door. Steve straightened, and immediately regretted it, a new wave of pain overriding the numbness of the sedatives in his systems.

Eyes shut, he breathed for a minute, and when he opened his eyes, he found a nurse at his side. She was checking the equipment, but took a minute to smile at him. "How are you feeling?" she asked.

Steve's brow furrowed and he ignored the pain. "Fine," he ground out.

She nodded, a twinkle of humor in her eyes. "I'm sure," she said, moving to the end of his bed and picking up his chart. She made a notation.

Steve shifted upward again, more carefully this time. "So when can I get out of here?"

She looked at him balefully, scribbling something else. "You are aware that there's a tube sticking out of your chest, aren't you?"

Steve glanced down again at the tube, looking back up at her indifferently. "I have to check on my partner."

She put the chart back. "They said you probably would," she commented.

Head cocked, Steve asked, "They?"

"Your team," she said. "They've been exiled to the waiting room, but if you want-"

Steve nodded readily. He'd been in enough medical facilities to know that his best source of information had to be closer to the source. The chances of this nurse being in on Danny's care as well as his own were slim to none, so it was likely she would offer him nothing more than platitudes. "Yes, I'd like to see them," he said.

She smiled again, a little forced, then headed toward the door.

"And I'd like to see my doctor, too," Steve called after her, lifting an arm to look disdainfully at his IV.

She turned at the door, a little bemused. "Of course," she said.

When the door shut behind her, Steve took a moment to gather his bearings. His head was still a bit fuzzy, but it was substantially clearer. He turned his head, looking for the clock. It was pushing midnight, which meant they'd probably been in the hospital for a few hours at least. That was more than enough time to properly treat his punctured lung and would allow the sedatives in his system to abate just enough to bring him back to consciousness.

It would also be enough time for Danny to be fully treated, possibly even through surgery. The gunshot wound, as best Steve could remember, had been complicated by blood loss and time, not the placement of the bullet. Of course, that was assuming there had been no internal damage, which at this point, Steve couldn't be sure of. His own beating at the hands of Blaine had been short lived and violent, and he felt guilty for not better weighing the cost of all the kicks and punches Danny endured throughout the day.

Still, Danny's condition would be better known by now. The likelihood of survival would be a readily known fact, and that was what Steve needed to know at this point.

He glared at the tube in his chest. As soon as he got out of this hospital bed, that was. He had sound first aid skills, but his knowledge of in depth medical procedures was hit and miss. But his breathing felt okay overall. His chest was somewhat tight, but it seemed to loosen with each deep breath he took.

When the door opened again, he was propped up more on the bed, having figured out how to operate the levers. If the change in position left him a little lightheaded, he wasn't about to admit it, and he made himself focus as Chin entered the room.

His father's former partner looked weary, with tired eyes and a somewhat bedraggled appearance. His features were a little gaunt with sleeplessness, but he managed a genuine grin when he met Steve's eyes.

"You're looking better," Chin said.

"Yeah, well, I'm feeling better," Steve said. "So how's Danny?"

Chin clearly wasn't surprised by Steve's abrupt shift in conversation. He sighed knowingly with a wry smile. "No small talk, then," he mused.

"The nurse wouldn't tell me anything and I haven't gotten to see the doctor yet," Steve informed him. "How is he?"

Chin collected a breath, and held Steve's eyes squarely. "Just got out of surgery," he reported. "They removed the bullet without much problem, but had to do an exploratory laporatomy to contain some bleeding in his abdomen. They think they got most of it, but it's sort of a wait and see thing."

Steve took the news stoically. It was as much as he'd expected. Swallowing, he pressed on. "What's his prognosis?"

Chin shrugged a little. "He's critical for now, and they haven't transferred him out of recovery just yet. He's running a low grade fever, but his vitals seem to be rebounding after receiving a couple of transfusions," Chin explained. He shook his head. "That's all they've told me. We just have to wait and see."

It sounded like typical doctor-speak, but unfortunately, Steve had never been one for waiting and seeing. He was the kind of guy who took action, and found things out on his own, even when others told him it couldn't be done.

And he wasn't about to wait and see when it came to Danny's life.

Sitting up further, he tested his limits, fiddling anxiously with the IVs.

"Hey, easy there," Chin advised, coming closer. "You're looking better, but you're not quite ready to be on your feet just yet."

Steve scowled, but settled back down. "Do you know my prognosis?"

Chin lifted an eyebrow. "The only thing they're watching is the punctured lung," he said. "It's improving nicely, but you're going to have to take it easy."

