Storm Ravaged

Chapter 27

It was very late and very dark. The excitement of the day had died down long ago and virtually everyone had left including the HPD guards that were no longer required to watch over Danny or Pete Channing. It was oddly still after such a chaotic day and almost unsettling as if he were missing something by the utter peace of it all. Even Chin had taken care of everything down to the most minute of tasks and finally gone home. Kono had also wrapped up the long effort to catalog each site as a crime scene. Peace was a good word but he wasn't sure it applied to him yet.

As tired as he was, Danny was unable to sleep. The hospital room was sparsely lit and he was nearest the window and it was black outside with no moon. The curtain that divided the two beds was pushed aside, but the one curtain closest to the door was partially drawn to block the stray bit of artificial light from the corridor. The once empty second bed was now occupied by Steve but he hadn't moved in hours. Not a muscle twitched nor a noticeable change in breathing. Doctor Ramirez had finally run the exhausted and injured man through MRI's and ultrasounds from stem to stern. His knee was braced and would be operated on the next day by the same orthopedic surgeon that had corrected Ellen Ramirez's broken ankle.

Ellen. Chin had told him what she did, too. Danny didn't know if he was shocked or simply in awe. Oddly though, she hadn't stayed around in the hospital to see any of them. Ponch had remained long enough to calm and direct his staff. More than long enough to make sure Steve was well on his way on the right path and that Danny was back in his room. Then he too, had left the grounds as quickly as possible and then Ellen's actions hadn't seemed so very odd at all. Thinking about it now, Danny firmly believed that just maybe he and Ellen Ramirez were on identical pages that evening.

Danny couldn't hide from any of these thoughts that kept rounding back and forth in his head. Next to him, Steve continued to sleep. Fluids were being pushed as well as a healthy dose of antibiotics and his kidneys were being assessed for damage due to traces of blood in the latest urinalysis results. Four stitches were neatly placed along his temple and into his hairline; two steri-strips were almost centered between his eyes where he had head-butted Brian McNamara.

His hard-headed friend had a mild concussion and was being dutifully watched, but it was clear that the man was purely run down clear off his feet. Danny alternated between staring at the foot of his bed and then glancing over to Steve. His black-eye was on the opposite side and so, Danny could see the unblemished left eye quite well. His face was lax in sleep and and except for the steady beep of the machines, nothing stirred in the room and every one of Danny's fidgets seemed overly loud.

Danny now had a good idea of his team's week-long trial of trying to locate him. He understood from Chin how Steve had pushed and not rested with his hopeful anxiety only becoming worse once Doctor Ramirez had notified them of the surprising news. He'd only slept for the few hours on Sunday that the doctor had kicked them all out of the hospital upon their return. Then Steve had pushed again after Danny had recognized McNamara.

He made a face and couldn't help looking over at Steve yet again. Quietly, Danny pushed off the light sheet and swung his legs carefully over the side of the bed. He winced as his bandaged feet touched the floor and the one broken rib pulled and complained at his uneasy restlessness. He was a bundle of nerves and the supposed peace around him only made it worse. Edging down to the foot of the bed, Danny sat in the sliver of light from the corridor and saw just enough of the occasional person walking by as they did rounds or cared for other patients. There was a faint hum of speech and sometimes soft laughter from the night staff all of which he used in an attempt to distract himself.

"You shouldn't be up." Ever so quietly, the night nurse had snuck in the room without him realizing it. "Do you need anything?" She was whispering as she came to him first before checking Steve's vitals.

Danny shook his head as she took his blood pressure and temperature from where he sat perched. The truth was he didn't know what he wanted or needed.

"Temps almost normal," she whispered with satisfaction. "Antibiotics are doing their job. How are your feet feeling ... your wrist? Do you need any pain medication?"

Again, he shook his head and the nurse seemed to solve his dilemma for him. "Side chair or do you want to hang outside of here in the hallway or even the visitor's waiting room for a while? It's late and no one is there. You'd have it to yourself and there's a television."

She motioned to the comfortable deep chair in the corner of the room first and Danny immediately refused.

"Outside," he whispered. The chair suddenly seemed ominous in the dark and he realized he needed light. He also wanted to walk and thought he could at least try but the nurse was merely amused. "Cane or walker?"

"Sorry. Nope, not yet." Danny's suggestion was met with a tongue in cheek smile as the nurse snorted softly. She practically glared comically at his injured wrist which got him to at least grin.

"But wheelchair ... yes and consider it done." With an eye and ear towards Steve, the nurse pulled the wheelchair over and the two snuck out quietly for the brief sojourn. Danny felt some of the tension leaving after she sat him in the empty visitor's lounge under the large television. He was within earshot of the nurse's desk and he found himself listening to the busy hum of activity. With remote in hand, a mindless infomercial jabbering overhead, and a cup of hot tea on the end table next to him, Danny closed his eyes.

He slept sitting up until almost dawn when the same nurse roused him to insist he get more comfortable. By then, the sun was starting to peek on the horizon and the hospital room held a dull brightness.

