Well, this is it - the final chapter. Thank you to everyone who has read, reviewed and 'favorited' this story. I really worked hard on catching up on my thank you's so I hope I have sent you a private note. If not, the slight wasn't intentional because I really appreciate each and every comment, including the ones from guests I can't personally thank!
I can't say "The End" without adding another huge thank you to Sym64 and Sockie1000. They have seen these chapters more times than they would care to and have always offered great comments and changes with each revision. I have learned that Ohana doesn't have to be a person you see each and every day but is the person you know "has your back". I truly value both of you… not only for putting up with me but for all the fun you have brought to my life!
Aloha and malamapono a hui hou… (I should make you look it up, but it translates as 'take care until we meet again'.)
Catherine leaned back and closed her eyes. Thankfully, she was finally alone and could try to relax. If one more person asked if she was OK, she would shoot them.
Hell, no, she wasn't OK.
In the last forty hours, she had been kidnapped, knocked around, stripped and mentally abused… no way was she OK.
Her ankle was in a foam brace and now rested on a pillow on the bed. Once the swelling subsided, she would get a walking cast. Thankfully it wasn't broken, but the ligaments had been torn and bruised as were her wrists after spending the night in handcuffs. The cuts on her neck were covered with several gauze pads. A couple of them were mere scratches, but others required the help of a plastic surgeon and a tube of Super Glue to close them, but she had his assurance that they wouldn't leave any scars.
The cuts were still stinging and she could feel a dull throb in her ankle, but with the help of some nice pills, she wasn't really feeling any pain.
All in all, she was alive and would heal. Yes, there would be chats with a Navy psychiatrist in her future, but that was good. She had no problem venting and was thankful she was here to be able to complain. Her goal was talking about what had happened and then put it behind her. Her plan was to also get Steve to see that therapist with her. She knew he would try to convince everyone he didn't need it, but that wasn't going to fly with her! But she knew which buttons to push to make sure that he attended a couple sessions with her… all for her benefit, of course!
Cath had finally managed to talk Holly and Dwayne into leaving, giving her some time alone. At Danny's request, they had come to the hospital with Steve and her. While Holly was her best friend, she had managed to turn into a Mother Hen in the time it took to get to Tripler. Danny had been torn over what to do; he wanted to go to the hospital with Steve, but he and Commander McMillan felt the need to oversee everything at the cabin, therefore he had 'appointed' Holly and Dwayne as designated caregivers. Catherine felt that she and Steve had lost all control over their lives once they had emerged from that cabin.
She had to smile when she remembered her rescue. Even now, hours later, it seemed surreal, almost like it had happened to someone else. Once Danny and Chin had come into the bedroom, things began to happen quickly. Steve had ordered the guys to get her cuffs off and while Danny quickly took care of the handcuffs, they had to search for a key to unlock the larger lock of the shackle. Chin finally found it in Beau's pants pocket and fished it out right before EMS came and took Beau away. Holly had then appeared with clothes for her to wear, and she finally got to go to the bathroom… but only with Chin carrying her! That had been a scene… she really had to go and was ready to hop if she had to, but Chin planted himself right in front of her and offered his assistance. She didn't know who was the most embarrassed, him or her, because she wasn't exactly clad in a lot of clothing at the time! But he was so sweet and kind as he carefully set her down that she rewarded him with a kiss on his cheek.
He had smiled and said, "We take care of our Ohana. Call me when you're ready to come out." He had then stepped aside and allowed Holly to enter before he closed the bathroom door.
She really loved this team Steve had hand-picked!
Steve had treated her like she was made of glass and during the short time she and Holly were in the bathroom, he kept asking if she was all right, wanting Kono to check on her. When Holly opened the door, Kono was standing with Chin, waiting. She looked up and said, "Good. You're out. The boss is ready to have a stroke because you're not back. He's got it bad for you, Girl." They had laughed as Chin swung her back up into his arms and deposited her back on the bed. EMS had wanted… and Steve had insisted… they check her out before she left the cabin.
Steve's friend, Mark, had flown the two of them, along with their entourage of Holly and Dwayne, to Tripler where she and Steve were immediately split up. Catherine had spent the next couple of hours in emergency and X-Ray before ending up here. Now, she was so comfortable, finally feeling able to relax from all the tension of the past two days. She felt herself dozing off but jerked awake upon hearing the door open. Stifling a groan at the interruption, Catherine opened her eyes to find Danny staring at her.
