Storm Ravaged

Chapter 29

Danny was emotionally and physically drained when he pushed himself away from Steve who continued sit on the edge of the bed. "I'm good. It's okay." He felt weak, worn-out and utterly bone-tired by the conversation and no-holds-barred, jointly shared, venting session. They had stopped talking and Danny was surprised to find that he was struggling now to keep his eyes open as he fell limply back into the pillows.

"Thank you. Tired." It was truthfully all he could get out at just above a raspy whisper and not even something he needed to say. Steve audibly sighed before putting a settling hand on Danny's shoulder. His eyes closed on their own then, and Danny felt the bed dip as Steve leveraged himself up to stand mostly on one leg. The awkward position wasn't doing Steve any favors either though he would never complain.

"We should both get some sleep," Steve agreed as he bit his lip to hide the deeper throb pulling at his hips while he almost peg-legged himself carefully back into his own bed. Sliding out had been easier for both his knee and his lower back where now, he needed to creatively find a way or two to inflict less pain upon himself.

The initial test results showed that Steve had a tear to his medial collateral ligament caused by McNamara's heavy purposeful kick to the outer side of his knee. Surgery on his knee was scheduled for later that afternoon but he was also desperate to sleep again from the emotional purge on top of the pain medications and antibiotics being pumped into his system. His knee felt loose and rubbery as he slid the short distance between the two beds and then managed to get both his knee and the IV back to where they belonged without too much trouble. He rubbed his eyes with one hand before looking once more over towards Danny. He was pale but a bit less frenetic, though even in sleep, Steve watched the fingers on his right hand spasmodically tighten before eventually relaxing.

"This is messed up, Danno." It was the only softly mumbled gripe the silent room had the luck to hear as Steve figured out a somewhat comfortable position. They were both going to be down for the count, with feasibly long and painful recovery schedules. It was a mutually depressing thought that wouldn't leave him as he finally drifted off to sleep.

A few hours later, Danny slept through Steve's transfer downstairs for his knee surgery. The orthopedic surgeon came unexpectedly to explain that the operating room had become available much earlier than anticipated. The surgical time had been moved up and Steve was soon on his way well before any breakfast could accidentally be served. And so, Danny woke alone exactly as Steve had during the late night hours to manage his own tray of food and to play boringly with the television remote. It was too soon for anyone to know anything at all and he sighed often as he clock-watched minute by minute. Chin and Kono called from the office at least. The brief break in the monotony was welcome as they carefully filled him in on the crime scenes and catalogue of growing data against the sole living member of the trio and furthered the link to Allen Darien's devious plans. The boon had been in McNamara's apartment where Chin had found a scrap of paper with a partial number to what appeared to be an offshore bank account. Proof was building and becoming even more ironclad as facts were strung together. He and Kono were close to confirming McNamara as the account's owner with his elderly father setup as beneficiary.

"Hundreds of thousands of dollars, Danny," Chin reported with some satisfaction. "The account was established three years ago and the most recent lump sum was deposited in mid-June." Chin didn't need to confirm the date deposited as the same day Danny had been abducted. It was a bit of unnecessary information that didn't actually need to be voiced out loud.

"We'll confirm the routing to the best of our ability. We'll bring in whatever experts we can to try and originate this last deposit from any one of Allen Darien's many holding companies. The case against this guy has been going on for a long time. Alistair Landon could even be key in filling in gaps when it comes to this level of financial detail." Neither he nor his cousin doubted for an instant that the transfers would come from any other person. The account was almost perfectly setup but they had seen it all before; its technological defenses could only be buried so much. They just needed to push a bit more to gain everything that they needed.

That call had ended and Danny had purposefully pushed it from his mind. His teammates were rabid about finding every last shred of evidence to pile on against Allen Darien and Pete Channing. Rubbing a dull ache between his eyes, Danny was relieved when the nurse came in to help him sit on the edge of the bed. He made a perplexed face when he tentatively tried more weight on his left foot.

"Are you okay?" The nurse asked worriedly before they were interrupted.

"He better be by now!" The two were stunned when Ellen Ramirez crutched her way into the room completely unannounced. She was smiling and gesturing a bit with one crutch as she tried to hop-skip her way into the room. And then his nurse was all smiles for her sorely missed co-worker and the two shared a quick, warm hug.

"Ellen! When do you get to come back full-time?" Ellen's shrug came with a wry laugh.

"I don't know Rosie, maybe three weeks but it could be a full month." The two spoke quietly and then Ellen shooed the other nurse away. Her renewed smile was all for Danny as she sat next to him on the bed. She glanced curiously towards Steve's empty bed and Danny explained the little that he knew about the change in plans.

