Author's Notes: Just a reminder… There is not an MD, RN or any title after my name and while I have done some medical research (one of my favorite things to do) I know nothing of poisons, overdoses, or the proper treatment. This is all from my tiny little brain… so treat it as such, please. In other words, kindly suspend belief… we are dealing with fiction here!
This is the final chapter of this "short" tale which turned out much longer than I had anticipated! I hope you have enjoyed it. Thanks so much for all the comments and reviews. They are appreciated so much. Also, to the "guest" reviewers, I appreciate your comments as well. I am sorry that real life crept in and put a kink in my writing time, making this so late, but well... I guess that's life. Mahalo to everyone!
DISCLAIMER: Sam read the A/N above and reminded me that with the research we have done, if anything suspicious happens to anyone we know that we would be the first suspects. And… well, she's probably right. :)
Previously in Chapter 10 …
"We've got a Code Blue," Dr. Hwang yelled out the opened door.
Grover watched from the door how the doctor bent Steve's head back and inserted a tube down his friend's throat. It only took a moment to expertly place and check the breathing tube and then Lizzy started bagging the unresponsive commander.
The leads were reattached to the EKG and Grover was shocked to hear a wailing sound. The last he saw, before he was pushed out of the door by more medical personal, was Dr. Hwang placing the paddles on Steve's chest.
Kea Akua Lapu
The entire team, along with Duke and Kamekona, who had heard through his amazing grapevine, had gathered in the ICU waiting room, half sitting quietly; the others either pacing or staring at the wall. Danny was pacing, playing scenes over and over in his head; first of finding Dr. Connor dead in the airport bathroom and then being hit with the realization that if the doctor was dead, more than likely Mendez was headed to the hospital to go after Steve.
After hearing Lou's account of what had gone down in Steve's ICU cubicle, Danny's guilt-meter had sky-rocketed off the charts.
He should have listened to his partner.
Period. No questions asked.
Instead he had disbelieved, argued and pretty much called Steve a liar. Or worse… someone who had a total break with reality. All because of very real hallucinations which had been caused by the drugs he had been hit with.
Danny huffed in frustration and sat back down in one of the uncomfortable chairs and looked over at Lou who obviously wasn't faring too much better.
Grover had been physically removed from the doorway by a nurse and she hadn't let go of his arm until he was in the waiting area, on the opposite side of the double doors.
But his last view of Steve hadn't been a positive one. He could still hear the eerie sound coming from the EKG when he should have been hearing a heartbeat.
That was over an hour ago and they hadn't heard anything since. Grover was taking that as a good sign although whenever the double doors would open, they could see nothing but grim-faced employees scurrying around inside. But he was still hoping the saying "no news is good news" would hold true for the day. Because what he had seen and heard earlier had been bad… very bad.
The clock on the wall in the waiting room was inching closer to two hours before the doors opened again and Dr. Hwang came out. Everyone turned in his direction when he dropped into one of the vacant chairs.
Hwang stretched out his legs and sighed, but didn't mince words and came right to the point. "We've got him back… for now," he told the group and then shook his head. "But it's been a rough afternoon. He is stable but the next few hours may be tricky. Normally digitalis is taken in pill form… not mainstreamed. We've had to shock him two separate times to keep his heart beating." The captain shook his head. "We're in for a rough night… and before you ask, he can't have visitors right now."
"Doc—" Danny began, only to be quieted by the doctor's hand making a stop motion.
"I know you want to stay. I get that, but right now we've still got a nurse and a PA in there monitoring him. They need space to work" Hwang explained his reasoning. "And the commander is sedated so he won't know if you're out here or in the room with him."
"So what happens next?" Lou asked.
"We keep watch and take care of each crisis as it comes up. We are flooding him with IVs to flush the drugs out of his system, that is our top priority right now," the doctor told the group the plan for the next hours. "But keep in mind that even that treatment comes with the risk of creating more imbalances. And when he's a bit more stable we still need to drain the abscess on his kidney."
"Captain, we need you," a PA called from the opened door.