Steve grimaced. "I don't have time to take it easy," he muttered. He lifted a hand, gesturing to the door. "Danny just got out of surgery. I need to be there."

Chin nodded in placation. "They won't let anyone see him until he's out of recovery anyway," he said. "And I don't think he's going to wake up any time soon. You're fine just where you are."

There was logic to that, but Steve didn't particularly care for it. Because he'd just spent the last day handcuffed to Danny, back to back with him when he'd been beaten and shot. After all that, it didn't seem right to trust Danny's recovery to a bunch of doctors and nurses in a lonely room. They'd gotten into this together; they'd get out of it together. Steve had promised, and Danny had trusted him.

Danny had trusted him.

The guilt stabbed at him with fresh vigor.

Collecting a breath, he wet his lips, looking at Chin again. "What about the crime scene?" he asked. "Blaine's in custody?"

Chin settled back on his heels a bit, clearly convinced that Steve was no longer a flight risk for the time being. "You did quite the number on him," he said. "They admitted him to this hospital for treatment. He'll be fine, but is out of commission for awhile."

"He's being guarded?" Steve asked.

"Two officers at all times," Chin confirmed. "He's not getting out of there."

"He already escaped from prison once," Steve said.

Chin shrugged. "We could always cuff him to the bed, but the doctors might find that extreme considering he's still under sedation."

Steve nodded curtly. "Do it," he said.

Chin lifted his eyebrows.

"Trust me," Steve said. "He deserves that - and so much more. The minute he's awake, though, I want to be sure we question him, secure a statement."

Chin nodded. "They're going to call me the minute he shows any signs of consciousness."

"What about the kid?" Steve asked, his mind tracking back the case. It wasn't his first priority, but if he couldn't be there for Danny at that exact moment, he would do the next best thing and wrap this case up so tight that there were no loose ends left to worry about when he woke up.

"Malcolm Barnes," Chin said with a nod. "He's in the ICU, critical but stable. The gunshot cost him a kidney, but the doctors are cautiously optimistic. We've got two guards on him as well."

Steve shook his head. "He's not going anywhere," he reported. "Blaine was blackmailing him into helping. The kid didn't know he had any options."

Chin frowned, thoughtfully. "But why? I mean, why did Blaine go through all this in the first place?"

And that was the million dollar question, even if it wasn't the one Steve really wanted to deal with at the moment. The reason why had crippled him from the very beginning and now, even after all the pieces had fallen into place, it still seemed woefully inadequate. "Blaine was cheated out of some of his money," Steve explained, a little grimly. "He set me up to come find him because I knew the name of the person who snitched on him and he figured that was the only person who could have taken the money."

Chin considered that. "Was he right?"

Steve sighed, running his IV free hand through his hair warily. "Yes," he said. "But I didn't know that."

"So what did you tell him?"

"Nothing," Steve spat, his hackles rising. "I didn't tell him anything. I wanted to protect the witness and I knew that the only bargaining chip I had to keep us alive was to not say anything."

Chin's brow creased, his eyes warming with sympathy. "That was the right thing to do," he said. "It bought us the time we needed to track you down."

"But Blaine was right," Steve said. "It was the witness who took his money. It was him all along who set us up and I protected him while Danny..." His voice trailed off and he looked away, swallowing back the words. He could still hear the sound of Danny's flesh giving way, the small grunts of pain that his partner hadn't wanted to give voice to. Gathering himself, he forced the emotion back, meeting Chin's eyes again with a smoldering resentment. "And the son of a bitch probably got away."

"I wouldn't be so sure about that," Chin said. "Lieutenant Christopher Blakely, right?"

Steve's eyes widened, surprised. "Yeah, how did you know that?"

"Blaine's phone records. Kono picked out the number and tracked it," he explained. "We sent HPD to arrest him an hour ago. He's in custody right now, reportedly crying a river and trying to negotiate some kind of plea bargain for rolling over on Blaine."

For a second, all Steve could do was stare. This was a case he'd unintentionally left open, loose ends fraying for years. Even when it blew up in his face, it had taken him nearly an entire day to put together all the pieces. And now Chin was saying it was over. Completely and totally.

Just like that. In an hour, his team had solved a case that he'd left dormant for years.

In an hour, Chin and Kono had reversed what Danny had spent an entire day suffering for.

More than that. Danny was still suffering.

As hard as it was to understand how this case had gone down, Steve still had his priorities. If he had learned nothing else from his father's death, this much was certain: sometimes the case didn't come first. Sometimes putting away the bad guy, living up to his duty was just a secondary concern. Because if Blaine lived or died, if Blakely escaped or went to prison, none of it made a difference if Danny wasn't okay.

