Storm Ravaged

Chapter 24

Steve's eyes were closed and except for the slight pinch of his forehead, he almost appeared to be asleep which couldn't be farther from the truth. He was listening to everything going on around him. He was avidly interested in and he distinctly heard each independent person's voice, including Chin's very organized and authoritative requests or demands.

He also felt every poke, prod and sometimes not so gentle but apologetic jab from the EMT's that were working on cleaning his two head wounds and stabilizing his knee for transit. An intravenous line was already in the crook of his arm and a blood pressure cuff was wrapped permanently around his upper arm. Evidently, neither was quite yet pleased with his vital signs as he sensed one of the men moving alongside to take yet another reading.

'Sir? We're going to move you to a stretcher."

More than an hour had passed by and they were still at the hangar. He was sitting in the same spot in the hallway where Chin had so wisely insisted that he remain and most happily, Brian McNamara was still out for the count. Adrenalin had taken some time to wane and now, the reality of his physical status had crept into the picture.

Airport security, two ambulances and local police swarmed both in and outside the building. The mechanic who had been so quick to give up the shotgun was found hiding in a parked Cessna and was being questioned. Nervous and apologetic about the accidental discharge of the weapon, he was leaning up against a police car in the back parking area. Every so often, he gestured often towards where Steve and Chin were inside the hangar's hallway as he tried to explain his actions. The Japanese women and the little girl were long gone by that time, though. Having just returned from an exciting helicopter tour, it was more than obvious that they weren't involved with any part of Allen Darien's connections. Through their tears, their statements were taken and they were eventually allowed to leave the property.

Steve was thoroughly relieved to have Chin stepping in to manage and make decisions so he keep a judicious ear on what was happening with McNamara across the five foot gap from where he sat. A second medical team was focused on the criminal's triage while Chin and no less than three other local officers kept a nearly rabid eye on the ex-lawyer. From what he could hear, McNamara had two cracked ribs from connecting with Steve's booted feet and subsequent backwards fall down the short fight of stairs. The cut on his forehead would need a few stitches and there was a definite concussion from hitting the back of his head into the concrete floor after his jaw had rebounded off Steve's fist.

McNamara was a dirty fighter; and while Steve obviously could adapt to meet the man head-on ... quite literally ... it certainly wasn't his style. However, the discussion over the status of the man's jaw almost made Steve smirk because they couldn't decide if it were indeed fractured or dislocated. The swelling was already quite significant and a delicate probe by one paramedic had discovered quite a few loose or chipped teeth.

"Steve?" Chin's low voice broke through his deep concentration as he listened to the happenings of McNamara's continued triage and the murmured ongoing discussion from his newest security detail.

"Steve? How are you doing?"

He forced his eyes open and then winced in confusion because the lid of his right eye didn't quite cooperate. He was also already flat on his back, covered with a blanket and Chin was looking straight down into his face. He heard the EMT's warn him of the move to a stretcher, yet he had missed it completely. Now on top of that, he was having trouble focusing his eyes on Chin's much too blurry face so instead of answering, he responded with his own question.

"What's next?" He went to rub the ache in his forehead, remembered the bandage, and then changed his mind. The fact that one of the technicians stayed his hand from rising too far, also helped.

"No, sir. I wouldn't do that, we just got it to stop bleeding," the man advised gently as he tucked Steve's hand down back. Then he frowned again in exasperation as Steve freed his hand once more to lift one finger questioningly in the air.

"Wait a minute. Didn't you get hit?" Steve tried harder to focus and finally saw the damaged area on the vest near Chin's shoulder. Before he could answer, Steve was plucking at the same EMT's shirt to get his attention.

"He got hit. Did someone check him out?"

"Yes, and yes again." Rotating his shoulder freely, Chin demonstrated just a tiny hitch. He was wearing his vest loosely because he had already taken it off and been examined.

"The vest did its job and I've got nothing but a bruise by my collarbone."

Both paramedics nodded in agreement as they continued readying Steve for transport. "He's fine, sir. We're almost ready to move out so we're going to focus on you now."

But Chin's face was oddly placid as he took notice of Steve's barely focused expression before giving him the requested update. "We've secured permission for a medical team and these four officers to travel with us back home. We'll be leaving in about thirty or forty-five minutes once the plane is ready and the tower clears us. I'll make arrangements for Kamekona's chopper to be transported today or tomorrow."