He nodded and stood, before heading back to Steve he glanced around the group once again. "We'll keep you posted. Don't give up on us yet."
Danny watched him leave and then jumped up from his chair where he had sat when the doctor came out. Running a hand over the back of his neck, he sighed. "Wish we could at least see him," he muttered to no one in particular.
"It looks and sounds pretty crazy back there," Kono commented. "The doc is right, we'd only be in the way."
"Yeah, that's what worries me," Danny replied.
Chin stood and stopped Danny before he began pacing again. "It's better than the alternative. There's no sense in all of us sitting around and, I, for one, would rather be doing something useful. Danny do you have Steve's phone?"
Danny frowned in thought. "No, why would I? Lou?" he asked, turning around.
"Last I saw it was on the bedside table. Before he got really sick, Steve was using it."
"I want to contact Steve's Navy friend with an update," Chin explained. "Tell him that we really do have Mendez." He walked toward the double doors. "Maybe I can get someone's attention." He slid through the door and moved closer to Steve's cubicle, hoping to see Lizzy, but once back there, his eyes were transfixed on Steve.
The sheet was pulled to Steve's waist and his chest was covered in more EKG leads than Chin had ever seen on one person. An IV was in place ear his collarbone and he still had the tube down his throat that Grover had told them about. He was covered in a sheen of sweat and looked all but lifeless although Chin could see and hear the beeps and blips of the monitors on the wall. While he waited, Lizzy turned around and saw him.
"Hey," she said quietly, moving toward him. "You really shouldn't be back here right now," she said sympathetically.
"Yeah, I know, but did you see Steve's cell in there? I need to pull someone from his contact list."
"Let me check. It was on the table earlier. I see it, just a sec." She squeezed around the physician's assistant who was leaning over Steve and reached for the phone. Sliding back out, she handed it to Chin. "We'll take care of him," she promised.
Chin nodded and smiled at her. "I know you will. Thank you."
She watched as his eyes were drawn back to his friend and she said, "I have to apologize to him when he wakes up."
"When I went into his room, I began yelling at him that he had killed the doctor and I wouldn't listen when the commander told me who that man was. And then after I learned it really was the guy who was after Steve, I realized that if he hadn't killed the man, I would probably be dead now, too."
Chin nodded at her once again. "And Steve will only tell you that he was just doing his job."
"Maybe so, but I'm grateful and really sorry I doubted him."
"Yeah, me, too," Chin agreed. "And we all probably have some apologies to make. I'll let you get back to work… and I'll be back later."
Three Days Later…
"Commander? Are you trying to wake up?"
The words hit his sluggish mind and reverberated around for a moment while he thought. Steve understood the words, but in the end he decided he really didn't want to wake up. The half-awake state he was in was painful enough; no need to add to it.
Steve couldn't really remember what had happened, but from the smell that assaulted him, he knew he wasn't in his own bed.
The word came unbidden into Steve's consciousness but he really couldn't recall why he was there. Nor did he care. His mouth was dry and pasty but he knew that even if he could swallow, it would hurt as his throat felt like it was lined with razorblades. Everything ached but he realized the worst was the pounding in his head. Even with his eyes closed he felt like he was on the deck of a ship trying to withstand the pitch. That thought caused his stomach to somersault and he bit back a groan of agony.
"Commander? Are you with me?"
Well, maybe that groan escaped; he wasn't too sure. He felt a soft hand on his forehead and it felt cool against his sweaty skin. Maybe he should wake up and see what was going on.
Nah… that required? too much…
"Hey, Liz, how are things?" Lou asked when the nurse came out of the double doors of ICU.
"Promising," she replied when Grover and Danny stood up to meet her. "I told you he would probably start to wake up in a couple of hours and he is trying. I thought you two might help him along when he does. Want to come on back?"
"About time," Danny good-naturedly complained. "Was beginning to think he was going to hibernate all winter."