"Sorry," he whispered. "Didn't mean to wake you."
"I'm not asleep," she replied while smiling at him. "Just sitting here thinking about how lucky I am."
"How are you—" He stopped talking when she held up her hand like a school-crossing guard.
"I have already vowed to shoot the next person who asks how I am, so you might want to rephrase that question."
He held up his hands in surrender. "Duly noted," he said, pointing to the person in the bed next to Catherine's chair. "Can I ask how he is?"
"Of course," she grinned. "Steve is fair game. Surgery went well and he's just sleeping off the anesthesia. He was awake, but pretty groggy when they brought him into the room, but has been asleep since then. Dr. Mason is coming by soon to check on him."
"He didn't give them any trouble?" Danny asked.
"He didn't have the energy to give anyone trouble. He even fell asleep in the chopper… while sitting up."
"Well," Danny confided, "It's been a pretty intense couple of days. He came close to losing it a couple of times," he admitted, both of them glancing at his partner.
"Yeah, I'm sure," she replied. "I was so afraid of what he was going to do… if he even had a chance at finding me up there. And not that I'm complaining, but how did you figure it out? And another question, how did Commander McMillan get involved in this."
"He asked to help," Danny told her, slowly shaking his head. "Seems he's just another person who owes Steve a favor. And as for how we figured it out, it was a joint effort. Be sure and ask Kono why she has pink hair. I think she had fun last night." Danny glanced at the clock on the wall. "Now, would you like me to take you home? I know they discharged you, but you shouldn't stay in that chair all night."
"Holly said she's coming back at midnight to take me to their house, but I'm not budging. I'll call her in a few minutes and tell her." She looked back at Steve who appeared to be sleeping peacefully. "No way am I leaving him tonight."
"OK, I won't argue with you. Can I get you anything?"
"Danny, I've got all I need," she said with a smile.
"Who? That guy?" he asked, shaking his head and pointing to the sleeping figure in the bed.
He knew he should wake up, but for some reason, he just couldn't remember why. It felt so good to be comfortable and free of pain. He could remember that his arm had hurt and his head had been killing him for what seemed like forever. Now that the pain was gone, he didn't want to risk doing anything to bring it back.
How had he hurt himself? Steve knew he should know the answer to that question. Maybe if he just relaxed a bit longer, he would remember, so he allowed himself to float along, not caring if he remembered anything or not.
A few minutes later, voices began filtering through to his consciousness, annoying at first until he realized he could actually understand them. And then he recognized who was talking.
I've got all that I need. That was Cath!
Who? That guy? And Danny!
What have I done to myself this time? he wondered, trying to focus.
Before he could process everything, he heard Danny's voice again. "Think he's gonna sleep all night?"
"How can anyone sleep with you yapping?" Steve mumbled, opening his eyes and blinking in the dim light to see Danny standing over the bed, Catherine seated in a chair beside him.
They both grinned at seeing he was awake. He tried to turn so that he could see them better, but found he couldn't move. "What?" He raised his head and discovered that his left arm had disappeared. Completely. He was wrapped in a wide, elastic bandage around his chest, torso and shoulder, his arm hidden underneath. All that he could see was the tips of his fingers.
He dropped his head back to the pillow and groaned, "Why me?"
"Why you?" Danny shot back, waving his hands in the air. "Who else would go into hand-to-hand combat with only one functional arm? Especially in a fight with the guy who knew exactly what your weak spot was?"
It was all coming back to him. Surgery to repair his shattered shoulder. Crap.
Steve turned his head once again to get a good look at Cath, zoning in on her throat. "What did the doctor say?" he asked, pointing his finger in her direction.
Catherine scooted forward and reached for his hand. It was an awkward position because her injured foot was propped up on his bed, but she twisted around to get to him. "Everything is fine. They glued me together and the doctor said I shouldn't have any scars. Mostly the cuts were just scratches."
"Didn't bleed like scratches." He closed his eyes in relief, remembering how close he had come to losing her. "Danny, tell me you got them all."
"All accounted for. One dead, several injured."
"Is he still alive?" 'He' didn't have to be defined for anyone.
"Yes, he's downstairs in ICU with a guard at the door. And, much to the nurse's dislike, I cuffed him to the bed. He lost a lot of blood, but they say he will make it."