In what seemed like a miraculous move, Chin had made preparations for them all to leave in a smaller aircraft versus the even smaller helicopter with additional security to keep McNamara in line. And with two men requiring medical care, he'd also managed to include two of the emergency medical technicians.

"Good," his relieved sigh was genuine and he blinked his eyes, surprised again when he had to struggle to re-open them. Wincing from a throbbing in his head, he found his friend staring at him much too closely. "I'm fine. Thanks, Chin."

"You got rattled pretty good, brah." Arguing against the easy, automatic choice of words, Chin knelt down by Steve's shoulder. "A bit early for Halloween though."

He added the last bit as a light joke but was worried about the crisscrossed white steri-strips and blood-dotted gauze on Steve's temple and then virtually between his eyes from the vicious head-butt. The darkening bruise was already spreading and Steve would have a true black-eye within hours as some of the resulting edema advanced towards his right eyelid making it puffy. Chin had also easily noticed the bleary unfocused eyes made worse from fatigue and tension, and he couldn't help his own deeply stressed exhale.

"Though this wasn't exactly the way to do it, it's about time you had a bit of a break," Chin added as he counted the hours mentally from the day before wondering if Steve had actually slept since Sunday or even Monday. But Steve only snorted out a soft chuckle and then grimaced for another ache.

"How's his back?" Seeing even more discomfort, Chin asked the EMT's for their opinion above that of the injured man.

"Ten to one his kidney is at least bruised. We can't tell much here unfortunately."

Steve frowned because the low, below the belt punches had caused a deep ache in his back and abdomen. He felt as if he'd been hit with a cement block from McNamara's powerful and much too quick, well-aimed punches. They were being careful about what they were finding during their triage but lacked the tools to thoroughly assess. "How's the pain? And how is your knee feeling?"

"It's there," Steve admitted about the dull persistent ache in his lower back. There was nothing to be done though until he got further examinations at the hospital. "The knee's better, but its got some issues too."

Stabilized now, he would need an MRI to assess the true damage done by McNamara's street-fighting techniques. His entire knee was swollen, he was unable to bend it and the paramedics had flatly refused his tentative request to try it out. Gesturing tiredly towards the two technicians, he tapped the top of the soft brace they'd wrapped around his knee for Chin's benefit.

"The boys here think the meniscus is torn or at least the ligaments are damaged."

The most anyone could perceive of Chin Ho's rising anger was a tightening of his lips and a subtle narrowing of his eyes. He glanced once towards the downed ex-boxer out of an ingrained habit. His quiet nature became even more brooding, but you needed to know him in order to see it. Heavy-eyed, Steve peered up at the overly subdued man. They were both upset by the morning's events and wholly unable to get Danny's damaging captive photograph out of their minds. The trio, and especially Brian McNamara, had been brutal in keeping their friend trapped and with no options for escape. After experiencing the man at full capacity, it did Steve absolutely no good at all to know that McNamara had actually been 'careful' in what he'd doled out to his partner. That only meant he had been more demonic and methodical in hurting Danny at his whim. Because of that, Steve inherently knew it had happened often and was the reason for the extreme compartmentalizing that Doctor Ramirez had described.

With some effort, Steve pushed it all away to give Chin a lop-sided grin. They had their man in custody and regardless, Danny was now home and recovering safely at the hospital. "Hey, at least I know of a decent cane I can borrow."

Trying to lighten the mood, he kiddingly slapped the side of Chin's leg with the back of his hand, pleased with his own joke. The unexpected comment caught the man utterly off guard and Chin's expression faltered but then he had to smile. "That's low, brah! Really low!"

Steve considered that too for a moment before shrugging. His chuckle became a deeper laugh which he suddenly couldn't quite control. "Yeah, you're right. It just may be."

There was another long moment where Chin simply stared at Steve as the inane smile and a ragged laugh continued. "As of right now and after that comment, I think you should take the Governor up on his suggestion," Chin's voice mocked Steve's deeper laugh that ended on a tired and very pained snicker.

"Denning? What's that?" Still smiling and finding his joke more funny than it probably should be, Steve was curious since he didn't actually remember anything from earlier that morning. His humorous smirk didn't quite leave even when Chin reminded him with an overly patient eye-roll that wound up becoming his own short chuckle.

"Sleep. You're obviously over-tired."

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