It was late in the evening the third day after Mendez had tried to kill Steve. The first 36 hours had been tense with the staff attempting to combat every obstacle Steve's drug laden body had thrown at them. Finally they began to see progress when his electrolytes slowly fell within normal ranges. They began to think he stood a chance to come out of the trauma whole. During that time, his team remained in the waiting room and after the critical hours passed, they had only been allowed to see Steve for short visits.
Earlier that day, they had taken Steve to surgery to drain the abscess on his kidney but until now, he hadn't been aware of his surroundings. They hadn't been able to talk to him since the incident with Mendez.
"Hey, Sleepyhead," Danny said, leaning over his sleeping partner. It had been a couple of hours since he had seen Steve and he was amazed at how much better Steve appeared to be in that short time period. After surgery he had looked pretty sickly and pasty but now, at least he had some color back. Steve lay on his right side with pillows placed behind his hip and shoulders to keep him in position. Tubing snaked out beneath the bandage on his lower back leading to a drainage bag beside him.
"Take a load off, Danny," Grover said, bringing a chair into the cubicle. Liz followed him with another one.
"Hopefully he will wake up on his own," Liz told them. "The doctor had me cut back the meds until we can assess his mental acuteness."
"So, he's gonna wake up in pain?"
"No, of course not, Captain Grover. We'd never do that to him… I just want him awake enough to answer a couple of questions before I give him the next dose of pain meds. We need him comfortably asleep and not knocked out."
"He hasn't been awake at all since he collapsed, has he?" Danny asked.
Liz shook her head. "No, not really. Before surgery this morning he responded when I asked him to squeeze my hand, but he wasn't truly conscious. Also, remember he still has some residual drugs in his system. He will probably still be confused when he wakes."
"Any time, Steven," Danny said and looked at his partner just in time to see a frown marring his features. He squeezed Steve's arm. "Hey, Babe, you with us?"
…Sleepyhead… Danny… Captain…pain… Steven…
He heard voices all around him but they weren't making any sense. Who collapsed? Who was confused?
Oh… maybe I'm confused… Dizzy… thirsty…
"Steve, you're making a frowny face. Can you open your eyes?"
Could he open his eyes? Sure. Did he want to? Not at all.
"Now you're making a grumpy face. Come on, wake up."
Danny. The name finally came to him.
"Commander, you might as well… you know he won't give up until you do."
Who? Ah… Grover.
"Just be patient with him."
That was a nice voice… Cath? He could open his eyes for her.
Steve blinked in the dim light trying to blink away the dizziness. He finally raised his eyes to look at the figure seated on his right.
"Hey, you with us?"
His tongue tried to lick dry lips, but he had no luck. Suddenly a straw was placed against his mouth and he greedily tried to suck.
"Easy, not too much," the soft voice said again from behind him.
Steve turned his head and saw the woman smiling down at him.
He closed his eyes. Cath was gone.
Blood was everywhere. On him; his hands; his clothes. He couldn't wipe off the stains even though he tried swiping them on the bed.
"Hey, hey," the other voice said. He looked up at the tall, black man who was leaning over him and suddenly holding onto his wrists. He was trying to wipe away the bloodstains but they wouldn't let him.
"Get off, get off," Steve pleaded, raising his eyes to the person holding him down.
"OK," Grover replied in an easy tone. "Everything's fine… just don't want you to pull out any stitches."
Steve watched as the man sat back in his chair and he remembered an earlier conversation. Cath wasn't dead. The ghost hadn't killed her. He looked from Grover to Danny, both of whom were watching him like he had two heads. Maybe he did… his hurt too much for just one head.
His eyes slid closed as he mumbled, "Head hurts…" hoping to explain his panic. He heard murmured voices and the sound of chairs grating across the floor before a hand touched his forehead.
"Commander? I know your head hurts. How do you feel other than that?"
He opened his eyes once again and stared at her. "Like shit," he finally decided.
Steve heard Grover's deep rumble and Danny's bark of laughter.
"I bet you do," Liz replied. "You just had surgery this morning, so 'like shit' is a pretty good answer. But I promise I'll help you feel better in just a minute."