Just like putting Hesse behind bars didn't make the loss of his father any less palatable.

Because Danny was wrong. About a lot of things - not quite everything, but certainly this: Steve wasn't a superman. Steve wasn't even close. Steve was just a guy who believed in something bigger than himself and had never wanted to choose between that cause and the people he cared about. Steve was just a son mourning his father, a cop figuring out how to have a partner. A guy learning how to be a friend.

With a steadying breath, Steve held Chin's gaze with new resolve. "So when can I get out of here again?"

-o-

Being in the Navy had taught Steve to respect authority.

Especially when he had it.

Truth be told, he knew a lot about following orders, but mostly on a large level. Orders to uphold national security and to serve his country at all costs - those were easy. They came to him naturally.

Other orders, not so much.

Danny was big on that kind of thing. Trivialities like police code and the rights of the accused. In the abstract, Steve understood their purpose, but he never much cared to abide by them when they got in the way of bringing someone to justice. He liked orders that made sense, not just in the big picture, but in the minute details of life.

To that end, he respected his doctors and his nurses. A lot. He had no doubt that they were very well trained and that they in fact had his best interest at heart.

That didn't mean, however, that he was overly keen on following their orders. Because, yes, Steve felt a little run down and his side did hurt some and the tube in his chest probably did need some maintenance, but they were being overly cautious. As it was, Steve didn't even need to sign out AMA at this point. He just wanted permission to go to Danny's room. If it made them feel better, he'd be willing to keep the IVs and all other appropriate medical equipment and would resign himself to a wheelchair, but one way or another, he was going to see his partner.

Medical authority be damned. Steve knew the limits of his body and he knew his priorities. He'd had worse than this, and he wasn't sure Danny had, so lying in a hospital bed while Danny was sedated was simply not going to happen. Steve was willing to lobby for permission, but if they didn't accede to his demands soon, Steve would pull the chest tube out and walk up to Danny's room himself.

Or, hobble, as it were. But hobbling didn't sound very resolute, and Steve was set on this.

"He's unconscious," his doctor reiterated with a sigh, repeating herself for the fifth time. "I've checked in on his condition myself. Even if his body was ready to wake up from the trauma he endured, the medication he's on will keep him thoroughly unconscious at least until tomorrow."

Steve drew a breath and tried not to be annoyed. "If he's unconscious, then I can't do any harm," he countered.

"But you also can't do any good," she said. She was probably about Steve's age, with dirty blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail. She had something of a blunt demeanor, which Steve actually appreciated, but she was far too prone to citing rules and procedures for him to take her much more seriously.

"He's my partner," Steve said. "This is what partners do."

She balked at him for a bit. "Act like idiots and endanger one's health needlessly? That's what partners do?"

Steve considered that. He thought about Danny handcuffed to the chair, telling him how stupid he was at every turn. He thought about how Danny cursed him and complained to him and trusted him in the end. Willingly took every blow and wanted more to protect him.

Steve thought about how much he was willing to sacrifice to make sure Danny got out of there alive. How, in the end, he would have turned over on Blakely in an instant if he'd thought it would save Danny's life.

Basically, they'd both acted like idiots and endangered their own health needlessly.

He nodded, holding her gaze. "Yes."

She stared, her mouth opening. Then she closed it, shaking her head. "Fine," she said, lips pursed tightly. "But you're taking a wheelchair and all the IVs stay in. I'll have a nurse escort you up there but if there's any trouble from you or Detective Williams, I reserve the right to sedate you and drag you back down here by force, if necessary."

Steve grinned. Now she was finally speaking his language. "Yes, ma'am."

She rolled her eyes, hanging his chart back up and leaving the room without looking back.

-o-

The problem with winning was that the prize was what it was, and sometimes, it didn't seem like enough.

Steve had won against Hesse. Fended off a full-on assault and kept his brother from escaping. That was a victory in every way possibly, upholding justice and his orders and maintaining the integrity of their national security.

And yet, even when Steve had won, the only thing he got for his trouble was a bullet in his father's skull.

He had won with Blaine, gotten out and put him back into custody, but Steve couldn't forget Danny's blood on his hands, the necessary cost of victory once again.

Even now, as the nurse pushed him to Danny's room, he could feel the vestiges of getting his way wearing thin again. Because he could talk the doctor into anything he wanted but that didn't change what he would see when he finally got there.

She had thoroughly warned him, of course, and not just about his own condition. She had explained to him that Danny wasn't out of the woods yet, that the internal bleeding had taken some time to repair, that there'd be no way to know, especially with the blood loss and the mounting possibility of infection.