"Where did you go?" Steve was red-eyed from sleep and his voice still held a gruff roughness to prove he needed even more rest. He had woken a short time earlier and had been more than surprised by the empty bed near the window. He expected to see his partner immediately upon waking since he hadn't actually communicated with him since being in the emergency room. Steve had been asleep when transferred upstairs and now .. he woke alone. He stared at Danny as the nurse wheeled him in closer to the bed.

"Just in the corridor. I couldn't sleep." The excuse seemed reasonable but the fact that Danny looked exhausted and distracted aptly countered it. Steve frowned at the still quiet nature that didn't exactly fit well either. There had been a glimmer of the old Danny downstairs and now it seemed gone once again.

"You should both try to rest now - go back to sleep!" The nurse admonished them once Danny was back in bed with feet elevated for comfort on two pillows. She left on those words as silently as when she'd first entered the room.

"How do you feel?" Danny wanted to know as Steve rubbed at his lower side. The shrug was all he needed to know about the continual dull throbbing ache, and he huffed a disgusted sound in reply.

Steve was doing his thing and Danny felt a flicker of irritation. The thing where he studied Danny even though he was sure his face was an unreadable mask. He was being thoroughly weighed and measured, so he sighed and aimed a pair of blue daggers back at his nosy partner.

"I'm fine, too. Perfectly fine, Steven." Danny may have said it too quickly or with too much vigor for the change in Steve's face. But oddly, there wasn't a smile or any other indication of another question coming, or even an argument against what he said. The unexpected next word was soft and came with an accepting nod. It completely disarmed Danny as he hesitated ever so briefly to squirm back into his pillows.

"Alright."

"Alright, then," Danny repeated definitively as he closed his eyes and willed himself to sleep. He couldn't hide the tiny smirk that leaked out from his lips at Steve's nearly final, quiet words.

"But, if you ever wanted to talk. I'm here." Persistently said and just one shade below being a plea.

"Bull-dog is a better nickname for you," Danny muttered under his breath and his eyes rolled behind closed lids. Go to sleep, he demanded his body to relax as he tried to put himself under.

"What was that?"

"Nothing" He almost did say something though. Except he didn't know how to put what he was feeling to words. When he tried and with the sun coming up on another beautiful day in paradise, it sounded dumb in his own head.

However, there was one niggling half memory and with his eyes still closed, Danny asked Steve but was wholly unprepared for the very hesitant reply.

"There is something else. It has to do with Grace ... I think." He tried hard but couldn't put his finger on it even though Rachel's voice ran through his head. He knew at one time; in fact, he knew what was wrong fairly recently but hadn't truly digested it. And now, he couldn't pick through the hazy, nonsensical words. So behind closed eyes, Danny made a face as Steve waited for him to find the right way to ask.

"I missed something with her and it was very important. What did I miss with Grace?"

Steve deflated all at once. His hesitation was entirely emotional because he'd been with Grace that very day. She'd been distraught and completely inconsolable. It marked the beginning of her frightening withdrawal and the overwhelming onset of Rachel's fears. He looked over and saw that Danny's eyes were still closed and then studied his own fingers. Danny had missed an entire weekend with his daughter but June 16th in particular.

That one very special day.

The reminder was not going to be received easily no matter how it was said or by the positioning he might try to use. Steve clenched his fist tightly and then willed himself to relax. There was only one way to say it and that was plainly.

"Father's Day," Steve whispered it as he looked back up and directly into Danny's rather stunned eyes. Steve totally understood the importance of it; he understood Rachel's gesture for that extra father-daughter weekend which the two had entirely lost. He felt a moment's anger at Danny's past use of 'borrowed time' because now he understood that phrase in a brand new and totally unfair manner. He contributed to it this time in the worst possible way. What had happened practically gave credence to Danny's sometime paranoia about his essence of simply 'being'.

All of it was made worse by Grace herself. She had been devastated because not only had she asked for the weekend with her father, she had crafted a special gift for Danno ... and Steve had witnessed that loss, too. They were both victims and it wasn't their fault but he knew that would be a poor validation, so Steve didn't even try to suggest it. With a deep breath, Steve answered the question truthfully and watched the rest of the remaining mental gaps fall into place in his partner's brain.

"You missed Father's Day with your daughter, Danno. You had plans together for the entire weekend before any of this happened," Steve's voice faded on a regretful hitch. "I'm sorry." He was sincere in that, too. He was very sorry and he wasn't sure he could fix it, but he would try as he watched Danny's face fall through too many emotions to finally settle on guilt.

"No way, because this was my fault from the beginning. A threat meant for me that got to you," Steve was still whispering but his voice had become more rough with a note of personal anger for Danny's reaction. The guilt was not for him to hold and Steve wasn't about it have it land there. He ignored Danny's attempt at a retort and then the flare of pain as he rolled onto his hip so he could make his point extremely clear.

"You are forgetting one very important thing. D. Day was about you as a way for Darien to get to me so I would keep my mouth shut when called to the stand. All of this is my fault, Danny, because I wasn't smart enough to know better."


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