Steve finally managed to think past the hammering in his head. The last time he had seen Danny was when he left for the airport. He tried to look around the nurse. "Danny? The airport. Did you get him?"
"What? Oh, no… Steve, Mendez wasn't at the airport. He paid you a visit here."
"Huh?" Steve looked at his friends and then remembered Grover's voice pleading to 'let him in'. More blood. A knife. Steve tried to remember and shook his aching head to clear it. "Dreamed I killed him…"
"Well," Danny replied. "That part wasn't a dream. You did kill him."
Grover smiled. "Is that all you can say?"
"I… what? That was… was that real?"
"Oh, yeah, that was real," Lou confirmed. "That little stunt managed to shave about ten years off my life."
"I killed him?"
"You killed him," Danny said with a nod.
Steve's eyes slid shut. "No wonder I'm tired…"
"Hey, Steve, feel up to company?" Chin asked through the partially open door.
"Chin, yeah, come on in."
Steve was sitting up playing with the food on his dinner tray. His condition had been down-graded to "stable" that morning and he had been transferred to the Transitional Care Unit, still under Lizzy's watchful eyes, but not in a room with all the bells and whistles.
He had woken that morning and felt like a different person. And his lab work had confirmed that there were only traces of the digitalis left in his system, so he was different. Finally.
Chin entered and held the door open. "I brought a friend," he told Steve, watching Steve's face when he saw the SEAL commander.
"Chuck! What are you doing here?" Steve couldn't hold in his surprised smile.
Chuck Darcy crossed to the bed and shook Steve's outstretched hand. "Dog, I had to see it for myself. I got a call from Chin saying that you had managed to take down Mendez all on your own. The Navy sent me in for confirmation."
Chin handed Steve his phone along with the charger. "I sort of borrowed this," he said with a grin. "Thought you might want it back."
"Yeah, I wondered where it disappeared to. I figured Lizzy was hiding it from me." Steve pushed aside his tray of uneaten food and leaned back. "Good to see you, Commander."
"Likewise," Darcy replied. "From what I hear, you've had a pretty rough week."
"Yeah, from what they tell me. I really don't remember a lot of it. And… what I do remember is jumbled up with crazy hallucinations, so I'm not sure what all is real."
"Well, what is real is that you got him before he got you."
"I barely got him," Steve murmured.
"Let's keep it in the win column," Chuck replied. "Hey, Chin has graciously offered to take me back to base, so I need to get moving and catch my flight. But I couldn't come all this way and not see you. Take care of yourself."
"Will do. And Chuck… thanks."
"Anytime, my friend."
"By the way," Chin said. "CSU picked up a partial print on your neighbor's electrical box that matched Mendez. Apparently he took out their security system along with yours the night he visited your house. So, for the record, you were right… he was in the house."
Steve nodded and then grinned. "I knew it all along."
Chin smiled back. "I know you did." He opened the door to leave, but held it open. "What do we have here?"
Grover came in carrying two sacks of food. "Kamekona met me downstairs and gave me all this. Said hospitals still give him the 'willies', but wanted you to have some good food."
"Hand it over," Steve demanded.
"Looks like we need to get out of the way, Commander," Chin told Darcy.
"Good to see you, Chuck. Come back for a visit sometime," Steve called from the bed.
"I'll do that," the man promised, following Chin out the door.
"What's in there, Lou? I swear, I'm really hungry. This stuff in the hospital is—"
"—is what?" Lizzy asked, walking into the room. She smiled sweetly and reached for the food. "I need to check out that bag to make sure it is food you can eat."
"Oh, no… you can't take it back after I've smelled it," Steve told her, a puppy dog look in his eyes. "Please?"
Liz laughed at the pathetic sight before her and handed the bag back. "Captain Grover came by the desk. You have my blessing. Just don't overdo it."
Grover began setting out the containers. "Liz, he made up four plates… you need to take one, too."
"Take it," Steve told her. "Please."
"Well, I do love Kamekona's shrimp," she said.