"Good," Catherine and Steve said at the same time, with Steve adding, "I can't wait to see him in court."
Steve yawned and closed his eyes, trying to shake off the sleepiness. He squeezed Cath's hand then pulled his away, raising it to his face and rubbing his eyes.
"Apparently we are boring you, so I'm going to leave," Danny said, grinning at his partner.
"No, sorry, don't leave. What time is it?"
"After eleven," Danny replied. "And you've had a pretty busy day, so I think you're entitled to another nap."
Steve rolled his head on the pillow to look at Cath again. "Did they release you or did you sneak in here?"
"I was properly released," she said, "and did not pull one of your stunts. But it doesn't matter… they couldn't have kept me away." She pointed to her ankle. "I have an appointment in a couple of days for a boot I can walk in, but other than being on crutches, I'm good to go."
"Don't go back to my house until they spring me from here," he told her. "I don't want you to be there alone. Maybe you can stay with Holly-"
Catherine shook her head. "I'm not leaving here, Steve, so don't try to argue."
He began shifting on the bed, grimacing at the effort.
"Where the hell do you think you're going?" Danny asked, smacking his partner's foot. "Be still."
"No, help me out here, Danno. Move that pillow."
"That pillow is helping prop your arm up," he replied, moving to the opposite side of the bed.
"Push it all the way against the rail," Steve argued while using his other elbow to raise his upper body and reposition himself. He grimaced again when the move jostled his shoulder but managed to move a few inches to the left. "There."
"There, what? What are you doing?" Danny asked again.
"Now help Catherine up here," Steve ordered.
"What?" she said in surprise. "I can't get in bed with you."
"Sure you can," he argued. "Who's gonna stop you?"
"Well, I can name a few," Danny said, and held up a finger. "First off is Dr. Mason, then any number of nurses, possibly even the cleaning lady and the security guard… just for starters."
"Steve, really," Catherine began. "I—"
Steve held out his hand to her, wiggling his fingers. "Come here. Danny, come on, help her get in the bed."
Catherine eased her foot from its perch on the bed and stood up. "They'll make me get out, but I'll play along for now." She leaned over and gave him a kiss.
"Trust me," Steve said. "This will work."
Danny helped Catherine lie down on top of the sheet, muttering, "If I had a dollar for every time you said 'trust me', I'd be a rich man." Danny stood back and looked at them trying to coordinate his broken arm and her injured leg. He relocated the pillow for her ankle and then spread a blanket over her. "There. You comfy?"
"See, that wasn't so hard," Steve said. "Thanks, Danno."
"I think this is my cue to leave," Danny told them. "Cath, I'll call Holly and tell her not to bother coming to get you."
"Would you? Thanks," she told him, snuggling onto Steve's shoulder. "'Cause this does feel pretty good."
"Pretty good?" Steve asked, with mock hurt in his voice.
"Good night, you two. Call me if they spring you in the morning and I'll come pick you up. Kono said she was going to stop by your house tomorrow to clean up after the CSU guys."
"Thanks, Danny," Steve told him. "See you tomorrow."
"Talk to you later." With a wave, Danny turned and opened the door to find Dr. Mason on the other side. He quickly glanced back at the bed and then stepped aside for the doctor to enter. "I assure you that I had nothing to do with that," Danny told him as he hurried down the hall.
The colonel peered over his glasses at the couple squeezed into the bed and then simply shook his head as he stepped closer. "I take it, Commander that you found what you were looking for?"
"Yes, Sir, I did." He glanced at her and introduced the two. "Lieutenant Catherine Rollins, Sir."
Catherine rose up to climb out of bed. "I'm sorry, Sir."
He waved her back down and moved to "Steve's" side of the bed. "If you can keep him in bed, then you have my permission to stay." The doctor set down the chart and re-positioned the pillow beneath Steve's arm before checking his fingertips.
"No swelling, that's good," he mumbled. "And they're pink, so there's good circulation. How does your shoulder feel?"
Steve started to shrug then realized the futility of that move. "Not too bad. Sort of a dull ache."
The doctor began to write in the chart. "Hmm… And your head?" He took out his light and clicked it on to see the stitches above his patient's ear. "We had to repair a couple of stitches. Care to tell me how they got popped?"
"Well, I, ah, they were… I sort of got in a fight, Sir."