"Good. Doctor Benson is a good ortho and will take care of everything." Ellen stared seriously into Danny's face as if trying to read every line and tiny bit of his changeable expression.

"We have some things to catch up on anyway." After Rosie left and her footsteps dwindled down the hall, Ellen's smile faded a tiny bit as she pushed her hair back behind her ear. "So, do we? How are you doing, Danny?"

In reality, he was much better than he had been in days and she relaxed as she studied his face. "Do you truly feel better?" She made a disgruntled sound though since he was examining her in the same way. She found a need to explain herself before he even prompted her with the obvious question.

"I'm fine, Danny." Ellen was more tolerant than defensive which made him grin as if to continually challenge her statement. Her tone was that of the demanding head nurse as she practically dared him back in return. She poked him hard in the shoulder and he laughed at her expression.

"I am. So tell me how you are."

"It's actually not too bad." Danny indicated his feet as he sat mostly on the side of the bed. His tone was full of an honest sense of amazement since he was sure he'd wind up flat on his face. While it was still bruised, the pain wasn't even close to crippling and Danny was relieved to feel more secure at least on one of his two healing feet.

He wiggled his toes and then tapped his foot gently on the linoleum floor with a pleased grin. "No, it's not bad at all. It doesn't hurt like it did."

"You're still going to be careful. You're going to listen to me this time, too," Ellen admonished him while supporting his good arm so he wouldn't accidentally slip from the mattress. He immediately knew what she meant about his much too spontaneous and dangerous issue with Madison in the Samoan jungle.

"Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time." The words were lame and she shook her head in a strongly remembered feeling of fear and dread.

"Never again. Never," Ellen whispered as tears sprung up in her eyes. Then he wasn't sure if she meant him or herself and how she'd been forced to shoot McNamara in the emergency room. She shook it off before he could say anything and snagged his casted wrist carefully. She gently manipulated each finger and nodded when the swelling wasn't as bad.

"You are going to be careful, Danny, especially with this healing wrist."

Danny sighed to himself as he studied her face. She was simultaneously both far away for a moment and then caught up in his care. He knew instinctively that it was best if he said nothing as she insisted on checking his temperature and vital signs even though she herself, wasn't quite up to par. Submitting to her automatic nursemaid tendencies though, he could barely stop from rolling his eyes as she took his pulse.

"It's good." She lost her pensive look to smile at him. "I don't think you should be walking yet though." Danny was still perched there and testing even more weight on each foot. He knew he would have trouble and pointed towards the wheelchair. But before he could ask Ellen's help in transferring to it, loud voices in the hallway distracted them both. One sounded mysteriously like his partner who should have been well into his surgical procedure.

"I think Steve is on his way back already. That's odd." Ellen had known about his surgery that morning. It was one of the reasons she had come in to the hospital with her husband after spending a good long time at home. After the confrontation with McNamara, Ellen had her meltdown by herself in the parking lot of the hospital while waiting for Ponch to take care of his responsibilities in the chaotic emergency room. He had found her trembling in the passenger seat of their large SUV and then hustled her home for another prolonged bout of hysteria.

An odd eerie calm had followed in the privacy of their house where Ellen had insisted on cooking an elaborate dinner before retreating to a darkened bedroom. Her frenetic penchant for cooking was a catharsis he hadn't experienced in a very long time. But Ponch alternated his attention by giving her the space she needed, but not too much, as he remained within earshot. After cleaning the kitchen, he had tracked her into the darkened bedroom. He had then persistently pulled her into his arms and sat with her in bed without uttering a single word as she purged her feelings of guilt, sorrow and rage at McNamara for forcing her into taking his life.

There was no doubt that she had to do it. Someone had to do it and she had taken up the mantle as the events unfolded around her. But her full validation came at Ponch's gentle reminders of the man's evil tendencies. The fact that Chin Ho had backed her up and supported her first shot helped immensely; not to mention how Mac had beaten Danny, terrorized Christina Hahn, and then threatened their own ER nurse.

"He wanted to kill Danny. He knew he wasn't leaving the grounds, and yet he wanted to kill him." Ellen was continually bewildered by McNamara's final demands and it took a long time for her hands to stop shaking and her mind to calm itself. Some of her questions didn't even make sense to her husband, especially when it came to the ex-lawyer's possible rationale for what he had done.