"Here." Grover handed her the container. "Enjoy. I'll save one for Danny. He's coming by after he picks up his daughter from cheerleading and takes her to her mother's house."
"Thanks for dinner. Let me know if you need anything."
Steve had already reached for a fork and had swallowed the first bite.
"Hey, you." Liz smacked his leg to get his attention. "Don't overdo," she warned before walking out the door.
Steve nodded. He knew his stomach wasn't up to par, but the rice sure was good.
"You sure look better," Grover said, then savored his first bite of dinner.
"I feel better. Almost normal again," Steve admitted while shoveling in another bite.
"That's good, because you sure scared the shit out of me the other day." Lou shook his head. "Damn, Steve, first I thought he had killed you, but when Liz said you had killed him, I didn't understand what was going on. You wouldn't let me in the room and I could tell by her voice she was ready to lose it… and then I heard a thud. When she finally got the door open, I thought again that you were dead."
"From what she said, I probably should have been," Steve agreed and pushed aside his food.
"Yeah," Steve said and leaned back on the pillows. "Wasn't as hungry as I thought."
"Want me to get Liz?"
"Nah, I'm OK. Just don't want more food." He lay there for a few moments before asking, "Lou?"
"Yeah, what'cha need?"
"Nothing… when did I have the last hallucination? I kept dreaming the same things over and over."
"Well, let's see. That last day before Mendez showed up, you were pretty out of it. I'm sure that's where you dreamed. Why?"
"Do you think they are over?"
"The hallucinations? Yeah… they were from the drug overdose."
"But… we thought they were from… you know… PTSD," Steve said quietly. "What if they were?"
"Well, the drugs are pretty much out of your system and you haven't had any further hallucinations. My guess is that they are over." Lou set down his food and looked at his friend. "You know, even though PTSD didn't cause them, that doesn't mean you can't go to those meetings."
"Yeah, I know," Steve said. "There are some pretty good guys there."
"I agree," Grover said. "I really liked the leader." He shook his head, remembering his own battle with his demons. "I wish I'd had something like that back in Chicago."
"You know, you can come, too."
"Yeah, I know," Lou said and nodded. "Thanks for making me feel welcome. I could see that those younger guys really listened when you said something. You are good for them."
Steve shook his head. "I don't know about that—"
"Well, I do. They respected you."
"Gee, Lou, you make me sound like I'm ancient."
"Not ancient. Just someone who has been where they are. You have done stuff and seen stuff and have lived to tell about it. Let them know there is hope."
"Yeah, there is that," Steve agreed. "Hope is always good."
Epilogue… Three Months Later
"Hey, uh, excuse me, Commander?"
Steve walked down the steps onto the sidewalk and turned to see the young man who had called to him. "Yes, Mike, wasn't it?" Steve asked and held out his hand.
"Yes, Sir. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing today. It really hit home."
"This was your first meeting?"
"Yes, Sir. My fiancée urged me to come and I finally decided I needed to do so. We're getting married soon and I want to deal with some of my demons before that time."
"Smart move," Steve agreed. He glanced up to see a young girl walking toward them, a huge smile on her face.
"Hey, here she is now," Mike said.
"Lizzy?" Steve reached out and hugged the nurse when she reached them.
"Commander! It's so good to see you."
"You, too," Steve told her, then looked back at Mike.
"Mike, this is Commander McGarrett," she told her fiance. "The one I told you about. He's the one who gave me the information for this meeting."
Mike held out his hand. "Thank you, Sir. I didn't realize you were the one Lizzy had told me about. Thank you for caring enough."
"Any time," Steve assured them. "Hey, do you have plans? Let me take you to lunch."
"Oh, no," Liz said. "We couldn't."
"Why not? I know you like Kamekona's food. Let's go there. Come on, my treat. After all, I owe you my life."
"Are you sure?" Mike asked.
"Of course. But Mike, I've got a question for you. Are you really sure your fiancée is old enough to get married? I mean, she still looks twelve to me…"
"Yeah, she told me about that conversation, too," Mike replied with a laugh. "You're lucky you made it out of the hospital in one piece…"