There was no way to know if the price of victory would seem worth it in the end.

Danny made a compelling case to the contrary. Usually Danny made his points with excessive talking and grandiose hand gestures.

Tonight, he made it with his stillness alone.

Because there he was. Flat on his back in the hospital bed, hooked up to a myriad of equipment. IVs and leads, even a ventilator tube stringing from his mouth. Steve could probably have made sense of most of it by sheer instinct alone, but sitting in his wheelchair, watching Danny, he didn't really see the point.

Not because Danny wasn't worth it. Not because Steve wanted to give up. But because sometimes Steve had to accept fate for what it was and put his focus on being there, more than anything. He still thought about all the things he wished he could have said to his father, all the time he would have spent with him if he'd known. Steve hadn't realized until the eleventh hour that there was still too much unknown between them, and now it was too late.

It wasn't too late with Danny. Or with Chin or with Kono or with Mary or with Catherine. Steve still had time. Steve still had a chance. A chance to make things better. A chance to say the things that matter. A chance to stop and take the time. A chance to realize what these people meant to him and a chance to let them know, one way or another.

It wasn't about being a superhero. It wasn't even about upholding justice or avenging those he'd lost. It was about being human.

Steve sat there, listening to the sound of Danny breathing through the hiss and whir of the machines. It was a quiet sound, almost lost amongst it all, but Steve needed to hear it more than he needed anything else.

More than he needed answers about Hesse, more than he needed to interrogate Blaine. More than he needed to finish processing the crime scene or worry about his own condition.

This was what partners did, and this was what Danny had been trying to explain to him from the beginning. Steve had always sort of understood, but sometimes the point got lost in Danny's irate tones and frantic gestures. But Steve was an apt study, and he had never failed at anything he put his mind at, and he would not fail at this.

Wheeling himself closer, mindful of his own equipment, Steve settled himself again with a steadying breath. He kept his eyes on Danny's face for a moment, before looking away with a shrug.

"It's not that weird," he said, in defense of the objections his partner couldn't raise. Steve could still hear them, rants about staring and privacy and about how two men with their butts exposed should not share the same room.

Steve looked up again, smiling just a little. "I told you I was going to get you out of this," he said. "What kind of partner would I be if I didn't follow through?"

Danny didn't twitch, just stayed still under the equipment and drugs, but Steve could imagine his response, almost hear the ire in Danny's voice as he ripped into Steve about protocol and bullet wounds and everything in between.

And somehow, the night didn't seem as long as it should have after all.

HOUR ONE

 

Comments

Posted by: ratherastory (ratherastory)
Posted at: March 3rd, 2011 02:34 pm (UTC)
Partners

Aww, Steve. You're breaking my heart, bunny. :(

I kind of want to wrap him in a blanket and feed him tea and pet him and tell him it's all going to be fine. Except he would probably just look at me weird and refuse to budge from Danny's side anyway. *sigh*

Don't worry, Steve! Danny's a tough little haole. He'll be fine, if only so he can wake up and rant at you for being a giant quasi-suicidal freak who got him shot. :D

I can't believe the story's almost over. I feel like I've been hanging off the edge of my seat for months now.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: March 7th, 2011 01:57 pm (UTC)
danny ready

Steve definitely needs some love after this fic, even if he doesn't know how to accept it :)

Hopefully the ending isn't a let down!

Thanks :)

Posted by: Kathy (kitmerlot1213)
Posted at: March 3rd, 2011 02:46 pm (UTC)
McDanno/friends

A gorgeously emotional update!

They'd gotten into this together; they'd get out of it together. Steve had promised, and Danny had trusted him.

Good for Steve for wanting--needing--to be there for Danny and I think his guilt over what happened to his partner is going to weigh heavy on him.

Keep up the great work on this fic :)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: March 7th, 2011 01:59 pm (UTC)
danny thoughtful

It's really all about emotions, no matter how much plot there may be :) That was why I wanted to write this fic in the first place.

Thanks!

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: March 7th, 2011 02:00 pm (UTC)
hawaii family

Dying sunlight is a phrase I've always liked using, so I'm glad someone else appreciates it, too :)

Danny's reaction will be the core of the last part. Hopefully it doesn't disappoint.

Thanks!

Posted by: Flute (sgflutegirl)
Posted at: March 3rd, 2011 07:40 pm (UTC)
H50 - Partners

What a great chapter. I just want to give Steve a big hug and never let go.

Can't wait for the end, but I think I'll be sad that it's over. This has been a fun ride.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: March 7th, 2011 02:01 pm (UTC)
danny gun bw

He really does need a hug.

Thanks!

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