"I don't know why he didn't want Steve when he was right there. Just two rooms away ... why? Why did he want Danny?" Ponch had to shush her ramblings because there were no reasons for what the man had done except the lure of money and a penchant to hurt other people.

"Maybe he like felt he was losing and killing Danny would be a final win. But it doesn't matter because he was a sick man, Ellen. He doesn't deserve your time anymore or the wasted breath to say his name."

A full day later, Ellen had gotten past it all and she was anxious to see people and to especially check in on both Steve and Danny. Now however, both were surprised when Steve rounded the corner with an aide and yet another hovering nurse. Abandoning the idea of the wheelchair, Danny sank back into his seated position on the edge of bed as he watched the happy group enter the room.

Peeking out from the few bandages near his temple, Steve's already bright eyes lit up even more when he saw Ellen sitting next to Danny on the bed. "Ellen! When did you get here?" But before she could answer, Danny was making a fuss and waving his hand in Steve's direction.

"No, no. Now wait a minute! What happened?" Danny checked the early morning time before using the TV remote to gesture wildly at the injured leg that he couldn't quite see from where he sat. He also didn't quite trust Steve's overly pleased expression.

"What did you do? Did you break yourself too much this time?"

"Did I break ... what? No!" The laugh was spontaneous as Steve welcomed back a more normal banter before proudly tapping the new knee brace. "The two ortho's here conferred and ran some new tests. Seems I don't actually need surgery after all!"

The matching grin from Danny was genuine as they both received some good news for a change. While the nurse helped Steve get settled, he was still talking about what the next few days would be like. "The brace keeps my knee from moving side to side and I have to wear it for a few days. Then Ellen's orthopedic surgeon says I can start a rehab program after to strengthen it again."

Trying to point to his own back, Danny frowned about the obvious discomfort Steve was still in. "Kidneys? What's with that?"

Doctor Ramirez rounded the corner into the room just as he finished asking with a pleased look while bouncing to a halt with his hands shoved deeply into his pockets. He smiled broadly at his wife who beamed back.

"It means simply more rest and another round of IV fluids. There's no lacerations or tears and things are looking up with each test we draw. Steve can probably be discharged tomorrow if things continue down this path. As long as he promises to rest."

"I mean it!" The no-nonsense glare made Steve raise both hands in submission when the big doctor felt the need to repeat himself. "Rest! Complete and utter rest or you will be back here before you can pull the pin on a grenade."

The very disgusted sound from Danny silenced them all for a brief moment and Ponch folded his arms across his broad chest in confusion. "What? What did I say?" Danny was shaking his head and staring in abject horror at the ceiling before almost growling out a mocking sigh at Ponch's question.

"What did you say?" The dramatic second eye-roll made Steve chuckle because he could guess what was coming next and Danny didn't disappoint him.

"You said the magic word. Grenade. So, you don't exactly know how fast that might be," Danny said slyly as Steve burst out laughing. His mood spiked even more as he measured Danny's much improved attitude and clearer eyes. His smile only widened when Danny aimed the remote at Ponch this time to finish with his own style of jibe.

"If he's ever been in your car, I'd suggest checking under your seats for misplaced SEAL toys."

Ellen snorted at the idea and pushed heavily into Danny as she began to chuckle which made him grin more, too. The remarks got Ponch to laugh heartily along with the three and then before his first patient could even think to look glum, the doctor aimed a finger at him matching Danny's own recent tone.

"You. You're top of the list for getting out of here next." Continuing to bounce happily on his toes, Ponch cocked his head at the latest vital signs and test results. He was not so secretly pleased to see him sitting up and sounding more like himself, too.

"Your temperature's normal. First time in days, Danny and you're looking much, much better." The doctor was delighted and a grin remained plastered across Steve's face.

"So, when then?" Danny was anxious to be on his way, though he sensed he had a bit more on his plate to overcome. He was pleased though at Ponch's answer.

"I'd say tomorrow too, however I'd like to see you gain some strength and equilibrium first. You're going to need help, so we'll need to figure out how to handle your walking safely in the short-term." Making a so-so motion with one hand, Ponch added, "but I'd estimate no more than two days now."

"Two days is good. That's even better news," Steve added as he laced his fingers behind his head, leaned back into the pillows, and then instantly winced. His bruised lower back certainly wasn't ready yet for such a grand, stretching move.

"Brilliant," Danny snorted and waved his hand as Steve chuckled out an ouch and rubbed his side. But ideas were already rolling around like pebbles in Steve's head and picking up speed. He was developing the perfect brilliant plan to get both Danny and Grace firmly back on their feet for the one most important unfinished piece of business.


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