"Yes, Sir," Steve admitted as Catherine snickered into his shoulder. "Stop that," he told her with a sheepish grin.
"Was the fight worth it?" the doctor asked, not quite able to keep a straight face himself.
"Yes, Sir, very much so."
"That's good, because I'm going to guess you'll have a helluva headache for a few days. You got your bell rung pretty badly. Two days in a row." He finished with the chart and flipped it closed. "OK, here's the deal. I'll be in surgery for a few hours in the morning. If you are a model patient tonight… and that means following all the nurses' orders and taking something for pain when they bring it…"
Steve opened his mouth to protest but the doctor made it clear he wasn't finished. "… and if your shoulder looks good when I check it tomorrow, I'll kick you out of here." He pointed his finger at his patient and finished, "But any more stunts like yesterday and I'll personally tie you to the bed. Am I making myself clear?"
He turned to leave, but stopped and gently removed the blanket from Catherine's foot. "Lieutenant, did they give you something for pain?"
"Yes, Sir," she replied, pointing to the bottle of pills on the bedside table.
Dr. Mason nodded, and then added, "If you need something stronger, tell them to call me. I'll tell the nurses that you have my permission to share the bed as long as the nurse can reach your IV tonight," he said, pointing to the port on Steve's right wrist. "And I expect you both to get some rest tonight… no hanky panky going on here."
They both grinned. "Yes, Sir."
"See you tomorrow," he said, waving before closing the door behind him.
"Told you it was OK," Steve gloated.
"Uh huh, you didn't know that," Catherine argued, fixing a stern glare at him. "And what did he mean about your 'stunt' yesterday?"
"Nothing much," he said. "I just sort of left the hospital without permission."
He looked at her and explained, "Because I had someplace else I had to be."
"Oh. Well… OK. Thank you. That was some rescue plan you put together, Commander."
"All that matters is that it worked," he replied in relief.
"How did you manage conning Commander McMillan into helping you?"
"He asked me if he could help," Steve told her. "And since he could sort of pass for me, he was in charge of the ransom money… which I hope someone brought back with them."
"You were going to pay Beau a ransom?"
"Well, no, not really," Steve admitted.
"No, I mean, yes I had the money, but I never had any intention of actually giving it to Beau. I'm not that stupid."
"Well, that makes me feel real special."
Steve turned to kiss her forehead. "You know what I mean and don't pretend that you don't."
She snuggled closer, turning onto her side. "I know. Thank you. You really are my hero." Her voice was very quiet when she added, "I was afraid you wouldn't be able to figure out where I was."
"Of course I figured it out. Well, with a lot of help. Besides… I swear I'll always come for you."
She smiled at his confession. "I know. And thank you. Last night isn't one I ever want to relive."
"Yes." She raised her head to look at him when he didn't continue.
Steve swallowed, but then just shook his head.
"What? Steve, come on. Don't clam up now."
He turned his head to stare into her eyes. "He took… your clothes… did he rape—"
"No! Thank God, no, Steve I swear." She placed her finger over his lips to shush him. "Nothing like that. And… you know I have to wonder if he even could. He was pretty messed up."
"That's an understatement," he said before kissing her finger that was still over his mouth. "OK, sorry, I just… well, I had to know. Because if he had, I would forever regret not killing him on the spot."
She looked at him and shook her head. "I know you better than that. You would have regretted it if you had killed him. Besides, I don't want him dead. He needs to stand trial and pay for what he did. Holly told me he had killed a girl."
"He'll pay," Steve vowed. "Don't worry about that. He's going to pay for everything."
Catherine laid her head back down on his shoulder and yawned. "Sorry. I didn't get much sleep last night," she admitted.
"I didn't have a choice," Steve said. "Danny drugged me, so I slept."
She laid her arm across his waist and snuggled closer, whispering, "It was so dark in the jungle. And then he—"
"Shh. I… saw the picture. I know. Just don't think about it… you're safe now."
"You might not realize," she confessed, "I know this is silly, but I'm pretty afraid of the dark…"
"No kidding?" Steve said, trying to sound surprised.
She glared at him. "OK, you can drop the act, I know you know that," she told him. "And thanks for not ever laughing at me."
"Never." And then he yawned.
They were quiet for a few moments before he spoke again. "Good night, Lieutenant. I missed you."
She smiled. She was right where she was supposed to be. "Good night, Commander. And I love you, too."